Monday, December 17, 2012

Recent Events

What’s new with the Trents? Well, in a nutshell, not much. We are simply going about our lives experiencing everyday trials and everyday blessings. Each moment is simple and each extraordinary. I have been blessed by countless smiles from my children and have also dried their tears. Thankfully, the smiles much outnumber the tears.

Specifically with me, I have smiled. And cried. And yelled and laughed. There have been some dark moments recently and I’ve been working on identifying the root of my recent struggles. I think I’ve begun to narrow it down.  Again, the positive has outweighed the negative. It always does. At least in time. In the dark moments, it’s not easy to remember, but I cling to the promise that God is not done working on me and will never leave me. Nor will He fail to complete the work He has begun in me.

Why is this on my mind? Well, for starters, because I think its something we all need to hear now and then. God loves you and He hasn’t given up on you. Far from it; the fact that you’re breathing today means He has great plans for you.

For you.
For you.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve screwed up too much. I’m not enough. I never have been and never will be. Not only am I screwing up right now but there is no hope that I will ever get it right.
I am not entirely sure what “get it right” means, but I think it looks a little like perfect. And that’s a big part of the problem.

On those “not enough” days, in those dark moments, I feel frustrated, overwhelmed and insignificant. I feel powerless and hopeless. And frustrated. If “perfect” is my standard, or at least my goal, what exactly does that look like? I’ve learned (somewhat late in the game, I’ll admit) that perfection is not a normal goal. And it doesn’t even have a static definition. It looks very different for different people.

I asked my 7 year old what it means to be “perfect”. She said she couldn’t really think of what a perfect person would look like because she’s never seen one. She reminded me that “perfect people don’t sin and only Jesus didn’t sin”.  Then I asked my husband, son and daughter. Going into these conversations, I thought I would get 4 different answers about perfection but instead got 4 confirmations that perfection doesn’t exist.

With these answers, I turned inward. What is my definition of perfection? This is where I learned that I don’t really know the answer to that question. One day it means being a perfect friend – saying the right things, remembering all the details of my friend’s life, having unlimited time to spend listening, sharing about myself but not too much…. Etc. Another day its being the perfect wife – being supportive and encouraging, having an immaculate house and a hot, aromatic, delicious dinner, being sexy and playful and “in the mood”…  And yet other days its being the perfect mother – having happy, well-behaved children who are successful and kind, smart, funny, attractive and know about God. The problem (well, one of many, really) comes when my definition of perfection conflicts with itself. I need to have happy children to be a “perfect” mom but in order to have well-behaved children (also necessary for perfection), I have to discipline them.

That makes them unhappy.

This creates a problem.

And leaves me feeling inadequate and like a failure.

Because my expectation for myself is perfection.

If I can’t even define perfection, how in this big, ever-loving world can I live up to these expectations?!?!

And why do I continue to torture myself with these impossible standards? Questions I will be examining into the new year, I’m sure. This time I’m going to the source of all wisdom for my answers though. Enough trying to do this on my own.
To my knees I fall.  At the feet of my loving father. To ask Him to fix me.  Or at least to learn to love me. That’s probably a better plan. J

Light in the Darkness

During this Advent season that is supposed to be one of joy, it is my sincere prayer that the Lord will fill you with His light that can dispell all darkness -- even that of recent days.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Photo Shoot 2012

 We did a photo shoot over the weekend. These are some of my favorites.... I took over 200 pictures so there are many more to come but I just had to share these moments.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Festival 2012

Odyssey's carnival was held at the new high school this year and featured a craft faire, game booths, dance area, jail, cow pie bingo, bounce houses, an obstacle course, a haunted house, zombie lab, food and friends. My favorite booth was one where the kiddos were supposed to eat a donut that was dangling from a piece of string without using their hands... Sadly, my babies didn't try this booth - by the time they got interested in it, the booth ran out of donuts.

Highlights of the evening: Jillian laughing her way through the haunted house that absolutely TERRIFIED Chloe; Lowell getting to spend the evening with us; all the "how cute!"s I heard as I chased Wyatt around the craft faire; seeing past teachers and friends who had moved to the other campus or left the school; and of course, getting all dressed up. This year we had Hello Kitty, a Clone trooper (different from last year's Clone BTW), a rock star and a little lion.

Sometimes I just have to marvel at how wonderfully blessed I am.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Getting Better

This is my son. My first born. My tween-ager. He is my little gentleman and my snuggler. I simply adore his little giggle and I am amazed by his brain. This kid is smart. And what's more, he loves to learn. He passionately wants to be a surgeon when he grows up, so what books did he check out at the library? Not the chapter books Chloe and Jillian picked, or the suspense novels I choose, or the westerns we got for Daddy, he got one on Hepatitis A and one on cancer. Seriously. And read them both. Cover to cover. And then talked about them for weeks.
This boy is highly sensitive and has begun to think of himself as a failure and question his self-esteem. He is mean to himself and doesn't tolerate it when he makes a mistake. He breaks my heart with how upset he gets at the smallest things. And I get so furious at myself for getting frustrated at him for minor things. I guess we're both learning. And I guess I know where he gets it. That sucks.
One of his favorite things to do is talk. He loves to share his knowledge, to ask questions, and to be close to people. He and I bond in the front seat of the van. I ask him about his day, his friends, his homework, Star Wars and the like. He asks me about God, about my feelings, how eternity works, about my marriage, if I know how mountains form, why I dye my hair (he's worried that I might be upset about my appearance and he's quick to reassure me that I'm beautiful. Did I mention that I love this kid?) and tells me about nature, his fears, his doubts, his joys and his hopes.
A while back he shared something with me that he qualified with "Can I tell you something that is going to upset you?"
You can tell me anything, Buddy.
He thinks he has depression.
*pause*  Holy crap!, how horrible was that for a mom to hear? Especially a mom who suffers from depression herself and who now gets to wonder if he gets it from me.
Back up, Rani. Relax. It may be the power of suggestion. See, what started this whole thing was that their health teacher taught a class on the warning signs of depression. The warning signs he mentioned in class included feeling sad and/or emotional and stressed, having no energy, sometimes thinking you don't want to live anymore, not enjoying things the way you used to and having little or no appetite.
Nathan believes he has all these symptoms.
(It still makes me sick to think about this.)
The counselor in me kicked in and I addressed the most critical symptom first: He sometimes felt like he didn't want to live?
Is my baby suicidal?!?!!
There is a fallacy held by many people that if a person "might be" suicidal, you shouldn't mention suicide to them because it might "give them ideas".  This is unequivocally not true and so I immediately started to assess him for how serious he was about "not wanting to live". After I ascertained that he wasn't actively suicidal but just sometimes felt like he was too much of a "screw-up" to live, I broke down and tried to show him how much my heart would be broken if anything ever happened to him or if he ever hurt himself.
(I get so pissed at moments like this because "I love you" just doesn't even begin to cover it... It doesn't even come close but its the best we have...) 
His dad and I both talked to him about how crazy we are about him, how absolutely fantastic he is and how much we appreciate that he shared his feelings with us. I cried and hugged him too tightly.
That night I cried while Lowell held me.
The next morning, I woke with a plan.
 I started to teach Nathan more and more about how much control he has over his emotions. I first showed him how his thoughts control his emotions and then showed him how negative his thoughts have been. And then reminded him that he is the only one who can control his thoughts. (I'd been pointing this out over the past couple of months but never this in-depth.) Then we did an experiment - I gave him new thoughts to replace his old ones. For example, instead of saying "What an idiot, I can't believe I did that!!" whenever he makes a mistake, we came up with, "Huh. Well, its okay to make a mistake because everyone does. Now, what can I learn from that?"  We came up with quite a few "new thoughts" to replace his old ones. We've been working on replacing the old with the new for the past few weeks.
Fast forward to last night. Nathan said one of his teachers mentioned self-talk in class and how, if a student is feeling bad about themselves, they should talk to a parent or a counselor. My little Bug raised his hand and said, "Well, that can't happen to me because my mom is a counselor and she tells me that stuff all the time."
Praise you, Jesus. My message is getting through.
PS Nathan is doing a lot better, still struggling with perfectionism but getting better.
PSS I'm still struggling with over-reacting over stupid things and then beating myself up for it later. I hate it when my babies learn their bad habits from me, but I'm hoping through all this, I can show them how to walk in self-acceptance and how to extend grace. Even to ourselves.


Its been over a month since I've posted here and I've missed it. A month. 30 days. 720 hours. 43,200 minutes, because, after all, we don't remember days, we remember moments. These are some of the moments I remember from the past month.
Wyatt at the park. He ABSOLUTELY LOVES to swing. Loves it. He relaxes, puts his little hands in his lap, has this adorable, contented little smile and just swings. Unless you push him really high - then he laughs and laughs. No fear here. :)
One day we took a little break and went to the "duck park". There is a huge pond and hundreds and hundreds of ducks, geese, fish and turtles to feed and watch. Once all the crackers were gone, we sat on the bank and watched them swim around, play with and chase each other and tried to figure out the relationships they had between them. Is that duck this other one's mother? How about those two, are they married? It was fun. Especially funny were the two or three ducks who had a huge puff of plumage on their heads. Very fashionable indeed!
  This is me and my Tubba. It was all I could do to keep him from crawling out of my lap and into the duck pond. Not only does he love water, but those furry things looked like a whole lot of fun to him! :)
And, of course, little Wyatt with a bat headband in Target. How adorable is that!??! :)
Here's Jillian modeling one of her latest "BoogieWorld" fashions. She is so creative in her outfits and I've long since given up on trying to convince her that some things match and some just don't. She loves her creations and I'm happy she's happy. :)   

My girlies. :) I'm such a proud mama. There was no special occassion for this picture, the girls were just dressing up in their matching dresses and I did their hair so we had to commemorate the moment. These precious moments that make up my life. Surrounded by those I love and blessed by health and passion. I. am. so. blessed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Last Hoo-rah of Summer

Grandpa Chug left us last weekend. It was such a blessing to have him come stay to help with the childcare while Lowell and I were finalizing our moves - new jobs for both of us at the same time, school starting and variable schedules. We couldn't have done it without him. :) When he left, Grandpa left a going-away present. He paid for us to go to the pool for the last weekend it was open. So, Sunday at noon we were at the pool when the gates opened. It was very quiet - there were only about 10 people there including our family!  It was AWESOME!
The kids had a good time jumping off the diving boards, going down the twisty slide and just enjoying the refreshing cool of the water. Hubba was quite a handful because he was determined to be in the water and kept trying to jump out of my arms. He's not light and it was exhausting wrestling him for two hours. Blessedly, Lowell came and picked him up so that I could enjoy the rest of the day with the Biggies. I worked with Jillian on her swimming and we went down the slide together about 8 times. Nathan just swam around, contentedly amusing himself but he also wanted me to watch him swim laps across the pool. Chloe jumped around like she usually does - sometimes playing with Jillian, sometimes with Nathan and sometimes on her own. She jumped off the diving board (both high and low) quite a few times and also played with Hubba a little.
On a personal note, I did a back dive. It was a horrible version of a back dive and ended up being more of a half back flip but the point is I did it. I overcame years of fear and did it. Possibly more on that story to come. Thank you Buggy for the motivation. :) And your honesty. Love you Bug!
Thanks Chug for the fun afternoon at the pool. It was great!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A New Leaf

Many of you have been asking about my new job. I’m learning the computer systems and the paperwork and all the necessary evils that are required for me to do my job. And I’m seeing clients. If I haven’t shared with you, A New Leaf is a large agency in the valley of which counseling is a small portion. The counseling department is set up to offer short term counseling for those who have been victims of a crime – domestic violence, sexual assault, molestation, theft, kidnapping, murder of a family member…  We provide up to 10 sessions of crisis counseling to these victims, and in some cases their families, to help to get them stabilized. There is no cost to the victim or their family. We see all ages – 0-100.

Its good work, what we do. Important. And oh, so needed. So needed that its sad, really. We have a waiting list for both sites I work at and the number of calls that come in weekly is enough to make a person consider that cynics may have something after all.
A lot of the things I see and hear are brutal. Disgusting, brutal, sad, repulsive and sometimes unbelievable. Not that the victim is not telling the truth, but that one human being could be so depraved and damaging to another.

The kids are the worst. Sitting with a beautiful, vibrant 8 year old girl who now has to come to terms with a beloved member of her family repeated using her for his own sexual gratification. Hearing her sweet young voice quiver as she tries to describe the horrible adult things he did to her. And then watching the tears fall as she struggles with so many mixed emotions – guilt, fear, shame, betrayal…
Why do I do it? Why do I allow these crazy, depressing, painful stories to seep into my brain and heart day after day? First, because I know this is what I’ve been created for. This is what God put me on this earth to do. Secondly, because the empathy that I have for these survivors (that’s how I like to refer to them – survivors not victims) is desperately needed and can be helpful to them. How could I live with myself knowing that I can help even one of them, but that I didn’t because it was “too hard”?

The most tangible reason I counsel these survivors is because of the moments when I can look into someone’s eyes and see change. Not all of the precious souls I see will get to this point but of those that do, this change usually takes the form of anger first. Righteous anger directed at their abuser or anger directed at the universe or God or their higher power. Anger is good, I tell them. Anger is progress. Anger means they have reasserted their right to be safe. Then, after anger is processed, healing begins.

And there comes a day, maybe not when I’m working with these brave survivors, and probably not for all of them, but someday in the future, their eyes are once again clear. Their hearts are healed. They are scarred but strong.
I read a quote on one of my favorite blogs yesterday. The author is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict as well as still struggling with her bulimia. She wrote this post in response to a woman who recently lost her sister to addiction. Glennon wrote about the times she backslides... “I never feel mad at myself. Never. Shame takes us closer to that edge than any single binge will. Life is hard and I’m doing the best I can. So I just take inventory and love myself something FIERCE and then start over. Every single moment I am someone brand new.” Glennon Melton –  

I love this picture of total self-acceptance and the focus on moving forward instead of allowing shame and regret to be controlling factors. I'm going to adopt this - both personally and professionally.

I love my job. I like my co-workers, although much of my tme is spent working independently. And I'm learning a lot. I'm very excited about the progressive opportunities offered by A New Leaf and I'm thankful that I will be able to get the supervision I need for independent licensure while I'm working in my current position. That will make the next couple of years a lot easier.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grandpa Chug Comes to Stay

Love this picture. It was taken on the last day of training when Lowell and I were carpooling and decided to take advantage of having my father in law watching the kids to have an evening to ourselves. All we did was have dinner but it was nice to have some "us" time. And equally nice when I learned that Chug had come up with the idea himself and encouraged Lowell to take me out. Taking care of my babies and me. :) Very sweet Chug. Speaking of, I must say we've been very blessed to have Lowell's dad living with us for these past few weeks. The kids have been well cared for and happy and we've been blessed with not having childcare costs. Chug says the kids were really easy to watch that the Biggies did a great job taking care of Hubba. We have great kids I know, but its always nice to hear it from someone else. :)
Speaking of those Biggies, this is them on their first day of school -- Nathan in 5th, Chloe in 4th and Jillian in 2nd. As I always say, its hard to believe they are already so grown up. I don't know why it should surprise me -- they act so mature and fantastic. I am so proud of my babies. As a matter of fact, I had to write a list of what makes me proud about Boogie for her teacher for the first day of school. My list included (among other things) her flambouyant expression of her personality, her lack of concern for what other people think of her and her musicality. On the back of that paper Mrs. McNett also requested pictures of Jillian that she could share with the class for them to get to know her a little better. Granted, a lot of her classmates she knows from last year, but its always fun to talk about yourself. :) I sent pictures of her singing, modeling, playing with her siblings and hugging her Daddy.
Chloe has Mrs. Grundy, the same teacher Nathan had for second grade. She's very strict but fantastic. I adore her and I pushed for Chloe to have her as soon as I found out she was moving up to 4th grade. Chloe isn't so thrilled about it because she's currently experiencing the strict phase of Mrs. Grundy's personality. I keep telling her to relax and trust me, the fun side comes out once the ground rules have been established. I don't think she entirely believes me at this point. 4th grade also means that Chloe is now in band. She's playing the flute and is having quite a hard time with getting the darned thing to make noise! There is a very specific lip-placement required to make a flute make music and neither she nor I have it quite figured out yet. Any suggestions from the flautists in the audience???
Nathan is looking forward to a 5th grade field trip -- a 3 day, 2 night trip to Catalina Island. On the island is a facility set up specifically for science classes to come and experience hand's on learning. They will be going out on expeditions, dissecting a squid and other equally tantalizing things. Nathan is thrilled that he is going to be the first of the kids to go on a boat. And he'll be away from home for 3 days too! Such a big boy... I'm so crazy about that kid. About all my kids -- Biggies and little alike. I feel so blessed to be able to share my life with them. And to parent them with Lowell. And to still be able to do a job I feel led to do.
More about my new job to come..

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Helicopters and Clouds

This is Wyatt and his helicopter. There are different colored balls that can be pushed down through the rotors and buttons that can be pushed to make various sounds and music. They also ask him to put certain colors of balls into the helicopter. This toy also has a string in the front of it and wheels on the bottom that allows Hubba to pull it around. And pull it around he does. Hubba loves his helicopter. It was a birthday present from his Grandma Who. Its so cute to look up and see him walking past me in a room and dragging his copter and then look up a few minutes later to see him walking by the other direction still dragging his toy. Wyatt knows how it is supposed to drive too and will stop to right it if it falls off its wheels. So cute! :) Thanks Grandma Who!
Wyatt is not much of a talker, which is quite a novelty in our home! :) At 15 months he says, mama, ba-ba, da-da, sissy, ki-ki, cracker, hi, and out. He definitely makes himself understood however, even without words. For example, if he's hungry, he'll grab someone by the hand and lead them over to the pantry. Or to the back door if he wants to play outside. I love seeing him learn to communicate but it looks like he's being stubborn about his speech. I guess he'll talk when he wants to. :) He also waves hello and goodbye, gives high 5's and gives me his cheek when I ask for kisses.
It sounds ridiculous, but its been hot here. In Phoenix, in the summer, its hot. Really, not kidding. But the temperature hasn't really been the problem, its been the humidity. We've had many, many days recently where our swamp cooler simply doesn't make a dent in the heat because the air is so wet. While it is incredibly miserable to be so sweaty and hot, the weather has created some awesome cloud activity. (Unfortunately not much rain has come of the beautiful formations!) I have taken lots of pictures but cannot seem to capture the full experience on film. This is the best one so far, the sunset from a few nights ago. Finding beauty in the midst of the uncomfortable. That's a skill that can be used to deal with more than just the humidity.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Today is one of those days.I didn't sleep well and I have a lot to accomplish. After breakfast where I burnt my scrambled eggs, I tried to take a shower. After being interrupted 4 times, I yelled at the Biggies to leave me in peace and just let Hubba shower with me. Until now, showering with him has never been a problem. Today however he found something new in the shower to entertain him...
A particular part of my anatomy to be specific.
One that I don't feel comfortable having my son be interested in.

Finally we were both clean and dressed although I was even less relaxed than when I got in the shower. Thankfully, the Biggies had been obedient and cleaned up the living room but now they were all missing. I rightly assumed that they had taken care of themselves and then loaded up in the van to wait for me.
One thing I like about having all my minions is that they have extra arms. I have multiple errands planned and so I had quite a few things to bring with me - computer, purse, diaper bag, shopping list, organizer, library books... And Hubba. Because all my Helpers were in the van, I loaded up my arms and tried not to be irritated. Blessedly, Chloe jumped out of the van when she saw me coming and grabbed a couple things.

Stop one: McDonalds to check my email and check into the virtual classroom for the first day of my second-to-last class. I was really looking forward to a certain email. We're trying to sell a trailer on Craigslist.
I logged on.
No email.

Next: classroom check-in. Big assignment for the first week and lots of reading to do at home. Blessedly, I have an e-book so I don't have to buy a textbook but I'm still working out the bugs as to whether or not I'll to able to access it without internet. If I have to have the internet every time I need to read my book, I'm going to be in deep doo-doo. Praying about that one.

Meanwhile, the Biggies are running around McDonalds. They are usually very good at playing and taking turns watching Hubba. Today however, they have decided that they all want to play together (miracle!) but that leaves no one to watch the baby. It even got to the point where one of the employees brought him back to the play area because he was approaching the front door. That makes you feel like mom of the year.

Other memorable events that are sure to push me ever closer to that Best Mom Ever award:

I got him water for his sippy cup. Inexplicably, after just a couple drinks, he dropped his cup and started screaming. None of us could find out what was wrong with him. He was just miserable and I don't know why.
He finally drank all the water and still wanted something so I bought a little milk. He threw the sippy cup full of milk and it leaked all over the floor.
He tried to escape again. I snatched him up and carried him back to our table. When I had walked across the whole crowded restaurant, I realized that he had pulled down my shirt to reveal my bra. My whole bra. Well, at least one side. Fortunately it was the side that got dyed a really ugly shade of red during my most recent effort to hide my gray hairs. Feeling humiliated for flashing the whole store with my ugly half maroon, half dingy white boob, I tried to regain my composure and feel like an almost-Master's-level counselor.
I failed.

After a time in the high chair, Hubba got restless again. Time to give the Biggies another change to be helpful. This time they worked together to entertain him. With pony rides. One of Hubba's favorite thing is to "ride the Nay-Nay pony". (Whenever anyone, in this case Nathan, lays on the floor on their stomach, Wyatt will climb onto their back and bounce up and down smiling and waiting to be given a ride on the pony.)
So, in the McDonald's toddler area, my kids are giving their baby brother pony rides. Cute, in theory. Adorable in practice. Until you think about the logics of it. I first noticed it when it was Jillian's turn. I looked up to smile appreciatively at the Biggies for doing such a good job and realized Jillian was on her hands and knees on the nasty, dirty, smelly floor. Her turn was over and the words were just coming out of my mouth: "Hand sani-..." And her finger went in her mouth.

If horrible mothering was an Olympic sport, I would be proudly atop that podium listening to the national anthem right now...

And its only 10:30 in the morning.

Did I mention that I prayed for humility the other day?

Prayer answered.

PS As I'm posting this, I hear "Eew Hubba, don't eat that sock."
Thankfully it was Chloe's sock. Family germs are better than a stranger's germs, right?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grandma Who's Slip and Slide

The whole gang
Cartwheeling and playing rodeo with the hose
The Biggies
Different day, but I love this picture of everyone together... Such a happy family! :)
The kids have been loving playing with their slip and slide again this summer. It was a present from Grandma Who and Grandpa Chug last summer. The past couple days have been really humid and the water has been a blessed relief from the heat. Thanks again Grandma and Grandpa!!

More New Experiences

I recently had a job interview with a company that I am totally excited about. The position is part time in the evenings and some Saturdays so the hours would be ideal for childcare but less than ideal for me getting to see the kids... It would be great as far as moving forward professionally and I think I would really enjoy the job. Since the interview I've gotten a request to write an essay that I submitted yesterday. After the essay portion, they contact me if they want a second interview. So, as of now, I'm waiting. On the day of the first interview, I took all the kids with me because we were going to go to Mesa and meet Lowell after he got off work in order to attend a bar-b-que at his friend's house. In order to kill time between the interview and bar-b-que, we went to a couple parks that the kids had never been to. The first was just a little playground and a huge field. The second, however, offered a model jet that was nearly life-sized and a pond. I stopped at the gas station across the street and bought a cheap bag of potato chips to feed to the birds and then the fun began. 
Feeding the ducks and the geese
Jillian getting more chips for the pigeons.
See the results of Chloe's perm?!? It left her a little bit curly! :)
Nathan feeding pigeons. After this picture Chloe got one to eat out of her hand.
This led to the next picture...
Everyone trying to get the pigeons to eat from their hands. :) Unfortuntately, there were no takers.
We met Lowell as he got off work and we headed to his friend Cameron's house. When we got there, things did not go exactly as planned. They apparently did not know the whole family was coming or, most likely, in the excitement of their day, forgot about us. You see, Cameron's dog was having puppies. As a matter of fact, the kids got to see a puppy be born. Right in front of them. Jillian said it was gross. Chloe said it was disgusting. It lead to a discussion about why the puppy was so dirty... Not the conversation I intended to have that day, but I love those teaching moments nonetheless. Even if they are about birth. In the middle of a stranger's living room.
In the end, we had Jack in the Box and spent a lot of time outside talking to Cameron and his dad. A fun evening all things considered. And a great opportunity for new experiences.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

4th of July

4th of July. We spent the afternoon at the Buckeye celebration. It was raining in the morning but the weather cleared up nicely in time for the event. There were water slides, a bounce house/water slide and the same slip and slide that the kids had at their birthday party. There was food and music and also family games like sack races and Frisbee. We camped out in the baseball field with our blanket and let the kids run around and play catch and “gymnastics” and who knows what else. Wyatt toddled around meeting the people on the blankets around us and playing with the Big Kids. The fireworks were great – I LOVE fireworks!!! Wyatt had woken up shortly before they started and didn’t cry a bit. He just laid in his stroller, sucking on his bottle and looking back and forth between the sky and us. I think he was trying to figure out what was going on and to get reassurance that we weren’t scared of the loud noises. It was a very easy, fun day and I was thankful that Lowell was willing to come with us. We didn’t get home until almost 10:30 and he had to get up for work at 2:30. He’s always such a trooper when he knows the kids want him to come with us.
I’ve long said that the 4th of July is one of, if not my single favorite holiday. I love the family aspect, the patriotism and the fireworks.. And there isn’t the pressure that comes from gift buying, cleaning house, decorating, cooking, cooking and cooking… In the future I hope we can have a big bar-b-que and have family and friends over to celebrate with us but in the meantime we will keep loving our little family moments and keep teaching our kids the meaning of these days: that freedom isn’t free and that we are very blessed in our country. I love living in American and I am very grateful for those who worked 200 years ago to earn us freedom and also for those who currently serve to keep us free.  God Bless America.
Daddy and The Big Kids

One Month of Vacation to Go...

Goofy girls at the mall
Our summer has been spent either on the road, borrowing someone else’s air conditioner (mainly the mall’s) or inside our house. The humidity has been extreme and while it did bring us at least one awesome thunderstorm with a ton of rain, it makes our swamp cooler much less effective. Some days the house has been around 90 degrees and, while that is preferable to the 112 outside, it is still oppressive. Most days we ended up laying on the couch watching tv with our new purchase -- the converter box. That, I must say, was a good investment. We’ve been able to watch the news, the weather and Jeopardy!! Small pleasures!
And a couple weeks ago I initiated the kids to the world of “Fear Factor”. They are hooked. J The first week we watched contestants eating live leeches and then this past week we watched them climb into a burning building and one contestant had to shave her head and wax her eyebrows. We’ve also started watching Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior. Interesting viewing choices, I know, but they’re family friendly and entertaining. Lowell is usually asleep on the couch while we’re watching. So it’s kind of like we’re all together. With his new day shift he has to get up at 2:30 in the morning. This usually means that I’m up then too either to make his lunch (rarely) or, more likely, to make sure he’s awake. He’s still working 65-70 hours a week but he gets to be more involved with the family on day shift.

We did make it to the pool a couple days – one with Wyatt and one where Lowell watched him for me. Wyatt still loved the water and wanted to splash around constantly. His face went under the water a couple times and he didn’t freak out. By his nap time though, he was done. Thankfully that was also the time Lowell got off work and he swung by the pool to take Hubba home.
Me - trying to feel professional...
I’ve been looking for a job over the past month or so. I’ve been to 3 interviews and I have another one this Saturday. I interviewed with Jewish Family and Children’s Services twice and at A New Leaf; Saturday is for CPS. It seems that everywhere I go they keep telling me not to expect to hear something for awhile. I guess hiring right around the new fiscal year is a difficult task. I’m feeling a little discouraged but still looking. I’m also wondering if maybe I need to look into something else… Something to get by with until either I get my license in the spring or until Wyatt is a little older. I know I need to make some money but I am not sure how to accomplish that and still have time with the family… If I have a second shift, come school I won’t see the older kids at all. If I get the New Leaf job, I’ll also be working Saturdays… That means I’ll only have Sundays with the kids. All week. That’s it. I’m having a hard time with that… I KNOW I need to work, I get that, but I’m struggling with how to make it work. If I work during the day, Wyatt is in day care and I’m just paying someone else to watch him while I work. So, I’d either have to find a job where I can take him with me or where I make enough to make childcare worth it. Without a license, that doesn’t seem likely. I’m stuck. Any ideas?
Playing Just Dance
Anyway, back to our summer. While indoors, we’ve been playing, cooking and being creative. The kids play Wii – their favorites are MarioKart and Just Dance. The latter gets them exercise while keeping them cool, so that’s fantastic. (Thanks again, Auntie Leeda and Uncle Bread!!) Up until this week I’ve been going to my practicum 3 days a week but I still managed to get some scrapbooking done (thanks for the motivation Moron!) and I’m hoping to expand on that success now that I’m done with my practicum. I have a break now until September when the last two of my classes start.

August 13th we find out what classes the kids are in and Back To School Night is the 16th. First day of school is the 20th. There is a wedding in the family in late September and we’re really hoping to be able to make it to Nevada for that special event. It has been quite awhile since we’ve seen that part of the family. The kids don’t remember their aunts and cousins on that side so this would be a special treat!

And the kids have been bummed that we didn’t take a “vacation” this summer. We’ve taken a ton of little trips across town or to new places they’ve never been but we didn’t meet the official “vacation” criteria I guess. I think Reno would meet their need to get out of town overnight. J
Waiting for the perm solution. Stinky!
Nathan and I have been spending some time in the evenings playing catch. He is getting really good and I’m excited about having a little more income next year come baseball season because I think he’d really enjoy it. That is my goal for this year – sports for the kids. Or some kind of extra-curricular activity of their choice. (Again this becomes a problem if I’m working swing shift but… We’ll work something out.) Chloe still wants to do gymnastics but she’d also like soccer or track. I’m not sure about Jillian yet – I’d like to do swimming because she still needs a little extra help with her swimming but I know she enjoys being in the water.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Chloe has been desperate for curly hair. We decided to try a perm. It took about 3 hours; we went to the Empire Beauty School. Chloe turned into quite the spectacle. She had at least 3 student beauticians around her at all times. She wasn't really sure what to do with all the attention and she REALLY didn't expect the process to be involved and time intensive. Unfortunately, the very next day her hair had already begun to straighten. Today her hair has some wave in it but it definitely can't be called "curly". Chloe was totally bummed but has now comes to grips with the fact that her hair just isn't meant to be curly yet. We're hoping that hormones may help and we found a curling iron similiar to the one from the mall at Walmart that is only $30. Hopefully we'll be able to get the curling iron soon and give it a try.

During the major rain storm we had recently, we loaded up in the van and headed downtown to take a walk. We parked at the pool/park downtown and headed off down Main St. We must have seemed out of our minds just taking a stroll in the rain but it was so refreshing. The end of Main Street is a grocery store so we went in, got some drinks and snacks and then headed back to the car. On the return trip the rain intensified and by the time we got to the van we were all completely soaked! But we loved it. It was such a welcome change from the heat.