Monday, August 26, 2013

Some Firsts

I feel guilty. There has been a lot of "newness" in our home and I haven't documented any of it. Well, not exactly true...I have documented it, I just haven't  put it out on the ol' worldwide web. Well world, here it is - a few firsts in the life of the many Corleys. 

My dear sweet Koala has embarked on the world of higher education...where paint and children collide, where stories are told and dances are danced and there are too many kids basically...everywhere. Tristan has begun preschool. My heart was very nervous the first day - I was scared that he would cry or feel confused or wonder why it was that HE....the third child in the bunch...was the only one donning a backpack on the first day of school. His teacher was (IS!!!) so super sweet and understanding and put my little at ease instantly. She has a sweet smile, and to Tristan that's all that really matters - a nice smile and yellow cheese and you're his friend. 
 It has been almost three weeks and he has done really well. We figured out that he has a hard time going if he is the only kid in the car on the way to school ... his lip trembles and his chin tucks into his neck and he mumbles "don't want to go...just stay here." My heart shatters just a bit when this A LOT. But he works through it with a little bit of  "Oh, you will have SO much fun at school with Miss Sylvia and you will play and laugh and then you can come home and have some lunch with yellow cheese."
 Problem solved. 

Finn is undecided on the situation. He misses his Minion Rush friend (for all of you not in the *loop*, Minion Rush is the game for kids...a bunch of little yellow cheeto looking men run mazes on your iPhone, trying to get as many bananas a possible - life changing material for sure.) 

Little Bug is happy though about the extra time with daddy. While I'm doing school with the older kids Zac keeps Finn busy with learning the game of golf...wearing nothing but undies and socks. I wonder how many men wish they could ditch the dockers and polos for this more relaxed attire? 

Bugs don't mind wet grass...and this little is no exception. 

Koala doesn't have school on Wednesdays so we are using that day for field trips or play dates and stuff like that. Zac has been wanting to take us to Estes Park forever and it was certainly rewarding. It was very gorgeous and I think I must have either said the words or thought the words "I wish I could paint that" at least, ohhhh, 45 times or so. I was looking out the window at the evergreens and pines, the bright bright blue sky and the soft clouds and all I could think was "God is the most awesome artist ever." I just totally appreciate His skills --- what a huge gift.

We packed a picnic the easy way (snagging some sandwiches at Subway) and then tried to locate a picnic spot. There were signs that said there were picnic tables but we couldn't see them from the road...there was a parking spot though, a very very small parking spot for such a huge National Forest. No matter though, we got the kids out, strapped Finn into the backpack and started down the trail....and kept going...and going....still no picnic tables. We went a little further and got to experience crossing a creek only using a log for a bridge...with four kids...sub sandwiches...water bottles...and a rather large camera. It was an experience, and somehow no one got wet. 

The kids were given maps with plants and animals to identify. They did a really awesome job and pretty much loved the whole experience. Brady did well with about half the walk which is usually more than he can handle. Brady does not like the great outdoors very much. The different noises...birds flying, wind through trees, crickets chirping and bees buzzing...well....they just don't do his heart good. In fact, they irritate him a lot because they are unpredictable. The fact that he did well for half the time I'm going to take away as a "score." I'm proud of my little Brave Brayden, and he was stoked to learn all about the Continental Divide and that we were going to cross it a little later on in our trip. 

Trinity was enraptured with the hidden mushrooms and the wildflowers....Tristan preferred spotting elk droppings...and Finn just loved the trees. 

By the way, we never found picnic tables and our trail disappeared. We DID find bark that had been scruffed up by an antler recently and of course the before mentioned "droppings" and also a patch of tall grass that has been rolled in. Almost elk finding success.

The lovely aspens...they make my heart sing.

At the end of our time we finally spotted a mama elk and her baby - and no, no picture of our find....I apologize. I was too busy taking pictures of the purple pine cones that I couldn't be bothered with the whole purpose of our locate where the elk were, to spot them, to take 100 pictures of the elk and count their racks ( you do that with them or just with deer?) and then to tell every living soul how many elk we found at Estes Park. Zac really likes elk...we found two. The mama and it's baby - supposedly it was the wrong time of day to see them or something. It doesn't matter though...I found mushrooms, droppings, and purple pine cones. 

And  now...totally off subject - but another new thing that has happened

wait for it

I made my first souffle. I somehow managed all 7 steps came out all puffy and golden and it was delicious and I was proud of myself. I tried something new. 

Homeschooling the kids is going a bit better then I expected and for now, I chalk it up to my laid back approach. Yes, I can be 20% laid back from time to time...the other 80% is mostly faking it but I think that's okay. As long as my littles get to learn about the Continental Divide AT the Continental Divide, and the are learning how God made our earth and reading maps then I'm pretty happy. I think they are too. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Craft Tutorial : Paper bag pocket book !

I was looking for kid crafts online the other that I actually would have ALL of the materials for....and found this idea. I don't have the link for the original...but Trinity and I made a tutorial of our own! Enjoy and get creative...frugally!

I let Trinity decorate this one with cut outs from her coloring book and she made up all the words...I wrote them. :) Wouldn't it be cute with pictures of recipes on the pages and the recipe written on the "hidden note"? Another idea is for Valentines day with hidden love notes and heart stickers and flowers maybe cut out of magazines? At Christmas or birthdays it could be decorated with pictures of family or friends with gift cards or dollar bills tucked inside the pockets....heck, a pair of socks would probably fit! 

Closer to the Clouds

 "Mama, mama...come quick!"
 Oh those words - never knowing what's on the other end of them. A puddle of pee perhaps? Maybe a successful "alone" art project, one of the boys hanging out of a tree, a lady bug on a flower, self made bangs .... or today a wild mushroom found in a patch of grass.
On this particular day, Trinity was calling me to see Finn's great accomplishment. They had taken apart my wooden chair and made a ladder out of it, turned the play climber on it's side - and Finn had successfully climbed to the top. He was sitting there, as still as a stone....staring at the sky. At first I was a little scared seeing my baby up high, and I refused to take away from his accomplishment by...well....smothering him with worry? He wasn't worried - he was just staring at the sky with eyes that said "wow, I'm a little closer to those clouds."
 I love watching kids learn new things...I love seeing life through their eyes. I wonder when this goes away? I wonder why later on in life, it becomes so easy to see *mundane* things as just feeling unsuccessful? I draw a picture and I never look at it and think "wow, look what I just did!" I usually see where I should have shaded the picture darker or where the lines are off...then I hide it away in a secret place just for would be too embarrassing to show off something that wasn't perfect.
  But children, they celebrate you. They celebrate all of you. They clap when you count to ten, then listen attentively to when you sing and say things like "wow, you sing soooo pretty." Trinity tells me that my art is beautiful even though I don't fee like I'm "there yet" and generally say "when I'm about 45 I'll give away my painting as gifts...because it will take me that long to be any good." My kids scribble me a picture, their eyes intent and little heads to close to the paper, their tongues sticking out of the corners of their mouths, concentrating on their work. When they are finished they jump down and run to me and say "I made this for you...can we stick it on the fridge?"
 When my kids don't have a lot of toys...because the DON'T, they build ladders out of chairs. Trinity takes old oatmeal containers and transforms them into fairy houses....Brayden uses all of the clothes in his wardrobe to design costumes - Finn and Tristan take over my measuring spoons and cups and bowls. They find something and they make it work - they are creative. I learn from this. When the budget is low I'm tempted to walk around my house *wishing* I could run to Hobby Lobby for new art stuff...the kids are teaching me that I can just use what I have. Last night I really wanted to paint and didn't have a canvas. I remembered....and I grabbed a canvas I had already painted on but didn't really like - and just painted over it. :) It worked perfectly. Problem solved.
 Children can feel like a burden...but really they are the light. No wonder The Father loves them so much - they are so innocently wise and "raw." They tell you what they want, when they want it...they are honest. They have to be taught and directed .... but kids are the light. Kids are real friends .

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9 -10

 As I'm preparing for a new school year and the gigantic task of teaching Brady and Trini at home, I want to go in it with joy. I want to remember not to compare what our family does and learns with what other families do...what's the point in homeschooling if you still have to have the peer pressure at home? I want to remember to learn from my be creative in our learning and to make it FUN. I want us to be friends, I want us to be honest, I want us to be happy for each other's  accomplishments....I want to look at the sky and feel closer to the clouds.

Thankful for :
- soccer time with the kids in the yard
- that it's still Popsicle season
- a successful math lesson with Trinity
- that I didn't die in the soccer game when I slipped on the ball and bashed my shoulder into the ground three boys are gonna kill me...eventually.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Not Enough...

  "Look mother...Brady and me made this bouquet all by ourselves."
 My ear twitched a it always does when she calls me "mother" - I mean it is rather formal isn't it? But then when I saw their little heart twitched - it was just so perfect. I mean...i am their mom so perhaps I'm a little biased (not really...I call a spade a spade) but they did do a really good job - it has balance right? Then with the two little sprigs of wild sage poking out I think it's just beautiful. So, as usual in my Alyssa fashion - I had to take at least five pictures of the one arrangement. What is it about children, about us...that we are born with this desire to run to our mothers with flowers?
  Trinity and I had to go check on our garden. It isn't big...but it's our space. It's the only part of my backyard that feels like "me", that gives me pleasure. I feel like this one tractor tire full of dirt and tomatoes and flowers is like having a little piece of "me" in the middle of  a city - and every time I see it I know someday I will have more. But for now, if it's quiet enough and the weather is just right (cool and breezy, the sun setting and casting a golden glow on everything) I can face towards the fence and only see green and plants and bumble bees and the splintered wood and I feel like I'm somewhere else...somewhere calm and mine. For now I take joy that I can plant a pot in my kitchen, in a tire in the backyard of a rental. But someday, Zac says he will build me a lovely rock raised bed...that staggers. I believe him.
  We picked our pineapple mint tonight and talked about how wonderful mint is...the smell, the texture, the cooling taste. We talked about how wonderful it is for someone with a "sick" tummy, or to put a few drops of peppermint oil in a bath to feel refreshed. We talked about how awesome the Creator is to fill our earth with plants that we can use for healing...that we can just pop into our mouth and know it is good.
  My daughter will be a very self sufficient woman when she is older - this I already know. She already works hard, takes care of her room and loves to arrange and rearrange furniture (i have no idea where she get this from.). Often she will come to me and say "I watered your tomatoes this morning mom" and "need me to make your bed?"  She works with her hands...she serves others. Trinity Sky is my own personal blessing - she is my joy.

Go to the ant...
  Consider her ways and be wise
Which, having no captain,
   Overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer,
   And gathers her food in the harvest. 
- Proverbs 6:6-ll

  Then to end the day, water with lemon and our harvested mint....little hands reaching and pointing and a little mouth saying "watta " , so I give him a sip out of the "mommy glass" and he can't get enough.
   Then, the simple blessing of all of my kids getting along for at least a hour...playing together at the end of the day...Tristan overcoming his fear of being sprayed with water (he is terrified of being splashed and doesn't like the sound of sprinklers or the bathtub filling up...however he is obsessed with trickling water, it calms him.) And they play and they play and they play...and they can't get enough.
  Finn preferred standing next to me, gnawing on his pita bread - the peanut butter squishing between his fingers, him giggling at the antics of his brothers and sister running around the yard, shrieking and giggling in the cooling grass. His eyes were very focused and fascinated with the "big kid play"...and if he weren't so tired and hadn't given up his nap...he would have played too. You know how it goes with littles and play...they generally just can't get enough.
  And then, just before bed a quiet show...a cherished blanket wrapped around a perfectly chubby body, two growing feet and ten relaxed toes...
 ...and then the feet curl, the body's natural response to "i'm dang tired" and then the yawn...
 ...ahhhh, and the toes relax again and the head goes back and mama is convinced it's night night time.

But just before....
...Big brother wants to show off his toes too and his massively large feet. When the camera clicks he says "an I see it?" I repeat "anD I see it?" He smiles and nods, his eyes looking at my mouth...never my eyes...and he giggles at his long wrinkled feet. Oh my, and I just can't get enough.

I'm happy today for :
~ a little girl that delights in nature
~ a little boy playing in water and conquering fears
~ a son who when I started "1st grade review" so he would be ready for the 2nd grade books in a week...well, it was a waste of time - the kid knows MOST things. I declared him "ready."

I would love to see improved :
~ a potty trained Finn
~  Tristan being able to communicate
~ for Brady to "get" that crude isn't funny - it REALLY isn't and he thinks it's what people do when they want to make friends. Oh dear.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A New Day...In the Same Life

  The days are passing by quickly in our little home...some days long and hot and very unstructured...with bread and cheese and fruit dinners - some days with more rhythm and creativity....but each day my littles are growing and changing and becoming more and more a part of me.
 My old site Longing for Simplicity is still up, just not running. I'm keeping that blog alive because it holds to much of my past, my treasured memories. It shows my family growing from one little two month old baby to four lovely littles - I discovered myself through that blog and it was always a place of joy for me, a place that was just mine where I could write about all that I had been learning and loving, where I could hash out the many twists and changes my life has brought me over the last 8 years.
  But, the truth is...I can't visit there anymore. I can't open that "old" space without feeling a tremendous about of joy that in some indescribable very painful. I began that blog when Brady was just a baby, and I had one set of dreams of how my life would he would be.  I knew what path I wanted to be on and I honestly thought I knew how I was going to get there. I named my blog Longing for Simplicity because what I wanted my life to be simple and wholesome - keeping my kids close to me, healing naturally, I had visions of living somewhat "off the grid" and having this awesome sweet family connection.
 Autism isn't simple...not one part of it is. Finding out Brady had autism shook my world, and then after our third child also being diagnosed with autism I kind of just fell apart...slowly. I know, how does one fall apart slowly? They just do. Day after day, having an ideal for your day and it not happening, you go to sleep thinking "I can't accomplish what I wanted to, I wasn't the person I wanted to be...I will try again tomorrow." Then, trying again tomorrow and the same horrible things happening, again and again..being trampled on a daily basis - my son not being able to feel empathy for me or others...I became completely defeated.
 I never gave up on my family...but I did doubt the core of my beliefs...from my love of my Creator (I doubted Him and His plan for my life as a mother) to how I nourish my family physically and emotionally and spiritually...I doubted my creativity and my love of herbs never went away but I wasn't pursuing them. I stopped crafting - I think I just had to disappear, to reach rock bottom and rediscover myself - and my new life.
  Nothing about my life is simple - morning time, lunchtime, dinnertime and bedtime - it's all a mes. So to daily open up a blog where I am vulnerable under the title "Longing for Simplicity" ...well, it's time I quit longing. It's time that I begin again with what I have.
 Over the last few weeks I have felt God holding me. It's been a long time since I've felt that way...generally I just sit there and scream "WHERE THE HECK ARE YOU?!" I never heard an answer...I never felt an answer - I didn't really understand I still don't completely.
 One day I was looking at my daughter and her little face wasn't very happy...I had been noticing that she had been changing. Trinity has always had a very joyful spirit her whole life - and what I noticed on this particular day is that she was feeding off of me. The light in her eyes was gone, because it had disappeared in my own. Children reflect what they see - and what was in the core of me, was anger, sadness, disappointment and loss.
 So, I started to think. I started to remember. The only difference between now...and the time when I was at my "peak " (you know...the most awesome time of your life?) was that, besides a world of hurt I had never imagined, was that I no longer was pursuing His Love.
 He was never gone...but I needed to push a bit I guess. Maybe I needed to run, I did and for the most part it was miserable. Looking at the inside of me MOST of what I was wasn't good, it wasn't joyful and patient and kind. It was horrible.
  I'm craving my heavenly father again. It's the only way I will ever survive this life - is the hope that only He can bring me. Others have completely failed me. I have failed myself - He has not. It's not His fault that I have kids with autism, or that we had to live on food stamps for a year and foreclose on our lovely little home, or that I moved super far from all of my friends and have never known such horrible loneliness. It's not his fault that my grandparents died or that my baby brother has known such horrific pain or that my family lives so far away I can't even call them on most days - and if I could there wouldn't be much to say because I don't entirely know them anymore. It's not His fault. The BAD is not his fault. He didn't create the bad. But He will walk with me, and He will take care of my babies, and He will keep Zac and my marriage thriving. He will be my hope because I have no other.
 That's why I have this blog...I'm going to work daily to put light in my children's eyes, to give them the sweet days they so deserve...and so do I. Trinity is doing better...she has been full of laughter and has started a new hobby of cutting out paperdolls that I (cringe) allow her to tape all over her room. She asked me to be "happy more" - So I am. I'm making it my priority.
  So...there's the introduction - now on to the good stuff.
 ... a lovely little thrift store find. Yes, that is yellow leather edged with studs. Be still my heart. To the side I have a Goodwill  basket and I kept looking at those long branches you can buy at hobby lobby and then thought "well heck, I'll just spray paint some limbs that are lying in my back yard." And I did and I love them. Easy peasy idea - and cheap.
  I've taken up painting's my new hobby and some day...just maybe someday I can take lessons. I did the one of the aspens by watching a youtube tutorial...
  And then I painted this barn...also by watching a tutorial. The Internet is a wondrous thing.
   Zac and I were able to talk with a "financial person" and found out  that we will probably need to rent for two more years before looking for our "house of dreams." Rather disappointing for me just because I would love to feel where I am is where I'm gonna stay. But it's not instead of LONGING I'm just making this place more homey. We found this old entertainment cabinet and Zac primed it, painted it and then let me do the fun job of tearing it up with sandpaper. So, there are the changes around the house...I will be sharing more later - but this post has gotten rather lengthy and littles are needing their I'm off for now.
 Have a lovely Monday....
~ Alyssa