Monday, October 26, 2009

Worthwhile Weekend

Well, we finally got a weekend where there wasn't something going on... so what do we do... work! Carl was the driving force behind it all. We got a 220 installed in the basement- with the help of an awesome friend with the know-how. Then Carl went on a cleaning rampage down there. He cleaned out the garage, so he can park there again. Dropped off a bunch of boxes at Goodwill. We went through several more boxes to start on another drop-off. We returned bottles and cans- with the kids' help. Returned a few things we've been meaning to get back. We also caught up laundry and rearranged our bedroom. The bassinet is now set-up, along with a small plastic dresser and a laundry basket for baby clothes. It was nice to see it all accomplished, but man am I tired (from watching him do it all-ha).
Can you believe it's almost November! This little babe will be here soon enough. Right now, though, the focus is Halloween. I still have Trunk or Treat preparations and my kids costumes to finish!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Endless Battle

There is a great rumbling occuring all of the time under my feet in our home- threatening to open the floor and swallow me up. This animosity between the two 6 year olds in our home is unnerving. It makes little sense why this competitiveness creeps in each day. Their interests are not the same. The aren't even the same sex. So, why can they not just coexist without the frustration and tension? How do I manage to get them to? I have tried not allowing them to play together- they're just fine with that. And it doesn't teach them anything- except to avoid things that cause them irritation and frustration. Is that really the right lesson here? HELP!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why my hubby is so awesome!

Yesterday was looking pretty dismal, until my dear husband stepped in to save the day.
First, I forgot it was picture day. Now, in my defense, the school told us on a Friday and Monday was picture day. Anyhow, I blew it. I didn't help them choose clothes, comb hair or send money. Carl jumped in and took the money envelopes up to the school with clothes. He also made sure the kids were presentable. If that wasn't enough...
Second, my battery light came on in the van. I called and made an appointment at the shop. Unfortunately, the van didn't last long enough. I couldn't start it after picking up the kids at school. I abandoned the van at school and the kids and I walked home. Carl bought a new battery and installed it. He even took it in and had the alternator replaced today. He didn't even complain too loudly about the cost. If that wasn't enough...
I picked up a cable box so we can get General Conference in this weekend, but I could not figure out how to hook up the box or program the remote. Carl, even after a long day at work, jumped in and took care of it. Voila' Cable. If that wasn't enough...
The computer crashed yesterday. Carl pulled out his laptop and made it work so I could stay connected. I JUST LOVE THIS MAN!
It seemed terribly important to write this down and say... I am so lucky. My hubby is wonderful!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Autumn's Success

Still a little wobbly- especially when getting mounted.

Doing great!

Ready for another great start!

Autumn did it! She can ride her two-wheeled bicycle now without help! She has been really working hard on this skill over the summer. The last time we practiced, Carl and I were surprised that she hadn't mastered it- as she was able to go several yards- passing three residences. Now, she can conquer whole blocks! Yesterday, while Carley and I were napping, Carl took the big kids out to ride. Autumn can now start on her own. She is also getting better at braking and maneuvering around things. We're so proud of her!
Carl took Billy and Autumn to the park on their bikes and then to their school. It was an exciting day for them both- leaving the block to ride. It's awesome to share this experience with her. We hope she can show mom soon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The First Day of School 2009

Ian with his teacher
The big kids first day (Thursday)
I have been waiting for this day for it seems like forever. But I have to say, it has been a little
bittersweet. Sure, I'll have much quieter and productive days. Yes, I'll get to have some special time with my little girl, but the big kids are gone. Summer is over. There's so much I didn't get to do with them. Summer is never long enough, I guess.
Each of them took the first day of school a little differently. Autumn seemed a bit scared and apprehensive. Billy was excited and hopeful and Ian was just plain giddy. When I told Ian goodbye he said "Just go already Mom" and gave me a little "shoo" movement of the hand. It was a little sad, but I just had to laugh at his obvious readiness. Autumn was very quiet (unusual for her), but I could tell she really wasn't sure what to expect. When she arrived home she seemed a little let down that she had a half-day, when Billy got to stay all day. And Billy- well, still Billy. He was vague with the details of his first day and couldn't remember any new names.
So, school has started. Soon we'll be moving onto Carley's potty training and then on to welcoming a new baby. We've got a busy year ahead of us. Here's hoping for the best!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harmony in the Home

You never truly miss something until its gone.
I'd like to begin my post by explaining that our home has never been perfect. We have never been completely without bickering. We have never had a spotless home. We have never been 100% on all things spiritual. But we have also never been so full of frustration either. The harmony of our home is not what it used to be. We used to laugh more. We used to hug more. We used to be really happy.
A wonderful and terrible thing has happened in our family since we opened it up and welcomed our foster child. We have learned about compassion, but we have learned how one child's example can be poison for the other children and parents. Autumn came into our home in just the way we were taught she would. There was a honeymoon period. She was sweet and listened well. She aimed to please. She always picked up after herself. A few time-outs and she was good to go. I thought we had struck gold. Then the behaviors began. First it was competitiveness. She and Billy (and eventually Ian) began trying to be the best and claim that title for everything. We dealt with it beautifully. We praised both for their abilities and talents and explained that each of these skills would come to the other in time. I was happy with myself as a new foster parent.
Then, we went on vacation. As a family, we went to see my dad and we did not bring Autumn. We left her with her past foster family, thinking she'd be happier visiting friends anyway. We did not expect her to feel abandoned. We did not expect her to lash out in anger upon our return. The hitting began. The tantrums grew worse. It was a nightmare. Still, we prayed and discussed between one another (Carl and I) and decided the best thing to do was to show Autumn that when people love you they don't leave you when you're bad. We stuck with her. We hit it hard with discipline- creative discipline. We assigned lines to write. We gave grounding punishments for whole days. We took away toys. We took away bedding (because it was thrown at us). And lastly, we took the bike. We broke her heart. We handled it. This seemed to work. Day by day she gained our trust back. We gave the bike back. We gave the toys back. We gave the pillows back. It worked.
Now Autumn is feeling the turmoil of her little life. As her days in foster care slip away she has become almost mean. She talks back. She makes up stories. She argues with my decisions. She snaps at the other kids. She glares at me. She ignores me. I just am not sure how much more I can take. I feel I have been so patient. I really do love this child. I have prayed over and over for more love for her. I know I can not give up on her. It is hard. I know passing her on to yet another foster home will do no good for her. And I would never get over the guilt of it. I need her to be good. I need to know she'll survive the struggles that await her (in going home or adjusting to a new home) after the permanency hearing. This is hard.
But I will perservere. Why? you ask. Because she is a child of God. He loves her. He wants me to be her caretaker during this difficult time. I know- because I've asked his permission to just let this all go. With Carl's proven record of consistency and support, I know we can make this work out for us and her. I know there is a lesson for our family in this great struggle. I know my children will always remember this service. And Autumn's life will be forever changed because of the lessons we teach and the love we give. I know it is the best for her... and us.
So, we are on to fight another battle. We are off to teach by love and perserverence. We will prevail.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Essay Assigned by Lisa V.

Question: Do you have a personal mission statement? Yes? No? If "yes" what are your experiences living by it? How has it changed the way you make decisions, treat people, etc?

Answer: I think I have had mini mission statements for various facets of my life.
For my marriage it has been "Never fight about money. It doesn't put any more of it in the account." That has been big for us. We have always done our best to make the most of what we have and spend what we don't when it means enriching our marriage at the most opportune times.
As for my kids, it's "they can be washed." I have tried not to stress over spilt juice, puddles of mud or dreaded paint. I try to let them be kids and remember the mess can be washed away *unfortunatly not wished away, but washed. Early in my marriage my house was sparkling and when the kids began being added to the family I stressed greatly over the messes. The stains in the carpet, the "might-as-well-throw-it-away clothes", they made me cry. To save my sanity, I decided they could be returned to their clean state.
And for the rest of the world, I stick with "Treat others the way you wish to be treated." I do my best to serve where I am needed and watch for opportunities compliment or be a listening ear. Most people are worth spending the time on, and the very few out there that just need to struggle through because they buried themselves in consequences will only allow themselves to become more self-centered when served. The hardest thing I've had to learn (and still continue to struggle with) is where that line lies. Just when I think I've found the line, I find myself stepping over it. Some individuals just need to learn to fix their lives themselves.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Names

We have made some decisions on names- and I feel obliged to create a happy post to secure the shred of sanity and joy I'm hanging too. We've been having a difficult two weeks or so with our foster child and I need to remind myself of the happy arrival we have coming before the end of the year. We have still decided to let this child's gender be a surprise- as it will probably be our last opportunity. The names we have chosen are as follows:
Cassandra Joan or Abigail Joan
Andrew Joshua or Calvin Jeffrey
"Joan" is not set in stone yet, and may be substituted with Rose, but we love both names and they are both for my grandma's- whose birthdays are days apart. Beverley Joan was born Nov. 30th and she died in 2000. Rosemary was born Dec 4th. The baby is due on Dec. 6th- and I'm holding steady for early babies.
So, say what you will. I'd actually love to hear your opinions- good and bad. Trust me, you won't hurt my feelings. I've already taken a little flack and I'm ready for it. So, CJ or AJ- which would you pick?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Photo

This is just a random photo from my phone. Autumn was very afraid to try to slide down the pole at the playground. After watching Billy a few times, she was ready to give it a try. This is her first successful go at it. She was so proud of herself. She has also learned how to do the monkey bars since she came to stay with us. It's so exciting to see her grow and learn!

Autumn's Preschool Graduation

Teacher Ms. Leila


Another performing shot

walking in

The pictures do not do this special event justice. She was so tickled to be wearing her dress and stockings to school. She wanted her hair done just so. Autumn was so excited and performed so well. I wish we would have taken some video. The songs, dance and recitations were darling. Autumn announced that she wants to be a chef when she grows up during her walk across the stage. She was so proud of herself. Carl took off work and brought her flowers- Autumn was pleased at this small surprise.

Camping over Memorial Day Weekend

I just managed to pull these pictures off my phone, so I thought I'd share them. This is our camping trip from over Memorial Day weekend. We had so much fun. We explored a cave, watched the trout spawning, we hiked the Backbone- 2 miles, rowed a boat, fished, everything. It was Autumn's first time. Such a good time. Wish the pictures were better.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today's Doctor Appointment

I was surprised today at the doctor to find that I have only gained 2 lbs in the past 4 weeks. I'm also measuring at 18 weeks and the doctor says I should be 17 weeks tomorrow by his calculation. Baby was moving all over the place and finding a heartbeat was a real challenge. Found one and it was about 150- (not sure of the measurement, but number is right). As for the existing hemmorage, doc says we'll wait until 6/16 for full ultrasound to check it out. He says that it's more common than most people think and will usually go away without any trouble by 20 weeks. However, if it comes up on the ultrasound in 3 weeks it could be more serious. So, that's what I know. Baby's doing well. Hopefully the hemmorage will make itself scarce so we have no further worries.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Our Texas Vacation- Can't wait to return

We had such a good time on our Texas vacation, as I'm sure you can gather from the pictures. We are all so grateful to my dad and Gail for all they did to make our stay fun and eventful. The kids loved going swimming over and over again at the hotel pool. They think Grandpa Chuck's dog Buddy is such a winner. I wish our dog Skittles could have met him and learned to play from him. He is such a good boy. We can't wait to visit again soon. Hopefully we'll have time to fish and garage sale as the rain ruined our chance of getting those things done. I've never had rain interrupt my Texas vacation before- that was shocking. But we got lots of time to play on the computers and get all the necessary things accomplished. Thanks for a great trip Dad! I love my new maternity clothes Gail. It was great to meet you Billy and Candace. Good luck with the new baby. See you all again real soon!

San Angelo, TX - Kid's Kingdom Playground

Grandpa Chuck and Grandma Gail led us to the coolest of playgrounds when they both had to work and we were looking for a way to kill some time. This playground was expansive and had cubbies and climbing opportunities everywhere. The kids just loved it. I didn't take near as many pictures there as I would have liked. I was feeling rather sick this morning of the trip. The kids were so red in the cheeks after running around this place for over an hour. Carley proved to be quite capable climbing everywhere the boys did. Billy showed us how he can mount a high swing and get himself really going without any help. Ian was all over exploring the different places to play. It was a nice morning and though the afternoon was a scorcher, our morning had a beautiful breeze with clouds to keep it shady. Wish we had a huge playground like this one around here.

Sonora, TX - Sluicing at Sonora

While waiting for our tour at Sonora Caverns to begin, we had about 1/2 an hour to kill. We decided to buy a bag of sluicing rocks. I divided the bag up among three trays and the kids had such a great time sifting through. Billy was thrilled to find all the colored rocks unveiled by the running water. Ian's tray was a little less full of pretty finds- but he didn't seem to notice. We sneaked more in later. Carley was right behind the boys waiting anxiously for a turn. Luckily there was an adult to each child, so we kept them busy washing their rocks over and over. Then they bagged them up and went on to other discoveries. Afterward Billy found this huge bug. He was frightening looking. He didn't seem to afraid. Then we saw four hummingbirds at a feeder. Waiting for the tour took no time at all with these leisurely activities. I was a little nervous of how they would behave on the tour, but was pleasantly surprised at the listening skills and awe they showed. What a cool trip!

Sonora, TX - Sonora Caverns

So many great pictures to choose from. I'm sure I chose the wrong pics to share. This cavern is wonderfully active. There were a great number of beautiful formations. Unfortunately, it is not without it's vandalism. A 5-ft. soda straw was broken a number of years ago and within the last 5 years their trademark butterfly formation was broken. Still, it was a place worth seeing. It's hard to believe how long it has taken these beautiful things to form in this cavern. We were amazed at the dripping water and warm colors inside. And utter darkness- was breathtaking. That is truly the darkest place I've ever been. I saw this cavern about 6 or so years ago and I don't remember it being so steamy down there. It was 73 degrees, but I was sweating up a storm. All of us struggled with the near 2 mile walk. Carl carried Carley on his chest in a Snugli and I'm 16 weeks along with Ian in hand and my dad had Billy. It was exhausting. Still, I am glad my dad forked over the ridiculous admission price and we bore the heat and steep walking conditions. It was a sight to see. I'm glad to have share it with my little ones.

Fort Worth, TX - The Fort Worth Zoo

We met up with my cousins Daniel and Alice here. This zoo is just 1/2 an hour from their home. I was a little apprehensive about this zoo at first. We looked into the membership program, hoping the reciprocating zoos would be close to us and other future travel destinations- and lo and behold they do not reciprocate with other zoos. Wow, never heard that one before. I guess this zoo is intent on holding its own. They're doing pretty well. Our kids were amazed at their herpetorium- lizards, snakes, salamanders, newts, etc. They loved strolling from box to box and trying to find the hiding captives. The kids love zoos and this one was no exception. The crowning glory of this zoo (for the kids anyway) could be achieved on a large patio in any home (in my opinion). They allowed the kids to purchase a stick with seeds on it to feed parakeets. All of the kids loved it. They went from bird to bird offering these treats. Carley would shake off any bird that perched her stick. While Billy coaxed every bird on. Ian needed some encouragement but did love it.
This zoo also has a special Texas section. It has a petting zoo. We got to pet a real armadillo and a calf. The goats were not interested in us because they were eating the biggest popsicles I've ever seen. After this Daniel insisted we have ice cream. I wasn't hard to convince. It was super hot. Carley got ice cream all over her! Billy finished his first- no surprise there. It was great! After ice cream we caught a glimpse of a few more Texas animals (bats, coyotes, mountain lions, etc.) and then we were off. The kids were pretty tired by this point and the layout of the zoo is not conducive for a quick getaway. We had to walk the line all the way back to the front, passing all the exhibits we had already seen. My biggest suggestion for this zoo is to create a circle or spoke-like pattern to house the exhibits around. Our trip out of there, in the heat of the day, was exhausting. Billy barely made it. It was a great trip and a nice visit with our cousins- which we have been long overdue in seeing. Hoping to do it again soon.

Wichita, KS - Museum of World Treasures

All in all this museum was pretty impressive. I especially enjoyed the exhibit on the presidents (2nd floor), but was a little frustrated that because the majority of it was on loan it was not allowed to be photographed. I wish I had prepared my kids for the mummies and shrunken heads and other oddities. They just didn't understand. We'll be checking out library books to teach them more this summer though. Our focus was the dinosaurs (on the 1st floor) and they came through with flying colors in captivating and putting this kids in awe. They were big and impressive. The fossils were awesome. They loved it. When we got to the 3rd floor there was a large play area for the kids, including a castle puppet theatre, a bouncy inflatible and ride-on toys. There was also a castle with throne and dungeon. The boys loved that. I think this is a nice museum and I'm glad we made it a stop on our way to Texas.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Hooray! We leave in just one week for our Texas vacation. Boy are we ready for a vacation. Don't get me wrong- camping over Memorial Day was great- but this is long-awaited for. We're going to see my Dad and Grandma Gail. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy the Sonora Caverns or maybe the Abilene Zoo. There's sure to be swimming and fishing. On the way there we're stopping in Whitchita to visit a giant T-rex and we'll stop in Arlington to see Daniel and Alice- my sweet cousins I never get to see. I just can't wait. My replacement camera should be in the mail today and arriving early next weekend. Posts of vacation pictures are imminent. I have been using my cell phone camera and plan to print those pics out soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm still here

I know it's been a few weeks since I've blogged, but I am still here. A big part of the reason for my lack of recent post is because I lost my camera. It was in my purse which was stolen during my son's 6th birthday party at the bowling alley. So, I apologize but I have no recent pictures of his party, camping with the kiddos or Autumn's preschool graduation. What a bummer! Anyhow, here's a quick update.
Billy had 11 guests at his birthday party. His cake was Sonic the Hedgehog bowling. It was a lot of fun. My purse was stolen.
Memorial Day weekend we took the kids camping for 4 days and 3 nights. What a blast. We fished, hiked, boated, everything. Autumn slammed her finger in the bathroom door and lost a raisin-sized piece of flesh. The ER in Manchester x-rayed it and dressed it and called it good. There was a bone chip.
Autumn graduated from preschool. She received 2 ribbons from the field day the week before. She announced that she wants to be a chef when she grows up. Carl brought her flowers. She did great for the presentation. Mom didn't come.
All in all our last few weeks have been pretty nice. We're looking forward to our Texas trip- in a week and a half. We'll be going to visit my dad for a whole week. Autumn is going to stay with her 1st foster family during this week. We're all excited.
I'm 13 weeks pregnant and the ultrasound it registering me as 1 week ahead. Everything looks okay so far. I have only gained a few pounds. I've had some major pain and cramping, but after an increase of water it seems to be subsiding. Things are looking good for a late November arrival.
Hoping to hear how all of you are doing very soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family Here and Family There

I think we did the right thing choosing Iowa as the place to raise our family. I feel Carl's family couldn't be much more supportive. Josh and Annette and Mom & Dad have all taken turns watching my kiddos for a variety of reasons. They have made us feel needed and wanted. They have gone out of their way to tiptoe around my pet peeves. I love that Carl gets to spend time with his brother, sister and parents. I think it's great that he can be there to celebrate their successes with them and remorse over the downfalls of life with them. How cool is it that he can take his sister out to lunch, go to a movie with his mom, take his dad fishing or go out with his little brother bowling?
But secretly, I'm envious... jealous to the point that I want to break down in tears. I want to go out with my mom and get our nails done. I want my little brother and I to share lunch without kids. I want to garage sale with my dad for a whole Saturday morning. Don't get me wrong. Carl goes out of his way every year to make sure I get to visit one or both of my parents. I never have a year without them. But it's hard. When we are together, the time is short. When I visit- I seldom have alone time with them. Maybe it will get easier as I get older- but it seems my longing to have them near has gotten worse lately. Time heals - I guess.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Special Time with Mom

Carley and I are just loving the opportunity to spend quality time alone thanks to Mom School. Usually we go shopping or play on the computer, but with the beautiful weather Tuesday we decided the park would be best. It was so nice not to have to watch all 4 of my monsters. Carley led the way, and I simply followed. I've been thinking about how when the baby comes in Nov/Dec Carley and I won't be alone during the day any more. Of course right now we're only alone twice and week (until Aug/Sept when Ian starts PreK). I'll have to start making special use of our time alone. I'll need to start a schedule to have time alone with each of them. It's sure getting harder.