Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Wolf (cont.)




























































Monday morning we took the kids down to the water park pretty early and played for a couple of hours. Of course, Haven refused to get wet, but I did try to take her into the toddler area and engage her there. I went down several slides with Haddon, Hannah, and Addy. I think their favorite was the big yellow one because you could go down on a 3 seater tube. Mid-morning, the big girls and I left the others and went upstairs to get ready to hit the mall! Due to a miscommunication, we found out about half an hour later that our mall trip had been postponed for a few hours. SO, back to the water park we went! This time I finally remembered to bring my camera and spent the next two hours alternately riding slides and trying to keep my camera dry while taking pictures.

The whole time at the water park, Avery insisted on playing in the toddler area. She enjoyed the little slides and fountains and was too scared to try the bigger kid area. Jason tried to talk her into it and even got her up to the top of one of the slides, but she chickened out and they ended up climbing back down again instead of sliding down. Jason and I decided that she needed to be pushed a little bit. We just knew she'd love the bigger slides if she'd only give them a try! So we came up with a plan: I would take her up to the top of the slide and Jason would wait at the bottom to "catch" her. I never gave her a chance to back out, just kept hurrying her up the play structure to the slides. As soon as we reached the line (the very short line), she started shaking her head and her face was a mask of fear. Because I am super mom, I ignored her and jabbered on about how fun water slides are. After only a minute or two, she was up! She looked up at me with stark terror on her trusting little face and said, "I don't want to!" I looked down into those beautiful, weepy blue eyes and scooped her up and physically sat her on the slide. Then (mother of the year that I am), as soon as the lifeguard blew his whistle, I shoved her down the slide...but first I had to peal her little fingers off the top of the tube. I watched expectantly for her to come around the curve where I could see her and I fully expected her to be screaming like a banshee when she appeared. Nope! She came around the curve sitting up and smiling hugely. VICTORY! I slid down to meet her and she threw her arms around me and declared, "I did it, Mom!" After that, she didn't want to do anything but that slide...but only THAT one. I guess I should've taken her up and pushed her down the other one so she could enjoy it, too!

Megan, LaNora, Hannah, Addy, and I had an interesting time trying to even get out of the hotel...I ended up running three flights of stairs to the room three times looking for Addy, then making sure Haddon made it safely to the room, then finding Addy all over again. I was slightly out of breath, but not too tired for shopping! The five of us hit Legends shopping center and had a great time. There were tons of sales and though the stores were busy, they weren't packed as I'd thought they might be. Sometimes we shopped together and sometimes we all went our separate ways but stayed in touch via cell phone. I spent some of my Christmas money on two tops, a pair of rain boots that I'd fallen in love with, and a pair of magnetic earrings that Hannah and I attached to our noses to get a rise out of Jason. He didn't fall for our fake nose rings, though. As soon as he saw Hannah's he knew they were fake...notice he didn't put it past me, just our teenage daughter!

Monday night (our final night at the Wolf) was our family's night to entertain. A little bit of history before I share the events of our evening. I am a planner. I get an idea, create a plan, and stick to the plan even if it kills me. Jason, on the other hand, wants to explore all options and keep them open until deciding (usually at the last possible moment) what he wants to do. So.....even though it drove me crazy, he wouldn't decide what our entertainment was going to be. Instead, he chose a few possibilities and printed out mapquest maps to all of them. Monday afternoon, he handed down the decision that we would go to Rainforest Cafe and called for reservations. Then he (painstakingly) hand copied his mapquest directions so that each vehicle would have their own set of directions. We all descended on the lobby for a group photo that took just a little longer than anticipated to capture, before climbing into our perspective vehicles. I had the task of entering the address into Lola (our Garmin GPS). Even though we were leaving just a little behind schedule, we'd still make it for our reservations. However, when we had supposedly arrived at our destination, there was no mall OR Rainforest Cafe in sight. Jason realized that he must've copied the wrong address and directions for everyone because we were in the parking lot of his second choice. We had a brief meeting of the minds and decided to go ahead and stay there since Mylee was getting really worked up in her car seat. I was already annoyed when we walked inside and the interior did nothing to improve my mood. It was dark and filled with video games...not kid video games, the adult kind with lots of violence and half naked women. I was so embarrassed! Jeremy and Aaron had taken our whole family out to nice restaurants and here we were at an adult Chuck E. Cheese for our night! Still hopeful, J walked up to the counter and got the details. Unfortunately, all they had to eat were things like nachos and pizza by the slice. Only the two big girls and the adults were tall enough to race on the track (obviously the main attraction) and the track was about the same temp as outside...around freezing. We all piled back into cars, searched for Rainforest Cafe on our Garmins, and headed out. I was just so relieved that we weren't staying at that place!!! Poor Jason felt awful about the whole thing, but it could've happened to anyone and in only a few minutes we were at the Rainforest Cafe who had graciously held our reservation. The food was good, the kids and adults enjoyed the atmosphere, and we had a great time.

I really hope we do this again for Christmas. I highly recommend the Great Wolf Lodge, but the main thing was spending time together and building memories. It was a great trip!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Wolf

For Christmas this year, Grandma & Papa wanted to do something different than gifts. Instead, they took their sons (and their sons' families) to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. What a great trip we had! The lodge has a rustic theme and is centered around families. It even has an indoor water park! Check it out: http://www.greatwolf.com/kansascity/activities/waterpark Their idea for our gifts to them and each other was for each brother and his wife to plan the entertainment for one evening of the trip.

We arrived Saturday afternoon after a LONG 7 hour car trip. We actually only stopped once and it may have worked to our advantage that Haven was sick and dehydrated since she didn't feel much like moving around! Although we had looked up the lodge on the internet, I was blown away when we got inside of our room. We had two queen sized beds and a fold out couch downstairs and another queen sized bed in the loft room. We also had a kitchenette, bath and a half, and our own fully functional gas fireplace. Here's the floor plan: http://www.greatwolf.com/node/857 Here are a couple of pictures and a description...we had the Loft Fireplace Suite: http://www.greatwolf.com/kansascity/suites/suites
After settling in to the room, we went down to look at the water park. It was amazing! It was so hot in there...felt like a sauna. Haven and I were fully clothed, but she played in the water anyway. There were big slides, swimming pools, hot tubs, jungle gyms, kiddie slides, and a huge toddler area. Jason and the other kids put their suits on and tried everything out right away.

After an hour or so playing at the water park, it was time for our first evening of fun which was hosted by Brooke and Jeremy. They took us to the T-Rex Cafe. http://www.kansastravel.org/trexcafe.htm
I'll be honest. I knew the kids would have fun, but I didn't really expect it to be such a fun time for the adults! First we took the kids in to the dig area where they could dig for dinosaur bones, explore gem mines, play interactive games on the computer, or pan for minerals. We tried it all! After a good hand washing, it was time for supper. The food was really good and the atmosphere was great. There were giant prehistoric insects on the walls that moved, animatronic dinosaurs, and meteor showers. The dinosaurs behind our table came to life and made mooing sounds every so often. Haven loved them. When they came to life, she stopped whatever she was doing and mooed back at them! It was a dining adventure. When we got back to the hotel, it was story time in the lobby and there was a whole Christmas show going on. It even "snowed" foam from the ceiling! Afterward the kids went to a dance party where Marren, Haven, Avery, and Max got down with about 50 other kids, Wiley Wolf, and Rowdy Reindeer. It was hilarious!

One of the really fun things about the lodge is how family friendly it is. There are adults and kids in jammies walking around the lobby and through the halls every morning and every evening. Haven made friends with several kids and their parents. It was so unlike her, but she'd walk right up to people and start jabbering at them or lift her little arms up for them to hold her. I think we all just felt really comfortable in that atmosphere.

The next day we hit the water park bright and early, then it was time to bundle up for the Chiefs game! Rick had gotten tickets for himself, Jeremy, Aaron, Jason, Hannah, Addy, Haddon, and me. So, even though the high on Sunday was 16 degrees, we bundled up and headed to Arrowhead Stadium. Getting inside was the coldest part and I started to have my doubts. Being a bit of a hot-house-flower, I do not manage cold well! Once we got to our seats, the temperature was much better, though. The sun was shining right on us and the wind was totally blocked. The kids and I stayed until just after half-time, then we decided to leave since we were all numb and it was getting colder. Those brave men stayed for the whole game! Miraculously, I found the van without any trouble other than the cutting wind.

I took the kids on a short detour to our old neighborhood and even took them down to our seminary apartment and laundry room. I drove around to the back of the apartment building and pointed out Hannah and Addy's bedroom window to them. It was fun to show the girls the park I took them to nearly every day and where Dad worked. I showed them our favorite shopping and eating places when we left campus. Of course, the kids hit the water park just as soon as we returned to the hotel. I spent quite a bit of time holding Haven. Since I never leave her and she was still feeling bad, it had been a bit of a traumatic day for my little muffin! After a little cuddling, I took her down to the water, too. Even though Haven didn't want ANYTHING to do with the water, she enjoyed the exploring and people watching.

There is so much more to write about our tirp, but I think I'm going to have to save the second half of our trip for another post! That'll give me some time to download some pics, too...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Note to Self:

* In the winter, let the tanning bed warm up before you lay on it naked.
* ALWAYS open the garage door before backing out.
* It does no good to WRITE the letter if you're not going to MAIL the letter.
* Good job getting everyone else bundled up...now go get your coat on.
* If you run out of dishwasher detergent, using even a little bit of regular dish soap could create a bubble tsunami in your kitchen.
* There isn't time to do it tomorrow morning, so do it now.
* Do not schedule a board meeting for the same morning you have put yourself on the schedule to cook lunch for the whole school.
* Next year, divide the tree lights in half and plug them into two different outlets.
* Those photo gifts seem like a good idea...until you actually begin to round up photos for them.
* Somebody will ALWAYS notice if you send home a letter with a type-o.
*The person who notices the type-o will always be sure that you know that they know how incompetent you are.
* Kids who run around in the yard barefooted WILL step in dog poo and/or cut their foot.
* If you forget an extra outfit in the diaper bag, the baby will poop all over whatever they are wearing and end up clad in only a diaper.
*There's no point in dragging a diaper bag around if there are no diapers in it!
*If it has batteries, they will go dead on your trip.

Add your own!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bah, Humblog!



So, the thing about Christmas is that it's so much darn WORK! It took me a full week to get all of my outside lights up (mainly because I'm apparently related to the Griswold's). For s0me reason, many of the working lights that we pack up each January seem to have failed by the following December. Consequently, I spend hours plugging in strands of lights and separating them into 3 piles: working, not working, some working. Then I sort through the some working and see if I can get them working. This pile is then divided accordingly between the working pile and the not working pile with the vast majority being tossed into the latter. The not working pile I don't even mess with, it goes directly into the trash (well, okay, it actually sits in the yard for a day or two, then goes into the trash, but you get the idea) after I have scavenged it for bulbs and shingle clips (but only if they are the kind of shingle clips that I like...more on that later). These items fill my pockets and then I begin. This year I attacked the bushes first. Haven played outside in the 70 degree weather as I piled as many lights on our front landscaping as our feeble breakers will support. It's sometimes a challenge to get the cordage figured out and keep from stringing so many together that they blow a fuse. Also, I really need a cherry picker to get the job done properly because a) I cannot reach the top of our tree and b) our roof has an extremely sharp pitch. After two days of wrestling with bushes, digging rocks and dirt out of Haven's mouth, and grumbling about the strings of lights that decided to quit working only when they were carefully put into place, I was done! Since the following day was extremely windy, I decided to set up the tree inside and avoid the wind.
Our artificial tree was a gift from a family friend. It is a huge, 7 foot tree with a gigantic circumference. Since, as you may have picked up on, I am a lighting freak, it takes ten strings of lights to adequately light our magnificent tree. I light as I go, stringing the lights through the branches as I add each level to the base. This way I can light all the way from back to front whilst minimizing my scratches. Eventually I have to get out the step ladder to finish the tree (since I'm only 5'4"). I was on the step ladder adding the last string of lights when I felt something touch my leg. I looked down to find Haven standing on the rung below me, thus blocking my retreat down the ladder and simultaneously making it impossible for me to rescue her. I called for help and my wonderful husband came running in, then dashed back out and returned momentarily with the camera. He rescued Haven and I after snapping a picture. A few moments later I plucked Haven from the top step of the ladder where she stood dancing and waving her little hands in the face of severe injury or death. Next we let the kids decorate the tree. Everyone hangs their own ornaments, then we fill in with the one's that just belong to the whole family. Haven loved hanging her snow globe that she chose at WalMart. We had a wonderful time and the tree looked beautiful, dripping with ornaments and lights...until we added the tree top angel. At that point, quite suddenly, the entire tree went dark. I knew just what had happened, I had too many lights strung together and had blown a fuse. That's an easy fix, except that after replacing the fuse I'd have to separate the lights between two plug ins or the same thing would happen again. No problem, right? If all the lights are plugged in end to end then one should be able to unplug anywhere on the tree and simply move that male end to the outlet. Right? WRONG! For some reason, we could not get the top half of the tree to light and it was already loaded with ornaments. After throwing a temper-tantrum that would've impressed a two year old, I retraced each string of lights until I found the start of the dark ones made some adjustments and voila....a few more lights came on, but still not the whole tree. And there it sits today!
Last night I finally got on the roof to finish my outside lighting. With my pockets loaded to the brim with supplies, I outlined the lower level of our roof (as you recall, part of our roof is too steep to climb on, so it remains unlit every year, severely taxing my Christmas spirit). Finally, it was time to plug in! The same phenomenon occurs every year, but it never fails to irritate me...about a third of the bulbs that were working when they were tested on good old terra firma have magically pooped out now that they are attached to the roof. Maybe they are afraid of heights? I spend more time systematically replacing each bulb with a replacement of the proper color from the stash in my pockets than I do getting the lights up in the first place. But, I love it when it's done (except that I REALLY want to outline the dormer windows that can't be reached). For the remainder of the season I will climb on the roof a couple of times a week to replace the dead bulbs.
I realize that this post only covers the decorating of the season. I can't even begin to complain about the gift shopping, Christmas card sending, and most of all...the post office. No wonder it's so hard to remember that Christmas isn't about the gifts and parties and lights and trees. It isn't even about giving instead of receiving as so many made-for-television movies would like us to believe. No, Christmas is about God coming to earth in the form of a tiny baby to live a sinless life, die on a cross, rise again, and be the Savior of the world.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Apnea Monitors & Other Things

We arrived in Scott City Wednesday evening to enjoy Thanksgiving with Jason's family (who are my family as well, of course). The first night was a bit rough as we all stayed up too late talking and then Haven not only coughed and hacked all night, but also had two bradycardia alarms and one wakeful period which I utilized to give her an extra breathing treatment. I got to sleep in the next morning...gotta love grandma's house. But, before nine o'clock, Haven's apnea monitor quit working. It wouldn't register her heart rate or respirations and then alarmed "disconnect." We have frequent disconnect alarms, so I checked everything, making sure all was connected properly, and tried again. Same scenario.
We have had frequent issues with the patient cable of our monitor. A patient cable seems to last anywhere from three weeks to three months, then goes "bad." When a patient cable goes bad it registers as a disconnect. Although we had just put a new cable on a few days ago, I was sure that's what it was. Unfortunately, we were out of state AND it was Thanksgiving day.
I called the local hospital first. I thought maybe they had a patient cable I could bum off of them. Nope, of course they didn't. Silly me! Their respiratory therapist said that it was the obligation of our medical supply provider to either get us another one or work it out with a local company to get us one. Obviously he's never tried to deal with our medical supply provider! I called them next, just to get it over with, even though I knew they'd prove to be a dead end. I ended up having to call 3 different numbers before I got someone who knew who to call. She said that she would call the specialist on call, then called me right back and told me that the specialist was in the bathtub and that I should call her in ten minutes. After she gave me that number, we hung up. Next, I called my sister -in-law who is a nurse in Topeka, KS and gave her my sob story. She checked with the respiratory therapist at her hospital who recommended a couple of companies and told us that our doc would have to call in orders if we went with a new company.
My next call was to doc to see what he thought. I was hoping maybe he'd say that it was no big deal for her to go without a monitor for a few days since Haven hardly ever has actual apnea episodes any more. No dice. He did think it was a big deal and told us that if we got information for him he'd call in orders.
Since I'd given the on-call chick plenty of time to finish up her bath, I went ahead and gave her a call. Of course, her phone was turned off and went right to voice mail. Unfortunately, her voice mailbox was full and she couldn't accept any messages. By this point I was so mad I was near tears. I KNOW it's Thanksgiving. I wish our crappy, 17 year old monitor was still functioning, but since it WASN'T, I needed help and just wasn't getting any. I called again and got her the second time. She said she didn't think there was anything she could do, but she'd call her boss. Addy sat next to Haven's crib while she took her morning nap and watched her breathe.
Mr. Boss man called me and was very nice, if not very helpful. He explained to me that I should have brought extra everything with me because nothing was going to be open on Thanksgiving and their couriers only traveled in state. Obviously I am an idiot. What was I thinking, assuming that the brand new, three day old cord would last through the extended weekend? His hands were tied, he explained, but they'd get me a new cord on Monday. Oh, I understand, it's not YOUR problem if my baby stops breathing! I know it's Thanksgiving, people, and I hate to interrupt your holiday, but I'd really like my baby to live through it! And, by the way, don't bother to send us anything, because as soon as we get home we'll be transferring to another home health company, thank you very much!
Next, I called the hospital in a nearby town and discussed my problem with the respiratory therapist there. He said he needed to make a few phone calls and would call me back. It only took him about ten minutes to call back with the bad news...our insurance company would not pay for both monitors even though one was faulty (rental is @ $10.00 a day). He'd left a message with his superior to see if they could loan us one gratis. The next phone call was the one we'd been waiting for! The mother of one of my high school friends happened to be the superior he'd called and she was willing to lend us a monitor free of charge as long as we'd send it back Monday.
WHEW!!! Within two hours she was at the house, helping us hook Haven up to another monitor! God is so good...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving this year was just as Thanksgiving should be. Driving in the car for hours with a cranky baby, getting to bed WAY later than we should've, nobody sleeping well away from home, apnea monitor mishap causing me to spend the better part of the morning on the phone with home health equipment companies in three states, family converging on Grandma's house, laughing 'til we cried, eating 'til we couldn't move, cleaning it all up just in time to reheat for supper, kids falling asleep on the floor, coffee and chat. All is right in the world.
And, yet, how much time did I really spend being thankful to God for all He has given me? The new van that we drove here in, the cranky baby who we are so blessed to have, family to keep us up visiting, beds to sleep in even though we are away from home, having an apnea monitor to use gratis until we can get home, family, laughter, food, fun, fellowship. So much that cannot even be mentioned since I owe him every breath I take.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Drifter

About 8 months ago, Peggy VanDorn gave Haddon a new creepy, crawly pet (which are his favorite kind). It was a dusty, half-dead salamander in a cup. Haddon carefully cleaned him off and put him in a little plastic habitat that was formerly used to house hermit crabs. In the following weeks, Haddon learned everything he could about his salamander from books and the internet. He named his barred tiger salamander (I'm not kidding, that kid did his research) "Drifter," which I thought was a pretty good salamander name. He learned that Drifter was not aquatic (oops) and bought him a fish tank, wood chips, and an artificial log at the pet store so that he could have a bigger and more natural environment. He dug worms to feed Drifter and supplemented them with vitamin covered flies (also from the pet store).
Haddon is a very good creepy, crawly pet owner. He loves all things slimy. He took very good care of Drifter. He was absolutely devastated tonight to find that Drifter had passed away sometime this evening. Poor Haddon cried and cried. He loved that salamander. He laid in his bed and cried until 10:30 which is when I usually let Snickers in for bed. He finally fell asleep with his little arm around his dog.
It still surprises me sometimes how tender hearted my all-boy son is. How do you fall so in love with a pet that you can't even cuddle with? But, he did. And I know he will miss Drifter. I'll miss Drifter, too! Imagine a pet that doesn't make a mess, is absolutely silent and odorless, and can be completely cared for by an 8 year old boy...pretty darn near perfect as far as pets go. Sure, he wasn't cute and cuddly, but Drifter never once tipped over the trash can, pulled undies out of the hamper to chew on, or pooped on my floor. I asked Haddon if he'd want another salamander, but he says he thinks he'd like a frog now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twi-LITE

My big girls and I attended the 12:01 showing of Twilight last night. We stood in line for 20 minutes, shivering, waiting for advance ticket holders to be let in. The mood in line was absolutely giddy! We sat in the theater munching on popcorn, discussing the Twilight series, and being threatened repeatedly about cell phone usage during the film. Finally, the previews began 45 minutes after we arrived.
You know, MTV didn't have to make a great movie for Twilight fans to be happy, they only had to make a mediocre film...unfortunately, they made a truly awful movie! The acting was so sub-par that we often found ourselves laughing during critical, supposedly intense scenes. Many of the lines were so canned as to be almost unbelievably bad. My favorite character was Jasper...he didn't say two words the whole movie!
The special effects were ridiculously bad as well. At one point, Edward is running through the forest with Bella on his back and we can see that though his legs are peddling furiously, his feet aren't actually touching the ground. The vampires are supposed to have luminescent skin that has a prismatic effect in direct sunlight. But when Edward showed Bella this phenomenon, it looked as if a make up person simply sprayed him with glitter spray.
The fight scenes were silly. When the coven of vampires assumes their fighting stance, they actually swayed back and forth like ghouls or something. It was embarrassing to watch. I was also appalled by the scene of Carlisle biting Edward's neck...I'd rather not comment further, that's how awful it was. But, possibly, the worst scene was Edward sucking the venom out of Bella's arm. He looked as if he was sucking a REALLY thick milk shake out of a straw and experiencing brain freeze at the same time.
The atmosphere leaving the theater was quite different than it had been when we entered. People were laughing as they recalled the worst parts of the movie and mimicking the badly delivered lines. Keep in mind that the audience wasn't full of film critics, but (mostly teenage) Twilight fans who LOVE the books. My advice? Skip the movie, but read the books!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dancing Queen


Hannah and I (and Susie & Arin, too) spent the weekend in Albuquerque at the Dance Masters of America Chapter 35 regional dance competition. We had an amazing time...I can't remember the last time I laughed so much! I am thankful that Hannah has such good friends who are genuinely good girls. All three were a delight to be with.
Hannah has been saying that she wanted to be a ballerina since she was two years old. She started dance lessons in kindergarten, a Christmas gift from Grammy(the gift that keeps on giving). We attended her first dance competition when she was 7 years old. I remember so distinctly watching Hannah dance on stage at that first DMA competition and being so proud and frightened I could cry. She looked terrified, but she did it!
Through years of competitions, I sat nervously and watched her perform, knowing that as much as she loves to dance, doing it in front of people is really difficult for her. After the little girls went, we would watch in awe as the big girls leaped and spun knitting technique and emotion into a work of art. Hannah has always longed to be better than she was. She's wished we lived in an area where she could attend a real dance school where she could devote hours and hours a week to dance. She's cursed her genetics and cried with jealousy over girls with so much natural talent and without a good work ethic. She has danced through aches and pains, sprains, blisters that would make grown men cry. She has danced instead of playing soccer, basketball, or even hanging out with friends. She has worked hard and been so hard on herself that it has made both of us cry. She's been so frustrated that she's wanted to quit, but couldn't give up on her desire to be a dancer.
As I watched Hannah this weekend, I overheard some little girls and their moms oohing and aahing over her dance. It suddenly hit me that now MY daughter was the big girl that was amazing the audience. I watched her through new eyes at that point. Instead of nerves, I was filled with joy, pride, and amazement...not exactly sure when this transformation took place. She has become an artist on the stage. Instead of fear, her face portrays the emotions of the music as her body twists and spins and stretches and flies. Though she doesn't realize it and is still her own harshest critic, my little girl has grown into a ballerina.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Putting Other Churches to Shame




Our church LOVES their pastor! Lucky for me, their pastor also happens to be my husband! We have been at Lincoln Avenue for 11 1/2 years...which in preacher years is like 50 or something. The average length of time that pastors stay in a church is right around 3 years. So, as you can see, we are ANCIENT for church leadership. Let me not be mistaken, this longevity is due to our church's distinct, unique personality and not due to any attribute of Jason. Jason is only the second pastor that LABC has ever had! Their previous pastor also stayed for many years.
Lincoln takes such good care of us. The people feel like family and I think they see us as family, too. In the 11 1/2 years that Jason has led this flock, no one has ever come gunning for him. Unfortunately, that is an anomaly in Christian churches. Lincoln Avenue is special.
Last night our wonderful church surprised us with a pastor appreciation gift. Surprised is probably an understatement...they astounded us with their gift. The church gave us a van! They knew our current van was limping along. We were going to try to find a replacement by May. Our gracious church family found one for us!
I don't know what most churches do for their pastors for pastor appreciation, but I have no doubt that LABC is unparallelled in that area! I know too many pastors whose churches don't even acknowledge pastor appreciation month.
We took our van out for a little spin last night and Haddon said, "God is so good to us." He's right. Praise God for leading us to Lincoln and letting Jason pastor such a wonderful flock. If you didn't let your pastor know that you appreciated him last month, it's not too late. Send him a card, give him a call, take him to lunch...be an instrument of God's blessing in his life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hurricane Haven

Haven was a virtual hurricane yesterday as she played around the school. She left a trail of destruction in her wake. After leaving a box of rubber bands (500 rubber bands, no less) strewn about my office floor, she moved on to the supply cabinet just outside of my office door. Once she cleared it of manila folders, she made her way to the shelving down the hall. There she opened a box of spiral binding spines and took them out one by one. She busied herself whacking each one on the shelf, the wall, the floor, and her head before discarding it and moving onto the next. It took her nearly half an hour to get through the box (there were 100), but then she was on to the classrooms. She joined the kindergarten first where she found the kids doing "stations" and helped Jakob and Avery build with blocks. Actually, I'm pretty sure she just did demolition, but they didn't complain. After that, she moved on into Mrs. Waddel's classroom. I'm not sure what she did in there, but I hope Haddon cleaned up after her! Next she crossed the hall and roamed back my direction, but got distracted by the preschoolers doing their thing. She joined their class for a while until Mrs. C discovered that she was actually eating the freshly glued glitter off of their art projects and put them up. (Yep, she had sparkly poop last night!) Not to be discouraged from her reign of destruction, Haven moved on to the teacher's lounge where she proceeded to unload the arts and crafts supplies. Finally, she wore herself out and called, "Momma! Momma!" She almost dove for her crib and slept for 2 1/2 hours.
Where was I during all of this? Mostly in my office, but also making frequent trips to ascertain the extent of damage she was causing and monitor her safety. It was the first time in two weeks that she actually played! I was so happy to follow her path of debris and clean it up...what a small price to pay for having a healthy, happy, active baby!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ode to Coffee

Mmmmmmm....coffee! Is there a better way to start the day? I love almost everything about coffee. The warmth, the smell, the taste, the caffeine (caffeine is our friend). Ahhh! Just a moment, I need to add to my cup! Coffee has been around for centuries and actually originated in Ethiopia. Coffee has played a major role in many cultures, both ancient and modern. It has been used in religious ceremonies, associated with political rebellion, the basis of economies, and the foundation of social circles.
There is a modern "coffee culture" in our nation. There are coffee snobs who will only drink certain brands of coffee or coffee prepared in certain ways. Coffee shops can be found popping up even in small towns and certain brands of coffee are nationally recognized! New ways of brewing coffee are being invented as we speak. The current trend in coffee equipment is single cup brewing so that one can always enjoy a freshly brewed cup.
I am NOT a coffee snob. I'll drink it hot, cold, iced, blended, naked, creamered, decaff, half-caff, full caff, from a mug, in a styrofoam cup, you name it! I crave it. I have a 6 cup a day habit (on an average day). It's my drug of choice and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm an addict.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

multi-blog

It's not that I don't have the time to blog, lately, it's just that I can't think of anything interesting to say! You can imagine with five children and a husband in the ministry things are pretty dull at my house (read with sarcasm). So, here are a few snippets of my past week or two...

*Avery is a political junkie at 5. She loves to talk politics and is pretty well informed even though she doesn't grasp many of the ins and outs of our political system (then again, neither do many voting age adults). This week she has been encouraging nearly everyone we meet to vote for McCain and not Obama because, "Obama thinks it's okay to kill babies and he went to that church where his pastor didn't even LIKE America!" I'm not sure if I'm sad or proud that she understands so much.
*I was getting Haven ready for a bath last night and she was pretty crabby and tired (we are still adjusting to the time change at our house). I decided to strip her down before running the water because she often gets invigorated just by being naked and I thought she might play for a bit while I prepped everything. She did. Unfortunately, she also pooped and peed on the living room floor!
*Haddon went to help Papa with milo harvest for a couple of days. He LOVES being with the men and doing manly tasks. He came home just full of confidence and oozing responsibility. My little boy is growing up pretty darn fast!
*I am getting REALLY tired of step aerobics. Maybe it's laziness...I just don't wanna go! When Haven gets over this sinus infection and starts sleeping well again, I think I'm just going to start getting up and running again. Better to torture myself in private without people woo-hooing and claiming they're having great fun???
*I've had a lot of STUFF to deal with at school. STUFF I never really thought I'd have to deal with here. It's probably my fault for admitting students who were questionable...but I always want to help! It's a fine line...trying to minister to kids who have problems while also trying to keep a great atmosphere at the school.
See, this is why I need to blog more often...it just PILES up!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haven Esther is One!
















Today was Haven's first birthday! Though I never doubted Haven would make it to this milestone, I never thought she'd be dragging the monitor here!










Haven woke up at 2:00 a.m. with a bad cough and 102 degree fever...happy birthday! At 7:30, when she woke up for the day, she was treated to the traditional Dirks birthday pancake. You can tell from her pictures how yucky she was feeling. A little syrup cheered her right up, though!










We had about 20 kids and adults (mostly adults) over for a lunch time celebration. Haven stuffed herself full of mashed potatoes and green beans and thoroughly enjoyed being the center of attention. After lunch we served her her very own GIANT cupcake. She wasn't to sure until the candles were blown out, then she dug right in. She loved mushing the frosting and eating it by the handful. We couldn't believe how much of her cake she actually ate! Finally, Daddy took her out of her highchair and rinsed her off in the sink.










She was intrigued by all of the presents, but quickly lost interest in the opening and wanted to move on to the playing! Avery helped get them all open and Haddon showed her everything. Haven sat on the livingroom floor for over an hour enjoying all of her new stuff...and the wrapping paper fragments!





Sunday, October 26, 2008

Princess Pretty Pictures

Update: Jim was absolutely correct (as he would probably tell you that he is most of the time)...he got some really good pictures of Haven. He even got some AMAZING pictures of Haven. I'm telling you, I don't know how he does it! That guy must have amazing reflexes. He managed to catch all of her split second smiles from that grumpy sitting. Of course, the fact that Haven is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen probably helps Jim with his job some. But, as you may recall from the "Princess Poopy Pictures" blog, she was not the most cooperative little tyke at her session!
As it always is, it was really difficult to choose from so many beautiful pictures, but with Raynell's help I managed to get all the pictures I needed in my favorite poses. She doesn't have to talk customers into buying pictures (the pictures sell themselves), but she's very good at helping us narrow down and choose our favorite poses then decide what we want of each pose. Perhaps she's most gifted at putting together compilations, though. They always turn out to be even more amazing than I'd expected.
I feel sad that Hannah and Addy's early pictures are all from places like Walmart and Sears. We got some good pictures from those places (of course, this is mainly attributed to the fact that Jason and I produce uncommonly beautiful children), but they are no comparison to James pictures. Even Haddon had some pics taken elsewhere. We were familiar with James Photographics by the time he came along, but we honestly didn't think we could afford something of that quality. We were wrong. Looking back I see that we usually spend roughly the same amount on Jim's pictures as we did at the "discount" studios. Have you ever noticed that their special portrait packages are only of one pose (usually a pose of THEIR choice)? You end up spending much more than you had expected in order to purchase some of the better pictures.
Every time we go in to have portraits made, it strikes me how quickly these years are slipping by. I look at the beautiful pictures of my 5 children and am struck by the reality that they will never be this age again. To get a photo that captures the essence of who a little one was on that exact day of his or her life...how do you put a price tag on that?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Objects in Mirror May be Larger than You Thought They Were...

Four other ladies from WCA and I went to Tulsa to attend the A.C.E. Christian Educator's Convention. We left Sunday afternoon and spent the night Sunday night before attending the all day conference on Monday. The hotel we stayed in was very nice, but the make-up mirror in the bathroom was awful! It was a magnifying mirror with a lighted circle around it. Who can resist such a mirror? Before bed, I turned on the light and gazed in intently only to be shocked and horrified at what I say therein.
I was surprised to find that my eyebrows were not as well groomed as I thought they were. I immediately found my tweezers and spent several minutes trying to rectify that situation. Unfortunately, my eyebrows were so unruly that hand strength and attention span became issues and I gave before my brows were properly tamed. Next I noticed that I have quite a collection of crows' feet that I had previously been blissfully unaware of. When did I get those? My ever-problematic freckles tauted me, standing out even more than usual under magnification and proper lighting. And, were those zits? It's just wrong to have to deal with wrinkles AND zits! I left the bathroom struggling with my self-esteem. Melinda, Laura, and I agreed that we should NEVER look in such a mirror, it's too revealing! I would, frankly, rather not know about all of my facial flaws. Ignorance is bliss.
My temper often serves as a lighted magnification mirror for my personality flaws. I'd rather walk around unaware of my many faults, but my temper highlights those shortcomings to the point that they are not only obvious to me, but also to anyone in the near vicinity. My oh-so-revealing temper got the best of me today and shined a spot-light on some of my less attractive attributes. I can be walking about (perhaps just shopping in Walmart) when suddenly my tempter begins advertising my selfishness, meanness, and self-centeredness. Emotional eruption on aisle 5...clean-up crew needed. That's not to imply that my temper isn't a flaw in and of itself. Believe me, I understand that it is. I only mean to point out how much it magnifies my other sins (that I prefer to believe do not exist). It amazes me how I can be so concerned about superficial things like wrinkles, blemishes, and stray hairs and, yet, remain so unconcerned about things that really matter...at least until they blow up in my face and announce themselves to the world at large. It doesn't actually make them larger, just harder to ignore. Why worry over a few stray eyebrow hairs when my temper is sitting on my face like a giant Neanderthal uni-brow? And, yet, even as I choose to ignore my own sins, I often point a critical finger at other people's flaws. Physical beauty cannot stand up against such spiritual ugliness. The Lord can groom me, though. His Word will pluck, prune, nip, tuck, and cleanse until (eventually) I shine in His beauty. May He be at work in my life, this log in my eye didn't bother me until I noticed it and now that I know it's there it has become excruciating!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Princess Poopy Pictures

I have been waiting for Haven to get over her respiratory "thing" before having her one year pictures taken, but after a month with no end in sight I gave up and scheduled pictures for today. Unfortunately, I ended up having to rush around before pictures because of a mini-crisis at school that required my attention half an hour before her portrait session. We still made it in plenty of time, but I had to dress her in her picture outfit there at James Photographics. The outfit was new, but thankfully fit since I hadn't bothered to try it on her beforehand! We even managed a complete outfit change without a whine or complaint.
As soon as I got her ADORABLE outfit on her, it was her turn, so I took her into the studio. Jim had a beautiful fall background with brightly colored leaves on the floor, pumpkins in the background, and rustic props. I set Haven in the little bench with high anticipation. She loves Jim! They flirt with each other every Sunday and her little face lights up when she sees him...usually. Today, however, Haven decided to be a stinker. As soon as I set her down in the rustic little bench she balked. Jim got out a smaller seat for her, but she was not to be appeased. We tried the floor to no avail, then pulled in a little apple basket turned over for her to pull up on, but she just was dead set against cooperating. I finally took her shoes off, thinking that maybe they were hurting her feet. No change.
Poor Jim. He has more energy than the three most energetic people I know (besides him) put together, but I think Haven wore him out! He pulled out all the stops trying to get her to smile. You've never heard so many funny noises coming out of a grown man's mouth! He shook all his funny toys, made all manner of strange faces, and even let me sit right next to her. I was hot and tired just watching him work. I can't even imagine how many calories a day that guy must burn!
My friend, Jim, is an excellent photographer. That's not even a biased opinion, that is an undeniable fact. I was discouraged about the sitting, but not Jim. After looking through the shots he'd taken, he seemed pleased. He even told me that he got some "beautiful" pictures (no thanks to Miss Haven). So, just remember, friends, when I present you with Haven's latest pictures and you are oohing and ahhing over them...they are less a testament to her beauty than to Jim's skill! That man works hard for his money.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

I've heard it said that our parents know how to push all our buttons...after all, they installed them! No doubt that is meant as a humorous observation, but it is fairly true, nonetheless. Nearly daily since I became a mother almost 15 1/2 years ago I have wondered what mistakes I am making that will affect my children for the rest of their lives. What "buttons" am I installing? What will stories will they tell their spouses and children about me? What will they tell their therapists???
Parenting is the most important job in the world and, arguably, the most difficult. Not only is each child different, but each parent and each family is different. There are very few hard and fast rules of parenting. It starts at birth...will you breast feed, or bottle feed? Lay your baby down on side, back, or tummy? Pick her up or let her cry? Walk or rock? The daily decisions seem endless and sometimes insurmountable. With our first child I worried even in her infancy what I was doing to "mess her up?" When the second baby came along I faced decisions squared, but at least I had less time to ponder all of my shortcomings as a mother. Now I have five children and the decisions I am called to make run the gamut from car seats to driver's ed. Not only has the laundry increased exponentially, but so have the daily decisions I make regarding the parenting of these precious ones that have been entrusted to me.
I wish I could say that I do my best, but the truth is that often times I'm not doing my best. Sometimes I'm lazy or selfish or tired or grumpy. I worry that they will grow up and only remember those times. I hope not. I hope they remember how I made them whatever kind of birthday cake they asked for every year (I still remember my mother baking me a strawberry cake for my 3rd birthday at my request). I hope they remember how we took walks and talked about important things almost every spring and summer evening. I hope they remember the times we laughed so hard we cried. I hope they remember "Dirks Idol" and "Fear Factor, Dirks Addition." I hope they remember putting ornaments on the tree and lights on the house. Instead of remembering the times I was frustrated with them over homework or snapped at their insistent questioning, I hope what they remember most about their childhood is how much their mother loved them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Naked infront of a Crowd

Blogging, for me, is about the writing process and about letting you get to know me a little bit (or a lot) better than you do. It's a window into my soul. It's about transparency. But, the thing about being transparent is that it's scary. The more people know you, the more they can hurt you...intentionally, or otherwise. My blog is not an invitation for you to fix me. I am not broken. I am a rock.

Things that are better than being thin (not necessarily in order):
*Having a husband who thinks I'm beautiful!
*Having 5 beautiful children.
*Knowing Christ and being His new creation.
*Being fit.
*Being smart.
*Happiness.
*Being funny.
*Having joy every day.
*Being debt free.
*Having good friends and being a good friend.
*Being surrounded by people who love me.
*Being healthy physically and emotionally and spiritually.
*Being respectful.
*Being thoughtful.
*Being tactful.
*Being kind.

If you don't happen to like it, pass me by!~

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How do you EVER get well in the hospital?

Because you will have to sit for half an hour in the ER waiting room even though you have doctor's orders and aren't actually an ER patient and SIT you will, no matter how ill you are because the room is solely furnished with armchairs. Then, for reasons unknown, the staff will have you WALK down to lab to have your blood drawn even though you've actually been admitted as an outpatient. By the time you get back to the ER you will have to pee, but will be so tired that you'd rather wet yourself then walk to the restroom. When the nurse calls you back he will want to chat with you and apparently doesn't take the hint from the blanket you are holding over your face or your barely whispered replies that you have the worst headache you've ever had and aren't exactly in the chatting mood. Finally, he will cover you with a heated blanket (ahhhhh) and leave the room so that you can get some rest, but will return in a nano -second to start your IV. Unfortunately, he will want to give you a mini-lesson on IV fluids and equipment and will also need the lights on high during the whole process. When he finally leaves again (after anchoring the IV with approximately 3 miles of medical tape which you forgot to tell him you were allergic to) and you begin to relax, the drunk and belligerent man in the hall will stand outside of your door and argue with hospital staff until security removes him after a brief (but horribly loud) scuffle. After a brief moment of sweet silence, the nurse will return and give you the news that you have a "massive" infection and are being admitted as an in-patient. Then he will tell a couple of jokes to try to cheer you up, but eventually gives up and throws another heated blanket over you while telling you that he'll be back in a minute with your antibiotics. He's actually back in about 5 minutes during which time you kissed your husband goodbye and assured him that the kids need him at home more than you need him at the hospital. Upon his fully lighted return, he hooks two bags of IV antibiotics to your IV pole, then giggles about having forgotten the tubing. Once again, he disappears for a few minutes only to return humming with the misplaced tubing and proceeds in hooking up the promised antibiotics, then he's off again. Before you can drift off, another nurse-type person arrives and asks you for your name and birth date, then loads you in a wheelchair and takes you to the third floor by way of the most fluorescent lighting possible.
Ah, the room! You may think that you will finally be given the pain meds that the doc promised you a full two hours ago at the start of this process, but you will be wrong. First, the nursing staff will try (unsuccessfully) to talk you out of your street clothes and into a gown. Finally, they will give up, but rest is still a long ways away. The admitting nurse informs you that she has some questions to ask you...seven pages of questions. She is not kidding. At least she kindly turns of the offensive overhead lighting and only switches on a mild side light to see her questionnaire by. After providing fully informing the admitting nurse about your personal workout habits, grooming habits (why do they need to know how I prefer to clean myself and what time of day I generally do it????), drug and alcohol usage, bowel habits (size, shape, texture, and frequency), and answering every other question they could think of (including whether or not your illness is causing you stress), you will then be shown a chart consisting of a series of happy faces and asked to point to the one that most indicates how you are feeling. Actually, not all of the faces are happy. The first face is happy, then the next four faces rapidly decline in mood until the last one is bawling. You'll point to the spot in between the last two faces (hint: where's my pain medication???) and sign in three places, then that nurse will finally leave the room after complimenting your shoes. You will try to drift off to sleep, but the mattress is rubber, your IV is throbbing, the pillow is plastic and sounds crinkly under the casing, and your head hurts so badly that your own heartbeat is agony. Finally, the medication nurse will arrive with your morphine. Unfortunately, morphine does not knock you out and by the time the meds nurse leaves it is well after midnight. You look at the clock at twelve forty-two and your last thought before finally succumbing to sleep is that at least you will get to sleep in.
At one twelve you awaken abruptly to the most horrible noise imaginable that seems to be coming from your bathroom. You realize that you have to pee in the worst way, but you are afraid to go in there and since your head doesn't make you want to die for the first time in twelve hours you don't really want to move. Finally, the noise is identified as vomiting. Forceful, LOUD, manly vomiting that is, in fact, coming from the room next door. When it seems to subside, you will wrestle your IV pole into the bathroom and pee in the hat someone has placed in the toilet. As soon as you slide back into bed, the vomitter is re-visiting his bathroom. His is very sick. Since you can't sleep through his heaving, you pray for him. He throws up for hours almost continuously. In between praying for him, you consider calling the nurses on his behalf, try to listen to what the people in his room are saying, and wonder why they aren't helping this poor man. At shortly after three a nurse comes in to check on you and you request more pain meds since the pain has become (once again) blinding. She brings you a wet washcloth for your eyes and says she'll be right back with some Tordol which your doc has ordered. Apparently right back means thirty-five minutes (or two heaving bathroom trips for my neighbor...ugh), but she finally shows up and hooks up the Tordol. At four fifteen you conclude that Tordol is medical jargon for "worthless." The man next door is moaning pitifully and you want to feel sorry for him, but really you just want him to be quiet now.
The next thing you know, your overhead light is being flipped on and someone entirely too perky is chirping "good morning!" It is the lab and it is 5:40 a.m. Someone has decided that more of your blood must be collected and that the best time to do this is at the crack of dawn. You surrender your non-IVed arm while holding the IVed one over your eyes. Your head hurts so badly you cannot think. When she leaves she forgets to turn off the overhead light and you ring the nurse asking for more pain meds. After an agonizing twenty-three minutes, she arrives with more morphine. Twenty minutes after that injection you feel well enough to get up and fill up the potty hat, but once in the potty a wave of nausea hits. Fearing that you will regale the man next door with your own heaving, you lurch to your bed and try to let it pass. Somehow you doze, but awaken at seven when they bring your breakfast which you quietly refuse, then ring the nurse for anti-nausea meds. Those knock you out...blissfully OUT, but your doctor arrives at eight o'clock to inspect your breast and inform you that you will not be going home. You cannot keep your eyeballs open, but that will not stop him from thoroughly checking you over (he is, after all, a wonderful doctor and would do no less). The day is a blur. You sleep all day, only waking to urinate (why must they pump you so full of fluids???), answer the nurses questions, turn away food, and ask for pain meds. At some point you realize the man next door is no longer moaning OR vomiting. Is he dead?
The next day they tell you you are still running a fever and cannot go home. They try to talk you into more meds, but you know if you take them then you will also need more nausea medicine and you'd really like to just tough it out on your own. Every time you doze off today, someone new comes in your room to wish you well, draw your blood, or tell you to rest. The nursing student needs to know when your last bowel movement was and if it was small, medium, or large. Compared to what? You actually eat lunch! You are so tired that you know if you don't go home you may die of exhaustion. You recall celebrities being admitted to "rest," but you know they cannot be resting in YOUR hospital!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Runner, I am Not

I have run a bit in my lifetime. Recently I have been engaging in the practice of walk/jogging 3-4 times a week for shorter distances than I'd like to admit. I'd like to be a runner. I admire their fortitude, their stamina, and (most of all) their legs. But I am not a runner...here's why:

Top Ten Reasons Why I am not a Runner:

10. Bad knees...I take ibuprofen daily even when I don't run!
9. Those extra 30 pounds I'm carrying start a chain reaction of jiggle that could be catastrophic on an extended run.
8. I get bored really easily...I call it ADOP (attention deficit...ooooooh, pretty!)
7. I can't read and run at the same time without getting motion sickness.
6. I'm lazy.
5. There's no one chasing me.
4. No matter how far you're going it seems painfully slow getting there.
3. I look and feel about as graceful as a lumberjack with one leg when I run.
2. Sweat is icky!
1. They have yet to invent a sports bra that can contain these mams when I'm nursing!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Appointment Disappointment

I had an appointment to see the dermatologist today for my psoriasis. I have never actually seen a dermatologist for it before, so I was really looking forward to it! My psoriasis seems to go in phases: better, then worse, then almost gone, then unbearable, then better again, and so on. Right now it's in a pretty bad phase. It covers my entire scalp and has crept down onto my face. I also have small, but intensely itchy spots on my arms, legs, and torso. My doc doesn't even know what to do with me any more...I guess because things that should be helping just aren't! Tanning keeps the areas on my body from getting too bad, but I'm annoyed that there are so darn many of them. And as thin as my hair is, tanning still can't touch the ones on my scalp.

I hate psoriasis. HATE IT!!! I know theologians think Paul is referring to his eye sight in I Thessalonians 12 when he says, "7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. " However, I believe that Paul was actually referring to psoriasis! I believe this because I would describe my own psoriasis as a thorn in my flesh. Not only is it unsightly (in fact, this is the least of my concerns although I am, admittedly, not thrilled about having it on my face), but it is extremely uncomfortable. I feel like a burn victim. My flesh is covered in itchy, burning, scaly patches. It's also gross. Having it on my scalp makes me appear to have a really severe case of dandruff. My shoulders are constantly covered in flakes. To make matters worse, all of the scalp medications that I've tried are oily...so I end up with OILY, FLAKY hair! Actually, I am using an alcohol based medication right now and I love that it evaporated so quickly and doesn't leave my hair oily. However, rubbing alcohol into open wounds is not fun and often brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps God is keeping me from becoming conceited. I wonder about this especially as I consider the psoriasis on my face.

I, too, have asked God to take this thorn from me, but yet it remains. I try to rest in His Grace and believe the power of verse 9...that His power is made perfect in my weakness. But what really speaks to me when I am frustrated with this painful, itchy, gross affliction is verse 10 which says, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I pray that someday I will be able to delight in this difficulty and see God's Grace carrying me through it. But, today, I was just utterly disappointed when the dermatologist CANCELED my long-awaited appointment due to illness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hot Diggity-Blog

It is just ridiculous that I can't even seem to be able to find the time to sit down and blog a little! And when I DO, here comes little miss wanting to be held or a bigger person who wishes to tell me a story or ask me a question or simply makes a lot of distracting noises in as close proximity to where I'm working as possible. That may explain why I haven't finished my book...or even attempted to...for the last two years. I used to write a lot while not sleeping. Now insomnia is not my problem and if I'm awake in the night I'm holding a little someone who likes to hit and kick this keyboard, making writing difficult if not impossible. But, I LOVE to write...even just a little newsy blog. I love putting my thoughts down on paper (okay, technically it's not paper, but you know what I mean). I love the creative release and process. But, in order to write, one does need to be able to complete a thought and string together coherent words to form sentences...something that I am definitely struggling with.
I would leave dishes in my sink and laundry unfolded in order to write, but that's not the problem. The issue is that in order to write, I need a period of UNINTERRUPTED time each day so that I can start a thought and finish it. Since Addy just carried Haven in here to show her the "pwetty, pwetty movies," I just lost my train of thought (and ability to spell...thank goodness for spell check)! Anyway, the point is that I can't seem to find the time to write, but it's not just time that's the factor. I wish I had Jason's ability to completely tune out the rest of the world, but I don't. I hear every argument, every whimper, every complaint, and they all register in my brain, making contiguous thought nearly impossible unless the house is absolutely still and quiet. I think it's a gift to be able to tune out because in the last 36 years I have not been able to teach myself to do it!
And, yet, in an incongruous, rabbit trail-ridden way, I've managed to post a blog!

Friday, September 12, 2008

That Darn Dog

As anyone who knows us is aware, there is no love lost between Jason and Snickers (our cute, but oh-so-stupid Dachshund/Schipperke mix). Tonight she escaped from the backyard just as we were leaving for a birthday party. Three of the five children took out after her, but she is energetic and fast and had all three trailing her down the street as she ran for her freedom. Jason had to run two blocks to catch her last time (he's the only one she'll mind) and decided that he just wasn't going to run this time...so, he hopped on the Harley and took off! A few minutes later he pulled back up in the drive empty handed, which is not a good sign. Then, I noticed the glimmer of two worried, beady eyes peering out of the saddle bag. Sure enough, J had stuffed Snicks in the saddle bag and there she rode home with only her head sticking out. We all had a good laugh at her expense...I was thinking about getting her a studded collar and a "biker chick" wiener dog shirt.
The party lasted until nearly ten o'clock, so we were all a bit tired when we pulled the van in the garage and unloaded. Haven was already sleeping, so I lugged her upstairs, plugged in her box, and tucked her in. As I was coming back downstairs, Jason stopped me. "Did you see what your dog did?" he asked. I knew it couldn't be good, but I was not expecting the gaping hole she had torn all the way through the back door. I almost couldn't believe it...until she stuck her nose in and whined. Dumb dog. Dumb, dumb dog. Already on thin ice for running away she decides to destroy our back door. Is there a more stupid dog on the face of the planet? So, as I type this, Jason is patching our back door with some scrap wood and probably planning a slow, agonizing death for Snickers, dumbest dog in the world.

Monday, September 8, 2008

So It Goes

I've been on a "diet" for the last two weeks. So far, I've gained 4 pounds. I'm right on track to weigh 200 pounds by January at this rate! It's so frustrating! Maybe I should stop trying to lose weight...I was fat before, but at least I wasn't GAINING.
When you're fat you spend a lot of time being embarrassed and feeling ashamed. I'm ashamed every time I order food in a restaurant. I'm sure the skinny as a rail waitress is looking at me and thinking what a cow I am and how I shouldn't be eating at all. I'm embarrassed at the gym. I imagine everyone there is wondering why I'm there and how I can be so fat if I work out. I'm embarrassed, ashamed, frustrated, and sad when I shop for clothes. I HATE shopping for clothes. When I try on clothes all I can think is that I don't need new clothes, I need a new body. Nothing looks good on this body. In that way, being fat has some advantages...I'm not very likely to go spend money on myself. I am so ashamed of myself when I see my image in a mirror or on a photograph. How did I let myself get this way?
Jason and I want to take a cruise in February, but at this point I can't imagine voluntarily wearing a swimsuit in public. I can't even imagine dressing up for formal night...I'm so unattractive.
I can't seem to strike a healthy balance. I wish I could just quit eating altogether! OR I wish I could eat everything in sight and be almost skeletal. Why does it have to be so hard?

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Day in the Life

This week has been crazy! Typical...but crazy. Here's how it went...

Monday morning, no school. Yay! We got all sheets changed on all the beds, cleaned bathrooms, and did 4 loads of laundry. Haddon had a 2 hour soccer practice, but we spent the rest of the day at home. Haven had 3 alarms before midnight and disconnects all night long. I was up at least once an hour.
Tuesday, Jason woke me up at 7:24, "Are you going to go be the principal today?" Got out of bed, took a speed shower, slapped a little paint on the barn, and ran to school. J brought all of the kids to the school at 8:30. We ate lunch together at noon, then I took Haven home for a nap. After a SHORT nap (during which time I worked on the school calendar), she was very cranky, so we just headed back up to the school and worked for a while. We left the school at 3:40 and I dropped Hannah, Haddon, Blake, and Jakob off at the house. I ran Addy to piano at 4:00, took Avery to pick out her soccer cleats, socks, shin guards, and ball. Drove like a madwoman to get back to piano by 4:30. Started supper, got Haddon ready for soccer, drove Haddon to soccer practice at 5:45, drove home, finished supper, and all the girls ate. Started baths and homework, then the boys arrived home from soccer at 8:00 and ate their supper. The little 3 were tucked by 8:40! Whew!!! Then we swept and mopped, finished the big girls' homework, put away laundry, and collapsed into bed around eleven. She woke up at 12:30 and 5:30.
Wednesday morning I dragged myself out of bed at 6:50. I was able to get ready for work before little miss woke up and even had a few minutes to read the Word and pray at my desk before it was time to get started at school. Haven and I worked until a bit after noon, then went home and ate lunch. Haven took a pretty good nap (about an hour and a half), so I was able to do a load of laundry and finish some paper work for school. We headed back up to the school at 3:30 to pick up the other kiddos and the two extras that the girls babysit after school. At 5:00 we headed across town to take Hannah to dance, took Addy to small groups, then the rest of us went to church. At church I taught a class of 19 rowdy third graders for two hours, then picked up Addy, then Hannah and drove back home. Baths, homework, little ones to bed by 8:30, big girls homework, then put away some laundry and went to bed at about 10:30. Haven woke up at 2:30.
Thursday I woke up feeling pretty rested at 6:30. Got ready for work, got Haven ready for school, left for school. Haven and I worked until 11:30, then we went and ate lunch. I dropped her off at church with J and went to a meeting with the public school special ed administration. There I sat for nearly an hour while they told me that even though our school parents pay their taxes, the public school is no longer obligated to provide special ed services for our students with special ed needs. I picked up Haven and took her home for a short nap during which I contacted the state dept. and found out that the public school is in fact no longer legally bound to provide services for our students. We headed back up to the school at 3:30 to get the kids. After dropping everybody but Haven and Hannah at home, I drove Hannah to dance. Then, I drove back home and picked up Avery and drove her to dance. An hour later I picked Avery up from dance and drove her to soccer. An hour after that we went to KFC for supper, then home and did the whole homework, baths, bedtime routine. Hit the bed at 10:45. Haven woke up at 11:30. Haven woke up at 12:15 and wasn't going back down...we were up until 2:30 when she finally gave up. Avery got up at 2:35 with diarrhea. I got to sleep at 2:45.
This morning Haven woke me up at 6:55 and I laid in bed and nursed her until 7:10. We headed to school at the normal time and I just poured myself an EXTRA large cup of coffee. I left school at 12:oo with Haven and we stopped at the grocery store before meeting a friend for lunch. At 12:50 I headed back to school to teach art. At 2:00 Jason came and got Haven. I taught art to two classes and finished at 3:00. We got in the van and headed home at 3:45.
WHEW! I am so glad it's the weekend...even supermoms get tired sometimes!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another Blog Bites the Dust

Believe it or not, I HAVEN'T gone a week without blogging! I've only blogged twice, but both of them failed to post for some reason! Grrrrr....Haven has been super grumpy lately. She seems to be (finally) getting over her cold, but she isn't sleeping well and I think tooth #2 is close to making its appearance. Last night was pretty rough. She had her first bradycardia alarm at 8:40 before I even put her into bed. She is in the very small minority of central apnea patients that occassionally have apneas and heart rate problems when awake (.4%). We have noticed that when she does alarm when awake she is usually sleepy, so I don't know if that's triggering them, or what. She went on to have two more bradycardias before midnight.
Someone asked me the other day what had happened before she was born to make her like she is. Beautiful? Smart? Funny? No, they meant the anea, of course. I told them that some babies are just born that way, but they persisted, "Did 'they' ever tell you that it might be something you did?" "Nope." And I walked away. I know this person is pretty slow, but it struck at the core of me even though I tried to ignore it. I guess because that's something I wonder, too. Did I do something to make Haven sick? Was it the Tylenol I took? Antidepressants before I knew I was pregnant? Being ungrateful for the opportunity to have another baby? Then again, central apnea is such a small (teeny-tiny) part of who Haven is that it surprises me that some people will characterize her by it! She is AMAZING!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Accessorizing

Lately it seems as though the only purpose for my jewelry is to entertain Miss Haven. She shakes and chews on all of my necklaces. Obviously this limits my choices each morning. I not only have to choose jewelry that matches, but some that is reasonably sturdy, too. If it jingles or clanks that's a bonus that will add 30 minutes of happy play time to Haven's day (thus adding 30 minutes of hands free work time to my day).
Bracelets are to be taken off and chewed upon. They never stay on my wrists for more than a few minutes before she discovers them and demands that they be turned over. Haven likes to chew on them, wear them, throw them, shake them, and even put them on her head or feet. Suddenly, all of my hand-beaded bracelets are off limits!
Earrings are also taboo. This is for both Haven's and my safety! I would prefer not to have them yanked out of my ears AND they are what the Dirks kids call "chokeables." Rings are fine, though. I always wear the same two and I don't think Haven realizes that they come off, so she only plays with them on my fingers.
I had forgotten what it was like to be a constant source of amusement and entertainment for a little one. She keeps my hands full and my jewelry options limited, but what fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Snips and Sails and Puppy Dog Tails...

Haddon keeps me constantly astonished at his lack of personal hygiene. I wonder, how could he have grown up in this house and be so gross? When he was a toddler, he ENJOYED wearing his poopy diapers and cried when I changed them. He decorated his whole body with a marker when he was three. When he was four, I asked him once if he had used soap when he washed his hands (seemed like a suspiciously quick hand washing to me) and he replied, "You didn't tell me to use soap!" Thereafter I had to say, "Haddon, please go wash your hands...with soap." Even though I'd explained that washing your hands without soap is called "rinsing," I didn't want to take any chances. It was like a flashback when at 5 he told me that he didn't know he was supposed to wash his hair with shampoo! In the days leading up to kindergarten my son and I had many conversations about wiping yourself adequately. "But how many times do I have to wipe?" he'd ask. "At least 3 times, son, but wipe until the toilet paper is clean." I hoped he was doing a good job, but at times his underwear belied his ability to clean his own bottom.
Although he is eight now, and nearly nine, Haddon doesn't seem to be improving on his personal grooming habits. Sunday when he was wrestling around with a friend after church I caught a glimpse of his underwear...which looked suspiciously like the underwear he'd been wearing the day before. As if that's not bad enough, they were the same underwear the day before that I'd confirmed with him he'd been wearing the day before that and had admonished him to change at his earliest convenience. I didn't want to embarrass him, but was feeling pretty perturbed. I pulled him aside and asked if he'd put on clean underwear after his shower. "What do you mean?" he asked. Well, that took me a back for a moment. How many things can "did you put on clean underwear after your shower" mean? I rephrased, "After your shower, did you put on the same underwear that you were wearing before your shower?" He admitted that it was so. Gah! Why, why, WHY would you put really dirty underwear on your clean body??? He said he wasn't sure if they were dirty!!! "Honey, you've worn them for at least two days and now most of three. Trust me, they're dirty!" He knew I was not happy. I decided that maybe he just needed some new underwear since he seemed to prefer the boxer brief, so I bought him a package. He was pretty excited about them and put a fresh pair on in the morning. Unfortunately, after his shower Monday night he looked at me, pointed at the underwear he'd so recently taken off and...
ASKED IF HE COULD PUT THEM BACK ON!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Going For the Gold

In the spirit of the Olympics, our church picnic will feature "friendly" competition next Sunday. Included will be things like volleyball, sack race, three legged race, and the most grueling sport of all...the wife carry. Two years ago Jason and I were edged out of a win by Jason and Tiffany Biffle. It was a close race and they had an obvious size advantage (Tiffany is less than half of Jason where as I am about the same weight as my Jason and considerably fluffier). Last year Jason and I were unable to participate due to pregnancy (mine).
This is our year...I can feel it.
In order to clench the victory, we are adopting a rigorous training regimen. (Cue "Rocky" theme music...) I am going to lose about 25 pounds by Sunday. That's about 4 1/2 pounds a day, so my diet will consist of water and vitamins and my weight loss will be accellerated by about 4 hours of aerobic training daily. We are also perfecting our technique (check it out...we learned from the "experts" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujG31W56LHs ...but beware: I'll take out ANYONE who copies our technique). Starting tomorrow, Jason will be running several miles a night over rugged terrain with me on his back. I'm going to spend HOURS upside down so that my eyeballs don't pop out due to increased blood flow to the head during the race.
Some people may think this is going a bit overboard. Au contrair mon frair...Tiffany brought this on herself by insinuating that she and her Jason were unbeatable. Well, Tiffany...you may be skinny and your husband may be a giant, but Jason and I have heart and passion and the desire to win and THIS IS OUR YEAR! Now can you deal with THAT???