15 October 2010

keeping up with the jones'

It appears that my method of keeping current with all my favorite blog reads appears to be shutting down at the end of the month (that would be Bloglines, so if I'm mistaken, feel free to correct me). I have the cream of the crop listed on a sidebar of my own blog, but there are more that I like to access - food blogs, home school blogs, blogs that rarely post (even more rarely than me!), etc.

I want to know: how do you keep up with the blogs you read? I've seen a couple options, but I want to know what you like and why . . . do tell!

13 October 2010

just beachy

(Picture disclaimer: I've got more pictures on my camera phone but uploading those is not quite so simple; and I was apparently the main photographer, therefore you are denied the opportunity to see a 3rd trimester belly in a swimsuit. So there.)
We had our first true vacation in over three years this past weekend. We indulged in four nights at the beach - the hotel was clearly a bit older, had horribly lumpy mattresses (hello sciatica that was almost all gone!), one 5am little roach critter that I chose to ignore once he was dead and gone, and not so great free continental breakfasts (canned juice and so-so bagels, though the brand of blueberry muffins they served were dairy- and nut-free, making for two superbly happy kids, so that redeemed itself at least a bit); BUT it was clean, it had amazingly wonderful hot showers (I think this is my favoritest thing about hotels in general - their massive amount of scalding hot water), and a kitchenette (a specific need for us since we didn't need nor want the stress of eating out every meal with so many kids and all the allergies).
And tying for first place with the hot water heater (okay, maybe the hot water is second, but only by a hair) - we were beachfront. NO sand in the van. Just in the swimsuits (ick). We had a little balcony overlooking the pool and ocean, we had enough beds for all of us, and we just went down and walked out onto the sand each day. That made my beach experience exponentially better than any other I've had. (Whereas I loved going up to the room to get something I forgot with no worries, frustrations, or tears...as well as simply arriving at the beach when you get to the back of the building you're in.) Conversely, I loathe loading a car with sandy toys and towels and bodies to driv a mere mile or two to the hotel. Of course, it's a little hard to get sand in the van when the van is not with you anyway.....
We left several hours late for our trip (10pm instead of 6 or 7pm as we'd planned). Which put us arriving at our destination just after 4am. Lots of coffee and Grandparents who came to play with the kids while I packed and napped made all the difference in the world that day. (Or I might have given up trying to go on vacation altogether.) As we arrived in town, a mere 15 minutes from the hotel, I turned a corner and suddenly the check engine light came on and the transmission would not find the right gear. It took at least 20 minutes, maybe more, to arrive. The engine never stopped making it's horrible revving sound.
After a few hours of sleep and once the kids were awake and fed, we took them down to the sand for a few minutes - sans swimsuits because John desperately needed to find a mechanic. As pregnant as I amI was NOT chasing kids on the beach. No way no how. Once we got back into the room I implemented the endless handheld games and TV and coloring rule. Which is still not as fun as the beach you can see outside your window. Such a mean mommy. Who was stressed out because the first mechanic sent him to Mr. Transmission who said we definitely needed the transmission rebuilt pronto. And it would not be ready until Tuesday (we were set to return home early Monday morning . . . ha! It was almost the end of business on Tuesday before they were done). So, we arranged to stay an extra day - nothing like the extended vacation. And there were absolutely NO rental cars available in the city, even at the airport. Thankfully, they were able to dig up a loaner for us - nothing like a tight squeeze in the back seat for the kids, but they were champs. And at least we didn't have a lot of driving to do. The lack of rental cost was a real blessing, though.
And I must say that in all of it, I saw God's hand: we broke down arriving in town, not halfway, and not before the trip. We got to stay an extra day. He knew all along that this was going to happen. And how much it would cost. He even pushed us to on the trip in the first place - and do it where we didn't have to drive to the ocean each day! No, I have no doubt His hand was upon us during the entire experience. (In spite of the hormonal stress and tears of the third trimester.)

I guess that we won't need that transmission fluid changed before the end of the year like I'd been told when I had the car checked out two days before the trip. . .

07 October 2010

open brings forth open

As opposed to last year when we deliberately avoided all home school groups, I have joined not one but two this year. (And, we put Little B in Awanas where he has already found a new bestest-kind of buddy!)

One group is a co-op style that meets every Friday except for the first Friday of the month (that day is reserved for field trips). The regular Fridays consist of Art, PE, Health, lunch and a social skills group led by an occupational therapist for a fraction of a fraction of the cost of what I'd find anywhere else. So far, we've been once and Miss C is in love with it and Little B will hopefully warm up a bit more to it. Baby J has his own little group to hang out with as well and so far he's okay. There is one lady I'm not real sure of in there, so we'll see. If it goes south, we'll just move on. And I'm good either way. I'll take it for what it is right now.

The other group is a lovely collection of Christian ladies who come together once a month at some one's home for a mom's time - late evening, snacks, fellowship, prayer, and support. Then they get the kids together for a field trip once a month as well. I went to the mom's group for the first time this week, and I knew one person which is very hard for me. The evening's topic was "grumbling and complaining" - each lady was encouraged to bring a tip, book, suggestion, verse, etc, that could be applied to the grumbles and complaints that arise in a home school setting. I had nothing. Nada. My situation goes so far beyond 'grumbling and complaining' that at first I was uncertain I should have even attended.

I arrived a little late, but that was more of a social time, not the group discussion, so what I really missed was filling out a card that told of an "aha moment" in my homeschooling. When my friend handed me a card, I looked at her, stricken, and said, "I don't know that I have one...we haven't even started really. I've done like three days of school so far!" Her response was that maybe that is what I had to share. The cards had been put into a basket and one person drew them out, read them and had everyone see if they could guess who wrote each one. As they went through the basket of cards, I sat pondering what I could say. I finally went last, winging it.

I want to insert here that I've been reading a book called "Shut up about your perfect kid" by Gina Gallagher & Patricia Konjoian. It's written by two sisters who each have a high needs daughter - one with Asperger's and one with bi-polar disorder. But the book is about coping and adjusting and dealing with the struggles that arise - and it references many other special/high needs, not just these two. One of the premises of what they share is how open they are with the struggles they face in handling their children's needs. They discovered that the more open they were, the more open others were in sharing their struggles as well. And the more open everyone was, the less of a stigma and the more manageable each struggle became. I find it very refreshing, and an easy, humorous read. In many ways, I see struggles so much bigger than my own that I feel reassured, too. One of my favorite stories was when one author was in the grocery store, waiting in a long line at the deli, and someone came up announcing loudly, "Hey! Guess what, I'm bipolar!" - she was secure in her struggle because she knew she had support and those who understood. Precious!

So, back to my story. . .as I pondered what to share, I knew I needed to let my guard down, but also preserve the dignity of my son and the fact that we don't fully understand everything going on with him yet. I weighed this with not wanting the other moms to be afraid of letting their kids play with him. I was glad I was able to speak last. I shared openly about why we started homeschooling, that last year was a pretty good year, that we'd barely schooled this year because the summer has been such an intense one and that our grumbling and complaining went beyond the average - that my son needs professional help (a hard thing to 'fess up to in front of 15 women you've never met!). And my aha moment was that I have the space and grace to adjust what I need how I need to meet his needs: be it curriculum or schedule or something else. It was good (and hard - I loathe the center of attention in groups that size, even when I know them....I was flushed from the effort!). I didn't feel criticized. And later, two different moms came up and were open with me - one specifically about a daughter's struggles and the other just saying that it sounded like we could easily get together and discuss our son's needs. I honestly hardly knew how to respond, but saw the opportunity for so much more in the year to come.

Open brings forth open.
In amazing ways.

04 October 2010


Today marks 13 years with my love.

My husband and I were chatting this morning (on the phone as he drove....a favorite past time of ours), and he commented that he was sorry that our anniversary fell in the midst of such hard times - namely all the 'stuff' that we've been coping with for the past several months. Honestly, our years have never been simple or easy, peppered heavily with his schooling, deaths in the family (when it would rain, it would pour), and most definitely the struggles of our sweet children - the hardest of things to bear.

But I look back and would not trade a single one of those years. I would not trade the tough times, because they made us stronger; I would not trade the sad times for they made us closer; I would not trade the struggles for they made each achievement sweeter.

I commented on something along those lines, though not so explicitly. And he knew what I meant, agreeing. I then thought back 12 years to our first anniversary. I was going through medical treatment for my endometriosis that put me in a drug-induced menopause - I can tell you here and now I would not trade this year for that year ever. He very quickly agreed as I mentioned it (and yes, we know that true menopause is not so many years away, but we'll take it when it comes, and not a day sooner, thankyouverymuch). Besides, 12 years ago we did not have our sweet little people (who, I have begun noticing, do not stay quite so little....) and life is much richer with them.

I may have had a tough summer and be bracing myself for what could lie ahead - there are many unpredictable turns with Little B's issues and Miss C's allergies and a new baby in the mix - but I love that in the midst of these days I am celebrating 13 years of sharing this life with the man I love so much. I am thankful that our anniversary falls in the midst of it all, for it's a wonderful reminder that tough or not, life is still very good. Very good indeed.