Friday, July 31, 2009

Gettin' Away

It sounds like a scene out of a crime movie...the getaway car.

Well, last week my husband suggested that we might be going somewhere this weekend. This weekend was our "getaway" weekend last year...San Francisco. Ahhh, the memories. I asked him point blank if we were going to New York City which has been a hope of mine for some time. He told me not this just isn't financially wise at this moment. NYC is not a cheap place to be, even for a few days. Disappointing for sure, but understandable. But he did mention that we might go...somewhere. That is all he gave me. If you know me at all, I am not a surprise person. I am the one who reads the last chapter of a book first. The only time I handled surprises was with pregnancy...I didn't want to know the gender of our babies until they were born. Anyway, I usual.

So, as the week has gone on, I have waited for more details...anything. Someone asked me about going to watch a show in Tulsa. I had to admit I didn't know what my schedule was like. Finally, yesterday morning, I woke up and read Facebook and saw this on Mark's profile...

Mark Cloud is looking forward to a "end of summer" weekend get away with Rebs.....

Of course, I asked where, I got nothing but more teasing. Torture, pure torture.

A little while later, I spotted another "update" on his profile...

Mark Cloud is hoping Reba's ankle is well enough for our weekend excursion.....

So of course, my mind was racing. I was thinking about several places around the U.S. which would require alot of walking until he informed me (via phone) that we were not flying anywhere. That narrowed it down quite a bit. Mark doesn't like to drive so if it was more than a few hours away, it was out of the picture. :)

Next message...

Mark Cloud doesn't have much time to pack for our trip tommorrow. Luckily it doesn't take long to pack for a couple of nights....especially when it's just comfortable clothes and a pair of tennis shoes.... Maybe bring one pair of bluejeans and a decent shirt.... You never know....

Do you see the torture I was dealing with? He was having way too much fun with it. I did a little detective work, like asking my mom if she knew anything. (She didn't) And I checked American Idol concert spots...none close by until the end of the month. (I have been secretly hoping to go to one and living vicariously through all of my friends who have!) But I didn't pull out the big guns (checking credit records)...why ruin the fun?

At that point, I had a few places in mind. Branson, Tulsa, Dallas, Kansas City, and Mount Magazine. I even thought it could be a local bed and breakfast. We don't get time alone around here often. Well, the next "update" gave me the final clue...

Mark Cloud just saw a great looking MOUNTAIN in this MAGAZINE.... I should go there someday with Rebs.. :)

Why Mt. Magazine? Well, I have a couple of friends who have told me how beautiful it is. (It is a mountain here in Arkansas...has the highest point in Arkansas, fairly new lodge and cabins, supposed to be very relaxing and beautiful) And we have been talking about hiking more as a family if we can ever have free weekends. In fact, I looked at staying there for a couple days over spring break as a family but they were booked. And apparently, Mark and I are just on the same wave length. It happens after almost 13 years of marriage. :)

The final update...

Mark Cloud has decided, God willing, that Reba and I will always take weekend trips this time of year.....sometimes it will be San Francisco and sometime Mt. long as I'm with the love if my life, it's all good.....

I know, I know, he is a sweetheart, other than the whole torture thing. (Of course, in the midst of all of his "updates" there was a lot of banter with me and others...the fun of Facebook!)

So, I may or may not post this weekend. Who knows. I am looking forward to some time away. We always have a good time...we are like little kids, free from responsibilities. We do plan on doing some hiking; I am hoping my ankle is up for it!

Oh, if you haven't done so, please stop by and visit Bonnie's blog. Today is her wedding would have been their fifth. It is also the first one without him. Today is going to be a hard day. You don't have to know her to say, "Hey, thinking about you today" on her comments. I don't think you even have to do a word verification which I always have trouble with. Just type up a few words and click. Even if you don't do that, I know praying for her comfort and peace today makes a difference.

For now, I am off to do some school supply shopping with the kiddos...have three to buy for. Ugh! Should be fun. Or more torture...not sure which. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Best (and Worst) of Both Worlds

I have been thinking about the two divisions of moms. There are "working moms" (which we all know means working outside the home because by virtue of the fact you are a mom, you are already working...kind of redundant) and "stay at home moms" (which we also know is not really a true label because if you are a mom, you likely would LOVE to be at home but instead are running here, there, and everywhere).

I guess technically I am a "working mom". I do work outside of the home ten months of the year. But if you look at my contract, I technically am only contracted for 185 days (I think) which is really just a tiny bit more than half of the year. So in a way, I am in both worlds...

When I was growing up, there were three things I wanted to "be". I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a wife. And I wanted to be a mom. In my mind, there was never any question that I would have to "pick and choose" a role.

When our firstborn was a baby, I didn't question at all that I was supposed to be in the classroom. For one thing, he stayed with my mom. I figured he was getting better care there (experienced mom) than being with me (inexperienced mom) all of the time. Plus, and it is hard to "confess" this at times, I love being in the classroom. It is just a very natural "home" for me.

I did face some criticism for continuing to work. I will never forget one Bible Study where someone asked me point blank how I could as a Christian continue to work outside of the home as a teacher. Of course, I remember thinking, "Who do you want in the classroom teaching your kids?"

Like I said, I am technically "home" half of the year. And I do believe God put the desire to teach in my heart. If He wants me to be at home, I feel like I will know differently. That hasn't happened yet.

So, having both roles, I can give you a little insight into both of them...

Working Mom:

  • Quality Time...I know that sounds funny but when I am with my kids, I am truly with them. In fact, I have mine (part of them) with me from 3 o'clock on. It is a rare thing for us to be out without kids nor for me to get out by myself unless they are in bed. I don't participate in Wednesday night church activities because of the little ones...they have been away all day; I just cannot put them in the nursery for the night. So we do have alot of time together. Not to mention, I am with the older kids(this year it will be three) pretty much all day. They aren't necessarily WITH me but I can see them anytime, check in with their teachers at any given moment, and know what they are up to.
  • The house actually stays somewhat cleaner because we are not here as much!
  • One of the benefits of working is that we pay someone to clean our house (the deep cleaning stuff) regularly so that is one less thing we have to do on the weekends.
  • Mark really steps up when I am working. He does as much if not more laundry than I do and is good about helping with keeping the house cleaned, running to the store, etc.
  • I am actually a bit more organized when I am working. We lay out clothes the day before, shop for a couple weeks at a time, and have a pretty good system for keeping up with paperwork. During the summer, some of that falls to the wayside.
  • I get good "time" with the youngest. Really, between meals and naptime, I don't miss many hours of his playtime.
  • Thus far, my kids don't seem too traumatized by childcare. We have done the mom took care of all of the kids at least for a while. We have also been with daycare centers and in-home babysitters. All have been fine for what we needed at the time. I am thankful for the kids' preschool especially (which they can start at 3) gives them a good start to school.
  • We actually spend less money during the school year (other than Christmas/birthdays) because unless I really need something, I try to avoid stores! No energy for it.
  • I get to do something I love. I really love my job. I love watching little minds learn. It makes my heart smile to make a difference (or hope that I am). Not to mention, each day is a learning experience for me too. I am learning different cultures, different personalities, and different perspectives. I am hopefully becoming a better person because of it!

Stay at home Mom:

  • More time for cooking...that is difficult at times throughout the school year
  • Fitting it all in. It isn't easy, and I am in no way saying that I have tons of spare time on my hands in the summer, but I do find I exercise more if I fit it in during the day before my energy is gone. The same holds true to Bible Study and even just the mundane household chores. When I am at school, I come home and have a short window to fit it all in. Then I stay up later which cannot be good for my health!
  • Seeing my children in all times; instructing them throughout the day. Just this summer I have been able to teach my older kids how to empty the dishwasher and fold dishtowels. I gave Child 3 a "computer lesson" not long ago, and Child 4 has been learning the fine art of cleaning up the house. Even just teaching manners is a bit easier since I have multiple opportunities throughout the day to explain that when someone is on the phone, it is rude to talk to them...
  • Freer weekends. During the school year, weekends are used for running errands, organizing/cleaning up (the "surface stuff"), and catching up on paperwork. When it is summer, I can work on that throughout the week and have freer weekends to just relax and enjoy the time with kids.
  • More time to minister. It is harder to help out people during the school year just because time is so limited. But during the summer, if someone needs a meal in the middle of the day, I am able to help out that way.
  • More social activity for the kids. During the summer, we can go on playdates or swim dates. We limit those activities more in the fall since again, our time is so limited.
  • Staying home is not an easy task! I know some people think staying at home is eating bonbons and watching soaps all day (we rarely turn the t.v. on and I cannot compromise my weight with bonbons), though I doubt it is anyone who actually stays at home. I laugh when people ask how my "vacation" is going. It is not a vacation being at home. I am on duty 24 hours. There are some days being at school (with 20 kids) is easier than being at home all day (with 4)!
  • Staying at home can be a struggle at times to NOT overfill our days. I am very protective of family time during the school year and will limit activities. But when I am at home, it is easier to fill up our days with activities since we have the "time"...suddenly our "stay at home time" involves very little stay at home time (which may benefit one child but not all of them).
  • Less guilt. I don't feel as guilty taking a nap or having a night out for myself when I am at home all of the time.

So there you have it...the best (and worst) of both worlds. I am glad and blessed to be a part of both of them. It has always bothered me that there has to be a division among moms or that anybody feels like they need to defend their position, whichever it may be. I do feel some people are called to be at home full time, some are called to work full time. Or like me, some of us get to "straddle" both worlds. In the end, are we really that different? I imagine no matter where you are called to spend your days, you love your child and hope and pray that you are being the mother he/she needs you to be. Our lives may be different but our role is the same...mother to our children. Instead of arguing about who is right, I think we need to support one another. Motherhood is not an easy career, no matter who you are.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Couple of Links

I wanted to share a couple of links for you...

Bonnie's anniversary is coming up on Friday. It would have been their fifth anniversary. My heart just aches...Friday is going to be a really hard day. Please pray for God's comfort for this day. And I would encourage anybody reading to stop by her blog and leave her a message. It is okay if you don't know her. Even just saying, "Hey, I don't know you but I am thinking of you/praying for you on this day..." would mean so much.

The other link I wanted to share is Care Calendar. Someone set this up to provide food for Bonnie shortly after the accident. I cannot say enough good things about it. It is a free service to help coordinate meals (and other needs) for anyone dealing with trauma/difficult circumstances or even the happy moments of a new baby. Once the calendar is set up, people just need a password to log in and "sign up" for a date to provide food or a service. The part I like (so much better than passing e-mails around) is that once you log on, you can see at a glance what days meals are still needed. There is also a place to show what people are bringing so you don't have six people deliver lasagnas in one day. I would definitely encourage anyone who finds themselves in a coordinating situation to visit the website. (There is a lot of information just on the homepage)

Okay, I am off to nap. More later (I hope)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Put Your Right Foot Forward...

Okay, so you may remember in June (4th to be exact), I tumbled down the one and only step of our home in the garage (well, other than the front steps that I don't actually go out/down most of the time) on a toy a small child had conveniently played with in the garage. Ever since then, my dumb ankle as I not so lovingly refer to it has not been the same.

Now my husband is a sweet guy. He can be very romantic. He is very loving. He treats me like a queen...well, most of the time. :) For whatever reason, twisted ankles do not turn him into Florence (or the male equivalent) Nightingale. Because he was and is athletic, he has had a few of these messed up ankles in his time. Apparently they are a way of life for him. In my defense, I am not athletic. I have had only two true "injuries" (one knee, one ankle), and they were a really long time ago when my young body could heal faster. And the same holds true for him...he was much younger when he dealt with his injuries. He also didn't have four kids, one being a very busy toddler, to chase after. So while he was sweet to bring me ice, the sympathy has been a little lacking...he is just matter of fact. Like I said, I love the man and think he is an incredible husband...just not a great nurse. I can only hope that if for some reason I were seriously injured or ill, he could learn...

Well, fast forward nearly two months. The ankle is still swelling. It still hurts. I feel like an old lady when I get out of bed...I hobble the first few minutes of the day due to stiffness. And for whatever reason, Joshua has a real knack for accidentally kicking my ankle, then the cycle begins again. It doesn't keep me from moving. I am pretty stubborn. I do most everything regardless of the pain. However, I have slacked off in the exercise department a tad. Certain things are really painful.

I finally decided it was time to see a doctor. I don't go very often, so that was a big step for me. My doctor's office has on-line appointment scheduling so late last night I put in a request. This morning when I woke up, I found an e-mail with an appointment time for later in the morning.

We attempted a leisurely morning, though nothing around here is truly least for me. Then we drove over to my mom's house to visit with my sister, her kids, and my cousin's son. The kids got to go swimming all morning long. After I got everyone settled, I drove over to the doctor's office. (Note: driving uses your right foot a LOT...)

It took just a few minutes to get into see the doctor. I was a bit surprised since the waiting room was packed. When they weighed me (why must they do that every single time???), I turned around and refused to look. Again, my exercise has been lacking due to the "injury".

After a few minutes, a doctor came in. For sick appointments, I just see whoever is available. That was the case today. He was a nice enough fellow, but guess who he reminded me of? My dear husband. He poked and prodded for a very short time then pronounced that I had a sprained ankle that was likely being re-injured regularly. I will not lie. I wanted there to be something wrong...something that sounded bad but wasn't too serious...something I could tell my dear husband was truly wrong with me. No luck...just a "sprained ankle" diagnosis. (Just for the record, I still think I tore something)

I left with orders (verbal) to wear the brace all of the time and a prescription for an anti-inflammatory medicine. It is a lot like taking Tylenol, but I only have to take it once a day.

Now, as I drift off to sleep, I am acutely aware of this foot/ankle. It hurts, though I have the brace on.

What is your second opinion? :)

Monday, July 27, 2009 usual

I am so behind on blogging. I have not gotten to put up pictures from Swim Ranch or the weekend festivities...hopefully later today. It was a wild and wooly kind of week last week! This week's plans: as little as possible! I have one appointment this morning, and we have football/cheerleading practices in the evening. Other than that, we are chillin' over here!

I am finally going to the dr. today for my dumb ankle. I am afraid they are going to tell me nothing is wrong, but it is actually hurting more now than it has in weeks! I find myself wishing it will swell up just so I can show the dr. what I am dealing with.

The "back to school" panic is setting in. It really isn't panic, it is just that nonstop thinking of "What am I going to do about...?" Yesterday at church, I tried so hard to pay attention, but my back to school hallway display was just a constant thought in my mind. It is one of the many things teachers ponder this time of year!

I have been thinking about this time last year...our trip to San Francisco. Such a wonderful hurrah at the end of the summer. Sigh!

Okay, I better go get started on our lazy day. I will try to write more tonight.

Oh, please keep praying for Jeremy who just started his chemo. The side effects have NOT been fun. :(

Okay, really, gotta go. More later!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stick a Fork in Me...

I am done.

With garage sales that is. And swimming lessons. :)

I will post some swimming pics later. I will say it was a good week after the initial shock of finding out we HAD lessons this week. I am so thankful I didn't show up this coming Monday thinking we were having them. :)

Okay, the garage sale is done. And before I do or say anything else, I want to say thanks to some people. Thanks to my mom for keeping the kids Friday morning. The sale was so busy that morning, I don't know how I could have done it while keeping up with kids, especially the youngest! That is a full time job in itself. And a big thank you to my sister for helping me with the sale on Friday. I could NOT have done it without her. We were going to close at 10:30 because of swimming lessons; we got a rush of people around 10:25. She stayed by herself until my mom could come help close up so we could get to lessons on time. She also came last night to help me re-organize and set out some more things. I wish I had asked her the night before! Also, thank you to our neighbor at the end of the street for letting us put a sign in his yard. Thanks to my hubby for picking up the permit for us as well as getting some tables for us to use. And thank you to my school family who were having a sale at the school (I had too much to do it there this year :() and directed people our way too.

Now that those are out of the way, here are a few lessons I learned this week. I am saying up front that I am NOT a garage sale expert. I try to have them as little as possible. :) And I don't make thousands of dollars. This was our most successful sale yet though. And I did learn a few lessons just in case you too decide that you need to torture yourself and have a sale yourself... :)

1. Fridays. I have always heard to have sales on Fridays. It is hard to do that for me during the year, so we have always done Saturdays only. The only reason we did it this time was because my very sweet little sister offered to help. I am so glad we did. I made 5/7 of the money on Friday. It was busy pretty much nonstop. Today was fine but nothing like yesterday.
2. Craigslist. I don't know why I just found Craigslist, but I had been told "You have to put your garage sale on there..." And I am glad I did. It is free advertising. I never asked people how they found us but I know that it didn't hurt at all to have it out there!
3. Prices. I had "fixed" prices for clothes so I didn't label them. Next time I may not label anything but "big ticket" items (for us this time, our biggest ticket items were only 10 dollars :). People usually ask anyway, the tags never stick, and it was much easier to just say, "All clothes for a dollar".
4. Value. You cannot think about the true value of your items. I save my "best" of the "best" for consignment sales. Garage sales will typically not yield a lot of money. To me, if I get rid of it and make a little money, it was a success. As today went on, the prices dropped. By the end, everything was a quarter. EVERYTHING. People were leaving with bags of clothes (lots of kids' clothes) for just a few dollars. I was happy to see it going. They were happy to get a bargain.
5. Getting ready. It is going to take a lot longer to get ready than you think it will. I had most of my things sorted in trash bags. We had bags and bags of stuff. I decided to pin two piece outfits together, which for kids' clothes, is most of them. :) And I am glad I did. But it took a long time. I wish I had done that ahead. I stayed up until 3:30 on Thursday night/Friday morning, then I had to get up early on Friday. I still didn't get a lot of things out. I ended up sticking bags under the table to get out when there was a "lull" in our sale...there weren't many. Guess what? People didn't care. They happily went through the bags! I wondered why I had put anything out in the first place. :)
6. Free box. Sometimes you have stuff not really worth much but somebody else might appreciate. I put a free box at the end of the driveway and throw that stuff in. Toward the end of the sale, we added a lot to it. People loved it, it all went to new homes, and best part...I didn't have to see it anymore!
7. Garage door. Friday morning I was trying to wake up from my "nap", running around finishing up. Mark was taking the kids to my mom's. We were going to start the sale at 7, once my sister was there. As Mark and the kids were leaving, they chose to go out the garage door for some reason. He opened it up, and suddenly I had people IN my garage. Now I had tables in there that needed to go out. It was crowded. I had planned on moving them at opening time. Suddenly it was opening time (early) and I couldn't move anything...too many people. It was a rough start to the day. The joys of sales. :)
8. Valuables. We didn't really have any "valuables" but we did have a few technological things. I kept those close to me. Apparently some people will steal from garage sales. I don't know that we have had that problem but I have heard stories. I am all for prevention...
9. Memories. It is hard to not attach memories to things. As I folded those baby clothes, I was flooded with memories of my children IN them. If you focus too much on the memories, you end up keeping things you don't really need (and that others can use). You also have to be careful to not attach value to those is easy to want to "overprice" just based on the value to YOU which will not be the value to the rest of the world.
10. Change. I have learned to always have 20's ready...almost always someone will pay with a large bill. (This time is the first time that didn't happen). You also need a lot of 5's and 10's...we got several 20 dollar bills that required change. Oh, and as for the money, I wear it in a fanny pack on my waist so I can keep up with it and have it on hand.

Sorry, not exciting stuff today. Just lessons learned.

In a couple years when I decide I am going to do this again, direct me to this post so I can remember what to do and what not to do! I am a slow learner!!!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garage Saling

I only have a few minutes because I need to get to work...we are having a garage sale tomorrow and Saturday. (I decided to go ahead and have it for just a few hours tomorrow since we have swimming sister is here to help and I need to get it done) We have a LOT of stuff to pass on to others who might appreciate it more than us. :) I have a feeling it is going to be a long night. (Not to mention, tonight is gymnastics and swimming lessons earlier today)

Last night Mark and I had the privilege of going out for a "date night". I really wish we did it a bit more often, though it can get expensive to do. One of our interns from my school last year came for a few hours...the kids LOVE her. I am sad that in just a few weeks, she will be leaving for a nanny position in New York. I already have asked her though to come sometime next week so I can go work at the school without any "helpers" with me like I usually have.

Anyway, it wasn't a majorly romantic evening (by the world's terms), but I always enjoy a night out with Mark. We stopped by to pick up some clothes racks for the garage sale. Then we stopped by my school and visited with some friends there who are getting ready for a garage sale there this weekend. We also measured for a loft for my classroom. We did enjoy a yummy (but too filling) Italian dinner at a local joint, then we did a little shopping. Nothing fancy, but it was a nice evening. It is always nice to have a little time to just talk (and eat) without interruptions.

Swimming lessons are going well. The youngest has learned a lot. Today I was so proud of Child 1; he got two more "flags" (accomplishments), one being his diving flag. I think he has five flags to go. He won't make it to his "fish" this year (like "graduation") but I think next year we will get there. He has worked so hard. Child 3 is loving the jumps off the diving board, and Child 2 is starting to dive off the board. I will have some pics tomorrow from the week.

Quick prayer update on the two young men I have mentioned. One Jeremy was finally released from the hospital. He is still dealing with some lingering issues from his cancer, but I know it must be good to be home! The other Jeremy started chemo today. He just had a PET scan and the results were positive. Please continue to lift them both up. They have both been on my mind recently.

Okay, I must get to work. Sorry for such a blase post (I know that isn't spelled quite right but I am too tired to check the right way). It has been a hectic week, and honestly today has been a bit of a challenge...some challenging kids here today. :)


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Earning My Keep

I still would like to post about Joshua...there are so many things I want to remember about this age. And I have some other posts in mind. But tonight's will be brief, because I am really tired.

Do you ever have one of those days where you don't necessarily have plans but you know you want to get something done?

Well, that was my day.

When I woke up, I didn't hop out of bed. (I did sleep in until 8 which I haven't done in a LONG time so that was a treat) I lounged a little bit until I could no longer ignore the noise coming over the monitor. Child 4 was awake.

Mark took the oldest fishing this morning, so it was just me and three. We made muffins (a mix). Afterward, I started moving. I got my bed made and tried to straighten up the bedroom (that ended too soon). Then I gathered all of the dirty clothes of the house...there were a LOT this week. And I started the sorting process. Child 4 got right there and handed me clothes, "Help, Mom." He likes to help. We need to work on sorting skills a bit though. If I don't take them fast enough, he just tosses them wherever he wishes. Afterwards, I bustled to get some loads done so I wouldn't have a very messy living room.

Oh, quick side note. Child 3 asked me what day it was. I told her "Saturday" or "Stay at Home Day". She said, "Oh, I don't want to wear my eye thing today." The funny thing was I had forgotten she was supposed to wear her "eye patch"...she reminded me. So I had her get it on. I will try to take pics of her. They are really cute, very girly. We tell her she looks like a pirate. She complained a few times but she was a trooper about it.

During that time, my big boys came home (no fish caught today). Then they turned around to go to the oldest's first football practice. I love that he loves to play football. I know team sports are good for him. I just have to remind myself, "It is only for a few weeks." It is so hard for me to give up that family time. During these events, we become like two families. Anyway, I digress (yet again).

I have to say that Child 4 typically likes to be entertained. And one of the things that has been a bit of a frustration with him is his inability to play independently. He is usually within feet of me. If I am in my room, he is right there (bringing his toys along), demanding attention. If I am in the kitchen, he suddenly decides he is hungry and cannot leave my side. For whatever reason (I am going to give God the credit), today he and Child 3 played together beautifully, mostly in his room. It was such a treat. I had so much to do today, and it is SO hard for me to do things with my little "helper".

Then I got some gifts wrapped for a baby shower while the two younger ones colored. It was fun watching them color. One is working on staying "inside" the lines and completely coloring a picture.The other just does free style. He did draw circles today...that was the first time I had seen him do that. He got so excited. He either told me it was a ball or a "hole". I don't remember. But he kept making them.

Next I decided to do a little vacuuming. I have noticed a lot of cobwebs recently (we seem to have lots of spiders join our house throughout the year). I thought I would vacuum just a little. Well, that ended up being a big job, because I had to get out a ladder to reach the uppermost corners. I asked on Facebook if that counted as exercise since I was doing a lot of climbing and reaching. I got an overwhelming "Yes" from the "experts" (a.k.a. my friends :).

I took a little break for lunch when everybody was home. Then I started back working on laundry. Boy, do we wear a lot of clothes. Then I started the chore of going through my closet...big chore. We are having a garage sale this next weekend, so it had to be done, though it still needs a lot more work and attention. Once the kids were down for a nap, I thought I would take a little bath before tackling the closet again...little did I know what the biggest chore of the day would be...

During my bath I noticed that the water wasn't particularly clean. Now I bathe regularly so I was pretty sure it wasn't me. And our bathtub does get cleaned frequently. I started looking closer at the water (which totally interrupted my reading of a magazine time...such a rare treat). Something was SWIMMING in the water. I tried not to was very small. But I "captured" it with a magazine insert. Then I decided to finish my "bath" in the shower...I didn't feel so clean anymore.

After my shower, I did a quick search of the internet and found out that it was likely "drain fly" larvae I had found. And I am guessing that they were inside my bathtubs jets which I don't ever use. I read about how to clean out the jets and got started. I won't go into details...I will just say that one small relaxing bath turned into a major cleaning session I hadn't counted on for the day! The good news is I think the jets are pretty clean now. And the other good news is that I will begin cleaning them more regularly.

Anyway, I finished up my clothes clean out. I still hope to work some more in the closet though. But time ran out. I got dressed up and went to the baby shower (it was for Bonnie and her baby boy to be...please keep praying), leaving the troubles and frustrations of the day behind.

Some days I don't feel like I get much accomplished...I am in survival mode. I count it a good day if everyone got dressed, all beds are made, and everyone has three meals during the day. Today though, I really felt like I earned my keep. And now, I must go to bed. :)


Friday, July 17, 2009

Racing the Clock

Okay, I had such good intentions last night about getting to sleep in a "timely manner". First I thought I would shoot for "11:30". Yep, not a chance of that. I had too much to do. So then I thought, "Midnight". Oh, wait, I wasn't finished with my stuff yet. So then I thought, "12:30". And I made it into bed right around that time. So did Mark. Then we started chatting about the day, sharing about kids, etc...and the next thing I knew it was 1:30 and I was still awake. :( I tried though. I will keep working on it. Well, maybe not tonight. But next week.

Okay, so as is typical for me, I had tons of random thoughts are just a sampling.

  • On the way to pick Child 2 up for a doctor's appointment, I saw two shoes in the middle of the road. They were nice sneakers/running shoes. And they weren't anywhere close to each other. And all I could think was, "Who belongs to those nice shoes? And why aren't they wearing them?"
  • Why is it that one road can have more than one name? I was driving in a tiny little town between two good size towns. There was a sign stating that at that point, the street name changed (totally different name). Why? It is a small town. I have a hard time believing that one name cannot handle one street there.
  • Every time I see a helicopter (which I did today), I say a quick prayer. We don't typically have helicopters around here unless it involves medical emergencies.
  • Before I had kids, we were early to everything. In fact, we probably drove people crazy coming to parties a little before the scheduled time when everyone else came thirty minutes AFTER the scheduled time. That is not a problem any more. With each child, our moments of lateness has greatly increased. Thus the name of today's post. I never want to leave TOO early, but then I feel like I am always racing against the clock to get somewhere on time. And our traffic around here can be very unpredictable. That being said, somehow I managed to drop kids off at my mom's house (Thanks, Grams!), pick Child 2 up early at music camp at our church, and get to her appointment on time.
  • Between music camp, appointments, social events (for the kids), etc...I have driven more this week than I care to think about. I am pretty sure the next time I turn on my van, it will automatically drive itself to church. I have also tried every possible path to get to church. Every time I go a different way, Child 3 asks me, "Why are you going this way, Mom?" (She is like the ULTIMATE backseat driver!) And every time I say, "I like to try different ways."
  • Ironically I was taking my little patient to the doctor to discuss her probable latex allergy. That isn't the ironic part. It was that when we were walking INTO the office, she somehow got her finger smashed in the door. Suddenly our "urgent care" visit really felt urgent! (It is fine now, just a small abrasion and really sore)
  • I love our kids' doctor. He is about as laid back as they come. And that is good for someone like me who can be a bit...high strung. It isn't that he doesn't care. I know he does. He just handles things in a calm manner. I tell him about our daughter's reaction to balloons, and he very calmly writes me prescriptions for epi-pens (which the school will likely require) and tells me that more than likely, it won't be a problem because she knows to stay away from latex (which she does better than me about). No scare tactics, grilling, etc...
  • Our daughter informed our doctor that she is only allowed one hour of screen time a day. She of course said it in a complaining way. The doctor's reaction, "Well, that is because your mom and dad are following the guidelines suggested by the American Academy of should only have one hour of screen time a day." Can I just say again how much I love our kids' doctor?
  • I informed the doctor that he will get to see me again on Monday with the two little ones for their checkups. I told him that Child 3 in particular is NOT happy about having shots and has told me (several times) that she will NOT be going. I won't blame him (the doctor) at all if he suddenly becomes ill over the weekend. He has no idea what is about to hit with that crew!
  • To get Child 2 ready for her program tonight (a culmination of all of her hard work this week), I had to put her hair in pigtails because the show had a "farm setting". Okay, I know I am a girl, but that does NOT make me an expert on this. Why don't they have classes for moms to learn how to do little girls' hair? I really need one (a class that is).
  • As we were driving home one of the times we made the trip today, Child 2 stated, "The fence for that field is gone." My statement, "Was there a fence there before?" I am so detail oriented. :)
  • On the way home, That same child also said, "Mom can I live with you when I am older until I get my own house?" I told her that usually people move out around 18-20 years of age. She asked where she was supposed to live then. I told her an apartment would work. Her response? "What??? That costs money!"

There is so much more I could share, but this is probably enough for one day.

Please continue to pray for my friend Jill's husband (Jeremy) as he recovers from surgery and will start treatments very soon for colon cancer. Also pray for Jill as she tends to him and their young boys!

Please too pray for Bonnie. Her baby boy's birth will likely occur in just a little over a month. Obviously the birth of a baby is cause for celebration. However, it will also just be another reminder of a special day without her husband physically here. Please pray for to find rest and peace in Him.

Okay, I better get to bed. The kids will be up much earlier than I will want to be!


Catching the Zzzz's

Okay, just lately I have been reminded about how important sleep is, which is funny to me because I don't do it often. Once the kids go down, I try to get stuff done (or just sink on the bed with the computer out of complete exhaustion) and before I know it, it is 1:30. Just so you know, if I am on the computer, I am not necessarily goofing. I am working on finances, commenting on blogs, creating lists, checking out current adoption stories (of others, not us), editing or uploading photos, etc. Anyway, this morning's Bible verse was...

Psalm 127:2 It is no use for you to get up early and stay up late, working for a living. The Lord gives sleep to those He loves.

Oops! I think that verse was written for me.

So, I am going to have to be VERY brief because I need to get to bed. I cannot just start going to bed at 11:00, but I figure if I am there by 12:30 tonight, that is a start. I did have a nap today too.

I did want to give one follow up story. Remember how my kids were working for a Nintendo DS? Well, shortly after that post, a blog friend M. contacted me to let me know that she had a DS that she doesn't use anymore. She offered to send it to us. She told me we could set the price for the kids and then give that money to charity. Isn't God neat? It isn't that we needed a DS or that it was a high priority. I just love how God is in the details...even these little ones! Anyway, it arrived yesterday. I have already had some fun with it of the games that came with it is Brain Age which would have been first on my wish list. The kids quickly counted their money when we gave them a total. We are going to donate the money to our daughter's hogar; orphanages in Guatemala are really struggling with the halt of adoptions there. So, true to our word, we bought the kids their first game tonight. Now we will see how the "sharing" goes. I also need to figure out if we will limit the time on it or just watch and see.

Okay, my time is up. I need to get some Zzzz's. I want to obey His word. Plus, I exercised a LOT more than usual today (not on purpose necessarily) so I am wiped out. :)

More later.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Words of Affirmation

Tonight my husband gave me one of the sweetest gifts. He complimented me on my role as a mom (initiated by a discipline decision I made and stuck with amid the cries of unfairness). They were words I needed to hear because it had been kind of a long day, partially due to some children and partially due to me. Anyway, I am blessed by his words of affirmation.

To me, being a mom is the hardest job in the world. There are days that going and facing 20 kindergarten students is easier than being at home. It isn't that I don't love my "job". I do. But to me motherhood is the ultimate responsibility. I think about it ALL of the time. Almost anything I do throughout the day has a purpose. Yet, to me (the control freak), one of the hardest parts about being a mom is that ultimately, my kids will decide what kind of people to be. I can do (or try to do) all of the "right things" and yet they may take very different paths than what I hope for them. I am guessing God must shake His head and laugh at He gave Paradise (Garden of Eden) and what did His children do?

I am a bit of a perfectionist, though I have "eased" up in that part of my life in recent years...more for my sanity than anything. I want to do my "jobs" well. And parenthood to me is THE ultimate job. Yet no other role makes me feel like more of a failure on a daily basis. Some of the feelings of failure come from me. "Why did I react that way? Why did I raise my voice? Why didn't I see what she needed from me?" And some come from the kids (not necessarily them but their actions...), like "Why is he acting like that? How did I go wrong? Is she always going to have that trait?"

I am thankful I have a mom to talk to. She is my "parenting expert" (Just look at how I turned out :) and can be counted on for good, fair wisdom when facing parenting dilemmas. I am fortunate to have friends and family to share my struggles with. It is comforting to talk to my sister and find out that our kids are doing some of the same things. You would think with four kids, I would feel like more of an "expert" in this area, but they are all so different (yet not one of them is a quiet, reserved type...wouldn't you think the odds would be in my favor on that one?). I am grateful for co-workers, many of them "experienced parents", who can give me the view from the other side of the road I am trying to cross. I am blessed even with Facebook. When I post about a trying time or make a joke about the day, I have encouraging words (most of the time) in moments. Same for my blog friends.

Still, there are some days I worry about my blood pressure. I am a worrier and as a mom, worry is a constant companion. I tend to analyze every behavior. And I want to respond in the right way for each of them.

I do believe the Bible is my guide for life. And it has some good advice and commands for parents. I am always quoting for my husband, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children..." But it is a guideline for life. I have yet to find the verses that tell me when to take a pacifier away or how to handle "screen time" with my kids. I need a manual.

Ultimately, I realize I can only do my best (realizing and truly holding that belief in your heart are too totally different things) and basically hope for the best. I can pray. I can be consistent. I can be firm. I can be loving. I can meet physical needs. I can encourage. However, in the end, they will choose for themselves who to be. And none of the worrying in the world will change that. That would be the "free will" we learn about.

Some days I wonder if I should spend as much energy and thought on it. We all know people who had really rough childhoods come out on top...wonderful citizens and successful in life. And we also know that sometimes parents with only the best intentions who invested all of their time in their children end up on their knees in tears watching their children choose poorly whether it be crime, drugs, or even just getting caught up in the world. When I think about those times, it is tempting to wonder, "Why bother?"

But God has given me this role. And I take to heart the command to do all unto Him. And that includes parenting. So for now I will stay the course, even though the course can be a bit daunting at times. I will continue to commit myself to guiding my children. And maybe, just maybe, I will learn to "let go and Let God" in times of worry. (Don't could happen) And of course I will pray. I will pray for my kids and the life He has planned for them. And I will pray to give thanks for the toughest job I have ever been "assigned to"...hopefully out of this role, I will become more the child of the King I was designed to be as I lean on Him in my weaknesses (which I am finding are many). Sounds good anyway. :)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Raising a Reader

I want to preface my blog post with a statement that I am not an expert. I am not an expert on anything. I never want to come across as someone who knows it all. I always feel like "experts" end up getting really humbled in the end. You know those parenting experts? The ones with no kids? Look at the kids we, I mean "they", end up with. :)

As a child, my parents would take me to the public library. I would leave with a stack of books. I often was found with my nose stuck in a book. Even now, I love to read a good book but I have to limit myself...once I start reading, it is very hard for me to stop. I tend to forget there is life going on around me...a house, chores, kids. That kind of stuff. So now I save big reading for trips, either airplane rides or long rides in the car.

I was thinking today about my kids. They are readers. Okay, only two are reading words at this point, but they all seem (at least at this point) to have a love for books. I would love to take credit for all of it, but I cannot. They have had wonderful teachers who have introduced them to the joy of reading. I would like to think that surely I have fostered that in some sense though. As a teacher and a mom, I thought I would share a few "raising readers" tips.

1. Read together. I would love to say, "Read daily with your child." And I can say that. However, I live in this very real life. It doesn't always happen. So I will just say, "When possible, read together." Even though the big kids read novels on their own, they still like for me to read out loud to them. For our youngest, reading is a big part of his bedtime routine unless he is exhausted. He loves to get a book (he even chooses his own).

2. Load up the bookshelves...if your child has a certain interest, pursue it through books. Our oldest son's bookshelves is full of books about sharks, presidents, and sports. Even when he was young, he had a big interest in sharks. So we bought a bunch of books, lots of different levels, on sharks. Our daughter's shelves are full of books about pets, fairies, and some popular characters like "Judy Moody" and "Junie B. Jones". Our other daughter loves the classics right now (Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham) as well as fairy tales. And our youngest son LOVES books with real photographs and touch and feel books.

3. Model. Mark and I are both pretty big readers. Like I said, I don't get to read full books often, but I am usually found reading a newspaper or a magazine throughout the day.

4. Invest in "easy reader" books. I remember when Child 1 was in first grade. He was reading, but I worried about whether he was reading enough. He just seemed to lack the confidence he needed (trust me, that has since passed). A dear friend of mine told me to buy the "easy readers". I went to the bookstore and bought a whole basket full. Of course, four kids will benefit from that one purchase. I will advise you to look through beginner reader cannot trust their levels. You want simple but interesting sentences. You want good picture support. You want something that will interest your child.

5. Place books strategically. We have books all over the house. The kids all have bookshelves, as does the toy room. Our living room has a basket of books. And one of the best places we have found for books? The pockets of the car seats. When our youngest gets in the car, his first question is, "Book?" I usually give him a couple to look at. I have the older two clean out their "pockets" occasionally because they bring out new books but don't always take away the other the point of overflowing. I cannot tell you how many times we have gotten home and I had to tell Child 1 we were home. He was so involved in reading, he never noticed!

6. Treat books as a privilege. If one of the kids has a rough night, we actually will take away a book reading for the night. And believe it or not, it hurts them more than most consequences. We obviously don't want to do that all of the time, but we do hold it over heads in the evening...

7. Establish a quiet time. I have mentioned before that on the weekends and in the summer, we have a mandatory 2 hour "rest time". The two little ones sleep during that time. The big kids read. They don't have to sleep but they do have to be in their rooms and be quiet. (We do have some leeway for them...sometimes they hang out with Dad or color, etc.) Either way, they seem to do the most reading during this time period.

8. Seek out books. If your child is in school, he/she likely gets book orders. Book orders are a GREAT way to build up the library...good prices, wide selection. When the kids get an order, I give them a maximum I will pay then let them choose what to get. Other places to check: garage sales, consignment shops,, book sales. And of course, the public library. We have a hard time getting there for some reason but when we do, the kids think it is the coolest place to be.

9. Make books easily accessible. Child 4's books are in baskets on a shelf in his room. He can go in and grab a book at any time. For the big kids, they have book "dummies" which are rulers. That way they can "mark their spot" on their bookshelves without losing it while they read, plus it keeps their shelves fairly neat.

10. Finally, encourage. We didn't let our oldest see the movie "Marley and Me" until he had read the book. Child 2 is reading Little House on the Prairie right now. Afterwards, I hope to show her some episodes of the T.V. show. She is also asking to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder's home...that is a hope for me to do with her sometime soon.

As I said, I am not an expert...and sometimes kids just struggle with learning to read. We may encounter that yet. But for now, I hope to continue to encourage my rising readers...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm Making a List...

I have been working on a grocery list all day. I am still not done. Okay, not focused on it all day. I started it this morning and haven't finished it. That means tomorrow when I am supposed to have my Sunday nap, no nap. I get to go to the store. Just to defend myself a little bit, I am trying to get back on my routine of planning for and shopping for two weeks of meals. We do so much better about eating at home, eating healthier, and not shopping as much when I do. It is just an ordeal to get the list organized.

Anyway, we had a nice leisurely day at home. We relaxed but did a few things too (laundry, cleaning out the girls' room...that is a neverending process). The kids just played for most of the day unless we needed them for cleaning. Oh, I gave Child 3 a "computer lesson" today. She hasn't been very interested in computer or video games. She has tried the Wii a couple times and didn't care for it. And she has never really played on the computer. She will be doing that at school this year, so I gave her an intro lesson to the mouse. She is getting the hang of it. It looks like I will need to have a few more lessons with her. Usually parents are trying to get the kids OFF the computer. I am trying to get one ON the computer.

We have cable boxes now to go along with the HD. And I love all of the choices I have as far as channels go. However, in my room,with the box, the words that are spoken do NOT match the mouth on screen. It is like watching Kung Fu, except it is on shows like Property Hunters and House. Surely there is a fix for this?

I think I am falling apart. I don't think my ankle will ever be the same. It isn't as swollen MOST of the time but it still swells on occasion. But if I am still for a while and stand up, I usually stumble because it is stiff as a board. I have never been athletic so unlike my sweet but unsympathetic husband I have never really dealt with injuries, and I have definitely not as a busy mom of four. And lately I cannot sleep the right way. I have a neckache or a shoulder ache. And I have had a dull headache all week. Today I started thinking maybe I was just dying (though technically we all are). I was trying to figure out who would take care of Mark and the kids. Yes, this is how my mind works. I don't know why. Maybe tomorrow will be better. And maybe I should work harder on organizing our lives, house, and finances just in case I am a prophet.

A few things I need to remember:
Last night our firstborn was saying he wished we had kept his baby brother's birthname. I told him he was welcome to name his child that someday. He said, "What? No, my son's name is going to be Dwight. And the next one is going to be George, and the third one is Nathanial." By the way, these are all named after historical figures. We did tell him that usually a wife gets some input too.

Tonight Child 4 asked about fireworks. We only got to see a few on the beach before the 4th (and couldn't find any ON the fourth); the ones we did see were small potatoes compared to regular fireworks. But he has been asking daily about them. I guess we need to get him to a Naturals game to watch some on a Friday night. Anyway, tonight at dinner, he asked about them again. I told him that no, no fireworks tonight. All of a sudden, he starts shooting his fingers up in the air and throwing out all of these sound effects, booms and gun sounds. He did a whole fireworks show for us. He is a funny kid!

Child 2 got the Little House on the Prairie books for her birthday. She LOVES them. I had visions of reading them together, but she cannot wait. I get to read an occasional chapter, but for the most part, she is reading them on her own. She asked me the other day why they called their parents "Ma and Pa". Anyone have an answer for that?

Child 3 has shots coming up. I told her that she has to have shots to go to school. She has informed me basically that she will not be getting shots. I think she is a dropout before she even got through kindergarten! This should be a fun doctor's appointment.

I have more I wanted to say, but Mark is going to bed, and I probably should too. We are actually going to church has been a month! (Not that we are just skippers; we have been gone a lot)

More later (hopefully),

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quick Prayer Requests

I have two prayer requests this morning. Both involve young men named Jeremy. One Jeremy has been dealing with cancer for quite a while. He has had some recent setbacks and has to be in the hospital right now. Please pray for his pain to go away and that he can be at home. He and his wife have an amazing strength that awes me. I am praying for God's healing touch for him. The other Jeremy was just diagnosed with cancer. He is young, married, has young kids. I doubt that cancer was on their life it ever? Again, they both have a strength and faith that awes me. He is having surgery this morning to have a "port" put in that will make his cancer treatments easier. Please pray for them as they start this "new normal" in their life. God has shown Himself in amazing ways already as far as their doctors, timing, etc. Please pray for his complete healing and for the testimony they have throughout this experience.


Young Entrepeneurs

On the trip, Child 1's friend brought along a Nintendo DS (something I myself had thought of getting at times). The two oldest LOVED it. They would beg him all the time to play it. Suddenly their Leapsters didn't hold the same appeal. So of course, their question on the way home (not a smart thing to do when facing the costs of vacation) was "Can I have a Nintendo DS?"

In the past I have always said, "Add it to your Christmas list." (Child 1 informed me he has before and still never received it.) However, this time I said, "Well, save up for it!" They looked a bit shocked to hear such foreign advice, but they started making plans...

Monday morning, I was groggy and just trying to figure out where I was (as in home, no longer at the beach...). Child 1 was already busy making a sign to offer some products and services. He was offering to do detective work, sharpen pencils, and sell candy. Then Child 2 got involved and decided to sell seashells (which I cannot say fast for anything) too. They set a table up outside and waited for customers.

I will admit. I am going to be honest here. I cringed a little. I wondered, "What will the neighbors think?" I don't know why I was a little embarrassed...I did these things as a kid too. I guess it is because I always feel guilty when I drive by little stands in our neighborhood and don't stop. I didn't want anyone else to feel that same guilt. (I rarely have cash on me and usually if I am going, I need to be somewhere fast...) Plus, I know it doesn't sound too noble to raise money for a DS as compared to charities and such. (Both kids do have generous hearts though and have contributed in their own ways throughout their young years) is what it is.

Regardless of all my doubts, I didn't stop them, though I suggested that the candy might not last long in the sun. And it did end up in the fridge not long afterward. :) But as the morning progressed, business started to pick up. Know what the best seller was? Shells. They sold well. Oh, the shells were not from our recent trip but past trips. Anyway, a little while later, Child 1's friend came over with some lemonade, and the kids sold that too. I got tickled when his mom and I were talking via Facebook. She said that her son had just come in and said my son had given him a 25 minute lunch break. (I informed my child later that I was pretty sure law dictated a full half hour :)

In the end, the kids made $18.50. I think some of our neighbors were a bit generous in their payments. I suggested that they needed to give our neighbor some money for the lemonade, but they insisted that he insisted that wasn't necessary. Wasn't that sweet?

A bigger shocker than selling shells by the sidewalk was that they decided together to go in TOGETHER to buy a DS to share. Really? Did they really decide that together? I was shocked. I told them they would have to have a plan for sharing, and they informed me they were already thinking about that. Child 2 even told me that she got to choose the color as long as it wasn't pink (per Child 1's request). So I went from embarrassment/discomfort to a little bit of joy in knowing that my two oldest children were working together for a common goal. That is a rare thing around here!

They have a ways to go to get enough money. We are going to reinstate allowances which we have been miserable about paying in the last two years which should help. And I have informed the kids that at our upcoming garage sale, any money they make from their toy sales is theirs. Hopefully they will keep the momentum going and reach their goal together. (I did tell them I would buy them their first game once they bought one)

As for me, I am going to start keeping some change/small bills in my just never know when you are going to pass a lemonade stand...