Monday, January 19, 2015

Another Teenager in the House!

So, last week was Soccer Boy's 13th birthday!  I need to get his birth story posted but it involves non-digital pictures and I have to figure out our new printer's scanner so it will have to wait.  His birthday weekend involved another cold weather storm (figures).  They were predicting sleet but thankfully it really wasn't that bad out this time around.  His birthdays always seem to involve winter storms, the days surrounding his birth were filled with lots of snow.  On his actual birthday the family celebrated by picking him up some Smokey Bones nachos and playing a few games of his newest gift:
Ticket to Ride!
The game takes some time to play (think Monopoly), so we've only played it twice.  Firstborn won the inaugural game (just barely, only 6 measly points ahead of me)!  Doug won the second round.  We picked up an ice cream cake, per Soccer Boy's request, and headed to my folk's house a day ahead of the bad weather to celebrate with them.  He finally got his fishing cake (reference goldfish cake from last year).
Happy 13th!

The whole gang...

We were supposed to go to a local indoor gym, but when we arrived they were closed due to the expected bad weather.  Since we were out and about I went ahead and took the kids shopping at the pet store and Toys R Us to spend their Christmas money.  It was a real treat for them because we avoid that store like the plague.  Taking the kids there tends to give them a case of the "gimmies" Berenstain Bear style.

This past weekend we finally made it to the postponed gym date...
Soccer Boy on trampoline

Firstborn scaling the cargo net
Game Boy & Princess in background

Still working the net

Princess on ring swing

Game Boy on obstacle course

Flipping on the trampoline
It was a really neat obstacle course and they had a worker there to teach them how to use the equipment properly.  He also taught Firstborn how to do a official "drop" (landing bottom first, legs straight on the mats).  He was allowed to do a drop off the platform that was something like 20 feet up, suspended from the ceiling.  The actual drop was only maybe 10 to 12 feet to the mat, but still crazy high!  I wouldn't have been able to do it, but Firstborn enjoyed it.

So now I guess we're the parents of two "official" teenagers!  Firstborn will be working on getting his driver's permit soon.  Good times ahead!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Starting the New Year Right - In 7 Quick Takes

Thanks to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for hosting 7 Quick Takes (check out the new logo).  I'm linking up there to start the new blogging year on the right foot...

1.  Here I thought we were finally getting healthy at our house.  But no, the fun is not over yet!  Doug and I are still in recovery mode and I had to take Toddler Boy in to the doctor's office this morning.  He appears to have what everyone else is dealing with, runny nose, congestion, cough, high fever for days on end.  He also is the lucky recipient of an ear infection.  Hi Ho, Hi Ho it's off to the pharmacy I go...
Poor guy, taking a much needed nap
2.  This is quickly adding up to lack of sleep for days on end again.  Because I guess God decided I didn't learn the whole insomnia patience lesson well enough the the first time around.  (Or it has something to do with having more than one child).  Maybe I'm not the type of person who should be responsible for multiple children?  This whole illness/lack of sleep/stir crazy quarantine to the house situation is showing me ALL of the spiritual areas in which I am sorely, sorely lacking.

3.  Doug and I ran out together to return some of the videos we had rented over New Years.  I'm assuming this qualifies for "couple alone time"?  When we got back to the house we actually sat outside in the cold car, in the dark, in the driveway for probably 15 minutes while I poured out to him all this insecurity about motherhood that I've been dealing with lately.  Neighbors probably think we're crazy (and they would be right)!  The next day I was cleaning off a shelf and ran across a book I had received as a gift a few years ago that I actually haven't read yet.  So I was thumbing through it and came across this section:

"Now, most young mothers will tell you that they have to resist the urge to take their babies back from others who are holding them, because maternal instinct tells you your baby is really comfortable only in your arms.  But when I saw Jesus holding Christopher, I had no urge to take him.  I could feel that he was just as at home in Christ's arms as he was in mine.  It was that feeling - the reassurance that Christopher was not just in good hands, he was in God's hands - that enabled me to give him completely over to God.  It was then and there that Jesus gave me the peace that passes understanding and carried me through the next week in the hospital...

It was in that moment I learned to let go of the need to be in control and learned that God was my true source of power.  Trusting in Him rather than myself - that was the secret, and that was the lesson I learned through this.  But I was enabled to hand over my baby to Him only because the hands into which I relinquished him were loving, strong, and powerful."

excerpt from Mommy Grace, Erasing the Mommy Guilt, by Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman

Love how God orchestrates these little instances in my life.  Maybe the chapter spoke to me because I've been dealing with sick children lately, or because I've had a baby in the NICU and intimately knew that out of control and helpless feeling that a parent experiences.  The book is a pretty light read, the chapters are short but encouraging.  Perfect for this season in my life.  It reminds me how God always has my back and He always provides what I truly need.  He continues to feed my soul.

4.  Saint Name Generator.  I've got to hand it to Jen, I love this little invention.  Last year I got Mother Teresa, which was interesting because I had been drawn to her writing for other reasons and the generator just kind of confirmed what I was already doing.  Over the summer Firstborn and I checked a secular book out of the library that documented her life.  I started keeping a list of all her quotes that I would randomly come across that spoke to me.  Maybe I'll do a post listing them all and link it back here.  This year I got Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.  I'm especially interested in his writings concerning uniformity with God's will and excited about what the new year has in store.

5.  Along those same lines, I'm thinking of doing this book as my Lenten read this year:

Leila over at Little Catholic Bubble recommended it.  I admit that I'd like to start reading it right now, but I don't think I have the time to devote to it (see number 3).  My bible study group is finishing up the book on JOY and I want to use my spare mental energy to get the homeschooling kick started in the new year.  So I'm forcing myself to not purchase a kindle copy and get a head start.

We got our new Kindle Fire in the mail over the holidays and I just recently had time to get it up and running.  For now, this one is going to be my kindle and the old kindle will be for the kids.  I'm sure that plan will bite the dust the first time I need the kids to watch a video on it (like, when we're driving down to Florida on vacation).  But for now it's mine, all mine!

 I'm really enjoying the Christmastide season this year.  Maybe it's because we've been so sick that we really weren't able to celebrate properly on the actual day.  The last time I was able to receive communion was at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  I've been pretty much home bound ever since.  I will admit that the house is looking quite a bit better.  When not on nursing detail I've been using my spare time and energy to declutter and clean.  I've even been cooking!  I think my family forgot I know how to bake.
Cranberry Almond Cinnamon Rolls!!
This is a recipe I snagged from a 2002 Dierbergs flyer a number of years back.  You can substitute raisins for the dried cranberries and pecans for the almonds and it's just as good.  Here you go...

1 pkg. (16 oz) hot roll mix (or if you have a homemade yeast roll recipe, use that)

1/4 C. butter, melted
1/3 C. sugar combined with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pkg. (5 or 6 ounces) dried cranberries
1/2 C. sliced almonds

1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Prepare dough according to package directions.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll into 10 x 15 inch rectangle.  Spread butter evenly over dough, then sprinkle cinnamon sugar, dried cranberries and almonds over dough.  Starting at 15 inch side, tightly roll dough jellyroll style.  Cut into 1 inch slices and place in greased 9 x 13 pan.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.  Combine glaze in bowl and drizzle over rolls.  Enjoy!!

8.  Bonus take...because you all know here in the U.S. that Season 5 of Downton Abbey is airing tomorrow night, right??  Even Doug has begrudgingly started watching it with me, I'll make him a fan yet.

Please ignore all the poor style and choppy writing, I haven't had much sleep lately.  Wishing everyone a healthy Christmastide season!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12 in 2014

Linking up with Dwija over at House Unseen for an end of the year photo review.  So here's 12 pictures from 2014...

Happy Birthday Soccer Boy!!
Soccer Boy's birthday is in early January.  This year we were trapped in the house for the celebration due to a bad ice storm blowing through the area.  (It would not be the last winter storm in 2014).  I did a Paleo Whole30 eating plan this month and lost 30 lbs. in the process.  We also had some repair issues, with the computer, washing machine and van all breaking down at the same time.  Home ownership for the win!!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
We spent most of this month inside the house.  It was bitterly cold outside, the kids could only go out and play in the stuff for minutes at a time.  The amount of time it takes to get the little ones bundled up in their snowsuits, boots and gloves is more than the actual time spent in the snow!  The area schools were on constant snow days, which made my homeschool kids insanely jealous.  Due to being under house arrest we did end up getting lots of homework done.  The rest of the neighborhood went to school until June.

Happy Birthday to me!!
March starts our family birthday season, with four landing in this month, including mine.  I hit a milestone as this is the year I turned 40!  (Princess just told me I "look like a teenager" in the above picture, how sweet)!  Basically it's all cake and parties every weekend.  The cold weather started to thaw this month as we traded snow storms for tornado warnings.

Happy Easter!
This Easter we had one with a stomach bug so we had to skip the extended family parties.  It's also Firstborn's birthday month and I finally managed to get his birth story posted.  I also did a post about my miscarriage, with 2014 being the ten year anniversary of our baby's heavenly birthday.  Soccer Boy also played on a spring soccer team, with Doug as his coach.

Firstborn's 8th Grade Graduation
Finally, some great weather!  Lots of pictures, we spent some weekends out in the country visiting our folks.  Mother's Day, Memorial Day and Eighth Grade Graduation (where we all managed to dress up and arrive on time).  We started a bathroom remodel (which is still in process) and God used the time to teach me about JOY.  I was bored while waiting for Jen's book to arrive, so I did a post about sex.  The pool opened at the end of the month which led to...

Swim Team!!
The entire month seemed to be dominated by Soccer Boy's swim team schedule.  Daily practice and two late night swim meets each week, which requires one adult (me) to work each meet.  It was a cool month, weather wise, and we had a few meets in the rain (if it wasn't storming) or rain delays.  It was a great learning experience for Soccer Boy, he enjoyed the process and did well for his first year on the team.  This does not surprise me, as physical stuff always comes second nature to him.

Princess in a parade
Lots of swimming and summertime fun.  Princess and Game Boy got to be in our hometown parade with their Dad.  The older boys went to a fishing church camp for a week.  Soccer Boy competed in the Midwest Swim Conference.  The entire family had a round of influenza that threw me for a loop.

Last day at the pool
We spent the month enjoying the end of summer.  We headed to the pool almost daily, with the younger kids learning to swim and the older ones doing flips off the diving board.  Our homeschool year started near the end of the month, and I did a post about how I homeschool.  Ironically, this is also the first year Princess is attending the local public school.

Toddler Boy at petting zoo
We attended my niece's 3rd birthday party, which was at a park with a petting zoo.  Our Trail Life troop had their beginning of year Trail Roundup ceremony, in which the older boys were awarded their staffs.  This is also the year Firstborn crossed over to the Adventures group.  I was on a blogging break during all of this, so no posts to link.

Family Pic 2014
This was a busy month!  We did our family pictures out at Doug's folks' farm.  There were field trips and pumpkin picking and Halloween.  We also spent a weekend in Peoria with Doug's brother and his family.  Our niece had a part in Shrek the Musical so we attended one of her performances (which was really good).  Amazingly, Doug and I sat with our five kids plus two cousins for the play and they all did well.

Princess in costume for the Dinner Theatre
Princess was in a Madrigal Dinner Theatre performance, which technically was in December.  I'm putting it under November because that is when all the practices took place.  Lots of mommy and daughter time as I went with her to all the practices.  She also came down with Flu A right before Thanksgiving and missed a week of school.  We spent the holidays with my in-laws, my parents were vacationing in Florida.

We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary this month.  I sang with the choir for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass (technically 10:00 p.m. for my church).  Princess came down with pneumonia and we spent Christmas morning in the hospital, causing me to reflect on the meaning of the holiday season.  Doug, Toddler Boy and I are now sick ourselves and spending this week recuperating at home.

Doug and I still managed to make our big turkey meal on Monday that we missed on Christmas day so we've been eating leftovers all week.  We picked up Princess a new bed yesterday and we're almost finished remodeling her bedroom.  Tonight our family will be watching movies and eating Smokey Bones nachoes as the kids attempt to stay up until midnight to ring in the new year at our house.  Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

When Christmas Doesn't Go as Planned

We had a little "detour" in our Christmas celebration this year...

Princess in the E.R. Christmas morning
She had caught what appeared to be a cold and slight cough last Wednesday.  Sunday night it took a turn for the worse with her starting to run a fever and up most of that night coughing so bad she had a hard time catching her breath.  We took her to the doctor Monday, who sent her home on antibiotics.  Still no sleep Monday night and by Tuesday her fever was spiking 105.  I'm not sure I've ever had a kid run that high, we actually took it three times to verify it was right.  Called the doctor to get some steroids to help her breathing.  By 2:00 a.m. Christmas morning she was running over 104 and starting to wheeze in-between coughing fits.  It was time to take her in to the children's hospital.  Tests and x-rays confirmed pneumonia with a double viral infection, including RSV.  They were able to get her fever down and her wheezing under control and her oxygen levels looked good.  We headed home later that morning with a script for a nebulizer to help her breathing.

As of tonight it appears she is finally on the mend.  We've only had to give her ibuprofen once today for fever, considering she's been on it almost non-stop since Sunday that's improvement.  We've not had a solid night's sleep since last Saturday.  Christmas night she needed two breathing treatments to get her through and she needed one this morning...

I'm praying tonight is better.  (It was, she finally was able to sleep through the night, praise God)!

We had plans to celebrate Christmas with family but Princess was too sick to even consider attending.  We had plans to attend Christmas Eve services at our Protestant church but those had to be laid aside too.  I had last minute gifts to purchase but I was needed at home.  We were supposed to attend Doug's office family party but only the older kids went with Dad this year.  The lack of sleep has been such a contributing factor.  I become a different person when exhaustion starts creeping in, and I don't like it.  Doug and I have struggled to take turns and give each other grace in the moments but nothing really makes it easier to bear.  This was not the holiday I was envisioning just a few short weeks ago.

My friends and I joke that the Christmas season was much more fun when we were kids.  As an adult, it just seems like so much work.  Parties to plan, gifts to make (or purchase) and wrap, trees to decorate, cookie baking and holiday meal planning.  All the phone calls and coordinating for the different holiday events.  It seems I need a vacation!

Princess' illness has forced the entire family to slow down, and with it comes the reminder that Christmas isn't about all of the above.  It's really not about the parties, presents and the perfectly decorated tree.  Christmas is about Him.  It's only about Him.  He came to us when we weren't perfect (when we were so, so far from perfect).  Every year, we can work on preparing for Him through the Advent season, but we can never do it perfectly.  And He comes to us anyway.  His coming never depended on our readiness, thank God!  It only ever depended on His love for us, which is perfect and knows no bounds.  His birth was the only ever truly perfect Christmas gift, we are blessed!

I received an email yesterday from our Protestant church, it read "only 364 days until Christmas".  I had to smile at that when I thought I get to celebrate the Christmas season for another 12 days, until the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6th.  Some churches celebrate Christmas for 40 days, until the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  My Catholic church will have a Christmas tree up and we will be singing Christmas songs for the next two weeks.  My thoughts on the 12 days of Christmas.

I'm very thankful that my daughter is on the mend and hope to apply all the lessons God has taught me this Christmas to future holidays.  I am hoping to do a post about some of those lessons when I've had a bit more chance to reflect and catch up on some sleep!  Wishing your families a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Getting Back in the Game

So, where have I been??  My last post was almost five months ago.  I really did not intend to take a blogging vacation and I can sum it up in two words..."real life".  I've been through a season in my non-virtual world that has caused my hobby blogging to take a back seat.  As I was finishing up the family Christmas letter that we send out with our Christmas cards it occurred to me that I needed to update the blog.  So in one lengthy, picture filled post I will attempt to catch everyone up on the last few months...

First up, swim team.  Soccer Boy became "Swim Boy" for a season and joined our pool's summer team.  He did pretty good for his first season and even got to compete in the area Midwest Swim Conference.  It made for a bit of craziness in our family life because of the two late night (and occasionally out of town) swim meets per week plus daily practices.  He had a lot of fun with it and I got to be a swim parent for a season, which means working as a time keeper during part of all the meets.  A learning experience all the way around and we both got to make some new friends at our pool.

Midwest Swim Conference 2014

Then there were the fun summertime activities.  Doug's office had a float in our hometown parade this year.  Princess and Game Boy enjoyed being part of that one and got to throw lots of candy.  Toddler Boy watched from the sidelines and worked on collecting lots of candy to share with his siblings.  I was with him to make sure he didn't get run over by the crazy motorcycles!  Good times, the older boys missed out on that weekend because they were camping with their Trail Life troop.

Blurry shot of Game Boy running with float

Church Camp
Speaking of camping, the older two spent a week at church camp over the summer.  They went to fishing camp for the first time and got to come home to tell us stories about the ones that got away.  Firstborn and Soccer Boy also brought the stomach flu home with them from camp and gave it to the whole family!  Not a fun season in la casa...

Taken on the last day pool was open
Spent lots of time meeting friends at the local parks and of course had fun swimming in the pool almost daily.  Princess learned to go off the diving board this year!  Game Boy learned to swim last season but really became a much stronger swimmer this year (read...I did not worry about him drowning all summer!!)

Lining up all the beach balls!

Go Cardinals!!
Our Cardinals made the playoffs again so we watched lots of post season ball on T.V.

We've spent lots of time at Doug's folks' farm this summer.  Grandma was wanting to break in some of her new horses so Firstborn is taking horseback riding lessons.  While he's riding the other kids have fun running around outside, fishing, and playing with the animals.

Hanging with Harley

Princess went off to school!  Yes, we are still a homeschooling family but Princess is attending first grade at the local public school this year.  She is loving going to school and making new friends and I am enjoying delegating some of her reading work to other teachers besides myself.  It frees me up a bit to focus on the other kids and especially Firstborn, who is now in high school.  There has already been field trips to the pumpkin patch and Halloween class parties.

Princess' first  day of school!
Playing in the corn pit

Of course, our family went pumpkin picking too...

Walking in the pumpkin patch
Brothers & best friends!

Game Boy is a good shot!

Enjoying target practice

The boys are taking classes this fall with our homeschool group, including their favorite, archery!  We have settled into a nice rhythm with our schoolwork (good, considering the year is almost half over).

Last but not least, we had our first snowfall before Thanksgiving, which is a bit rare around here...
Sledding in the backyard

Toddler Boy enjoying the snow

That ends my roundup post, hope I can keep more up to date during the holiday season but that might be wishful thinking on my part.  Doug is "officially" on vacation next week so we're looking forward to some family fun.  Have a good weekend!!