Monday, October 20, 2014

I May Be a Seasoned Mother

Some have suggested with so many children I am somewhat of a seasoned mother.  Tonight, I am here to tell you that I know nothing.

I have a two month old baby who I cannot figure out what to do with.  He is on absolutely no kind of regular feeding schedule.  I can't get him to nap in the daytime for more than about 15 minutes at a time.  That sweet new baby smell is constantly masked by his very stinky gas.  Stinky gas that is not comfortable for him either, so he's pretty fussy.  At night he will only sleep nestled right by me, which doesn't make for very restful sleep for me and doesn't do much for Abe and I having time together.  He is not happy to have anyone but Abe or I hold him.  What the heck am I doing?  Shouldn't I have this baby thing down by now?

Let me just say that I have a new appreciation for myself and all those constant years of having babies or being pregnant.  You see, I thought that when George was weaned, 3 years ago, and I started running and ran two half marathons and a full marathon, that I finally had a handle on life. I had matured.  How good that I had disciplined myself to wake up early.  I ran a tighter ship here at home with chores and had figured out how to balance home-time with extra-curricular activities.  With my new found self-mastery I could easily handle a calling at church.  I was so proud of myself for keeping up with my children's school work and teaching them to put first things first.  Oh, how wise I had become!


DOUBLE HA!  I hadn't matured! Self-mastery-- What a joke!

No, I just didn't have a baby anymore.  Babies are hard.  They are a lot of work.  Of course they are sweet and beautiful and bring a piece of heaven into a home.  But WOWSERS!  It is so hard to get anything done.  I'm so proud of myself for all those years straight of having a baby or being pregnant.  How did I do it? Nowadays I am having to remind myself that the lack of discipline in my diet, and days that I don't go walking, and the days when we don't get all our school work done are NOT because I am lazy and unorganized.  Rather I am almost constantly feeding and caring for a high-need baby.  I am consumed in keeping another human being alive and happy. 

Now, all babies are not equal.  Some upset the flow of the home more than others and Peter is probably average for one of my babies.  I know I've dealt with more challenging newborns, but, I'm feeling rather worn out.  My solace is that all of my young babies are very high maintenance, but then they seem to mellow into quite manageable toddlers and downright delightful preschoolers.  So, I am not discouraged past hope.  I know things will get better.  

Realizing just how powerful the "baby factor" is makes me feel like I want to apologize to my younger self.  Apologize for all the criticism I put on myself for not doing things better.  If I could go back I would tell my younger mother self what a fantastic job I was doing!  I'd congratulate myself for making a meal.  I'd compliment myself on the clean clothes everyone had to wear.  I'd point out how great it was that I did the dishes.   Way to go, Me!--being patient and reading that same story to the kids for the hundredth time.   I would reassure myself that the kids were going to turn out just fine and do the best I could, but to not worry so much.

Tonight I will try to imagine my future self, fifteen years down the road, talking to my present self.  "How wonderful that you taught the girls to do their own laundry.  Good job getting Clark to all of his play practices the last couple of weeks.  Way to go-- being patient with Faith while she learns to help make meals.  It was good of you to take the time to read and practice the piano with Cannon and Faith.  You took the time to snuggle with George at bedtime.  How good of you to prepare that lesson for church even though you were so tired.  You're doing a great job.  Don't worry, your children will all be responsible, faithful, kind adults starting families of their own."

As it is, babies are hard and I have a baby.  The day will come when I will function at a much higher level again.  The alarm will go off and I will easily rise and hit the pavement.  My dishes will be done before bed.  I'll check off lists of all the things we get done all day-- or better yet, I won't have to check things off of lists because I'll just be able to remember what to do without writing everything down.  Abe and I will go on real dates and talk in our regular voices in our own room.   

It will happen.  I feel a little better now.  Still tired, but better.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Boy and His Dad

Abe scored two tickets to the BYU game last night.  A friend offered them on Facebook and Abe quickly called and snatched them up.  Then came the question of who he should take with him.  We both agreed that it was about time Cannon had a night with his dad all to himself. 
I got one look at these pictures and I couldn't believe how old he looks.  Cannon told Abe, "This is probably the best thing you've ever done with me!"  He loved it and was so happy.  Cannon is such a cheerful little guy that the whole family was really happy for Cannon to get to be the one to go with Dad.  Lots of hugs and well wishes for him as we said goodbye. 

And since Abe and Cannon were off to have such a fun time, I decided to take the rest of the gang to the discount theater to see Maleficent.  We hadn't seen it and I was a little bit hesitant because I don't feel comfortable when stories are twisted so that evil is portrayed as good and vice versa.  However, I was very, very pleased with the movie.  It was excellent and we all enjoyed it and had good discussion on the way home.  Good post-movie discussion is what makes a good movie for me!
The little kids' family room fort that served as their sleeping quarters for a couple of nights. 
Peter's baby toes.  They are one of my favorite things in the world. 
 The latest generation of Little Kids' book club:)  This was our second meeting and we're missing a couple of kids, but we had a wonderful time discussing Caddie Woodlawn and playing games and eating turkey for our snack (it has to do with the book)I think this was our third time reading this one aloud, but it one of our favorites.  Do you like that spit up mark on my shoulder?  Yep, that's how I roll.  I cannot be slowed down by a bit of spit up.
Here is a picture of our first meeting of the year.  We read another favorite that is really funny and the kids loved, Little Pear.  It's about a five year old boy in China. 
I didn't do any kids' book clubs last year because I just felt I ought not to.  That was the right decision considering the pregnancy and new calling-- it would have been too much.  I couldn't help myself this year and we're back at it.  I missed doing it last year and I missed reading as much to the kids.  When I didn't have a scheduled book club it was too easy to skip our read aloud time.
Now the trick is to balance out reading books that are directed to the older kids with those for the younger.  We just finished reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow last week.  It was great fun and good for October.  Now we're onto a very sweet book I highly recommend called Wonder.
The main character in Little Pear is rather naughty and disobedient.  So we played "Mother, may I?"
We all pretty much agreed that "one giant step" isn't really fair if you can do the splits!
The kids made tanghurlers for their snack.  In the book they were fruit on a stick with a candied syrup.  We used bamboo skewers and sugar covered gummy fruits.  It worked.
Lois is a good friend of Faith's.  Her family lives down the street and Lois's older sister is good friends with Elinor.  I really like their mom and they homeschool.  AND THEY ARE MOVING!  Not terribly far away-- still in our same city, but far enough that parents would need to transport them to one another's houses rather than a quick independent scooter ride.
Having grown up in the military and having frequently been the one to move away, this shouldn't be such a big deal to me.  But it is.  It seriously bums me out when people move away.  Logically, I really do know it is nothing personal.  But it kind of feels like getting dumped.  I guess I'd rather be  the one moving away and doing the dumping.  I suppose it would not be in good taste to pray that their house closing falls through and they decide to stay?
Yeah, I didn't think so.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sibling Love

In our family when we refer to the "the girls", it is usually these two that we mean.  Of course Faith is a girl as well, but she is so often hanging with the "little boys" (Cannon and George).  But these are "the girls".  They are best friends and as different in personality and temperament as you can imagine.  I am so proud of both of them and love their different talents and strengths. 
Bethany has been doing a lot of babysitting lately and has earned quite a bit of moolah.  She's divided up her saving, tithing, and spending money and that spending money has been burning a hole in her pocket.  She wanted to go shopping.  She asked Elinor to go with her, but Elinor wasn't so interested.  I offered to accompany her.  However, upon learning that I wanted to know where she wanted to go and what she wanted to buy rather than just wandering from store to store, I was deemed an unacceptable recreational shopping partner.  I was mildly offended, but I've recovered.  I suggested she find a friend, which she did and had a fun time shopping this afternoon. 
We've had a family of ducks visit us as of late.  I heard somewhere that is wasn't good for the ducks to feed them bread.  Oh, well.  Tell that to these fat ducks and happy children.  
This was the picture we used for Peter's little birth announcement.  He was two months on the 11th and had his two month check up and shots this past Wednesday.  He's healthy and growing-- up to 12 lbs. 13 oz. 
This picture is a little out of date already-- I can tell by Peter's skinny froggy legs.  They've already begun filling out and getting those marvelous chunky baby rolls.  But I found this picture of Cannon feeding Peter.  I suppose I expected my little girls to love babies, but I underestimated just how much Cannon and George would adore Peter.  They are constantly touching and kissing him.  Cannon wants so much to hold him and help with him. 
Here is the glory of the extended Fox family.  There are three of the older granddaughters missing from this picture this summer and Peter is still in my tummy.  I am very grateful for the example of my in-laws and appreciating and welcoming each member of the family.  I am also grateful for my wonderful sister-in-laws and their friendship and examples of motherhood to me over the years.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

(Almost) All Your Homeschool Questions Answered

I recently had a friend ask me some questions about homeschooling because her daughter is not thriving in a traditional school setting and she is considering homeschooling her for a while.  With her permission, I've decided to answer those questions publicly on my blog because they are great questions and some of the answers are rather lengthy.  Also, I think they might be interesting/entertaining for me to read when I'm a grandma and can't remember anything about my child rearing years.

It is not my intention to offend anyone or try to convince anyone to homeschool.  This is what works best for Abe and I and our family.  

 Here is her request and subsequent questions.

  " I am considering pulling my daughter out of school and homeschooling her for a while. She is brilliant but is getting further and further behind. I can't figure out why. I've never wanted to homeschool, never really considered it.  However, I've been struggling and praying about what to do. It seems homeschooling might be a valid option.  Before I take the plunge, I wanted to ask you a little about it."

1.  How did you reach the conclusion that homeschooling was right for you? 

 It's funny, I never wanted to homeschool either!  When Abe and I were dating and first married I had absolutely no interest in homeschooling.  Like most people, my sister and I knew this "weird homeschool" family when we were young teenagers and we swore we would never do that to our children.  We thought they'd be normal if they went to school (that's another post altogether).  Abe was homeschooled throughout his high school years when his parents started in the late 80's.  He had mixed feelings about his homeschooling time and expressed no desire either way about homeschooling or public school for our children.  He did, however, have older siblings (who had been entirely public schooled) who were beginning to homeschool their oldest children.  I figured I'd better at least look into it so I could defend my choice to not homeschool to his family.  As I researched it I found that it was probably a pretty good thing, but I still didn't really want to do it myself.  For me the struggle was with being considered a weirdo.  Obviously, I've moved past that. 

But then I had Clark as my first child and I just knew he would not thrive in school at the tender age of 5.  He was an introverted, sensitive little soul.  So instead we read animal books all day and he learned his letters by what animal started with that letter.  He learned science and learned the continents by what animals lived where.  And he did art by drawing and making animals.  And he learned to write by voluntarily copying animal encyclopedias.  I felt like homeschool was working for him.

Like I said, I didn't really want to homeschool, even though I could see it could be a good thing. Then horror of horrors, I began to feel that it was something that was not only good, but something I should do!  I was afraid, but I prayed a lot about it and finally determined that if I felt it was the right thing to do, fear was not a good enough reason not to do something.  If God wanted me to do this, he would help me.  I feel very strongly that he has helped me and whenever I have had a particular concern about one of our children, I have prayed and been directed what to do.

 2. Would you ever advise against it (homeschooling)?
Yes.  If both parents were not onboard, I would advise against it.  If the dad is not supportive I think it would be extremely difficult.  If the mom feels pressured or doesn't really want to do it, but feels there are no other options and this is a last resort, I don't think it would be a very positive experience. 
Another unfavorable scenario would be a teenager who is opposed to being homeschooled and is being coerced into it.   For me, lack of money, number of children, new baby, demanding calling, fighting children, lack of fellow homeschoolers, are not reasons to advise against it.   

3. How do you motivate your children to do their school work?
Ah, very good question.  I am not the most structured homeschooler that I know, I have more children than many homeschoolers, and I place a high value on self-direction.  That last one stems from my own dislike of being told what to do.  I am not really a rebel, rather I am very intrinsically motivated.  It would be impossible for me to hound each child all day or sit with each child and oversee them doing their work.  From about the age of 8 or 9 (3rd or 4th grade) they must be able to work independently.

 At the beginning of the year I put together spiral bound planners with check lists of what they need to complete each day. (Example: Monday: two math lessons, 3 grammar lessons, journal writing, 1 hr. reading, 1 science lesson)  They can complete their work in whatever order they choose.  They can get up early and get it done so they have the afternoon to play.  They can drag it out until 9:00 at night.  They cannot play with friends, play a computer game, go get ice cream with the family, go to a birthday party, etc. until they have their work done.  They can choose not to do it, but the consequence is unpleasant enough that they usually get it done with very little to no resistance.  Sometimes they will get behind in a subject and when I realize they haven't done their work, there is an unpleasant couple of days while they get caught up.  The other key is consistency.  It is rough to get back into school when we come off of a break (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring).  I almost never cut them any slack on doing their work, because it makes it that much harder to get into it the next day.  Ooh, I'm such a mean mom! 

4.  How many hours would you estimate that you spend on a 5th/6th grade school day?
You'd think this would be a straightforward question with a straightforward answer, but this one is tricky.  I do very little formal teaching.  Elinor (age 11) is in 6th grade and she does almost all her work independently.  She does Pre-algebra, American history, an elementary physics and chemistry science course, language arts- grammar, vocabulary, spelling, journal, handwriting, an online beginning computer programming course , piano practice, and swim team several times a week.  Her time spent doing actual "school work" is probably 4-6 hours a day.  Plus we have family scriptures and read-aloud time (usually in the morning).  It's not unusual for her to be finishing up school work later in the evening if she chose to sleep in, or pleasure read in the afternoon, or had activity days, or got involved in a project with siblings during the day.  I think all of those things are healthy, good things so I don't necessarily discourage them.  She just knows she'll be working on school work later that night.  A school day can be 4 hours or 12, depending on the day and her choices or our family's schedule. 

5.  What other advice would you give a first-time homeschooling parent? Cautions?
Play to your strengths.  If you are uber organized, then you would enjoy running a tight homeschooling ship with certain times for each subject.  If you love literature, then read to and with your kids all day.  If you can tolerate a mess in the name of creativity, then encourage their "projects".  If you love science then form a club with other homeschoolers and do experiments.  There is no "right" way to homeschool.  Some like more structure, some like less.  Don't constantly second-guess yourself.  Research it, pray about it, pick your path and walk it.
My homeschool is so much more structured now than it was when all my children were younger because it needs to be.  There are more needs to be met.  Consequently, I don't know that my little ones are as creative as my older were.  Yet my younger kids are probably better at reading, writing, and arithmetic than my older ones were at their age.  
If it is important to you that your children have other homeschooled friends, then make it happen.  Find out what your child likes and form a club by inviting other homeschoolers to join you. A few years back my girls did a dinner club, where we invited other girls their ages and they took turns hosting and making dinner for their friends and playing games.  I've hosted a kids book club for years.
Read aloud A LOT!  You share the same stories, you learn the same lessons, you increase vocabulary and auditory learning skills.  Good feelings abound during reading time.  I will be posting a list soon of the books we've read aloud if you want ideas. 
CAUTION:  Be diligent and consistent, while at the same time not being too hard on yourself and your child.  If they have spent a considerable amount of time in a traditional school setting, and you've spent a considerable amount of time time with them out of your hair, it is going to take some time to adjust.  Detox time, if you will.  You will have really good days and very bad days.  Some days they may say they hate you.  The feeling may be mutual.  You may threaten to send them to school.  You may even drive to the school parking lot, only to turn around and go cry in your bedroom.  Forgive each other. 
CAUTION:  Don't allow too much by way of T.V., computer/video games.  Darn those electronic forms of entertainment!  They are so stimulating.  We want them to be bored enough that using their brain for real learning feels good.  And running around outside playing or finding shapes in the clouds or digging a big hole in the ground is really living!
CAUTION:  Avoid any books on Classical Education.  Okay, I don't entirely mean this.  Susan Wise Bauer has a great book called The Well-Trained Mind.  It's a great resource, but it's intense.  I believe it is possible to fully implement it, but it will overwhelm you faster than a tsumani!  Talk to other homeschoolers about what they use.  Look through their books.  Get ideas, but be realistic. 
CAUTION:  Don't be afraid to change course.  If the books you're using aren't working, use something else.  You're the boss.  If you're child is really struggling and it is pure drudgery-- try something else. 

6.  What do the little ones do while you are teaching?
I'll tell you what they do not do.  They don't watch T.V..  
They play.  I don't know exactly what they play.  They have their own little world that I get to peek into, but they are in charge of it.  They build Legos, they look at books, they color, they jump on the trampoline, they make messes, they build forts, they make up games.
Remember, I am not spending hours teaching and doing school with the older kids.  Most of my "school time" is actually spent checking previous work and helping them fix grammar or math.  The math curriculum we use has a video of a guy explaining each lesson and a book with explanations.  The older kids are expected to learn it themselves and only come to me with questions after they worked through the lesson on their own.  I don't want it to appear that I just give them their assignments and ignore them.  We are around each other a lot and we talk and interact quite a bit.  It's just that as they get older, real learning is often a solitary, individual endeavor and my hope is to instill an understanding that their education is just that--- THEIRS.  

 Final Thoughts
 I feel that homeschooling has benefited each of my children in a different way.  Clark is now a very confident, well-spoken, strong-willed young man, but I think he would have struggled emotionally in school when he was very young.  Bethany, on the other hand, would likely have done very well early on.  She would have been very social and a teacher's pet of sorts. That would have presented a whole different slate of problems for her later down the road.  I feel homeschool has helped her to be sensitive to the needs of others and less focused on just "looking good".  Elinor is very bright academically but doesn't care a whit for neat work or organization.  She is a dreamer with big ideas that I fear might have been discouraged as not being realistic.  Faith was a little slower when it came to reading and language arts and she has a high need to move her body.  She might have been unnecessarily labeled "slow", when all she needed was a little more time to develop.  Cannon is exceptionally social and has excelled in reading very early.  I fear he would be bored out of his mind. 

Dear Friend,
Good luck in your decision.  I think you are a remarkable lady either way.  Abe and I have spoken of you and your husband and how much we admire you.  You'll do what is best for your wonderful family.  Keep me posted  and feel free to ask any other questions.  Talking about homeschool is sort of a hobby of mine:)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Peter's Blessing Day

Happy day for our family!  Sunday, October 12, 2014 was Peter Jesse Fox's blessing day.
He was all smiles for his daddy on Sunday morning.
 Well, all smile and all EYES!  Don't worry, he'll grown into them.
I think Peter will have lots of mommies.  Here is Mommy Bethany-- 13 years older than Peter.
And Mommy Elinor-- 11 years older.
And Mommy Faith-- 8 years older.
Oh, and I guess there is me-- just the one who actually gave birth to him--37 years older. 
 We called him "Peter Cottontail" in his soft white blessing outfit. 
Our wonderful Barbara put one of her many talents to work again and handmade his outfit for him.  So generous.
It's hard for me to say just how much I love this picture.  My father (Peter), my husband, and my son together.  Three of my greatest blessings in eternity.
Abe gave Peter the most beautiful blessing.  I brought many tears to my eyes and reminded me yet again how much I love Abe and the kind, loving. faithful soul he is. 
Grandma and Grandpa Cannon.  Beverly bore a beautiful testimony and we are blessed to have her in our family.
 The picture is a bit blurry, but look how beautiful Abe's sister Marjorie is!  She and four of her five kids came down from Rexburg for the blessing.
 Rebecca, one of my dearest friends, I've known since we were young mothers with our first babies in Draper.  So happy she and her beautiful family could come share the day with us.
Careful not to crack a smile, you guys. 
They are too cool for words.  I'll stop trying.
My most wonderful sister, Brigitta.  I'm so grateful to have her in my life.  And I'm grateful she brought me plenty of pumpkin pie spice when I foolishly quadrupled the batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I made for the lunch afterwards.  I needed A LOT of pumpkin pie spice and she saved the day.
Cannon (and all my children for that matter) have a cousin Brigham on both sides of the family.  Marjorie's son (left) and Brig's son (right). 
Corrine, Bethany, and Autumn-- don't you feel sorry for their fathers? 
My step-sister Candee and her daugther Evie.  They live in Layton, but will be moving much closer to us soon.  Hooray for us!
From left to right:  Claire (born the same day as Cannon), Millie, Jadan, Hayden, Emi, and Takara.  
Our friends the Butterfields.  Jenn brought the most divine pumpkin cake.  Totally put my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to shame.  I really didn't need to quadruple the batch.
  Abe's brother's family  (Phil and Katie) came up from Orem later in the day.
Cousin Lego party was a great way to finish off the day.

And it was a really fantastic day.  If I may toot my own horn for a moment-- I made all the fixings for Cafe Rio type salads and it was pretty dang yummy.  And, although it is a pretty awful tradition that a new mom ready the house and prepare food for all her nearest and dearest so soon after giving birth, I a grateful for it.  It motivated Abe and I to really attend to the house and put things in order.  It was in pretty bad shape after being rather neglected the last few months.  Now I feel like the house is better functioning.
Mostly though, it was so nice to have our family and friends support us and celebrate the blessing of Peter in our family.
He's a pretty big deal.
And yummy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall, Glorious Fall

I've been to a couple of really awesome pumpkin patches in the Northwest. 
Frankly, this pumpkin patch was nothing like them.  But there were pumpkins to be had and a few animals to pet and there was a pit of dried corn to play in, so we'll take it! 
As part of George's little neighborhood preschool (which has worked out fantastically well and he loves it), we took a little field trip to a pumpkin patch.
The pit of corn was pretty cool.  It's like a ball pit at McDonalds, (probably not much cleaner), but with corn.  The kids loved it-- George made a "corn angel".  Naughty children threw corn at other children.  Corn ended up in underwear.  Great fun for everyone and it entertained lots of children for a long time.  I'd rather have a corn pit than a sand box any day.  I wonder how much a corn pit would cost?
We fed smelly, adorable pigs.
As of tonight, fall soccer is done.  We made it!  I survived... no, I did more than survive... I rocked soccer season with three kids and a newborn baby!  Every Saturday for three hours for the last month and several Mondays and Wednesdays as well, we hung out at the soccer fields and I nursed the baby while cheering on the kids.  And you know what?  For all my boobing (no pun intended) and whining, it was a pretty fun season and we may not need to take year off next year.  The kids all had a good experience and the weather was beautiful for every game. 
Here is my Elinor at one of the soccer games, sporting a style all her own.  She is one of a kind and I love her to pieces.  She is adorable and refreshing.  Except on Sunday morning.  On Sunday mornings she and I don't always agree about what is appropriate to wear to church.
 In all of our running around town in the evening dropping off and picking young people up from different activities,the younger kids and I have become park connoisseurs.  When we have a few minutes before we need to be somewhere we check out local parks.  Cannon and Faith have a system for naming and rating which ones are best.  I snapped this picture of a very proud Cannon after his first successful trip across the monkey bars!
I really don't care for selfies, but here I am with my little Peter.  I quite like him.
Well, I say I don't like selfies.  But the evidence would suggest otherwise.  George and me during one of the other kids' soccer games.
Elinor has been playing volleyball this fall.  She's really enjoyed it and has shown great improvement.  She regularly serves it over the net and even returns it now and then.  Do you see those pink shorts?  I hate them.  She loves them.  Remember the business about "a style all her own?"  It reminds me of this shirt my sister and I had when we were preteens.  It was white with big, multi-colored polka dots all over it.  My mom hated it.  She said it looked like a bag of wonder bread.  She was right, it did.  But oh, how we loved that shirt.  We took turns wearing it all the time.  It "mysteriously" disappeared one day.  It was very sad.  Maybe these pink shorts will "disappear" soon.
 And speaking of my mother.  I channeled her spirit over General Conference weekend and made cinnamon rolls.  I don't know if they were quite as good as her's-- I don't know that that is possible, but they were respectable cinnamon rolls.  I believe she was smiling down on me:)
Let me be honest and say that it has been a rather uncomfortable start to our school year-- new baby and all.  I don't feel on top of things and I'm not sure school work it being completely in a timely and thorough manner.  That being said, can we all take a moment to celebrate the fact that Cannon asked Faith to teach him cursive and they worked on it for several hours last week.  The first two lines are Faith's and the third is Cannon's.  He's first grade, she's in third and I am so grateful they are best friends.  
Abe's insanely busy summer work schedule is starting to wind down.  He'll still have some busy weekends, but we'll see him more on weeknights.  I'm so glad.  We have missed him.  Peter loves Abe.  He smiles most quickly for Abe.  He'll calm down with me if he's upset, but he saves his smiles for Abe.  I think they have the same profile. 
We hosted George's preschool at our house last week.  Here he is with his best buddy, Lincoln.  George does not love to play with everyone, and if I'm really being honest, I should say that he is throwing crying fits a bit too frequently these days--new baby and all.  But he always loves Lincoln.

Fall has kept us very busy and it would be okay if things slowed down a little.  Do you know the children's story, It Could Always Be Worse? A poor man in a small house with a large family goes to the rabbi for advice and complains about his life.  The rabbi advises him to bring a bunch of his animals into his house.  He goes back to the rabbi and says life is even worse now.  The rabbi says to bring more animals in.  Life is even harder.  Finally, the rabbi says to take all the animals out of the house and suddenly the house is so quiet and spacious for the man and his family.  
Now that soccer is done, Abe's schedule is calmer, the baby is settled down, and Clark's play (he is in Pirates of Penzance) will be done in a couple of weeks, I'm hoping that will make my life seem much quieter and more spacious as well.  Here's to hoping!