April 06, 2015

Spring Fever.

April 06, 2015
Yesterday was Easter and the more Easter Sundays that pass, the more I think it is my favorite holiday. When I was little, Easter was a big deal. It meant a new dress, sunrise service, egg hunts with my sister and cousins and a big family lunch after church. I try to keep some of those traditions with my kids. I still really believe in wearing "your Easter outfit". And it's even better when those Easter outfits match. Brett thinks we've outgrown the kids matching thing, but it makes me smile to see them dressed like this. 

We attended the early service at our church. What a blessing to belong to a wonderful church community with such a rich history in Charleston. The egg hunt was held in the oldest graveyard in the city. So many tourists visit this graveyard in the spring and yesterday the church yard was full of kids running around with baskets looking for eggs. 

 Yesterday also brought us to the end of a wonderful Spring Break. For the first time in a long time all four kiddos had the same week off school. That's the one bad thing about 4 kids in 3 different schools - breaks do not always coincide. The final days of school before the official week break was super busy. Chapel has been playing lacrosse with Mt. Pleasant Recreation. At least two games per week combined with a practice or two.

She also had a day off that week for Parent Teacher conference. I am so proud of her progress this past year. Fifth grade starts middle school at Ashley Hall and it has been a year of firsts: lockers, changing classes, etc. She has really grown over the year. She looks so grown up here with her purse and Starbucks. 

That same day Jude had a class egg hunt. Chapel and I volunteered to help hide the eggs for his class.  He has adjusted to his new school and made some great friends. I love his teacher!

The following night was Buist Family Night at Sky Zone. Conor's friend that lives in our neighborhood went with us and they had the best time jumping. Who knew? Why have I not taken my kids there before?? So easy and fun.

The next day I was the secret reader for Conor's class. Eli used his Honor Roll pass to stay home that day. It was a good choice since it was the Friday before break and not a big day to miss. He tagged along with me and ended up being more of the secret reader than me! He read two books to Conor's class. It was entertaining to see him reading to a group of first graders. He even stopped periodically to quiz them on what he was reading.

The week of spring break was spent on the Grand Strand. It was a working vacation. We had to do our annual prep work for the rental beach house in Garden City. The kids entertained themselves while we worked.

We enjoyed dinner at the Gulf Stream Cafe. So pretty to watch the sunset on the inlet.

The kids were so patient while we worked, we took a day off and went to Ripley's and spent the night at Broadway at The Beach. It was fun being a tourist in our hometown. 

The pirate ship was a favorite. I used to ride this as kid! The kids rode it over and over.

Jude got to build a car - finally...

And then it was time to pack up and head back home. 

What a wonderful week with family and friends. 


January 13, 2015

2015. Really?

January 13, 2015
Is it really 2015? Am I seriously turning 40 in like ten days? That's probably a different post altogether. The holidays were spent traveling for what felt like two months but in reality was two weeks.  Two weeks is still a long time to be out of routine and not at home. Everything gets off - sleep, diet, exercise. That said, it's nice to have had the break from the routine, but is extra nice to be back in the routine. So here is a little retrospective of how we ended 2014 and began 2015.

We participated in the Giving Lights of I'On. Our house looked very pretty with the luminaries. 

We took a horse drawn carriage ride through our new neighborhood. Gotta love a neighborhood that has free carriage rides!

Brett hosted his work Christmas party at our home. Our first official gathering other than just family. 

 We put up an extra tall tree this year!

My sister and her kiddos came to town and we managed to take 14,000 unflattering photos including these two. I mean, really, we haven't seen each other in 2 years and this was the best we could do!

The kids and PaPa managed to look great, however. 

Speaking of PaPa, he took all of of us to the Pirate's Voyage Christmas Show. It was one of the highlights of my time with the family. Papa even coerced the folks in charge of photography to personalize the photograph!

After Christmas, we were off to the Grove Park in Asheville, NC. A tradition for over 9 years now. Here we are packed & on the way!

New Year's Eve. 

And New Year's Day. 

Sorry for the picture overload, but what a blessing to have such a wonderful family to celebrate the holidays with. Grateful for all that 2014 brought me and looking forward to a wonderful 2015!


September 22, 2014

Moving Ain't No Joke

September 22, 2014
The Barker Family has moved! 

The last time that happened, Chapel was 11 months and old and I can remember thinking the house felt SO BIG for a family of three. Fast forward nine years and three more babies and it felt like we were busting at the seams. Although a big, tall house it only had 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. With the kids getting bigger we realized more bedrooms and bathrooms were inevitable. We took a leap of faith mid-April and put our Folly Beach home on the market with the hopes that it would sell before school started. Just when I thought nothing was going to happen and school was about to start back, something did happen! We got an offer from serious buyers, like they wanted to close in less than 30 days, and we quickly began looking for a new house. Having lived at the beach for nearly 14 years had been a blessing but honestly we needed to be closer to things. Schools, Brett's work, after school activities. Restaurants and grocery stores. And I wanted the kids to have the opportunity to live in a real neighborhood with lots of other kids their ages. We narrowed down the neighborhoods that fit our criteria and the perfect house went on the market the same week we started looking! 

Then the real work began - inspections, repairs, requests for repairs, etc. Getting the boys enrolled in new schools. And packing. Lord have mercy, I didn't think it would ever all get packed. Fortunately, we made the very adult decision get some professional movers involved this go around. 

So on the hottest day of the year, this truck parked outside our home and began putting every piece of furniture, artwork, clothing and every toy, bicycle, and potted plant we owned inside. The golf cart and picnic table were also loaded on. Moving ain't no joke, people!! Even with the help of movers it was exhausting and took about nine hours to move out.

I snapped a picture of the old house as I was leaving that day. Surprisingly, I was not sad. Maybe I was too tired to be sad but honestly, I think I was just so excited about what lay ahead!

Early the next morning the truck met us and the unloading started. Which by the way was way less stressful and exhausting for me. The movers might not agree. But it was truly a happy and exciting day. 

And that was four weeks ago! So the past four weeks have been filled with unpacking boxes (that doesn't happen overnight), starting new schools, meeting the neighbors (there have been lots of playdates already) and ordering new bedroom furniture for the kids. They are all so excited about their own rooms. 

We have also spent a lot of afternoons just exploring the new neighborhood. We are so blessed to live in a neighborhood that has a pool, lakes, ducks, awesome canals, shops and even a little restaurant. Sometimes you don't have to go very far to feel like you've made a huge move. 

Let's not forget Pilgrim! He has also adjusted to the move. Sort-of. I think he was super confused as to why everything outside was different but all of his "stuff" inside was the same. He likes to lie around and contemplate the change. While we unpack.....

 ......And when he's out in the yard!

As for me, I am feeling blessed and grateful!

XOXO Jodi 

September 05, 2013

Organizing the Full Time Barker Four Students

September 05, 2013
Summer is officially over and this mama has been experiencing a totally new phenomenon for the past two weeks. For the first time ever, all four of my kids are attending school for the entire day. That's right, they are there by 8:00 AM and stay until after 3:00 PM. I will confess my usual morning routine has  been a little shaky after three months of waking up at 9:00 AM and leisurely hanging out with the kids. Getting back on school morning time and adding to that twice the chaos I was used to last year, lends itself to me repeating "get your shoes on" and "brush your teeth" over 50 times. Laying out clothes, fixing breakfast, packing book bags and preparing snacks for four has proven dizzying at times. But despite my  frenzied sate, we are out the door by 7:20 and on our way. Brett and I have been alternating on driving downtown (where the girls go to school) and to Johns Island (where the boys go to school). FYI, I prefer the Johns Island morning drive best; it's further away but way more relaxed than the commute downtown!

The Barker Four on the First Day of School

When I return home it's only been two hours since the madness of the morning started. And it's so quiet. I mean really, really quiet. Everyone keeps asking me, "What are you going to do with all your free time now that ALL of your kids are in school?"  To be honest, I have not really thought about what I'm "going" to do. Right now, I am just doing. I am working to create an environment that is organized for four school aged kids. Every morning when I wake up, I refer to the master calendar. It tells me who has to wear PE clothes that day. Who has to go to therapy and at what time. When I get home from morning drop off, I again I review and record any upcoming field trips, special events, picture days, quizzes or homework assignments that are on the horizon. Brett has been pleading with me for years to move our family calendar online. But I can't. I need this big old ugly thing that I don't have to make sure is charged to see. Or that I don't have to scroll up, down, left or right to view at a glance. This is what works for me.

THE Calendar I can not function without. 

Another daily highlight is monitoring my new cubby system. No seriously, it is. Why in the world did I not think of this two years ago?? The cubbies/school supplies/Inbox/file center has been a lifesaver! I had looked into mudroom ideas but did not have the space. The only place I had available for any type of system was under Brett's archery supplies. So I made it work. Each little Barker now has their very own space for their book bag, swim bag, shoes, library books, etc. The cubbies sit on an entertainment cabinet I found at Goodwill for only $20. This repurposed piece houses workbooks and flashcards behind the doors and features a shared family shoe basket in the middle. School shoes, however, must go in the bottom of the cubby. I know, crazy rules.... But this  little area has grown into Barker School Central and so far we have not had to scramble in the mornings for shoes or bags or books. As an incentive, a treasure chest full of prizes sits right on top, and prizes are awarded on Fridays to those that have been responsible and placed their belongings in their cubbies all week. I love everything about this area....

Grand Central Station

So for right now, I have no grand plans for my free time. Being a mom to four kids at three different schools is a lot of work. There isn't a whole lot of free time. I'm usually just getting ready for said crew to return home. Geez, being a mom to one kid at one school is a lot of work. But I've realized, mostly from trial and error, that being organized for my kids and helping my kids organize themselves is the only way they are going to be successful in their school endeavors. So here is to the start of a great school year!

Oh, and in my free time, one thing I am "going to do" is blog. Because I have not been a good Barker Four Blogger in a very, very long time!

August 09, 2012

Having Babies Is Easy, Raising Kids Is Hard

August 09, 2012
Three weeks ago we added a new baby to our household. His name is Pilgrim.

As I write he is sitting beside me nibbling on my leg when he should be nibbling on a toy. The mother instinct in me loves having a baby in the house again. He's snuggly, tiny, has that baby pup smell. Everyone keeps saying I am crazy to add a puppy - asking, "Don't you have enough going on?" I haven't had a puppy in a long time and taking care of this little guy has made me realize that unlike my true motherhood role, this one only gets easier with time.

The challenge of puppy rearing is right up front - house training, crate training, walking on a leash. Immediately putting up the child gates to keep them out of unwanted places. Keeping destruction to a minimum. And teaching them to obey your commands all take place in the first six months. And then around their first birthday, they settle down and become a great companion for life.

Babies on the other hand are demanding little creatures with the constant nursing and diaper changes. And then the around the age of 1, the real work begins. You have to teach them to socialize. At two you have tantrums, at three and four you are teaching them rules and manners. And then they get a little older and you are faced with the demands of schools, extra curricular activities that expose them to sports and music but take a whole lot of shuffling from point A to point B, speech therapy and eye therapy. You find yourself having to make difficult decisions to ensure success later in life. Around six or seven they start disobeying and defying your authority, as if they know what's best. Oh, and what I really am not ready to handle has just started...the curiosity. About THAT stuff... I've recently engaged in some seriously humorous conversations.

Chapel: Mom, I don't want to have a baby, it would hurt too much.
Me: Oh, Chapel, once you hold that baby you won't remember any of that.
Chapel: But I think it would really hurt my penis....
Me: What? You don't have a penis. A penis is what we call Jude and Eli's wink.....
Chapel: Oh (long pause)...... well then Olivia J. has it ALL wrong!!!!!

Chapel: Mom, when Dad took us to Spencer's to buy disco lights for our dance party, I saw these tuxedo underwear for men that said Serving It Up Hot! And I know what that means.....
Me: Oh yeah? What does it mean?
Chapel: Well you know, a waiter wears a tuxedo and serves you food that is hot and then a guy can be hot.
Me: Oh my! I guess you do know what that means!

Ah, motherhood does come in many forms. In the end, I am just working toward creating good life companions and good citizens, whether they be of the human or canine variety. There are no certainties and no shortcuts, just a whole lot of hard work!

May 13, 2012

Showered With Love

May 13, 2012
Happy, Happy Mother's Day. My kids, as always, made it an extra special weekend. They have been working for days at both home and school on cards and little goodies to surprise me with. Brett surprised me with a new phone, thank goodness I now have one that will charge! He also made reservations for us to eat brunch at Blu here on Folly. It was delicious and we were all hungry by the time we arrived and so stuffed by the time we left that Chapel suggested a Mother's Day nap. 

Me and the kids at Blu.

Showing off our goofy side....

Conor and Jude decorated these little pots and planted the flower for me. They were so proud of their work!

Chapel gave me her Top Ten Reasons she loves me. This was sooooo sweet and melted my heart. My favorite one is, I love my mom because she finds the stuff I need. 
And she also made several cards and presented them to me periodically during the day.

And my tender hearted Eli kicked off the weekend with a Spa Day for Moms at school on Friday. He painted my nails, gave me a massage, and made a sachet. I had six pink nails, three purple and one blue.

He also made this most fun card!

And knowing I love my pocket Simon - taped it inside.

Being showered with all this attention and love, and seeing how excited they are to give me their gifts, makes me feel like one lucky mama.

The Barker Four © 2014