Sunday, May 22, 2016

Our Week, Backwards

Sunday: This morning I woke up around 5:40 a.m. to super loud thunder and lightning flashes in my window. It was a crazy storm and it lasted for a couple hours. Kenny and I gave talks at church today, and my sweet parents drove all the way out here to sit with the kids during sacrament meeting, and hear us speak. It was completely unnecessary and I kept telling them they really didn't need to come, but they insisted. We felt so loved, and of course the kids always love seeing grandpa and grandma. After church, Tyler got to go home teaching with Kenny since his companion was sick, and Ty even helped teach the lesson. He loved it.

This afternoon something pretty embarrassing happened. Briggs loves to ride around on his little plasma car or trike ALL the time. Seriously that kid will just be outside for hours riding around, it makes him so happy. He's never left the driveway before. It's a really long driveway, and we have a good amount of cement patio in the back. So he normally just kind of goes back and forth and I see him out the window every couple minutes. Well I was reading books to the girls and I realized I hadn't seen Briggs for a while so I sent Tyler outside to find him. Next thing I know there's a strange lady knocking on my door. She was there to report that my baby had gone on his little bike clear down the driveway and down the street and was on the bridge part of the road. Not only that, but our stupid dog had followed him out there. Tyler had already found him and was walking him back home. But this lady still felt it was her neighborly duty to come over and tell me how dangerous it was to have my child wander off like that. Not just because of the cars that can come fast around the bend in the road there, but also because of snakes. (People keep telling us there's water moccasins, and they get worse when it rains a lot apparently.) I thanked her for her concern, but inside was wishing she had never come over in the first place. I know perfectly well how dangerous it is and I was dying inside as soon as I heard how far he had gone. It was a very irresponsible mom moment for me, and I won't let him play outside independently anymore. He just does it every single day and has never once left before. Now I know that he can, and will, and I'll keep a better eye on him. I'm just thankful nothing happened to my sweet little boy.

Saturday: I watched my friend Lori's kids for half the day as they were packing and getting ready to move. Kenny did a bunch of yard work all morning and then left for a big youth Super Saturday activity. He was in charge of the entertainment and had some pretty fun games. Family Feud, gospel style and another one I can't remember. Anyway he said it went well and they all had fun.

Friday: After I picked the kids up from school we headed into Port Arthur and Kenny met me at the mall when he got off work. We switched cars and I went by myself to get my hair done, while he took the kids out to dinner and then home for swimming and bed. It was nice to have a few hours to myself, and feeling better about how my hair looks. I got it trimmed with some layers, and highlighted. Fun change for the summer. Kenny taught Briggs how to "jump" (read: belly-flop) off the diving board while I was gone. He is so independent with his little floaties on, it's awesome. He just swims around and gets in and out and loves his freedom in the pool. Makes it SO nice for me.

Thursday: my mom came out for the day which is always a treat. She had just flown in from D.C. that morning. (Accompanied my dad on a business trip.) It was fun having her around. We had hoped on swimming that day, but it was cloudy and then rained a ton that evening again. She came with me and the older kids to their school's book fair and then drove back home.
My crazy kids were all playing in the pouring rain. It probably wasn't the smartest to let them jump on the trampoline with all the lightning going on, but they sure had a blast. And rain or shine, that Briggs has got places to go on his bike.

Wednesday: Tyler was supposed to have his raingutter regatta for cub scouts that night. But he was a little bit irresponsible and lost some of the key pieces to making the little boat. So he hadn't completed it. Not only that, but then he showed up at the church only to realize it was being held at someone else's house. Double fail. So he got to go to Young Men's with Kenny. They were playing a Book of Mormon jeopardy game. The funny--and also pathetically sad--part is that Tyler won by a landslide. Apparently the youth in our ward don't know the scriptures or gospel very well at all. Kenny said it was pretty embarrassing how easy and basic the questions were, and yet they couldn't answer them. Ty knew them all, and it was a big boost to his little ego haha.

Tuesday: It was a rough day in some respects. I completely cleaned and rearranged our master bedroom. It had sort of become dumping grounds for a whole lot of stuff and I just couldn't take it anymore. So I tackled that huge project and continued to neglect my kids for yet another day while I worked on things. Kelsey especially was letting me know how she felt about me not spending any time with her. She was acting up a lot, and decided to color on her new (white) bed, her bed sheets, and some nice pen on every person's face/forehead on one of our big canvas family portraits. I didn't get upset on the first thing I found, but by the time I had seen all 3 ruined things I yelled at her. I probably said something really cool like she'd never be able to use another pen or marker again. (drama much?) I felt pretty guilty that night after I put her to bed, realizing that I was to blame for ignoring her so much. She was trying to get my attention, one way or another. I will just add though, that our master bedroom does look awesome now and it's a nice, relaxing space. I like to have my own private, CLEAN space, when the rest of the house doesn't feel like that. But anyway, I devoted Wednesday entirely to my little ones and what they wanted to do. Things have improved greatly since I made that change.

April Pictures

Catching up on old pictures here...our internet is SOOO slow and I've tried loading them all before. Finally it worked.

 This was our first snake encounter. I found him in the pool. I scooped him out with the net, and then smashed him to death (below) with the metal rim around the net. I didn't really know how else to take care of him, and I certainly didn't want him to live. I thought of the Grinch song, "I wouldn't touch you with a 39 1/2 foot pole" that was pretty much me with this snake.
 2nd snake encounter: Kenny is gone at 7 a.m. to go to church meetings, and then the kids and I leave at 8:30. So he had already left for the morning and I was in the bathroom doing my hair when the kids come running in the bathroom screaming and Brynlee's in tears. I couldn't really understand what they were saying for a minute because they were all shouting and being hysterical. Then I understood there was a snake, a live one, in our house! I followed them out to the living room where they saw it. I guess what happened is Brynlee spotted it first on the floor and Tyler thought it was a fake snake, just a plastic one on the floor. So he nudges it with his foot and it starts to slither. So they both freak out and run to come get me. I watch it for a second, racking my brain trying to figure out how I'm going to get this thing out of my house without touching it. I finally decide on my kitchen tongs. So I grab them and pick up the snake with them, squeezing it harder than necessary to ensure it doesn't slip out and kill me. ;) Then I opened the back door and just swung it out there as far as I could. I was acting brave on the outside, but totally freaking out inside. I shut the door and locked it and said "okay! it's gone! everybody go get ready for church!" Then when we were at church, after Kenny came back and sat down with us after the sacrament the kids all started telling him at the same time, like they were just going to burst if he didn't know right away. "There was a snake in our house!!". He looked at me laughing and he's like, seriously? YES SERIOUSLY. Why is Kenny never home for all the crazy stuff that happens?

Another friend we found in the pool. We let him live :)

 So much rain and flooding since we've been here. This one week was particularly bad. Our driveway seems to be quite a bit lower than everything else because it quickly floods a good 2 inches at least and stays wet for a long time.
 Below: I even had to drain the pool on this day because we were really worried about it flooding over. I was also concerned about the water coming in the house it was getting right up close to our back door.

 These cuties snacking on about 2 pounds of strawberries while I made strawberry freezer jam.

 If Briggs isn't the cutest dang kid in the world, I don't know who is.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the pool/yard is pretty much why we bought this house. 

 Kenny was really excited to get his riding lawn mower. It was one of the first things he bought, the same week we moved in. Partially because our lawn needs so much attention and everything grows so darn fast! But I told him it's like watching him step back in time, re-living his glory days of spending hours and hours on his tractor back on his family's wheat farm. While he was mowing, he found a turtle in the ditch part at the front of our yard. He brought it in to show the kids. He even sprayed him off with the hose since he had lots of grass and yuckies stuck to him. Everyone got a chance to touch it (except Madison who stayed far away) and then we set him in the grass and everyone watched him walk slowly away back to the other side of the fence. :) Thanks for the fun visit, Mr. Turtle!

 We love going on morning walks together.

On our anniversary date at the Houston Temple. Some nice lady saw us trying to take a selfie in front of it, and she offered to take our picture instead. Then we returned the favor and took one of her and her husband :).

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Another Month Gone By

I used to make a point to blog at least once a week. I seem to be on a once a month schedule and I don't like it! I'll try to get back into the habit. Life just seems so crazy it's hard to find time to sit down and do it. Plus my memory card in my nice camera was busted, and my cell phone camera is lame so I hardly have any pictures. So here's a big long dump of whatever I can remember right now.

On April 29th we celebrated our 10 year anniversary!!! I picked the kids up early from school, and Kenny came home early. Then we drove into Houston and dropped the kids (and dog) off at my parents' house. Then we went to The Mad Potter and painted our own plates. All the kids have dishes they can use that they painted/made themselves. So now we can join them :). It was a fun activity and we've always wanted to do that together. We just normally have too many kids to help so it was a fun date. Then we went to some Chinese food restaurant (can't remember the name right now). After that we went to the movie theaters and saw the new Batman vs. Superman movie. We stayed the night at a hotel, and went to the temple the next morning to do sealings. It was a wonderful overnight date and I'm grateful to my parents (and Cami! who took them for a few hours while my parents were at a wedding reception) for helping out. It is so nice to live by family!! :)

Ty and Bryn are still in school (don't get out till June 2nd). So that's the main structure to our day. I get up at 6 a.m. every day, sometimes hit snooze and sleep until 6:09. Get ready for the day and start making lunches. Everyone's up by 6:30 or 7 at the latest. (Even on the weekends, Ty and Briggs come waltzing into our room at 6:30 a.m. ready to start the day. My kids just don't know how to sleep in!!) We get ready to go, Ty and Bryn have to do their morning chores before we leave. We read a little from the Illustrated Scripture books, and sing a song and have family prayer (without daddy) and are out of the house at 7:35 to drop the kids off at school. Then I come back with Madi, Kels, and Briggs. We eat breakfast if we haven't already and then I help them accomplish their morning chores. The rest of the day is always different, until 3:20 when we go pick them back up from school.

Speaking of school... I've been wrestling with the decision of whether to keep them in public school for next year, or go back to homeschooling. It was really weighing heavily on my mind and heart and I just couldn't think about anything else. I flip-flopped a million times a day and could think of good supporting arguments for both sides. It was a very serious matter of daily prayer and lots of discussing with Kenny. After months of this I've decided that I will homeschool again next year. I was scared of it, especially with another baby coming. Mostly I just didn't trust myself. I feel wholly inadequate to the task and I didn't want my weaknesses and flaws to get in the way of my children's education. It's also really hard!! I didn't know if I was willing to take it all on again. But there is no denying the Holy Ghost and I know that for whatever reason, that's what I'm supposed to be doing (at least for next year). So I've ordered the Year 2 curriculum for The Family School, and I've contacted the CC director in Beaumont and we'll be joining that back up again as well. I'm excited, but not overly optimistic haha. I also told Kenny I would be hiring a housekeeper to come once or twice a week for at least the first 6 months after this baby girl's born. :) I think it will be great though. I need to learn how to have a little more grace for myself and trust the Lord. Having the kids go to public school for these couple months has helped me to see that no matter how I felt I had surely failed them, they are not "behind" at all! In fact, they're doing really well compared to other kids their age. So even with the bad days, what we did was enough and I'll try to remember that. I just think there's so much more they can be doing and learning with their time every day. Brynlee watches a movie literally every single day in first grade. I don't know if that's normal or not, is that every school? It drives me crazy though. It just proves to me that even they don't feel like kids at that age need to be learning for 7 hours a day. Bascially once they get to lunch time (shortly after 11 a.m.) they're pretty much done with book learning. They have lunch and recess, PE or music and then watch a movie to end the day. So WHY NOT JUST LET THEM COME HOME? I guess because most parents want their kids gone all day, and that's the sad truth. The earlier they can drop them off and the later they can pick them up, the better. Well I don't agree. It's not that I'm against other people teaching my kids. I just don't like the all day every day scenario.

There are some good things about public school. I hope we can keep the earlier schedule, because I'm a morning person and I feel like it's such an important and productive time of day. But at the same time, I will have a newborn so I'll try to be gentle with myself and especially my children, even when I'm not Ms. happy sunshine every morning.

Tyler had the STAAR test this last week. That's pretty much all they've been doing in school the whole time we've been here, is preparing for it. He excels at reading and is average at math. I know these standardized state tests are all part of the deal, but that's one thing I will NOT miss. I just don't agree that doing nothing but practice tests on reading comprehension and math is the only thing worth learning when you're in 3rd grade. There's so much out there to learn and be interested in. But they throw it all out the window and focus only on the upcoming test like their lives depend on it. I'm glad it's over with. I don't doubt he did well, but I was never really worried about it anyway.

Brynlee had a 1st grade Music concert a couple weeks ago and that was fun to watch her. She had been singing the songs all around the house every day so it wasn't anything we hadn't heard before :). But still cute to see her up there performing--she was pretty shy.

They both had Field Day this past week and I took the little kids over there to watch them for a little bit and say Hi. It was sort of like a weird flash back for me. Doing Field Day every year in Elementary School, even in the hot Texas sun. It's like they're re-living my childhood and it was weird haha.
Brynlee with her first grade class. Wish you could see her cute teacher better. We love Mrs. Hone. Bryn's 4th in from the right with a bun right on top of her head.

Tyler with two of his best friends at Field Day.

Briggs' favorite toy is this big inflatable shark. Tyler is nice enough to help him stay on it and float him around for a while. Such sweet brothers.

We've been working on some big house projects that seem to be sucking up all my time and taking over the house. I will be so glad when it's all finished, but it is fun to make this home ours. Last Saturday my parents came out to help us, and the Juergens came too. My dad and Kenny spent most of the day with their heavy duty sanders trying to sand off the ugly faux-brick that was all over the walls. It took forever, and despite trying to hang up plastic sheets to block off the rest of the house, EVERYTHING had a nice layer of dust. Kenny and I were up till midnight cleaning and trying to get the dust a little more under control. But I still see it. It's on every book, every little thing on every shelf, the ceiling, the floorboards...literally everywhere. No mercy. It was a big, messy project and we'd all laugh every time they took a break and came outside because they were completely covered head to toe (eyelashes and all) with dust. The kids kept calling them "abominable snow men". It was the first time we've had the Juergens out here and it was so fun to have them, albeit in not ideal circumstances. We had all of our furniture from the living room moved out to the back patio so it was just a total wreck everywhere. But the kids had a blast swimming and playing all day long, and I got to spend time with my mom and sister while my husband worked his tail off :). It was a fun day.

Totally unrelated to this whole post. But one time Briggs had a blow out in his swimmer diaper. (thankfully he was already out of the pool and we were outside still) so I just stripped him down and sprayed him off with the hose. Then I let him play with the hose for a while, still naked. He loved it.

This past week, we (mostly me) have been painting our house! Kenny's gone a lot. Not just because of work, but meetings and a hundred different reasons for young men's, and the missionaries ask him to go on splits every week...I told him next week I'm going to make him a sign that he wears around his neck that says "The answer is No, my wife needs me at home." Because I would love to have his help! But he is doing good things so I'm grateful he's such a good man. But this feels like the eternal painting project. We're going with a much lighter cream color. The blue-green that's currently on the walls is just so dark. But it's a huge job and it's coming along slower than I'd like. So much work to do all the time. Saturdays especially are non-stop working from dawn to dark. Stopping to feed my kids seems like such a nuisance ;). We can't really paint at night when the kids go to bed, although that would be ideal. But I have to leave the doors open to ventilate it all (painting while pregnant isn't exactly on their list of recommended activities) but there's so many bugs here!! Especially once the sun goes down you just can't leave your doors open. Kenny tried for a little bit one night and I told him it was a bad idea because all kinds of critters would end up in our home. He laughed at me and thought I was being dramatic. But sure enough, the next morning when I came out into the kitchen and was making the kids lunches, a frog started hopping across the floor!! I made Kenny get him out of the house. That was the second frog that's been in our home actually. I don't like how unpredictable they are. I never know which way they're going to jump and even though I know they're totally harmless, I still don't like to touch them or be near them. But anyway, every bit of progress we make in painting feels like it's a positive difference and we're liking the house more.

This is our house.

See all that awful brick stuff? So they sanded it all down, then Kenny has to go in and re-texture it, then we paint over it. The back wall behind me is just going to have to have new sheet rock and just re-do it altogether. It still looks terrible.

The last two weeks have gone better since I implemented chores once again! The kids had a nice long break from responsibilities and it was just mom doing everything all the time. So I made them all up some nice little job charts. If they have every single thing checked off they can earn a dollar a day. If they have even one thing missed, it drops down to .50 cents. If it's not much at all, then no money. Probably not the best system, but it's working so far. We've never paid for regular jobs before, because it was just expected that they help out since they're part of the family. But I decided that I really want them to be saving and learning how to manage their own money. We don't have chickens anymore to sell eggs, and so until I come up with another way for them to earn their own money, this is really good motivation for them.

Last Sunday (May 8th) was mother's day. I really wanted to make chicken cordon bleu because it's one of my most favorite meals, but I've never made it because I'm scared at how it would turn out. Well I decided to try it out. We also had the sister missionaries over for dinner again. So they got to try out my mother's day meal. It was okay, but turned out kind of dry, which is what I was worried about. But the carrot cake I made for dessert was yummy! They used our phones to talk to their families, and I got to join in a call with my sister, Sarah for a little bit too. I wished so much I could've stayed on the whole time, but it was good to see her and hear from her. She's doing awesome on her mission!

Also this last week, on the 12th was my mom's birthday! I took the 3 younger ones with me and we went to spend a few hours with her and take her out to lunch. I love that we are close enough to do that now. I sure love my mom and the great influence she is on me, and now on my children too!

This pregnancy is still going well. I don't really like my doctor, she's pretty cold and unfriendly and seems totally uninterested in me and my health. Maybe I've just been too used to midwives. I'm sort of hoping she's not on call when I have the baby. I'm sure she's totally qualified, I just haven't really clicked with her. Not a big enough deal to go out and find a new doctor again at this point, but still bugs me. I don't feel like she's going to listen to me or care what I think or say when I'm in labor. I might just excuse her from the room if it gets to that point haha. But baby girl is growing well and doing great. I'm really struggling with how much weight I've gained this pregnancy. I try to not let it get me down, but it's hard on me emotionally and physically. I look forward to working hard to get back to normal afterwards. We still don't know what we're going to name her.