Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas and Such

Merry Christmas dear friends. It's been a busy month, a crazy year, and I'm relishing a day without a whole lot of extra responsibility (other than two rather whiny children who aren't feeling well).

The last month has consisted of:
    • decorating the cottage for Christmas.
    • meeting our first three new girl and all the organization, adjustments, and other work that must go on in setting up a new cottage as well as getting new kids
    • 11 Christmas parties
    • one flight to Austin
    • a week in Austin with aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandparents/great-grandparents
    • two sick kids
    • one flight back to Charlotte
    • meeting a fourth new girl who arrived while we were off for a week
    • continuation of the two sick children which has required an almost constant rotation of holding a child on my part for several days now
    • Christmas Day itself--which is where I sit now. One child still running a fever and miserable, another child coughing, but less miserable. 
Not exactly the simplest of Christmases, but in many ways far less complicated than others for the simple reason that we don't have a whole lot of plans. The girls are gone for the day, so we're luxuriating in a quiet family day, recuperating--theoretically. And perhaps Blueberry will eventually feel better enough to want to open presents.

So I wish you all a merry Christmas. May your family be healthy and blessed!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Week One on the New Job

Monday was our first day official day on the job. We are now one week in. No kids, but lots of work has been done.

To begin with, we've had the usual training items (which for a houseparenting position encompasses a little bit of everything from menus, school schedules, using epi pens, picking up groceries and household supplies, appropriately recording medications, and documenting the lives of the children).

While trying to wrap our minds around the specific idiosyncrasies of the function of this particular campus (I've been watching a lot of Big Bang Theory lately--I think it's affecting my large word usage), we've also been pouring hours into cleaning up our cottage.

At this point, our apartment is looking quite nice. Not perfect, but comfortable and cozy. What I'm referring to is the rest of the cottage, where the children live and we spend the rest of our days while working. This used to be a boys cottage, and has been empty for the last half a year or so. The design of the cottage is great, but Harley Davidson helped finance the redecoration of it a number of years ago. And therefore, the decor is....Harley Davidson. Well, "was" Harley Davidson. After a week of hard work, it's much more girly and less motorcycley. Additionally, we had to get the Christmas decorations up as well.

One of the best experiences of this week was having nearly all the houseparents on campus come over one day and help clean the cottage from top to bottom, decorate, move furniture around, etc. Without this help, we would still be scrubbing the toilets at this point. It was such a blessing.

On top of all this, Baby Q decided to develop a nice case of croup, requiring me to hunt down the Urgent Care in town, fight with our old insurance, and have several very worried nights.

Additionally, we bought tickets to fly to Texas for our week off in December, so we can spend some time with some beloved family. Haven't told Blueberry yet that she's going to get to see the Cousins again, but as they've been a frequent topic of conversation since we saw them this summer, I imagine she'll be pretty pleased.

Oh yeah, and it was Thanksgiving this week. I nearly forgot that part. Bit of an unconventional Thanksgiving for us this year, but pleasant nonetheless.

One day of rest and Monday we get the first of our new childrens. Yay!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Living in Small Spaces

The last few years have been a lesson in downsizing. One way to really get some impetuous to downsize is, apparently, to just move to smaller dwellings. Moving from Missouri to Arkansas was somewhat of a downsizing process. Moving from Arkansas to North Carolina has absolutely been a downsizing process.

We left quite a few pieces of furniture in Arkansas and got rid of a large amount of excess "stuff" before we left. 

I sit in my new living room with a sense of satisfaction that the house is decently well set up (still some work here and there, but primarily it is as it shall be--including pictures on the walls!). 900 square feet for four people required quite a level of finagling, but I am pleased with the end result. Now, having said that, I do have a pile of things to sort through and determine what to do with them. Fortunately there is a room in the main cottage that I can use as a staging area for now, which has been a huge benefit.

One of the adventures in all of this has been determining the best way to tidily situate our belongings. Our apartments are very much designed as a square. A combined living room/kitchen/dining area. Two doors lead off to two bedrooms with decent walk-in closets. From those rooms are two more doors which lead to a nice-sized bathroom. In all, an almost perfect square.

Thinking outside the box has been the largest key to all of this. One of my favorites is my "office in a chest". I have a large cedar chest that has been the home of various items over the years. The latest design is for all office supplies, including holding our printer inside! When needed, lift the lid, plug it in, and viola. Otherwise, it is tidily out of the way.

We are now living in the land of recycling. Fortunately, it's not one of those majorly complicated recycling systems, but it still requires the use of two garbage cans. Now I don't have room for two cans in our house. At all. So just outside our kitchen door--which is an outside door--is a second garbage can, perfect for the temporary holding of recyclable items.

This is the view of our living room and kitchen from the inside doorway to the apartments. The two light wood carts are rolling islands we brought with us from Arkansas. They have been my saving grace with this kitchen as the entirely of our kitchen counter-space is a fridge, one foot wide counter, double-sink, and oven. One of the islands I will actually roll in front of the oven and back out as needed. Huge space saver.


 I've gotten inventive, as well, with storage, For example, the green cabinet in the living room contains our games but also has a shelf devoted to snacks, etc.


Our new table is a high-top, and we've utilized the space under the chairs for a few items like the kitchen stool! 


My spices are now kept entirely on the wall. Two spice shelves and then we bought two magnetic storage strips upon which I have placed the rest of the spices. I've used old baby food jars for many of my spices, and the metallic lids of the jars are perfect for holding them up! Still need to put labels on the bottom of the jars.

My favorite space saver came, mostly, from Ikea. We've put into storage the majority of our dinner plates,etc and pulled out a smaller basic set. On our wall, then, is the space to hold all our plates, mugs, utensils, napkins, salt/pepper shakers, etc. 


So, just a glimpse of our new little home in all it's coziness.

I have not mentioned here my favorite design of it all--the large windows that are in almost every room. Pretty views, beautiful light. It keeps me very happy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hmmm.....When Life Doesn't Go as Expected

It's been awhile since I've posted. In looking back over my blog, my last post was about the concept of contentment and trust in the Lord. And then my world went crazy and has since been put back together again. In North Carolina.

Did I mention we moved this last month? Because, yes we did.

I feel rather like God said, "Be content and trust in me....now let me kick you in the rear and move you on to somewhere new. All during which I expect you to apply these lessons in contentment and trust."

Sigh. And so in the past month:
  • I've hit a low point in dealing with a certain child
  • Lost all trust  and a great deal of respect several times over for my then administrators
  • Found myself in yet another swirling whirldwind of God moving in our lives quickly and decisively including getting hired for a job without ever formally interviewing, visiting where we would be moving to, or even meeting our new boss in person until we had already been settling in for a few weeks!
  • Started packing before having a place to go
  • Said farewell to some good friends
  • Dealt with Turtle and Kitty Cat moving to another cottage with only one day's notice (not a happy move for any of us)
  • Gained a new girl a few days before we left
  • Said goodbye to all our girls
  • Packed up my house
  • Carved pumpkins (Baby Q ate some of his--Blue got bored and we wound up drawing a face on hers)
  • Gotten physicals and TB tests--the day we were leaving Hot Springs 
  • Met three new babies of good friends
  • Said farewell to our beautiful Calista as she went to live with another family (we can't have a dog here and she would not have done well with the long move)
  • Traveled to Springfield--twice in the span of three weeks
  • Driven a car (with Baby Q in the back seat) while Chris drove a van with all our worldly goods (and one Blueberry who was thrilled with driving with her daddy) from Arkansas to North Carolina via Missouri
  • Acquired one ticket for expired tags
  • Reunited with a wonderful family and ex-co-workers, now current co-workers
  • Worked on unpacking into our 900 square foot house--still in the process of downsizing
  • Rejoiced in living somewhere with windows--lots of windows
  • Got a new driver's license
  • Renewed our car tags (ahem)
  • Visited Hillery and family who now live only 3.5 hours away
  • Driven through gorgeous scenery of fall in the mountains
  • Worried over a very hot, very sick little boy who turned out to have caught a case of Roseola before leaving Hot Springs
  • Visited and fallen in love with Ikea (even better than I ever imagined)
  • Met a whole bunch of new people/co-workers
  • Watched my son start pulling up and standing on everything and then start creeping along while standing
  • Watched my daughter grow another inch and suddenly become Miss Independence
  • And got to go on a date and watched Ender's Game
 It's been hectic. And yet in all of this, I feel more peace and calmness than I have for quite awhile. Funny how God works, isn't it?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Does God Ever Hit You Over the Head With a Concept?

Wham. Wham. Wham.

For days now, I feel like I'm getting hit over the head with a word. It's coming at me from every direction. From the person who is (ironically) a large part of the reason for some of my discontentment--wham. From my devotional time--wham. From my reading of blogs--wham. From posts on Facebook--wham. From a text--wham. From a magazine article in a doctor's office--wham.

Contentment.
Contentment.
Contentment.
Contentment.
Contentment.

OK, I get the message. Stop already before I wind up with a bruise on my forehead similar to my daughter who has managed to solidly whack herself hard in the same spot three times, two days running.

Contentment!

Contentment
a state of mind in which one's desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim. 6:6; 2 Cor. 9:8). It is opposed to envy (James 3:16), avarice (Heb. 13:5), ambition (Prov. 13:10), anxiety (Matt. 6:25, 34), and repining (1 Cor. 10:10). It arises from the inward disposition, and is the offspring of humility, and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude and benignity of divine providence (Ps. 96:1, 2; 145), the greatness of the divine promises (2 Pet. 1:4), and our own unworthiness (Gen. 32:10); as well as from the view the gospel opens up to us of rest and peace hereafter (Rom. 5:2).
BibleGateway


In other words, get over jealousy, irritation at the little hills we have to face every day, grumbling at the changes in the weather (both literal and as are related to other areas of life), anger when things don't go quite as desired, and even the self-criticism that leads to discouragement and more frustration.

Focus on God.
Trust.
Find Peace.
Be Content.

No things may not be what I want. My house may not look as I desire, my mornings may not start out with that perfect quiet time, my baby may teeth, my other children may fight, my three year old may bonk her head over and over and over again, my husband may have a broken foot, I may have to run 50,000 doctor appointments in the span of two weeks, and I may or may not get a full night's sleep, I may not be eating a perfectly healthy, whole-foods diet, and I might not have succeeded in fulfilling a single one of my day's plans due to the teething baby and the lack of sleep. And I might never get one voice of recognition for the hard work I'm putting in on a daily basis, while others may have praise heaped upon them who have only been doing this work for a few weeks. I may not be planning a trip overseas. I have bills that need paying and a refrigerator that needs stocking. Kitchen counters that need cleaning and a car that desperately needs an oil change. I may feel completely alone at times, and frustrated with more things than I can count.

And it's okay.

Because God has placed me here. At this time. In this place. With all of these people.

He has always provided. He will always provide.

He knows my limitations. He knows my needs. He sees my successes (and my failures).

All I can do is TRUST in Him for His PEACE. And in so doing, be CONTENT with where I am at in all aspects of my life.

Now to actually live the words that are easier to write.

Which leads me to the next word that has drummed through my head:

thankfulness.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

More Books

Book Review time!

1. Stepford Wives. Short summary: weird town where all the women are extreme homemakers with no time for anything else but scrubbing and cooking and serving their families.

I've seen (and actually own) this movie. As usual, when I ran across the book on paperbackswap recently, I had to get it because I just have a thing about reading the books that movies are developed from. Primarily because the books are nearly always substantially better. But not always. As was the case here.

Its an interesting read, and I think would have been a better read if I hadn't already known what was going on. I did not like the feminist movement attitude throughout the book of "only robotic women would possibly be the kind of women who really find fulfillment in caring for their home/family". Granted, the book took it to the extreme, but the undercurrent of anti-homecaring women was still there. And frankly, the movie end was far better. More, the good guy wins, and therefore, less depressing. Wouldn't recommend it.

2. Life of Pi. Short summary: son of a zookeeper is on a boat with his family, moving from India to Canada while transporting some of the (now closing) zoo's animals with them. Ship sinks, he winds up in a lifeboat with several very odd companions--including a tiger. Survives for months.

This is one of those books I've heard all sorts of mentions of, and again finding it on paperbackswap the other day, I ordered it. Great read. Fascinating story and the writing itself is fantastic. If you want a quirky, somewhat mysterious, insightful, thought-provoking read, go for this. Now how they are going to turn this into a movie with substance, I'm really not sure. Because what drove the book was not the action (I mean, come on, the guy is stuck on a life boat for months--how much action is there really!) but the language and insights. I don't know how well that's going to translate into screen.

3. Alex Rider. So I admit to being a sucker for young adult fiction. While I love a good "grown up" novel, I enjoy the easy-reading, perspective, and frequently simpler or faster pace of good young adult fiction. This summer, Turtle was reading through this series of books. As I'd not heard of it, and my sometimes reluctant reader was absolutely devouring them, I figured I'd better get in on the action. And action it is. Decent writing, good story line, it's a teen MI6 agent. Hard to explain, and despite the implausibility of the book, the stories feel plausible. If such an oxymoron can exist. Mystery, action, adventure...loving this series. (just picked up book 5 for Chris from the library this morning).

4. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Short summary:  Glady Aylward was a young, single woman in England who felt called of God to go to China. Despite being told no, she overcomes a bunch of obstacles and ends up going any ways. She serves as a missionary in the remote regions of China with all sorts of crazy adventures, and ends up saving about 100 children from the Japanese occupation of China.

Growing up, I watched this movie more times than I can count, but I hadn't seen it in years. Then, on Netflix the other day, I found it! So I settled in for a bit of nostalgia, and to introduce my husband to a good movie. The movie was every bit as good as I remember, and afterwards we started talking about how the whole story is based on a true story. I got intrigued to know the "real" story of Gladys Aylward, and so snagged myself this book. And wow, as much as I love the movie, the full story of her life is even more incredible.

5. Children's Literature. Our favorite library finds of the last few months for Blueberry were the following:
  • Poppleton. A multi-book collection of rather mundane stories about a pig called Poppleton and his friends. Cute despite the mundane. And I love the fact that they're old enough to not be entirely politically correct.
  • Love the Baby! love, love, love this book. So cute. Its now on my "to own" list. About a little rabbit who gets a baby sister and is told by everyone to love on his sister. He doesn't want to because everyone keeps doing all of his special things with her. Until he eventually caves and does love her. Great illustrations and super sweet writing.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Outside my window...it is dark. The weather is supposed to drop from low 90s today to 75 tomorrow! I'm all for this, as frankly, it has been difficult to go outside and do much for the last while because it's just been so hot.

I am thinking...of my poor husband. He took a spill at Walmart a few weeks ago (no sign, very wet floor). Hurt the left side of his body. Went to the doctor, xrays, etc. Nothing broken, so we thought. He's continued to have some back pain and such. Went to the chiropractor. That helped the back, but his foot (which slammed down on the ground during his slip) has begun hurting more and more and more to the point he got today where's he can barely put any pressure on it at all. We were off, heading back on duty, decided he needed to have a doctor look at it again. Long story short, he might have had a hairline fracture on his left foot from the fall. It's difficult to tell, but the x-rays show calcium deposit which can be indicative of a healing fracture. So he's supposed to be getting crutches tomorrow and being on crutches for the next few weeks. Praying that taking the pressure off is enough to heal this up and that it doesn't have to go any further than that.

I am thankful for...5 consecutive hours of sleep. We've been transferring Baby Q to room with his sister as he's been really restless at night and nursing all night and just not been getting enough sleep for him or for me. It has been a blessedly easy transition. I feed him right before I go to bed and then he's nursed once in the middle of the night and then early morning and gone straight back to sleep both times. Leaving me to have a good solid 4-5 hour chunk of sleep for the last few nights. I can't remember the last time I had that long of sleep. 

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Q is crawling everywhere. Had his first real lessons involving the word "no" the last few days. Is learning slowly :)  Blueberry is just growing up so quickly. She is putting concepts together in a frightening manner. You can't talk about anything in front of her any more because she'll bring it back out (knowledgeably!) at any given time!

From the kitchen...was a pathetic show of cooking the last few days. We just came off another 15 day shift, and I was wiped. Fortunately, between leftovers, the chef deciding he wanted to try cooking again (he's been out, poor man, due to an arm injury), and going out to eat as a celebration with one of our girls (Kitty), my cooking total has been some pasta, and tonight I made some rice and a Thai omelet. Pathetic but much needed rest. With the chef being out and working 36 of the last 42 days prior to being off now, I've done an awful lot of cooking. The lesson I have learned is that while I enjoy cooking, I don't want to own a restaurant. Ever. Master Chef I watch and enjoy. I have no desire to be a chef.

I am wearing...a nursing shirt and jeans. My hair is brushed, which is more than can be said for earlier today. Sad, I know.

I am creating...organization out of chaos. My house feels messy right now, but that's in large part because I'm in the middle stage of a sorting project. Why is it things have to get messier before they get cleaner? Or is that just me?

I did get through Blueberry's room today with much labeling and some surreptitious tossing of some toys. Also boxing up some others that will get pulled out in a month and traded out. The chaos was driving me crazy, and if I have to be walking through there in the dark in the middle of the night, the toys needed to go or there was going to be two of us on crutches!

I am going...to do the dishes in a minute, before passdown (when we go back on duty with the cottage) starts. 

In my mailbox today.. .was I have no idea because we didn't check. What I'm hoping will be here tomorrow is my new pair of Cushe shoes that I ordered. In my current state of trying to simplify many things in my life, one of those things is my wardrobe. Simplify but also keep nice/upgrade in some areas. I've decided that my body is needing more support than the shoes I've often wound up with in the past that fit fine and were adequate but not necessarily great. Since I'm not a huge shoe person (read, if they fit and look nice, I'll wear the same pair of shoes for ten years before I finally cave and buy something new), I've finally decided to get rid of a lot of my other shoes that are getting worn out and replace them with quality and comfort. Which will hopefully last a long amount of time and provided me the support I want. And as I have no problems wearing the same three or four pairs of shoes all the time, this should work nicely!

I am reading.. .nothing right now, surprisingly. Well, other than some blogs. I just finished a number of books (list to come soon, I hope), and really haven't had time to settle into a new book.

I am hoping...that Chris' foot heals quickly because I am not looking forward to the extra work this might cause for me. I know, so selfish!

I am hearing...the blessed peace of a noise machine over the baby monitor. And no crying baby. Sleep, sweet darling. You need it.

Around the house...as previously stated, it's somewhat chaotic, somewhat organized. Anyone just stepping in might look askance right now, but I know where it's all going, so I'm okay with it.

One of my favorite things...crab. Good crab.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Survival? Take care of a few things that I've been avoiding. Care for my husband and all my children. 

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...
He loves his toes.

And sticking his tongue out.

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 30)



#1 - The problem with Conversion Diary is that Jennifer Fulwiler (the author of said blog and originator of 7 Quick Takes) is that she is, while thought-provoking and insightful can also be hysterically funny. This humor, in and of itself, is not so bad until you're trying to nurse to sleep your non-compliant seventh month old and you find yourself shaking, trying not to giggle (and thus wake up the finally-falling asleep little boy). For a giggle yourself, have a peruse of this 7 Quick Takes.

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#2 - We are on day 13 of 15, again. Fortunately, knowing we were going into another long shift, we scheduled some time together while we were off last. So we actually had a date. Without either one of my children! Baby Q did okay--his first time without mommy for more than a short period of time. Fortunately, he randomly decided that bottles are not so bad, not his favorite, but he'll take them at least somewhat. And since we started doing some food a few weeks ago, he made it through. Although he did immediately give a shrill cry the moment he saw me!

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#3 - On the topic of Baby Q, I now I have sitting up and very mobile little boy. He's combining crawling with army-crawling, and is, frankly, a menace. I leave him one place, turn around, and 15 seconds later, he's all the across the house. Finding the one piece of plastic that is floating on the floor. Or pulling the kitchen garbage can down on his head....minutes before we're heading out the door to an appointment....sigh. I foresee a lot of running in my future.

*****************

#4 - Doctor appointment--Baby Q is now 19lbs 7oz. That makes him only eight pounds less than his sister. Who's betting he's going to beat her before his first birthday? On the other side though, Blueberry is now on the chart for her weight!! A whole 10th percentile! Miracles do happen. Doctor is finally off my back though and is agreeing with me that she's just inherited my family genes--short and small. Best kind.

*****************

#5 - To make this shift even longer, this last week we had a doctor's appointment EVERY SINGLE DAY. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. And one of the girls was home sick Wednesday and Thursday. Sigh. I love my job, but my down time during the day throughout the school year is huge. And when we don't get it, I get really tired. And truthfully, during six days, eh, a shift like that is annoying but not killer. When it's days eight through twelve of 15, you start losing your mind a little bit.

I think I could have done with a little less of the introvert gene and a bit more infusion of extroversion in my personality. It would probably help matters greatly on weeks like these when, by the end, all I want to do is hide from the world for awhile. Not that I'm angry with anybody or upset really, I'm just drained and needing some space.

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#6 - My arms are sore. And surprisingly they're not from lugging around Baby Q (for once). No, this time they are sore from playing a video game on the Xbox Kinect. It's called Fruit Ninja and is much fun. Slashing fruit with your hands like you're a Ninja. Except then you wind up with sore arms. Oh well, I needed a workout.

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#7 - Last night I read something that really made my day. Uplifted me, in fact. Robin McKinley has been one of my favorite authors since I was young teenager (I'm pretty sure I was 12 or 13 when I first read a book of hers--Beauty). She writes fantasy, and is just a fabulous writer. Her worlds are so alive and her character development is inspiring. My only complaint is she has a thing against writing sequels, and so has left several worlds with no sequels that are screaming out for another book!

Any ways, I read her blog, well, I used to. Then over the last year I've really had a hard time keeping up with anybody's blogs. Just recently (as in the last month/few weeks), I've been changing that again, and enjoying getting back into that realm of reading.

One of my complaints about reading her blog in the past was she could be sometimes a little depressing. She's not a Christian, and it sometimes shows strongly. Not so much in her language but just in the hopeless tone that sometimes would creep into her writing on her blog. She has also spoken pretty strongly against religion/Christianity a few times.

Well, you can only imagine my delight upon reading a post of hers the other day that stated "...this time last year while Jesus was gripping me by the back of the neck (rather like Southdowner with a recalcitrant bullie) and saying, You’re MINE now, get used to it."

I was startled. Excuse me? Robin McKinley talking about Jesus? Talking about Jesus claiming her? What?! So I did a search on her site for "Jesus" (love search engines) and just around the time I quit reading last year--SHE BECAME A CHRISTIAN!

I'm thrilled. I needed an uplifting. I'm feeling tired and discouraged, and even though I have never met this woman, as a writer, she has been one of those people who I have followed my whole life (I've even emailed her a few times with writing questions) and to see the Lord work in her, bring her to a relationship with Him, is so encouraging.

Thanks Lord for some good timing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mommyhood

It's a baby boom again. Lots of friends having first babies and several having second or even third babies.

I shall not lie, I am glad I am not a first time mom anymore. Things have been so much easier with Baby Q than they ever were with Blueberry. Part of it, I think, was due to the birth experience itself and the lack of stress I felt post-labor. Part of it, though, is definitely the comfort of knowing what I'm doing, what's going on, and even who I am as a mom.

So many questions the first time around. Cloth diapers--yes or no? Co-sleep? How about bottles? Pacifiers? Baby food--make my own? Or stumbling onto the concept of baby-led feeding. How to nurse. How to take care of  plugged ducts. Baby is sick--time to panic or not?

Knowing what I believe, how I prefer to raise my kids, what works for our family. All of these things are so much simpler now. I'm a much more relaxed mom of newborn this time around.

So happy new mommy-hood my dear friends. It does get easier.

In some ways..... :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Continuing to Catch up From the Summers--a visit

So what other craziness did we get up to this summer? Well, one of my most fun things were two sets of visitors.

The first set of visitors came in the shape of Chris' aunt and uncle and their six children. My word how tall they have all gotten--the children not the aunt and uncle!

It was just an overnight visit (no, they didn't stay with us--sadly we just don't have that kind of room for guests!), but very much enjoyed nonetheless. We broke bread together twice and took a couple of walks: one around our beautiful campus and the other to downtown Hot Springs to look at--what else--the hot springs!

Oh, and the trip had the added benefit of proving to Turtle that "normal families" really do drive big white vans so she can get off her high horse about having to drive around in the cottage white van.

As it was simplest to explain to Blueberry that these were her cousins (as opposed to first-cousins-once-removed on your dad's side...at least I think that's how that works), she has since stated multiple times "do you 'member by cousins come visit? I like them." All in all a very encouraging statement towards future visits!






Friday, August 23, 2013

And in continuation....

Baby Q is sick more--fever and another bout of "mommy don't you dare put me down."

Blueberry now sick and throwing up with a high fever.

Sigh. So much for my last day off. Oh wait, now I have another day off. To care for my two sick children.

Would anyone like to come and clean my house?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Catching Up from Summer

I am sitting on my couch, watching Kingdom (thanks Hillery!), and luxuriating in the bliss of not having an appointment to get taken care of. Oh yes, my "to do" list is still about a mile long, but I'm ignoring it. The deadline appointments are done with for at least a few days, and I'm trying to decompress instead. That and get my brain out of a gluten fog.

Let's start with that.

We're on our second off day after working 15 days in a row. I really am not a huge fan of double shifts. We've done them a few times, and I know some people who don't mind them, but I'm afraid I'm just not one of them. I think it's my introverted nature that starts screaming out to be left alone for awhile, and during the summer--particularly a summer with a baby--it is 24/7, or in this case, 24/15. During the school year it's not so rough because we get some down time during the week day (normally).

This particular double shift was even more intense than normal due to a combination of factors:

1. We have another new girl in the cottage. I've decided to call her Kanga--she's had some physical issues and is currently on crutches (and might be for quite awhile)--thus the nickname. 10 years old, she is fun and, so far, pretty easy to get along with. We'll see how it goes after the honeymoon period  wears off. Settling in new residents always takes a substantial amount of work just in balancing out all the rest of the residents in the cottage as they shift and shuffle in their social network, trying to settle themselves into new places.

2. Another factor in the shuffling of social layouts was that our Labrador moved to another house two days before Kanga moved in. Labrador was quite a strong factor in the house, to put it mildly. The removing of her influence has had a large impact on all the girls and even on us.

3. Clothes shopping. School started on day 14 of our shift, and as the girls were blessed with some money for shopping, and the consignment sale was in town, I had the fun responsibility of taking them shopping. This means shopping (on my own, thankfully) for a 6 month old, a two year old, a three year old (who I have decided to break with tradition and nickname Sweetie for this blog because that is, apparently, what Blueberry has settled on calling her), and a five year (nickname determined to be Gopher--have you seen the Youtube video?). All this followed by shopping with a ten year old in a wheelchair/crutches, two eleven year olds, and a 12 year old! I went one night and an additional morning to the consignment sale. Then I went out all day with two of the older girls. Followed the second day by two more girls. Followed by a third day with one more of the girls. And I'm still not fully done! I like clothes shopping in moderation, but enough is enough.

4. Blueberry's birthday--my little girl turned 3! And, oh my goodness, was she excited to have a birthday party. Of course, I had to shake my head in amusement as my little introvert burst into tears upon playing a party game; she did enjoy just watching though. We went with My Little Pony theme as she loves them and, frankly, it made for fun party planning. More details to come at Blueberry Bits.

Birthday Cake pancakes on the morning of her birthday. Party wasn't until the day after. I love this picture just because of how Baby Q is determined to get into it in the background!

I finally did my rainbow cake I've been wanting to do. Was so pleased with how it turned out!

Rainbow cake view 2.

Twilight Sparkle and Pinky Pie and Doggie making friends.

4. This was immediately followed by Chris' birthday--for which a gluten free Boston Cream Pie had to be made (and of course consumed) and a good game of Ticket of Ride.

5. Our chef, who is normally the hero of the summer, producing at least an evening meal for us, more frequently an evening and lunch meal (at least during the weekday), has had an awful few weeks of it himself--resulting in us doing all the cooking. For every meal. While trying to do all of the above. And this shall continue until we know not when.

6.  Add into this a bout of Baby Q producing two more teeth (makes four now!), then getting sick with a fever and wanting to be held 24 hours a day, including only sleeping on top of me for multiple nights in a row, and my dumb mistake of eating an entire bowl of gluten filled spaghetti sauce (thought it was chili--how I managed to confuse them can be chalked up to sleep deprivation, a sleepy baby eating through my shirt to get to milk NOW, low blood sugar, and eight children all talking/crying at once).

For the record, I definitely still do not do well with gluten. I made the mistake Saturday and now I am still feeling it. Barely made it through the last few days of our shift and, five days later, I'm still dealing with tender joints; although, the extreme exhaustion, headaches, and painful skin, stomach ache, etc have at last subsided.

7. And did I mention I threw a baby shower today for a friend? Yeah...planned all that in the midst of the above. Sigh. I fully admit that a few things did not come to fruition as planned simply on just not having enough time. Or energy. Or hours in the day. Or hands.

Capris. Because I love them dearly.

Mustache theme. These were a hit--at least according to my husband! Love Pesto.

Baby shower cake--in a baby food jar!


Thus back to the "get my brain out of a gluten fog" luxuriating in watching Kingdom part of this story. Which only took me 8 hours to write because, hey, this is my life.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daybook - July 9, 2013

Outside my window... its hot and muggy and buggy. Went out first thing in the morning and have avoided the outside like the plague the rest of the day. Not in the mood for heat. See my comment about I am hearing...

I am thinking...of which nursing shirt I want to get. I really need two--a simple white and a simple black one. But I have several options, and am being indecisive.

I am thankful for...help. Christopher has taken all our big girls on a campus-wide trip to go rafting. Which leaves me with four small children by myself. Now, I know this is doable, but at the same time, most of the people I know who are dealing with four small children have actually raised those children from infancy and really know the kids. Half of these kids are my two new ones who are very squirrelly, and a major handful at this point. So of the few houseparents left on campus, I get some help for the next few days. Praise the Lord. Or Chris may have come back to an insane wife.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Q is rolling over--which means he's rolling all over the house.

From the kitchen... I've been good and made several meals while I was off. Basil Chicken Curry (one of my favorite chicken recipes--calls for 10 different spices in the rub but is super easy to make!), and Chicken Satay--except I didn't grill the chicken, I baked it. And of course made sticky rice to go with it because what is Satay without sticky rice?

I am wearing...a skirt and a top that have been spat up all over. However, as Baby Q is now sleeping, and I do not want to wake him up, I will avoid going back into my bedroom for clean clothes until the last possible minute. Unfortunately I have passdown in just a few minutes, and that means I'm probably going to smell of milk. Sigh.

I am creating...a story. Kind of. More like recreating--someone else wrote a kids devotional, and now I'm rewriting it to turn it more into story and less dictate. It's a nice change of pace from editing thesis and other papers.

In my mailbox today.. .not a lot really. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get my amazon Subscribe and Save orders that I didn't get last month because of a credit card issue. I'm hurting without them! Diapers, gluten free pasta, coconut oil, and more!

I am hoping...to talk to my husband tonight. I miss him. And it's only been a day.

I am hearing... the soft wind of the air conditioning blowing. Why is this worthy of blogging about? Because our air conditioning unit froze up the last few days, and we've been having to turn it off to thaw it. And it has been crazy, ridiculously, hot. Some of the hottest days we've had this summer--and we've had no air. I love my air conditioning.

Around the house...things are neat and tidy and clean. Blessings on my darling husband who helped sweep and scrub. The "to get rid" of pile continues to grow as well. Today I went through Blueberry's room. She actually didn't have that many toys to get rid of. I had to confiscate a few toys that belonged to the cottage and mysteriously had made their way into her toys boxes. I also put away the majority of her books. Not because she doesn't read them--oh she does. But because she has so many, I feel like lots are getting lost. So I'm trying something. We go to the library about every week, and get her some new books. In addition, I've selected eight books, and we're going to read those interspersed with the library books for the next month. Then next month I'm going to pick out eight more. I've set them so she can see the covers. I'm picky about the books I add to our library (and yet we still wind up with tons and tons of books!), so just about every book we own is one that I really like and want her to enjoy to the fullest. So I figure this is a way to encourage that.

One of my favorite things...no bake bars. Yum. I found a new recipe on a blog with a fantastic name: www.ihearexercisewillkillyou.com Love it! The bars themselves are made with coconut oil as opposed to butter--and they have turned out yummilitious.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
survive! Just kidding. Kind of. Go to the library. Not really sure beyond that. Probably go to some doctor appointments for our two newbies. Nothing super exciting!

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...
He rolled from the blanket all the way over to the table in about 30 seconds. And then grinned at me like the cheeky monkey that he is.










Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.


 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July

For my American friends and family--may you celebrate the freedoms of this country and remember the whys of how we came to be.

Posing for the Fourth
 (More pics at Blueberry Bits and All in the Z).

Cottage Notes

Phew. I feel like I've run a marathon the last few days.

It all started June 21st. We were coming off our last day of being "off duty". I wasn't feeling fantastic, Blueberry suddenly started running a fever, Baby Q had popped out one tooth a few days earlier and was working on a second. When I suddenly got much, much worse, we decided to call in sick. And it was a good thing too as all three of us were pretty miserable for the next three days.

We finally went back on duty on the 25th, me still feeling pretty cruddy and Blueberry no longer contagious but obviously not fully right, and Baby Q still struggling with that goofy tooth.

That Tuesday (the 25th) was a normal "coming back on duty" sort of day. Lots of things to catch up on, behaviors to deal with, errands to run, etc. Wednesday dawned and all chaos ensued. It was one of those days when I started out with plan A and by 9:30am was on Plan Y.

The essence of the chaos was as such:
1. Receive phone call from Social Services director. What would our thoughts be on moving Tortoise up to an older girl's cottage. Our reply--fantastic. Much needed for her. Can we wait until next week when we're back on duty? "Sure," was the reply.
2. An hour later. Um....we need to move her tomorrow. We have two new little girls coming in to your cottage next week.

And from there it became a case of announcing to the girls that Tortoise was switching cottages (tears and protests and complaints and other assorted emotions), packing Tortoise up, all shuffled in with church and other scheduled items.

As Tortoise leans on the OCD side, I finally stepped in around 10pm (first time I had all day to help!) and helped her finish packing up her room or she would have been up all night.

Next morning we were up bright and early as Thursdays are always crazy, crazy days schedule wise, and we had the added busyness of actually moving her and handing her over to the new cottage to deal with as well. Oh, and the additional busyness of going off duty that night which always adds an extra layer of "things that must be done before we go off." Said farewell to Tortoise, passed our cottage down to our Reliefs, stayed up for some together time (watched Master Chef - lol).

Friday--my off day. Sweet off day. Slept in (thank you husband of mine) and worked hard the rest of the day paying bills, doing the budget, cleaning, and shopping.

And it was a good thing I worked hard too.

Saturday was going to be my "pajama day." I always take one day on our three days off (I say "always" here rather tongue in cheek--really should be more like, "I always hope to and occasionally succeed in taking" a pajama day). Basically, a lazier sort of day, not where things don't get accomplished, but a day when I permit myself to bury myself in the house, in my pajamas, and spend some extra time cuddling with kids, pampering, etc.

Didn't work out so well. Started with a phone call, "Someone has to go to the hospital for an emergency, can you watch your kids so your Relief's can go over to their house and watch their kids?" Um, sure....

Followed by another phone call from my bestie on campus who is 25 weeks pregnant---"I'm having contractions, can you watch my two boys?!"

Um, yes!

Well, that was the beginning of the end. Watched the kids till mid-afternoon, when they returned (she was okay, thank you Lord, but needing to rest), we stayed on duty for the rest of the day and Sunday and then were still there for our regular shift.

Sigh. Sweet days off, how I miss thee. I haven't had a normal set of three days off in a good month now. I count on those days for my sanity!

Monday was crazy as well as we finished setting up the new girl's room and then waited for them to show up. And waited. And waited.

They didn't come until about 4pm, which is just as Chris was walking out the door with our oldest girls to be gone all evening (late night) to a baseball game!

Which left me with four little kids--two of whom were unknown entities. Fortunately, my same bestie came over to help watch (limited mobility, but hey, a mommy voice always helps).

Brief summary of my two new ones (no nicknames as of yet):

A 5 year old who is very inquisitive, needs a lot of help focusing, but I think will do okay.

A 3 (almost 4) year old who is very defiant, and I believe precocious would be an appropriate word for her. She's going to be a handful!

Busy shift. Busy life. Love my kids. Need three days off.

Friday, June 28, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 29)



#1 - The internet is a curse and a blessing. Its a blessing in how connected it can make people who live thousands of miles away. Its a blessing in how much information is provided at your fingertips. Its a curse when it doesn't work well and you've learned to rely on it. And your work requires you to use it.

This curse has followed me around for the last few weeks and has been driving me crazy! However, as our connectivity seems to be up and running again, perhaps I can get back to doing those lovely things in life like checking emails and staying in touch with people. And blogging. And pinteresting. And yes, spending time on Facebook!

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#2 - Well, we're in full summer mode around here. Lots of trips to the local water park, lots of games, movies, fun trips to places, groups coming on campus and doing crazy activities with the girls, I love the summer.

Admittedly, I do miss my downtime during the days sometimes as having all the kids all day long can get really tiring. But not having to stress about school and grades and homework but being able to just focus on fun and bonding with the girls is an enjoyable experience.

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#3 - Talking about not having downtime. The first three days of this past shift, I was sick, Baby Q was teething (at four and a half months he's already popped out two teeth!), and Blueberry was sick. We did the sensible thing and actually took some sick time (I say sensible because frequently we don't wind up taking sick time when we're sick. It's complicated.).

Any ways, we came back to work on Tuesday and had a busy day. Then Wednesday our day went haywire as we (a) were told that our oldest girl was moving to another cottage on Thursday and (b) we are getting two new girls next week--a 3 year old and a 5 year old, sisters.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent in a scrambled mess of activity, including my house being invaded by an additional 8 teenage girls who were part of a group on campus needing something to do. I put them to work, got several projects that were desperately needing finishing up, and have everything mostly ready to greet our two new girls.

Sad goodbyes to losing our Tortoise; although, admittedly, she was definitely needing to be in a house with peers of her age. Now to take on my next challenge!

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#4 - We had a birthday a few weeks ago. And I have to admit, the cake was pretty spectacular, if I may say so myself without sounding too puffed up! What do you think? Pink and Black and White Zebra stripes!



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#5 - My minimalizing mission is going slowly. I just don't have a lot of free time while we're working (see #2); but it is coming together slowly. My closet is greatly reduced. And I've tackled most of the kitchen (still have a few areas that need cleaning out). I'm liking my much emptier kitchen counters. I'll never be a true minimalist, but hey, you've got to start somewhere, right?

Actually, in truth, true minimalist kind of creep me out. I guess it's commendable to have so few objects that you're attached to, but it always feels a little sad to me.

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#6 - This past month we had the pleasure of my baby sister and her husband for a few days. We've got a visit being planned for the end of July for one of my favoritest people in the whole world to come and see me (plus husband and her four kids!), and we're trying to figure out how to take a trip to Missouri probably in August. Anyone else want to come on down? Love to see you!

Baby Q with his Aunt and Uncle

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#7 - We've been battling bedtime for the last month or so. Blueberry used to go to bed so well, and then all of the sudden she just quit. Doesn't want to go to bed without fussing and making excuses to be out of bed a thousand times. I know, I know. Normal probably but still tiring.

We're finally back to doing a reward system with her. See if it works. It needs to because with four kids under the age of 5 in the house, I'm not going to have the time to be dealing with a squirrelly bed time girl. Please, dear Lord, let our two new ones be good sleepers!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Books, Books, and More Books

So here's some of my recent book saturation.

1. How to Embrace a Minimalist Wardrobe--Making the Most Out of Your Closet! by Kristen D. Smith. Pretty good read. Some interesting links. I like that she's very practical. I've looked at some minimalist clothing concept books before, and they tend to lean to the theoretical--which is irritating.

2. A Manual for Writers of Research Paper, Theses, and Dissertations, Eight Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers by Kate L. Turabian  Why am I listing this? Well, I have spent an awful lot of time in lately, but really it's because (for anybody who actually is a nerd enough to care about this), they finally have good details on how to cite electronic books (ie Kindle types). Made me happy!

3. Secrets of Professional Organizers Volume 3: Leading Experts Talk About Decluttering, Organizing & Simplifying Life  by Donna Smallin Kuper   This isn't a minimalism book, but I've found it an interesting read. Its basically a bunch of interviews with professional organizers.

4. The Five Love Languages of Children  by Ross Campbell   If you've ever read the five love languages book, this is just as good--just kid-centric.

5. Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education  by Clark Aldrich   Really good read. I'm still not sure exactly where I stand on the unschooling/homeschool concept, but this book was really fascinating and has given me a lot to think about.

6. Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life  by Lorilee Lippencott  I like her writing style a lot. Some good links in here. I'm trying to work my way through this one.

7. The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage by Gary Chapman  I do enjoy Chapman's perspective on marriage. This book is as good as all his others.

8. So, You Think You Wanna Homeschool?  by Tiffany Manlee  One thing I really appreciate about this book is the sheer practicality. She lists (and links) state laws regarding homeschooling, plus tons of ideas and resources. Love it!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Outside my window...a storm is raging. The last day of school has ended with a thunder-roll. Chris called me while I was waiting for him to get home with all the girls and told me to pack up as he was picking me and Blue and Baby Q up as we had to go to the storm shelter. Of course we sat there for 30 minutes and nothing happened, but hey, at least we were safe. Now I'm back home again and outside the rain is pouring, the thunder is rolling, and the lightning is crashing down and making several of my rather storm-phobic charges jump.

I am thinking...of some work issues. Some people need prayer. We've got changes occurring again as one of the sets of house parents have resigned and new people are going into that cottage. Lots of chaos for kids.

I am thankful for...a productive few days. As of tonight, we're into summer season. Which is a lot of fun around here, as it provides a lot of bonding time with the girls, but it's also a lot of extra work as they're here all the time. I feel like we learned a lot last summer of how to make it simultaneously fun but not so much work that we're collapsing by the end of the day; now to see if that's true or not as this summer plays out.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...from Baby Q--rolling over, giggles (not lots of them but becoming distinctive), and lots of babbling. "A-goo" is one of our favorites. From Blueberry, I can't keep up. Her language progression is fabulous. She's constantly taking on new challenges and wanting to try to new things. Her understanding of concepts is almost disturbing sometimes, and I'm catching myself wanting to talk less about work issues in front of her because I honestly don't know what all she'll understand any more!

From the kitchen...comes banana muffins. Which of course had 5 minutes more to cook when we had to leave for the storm. So I turned the oven off and prayed that just leaving them in there would not (a) burn them or (b) dry them out. But if I pulled them out, they were going to be ruined, so I went with my second option. I just ate one; not bad. A little darker than I normally let them get, but still tasty. Its the world's moistest banana muffin recipe any ways, so that helps a lot. I've also taken to replacing one of the bananas called for in the recipe with about 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Yum and extra protein!

A few days ago one of the girls was picking blackberries that grow around our cottage. She asked if she could make juice, and we finally comprised on blackberry popsicles. Turned out really good. We had enough mix left to make a second batch and then I poured the leftovers into some oatmeal this morning for our Junior Higher who was done with school as of this morning instead of having to go today like the rest of our girls. She said it was really good. Blueberry tried some and was a little iffy about it.

I am wearing...jeans and a purple-ish nursing shirt. Comfy and stylish. How lovely.

I am creating...lots of new scrapbook pages! So happy to be doing this again. Will start posting soon.

I am going...to see my lovely baby sister this weekend and, hopefully, her husband. Not for very long; more like a 24 hour drive by. But hey, I'll take her every minute I can get her.

In my mailbox today.. .was several packages from amazon including some new pack'n'play sheets. Yay! I'm very disappointed in my son. Here I got this fantastic hammock for him. And he refuses to sleep on his back. He will sleep like an angel on stomach; flip him to his back, and he's awake in 10 minutes. Problem--I can't put him in the hammock on his stomach. So I've wound up pulling out our pack'n'play and he's sleeping in the infant part of that. Needed more sheets though. The pack'n'play itself is pink and black (it was cheap when I bought it and we were having a girl--poor boy has to suffer now). I draw the line at the pink sheets though, so I ordered some new pairs!

I am reading.. . a variety of books including several books on minimalistic living/wardrobes, etc. Slowly getting rid of more and more stuff. I've decided I'm tired of stuff, and I want to downsize a lot. It'll be a slow process, but I'm okay with that. As long as I'm doing it.

Also been reading a lot of essays lately. I've had an onslaught of graduate students asking me to edit the last few weeks. Making a pretty chunk of change if eating up every spare moment I have. However, as I should make enough to cover the cost of my gorgeous new laptop that I'm typing on, without having to dip into anything else, I'm okay with it.

I am hoping...to successfully and fully wean myself back off dairy again. I've been having quite a bit lately, and while it doesn't make me feel as sick as gluten does, I can definitely tell when I've been consuming dairy and when I haven't. So my plan for the summer is to go completely DF again and then slowly allow myself the occasional bit here and there in the future but not to go back on it fully again.

I am hearing...some blissful silence (silence being a relative term here, meant to indicate that other than the soft tinkling of the water in the fish tank and the rumble of thunder and the blowing of the air conditioning--no other noises exist. Until my weather alert just went off on my cell phone. Obnoxious! Any ways, due to the sudden weather emergency, Baby Q missed his nap and was tired and cranky, so my ever wonderful husband took the girls to dinner while I put Baby Q down for a nap, and I get a few moments of blissful peace and quiet.

Around the house...I feel like I've accomplished a lot this past shift. Lots of summer prep things--including a list of "I'm bored" items for the girls to do when we're not out doing something specific (we try to hit a happy medium of planned activities and outings and free time; hard to manage sometimes, but we do our best).

One of my favorite things...is the look of sheer delight that comes across my son's face when he sees me after a nap or first thing in the morning. Nothing more gratifying than that!

A few plans for the rest of the week: we're having a school-end celebration tonight complete with awards like "most adventurous room" and "most dedicated memorizer". Combine with marshmallows to make s'mores, and we're good to go. Friday not a lot planned as we go off duty that night. Only for two days, which is tough because this is the second 7 day shift after only 2 days off that I'll have had in the last few weeks. Just makes for a tiring time. Next week, however, should be rather easy as of our five "cottage" girls, two will be at youth camp, one is going to a journalism/science camp at school, one is doing a basketball camp for half the day, and so we'll really only have one at home during the day all week! Of course she's one of our most challenging children, but hey, I'll take a small break when I can get it!

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...
Baby Q's favorite pose currently: hands stuffed in the mouth!

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saturday, May 7, 2013

Outside my window...is glorious sunshine. All over town yellow, pink, purple, and red flowers are blooming. Trees in seemingly every shade of green are gracing the sides of the road, distracting one from the purpose of driving! Its beautiful spring!

I am thinking...about how much I want to go disc golfing now--even though I know I'm going to be awful because its been so long since I played. We went out exploring yesterday, and discovered a new park area that has a fun tree house, assorted trails, a rock climbing rock, and a fabulous disc golf course that will push both my walking and my throwing skills to the limit! Very excited.

I am thankful for...friendship. Due to the nature of our job, I find myself often feeling like I live in a very small bubble. Being able to call on friends far away as well as developing new friendships here is life saving sometimes.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Q has discovered his hands and is finding that he can move things (like Daddy's thumb) into his mouth with his own hands. Little Miss Blueberry just continues to grow in words and ideas and play at a rapid and sometimes overwhelming pace. A few days ago it was a big discussion about going to Little Rock--or as she was calling it, Big Rock. Every rock along the way was "Look! It's big rock!" Full sentences, complete with subjects and verbs and the occasional preposition are flowing out of her mouth. And, oh my, there is much to discuss and share and talk about. All day long. From the minute she gets up until the minute she goes to bed. 

From the kitchen...comes GF chocolate chip cookies--which I haven't made in FOREVER. So tasty.

I am wearing...a brown skirt and a green, short-sleeve nursing top.

I am creating...castles in the air. We did some number crunching a few days ago, calculating our debt and how quickly we're getting it all paid off. We're on track to get the next part paid in full by August and after that we're getting down to the end (relatively speaking). Very exciting. I cannot wait to owe no penny to no man or company or government.

I am going...to go try out a cupcake place this afternoon that supposedly makes some gluten free cupcakes! Fingers crossed that (a) this rumor is true and (b) the cupcakes taste good. Not that I need gluten free cupcakes, but it would make me happy nonetheless.

In my mailbox recently.. .came several new nursing tops (I was getting desperate for some new ones). My favorite is this one:
 

I am reading.. .The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy again. Its been many years since I've read these books, primarily because the LOR movies irritated me so much with their destruction of several of my favorite parts and characters. However, we recently watched part I of the Hobbit that came out. I was pretty pleased with it, and inspired to read that book again. Of course, I can't just stop with The Hobbit, so here I am deep in the lore of the elves and hobbits and the green valleys of Rivendell. 

I am hoping...to return some phone calls today! We'll see how that turns out :)

I am hearing...Baby Q beginning to squeak as he wakes up from his nap. Blueberry is running back and forth between the couch and fridge with cries of, "Look at me! Look at me!" I run fast!" Which makes the process of typing this take forever as I'm stopping and starting regularly.

Around the house...is a large pile of laundry that I've been struggling to get put away. Well, admittedly, not really struggling. More like avoiding. I really do need to get it taken care of though, preferably today as I despise going back to work with my house messy.

One of my favorite things...is being asked for cuddles from my 2 and a half year old. She randomly came up to me today holding doggy, blanket, and asks in a very quiet, almost sad voice, "I need cuddle." So we cuddled and read some stories and life was sweet.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Well, we are back "on duty" starting tonight. Got a bunch of meetings and appointments to run the next few days. This weekend I hope to go out to a park or something with our girls. Apparently we're going to be down to just three, so that will be fun for some quality time with them.

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Problems of Being a "Foster" Mom

I'm sort of a foster mom, and sort of not. Either way, a lot of the training we receive around here is the same as foster parents receive. We are currently studying something called The Connected Child. The primary author is a woman called Karyn Purvis. This isn't the first training I've received based on her work, and frankly, she is fantastic. If you are or know someone with an adopted or foster child, this is a great practical, scientific, Christian resource: The Institute of Child Development.

Any ways, I digress from my point. The problem with being in a position like this is that your parenting is constantly on show. To a large degree, the success of the children in our care is based on our success. Take your normal mom fears about whether or not you're doing a good job raising your children, etc, and blow it up. Add in there the fact that not only is your spouse and probably friends and family are watching how you parent, but your boss and co-workers are as well!

Reading through this current resource, I've been both encouraged as a parent and discouraged.

Discouraged because I see some of the things I should be doing and don't always take the time to do or naturally turn towards doing. However, a lot of these things are just ideas that I can practice putting into place. Habits to form, per say.

The encouragement side is the research on the stages of development and how appropriate early connections make such a difference. I find it fascinating how science has proven that not only can obvious things like early neglect, hunger, drugs, alcohol, or abuse affect the development of children, but the very stress levels of a pregnant mother can have a huge impact on the future neurological development of an unborn child. The cortisol levels of a newborn can be measured as much higher than normal when the mother's stress levels have been high prior to birth.

Makes you wonder if this might be the unstated connection to colic in babies, since doctors can't seem to find a reason for it in many cases? Just a random thought of mine.

How is this all encouraging? Because as I type this (well, at this point--not when I started), I sit with a healthy, generally happy little 2-month old boy in my lap. He just spoke to me for a good ten minutes about the state of life--demanding and receiving my full attention to his punch lines and observations. I have a two year old little girl, happily munching on chips and avocado, who is secure in knowing that if she needs a cuddle, all she needs to do is ask and she shall receive. She also knows boundaries and manners and other important, interpersonal skills.

My home may not be in perfect shape (definitely needs a good sweep--dog hairs), but the two children who I have been blessed to grow within me and raise from the very beginning, are doing okay. So therefore, I can't be doing that bad as a parent. I hope.

Now to translate that into my other current five daughters who definitely all have some of those poor beginnings that now make life so difficult for them.