The Best of Months, the Worst of Months

I can't believe July is almost done. It's been a great month and we've been so busy, but I'm glad to say it's almost over, really. My emotions have been at full tilt and I am having trouble dealing with a lot of things right now. The best medicine for that is to talk about all the good stuff, so here goes:

Rhiya got here on the 5th, as you all know and she'll be with us until the 6th of August. She's growing up and while that is sometimes frustrating, (couldn't they all be cuddly and sweet like Vi forever?), it's neat to see. I'm just grateful we get to see her sometimes and we get to spend an extended period of time with her in the summers. Both she and GraceAnne are obsessed with their baby sister and that couldn't make me any happier!

The girls worked on a lemonade stand this month. They put it up two weekends in a row and had a lot of fun making money, but also learned about business. I *tried* to teach them about thinking ahead, inventory, not eating our profits, reinvesting and tithing on our earnings. The first weekend they made $55 and the second weekend it was more around $24. They haven't done it again yet, I'm not sure if they will, but the first weekend they opened it, the Ennis Now magazine came to take their picture and we're hoping to see them in it next month. How fun!

Allan's buddy from the Army--Chris, Chris' wife Katya and Chris' twin brother Don came to stay with us for a weekend, too. Since Chris left the Army, he's lived in Russia and he and Allan haven't seen each other in 7 years. We had a lot of fun with them! Even though I was nervous to meet people who mean so much to Allan, they are so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. I'm sure I had talked to them way too much by the time they left, but I must say it was nice to have some adult conversation. While they were here we went to Lake Bardwell and had a picnic lunch of brats and chicken and veggies. It was a great time and the kids got to swim, so everyone was very happy! We were sad to see them go and hope they have a great time on the rest of their trip. Since they've gone we've been talking about saving up to go to Russia sometime. Allan has always wanted to visit there and I think it'd be a great time. Now if I can just get him to start listening to his Russian tapes again and teaching the kids!!
Allan's sister, Trish came to visit for a weekend, as well. It was so great to have her here and I wish she could come once a month! The kids enjoy her just as much as we do, (maybe more, even!!), and she's so great to them. She really makes an easy house guest, for sure. While she was here we went to the Farmer's Market, took the kids to make mosaics and made GraceAnne a princess canopy for her bed. We were all very sad to see her go!
So now that the month is almost done, I'm almost ready to breathe a sigh of relief. Allan has 20 days off of school coming up after next week and I'm looking forward to having some time with my husband and getting some help with the kids. I did ask for a busy summer, didn't I? Well, I got it. Thank You, Lord! :)


Sh*ttiest Mother of the Year

When we got pregnant with GraceAnne the advice came rolling in; and along with it, funny stories about what other moms did in their post-partum deliriums. So many stories were about leaving their child--carseat and all--someplace while they went on as if they'd never had a baby. The prospect of this mistake terrified me and I never laughed at one of those stories. Thankfully, even though I had MONO and was exhausted beyond all measure, we managed to never leave GraceAnne anywhere.

Until today. Of course today is Sunday so we went to church. Actually, it happened like this. We go to church at 9:20am so we can eat breakfast before Sunday School. Violet woke me up at 7am and went back to sleep at 8:15am. I thought, "I can get about an hour of rest if I lay down now!" I was already dressed, and Violet was dressed and bathed. The next thing I remember, Allan is saying to me, "it's 9:20." I just looked at him and he walked out of the room. Violet woke me up at 10am. I went downstairs, found I was alone; checked for the car, saw it was gone. Figured they'd all gone to church and let me sleep. So I decided to plop down on the couch, feed Violet and then strap her to my chest and walk to church. That's what we did and I made it to the church, (about 4 blocks away), around 10:20am. I said 'hi' to lots of people in the fellowship hall who were oohing and aahing over Vi in her front pack and sunglasses. Then I sat down with my class, who all smiled and said 'good morning.' The seat I chose was next to Allan and Trish. After a few minutes, Allan turned to me and asked, "did you bring GraceAnne with you?"


I inadvertantly left my 4-year-old daughter at home. Of course the panic rose up in me immediately and I said "KEYS!" I sprinted out of the church and drove about squalled tires out of the parking lot and drove 50mph home, crying and pleading with God to 'PLEASE let her still be sleeping!'

She wasn't. When I found her she was at the top of the stairs crying silently. I picked her up and carried her into her room and held her and squeezed her and gave her kisses and told her I was so sorry. She said 2 things to me: "Where's Daddy?" and "I wanted you." I managed to get her dressed and her hair combed without crying too much because I didn't want to scare her, but I was a wreck.

After letting her pick her own pretty dress for church and taking her out for pancakes and taking her to Mosaic Madness where she got to make a mosaic unicorn she seems to be okay, but I am still a ball of nerves. What a schmucky mom!

The difference between those women's stories and mine? When they realized they'd left their infants, they went back; only to discover the babies sleeping peacefully in their carseats or playing happily with their hands. When I came back home my baby had been wandering the house calling for her mommy and found no one. She had already moved past the wailing stage, which is always first, and gone to the silently weeping stage--reserved solely for those moments when mom sucks the very worst. Those other babies will have absolutely no recollection of the event whereas I'm praying my baby doesn't have issues of abandonment forever. *sigh* Someone kick me.


And We're Back!

Finally got my computer back. I'm glad to have it back but kinda not, too. Now I'm going to have to listen to my 2 eldest daughters whine and complain about wanting to be on it and I'm going to be getting back into my money-making things, so I'll be busy again and well...I guess I'm just never pleased.

I don't have much time to blog today, my kids are on my nerves, but I wanted to say "hey, I'm back!" and post a picture or two of the sweetest little baby EVER. She's so calm and sweet and I think I have kissed bald spots into her head.

Can someone please come and help me clean my house? Trish is coming this weekend and it's a royal wreck. I have a million and one things to do and Violet is obsessed with being held and talked to. The truth is I love to hold her and talk to her, much more than doing work, so many times I just give in to what she wants and I get squat done. Any takers? I could use the adult company, too ;)


I'm not the same...

...person I used to be. In most ways that's a good thing. I don't think it's a complete change, because my personality is the same, but my roles have changed. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as Rhiya is hitting puberty and headed full-force into becoming a teenager. It really wasn't so long ago that I was there. I'm 26 now, and while that feels so far away from 18, I'm not so far disconnected that I don't remember. But I am far enough away to realize teenagers are know-it-all punks who think of not much besides themselves. I don't think they mean to be--I know I didn't--but, still, that's the way it works. The ignorance is almost cute when they're not smug about themselves. I'm also not saying I don't enjoy teenagers. In fact, a couple we are good friends with has 3 teens who I get along with fantastically and I love to joke with them. I'm just nervous about how much changes in a seemingly short amount of time and how much will apparently still change based on what I've seen in my older friends. Some days I feel like I've bent all I can and I'll snap back any moment now.

Here are the 5 biggest changes:

1. I now lean on God and strive to be a better Christian. This is the biggest and probably the best change. I suppose most people would assume becoming a mommy would capture those two titles...I sure did...but anyone can be a mother. While it's special and amazing and my most important role on this earth, nothing can beat having a Heavenly Father to turn to in my most worn-out times. Faith keeps me forward-facing and hopeful. My life was so empty without God--even with children.

2. I don't fight my husband anymore. I don't mean to say we never have an argument, because we do. But I don't fight our roles anymore. **gee, none of you ever knew me as argumentative, did you?!?** For a long time I thought I could be just as good as he is and do the same things he does and maybe even do them better and I took every challenge as a direct insult to myself. ('I am woman; hear me roar,' much??) I was so exhausted doing this...I get tired just remembering it! I was constantly on the look-out for criticism and always on my guard. The day I finally realized that we are different for a very good reason and both equally important was an enormous victory for us both. I know he was tired of my being on edge as much as I was. I'm glad I know now that our children need us to be polar opposites in some cases, and that it's the way God intended for us to be. It makes things a lot easier and helps me to appreciate Allan, too.

3. I am less of a child than my children are. I do still fall into traps. I still argue with my 4-year-old sometimes. I still melt down when I'm tired like my 2.5-month-old. I still get a pissy little attitude and roll my eyes like my 11-year-old on occasion. For the most part, though, I'd like to think I command just a bit of authority in the household and every day I try a bit harder to be sure that I act my age instead of my shoe-size. This is less than easy, to say the least. I've always been stubborn and strong-willed and a know-it-all. (Is GraceAnne my just desserts?) I'm sure my mom will laugh when she reads that and think that it's an understatement. Hahaha. But! Yesterday I managed to have a real conversation with Rhiya about something that REALLY made me mad and I didn't yell or have a condescending attitude. (yeah-sometimes I *really* don't realize I sound that way, folks) I know this because she wasn't sad at any point during the conversation and didn't leave the room upset. In fact, she came to me a few minutes later and asked me to help her name her Littlest Pet Shop pets. SCORE ONE FOR MOM! She can be taught!

4. My priorities have changed. It used to be those 3 would have been completely backwards. I thought putting God or my husband first meant I loved them more and my mom has this uncanny ability of putting her children before anything else in the whole world, so I thought that meant loving nothing and no one else for a long time. I am glad to know I was wrong. She tried to teach me that lesson a few times as a young-adult and it always fell on deaf ears, but now I can see what she meant. Just because my priorities are God, husband, children does not mean I love my children less, it just means that I realize the importance of things. It's like when Violet is crying because she is hungry at the same time GraceAnne wants a snack. Violet can't very well walk to the fridge and get a yogurt, so she is top priority. That doesn't mean I don't love GraceAnne as much--it only means that Violet's need is more directly based on me at that moment. God and Allan will be who's left when our children leave this house, so I can't neglect those relationships in lieu of my kids, because then I'll have nothing when they leave.

5. I'm so happy. I spent a lot of time being miserable and scared as a kid. The crap with my step-grandfather left me feeling alone a lot of the time. I still struggle with that, but deep in my soul I'm happy. I have Jesus, a fantastic husband, 3 beautiful girls and our life is so very Blessed. I really hope that Joy flows from me onto everyone I talk to and everyone who sees me. I am so tired most nights, (last night I don't remember falling asleep, rolling away from Allan's arms, or even picking Violet up out of the bassinet to feed her I was so exhausted), and most days I don't have time to shower, eat properly or even do much past throwing on some pants and putting my hair in a ponytail. I know I could be a truly scary sight to anyone in the outside world, but my hope is that despite that, I exude Joy and Love, and that--like my sister-in-law Trish--people are moved by the way I lead my life and want to learn more about what makes it so great.



Well, my computer decided to take a dump on me, so Allan thought he'd wipe it clean and reinstall the OS. We figured it'd be a 2 day project to move all of my important stuff onto the external drive, wipe the computer and get it rebooted. WRONG--one of the discs has some scratches on it so the computer won't read anything. We have to order new discs and they can take 7 business days to reach us. Fantastic. So in the mean time, I have nowhere to download my photos and nowhere to vent my frustrations. I sneak on Allan's laptop when I can find a spare moment, but I won't be updating this much until we get my PC up and running, because this thing is a pain in the butt.

Everything is going well with the girls. They had a lemonade stand this weekend and made $55. I was trying to teach Rhiya about business and responsibility and serving the public. I think some of it sunk in, but the biggest motivator was the money, of course. They intend to put it up every weekend to make some spending money for the summer. Ennis NOW magazine came out to take their pictures. It should be published in the next edition of the magazine. HOW COOL! Rhiya is pretty excited about that.

Violet is getting so big and she's so interactive now. She really likes to be talked to and loves to talk back. I got my first fantastic giggle out of her a week or so ago. I almost cried. GraceAnne wouldn't laugh at me until she was 5 months old, so this is pure bliss and I'm eating it up. She loves to talk to her daddy--he and her sisters are her whole world.

I'll cut the update short here. I know it gets boring without pictures to look at. Hopefully within the next week. Hope all is well with everyone!


All Our Babies...

...in one spot!! Rhiya got here on Saturday and we've been running non-stop since. I suspect the whole month will be like this and go way too fast. Before I post pix of Rhiya and GraceAnne, let me show you a SUPER CUTE picture of Allan and Vi. Don't beat me--this is the way they uploaded, folks!
AWWW, aren't they the sweetest?!?

Here's GraceAnne and Rhiya with a "nest" they made. GraceAnne said there were 100 eggs, but Rhiya informed me there were actually only nine. Either way--adorable!
Here they built a fort in GraceAnne's room. They were pretty creative, I must say, because they had to figure out how to make it without chairs. I told them they weren't allowed to cart the chairs upstairs.
And because I absolutely can't resist my husband being cute with the baby, here's another. She's helping him out! Don't they look like a couple of geeks, staring at the screen with an R2D2 shirt on? SO CUTE!
Everyone is fully enjoying Rhiya being here. She and GraceAnne are getting along pretty fabulously. What never ceases to amaze me is how young I realize GraceAnne is when Rhiya is here. She really is *only* four. Whatever that means to us adults, it apparently means a need for much love, attention and playtime for kids. I'm sure that seems fairly obvious to you all, but having a child who acts at least 3x her age makes it difficult to remember at times.

Hope all is well with you all! We love and miss you.


Happy Independence Day!

I broke out the Nikon for the first time since Vi was born today. Not the greatest results, as it was impromptu and my backdrop is very make-shift, but cute, nonetheless.

Happy Independence Day to everyone out there! Today makes me think of my husband--who served in Iraq--and my Grandpa Wendell--who served in Korea. I know that both fought for what they believed was right and all the while they were gone, longed for the types of things we do today to celebrate this nation's independence. So I will be sure to be super-grateful for their sacrifices, (Allan of his leg and Grandpa of his new bride), as we take the kids swimming with friends and grill burgers today...I will give an extra measure of appreciation as we stand in awe of the fireworks tonight...I will thank God that he brought the two most important men in my life back from war relatively unscathed...and I will pray for all the men and women who continue to serve this country.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!


2 Months Old!

Wow, our baby is 2 months old! She hardly seems, (or looks!), like a newborn anymore. She's smiling to beat the band, laughing, wiggling A LOT and likes to try to sit up. She thinks she's big and at 13lb 2.5oz she fits the bill for sure!!

So...after 2 months, I'm not so traumatized and I can even take a joke about getting pregnant again. Until this afternoon...Violet was straining so hard trying to fart, I guess. She was crying and fussing and pushing and turning red. In that instant I remembered the sheer horror of giving birth and I have been hurting ever since. What on earth was I thinking?! How did I allow myself to forget?! I promised myself on May 1 I would never forget the agony of childbirth and here I am--2 short months later--SMILING at newborns again?! Say it ain't so.

God has a funny way of making us feel okay with procreation. I think back on life before Violet and it seems she was always there. I remember specific times when I was doing things while pregnant, (Thanksgiving dinner, shopping with Marie and the kids, going to prenatal appointments), and I don't remember having a belly or being pregnant or even being kicked from inside. Of course I *know* these things happened. I *know* I relished the time and tried so hard to savor the moments and lock them in my mind. I *know* I complained about being uncomfortable and tired...but I just don't really recollect exactly how it was. And I'm shaking my head at myself that I am suddenly "okay" with the idea of doing it all again. WTH is wrong with me?