Monday, September 2, 2013

*crickets*

That's been the sound around these parts for far too long now. Silence...crickets chirping...dust bunnies floating around like tumbleweeds. My poor, neglected blog.

Truth is, I've been meaning to write a new blog post for quite some time now. Months, really. But all of you bloggy types know how it is - you go for a while, the crickets start chirping, and then you realize that you can't just hop online and tap out that brilliant blog post that just dripped right into your brain while you were in the shower, because first, you would have to make the dreaded update post.

Oh, how I loathe the update post. Especially when it's September (how did that happen?!) and you haven't blogged since January, because ohmigosh, a LOT has happened since January! So much that I dare say I couldn't even remember every important thing I'd need to blog, so I'm just not. I'm going to be a bloggy rebel and pretend that I haven't dropped off the face of bloggy-earth for the past seven months, and just resume where I left off.

I will tell you what's up with us now, and you can fill in the blanks that led up to our current level of craziness.

- Back to school has come and gone, and somehow I've become the mother of a first grader and a fifth grader. I do not know who keeps giving them permission to grow up, but I do not approve.

- Not only am I attempting to homeschool a first grader and a fifth grader, but I'm attempting to do it with a toddler in the house. Baby Buster is nearly sixteen months old and is into absolutely everything. Who knew there was such a difference between boys and girls even at this age? My girls simply didn't mess with things. He keeps me on my toes, that's for sure.

- Now, anyone that's read my blog knows that I'm not a big fan of cutesy nicknames for the kiddos (just try to guess Princess Pumpkinface Cutsey-Pie's real name!), but Baby Buster is our very first foster child...and as such, I'm afraid I really can't use his name. But I can tell you that Baby Buster was (for a brief period) a real, honest-to-goodness, used in real life nickname, and not just something I came up with to use on the blog. Ever watched Mythbusters?



Yeah, that is so not me. That's Kari from the show (which is totally worth a watch, if you've never seen it before.) The little dude in front of her is Baby Buster, ie, a baby version of a crash test tummy. Only Baby Buster crawls around all by himself - pretty randomly, sometimes - and is really just too stinking adorable to be mechanical. Anyway, our little guy was thirteen months old and still crawling when he first came to stay with us, and we had just watched an episode of Mythbusters featuring Baby Buster a day or two before...so it was a pretty natural association for us. Now our Baby Buster is a proficient walker, but I like the nickname and I'm keeping it.

- My laptop BROKE - I'm thinking that was in January, since that seems to be when I stopped blogging. Well, I had some Christmas money burning a hole  in the part of my brain that keeps reminding you about gadgets you'd reeeeaaallly like to have...like an iPad. And then we found a GREAT deal on a barely-used, brand new iPad, and I totally justified that purchase because, you know, the hubby has a laptop, and we could just SHARE. Pfffffffft. Turns out, he doesn't share very well. He SAYS that it's always available, but honestly, you all know how much fun it is to ask your man to hand over an electronic device that he's currently using (and I swear, his laptop usage increased by about 500% the very moment that mine died.) So I'm typing this post using my itty bitty iPad keyboard (granted, better than trying to do it on a touch screen) and it's taking forEVER because apparently, the tablet version of Blogger is quite buggy and refuses to allow me to scroll. When you're as wordy as I am, it's hard to keep going when you can't see what you're typing.

Anyway. That's quite enough of an update for now, and now maybe I can feel good about posting random brilliantness since the almost-but-not-quite update post is out of the way. That is, if anything comes to me while HE is at work, so I can do it from a proper computer.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Best Worst Day Ever

Today was one of those days that every parent dreads.

Let me just preface by saying that if you have a nosy inquisitive child reading over your shoulder, you shoo them away now. Just in case. What follows may not bother them in the least, but hey, I don't want to be responsible for crushing any little people inadvertently.

So, Rachael has been asking a lot of questions about Santa lately. So much so that I was reasonably certain that this past Christmas would be the last that she believed in Santa - and even so, I'm sure she had her doubts. At nearly nine years old, plenty of her friends have stopped believing and oh so kindly shared their disbelief with her. Rachael also has a fondness for internet research, and has read plenty on the topic of Santa's realness, or lack thereof. 

All through the Christmas season, we answered her queries as best we could, without over-embellishing. But man, was the child persistent. She didn't ask the typical "how does Santa visit every child in one night?" She figured that out based on time zones and deemed it plausible. However, she wanted to know what kind of sleigh he had. Where the reindeer lived. How they learned to fly. What were all of the jobs that elves could hold, and how accurate was the movie Elf. Why some people received more gifts from Santa than others. And what was Santa's email address, so she could address a few issues personally...

I thought that once Christmas was over, the issue would drop until Christmas rolled around again. I was wrong.

She fretted over it. She kept the questions coming. She was clearly suspicious, while claiming that she was not.
This afternoon, she and Milly went outside with Gene and they went into the storage building for something. Inside, she (who is admittedly a tad nosy) discovered several rolls of red Santa-print wrapping paper - the same paper in which Santa always wraps her gifts.

Well, Santa must have bought that stuff in bulk, because I had forgotten it was even out there. I used the stash from the back of my bedroom closet this past Christmas, and didn't even venture into the storage building to hunt for extra paper. And Gene, of course, has probably never even noticed what kind of paper Santa wraps gifts in to begin with.


Rachael stomped into the house, clearly angry, and informed me of her find. I neither confirmed nor denied, simply stating that I wasn't aware of Santa paper in the shed. (See above: I really had forgotten!)

It was clearly time. The questions and discoveries were becoming too complex for me to keep brushing them aside. The explanations would have to be more and more detailed, and that is where (to me) it crosses over the line from harmless fun to something else entirely. It was time to let Rachael in on the secret. I prayed that my girl would take it well. And I thanked God for Pinterest, although I doubt He cares much about it one way or another.

You see, I had pinned this letter on Pinterest some time back, having fallen in love with the sentiment and knowing that I would need to unashamedly plagiarize it in the not-too-distant future.


Go read the letter. Seriously. I'll wait.

...

...

...

Rachael and I share a journal that we pass back and forth to each other. It is completely confidential - not even Daddy is allowed to look inside. So I grabbed the journal and a pen, and recreated that letter. I changed it a little, to fit our situation better. I left off a bit here and there and added some thoughts about her faith in God in the "capacity to believe" paragraph. I broke the rules and let Daddy read just the letter (and nothing else), said a little prayer over it, and left the journal on the coffee table. It was no time at all before she noticed and retreated with it to her room.

A few minutes later, she emerged, both smiling and glaring, because girlfriend has got it that way. I had expected tears, so glaring was a welcome relief.

She had one question for me: what about Elwin?

Elwin is our Elf on the Shelf elf. The girls look forward to his arrival on the day after Thanksgiving, and are generally more excited about him and his antics than they are about Santa. I knew she would ask about Elwin. And I took the cowardly way out, replying only with, "what do you think?"

She knew. And she cried. She ran back to her room, and I followed her. Explained that nothing would change. Elwin would still come, and it would be just as much fun. She could even help decide what he would do next. She asked where I kept him between Christmases, and I refused to tell her. Hey, full disclosure is no fun for anyone.


After she thought about it for a few minutes, the barrage of questions began. Does Santa shop at Walmart? (Very rarely.) How about Amazon? (Definitely.) Does Daddy eat the cookies? (Do you even need to ask?)

And after the questions, the realizations.

The books that were already loaded on her Kindle. So THAT'S why Moby Dick was one of them!

Her giant stuffed frog, where did he come from? The MUSEUM? He was the very same giant frog that used to sit at a cafe table eating a plate of plastic bugs? How COOL!

But...all of those gifts must COST so much. Mommy and Daddy spent THAT much on me, all at once? Wow...thank you!

(Disclaimer: Christmas in our house is really VERY moderate, compared to lots and lots of people I know. We do the best we can, but we're not rich people. However, my children aren't used to "just because" toys, so knowing that THE PARENTS provided so many all at once rather blew her little mind.)


And then, the resigned certainty that if Santa and Elwin weren't on the up and up, then neither were the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.

But...that means...that we did those too. She was in awe. Completely unbeknownst to her...her parents were FUN! I mean, the Tooth Fairy always, always leaves a big trail of pink glitter in her wake, and Rachael would NEVER have expected ME of going to such lengths for her amusement - especially since I tend to complain about the glittery mess the next morning.

In the space of fifteen minutes, anger and disappointment turned into gratitude and fascination. No, Santa as she had understood him was no more...but instead, she realized a new extent of her parents' devotion to her - that we delighted in her so much that we were willing to go to these lengths to create something magical and joyful for her. We were amazing, and (thanks to that pink glitter), we were COOL.

Well. As the letter states, knowing the secret effectively makes one a part of Team Santa. She is trusted not to ruin the fun for her sister (or ANYONE else), and was adamant that she would not want to do that. But later in the evening, she brought me a folded letter addressed to "Santa, or Team Member", and asked if I would deliver it. And the child WINKED at me.

Her letter read:

"Dear Santa,

Thank you for the frog.


Given my newfound knowledge and being on your team - this holiday season, instead of sending my wish list to you, I'll give it to my mother who is also on the team.

I wish you a successful year.

Best regards,
Rachael C-------"

I love that kid so much.

And so we embark on a new stage of our journey together. She is, undeniably, growing up. She has always been an old soul in a young body, equipped with more intuition, compassion, and forgiveness expected from a child of her age. She loves being privy to a secret or a joke, and craves the closeness associated with shared experiences. So now we have opportunities for new experiences opened to us both, and new kinds of memories to make together. I can't wait.

I don't want for my girls to grow up. It breaks my heart to think that someday they'll be grown and gone from this house. But I'm seeing some good in these hard growing-up moments...like the realization that when she is grown, she is going to be an amazing friend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Eh, Whatevs

I am clearly not a daily kind of blogger. I could rattle off thirty things I'm thankful for in about thirty seconds (unless I got sidetracked, which would be quite likely), but remembering to post just one thing every day for thirty days? So not happening.

And since Thanksgiving day is already here, I'll just throw a bunch of them in here at once. The usuals. Pardon any repeats.


I am thankful for my life and the people and places and situations in it.


  • For a husband who works hard (really hard, given the opportunity) to provide for his family. He may leave his boots in the living room floor for everyone to trip over and expose me constantly to TV shows that I can't stand, but it's because of him that I'm able to stay at home with my babies. That was never our plan, pre-children - but it became my most desperate desire once Rachael was born, and he's made it happen for nearly nine years now. He irritates me half to death some days, but he's a good man, and I am lucky to have him. God and Grandma knew what they were doing when they paired us off.
  • For two beautiful, healthy, intelligent, and hilarious children. I never know what will come out of their mouths next (okay, it's usually screaming, followed by "MY SISTER...") They also drive me crazy, but they make me smile even more, and they teach me so much. I only wish that they could just stay little.
  • For a warm home, filled with all the things we need and a lot of things we just want. For a refrigerator and cabinets filled with food, not just on Thanksgiving, but all the time. For vehicles in the driveway that will get us where we need (and want) to go. For income that pays the bills...not much more than the bills, sometimes, but that's okay. Where there have been needs, God has always provided.
  • For good health - my sinuses are giving me fits and there's a BB still lodged in Gene's leg, but overall, we're a pretty healthy bunch. It's very, very rare for either of the children to be sick, and for that, I am especially thankful!
  • For a family that I love dearly, whether I see them once a week or once a year. I was blessed with wonderful parents and stepparents, and gained some pretty terrific in-laws when I married Gene. I can't wait to spend Thanksgiving with a bunch of people that I not only love, but actually like.
  • For amazing friends...SO many amazing friends. My pre-married life friends, my old co-worker friends, my first-mommy-group friends and church friends and homeschooling friends, because-of-Girl-Scouts-or-4H friends, my weirdly random chance meeting friends, online friends and friends-of-friends who became friends. For a girl who typically has just one or two very close friends and counts most everyone else as "acquaintances"...well, my group of really-truly-FRIENDS sure has expanded in the past few years. I am thankful for every one of them. I'm even thankful for my used-to-be-friends, because whatever the reason that they're used-to-be's, the happy memories don't go away.
  • For the internet, because it keeps me sane. Truly. And, you know, helps me teach my children and run my business and help other people...in addition to the fun stuff.  ;)
I could go on and on and on, but I won't...it's after 1 a.m., and I'll be up bright and early to bake cinnamon rolls and watch the Macy's parade with my girls, before heading to my dad's house to snarf down just as much turkey as I can possibly hold...which will likely be followed by a tryptophan-induced nap and a card game, in which I will have to hustle if I want to take the lead over the old man. Right, Phase Ten, add that to the list...and other family traditions too. You can't have too many of those.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness, Days Nine through Thirteen

Oh, don't act all surprised. We all knew that I wouldn't stick with the one post every single day for a month thing. So, let's play catch-up, shall we? I'll keep this short and sweet, and save the rambling posts of gratitude for single blog posts, and also for days when I'm not posting at 1:16 in the morning.

#9: I am thankful for Great Value brand French vanilla cappuccino, which is both cheap and delicious and makes me feel like I'm an actual adult who drinks coffee, when the truth is that I really only like the smell and have to have copious amounts of flavoring before I can stand the stuff.


#10: I am thankful that at least one of my children loves books as much as I do, and I'm still holding out hope for the other one, even though she clearly received her father's video game gene. If I were independently wealthy and into the whole "designer babies" thing, that particular gene would have been the first to go. Also, maybe just one of my children would have gotten their father's dimples. Not that I'm bitter about that or anything.

#11: I am thankful for my smart phone. There, I said it. Look, I was behind the times - I've only had one since March, and no, the novelty has not yet worn off. It's a hateful little thing that randomly locks into desk cradle mode and will barely make a phone call sometimes, but it allows me to text, read on my Kindle, find cheap gas, use all kinds of nifty coupons, and waste all sorts of time playing ridiculously addictive games like Flow Free, which you should absolutely go and download right now if you've never played.

#12: I am thankful for my washing machine, because the notion of beating my laundry against a rock in the stream is just not appealing.

#13: I am thankful for my public library, even though I pay them enough in overdue fines that there should truly be a plaque with my name on it somewhere in the building. I just love being able to walk into a building, wave a card, and walk out with an armload of books without paying a single red cent for them. (Aforementioned child in #10 has gotten hooked on a series and gone into the library and cleared off an entire shelf. One of the proudest days of my life.)

And that will do for tonight. More (and more serious) gratitude coming...eventually.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness, Days Seven and Eight

Because I was all slacker-y yesterday, and because these two things go together, and because it's my blog and I can combine days if I want to.


I am so, so thankful for these little girls.

There were several things that I wanted to be when I was younger - an archaeologist, a lawyer, a librarian, a speech/language pathologist. I changed my mind over and over again, but completely aside from the career choices, I always knew that I wanted to be a mommy.

You've heard it said that sometimes God answers prayers with a "yes," sometimes with a "no," and sometimes with "wait." NO and WAIT can feel very much like the same answer sometimes, as I well learned when Gene and I decided that we were ready to become parents. We waited and waited, and I cried and cried, sure that our answer was NO. Clearly, it was not.

Rachael was worth the wait. From the moment she was born, she was a sweet, cuddly little girl. A little hard-headed sometimes, but loving and thoughtful and always smiling. She spoke like a miniature adult and entertained and astonished us, and we were sure that we could never love another person nearly as much.

But, we were willing to try. And again, we were made to WAIT. And wait, and wait, even longer than we waited for Rachael. Again, I cried and prayed and begged, and just when I decided that my emotions weren't up to the wait any longer and was ready to throw in the towel, there she was.

We had already decided on the name Amelia, if we ever had another daughter, and Amelia became real in my mind long before there was another tiny person to name. Gene had hoped for a boy, but there was no question that I wanted another sweet girl. And she was perfection.

Milly was never as easy as her sister. She's demanding and whiny when she doesn't get her way, she's shy when we don't want her to be, and she terrorizes her big sister (who, in turn, allows herself to be terrorized.) In short, Rachael made us feel like wonderful parents. Milly taught us how very little we really knew. We needed the balance. And yet, she is as loving as her sister (when no one else is around), just as cuddly (when she's in the mood), and amazing in her intensity. I don't love her nearly as much as I love Rachael. I love her just as much, only differently.


They fight. They whine. They're messy and loud. They drive me absolutely nuts most some days. I run out of patience and yell at them and feel like a rotten mom sometimes. I dole out punishments when I don't really want to, because they need it, or withhold punishment because I am Mommy and I can, and that's what grace is all about. They don't get everything they want, because I won't have them feeling entitled. And yet, I want to give them the world. They are a constant source of inner-mommy conflict.

But when they're playing so sweetly together, when little arms reach for a hug, when one of them says, "I love you, Mommy" ...well, all is right in my world, and all the waiting and conflict is worth it. I am not deserving of blessings such as these.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness, Day Six

Today I am thankful to live in a country where I have the right to vote for leaders. I am thankful for the privilege of teaching my children about the electoral process and taking them to the polls with me to help impress upon them the importance of casting your vote. I am thankful that the election in general has been a great social studies lesson for the past couple of weeks.

In the end, I don't necessarily have to be thankful for the results of the election...just that there was an election.

I will pray for Obama, and for the course of our country over the next four years.

I will remember that, although he will President for another four years, there is One much mightier that is truly in charge, and my hope is in Him alone.



Monday, November 5, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness, Day Five

Today, I am thankful for social media.

Yes, it is a great time waster. Yes, I am sick of the political posts and the whining and complaining that are all that some people seem to do on Facebook. Yes, I'm guilty of Facebook-enabled public myself, on occasion.


But today has been a perfect example of the ways that social media - and Facebook in particular - can be used for good.


I was able to share a link to a local organization that is raising money to help a single mom in her time of financial need. I didn't have money to donate, but maybe someone will see that link and be able to help.

I set up an event page to promote the spaghetti dinner fundraiser that our Girl Scout troop is hosting this weekend. Letting people know about the event means more people eating spaghetti, and that means money to pay for patches and meeting supplies and service projects and events so that the troop parents don't have to. 

Best of all, my friend Brooke and I set up an auction page to raise money for our Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree children. 35 people liked the page on its first day, and $91 in bids were placed. That in itself was pretty terrific, but what really blows me away are all the people who have generously donated items to the auction. About half of the donations came from people that I actually know - people who I know to be exceedingly generous even when time and resources don't necessarily agree with their giving. Other donations came from Etsy sellers that I don't even know, but asked if they would be interested in donating to the cause - and because of their heart for orphans or kids with Down Syndrome, they gave. Many of them volunteered even more than I had asked. Several said that they were "honored" to be a part of the auction. Each of them touched my heart today.

We invited people to the auction, and they shared the link with their friends. I invite you stop by as well - whether you're an adoption advocate or no, there's some cute stuff up for bids, and several things that would make great Christmas gifts. Best of all, 100% of the purchase price will be deposited into the childrens' accounts, to help their future forever families get to them even faster.