Adolescence Continued

Nora is nine, she’ll be 10 in September. This is probably my favorite age. They are out of the horrific 7-8’s where they decide that lying is super fun and try on all different personality traits (most of them annoying) trying to figure out who they are since they aren’t babies anymore, but not quite grown enough to have their own ideas yet. It is a frustrating age for both of us.

Once they are nine, especially going on ten, they really start to become their own person. They are more comfortable with themselves and develop a sense of humor that’s actually funny instead of just repeating the word, “poop” over and over again. However. The hormones! Holy crap on a stick, if we thought she was dramatic before, now she adds aggression to that drama. Everything used to be the end of the world, but now everything is the end of the world and it’s MY FAULT.

She flits around singing songs and makes videos with her tablet in her room about DIY with her makeup and barbies and stuff, totally reminds me of myself at her age (minus the electronics). She wants to be cool with her brother and his friends, again just like me. However, she’s extremely generous and helpful to the point of me telling her that, “no, she can’t help me do ___” insert menial task in the blank, and “please can I just get it done myself?”. Though she is more submissive than my other two strong-willed children, *cough* Noah *cough* Lorelei, she has a feistiness to her that helps keep up with them. She is a classic middle child, though we have four children.

One thing we can agree on, is makeup. My mom made me wait until I was a teenager to wear makeup. Though, I respect her decision (I totally stole her makeup before school, since she had already gone to work) seeing the result of Nora putting on GODAWFUL burgundy and fuchsia lipstick at friend’s houses encouraged me to begin her with flattering (practically translucent) pale, pink/brown shades almost a year ago. She’s done well with these colors. I taught her how to apply them, she also got a sweet shade of pink lipstick and light blush. Skincare was also part of the lesson, though that’s a harder lesson learned.

yesterday we continued her journey with light brown eyeliner and brown/black Great Lash mascara. Had to start with the classics! (I think I started with teal eyeliner…) We sat at my vanity and I showed her how to apply them. She used to freak out over mascara when we had to use it for her dance recitals a couple of years ago, but playing with it at friend’s houses has gotten her more comfortable with it. I stressed that less is more and we are not Bratz or Monster High Dolls, we are merely enhancing our beauty. No need to start with a bold line. I also get Birchbox and recently started an ipsy subscription which is makeup and skincare samples mailed to you once a month. If it’s a color I don’t like or something I already have, I pass it along to Nora. She’s as excited about them as I am when they come in the mail.

I know that 9 years old is young for makeup, but it has gone over well in our house. It’s a fun thing, not a self-esteem thing and I want her to learn how to wear makeup well because it’s definitely something she is interested in learning about. She is turning into a beautiful, young lady. Seeing her in mascara was a little sad and happy at the same time. She is growing up.

Me and Nora

Nora rock climbing

Nora the astronaught

Baskin robbins

The last week of school I went with Nora on a field trip to Wonderworks. It was my first field trip with one of the kids. We had a good time and I got to hang out with three of her best friends. It was interesting to see her in a different environment.

Nora struggled a bit in school this year. 3rd grade is a more serious year, less fun more learning, but Nora basically refused. Some days she would do horrible on tests (30%) and given the same test the next day she’d pass with flying colors. It wasn’t until about two months before school was over that it all added up. We thought she was spiteful, but she just couldn’t focus. She was on the cusp of failing 3rd grade, but I thought what if it is a medical issue? We tried some medication and it was night and day. She busted her butt the last few weeks of school and managed to pass. She still has some work to do to catch up to her peers, but we have hope and she is no longer frustrated with school. I was worried that the medicine would make her feel gross, but it has improved over the years and she doesn’t even notice that she has taken it. She also says it helps with her anger (lots of drama at school with 3rd grade girls!) I think it just allows her to focus more on the problem than on her feelings at that moment. Though the year was difficult, she still maintained her generosity. She recieved awards for community service, best helper, and the Terrific Kid award for being a Super Citizen. We are just beginning the crazy that is the tween years and it is sure to be different, but equally as exhausting as it was with Noah. Though thankless, it has its own rewards as they gradually heed our advice and show signs of the adult they will soon become.


Adolescence

I don’t write enough here. I always want to, and plan what I’ll write in my head, but it never happens. Maybe I’ll make it a summer goal. :D

SUMMER GOAL NUMBER 565: Write more on the blog. *giggle*

I intentionally have decided not to take classes this summer. The first week or so was a panic attack because suddenly I was bored because I had nothing urgent to accomplish! There was nothing simmering on the back burner, there was just lots and lots of time to be annoyed with my children. Eventually I found comfort in not having to do things immediately. I remembered that I enjoy being home and began to just chill and do fun kid stuff and clean things and plan renovations.

A while back we recognized that we needed to shift our perspective a bit with Noah. He’s 13 in October, you know? It began to become quite evident that he and Nora are not the same age and therefore all the rules do not apply to both equally like they did when they were younger. He was still acting younger than he should (just like Henry, who is 3) and not helping much around the house.

The first thing we did was give him the chickens as his responsibility. Completely. Like, if they die, it is his fault. (Die of starvation, obviously.) The chore consisted of letting them out of the coop in the mornings before school and making sure they had clean water and food for the day. In the afternoons, checking on them (they are ridiculously stupid) and in the evenings putting up their food and water and securing them back in the coop. It doesn’t take long it’s mostly just annoying and dirty. I was nervous at first, but he actually did well with this chore. He doesn’t mind taking care of the animals and after a bit of transition we could rely on him to do it without prodding.

We also extended his bedtime. The kids go to their rooms around 730p-8p and are expected to be going to sleep around 830p. We now let him stay up with us until 830p. This accomplished two things; it separated him and Nora on the hierarchy family scale and allowed him some free time without the Littles to watch his types of shows and spend time with us. The stickler was that he had to keep an eye on the time and go to bed at 830p on his own. We would not watch the clock for him. If he couldn’t do that, then we would go back to a 730p bedtime. He caught on pretty quickly. We stressed that he was the oldest and needed to be a good role model. He needed to volunteer to do things and help around the house without being asked.

I’ve noticed some good changes in him as a result of these choices. He’s still an adolescent, but because we treat him as older he acts more responsible more often. He is still a child and loses his temper and cries about the unfairness of it all, but he also does the dirty dishes with out complaining (which is amazing because for a time he truly believed he could get away with doing only the clean dishes forever) and accepts more readily the limits we’ve placed. We aren’t looking for perfection, only growth.

It’s been fun having him up for a little while with us. At first it was a little weird especially when we would watch something older like Grimm and he would be in the room. He heard the word “sex” and occasional cursing! AAGH! We joke about how he’d love Rick and Morty. (OMG, no.) We also got an xbox. I enjoy playing games and hoped that our family was ready for a game system. We play Ori and the Blind Forest, Gears of War, Dark Zero and Snoopy. I remember fondly when I got a NES many years ago and playing Mario like a Boss. It’s been fun and is going well so far.

Art award

6th grade awards

Noah did well in school this year. He received the Perfect Attendance and Art award and moves on to Middle School next year. He complains about how short he is and talks constantly about anime. He loves to draw, especially chibis and still plays Legos for hours. His humor is awesome as well. His wit surprises me sometimes and I’ll burst out laughing. Mostly, he’s a fun kid, but this adolescent stage might kill me.


A Mini-Coop for the Not so Mini Chickens

Every time we get new chicks I’m amazed at how quickly they grow and get ugly. It’s also fun to realize that one of these chicks is not like the others and we’ve got a rooster on our hands. We’ve had chicks four separate times now. The first time was the most successful and we had no clue what we were doing. The second round got eaten, so we got that nightmare out of the way. The third set has been picked off one by one until there is only one Wyandotte left of three and now for the last. We have been getting three chicks at a time, but due to odds and probability of them making it to egg-laying status, we went ahead and got six. I tried to talk Jason into a seventh one because it was the last one, but he refused. Mostly because it was one of the “straight-runs” meaning it wasn’t sexed, but ironically enough those two are both hens and one of the sexed pullets turned out to be a rooster. Should have listened to me, honey.

Our current coop has three nesting boxes and can fit the new chicks, but we really needed an in between coop for teenager chickens. The box only lasts a couple of weeks and then it’s too small and crazy dirty. Here‘s what our very first coop looked like, if you’re wondering. The current coop is just sans run. My hubby had a lot of pallet and scrap wood as well as leftover coop material, so he decided to build a little mini coop to keep the teenagers separate, but also give them all a secondary coop option once they are integrated.

Here we go. It was built over several weekends on the break between semesters. I love my handy hubby!

Starting the coop

Back door for easy cleaningBack access for easy cleaning.

Chip enjoying the sun

putting the posts in

Inside

Painting it redNoah painting it red and his siblings, “helping”.

fencing

Fencing

preparing the run roof

ready for fencingThe open space will be a removable piece to act as a door.

Food and water lid

child sized

Nora

The last wyandotteThe last Wyandotte checking things out.

Complete

Since this picture we’ve integrated the chickens because the chicks got huge seemingly overnight and can fend off the completely docile Rhode Island Reds. They are much happier in here and exploring the rest of the chicken area.


Biltmore and Birthdays

I meant to post this, but I guess I never did. :/

For my bday weekend way back in March we hit up The Biltmore in Asheville. We took all four kids and grandma and actually had a good time. The kiddos were well behaved and we were able to participate in a wine tasting (the kids got juice) and play on the playground. It definitely cannot all be done in one trip. I had one of the best milkshakes there, though it cost me $6. Happy Birthday to me!

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore
We did a tour of the house, which was featuring wedding gowns from various historical movies. We explored the garden, which wasn’t blooming anything, but enjoyed the conservatory which was featuring orchids of all types and sizes! I’d love to go back and do the audio tour which is more in depth and see the flowers blooming. It was a nice day spent with the family.


Year in Review 2015

The kiddos

It’s been a good year. It started out slow. I was staying home slowly establishing my Mamabluebird stuff as a potential business while Jason was taking online classes. I decided to go back to school as well. That has always been the plan, but I wanted to wait until Henry was a little older to keep him out of daycare.

Jason and I took a biology class together over the summer. I also took macroeconomics to get it over with which I’m glad I did. It was fun to share a class. We had lab projects that we did together and we both did well. I enjoy going to school together because we can help each other as well as commiserate when things are tough.

Jason and Danielle

The kids went to their dad’s for a month this year during the summer. They usually only spend about two weeks, but we decided to extend it. I don’t want to say it was a mistake because the kids enjoyed their time with their dad, but it was too long. Noah and Nora settled into a routine there (a routine that was fake because they don’t have their own room and not a lot of rules), so it was hard to come home to real life. Noah finally understands that it’s best to live with me, but he misses his dad. Nora is in that stage of needing her father and wanting to live with him. It’s not gonna happen. Thankfully, Patrick has grown enough to recognize that his life is unstable and he doesn’t have room for Nora. He was able to tell her that, so she could settle here. She still misses him, but she’s not screaming that she wants to live with her dad every time she gets in trouble. She’s mostly accepted that she’ll live here too. They idolize the absent parent; nothing you can do about that.

Greb family

We got Chip over the summer. We love him!

Noah started 6th grade this year. 5th grade was awful. We had a bad teacher (bad in a way that she and Noah didn’t mesh well, so we had problems all year) and it was a year of growing for Noah. This year, his teachers rock. I think they are awesome in general, but Noah meshes with them nicely. He got his own locker and they treat him like he’s older, which Noah appreciates. Nora started 3rd grade with one teacher and then two months in they hired another teacher and she switched. Nora locks on to her teachers and was extremely upset with the change. This coincided with wanting to live with her father, so it was a bumpy couple of months. However, this new teacher teaches the whole child not just the curriculum. Nora has blossomed under her care, growing in confidence and becoming responsible for her actions. I’m very grateful for this new teacher. We learned a long time ago, that public school was our path, but it’s not without its ups and downs.

Jason and Henry

In the fall, Henry and Lorelei started preschool. Jason and I both took 4 classes for the fall semester. The kids went two days a week giving me time to get my school work done and some mommy time to run errands and whatnot. It was wonderful all around. Lorelei already knows her numbers and letters, but school gave her structure and friends. She really wanted to go 5 days, but it was out of our budget and I want to hold onto her for as long as possible. :) Henry adjusted quicker than I thought. His teachers are so sweet and they love him. He quickly began asking to go to school on non-school days.

Me and the girls

Jason and I finished out the semester, (3 As and a B for me, tyvm) and are gearing up for the Spring. I changed my major from Entrepreneurship to Accounting, which means I’ll be a residential student at WCU instead of online. This means more days of childcare for the kids. I found another PreK program that is much cheaper, but still awesome, than where we are currently, so Lorelei will be going 5 days starting in January. She is soo excited and not the least bit affected by the change of teachers, thankfully. Henry will go three days. Two days I’ll be at school and one will hopefully give me time to get work done. I’m looking forward to it, although it’s been quite the hassle getting into my classes.

This year I also started selling my jewelry at a local yoga studio. It has been an interesting experience. It’s awesome to have people appreciate my art and it’s been fun to walk out what I’ve learned of business. It also is allowing me to narrow my focus on what I truly enjoy making. Just a week ago Jason’s work restructured his department’s positions and he got a raise. A nice surprise at the end of the year. I’m not sure what 2016 will bring, but I’m grateful for my family and our time together. Lorelei is almost 5 and will be starting Kindergarten, so it sounds like more of the same. Changes, always changes. :)

Greb Family


R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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Henry, Lorelei and NoahPictures from a recent walk with Grandma

That first year of life with your child, you are at their whim. You get no say for the most part and do for them what they need. As they get older (like the day after their 1st birthday) the relationship changes and they’d like you to continue to do for them all the things. You start to say no more often, they start to scream, there might be spanking involved at some point and then they are tweens. That is something else entirely. They haven’t even hit teenagerland yet.

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I’ve noticed that I will take a lot of crap until I won’t. Once I won’t, that’s it. I listen longer than I should to the ranting and let them get away with a lot. Between Jason and I, if you had to pick the heavy, Jason would be it. The kids don’t really talk back to him and I think why is a combination of things. He’s rarely here (comparatively), he’s got the authoritative male voice, he’s old school, etc. Mom’s voice just becomes background noise at some point. I also try to listen for more reasons. Are they upset about something else and it’s just coming out loud? I like to get to the root cause and teach in the moment if possible. That’s not old-school. Good parenting seems to be a combination of both, in my opinion.

We love grandma

In the thick of things, day to day stresses, I believe we put up with a level of disrespect. It’s different for everyone, but we aren’t machines and we get worn down by the constant bickering, whining, and neediness of children. It ebbs and flows through phases and ages. Our relationship with our child also has a lot to do with the level of disrespect you will accept and that relationship is constantly changing as they grow. As I’ve grown I’ve begun to stand up for myself a little more. It’s sad to me to think that we have to defend ourselves against our children, but boundaries need to be set for all relationships. I’ve actually said out loud lately, “you cannot talk to me like that”. I’m sad to say that because I love my children and would hope that they would regard me with the respect I deserve simply because I gave them life and we do our best to take care of them and give them a good childhood. Did I mention I’m also too trusting? ;-)

Crazy Chip

Me and Chip

Henry has that idolization, but Noah? He thinks he’s grown. He’s realizing that he doesn’t HAVE to do anything. I’m realizing that I can’t MAKE him do anything. There’s just keeping the relationship healthy, giving good consequences and trying to teach him to make good choices. For Nora, it’s an entirely different relationship. She’s really angry and feels persecuted, for example, because she has to clean her room. Such drama that one! I’ve been letting them talk back to me, ignoring their rants, but have realized that that is not okay. It’s important that they treat me better. Not just because I’m their mother, but because it effects everything. It effects their school life and how they interact with teachers. It effects their sense of security. It effects their future relationships. It effects our household and the peace I’d like to have and we all deserve.

Oh, Henry

Lorelei and Oreo

Noah and Grandma

I also noticed that the kids were coming and going in and out of our bedroom. That was an outward expression of their level of respect for us. I put a stop to that. I kicked the dog out too (his crate) because that seemed to make our room a common area for them. That began a good precedent. I’ve begun to notice disrespect instead of ignore rude behavior towards me and others in the house. Rude behavior might include screaming at me or calling each other names. I deal with that first, now. Anything you change for yourself becomes a ripple effect for those around you and I think that’s what is happening here and I’m glad. I’ve also started rereading Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s a christian book, but still very good as is their whole Boundaries series. Things have begun to calm down around here. I was reading something about teenagers and disrespect and one thing jumped out at me. Teenagers are territorial. They begin to leave their crap everywhere to assert dominance. Ha! I’ve started a plan with Nora and her room. She doesn’t respect property, her own or anybody else’s. I’ve started to demand and trying to reward her for taking care of her stuff. I took most of her toys and stuff out of her room, giving her a small amount of things to take care of and if she can, she’ll get her stuff back as well as be able to pick out some new sheets, curtains, paint color possibly. It’s slow going, but I think she is getting there. Respect encompasses a lot more than just how we speak to one another.

View of the house

With us being a step family and ongoing issues with the kid’s father, life is rocky, loud and hard at times, but I love it. We continue to grow and change. We learn what works and what doesn’t and I know the kids benefit from our consistency and stability. That foundation is most important. I don’t feel yet that there is ever a point that you can’t make different choices. The kids aren’t ruined because I’ve been a doormat. They won’t be perfect now because we speak to them differently, but our household will be a little bit healthier, hopefully more peaceful and we’ve all learned a thing or two.


Pumpkinfest 2015

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We love the Pumpkinfest. We started going even before we moved here. There are local crafts, food, the pumpkin rolling contest which gets about 400 participants, and recently free bounce houses. We’ve done all of those, but they also have a costume parade, 5k Pumpkin Run, screaming contests and other smaller activities. People go all out, dressing up as an extremely tall real-life tree or this year, someone was a night riding an actual fire breathing dragon.

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20151024_125104I confess I did have a small piece of the funnel cake. The kettlecorn, though, (nomnomnom) that’s my jam.

I don’t know if this is healthy, but I sort of judge how we’re doing socially/relationally on a large scale by if we see people we know and those interactions. One year, I think last year, we only saw one person we knew and we didn’t approach them. This year, we saw friends, acquaintances from church and people we knew within the community.

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We brought Chip too. Oh the smells! Lol The local animal shelter walks dogs around in hopes that they will be adopted. Chip made many new friends. Jason and I talked about this being a memory the kids have of going to the pumpkinfest every year and bringing the grandkids here one day. :)


New Puppy

10 weeks old

At the end of August we got a new puppy. We had been talking about getting a puppy for about six months, doing the research, soul searching and whatnot to prepare for more chaos. We knew we wanted a dog, but it had to be the right kind of dog. We’ve had dogs in the past that did not fit in with our family and we planned to commit to this dog for his lifetime, so it had to be a good one.

We got realistic; smallish dog, not a chihuahua, low to medium energy, affectionate, smart, short hair, no grooming, great with kids, chickens and cats. I did quizzes that tell you what kind of dog you should get, searched family dogs and looked at every breed we might like and one dog type that kept coming up was a rat terrier. I looked more into that breed and it seemed like it would be a good fit. I searched for rat terrier breeders in North Carolina and two came up. One was for miniatures and the other for standard sized dogs and they were both about five hours away and the typical $350. Did we really want this type of dog? Was it worth the trip and cash? We sat on that for a couple of months. During that time I looked at other options. Rescue places, craigslist, friends and family. Most dogs were older or mixed with chihuahua or jack russel which didn’t match our criteria, so we decided to go for it.

The trip went well and we liked the breeder, Barrel Creek Kennel in Middlesex, NC. She takes good care of her dogs and answered all of our questions while we took our time picking out our new puppy. I let Jason and Nora pick and they went with an adorable brown headed, sweet boy.

Chip

The kids loved him.

early mornings

He would cuddle with me in the mornings before the kids got up and I was drinking my coffee.

tiny puppy

He took to our family right away and we all fell in love. We began house training which hasn’t been too awful. When it’s a tiny puppy, it’s a tiny puddle, thankfully and he’s doing really well. That was our biggest concern. We didn’t want a vindictive dog, one who would poop in the middle of your bed just to spite you. He’s a good boy and so sweet.

Sleepy puppy

It’s been about two months now and we are so glad we got him. I’m really glad we didn’t settle for a different dog just to have a dog and took the time to pick the right one for our family. I think it made all the difference.


This Simple Life

I remember almost five years ago frequently coming up to Franklin from Florida to visit Jason’s family for a few days at a time. Once we hit the mountains it felt like we could take a deep breath and relax. Franklin is a small town (less than 4,000 people) while our previous home in central Florida was a very large city (100,000+ people). Once Lorelei was born we took the opportunity to move to Franklin. It was quite the adjustment. I missed the ease of shopping in a large city where you could get what you want/needed that same day. I missed Publix where, “shopping is a pleasure”. The first few years were hard as Jason settled in, got promoted, settled in, got promoted, and finally started making the drive to Asheville every day. We had Henry in there too while also shuffling the kids back and forth to their dad’s and all the stress that comes with that.

We moved in October of last year, to the house we see ourselves in for many, many years. Life is still stressful as Jason is now in school full-time and I’m about to be as well, but it’s a simple life. A country life, if you will and we love it. We’ve learned to love Ingles and Walmart (as much as anyone can love walmart) and to wait patiently for packages via Amazon Prime shipping. We take a lot of walks and hikes and watch the birds on the porch for fun. We spend a lot of time with family. We have chickens and recently acquired a few more dreaming about a farm one day. I’ve got the garden growing. We love this little town.

I had friends come in for a quick visit this past weekend (Hi, Nicole!) and it made me think about living in Lakeland and how different life is now. We have crappy cell service and internet and don’t really mind. The pace is slow and the mountains are still beautiful and the seasons are fully embraced.

We went for a walk yesterday evening since we all took a late afternoon nap.
BlackberriesBlackberries in our yard.

Farmer LoreleiShe said she’s “a person that takes care of animals” aka a farmer. Lol

cookiedoughCookiedough came along for a little while.

holding handsHappily holding hands

the view

Cheese!Henry started saying “cheeeeese” thinking I was taking a picture of him, so of course I had to anyway.

I'm here tooI was there too.

Interesting flower

More blackberriesMore blackberries. Yum!

Tree stumpAny opportunity to take a picture of my sweet loves.

Oreo comes alongOreo followed us there and back exploring along the way.

Run!They love to chase each other

sleepy bugLorelei picked this flower for me and it had a sleepy bug underneath (he woke up and crawled on top)

Tired Oreo

Take my picture

Henry

me too!Monkey see, monkey do

My beautiful girl

The road back homeThe road back home.


May Yoga

Downdog

downdog

Catchup

Downdog

updog

High plank

Halfway Lift

Standing Forward Fold

Chair pose

Mountain pose

Lolasana

Boat pose variation

Boat pose

Shoulderstand

Camel pose

Fish pose

Pigeon pose

Gate pose

Triangle pose

Split

Hero pose

Standing Forward Fold

Chair pose


I took a wee break from all of my challenges and only participated in two short ones this past month. I really enjoyed the first one because it was focused on “what this pose unlocks for you”. I don’t enjoy all yoga poses and I’m still learning and my body is still getting stronger and more flexible, so most of my poses were from a place of frustration. Some poses, however are sweet release. I actually was one of the winners for that challenge; #masterkeymay. It’s fun to win and I received a sodalite bracelet. The second challenge was focused on Sun Salutation and the poses within that vinyasa. Very simple. I’ve started school, so I’m not doing any challenges this month, however I do jump in occasionally with a video or two. Perhaps I’ll share those with you here next month.

*March and April Yoga
*February Yoga
*January Yoga
*December Yoga
*November Yoga
*September Yoga