Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas to All...AND...

...we've had our very first runaway(s)....right in the midst of this fine holiday season!

I was shopping the other night, finding some screaming deals, when I got a phone call from my 10 y.o. She said that our middle two girls were nowhere to be found. She said she searched the entire house, the yard, the neighbors' yards where their "sledding hill" girls. It was getting dark...or rather, it was quite dark already. I was only a few miles away so I told her to keep looking and I would come right home to help.

I got a phone call a few minutes later reporting that the lost had been found. The girls insisted that they had been in the yard all along playing tag and such. At this time, my 10 y.o. reported that earlier she had seen the two girls off walking down the street, around the corner and then later overheard their discussion that they had gone down another street and had walked until they saw a dog, at which point they decided to beat cheeks home. I told her I would talk to them because they know they aren't allowed to walk off our cul-de-sac without permission.

I got home and asked the girls what they were doing walking around the neighborhood. They said they were just out walking. I told them that they aren't allowed to do that and beside the fact it was getting dark, it also was much too cold to go wandering off. If they would have gotten lost, they could have easily and quickly gotten dangerously cold...and they could have gotten kidnapped!

I got quick apologies from both.

Later that evening, as I was getting ready to go out the door to work, our 9 y.o. (one of the wanderers) started whining (and I mean whining) that she never gets time to do her homework!!! I told her that it is her responsibility to get it done before playing outside. She wailed that she forgot that she has homework!!!! I told her that that just doesn't cut it. That is what they have a planner for. Her job in this position as a student is making sure she checks her planner every night, even if she thinks she doesn't have homework, and that she gets her homework done every night.

She was getting quite loud with her outburst, so my husband, who was trying to get the baby to sleep, reminded her to keep it down. She raised her voice even louder so he raised his, telling her that she had 20 minutes to complete whatever she had for homework (which is always plenty of time for her). She continued her high-pitched whining and wailing and was getting quite obnoxious until he yelled at her that regardless of what she had to say, time was ticking...get her homework done in 20 minutes or she would go to school without it done! To which she began crying and saying, "Mom! I have to talk to you!"

She came down to the door and said, "Plus, Mom, I really did run away!" I asked her, "When, tonight? You mean when Olivia was looking for were on the run?" She said, "YES! Everyone is always mad at me and yelling at me, even when I try to talk so nicely. I finally got tired of just talking about running away and decided to just do it! I decided to try it to see how it feels." I told her, "Oh. I'm sorry to hear that you felt that bad about being here that you decided to actually leave. You really picked a bad night to try it though. Besides the fact it was already getting dark and you could have easily gotten lost, it is really, really cold out there. You could have quickly frozen and then what good would that have been? And just think, what if someone would have kidnapped you?"

The "kidnapper" word is the one that always gets her thinking. She has great discussions of the "what-ifs" involving this kind of slowed her down a little bit. Of course this great confession came right as I had to get out the door so she promised to talk about it with me when we were both home the next evening after school. I also pulled my oldest aside and asked her to, at some point, mention to her dad what happened and ask him to talk to her about it. That way she feels that we at least acknowledged her distress (as dramatic as she can be). I know they both talked to her then after I left.

When we talked the next afternoon, her emotions were pretty evened out and she just told me where all they walked, what all they saw, and wasn't even in the least bit disturbed anymore. The highlight of the whole discussion was the fact they saw a bulldog on the run (I have recently seen the same dog in the neighborhood) and decided they better make fast tracks home.

I have a feeling that these two just might turn my head a snowy white before too many years!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordful Wednesday: Christmas Card '08

This year I decided against trying to gather the young'uns around for a formal or specifically Christmas picture. I felt more like picking out snapshots I've gotten of them here and there over the past few months. I think this shows their personalities better (between that and I was just too lazy to attempt the more formal route)...except the dogs. I am still floored that I got them to just go sit by each other (somewhat motivated by a piece of roast beef my 10y.o. let them first sniff). I will forever be amazed that I got the shot I did. They actually sat right down and posed for several pictures. I finally told my daughter, "Okay, give 'em that piece of meat to share! I think they've earned it today!" :)

(Take note of the parakeet on the hood of my 10 y.o. in the top right photo, or below)

This bird has been so fun to have around! The girls have been working on socializing/taming it.
*Okay, now that I've posted this, I realized that I have this same photo (our Christmas card photo, including this one of my daughter and her bird) in color on top as my blog photo! Pardon my dementia-ridden brain!!! :)

A Blog Giveaway...

I'm posting this blog giveaway because the owner of this blog has some really neat handmade items she is just giving away if you go comment on her giveaway blog. Just click on her giveaway button, like the one above, that you see on the upper left-hand side of her blog..then follow the instructions. Her blog is really cute!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thirty Years Ago Today....

This is a post I did one year ago today. Due to time constraints, I will just link to this post instead of creating a new one.

Thirty years ago today, my mom passed away. This was one of my biggest life-altering events. On one hand, I feel that, as tragic as it was to all of us, it also helped define who we all are today. On the other hand, I just wish she was here...even if that would mean I would be a weaker or less determined or less strong person. Her passing and then the continuation of life without her truly did make us all closer and stronger, that is without a doubt in my mind. However, sometimes strength, determination, and closeness is a tad overrated! I miss her!

Another Addendum....

Well, the second screening went well. Our daughter dared to speak up even a little bit more, bringing her voice from a whisper to a soft speaking voice, still only answering to me though, never to the screener.

Some of her answers to the screener's questions:

Screener: "What is an umbrella?"
Her: "Um....for cleanin' up and puttin' away." *brilliant smile to me*

Screener: "What are boots?"
Her: "Shoes! For people!"

Screener: "What do you do when it starts to get dark outside?" *answer she was looking for was, "Turn on a light."*
Her: "Go inside."
Screener: "And what do you do inside the house when it starts to get dark?"
Her: "Go to bed!" *We do not encourage light usage in our house, apparently!!!*

Screener: "What is a candle?"
Her: "Mmmm, I don't know." *looking right at a couple of them that were sitting on the table in front of her. She knows very well what a candle is, I think she was overthinking these questions just a tad...just wasn't sure how to explain exactly what a candle is.*

The screener had to go back to her office and score the testing results but felt that our 4 y.o. almost certainly didn't qualify for the early childhood preschool intervention. I guess that's okay since that means that academically she probably won't struggle once she does start school as long as we somehow get her more comfortable in a group setting. I personally think she will do fine once I saw how much she warmed up during the at-home screening process. We will just have to make sure to either enroll her in a very parttime preschool program or enroll all of us at-homers next year into some community ed classes geared for her age.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Addendum to the "Pick!" Story (yesterday's post)

I guess I didn't give all the details and maybe should have about the preschool screening.

The reason they had our 4 y.o. do her preschool screening at home then, after two attempts at screening her at school was that, although she passed the screening on the second shot, she barely passed due to her not daring to do some of the physical stuff and then not answering some of the questions. The screener thought that she could possibly benefit from one more screening, since she was pretty sure that our daughter was pretty bright but still thought maybe she could qualify for the school funded preschool, just to get her on track socially so she wouldn't lose ground in kindergarden. I know that our third daughter really lost a lot of ground in kindergarden and first grade due to shyness and now in third grade is finally catching up and beginning to seem like she is reaching near her full potential.

The screener at the school had asked if we had planned on enrolling our 4 y.o. in preschool next year and I told her that we actually had. We've never had any of our kids in preschool before for multiple reasons but in this case I felt that it is almost dire that she gets used to the group/school environment before kindergarden. In a lot of ways, I don't want her in preschool but think that if we could have her in just for a couple hours a few times a week, she would greatly benefit from it.

She did, by the way, do much better at home after she warmed up. She started out whispering very, very quietly in my ear but after a while of "playing" with the blocks, paper, coins, etc., she started whispering a little louder in my ear...finally to the point that the screener could hear her without me having to repeat everything she said. The screener is coming back on Thursday since she didn't finish the screening before our other kids came from school but she was very impressed and said it was fun to screen a child that did so well. I'm happy she did well so far but on one hand, wouldn't have minded if she hadn't since she could then possibly qualify for the preschool that they have right in the school system (in the kindergarden building, as a matter of fact). For one thing, it builds right into the school curriculum, and for another, it would have been free! Gotta love free!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Do You Do With....?

Our 4 y.o., yes, this 4 y.o., can actually be quite shy!

Doesn't appear to be the shy type in this photo, but we had her go through preschool screening twice and she wouldn't answer anything except in a very, very small, quiet whisper and only to me, in my ear, in a very tickley kind of way!!!

Because of this, at the second screening, although they gave her credit for answering to me, then me saying the answer out loud and she passed, they decided to do an in-home screening to see if she would be more comfortable in her comfort zone-at home.

On the morning of her screening, after I got home from work, I remembered that I hadn't finished her paperwork for this screening. I looked over all the forms, finished the few things I had left, and then noticed a 300 question questionaire that had to still be completed. In that questionaire, there were areas such as, "Does your child know how to recite the complete alphabet?" and "Can your child name at least three colors?" and "Can your child count at least up to 10?" then a little later, "Can your child count at least up to 15?" then a little later, "Can your child count at least up to 20?" Then, "Can your child dress independently?" "Can your child dress independently and button up a button-up shirt or sweater?" "Can your child hop on one foot?" "...hop on one foot at least three hops?" "...stand on one foot without assistance?" I would many times just look at a question and just go, "Huh? Didn't they just ask me that?" I mean, how many combinations can one think of that has to do with one foot???

Okay, moving onward. At one point, they asked, "Is your child able to tell you what certain body parts do when asked, such as what he/she does with his/her eyes, ears, nose, etc.?" Does she ever!!! Me: "Um, what do your eyes do?" Her: "Roll!" Me: "What do your ears do?" Her: triumphantly and confidently, "Wiggle!" Me: smirking at this point "What does your nose do?" Her: "Umm, what does yours do?" I paused for a minute, then thought, "I suppose I should ask it how they worded it. Although it does seem more unclear to me...for a 4 y.o." Me: "Okay, what do you do with your eyes?" Her: "See!" Me: "What do you do with your ears?" Her: "Listen!" Me: "What do your do with your nose?" Her: ".....mmm....Pick!"

I couldn't help it, I just snorted out with a tiny burst of laughter and quickly tried to mask it with a snuffle and cough. She didn't like it. "Don't laugh!" she reprimanded. I tried to lamely say I was laughing at the next question, which was very funny. I don't think she bought it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All About "The Bats and The Hornets" or Was It "The Birds and the Bees"?

"Mom. Is S-P-X a swear word???" Me: "S-P-X?" Her: "Yes." Me: "Nooo..." Her: "So, 'sex' isn't a swear word?" Me: "Oh. s-e-x. Um, no, it's not really a swear word. It's just one of those words we don't really need to have discussions about at this age." Her: "'Cause I read something about, "'s sex..." Me...and 12 y.o.: " that sense it's gender. Like, is it a boy or a girl."

Later. Her: "Mom. Holli told me that 'sex' is a swear word." *Back to that again* Me: "Well, there is another meaning to that word that I will have to...uhhh...try to figure out at some time how to explain to you. But you really don't need to know much about that meaning quite yet!"

Oh these enlightening conversations you're never quite prepared for!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Month (whoa, was it a MONTH?) In Review

Ahhhh, it was a nice break actually. First, when I decided to take a break to hammer down already and get my nursing continuing education credits done, I thought I would have severe withdrawals from blogging. I didn't. It actually was kinda nice. I took a break entirely for a little bit and tried real hard to get my courses done. Then, I snuck into my favorite blogs and just lurked around. I read them quietly and just as furtively snuck out. Then after a bit longer, I commented on a few as well as lurking on the regulars. What I noticed is that I was just ready for a hermit's life for a little bit.

Well, I got all my credits done as of a few nights ago. Here are some of our month's shots. I have pictures in various places so I have a few more posts worth of pics.

Relaxing, yet hair-raising. That was our month.
Baby's favorite place as of late: the Kitchen!!!

HEY! What do you think you're doing?

Oooops! Busted!

Hang on a minute! Here. Have some. It's delicious!

One of the girls dressed her up as "Christmas Baby". She was dazzling!

My little poser (one of them).

Remember my post from about a year ago? The one about this little lovey crying and crying and crying? This one.
Well, this little girl is so good natured. She doesn't cry that much anymore. Now I can say, "See this little girl? She smiles and smiles and smiles." She's a charmer!


(Ummm, I'm not sure where she learned to pose like this. I think she just makes it up as she would see what I mean if you watched her posing for pictures. She just kinda...acts...or flounces around like she always does in her little life, with a few crossed arms thrown in for good measure. I think her oldest sister, the photog that she is, taught her to cross her arms for some pics and she hung on to that tip!)

And in her dressier dress-up dresses:

Big Sis joins in the dress-up fun:

Our latest charge. These two 4 y.o.'s are so much alike. They get along pretty well. And when they don't, they are very equally versed in their bickering. They even bicker alike. We babysit this young lady now, and when we aren't babysitting her, we still enjoy her and her cousin's company several times a week.

Our activities as of late. The older sister of the 4 y.o. asked me tonight, when she saw all the bags of food and treats after I came home from the grocery store, "Are you having a party over here for the girls tonight?" I just told her, "Every day is a party over here when I'm pregnant! I looove eggnog, and mint M&M's, and gingerbread cookies, and chips with chili and cheese...." She just laughed! The kids are loving it! And I'm gaining weight a bit more than my last few pregnancies! :) Here, we had just finished supper of rotisserie chicken, bread, chili with cheese, chips, and eggnog. The girls are decorating their sugar cookies for dessert.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Umm, A-hem! Still Plugging Along!!!

I cannot believe how hard it is to get these credits done! It definitely is much more challenging to stay awake and focused when trying to complete courses (as stimulating as they are) than blog surfing and posting!!!

My hubby and I got in a mini-honeymoon last weekend, from Thursday to Sunday! Heavenly!!! I've got pics to post from then and otherwise but I just re-peeled my eyeballs open from reading all about Congestive Heart Failure and lots and lots about treatment of it and such. YAWN!!! It sure is interesting though! Just wish I could somehow convince these eyes of that fact!

Okay, later!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Time For a Mandatory Break!

Well, due to so many other more boring (but essential and necessary) life obligations, I've decided to put myself on Mandatory Hiatus...just for as long as it takes. Aside from checking and publishing comments, I am not going to post any new posts until I get some other things done. For one thing, I have to complete 24 CEU's (Continuing Education Units) by November 30th to keep up my RN licence. Then there's a self-evalution for work since I just passed another anniversary at work and will not get a raise until I get that completed and back in the office. Then there are a few other, more mundane but just as necessary tasks I must face and conquer already so they can rest in peace in my mind!

So, if any of you see me trying to sneak back in and post anything, slap my fingers please! I'm trying to be very responsible here but if I don't have anyone keeping me in line, I may just continue to choose the path of least resistance, not to mention the path of more fun.

I will be back very soon. If I stick to my guns, I should be done in a few days or by the end of the week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Photo Story Friday: Blogging Bliss!

They start younger and younger, don't they? Computers have become a central part of everyone's lives...even for preschoolers and babies!

These are "kids' computers," my 4 y.o. informed me, as she invited her baby sister to join her. It sure didn't take any coaching for our 14 month old to know just what to do!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What a Fine Day!

Today an old childhood friend came to visit. And by "old", I don't mean old! She's younger than me! She is due to have a baby any day now and came for one more visit before being a mom to two. And what a delightful visit we had!

First, a little story to go with it. Several days ago, my 4 y.o. asked me, "Why do you go to work, Mom? Why do you need to take care of *Michael?" I said, "Well, most dads and some moms go to work to help get money so we can buy food to eat and gas for our car and van and buy clothes for all of us...." K (4 y.o.): "And treats? And presents?" Me: "Yes." K: "Does Michael give you money?" Me: "No...someone else pays me money when I go take care of Michael." K: "Who gives you the money?" Me: "*Allie pays me for doing my job." (Allie is the owner of the home care agency I work for) So for a few conversations following this one, K has asked, when my husband and I have been discussing payday or something work-related, "Did Allie give you money?" Me: "Yup!"

Now, yesterday, when I mentioned to the girls that my friend, *Allie (same name, different person) was coming to visit, K's face just lit up and she asked, with a big grin on her face, "Allie's coming to visit?" Me: after realizing what she was thinking (Allie=money=treats and presents) "Not that Allie!" K: "Oh."

So, anyway, my sister and her daughter were over as well and we all had such of a nice time catching up. We don't get to see each other very often so when we do, it's hard to fit it all in...even several hours almost doesn't suffice!

I am still grinning tonight, thinking about being able to have such of a nice visit today! It was just a fine day!!!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent, non-suspecting targets of this post!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WordFUL (and PictureFUL) Wednesday: Happy Birthday (Belatedly)!

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Here is my 3rd born lovey! I missed blogging on or around her birthday because it was just so busy I couldn't think, let alone blog. We had a fabulous day!

The festivities began with an outdoor activity: Toilet Paper Fashion. Two lovely ladies were dressed in toilet paper by their team in competition to see who could make a more fashionably dressed model. It was a toss-up. They both looked mighty fine. One (on the left) was complete with a big lady chest and all! Quite creative and quite clear to me who was on her team. My #3 daughter and her very creative friend!

Then Pin the Tail on the Donkey!

All festivities were led by our two oldest daughters and our oldest daughter's friend.

This ended up being sort of a double birthday party since our #4 daughter didn't get to have a friends-only party for the last two years. Last year I had a baby the day before her birthday and this year since my niece got married the weekend of her birthday, we had a joint birthday cake with her baby sister and had family over. She has close cousin friends, so she wasn't lacking for friends at the party, but the Actual Birthday Girl thought she needed also to have a party complete with birthday games and all, so I let her invite a few of her friends as well. She mostly invited younger sisters of the original party attenders.

Here are most of the treat bags. Each of the party-goers decorated their own bags that then were filled with goodies from the pinata and prizes from games.

Here's the pinata! After looking at pinatas at Walmart for $17 to $20-something, I decided to make my own. We fit a lot more candy in it and it was just as tough to break, although I did try to make it a little easier to bust through! It was in the shape of a birthday gift, wrapped in wrapping paper and ribbon.

Instead of making a big cake, I oftentimes make cupcakes for the kids to decorate. Sometimes I make a main cake and make cupcakes on the side for decorating purposes. Because we ended up with extra guests (new neighbors that had just moved in and are the same ages of about 4 of our kids that were kind of hanging around outside watching the activity going on in our yard), I made all the cake batter into cupcakes. They were made at different rates and I was busy divvying up pinata candies, so I didn't get a picture of all the decorated cupcakes at once.

Then, our last activity before opening gifts was a yarn and stick creation that in Highlight's magazine was called, "God's Eye". ????...Didn't think it really resembled anyone's eye, but it was really pretty, in fall colored multi-colored yarn, and the girls had fun making them. This was the first time I had such of an activity-filled agenda but with this many kids I figured it was the only way to keep peace and some semblence of structure and maybe some assurance to not losing any kids to the neighbor's "woods" (a patch of really nice trees about 200 yards wide and maybe 10 yards deep).

The final verdict on the party by the Actual Birthday Girl: "It was my best birthday ever!" The final verdict of the September Birthday Girl: "It was great but last year was better!" Me, to self, and also to her by way of my lifted eyebrows and look of, "Hah?" Last year we had a cake in the hospital since I had just had the baby the day before. We were so lucky we caught my oldest sister before she came to the hospital and asked her if she would bring her oldest daughter to be our daughter's birthday guest. I was sure she felt a little short-changed since she didn't get the invite-as-many-friends-as-Mom-will-allow (which is usually not that many)-and-run-around-whooping-it-up-at-home type of party. Her answer to my perplexed look, "Last year I got a baby sister for a present!" So much for worrying that she was lacking for parties the last two years!

*We, by the way, have four birthdays within about 3 1/2 weeks from first birthday to last. Only one more party to go! Yippee!!! I'm decidedly not the biggest party fan but when all is said and done, it usually goes quite well. I'm not below bribing in forfeiture of a party for a little nicer, more yearned for gift that the birthday child otherwise wouldn't have had a hope of getting otherwise. So now I'm quite satisfied with myself that I actually squelched the urge to bribe away this season's parties. Next year I may have to with a new baby coming along!*

Monday, October 20, 2008

See This Here Girl?

This one, who dotes on her little sisters and showers them with attention?

This young lady, who still knows how to have a great time with her sisters and will help them set up a nice, creative place to curl up without making fun of their choice of retreats?

Who loves to pal around with friends and have a good time?

Our firstborn daughter is a creative, helpful, kind, sensitive, intelligent, artistic, musical, fun-loving, deep individual who just got rave reviews at her conferences last week as well.

She has embraced this middle school thing like a champion...loves it, as a matter of fact...and, to her teachers, it sounds like it shows! They told us some really fun things to hear as parents, such as, she's always on top of things, very organized, ready to go when class starts, sometimes a little quiet for some classes, for other classes she is a little more vocal, although not too much. They report that she is very responsible, mature, happy, comfortable with her new school situation, where sometimes when kids start middle school with all the class changes, going from class to class, keeping track of everything can be a bit too overwhelming, for her it's been almost refreshing.

All the way from Science to Math, from Language Arts (fancy name for English) to Keyboarding, Phy-Ed to Choir, Band to Social Studies....they all said the same thing. "She is just a joy to have in class. I wish I had a class full of students like her. She is very positive. A good role model to other students..." We both left conferences feeling so happy to know that she is at school like she is at home, she is a joy to be around!

Happy Birthday my dear girl!!! I am so happy to be your mom!

(One of the first days of Middle School)

(Baby bonding)

(Mother's Day '08, she masterminded a very special Mother's Day lunch/dinner. With very little assistance from her dad, she made a very good tatertot hotdish. Then she decorated the dining room so nicely, complete with name tags for each person, she designed a beautiful "M" card and a heartfelt and heart-warming card for me. It was truly a special day!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hmmm, Interesting!

Check this out! A couple in Cambodia decided to split and as part of the settlement, the husband insisted that they cut the house in half. He proceeded to, with the assistance of his relatives, take the house, bit by bit, away.