Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Santa,

I realize I am getting this letter off a little late this year. I have had some computer problems and also been making a stocking for that little gift you delivered early last year. (Nope, wait. I delivered that one. 20 hours. You remember--you were there.) Anyway, I hope you are doing well. If it is still possible to consider some of my requests, I would appreciate it. Do not feel like this list is exhaustive, or that you have to get everything on it. These are merely some suggestions to help make your shopping a little easier. Also, this is not to say that I don't love the secret stash you give me of m&ms and Jelly Belly's in my stocking every year. Those are gifts that keep on giving for a few months.... or possibly, weeks.
  • First, I know you know I like clothes. And I have discovered it can get a bit chilly here in Kansas! Apparently my warm sweaters went by the wayside in sunny Albuquerque. So a sweater would be nice. And also some of those super cute furry boots or clogs in the brown family would be nice!
  • Years ago you (or some other man I love) gave me a set of gold stud earrings. I wouldn't mind another pair of everyday earrings, whether they are round, flat, hoops or another shape. You know what I like: small and simple.
  • A new little Bible would be great! They have some really slim Bibles that I might even get to church with me once in a while.
  • I would really love a booklight for those times when the whole family finds ourselves in the same room for the night.... A bonus would be if it took AAA batteries. :)
  • Lastly, since the steering wheel on my sleigh... er, I mean, van, is all worn down, a steering wheel cover might be nice! Something cute and fashionable. I know they have girly ones, but if you feel a more neutral one is better suited to the whole family, I would love it, too!
Thank you for your consideration, Santa. I know you are a busy man. I hope this makes it easier on you! :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some Really Good Things:

  • We seem to have a "done deal" on the house. The house passed inspection on Saturday with a few minor repairs showing up, but nothing that doesn't fall into the allowance we had already given. Our realtor was there to represent us and met the couple moving in. She said they have a baby due any day, so they were anxious to get things settled. They also have 3 other kids and we were told they loved our kids' rooms. This is such a relief to me! I know it's silly, but it was hard for me to think someone would come in and paint all of that!
  • We have been blessed by our growing relationships around us. I really connected with another homeschooling mom the other day when she invited me and the kids over for a play day. The kids had a blast and we seemed to have a close connection from the beginning! At church on Sunday, we met another family who was visiting. In our small talk, we quickly learned that they had also moved to Olathe about a month ago to begin a new church!! We know God orchestrated this meeting and we are excited to see what this means! Our backdoor neighbors have blessed us as well, coming to our first 33 Home Bible Study last week, and then coming to the rescue the next day when I was stranded at the grocery store with dead battery and 3 empty carseats (i.e.--Ryan couldn't get to me).
  • It was sunny today! The kids and I took advantage and got out with the bikes and stroller and dog, and didn't even regret any of it! :) We did find out we don't live on a "block" so the walk was a bit longer than I had planned, and I should have brought water!
  • We have had some real blessed moments during school lately! I happened upon tying Bible story time to snack time, and we don't miss it anymore! It has really opened up some good question and answer times and teachable moments. Beyond this, we have made some good academic strides lately. I have been pleased with how easily things have been absorbed!
  • We officially enrolled our kids in AWANA tonight. We had visited last week and they kept asking, can we go back next time? While we are excited about how they will be learning about God there, we are REALLY excited about how Ryan and I will have some time with only one kid!! Tonight we went on a date (isn't it funny that with 3, having only one constitutes a date?), but in the future I can see us doing something like shopping together (clothes, Sam's, birthday, Christmas, etc.)--something we enjoy doing together, but is nearly impossible and most certainly unenjoyable with the other two in tow!
  • God is not finished with me yet. And my family hasn't given up on me either.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A sign I'm Getting Through...

Since flu season is upon us, and we are not the flu shot kind, I did a brief reminder lesson on the necessities of clean hands the other day. I told the kids we needed to be careful, especially when we're around a bunch of kids, to not touch our eyes, noses, or mouths, and make sure we wash or Purell as soon as we can.

On the way home from a gathering of kids the other day, Reed proudly proclaimed from the backseat, "Mom, I didn't pick my nose the whole time we were there!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blogging--UGH!

This has been my attitude about blogging as of late.  I'm not sure why, but I have a couple hunches:  1.) blogging is meant to update and I have had no substantial update as of late, 2.) blogging is meant to share deep thoughts and I have had a combination of a lot of incomplete deep thoughts and a whole lot of shallow ones.  

So, here are some bullets to help us all catch up.
  • We are moving to Olathe.  Like tomorrow.  Well, that is a bit of a characteristic exaggeration.  But after waiting so long to get things moving (no pun intended), we will be making the trip to Albuquerque and back (I am in Kansas as I write this) within a week.  And in between we will finish packing up our house, do a concert for FCCabq, and load the trucks (yes, plural).  I would appreciate your prayers for sanity in the coming days!
  • We have a house!! To rent, that is.  We have still had no offers on our Abq house and we have been given a peace about renting for a time.  The house we have found is for sale, so we will have the option to buy when our house sells and if it will meet our needs as we think it might.  It will be nice to have some time to really test it out!!  Some stats on it: 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2 half baths, 3 living areas (1 in the basement), 2 car garage, laundry on the bedroom floor (yay!), good closets, some very dated wall paper boarders and lighting fixtures (Too bad those can't come down right away!) but all the right bones to a great house.  We are very excited!
  • We have stayed this week with a host family from another church in the area.  We have been so blessed by Bill and Marilyn's hospitality!!  And the house? Oh. My. Word.  Seriously!!  Huge!  We have the top floor with three bedrooms, two baths, the loft in between, and a phone booth!!  Yep, a phone booth!  Almost every closet I have found is a walk-in (even the hall closets!).  The 60" TV in the basement with surround sound and leather couch has spoiled us too!  Some of Reed's quotes that help to illustrate the luxury: 1. (While sitting in their built-in diner booth with wall-mounted flat screen) "It's just like Fuddruckers!"  2. "Dad, look!  They have a path to their neighbor's house!"  "Son, that's not the neighbor's.  That's the garage!"  3. (Watching cartoons in the media room) "If we turn off all the lights, it's just like a movie theater!"  4. "They have their own personal river!!"
  • So while we have enjoyed the great luxury, we have felt at home, too.  They have 9 grandchildren who stop by regularly (we met 4 of them) so they do not expect things to get put away perfectly.  They have let our kids be kids, which has enabled us to relax while we were here.  Also, they made sure that we would help ourselves to anything and everything we could find to eat, and told us not to replace what we used.  We have had great discussions on faith, and parenting, and life, etc.  I just cannot tell you how much we have enjoyed being here.
  • We are excited about what God has in store for us in Olathe.  We have already met a homeschooling family with 4 kids--3 of whose ages align with ours.  We met our 3 immediate neighbors in one night and are excited about the possibilities in our new neighborhood.  I have even gone to the grocery store and liked it pretty well, at least at first sight.  The long transition has helped my heart move here.  The people I know I will desperately miss in Abq will still be a part of our lives, I know!  Hooray for facebook!
  • On a total side note, I am the least excited about football season as I have been in quite some time.  I am not very excited about cheering for Brett Farve's former or current teams.  I am VERY hesitant to cheer for the Chief's since I have tried to stay away from that all my life.  I am not a huge Mizzou fan, but the Missouri part of me cannot just switch to KU loyalty either.  And I cannot get excited about my fantasy football team because it is against league rules to do so (Joe Milan!!!)!!!  So, in answer to "Are you ready for some football?" I would have to sadly say, "No." 
One blog in over two months.  More to come.  Possibly way into the future!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Product Endorsements

So I don't get any money from any of these products, (If you know how I could, please share!) but I thought I might share with you some of my favorite products as of late. In all our work to fix up the house to get it market ready, we have used quite a few.

  • The Bathtub Scrubber from Scotch Brite (I think)--Ok, I don't think that's its real name. I actually bought it a few months ago for the kids to use to scrub the floor in their bathroom. (Because I am a terrible enough mom that their disgust and whining in the process brings me great entertainment and delight!!) It has a mid-size adjustable handle and a green scrubby pad on the bottom. It is a perfect size for them to do the floors, but I have found it is really great for doing showers and tubs, it's original intent, I believe. My only possible complaint is that the handle doesn't lock into position very well, so it sometimes collapses as you're working.
  • Greased Lightning Professional Strength Hard Water Stain Remover--This one is for toilets bowls, but I have used it in various places. The hard water ring in all my toilets was SOO bad! And I have tried many things to no avail. But this worked!! First, the toilet water had to be drained, at least away from the line, because otherwise it is too diluted to work. (You can do this easily by quickly pouring a small bucket of water into the bowl. I don't know why this works, but it does!) Second, a traditional toilet brush didn't do it. We had to go with one of those green scrubby pads. And a little elbow grease. Voila! Two important things: Rubber Gloves and Ventilation!! I also used this product full strength on the hard water stains on the shower doors and the french door windows. The stains are still a bit noticeable but so much improved!
  • Old English Scratch Cover--We did our doors and baseboards to clean them up, and they look so good! Supposedly it soaks in over time, so the fix is temporary, but it looks great for a few months. I also used it on a cheap coffee table we have, and it dressed it up so much!
  • Sol-U-Mel--This is an all-purpose cleaner from the company Melaleuca. I use it for many things, namely grease stains and odor problems. It works wonders on carpet stains, and it is not a soap, so it doesn't leave as much residue that collects more dirt. (Spray it on, let it set for a few moments, then blot and rub with a rag.) It also cleaned up our white grout in the entryway very nicely. (Spray it on, let set for a few moments, and scrub with a grout brush. Some places needed to be done twice.) I use it diluted, but some stains need it full strength. One time I got a tablespoon of red paint almost completely out of our off-white carpet. Only a faint pink spot remains. If you're not familiar with Melaleuca, my sister Terrie can hook you up!!
  • Hoover Steam Vac Dual V Carpet Cleaner--We've had this for a few years and really love it. We cannot afford to have the carpets professionally cleaned on a regular basis, so we bought this to use as needed. We are always amazed at what it picks up! And this one really sucks the water out, so it dries relatively quickly. ( I know the climate here helps...) The best thing we've learned is to not use any soap in it--we simply use it on rinse. Since our carpets were cleaned before we bought the house, there is still soap in the carpets that comes out. Used in conjunction with the Sol-U-Mel, I would put it up against some of the professionals!
  • Shark Steam Mop--This one is new for us and we also love it! It is a steam mop that cleans only with water. The microfiber pads it comes with are washable, so there is no need to buy replacements all the time.
  • Dyson Vacuum--Since we're on the on the subject.... I love that it's bagless and it really gets results. When I empty it in the dumpster outside I hear the refrain in my mind, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."
  • Pampered Chef Stone Scraper--Not just for the kitchen!! We have used this for so many of our jobs, from caulk to soap scum. Very handy!
  • Windex Outdoor Window Scrubbers--We weren't convinced these would work, but since Ryan's dad invested in them [:)!], we found they work great! You really can clean the windows with just this kit and a hose! And one pad cleans approximately 10 windows, so you don't blow through a pack of refills before your done.
There might be more, but I can't think of them right now. If you have a product that you would recommend, add it to the comments!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Swimming & Swooning

The kids finished up swim lessons on Friday. I'll have to admit that I am a little sad they are over. Yes, it will be nice to not have to slather sunscreen on them every morning and say, "Why is your wet swimsuit on the floor?" everyday. But I loved seeing them thrive in the environment created by the teachers there!!

Let's just get this out of the way right now: I had a bit of a crush on Ashton's teacher. Oh, and also this: My husband knows and is completely okay with this!! :)

I didn't even see his eyes until this last Thursday, so I would have to say it had more to do with his leadership ability and how he connected with the kids. He was caring and loving as needed (on a one on one basis), but also had the ability to put kids into situations they wouldn't put themselves into.

For example:
  • If the kids didn't get in when they were supposed to, he would jump right in front of them and splash them.
  • More than once he would take a screaming child from their mother and hold them in the water, reassuring them the whole time, but pouring handfuls of water on their head.
  • When the kids jumped to him in the big pool, they went all the way under as he held them. (As opposed to the other teacher, who barely got their chests wet.)
  • If a usually cooperative child got out of the pool, he would firmly say "Get in the pool!!" until they would comply. We saw him have this conversation with one girl in particular many times. Her response was usually, "I can't do it!!" But she always got back in the pool and usually did what she just said she couldn't.
While Ashton liked him, she was just enough scared of him to respect him, and excel at what she was learning in class. She got all her bubbles filled in!! While his tactics might have bothered some parents these days, I appreciated his tough love (with 3 and 4 year olds, no less!) approach to teaching. I wonder what his future holds, or even how old he is!

Reed's teacher was also good, but not nearly as dynamic. However, he was very patient and persistent in his teaching, and Reed filled in all but one bubble. If it didn't tie us down so much, I would definitely sign them up for another session. If only for myself...!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to Two of the Greatest Dads

I love my Dad.

He taught me about loving God. His life is an example of faith, but he also took time in the moment to share God's truths. One of my earliest distinct memories is of him singing "God is so Good" with me. He baptized me 25 years ago.

He taught me my amazing family heritage and to hold family in high regard. He has always made an effort to be with family near and far. "Your family will always be there!" he says.

He has given me some amazing opportunities: church camps, CIYs, plane trips on my own (to see family!), camping, 5-star hotel stays, fancy restaurants, roadside picnics, road trips to almost every state in the US, school trips (abroad, even!), college, dream wedding, etc., etc., etc.

He taught me how to work hard (much to my dismay, usually)! His girls were not above mowing the lawn!! However, he taught by example that hard work does not always require a change of clothes! :)

He set the bar high for how a husband should treat a wife. And he always made sure I knew that he and Mom would be together for life.

He didn't disown me when I wasn't the daughter he envisioned (aka--the teenage years)!!!

I have such a good Dad, he checks my blog almost every day. That's commitment!!

I love my husband.

He is such a great spiritual leader for our family. He spurs me on toward love and good deeds. And he teaches the kids simple truths with deep implications and childlike clarity.

He loves his family and mine. He has committed to being at nearly every family gathering, no matter how many hours we have had to log in the van.

He is taking me on an adventure. From the early days of ministry in SmallTown, Arkansas, to the lean and exciting days of Plumbline; from the stability and opportunities of ministry in the desert, to the unknown adventures of piecing together a church, I am honored to be at his side.

He has been able to climb over the bar set by my dad about how a husband should treat a wife! He takes every opportunity to tell me he loves me and how he appreciates my beauty (even when I KNOW he must be lying)!

He doesn't make me work hard! He really will not ever let me mow the lawn. Not because he thinks I can't, but because he wants to honor me! And I hardly ever need to put gas in my car. He's like my own full service gas station attendant.

And he still loves me even though I am not the woman he married. Ew. Some days... ew!

Happy Father's Day to two of the greatest dads I know!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Happy Anniversary

God has blessed me with such an amazing husband! I am proud to be the wife of such a well-respected man! One thing that blesses me is how he strives to be himself no matter who he's with--me or you. I am excited to spend many more years with him, trusting God with our lives.

So I have decided that I needed to write down all the things we have done to celebrate our anniversaries over the years. There are FAR too many that I do not remember, so if you remember something I have left out, please help me out!

  • 1995--Wedded Bliss!! We married on Friday night, drove to the Mansion at Elfindale in Springfield, then flew out the next day to the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina (via Nashville) for the week. We were too young to rent a car from most companies! Luckily, Enterprise accommodated us!
  • 1996--High School Church Camp, at Camp Joshua, Siloam Spring, AR. No, we didn't wait long to dive into ministry. :)
  • 1997-1999--Drawing a blank here..... Surely we did something!!
  • 2000--This was our first year doing Plumbline Ministres, so surely we were in a camp somewhere!!
  • 2001--This is the year that we began sharing our anniversary with Jeff and Stephanie Rickert! (Right, Steph? Do I have the right year?) We attended their wedding in TX, and then ate THE BEST FAJITAS ever!! Really, we talk about them still from time to time.
  • 2002--Blank
  • 2003--I was 8 months pregnant with Reed. I think we went a steak house in Fayetteville, and I ate a lot and probably got heartburn later (or maybe even right away)!
  • 2004--We had just moved to Albuquerque at the beginning of the year, at the same time as Jeff and Stephanie (see above), so it was obvious that we would celebrate together!! We went to Japanese Kitchen, where they cook right at your table, and that night they shared their exciting news of a baby on the way!!
  • 2005--10 years! Wow! We had plans to go to a Bed & Breakfast that night, but when we woke up, we had 1000's of ants swarming our bedroom. Really. Walking and flying. Really. It was not how I had envisioned my 10th anniversary! But after we dealt with that, we were able to enjoy an evening at the Lazy K (or some other letter?) Ranch in the mountains east of Albuquerque. This was also Reed's first night away from us. Oh, and I was pregnant with Ashton.
  • 2006--Ashton was 6 months old, so I know there was no overnight stay. But I don't remember the celebration at all.
  • 2007--Spent the entire weekend performing in the Patriotic Musical at church. I sang in the choir, Ryan played guitar. I don't know that we even had dinner together!
  • 2008--We splurged and spent TWO nights at the Route 66 Casino west of Albuquerque. We ate at all of the restaurants on site and enjoyed the great accommodations. We felt as thought we should gamble a bit, so I played a dollar in the nickel slots and won $10! Then I played some more... and finally cashed out a $4.90, I think! Oh, well! Still ahead of the game!
  • 2009--We celebrated a day early, took the kids to Miss Jacqui's (Landis too!) and got a room at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. Then we ate at a WONDERFUL restaurant in Old Town called Antiquity. The Green Chile Chicken Stew was incredible and the veal I had was amazing!! And then, today, we found out the GREAT NEWS that we will be planting a church in Olathe, KS!! We could not have asked for a better anniversary gift than the affirmation of our future!!
Thank you, Ryan, for 14 great years! I am blessed beyond measure to be married to you! Thank you for treating me like a queen and showing me what it means to live by faith! I love you!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Kids' Musical

A couple weeks ago Reed and Ashton were in the children's choir musical at church. It was called Simon Says, the trial of Simon Peter. His lawyers have to prove that Jesus was who he said he was, or Simon Peter would have to stop teaching about him. It was one of the cutest kids musicals I have seen!

The kids LOVED going to children's choir. This was Ashton's first semester to be in the preschool group, and Reed's second semester to be in the big kids choir. They will really miss it! This is one of my biggest regrets of leaving the church here.

Here is Reed's solo part. It's kind of hard to hear, but before the first one, the choir sings, "And what to my wondering eyes should appear?" You can also see how well he keeps up with the choreography--much better than in the fall!


video

Here is Reed as Lazarus. This was his favorite song because he didn't have to learn any of the choreography or sing! The preschoolers take the grave clothes off. They are not supposed to throw them, which is why he is trying to get them to stop! And I guess once during rehearsal they knocked him over they were being so "enthusiastic!"

video


Here is one of Ashton. She really got into this song, until the time I took this video. This was the last song during the second service, so I guess she was tired.


video

Monday, May 25, 2009

Going Public

There's something about going public with news that makes it seem real. I mean, if no one knows, then it may not really be happening. But it is. And now it's public. And it's really real.

We are moving.

Actually it isn't that easy. The words bring churning to my stomach, and a little bit of wet to my eyes (to quote Junie B.). I am not a bit fan of change. But I know when I must obey a calling.

I have actually known it was coming for years now. I knew that Ryan was not called to be a worship minister forever. Or at least not in the music ministry capacity. But I am one to ignore, or maybe just put off worry, until the time is imminent.

There was the usual discussion of dreams of the future on the trip back from Christmas with the family. But road trips do that to my husband, so I didn't worry. But this time he didn't unload these thoughts from his head when he unloaded the bags from the car. I could tell this time was different.

By mid-January, I was in full worry mode. Crying. Lots of crying. "What will the kids think? I am going to miss my two-headed shower. We have the best story-time lady 2 miles from our house. How can I leave all the people I love here? Were we ever really meant to be here? Oh, the humidity! My kids will have to learn to shut the door. What product will I use to keep the frizzies out of my hair? I love my grocery store. We have never gotten the house done where we wanted it. *groan* How will we ever get the house ready to go on the market? Man, I will miss the zoo. And Explora. Have I been holding my husband back because I don't like change? Reed will be so sad when he realizes he can't just go balloon chasing with Daddy on any early-October morning. How will we tell north from south again without the mountains in the east? The kids will really miss children's choir. (And so will I!) Are we really being called away? Didn't I just feel this way about leaving Arkansas? Why do I feel like I'm just getting settled here, getting to LOVE IT here, and it's time to go already?"

In late February, I came to a resolve: My husband has been given gifts to do explosive ministry to lost people in a hurting world. I wanted to see him set free to do great things for the Kingdom!! And I was willing to go anywhere to see that!

So, for a time, I was able to set the worry aside and be excited about the potential! I have even quit nay-saying. (I have always contended that was my job in our relationship!) One of my new answers is, "Yes, it's crazy, but I believe you would be the one who could do it!" Potential is a great place to live!

But now. Now it is public. Now it is real. Now it is imminent.

We are moving.

I am excited. I am sad. I am going.

Friday, May 22, 2009

God says to his church...

"Here's what I want you to do:  Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire.  Then you'll be rich.  But your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven.  You've gone around half-naked long enough.  And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.

"The people I love, I call to account--prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best.  Up on you feet, then!  About face!  Run after God!

"Look at me.  I stand at the door.  I knock.  If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you.  Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father.  That's my gift to conquerors!

"Are your ears awake?  Listen.  Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches"

(Revelation 3, The Message)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And Now on to the Good Stuff!!--Birthday Bliss!!

So after many years, Ryan really knows how to throw me a party!  He took care of me the whole day!
  • He took the kids to breakfast.  Now anyone who doesn't know me might think that sounds weird--shouldn't he take you to breakfast?  NO!!  Quiet house.  Sleeping in time!!  And then apparently, they went shopping
  • They brought home cake....  Butter cream frosting.  No explanation needed.  From a cake specialty shop.  Oh, yeah.
  • ...and Flowers.   Don't tell the kids, but I knew this was coming.  About a week ago, Reed found a craft in one of his Highlights magazines that he wanted to make for me.  He and Ashton (with Ryan's help) made flower baskets from large mailer envelopes.  Throughout the week either Reed or Ashton had spilled the beans more than once.  The other would screech their name in disgust, adding, "You're not supposed to tell!!"  I tried to act as if I hadn't heard anything.  Reed chose a nice colorful arrangement for his basket, that matched the colors he had decorated with.  Ashton chose pink and yellow roses (that's my girl)!!  
  • We celebrated with the kids for lunch.  At Itz.  It's like a Chuck E. Cheese on steroids.  And with better food.  I played the ball drop game and won 250 tickets!!
  • And got a babysitter for supper!!  We did take Landis and went to P.F. Chang's.  Mmmm Mmmm!  Got me some potstickers!
  • And then we went shopping.  He had also brought home some pre-paid Visas for my present earlier.  He was suspect that he might not get me what I would get me.  Well, he was right!!  First thing I went for was the Shark--the steam mop.  He said that he was glad I was getting it and glad that he did not buy it for me (because, of course, it plugs in)!  I also got a new purse/diaper bag, brown belt, and mini food processor.
  • Ended the day with cake.  Remember, butter cream icing.  Too good.  None of us could finish our piece.
  • He put the kids to bed!!  While I Skyped with my friend Jess.
Isn't he such a great guy!?!  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Week Ago...

Last week on Tuesday I was coming down with mastitis.  If you don't know what that is, suffice it to say it's a nursing infection.  Unpleasant, but nothing I haven't experienced with the other two.  The fever is usually the worst part for me.  Wrong!!  This time was much more painful and lasted forever!

At lunch I was fine; by 1:30 I was pretty sure I knew it was coming, even though my temp was still normal.  I immediately got on the phone with the doctor.  

It hit me so fast that I knew I did not have the strength to put Ashton down for a nap.  So while I got in the bath, Reed "read" her two stories ("Ash, you cannot choose just any story, because I only know how to read these!") and tried to get her to lay down.  When she wanted mama to hold her, he got a picture of me and Ryan from the wall, drew a picture of Ashton on a post-it, and stuck her in my arms.  Pretty good problem solving, I would say!!  But alas Ashton would not agree.  She really likes to get her way.  

Meanwhile Landis had (of course) awoken from his nap and was demanding attention.  I hobbled slowly out down the hall and carried him from his crib to a bouncy seat in Reed's room.  I said if he was fussy, Reed could move him from the seat to the floor if he was careful.  With a warning to Ashton to go to sleep, I went back to the bath.  It wasn't long before I could hear Landis was not content and Ashton was not in bed.  Oh, well I thought.  As long as the house isn't burning down....  

In a bit Reed came back to see if I had any ideas of what he could do to help Landis.  The only idea I had was to check his diaper.  "Maybe Ashton could help you," I suggested.  Changing diapers is Reed's worst fear in the world!!  He has not thought it was funny when we have suggested it in the past.  But, bless his heart!  He was willing to do it!!  So a few minutes later when I heard him yelling, "Ashton, you get in here right now!!" I knew the situation had deteriorated and needed my attention.  

So imagine my shock when Ashton is now in bed (avoiding the dirty diaper situation) and Landis is lying ON THE CHANGING TABLE!!  The diaper was changed.  I kissed Reed and cried just a bit when I saw that.  Then I asked two questions: "How did you do this?" (He laid him on the bed that backs up to the changing table, climbed up and then lifted him further)  and "Did Ashton see you do it?" (because that is the last thing I need her doing--thankfully the answer was no).

So, long story shorter, Ash finally took a nap once I promised her ice cream, and Ryan came home once the antibiotics were filled.  Thankfully the kids were taken care of the next two days by other loving people.  I was flat on my back for 3 days and finally had to go back to the doctor and get a second antibiotic!   Yuck! 

Feeling much better now though....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Laundry Lessons

So I have decided I am fed up with doing everyone's laundry.  So I have started Reed on his own!  It may be a bit soon to set him free on the task, but it certainly was nice to at least have him working on it, too!  He will do it once every week and a half, and it will be a money chore for him, so I don't feel too bad.  (One Whole Dollar!)  

I walked him through the process last week, with little trouble.  But he was very concerned after opening the dryer when the first load was completed!  I had cleaned out the lint trap really well before this load (because there were literally ROCKS in my DRYER!  another blog....) and this load was a lot of jeans and stuff like that.  So when there was no visible lint in the trap, he exclaimed, "OH NO!  My clothes didn't get clean!!!" 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kindergarten is the New First Grade

I have been dealing with a lot of guilt lately.  Guilt over facebooking.  Guilt over laundry.  But mostly guilt over homeschooling.  I'm pretty sure this is part of the process, so I have sought out the appropriate people seeking counsel and reassured myself as best I can.  But I got perhaps the best reassurance tonight from a sister with no knowledge of my need!  

Sue is a recently retired life-long teacher, many of those years in Kindergarten.  She exudes teaching (and encouragement, for that matter) and has always been inspiring to talk with, when I was teaching in public school, and now as a homeschooling mom.  Also, her husband is a college professor, who tells it just like it is, with the driest sense of humor ever!

Sue sent out an email about a preschool that she had observed recently and her assessment of it.  It is a school that uses the child-centered Reggio Approach, which sounds very free flowing and process-oriented.  There is also an emphasis on art.  I was interested in what she saw there, but I was really encouraged by her thoughts about it.  The ideas brought forth really helped me hone my own philosophy of education.  So here it is! 
  • Never underestimate the importance of play!!!!  I am always shocked to hear how little play is used in education anymore.  Even Kindergarten classrooms are getting rid of their kitchen sets and trading them in for more books and pencils.  Yes, they can read by the end of the year, but is this what we want????  (See next point!)  My children love the dirt pile in the yard right now and what they are learning cannot be measured on a worksheet, but perhaps only by the volume of what is brought in in their pockets and shoes!!  [Sidenote:  Yesterday in her long pink Easter dress, Ashton comes to Reed with great excitement about the product of the rain here: "REED, there is LOTS of MUD out there!" *eyebrows raised, head nodding*]
  • Earlier does not mean smarter!!!   I began teaching in public school ten years ago this spring.  I taught only 4 years and left before my first sweetie was born.  I feel that Kindergarten has changed since then to what I was teaching in first grade.  As more and more pressure is put upon teachers (and America) to produce, we are upping the standards for the children (not to mention the useless work load on teachers) because some politician believes it's a good idea.  This is one of the main reasons I have chosen to homeschool: I do not want my children forced into learning things too early!!  The foundations of education are undermined when we impose academics too young!  The children observed by Sue were being taught the process of thinking, self-directing, and problem solving.  Sue's husband pointed out that these were not skills he sees in his college students! 
  • Information has to be meaningful to be educational!!  If there's anything the show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" shows, it's that we bombard our students with countless pieces of useless information in their formative years.  Without meaning, information will be not be retained long-term.  We are not training our children to someday be on Jeopardy, or to top the trivia board a B Dubs!  We should be training them to meet the challenges of an ever-changing society and the problems that arise therein.  Information should be used as a means to an end.
  • Process is more important than product!!!  Okay, I have to remind myself of this often!  The learning is happening throughout the project, which is not always evident in the finished product!  The kids got a 3"x 3" canvas black-line picture with paints and a brush for Christmas.  When Ashton finished hers, it was all black, no picture remotely visible, and she was as happy as she could be with it!!  But her little brain had processed and categorized the mixing of colors and the feel of the paint (yes, she ditched the brush early on!) for use at a later time.  That was the education.  
  • True education is a slow process (sometimes painfully so)!!  I chose a phonics program based on recommendation, research, and instinct.  It emphasizes making sure the child enjoys the learning of phonics and says don't be afraid of the two-minute lesson (yikes!).  So in three months, I was so bored!  And I had in the back of my head the mom who said her public-schooled Kindergartner was reading by the end of the year.  So I rushed it juuuuust a bit, and he was totally frustrated.  So I had to back it off for a while and when we came back to it, it seemed to click. He's not reading books, but he is reading a few words, which is boosting his confidence and heightening his awareness.  Yay!  My boredom (and, frankly, my ego) is worth his success! 
  • Art is way more important that we give it credit!  Sue said that art was a step in many of the processes she saw happening.  I have known this, but too often allow the clean-up or the process itself to scare me out of it, or at least put it off till another day (and another, and another...)!  And perhaps this reminder will help me better deal with the endless number of papers (some products, but many in process) I pick up daily in the name of free expression!  I have mentally threatened to get rid of that paper box many times!
So I'm giving up the guilt and relaxing about the academics!  I will continue to "have school" daily, but without the pressure of what we should know by the end of the year.  And I'm bringing out the paints!  There!  I said it!  And the more dirt on the kitchen floor, the bet---the bett-.... Okay, I can't take it that far!  :)  I'm still the janitor, too!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pop Quiz

So we knew it was coming--I mean, we did when we signed up to be parents.  However, there was no syllabus handed to us that we could reference and study for the test.  Nope!  It was just a pop quiz!  And I have the feeling that this will not be the last one!

I was always a pretty good student growing up.  I absorbed information pretty well, so when it came to reproducing it as answers on a quiz, or better yet, an essay, I enjoyed the thrill of the challenge.  (A bit dorky, I guess.)  I never felt that stereotypical dread that others felt.  No lurch of the heart, drop in my stomach.  Until tonight, that is.

It began with a passing comment, "Hailey and I told some of the kids at choir."  Honestly, I don't know if he had said something leading up to this or if this was the beginning of it.  "What?"  I asked.  "I can't tell you," he replied, with a kid-like mysteriousness.  I, like most people faced with a pop quiz, offered a brief prayer.

Now I know it's a bit dramatic, but I fast forwarded life about 10 years.  I felt like this conversation could set up a lifetime of conversations that I have hoped would be open.  Conversations where I would keep my cool and he would calmly share whatever teenage burdens he was carrying at the time.  I also figured that, most likely, tonight we were talking about the big K word.

While Ryan and I were both involved in the conversation, we had not prepped for this and we were not aware of the rules in this pop quiz.  Is it open book?  Can we collaborate on our approach?  To us it seemed like it was shoot from the hip, so that's what we did.  With a few leading questions we understood that something had happened in the tree house at her grandma's house when we were there for dinner last week.  We also understood that "Ashton knows.  She was kind of involved" (emphasis added).  Although, judging from the blank look on Ashton's face, she did not know she was involved.  We knew that they had locked the treehouse door and did NOT want her older brother to know about it.  However, he was still unwilling to tell us the details.  

When we asked, do you want us to know, he told us it was really just for kids to know.  I told him we were both kids once, but that didn't seem to impress him.  So we went the humor approach.  Did you bake cookies?  A cake?  Finally Ryan go to the meat of the issue.  Did it involve your lips?  Well, kind of.

Now we were a bit confused, but persisted until he was ready to spill the beans.  Ashton was supposed to whisper it to Daddy while Reed whispered it to me, so I was really getting a scoop.  Well...

We don't believe the ceremony was binding, and apparently there were no rings exchanged, and the kiss was only on the cheek!  Thank goodness!  And he has no intentions of moving out or getting a job, so it appears our little boy will be with us just a few more years!  

However, we know he is little only right now.  Tomorrow will be another story.  

And we will have to really study up for the next time.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's A Trip!

In the classic writing style of the school newspaper genre, let me tell you some of the highlights (and lowlights) from our recent trip to Missouri.  Here are the "Boos" and "Whoo-Hoos." 

Whoo-Hoo:  Seeing many precious family members:  both sets of Grandparents; Uncle Troy, Aunt Tammy, Aaron, & Michaela; Aunt Jess; Uncle Lance, Aunt Pam, Garret, Noah, & Maleea.

Boo:  Having just not quite enough time with any of them.
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Whoo-Hoo:  Biblically sound preaching and thought-provoking words to chew on for awhile.
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Boo:  Missed nap times and late bedtimes many, many days in a row.

Whoo-Hoo:  Convention provided child-care during the day for Ash and in the evenings for both.  (They're always better for someone else!)
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Boo:  A Tornado Warning with a panicked five-year-old and a hungry three-year-old (but a very smiley baby).

Whoo-Hoo:  A basement to go to and several calls of warning and concern.  And the all clear to go eat supper!
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Whoo-Hoo:  Surprising my friend Boo by just showing up on the doorstep!  And being welcomed into a house with fresh baked cookies and a playful kid-friendly environment!
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Whoo-Hoo:  Staying up late into the night with the Shacks, just like old times!

Boo:  Realizing we are not as young as we used to be!
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Whoo-Hoo:  Going to church at New Springs, a church we invested ourselves into in its beginning, and seeing the work continuing.  God is so faithful!
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Whoo-Hoo:  Elk City Holidome!  Swimming, mini-golf, shuffleboard, good eats...

Boo:  Hearing ourselves delve into the this-is-a-privilege-to-stay-in-a-place-like-this-and-your-attitude-needs-to-change speech....  More than once.
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Boo:  The last day of driving.  You know what I mean.

Whoo-Hoo:  Seeing most of the NACSCAR teams driving back from Las Vegas!  A very good way to pass the time!
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Whoo-Hoo:  Home, sweet, home!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Humor

So I've had a hard time getting back into the blogging swing of things, so I thought I'd start out slow.  Here are some fun things from my kids.

Reed is learning the art of humor.  The other night Ryan exclaimed at dinner, "We have a good life!  Don't you forget it!"  Reed waited a few moments and then said, "What was that you just said?" (because he'd "forgotten!")  I laughed so hard.

While Ashton hasn't mastered how to tell a joke, she's still pretty funny.  Reed had asked her for a piece of tape.  (I gave them both their own roll of tape and said when it's gone it's gone.  Reed's is already gone.)  Once he got one piece from her he asked for "just one more."  She said, "Nope, you can only have one."  As he walked away, she tried to console him.  "Sowwy, Wittle Fewwa."  (Sorry, little fella!)  

Landis must know that his siblings are funny.  He's all smiles lately.  We sure are enjoying that!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where has the blogger gone?

Well, it's been a bit since you've heard from me. Why?

Okay, A. Hadababyitsaboy. (I've always wanted to use that! Remember the commercial?) Landis (finally) blessed our life on December 12th. Come thou long expected...uh...son.
  • Yes, I labored for 20 hours for this one! Longest labor by far! Had several emotional breakdowns along the way. When I first held him in my arms, I said, "You are in so much trouble!"
  • Since then he's tried to make it up to me. He's very good and tolerant of his loving big brother and sister. Ashton calls him our "real alive baby." He loves me so much that he can't stand not to see me in the middle of the night, too.
  • He and I shared a special honor by playing baby Jesus and Mary in the Christmas Eve service at church. He was very sweet in his movements and slept while we were on stage.
and, 2. My PC is being laid to rest. If there ever is a good time for your computer to die, it's when you don't really have time to use it and should be resting instead of being on facebook!
  • The good news is that Ryan had all the pictures I feared lost downloaded on his computer! Yea!
  • And we are finally making the transition to Mac. We ordered yesterday and should get it sometime next week! So forgive me if it takes a while to learn it!
So there are many blogs in my head. Some will make it here, hopefully soon. Some will stay in my head (for good reason). A few are already lost forever (to the sleep deprivation)! So if you haven't given up on me, see you again soon!