Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kora!

Happy 14th birthday to our oldest child, Kora! Can't believe it's been 14 years since that chubby little girl came into our lives. She's a joy to us.
This was her face when she saw her favorite Christmas gift. She liked it so much we gave her another one for her birthday.
In case you can't see the paper, it just says we're going to pay for some horseback riding lessons. She's a quiet girl, not prone to exuberant shows of emotion, but for her this was ecstatic.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Year's Carol

It's the MOST wonderful time of the year!
The ads are are full of labeling machines,
The buckets, bins, and shelves are all here!
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

(Carol of the Type A, OCD People. Not that I know any.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Choir and Bell Choir

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas! Here's a bit of what we've been up to this season.

The last couple of years, the teens and kids at our church had prepared big dramas. This year, the formed a children's vocal choir and teen bell choir. They've been practicing all fall, and had two performances the week before Christmas.

The first was at a nursing home. Here's the kids warming up beforehand.
Ashlynn keeping an eye on the kids.
The bell choir. They did such a good job!
The kids.

It was such a cute performance. I just wish I had bought a video camera before hand!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I am taking the easy way out again this year by sending out a Christmas letter via email, facebook, and the blog. If it weren’t for these mediums, I wouldn’t get any Christmas greetings out at all!

This year has been pretty amazing. It’s been very hard, but through it we’ve seen God’s hand in our lives in very material ways. As most of you know, we lost Kelly’s mom to breast cancer last year. We’ve been dealing with learning to live without her this year. It’s been tough on all of us. It’s been hard on the girls who miss their grandmother, and hard on Kelly, of course. She was also a close friend of mine, and is greatly missed. My father-in-law has had the hardest time of all, of course. He had some health issues of his own to deal with after her death, and since then has been working on his masters degree in history. An avid military history enthusiast, he decided to turn it into a career. He has just completed all his requirements for the masters degree in just 8 months. He starts work on his doctorate in January at UNT.

Health and job challenges have dominated our family this year as well. Kelly’s desire for the last couple of years has been to leave the military contracting field that he had worked in since 2001. He really wanted to go into the civilian field. We started a computer repair business last year, which has remained very part time. However, he did receive an offer for a reverse engineering job back in May. He took it, even though it would still be government contracting, though not with the military. While they got his clearances and such done for this new job, they put him in an Air Force networking job that required shift work. He did this until October. The shift work was hard – my hats off to policemen and others who do this routinely. I know it is necessary, but very hard on families. This “temporary” job was looking like a permanent one: i.e. they didn’t seem to be moving to get things in place to move him in to the RE job they had hired him to do. So we started looking for yet another job. Then we got the word that this new company had lost the contract he was currently working on. He had a month to find a new job.

That was a VERY hard month. But of course, that was when God showed us that He is in control. After weeks of searching, resume submitting, etc., he had two interviews back to back, and was offered both jobs (though how all that came about is a long story). One of them is nearly his dream job, so of course that is the one he took in the end. It is with a company that does not do military contracting, but does supply chain management. He is the Quality Assurance Manager for the IT department of Operational Technologies here in San Antonio. They are growing like crazy and are in the process of a major expansion of their IT department, so this is a great time to have gotten on board. He loves his job, and I love having a husband who loves going to work every day!

He’s also had some health challenges this year, and we are still doing testing to see what he needs to do. We thought he had an ulcer but the test for that was negative. So that is on the agenda for the new year. I also lost my grandmother in September, so it has been a difficult time in my family.

In spite of a year when it seems we’ve all had our share of illnesses, the kids are doing great! I had a major foot injury last year, but it is holding steady this year, and I have no immediate need for surgery on it. I am staying VERY busy homeschooling the kids. I now have 5 kids studying in our “Smith Academy for Girls,” grades K, 2, 4, 7, and 9. The house, our church, our home school group, all keep my very busy. I’ve also been doing some proofing of my father-in-law’s papers for his masters – including his thesis – which I actually enjoyed. But I don’t know if I enjoy it enough to ever go back and do it myself.

Kora is almost 14 and started high school in August. We are still homeschooling, but this year, we tried a couple of online classes which are going great! She’s in a literature class that discusses the ancient literature she’s reading to go along with our history focus for the year, and I have REALLY enjoyed not having to discuss Confucius or the Odyssey with her! She is still taking piano and doing a great job at that as well. Her primary love is still horses. Though we live in the city, we had been praying for a way to allow her to explore this passion for horses. Then in June we found out about Triple H Equitherapy just outside SA. They use horses for handicapped kids and others and need lots of volunteers. So she’s been going out there about once a week and helping groom, tack, and lead the horses. She’s even been able to ride a little bit! She loves it, and has decided she wants to study horses in college. So she is hoping to get into A&M’s equine science department in a few years. She has also caught up to me in height and will soon pass me. And let’s not even talk about her feet! She also got braces this year, and she’d really rather not talk about those.

Aubrey (12) is still her father’s daughter. If you know Kelly, she’s pretty much a female version, smart mouth and all. Actually I think she got a double dose of that particular quality. She is also taking a co-op class this year, but it is a class here that we have to drive to. It is a writing class and she’s enjoying it as well. Her biggest accomplishment is that she is “moving up” to a different piano teacher. She’s been taking from one lovely lady who has decided she’s ready for the teacher who teaches Kora. She’s made big strides in her music and her teachers see a lot of potential there. She’s doing well in school, though I wouldn’t mention that to her right now. She’s in a hate/hate relationship with pre-algebra right now. Math has always come so easily to her that she gets frustrated now that she’s up in the higher level stuff and is actually having to work at it. Aubrey got her braces off this year, but will need them again, probably in 2011.

Brynna will be 10 soon. She started taking piano lessons this year, but that is just until she learns enough music to move onto the violin. She has been wanting to take violin for years, but her father and I said she needed a year or two of piano first. She started a few months ago and is doing very well at it and enjoys it. But we just bought her a violin – she cried when she saw it – and we’ll be looking for a teacher soon. She’s also still our bookworm – devours books and remembers nearly everything in them. About every month she changes what she wants to be when she grows up. I think the latest was a baker, but next month it will probably be an astronaut or something.

Hailey (8) is in 2nd grade and really learned to read this year and can pick up any book now. It took her a bit but she has caught up now. She had a very interesting summer. She and Brynna both learned how to ride bikes this summer. Hailey celebrated the fact by falling a week later and breaking her right leg – in two places. This was on July 6th – probably the worst day of my life - so she spent most of the summer in a cast. She actually had to go to a day surgical suite and be put under general anesthesia in order for the doctor to set it and cast her. She was in a leg cast for 5 weeks, a below-the-knee cast for another 4 weeks, and then a boot for 4 weeks. And no, she hasn’t been back on the bike yet. In fact all the girls are a little squeamish about doing that after seeing what Hailey went through.

Lauryn is six and started school this year. She’s learning to read and doing a great job. She’s still our little fairy, flitting around in a world of her own most of the time. We think she’ll be our tallest child, and is still built like a string bean, so if she keeps going like this, she’ll be built like a supermodel by 15. Her primary interests are princesses, mermaids, fairies, and barbies, though not necessarily in that order. She is very proud of just getting her ears pierced. Such is the life of a six year old. She was finally old enough to join the children’s choir at our church and just performed with her older sisters in the Christmas recital.

Ashlynn is, well, she’s TWO! She’s also our Dr. Jekyll and Miss Hyde. At home, she is quite precocious and downright bossy. She thinks she runs our house. When we get around anyone else – including grandparents – she’s incredibly shy. She clings to us and won’t talk to anyone else. She thinks she is as old as any of her sisters and gets quite frustrated when she can’t do something they can or when they don’t appreciate her helpful scribbles on their school work. She cracks us up all the time with her antics – and her singing! She sings great for a two year old! Too bad she won’t sing for anybody but us. My first new year’s project is potty training, which I always dread. But at least this is the LAST TIME! Yes, the LAST.
Well, that’s been our year in a nutshell. We are so thankful for God’s guidance and how He sustained us through the dark times. We are also looking forward to a better year! (Please, God?) We hope all of you and your have a blessed Christmas, a safe New Year, and wonderful 2011!

Merry Christmas,
Kelly, Tami, Kora, Aubrey, Brynna, Hailey, Lauryn, and Ashlynn Smith

Christmas Recital

A couple of weeks ago, we had piano recitals for the three oldest kids. This was Brynna's first recital, since she just started taking piano a few months ago. They were actually in two recitals at the same time - after Kora played
we snuck out the back and went down the hall of the church to the room where Brynna and Aubrey needed to play. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone!
This was also Aubrey's last recital under her current teacher. She's starting to take from Kora's teacher in January.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just what I always wanted

For "my" birthday, Kelly got "us" matching Houston Texans jerseys. Or, almost matching - the numbers are different. When he played football in school, his number was 56 (and he likes Cushing) so he chose that number for his. I'm not sure what message he's sending me by giving me a big ol' double zero for my number. :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Conversations with a 2 year old, verse 2

Ashlynn, now 2.5 yo, was putting the hood from the hoodie I was wearing on my head, all the way over my eyes. Then she would look at me and say:

Oh, Mama, you so cute!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Conversations with a 5 year old

Lauryn (5 yo): What's the sun made out of?
Me (trying to think of a way to simplify it for her): Gas that's on fire.
Lauryn: So it stinks?

She did not appreciate how long I laughed after she said that.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Air Show 2010

Today we went out to Lackland Air Force Base for the annual air show. We went with some friends from church, and the only that spoiled the day was that our camera batteries both went dead on us before we could take more than a couple of pics. We didn't get to stay for the whole thing - so we missed the Thunderbirds - but we had a blast. It was so cool to see the planes do things I'd only seen on tv. They also had Japanese and American planes from WWII "re-enacting" some of the battles of that war. Very cool stuff. Also very loud. Next time we are taking ear plugs and head phones. And sunscreen. And water bottles. And chairs.

Here's all 6 girls sitting on the side of a medical helicopter, one of the static displays.
And just for my dad, here's the older 5 standing in front of the chopper like they used in M*A*S*H.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wilderness

A month ago Kelly found out that the contract he'd been working, which was up for renewal, had not been awarded to the company he worked for, but rather had been awarded to a competitor. Thus he had 30 days to find a new job. In a way, we weren't terribly disappointed - the shift work schedule had taken a toll on our family.

It was a stressful 2-3 weeks, because though he had put in for many jobs and sent several resumes, it wasn't until last week that we really began to hear anything. Then all of a sudden he had multiple interviews within a week and was offered what looks to be a very interesting job with a good company with great benefits. So the result of this "bad news" is a better job with better hours, better pay, holidays off, and better benefits.

I have to admit to not being very peaceful during that month of uncertainty. I wondered what God was doing "to" us. Why, after a very hard year and a half, we were having to go through more, especially with holidays coming up on us. But then as I look back in the last year and a half, I haven't trusted in His sovereignty as much as I should have. I have questioned, doubted, distrusted, wavered. I just pray that this time in the wilderness has equipped me to face any giants that might be in the land in our future.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Guess It's Time

Early this morning, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet over my head coming from upstairs. As it wasn't quite 6 am yet, I figured Lauryn was getting up to go to the restroom. Just before I turned over and went back to sleep, I thought, "I need to tell Lauryn to quit running when she goes to the bathroom in the middle of the night."

As I was fixing Lauryn's hair this morning before breakfast, and before I can get on to her, Lauryn tells me:

"This morning, really early, Ashlynn got up and climbed out of her crib and went out of our room and then she went downstairs. I had to go after her to try to get her to come back into our room but she wouldn't come. And then I prayed with her because she was a little scared and then I finally got her to come back upstairs with me back to our room and I helped her back into her crib."

I'm glad I hadn't gotten on to Lauryn yet! I told her I thought it was her going to the bathroom, and she smiled and said, "No it was just Ashlynn." JUST Ashlynn.

Kelly and I have a couple of projects in the next two days. He needs to get the toddler bed down from the attic and I need to find a knob cover and put it on the INSIDE knob of Ashlynn's bedroom. I have nightmares about toddlers roaming the house in the night and either hurting themselves, setting the house on fire, or most likely, figuring out how to turn the dead bolt and escaping out the front door in to the dark of night.
My thoughts exactly, Ashlynn.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hailey's Birthday

Hailey's birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but I never got around to getting anything up on the blog about it. She received a pretty cross necklace from my parents. However, this was her 8th birthday, so she had been saving up to pay for part of her Life of Faith doll. Kora, Aubrey, and Brynna all have at least one, but we've always made the deal with them that we'll pay for part of it for a birthday and they have to pay for the rest. Since they are expensive dolls, we felt like they would take better care of them if they had to save up for part of it and realized how long that took.
She was very excited. Brynna has had hers for about a year and a half, and it was hard on Hailey not to have one to play with when they would play dolls (poor girl, she had to make due with just an ordinary doll). But now she has her own Violet doll.
And tomorrow she gets her boot off! Probably. It depends on the x-ray of course, but if it looks like the doctor expects, then she'll be back to normal tomorrow - a mere 13 weeks after she broke her leg!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chicken Fry

There are two things I never thought I'd learn to cook well. Really they are just two variations of the same thing, since they both start with "chicken" and "fried." The last time I attempted chicken fried chicken was in 1996. No joke. The chicken was still raw in the middle, and I've been scared to try ever since.

Chicken fried STEAK is another matter entirely. I have become quite good at making that if I do say so myself. But so does my husband. Of course, I don't make it more than once or twice a year. But today, since was my husband's birthday, I made it again. Yum! The best I've ever done. And the gravy was to die for. Double yum. And a salad - we aren't totally devoid of nutrition here. But we did top it off with cherry crunch and Blue Bell ice cream. But the salad makes up for it, right?

The only down side is that one of my two big burners went out on me, so I was making steak in one cast iron skillet and frying hash browns in another cast iron skillet on one of my small burners. Not ideal. And yes, just in case you were wondering, my Facebook post for the day went something like "Cholesterol for lunch." But it is a rare treat, so we thoroughly enjoyed it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good bye, Anne. Sniff, sniff

Last week, I finished reading aloud one of my favorite series of books to my girls. 'Course, it only took me over a year to finish it. I am consistently inconsistent when it comes to reading aloud to the girls. I know - I'll probably be kicked out of the home schoolers' club for that. But it is hard to find a time when we don't need to be doing something else and I can get and keep their attention.

I used to try it at lunch, but frankly I am usually starving and want to eat first. And by the time I'm done eating, they nearly are too and need to start cleaning up and the little ones get restless... However, while Kelly has been working swings we've adjusted our schedule to fit his. So we are eating our big meal of the day at lunch and eating sandwiches or leftovers for supper. And somehow it is easy for me to wait and eat after they do at supper now. So while they eat, I read. Then while they clean, I eat. It has worked great! We've finished two books in the last two months - a record for us.

I spent the last year reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series to the girls. These are hands down my favorite books from childhood. In fact, I still love them. We are reading out of my set I was given when I was about 12 or 13 and they are quite battered and ratty looking. The last book might be my favorite. Set during World War I, that book brought the "home front" home to me more than any history book I've ever read. The only problem is that I choke up all the time. I cry in several places in that book every time I read it, and reading it aloud? Well, it was really hard to get through at time. I'll never get a job recording audio books, that's for sure.

But it was sweet to share these books that I love so much with the girls. I think they have caught a share of my love for them as they would beg me to always "read another chapter." It was sad to have it end. But today we started the Narnia series. I read it to the older girls years ago, but the younger set has never heard it, though Brynna has read them. But it won't be the same.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hello? Is anyone there?

Blog? I have a blog?

If I have anyone left who actually reads this, I apologize. I don't think I've ever gone this long without posting something. Again, it's because we've had so much going on, and some of it is not blog-able, And it's all been keeping me busy and a little crazy. Three big updates today:

1. Most importantly, my grandmother passed away Sunday morning. She has been going downhill for the last six months, but has really had a hard time in the last 3 weeks, and was very ready to go home. I'm sad of course, but mainly concerned for my mom and aunt. After losing Kelly's mom last year, I don't even want to think about losing your own parent. And of course, my mom has been her primary caretaker in that she was the one going to the nursing home every day, making sure everything was taken care of, her hair cut, her doctor appointments made, etc. It will be a big hole in her life.

2. Today, Hailey got her cast off! She had a hip to foot cast for 5 weeks, then a short cast for 4 weeks. Today she got a break boot that she will wear for 4 weeks, taking it off only to sleep and bathe (yay for a real bath!). She is very excited.

3. We started school, have now added in all subjects. It certainly keeps me busy all morning. With a kindergartner learning to read all the way up to a high schooler, I am definitely being stretched this year. So far the two online classes Kora is taking are working well for us. She though she is, she is liking the online class. Go figure.

If you are interested, here's the obit for my grandmother, who will be missed, but who we know is in glory.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hailey News

I took Hailey back to the doctor yesterday. Her x-rays looked good - to the doctor - and the big cast came off. I saw the x-rays and it is still looking pretty broken to me, but they said it was right where it should be.

She got another cast on (purple this time) that ends below her knee, which she will wear for four weeks. The new twist is, this is a walking cast! They want her off those crutches as soon as possible, preferably within a week of getting the new cast. They said at this point in the recovery that she needs to put weight on it to speed healing. He warned me that if she used the crutches for the next four weeks, she'll still need a cast at the end. If she walks on it, she can probably go to a boot, or perhaps nothing at all.

Her knee was really sore yesterday after being immobilized in the hip to foot cast she had before, but she is better today. Tomorrow, I am going to try to get her to use one crutch. She is still scared of the pain she experienced 5 weeks ago and is a little ginger on it. But hopefully we can get her walking around soon!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day One

Today was our first day of school. Kelly's working shift work right now, working swings on Tuesday through Saturday, so we are adjusting our school day to match that, taking Monday's off. We are also having our "big" meal of the day at lunch instead of supper so that we can eat it with Kelly before he leaves. Though this shift working job is a temporary one (he was hired for another position, but he is working here until all the security clearances are done), I am thankful that we do homeschool, otherwise, the girls wouldn't see their dad at all for five days in a row once school started.

I've not been looking forward to this school year for a few reasons. Kora is starting high school work, which, I confess, intimidates me. I also have Lauryn with whom I need to devote plenty of time to this year as she is ready to read. I don't really enjoy teaching phonics, and I just came off a three year stint of working with Hailey to get her reading. And now, without a break, it's Lauryn's turn. If she takes three years to learn, I'll have to go right into teaching Ashlynn then, so let's all hope she picks it up a little more quickly. :-) And of course there are three others in between.

Today wasn't too bad though. Of course, the older the girls get, the fewer problems we have restarting the next year. And I always ease into the year somewhat - some courses don't need a full 36 weeks. The ones that do, we started this week. The others will be added in over the next couple of weeks. I also didn't do anything with Lauryn, besides let her watch The Letter Factory, since she had been running a high fever yesterday.

But of course, I also have a two year old. While she always makes life interesting, she fortunately saved the real fun for after nap. When I went in to get her out of her crib, she was lying in the crib with only a shirt on, her diaper in a heap on the floor beside the crib. I got her up and put a clean diaper on her telling her that taking off her diaper was a no-no. Then Lauryn comes in and says, "Mama, there's a wet spot over here by the crib." Yep, evidently the little scamp had climbed out of the crib, taken off her diaper, wet on the floor, and then climbed back into the crib before I came in. I asked her if she had done that, and she smiled at me and said, "Yep, climb crib."

This is going to be an interesting year.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The "F" bomb

*Never fear, this is a family friendly blog and post!*

The other day, I overheard an extraordinary conversation between Lauryn (5 yo) and Hailey (7 yo). One of them was informing the other one that:

"You said the 'f' word."

"No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did. Remember, we can't say that."

Needless to say I was starting to freak out a little. Where in the world had they heard THAT? Who had said that in front of my little girls? And how did they know to abbreviate it to just an "f"??? I was wracking my brain. They don't watch TV, only movies, and I didn't think any of our movies had that in it. Besides, neither had come to ask us if that was a bad word (we have an open policy that they can come ask us what anything means, without any punishment - if it is a word Kelly and I don't use they are supposed to ask before they use it).

The conversation went on for a time while I was trying to figure out how to play this. Should stay cool or flip out? Demand to know where they heard it, or just let them know we don't ever use that word. Then, as I listened to their conversation more, I realized the truth.

If you haven't read this post, here's an excerpt from something that happened a couple of months ago.

The last word I think will become a Smith family no-no word. Years ago, we decided not to let the older two girls use the word stupid at all. We figured that if they didn't ever use the word, they couldn't call each other things like "stupid head" that we had heard other kids call each other. And I have never heard my kids call other people stupid, so I guess in that it worked, though we've certainly slackened up on it in recent years. It did cause grandparents some problems when they would visit and use the word. ("That is a stupid thing for the president to have done." "Granddad, you said a no-no word.")

We may have to revise the no-no word list and add a new one to it. It's such a benign little word too. I think we need to add the word "fine" to the Smith banned list. You see this is how recent conversations have gone in our house.

Me: Ashlynn, come here. (She just stares at me, so I stand up to go over to her.)

Ashlynn (seeing me coming her way, starts running to me, yelling): FINE!

OR

Me: Ashlynn, go upstairs.

(She stands there, staring at me rebelliously. Then as I start heading her way...)
Ashlynn: FINE!

No, not "fine." I'll never hear that word again without hearing my two year old's voice yelling it at me.

Yes, evidently, the "f" word one of the girls had said was "fine" in front of Ashlynn. Once I figured it out, I had a good laugh. That's going to make me laugh every time someone asks me how I am and I answer "fine."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Laugh of the Day

I was screening for a medical research study this morning. During the EKG, the tech had to place several leads on my abdomen and chest wall. During this, she comments, "Hmmm, you don't have any stretch marks. You must not have any kids."

Her face when I told her how many kids I had was quite funny. (And I do have stretch marks, she just couldn't see them.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fun

Blogging is a funny thing. When there's a lot going on, there's usually no time to write about it. And many times the most important things of life are too private to blog about. There's been a lot of both going on at my house lately. Obviously some of it I can't write about, but I'll try to catch up on what I can.

With Hailey confined pretty much to the house in early July, I got a lot of painting done when Kelly would be here to help with her. I got one upstairs bathroom, two hallways, and the upstairs living area done. I still want to get the stairway done, but that may have to wait until September. It's a doozy, so I need a long concentrated time to do it.

Then, our friends, the Schneiders came for a visit. I hope to post pictures at some point, but we had a great time. I met Vivian when her oldest was crawling around on the floor and I was due to have Kora any day. Now we have 10 kids between us (and her oldest son is not crawling any more - he's 6 foot tall!) They are military and recently moved from Germany to England and were home on furlough, basically. We went to Six Flags, we went to the pool, we went shopping, we played poker after the kids went to bed. It was a great week. (And no, I didn't drag Hailey to Six Flags - she'd have been miserable! A friend let her and Ashlynn come play with her girls until Kelly got off work. Thanks, Candace!)

This week, I am going to try to potty train Ashlynn before school starts next week. She's been basically begging to potty train for weeks, and I've been putting it off. And if it doesn't "take" this week, she may not get another chance before Christmas! Two of my least favorite things as a parent are teaching phonics and potty training and I have to do both this fall! But maybe our last little girl will make it easy on me? Believe me, I am not holding my breath.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making the Best of It

Hailey is really starting to get around very well on her crutches, which is impressive considering how big and heavy her cast is. We are still using the wheel chair for some things - I took her to her follow-up appointment today in it because I thought it would be too much walking without it.

However, she has been having a little fun with it and her younger sisters. The other day I caught Ashlynn in her lap and Lauryn standing on the back. I didn't get a picture of that, but I did get a picture of this:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Corner

Hailey turned a corner on Wednesday or Thursday. Suddenly (it seemed) she could move around without excruciating pain. She got her crutches on Thursday and she can get around with them a little. Her cast is so big and so heavy that it is hard for her to go very far still. I'm sure she'll build up some strong arm muscles by the time this is over. She's getting from the couch to the wheel chair by herself and wheeling herself around the house. She started eating at the table with us again - we just took the arms off the wheelchair and it slides right under the table. She hasn't had any pain meds in several days.

She had a follow-up appointment and x-rays on Thursday. He said it couldn't look better a week out. He ordered the crutches and said to come back in another week. If those x-rays look ok, she'll come back in three more weeks, at which point he'll put her in a short cast (one that stops below her knee). If the x-rays taken at that appointment look good, he'll order it to be a walking cast. I figure she'd be in that one 2-3 weeks, for a total of eight weeks in a cast - virtually all summer.

Right now I am just thankful that her pain level is so much less. I'm sure it will be harder to keep her entertained now that she's feeling better, but that's still easier to deal with than the pain and the tears.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not tooooo bad

This afternoon I had to go to our local IRS office for an audit. We received notification back in May or June that we had been "selected" for an "evaluation." Doesn't that make a person feel special? What was especially interesting was all the paperwork they wanted us to bring. Did they want to see pay check stubs, bank records, etc.? No.

The wanted to see our kids' birth certificates. They wanted to see medical or school or other records that had our kids' names and our address on them as documentation that they lived with us. They wanted to see records of other income we had to support these kids, like alimony, child support, welfare, VA benefits, or anything else. They wanted to know how we spent this money. They wanted to know how much these dependents made and how much they contributed to the household budget. (I got a gooood laugh out of that one). Oh, and of course, our returns for the audit year (2008) as well as the year before and the year after.

So they only things we could gather of all that were the birth certificates, some insurance records that showed our kids received mail at our address, and the returns. Unfortunately, Kelly was unable to get out of the class he's in for work so I had to go BY MYSELF.

Fortunately it wasn't as bad as I thought. I was thrown for a loop though when he told me that he had already pulled a lot of financial background on us. He was telling this to me reassuringly, because everything looked fine - in other words, we don't spend more than we make or live above our means. (Duh!) But I had, naively, not expected that. I wanted to start calling the guy "Big Brother" though I doubt he would have appreciated it. This bothered me more than anything else, though it shouldn't have surprised me.

The whole meeting took 30 minutes. He made copies of the documents he needed to, and didn't even look at the other 2 returns. They only discrepancy we had was our bank sent us a document reporting one amount of earned interest for the year but reported a different amount to the IRS. Lovely. I showed him the documentation they sent us, and he was a little perplexed as well. However, the difference was a small amount and would have made no impact on the amount of tax owed or return received so he said it would be pointless to pursue it at this point. As relatively painless as it was, I hope not to have to do that again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A look back

In one of the myriad of ways we are trying to help Hailey pass the time, we have pulled out old home videos that we haven't watched for years. They cover roughly the years from 1998 - 2003 or so. Plus they've watched the video of our wedding and their uncle Tony's wedding. My kids have gotten a kick out of this. Here's a smattering of what I've heard the last two days from the kids:

Your hair looked funny, Mama.

Daddy's glasses were hideous. (OK, I started that one.)

Granny's hair looks funny.

What is that weird outfit Daddy's wearing? (BTW, it was wranglers, cowboy boots, and a western shirt.)

Granddad looks so young!

Aunt Sarah's hair looks funny.

Ashlynn looks just like Kora did! (We've been saying that for two years.)

Nana's hair looks funny.

Your voice sounds different, Mama.

Ooo, Granddad had a moustache!

Hey, I remember that toy!

Look, she's wearing the same dress Lauryn is right now!

Your dresses look weird.

Mama, you! You! You! (This was Ashlynn while watching our wedding video.)

But we are all in agreement that we had the cutest girls ever. However, the girls got a little grumpy when we asked them, "So what happened?"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Update on Hailey

Hailey is doing very well today. She never did have too much pain yesterday (perhaps from the pain meds I was giving her) though she did get the nausea again. Thankfully they had given me a prescription for that, which made her sleepy. So she had a good night. Today she is either watching videos or making paper dolls. She is still in a bit of pain when we have to move her to the bathroom, but the cast seems to be helping that. It's not hurting her as much to move. She's still got the leg elevated, and will have to keep it that way for a few more days. But over all she's in good spirits and enjoying all the care packages she's received. I'm sure the boredom will set in at some point, though.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Success

Hailey's procedure went well this morning. The doctor was very pleased with how straight he was able to get the leg (though that phrase just makes me weak in the knees), however the swelling had not gone down as much as he had hoped. So he ordered a device like this to connect to a cuff that goes around her cast to provide continuous cooling to help reduce the swelling.

She did get sick from the anesthesia, but seems to be over it now. In fact, she wasn't happy that she couldn't have the pizza a friend had gotten for her sisters for lunch. The cast goes from her hip to foot. The test will be in a couple of hours when the numbing shot he injected into her leg wears off. We'll see how much pain she's in then from all he did to her leg.

We have to keep her leg elevated for a few more days and keep this cooler filled with ice. Then I take her in on Thursday for a follow up which will involve x-rays. Hopefully the swelling won't cause them to have to re-do the cast.

As I write, she's sitting happy on the sofa, drinking sprite and watching the Muppet Show on DVD. Her parents are quite tired, as WE did NOT get the good drugs the last few nights! ;-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nightmare Day

Yesterday morning (Tuesday) the girls were out riding their bikes. We normally go out there after breakfast and ride unless we are going to the pool that day. My good friend Vivian called, so I was sitting on my front steps watching some kids ride and others sit on the driveway and draw with a new bucket of sidewalk chalk I had just bought.

Hailey, my 7 year old, rode over in front of our house and started making a 360 turn to her right to go back up the street the way she had just come. At that point events start blurring a little. I saw her fall onto her left side, landing on her left hip and leg with the bike landing on top of her. She immediately started screaming. I told Vivian, "Igottagobye," as I started running towards the street, throwing the phone into the grass.

Hailey was screaming in agony, holding her leg. She was screaming things like "It hurts, I think I broke my leg!" I was looking for road rash where she had landed, so I kept trying to look at her left leg, just sure that the skin was all off in a bloody mess. But she was holding her other leg, shaking and screaming. Then I got a look at the leg she was holding. It was obvious something was wrong because of the odd swelling that was already occurring (though thankfully no bones were protruding).

Trying to calm her down so I could get her into the Suburban, I had the other girls get the bike put up while I tried to carry her, scooping her up from the asphalt and somehow getting her into the car. Then I had to get a trash can since she felt like she was going to be sick (I felt a bit like it myself), threw on decent clothes, grabbed my purse and got out the door, being so thankful my oldest child is old enough to keep the kids for a while.

Once we got to the pediatric urgent care clinic and got checked in, they fortunately had a wheelchair. But any movement sent her into spasms of agony. She looked awful too. She was sweaty from the bike riding and the shock, her skin was an odd grey color and clammy, and she had the shakes really bad. She was also in old mismatched clothes she had thrown on to bike ride in, her hair was in a messy ponytail from the bike helmet, and she was in tennis shoes that needed to be thrown away, they were so worn out.

Though we were all fairly sure it was broken, they needed to do x-rays, but just moving her was so painful. They had no IV pain meds at the clinic, but she was so nauseated, they couldn't give her oral pain meds yet. So before we x-rayed her they gave her some anti-nausea medicine. We then managed somehow to get her onto the x-ray table but could not get her leg straightened out. So we had to take the pictures with her knee bent. After the first film, the doctor pulled me aside and showed me the x-ray. It was broken in two places and part of the bone was displaced. She wasn't sure if it would need surgery to put a pin in or not, but it was bad enough they couldn't cast it there. She told me she was probably going to send me to an ER, calling an ambulance to transport her. What she really needed was better films, but she needed to be drugged to do that, and they could do that in the ER and not the clinic.

Then we went back in for another x-ray. After getting her back into the wheelchair, I thought she was going to pass out. When she would look at me crying while this was happening, well, I can't describe the agony and heartbreak I felt. At that point they did give her some pain medicine as the anti-nausea meds had kicked in by that point. Also, the doctor got her an appointment with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at 1:30 so we wouldn't have to go to the ER. But they did need to splint her first. After that I started making phone calls, including one to Kelly, whom I hadn't really had time to call yet. He immediately left work and came to meet me at the house.

On our way home, I stopped to get Hailey something to eat (mistake #1). Kelly carried her into the house while we made plans for the rest of the day. We then climbed back into the truck to head up to the specialist office. Thinking the worse was behind us, I didn't think about grabbing a trash can. Well, that was a BIG mistake (#2). She got sick on the way, and we had nothing with us. So we had to turn around and head back home and clean her up - without giving her a shower, and clean the truck up somewhat, though not thoroughly since we needed to go. Then we climbed into the Suburban and headed to the specialist.

They got her back and elevated the leg, iced it, and showed us the x-ray. The break was even worse than I had originally been told. Besides the two breaks, there is a long vertical crack from the bottom break all the way down the bone. And there was nothing they could do for a couple of days. They wanted her under general anesthesia to set the bone and cast it, and they couldn't do either until the swelling went down some.

So we are set to take her into an outpatient surgical suite in the morning (Thursday). At this point they don't think they will need a pin, but she will have a hip to foot plaster cast. The nurse ordered us a wheel chair with elevated legs, as she won't be able to get around on crutches in the first cast. They are doing a plaster cast instead of a fiberglass one because of the type of break and the way it needs to be molded - I don't quite understand all the details but the plaster gives him some options the fiberglass doesn't, though she might get a shorter, fiberglass cast in a month to 6 weeks.

The rest of the day was spent trying to get her settled in at home, going to three different pharmacies trying to find one the had her prescription in stock, and trying to clean up the truck. Needless to say, Hailey slept fairly well on drugs, Kelly and I did not.

So for now, even after the cast is on, our downstairs living room will be her bedroom. Our house is not wheelchair friendly, so it is going to be a challenge just getting her around in the next month. So between seeing one of my kids in severe pain, ruining the back seat of our new truck, and dealing with all the logistics for the next month or so, I am feeling quite overwhelmed. I am dreading tomorrow - not the procedure itself, but the amount of pain she will surely be in the rest of the day.

We still aren't exactly sure how she broke the leg. I saw her fall and know she landed on her left side - she has a few scrapes from that. But the top leg is what broke, so we speculate she must have gotten it tangled in the bike frame or slammed it into the frame somehow. And while she has been in more pain than any child should, she has been a trooper. Though I don't know if she'll ever get onto a bike again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Conversations with a 2 year old

Well, conversation may be a bit of a stretch, but Ashlynn has definitely been jabbering away for quite a while now. And some of her speeches have us rolling in the floor, where as some are very sweet.

In the latter category, the other night she was sitting in my lap while I was watching a sad video on the computer. I was crying, and she kept looking up at me with a very concerned look on her face. Finally, she reached up and rubbed my cheek, and said, "Es wong, Mama?" (What is wrong, Mama, for those of you who don't speak 2-year-old-ish.)

But one of her sayings that has us cracking up every time is the way she says, "Excuse me." She'll bump into someone or try to get past one of us, look up at us completely serious, and say, "Skew me."
Picture taken by Hailey, our 7yo

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Now where are my high heels?

We measured Kora this morning since everyone keeps asking if she's as tall as I am yet. That depends on what shoes we are wearing. I am 5'7". As of this morning, Kora is 5' 6.25" - a whole three quarters of an inch shorter than I am, thank you very much. I'm gonna enjoy it while it lasts, which won't be much longer. She's grown over an inch since March! And the orthopedic doctor who treated her broken leg last fall said to expect her to keep growing for approximately another 2 years.

I feel short already.

And wasn't it last week when she looked like this?
And now she looks like this:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'll be the one on the ladder

I am done. Almost. As much as I can be. I have done as much school planning as I can. I have one curriculum set that has not been delivered yet - it's brand new and all I have is the Beta version. Once it gets here, I'll need to make photo copies of the tests and such. But other than that, unless I remember something I forgot to do (if I do, it'll probably be at 4 am) I can move on to other things.

Like painting! I still have paint I bought last year for some projects. But because of my tendon injury I did zero painting last summer. The summer of '08 I painted 3 bedrooms and a hallway with a newborn in the house! But last year, zip, nada, nothing. Hopefully I can remedy that this year.

I've also been stumped as to how to paint our stairwell, which needs it badly. But it's two stories tall, for Pete's sake. (Anyone know who Pete is?) Then I ran across this and even though I am a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to heights, I'm gonna give it a try.

You know what the hardest thing about painting is? That I never want to stop at painting. While I'm at it, I want to put in new light fixtures, and maybe new drapes, which would need new curtain rods. Or maybe the shower curtain needs to be replaced which would require new towels, toothbrush holders, trashcans... This is definitely not a new phenomenon for me, so I know I need to watch it. If you know of any cures, let me know. I'll be the one sitting on the couch watching HGTV.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This is so true!

OK, my husband sent me the funniest Dilbert ever this morning, but I can't figure out a way to post the whole thing in this post - part of it gets cut off. But if you work on computers or know someone who does, click here and get your laugh for the day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Biking

I am happy to report that I can take back what I said about helping kids learn to ride a bike being in the same category as potty training and phonics. Brynna and Hailey both took off this week. Hailey doesn't need me at all. Brynna, who is our most un-athletic child (is un-athletic a word?), rides just fine. She's still working on the taking off part. And the stopping part still needs some work too, especially when a curb is coming up. She scored our first major crash of the summer this morning by playing chicken with the sidewalk curb. The curb won.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ketchup

You can always tell when I am super busy, as my blog goes through droughts of posts. And even though it is summer, we have been busy.

We get outside for a little bit each day, either bike riding or to the pool. We are trying to teach the two middle girls to ride without training wheels. I have decided that's up there with potty training and phonics - my least favorite things I do as a parent. But since it would look funny for 12 year olds to ride with training wheels, I guess the middle girls need to learn before they get there. We had to get a couple more bikes too as we didn't even have enough for all the girls. Plus a couple of them had outgrown their bikes. So right after breakfast we go out until the heat drives us inside, roughly 45 minutes.

Then we come inside and deep clean one room of the house. We like it better on days when we clean first and then go to the pool. Instead of spring cleaning we summer clean. We have done the whole house except the kitchen so that's on the agenda for this week. Then I need to wash curtains and clean light fixtures and we are done!

The girls also do math and Latin one day a week. The three older girls are also taking piano lessons, so they practice every day on that too.

After lunch, I spend the afternoon doing lesson plans, running copies, gathering books, and just generally getting prepared for the next school year. I am hoping to complete that in June so I can take July and early August OFF and not even think about school for a while. I'm hoping to get a few rooms and maybe some trim painted during July.

I have also decided that shopping for and signing up for insurance is about my least favorite activity, next to cleaning my shower (uh-oh, I need to do that this week, too). Since Kelly changed jobs, we had to fill out all new health, vision, dental, and life insurance with the new company. At the same time, our homeowners insurance shot up, so I had to shop around and switch our homeowners and car insurance. Plus the new employer didn't offer enough life insurance so we've been shopping around for additional life insurance. Not fun.

We've also had some sick kids - a couple with tummy bugs and one trip to the urgent care clinic because Brynna dropped a griddle on her big toe. We thought it was broken but it is just a deep bruise. Her whole toe nail is navy blue. I told her we needed to get some polish to match and just paint all her toenails that color - people would just think she's being funky. I think it would go fabulously with her red hair.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard

Last Tuesday evening, Kelly and I were giving Ashlynn and Lauryn a bath when it happened. We've always warned these girls it could happen but so far we had escaped anything really bad. So I guess it's fitting that our last little girl finally bought it. Instead of standing still in the slippery bathtub like we are always telling them to do, she decided to walk around and she slipped.

And hit the side of the tub with her two front teeth.

The sound was AWFUL.

Immediately we could tell her two front teeth were chipped, but at least they were still in her mouth, for now. She was bleeding from somewhere in her mouth, though we couldn't tell exactly where immediately. We finally figured out the gums around one of her front teeth was bleeding and we were afraid she would lose at least that tooth. I was having visions of no front teeth for the next 4-5 years. Of course this is after business hours of our dentist.

The next morning I had to do two things: find a dentist that would see her and find out how to handle our new dental insurance, which had just kicked in the day she fell. Our dentist doesn't see children under the age of five, so they told me to find a pediatric dentist. There's one right down the road from us, but in finding out if they were in our network, we discovered that somehow we still weren't in the dental insurance system.

So Kelly had to go down to HR and work with one of the ladies down there to figure out what the issue was while I took Ashlynn to the new dentist. We just decided to pay up front and file a claim with the insurance company once we got all that settled.

The dentist appointment turned out to be something of an anti-climax. The office was great, very child-friendly and the people were so nice and helpful. They examined her and said she was fine. The teeth might or might not discolor but she probably wouldn't lose them. He didn't even want to file them down. He said just to have her eat soft foods for the next 7 days just to make sure the teeth are traumatized anymore. Fortunately, just as I was about to pay for the visit, Kelly called and said the insurance was worked out. So they ran it again, and the visit was covered 100%.

Fortunately we had no further problems. But she is much more cautious in the bathtub now!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Conversations with a 5 year old, HGTV version

The other day, Lauryn was showing me how she had her doll house set up. She told me:

"See this room? It looks crazy, doesn't it? It needs Design on a Dime."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Conversations with a 5 year old, potty version

Tonight, Hailey bought a little photo album, pink with a latch that velcros shut, kind of like diaries have the latch that locks.

Evidently, Lauryn (5 yo) thought so too. "Hailey," she exclaimed quite excitedly, "it looks like a diarrhea!"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CVS deal

I haven't posted one of my CVS deals lately, so I thought I'd do this. Monday, I went to CVS and got all this (except the toddler, of course)
for $3.44. Plus I had $16 in ECB's (Extra Care Bucks, "dollars" good only at CVS) on the bottom of the receipt.

Everything except the trial sized deodorant was on sale, plus I used a $5 off a $30 CVS coupon that CVS emailed me (you just have to sign up for the emails). Then I used manufacturers coupons either out of the newspaper or printed on the internet and ECB's I had earned from previous trips to CVS. Toilet paper, Kleenex, diapers, shampoo, and deodorant. Good deal!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My boat is bigger than your boat

Last weekend, we went to Odessa to see my family. Next Sunday is my parent's 40th wedding anniversary, so we've been planning for months to get together for the weekend and take them out to eat for their anniversary. We had a little surprise for my mom planned. With my grandmother's permission, we used the topper that was used at my grandparents' 40th anniversary party (in 1983) on the cake.

This cake was my youngest sister's creation. The top cake was spice cake, the middle cake was white cake, and the bottom was chocolate. You'd think we were feeding the whole city of Odessa instead of our family and a couple of friends.
My parents.
This is what my mom got my dad. It's to decorate his office at work.
My dad had a surprise for my mom that blows our little bit of nostalgia off the planet. You see for weeks, he and my mom have been "planning" on going back to Arkansas where they spent their honeymoon. What my mom didn't know was that my dad had no intention of going back to Arkansas. He'd received a bonus from work a couple months back and wanted to use it go to on a really great trip, something they hadn't done before.

So he decided to book them on an Alaskan cruise. He bought the tickets, arranged for airfare, made hotel reservations the day before the cruise ALL WITHOUT TELLING MY MOM. My sisters and I knew and he wanted us to be in on telling her. His idea was to play a version of Let's Make a Deal. We got little gifts that would be for the cruise - like binoculars - that she would "earn" by answering questions about their married life. By answering more questions she could trade in for bigger prizes.
Finally she got to pick one of three boxes. One had a trip to No Trees, Texas (yes it really does exist). Box 2 was a description of the Arkansas trip.
She picked that one at first and then, after one last question, was able to choose box number 3. Here's Sarah showing her the actually cruise ship they will be on.
My mom was so surprised. She had NO IDEA. First she laughed.
Then she cried.
Then I teased her about how much bigger the boat Daddy gave her is than the one she gave him.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vocabulary words

Ashlynn was the least vocal of all my girls. She started talking later and took longer to build up her vocabulary than any of the other ones. In fact she said about 5-6 words BEFORE she ever said Mama, and she didn't say that until she was nearly 15 months old. Compared to some of the other girls who were composing stories by that time, well...

But all that is behind her, and she talks about like all two year olds now. She bosses us all around just fine. There are two relatively recent additions to her vocabulary that I wanted to mention. The first is quite cute. The second, not so much.

Ashlynn is the youngest one to learn the following word: princess. Of course, when she says it, it comes out more like "pwincess." She loves to show us all the princesses in books or on a movie (which she calls moo-bies).

The last word I think will become a Smith family no-no word. Years ago, we decided not to let the older two girls use the word stupid at all. We figured that if they didn't ever use the word, they couldn't call each other things like "stupid head" that we had heard other kids call each other. And I have never heard my kids call other people stupid, so I guess in that it worked, though we've certainly slackened up on it in recent years. It did cause grandparents some problems when they would visit and use the word. ("That is a stupid thing for the president to have done." "Granddad, you said a no-no word.")

We may have to revise the no-no word list and add a new one to it. It's such a benign little word too. I think we need to add the word "fine" to the Smith banned list. You see this is how recent conversations have gone in our house.

Me: Ashlynn, come here. (She just stares at me, so I stand up to go over to her.)

Ashlynn (seeing me coming her way, starts running to me, yelling): FINE!

OR

Me: Ashlynn, go upstairs.

(She stands there, staring at me rebelliously. Then as I start heading her way...)
Ashlynn: FINE!

No, not "fine." I'll never hear that word again without hearing my two year old's voice yelling it at me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The End

The school year is over. Well, mostly. Kora was still getting over her bout of bronchitis earlier this week, so she missed the first day of the standardized testing. So she still has to make that up. And I have them do at least one lesson in math per week during the summer - their favorite! Our pool is closed on Monday so I try to do it then and get it over with.

I usually do a post to kind of evaluate how the year has gone. I hesitated to do it this year. Not so much because we had a bad year academically. But it was a tough year all around. We've dealt with a death in the family, a fairly serious injury on my part, the serious deterioration of the health of my grandmother, Kelly's uncertain job situation and the emotional angst that entailed, and months and months of what seemed like unending illnesses. Add that to the normal routine of taking care of a family of eight and the homeschooling year should have collapsed under the weight of all of it. But I realized as I look over the year that we had a good year, in spite of all of that. In some cases, school work provided a normality that served as an anchor during some hard times. That doesn't mean that I wasn't ready to "pitch" it at times this year. :-)

As I look over the year, here are some of my evaluation points, both good and bad:

1. Hailey really started to read this year! She struggled more than all the other girls put together, but it finally "clicked" this year. She's reading books on her own and liking it. She's not the bookworm Brynna is, but this is a huge step forward. Hopefully this will translate to being able to read her math story problems, for example.

2. Brynna is really starting to make a transition into being able to work a little more independently. Don't get me wrong, at nine, she still needs a lot of supervision. But this year she was able to move from subject to subject without too much daydreaming in between. She even had a subject with computer cd lessons and she did great with it. She is eating up Latin like Kora does. She will soon be making the transition to Saxon 5/4 and I hope that helps her with her multiplication skills - that two digit multiplication has given her problems.

3. Aubrey is making great improvement in her thinking skills and logical thought. She's on the edge of the "logic stage" of development and it shows (right down to the "pert" remarks). She's always been a math person and she is continuing to excel in that. We are working on her writing/compositions. That did get better this year, but still needs help. She's also a little, shall we say lazy, when it comes to doing things like answering her history questions. Latin is not her "thing" like it is for Kora, but she did get better at that this year as well. Next year we are concentrating on writing and thoroughness.

4. Kora's writing made leaps and bounds of improvement this year, no thanks to me. I enrolled her in a writing co-op class, and it was so worth it. Last year she struggled with math; this year she did so much better. I'm glad that last year we slowed and down and re-did some of the book she was in and really made sure she grasped the material. Yay for the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling! Now I'm not worried about her moving into Algebra I at all. She's far ahead of me in Latin now so we are going to be enrolling her in an online course to help with that for next year.

5. Lauryn, well, to be honest Lauryn is where I really dropped the ball. She turned 5 a few months ago, and with the older girls I was working with them a lot more by this age. I did work with her some, but not consistently. She wasn't terrible interested either, so it was easy to let this be a sporadic thing. Hailey and Brynna's work was very teacher intensive this last year, and so I let Lauryn pretty much have a playful year, her work largely revolving around which princess she would be that day. So next year, my goal is to consistently work with her on phonics and have some fun math activities and games to play with her.

6. Ashlynn started talking and is showing interest in potty training. 'Nough said. ;-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

And...

Add pink eye to the list. Yep, me, in both eyes. :-/

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May you live in interesting times

OK, since the big recitals on Sunday afternoon/evening, we've had:

a whole bunch of company leave.

my "cold" turn into bronchitis.

two other family members get a bit of a stomach bug.

a doctor diagnose me with bronchitis and give me medicine that is not working as fast as I would like (it never does).

the IRS send us a letter letting us know that we are being audited for the 2008 year (which we turned in last year in 2009). Evidently they believe that we either (a) don't really have 6 kids (maybe we are borrowing someone else's?) or (b) that we aren't reporting all the income we are getting to provide for these 6 kids. I get a good laugh out of that one.

My plans for the week have largely gone out the window. The biggest event for the week has yet to happen. Kelly's changing jobs! After looking and praying for over a year, his last day is Friday and he starts the new job on Monday. He is quite excited about the new project he'll be working on. And, as usual, he won't be able to tell me anything about it. Oh, well.

This is also the last week of school, which means it's time for me to order books for next year and start planning for it. I also have a lot of projects I'd like to get done this summer - most of them I had planned on doing last summer, but my foot injury pretty much scratched any of those plans. Maybe it's a good thing I've been on the couch this week. I think I need to rest up!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Recital 2010

Kora and Aubrey each played in a recital yesterday. The spring recital in the music conservatory they are in is a big deal every year. The concert Aubrey played in was Sunday dressy; Kora's was formal.




Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Girls

The ones who made me a mother.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The "Later" pictures

Halfway through the week, and I'm ready to go back to the river. Our home school group rented a duplex right on the Guadalupe River. Since we rented both sides, we had the spacious deck all to ourselves.

Here's a look at the top level of the deck.
This is how far up the top deck is from the dock. The deck was actually three stories: the fishing/boat dock, the grilling level, and the lazy mommy enjoying the view level.
This is a peek at our wild party. Ignore the comfy pajamas everyone is wearing, and pay attention to the spiral staircase. My bed was up in the loft up those stairs. I had stupidly decided it was a smart idea to pack everything I was bringing into one suitcase: clothes, toiletries, blow dryer, games, movies, shoes, wine. And then I had to lug it ALL THE WAY UP THOSE STAIRS. The other ladies were all laughing at me. Next year, I'm bringing 2 duffel bags instead.
Some moms enjoying the deck Saturday morning, holding babies to give some of the other moms a break.
This is the view we had to look at.
A couple of the moms went fishing. Teresa caught a couple of rainbow trout, including this one. Those of us who like to eat fish but can't stand to catch them were duly impressed.
On Saturday about 5 of us went tubing. We liked it so much that on Sunday we rented a couple of rafts and 7 of us went rafting. I'm in the front in the pink shirt. Our "exit" spot was just across the river from our house so I had one of the other ladies get pictures.
See that raft waaaaaaaay back there? As we were pulling our raft out of the river, the other group was well behind. And they had 4 rowers and we only had 3!

Come on, you guys, hurry up!
Just kidding! Who wants to hurry on vacation?

We are definitely going to have to do this again next year! Next year, we're tubing all the way to Gruene!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

back

I'm back.

I'm exhausted.

I'm NOT sunburned in spite of a day spent river tubing and another in a raft.

I want to buy one of the houses we saw on the river. And never leave.

My husband is not going to like it when I tell him we have to move.

Pictures later.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Calgon, Take Me Away!

OK, showing my age a little there. I do want to point out that I was a VERY LITTLE girl when those commercials were airing. :-)

This weekend I am getting away - though Calgon (are they still around, does anyone know?) has nothing to do with it. This spring our home school group eschewed the conference we normally attend and decided to organize our own getaway. Though we'll have no inspirational speakers and no book tables to pawn over, I am sure we'll have a great time.

We rented a river house (actually it's a duplex, but we've rented both units) with a huge two story deck. We are going out to eat tonight, having pizza delivered Saturday night and are bringing food for all other times. We plan on eating good food, drinking yummy drinks (both alcoholic and non), chatting, playing, and just generally de-stressing. Saturday afternoon, some of us (the non-chicken ones) are going tubing on the river if the weather cooperates. I've got my sunscreen and bug spray ready to go.

I hope to post pictures next week. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend vacation with the girls!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Fruit of My Labor

I crack myself up. He he.

Anyway, last weekend I made strawberry jam. I had found strawberries for 99 cents a pound that week and bought 8 pounds. With that I made 15 pints of jam.

Ta-da!
With the cost of sugar, pectin, lemon juice, lids, I figured this cost me about $1.45 per pint. You can buy jellies and jam cheaper than this, but (1) they don't taste as good and (2) they have corn syrup instead of sugar. To get sugar sweetened or naturally sweetened jams and jellies at the store, you'll have to pay a lot more than that. And it only took me a couple of hours, including clean up.

Best paired with homemade buttermilk biscuits. Yum!

Monday, April 19, 2010

My baby is two!

Ashlynn officially entered the "terrible twos" today, though I think she was born in them. :-) I've always said that threes are worse than twos, so we may be in for a couple of interesting years. If you want to see pictures of her the day she was born click here. If you want to read her home birth story click here.
The older girls have told me that I shouldn't call her a baby anymore. But she wears a diaper and sleeps in a crib. I think I'm justified in still using the term baby. You know what Ashlynn call herself? "Cute." No kidding.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Brynna!

Today, Brynna Nicole is 9 years old! Yikes, that's half way to 18!
Brynna is our "sunny" child. When she was a toddler, we called her our teddy bear. One of her spiritual gifts is mercy. If you are familiar with the 5 love languages, hers is definitely acts of service. We love you, Brynna - happy birthday!