Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It is Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas...

You know how sometimes things sound like a really good idea? Then you put them in practice and halfway through wonder, "What on earth am I doing???" Well, that was a good description for today.

It started off innocent enough. We kind of got up at our leisure. The kids were just "starving" and had to eat a little breakfast while I worked on baking pumpkin muffins. Then thirty minutes later, they were ready to eat pumpkin muffins too.

While child 4 settled in to watch a little Sesame Street, I took the opportunity to start working on my project.

THE project.

See, for Christmas, we like to give gifts to our kids' teachers. Okay, I will admit, I usually take the easy way out. Gift cards. The problem is that Joshua has multiple caregivers. There are a few "regulars" but I don't feel right excluding anyone. However, I really wanted to express how thankful we are for their care of our son. I wanted to do a little lunch but they all eat at different times. So I decided to bake/make snacks so when it was their lunchtime, they would have some treats.

It started off a fairly small list. Then it grew. And grew.

The menu? Peanut butter apple dip/apples. Homemade salsa/chips. Sweet Cereal Mix. Peppermint Bark. Sausage Balls. Cream cheese/flavored sauce/salsa. Mint Chocolate Chip brownies.

The good news is that it is stuff I can make ahead of time. The bad news is that it is a lot of work when I really need to be wrapping presents. But in the end, I cannot put a value on what these ladies do for our son each day. He has just loved school and blossomed there. So into the kitchen I went.

Unfortunately I was also washing, drying, and folding clothes during that time. We have a lot of baskets to get taken care of before the weekend. And the carpet guy was coming to our house. Had to pick our oldest up from swim team practice. Lots of supervising of the girls who were in charge of cleaning their room. And then there was the youngest. I was so hopeful when he got up. He had an appetite. He was energetic. And his cheeks were flushed. Darn.

As the day continued, my little patient got whinier and whinier. His cough also deepened; it hurt my lungs to listen to him. And by the time I put him down for his nap, his fever had started going up.

So after waiting for him to sleep a bit, I went to the computer and put in a request for an appointment.

That was not something I was expecting to do today!

Within fifteen minutes or so, we had an appointment for about an hour later. Thankfully child 4 was not in a deep sleep. His cough kept him awake. I hate to wake him up when he is sleeping. Unfortunately, child 3 was sleeping deeply. And she is not the easiest person to wake up. Needless to say, there were dark clouds for a while.

Still, we managed to make it to the doctor's office in time, on time. And within just a few minutes we were called back.

Child 4 usually loves going to the doctor. I had a feeling this appointment would be a little different when the nurse asked me to take off his shoes so she could weigh him. His reaction? LOTS of crying, "I don't want to take my shoes off!" She wrote down 28 as his weight but I don't really think it was an accurate reading. He wouldn't let go of my neck...I was trying to peel him off, etc. It was loads of fun. (Sarcasm inserted :)

The little wait in the waiting room was just a tease for the wait in the exam room. Now, mind you, I had all four kids with me. Mark couldn't get away, and it all happened too quick to get some help. We were put into this tiny room with an exam table, two chairs, and the doctor's spinning stool. That and a few books and pamphlets, that is it. I did hear complaints (from the kids, not the staff) but overall they did well. It was just tiring. For me anyway. :)

After what felt like an eternity, we got to see the doctor. He was concerned that our little guy might have the flu. So he ordered a flu test. They came in quickly to swab it and I was all smiles. At least until the nurse said, "Okay, we should have results in fifteen minutes..." FIFTEEN minutes? Me and the four in that tiny room for another fifteen minutes?

Somehow we survived. I don't remember much about that time; I think I am trying to block it from my memory. :) I am sure it involved a lot of questions/answering.

The only semi-good news was little guy's fever had risen to about 102. That isn't good news. But it slowed him down considerably which probably saved me in that wait in the exam room.

After 15 minutes, the nurse stopped by to let me know that he had tested negative. We also got a prescription to deal with an infection that seemed to be brewing in his lungs. And then we headed home.

I literally ran Child 4 into the house, met Mark briefly (passing off Joshua), then grabbed my grocery list and headed out the door. I had some of the ingredients for the Project, but not all.

An hour or so later, I got home just in time to "tag" Mark in our tag teaming as he headed out the door with Child 1 to go to the grocery store. I quickly got to work putting groceries away as
well as working on dinner for the remaining crew.

After dinner, I gave the kids permission to watch a Christmas movie. I hate to use the DVR as a babysitter and really don't very often. But our little guy was just not feeling well and was VERY clingy. But for whatever reason, today he was all about the movie. So he settled right down.

Once the kids were in bed, I started working on The Project.

That isn't quite the end of the story, though if you have even read this far, you are wondering, "Why on earth does she keep talking?"

Mark was at a Razorback game. I sent him an e-mail asking him to pick up a big bag of Christmas m and m's. A few minutes later, I sent another e-mail requesting a box of Rice Chex.

Shortly afterwards, the boys came home. And Mark had in his hand one bag of m and m's (not Christmas ones). I asked about the Rice Chex. He hadn't received that message due to a dead phone. (or so he says :)

So in a few minutes, he (Mark) was heading out the door to get me a bag of Christmas m and m's. He also had orders to bring the Chex cereal home.

A bit later, he walked back in the door with a bag of Christmas m and m's. And a Chex cereal...just not the one I wanted or needed.

He is a good man. He really is. I am very grateful. Without too much protest, he turned around and went BACK to the store to get my right Chex.

Unfortunately when he came home, he pulled into the garage like usual. But not usual was the fact that the door hesitated when it was going up for Mark's truck. And then it got stuck. It didn't want to go anywhere. He had to get our vehicles OUT of the garage (so we would be able to drive tomorrow without a broken door in our way) and use his hands to pull the door down. We are calling a door company tomorrow. Gotta love unexpected expenses.

So that was the day in a nutshell. Cleaning, laundry, running the dishwasher FOUR times, cooking several appetizers/desserts, feeding children, playing chauffeur, playing nurse, etc...all in the day of a life of a mom! (Tomorrow's agenda? Delivering all of this food, a friend spending the night with child 2, and baking/decorating cookies for Santa.)

Hope your day was full of good smells and lots of smiles!

Reba
PS If I usually send a card to you, it isn't that I have dropped you from "the list". We are just going to be late on cards due to our missing cards...going to have to go another route...AFTER Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fa La La La La...

Whew! What a day!

Why do they call it a Christmas vacation? I am not on vacation over here. :)

So far we have had a morning obligation each of our three "vacation" mornings, which means setting the alarm. Just for the record, I am NOT setting it tomorrow!

Today we got up and got started on breakfast. The doorbell rang. Uh oh. Every one of us is in our pajamas. I would have been tempted to ignore it, but as soon as the door bell rings, my little angels run to the door to see who it is. We have windows on the sides of the door, so we cannot hide the fact we are home, especially when noses are pressed against the window out of pure curiosity!

I cautiously opened the door to find a couple of young men standing there. They were the carpet people. We got new carpet about a year and a half ago. We love the carpet. We just don't love the fact that it is ripping away at our "transition" spots (by the tile), leaving staples exposed. I think we have all stepped on them a time or two. Anyway, I knew the carpet guys were coming, at say...4-6 p.m. It was maybe 9 a.m. at this point. I think they felt bad; they had been told to come as early as possible which is funny since the carpet place had actually called Mark Friday to confirm the afternoon appointment. I think someone was having fun with me! I invited them in, warning them we were all in pj's. I am just thankful I was wearing a decent pair, not some of the threadbare ones that I have had forever. :)

Those poor guys. I think they felt really bad about the carpet. But there was not a thing they could do about it. They left promising that they would have the supervisor call us. I will give them all credit; we had a phone call within an hour.

Then we had a little time to work on cleaning and organizing. Finally we left for a bit so our house could get cleaned. We had the wonderful opportunity of visiting with my mom and my aunt, uncle, and grandmother. (My aunt and uncle are visiting, a special treat!) After our usual time slot, we drove back home. At that point, my kids thought they were "starving". Unfortunately, when we drove home, our house was STILL being cleaned. So we drove around for a bit until we got the "all clear". We returned home for lunch.

As we were working on lunch, the doorbell rang again. It was just one of those days. This time it was the termite inspector, about thirty minutes early. Again, I invited him in but warned him it was lunchtime.

It was about that time that I realized our youngest wasn't feeling top notch. He has been coughing and had a runny nose, but today he had a fever too (slight). I made his whole lunch which he didn't touch. After a little bit, he just asked to go to bed. (It was about two hours after his normal school naptime so he may have just been tired) He proceeded to sleep for about three hours. When he got up, his fever had gone up. Thankfully he perked up as the night went on. He didn't eat just a bunch for dinner, but he did drink some and ate a little. We will see what tomorrow brings.

After dinner, I took child 1 out shopping. This year we had the kids "draw" names to buy for one sibling. We are footing the bill, though they have a set price and can get only ONE gift with it. The rules may change as the kids get older. Last year we just had the two older kids exchange gifts, so this is new for them. (It just happened to work out that they all drew out someone else's name on the first try!)

It has been interesting to watch the kids shop for each other. The first to go a couple of nights ago was child 2. She was shopping for her little brother. We went on a Saturday night before Christmas to Toys R Us. Can you say "crazy"??? She investigated almost every possibility. She checked everything twice. She also discovered the price scanner and had to "scan" anything she could find. Somehow she had missed the rule on "one" gift, so she was trying to get as much for the price limit as she could. Once I explained the rule yet again, she settled on something very fast. It was funny; she doesn't have much of a concept of prices yet. There were a couple of items she pulled up that were 70 dollars or more...she was shocked when I told her how much they cost. (That was WAY over the price limit)

Mark took child 3 shopping on Sunday. I will admit, we simplified things for her a bit. I had some ideas of what her sister would like so that narrowed down her choices. Now let's see if she can keep a secret before Thursday night!

And tonight was child 1's night. I was pretty impressed. He was buying for child 3. I asked him if he had any ideas, and he quickly named three things that he thought would be good gifts. And he really had a good feel for what she might want...he has been paying attention more than I had thought!

Tomorrow night, as long as he feels up to it, is the youngest's turn. I have a feeling his shopping experience will be different. He is so ready to go though. Every night he has asked, "I go shopping, Mommy?" So hopefully he will just be excited that he is actually shopping. I have a feeling his gift will involve us holding out a couple of items and letting him point to one. :)

Well, not the most exciting post (not that they usually are) but that is all I can do for today. Still, I have gotten in three posts in about 24 hours, so I am pleased with that! For now, I am off to bed... I am ready to sleep and hopefully sleep in!

Reba

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On This Day in History...

Okay, I started this last night, and I got the title typed. Then I just tuckered out and headed to bed. So it should actually read, "On Yesterday in History". But I don't feel like changing the title now.

"This Day" refers to the 19th. The 19th seems to be significant to the Cloud family for a couple of reasons.

You see, two years ago, on December 19, we brought home our fourth child. After a week long stay (which felt like much, much longer), we returned to the USA with our Guatemalan son in our arms. Our family was and is complete (as far as we are concerned...God may have His own plans). It was such an emotional day. We had been in Guatemala for a very long week. Our son was a complete delight UNTIL bedtime. Then he was awake every couple/few hours. That is hard in itself (and totally not necessary for an eight month old but a habit he had developed in his foster home). In a hotel, it is even harder to deal with that crying, run on little sleep, etc. It was a very expensive trip (on top of the other adoption expenses); flying at Christmas on very short notice plus hotel stays during the holidays are rather pricey. It was of course just a week away from Christmas, so throw all of that stuff that needed to be done into the mix. Plus we missed our kids like crazy. We hadn't been away from any of them that long. We were actually supposed to be home on the 18th but unfortunately our little guy's visa was a complete mess (errors) and we had to wait an extra day to get it fixed. Oh, how I cried when that happened! But finally on the 19th, early in the morning, we boarded the plane, landed in Houston, where child 4 became a citizen (as soon as his feet touched the ground...that was at McDonalds in the airport I think), then finally landed in Northwest Arkansas. One of my favorite memories was walking out of the security section of the airport to find my parents and our other three kids waiting for us. We were finally together. Sigh.

December 19, 2008, had a totally different meaning to me. That was our last day of school before Christmas break last year. That was also the day that Mark ran home to get something for me for school and found "uninvited guests" robbing our house. They actually ended up only getting away with a couple of cameras, an MP3 player, and a little cash (one camera was returned). Unfortunately what I feel was taken that was much much more valuable was the sense of security. I couldn't sleep for weeks on end without waking up over and over, hearing sounds, etc. We have a security system now and that has helped a lot. However, there is still a distrust (in both the integrity of mankind...like how your Christmas card/pictures might get stolen off your front porch) and a leeriness of our legal system. For instance, on Friday, our last day of school, it was actually the 18th, but I found myself on edge all day, waiting for my phone to ring. We had our Christmas singalong assembly at school. It was hard to sit through...last year I cried through the whole thing (had just found out the news). What bothers me even more though is the effect it had on one of the kids. The others don't seem to be aware or really that affected. But for our oldest daughter, her world was rocked. And I hate that. It has to happen in life. I just wish it hadn't happened so soon for her. We don't talk a lot about it, but if it ever does creep into our conversations, she is usually the one to bring it up. It is still very much in her thoughts and fears which just crushes me as a parent. I feel like I failed her. It was my job to keep her safe and secure. And I didn't. :(

This year, and this will be another post, December 19th was the day we finally were able to celebrate our oldest's birthday (since we had food poisoning on his actual party day). I am not sure I want to find out what December 19th holds next year...

Reba

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ends and Odds

I was trying to think of a new title for today. I think I have used Odds and Ends before, so I thought I would switch it up today. :)

Here are Random Thoughts of Reba...scary, huh?

I didn't get to post anything last night (I am sure you were waiting with bated breath). I thought I would. I had been productive all evening working on school projects. Then I settled down to watch a little t.v. with my hubby while I cruised the Internet. Unfortunately, somewhere in all of that, I fell asleep. (Happened again tonight while I was in the bathtub) Such is this time of year...

Today was school party day. Fun, fun! The kids were asking first thing this morning when it was. I kept saying, "At the end of the day..." Finally we got there. We did some creating with ice cream cones/frosting/sprinkles. Then I moved them over to the rug for a game/book exchange. While there, one of the kiddos looked up at me and said, puzzled, "Is this our party?" I guess that it wasn't everything he expected and more. :) (I try to have fun with the kids but still keep it fairly structured) In the end, I think they had a good time. We sugared them up really well anyway. And they all went home with some goodies. When I got home, I got to relive three different parties, again complete with goodies and stories of lots of sugar!

Speaking of goodies, I have been quite blessed this year. By party time, I had a desk full of presents and treats from my students, including a gift certificate to feed my sushi cravings, a cute pair of ladybug slippers (my nickname growing up was "Ladybug"), a warm throw, an ornament, some chocolate, and much, much more. I am thankful for a sweet and generous group of students and parents who shower me daily not only with gifts but with support, encouragement, and love.


I still hope to write a whole post in honor of our now 11 year old son. I have tried a couple of times to write one but I end up getting emotional and stop.


Speaking of our pre-teen, we hope to have our son's birthday celebration this weekend. I think he is ready to open some presents!


Do you remember the "Christmas card" rejects I posted the other night? Well, after all of that picture taking (which is enough to make me want to pull my hair out), finally designing a decent Christmas card, going through the order process, etc., I think our cards are missing. I have been tracking the package, eager for them to arrive so I could send them out at least a few days before Christmas. Today when I checked the tracking, I was rather surprised to learn that the package had been "delivered". I am not sure where it was delivered. It is not at my house. So, either it was delivered to another house OR it was delivered to our house and someone stole them (we had a flyer in our door today, so we know our front porch has had visitors). I cannot imagine that they would be much use to anyone else, but I guess a crook wouldn't know that from looking at the outside of the package. Either way, the pictures are not in our possession. So it looks like we may be going a different route with our Christmas cards this year! (I am not really flippant about it; I hate that we spent money for something we never got. And once again, I wonder if we were robbed...that would make three times this year in some sort of fashion. But at the same time, I am really tired and know that I cannot do a thing about it at this point in the game.)


I don't think I have mentioned much about gift giving since my "Toning Down Christmas" post. Let me tell you what my saving grace has been with the gift thing. A spreadsheet. I have always kept lists but they weren't very organized. What would happen was around Christmas when I would finally get to wrapping I would realize that one child was getting more than another child. So I did a lot of last minute shopping to "even" things out (and often for random gifts that were really there just to even out the number of gifts, not because it was a really "wanted" item). This year I made a spreadsheet, actually several. I even made one for books which we (Mom and Dad) always get the kids. I have been filling it in as I go shopping. I even change the color once something is bought. It sounds so simple but it has helped me SOOOO much. It has given me a focus when I go shopping. It has also stopped some "impulse" buying. If it is not on the list, then I probably don't need to get it. I am hoping this one little step will save me a lot of stress!

I really should get some sleep. I still have one more day of school. Then it is "break" (if you can call it that) for two weeks! Yippee!

Reba

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Funkytown

I am in a funk.

I don't know why.

I have no reason to be.

But I am in a funk.

I think a huge part of it is that I have had some kind of stomach bug (or I am hoping that is all it is) for a week now. It is getting better but I am still not quite back to feeling like myself. (This is aside from the horrible day we all had on Friday which I still believe was food poisoning; I promise I am a very thorough cook...it pains me to even write those words) So I have been pretty much homebound for three days straight now, with one little run to the store yesterday where I promptly felt sick again.

Another part is that I missed two days of school last week. I don't remember the last time I missed two days (they weren't in a row which actually felt worse). I have SO much to do this week at school, including finishing up assessments that I didn't get to do last week. Plus, that is where I get more of my adult interaction (even being with kinder. kids all day) than most places, so I am severely lacking that. It makes me feel "out of the loop".

I had gotten on a fairly good exercise jaunt (though short lived) until this stomach bug. Now I am going to have to start all over again. Ick.

You would think I would be losing weight dealing with stomach bugs. No luck. I feel bigger than I ever have in my life. Ick again.

I haven't quite caught the "holiday spirit". Yes, I know the true meaning of Christmas. We talk about it daily at our house. It just doesn't feel like Christmas to me. I don't know if it is the weather. Or that we changed a couple of "traditions" this year. I am actually more on top of gift buying than usual (thanks to a spreadsheet I have going), but maybe I have been too practical and not "holiday' enough. And maybe I haven't had the quiet times I need lately because that requires more concentration and attention than I have been able to give. I don't know. I just hope it catches on in the next week or so!

Mark and I have had little together time. For some reason when he is feeling sick, he doesn't feel very lovey dovey. :)

I am a little stressed about finances. I am trying to be somewhat careful with gifts and all. And we have so many asking for help for different charities; we are trying to help where we can. But at times it is all overwhelming especially with the economy. And I feel that though I doubt it is near to the effect some others have.

This has been a tough year, more for friends than for me. But it hurts my heart watching those I love lose those they love.

And realizing I have to have a dental checkup in just two days and have not been flossing which will be QUITE evident, which makes me feel like more of a failure than I felt before.

All that adds up to Reba in a funk.

Uplifting huh?

Even in the funk, I can recognize a few things that are precious to me though...

  • like waking up to the youngest singing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" (probably to JoJo his stuffed monkey) over the monitor this morning. We didn't even know he knew that song.
  • like when child 3 is playing with her cars and trucks on the floor next to me and out of the blue says, "I love you, Mom."
  • like when child 2 crawls up into the chair (really a one person chair but we make it work) to sit next to me as we watch Madagascar.
  • like when I get a text from a friend/co-worker letting me know that she can be at my house in my moments to bring us whatever we need (the day we were so sick).
  • like when I hear our oldest talking to Ribby the II. That boy really needs a dog. (I don't...he does)
  • like when my husband brings me pizza, a coke, and cotton candy for lunch. (I have given up trying to eat around my stomach bug. I am going to feel sick either way, might as well eat good stuff)
  • like when child 4 tears across the room in horror as an alligator snatched up a duck on Madagascar (a bit of of horror and humor mixed together) all for a hug.
  • like when we all stay up a little past our bedtimes to watch and laugh with Madagascar (a movie on a School Night?) just for fun and because we can.

I know there are many other things that I treasure. Some days I just need reminders. Now if only I can get out of this funk...

Reba

Friday, December 11, 2009

Man Down! Man Down!

I need to add about three "men" (or women or girls) to that count.

I have been feeling a bit ill all week. But it hasn't been bad enough that it has really stopped me, just slowed me down a bit. Then child 4 was sick on Wednesday. But that passed fairly quickly. If only that had been the end...

I am a deep sleeper. But for some reason, I can always sense the presence of a child moving in our room during the night (which is very rare around here). Sometime in the wee hours of the night/morning, I "felt" one in our room. I sat up as I heard the words, "Child 3 just got sick in the hallway." At that point, I was feeling worse than before, so Mark got up to take care of her. (If child 1 hadn't alerted us, I am not sure that she would have let us know until this morning) About that time, he started feeling bad. Uh oh. However this morning, we woke up thinking at least some people would be raring to go. Well, one person. Both of the big kids started complaining about their stomachs, and things went downhill after that. The only person who seemed to feel well...child 4.

I try to keep the youngest with me if I am not in school. I feel guilty otherwise. But today when Mark said, "Should he go to school?" I said, "Yes" right away. I didn't think any of us had the energy to watch him or try to keep up with him. I am thankful for that decision. We all dozed on and off all morning and other than trips to the restroom, we were completely immobile. I kept the t.v. on most of the day (a very rare thing around here), but nobody even seemed to notice or care what was on. Mark was a trooper. He got out, took child 4 to school, delivered pretzels and Sprite, and did some work. He came home partway through the day pretty ill but got out for one more meeting and to pick up child 4.

So here we are a few hours later. Child 3 seems to feel good though she is running a low grade fever. The older 2 do not have fevers, but we are keeping their food intake to a minimum. Mark is possibly the sickest. He has a fever and has slept most of the time since getting home. I am eating lightly (starchy foods which sound good to me) and maintaining with just an occasional fever, LOTS of body aches, and a slight headache. The youngest...well, he is going ninety to nothing. Of course, I think he is enjoying taking full advantage of the situation...he knows that it will take us a while to get to him. :) He has had some sweet moments though. He keeps saying, "Daddy not feel good, Mommy?" And this morning he just hugged my neck for a long time.

We had a lot of plans this weekend. We were supposed to be at the Square to eat pizza and walk around looking at the lights tonight with one of child 1's friends. Then tomorrow morning, child 2 had a ball game, Child 1 had a swim meet AND team pictures, then we were going to have our family over for a birthday lunch. Tomorrow night, Mark and I had a Christmas party to attend. In one fell swoop, all plans gone. I am hoping one of us feels well enough to take Child 1 to his team pictures tomorrow. Right now, that isn't a huge possibility. But we will try. :)

I am attempting to quieten things down (mainly the two little ones) with a video. It isn't working. :) I see an early bedtime for all of us...

Reba
P.S. I originally thought we might have food poisoning because we ate chicken last night. All of us ate it except for the youngest, the only person who doesn't feel bad. But with the other symptoms, I am leaning more toward a virus now. I can only hope this is short-lived. :)
P.S.S. Please pray for the Crumby family. Tomorrow they bury little Hannah Grace. :(

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Own "Snow" Day

Well, after a long and tiring day, Mark made it home around 1:30. He was in Milwaukee for a business trip. He was supposed to be home around 6 I think originally. However, it didn't take long for his first flight (which went to Chicago) to get canceled. Somehow he ended up on a bus (with the airline's help) and made it to Chicago in time to catch a flight home. Unfortunately, there was a HUGE snowstorm, and flights weren't leaving quickly if at all. Every time the phone rang, my whole body tensed up because I knew it was another delay. At one point, Mark told me that they had de-iced the whole plane and were just waiting for a flight attendant to show up. One did but for whatever reason decided she wasn't going to work after all, so they had to wait again. In the meantime, the plane iced up again. Finally a flight attendant was in place, they boarded the plane, and another de-icing took place.

In the meantime, we had a lot of fun watching him get interviewed by WGN while at the airport. That was an unexpected treat.

I did ask him later why he mentioned his laptop, not having pajamas if his flight was canceled, etc, but no mention of desperately trying to get home to his wife. He assured me that he had mentioned me, as in, "I am trying to get home to my wife. She has been with our children a little too long, and I need to relieve her." In that case, I am glad they edited it out... (Just for the record, I was handling things fine. I have not been feeling well, so it had been difficult at times to keep up with the demands of four kids while battling that. And I was struggling with being in two places at once with basketball and swimming, totally different directions. But I really handled things well (I thought).

So by the time Mark made it home, I had had a little "catnap" and was wide awake. Then I of course had to share every thought and occurrence from the last two days (which really seemed more like a week :). And the next thing I know, it is around 2:30, and we were just drifting off to sleep.

I had been debating about whether I should stay home since I hadn't been feeling good (I didn't feel like I was contagious and wash my hands a BUNCH of times a day), just to recover (hopefully). I had decided I had too much to do and just would have to charge through it. Well, that would have happened, even on four hours of sleep, had I not found the youngest with food particles (from dinner) all over his bed. (The worst part is I had been so excited he had finally eaten ground beef for dinner the night before...he rarely touches meat. He had even had two helpings. I regretted that later :) Suddenly, I had no choice. I had to stop, even with too much to do. So, while Mark took the others to school as little snowflakes swirled beautifully in the sky, I stayed at home with our little patient for our own little "snow day".

As for child 4, well, we are taking it slow with food and such. And NO milk for him. But otherwise, he seems to be feeling pretty good. He has not slowed down one iota. He has been talking a mile a minute and has been into as much as he is always into. So hopefully his is short lived (moreso than mine!).

You would think with all of this time at home, I would have gotten a lot accomplished. My to do list is certainly long enough. But I haven't. I have done a few things (like change the patient's sheets and put away some things from the store) but I have also had moments to just rest. However, I have not napped which is what my body really wants to do right now. I am hoping to go to bed a little earlier tonight (and after running errands this evening, I should have no trouble being tired) and get back on some kind of schedule...maybe. :)

Hmmm, I think I had a few odds and ends to share.

Oh, at one point today I was painstakingly taking our little guy's bumper pads off (yes, he is still in a crib and I will keep him there as long as he wants to be there...I like that he is confined :). I don't think I have ever untied them. It was a long process. At one point, he asked if I was changing his sheets. Before I could even respond, he said, "Thank you, Mommy. Thank you." He does have some sweet moments!

I do hope all know (which makes it sound like a lot more read than actually do :) that the whole "Hazardous to Your Health" post was mostly tongue in cheek. :) I truly do find my kids to be a blessing, though they really do like to interfere with my exercise plans. Trying to put me in an early grave, no doubt...

Last night before bed, the kids prayed. I was very touched to hear child 3 pray for Ms. Bonnie and her heart to feel better this time of year. That surprised me a little since we hadn't seen Bonnie recently. I also was touched to hear Hunter praying for the Crumby family as they deal with their loss. Very sweet. You have to love a child's faith!

I am trying to figure out a way I can run all the errands I need to this evening without actually being out in the cold. I do not do well in cold weather.

I suppose I should go. I had more to share but those thoughts escape me right now!

Reba

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Goodbye, Little One

Little Hannah Grace is now in heaven. Thank you for the prayers for her the past few months. Please continue to lift up the family as they deal with her absence. I have no doubt that she is is happy and healthy and loving life where she is. I also have no doubt that her parents are aching in a way they never imagined they could ache. It is hard to fathom waking up one day knowing that you will not be feeling those chubby arms grasp your neck any more. Please pray for them any time you think of them. They have a long lonely road ahead of them, a road many of us have not traveled.

I am sorry this is so short today. Mark is out of town and I am on my own again this morning with the kiddos. Yesterday there were some rough patches but we got through. I don't think I have mentioned but I am a little on the ill side. It has not been enough to keep me in bed but I am not feeling myself. I am hoping today is much better.

Okay, my dumb alarm is chirping at me. I have to go.

Reba

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Her Usual Flair

I wish I had pictures of the kids from the morning. They all looked adorable (in my very unbiased opinion of course). Child 3 had on this cream colored dress with taffeta (I think, I really don't know much about fabrics). It looked just precious on her. She almost looked like an angel.

Our family went forward today to light the advent candle during the church service. I don't know how or why we were chosen, but we were. I was feeling kind of ill and kept wondering if I should head home, but in the end, decided to stick it out. We sang a few songs, then it was our "cue". So we walked forward (note: The youngest did not. He was in the nursery. Had he gone, he would have started yelling, "Don't touch, Daddy. It is hot!"). The kids were well-behaved. They stood still as Mark read the Bible verses and said a prayer. Then we had a little issue with the lighter actually lighting the candle. (Mark had asked me to do it but I had declined, suspecting it would be difficult!) It finally did lit then burned out later. Not sure what that says about us. (On another humorous note, the "topic" for the advent candle..peace. In a house with four kids, we know NO peace. :)

When we walked back to our seats, Child 3 was right in front of me. She daintily walked down the steps until she was two or three steps from the floor. Then I saw those little arms swing as she jumped out and down to the bottom. She did land on both feet. There was a chuckle in the audience.

All in her usual flair...

Reba

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hazardous to Your Health

I wonder sometimes why children don't come with little warning tags. You know, you see them on refrigerators, medicine bottles, cleaners..."May be hazardous to your health..." I thought about this today as I was attempting to exercise. I don't really care to exercise. I can think of a lot more things I would much rather do (like eat or read a book). But it is a necessary evil, especially since having gone through two pregnancies and deliveries...my body has never been the same since. (I am sure I could somehow blame the other two also like all of the eating I did when I was stressed waiting for those adoptions to finalize. :) Anyway, so I am trying to exercise during the day rather than in the dark of the night when my muscles are screaming that they are tired and would rather be in bed. My children are happily playing around the house, making all kinds of messes. Then I turned on the t.v. to start my workout. (I have been working out with my own "personal trainer" on Wii Active; it truly is a workout!) Suddenly I had an audience. They abandoned all toys, all books, etc. and came to watch me "perform". Then they started asking questions like "Why is the sky blue?" as I am trying to exercise. Then the youngest just has to hug my leg. Oh, and the tattling, the non-ending tattling between the girls. All I wanted to do was something healthy for my body. Instead I got distraction after distraction. See, hazardous to my health.

Just in case I haven't built up my case enough, here is a little more evidence...

  • Remember my swollen ankle that lasted for weeks? I tripped over a little toy bowl at the bottom of our one stair (that leads to the garage).
  • I constantly step on Cheerios.
  • I was climbing a little chair to put a gift away out of view when I hit my leg (close to my foot) on the chair. I now have a coffee cup size bruise on my leg. (In case you don't see the connection, the gift was for the kids...)
  • My hands are so dry they are almost crackly. That is because I wash my hands all of the time after wiping faces, changing diapers, scrubbing heads, etc.
  • I have a cut on my finger (required a Thomas the Tank Engine bandaid) due to the lid of a can of pumpkin when I made pumpkin muffins for the little child who I know LOVES them. (Okay, I have to be honest on that one...I love them too)
  • All of the missed sleep due to staying up late to accomplish all of the things I cannot accomplish when little people are still up
  • The strained voice from saying all day, "Does that really concern you?" or "Whose shoes are in the middle of the floor?"
  • The frostbite (not really but sounds good) from getting out of my nice warm house to drive a few towns over to get out in the frigid temperatures just so my son could see one of his friends in the Nutcracker...again.
  • The tired fingers from blogging which is the only way I will ever have any record of what we are doing in our lives (like watching The Nutcracker again)
  • The bruises on my forehead from banging my head against the wall as I once again explain why we take showers every day
  • The broken heart that we moms have every time our children get hurt from the ugly parts of life
  • The sore knees from the constant praying for our children, their little personalities (and quirky traits), and their futures.
  • The many colds I have caught thanks to the germs of those little people running around
  • The high blood pressure when I look at my just cleaned kitchen floor and see a large puddle of sticky juice from a careless kid
  • The strained neck from turning around in the car as we travel to hand dropped items, break up arguments, and explain again that we are NOT there yet.
  • The wrinkles on my forehead from wondering if my child will always tell lies with a straight face or ever be able to sit still for more than three minutes apart or from guilt that I can never seem to get it right
  • The half brushed hair because I am too busy brushing and fixing the hair of others
  • The burns on my hands from the times I had to shut the oven door quickly before curious little fingers touched the hot door
  • The overflowing heart from the love that keeps growing and growing and growing

I am sure there are many more but time is limited. Do you have any warnings to add?

Reba

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eating an Elephant...

It has been REALLY quiet on here recently. I keep trying to figure out if I said or did something offensive. I don't usually get a lot of comments anyway, but it has been even quieter than usual. Of course, maybe some of you (or the two of you or however many are there right now :) are dealing with some of the same issues as me...such as...

Sometimes I wonder whose list is longer...Santa's list of good little boys and girls or my list of things to do in December.

It is overwhelming at times.

A dessert for a Christmas party tomorrow night. Basketball game Saturday morning. Swim practice Saturday. Send out invitations to family for one child's birthday lunch. Nutcracker Saturday night. Church on Sunday. Chili lunch and dessert to take to church for missions meal. Life group Sunday night. Assessments in the classroom (first semester is about to end...). Endless loads of laundry. Endless emptying the dishwasher. Another trip to the grocery store to stock up for the week. Mark goes out of town, meaning early to rise for all of us. Blogging. Reading blogs. Prayer needs. Exercise. Our son's music program for school. More basketball practice. More swim practice. Wrapping presents. Ordering gifts. Taking pictures. Creating a photo card. Writing the Christmas newsletter. Sending out Christmas cards/pics. Buying Secret Santa gifts. Homework (for the kids). Signing papers and folders. Charities asking for help. Paying bills. Putting up the little tree. Facebooking. Maybe sleeping...if time allows. And that is just for the next week (and doesn't include all necessary events).

The list goes on and on.

It is overwhelming.

It can also suck all of the joy (sorry, I could NOT think of a different way to put that that was quite so effective) out of my season.

Instead, I am having to pick and choose. I sometimes am going to have to say "no". And I will need to take it one day at a time. I will need to keep my eyes focused, because if I look away for even one second, I will sink WAY down in the water.

I love the way a friends says it. "It is like eating an elephant...eat one bite at a time."

That is what I am doing. How about you?

Reba

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Live on Your Knees

I rarely do two "calls to prayer" right in a row, but today I have one more request for prayer for little Hannah Grace. Her family has decided to take her off the ventilator this Sunday. I cannot imagine what a difficult decision that must have been, but over and over, the doctors have confirmed that it is the decision to make when they are ready. Please understand...turning the ventilator off is not choosing to let their precious daughter die. It is choosing to remove the support of the ventilator then letting God show His will. He may show Himself in a BIG way and touch her little body and heal it in a miraculous way. I believe He does that. Or He may choose to bring her on home. Only He knows. I am just praying for His will (though I throw in a LOT of votes for the first option). Please say a prayer for her and for her family in the next few days. I do believe people can "feel" the power of prayer of others. And right now, between that and a strong faith, I would imagine that is what is getting her parents through each day...

Reba
PS I will try to write more tomorrow. I am still wanting to share a little about Blind Side and the thoughts/feelings it provoked about adoption. I just need to start that BEFORE 11. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chills

One more quick post...

I have mentioned Bonnie several times on here. (I would covet continued prayers for her as she enters the first Christmas without her husband Thomas here) I have also mentioned Hannah Grace. Just about three months ago, little Hannah Grace was not feeling well. Her parents took her to the doctor and learned that she had a diagnosis of leukemia. Unfortunately, since that time, she has had some complications, mostly involving strokes which have affected her brain. Now Hannah Grace is on a ventilator and sleeps much of the time. Her parents are treasuring their time with her which appears (at least to the human heart and eye) to be coming to an end...at least here on earth. All that to say, Bonnie and Hannah's mom were co-workers and are still friends. Bonnie just visited Hannah (and parents) and has offered a lot of support and encouragement to Hannah's mom. Well, today, Bonnie's daughter Caroline shared something with Bonnie. I cannot tell the story right, so I would just encourage you to read Hannah Grace's website to see the conversation. Just know it gave me chills (and brought tears to my eye). Sometimes I am not so sure that God doesn't give children views of Him that we don't see...

Reba

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Rest is Gravy

I love Appetizer Day. I love the Thanksgiving meal. But another meal I love is the turkey and gravy, a family tradition. A couple days after Thanksgiving, my mom makes a big pot of gravy with pieces of turkey. Then she bakes some biscuits. We pour the turkey and gravy over the biscuits and enjoy. It is just one of those meals...like a comfort food. Yum! I enjoyed every bite. (And there were still leftover appetizers to enjoy as well as...Christmas punch. :) It was a delicious end to the week. And I may have just overindulged tonight. I hate to see a good stuffed mushroom go to waste!

We had a good day leading up to this good food. Once again, we slept in until 9:00. Two days in a row. I was shocked and amazed and a little confused...that just never happens around here. We had just a lazy morning (my favorite kind). Then a little bit after lunch, a young lady from our neighborhood came down to watch the kids for a few hours. Mark and I got to go on a "double date"! We met up with my sister and her husband for a movie matinee. (We saw "The Blind Side" which I will comment on in another post very soon.) We even got to run a quick errand before heading home.

And now I am back to the beginning. Our delicious dinner. Along with the dinner, we had a very intense Razorback game on in the background (didn't go our way today but it was a good game). Loved the casual conversation (and sometimes teary, other times full of laughter) conversation with my mom and sister, those are special times to me. I so wish they lived closer and we could do that more often! And I loved the entertainment. With seven kids in the house, ages 10 and younger, there is a LOT of entertainment. They entertain each other (sometimes to our chagrin) and other times they entertain us. There was a lot of laughter this evening. A house bursting with love!

There is more to add but I am fading. We had another late night, so my time is more limited.

More later,
Reba

PS Thank you for the link for the reusable bags, Kathy. I will check them out!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Confession is Good for the Soul

Sometimes you just have to confess things to feel a little bit better. Okay, obviously if I am posting this on a public blog, it isn't anything earth shattering. Sorry to disappoint. :) But I am just in a mood (playful), so indulge me...

Confessions of a tired, working mom...

1. I have never read any of the Twilight Series. It doesn't interest me AT all. I am not in anyway criticizing anyone who has. (I have found that some Twilight fans can get a little defensive via conversations on Facebook :) In fact, most of my friends have read it and have seen the newest movie by now. I know several people have said, "If you read one, you will be hooked, even if you don't think you will be." And that could be true. I LOVE to read. But my reading time is SO very limited, and I already have several books/authors I do know that I love to read (Nicholas Sparks, Francine Rivers). So I am passing as of now.
2. I think I have mentioned this before, but as the weather cools off, I am reminded even more...I do not like warm/hot drinks AT all. The smell of coffee is very unappealing to me. Don't like tea in the slightest. And as much as I like chocolate...NO hot chocolate for me. :)
3. I haven't been to a certain store that starts with a W in over 11 years. People around here (which is WM territory) always drop their mouths open if I mention that and ask me incredulously, "How do you survive?" Yet, somehow I do. :)
4. We have not decorated a bit for Christmas. Again, not criticizing anyone who has. I just like to wait until after Thanksgiving. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think "harvest", not "Christmas Tree". So, we have harvest stuff all over the house. Every time we travel at night (or these days, late afternoon), Lauren asks why "everyone else" has their lights up and we don't. I keep remind her...it is only November. We do have time. She (my planner) is a bit panicky I think. ;)
5. I like vacuuming. I am first of all thankful for the vacuum cleaner. We use it a lot, especially under the breakfast table which is where we eat almost all of our meals. For some reason, I don't like the thought of vacuuming or getting it out (like it is that hard...pull it out of the closet, ready to go). But I love the power of the vacuum, being able to aim it at the wayward Cheerio or the cobweb that appeared overnight and suck them right up. And I also love the fact that I cannot hear much of anything when I do vacuum. Arguing? Cries for "Mom?" Can't hear a thing...
6. I am hooked on cooking shows. You would think I would cook a lot more as much as I watch them. :) Mark actually is the one who started me on them and now I am hooked. Top Chef, Iron Chef, Chopped...love them.
7. One of my greatest joys (well, one of many) is NOT setting my alarm clock. I don't get to sleep in much with the kiddos, but I still would rather wake up to them than to that buzzer!
8. As I have mentioned a few thousand times, I LOVE my Mtn. Dew each day. But I don't remember if I have mentioned that I also LOVE Coke...from McDonald's. I typically just get a small and only for certain meals (typically NOT McDonald's). But just thinking about it now makes my mouth water.
9. I LOVE sugary cereals. Right now we are eating Cocoa Pebbles. I also love Apple Jacks, Lucky Charms, and Frosted Flakes. Oh, and Captain Crunch with Crunchberries. :) I know that other cereals are much more healthy but they aren't nearly as tasty to me...
10. When I cleaned out under the kitchen sink yesterday (a project I have wanted to do for months but just haven't found time to do), there were probably 70+ grocery store bags under there! Actually that may be a low estimate. We do have a bag saver, and we do save bags for the trash, transporting items, etc. But that (the "saver" can only handle so much. So the others have just been stuffed over months. Needless to say, just taking out the extra bags cleaned out most of the cabinet area. Oh, I will be taking them to the school;we have someone who recycles the bags. By the way, I am still trying to figure out how to reduce that number. We obviously buy a lot of groceries. And I am interested in finding reusable bags to bring the groceries home in...but they would have to be just right size wise and material wise. That is on my "to do" list for the next year.

Okay, enough confession for now. I was just in a mood for "light weight" conversation. I better head to bed...tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have a lot of blessings to count before bed tonight!
Reba

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cabin Fever

Well, we decided last night that I would stay at home with the kiddos today while Mark went to church. Our little guy's allergies continue to get the best of him. I really don't think he is contagious, but unless you really love him, you may not want to see all of the coughing, dripping (nose), etc. And I am still struggling with a cold or a virus (something that is making me ache all over). Mark needed to be at church to help with the Lord's Supper, and that meant nobody was there to supervise remaining children. So we had a family (five out of six) church day at home.

I was glad we did. I woke up hurting all over. Even my teeth hurt. And child 4 woke up with a matted eye. It thankfully isn't pink or anything, and I really don't think it is pinkeye...I just think the allergies/cold are in his eyes. And Hunter slept until 9. So in the end, I was glad we chose to be at home.

Home church wasn't quite as neat of an experience as it was the last time we did it. The youngest doesn't get the point at all...imagine that. :) We tried to have a family prayer time, and he kept rolling over his big brother and bringing out any and all toys he has that make noise. Child 3 was a bit on the grumpy side, so she wasn't really "into it", and even the oldest was just kind of ambivalent about it all. I did try though.

Tonight we were supposed to have our life group (community group). However, my mom (who usually watches the kids) wasn't feeling so hot either. So Mark went alone, while I stayed back with the kids. (He offered to let me go, but I still am dragging a bit)

All that to say, I have a little bit of cabin fever! (And thankfully that is all of the fever I have even though I keep thinking I do have a fever) I am really too tired and achy to go anywhere, but I think tomorrow, I may dash out of the door!

That being said, I have enjoyed the time with the kids. We have had some good conversation. We have enjoyed playing some games (not even just video games...like real games!). And we have been able to catch up a little on housework. And I did get a nap today, which is always a plus. :)

I do have a few prayer requests, being that it is Sunday and all (or was when I started typing this).

Please pray for Hannah Grace. I have mentioned her before. She is a four year old daughter of a local teacher who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. I will admit, when I first heard her diagnosis, I thought, "Okay, this one CAN be beat." And it can. But little Hannah has had to deal with a lot of extra complications and difficulties (such as strokes), more than anyone could have imagined. I would guess her parents feel like they are on a roller coaster ride of emotions. She will have a good day then suddenly she is back in the ICU. Please pray for her healing and for her parents' strength and energy as they face each day, each new challenge. They have a strong faith, thankfully, but no matter what, as a momma it is agonizing to see your little one in any kind of pain.

Also, please continue to pray for Bonnie. She is an incredible lady if you ever get the chance to meet her. Even as she struggles with learning to live life without her husband, and even more, being a mommy (a very tired one at that) without her husband there to help, she has this genuine compassion and encouragement for other people. I can just imagine (or probably can't) how difficult the holidays will be this year...more new "normals". Please think about her and just pray for His strength.

And finally, please pray for us as we guide our children. We are dealing with behavior things with all of them...not big things but still things that must be dealt with. It can be tiring at times and a bit discouraging. Please pray for our wisdom and guidance as we figure out how to handle each situation that comes up, whether it is the impulsiveness of a toddler or the temper of a "big kid". There are days that it would be much easier to throw in the towel, to just "overlook" some flaws and issues, but in the end, we know now is the time to handle things...before they grow into bigger things.

Okay, one more finally, please pray for our health. So far we have avoided any major sickness, though I know it is all around. We are looking forward to the holiday, especially spending time with family. I am hoping we will all be well enough to enjoy each and every minute!

If there is something I can pray for you, let me know.

Off to bed...I DO have school tomorrow.

Reba

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night...

Okay, it is just Saturday afternoon. It just didn't have the same sound to it as "Saturday night". Besides, the rate I have been going, it may be Saturday night before this ever gets published.

I am enjoying a little peace and quiet. Mark has taken the girls to the school carnival. The youngest and I are still battling allergies or a cold (not sure which) so we opted to stay home. Apparently the oldest is too old for such things, so he stayed home too. Child 4 wanted to go outside, but I am tied to the stove making baked potato soup. So Child 1 agreed to take him out for me.

It is very heartwarming watching the two of them explore in the backyard. When we first started adopting, Child 1 wanted us to adopt a boy from France (he has a fascination with France) that was his age. I was worried that his little brother would be a huge disappointment to him, coming as a baby and obviously NOT from France. But from the beginning, the two boys took to each other. They are eight years apart, look completely different, but totally love each other. Oh, they drive each other crazy on occasion, but overall, Child 1 is exactly the big brother to Child 4 that I hoped in my heart he would be!

Even as I type, the boys have come in twice to show me treasures they have found...things like a red leaf and acorns. I love to watch Child 1 share his fascination and curiosity about the world with Child 4. They are both special boys.

Whew! What a long week it was! Most of us were dealing with allergy "crud" (such a precise word, isn't it?). And the younger two were a bit...emotional? They gave me a run for my money I will say. I felt like I spent much of the week in correction/discipline mode. I keep hoping it will pay off in the end but there were a couple times this week I was ready to throw my hands up in despair.

Last night (I did mention these are random thoughts, right?), we rented our second Redbox movie. I am really enjoying this convenience. We are such an exciting crew...we rented Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaur and ordered queso and chips for dinner. Really, aren't you envious of our Friday night?

I will admit, I only half watched the first part of the movie. After all, it is the third installment. How good can it be? Except that partway through, I realized it was very funny, as in those deep down laughs that come from the gut. The oldest was gone for the night, but the rest of us just enjoyed hanging out and chuckling throughout the movie. One of my favorite parts was when a giant T-Rex type dinosaur was chasing after one of the characters. The youngest started screaming at the T.V., "No bite, Dinosaur! No bite!" He is a funny boy (most of the time). He also chuckled pretty hard in some spots. He definitely has a sense of humor.

Another part that warmed my heart was when a baby mammoth was born. Child 3 was sitting next to me. She was particularly loving yesterday anyway. She watched the three mammoths, the two parent mammoths holding the baby, and she got the most tender look on her face. She said something to the effect that now she guessed they were a family. And that is how she sees it.

Another kid funny: Later that night, Mark was getting the youngest ready for bed. He was on the changing table while Mark put pjs on him. Mark said he was wiggling or something, so Mark fussed at him. He said that our son stopped and then lowered his voice and said, "I want Mommy." It is hard not to laugh sometimes!

Oh, and earlier that night (nothing like going backwards in your storytelling, good for confusing the readers), the girls decided to play hair stylist. Child 3 insisted on fixing my hair. I will NEVER complain about that. I love to have my hair played with, it is SO very relaxing even though at the end it is flat and probably greasy. Anyway, Child 4 got into the act (the joys of older sisters) and "fixed" my hair too. He then told me, "Mommy, you look pretty." Over and over. Really, how could you ever tire of hearing that (especially knowing what I really looked like)?

Now, back to today. It truly is Saturday night. Such is the story of my life. I start things then get distracted (not sure how :). We had baked potato soup for dinner. Yum. And then turkey sugar cookies (as in with a picture of a turkey on them, not made out of turkeys). And we had a little game time...Child 2 and I played Uno while Daddy played Memory with the little ones. Then books and bed. Pretty nice evening if you ask me.

Well, I better wrap up.

More later,
Reba

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Countdown

I do love school. I really do. I enjoy being there. My heart goes all atwitter when I get a new book order in the mail. I still have a chalkboard (right next to my dry erase board) that I love to write on each day. One of my favorite times? Snack time. Not because I get to eat, but because at times throughout the year, we make something fun and different to eat (like bread and homemade "butter"); I love to watch my students experience new things. I have wonderful co-workers; they are like my second family away from home. And the hugs, the notes, the smiles I receive throughout the day, the sweet voices telling me that I look very pretty today or that they are having fun learning...all food for my soul.

That being said, I am ready for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The kids are too.

If you don't believe me, just step into the school. Listen. There is a definite buzz in the air, an electricity you can almost feel. Combine that with "snow like weather" (that never produced a flake), it is more than they (or I) can handle.

Even at home, my sweet children are pushing each and every button I have. I keep tripping over dirty socks. I hear tattles from the time I wake up until the time they are go to sleep. I feel like I am working some days at a complaint department in a department store...complaining, complaining, complaining. Just now, little Miss Child 3 came in distraught because her pants were falling down. That is how I am starting my day.

Oh, the joy of it all.

Five days (including today)...five days.

I can do it. Right?

Let the countdown begin!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remembering to Give Thanks

Okay, today was a day. (Technically, yesterday, but since I am not in bed, it is today for me :)

I could write a long diatribe of what the day was like. Some of it might make you cry, some of it was actually humorous. Or might be for me one day.

Instead of complaining (which I will warn may still emerge on occasion), I thought I would throw in a few more little things I am thankful for.

  • I am thankful for the sweet students in my class, eager to learn. They are a loving group, with complete devotion and adoration even on my grumpy days (which doesn't happen too often...I don't think)
  • I am thankful it didn't snow no matter how disappointed my son was (to the point he went on a short-lived hunger strike to protest :); I am just not ready for snow right now.
  • I am thankful my car started this morning so that we could be to school on time (instead of the dead battery I dealt with in the parking lot of Child 4's school.
  • I am thankful that I am at the same school as my kiddos (well, three out of four, the one and only time :(). Today, a group from the oldest's class came to share a reader's theater with my crew. It was a true joy to get to watch my son "in action".
  • I am thankful for some time to come home and eat lunch by myself, enjoying the peace and quiet.
  • I am thankful for the man I don't know who just happened to be at Child 4's school when my van battery was dead and "jumped" it for me so we could get on our way. Thank you!
  • I am thankful for a husband who went to the grocery story for me after we both had had long days.
  • I am grateful for the smell of pork tenderloin cooked in the slow cooker that is still drifting through the house.
  • I am still thankful for Child 1's orthodontist appointment yesterday which went much better than I expected.
  • I am grateful I can call my mom any time I am having a rough time as a Mommy. Or even a joyful time as a mommy.
  • I am thankful for early bedtimes (for little children).
  • I am grateful for a monitor so I can do just that...monitor, especially that ugly cough I hear coming from across the house. :(
  • I am thankful for my shoes even though tonight my feet are aching from wearing them all day.
  • I am thankful for my warm cozy bed which is where I am headed right now...I am wiped out.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow...

Reba

Monday, November 16, 2009

Million Dollar Smile

Our oldest had his first visit with the orthodontist!

We took this child to the dentist when he was probably 1.5 years old for his first check up. He got a good report overall. However, the dentist mentioned an ominous warning..."I can already tell you he will be in braces one day." Ahhh, music to my ears...NOT. :)

Over the years, we have watched his teeth grow in. In. Not out. He has only lost four teeth total. We kept mentioning to the dentist we were concerned; he wasn't losing teeth like most kids his age. The dentist was never overly concerned...probably because he reads x-rays MUCH better than I do. On the last visit, our dentist said, "It is time; he needs to see the orthodontist very soon." He even offered to make an appointment FOR us, which told me it really was time. No more putting it off.

Today was the day. We ended up cancelling the appointment with the orthodontist he made the appointment with. I am sure that orthodontist is fine. I just never felt a "peace" about it. One Sunday I mentioned at church our search for just the right person (a big plus- accepting our dental insurance). Immediately the folks in our Bible Fellowship (which will always be Sunday School to me) told us that we needed to see Dr. G. Not only does he go to our church, but he apparently he is just a neat guy.

The appointment was at 3:15 which is when I can officially leave school. So Mark picked Child 1 up (and also delivered Child 4 to my mom's), and then went on to the appointment. At 3:15, I hightailed it out with the girls, dropped them off at my mom's, then went on to the appointment. The office is not a quick drive, which is a negative. On the way there, I was beginning to wonder what we had done.

Thankfully I got to the appointment before the ortho had even made his way in. The assistant who had taken a lot of pictures of Child 1's mouth shared some information with me. I knew some of it but had forgotten most of it (I will get to that in a second). Child 1, who had been a tad bit nervous about the appointment (I am pretty sure he envisioned having braces strapped on his teeth on the first visit, ending his popcorn eating days), was completely relaxed and in pre-teen heaven. He had a DS in hand and was playing some kind of video game.

A short bit later, the ortho appeared. He goes to our church; Mark knows him, but I only have seen him from afar. He immediately put me at ease. The best words I heard was "There is no reason to do anything right now. We need to wait until all of the permanent teeth are in first." Big sigh of relief. I have heard stories of kids getting braces young then having to have them again a few years later.

The funniest words we heard were "Wow, I am really puzzled. I have not ever seen x-rays like this." Our son is missing four teeth (permanent). The ortho said that it is not very uncommon to be missing two on top. It is a bit more rare to be missing the two on the bottom. Apparently it is VERY uncommon to be missing both. :) We have always said our son was unique. Now we have proof! (Sadly, the four teeth he is NOT missing are his wisdom teeth.)

By the way, the missing teeth explains why Child 1 hasn't lost more teeth. There is nothing to push the baby teeth out of the way. (Ironically, one of his other teeth IS loose, the permanent tooth is already pushing it out of the way.)

Overall, the appointment was good. We don't have to go back for six months. There is definitely work to be done, but the ortho said as much as he wants to get in and fix things RIGHT now, the best thing to do is wait until all of the teeth have moved into place and then go from there. So we have some time left before we start shelling out for the million dollar mouth. At least with this child. I have a feeling the 8 year old is next in line for a visit!

Oh, and while the drive is not really convenient which a few months ago I would have said was one of my top requirements, I am glad we have made the choice we made. We are all very comfortable with Dr. G and feel like he has our son's best interests at heart. The staff was very friendly. The assistant even printed off a copy of our son's "smile pics" and his x-rays per Child 1's request. All that makes for a happy kid and two happy parents.

Now, I am off to bed.

More later,

Reba

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thankfulness Abounds

Okay, before I forget, I have a PS for Santa Claus...I need someone to match all of those single socks that are piled high in the basket on top of the dryer.

Now that I have that out of the way, I thought I should actually turn thoughts to Thanksgiving which is happening before Christmas (no matter what the stores say or do). I would hope anybody reading (Here I feel a Bueller coming on, "Anyone? Anyone?) would know some of the obvious things I am thankful for, such as my husband, kids, extended family, my God. But here are a few more things I am thankful for to add to the list (just in case I sounded too whiny in my last post)...
  • a dishwasher. Oh, I joke (somewhat) about wanting another one. We use our dishwasher a LOT. And I am already mourning the day it decides to quit, though I don't blame it one bit. But I am SOOOO very thankful for the one we do have. Life would be very different without it.
  • a husband who goes with his wife's crazy schemes, like "I know we have stuff at the beginning of the day and you have a game to attend at the end, now, let's spontaneously jump in the car and head to the zoo..." without complaint. Or much complaint. (Pictures coming soon)
  • Sharpies. Do you know how often I use Sharpies both at home or at school? I am thankful for them.
  • Our newspaper. It isn't the same now; Mark's newspaper and MY newspaper are now ONE newspaper (cuts down on our recycling volume). I am just thankful we get a paper at all; I know they are a dying breed. While I do find a lot of my news online, for the best and most current local news, I cannot beat the newspapers.
  • For my minivan. I do complain a lot about it, and yes, I am still in mourning over the loss of my Honda Accord (which never would have held all four kids in the backseat). But it is a good vehicle for our family. It gives us room to move and store things, like books and other entertainment devices.
  • KLRC, our local Christian radio station. It is an uplifting experience each time I listen. Even more, I love to listen to our daughter join into the songs.
  • Ice cold Mountain Dews at the end of a long day. Love my Dews.
  • Ghiradelli dark chocolate with caramel squares...not only delicious but also healthy for my heart (the dark chocolate :)
  • My heated throw, especially on cold days.
  • Velcro shoes. If you have kids, you know why.
  • Digital cameras. I remember all too well using film. You had to be careful not to expose it to sunlight before it was finished. Then you would wait a few days for your pictures to come in, only to find your thumb was covering the lends in half of them...
  • Redbox movies. We just got our first one yesterday. I LOVED being able to walk right up, choose, and leave with a movie. Easy. My favorite kind!
  • DVR. I love being able to say, "Record this show any time it is on". Much better than being in the middle of the grocery store and realizing that you aren't home to set the VCR when needed.
  • A job that I love and look forward to each day.
  • Comments. I almost always enjoy the comments people leave on here. Usually makes me feel not so alone in the trials and tribulations of parenthood.

I can go on and on, and may do so this week. But for now, I keep dozing off. So I need to say farewell for tonight!

Reba

PS What little things are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa, I realize it is a bit early to send you a letter. However, the stores have NO problem playing Christmas music, I am seeing Christmas commercials on t.v., and there are already Christmas decorations going up wherever I look. Since I have quite a list of demands, I mean requests, I thought you might need a little extra time to work your magic.

Now, Santa, I think it goes without saying that I would like world peace, a thriving economy, for every orphan to find a family, for the pain and suffering of those with cancer or illness to be healed. Please know that while this list is mine and mine only, I would obviously wish for the above requests long before my own.

However, if you do take care of all of those requests, I have a few of my own that I would welcome...

I would like...
  • five minutes in the bathroom without one person coming to the door, yelling, "Mom???" then not having any type of emergency, at least real emergency.
  • two minutes without having a child seek me out to tattle on another child in the family.
  • for every child to wake up happy, to get dressed (with no help), and to be ready five minutes early.
  • for every child to be happy, no...thrilled, to partake in the meal that I have made. And even better that they might TELL me.
  • to get one picture of everybody in the family looking at me (the photographer) and SMILING a natural smile.
  • to have a fresh coat of paint (especially on major walls, doorframes, and baseboards) without me having to actually paint it.
  • a Roomba...I think it would always get to snack in our kitchen under the breakfast table.
  • an extra hour to my day (not to my kids' though)
  • an easier way to change the sheets on a bunk bed
  • an additional dishwasher so that dirty dishes never have to be IN the sink
  • a self-cleaning refrigerator
  • cute stylish pants that would automatically adjust to my body's weight and size
  • someone who could match all of those lonely socks I have piled in a basket on my dryer
  • a chauffeur to deliver children to their extracurricular activities
  • a magic wand to magically clean those rooms that belong to little people, the very ones that make me cringe each time I walk in the door
  • a volume control for anyone ages 12 and under in the house, including a mute button to be used when needed
  • an exercise program that requires little energy or effort but burns millions of calories
  • a guidebook to give me step by step directions on how to handle any situation or conversation that arises in our house on a given day
  • a personal hairstylist to fix the girls' hair in a cute and unique way every day instead of the one lone scrunchy I know how to put in (sometimes unevenly)
  • (thanks to my friend Robin for this one) a refrigerated oven that I can turn on remotely to start dinner
  • a professional landscaper to come and create a delightful yard that fits the needs of all of our family (and throw in a neat fort/swingset to boot)

Santa, I know there are so many more things, but I don't want to take up my fair share (I am trying to tone down Christmas after all :), so I will save those requests for another day.

Thanks,

Reba, a.k.a. the Mom

PS Yes, despite what my children have said, I have been good or good enough all year long...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grand Schemes

Such grand schemes I had today. I was going to leisurely write an entry on here, get a LOT of projects done around the house (while working around a doctor's appointment which is why I wasn't at school), exercise for thirty minutes. Ha!

The day started when I got up to eat breakfast with the kids so I could send them on their merry way. And it might have been merry had it not been for a certain little boy who has been a roller coaster of emotions since the time change. Oh my. The youngest has always been a bit high energy and high maintenance (slightly...not as much as he could be :). But the past couple of weeks...no words to describe it. He did get up happy enough, even willingly sat in his high chair (that varies from day to day). And he was just fine until his banana fell apart. Then he was not fine. And that set his mood for the rest of the morning. It was only an hour, but when Mark finally walked out of the house with him, I was wiped out for the day!

My first order of the day was grocery shopping. I had a BUNCH of other things I really wanted to do be doing (not even "relaxing stuff", more like cleaning/organizing). But the grocery store was a priority. I made a menu for the week and I needed the supplies. I will say that it was a treat to go to the store by myself and not after dark when I have taught and mommied all day. It is still not one of my favorite chores, but it was much needed. (Side note...I have really been making an effort to cook more)

Just to show you how tense I still was from the morning, I impulsively (which I don't do often) bought a devotion book called Time Out for Tired Moms. Of course, I am not sure when I will get a chance to read it, but simply buying it and knowing I wasn't alone was a bit of therapy for me...

I came home and had just enough time to put the groceries away before heading to my appointment. (Just a checkup)

After the appointment, I swung by Target to pick up a few needed items for my organization efforts. Then I drove through Sonic to grab a light (are Cheddar Bites light :) lunch. By the time I ate and relaxed for just a minute with a magazine, I had about an hour and a half to do any kind of organizing which is what I had hoped to do a lot of. Sigh!

I had a long list of projects I wanted to work on, like our laundry room, a pile of magazines I need to deal with, filing bills/invoices, cleaning out our son's closet, cleaning out underneath our kitchen sink. But I decided to work on a hall closet that had gotten out of control. I also needed to create a little space for the girls' overflow clothing. Winter clothes are so bulky anyway. When you have two little girls sharing a room, well, clothes, clothes, everywhere! So now one of our hall closets has two plastic drawers where we can put the overflow clothes. Then I can cycle them in and out as they get washed. I also tackled a mess of wrapping paper, gift wrap, and bows that had exploded all over a hall closet. I didn't quite finish but I did get most of it the way I wanted it.

So after all my grand schemes, that is what I accomplished. One doctor's appointment, a few groceries, and a somewhat organized closet.

Sigh again.

After school, I picked up the kiddos. Not surprisingly, the youngest's teacher admitted, "He has been a bit ornery today." (Do you think I was surprised? Only that I don't hear that more often :)

After snacks, I announced that we would play in the garage (so I could clean it). The kids LOVE to do that...they get to play on the driveway which we don't do very often...I worry too much about safety. They were ready to go. And play they did. They had a wonderful time playing. As for me, well, that grand scheme of cleaning was a bit out of reach. The two younger children require full time supervision since they have yet to find any kind of fear of the road and its occupants. I did get a few boxes moved around and hopefully cleaned out so I don't hear any complaints form the peanut gallery about how hard it is to park in there...time will tell on that one.

The kids would have stayed out forever. We ended up with a yard full of neighborhood kids plus my own. There was sidewalk chalk all over the driveway, basketballs rolling down the street, scooters and bikes parked by the side of the road. And when he could, Child 4 just delighted in running around the yard. Cheap fun. My favorite kind!

I did finally force my kiddos inside so I could get started on dinner.

The bad news is my grand schemes were just that-schemes...nothing more. Nothing every truly came to fruition. I even thought (mistakenly) that having that time alone would help me not feel so tired at night. As I sit here fighting to stay awake, it is clear to me that it is who I am right now...has nothing to do with my day or my daily activities. It is also clear that I need a whole week of no kids, no interruptions. One day is just not enough.

The good news is that I did get a little down time (even just belting out a song with my i-Touch with nobody there to tell me how bad it was :), much needed.

Tomorrow, it is back to school.

More later!
Reba

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getaway

I am a bit behind in blogging. I wanted to share a little (not all the details...I don't kiss and tell :) about our anniversary getaway two weeks ago. I want to remember it on those days when I wonder if we will ever have time alone again...

Our anniversary was officially October 26, a Monday. However, on October 24 (a Saturday), Mark surprised me by sharing that we would be dropping the kids off at my parents' house for the night and would have basically the next 24 hours to ourselves.

What a true gift! We love our kids, we really do. In fact, I said I would be ready to start date night only after we had hiked Tanyard Creek with them. But I have also mentioned a time or two that we just enjoy our time together. Alone. No interruptions. We are different as night and day but we have a lot of fun together.

So after the hike, we did drop the kiddos off. I don't know that any of them noticed. They were too excited to be at Grams and Grampops' house (more screen time and yummier food :). We went home and got ready for our date...dinner out.

For dinner we went to a place called Theos down off the square in Fayetteville. Just being there was a treat. It is a grown up place. No crayons offered at the door. I don't think there was even a kids' menu. We did learn that reservations are quite helpful at this restaurant, but thankfully they squeezed us in.

We enjoyed adult conversation. We enjoyed not having to wipe anyone's hands or cut up anyone's food. And we (at least I) REALLY enjoyed the filet mignon which was one of the most tender steaks I have had in a really long time. Or ever. It was delicious. Lately Mark and I have been watching cooking shows like "Chopped" and "Top Chef". When our food was brought to us, we both said right away that it had a "Chopped" look to it. Quite delicious! After we devoured our steaks (and I am not afraid to say I did), we treated ourselves to a dark chocolate caramel molten cake. Usually when we share a dessert, Mark eats a polite big then I finish it. Except this dessert was delicious. Mouth watering. Really, indescribable. And we had to fight over the last bites.

It was a wonderful evening.

In the morning, we slept in. Nobody woke us up demanding to eat or asking to watch cartoons. We just woke up at our leisure. I would be lying if I didn't say...it was heavenly. :)

After we got up and around, we headed down the road to Devil's Den to tackle the Yellow Rock hike. We love taking the kids hiking, but it was a treat to hike by ourselves (well, and the several other people with the same idea) too. Here are a few pics of the fall decor...



Mark checks out the land...

One of the many little creek areas we encountered

Yes, another together picture. We cannot help ourselves. :)
The view from Yellow Rock looking down at the creek below

Apparently it is called "Yellow Rock" because of the yellow tint it has to it. I know there is a more scientific explanation, but I am too tired to research it...
This time someone actually offered to take our picture together. A rare treat! (Windblown look and all)
Climbing uphill (probably what he feels like marriage to me is like each and every day :)
Another beautiful creek to enjoy!
Me and my honey
A little off road exploring

After the hike, we headed back to NWArk for a late lunch/early dinner at Carrabas (yum). Then we decided we had just enough time to go to the movies, a very rare treat, especially if it is not a cartoon. We saw the movie "Love Happens" with Jennifer Aniston. I am pretty picky with movies; I don't like horror movies at all and only watch an occasional adventure movie. I tend to stick with romantic comedies. Well, the movie was romantic, but it was not much of a comedy. I wasn't expecting it to be quite as heavy or sad as it was. I am not saying I didn't like it. I did. It was just so emotional.

Even through the tears...loved our night/day away. A true treat! (Thanks to Grams and Grampops for keeping up with our little people so we could have the together time.)

I better get busy. I am having a hard time keeping up this week with much of anything. I don't think I am handling the time change well.

Reba

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Skipping Christmas

Okay, I don't really want to skip Christmas. It is just that I have been thinking about and pondering a solution to how to tone down Christmas. And as I think about such things, that book by John Grisham comes to mind.

It isn't that I dislike Christmas...quite the contrary! Actually, Christmas is my favorite holiday. Of course, it is the celebration of our Savior's birth. Without that, my eternity would be uncertain. I also have such fond memories from my childhood, sugar cookies baking in my grandmother's kitchen, visiting with cousins I only got to see once or twice a year, reading the Bible story of the first Christmas before opening presents, not being able to sleep Christmas Eve night in eager anticipation.

Even now, around the day after Thanksgiving, my fingers itch to get out our holiday decorations (I just cannot do it earlier than that). I like to see the Christmas tree coming together, decorated with ornaments from my own childhood as well as the ornaments my children receive or make each year. I tear up every time I hear "O Holy Night", my favorite holiday carol. I try to instill some of my own childhood traditions for my family such as the reading of the first Christmas and making and decorating Christmas cookies together, as well as creating my own (like the Christmas books we wrap each year).

This year though I am considering how we can tone Christmas down a bit. Not Christmas itself, but the gift giving.

It isn't so much the money, though that is a factor too. It is the stuff. We have too much stuff. We have six people in our house, two girls in one room overflowing with stuff. And though they like to play, they typically only play with certain things, while other things sit on the shelves collecting dust.

Some have suggested getting rid of "stuff", and we do that frequently. We really do. But there is still a lot of stuff.

And by the time you get to the little ones, honestly, there are very few "needs" or even "wants"....(the older ones however will always have a long list of wants...they are the pioneers after all :)

Let me say that I LOVE gifts. Receiving gifts is one of my love languages. I wouldn't consider myself materialistic, I just love the surprise and the idea of someone loving me enough to gift me with something. That also means I love GIVING gifts. I take delight in trying to find "just the right thing" and seeing the joy when gifts are opened. One of our children is falling right in my footsteps on that.

So my dilemma this year is how to tone down Christmas a bit but still keep the magic. I asked for suggestions on Facebook and received some wonderful ideas. The problem is we already do some of it (we do participate in various giving projects). The other problem is the "magic". The "magic of Santa". Santa has been visiting our house for 10 years. He has established a very high standard for gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. I am trying to decide how we can ask Santa to "tone that down" a bit while keeping the magic alive. It would be one thing for me to say, "Hey, this year we are going to do some things differently". However, that guy at the North Pole...well, how does HE say that but still keep a twinkle in the kids' eyes?

Suggestions? :)

Reba