Saturday, September 29, 2012

Simplicity . . .

It seems like we're always striving for a balance of simplicity mixed with worthwhile activities in our family.  Sometimes I think, "We're too busy; there's too much going on."  And then other times I think, "I participated in more activities by this age than Anna has. . . is she doing enough?"   Are other families out there worried about the balance?  Am I the only one who doesn't want the kiddos very busy with extras (now or in the future)?  A lot of Anna's friends are already involved in SO much . . . they have some activity/practice/event every night.  Some kids and families thrive on that, I'm sure, but I'm not one of those people.  I love the relaxed downtime at home.  I think it's been on my mind alot because last weekend we had NOTHING on our schedule.  Which is rare.  And I loved it.  (We did have our regular 3 hours of church on Sunday.)   It was a great, low key weekend. 

There are so many good things to participate in; how do you choose?  We want our kids to be involved and develop their interests, but we also want to keep life simple with plenty of time that isn't completely structured or planned out with activities.  Anna just started first grade and so far she's done a year of ballet, a handful of "College for Kids" (science based awesomeness on Saturday mornings at NMU . . . love that she's so in to science stuff!), and swim lessons.  Last school year she didn't really do any official extras and that was mainly my fault because Caleb was so complicated, and also because of the whole house buying/fixing/moving thing.  Although I think if it was up to Anna, she'd want to join and try out everything.  Such a social butterfly.  This school year for Anna, we're considering a session of gymnastics at the YMCA (they're usually 6-8 once a week lessons), one more round of swim lessons in the spring, perhaps soccer next summer?, and Anna really wants to try out for the youth musical The Little Mermaid.  We'll see.  We're just going to let Ben do the preschool thing since that's going great for him, plus he's little and we don't want to overwhelm him.  Maybe next summer he'll choose a summer session for a sport at the YMCA or maybe he'll try out swim lessons? 

I know it's going to get more complicated the older everyone gets, which is why I want to always be aware and consider.  Anyway, enough rambling about what's been on my mind lately.  Speaking of down time, here are a few fun things we've been up to as a family at home.  Enjoy the randomness:

We had a dance party one night before bed with some glow stick glasses.  The videos Ethan took turned out cool and dark with little glowing figures moving all around.  Glowing or not, the kids love Ethan's dance parties!  :)  (And Caleb is a pretty cute little dancer . . . or more of a bobber, really.) 

This past Wednesday Anna had a half day, and we wanted to make it special since she isn't usually home with us in the afternoon.  During Caleb's nap, we got out our Fall/Halloween decorations and put them up, did a little sticker/paper plate craft, had some yummy hot chocolate, and snuggled up and watched a movie.  When Caleb woke up, we played out side in the brisk, sunny weather and collected fall nature stuff for a future project.  I LOVE fun, simple days with all my kiddos home. 

Anna sometimes gets to stay up a little later than her brothers.  We usually put them all in bed at 8pm, and tell Anna she can read for a little bit - til 8:30 or 9pm.  This night she talked Ethan in to having some Frosted Flakes with her, and looking through one of their favorite books - People by Peter Spier.  (Awesome book, totally recommend it.)  We love working in little moments of alone time with the kids.  They're so much more enjoyable when they're all split up.  :) 

So, speaking of alone time, Benjamin came into our room around midnight a few nights ago.  He never ever gets up in the middle of the night - he's usually the first to fall asleep and the first to get up (around 7:30am) and he's out like a light in between.  So we were surprised to see him, and enjoyed the snuggles, but were a little curious what the story was.  Well, earlier before bed, Ethan had shown Anna and Ben a small part of The Avengers movie we'd rented because Ben is obsessed with super heroes.  Well, apparently it was too much for little Ben-Ben.  He needed to hold his momma's hand and talk about how the movie was just pretend.  Sweetness.  Then he went right back to bed 15 minutes later. 

These pictures of Caleb J. are on here because my  last post had many photos of the older two on their first day of school.  So, it's his turn, and I love how they captured my sweet potato's personality.  I've really been enjoying my alone time with the chubbs, although it does seem to go quickly.  (Ben goes three mornings a week for three hours.)  And it doesn't seem to be quite as much of a break as I was picturing, since my almost 2 year old is always moving from one thing to the next and is still in the pretty time consuming phase - diapers, snacks, messes, active . . . you know, typical toddler stuff.  But like I mentioned in the last post, Cabers usually watches a movie for about an hour of that time, so I have a little bit of time to get stuff done.  And as for the rest of the morning - it's fun going on various outings with Caleb (although a little painful lugging him around :), but my favorite mornings are just hanging out at home, playing in his room or down in the basement family room, and trying to get him to TALK. 

Final pics - these kind of go along with what I've written about in this post - loving family time at home.  I think the only picture I've put on the blog of the entire outside of the house was last winter when we moved in . . . and I think the house looks even cuter surrounded by green of the leaves and grass and plants instead of snow.  hehe.  I didn't get any pictures this summer when everything was blooming in the front.  Next year.  These pictures show that one of our trees in the back is already changing color . . . and the photo doesn't come close to capturing the beautiful, vibrant red!  I see it out both of my kitchen windows whether I'm sitting at the table or doing dishes at the sink.  We see the beautiful colors from our big bedroom windows too, since they overlook the backyard.  Oh my gosh, it makes me so happy. 

I've said it in multiple journal entries before, but I'll say it again - I LOVE our house's location.  It's right in town and so close (walking distance) to so many things, but surrounded by beautiful woods in the back.  Perfection.  This is our first Autumn in the new house, and I am loving it. 

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