Thursday, February 28, 2008

How I know I married a super-hero and other points from our day

Yesterday was Nathan's birthday. We had our traditional big breakfast and then he headed off to work. The PLAN was to celebrate with his favorite dinner (cubed steak, broccoli, cheese & rice casserole, and garlic mashed potatoes) when he got home and he would open gifts then. We were going to spend the day readying the house for the big "party" and finalizing his homemade gifts. Well, you have heard the saying "The best laid plans..." right?

I, excitedly, loaded the kids up in the car to go and do their dollar shopping for Daddy at target (a birthday tradition. They can't keep a secret yet, so we do it same-day). I DO leave the house often with all five of mine, so this wasn't new, but I did prepare them with he old ,"what Daddy would really love is to know this was done in peace"-bit to add an extra flare of importance about behaving in the store. We arrived and they were doing fine. We picked up the last item (a Yoda water bottle to match the 20 other Yoda items they had picked out for him) and headed towards check-out. "So far, so good", I thought. Then I had a major mental trip-up and offered to buy them hot chocolate for being so well-behaved. What I was thinking will be a mystery for the ages. I know that I wanted to bless them, but for the record, children ages 7,6,4, & 3 should not be given hot chocolate unless they a re strapped into a water-proof room. That trip went downhill from there and ended in two of the above mentioned hot chocolates being poured out into the parking lot bushes because of disobedience and almost getting hit by a car in that disobedience.

Then I decided that it wasn't bad enough and I still "needed" to go get Nathan's camera from BJ's. (Again, a mystery for the ages as to what I was thinking)Only this time, the kids did fine. It was the "customer service" lady that needed to have her hot chocolate poured out! I simply asked to see a camera ON (GASP!) and she acted like I had just...well...poured out her hot chocolate. I asked for a new worker to help me and this new person got my camera, turned it on, and I bought it. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that someone else had owned this camera and taken 90 pictures of their messy apartment (??). FINALLY, we were headed home. That is when I got THE call.

Nathan had been sent to Charlotte and wouldn't be home until after 8pm. Our kids go to bed, normally, at 7:30 and we normaly eat around 5!! I decided to NOT fret and to just give them a snack and a nap when we got home. Understandably, they didn't want to sleep. They just wriggled around for an hour and probably worked themselves up more than they would have if I had just let them watch TV or play the computer.

So then we just waited, and waited, and waited for Daddy to come home and be "surprised". Even though he knew everything really, they love surprising him, so that is what we call it :). Many times when he called to check in, the wind whipping around him (as he worked on the lift at the top of a building in the freezing wind we had yesterday) would muffle out his voice
completely. He was as exhausted as we were or more. Still, he came home and was excited to see those bouncing off the walls, so-ready-to surprise-daddy-that-they-are-about-to-bust kids. He couldn't hear a word, because they weer squealing so loudly when he finally got home. He was so tired, but he had so much patience with Ella (3) and Cooper(4) especially who refused to eat a bite of their meal for some reason. Ella just crumbled into tears at one point and Nathan just went over and sat on the floor next to her chair while he helped her finish her food, so that she could get cake. It was a long night, but we really did have a good time celebrating, FINALLY.
Nathan loved his YODA cake and I even got a high-five from him for it :), as if I had figured out some sort of guy-code. I don't remember getting into my bed, but I slept very well when I did. I am a little (OK, A LOT) run-down today, but we are taking it REALLY easy.
Praying for no bumps in the road today!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some days just STINK!

By 9am, sewer gas had completely permeated our home.

Had to rush out with the kids, because it smelled SO BAD.

Came home to find 2 plumbers, 2 city water workers, my next door neighbor, and a HUGE city water truck (picture in your mind the highway trucks with the large flashing arrow) out in front of my house.

The problem ended up being a dry trap in the stall shower (we don't use anymore) off the master.

I fixed it myself after a phone call to my uncle (the plumber).

Nathan decided to load up and pick up Chik-fil-a for dinner before he left for class.


We loaded up the truck.

I locked us out of the house.

Nathan was late for class.

We got in a moment AFTER my 3 yr old couldn't hold it anymore.

Annagail got her first-ever bottle of milk tonight and hopefully we will ALL sleep tonight.

We could ALL use it.

Shameless Plug For The baby In The Family

In checking my comments this morning, I realized that there haven't been any recent photos of my littlest one. Here is Annagail enjoying her very first Valentine's Day in her new Valentine's Onesie (Thanks Gran!) She will be ONE in a couple of very short weeks. It is a strange feeling I have about that. With other of my babies, I have been reluctant and a little sad as they reached their first birthday; as if they were growing too fast. Even though I don't want to rush her baby days at all, I am looking forward to getting to know who she is and seeing how (when she is walking, talking, and otherwise participating) she fits into this large family of ours. She already is the center of her siblings' attention when she wakes up in the morning. Even Cooper (not at all a morning person) has to be reigned back, so he doesn't smother her with his sloppy kisses. It is very sweet. They all love having a baby sister. Ella is still "homeschooling Annagail" and trying to teach her how to walk.

So, no heavy issues to share today. Just one sweet baby!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Teaching About Slavery

We are rowing Who Owns the Sun, by Stacey Chbosky. It is ROUGH. It is a beautiful story, but it is so, very sad story about a child realizing that they , and their family, are slaves.

A few years ago, Graycen went to preschool. In her class, she made a friend named Bethany. When they had their class photo taken, she was eager to show me who Bethany was. As I rode in the passenger seat and she was in the back in her car seat, she tried to explain to me which little girl was Bethany. "Her shirt is red." she said. There were a couple with red shirts. "She has a hair-bow in her hair." she said. MANY had hair bows. She went on to point out two or three things about Bethany and I still couldn't make out, by her descriptions, who her new little best friend was. Imagine how my heart melted when we finally reached our destination and she pointed to the only African American girl in the class. She could have easily identified her by her skin color, but she didn't realize the difference. Obviously, Bethany had a different color skin and I am sure that Graycen SAW it, but she didn't find it significant enough of a difference to point it out in an effort to differentiate between any of the other girls in the class. It was a complete non-issue. It was an illustration to me of her heart.

It isn't easy teaching a 7 yr old and a 6 y old about slavery. In some ways, I feel like today my 7 yr old lost a little of her innocence :( . I feel like she has been looking at this world with her big, beautiful, blue eyes and she has seen everything so pretty. Today, as if I was shifting lenses like the optometrist does when you are looking through that big contraption they have you look through, I removed one of the layers of rose she has been looking through. She has seen a side of this world now that has made her very sad. She has a compassionate heart and it hurt that tender heart of hers to know that people were EVER treated that way. She read another book today that told the story of one (fictional) slave family. When she was finished, she buried her head in the couch.

As sad as it makes me to see her have these realizations, I think it is important for her to know the history of our nation and to know (in small, age-appropriate portions) about this great sin of slavery. She needs to understand that people can easily loose track of even basic humanity and make grave errors that effect many generations of people. She is being raised in a time when she may very well have an African American President. Even though I am not a supporter of this particular candidate, I think it is absolutely wonderful that is is even a possibility. I am glad that she will know such a stark contrast to these times that she is learning about now, but it makes it almost as important for her to learn about what DID happen. That is the only way that she will ever be able to stand against it, should history ever tempt to repeat itself in some horrible manifestation of the same sin again.

As I said before though, we are taking small steps into this and even as early as tomorrow will be talking about The Emmancipation Proclamation and other legislation that eventually made free men of all. As she gets older, we will delve deeper into it all and I am sure my heart will break for her again when we learn about hings like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. This is the hard part of teaching. It is even HARDER to be the parent during these heart-heavy lessons. The good news is that, because I am the parents AND the teacher right now, I can sit and cry with them through it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Gifts from my sweet Valentine!! Roses & A Pedicure Gift Certificate

My Four Oldest Valentines

Valentine's Lapbooking

YUMMY Valentine Cookies we made yesterday. (Sugar Free & Whole Wheat-BTW)

MaryEvelyn's Creativity Swirling

Our camera got crunched (by Nathan AND I. It was a team effort :) ) over Christmas, so forgive the crummy pictures from my phone. We have had a nice day at home for Valentine's Day. It could only have been made better if Nathan were here too and Graycen weren't getting sick again :(

Graycen is sick again and running high fevers. For those coutning, this will make four illnesses since December for her. We have done all the testing and are grateful to know that she has astham that is complicated by severe allergies to dust & dogs, but we are still looking into environmental causes too. She has never been a sickly child, do we know it is something that was introduced in the last year. We appreciate your prayers, as always, for her and the rest of the kids.

In the meantime, ENJOY our photos and have a GREAT Valentine's day!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

An AH-HA Parenting Moment

I had a wonderful Ah-Ha moment this morning. My 3 yr old daughter, Ella, was making laps around the kitchen table as I was trying to make their breakfast. She was getting faster and faster and then added a tweak on her brothers back as she passed him. Basically, she was in a big ole race with herself to see how quickly she could get him to wallop her one. As my hands were filled with cinnamon and sugar, I called out to her (calmly) to stop. She didn't stop and even flew right passed me as if she didn't hear me. Instinctively, I louder said, "Ella, STOP." Again, she flew passed the counter in front of me. AGAIN, I said, "ELLA STOP!!!!" This time my voice was raised and my frustration was showing plainly now. That is when the Ah-Ha moment happened. I immediately pictured a scene from my past.

When Nathan was a teenager, he worked for Kroger. He had a deaf friend that worked there too named Janine. One particular supervisor never seemed to get that Janine was deaf and couldn't hear her. She KNEW she was deaf, but somehow, she always seemed to think that if she spoke loudly enough, Janine would understand her. Repeatedly, she would stand there waving her hands in the air, screaming her directions to Janine as if Janine would get it one day. It was funny to watch and even Janine got a kick out of it, because she could obviously tell that this lady was really trying hard to make Janine HEAR her.

It dawned on me that this is EXACTLY what I am doing when I raise my voice with my kids. They aren't deaf to the sound of my voice, but it isn't the HEARING of me that I am trying to get across to them. It is the UNDERSTANDING of complete obedience that they are deaf to. They are children who need to be TAUGHT these things. Ella, at 3, is trying to figure things out and I need to teach her what she doesn't yet completely understand in a way that communicates this knowledge; that ignoring Mama and breaking the rules of the house have consequences. Getting louder and frustrated with her probably looks to her a lot like this manager looked to Janine; silly, unnecessary, and still not accomplishing the goal of communication at all.

On a lighter note~

I had a wonderful time this evening on the floor with my two youngest girls (3 & 11 mos). Ella was "teaching Annagail to dance" and Annagail (who is just starting to cruise holding the furniture) took her first solo steps with the walker at her sister's encouragement. It was so cute. Ella would dance and Annagail would clap. Then Annagail would try to take a step or two and Ella would cheer her on. Ella looked at me at one point with an almost look of desperation and said, "Mama, I need to hold that girl!", as if she was just going to bust if she didn't. I put Annagail in her lap and, for the split second that Annagail allowed her fanny to be idle there, Ella BEAMED. It was absolutely PRECIOUS.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Well, we have had a lot go on in the last few weeks. The number one thing has been the stomach flu. Within the last two weeks it has done a full sweep of our home of seven. Everyone has had it and some STILL have it. It hasn't been fun, but honestly I would rather all of us get it now together than for it to linger over SEVERAL weeks. God willing, we are on the mend and should be full strength by week's start.

In the meantime, someone has ordered me a subscription to Martha Stewart Living. I didn't order it and this is the second month I have received it!! With my name on it an everything :) SO, if anyone knows who blessed me with this wonderful gift, stand up proud and announce it, so I can thank them. Although I don't aspire to be a Mini-Martha, I love reading the articles and getting ideas for my home from it. So, now I am off to find a quiet, flu-free corner to do my first once over of the latest issue.

Have a perfectly peaceful weekend!1