Sunday, December 30, 2007

Not Dropped......

I am still here. I could say something really noble, honorable and praiseworthy like...."Since Mike is on school break, I just don't get on the computer much because I want to be with him." While it is true that I love just being a family, having him around and playing lots of games with the kids, the truth is that I just get really lazy when he is home. We get out of our routine with school, the housework and just general life.....especially me, which trickles down to the kids.
Oh, don't get me wrong....I totally appreciate him pitching in so much. I haven't quite figured out if it's that I get lazy so he takes on the household (mostly) or if he runs the household because he wants to give me a break and I readily hand over the reigns. Either way, it is such a wonderful blessing to have such a great and helpful husband. Lately I have spent my time doing those "back burner things" like making crafts, folding and putting away all of the laundry (still working on this one) and teaching Lauren to read (she has been asking for months now, but I haven't taken her seriously because I didn't think she was old enough to "get it." How wrong I was! She is picking it up fast.) Then there is our new puppy. Her name is Abby. Training is...well....time consuming, to say the least. But she already understands sit, lay, come, shake and No! Betsey told me today that someone was talking to her about getting a dog and the person said that if you think of a puppy as a toddler, you won't be surprised at their behavior. That is true. She has to be watched every minute as long as she is out of her kennel. Even if we pick everything up off the floor, she still manages to find wires and other dangerous and deadly things. Toddler? Yes! But with four legs and much more obedient. I wanted to post some pics of her this evening, but I couldn't find the cable to upload them. Soon.
I got a new calling. I knew it was coming. I have had little snidbits (feelings of the Holy Ghost) tell me that I needed to prepare myself for something, but I wasn't sure what. I have been called as Institute Teacher. Ya, I know...I was surprised, too. Me? The one who has barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding holy writ? Moreover, they are studying the Old Testament this year. Thank goodness there is a manual. I know I have so much to learn and that totally excites me. I have not actually studied the Old Testament in it's entirety since my seminary days......twenty years ago. I guess I have a really good reason to dig deeper into the OT now. The Lord knows what I need.
As for the "Tainted Joy" post....I am sorry about it. I should have kept it private (it has been returned to the archives of my soul). I know better than to let these things get to me. I know it only hurts me to carry a grudge. I have forgiven her for our Christmas conversation (or lack there of) and will forgive her the next time it happens, too. That post was written in between the offense and the forgiving. It was a moment of weakness. It is such a blessing to know that my Savior understands my pain as well as my shortcomings.
Christmas Cards. They did not get out. I are all so very shocked. I know you were all holding your breath, counting on it like the rising of the sun. It's soooo unlike me to not send Christmas cards. I don't want to jinx myself, but maybe there will be a New Years news letter, or maybe a Valentines one...or maybe a Saint Patrick's Day letter, or maybe even an Easter news letter if I really procrastinate. I am so good at that, as you know. Sometime this year you will get one...maybe.
I'm off to bed.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Once There Was A......

Good job Lundi. And we love the leafy skirt on this girl. It was unintentional (she rolled this ball when we had very little snow, therefor it became a leafy snowball) but beautiful, none the less.

And here is Caleb's Snowman.....
A rather distinguished looking gentleman, wouldn't you say? And great moustache!

Hey Honey.....

(me)-"Wanna see something cool?......."

So I open up this picture on my computer.

(mike)-obligatory..."Cool. What is it?"

(me) "it's the snow outside tonight!"

(mike)-"Oh, I thought it was your hair....with your dandruff."

In my defense, I did take a shower today, and I did wash my hair. That was one of the privileges that the crate afforded me...remember? dandruff. A little thin, yes. I have five pregnancies to thank for that. But dandruff...NO!

(And no gray, either. And never been dyed.)

I Found A Way......

......To get a shower EVERY day!! Guaranteed or your money back. I'm telling you....this thing cost about $60.00 and it is the best thing I have bought in a long time. It fits.....not three, not four, not five....but six kids! All you do is put them in there, throw them a few snacks every hour or two and you can get anything you want done. A shower, a floor swept AND mopped, the dishes done, the laundry folded, the floor vacuumed and phone calls made all in about an hour....WITHOUT finding a baby sitter. Isn't it great?

I think I will go buy another one for the dog. On second thought....if Mattea isn't here, they should all fit comfortably in there with the dog. I love it when i get these great ideas!

I am kidding of course...just in case there are any wackos out there reading my blog who want to call DHS on me. We bought this for the new puppy we are getting for Christmas. The kids wanted to try it out, and act like a bunch of puppies, which is something they do on a regular bases. They usually hang a blanket on a desk to make a dog house, but this was so much more realistic so I let them play...all day! With the gate unlocked. (Not to mention it can be opened from the inside by a human hand).

We are totally ready to get our puppy. We plan to do crate training to house break her. She will be getting her last series of shots, have her hips checked and get the final "ok" from the vet next Friday. Then, she can officially be adopted! We are very excited. We as a family have never had a dog, and I haven't had one since I was a kid. I have been studying up on training, house breaking and general dog care. Things have changed, you know? The last time I cared for a dog, all you needed to do was feed and water it, give it a flea collar, and burn the ticks off when you see them. Now-a-days it's almost like having a baby. You have to show proof of shots, get them licensed, registered with the town and have a vet check them out. I just want to be sure we know what we are getting ourselves into. For school lately, we have been learning together how to take care of her. The other day she came over for a visit and she peed and pooped in the short time that she was here. That was a good exercise for the kids.....I required them to clean it up. I just want them to also know what we are getting ourselves into. The dog will be every ones responsibility.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Without Getting

I have contemplated this many times in years past. The main reason being is that we never have money for buying the kids' presents until a few days before Christmas. My Daddy and my Granny have sent us money for the last few years, but it isn't something I count on. This year is no different, we have no money...literally. the van needs new tires so it can pass inspection, the electricity is over due, rent needs to be paid (still) and Mike's car died last week so he has been taking the van to school every day.....with an over due inspection sticker. (Can we pray for protection when we are breaking the law?) I would not spend Christmas money from loved ones on these things, but I could and be justified...maybe.
This has been our predicament during Christmas for three years in a row now. (Ahhhh....the life of a student). Every year, we get a check in the mail and then rush around for three days gathering gifts for the children. But.....what if we didn't get a check? What if we had Christmas without getting? What if we just focused on the Savior, gave what we could to others, made things out of what we can find around the house (that won't be should see my craft corner in my bedroom) or simply gave of ourselves. What if we captured the Christmas spirit by doing little acts of kindness for each other without the recipient knowing? What if we thought nothing of ourselves and only served others? Things like shoveling someones sidewalk, caroling to someone lonely, cookies to grumpy old Mr. McGlaughlin up the street, giving a haircut to someone who can't afford one? As soon as school is out for Mike, we are hitting the streets on a secret service mission.
For some reason, I always let the gift buying for my children get in the way of all of these things that I love to do. I get so caught up in the "there has to be many, many presents under the tree" ideal that I feel bound to. That's how it was when I was a kid. Not this year. We will serve others and it will be a Christmas to remember. I have always wanted to have a Christmas without getting. I want the experience of letting the true meaning of Christmas not be drowned out by Santa. It is hard for me to mix them well. In some ways, not having money is a blessing. I don't want the kids to be disappointed (I am not a mean Mom), but I don't want them to have the "gimme" disease either.
Now if I just don't get that check in the mail, I will be able to keep my resolve. If we do, the kids bank accounts will grow with the left over money after buying them one gift each.
Balance is what I am striving always.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Love Christmas.....

The snow, the decorations, the traditions, the get togethers, the excitement, the surprises we leave on peoples door step, the music the stories and the Savior. Tonight we finished reading "The Christmas Jar" (how could we not, we had only three chapters left?). We started it about a week ago and have been reading a chapter a night (sometimes more, depending on how early or late we started) and it has been the high light of the day since we started it. We have all looked forward to evening story time. Tonight we started on chapter twelve, intending to read three chapters. But when we finished fifteen, everyone begged for more, so we went on....and on....all the way to the end. What a wonderful and heart felt story it was.

I finally uploaded the pictures of the gingerbread house. It isn't anything spectacular, but we sure did have fun making it. Everyone decorated a side. As you can see, the roof broke as I was holding it, waiting for it to dry. So we "glued" the pieces back together and made it work.

We got our tree!
Our friends told us about a place here in our town that had trees much cheaper ($20 vs. $25) than the ones at Gooleys. We thought....Great! It's local, cheaper and will take less time to go get the tree. But when we were in the van, on the way there we heard the kids talking about the great sleeding hill at Gooleys (Caleb had remembered his sled). We told them that we weren't going there this year, we were going somewhere different. "Nooooooo!" Came the reply from four voices behind us. "We have to go to Gooleys!!! It's where we always go!"
Traditions are important. Every year since we have lived here, we have gone to Gooley's Tree Farm in search of the perfect tree. So we first stop at the home of the Gooleys to pick up a saw, then head off to whichever direction our instincts take us. Yes, my friends....finding the perfect tree in a tree farm is indeed an art form....which we are still trying to master. We are only on our fifth year. So everyone goes separate ways and finds their favorite. We then wait at "our" tree for the rest of the family to gather round to judge our tree. We then trudge through the snow to the next, and the next until all of the chosen trees have been judged by all members of the family. After we all agree on one tree, we drag it down to the Gooley's house to be squeezed through the thing that puts the plastic mesh around it (I call this the birth canal, explaining to my children that they missed out on that experience, so watch the tree to get an idea of what it is like.) While Mike and Mr. Gooley tie the tree to the roof of our van, the kids and I gather in the hut (I can't remember what it is actually called....a "yurk?") hot cider, hot cocoa and cookies that the Gooleys so generously provide for all of their faithful customers. Oh, and if you have lost a glove, scarf or mitten this year or in years past, you can find them hanging inside, waiting for their rightful owner to reclaim them. So....Gooleys it was and Gooleys it will always be.

Here it is! The Winning One! The Chosen Tree. The Le Sapin grown just for us! It is the biggest, (8' to be exact) thickest tree we have ever had. So, we brought it home, waited for all the snow to melt off of it, then decorated it Sunday after church.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bringing You Up To Speed.....

We have had a busy and fun week. Last Saturday we went to Advocates For Children Christmas festival. Rick Chareck (children's song writer) was there again, although the kids were not at all interested in attending the concert. So we stayed in the room where he was singing for five minutes (while they felt tortured the whole time) then went quickly back to the gymnasium. In there, we found something for everyone....... animals for Caleb; he got to hold a huge Boa Constrictor, several birds of prey (which he totally loved) and a Cockatoo. I never in my life would have imagined this kid liking snakes...but he does. This boy is afraid of most domesticated animals (like dogs and cats....which is one of the reasons we are getting a dog) but for some reason he loves snakes. I might add, he did NOT try to charm this one. Maybe it had something to do with it's size.
Lundi, on the other hand, didn't like the idea of holding a snake, as you can see. I don't know if she regrets it, but she was definently in a hurry to get it off her back!

Lauren and Harrison wanted to spend all their time here..... the bounce house. I think we waited in that line sixteen times. They couldn't get enough of it.

Liam wasn't so sure about this jolly old man....

But Harrison was excited to sit on his lap.

Have things changed...or is it just me? Wasn't Santa soooo much more exciting when we were kids? I just remember having a conversation with him while sitting on his lap. was usually the same every year, but still it was great to have somebody to tell my greatest wishes to, and hope that they MIGHT come true. Are kids just so greedy these days that Santa just doesn't bother to ask? The last few times my kids have sat on Santa's lap, it was just for a picture, then they were brushed aside so he could get to the next kid. And I never even buy those pictures, I just want them to have the experience. But I have learned the "experience" to be very different today than it was when I was a kid. I find it sad. I am disenchanted. Anybody know of an interactive Santa Clause? Do they still exist these days? Maybe there is some stupid law against Santa talking to kids. I just don't get it.
Now that we are on the subject of Santa Clause, I'll write about a conversation that I had with Caleb (sniff) today. Yes, he asked me..."Is Santa real, Mom?" I said "Why do you ask, son?" I wondered if I could, once again cover up something he had heard. You know.....keep the magic.
He then said "Because Jamie and Jared told me that they have Christmas without Santa Clause. And Chris told me that I was a baby if I believed in Santa." (This is when I wanted to cry.) On the one hand, I wanted to tell him that they were wrong. On the other hand, I didn't want to make him a target for ridicule among his friends because he professed a belief in the jolly man himself. (It is moments like this that I find particularly hard about being a parent, btw.) But most importantly, I tried to follow the spirit. It occured to me that we teach him many things that seem "impossible" or "extraordinary." For instance, Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. We encourage him to pray about this and gain his own testimony of it's truthfulness. This was indeed an extraordinary event in the history of the church. He has been taught this since he was a baby. He has never questioned it. But if and when he ever does, I want him to trust me to tell him the truth. I don't want him to think "Well, she lied about the reality of Santa Clause, is she lying about this too? It seems just as weird as the idea of a man in a red suit flying through the air in a sleigh." Granted, the Holy Ghost will (and perhaps already has) tell him that this is true. But I couldn't really say "Well, Caleb, why don't you ask Heavenly father if Santa is real." So instead I told him about the origin of Saint Nicholas and that it is such a neat tradition, that we continue it today. He then asked "Well, how do ALL those presents get under the tree.?" I said (the hardest words that I uttered today) "Mommy and Papa put them there." His face drooped in disappointment and he said "Really?" "Yes, son." It was then that I (almost) regretted telling him the truth about Santa. So I hugged him and told him that I loved him so much. He then went on to talk about the Savior and how He was the most important part of Christmas, anyway. I agreed and told him that I was glad he asked me. "It means alot to me that you come to me with these questions, Caleb. You can always ask me anything you want." It was bitter sweet.

I really hate (I don't even know what to call it) to see them "lose their innocence"(???). Not just the Santa thing. But like the time when I had to explain foster parenting to Caleb and he was so shocked that kids actually get taken away from their parents. Or when I had to explain murder to him, Or when he asked me about why someone had to go to jail. Or why his freinds parents were getting divorced. Or explain to him that Grandma use to be an active member of the church, but doesn't believe it any more. When she was here, he asked me why she drinks coffee (I remember thinking this was so bad when I was a kid) and I told him to ask her. He wasn't judging her. He simply wanted to know and was sad for her. So he asked her and she was (at first) very defensive and said "it's none of your business, Caleb." I said "Mom, he asked me and I didn't know what to tell him. So can you please explain it to him?" She then said "Well, it's not right for some people, but it's ok for me and I like it." When he asked me, I didn't know how to answer without either A) making her look bad or B) Justifying it and making our standards seem unimportant. He later came to me and said "Satan is tricking her, huh Mom?" I simply said "Remember her in your prayers, Caleb. Also remember that we all make our own choices. God's greatest gift to us is the gift of agency."

Like I said, I really struggle with these types of things. This boy feels things so deeply. He is a good spirit and truly wants to do what's right. Because of that, he sometimes has a hard (even impossible) time understanding why other people make the choices that they do.....especially when they "know better". We as his parents talk to him often about how we all make choices, good or bad and we can't force anyone to do anything. We all have to make choices according to our conscience and that everybody has a different level of conscientiousness, even among the members of the church. Everybody is at a differnt point in their spiritual journey. But we are all trying to get back to Heavenly Father and we all need to help each other. I ususlly try to drive home this point with a question like "Caleb , do Papa and I teach you not to hit your brother?" He says "Yes." I then ask "So if you know it is wrong, why do you do it?" It seems to click when we give him an example where he can look at himself, rather than somebody else. When he asks these complex questions, we do our best to explain it to him.

WOW, this has turned into a totally different post then I intended it to be. But I am glad I recorded this experience, even though it is a big tangent. This is my journal, after all.
Moving on....
I really could write all night but, I just noticed the time, it's 1:49 in the morning! We will be up early to go to the tree farm to cut down our tree tomorrow so I must be off to bed.
But before I our new baby...(who will either be named Abby, Charlotte, Soleil, Jetta, Paris or Luna). She came over for a visit tonight, much to the delight to everyone in the house. She will officially come to live with us two weeks from today.

And I thought that only HUMAN babies were this much fun. We are already in love with her and are so excited to have her! As you can see, even Caleb is warming right up to her!

Signing off at 2:00am....


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

That's What I Get.....

.........For making a promise. I get denied access to my own blog. What's up with that? Anyway, here I am.
I have a few Christmas projects in the works. I will write them here so I don't forget about any of them.
Ginger Bread House (Done, did that tonight. Will post pics later.)
Paper Chain
Flannel Ornaments (got a few done)
Christmas table cloth
Glass ornaments with acrylic paint
Marble magnets (50 done, 50 to go)
Map blanket

Needless to say, we are getting a years worth of art class in during the next few weeks.

I'm off to be crafty without the stress of a terror toddler.