Tuesday, December 27, 2011

LOL

"Remember Girls, always wear your balls. Unless there's an emergency -- then you take them off."

This was the sentence I overheard as I walked into the room where Chloe and Jillian were playing... Definitely needed some clarification on that one! Turns out they were playing with some of their new toys - little animals that have plastic balls as homes... Too funny.

The Best Christmas Present of All

We spent Christmas Eve at church where we attended service and then Nathan and I served in the toddler room for two services. During the toddler service, the volunteers put on a small production of the Christmas story. We used Wyatt for baby Jesus. He is such an easy baby, so calm and almost universally happy - and this circumstance was no different. He smiled at all the toddlers singing their songs, smiled as I held him and kissed his chubby little neck, and then smiled, a little less confidently, when I placed him in the arms of the teenage girl who was playing Mary. He stared up at her and then at the wise men and then he went back to the nursery until I went to get him for the next service.

Jesus is our greatest gift --- but this little "jesus impersonator" is a close second. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Blessed Christmas

Things I’ve been able to say (and hear) thanks to this Christmas…
Look at BooBah eating his ball – its as big as his head. (Boobah (Wyatt) got a big, soft ball full of holes from Auntie Leeda)
Quit climbing my leg with your car. (The kids got two RC cars (very cool) from Grandma Elaine)

Nathan, its time for Anakin to stop conquering  the kitchen.(Nathan got large Star Wars figurines and there was a staged battle in the middle of my kitchen floor.)
Mama, there’s a Snoopy on your butt. (Said by Daddy – Boogie got me comfy, fluffy Snoopy jammie pants.)

Shake it Chloe! (Leeda and Bread sent Dance Party 3 for Wii. AWESOME!)
Mama, you’re perfect!  (Grammie sent the game – Perfection – and I was the first one to get it all right)

Chlo, you’re beautiful! (Said by Daddy. Just because she is.)

Look, he shakes his tail when he walks! (Said by Mama – Chloe and Jillian both got walking Littlest Pet Shop toys. Very cute.)
Boog, pay attention to me – not your butt (Again courtesy  of Dance Party 3 game).

Nathan, go get a green – well, go get a Yoda colored crayon. (Said by Daddy who was helping Nathan make an origami Yoda)

Good job Boobah! Good job eating your elephant! (said by Mama – Wyatt got a crinkly, chewie elephant lovie from Grammie.)

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Does this song say anything else?!? I mean, Come on! (Said exasperatedly by Daddy -- Nathan had put “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” on repeat in his room.)

And, the best...  Watch out kids, Daddy’s dancing.
Making Christmas Cookies. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spoiled

It seems that blessings are a theme of my posts lately. Today is no different. I was reminded yesterday of just how wonderful a husband I have. I have to back up a few days to properly tell this story. Lowell has been working 6 or 7 days a week for the past couple of months and so some of the yard work around the house has begun to slide. He decided that on Friday, we would spend the day tackling our yard together. He worked 12 hours on Thursday and then went, Friday morning, to a friend's house to help him with his car. He came home and slept about 3 hours and then he worked 12 hours Friday night also. So, when he came home Saturday morning, instead of going to bed like any "normal" person would, he got out the weedeater and got to work. Meanwhile, the kids and I started picking up trash and toys, weeding, pruning and raking. About 12 we went inside for lunch. As I was making sandwiches, I noticed Lowell was begining to fall asleep on the couch. That was when Nathan reminded me that his parade was that night. I remembered about his parade, of course, but I didn't even think about Lowell staying awake to do the yard and then still wanting to go to the parade... I woke him up to tell him about the parade, and ask what he wanted me to do - when I should wake him up, either in time for the parade (in 5 hours) or in time to go to work. Being the wonderful dad he is, he wanted to make it to Nathan's big debut. So, after sleeping only 3 hours the day before, he slept about 4 hours Saturday, went to support his son and then went back to work Saturday night. Sunday, Lowell came home and crashed. The kids and I went about our normal routine. We cleaned, played, and got lunches ready for the school week. In the evening, the kids were supposed to be taking baths...
I say "supposed" because, to add to my husband's crazy few days, our water heater went out. We have no hot water. None.
About 4pm, Lowell got up and started boiling water. I was cleaning, taking care of Wyatt and trying to cook dinner and the time was getting away from me. Without mentioning anything to my wonderful husband, he took it upon himself to drag the hose into the house and start filling up our bathtub. He boiled pot after pot of water until it was ready for the kids and then took over the dinner preparations while I bathed the kids. After we ate dinner (yummy hamburgers) and played a couple games, I put the kids to bed and started my homework and writing notes for my client's files. While I was on the computer, Lowell started boiling water again. He filled up the bathtub for me, lit candles, set up Christmas music in the bathroom and made a wonderful surprise for me... After my husband worked so hard, he made this special effort to help me relax.
I feel spoiled. Spoiled and blessed. And thankful that I have such a wonderful husband.
Life happens. Water heaters go out. But family is what counts. And where it counts -- I'm blessed.

Glow on Monroe

Saturday was the Christmas parade in Buckeye. And my little Nathan was in it! :) I took a picture of their group, not knowing where he would be and, of course, I took it too early.... That being said, he enjoyed himself and had a great time! I yelled "Yay, Nathan!!" and he turned toward us and gave us a little "trombone wave". He later said that he couldn't wave, smile and play him music at the same time, but he was happy to hear our support. The parade was quite entertaining. There was a train covered in lights with a little ferris wheel, music and two big bubble blowing machines. There were miniature ponies pulling little carts, VFW members on Harleys, APS trucks, a fire truck, lots of floats from local churches, and others. The most memorable float came from APS (the local power company). It was one of those huge electric trucks with a big set of inflatable reindeer on top and a snow making machine. The girls loved standing in the snow. Chloe, Jillian, Wyatt and Lowell and I watched the first half of the parade and then Lowell walked down to the end of the parade route to get Nathan.
So proud of my little musician and thankful for a nice evening with the family. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update and More Blessings

I don't know why I have this aversion to writing all of a sudden. It seems like sooo much effort to type up whats been going on around here. But that's just it - not much has been going on! Wyatt was dedicated at church last weekend. That was fantastic. Lowell came to church that Sunday to see it and then we went out to lunch with a friend of mine. Lowell has been working an insane amount of hours - 65-70 each week. We're saving up so that we can go on a mini weekend vacation before the end of the year. Lowell has two floating holidays that he has to take or else he will lose them and we had such a good time when we went to Tucson a few months ago that we're going to do it again. I'm currently working on figuring out who can watch the kids while we're gone. I'm parting them out to different houses and Wyatt will definitely be the most challenging...
Work is going well. I have clients that I really like and I feel like I'm making at least some progress with almost all of them. I do have one who makes me feel completely stuck; I just don't know what to do to help this person. And then I also have a client who was born the year I graduated high school. That made me feel pretty old. Lol.
The kids are doing really well. The big kids have their Christmas programs this week. Tonight was the girls'. They had a lot of fun and did fantastically. I am very proud of them. Nathan's parade is Saturday and then his concert is Tuesday. They are also working on Christmas projects and they have a holiday shoppe where they can buy little trinkets for their siblings, friends, family etc. at school.
As for me, I'm almost completely done Christmas shopping. I have a couple things I am ordering online that I haven't actually ordered yet and I have one more gift for Lowell to buy. Other than that, I'm done. Now comes the irritating part - waiting until Christmas so my family can open and enjoy the gifts I've been going all over town to get them! :)
Wyatt has become mobile. He doesn't exactly crawl yet, he "inchworms". He will pull up his legs and then slide his upper body forward. I don't believe this movement is specifically for the purpose of getting from one place to another, he seems to do it just because he's irritated with being on the floor. He can move quite quickly from one side of a room to the other, however simply by rolling over. And over. And over. Its amusing to watch him and the big kids love to see how far he can go around the room.
Speaking of my babies... They made me cry today. I am so overwhelmed by how blessed I am by them. I just can't wrap my head around how fantastic my kids are....  As I've posted before, we're learning Bible verses in the car. On the way to school, I usually quiz them over all the verses we've learned. I give them the address and the first word if they need it.... Over 20 verses without a single error... Nathan, Psalms 18:1, "i..."   Jillian, Psalms 34:1, "I will..."  Chloe, John 3:16, "For..." And on and on it goes like that... And they keep wanting to learn more. And, even better, I've been blessed to see them use what they're learning. When they are frustrated I've heard "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:13)   When they're fighting, I've heard "Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." I can't even begin to explain how my heart swells when I see these babies learning God's Word...
And then, this morning.. I was not thrilled about getting out of my nice warm bed but Wyatt was laying in his crib talking and wanting attention. Chloe came in the bedroom and starting talking to him, telling him how much she loves him, and then she took him out into the living room where I could hear the other kids ooohhhwwwing and aaahhhwwwing over him as well. And then, to go even further, Chloe comes into the bedroom and asks where I put the diapers so that she can change him.
My daughter asked if she could change Wyatts diaper. Again, I have no words.
All I can say is, I am blessed. Blessed. Overly and abundantly blessed. I have such wonderful children.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coming Back to Blogging

Its been over two weeks since I posted. Part of the reason is because I have a hard time posting anything when times are difficult. Whenever I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed or upset, I have a hard time sharing what's going on in our lives because I have a hard time looking past the bad/frustrating/annoying/painful/stressful/etc. things. So, in order to break this post-less streak, I'm going to concentrate on the many, many, MANY things I have to be thankful for and joyful about.
Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior
His Word
My children are healthy.
We are having beautiful weather - a little chilly, but a nice change.
My practicum is going well. I'm enjoying it and learning a lot. And I really like my clients.
I have everything I could possibly need - I don't want for anything - food, shelter, car, clothes, anything.
We have kittens.
Its almost Christmas.
I have wonderful friends that I don't get to see nearly often enough, but who I'm blessed to stay in contact with electronically.
Specifically I'm thankful for:
Moron, Britany, Kirsten, Abby, Stacey (except I haven't talked to her in I don't know how long :(... ), Linda, Michelle, Erica, Deborah, Jacquelyn and others.
I have a husband who loves me. And demonstrates his love for me in tangible ways. For example,
he asks about my day and really listens when I tell him
he loves our children
he works hard. Really hard. to provide for us.
he buys me the "expensive" shampoo when he goes shopping
he's not above cooking dinner or doing the dishes or the laundry or the grocery shopping if I need him to
he plays with our kids
he takes care of the yard
he takes care of our cars
he worries about things so I won't have to
he encourages me to stay in contact with my friends
he knows what is important to me and makes it important to him too. Like getting me Christmas decorations for our yard when he found out his friend was getting rid of some. Even though he would rather do almost anything than bring home more stuff. Thoughtful.
he tells me I'm beautiful/smart/sweet and "his girl"
he makes spending time with me a priority
he's willing to crawl under the house because he knows I'm scared of bugs and spiders and other yucky, deadly things that live there
he tells me he loves me all the time
he's willing to change a diaper. If he has to.

I'm also thankful for
rainy days
emails from friends
comments on my blog posts
old pictures from my grandma Elaine that tell me more about her side of the family - specifically, my dad as a little boy (she even sent me a couple of his elementary school report cards! :))
a wonderful church I feel blessed to go to every week
the privilege of hearing my children recite scripture and having them ask to learn more
while it sometimes drives me crazy, I'm thankful that my children want to tell me about their lives - their days, their friends, their dreams (especially their dreams.. in detail... ugh) and the things they find funny... These days will soon pass and I'm thankful now that they actually want to include me
twinkle lights and Christmas decorations
a special relationship with my grandmas
supportive in-laws
 yard sales
getting rid of stuff
on the rare occasion it happens, a clean house
obedient children
music, there is almost never a quiet moment in our house or car - the radio is ALWAYS on. We all love music and find comfort in it.
that we decided to cancel our TV
Wyatt's yell/growl/scream
I have a happy baby! :)
I missed out on colic all four times. Praise God!
and so very many more things....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Veterans Day Fruit

Friday was a big day for me. A busy one, for sure, but one of blessing.
Nothing really noteworthy was planned for the day, just a lot of errands to run which becomes especially difficult with four children in tow.
We started the day by cleaning up the house a little and then the kids played outside while I organized some paperwork and the itinerary for the day. We loaded up the car and headed out with 8 things on the to-do list. First we went to the mailbox and then we got gas; these were easy. Next came Target, Ross, and JCPennys, looking for Christmas program dresses for the girls. Then came a quick trip to the thrift store (50% off day) to see if there were any deals we couldn't leave without. We left with our first find for Lowell's Christmas presents.
These few outings would not have been so difficult on a normal day, but I didn't remember that Veterans Day equals big sales in the stores... Everywhere was packed but, on the bright side, we ended up getting 60% off at JCPennys on the dresses the girls finally fell in love with. And, as a bonus, Nathan got a Star Wars shirt on clearance at Target. Everyone was happy. Everyone, that is, except me.
By stop number 7, I was tired and grouchy. I didn't want to get in and out of the car anymore or pack Wyatt in and out of the stores or fight the battle between the skinny ailes and the fat shopping carts, and I was bummed because when we went to Michaels (to get another small part of Lowell's Christmas bounty) I learned that my coupon wasn't effective yet -- I had to wait until Sunday to get the good deal.
And all this before stop #8 - Walmart, where we still had to do all the shopping for the week, complete with couponing and price matching. Walking up to the store, my brain was fried and I was about to throw in the towel when Nathan asked me a question.
"Are you weary and burdened, Mama?"
From his phrasing, I knew exactly where he was heading and I broke out into a smile. "Yes I am, Buddy. Why do you ask?"
"Because Jesus can give you rest, Mom."
Brings tears to my eyes even now.
"You are exactly right, Baby. And that's exactly why we are memorizing scripture - so that, in these moments, we are reminded of how much God loves us."

I am so thankful that God used my son to speak truth into my life and I'm so happy that my kids are hiding God's word in their hearts, and, as we're promised, it is not returning void. It is so important to me that my babies know and love God's Word and I was so encouraged standing in that parking lot. I hope they were able to see a practical application of the words they are learning and I'm so pleased that all the work I'm putting into teaching them these verses is producing fruit. They are getting it. Praise God.
The day was long and we were all weary by the end of it, but thankfully, we knew where we could go to find rest.

"Come to Me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29 NIV

Friday, November 11, 2011

Love on a Soap Box

I fell in love last Tuesday. I spent a hour with the sweetest little 3rd grader... She is spunky, honest, creative and a worrier. She's really smart, (she knew about her second and third cousins -- my kids have trouble keeping their aunts and grandmas staight!) friendly and funny. The only down side of the day was that she had to come see me. You see, like everyone, her family is messy. All families have their own little pockets of yuckiness, but, for this little one, what should be an issue for the adults involved has fallen squarely in the lap of a total innocent. What angers me is how common a story like hers has become. What we adults expect our children to shoulder is absurd, irresponsible and can be terribly damaging to the ones were are supposed to protect. This sweet, spunky kid is dealing with all the jealously, anger, malice, distrust and sadness that her parents are experiencing. If certain life events are tramatuzing to adults, how much more terrifying and upsetting must they be for children???

It was obvious that this little girl (I'm going to call her Amy) has been used as a pawn by her parents to work against each other. Amy uses phrases and says things that obviously came from the mouth of an adult in her life. Its sad that she hears things that are negative about the other parent and that are meant only to incite disagreement and dissention. My goal with Amy is to help her work though her anger and to realize that she doesn't have to feel responsible for what her parents are choosing. That's my hope... But I know personally how difficult it is for a child to let go of personal cupability even if its irrational. I hope giving her someone to talk to, someone who understands what shes going through and what she's feeling, will remind Amy she's not alone and help her process through this terrible situation she's been forced into. She is such a fantastic little girl; I'm gonna try to be sure she doesn't forget that! :)

I wouldn't wish divorce on my worst enemy for sure, but I feel even worse for the innocent children who get tangled up in the mix. My prayers go out to the families for sure. And some words of warning to those thinking about getting married or considering having children... Children don't improve bad relationships and, honestly, they put strain on even the best relationships. If you're in a relationship and considering children, please think seriously about the long term consequence of your choices. It may not be romantic, but its important. And your children will thank you for it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween

I had a house full of little wonders... Chloe was a bee, Nathan was a SWAT member and Jillian was a vampire princess. Wyatt was the giraffe costume that all of my babies have worn... Lowell didn't work so that he could participate in the festivities. We went over to our old neighbors house, the Taylors, visited with their family and then walked around our old neighborhood. It was a calm evening, the weather was beautiful and the kids all agreed that they got enough candy. (When they had almost filled a freezer bag apiece, they announced that they were done. :) I have such good kids. :))

A Decision Not Made Lightly

More information about my seizures... I've been thinking more and more about my decision to go off my medication. The pills obviously control my seizures at least a little but they also give me some horrible side effects. The most minor nuisance is that my body is extra sensitive to stress and to allergies. Whenever I come in contact with something I might be allergic to, my reaction is must more substantial than it would have been previously, and whenever I get stressed my body has developed a new symptom - I break out in hives. And sometimes when I'm not even stressed my body decides to break out in hives just for the fun of it. Then there is the lethargy. I am a part-time working, full-time student, mother of 4 - including a 5 month old, and so I am tired in general. However, when you add in this medication, I have a hard time keeping my eyes open whenever I sit still for more than 15.8 seconds. This makes ordinary life VERY difficult. However this is not the most irritating, frustrating side effect... The worst part of this medication is its effect on my memory. Clinically, only 7% of users experience this particular malady, but I'm one of the lucky 7%. Epitol can lead to amnesia. It affects both my short and long term memory making it nearly impossible to remember what I went to the store for, and also to remember how we celebrated Jillian's 3rd birthday.... If it wasn't for my scrapbooks and Lowell's blessedly wonderful memory, I wouldn't be able to tell you more than a few scant memories about how I've spent the past 30 years of life. I can't even begin to express how devastating this is. I don't remember more than one or two small events from my wedding day; I have five or six memories from college and only a few more than that from high school.... Its almost like I don't have roots to speak of... My only ties to my life and my family are whatever happens today. I think this has a lot to do with why I have such a hard time with criticism or arguments... I don't have a solid base to rest on, I don't have a foundation to fall back on when times are tough -- the only reality I have is the here and now. So when things are good, I'm good but when they are bad, my world is completely shaken.
I know this is a little too psycho-babble-ish for some of you, but I share it only to justify my decision to go off of my medication. It was not a choice made lightly and was not one done on a whim. I remember what it was like to be "normal" and I have SSSOSOOOOOOOO relished these past few months when I actually had a memory. I felt so proud of myself that I could put down my keys and then, the next morning, I knew where they were. And I could meet someone, and then walk away from that first conversation and still remember their name. I can't begin to tell you how stupid and ridiculous I've felt these past few years... I am not used to being forgetful and dumb. I remember how I was before this medication and I want, so desperately, to get back to that. I enjoyed a few months of actually having a brain and I am quite discouraged that I have to give it all up again.
I'm sure some of you are asking, why not try a different medication. The short answer is money. For one thing, Epitol is on the $4 prescription list at Walmart and, for a medication I will have to take for the rest of my life, this is an important consideration. Also, changing medications would mean going to a neurologist and going through all the tests again. We don't have insurance so, for right now, that is an impossibility.
Today finds me one week post seizure and I actually made it all through the day without feeling the "aura" that precedes a seizure. I was also completely brain dead when I was dropping Wyatt off at the nursery this morning. I acted like the stereotypical blonde... Thankfully I can still chalk it up to pregnancy brain, but that won't last much longer. While it bothers me that other people must see how out of it I am, what really upsets me is how I see me. I am not stupid. Even just looking at academics, I was valedictorian in 8th grade, top 10 GPA in high school, graduated with my bachelors with a 3.83 and now my masters GPA is a 3.75. I know I'm not stupid but, goodness I feel stupid.
Its horrible to have to choose between remembering my children's childhood and being seizure free... But that is the situation I find myself in. Everything about this situation has been agonized over, and I guess the decision has been made. For the time being, I will take my medication as prescribed. As soon as I am able, I will try another medication. Between then and now, I'm going to use my blog, my scrapbooks, and my wonderful husband as my tethers to reality. And I'm going to pray that eventually my condition will be reversed.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Epileptic

As those of you know who follow me on Facebook, yesterday I had a seizure. A bad one. The worst I’ve had so far. I was in the shower, Nathan was sitting outside the shower making Wyatt laugh. I felt the initial warning signs and so I sat down on the ledge of the shower so that I could breath and try to fight it off. Apparently, there was no chance of that because I didn’t even have a chance to fight. The next thing I knew, I was waking up. In the bathtub. We have a separate tub and shower. Yeah, let that sink in. Backing up though, I have long tried to focus on what happens in my mind during the “aura” stage of my seizures, hoping that if I can identify what I’m thinking about, it will help to alleviate the seizures. As best as I can tell, I see the same scene almost every time. There is a man talking to me. My best guess is that this man is my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Swanner. Other than this less than positive identification of the man, I can’t remember anything else after the episode has passed. Physically, I feel sick to my stomach, dizzy, hot and uncomfortable. The emotions I experience are much more difficult to nail down.
Most of the time I can stop the seizure if I catch it before the Mr. Swanner stage. Yesterday was not so lucky. From what I’ve been told by Nathan, I fell out of the shower (completely pushing the shower door out of its caulking along the bottom), foamed at the mouth and shook a lot. He said that I was talking too but he couldn’t hear what I was saying. Poor little guy, he was terrified and thought I was having a heart attack. He said he checked to be sure my heart was beating and then ran to call Lowell. I have drilled into their little heads that they don’t need to call 911 when I have a seizure. I know there are those of you who will react negatively to that, but this is my decision. There is nothing they can do at the hospital other than observe me. I don’t have insurance and it is just ridiculously expensive with no positive outcome.
Anyway, apparently while Nathan was calling Daddy, I got up off the floor and turned on the bathtub and then climbed in. Note to readers: our bathtub doesn’t have any hot water. That part of the faucet leaks and we rarely use our tub so we just turned it off… I climbed into a completely cold bath of water. Nathan and Chloe said that I seemed awake because my eyes were open and I was talking. I don’t remember any of this. I “came to” completely clothed in my bed when my ringing phone woke me up. Lowell was calling to check on me. He was at a friend’s house working on a car and had left as soon as Nathan called.
My poor babies…. Nathan kept coming in to check on me and gave me his stuffed eagle to sleep with. It was then that I realized how sore I was. After most seizures, I am physically exhausted and some of my muscles will be sore. Yesterday was slightly different. I had all the normal feelings but my neck and back were really sore. Only after I was able to get up, hours later, and see the shower for myself could I understand why I am so sore. Today I’m even more sore and I’m sure, as the bruises arise, it will get worse before it gets better.
As I posted on Facebook, I decided to try to go off my seizure meds earlier this year. I hate taking them – they make me feel horrible and, if I don’t need them, why add that extra medication to my body?!? So, with Lowell’s support, I weaned myself off them. In the beginning of my journey with doctors in response to these episodes, I was told they were panic attacks. Then I was told they were “syncopes” which are mini-fake-seizures. Then I was tentatively diagnosed with “epilepsy not otherwise specified” because they couldn’t catch a seizure on film. Most of the time I got the feeling that the doctors didn’t believe that I was really having seizures at all. So, I reasoned, if these aren’t really seizures, and because I am still having them occasionally even while on meds, why not stop taking it and see if its really helping after all? So, that’s what I did.
I guess yesterday taught me that I need them. As of today, I'm taking them again. I only have 2 months worth of perscription left so, after the first of the year, I'll have to go to a neurologist again. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, I'm just going to rest. I went to work half a day today but I was too sore and pooped to finish out the day. Also, Peanut started throwing up at home so I elected to come home and take care of him and me. I'm not sure if I'll be going tomorrow or not. Tonight will tell, I'm sure.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Preparations

Totally blessed today by a co-practicum-er. She is also studying for her National Counselor Exam and has already purchased the CD study guide. And today, SHE LET ME BORROW IT!!! So, I'm currently downloading all the material to my computer. I feel totally spoiled -- especially considering that this CD set retails for around $80!
 I also found an app on my smart phone to help me study. It has a study mode as well as a test mode. Before even studying, I took a practice test and scored a 77%. It takes about an 80-85% score on the actual exam to pass, so I figure I'm not too far off!!! That was definitely encouraging. Also, I learned that the new procedure for the test requires me to go to a testing site (surprisingly, at an H&R Block location) and take the exam on the computer instead of using a Scantron form. (You know, those little "fill in the bubble" sheets.) Anyway, with the new procedure, I get my results IMMEDIATELY instead of waiting up to 6 weeks with the old system!
So, some more studying (thanks to my new CDs) and $325 and I'll be ready! I'll let you know more as the day approaches...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Creating Balance

I'm convinced that when something becomes "mine" it must emanate a certain smell that my children find irresistible... It doesn't matter the actual value of the item, it could be a piece of toast or my new high heels, either way, they want it. My bed, for example, is irresistible. It doesn't seem to matter if I'm going to be in it or not, because its mine - they want it. The same goes for whatever I've decided to drink, eat or watch. My seat on the couch. My new water bottle. My love for scrapbooking....     I suppose I could view this as a compliment -- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- but most of the time it just feels claustrophobic.    I seem to have a hard time with sharing and with giving up my personal space. I blame it partly on growing up as an only child, but I have to lay most of the blame at my own feet - I just tend to be on the selfish side. 
When I begin to feel encroached upon and start to feel like I'm being smothered, I vacillate between feeling guilty for not wanting to share my time or space and feeling totally frustrated at how demanding my children can be. I'm starting to realize that if I stay on top of it, if I make sure that I take little breaks before I become totally overwhelmed, things tend to go much more smoothly.
Lowell handles this same issue much differently than I do. He seems to have no problem demanding his personal space and time. For example, he has no problem locking the bathroom door whereas 95% of the time, I have at least one child walk in on me. Likewise, he has no problem insisting that they entertain themselves when he wants time to himself or if he wants time for he and I to spend together. I, on the other hand, tend to feel guilty about making similar requests of the kids.
I'm happy to say that I'm getting better at setting appropriate boundaries about how much I let myself be available to the babies. I know that they want my time, focus, affection and attention but I have also learned that its not healthy for me or for them to have my "open" sign out 24/7. They are learning to be more self-sufficient and I'm learning to give myself a little more freedom. Some days I feel good about the balance I've imposed, while other days I know I've let the scale go too far in one direction or the other.
In the past, I would dwell on those failures. Now, I'm working on learning from them and moving on. I still have days where I let guilt and regret get to me but not nearly as much as in the past. Its a process, and, as much as I hate it, I'm trying to give myself grace to learn through trial and error.
I'm blessed that I have children who know their mom isn't perfect but who love me and want to spend time with me anyway.... Sometimes, I guess I'm just a little over-blessed but I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Home

Today I was talking to a friend on the phone and she was worried that I was talking and driving at the same time. I made the comment, "I'm already home." And that got me thinking... Home is an interesting word. It can mean a physical building, it can mean a feeling of well-being, of safety and security, or it can be something else entirely. To some people, there is a town that will always feel like home, or a country or an area... To others, there is a specific building that conjures up all the feelings associated with "home". For me, there is a place that seems like home, an area, and a group of people, but the over-riding sense of home for me comes from one special person. Wherever Lowell is, that's home. Wherever we move, Angels Camp, Jackson, California, Arizona, whether we live in a house or apartment, my home is with Lowell.
And I feel so blessed that God has given me this safe place to fall, this place of stability and peace, of trust and encouragement. Lowell is not perfect, but I choose not to focus on the imperfect, but instead on the intention. A couple years ago, Lowell dedicated a song to me. The story told in the song is that of a man who feels he needs to improve in various areas of his life and that this woman gives him the strength to keep trying. There is one line though, that is particularly special to me. It says, "For all the things I've failed to do, I've never failed at loving you."  Lowell hasn't been the "perfect" husband (and Lord knows, I am FAR from the perfect wife) but through it all, he has never stopped loving me. By his own admission, he has never questioned his decision to marry me, to be the father of our children... He doesn't regret any of the time that we've spent together and says that, in fact, he loves that I'm his wife and still loves spending time with me and looks forward to our future together.
No matter where I am, with a husband like that, how could I not feel at home???

This picture was taken during our weekend in Tucson. It wasn't a pleasant reason to take a trip, but I am so thankful that we went away together. We bonded, we shared and talked and got closer than we've been in awhile. We laughed and played like teenagers. We went to dinner, we played at an arcade and we talked about our life together - our future, our priorities, where we wanted our family to go in the future and how we planned on getting there. We thoroughly enjoyed the 24 hours that we spent together. I have always been thankful for my husband but this trip reminded me of how blessed I am by him. He has definitely never failed at loving me. And he has taught me all about "home" - feeling safe and warm and welcome and loved. He has taught me to trust and shown me how to lighten up and have fun... Wherever he is, that's home to me. And there's no other way I'd want it to be.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eating and Growing

Just had to share my newest favorite picture of my Little Man. He's really enjoying solid foods and I am loving how much longer he sleeps at night on those days when he has his fruit or veggies.                                            As of now, he's tried (and loved) sweet potatoes, applesauce, bananas, pears, sweet peas, and peaches. He's not a big fan of cereal, so I've been mixing it in with the baby food to thicken it up a bit and so he gets the added nutrition. He is getting much better at holding his head up when he lays on his stomach but he still hasn't mastered rolling over.
One of my favorite things about babies is how disproportionate they are. And ever since I showed this silliness to Nathan, he has come to appreciate it too. Here he is, demonstrating how short Peanut's arms are compared to the size of his head. Can you imagine not being able to touch your fingers together over your head?? Doing your hair would be nearly impossible! Its a good thing Peanut has me as his personal stylist or else he'd have bed head every day! :)  
On the subject of Nathan, I just love that boy. I was so blessed by a conversation that we had a couple nights ago. He is in the habit of asking me to come spend some one-on-one time with him in the evenings when the kids lay down to read before bed. Some days he has something important that he wants to share about school or his day, but other times he just wants his mom's company. On this particular night, Nathan felt like he needed to apologize for his attitude toward Jillian. You see, Nathan has a servant's heart. He serves with me in the toddler room at church every Sunday, he is always quick to open my car door, he says "Ladies first" and holds open the door when we enter a building, and he likes to use his muscles to help me carry and move things...  But when it comes to Jillian, he really struggles with his attitude. He has a hard time with the fact that she doesn't contribute as much as he does to the family effort. For example, when the kids carry in groceries, Jillian doesn't carry as many bags as Nathan or Chloe do.
So on this evening, he wanted to talk about how I had called him on his bad attitude toward his sister. After listening to him recount various times where he felt like Jillian wasn't equally participating, I asked him if he wanted me to help him understand or if he just wanted to share his feelings with me.
He said he wanted help understanding. So, I explained to him -- Jillian is six. I tried to show the difference that three years makes both physically and developmentally in the life of a child. I used the toddlers that we work with as an example. Some of them are three -- Jillian is six. I had him think about the differences between the little ones and his sister. And then pointed out that she is three years younger than he is. At this point, I saw the light bulb above his head begin to glow...
Then I asked Nathan if I was a good mom. When he said I was, I explained that I make mistakes all the time, but I'm learning and growing as I go. And his job is to love me while I learn. Its the same with his sister; she's learning how to share, how to be assertive without being bossy, how to contribute to the family... And our job is to love her while she learns. I assured him that, eventually, she'll get there and that its his job to be a good role model and to keep on loving her.
I definitely saw the glow of the light bulb at this point, but also a little bit of disappointment. This wasn't the answer he wanted. I wasn't telling him that Jillian was in trouble or that I was going to talk to her. Instead, I was asking him to do the hard work -- to love his sister even when she is irritating and frustrating.
Isn't that how it goes? We talk to God and tell him how frustrated we are with people in our lives, how much we want them to change... And the response we get is that they are not our responsibility -- our only job is to keep loving them while they learn. Easier said than done, but our job, and Nathan's job, nonetheless.

Spirit Week

At Odyssey Prepatory Academy, this week is all about spirit. Yesterday was Hero Day - come to school dressed as your favorite hero. Jillian wanted to be Word Girl from the PBS series of the same name but unfortunately, Nathan could not find his cape and her idea of wearing her underwear on the outside of her shorts was veto-ed. So, no superhero. Chloe and Nathan weren't interested in participating in Hero Day. Today is a different story. We're been planning for Crazy Sock and Crazy Hair day for weeks. These are the results of our planning. Jillian is Pippy Longstocking -- or, in her words, Hippie Lockingston. She simply cannot get that poor girl's name right. Chloe's head ended up looking like a soccer ball. She was thrilled with the results. She has 9 ponytails, all with different colored rubber bands.  They are both wearing crazy socks, too although you can't tell by these pictures. Chloe is sporting her tall, fuzzy purple striped socks that were a gift from one of the nurses when she had her appendix taken out. Jillian is wearing the yellow pair of socks that we tye-dyed especially for this occassion. Yellow is her new favorite color.

Nathan was much more hesitant to participate... His hair is getting long and he is in need of a haircut so my proposition was that we shave the sides of his head, like we're going to anyway when he gets a haircut, but leave the middle portion long so that he can have a mohawk for just one day. Or, we could just gel out all his long hair so that he has a 'fro going on.... Neither of these ideas were acceptable and in fact, he looked at me like I suggested he go to school in a dress. Up until the last minute, I was trying to convince him that it is okay to look silly in the name of school spirit. He wasn't having anything to do with the idea. Lowell even got on board and encouraged him, to no avail. In the end, he went to school with normal hair but wearing my black striped socks. I will celebrate small victories, I suppose. :) 

When we got to school and the kids were waiting to get out of the car, Chloe started getting nervous, wondering if she was going to be the only one in her class with crazy hair. She was very relieved when we saw some of the other students walking to class with even crazier, more outrageous hairstyles.

I have a very different view of spirit week as a mother than I did as a student. I appreciate that, in a school where the dress code is VERY strict, they allow the students the freedom to be expressive on these days. They still have to wear their uniform, but at least they can accessorize 4 days out of the year. Also, I like how my children are learning to be individuals and to not be afraid of expressing themselves. I like that they are learning to take risks without knowing if they will be accepted by their peers, and that, at least my girls, are okay with standing out and being different. I am hoping that they are learning to be leaders -- leaders that can encourage their fellow students to be involved in appropriate, safe, fun activities instead of those that are against the rules or those that detract from their educational experiences.
I was very impressed with Lowell last night when he was talking to Nathan about having school spirit. Lowell was not one to get involved in these types of things when he was growing up and he openly admits it. But last night, he shared with the kids that he believes he would be better at dealing with people, making friends, and being in crowds, if he learned early to be part of a group - to be part of the student body. I was really surprised and very pleased that he took the time to share his experiences. I think his input may have been what got Nathan into my socks this morning. So, thanks Daddy -- we love you!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our Awesome Saturday

Believe it or not, this is a house where the kids and I enjoyed half of our Saturday. There was a private party organized for the families of the kids who go to Odyssey school. While there, I met the owners of the home and learned that they go to our church too. They were both very nice. The husband is a contractor and the wife is a real estate agent. The kids had such a good time. If you look closely you can see Jillian and Nathan lying on the merry go round. When I took this picture, Chloe was in the pool. She and her friend Talon were jumping off the ledge.
The pool, deep end, diving board and 40 ft. waterslide seen here, and the river and hot tub (Just off to the right of this picture) were the kids' favorite part of the day. The water was pretty cold, but they braved it nonetheless.
Nathan and Chloe both jumped off this ledge multiple times and swam underneath the waterfall as well. Jillian tried the waterslide a couple times, but (even to me) IT WAS FAST!!! She wasn't so much scared by the waterslide, but she was unsure about swimming to a safe zone once she was dumped off the end. The water was 10 feet deep and it was quite a swim from one side to the other. I couldn't get in the water to help her because it was just too cold for Wyatt.

To the right of this picture is the volleyball court and the huge garage that they are currently using as a reception hall for weddings etc. The airplane you can see in the bottom of the picture is a tetter-totter.    This picture was taken early in the day before most of the people arrived. They split the day into two sections -- kindergarten - 4th graders were welcome from 9-12pm and then the older students came at 1. We got there at 9:15 and it was fun to watch the people arrive and marvel at the facilities. Almost without fail, people would show up, look around, and then get their cell phone out and call someone. :)

This is the shallow end of the pool. The palm tree off to the left of this picture sprayed water too, but it was turned off. In the background, you can see the house. This picture is taken looking toward their living room. They had a huge fireplace with a beautiful sign above it that said "Fear Not for I have overcome the world"  One of the girls who live in the house was acting as a lifeguard for the party. I went over to talk to her and found out she is expecting a baby. I had Wyatt in the little front pack thing. She asked me for some advice about baby stuff. I hope I run into them at church so I can say Hello.
I made sure each of the kids went to the homeowners and thanked them but it would be nice for them to make a thank you card to give the Sosnicki's.
Jillian's favorite part of the day was that she got to spend time with her friend Kristen who went to the Goodyear campus of Odyssey this year. It was great because I was able to talk to her mom and exchange contact info so that the girls can get together soon! Kristen has an older brother who is Chloe's age. He likes Star Wars, so I think this might be a match made in heaven -- Nathan doesn't have a lot of friends who like Star Wars. We have a play date already set for next weekend but maybe for the weekend after that one. Chloe has a little friend who had a sleepover a couple months ago that she would like to have over so we should be able to make everyone happy. :)  Another part of the grounds that you can't see in these pictures was the trampoline. The special thing about this trampoline was that it was set into the ground. The bouncy part of the trampoline was at ground level, so it was like the ground was bouncy! There was a sign asking for there to be only one child on the trampoline at a time and because I wanted them to follow the rules, they only bounced a couple times. They just didn't have the patience to wait for all the other kids who weren't taking turns.   
This is Chloe jumping off the waterfall. She was quite the daredevil. :) There was also a petting zoo off to the side of the house. They had an adult pot-bellied pig and a little piglet, a big white bunny, a pygmy goat, a pony, two tortoses, a lamb and a bunch of birds in a big cage. During the party, they let the kids into the pens to help feed the animals. Jillian and Kristen went in but Nathan and Chloe were too entertained with the pool and the merry-go-round.     I have a hard time believing they will forget about this day any time soon!!!   

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Little Fella That the Mama Loves

This is a beautiful quilt that Wyatt's Great - Great Grandma sent to him last week... Its finally getting cool enough at night for him to actually use it.
Just wanted to share some new pictures! :)

Integrity

I was watching a re-run of The Wonder Years the other day. (I had forgotten how much I love that show!) It was one of the later episodes, Kevin was a sophomore in high school. The storyline was all about an English class with a teacher who didn't abide by the normal rules. She changed the reading list, cutting out "Ivanhoe" and replacing it with "Cather in the Rye"; she didn't take attendance; and didn't give normal grades, only pass/no pass. After pressure from the administration, she decided to give "normal grades" - well, kind of. She allowed the students to select their own grades.  Why do I mention this? After this episode, my kids mentioned that their music teacher does the same thing. They are responsible for grading themselves every day. There are two catagories for the grades, with 5 points possible in each catagory. They grade themselves 1-5 in how well they did in class - how well they listened, followed directions, etc. And then they give themselves up to 5 points based on how prepared they were for class - did they bring a pencil, their book, their instrument, etc.
I was really surprised -- this is a pretty big responsibility to give to 8 and 9 year olds. Of course, I was curious what kind of thought was going into the process. Were they just giving themselves As because they could? Nathan said that he's given himself straight 5s with how well he does in class but that he's had to give himself a couple 4s because of forgetting his pencil. Chloe said she has given herself all 5s, but that she hasn't forgotten anything. :)
I was impressed that real thought and real honesty were at work in this process. I talked to the kids about integrity and how proud I was of them for doing the right thing, even when there were no real consequences for lying and even when their grades were on the line. I just love my kiddos so much! What a blessing they are to my heart!

Friday, October 7, 2011

4 months

I have a four month old baby. One year ago, I thought my life was over. I had no idea what God had planned for me - how He was going to work things out, how we would make it work with an infant, how our children would be affected by a new baby, how Lowell would adjust to having another baby... How my career goals would be affected, how we could afford it... I still don't know some of those answers. I don't know how we are going to afford our family but I do know I have a wonderful husband who works very hard to take care of us. I also know I have a Heavenly Father who has promised to meet all our needs according to His riches which are limitless. We've gotten creative and we're going to make it work. We always do.
As for our children, they are more in love with this baby than I've ever seen older siblings be... Chloe and Nathan are especially dedicated to him. Jillian is a little young still but she's adjusting. :) She's just not used to not being the baby anymore. Lowell has fallen in love with Wyatt and he's thankful that things worked out how they did. That is a blessing that I couldn't be more thankful for.
Jillian has to take a picture of her family to school next week and I realized that we don't have one - not one iwth all 6 of us. So, that's on the agenda for this weekend. I'll post it when we get one and I'm sure I'll make extra copies so that I can send some to the family.

At four months, Wyatt weighs 12 lbs 7oz -- that puts him in the 5th percentile for weight (95% of 4 month olds weigh more than him) and he's in the 25th percentile for length (75% of 4 month old babies are longer than him). His head size puts him in the 25th percentile too, so he's porportionate and the doctor isn't worried. He's definitely gaining weight and we're started him on solid foods. So far he's only had bananas; doctors recommend that you keep a baby on only one food at a time - for three days in a row so that if an allergy arises, you can be sure what the reaction is to. He's not allergic to bananas. Today we're moving on to applesauce or sweet potatoes. The kids are thrilled that he's sitting in his high chair and that they can feed him.

Very first solid food -- bananas. That's Daddy feeding him. :)

He has two teeth broken through now and he's drooling all over the place. :) At his doctor's appointment yesterday, he got three shots and they didn't go so well. He actually ended up getting stuck 4 times and the first injection really bled a lot. The weather here has also changed dramatically in the past 4 or 5 days. We went from 110 highs and 90 degree lows to yesterday that was 73 degrees and got down to 50 last night. We haven't been turning on our air conditioner so its been a really dramatic change... The teething and the temperature changes have led Wyatt to another cold. The point of all these seemingly unrelated facts are that I have a very cranky baby.  He's bruised, sore, teething, stuffy, and not sure if he wants his bottle or real food.... Its proving more and more difficult to get him to sleep because he's learning to hold things. His little batting hands continuously knock his bottle out of his mouth and then he gets frustrated.
On the positive side, he's grinning ALL THE TIME and he finally laughed at me yesterday! He can hold up his weight on his legs and he likes to grab things including hair, necklaces, toys and his bottle. On the negative side, at four months, he should be able to roll over from front to back. Wyatt can't. He HATES being on his stomach. He just throws his arms out and plants his face in the floor and screams. He will not try to roll over. On rare occassions, he will lift up his head and try to get stronger, without crying, but for the most part, its just leaving his there, monitoring to be sure he can breath and letting him cry. I hope he learns this quickly - I avoid even putting him on his stomach because he hates it so much, but the pediatrician insists that I do it daily... Prayers that Wyatt is a quick learner! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blessed by Deb

I'd venture a guess that anyone reading this most likely hasn't seen me in the past 12 months or so... Over the past year, I've lost 50lbs. I credit this to an act of God -- well, two acts of God. First was that I was praying for help with my weight and praying for self-discipline etc. and the second that I got pregnant. When I was pregnant, sugar made me sick. I didn't want anything to do with sweets and I had very little appetite of any kind. I still don't have much of an appetite and I try to eat sugar even though it still makes me kind of nauseous... I want to have it just because it tastes good, but it still doesn't agree with my body. I count this an incredible blessing and I'm thrilled with the results. That being said, I had one major issue with losing weight. I can't wear any of my old clothes and, not having extra money for a new wardrobe, this posed a problem. Enter Deb. I met Deb when she was volunteering at the domestic violence shelter where I worked. She was unofficially "assigned" to me and we've become friends. Deb loves to give presents almost as much as she loves to give compliments. And so she has blessed me, more than once now, with bags of clothes. She's given me casual clothes and those appropriate for work... And every time I see her, she makes at least two or three comments about how "great" I look. Over the 9-11 weekend, my church has a service to honor heroes and the congregation was asked to invite people in our lives who we view as heros. I invited two people - Abby, my friend from college, and Deb. Abby because she and I have a lot of similiar struggles and issues and I admire how she deals with hers. Deb because she is such an encouragement to me. She tries to convince me that I give her more in our friendship than she gives me but I'm not convinced. Tonight she got some upsetting news and called me to help her through it. It doesn't seem like much, but I'm glad I could be a listening ear for her. She has certainly been a blessing to me, so I hope I can be a blessing in return. I have a whole closet full of payback to work on!

Exer-saucer

Love this picture -- just had to share. We finally got an exer-saucer and, so far, Peanut has been entertained. :) He still can't sit up without help, so he gets propped up with blankets but I think he's going to really love it as he gets a little older. Right now, his feet can touch the bottom when he sticks them straight out. Its awesome because its adjustable as he grows...
I know this picture doesn't look like it, but he is happy, really! :) And when he's happy - Mama's happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Responsibilities

Wyatt looking cute. :) He has his first tooth and we're going to be trying adding cereal to his diet in the next couple days... Nathan and his new "responsibility" Cinder.
Jillian already dressed Cinnamon up and said, "Look Mom, he's a princess!" Chloe loves Maxwell and as an added bonus, Maxwell will be going to Chloe's classroom tomorrow to say hello. Such lucky kids!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My 300th Post

There is a test that therapists and doctors can use to determine the level of stress in a persons life. Its a simple self-report test meaning that you can take it anytime and the score is based on what the person reports about their life. I took it today because I was thinking about all the things we've been though in the past 12 months... We've moved, we had three surgeries, a birth, a death, bought a new car, I took a break from classes and then started my internship, Lowell became the sole bread winner for our family, my mother in law lived with us for about two months, my father in law lived with us for about two months, and so many other changes...
The highest level of stress on this test is anything over 300 points... I'm at McDonalds using the Wifi and laughed out loud when I got my score... It was a whopping 615. I'd say I qualify as experiencing high levels of stress. :)
I must clarify that negative changes in life are not the only ones that produce stress. Positive changes also lead to stress, it is the cumulative effect of the changes. I definitely have a lot to be thankful for and I am giving all credit to God that I am not a bumbling idiot drooling in a corner somewhere. Its only by His power that I can make it though each day. I'm bathed in His love and humbled by His mercies. I must be since I haven't totally lost my mind. At least not yet.

http://www.stressaffect.com/Stressful-Life-Events-List.html
His shirt says "PICK ME UP  I dig older chicks"  :)
For no reason other than the fact that he's adorable (and the source of much of the above mentioned stress. :)) here's Wyatt with his newest obsession - trying to fit his huge little fist into his very little mouth. Sometimes he tries to get both fists in at the same time. He's completely given up on the pacifier idea - the fists are too much fun.

Tammy

Born Tammy Lynn Woden on August 16, 1965, she became Tammy Wood at age 16, just a couple months before I was born. About ten years later she became Tammy Bradley and a few years after than, Tammy Wade. I'm not sure if Wade was a legal change or just one that honored someone very special in her life, but she definitely loved him. Other than these name changes, I know very little about the woman who played such a huge role in my life. The things I do know seem inconsequential. And yet, they are special because growing up, I clung to whatever nuggets I could glean about her life.
She loved sunflower seeds and Dr. Pepper, and today, so do I. She loved sunbathing and I have inherited that bad habit as well. She always wrote little smiley faces and drawings on all the letters she ever sent me and seemed to light up a room when she entered it. She had tattoos and liked to dye her hair. She swam in cutoff jeans and a bikini top and always smoke Camel cigarettes. She loved old (to me it was old) rock and roll but never seemed interested in TV. She was right handed and always had her finger and toenails painted - usually some shade of red. Almost every memory I have of her involves the summertime. She loved to swim and wasn't a morning person. I remember getting jealous of her relationships with other people whether it be her brothers or her latest boyfriend and she would find it amusing that I wanted her undivided attention.
My dad says she was very smart and they met because she would do his homework in high school.  I definitely remember her being a reader. Whenever she came to visit me, she was always reading. Usually Stephen King. She also liked beer and hated it when I commented about how she shouldn't be drinking. I never had a problem with the smoking because it never took her away from me... The drinking usually did. She would go to a bar and meet someone and that was usually the beginning of the end.
She was always meeting people everywhere we went. She found friends at the supermarket, on the bus, at the lake... She never met a stranger. She wanted my kids to call her Granny because she thought it sounded younger than 'Grandma'. And she hated it when I called her Mother.
I'm sure I could think of a few other little things. As for big things... I know she never really got along with either of her parents and I know she struggled with addiction. I know she also struggled with being a mom and with feeling like she was pressured to lead a "normal" life. I think I know that she loved me, at least as much as she was capable of... And I hope I know that she knew I loved her too.
She read the letter I wrote her so I guess the last thing I ever "said" to her was 'I love you'... She died around 10pm Sunday night, September 18th at the young age of 46. I hope I can learn more about her as time goes by from people who knew her better than I did.


I love you Mom. And I miss you.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Learning from My Children

I started thinking about trust today because of my kids. Chloe actually started the train of thought. We were at the park this morning taking a leisurely walk because the temperatures were actually in the low 100s when Chloe ran past me with a suggestion for Jillian. "Close your eyes and run a little bit and shake your head like this. Its fun!" She was running in the field, eyes completely closed, shaking her head back and forth. I was in awe. There are times when the kids want to surprise me and ask me to close my eyes as they lead me to their room, or to another part of the house... And I have a very difficult time trusting them to lead me when I can't see. The field Chloe was running through has trees, light poles, a hill, holes in the ground... All potential hazards, but she was carefree enough to close her eyes and run. Not walk, run. And not just that - she was shaking her head back and forth completely enjoying the ride.
Trust is not something that comes easy for me. It took a long time for me to develop trust in Lowell and even now, I still have moments where I have to stop myself from worrying and remind myself that its okay to let go of my fear. I even question God at times. There are situations where I find myself or my family where I look around and wonder if He really does have it all under control. Or I hear direction from Him that freaks me out and makes me question if His wisdom really is infallible or if His way is really the best way to live life. Walking on faith takes a lot of trust and sometimes causes a lot of sleepless nights.

I love that my kids haven't grown up having to question the people in their lives. They have been surrounded by people who make promises and then keep them. We mean what we say. I know that time will teach them that they can't rely on everyone and that there are people in the world who will misuse their trust, but I'm hopeful that by having our family be a place of reliability, they won't struggle with the same issues that I do.

God never gives us a reason to question Him, but that doesn't mean that trust comes easily. Faith is something that grows as we trust God and then see that He is faithful. The problem comes in learning that I don't know better than God. There is always a sense of ego that gets in my way. I think I can do a better job managing my life that He can. The same problem shows up in my relationship with Lowell because I am supposed to submit to his decisions and, sometimes, I question them and do my own thing instead. I think I'm learning slowly. At least I hope I'm learning. Pride, ego, fear... All difficult things to get under control. Its a good thing I know Philippians 4:13 -- I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

My Prayer

Our Father in heaven, may Your name be made holy. May Your kingdom be established in my life so that Your will is done – just like in heaven. Lord, give me what I need for today – the patience, strength, wisdom, peace and love that I need - just for today. Tomorrow will care for itself. And let yesterday rest in Your grace –forgiven and at peace. Forgive me for the thousands of sins I commit and remind me Lord that the sins of others are no worse than mine. Give me humility and a heart of forgiveness. Give me strength to flee temptation and wisdom to avoid sin. Lord, create in me a heart of joy and love for my husband, my children and the life You’ve given me. Thank you Father, for Your blessings are many. Lord, let You be enough for me. Create contentment in me, Lord and help me be forgiving of myself as well.

This is a prayer that I found amongst some papers. I've been going though all my boxes and getting rid of things that I haven't looked at in at least two years. I found all the cards and letters that Lowell and I have given to each other as well as the cards and letters from my mother. That was definitely emotional and I could only read one or two of them...
I don't know when I wrote this prayer, but it is certainly appropriate today. All but the last sentence since I'm learning that I can't forgive myself; I can only accept forgiveness and let go of the guilt.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sad News

September 10th
It looks like we’re having a séance in my living room. There are candles lit all over. My kids are waving their hands over the flames, watching them move. I have no idea why I’m letting my children play with fire. I think it has something to do with the fact that I’m completely emotionally exhausted. I told the kids about my mom today. She has stage four cancer that has taken over. It has attacked her liver, kidneys, stomach, bladder, colon, and ovaries. She has just been hospitalized due to kidney failure and is refusing dialysis. According to those who have spoken to her, even though she isn’t expected to ever leave the hospital, she is in good spirits.


The kids took it a lot harder than I expected them to; Jillian and Chloe actually cried. I explained to them that we wouldn’t be able to see my mom because we can’t afford to travel to California right now and that I can’t call her because her hospital room doesn’t have a phone. However, when she had her cell phone, she wouldn’t answer my calls anyway so I suppose the lack of phone is a moot point. I was discussing my situation with my friends on Facebook and got some excellent advice from a childhood friend - Amanda. She suggested that I write my mom a letter so that, even though I won’t be able to say goodbye in person, I will at least be able to say the things that are on my mind and heart. And that way, at least I’ll know that I made every attempt to create the harmony and peace that I’m longing for. I wrote the letter and mailed it yesterday. I included some recent pictures of the kids and one of Wyatt so that she can see him before…

I’m not sure how to feel now. There are moments where I break down and cry, especially when the kids (very innocently of course) bring up all the thoughts that I’m trying to avoid. They have a ton of questions – why didn’t my mom love me when I was a kid; why can’t we go see her; when they have kids, will I be part of their lives; how do I feel about losing my mom… At least after I talked to them, they were able to understand why I’ve had such a short attention span lately and why I’ve been disappearing to hide with Lowell for the past few days.

Speaking of Lowell, we talked more about how I was feeling and how he didn’t understand my pain. He decided that, understood or not, the pain is real and so he’s just going to support me through it. And he has. Honey, thank you for letting my cry, for giving me permission to hurt when it doesn’t seem rational and for doing everything you can to let me get to California. I love you and all that you do for us. I love how hard you work for our family… And how hard you work to help me be the kind of mother that I want to be. And to accept myself for being an imperfect mother – but a good one nonetheless.

I wish I could go to California to see my mom again but I accept that we can’t do that right now. I’ve loved my mom forever regardless of the status of our relationship. And I will continue to love her. I’ve come to accept, or at least begin to accept, that there isn’t a single major act that I can do that will fill all the holes, right all the wrongs and solve all of our problems. There isn’t anything I can do to keep my mother from dying and nothing that can ease her pain or mine. So, I wrote a letter and I’ve left the rest in God’s hands. This has given me some peace. I continue to cry and I still hurt, and I don’t imagine that will lessen soon; it will probably get worse when I actually feel the loss... For now, I’m dealing with my pain and sharing it with my little family. And they are wonderful.

Tonight, I broke down and needed a minute to myself. Well, that lasted all of 30 seconds. Chloe came into the bedroom to bring me my Bible. That I totally appreciated. Then she gave me a piece of paper where she had written, “Mom: I love you. Mom’s mom: I love you too.” It was a simple little gesture, but showed that she understood my pain… so sweet and so mature for an 8 year old. Bless her heart, she couldn’t leave me alone; she got her own Bible and laid next to me. Next came Jillian who also had a note for me saying that she was sorry that I was sad and that she wished I could be happy. I spent some time snugging on them and then Nathan came in. Nathan wanted me to come watch a commercial on tv for a new and improved light saber. There’s no rest for the weary. I reminded myself that I am so blessed to have three children who want to spend time with me and who love me enough to try to help me through my pain. Family is God’s greatest gift after salvation. I am devastated that I’m losing the chance to have the relationship with my mom that I’ve always dreamed of, but I am increasingly thankful for the time I have with my own children. None of us is promised tomorrow and I don’t want to waste any of my days…

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Buckeye Pool

Today was our last trip to the pool. Sad, for sure, but we all had a good time. :)

This is my new favorite picture of Wyatt. Its horrible quality because I took it with my phone, but his expression is priceless!!!! :) He loved being in the water again, he kicked his little feet and just floated around taking it all in. He ate and napped in his little chair and then swam again. It was great.

The kids love seeing him in the water and love telling everyone that he's "our baby". I am very thankful for how much they love him. I can only hope and pray that they will continue to love him as he grows. I think they'll really appreciate when he can talk and laugh and interact with them, but I'm pretty sure he will drive them nuts when he's mobile and destructive. :)

Such a handsome little man.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dreaming of Being Mobile

Wyatt loves the backpack. I should emphasize that: Wyatt LOVES the backpack. I've been doing a lot of housework and purging while wearing his 10 pound body. :) This provides both exercise for me and entertainment for him. I think we're going to have to invest in an exersaucer very soon because he is completely done with the idea of being flat on his back. :)

He is very good at holding up his head now and can push himself up alittle when he's laying on his stomach. He talks a lot and also smiles when we talk to him. He seems to really enjoy the water; he's even taken a few showers with me and doesn't seem to mind the cascades of water at all. He seemed to LOVE when we went to the pool a couple weeks ago. He floated happily and let me enjoy the pool while the bigger kids went down the slide and off the diving board. He's such a good baby. :) I am very blessed.

Trombones and “’Me”



Nathan is in 4th grade. One of the requirements of 4-8th graders is that they participate in band so Tuesday night we went to an instrument rental night at the school. The students had an opportunity to play around with some of the instruments a few days before so they had an idea of what they wanted to play for the year. Nathan chose, you guessed it, the Trombone. It is nearly as tall as he is and I was really surprised at his choice. He’s the only one in his class that chose the trombone but he seems thrilled about it. We are renting it for now, but we have the option of purchasing it or another instrument when he decides what he wants to play long term. Early Wednesday morning – really early, like 5:30am, Nathan woke me up because he wanted to practice. I told him it was way too early to play in the house, but he could go outside and play it. When I was fully conscious about an hour later, I realized that the neighbors probably didn’t like being serenaded by a novice trombone-ist before the roosters crowed. :) Oops.



Jillian’s homework for this week was to create a model of herself. She started with a generic cardstock figure. She used brown yarn for the hair and then tied cute little yellow ribbons for pigtails.Yellow is her new favorite color. True to her actual fashion sense, she made a pink tank top, butterfly patterned skirt and blue boots all out of fabric that I had in my scrapbooking stash. She drew on an adorable face and was very proud of her creation.
And especially proud of herself for doing it with minimal help from Mom.