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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can you believe what my kid did now?!?!?!?!

Here's how my evening went down last night. After a LONG afternoon of family events (more to follow about that on another day), we ate a little dinner before Sean & I had to leave for church. We had a little dessert night volunteer appreciation and we knew it wouldn't be a late evening so we left Andrew in charge of Nathan & Rebekah. (For those who are concerned, he's well over legal babysitting age...we just don't usually leave him for a long time because chaos usually follows.)
We promised everyone we'd be home not too late and we'd put them to bed. When the evening concluded at about 8:35-8:40, we hastily said our goodbyes and left.
At 8:51, I call Andrew from the car to tell him to get Nathan and himself into their pajamas. I told him I'd deal with Rebekah when I got home. He pauses for a minute and says, "Uh, Mom?" (I'm having heart palpitations now.)
"Yes, Andrew?"
Andrew replies, "I already put them to bed."
Stunned silence now meets the oldest over the phone. I'm sure it was uncouth, but I was so surprised I blurted out, "You did what?!?"
He repeated that Nathan & Rebekah were in bed already. I told him to get his pajamas on, too, because we'd be home in a few minutes.
When we got home, I went to check on Rebekah--already out cold. Sean checked on Nathan who was asleep. When I asked Andrew what time he put them to bed he told me, well, it was between 8:30 and always say they need to be in bed by 8:30.
I'm still in shock over this whole experience. Leaves me feeling a little off-kilter. All those talks, lectures and groundings about responsibility (or lack thereof) and suddenly---without our asking---he behaves in a mature and responsible way.
Wow! What a kid! Guess my first baby is really growing up.

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's a Statue...Is it Rushmore? Nope, it's Mount Rush Hour

Mount Rush Hour

Next to the Interstate as you drive into Downtown Houston is quite the monument. It's Mount Rush Hour and while it's a takeoff from Mount Rushmore, there's definitely a Texas Twist to the display. You'll notice if you go from Right to Left (yes, I know it's backwards from reading, but stick with me here) you will see George Washington and then Abraham Lincoln. Now to give it a Texas Twist, the last two people are Sam Houston and Stephen Austin (both familiar names to those who are forced to take Texas History--and yes, they have cities named after themselves).

Across the bases of the statues are the words, "A Tribute to American Statesmanship."

Here are George and Abe up close. The details are really impressive and it was a sight we've seen from the road many times and have spoken about. However, seeing it up close and realizing the immense size of these statues is very impressive.

We got a family shot with Abe and then Tia had her picture with the boys. (Rebekah was not interested in being photographed at this particular time--stubborn girl!) This was part of Tia's Fun Day. We started these "Fun Days" sort of by mistake. It seemed like every time we'd visit, there was one really special thing we were going to do. She would take off work and go with us and somehow it morphed into being called "Tia's Fun Day." The kids love their Tio & Tia and so these days are really more about spending time with Tia and the bonus is there's something fun that goes with this time.

After we left Mount Rush Hour, we--ummm--well, sigh....we took a detour. Yup, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. We were looking for our place on the big map (good luck there) because the GPS kept losing it's satellite signal from the skyscrapers. We knew we got turned the wrong direction and we were looking for a safe place to turn around when we passed our bonus stop on the tour. The sculptor who created Mount Rush Hour is David Adickes and his studio is in downtown Houston. The gates were open so we stopped to see the statues he has outside his workshop. (We also found our place on the map and got the GPS signal back.)

He appears to be creating a bust of every president. He has already created two such displays (I think) for places around America.

Barack Obama

Here's Thomas Jefferson's head next to an unfinished Teddy Roosevelt. Then we drove by Teddy and you could see inside a bit of how these giant statues are made.

What a nice start to Tia's Fun Day. Stay tuned for more of the adventures of our family & Tia.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up. I discovered in my research that the designated week in the US is the first week of May. However, daring to be different, many midwest states celebrate in March instead. Perhaps it's because by now, we're all stir crazy from the snow and we need to make sure our teachers don't lose their minds before May. (That's my theory, you can come up with one that seems more 'correct'...mine aims at the truth of the matter!)
Since ours is arriving next week, I thought I'd share some fantastic things I've found to honor the teachers my children have, have had in the past and will have. It is hard for me to send my babies to preschool and kindergarten and beyond. I have to give their care and mental growth over to someone else. We've been blessed to always have teachers of excellence so I do better now on the first day of school.
Recently, I ran across this article that sums up teaching. I hope you enjoy it, too.
The Dinner Party
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, “What’s
a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become
a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To corroborate, he said to another guest: You're a teacher, Susan. Be honest. What do
you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied:
"You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like the Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English.
I elevate them to experience music and art and the joy in performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments.
I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart
...And if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no
You want to know what I make?
I make a difference."

She turns to the CEO and asks, "What do you make?"

To all of my children's teachers from the past, the present and the future--
Thank You!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Big News, Big Change at Our House

Like my title?? Thought it would grab attention.

First off, nope...not pregnant. Under the advice of my OB/GYN and other medical professionals, this body is not allowed to carry any more babies. My OB told me my body has officially told me to quit. So I have.

We have other news. As of Friday, Sean is officially a full time telecommuter. Woo hoo! I know it will take some adjustment and we need to stay disciplined, but what a relief. When he was hired, he was told he could work from home two days a week with the occasional 3rd day at home. At one point, they tried to take away his work from home entirely and he pushed back and was able to keep one day a week. Since then, his new boss is half the US away and she telecommutes full time. A few weeks ago, the arrangements were made for his group to become telecommuters.
What makes me laugh is that he had to think about it. WHAT?!?!? I told him there's only a year and a half before our last baby goes out the door to school. Don't blow the opportunity to eat lunch with her every day and to be able to take a 'coffee break' for ten minutes to read her a bedtime story and kiss her before her nap. That helped cement the decision. Once he applied, the official status went through in less than four hours.
We've spent the last couple weeks juggling our home office and rearranging it. We've been getting ready for a new phone line, separate cable modem line and setting up his desk. It will be nice to know that Rebekah can go to sleep and I won't have to wake her up to pick up carpools. Andrew won't have to watch her when Nathan has his appointments. And since he really is working during the day, he mostly stays upstairs and I stay downstairs so there's still breathing room for each of us.
I've really enjoyed his 2-3 days a week at home. It's nice to have an adult to converse with and while I don't ask him to do 'house chores' during the's nice to know he can change a burnt out light bulb or reach stuff in the cabinets that I need a step-stool to reach.
I'll keep you posted as time goes by, but I'm really happy to have him working from home.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nathan's Birthday Bash--The Home Edition

With all the hoopla surrounding Nathan's day, it turned out better for us to stay home on his actual birthday and celebrate here. We made his favorite pasta for dinner (bow tie noodles). Rebekah calls them butterfly noodles. Sean made Nathan's plate extra special...

After dinner, we had cake for dessert. I had planned to purchase a cake at the store for Nathan, but that week my car had been in the shop not once but twice and the day in the middle where I was to run errands and order cake ended up being the day I stayed home as much as possible since the van was really acting up. So I baked him his cake instead.

I put a special 8 in the corner and Nathan got the GIANT piece of cake with the entire 8 on it.

After dinner, the opening of the presents ensued...

This is one of my favorite "Nathan" expressions. Look at the pure joy on his face. And one of the best parts of Nathan is that he is truly touched that anyone gets him any gift at all. You could wrap up rocks and he'd still be this excited and happy. He's so sensitive that way and really appreciates each gift he gets.

The grandmas spoiled him rotten with new board games and video games. There were lots of clothes, too. He's been wearing a new outfit almost every day. The clothes pictures turned out a little dark so I didn't post them. Just know that if you're a Poppa or Grandma--he loved his clothes!
Here's one that cracked me up. I was with my mom post-Christmas and we found this gift on big time clearance. It's so big that Nathan held it on his legs while opening it up.

It's his very own claw machine. And all three kids love it. If you're worried about them getting too much candy, you've gotta read my post about Candy Possibly Causing Criminal Behavior.
We've discovered the Claw Machine is the same idea. Since I keep candy openly accessible to my kids 24/7, they don't really care. They dug out all kinds of candy to fill the machine and the first night they worked hard to get 2-3 pieces each that they ate. After that, they began filling it with notes to each other and funny sayings. They spent hours writing notes, putting them in the machine, then trying to get the note the other one left for them. By day 3, they mostly get the candy out, slide the cover open at the top and drop it back in. They might get the same candy 8-10 times in a row. Who cares, it's the thrill of the claw.

Granddaddy sent Nathan some cold hard cash.

Tio & Tia ordered one of Tia's favorite books for Nathan. It's "The One in the Middle is a Green Kangaroo" by Judy Blume. It came out when I was way past kid books so I had never read the story. How perfect for my Nathan!!! It's a middle child (boy) who has a big brother and a baby sister. He has to share his room with his big brother and he gets all the hand-me-downs from brother. (Now in my defense, while the boys share a room and Nathan gets hand-me-downs, that kid is so skinny that he also gets gobs of his own clothes brand new because he can't wear Andrew's old ones.)

While this boy isn't feeling special, he ends up getting to be in a play. He plays a Green Kangaroo. The rest of the story is awesome---but you'll have to go read it for yourself. To go with the book, Tia had her friend make a stuffed green kangaroo for Nathan. He loves it! It's velvet so it meets his sensory input needs and she even made a little joey for the kangaroo's pouch. He sleeps with it every night.
Nathan really had a very happy birthday. Can't believe how big he does seem like just yesterday that we were racing down the main drag in town trying to get to the hospital on time. (We made it 3 minutes before he did...but that's a story for another day.)
Now my 5# peanut is such a big boy. I'd heard the term but never really understood it until Nathan. He's my 'old soul' and very sensitive to others. I'm glad that he still likes to cuddle at 8. I enjoy every snuggle and cuddle because I know they can't last forever.
Hope you enjoyed the Birthday Bash, too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

The day Nathan was born....

Present day: Nathan making a heart at the school Valentine party.

Showing off his boat creation.

Happy Birthday, Nathan!! You were my tiniest baby at 5# 12.5 oz. Your sweet smile and beautiful eyes have captivated my heart from the start. You were named "God's gift" and "God's beloved"---and you are. Always remember as much as Mommy loves you, Jesus loves you more.

I'll love you forever and three days, Mom

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: The Dash

It all started with a quote I heard on the radio. It grabbed my attention and I couldn't let go of the thought. Interested in knowing what the quote that could snag my attention is?

"I am convinced that success is not measured by what you get out of life, but by what you give back." Jerry Moran

Stop and think about that for a minute. It took time for it to really sink into my mind, my heart and my spirit. So I began to wonder what I really give back? Do all the PB&Js lovingly put in 'special' baggies with printed characters and notes attached to milk money in lunchboxes really count as giving back? Does laundry and vacuuming and doing dishes count? While I think those things do give back to my family, I'm not sure it counts in the greater meaning of the quote. What gives back to the world?

Then I thought more about the other things I do. Does talking to a friend who is hurting give back? How about the times I stepped in when someone needed help at a MOPS meeting or a church event? What about being the Room Party Mom for a class who wouldn't get a party if a mom didn't come and help?

All these thoughts swirled around until I found myself tyring to remember the lines to the poem, "The Dash." I found that poem and read it over again. And once again, I'm struck by the simplicity of the words and how great their impact is to me.

So in my year of working to be more
Engaged, I want to focus on what I'm doing with my dash. What 'successes' will be counted as mine at the end of my life? I want to be a giver instead of a taker. As Jerry Moran said above, I want to be the person who is successful because of what I gave.

Enjoy reading "The Dash." And if you have picked out your word for this year, please let me know. I'd love to pray for you as you focus in on what that word is for you and your life this year.

The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of
her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Nathan--Family Lunch at School

To help Nathan celebrate his birthday, we went to school to have lunch with him. (It was Belgian Waffle Day, so at least it was good eats!)

Rebekah wanted nothing to do with

sneaky dad told her to move out of the way. Then he snapped her in the background anyway.

Andrew & Nathan were all smiles.

Dad is a goof and decided to make fun of my photo-taking. Told him it would go online this way and he didn't seem to care. Maybe it's his better side??

On the way back to the car after lunch, Sean made a reindeer in the snow. His hand prints (top right) form the antlers, then he drew a face and body. And, if you don't believe the snow has been bad this year, that thing in the top left corner is the backrest of the bench outside the school. It's finally melted enough that we can see it again. At one point, the drifting and piled snow from the tractors had created a pile by the front door that was almost 10 feet tall.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Children's Place 15% Off Everything Coupon

Click on the picture to print a 15% off coupon for Children's Place. Coupon expires February 18, 2010 and is valid both in the store and online.

Happy Shopping!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day--It Ain't What it Used to Be

Ever reached the point where you know that you know that you know that you're probably an 'old married couple'?? I think Sean & I have reached that point.

It hit me that we are an 'old married couple' when everyone kept asking what we're doing for Valentine's Day. We have no plans and won't really celebrate in the typical manner.

First off, I've never been one to want to go out anywhere around Valentine's Day--the lines are long, the prices are sky high and now that we have kids--I don't need to pay a sitter for a 3 hour wait for my table. I don't want flowers on Valentine's Day--maybe another day, but not on Feb. 14. Are you kidding? I watched the prices go at our local grocery store from $1 per long stem rose to $3.99 per long stem rose. I don't think the flowers are any better at 4x the price. Buy me flowers to surprise me in March when they are normal priced again!

So Sean and I have no plans for today. Church and pot blessing (pot luck) afterwards. Rebekah will need a nap. Then we'll do something for dinner--at home--and maybe have game night with the kids. Nathan got new games and we want to check them out.

We did have a wonderful dinner together on Wednesday when the kids have AWANA Clubs. We brought home fast-ish food and were rebels by eating on the couch. (Big time no-no around here!) Mostly, we connected at a heart to heart level. There's been a lot of 'noise' in our life lately and things trying to pull us every way apart, but we chose to spend time getting close again. It was lovely.

Maybe this Wed. we'll go to the restaurant I picked out for our non-Valentine date night. New little Mexican place and I scored some gift certificates to pay for part of our meal (yes!).

Most of all, I decided along the way that there's a lot of days that are sold to us as important dates on the calendar. I've figured out that I'd rather have my dishwasher unloaded by my loving husband or come home to a house that was picked up while I was gone throughout the year instead of one big hoopla on a set day on the calendar. The little things speak louder to me in assuring Sean's love than flowers or candies or dinner out.

Yes, I've figured it out. We are the old married couple--and I think I'm happier that way. So go enjoy your dinner tonight and I'll catch up with my hubby on another day. After all, if you truly love each other, any day can be Valentine's Day.

Come and grow old with me, the best is yet to be!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nathan's Birthday Bash

This week we had Nathan's official (early) birthday bash with his friends. We went to a local giant playplace for their party. I figured the kids would have fun---but WOW, this was by far the best party (from a kid point of view) that we ever had!

It started with pizza and pop. (Caught Andrew & a friend mid-bite so took another nicer photo of them.)

Then we had cupcakes and opened presents.

For his presents, he must have done a nice job of promoting what he wanted to the people invited. All but one family brought him a Bakugan of some sort or a gift card to buy a Bakugan. He did get an awesome art kid (already played with the clay). Then in the Bakugan Bonanza, we have added something like 11 new Bakugan to his collection, a host of gate cards and power cards, a Binder to hold the cards (thank you!) and a new carry case to hold all the new Bakugans (woo hoo!). He was smiling, smiling, smiling. He also got a Farkle game with a Bakugan from one friend. We all cheered at that---our family is a bit competitive and Farkle is a favorite. But, in the move a couple years ago, we lost our Farkle dice and we've never replaced them. Silly, but true. I feel game night in our near future!

The party package included tokens for each child (they couldn't wait to play video games) and two rides for each child. They could do the train roller coaster or the bumper cars. Since Rebekah is too short to ride the rides, we gave one of her tickets to a sibling of a guest (and our carpool buddy for preschool) and the kids rode the roller coaster. It's FAST!!!

Check out all of these smiles. Hard to get good action shots when it's a bit dark, but I think you can see the fun they had!

Here's Rebekah on the Carousel:
Bumper Car Bang-Up:

Finally, to cap off the entire night, the Birthday Boy got to get in the wind machine and try to win prizes. He managed to get about 6 certificates in a short time span.

Here's the video of the wind machine:

All in all a great night!


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