Monday, November 30, 2009

The three H's for the Holidays

We went to the "Hanging of the Greens" service at church on Sunday. It was the first time we have been to it at our current church. Usually we have been traveling back from relatives, but this year we came back on Saturday and were able to go to the service.

It may partly have been because I run around a little bit tired, which makes me more emotional, and that things have been stressful this semester, which also makes me more emotional, but I was a bit teary-eyed for much of the service.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. This is partly because I have fond memories with my family. I love the familiar music. I love the colorful Christmas lights. The food and the music and the whole atmosphere just makes me think love, coziness, closeness. Many people are more likely to smile and say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays (especially if they see a toddler dancing into a store singing Jingle Bells)...but only if the people are not falling in to rushing around and thinking of the time as a series of checklists to get done before the holiday.
I struggle with that part of it each year and especially this year. I am dieing to get started on my holiday shopping. I know what I want to do and mostly what I want to get. I know many of the things that I want to bake and put up. I know that I want to drive around and look at Christmas lights with the kids. I know I want to keep up with the advent wreath and the advent calendars. I want to donate to Toys for Tots, get an Angel off the Angel Tree, ring the bell for the Salvation Army, and do so much more.

I also know that I do not have the time to do all of that.

When I was an undergraduate I would take my last final, go back to my dorm room and put on Christmas music. Then I would wrap my Christmas presents to take home.
I sort of miss those days when it seemed pretty simple and straight forward. At one point in my life all of my shopping was done by the end of October. That is far from the case now.

I know that right now it my life I have to pick and choose.

Really, for my kids, it doesn't have to be a big grand all out holiday. They will remember the things that I choose to invest time in and the rest will not matter. We can bake a few cookies, and put out a few decorations. It will not matter that I only put out half of the Christmas decorations. They will not miss it if I bake just three different kinds of cookies instead of four.
This is the first Christmas where Doug and Andy have specific toys they want...and I have already started to prep them that Santa may not bring them exactly what they want because Santa might think that there are better toys for them that have more play potential and more potential to stir their imaginations. They must learn to appreciate what they have because there are truly many who have much less. I purposefully found an Angel Tree child who was about the same age as my children so they would be forced to give away toys they might want for themselves.
This is a good Christmas for my children to begin learning about what Christmas is truly about. Christmas is a celebration of the fact that Jesus came and was born for us.

At the end of the Hanging of the Green service the whole congregation went out to the lawn where a fire was burning. We had holly leaves that we were supposed to toss in the fire after offering three prayers.
Andy had lost his holly leaf somewhere so I gave him mine. As I watched him make prayer hands and scrunch his eyes tightly closed as he prayed I realized that there are just three things I want this holiday season...three H's for me, my family, my friends, my community, and the world.
  • Health
  • Happiness
  • Hope

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm thankful

I am thankful for my loving husband.
I am thankful for my goofy children.
I am thankful for my great friends who support me.
I am thankful for my family who help me out when I am in need and who love me unconditionally.
I am thankful for the many blessings that God has given to me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Play date

We had a play date yesterday. We had Doug's best friend from his class over and then another boy who Andy likes to play with from his class.

It is interesting to see the dynamics of a bunch of four-year olds. Even with my kids being used to having other people around to play with it is still different to have friends over.
We also have the issue that our house is large enough that there are a lot of different areas. We played a little bit outside but the kids would play for a little while in one spot and then move, and move again, and move again. This seems to be a symptom of having friends over as this is not a normal thing for my kids.

Josie just kind of did her own thing. She played with the boys occasionally, but there were times she seemed to think those boys were a bit strange.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Dougs

Jim preached his first sermon today. He went through lay speaker training and then developed a sermon and preached it today. It went great!

We had some friends and family who came to support him. We went out to lunch afterward at a Chinese buffet place.

Through the whole meal I could see this couple looking over at the kids. I couldn't tell whether they were amused or annoyed at my children's behavior.

Then is turned out that the man's name was "Doug" and so apparently every time I would say "Doug...." the man would hear his name and look over.

My Doug still talks about the pizza delivery guy who was named Doug. It's just not a very common name anymore.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Scatter Brained

I feel so scatterbrained lately.
I can finally check comps off my list of things to think about. I had felt pretty confident after my major area comps but I was not so sure after my minor comps. I did get word that I did pass them. So that is one thing not to think about any more.

I also had Jim and his court case on my mind. Unfortunately something apparently came up with the judge and it is postponed until January. December will be the first month since May that we have not had a court date scheduled. I just would like some resolution on it.

I'm not quite sure where I am at on my course work. I'm in good shape for the one traditional class I am in (traditional...well it is completely online but it does have definite assignments and due dates). I'm not where I want to be on the paper I have been working on. I keep forgetting about trying to get more responses to the survey I have to evaluate a program (I had to wait until a bit into the school year and...well...we're now a bit in to the school year). I am not where I want to be on my independent study.

At some point I need to work with Josie on potty training (we've been real casual up to this point but she is showing more signs of readiness), Andy will not have speech during December so he and I decided that we should work together, and I need to do a better job of holding the kids to their chores/responsibilities.

And that why my brain is in fifty million different directions.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just have to vent!

I am experiencing the messed-up state of health care in this country.
During September and October while Jim was in between paychecks and health insurance I got the kids on the state Medicaid system. Jim did not qualify (there is virtually nothing out there for healthy men) and ironically because I did the responsible thing and got my tubes tied after having Josie, I did not qualify.
It sounded good because even though I didn't apply until September 12 the coverage started right after our old insurance stopped.
That said there are some things messed up about it.
  1. I know they are busy and needed more information from me, but we did not receive news of our coverage and the cards until mid-October. This means that for a month and a half I had three children under the age of 5 whom I hoped would not need a doctor during that time period.
  2. For every mailing that we get about it, I get three envelopes. So to me that means probably around a dollar could have been saved if all the mailings were sent in a single envelope.
  3. The day before Jim started his job and a couple days before I got the Medicaid cards, Doug needed the three stitches for his chin. We went to the nearby walk-in clinic rather than the emergency room. Apparently there are only a few places that accept Medicaid and it turns out that the walk-in clinic is not one of them. So Medicaid will not pay or reimburse any of it. Some complain about people using the emergency room for health care, but the system encourages people to do it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hair Milestone


Here is the most recent picture I have of the kids. It was taken mid-October.
You might be able to tell that Josie's hair is actually starting to grow and thicken.
Perhaps it is trying to get to a feminine hairstyle that we have trimmed her bangs (since she will not consistently wear barrettes) but she still has yet to actually have a true haircut.
I will say that yesterday Josie and I went in to a store and a lady said "I envy that head of hair. I didn't have hair until I was two and people mistook me for a boy."
All I could think when I heard her say it was:Lady...she is two and she still gets mistaken as a boy, and perhaps Josie's hair really is starting to come in.
I simply said thank you.

Parental tips...

***Warning- not for the weak stomached out there

Gleaned over the "years" (really only 4 years) of raising multiple children (in other words twins gave us a crash course) here are some useful tip for dealing with sick kids....

  1. Best advice my older sister ever gave me was that if a child has a fever but is acting normal don't worry too much but if a child is not acting normal (fever or no fever) then worry.
  2. Children can run pretty high fevers so around here we don't panic (though we are watchful) until we get close to 104.
  3. Best tips for knocking out a fever....use Tylenol or Motrin (my kids do okay on Tylenol but always respond to Motrin so that is sort of our default med), strip the child, cool wash clothes on the back and/or head, a luke warm shower is great, and Popsicles are a must to have around for bringing down fevers.
  4. Viruses can last 7-10 days....that means that the puking/diarrhea/fever can last that long if that stomach bug is viral.
  5. Kissing a forehead is a better indicator of knowing a child's temp then feeling with your hand. I also once met someone who reportedly could put her temple to a child's temple and predict the temperature pretty accurately...but I have not striven for that kind of skill.
  6. Get to know your child's illness pattern. Doug and Andy I can always feel the fever on their forehead. Josie I have to watch it because her temples will get hot but not the front part of her forehead. Doug will stop puking and go to diarrhea, Andy will go straight from puking to normal. Andy will run a higher temperature than Doug and Andy's behavior is directly related to how high the temperature is. Andy handles snot better than Doug.
  7. Call twenty advice nurses and you will get twenty different opinions about how to deal with the illness.
  8. Kids throw-up. For a great variety of reasons that do not all involve being sick.
  9. Handling your own child's puke/diarrhea is much easier than dealing with someone unrelated.
  10. Water proof mattress pads are a must and while you are washing those mattress pads you can put a towel under the sheet to protect the mattress because children often do not know they are going to throw up until it actually happens.
  11. A warm shower is a great way to get the snot out. If children are coughing due to post-nasal drip put them in a warm shower before bed or if they are coughing too much in the middle of the night.
If you have any useful tips I would love them. I'm really hoping that we are on the road to recovery around here because I am tired of having runny noses around my house.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This was the first day of school




That "was" in the title is in past tense....as in the first day of school was in August...and I am just now posting pictures.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Procrastinating on my assignments







Here are some more pictures to help me procrastinate on getting my actual work done...

Significant things that happened this weekend

1. My house is clean (ish)
I hosted a baby shower for a friend from church. It forced us to get picked-up and cleaned-up (since in my mind there is a difference) and finish some projects.
I tried to genuinely deal with the stuff rather than just stash it. A little bit of hiding happened at the end, but hey...for losing two days to illness this week and at least half a day to a humidifier (that's another story) I think I did pretty well.

2. The humidifier
Andy was coughing and the humidifier sounded like a good idea at midnight on Thursday/Friday. I had used it the previous week and even earlier in the week with no problems. So I filled it, turned it on and went to bed. The next morning, even though I had it on the lowest setting, the water was all gone.
Not a good sign.
It turned out that there was a crack in the bottom of the part that holds the water and so roughly a gallon of water leaked out....down a bookcase and through the floor to drip on a box in the workroom below.
Yeah...can we say not a good thing.
A vast majority of the books were not wet and those that were wet I was able to dry out successfully.
The carpet is finally dry and I think I may try and treat it to make sure that there is nothing growing in there.
The box it got in the basement was mostly empty and the stuff it ruined was disposable and it somehow managed to miss the most important things in the box.
I think God is forcing me to clean out using water as the motivator.

3. Josie has officially had her head glued back together.
Friday night, after a napless day that probably contributed to some clumsiness, she tripped and hit her forehead on the corner of the fireplace.
It bled.
Luckily Jim was home and took Josie to see the walk-in clinic close to us (which luckily was still open since most other medical offices were closed, and which luckily we now have insurance they will take). The gouge was too small for stitches (that's good right?) so they glued her, steri-stripped her, gave her two stickers and a coupon for ice cream, and sent her home.
So Josie has her head glued on straight and I'm still missing my marbles somewhere in the basement (be dum ching!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Poetry Slam

The conference that I went to last week had local students performing. One of them was a student reading the poetry slam that she had written. It was excellent and I decided that I should share it.
The words are available at http://www.moscholars.org/slampoetry.html
Here is a video of her performing her poem.

Behind on posting

It's been crazy around here lately...so I am a little bit behind on posting.
I was going to post about Doug's creative problem solving skills. He was bringing in the trash cans and after dragging/carrying the old metal trash cans we have he decided with the second one that it was easier to lay it on it's side and roll it.
But I got busy and never posted.

I was going to post that my children treat every TV show/movie as interactive. I am not talking just about the whole responding to Dora/Diego/Mickey/Kia-lan where they have wait time for the children to answer. I'm talking about if we are watching Star Wars Doug & Andy are "bamming the bad guys" or that Doug will "act out" the beginnings of his favorite shows. He rocks with Phineas and Ferb (Doug already plays air guitar) and he particularly does every part of the title sequence to Penguins of Madagascar.
But I got busy and didn't post it.

So yes, that was underwear on my children's heads in the Inja pictures. It was clean...right out of their drawers. I'm not sure what happened to Josie's pants that day. My children tend toward naked (or nakie as we call it around here). Their shoes usually come off shortly after entering the house. Pants occassionally go missing after pottying or a diaper change in Josie's case. Usually complete nakedness doesn't occur until after dinner. My children are not shy or bashful. I think I finally have Doug and Andy convinced not to pull down their pants until they have entered public bathroom stalls and not to come out of the stall until their pants are pulled-up.

Here are some pictures of Josie hamming it up in a few hats and also in a dress that we inherited from my baby-sitter's younger sister.












Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reconnected!

I am reconnected! Between having technical issues, being gone to a conference (it went fine), and then having sick children (thank goodness it only lasted 24 hours), I am finally reconnected. Now I just have to make sure the wireless router will work and talk to the modem.

Since I just happen to be on the computer with pictures on it...I will share with you our recent invasion by 'Injas. Not every house has had an 'Inja invasion.







Wednesday, November 4, 2009

So where have I been?

Besides the fact that I have been very busy, our Internet connection is down at home. Unfortunately I called tech support and made it worse....So I am not sure when things will be back to normal.

Things have been gong gang busters.
I'm trying to stay organized and on top of things.
I took my minor area comps but am not sure how I feel about them so we'll see. It took me a lot longer to decide how I was going to answer the questions and rather than finishing 15 minutes early like I did the other comp days, I was running out of time at the end.
Best scenario is that I passed. Worst case scenario is that I failed and because I am not thrilled about taking them again I will switch programs and get an EdD instead of a PhD. But we will wait and see how things turn out.

Kids are reasonably good. Josie seems adjusted mostly now. She at least has stopped trying to say that she cannot go to preschool because she is scared of her teacher (which she is not, but she is smart enough to figure out that that reason could be used as an excuse).
Doug seems in a particularly defiant stage. He is definitely trying to figure out where he is in control and wants his way all the time.
Andy is hopefully getting better. We had some rough nights of coughing but I am hitting everything full force now and it seems to be working. I think we went from one cold to the next as opposed to a lingering cold because Doug has a cold again.

Jim still likes his school and his job. He moved to a better camp ground. He got all his new employee paperwork completed. So hopefully everything is in order there.

Other than going to bed to late most nights, I am doing okay. I am getting ready to go to a conference and I am excited about it. It is a national conference. It will look good on my vita. The coolest thing is that they had over 900 proposals submitted and only were able to accept 260+. Both of my proposals were accepted as poster presentations. One was originally submitted as a presentation session, but I am not going to complain because in a way standing in front of a poster is a lot easier than talking in front of a bunch of people.