Much Better Day!

I was prepared for today to really suck, but other than spending $10 on gas, it wasn't too bad, really! I am exhausted because my husband and I decided to spend some time together last night, so we were up until midnight and Miss Violet decided today was the day for mommy to get up at 5:45am. But so far I'm alright thanks to my old friend Coke. (Soda, people, get a grip!) I just have to hold out until Allan gets home tonight at around 7:30pm. He's taking the scooter back to the dealer to see what needs to be done.

The shots were a no-go; I'm relieved. So is GraceAnne, I must say! Last night Allan expressed his concerns about Gracie's 4 year shots and I tried to talk him down saying things like, "if she were going to have a reaction she would have already, blah blah blah" Then I realized this morning, if he sat and discredited my feelings like that, I'd be really mad at him! So while I was up, holding a certain happy baby, I did some research and found that a couple of children have started to show signs of autism after their 4-year shots, despite being perfectly normal, (and typically very smart!), beforehand. I did some more research and found that lots of parents opt for titers instead. This means they draw a vial of blood to check the child's immunity to the disease before giving vaccinations to see if any of the vax's are unnecessary. Drawing blood doesn't sound like much fun, either, but better one stick and not putting any diseases into her than 4 sticks and pumping her full of God-knows-what. So our conversation DID go something like what I posted yesterday, but when we got there and started to discuss our concerns with the Dr, she said that there's really no need for a titer right now because we KNOW she is partly immune, since she's had other vaccinations. It will be later when the immunity will be compromised because they "wear off" after time. She said I'm the biggest threat to the kids because it's been so long since I've been vaccinated. She suggested Allan might be a threat, too, but since he's at the medical school he's totally up-to-date on every shot imaginable. The Army tends to be somewhat anal about vaccinations, too, so I think he's probably good.

Yes, we did switch Dr's. This one is still not thrilled with the idea of not vaccinating, but she wasn't rude about it. She said the girls are PERFECT, (we already knew that, but it's SO NICE to hear it anyway!). She said GraceAnne is very smart and NOT underweight. She said she will probably always be real thin, since Allan and I were. She said that we're doing a great job and she will see us in 2 months. YAAAY! The facility is VERY clean and VERY nice and the nurses were FANTASTIC! GraceAnne was completely comfortable from the very beginning with all of them and that is something we've not had the pleasure of experiencing since we were in WA state with our first pediatrician. I'm SO grateful!

Miss Violet is 13lb 2.5oz and Miss GraceAnne is 32lb. Miss Violet is 23" and Miss GraceAnne is 40.5 ". Violet is more on the average side of the height spectrum than GraceAnne was at her age. GraceAnne is starting to fall back on her height percentage and is sitting around 60%. Maybe they will be peanuts like me. Hopefully they'll be around 5'7" I'd love to be 5'7". Not too tall and not too short. 5'5" isn't bad, but I still can't reach some things I'd like to reach and my legs are too short, I think. Or maybe they're just too fat and I'm confusing things. Hmmmm....

Then I got the mail! I thought our Social Security checks wouldn't be in for about 2 more months. WRONG! They came today. WOOHOO! :D Gracie's and Vi's are going straight to their accounts and we'll be opening their ESA's this month. Mine is going to get the bug fixed so Allan has a car if he needs it. That and he always spends money on what I want to do and I figured it's about time for him to get something he'd like now. I also got a rebate check from something I bought a while back, (actually I got it for free at CVS, so I made some money on it!), and a bunch of coupons and a $50 g/c to Bennigan's from MyPoints. We'll use that on Saturday when we pick Rhiya up from the airport. YAAAAAAAAAAY! Rhiya will be here in 5 days!!!!

Oh yeah, and it's payday, so it's just a good day all around. Thank God! :)


Not Much News

I don't really have anything to say today, but I hate leaving the same blog post up for too long. Tomorrow we have to take the kids to the Dr. By WE I mean ME. Allan will be at school. It should be great fun, since GraceAnne is due for 4 shots. She hates the Dr. already and she's going to be fit to be tied when she realizes what's going on there. Which will probably be immediately upon entering the vehicle. The conversation will go something like this:

"Where are we going, Mommy?"
"To Waxahachie to get some papers and to Corsicana to see the Dr."
"Baby Violet has to see the Dr?"
"Will she get shots?"
"no" (we're delaying Vi's vaccines)
"Do I have to see the Dr?"
"I'm not getting shots, am I?"

At which point she will scream and cry and kick and then calm down for a second and ask if she can have Starbucks afterwards, (a cream drink, don't freak out people!), and I'll tell her yes and then she'll start sobbing as though her heart has been broken.

Even more fun--when I get to be the one to hold her down, all 3 1/2 feet of her, by myself so they can stick her 4 times in the legs. I used to think I could never be more sad than when they poke babies. I was wrong. It's MUCH WORSE when they poke big kids. At least babies go to sleep afterward. Big, dramatic kids limp around and cry and tell you they are sad at you because you made them get poked. Big kids also can't be nursed to comfort afterward and though Starbucks is quite tasty, it just doesn't seem to have the soothing effect that the breast does.

BUT! Tomorrow I'll have the stats on the girls and that will make for a much more interesting blog post.

over and out.


Stealing our Joy

Yepp, that's the devil's newest task...trying to steal our Joy. See, we've been a little too God-oriented these days and Satan is trying to make us eat our words. I'll tell you what's going on and then why that won't happen.

I've mentioned before I have a real lack of patience. I have gotten a hair better with the kids, but I'm still pretty temperamental about other issues. I've been running to Waxahachie every day for GraceAnne's swimming lessons and it's wearing me thin. Especially since Violet thinks mommy must get up at 6am. Yes, I signed myself up for this, but you bet I learned my lesson and it won't be happening again. 6pm is just too late to be getting out of the house and running to the next town, getting home at 7:30, having a snack, doing bedtime routine and putting Vi to bed and reading the bible and then finally passing out around 11pm. Yeah--you're tired just reading it, aren't you?! ;) This routine makes for 1 tired mommy and mommy is so not cool when she's tired. :(

Last night at swim lessons I got a call from Allan. He was in Garrett, (about 3 miles north of Ennis), and his bike had stopped. Yepp...overheated and stopped. He said he was praying to make it to a gas station and he made it. Then he was so intent on finding the gas station that he couldn't get back to the road he was on, so drove 16-18 miles in the boonies, (not hard to do here!), and ended up in Garrett, where the bike decided it was hot and tired. (also not hard to do here!) It stopped and Allan walked it home. When he took it all apart, (or attempted to, because some kind of demon was making that task next to impossible), he found lots of pieces not hooked up the way they are supposed to be and things done very half-@ssed. The bike was not fixed by the time it got too dark and late to work on it anymore, so he took my car to school this morning. Which is a gas guzzler. Although I filled it up 2 days ago, it will probably have one last trip back and forth to Waxahachie in it before it hits E.

Since he has my car, we can't go to GraceAnne's play date. We NEVER do ANYTHING, (except go to Waxahachie *UGH*), and when we finally get a phone call and make some plans, this crap happens.

*BUT* I don't care what Satan tries to pull...God is going to win in this house. These are just little things right now, seriously, we're Blessed that these are our only problems. I know he will try harder...kick down well-laid plans, try to bash in the door...but we have a rock solid foundation now and he can forget about it. He can p*ss me off and he can make us cuss and he can give us a headache to beat all headaches, but the bottom line is God loves us so much he gave us these:
...so Satan won't be winning around here. We could see God working yesterday, as Allan was working on the bike. The girls and I pulled into the driveway and saw him with the bike in pieces and GraceAnne squealed her usual, "DADDY'S HOME!!!!" I cautioned her and said, "yes, and he's probably pretty mad about the scooter, so let's be super sweet to him and not jump all over him, okay?" She walked bravely to him and said, "so...the scooter is broken, huh? And you're going to fix it! You're probably pretty mad?" I think he was so stunned he didn't know what to say for a minute, but the rest of the evening was pretty smooth. Yeah, Allan was cussing in the driveway and we were in the house by ourselves, but God gave us all a measure of patience last night that we haven't seen in a while because we KNEW He would. When we finally made it to bed around 11pm I said, "you know Satan is going to try to get us to go to sleep without reading, don't you?" He said, "that ain't gonna happen." So dog-tired, we read, gave God His glory for the day and went to sleep. After all--we still have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, each other and these smiles:

...and who could ask for more?


Poop and Coupons!

Let me tell you a story about a coupon freak named Tara. A long time ago she and her husband were broke and trying to save an emergency fund. Tara decided coupons were the best way to cut expenses around the household and found a fun little place called Coupon Forum. (www.couponforum.com for anyone who's interested!) Here is a picture of the freak:
Let me also tell you about a little baby named Pooper...I mean Violet. Experts estimate that a parent will spend thousands of dollars on diapers before their child is potty trained. This is a small fortune, and--if invested properly--could completely pay for a college education. Here is a picture of the Pooper:

(she looks very innocent, doesn't she?? At the very least she doesn't look like a bank account drain!)

So the freak got smart and said to herself, "what if I could use coupons to thwart this awful expense?" She started asking all her friends for coupons and to let her know when deals were coming up. One day the trumpets sounded and it was announced that there was a deal at Target. Target was dumb and put out 2 printable coupons, one for 5$ off the purchase of Pampers diapers and Pampers wipes and one for a free 5$ g/c when you buy said diapers and wipes. Lo and Behold, they could be used in conjunction! Now, the freak had already started a stockpile, before the pooper was even born...but this deal was too good to pass up. So she gathered together her $2 off Pampers diapers and her $2/2 Pampers wipes manufacturer's coupons along with the printable Target coupons and headed over to her local Target store.

Let me break this down for ya...last night I got 6 packs of diapers, 6 jumbo packs of wipes, 3 packages of Oscar Mayer wieners, 3 packages of Teddy Grahams, 2 packs of Kraft singles, a can of Planters nuts and 2 tubes of toothpaste for
*~*drumroll please*~*
$24.xx! Doesn't that just about rock!? For those who haven't purchased poop catchers in a while, the diapers alone should have cost over 60.00!

Here is a picture of the stockpile:
That is over 40 packs of diapers from size 1 to size 4. We've already used at least 10 packs, too. I don't even want to think about how many packs of wipes are in there! Regardless, the count still only adds up to around 100$ in my own money. The rest was coupons or CVS Extra Care Bucks. Sorry it's kinda dark...if you super size the picture you might be able to see it better.

So I feel a tiny bit bad about the waste that represents, but apparently not bad enough to cloth diaper. We did that with GraceAnne for the first 10 weeks and while we only paid about 10 cents per diaper back then, (way cheaper than paying full-price for a pack of 'sposies), I'm paying WAY less than that now, so.....I'll have to think up other ways to stay "green."


Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today is mine and Allan's 2 year wedding anniversary. It was, (at the time), the second most wonderful day of my whole life--being trumped only by the birth of GraceAnne. It was also a beautiful day and I know God was Blessing it, even though I asked Him not to. See, it was like this: I was a non-believer who had grown up in a Christian home. I was very aware of God but didn't like to admit His presence or His power. Allan and I agreed we would have a completely non-denominational wedding and even wrote our own ceremony. It was wonderful, it was amazing, but it was lacking God.

Oh but He was there! We planned a long-distance wedding from Seattle. We went to my home in Wisconsin for it. It had been raining for 2 days straight and everyone kept asking me if I had a back up in case it rained. I was hesitant to make other arrangements and told them it would all work out. I knew it would. Even so, as I was getting my hair and make-up done I was growing ever more concerned that the clouds were not breaking. Allan called me at 2pm to see if I had changed my mind about our location. I told him to call at 4:30pm, (the wedding was to be at 7pm), and we would decide then. At 3:30p it was still pouring, at 3:45 it got darker, at 4 it was not looking good and there was even thunder and lightning. But then...at quarter after 4...the clouds parted and the sun came out and I told everyone I KNEW it would work out. Sure enough, by 7pm the ground was dry and the sky was GORGEOUS.

As the JP wound the ceremony down, he invited God. I hadn't asked him to, I thought I would be upset, but I wasn't. He has always Blessed us so abundantly and He wanted me to know that even if I wasn't going to invite Him, He would be there anyway.

Fast forward to two years later. We are both so different now than we were when we walked down that aisle. I can't believe it's been such a short time ago...it feels like a whole lifetime has passed! We are both such bigger people and happier to boot. I know that God has given us even more Blessings since we were joined in marriage as He wanted. This morning I had a friend come and sit with the girls while Allan and I rode our bikes to a park and had a picnic lunch together. We came back to the guest house and listened to a CD of songs I made for him. He gave me a card that made me cry. It was a wonderful time and I'm so grateful to have these days with my husband!

So now that I've given God His glory, I need to take time to thank someone else...Allan--you are the light of my life. You are my best friend, a wonderful father, a great leader for this family and you are, above all, an inspired husband. You have restored my faith in men and taught me to love completely, without reserve, because I know you'll never hurt me. Even more than that you have showed me that I deserve to be loved, despite all my pitfalls. Because of this I can fully appreciate your love and can accept the love of God, too.

Probably the greatest gifts you have given me are our daughters. The love you show them melts my heart daily. To watch you with your babies makes my heart swell and my soul sing and I could ask for nothing more! I'm so grateful God has granted us 3 beautiful girls to share this life with and I'm more grateful that He gave me such an amazing partner to raise them with. He sure knew what he was doing, even when we didn't!!

I know things haven't always been perfect and they won't always be perfect, either. I would have loved to have been shaved, polished and showered for our "date" today. But I look forward to our 5, 10, 25 and 50 year anniversaries...I promise to be shaved, polished and showered for at least SOME of those! ;) Until then, thank you for loving me the way I am, even though the shabby mom look is probably not what you expected when you met me 5 summers ago.

Happy anniversary, my love!


Beating the Heat

Here we all are at GraceAnne's swim lessons yesterday. It's been very warm, (think close to 100 degrees), the last couple of weeks, so we've been REALLY looking forward to swimming time. The water looks so perfect! I was initially excited I didn't have to get into the pool with GraceAnne, but now I'm wishing Violet were 4 months older so I could suit up and get in, too! Yepp, fat thighs and all!

There will be 2 more contractors here tomorrow morning. Windows/siding and another plumber. Morris said he hopes that these are the last two. Please pray they are and they start on our house soon, because I forgot how miserable it is to walk from an air-conditioned room into a hot-as-heck hallway. It's also pretty awful to go to the bathroom in the heat and especially to take a shower and step out into humid nastiness, almost negating the point of the shower anyway!

Looks like we will be in the guest house for the part of the summer that Rhiya is with us. We'll have to come inside to cook, though. The plus side of this is that it will greatly save us on the energy bill. The guest house is pretty cheap to cool, and if our house is nearly completely shut down, we won't be paying much at all. The downside is that the guest house is about 300 square feet with 1 twin sized bed and 1 full sized bed. This should prove to be interesting since Violet still prefers to sleep with us most of the night. (What was that I was saying about epiphanies the other day?? Yeah...I was wrong.)

Well, I'm going to close this because we have to go rob Target, (i.e. use lots of coupons and walk out with a ton of stuff for really cheap). I hope you all are doing well and keeping cool.


Fat Things!

My daughter and I are huge! I had my 6-week-post-partum check yesterday and everything seems to be good. I'm down to 136lbs, so only 8lbs to go to my pre-pregnancy weight. Again, this does not equate my original pant size, apparently. I keep looking in the mirror and thinking I look normal and people keep telling me I look back to my size, but OBVIOUSLY I am not, if I'm wearing a size 10 shorts. NOW--what I'm thinking is that I'm the same proportions that I was before. Since my boobs are 2 cups sizes bigger, why shouldn't my hips be 2 pant sizes bigger? Well, that's my excuse and I'll continue to use it. Hopefully I'll start to see a semblance of myself within the next couple months. For now, I don't look THAT bad and my tummy is even starting to get flat again. I can deal with that.

At the end of my appointment my midwife asked if I had any questions. I said, "Can we PLEASE weigh Violet??" I was so excited to see how much she weighs. She's 12lbs 8oz!! That's 4.5 lbs in 6.5 weeks. WOOHOO! She is really LONG too, but I won't find out how long until her 2 month appt on the 30th of this month. I'd be willing to bet she gains a bit more between now and then, too. I love my chunky babies, they are so cute!

GraceAnne is doing well, but she's decided she's bored with my errands. I had to go to the Social Security office yesterday to finish up some paperwork and she was bored beyond belief. She was whining and fussing and eventually yelling when we got back into the car and I did my best to ignore her. Then we went to my appointment and at least there were toys there, but on the way back from Dallas she was testing daddy immensely. We ended up not going to swimming lessons and she wasn't too thrilled about that, but hopefully she got the point and today she'll be more apt to listen. What sucks is that taking away swimming lessons=lost money. Those classes cost way too much and with taking one away we may as well have thrown $6 out the window. I suppose that's not such a huge number, but when you budget every penny and only have so much money to do fun stuff with, 6 wasted dollars really isn't cool. Sounds an awful lot like a trip to DQ to me!

I'll post pictures later, I have to take some.


Fantastic Father's Day

Yesterday was pretty awesome! I was nervous, because our plans were to go to the zoo. This typically results in a hot, hungry, too-tired preschooler, a less-than-thrilled and sore amputee and a stressed-to-the-max momma, (why do we still go? HAHA), but we had decided to go to the Fort Worth Zoo for a father's day/birthday celebration. Allan and GraceAnne had never been, but I was there once before I met Allan. It's amazing because it's small, still has lots of cool things to see, and when you get to the end, (it's not in a stupid 80-mile-loop like a lot of zoos), you can hop on a train and ride back to the entrance. So by the time we were too hot and tired to do anymore, we were in "Texas Town" and got to ride the Yellow-Rose Express back to the front so we could leave.

We started the day, though, going to church. When we got home we opened presents. Allan got an Indiana Jones lego set he's been eyeballing for a month and GraceAnne got her bike from us/Gramma Deb & Grampa Bruce. She also got some super-cool wooden toys from Auntie Trish & Uncle Dave, kitchen toys from Mommers and a huge pony castle with LOTS of accessories from Rhiya. You can imagine, I'm sure, which was her favorite. THE PONIES from her big sister! She's in love. I may never see her emerge from her room again.

We went to the zoo after that, which, like I said, was a good time. Violet was an angel and slept through most of it. She woke up to eat twice and sweated her little tail off, but she seems to like the warm weather. GraceAnne had a blast and Allan even said he enjoyed that zoo when we left. I was glad because I was really not so sure about my choice of celebration locations. I think we'll be going there again. I also re-learned to ALWAYS flash Allan's military ID, because we got a pretty good discount for it.

To wrap up the evening we went to Chili's. I love ANY excuse to go out to eat, so I was happy as a lark. GraceAnne was very well behaved at the restaurant and we had a grand time. Violet even let me eat without demanding food of her own. We ended our steak dinners *YUM! Drool* with a chocolate molten lava cake *MMMMM drool more* and went home.

Allan talked to Rhiya twice yesterday and she wished him a Happy Father's Day. She's going to Wisconsin on Tuesday, (I think), and I'm SO JEALOUS!! I want to be going home!! I suppose with all the flooding it's not a great idea right now anyway. Hopefully for Christmas.

So--great day. I wish everyday was Father's Day :D I hope everyone else had a good one, too.


Pictures as Promised


Yesterday was a pretty high-drama day. What day around here isn't, really? The tone of the whole day is typically based on what time of the morning I had to get up and how I feel about that. Yesterday I felt crummy. Hence--crummy mom. This is so pathetic I'm embarrassed to even write it, but I will, because it helps to write it down to remind myself.

GraceAnne and I were pretty much at each other's throats all day. She kept being a total turd to me, her sister and just in general. Her attitude was crappy, (directly related to my own??), and she was sassy as all get-out. I kept having to snap at her because she wouldn't listen to anything. When Allan got home, he had to discipline her a ton, too. It got to the point last night that I told her not to turn Violet's swing on 3x. I told her this because Allan had JUST gotten Vi calmed down after 30 minutes of screaming and she was content to sit in the swing without moving. So GraceAnne looks at me defiantly, turns the swing on the highest setting and promptly covers her butt with two hands because she KNOWS what is coming. So I swatted her anyway. Over her hands. Then I turn the swing off and yell at her that "what is REALLY messed up is that you KNEW what was coming, which says to me that you HEARD what I told you and you KNEW it was wrong!" She covers her ears and yells at me, "THAT HURTS MY EARS!" At which point daddy swoops in, picks her up and takes her to the stairs so she can go to her room. Allan and I were both pretty jarred by this encounter, not to mention Miss GraceAnne. To be fair, this doesn't happen often, but it still happens way too often for my comfort. And let's be honest--I can see it in my daughter's face and hear it in her tone--it won't be long, (if we continue on this path), before she hates us both. And it doesn't work. *sigh*

SO...last night I was sleeping and I had a dream. **GraceAnne had done something wrong that she knew she wasn't supposed to do and I yelled at her and spanked her butt. For some reason I couldn't spank her, it was as if I couldn't get enough force behind my arm to make an impression. I was only tapping her lightly at best. So I was desperately trying to spank her anywhere, her legs, her arms, etc. I took her into the bedroom where Allan was and said, "you spank her." He tried and the same thing happened. We were both unsure of what to do.** Then I woke up to Violet wanting some food. So I told God, "if you want me to get something out of that dream, you had better tell me, because I'm pretty stupid with exhaustion right now." So He said, "the yelling isn't working. the spanking isn't working." I said "I know...I'm sorry." He said, "don't be sorry, just don't do it." (For anyone who doesn't know...this is exactly what I say to my daughter ALL THE TIME because she uses "I'm sorry" to gloss things over. It drives me nuts. So this in itself was pretty convicting!) So I got quiet and thought about that for a while. Then He said, "If you were really walking with me, you wouldn't be constantly behaving this way." And He's right. Something has got to change. That something is me. She's 4-years-old for pete's sake and she doesn't know how to change the situation. Only I do or can.

For anyone who thinks I'm nuts for talking to God, (or I guess the real nutty part would be Him talking back to me), I'm sorry you think that. You can call it my conscience or a dream or whatever you want, but I know in my heart it's God. He didn't used to talk to me and I used to challenge Him to do so. When He wouldn't I would say, "HA! That proves there is no God." But now I know that He doesn't talk to people who really don't want Him to talk to them, so I got smarter about it, asked Him into my life and now we have conversations once in a while. I probably should converse with Him more. He makes me a better person.

I have some super cute pictures of Gracie on Allan's scooter that I will post later. For now I'm going to try to enjoy this Saturday morning with my family. Love and miss you all!


6 weeks old!?

Does every mother enter a time-warp when her children are born and wonder A) How their baby got so big; B) How their child got to be *insert age here* already; C) When the hell she got to be so old and gray?? I had a few epiphanies yesterday regarding Violet and her sleep habits. I figured out she barfs in the night because she's not eating from being hungry, but because she wakes up, sniffs me and then eats to comfort herself. Then pukes all over me and has to stay up for a few hours. So I put her to sleep in her bassinet. This is about the same age I put GraceAnne in hers. She fell asleep an hour early, woke up 2x to eat and slept like a dream while she was in there. This gave me time to go in the bathroom and actually brush my teeth like they should be, as well as LOOK at myself in the mirror. MAN--when did I get so old?? I used to always be one of the younger moms. Now I'm one of the older ones. :( Yes--I knew it would happen, but I didn't think it would happen in the blink of an eye when I wasn't looking!! Good thing my kids are so cute and worth it!
So we've been trying to find our fingers, and sometimes it works, but mostly not so much yet. She's very good at finding them while she's laying on her belly, (which she LOVES), but she's really only good at rubbing her eyes, (which she now does a lot!), when she's on her back.
This picture serves no real purpose except to say I LOVE babies in thick stripes. I don't know why, but it is SO CUTE. GraceAnne had a pair of striped pajamas that someone gave her 2nd hand when she was a baby. They were my all-time favorite on her and I wish I had kept them. They were adorable. So there's our 6-week-old Violet wearing some stylish stripes!
GraceAnne has been watching me so closely regarding Violet. Violet got this little monkey from her Aunt Diane and Uncle Jon and Gracie loves to play with it and pretend it's her baby. Yesterday she was standing up, swaying back and forth and rocking the baby when she turned around and was telling it, "there you go. Yepp, get the milkies." I quietly turned the camera on and said, "GraceAnne, can I see you?" She was nursing the monkey. I'm so glad she thinks it's normal. I still feel a little uncomfortable with it at times.
And there's Violet taking her first bottle. *sniff* I'm excited because this means my super-secret date plans for our anniversary will work, but also a little nervous because she took it SO WELL and once GraceAnne got a bottle we couldn't ever get her to take the breast again. If that happens with Violet I'll pump for her, just like I did for GraceAnne, but it's so much less convenient to take bottles everywhere. I love nursing because the food is already here. All we need is mom, baby and a blanket if we're in public. No time to get a bottle ready, no saying, "oh crap, we forgot the bottle!" and no clean-up, which is the best part! Okay, so sometimes she's sloppy and I have to wipe myself down, but I much prefer cleaning myself to cleaning THINGS. Yepp, I'm a lazy-butt like that. Err...I'm a busy mom like that! ;)


More House News

My mom got Violet that cute little dress while she was here and when I put it on her for church, GraceAnne just HAD to match her and dug out that purple dress of her own. They're so darned sweet! I figured I had to post another picture for the grandparents before I got spanked. Mom is home now and checking on these things again ;)
We had 2 more contractors here yesterday. It was another plumber and the electrician. They said that Morris wants to get things going within the next month. I'm excited as heck, but nervous, too. Rhiya will be here and if we all have to be in the guest house I really will rent a hotel room. Of course, I find this out after we sold the fridge and the stove that was out there. I guess I will still have to come into the house to cook. We got a little fridge from our neighbors, (actually, we traded for the big one...we don't want to encourage super-long stays out there with a huge fridge HA!), so we'll be able to keep milk for cereal out there, but mostly everything will have to stay in the house.
They also told me that they were told they can rip up the walls if they need to because it will all be re-sheet-rocked, textured and painted. This is news to me! I didn't know they were going to redo the inside, too. I'm glad, though, because it's too much for us with Allan in school. He gets lots done when he's on breaks, but its been 2 years and we're still living in a construction zone. We just don't have the time or the money to take on these big projects. It's such a relief to know that by the end of the year we can heat the WHOLE house and I won't have to walk through the cold halls with Violet, or give her a bath in a cold bathroom. No more yelling at kids to shut the kitchen door, either! Oh, how I long for that day! I'm sure they do, too.
So I have a question for ya'll...why is it that at 6 weeks old my daughter is starting to get up for a wakeful time in the middle of the stinking night? Tonight it was 2am. Yeppers, 2am. She finally went back to sleep about 15 minutes ago, so I'm going back to bed, too. This is still not *that* bad, (especially compared to GraceAnne getting up 5x/night), but it's hard to take care of GraceAnne all day when I have had next to no sleep. And yes--I have to get up and remove the grunty one from the room, because Allan needs his sleep for school. He always tells me not to leave, but I think he appreciates it. Or at least he'd better! HAHA
I hope all is well with everyone. We love and miss you all!


College Bound Scooters...

So there is Allan's new toy. It's not really a toy, though, it's a tool. We got rid of the Talon and now he has a scooter. It will get over 60mpg and goes up to 70mph. He knows I don't want him going that fast, but this thing will save us more than half of what he's spending on gas, insurance and maintenance. He'll pick it up this afternoon and ride it home from Dallas. Am I nervous? Sure, a little bit. But he's been wanting a bike since he started this awful commute and given stupid gas prices it seems reasonable to me.

I can't get over it...our girls are never going to have to worry about college! And the best part is we won't go broke saving for them! Rhiya, GraceAnne and Violet are all getting money and I ran some numbers, (because I'm a big fat nerd!). If we never save another dime past the 200/mo they'll get for the next 3 years, and invest the money we do save into college funds at around 8% return, Rhiya will have just over $11,000 for college, GraceAnne will have $19,500 and Violet will have nearly $27,000! Like I said--that's if we never invest another penny! We're going to talk to an investment guy this week about GraceAnne and Violet's accounts. Unfortunately I can't do anything about Rhiya's. Social Security says it all has to go through a legal guardian and it can't have anything to do with the person who is the reason the kids are getting paid. (read: Allan and I can't have anything to do with Rhiya's savings, so we'll just pray that the money is invested, because we can't afford to do much else for her at this point. At least with the little ones we still have 14 and 18 years.) Did I mention that our portion of the investment is only $7200 each? So let's do a little more math, cuz it's fun! Rhiya would have $3800 that wouldn't otherwise be there; GraceAnne would have $12,300 and Violet would have $19,800. That's interest, baby! I love compound interest! Pretty sweet for free money!!

Yeah--so the money wasn't really free. Sometimes I say stuff like that and people look at me like I'm nuts or say, "that must be nice." I fully realize that my husband sacrificed and to those who have the cynical "that must be nice" attitude, I direct this toward you and myself: My husband gave up 6 years of his life, his family and his leg to get the "privilege" of retiring medically from the Army. We have also fought tooth and nail for everything we've been awarded, (i.e. the S.S. battle took 4 years). If anyone else would like to sacrifice so much, I'm sure the government would be willing to take care of them, too.

NOW--the REASON I say it's all "free money" is because we were so well Blessed by his accident just in meeting and having GraceAnne. We got to move to WA state to be with Rhiya for a while and Allan found his career calling after 17 years of trying to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up. Even though it's all related to his injury and we've jumped through so many hoops to get here, I don't think any of this could be attributed to anything we've done. This was all God's plan. He knew what He was doing and He just guided and directed us. The fact that Allan gets to go to school and I get to stay home with our babies is more than enough for me, but now the kids will have college funds and our 2nd mortgage is paid off!? MAN!! It just blows me away!

On that note I'm going to try to go back to bed. This littlest one seems to think now that puking at 4 in the morning is good fun...I'm asking for prayers that God banishes that idea from her little mind, because it's about to take a toll on me. I've been a walking zombie for the last 2 days! Hmm...is that why I've rambled my way through this blog post???


God is SOOO Good!

So even though I woke up this morning to being vomited on--LOTS--at 4:30 and promptly had to take a shower to get the muck off while also de-mucking a barfy baby...and even though my eldest daughter is going to wake my happy butt up again way too early tomorrow, (today? in a couple hours? UGH)...I'm still completely side-swiped by this latest Blessing and I have to write about it. I know sometimes it seems like I'm a cynical jerk who doesn't appreciate a darned thing, but I'm not. I hope you all know I do that on purpose for humor's sake. I try to interject pearls of appreciation here and there; hopefully it's readable.

So Saturday Allan was on the phone with his friend in Russia. We came in the house after GraceAnne's party and I had checked the mail. For anyone who doesn't know--I am OBSESSED with mail. I always have been. When I was a kid I'd get mad if mom checked the mail before I got home from school and could do it. I love to see mail stuffed in the box and I have been known to sign up for free samples and junk mail just to see how stuffed I can get it on a daily basis. Nah--I don't care there's bills in there. We can pay the bills, so they don't scare me. Anyway, I checked the mail and it was a totally sucky day. Who can be signing up for crap with a baby on their lap all the time?? We got a flier, some credit card offer--which I won't even open, I just shred them--and a little note about the dog we got rid of a couple weeks ago. Then I saw a little envelope. I looked at it and I knew it was a check because it was from the Department of Treasury and I could see through the window that it was colorful. Have you ever gotten a treasury check? Then you know what I'm talking about. I figured "hey, it's a piddly 30 bux because Violet was born and added to Allan's pension or something equally mundane, but it will take us out to eat!" So I opened it.


I said, "ALLAN!"
He waved me off as he was still on the phone to Russia.
"ALLAN, what..."
*waving me off, irritated that I have the manners of our 3-year-old*
"ALLAN, WHAT IS THIS?" *shoving the check into his hand*
his jaw DROPS to the floor and he says to his friend, "my wife just handed me a check for enough to pay our 2nd mortgage off."

Okay, that's not EXACTLY what he said, but I'm not going to post the amount here. Let's just say it wasn't enough to take a pleasure cruise for a month in the Mediterranean, but it was enough to pay off the 2nd mortgage, which we've been working on for a while now.

So apparently, after several years and our 3rd appeal, Social Security decided Allan is disabled enough (can I interject a "no shit, sherlock" here? I mean, how lost does a leg have to be??) to qualify for payment. Of course they back pay to the date of application, so we got a big fat check and I'm SO happy to be responsible about it! Most of the time we get a check and I'm so sad we can't have any fun with it. Well let's just say Allan mentioned something about a boat, (used of course), and I said and really *meant* "but when we came back from a day of boating we'd STILL have a 2nd mortgage payment!" He laughed and agreed.

This is totally crazy for another reason, too...this kicks us into the 4th, 5th and 6th baby steps. **Dave Ramsey is a wonderful financial man who changed our lives. I highly suggest you ALL check him out!** For those not currently in the know--this means that we are supposed to start investing for retirement, saving for college for the kids and paying off the 1st mortgage. Okay, that's cool, but how were we supposed to do all that? We can afford to invest once the 2nd mortgage is gone, but we can't afford to save for college and really get serious about paying off the house. The fact of the matter is we got here by the Grace of God and just pure dumb luck and for the meager amount of money we make per year, we should not be sitting where we are. The numbers just don't add up. So today, as I was talking to our Veteran's Rep, (this woman is an ANGEL and everyone should donate money to the Army's Wounded Warrior project. These people are amazing!), she tells me that the kids will be getting checks from S.S. too! They'll get about $200/mo each! That means they're saving for their own college! It's just enough plus a little extra to fully fund their ESA accounts every year. They'll only get this until Allan gets a job, but when he's employed we'll be able to afford to fund them ourselves!

I'm totally overwhelmed right now and completely thrilled. Our Blessings have been too numerous to count, seriously. God has always provided MORE than we've needed throughout our relationship and I'm so happy I want to shout it from the mountaintops. It's not just about money, either...the girls, our home, our relationship...it's all been so well Blessed. I don't know how anyone can think stuff like this is coincidence. I'm sad that I did once, but at the same time glad I did because now I can appreciate it all for what it really is--ABSOLUTELY DIVINE!


GraceAnne's 4th Birthday Party

So here is the cake I referred to in a previous post that I said was so busy. GraceAnne designed every aspect of it by looking at other cakes in the case. She loved it and so did all the other kids! They were all telling me, "I WANT RAINBOW!" or "I WANT A FLOWER!" So cute. No one cared about the name, though. Everyone always wanted to eat the name when I was a kid!

This is GraceAnne, Christopher and Harley eating their chicken nuggets. Part of the party is that all the kids get kids' meals and that was great for me, no cooking, no worrying about forgetting the dip and no clean up!

Here's GraceAnne blowing out her candles. Trista is the little girl with the great smile! The little boy on her other side is Tucker, who loves GraceAnne. She loves him, too. They're great friends :)

Obligatory photo of the presents. She woke up on Saturday and said, "you know what, mommy? today is my birthday." I said, "no, today is your birthday PARTY. Your birthday is next week." She said, "well, I still get presents!!" Yes, it's true...she still got presents.

Tucker and Jackson are twins. Aren't they so cute being naughty??? By the end of the party the only stragglers were the 3 boys and GraceAnne. She had a blast. Uh-oh...she already LOVES playing with boys. Allan is already considering investing in MANY shotguns and a gunrack to go directly on the entry-way wall. I can definitely hear the words "Be back by 9pm...I will be awake cleaning my guns." coming from Allan's mouth to our daughters' dates in our future!

So GraceAnne had a total blast, as did the other kids. They screamed and ran around and made the restaurant absolute chaos, (we confined it to the play area, for those adults who are cringing thinking of wild banshee children stealing fries from random strangers), and she was SO tired when we left. We exchanged numbers with some parents so that we can make playdates and I had a great time because I didn't have to think too much for a couple of hours. The cake was tasty and they brought us ice cream, too. GraceAnne got a Chick-fil-A birthday t-shirt but she said it was "ugly" and when I told her I'd save it for Violet she said, "Little kids don't like stuff like that, MOM!" Did I tell you all she's THREE going on FOURTEEN? *insert eyeroll here*

I'll be scootin' along now. My kids need me. What are they thinking?


My Big Girl

So nearly this whole blog is about Violet--and why wouldn't it be? She's the reason I started it and she's the newest member of our household, but this post will be about the girl who started it all. Miss GraceAnne was born almost 4 years ago on Tuesday, June 15th at 11:29am. She was born in Seattle, WA at a birthing center. I started having contractions at 1pm on Monday, June 14th and labored at home through the night. We went to the birthing center at 7am on Tuesday and the midwife told us we were dilated to 8. It wasn't until 9:30, dilated to 9.5 with a "lip" that they broke my water and I had a hard time with pushing, but 2 hours was so worth it for my darling girl. I cried because her head was shaped like an alien, but I was so amazed that this 7lb 7oz 20 3/4" girl had come from me.

She was always drama, from the start. She was very colicky and would cry for hours on end in the evenings. But she was beautiful, sweet, loved car rides and walks, (so do we!), and was a great eater, too. She started smiling early on and since then has been beaming from ear to ear most of the time. She's always been my "happy morning baby" and is the cuddliest thing when she wakes up.

She was also always very fast. Thanks to reflux and the stubborn will she inherited from her mother AND father, (that's right, Mr. Doyle, YOU TOO! ;) ), she was sitting up at 3 months, crawling at 6 months and walking at 10 months. She said her first real word at 11 months and it was "fishy." She has always been incredibly smart and picks things up very quickly. By age 2 she was having conversations with us in full sentences and potty training.

Her big sister is her whole world and they were the very best of friends while we lived in Washington state. We lived there for the first 25 months of GraceAnne's life and I'm so glad she got that bonding time with Rhiya. She still adores Rhiya and looks up to her in so many ways. She literally counts down the months, weeks and days until we get to see her again. (last night we talked about how we will get to keep "Rhy-Rhy" in a month)

She loves her family, and lights up whenever she hears we're going to have some visiting. She's super-excited that we got to see Aunt Claudia, Aunt Linda, Uncle Jim and Uncle Duckie last month, along with Gramma and Grampa Bruce last weekend. She's thrilled to have her Aunt Trishie coming next month, too.

Her favorite playmate is her Daddy and when he comes home from school she takes off like a bolt of lightning to the front door to jump on him, hug him and tell him she missed him today. On the weekends she loves to crawl onto the bed with him and tell him how excited she is that she gets to "keep him" today.

She is over-the-moon about her new baby sister and tells everyone she sees about her. When we are out, her most frequently uttered phrase is, "Isn't baby Violet so cute?" Most assuredly, she is, and so is GraceAnne!

She is a sassy pants and still, so much drama. I think she will have a knack for theatre or law when she is in school. She is her mother's child through and through, even though she looks just like dad! Even so, she is very thoughtful, kind and loving and would go to any lengths to make her mommy, daddy and sisters smile.

GraceAnne's birthday is important to me for more reasons than just celebrating our little girl, though. To me, her birth marks the day that I knew I was going to stay in this for better or worse--for my little girl. Her conception brought 2 people together who had never imagined they could or would be together forever. Obviously God had a great hand in the matter, as I was not supposed to be able to have children thanks to an illness when I was a teenager. Here we all are--older, wiser, loving each other better with every passing day and CONSTANTLY learning from each other. Husband-Wife-Daughters through it all, and nothing could be more important or precious than that!


Lots of Things

So I guess that would be me, about as close to normal as I'll see for a while. I broke down and bought some size 10 shorts for myself so I could be comfortable and not wear maternity clothes all summer long. The crazy part is--I'm just about to my "normal" weight, but still 3 sizes bigger, so I guess I lost a lot of muscle mass and replaced it with fat. *sigh* Check out those arms, though, they're getting some tone again! Nothing like bouncing a baby/carrying around a carseat all day to build upper body strength! And I'm considering at least 8 lbs to be breast. Gotta love breastfeeding--the only time in my life I'll actually have some chest to show off!
Tomorrow is GraceAnne's 4th birthday party. *sniff* I can't believe she is so big and so grown-up. On the other hand, I have a hard time believing she's only 4. Sometimes I expect way too much of her. Yesterday we had a dramatic day. I flipped a little too hard about the way she was eating her lunch, (like a pig, really), and she sassed me and I yelled at her for that and then she cried and then I cried and then...well...I told her not to be like mommy. That it's not cute to sass or be a brat and that mommy is not nice and not a very good example and that she should be like Miss Betty. (Miss Betty is her Sunday School teacher and she's probably the most patient, kind, loving person in GraceAnne's life.) So a little while later she was still eating and I was cleaning the kitchen and she showed me a woodpecker and I got all excited like a proper mommy of a 3-year-old should be and I went back to my duties and she said, "Mommy, I love you." I told her I love her too and she BEAMED and said, "SEE, MOM!! You ARE nice!" So of course I ran over and held her and stroked her hair and told her I was sorry and cried like a big baby. She patted my back and I lost it even more. I can't believe what a wretched mother I am sometimes. I could use prayers for patience, because I have none most of the time and it leaks over onto my family in a big way.
Anyway, I'm super excited about her party and so is she! We're going to Chick-fil-A and the kids will all play and have chicken nuggets. Of course I will post pictures of the birthday girl tomorrow and her cake. It was so obviously designed by a 3-year-old! It's going to be SO BUSY, but she's absolutely thrilled with it, so it's fine by me! For her actual birthday, which is on Father's Day this year, (HOW COOL IS THAT!?), we're going to the Fort Worth zoo. Allan and GraceAnne have never been there and it's a lot more user friendly than the Dallas zoo, (read: Allan will have an easier time walking all over the place there), because it's smaller, flatter and shadier.
Also, our anniversary is coming up on the 21st. I'm excited, because I have an awesome surprise afternoon date planned! *shhhhhhh!* But I'm embarrassed to say it's only our 2 year anniversary. That seems insane, given we've built a life together and it has certainly taken longer than 2 years! So just to justify myself, (or maybe condemn myself??), I will say this: August 20th is the 5 year anniversary of our being introduced. Yeah, you can do a little math if you want, I don't mind...God had bigger plans for us than we had for ourselves at the time.
Well, Miss GraceAnne just woke up, so it's time to make breakfast. Hope all is well with everyone, we love and miss you all!


In a Jam

My neighbor brought over a 5 gallon bucket of plums on Friday. He has a tree and harvest came earlier than I remembered it being. Last year I made 26 jars of plum jam and it was, according to all who tasted, very good. I always feel good about doing these old country type things because it reassures me that if the next depression were to hit small town, TX I could still feed my family thanks to good soil, decent rain and a knowledge of canning. When he lugged over that huge bucket of plums I was glad most of them were still green, because my mom and Bruce were here, so I wanted to be free of activity that would keep me from spending my time with them.

Those little plums sat until Monday, when some piece of me, (who obviously forgot I have 2 children now), thought I could get them boiled, at least! Well, since it now takes me nearly 2 hours to get out the door with these two, we were on the run until 5pm, when I had to take Gracie to swim lessons. By the time we got home, Allan was here to take care of the kids, but it was dinner time for BOTH girls and since Daddy was born without mammary glands, that requires me to sit and be still for fairly long amounts of time. Since Vi likes to eat, belch and cry from about 8pm-10pm, I got nothing done with the fruit.

So last night when I got home from swimming lessons I noticed the very sweet smell emanating from my laundry room. You got it--the plums are no longer green, they are RIPE and starting to burst. I announced to Allan that I HAD to get the jam done TONIGHT and passed off both the kids. That lasted through about 2 boilings, (read: not even half the bucket), and I only managed to get half of the boiled ones peeled and pitted before he was about to rip his hair out, because :let's face it: Daddy just can't soothe the baby in the evening the way Mommy can. Poor guy! It has nothing to do with his fathering skills--he's a fabulous dad and we all adore him. But he's not a dairy cow, and as far as Violet is concerned, she who makes milk makes smiles and nothing less will do!

So I hurried and cleaned my mess as best I could, (I would have immediately dropped the whole project but A) I feel obligated to Leon, who picked all those plums in the hopes of some wonderful spiked jam and B) it looked like I had murdered someone very sloppily at my kitchen sink and I am terrified of creepy-crawlies, so it had to be taken care of. I have a pan of plum pulp and a pan of boiled plums in my fridge waiting for me when Allan comes home tonight. Maybe I can actually get the one pan peeled and pitted. There will probably not be anymore than 6 jars this year. :(

So--someone please remind me that the picture above is my lot in life for the next several months and to not plan anything fun or productive until that time. Also pray that I can be content in that, because this will not last very long and someday I'll wish I could still sniff her sweet baby scent and rub her tiny baby feet--but she'll be big and too busy to let me rub her or sniff her.

Hope everyone is well! We love and miss you--go ahead and post a comment!! It helps to know someone reads my ravings ;)


The Incredible Vomiting Baby

This is what a houseful of REALLY tired kids looks like. *yawn* And Mommy is even more tired. GraceAnne started swim lessons yesterday and was totally tuckered out from being in the pool in the sun, but still didn't go to sleep until 10pm last night and decided to get up at 7:15am. Again, we're missing our sleep mark by quite a bit here. Think more along the lines of 11 hours as necessary for a sassy-pants 3-year-old, ("but I'll be 4 on June 15!!").

Vi--that's a whole other story. She's super-congested and so keeps vomiting. The snot is too sticky to stay in her belly, or something, and she coughs and gags while she's eating. Sometimes, (3 times yesterday!!), this leads to barfing up copious amounts of my liquid gold and that results in a bath and a brain-sucking session with the nasal aspirator, which she adores. Fortunately she still looks fat and happy, so we're alright I guess. We brought the humidifier into the room and I'm sitting up to feed her at night, (OH THE AGONY!!), instead of using a side-lying position and after she tossed her cookies at 3am we put her to sleep in her carseat so she'd be upright. Hopefully it all helps. We shall see.

I'm one sleepy momma today. Wish me luck!


I miss my MOMMY!!

My mom and Bruce were here for 4 days. It was a VERY nice visit. They took off at about 6:30 this morning on their way to Mississippi and I already miss them so much. I love to see my mom with the girls and it makes my heart swell whenever the girls get to interact with a good man, so all 4 days I was marveling at Bruce and the babies. He's a great guy and I'm so glad my mom was blessed with him! GraceAnne was absolutely over the moon about Bruce and Gramma being here and Violet was charming as ever.

Bruce and mom both say that fish and relatives have 1 thing in common: they both stink after 3 days. I tend to agree with them most of the time, but I really wasn't done with them yet. I wish they could have stayed another week! I miss my mom so much--but the dilemma is this: I don't want to move back "home." I didn't like being cold while I was there. The summers are miserably humid and I just...don't like it much. I LOVE Texas. I love the home we've made here and the area and the town and our neighborhood and mostly our neighbors!! I've never lived in a place where I felt so "at home" in my whole life. I'm sure we could find that elsewhere, but I don't know.

Allan has been wanting to move north forever, so I guess we'll see where God wants us to end up. I just really wish they'd move closer to us! HA! If they were even 6 hours away I know we'd put it in the budget to go see them once a month or so. Oh well, if wishes were horses, eh?