Well, it's back to reality, I guess! Ted went back to work today. In fact, we are awaiting his return now. We are having dinner with our small group tonight, so I didn't have to cook. I did, however, make some sky-high whole wheat biscuits (yummy recipe, Claire! Thank you!), and they turned out very good! (The kids and I shared one forlorn-looking biscuit that was made up of all the leftover dough scraps, so it wasn't even really a circle. All the better for sampling, I say!)
During the break Ted did get away for two snowboarding stints. He got a season pass to the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort and has been trying to get in shape for the annual snowboarding pilgrimage to Colorado. Unfortunately, there wasn't too much snow up there on the mountain! They haven't even been able to make much snow because it hasn't gotten below freezing very much. But they did have a storm (which gave us quite a bit of rain) a couple of days ago, so hopefully he can head up again this weekend and avoid the rocks. Until then, however, he has to make it through the first few days back at work after a break, always a challenge! We were discussing last night how we'd be getting back to work, and even though I too am "back at work," I have to admit that the ability to "go to work" in my pajamas if I like is definitely appealing! I so love being a stay-at-home, home-schooling mother!
The kids did quite well today with Daddy being gone. We had a good school day. Charis learned about subtraction and seemed to handle the new concept with ease. I have to admit that it would actually be hard NOT to get it, with the wonderful way that Math-U-See explains math concepts. She did her first dictation exercise from Phonics Pathways and then read me a couple of stories. Tobin finished off the letter sounds from starfall.com, and then once again we all piled on the couch for Sonlight stories. It was still a bit chilly outside, so the children were reluctant to have "recess," but I could sense restlessness and fighting coming on. So we acted out our Bible story from this morning, Joshua and the walls of Jericho. Charis dragged down a bunch of blankets to pile in the middle of the floor to be the city of Jericho. (My own idea was to build the walls out of our mega-blocks, but obviously Mom was overruled! I thought it would have made for a spectacular fall, but since a 5-year-old girl instead engineered the city, it was much softer than it could have been!) We marched around the city one time, then went and "camped" for the night on the rugs in the school room. This process continued until the "seventh day," during which Mom almost passed out from getting dizzy while marching around the VERY small city 7 times. But the horn-blowing and shouts were tremendous! And the blanket shuffling was sufficient to deem Jericho overthrown. Mom stepped down from being Joshua, and Charis took over for Round Two. I snapped these pictures of the kids as they played without me...one of them marching around the city, one of them camping out!
After an early lunch, we went for a walk outside. It seems weird to be walking around in January in a t-shirt and jeans, wishing you had put shorts on! But I won't complain. It was nice to get us all outside and exercising. Arden went down well for his nap, and the older kids and I dusted. As part of our daily schedule, I have blocked out a short time each day for chores that rotate depending on the day of the week. I've put Charis in charge of dusting the downstairs on Tuesdays. Tobin wanted in on the action as well, so I gave him another dustrag and he happily swished it around, thinking he was helping as well. Dusting is not high on my priority list of household tasks, so I don't mind if it isn't done perfectly. If it were up to me to get it done, it wouldn't happen at all!
The boys both took wonderful naps without incident, and they were pleasant-tempered when I woke them up, a nice change. (Of course, an M&M snack and a God Made Me DVD probably didn't hurt!)
Though our day overall has been a good one, my heart does ache at a growing trend that I see happening with Charis. From the beginning she has been in love with Arden, who was a baby when she was old enough to understand and appreciate babies, unlike when Tobin was born and she was pretty much a baby herself. There has been a special bond between her and Arden, and I do appreciate that and thank the Lord for that. She has been a wonderful big sister, patient, gentle, and helping, cooing over him and generally mothering him along the way. Now that he is older they are turning out to be great playmates.
Unfortunately, all the love, tenderness, and affection she gives unconditionally to Arden, she withholds from Tobin. Arden could do the exact same annoying thing that Tobin would, and she would fawn all over Arden while screaming and hitting Tobin. It has gotten very noticeable lately, to the point of excluding Tobin from their play. Arden just goes with the flow, and he and Tobin play well enough together when undisturbed. But when Charis is in the mix, invariably I hear complaining that Charis and/or Arden is hitting Tobin. Poor guy...it's not his fault he was born in the middle place! I know he certainly isn't blameless. He definitely instigates his fair share of trouble. But as I've been observing more carefully, I'm definitely seeing the problems the sibling favoritism has been causing, and I'm afraid if we don't do something soon, there will be a major rift between Charis and Tobin that will affect their relationship for a long time.
Sooo, all you moms and dads (and grandmas and grandpas!) with wisdom and experience, what would you suggest?! I did have a talk with Charis earlier today about this, telling her that I wanted her to think about the way she treats both of her brothers and see if she was treating both of them the way Jesus would want her to. She dutifully listened to all I had to say, chirping, "Yes, Mommy," every so often. However, we just had a major blowout, which resulted in Charis being spanked (which happens extremely RARELY!) and confined to her room until Daddy comes home. (The room is in need of a major cleaning anyway, so that is keeping her quiet and busy.) The boys are playing quietly together, and I am meanwhile praying for wisdom! Our sweet little Charis can turn into a firebrand at times, and while she is usually an easy child, it's moments like these that cause me to fall to my knees asking for help!