13.11.14

School, Horses, and a Story - Part 1

I have, sadly, let blogging fall by the wayside (again). I am so busy during the day and I just don't want to make my brain keep working, after the kids are in bed. Meh.

Well, there are things that require more words than a Facebook update can accommodate. I finally built up enough of a backlog of those things to warrant a blog post. Now, Renee is on her way over, for our biweekly Walking Dead viewing.

If she shows up before I'm done, this might turn into a two-parter. But for now...

School

The first few months of this school year have been the hardest we've experienced. Ever. Granted, this is only our fifth year of formal schooling, but I foolishly thought that we had things pretty well under control.

Wrong!

The amount of defiance, complaining, disrespect, and drama has been out of control. If I were a less stubborn person, I likely would have given up by now. There's a lovely, 5-day-per-week school, right here inside our neighborhood!

But, I am stubborn and I also happen to feel very strongly that Veritas is where God wants our family. Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, or follows me on Facebook is well acquainted with the various struggles we've had.

That being the case, I'm going to skip to the good part. We're finally turning a corner! And I can say that, even though this afternoon was a total suck-fest. Here's what's working:

A strict schedule.

I'm more of a routine person than a schedule person. As in, give me a to-do list and let me start at the top and work my way down. Don't bother me with times or deadlines. I don't like being told what to do, after all (even when i'm the one doing the telling).

So, I'm pretty well shocked that this is working so well for all of us! I think the most important difference it has made is that it gives us permission to stop an assignment and walk away from it, even if it's not completed.

Once we start something, I want to keep going until it's done. I have a hard time setting things aside to be completed later, even when emotions are running high and no good is coming from the situation. It's part of my charming, obsessive-compulsive personality type.

The firm end times in our schedule mean that we are done, even if the assignment is not complete. (Does that make any sense?) I have a Study Hall scheduled for the end of each day, and we use that time to finish up work from earlier in the day.

It's been incredibly helpful.

Here's our schedule, if you're interested:

8:25 a.m. – Prepared for School

8:30 a.m. – Bible Time (20 mins)

8:50 a.m. – Kinder Bible (20 mins)  **This is different.

9:10 a.m. – History (35 mins)

9:45 a.m. – Music Appreciation (5 mins)
9:50 a.m. – Break Time (15 mins)

10:05 a.m. – Reading (35 mins)

10:40 a.m. – Spelling (40 mins)

11:20 a.m. – Grammar (20 mins)

11:40 a.m. – Lunch (30 mins)
12:10 p.m. – Rest Time (60 mins)

1:10 p.m. – Writer’s Workshop / Writing with Ease (15 mins)

1:25 p.m. – Handwriting (10 mins)

1:35 p.m. – Memory (15 mins)

1:50 p.m. – Latin (10 mins)

2:00 p.m. – Break Time (15 mins)

2:15 p.m. – Math / ELF (60 mins)

3:15 p.m. – Science (30 mins)

3:45 p.m. – Core Knowledge (10 mins)

3:55 p.m. – Study Hall (20 mins)
4:15 p.m. – School Day Ends

Rest time is about to be moved to the end of the day, however. Apparently, taking an hour-long break in the middle of the day has turned into a bad thing for my children. We'll have a fantastic morning and then after rest time, I've got a couple of jerks on my hands!

This evening, Lila even said it herself - after getting to spend all that time in her room, doing whatever she wants, she finds it very hard to switch back into School Mode.

Fair enough. I'll do whatever results in more respect and less drama!

There have been other changes, as well, but they are more subtle and less exciting.

Also, Renee just showed up. So, I guess this is Part 1. More later...

20.9.14

President

Lila for President!
During our pre-dinner prayer tonight, Lila thanked God for kittens and the President. That prompted me to suggest that we elect a kitten as President. Then she said that she should be made President. I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and began to interview her on policy issues.

If Lila were elected President of the United States:

1. She would move Bailey [her best friend] into the White House.

2. Only kids would be allowed to hold government office.

3. Bailey would also become her Vice President.

4. She would declare cake and ice cream to be acceptable breakfast options.

5. Parents would be required to give their children daily game time on electronic devices.

6. Parents would also be required to give their children smart phones at age 5.

7. Illegal immigrants would be dressed up as little girls.

8. When our Allies ask for help in fighting their wars, we'll tell them to ask someone else. [She also mentioned something about sending them fairy wands...]

9. Her solution to National Defense = Lipstick Tasers

10. Visits to the White House would be a mandatory 3-day stay for friends, one month for family.

11. Her response to unemployment:

     a. Jobless to receive $1 from every person they meet.

     b. Jobless would be required to seek work.

     c. Managers who deny jobs to the unemployed would be sent to jail.

12. Education would be restructured as follows: Children would be required to attend school for 3 years and to learn as much as they can during that time. They would not be required to find a job until age 10.

So... I guess she's running on a platform of nepotism and shaming?

- - - - -

Also, I accidentally punched my son in the face today.

Doug, Eli, and I were playing Crazy Games on my bed. That is a thing we've been doing since the kids were little bitty things. It's basically a free-for-all wrestling match. It has, naturally, gotten more rough as the kids get older and stronger.

As we were playing tonight, I went to give Eli a light punch in the chest. At the same time, Doug grabbed him from behind and tried to make him face-plant onto the bed. The result was that my fist made contact with his face, just beside his right eye, complete with Smacky Punching Sound.

Um. Oops.

Thankfully, there is just a little red spot there. I was not looking forward to the conversations that would have to take place if he ended up with a black eye.

Sunday School Teacher: "Hi, Eli! Oh! What happened to your eye?"
Eli: "My mom punched me."
Sunday School Teacher: [stink eye]

16.9.14

Photos from Lila's Birthday Party

Better late than never...

That's an awful lot of giggling princesses...

Train Princesses, out for some fresh air in Bertram.

That's some pretty savage gift-opening!

I love that smile!

The girls were playing Princess Memory in the floor and one of the Train
Princesses stopped to hang out. (That's Eli and Miss Kitty Whiskers at the
car window.)

And I believe this would be my daughter denying a high-five to the
Train Princess.

Lila really wanted the girls to bring American Girl dolls. For some bizarre
reason, all the dolls ended up with their hands tied up.

Princesses Emma and Lila

Princesses Lila and Charis

Princesses Bailey and Lila

4.9.14

Creative Writing

Here are two bits of creativity from Lila's Writer's Journal (all mistakes included - 'cause they make it more awesome)!

8 - 28 - 14

Books interes me because some are filled with adventure
and some have misterys. they interest me beacause some
are calm and peaceful and oters are exiting. I love reading
books exiting or calm with mysterys or not it is fun to read!

9 - 4 - 14

my tree house home

Once I had a 5 story apple tree. With it I built a 5 story apple tree
house home. My best frind and I lived in it togeter. We ate apple pie,
apple sause, homemade apple ice cream, and plain apples. One
day I said "I'm tired of apples let's go down to pick grapes, blue
berris, cheriies and razz berris."

1.9.14

Chinglish

Oh. My. Goodness.

The following is an actual email that Doug actually received, from an actual work-related acquaintance in China.

From: XXXXX
Subject: Linda-A blessing from a Chinese girl-Cheersonic
 
Dear friend
 
Live a happy heart is happiness, let others happy, the heart is also happiness,
happy is rich, only you intentions to experience, will feel happy!
Let my blessing like high low wind-bell, give you bring ding ding dany dany happiness!
If you are in a dream also laughed, it must be I bring to you!
If you can, please don't tell my blessing bored,
If possible, please always remind of concern you of me,
If you would like to, please let me share you feiends!
 
Best Regards
XXXXX

27.8.14

Pain

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." -- Man in Black, The Princess Bride

I'm not sure how you'll feel about this evening's post. It might not sit well with you. It's an uncomfortable subject. It is not lightly said, however, and I hope that you'll prayerfully consider my point of view.

Pain is the background of life. It is ever-present and unavoidable. It touches every one of us. Look around and you. Murder. Betrayal. Rejection. Insecurity. Look at yourself. Abuse. Dishonesty. Loneliness. Hopelessness.

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now." (Romans 8:22)

Nothing mind-blowing so far, right? Here's where I might step on your toes. . . . It's supposed to hurt. We were never meant to live in a world like this. When we are surrounded by such brokenness, we should feel our hearts break!

God intended that we should live in the kind of world where we look around and see Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Where we look at ourselves and see Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. That is what we were created for.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12) 

Sin has messed it all up. It started with one bad choice and snowballed. Sin entered the world and God is allowing Satan to roam free for a time. There will come a day when everyone who will choose life has done so.

When that time comes sin, and it's accompanying pain, will be utterly destroyed. No trace left. But for now... every day, pain trickles (or floods) into our lives like seawater into a leaky boat. A weight of sadness pulls at our soul.

"As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42) 

And here's where I might step on your toes again. If you don't allow yourself to feel the pain, you will never be able to fully experience happiness. Even Jesus stopped to consider those He loved and to weep for them.

Some of us are expert at pretending that we don't feel the sadness. Many of us try to hide it because we think it's somehow wrong to admit that we feel sad, especially if we can't say exactly why we feel that way.

"And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

The idea that life with God means you no longer feel pain is a LIE. God himself grieves for his hurting children. If we are to reflect the heart of God, then shouldn't we grieve as well? However, God would never ask us to grieve without also offering us comfort.

I spent most of my life either wallowing hopelessly in pain, allowing it to consume me, or trying outrun and hide from it. It's only in the past few years that I've learned something infinitely valuable. I have to let myself feel sad. And that's okay.

"And I don't look at you when the light is shining
And I don't feel warm until the water's lapping
Against my feet, around my knees, around my waist"
-- Throw Me, by Chasing Furies

Think of the leaky boat. If you ignore it, or put a pretty pillow over the leak, you'll be okay for a time. But eventually, the water will be around your ankles. Then your knees. Then the whole boat is going down. Avoidance does not work.

If you acknowledge the leak, if you confront it and bail out the water, it could save your life. It's not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. In our lives, the leak cannot be repaired. Only God can do that, and He decides when.

"God is always late, and always on time." -- Brad Thomas

But if we sit with God and face the pain, He will comfort us. He will bail the water out of our boats and enable us to sail another day. And with the pressure of that sadness lightened, we can more fully experience the peace and joy which God also so abundantly offers.

I'll stop talking now and ask, what do you think?

- - - - -

My first version of this post ended rather abruptly, didn't it?

That would be because my husband came up behind me and started playing with my hair. For anyone who doesn't know, touching my hair turns my brain off.

I haven't gotten much feedback on my thoughts (i really would love to hear from people), but what I have received makes me think I'd better clarify something.

I experience joy every day. And I experience happiness nearly every day. The pain that I allow myself to feel is in no way prohibitive of experiencing joy. Rather, joy comes more easily because God has lifted some of the weight from my soul.

That was part of my original intent behind sharing these thoughts and I apologize if I didn't make myself clear. :)

25.8.14

Tornado

Alas, the end of school means less time to play with doodles.
For a week now, life in our family has been a tornado. I don't believe that the transition from summer to fall (such as it is) has ever felt this violent before! I think that we so successfully kept ourselves diverted this summer, we never had a chance to look forward to the start of school.

Both kids finished up their swimming lessons last Monday. They have each been in lessons since they were babies, but it's interesting to see how different they are. Lila can swim well and she knows it. Eli has a good base of swimming skills, but lacks confidence in the water.

At any rate, they've both decided to move on to different interests for the fall. Lila started horseback riding lessons on Thursday. She has been so looking forward to it! I will not lie; I am downright jealous that she gets to ride every week, and I don't.

Eli will begin gymnastics classes on September 5th. I hope that goes well. He has taken gymnastics lessons in the past and he refused to participate, half the time. He has assured me that will not happen again. I have assured him that we will not continue to pay for classes, if it does.

Somehow, in the midst of all our activities, I managed to get the kids ready to go back to school. I acquired all the necessary books, uniform pieces, school supplies, and lunch goodies. We even squeezed in a haircut (so Eli didn't have to go to school with hair he'd recently cut himself).

The first classroom day was Wednesday. There was much excitement, all around, and I got a couple of good photos. They are still on the camera, however, so you'll have to wait to see them. I celebrated my first day of "freedom" by being alternately slothful and productive.

The first homeschool day was Thursday. Unfortunately, I was the only genuinely excited to participant in that activity. The kids started their day off with grumbling and defiance. It was discouraging to have my enthusiasm greeted by such resistance.

Thursday, as mentioned in my prior update, was also Lila's 9th birthday. She experienced a fairly spread-out celebration this year. Birthday dinner on Tuesday, birthday breakfast on Thursday, a grandparent birthday visit on Saturday, and her birthday train ride on Sunday.

Friday, as also mentioned in my prior update, we went to Schlitterbahn. I actually started my day by praying that God would enable me to enjoy myself, even though it was not something I wanted to do. Despite my ardent desire not to go, I had as much fun as the rest of the family. Thank you, God!

Saturday was probably the slowest day we've had for some time. There was still some errand-running in the afternoon, however. By the time we all got back home, I had not the least desire to cook dinner. We declared it Family Movie Night and ate various frozen foods of dubious nutritional value.

I will post pictures from Lila's birthday train ride, the Princess Flyer, at a later date. Those, too, are still on the camera. The short version is that we had a lot of fun, even if our train car did become unbearably hot near the end of the ride.

And that brings us all the way up to today, which was as busy as all the rest. I got a sunburn on my back at Schlitterbahn, which is starting to fade. Today, I got a sunburn on my shoulders during recess duty at school. It's been years since I got a real sunburn and now I've had two within a week!

Speaking of which, I forgot how badly sunburns ITCH when they are healing! Gah!

21.8.14

Grinning!

My family is going to Schlitterbahn tomorrow. Yay! I (the opposite of) can't wait!

I mean, sure, we just spent an entire week at the beach. But going to a waterpark is in no way redundant. And, yes, this week is packed to overflowing with lessons and school and birthday activities. But what can it hurt to pile on a little more exhaustion, right?

*grins*

*twitches*

*grin begins to slide off face*

Gypsy and the Birthday Girl
Aaaaanyway... My daughter turned 9 today. She is officially halfway through childhood (as defined by our culture). I'm pretty sure that I'm not okay with that. It's hard to believe that the chubby baby in those old photos is now this tall and gangly thing.

The way her birthday fell this year is a little unfortunate. Yesterday was the first day of school for Veritas, today was our first homeschool day and Lila's first horseback riding lesson, and tomorrow we're going to Shitter Schlitterbahn.

That doesn't leave a lot of room for the extra pomp and circumstance that I like to give my family members on their birthdays! And, I realized this evening, I didn't even remember to take Eli out to buy a gift for her. Oops!

BUT, Lila did get to start the day cinnamon rolls, both kids got all of their homework done, and Lila loved her first riding lesson. Now they are merrily disobeying our requests that they shower and get ready for bed.

In fact, I think Doug's about to put them under the running water with all their clothes on...

26.7.14

Nature

Nature, as photographed by a 6-year-old
 

"The trees look like they're wrestling."

Selfie

"Oh look! A Rotten cactus!"

 
 
"Oh! Stay right dere!"

21.7.14

Blessing

I've been chewing on something since yesterday's church service. The sermon was on The Art of Reconciliation, which, while meaningful and convicting, is not actually what got my gears turning. During an opening prayer, Pastor Brad said something about blessings.

That one word - blessings - is always of interest to me. The dictionary defines blessing as "a special favor, mercy, or benefit; a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness." I guess that's the way that most people define it.

I have a different definition. I think that a blessing is anything that brings you closer to God. Conversely, anything that does not bring you closer to God, is not a blessing. This definition has radically altered the way I view many parts of my life.

Depression SUCKS. It is a big, nasty, fire-breathing dragon. And not the kind that you can train or become friends with. It's the kind that will gobble you up and then burn your village, just for fun. It has brought me to places lower than I ever thought possible.

And it has been an immeasurable blessing in my life.

Yes, you read that correctly. Depression as been a blessing. It was (and is) awful, and I hope never to struggle with it as greatly as I have in the past. But when I was laying on the floor, with nothing left to cling to or live for... that's when I found out that God was still there.

He had been there all along. He will always be there. He is all I need. He is merciful and beautiful. He is perfect. I am a weak, broken person, unable to cope with the pain and confusion of life. But God doesn't expect me to cope.

He expects me to turn to Him, and receive more strength and peace than I could imagine. God took me at my weakest, drew me close, and filled me with faith. Without depression, I might not have learned this lesson so deeply or so soon. So yes, depression has been a blessing.

And I freaking LOVE that I can say those words. I have spent years in battle with God on this issue. I have prayed again and again that He would just remove the depression. I saw no reason for it and I felt hurt and betrayed by its continued presence in my life.

So no, I have not always felt that my struggles were a blessing. Oftentimes - perhaps, most of the time - we cannot see the reason for a tragedy or season of pain until we come out on the other side. Sometimes we never understand.

I know that every person and every struggle is different. Perhaps your painful battle is not, in itself, the blessing, but rather the lens which made it possible for you to see the blessings already surrounding you.

Or, perhaps, the struggle was the refining fire. God's way of preparing your heart for the blessings to follow. I do not pretend to know all God's ways or to understand his Mind. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! (Romans 11:33)

But here's where I'm going with all this: How many times, particularly as believers in Christ, have we prayed to God, asking for his blessings in our life... and then turned on Him in anger and disbelief when hardship came?

I get it. We have a clear idea of what we think a blessing should look like. What it should feel like. Pain does not make sense to our mind or soul. It's not what we were created to experience! But we live in a fallen world, where things rarely work in the way they were originally intended.

Here's my challenge to us all: The next time a struggle comes up in life - large or small - let's turn to God, beg him for mercy and faith, and trust that He is using our pain to mold us into his Image.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

15.7.14

Graves

"All are going to the same place; all come from dust, and all return to dust." (Ecclesiastes 3:20)

With the kids at VBS this week, I'm having a little fun in the mornings. Today, I decided to take my camera and go to Oakwood Cemetery. I've always been fascinated by cemeteries, especially old ones. The simplest reason is because they are peaceful and I find beauty in the old headstones.

There's more to it than that, however. As I walk along, reading the names and dates, it's excites my imagination. There are entire lives connected to those names. I like to imagine what those lives contained. Some of the lives were short and others long.


Some entire families are buried together. Other times there will be one grave that seems to share no connection with the ones surrounding it. Sometimes the relationships between people are obvious. Other times, I can only guess.

Today, as I walked along, I read each name out loud, imagining that it might be the first time that person's name had been spoken aloud in decades. Even though I was at the cemetery for an hour, I didn't make it through many graves.

I felt compelled to decipher every word on each stone that I came to. Some were very easy to read, but many of the older stones were worn down and covered in moss. I spent quite a while working on one grave in particular.

It was the grave of a young girl and there was an unusually long epitaph at the bottom of the stone. It was extremely hard to read, but I felt an almost compulsive need to figure out what it said. Someone had loved this child and felt these words important enough to put at her resting place!

I even tore out the first page from the book I had in my purse, because I had no other paper, and did a few pencil rubbings. It took several minutes (and several ant bites and burrs in my shoes), but I finally figured it out.

On not only this grave, but all the ones I looked at today, I was particularly interested in the words chosen to remember the lives represented. I'm sure I'm not the only one who pauses, now and then, to consider what epitaph my family will choose after I am gone.


I think I could have stayed there all day, reading names and taking photos, but the heat and humidity finally got to me. I had gotten very wrapped up in this idea of speaking aloud the names of the "forgotten" and it upset me to think of leaving so many stones unread.

As I turned to leave, I spotted a chunk of granite on the path. It had plainly broken away from one of the nearby headstones. It was just an edge piece, containing no designs or words, so I picked it up and carried it with me.

It seems a fitting reminder that one day, this life will be over. I will be put in the ground, with a stone above my head. My life summarized in a name, two dates, and a few well-chosen words. Within a couple of generations, no one will visit my grave or tell stories of my life.

Within a few more generations, my name will be forgotten. In 100 years, my stone will also begin to crumble. The prospect of death has never bothered me as much as the idea of being forgotten. As though I never existed at all.

However, this is where hope enters the picture. As much as I liked the idea of remembering names and lives from the past, there was no magic in speaking the names aloud and it was not up to me to keep their memory alive because they were never forgotten!

My life will end, my story will most likely be forgotten on earth. But it's after death that life really begins. I will move from life on earth to eternal life. From pain and brokenness to complete freedom and unencumbered joy.

Eternity is where our stories will not be forgotten because they will never end! Every step we take on earth should be seen in the light of eternity. Consider what you devote your time and energy to. Is it something that will pass away when your body does?

Or is it something that will last for eternity?

"For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

"You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures." (Psalm 16:11)

"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to shame and eternal contempt." (Daniel 12:2)

"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

- - - - -

For some of the more interesting and/or sweet inscriptions, see below.



BUDDED ON EARTH
TO BLOOM IN HEAVEN

Gone but not forgotten

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

LOVE SHALL BIND US FOREVER

Weep not Father and Children,
for me, for I am waiting in glory
for thee.

Aged 19 yrs 2 mo.
& 12 days.

I just thought this one was so pretty!
(especially for the time period)

Beneath this stone in
soft repose is laid a
mother's dearest pride
- - - - -
(I placed the flower there.
This is the one I obsessed over.)

"After lifes fitful fever, she sleeps well."

DARLING LITTLE
KATE
- - -
Of such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Thou art gone little Agnes
Sweet child of our love.
From earth's fairy(?) strand
To bright mansions above.

This one was odd...
- - - - -
This sign X was on his forehead
This star * was over him
"He tried to be his brothers
keeper and failed
And hid himself under the name of
THE LONE PALM TREE"

Never before have I seen a headstone that said, "See Other Side"!
To be fair, there was more written on the back side of the stone.

2.7.14

Thunk. Bang!

Thunk. Bang!

That's the sound that woke me at 4 o'clock this morning. It usually takes a pretty substantial noise to wake me, which is why I nearly always miss out on thunderstorms. This noise must have made it through to my brain because of its being so out of place.

Thunk. Bang!

Doug was still snoozing away. He is usually such an incredibly light sleeper that I'm pretty sure a fairy sneeze would wake him (and then he'd be very cross at the fairy for interrupting his sleep). In fact, the only thing that does not seem to wake Doug is his own snoring.

Thunk. Bang!

Seeing that Prince Charming was not coming to the rescue this time, I got up to see what was going on. My money was on one of the children. You never know when one of them is going to embark on some bizarre midnight adventure, like getting stuck under a bed or having an anxiety attack.

Thunk. Bang!

The kids were both snug in their beds, sound asleep. "Huh. So, if it's not me... and it's not Doug... and it's not the children... Oh my goodness! One of the air conditioner installers must have hidden himself inside the house!"

Thunk. Bang!

Surely this was the sound of a very clumsy and delayed attempt on our lives! I followed the noise to the kids' bathroom (because I'm a stupid woman in a horror movie). But there was no one in the kids' bathroom. "Huh."

Thunk. Bang!

"The cabinets! It was coming from the bathroom cabinets." Clearly, a person couldn't fit in there. And really, what would be the point if they could? No-- this must be an animal. "Oh my goodness! There's a rabid raccoon in the cabinet!"

Thunk. Bang!

(Before you judge my intelligence, please keep in mind that it was 4 a.m. and I had been awakened from a very deep sleep.) "I'm going to open the cabinet door and the raccoon is going to jump out and attack me and I'm going to be very surprised!"

Thunk. Bang!

"Well... here goes!" I opened the cabinet door and... Cookie. Not a child. Not a malicious intruder. Not a rabid raccoon. Just my cat. The dear, sweet moron had managed to get into the cabinet, but couldn't get back out.

I released the defective feline and stumbled back to bed. Unfortunately, once he had been rescued by his Mom in Shining Armor, Cookie felt the need to repay my heroic act by purring as loudly as possible and stomping around on my pillow.

[sigh]

I rather wondered if Doug hadn't been playing possum through all of this, but he verified this morning that he was totally unaware of the entire event. He had a nice laugh about it though. Next time, he gets to investigate the strange noise!


30.6.14

EKG

First of all, I just came upon my son as he was about to ride a pillow down the stairs, head first. He tried to claim that he was just laying there - at the top of the stairs, with the upper part of his body hanging off the first step - but I'm not buying it.

When I told Doug what "his" son was about to do, he said, "That sounds about right," and then he told me the frightening stories of what he and his brother used to do on the stairs of the house they grew up in.

Not. Helping.

Now, regarding Lila's anxiety issues. We went to see the pediatrician last week, to reassure Lila that there is nothing physically wrong with her heart. The doctor agreed that this sounds like anxiety and she heard nothing wrong with Lila's heart, but (naturally) they want to send us to a pediatric cardiologist for an EKG, "just to be sure."

I agree, it's a good idea to rule out physical problems. There is only so much that the doctor can determine by listening to a person's heart through their stethoscope. I'm just sick of being sent to flippin' specialists for everything (and having to pay a $60 copay at every visit)!

Meh.

Anyway, the EKG is scheduled for July 9th and Lila's going to talk to a children's therapist on July 8th. I am looking forward to getting a second opinion from the therapist and I am not remotely worried about the EKG.

I'll keep you posted.

Finally, the kids had a blast at their respective summer camps! Eli came home with a new LEGO minifig and a bag of crafts he'd made. Lila came home with the decision that she wants to give up ballet and take horseback riding lessons in the fall.

Here are some photos from Lila's last day of horse camp.

This is Teva the filly. I spent about 20 minutes petting her. So cute!

Being a baby, she wanted to nibble everything. Including my skirt and hand.

Gah! I want a horse!

Lila, chatting with Walter.

Look at that smile!

The kids look so small on those big horses. (Lila's second from the right.)

It was a beautiful morning. Only a little hot when this thing came out from
behind the clouds.

After the show

Hello, Walter!

Blue eyes - beautiful and creepy. As you can see on the sign, his name
is Shiner.

22.6.14

Anxiety

Lila told me three interesting/concerning things this week.

1. On Wednesday night/Thursday morning, she woke me up around 1:30 a.m. She asked me to come downstairs and snuggle with her and she tried talking to me what was going on. Given that I was only partially awake, I couldn't figure out what she was trying to tell me.
 
The next day, when I was awake, I got Lila to tell me about it again. She said that when she woke up around 1 a.m., her heart was beating very hard. She got up for a drink of water. Then got up again to go to the bathroom. Then she was cold and her legs started trembling, but not because of the cold.
 
She was scared and only wanted to talk to me about it.
 
2. Lila also told me that she gets a pain in her chest, every 2 or 3 days. She said it lasts for about 10-15 seconds and then goes away. She described it as hurting, but not being a sharp pain. She said it's been going on for a while, but she was afraid to talk about it.

3. Around 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, she came downstairs to tell me (not a delay tactic) that sometimes she feels like crying when we leave her in the guest room to read. (She reads by herself for 30 minutes before going to bed.)
 
Lila said she's tried to figure out why, but there doesn't seem to be a reason. I asked if she feels better once she gets into bed and she said she doesn't know, but she usually forgets about it once she starts reading.

I fear these are the beginnings of struggles with anxiety. I have hoped so hard that she wouldn't inherit this genetic predisposition that seems to run in my family. We already know that she has trouble managing her emotions and controlling her fearful thoughts.

I don't know if those are normal childhood things or signs of something more. I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but I don't want to ignore it either. For now, I will pray. I'll also be making an appointment with a counselor, to get their opinion, and with her pediatrician, to reassure her that there's nothing wrong with her heart.
 
I'm really not worried, but it does make me sad. My 8-year-old should not be worried about her heart!
 
If you are a person who sees us, please don't say anything about this in front of Lila. I need support and prayer, so I can't keep this to myself, but I don't want her to know how many people are aware of the situation.
 
Thank you. [hugs]

19.6.14

Mice

Doug has gone off on a short business trip. He's in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami for two nights. He gets home on Saturday evening, will be home for two nights, and then leaves on Monday to go to California for three nights.

When Doug goes on his overseas business trips, I get terribly stressed out. I've talked before about the reasons why it gets me in such a tizzy. His stateside trips are far less frequent, but they really don't bother me.

If something catastrophic happened, he could more likely make his way back home. If something non-catastrophic-but-still-urgent happened, he could get home much more quickly. I can still text with him and talk to him whenever I want (more or less).

For example, the miracle of texting technology allowed us to have the following conversation, while he was sitting at the airport and I was folding laundry...

Me: BTDubs, thank you for making the bed this morning.
Doug: BTDubs?
Me: That's what I said.
Me: BTDubs. BTW. Duh.
Doug: Oh no you didn't!
Me: Whatevs.
Doug: You are out of control.
Me: When the cat's away...
Doug: Hmm... bad mice. Bad mice!

This is what's wrong with our society, I'm pretty sure.

The kids don't seem to care that he's gone, so far. Lila got mildly moist-eyed when he left this morning, but she recovered almost immediately. She's either comforted to know that he won't be gone long or she's picking up on my lack of anxiety. Or both.

Just before dinner, I realized that we had nothing to eat except sandwiches, which is what we had for lunch. (--Way to go, Mom. -- Eh, I'll cook tomorrow night instead.) I convinced the children to bathe and we headed out for dinner at Mighty Fine.

As we were getting in the car, Eli said, "Where's Dad...?" If someone is out of Eli's line of sight, he temporarily forgets they exist, so he's good. Doug called right at bedtime, to tell the kids goodnight. Eli was already in bed, with the lights out.

When I told him Dad wanted to say goodnight, he said, "I'm too tired to do that right now." I think he'll survive Doug's absence. [wink]

16.6.14

Expectations

If you were paying any attention to the photos I posted to Facebook over the weekend, then you know that we took a last-minute trip to San Antonio. It was a sort of Father's Day celebration and a chance to get family time before Doug goes on a couple of short business trips.

The way the whole thing started, really, was with my Friday morning prayer time. I was sipping my coffee and musing about how much I wanted a vacation of my own. Just a chance to sit and sip coffee and muse... without interruption or guilt.

I thought about asking Doug to take the children and disappear for the weekend - or let me disappear for the weekend - but then I realized that wouldn't be a very sporting thing to do to him on Father's Day.

Then I thought maybe we could ALL get away for the weekend. In retrospect, I'm not sure how I went from thinking I needed some relaxing time away from the kids to planning a weekend of jamming all four of us into a car and then a hotel room.

Still, the idea appealed to my spontaneous nature, so I went for it. I told Doug to erase all his expectations for the weekend and went in search of a good deal on a nearby getaway. Thanks to Groupon, I got us a hotel on the San Antonio Riverwalk (more or less).

We got off to a VERY rough start on Friday night. Lila got a bug up her butt over having to share a sofa-bed with her brother and made everyone's life miserable until she collapsed with exhaustion. We thought we'd be in a room with two Queen beds - one for the girls and one for the boys - and she does not do well when reality does not meet expectations.

Saturday was better. We went to the Riverwalk, as soon as we were all dressed and breakfasted, and wandered around until we found the river "cruises". We cruised, we walked some more, and then we headed to the Alamo.

We all took turns having our grumpy moments, but it was a generally good morning. Actually, my moment wasn't really grumpiness. It was pain. Cramps, in my back. Ugh. For everyone else, it was fatigue-fueled grumpy moments!

Nonetheless, the weather was delightfully mild and this was Doug's and my favorite part of the weekend.

We finished up with lunch at Iron Cactus, and then it was back to the hotel, where we moved to a room with two Queen beds and took a group nap. I continued to nap as Doug and the kids went to the hotel pool (Lila's favorite part of the weekend).

We hit another rough patch at dinnertime. We made the mistake of saying, "Where should we eat dinner?" Where adults see this as the beginning of a collaborative discussion, children see it as a chance to get what they want.

Lila suggested Pei Wei. We didn't go to Pei Wei. More sulking and rudeness ensued. The good news is that bedtime was a breeze that night. We read stories and snuggled and left the children to fall asleep on their own, in separate beds.

Doug and I went down to the lobby-- Well, first, we lurked outside the door to our room, listening for sounds of violence. Then we went down to the lobby, enjoyed Adult Beverages, and judged other parents for keeping their kids up too late.

Sunday morning was the San Antonio Museum of Art, where we conducted a scientific experiment on how long you can expect a 6-year-old boy to contain himself inside a museum before he loses his mind and starts to behave in socially unacceptable ways.

We did a quick lunch at Little Aussie's Bakery & Deli (a meal at which restaurant is reason enough to go to San Antonio for a weekend - did you see the photo of the French toast that I posted?), and then headed back home.

Thank you, Home, for having a wonderful mattress. And more than one room. And doors between those rooms. And my French press. And food that doesn't contain meat or cheese. And my guinea pig. And Netflix.

This morning, I was back to my prayer time. Sipping coffee and musing about how much I want a vacation of my own. Sounds horribly ungrateful, doesn't it? And I suppose it is. I did enjoy the weekend, but it didn't provide the break I was longing for.

Here is a perfect example of summer vacation with children:

The kids and I were sitting at Emler this afternoon, waiting for swim class to begin. I was looking at my phone. Not a group activity, mind you. Just ME. Looking at MY phone. Lila leaned over to see what I was looking at.

I wasn't doing anything secret, so I angled the phone toward her and showed her the photo of herself that I was viewing. She said to me, "Why do you show me every picture of myself?" She said this as though I had just chased her down and shoved the photo in her face.

I said, "I don't. I showed you ONE picture of you. Because you were looking over my shoulder." Then Eli poked his head over, to see what we were looking at. Again, this was no secret, so I pointed the phone toward him.

He looked at the photo and said, "Why did you show me a picture that I've already seen?"

What is wrong with these people?!?

Seriously. I want to know.

11.6.14

Scheming

I think my children are planning to run away from home.

At the toy store yesterday, Lila bought herself a new suitcase, for $10.82 (used). It's very cute - pink, with hearts and a monkey on the front. It's on wheels and it's about 30 years newer than the one they currently use.

She has been dragging it around behind her, wherever she goes, for two days now. This morning, she used it to pack a snack for the gym. . . . Let me repeat that. She used a whole suitcase to pack one small snack.

Later in the day, she told me about a few things she'd loaded up in there. I asked her, in jest, if she was planning to run away from home. She said no.

At rest time, I could hear a lot of activity coming from upstairs. Thumping, running, clanking. When I went up to tell the kids that rest time was over, Eli informed me that he had packed for our beach trip. Our beach trip, which isn't happening until the first week in August.

At first, I thought he was just inspired by Lila's new suitcase and looking forward to our trip. But then I realized that my first instinct was right. They are planning to run away from home. All of these hijinks are a ploy.

They are trying to throw me off their scent, so that I won't immediately realize it when they leave. I'm onto their game now. I'll be keeping an eye on them. Can't get one past this mom! No way, I'm totallyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

9.6.14

MVPs

Lila + Friend = Smiles!
I think Lila and Eli are missing the regular time spent with their friends (and away from each other). They will play together nicely for a while and then turn on each other. That's nothing new, really, but they are spending more time together, so it's happening more often.

This is why I'm planning a couple of fun outings every week and inviting our friends to come along. Attendance has been spotty, but we have seen a few friends. Tomorrow, we're going to check out a very Austin-y toy store and have brunch/lunch at Kerbey Lane.

I hope one of Lila's friends can make it because she hasn't seen any of them in a couple of weeks. I can only imagine the amount of pent-up giggles she's dealing with! Plus, a friend for her means a little less refereeing for me.

- - - - -

If, by some miracle, you haven't heard, our church small group/Bible study pooled together our excess belongings and had a charity garage sale this weekend. We raised $434.16 for Feed My Starving Children!

According to their donation site, $400 will feed a family of 5 for a full year! And $33 will feed 5 children for a month. And, on top of all that, we had so much fun doing it! There were half a dozen of us running the sale and we had a lot of laughs.

Robert Gomez and Doug definitely worked the hardest, and the Garage Sale MVP Award goes to Robert, for being able to speak and understand Spanish! The kids should probably get some kind of award too, for not falling apart as they watched their toys being bought by strangers!

Though, I must admit, Lila did give a bit of the ol' Stinkeye to the lady who loaded up all her Barbies in a pot (which she bought for cooking tamales - yum!). Fear not, she still has so many more that they can barely be contained.

For our own convenience, as much as anything, we decided not to put prices on anything. When someone asked how much we wanted for an item, we said, "All the money we make from this garage sale is going to charity, so you can decide what you think is a reasonable donation."

After they got the deer-in-the-headlights look (which they all did), we simplified it to, "Name your price." It was really pretty funny to watch people's reaction to this approach. There were a few who were so confounded that we finally helped them out by suggesting a price.

A few highlights of the day:

* The bizarre, homemade Satan hand puppet that one of the families was selling. Eli took a liking to it and, among other things, used it to beat up a cardboard Darth Vader. He also got it stuck in a tree, at which point I got to hear myself say:

"We've got to get Satan out of our tree!"

* The two sisters who were so enamored with our belongings that they kept - very cheerfully - buying more and more things. They got so much that they couldn't fit it all in their car. When they came back for the rest, they bought a few more things. It doesn't sound all that funny, but it really was.

* The mother and two children who milled around our sale for an HOUR and kept buying things, 50 cents or a dollar at a time. We probably made $15 off of them, in the end. And really, who has children that will patiently browse at a single garage sale for an hour?!?

* The guys who bought a twin-size wooden bed frame, three mattresses, and a two-seater kids' wagon... and managed to load all of it into (and on top of) a Honda Civic (or something like that). It was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.

5.6.14

DFDADBETDPO

That is the title of a book that Eli wrote this evening. He drew the illustrations, wrote his own title, and made boxes for the rest of the text. Doug helped him my transcribing his words into the text boxes. It's cute and creative and I told him I wanted to share it with my friends. :)

Front Cover

He was walking along.
Shot a tree.

He shot the tree. Walked along.
He had a scary feeling. It felt like
a very, very scary feeling.

It was scary. It was a MONSTER!
It was not a fun time.

It was so scary. I felt like I had to
shoot it. It was defeated! That was good.

Back Cover