Thursday, September 26, 2013

Family Updates

I’ve got a lot on my mind, so I thought I’d give y’all an update:

Katelyn:  13 in 10 days!  I cannot believe that my first baby is going to be 13.  I’m ready J  I think she is, too.  Kate is a wonderful young lady who loves the Lord, loves her church and her school, and loves her family. She is doing great meeting the challenges of transitioning into high school, loves all of her teachers and gets along with most everyone. She is enjoying singing in the youth and school choirs and using her talent for the Lord.  She bares a lot of responsibility on her shoulders as the oldest and the only girl, as well as the sibling of an autistic child, and she is learning to bare it with grace ;)  I lean on her a lot and I’m very proud of her.  I love our time together on the ride home from school when she “downloads” to me.  Precious times.

Tyler:  Tomorrow Tyler will finish his first quarter at Pieceful Solutions and will receive a much deserved (for the teachers!) two week break.  I am so overwhelmed by the changes that this transition has made, not just in Tyler, but changes that have affected the whole family which I’ll talk more about in a minute.  I think one of the biggest things is that I faced the fact that there is not going to be a “cure”.  I think we all hoped that going to this school would suddenly make everything all better.  And while we have seen a lot of improvement, and others have noticed a lot of improvement, Tyler can still be very difficult to manage.  Just sit by us in church sometime if you’re not convinced.  But, on the plus side, Tyler is much more active, much healthier as he is eating more food (not becoming less picky, more of a compromise between him and I), much more interactive with people, having lots more experiences (cooking, computers, music, karate, yoga, field trips) and being held accountable for his actions.  This last one isn’t at all fun and I struggle with it because, well, it’s work!  Yeah, it really is.  I feel like I’m in a battle every.single.minute.  But the results are worth it.  I hope.  I haven’t exactly seen them all yet…I have a parent/teacher conference tomorrow, so I’m interested to see what his teachers will say.  One of the greatest things is when Tyler gets in the car with me after school and he talks to me on the drive to GCA and tells me all about school.  I love that he is interacting and creating relationships with people.  My one constant concern is his spiritual life.  Please continue to help us pray.  Thanks J

Jason:   Finishing up his fifth week of Kindergarten!  He is doing fantastic.  Jason loves accomplishment, so he loves to show me his papers and tell me what he’s learned.  He seems to be fitting right in, making and strengthening friendships.  Last Friday he stood on the platform with the Elementary choir for the first time, but sources tell me that he didn’t sing one word.  He does know the song, though, because he and Katelyn sang it for my mom for her birthday J  And yes, I hated to miss that.

Justin:  The one who is probably most affected by the recent changes.  Unlike his siblings, who are all in school while I am at work, he has had to be placed into the care of someone else and notices that Mom is gone.  He cried the first couple of days when Jim handed him over to Sis Doreen, and told me several times that he wasn’t going over there anymore.  He stopped doing that by the second week and does well now, except he cried yesterday.  She said he stops crying as soon as they drive away and he seems to enjoy being with her.  They do preschool, go to the library for storytime, he takes his nap.  They come back to GCA when school is over and I pick him up while I’m getting Katelyn and Jason, so he’s only with her for 7 hours.  It works out good.  Also, funny:  Since going to Sis Doreen’s Justin has become completely potty trained, he is only on the paci at bedtime, and, truly a miracle---he is no longer scared at church!!! 

YES!!  I truly believe God healed him.  I prayed a lot about that situation and Jim and Katelyn both said that they prayed about it.  Just last week, Justin declared that he wanted to go to church.  I was holding him and he got a little agitated when the music started.  Pastor Garrett started to sing whatever old song it was.  Justin looked at him like he didn’t quite trust him for a minute or two, then seemed to decide it was okay, and literally, got over it.  He’s been fine since and declares every service that he’s going to church now.  He didn’t even want to go to nursery with me Sunday night when I was working.  I was nervous about how he would react Sunday night to the loud choir music.  Jim said he was fine and actually clapped during one song.  When I asked Justin about it later he said “yeah, I clap now!”  Thank you, Jesus!

I am seeing a bit of acting out from Justin, but we’re just trying to be firm and loving.  I have been asked multiple times if we are going to put Justin into K4 next year.  The answer is:  I don’t know.  We’ll see what next year brings.  For now, we are very happy with Sis Doreen.

So, of course, the big change is that I am working now.  I am finishing my third week working at a community college on the East Valley, about ten miles from Tyler’s school.  I can truly say that God put me here.  It’s a wonderful environment, with the flexibility that I need.  I am currently working part-time, only during Tyler’s school hours.  Tyler and I leave at the same time that Jim leaves to take the other kids to GCA.  I drop Tyler off and go to work.  I leave work, pick him up, we travel to GCA and are there to get the other kids when they get out of school.  We head home and I can make dinner and all that good stuff.  I can definitely tell that I’m not home to do the “extras”-we haven’t had homebaked goods in weeks!-but we are keeping up on the laundry, dishes, cooking dinner, trying to keep the place picked up.  It’s working.  Also, because of the way the office is set up, should I ever need to work full-time, I can see the possibility in the future of being able to swing it due to the openness to telecommuting.  I feel like God is positioning me for success.  I am so thankful.

So.  I’m working.  Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to believe.  When I walked out of the office at GCA on March 10, 2008, I had absolutely no intention of ever working again.  I had finally achieved my goal of being a stay-at-home mom.  This was what I was meant to do.  I would be home with my kids, I would be available for my kids as they got into their school years and teen years, and I looked forward to volunteering, being involved in the church and school, and helping with my grandkids when the time came.  I thought  many times “Thank God I’m not working out in the world anymore.”  I have been very vocal about my feelings that every mom should try their best to stay home with their children.  (Let me interject here so say that if I have ever hurt your feelings, I’m truly sorry. Please accept that.)

Have I changed my mind now that I’m back to work?  No.  Not one bit.  I still truly believe that the absolute best place for a mom to be is at home with their children, and I believe that every family should try as hard as possible to make that happen.  No question about it.  Young couples, start from the beginning of your marriage positioning yourself so that Mom can stay home with the kids.

We tried very hard to find a way for me to not have to work.  For months Jim would tell me “No, just wait.”  He was as committed as I was about me staying home.  If you’ve been a long time reader, you remember me saying that my working was not an option because Justin was still at home.  But we very quickly realized that, if we wanted Tyler to be able to attend Pieceful Solutions, which we felt would have long range benefits not just for Tyler but for our entire family unit, that we, as a family, would have to make some sacrifices in other areas.  $1000 a month for gas was not acceptable.

When that realization came that I would need to work, the weight of pain on my spirit was crushing.  I did the only thing I knew to do; I went to the Lord in prayer.  I spent many prayer sessions pouring my heart out to the Lord, crying and asking God to make a way for me to not have to work.  Finally I was able to surrender to the Lord.  I asked God for very specific things regarding my going back to work.  And he answered every one of them.

 And I was so thankful when He dropped a name into my heart to watch Justin.  We picked a godly lady in our church who just recently quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom and just needed a little extra income.  I am thrilled with our choice and know that God’s hand is in it.

I have some other thoughts and feelings about my going back to work that I don’t want to post here, but feel free to ask me if you want to.  Just know that if I could be home, I would, but God gave me the next best thing.

So, that’s our update.  Oh, wait!!!  I forgot to tell you:  I got a car!  Yes, we traded in our van for a Chevy Cruze.  It’s a little car that gets about 33 MPGs, so we should see a big gas savings.  The kids can all fit in it for the 13 miles from GCA to home once a day.  If we all need to travel together, then we use Jim’s Expedition.  It’s very weird driving a car again, but I love it.  I got a red one.  I’ve always wanted a red car J

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Student of the Week

Jason's Kindergarten class has a tradition in which the "Student of the Week" gets to take "Judah" home for the weekend.  Judah is a huge stuffed dog.  He comes with a special backpack full of books and a coloring book.  The student has to bring everything back on Monday so that Judah can go home with a new student on Friday.

Sis Aldridge forgot to award Judah at the end of school Friday, so Janessa caught me when I went to go pick up Katelyn from youth service.  She said that Sis Aldridge wanted Jason to have Judah this weekend, but she forgot to send him home.  She went into the classroom and got Judah for me to take home.

Jason was already asleep when I got home, so Katelyn sat Judah on Jason's bed for him to see in the morning.  Jason says that he did see Judah when he woke up, but he didn't bring him down or say anything to us for awhile.  When he finally did bring Judah down, he was full of smiles and happiness that he was the chosen student.

Judah is also enjoying his time with us.  Turns out, he likes coffee.

Congratulations, Jason.  I'm very proud of you!

Monday, September 2, 2013

This Habit is a Keeper

We have entered into a new and very busy stage of life for us:  four kids attending three different schools (we're calling Justin's sitter "preschool"), Dad working full-time (that's not a change) and Mom working part-time during school hours (HUGE change!).

Even though I don't start my new job until next Monday, when school started last week I immediately felt the stress level kick up and my need for organization and routine kick in.

Now, while I absolutely hate to clean, I love routine and organization.  I thrive on things being just so and running like a well-oiled machine.  These are my sanity savers, and with four kids, you gotta have them.

Some are obvious, like meal plan.  Duh.  By the way, when packing six lunches, it's super necessary to menu plan those too.  Otherwise you run out of food four days before payday/grocery day.  Ask me how I know.  Feel free to check out my Pinterest board where I have a Lunch Ideas for the Kids board  that I pin good tips that I find.  I actually read these pins, too, and update as necessary, so there's some good stuff there.

Others are not so obvious.  Like this one:

Yes, this is a boring picture of two hampers sitting in the middle of my hallway.

See, we all know that laundry must get done.  But often it's a "oh no, I need my PE shirt today, hurray, rush" kinda thing.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I did not buy my kids five uniforms this year.  Katelyn has two, Jason has three.  So we know by counting that uniforms have to be washed on Tuesday night.  No exceptions.

Tuesday night is also church.

<Insert scream here>

We have approximately 1.5 hours to get home and get ready for church.  No one has time to be searching for dirty clothes, etc, etc.

So, last week, I set out these two hampers on Monday night and declared that all school related clothing that must be washed in order to be worn before our big washing session on Saturday must be put into it's appropriate hamper that night.  All socks, undershirts, etc that get thrown everywhere except into the hamper was located and sorted.

Then, when we got home Tuesday afternoon, everyone immediately changed, put their dirty uniforms from that day into the baskets, and one basket was thrown into the washer.  This took five minutes tops to do.  When the load was done, the loads were immediately switched, and the first load of clothes was dry before we left for church so that we had time to quickly hang up wrinkle-able stuff.  The second load dried while we were at church.  It worked beautifully and everyone had the clean clothes they needed to get through the rest of the week.

The hampers are out again tonight, even though we didn't have school.  I'm trying to establish a good habit so I don't want to mess with it.

This habit is definitely a keeper.