Apparently kindergarten wore Anna out today. I'm not apologizing for the obvious state of chaos our play room is in, but Anna fell asleep in a box on the couch with her head resting on a tiny heart-shaped pillow on the coffee table.
Taking her picture woke her up a bit, but she just came upstairs and curled up on the other couch and was right back to sleep in a matter of seconds.
Today was the day. We first started talking about hosting a fun run at our PTO meeting back in February. We were tired of selling junk. Let me rephrase that. We were tired of sending our kids next door, and to their grandparents selling coupon books, over-priced wrapping paper and loads and loads of cookie dough. There had to be another way to raise money for an elementary school. Then one of the moms made a suggestion. Why not host a race. Tons of people show up to run other races, even in the dead of winter. I had just read about a PTO group that held a race and had the kids get sponsors. The idea that I could write a check and be done fundraising for the entire year sounded too good to be true. The other parents agreed. So we started planning. And six months later we hosted the first annual Hornet Hustle Fun Run.
I am so proud of the event. It was our first time to try something like this so we knew it would be a learning experience. But everything went so smoothly. We learned a TON! There are things we'll do differently next year. But, we had so much fun and had so many parents thank us for not sending their kids door-to-door to sell more junk. I'd love to tell you how much we raised. But, we're not ready to "officially" announce it just yet. I will tell you that I handed out the last race bib today and it was #352. So many runners!!! Soon I'll let you know how we did. But just know I am proud of the kids, parents, volunteers, teachers, staff, and business supporters. We couldn't have done this without all of your help!
On Sunday we had a ministry fair at church at 6pm. The kids are never ready to be fed at 5, so we planned on eating afterwards. We got home, had the kids get in their jammies, and get their teeth brushed. It was 7:48 - bedtime was 8pm. Isabella looked at me and said, Mom, we didn't eat dinner. Yikes! I actually forgot to feed my kids dinner. So, I handed the kids some peanut butter crackers and then put them to bed. Looks like the Mom of the Year Award is probably out of the question now!
Last week I had one of those weeks that everyone wants to have. Blessings just kept pouring in. I feel like Chris and I have slowly, but surely, been becoming much more obedient to God and he has been richly blessing us.
When I was pregnant with Isabella (who is about to turn 4) I started a plan to read the Bible in one year. I have spent my entire life in church, Sunday school classes, weekly Bible studies, and even attended a Christian college. The Bible is certainly not foreign to me, but I had never really sat down to read it cover-to-cover. I was doing so good....until the night that Isabella was born. Suddenly, I had a newborn, a toddler, and a 3 year-old with a broken right arm. I was trying to sell my house and move our family to Valley Center. Chris moved a month early and I stayed back so Sophia could finish the semester at preschool. Then we moved in to the basement of his parents house (2 adults, 3 kids, an 80lb. dog in a one bedroom, one living room basement). I paint a pretty picture - don't I? It wasn't pretty, and I was a wreck. Needless to say I discontinued my effort to read the Bible in a year.
Fast-forward 3 1/2 years. Add one more baby to the mix, a new house, finishing the basement, the house flooding, refinishing the basement. I've had every excuse there possibly could be, but the reality was I was not being obedient. I KNEW I should be reading the Bible daily. I heard it at church, I heard it in our weekly Bible study group. I felt a strong calling that I should be doing it. But I didn't.
Then this summer came. On June, 7, I finally recommitted to read the Bible every night for a year. It started with the purchase of a new Bible. Sometimes you need something that simple to make a fresh start. Then, a committment to not go to bed, no matter how tired I was, without reading the daily section. So far, so good.
Chris, has recently felt an incredibly strong calling from God. It's completly and utterly out of his comfort zone. But he knew it was from God and not something he would have dreamed up. He has felt the need to spend the next year talking to someone everyday about God. Not necessarily street corner evangalizing, but walking up to a total stranger and asking them if he can pray for them. Talking to a sick neighbor and praying for them on the spot. Telling another neighbor about his church and extending an invitation. Totally and completly out of his comfort zone. But he's obeying. He's started a blog to write about his daily encounters and you can read it here. Be sure to read the "About this Blog" page as it explains the entire project!
Sometimes obedience is not comfortable or easy, but totally necessary. Suddenly, we've been receiving some amazing blessings. We needed a new van, but couldn't afford the payments. Then his Grandma couldn't drive anymore and we were able to purchase hers at a ridiculously low price. A friend asked me, that same week, to babysit her child part-time. Totally enough to make the car payment. Blessing. Chris had a couple of freelance jobs come up. Blessing. I work at the Parent's Day Out program on fridays and that just started up again. The paycheck will soon come. For a stay-at-home mom to find a part-time job she can do while raising her kids - well, it's rare. Blessing. I volunteered to run our children's ministries at our church, something I felt like I should have done for the last year. But I kept holding back. But I finally volunteered, and shockingly, they said they were willing to pay me part-time to do it and I was prepared to do it for free. Blessing.
I know there's no way to understand God's timing. And our obedience obviously doesn't necessarily directly corelate to our recent blessings. God is way bigger than that. These were just very tangible ways that we've seen God at work in our lives. We've certainly not only benefited from financial blessings. We've been blessed immeasurably by God in so many other ways. But, it's just been so rewarding lately to feel like we're finally doing what God's been calling us to do. A feeling of peace I guess. We've spent 7 1/2 years trying to teach our children to be obedient, but it turns out we were the ones needing the lesson.
Today was the first day of Parents' Day out for my little munchkins. I teach there on Fridays so my kids can go for free. It's great for kids who stay at home with a parent to get to have a weekly place to be around other kids. It's even better for the parents who get four hours of freedom!
Isabella hasn't started her preschool yet, so this was the first day she could load up her backpack. Sam, is now out of the nursery and into the big 2-year-old room. What fun he is going to have! The first day is always a bit hectic so I completely forgot to take any pictures. But they adjusted really well to their teachers and classmates and looked awfully cute getting ready to go in the morning. Sam's bag was too heavy with his lunchbox in it and he really couldn't wear it except for the brief picture. But, eventually, he'll grow into it!!
It's still hard to believe these two kiddos are two years apart.
The first day of school is always exciting. As a kid, I always LOVED picking out my school supplies, arranging and rearranging them in my backpack until they fit perfectly. I remember barely being able to sleep and being so excited to find out which of my friends were going to be in my new class. I loved school -- all the way through my Masters program, I loved school. Now it's my turn to watch my girls get excited about the first day of school.
Friday, Sophia started second grade and Anna started Kindergarten. They were so excited they were up earlier than ever. Sophia loves to sleep and in the summer barely made it out of bed before 8:30. But on Friday, she was up at 6am, dressed and ready to go. I'm not sure if she was more excited about starting second grade, or about showing Anna around. She really enjoys being the big sister "in the know."
We took the girls to school their first day and then let them ride the bus home. Luckily, when we got there Sophia quickly found some good friends to snap a few pictures with.
Then it was off to line up in the gym and head to their classes. Anna looked a little nervous sitting at her desk coloring a picture, but she also was eager to get started.
We all waited for Anna's bus to come home since we still have half day kindergarten here. THANK YOU!! She ran off the bus and couldn't stop smiling.
Isabella was so excited to see her too. They do love each other so much!
Later, since it was 109 outside, we watched out the window and waited for Sophia to get off the bus.
She, always more serious about school, had had fun but was really just ready for a snack.
They both wished they could go to school on Saturday. Today they hopped on the bus and were off on their own. Having two in school is a pretty new feeling. And Isabella starts preschool two mornings a week pretty soon. In a few short weeks, it will just be Sam and I on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Oh the fun we will have!!
When we finished our basement we purposely set out to create fun areas for our kids to really use their imaginations. Of course we have the big plastic kitchen that almost every house has. It has "served" us well through the years. Ha ha! A couple of years ago I got really caught up in the idea of the kids having an actual stage to play on. Something complete with curtains and lights and something that they could spend hours playing on. I drew it out, and my patient hubby built it as a Christmas gift to the kids. The kids have loved it.
We've done everything from our own version of the Living Nativity to watching countless musical performances and puppet shows. This week I'm watching two extra kids and it was neat to see them so excited over the stage. Our kids are used to it and the "cool factor" has diminished. Yesterday all the kids minus Sam put on a play. We had a director/narrator/actor explaining what was going on, and boy did I need help!
We started out with a baseball player super-hero, a captured mermaid princess whose only apparent lines were "I DO NOT want to be captured" and a few cowgirls thrown in for good measure. After capturing the princess, we quickly went on a high seas adventure and found a deserted treasure island and then quickly rocketed up into outer space. Following along was difficult to say the least. The play never ended. I eventually got saved by the smell of a dirty diaper and exited up stairs to a little peace and quiet. Fun times.
The other area we created was a school area. We now have 3 little desks, an art table that Papa created for us as a knock-off of Pottery Barn, and a beautiful chalkboard that the kids spend hours creating masterpieces on. Chris built this himself too. I just love the way it looks. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture on a "Clean Room" sort-of day. With 6 kids downstairs this week, nothing is clean. But, it's nice to see the kids having so much fun playing down there.
Last weekend we took the kids out the Grammy's house for Dodge City Days. I hadn't been in a long time and the kids had never experienced the "Greatest Show on Dirt." What bad parents we are! My sister, brother-in-law and their two girls were there too. We got in late Friday night and the girls attempted a slumber party in the enclosed porch/sun room. Isabella quickly realized she needed to come in and go sleep downstairs. The other girls managed to fall asleep hours later.
Saturday morning we got up early to participate in the kiddie parade. Chris and my brother-in-law Tony had turned our garden wagon into a covered wagon. We had to sign in an hour early and then the little cowgirls and cowboy waited patiently for the parade to begin. They did great! The girls waved the whole time and Sam loved it once the wagon was moving. At the end of the parade they handed out prizes and "Grammy's Gang" took first prize in the large group division. They were so excited. The five girls split the $50 cash prize and quickly went over to the "arts, crafts & stuff fair." Yes I said, "stuff fair." It is Dodge City. They all bought various forms of jewelery. We went to lunch and went home for naps and relaxing away from the heat.
Every cowboy likes to hold his Daddy's hand!
Isabella couldn't stop waving even after the parade was over...
Isabella is really admiring the $50 bill!
Chris "interviews" Uncle Tony with his water bottle about how it felt to make the float and then win the competition.
That evening we went to the rodeo. It's a shame my kids have lived as long as they have without going to the rodeo. They all loved it. Sophia was SO excited at everything! Even Sam loved watching all the bulls and horses. Every time one went through the exit gate he would say, "Bye Bye (pause) Cow." I don't have any pictures from the rodeo since I spent the entire time wrangling my own little calf. Sam doesn't sit still long. He was up, down, and we had to work hard to keep his attention on the animals. But, he did better than expected. We drove back home that night and got in around 1:30am since we needed to be at church the next morning.
The kids had so much fun. But they are really very tired still today. Of course, they're already back in their cowgirl outfits playing today. Such a fun time for all the kids!
We were at the airport the other night waiting for Chris to get home from a quick business trip. We were early so I bribed all my kids with a package of M & M's if they would sit still. I never like it when my kids are wound up in public running around. But, they are kids and can't be expected to act appropriately all the time.
Sam ate half of his bag sitting nicely in his chair. Then, WHAM! The chocolate kicked in and he was up. He was spinning, he was dancing, and he was talking to EVERYONE at the airport. Mostly, he was pretty cute so I didn't struggle to suppress him because that would have only been more hectic. At one point, a man, easily in his 80's or 90's, began walking down the long hallway and Sam stuck out his hands and said "stop light." The man, who later told us his name was Howard, stopped. Then Sam said he could go. The two of them played this game as he slowly made his way down the hallway. It was so cute to watch them interact. When Howard finally made it to where we were sitting he began talking to Sam. Sam explored every inch of his walker and the two of them had a great time. Howard was picking up his son who was on the same flight as Chris. Before Howard left, he introduced Sam to his son, and thanked me profusely for letting him get to know Sam. He said that completely made his day.
I'm not exaggerating even a little when I say that everyone that night at the airport had their full attention on Sam and Howard. Many people came up to me later and commented on how well behaved the girls were (remember the M & M's) and how nice it was for me to let Sam talk to Howard. It was really just one of those warm-fuzzy moments I hope I never forget. I love my kids, but when they can bring joy to a total stranger, that's a "God-thing" to me.
I've waited all summer to show you this. It's finally done. Sam has his official new room and I lOVE it! Chris built his twin bed based on plan's I found on knock-off wood. We tweaked them a bit to fit our needs and it looks amazing! Chris completed our basement -- twice due to the lovely flood I'd like to magically forget -- so he's pretty handy, but there's something about making your own piece of furniture that just feels so good and this was Chris' first! (It also saves a TON of money!!) If you've never been to the website for knock-off wood - you're really missing something. Ana takes pieces of furniture you see in Pottery Barn and Land of Nod and other popular companies and gives you the plans to make them yourself. Have I mentioned that they're free? There are so many things I'd love Chris to build for us, but I'm not allowed to add anything to his "honey do" list until everything that's currently on there is crossed off. Seems fair. Two more items to go and then I can create a new list!!
Sam loves all things planes, trains and cars so that was our theme. I love looking through Pottery Barn's kids' catalog but I can never afford what they have. So I found some vinyl stickers of an airplane spelling out Sam's name in a store on etsy. They are very similar to one Pottery Barn has but 1/2 the price. YEAH! I also found some basic transportation prints that I simply mounted onto canvas' that I already had for super easy artwork. I found these here. Very cute and easily changed as he outgrows them.
So, here it is!
Isn't this bed beautiful? Here's a closer picture...
Sam still loves to be rocked for a few minutes before bedtime -- and since he's my last baby I'm going to indulge that as long as he wants! This is an old dresser we had that we painted to match the bed and just painted the old brass hardware for a more updated look.
I like Mod Podge glue a lot! And I love picking out fun scrapbook paper to make the kids' artwork for their walls. So easy, and way cheaper than buying them.
I'm so excited about his room and Sam LOVES it! He is doing a super job staying in his bed sleeping which quite honestly was a huge surprise to Chris and I. When the kid's awake he doesn't stop moving - ever. And, for the first time in 7 1/2 years, we no longer need this up in our house.
It's a little sad, but mostly really exciting to be getting out of the baby stage and watching our kids grow up and learn new things daily. I'm ready to sell the bedding, but Chris wants to store the bed for grand kids someday. We'll see. He's really not a saver so I don't think it will last that long! One more project crossed off the list. Now I can get the new office straightened up and everything put back away. Then, what will I put on that new "honey do" list?