Monday, August 11, 2014

Camping Weekend 2014

                       Payson, AZ
First Weekend in August
We went camping with some friends of Lowell - there were about 30 people total. It was nice to get out of the heat and to see some nature! The kids remarked on how nice it was to see some green and also to climb on rocks, smell the trees and to look for animals. We saw elk tracks and scat and hawks, squirrels and free range cows. We were told there are bald eagles that fly around the lake, but we didn't see any.
  Nathan loved climbing on the rocks and exploring and made some new friends. They caught crawdads, played army, and were just "boys" for the weekend. Also, Lowell bought himself a knife for the trip and then ended up giving it to Nathan. Its a really nice Gerber knife with a flint and sharpener included. Its a "survivor" knife and Nathan absolutely loved it! The boys whittled sticks and practiced making fire.
At the lake, the water was pretty cold and there wasn't a very good place to swim. Lowell jumped in just to enjoy the cool while Chloe, Jillian and Wyatt threw rocks in the water and Nathan caught crawdads.

It rained quite a bit on our trip but our group was very well prepared. While it rained, we played cards and games or read books. The kids ran around and played or hunted for firewood or the perfect s'more stick. One of the other families has a 3 year old little girl who Wyatt played with but he was the entertainment for the whole group. Everyone talked about how cute he is and how silly. Actually, they commented on how good our children are, period. How good they are with each other and how well behaved they are. That makes a mom's heart proud. :) Love them so much.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day

Finale at Youngker High School
Me and my babies


Thankful for our independence
Love of my ife
 As is our tradition, we spent our 4th of July at the neighborhood family fun day at the high school down the street. The kids played red light/green light in the field, ran around, did gymnastics and played with each other. Nathan saw his girlfriend and got teased about it for the rest of the night and we sang along with the local band. They were actually pretty good! :)
The day before the 4th we had a huge monsoon storm and there were threats on Friday as well but the night turned out beautiful and mild. Wyatt loved the fireworks this year and clapped after each one. The evening was relaxing and fun -- a perfect celebration of our freedom and a reminder of how lucky we are to be Americans.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Its Been Awhile

To update everyone on our lives from September until now seems a little daunting but I'm going to try to at least hit the highlights. Here goes:

October: Halloween, of course. The three younger kids dressed up and went trick-or-treating and even tried out a neighborhood haunted house. Pumpkinology was a day at school in Jillian's class where the subjects were focused on pumpkins. Science and math, reading stories about pumpkins and, of course, gutting them to prepare them for metamorphosis into jack-o-lanters. I was thrilled to be able to spend the day with her. Unfortunately, October was also when Jillian broke 3 bones in her foot by falling off the balance beam. Chloe was blessed by a 5th grade field trip to Catalina. If you watched GMA during October, you may have seen the story on the giant oar fish that washed up on the beach -- she was there and got to see it as well as all the media coverage. Pretty cool! :)


November: Nathan's turn for an awesome field trip. His class went to Astro Camp outside Palm Springs and had a great time.Chloe and I went to state gymnastics meet to get a feel for competition since she'll soon be Level 3 and asked to be part of the competitive team. She wanted to see what it was like and was encouraged by what she saw. Of course, November ends with Thanksgiving and we spent this year's in our OWN HOME. :) It was quiet and nice. And we continued our tradition of decorating the house for Christmas.


Chloe and her friend Maranda playing the violin
The kids with Santa at SWFAC
December: Christmas, of course and all the things that go along with it: the Buckeye Christmas parade and the kids' concerts. New this year was the Winter Wonderland at the advocacy center where I work - SWFAC. It was a program put on for the children who were victims who came through the center this year. The kids came and volunteered with me; Nathan helped with the cake walk, Chloe worked in the card making room and Jillian helped with making the gingerbread houses. December ended with Lowell's birthday and New Years. Both were days we took full advantage of having my dad here as a willing babysitter and went out together.


January: January was a big month. First was my birthday and we spent the whole day together at the zoo where we had a lot of fun and I got pooped on by a bird. Then, on the 13th I learned I was losing my job. The non-profit I have worked for had decided to close our program and that we would all be out of work by the end of June. I spent most of the last two weeks of the month in shock.



Jillian and her choir teacher

February: And then spent the first weeks of February taking care of a custody case for some kids I'd been seeing. I went to court and testified on their behalf; first time I've done that and it was terrifying but it felt great to know I could help. Jillian had a shopping day at school to learn about sales and I was able to help her man her finger-nail painting station. They were given monopoly money to shop with, sold their products, and then calculated their profit and loss statements.

March: The 15th was Jillian's birthday and since she wanted a pool party, we just had a small family gathering and postponed her actual party until the weather warms up. We also did a Community clean-up that Wyatt still talks about it. We went up to an area previously used for an informal shooting range and picked up trash. The whole family went, even Grandpa and we all had a good time. Spring break happened in March and was pretty uneventful but the talent show was a big adventure. Chloe and Jillian both participated in the event - Chloe doing an original gymnastics routine with her friend and Jillian singing a solo as well as performing with Show Choir. They both did a great job and worked on overcoming their stage fright.

Jordan in the hospital. Day 1
April: April was a very eventful month, especially for Chloe. I chaperoned her field trip to ASU where we went to the planetarium and space exhibit; she was promoted to level 3 in gymnastics and invited to be part of the competitive team, and her cat, Max, had to have surgery due to an infected bite by what was probably another cat. I was also incredibly busy in April. I found a new job with a company called Crisis Preparation and Recovery (CPR) and had my last day at my Glendale location. I started working part time with A New Leaf until the final location closes at the end of June and part time for CPR at the site in Glendale. Easter was a fun family day where we spent time at church and our tradition of hiding eggs here at the house but the most memorable event of April was Jordan's accident. Jordan was driving his motorcycle up one of our roads and a truck turned in front of him. He didn't have time to stop and was thrown over the bed of the truck. He had surgery on his right arm and was in a drug induced coma for a short period of time. All told, he broke his scapula, nose, wrist, and sternum; had a compound fracture on his right arm where they inserted a rod and pins, and a deep gash on his right knee. He currently has had his cast removed and is going to begin physical therapy. The prognosis is that he may have permanently lost the ability to completely rotate his hand - palm up - palm down, but that it shouldn't significantly affect his quality of life. Otherwise, they believe he should be fine.
Chloe with her 5th grade award
Nathan with his camo birthday cake
Jillian with her teacher




















May: Because of the end of school and holidays mainly, May was another extremely busy month. Nathan's birthday was celebrated just with the family because he is also going to celebrate his birthday by going paintballing over the summer. Chloe's birthday was here at home and small because she is going to take some friends to Jump Street. Mother's day was special because the kiddos made me some gifts and I got a card. Events celebrating the end of the school year included the kid's awards ceremonies, concerts, Jillian's Multiplication MathFacts Bee (in which she placed 7th) and Chloe's Amazing Race Day. We also learned both Chloe and Nathan were accepted into the honor's program. Unfortunately, May was also when I learned my friend, Lorraine has bladder cancer. She had surgery last week to remove the tumor and the prognosis is very good; at this point, they don't even think she'll need chemo. Prayers for her are appreciated!

June: As for June, on the 9th Jillian had her tonsils removed and has been recovering ever since. She's anxiously awaiting the day she can eat regular food and sing and swim. We've got a check-up with the doctor on the 25th to get her clean bill of health. Wyatt had his 3rd birthday on the 6th and we had a bar-b-que and swim party with some friends. Since Chloe had such success making Nathan's camo cake that she decided to make a "Bee-do" cake for Wyatt. (Bee-do is what Wyatt calls the minions on Despicable Me). It was adorable and Wyatt loved it. Father's day, our anniversary and Jordan's 21st birthday were all on the same day this year so we had more cake - Chloe made one for Jordan too - and a quiet evening at home. Lowell and I went to the hot springs and out to dinner to celebrate later in the week.


This is by no means an exhaustive narrative of our past 9 months but it basically gets everyone caught up on our lives thus far. :) Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us! Hopefully I'll be better at keeping this thing up to date from now on.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hollywood Weekend

We went to the beach!!!! All courtesy of a trip I had to take for work, the Trent clan got to experience the majesty of the ocean for the first time in 10 years. The last time I was able to run through the sand or stand in the waves was when Nathan was just a little younger than Wyatt is now. Lowell and I took Moron (Auntie RaRa) to the ocean for her birthday. Obviously then, none of my children have ever been to the beach. Until now!!!

Tuesday I flew to LA with two of my co-workers, Nancy and Mike. Mike's wife Lorraine also traveled with us. We were sent to Holly-wood to attend the annual National Sexual Assault Prevention Convention, The convention was Wednesday, Thursday and half of Friday so I spent Wednesday and Thursday going to workshops and hanging out with my co-workers. Then, Lowell and the kiddos arrived at the hotel on Thursday night. They were pooped from driving all day but I was so excited to see them! And they were thrilled to be staying in a "fancy" hotel. :)
The sleeping arrangements were tight: Lowell took the bed right next to the air conditioner with Nathan next to him; the girls and I took the other bed and Tubbs got his own place on the floor made out of comforters and his blankets. Surprisingly we all slept well!
Our hotel was just down the hill from Universal Studios and CityWalk so we spent Thursday evening walking around and sight-seeing. We explored a fancy candy store, say movie artifacts and drank smoothies. We even found a restaurant and bowling alley named "Jillians". :)  
Friday morning we drove over to the hotel for my last workshop, walked around the Chinese Theater and put our hands in some of the star's handprints, admired some of the Stars on the Walk of Fame and watched some street performers.

And then headed for Santa Monica! The weather was beautiful and calm and the drive over was easy. We parked right on the beach and started the trek to the water. There was a lovely sail boat out on the horizon and the kids kept calling it a pirate ship!
Wyatt wasn't at all thrilled with how warm the sand was, and honestly, it was burning the spaces between my toes too! So, Lowell and I ended up carrying him most of the way to the shore. We threw down the blanket Lowell had packed and I took the bigger kids to the water. The Biggies dove right in. They waded out into the waves, they "surfed" the waves coming in, they tried to swim, I taught them to dig for sand crabs and they looked for sea shells.
Wyatt was a very different story.

He wanted nothing to do with the water. He wanted nothing to do with the sand. He wasn't interested in building sand castles and would not even put his feet on the ground anywhere near the water. What he did want to do was watch the sea gulls, the other children, the boats and the helicopters that were patrolling the beach. So, bless his heart, Lowell stayed on the blanket with Wyatt the entire time we were at the beach and watched the rest of us frolick in the water.
The traffic going out of town was not nearly as accommodating as the drive to the beach. (Everything about LA is about leaving it, right?) So, we rumbled along in traffic with about half a million other people who were leaving LA for the Labor Day weekend. Our original plan was to hit Cabazon on the way home Friday and just get into Buckeye late that night. With the traffic delay however, it turned out that we needed to get a hotel room in California and then hit the dinosaurs Saturday morning. We stayed at a little hole in the wall motel and listened to a rain storm that evening. It was peaceful and relaxing.
Notice how small they look under his belly
and in his toes!
Saturday morning, true to his word, Lowell took the kids to explore the dinosaurs at Cabazon. For those of you not familiar with California tourist attractions, there is a large Tyrannosaurus Rex and a brontosaurs-like dinosaur on the side of the highway between two fast food places. It is nearly the middle of nowhere, but makes for a nice rest stop.


One feature of the dinosaur place is being able to climb up into the TRex and look out into the distance. You can also go inside the brontosaurus where the gift shop is located. Behind the statues, there is a separate area filled with many more dinosaurs, a rock panning area, another gift shop and a couple mechanical dinosaurs the smaller children can ride on.
We all panned for rocks, Lowell took the kids up in the TRex and we walked the nature trails around looking at what it would have been like to see dinosaurs in the "wild". There was also an area filled with sand for the kids to dig for "bones" like archeologists. If they found a rock, they got a small toy from the gift shop. (Chloe found about 6!)
These last few pictures are the kids posing next to their "favorite" dinosaurs. I couldn't even begin to name them, but I think my kiddos are adorable! :)
Kind of cheesy, but fun. :)

As if that wasn't enough to squeeze into a weekend, on the way home we decided to drive around Palm Springs. We drove around and looked at the homes and neighborhoods and then stopped at a park.
I'm used to heat - Buckeye is hot. But Palm Springs was MISERABLE! And it was only about 102 degrees! It was so humid that it was oppressive. The kids were happy to run around, but everyone got tired of the stickiness pretty quickly and then we were back in the van. We drove up to see the aerial tram that takes people to top of the Jacinto mountains -- about 8500 feet at its peak. We would have loved to take that trip, but we hadn't budgeted for that expense for this trip -- next time for sure!
Such a blessing to spend this time with my family. Love these guys!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Adventures in the Trent Household

From the past few months:

Jillian was involved in a dance program at the local community center. At the end of the 8 week class, there was a big performance from all the classes in our area. She did a great job and even had a solo part in her dance -- she cartwheeled across the stage! We loved watching her and presenting her with a little bouquet of roses afterward.



The newest member of our family. Echo came home with us unexpectedly after a trip to the mall. My dad decided he wanted a pet to keep him company. She is lovable and completely devoted to him, following him wherever he goes. She loves to fetch and play tug of war and chase the cats. That last part we're still working on... I can't tell you how many times I've had to get a cat out of a tree since Echo came to live with us, lol.


Wearing his favorite shirt -- a monster
face that says "happy" under it.
Wyatt turned 2! And how did he celebrate his birthday?? With a visit from his great grandma "Grammie" and his great-great grandma "Mamoo"!!!! Mamie turned 90 on the 19th of June and her one wish for her birthday was to come down to Arizona to see us! So, she and Grammie loaded up in the car and drove on down for a few days. It was great to see them and to have the kids get to spend time with their beloved grandmas. I covered that a little in the previous post. One of Mamie's favorite adventures was when we went to the pool so the Biggies could show off their mad swimmin' skills and so Wyatt could scare everyone with how much he loves to throw himself into the water. There's no fear of water with that kid, that's for sure! :)
I love this picture, taken at the bead store.
Grammie and I took advantage of the time together to go through my closet and create outfits for me to wear to work; she knows I can't wrap my head around a "professional" me. She cleaned my sewing machine and gave Chloe her first sewing lesson and also let me use her Costco card for some bulk shopping too! We went to a bead store and then took Chloe to a free session at one of the local gymnastics gyms. Mamie and Grammie loved watching her use her skills and try new things during her trial session. She has such a love for gymnastics!

Since the grandmas left, Chloe has started going to Flame gym 2 hours a week. She began in level 2 and is already working on her skills to be promoted to level 3!
Jillian wants to take the tumbling class Chloe took through the community center so I think we'll start her in that once school starts back up. For now though, she's busy with swimming lessons! While I'm at work, my dad takes the kiddos to the pool for Jillian's lesson and then sometimes stays to let everyone swim. It has been such a blessing having him around this summer.


Lead singer of Everclear
We're even spending some time together just the two of us! Last weekend, for example, he talked me into going to my first rock concert. It was 90s rock -- Sponge, Filter, Live and Everclear and I was surprised as how many of the songs were familiar to me. It was loud and kind of small but we had a good time together. :) And I think I might download some Live from iTunes.....

Sack races
For the 4th of July, we went to the local  Buckeye fireworks at Youngker high school.  It was a quiet, fun afternoon. The kids participated in the sack races, the water balloon toss and played tag and catch in the grass. We ate watermelon provided by the Lions Club and then enjoyed the fireworks. Last year Hubba slept through them and I was looking forward to him enjoying them a little more this year. Instead, he watched about 4 explosions and then turned over on my chest and fell asleep. It was a fun family evening that reminded me of why 4th of July is my second favorite holiday. There is no pressure to cook or buy presents, no frantic running from here to there... There family, and taking time to be thankful for our freedoms and our blessings.


Blessed




Milestone


June 19th, 1923
My great-grandmother was born on this date 90 years ago. A couple weeks ago, she and my grandma drove down to Buckeye to spend a few days with my family. That was her wish - the only present she wanted for her 90th birthday was to spend time with the Trents. We had a glorious 4 days together. We drove around so she could see all the places associated with our family's busy life - the kid's schools, our workplaces, church, the local Walmart... We ate dinner together, the 9 of us and laughed and talked and looked at old pictures. The kids showed off their rooms, their school awards and shared stories about their daily lives.
Many of you know that I was raised by my Great-Grandma - affectionately known as Mamie. Even at 90, Mamie still lives independently, drives herself around and is the head of volunteers at the hospital in San Andreas. She volunteers 2-3 days a week there and is in charge of training all new volunteers. She also works with my grandma making jewelry which they sell at a time share in Angels Camp each Friday evening. While at my house, she insisted on mopping my kitchen floor and helped me with some laundry. She is quite amazing in her ability to flourish even at 90 years old.
Lowell and I marvel thinking about how much she has seen in her 90 years. The birth of indoor plumbing, electricity, and telephones. The progression of buggies to automobiles to airplanes and technology! from cell phones to computers, she has managed to evolve with the times. Admittedly however, she only has a "dumb" cell phone and no real understanding of the Internet.
She was born at the end of the Depression, lived and traveled west during the Dust Bowl, married and lost her husband in World War 2, spent time as a single working mother in the 40s and 50s and then remarried and raised a blended family, helped raise my own mother, took in my father and then raised me.
An accomplished life, a lasting legacy and still more memories to come.
Happy Birthday Mamie! We love you very much and can't wait to see what this coming year brings!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Summer Reading


Epiphany: My lack of blogging stems from a lack of reading. It is almost as though I had used up all my words, I was running on empty and was not refilling my tank with the words, phrases and diction of others. It was like I couldn't express my own thoughts without having fodder to pull from. I love the written word. There are some authors who I read and just marvel over certain sentences or paragraphs. I cry, I giggle or I read and re-read just to soak in the ebb and flow of how the author has so perfectly captured a scene, a conversation or an emotion...
Without this influx of expression, and with the constant need for communication in my world, I guess I grew verbally emaciated. Blogging was too arduous a task.
Until now.

I've been going through our belongings and sorting, purging and cleaning. During this process I sorted my books into three piles - those I've read but still want to hang on to; research, counseling, Biblical studies, etc; and those I haven't read. I packed the non-fiction pile and most of the "books to keep" pile but created a tower out of the other - Need to read. I used an old CD rack I found while going through my mom's belongings so I now have a stack nearly as tall as myself sitting by my bed, encouraging me to tackle this buffet of words.
So far, I've made it through 7.
And the difference in how I feel is amazing. I'm refreshed and I feel like I can be creative again. I don't know if my schedule will allow me to blog as frequently as I have in the past, but I certainly hope the stretches between posts won't be nearly as long as they have been!
One positive change that will enable me to be a more prolific writer is that we will soon be blessed with high-speed Internet! :) I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am about this development! Its been almost 3 years that we've gone without Internet at home and it has certainly been an inconvenience. This will also allow me to post pictures much more easily -- something that previous kept me from posting. I would write stories or updates but then never post them due to the inability to attach photos.
 Of the books I've read so far this summer I have a clear favorite and one that I would like to recommend to EVERYONE!!!!!!!! The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I found it at Target because it was one of their "book club recommendations" but its on Amazon too, of course. The story follows a young girl who was in the foster care system in the San Francisco valley area of California. The book flops back and forth between present day and the girl's past. The story is so engaging and the character is so well written... I fell in love with the main character and her struggles to maintain relationships in the midst of hurt and fear. 5 stars. :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

17 years

Yesterday was my 13th wedding anniversary, that makes 17 years together. The day began as usual, Lowell got up at 4am and left for work and then I rose at 6 to leave for my own 10 hour day. The kiddos were to stay home with Grandpa but they had another plan in mind. The girls convinced me to let them go to work with me. There is a second office at one of our centers that is only used one day a week and so, yesterday, it was occupied by my two middle minions.

The girls were great. They made up skits; they drew and colored; they played Hide&GoSeek with one eye closed, the lights off, and hopping on one foot (there aren’t many hiding options in a small office). Having them at work with me also opened up a conversation about sexual abuse. We have had many conversations about staying safe, not keeping secrets, etc. but yesterday was just another in a long stream of conversations that I am thankful to be having with the kids. Knowledge is power and the freedom to talk about scary and embarrassing topics is priceless.

At home, Lowell and I made dinner and then prepped the bruschetta for tonight’s dinner as well. Then I made smoothies for his breakfasts for the next couple days and we watched the kids play with the dog, wrestle and race Mario Karts.

I love the organized chaos that is our life. But I’m looking forward to some changes that are on the horizon… More on those to come…

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Think I Can, I Think I Can...

Nothing brings me greater joy than to watch my children succeed. I could sit for hours watching them do something they enjoy. The way their faces light up with pride at each accomplishment, they way they search the crowd for my reaction, my clapping hands, my smile and nod of approval, or every so often, my yelp of excitement. Sometimes my joy is just too much to contain. My dad was watching me the other day as I watched one of the kiddos and he said it was just as entertaining to watch me as it was to watch his grandchild. He said I flinched, leaned, rocked and jumped; my toes curled and I smiled constantly.

I am so blessed that I have children who are willing to try. They don’t always succeed, and I wouldn’t want them to. When they fail, it is my desire that I am teaching them to find the message, the lesson, in their mistake and to show themselves grace. To accept they are not perfect and to move on.

What I find humorous is that when I find a “soapbox” to stand upon, it inevitably becomes apparent that I need to be looking in the mirror from high upon my soapbox. That I should be treating myself with the same grace I preach about to my children and should be finding joy and successes whenever and wherever I can.

My children actually argue with me – they use the “can’t” word. I hate that word. Whenever it comes up in a conversation I repeat it to them.

Child: “Mom, I can’t do it!”
Me: Can’t?
C: No, I can’t! I tried it already and I can’t!!
M: Can’t?
C: (By now, they’ve gotten used to this part – it used to go on at least two or three more “can’ts”) No, I tried and it didn’t work!
M: Try again.
C: But I can’t.
M: Can’t?
C:Uggg!

And then they go try again. I watch and give a suggestion if necessary but usually they’re so frustrated at me for being unwilling to accept they can’t do something that they do it.  Then I smile and walk away. Or laughingly throw in a “Told you. *wink wink*”

I’m hoping to extinguish the word “can’t” from their vocabulary but I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that my children can actually do whatever they try. There are some tasks that take time to master – and some they will never accomplish, but I refuse to let them believe they should give up without putting in the necessary effort. Or to believe they will fail before they even try.

In these instances, my job is harder; to encourage hard work and to point out successes and improvements. To do this, I have to be present, to pay attention, to be sincere. And the hardest for me, to sit back and watch them fail. To be okay with their failures and in so doing, to hopefully teach them to be okay with their failures too.

And maybe even to learn from them to be okay with mine.

Thoughts on an April Morning


This morning I took 3 beautiful, healthy children to a safe, free, successful school in my relatively new, still under warranty van. Then I spent time with my beautiful, healthy baby sharing our daily conversation about where the kids went, where Daddy is and where Grandpa is. We also talked about the world around us – plane sightings, dogs, neighbors and fire trucks especially – childlike wonder is contagious.

Then home to our safe, relatively clean, smelling-like-muffins-from-breakfast house filled with the things we love and the pictures that remind us of the people and times we cherish .

In my hand I hold a connection to my husband, my email, my bank account, my photos, my playlist and my entertainment of choice – Pinterest and Chickionary. I can connect with childhood friends and become nostalgic over my contact list; I know she’s gone, I just can’t bring myself to delete it.

Later, after running and a shower, I’ll head to work where I am trusted with the intimate secrets, shame and hopes of people who have been hurt by life but are choosing to work through their pain and step back into the light. Their task is hard and I am fortunate to help them on their journey and privileged to celebrate with them.

 

How blessed am I?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another Update

Its been over a month since I've posted here. As is typical of me, I tend to shy away from people when I feel life isn't going how I think it should go. I should all over myself a lot actually. How I should feel, should react, should parent, should look... The list goes on but for brevity's sake, I'll stop there. Along with my should-ing, I've been talking and crying and pressing on. Parenting, loving, fighting, failing and trying. I would rather talk about my babies at this point because I'm just so done thinking about myself, but I wanted to offer some sort of reason for my prolonged absence.

Nathan - My eldest still has his heart set on joining the military after high school. He also still wants to be a doctor. In February, he's going to a program that provides kids with the opportunity to learn about flight. They will be incorporating physics and math into a fun day where the students will use a flight simulator, experience a wind tunnel and actually practice landing a plane using our own skyline - he will be able to land a plane at Phoenix SkyHarbor airport. He's very excited about it and I think his dreams about his future may change after this experience. We'll see.
For the first time in his educational career, Nathan is beginning to realize what life has been like for his classmates for years -- he actually has come upon information that he needs to study in order to retain. This has caught him quite by surprise and made for some stressful days and teary nights when he received a couple grades he was less than happy with. Additionally, we're still dealing with the chronic stress and now, he's scheduled for an optometrist appointment because he's been having headaches and has been blinking non-stop for the past week or so. I'm also going to meet with his teachers this week because I have a couple suggestions for things we can do about the stress.

Chloe - I would estimate that about 50% of Chloe's life is spent upside down. When she's at school, of course, her options are limited, but at home, the wheels come off. She doesn't walk from the bedroom to the fridge, she cartwheels. And the couches are not for sitting, they serve a variety of purposes all related to somehow catapulting herself onto her hands or into a flip or somersault or some other way to maneuver her body so that she is not standing upright.
She's still doing well in school although we had some struggles with test anxiety earlier in the year. She's been working on it and has kind of found her groove with studying which has helped tremendously. Last weekend she and Jillian went to an all day cheerleading workshop and they will be performing during half-time for the high school basketball team. In addition to gymnastics and cheer, Chloe is a member of the choir at school and is auditioning for the talent show tomorrow. She is going to sing a JJ Heller song, "What Love Really Means" because (in her words), she likes that song and maybe it will touch someone in the crowd. She never ceases to amaze me. Her heart is so big.


Jillian - At 7, the youngest of the "biggies", Jillian plays an interesting role in our family. She alternates between wanting to be big and wanting to be the baby, never quite satisfied with her place. She tries so hard to be like Chloe and is terribly disappointed when she isn't as successful as her sister at different things. She also is just a little too young for Nathan to completely enjoy playing with her and also too small to be a surrogate "mommy" figure to Hubba. She plays with Wyatt very well and has recently learned to change his diaper. He still protests loudly when she changes him, but she always succeeds in making him laugh before its over.
 At school, she is a social butterfly and still excelling in her studies. She can't be kept busy enough by her teacher and so has been given the job of unofficial tutor. Whenever one of her classmates is struggling, she takes them outside the classroom and works with them. She is completely addicted to music and is almost never without a soundtrack playing. She loves hip-hop, country, Christian and rock. She also has a memory like a sponge and quite the sweet tooth.


Wyatt - At almost 20 months, Tubbs has finally started talking. He has long shown a huge level of comprehension but has not shown interest in expanding his limited vocabulary until recently.He's learning the noises that animals make - made more fun by the fact we are in close proximity to cats, dogs, chickens, horses, donkeys, goats, cows, sheep and birds. He can see these animals daily and hear the noises they make for himself - instead of in a book. :)
 One thing he continues to be stubborn about is his dislike of almost every type of "real" food. He will eat anything cracker-ish (for the most part) and will readily eat most flavors of baby food. There are special, infrequent days where I can get him to take a couple bites off my plate - usually of rice or noodles but he absolutely refuses to eat almost everything else. He loves chicken nuggets and will, sometimes tackle peanut butter and bread. He also loves toast but won't touch any sort of veggie or fruit unless it comes from a baby food jar. Oatmeal is another of his favorites - unless there are chunks of apple or berry in it. In this case, he will eat the oatmeal and spit out the fruit and then, in protest, pout and refuse to eat anymore oatmeal. We are making some progress with dried fruits. He's definitely a fighter - living up to his name already. :)

Not to leave out Lowell, he is still working with ADOT and enjoys his job, if not his boss. He loves the hours and the freedom this new job affords him as well as how much more involved he's been able to be in Wyatt's life because of the change. We are still juggling life with only one vehicle, but we've almost gotten used to the chaos. The kids are the ones that suffer the most, I think. After a long day at school, they still have to run around and pick up their mom in the evenings. Thankfully, I've been blessed at work to have the opportunity to shift my hours to a little earlier in the day for a short period of time, so at least for awhile, we've gotten a small reprieve.

Also because of Lowell's new job, we are excitedly planning a trip to Calaveras county. It will have been almost exactly 4 years since Lowell or the kids have been there. (I was blessed with a short trip last February for me and the Hubbs) We are still working out the details, but, in general, we will be in California the second week in March. The family is thrilled and we couldn't be happier! Now if only it would be March already!!!!