Monday, October 6, 2014

Recent Events

 Because things have been difficult lately, I think its important to remember just how blessed we are. Perspective is so important but it seems to be the first thing to go in the midst of struggle and stress. I don't know if its true of other people, but I know I tend to get "stuck" in my head. The loudest noise comes from inside my head - my worries, thoughts, fears and neverending to-do lists... It also becomes so that I can only see the things that are weighing heavy on my heart and mind. I lose sight of those things that make the struggles and the trials worthwhile.
This seems especially true when I am not taking care of myself. Not reaching out to my friends and family. Not eating well or sleeping right. Not taking the time to decompress from tough days at work or spend time in the Word, or do the things I enjoy. And I haven't been doing these things lately. I've been feeling overwhelmed and tired. This situation breeds feelings of failure because I'm never at my best when I'm burnt out. Its a nasty cycle that, from my conversations with other moms, is not unique to me.
This is an example of one of the struggles we're in the middle of right now. While playing at the park recently, I fell down and sprained my ankle. I currently have a walking boot on my right foot and should have it for another couple weeks. I'm also scheduled to being physical therapy this week and then will be working with the doctor to determine if I actually severed my ligament and will need surgery to repair it or not. If there is no surgery warranted, I should graduate to wearing a regular shoe with a brace after a couple of weeks. I'll be in the brace situation for about 3 months. Its been painful and discouraging but, again, I'm thankful for our insurance, for the care of my doctor and for the ability to use the walking boot instead of the crutches I had to use for the first week. Those were incredibly painful because of my back injury. Oh, and if you noticed this is my driving foot -- extra points for you! I'm driving with my left foot while keeping my boot wedged to the side. Its definitely a challenge. It was amazing to realize how much brain power it requires to drive with your left foot when you're so used to it being second nature with the right!
Another source of excitement and stress in our lives recently has been the weather. We've experienced two very large storm systems in the past couple of weeks that have flooded parts of the valley, impeded traffic, caused power outages and, what has affected us most directly, overtime for Lowell as he has managed the pump houses on the freeways.
He had to switch his schedule to nights for a week or so in order to maintain the freeway system. This led to changes in our schedule, picking up the kids, dropping them off, my work schedule and his sleep schedule.  The first storm was so strong, and so unexpected that part of the major freeways in the valley flooded. According to Lowell, there ended up being  between 6 and 8 feet of standing water where there should have been a major freeway artery. It ended up that the pumps that are in place specifically to move water off these low-lying areas were not functioning. ADOT got quite a black eye due to this snafu and so, instead of having pump house employees be in charge of them during the storm, they assigned mechanics to watch them instead. This is how Lowell ended up with this duty.
The late season monsoons also led to a very entertaining mud fight in our front yard, followed by a hose shower for Chloe, Jillian and Wyatt.
This was water flowing through the wash on the east side of our property. While the girls and Wyatt played in the mud, Nathan got out his AirSoft gun and pretended to be a sniper in the bushes. He didn't shoot at them, of course, but enjoyed firing into the moving water.
Another fun experience lately was a morning spent at Goodwill. The kids and I were looking for some shirts for Wyatt as he has grown out of almost all his clothes recently when we happened upon the Halloween costumes. It was great to play around with the kids, to see their creativity and to laugh with each other. I also love teaching them about bargain hunting and the value of things. They've recently been given the opportunity to earn extra money around the house with extra chores. The kids have quite a few chores they're expected to do just as a part of helping the family and they don't earn an allowance for their participation in these chores - they're just expected contributions. We rotate chores regularly so they can learn new skills and so they don't get completely sick of one thing also, but I like that they now have the chance to earn their own money. As of right now, Jillian doesn't really have any interest in money (other than what she gets from the Tooth Fairy) while Nathan is constantly asking for money, but not too motivated to earn it at this point.
I love watching my kids grown and learn, change and mature. They're so special!


 These are just some moments with our littlest blessing over the past couple of weeks. He's been fascinated with minions, or "bee-do's" as he calls them, for quite awhile now. He loves his bee-do jammies and his bee-do pillow that his daddy got him.
We've only recently stopped swimming and the kids are convinced that we still could - there have been a couple days right around 100 degrees recently. By the end of this summer, Wyatt has gotten to where he could swim a little without his life jacket.
Lowell loves to swim and was great teaching him. I definitely have fish for children - they all love the water. The pool has been such a blessing, even though it has proven to be a little bit high maintenance because of the age of the pool pump and some other issues we've uncovered.
Looking forward to next year's pool parties and warm summer months but definitely excited about some fall weather around here. Its been a long time since I've worn all those cool weather clothes in my closet!! :)
Thankfully, Wyatt still takes naps everyday and although he tries to convince me that he's not tired most days, he's really pretty good about laying down and sleeping. At least when he's at our house. When he's at the babysitters it's kind of hit and miss. And then there are the days where he just plays and plays until he collapses. These are usually days when he doesn't sleep at the babysitter's and then comes home exhausted. These are days when we get cute pictures like this. :)  He's really good at bedtime too. The big kids take turns reading him a story in his little bed and then he either reads to himself or goes right to sleep. Such a good little man!
Lowell and I are both left-handed but all three biggies are right handed. I think we may have finally gotten another south-paw in our family! Wyatt likes to do his "homework" when the biggies are doing theirs and he likes to draw little pictures whether with chalk on the garage floor or with markers and colored pencils on paper. He also loves puzzles and he's really good at them!
Another favorite activity, of course, is going to the park. Like with swimming, Wyatt has no fear. He likes to swing "way high" and absolutely loves to push the merry-go-round. That's right, push it. He will ride it when he gets tired running around in circles but he loves to be able to push other kids. I think of it as a toddler hamster wheel because he gets so much exercise doing it! :) It wears him out!
He's such a beautiful blessing to our family and getting bigger every day! He's so looking forward to starting school and I know it will be here before I know it. Just a fun fact, by the way -- in two years, when he starts kindergarten, Jillian will start junior high and Nathan will be a freshman in high school! High school, jr. high and kindergarten. Wow. :)

2014 School Year

First day of school - 2014
First day of school 2014. While it seems today has been a long time coming, I think I could've waited a little longer. At least for the growth this day is symbolic of. Beginning today, I have two kids in junior high -- two, yes two of them. And now Wyatt will be going back into some sort of childcare situation for three days a week so I can continue to work.
Chloe 6th grade, Nathan 7th grade
It also means I am only weeks away from taking my counseling licensure test (that I should have taken two years ago, but who's counting?) and we are getting closer and closer to Christmas and the start of a new year.
As always, we're busy. Nathan wanted to do cross country but they decided to only open it up to high schoolers this year. Chloe is also taking some time off of gymnastics. She's been very conscious of how beginning both junior high and an honor's program are going to take a lot of her time. Since we've drilled into the kids that school comes first, she's decided to go a few weeks and see what the workload is like and then we can decide. Meanwhile, both of them have enrolled in NJHS - National Junior Honor's Society - a service group that is only for students with good grades. And one that looks great on college applications. (I can't believe I'm already thinking about college for these guys!)
Jillian in her 4th grade classroom
 Jillian decided to do choir again because she loves to sing so much. She also gets to play an instrument this year so now we'll have a saxophone and a violin in the house. Nathan decided to take a year away from the trombone to do art this year. I'm blessed to have children who are multi-talented but it makes choosing electives tricky! :) We'll see what next year holds.

Beautiful girl!
Chloe is interested in trying out for cheerleading as an alternative to gymnastics if we can't make that work and Nathan wants to do track in the spring.
Nathan's field trip this year is to Washington DC while Chloe will be going to AstroCamp and Jillian to the Grand Canyon. I'm excited because parents are allowed to chaperone to the Grand Canyon and I've never been. If I'm able to go, we'll be camping for 3 days in May. :)  Nathan will be going to the Capital in March and Chloe's trip to AstroCamp is in November, I think. I feel so blessed that our kids get to attend a school that gives them these fantastic opportunities to experience their world.
I'm not completely in love with a 7th grade Nathan being on the other side of the country for 5 days but I went to DC in 8th grade... Its just that I felt so much older than he is!!! :) He's going to be working at different venues to earn money for his trip and I'm glad that he'll have ownership in the trip because he's worked to pay for it.
Looking forward to a great year with these kiddos!!