Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ms. Phyl

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17

It is embarrassing to admit how often I have known the things that I should do for people and think of ways to help and bless others and never follow through. I can blame the fact that I have little ones still at home, I can blame the obligations of work and home, but in reality most of the time, the things I think of are doable - its just getting out there to do them - carving out time in my day to think of the people around me.

Case in point, this weekend my husband received a call from an elderly lady from our church (I won't tell you how old she is yet) - he helps her with odd jobs and does her yard work when called upon. She needed some leaves raked up on Saturday and asked Steven if he was available for the job. Well, Ms. Phyl (her given name is Phillie) had not yet heard that Miss Lillie had arrived and so Steven filled her in on the details. After getting off the phone with her, he called me at my folks house - I had just returned from running errands and mom was watching Lillie for me - he told me he was heading to Phyl's and he suggested that I swing by for a visit and let Phyl meet Lillie. So many times I think of going to visit Phyl or even to just call her and check on her and I hardly ever follow through with the plan. Mom decided to come with us on the visit and here are a few shots of the two ladies together...



Ms. Phyl held onto Lillie for well over an hour! She kept cradling her in her arms and looking down at her and just smiling and almost giggling over her. She couldn't get over how "dainty" Lillie was and cooed over her long fingers and dark hair and just totally ate her up. That little visit did wonders for all involved. Lillie was totally relaxed and just slept peacefully in Ms. Phyl's arms, Ms. Phyl thoroughly enjoyed the baby fix, and I left feeling like that I helped give a little bit of a lift to her day - it was mostly Lillie's company that accomplished that though...

Ok, now I will tell you how old our Ms. Phyl is - do you want to take a guess first? I'll give you a moment.......are you ready? She's 101 - she'll be 102 in late October. She doesn't look a day over 80 does she? :-)

Friday, March 28, 2008

What a Novel Idea!!

The other day Huston, Avery, Lillie and I were getting ourselves ready to go do some errands. I didn't have my biggest helper, Isaiah, around, but Huston was taking on the role of helper quite well. The morning had him helping to calm Lillie, playing "go-fer" for mommy, and trying to help keep track of Avery. But the ultimate help came when we were loading up in the van...I had sent Huston and Avery on ahead while I finished up packing a few things away and getting Lillie strapped into her car seat. I get to the van with Lillie to find that Huston had gotten Avery clicked into his seat belt and was in the process of getting himself strapped in too. I commented what a great big help this was and how he was such a great big brother. To which he responded with his trademark Huston enthusiasm..."Hey Mom, you know what I am going to start doing?" I answered him, "No Huston, what are you starting to do?" He then replied, "I am going to start listening to you." It took all I could to totally not laugh in his face at this information. I tell you what, that is certainly a novel idea!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Life with Baby - Week One

Lillie ready for her first outing - going to Easter services...


I can't believe a week has passed already...isn't it funny how time seems to stand still when you are anxiously awaiting an event and then once it is here and gone, time just slips away from you. Lillie is doing really well - the boys are doing really well, a bit emotional (Huston's whining and crying is about to do me in) but all in all everyone is adjusting smoothly. Lillie spent her one week birthday in the drs office for her one week check-up. She is already back to birth weight, and everything else checked out perfectly. The dr. asked if we were getting any sleep at our house and I told him that we really aren't doing too bad. I was up more with Avery last night than I was with Lillie - Avery has never been a good sleeper. Lillie had a bottle at 9:00 then slept until 2:00 and then until almost 7:00 this morning. Pretty good, I am certainly not complaining! She no longer wants to have awake time during the night - she is heading down the right roads.

The boys have been super. The other question the dr asked me yesterday was if the boys still liked her. I told him that even Avery seems to really be glad that the "baby sister" is around. He thought that was quite amazing. Isaiah is still the very protective and sometimes an "overwhelming" big brother. He absolutely loves her, he loves her outfits, he loves to nuzzle her and talk to her and help her in anyway he can - sometimes he's on the verge of overstimulating her, it took a good portion of the first half of the week to convince him that babies this young do not want to be constantly touched and loved on. Huston is not as demonstrative in his affections toward her, but shows no ill will toward her either. He enjoys helping me too and is very proud of himself when he plays the big brother role. He speaks of her sweetly, and wants to hold her once in awhile, but basically he just goes on with his day and gives her some space. Avery comes to sit next to me when I am holding Lillie quite often and gently puts his cheek up against hers and then pops up to say "baby sister hug" - yesterday as I was getting her into her car seat and packing some things away for the the dr. visit, Lillie started to fuss. Avery went over to her and gently rocked the car seat and then patted her head and said to her "it ok, no cry" - I was shocked. I was pleased too, he was the one that I was most concerned for, but he seems to be ok with his new role. I have been trying to make special efforts to give some focused time to each big brother, and the boys also do a good job of loving on and taking care of each other too.

Today the kids were watching a Veggie Tales about baby Moses and Miriam. The theme was about having compassion for the new baby in the family (we've had this dvd for quite awhile, the theme was just a coincidence). At one point in the show the Miriam character said that she wanted a dog, but she got a baby instead and that was pretty disappointing to her. Isaiah heard that and said, "Are you kidding, a baby is more fun than a dog!" I think that is pretty high praise coming from a six year old boy!










Monday, March 24, 2008

Random Answers #6


Here they are...and the theme is random :-)

1. How's your closet? Do you use all the same kind of hangers? Wire, plastic, or wood? Do you hang everything in the same direction, like all shirts facing the same way?

2. Are you a channel flipper or a commercial watcher? OR do you get up and do a quick task during commercials? OR are you a DVR addict who never watches a commercial because you never watch shows as they actually air?

3. Have you ever looked at your house after a holiday and truly debated just packing a suitcase and walking away?

4. How do you keep your kids, especially the under 2 crowd, calm during long road trips? Ever considered a "travel nanny"?

5. Do you notice typos in other blogs, articles, or even handwritten notes or cards? Or let your brain skim the text for the concept and skip the details of spelling and grammar?

My closet is hodgepodge - I used to try to keep everything organized on color coded plastic hangers but...well as we have added children and as the husband has taken over the wash the hanger coordination has fallen apart...now we have wire and plastic and cheapo and whatever Steven can find to hang stuff on. He line dries all of the clothes and especially in the winter that means that everything is stuck on a hanger and hung downstairs to dry...so you never know what your going to find or what it will be stuck on.

I tend to sit fixated to the commercials when I am at the folks houses...I don't know why that is. If I have control of the remote I tend to flip around at times...but I think for the most part I just sit and watch or go get a drink and stuff. At home it's all dvd viewing and of course I skip the previews and all the junk at the beginning!

After a holiday? I look at my house like that almost everyday :-) Seriously, I have to really motivate myself to get through all the dishes and junk and little toys and papers and crayons and laundry, etc. that this crew can generate in a few days...but the funny thing is, after I get going and get everything sorted and straightened, more and more with the help of the boys, I sit down after its all done and realize that it doesn't take that much time to "de-clutter" everything again. It is the mounds of it staring you in the face that makes me think the task in impossible, but the mounds usually are pretty manageable in the long run. Now the deep cleaning part - that's a totally different subject!

Frequent breaks in travel help the kids during the long trips - even if it's just getting out to run in a park or get a drink at a gas station. The under 2 crowd is the hardest to entertain for sure - because they really can't do many things for themselves and they are strapped down for so long...movies help, but even then they can get boring after a time. Snacks help, but then there is always a mess to deal with afterwards. Traveling with grandparents help in this category too, but the downside is that you have to travel with grandparents :-) meaning that the grandma-itis is constantly rearing its ugly head. So the answer is to drug them with benedryl - just kidding!

I notice typos at times - I do tend to notice mistakes in my own stuff more than I notice it in somebody else's, but there are many times I will read a paragraph of my writing after several proofs and notice a misspelled word or something that I totally didn't see before. So I guess I'm not a very good proofer after all...

Lessons Learned

***Before you get started be forewarned that this might be a long story. Some people are interested in all the details of your "labor experience" while others just want to see that everyone survived...this post in somewhere in the middle - I won't go into gory detail, but I might go a little longer than some would prefer! :-) *** We are truly adjusting quite well with baby Lillie coming into the family. I haven't really had the experience of being all on my own with all of the children as of yet - the closest I have come to that was Sat. morning when Steven had a morning meeting that pretty much ended up taking all morning...he didn't get home until a bit after lunch and by that time I was about ready to cry along with the baby. But we made it and it really wasn't that bad, just a bit stressful when I was still so sore after the delivery.

The biggest lesson I have learned through this major life transition is that I am not alone! Thank the Lord. It has been so comforting and so affirming to hear of all the people that had been praying for us, especially on Wed. morning when I was induced. I was pretty anxious about the whole process. I mentioned this before, but I totally knew too much about it - I knew what would hurt, what was just plain gross, and how much all of these things just added up to an experience I would rather avoid. I am not a medical person, really pretty much want to stay away from yucky bodily stuff so knowing what was coming was hard for me to put out of my mind.

The morning started out kind of rough - I didn't get a wink of sleep the night before. I did begin contractions that night; they were never that hard, a few were, but they were consistent. So that kept me awake to just stew and go over things in my mind over and over. I of course just tried to relax and pray things through, but for the most part I was just restless. Then I didn't eat any breakfast because my stomach was tied up in knots with anxiety so I walked into the hospital exhausted and they said the baby was "sleepy" because I hadn't had breakfast they determined. The nurse tried to put my IV in and it was a difficult stick (I almost fainted on that one) and I thought "great, this is not the way I had hoped this morning would go" - at about 8:00 that morning they broke my water and I started the pitosin process. (I have no idea how you spell that drug, I just know that it is nasty stuff!)

Well it took about an hour or so but the pain really started to become strong and then stronger...no real breaks from it to rest through - felt like I had to breathe through some of the "down time" as well as the contractions. It took a lot of concentration and focus and I was just too tired. I really didn't want the epidural, and the reason is? Well I didn't need it with Isaiah and the labor was not difficult - I was able to handle it. I didn't get one with Huston (based on the Isaiah experience) and I was in total mind-blowing pain at the end (although it was still fast). Then with Avery all I could think of was the mind-blowing pain and opted for the epidural, well based on my experience this time around, I must have gotten Avery's epidural too late - cause I still felt stuff and I still hurt! So with those past experiences weighed, I laid there and suddenly remembered something my friend Pam said (an experienced mother of 5) - she said she got the epidural simply so she could rest...well that was definitely what I needed so I told the nurse to bring it on.

The nurse checked me after the epidural and I was at a 6. So I laid back and waited. Slowly I felt less and less pain until I didn't even know when a contraction was happening. The nurse eventually comes in and says "It's been almost and hour, let me check you to see how far we have to go..." She checks, then looks at me and says, "let's have this baby" I thought "What! You've got to be kidding me." I felt nothing! So they quickly got the room transformed and the dr was paged and we waited for him. And we waited...the nurse discovers the page had not gone through and paged a second time - he was there in no time, but let me tell you - if I didn't have those drugs that "in no time" would have turned into FOREVER! While we were waiting the scrub nurse asked the labor and delivery nurse if they should go ahead and have me push through a couple of contractions while we were waiting for the dr. to make it. The nurse said no...in hindsight that was God too, cause when the dr came he got ready and sat down to help me through the next contraction and that's all it took. Lillie came out in 1 1/2 pushes. She came out with the cord wrapped around her neck twice! and had shown no signs of distress on the monitors - her heart rate was always good and some of the other signs that babies give that they are in distress never occurred. They were all pretty surprised (God again I am positive). She rated well and was strong and crying the moment she came out. Looking back, I wonder if that is one of the reasons why she looked "a little sleepy" - it still could have been my lack of breakfast.

Since she has arrived we have been checked on and congratulated by so many. We don't have to cook any meals this week due to caring church folks and luckily the church office is closed the Monday after easter to give the ministers a bit of a refresher after the busy church holiday, so my mom came over this morning to lend a hand and cleaned my badly neglected floors and then took a couple of the kids so I could catch a nap this afternoon. It is so comforting to know that I am not alone in this life experience and to realize that I would not be alone in any major life happening that came our way. God is good, he totally showed me that once again through all of this. It just increases my faith that much more for the next thing that might pop around the corner....but let me just tell you that "next thing" - if it's up to me - will not be a baby! :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Introducing...


Lillie Frances Spellman
8 lbs. 20 1/2 in. long
born March 19, 2008 at 11:48am
She's got hair!! and the longest eyelashes you have ever seen!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here We Go...

Feels like I'm on that part of the roller coaster when you are climbing the hill slowly and your feeling all the little chinks in the tracks as it pulls you to the top and tomorrow morning when we crest the hill, all I can do is throw my hands up in the air (or hold on with white knuckles) and try to enjoy the ride.

We go in at 6:00am to start the labor process...a little history...started labor on my own a bit with my firstborn the night before scheduled induction - walked in at 7:00am and had him at 11:27am...did not have any signs of labor with my second born, went to be induced and they had a bit of trouble getting the ball rolling with him - walked in at 7:00am and had him by 1:14pm...had no signs of labor with the third one - walked in to be induced at 7:00 am and had him by 12:12pm. So of course I am praying for similar results with this labor - like a morning only labor and then an afternoon of getting to know Miss Lillie. We will see - I am trying not to think about it too much - I don't want to go in with huge expectations that will lead to disappointments, and I also don't want to go in dwelling on the pain and the negatives of the past and psych myself out during the labor process...so -

Please pray if you read this in time -
-for a clear and focused mind on my part
-for a safe and healthy delivery with no complications
-for the boys to be excited and well side-tracked/entertained during the anxious times of their mom being in the hospital
-that we are all able to handle whatever comes before us tomorrow morning...

I will talk to you on the other side of delivery - and hopefully armed with pictures of our easter Lillie...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Final Stretch...

Hard to believe that by this time next week we should have a new little one in our house...the countdown is on - Wednesday morning for sure, I've given up hope that it could be sooner. Which really is fine, cause I have too many loose ends to tie up. Ever work ahead to get yourself prepared for something and think that everything is pretty much on track, only to realize that really time is slipping away and your pace turned out to be a little slower than it should have been? Well, I'm kind of at that spot now - I say "kind of" cause it isn't really anything major, just a lot of little things - and if they have to wait, they can wait.

My husband willingly moved stuff around (my mom helped him with some of the bigger furniture) to where I preferred it to go - freeing up some space in the living room for some baby essentials - like that magical swing! That makes my mind feel at ease now about baby sisters arrival - no major things to be done when we get back from the hospital. Here is a picture of kooky Avery crawling into the empty drawers of one of the cabinets that I was having moved...if you click on the one on the right you can see the cheezy smile that Avery if giving for his "pitcher" -











The boys seem to be getting more and more excited and less anxious which is very nice to see. We are trying to keep them busy, keep them in their routine plus some fun play dates and such while I am in the hospital. We've farmed them out some, Steven will take some work time off to keep them some, they will stay with family some...a little bit of everything. Isaiah is very excited, drawing his sister pictures and wanting to help me with everything. He is very sensitive to the needs of his family members - he is a great big brother.

My brother-in-law will be married by this time next week too. My in-laws will be able to spend a few hours with their new granddaughter on Wednesday before they need to head to the city to catch the plane to Honduras - they are very excited of course, we all are...and Tio Daniel and Tia Carol will be able to come stateside to see all of us in early April. We have a reception for them, a birthday party for Huston, a baby shower for Lillie, and a wedding shower for one of my good friends all coming up in April - it should be a fun and busy month! So I am slowly plugging away at all of these upcoming events (really not many of the responsibilities fall on me, so it's do-able) and before I know it April will be over.

So we will continue to keep you posted...should have some fun pictures for you soon. It may be quiet here for a few days, but we will catch you up very soon - maybe I can post some pictures from the hospital using my folks' laptop - or assign someone to do it for me - we will see.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ahhh, Spring

Yet another beautiful day today...makes the roller coasters of temps and weather a lot more bearable when you have days like today scattered in there more often. The boys and I went outside this afternoon and it was really so very nice. We all pretty much stayed right there together...sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and the most fun of all - digging for worms out of the flower bed. Here are some pictures and a little film of Avery and the worms - he loves creepy crawlies of any kind - he will be my no fear outside adventurer I think. Maybe he will give Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild a run for his money - or maybe not...

Disclaimer **no worms were injured in the filming of this movie - although it seems like Avery is about to stretch the life out of one as I stop the camera, be assured the worm was saved in the last and is now living happily in the dirt once again**

video


And yes, Avery and Huston are playing in their pajamas in the middle of the afternoon...they had no where to go this morning (a sitter came to watch them as Isaiah and I went out to a play date) so they had a pajama day - and let me just tell you that those jammies had never seen the level of dirt that they ended up acquiring today...but who will ever notice after a good cycle in the laundry, right?

The dirt adventures....


The prizes that awaited....


Sitting and visiting....


Sidewalk chalk....



Bubbles....


Almost makes you wish everyday was a spring day huh - but then we wouldn't appreciate the magic of them would we. What fickle people we are! :-)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Random Answers #5

Here's the line-up for this round...

Round 5--Travel! It's almost springtime, and we're all thinking about where we'd like to go for a little R & R.

1. Do you prefer traveling by car, train, plane, or boat?

2. Are family vacations or yearly vacations of some kind a part of your regular schedule? Where are some places you've gone?

3. What's your favorite travel memory? Maybe a trip as a kid, road trip in college, honeymoon? Could be good OR bad...

4. Have you ever traveled in the back seat of a station wagon, like the old kind that faced backward?

5. Where to you hope to go this year or the next chance you get?

We love to take family vacations - and really haven't stopped as we have added children...both Steven and I love to travel around - even if its just short trips and we usually try to take the roads less traveled - avoiding the superhighways that bypass the countryside when the time will allow it. The major mode of transportation is by car - and for the most part I don't mind the car rides - the thing I do mind is the piles and piles of junk and trash that accumulate in the vehicle as you log on the miles. No matter how well I think I have packed all the stuff it eventually all gets pulled out and thrown around or stuffed in other places. When Isaiah was still a free plane ticket we traveled by plane a couple of times for our vacation and I didn't mind it a bit - but right now the price is just too high, although if the gas prices continue in this trend it may end up being a wash!

We usually go on a pretty good sized trip in the fall - around Sept. when the summer vacationers have returned to school and work and the touristy areas are not so touristy. These past couple of years the trips have involved a little bit of everything - tent camping, motel staying of various rates and luxuries, etc. it's a way to save some money and get lots of different experiences at the same time - when you spend $15 for a night's stay at a campground and average that with $100 bucks somewhere else for a night, it really comes out to be pretty reasonable. The last couple of years we have explored the "northern/mid-west regions of the US - Wisconsin (absolutely beautiful country) and South Dakota this last fall - went to the Black Hills and saw beautiful areas there as well as Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and of course Wall Drugstore.
We also sometimes try to take a short trip at the Feb/March time to break up the winter blahs - this trip is a little more hit or miss though...

My favorite trip memory from when I was younger was probably the month long haul we took as a family in '85 (traveling to the NACC, RK!). We went south from IL, hit along the coastline into TX, then into CA for a convention up to WA to see friends and then over through some of the northern states to get to WI to see some more family and head back south to home...I remember spam sandwiches eaten too many times in rest areas, my parents drugging me so I wouldn't get car sick and puke all over the back seat (again), I also remember some of the major US sites we saw...Carlsbad Caverns, the redwoods of CA, the beaches, the white sands of New Mexico, the Grand Canyon (I'm not in many of the family pictures of this experience though cause I was in a drug induced sleep in the back of the car), Mt. Rainier, the Las Vegas strip and being so terribly hot at Hoover Dam that the bottoms of my feet were burning through the soles of my shoes...the list really goes on and on. I think this is really one of the first family vacations that I can really remember well too - like I can remember more than just a visual snippet, I can remember experiencing things...

Another memory I have is the trip that Steven and I made to Costa Rica to visit his brother who was living down there at the time. It was before kids, and my first international travel experience and we basically had our own personal tour guide to take us around and show us the country (a native friend of my brother-in-law). It is an absolutely gorgeous country and we would love to return there someday - sooo much to see there.

We never had a station wagon - one of my friends had the kind your talking about though and I remember thinking it was pretty cool, but I didn't have to endure it for any lengthy trip either! We did have a little subaru hatchback and there were a few times that I was put in the back cargo area to make room for other passengers, but again I remember it being for short durations and it being kind of a fun adventure at the time....

It's funny, cause Steven and I were just talking about traveling and throwing out ideas for the upcoming year or two...I think we will lay low and explore MO a little bit more this year since we will have a young baby -- probably head to the Elephant Rock and Johnson Shut-ins area...but maybe in the winter of 2009 we might try an extended Amtrak trip just to say we've done the train thing. Some of the trips look pretty reasonably priced, so it may work. Its fun to plan anyway.

So happy traveling everyone and let me know if you stumble upon any great "must-see" places or "can't beat it" travel deals!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Just so you know...

I'm not in the hospital having this baby...yet. I really hope soon, like before Wednesday when I am scheduled to be induced...I know I am the one that agreed to the induction (my doc suggested it), and by Wednesday if baby sister hasn't decided to come on her own, I know I will be ready to give her eviction papers...but I am totally psyching myself out - after inducing all 3 previous labors, I no longer have the luxury of ignorance about the proceedings, I know too much about the process and am dwelling on the negatives instead of the positives of the past experiences...so prayers for the situation would be greatly appreciated, either for my peace of mind or for the baby to come on her own before we kick her out.

I don't know that I am progressing towards labor too much, but really who can predict when they will go into labor anyway? I have spent the day nesting I believe...cleaned out the flower bed in the front yard, swept, rearranged closets, organized all of the kids books, gathered up all of my maternity clothes - (those suckers will not last long in this house! - anybody need some?), got out some more baby things, did dishes, cooked a couple of meals for future eating, and cleaned the bathrooms...plus still had enough time to nap and hit Sonic happy hour with the boys. Pretty productive day anyway, even if its not official nesting. I want to rearrange my living room in a bad way - haven't gotten the courage to tell Steven though - he's the one that would have to do all the moving and it involves unhooking and rehooking electronic components - something I know nothing about!

Anyway, hope to be able to post some pictures of our new baby very soon...but probably after Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rocks and Water

The perfect combination really if you are a young boy - at least that's the belief of the Spellman household. Today was a beautiful spring day so we all went out for a walk this afternoon on a local trail. A walk is not only a good family exercise that will allow the boys to run off their energies at their own pace, but it could also help me convince baby girl that it's time to meet the outside world - so hopefully there was some benefit to everyone involved. Avery wanted to walk for awhile at first so Isaiah grabbed the stroller for me and he and Huston took off. They would run ahead and then sit on the side of the trail and wait on the pregnant lady and the toddler to catch up.

As you can see the stroller was quite handy - either for its intended use, or for its alternate use - as a chair to wait for the slow people...
















Avery walked along really well - our pace was slow, which is what we both liked and he willingly held my hand so I could keep him out of the way of the other folks using the trail pretty easily. We stopped for some pictures sometimes.

Here are the boys posing for a picture together, one of the last group shots of just the guys before baby sister will enter the family picture...















Avery at one point decided he was tired I guess...he suddenly released my hand walked over to the middle of the trail (luckily no one was needing to pass by us at that particular moment) and laid himself down right in the middle of the road. I was laughing as I took this picture and asked him if he was tired, about that time a runner passed us and commented that Avery's idea looked pretty good to him...


Well, we walked probably a little over 1/2 a mile or so and came across the perfect spot for throwing rocks - now this activity out shines walking any ol' day so we all made our way to the creek bank and spent at least 45 minutes throwing rocks into the water...well, I spent the time taking pictures and sitting on a log, but it was nice to have the break and as you can see the boys sure enjoy it.




























So that was our afternoon, we may just have to repeat it for tomorrow - or find a new activity to do outside, cause the weather man is going to be nice to us again...I love spring, especially after a long and cold winter.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Nice Weekend

These last couple of days were pretty nice, the boys spent 2 nights with Steven's folks - grandma had Friday off of school (I swear our public school children never attend school anymore, I think they get twice the number of days off than I ever remember getting!)...and let me just say that the rotten smell of spoiled children was quite pungent this time around - but they are in detox and everything is fine - and they of course had a great time with grandma, which is what is important.

So what does a full-term pregnant lady do with a house empty of children for a whole Sat? Sleep! I lazed around most of the morning and then finally rallied myself to go out to do some comparison shopping at Sams on some baby essentials - and let me just say Sams on a spring-like Saturday afternoon is a madhouse! But I survived (cause I didn't have children to tag along). Later Steven went to pickup Avery - he had a one night with grandma limit - and so he dropped me off at the antique store to meet my good friend Tammy for one last girls night out before the baby comes. We shopped and ate and talked and had a great time. I got home in time to set my clock forward and get an hour or two of sleep before the contractions started coming every 5-7 minutes...but don't get your hopes up, they promptly quit when the light of day dawned. This is the second time she has done this to me - I say she's a stinker.

Huston came home from grandma's with a low grade fever and Isaiah came home with a grandparent hang-over. So Steven stayed home from church with Huston and in the afternoon all three boys laid down for a nap at once - which is a real rarity these days. I went to a baby shower for a church friend with my mom, then we drove around town in search of a cheap fountain Coke (long story) and finally I spent the evening at home marveling at how our children can seem to be so much bigger after just a couple of days of being away. When did Avery start to talk sooo much? Isaiah and Huston must have added an inch to their heights. Huston is fine, just exhaustion more than sickness and sorry, no pictures - they weren't home to capture, will try to make up for it this week. And very sorry, no baby - yet...hopefully soon though - the 19th for sure. So stay tuned!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Random Answers #4

Let me just say that I am really glad RK is doing this (thanks RK) cause it just gives me a topic to rattle on about - I love to talk to you all, just sometimes I'm at a loss as to what to tell you...so here are the questions of the hour - and remember that you too can respond to these questions - either in my comments area or on your own blog/email:

1. How many TVs are in your home? All hooked up to cable/dish/etc? Have you gone HD?

2. Do you have any VCRs in your house still or are you full DVD?

3. How many computers are in your house? All hooked up to the internet? How many video game systems (i.e. XBOX, Wii, etc.)?

4. What age is ok to have a TV/computer/game system in the child's bedroom?

5. Do you have DVD players in the car?

6. The big one.... Would you be able to take a media/technology break, like a day without? How long could you do it?

We have zero TVs in the house - it started before kids even, we were disgusted with what was being shown on the telly...especially commercials - you could more than likely find a descent program, but often times you didn't know what was going to flash before your eyes during the breaks. We had satellite at that time - sooo many channels and flip, flip, flip nothing to watch. It was actually my husband's idea to push it out and I said Ok. We had an adjustment period where the set was still in the house, but we just never turned it on (I do remember turning it on, checking out 9/11 coverage - that happened right before we booted the set).

I will combine some of the next few questions here...we have no VCR and only one desktop PC that is actually located in the living room. This PC can play dvds for us when we need some down time (more for the kids, than grown-ups at this point...but putting the boys in front of a movie is actually for my benefit most times :-) The pc obviously is internet capable (or I wouldn't be able to talk to you) and we did break down a little over a year ago and upgraded to dsl (I know, we are behind the times...still). We do not own any game systems. Just not anything Steven or myself have ever been into, but Isaiah will play the occasional computer game, but really not very often at all.

The kids, I don't believe, will ever have the TV or computer stuff in their rooms - just because I can only see things going south in the viewing aspect, not improving. We may do like a video monitor type thing that will allow us more control over what comes on the screen. And that really is the issue is with us - control - I just want to be able to protect and educate the kids as long as possible over what is appropriate and what kind of stuff we should be filling ourselves with. I think part of the issue is that I am hyper sensitive to imagery - stuff sticks with me way too long and I am afraid that those tendencies might be within my kids as well. I just don't want them to either continue to have issues over inappropriate things they have seen over the years nor do I want them to be so desensitized to it all that they don't even notice what they are seeing is inappropriate. Steven and I will rent movies on occasion - mostly documentary type stuff (that's Steven's thing, but really there are some really bizarre entertaining ones out there!) but even then 9 times out of 10 I totally regret sitting down to watch what Steven will bring, just because the storyline could be inspiring the acting could be stellar but there is always that inappropriate language or couple of scenes and when the movie is over, that is what is being flashed into my mind over and over again and it just makes me feel awful.

The spring/summer/fallish seasons are so much easier to do without the technology, though. We have struggled this winter with the lack of spring-like breaks in the weather that had been sprinkled among past winters. I was just commenting today that I regret what "tv heads" the kids have been this season - watching their movies while I rest mostly, but I think it was an unusual season for us - yucky weather, pregnant mom, rounds of sickness - all played together to make for a heavy viewing couple/few months. I think in the warmer weather we can go quite a few days and not even realize that we haven't played a movie. There are other things that we can do and more light to do them by. Avery will be the one that will be the hardest to break - Isaiah and Huston can play so independently and find things to busy themselves with. Avery just hasn't reached that developmentally yet, and with another baby entering the family very soon, my time to interact will be limited. The brothers always try to include him, but you know how well 2 year olds "play" - everything is fine as long as they have something that needs to be thrown around or destroyed!

And just so you know we are not a total "no moving pictures" type family. When we go to the folks' houses we sit in front of the TV too - (I still cringe at the commercials!). I would say that it is still easy to "waste time" without a TV. I still procrastinate on stuff, I still piddle with things and avoid what I should be doing. It doesn't eliminate that temptation from our lives, we just find other ways to dawdle.

We do have the dvd players for the car by the way - or did have, they just recently died, but they will be replaced! I know that generations past survived without them, but they weren't legally doomed to be strapped in their chairs for hours on end either...so it just makes for a smoother ride often times and I am all in favor of that!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No Matter...

No matter the day we have had, the punishments that have transpired, the disappointments in the behaviors in either of us, this is the conversation that occurs every night between Huston and myself as I am tucking him into bed...

Me: Good night Huston
Huston: Good night Mommy
Me: I love you...
Huston: I love you too Mommy....Mommy?
Me: Yes Huston?
Huston: You're a nice mommy. Good night.
Me: Thank you - your a nice boy, good night honey, see you in the morning.

Then as I close the door he tells me he loves me again. Now you know just one of the reasons he is called sweet Huston. It's almost embarrassing, cause I can't tell you how many times I don't feel like a nice mommy at the end of the day - I feel more like someone who is trying to tear down her own house. But in spite of that...

Isaiah cannot leave my side without giving me a hug and telling me that he loves me - he wants to help me in so many ways and does very often. I know I can count on him to watch over his younger brothers - if one of them gets hurt, Isaiah is crying right along side of them simply because they are crying. Right now as I discipline Avery more often during the natural testing of the waters that happens around the age of 2-3, Isaiah implores him to do what mom says and I think feels the hurt more than Avery does when a punishment is handed down. Isaiah has often begged me not to punish one of his brothers for a "crime" they have committed...and I can specifically think of one time where he even offered to take the punishment instead.

Avery is his own person, has never really been a snuggler - even as an infant he was not one that you could cuddle with and nap along side...but he has always been so social - very happy to see everyone, talking to them in full conversations before he had a real "word" to say - and I have yet to see him really have stranger anxiety like his brothers have had. He is almost like a loyal pup that will greet you every time you come through the door, no matter how many times you come and go. He always shines a huge smile and gives you that signature Avery "Hi mommy!" And as he goes throughout his day he will suddenly stop what he is in the middle of come over to me and say "Mommy, hug?" I will stoop down and snap him up and he will momentarily bury his little head in my shoulder and then he is off and running again. He also is concerned for his brothers when they are hurt and crying, often times going over to stroke their head and say, "you ok?"

What have I done to reap such good fruit in the lives of my kids? I would say many times, very little...I can be a terrible example in the area of empathy and compassion, my temper can be short and my impatience can also be very quick to rear its ugly head - many times speaking harshly before I know the background of the frustrating situation, and this almost always results in my foot needing to be removed from my mouth. So I learned very early as a parent to pray - one of the first consistent parent prayers that I would mumble over Isaiah as I rocked him to sleep or comforted him after something upsetting, and the one that I continue to be reminded to pray almost every single day - "Lord, supplement my parenting - fill in the gaps, teach them in spite of my own behavior...No matter what I do, pick up the areas I forget, and let them see the consistency that comes only from You." Cause I know that I am going to screw up, and I hate the idea that my screw ups could also lead them to make the same mistakes. So Lord, continue to supplement my parenting and let more of this sweet stuff grow in their lives because I allow You to be their Gardener.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sweet Huston

My sweet Huston, the middle boy (FYI: his name is pronounced like the city Houston, he is named for my favorite great-Aunt Gwendolyn Huston) has now been bit with the yucky sickness that seems to be waylaying the countryside...high fever, very lethargic, no appetite, and occasional urpies...not fun for anyone. He even fell asleep soon after choosing a movie to watch. (that is a strawberry slush from Sonic peeking out next to him...Sonic happy hour is our friend)


Avery on the other hand is suffering from complete orneriness! He must sense his opportunity to wreak havoc on his crippled family unit, cause he has started from the word "go" this morning...throwing fits, climbing the furniture, spraying his drink through 2 1/2 rooms of our house, playing in the toilet, screaming for attention, laughing and playing much louder and more rambunctious than usual - of course on the day that big brother needs some quiet. Here is a pic of him sitting and having his very early dinner right next to brother as he had just dozed off - luckily Huston is pretty much dead to the world around him at this point. Notice he won't even stay still for the picture...


But the piece de resistance was this little activity that he decided to try while I was busy elsewhere. Isaiah has busied himself with coloring ALL day - he has been a real trooper. Avery wanted to color too at one point and Isaiah volunteered to get him started. I said fine and in my mind Isaiah knew to station Avery at the vinyl tablecloth covered table where he too was working. About 10 minutes later I here Isaiah exclaim, "Oh Avery, you don't write on there!" I walk in to this loverly picture from Avery the artist...










Seems that Isaiah had put him at the tall counter - which as you can see is right next to the kitchen wall. You think putting a 6 year old in charge of the situation would have ended with good results...hmmm. So remember the endorsement of the Slick Stix from yesterday's entry, just so there is full disclosure, this is the wall after a bit of scrubbing but not using any chemicals as of yet...


I will tackle it a bit more tonight. Luckily my parents have swept in to save me from the 2 year old factor and have taken the brothers out of the home to hopefully keep me from losing my mind and to protect them from getting whatever it is that has a hold on Huston. By the way, I'm not that mad/sad about the wall - I have never been satisfied with the paint color in the kitchen anyway - so now I might have an excuse to try a new color!

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Mommy Testimonial

Ok, I really don't find things very often that I think are just so great that everyone should try them...but I really like these new kind of crayons that Crayola is putting out. They are called Slick Stix and they are great for little hands learning to write. My mom got some for Avery at Christmas. They are very bright and they glide onto the page so easily, no matter how much pressure the kiddo puts onto the page - so success in making a mark on the paper is guaranteed - that isn't the case with other types of crayons the kids have tried. They are a little messy - but much less messy than markers, and really easy to clean up after. Here are some pics of Avery using his this afternoon.










After awhile of working on the paper, he decided to do his nails...










Here are his finished projects...the hand and the paper...but the hand art wiped off with just a warm washcloth - no soap needed, and no residue left behind to wear off later...










So if you have a little person in your life that needs practice with those fine motor skills and you need something that might perk their interest, give these a try...they really are fun, just ask Avery.

Random Answers #3

The saga continues...
This installment is centered on home life...warning - our lives are not that interesting :-) Here are the questions RK put forth -

1. What happens at your house in a given weekday evening? Who’s doing what? (Mom, Dad, and kids--together or separate.)

2. How are the chores divided up in your house? Who does what when it comes to laundry, cooking, cleaning, yard work?

3. How often do you have time with you just you and a spouse, even just a little time here or there? What do you do with that time--talk, work, plan, read, etc? (PG rated, please. HA!)

4. Compared to what you thought it would be like 10 years ago, would you say life in your home is...
~Nothing like you thought it would be.
~Kind of like you thought it would be.
~Exactly like you thought it would be.
~Better than you thought it would be.

Ok, let's get started. First of all, we really don't have a routine here at home. Steven gets home about 6ish - usually a bit before - and we sit down to dinner. We don't necessarily fall into the traditional sit around at the same table - the older boys like to sit at the "tall chairs" at the counter, but we are all in the same room. When dinner is done the boys are encouraged to take their plates to the sink and then they basically ask for the activity of the evening - usually involves some type of wrestling downstairs. That is daddy's job, not mine so I usually find something to do upstairs so I don't witness the carnage of the fights. Sometimes we put a movie on the computer for the kids to watch (we don't have TV), and other times we do "quiet" things like play-doh, reading, or something like that. Occasionally we go somewhere - but Steven is pretty much a homebody so we usually just stick around the house. The kids usually head to bed about 8ish so really its only a couple of hours of family activity.

The "chores" are not quite officially designated, but they have fallen into patterns. I am the straightener and deep cleaner - for example, Steven will put the dishes in the dishwasher but will never clean the sink or run the garbage disposal, so he helps quite a bit, but I usually need to finish it off with the chemicals and the elbow grease. Steven does the laundry - this all started cause he likes his clothes line dried and I don't/won't take the time to do that, so he took it over and I said "great!"...and other than the occasional lack of stain removal treatment to particular garments, he pretty much does a decent job. All of our clothes are still their original colors anyway. I'm the cook - I am afraid of Steven's meal combinations...and Steven is the yard guy - I don't touch it except for the occasional flower planting (and subsequent killing).

Steven and I get the majority of our "couple" time after the boys are in bed. But we don't do things together usually - just in the same room - Steven usually has his nose in a newspaper or boring informational magazine...sometimes he is looking stuff up on the computer. I piddle around on the computer or get things together for the next day or I might tackle some stuff from work. Some (most) weekends one of the grandparents will take anywhere from one to all three of the boys for a night and we might rent a movie or if I ask sweetly enough Steven will take us to dinner (he HATES going out to dinner usually - he's getting better about it though). We do talk, but I think we lack good discussion topics at times - he really doesn't care to hear about what mundane things the boys have done during the day or what kid programs at church I am working on and I don't understand (or maybe even care - that sounds terrible) about what he does at work (he works with an investment and trust dept at a local bank)...so we might listen politely to each other, but we don't really add to the conversations to keep them going sometimes.

I think everything is "kind of like I thought it would be"...I don't think to some extent I realized how very different Steven and I can be with our interests before we were married - so I think I anticipated that we would do more fun stuff together - but I also think that kids throw a monkey wrench into that a lot of times and we will probably do more stuff together when the kids are starting to do more on their own. I also don't think I knew our family would be so "large" - I didn't have a plan in that area really and it has been very interesting (and exciting) to see the roads God takes you down (I guarantee that Steven did NOT anticipate 4 children! but I didn't sneak them in on him!) Anyway, I sometimes wish that we all put a little more effort into family upkeep, but I also know that we have control over that, and we get out of something what we put into it...when I find myself wishing that some other family member put "more in" I am immediately reminded of how I slack things off too and how I can only change my own behaviors. It's easier to let things slide for sure...that's quite unfortunate that I could be so lazy with something so important, but we're all learning through things together and for the most part we come out with our heads above water anyway.

So if you stuck around and read all of this you deserve a treat - go get a soda or something.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Quite Shocking!

Saw this on another site and thought I would give it a whirl...

JustSayHi - Science Quiz


Considering I didn't even study (the teacher hadn't handed out a study guide) and that I consider myself knowing really very little about science I think the outcome was quite amazing! Must be all those times I've watched the Discovery channel at my folks house...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Finally!

The weather has finally turned spring like - ok, I think I can make it now - the days of cold temps and blah cloudy days were getting pretty old, pretty fast (I won't mention that by Monday they are predicting we will be back into the 30s for a high - what do "they" know anyway, right?). But with the warm temperatures comes the opportunity to finally enjoy them. Here are some pics of the boys playing outside....I did this photo shoot in black and white - the ground was brown and muddy anyway and the lighting at that time of day made for some fun photography experiments.


































Also, our family friend from Costa Rica was finally able to come for his anticipated visit. He comes about once a year for different reasons. The purpose of this trip was to buy a new vehicle (guess the taxes and cost of vehicles in Costa Rica are so outrageous that it is actually more cost effective to come to the states to buy one and drive it down). He will be driving his new truck and a trailer full of housing supplies and goodies back home next week. He will actually be stopping to meet my brother-in-law in Honduras to relay some supplies for his housing project as well. We got to know Arturo through my brother-in-law, Daniel - they worked together in Costa Rica when Daniel was doing missions work there. Arturo will be officiating Daniel's upcoming wedding to his sweet Carol later this month (in Honduras). We spent the evening with Arturo at the in-laws house this evening...

Planning and educating us on his route home...

Isaiah taking dessert orders...

Having fun with grandma - ice cream in hand ;-)