Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 New Year's Resolutions

Now for this coming year... what do I want to see change? or grow? or become habit?  This year is a hard one for me to figure out what to write as goals.  I find that I am ready for a lot of change, but not really sure where to begin and how to start.  So here goes...

MY 13 GOALS FOR 2013:

1.  Read the entire Old Testament.

2.  Run a 5K.

3.  Take the kids to church on Wednesday nights.

4.  Stand up for myself and say no when I mean no, yes when I mean yes and learn to accept the things that God has chosen for me to do without overstepping what He has for me to do and trying to do what others have been called to do for themselves.

5.  Go on vacation with either my mom or as a family.  Or both!!

6.  Pay off one zero percent credit card this year.

7.  Change the sheets on our bed every other week.  Ideally once a week, but with everything else, I don't know that I can get it done every week.

8.  Go on one date night a month with Jeremy.

9.  Take a painting class.

10.  Redo a piece of furniture and stain or paint the armoire in the dining room.  In Pottery Barn black finish??  Or white??  Or a color??

11.  Texture and paint our ugly downstairs bathroom.  Or paint our laundry room.  Or the study.  Or all three... wonder what Jeremy would say to these :)

12.  Wear a skirt or dress once a week.  Silly, but I like to dress up and never do.  Need to use the skirts and dresses I have...especially with my cute knee high boots!

13.  Choose one day to NOT look at Facebook... even on my phone.  This will be a challenge for sure.






Reviewing Resolutions

I always like to look at what I had hoped to accomplish in the past year and see what has actually occurred.  I realize that not everything I hope to do/be will happen in a year, but I love how setting goals can bring you further towards things you want to do and become.  So here goes:

My ten goals for this year:

1.  Make it a priority to spend 20 minutes in prayer by myself one night a week.

Did this fairly well for a while.  Even finding that much time one night a week was difficult.  Many nights this year, the girls were still awake at 9:30pm and I went to bed with them.  Or fell asleep with them :)
2.  Go on one date night each month with Jeremy.

For the most part, we did awesome at this as well!  The months of Sept, Oct and Nov we didn't have a date night.  But we had two date nights in December and finances were extremely tight so we cut back where we needed to and date nights were definitely hit by that.  
3.  Go on a vacation to Bermuda for seven days!  (cheating a little...)

Made this goal!!!  Best vacation ever.  Riley talks about it all the time still.  Almost didn't make it on the trip due to airplane issues, but thankfully, did.  Awesome experience!
4.  Learn another new skill...  no idea what this will be, but looking forward to whatever it is!

Not sure what skill I learned.  How to be less codependent and stand up for myself??  A little, yes. How to sew a huge playhouse covering complete with curtains and tunnel?  Yes, oh yes, did that.  How to use a midi keyboard and garage band to create tracks for my choir to perform with?  Yup.  
5.  Workout three days a week if even for just ten minutes to increase my energy.

Did really great working out in spurts depending on the time of year and schedule.  Love working out.  Very challenging, again, to find time with full time job, house, two part time jobs and three kids to juggle.  Did find time after dinner some nights to go running for 30 minutes or so.  Especially in the fall and know that I can do it again this year.
6.  Run a 5K race.

Planned and prepared for the 5K race.  Had worked up to running 3 miles again and was loving it.  But finances took priority so I didn't sign up for the race to save us $25.  Was totally bummed but knew it was the right thing to do.  My running went downhill (ha!) from there and I'm planning to attack this goal again next year!
7.  Find at least two positive things about my day before talking about anything negative that happened.

Sometimes...yes.  Most times... no.  Often I would share the negative and then positive.  Honestly didn't really pay attention to it and just tried to share with Jeremy what I could share and listen to him whenever we had time which was almost never this year.
8.  Pay off our loan from our a/c unit, duct work, and new fence. 

We are closer than we were.  But not as close as I would like to be.  Again, finances became very tight in the fall so we couldn't throw any extra money at the loan.  But we also didn't add much to it and the zero percent cards but we are steadily chipping away at them and that is a positive thing.
9.  Join or lead a women's bible study at church.

YES!!!  I did join a women's bible study at church and went to every single class except one (the night that I was teaching a seminar on children's music at a local daycare group).  Loved the class and meeting new women at church.  Loved growing in my faith and learning more and being challenged.  Of all the goals, this was a really important one to me and I'm so glad to say that I was able to do it!
10.  Spend less time cleaning and more time playing!

I worked really hard to play more often with my kids rather than cleaning up.  I still clean up all the time but I am getting better about putting away the broom or paper towel or laundry to just simply be with them.



Overall, not a thoroughly impressive amount of goals met.  Though I did attempt each and every one for longer than just January.  And I am excited to work towards hitting some of these goals and other ones next year.  Further than I would have been without them!


More Hives

Julia woke up this morning with no hives, spots or anything on her skin other than her epidermis :)

She was still extremely tired from throwing up so much yesterday.  Didn't eat much and did manage to keep down even what she did drink so today was huge progress from yesterday.

Later in the afternoon, we went into the playroom to play.  Julia went into the playhouse and came partially out, grabbing the curtain at the front of one of the playhouses with her hands and rubbing her face/cheeks onto the fabric and bumping her elbows into it.  Not a moment later, large hives (totally different looking that the Erythema that she's been battling) started to form all over every area that rubbed against the fabric.

These are the same hives I get from my allergic reactions and I have no doubt that these are actually hives.  Safe to say, I was wrong and the dr. was right about the diagnosis at the ER the other day.

Julia has quite a few covering her cheeks and chin.  They started to bump up all over her hands and knuckles.  She told me "No worry, Mom.  I no use marker on me."  She was concerned over all the color and bumps that were forming on herself.

Gave her more benadryl.  Thinking that she is very much allergic to whatever the material has been touching before it came to us.  It had been in Jeremy's coworker's barn the past year or two.  We didn't even think about washing it before sewing it.  Why?  Not sure.  Just didn't.  Feel like an idiot for not thinking about it or doing it.  Especially now that we have this monstrosity in our playroom that is totally awesome, but that is breaking Julia out horribly every time she goes into it.  Jeremy and I have talked tonight about what to do about it.  We can strip off the covers and possibly have them dry cleaned.  We can take them off and leave them off and use just the lights.  Or we can just take them off.

Poor Julia.  She went to bed really early and was very exhausted.  Praying our sweet girl can get better and stay better!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

John 3:16

Riley quoted all of John 3:16 for us tonight.  She said she had been working hard to learn it.  And that they had been learning it at church.  After she said it a few times, she added "I think it's from the book of Matthew."  :)

Texts

Riley has been dying to use the texting on her new iPod.  Tonight Jeremy hooked her up with access to me via texts and Facetime.  She thought it was hilarious!!  Couldn't stop laughing when she'd see me on Facetime.

I sent her upstairs to get ready for bed.  She said she was scared to go up by herself, but I told her she'd see me walking up the stairs on her ipod.  So she went up and sat on her bed and was laughing so hard when she saw me walking up.

Then she kept writing me messages.  As I put her to bed, she set her iPod on her nightstand.  She said she'd call me in the morning when she woke up :)

As we were reading tonight, she laughed and said "Oh my gosh.  I can't believe I wrote my first text tonight!  Eeekkkk!!!!"

Here were her texts to me:

I. Love. You. Mom. I. Hop. You. Hav. A. God

Mom. I. Love. You.

Mom. I. Hop. You. Hav. A. God. Day

Riley. Words.

Mom. Words.

Mom. I. See. Tat. You. Ar. Gowin. To. Taxt.

Hi.

Do. You. See. Me. No. But. Is. Bed. Tim.

Do. You. No. Me.


Love that she puts periods at the ends of her words!  Such a sweet girl!!!


Sickness Stinks

Julia has had quite the week.  First the spots all over her body.  And they are still all over her body.  They come and go and then come more and more and then go.  Weirdest stuff ever.  Thinking the dr. was correct and that I was very wrong.  Could be caused from an allergy, but the spots are not behaving like hives which means they are not hives.  So that's partly a good thing.

She is not contagious and seemed to be fine - was happy go lucky as we got ready for church.  So we went to church and drove home.  Got all the way to the driveway and heard Julia cough.  I looked back and watched her get sick all over herself and her car seat.  Thankfully Jeremy parked fast in the driveway and I ran around while he ran out.  We got her outside the car and she got sick all over the driveway.

Riley ran out of the car as fast as possible yelling "Get me out of here!  It smells so bad!  Ugh.... please let me out!"  She ran into the house and was all fine.

I took Julia inside while Jeremy took care of the car seat.  I got her in the shower while he took off the car seat cover and we met at the washing machine to get the load started.  Poor girl.

So the rest of the day was spent with her on the couch.  She threw up several times and is running a fever.  Just got sick again a minute ago and seems to be getting close to the end. Her fever is up again so we'll give her more tylenol/advil in a little while.

Julia hates to throw up.  If we even put the bowl near her, she makes a mad face and says "I don't want the bowl!  I not get sick!!"  She covers her mouth with her hands, willing it to stay in her belly.

One time Riley heard her cough and ran to pick up the bowl and Julia got mad "I don't want it Riley!  No bowl!!"

Riley also used her iPod to turn on Julia's favorite song (Baby Mine from Dumbo).  She put it on repeat so that it would play constantly and then said "I just... I just feel so bad.  I want to help her and I love my little sister."  Was so adorable.

All afternoon Riley tried to keep her distance and at the same time was very aware of Julia and tried to help whenever she could.  Super sweet girl.

I'll be spending the night with Jules in her room again tonight so I can watch her and make sure she is ok.

Worship

Tonight Riley quoted all of John 3:16 for us and said that she had been working on learning the lesson well.  It was awesome.  Then she told us that she learned it from the book of Matthew. :)

We started singing some worship songs and she says "I don't like singing.  I only like calm songs."

Me:  Don't you sing calm songs at church?

Riley:  No.  Only like Silent Night.

Me:  Do they sing "God I look to you.  I won't be overwhelmed...." (we start singing the worship song together)

Riley:  Come on everybody!  Sing with us!

Me:  Do they say that during the service?

Riley:  Yes.  It's so annoying.  I hate when they say that.

Me:  Why is that?

Riley:  Because they totally interrupt the song when they do that.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

9 Year Anniversary

Nine years ago on Dec. 27, Jeremy and I were married.  We have always celebrated with a nice dinner out.  This year Jeremy surprised me with a night out at a local hotel and a wonderful dinner out.  My parents came and stayed with the girls at our house.  The girls were incredibly well behaved and slept fabulous. (My dad - not so much due to being snuggled next to Julia on her lower mattress that is the least comfortable one in the house.  She kept sticking her foot on him and moving.)

We fed the girls dinner and then headed out to dinner at Isabella's Restaurant in Frisco.  We'd heard a lot about it and loved it.  It's a smaller restaurant.  Service was wonderful and we had two small glasses of sparkling wine given to us as an anniversary treat.  There was a gorgeous stone wall in the restaurant and it was really delicious food.

Then we headed to the mall to walk around.  Didn't buy anything but enjoyed our time out. Thought about getting dessert, but figured there would be a restaurant at the hotel.  Turned out, there was just a mini bar area.

We went to our hotel - the A Loft.  It's a newer hotel from the Westin group.  Love Westin Hotels.  It was modern and fun.

It was also really cold but we were hungry enough that we decided to go to Cheesecake Factory and picked up some amazing cheesecakes - Red Velvet cake cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.  A.ma.zing.

There wasn't anything on tv so we watched the top 100 artists on VH1 and read.  Was nice and relaxing.

In the morning, we went shopping a little more.  The two gifts I really wanted for Christmas was a new pair of running shoes (my old ones are over three years old and have no support or cushion anymore) and a new pair of brown knee high boots as I don't have one and would love to wear them with a lot of things.

We found a pair of running shoes at DSW that I love.  Later in the day, I went to Willow Bend Mall and found two pairs of brown knee high boots.  A lot of boots were on sale.  Then they had an additional 25% off boots.  And I had an additional 20% that.  So killer sales!

The taupe pair that I got were originally $199.  On sale for $99.  Minus 25%.  Minus another 20%.  Total was $60.

The dark brown pair was originally $278.  On sale for $199.  Minus 25%.  Minus anohter 20%.  Total was $119.

They equaled less than the one pair I had loved at DSW.

Love good sales!!!

Anthropologie had cute skirts for cheap on their sale racks.  Got a pink one for $6.96.  Originally $68.  And a country style cream one for $6.96.  Originally $78.  Gotta love that!

It was a fantastic anniversary celebration and so nice to finally have some quality time with Jeremy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Erythema Multiforme - Take Two

Yesterday Julia appeared with spots all over.  Today, despite more benadryl last night, she woke up with more spots all over her body.  Especially on her legs and sides of her body and in the groin area.  Some of her toes/foot are swollen and her knuckles on her hands are red and swollen as well.  So I watched her all day and decided not give her any more benadryl to see if more would appear or if it would decide to go away.

Riley had a playdate with her friend Kiah so I knew that Kiah's mom, the nurse at our school, would be over to hang out.  I called and told her about Julia and said that I didn't want to cancel the playdate and if she was still comfortable coming over, we'd love to have them over.  Plus it allowed me to have more time to watch Julia to see what would happen as I was thinking that she probably needed to go get looked at.  Jo said that they'd still come over and hang out and that she'd look her over as well.

I called Julia's pediatrician and explained what was happening.  I was told that they could look at her and possibly offer her something else, but that they do not do epinephrine shots in the office.  That I'd have to go to the ER for that.

The playdate was a lot of fun.  The kids loved the Taj Mahal and legos and had a fun snack of bananas, apples and graham crackers.  Julia loved seeing baby Bishop who is only 7 months old.  One of the best behaved babies ever.  She was very aware of him and gave him toys and made sure his brother Deacon didn't take them.  And if he did, she would correct him with "That is the baby's!!"  and quickly give it back to Bishop.

Jo said that she would take her to the ER.  That she agreed that she did need something to be done and that hopefully they could give her an epinephrine shot.  We watched together as Julia's pink/red spots grew larger, spread more and started to appear everywhere and increase in number.

As soon as they left to go home, I gathered up Julia and Riley to head to Children's Hospital in Plano.  Julia took a 15-20 minute nap in the car and it was the only nap she had all day.  We arrived to find the waiting room packed.  Then we were told that there was a 3-4 hour wait.  Ugh.  Not what I really wanted to hear, but I did want to make sure she was looked at so that she could have a chance to get better.

We signed in and she was looked at by the triage nurses before sitting in the waiting room with hacking, coughing and snotty-nosed children.  We tried to find a spot where kids wouldn't be sitting next to us spreading more fun to our family.  Though I realize that we were breathing the same air so what else do you do.

The girls were incredible.  Riley played on her iPod and Julia mostly sat on my lap and talked about all the babies she saw in the room.  Two hours into our stay, my parents picked up Riley and I hung out with Julia.  Jeremy brought us some Chick Fila around 6pm - 3 hours into our stay.  We ate dinner together (did I mention it was our ninth wedding anniversary today?  Very romantic eating in a hospital waiting room - ;)) and then Julia's name was called.

We went to room 23 and explained why we were there in more detail.  The nurse said "And her condition hasn't changed since you got here?  No new hives, right?"  I said "Um - yes there are new hives.  These weren't here when we got here, the hives on her face are new and she continues to get more."  The nurse went her way and said the dr. would be with us soon.

The doctor came in and looked at Julia.  I took off her clothes other than her Dora Panties so she could see the full result of the spots.  And here is the conversation to the best of my memory:

Dr: Ok.  I see.  Can I feel your tummy?  How long has she had them?

Me:  Since yesterday morning. They are not responding to benadryl and she had the same thing earlier this year when she had a reaction to penicillin.  Broke out in hives everywhere. She finally got an epinephrine shot and it was the only thing that helped her get better.

Dr: An epinephrine shot is a very strong bullet.  I don't think she'll be needing one of those this time.  Her spots don't appear to be an allergic reaction.  It looks like it is a virus called Erythema Multiforme.

Me:  That was what she was diagnosed with last time and I ended up bringing her here because we stayed on benadryl and she continued to get spots.

Dr: Well, these are not hives.  They have a bull's eye look and are on her sides, groin and leg area.  Her feet and hands are swollen which is common with Erythema Multiforme.  Hives do not look like this.

Me:  That's what we were told last time, but these are hives.  And this is exactly what it looked like last time.  And the only thing that helped was the Epinephrine shot.

Dr: I'm not comfortable with giving her an Epinephrine Shot today.  It's like a very strong bullet.  Small dose that acts fast and makes her heart race.  And she does not appear to have hives.  This is a virus and the only thing you can do is wait a virus out.  She simply needs to have lots of liquids, some benadryl and tylenol to keep her comfortable.

Me:  So you won't give her a shot?

Dr: I am not comfortable giving her a shot today.

Me: She's had this before and I ended up having to come back to the ER for the shot so she could get better.

Dr: Well, it will possibly get worse.  What I mean is that the virus could still spread for a while and she'll continue to get more spots.  But it has to work itself out.  I realize it is the holiday season and that you waited a long time today, but you can always come back to see us.  We are open 24 hours a day.

Me: So no shot?

Dr: I don't feel comfortable giving her one today.

Jeremy: My wife likes to fix problems and she sees Julia's spots and just wants to have them fixed now.  Which is why she came.  But if it's a virus, we will just have to wait it out.

Me: Well, yeah.  Because they are hives and the shot was what made the difference.

Dr: I will get your discharge paperwork.

At this point, I am livid.  I'm mad that noone is listening to me and that I feel like the only person in the room who actually knows what my daughter needs and noone will listen.

They bring the discharge papers that indicate that she just needs benadryl and tylenol.  Ugh... did someone not hear that we've done that and it isn't working???!!!!

So I signed them totally frustrated and told Jeremy that I would not be surprised to be coming back again tomorrow or sometime sooner or later. On to watching Julia's spots spread and wishing I had stood up for her more.  Or that Jeremy had backed me so I wasn't alone and helped insist she get a shot.  Or that I had asked to speak with someone else.  Or that I had fought more for what she needed.

Instead we are home and we simply wasted over four hours and spent over $100 just to find out that she has a virus that can't be treated.  Ridiculous. So frustrating.  Here's to seeing what tomorrow brings...


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Fun

The girls woke up around 7:30 - 8:00am.  We started our day with breakfast in the Taj Mahal.  They loved laying on pillows and eating their food while we sat and chatted.  I asked if they wanted to play in the snow, but neither one was interested in getting cold so we played inside until Riley asked to go out.  Julia didn't want to go, but as soon as Riley mentioned it, she was ok with it.

Until we went outside that is.  It was freezing for Texas.  Riley immediately started with snow angels and running around.  Julia walked to the edge of the patio and said "It too cold.  I no play in the snow.  I want to go inside."  I was able to coax her to come into the snow and to touch it, but she had no interest in being outside in it at all.  So we went inside and got all warm.

Julia started crying and said that Riley pushed her so I looked at her wrist where she said she was pushed and it was all red.  Didn't think much of it and assumed it was from where Riley pushed and she bumped into something.  Then I noticed her feet had red splotches and her knees had red bumps all over.

Poor Julia.  She has giant hives again.  I have no idea where she got them or why.  Allergic to the cold?  The peaches she ate this morning?  Other than those two factors, nothing has changed.  I checked over her entire body and she had large patches of big hives under her arms.  So I called my mom to see if I should take her to the ER and she suggested benadryl first to see if I could get it to come down.  Which is what I would do for myself if I had a reaction.  Expected Julia to get very sleepy.

The hives stopped spreading but didn't go away.  They are just faint outlines compared to the darker red spots they had been.  Just glad they stopped spreading.  Julia ended up not taking a nap at all today.  She wasn't hyper from it, but we played non-stop and then went to the store to get food since we hadn't gone in over a week and were out of everything.

After dinner, I looked at her arms and noticed that she was getting more hives again.  Lots of them on her arms, back, and legs.  So we gave her benadryl one more time.  If they are not gone or are spreading in the morning, I will take her to the ER.

The girls were incredibly precious and so very well behaved today (minus the one push).  They played so nicely.  At one point, Julia was coloring and Riley was using her new stamp set.  I was able to do four loads of laundry and actually put them all away.

Riley said it was really cold outside as we got in from getting groceries.  She carried a bag to help put them inside and turned to go get more.  I told her that she could stay inside so she didn't get cold.  She tells me "Mom, I want to do caring for you.  I want to help you get the groceries in so you don't have to do it by yourself."  Then she even went to help get our trash cans up - though they hadn't come to get the trash yet.  She said she loves to help and followed up by helping put all the groceries away and put them in the right places.  What an amazing girl she is.

Julia sacked out on the way home from Walmart at 5:30pm and had a thirty minute nap.  Then ate dinner and was being so cute and funny.  I'll be sleeping in her room tonight so I can be close by her.  Praying the hives are gone and that she is healthy and happy in the morning.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12 Dates of Christmas

I kept a secret from Jeremy.  So very hard for me to do and I did it for almost four months.  Found another gift idea on Pinterest called the 12 Dates for Christmas.  You save up gift cards, cash, groupons, etc...  and then you put them in envelopes that are labeled for each month.  So I've been stashing away cash and gift cards for each month.  Kept buying them with our Walmart bill so he wouldn't get suspicious.

Then bought a basket at Pottery Barn to present it in.  The basket will then be used in our armoire where we were hoping to get one.  So I got another matching basket at PB so that we can each have one to use to put our things in it each day.

Jeremy was very much surprised as we planned to not get each other anything this year.  I realize it is also as much a gift for myself and was glad to know he hadn't gotten me anything this year as we didn't need to get each other anything.  However, I really do feel that time together is the most precious gift that we could have - being that we hardly talk and don't have downtime together like we should.  So one date night a month will definitely help.  Has been my New Year's Resolution the last two years and will be on my list again this year.  Only next year should be more doable with the help of some of the costs being covered already!

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Day

Julia had a fitful night of sleep.  I know because I was with her.  Bad coughs and just kept flipping and flopping.  Finally settled but woke up around 6am.  We watched Dora in our bedroom until Riley came bursting in - running as fast as she could.  "There are presents under the tree!!!  Come on!"

We all went downstairs.  The girls immediately started to open gifts.  We had them wait after they each opened two or three.  They opened their stockings and then we told them that we'd do a special breakfast upstairs in the playroom.  Got breakfast made and headed up.

Riley was like "Um... what is in the playroom? I see something in there!"  The girls were really quite speechless at what they saw.  Riley walked through the doorway of one house, through the tunnel, out the other doorway and circled around.  Julia followed and they kept running and going through it.  Not much was said, but they were smiling very big.

They loved sitting in the tunnel and eating breakfast.  Then we went downstairs to open more presents.  Riley was really sweet with Julia "Oh Jules - there's another one!  Oh I think you'll love it!"  And Julia kept asking "Is there one more?  I open another one!"  Riley opened more pencils and said "Wow.  This is the best Christmas Ever!!!!"

The girls got a variety of gifts.  At the end, I turned to Jeremy and said "Umm... don't we have one more gift?  Isn't there something we're forgetting?"  He turned to me and agreed and pretended to go looking for another gift.  He called Julia over and said that she had Riley's iPod now and that she had a new case for it.  Riley looked totally confused.  Jeremy asked her "So Julia now has your iPod.  What are you going to have?"  She shrugged and said "I guess I'll play on yours?"  She started to walk away and we couldn't tell if she was upset or not.  So I asked her to come back and see Daddy.

He handed her a brand new iPod with a new case.  It has a microphone (which she is excited about), a camera and can play games that wouldn't work on her old iPod.  It took some time for it to click with her that it was at iPod just for her.  And then she got really excited.

We played with the toys and things the rest of the day.  Girls had a blast.  Poppi, Grammy, Monica and Madi came over for a very short visit.  We gave Madi her gifts and they gave us some gifts too.  Was really nice to see them all.

There was a special weather surprise and we ended up with a White Christmas!!!  It started raining, sleeting and then snowing.  It was truly beautiful!  The girls liked watching it.  Once Julia went down for her nap, I took Riley outside and we played in the snow.  We were able to wear our rain boots which worked much better than baggies over shoes!  Riley loved throwing snowballs at me and making snow angels.  She had a huge smile on her face and rosy red cheeks!  Riley was excited to eat snow too.  :)

I took Julia outside later and she wasn't quite sure about the whole thing.  At first I started to bundle her up, but she started crying so I took it all off.  Then she asked to go outside so I got her ready again.  We walked out and all of a sudden she stopped where she was and froze.  I asked what she thought.  Julia said "I like it.  It very cold.  I want to go inside."  So we turned right around and went back inside.  Cold weather is not her thing - very much like her Grandma!

We ate dinner and then played more together as a family.  Was incredibly special.  Loved every moment.

Lego Tables

Jeremy and I love to create unique gifts and things that are different, but extremely awesome.  Jeremy found these Lego Friends Sets online and ordered a few for Riley. I found two or three little sets that were really cheap at Walmart to supplement the big ones.  However, we only have a smaller table for legos and it is built for duplo legos with bigger attachments.  The girls will probably always think of legos and remember that we used them whenever they had croupy coughs in the shower.  We have spent many hours in the bathroom sitting and building things while the steam helped them breathe.  I digress...

Pinterest is so amazing and I happened upon a friend's post where she had tagged a website to building your own lego tables.  You purchase a Lack Table from Ikea ($7.99), baseboards from the Lego store ($4.99 for a 10" by 10" - so each table uses four of them) and some clear nail glue.  I showed them to Jeremy and told him that it would be such an awesome thing for the girls to be able to build sets and for Julia to have lots of lego time on the tables rather than having legos on the floor and all over the place.

I went to Ikea and bought for cream/off-white tables. Then we were looking online at Amazon for baseboards, but they sell them for $10.56 a piece.  So I called the Lego store at Stonebriar to find that they are only $4.99 each there.  Jeremy drove up to the store and bought enough for four tables.

He set up the tables one night and put together the baseboards the next night.  Lined each one up with a corner edge about inch out from the corner.  Made sure that every little "lego" word was facing the right way.

The girls have already played on them quite a bit today and they are going to be amazing to play on!!

Operation Taj Mahal

Jeremy and I were brainstorming about fun gifts to get the girls this year.  We always like to get them things that can function in many ways and can use their imaginations.  Somehow we got to talking about playhouses.  Then pvc pipes came up.  Soon we were on pinterest looking at pvc playhouses and finding designs.  Then Jeremy had drawn up a design he wanted to do with two playhouses connected by a tunnel.  I said I would sew the material for it. And that's how it began.

Turned into quite the project!  We had two Lowe's gift cards that totaled $100.  We've had them for a year now and hadn't used them so we thought it'd be the perfect time to put them to use.  We spent $12 out of pocket on the pvc pipes.  Awesome.

My dad and Jeremy spent some time on the weekend putting one of the houses together and checking their measurements after they had sawed the pieces to the right lengths.  The houses are a 4 foot square and 5 feet tall.  The tunnel is 3 feet long and two feet tall.  We knew it would take up a lot of space in the playroom, but it's totally worth it.  After all, they spent about two years playing in a cardboard box up there.

We weren't sure what kind of fabric to use.  Most fabric is 45" wide and we needed it to be about 55" after adding length for trim and the extra inches added from the pvc pipes.  Jeremy mentioned building them at work and one of his coworkers said that they had some fabric in their barn from when their husband worked at a high end upholstery company that made custom outdoor patio furniture.  The fabric is stain resistant as well as water resistant and is of high quality.   She gave Jeremy several samples and asked us to figure out which ones would work.

We liked a few of them, but we needed at least 20 yards of fabric to make the entire thing plus some remnants.  She had 8 yards of a black and cream stripe.  Really nice.  And she had 85 or 83 yards of this solid gold fabric.  And it is gold.  Like gold lame'.

The crazy part about the fabric we were about to find out after we chose these two pieces based off how much fabric we needed and what she had.  Each yard of the striped fabric sold for $180 a yard.  At 8 yards, that was $1440.  The gold fabric sold for $100 a yard.  And there was $8500 of the gold.  So when we began we had almost $10,000 in fabric.

Gold wasn't really what I had in mind.  I was really going for a Restoration hardware feel - subtle, light, striped mixed with tweed mixed with a small pattern.  Something delicate, but not translucent.  Something that said "girly" with a little bit of fun.

My mom and I got to work on making the playhouses.  We had no pattern and just the dimensions so we had to figure out how to start it, how we wanted to sew it and how to add a roof, doorway, curtains on the front and panels on the sides.  The pieces were 6' long and 55" wide.  I brought my sewing machine to her house and set it up on a folding table while she worked on hers in the same room.  It was hilarious how long the seams were.  And how long it took to get one panel done.  We often giggled or laughed out loud at how long it was taking, how gold the fabric was (were we seriously going to put this in our house??!!!), and how much fabric we had to take with us every time we went to measure it on the frame.

The first Saturday took several hours.  We got one house finished and part of the second.  The second Saturday, we completed everything.

We'd measure, pin, step back and look at how it looked on the frame.  We were constantly thinking or saying "Wow.  That is a lot of gold."

On Christmas Eve, everything was packed up in my parents' car.  I called once Riley was down, went in with Jules and Jeremy met them downstairs so that they could set it all up.  I thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed the playroom and told the girls that we had to get the playroom ready as Santa would be bringing more toys.  They didn't really care and just played around me.

The houses went together really quickly.  Jeremy got LED lights and strung them on the inside.  Looks awesome when you are in there!  I had to finish one end of the tunnel so I sewed it and we attached it.  Fixed a few things here and there and added the pillows.  Voila!  Our Taj Mahal is finished!

I still can't believe we have something as gaudy and tacky as these huge monstrosities in our playroom.  But it is one of the coolest things that they kids will ever play with and they will have so much fun building memories inside of them!!


Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve this year was very special.  The girls and I went to church at the noon service while Jeremy was at work.  He ended up working late so we went on over to my parents house after Julia's nap ended around 3:45pm.  Jeremy met us there soon after.

We had the most delicious shishkabobs (sp?!) with rice and veggies/chicken.  Loved it.  Yum!!

Riley could not wait to open the presents!!!  As soon as Jeremy walked in the door, she asked if she could open them now.  So we told her to give him a few minutes to rest before we got into all of it.  She went over to Grandma and Grandma helped her set the timer on the microwave - for three minutes.

Once the timer went off, it was on.  The girls went upstairs as there were a few gifts that weren't wrapped that we needed to bring out.  They counted to ten and danced in a circle before coming down.

They each found their new vespa for their dolls.  Too cute.  Then started to open gifts.  Riley was sooo excited about the first package she opened - paper, pencils and erasers.  She called out "This is the best Christmas EVER!!!"  Love how everything makes her incredibly satisfied.  Julia was able to open her own presents this year and loved every second of it.

Riley got a new American Girl You Doll so now she has a charm necklace as well as access to their online games.  And it was the doll she had circled from the catalog.  Big hit!  Julia got a doll that looks the AG dolls and she loved it as well.  There were several doll items tonight from both my parents, Uncle Jon and Aunt Allison and us.

Riley got the puppy bed, bowl and toy from AG and Julia got a doll bed with bedding.  The girls both got matching chairs for their dolls that attach to the table top and have silverware, cup and plate/bowl.  Now the dolls can sit next to them at the table while they are eating.  They love it.  They have had their doll next to them at every meal.

Jon and Allison found fake makeup for Julia.  So thankful because she is constantly trying to use mine or gets into it and has stuff all over her.  Also got her a cute unicorn animal.  They got Riley this really cute horse barn with four horses in it.

My parents found this awesome set where there are tons of things to do with your doll - bed, closet, bath, high chair, shelves.  All in one.  The girls opened it together and played with it while we were there before dinner.

All day Julia walked around the house singing songs she had heard.  Deck the Halls is definitely her favorite with all the "ya ya ya ya ya's" instead of "Fa la la's."  She also sang "Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Kwanzaa..." repeatedly.  Cracked me up.

We took the girls home and got them settled down quite quickly.  We had a mission to accomplish and we needed them asleep for it to work.  So thankful they fell asleep fast.  I put Riley down and then took over for Jeremy to put down Jules so he could start on the mission first.  Julia looked at me and said "Daddy leave now.  You stay.  Do you see my new doll?  Santa coming!!  I got lots of things.  I have lots of stuff."

Buddy The Elf... What's your favorite color?

I have to say that this was the best Christmas ever.  It was truly spectacular, heart warming and special in so many ways.

The girls were so excited about their Elf, Buddy (Elf on the Shelf).  Since the Sunday after Thanksgiving, he has been hiding and surprising the girls in various places around the house.  He started out in the downstairs bathroom and wrote a message on the mirror with toothpaste that said "Hi Madi, Riley and Julia!"  The girls loved it when he was found riding a horse on top of the armoire, hanging upside down from the fixture in the dining room and on top of anything and everything around the house.

At one point, he was found wrapped in a toilet roll with toilet paper everywhere in our bathroom.  I went to give Riley a shower and Julia pulled some toilet paper which caused Buddy to fall to the ground.  She started playing with him and Riley was freaking out and laughing so very hard.  There is a rule that the elves are not to be touched or else their magic goes away.  The two of us ended up laughing so hard.  Thankfully, Santa forgave her for touching him and all was fine.  Last year he fell off the fridge because he was too close to the edge so I had to ask if it was ok if I picked him up.  Again, Santa was very gracious.

Last night was Buddy's final night with us in 2012.  The girls said goodbye to him and thanked him for coming to visit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Broken

As a mom and a teacher, my heart is completely broken for the families and friends affected by a tragedy that occurred last Friday when a gunman broke into a school in Newtown, CT, and killed 20 children and six staff members.  Totally senseless and unfathomable.  And incredibly heart breaking.

I've thought of it often as I have taught my kids in school.  As I've watched them learn and smile and sing and play.  And wondered where we would go and what I would do if something were to happen.  I find myself very aware of our surroundings and being more on guard than I ever have been.

Jeremy and I had a talk with Riley and Madi about what happened.  We had a call from the school asking kids and staff to wear green and white to support the elementary school where this happened.  Knowing that they wouldn't need all the information, we gave them what we thought were the key points of what happened and left out as much detail as possible.  Didn't want the kids at school to be the ones to share the information they knew with them especially if they hadn't heard anything at all before going to school.

Jeremy focused on making sure Riley knew that it was a sad day for them, but that the children were with Jesus in heaven - safe, secure, loved and happy.  That Jesus was holding them and they were safe.

We let Riley ask questions if she wanted to.  She asked how the guy got in the school.  Good question as she knows our school procedures and how everyone needs to sign in and that there are locked doors.  We have tried to limit ourselves to media coverage ourselves and never watch the news on tv anyway so our info was somewhat limited as well.  We simply said that we weren't sure how he got in, that our school has plans in place to keep her safe and that this kind of thing is very rare.  That it doesn't have to happen here just because it happened there.

I hate that we have to have these kinds of discussions with our kids.  I hate that evil is so prevalent and that we even have to think about these situations.

Today after school we held a staff meeting to discuss and get firm our lockdown procedure. One of the saddest and longest meetings we have had all year.

Tomorrow will be tough.  The students will have a lockdown drill in the morning and their Christmas parties in the afternoon.  I am praying that the students do not get scared or upset during or after the lockdown; that as teachers, we can have the wisdom to stay calm as well and to say what is needed, but nothing more; that we can truly keep our children safe and be heroes for them if the time ever came.

After the meeting, I cleaned out both closet floors.  Was not a big deal.  Just had to rearrange some things to make space for such an emergency or drill.  I blocked out how many people could fit inside of each closet to make sure that there was space for an entire class of 25 plus. I made sure that any instruments would not be able to be played or heard if students were standing next or near to them.  During the drill tomorrow, if I have students, we now have a more secure place than compared to hiding under tables out in the open.

Though I have to say this is not something I ever thought I'd be doing to prepare for my school day.  Cleaning closets out to hide students in was not something I enjoyed and made me so angry and sad for what happened in CT.  And honestly, even a little fearful of what could happen here.

I can only pray that I would be as self-sacrificing and selfless and others-centered as many of the teachers in CT.  That I would place my kids first and save them.  I truly believe I would.  Though I pray none of us ever have to go through it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spelling Bee

Madi won her school spelling bee today!!  It was fun to watch her spell the words as you could see her confidence growing with each one she got right.  So very proud of her and excited to see how she does in the regionals!!

What was I thinking?!

Attempted to teach three piano students after a full day of teaching while juggling three girls, helping with dinner and prepping them for Julia's performance tonight.  What was I thinking!?

Normally it works out if it is just Madi and Riley.  They don't always behave great, but they are old enough to listen and are getting better about being respectful of the time when I am teaching.  Julia just wants to hang out with me and play and doesn't really care what I need to do.  She just wants me.

Julia her program tonight so I picked her up from daycare so that I could get her some dinner and let her hang out at home rather than spending loads of time at school followed by a program.  Good idea, but tried to juggle too much.  And hanging out while I taught lessons was not on Julia's list of things she wanted to do.

Through the hour and a half that I taught, Julia emptied a button container and decided to throw the buttons all over the living room.  Spent about five minutes playing with them quietly and the rest of the time climbing on things and tossing buttons in the air.

Madi was extremely sweet and made her mac and cheese and a hot dog.  Got her plate ready.  She was truly amazingly helpful and offered to help do it.  Thanked her big time and truly appreciated her thoughtfulness.

Julia didn't want to eat what Madi made.  And Madi did an awesome job.  So instead she snuck into the kitchen and pulled a chair over to the counter where I had some cookies that a student had made for me in a baggie.  She opened them and helped herself to them.  And decided dinner wasn't for her.

She followed this with sitting in a chair next to me during the lessons.  Being melodramatic and trying to pull me and reluctantly sitting on my lap so she could press the piano keys too.

Needless to say the lessons for two students went well.  But one lesson that all of this happened during did not.  Note to self:  stop overachieving and realize some things just don't work.

USA Puzzle

We have a puzzle of the United States.  Each state (other than DE, MD, VT, NH, MA, RI, CT) has its own piece and some are quite small.  Julia has come to love it.  She asks us to do it with her all the time.  So we do, but we put the states in the wrong spots on purpose just so we can hear her say "Dat not where dat goes!  It go here!" and then we watch her correctly place it in the right area.

Has been amazing to watch her with the puzzle because she can now do the entire thing herself.  Several times in a row and puts them in the correct spot the first time. Every time.  Totally amazing.

At least, we think so.  Our amazing puzzle girl!

Julia's First Christmas Program

Tonight Julia's school put on their annual Christmas program.  Super cute.  It was hilarious watching some of the kids as they put on their own special show with no thought to what they were supposed to be doing.  After all, they are 2-4 years of age and all have minds of their own.

Julia was dressed in an adorable shirt made from her handprints for reindeer antlers and a little reindeer face with her name at the bottom.  Ms. Shaun did such a great job on them!!  Then they had 'jingle bells' made from red handkerchiefs with two jingle bells tied around them.

Her class walked out onto the stage of the church and she was very happy go lucky.  Totally herself.  Not scared at all.  She finally saw us and just smiled.  She was very happy to wave her jingle bell handkerchief and hit herself in the face a few times :)

Julia didn't really sing very much, but she has sung the songs to me a few times.  They were:  Jingle Bells and 1 little, 2 little, 3 little reindeer.... pulling Santa's sleigh (to the tune of "1 little 2 little 3 little Indians").


Friday, December 14, 2012

Annual Christmas Shopping Trip

Every year since I can remember, my dad and I have always had a special Christmas shopping trip for my mom. I remember fighting the cold, the snow, parking far away from the mall and walking through the cold and the snow to get inside to the warmth of the mall.  I remember years where we would sit in tons of traffic after shopping and it taking forever to just get out of the parking lot.

One year I thought it'd be awesome to get my mom these footie pjs.  I'm sure it's because they were pink.  But honestly, it probably had something to do with them having a few buttons on the back that when unbuttoned, allowed a flap of fabric to hang down and your bare bottom to show.  heehee (and yes, my dad did go along with my idea and bought them!)

Then there was the year where we went to Dress Barn and he literally bought every outfit possible from the store.  The sad news is that most of the outfits were taken back.  And seeing the pictures from the 90's fashion looks, I'd say it was probably a good idea.  Not just because of what my Mom wore, but mainly because the 90's had seriously hideous fashion.

The past two years Riley has come along with us and joined our annual tradition.  It has been something that has been so special to share with my dad.  And it has been fun to have her along as well.  She's a good little shopper with lots of ideas.

This year we picked my dad up at their house and he asked Riley what she thought we should get Grandma.  He said that she just needed a few things.  Riley disagreed and said "But Grandma said to buy her a lot of things!" Which is true - those were her parting words when we left.

Riley thought that some books for herself would make a terrific gift.  So we went to Stonebriar and found a few items that my mom had wanted.  Very bummed that a few things were sold out, but we did great anyway.  Riley was such a great sport and never complained.  She rode in the stroller some of the time and just enjoyed the night.

We went to Barnes and Noble to look at some books.  She had just the book in mind that she was looking for.  Little Bear.  So Grandpa told Riley that she could do one book for our house and one book for their house.  Then she found two for our house and two for their house.  Finally she found three books for their house and two for our house.  Being that they were less than $5 each, Grandpa told her that was plenty and that five books was plenty.  She promised not to tell Grandma about her special gifts.

As we looked at more stores, Riley began to read her books.  She read through the first one, the next one and repeated it again.  It is such a blessing to be able to watch her read.  And to see her loving it so much.

We ended our trip and headed out into the 'chilly' Texas weather.  Ok, not by MI standards, but it was a little windy.  We stopped by to drop of Grandpa and went inside so Riley could show Grandma her new books.  She sat on the couch next to my mom and read her the first book.  Then Grandma read the second book with some help from Riley.

Riley told her about how they got her five books: two for her house and three for Grandma's house.  And how three of the books were in the car.  And how at least she doesn't know which ones she is getting.  Just that Grandma is getting books for Christmas.  Oh, and wait a minute.  I remember now!!  Little Bear!! hahahaha

So Grandma knows she is getting books and they are about little bear.  Maybe.  Riley never did tell her if she was kidding about that or not!  ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It

"It" is a popular word.  Riley is quickly finding this out.  She has been reading very, very well at school.  She loves it.  And enjoys it.  Two important things that we hope she'll continue to think about reading.

There are a lot of sight words they are working on.  My dad read a book with her.  She read to him as well.   In the book, the word "it" was used often.

Riley:  Hey!  The word it must be very popular.

Dad: It is a popular word. (and he continues to say a few more sentences using the word it)

Riley:  You said "it" a lot!!

Dad:  It .... (and says another sentence with it in it)

Riley:  You said it again!!

It is a wonderful thing to watch a beginner reader learn and find excitement in the little things!

Multi-tasking

My parents watched the girls last Saturday night so that we could go to my work party.  Riley informed my dad that she can do two things at once.

So she went in the bathroom, pulled everything down and sat on the potty.  Then said "Can you hand me my toothbrush?"

He was like "What?  You're going to brush your teeth there?"

She goes "I can do it."

He said "Do they let you do it?"

She says back "No, but I can!"

He said something like "Well just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it."

Silly multi-tasker.  Thankful he didn't let her!

12.12.12

The last time for many years to have a month/date/year be exactly the same.  Was a pretty normal day for the most part here at the Grant house.

Our girls have been incredibly healthy this year which has been a total blessing.  What a different story from last school year when they were sick more than they were healthy.  I took off my first day of work today after Julia had run a temp of over 100 the last three nights.  We gave her tylenol/advil the last two days and sent her to daycare as I had my choir concert/rehearsals/school assembly and needed to be at work.

However, today was the right day to take off.  She was up almost all night.  Very fidgety.  I know this because I was with her all night and hardly slept myself.  She had a fever again and a hacking cough.  So I snuggled with her and watched more hours tv than I have seen of Jer and my tv shows in the entire month of November and October.  Seriously.  Jeremy and I have yet to watch one of our shows in over two months.  The girls watch Boz, Dora, Barney (ugh) - about a show a day.  Sometimes less, sometimes more.  One of these days life will slow down again and we'll have time to actually watch a 22 minute television show that does not involve cartoons, repetition, or purple dinosaurs.

Julia took over two hours to get to nap.  She was coughing so badly and fighting sleep.  Once asleep, she was restless and had a hard time.  She woke up and immediately said "I need to go nap on the couch."  So we laid back down on the couch and watched more tv.  Was a very chill day.  Hoping she can get some good sleep tonight.  If not, I'll be home again with her tomorrow.  Which I won't complain about because time with our baby is so special.

What we think about as we are about to go to sleep

Riley:  Mom, I'm scared.

This is after we have laughed and laughed and read stories together.  And talked about how to skip backwards and then tried it together.  Then talked about how much we love each other.  And how the school day went and what certain kids did that was funny.  And what others did that they shouldn't have like how two kids raced to see how fast they could read the books and almost ripped the pages in all of them.  Then Riley demonstrated how she turns the pages very slowly.  And how she showed "self-determination" (her word of the past few weeks that she likes to talk about doing) in gym today.  Love that her teacher does such a fabulous job of explaining large words in ways the kids can understand and that Riley is applying that to many areas.  I digress.

Me: Why are you scared?

Riley:  I'm thinking about how when I am old and I die, that I'll go to heaven.  And I'll be new.  And I don't know what that will be like.

Me:  Well, I know that you'll be with Jesus.  And you'll be happy to be with him.  That you'll be there forever.  And that Daddy and I will be with you too.

Riley:  Why will you be there?  That would be good.

Me: Anyone who believes in Jesus and asks him to come into their heart, goes to heaven when they die.  And they live with him forever there.

Riley: Oh ok.  But I'm still scared.

Me:  What part of it scares you?

Riley:  I just.  I don't know.  I'll be a different person and that will.  I just don't know what that will be like.

Me:  Well, just know that it will be good.  And that you will be with other people who love Jesus too.  And Jesus will be there.  So it will be fabulous.

A while passes...

Riley:  I know a present we could give Jesus that would be magic.

Me:  What would that be?

Riley (whispering into my ear): Our love.

Me:  oooh.  That is a good present.

Riley:  Because it is something that he can't see.  And we can't see.  But it would be really great.  And very special.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Crumpled

Riley came to me around bedtime tonight and showed me a piece of paper that was very crumpled and folded everywhere.  She had drawn a picture of the pjs she had really wanted and which turned out to be part of her Halloween costume this year.  They were colored pink and she had drawn bones onto the sleeves and legs.

Riley: Mom, you crumpled my feelings.

Me:  What did I do?  Did I crumple that paper?  I don't remember that paper.  Can you explain to me what happened?

Riley:  I wanted tape one day and you said you'd get me some, but you didn't get it when I wanted it.  So I crumpled up the paper because you crumpled my feelings. (tears up)

Me:  Riley, I don't remember that day, but I am very sorry that I hurt your feelings and I am sorry that I made you feel so sad.

Riley: You only made me sad one time, Mom.  You've only crumpled my feelings one time and it was this day when I drew this.

Christmas

I love how every night before we put Julia to bed, she walks out of her room for a final bathroom break and looks at the tree below and says "Hello Christmas!"

Hello Christmas indeed.  It is a beautiful thing.

She also loves to look at the tree and say "It so bootiful!"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Decorating

Every year my parents ask us to bring the girls over to help decorate their trees.  They have a 3' one by the stairway and a taller one in their living room.  So I brought the girls over this morning when Jeremy was at work.  They had so much fun choosing which ornaments went where.  Julia decided where to set up the houses that glow (on magazines on the floor next to the chair).  Riley was very into the ornaments and arranging them.

Then we went upstairs to play and spent a lot of time in the play kitchen and house and little people.  Riley serenaded us with bird calls on the large wooden recorder (she blew and we tapped our hand back and forth quickly on the end of it).  She thought it was hilarious.

This afternoon was very low-key.  Jeremy came home and hung out with Riley.  I put Julia down for a nap and took one with her.  She took almost an hour to get to sleep.  Kept moving around, had to go potty, talked and talked and talked.  Finally slept for a few hours which was great.  Happy girl!!

After dinner, we all watched Curious George on the couch together.  23 minutes of precious time with them.  We snuggled under the nap blanket and Jeremy and I smiled at each other often; love these girls!!!  Then we played ball and other things upstairs in the playroom for a while.  The girls had so much fun.  Julia kept wanting to leave with her purse with me and go to the end of the hallway while calling out "Bye!  See you Later!  We go to work!"  We'd stay at 'work' for a minute or two and then return to the playroom.

I had Riley tonight while Jeremy put Julia to sleep (he must have fallen asleep with her as he hasn't come down yet).  Riley was so sweet and we did some of her homework assignments.  Every month we have a calendar of activities to choose from and we have to do three activities from each row.  Some of the ones we did tonight included:

Q:  Which famous person do you want to meet and what would you say to them?
Riley:  Grandma... (so I explained some famous people and talked about how they are often and most likely people you don't know and then she came up with the following person on her own) Oh!  Barbie.  I would say to her "Hello Barbie.  I've never met you before!"

Q: How many minutes do you think it will take you to get yourself dressed?  Then have your mom or dad time you.
Riley:  Two hours!!  I mean two minutes.

So we set the timer on my phone as soon as she had her clothes ready.  It was hilarious watching her work as fast as she could to get her clothes on.  She had trouble getting her legs into the pant legs as they were moving so fast and she was giggling so hard.  She forgot that she had taken her panties off and had to get new ones out of the drawer to put on.  Then she forgot where her shirt was and got it out of the drawer.  We were all giggling hard.  And yet she managed to get dressed in one minute and twelve seconds!


Thanksgiving 2012

So much to be thankful for: a great husband, amazing little girls, a warm home, two jobs that give us the opportunity to provide for our family, an awesome church, great friends, great family, a God who loves us more than we could ever know and so much more.  Truly so much to be thankful for.

We spent the afternoon of Thanksgiving at Kathryn and Ranny's house.  It was their first time to host Thanksgiving dinner at their new home and the food was incredible.  The girls were excited to see Tripp and play with him.  They had also missed Madi so they couldn't wait to play with her as well.  Monica and Madi left on Tuesday to go to Kathryn's to spend time with them and mostly to try to help Monica get some things done that she wasn't able to get done at our house.  Or at least that was the plan.

Ranny scared Julia by being a crying monster and she wouldn't go near him the rest of the time we were there.  She was quite clingy, but relaxed once she was able to go outside.  They have the most amazing backyard - super huge and so long.  So the kids played outside and I spent time out there with them running and playing with Julia while watching the others.  They liked to hold Tripp's play guns and shoot them and handcuff each other.  They took turns putting each other in the jail - metal fence wire that was in a circle.  The girls thought it was hilarious.

I went inside and a few minutes later, Riley came in crying and saying that her face hurt.  She had attempted to arrest Tripp and he chose to push his fake sword into her cheek.  Thank God it wasn't an inch or two higher or it would have been in her eye.  It was bleeding though not heavily.  Cut open and we got ice on it.

While she sat on the counter in the bathroom and I wet a towel to press gently on her face, Ranny brought Tripp in and gave Riley the choice of which consequence Tripp should have:
1 - stand in the corner facing the wall for 15 minutes
2 - spankings
3 - apologize

Riley asked that he apologize to her and she said that she forgave him.  Later in the car, she told us that she didn't want to choose any of the other two mean things to do to him because she didn't want to hurt him back.  Love her gracious and kind heart.  And so thankful she didn't seek revenge on him.  It was nice to see that they were able to play more and that she truly had moved on.  We put Neosporin and a bandaid on her face as well as knee where she had scraped it.  It is looking much better today though she does have some bruising under the eye and will likely have a slightly black eye for a little while.

After being at their house, we went to see Gaylan and Beverly's new place up the road.  We got to take the girls on some rides in the golf cart which they absolutely loved.  Their giggles and smiles were priceless.

Then we drove out to see Mamaw and spend some time with her.  We had been hoping to have a serious talk with Monica while we were at Gaylan's or Kathryn's, but the time never came up and we needed to make sure we talked with her before they dropped Madi off on Sunday.  Wasn't the type of conversation you want to have on a major holiday, but was much needed.  Basically, we told Monica that she needed to stay with Kathryn or her parents as she would get more accomplished out there than she would at our house due to having access to vehicles and time and more likely that she could get things moving faster so that she could get into an apartment with Madi sooner rather than later.  To keep things consistent for Madi, we'll continue to have her with us for the time being.  Not sure how long that will be.  Possibly a month or three or whatever.  So Monica will drop Madi off on Sunday and then go back to live with them until she can afford to get her own place.

She has to go to the DMV on Monday to get a new driver's license.  Her license is more than two years expired so she has to start the entire procedure all over with test(s) and sitting at the DMV.  From there, hopefully she can borrow a car and then get a part-time job before being able to get a job in a hospital as a nurse's aide or whatever other positions she qualifies for.  She also has to send away for documents from the Philippines but doesn't want to spend all the money Dr. Ted has given her as she has none coming in.  So she is waiting on that and that postpones the opportunity she has to take the NCLEX and get a job as a nurse.  It was a stressful week and I'm hoping that she is able to get done what she needs to get done so that she can move forward.  Definitely a lot to do.

We drove home and Julia fell asleep in the car.  They were both starving so we gave them some Eggos and played in the playroom a little bit last night.  Was super fun.  They were so sweet and precious.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

To Use Down the Road...

Came across this article on Pinterest tonight... and don't want to lose the information.  Such great ideas that I could even use with our kids now.  Why wait until later?!


It’s easy for us to look back on our high school and college days, and only remember the late night fun, friendships, sporting events, and parties.  Even though those things were a part of those years, there is much more that happens during that time.  The years between, say….17 and 20…are times of huge transition as  a young person adjusts to becoming an adult.  It can be a confusing and stressful time, and a time when young people are trying to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life.  Many times relationships are hard,  and they are trying to juggle a job and school work.  Sometimes finances are tight and that can be stressful as well.  These years are not as care free as we sometimes remember them to be.
As parents of children who are in this season of life, it can be a wonderful opportunity for us to look for ways to serve and encourage our children.  Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of it being a time when there is conflict and distance that begins to form in our relationship,  we took  advantage of the time and did all we could to pursue our children and become their biggest support system and cheerleaders?
Here are some ways that I try to serve my own children, who are both college aged.
  • I  sometimes surprise them by cleaning their room during a week that is particularly busy (exam week, a big paper is due, they are working a lot of hours).
  • On a particularly busy day, I will do their chores for them.
  • I make sure that their favorite snacks are available.
  • I will buy their favorite candy bar, and leave it on their pillow.
  • Even though they both do their own laundry, sometimes I will do it for them just to bless them.
  • I love grabbing them and taking them on a spontaneous lunch date.
  • Sometimes if they are studying, I bring them a snack
  • In the morning while my daughter is getting ready for work or class, I sometimes will bring her a hot cup of coffee or tea.
  • I make sure that they know that our  home is always open for them to bring their friends over.
  • I allow them to have “study parties” in our living room, and I serve their friends.
  • On Saturday mornings, I make sure the house is quiet so they can sleep in a little.
  • As they run in out of the house, in between work and classes, I make sure I tell them I love them, that they are precious, and ask how they are doing.
  • I ask how I can pray for them.
  • If they didn’t do well on a paper or test, sometimes I will take them out for coffee or ice cream just to encourage them.
  • I ask them how I can serve them to make a busy day more bearable.
  • I work hard to get to know their friends.
  • If they are hanging out in our home with a friend, sometimes I will suggest that we jump in the van,  I will treat them both to Starbucks!
  • I text them and tell them I miss them, love them, or am praying for them.
  • I try to treat them with respect. They are young adults.
  • I am working hard to learn how to relate to them in a new way, since they are getting older. I make sure I am reading good books for tips, or talking to women who have gone through this season already.
  • I try to arrange a weekly family time to make sure we are connecting as a family and keeping caught up with each other.
  • Sometimes on Saturday morning,  I make their favorite breakfast, since most mornings during the week they are grabbing breakfast on the run.
  • I Keep my eyes open for good devotional books or Bible studies that I can buy for them, to help encourage them to be in the Word.
  • If they are struggling in a particular area, I work hard at responding with grace and calmly taking the time to discuss how we can work together to grow in that area. I try to let them know I am on their side and want to help them. I try not to lecture or “punish”, but  to work together at coming up with a plan (and consequences).
  • I look for opportunities to talk with them and find out what is going on in their minds,  help them sort through their thoughts, and just generally be available.
If your child is in college, and doesn’t live at home:
  • Send a care package, or letter stuffed with a gift card, on a monthly basis.
  • When they come home for a break, clean their room and have a small gift waiting on their pillow. Make their favorite meal.  Have a “welcome home” sign hanging on the front door.
  • While they are home for a break, make sure you are as available as possible to them. This is precious time.  Make them WANT to come home again.
  • If it is their birthday, and they live too far for you to go visit, send them a “birthday party in a box” care package!
  • If they are close enough for a day trip or weekend trip, make the effort to go visit them monthly. Take them out for dinner.  Get to know their friends.
We have an amazing calling as parents.  It doesn’t end just because they become young adults!  There are so many fun ways we can bless our children and bond with them as they are growing up.  They are unique people who need us to encourage them and support them as they transition into the next season of life.  They are individuals.  They are not us!  We need to remember that and find ways to help them succeed in becoming the people they are meant to be!  It will make such a difference!

Three minus One equals Two

For the last year and a half, we've had the pleasure and joy of having a third child in our home.  Madison, our 11 year old niece, has lived with us since May of 2011.  Last night her mom, Monica, came into town from the Philippines to move back to America.  She finished her coursework to be a nurse and is now planning to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse here in the States.  It has been a very bittersweet time for all of us.  It means more change, flexibility and a new beginning for all of us in different ways.

Madi has taught us many things about being parents.  We haven't gotten everything right, but boy, have we worked our tails off.  More than most ever would or would even consider doing.  It hasn't been easy.  In fact, dealing with a tween when they are not your own child is not easy in anything except maybe when it comes to when they have computer or ipod time.  But even that has had its challenges.

Our time as 'foster parents' or 'surrogate parents' or whatever many others have called us, has now come to an end.  We can resume our roles as Aunt and Uncle and hand the reins back over to Monica.  This is a very good thing I think.  She needs her mom and they need to rebuild the relationship that has been growing distantly and can now grow in person.

Monica and Madi are staying in our house the next two weeks.  We sought a counselor and prayed and decided for ourselves what we were capable of doing and what is best for all.  It is very apparent - even after just one solid day here - that the counselor was correct in all she has said and that they must find a place of their own where their roles as Mom and Daughter can be reunited correctly.  And it's important that it happen as soon as possible rather than drawing it out.

We saw that today in many things.  Madi has been testing the boundaries of what she can get away with.  She has tried to undo many things that we had set up for boundaries for her and is seeing if her mom will change them while they are here.  She has begged to play WOW again (which was taken away months ago due to her obsession with it and her tendency to play the evil characters as well as wanting to name them demon names) and told her mom that she didn't know why she had it taken away.  Total nonsense as she knows exactly why.  She has asked her mom for many things at the store including slushies, coffee and drinks even though she knows they can't afford it right now.  She has given us multiple evil looks as well as evil looks at Riley as she is frustrated that we are informing Monica how she tends to behave when she is wanting something or how she is working her over.  She is frustrated that her tactics aren't working.

Monica had told her that they will have rules when they are in their own place.  Madi asked if they can start their rules now and was told they will happen when they move out.  Madi's not happy with this.

Of course she's ready to be in a home with her.  Of course she is ready to be the kid with her mom being the only adult she has to listen to.  It is not easy having the transition in our home and having her trying to get things her way.  I'm sure she was hoping that as soon as Monica came, things would be much easier on her and she could do whatever she wanted to do again.  And it's not what she expected.

It is a challenge to step back and not tell Monica how to handle things.  After all, she is an adult and can figure it out.  But we've been the ones raising Madi for the last year and a half and she's pushing and pushing and pushing her already.  To be expected, but was not anticipating her trying as much as she has been already.  Our goal is to step out of the picture and let them figure it out on their own.  To allow them to make their relationship what it should be and to allow our family to become what it should be.  So far I'm not stressed out and just keep telling myself to persevere and make the right choices until things are settled.

Praying that the two weeks they have here are sufficient and that they will be able to forge their own way together - just the two of them - soon. We're thankful to be able to help short term, but it will be so very important for our families to go back to normalcy.

It has been very strange only having to keep track of two kids instead of three.  It's so quiet.  It's really quite crazy.  And Riley and Julia are definitely excited to be able to have me home with them this week to enjoy our time together.  Such a blessing!!!

I'm hoping to make some Christmas ornaments with the girls in the morning.  And get the tree up this weekend.  We'll see Santa on Tuesday or Wednesday.  My mom is taking me out for a late birthday dinner with shopping tomorrow night.  And we'll spend time with Jeremy's family at Kathryn's on Thursday.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dark and Sunny

Some of Julia's sayings that I find completely adorable:

When the lights are off or she is about to turn them off, she says "Oooohh, it be berry dark in here!"

When the lights first turn on in the morning and it is bright, she says "It too sunny!  It very sunny! Turn it off pease"

Love that she thinks of the bright light as sun.

Toothless Wonder

My nickname in high school: toothless wonder.  I loved wonder bread and made bread balls from them (rip off the crust, roll into a ball and eat).  Yum...  And I am missing two of my top teeth.  So on the left side of my mouth, the teeth were all pushed forward and on the right side, there is a wide gap where a false tooth was placed.  Before the tooth was semi-permanent, the tooth was contained inside my retainer.  Every time I ate, the tooth would come out with the retained and therefore I was toothless.

That nickname is now current once again.  At least, in my mind.  Thankfully no one has called me that yet; though Riley did say "Goodnight Toothy!" and giggled.

My false tooth has been glued to the sides of the two teeth on either side of it for 17 years.  The dentist said that it would last up to five years so it has definitely done its job.  During lunch today, I bit into my apple and felt the whole false tooth crunched up and moved.  I put my fingers on it and just took it right off.  No need to wiggle or pull hard.  It literally just decided to fall off.

Not great timing.  Though it could be worse.

I'm preparing all the grade levels to perform for the "Thankful Eagle Lunch" the next two days. Grades K,2,4 are performing tomorrow and 1,3,5 are performing on Wednesday.  We always have an amazing turnout of parents/relatives/friends for the students.

There were still four classes I needed to have a final rehearsal with today and there was no way on earth I was going to miss it.  Not to mention having over 40 choir students after school today to rehearse.  So I taught - toothless.  As much as I tried to not worry about it, it has been all I could think about as it feels like a giant hole in the front of my mouth and I keep trying to feel for something there.

I explained to the kindergartners that I lost my tooth in my apple at lunch today.  They were very excited that we could relate to one another.  I heard things like "Wow!  I didn't know adults lose teeth too!" and "I lost my first tooth yesterday too" (didn't tell them this isn't my first tooth to lose) and "We both have missing teeth, Mrs. Grant!  See mine!"  The kids were really great about it.  Though some of my choir students had a hard time not staring at it.  Don't blame them!  It's quite easy to see that it's missing.

I sent a text to Jeremy with two pics of myself smiling with a caption that read "Love ya Baby!"  He felt bad for me, but was so loving about it and said I still look beautiful.  He knew exactly the right thing to say!!

The dentist was out today at a funeral and so he is jam packed tomorrow.  The earliest they can see me is on Wednesday.  She said it will take at least an hour to either put it back or figure out another alternative.

Until then, I remain toothless.  I'll direct toothless.  Teach toothless.  Speak to the parents toothless.  Sing toothless.

I figure it's better that I be honest and real about it and continue on than to hide out at home until another tooth can be put in.  Though honestly, I really can't wait until Wednesday to get it back in.

Riley is super excited to perform tomorrow.  She has her dress picked out and since Grandpa is coming to hear her sing, she specifically chose his favorite dress (a navy blue sailor dress with white buttons).  She's going to be so happy to see him there to hear her sing.  My mom is out of town so she can't come.   Madi has her performances on Wednesday.  I totally forgot to call Poppi and Grammy to ask them if either of them could come as my dad will be at work and my mom is on a business trip in MI.  I really dropped the ball on that one.  At least I will be able to eat with Madi and that's something we never get to do together at school.  Looking forward to that!