September 28, 2016

the twilight zone of Justice Tirian

This is a picture of Justice just moments after loosing his lunch all over his bib and side......crazy, right?! 

Justice turned 11 months yesterday. And when I was thinking over the month-what he'd learned, what his milestones were- it was all heavily overshadowed by one all consuming fact. Justice barfs. And not just a little bit of spit up, oh no. He goes hardcore exorcist on everything around him. I think we probably perpetually smell like puke. I have started putting a thick blanket down under his crib because his carpet was getting so stained from all the throw up from his nearly nightly barfing episodes. He would calmly go to sleep and then about 2 or 3 hours later he'd wake up, fuss a little bit and then start loosing his cookies all over everything ( and everyone, if you were the lucky parent who tried to pick him up and calm him down). I started making notes in my phone and he probably throws up about 7 to 10 times in a week on average. I've learned a few tricks to help him from barfing EVERYTHING know, make it a "small barfing event" rather than a cataclysmic "now we need to clean the whole house and do three loads of laundry" type thing, but so far I have yet to find a reason or a pattern for the actual throwing up.  He's had blood work done to see if he's allergic to anything. Nothing.
I've taken things out of his diet that he seemed to throw up a lot. But nothing seems to make a difference. I've waited longer after giving him milk before putting him to bed at night and I have learned to never ever push food or drink on him-even if it means that he hasn't had more than a few ounces of milk or water in a whole day!* If I DO try to get him to drink or eat when he pushes it away, then I am most DEFINITELY in for it... It seems to be worse when he has a cold. Then he'll up his barfing to a whole new level. And maybe the fact that he's teething right now? its not like he's snotty or anything....but maybe?! Maybe...maybe....every day I'm considering another possible theory. And yet the the barfing continues. Night and day. The longest stretch we've gone without him throwing up in the past few months has been three days. Randomly at a meal, while playing, after going to bed, while getting his diaper changed...sitting, standing, laying down....You never know when he might let loose.

But here's the thing. Justice is a pretty chill and laid back baby. He can be a little fussy before he actually throws up, but rarely. He's always suuuuper happy after the fact. And yes, he's small for his age ( he was in the tenth percentile at his 9 month appointment, and since things have not gotten better, and have possibly gotten worse since then-I can only imagine where he is now, and I doubt its very high), and when I weighed him today after about 2 weeks, he'd actually LOST weight from the previous two weeks. So yes. He's small, but he's still got cute chubby cheeks and squeezable thighs...

*So you can imagine how his lack of eating and drinking also stresses me out! He keeps loosing weight! He completely cut me off breast feeding about half way through the past month, but he refuses all bottles and everything but a regular straw for drinking. So its not like he went from breast feeding to getting his milk in some other fashion! Oh no, this kid drinks like my 6 year old, just a little here and there- in fact, now that I think about it, my 6 year old may drink more then he does!

I feel like people are just so chill about his barfing when we're around others or when I tell people about it. No one else seems to be worried. And most of the time I'm not worried either. And then he throws up again.
I feel like I'm living in a twilight zone. Where most of the time it looks like I live with a totally normal 11 month old, but on the side I live with a weirdly sick child. And I don't have the answer. And its driving me crazy.


I saw this print on Instagram from one of my favorite artists Ruth Simons and it immediately struck a cord. This is how I feel just about every single day. And right now it is the only thing I can cling to when I'm giving my kid his third bath of the day and doing yet another puke covered load of laundry. 

September 08, 2016

"How was your day?!"

This week marks Ransom's third week of school and Tabitha's first week of school ( using the word "week" loosely there because she only goes Tues/Thurs). It seems like the perfect time to give a "little " ( and by little I most definitely mean super long, so buckle up.) update on how we are all feeling regarding the new schedule, our decisions to send our kids off to various schooling systems this year etc.

First off, let's start with Justice. Poor dude. His little routine has taken a major hit, we've pushed and shoved naps into various different spots in order to accommodate his siblings ( hashtag third child problems). The bottom line is that while at first I was sad that Tabitha had to wait two WHOLE WEEKS to start her own little school program ( more on this in a minute), it turned out to be a major blessing. We were able to adjust a little bit at a time regarding Justice's napping  ( I often have to wake him up from his second nap to pick Ransom up from school and that kills me just a little each time I have to do it.)  as well as adjusting to having less fun and exciting children around to play with/observe/try to ruin their fun.  Bottomline, the jury is out on whether Justice will ever really like having his siblings in school. He would much rather nap when he wants and have two people who are ALWAYS entertaining to follow around all day.

As I alluded to early, Tabitha definitely struggled with sending Ransom off to school. Firstly she wanted to go to school too! She's showing more and more of her extrovertedness these days and as soon as she discovered that it was "school time" she was asking very few minutes when she might leave for school too! It was also hard visiting her school, for family night, two weeks before she actually began. She learned both her teachers names immediately and began to talk about school constantly. She also became a tad more demanding at home "by herself" with Justice and I, and is constantly wanting me to play with her. Turns out she misses having Ransom as a play mate far more than I thought she would! Let's just say everyone was relieved when she had her first day on Tuesday! 

The fun thing was, Ransom was almost as excited for Tabitha as she was, and the first thing he asked when we picked him up from school that day was how her day went. And as for her day, it went great. In a lot of ways I think we will learn more about Tabitha's school days then we ever did about Ransoms. When we picked her up on the first day, we learned more before we had even left the building then I think we had all year when Ransom was in Prek3! ( in case you are interested, she played doctor in Little Town, did a parachute dance-though they didn't have balls in it like they do at the library!-had apples and cheese for snack, she made a friend who did not like cheese, and they read a book about a dog.) My favorite part of the first day was the confident "Bye Mom." and the quick hug before she ran off to play with magnet blocks. This girl was MADE for preschool! 

My next favorite part is walking through the quiet and clean children's museum an hour before they open as we drop Tabitha off. Its so cool that the museum is their own private play place for a whole hour before it opens! And knowing how they take EVER. SINGLE. detachable playing toy and sanitize it at the end of the day makes me kind of happy too. The one sad thing about the class is that there is only ONE other girl in the class! I mean, Tabitha is no stranger to playing with boys-she's been doing it for years with Ransom and his friends-but I was hoping for more girl friends for her this year. Thankfully she and the other little girl ( aka the girl who doesn't like cheese) in the class are already getting along great.

And now for Ransom. We knew going into this year that Kindergarten was going to be an adjustment. But thankfully it was not as rough as I thought it would be! Not by a long shot! Ransom was genuinely excited about going and was a ball of  happy nerves and excitement on the first day! I've learned from these short first three weeks that our home as exactly one "morning person" in it, and his name is Ransom. The rest of the family, including Tabitha, speak in monosyllables for a solid hour while Ransom is almost immediately wide awake and ready to discuss which one of his cool t-shirts he is going to wear that day. The 7am alarm is far harder on me and probably Tabitha then anyone else. When we went to meet his teacher the Friday before school started, I instantly liked her. And my instincts seemed to hold, when on the first day of school she was insistent upon letting us know about an incident with another kindergarten teacher who had yelled at Ransom and made him cry followed with a description of all that she had done to make Ransom feel better. Honestly, Brett and I were more worried about whether Ransom had DESERVED to be yelled at ( probably), rather than our son crying. But she was so sweet and sensitive and obviously upset with the other teacher and their actions, that I knew my uber-sensitive son was in the right class. 
 And speaking of crying. My goal for the first two weeks was to go two days in a row without Ransom having a random melt-down when he got home from school. And by random, I mean random. One day he lost it in a ball of tears about spilling some ranch dressing on his water bottle while eating his afternoon snack. Yeah. His tears came from seemingly no where and were always very intense and lasted a while. One day he cried over remembering an incident that had happened earlier in the day when he'd hurt his chin on a hand railing. Believe me when I say, it was hard for this non-feeler mother to have the right amount of sympathy for these outbursts. But I did know they were more a symptom of Ransom holding in all his "strong emotions" all day at school. They were symptom of him having to be around lots and lots of people and peers for hours and hours. For a little introvert, it was very hard work. So, it wasn't that I wanted the crying fits every day to end because they were inconvenient, but because it would show me that he was learning to adjust. Thankfully now, in week three, he's already done sooooo much better, and I can tell he's starting to level out a bit. Maybe learning to pace himself emotionally throughout the day when it comes to his socializing? But, his coping skills do seem to be maturing. HOORAY! My favorite thing about school for Ransom so far is how much I miss him, I know that sounds strange, but I have so much more emotional capacity for his outburst ( when he has them) now that he's at school! My second favorite thing is seeing how much he really does love school! He's already reading more-something he knew how to do at the end of last year but had zero interest in doing-but something about "being in school" has made him embrace his already known abilities. He talks about his friends a lot and tells us about their electives -gym, music and library ( definitely his favorite part of the day) and while we don't get as much information as we do from, say, Tabitha- if we're patient he does give us pieces of information throughout the afternoon and evening. He loves picking a book out at the library. He likes dancing in gym class and he loves to run errands for his teacher. He also loooooves getting to eat from the cafeteria one day a week  (it costs $2.20 so we read the months calendar and then circle one day a week that he particularly likes- you would think that they were a 5 star restaurant the way he raves about their "star shaped cheese sandwiches! hah! But, really, I think he just likes getting to make his own choices about all the different sides and drink etc.)  My least favorite part about school is how LONG it is! This would also be Ransom's least favorite part too. If given a choice I don't think he'd want to stop going, but he WOULD want to shorten his day! He often prays that school would be shorter during his nightly prayers, and I too wish that kindergarten was still a half day thing. Sigh.

Thankfully, I feel that with more "practice" at this whole "school business"- God will answer his prayers, by making the day "seem" shorter.

August 25, 2016

Get out of Jail free Card

Yesterday was not my best day. I let my kids watch "bonus" screen time while I cried over my kitchen sink. After two weeks of me calling and badgering them after I realized that a SIGNIFICANT portion of our photos and videos were inexplicably missing from our cloud drive, an Amazon representative spent and hour on the phone with me "letting me down easy" that I would never, ever see all the pictures and videos from October 2015-May 2016 again. Sure, it would have taken me hitting the delete button like 10 different times to delete a solid 700 pictures, but apparently it had to be me ( or someone else who has access to our pictures), and not Amazon, because they just don't do that.

Bottomline: Hilary should take note, if she wants to store top-secret secure documents and then delete them so that NO ONE CAN GET THEM BACK then she should be using the Amazon Cloud. *eye roll*

This left me crying into my pillow and eating the biggest bowl of Two Cookies Bluebell ( new favorite! Why hasn't someone combined cookies n' cream and cookie dough ice-cream before?!!) because this is not my favorite week anyway...this is the week when we look back and shake are heads that its really been 4 years since we were fighting for Tabitha and Priscilla's lives....August 25 2012 is the day we lost Priscilla. Today is hard for me even now.  Sure, four years distance has made it easier, but its still a little weighty. And I think it would be easy to just wallow a bit. I think that's fair, right?!

But I read something this morning,in Acts 16:25, that really reminded me what an opportunity these moments bring, it says:

" At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." 

Paul and Silas had been thrown in prison, without trial, after preaching the gospel, they really didn't know what was going to happen to them and yet there they were praising God, and the other prisoners were listening.  

I so often take advantage of my "midnight" moments and get a good wallow in ( see: facebook status from last night), but I'm missing opportunities there, sure its not wrong for me to cry about things that are hard, but what an incredible testimony of Paul and Silas! What an audience they had there in the prison as all the other prisoners listened. Because, they were not alone in the prison!!!! I think, so often, when I'm having my cry-over-the-kitchen-sink moments,  I feel so very very alone, but in reality I can't tell you how many people have told me similar stories of losing all their pictures, all their journal entries from a certain important period, their Journaling Bible with their letters to their unborn and new babies....story after story! The truth is, NONE of us are alone in our struggles, we are SURROUNDED by people struggling. 
And then there are the harder things, like losing a child, that seem almost insurmountable, but we can be assured that we aren't alone in those heart aches either! Maybe the heart ache looks different, or has a different story, but the bottom-line is that NONE of us are alone at midnight. NONE of us are alone in prison. 
The difference is that I have the Hope of Jesus in my midnight moments. I have the Hope of Jesus in my prison moments. I should not keep that to myself! 

I am sorry for being a bit on the "woe is me" side yesterday, but today I want to share my story, my struggle ( because it is still a struggle! Its not all roses!), but most importantly I want to share my HOPE and my God. Because there are other prisoners in here with me. 

August 12, 2016


This past weekend we headed to Nacogdoches for Ransom's birthday celebration with family. While we were there, I sat down for coffee with my friend Esther who had taken on the job of doing a grammar edit of my book. Essentially I had given it to her in a hot mess of runon sentences and an over use of ALL CAPS and she had returned it to me covered in a sea of green ink (so kind of her not to use red. It might have killed me.)

As it turned out, I do not really write with punctuation in mind at all. I know this doesn't surprise you in the least since you all read this blog and it is never well edited either. But, I was an English Major and I DO ( see?!?! I can't stop it!!!) actually know how to write a proper sentence. The thing is, every time I tried to edit my book for myself I would get caught up in the weeds of making some sentence sound better. It was horrible. I could NOT get it done. NOT EVEN A LITTLE. Besides, it took another person doing an intervention to make me take out all those ALL CAPS. Because apparently I like to YELL AT PEOPLE in written form.


Annnnyway, so there we sat, and as I passed her a big ol' fat check it really hit me that this can not just be a trifle that I'm doing as a cute little hobby in my spare time any more. For one thing, you just don't invest this much time or now-money, without it holding a little bit more weight than that.

It's an awful feeling, because now its starting to hit that once again I've gotten myself into one of those "rejection" type situations. You know, like apply for college or deciding to cast all caution to the wind and date that cute boy with good hair, or submit your resume for that job you really want- all those things are now happily in my past. Right where I want them to be, because I do not enjoy rejection. It didn't help that at that moment when I realized how serious this was all becoming- Esther asked me casually "Just what made you decide to write this book, anyway?!"

In that moment I wanted to run away, crying "I don't knoooooooowwww!" But instead I think I smiled and said, "Because God told me to!" -which is entirely true...I never would have started this endeavor if I hadn't heard it quite so clearly. And yet. And yet, now that I'm here, 3 years in...wondering where I'm going to go once I put all these corrections into my digital copy. Thinking that the response I get from second person (other than myself) to read it through is "Why did you write this!?"- well...sigh....isn't probably a great start.
I have a feeling this whole "book business" is going to be a Personal Growth Endeavor. Which I hate.  

So, the bottom-line is: This fall I should be ready to start looking for a book agent and that is a nightmare of a thought.

July 29, 2016

Daughter Date

At the beginning of the summer I had a Mommy/Daughter date planned for Tabitha and I, but due to the craziness of life and Brett being out of town I had to cancel it last minute.

Thankfully this past week I received a text from my sweet friend Katie inviting Tabitha and I to join her and her daughter for a play at the local children's theatre. I jumped at the chance and I think it was a grand success ( even though the play itself was decidedly awful*)

If you don't mind I'm going to document our little date here so that one day I can look back and smile ( read: bawl my eyes out)

We started our date in good girl fashion by picking out our outfits and getting ready. I let Tabitha wear whatever she wanted and when she heard the name of the play we were going to see was "La Cinderella" she made her choice very quickly!  She then went on to pick my outfit for me and also the accessories that we both wore.  She was also very much insistent that she and I wore the same lipstick and then she made sure to pack her lip smackers "lip stick" in her puppy purse for the much needed re-application later in the night.

We then took "prom style" pictures by the front door while Daddy and brothers fawned over her. ( Seriously, Ransom's compliments and kisses for his sister were so sweet! Sure, he was mostly excited just to get his "guys night" started with Daddy...but he also accomplished making his sister feel special, which was great.

Then off we went in the car by ourselves. Tabitha tends to really like going on little trips alone with me , I know this because she always starts telling me how much she loves me every few minutes. Tabitha's love language: Quality Time.

I asked Tabitha what music she wanted to listen to and she asked for the "dust to diamonds" song. Luckily, we listen to enough Christian Radio that I was able to narrow down which song she meant pretty quickly, and found it on demand on the Amazon Prime Music App.

After listening to her song several times in a row followed by a few listens of "Let it Go" and "Move it, Move it" and her letting me know that her REAL favorite songs were Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the ABCs song, she then admired the clouds and the beautiful sky- finally arrived at dinner with our friends.

We had a tasty dinner at a wonderful cafe called Cafe Lorraine downtown at The Pearl and my only regret is that we were a little rushed and didn't get to "savor" our time there as much as I would have liked! It's kind of a dreamy spot for a little ( or big) girl on a date complete with a green lawn, twinkle lights and tasty food... we definitely got a lot of stares from admiring "fans" as we paraded back to our cars to head to the theatre....little girls in frilly dresses and crowns will do that.

We carpooled to the theatre, and my friend and I enjoyed listening to Tabitha and her friend chat in the backseat, overheard:
"It's important to obey your Mommy and Daddy!"
"Oh yes, and to be sweet and kind...AND PATIENT"
"YES! Patience is very very important. And to be loving and share...."

Haha!  Honestly I wish I had recorded more of their little chatter!

The Magik Theatre is super cute and decorated with a child's eye in mind and I think Tabitha and her little friend were kind of overwhelmed with the stage and the seating. We ate jelly beans ( that had been conveniently packed in Tabitha's puppy purse) and the girls "read" their programs. Sadly the play itself was a bit too "old" for our girls, and yet, because of some of the crude jokes and crass choices, I'm honestly glad our girls were too young and hopefully didn't notice or get most of what was happening. My friend and I were definitely bummed that Children's theatre has clearly lost its innocence and that we now have to "preview" theatre as well as movies...but such is life! And we ended our night playing in the WONDERFUL Hemisphere Park: Yanaguana Garden. I had read about it opening a while ago, but had totally forgotten that it was open! Anyway, the girls ended up playing for a while and enjoying the "late night" ( it was already an hour past their bedtimes!).

Tabitha was verrrry sleepy when she got home, but was met at the door by here very excited brother who had clearly had a great night too!

July 25, 2016

Life hacking

Who else can believe that July is almost over?!?! Who else is ready for fall to just come already?!? Is it just me, here suffering in the South?!  I know my daughter, for one, is ready....she heard my friend talking about Pumpkin Patches the other day and has asked to go every day since. She even resorted to some mind tricks by praying about it during her nightly prayers, "..and thank you for letting us go to the pumpkin patch soon." ...well played, daughter but sadly even Jesus isn't gonna conjure up a pumpkin patch for you in 112 degree heat.

Anyway, as the summer has rolled on and we've dealt with the hubs being gone for business several times, plus fussy babies, and hot hot hotness....I've collected a few "life hacks" that have helped me survive. Here they are:

Hack #1: Smuckers PBJ Uncrustables.  Sure, its not hard to make a PBJ and I make at least 3 of them basically 350 days out of the year- because that's all my children ever want to eat for lunch, ever. HOWEVER, there is something truly magical about dropping a few dollars at Costco to get the 18 pack of these puppies and then come lunch time just throwing them on a plate next to the Manna from Heaven that is Pirates Booty and a giant pickle and calling it "lunch". It will take approximately 65 seconds after walking in the house from swimming lessons for lunch to be on the table. This is very important because that is also 65 seconds TOO LONG for a certain hungry baby who wants to be nursed. Now. Basically whether its Uncrustables or some other food that you've found to be fast and "mildly" nutritious, I'm telling you to just GO WITH IT. Not ever meal has to be filled with the food pyramid. Sometimes something's gotta cut yourself a big fat break ( or a piece of zucchini bread made from all those zucchinis that are in season, I bet if you cut yourself some of that will be better, guaranteed)

Hack #2: Swimming lessons. If you spend money on ONE THING this summer, let it be swimming lessons...but if you DON'T want to spend money on this, did you know that MOST cities provide FREE swimming lessons!?! Look it up! Because, in our house, if Daddy is going to be gone then we're gonna need something to do every single day. This is important for many reasons. Tiring out children. Also it is a ready answer for when Ransom asks me "what are we going to do today?" for the trillionth time.-swim lessons are at the top of the list for ALL summer lists, and if you haven't done yours yet, you need to RECTIFY. Also, I suppose its icing on the cake if my children actually learn to swim. The jury is out on that one. As a former lifeguard going to the pool can by highly stressful. I mostly want to spend the whole time scanning the pool for drowners and yelling at children who aren't my own to "stop running". That said, it is VERY important to me that my children are able to swim without floaties- because, turns out, my kids don't actually wear floaties 24/7 in the off chance that they are near a body of water. How many kids have I saved who fell in the pool when their families were either just arriving or just leaving the pool!?! Yup. A lot.

Hack #3: Baths. I've trained my older two children to "go take a bath" without any oversight at all. This is wonderful for lazy me, but maybe not so wonderful when you're trying to get "clean children" out of the deal. But I gave up on that a long time ago so we'll just settle for "wet children". And, if you play your cards right- it can take up a whole 20 minutes of your day. That's gold.

Hack #4: CD player. I wrote a whole post on this. So I'll save my breath here. But let me just say, this puppy is getting a work out, and I'm loving it.

Hack #5: grocery shopping help. This summer, due to the insane heat and also me being me and therefore excessively lazy- I've hated going grocery shopping MORE THAN EVER. This is when I've started incorporating two different services into my life. One, Walmart Pick up , (ps if you use the code here, than you get $10 off! ) is AMAZING. Sure, they don't have TONS of locations yet, but I suggest you at least clicking on that link and putting in your zip code, because you never know-there might be one close by, and also if their isn't I have a feeling that if we all put our zip codes in over and over maybe they'll get a clue and put in more locations ( this is just a theory and not at all confirmed. Abigail Wishful Thinking, if you will). People have asked, and yes, I have gotten produce this way and I was actually surprised at the selection. I feel like in some cases they had a better apple selection then when I had picked them out myself.

Anyway, there is NO FEE for using the service ( only a $30 minimum) and you literally shop online and then drive up and PICK UP YOUR GROCERIES FROM YOUR CAR at the assigned time. Um. That's basically God's gift to me. We live in the golden age, people. GOLDEN AGE.

Two, I've used Amazon Prime's NOW which guarantee's to deliver certain items within two hours. This is a much more expensive endeavor, and I save it for "emergencies".  But I have used it to have Butter brought to my door when I had forgotten it and just could not face the 100 degree afternoon heat with my 3 children. A girls gotta do....

So, enough from me! What are your current Summer hacks?!? I've got another month of summer to get through, so I'm gonna need all that you've got! Let's get through this together...

June 30, 2016

Listening pleasure

Hello from the end of June! How did that happen!?! How did I get through the whole first month of summer without doing even half the things on my "summer to-do list"?! Is this just me?!!

Of course, to be fair, my to-do list looked like "clean out all five of your junk drawers-because no one needs that many junk drawers" ...but still....time is flying by!

I did want to check in before we get too far into July to share a little secret with you....this summer, due to all my "projects" ( junk drawer cleaning not included), I hadn't had as much time to read out loud to Ransom as I would like....THANKFULLY I purchased a cheap CD player on Amazon while Brett was out of town for work for several weeks. And if you haven't seen Ransom's Review of his latest book you can watch it now:

*side note* if you've spent ALL DAY with a 3 and 5 year old you will find that dinner time is a new level of hell for you. It is a terrible time of grumpy children who WILL hate all foods that don't start with P and end with A and have two Zs and I hate, hate, hate dinner time when Brett is gone. SOoOoOO in came the CD player, which I hoped to use to listen to books on CD while we ate so that my children would be too distracted by the story to complain about things like "green foods" and "things that aren't pizza"

The CD player turned out to be Ransom's new favorite thing and he will literally listen to books ALL DAY if I let him.

But the other thing that he has on absolute repeat are these gems that you all need to stop and purchase RIGHT NOW.

They are actually right out of my own cassette tape filled childhood and a few years ago I remembered them, did a little research and was happy to find that they'd been converted to CD and could be easily purchased online.

These wonderful stories are each based on a different composer and tell a fun little kid friendly story that tells you facts about that composers life, all the while playing a wide selection of his music in the back ground. Turns out this was how, to this day, I can "name that composer" about 90 percent of the time on my classical music station- and also smugly tell Brett that it was Beethoven's 7th Symphony that made that scene in the last X-men so powerful. All that said-these CDs are WONDERFUL even if you DON'T want to be a classical music snob.  They're really entertaining and a great way to fritter away an hour on your next road trip. Or if you're my kid, you'll just listen to them over and over again for a week straight.

Mama was not complaining.

So, here's the link to my three favorite. There are others. But you NEED to start with these three!

( if you don't mind, use my Amazon links above and I will benefit a tiny bit from your purchase.) 

June 02, 2016

Ransom Reviews: Indian in the cupboard

Friends, I'm here to share Ransom's first book review with you all. We finished his first "summer" book yesterday and I said, "Hey, Ransom lets do a video book report!" and that is all the instructions I gave. I thought it was funny that he introduced himself so professionally!

Anyway, I needed this little bright spot in my day since our brand new (very expensive) A/C went down in the middle of the night last night apparently do to a "loose wire" according to the repair guys. Um. Not ok.

Also, Justice was up half the night being upset about Life. At least that's what I'm going to assume the reason was-  I spent $25 for a doctors visit just to prove that he wasn't upset about anything that requires medicine. Money well spent (!?) That said, he's now in his room taking a nice, lovely nap and I'm having to be all adult and not nap because of the whole "having other children" business. Unfair.

Annnnywho, hope you enjoy Ransom's review. For anyone who's actually read The Indian in the Cupboard, do you find it interesting that Ransom does not mention ANY of the pretty stressful, high-suspense moments?! What does that say about him?! Let's psychoanalyze him in the comments section, shall we?! ( JUST KIDDING!)

June 01, 2016

Summer reading fun!

So, as we head into summer something that we will NOT be stopping around our house is read-aloud-books! If there is anything I feel suuuuuper passionately about its reading aloud to my children. I've got a MAJOR soapbox issue when it comes to reading and I believe the reason so so many kids today struggle with it and downright don't enjoy reading is because they were not read TO enough! ( which is a TRAGEDY!):

Personally, I think reading to our children, or rather just having books read to our children* is the absolute best way for our kids to gain a desire to read more ( they realize what they're "missing" and want to practice reading more) and better. After all, if they're just familiar with books on their own reading level ( aka often very short, not very developed plot wise, usually not particularly captivating ) then they're never going to really have a desire to work harder to get to all of the AMAZING books that are out there!!!

But first let's get to that asterisk* : Reading out loud is actually not just the 'act of reading words on a page in an out loud voice.' It is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.  You also have to think about what the listener is hearing, you have to master inflection ( scary passages in a scared voice, happy passages with an upbeat rhythm etc, ) and speed ( not too fast, not too slow).  And as it turns out not a lot of people know this, or have taken the time to practice. Because, yes, it takes practice. I know for a FACT that I have gotten better at reading aloud to children since having my own children. Practice does indeed make perfect, or it at least shows you areas that you need to work on. If your kid keeps getting up and walking away then MAAAAYBE just maaaaybe its not the book that is boring ( although, to be fair, that's possible too) but maybe its your monotone reading voice. But, don't worry....if  dramatic reading is not something you're up for then please PLEASE do not think that read-aloud books are not for you and your kids! In fact, don't even feel like this is some kind of great fault! Not everyone is cut out for dramatic reading, but have no fear, thanks to modern technology read-aloud books can be in your future too!
Studies say that kids who see their Dad's reading and are read to by their father's are more likely to read themselves. 
Crazy. But apparently true. 

Start by, thinking about the time you spend in the car (Everyone with one of those awful built in DVD players in their car, PUT THEM AWAY! You are WASTING perfectly good car time! *unless you're on vacation for hours and hours in which case, lets all watch Kung Fu Panda 1-3 please and thank you) Instead, hit up your neighborhood library and check out a million and one books on CD! I promise, that if you start by doing it in the car ( where your child is already strapped in) then your child will also be 'trained' in being a good book listener ( because yes it does take practice to be a listener too! Ransom started out not loving it, but only doing it so he could get screen we're at the point where he doesn't even get the screen time any more but just asks for more chapters! AAMAAAAAZZZZING!) . Pretty soon you and your kids will all be delving into a wonderful world of books too!!!
Not a chapter book exactly, but we do a lot of reading for all ages around here. 

Ok! So those who are ready to start practicing reading aloud, the good news is that most of the books that are great for being "starter" read aloud books ( fast paced, fun, short chapters) are also pretty easy to you and your kids can grow together! And also those of you who just want to hit up the audio books-that's great too! Or hey a great mix of both is also wonderful! I know this summer I plan on doing both!! I'll just say there are a BUNCH of great reading resources that have good reading lists for kids divided by age group particularly on Pinterest. But for fun, and also because this way I will have my list in one easy to reach place, here is the tentative list of the books we'll be reading this summer:

We even read on vacation!! 

The Indian in the Cupboard ( we're currently reading this and Ransom HATES it when I stop reading...we're reading about 3 chapters a day and he's pleading for more).

So there you go! These are the books I've come up with for our summer reading, and I probably need to add just one or two more to fill up the summer at the rate we are going! I think I'm going to do a little blogging project with Ransom after we've finished with each book- maybe a little video book report or something, I haven't decided yet, but it'll be fun ( and probably funny!) so stay tuned! 
Also, let me know if you have any great titles on YOUR reading list for the summer that you're excited to read/listen ! I'd love to hear about them and maybe read along with you! 

I wear a lot of white shirts while reading out loud apparently....

May 26, 2016

A couple of very important life lessons:

Look how little they were exactly one year ago on moving day! 

A few days ago we celebrated ONE YEAR of being in our house!! WHAAAAAT!?!?! Thanks Timehop for letting me know! Honestly, things were SO crazy a year ago with renovations and packing and being pregnant that I hadn't kept the exact day in my memory banks- its hard enough to remember THREE KIDS birthdays. Whew! Tough stuff. 
So thanks to my time hop app I learned that we'd been doing life in our house for a whole 366 days. Of course, come to find out, the house itself clearly remembered that it had been exactly a year because it chose that day exactly to give us the typical first anniversary gift, and allow the HVAC to go the way of the ghost and start leaking water into our garage. We then learned several things: 

1. Our warranty company had lied to us the year before when we'd questioned them about the A/C-saying that we thought it might need replacing. They'd said "ooooh noooo, its totally fine!"  Ok. Just kidding. Maybe "lie" is a strong word. Maybe when they look at something that's totally rusted out they think that actually means "could probably survive another year."- poTAto/PoTAAAto. 

2. When the house was inspected only one year before they'd failed to mention that the A/C was not up to code- and had RANDOM venting and piping going into crazy-and unhealthy places. Like, say, our guest bathroom ( venting) and the garage ( piping). Cool. Very cool. Sorry Bro-in-law who lived in our guest suite for about 7 months, hope you don't have any long lasting effects of the weird venting business. EEEEKKK! 

3.Apparently our savings account was about to be depleted. like whoa. HVACs are Not. Cheap. 

So, so much learning. So much growing as a person. Honestly, could it GET any better when it comes to being all grown up!?!! I submit not! When you're playing house when you're 7 years old THESE were the moments I tried to replicate: vetting a/c repair companies and trying to decide just how much money you can afford to give over up front and how much you're going to have to be forced to pay over time. YAY! That's exactly how I played house as a kid. *sigh* 

As I joked with Brett, I'm SO glad that we decided to go away to the beach last weekend because its clearly the last VACAY we're having for a long while.

 ( side note: I hate debt. The first debt we'd had since we were very first married was buying our house last year, I kept telling myself that having a house note is NOT THE SAME THING, but in my mind it is and I won't be fully happy again until we don't have any debt at all, that said, sometimes your A/C dies and you live in a city where you need an A/C 10 months out of the year and those apparently cost a fortune and you have to go into debt for that...and apparently a lot of people think debt is no big deal, but it will seriously eat away at me until this is paid sorry, that's just me making a mountain out of a mole hill. Promise I will now stop complaining about my little bitty problems. Sigh. )

Speaking of, have you ever taken a "quick weekend vacation" with three kids under the age of 6?! Its cool. real cool. But seriously. I've learned a couple of things that will make that vacation a success and here they are: 

1. Don't get a hotel room! You can find a beach house for the same price, sometimes cheaper! Airbnb, Vrbo, they all make it SUPER easy to find something that'll fit your needs. 

2. Make sure said beach house has a LAUNDRY ROOM. I did 4 loads of laundry in two days. Basically every time we went to the beach I did a load of laundry. It reduced the sand and grossness of the beach aspect by 1 trillion points. Also, kids, they seriously make a lot of laundry! This made returning home a few days later a breeze because laundry was already done. boom. 

3. Take basic groceries and a million billion snacks along.  Taking groceries, even going to a legit grocery store ( not just a corner store where the cost of milk is the cost of a small midsize sedan) while on vacation can really cut costs. And my kids are just always better behaved when they have eaten their weight in Pirates Booty. ( Do you not know about Pirates Booty?!? Its basically the #1 mom approved junk food of toddlers everywhere, go buy yourself a bag as big as your body at costco and thank me later). 

4. Don't forget the pack n' play. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, but this happened and we had to drive 30 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy a new one. Oooops. But at least it was much more fun going to Wal-Mart on vacation then on just a normal day, right?!?! ( I also bought donuts and muffins and Tabitha complimented me on my shopping skills, she's clearly been judging my bad grocery shopping silently from the cart for 3 years, apparently I've been "over buying" when it comes to all those fruits and veggies and good proteins I've been insisting on purchasing all these years. ha!) 

5. Get a house that has a giant TV so that your kids will wake up extra early because they are SO EXCITED about watching cartoons on the giant TV. Sigh. 

6. Thanks to having a beach house 2 minutes from the beach we would put swim suits on the kids before we left the house and just pack a pair of underwear for the end of the day, we'd then just pull off swimsuits next to the van ( discretely hiding under towels etc) and they'd ride home in undies to take a serious shower. Yup. Our kids stripped down in our van and rode around in their undies. We are AWESOME. 

7. Get a fully detailed car clean when you get home. Seriously, it will be needed, even though we did the whole "ride home in your undies" thing there was still plenty of sand and crushed gold fish in our van....also, I hear that salt water is bad for your car?!?! So drop a chunk o' change and get that sweet ride detailed. But also, it took 2 and a half hours!!!! WHAAAAAT!?!?!? Clearly they had never seen a car so dirty....

So there you go!! Hopefully you gleaned a few little life lesson nuggets from this post- or at the very least got a laugh or two at our expense. If you enjoyed this, feel free to send me a check for a million dollars. Kidding, kidding....but really. For the first time EVER I'm considering selling my soul to the Mommy Blogger wagon....  But don't worry, I will resist and you'll continue to read my blog for unsolicited and unsponsored opinions because that's just the kind of lazy/nice I am. 

May 24, 2016

We did it!! Homeschooling year in review!

Tonight I threw a little "end of school party" for the kids and some of our homeschool friends! It mostly started because I bought some of those amazing water balloons that fill up like 50 of them in a minute flat ( man, I'm a SUCKER for those things! They are as much fun to me as they are to the kids! haha!) and it quickly morphed into a full on water party in our back yard. It ended up being SO much fun with ten kids running around making our back yard into a lake. And I'm so glad we did it because homeschool kids need an end of the year party too!!

Plus, I feel like celebrating! I honestly cannot believe we were able to accomplish so much this year considering we also had a BABY in the smack middle of the year! WHEW! But accomplish we did, Ransom can now read about 50+ sight words and has a strong understanding of sounding words out. He has mastered the Level 1 readers in the Learn-to-Read section of the library ( best way to describe it) and has really learned to love reading by way of being read TO ( which in my opinion is the biggest accomplishment!). Together we've read about 10 chapter books this year. He's also learned to add and subtract numbers from 1-10, tell basic time ( mostly just the hours and the quarter and half hours...still struggling with the minutes a bit), basic graphing and number line work. He can count to 100 and understands and can work with 10s and ones.
We've learned about half a dozen different countries and their culture and geography. He's learned about maps and flags and some basic knowledge of the United States as well as our home state of Texas.

As far as "Knowledge" goes I feel like we did a pretty good job of mastering kindergarten. And yet....

There are some things that we're struggling with. Things that in the end have helped us to make the decision to send Ransom to Kindergarten again. This time it'll be at the local elementary school right down the street. While I still second guess our decision I am ultimately excited to see what next year will bring. For one thing, I know that only GOD truly knows why this was the right call for Ransom for next year, and I'm interested to see how that reveals itself. For instance, this past year, if you'll remember-I wondered WHY God made it clear that homeschooling was the way to go especially since I was going to have a baby! Well, that became all to clear when we spent a week in the hospital with Justice and Ransom and Tabitha were able to not worry about missing any school! God is so faithful!

In the end what really helped me make up my mind regarding our decision to send Ransom to public school next year was when I finally sat down and made a list of the goals I had for him to accomplish. Of my goals for him for next year only ONE of them was academic ( read  fluently)- the rest were things like: Learn to be OK when the schedule changes and is different from what he expects. Learn to get along with a larger verity of people. Learn to be OK being alone in a room for any length of time. Learn to play by himself. Have greater understanding of people from different backgrounds.

Now, I'm not saying that these goals for Ransom will be accomplished at public school, and I also reserve the right to call it a big fat failure and take him out of school after a month! But the bottom-line is that with a few of those goals I HAVE tried a lot of things to help Ransom and we've gone backwards instead of forwards ( for instance the not wanting to be alone in a room has only gotten worse as the year has progressed!) and so I am curious, as the door to public school stands open to us, if it will benefit Ransom in these areas of struggle and growth. Also, since Ransom will only be turning 6 a week before school starts, it seemed like a good idea to give him the "head start" of having to not necessarily worry about any of the academic stuff this next year while he deals with a lot of the more emotional elements of being in school. In that regard I feel very good about having this next year be his "official" kindergarten year!

So there it is! I do hope that homeschooling is something that we do again the future, and even though, I'm not gonna lie, the idea of having a bit more "freedom" in my own day sounds kinda amazing and having hopefully a little more emotional capital to give to my kids by the end of the day sounds pretty incredible too ( homeschooling has been an EMOTIONAL roller coaster! whew!), I know that this is something we will return to again as an option by the end of next year! ( This whole each year, each child method might get a bit tiring for you readers so maybe I'll spare you the emotional will they/won't they upheaval next year!)

And incase you're curious: Next year Tabitha will be doing a two days a week/3 hour preschool at the Doseum . THIS I am SO excited about! I know she is going to absolutely loooooove having her very own 'activity' to do and a place to spend with new friends. She's definitely my little social butterfly and I can't wait to watch her spread her wings a bit more this next year!

But don't forget, by August when all this supposed schooling starts I'll have an active and mobile 10 month old to keep me busy at home. Wouldn't want me to good bored or anything ;-)

Dear Family and Friends, I love being able to share our plans with you as well as some of the reasons why we choose what we choose for our children. Do keep in mind that I don't always share ALL our reasoning, however. And I know that you'll trust Brett and I to make the best decisions for our family. However sharing at least in part here on my blog is something I do because I also love to hear your thoughts and challenges and stories too! I was so pleased with the support I received last year when we decided to homeschool-from parents who did the same and also from parents who chose to send their kids to school, it was refreshing to remember that we each have different kids, different lives and different situations, but we ALL have loving our kids and wanting the best for them in common! I hope to see the same support from you all this year as well! And as always, thank you for loving and cheering us on! We feel it!

May 18, 2016

How to ( not) write a book: 25 easy steps

Step 1. Your wonderful husband is working the late shift today, meaning you got to sleep in a little bit and he helped out with the kids all morning. SCORE!

Step 2. Now, its 12:30pm and you aren't emotionally exhausted and drained of all life force and yet its almost nap time. Things are looking good!

Step 3. Put baby down for nap.

Step 4. Take toddler to potty.

Step 5. See pile of towels half way put away on the counter and remember you have laundry in the washer.

Step 6. Run and switch out the laundry

Step 7. Read stories to toddler and 5 year old.

Step 8. Put toddler down for rest time.

Step 9. Run around house finding her blanket and stuffed animal for her.

Step 10. Tell 5 year old that his "quiet time is starting"

Step 11. Tell him to stop following you around the house. QUIET TIME HAS STARTED.

Step 12. Realize you're incredibly thirsty. Probably because you haven't had anything to drink since your morning coffee at 8am. Oops

Step 13. Get yourself glass of water, realize lunch things are still all over the counter. BUT NO! You are focused! You WILL work on your book edits today!!



Step 16. Realize your computer is dead.

Step 17. Track down cord for computer.

Step 18. Settle into chair with computer and cord.

Step 19. Realize you left glass of water and baby monitor in room with 5 year old. Go retrieve it. Field questions about afternoon plans.

Step 20. Settle into chair with computer, cord, baby monitor and glass of water. YOU. ARE. SO. READY.

Step 21. Baby monitor starts beeping. Battery is dying. Go retrieve cord for baby monitor.

Step 22. Settle into chair with computer, cord, baby monitor and its cord, glass of water...You are SO READY to work! Then you realize that baby has now woken up.

Step 23. Just give up already.

Step 24. Write this post.

Step 25. Try again later?!?! !