Saturday, October 30, 2010

One Wild and Crazy Day

Or: How the Lord Taught Me Thankfulness

Our day began dark and early yesterday, when Ruth came into the bedroom reporting that she had thrown up, and Jeff was struck with a nauseousness of his own. Jeff was supposed to have a meeting in Austin, and the kids and I had a field trip planned to the same city. As it was still VERY early, we decided to sleep on it a while and decide whether to cancel these outings at a more reasonable hour. Jeff got up around 7:00 and decided that, while he wasn't feeling 100%, he would be able to make his meeting. And, he left for Austin around 7:30. Ruth hopped up around 7:15, not exactly hungry for breakfast, but swearing she felt worlds better. We decided we could still make our field trip, and we left the house around 9:00. (Much scheming had gone into trying to get us all to Austin in one vehicle, but alas, we just couldn't make it work). Ruth slept most of the way into Austin, and just as we pulled into a heavily trafficked construction zone on the edge of town, Ruth woke up reporting that she felt much better. Two minutes later, she knew with certainty that she did not and begged me to pull over. I managed to find a break in the orange construction barriers just in time, but I knew for sure that I couldn't expose the other kids on the field trip to her icky germs. I called Jeff around 10:30, just as his meeting was ending, and asked if he could possibly come get Ruth, so the boys could still enjoy the day. It turned out that he was only about 15 minutes away and was able to pick her up.

The boys and I enjoyed a performance at the Zach Scott Theatre about monarch butterfly migration, had a picnic lunch with our friends, and then headed over to the Texas Music Museum for an interactive program. We had a blast!

And, then, around 3:30, as we got ready to leave the museum, I realized that my keys were nowhere to be found. A quick trip to the parking lot revealed the keys sitting nicely on the console of my very locked vehicle.  Jeff (and his spare key) had long since left Austin, heading for my parents' house in Belton, and, of course, I have no spare key hidden outside the van like I should. I ran back inside to report my situation to the other moms on the field trip, and we all put our heads together to come up with a plan. One of the moms claimed to have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and recommended that I call Yellow Cab, because they are cheapest. I think she means for me to catch a cab, but then she explains that they have a locksmith service. I decided to call Jeff to see if he might have any words of wisdom for me. That's when I realized that my phone was seriously low on battery. Several precious minutes of battery life later, I reached Jeff and the Yellow Cab Company. The Yellow Cab people promised to send someone but didn't give any indication of how long it would be before that someone arrived. In the meantime, my boys and the other kids were getting a bit stir crazy in the parking lot. The other mommies happened to know that IHOP was serving free pancakes, and they offered to take all the kids over there while I waited for the locksmith.

About 30 minutes later, the locksmith arrived and got to work. He tried the driver's door first and was unsuccessful after several attempts. Then, he tried the back sliding door and was able to get it open. Immediately, the alarm started blaring. I asked if it would shut off, and he assured me it would. I then asked if it would come back on in increments until it was reset or something. He assured me it would shut off after a few minutes, and that would be the end of it. I paid the man, and then off he went to rescue some other damsel in distress. The alarm had gone off like he said, but when I put the key in the ignition, it started up all over again (with the locksmith nowhere in sight), and I began to freak out, thinking this was what was in store for me all the way to Belton (along with an arrest for an obviously stolen vehicle). Well, the alarm stopped after a few minutes and I was able to make it to IHOP to collect the boys. When I put the van in "Park," though, the alarm started up again, to my mortification. I left it unlocked and screaming in the parking lot and just went inside. The boys sat happily covered in syrup, and my friends insisted that I eat something as well. And, that's when I realized that I had tummy problems of my own. I choked down a few bites to be polite, but pleaded the need to get on the road in order to make it to Belton at any reasonable hour, as it was already 5:20 and Austin traffic is TERRIBLE at that time of day. One look at I35 confirmed this, and one of the moms suggested heading east toward the 130 toll road to avoid the intensity of rush hour on 35.

I was sure that my van would go berserk when we got close to it but was pleasantly surprised to find that the alarm problem had worked itself out. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that my friend's advice about getting out of town was golden.

So, around 6:40, I arrived at my parents' house, where my tummy troubles manifested themselves in earnest.  And I put myself to bed around 9:00. I'll spare you the gory details, but will tell you it was a very short night. If I wasn't up taking care of my own needs, I was attending to Ruth, who still had a few lingering issues, and Weston, who was screaming bloody murder because of an obviously very real nightmare.

But in all my ups and downs, as I thought back over the day, I couldn't muster up any anger or resentment about the crazy day. I was only able to see all the things I had to be thankful for:

  • A break in the construction at just the right time, and getting Ruth out of the van before she threw up.
  • Our best laid plans to be in Austin in one vehicle not working out.
  • Me needing Jeff just as his meeting was over, and his being so close to where we were. And, his being able to come and get Ruth and take her with him.
  • A fun day with my boys.
  • Having enough charge on my phone to make the phone calls I needed to make. 
  • A locksmith who could take a credit card.
  • Not being seriously financially burdened by having to pay someone to open the van.
  • Friends who helped out by watching my kids for me--and even making this little set back seem like a fun part of the day for my boys.
  • Free pancakes at IHOP.
  • The alarm taking care of itself.
  • An easier way out of Austin.
  • Making it safely to Belton before my tummy problems got serious.
  • A sweet husband.
  • Parents who pampered my kids and me.
  • Unlimited access to a washer and dryer, even in the middle of the night.
  • The psychological benefits of a small dose of children's Tylenol.
I'll be the first to admit that this is not my normal reaction to days like this, but I could just feel the Lord wrapping thankfulness around my heart and reminding me of all these little blessings throughout the crazy day (and night). And, for that, I am truly tankful indeed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mrs. March's Mothering Class

I recently read the unabridged version of Little Women. Of course, I read some version of this classic as a girl, as has every other American girl who has ever lived, I suppose. And, I have seen a sampling of movies depicting this beautiful story. Ah, but to read it as an adult, and as a mother! It is so different and all the more wonderful!

It is my understanding that Louisa May Alcott was never married and never had children of her own, but it is clear from this somewhat autobiographical story that she had the most excellent of examples of parenthood and family life modeled to her in her growing up. I was awed and inspired and challenged by Mrs. March's mothering of her blossoming daughters. I loved how she let each child make her own way, but how she was always there, loving and caring and ever-so-carefully steering her girls in the right direction. She was a woman who truly understood the unique position the Lord had given her within her family. She worked hard, she carried her burdens gracefully, she managed her household firmly but gently, she respected her husband, and most importantly, she recognized her inability to do any of this on her own. She pointed her children always to the Lord and encouraged them to seek His counsel even above hers. My heart was stirred within me as I read of Mrs. March's interactions with her girls, and as I really began to understand the character behind the character. This is the kind of mother I want to be.

Moms, I want to encourage you to read (or re-read) this book, if you get the chance. Yes, it is a coming-of-age story and a wonderful read for any young lady who is beginning to make her way in the the world. But, it is also an amazing and inspiring parenting resource.

I will leave you with just one of Mrs. March's golden nuggets of wisdom:

"My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning and may be many, but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, hopes, sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidently as you come to your mother."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In case you haven't heard...

...We are going to have a new baby!! I am just shy of the twelve-week mark, which means Baby #4 should be joining us sometime around the end of April or early in May. We are super-excited about this little addition (which currently happens to be about the size of a plum, in case you were wondering). Ruth and Weston immediately polarized on the boy/girl issue in favor of their own sides, and Max promptly suggested the name "Sassafrass," regardless of sex. We will not be finding out the sex before the big day this time around, so, sorry if you aren't one for the suspense. And whether you like the suspense or not, we hope you'll join us for the journey!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

(Weston) Wayne's World

On Tuesday, in Math class:

Jeff: Weston, what is the last day of the year?

Weston: December 1st.

Jeff: No, that is the first day of December, which is the last month of the year. What is the last day of December?

Weston: December Last.
Again, during Tuesday's Math class:

Jeff: If today were December 31, what would tomorrow be?

Weston: Wednesday
A story problem made up by Weston:
"If a fish had one finger, and the fish got another finger, how many fingers would the fish have?
--I'm saying "the fish" because I don't know if the fish is a boy or a girl--"
Another story problem by Weston:
"If Daddy had nine tigers, and he got nine more tigers, how many tigers would he have?
He would have 18 tigers. Wow, Dad, that is really a lot of tigers!"
Weston's favorite game:
"Build-A-Bed-Out-Of-Pillows." Seriously. He spends a lot of time building different configurations of beds and trying them out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Slab

We have found a new favorite place to hang out in the Highland Lakes area. Not far from us, just outside of Kingsland, is a place known simply as "The Slab." It is a natural rock outcropping surrounded by mostly shallow water and a lovely little beach. The water is just right for the kids to wade and play in, and we had a wonderful time there on this beautiful day! (Max is missing from the pictures, because he is spending the week in Pecos with his grandparents). I have a feeling this is a place we will be frequenting.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Two Months of School

I cannot believe that two months of school have already flown by. We have accomplished so much and have had such a good time!

Weston loves his new position as a student! He works hard every day and is so proud of himself. In these last two months, he has finished his 10 and 11 reading posters, and is half-way through his 12 poster. He has worked through the entire upper case alphabet and is currently working through the lower case letters. And he impresses us every day with his math skills. He can count to 100 by ones, twos, fives and tens, and he can get pretty far counting by threes and fours. He is also working on adding and subtracting, and he often asks when he can move on to multiplication!

Ruth is studying Chemistry this year and has really enjoyed all the science experiments. She also loves studying Latin and has quite an impressive vocabulary. She is writing longer and harder papers for Writing class--sometimes creative writing, in preparation for her PSIA competition in the spring, and sometimes factual report papers, following the MLA format. Ruth is studying Early Modern Times in History and has covered such topics as The Holy Roman Empire, The Protestant Rebellions, King James and the establishment of Jamestown in the New World, The Northwest Passage, Henry Hudson, Warlords of Japan, Colonies of the New World, The Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, The Spread of Slavery and the Tobacco Industry, and The Middle East. We have done some fun cooking projects, as well as some other neat projects. She is also rocking right along in Music, Math, Grammar and Spelling.

And, both kids are thoroughly enjoying their CC classes and are learning so much there. Plus, we've even gotten to go on a filed trip to the National Fish Hatchery at Inks Lake.

Scroll over the pictures to pause the slideshow and see the captions.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekend Review

We had a very fun weekend around here. On Friday night, we attended a small-town football game and had a blast. The kids were mainly interested in getting snacks from the concession stand, but also loved the mascot, cheerleaders and band. I'm not sure if they actually knew a football game was going on out on the field, but they did have a good time up in the stands.

We spent the day in Marble Falls on Saturday, with the main objective of celebrating Weston's completion of another reading poster. He chose to play miniature golf for his reward. Everyone definitely had their own style, but we had so much fun and can't wait to do it again soon!

This afternoon, it was Ruth's turn. She has been working on a reading goal of 50 AR points, which she met this week. She chose to go see the new movie Secretariat for her reading reward. But, since we didn't feel that our whole group was equal to the task of sitting still and quiet for two hours, we split up. Ruth and I enjoyed our girl time at the movie, while the boys played at the park and bought new cowboy boots.

Jeff and I are so proud of all our kiddos and were thankful to have this weekend to spend together!

Friday, October 08, 2010

This Child Will Self-Destruct

(And will certainly inflict much heartache on his mother as he does).

This morning, while I lazily and stubbornly remained in my bed, before I was fully aware of the going-ons of the world, I heard a sound: "Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!" My sleepy little mind tried to process the sound, but gained little traction on the mystery. Then I heard it again: "Thwack!" "Hmm," I thought, "that sounds sort of odd...Hold on a second. I think I know that sound. It sounds like a knife on a glass cutting board. I should probably get up and investigate." Assuming Ruth, who has a passable set of knife and cooking skills, was putting together a fancy breakfast, I groggily made my made my way to the kitchen. Suddenly, I was wide awake. For who did I find happily hacking up a banana with a small chef's knife but my crazy, completely unchaperoned youngest child. Since this child has been able to talk, he has started his day with this sentence: "I want my beckbis." I guess this morning he just decided to get it himself. Fortunately, no fingers were lost in the making of this breakfast.

The morning progressed, and this child went outside to play, while Weston and I made our way through reading class. We were lying on my bed, reading "Baby Bunny," when a small, whining figure appeared at the door. Based on the sound of his cry, I expected he had stumped his toe or bumped his head and just wanted some acknowledgement of his suffering before skipping off to resume his play. However, when I looked up from the book, I was greeted with a bloody hand and arm. My heart did a flip-flop before I scooped the child up and rushed him into the bathroom for further examination. I found that he had sliced almost half-way down his pinky finger with an obviously sharp object. When I finally got the bleeding slowed down and the wound bandaged up, I asked him to show me the knife, thinking back to my first image of the morning. A trail of blood began just outside my bedroom door, but in my haste I failed to follow it strictly and veered off tot he kitchen, where I could find no evidence of a recently used knife of any kind. That's when Max told me the knife was outside. Sure enough, the blood trail led right out the back door and across the patio to a chair which held a box cutter. What?! Technically, it wasn't a knife, so perhaps my lecture from the morning had hit its mark and this was just something else to be examined. The cut was not severe, though the bleeding was impressive.

And if that weren't enough, after lunch, while I was administering a Spelling test to Ruth, the boys were playing in the living room, where I was sure no sharp objects lurked. But when I finished the test and started gathering up boys for naps, I found that Max had a bloody cut on his little toe. No explanation was offered for this little mishap, though I did ask several times. He simply didn't know what happened, and he didn't seem to understand what I was so fired up about. But, he was thrilled with the addition of yet another bandage.

I better see if I can get an appointment with a stylist soon, because the gray hairs are definitely multiplying. I'm afraid this child will be the death of me (and of himself)!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday, October 02, 2010