Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas letter 2010

okay, so if you're on "our list" (which basically means you're related to us or you sent US a Christmas card) you'll be getting a "hard copy" of the letter, with a different picture. :) but if our relationship is strictly 'blog-reader/writer" then this is your chance to get caught up on our year!


It’s the week of (well, now I guess AFTER) Christmas. I’ve LOVED getting the mail every day. Anyone who saw me rip open the cards would have no idea that I most likely already know everything that the letter says, thanks to facebook. :) But I think it’s important for me to recap the year, even if most of you already know our story of 2010. It’s been a year with lots of uncertainty, lots of trusting God, and lots of not being disappointed. :)

We took our very first “real” family vacation (went somewhere far away and didn’t stay with family) this year in March. Our friends Pete, Sarah, and Emily Connell are living in southern CA and wanted to make a trip out there before Brielle needed a plane ticket. :) It was a short and sweet trip, packed full with parks, pizza, the beach, IKEA (a first for me!), Disneyland, and catching up while the kids slept. The kids are wondering when we’re going to see Emily again, and unfortunately, I think future playdates with Emily will have to be in Orange City. It was a really fun trip that we all wish was an annual event.

After recouping from our vacation, we had Steve's sister’s wedding in April. Steve, Lillian, Josiah, and I were all in the wedding, and it was certainly a cause for celebration. We love our new brother and uncle, and it was a great time celebrating with family.

It was even more special than we realized at the time, actually, because it was our last chance to spend time with Steve’s grandpa (who the kids call Papa HoHo) as he went to be with the Lord soon after the wedding. God’s timing truly is right. We’re so thankful for the chance to see him at the wedding, and even for the little details like the kids getting to know some of that side of the family before they were thrown into the emotion of the funeral, etc. It’s our family’s first major loss since my mom, so it was interesting to hear the kids talk about death, and the questions they had, and even the peace they had about it, knowing that their loved ones are in heaven, waiting for us to join. It hit them harder than I expected, though, and they often mention Papa HoHo and how much they miss him, as we all do.

We had no idea what was in store for us financially this spring because the sweet little boy I was watching was moving away. :( But sure enough, God provided two families who needed daycare, and once again our needs were met. This past summer I had my three plus three extras every day, and as soon as school started, I had a baby join us, but the big girls went to kindergarten. So most of the day I have 5 kids, til the big girls come home, and then the baby leaves. If you ever call between the hours of 8 and 6 and I don’t answer…now you know why.

The fall was a crazy time in the Hydeen household. We found out during the summer that Steve’s contract for work was going to be canceled at the end of August. He worked so hard and so long at that property, and was often very stressed out. So while we were of course concerned at the loss of the contract, we knew there was something better in store, we just had to wait on God to show us what it was. We seem to have lots of practice waiting for God’s plan, so we had a lot of peace about it, and sure enough, it paid off once again. Steve got the word last week that on January 16th he’ll be the manager of valet operations at the downtown HILTON. We’re excited for him to be out of the stress of the hospital environment, and moving into something he always loved (remember his bellhop days?). Please pray for our family though as the transition will be hard for all of us. I’m expecting lots of long days and weeks without seeing much of my BFF while he gets things rolling at the hotel. We praise God once again for providing for our every need.

Lillian’s big news for the year was starting kindergarten! We were so sure that she was ready. She’s such a smart girl, with great social skills, and was almost six. She had preschool every day last year, and we were just SURE it’d be an easy transition. And we were WRONG. Thank GOODNESS my big sister was here to help me through that first week, because I’m pretty sure I needed just as much TLC as she did that week. Eventually things got better, like we knew they would, but OH MY….my heart was not prepared for that. She’s doing great now, reading up a storm, and her teacher says she’s a delight in the classroom. We’re so proud of her.

Josiah turned four this year, and is becoming such a big boy. He’s still the lover-extraordinaire that he always has been, but it’s fun to see him grow into a “person.” He LOVES trucks. Loves them. He amazes us all at his ability to distinguish between an F150 and a one ton dually, but he seems to have it down. :) He’s starting to learn to read as well, since his big sister is constantly sounding out words all day every day. It’s crazy because he’s always been so laid back, and a bit slower in his development because of that. And now suddenly he cares about reading, when he JUST learned all the letters! It’s so fun to see the kids’ different personalities, and to really just love them for who they are. He’s following in Daddy’s footsteps too, and becoming quite the comedian (he thinks so anyway). :)

Brielle is just a hoot. We of course think (almost) everything she does is so cute, since she’s more than likely our last baby. She recently started talking (like, real words and conversations, etc) like crazy, and while we often have no idea what she’s saying, it’s fun to have her be a vocal member of our family. She has a different personality than both of the other kids, and most days we’re still trying to figure her out. The only thing we know for sure is that she is by FAR the biggest stinker we’ve ever had. She loves babies, and right now is obsessed with “baby Griffin” and “baby Jesus.” She can really hold her own with her big brother and sister, and can often be seen doing EVERYTHING the big kids do, and even things they would NEVER do. She recently moved out of her baby crib and now shares a bunk bed with her big sister, and thinks that’s pretty cool. We’re still working on the potty training thing. She has LOTS of interest, and would sit on the pot all day long if her mama had a bit more patience. :) She actually peed ONCE now, so that’s progress. I know when it clicks, it’ll be a piece of cake, so we’ll just wait til the click. :)

We’re so thankful to God for our jobs and our kids, but also for our hobbies, which are becoming more and more a part of who we are. It’s so wonderful to have a way to express ourselves in a way that’s so different from our everyday roles. Steve is still performing regularly with 88improv, and has had the opportunity to do some creative stuff for work too, which has been fun. The pinkadink has kept me ridiculously busy this fall. I only did a few craft shows which turned out to be very successful, and didn’t take up every single Saturday like I did last fall. I love love love the sewing and creating part of it, but I will admit that I’m glad to be DONE for the Christmas season and take things at my own pace again. And maybe even just sit on my butt and watch tv for a night. :)

Every year at this time I just get so emotional thinking about God’s love for me. I am so blessed. I got a new brother in law and 2 sweet nephews this year, took a road trip with my sisters and our kids crammed into my van all the way to Ohio to visit Ang and her family, celebrated 7 years of wedded bliss :) and probably lots of other great things that aren’t coming to mind right now. And as wonderful as all those things are, they pale in comparison to the blessing of knowing that God sent his son for ME. Because he loves ME. May this Christmas (and now new year I guess…) be filled with reminders of God’s love for you, that came most beautifully in the form of a baby.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

dyslexia in my ears or something... I've clearly been busy and neglecting the blog, but I just have to share this story:

On Wed night we were on our way to Kids Club at church, and I hear Lillian ask from way in the back seat of the van, "Mom? How can you tell if God is a boy or a girl?"

and I think oh gosh...another doozie of a question from Miss Lillian. and this setting, me driving on 680, her in the back seat, is not exactly the type of setting I imagine us having conversations about God in. But anyway, she asked.

"well, honey, that's kind of a hard question. We don't really know if God is a boy or a girl because he's not a human. We often think of him as a man because he calls himself our Father, but blah blah blah blah blah..."

"I thought you said something one time about how you can tell by how they go to the bathroom."

"um...well...that only works for humans. God isn't a human so he doesn't have private parts like humans do, and blah blah blah some more."

"ah....MOM? I'm talking about DOGS."

"WHAT? OH! yeah, boy dogs lift their legs to pee and girl dogs put thier bottoms by the ground."

and done. easy question. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a love of reading

Yesterday, which was NOVEMBER 2nd, by the way, we went to the PARK! I never thought we'd be at the park, with no coats, in November. marvelous.

Well, Laya had climbed up the steps to the slide, and then didn't want to go down, so Kaylee climbed up to get her but nailed her head on the tower thing at the top of the slide. So I hiked up the playground equipment to give Kaylee a little lovin...


I could not believe all the terrible things I found written on the walls of the "princess tower," of all places. Those little punks better hope I don't catch them in the act of their "artistry." Bad words, phone numbers, anatomy drawings, the works. I just sat there for a bit til the girls asked me what I was doing.

I said I was reading all the disgusting things that big kids wrote in the slide.

Of course now that they know there are bad things up there, they want to know. "what does it say Mommy?" "What did the big kids write, Miss Andrea?" So I said, "well, I'm not going to say, because it's really not appropriate to say those words."

So Lillian climbs up the slide, and reads for herself: ""

{GASP} "Mommy! I found a terrible word! The worst one! SUCK!" (oh, my sweet innocent child...) :)

"yep, but it's not appropriate, so let's not say that out loud. That's probably not a good place to practice your reading." (and please don't read what comes after that and ask me what it means.)

"But Mommy! I can't help it! My brain just READS!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GSD: 2010

Today I went looking back at old blog posts to get a better idea of what my feelings were last year during Grandma Sharon Days. And low and behold...there was no post. I had a facebook album, but you know, that's not really the place to spill my guts.

but this is.

So this year I'm going to write it while it's fresh.

I love Grandma Sharon Days. It's the very best idea my sister ever had. :) It's such a great way for us to really celebrate who she was, and give our kids the feeling that they know her (although Lillian will be quick to tell you that she's really the only grandkid who knows her). :(

GSD is a time when we get to do fun stuff, eat out a lot, get special snacks, and visit Stone Park. This year, I didn't do quite as much as usual, since life is just a bit busier and if I don't majorly plan in advance, things just don't go as planned. But we made it work.

On Saturday we ate at Chipotle with Mel before heading to Stone Park. Somehow I always manage to sneak Chipotle into GSD, even though I'm not quite sure she ever even HAD Chipotle or if she liked it. But I count it as special time with my sister, which I know my mom definitely loved. :)

Our drive to Sioux City was so beautiful. The forecast was actually for rain and thunderstorms, so we were totally bummed, but decided to try it anyway. I have a million memories of getting rained on during the annual Stone Park trip, so it's nothing we hadn't dealt with before. But the day was actually so beautiful. We couldn't believe it. That is...until we turned onto Stone Park Blvd...literally. We saw the first drops at that point, and from then on, it sure was scattered thunderstorms. It was like a few minutes of perfect fall weather, followed by about ten minutes of showers and thunder, and then back to perfect fall weather, etc. We still managed to squeeze in a few traditions though...

*I basically only have pictures of Saturday. HUGE bummer. but nothing I can really do about it anymore. :(

a hike up the hill (thank goodness for Uncle JoJo!)

the family pictures at the top (although, since they totally let everything grow this year, we couldn't do the timed photo like we usually do, so there's no whole group photo this year).

the pink balloons to send up to Grandma Sharon

eatin' a dog...

Eventually it got to the point where I was freaked out being in the forest and seeing lightening, so we packed up in a hurry and headed over to Cold Stone. It was definitely not time to say goodbye yet, and we didn't even have time to make s'mores! So thankfully Sioux City has a Cold Stone, so we could continue the celebration. My mom LOVED cold stone, particularly on her trips to Mayo for chemo, etc. It was something I BARELY got to do with her, since I was teaching that year, so I feel like it's really important to make up for lost time now. :)

all the "area" grandkids with their new breast cancer puppies from papa and judy

When we got home, I put the kids to bed. Melinda didn't feel well, so she crashed on the couch. I busted my butt cleaning til Steve got home and midnight and all that has nothing to do with GSD, really.

Sunday was interesting. I was supposed to be working in the nursery that day for some friends who weren't able to do their shift bc of other church obligations. I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed since I knew that while my heart was wide open this weekend, I'd see things and hear things at church in a different way. Well, as it turns out, there were no babies at church this week, so I was able to attend the service. I was so thrilled. And sure enough, we sang Blessed Be Your Name. There are quite a few songs that I can't get through without thinking of my mom and crying. But out of those, there are only a couple that we actually sing in my church. And that's one of them.

Back in 2006, when my mom was dying, our family was often gathered in the living room, living out her last moments with her. We'd talk, cry, hug, rub her feet, play games, and sing songs. Blessed Be Your Name was one of the songs we sang a few times. Lights dimmed, candles burning, every spot in the room taken, Insoo on guitar leading, and tears NONSTOP down my face. The part of the song where we sing "you give and take away" was so real to me at that moment, waiting for my mom to be taken from us, and waiting for my baby to be born, and not knowing which one would happen first. you give and take away..blessed be your name.
so you can see why I sorta lost it in church. well, not really lost it actually. just quiet crying. that was my first time crying this year actually.

After church was Papa Murphey's veggie pizza. Mom's favorite. and mine too!

After lunch I went shopping with Lillian and Mel, since Lillian insisted on having a birthday present for Josiah on Monday. It was sweet (nevermind the fact that she wanted to get him High School Musical 3 or a princess book with a necklace in it). She ended up settling for (read: forced to get him) a 4 pack of dvds about trucks, planes, cars, trains, and everything else he absolutely loves. :)

Soon after that was Bible study. and guess what! One of the families brought red licorice as their snack to share! Another Grandma Sharon favorite!!!

Monday was Josiah's bday, and I'll save that day for another blogpost. I usually try to make that day mostly about Josiah, even though it's smack dab in the middle of GSD.

Yesterday was the last day of GSD. The day my mom would turn 55 years old. Sometimes I still can't believe she died so young. We had all the daycare kids here, so we didn't do a whole lot of anything special during the day. By the time we got to evening, I was starting to get really frustrated with myself for not having planned ahead more. It was very suddenly the end of GSD, and Monday we didn't do anything bc it was Josiah's day, and then Tues we hadn't done anything either. There were things that I could have done if I'd planned ahead, like make stir fry (our family dinner probably at least once every couple weeks, if not more...), or caramel corn (but I didn't have wax paper to let it dry on), but I just didn't.

So I called Steve, feeling myself getting all emotional about what to make for dinner. Now most of you probably know that I take every opportunity available to go out to eat, because I love eating out, and especially love that I don't have to prepare and clean up dinner! I don't do a whole lot of spending otherwise, but that's one thing I can often find myself justifying. :) But this was different. It wasn't that I just didn't want the work. It was that I felt like I wasn't doing a good job of celebrating my mom this year, and it was quickly becoming a bigger and bigger issue in my head.

So Steve offers for us to go out to eat, and we decide on Arby's for a couple reasons. First of all, I remember many times of stopping in LeMars to eat at Arby's. And once, we were all on the Atkins diet, but Arby's was having a really good deal Beef 'N' Cheddars. So we went and got a huge tray full of the sandwiches, and then took off the bottoms of each one (to honor mr. atkins) and ate them all as open faced upside down sandwiches. And another time we remembered was sitting in the sioux city mall parking lot eating Arby's subs, and just NOT understanding how they could possibly be so good. That was another Arby's deal that we overabused at the time. :) AND...since my mom LOVED coffee, and I don't, I thought that jamocha shakes were the perfect way to give me and my kids a taste of "coffee" to be like Grandma Sharon. It might sound dumb to you, but that arby's sub and shake were just what I needed to celebrate my mom's birthday.

When we got home, it was well past their bedtime, but I just had to read the Grandma Sharon Story to each kid, and also Love You Forever. I couldn't find the Velveteen Rabbit (another favorite) but we didn't have tons of time anyway. So first I read the Grandma Sharon Story to Brielle. We talked all about Grandma Sharon, and pointed to the Lillian character and pretended it was Brielle. She had lots of questions (that's Brielle? that's Grandma Sharon? that's you? that's Brielle?) so it was hard to get too emotional about it all...

Then we went into the big kids' room to read Love You Forever.

I had been so strong all weekend. So many people were asking me how I was, and I honestly said I was fine. Of course it was hard, but I was doing alright. I had lots of things to celebrate instead of crying for four days straight, and I was fine.

But as I read the first few pages of Love You Forever, and imagined my mom reading that book to Lillian as a little baby, and thinking about how much she's missed since then, and thinking of myself as the mom with the baby, and knowing that someday I'll be the one who's gone, and..., and..., and... it was never-ending. It was like my mind went crazy and in just a few seconds, I thought of every sad thing I've ever felt about my mom ever. and I cracked.

I tried so hard to keep my composure. I certainly didn't want the very last memory of GSD:2010 for my kids to be thier mom bawling and not able to read to them. So after a few pages of shaky voice/wet face reading, I regained composure and finished the book.

It's not that I don't want my kids to see me sad or missing my mom or crying or anything. They've seen that PLENTY over the last four years. It was just that I knew that if I let myself really cry right there in that moment, it wasn't going to stop.

So instead, I finished the book, watched Parenthood, and went to bed. I was fine in my bed... thinking of all the things that needed to get done today (which are still undone, by the way). And then suddenly I was bawling. Like, weird noises, body shaking, hard to breathe crying. the kind where your heart actually hurts, and it's not a figure of speech. all in an instant. It was a release that I needed, and still came so unexpectedly.

And I just let myself cry. Thinking about how much I miss her. And wondering if the whole "crying for my mommy" thing is ever going to end. And realizing all the grandbabies she's missed out on, and wondering why in the world God would only give her a little tiny taste of being a grandma. And on that note, why would he take someone from this earth who so clearly loved Him and could do SUCH great things for His kingdom? And thinking of all the times when I wish I could call her and ask her dumb questions about sewing or cooking or whatever, let alone the major stuff I wish I could talk to her about. And thinking about Josiah almost BEGGING me to be with Grandma Sharon ("mommy, PLEASE can we see Grandma Sharon!"). thinking about the pinkadink, and how I know she'd love that I'm doing that. and wondering if I can still remember what her voice sounded like. and all the little things I think about all throughout the year. and how it's NOT FAIR. really. that's what I think about.

So I'm not sure what I was feeling last year, because I didn't write it down. But this year I think it's safe to say that I almost use GSD to hide behind. To focus on the fun stuff instead of the hurt. and I think it's okay to do that a little bit. But maybe this year was a little excessive in the hiding area. and as soon as I realized it, it broke me down. And while maybe it was good for my heart to let the hurt out a little, and maybe even feel a little sick from it... really, it just reinforced the fact that when I'm sick, I still just want my mom.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I feel like I've been really hard on my kids lately. My expectations are so high. I like them high, don't get me wrong, but I just feel like maybe I'm not responding appropriately when they are not met.

So lately I've been trying to think about their perspective. Like, if I was smaller, and some big huge person was always yelling at me and telling me what I'm doing wrong all the time, I'd probably be quite stressed out and I can't honestly say that it would make me do everything right. And while I know that my kids don't have the same brains as adults, and it's my job to raise them well, so the analogy is not 100% accurate, it helps me. It makes me think about my tone, my body language, my demeanor.

And I'm trying to remember that they can't read my mind. So when I ask them to do something, they don't know the exact way I imagine it getting done. Like when I say, "Can you close the door please" I imagine her closing the door with her hand on the doorknob. So when she decides to close it with her chin, very slowly and backwards and not at all the way ANYONE but her would imagine closing it, it doesn't mean she's disobeying.

And when I say, "come over here buddy so we can take this picture," I imagine him getting up and walking over, not crawling/crab-walking over and staining his knees. he wasn't disobeying, he was being an obedient puppy/crab. So I had to ask him to STAND up and walk over.

(I was going to think of an example of Brielle too, but can't quite think of one that's actually NOT disobeying. Because she's two and she has a big brother and big sister and a bunch of daycare kids trying to take her stuff and boss her around and borrow her mommy, and I guess she thinks that disobeying and freaking out stuff is going to help her out somehow. So that's all I can really think of right now....)

so anyway, just because I wrote about it doesn't mean that I have it down. But it's a work in progress. Every day (okay, maybe more like every hour) I try to coach myself not to automatically react how my brain wants to. Controlling my mouth is something I can do in every other area of my life, so I figure I can probably do it with the kids too.

Lillian, Josiah, and Brielle, I apologize for times when I totally freak out. Please don't remember that about me. I'll keep on trying to see the many many ways you obey, instead of how you don't do it the way I imagined. You're all so creative and wonderful, and I'm trying to remember that. Love, Mommy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

photo fun

I've been having some fun photographing other people lately, and thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

first up, sweet Maddie. She's the cutie I watch 4 or 5 days a week, and for her 6 month bday, I wanted to take some pictures for her mommy. and she was super easy. :)

next up, Deven. He lives across the street from me and one day his mom was venting to me about the cost of senior pictures, and how you have to turn something into the office for a photo, and she didn't know what to do! well I did! We headed over to an alley in Benson, and voila, senior pictures.

and finally, our good friends and sort-of-neighbors, the Wiswells. They wanted some fall family pictures outside, but didn't want to go far or make a big fuss, so we headed around the block to the neighbors awesome leaves that had been falling and crunching under our feet on the way to the bus every day! here's a collage of my favorites.

great weather, great people, great times. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Aria update

Remember when, for my 100th post, I encouraged my readers to donate a couple bucks to raise $100 for Aria?

well, since that day, many exciting things have happened in the life of little Aria.

In New Zealand, where they are from, a major news station did a story on this sweet family, and it's now available online. So, if you want to check it out, grab a tissue and click here.

and if you feel led, go ahead and click back up on that 100th post link and make a donation. but either way, please keep this little one and her homesick parents in your prayers.

what a GREAT story by a GREAT God...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

holy moly...that was an event

you have no idea by looking at THIS...

how traumatizing tonight was for this girl.

see the hair? that's clearly the result of a major event. Remember her kindergarten shots? (well, maybe you don't, because it just might be on my list of things for my REWIND series...) anyway, I had to pin her down and lay on her so the nurse could give her shots.

Well, tonight was pretty close to that. Not quite so bad, but bad enough that I had two choices: laugh at her or cry with her. I chose to laugh, but the poor girl was scared to death. She did NOT want us getting that tooth out. the one that's been loose for like 6 weeks or so. But when I saw that the SHARP part on the bottom was sticking out and cutting her gums open because she refused to let us touch it and just let it dangle out the front of her gums like that????? something had to be done.

so I told her I didn't want her to go to bed and swallow it and have it cut up her tummy like it cut up her gums. what...not like YOU'VE never used scare tactics before! ok, well, the only thing was that she didn't care. She just did NOT want to have her arms pinned down by Daddy. So after like 3o minutes of d.r.a.m.a.... I lied. I told her I wasn't going to pull it. and then I did.

and she was thrilled! so much so that she wanted to ask the tooth fairy if she could keep it. (for the sake of time I wrote out what she said and let her sign her name. because GOOD GRIEF, it should not have taken that long in the first place.)

So Lillian, my dear, good job for being brave even when you didn't want to. I'm proud of you, and so thankful that you didn't make us lay on you again.

and so begins the seemingly never-ending phase of really awkward teeth...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rewind: B's birthday

So, after our fun filled trip to Ohio, I thought maybe things would slow down a bit, but of course they don't.

The weekend of Brielle's birthday was a busy one! We had a wedding to attend on Saturday, and a birthday party on Sunday, so we decided to add one more thing to the weekend and do it all while camping!!

Steve and I actually didn't camp too much. Brielle was pretty sick on that Friday night, her actual birthday. :( So we decided to wait til Saturday to head up to Paulina, and by the time we got there, it was about time for us to be in OC to meet a couple who was considering the same program in Spain that I did. We basically just dropped the kids off, set up the tent SPEED style, and off we went.

Steve and I LOVED living in Spain, mostly. :) Of course while we were there I remember being ready to hop on the next plane home a few times, but now when we think back on it, we remember the very best of everything, with only a few funny "bad" stories. So anyway, it was SO fun to have an hour or so to just reminisce about when life was so easy and we had someone to do all our cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. oh, and not to mention living in quite possibly the most beautiful city ever. Spending almost every waking minute of every day together, just us. Really really good memories....

After all that reminiscing and almost feeling like we were young again :) we got ready and went to Joel and Laura's wedding! I was always pretty close with Mr. Stauffer, my homeroom teacher for three years. So it was very fun to watch him marry his best friend, who also happens to be my future step-cousin. :) is that a real thing??? :) But since their day was busy and you never really get to talk to the bride and groom much at the wedding, we filled most of our time up by talking to other teachers we had in high school and getting sore cheeks from all the laughing! Mr. Herman and Mr. Bundt taught history and math, probably my two least favorite subjects EVER, but for some reason, I enjoyed those two teachers so much. And they also happened to coach track, which I also hated. In fact, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit thinking about getting last place in every 100 meter dash I ever ran. AP History, Calculus, and track were all electives, so I think it's safe to say that the only reason I was involved with any of them was because I really liked those two guys. So it was fun to sit and chat at the reception with them (and Maria, Tyler, and Mel). I left the reception wondering if my kids will ever have that type of thing with their teachers (and also why I didn't take my camera to get a picture of me and my hubs all dressed up...). GRRR...

Poor Brielle had been sick that whole day, with fevers up to like 105 if she didn't get her Tylenol soon enough. It was so sad, but she was such a trooper. Most of the time you could never even tell that she was sick! She slept in the tent that night with me and Steve, while the big kids slept in Beso and Grandma's "new" camper! You'd think that after all the hype about the new camper, they'd moan and groan about the thought of ever sleeping in our tent again, but we actually found ourselves promising that when we went camping the next time, they could sleep in our tent. weird....

In the morning, we spent some time on the beach and then had a little party, and celebrated the fact that my baby girl is now two. And once again I'm struck by the fact that the days drag on, but the years fly by.

It's a good thing we got a good shot of her adorable cake, because soon enough we had a hand slide right through the frosting!

But here's Miss B looking perfectly happy even with her crazy high fever...

And just like that the hustle and bustle was over. I'll admit that I was a bit tired and hot and mad that the battery for my "good camera" was dead, but Brielle got lots of fun stuff for her birthday, and really seemed like she was having fun. She definitely zonked out while we cleaned up, though. Poor thing spent the whole weekend burning up, inside and out. (This was one of the CRAZY hot weekends of the summer!)

see that paci? our plan was to take it away the weekend she turned two. well, then she got sick, so we just couldn't do that to her then.... and then.... and then... and then... and then... and after I finally didn't have any more excuses, I just clipped that nipple right off there, and her paci was "broken." but that's a story for another post. But to answer your question, NO! she does NOT still sleep with her paci! woo hoo!

We stopped at the urgent care clinic when we pulled into Omaha and found out that sure enough, she had an infection about everywhere you possibly can get one, and got her on some antibiotics right away. That helped our poor "baby" feel so much better, and left me kicking myself for not just doing it sooner. ah, well, live and learn I guess. and then blog about it so you don't forget. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rewind: OHIO

This will be the first in a series of REWIND posts, to catch up on almost everything that has happened in our house since I started daycare. I feel like I don't have much time anymore to do anything, and the blog is always the first to go. I feel like I'm forgetting stuff already! So i just want to have these things documented, even if it's not fresh in my memory.

so, without further ado...REWIND: OHIO

It's hard to live far away from family. I only SORT OF know that. I live 'close enough' to lots of family, but often still find myself wishing there was SOMEONE right here. Because as awesome as friends are, they just aren't family.

Well, Angela, my oldest sister, has lived the farthest away since college. She lived in Chicago for a while, but that was actually awesome. We could get 34 dollar one way tickets and take a weekend to be there, hanging out in Chicago, and it was just really fun. Well, nothing against the Buckeye state, but Ohio just isn't quite the same. Actually, there's still lots of fun stuff to do, but mostly it's just WAY TOO FREAKING FAR AWAY.

Unfortunately for them, they spend about a gazillion dollars a year traveling to visit our family in Iowa, and Insoo's family in Florida. They are always traveling to be with us, and rarely get to have family there with them. I got to go out there (with no kids!) while we waited for Isaiah to arrive (and missed it by one day, which also happened with Griffin, by the way...grrr...), but other than that, I hadn't been there at all. And my kids had never been to their cousins' house, which was a major deal to all four of them old enough to care.

So planning began for the great minivanapalooza of 2010. Basically, that just means that my two other sisters and I crammed my minivan FULL of luggage, kids, tires, toys, snacks, and PILLOWS to drive through the night to have a few days in Ohio. Every single seat was taken by a person, plus one in Maria's belly, and a whole lot of stuff. I mean a LOT. I wish I had taken a picture, but we had DRIVING on the brain.

We left in the evening so that the kids could maybe watch one movie before it got late and dark and then they could fall asleep and sleep blissfully through the night til we magically arrive at their cousins' house! Okay, we knew it PROBABLY wouldn't go that wonderfully, but how bad could it be? BAD. that's the answer.

Poor Hazel cried the entire way there, except for about two hours (maybe) between midnight and about 2:00. There was absolutely NOTHING we could do to calm her down, and oddly enough, instead of driving us totally crazy, we all just really wanted to cry with her we felt so bad. It was that thing, you know, where they're trying to sleep, but crying out in thier sleep, and something is so clearly bothering them, but they can't tell you, so they just cry and cry and cry and cry, and even mommy sitting there with her big belly in the way trying to calm her down, and even Auntie A blowing in her face and stroking her cheek and singing songs, and even Auntie Mel doing whatever she tried to do didn't work, so she just cried and cried and cried. It was awful. My kids were troopers and slept though most of it, or if they woke up, just kind of looked around and figured out that "oh, THAT'S the noise that I keep hearing in my dreams" and went back to sleep.

We finally made it to McDonalds, just an hour or so out of Columbus, and got some breakfast. I was able to sleep for an hour or so before that, but we were all pretty exhausted. We finally made it to 7727 and were ready for a whirlwind of a time together. :)

We spent our time doing a variety of things. I'll do my best to document some of it in pictures. I tried so hard to remember to take pictures, since so often we find ourselves so busy that the time goes by without a single photo to document it.

We had lots of fun eating together, in a variety of settings: outside on the lawn, inside on the carpet, wherever you could find a spot at the tables, at Chic-Fil-A, and even a couple picnics at the park! And mmm....looking at that awesome summer food makes me wish summer had lasted a little longer...

It was so fun to watch the kids play together. It's been a process, ya know? There always seems to be a "phase" that the kids are going through, whether it's hitting, biting, not sharing, screaming, you name it. But this time, I think it's safe to say that there wasn't a whole lot of fighting! Not that there wasn't a challenge sharing two boys' toys among six kids, but I don't really remember anything major! (but maybe that's just how brains work...we remember the good stuff) :)

We got to see lots of family while we were there too! Angela lives about two hours from my mom's two brothers, so we got to see each of them and their families! It was great! (oh rats, I don't have any pictures from when Verlyn, Barb, Ashley, Cassi, and Nate were there...ugh...)

We also got to celebrate two special days! Even though Elliot's bday wasn't til August, he had an awesome early bday party so we could be there to celebrate! It was a CARS theme at the bouncy house, and man did the kids (and grown ups) have fun! :)

We also got to celebrate the 4th of July. Nothin better than popsicles and sparklers! (We actually left on the 4th, so we did sparklers on the 3rd)

And, one of the very best moments of our whole time together was our sisters' night out. I don't actually have any pictures of that, but we just went to hang out and talk and eat avocado rolls and cheesecake and coffee/cocoa. We sat and talked and laughed and remembered and just enjoyed each other's company, without the interruptions of our wonderful children. It was truly a memorable night. In fact, when we got home, we went up to Ang's bed and continued the talking, laughing, and maybe even crying. These girls are my best friends. forever.

So the fact that we drove many hours with a crying baby (Hazel did better with the crying on the way home, but definitely traded it for puking- nothin a couple moms can't handle though-) and stayed in a hot little two bedroom townhouse and put four kids ages 5 and under to sleep in the same room and argued over who got to ride the trike, and what kind of pizza to order, and who got to kick the ball, it was all worth it. just like we knew it would be.

Sadly, the great minivanapalooza of 2010 cannot be an annual event, since we already don't all fit in my minivan! We knew it would be a one shot thing, so we did it, with no regrets....except maybe we'd stay just ONE day longer.... :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm finding myself SO tired lately. And let me assure you, it's NOT for a lack of rest. Every night at about 7:30 or for SURE 8:30, I find myself resting on the couch, almost unable to move. And then at about 10:30 or 11, I find myself still there.

It's that terrible cycle where I know that if I'd just get my butt up and exercise, then I'd have way more energy every day. But it's that whole UP word that's throwing a kink in things. :)

But the other day I was reminded by this incredible article, why exactly it is that I'm exhausted. It's not necessarily even a physical exhaustion. It's just everything.

Have you read this? If you're a mom I'm sure you'll love it. If you're a dad, I'm sure you'll appreciate it. If you're a single parent I'm sure you're just plain awesome. I'm not sure I could do all this alone. And thankfully, I don't. But I DO do it all day, which is...well...exhausting. :)

So here's to all parents out there, and the 7 little ones in my care that I love so dearly, even when I'm exhausted.

(if you click on it, you can see it bigger)

Friday, August 20, 2010

bus party

You know that feeling when your heart breaks in a million little pieces?
That feeling has come over me about a million times this week.
And that's just too many millions.

We've come a long way this week. Lillian went from: being brought to and picked up from school, bawling and begging not to go, clinging and crying when I had to leave, begging to sleep in my room just for a little more time with me, and even hiding from me in the morning once, to: riding the bus home yesterday, crying just a little, a "good" day yesterday, riding the bus to AND from school today, and an "awesome!" day today to top it all off! Today still had its struggles for sure. She was scared to death to get on the bus, and cried a little bc she lost her kissing stone. But the girl who came off the bus this afternoon is the girl I knew would show up eventually.

It was so strange...watching this little person who you think you know as well as yourself act TOTALLY different than you ever expected in a situation. I'm so glad to see she's getting through it.

On Monday I thought we'd never get there. (I mean, I KNEW we would, but it just FELT like we wouldn't.) And today she doesn't even have time to talk or snuggle with me. She's too busy playing.

it's good.

To get Lillian excited about riding the bus to and from school today, I made a 'bus cake' to celebrate the day. My friend Jeannie made one for her kids for a back to school treat, and I thought it'd be perfect for a riding the bus treat too. :)

The kids think I'm the cake boss. :) but I think I'll leave the cake baking to Sara Crane. :)

here it is....the "masterpiece" ;)

so proud of herself for riding the bus (or maybe just excited to eat the cake)
(see how the wonderfully constructed school bus stayed in tact? never mind the fact that it went completely lopsided and now looks like a cartoon or something. the kids didn't care!)

and a (sort of) group shot.
happy happy day. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

we survived...barely.

ohhhhhhhhh man....

who would have thought that today would be so emotional. remember how I JUST wrote that I was ready for this day? apparently my head was, but my heart was not. :(

I don't even know what to say about it.

I knew she was really nervous. She was telling me that she didn't want to leave this early and get home at four, that it was too long. And that she didn't want to ride the bus (she knew that was coming, even though she didn't ride it today), and that she didn't know if she was going to make friends, and that she wanted to eat lunch with me. And seriously, how am I supposed to be strong after that? It was all stuff we had talked about before, but my heart was slowly breaking, all the way to school.

When we finally got there, I climbed in the back seat of the van and prayed with her, only I LOST IT in the middle of the prayer. And when she realized I was just not saying "amen" she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and saw me bawling. And oddly enough, that seemed to make her stronger. So I got a grip, and we went into the school with tearstained cheeks and bloodshot eyes.

Long story short, the little girl I do daycare for who also goes to the school didn't have her transportation info lined up yet, so the school wouldn't put her on the bus with Lillian. So I ended up picking them up after school too. Lillian was so relieved that she didn't have to ride the bus alone, and to be honest, I was too. But anyway, it took a long time for us to get that all figured out, so I was waiting in the hall a while too, and just couldn't stop the tears.

Thank goodness that my sister and brother were visiting, so it gave me a chance to leave my kids and the daycare baby here while I took Lillian to her first day, and again while I picked her up. I don't know why I'm always surprised when God works out really awesome situations like that.

This afternoon, I expected a smiling, excited, and bubbly 5 year old to come bounding out of the school, and I guess she was like that. But it wasn't because she loved school, it was because she finally got to be back with me. She barely said anything except "bad day" and "the WHOLE second recess I just sat on the bench the WHOLE time because I was SO sad and I missed you so much, and when I thought about it, it almost made me cry." That's how she summed up the whole day. BREAK MY HEART.

So tonight she lays in her bed, scared to death to leave the in the morning and get on the bus. She asked to sleep on our bedroom floor so she could be close to me, and I almost want to let her. But of course I know that the longer it takes us to get into a rhythm of how life will really be, the worse it will all get. So we'll just have to get through it.

and hope that tomorrow I can keep my composure. But it's not looking likely since i can't even write this blog post without crying...

so, how 'bout some pictures of her first day. and then I'll head to bed, because we all know that 'sleepy makes weepy.'

*my big girl on her big day

*saying goodbye to their big sis (Brielle JUST got out of bed).

*a hug from the J-man

*a hug from Brielle

*a hug from a mama trying desperately to be strong
*trying to figure out how my little baby got so big!
*by her locker (can you tell she's getting nervous???)

*she found Kaylee, which helped the nerves a little

*right before mommy left and cried some more

okay, so at least I have cute pictures to remember the day by. Here's hoping that we survive tomorrow. (the whole bus thing might get the best of me...)