Friday, August 29, 2008

A Taste of the Good Life

You know when you've experienced the best of the best, it becomes difficult to settle for less? Kind of like eating the store-brand of Pop Tarts. This pretty much summarizes my transition back into the working world. Like a store brand "toaster pastry" you can certainly choke one down if you have to but it would definitely not be your first choice. Especially not when you've been able to eat all you can care to eat of the real thing for the last year.

This is not to say that this past week has been bad. Everyone has gotten where they need to be on time, most have adjusted to being back to school and work without complaint and we are actually eating better because meals are being planned in advance instead of waiting until late afternoon to decide "what's for dinner?" The main reason for the physical success of our transition has been that everyone has stepped up.

Alex is completely independent and needs no prodding or even a wake up call to get to class on time or complete his homework. He handles his own money and the purchasing of school supplies and books without a reminder. He is motivated and disciplined to make his education priority 1.

Zack has taken on the important role of chauffeur. He gets Caroline to and from school each day and picks Maria up from extended day at her school so she doesn't have to stay more than an hour or so. He has even begun taking our neighbor to school two mornings a week. This has been a huge help.

Caroline has stepped in to take care of Maria when neither Mom or Dad are home in the late afternoon. She'll get Maria in and out of the tub (I don't even want to know why she is so dirty every day after school) and then they'll usually settle in for a little bit of the Disney channel while Caroline gets her homework started.

And then there's our family All-Star...Don. He has stepped up in a way that most men never would. He has taken on...drum roll shopping and Sam's club. I know you are jealous. And he's done this in pure Don fashion. With organization and a spread sheet. Yup. Our grocery list is now organized by aisle to make shopping as quick and efficient as possible. I just have to plan the meals and make the list. Then *poof*! I come home to a kitchen full of groceries.

Don has also Don the majority of the dishes when he's home and even "took one for the team" by allowing our smelly dog into his pristine car for a ride to the vet. Y'all, if you only knew how much Don deplores the smell of dog and the trail of dog hair.

Don is truly a servant-leader in action. If it weren't for him I think you'd find me rolled up into the fetal position, rocking back and forth, back and forth. Instead I even have a few minutes to blog. I am a blessed woman.

So you may be asking yourself "what's all the whining about in that first paragraph?" Because everyone's doing MY job. Truth be told (even though I may have played the martyr at times) I found great satisfaction in meeting every one of my families' needs. Now they're doing just fine or even better without my help. Ok, maybe it is a pride issue.

I also enjoyed being with my girls 24/7 and being in complete control of our schedule. We could do what we wanted and come and go as we pleased. We played...a lot. Now it's work/school, dinner/dishes, homework/bedtime. Every. Single. Day. The ironic thing is that my girls are really happy and routine is good. It just seems I've had to say goodbye to one of the best years of my mommy career. And goodbyes are difficult.

This is not to say that our new "normal" is so bad or that it wasn't time to rejoin the real world. Maybe it's good that everyone share the load for a change. Maybe we'll really appreciate the hours that we share together every day.

Simply stated: Maybe we're all growing up.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

When good eggs go bad...

We awoke Sunday morning to a more relaxed pace than the rest of this week. Even Saturday saw Caroline and I leaving the house before 7:30 a.m. for a conference at church. But on Sunday no one even opened their eyes until a few minutes after 7:00. By 7:30 it was time to start getting up and getting ready for Sunday school with plenty of time for leisurely showers and unrushed breakfasts. So when Maria asked for eggs for breakfast I was happy to oblige.

Before I continue I should probably tell you that I think eggs are disgusting. Once and a while I will take a bite if it's smothered with cheese. Other than that I obstain from egg consumption. And the idea of cooking and smelling eggs first thing in the morning is equally unappealing. Maria however, LOVES egg. In order to meet her dietary requests and not gag in process I've begun cooking her scrambled eggs in the microwave. Quick, easy, and relatively odor free. It's worked really well. For months. Until today.

Half way through the cooking process (about 1 minute and a half) we heard a horrendous explosion. Maria and I both stopped, looked at each other, and ran to the microwave where we discovered this...

Can I get an OMG from y'all?

Since I had the time to clean it up, I was able to laugh at the absurdity of the exploded mess. Maria found it harder to find the humor in the situation since she was now foregoing her "cheesey eggs" for a bowl of cold Rice Krispies. Once I took the picture it became a little funnier to her as well.

As I cleaned up the egg shrapnel I kept thinking to myself, "Thank you Lord that this hadn't happened on a week morning." I think that would have pushed me right over the proverbial edge.

Don and I took turns cleaning it up in between getting ready (now at a rushed pace). Apparently it smelled really bad too. Mercifully, I've had a cold all week and couldn't smell it. Caroline would pull her shirt over her nose every time she entered the kitchen. Don turned on the exhaust fan on the stovetop. Maria thought is smelled delightful. Go figure.

Maria and I did managed to make it to Sunday school only a few minutes late (Don and Caroline bailed on us left early since Don was teaching this morning). I was actually pretty proud of myself for not freaking out. What good would that do, right?

Simply stated: No use crying over exploded eggs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First day of work...

Simply stated: too tired to blog.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Maria's First Day of School

Here she is. Our precious girl on her first day of school (Maria would add "ever in my whole life!")
Here she is in the classroom. She loves the shelf with all of the books.

Last night at bedtime Maria was getting a little nervous about school. So we came up with this little reminder. On her right hand is a heart to remind her that she is always in Mommy's heart and that I love her. On the left hand is a cross. This reminds her that Jesus gives her the power to be brave (thank you vacation Bible school for this slogan!)

When I left her in her classroom she got a little teary for just a second. I left quickly and she seemed fine. I know she'll have a great day.

The house is mucho quiet this morning. I've got tons to do before I start my job tomorrow so I'd better not fritter it away on my blog.

Simply stated: Nothing like sending your fourth child to kindergarten to make a girl feel old.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Guest Blogger

Since many of you are far more interested in hearing about Caroline's first day of school than from me, I've asked her to be my guest blogger. Welcome Caroline...

Hey! My first day of school was pretty good. First period was History. I hate History. I'm just not good at memorizing all those facts, but I think my teacher will make it pretty fun. I have Art next and one of my best friends is in that same class. I have Choir with another one of my friends and I think that will be good too. Bibical World View (or Bible for short) will be really fun! Then, lunch- The best part of the day. Why? I get to talk with my friends, of course! Lunch was followed by English and Pre-Algebra. Those are my favorite subjects and my favorite teachers. My english teachers has a shy side to her but she can be really outgoing at times. My math teacher reminds me of my Fourth grade teacher. She is really cool, too. I don't know how to describe her but she is pretty awesome! Then, science (I HATE Science for the same reason I hate History). The teachers name is Ms. Wade. She is one of those teachers that acts like she doesn't want to be there. Exampe:
Ms. Wade: "Is this 7th period?" (the last period of the day)
Class: "Yes"
Ms. Wade "Oh, thank goodness.(SIGH)"
And for some reason she talks REALLY loud! Now halfway through science my nose itched so I rubbed it and I looked at my finger and there was blood on it! I rasied my hand and told Ms. Wade that my nose was bleeding. She let me go to the bathroom. I was on my way to the nurses office (and I wasn't sure where it was) when the middleschool principal walks out of her office. She asks what was wrong I told her I had a nose bleed. She asks me if I was going to the nurses offices and I said yes. I asked her where it was and she said it was in the elementary. So she came to the bathroom with me and help me clean it up. Then, I headed back to Science. I also had a headache at this time so I was really ready to go home. My locker was also a mess. Originally, I was going to stay a couple minutes after school to put paper and dividers in my binders and get more organized. But I wanted to go home and there were too many people in the middle school TRAILER!!! Yup, no permanent building. So I headed up to the highschool where I finally found Zack and we headed out to the car. We went to staples and I now have all the things for my binders so I can get organized tomorrow!

All in all I had a very good day. The good outweighed the bad and I think I am looking forward to tomorrow. (Except, I have P.E.! :( ) -Caroline

Simply Stated: There you have it.

A Tale of Two First Days

School started back today for both Zak and Caroline.

While Caroline was busy reviewing her schedule and packing her backpack, Zak was putting the finishing touches on the newly painted rims on his jeep.

While Caroline and I checked and re-checked her school supply list to make sure we had purchased everything, Zak took my charge card and handled back-to-school shopping on his own this year.

Caroline was nervous about the day. Zak could best be desribed as ambivalent.

Zak drove himself to school and parked in the lot reserved for seniors while Caroline nervously exited the comforts of my car as the new kid at the middle school.

Now I wait at home to hear about their experiences, praying that God will meet each of them today.

Simply stated: It's way too quiet here.

It all started innocently enough

I was just going to vacuum the threshold to Zak's room. After all, it does directly intersect with my parts of the house. Just a few feet, I reminded myself. No one would have to know about it. But there it was. Just a little further inside the room. Taunting me. One of those plastic thingamabobbers that affixes the tags on to new clothing. Once I saw it there, I just couldn't leave it. That would be wrong.

Call it a compulsion but I just had to vacuum it up. This of course led to another piece of lint and another, and a trail of fruit snack wrappers and a few errant socks. Before I knew it I had picked up and vacuumed his entire room!

What is wrong with me I ask you? only gets worse, friends.

Because, then I...dusted. I couldn't help it. Do you hear my cry for help?

Then I sewed a button on a pair of his shorts and started packing his lunch for his first day of school.

At least Zak appreciated my efforts. He arrived home talking on his cell phone. I walked into his room, made a sweeping gesture with my arms, and mouthed the words "do you see how clean your room is?" I got a thumbs up. Next I presented him with the newly buttonized pair of shorts. He mouthed the words "thank you" accompanied by a big grin.

I don't know. Maybe I was absent the day God handed out common sense and boundaries. Maybe I'm just that much of a control freak. Or quite possibly, I just like doing nice things for my teens who are needing me less and less every day. What's done is done.

Oh, and Alex, I'm coming your way next.

Simply stated: Somethings never change.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just when you thought you couldn't love someone more...

IT happens. The perfect blend of timing, activity, and attitudes. With it comes an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. It doesn't happen often and can never be recreated. It is precious.

It happened for Caroline and I this past Thursday and Friday as we celebrated her entrance into middle school and adolescence with a special trip to Branson, Missouri. We talked, laughed, shopped, had pedicures, saw a show, ate at fun restaurants, hugged, talked, and laughed some more. It was totally indulgent but it was also an investment in our relationship and in her future.
We were diligent as well to complete her Passport to Purity. While the conversations were not always easy or comfortable it was so worthwhile. At times I would have preferred to shut our workbooks and turn off the CD in favor of more shopping. But we stayed the course and I'm so glad that we did.
Here are a few pictures of our trip:

Working on one of our projects.

Midnight snack.

My sweet girl on deck of the Branson Belle.

Celebration dinner on the Showboat Branson Belle.

As a result of our time together, I feel that Caroline is better equipped to face the challenges that await her. I, on the other hand, am more in love with my sweet girl. I saw glimpses into the young woman that God has destined her to be and it is a thing of beauty.

On Wednesday Caroline will return to school after being home with me for the past year. She is ready and I know that she will blossom. I will miss her terribly. If I could I would sit with each of her teachers and the staff at LRCA and I would tell them the following:

I'm sending my heart to sit in your class each day. It comes in the form of a precious 12-year-old girl. Please do not take the responsibility of educating her lightly. She is coming to your school with a sense of excitement and carefree expectancy. Please make sure she stays that way. I'm trusting you to look out for her best interest while she is in your care. You will be blessed to have her in your class.

And one more thing. If you hurt her I will hunt you down and take you out. Just kidding. Actually, I'm not.

Simpy stated: I am blessed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Doo..New Job

Today started with a trip to the salon (a.k.a. my friend Charla) for a new haircut. One of these days I'll need to write any entire post about Charla's salon. Let's just say I lower the average age of the clientele by about half each time I go. Makes me feel like a kid again.

Here's the new doo. A bit shorter than I wanted it but definitely the shape I was going for.

Armed with all of the confidence that a sassy new haircut brings, I headed to my job interview. And...drum roll please...I got the job. Yay me!

I've got two weeks to get all of our ducks in a row.

Simply stated: Gotta go!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I surrender!

The yellow jackets can have the little pool. I just sprayed myself in the eye with wasp and hornet spray trying to once again rid the pool of bees. I killed six in the process but I value my eyesight far more than a dip in the pool.

Simply stated: Waving the proverbial white flag.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Can you smell it?

It's the scent of change. And it's in the wind.

Our summer of late mornings and lazy afternoons will soon be replaced by the routine of school and work...for everyone. Including me. I'm not sure where I'll be working but I know it will be a daily weekday occurrence.

And, (speaking in a whisper) I think I'm starting to get a little excited about the possibility. Is that really awful? I've been "just a mom" for so long now, I've begun to forget about the capable professional that I once was.

Don't get me wrong. I have Loved (note the capital "L") every minute of being home with my children these past five years that we've lived in Little Rock. This past year of intentionally sowing into the lives of both Caroline and Maria has been precious beyond words. A gift. A luxury. A blessing.

But I've also missed working. It seems that both finances and my need to not spend countless hours at home vacuuming while waiting to pick up the children from school are steering me in a new direction. Surprisingly, what started as a need to work to make ends meet has involved into something more. It's hard to put into words the emotion that the possibility has stirred within me. Excitement...anticipation...potential...fear...all rolled into a big ball of "I think I want this."

So, I have a job interview on Tuesday for an Office Representative position with an established Christian counseling clinic. It sounds like something I'd really like to do with potential for ministering to hurting people. It's also a full-time job which would result in a lot of change for our family. But if we've learned anything in the past 10 years or so, it's that change can be good.

There are also some other possibilities floating out there which could bring about the dreaded need to make a choice. None of the options are perfect. Perfect doesn't exist. If the choices present themselves the way I think they might I will need to weigh the needs and wants of our family, our finance, my fulfillment. Not an easy task I tell you. Not easy at all.

Simply stated: We'll just have to wait and see what happens.