Friday, February 28, 2014

Guess Who's 6 Month Old?

I can roll over from back to tummy.
But I haven't quite mastered going the other way.

I am always moving and can turn myself in a circle if I'm laying on the ground.  

I shriek and cackle and blow raspberries.

I usually wake up smiling.  And Kenson's face almost always makes me smile.

I can't quite sit up on my own, but I'm working on it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Illustrated Question and Answer Session

Where would you store your Nerf gun darts?

In the bread basket, in the pantry, of course.

What would you sing to soothe a fussy baby?

If you are Zeke, this is your song of choice.
Doesn't matter if it's almost March.
Also doesn't matter if you know any of the words.

Why is Kenson always covered in dog hair?

Bo likes to sleep on Kenson's bed a lot.  Especially while Zeke is at school because then Bo can watch out the window for the school van to come to drop him off.  But a few days ago, I caught him napping on the bed while Zeke was sleeping.

Question:  What would you want to lay down on, while going to sleep?  (I'll give you a hint.  If you said "pillow", you are only half right.)

Under your pillow.  Because that way Mom doesn't know.  Until your pillow starts glowing as she leaves the room.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sacred Scared...from Momastery

"Listen. During the past two years, I’ve met a lot of people who ARE following their dreams and serving and a lot of people who are NOT – because they are waiting till things get better or different first.

Here is the thing that the two groups have in common:  NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING. None of the people in either of the two groups. The people who are running the world and the people who are sitting life out are exactly the same. They are all messy, complicated, confused people who are unsure of what to do next. They all have messy relationships and insecurities and anger and blind spots. They are ALL AFRAID.
Here is the difference between the two groups: The Dream Followers and Servers believe that it’s okay to be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyway. The second group believes that folks who show up have to be fabulous and perfect. So they’re waiting to get perfect. They are spending their lives IMPROVING instead of just showing up as they are. They are waiting till they’re “ready.” And the thing is that they will be waiting forever and ever, amen. Because all the good and all the beautiful in the world is created by people who show up before they’re ready."  From Momastery
I think maybe is one of those areas of life that I sort of have right:  more often than not, I have the perspective to see that most people have their own secret fears and their own messes and that my fears and messes really aren't that different than anyone else's.  But what I especially like about Glennon's words are that she connects this perspective with risk taking.  
Because I sometimes think people view me as a natural risk taker.  Because we've adopted.  Because we've traveled on mission trips.  Because I have 4 kids.  Without puffing myself up with delusions of grandeur via the opinions of others, it is a comment I have had actually heard from others.  That we are brave.  Or that we are somehow calmer or less furious in our actions than others and somehow more qualified to do certain tasks.  
The reality is I am not a risk taker by nature.  In fact, I am very much the opposite.  I wish I could tell you all the ways I am the anti risk taker.   I like the routine; spontenaity is not my friend.  I want a plan at most every moment.  I am a homebody who often avoids things with large crowds because I hate the thought of weaving in and out of people, finding parking, and getting lost.  I chose a small college because I knew a lot of people who were going there, because I wanted the small college feel, and because I wouldn't have to worry so much about finding my classes or making new friends.  I cried on my first trip overseas.  And my second.  Because I was out of my element and thought I surely had no business being on such a trip.  I hate any activity that requires being the center of attention if there is a chance I might look foolish.  (If it's something I'm confident in, I'm perfectly comfortable.)  But something random like karaoke or a weird party game and I pretty much want to hide.  
All of those things might not seem connected but they are.  They all are about being able to take some type of a risk and potentially fail.
Yet, I've somehow managed to do some things that others see as pretty risky.  Because of exactly what Glennon wrote.  Because the things in my life that are pretty big risks seem worth the risks and because they seem worth it, I'm willing to show up anyway.  Even though I don't have it all together.  Even though I might make a mistake.  Even though it is uncomfortable or might have huge ramifications for my life.  The risks that I've taken were important to me, especially in light of living on this side of eternity, and so worth looking foolish or failing.  I guess I've always figured if I made a mess of those things, that my messes wouldn't be any more messy than anyone else's.  And that if they were, that at least my mess would be a part of trying to live a life rooted in leaving a legacy of His love, of being a flawed but steady testament to Who He is.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Crazy Week Update

The end of this week was crazy around here.

On the agenda:

Parent-Teacher Conferences-Because of that, D was at school unil 8:45ish on Monday night and Thursday night.  That is a long day anyway.  Add in the next item on our list (Zeke's MRI) and it meant coordinating childcare and more for Thursday.

Zeke's MRA/MRI-Because we have decided to do surgery on Zeke's hand, he needed to have the blood vessels in his hand and foot mapped.  This is done through an MRI/MRA and takes about 90 minutes for the hand and 90 minutes for the foot.  It also requires full sedation.  So we trekked off to Children's Hospital in Omaha for the procedures.  Because of the level of contrast required, he needed to go on two separate days.  This mean spending pretty much all day Thursday and all day Friday in Omaha.  He did really well with both the sedation and the IV.  They had a bit of trouble starting his IV's but thankfully they waited until he was sedated so it wasn't so traumatic.  He was crabby once he woke up but not terrible.

Weekend Away-About 6 months ago, D planned for the two of us to use this weekend as a weekend get away.  (Parent teacher conferences do come with the bonus of no school on Friday.)  He asked my mom to come watch the kids, booked a hotel, and planned a few things for the weekend.  Of course, we weren't planning on the MRI being at the same time so it meant we needed to kind of shorten up our plans but we still managed to spend the night away, enjoy a movie (Monuments Men) , eat out a few times, and get a bit of shopping done.  Of course, the night we were gone, Kai slept from 12-8...little stinker!

Crazy week but it's in the books and we'll call it a success.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Script for the Week

"I am brave.  I am safe.  I can do it."  Three little sentences but they are powerful ones, ones that I've been using with Zeke for the last few weeks and ones that will be repeated often this week at our house.

We started swimming lessons five weeks ago and they've been challenging for Zeke.  The first session was fine because he didn't know what to expect.  The second week, I was seated pretty far away from the pool and not really paying too much attention until the very end, when I could see him struggling to keep his emotions together.  I thought he was just needing a bit of encouragement so I walked over the edge of the pool to do so which made it worse.  Lots of tears and arms outstretched, begging me to take him out of the water.  Thankfully, the lessons were almost over.

The third lesson he missed because he was sick but by lesson number four, he had decided he was way too scared to go.  He hated that the instructors made him put his face in the water.  He would start talking about swimming lessons on Monday mornings and get teary at 9 a.m..  He would cry getting into the car, telling me how much he didn't like swimming lessons and begging not to go.  While it certainly would have been easier to just let him stay home, there are a lot of reasons that he needed to go.  The lessons were already paid for.  He can't just quit when something is hard.  The other kids were all going.  He wasn't being asked to do anything that he couldn't do, just something he would prefer not to do.

So what to do as a mom?  I of course tried getting him to buy into the lessons by using the other kids to tell them about times they had been scared and to hype up how fun lessons were.  Fail.  So I started on a script which I hoped would cover the root of the problem.  (A script is just a fancy way to say "words you can easily repeat or memorize".)  I went with "You are brave.  You are safe.  You can do it."  I repeated and repeated this when Zeke's anxiety would start returning.  I repeated it as he got his coat on, in the car, at the pool, and after the lessons.  He said it a few times on his own too.

Week five was rough.  (For him and for me.)  I moved closer to the edge of the pool so he could see me and as soon as he would get his face out of the water, he needed to find me and wave, often with his little face screwed up in a brave way while his eyes were teary.  Lesson six was a bit better.  He actually started giving the teacher a high five before he would find me to wave.  We just had lesson seven last night.  And Zeke finally was okay.  He didn't look to me at all to wave and he actually jumped off the side of the pool into his teacher's arms at the end of the lesson, something he wouldn't do previously.

I'm so thankful that his anxiety has started to subside.  I want him to be safe in the water but more than anything, since he started having so much fear about the water, I wanted him to see that even though something was scary, he could get through his fear to do what he needed to do.

This week, Zeke is going to have the first part of his pre op procedures for his upcoming surgery in May.  He will be going to our local children's hospital to have two MRI's done, one on his hand and one on his foot which will allow the hand surgeon to map the blood vessels in both.  For me, it mirrors the swimming pool experience a bit.  Zeke will have to have two separate MRI's, on two separate days, with both requiring general anesthesia.  I know he will be anxious.  I will have to watch him be anxious.  (And deal with my own anxiety.)

I'm just guessing I'll find myself saying, maybe for myself, maybe for him, "You are brave.  You are safe.  You can do it."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Donut" You Know It's Almost Valentine's Day?

Conleigh was the creator of our Valentine's treats this year.  She was so cute because she had it all figured out, right down to the pun she wanted to use.  Her idea?  She wanted to give everyone doughnuts and put a note on them that said "Donut share."  She thought she was so clever!

I talked her out of the unabashedly selfish "Donut share." and instead talked her into "Donut you know how much I like you?"  and "Donut you know you are a great teacher?"  The boys were onboard with the doughnut theme so this afternoon, we took the time to assemble our school treats.  I used my scrapbooking progam to make a cute little card and we then took store bought doughnuts and added lollipop sticks and white chocolate drizzles.  We dipped the lollipop sticks in white chocolate so they wouldn't come out of the doughnuts.  Zeke helped me do that part by handing me the sticks.  Since our school has a "no homemade treats" policy, Conleigh helped me put a sticker on the back with a link to Sara Lee's allergy information and ingredients list.  All three kids helped stuff the bags, while I put the card in and twisted the tie shut.

If you know Conleigh, you are probably well aware of her love of doughnuts, so if you also happen to get a Valentine from her which means she shared her precious treat, count yourself as really loved.

Thanks, for the inspiration.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ten Fingers Are Overrated--Cutting with Scissors...On the Lines

Last week, the occupational therapist at Zeke's school caught me in the school office, excited to tell me that she just saw Zeke cut with regular scissors.  He's been doing that for quite awhile now, like maybe a month after he got his purple spring loaded scissors.  I think having those purple ones have him the ability to see how scissors worked and then figure it out from there.  That said, he is a crazy good scissor user.  He cuts on the lines better than what some kindergarteners and first graders can.  (I helped him with one side of this elephant, the part where the trunk connects to the face.  He did the other side by himself.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spa Party

Conleigh celebrated turning 7 with 3 birthday wishes including getting her ears pierced, supper at Pizza Hut, and an all girl birthday party.  This Saturday, she invited 4 friends for a spa party.  The girls soaked and lotioned their feet, did a musical manicure game that involved passing the polish until the music stopped and then painting with whatever color was in their hands, enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, and cupcakes, and played Barbies and dolls.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Conleigh is Seven!

7 years ago today, your Mama Bernadette welcomed you into her world.  (And 4 years ago today, we brought you home to ours.)  You are spunky and march to the beat of your own drum.  With a flair for the dramatic, you've got a thousand different faces and voices.  Silly words roll of your tongue often like "For heaven sakes of America!"  (Which we have no idea exactly what it means.)  You are a great reader, a lover of performance, a little mommy to your baby brother.  You just learned to tie your shoes.  You hate the thought of details.  Keeping a clean room or playing a sport with a lot of rules are not all that important to you right now.  But you did tell Papa that cross country might be your thing, especially if you get a popsicle when you finish the race.  

Happy birthday, my dear.  We've already celebrated a bit with ear piercing and Pizza Hut for supper.  One more birthday festivity this weekend with a party for a handful of girl friend will round out your birthday wishes.  

And happy welcome home.  What a crazy wild ride.  From being evacuated from Haiti on an Air Force C 17 to Mama and Papa heading to Florida on one way tickets, not knowing when you would be coming, to a scared little girl who cried for hours until her voice was hoarse and scratchy, to that same little girl slowly slowly slowly coming out of her shell.  Could it be that 4 years later, all those layers are peeled back and we have truly met the real Conleigh?
This C-17 is from another orphanage's evacuation but it's pretty much the same as what Conleigh rode to Florida on

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family!" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #7-Dealing with Crap

Crap-we've all got it.  It's looking into your bathroom storage closet and realize you have somehow bought 10 boxes of Band Aids and now are able to cover over 1, 000 owies should you ever have the need.  It's the poor lonely clothes that have been abandoned to the darkest corners of your closet because they don't fit, are ugly, or are missing a button and you're too lazy to fix it.  It's the jeans that are pajamas that you received as a birthday gift but you know you will never ever use despite dear Aunt Ethel's assertion that they are so comfy and fashion forward.  I do try to keep our crap collection to a minimum.  Because with 6 of us, there is no shortage of crap.

When talking about crap, there are 3 basic groups into which I sort items I no longer want or need:  throw away, donate, or sell.  The throw pile is pretty easy.  Anything broken gets thrown.  (And often cheap junk like trinkets from carnivals or the doctor's office get thrown too.)  However, actually throwing items away with children around is not so easy.  It involve trickery.  And subterfuge.  (And lots of sneaking things out when they aren't looking and then strategically placing more garbage on top of those things so no one realizes you threw it away.)  Don't judge me.  If you have small children, you have probably one or two broken Happy Meal toys that have met the awful fate of being buried alive under the coffee grounds.  You are maybe just not admitting it.

For donate, I generally have boxes or bags just for items I want to donate.  The first two are for boxes of hand me downs that I intend to pass on to my friends who have children just a bit younger than mine.  The third box is for a women's shelter.  The third is a box for Flip Flop Fleet which collects shoes, underwear, and bras for Haiti.    The fourth box is for our local thrift store.  To make this work, I do have to kind of have a plan beforehand and have an idea of what are acceptable donations for each place.

My last pile is for items I would like to sell.  This includes the dreaded words "garage sale."  Garage sales are a lot of work.  (Sometimes more work than what is profitable but that's another story.)  I try to cut down on my garage sale headache by staying on top of the garage sale pile throughout the year.  Here's how-whenever I have an item I want to put in the garage sale pile, before I put it in garage sale box, I put the price on a sticker and attach it to the item.  That method ensures that the bulk of my pricing is done months and months before the actual garage sale.  (Another quick tip is to not price books and stuffed animals or other small kids toys; just throw them in a box at the garage sale and have all books or all stuffed animals or small toys worth 50 cents or a quarter.  Anything like that I don't pre price; I just through it in the garage sale box and deal with it on garage sale day.)  I also have a few other options for selling items.  We use a local consignment store for most of our clothing.  They take both kids' clothes and adult, so anything I would like to consign I put in a box to take to the consignment store about once a month.  I usually average $15 a month at the consignment store.  With the baby, I've also gotten onto quite a few for sale by owner type sites on Facebook where people are selling all sorts of stuff locally like kids' clothing, baby gear, and furniture.  I've bought items from these sites and I have used these sites to sell items too.

Throw, donate, or sell-those are the piles.  Lest you think my house is crapfree, come visit.  You're welcome to see my crap that usually fills the counter that I've claimed as office space.  Just don't look in the garbage. Under the paper towels, leftover spaghetti, and half eaten apple,  you just might hear an armless Barbie begging to be rescued

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family!" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #6-Paper Clutter

I am not the world's best housekeeper.  Not even close.  I kind of pick and choose what I clean.  (Until certain things get so gross that I can't stand to look at them anymore.  Like the inside of the microwave.  And the patio doors.)  But there are certain things that I do try to tackle everyday because not doing so would drive me batty.

Like paper clutter.  It seems like it's one of those things that where if neglected, it starts multiplying.  Between bills, newspapers, coupons, calendars, kids schoolwork, junk mail, and magazines, it just grows and grows and grows.

 My best tricks for trying to keep it contained:

1.  Have a place for things beforehand.  For me, this kind of boils down to a couple of things.  I have a 3 ring binder that organizes our life.  It has my master calendar, a section for school related papers (like schedules and lunch menus), a section for phone numbers, and a section for information for baby sitters.  I have a dish drainer that I use to organize the papers I most often use.  (Unpaid bills, Zeke's Shriner's stuff, and insurance forms are 3 files I have in there right now.  Plus a miscellaneous folder for those random papers that don't really merit a folder of their own but that you know you will need.)  The slots for the dishes are just the right side for keeping a file upright and I use the silverware basket to hold my unpaid bills, a checkbook, and address labels.  Our dining room has a built in desk area with drawers for filing which is where I keep the paid bills, warranty information, insurance policies, etc..  I also have another binder that is for my coupons.

2.Only touch it once.  I try to only touch paper stuff once.  This means when I bring in the mail I quickly sort out the junk mail from everything else and put it in recycling.  The bills I put in my bill holder until I am ready to pay them.  Invitations go into my binder and get written on the calendar.  School lunch menus get punched and put into my binder.  I have a file for insurance paperwork, a file for Zeke's Shriner's stuff, etc. so that I can quickly put those things away.  I try to deal with papers as soon as they enter the house so that I can avoid the dreaded piles of paperwork.

I also try to follow those two tips when I deal with my papers from my kids' school.  Each of my school age kids have a clipboard on the end of our desk space.  When they unpack their book bags, any papers get clipped to the clipboard.  The papers stay there until I am ready to look at them.  Then, I recycle what we aren't keeping, send back to school what needs to go back, and file anything that looks important that I might want to keep for them to look back on.  We also have a display wall in the hallway with clipboards where the kids can display their papers.  Each kid has two clipboards.  This means they can only hang up two pictures at a time.  That means they have to do some thinking about what they want to display.
This is a real life photo.  Note the large box on the floor, the messy winter clothing, and the half erased chalkboard.

And what to do with those papers you want to keep for your kids? At our house, each kid has a large box in the basement.  Any papers they want to keep get placed in the box.  I do try to date the pieces but other than that, there really isn't any organization to the boxes.  I just toss the papers in and I'm hoping that one box will be sufficient for each kid through high school.