Thursday, September 23, 2010


Once again, it is late (or early, depending on your definition), and I should be heading to bed. But I feel like such a slacker when I don't post. So here are a few things I want to remember:

  • I want to remember to NEVER go in the woods on a hot day without some kind of bug spray on. I have chigger bites on almost every square inch of my legs, even though I was wearing capris that day. They are miserable little creatures that are making me a miserable not so little creature.
  • I need to remember that child 2 lost yet another tooth yesterday. If only I had paid more attention in my health classes, I might know exactly what kind of tooth she lost. It was on the bottom and that is about all I know.
  • I am going to remember that this morning, child 2 shared with me that yet again the tooth fairy had left her money under the mattress...that Dad had to discover it much like I did the last time. Silly tooth fairy. Under the pillow. It goes under the pillow.
  • I want to remember how our youngest looked at Mark who was about to go outside to finish that darn basketball goal and advised, "You better wear a helmet..." (Not an original...I think big brother may have said it first)
  • I am going to remember how my two big kids played basketball on the back porch until daylight was gone with not too much arguing and no tears (that I know of).
  • I want to remember that I was so worried about our oldest and middle school. Or maybe it was ME and middle school. And it hasn't been completely smooth sailing. But I need to remember the moment I received an e-mail from a teacher...complete surprise. The note shared a presentation our son had helped develop (in a team effort) with words of praise. My heart needed that.
  • I am going to remember that after a very long afternoon of the youngest being VERY three, he came up beside me and said sweetly, "I still love you, Mama..." I will also remember thinking that same thing about him. :)
  • I hope I remember how our kids (especially the two young ones) go around singing praise songs. Nothing like watching your six year old belt out "Savior, He can move the mountains" at the top of her lungs in the kitchen.
  • I need to remember to enjoy the times I feel really good because right now I don't (blaming the allergies). Wishing I had appreciated feeling good more.
  • Need to remember how we were getting on to a couple of kids who were singing at the table (against house rules for dinner) when the youngest belted out in this song "Bow chicka wow" in full volume and drama. It is NEVER dull around here.
  • I want to remember the beautiful sunsets we see every night...I need to remember to treasure each one. They are all so different but yet all created by the same Creator.
  • I need to remember that I am not getting younger or thinner...I need to get up early each day to exercise. Otherwise, I will be paying the piper.
  • I want to remember to enjoy tomorrow night. Basketball hasn't started, and there is no football practice either. We can just be a family. No chauffeuring, no trading off. A rarity these days.
  • I need to remember that we are making progress at school, that sometimes the steps are tiny baby steps but we are getting there. I also need to remember the proud smiles as I high fived a couple of students today who remembered something we had been practicing.
  • The one thing I don't want to remember is the vote/election yesterday. I am ashamed of our community and their mindset. I remember how important the future of our children are...apparently several people don't!

More later,


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Words Sweeter than Honey

Yes, two posts in ONE day. I did do a Part II to my "Heads Up" entry. I know you won't want to miss that dramatic ending. :)

I just have to type this so I can remember it one day when I am on my knees in tears over an ornery child. That will happen. I can guarantee. Probably tomorrow. But just for today, I will bask (is that how you spell it) in the sweetness of these words...

This morning I was running around trying to get ready. Our youngest always eats longer than us, usually because he piddles while the rest of us are eating. So often, he ends up eating his breakfast alone while the rest of us get ready. However, he won't take TOO long because he wants to "beat" Mark by getting dressed first.

So shortly after I started getting ready, I heard that frantic, "Mom! I want down!" Yes, the child is still in a high chair. Since he is of short stature, the high chair gives him the height he needs. Plus, our breakfast table doesn't have that many chairs. Yet I don't think he is ready to sit in a dining room chair...

As usual, I digress.

He is NOT known for his patience. He has NONE. So before I even have a chance to breathe, the "Mom, I want down" sounds get louder and louder. I kept responding, "I am coming" to no avail. It wasn't in a split second, so he was frantic.

Finally I went to his chair to clean him up. As I did, I chided him on the way he had been impatient. I didn't really even do it in a very upset voice. I just reminded him that he is one of four kids in our family and that I do the best I can do.

Then it came.

He looked at me with these sweet eyes. And he said, "Can I say I am sorry?"

I was a bit taken aback. He will say he is sorry with a LOT of prompting. That is if he isn't feeling overly prideful. But it is rarely if ever a voluntary thing. I agreed that he could.

"Mommy, I am sorry for yelling at you." End of apology.

I picked him up and hugged him. Then he asked, "Does that make God happy when I say sorry?"

I cannot speak for God, but I will for me/us. I had a grin on my face all morning...

Heads Up Pt. 2

Let's see. I know you were on the edge of your seat all day wondering what happened to my dear husband and his busted head. So let me finish the story and end the suspense...

Where was I? Oh, yes, the whole to go to the ER or not to go to the ER...that is the question...

That is basically what I posed on Facebook as we left to go to my parents' house. It wasn't very nice to just leave a dangler like that as my status update. However, I didn't really have a lot of time to elaborate either.

So we headed over the river and through the wood...well, not really. Down the hill and past the park might be more accurate. :) Sorry, I am trying to alleviate some frustration (election results) through humor. Anyway, we finally got to my parents' house.

Our thought was that rather than sit in the ER, we could just wait until Monday (the next day) to have Mark run to the doctor's office. After all, it wasn't bleeding profusely, and I was pretty sure he didn't have a concussion. We took a survey (of my parents). Mom was undecided, Dad said, "Go to the ER."

Around that time, I decided to check in on Facebook and clarify. I didn't want to be cruel (because I know that people were just hanging on for every word... :). When I did, several people had recommended a local hospital I had never even heard of. I checked out the website. Fairly new. I had Mark call. They said they did take his insurance. So we hopped in the car (with me driving...rare!) and headed to this hospital.

We walked in the "ER". It was rather small, but here is the part I liked. We were the ONLY people in the room. It probably took me longer to fill out the paperwork than for the actual visit.

Have you ever seen Scrubs? That is what our experience was like. Just like Scrubs. Comical.

Our doctor...he was hilarious. The nurses were funny. (My favorite is when they had to ask Mark if he felt safe in the was on the form. We told them as safe as you can feel with four kids :) We laughed quite a bit.

In the end, joking aside, Mark received two staples in his head (no numbing beforehand) AND a tetanus shot.

Ask him today which hurts more. It is the arm where he got the shot. By a landslide.

The bigger hurt might have been the check we had to write for visiting the ER.

As we drove away from the hospital (which is where I will go from now on, though I hope not to need to!), we saw the most beautiful sunset. The sun was a big red ball sinking in the sky. It looked like a scene from Japan. Only in the US. Just amazing.

So that is what we did. Drove off in the sunset, one of us with a stapled head.

Can't get any better than that, can we?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Heads Up

It started off an innocent enough Sunday (which is how Sundays should start off...). I will admit, I kind of wanted to stay at home (instead of going to church) just for a little extra rest time. But duties awaited, and I had no choice but to get up and go worship with a sincere heart.


Hi ho, hi ho, it is off to church we go...

We arrived at church, dropped kiddos off, then we went to our own Sunday School class.

I should probably interject that child 4 is handling his new class beautifully. He clings to me a little bit when we first walk in but he is good about separating now and smiles as I walk out the door. Oh, and he is learning Bible verses. I don't think he will ever forget Genesis 1:1. We hear it alot.

Anyway, for this particular Sunday, I was scheduled to help out in the nursery with newborns (to about six months old) for the Second Hour. Typically, our family assists, but there are rules about children helping out with the littlest babies. So I signed up with a friend of mine in a similar situation. The plan was for Mark to go on to church with the other kids while I rocked babies all morning. :) Unfortunately, our plan took a bit of a turn when we were needed in child 4's class, so that is where Mark and the other kids ended up Sunday morning. I am pretty sure I had more fun. :)

I just have to say, I LOVE rocking babies. And the newborn stage is one of my favorites. I know, I know, a lot of people don't like that stage because there is so little activity. They eat, they sleep. I think that is what I love about it. I am pretty sure that heaven will consist of rocking sleeping babies all day long.

After church, we headed home for a little R and R. We ate some of this, some of that, then it was favorite part of a Sunday afternoon. While the little ones (and eventually I) went down for a nap, Mark and the big kids went out to the backyard to assemble our daughter's basketball goal. She got it for her birthday. In June. And she has reminded us of this every single weekend since.

A while later, I woke up and settled into my comfy chair with the i-Touch to catch up on e-mails and play my turn on Words with Friends (which is addictive by the way). I heard kind of a banging noise, but around here with four kids, it wasn't a sound that truly fazed me. Then I heard my dear husband tell our daughter to come get me. Again, no alarm in his voice, and she never really did come in. I finished up an e-mail and decided I better make sure all was fine.

I walked out the back door to find the goal on the ground and Mark with blood on his hands. "Get me a clean rag please."

I thought, "Oh, he cut his hand..." And I retrieved a clean rag. When I brought it, he told me it needed to be cold and wet. Men. Do they think I can read their minds?

When I returned with a clean, cold, wet rag, THAT is the point that said husband told me that the goal had fallen and he was bleeding...from the back of his head.

Thankfully for him, I am not squeamish (unless it involves vomit which I still cannot deal with).

I won't go into details for the rest of the world that IS squeamish. I will say that there was a nice size opening on the back of the head. We came inside, he stretched out on the floor, and I applied as much pressure as I could while warding off the littlest one who was very curious about what was going on.

Then we started that game. I am not good at this game. To go to the ER or not got to the ER, that is the question.

And on that note, I am going to have to stop. And this can be a "To be continued episode" of the Cloud Crew...


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Faith of a Child

Sorry, this is a repeat of a story off of Facebook. But I want to remember it.

Yesterday the older kids and I were stretched out on the floor playing Uno. Our youngest was working on a puzzle nearby. He kept walking across his brother's back. His brother would moan and groan (dramatically). Finally, one time, his brother proclaimed, "Oh, my stomach. My stomach hurts!" Child 4 plopped down next to him and put his hands on his brother's back. "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen." Then he gave his brother a kiss and declared, "All better!"

More later,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Facing the Truth

The other day after church, we were determined to go to our favorite pizza joint. I had been thinking about it all weekend long. When we got there, it was a bit busier than usual. Our usual table was taken. (Don't they know that it is OUR table??? :) Somehow we managed. We got settled in. Then the wait began. (Did I mention it was busier than usual?)

When I am on a date with hubby, unless I am starving (or think I am), I don't mind waiting here and there. In fact, I kind of enjoy that one on one time. It is a rare treat. Even when we went to D.C. (one of my favorite trips) with just the older kids, a wait wasn't as big a deal. However, with the whole crew...a wait puts a sense of terror in my heart.

Suddenly I become the entertainer. I answer a million questions from child 3 and distract child 4 every chance I get. It honestly wears me out. Not to mention the multiple trips to restroom, the rationing out of crackers, answering "When will the food come out?" over and over.

I know I looked exhausted. And maybe, just maybe, a bit frazzled. I probably even sighed.

Our sweet daughter looked at me.

"That is what you get for having four kids!"

Out of the mouths of babes...


PS Did have neat opportunity at that same meal to share a little about our adoption with someone who walked up and asked. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Wonder...

I need to do a quick post because I am supposed to be sleeping right now. And I am headed that way. Really, I am...Nothing like starting the week off with a sleep deficit.

Thought I would do a random post...things I wonder about. These won't be serious or in depth at all. I could spend all day wondering about world peace, the state of the economy, social issues. Instead, I find myself wondering about the simpler things in life. Things like...
  • I wonder why a child will drop their dinner plate on a newly mopped floor every single time?
  • I wonder why things will be nice and quiet until I shut the bathroom door...suddenly everyone needs to speak to me?
  • I wonder where the missing socks disappear to in the washer/dryer? (I have a whole basket of unmatched socks)
  • I wonder why the kids feels the need to just drop their clothes on the floor rather than in the laundry basket just a few feet away?
  • I wonder why we always get a warm/hot spell after I have packed away summer clothing? (Wondering in advance because living in Arkansas, I surely know not to do it this early...)
  • I wonder why my kids always act like turkeys the day after I have shared something good about them with others?
  • I wonder why when I start these entries at night, it double spaces my "bullets" but when I try to finish it in the morning, it single spaces them?
  • I wonder why my kids' belongings seem to find their way to my bedroom...stuffed animals, books, bike accessories...?
  • I wonder how I ended up with such LOUD children when we are not really loud parents?
  • I wonder why you hurt as much (if not more) than your kids when they are hurt?
  • I wonder why I always hit every single red light when I am running late?
  • I wonder why the same children who can bring me to my knees in prayer and frustration can also make my heart sing with a simple act of love?

I could wonder all day long but I must get up and ready for school. What do you wonder? (Only lighthearted answers on a Monday. :)


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Today was the day. The big Pantene Beautiful Lengths event. It is tied to the LPGA tour which is currently in our area.

All day I had friends at school ask, "Are you ready?" They also asked, "How will you style it?" I had to laugh on that one. There is no styling this hair of mine. It is fine. Have I mentioned HOW fine it is? It doesn't style. It just hangs. There is nothing I can do with it. Trust me, I have tried.

It was a busy day at school. We are finally getting some rain (via the tropical storm on the coast), so kids kept indoors makes for a busy a day. Then we had a faculty meeting after school. Around 4:40, I ran out the door to head to the Pantene event. (I am not an advertiser for Pantene, it is just easier to say that than "beautiful lengths".)

I will admit that I had second doubts on the way there. I was ready for my long hair to be gone. I may have sensory issues or something...cannot STAND the feel of my hair on my back like that. That and it doesn't do anything but hang anyway. At the same time, knowing there would be several people there watching it happen...well, I almost turned around. But I didn't. I thought of Mrs. B and Mrs. P and kept on driving.

When I got to the meeting area, I signed in then went to the "salon" to have my hair pulled back. Thankfully they had several stylists on hand to pull back the hair and measure it. And even more thankfully, eight inches wasn't as short on me as I thought it would be!

Finally, we were lined up to enter the "ballroom". My school group had a special seating area. We even had special capes to wear. Even though I wasn't excited to be up front and center, I was thankful to have some of my school family doing this with me. (Some also did it last week at a school assembly...I think we had 15 participate in all.)

I have a lot more "group" pictures but as you know, I try to be very careful about putting others on the blog without permission. I will say that our donors included some students, including a couple of girls who had NEVER cut their hair before, and a teacher and her twin sister who I believe have not had short hair since they were babies. It was very moving to see ALL of the participants from our area...there were over 100 donors I believe, including some men.
I thought it would be a formal affair, so I was very relieved to find out it was fairly casual. My family ended up sitting on the floor just a few feet away. That was a treat!

This picture just shows how long it had gotten. It was longer than I thought it was. I had to laugh. One of my teacher friends was sitting next to me. Her hair is so thick, she had like 6 ponytails to cut. I had two. And I am pretty sure one of hers was the same size as my 2. Darn fine hair.
Hair today...

Does it look like I am praying for a way out? I was probably trying not to cry. A video was shown highlighting the Beautiful Lengths program. The video also explained why our school was participating. That made me tear up. (Especially with Mrs. B standing behind me a little to the right with a bandana on her head that recently went bald from the chemo she just started...)

Gone tomorrow. In just a few minutes, the hair was snipped off and placed in a bag for safekeeping and donation. My assistant principal was the one who cut it for me.

Last but not least, the "after". I didn't style it or anything. And I have raccoon eyes because I was/am very tired. But you might get the gist...

I will say that thus far, it feels SO much lighter on my head. It ended up being fairly short but it will grow back. I told the stylist, "I am a teacher and a mom to four...I need something easy I can run out the door with." I think this will work. Or at least is a starting point!

Tonight child 2 informed me that she hopes she can do this event next year.
I hope she can too.
More later,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

He Gives and Takes Away

I apologize for the funkiness of the fonts today. Blogger sometimes has a mind of its own...

There is this song I have always loved to sing.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be His name...

One of the choruses of the song is "You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name..."

So when I have heard it on the radio or at church, I just blindly sing along. My kids can probably sing alot of it just from singing loudly (and badly) in the car...

Then a couple years ago, Mark and I went to an incredible concert. Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. United Tour. Ironically, in Tulsa. It was an incredible concert. Two of my favorite singers. I always enjoy their concerts. It was just amazing.

Even more amazing, this concert was one of Chapman's first tours after losing his five year old daughter in a car accident. One of his sons accidentally hit her in their driveway. Her name was Maria, and she was from China. I remember the night I learned about Maria. Having my own little Maria a room away...well, my heart hurt for the Chapman family.

One of my strongest memories from this concert is listening to Chapman sing "He gives and takes away..." Suddenly those words had a totally different meaning. I cried through the whole song. It has never meant the same thing to me since.

Friday night a tragedy struck our community. Three local high school students were leaving a concert in Tulsa. John Mayer. I have to admit, I had to look him up. I have heard him without knowing I have. Anyway, they were attempting to turn around when their vehicle was struck by a truck.

One student died at the scene. I didn't know her, but it has taken no time to find out what kind of person she was. Micayla Patterson lived her life to the fullest. Even more, she lived it for Christ. And while I believe she is in heaven basking in God's glory and would not for a second think of returning to our world, my heart is SO heavy for the family left here to grieve, for the many friends who already miss her smile and her spirit. You can see just a glimpse of her life right here...

The other two students are in the hospital. One of them was a kindergarten student in my class once upon a time. I won't go into much detail but I will say that she is a precious child (young woman these days I suppose). She also has an amazing mature faith (from what I can tell) and will need that faith for the rest of her life to lean on after this. My heart has ached thinking about her. My students are my students for life. They have a place in my heart. When one hurts, I hurt. I don't want to sound noble. It really isn't. It is part of being a teacher. It is obvious after talking to another teacher she had later in school that this is just part of who we are. It also says alot about D. She left an impression. Her Facebook page is filled with countless messages of love and prayers.

The last report I have heard (all second hand) is that her condition is improving. That does not stop my tears from flowing. And they have all weekend.

All this to say, this morning at church, the last song we sang was "Blessed be the name of the Lord..."

Ugh. There are those words written by Matt Redman...
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name...

Then a little further in the song,
When the darkness closes in,
Lord, still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Singing those words today had a completely different meaning yet again. One family I don't know but cannot get out of my mind is experiencing that "take away" part. It is one of the deepest fears as a parent. I know my kids are "on loan" from God. They aren't really mine. Yet, I live my life expecting that they will be here long after I will. But sometimes, for whatever reason, He gives and takes away. For the others who remain here, friends and family of Micayla and the other students, they are on that road of suffering. Through this all, we are to CHOOSE to say, "Blessed be Your name..."

There are many things in life I don't understand. I am not afraid to say to God, "Why, God? Why did this happen?" I know that sometimes I will see the answer in time. Other times, I have to trust that there are things I just won't understand with my human mind and heart. It doesn't matter. God is who He is. 'Nuff said. (I realize, easier said than believed)

Some days the praise flows easily. When I watch the sunset, spend the day at the beach with my family, listen to the laughter of my children, it is so easy for my lips and tongue to sing, "Blessed be Your name." It is natural to me to praise He who created these moments.

But what about on the road to suffering? What about when two teachers in your school find out within months of each other that they are battling cancer? What about a friend who says goodbye to her husband as he leaves for inservice not realizing that it is their last goodbye? How about when a singer, completely devoted to God, cradles his daughter in his arms as her spirit leaves due to a tragic accident? And what about when three well-loved students, having the time of their lives, leave a concert and moments later are struck by a truck in their vehicle?

How about then?

He gives and takes away.

So here is my question, to both you and me...

What will we choose to say?

Will we choose to sing "Blessed is Your Name?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

First of all, I want to give a big shout out to my friend Chely who told me how I can add pictures without having to pay for added storage! It was an easy click of a button. Woohoo!

On to today's post...

I have always enjoyed sunsets, particularly over the ocean. :) But over the years, I have stopped truly noticing them...unless we are at the beach. I guess that is because it is the crazy time of night (dinner, bedtime, etc), and typically I am inside the house at that time. The past few weeks, my eyes have been re-opened. Each night, I stepped outside to check on our baby sparrows. As I did, I started noticing just how beautiful the sunsets were. Since I had my camera for bird photos, I started snapping some pictures of the sunset too each night.

It is now a nightly ritual. Most nights, I grab my camera just as the sun sets. I try with all my might to capture the beauty of His creation, His handiwork. Yet like many breathtaking sights, the camera (to me) never truly captures how glorious each sunset is. But still I snap away.

I am thankful for this time. Life is so busy. I feel like I am a hamster in a wheel sometimes, running around in circles. It has been such a time of rejuvenation to just take a few minutes each day to stop and truly appreciate the world I live in, the beauty around me. It also puts my life in perspective...very small compared to the universe He created. Honestly, this "reawakening" has been a gift to me, a gift I didn't know I needed.

I imagine that sunrises are equally as amazing. However, that requires me getting up before I am ready to. :)