If it’s any indication of how long ago the first day of school was for our boys,I’ve already had parent/teacher conference with Noah’s 1ST grade teacher; it took place a month ago!  Our boys began school the end of August.

It hasn’t been easy having the kids back in school- our freedom to do whatever we want during the day is limited now, as well as my sleep… kids have to go to school, which means mom (that’s me) has to be up by 5 or 5:30a.m. (don’t worry, I’m usually asleep by 10 or 11p.m.- no late nights for me! Though I have had nights that I’ve even crashed by 8, just after getting our boys in bed for the night!); if I want to get lunches packed, breakfast made, myself showered and dressed, all 5 boys out of bed, showered, dressed and fed, beds made all before we head out the door before 8 and then again at 9 for school, I can’t choose to sleep in.  My mornings are so crazy busy; it feels like every morning I’m running a marathon just to get my kids out the door on time! (and somewhere in between all the madness of my mornings, I STILL need to figure out how to squeeze in a good workout on the treadmill- if anyone has anyone advice, please share- I’m starting to think my only option will be to start waking up at 4a.m. to workout).  {As if my mornings/days haven’t been crazy enough- since school began in August just until recently, a.k.a. yesterday, I’ve been watching my sister in laws 6 month old son twice a week for 8 hours each day while she and her husband teach school- our boys LOVE smothering their baby cousin with hugs and kisses and they’ve been great helpers helping me watch him but it has been all a bit overwhelming and on those particular days I feel like I’m pushed into overdrive! I’m glad I’ve been able to help their little family for the time being but I’m relieved they’ve found a new permanent sitter so that now I can shift out of overdrive and maybe (???) take it a little more easy- if that’s even possible with my 5.}

 

Our boys all go to school, and return home from school at different intervals during the day.  Originally I wasn’t a fan of this day by day plan, but it’s actually worked out quite nicely.  Noah heads to school first, which leaves me time to just worry about getting our 4 younger boys ready for the day…  Ian heads to school an hour after Noah does and 3 times a week I take Cohen and Bentley to preschool immediately after Ian’s caught the bus for school.  Twice a week for 2 hours while Cohen and Bentley are both in preschool, I take Atticus with me and I volunteer in Noah and Ian’s classroom…  it’s been a great experience helping the teachers and meeting my boys peers…  it’s also been helpful seeing what kind of students my kids are in the classroom…  I’d hate to be one of those parents who send their kid off to school not knowing that their child is a HOLY TERROR in the classroom!!!  It can happen- fortunately I’m happy to report our sons behave better than that in class. {b.t.w. Atticus is very well behaved while he’s with me in the classroom… he’s content just sitting in his stroller and eating the snacks that I’ve packed for him}.  I pick Cohen and Bentley up from preschool first, then an hour later I wait for Ian to get home from school off the bus… we eat lunch, practice a little bit of reading, play a little bit and then Noah makes his way home from school on the bus, with enough time to get his reading for his homework done, the boys all get a little playtime together and then it’s NAP TIME!  Glory be!  I LOVE that our boys all still nap!!!  {I thought about letting Noah skip nap time now that he’s 7 and in the 1ST grade, BUT, after a week of trying it, I’ve determined he still needs it.  He won’t always nap the entire time so if that’s the case, he’ll just lay in bed and read books… He ABSOLUTELY LOVES TO READ!!!! Naptime/quiet time- it’s mandatory in this home!}.  Spencer usually {unless he has any meetings or parent/teacher conferences or Book Club} makes it home before the boys wake up from nap… once everyone’s awake, we follow up with homework and finish what needs to be done {I never EVER imagined I’d complain already about the homework load our boys are getting already, but I guess with 4 in school, I should have expected it!  I just can’t imagine what and how much homework my kids will all have in 10 years!!!  We need to start  saving for tutors!!!}… then I hurry and make dinner, while defending my kitchen from little enemy invaders, a.k.a. children- it’s combat! While dinner’s cooking, our boys usually play and enjoy time with Daddy home, we eat, clean up, get ready for bed, gather for family prayer and scripture study, Noah does his breathing treatments (sigh… they’ve started again. already.  I HATE giving him breathing treatments.  We only had a 3 months break from doing them- that was during the summer) and give kisses to each boy before putting them to bed.  If I haven’t done it already, I’ll usually head back down stairs, s0metimes, I’ll have to finish eating my dinner, pack the kids backpacks for the next morning, set out the clothes they’ll wear the next day, clean up dishes and start the dishwasher. I’ll begin a new load of laundry in a the washer, fold the load that’s been waiting for me in the dryer and then, I climb into bed hoping for a miracle to occur that somehow I’d be given more hours of sleep during the night than I actually have… that’s the routine, day to day… of course I didn’t mention the play dates with friends, shopping, doctor appointments, trips to the skateboard park, zoo or dinosaur museum that we like to take or cub scouts -which I’m in charge of leading, usually here in my home, every week on Wednesdays…  Yep. Wednesday’s are my insane days- after yet again, another busy morning routine, from about 1-6, I’m busing thinking/preparing for/pulling off scouts (I love my leadership position in scouts but HATE all the planning and work behind it).  During the summer, I couldn’t wait for school to begin again so that our boys could be on more of a routine- it felt like we had too much free time during the day then-  on any given day we could have friends over to play, then we would swim at the pool for a couple of hours, eat meals, grab snow cones, then visit the zoo, nap, visit with the grandparents; it always felt like we were still left with a gazillion hours of free time during the day to fill! {Please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SUMMER and I LOVE family vacations!} But now that our boys ARE in school, I can’t wait for school breaks!  I can’t win…  one of these days I just need to realize that raising/caring for a family of 7 isn’t meant to be easy- it’s not a race! * I need to being DOING what President Uchtdorf shared during his past recent October 2012  LDS General Conference talk, “Of Regrets and Resolutions”…  he shared that “Sometimes we find ourselves so focused on the finish line that we fail to find JOY in the journey”… he also shared that his own wife has had to remind him “it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”  Click here to read the talk in it’s entirety.  This talk is a great reminder to me that I NEED to slow down. Though I admit, I struggle with knowing how much is too much to slow down with a large family like mine- we’ve just recently cut out a lot of the play dates we used to do, partly because we’ve had no time to do them and partly because I’m trying to simplify our life we live and let’s just face it:  inviting additional little 3, 4, 5 ,6 and 7 year olds over into our home for something like 2 hours every day or every other day just isn’t simple… not when I have my own 1, 3, 4,5 and 7 year old… oddly enough- I haven’t felt that guilty about downsizing the play dates either…  my boys have each other and it’s important for them to play with one another and strengthen their brotherly relationship…  we have a different family dynamic than your usual family…  ours family is BIG and our children aren’t spaced out in age quite like a lot of others are.  Of course I want my children to be able to play with their friends, but if I try to plan and host play dates with each of their friends, once, even twice a week and I’m busy every morning/afternoon doing it, then when will I have the time to do anything else?!  They’ll be fine.  In a few years they’ll all have the privilege to arrange their own play dates with friends… supervision then will only be minimal… my goal as of late has been to slow down and focus on me. Focus on my family… NOT what everyone else in this world around me wants or expects us to be doing. I need to start finding JOY IN MY JOURNEY!  Not that this relates necessarily, but you better bet I keep telling myself how thankful I am we opted out of FALL sports this year for our 3 oldest boys!!!  My stomach gets in knots just thinking about how BUSY (exhausted… overwhelmed!)  we’d be if we had to add games and practices into our cRaZy busy family life!  I really struggled with the decision whether or not to sign them up for Fall soccer, but then I reasoned with myself and acknowledged the fact that we have 5 boys!  Chances are we’ll probably be enrolling them in sports and attending practices/games for the next 15-20 years x5!!!  10 years from now I envision my Saturday’s will probably be spent all day, every week of the year at.the.ball field! Taking a break now, isn’t going to hurt any one of my sons chances of making a team later.  They’re all still so young- none of them were going to be trying out for the Utah Jazz basketball team next year (or probably not ever!)… Speaking of basketball… Jr. Jazz basketball begins in January- our older boys would like to play but I’m still slightly hesitant to sign them up because that means I’ll be adding craziness to our already crazy schedule… then again, the months following Christmas- January, February and the first of March really are always kind of slow going…  I have another week to decide… Noah came home with a flyer about a new youth wrestling league in the county… he wanted to do it…  I’m kind of a sucker for sports… if getting my kids to and from different sporting events wasn’t so much work (and time, oh and $$$) I’d probably have them signed up for everything, so naturally I started to actually think we would let Noah wrestle, but when I consulted Spencer over it, he killed that idea with just two words “cauliflower ear”… um yeah- he had a good point- I don’t want any of my sons to have “cauliflower ear” by the time they’re 8!

 

Anyhow, Noah’s REALLY enjoying school this year!  He has a fabulous teacher and he also has made some really GREAT friends at school; he never seems to have any problems making new friends and those friends he does choose to spend most of his time with are just in general GOOD.KIDS.  I doubt any of them will become twerps as they grow older (it’s a horrible truth to admit to, but Spencer and I actually kind of filter through our kids friends…  we don’t choose them for our kids, but we kind of pick through them. Since we’re the ones arranging play dates for our boys, we try to encourage them to play with the kids who are respectful, well behaved and show a desire for learning- they’re the kids who are creative and have imaginations… they’re not the kids who come over to my house and ask immediately upon seeing our Wii, to play video games… these are exactly the same things we want our boys to be so why not hope their friends exhibit the same qualities?!) Noah’s been doing EXTREMELY well in school- in fact he knew all of his sight words for the entire school year at the first assessment… he’s reading on a fourth grade level and his math skills are top notch for first grade. His teacher said during parent/teacher conference that she usually calls on him for answers if no one else in the class knows the answer; she’s always pretty confident he’ll know it. He’s aced everything he’s been tested on… So basically- the kid passed 1ST grade even before he began! He could be 2ND grade, because he knows almost ALL of his stuff to pass 2ND grade too (of course he only missed the cut off date by 2 weeks) but we’ll just keep him in 1ST where he belongs because he is smaller than most his classmates (he’s shorter than all of the boys but one and he’s shorter than nearly all of the girls) and Spencer and I both believe he should advance at the same rate in school as peers his age (I’ll take Spencer’s word for it; he works with 200+students every year).  It may not seem like that big of a deal right now while he’s still so young, but age among peers makes a HUGE difference as kids get into Junior High and High School.  He’s still learning in the 1ST grade- {while he aced all of the hard stuff, he still needs a little more help learning the months of the year- OOPS!  That’s my fault- I don’t think I’ve actually taught him. He knew 9 or the 12. } I appreciate that his teacher is encouraging him to continue learning at an advanced pace and it’s really been helpful having a teacher in our own home, because Spencer knows exactly how to help our boys have FUN learning!!!

Okay, I’m done rambling for now…

I hope you enjoy these pictures from Noah’s first two days of school!

{Spencer’s school district he works for didn’t start school

until a week after our school district resumed school,

so this meant that Noah got to eat breakfast with Spencer

on the first day of school and Spencer got to walk him out to the bus!}Okay, so the following pictures are actually from Noah’s 2ND day of being in the 1ST grade…  there really aren’t any particular reasons I took these pictures other than the fact that I ordered all of his new school gear/clothes a day too late so they didn’t arrive until the evening of the 1ST day of school which meant he couldn’t wear them until the 2ND day of school (are you following me?  Does any of what I said make any sense???)  Anyhow, I could have been “the good mom” and actually gone to do school shopping the week before at the mall or Target, but, I prefer to take the lazy approach and get the.best.discounts doing it online… +it’s kind of a thrill having packages show up on my front door step!

These two kiddos below also began school!!!  They’re both in preschool.  They’re in separate classes; Cohen is in the 4 year old program that focuses on reading {we’re HUGE fans of this preschool’s reading program- it’s the.best!}.  I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about having to remind or hound Cohen to get his studying or schoolwork done…  he’s motivated!  He’s eager to learn and he’s always the one asking ME first to help him with his homework! Bentley is in the 3 year old program. He’s learning his colors, shapes, letter sounds… you know, the basics and then some.  Both boys LOVE school- I’m glad… for a while there I was nervous about starting Bentley in school.  He barely made the cut off for the school age requirement… he turned 3 only a week before school began… he’s such little guy but as it turns out, he couldn’t be more ready for it!  The staff at the school absolutely LOVE him. The director told me he’s one of their favorite kids…  it probably helps that he has TONS of confidence and he’s so cheerful and sweet… and who doesn’t love that he’s so little but has such a big head… it’s like looking at an orange on a toothpick… and his eyes- oh he has the.cutest. blue puppy dog eyes.  He’s a tiny guy but he’s got a great BIG personality!  And he’s always singing a tune- it doesn’t matter what he’s doing!  I think Bentley’s adjusted so well to school because he has 3 older brothers who have been going to the same school before him.  It’s familiar to Bentley.  He’s learning extremely fast and if I didn’t think he was really wise and mature for his age before school began, well I certainly think so now!!!

I made this special gluten free chocolate, mint chocolate chip ice cream cake to celebrate our boys first day of school.  I tried it last year for the first time, but this year it turned out about 10x better (I still don’t know WHAT I did differently)!  I may or may not have had seconds, even thirds on it.

* I’ve added a new step into my cRaZy morning routine…  it’s helped reduce a little bit of the craziness during my mornings and it’s been very enlightening…  I’ve decided to start listening to conference talks while our boys are all still asleep but I’m busy unloading the dishwasher, packing lunches and school bags and straightening up things around the house.  I usually have time to listen to about 2 or 3 talks, but sometimes I may only have the time to listen to 1.  Either way, I LOVE it!  It feels good to refresh my soul and hear the prophet’s voice as I start my day. The council I hear listening to the talks has been extremely helpful through out the rest of my day.  I’m still no Mother Teresa—  I have many rough edges and have many things I need to work on to make me a better person {#1 being patience and #2 being more soft spoken} but I can see the difference that adding this new step into my life is making.