Sunday, October 26, 2014

You're Homeschooling?!

About a few weeks ago I posted the above collage with the caption "Homeschooling is the best! #ilovemyjob" and I got quite a few "What? You're homeschooling?!" responses. I suppose the confusion is more than justified given I have a 3 year old and 11 month old, neither of which require any formal schooling at the moment. But, yes, for the record, I am homeschooling! As much as I try, beg, and plead for my little ones to look at ABC flashcards and practice writing, I am NOT schooling them, but two other beautiful, bright children!

To make a long story short, the Christian school my niece attended did some major downsizing a few years back so that it only went through 2nd grade, and then prior to this school year it did some more downsizing and it just wasn't going to be the ideal environment for her. While I am SUPER on board with the idea of creating or up-sizing a new Christian school in Woodstock (in fact I am praying this will be a reality by the time Tyler is ready for kindergarten), I also was more than willing to provide an alternative schooling environment for T, thus I offered to homeschool her.

After some serious soul-searching and an unexpected career twist this past spring, I decided I really wanted to stay home with the kids and Jordon was totally on board with the idea. While we played around with the idea of homeschooling, it wasn't really until the end of August that I had two students "enrolled" in "Robinson Academy," Taylor and one of her 3rd grade classmates, Thomas. I'm also watching my nephew Lucas, my two little ones, and my friend's son Jackson who is 2 (part-time). Yes, some days we have an utterly crazy, full house, but I am loving every second of it. I have never been more at peace with a decision and I have never been so non-anxious to go to "work" on Monday mornings.

I must be crazy, right? Maybe. But these kids are amazing and have such beautiful hearts. It's awesome to hear the older ones sound out a word they've never read before, or to hear them repeat something I've taught them. It's so fulfilling to ask one of the little ones something about the Bible study we read a few days ago and have them remember! I love seeing the older ones carry little Juliana on their hip, or hand her a toy when she's fussing, as if they were really her older siblings. Plus, I can teach in the order I choose, use the materials I want to, and come up with fun activities that make learning interesting and entertaining (hopefully!). So pretty much, I have the best job in the world.

I'm hoping, as long as the kids don't keep me way too preoccupied, to post some of the fun stuff we're doing on here... I have a feeling it's going to be an awesome year!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why I'm Mom of the Year (And Why You Probably Are Too)

I think it is second nature for every mom to be overly critical of themselves... I mean we are raising human beings who are the future of our country (no pressure at all!). Ever since Tyler was born, I've been no exception to that rule, and have constantly nit-picked the things I do as a mother. For example, I remember sending him to daycare one day this past spring, and realized at about 10 am that I had forgot to send his nap stuff I had washed over the weekend. I felt TERRIBLE. How would my precious, sensitive son feel if he was the only kid without his nap stuff and had to sleep on an uncovered, sans-pillow cot at nap time? (I totally drove the 40 minute round trip to bring it to him by the way). Or there was the time I let Juliana nap on the couch while I was in the room with her, and during the 60 seconds I left the room to grab a snack I heard the dreaded thump of her falling to the ground. (No harm done thankfully, except to my mom-ego).

But recently I've been spending a lot of time with my children and they have helped me realize that no matter how many mistakes I make, or how I may look to anyone else, they love me unconditionally and I am their Mom of the Year.

In the middle of the night when Juliana cries, there is no one else she's rather have scoop her up and hold her than me. She lays her head against my shoulder and she seems so comforted and at peace because I'm there for her. When Tyler wakes up in the morning and pulls me into his playroom, he is so excited for ME to play with him. When I rock his Spiderman mask and Nerf gun, and ask him to help me hunt the "bad guys" in our house, he'll laugh and laugh like he's never seen anything funnier and I translate that to "you're the funniest mom EVER."

So while the world may see a mom who spoils her son by letting him wear pajamas to the store or lets him have M&Ms after breakfast, I'll choose to see a mom who picks her battles because she'd rather wear pajamas to the store herself and totally enjoys a little dessert after breakfast. And while the world may see a mom whose house looks like a tornado went through it some days, I'll choose to see a mom who had a BLAST with her kids and probably helped make some of the mess. While my facebook friends may see a mom who is way too open and/or obsessed with breastfeeding articles, I'll choose to see a mom who is proud to give up her time and energy to nourish her children the best way she sees possible and definitely wants other people to understand the importance of and support her decision. And while everyone may see a mom who has no make-up on and is likely wearing the same yoga pants she wore the day before, I see a mom who cares more about having her kids fed, entertained, and dressed than getting dolled up herself. And as for Tyler and Juliana, no matter how I look, they just see Mom.

So I'm done criticizing myself for the "mistakes" I make in mothering, and worrying about how others see me as a mother, because to my precious kiddos I'm the best Mom in the world. And that makes me Mom of the Year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Conversations With My Toddler: The Birds and The Bees

Is it sad that I had my first sex talk with my son before he was even 3 years old? Well, it's true, and it went a little something like this:

Me: Alright Tyler, let's put your undies on and cover up your wee-wee
Tyler: No, cover up YOUR wee-wee
Me: Mommy doesn't have a wee-wee Tyler!
Tyler: Yes you do
Me: No I don't
Tyler: Yes you do!
(meanwhile I'm thinking Really?! You're going to argue about this with me son?) 
Me: No I don't, only boys have wee-wees
Tyler: Does Jules have a wee-wee?
Me: No, Jules is a girl so she doesn't have a wee-wee
Tyler: I have a wee-wee, Daddy has a wee-wee, you don't have a wee-wee, and Jules doesn't have a wee-wee

...yup, my child is a genius.

And even better was a our talk about boobies...

Tyler: Does Daddy have boobies?
Me: No, only Mommies have boobies so they can feed their babies.
*Tyler lifts up Jordon's shirt and sees his nipples*
Tyler: Daddy does have boobies!
Me: Well, those aren't exactly boobies...
Tyler: Does Jules have boobies?
Me: Well kinda...
Tyler: Show me your boobies!

I sure hope I never hear those four words out of my son's mouth again!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

7 Reasons Babies Put Everything In Their Mouths

My daughter Juliana will put ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in her mouth. Today I had both kids out "helping" me weed the garden, and I spent more time pulling rocks out of Juliana's mouth than pulling weeds out of the garden. Then later in the day while wading in our baby pool, I caught her reaching over the edge of the pool trying to put gravel from the driveway into her mouth.

So I caught myself thinking, "why in the world does my baby want to put EVERYTHING in her mouth?!" I figure if I asked her, "Juliana, WHY are you trying to put that rock in your mouth?!" she would say...

1. You don't feed me enough.

2. Tastes about the same as that organic vegetable crap you feed me.

3.  I have pebbles breaking through my gums right now, so I think I deserve to chew on a few rocks.

4. I've been on this earth for almost 9 months already and I still don't know what a rock tastes like.

5. I don't get enough attention.

6. I'm on a low carb diet.

7. Because I want to.

And I'm sure I'll be getting plenty of #7 when she finally learns to talk. Oh parenthood, gotta love it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Budget Busy Boxes

Being an professional pinner on Pinterest, I've seen information about "busy bags" often. Fill plastic baggies with one activity each and *boom* you have hours of entertainment for your little ones. In preparing for one of our recent road trips (we travel way too often), I realized I needed something along the lines of busy bags, but I didn't want to bother with several bags of activities. Plus I needed to include some other road trip essentials. I decided I could make busy BOXES and do it on a budget. I made one for Tyler (3) and figured I should make one each for my niece (7) and nephew (3) as well. For all three I managed to get by with spending under $20. Here's what I did:

The boxes I filled were old wipes containers... might as well not waste them! Then I filled them with snacks like peanut butter crackers, fruit snacks, and trail mix in plastic bags. I got some from the Dollar Tree and used some of what I had in the cupboard since I needed to use that stuff up anyway. There's nothing more grumpy than a hungry toddler, plus each snack will buy you about 10 minutes of "are we there yet"-free travel time.

Then I made a snack necklace kit to include in the box. I filled a plastic bag with foods with holes in them (pretzels, fruit loops, lifesavers gummies, etc). I also included chocolate covered pretzels, but for a summer road trip, I'd skip them haha. I pre-cut a piece of string and had Tyler string the snacks onto the string. I tied it around his neck and then he could snack! This kept him busy for a good 20 minutes.

I included some antibacterial wipes as well. The Dollar Tree has a 3 pack of 10 count Disney Pixar themed wipes which worked perfectly for the 3 kids. Those didn't buy me anytime, but I was definitely happy to have them after I realized what a terrible idea chocolate covered pretzels were in July.

I also put some stickers in the box so they could decorate the box (or themselves).

Finally I put together an on-the-road scavenger hunt list for each child and included it in the box. The items on the list were easy to spot things such as a McDonalds, a green sign (sort of a freebie for the little ones), a camper, a blue truck and so forth. For each item they found, they could pick a ticket which said either "toy" or "candy," without looking of course. Then they could trade in their tickets for candy (small things like Hershey kisses or lifesavers... some leftovers from Easter haha) or a toy (little things from the Dollar Tree that worked as entertainment as well like glow sticks, rubber band bracelet kits, coloring books, etc). Between the actual hunt and the entertainment from the prizes, I'd say I got an hour of distraction from this activity.

And the price breakdown for what I spent on my busy boxes (for 3 boxes):

Wipe boxes: free (thanks to my mommy friends!)
Snacks: $2
Necklace snacks: $5
String: free (I had it in my craft supplies)
Scavenger hunt prizes: $5
Scavenger hunt candy: free (we had a lot on hand)
Stickers: $3
Wipes: $1

$16 for about 2 hours of entertainment? I'll take that any day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Salt Dough Prints

Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching my adorable little niece (well, technically she's not my niece, but it is much easier than saying my "husband's cousin's daughter"), so I had to come up with something to entertain three little ones under three. A couple years back, Tyler and I made a salt dough handprint for Jordon for Father's Day and I had meant to make one with Juliana's handprint for Father's Day this year, but the whole two-kid thing has totally made things crazier and sometimes my plans don't happen.

I figured we could mix up a whole batch of the dough, which Tyler would enjoy, and make prints with both girls' hands. As expected, Tyler loved mixing the dough up... not so expected was his entertainment from burying some of his action figures in the dough (my motto... pick your battles). I split the dough that wasn't covering Captain America and friends in half, made circles (MUCH harder than you'd think), then got the girls to press their hands down for a print (also MUCH harder than you'd think!). They baked for awhile and ta-da! pretty prints! Then I spent an hour sweeping all the excess flour and salt from not only the kitchen, but the rest of the house where the kids tracked it. Nothing new in the Robinson household.

Here's the recipe (for two plaques):

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
1/2 cup warm water

- Mix ingredients (by hand is the most enjoyable and efficient way to do this)

- Shape into two circles (I press them into the bottom of a bowl, pull them out and then adjust as needed).

- Press hand (or foot) to make a print and write name/date (I used a toothpick) if desired

- Bake at 200 degrees F for 3 hours on non-stick cookie sheet

- Use plastic spatula to pull up plaque and let cool on cooling rack

Overall I'd say a pretty successful afternoon!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Little Girl!

On Tuesday the 22nd, we welcomed our little girl, Juliana McKinley, into the world at 10:57am (at a measly 6 lb 11 oz!). What a wonderful experience it was! I had a relatively easy labor and delivery with Tyler and thought I wouldn't get off so easy this time, but I was lucky yet again.

I had my last day of work the Wednesday before baby was born because I was so mentally exhausted and the commute to Harrisonburg and back was killing my back. My due date on Friday came and went with no baby and I was super frustrated. Tyler was 6 days early so I was expecting this princess to enter the world early as well, but no luck. So on Monday, 3 days past D-day, I went in for my 40 week appointment and saw Marty, the midwife who delivered Tyler. She knew I was anxious to have baby here, but I didn't want to plan for induction at all. I know pitocen (the drug used to induce labor) causes very painful contractions and I didn't want to deal with that while trying for another natural delivery. We planned to have a non-stress test (where they monitor baby's heart rate) and an ultrasound (to check amniotic fluid level) on Friday to ensure I could safely continue to carry baby, and to set an induction date that day as well. She told me we could plan for 42 weeks (which would be the following Friday) so hopefully baby would have plenty of time to show on her own before then.

Well, she did. That day I cramped all afternoon and at midnight I started to have contractions. They were about 8 minutes apart and not terrible, so I waited awhile to see if it was the real deal. I couldn't sleep and decided to clean around the house and shower and they picked up in frequency and intensity. In fact, I had to get on my hands and knees in the shower to deal with the pain (although it really wasn't as bad as labor gets... maybe a 7/10). Well Tyler woke up coughing (he's been fighting a cold) so I laid with him for a bit and my contractions slowed down but continued to be intense. Once Jordon and I realized Tyler wasn't going back to sleep and my contractions weren't stopping, we decided to take Tyler to Grammie and Da's and slowly make our way to the hospital. By 6:30am we were checking into labor and delivery.

My contractions kept spacing out when I'd lay down, to about one every 8 minutes, but when I was up and about they were about 5 minutes apart. I was nervous that they'd send me home once we got there because they were so far apart when they were monitoring me, but they checked my cervix and I was 6-7 cm dilated, so it was go time! They were going to break my water to speed things up (with Tyler I didn't dilate past 7cm until they broke my water), but Marty was coming on at 8am, so I told them to hold out until she got there so she could deliver. I walked around a bit, used the birthing ball and labored until Marty got on. She offered to break my water and I chickened out because I knew the pain would get so much worse so she told me to walk around a bit more and then we'd check back in a little while.

So we walked the halls and I had some pretty bad contractions, but they really weren't coming any closer than 4-5 minutes apart and then would space out anytime they had me in the bed to monitor me. I finally decided I was ready to celebrate my daughter's birthday, so I asked Marty to break my water. Before she did, she checked and I was 8-9 cm (much to my surprise!) so I knew we wouldn't have to wait long. Marty stayed and helped me labor through contractions in bed for about 20 minutes after they broke my water, and then we decided I should get in the jacuzzi tub to labor more since the contractions were definitely more intense.

I got in the tub and it was wonderful. They told me I could stay in 20 minutes, they'd check the baby's HR, and then if I wanted to stay in another jet cycle, I could stay in 20 more minutes. Well after 18 minutes I felt something drop/pop/ or lock (I really don't know how to describe it), but after that moment I was in a lot of pain and had an intense urge to push. I yelled at Jordon to get someone, and the nurses rushed in to get me to the bed and ran to get Marty. It was time to push and at first I was terrified (because I remembered how much it hurt and I really didn't want to tear) and exhausted from not sleeping at all, so my push attempt was so weak haha. But once I put my mind to it, I was able to push her out in ten minutes. Much easier than my 1+ hour of pushing with Tyler! And no tearing (thank goodness!). We had a little scare because baby's heart rate did start to decelerate and her cord was wrapped around her neck, but my midwife is amazing and handled the situation so well I didn't know until after I delivered that anything had been wrong. I was able to pull her out once her shoulders were delivered (just as I did with Tyler) and hold her for about 40 minutes after she was born before they even took her to weigh her. It was an amazing and really peaceful experience. Definitely easier than my last labor, and I feel like I can't even brag about going natural again because God blessed me with such a relatively easy experience. I saw one nurse in the hallway the next day and she said "Oh you're the natural laborer! You were cool as a cucumber at 7cm!" I wanted to say, "it really wasn't that bad!", but I appreciated the credit haha. Maybe I just have the world's highest pain tolerance or determination. Either way, I'm just happy to have a healthy baby girl now.

We are all at home now and getting used to our family of four. Tyler absolutely adores his sister. The first thing he said when he saw her picture was "she's tiny" and when he met her for the first time he pointed to all her features and said "her eyes... her nose... her mouth..." haha! And while holding her at home the other day he looked up at Jordon and said "I'm happy." It was the sweetest thing. It is definitely harder bringing baby home when you have a toddler, but we are all adjusting and working on balance now.