Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Schedule and HFMD

Once we had our house back to ourselves after cousins left, we had a family council over the weekend and talked about the new summer schedule. I wanted to start into our "school year", getting a head start on the curriculum so I don't feel stressed out when I need to take time off. We will be taking it slow and lots of breaks, but at least we're moving in the right direction. I also don't want them sitting around all summer complaining about being bored! I am not a fan of being lazy all summer. I told them that they had to get all the stuff done on their chore charts by noon, or they couldn't go swimming that day. The pool is awesome motivation. I started leaving at 6 a.m. to go walking every morning, and it was my favorite time of day. I was back by 6:30 or even a few minutes before to try to read my scriptures. But the kids are all getting up by then and Kenny's getting out the door. So the day begins. I'm seeing a good change in some of the kids as we've been consistent with these morning schedules. Kelsey, especially, used to whine about emptying the dishwasher every single day and would drag it on and on for hours unless I pushed back on it. It was so annoying. Same thing with making her bed. She would complain that she just couldn't do it and it was too hard, and she needed help. But we've been consistent and it's sunk in that she doesn't really get a choice. She's doing so much better now and does it quickly and mostly willingly! 

Their charts include their morning chores (say prayers, get dressed, brush teeth, make bed, do hair, clean room) along with their house chore. The older three each have a room or bathroom they're in charge of. Kelsey's job is the dishwasher, but she often ends up helping Madison with the game room since those two are the ones who make a disaster of it on a daily basis. T & B also have to do 30 minutes of reading each day, and their piano practicing. (We just started taking piano lessons again this month, on Mondays.) Madison does reading time with me as well.

We start our Family School time at 9:00 each morning. So far it's going really well. We're still getting a few kinks worked out with the set up of our school room, but it's coming along. I really love the curriculum (The Family School online). I still need to do better at incorporating a little math each day so they don't forget everything :). That only takes between 1 and 1.5 hours. After that they're free to do whatever. They swim for hours a day, and I'm so so grateful we have a pool. I don't know what I'd do without it, seriously. 

One activity for school was making a model of the solar system. We were supposed to paper mache and do all kinds of big crafty things. But I like to keep it simple, or I knew it would end up with me spending many hours on something by myself, and they wouldn't really care anyway. So we just blew up different sizes and colors of balloons, labeled them, and hung them up on the fan to orbit around our "sun". It was great!

Sunrises and sunsets are some of my most favorite things in the world. So I love being outside each morning as the sun comes up so I can see it.

Tyler's learning to make chocolate chip cookies all by himself. Next time he does it I will try to stay out of the kitchen and let him do it alone.

They each picked out a little fake animal at the store for different things. The older three it was for finishing some books they'd been reading, and for Kelsey it was for not wetting the bed for a week! She had been doing great and then we moved and I was washing her sheets every day or every other day. I know she is capable though! 

The summer was off to a great start and I felt like we were rockin it! Plenty of time for all of our work and play, things were going so great. In my last post I told that we went fishing with that other family. Well the next day (Sunday), they texted us that evening and said "sorry but we just figured out what's wrong with our daughter, we think it's hand, foot, and mouth disease. Hope nobody in your family gets it." Their daughter had a horrible rash that progressively got worse as we were there. I had never had experience with HFMD so I didn't know that's what it was, and I stupidly trusted the parents. My heart sank when Kenny read me their text and I started praying so hard, but I just knew Briggs was going to get it because he'd been playing with the little girl, who's in nursery with him. He didn't really have an appetite on Monday, which is strange for this big boy. Tuesday his fever started, and that night I checked again and found spots in his mouth. That started this long, hellish week. Kenny's been sleeping in the game room on the couch and I've been up doctoring Briggs all day and night. It's been the worst sickness we've had in our home, I dare say. I'm home from church with him right now. He has horrible sores all over, and they blister and pop and bleed. He is so miserable and the sores really itch and hurt all at once. It breaks my heart to watch him go through this and not be able to take it away from him. He's just the sweetest boy and we're praying it all goes away quickly and that none of the other kids get it. He is starting to do better. He is eating a little bit now after several days of not eating at all. And last night he slept through the night for the first time all week. So I'm hopeful that the worst is over, for him at least.

I was really angry for several days at this family for bringing their daughter and not just being up front with me. They could have easily said, "let's just go fishing another day, our daughter is really sick and was up all night from this rash". But they didn't. It's not just that Briggs is sick, but the timing of it is horrible. My sister, Kim and her family are going to be here in a few days and I've really been looking forward to spending time with them. They're only here for like a week and then they move to Europe for another year. We never get to see them and if this sickness keeps us from being able to spend time with them for those few days we have, I will not be happy.
He just wants to be held and snuggled about 22 hours a day. My awkward, large belly is not very conducive to that but we do our best.

He's all caked in calamine lotion. We do lots of different things to try to give him relief. Oatmeal baths, bakign soda baths, dermoplast spray, this lotion, benadryl, essential oils, hydrocortisone cream for the rash on his bum, etc. etc.

Another beautiful sunset last night after a big storm.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fishing in Anahuac

Earlier this week I told Kenny I really wanted to do something fun as a family on Saturday. I wanted to leave the house and go do something all together. It seems like every Saturday since we moved here has been a whole lot of working. Which is good, and necessary, but I wanted to get out for a little bit. So on Friday we all worked hard to get all of our Saturday cleaning done, and Kenny got the lawn mowed early too. We were still trying to decide what we wanted to do. Well a couple weeks ago Kenny got invited to go shark fishing by this guy in our ward. Of course, if you know Kenny, you know he was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop when he got to go do that. Just the idea of catching your own bait, and then using it to get a real shark really appealed to him. Scares the heck out of me, but that's just the kind of adventurous thrill Kenny wants and needs in his life. So they went a couple Saturdays ago, but had absolutely no luck. He's been dying to get back. So that was his first (and final) suggestion. He called up his friend Scott again, and told him he wanted to go back but bring the families this time. 
We drove back to their same spot, in Anahuac, (pronounced Ana-wack) which is about 45 minutes from our house.
Our kids had fun with their 2 kids, and I really enjoyed getting to know Ashley too. I don't really know many people in the ward, so I'm happy to slowly be making friends. When we got there it was really overcast and cloudy, and I thought it would be so perfect to stay like that all day! But it didn't and we were all pretty hot and got sunburned, but still had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, the fishing was no better this time. The kids enjoyed collecting oysters or clams (whatever they were), and seashells. And the dads would throw out the net and bring in a bunch of tiny little fish for them to throw back in the water. But there were certainly no sharks caught. The water was so very filthy it was disgusting, but kids never mind that stuff. We were all completely worn out by the time we got home but grateful for such a nice day with new friends.

Tyler was the only one old enough (or capable) to go out on the kayak. He really loved it!

A Week with the Webb Kids

My sister Steph and her husband went on a super fun 10 year anniversary trip to Aruba! They flew out of Houston, so we were lucky enough to have their kids from Monday (May 30th) night to Saturday (June 4th). Eva and Brynlee were inseparable, (Bryn pretty much worships Eva, who is 2 years older) and Ty and Leighton hung out the whole time, and Dean and Madi are great friends too. It was lots of fun to have them here and the kids enjoyed having a constant playmate. That first Tuesday it was perfect weather and the kids were swimming all day long. I was thinking how glorious the whole week would be and I would just be sitting on the side reading books and relaxing. Only the rest of the week it rained pretty much nonstop. That really blew up all of our plans, but they still managed to find a lot to do to keep them busy and happy. I was so impressed with these kids and made jokes to Steph about how our kids are such homeschoolers. They would research facts about animals and write little reports on them with pictures, etc. The girls wrote stories and the boys studied birds, snakes and trees of Southeast Texas. They wrote speeches and rules and ran for President of the house. We held a little debate and they all voted. They choreographed a dance and just really had a great time. We love cousins!!!
 They made these little creatures and then took pictures of each other with them. As long as we kept a lot of paper and craft supplies handy, these two were happy!

Dean is a great little reader, and he would help Madi whenever she got stuck on a word.

 One night we let them stay up later so they could go outside and catch some critters. They all come out when the sun goes down. They caught a couple frogs and a few lizards and got several mosquito bites too ;).

 Eva and Brynlee made a yummy dessert one day too. I thought this picture was pretty accurate. All the boys teasing the girls.
 Pancake breakfast. We got out lots of different toppings and they took time to create funny faces before eating each pancake.

Sometimes I just let them all go play out in the rain and dealt with the wet clothes afterwards because they were going so stir crazy. Below, Bryn caught another frog.

 They also spent hours catching tadpoles. Thanks to all the rain we had a pretty good pond in front of our house for them to fish in.

I drove them back to Houston on Saturday night and got to say Hi to Steph and Andrew for a few minutes before heading to the temple that night. It was a great week and the kids all had a cousin hangover the next week. :) Come back again Webbs!!

Wrapping Up May and Memorial Day

This was taken as we were leaving to go drop them off for their LAST day of school! It was actually 3 days before the real last day of school, but they missed that last week because we had cousins here. (more on that later). They had a great time and it was a good growing and learning experience for all of us. 

 We've been doing lots of yard work lately, too. This is one morning (the older 2 were still at school) and these 3 were helping me trim the bushes. I gave Kelsey a big pair of scissors and she was snipping off all the ends of the overgrown palm tree leaves. Briggs could hardly even lift the pruning shears but he sure was working hard and trying to contribute by sticking them in the bushes and then pulling them out again. :) We were having a great time up until Briggs tripped and sliced his thumb on one of the sharp shears. It was no fun, and ended our morning of yard work. But they did all get a popsicle in the end. All's well that ends well, right?

One night Kenny was taking his newly fixed road bike for a little spin around the neighborhood and nearly ran over a snake. Only this time it was a venomous cottonmouth. He came home to tell me and get a gardening hoe, then went back out in the street after it. He broke it's neck and carefully brought it home. He put it in a container with alcohol overnight so that it was good and dead the next morning. He was anxious to show the kids and teach them what to watch out for. How to recognize the patterns and discern between a snake that will actually cause you great harm, or not. Then we got rid of the body by throwing it in the big ditch next to our house. 

On Memorial Day we had quite a party! We had my parents, the Juergens, the Allsops and the Webb kids over. We had a fun time visiting, swimming, and eating. There was a small issue when I somehow managed to set the whole BBQ on fire and scorched all the meat pretty good. But Kenny came in and saved the day, as usual. It was pretty scary, I've never had that happen before. I sort of panicked and had thoughts of the whole grill exploding and then catching our house on fire (I'm not dramatic, or anything). That would have definitely ended the party. But thankfully none of that happened. :) It was such a fun day and we were so grateful everyone drove a million miles out to be with us. 

Watching our neighbor's helicopter land and then take off again.