Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taking A Break

We have enjoyed our Christmas break so much!! Ah, the freedom! Sleeping in for two weeks now...slower pace, staying in my jammies a FEW days.  It has been SO heavenly.  I hate for it to end.  In fact, I dread Monday when we will start homeschooling again.  Please don't misunderstand!!! I would choose nothing else over homeschooling, but any way you look at it, it is work.  We have homeschooled since Jordan was 4, thinking at that time we would be preparing her to start kindergarten the next year at a Christian school.  She's in the 10th grade now, Evan is in the 8th and Jessie is always happen to announce, "I'm first grade!".  Although in the younger years we never said this is forever, I think it is safe to say now that we're in it till the end.  A couple years ago I saw an article in HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) that was titled, "How Long Are You In For?" with a picture of a person inside a cell, looking out through the bars.  I've been IN for a long time now! I feel so certain that this is the path that we are supposed to be on...but at the moment I'm just tired.  Anemia might have something to do with that! When we are out for the summer, I read books about homeschooling, research to see what materials would be best for the upcoming school year, work on projects around the house that simply can't get done in the school year, purchase books for the next year, try to sell those we're done with.  I always have a list of things I want to accomplish when we are out for Christmas Break and Spring Break too.  Whether we are in school or on break, my mind is always thinking of what all needs to be done.  I'm sure many moms can relate, whether you homeschool or not...when I'm is difficult to truly relax...even if I am doing "relaxing things" my mind is so busy.  The first week of our Christmas break there was much to do in preparation for Christmas.  This week, although we have certainly done things around the house, I have rebelled against that feeling of "I must be doing something productive every minute I am home!" Jordan and I have shopped, we have enjoyed watching movies together and tv shows.  Today I tickled Jessie till she peed in her panties, Oops! I knew we were going to have "tickle time" so I prepared in advance by taking her to the potty, but we just had too much fun.  Jordan, Jessie and I talked, and tickled and snuggled, then did it all again.  I wish Evan had been around for that but he was wrapped up in Xbox.  Yesterday, I didn't let him play Xbox all day so that he would hang out with us.  We alternated doing some things around the house and taking time to watch tv and play.  I have enjoyed this time with my kids so much.  We do some of these things all the time, but this week I was different.  I have allowed myself to relax.   There are several things I had hoped to accomplish this week that I haven't yet, but I am trying to be o.k. with it.

There are four more days left till school starts back....If you take out Sunday (when we have to get dressed in the am) there are three.  I hope to spend a fair amount of those three days in my jammies....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas: Funny Jessie Moments

When Jessie was opening her gifts and the little things in her stocking, she would so sweetly say Thank you Mommy, Thank you Daddy, for even the tiniest of little prizes in her stocking (even though we told her those things were from Santa!).  The same kid who was so sweetly thankful was really ticked off when the unwrapping was over! She enjoyed so much the surprise and anticipation of what was in the next package...she hated to see it end.  She has really enjoyed all of her gifts this year (so far anyway), and I'm really happy about that.  So often it is hard to tell if there will be more than momentary interest.  She loved feeding her Baby Born a bottle and she didn't mind when she tee-teed on the floor cause she had taken the diaper off. She loved putting her in the new doll playpen and playing with her new baby and all the new baby accessories.  It was so sweet to watch her "mommy" her baby.
Same sweet child yesterday said to someone "Stupid Liar!".  Now, she's heard both of those words here, unfortunately, however I'm pretty sure they weren't said together like that.  Although she of course can't be allowed to say that, I am impressed with her level of understanding.  We are a family that greatly enjoys humor and sarcastic wit (truly not to be unkind). She appropriately used the words stupid liar, after someone said something she didn't believe.  I could not stifle the laugh that came out, she said it with such dry humor(no expression at all!)....if she does it again I will be able to deal with it appropriately, but the unexpectedness of it was funny.

Our family (with extended family) almost always goes to a movie on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  Everyone wanted to see the new Chipmunk movie except Jessie.  Sometimes cartoon characters are scary to her and she said the movie was scary, that she didn't want to go, she wanted to stay home.  She usually loves to go to the movies, even if it is a movie that is more adult, that she doesn't entirely "get".  She was unbudging for a while though that she wanted to stay home.  Finally, Aunt Pam asked if she could bribe her with popcorn.  After I said yes and she asked Jessie if she would want to go to the movies if we get popcorn, Jessie said "and cherry Coke?"  Sold. To the movies we were going.  Jessie has pretty significant reflux, so carbonated beverages are something we have figured out that needs to be a rare treat.  She's a really good negotiater!! She ended up with a blue slushee at the movie, (her choice) and ended up really enjoying the movie, especially the parts where they danced.  She loves to watch dancing.

At the movies, while I was purchasing our tickets Jessie handed the guy a piece of paper with a bunch of names written on it.  Before we had left home she had told me this was her movie ticket.  I relayed this to the young man taking my debit card as he was looking like he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with he paper she had given him.  Before we left the desk, I put the "ticket" back in my purse.  Whew! Glad I did.  At the time, none of us knew inside the piece of paper (which was folded into 1/4 size) was a dollar bill.  Jessie later kept asking about her dollar and none of us had known it was folded in the paper.  When she kept asking about her ticket, I pulled the paper out...instant happiness...I guess in her mind the dollar was to pay for her ticket, but she preferred to get to keep her money and spend ours!

These are just a few tidbits of the way Jessie has entertained us and kept us on our toes this Christmas season!

It's nineteen minutes after midnight...but it still feels like Christmas, so Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

To: Gracey From : Jessie

Yesterday, Jessie wanted to wrap a gift for Gracey.  I didn't understand before what it was she wanted, or I had something for Gracey she could have wrapped.  I was busy doing something else and didn't really pay attention to what she was doing until she was finished.  Jessie found in her room, a musical Cinderella jewelry box and wrapped it for her friend.  I SO wish I had gotten a picture.  She took white paper (because mean mommy didn't understand what she was doing when she asked, and didn't give her real wrapping paper, she improvised and made her own!) and snipped all the edges in a decorative way, like we have done before to "make grass" out of the paper.  She used 2 or 3 pieces of paper, snipping the edges of each piece and "wrapped" Gracey's gift, and wrote her name on it.  She went to a drawer where I keep bows and ribbons and found 2 colorful bows to put on top.  One was bright yellow, and one purple.  Such a labor of true love.  Today Gracey came over to play and Jessie gave it to her. 

A few months ago, when they first started to occasionally play together, after a short while Jessie would come in the living room and want to watch t.v.  It's almost like she just couldn't play cooperatively or pay attention for a long time at once.  She loved Gracey so, and would beg for her to come over then wouldn't stay engaged for very long. Well, no more!  Monday, Jessie played with Gracey for hours non stop.  Same thing again today.  Barbie's, babies, McDonalds, Gracey read to Jessie.  Jessie's friendship with Gracey has been such a blessing.  It's been interesting to watch; now Gracey mostly understands what Jessie says, but if she doesn't, then like the rest of us, just kind of keeps going along as though she had understood. 

Some of the things I allow Jessie to do, I would never have let my other kids least not without fussing about it.  Every since we wrapped gifts together a couple of weeks ago, Jessie has been very interested in the tape. She's wasted much of it; but, it has helped her to learn to get the tape off the dispenser (some of the time) without it being wadded up.  Today, she and Gracey probably folded 25 pieces of notebook paper (each only had a few words on it) in half then taped them.  Bunch of wasted paper and tape, BUT we've worked on folding papers in half and this is her way of practicing.  Much less expensive than an OT session!

Jessie has really been into creating things lately; it really seemed to take off after the art class she had at coop last semester. One of her Christmas gifts is going to be a set of the clear drawers filled with art supplies. White paper (a whole ream all her own!), construction paper, and other art supplies that she can have access to anytime she wants.  In the past I have kept the scissors put up, but am thinking I'll let her have some in there, hoping I don't regret that one!

I've been sewing today while Jessie was playing with Gracey, trying to finish 3 pillowcase dresses I was making as Christmas gifts for my little nieces.  I'm trying to convince myself that I still have energy to do some wrapping now...

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jessie's new infatuations...Mouthwash and Go Fish

Jessie is such a funny girl.  She doesn't mind brushing her teeth, but she doesn't love it either.  Mainly she doesn't like to do it because it interrupts something else she is doing that she likes better, often that is watching t.v.! All that is now changed because of her "mouthwash", at least for now.  The dentist recommended (actually a couple of  visits ago) that we try using the flouride mouthwash.  Jessie has had 3 cavities in the last year or so and before that had none, ever.  This flouride rinse has a built in little measuring cup in the top to dispense the right amount.  Although Jessie can't do the whole process entirely on her own without spilling it, she loves squeezing the bottle to get it to dispense, pouring (with help) into a little cup, swishing it around (so funny to watch her face) then out with a big spit.  Thinking of the whole thing now it reminds me of my coffee rituals; such a simple thing and yet it brings me such pleasure!

The other night when we played cards when the youth were at our house, it got the kids and I interested in playing cards again, something we hadn't done much in a while.  We taught Jessie to play Go Fish the next day.  She so wants to be a part of everything we are doing.  The other games we played are too complicated for her to learn at this point, so I taught her to play Go Fish.  She doesn't fully comprehend the game, and has to have reminders, but she is loving it and wants to play every day.  Right now she is playing with Jordan in the living room. I love listening to them, Jordan patiently instructing.  What a precious big sister she is.

Friday, December 18, 2009

In the End...A Good Day

Today was one of those days that throughout the day, as the day went on, my opinion of the day continued to change.   

As homeschoolers we don't HAVE to be up and out early every day, so I find it difficult to stay on as good of a schedule as we should.  The closer we get to time for a school break...the later AND LATER the kids tend to sleep.  It seems since Jordan and Evan got to be teenagers ALL they want to do is sleep. Some days they are only up what seems a short time before they are falling asleep.  This greatly ANNOYS their mother!  Myself included, as we get close to an extended school break (Christmas, spring break, summer) we get up later and later. They didn't have much school work to do today, they each only have a couple of things to complete before they can be free till about January 4th.  When I have let them sleep late, I appreciate productivitity and plenty of it once they are up.  We were having a Youth Christmas Party at our house tonight.  Although there are only a few of us (in the youth group) prep takes the same amount of time!  Today we needed to clean our house, wash lots of bedding (where our scaredy cat dog peed on the bed while we were gone and it was storming), make a deliciously decadent peanut butter and chocolate dessert, make dip, sloppy joes and some minor cleaning. 

I don't know if other mom's feel the same (and I'd be interested to know!) but I'm constantly rating myself as a mother..based on the actions of my children.  When I couldn't get things done like they needed to be earlier in the day..I was feeling like such a failure, that my kids wouldn't be able to manage their homes when they are adults.  At one point, (speaking loudly!) I told them when they were adults and their homes were a disorganized mess that it would be my fault because I hadn't made them stick to a cleaning schedule (by not imposing consistent consequences)! My kids help a lot around the house...they are very good helpers, BUT the house does not run like a well oiled machine like I wish it did. If we followed the chore schedule on our refrigerator, our house should regularly be tidy and clean enough to not have to spend tons of time getting ready to have company.  We simply cannot seem to stick to that schedule!

This is an area I have struggled with for as long as I can remember.  Before we had kids, it was pretty easy to clean everything that needing doing on a Saturday.  Then, there was noone to be destroying something new while you are cleaning something else..that would be my sweet Jessie.  These days, it seems we have so much going on, that it is impossible to truly stay on top of things (to a comfortable, not perfect level!) and that drives me bonkers.  I did too much for them when they were younger, and didn't make them develop and stick with good habits that would help things stay more tidy.  The first three fourths of the day I spent feeling like I haven't prepared my kids to run a home of their own....FAIL.

The last part of the day we finished (last minute) the things we needed to do.  We ate a simple supper off our beautiful Christmas dishes (that I'd recently bought at a yard sale, never had Christmas dishes before!).  Candles lit everywhere.  I love candles everywhere, it makes my husband very nervous, all those "open flames" as he calls them.  Makes everything smell so good.  Enjoyed our time with the youth (3 besides mine!) playing cards for a while with my kids even after everyone else left.  At the end of the day  I thought how we enjoyed being together and what great kids they really are....even if they are slobs.  There are many other areas where I am so very proud of my kids.  I truly not only love them, but like them as well.  I try to remind myself of these things when I think of these weak areas, in which I may never excel....or pass on to them what I wish.  In the end...A good day.  Rotten kids....

P.S. this post was actually from yesterday, I just didn't get it finished! I'm not sure why I felt compelled to share this particularly unflattering information about myself and my family... I probably own more books about organization and scheduling than anyone I know.  I realize I am rambling again, sorry! Felt therapeutic though...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas' Past and Christmas Present

I had just mentioned to Jordan on Thanksgiving day how we used to always get a real tree the day after Thanksgiving...she doesn't really remember that, for several years now we've had an artificial one.  It was partly for convenience and partly for money savings that we made the switch. Reading another mom's blog about that same thing made me take a trip down memory lane into Christmas' Past....

In the early years of our marriage (December 3rd was our 21st anniversary!) we had some pitiful, real Christmas trees.  I remember one particular real "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree".  We had gone to a relative of Julian's and cut down a cedar tree.  The limbs were so weak they could barely hold up the ornaments, they were all weighted down.  To top it all off we had a cat that would try to play with the ornaments and the flimsy tree stand we had at the time...many times we came home from work with the tree lying on the floor where the cat had pulled it over. The next year we got a little smarter and found a tree stand with a much wider base, it held a lot more water.  We didn't realize if we filled it up all the way the water would get stale and were wondering, "What IS that smell...Oh!!"

 I remember we lived in a little one bedroom apartment then...Julian going to college (mornings) and working full time.  He worked at the airport from some time in the afternoon till 11 or 12.  A lot of nights I would take supper to him and to get a chance to see him, as I worked during the day.  It was during this time of him being gone so much between school and work that I wanted a dog for companionship.  When he didn't want one, I said, "A dog or a baby!".  We got a puppy, toy poodle!

After the poor college days, we were able to afford nicer, real fir trees and loved going to choose the perfect one.  We started out getting them at a tree farm, then later years started getting them from different charitable organizations around here that always sold them.  At some point it began to seem like more work than fun, getting rid of the tree after Christmas, and the clean up of needles.  The year we purchased our artificial tree Jay was out of work and it seemed practical to get a tree that could be reused and they were on sale.  We bought a prelit tree, problem with that is I could only find one prelit with white lights and the kids loved colored lights.  We add colored lights to the already white lit tree.  A bit redneck?

Since none of the kids can remember the tree shopping from years past, I am feeling compelled to consider a real tree next year.  We'll see.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Crazy!!

Jessie is driving me crazy! She wants Jordan and Daddy to open the gifts she wrapped for them.  So far they are the only ones with gifts under the tree.  It was such fun for her to wrap them and it is just killing her for them to be there....she wants to see them open them.  She went on and on and ON about it last night till finally I told Jay to open one of his, hoping that would appease her.  She was extra tired at that point and I hoped today it wouldn't feel as "fresh" and she would think about it less.  Nope.  A few minutes ago, Jordan and I talked with her about it again, how it is just December 10th, that it has to be December 25th to be Christmas.  That she would wake up and everyone open their gifts together and Mommy would take pictures (and put them on the blog!)....she is temporarily satisfied.  I hope it lasts!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wrapping Gifts shhhhh, it's really OT

It's been odd today not having Jordan and Evan around. They were able to go with the FLOW group (Future Leaders of the Wiregrass, a volunteer group within our homeschool group) to the Operation Christmas Child warehouse in Atlanta Ga. to help pack/check shoeboxes.  Jay took them at 6:30 this morning, they had roughly a 4 hour drive to get there. I think there were 14 7th-12th graders going.  They were working two 4hour shifts and spending a night in a hotel, and will be home late afternoon tomorrow.  It has been so quiet in the house today.  I always think of Jessie as being the noisy one, but without Jordan and Evan here for her to play with, aggravate, instigate has been way TOO quiet. 

Jessie and I wrapped some gifts today, the first ones that have been wrapped this year. It is so slow, letting her "help", and I don't always have the patience for it, but today it wasn't so much about getting them wrapped as it was letting her do it.  We had such a sweet time together.  She cut ziggedy zag (these gifts are all for our immediate family), wrinkled the tape as she pulled it off...and all the things that CAN make me crazy.  Today I was determined to let her do as much of it as she wanted and take the time needed.  It was precious time spent together.  She chose the paper, bags and color of tissue.  She has a very distinct opinion of her own, which always tickles me.  She writes too large to fit on the regular tags so she made homemade ones for the gifts. Last year she learned to spell the word to and learned how to make a colon from making homemade gift tags. She is also very happy to practice handwriting on something like this that feels useful and necessary.  Jessie has a love hate relationship with the tape dispenser! She doesn't really have the control to do it perfectly, but has definitely improved.  I had taken Jordan shopping and let her choose some clothes that are some of her Christmas gifts.  I want them under the tree, but she choose them and knows what they are.  Instead of wrapping them the usual way, we used white gift boxes and Jessie put lots of pretty Christmas stickers on the box.  Jessie's ability with stickers has improved so much, but some stickers, especially small ones are still a bit of a booger. 

I had planned to accomplish a lot more around the house today, but my back bothered me all day and I never could get the burst of energy I was looking for.  After a somewhat lazy day at home, Jessie and I met Jay for a quick supper at at the Taco Shop (where none of us ate anything Mexican!) before racing to church.

I'll end this post with a sweet thing that happened at church.  Jessie, Gracey, (I posted about their friendship before) and Grady wanted to walk across the parking lot into the grass to look at a Nativity scene.  Jessie can step off the curb by herself but it makes her a little nervous, especially in the dark.  They were headed that way together then Jessie stopped and Gracey after a minute realized Jessie wasn't with them.  Without a word said she walked back to Jessie held out her hand to her, Jessie took her hand, stepped down the curb and off they went.  Her mother says she wishes she was as kind to her twin brother!  When they walked off their mom (Heather) told me something Gracey had asked her recently.  Gracey asked, "Does Santa bring presents to kids with Down syndrome too?" Heather said "Yes".  Gracey then asked, "What if they are naughty?" Heather replied, "it's the same as for you" to which Gracey responded, "that's not fair!"  The love for Jessie in that statement, wanting to be sure Santa was sweet to her friend was a sweet ending to our already sweet day.

Visiting the Nursing Home

Yesterday we went to a nearby nursing home to decorate 4 doors of patients there.  It was our church youth group (I am 1 of their 2 teachers) and Jessie went with us.  We are a small group, there were 4 youth (2 are my 2 teens!) and 2 others couldn't be there yesterday.  I was just a little anxious taking Jessie, wondering if she would be willing to let us decorate the doors or be a distraction wanting to wander away and explore. She was SO sweet.  The Wednesday night before the youth had designed/glued dollar store decorations to vinyl table cloths and we hung them on the doors with packing tape.  They turned out really nice. Jessie felt personally in charge of giving the Christmas cards that they had all signed. A couple of the ladies weren't in their rooms and we had to leave the cards for them, Jessie wanted to SEE the recipients. 

One of the ladies had Alzheimer's.  She told us she was going home tomorrow, but that they would probably change the date again. She said she was lonely and wanted to go home.  I know this made an impression on my kids. We want to kind of "adopt" this nursing home as a project and go back and play games (dominoes, checkers, etc.)

We enjoyed doing the doors and hope they add a little CHRISTmas cheer!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 feels awfully good...except when it hurts

Last night I was able to make donations to the Reece's Rainbow Christmas Angel Tree.  I gave for 2 was a child that I've been following the mom's blog. I know that it was hard for them to commit initially to adopting, because of the cost. They are counting on  God to provide since He has called them to this task. It made me feel so good to know that my donation might put them a tiny step closer to them bringing home their new daughter.  The second child/group, I gave to the older child fund that includes one little girl that has stolen my heart. I have become her prayer warrior (through Reece's Rainbow)  and I pray for her everyday and think of her constantly.  Her picture is on my refrigerator, but I don't have to have my eyes open to see it.  I worry that even if someone (wish it could be me) tries to rescue her...that it might not come soon enough.  She has been in an institution for 2 years, most don't survive there that long.  When Jessie and I say prayers together at night, we pray for her. Last night was the first time Jessie said her name...the way she pronounced it I will think of often sweet.

There a million good causes and at times it feels overwhelming to me.  I shared with my husband last night though, I KNOW God put this one on MY heart.  He knew how different this one would be for me because of Jessie.  Some days the burden for Corinna hurts so much I can hardly stand it. I love a little girl so much that I have never met.  The truth is God knew and I know, that if it didn't hurt this way I would be less faithful in praying for her.  Sometimes it is hard to be faithful when we can't see any results, or know that we truly make a difference.  Last night when I made the donations online, that felt GOOD!!!!!!!! Every day when I pray for Corinna, just as important, doesn't feel so good at all, it hurts, but is just as vital.  So, feels awfully good...except when it hurts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Pictures

Jordan and Evan with their cousins Aaron and Keith on Thanksgiving...their idea of fun: Rock Band

Jessie with my sister-in-law's sister-in-law, (a mouthful!) Debbie . This is the pillowcase
dress I made her.  You can't see the fabric all that well, it is so cute with pilgrims, Indians, pumpkins!

Playing ball IN THE KITCHEN!! with Cousin Emily

Jessie's favorite thing to do with Daddy is "box"! She's watched too much boxing with Daddy.
I took the cutest video of them boxing, but haven't learned how to upload that yet.
 He was able to get her to snuggle him for a minute instead while he was watching football.

Sweet sisters. Jessie sleeps with Jordan and has for a few months now. She used to
sleep with us.  Jordan is ready now for Jessie to sleep in her own bed, but none of us have
been up for that battle yet.  Jessie snuggles Jordan over to the edge and throws her leg over her.

Boo sleeps with the girls too, and sometimes one of our 2 cats.

Sweet Boo, a dog that now knows it is good to love and be loved.