Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

What is that saying? The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry? (Don't be too impressed. I had to google the second half of that prhase. By the way, the first part goes with a few different sayings if my ending doesn't sound like you remember it.)

I don't know why I do it. Every single "break" (which is never truly a break with kids :), I make "plans". I set goals for myself.

It was all perfect in my mind. I was going to spend the first part of spring break working hard to organize. Organization is truly my goal. I just think I would breathe better if I were more organized. I know, I know, Mom. I should have done more of this BEFORE I had kids. Of course, I didn't have nearly as much to organize then!

So, my biggest goal? To clean up and out our attic. We have a wonderful attic. It has lots of space, lots of room to store things. However, it is cluttered. We have all of these stored handmedowns but it is such a pain to go in search of the clothes boxes we need because the boxes are so topsy turvy. I really planned to empty out the attic and then organize it, getting rid of a lot of stuff (including maternity clothes) in the process. But...then my sore foot flared up. Going up the attic ladder suddenly seemed like such a bad idea.

My next goal. Our closet. It is my "storage" area for mementos, photos, etc. I really don't save everything like I could (and probably did as a child) but with four kids times a few special pages/works/etc a adds up! Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to "store" them especially since I don't have time to really scrapbook at this point in my life (scrapbook stuff is ALSO in the closet). Well, so far, I have just managed to clear out a few magazines and such from the closet. Nothing else. I really need to spend time in my closets to work on it but I have to supervise the kids alot. If I don't, there is NO telling what might happen. :)

Another goal? To do something fun with the kids each day. I thought we might go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder house in Missouri. Or hit the Tulsa zoo again. Something. Anything. Well, first it snowed like a foot. Then MY foot was an issue. Now we have hit the "rains" of March. Sigh.

That being said, I think my kids have had a good week. They have played a WHOLE lot. I love watching those imaginations at work. We have been more lenient with bedtimes and have enjoyed some family time watching t.v. (Yes, you can have family time doing that) We had smores one day just for fun. Today I took the two oldest to a movie, and tomorrow one has a friend coming over to hang out. So maybe the week hasn't been a total bust. Maybe they weren't the plans I laid out, but maybe, just maybe, they worked out anyway...


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family Missions

Have you ever had a really busy day that actually felt like two days all in one? That was my Saturday (when I started this post...I will adjust accordingly)

Saturday started off our spring break with me setting the alarm. I was invited to a "spring break mission" to help Ms. Bonnie with some much needed household activities like painting, organizing, etc.

I was happy to go, but I will admit, it wasn't all charitable. That morning when that alarm went off much earlier than I wanted to, I stated wondering, "Why am I going?" Throw in a sore foot, my own home that needs a little...a LOT...attention, feeling a bit insecure around new people (which many are/were), and giving up a family day at home...well, it was tempting to just stay at home. But a promise is a promise.

Last night when I mentioned where I was going today, child 2 started her persuasive talk, "Can you just take me, Momma?" In the end, I let her come.

Sidenote: We very much hope to do family missions at some point. Our church does have several missions opportunities. Right now though, with a two year old (and even the five year old), a mission trip would require more attention on my own kids than on who I was trying to minister to. They require constant supervision that would just not be easy to deal with in a new setting with new people...not much would happen for me meeting anyone else's needs. I did consider taking the two bigger kids on a mission trip to Mexico last summer, then that whole border crime wave started, and that was off...

Anyway, the mission project invitation has said kids were invited. So I decided to take child 2, thinking she would be able to help out with the younger kids. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the decision was later made to probably not have kids come due to weather (It was cold and by the time we left, sleeting and snowing). But I didn't know that. Oops!

So early in the morning, we threw on our jeans and t-shirts and headed down the road. Somehow we managed to arrive first which was not our goal. But the bonus was that I got to finish feeding a little baby (Baby Thomas) before he left for the day. :)

Soon after that, we ended up with a full house of people ready to work. There was a whole lot of taping, painting, cleaning, organizing, etc. going on. Even I did a little painting (which my husband quickly said, "I can't get you to paint around here...").

It was a good day of work. (It was also probably the straw that broke, or at least felt like it did, my already injured foot...) It always feels good to be able to help others and to be around others who are helping others. There was some fun, including some "oldies" playing in the background, some good food, and maybe even some calories burned in the process.

But my favorite part of the day? Being with my daughter. I didn't see her the whole time. She did several tasks, while I worked in other areas. And I am sure a few people wondered why she was there. (She is quite a talker and very persistent...not afraid at all to share what she wants to do) But I am thankful for a daughter with such a generous heart. She could have stayed at home and played away for the day. But she chose to help someone else and did it with gusto. I love that she isn't afraid to try new things, she isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and get dirty doing honest work, and she does it all with a smile on her face. I am so honored to be her momma.


Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Enjoy Your Spring Break

So, how do you enjoy the first day of your spring break?

You kick off the shoes (especially if the van door shut on one of them and shoes are much too painful to wear :)...

You throw on some shades, you know...since the white bright snow is blinding in the sunlight.

You listen to the trickle of running water (that would be the above said snow melting, leaving puddles of water everywhere).

You watch the birds merrily dance around (in the melting snow).

You see dashes of green shining through (the melting snow).

And of course, you get out to enjoy the fresh air...


PS I did go to the doctor, had a quick x-ray and am happy to report that I am bruised, not broken! That means that hiking this weekend (dependent on the weather) is likely! Woohoo!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Man Vs Steel

Okay, really it is woMAN versus minivan.

First of all, yes, you are seeing this right. Three posts within 24 hours. I am on a roll. Or bored. Or both.

Okay, back to the matter at hand. Or in my case, foot.

I think I should preface this by saying I am not an accident prone person. I do bump into things alot so I have random bruises from hitting my thigh on a desk or ramming my elbow into the door. But I really don't injure easily.

When I was in elementary school, I was playing on the trampoline once with my sister. I was doing a flip and didn't quite complete the rotation. I landed on my head. Serious pain. I bruised some ribs I think.

Then in junior high, I was spending the night with a friend. She had this house in the ground. It was like an "A" frame house. One thing she liked to do was put a mattress on it and slide down the roof. I joined in the fun. Unfortunately when I got to the bottom (a.k.a. the ground) I bounced on the mattress and flew off, landing on my leg. That was a little visit to the emergency room. I was on crutches for a few miserable days (I am not good on crutches) then I recovered nicely.

My next injury was last year when I was on my way to visit a friend. I stepped off the one and only step in our garage, landing on a little plastic bowl that one of my dear children had left at the bottom of the step. I went crashing down, twisting my ankle something fierce. (I still know I heard a "snapping" sound and still have some odd electrical pulses on that ankle at times.) It took me all summer to recover from that. The joys of getting older...

Well, I did it again. The other day I picked child 4 up from school. As I was driving there, I noticed clouds of smoke coming from his school direction. When I got there, there were two firetrucks and an ambulance in the drive by his school. That was a bit odd, but I wasn't overly worried since the building was intact. (Come to find out there was a brush fire in the field next to the was under control by the time I got there) That story really has nothing to do with my foot but I threw it in as a bonus...

So when I put child 4 in his carseat, I was somehow standing at my door (probably putting my papers and checkbook up), with one foot in it. I was leaned back toward his door, probably getting a book or something that he requested. Anyway, my car door closes easily. I guess that is to help me not leave it takes nothing for it to close. Kind of like a screen door. Maybe it was the wind that spread that brush fire or just that the car shook a tiny tiny bit, but the door closed...with my foot still in it. It hurt a little bit at the time, but thankfully the door didn't slam shut or anything.

I remember thinking, "That will leave a little mark..." But overall I was okay. I came home and still managed to exercise. When I went to bed that night, it was hurting a little bit. I finally got the courage to look at it. It had a little red mark, nothing else.

Yesterday I went to work at a friend's house (more on that later). When I slipped on my shoes, I thought, "My foot is a bit achy". But I walked through the pain. No biggie.

Then around lunchtime, after being on it all day, I started to feel some pain. Some real pain. Suddenly there was a little throbbing going on. (Ironically this is the same house I was visiting when I hurt my ankle last year) I didn't want to be dramatic, so I just gritted my teeth and kept on working. When we finally left, around 4:30, I could not deny there was some pain.

As soon as I got home, I took my shoe off to elevate the foot. I also noticed the bump on top of my foot. However, feet are odd looking to me so I still cannot tell if it is anything out of the ordinary, though it seems a little enlarged to me. (It was much more obvious with the ankle)

We had a party to go to, so I downed some Tylenol and headed out the door with the family. I decided to forego skating, instead socializing, sitting when possible. By the time I got home, I was really hurting. As soon as I had eaten, I had my shoe off and ice on. I tried elevating it too.

Then I made a critical mistake. I decided a hot bath would be good for the body after a hard day's work. (At this point, it was snowing very hard, the weather was obviously cold, and my whole body ached.)

So I drew up a hot, hot favorite kind. And I grabbed a magazine to browse. And I hopped in (carefully) for a good soak.

Unfortunately, due to my lack of injuries in my life, I didn't realize what would happen putting an injury IN hot water. And it took just a few minutes for some of the most intense pain I have experienced (I put it right there with childbirth). The worse thing was that I couldn't figure out how to make the pain stop. If I put it in the water, I felt like my foot was on fire. Out of the water, all I could feel was intense pain. When I was ready to leave the warmth of the water (because if you are going to be in pain, you might as well be in really warm water), I crawled into bed. After a little bit, I was near tears which takes a lot for me in regard to pain. I called Mark who brought me some towels and some ice (elevation and cold). After a little bit, the pain was bearable.

I woke up this morning and checked the weather. Then I couldn't go back to sleep because it (meaning the pain) started again. Now I have it elevated. Just had ice on it and it is back to throbbing.

I am trying to decide what to do. Do I just ride the pain out? Will it heal on its own? My husband says that there isn't anything that can be done even if it is broken. Part of me doesn't want to hear the doctor say "Stay off of it" since I have big plans for my spring break week (which hopefully involves hiking next weekend).

Meanwhile, anyone have a Tylenol?

On the Second Day of Spring...

(The second verse to yesterday's first verse...)

The weather forecast brought to me...

Several inches of snow, and it is still coming down. (You have to stretch out that last phrase to get it to fit to the tune :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On the First Day of Spring...

the weather forecast brought to us...

a few inches of sleet and snow.

Happy spring to us!

If you look in that second picture, notice the white splotches on the black pavement. Those are snowflakes. Except they looked more like snowballs falling from the sky. They were the biggest "flakes" (a BUNCH of flakes all falling together I guess) that I have ever seen. It really looked like cotton or feathers falling from the sky. Crazy weather since yesterday was a beautiful day, in the 60's I believe...

Nothing like the first day of spring in Arkansas!

PS More to come was a very busy and long day!


One of the many things I have learned through motherhood is how very helpless I feel much of the time.

When a toddler is throwing a fit in a restaurant, and I am slinking out the door with him/her for the sake of the other diners, I feel helpless.

When one of my children loudly asks why some people (with only one person standing nearby) wear dirty shoes "all of the time", I feel helpless.

When one of my children is sleeping in my lap, burning up with fever, I feel helpless.

When one of my children comes home disappointed that her team lost the basketball championship, I feel helpless.

When there are signs all over facebook (messages, photos) that social events are taking place that my children were not invited to, I feel helpless.

When a child fights back tears after not being chosen to participate in an after school club, I feel helpless.

When I have had to talk to teachers about children's misbehavior, work habits, or study skills (all things we truly do emphasize at home), I feel helpless.

When someone makes fun of my children for not having a t.v. in their room or not being able to watch R rated movies (all choices that WE have made for our children), I feel helpless.

When I watch the nurse take my child away for surgery and I can't go with him, I feel helpless.

When I overhear someone critiquing my daughter's gymnastics skills (comparing them to their own child's), I feel helpless.

When I know that a heartache is inevitable, that life will not work out the way we want it to, I feel helpless.

When I find that our pet fish has floated off to the great big bowl in the sky (not recently) and my children are sobbing with grief, I feel helpless.

When it is obvious how much the robbery has affected my daughter's heart and her security, I feel helpless.

When I feel like my children are being judged based upon the color of their skin rather than who they are as people, I feel helpless.

When someone attacks the character of my child based on one event (that nobody really knows the details of), I feel helpless.

When I pull up to my child's school to find numerous fire trucks and an ambulance (later to find out it was for a brush fire next door), I feel helpless.

When I find out some kids are calling my child an ugly word for no reason, I feel helpless.

And the truth is, I am. I am helpless. Sometimes there is nothing I can say or do to fix things. Sometimes I just have to trust that there really is a Good Shepherd in this world who loves me, who loves my children, and who will be the help, the guide, the support that we need.

Help me, Lord. Help me to be the mom you desire me to be. Help me to rely on you to help us through the hard parts. And help me to know when and where I should try to help and when you should do it on your own.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Going VIral

Just a quick update. Mark took our youngest into the doctor. Of course, as usual, the child seemed to feel just fine before the appointment. Why do kids do that to us? Anyway, the appointment was at nine. Mark was in my classroom at 9:20 to bring me a much needed Mtn. Dew (for lunch, I won't drink one that early in the morning).


Yep, we paid a 25 dollar co-pay to hear that.

Okay, we really paid that co-pay for Mom's peace of mind. I don't like coming to a weekend with a sick child then having nowhere to go if needed. I don't like my mind running wild with "What if's?" as I run through lists of possible illnesses.

On a positive note, we learned that our dear son is now 28 pounds. Yippee!

When I asked him about his appointment, he let it be known that the doctor looked in his ears. He didn't care for that part apparently.

So, though we thought he seemed fine, our little patient spent the rest of the day with my mom just to be on the safe side. I figured it would give him a chance to get good rest and recovery from the virus (which I am thankful is not the flu which has resurfaced in our area).

Now, why is it that I have been feeling a bit under the weather?

The cycle continues.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One Stinkin' Pound...

That is what separates my team from the winning team in Biggest Loser. One stinking pound. Percentage wise, it was .4% difference! I keep thinking, "What if I had gotten a haircut? What if I had started counting points earlier? What if I had shaved my legs this morning? :)" So many what ifs. But regardless, we came in second. Not first. Not third. Second. And all I am left with is no winning pot and a big sigh.

Or am I?

Maybe, just maybe, I have learned to eat a little better? I have really started eating salads, fruits, and veggies consciously. It has to be consciously because those habits don't come naturally. I am not a big "produce" person. I never have been, even as a little girl. Green beans still (just like then) make me gag at just the smell of them. I have just started eating corn in salsas/dips. I still cannot eat it off the cob or creamed. I try. I really do. They just don't appeal to me. I will eat raw veggies like carrots, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower...IF I can have a little Ranch to dip them in. Even fruits have never been a strong point of mine. They are okay but I would much rather eat sugar, candy, etc. However, I have a new found love for pineapple and applesauce. I do enjoy apples with apple dip (which is not an ideal food but as a meal isn't so bad). I like strawberries and grapes on occasion. So I am getting there.

I am also really thinking about what is going into my mouth. I never considered myself a big snacker until about two weeks ago when I started writing down what I ate during the day. Suddenly I thought long and hard about the food about to go into my mouth and whether it was worth walking over to the kitchen to record it. I realized that it was easy to grab a snack here and there just because I had the munchies. And sweets are not typically my downfall. It is salty. Salty chips and cheese. Popcorn. Nuts. I love salty. (With a sweet milkshake is even better. :)

I haven't given up all of my "loves". You know, I have that love of Mountain Dew. I count that in my "food count" each day. But I usually go for the can which is only 8 ounces. I still have my Ghiradelli dark chocolate with caramel square. I eat one a day...dark chocolate is supposed to be good for the heart. I want to be heart healthy. :) But I count that in my food count which means I may need to give up a piece of bread at dinner. I have my daily pistachios but I measure them out rather than eating out of the bag where I don't keep track of how many I have eaten. I still eat what I want but I have to choose wisely throughout the day, sometimes making choices or eating smaller portions. My measuring spoons and cups are getting a workout.

Speaking of workout, for the first time ever in my life, I am exercising. I typically exercise 5-6 times a week. I do a mixture of exercises. I am still doing the Wii Active (though I occasionally cut out some of the lunges/squats that I know hurt my knees). I have some new Sweatin' to the Oldies, and I use my elliptical. As the weather warms up, I will have more opportunities to walk, both around the neighborhood and on family hikes. I know I am far from being in shape. But you know what? I can feel a difference. Unfortunately my clothes do not show a big difference yet; they don't fit any differently. But sometimes my hand will brush my leg or I will cross my arms, and I realize that I actually have some muscles with some definition. Maybe the workouts are making more of a difference than I first thought.

So maybe, just maybe, I am not the Biggest Loser loser. Maybe I am a winner after all! (Oh, I have lost six pounds, which isn't great but it is better than not losing at all or even gaining! Congrats to my weigh in partner who lost 11!)

Sorry I didn't post last night. It was just a really hectic night and about midnight, I had to go to bed. I was falling asleep at the board. The keyboard that is. (Oh, just for my sake, pretend like you noticed I didn't post :)

Thank you for the tips on organizing. I had never thought about scanning. That would be perfect for recipes. And I do have plenty of notebooks; I need to just make a list of what I want to check out later via the Internet. I want to get back on top of this paperwork before it takes over my closet!

I don't think I mentioned that our youngest is sick again. :( He got sick at school a couple of times today. Now he is afraid he is going to throw up at any moment and he panics. I don't think he was running a fever today but he was very lethargic and still which is HIGHLY unusual. However, he would perk up for a few minutes before stretching out on the floor to tell me how tired he was. We have an appointment for him in the morning, so hopefully we will find out something and more importantly how to fix it!

Well, I must tackle some magazines, so I better go for now. I hope you are having a great week, whoever and wherever you are!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wipe Out...

That is how I feel. Wiped Out. Of course, I am not sleeping. It isn't really my mind that is tired but rather my body. Today when we got home from school, I had plans to get some things done. Monday is a BIG school paperwork day (for my own kids) so that was in the works, along with a Wii workout, cleaning up, etc. Instead, I suddenly had all of these children around me begging to go on a walk. I have to admit, at this point, it was pretty nice outside. So walk we did. We went all around the neighborhood. If you don't know our neighborhood, it is a bit hilly. Not quite San Francisco style but it feels pretty darn close sometimes. The walking down is nice, it is the climbing back up that is a challenge. And I am feeling every bit of that in my legs! (I still did my Wii workout...later! I am feeling every bit of that too) I always wonder if there comes a point that your body is so fit, things like that don't challenge you. I have yet to find that to be true, but will keep testing the theory.

We were all back at school/work today. Child 4 was ready to go. When I picked him up, he was quite happy. I asked him how his day had been, and he said, "I didn't hit anyone." I guess that makes for a good day. :) He did just fine until bedtime, then he crashed (as in had a little meltdown). BIG nosedive. That is highly unusual for him. He was just worn out. Ironically, another child of mine who typically melts down nightly before bed did NOT do that today...

Our day started off cloudy...again. It was like that all weekend, just a miserable mess. (Cool and damp) However, this afternoon the sun pushed the clouds away, and suddenly the day felt much warmer, brighter. I am just praying that it will do that next week when i am actually on spring break! (We don't have big plans like we did last year, just a little hiking around the Buffalo.)

I still do not have a new microwave. I feel like I am really roughing it right now, rearranging what we will eat and how I will make it without a microwave to help out.

The other night I was watching the show Hoarders on TLC. It is one of those shows you watch with amazement, kind of like a train wreck you can't take your eyes off even though you want to. I felt so bad for many of those people. And I so want to never be like that. Then I walk into one of our hotspot areas of our house and I feel my heart race. I can easily see how stuff, just ordinary stuff, can take over your lives. Of course, one big difference for me is the "want to". I don't have any problem letting go of "stuff". I just need the time to do it. If I had just one week without my children (or work), I cannot fathom how clean and organized this house would be! And maybe one day they will all be old enough to go spend a little time with Mark's parents so that will happen. Until then, I suppose I will just chip away a little each night and hope for the best. (My biggest struggle is paperwork, such as receipts, bills, recipes I have clipped and magazines that often have one or two things I want to pursue checking out a website or copying a recipe. I welcome any suggestions in those areas!)

Tomorrow is the last official Weigh In for our Biggest Loser contest. I have no grand dreams that I will be the winner. However, I am continuing to exercise regularly and I am keeping track of what I eat. So maybe I am a winner after all. :)

More later,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Springing Forward...

I apologize if anyone is reading looking for deep and insightful. When I lose an hour of sleep because I am springing forward (like it or not), I am not deep or insightful. I am in survival mode. :)

Here are some Random Reba Ramblings. Don't say it. I know some of you are thinking, "Um, Reba, isn't that what we usually get from you?"
  • Today we went to a restaurant near our church for lunch. You see, it is really hard to warm up your leftovers when you have no working microwave (story to come). So out to lunch it was. When we got out of the van, our oldest pointed to some nearby buildings and asked what they were. I responded that they were either apartments or condos. Child 2 immediately asked, "How can there be condos if we aren't by the ocean?" Yes, my little vacation child thinks condos are only near the ocean. :)
  • The microwave. Well, Friday afternoon, the girls' chore was to clean the toy room so I could let my new best friend Roomba (story to come) loose in there. Child 2 sweetly came and asked if she could set the timer to race against the clock while she cleaned. I naively said, "Sure." I guess I thought if someone was asking to use the timer, they knew HOW to use it. Apparently not. A couple minutes later, I was in the living room exercising. Our oldest was in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher. And suddenly we all heard a sizzling noise. I ran into the kitchen to find the microwave blinking wildly and sizzling. Apparently instead of setting the timer, our dear daughter had turned the power (as in cooking power) on for five minutes. After two minutes of nothing to absorb the heat, the microwave parts basically burned up somewhere. All I know is that there was a minimal amount of smoke and that any attempts to use it since have resulted in the same sizzling and flashing of lights. So, it looks like we will be getting a new microwave very soon. You never know how much you use the microwave until you don't have it anymore! (Oh, and said dear daughter will not have access to it for some time!)
  • The Roomba. Thursday (I apologize if I already mentioned this), I was surprised with a gift Roomba. If you have read any blog entries in the last two years, this item has been high on my wish list. So getting it was a true treat! In case you have never heard of it, it is basically a robot that vacuums the floor...on its own. Kind of like having a dog but it doesn't bark or shed. The first night we had it, we just let it go anywhere it wanted. I had so much fun watching it move around the kitchen (a true need for it), through the living room, even under our bed. I don't know if we have ever had a vacuum under that. Then Friday it cleaned up the toy room floor for me. Today, it was the dining room. Does it clean perfectly? No. But it does get a bulk of the crumbs and other messy items off the floor. My favorite part is that when it is done, it parks itself back on its base. I really wish my children's other possessions would do that!
  • Thank you to my friend Libby for the name of the book about the "lasts" (Let Me Hold You Longer). I think I may treat myself to that.
  • It was a dreary weekend. It was cool and wet most of the time. No hiking for us. Boo hoo.
  • Our little patient seems just fine. He only had fever that one night. Since then, he has been raring to go. Sometimes a bit too much. He has been a little tired though. Maybe he is growing?
  • I love that child 2 loved her basketball season. That being said, I love not having practices at night and games early Saturday morning. I will completely support her if she should choose to play again in the fall. But for now, I am enjoying the break!
  • We enjoyed our night last night with a couple of friends and their sweet daughter. I won't list all of the food but I had a full stomach last night! Not sure the last weigh in is going to go my way...
  • Today our sermon was about Leviticus 18. You may not know what it is off the top of your head but some time when you have a minute, just glance through it. Because of the sensitivity of the topic of conversation, the children did not come to the worship service today but rather stayed in their Sunday School class. It felt very odd (and a bit freeing) that it was just the two of us. I didn't have to tell one person to be still or be quiet. I think I could get used to this...
  • Mark's mom is doing well. She is at home, recovering. Mark talked to her on the phone tonight and thought she sounded good. What a praise!
  • No, it is not our spring break yet. One more week to go. I know, I know, it seems like everyone else in the world is having theirs this week. Not us. :)
  • On Thursday, when I picked up our youngest after finding out about his fever, I asked him if he had had his picture taken. I had signed him up for it at his school. He looked so handsome. (Ironically it was picture day for all of us at my school too) Even burning up with fever, he looked at me with a smile, shook his head no, and told me no, he did not get his picture taken because he not want to. (his words) I told him I really wanted him to. He again informed me that he did NOT have his picture taken, he not want to. Sigh. I will never have professional pictures of that child!
  • I know that a lot of people consider things like Facebook a waste of time. And if I am not careful, I can waste hours on there. But I do think it has a little bit of a sense of purpose. As a busy woman, I can "socialize" at any point with a lot of different friends no matter where they live. Also, in the last week, I have reconnected with two different students from my very early years here in Springdale, two people from elementary school, and a friend of mine from high school. Most of those people are people I never expected to "see" again in my lifetime. For that, I am grateful to have it!
  • I don't remember if I mentioned that I actually lost weight this week in the "Biggest Loser" weigh in at school. I have been counting calories/fat/fiber. Oddly, I considered myself a fairly healthy eater before. Now that I am keeping up with what I eat, I realize how easy it was before to munch and brunch on food throughout the day, taking in many more calories than I am burning. So as fun as it is NOT, I will continue to write down what I have eaten and how much.

I know, very light and uninspiring tonight. For now, I must go to bed to make up for this hour of sleep lost. Night night!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Saving the Best for Last...

Yes, two posts in one day. (Note, when I started this post, it was technically last night, and the date stamp probably shows that. However, it is now the next morning and I am just now finishing it. Story of my life...)

You would think since I was at home all day with a child who recovered fairly quickly and didn't seem as sick as he did yesterday (I know he wasn't faking because 1) he is only 2 1/2 and 2) I know he had fever even going to bed last night), I would have accomplished something. Anything. Alas, I did not. I have been more tired than usual and today was no exception. I just chilled with our sick little guy and took a nap. I didn't get back into action until everyone was home and I needed to monitor chores, supervise homework, make dinner, etc.

As usual, I digress...let me re-focus. :)

I have been thinking a lot about "lasts". You know, we tend to record the firsts of our children, like first tooth, first steps, first words. And those are all noteworthy things to record. But what I am often struck with is the "lasts". I have heard there is a book about this on the shelves, though I cannot remember the name of it. I need to read it. We don't typically record the "lasts" because we don't realize more often than not that they are THE last.

Things like the last bottle I had to wash. We were moving our youngest away from bottles anyway. In fact, after his first birthday, we had him down to just one bottle before bed. Our goal was to eventually drop it. But before we could, there was one night I got the bottle as usual and he told me in his own way that he didn't want it. And he never had one again. :( While I knew it was time for it to happen, it still made me sad. I loved that time of feeding him before he drifted off to sleep, singing little lullabies, rocking in that glider. In a blink, that time was gone.

Or there is the last picture book I read with the two older kids. I wish I knew what they were. It wasn't an all of a sudden thing, it just kind of evolved. And at the time I didn't realize when we had reached the end. I have always tried to read to them before bedtime. And I have read many a story (still do to the younger ones). But as the two older kids became better readers, they started wanting to read on their own. I was so excited when child 2 got the Little House on the Prairie book set. I envisioned us reading it together and talking about that pioneer life and the role of women. Instead, she devoured the whole collection that summer...I don't think I got to read a word of it.

Even little things make me stop and ponder. All of our kids except for the youngest one have said "nilk" rather than "milk". I don't know why. Mark and I both speak fairly clearly and without much of an accent. We would try to correct them and just get the same response, "Nilk..." (Joshua has always said it the right way) Except all three one day didn't say "nilk" but rather "milk". I don't know when it happened. I probably didn't notice right away. But it did happen, and I wonder, "How? Where did that time go?"

Other lasts...

  • The last time three of the four used a pacifier (the fourth uses fingers which by the way are not as easy to take away). Okay, I had more control over this "last". But even then, I am not sure I knew it would be THE last time. I just remember thinking, "We will try it tonight and see how it goes..." Then for whatever reason, at some point, it went fine, and there was no looking back. I still have one stuck in the back of a kitchen drawer. I cannot part with it.
  • The last time we used a stroller. We still do with the youngest a little but the day is coming. That "last" is coming, all too soon. (Which I kind of hate since the stroller is so fast as opposed to my hip)
  • The last bath. Even child 4 has decided that showers are the way to go. He asks for one almost nightly. No baths. And I wonder, "When did that stop?"
  • The last baby food jar. I recently threw out a couple of jars of babyfood that had expired. I don't know when or why we stopped. At one point, I thought our youngest would eat it forever. But things change. And this did.
  • The last nose I wiped. Of course, I am still wiping noses for our little guy, but when did I cease to do that for the other kids? Isn't it strange how one day you look back and think, "Wow, I never wipe noses any more?"
  • The last time I buckled them in their carseats. Again, I still do this for child 4. But I know in another year or two, I won't be buckling anyone but myself into the seat belt anymore. Just one day they can do it, and that chore of your life is over.
  • The last diaper changed. Again, we still do that with child 4. And I am just fine with that. He is our baby and unless God sends a sign in flashing neon, he is the last of our clan. I have been in no hurry to have him grow up. I am not purposely keeping him a baby. In fact, I already marvel at how much he IS growing up. I am just not rushing it. He isn't quite ready to be out of diapers (physically), though I know he is getting close. I just know with the others, especially one of the girls, it happened in an instant. She just told me that she was done wearing diapers, and she was. She never looked back. And suddenly, again, that task of life was over.
  • The last time you brush their teeth. Okay, we still do that on occasion with one of ours. But I cannot think of the last time I did it for the older kids.
  • The last time we cut up food. Honestly we still do that a lot but not as much as we used to. Suddenly, getting dinner ready means simply putting food on the plate and letting the child eat from it.
  • The last time we carry a diaper bag. Though one is still in diapers for the time being, we very rarely carry a bag into restaurants for him. We still grab a bib and a Table Topper but that is it. I still feel a little like...well, like something is missing. Yet it is freeing. When we are out and decide to grab some food, we don't have to worry about having snacks available, we don't have to have the sippy cup anymore, and even if we don't have a bib, more often than not, we are okay.

Obviously I could go on and on, because just as there are many firsts in life, there are so many lasts. And though we don't "note" the lasts like we do the firsts, I have just found myself recently pondering these "last moments" with a little sadness, a little wonder. I remember when the kiddos were younger, people would stop me in stores and say, "Enjoy these moments, they pass much too quickly." And while I was in the middle of listening to another temper tantrum, I would find myself just saying, "Bah Humbug, enjoy these, my foot!" As usual, it has taken time, the gift of sweet precious passing time, to show me the wisdom in those words of advice. They do pass quickly. And one day, you look at your pre-teen or even your toddler who is almost a preschooler and you wonder, "When did it happen?"



Lifting up Praises

We started the adoption process with child 4 about three years ago in May. Shortly afterward a hogar (orphanage in Guatemala) sent out a plea asking for families to consider adopting some of their children before the adoption shut down. Two families from our church answered that call.

One family that answered that call involves a guy I knew in my younger days (as in college). We didn't attend college together, but we met during our college years when my parents were living in the small town he was from for a few years. I went to his wedding and have since watched his family expand greatly through children. They are a neat family with a heart for missions. The other family also has a large family. They have two biological children then adopted three more children domestically (a sibling group). In fact, we hold them partially responsible for our own adoptions since one of their new daughters (at the time) made some comments that spurred our heart to want to adopt child 3. :)

So a month or so after we started our process, these families started theirs. I remember Mark and I joking that they would probably finish before us. Unfortunately, their processes became lengthy when Guatemala did put a halt on adoptions in order to reform the system. Technically these families were "grandfathered in" but their paperwork was bogged down in the system. In the end, one adoption went the "old route", the other went the "new route".

Since then, both families have visited numerous times. We have seen a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. The boys the families are adopting are older boys which is a challenge in itself (adopting older children that is). But both families have remained faithful in praying and pursuing the adoption of their new sons.

About a week and a half ago, my college friend called me. I knew something was up. We speak at church and occasionally on Facebook but we rarely talk on the phone. I was overjoyed to hear the news...they had just found out they were out of PGN. What a praise! They hope to bring their new son home in the next few weeks (we are praying it is before their new baby via pregnancy comes).

The other family found out tonight. They went through the new more PGN. Instead, they were in a court like setting. And tonight they found out that they were approved. It looks like their son will be home in the next month if all goes well.

It doesn't matter if it is your adoption or someone else's. Your heart leaps when you find out that another child is coming home to his/her "forever family". It never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. (Doesn't have to be just Guatemala either...I have an Internet friend heading to Ethiopia tomorrow to bring home her baby daughter...I am beside myself with excitement!) And inside, I am lifting up praises. Those two and a half years were long. Nobody is denying that. And yes, I do find myself wondering, "Why did it have to take that long???" But in the end, God's timing is perfect. And His will is good. And soon, very soon, two boys will be coming home for the first time.

Praising Him!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Temperature's Rising...

Well, I admit it. I was getting all comfortable, all content that the winter illnesses seemed to have passed us by with little effect. And just about the time I was feeling that comfort, wiping my forehead saying, "Whew...that was close...", I had a knock on my classroom door. "Mrs. Cloud, you have a phone call. They need to talk to you right now." Oddly, I knew. I didn't panic which I would have done most other times. Our school office is being remodeled right now, so I found my phone call in the hallway. "Mrs. Cloud, your child has a fever." And like that, the dream was over.

Thankfully I only had thirty minutes of the school day left. So I ran down the road to pick him up. Oh, bless his heart. Anytime he has a fever, his breathing is a bit labored (I fully anticipate an asthma diagnosis in the next few years). As I drove back to pick up the other kids, my little guy started saying in a very pitiful voice, "I want Mommy hold you." Which really means he wanted his Mommy to hold him. So once we got home, I did.

With Motrin, he is good. He perks up, will play, and acts more like himself. But once the Motrin has run its course, the fever starts back up. Tonight he begged to go to bed.

So...I get to stay at home tomorrow (after I run up to the school for one little activity before Mark heads out to work).

In other news, Mark's mom was released from the hospital today! Yippee! I imagine she is ready to sleep at her own house (I would be!). Please continue to pray for her healing.

Did I mention anything about McTeacher Night? Our school partnered with a local McDonalds to do a little fundraiser. It was called McTeacher Night. The teachers volunteered to work one hour shifts, and part of the proceeds from the night come back to the schools. Of course, we encouraged our students to come see us "at work". Last time we had one of these, we were in the midst of basketball and swim team, so I wasn't able to participate. This time around, I volunteered for the last hour. I was a bit nervous. I managed to never work fast food (or really any kind of food) in my younger days. I honestly am not sure I can handle it. I forget half the time what my kids tell me they want to drink or eat from the table to the kitchen. Thankfully I was given an "easy" job passing out tickets for free ice cream. However, none of this is the point of the story. In fact, it is just useless information. :)

Partway through my shift, one of my co-workers called out, "Hey, Cloud, this girl had you for a teacher in kindergarten." I have to say that students typically change a lot appearance wise once they leave kindergarten and enter the teen years. So I had to get a closer her nametag. As soon as I saw her nametag, I knew who she was. I really do remember most of my students and little facts about them. It was so neat to see her (she even had her kindergarten picture WITH her!). I am proud of the lady she has become; she was helpful, friendly, and hard-working. I have said it before, but as much as I might want to take credit for these things, I cannot. I really believe that most students would succeed without me. However, I am truly grateful that for now, I get to be part of their lives, watching those "lightbulbs" go off as the learning comes together for them.

I got a fun little surprise last night! We were given a Roomba. If you read my blog at all, you know I have had this on the wishlist for a couple of years now. If you could see my floor, especially after meals, you would understand. Anyway, I got it out last night, charged it for a bit, and let it go to work. It sure did. It was a busy little fella, moving all over the place including under my bed. Don't know when it was last cleaned under there! I think Roomba and I will get along just fine.

Okay, I keep falling asleep. I better go for now. More to come!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Moved to Tears

I have written posts in my head all weekend. I have several going at once. Unfortunately, I am not living in my head but in reality. And in reality, I am barely hanging on with very little sleep. So the posts will have to wait.

We did fine this morning. Ironically, we typically get to school sooner than usual when we take child 4 to his school. I guess I build more time into the schedule, so we end up running ahead of schedule. Now saying that, I could oversleep tomorrow. You never know. (I am thankful that he did NOT cry when I left him. He was just chilled...)

We (Me and the three) always pray on the way to school. Usually it is me praying (yes, I do leave my eyes open since I am driving), asking for blessings upon the kids' days and their work. This morning I asked my oldest to pray for MeMe. And then I cried all the way through the prayer.

I have been concerned (obviously) about my mother-in-law and the severity of the surgery. But I hadn't really let myself stop and think about it. It reminds me of the day I was sliding down a mountain sideways (on ice) in my car as a teenager. I remained calm during the process. Then we stopped at the bottom of the hill. It was only when we stopped that I realized the graveness of the situation. And I dissolved into a puddle of tears.

Same thing this morning. I was fine. I was praying and asked others to pray. But it wasn't until I got Mark's text that the surgery was over (very quickly) that the tears really fell. I finally went down to my oldest's classroom to let him know. I called him out into the hallway then burst into tears. Thankfully he knows me well enough to know what that means.

So, just to warn you. If you see me out in public and I tear up, it isn't you. It is me. Just plain ole tired me.


MeMe (Mark's mom) came through surgery much quicker than expected. The tumor was removed, and initial tests do not indicate malignancy though I think they automatically test more extensively which will require time. The surgery wasn't quite as involved as the doctors had thought it would be, which hopefully means MeMe will recover a little quicker. Mark has already seen her and talked to her. She was feeling a bit sick and groggy but overall was very alert. If all goes well, Mark should be heading back tomorrow.

Thanks for praying!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Accentuate the Positive

So my main man is out of town. And I am glad he is. No, that doesn't sound right. I am not glad he is gone. I am glad he wants to spend some time with his mom before the surgery. I have always felt like how a man treats his mom is directly related to how a man treats his wife. At the same time, I miss him when he isn't here. For one thing, my interaction with adults is greatly reduced. Plus, I don't have my "Go 2 Guy" to pass the baton to for both parenthood and household duties. So in that regard, I could bellyache about the fact that he isn't here. But instead I am going to accentuate the positive.

Here are a few reasons I can live with my main man being gone...

  • I can let the sink overflow as much as I want. Mark is a bit of a fanatic about our sink. He wants it empty and clean all of the time. Unfortunately for him, he has had to let go of that a little bit because when we eat at home, we fill up the dishwasher very quickly. And if we entertain or cook for anyone else, we may get three loads easily in a day's time. So sometimes the sink has to be overflowing while another load is washing. Okay, so it kind of bothers me too, so I will not likely let it overflow, but I could if I wanted to...
  • I can listen to my i-Touch all around the house. Typically on the weekends, the boys (that would be Mark and Hunter) like to channel surf, especially in search of sports. So if I am working in the kitchen (which I was today), I can't really listen to my i-Touch because it gets drowned out by sports announcers and cheers/boos. Today I just turned on the "shuffle" and listened away.
  • Easier to keep up with kids' consequences. Mark and I agree on how we handle the kids and misbehavior. But lots of times, only one of us is present when a consequence is doled out to the offender. And we may forget to mention to the other one, "Oh, by the way, this child is not allowed to play in the toy room for three days." Thankfully, most of the times, the loving siblings are very happy to remind me. But with only one parent here to dole out the consequences, it is MUCH easier to keep up with them. Provided I remember them. :)
  • The pressure is off with meals. Okay, my husband never makes a big deal about meals. If I say, "Let's go out," more often than not, we do. If I say, "It is on your own night", then we just eat whatever we have. But I do try to cook more often than not (depends on the week), and sometimes that man can be challenging. I will think we will have chicken for dinner only to find out he had it for lunch. So no pressure. The kids will eat most of what I make. Tonight, we had pancakes and bacon. Tomorrow...who knows. I will decide then. :)
  • I have control of the t.v. I could go on and on about that but let's be honest. It speaks for itself.
  • The two big kids are better helpers when Dad is gone. He always gives them a "pep talk" reminding them to step up to the plate to help me out. Today they did just that. Lauren helped me make pancakes. Hunter read a book to Joshua. Now, we will see if it lasts beyond tomorrow.
  • It is a GREAT excuse if I don't want to do something. I have not really used it this weekend, but just in case someone asked me to do something I really didn't want to do, I can always say, "Um, I am so sorry...I am on my own with the kids right now..."
  • I tend to be a bit more productive when my man is gone. I know, it is pathetic. I don't sleep as well when he is gone, so I am more likely to be up. And if I am up/awake, then I might as well do something like inventory the kitchen. (Partway done already :)
  • I may actually talk to Mark (at least without interruption) when he is out of town more than when he is home. Okay, probably not, but it feels like it. We have texted a few dozen times today (or a dozen anyway), and then he called once the kids were in bed. We weren't distracted by the busyness of life. We just took time to share about our day. Maybe he should go away more often. Maybe not.
  • I don't have to shave my legs. He doesn't complain, but since I think nothing of propping my legs on him when I am lounging, I do it out of consideration. I don't have to for a few days. Of course, I will anyway, because I don't like the feeling of not shaving.
  • I have more to blog about. :)

Well, as usual, I am staying up later than I should. So I better conclude this list. Hopefully, I accomplished my goal...accentuating the positive. (Love ya, dear!)


Friday, March 5, 2010

Prayer Please

Tomorrow, early in the morning, Mark is heading to Mississippi to visit his mom. Her surgery to remove the tumor from her pituitary gland will be Monday morning. Mark will come back Tuesday evening.

Please pray for Mark's mom. She has been waiting for over a month for this surgery. That gives anyone enough time to worry and fret about what is to come, no matter how strong the faith.

Please pray for the doctors to have wisdom and a steady hand.

Please pray for Mark as he travels. I always worry about him staying awake which is pretty crucial on the road. I am sure he will be hitting the Red Bull to help out. Ick!

Please pray for the kids. The younger ones especially will not understand why Daddy is not here. It also changes our routines since we are responsible for taking the youngest to school for a few days.

And lastly, please pray for me. I know if God called me to do this on my own, I could do it (with His help). But at this time (with both of us alive and kicking), we are very much a team. And when one member is gone...well, it is hard to be a team. I already miss him and he hasn't even left yet...


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Weighing In...

If you have read on here at all, you know that Wednesdays are "weigh in" days for our "biggest loser" contest at school. I am really careful about what I eat on Tuesday nights (I learned early on that eating ham which contains LOTS of sodium will NOT help you have a good weigh in) so I can weigh in well on Wednesdays. I also eat a light breakfast that day. As soon as I got to school, my weigh in partner popped her head into my room excited. She was four pounds lighter. Great for her, bad for me because now the pressure was on! I ended up being a half pound heavier this week. However, I didn't totally let my partner down. We ended up (thanks to her) being in first place this week. Woohoo!

The other thing about Wednesdays is that it is my "indulge" day. After weighing in, I am ready to eat and eat well. So I sent an e-mail to my dear hubby and told him to choose something (and to choose wisely). After much consideration on his part, we decided to go with Shoguns (which is a Japanese hibachi type grill). We had a gift certificate there which helped a lot. (We are trying to crack down on our budget/spending)

After school, I ran to pick up the youngest. Oh, by the way, he woke up fever free this morning and raring to go. So off to school he went. Anyway, I had a meeting after school but it was with my K team. So I just ran down the road to pick him up and bring him back to the school. He LOVES coming to Mommy's school. Loves it. Today, he had a brand new teacher today. She told me how sweet he had been and that he had been asking for me all afternoon. (I am thinking, "New teacher, he is totally playing her :) She also mentioned that he had had NO nap. She said he just didn't want to sleep. Of course, he has no choice at home. He doesn't have to sleep but he has to rest. Apparently he didn't. Suddenly these little red flags started going off all over my head in regards to dinner.

We stopped in at my school. At first, child 4 was very clingy. Thankfully it was a very informal meeting. He didn't want to venture more than a few steps away from me. However, as he became more comfortable, he started venturing further, going back to my room (right next door) and in the end going to a room across the hall with his sister. What I really loved is that personality that I was talking about yesterday really started to show. Lots of times, in front of others, he shuts down. Today he really warmed up. He would come in and tell me funny stories, with voice inflection and character voices. I am glad the others got to see that side of him.

We came home, and I immediately sent the kids outside. I think it was only in the 40's but the sun had been shining all day long. So it was pretty pleasant. At least if you are a kid. I am too cold natured, so I watched from inside. They had a good time out there. Okay, besides some quarrelling (mostly among the two youngest children). I loved watching them play in the sunlight. Gives me hope that spring is really on its way!

As soon as Mark got home, we headed out the door. Child 4 was SO excited. I had told him that there would be fire there, so he kept asking to go to the "fire". Thankfully the restaurant wasn't overly busy so we were seated quickly. Right after we were seated, one of the "big fires" happened at a grill near us. And that child about climbed the walls. He decided he did NOT want to be there and was ready to go home. I told him he could sit in the car. He agreed. As we started to walk out, I told him I was hungry. He said he was hungry too. So we headed back inside. Right after he was seated, another grill "fire" flared up (all for entertainment purposes), and we went through the whole scenario again. Sigh. I looked at Mark and said, "This was a bad idea..." The third time it happened, Child 4 tried to convince me to leave but our salad had arrived. So I told him I was staying put for the time being. He just whined for a bit. Then it was over. By the time our chef arrived to cook for us, he was a little frantic, but overall, he handled it well. The cook was kind enough to warn us when a "fire" was coming up. The first one, Mark took him away from it to a place where they could watch it but not actually be near it. The second "fire", he decided to stay and handled it just fine.

By the end of the meal, that child was using his chopsticks to pick up chicken. Of course, he didn't eat the chicken, but he picked it up. He actually used regular chopsticks and most of the time picked it up one handed. I was pretty impressed. We were sitting near an aquarium that had a clownfish in it. Every time it swam anywhere where we could see it, he nwould yell out, "There's Nemo!" He can see much better than me because it wasn't until the end of the meal that I saw there really was a clownfish in there!

As for the rest of the crew, I think child 3 enjoyed the meal the most. She chowed down on most of it, including the soup. The bigger kids loved the meat. Our oldest struck up a conversation with the family next to us who had a son around his age. When the family left, the woman kindly complimented him to us which was sweet and good for him to hear.

On the way home, we stopped by a store so I could pick up something for school. We were maybe five minutes from home when I turned around and saw our youngest sound asleep. Mark carried him in to the house, put him in his pj's, and put him in bed. I think the only words every uttered were when he looked up at Mark and said, "No book tonight."

And another adventure had come to an end...


Monday, March 1, 2010

I wonder...

There are some things I cannot help but wonder in life...

  • Why does my son play in my bathtub (no water) in the morning instead of say, the toy room?
  • Why do I have a basket overflowing with socks without partners?
  • Why does nobody need to tell me something until I am in the bathroom then suddenly everyone has something important to share?
    Why is is that the day after you brag about your children's improved behavior that the behavior takes a nose dive?
  • Why do your children insist on singing at the top of their lungs when someone calls on the phone?
  • Why does someone drop their juice or a big crumbly cookie on the floor the same afternoon after it was cleaned?
  • Why is it only the nights you have gotten to bed really late that a child shows up in your room just a few hours later to tell you they are sick?
  • Why do children suddenly act like they feel a LOT better after you make a doctor's appointment for them?
  • Why do my children ask me every single morning what else they can have for breakfast when I give them the same answer every single morning? (almonds, yogurt, banana, fruit...)
  • Why I am more tired on Friday nights than any other day of the week?
  • Why my kids will call out for "Mama" over and over again when their daddy (who is an involved daddy) is sitting just a few feet away?
  • Why my kids will say "Mama" over and over again without really pausing to let me respond?
  • Why kids suddenly find their most favorite toys in the whole world in the consignment sale pile when those same toys haven't been touched for months?
  • Why do my kids remember to ask us for our allowance every week but never seem to remember the times I bought a pack of gum for them with promises they would pay me back?
  • At what point will I walk across the kitchen floor without hearing the crunch of Cheerios beneath my feet?
  • How can the child who has you laughing one moment have you crying the next?
  • At what point did my life not become mine?
  • How come parenting is the hardest job but the most rewarding job in the world?

What is is that you wonder?