Fresh New Start

Now that I've realized the error of my ways and will no longer be over-committing myself, we're starting fresh. We had a happy weekend, I've just about recovered from my exhaustion, and am looking forward to normalcy for a while. Marvin is off starting Thursday for a long weekend and the prospect of a three day week is positively delicious!

We got a bit done on the painting the in the new office, not as much as I'd like, and I'm working on schemes to get babysitting and help so I can get a lot done on my own. Hopefully we can begin to move the furniture back in during our four day weekend.
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Cosmic City Part Five

Whew! Last night was absolutely unbearable. I actually had a better attitude going into it, but it soured with each song we sang. It was parent night, so it ended early and Marvin was there with us. As soon as the kids were dismissed to the ice cream party, we were outta there as fast as we possibly could be.

I woke up this morning groggy and with that buzzy feeling in the back of my head that I get when I'm about to get sick. We spent the morning at my mother-in-law's house hanging up some pictures and moving some furniture for her (she just moved back in after the fire clean up crew finished up from the fire she had last Christmas Eve).

I spent the rest of the day downing vitamin C, minerals, sesame seed oil and various other immune-boosting potions and laying on the couch with a headache. We were supposed to teach Sunday school tonight at the 6:00 service, but called and said we just couldn't make it. My kids looked like wilted flowers all day, and I couldn't bear the thought of using my "teacher voice" again so soon.

Here's the conclusion I've come to about VBS this year:
I've had a bit of trouble discerning if the disastrous week was a result of spiritual warfare because I was choosing to serve Jesus, or if it was a result of a poor, selfish choice on my part and I was reaping the consequences.

I do believe that I made a selfish choice. I gave absolutely no thought to the ramifications that a week-long, four hour evening commitment would have on my family. I think I just chose to do it because I thought I should, that as a children's ministry worker it was expected of me. Perhaps it was expected, but more important is what the Lord expects of me as a priority; my duty as a mother and a wife.

People like me who are gifted in the area of serving others struggle with over-commitment, and a false sense of duty and obligation to those around them instead of to the Lord. This has taught me a valuable lesson. While I enjoy fulfilling part of my purpose and using my God-given gifts and talents, I need to temper that with prayerfulness and caution that I'm doing it for His glory, not my own, not to make myself look like super-woman.

I will no longer carelessly heap opportunities to serve on myself. I will seek His guidance in which to choose so that I might glorify the Lord and represent His heart to the ones I serve. Lord, I pray that I might serve with humility, gladness, grace and an abundance of Your love.


Cosmic City Part Four

Due to the fact that I participated in no home maintenance activities yesterday, I felt a bit more capable as I loaded up the kids to make trek number four to church last night.

We were down from 13 kids to 8 in our group which made a huge difference (and I still had my two helpers) and all went well. I even got to sit and visit with a couple of friends during the snack portion of the evening. Marvin picked up Ava AND Benji this time though, because you could just see the tiredness in Benji's eyes. He was even too worn out to muster a single "poop head!" to his friend Noah.

Alec did have another melt down when we got home; not so much stomping, just lots of weeping and pleading to stay up even later (it was already 10:00!) and spend time with Daddy. I, on the other hand, was so tired I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head and I still had my cotton filled headache.

Again this morning another miraculous sleeping-in episode, and Ava played quietly and happily in her crib until she shouted, "MOMMY!" at 9:00 and startled me awake. I took it easy all morning, getting us ready slowly and dreading the impending trip to the grocery store with three weary children and an even wearier mommy. We finally left at around 11:30, when I should have been home already and putting Ava to bed. I worried that things would be a total disaster.

It actually went smoothly. We met my dad for lunch, did a return, bought a birthday present and a couple of other things at Target, and then I realized that it was so late that if I didn't skip the grocery store, Ava would be skipping her nap.

Ava's asleep now; I'm heading downstairs to do a load of laundry and a quick house work catch up from yesterday. We have a really busy weekend and the last thing I enjoy is a weekend mess on top of a week's mess to clean up on Monday! I'll post tomorrow how tonight went and I think I have some conclusions about my bad attitude. . .


Cosmic City Part Three

I"m sitting here typing with an iced coffee and a plate of baked no-no's. Sounds nice, but I'm trying to shake off this headache I woke up with and the feeling of dread that's creeping over me as I look at the clock.

Last night I was a tad late for VBS, but everything went smoothly till about 8:00. Benji simply couldn't take any more (and frankly, neither could I) and I just had to take him home. Sounds simple, but in order to do that I had to find Mrs. H and request permission to turn over my 12 little cherubs to my two helpers, and find Alec's group and take him and two of his friends out, also.

When we got home, Alec had a complete meltdown. We're talking screaming, wailing, falling on the floor, stomping, the works. I was completely startled until I remembered that he had spent the night at a friend's house the night before and they had stayed up till 11:30 doing whatever it is that 7 year old little boys do in the middle of the night.

Our desperate remedy for that was a little one-on-one time with Daddy and the announcement that we had decided to let him keep one of Polly's kittens. That worked nicely and we had both boys tucked in by around 10:00 (2 hours past bedtime!)

This morning everyone slept in (a complete and total miracle- no one here will sleep past 7:00 except me!), but I got up feeling like I had a VBS hangover, complete with a cotton filled headache and, again, a rotten attitude. I decided that I would not do anything at all today except keep the kids safe and fed. We went to my lovely friend Sarah's house to kill a couple of hours and I looked at her vacation photos from their recent trip to Yellowstone. My boys played happily with her boys and her daughter played with Ava.

I've fed us lunch and plopped the boys down in front of unlimited TV and movies for the rest of the afternoon. And no, I don't feel at all guilty! Ava's napping, I'm going to shower and then continue to do nothing till it's time to leave. Maybe we'll feast on air and paper for dinner. . .


Wordless Wednesday

You're MY superhero, Benji! I love you, Boo.
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Cosmic City Part Two

I've been a Sunday school teacher for several years. I've taught ages 4 through 7. Having 12 kids in a classroom at 9:00 am with a door you can shut is one thing. Having to escort 12, 4 and 5 year olds through a crowd of 100 other kids to a new location every 20 minutes at 7:00 PM is quite another thing! That is what I did Monday night and last night and will be doing the rest of the week. To add to the stress, we have Mrs. R and Mrs. H (heads of children's ministry and VBS) with their eagle eyes upon us, be very afraid if you should happen to let a kid get away!

Despite the crippling circumstances, last night went fairly well, no one got lost thanks to my constant paranoid head counting and my two high school age helpers. Verbally, however, the night did not go well at all. Every time I looked at him, Benji was gleefully participating in some vigorous name calling with eloquent titles such as "poop head", "diaper face" and the worst one, "princess"! I was mortified.

We had a talk with him this morning and he is fully aware that that is not acceptable behavior and if he should participate in it again, he will be in the baby nursery tonight with Ava and will be taken home by Daddy when he comes to pick her up.

My morning went well, we had an appointment with the chiropractor to correct the damage done when Ava fell down the stairs and got kicked in the head last week. Alec had spent the night at a friends house, so we picked him up after that and ran a quick errand.

All went relatively well until we were leaving the store and Benji accidentally threw one of his Webkinz in front of an oncoming car in the parking lot. I wasn't holding his hand like I normally do and didn't realize what had happened until I heard him yell. I turned my head just in time to see him dash out in front of the car to pick it up. Thankfully the car was going fairly slowly and stopped when they saw Benji.

I got the kids in the car and had to explain to Benji very sternly that it would be much better for his fake fur and stuffing Webkinz to get run over than for his real self to get run over, and that we can always buy another Webkinz, but never another Benji. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I had one of "those moments" . . .

You know when something happens or you say something that really drives home a truth about your life? Well of course I know I can never buy another Benji, but don't I forget that sometimes and take him for granted! He is precious and unique. I will always hold his hand in the parking lot. At least till he's old enough to drive!


Cosmic City

It's that time again...our annual VBS, "Cosmic City" this year. This is my third year working it and each time I tell myself that it's fun and that I enjoy serving the Lord this way. But then something happens and by the second night or so I'm wondering what crazy person took over my body and made me do this!!

I'm trying to figure out why I have such a bad attitude about it, so for my sanity (and probably the INsanity of my few readers) I'm going to be posting about each night. Hopefully by the end of the week, I can look back and have some sort of answer...

For starters, yesterday did not go very well. I spent the day in a "I'm going to take it easy and save my energy for tonight" mindset, but cleaned and cleaned like crazy at the same time. I put dinner in the oven at about noon (which worked out rather well, since we have to leave the house at 5:30), but didn't start getting all of us ready till about 4:00.

That was largely due to the fact that after Ava had been asleep only an hour, she was startled awake by Benji screaming outside her bedroom door. That lead me to a new rule that NO ONE is allowed upstairs while she's asleep, for any reason. That also lead me to an afternoon of frustration and chaos, with a curious and cranky toddler. I can now officially say that Ava's favorite activities are climbing the stairs and playing in the toilet.

I ended up putting Ava in the bathtub while I tried to get ready so that she wouldn't be throwing my lipstick in the toilet or dragging tampons out of the trash. It was going well till I looked over and saw not only bath toys, but POOP floating around in the water with her. Those of you who know me know that I don't at all deal well with poop anywhere it's not supposed to be. I supressed my gagging and cleaned up the mess, drained the tub, cleaned it, filled it, put Ava back in, and finished my makeup.

When I was done, I turned around to see Ava standing up and PEEING in her fresh bath water. In order to prevent myself from screaming, I muttered, "Oh, thanks Ava! I really enjoy the opportunity to do things over and over again. Each time I do it I learn how to do it better and better!" as I drained the tub, cleaned it, filled it, and put Ava back in.

After I washed her and dried her off, I decided to let her go naked for a few minutes to ease the nasty diaper rash she's got. I went to serve dinner but was stopped short by Benji yelling, "MOM, Ava's peeing!!!!". Oh yes, I really enjoyed cleaning up my third potty mess of the hour, I did it with a big smile on my face! (here's sarcasm, people!)

Needless to say, when I got to church with 5 kids in tow and realized that the group of 4 and 5 year olds that I was escorting around all night had grown to 12, my attitude did not improve. All things considered, the night at VBS was not all that bad. But at the end when the MC reminded us that there will be more kids each night I, um, shall we say "grumbled" a bit...

I don't want to have a bad attitude about this, I think the fact that I'm aware of it is a good sign. We'll see by the end of the week if something shows up that will help me figure out the problem.

Has anyone else worked their VBS? Did you enjoy it?


Revisiting a Journey

I've recently had a request for information about a remodeling project, and it inspired me to post these year-overdue pictures of our kitchen remodel.
We've been working on this house little by little over the past 8 years; why we waited till we had three kids to do the kitchen is beyond me!
Anyways, it was an absolutely horrific thing to go through, but I have absolutely no regrets. We all learned a lot about each other, our marriage stretched and grew as we learned new ways to communicate, and I got over my paranoia of having to feed everyone healthy food all the time. We ate fast food at least once a day all summer, and everyone survived! As a friend of mine put it, "Do your best and let God do the rest."
I learned some valuable lessons that summer. Our new kitchen is such a blessing, we now have room to all sit down together and eat, and I'm able to host an impromptu meal for guests at a moment's notice.
I will never recommend to anyone to live in your house while remodeling a kitchen, but I will tell anyone that it can be done, and it will either make you or break you.
Enjoy the pictures!

This is not the "before" kitchen in it's entirety, I had started to take it apart before I remembered to take a picture.

Hubby had to use a saw to remove the old, built in cabinets

Alec pitched in and was very excited to be using a power tool

Bye-bye, old nasty stained porcelain sink!!
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This is the "pit", as I so fondly called it. The room next to our kitchen was the kids toyroom, we shoved all the toys to the back, moved in our refrigerator, table and chairs and EVERYTHING ELSE that was in our kitchen. We lived that way for almost 5 months. It was totally insane.

Here's the kitchen just before we put the cabinets in. I danced around the tile guy as he was installing, trying to hurry up and get the final coat of paint on. Because the shade of red we chose was so deep, we used a gray primer underneath. We did one coat of that and two coats of the red, and it ended up exactly true to the swatch.

This is the view from the kitchen into the living room, completely unuseable also because of all the cabinets parked in the middle of the floor. We spent most of the summer outside!

And here's my beloved, puzzling over how in the heck to install cabinets in a house with no square walls or corners.
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And here it is...Ta da!!
I have a huge single sink, absolutely LOVE it!! It's great for putting babies in...

I had an old 1950's stove/oven that belonged to my great aunt before. It had a cool, retro vibe, but it took about 15 min. for a pot of water to boil! I really enjoy my new flat-top convection range...makes cooking dinner a whole new experience!

I designed the kitchen around my grandmother's collection of original Fiestaware. The pitcher and round saltshakers are among my favorite pieces.

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This Lady's Got an Attitude!

Today was just "one of those days". *sigh* Stop reading here if you don't want to feel depressed, or keep reading if you want to feel really good about the day you just had!

It began with me having the uncontrollable urge to go back to bed after I helped Marvin get out the door to work (he leaves at 6:45-ish). I did, but was pounced on too many times to count by my early-to-rise boys. Just as I finally drifted off, I heard "MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!" from my daughter through the baby monitor. Up and at 'em, mom!

Ok, you know that toddler phase where if you look at them sideways, hand them the wrong sippy cup or cut the banana just a little too small they go ballistic? Ava's got talent in that area, right down to the shaking her head while screaming and walking backwards away from me. She performed that routine for me all morning right up till we walked out the door to go visit my friend Brittany.

Brittany is on bed rest, pregnant with twins *exciting!*, and I was hoping to do some dishes, laundry, etc. for her while our kids played. I began our visit by unloading Brittany's dishwasher. Ava began the visit by heading upstairs to check out the toilet. I found her a few minutes later trying to see how much toilet paper she could sink with her hands.

After cleaning her off and releasing her back into the wild, I re-loaded the dishwasher and headed upstairs with a load of laundry. Good thing I went up when I did; Ava had poured out two glasses of water on the floor in a bedroom and was in the process of dumping out a box of dried beans.

After cleaning up yet again, I decided to play "bed rest" with Brittany and sat down on the couch. Hearing what sounded like Benji and Ava screaming, I got back up and went to the stairs just in time to see Ava tumbling head over heels down from the top landing.

None of my kids have ever fallen down the stairs anywhere (home included), but this looked just as awful as I had imagined. I screamed as I was running towards her because for some idiotic reason I thought screaming would stop her from falling. I held her while she cried that weird trauma cry and frantically prayed and searched for her paci. In a few minutes, she was calm and off and running, with a medium sized lump and cut on the side of her head.

After fixing a somewhat scrappy lunch for 7 hungry mouths, we all went outside to let the kids play on the swing set. For some reason I wasn't being very attentive and let Ava walk right in front of a swiftly swinging 4 year old. Immobile, I watched in horror as his stiff, outstretched foot connected with her forehead and sent her tumbling once again. As I held her again while she cried, I could see a lump swelling on her forehead to match the one on the side.

Needless to say, I developed a pretty rotten attitude throughout the day, very apparent in the short comment I made to Brittany, "I suck!". Days like this make me feel like a total failure, I don't even know what my boys did all day except the many fights I had to break up. I did no house work; during Ava's nap I sat on the bed and ate a chocolate bar dipped in peanut butter.

I'm glad the Lord gives grace 'cause I had none of my own to hand out today! Here's to tomorrow, may it be safe, peaceful, and productive!


Wordless Wednesday

Look out, boys!

Gotta love that damp, wispy baby hair!
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Mah-velous Monday!

The boys coined some new phrases over the weekend:

Alec was helping Marvin use fishtape to pull some old wire out of the wall in our front room. Marvin went around the corner, and Alec said, "Hey, Dad! Do you need the monkey wire in there?"

Before our prayers with the boys last night, Benji excitedly told me that he and Daddy had seen some "fire bees" outside and they were "turning on and off!!".

Too cute!

Today I start my new summer schedule with the kids. After last week of nothingness, it's very clear to me that we all need some sort of routine to stick to even though school's out. It's pretty similar to the school one that we use, but includes time for "weeding and watering" and fun outdoor activities instead of school.

I also have an appointment this morning to FINALLY get a nasty, ugly, very tiny skin tag removed from my neck! Yay!


Happy Father's Day!

To my husband: unique, perfect, chosen for me by my heavenly Father and the father of our three incredible children.
No one but you can teach our boys how to be men.
No one but you can teach our daughter how to be a strong, self-assured woman.
No one but you can answer when they say, "Daddy?"
No one but you can be my perfect partner in this amazing journey of parenthood.
Thank you for being beside me.
I love you!
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Extra! Extra!

Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow! Tonight Ava did it again; said "Pee!", we put her on the potty, she peed and then before I realized what was happening, she yanked off a piece of toilet paper and WIPED HERSELF!!!!!!

I am floored. The boys were tremendously hard to potty train, even though I just left it alone till they were ready. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect a child of mine to be ready to potty train before the age of two.

We'll see what happens with this. I really hope it's not just a fluke. It would be so nice to be done with diapers early...
Anyone with girls or early potty trainers got any advice??


Wordless Wednesday

Attack of the pruny hand...
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Breaking news!

Wow!! Ava ran up to Daddy tonight and urgently said "Peeeee!". He took off her diaper and sat her on the potty and she peed!

She's been telling us on and off when she poops or pees in her diaper, but we've just never thought about putting her on the potty 'cause she's so little still (18 mos.). The boys weren't nearly ready till close to three.

Hm mm, I wonder if I should try to potty train her this summer using the naked for two weeks method? Trouble is, we have carpet in a couple rooms and I'm not sure I want to clean up pee spots daily.

Any thoughts?


Watching Water

We had a lovely (but VERY hot) weekend. The brand-new slip-n-slide that I purchased at the Goodwill store last fall for $1.99 came out of it's package at last and did not disappoint!

For some reason Ava was terrified of it, despite many attempts by the boys to "help" her enjoy it!

When I saw this face, I knew it was time to call it quits

And then I looked up and saw this at the end of the slip-n-slide, which speaks for itself!

We spent several hours on Sunday afternoon hanging out in the backyard doing nothing but watching the kids play and decided that we're going to try to do that every Sunday.

Ok, Happy Monday, everyone! I'm off to watch The Bachlorette...
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Four Weeks

The kittens are four weeks old now. A couple of days ago, we heard one mewing in the boxwood hedge in front of our house. We found it and put it back in the box with the others, but within 5 minutes Polly had taken it back out and put it back in the bushes! She proceeded to quickly take the remaining two out and deposit them with the first one.

We weren't sure what she was doing, we thought maybe the box was just too hot and she was trying to get them cool (it's been 90 degrees lately), or she just thought it was time to introduce them to the wide world around them.

I was going to leave them be until Marvin mentioned that if one of them wandered too far, a passerby may help themselves to it or one of the many stray cats living nearby might decide to do some damage.

The kittens are now safely housed in a very large dog crate on the front porch in the shade, and we let Polly in several times a day so she can feed them, and out so she can visit her "husband" across the street!

They are absolutely adorable; it's amazing that they can grow this much in only four weeks! (I really wasn't trying to take pictures of their rear ends, they just kept tottering away from the camera)

This picture was for size comparison; they really are still very small and oh-so-cuddly!
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She's Back!

I decided to hire that cleaning lady again; I thought I'd see what her skills were with laundry

Turns out she'd rather tap dance on the lid

or just play with makeup (Hm mm, a girl after my own heart!)
I still paid her though!
I have a feeling her kind of "housework" is just what we need around here. . .
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Funny Benji

Since I"m using this blog as a sort of digital scrapbook, I have to post these funny moments we've had lately with Benji. There are three, bravo to you if you make it to the end of them without laughing out loud at least once!

  • A recent conversation: Me, upon seeing Benji's choice of clothing for the day, "Oh sweetie! You're wearing Alec's shorts!" Benji, "Yeah, and I put on three shirts and it's a little weird!" Me, "OK, can Mommy help you?" (trying very hard to stifle a laugh because he just looked so bulky!) Benji, "Yeah. I couldn't open my drawer so I opened Alec's drawer and I thought Hm mm, maybe these are my clothes?"

  • Benji and I were on one of our rare trips to the mall. We were in the elevator. Benji, having just pushed the down button says, "Mom, is it going to go fast?" and then, "WHOA! my penis almost fell off!"

  • Alec and Benji collect a series of cards called Weird n Wild, they are a compilation of real and fictional creatures and beasts. Benji was looking at them with Papa. He picked up the King Cobra card and soberly announced, "The King Cobra. If you meet him at night, he'll eat your penis."

Clearly this little boy seems to have an interest in his, er, underwear region. . .Will that ever change, I wonder?


Wordless Wednesday

Our front yard peony bushes started blooming last week. In my mind, that always officially means summer's here! I have fond memories of flicking ants off the table at dinner when my brother and I would bring in a big bouquet of peonies for my mom.
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