Monday, September 15, 2014

Musing, mostly

Well, my lesson in Nursery went a lot better than last week.

I should say LESSONS, since they split the Nursery class up into two groups: the ones moving onto Sunbeams (they'll be 3 before January 1) and the ones who'll be in Nursery until Jan 2016 (or longer, I'd suppose. Haven't done the math).

I was able to keep the attention of all but two of the first class.
One boy and one girl ... are challenging. The girl was trying to stay under the table the whole time. Oy.

Then we gathered everyone together for snack time ... and I taught my lesson (abbreviated) again.
Not nearly as many kids (percentage-wise, that is) were totally with me ... but it was a lot better.

We've got a new Nursery leader ... one of the girls that I was friends with back when I was serving as YW Ward Camp Director and then as YW Secretary. I knew that she'd moved back into our ward. And, before Sacrament Meeting (thus, before they announced that she'd accepted the call and for us to sustain it), I thought to myself, "Well, we'll be losing our other Nursery leaders ... It'd be cool if we could get C called. ... But, well, maybe she needs to attend Sunday School and Relief Society. Hm. But it's a thought ... if they ask me." ... LO, AND BEHOLD ... Yeah, I'm excited that she's been called. I see us being a good team.

Do you recall me mentioning a friend who's sick ... and has been sick for a while?
Well, she's currently on life-support.
We're praying. If you want to throw in some prayers, good thoughts, good muju, whatever, ... well, I'd take that as a kindness.
She's got a family ... and they need her.

Bruise and Bucket have some school friends coming over today. Our families are friends. And, a few days a month, I'll watch their kids. It's pretty chill. (It's nice that they don't care that my house is NEVER as clean as I'd like it.) I made pudding for them today. Last time, we had brownies. That first time they came over, we had chips. ... Not totally healthy, but ... well... it's a snack.

Bruise, Bucket, Bubbles, and I are still going strong (knock on wood) with our before-school schedule. At least, the kids are getting up and dressed. I have their lunches made. they get SOME chores done (though Bucket has, lately, been either really tired and sleeping in OR trying to read books instead of getting ready/getting chores done). And (important part), we come to the table to listen to a hymn, read the scriptures that go with it (in our hymnals, there are scriptural references at the bottom of the page. Sometimes just one or two. Today's song, though, had FOUR.), and read the history about it and its author/composer. Then we say a prayer together. Then, IF we have time, we also read and discuss good manners.

At least this way I can start to feel that I'm sending my (older) kids out with some spiritual preparation ... and improving their social graces. My main goal for them is to help them to be self-sufficient and ready to make their way in this world. To do that, they need an education, their own testimony of the gospel, good manners, and good habits. Money (e.g., a nest egg) is good, too. But, well, they can make it regardless.

I've been feeling really tired. (No, not pregnant.) And rather useless.
(1) No matter how much I do clean, when I can work up the motivation, the house is always cluttered and messy.
(2) No matter what I try, I can't change the fact that my friend is sick. And has gotten worse. And I KNOW that praying is good and can make wonderful changes ... but, well, it's nice to have something a little more concrete with immediate effects, you know?
(3) When I do get a nap, I wake up feeling ... not refreshed or rested. But more with an attitude of, "well, I'd better get up. Things need to be done."

Things like that.

I had an interesting dream last night.
I don't recall all the particulars, but the main gist was that Michael wrote Weird Al Yankovic a letter ... and he came to visit us. And he stayed at the YMCA. But he came to church with us and my friend Jennie and I were passing notes. Then Michael, the kids, and I were walking through a park where there were tons of homeless guys sleeping under bushes and puking, since they all drank too much vodka or gin (it was clear, that's all I know).
But Weird Al Yankovic was VERY nice and funny ... and he KNEW me, like RECOGNIZED me from some past emails (that I've never written). But it was very sweet of dream-Michael to get a celebrity to come visit us.

So, yeah, if you want to try and decipher what my subconscious is trying to tell me, let me know.

So, last week, I was playing with Vesper as I changed her and got her ready for bed.
Michael was on the other couch. He just looked over and said, "You're off your period." All matter-of-fact and all.
"Yeah. how did you know?"
"You're happy."

... Well ... but I don't know that I totally FEEL happy.
I know that worrying doesn't really do anything. And Nursery DID go so much better this last week ... but, well ... I don't know.

I'm still acting as the Compassionate Service Leader for RS, though I've been released.
And maybe that's part of it. It is strange to be doing something when you don't have the calling (and the blessing of being sustained and set apart and all).
Not that there's a ton of things to be done ... but there are some things. Thankfully, someone else has volunteered to take over making sure that meals are taken to a gal who'll be having her baby any time.  We have a really wonderful ward family.

My cat still has issues ... she's been licking/scratching between her shoulderblades. Poor thing has a bald/semi-raw-looking patch. I've been treating it. Almost thinking of getting her an elizabethan collar (i.e., "the cone of shame).

There's a fly zooming around in here. I'm not a fan of that. At least I was able to terminate one of them. Ugh.

We went to the renaissance fair this weekend. Bucket got another little dragon (she has a rainbow sparkly one with glow-in-the-dark bits. Her new one is sparkly green with blue. Also glow-in-the-dark). Bubbles picked out a pink cloak. I got a sandalwood fan, some wonderful goats-milk lotion and soap (Lovespell scent). We also got some lavender lemonade after watching the joust. Bruise really wanted to get a new (wooden) shield and maybe a new sword and a cloak ... but nothing really stood out to him. I'll need to make him a cloak, since his sisters both have one now.
After that, we went to Mom and Dad's to celebrate Grandma's birthday.(She's 88 now. But just say that she's 49, okay?)

Earlier this week, Bruise and Bucket had a bicycle/scooter rodeo for a combined Cub Scouts/Activity Days ...activity. Bucket came home with a scraped knee (and ripped leggings). Bruise lost his LEGO water bottle AND his kerchief clip there. Oh well. He does need to take responsibility for taking better care of his stuff (and it's not like there isn't a water fountain where they were at ... so, oh-freaking-well).

Bubbles is talking a bit more. I ordered her a set of BrainQuest cards made for 2-3-year-olds. We go through them and talk about Max the monkey and what he's doing and all that. Pretty nice. I'll have to get the rest of them (We have first-fourth grades now. We've established quite a collection, haven't we?)

When Bubbles and I went to get the mail today, we got a postcard from my Grampy and my step-grandma. That's sweet for them to think of us. It sounds like they're having a great time in Oahu. (Apparently, Grampy hadn't been there since 1941. J last visited about ten years ago ... but she says that it's changed quite a lot since then.)

Well, I don't know of anything else really worth bringing up for right now ... I have about two hours before the kids all get home from school. I should fold laundry and sweep the kitchen (spilled rice yesterday) and clean a million things.

At least the kids' room is looking better ... last week, I finally just got fed up and bagged all the crap on the floor (besides clothes to be hung up). The kids can work their way through those bags ... and, in the meantime, the floor looks about a hundred times better. So, yeah.

And I'm thinking of instilling a rule for the next while, ONCE their room's clean, that for every toy on the floor, they go to bed one minute earlier. For every article of clothing on the floor, that's five minutes earlier that they're headed to bed. This way, they'll keep their toys put away, laundry will go where it belongs, and they'll just have to worry about shoes and books.
I hope.

We'll see.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

More Busy Than God Meant Me To Be ...

... which is a way of saying that I've been slacking (still) on praying and reading/pondering my Scriptures. Among other things.

Where did I last leave off ... my mom's birthday, that's right.

Okay, quick rundown:
  • Went to the last Summer Reading Program Activity for our library. A man ("Mr. Lizard") brought a lot of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids for the kids to learn about (and everyone who wanted to touch them could ... well, most of them). He was pretty funny.
    Bubbles sat with me (sometimes more patiently than other moments). 
  • I went to the first PTC (Parent-Teacher Committee?Council?) meeting. I'm now committed to being the secretary. I get to take notes, compile them, and email them to the school to be on the school's website.
    This means that I won't be able to make it to RS Meetings (what used to be called Enrichment/Homemaking), since those are at the same time. *sigh*
    But I'll be able to be involved in the school and be useful that way, right?
  • Michael and I finally got our date night ... we saw Guardians of the Galaxy. It was really fun.
  • We went to the Art and Air Festival.
    Bucket REALLY wanted her face painted, but it was getting so close to bedtime (where she'd just have to wash it off), that I wasn't looking forward to spending $10+ on that.
    I talked her into getting a glitter tattoo (She opted for a dolphin leaping over a wave in blue and green) while I caved (finally) and (finally) got a henna tattoo. It's almost all faded now, except for a little on my knuckles. It was really pretty, though. Worth wanting one for, oh, TWENTY YEARS. (Geez, I'm getting OLD, y'all.)
  • I accepted the call (and have been officially called/sustained/set apart) as one of the Ward Nursery Leaders. So, instead of going to Sunday School and Relief Society on Sundays, I'm helping to attempt to keep order and teach lessons to a group of 18-months-to-3-year-olds.
    There's a reason Sister Palmer, while raising her hand to sustain me in my calling, gave the Mockingjay salute and whistled Prim's theme.
    Let's face it, I NEED the odds to be "ever in my favor."
    I taught my first lesson a couple days ago.
    After church was done, I went to bed, ate some Pringles and drank a Cherry Fanta and NAPPED FOR TWO HOURS ... and didn't feel at all rested.
    I was told, when I was extended the call, that the goal is to have Nursery leaders in there for a year. ... I have a feeling it'll be a long year.
    Don't get me wrong, I like the kids fine (Though, there's usually at least 13 in there. That's a lot of little bodies and energy in a small space). And I really like the gals that I'm working with.
    But, oh, I've never wanted to be in Nursery. Partly because I suck at reading my scriptures and all on my own, so I NEED Sunday School and RS. And I am around a two-year-old on the daily ... so it's nice to have a two-hour break where I get adult interaction ... And, well, By the time Bubbles is four, I should have that again. I hope.
    Three more lessons this month. Then I'll get a break on that.
    If y'all don't mind saying some prayers, I'd appreciate it.
    Because, well, I could REALLY use the help.
    (As Michael says, I enjoy teaching older kids a bit more. Or even RS! ... Oh well. This will help me grow, right? ... Yeah.)
  • I had the opportunity to volunteer at the kids' school (stuffing folders) before school started. It was good to be useful. And then we went to the playdate ... we were late since I drove to the wrong park first. And, still, when we made it, no one was at the RIGHT park. We played anyways ... and another mom (from church) and her kids came. So it was just right. Since her oldest is in Sunday School with Bruise and Bucket.
  • We went to the kids' school's open house and met their teachers. I like them both very much.
    It really eased Bucket's nerves to know her teachers.
  • We took the kids to the zoo and OMSI for an end-of-the-summer blowout. We got to see the dinosaur exhibit before that ended. And, wow, there's been a LOT of new information about dinosaurs since I was in school. So it was a really good exhibit with LOTS of new info.
  • I spent a night at Roxy's, since we were having a sleepover. Mer was in the state for a visit and REALLY wanted a sleepover. So we stayed up WAY late, chatting with D on Skype, and crashed for the night. I drank a bottle of Martinelli's (sparkling apple-grape juice) while Mer and Rox had some wine (And, as D could tell you, I was just as loopy as the other girls. ... That's proof right there that I don't need alcohol/drugs to have a good time. Besides, I think that most liquor smells ... weird). Good times.
    Then, in the morning, Michael and the kids drove up. We -- Roxy, her girls, and Mer, along with our family -- went to the Japanese Gardens. Neither Roxy nor Mer had been before (nor had Bubbles). It was crowded, being Labor Day, but it was a nice trip. Then we went to a mall (also crowded) ... then, after lunch, and a little shopping, our family needed to head home since school started the next morning.
  • The kids had a good first day (and all subsequent days thus far) of Third Grade. One half of the day is done TOTALLY in Spanish. Their teacher (for Spanish) will talk slowly and with lots of repetition for now. She'll get them used to listening. By the end of the year, they'll be used to hearing regular-speed Spanish ... as well as replying to it, too.
  • I was cleaning the kitchen ... realized that the oven's heating element wasn't doing well. ... In fact, it broke. Had to order another one. Michael replaced it Saturday night, after we got home from visiting family.
  • Like I just mentioned, we went down to visit family. Saw my Nana (and Aunt I and Uncle M). Stayed the night with Dad and L. Gave Dad his birthday present. Also celebrated my stepdad's birthday with most of his kids and some friends and family. 
  • Which got us ready for church. I had my lesson to teach in Nursery. Michael had meetings before church ... and he was subbing for the Sunday School (Gospel Doctrine) teacher AND teaching a lesson in Elder's Quorum. Yeah, Sunday isn't really a day of rest all the time.
  • One of my friends (her son is in Bruise and Bucket's class ... and those three are all friends) needed someone to watch her kids for a bit a few days. Sometimes work schedules and school schedules are not getting along. So, maybe a couple days a week, her kids will come home with mine and play/hang out until she's off work.
    They came over yesterday and it all went quite well. I do, however, need to plan a snack after school. ^_^ It should be fun.
Tomorrow, Bruise and Bucket have a bicycle rodeo (Cub Scouts and Activity Day girls are teaming up for it) in  the evening.
I also have a WIC appointment in the morning.
My mom's coming for a visit (the house is MOSTLY clean, so that's good).
The kids get out an hour earlier (it's a district thing).

One of my friends is sick.
(And when I say "sick," I mean REALLY sick.)
I took over a dinner on Friday, before we headed out of town.
I hadn't seen her over the summer (She was away. Partly in a hospital).
When I saw her ... I almost didn't recognize her at all.
She'll be going to stay with family.
And I'm just really worried.
So, if you want to say some prayers for her (Heavenly Father knows who she is and what she'll need), I'd appreciate it. She needs to get better.

I'm starting to get back into doing my Rosetta Stone and Duolingo (added Irish to the Duolingo. Not that I can say much in it. However, the spelling is easier for that than for French).

I should close this up. I can't think of much more to write. And I need to do some housework. And study the scriptures (since that's all on me for the next year or so). And try not to worry too much about my friend. I need to have faith that things will work out ...

... And Bubbles just peed on the couch (Potty-training is so fun!! And training pants only hold so much.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paddleboats, Pinterest, Parenting, and Disappointment

It's been a busy last few (six) days.

I skipped the playdate last week ... Mom came up and we went out to McDonald's (the kids love it!) ... Bucket ate a salad instead of getting a kids' meal. Her choice. And they all loved playing at the PlayPlace.
We also went to Wal-Mart and got ice cream.

Thursday was a special bank day -- the kids get certain "dollars" for deposits into their savings account to buy some toys/things. And, once a year, there's a day that the toys are on a sale and all the kids who go to the bank get a goodie bag. ... And this was the first year we made it. Bruise got a light-wand (which Bubbles tripped while holding, so that didn't last too long) and a flashlight. Bucket got one of those little purses with a fake dog in it. Bubbles got a little white stuffed doggie and a light-up tambourine.

I also tried to be a good granddaughter and called my Nana. She really can't hear well over the phone, which is unfortunate ... but she did enjoy the fact that I called.

Friday, after we worked at cleaning up a bit, after Michael got home from work, we went to the local play-pool ... and played for a couple hours. Bruise and Bucket went down the huge waterslide a few times. Bubbles got to work on her swimming, since she wasn't wild about climbing on the kids' structure or the little waterslide.
Then she napped HARD at home ... about 4PM until about 10PM ... So we made sure she ate dinner. Then she and I watched cat videos on YouTube for about an hour and I put her back to bed for the night.

Saturday, we were pretty busy. Went to a few stores. Michael helped a family move in. Took the kids to the mall's kids' club (petting zoo, bubbles, painting, sidewalk chalk, and prizes this time. Bruise chose a Hot Wheels car. Bucket opted for little bracelets (which broke within an hour, really), and Bubbles got a little Winnie-the-Pooh puzzle). We took the kids to the paddleboats. Michael went with all three kids while I took pictures from the shore.
I was chatting with another gal. Who mentioned her father's name ... turns out she's the daughter of one of my stepdad's good friends from when my stepdad lived up here. So, we chatted about family (I went to the same ward as her younger brother) ... we're friends on Facebook now. She's a lovely person (I knew ABOUT her for years before we ran into each other. Everyone loves her. As they should).

Then we all went to Costco and to our ward (congregation) BBQ social.
We got home late ... the kids were in bed nearly two hours after their bedtime.
Michael and I watched an episode of Portlandia and soaked our feet.

Sunday started out pretty well. I didn't yell TERRIBLY much. *sigh*
But I also did totally lose track of time while checking my email then starting to read the lessons for Sunday School and Relief Society. Oops.
We were ALMOST late. We left twenty minutes later than I usually do ... but we were still there before the opening prayer. Which tells you how terminally early I am for church on a regular basis. Heh heh heh.

Monday, the missionaries (we have sisters in our ward right now) came over to do laundry. The kids and I had worked to keep the house clean. It worked. (Especially after all the work we did to clean the front rooms before my Visiting Teachers came over Sunday afternoon.)
Good times. We have three great sisters serving in our ward. And it's really nice for Bruise, Bucket, and Bubbles to develop friendships with them and to help serve them.

Mom called, telling me that it didn't look like she could come up this week ... which is doubly sad, since it'd be her birthday, too. So I called my Aunt J so she knew that the trip probably wasn't happening.

It's even sadder when your mom is trying not to cry over the phone. Poor mom. :(

Last night (being EARLY Tuesday morning, I wake up to the home phone ringing.
It's my stepdad. He's not speaking very clearly ... something about "hospital."

I'm awake and it's not even 2AM. I debate on what to do.
I call his cell phone, since he's obviously awake.
He tells me, slurring a little (he takes some strong meds), that he's fallen out of bed and has "broken his hip." Could I call Mom (in the bedroom next to his) and have her take him to the ER?
I tell him that I will. And that, if the paramedics DO end up coming, they'll have to break down a door, since he locks the doors.

So, I call Mom's cell ... she's asleep and doesn't answer (or her cell isn't in her bedroom ... they used to have working home phones, but my stepdad keeps saying that he'll fix the phone line ... and he hasn't. It's been a few months now).

So, I leave a voicemail on her phone, letting her know what's going on. And that I hope C hasn't really broken his hip. And that I hope it's really nothing, he gets back in bed, and she has a happy (relaxing) birthday.

I call HIS phone back ... which he doesn't answer ... which tells me that his hip is probably NOT broken, since you can't sleep through pain like that that quickly.

Well, about ten minutes later (I find out LATER), she checks on him ... and takes him to Emergency where he's adamant that he's broken his back. (He hasn't. Not even a fracture.) But the workers there couldn't understand him (slurring/garbled), but when Mom mentioned that he has been diagnosed with dementia, they're all, "Oh!! Yeah, that explains that. Since a fall off the bed wouldn't affect his speech like that."

So, Mom called at 6AM (probably when they got home from the ER) to explain and apologize. Apparently, he's done this to his kids. And he told Mom that she left him lying on the floor (screaming and calling) for hours. (Really, MAYBE 30 minutes. And he THINKS he's being loud, but is mumbling). So, yeah.

So, I had inspiration while in the shower. I called the local florist down there and had some flowers sent over for Mom's birthday. And then I helped do a loan (An Ecuadorian gal now has that last bit of funding to start growing soybeans and corn).

Took that kids to their last swim lesson. Bubbles and I swam for a little over an hour, too.

And now I'm tired.
And still a bit bummed for my mom.
But ... oh well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some food for thought

I found a link to this article via a Facebook group that I've joined (Discussions on LDS Doctrine) ... and I found it interesting/enlightening/comforting:

Suicide: Some Things We Do Know, and Some Things We Do Not - Elder M. Russell Ballard (The Ensign, October 1987):

In this article, Elder Ballad talks with compassion of what has been revealed to us, modern prophetic counsel, and the knowledge that we have not yet received.

As I posted yesterday, the Gospel gives me hope.
I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows us better than we know ourselves.
He knows each of us by name. He knows our trials. He knows our potential. He understands us.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we all have hope. We have the ability to repent and to progress toward becoming more like Him and our Heavenly Parents.

Suicide is not a good thing. It's ending a life, stopping one's progress.
But, sometimes one's journey has gotten to the point where it seems the only possible option.
Heavenly Father will take that into account.

But we would all rather that, if you're at the end of your rope, you survive.
Get help. Talk to someone. Check into the hospital.

You may think that it's the most merciful act left to you, to protect/ease your family and friends.
It isn't.
They will suffer, too. Even more. Because they'll worry for you more. They'll blame themselves for not being aware/able to stop it.
Every second longer you stay here is another second that they have with you. And that time is precious. It's another opportunity for them to express their love, another opportunity for them to help.

And, if you're around people that are not helping, please, please call someone.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or IMALIVE chatline are available 24/7.

Because you (yes, YOU) are precious.
You are strong.
And, even though it is hard now, we do believe in you.
Please give us the opportunity to try to help. To ease your burdens. To drown out your demons with our love for you.

We're all in this life together.
If we fail to help you, we are all the weaker for it.
It's better to be strong together.

And, even if one's life is ended (through accident, murder, or suicide), we can have hope through Christ's Atonement. Things will be made right. It won't always be easy. But things WILL get better. We will have JOY. But we have to muddle through, somehow.

And it's better to muddle through together, to share our strength and love and humor.

So ... yeah. If you're reading this, I just want you to KNOW some things:

  • You are special. No one can replace you.
  • You are loved. It might not always feel like it, but be assured that you are.
  • You are important. You ARE brave enough, strong enough, smart enough.
  • The world is a better place for your existence here.
  • Depression is treatable. Suicidal thoughts aren't the only fix. People want to help.
Just, please, remember those things. Terrible times will not and cannot last forever.

And it might be selfish of ME to ask you to survive just a little longer ... but it's because I care.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

And then I disappear for a month ...

I do have some excuses ... sinus infection ... then an ear infection bad enough to send me to the doctor's (twice!) ... but I keep meaning to post something ... and then I don't.

So, what's happened for the past month (and a half)?

Well, forefront on my mind is the fact that Robin Williams has passed ... it seems that he committed suicide.
And ... it makes me so morose.
Michael stated, "It makes no logical sense for him to be depressed." (Since he was a comedian and such a wonderful person, working to help others to smile, you see.)

Whereas, I differ in opinion ... I think that only someone well-versed in sorrow would appreciate laughter as much as Robin Williams did. And part of me wonders, "If only ..."
If only he had Home Teachers or just a friend who saw/sensed past his cheerful facade ...
If only we didn't make mental health such a forbidden/"shameful" topic ...
If only ...

But, as sad as this is, I do know that we have a loving and merciful Heavenly Father.
He knows all ... and will take this knowledge and understanding into account.

And the Church Handbook of Instructions (vol 2) says this:
"It is wrong to take a life, including one’s own. However, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts. Only God can judge such a matter." (21.4.14)

Which, in comparison to some religious tenets (e.g., all suicides are damned), gives me hope. A lot of hope for this poor man who lost his joy.

My heart hurts for how sad he must have been, how alone he felt, to decide that not living was his best possible choice.
And my heart hurts for his family and friends ... and all of us who love and respect him.
(Yes, even myself.)

Things like this make me wonder what else I could/should be doing to help people around me ... people that I might actually have contact with ... to be aware that someone cares, that they matter, that there is help, that they are loved and valued and that things (no matter how dark it seems presently) WILL get better ... and that people WANT to help.

I'm powerless in some situations (like never having even MET Mr. Williams, so it's not like I could just call him up and invite him over for cheesecake or something) ... but there has to be something that I'm not aware of that I CAN do.

Even if it's just to hug my kids a little bit longer/tighter.
Or to smile at a stranger.

There has to be something.


Okay, that's probably enough introspection. If I continue on like that, you'll start to wonder who that is and what they've done with the regular shallow-ish, often sarcastic, weirdo that you've come to know and (I can hope) love.

So, what all have we done since I last posted? 
(A lot)
(Too much. I'll sum up.)
  • The kids had fun with their soccer academy ... late evenings for us all. But they learned a lot and developed some good skills.
    Their head coach had an accent. Maybe Scottish? And he'd call them "cheeky monkeys."
    Bucket was (80% of the time) the only girl. Usually there were maybe four kids, so they all got a lot of one-on-one coaching.
    Bucket has a good instinct for strategy. Bruise is fearless and doesn't hesitate in going after the ball.
    Bubbles really likes vending machines.
  • Whereas most Cub Scouts activities have been put on hiatus for the summer, Bucket still has Activity Days (which she loves). 
  • Bruise had Day Camp (Cub Scouts) ... during the week where I had my ear infection. So, I didn't help carpool or anything. In fact, a couple days, people came to our place to pick him up and drop him off. I felt like a goober, being so helpless ... but I really do appreciate the service that people were eager to extend. (I love my ward family. They're awesome.)
    He had a great time. I'm glad that he was able to go.
  • We've been feeding our missionaries more often. (Doesn't hurt that they come over on P-day to do laundry.) It's nice to know them so well. We chat a lot and make jokes and have fun. And I'm getting better and better at making vegetarian dishes (One of the sisters here can't digest meat. The sister she "replaced" couldn't eat meat or gluten. The one before her with food restrictions was gluten-intolerant ... It's been interesting, but has helped me learn some fun dishes ... or helped me realize some dishes that I make on a semi-regular basis that work for all these things.)
    It's nice that I have a standing future-plans date for AT LEAST one of these sisters to come back and visit ... and we'll have a movie night. I like things to look forward to.
  • The kids had their dental work done. Bucket's front tooth has a filling to replace the part that chipped. (We had tried gluing it. By "we," I mean the dentist. It lasted maybe four hours. ... This should last around a decade or more, if she takes care of it.) Bruise had a filling.
  • The kids have had private swimming lessons with Bob. He's our favorite swim coach. The kids have made progress. I don't know if they're ready yet to swim in the deep end, but they're doing so much better than at the start of the summer. And, since we have punch cards now, we have an excuse to go to the pool every so often, right?
  • My Roxy-sis came down to spend the day a few weeks ago.
    (The day after Bucket sprained her toe ... Well, it's what you get if you run in the house and smash it against the couch AFTER your mom and dad BOTH tell you to STOP RUNNING IN THE HOUSE.) After taping up Bucket's toe, we took Auntie Roxy to lunch (Thai food, yum) and then downtown to look around. We went to the tea shop and then to the carousel museum. Then we went back to the house to cool down (it was crazy-hot).
  • We've done some fun things with the town's summer passport kids' program. We tie-dyed (Bruise did a big scarf/cape. Bucket did an infinity scarf. I did a bag for Bubbles ... and "fixed" a pair of her leggings that had gotten stained.) We also went to a pizza dinner.
  • I got Freyja-cat some medicine (kitty Prozac and flea treatment). Good stuff.
  • We went to a movie at the park ... It was fun to see The LEGO Movie again on a big screen. We also liked watching so many bats flittering and soaring above us.
  • We cleaned the church one weekend.
  • I shared some Shanna Swendson books with a friend.
  • We saw a local production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."
  • The kids got to go to a friend's baptism.
  • Michael and Bruise went camping with Uncle C (Michael's brother), Cousin C, and Dad C ... they had lots of fun at a lakeside campground. C (Uncle) was the only one to catch a fish ... and that one was maybe four inches long.
    The big excitement was when Bruise reached out too far while Dad C was appreciating nature (and wasn't paying attention to Bruise for that ONE second), and their canoe went over in the middle of the lake.
    Everyone was fine. (Uncle) C found it hilarious. Dad and Bruise were wet, but safe. Dad swam the canoe to shore. Bruise got a ride back with C and C in the other canoe. Michael was there at the shore for them (He had been at the campsite, but felt that something was wrong and raced back to the lake just in time to watch the canoe tip over.)
  • While all that was going on, Bucket, Bubbles, and I spent the night at Grandma (Mom C)'s for a girls-night-in. Aunt A (my sister-in-law-in-law, since we married brothers, you see) and her girls B and I and H all came, too. (A had to leave early since she had to work, though).
    My girls and I helped Mom C bake cookies. After the other girls came, they all colored plates for a Pinterest project (Spoiler: It didn't quite work). We ate dinner, painted our nails, watched Penelope (Which Bucket impressed me ... she described it about five minutes in as "It's like Beauty and the Beast, but the girl's the beast." ... And she's really right.)
    Bubbles fell asleep, so I took her to bed (where she kicked me about once an hour and rolled off the bed once) while the other girls watched The Neverending Story.
    I also flooded Grandma's (Great-grandma's) bathroom. I flushed the toilet and water just KEPT COMING. And I couldn't find the spigot to turn it off. So I lean out the bathroom door and call out, "MOM?? I need HELP."  ... She thought that I had somehow managed to hurt myself. No, not this time. But she turned off the water, I got a plunger from another bathroom, and we got things mopped up and taken care of. (NO, GUYS. It was JUST PEE.) She assured me that that toilet randomly does that.
    We baked a tie-dye cake in the morning. Turned out pretty well.
  • By the time we all got home, Michael and I were pretty bushed. We got the kids showered/bathed and fed. We got ourselves showered (and Michael got a haircut). We ate dinner, got the kids into bed, and went to bed early.
  • Bruise and Bucket have both given talks in Primary at church.
  • We went to the bank today to put the contents of the kids' piggy banks into their accounts.
  • I've done some Visiting Teaching ... in fact, I've done my August VT already (the formal visits/contacts) ... so I just need to keep in touch so that I can be aware of any needs. Phew.
And that really brings us up to today.

I could tell you all about my ear infection. I can mostly hear out of my left ear. It's just muffled/clogged-feeling. But I ended up on Vicodin, ear drops, and oral antibiotics. When I do something, I don't do it halfway, do I?

The kids and I are reading through the "About Animals" volume of Childcraft. (We've done The Plant Kingdom earlier this summer, then Princess Academy.)

I had a couple weeks where I read books ... it was really nice. I should start that back up.

I finally got my accounts (through FamilySearch) to MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and
Kind of obsess with Loving my membership with it.

Bubbles is talking lots more. "Amma's ouse"/("Grandma's House") is a new one. As well as "Iggy Ank"/("Piggy bank"). It's pretty cute.
She also has been sucking her thumb WAY too much ... the skin was starting to slough off ... so we've been putting some ointment on it. It's looking much better.

And I think that's most things. Hopefully.

If I've forgotten something, maybe someone will remind me. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

It's been WEEKS already?? Whoops!

Whoops! It's been ... almost a whole month since I last let you know that ... I'm alive and all.
My abject apologies.

Where did I leave off? June 12th?

Okay ... here's the recap:

  • I donated blood. And I can take a little pride in the fact that I'm a FAST bleeder. Yeah, go me, right?
    Michael took off from work early so that he could make it to the blood drive, too.
    At first, he was going to swing by and pick up the kids, take them home, and I'd come home asap so he could run back to the church and donate blood.
    We decided to take a risk and have him stay. The kids would ride home with him, in his pretty work truck (He finally got it! And it's PRETTY. Everyone's all, "Oh! You got a new truck!" and we have to correct them that, no, it's not really OURS; it belongs to his office, but he gets to drive it around. (I do not get to drive it around. Which really does not break my heart too much. It's HUGE. Even with the back-up camera, I'm nervous enough driving as is.)
    The kids were getting terribly ansty ... so, once I made sure that I wasn't going to have a drop in blood pressure (where I get all clammy and pass out. It's happened before. Fun times. NOT.), I schlepped them home with VERY STRONG PHRASING of how I expect them to behave. Michael got home a bit later. 
  • Also, Bruise earned his Wolf Badge and his Gold Arrow Point for Scouting. And I've gotten those badges (and his badge for the pinewood derby) sewn onto his shirt. The embroidery hoop I bought at Hobby Lobby made this SO FLIPPING MUCH EASIER.
  • My mom spent the night a few weeks ago. Michael and I had a Stake Temple trip that we wanted to attend. We got to do an endowment session and then a chapel session (I love those chapel meetings. They make me happy. It's great to get insights from the Temple President).
  • We've started our town's "Passport Program" for the summer (Kids get a "passport" and they can earn a stamp at each participating business/attraction [like a wetland park or a historic site]). Most things are downtown, but some are out a bit [e.g., the mill]. And each stamp is an entry into a drawing at the end of the summer). It's fun. 
  • Then we had Fathers' Day ... I got Michael a shaving stuff kit. The kids (with my mom's help) got him bags of snacks (decorated with construction-paper ties) and a framed picture of them (they decorated the frame) for display at work. We also had a BBQ over at Michael's folks' place.
  • Then we had the last week of school -- there was an assembly, which the kids barely let me know about (they were recognized for good behavior and good attendance -- earned themselves each a school t-shirt!), and a "fun day" at school, which had Bruise return home with a slight sunburn across his nose (Whoops, bad mom, forgetting sunscreen!).
  • Bucket chipped a tooth (front, yes, it's a permanent tooth), playing peek-a-boo before Activity Days. It'll get fixed (permanently, mostly) on this coming Friday.
  • We took the kids to the mill for a picnic (and a tour). They had fun grinding wheat. We were quite spoiled by our tour guide. We even got to feed ducks, chickens, and turkeys at the end.
  • The missionaries for our ward (sisters missionaries) spent a day over here so they could get their laundry done. It was pretty fun. One of them is, for all purposes, my long-lost little sister ... if I had a little sister into K-Pop that I was ever aware of. We have fun together.
  • The kids had a six-month dental check-up. Bucket needs to go back and get her tooth chip fix. Bruise has a small cavity (we need to work on flossing better). Bubbles HATES having anyone put their hands in her mouth ... but she's looking good!
  • We've been trying to make it to most of the ward playdates (a gal at church created a little schedule for the summer. And it's been fun. Bruise and Bucket are the oldest kids going, but since we're meeting at parks or a splash pad, they have a good time, too).
  • Our Summer Reading Program featured a storytime by a recently-retired children's librarian that we LOVE (and have desperately missed). It was lots of fun.
  • We headed down to visit my side of the family. We stopped by Michael's work and then a children's museum (he dropped us off, since I'm not allowed to drive the work truck ... and he had an errand to run) and then headed down to visit my Dad and L, then my Nana (and uncle and aunt that she's living with), and Mom and C.
  • Then back for church on Sunday.
  • The kids played outside Monday morning. I needed to run to the store (where, in line, I noticed something in Bucket's hair ... lice. AGAIN).
    Turns out that both the older kids had head lice. We treated it and haven't seen ANYTHING since.
    So I'm totally a fan of LiceFreee! ... Yeah, I'm a convert. Saw it randomly at Wal-Mart when I was getting stuff the LAST time the kids had lice. Didn't use it then ... but tried it this time (since it was what I had on hand). It's gentler on the kids' heads; you can use/redo it as often as you like; the lice don't evolve an immunity to it; and it smells PRETTY DANG GOOD (like anise/black licorice).
  • Since it's been nearly a week without seeing a single louse or egg, I'm STARTING to get over the psychosomatic itching. STARTING to.
  • Bruise and Bucket started swimming lessons with Bob, their absolute favorite instructor. This is the first time that we're doing private swimming lessons. There was noticeable improvement just in their first lesson. I'm eager to see how they improve from this next lesson.
And, well, that should get us just about all caught up.
Michael reported to me that our new(er) vacuum has stopped working. Boo on that. Good thing we hadn't gotten rid of our older vacuum (wedding present from my Nana), so the house looks really nice.

I'm still working on my Rosetta Stone (Spanish), Memrise and Duolingo (Spanish, German, and French). Michael tells me that I should practice my French on folks in the ward (congregation) ... and Iwas slightly incredulous/sarcastic.
"What, you think I should go up to someone and be all, 'He is eating a black apple.', ;You are big and strong.' ... They're going to be all, 'Are you calling me fat?'"

But, I'll admit that my German skills are getting better (that Dative case, though. It's my nemesis) and I'm getting much better at reading/writing in Spanish and French. I still leave TONS of room for improvement, but I'm growing.

Bubbles is using her words a lot more. Which is nice.
She's also throwing EPIC, screaming tantrums. And biting. Both of which I will not be at all sorry when she gets over these stepping stones to big-kid-dom.
We need to get back into practice for potty-training. Wish me luck on that.

Michael and my tablets are now upgraded to Android KitKat.
We had to replace some of out shortcuts on the screen ... besides that, it's quite nice.
And my phone FREAKED ME OUT this morning ... couldn't recognize the SD card.
Just had to restart and it was all fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiine.
Thank goodness.

And we upgraded our phone account a bit ... we now have Caller ID on our landline, which is VERY nice.
Now I can avoid scammers and all those surveys. And I can return people's calls easily when they call that number.
AND our internet is about 4 times faster. Yaaaaaaas, I like that. A lot.
(Sure made downloading the KitKat update [619 MB] a LOT faster.)

We had a nice Independence Day. It was low-key. We hung around town, went for a walk through the wetlands park (saw a garter snake, lots of bullfrogs, a blue heron, some turtles, tons of ducks and ducklings, bunches of dragonflies, a couple caterpillars, a cute spider [white with pink spots, laying in wait on a Queen Anne's lace] ... good times. Then we went home, ate burgers, watched Thor:The Dark World (the kids hadn't seen it), and, eventually did some small fireworks in the street.

Bruise and Bucket are working their way through their second-grade level workbooks ... and I have third-grade level ones (and fourth-grade ones) waiting, so they'll be ready and prepared for school in ... another eight weeks.

This month is starting to get really busy -- soccer lessons (2x/wk), swim lessons (1/wk), park playdates (1/wk), and the passport program and the Summer Reading Program activities ... and I'd like to head out to the zoo and aquarium and OMSI and places.
And I need to get Bruce working a bit more on his other arrow points, if he wants to earn them!
And we can do some activities for Bruise and Bucket's Faith in God booklets.

And I SHOULD be finishing all my library books and all the housework.
Oh well.

But, overall, things are going pretty well.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another week gone by ...

So, where did we last leave off?

Okay, Friday was Michael's birthday. It was a quiet celebration.
We went out to dinner with the kids (Thai food, yummm).
(It was a little busy at the restaurant. And we thought we had ordered a Pad Thai for Bubbles AND Bucket each ... so, when meals came out, Bruise didn't have a plate. And he started to cry.
So, I had to take what WAS his plate from Bubbles ... and she was horribly cranky [as is wont for a two-year-old] and started a tantrum at NOT getting a pretty Fiestaware plate ... so Bucket volunteered to have HER serving on an appetizer plate ... and peace was restored again. Thankfully.)
Michael's folks dropped by a birthday card (with a gift card -- Date night!). My mom got him some button-up shirts. I got him the latest Barker and Llewellyn novel (just came out a couple weeks ago). My dad and L sent him a birthday card.
Saturday, we took the kids to the Home Depot Kids' thing -- and they made little wooden riding lawnmowers. They even got to paint them ... even Bubbles. And she and I bought some more plants (a rosemary for outside and a couple aloes to share a pot inside).
Then we walked around the Farmers' Market. The kids bought honey sticks. And we went home ... where Michael spent the rest of the weekend sick as a dog. Poor guy.
I was going to go out solo to the new Hobby Lobby ... but I didn't want to shuffle ALL the kids on him if he's feeling poorly. (And THAT is an understatement. He was horribly ill.)
Sunday, he wasn't feeling well enough to go to church. I was substituting in Nursery for a friend. Bubbles was QUITE out of sorts. By the end of church, I really was ready for a break (Sundays lately have had the schedule of: church, make the kids lunch, Michael naps on the couch while Bubbles takes a nap, the kids go out to play, and Mommy has some quiet, alone time in the bedroom. ... I did NOT get my fortress of solitude. I read on the bed next to Michael as he coughed and dozed and ran for the bathroom, poor guy. That virus was a fierce one.)
(Did Bubbles throw up on Friday or Saturday night? I can't recall. It's all flowed together ...)
Monday, Michael was still not doing well enough to go to work.
Mom C came and picked up Bubbles for the day, since I was helping to chaperone Bruise and Bucket's field trip on the coast.
We ended up giving a lift to R and her son, T. (We LOVE their family. And it was lovely to get a chance to chat with her. She's really one of the nicest people ever. And that is NOT an exaggeration at all.) They were catching the bus back home, so it was fine ... since we were going to head straight from the coast to Mom C's to fetch Bubbles.
It was a good thing that we chose to drive. One of the buses broke down just out of our town ... so it was about a half hour later than the other buses. Of course, the buses were all off to a later start. Somehow, instead of receiving 500 breakfasts for the students (the school provides free breakfasts for all students), they only got 200. They tried to see if they could get the other 300 ... which took a while. It ended up that they just split what they had among all the students on the bus.
At first, I was a little worried ... would I have enough time to get my group (I had five kids in my care: Bruise, Bucket, two girls and another boy) through everything at the aquarium before we needed to take them back to the bus (and sign out my kids so we could get Bubbles).
I should not have worried. The two hours I ended up with was sufficient. A little rushed at parts, but sufficient. We missed the otter feeding; it was so very crowded that we couldn't see anything, so we hit the touch pool instead. The kids got to play for 20 minutes or more at the play area ... and we headed back through the other way, since the kids really liked seeing the sharks. We went and played at the touch pool a little more (Bucket FINALLY faced her fears and touched just about everything. She's liked touching the sea anemones and sea stars in the past ... she finally also touched a sea cucumber and a sea urchin. YES!). Then, instead of going to the other indoor play area (it's a fish market), we HAD to get to a bathroom for the kids.
I had been warned that one student might pull some attitude with me ... I didn't have a problem with him at all. A couple fist bumps and some praise on good answers/excellent vocabulary choices ... it was all fine.
However, one of the two girls got her heart set on going to the gift shop to get a present for her mom ... but in all the paperwork sent home, it was stated that we were to AVOID the gift shop. The principal, herself, reiterated that we shouldn't go.
And, since I said no ... and her teacher said no ... well, this girl was rather pouty about it.
And so she'd run ahead of us and hide (seriously, if I start showing more grey hairs, I know why) or lag behind and hide. It was ... hella annoying. But not something that I couldn't really handle.
In fact, Bucket took it upon herself (since this IS her friend) to try and keep up with her, so that, at least, I'd see Bucket standing around and know that A-girl was next to her.
That other girl? Yeah, I'm glad that both Bruce and Bucket asked for her to be in their group. I really like her.
So, yeah, I had a healthy lunch and a LOT of Cherry Coke to get through the day.
And Michael got some good rest ... so he could head back to work Tuesday.
Tuesday was mostly quiet. Bubbles and I headed out to Hobby Lobby and Fred Meyer. I found more of the Dry Sodas there (I've now tried 7/11 flavors. I just need to find Ginger, Wild Lime, Juniper Berry, and Apple ... I think that Lavender and Blood Orange are my favorites. Their Cherry one is pretty good, too.)
Michael finally got something he's been waiting about six months for ... a company vehicle.
It's really pretty. And his commute gas is paid for (we get taxed for it) ... it's really nice.
So, we need to clean up the blue truck so we can sell that.
The kids are pretty excited about it ... though we had to STRONGLY IMPRESS UPON THEM that this truck is really NOT ours. Daddy gets to use it. We have to take really good care of it. But it belongs to WORK, NOT us.
He already got to use it to help a friend take some furniture to Goodwill. And we picked up bucket from Activity Days in it.
The kids and I got up EARLY yesterday so we could drive Michael down to work in the van ... so he could get the blue truck back up here. ... So, the kids have been a bit grouchy and lacking focus (especially when it comes to cleaning *sigh*). So, this weekend, we'll be cleaning up the truck and getting it listed on Craigslist. This way Michael will have the money to buy company stocks that are coming available (and that his boss would like him to own).
The front rooms are a lot cleaner now. I still need to clean the kitchen. And I'm donating blood this (late) afternoon.
I finally got a shower today (yesterday it didn't happen. I collapsed into a two-hour nap instead).
I've been working on my Duolingo and Memrise ... and Rosetta Stone. I still don't really feel like I know Spanish at all ... but I'm almost caught up on where I had left off in German in Duolingo. So, well, that's something, right? And I'm digging how the Memrise (being like flashcards) is helping me to learn how Spanish words are spelled ... those crazy accent marks and eñe ... 

But, yup, that's most of what's going on around here. We have some things going on this weekend (like readying a truck for sale) ... next week will be a little busy, since it's the kids' last week of school (FINALLY) ... so, well, I should get ready for that, shouldn't I?

Counting ...

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