Fun with my Buddy

Since this is Zakkai’s last week before school starts and we now have limited use of the van, I wanted to do something special with him. We’ve been having fun hanging out, doing puzzles (8 yesterday…), cleaning, taking walks, etc but this boy loves special trips and I wanted to spend special time with my big boy.

I was racking my brain trying to figure out where to take him that is free and not too far away when I remembered this beautiful little park that we passed not long after we moved here that B and I both wanted to come back to.

Zakkai eagerly helped me pack up a yummy picnic lunch for us and impatiently waited for his little sis to wake up. He wanted to leave her at home and get going but I quickly nixed that idea:)

It was well worth the blind 20 minute trip when we finally found “our” park! It is just a beautiful place with water fountains, a lake, strategic benches placed about, a kid’s playground and to Z’s utter delight and excitement, a water playground!

E was happy to sit and munch on cheerios for awhile before the real excitement began:)

 Once Zakkai realized there would be a possibility of getting wet, he could barely focus on eating his lunch! He literally ate backwards, staring at the water area wondering how he was going to find the button to activate the sprinklers.

 There was a really nice playground, too, that we never even got to play on!

 The sprinklers were giant flowers and leaves that shower down on the kids. There are also little sprinklers that periodically shoot up from the ground. Z quickly discovered the button and was completely enthralled for the next 45 min or more!

 Jumping….

 Chasing the little spurts of water..

 Trying to plug up as many holes as he could….By the time he was done, he was absolutely soaked. And we had no towel or extra clothes:)

 Eliana got to come out and watch for awhile and yelled at Zakkai the whole time. “Da! Daa! DAAAAAAAA!” She wanted to go in, too:)

 But instead her mean old mommy tried to pose her for pictures.

 Who could help photographing such a little beauty?

 Z was too cold to go look at the water fountains after his water playing so we headed home!

 I had to do some quick improvising since Z was soaked head to toe. I had him strip down to only his dripping wet undies and gave him my sweatshirt to wear! He thought it was pretty funny and spent the whole trip home trying to bury himself inside the hood so no one could see him (a.k.a. Eliana:)

It was really fun to spend time with just my two littlest ones. It’s weird to be without Samuel and we missed him. But it was also nice to just let Zakkai “be” without opinions and arguments or bossing. He’s such a sweet boy!

And he’s already planning our next trip there:)

A Monday List

It’s good to have lists on Mondays, don’t you think? I do! Here’s my list for today about everything and nothing:)

*Today was B’s first day of his new teaching job! He had a few frustrating things go wrong but other than that is very thankful for the new experience this will bring to his CV. He is teaching 2 classes of Old Testament back to back on MWF. I am so thankful for all of his hard work to support our family as well as working to finish his dissertation!

*The kiddos and I walked back and forth to school 8 times today. I didn’t have any cash to pay for lunch supervision so S came home for lunch, which is nice! We get good exercise:)

*Eliana was snotty and snuffly today, grouchy but still sweet:) I put her in the Moby for walk #5&6 and she fell sound asleep. So precious!

*Our neighbors across from us play Yahtzee at least 5 times a week. Sometimes when I hear that rattling of the dice against the red plastic cup, I feel a sudden urge to knock on their door and ask them if I can join in:) Or at the very least, I feel like cheering for them from over here when they hoot an’ holler over their Yahtzees!

*It was a beautiful day today! We’ve had the air conditioning off for several days to get fresh air and save $ and usually there is a point in the afternoon where I watch the thermostat climb slowly and think, “I’m not going to make it! Must turn air on…” and then before I know it, we pass the hottest point of the day and the gentle breeze flows in and it’s so nice and peaceful. I love hearing the chirping bugs outside. And the Yahtzee game across the yard.

*Been trying to use my cast iron skillet more often. They say food only gets better the more you use it and it’s supposed to last a lifetime or more with good care! We had fish tonight that was deeeelicious! And couscous. We haven’t had it in awhile but it was a smash hit with the boys:)

*I just folded up this week’s loads of laundry and I washed 15 pairs of Zakkai’s underwear. 15. I didn’t even know he had that many! He has been “trying” to stay dry at nighttime. He makes it about every 3rd night. The other nights we change underwear at least twice. Last night he stayed dry! That means tonight….

*The new change in our schedules with school starting up has renewed my love for cooking and baking! I was feeling a bit like a slacker this summer and did not enjoy menu planning or cooking so it feels great to enjoy it again! Can’t wait for the crisp air that means soups, crock pot meals and apple picking!

*I am about to start quilting my quilt! Woohoo! It’s only been 3 years since I started it but I am finally in the final stages. Who knows how long this will take but my sister and I have a pact to finish the quilts within a year or else! It’s time to start new projects (and there are many waiting in the wings) and also to see this labor of love gracing our bed!

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I want to wish a VERY happy birthday to my special Grandma! I will not say how old she is because she wants to be in denial about it and that is a-okay with me! I like to be in denial, too:)

I love you, Grandma, and wish with all of my heart that I could’ve been there tonight celebrating you with the family that means so much to you. You are so special and have given your family so many years of laughter, joy and love. Happy Birthday!
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And finally, Missy has learned a couple of new skills and is very proud of herself as you will see:)

30 and All Grown-UP.

Sometimes it is not fun being a grown-up. I just knew it was going to be hard even when I was a little kid! Now I know why I never wanted to go to school and why I swore I would live at home for the rest of my life, something for which I am sure my mom is greatful never happened!

At least my boys have progressed in their “grown-up” plans to living next door instead of always with us:)

Back to being a grown-up though. Sometimes it’s just the pits! The bills you have to pay, working hard to get the $ to pay the bills, responsibility and confronting people sometimes.

Wait! Before you get all depressed on me and go bury your head under the covers while you sneak your Hershey’s Kisses, there are wonderful things about being an adult, too.

I’ll get back to you on that;)

So the boys have their little friend Mikey who comes over daily (and multiple times a day) to play with them. We were thrilled to have a friend for the boys over the summer but I must admit lately that when I hear his high-pitched little voice at the screen door or see his little nose pressed against my newly cleaned glass sliding door, my heart sinks a bit.

Mikey is a really sweet kid and the boys adore him. And I have a ton of compassion for him, which I’ll tell you about in another minute. However, M has been getting a bit rough lately. He doesn’t treat his own possessions well like when he pretty much tore up his bike tires braking so hard on our sidewalks, leaving deep black scuff marks and leading to him having to get a new bike.

Treating your own stuff poorly is one thing. But coming over to a neighbor’s house and destroying their stuff is another! In the past 2 days, he has broken Zakkai’s “new” bike that he worked so durn hard for this summer (cracked off a training wheel), lost several of our baseballs, ripped the steering wheel off a push toy I was saving for Eliana and together with Zakkai, came up with the brilliant idea of ripping up handfuls and handfuls (and handfuls) of grass so that our yard is now covered with huge bare patches.

So. I had to hike up my grown-up mommy pants and go over to have a friendly chat with his mom. Now I will tell you why I have so much compassion for Mikey and why this was so hard for me. I hate talking to people about issues anyways because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make someone feel bad but I couldn’t allow this to continue. Another reason I felt so bad was that Mikey’s daddy suddenly passed away earlier last month.

So now his mom is a single parent of 2 boys, 5 and 9 years old. B and I have really tried to consider that and have often felt over the past month that Mikey’s like our 4th child. It started out as a joke that quickly developed a half-serious undertone considering how often he comes over and how much “parenting” we have to do with him. We always try to be very gentle, especially considering he isn’t our kid!

He spends hours and hours roaming the neighbhorhood all by himself with no supervision whatsoever. And to clench the deal, I overheard him talking to the boys on the porch today about when his dad died. And how he is in heaven now and he’s never coming back.

Now do you see why it was so hard for me to go over there? His mom was very sweet and I tried not to make a big deal out of it. I told her how much the boys love playing with him and how he’s a sweet boy but I thought she should just know that he’s been a bit rough lately. I have been hoping for a chance to reach out to her and show her that I care. It’s hard to reach out to a stranger and a bit out of my comfort zone!

But I think this is a great chance to show someone God’s love and for me to learn how to be a real true neighbor to someone as God has asked us to do. I would love prayers for courage and wisdom in how to reach out!
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This is a mobile made especially for Miss E by our dear and wonderful friend, Miss D! I just wanted to say for the record, before she becomes wildly famous and world-renowned, that I knew her!!

 Isn’t it cute?! 4 crocheted, stuffed little elephants~which is E’s special stuffed animal. She has lots of pink elephants! And now she won’t try to roll of the changing table anymore to get away from the cruel practice of having her diapers changed:)

 And behind her dresser is the “hat wall.” 🙂 My sister sent me these cute hooks and I thought it was a great place to hang up the many summer hats (and soon winter hats~yikes!) that a baby girl needs! I should go find the missing one while I’m thinking about it….

 Missy showing off her new skills while I take pictures:) She is so big pulling up on everything and getting stronger and faster. It’s too cute to see her standing up on her wobbly colt legs with a big happy grin on her face!

And this little boy started us all off with colds in the past couple of days. He started off really hoarse a couple nights ago but thankfully it has just been minor congestion. Samuel was a bit grumpy today and was the second to catch his brother’s love-cold. And now Eliana and I both have it, too.

Somehow Ben either gets it last or gets away with never getting it! Not fair….

They come in 3s…

Don’t they say that bad things come in 3s?(Whoever “they” is) It’s true for me today! But I am really trying to see the blessings in them all.

First there was the scene with Z yesterday . I am really trying to be so thankful that God was watching over him and protected him. This kid is such a riot but also a causer of gray hairs…

Then Samuel and Eliana had their check-ups today. Samuel is healthy and thriving as a happy 6 year old. He was very pleased to hear that there are no shots for 6 year olds!!

Eliana is still petite at 17 lbs 10.5 oz (which was like 14th %?) and 27 inches. She has a small head, too:) She is doing really great except the dr did discover that she has a small heart murmur. I was really surprised as no one has said anything up until now. She has been referred to a cardiologist, whom she will see in October.

You know the nice thing was, I never felt a sense of fear or panic when she told me about it because I look at my chunky, thriving little girl and know that she was created with Perfect Hands and that no matter what, we’ll be okay. I am so thankful that I have come a long way in dealing with fear (although I definitely still struggle obviously:) and don’t want to let it enter in and grow roots! If it was serious it would’ve been caught before and there would be signs that she wasn’t doing well.

I think they will probably just monitor her to see if it closes. I adore this little muffin and am thankful that we aren’t facing anything really serious, although I wish there wasn’t anything wrong at all with her sweet little heart. I am praying it will be completely closed by the time her appointment rolls around. Will you pray that with me??

And then as I was driving back from the doctors, a rock from a lumbering semi flew back and struck my windshield and left a crack in it. I was so overwhelmed by such a seemingly small thing for a moment but it was like the icing on the rotten cake after these past two days. You know how sometimes it’s the little things that can push you over the edge?

And my mom told me “Think of the blessings you’ve had this week.” And she’s right: Zakkai is OKAY, Eliana doesn’t have anything too serious wrong with her and I didn’t get in an accident or anything today, Samuel has had a wonderful week and we are so pleased with his school.

I can’t worry about the what ifs or about what might happen tomorrow or next month. But I can be thankful that we are taken care of today and have all we need.

Now if only blessings came in 3s….;)

I think God knew I needed a distraction tonight and so He sent it in the form of our good friends Ms D and Mr J!! They dropped by to enjoy some homemade pizza with us, play a rousing round of Cranium (In which the girls tromped on the boys), enjoyed some delicious brownies and ice cream (because Friday nights are made for treats!!) and most of all basked in friendship and the life it brings.

I do have a lot to be thankful for tonight and I choose to think about those things now!

Fear

Today wasn’t nearly as good of a day as the past two. Not because of the newness wearing off~it’s too soon for that. No, we just didn’t get off to a good start and I never really recovered from it.
It happens sometimes.
This morning the kiddies and I were a few minutes into our walk to school when Zakkai almost got hit by a car. No joke, no exaggeration. It still makes me tear up and tremble to think about it.
He was running along the sidewalk, in Zakkai world, looking at the street but not paying attention to the driveway he was about to run across. I was just a bit behind him pushing the stroller with Samuel by my side when I saw the minivan zooming backwards down the driveway.
My heart stopped. I screamed “Stop!! Zakkai!!!!” Zakkai skidded to a stop and the man backing up screeched to a stop. Just a few feet to spare.
I started yelling at Zakkai, out of pure raw emotion, about not paying attention. And then I started shaking from head to toe. The man in the minivan didn’t say a word, just waited for us to pass over his driveway so he could continue on. I got a few feet on the other side, no one was saying a word, when I started shaking so bad my legs couldn’t even walk. I showed Zakkai my shaking hands, trying to get across to him how serious it was! He was refusing to look at me.
The man pulled over to the side of the road, got out of his van and gave a very half-hearted attempt at an apology and walked away. I burst into tears and we kept walking to school. Samuel kept asking me if I was okay and I said, “No.”
How could I be? My baby almost got seriously injured or worse right in front of my eyes. It took me the rest of the walk to pull myself together enough to join the other throngs of oblivious parents in dropping off their little ones.
As I recounted the incident later to Ben, I got overwhelmed with a rush of panicky “What ifs…” You know how those go.
What if Eliana had dropped a toy (a new habit of hers) and I’d bent down to pick it up? I wouldn’t have stopped him in time. What if my phone had rung? What if I was looking away for even a brief second? What if he’d actually been hit?
But I know from past experience, that the “What ifs” rarely solve anything or give you the ability to heal and move on. I need to just be incredibly thankful tonight that my sweet boy is alive. He’s okay and none of the What Ifs happened.
Thank you, God.
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So you can see why the rest of my day was a bit off. I was frustrated easily, losing my patience and alternately struggling with the fear that wanted to creep in and take hold: What if it happens again?
I’m thinking a good quiet time is in order for me. And a brand new day.
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To end on a lighter note, here is a video I took yesterday at lunchtime of Eliana having a very loud conversation while trying to pull up. The boys thought she was hilarious. And so did I.
Pretty much she’s spoiled rotten at this point:)

Another Great Day!

 I still can’t believe that we are back in school mode already! It will be an adjustment for us these next few weeks as we are staggering all of my “men” starting school. S was yesterday, B starts his new teaching job next Mon and Z starts preschool the day after Labor Day.
Whew! It will take a little time to get into the groove but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up a little:)
Today I walked back and forth to school 6 times! It’s a nice 8 minute walk (depends on how fast you walk:) but today was really hot and humid! The school has open lunch which means the kids don’t have to stay for that hour. I told Samuel he could come home 2 days a week for lunch and that way we will get extra hugs and save a little $. (It costs $ to have them stay for lunch).
Since it was the first long day today he chose to spend lunch time with us:) He is handling this transition SO much better than I dared to hope! Tomorrow he will lunch with his new class and I really hope he does well. I will miss him being gone for so many hours and I know I’ll have to pray often and trust my sweet boy to God.
I met with his teacher this afternoon to give her a heads up about his sensory issues. I feel that she needs to know what he has struggled with in the past and what are challenges for him so she can be aware if anything crops up and we can work together to help him blossom this year. I walked away from the short meeting even more thankful for what seems like a perfect teacher match for Samuel!
Zakkai is my buddy now. He was a bit sad yesterday after Samuel went into school and told me that he almost cried;( They are such buddies! Today he rode his bike for a bit outside and then came in and helped me clean. I had to do a thorough sweeping and mopping because the tiniest member of our clan insists on eating every blasted spec and crumb she can find, which today resulted in a very scary few minutes of her choking and gagging on a small leaf.
Fun times. So Z helped me windex the sliding door that is covered with approximately 436 little boy finger prints and smudges and helped scrub off cabinet fronts and mop a bit. He actually loves to help clean! The other day he refused to go outside (they were getting a bit wild) so Ben gave him 3 options: Go outside, clean or sit in time-out. He chose cleaning:) And spent the next long while happily scrubbing the downstairs bathroom and cleaning off door knobs and lightswitches.
You will hear no complaints from me!

Little Miss is ever-changing. She’s been a bit clingy and fussy the past two days and I tricked her into checking her gums and discovered that her second tooth is poking through! She immediately reached up and stuck her finger inside my mouth:) Touche!

She also has changed her “bye-bye” wave with her hand facing herself. She looks down at her hand like, “What are you doing?” And she did her first baby sign!! She does “Light”, which was Zakkai’s favorite sign:) She likes all the cheering and the boys really like being able to teach her! We are working on other signs like “eat”  “more” and “all done” and slowly adding in new ones every few days like “book” (when we read to her at night) and “fan” etc. I can’t wait for her to start picking the signs up!
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Tonight we had the most delicious dinner! I just had to share:) We’ve never made shishkabobs here but I found an amazing recipe and I think we’ll be making them much more often as long as the weather allows….

I highly recommend!
Honey Chicken Shishkabobs

*I followed the recipe, minus the black pepper, of course:) I used 3 whole chicken breasts, cut into 1 in pieces. I didn’t have minced garlic so I used powdered. I’ve heard it’s better if you can marinate even longer than the 2 hours!

We threaded the chicken on 2 skewers and cut up baby bell peppers on the others. I tried to add boiled potatoes but they kept falling off so I ended up roasting them instead:) We served it with jasmine rice and it was SOOOOO good!

First Grade

 I hardly slept all night I got myself so anxious about Samuel today! He fared much better than I did:)
I could tell he was nervous but we prepared with a special breakfast and a couple of special things for him to carry in his pocket. One is a laminated wallet sized picture of our family with some special things written on the back to comfort him. The other is a small round rock with the words “I love (heart) U” on it for him to reach down and hold as a visible reminder that I love him so much and am thinking about him and praying for him.

 As we were rushing out the door forgetting supplies, grabbing the stroller from the car and comforting a very miserable little sister, Samuel found a dollar bill lying on the ground and that brought a big smile to his face:)

 We took our 10 minute walk to school and found the 1st grade line! There are 3 different first grade classes and Samuel’s is with a very sweet grandma-ish lady who has been teaching first grade for many years. You could tell she is much loved from the constant hugs she got from former students!

 She made her way down the line meeting her students and asking them questions. Samuel was SO scared, I could see it in his face. I kept reminding him that he was so brave, I was so proud of him and he had his special picture and rock to look at if he felt scared. His teacher finally got to him and he wouldn’t even look at her! I had to tell her his name and she was so gentle with him, asking him if he liked to read and if he liked recess. He finally nodded and she assured him that he was in the right place then!

She also assured him that all the other kids were nervous, too because it was everyone’s very first day. I liked her immediately and can tell they will get along famously!

School was only 1 1/2 hours today, just long enough for kids to turn in supplies, meet their teachers, etc. Z, E and I hung out on the playground where they were serving donuts and coffee. I met some really nice moms of kids in S’s class!

And then the rain rolled in right as the kids were scheduled to come out. We crowded in with all the other hordes of parents and waited for our newly minted First Graders to come out. I finally was able to make it to Samuel who greeted me with a shy yet happy smile on his face! His teacher told me over his head that he did GREAT today and opened up a little bit. His face did look more relaxed and when we started to walk away and I gave him a big hug and he said in the sweetest voice, “Mommy, I loved it!”

He beamed all the way through our rainy walk home! I can’t even express how happy I am that prayers for a wonderful teacher were answered, nice friends for him to make and a good first day to start the year off well!