Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Olympic Athletes

It seems to be a tradition for many schools to have a "field day" where they play games outside all day near the end of the school year.  Our school is no different, except that it is Olympic themed.... and apparently, quite the big deal!  It has been going on for decades and is looked forward to every year.  It started last week with a "Junior Olympics Preliminaries."  Events included long jump, soft ball throw, hurdles (kid sized), dashes, jump rope and runs. They could try any and all and times and distances were recorded.  It was very hot out that day, and I was substituting (I officially started a couple weeks ago, finally!  More on that soon.....) and so was outside all day with the kids.  I came home hot and sunburned.

Today was the Olympic finals, where each kid could choose two events to compete in to try and win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.  I went again today and spent the day outside but, well......., this time it wasn't so hot out. After several hot days, today got up to 55 degrees (at best!) with only occasional sun and constant wind.  BRRRR!  But, it didn't stop the kids from having fun.  I enjoyed watching my kids compete!!!

Kenny participated in the long jump (not pictured) and soft ball throw.  He did great!

Jacob chose jump rope (not pictured) and long jump!  He ran so hard!

Meghan competed in the softball throw and the runs (basically a longer dash....)

She is pulling ahead here!!!

And finally, Ellen competed in the dashes (not pictured) and runs.

She was flying!!!

The only down side was lots of waiting between events.  They had several events going at one time, but it still took a while and lots of waiting to cycle everyone through all the events.  These times were brutal because of the chilly air and wind.  This is how the time waiting was generally spent....

Cuddled up together trying to get a break from the wind!

Here is the girls with one of their classmates.

But, when it came time for awards, it all paid off!  Ellie got 1st place in the dashes!!! (I missed the awarding of it because I went home during their lunch and didn't make it back in time, but here she shows it off!)

And then, for the runs, Ellie got 2nd place and Meghan got 1st place!!!  I was so proud of them both!  They ran their little hearts out and were really very fast!  They even had podiums to give them their awards on.  Due to the nature of the day and that they are 6, I didn't get a great picture.  It happened very fast, but here is the best I got....

This one would be okay except that Meghan isn't looking forward.

This one is good except that Ellie had already jumped down!

And then the moment was passed, so that was the best I could get!

The boys didn't win an award, but I was proud of them anyway for working hard and doing their best.  The kids in their grade are very competitive and athletic, so I was proud of my boys for holding their own around them.

So, all in all, it was a lot of fun.  I was proud of them all and it was fun to see the girls so excited about their awards.  (though I think Ellie learned a little lesson about sportsmanship.  I think she was teasing another girl that she had gotten an award and this other girl didn't. Of course, it hurt the girls feelings who said she didn't want to be Ellie's friend anymore.  This made Ellie sad and she realized what she did wrong.  She apologized and we talked about being a good sportsman.  Some of us have to learn the hard way, I guess.)

Instead of coming home hot, sweaty and sunburned, we came home chilled (I could NOT get warm the rest of the evening) and wind burnt!! All of our cheeks are flushed and red.  There was very little sun, so it must have been the constant wind!

I don't know who forgot to turn on the heat outside today.  I mean, BRRRRR- it is May 24th- Memorial Day weekend, for heaven sakes!!  And the weekend will be a little warmer, but still much cooler then the traditionally hot, pool opening weekend we usually have.

I tell you, Ohio gets more and more bi-polar every year!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

As a Parent of a Child with ADHD

Today, as I was doing my normal browsing on Facebook, I saw several (at least 5) friends who linked to this article written by Marilyn Wedge titled, "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD."   Having a son with ADHD, of course it piqued my interest, so I read it.  It really upset me and I found myself questioning the "research"- feeling it is mostly opinion based- as well as feeling a little offended that she implied my parenting was part of the problem.

My oldest son, Kenneth, has ADHD and was diagnosed right at the beginning of 3rd grade.  I never told anyone in early years but have opened up a little more recently.  You see, he is on medication for it.  I have never totally made peace with it and feared being judged for it.  Maybe because I was judgemental of the medication before then.  I still don't love it and I am beginning to learn of other possible options, but for now, it is helping and it is the only thing I know that for sure helps.  So, until I find what will work for him, he truly needs the medication.  I will explain more in a moment.

First, let me share what really bothered me about this article so you know what I am talking about.  

1)  "In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?"

One one hand, I do feel that America over diagnoses ADHD...... but can we really be sure it is almost non-exisitent in France or is it just way under diagnosed there? Are there children really struggling and therefore not getting the help they need- parents made to feel it is there fault for not parenting better so they don't seek help?

2) She describes the French parenting style that she believes helps fight ADHD.... "From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it."    So..... parents who let their kids snack might end up with ADHD? I have actually never let my children snack much between meals (not that I have a problem with that because I don't- just not my style) and yet, here we are....

3) And apparently, I must discipline wrong...." But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word "no" rescues children from the "tyranny of their own desires." And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France."   - My children have always had consistent and enforced limits. I have never been afraid to say no and I even rarely spank.  Yet here we are....  But, it must be my fault- I must not be clear enough in limits.  It is very generalistic to claim that they parent better and that is why. Some parents don't set clear enough limits and that may be a cause, but certainly not for most I don't think.  As a parent who does my absolute best, this is insulting.  They way the French supposedly parent, is how I do as well and yet, here we are.

4) And another parenting insult.... I guess I didn't teach my child self control early enough?! Huh? 

"it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa."  While this is true for some, certainly not all.  I don't think there has EVER been a doubt as to who the parents in this house are.  Yet, here we are.  

5) "The French holistic, psycho-social approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD-type symptoms—specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child's problem. In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children's behavior."   -So- a parent who chooses medication must be lazy if they are possibly aware of other options?!  When Kenny was first diagnosed, I had never heard ANY of this.  The doc we see is a firm believer that it is a true biological disorder.  Only recently have a begun to hear how diet changes and other things may help.  But it is hard when you have docs telling you one thing and the rest of the world telling you something different.  It is hard to find true- unbiased- information.  You certainly can't just go off what you find on the internet.  I truly and strongly do not want my child on medication and I plan on using this summer to explore some of these options, but I need real help (which may mean finding a new doctor) at how to try other things, how to tell if it is working (because you can't just stop the meds for many reasons) and how to work off the medication if other things do help.  And, while diet and other changes have shown to work for some, it is not totally proven and therefore may not work for everyone.  So, yes, while I am very very interested in learning of and trying wholistic approaches, it is a very blanket statement to say that many Americans are aware of these possibilities but just choose not to.  It is just not that simple. There are so many questions and it wouldn't really help the child to just stop medication and begin experimenting with them.  I feel like most parents- myself included- just do the best with the information we have.  We all want the same thing- for our kids to grow up strong, happy and successful.  

Life with a child with ADHD

I noticed that the author as well as all those who linked the article do not have a child with ADHD so it is easy to say when you aren't living it.  So, here is a little of what it is like.

-Before he was diagnosed- he was behind in school- more than a grade level behind in reading and falling fast and took a nose dive in 2nd grade.  I thought he was dyslexic but two tests confirmed he is not.  The idea of ADHD came up but I was resistant- I had my own misconceptions and didn't want to be part of a statistic and one of "those parents" who just medicate their kid.  Here are some of his symptoms that were part of the problem:

  • unable to focus to finish work- or would rush through his work causing poor quality- unable to slow down to focus.
  • very poor handwriting and horrible spelling.  Despite constant studying for spelling tests, he would often still do poorly- unable to retain the information.  Same with other subjects- he often tests poorly because it is hard to focus appropriately to retain information.
  • very active- not truly hyper active, but always very busy and active.  Hard to reign in sometimes once excited.
  • very impulsive.  Aside from academics, this is his biggest symptom- much more then the hyperactivity.  Kids with ADHD generally have a hard time thinking through things before they act. This gets him into trouble.  
  • immaturity and poor social skills.  ADHD kids often aren't able to focus and slow down to notice social que's in others making it hard for others to relate to them.
It took nearly a year of testing, having teachers do questionnaires and meeting with a psychologist before finally deciding to try medication.  It was not something that was decided quickly or lightly or out of convenience. Since he started, his grades have gone up, his confidence has gone up, he reads at grade level.  He still struggles with spelling, but it is much better and he can usually do well as long as he studies every single day.  It controls the impulsiveness- The only time he has gotten into big trouble for impulsiveness has been when he did not have his medication or it had worn off.  Each time he was fully disciplined (unlike what the article suggests)-maybe even more so then the other kids because it is harder for him to learn but he needs to. 

Here are some other thoughts.....

Imagine seeing your child try so hard to read but they get so frustrated.  Imagine meltdowns over homework and having no idea how to help him through it- both of you reduced to tears.  Imagine doing your best to reign in his activity while wanting him to be himself and yet having others judge you, thinking you let your kids just run wild (including some in your own family).  Imagine having to yell at your kid all the time for not thinking through his actions and yet, despite discipline, they do something else impulsive 5 min. later.  Imagine they make noises, or distract others at inappropriate times and continue to do so despite constant reminding not to.  Imagine seeing your child struggle wanting a friend so badly but getting continuously looked passed, ignored, or even down right bullied for not being like the others.  If you saw your child struggle like this, and medication would help, is it so horrible to try that medication? Does that make someone a bad parent, or maybe just a parent that will take help where they can get it?

Every year, the school year starts out rough and his grades drop as he adjusts to new teachers, new routines, new expectations.  By the end of the year, he gets A's and B's. Every. Single. Year.  Frustrating for all of us!  Every year, I start out with this sense of hope because the last year ended so well and then am surprised when it is rough. That happened again this year.  The last half of 5th grade was great so I thought 6th grade would start out well, especially with a more welcoming environment. It was as tough as ever!  But, now this 2nd half of the year, he is on the honor roll!

Imagine it taking until the 6th grade for your child to make their first real friend- a true friend who wants to come over and play and invite you to do things.  Kenny just this year has made a real friend.  This is something I have prayed for for so long and one of the many reasons we moved to a new town.  A real friendship just wasn't going to happen in his old school- he was too different from the other kids.  Every child needs friends and it is so heartbreaking when you know your child doesn't have any.  Especially when you hear about big parties or sleepovers other kids are having and knowing your child wasn't included.  

But here are some other things about Kenny that everyone should know.  He has the biggest heart and more compassion then any other kids his age I know.  He is gentle and kind.  He is very helpful and rarely complains about work that needs done.  Even in 6th grade, he is still not embarrassed to be seen with his family or to hug his mother in public.  He has yet to reach that "too cool for you stage." Definitely one advantage to the immaturity!  In so many ways, he is still my sweet boy with so much innocence.  It is hard for him to read- but he CAN and at grade level.  It is hard to focus and get things done, but thanks to medication and hard work, he CAN.  It is hard for him to make friends, but he CAN.  It is hard for him to control his impulses and activity, but with hard work and his medication, he CAN.  He is learning and growing and hopefully learning that if he works hard he CAN do anything.  That is the key -working hard.  He CAN do anything, but he needs to work at it.  He has always had to work harder than his siblings for things and probably always will have to. But, even that can be an advantage because he will grow up knowing how to work for what he needs and wants.  

He is an amazing kid and, as a parent, I am doing my best to help him grow and reach his potential.  I will do that however I can- whether that be through medication or wholistic approaches.  I am truly hoping to find a working wholistic approach, but that will take time to find the right doctor and the right method at the right time.  I think it is important to remember to not be too quick to look at a child struggling and say the parents should have done things differently, or that other people in other places do it better.  I just wish this author- and everyone- would stick to true research and not generalized opinions that do no one any good accept to spread information that isn't necessarily true, and hurt feelings of those involved.  

I love my son and I know him well.  I know what he is capable of and I will do whatever I can to help him reach that potential in whatever way I can.  I will never give up on him or any of my children because they are all such beautiful spirits and are truly children of God that I have been entrusted with.  I am thankful for every minute of every day with each of them.  I want them to know when they grow up that I did the best I could to help them with whatever their needs were- that I was there and never gave up.  

That is all that matters, really. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I can't believe it has been since January that I have written anything here!  At the beginning of the year I was all excited to renew my writing efforts.  I think I have a few things working against me as far as that goes-

1) lack of writing material.  My kids are all in school now and therefore they give me much less writing material.  Nobody wants to hear of my days of running errands and cleaning my house. Bor-Ing!!!

2) Facebook- I am addicted just as many others are!  It is an easy quick way to give a basic update to the day verses doing a whole blog post.  I should probably combine some of those into a post!

3) Time- Time is the age- old enemy to many- including me!  Blogging just gets pushed to the back burner, especially when I am not sure what to write!

4) Opinions-  I actually have a lot of strong opinions about things going in the world.  I sometimes feel like I need to write about them and get them on paper but I am also very shy and don't like to risk offending others or arguing with others.  I totally get and respect others opinions and I don't mind talking about them face to face, but I hate internet arguing.  It starts out as someone sharing an opinion and turns into two or more people defending their different views as if it will change anything or do anything more than cause sad feelings. 

But that being said, I really do still want to write and I am hopeful that my writers block will lift soon and I will have plenty of material (hopefully good stuff!) to share- and maybe even a few opinions. 

So, here is a basic update of what is going on with everyone!

Aaron- He has been busy busy busy!! Things are going well at his "day job" at AEP- he even got another promotion!  It is his 2nd in just over a year, but both were long over due. It has been many many years before that since he had gotten one.  It is a huge relief!  He is loving his new garage with lots more space for working on VWs.  That keeps him busy on weekends! 

Amanda-  It surprises me how busy I have been with the kids in school and me not working.  There is always something that needs done!  Between errands, appointments, volunteering at the school, church callings, helping in other places as I can, girl scouts (ya, I ended up their Daisy leader- THAT wasn't supposed to happen!), twins club, band and more- my time is FULL!  This time last year, I figured I could finally get caught up in printing pictures.  I have not had ONE picture printed!!!  I know we tend to have time for whatever we make a priority so I am just going to have to make it a priority to be able to get any of it done. 

I also just finally got signed on to be a substitute teacher part time!  As busy as I am, I figured we could use the extra cash to pay off debt, for Christmas and whatever else is needed.  I will only work a couple days a week at least to start out.  But, it will help me decide what I want to do as my kids grow up and start to build a work history.  The nice thing about subbing is that I can always be home when my kids are home- I see no time in the near future where this will not be a priority to me!  The no-pay of staying home and/or the low-pay of subbing is worth it for me to always be able to be here. I actually start tomorrow doing a 1/2 day for Jacob's class!

Kenneth-   Kenneth is growing like crazy- so tall and strong and handsome!  I am so proud of him and I can't believe he is finishing the 6th grade! He will be in the Jr High next year. How exciting for him!  His grades are good, though he has to work for it.  I think this is good for him though because he will know as he grows how to study and how to work for things at school.  He has been going through some "growing pains" lately that have caused a little bit of trouble.  I don't want to type the details here, and ultimately they don't matter for the purpose of this blog.  But, as parents, we are working through it with him and using it as a learning experience and I think he has learned.  I have total faith that he will grow into a wonderful man.  He is so sweet and compassionate and caring.  It is just another reminder for me to get down on my knees in prayer to know how to guide my children. 

Kenny has also met his first real friend- a boy named Aaron.  This is the first time he has had a friend close enough to invite over and to hang out with every day at school. (the fact it has taken this long for him to connect with other kids has to do with his ADHD and a social delay- that was one of our reasons for wanting to move- to give him a chance to make friends).  Aaron seems to be a very nice kid.  I do have some concerns over his home situation, but I think he could be good for Kenny if I encourage them to hang out here most of the time where Kenny and our family can be good examples to him.

Jacob- Jacob is thriving at school and growing fast as well!  Both of my boys will pass me up in height very soon!  He just turned 10 and had a great birthday. He had his first sleepover! I was nervous because it was over spring break and a lot of people went on vacation so I hadn't heard from very many people.  But, 4 boys and 1 girl came (with 3 boys spending the night) and they all had a blast!

Jacob's constipation problems have been improving, but are still there.  But, his reflux problems seem to be increasing as well as random stomach aches that debilitate him and keep him home from school.  Those stomach aches though tend to let up later around noon or so.  The doctor (after a few blood tests, stool samples, xrays, medications and more) finally did an Upper GI endoscopy on him to try to find the problem.  The results were completely normal!  I was happy it wasn't serious but frustrated because the stomach aches were still happening.  The doctor came to the conclusion that he has "Functional Abdominal Pain" which basically means that he has real (not imagined or made up) stomach aches with no physical cause.  The cause is usually based on anxiety or something similar. So, he is working with a psychologist now to learn how to work through them. 

We have also learned that he has scoliosis.  It was found on one of the x-rays for his stomach.  The doctor doing the x-ray asked if I knew he had a curve.  "!"  It was very mild- you couldn't really see it from the outside so we were told we would have to keep an eye on it as he grows.  At his 10 year well check, the doctor felt it seemed more obvious from the outside so it is getting a little bigger.  Still not a major concern, just something we will have to check regularly and encourage him to keep better posture. 

Ellen and Meghan- I group them together not because they aren't individuals but because their updates just naturally go together today!  They have had a GREAT year in Kindergarten!  I can't believe my babies are going into 1st grade! They were in the same class in Kindergarten and I think it went well and they like being together but we have decided to separate them for first grade.  They both do very well academically but they are on very different levels.  Meghan is average- right were she should be- reading at a beginning of first grade level and learning the basics in math facts.  Ellen is reading at an end of 2nd grade level! She reads chapter books with ease and can spit out her addition and subtraction facts easily.  Meghan sees this and feels she is not up to par- that she doesn't do good enough.  But she does!  She is doing great!   Hopefully by separating them, she can see her own talents better by not comparing herself to her sister constantly.

So, that is about it for now!  Everything else is still going well! We still love our house and our renters are still paying their rent on time! Can't ask for more than that!  Hopefully you will hear more from me soon!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Feathered Tenants

I seriously don't know why I haven't blogged about this until now.

Last fall, we entered into the world of Landlord-ship.  It has been a learning experience and, so far, thankfully mostly positive.    But we have found that even in our new home, we are hosting tenants here as well.

The feathered kind.

We noticed them not too long after we moved in- definitely by the fall, but for all we know, they could have been here all along.  Two birds (the second identical to the one here), have taken up residence in the upper corners of our porch.

I tried to get a picture of the second one, but he was a little more camera shy and took off before I snapped it- this one obviously is quite the opposite and chose to pose! (I have no idea what kind of bird this is, so any one who knows can feel free to educate me!)

But seriously, for months now, these two birds (I am assuming it is the same two birds...) leave and fly wherever during the day- probably hunting for food and doing other such bird errands.  But virtually every single night, they arrive back here, each in their own corner, to sleep. They have not built a nest, or anything else- they just sit and sleep every night. The only time we noticed them gone was after Aaron put up Christmas lights, they disappeared for a few days.  They must have been unsure as to what was going on.  But, they came back and must have decided the lights weren't so bad.

So, as far as tenants go, they aren't so bad.  They feed themselves and make no noise- we hardly know they are there!  Though, it would be nice if they would clean up after themselves a bit.....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Year, New Focus?! And Birthday Fun....

I seriously debated whether or not to try to keep this blog going this year.  I have now kept this blog for about 5 years and I have loved it.  When I first started 5 years ago, blogging was huge among many of my friends- it was the latest trend.  I enjoyed reading theirs and eventually decided it would be a good thing for me to do as well.  For the first couple of years, everyone in my circle blogged regularly and we would read each others blogs daily. It was a fun way to connect, see a glimpse into each others lives and record our own thoughts as well.  But, as with all trends, it began to fade.  More and more of them stopped blogging, especially as the Facebook craze caught hold.  Now, only a few update their blogs regularly and even fewer read them, including mine.  Not to mention my posts just haven't been very exciting- mostly just a travel log of what we are up to.  But, it is something I have enjoyed and have been proud of.  I printed a book with all of my posts from the first 3 years and soon will do so again for the next 2 years after that. 

So, this got me wondering if I should keep it up, or go ahead and let it slide.  Honestly, I just don't have much to write about, which is my biggest reason for not writing much anymore.  As my kids get bigger, they give me less material to write about!  But, ultimately, I don't want to give it up. I am no good at journaling otherwise so this is my best chance at a record to pass along.  My plan is to look up some journal writing prompts and write from there.  And, who knows, maybe some interesting writing topics will come along!  I will also probably just sometimes write my opinion on things.  There is so much going on in the world and everyone is so divided.  For those, I probably won't link them to Facebook, because I don't want to argue with those who disagree- I simply want to have a place to get thoughts out of my head.

So, to start out the year, I thought I should record some goals I have for the year.  There are so many things I want to work on.  This may be too many, but I will do my best!

1) Improved health.  I need to lose some serious weight.  I have gained to my biggest weight this year and that is so depressing.  I have been up and down and up again and I just can't believe I got here again.  I don't have a specific weight loss goal, but I did rejoin Weight Watchers.  My plan is to focus on eating better and gradually adding in more activity.  I am starting slow in hopes that by working up to things, it will keep me from burning out or stressing about it.  I don't care if I am never a "perfect size"- seriously, that is not important to me.  But, I do want to be healthy- to have more energy, not be horribly over weight, and to not become diabetic or have high blood pressure or other such problems I am likely to get if I don't get things under control.  I have been so fortunate that, despite my weight, I am very healthy!  I do not have high cholestrol, high blood pressure and no signs of diabetes.  I want to keep it that way.  And I want to model good health for my children as well.  It has been two weeks and I am off to a good start- I am down 9 pounds so far!

2) Gratitude.  I want to always show gratitude.  One way I am doing this is to be better at writing thank you notes as well as teaching my kids the importance of it as well.  For the first time, after Christmas, they wrote thank you notes for everyone who gave them a gift.

3) Blog once a week- either from a journaling prompt, my opinion about current events, or life in our family.

4) Develop a firm plan for reducing debt and carry it out.

5) Put together 72 hour kits for all of us.  I think being prepared is important and I have been taught this all my life. Yet, I only have a mediocre food storage- it probably wouldn't get us further than a couple of weeks at best- and a semi- decent water storage.  I know where this world is going and I know we have been warned.  I don't want to say "I wish I had done this...." 

6) Print at least 2 years worth of pictures and put in albums (I am about 4 years behind!!)

So, the year is off to a good start!  Life is good and we are enjoying our new home.  Our renters are paying their rent on time every month and not causing any troubles, so we have been able to keep up on both homes.  We are blessed and happy.

As with all years now, the year started off with two birthdays!!!! I seriously can't believe my BABIES are 6!!!   It is such a blessing to see them grow- they are amazing girls!  It makes me sad though only because I really miss having a baby around.  It is so hard to believe that we are done with the baby stage. It really went so fast and I miss it.  I honestly didn't realize when the girls were babies that they would be my last. I know that sounds crazy, but in my heart, I felt then that there was to be another one.  Well, there was another one but I never got to hold her. I wasn't ready to be done holding babies and it sometimes makes my heart ache.  But, I have 4 beautiful children that are growing so fast and are just plain amazing!  I am so lucky to be their mom! They are all so smart and talented and a true joy!

Ellen and Meghan had a wonderful birthday!! As usual, we celebrated on their birthday with just us, and then had a party with the family over the weekend. 

Here is the birthday girls on their birthday!

For dinner, I made what they requested. Of course, since there is two birthdays, I had to be willing to cook two dinners.  Ellie wanted her all time favorite- Meatloaf!  (Seriously, how many 6 year old's favorite food is meatloaf?!) Meghan wanted Mac and cheese and hotdogs! (At least that one is easy!)

After dinner is cake....


...and presents!!  They got princess Barbies, a Barbie car, "Tangled" dolls and their Daisy Girl Scout tunics!

The following Saturday, our family came for dinner!  And so of course....

...we had more cake! (I love Savanna's expression in this one! The hat just makes it perfect!)

Even Baby Claire got to enjoy the cake!

And this time, I was even prepared with some games and activities for the kids.  We decorated party hats, wrapped each other up in crepe paper, and.....became Skittle vacuums!


The idea here was to have skittles on a plate and use a straw to pick them up and drop into a cup.  They got to eat however many they "vacuumed" up! It was a riot and a good time was had by all.

Here is to a great year in 2013!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Review

It's always a crazy thing to see one year end and a new one begin.  As with most people, the older I get the faster they go by!  Here we are on the very last day of yet another year!  2012 was very good to us.  It was a year full of blessings, good surprises, testimonies strengthened, growth and happiness.  2011 had been particulary tough and I was not sad to see it pass.  2012 was a peaceful year for our family with many new things going on!   A few random highlights from the year:

-Aaron and I turned 35 and celebrated our 14th anniversary
-Kenny turned 11, Jacob turned 9, and early in the year, Ellen and Meghan turned 5. -We moved to a new home and became landlords, renting our old home
-We went on our first beach vacation
-Ellen and Meghan started Kindergarten, Kenneth started 6th grade and Jacob 4th grade.The kids all have great teachers who seem to genuinely care about them and help them.
-We became part of a new ward in our church. This was a big change considering I had gone to church in the same building for pretty much my entire life.  It was a tough adjustment,  but we are making new friends and are thankful for those who have been so welcoming.
-Other new friends were made in our new town.

Having just come out of Christmas, I can say we had a wonderful holiday this year!  I have learned so much about prayer over this past year and my testimony has been so strenghtened. I have no doubt it was prayer that led us into our new home.  This fall, money was particularly tight.  Going over the budget, I realized we had just enough money for basic bills-without enough left over for most of the groceries and gas for our cars- and certianly not enough for Christmas.  I prayed that we would have the opportunity to earn the money we needed to meet our obligations and also be able to enjoy the holiday season.  Shortly after that, Aaron's phone began ringing off the hook with people needing work on their cars.  It was such a blessing and so humbling to see that direct answer to prayer.  It ended up being a very peaceful season (that is, despite the viruses the kids insisted on sharing.... ha ha!) with all our obligations met and enough money to give towards gift for our kids and others.   Here are just a few pictures of the holiday season (I didn't take very many and a few that I did didn't turn out, so here is just a few):

Aaron played Santa for our ward Christmas party!!!  Kenny didn't recognize him at first but Ellen did right away! Meghan didn't know it was her dad until we told her!  He made a great Santa and really enjoyed listening to the kids and hearing what they wanted!
 Santa with Ellie! (the one with Meghan didn't turn out, which is why it isn't posted here)
Jacob with Santa!

Kenny with Santa!

Christmas Eve morning, we had Aaron's family over for brunch.  We had such yummy food and really enjoyed visiting and spending time together.  Debbie always has a stocking for everyone filled with yummy candy and fruit. For the kids, she gives $5 McDonald's gift cards. For the grown ups, we get scratch off lottery tickets!  It is the only time we play any sort of lottery so it is always fun. Aaron was the big winner and won $100!  What did he get with his winnings?   Yep.... Legos!
Christmas Eve we had a wonderful dinner and celebration at Julie's house.  We decorated cookies to leave for Santa!!
They were so excited Christmas morning!!!  They got many things they wanted and a couple surprises!  Here they are on Christmas morning- they each got their own bean bag chair!

Christmas was "whiteish-" It has snowed a couple inches a couple of days before Christmas, but it had mostly melted by then.  The day after Christmas, we got another snow storm!  And then again that weekend!  The kids LOVED being able to get out and play and spent a large amount of time out!

Kenny and Jacob made snow forts and had a snowball fight! We also found the slope in our backyard is great for sledding.  It isn't huge and I am on the hunt for a larger slope near by, but for now, this one is works.

Meghan was quite proud of the snowgirl we made together (complete with raisins for hair!)

 Last year was a very mild winter- the most mild in years!  Just this month so far, we have had more snow then we did all season last year.  It was pretty at first, and the kids have enjoyed playing in it, but I have decided I am done with's gonna be a long winter!

But, we have plenty to keep us busy next year!  Here are some of what I will be up to in the new year:

-I just found out today I will officially be the girls Daisy leader. I was supposed to be co-leader but our leader had to step down for health reasons.  She is broken hearted and I feel horrible for what she is going through.  It is going to be interesting to be the leader! Yikes!

-I am figuring out my new calling in my new ward.  I actually have 2.  One is sacrament chorister. That is easy so I just wave my hand around and no one really looks at me...  The second one is the additional RS meeting coordinator. That means I am in charge of the monthly enrichment activities for the adult women! Now this one is scary!  Planning activities is not my strength.  Lots to learn here!

-Volunteering as usual for the school in the girls room and room mom in Jacob's room.

- I have decided at some point during the year, I will get my subsititute teaching license.  Yikes!  But, it will be good to earn a little extra money and get some classroom experience to determine if education is what I want to do or not. 

-Twins club- I am in charge of the social portion of the meetings and I am assistant treasurer- still figuring that out.

So, it will be a busy year but I think it will be a great one too!  I am looking forward to what the new year has to offer!!!!  I feel truly blessed and so thankful for my family and this wonderful life we have!

Happy New Year!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Momma Said There Would Be Days Like This....

My blog has been a little quiet recently due to lack of material.  With the kids in school all day and me putzing around getting things done, well..... things just haven't been that exciting.  Our evenings and weekends are always a rat race of activity, but nothing that exciting to write about.

Today, however, is blog worthy.  No doubt about it.  I was dreading today all week long and sure enough it seems, I should never have gotten out of my warm cozy bed.

Jacob's soccer league had tournaments today- it was to be 3 games today (?!) and 1 tomorrow.  The games were to be at 10, 1 and 3. We were to arrive at 9. I was not thrilled when I saw the forecast- 50's and rainy.  Great.  What makes that harder is we just had a nice Indian summer and it was 80 degrees on Thursday!  That would make it seem that much colder.  Add to that that Aaron would be out of town so I was left to take Jacob to the games- with the other 3 as well- and be outside all day in the drizzly cold rain.  Ugh.  So yes, I was dreading it.  I hoped for a huge downpour overnight making the fields unusable and therefore cancel the event.  I didn't even understand why we had to go anyway. His team never did well and only won one game all season!

I got up and checked my phone right away but no such luck (the coach communicates by mass text).  I woke all the kids up and came back to my phone and saw a text from the coach.  Part of me was excited thinking "Yay it's cancelled!"  The other part thought...."Really, he had to wait till AFTER I woke the kids...."  But, either way, no such luck- it was just a reminder to all parents to let him know if you weren't coming. Sigh....

So, we are getting ready to go and I am gathering our stuff and I could NOT find my keys anywhere.  And Aaron is out of town with the other set so if I can't find mine, we are screwed.  I searched everywhere. I knew they were in the house. Friday I did the Halloween party for Jacob's classroom and had so much stuff to take, I put it all in our wagon and walked over there.  I knew the keys were in the wagon. I remember getting them out to unlock the door when we got home, then dropping them in the wagon and pulling the wagon inside.  So I KNEW they had to be in the house.  I checked under furniture, in bags, even in places that made no sense.  I knew it had to be somewhere with the things that had been in the wagon- I worried maybe I threw it away with trash from the wagon so I checked the inside and outside trash- twice. No luck.  I worried that maybe I left them IN the wagon, though I didn't think that was likely because I would have seen them. But, I still worried because Kenny had taken it outside to rake leaves and gather them into a pile. So, I checked outside and dug through the pile of wet the rain...twice.  No luck.

I sat defeated, crying not knowing what to do. At one point in the middle of all that, I said a prayer to help me find them and kept retracing everywhere and looking everywhere but no luck. I kept hoping for a "grand revelation" as to where they were but it didn't come and my frustrations soared.  I sat defeated a couple of times as I had been looking for an hour and didn't know where else to look.  The thought kept coming to me "Think about what was in the wagon...." but all I could think of was the bags of trash I already checked and the pans I had already cleaned and put away.... what else was in there that might have my keys?!  I couldn't think and kept looking and trying to think as I kept having the thought.... "what else was in the wagon?!"  So, I knew my answer was what had been in the wagon.  Finally at about 9:40 (game starts at 10- 20 min away!!), I finally remembered what I was forgetting.  There had been a box in the wagon with left over paper plates, cups, etc that I am saving for the next school party and I put that box on a shelf downstairs!  I ran downstairs and the keys were in the box! I had totally forgotten about the box being in the wagon.  I am so thankful I was able to think that through (no doubt with some help from above) because I would never have found those "accidentally" until December for the school Christmas party!

So, I ran upstairs and shouted for the kids to grab their stuff and get in the van.  I grab everything and load it up.  We were in the van ready to go at 9:50 and I turn the key and......NOTHING.  The van's battery was completely DEAD!!!! Seriously?!?!?!?!

I would like to say I held my temper and did NOT throw the keys against the wind-shield.... but, well, I can't say that.  But, thankfully the wind-shield held up fine....

I felt like I was apparently not meant to leave the house today.  I tried to think positive and think maybe it is God's way of protecting us- like we would have been in a horrible accident if we left on time or something.  Or it could also just be His way of teaching me a lesson to keep better track of my stuff....  

I was thinking how I would have to find the jump box, probably call Aaron and have him remind me what setting and such to put on it (has been a while since I used it), find an extension cord and so on..... but then I remembered his other car was in the garage and we could just drive that. But now, we had to unload the van and reload his the rain... and cram all 5 of us in that tiny car and get on our way- finally at 10:10.

We got there at half time of the first game.  I saw the purple shirts of Jacob's team and had him jump out and then I would go park.  After I parked, I sent Kenny to take Jacob his jacket he had left in the car and then the girls and I walked up to watch the game.  I was so busy just getting settled, I honestly didn't notice I didn't recognize any of the players until Kenny came and told me we were at the wrong field.  These were the 5th and 6th graders.  Jacob's 4th grade league was on the other side of the park.  Of course..... so we had to reload the car again and head to the other side of the park.

So, that was the biggest drama of the day but the rest was just miserable.  The coaches of our town's teams provided hot dogs and everyone brought food to share so we ate after the 1st game and it was somewhere around noon that the rain stopped but it was still so cloudy and cold and windy.  The kids and I huddled in the tiny car until the next game started at 1.  The 3rd game wasn't supposed to start until 3 but they moved it up to 2:15 to get us home a little faster. What a relief.  The kids were so bored and so cold and were getting so restless.  We brought a few things for them, but not enough- not that there is much to play with in the rain anyway. There wasn't a playground close at this park either.  After the 2nd game, Ellie asked if it was time to go home and I said no, there was one more game. The poor thing cried!  I could understand her feelings!!!  Meghan got her fingers crushed in a collapsed chair at one point and thankfully another mom had band-aids.

It was just plain miserable.  They lost all 3 games....horribly.  But, they are good kids and played hard with good spirit.  They all improved so much during the season- especially Jacob. The coach said the Jacob was his most improved of the season!!  As we were getting in the car when we were finally done, Jacob said that there would be no game tomorrow since we lost all 3 games, we were out of the tournament.  I couldn't resist and energetic "SWEET!!!"  I was so relieved to hear it was all over.  Poor Jacob was offended by that and was sad they don't get to play tomorrow so I had to retract my words but of course, really I am thrilled that we are done, despite the fact it meant they lost! ha!

Once we were home the day improved a lot.  The kids all got baths to get clean (to say Jacob was a ball of mud is an understatement- those fields were a MESS!), clean clothes and warmed up.  I made breakfast for dinner and then we went over to the elementary school where there was a Halloween activity and the kids had a great time.  I fought a headache and a bone chill all evening I couldn't quite get rid of, but I was just thankful to be inside out of the cold!  I felt kind of wimpy because, even though the other moms were miserable too, they seemed less miserable then me and more used to it.  Many said they have baseball tournaments or spring soccer that is like that all the time it seems.  I think what was hard about it to me was that it was ALL DAY with no easy way to get warm. And the crappy beginning to the day of course did NOT help my spirits... Well, I guess I just don't have kids that are quite so "sporty" and into every sport to make me have to get used to that.  And you know what, I am totally okay with that! I am just thankful that soccer is over and we can have our evenings back for family time again!  I like them to be active and involved but I am glad they also don't seem to go from activity to activity to where we are always running.  I know the coach of their team doesn't even get a break. His son starts wrestling this week which has more of an intense schedule than soccer does....  I guess this is where finding balance comes in and I hope that is what we have found. It is good to be involved, but you also don't need all these activities running your life.  A balance between activities and family time is important.  I am thankful to be getting that family time back. 

In closing, here is a picture Aaron took of Jacob after a (warmer....) game last week.  Jacob really enjoyed playing!!!(ignore the shadow, I can't figure out how to crop it at the moment on the computer I am on....)