Sunday, November 25, 2012

Field Trip Frenzy

Last week, Avery went on two back-to-back field trips for school.

On Wednesday, she and her Daddy loaded up and headed to the Houston Zoo.  Not only did he serve the usual chaperone duties, but he also served as Chief Fact-Corrector and Informant.  I heard after the trip that "Daddy knew so much about the animals and everyone was impressed."

According to Jordan, there were several scenes like this:
Child, walking up to a Gila Monster: "Mom!  Look!  An alligator!"
Mother, distracted: "Wow!  It sure is!"
Jordan would lean over and tell his group of kids, "That's actually a Gila Monster.  And here are all the ways you can tell the difference..."

Avery was impressed with her Daddy's knowledge, and Jordan did his part to keep confusion of animal species at bay.

On Thursday, Mama took a turn with the Stanley GT kids at the Outdoor Learning Center.  All grade levels (1st-5th) went on the field trip together, and the theme of the trip was Katy Prairies.  The kids made mud balls with wildflower seeds, played migration games, and learned all about the tall grasses that used to grow on the Katy Prairie.  I was highly entertained the entire time with the very GT, very out-of-the-box thinking that the kids were using.

For example, we arrived at a new learning station and stood among mock cows, sheep, and horses, all with lassos attached to them.  The speaker held up some of the 8-foot prairie grass and posed the question, "If you came to Katy when it was covered with these tall grasses, and you knew you couldn't get anything else to grow because it is so wet here, what could you do to make money using the tall grasses?"
One hand shot up: "Clear the land and build a settlement!  Sell the houses and buildings!"
Another hand: "Pull the grasses and use the roots to weave something since they're so fibrous!"
The speaker tried to lead them a bit more: "Well, those are good ideas.  But I'm thinking we'd use this grass to give it to something and then sell that something..."
Another hand: "Sell the grass to a medicine man so he can make medicine!"
And another: "Sell it to Native Americans so they can weave baskets!"

Click here for pictures from the field trips

Monday, November 12, 2012

The House, A Timeline

Thursday, November 1st, 1:00 pm - Kiss Daddy goodbye and wish him well on his camping trip

Friday, November 2nd, 6:00 pm - In an unusual burst of energy, decide to traipse through the grocery store, everyone in tow, to pick out tonight's dinner.  All get shoes on and head out.

6:30 pm - In aisle 10 of 20, Kate covers her mouth, shocked and terrified, and yells, "Mommy, I broke the sink!"  Respond in a bored voice, "It'll be fine, Kate.  Daddy will fix it when he gets home."

6:50 pm - Wrap up the little grocery excursion, healthy meal to be fixed in hand, and head home.

7:10 pm - Open the front door of our house.  Hear waterfalls.  Notice water pouring out of the recessed lighting in the kitchen.  Temporarily freeze.  While frozen, the girls run into the front yard, screaming to our neighbors, "The house is broken!  It's ruined!"

7:13 pm - Get my wits about me.  Realize Kate meant that she clogged the sink and forgot to turn off the water in the upstairs sink when she confessed at the store.  Send Avery upstairs to turn off sink.  Find my phone.  Call Jordan.  "Um... hon?  I really really hope you don't have to come home, but our house is flooding... can you tell me what to do?"

7:14 pm - Chase Reese out of the street.  In the chaos, the front door remains open and the baby went out to play with the neighbors.

7:15 pm - Console Kate.  Poor thing is in fetal position, in the middle of the rainstorm that is our kitchen, crying and terrified.  "It's all my fault!  Is the house ruined forever?  Is it going to fall apart?"

7:18 pm - Praise Avery.  She behaves like an all-star.  She turns off water, sops up the standing inch or two of water in the upstairs bathroom with towels, hoists them over the edge, and comes downstairs with a calm, collected demeanor.

7:19 pm - Scrap healthy meal from grocery store.  Feed the kids microwaved chicken nuggets and chips for dinner.

7:20 pm - Sop up standing water in kitchen.  Start load of towels for round two of cleaning.

7:25 pm - Wonder why the wood floors sound like sponges and water seeps up between the boards... the standing water never made it out of the kitchen...

Alternate for the rest of the evening between trying to clean up, texting with Jordan regarding the state of things, sitting around relaxing because - why not? - and finally calling it a night.

Saturday, November 3rd, 3:00 am - Kate comes down stairs.  Her tummy hurts.  "Why, baby?"  "Because I feel scared and sorry."  Console Kate again.  Cuddle the rest of the night.

Saturday, November 3rd, 3:00 pm - Kate marches into Nana's house: "Nana!  Our house is flooded and we don't know how it happened!  We don't know who did it!"  Apparently she has forgiven... and forgotten... her little mishap.

The story gets less interesting from there.  In summary:

Monday, November 5th - Finally get a hold of insurance.  Thankful for their incredible help.  Also shocked at the deductible.

Tuesday, November 6th through Friday, November 9th - Drying crew comes and leaves 15 fans, 4 dehumidifiers, and unbelievable noise.  The damage is more than we suspected: every room except the master and Reese's will be somehow impacted.  Wood floors torn up.  Cabinets and sink relocated to the garage.  

And that's where we stand.  The fans and dehumidifier are gone, praise the Lord.  We wait on insurance to approve the restoration amount and they're hoping work can begin the week of Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, the girls are camping out in the game room, the guest bathroom is serving as our kitchen sink,  and we're all sharing the master bath.  It's an adventure, and at times I have to remember James 1: "Consider it joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Allow perseverance to complete its work in you, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  It's not coincidence that God had us memorizing that text this semester.  It's come to mind and ministered to me more than once this week.

But also, this is such small potatoes in the grand scheme of the world.  We're blessed.  We have a home and an amazing support system.  And that's more than 90% of  the world.  May we never forget that in the momentary inconveniences!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keeping it Real (Halloween 2012)

A friend recently told me that one day, my children would look back on the glowing photos and sweet smiles and think our life was picturesque.  Apparently, the day-to-day chaos that pervades our lives isn't always evident in photos.  And, to keep it real for my grown kids, I present:

Keeping it Real; a letter to my adult children:

Dear Adult Avery, Kate and Reese,

Sure, you guys pose sweetly for pictures.  And yep, Mom has a fairly nice camera that makes things look really great.

Also, it is true.  We have a mostly amazing life.  You love trick-or-treating, playing with friends, parties and festivities... and one or both of your doting parents are there to share the fun.

Those parts of your life, I hope, are what you think back on and remember fondly.  They're the parts we work pretty hard to make fun, special, and full of our own traditions.

But, I hope you don't ever confuse the fact that we had lots of fun and got lots of cute pictures with the fact that Mom was painfully and laughably human.  Like, the messy kind.  And the forgetful kind.  And the brush-it-off and keep moving forward kind.

Exhibit A: Candy Apples
Sweet.  Traditional.  Kid-centered.

Oh yeah, and the first three attempts at doing them had to be postponed because someone wasn't watching the baby and she ate several bites out of every apple.  So much so that we finally decided, on the third bunch of apples, just to cover the bite marks with caramel and go for it anyways.

Exhibit B:  Trick or Treating
Three Little Kittens.  Ahhhh, preciousness.

Nevermind that while Kitty A and Kitty K were trick-or-treating, Kitty R got a Ring Pop stuck in her "fur" and became so sticky that she had to be stripped.  So, the rest of the night, a toddler in a diaper handed out candy.  Well-meaning people would ask, "What is she supposed to be?" as they took candy from a naked child with a kitty face on.  Mom would answer, "She's a cat that has a Ring Pop stuck in her fur."  Isn't it obvious?

Exhibit C: The Halloween Party
Pumpkin decorating, food galore, homemade Jello worms with Mom...

Oh, yeah - and the part where Reese fell in the pool.

Exhibit D: Reese's Halloween Party
Tons of Toddlers.  Lots of them in Matching Super Hero costumes.  Precious Reese, Wonder Woman cape flapping.
And Wonder Woman screaming.  And dealing with a medicine allergy.  And trying, desperately, to communicate to Mommy that something is wrong.  But Mommy, for all of her efforts, cannot seem to understand what happened to this baby, and why she isn't happy, and what am I supposed to do again when a kid cries?

Exhibit E: Our Pumpkin Patch
A sweet collection of pumpkins in our front yard

And the sprouts from the pumpkin that decayed, leaving its innards to grow into seedlings.

So, my adult children, please do smile warmly at the nostalgia you feel when you look back on this time of your life.  And then laugh along with me as we remember that the pressure's off.  Life was fun, but it couldn't pretend not to also be messy!

Click here for pictures


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Week Reese Went Missing

Reese the Happy (who was known far and wide as a silly, happy girl) spent her days playing, eating, and getting into mischief of one kind and another.

That is, until the day Reese the Happy went missing.  She was taken away by an evil Strep Monster and Reese the Happy was, sadly, swapped for Reese the Sick.  Now, this is a sad tale, to be sure, but Reese the Sick was still a trooper.  Crying from discomfort during the night, she'd sleep when she could by day, drink lots of fluids, and do her best to perk up for a few hours each day.

Doctor prescribed some meds to subdue the Strep Monster with the expectation that Reese the Happy would be returned to her loving family.  However, what happened next was confusing.

Reese the Sick was not swapped for Reese the Happy.  Instead, Reese the Screamer took her place.  Reese the Screamer was not like any other baby the family had seen before.  
Playgroups and Little Gym outings went... well, screamishly bad.  When she wasn't crying in a puddle on the floor, she was clinging to the Mama, whimpering and burying her head.

Mommy was not sure what to do.  What happened to Reese the Happy?  Should we send out a search party?  Should we try to subdue Reese the Screamer?  Will Reese the Happy ever come home, or do we need to figure out how to deal with Reese the Screamer?

The easy answer was that maybe this was still Reese the Sick.  But, no fever, no symptoms... just a screamy baby.

Until the rash.  One week in, Reese developed a rash and so it was back to the doctor for us.  The rash, as it turns out, explained the mystery of where Reese the Happy had been.  Apparently Strep Monster is only rivaled by Allergic-to-Antibiotics Monster.

New antibiotics and 12 hours later, Reese the Happy was home at long last.  Alternating between picking on her big sisters with a mischievous giggle and smiling while playing, Reese the Happy has been welcomed back into the family with sighs of relief.

The moral of this story?  A happy baby doesn't just turn screamy and needy ... check the meds!

Click here for pictures