Tuesday, August 30, 2011

....and it begins!

We'll, I've survived our first two official days of homeschooling. The question is will I survive the school year being a homeschooling mama?!?

Yesterday was an exciting day for both Mairead and Lilah. They woke up ready to go to school! On Sunday, we went to the mall and they each picked out a "first day of school" dress, so they were very ready to get dressed in their special dresses and start school.

After lunch, I put Clara and Callum down so I could be with the big girls with minimal interruptions. We went immediately outside so we could do a little project for their first day. I've been a pinterest addict and found the idea there. One thing about homeschooling is that I want to make sure that our children get to experience all the "special" things about starting school. Just because they are being homeschooled doesn't mean it isn't any less special. Mairead is starting kindergarten, and for me, that's a pretty huge milestone for a kid.

Mairead's Kindergarten work basket
Once we came in, we went over some "rules", and did a few activities. For Mairead, she started to practice writing her lowercase letters, did some coloring, drew in her journal and had some computer time. For Lilah, she focused on the letter "A", practiced some mazes and did some coloring for her journal, too. I found mazes helped Mairead tremendously in learning how to draw straight lines and copy letters. Lilah did really great with them! I was really proud of how well each girl did.

Kevin and I decided not to do any particular curriculum with Mairead and instead try the Time4Learning online learning. It could be used as a full curriculum or just a supplement. For us, we'll just be using it as a supplement. We've bought some activity books for both girls, flash cards, etc. And we'll see where that takes us. Since we're both new to homeschooling, it will be a year of trial and error....probably more errors than success, but thankfully Kindergarten isn't that serious :)
Mairead's journal entry for today

Today, I had Lilah go upstairs for a rest and had Mairead stay downstairs to do some more work with her letters. I want to make sure Lilah stays excited for learning and school, and don't want to bore her, so we'll probably just do "school" with her a few days a week and see where that takes her...also, she's a December baby, so she won't be ready for school for another two years.

Here in Loudoun County, Virginia, elementary school starts before 8am, so I am very thankful to be homeschooling Mairead this year as I couldn't imagine waking her at 615am every morning for school. She'd be a bear by the end of the week! Another positive of homeschooling is that Mairead can wear whatever she wants while learning........

Even in her underwear :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Farm - Foto Friday

Over three years ago we lived here in Virginia. Our life here in Virginia was much different than it is now. When we moved to Maine, Mairead had just turned two, and Lilah was only five months old. Babies. Little Clara and Callum were just twinkles in our eyes...

During our time here in Virginia we used to frequent a place called Frying Pan Park. It is a great park that used to be one of Mairead's favorite places to visit. The farm has live animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, goats, etc - and it is a great place for learning, too.

On Wednesday, Kevin was home so we thought it would be fun to take the girls back to Frying Pan Park. The girls were excited to see some animals and explore a bit. Once we got there, we asked Mairead if she remembered going and she said no....does it ever make you sad to think children don't remember such a large part of their young childhood???

To put things in perspective...
Mairead, April 2008
Lilah, Clara & Mairead.....3 years later.
Mairead, April 2008
Mairead - isn't it amazing how much children change? 

She's not a baby anymore! 
....And there's Clara! 
Of course, prince Callum was sleeping away in his stroller, just like Lilah did when we were there the last time! Amazing how time changes everything, but some places never change.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bladder Control

After giving birth to four beauties my bladder control isn't what it used to be!

And today was a reminder of that...

You know before you have kids you hear on TV about women leaking urine or having all types of issues like that, and you think "Awe! That won't happen to me."

Well, think again! Unless you were one of the lucky ones who ended up with a c-section you may be left unscathed!

Since having Callum, I have been trying to get back in shape. Now that we are moved and fairly settled, I've been committing a lot more time to exercising. Since I am nursing Callum exclusively, I have to  make sure I am drinking lots of fluids, which means, lots of trips to the bathroom.

Today, I got sidetracked dealing with the kids while doing some jumping jacks and other crazy warm-up tricks before my run. As soon as Kevin came downstairs to watch the girls, I darted out the door.

As I am running up our hill, I am thinking "Uh oh. I have to pee"

But, I was too lazy to run back home.

Bad move.

So, I keep running. And as I continue to run, my brain is fixated on the fact that I have to pee.

What do I do? Keep running.

And I continue to think about it as my bladder is starting to scream at me!

As I am thinking about how badly I have to go, I am thinking how I am not in Maine anymore.

There are people everywhere. 

So, I continue to run. And run. And then I see a trail that leads off into the woods through some neighborhoods. Perfect.

But, the trails weave in and around homes. What if someone sees me? So, I keep going.

Then, it gets really bad, and the last thing I want to do is to pee myself. So, I start seriously looking for a place to go. As soon as I find a tree, two people pass me on bikes. Great.

I keep running.

Finally, I have no choice. I have to pee. IN the woods. Not in private. I find a tree, a big one. I squat down. And pee. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....

I pop up from my squat and start my way heading back home. Then, I get a hammy cramp. Great. This run is just going perfectly.

I keep running. And then I take some other trails, figure out that it isn't where I want to go. My hamstring is killing me. I get out to the main road and call Kevin.

Poor guy has to load up four kids, including a screaming baby who doesn't want to go into his car seat and pick up his wife. Yeah. I could have walked home, but it probably would have taken me forever.

Somedays it's just better to stay home and deal with the kids...and I've learned my lesson...Always go pee before a run! Peeing in the woods cramps my style!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today was just like old time Virginia for us! When we moved from Virginia we left some good friends behind that I am thankful to have kept in close touch with since May of 2008. Since then, we have been able to reunite each summer in New Hampshire, but today, was the first time we have had an official play date since May 2008.
Zoe, Mairead, Jasmine and Lily (all about 11 months)

Lily, Zoe and hair pulling Mairead (11 months)
Last year in New Hampshire (minus Clara)

And boy! times have changed...

When I left Christina and Jacie had just given birth to their second children, and Lilah was just 5 months old. Today there were 3 five year olds, 3 three year olds, an almost two year old and a 4 month old. Since we've returned to Virginia we've gotten together with Christina and Jacie separately, but today we were all together and it was so much fun!

It was so crazy in our house today the Earth shook! No, really! It really, really did! While the kids were running amuck, us moms were catching up in our kitchen. When the house shook. At first we thought it was my unbalanced washing machine - which by the way, didn't even have clothes inside....and then I thought it was the kids upstairs jumping on the bed. But guess what? It wasn't!

Lily, Zoe, Mairead, Quinn, Clara, Lilah & Eaton
Then, Jacie gets on facebook to find everyone posting about an Earthquake! We quickly turn on the news and sure enough a 5.8? magnitude earthquake rattled Virginia, which was felt all the way up through the Northeast! I called Kevin immediately to make sure all was okay with him. At first I couldn't get in touch with him as all the cell phone towers were jammed up, but then he texted me to let me know he was okay. It was pretty crazy for a while, but thankfully had good friends with me to laugh and joke around with...you know, only moms would have thought the shaking could have been a washing machine :)

While we watched the news, the kids (minus Callum) sat on the couch together watching a movie. We snapped a few photos and laughed at how cute they were. I called it the "Earthquake! party" :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

American Girl

Today we took a little adventure to the American Girl Doll store today at Tysons. We met some friends and spent the day "ooh'n and ahh'n" over dolls and headed to lunch.

When Callum was born, he "gave" Mairead and Lilah an American Girl "Bitty Baby". Callum made the mistake of not giving Clara one and of course, there was some tears shed. I felt so guilty, I knew we should have bought Clara one, too, but I honestly didn't think she would have been so upset. After that day, Kevin took Clara out to pick out a baby doll to make her feel better, but, I still had mommy guilt. 

Before we left for the store, I made sure Mairead and Lilah knew they would not be leaving the store with an American Girl doll today. Of course, Mairead kept asking why, but those dolls are not cheap and it's not just a toy you give in to...at least that is how I feel. I explained to the girls that today would be a look day, and if they wanted, they could bring their bitty babies shopping, and they could each pick out an outfit for their babies. Thankfully, that appeased them for the most part. Clara on the other hand got to pick out a new bitty baby - four months after Callum's birth and mommy was still feeling guilty. So, she bought one. 

Of course as soon as we walked in the store the girls started asking questions about when could they get a doll....maybe Christmas? maybe your birthday? Clara wasn't old enough to ask, but she eyed herself on a stroller with a bitty baby in it. Trying to get her to release the stroller was.......impossible? I picked out her doll, and when they cashier tried to give it to her, she threw it at the lady. She wanted the stroller. Nice. Thankfully, that didn't last too long and she was happy again! 

The big girls picked out their baby outfits and were excited to explore the store. The place is insane. You can get the dolls hair done.......for $14! Or their ears pierced....not the kids! the dolls ears! Whoever says there is a recession or the economy is shitty, obviously hasn't been to a store like this. For a Thursday morning, it was jam packed with parents and their kids. Their arms FULL of items, dolls, you name it....spending lots of money! I felt weird that my hands weren't full of items, just kids! 

I have to be honest though. I think it was a great lesson for Mairead to see that just because we go somewhere special that she doesn't always walk out with what she wants. For the remainder of the day all she talked about was which doll she wanted and when could she get one. I tried to explain to her that those dolls are very expensive, she is still young, and maybe if she showed us how well she can take care of her babies, that maybe Santa would bring her a doll or maybe we would get one for her birthday. 
Overall, it was a fun  day, and I think the girls had a lot of fun hanging out with some girlfriends! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homeschool preparations

A few weeks before we moved to Virginia I filed our letter of intent with the Loudoun County public school system. This was the first step in making it official to homeschool Mairead for Kindergarten.

Since our life has settled a little bit here in Virginia, I've had some time to really start to think about how I am going to tackle this huge undertaking to keep Mairead home from Kindergarten and Lilah from preschool. I haven't regretted making this decision for a single second and for the majority of the time, I am excited to tackle this challenge. And if you don't know me well, I like challenges.

From the moment we've made our decision final, I thought I'd not use a curriculum for Mairead this year. I thought it would be pretty easy to use various resources from workbooks to the internet to community outlets. But, for the last week, I have started to doubt myself and wonder if I am making a mistake. I am thinking I may need some sort of guide on what to do and when to do it. Having four kids makes my brain a big jello mush on some occasions, okay a lot of occasions, and the last thing I want to do is hold Mairead back. So maybe "winging it" may not be the best option for me or the kids!

I have already applied for a local Waldorf co-op for Mairead. I hope to have an interview with the head of the co-op this week. If we are not accepted, then I may opt for Oak Meadow which is a Waldorf based curriculum. I like this because it gives a different approach to learning and education, and the curriculum would allow Lilah and even Clara to easily participate and learn on their own terms. I like this. I like this because it sounds like a realistic way to homeschool our children without sticking Mairead in a book. Another curriculum I am looking into is an online based one called Time4Learning. I like a lot about it, and I love the fact that it is a monthly fee instead of putting all my chips on the table hoping that some curriculum will be great. If we like it, we keep going, if we don't, then we don't have to continue. I like it because it can supplement anything we are doing, so I don't even have to use it for the "full" curriculum.

Others I have looked into are: Sonlight, which I like because you can pick and choose which parts of the curriculum you want. For example, we are looking for a secular curriculum. Now, we are Christian. Catholic to be exact, and Kevin and I have had some doubts on how to raise our children with Faith. At this point in our childrens education, I don't want to mix the teachings of the Bible with ordinary education. I can completely understand why people want to - it's just not where we are at right now.

I have looked into the K12 and Calvert program, too, but, they are pricey and seem a bit academically rigid for us, and I am trying to stray away from that for Kindergarten.

Hmmmm.....there's a lot to do in a short amount of time. It is the middle of August and I need to get my ducks in a row to start playing school house here at the crazy Ferrie funny farm!

This will be another interesting challenge! I wonder where it will take us.................................

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's funner in Maine

This morning, out of the blue, Mairead says "I can't wait to move back to Maine."

I wasn't sure exactly how to respond (appropriately) to that comment because I was in agreement with her!

I asked her why and she responded "It's funner in Maine. Plus, I miss all my friends there."

We've been here two weeks, though for some reason, it has felt like a very long, long two weeks. The girls were so excited for the first week, but I think the last week has really got them homesick. And hell, who am I joking. I miss home, too. I miss my friends, too. I miss my family. But, we will continue to make the best of our (temporary) home here in Virginia.

I think the toughest part of moving has been friends. We had such an amazing group of friends back in Maine that it makes it that much harder here in Virginia. We have some great friends here in Virginia, but they don't live too close. We've met a lot of really nice neighbors, but none of them have children the same ages as ours. We've been to the pool almost every single day since we've moved here, yet, we've only made one friend. The girls have tried making friends with kids at the pool, but, they've not been very receptive or welcoming, and that breaks my heart. I don't want Mairead to think like she is failing at making new friends. And when she says "Mom, why won't she play with me?" or "Mom, why does she keep swimming away from me?" that just hurts.

Today, at the pool, the big girls befriended a five year old boy. At break, they headed for the baby pool to play. I was sitting with Callum when I got a strange vibe. I handed Callum off to Kevin and went into the baby pool to check things out. The boy says "Ohhhhhhhh.....there's going to be something smelly coming out of my pants!" and then a BIG brown cloud bellows out from underneath the kid.

QUICK! Think fast, I thought! I said "Come on kids! It's snack time!" - nothing a little bribery couldn't fix, and just like that, our three girls were saved from the brown cloud.

There goes that friend!

Kevin goes back to work on Monday and we have some playdates planned with some groups and I really hope they go well. The girls are so ready for some real friends they can play with on a regular basis....and as much as I love spending time alone as a family, I am also ready to meet some friends who don't mind grilling out, drinking some beers and having a good time.

But, no matter what, I'd have to agree with Mairead...

It IS funner in Maine!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Four months old...

I stared at our sweet baby boy for a while this morning as he lay snuggled into my side nursing away, wondering how it could be possible that four months have passed since he came into our lives.

I will admit, having baby number four scared me a bit, and I may have mentioned this before. I often wondered how I was going to manage four children. When I had our first, it didn't phase me. Number two didn't rock my world much either, and I was pleasantly surprised with number three (though looking back, Clara was a bit high maintenance), so I knew that number four must throw a wrench into my life somehow. When Callum was born and we went through his intense NICU stay, I often wondered how I was going to manage. Was his illness our punishment for not stopping with three healthy girls or for something else I/we did wrong? I know now that isn't the case, but of course, when something so traumatic happens to your family, you wonder what you did wrong to deserve this. But just as I look back to last year as Kevin was being sent to the gulf and think this is the worst thing ever you come out knowing that much worse can happen, and I think we were/are so very lucky with Callum. Things could have been much worse. 

Looking at Callum this morning made me realize just how lucky we are to have him in our life. He is the sweetest, easiest baby ever. Since he has come home from the NICU, he's never had a bad day. He wakes up every morning with a smile, and goes to sleep the same way. He is so easy going and he has showed me that life with four can be just as wonderful as life with one, two or three. He is a love. I love how he just goes with the flow.

In the last week, he has really settled into a real routine. He wakes up, takes a nice morning nap, plays for a while, takes an afternoon nap, plays a while, cat naps during the evening and then is ready to go to bed around 8-830pm. He had been sleeping 10pm-5ish, but since he's going to bed early, he has been waking around 4am. I can't complain. He nurses every 2-3 hours during the day, and is starting to get excited when he knows I am about to nurse him! He has a hard time smiling and nursing at the same time, too! Sometimes I find myself trying not to look at him so he'll eat and not smile so much! He still loves the swing for his naps, but is getting much better about sleeping in his crib. For the last week, he has slept the night portion of sleep in his own crib before coming into our bed. He loves to be swaddled, too.

I will admit that over the last few weeks I started to become a bit worried about his development. He hadn't been tracking toys, though, I knew he could see because he'd follow me, but I still worried. He wasn't grasping for toys, just looked at them. I admitted to Kevin that he concerned me. He was born one month early and being critically ill definitely set him back. Once I spoke to Kevin about it, things changed. He must have heard me! Over the last few days he has started reaching for toys, especially under his play gym. He is belly laughing now when we talk to him. He is starting to track a bit, too.

We are so very lucky to have Callum in our lives. He has taught us more about life and he continues to do so. He brings so much joy to our family. I could just look at him all day long. The move to Virginia didn't seem to phase him too much!

So, happy 4 month birthday to the sweetest prince we know! We love you so much, Callum boy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We're ALIVE!

Whoa! I can't believe it's been over two weeks since I have blogged last - you know, the hot night in Maine where we all went swimming naked in our backyard?

Since then, life got super crazy. Instead of writing a diatribe of a blog about the last two weeks, I will just post a hell of a lot of photos, and go from there....but the gist of the story is.....we had a shot-gun Baptism for Callum, had a moving party on the same day, the movers came that Monday, packed up our home in two days, we took off to spend our remaining New England days at my parents, the movers left for Virginia, we flew to Virginia, moved into a house we have never ever stepped foot in, unpacked and now trying to adjust to life in the fast lane............oh, and should I mentioned we saved a baby bird, too.

We went lobstering out in Casco Bay...remember, when it was 104 degrees? Yeah. It was hot. Even out on the water was hotter than hell, but still better than on land! The kids had a blast together. We caught a few lobsters, and the kids helped bait the traps, band the lobsters, and all sorts of other cool stuff. It is one of our favorite Maine things to do with the kids. We will certainly miss it...

The kids learn about lobsters

Waiting to bring in the lobster trap

Me and my great friend, Dawn

Our friends son threw Clara's dress overboard! Oops! She didn't care though, as she was already naked :)

On Saturday, my brother and his family came up for the day before the Baptism. We went to Scarborough beach together. The kids had a lot of fun together. It was sad to think that our beach days were very numbered in Maine...

Lilah and Landon

On Saturday evening, we had a shot gun Baptism. It was a last minute thing and we wanted to get it done in Maine as it proved to be quite difficult to Baptise Mairead when we lived in Virginia previously...so, we did it! And managed to tie it in with a going away party for us! The Baptism went well, but it was soooooo hot during Mass that the Priest cut the service short! Poor Callum was too hot to wear the Baptism gown (which used to be my wedding gown) so the Priest said he could be naked! So, little Callum stayed naked through the Mass until it was time for the actual Baptism - we then got him dressed so fast! It was quite funny to see a naked baby in Church!
My brother and Carley with Callum

Our "attempt" at a family photo before the Baptism...mind you, it was in the high 90s and we were all sweaty and hot! 

After the Baptism, we held a little going away party with our good friends at our house. It was so great to see everyone, but sad to have to say goodbye to all of our amazing family and friends. We had an awesome turn out and thank everyone for coming. The kids had a blast playing with each other. We had our infamous waterslide up and that was a huge hit with the kiddos!
Me and Kim, she was one of our very first friends here in Maine.

Me and my love

My mom and Mairead
On Friday morning, my mom flew with me and the kids down to Virginia. Kevin and my dad drove our two cars down and met us down there. It just seemed surreal to think we were getting on a one way flight to Virginia and not going back "home"...The kids did awesome on the flight. Mairead and Lilah did soooo awesome! They were so excited. Clara was a little antsy, but overall, did really well, and I should mention Callum slept the entire flight. When people saw we were on their flight, the look on their faces told the story, but, our kids surprised everyone and did fantastic!

On Saturday morning we met the moving truck bright and early at our new home. It was hard to believe we would be living in a house we had never stepped foot in...you know, the crazy rental market here in Virginia kind of forced us to do so, and thanks to good friends here in Virginia, they were able to scope it out for us. The kids were so excited to watch the men unload the huge truck right in front of our house.
See all of our crap??? 

My parents were so helpful with unpacking and with helping the kids. It was great to have them here, but sad to say goodbye...it will sure be an adjustment living away from family again.

And if life wasn't exciting enough...Kevin went out into the garage the other morning and heard "chirp, chirp, chirp"- yeah, a baby bird...I called a local vet to referred me to an emergency vet who takes in wildlife animals. The man recommended us try to find the nest, and luckily, we did. Kevin placed the sweet bird back into its nest in hopes it's mother would come back or he would be strong enough to fly on his own. After a while, Kevin went back to check in on the bird, and he was gone...I'm just hoping we don't find a dead bird in our yard anytime soon! The girls think he's safe, and I hope that's true!