Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Foster Care Awareness Month

My brother and sister-in-law informed me that the month of May is Foster Care Awareness month. They are currently fostering 4 little boys with the hope of eventually adopting them. It has been quite a ride for them over the past year and a half when they began this journey. I read about a month or so ago in the paper that the state of Missouri is ranked second to last among the states in the amount of financial support they offer to the foster family. The system is messed up - most people who have never even had first hand experience with foster care sense that is the case, and those that have had experience with the system know that truth even more. Keep all those kids and the families in your prayers - its sad to see so many kids in the world that are neglected and not cherished as they should be, and even more sad when you see the large number of families that wait months and even years to be able to adopt said children.

Turtle Time

It's that time of year again. Huston, Lillie and I were on our way home from picking Huston up from preschool and we found a turtle on the road near our house. It was a water turtle this time, not the usual box turtle we have found in past years. I am a fan of the turtle, so I turned around and scooped this one up and brought him home for the boys to look at for awhile.

The boys enjoyed playing with "him" - (who knows what it really was!) - and gave it strawberries, pulled it along in their wagon and sprayed the grass with water so it would have a nice wet place to hang out in for a bit.

After Avery woke up from his nap he also went out to play with the turtle, and that's when we determined it would be best to go ahead and take the turtle back to the creek a little sooner than planned. That boy knows no fear with animals - he picked that turtle right up, shook it around, patted it on the back rather harshly - no matter how many times you told him to be gentle and over all just smothered it with his presence. Last year when we found a box turtle in the yard Avery, even at the age of 18 mos, would take the poor turtle and spin him on the patio - needless to say he was not allowed to touch the turtle without a bit of supervision!

So we said bye to "Watery" as Huston had named him (what can I say, my boys have quite the creativity for naming things :-) and drove him back down the road to the creek. Isaiah cried and managed a good bye in between sobs...guess we'll have to look into some kind of pet for him - he wants so badly to take care of something.

(The right picture shows the turtle in the bottom corner of the frame and his happy creek home at the top of the picture among the bushes...)

It was fun to have Watery with us, even if it was for only a couple of hours - we enjoyed noticing the differences between the two kinds of the end I think I prefer the box turtle myself.

Monday, April 28, 2008

That's Avery...

Avery is by far our goofiest kid. Even at the age of 2 1/2 he keeps us laughing with his expressions and even by what he in point:

Steven's dad gives us his copy of the Missouri Conservationist when he is finished with it...we look through it, mostly glancing at the headlines and looking at the pictures - we really aren't avid "outdoorsmen" type people...but anyway the latest copy happened to be sitting on our kitchen table tonight. While Avery was waiting for his dinner to be presented before him he started flipping through the pages of the magazine. All of a sudden he stopped and began to say, "Whoa, whoa..." like something he saw was just astonishing. I walked over to see what brought on such a reaction and got there in time to see Avery point at a picture in the magazine and say, "Whoa, BIG Grandad" in his most deep and fearsome voice. So here is the picture he was looking at and here is a picture of my dad, you make the call. We thought it was kind of funny. (By the way, I took dad's picture just tonight - its not the best picture of him, but he was dressed kind of similar to the "big grandad" don't you think)

"Big Grandad"

Real Grandad

If you kind of tilt your head to the right, squint your eyes and nod all at the same time you might see the resemblance. :-)

Cousins Lunch

Today was the forth Monday of the month and that means its Cousins Lunch day in Troy - the scheduled meeting for all of the remaining "cousins" of my grandma. Since Grandma now lives with my folks here in town, it is hard for her to make it to the luncheons because she isn't comfortable driving herself anymore. So Isaiah, Lillie, and I piled into the van and drove GG (short for Great-Grandma) to see her cousins. I secured a sitter for the middle two - I'm not that crazy.

Here's the gang - from left to right are Isaiah and Lillie's great-grandma, great-great-great Aunt Ruth, great-great Aunt Joyce, cousin Ruthann (Ruth's daughter), great-great Uncle Jim (GG's brother, husband to Joyce), cousin Larry (he has the most pretty hair - I don't know if you should call a man's hair pretty - but his is sooo white and its got this curly wave to it...the picture doesn't do it justice!) and his wife Louise. Then you will see Isaiah and Lillie posing with the group to prove they were there :-)

It was a nice visit - a long drive for a lunch I must admit, I'm a little tired, but we were glad that GG could go visit her family (I know they are ours too). Truthfully I don't know these folks very well. So it is a great opportunity to go and get to know them a bit better. The kids did really well, the traveling went smoothly, the food was good and all the cousins were in good health. It was fun to watch them visit and catch up - it was especially fun to watch them try to talk in a low voice about a gal that had just left the restaurant - they had to repeat themselves several times because their low voices were too low for each other to hear! I know, I know, I will be there at some point myself.

We will be trying to make it next month too so that we can also take GG to decorate the family graves in the cemeteries along the way. I think I will probably stick to only taking two children once again, we'll see how brave I become in a month!

6 Wks - 2 days = Lillie

Not quite 6 weeks old, but purtin presenting the many faces of Lillie -

The almost captured smile (a little blurred, sorry)...

The silly look...

The sober look...

The natural bright eyed look...

She's doing great - she is turning the corner on lots of things - more alert, beginning to smile, has relaxed even more, less fussing, and sleeping longer. She'll be growed before we know it. I am trying to breathe everything in before I blink and she isn't a baby any more. It's been a little bittersweet this time around - knowing that she is pretty likely to be our last baby - you love to watch her grow but its hard to let go of that sweet baby stage too.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Whining About Whininess...

It's going to do me in...Huston and his whining. Now I know that Isaiah went through a stage of it too - the constant whiny voice and pouting to get his way. But golly, I think Huston has it down to a science. It comes a lot more naturally for him. My theory is this - as a "middle" child, Huston uses his whining as a manipulation tool - if he looks pathetic and makes a fuss over something than people shall pay attention to him and life shall go his way.

The interesting thing is that aside from a worn down moment with his older brother this method really doesn't work too well. The whining just makes me that more determined that he will not get his request. I have tried to be consistent in dealing with it, and feel that for the most part I have succeeded in being consistent, but I do not see any improvement in the situation. Any suggestions? Am I missing something? Maybe.

I need to just hang in there right. I remember when Huston first moved into a big boy bed he got out of it every night. I would go to the door tell them goodnight and say, "Huston, stay in bed." He would nod in agreement and I wouldn't even make it all the way down the hall before he was out again. This happened multiple times every night and Steven was being done in with this particular behavior. I remembered he thought that there had to be some other punishment that would convince him to obey...I told him that we just needed to be consistent...and the determination of our part paid off - gradually he stopped hopping out of bed every night.

I am ready for the gradual disappearance of the whining. Bring it on, I want my old sweet Huston back. I could blame the arrival of the baby, but the problem was here long before that - though it does only seem to be getting worse. He is just plain rude many times, but I remembered something else just a couple of days ago - something I am not doing with him that I did with Isaiah - I backed it all up with Scripture. Most every time I corrected, I gave Isaiah the verse that back up mommy's argument/point. It took the problem off of me - he was no longer disobeying just mom, he was disobeying God, and you might not think and 3-4 year old would "get" that or care about it, but it really brought it home for him.

Well, I did the Scripture thing and I put vinegar in Isaiah's mouth when he talked ugly....haven't done that with Huston either because I totally scarred Isaiah on any food item that may have vinegar in it or smell of it. I'm amazed he likes pickles. So anyway - I will begin to do this discipline thing a little more correctly and hopefully we will see some progress - wish us luck, we'll need it or one of us will not survive.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Random Answers #7

Here is the promised continuation of the Random Questions series put on by RK. The topic for this one is food - a subject I am always thinking about it seems...

Here are the questions:
1. What does a typical evening meal look like at your house? (Be honest!)

2. What is your idea of a "healthy meal" if you were going to aim for that specifically?

3. What food(s) do you like now that you wouldn't have believed would be in that category 10 years ago?

4. Tell me about one of your best "food memories." (Maybe a date, or event, or just a great meal.)

5. If you have kids, what do your kids like that surprises you? What would they pick for their favorite meal?

6. If you had to give up two items from your personal menu, what would you miss the most?

A typical meal at our house consists of me cooking something - we have a variety of stuff that I choose from, but like most moms that must come up with meal after meal, I find that we often fall into a bit of a rut. The main meat we use is chicken...the main grain is boys are like their father - they could eat rice and or pasta most every day of their life. My cooking has gone through many stages over the years of our marriage. I was an adequate cook going into our marriage, but many of the things I cooked, my husband did not enjoy. So when it was just the two of us I begged to go out many times just to not have the pressure of coming up with a meal that my husband would eat. Over the years we both have changed. I have changed the way I cook - I know now what to avoid, what to dilute, and what to hide (shhh). And Steven has added to his menu options - he did have a lot of stomach problems that have since corrected which has helped in this area a lot - and he also has just become more adventurous in eating. He grew up in a household where his dad is a "simple" eater and his mom is a warmer-upper in the area of cooking. If it doesn't require a zap with the microwave or can be thawed and cooked in the oven then it doesn't get made. So now with those changes and the addition of 4 children, I would now rather stay home and eat than go out with the whole family - the hassle outweighs the luxury of not cooking.

If I had more time to teach myself how to cook with more fresh ingredients and if I had the organization to meal plan I would like to do that to prepare an even more healthy meal for my family. I try to avoid a mostly box and canned meal, but find this is difficult to do in the winter. In the summer I have less problems in using the fresh ingredients to make a healthy meal. We do use a pinch of organic stuff - and use whole wheat more often than not.

Some of my best food memories involve the older couple that lived across the street from me growing up in Illinois. Every time we returned for a visit she (Frances, whom Miss Lillie Frances is named for) would have breakfast coffee cake made from her sour dough starter that she received in 1969! a variety of fresh baked pies, ham or cheese salad sandwiches for lunch and a yummy dinner of some kind with those brown and serve rolls that you can buy at the store, but always tasted the best at her house. (She made the best pies, hands down) I also love the Thanksgiving holiday - every thing on the menu is yummy (except for that cranberry stuff in the shape of the can and the mushy pumpkin pie) and you are with family without the pressure of gift giving.

A food that is now in my arsenal that I wouldn't have dreamed of 10 years ago....hmmm...maybe some of the vegetarian stuff that we eat sometimes - usually when we go out, cause I don't know how to cook vegetarian...and chinese food - I didn't ever think I would enjoy chinese, but I do for the most part.

My kids surprise me with food at times - Isaiah is becoming more and more picky unfortunately, but when he was smaller he would eat most anything we gave him and went quite a long time before he ate any sort of fast food kids meals. (Not the case these days unfortunately) Huston is our most adventurous eater - he has eaten egg rolls, sauerkraut, red cabbage, mexican stuff, etc. Avery will try things when the mood suits him and is more of a snacker than a meal eater. I don't know what the older ones would choose as their favorite foods - Avery likes breakfast foods - pancakes, waffles, cereal and cereal bars, etc.

Man give up two things....hmmm....chicken probably would be difficult cause we use it a lot and I like chicken....and bread cause that is my weakness - that's why I don't have a bread machine and refuse to learn how to make homemade bread cause I would just sit there and eat it all the time.

So there are my responses - I wish I ate healthier than I do - I know that is something I could change, but I crave too many unhealthy things at this point and the task of not craving them anymore seems too overwhelming :-) Wish I could fall in love with some sort of exercise to counter balance the unhealthy cravings more often!


The 2-yr old in our family has a nasty habit of finding toothbrushes that have been left within his reach and dipping them into the toilet. (That would be Avery) The older potty trained boys in our family have the nasty habit of never flushing their toilet (That would be Isaiah and Huston). Do you see where this is leading? Yep, the two yucky habits converged (once again) this morning and guess who will be getting a new toothbrush? (That would be probably all the brothers, because hard telling who else got their brush dunked beside Isaiah). Bummer...I had just bought those things too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The "C" Words

I've been mulling this over in my head for awhile now. I think adding Lillie to the mix of daily responsibilities has once again brought these thoughts to the surface of my mind. The "C" words I am referring to are "comparisons" and "contentment."

Naturally everyone wants to look at Lillie and "compare" her to past Spellman know, the obvious question of who does she look like, which child does she remind you of, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that type of comparison - its fun to reminisce about the boys being that newborn age and see how far they have come; to see what we have already learned in the still beginning stages of this hopefully long journey of raising them. It has just brought up the subject of comparing to the forefront. One of the things I have learned is that I usually hate comparisons.

I've been trying to figure out why I hate them - and maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I truly dislike them very greatly. It is hard to fully describe my feelings for them. I think I have determined that what bothers me is that they usually lead to discontentment. From the moment a child is born it seems that its parents fall into the habit of comparing the child to his/her peers. For the most part this can be harmless - but that is Satan's way isn't it? Him tempting us into a destructive habit by making it seem harmless...or maybe it's more about our sinful nature - our minds taking us down that bend in the road that is already ingrained within us and easy to take. Now, I'm not saying that all comparisons are sinful, but for me when a fellow parent starts to laundry list all the things that their little Johnny can accomplish it can begin to make me feel inadequate, or worse it makes me think that my child is inadequate. I then do not feel content with where God has me or my family. It is usually just the beginning of a slippery slope.

I've gotten better with this - now when someone starts to list all the things their child can do I can usually smile and listen and not have to then tell them what my kids can do or feel bad if my child is somewhere behind that parent's standard. I am trying to learn to be content - like Paul said in Philippians - cause this comparison thing is not something I want to "teach" to my children through example.

Cause really this game will spill over into the grown-up side of life and really in the end can wreck havoc on us spiritually speaking - and it goes beyond just keeping up with the Joneses. I have even begun to detect the negativity of comparisons even within my attitude during the everyday things of my life - if something doesn't quite go the way that I have planned it I can be pretty good at constantly thinking of how things could have been, pouting and having a pity party about how things are now different instead of just dealing with what is put before me. That applies in many areas of my life that I might be dissatisfied I not satisfied simply because I'm comparing my life to the wrong source? God doesn't want me to be like everyone else - He wants me to be the person He created me to be and to live out the plan that He puts before me.

This gets me back to comparing know I still slip up - and unfortunately I mostly play the "dangerous" game between my own children. Isaiah especially - usually I use it to show him that a few of the faults he has do not seem to plague his brothers and they, for goodness sake, are younger than he is. All this accomplishes is shaming him and also teaches him to compare himself to the wrong standard. I am teaching him to compare himself to others instead of teaching him to evaluate if he is where God wants him to be. As an adult when I fall into a trap of sin one of the first things I want to do is compare myself to the people around me...make sure I'm not the worst person out there - when really I should only be comparing myself to Christ, cause he is the only true standard of goodness. Thankfully, I occasionally do things the right way too so it all balances out and Isaiah isn't totally damaged from my lazy, crazy days of bad parenting.

"Share each others troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You really are a nobody. Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct." Galatians 6:2-5

I want to be able to share things with others without getting "me" mixed up into it. Sharing things with one another without feeling its a competition. I don't like being around folks who have to add on to what I have shared in their effort to top it - nor do I want to become that kind or person. I also don't like leaving a conversation with a fellow parent feeling inadequate in some way. So I am trying to choose to be content more often, to just deal with the stuff before me and not worry about the path of the other guy. Whew, that's hard work...

I Love You Big Brother

and he loves you too, Lillie...

We Survived

This has been one of the crazier weekends of recent memory. Lots of family, lots of hurry up and wait, lots of go here then go there type stuff. Lillie fussed the whole weekend - couldn't really figure out what the problem was - probably a combination of too many people, too much traveling, and too many meals on the go and not enough down time at home. Here are some pictures - I will have to find some time to post about some other things later - I feel a little swamped in house work, family work and work work.

Here are the most super delicious cakes in all of the bakery world...thanks to a friend of a friend (RK!) Julie made the most yummy things of the weekend festivities. They were for my brother-in-laws wedding reception. I got a picture of the cakes as you see below - but those are all the pictures I took! No bride and groom at the reception pictures! I was visiting, getting stuff together, parenting, or working in my office at the church so Lillie could get some quiet sleep in the "office bed." Don't worry there were plenty of family photographers gathered around them.

My husband - who is not a sweets eater and is never really tempted by them - said that her pecan cake was the best cake he had ever tasted. That is some high praise indeed.

Then we went to Steven's folks house where the whole family gathered...

We had Steven's Grandpa, Uncle Doug and Aunt Vicki, Uncle Jerry and Aunt Mary, cousin Melissa, and Uncle Jay and Aunt Connie with us - then there was his mom and dad, and brother Daniel with new wife Carol...quite a group.

Then the next day we went to church - my first working Sunday since Lillie joined us - then home where the Iowa family dropped by to say good-bye, then naps for some and back to the in-laws to say good-bye to the Nebraska relatives.

Avery did get some outside time in on Sunday while Huston and Lillie napped - he refused his nap...a decision that would catch up with him (and us) later...

He didn't like daddy's idea of tree climbing too much...spring has finally sprung around here - we have yet another bird that has decided to use our abandoned outside candle holder as a nest - its neat because it is right outside the front window so we can watch them really closely and easily - but its not so "neat" because birds make a pretty nasty you can see on our now ruined candle holder. This bird just finished feathering the nest a couple of days ago...and the other picture is of our vinca that has bloomed.

It all caught up with Lillie yesterday - she slept most of the day (and slept just fine that night too)...

So there is a condensed version of our big weekend - I could write way too much information - I will spare you the details and just end with saying that we are glad these kind of weekends only come once in a great while. Gotta go - was planning to post this last night, but husband got to the pc first - so I've neglected my kids long enough - hard telling what they're getting into :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lots O' Stuff

That's what has been going on around here - none of it really outstandingly interesting - just enough to keep us busy. First I will comment on a few various thoughts...

1. Vacuum cleaners - what is it about the sound of a vacuum that sooths a fussy newborn yet scares a toddler out of their mind? I placed Lillie in her bassinet (which is in the living room) and she was fussing herself to sleep. I had to vacuum the area rug - it was full of bits of crackers and cereal and whatever else the boys were eating for snacks and also sand - the never ending remnants of sand that make their way in from the sandbox. So I flipped on the vacuum and in doing so I totally flipped off the fuss. She quieted immediately and closed her eyes. I remember one of the families I used to babysit for in high school told me the story of how the dad burned a "hole" in their rug from leaving the vacuum on to quiet their fussy baby. I think this an amazing phenomenon.

2. You may have read a couple of posts back that Mr. Huston has a routine conversation with me every night...tonight it changed, instead of telling me I'm a "nice" or "sweet" mommy, I became a "cute" mommy. Well, I must say I am flattered and I assume that isn't a reflection of my grumpy behavior today (especially toward his whining).

Why am I tired and therefore grumpy? Well, because Avery has both ears infected. Took him to the dr today because he has not. slept. at. all. the last few nights. Ever since the bout with sickness he experienced this winter he hates the drs office and all the things connected with it. So needless to say it was a very rough visit today. Not only did the dr have to look into his ears, he ended up having to clean them out before he could look - they were so full of wax. It took two people (me being one of them) to hold him down and we could have used a third pair of hands. In the end the event bloodied one of his ears and it took him all morning to calm down from the experience. But we got what we needed and so it can only get better from here.

Tuesday night a couple of my friends from church threw a baby shower for Lillie. It was a lot of fun and I took my camera but never got it out of the purse. I am terrible. But here are some pictures of Lillie in her new Bumbo seat that she received from our friends (she's got her face on in these pictures). She likes it, but as you can see - she needs to get a little bit stronger in order to really enjoy it. Pretty soon she will be wearing her Baby Legs and sitting in her Bumbo seat and looking almost as cute and stylish as her friend Braska Bear. (She gave us the Baby Legs - her good mommy helped a little :-)

And she better get strong fast cause her big brother has his eye on it...

Now the outfit that Lillie is wearing in these photos is the one my mom put me in when she brought me home from the hospital - I almost waited too long to put it on her - but here she is modeling it for you...

And here she is getting mad at her mommy for making her model...

The older boys have been entertaining themselves a lot the last couple of days as I have dealt with the younger ones - feel guilty about that at times, but they really seem to enjoy themselves so I must not be harming them too badly. They have been playing with all the cool stuff Huston got at his party and they have spent A LOT of time in the backyard. Here they are playing with the game "Rush Hour" - I wish I would have done a movie instead cause they were pretty funny - they would take turns and the one that was waiting became the cheerleader and they were singing silly songs to each other as motivation. They are such good brothers - they genuinely like each other...

So that has been a little taste of what's been going on. Steven is on a short business trip tonight so I am hoping for some good sleep. Wish me luck! ;-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The two older boys were huddled around their sister this morning, Isaiah said, "Wow, she sure grows fast." And Huston said, "Yeah, and look, she has her face on." I think he meant that she was alert...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Party is Over

Thank goodness. Now I am beginning to understand why parents will fork out several hundred dollars to a business so that they may just show up with their child and have all the details laid out before them concerning their child's party. Saturday was a little crazy and I would hate to think of how it would have turned out if I hadn't scaled the party back even further than I had initially planned. Past parties for my kids have always looked like the following...invite all the family (even the extended family from Iowa), hope a good majority of them show up, have the house decorated to go with the chosen theme of the party, have a snacky/finger food type spread on the table followed by cake and presents of course. The only exception to this formula was Isaiah's 4th birthday, because Avery was only 4 days old at that party and so we reserved a room at a restaurant and had the majority of the party there.

I had planned to use that sure-fire formula for Huston's party - I knew the Iowa folks would not make it cause they'll be on their way here for next weekend's wedding reception party, but I thought that since we would have a smaller gathering of guests I could totally follow the formula and have a great party. Then the weather came - yucky cold, cloudy and even a few snow flurries - not the weather I had hoped for. We were having 4 male cousins under the age of 5 coming to add to our group - outside time was a necessity or my house would not survive it. So on Friday night I scrapped the meal plan - we would go to Burger King, let the brood of children play in the playplace and eat a burger and then go to our house for the cake, and that's what we did, and I am so glad.

Avery was a huge bundle of fit yesterday. He was just not feeling good. Steven had a headache. I had been up all night Friday night with either Avery, Lillie or throwing up (thanks to Isaiah for sharing his 18-24 hour flu). Right before the party was to start Avery was throwing a fit and Lillie was throwing up half her bottle all over her cute little "party" sleeper I had her in. I was really ready to just pick up the phone and tell everyone to forget it. How do you shower one child with love and attention on their birthday without making a huge commitment of time and fuss? When you all have a suggestion or answer let me know. I love making a big deal over the birthday child...we don't do very much on Christmas or Easter because the emphasis is to be on the proper reason for those seasons. But birthdays to me are a celebration of their life. So I want to make it a big deal, but I don't want to make it a stressful day where I am totally not paying attention to the child because I have so many "to-dos" to take care of. More on this in a future post - its something I have been trying to figure out for quite awhile now...

Anyway I think it was just a flooky instance because multiple people in our family was out of sorts. Past birthdays have never been so crazy to prepare for so I doubt that simply the added responsibilities of the addition of Lillie made this party that much more stressful. So anyway here are some pictures of the event. We did have fun (well maybe Lillie didn't in the end - too much going on, I had a very over stimulated baby girl by the time the party was over, but she went to sleep after everyone left and survived it all too).

The birthday boy with his cake...

The middle of the big cake has Huston written in the spiderweb and the small cake has the number 4...ala Charlotte's Web style (thought those words would be more appropriate than "some pig" or "radiant")

The cousins, minus Avery, at the Burger King play place...Avery stayed with G.G. this portion of the party cause he was such a total tired ball of grumpiness. If we could splice these two photos together I think we would have a good shot of each of them.

Uncle Daniel and Aunt Carol with the birthday boy and their new baby niece that they hadn't yet met...

Uncle Jason wanting a hug from Avery, who was refusing, and what Avery thought about that...he did go and give him a hug later...

Huston with his birthday booty (as in pirate, not the vulgar definition)...he got a lot of outside toys and a lot of spiderman stuff...what else could a boy want?

And one last cutie picture of my nephew Dillon - he's a funny guy - and our living room today, the day after the party...believe it or not we've already hauled a bit of stuff out.

Anybody want to come clean my house and figure out where to store all this new stuff? Didn't think so.