Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My cup runneth over

Things are hoppin' over here, but I must stop and count my blessings.  Among them:

My husband.  As I've adjusted to teaching again, and working for the first time since having children, he has been a rock.  Listening to me, encouraging me, picking up (the many) chores I am juggling around the house as I get used to my new schedule, and loving me through my adjustment phase.  God has blessed me beyond words with this man.  He is my safe place, my cheerleader and my sounding board.

My children.  While I never thought too much about leaving my children at school all day, I have to say it is incredibly wonderful to be in the same building with four of them three days a week.  I get the occasional glimpse or hug from one of them in the hall, and it makes me smile every time.  My eldest daughter is enjoying her new high school career, and we are very happy with her school.  

Clean bathrooms.  My husband has taken over cleaning the bathrooms every week, in an effort to ease some of my workload.  Oh. my. goodness.  I detest cleaning the bathrooms (that is not an exaggeration - we have three boys, at least some of whom seem to have aiming issues unless they are playing with Nerf guns and a brother is involved - in which case they are always dead-on), and I can't tell you how blissful it is to have bathrooms that are clean. . . without cleaning them myself.  Fabulous.

My little students.  I am loving getting to know their personalities.  They warm my heart with their hugs, funny comments and sweet little smiles.  I like teaching them about their God and how much He loves them.  On a side note, I have also noticed that I am starting to call everyone "friends" or "boys and girls". . .

Summer thunderstorms.  It has been wicked humid the last several days, and my hair has been the size of Texas.  This morning we had a loud thunderstorm and I loved it.  There is something so peaceful and soothing about a summer storm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Change is not a four-letter-word!

I just put my 14-year-old daughter on the bus to head to her first full day of high school.  Just before we left the house to head to the bus stop, my husband asked if I'd cry.  "No!"  I blithely replied.  "I really think I'll be just fine!"

Weeeeellll. . .I was wrong.

I couldn't help it!  As she got out of the car, a few little tears slipped out unbidden.  She is ready for this change.  It is time.  She will be fine - and more than that - she will succeed!  But is this mamma ready for the change?  The jury is out.

Change has never been my favorite word (as evidenced here and here).  And this year marks many changes in our household.  For 11 years, our whole life has revolved around our Lutheran school, our church, or our home.  All of my family was in one of those three places, either with me or my husband, or with teachers I knew oh-so-well.  And now!  Now she is headed to a school where I know precious few teachers or students, in an unfamiliar building, 25 minutes away.

Our other big change is that I am teaching preschool this year!  I am going to have the three-year olds for three days a week.  I am so looking forward to spending time with those little ones, singing songs, reading, playing and telling them about Jesus!  It has been a few years, though, since I've worked (read 14.5), so this will be an adjustment for me and for all of us.  Many suggestions have been given to me to amp up the children's chores (they totally love this idea), so we'll have to figure out a method of organization that work for our family.

I have confidence in my daughter and our family (and me, mostly!), that we will adjust to these exciting changes and be better for them!  Change is good actually, this I know in my head, even if my heart is slow to catch up sometimes.  I have loved our life to this point!  But I wouldn't want it to remain as it has been forever.  The future is wide open, with so many memories to be made.  A new family to meet at our daughter's school.  New children for me to meet, teach and love.  New opportunities for our kids to learn better how a family works together.  New chances for God to show us His love and blessings and provision.

So change - it's actually not a four-letter word.  It's a six-letter word.  Which reminds of another six-letter word:  thrive.  I pray that as our seasons change here, we thrive.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On Growing Up

My oldest son is almost a teenager.  And apparently his body got the memo, because suddenly, he has grown up.  Seemingly overnight, his voice sounds more like Barry White's and less like Alvin the Chipmunk's.  (Though every now and then I do get to hear some voice-changing-Peter Brady moments.)  I hear the rumble of his voice from the other room and think my husband is speaking, only to find that it is my "little" boy.  He is also taller than I am now.  I have to look up to my son.  I knew the day was coming, but it seems to have happened when my back was turned.

Along with all of those changes, I am also seeing a deepening maturity in his behavior and actions toward others.  He is becoming more respectful, thoughtful and selfless.  He is gentler with his siblings and helps out more without being asked.  We are also able to have those deeper discussions with him that we've enjoyed with our daughter for awhile now.  He gets sarcasm and subtle humor.  It's fun to connect with him on this level.

But he's not quite on the verge of adulthood just yet.  He still loves to make up crazy names for his siblings, speak in his own dialect of the English language (or sometimes in his raging Frenchman accent), blast out 80's music from his spotify list (he is my son, after all!), play video games and make stop-motion movies, and wield his sword during battles in the yard with his brothers.

I'd say this is a good age for my boy.  One foot in little-boy, the other in teenager.  He's able to be mature one minute and silly the next.  I am anxious to see the young man of whom we are getting glimpses begin to emerge over the coming years!

"Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood, 
we find the delightful creature of a boy"

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Epic Western Adventure, Part Two

A few more highlights of our trip out west, if you are so inclined to read about them.  If not, grab a pint of ice cream or a glass of wine and watch TV.  I won't be offended.

  • We made a rare appearance in a hotel on the way out and the way back.  On the way there, we were able to take advantage of a discount we discovered, which enabled us to have two rooms for a total of $50!  If you know me at all, you know how very euphoric I was.  
  • Perhaps because our family is giant and loud, or perhaps because we just look unbelievably approachable (you know which one is more likely here), we tend to meet people everywhere we go, and this vacation was no different.  We made several new friends, and even discovered that two of the families live only a couple hours away!  Camping tends to make every chatty, and we really enjoyed getting to know (and in some cases, become Facebook friends) so many great people!
  • We hit Wall Drug while en route.  It's possible you've seen one of the many signs across the country for this giant complex. It is an institution, and we had to stop.  The couple who founded the store in the 30s had an inspiring story.  We had a pleasant two hours there and I enjoyed one of my last fountain cokes (little did I know we were embarking on a fountain-coke wasteland).
  • In Custer State Park we camped next to The Silent Family.  They had two kids and I never heard a PEEP from their campsite.  As you can imagine, we made up for their silence in spades.  We are the absolute antitheses of The Silent Family.  We are The Incredibly, Painfully Loud Family.  What can I say?  The truth hurts.
  • We had little to no data on our phones most of the time, so I had to use a map.  Yes, a map.  I had to juggle the bendy, foldy pages in my lap and try to figure out what all the swirly lines meant.  They made my head swim!  Worst of all, I had to determine where we were, without a blue dot bobbing along.  As you can imagine, it was a challenge.  I recall doing this very thing only a few years ago, but somehow I have lost my touch, if I ever had one.  Feel free to pity me (If you think I'm a big baby, don't tell me.  Judge me to yourself).
  • In Yellowstone, I had issues with Old Faithful.  Once I called it Old Yeller, and another time I called it Old Geyser.  Regardless, we got to see it, and it was pretty incredible!  My newly-minted-8-year-old enjoyed singing "We all live in a Yellowstone Submarine" while we were there, and also renaming areas of the park.  We were staying in the West Thumb area of Yellowstone, causing my funny guy to ask daily if we would be traveling to the East Pinkie of Yellowstone.  Sadly, the East Pinkie remained elusive.
  • The evening lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore was incredibly moving.  At the end of a video, they asked all the service men/women present to come to the front of the amphitheater.  Our eyes were bright as we all clapped fervently for their service to our country.  One of my children was not overly impressed with giant mountain carvings, however.  "This is not really as big as I thought it would be."  Apparently many of the children had watched a Phineas and Ferb episode about Mt. Rushmore and were basing their expectations on that.  Oy.
It was a great trip, full of memories, mosquito bites, souvenirs (a certain white-headed-wonder wanted to hit every general store we saw) and God's wonders beheld.  Now back to real life! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Epic Western Adventure, Part One

By the numbers, details of our trip west:

4    State/National Parks visited (Badlands, Custer, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons)

7    states visited or passed through

50+  times I wiped my little one's rear end, who was plagued with poopy problems the day we left and following

4   hand signals my poopy-plagued-daughter invented to tell me when she was done on the toilet.  Every time.

4376.4  miles driven on the trip

6  number of those miles driven by yours truly

48  degrees (with rain) upon entry of Yellowstone at 7:30 p.m.

50  miles from Yellowstone entrance to our campground

58  degrees (without rain) by the time we arrived at our campsite an hour later.  Hallelujah!

32  predicted degrees one night at Yellowstone, where we were camping without electricity (thankfully it did not get down that low and the snow the children were certain would occur did not materialize)

6  miles we covered to reach Inspiration Point high above Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons (I joked that my husband and I would have to smooch up there, but no one got it)

1427  wild animals we saw (estimate), including coyotes, bears, bison, snakes, elk, deer, wild horses, pronghorns, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and two pet piglets from California

0  fountain Cokes consumed by this girl while in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons (causing me deep sadness and possibly withdrawal symptoms)

10+  fountain Pepsi machines sighted (causing me a deep bitterness toward Pepsi and the west in general)

18+ times we packed all the food and scented items (basically everything except chairs) into the Suburban at Yellowstone and Grand Tetons due to the high bear population (camping is a lot of work already, and this added to it quite a bit!  Thankfully we only saw bears when safely ensconced in the burb)

And countless memories made, beautiful sights seen,  and experiences shared (and also countless hours in the car!)

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name

I finally know what I want to be when I grow up, take two.

A paint/nail polish color- and hand soap/lotion/candle scent-namer.

Is that a thing?

It has to be.  Someone has to be shut up in a cubicle somewhere churning out winners like these:

Drab (nothing says 'homey retreat' like drab)
Almond Toast (I'm pretty sure my entire downstairs is some version of this color)
Insect Wing (ew!)
Frog Belly 
Mistletoe Kiss (stolen kisses have a color?  who knew?)
Arsenic (who wouldn't want walls reminiscent of poison?)
Jessie  (??? The gal in the cubicle finally got to name one after herself?)
Scarlett O'Hara (well fiddle-dee-dee)
Popcorn, Biscuit, Candy Box (I think Jessie was getting hungry now)

And nail polish colors!  I think the gal naming these must be sunning herself on the beach, drinking, with a tall handsome man nearby. . .

Show me the ring
Guilty Pleasures
Jamaica me Crazy (I say this all the time to the children - true story)
Fish-net Stockings
Mojito Madness
Smooth Sailing
Lady Godiva (this one just makes me want chocolate)

And several I can't even mention, since children read this blog!  I rarely wear nail polish - I had no idea how how much the "sex sells" campaign was at work in this industry!

And finally my personal favorites, soap/lotion/candle scents.  The gal naming these, I envision, must be sipping fruity wines amidst a floral garden whilst baking snickerdoodles.

Mango Madarin  (mmmm)
Lavendar Camomille
Wild Passionflower (can't ya just smell it?)
Brown Sugar and Fig
Frosted Cupcake (what the gal is baking next)
Citrus Sunshine
Sundrenched Vineyard (the "office" for the gal writing these)
Pear Blossom Air

Now these names make me happy.  They're pretty creative, but they elicit warm fuzzies, and also make me hungry.  

So!  Who wants to hire me?  I am certain I can come up with names just as good as the ones above.  Let me try a few:

Totes Adorbs Teal

Glowing Halo 
Church-pew-brown (I'll try to clean up the nail-polish-naming industry)

Lilac Loveliness
Citrus Simplicity

Yes!!  I think they're awesome!!  I'm sure I'm a shoo-in.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Why I Often Have a Headache

I recently read a little blurb about how many questions young children ask per day.  Any guesses?  Here is the shocking (or maybe not-so-shocking!) answer:

About 300!!

Does that make your head swim?  When I first read it, I thought, "No way!"  But then I did a little five minute count and realized it might be right after all.  The study went on to say that four-year-old girls top the charts at almost 400 questions per day.

Know what?  I have a four-year-old girl.  And I think this study has credence.

Just now, as I am typing this, my sweet four-year-old girl came by and fired off these:

"Can I ride my bike?"
"Are these shoes on the right feet?"
"Can you imagine if I walked all the way to the Y?"
"Can you take me to ride my bike?" (asked of her brother)
Repeat above question
"When you're done mowing can you take me?" (asked of bro again)

That's seven.  In about a one-minute time frame.  She may exceed the average.  I always knew she was above par.

The other day we were driving in the car and she was chatting away and asking questions about her birth (but nothing too stressful!).  I told her she was born via C-section and briefly how that worked.  She followed up with, "Did they use a sewing machine when they sewed you up, Mommy?"

And the last question I'll share with you today from this adorable white-haired over-achiever:  "Mommy?  Doesn't your mouth ever get tired of talking?  Mine does!"