Monday, June 30, 2008

We are Home ....

Whew! We did it! Ten nights of vacation bible school, including both of our "home" churches - here in Indiana and in Illinois.

Once again, Whitney (and Mark) graciously hosted us so the kids could get together with their old friends and so could I. I fully realize we are a lot of work and that six kids can be difficult to navigate through the week with bathing, meals, and bedtime. Did I mention all four girls - ages 8,7,6 and 3 - slept in one room? And that the two boys are virtual twins at 5 years old?

Yet, it all went so smoothly. I guess that's just the way it goes when you feel like you're at home. Both at church and at their house, that's just the way it feels. What a complete blessing it is to have places and friends that make it feel as though you've never left.

A few people asked me where "home" is this week. That one is tough to answer. For us - it is not just one place. Milwaukee will always be homelike because of where we started. That is where we met, lived, and bought our first home. The city, food, and people are all pretty spectacular. I still get the chills driving toward the lake and seeing the skyline.

Morton, too, will always be home because of the kids. Three kids were born there and I have "sisters" there. Lifelong relations will continue with that town because of who is there.

Fort Wayne is home too. I didn't know if and when I would ever call it that, but I definitely can. Thanks to a handful of great neighbors, an active church, and two friends who have brought us into the fold, we are very plugged in. I missed it while we were gone.

In some good heart to heart chats with friends this week, I realized how several times, Monte and I have come through something difficult - only to make it to the other side - more fortunate for the experience. It has never been easy to leave a "home" - we have always shed tears and mourned the loss of our comfort zones. And ... at times we have envied those who live their entire lived in a single town. Yet - I can honestly say - we have been the better for each - each and every time. Home is where we happen to be - because as long as I have my husband, my kids, my cell phone, and a car with GPS that can get me to Illinois, Wisconsin, or Indiana - I'm happy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Exploding Volcanos

It has been a great summer week - filled with trips to the pool, casual meals outside, lots of time spent with friends and a week of vacation bible school at our church. All the kids could go this year and enjoyed the science theme immensely. Tonight is ending ceremonies with a moon bounce, a crew from our local children's museum, pony rides, etc.

Today they took their volcanos and made them erupt with vinegar and baking soda. I am pretty sure they used all the ingredients in both containers but ... it was worth it to see them take a project and complete it - without any adult supervision (OK - so I watched through the window) or initiation.

We leave Sunday for ANOTHER week of VBS - this time in Morton at our "other" church. We are doing the same theme but are anxious to see how much fun we will have on our old turf with friends we haven't seen in a while.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!!!

Despite my occasional rantings, I am married to a really good guy. His strengths are many - but his greatest asset is the fact that he is such a good dad.

He is really hands on. He knows all the kids' teacher's names, shoe sizes, and birthday (even when I mix them up). He can tell you what percentile they are for height and weight, what their T-ball coaches' names are, and what to get them at Dunkin Donuts (no - they don't like the same thing). He willingly and regulary takes all three kids to any and all destinations without stress or complaint. I love that about him. Particularly because some of that information is lost on me - and many husbands that I know strategically plan to only take one or two at a time somewhere.

Today, the kids and I had the best intentions. We planned to do breakfast in bed then a day of relaxation. Well, so far - Claire has flooded the kitchen ceiling due to some "splashing" in our tub, the curtain rods need to be hung in two different rooms (which requires a stud finder and some fancy measuring) and of course, mudding and taping going on in the fifth bedroom downstairs.

No complaints from him though. He has THAT kind of personality. Proof that opposites do attract.

I do plan to take him to our friend's house for dinner though. No preparation or grilling required on his part. It won't make up for all the goings-on for the next crazy eight weeks, but hopefully it will remind him we are thankful for the type of Dad and husband he is.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grayson Wants a Page Too!

I just knew this would happen. Grayson saw my last post and he "wants one too." I guess he's worthy. Here you go buddy.

This is probably my favorite picture of Grayson taken in a while. Disney is not quite enough excitement for him - he has to climb the trees too. That pretty much sums it up. This is a HUGE summer for him. He just turned five, gets to chew gum, is ready to ride a bike with no training wheels, and has turned into a pool aficionado (I can't wait until Emma reads this and asks what this is). He just did his first week of day camp and loved it. He was totally ready for 8 hour days in 90 degree heat doing really cool outdoor stuff. He never once complained. Well, except when he realized it was over.

He also wrote all of his own thank you notes (that's why they were a month late), makes his own bed, and pours his own cereal. He's the first one asleep and the first one up -always with a smile of his face and an "I love you mom." He's a force of nature. I just love him to pieces.

He's pretty darn excited about this baby boy and the chance to teach him all the cool things boys can do. He just told me today what is on his list:

1. Chewing gum.

2. Stair sledding (see old post for video sure to make you wince)

3. Riding a 2 wheel scooter.

I'm excited for them as well. Every night this week my heart has melted as I eavesdrop on the girls' room as Emma reads Claire a book. The boys will have their own relationship and we can't wait to see it. All I can think right now is - Grayson will be a tough act to follow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She's Growing Up Too Fast ........

We've settled into a pretty great summer routine. I've discovered it is an amazingly easy summer with the kids being 7, 5, and 3. I know, chaos is about to reign again but for now, I am just trying to be "zen" in the moment. Actually, a few friends of mine have inspired me to make some cool changes in our household and we are seeing the benefits already - but I'm planning a post on that for later .....

Right now, the biggest changes I am enjoying are those brought on by my youngest. Claire is now 3 1/2 and really beginning to show her true colors. In fact, for some reason, that old Cyndi Lauper song has always been one of my favorites and I have always thought of her when I heard it. I never really understood why - but God knew to plant that seed in my heart. Now I know.

She has always been the most laid back, the least likely to state her opinion, the slowest to warm to new situations, and the least excited to leave the house. She has always entertained herself with the least amount of prompting and the most reserved with regard to playdates, etc.

She has most recently found her voice. With the onset of the move here, she has been blessed with 2 year old preschool (which I admit I initially thought was silly) and has found some really good friends (and her best friend Phoebe) and some warm and loving teachers and school/church environment that she cherishes like Emma did Morton United Methodist.

She now swims in the "big pool" with only swimmies, eats an entire Happy Meal, rides a scooter and a bike with training wheels, picks out her own hair accessories (with an affinity for headbands), attends camp like her older siblings, and states her opinions with zesto. She also can't quite settle in for bed without a story from Mom, a book read to her by Emma, and then a "chapter" read by herself.

All of them are so rapidly changing. I guess I should be used to that by now but ..... it still is somehow shocking ... sort of like walking into an air conditioned room after being outside. And as refreshing as it is - sometimes, I just want to stay outside - for just a little longer anyway.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hey - They are Clean ... and Dressed ....

See - it DOES happen. All three of them are clean, dressed, and ready for church. The way our summer has gone with pool visits nearly every day, dirty faces and hands from sandbox play, feeding the fish, etc., I just had to take advantage of the moments before church and snap a picture.

They clean up pretty well I think.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Happy Birthday John! (Yesterday)

Sorry - I meant to do this last night but it just didn't happen. Happy 34th birthday John! Hope you did something fun !

Disney Trip Part Two

Lots of people have asked how the kids did meeting the characters. Claire took a few hours to warm up to the idea so she isn't in all the pictures. Emma and Grayson were great about getting as many autographs as they could.

About the character meals - I would definitely recommend Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary. We enjoyed riding the monorail and the food there was GREAT. We celebrated Grayson's 5th birthday there and they had a great deal for birthdays.

I would not recommend Cinderella's castle. Well, maybe for breakfast. We went for lunch and it was not something I would ever pay for again.

We also did the princess thing for breakfast at Epcot. It was definitely better than Cinderella's - the food was more kid friendly. To be honest, to the girls, Belle was just as exciting as the big "C" - even if they were a little princessed-out by this time.

Emma's only regret - we didn't ever see Ariel - our personal favorite. She was gone that week. What? There is only one? Anyway, by the end of the trip, we had filled two autograph books and that was plenty for all of us.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Disney Trip Part One

Here are a few pictures from the Disney trip. I am working on getting a book together and perhaps a slide show - when I do, that will be easier than posting all the cute ones here.

All in all, we are glad we did it. The timing was perfect really. Though I will have to live with pregnant pictures, I wasn't too tired and the weather was great. It never rained and the kids were really troopers considering all they had to deal with (plane rides were a first for Claire and Grayson and Emma don't remember much about going to Puerto Rico).

The double stroller (that fit all three kids with a little figuring) was perhaps the best purchase we made. I am GOING to find one of those Disney strollers and when I do - you will hear me from wherever you are. They were great!!!

We kept a fairly rapid pace because we don't plan to go back for a few years. The kids had a great time - though really, they are just as excited about the local waterparks and seasonal pool membership. That figures doesn't it?

I think next on our list for a big family vacation would be somewhere on the outer banks of North Carolina or some other beachy vacation with a pool and a beach and no other agenda. We'll have to see about that one. I'm really not thinking too much about that now ....

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Joy for Sarah and Kevin!!!

So this must be close to what it feels like to have a niece or nephew.

Friends of ours have just been referred a baby girl from Taiwan. We have been waiting for this news for months - and when she told me, I was in the car delivering a meal to a person from our church with cancer. All the kids were in the car and it was raining. I was already a little misty eyed because the woman was living all alone and soooo thankful for the meal I had delivered. Emma and I were discussing how fortunate we were to have our health and how wonderful it was that God had placed us in her life - even if just for one meal.

Then, Sarah called with the news. I probably should have warned her I was driving - and it was raining - and I was already emotional. But I never saw such great news coming! I almost drove off the road with excitement (and with such blurred vision due to happy tears). What a great moment. I'll remember it always and will be glad to tell little Hannah Claire that great story when she is older.

Little Hannah is a preemie -but doing very well. Please join me in prayer for my friends and their little bundle of joy waiting and growing in Taiwan. You all know Sarah -the talented blog - artist and Gymboree addict. Also, check out her blog for the cutest double chin you have ever see and leave a post. Hallelujah - indeed!