Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer's End

Where did the summer go?

I guess I had a week off, and then I taught summer school for two weeks. That was immediately followed by a week of the trip to the Great North. And then it was July, and tomorrow it is August. And I'm headed back to work.

Summer regrets:
1. We only went to the Splash Park once. Perhaps that was influenced by the e. coli scare. Perhaps not. I'm just glad we didn't get a membership to the Sportsplex just yet.

2. We didn't get to hang out with the next-door neighbors as much. But as I think about it, we mostly hung out with them after school started last year, while I was on maternity leave, and while it was not as hot outside.

3. We didn't spend as much time outside as I would have liked. But it was hot, shade or no shade. Ugh.

4. I didn't get enough "me" time. That is, I had lots of great plans for getting ahead for the next school year, but was not as successful in finding the time to develop them sans toddlers. Not a huge deal, but still a little disappointing.

But, I do love school. And I LOVE August because school supplies are on super sale. I like to stock up for the year. This year I feel I did a good job keeping it to stuff I actually need. I have several packs of Crayola markers and colored pencils at school, purchased in years previous. Just because they are priced under $1 right now does not make it something I need. Idon'tneeditIdon'tneeditIdon'tneedit. Repeat 1,000,000,000 times and quickly exit Wal-Mart.

Another sadness is that my Monday nights will be changing as the college kids and young professionals from church get back into their grooves that don't include us (and vice versa). We've been hosting dinner for them on Monday nights and I've been so pleased with the turnout. I've made new friends. Old friends have made new friends. I've had a reason to keep my house clean.

Sigh. Another year. Another crop of young minds to mold. Or to give penicillin. Whichever results in them learning.

So long, summer.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Great Recovery

Last Thursday night, July 21, Dave Ramsey delivered a free simulcast message called, "The Great Recovery." We watched and decided to formally join the movement at Go to the website and take a look around.

Essentially, in this time of national debt crisis, Dave is calling for a movement from the individual, to the family, to the neighborhood, to the community, to recover our personal economies by saying no to debt, by being educated financially in this respect, either through his program (Financial Peace University) or through other God-centered programs like Crown ministries. He calls for us to put our hope in Christ Jesus and to learn to handle God's money the way God instructs us in the Bible.

In Dave's words (from an e-mail I received today):

"We believe that by helping our own families out of debt and into a life of saving and wealth building, we experience a personal recovery. Our giving increases and our churches benefit. Our spending increases and our communities benefit. It's an upward and positive cycle happening in towns all over this amazing nation.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night."
— Psalm 1:1–2

We tend to look to others for the answers. It's easy to ask, "What can I do?" and hope someone else will fix things. But, we're underestimating ourselves. One believer standing up, doing the right thing is like one lamp lit. The darkness around isn't quite as dark. Then another lamp is lit. And another. And another. All that light chases the darkness completely away.

It's kind of like that with this economy. One family inspires another family, and so on. Someone has to lead. Someone has to be the first to go against the grain of society and declare, "No, I don't want to do things the way everyone else does. I'm going to live like no one else." The Great Recovery can reverse the tide.

Debt is not one of life's pains we just have to live with. We don't have to accept that credit cards and car payments are a way of life. It's bondage! We can live differently, and we should. Faith is a funny thing. We don't always see a huge impact from our first steps. But those first steps mean everything. You've taken your first step by joining The Great Recovery."

I hope Dave doesn't mind that I shared his words with you here. Eli and I feel very strongly about this and are working to get ourselves out of debt. As of this past spring, we have only a mortgage and Eli's student loans until we are FREE! Praise God for His provision! We still have a lot of debt, but if we don't take care of our personal economies as directed in the Word, who will?

I hope you'll take a minute to consider joining The Great Recovery and making a difference in your community, one family at a time. It's not easy, but it's definitely worth it. To totally steal Dave's line, there's only one place to find Peace, and that's with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sweet Little Moo Cows

As luck would have it, Eli was not with us for Cow Appreciation Day on July 8. He was up in Anniston working for the National Guard. But, not one to let free food slip through my fingers (this really is a theme for my life), I decided to get us all dressed up and go to Chik-Fil-A. I asked Jill if she wanted to come with us, and she agreed. She's up for most anything, and I love that she's such a good sport!

I think what I am most proud of this year is that I did not spend a single dime on these costumes. Yes, I wanted to go to Hobby Lobby to get stuff, but I made it work without. (Mantra: getting out of debt getting out of debt getting out of debt)

For Elsie's costume, I got one of the little while undershirts that I bought her previously and used a Sharpie marker to draw the shapes of the spots and used craft markers to fill in the spots. I found a pair of too-short 12-month black pants and slapped them on her--instant capri pants.

For Oscar's, I got a long-sleeved onesie that he used to wear (size 6-9 months) and made it into a short-sleeved onesie (that still fit, mostly). Then I made spots on it the same way I did for Elsie's. I also found the cow print legwarmers that Elsie wore two years ago when she was 9 weeks old, and he wore those

Both children had liquid eyeliner on their noses (couldn't find my black acrylic paint and my artist neighbor was out of town). The adults had dark eye shadow on our noses.

Jill and I taped on spots cut out of black construction paper. They didn't stay on great, particularly with having to carry children around, but they were good enough. We both wore white shirts.

And then I made ears for everyone out of construction paper, too. For the girls, I punch holes and put hair elastics through each ear. We wore variations on pigtails and attached the ears to our piggies. Oscar got a head band with smaller ears. The old man behind the counter at CFA told us we had the most authentic ears he had seen all day. Score! So, now that you know our story, here are our pictures (courtesy of Jill, and some random woman who took a picture of all of us together):


11 Months of O

I'll continue to say this because it will continue to be true: wow, time is flying by!

I didn't do a 10-month update on Oscar because it was a busy time as we were getting prepared to have Eli back with us and getting ready to go on the Grand Beaver Tour. Sorry I let it lapse. So this is pretty much an update covering the span of two months, and a LOT can happen in two months.

For instance, when we last spoke exclusively of O, he had just finished cutting his bottom center teeth. While we were in Canada at the end of June, Oscar cut one of his top front teeth (his upper left), and the week later he cut the other one. Now my boy has a sweet little gap-toothed smile. (Sweet, except when he's trying out his new chompers on my knee, then it's a sharp gap-toothed smile.)

Also when we last visited O's development, he was just beginning to pull up. Yeah, that lasted all of ten minutes before we was a cruising machine, hanging on to furniture and making his way around the room. In the last week or two, he has been letting go of whatever he's holding onto and standing unassisted for around 10 seconds at a time. He also has started coming up behind me, grabbing onto my pant legs and walking with me as I walk..very slowly. He's going to be walking on his own very soon. Then the family dynamics and child-proofing shift! What did Eli say to me the other day, kinda' dumbfounded like? "We're going to have two toddlers." Yup. It's the end of the world as we know it, again.

As for food, I haven't been really consistent with solids, but he's starting to eat anything. Last week I made sweet potato fries, and he loved them. I wasn't sure if he would go for the whole lumpy texture, given his gagging history. Light night, Eli said he pretty much put away a whole spinach manicotti like it was nothing. He's eating animal crackers and gets all hyperventilate-y when he sees me with them and I'm not giving them to him fast enough.

Two connected things also happened in the last month: Oscar started sleeping "through the night" (aka, we let him cry himself back to sleep) and I weaned him. We had dropped down to only nursing at night when he woke up every 2-3 hours, and finally once he started eating solids better, I made the decision that this mama needed to get some decent sleep again soon. So, the weekend we got back from our trip, Eli went to B'ham to watch soccer with some friends and that night Mama slept. Since then, he wakes up about once a night and puts himself back to sleep. That is, until 5 a.m. Where he got this ludicrous time, I do not know. Pretty much since school has been out, he's been waking up earlier. Boo. Used to be I could put him in the swing in the morning and he would go back to sleep for an hour or so, but then he got too strong for the swing and was trying to lean forward out of it, burning up the motor and scaring his mother. So, we get up earlier than during the school year most days. Ugh.

Last night, however, Darth Vader woke up screaming at 2 a.m., so for the first time since he's been born, we had to use the NoseFrieda snotsucker to get him breathing through his nose again, where he could go back to sleep. He didn't hate it. He didn't like it, either. I'll take that any day.

Some cute pics of Oscar:

The Kleenex didn't have a chance:

In Cheerio heaven, little rascal:

Some cute sibling pics:

Coloring in the front hallway (book courtesy of Aunt Julie!):

Sharing a ride at Kroger yesterday:

Some other cute things about Oscar:

*He loves balls of all shapes and sizes. Want to get his attention and be his new best friend? Get a ball!

*He loves the cats, smiling whenever they are near and often chasing them to say hello. The other day he tried pulling Coco off the arm of the chair by Coco's tail, and had the claw marks on his face as evidence that Coco tried very hard to get some traction to get back on the couch to counteract the pulling.

*He plays with the little retro Chatter telephone like it's a car, pushing it around the floor like little boys do.

*He's incredibly sweet and will put his head on my shoulder to snuggle any time I pick him up.

*He loves to bounce, particularly as I put him on my hip and we go up the stairs. His little giggle just melts me.

*He's obsessed with opening and closing doors. If he sees a door open even just a little bit, that's an invitation for him to play with it. Any time the door to the backyard is open, he tries to make an escape. More recently, this is true to the inside door to the garage.

*His new nickname around the house is "Shredder." If it can be shredded, he's on the job. Kleenex, TP, tissue paper, newspaper, notebook paper, magazines--he does not discriminate. He does not, however, like the fact that dryer sheets are difficult to shred.

*He's got noggin issues, and it's not even that big! But he bumps it on everything, every table lip and low clearance objects that he encounters. Even funnier, he'll clear his head under the coffee table with ease, but then will try to sit up and hasn't cleared his body for sitting up right there, so he bangs the back of his head on the table. He is just beside himself when this happens. And at least two times a day, he smacks it on the floor (usually with a little assistance from Elsie). Poor kid.

*Playing at the water table, he doesn't seem to mind when Elsie pours water over his head. Now that's a good brother.

*He's obsessed with toilets, particularly the little caps that cover the screws that hold the toilet down. He loves taking them off and putting them back on. I discourage this behavior, but he has a big sister who opens doors, and again, when he sees an open door...

*He still uses one knee and the other foot to get around in a crawl, so the "knee" leg is rug-burned, dirty, etc. The only time he crawls differenly is when he's out on the patio and it's painful to drag his "knee" leg under him, so he gets up on two hands and two feet in a full-on bear crawl. It's so cute.

I can't believe he's almost ONE!! Sigh.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Library Bureaucrap

Forgive me this post. I'm just looking for a place to share my frustrations, and I might even delete it eventually. We'll see.

Today, I'm at the local library, taking the kids for story time. Wouldn't you know that O stayed put and listened to the story while E ran around like a crazy child? Not really surprised, are you? Two weeks ago (they were closed July 4) I inquired as to what it takes to apply for a library card, and the woman told me I needed picture ID and a utility bill or something that proved I live in the county. Oh, well, maybe next time. She mentioned I could bring my car registration, and I considered going to get it, but on this day I didn't park anywhere near the library, so I decided for sure to wait until next time.

Yesterday, I had a copy of my mortgage statement, but threw it away when I was cleaning up because all that stuff is online anyway. Today, I kicked myself for doing that because all the utility bills are in Eli's name. Boo. So I went to the library and fished through the glove compartment for the registration, and at a glance, my signature was on the bottom, so I grabbed it and went in.

After story time, I got Elsie busy coloring at a table while I made my way to the circulation desk to apply for a card, Oscar on my hip. The woman behind the desk asked if I needed help so I told her what I wanted and she said, okay, come on down here.

I thought I asked politely enough if I could just stay where I was, at the bottom of the U-shaped desk, and do the sign-up from 10 feet away so that I could keep an eye on my toddler (since this position was the only place at the circulation desk I could see her and they are very strict about supervising children--as well they should be). The woman, who is older than my mother, looked at me with a look of annoyance, took my license and registration and then rolled her eyes as she moved down the desk toward the computer. Yes. She did.

I decided to just grin and bear it, because what could I do? There are very few opportunities for me to go to the library (or anywhere) without children these days, so if they couldn't accommodate me in this way then I would probably not ever be a patron of this library. Besides, I didn't think it was an unreasonable request, was it?

After a minute, she comes back down the desk and looks at me. "It doesn't have your name on it." What? I was confused. I looked down in her hand and saw my name on it, so I pointed it out to her. Yes, she said, this is proof that you were the person to register the car because your signature is on it [believe me, she did a Sherlock Holmes-style comparison between my driver license and the signature on the car registration] but it doesn't have your name on it. It has his name. But not yours.

Please note that her delivery of this news was in no way friendly or helpful, not even very customer service-y. More, it was suspicious and accusatory, as if I was trying to pull one over on her, and it got my blood boiling. I just gave her a big fake smile and a used a high-pitched I'm-not-going-to-scream voice, and said, "Okay. Thanks." And walked away, grabbed my purse and diaper bag, and my toddler who was not very happy about leaving and we left, thanking the children's librarian for story time on our way out.

Two things that frustrate me about this situation.

1. The librarian at the desk was not very nice or helpful. I was pretty sure that librarianship (ism?) is a part of the service industry in the same way that teachers are, but maybe I'm wrong.
2. Bureaucracy sucks. I had car tags with Eli's name, our address, and my signature, and then I had a driver license with my name, our address, and my signature. Sherlock Holmes would have figured that out. Or at least suggested another piece of documentation that could be helpful. She didn't. (In my mind, I was asking flustered-like, "What do you need? A marriage certificate??, And you know, that would have been a reasonable request.)

Alas, next time I go, if I ever go again (because honestly it's a lot of work to get out of the house with two kids and then be treated like I'm somehow inconveniencing the librarian) I'll bring better paperwork. Unfortunately, my mortgage statements are quarterly, so it will be another three months, if then.

Yes, the not being able to get a card is my fault. But not being treated kindly by this woman was pretty low.

I went to Sonic to calm my nerves and E and I shared a Wacky Pack. All better, particularly now that I've blogged this. Okay, okay. I got a milkshake, too.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Little Miss Verve

Since Elsie turned two, I stopped keeping track of how old she is in months, and then wasn't doing updates here, either. So, I've decided that I'm going to keep on updating just on E once a month, here, on the 7th of every month (or really close to it). I'm backdating this blog to put it on July 7.

So, Elsie is a hoot. She is full on toddler. She very often seems to be a caricature of a toddler, she's that animated. I'm just going to list some vignettes of life with her as the meat of this update.

*We normally have oatmeal and fresh fruit for breakfast. This last week Elsie almost had a meltdown because she wanted "Manoni cheese!" for breakfast. It took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about. I just want to say that we've never had Macaroni and Cheese for breakfast, but that I might go to Kroger and invest in the Easy Mac bowls that are fifty cents each right now if you buy ten (normally $1 each).

*She's learning names really well. It's freaky what she's remembering, who she's remembering. She knows all the names of her friends at church.

*We read a book or two every night when putting her to bed. Dmitri the Astronaut is in the circulation right now. Never read it? That's because it's not very good, but she loves to point out the "as-roh-not" on every page, and then squeal at his little friend "Wuwu." (Elsie doesn't do the L sound right now.) There's also a picture of a man in his bathing trunks and she loves to point to him and yell, "Naked!"

*Her memory for books is increasing daily. She'll crawl up into the rocking chair with Goodnight Moon (which we've been reading nightly) and start reading it to herself. It's very amusing.

Sometimes I will find her with Baby Bear, Baby Bear, or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, saying "What do you see? I see...and then gibberish." One of those books (Polar Bear, Polar Bear or Panda Bear, Panda Bear) has a walrus in it, so no matter which book we're reading she frequently guesses WALRUS! excitedly.

*She likes to throw everything out of her crib so that she can use it as a bounce house of sorts. I went in her room the other morning and said, "What are you doing?" and response was "I jumpin the moon!" I laughed. In Goodnight Moon there is a picture of the cow jumping over the moon. She remembered and connected. Crazy!

*She's a pro at my iPhone. And that's not really a good thing. She figured out, through watching me do it only, how to press the home button and slide to unlock, so she turns on my phone regularly. She rearranges my icons and deletes apps. I couldn't find the "Phone" icon the other day because she moved it off of the bottom menu. Her favorite apps are "Dress Chica" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", with "Paint'N'Wash" coming in a close third. These are all free of course.

*Elsie loves to sing. The songs that come in her daily repertoire include "Jesus Loves Me," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and the alphabet song. At appropriate times, she'll bust out with the Clean-up Song from Barney (she learned that at church).

Here's an example of her artistry, until she got distracted by my phone:

*We've been hosting dinner at our house on Mondays this summer and so we end up with a lot of 2-liters. She is obsessive about carrying these bottles around, moving them from one location to the next. From the stairs to the bench and back. From the table in the kitchen to the table in the breakfast nook. And then she counts them...inaccurately, but still it's cute.

Relating to Oscar, she looks out for him and makes announcements to us. "Ah-kur sleep." "Ah-kur wake." "Ah-kur seepy." "Ah-kur crying." She also likes to tell him "It Ehsie turn" when he has something she wants. When he goes to bed, she says "Night night Ah-kur" and when he's doing something she doesn't like, she says, "No, Ah-kur--No! No! No!" When he wakes up screaming, she puts a hand to her ear and asks, "Hear Ah-kur?)

Developmentally, she's got all of her basic colors and shapes recognized and enjoys pointing them out. She knows a lot of animal sounds, and particularly likes the ones that say "Raaahhhrrr!" Often, out of nowhere she says, "Mama! Raaahhhrrr!" She's a pretty good communicator, but there's still a lot of things that she says with such meaning, and she'll repeat them if we ask her to, but we still have no idea what she's saying. We say, "Oh, okay." This might come back to bite us later, haha.

Potty training is right around the corner. In the next couple of months, if not sooner. That's all I can think of for now, but I know there's more. Lots more. She keeps us entertained.