Sunday, December 14, 2008

Memory Making

I realize that my blog has been silent lately, but we have been busy making memories. Memories that I hope stay with my children well past their childhood. We haven't been doing anything special, just the usual holiday things, but they have been special to us, because we have done them together as a family.

We have taken Christmas card photos and addressed envelopes. We have decorated our trees and strung lights outside. We have listened to Christmas music. We have baked cookies and completed our Christmas shopping. We have been to parties and visited with Santa! But, we have also been doing lots of snuggling by the twinkling lights of the tree and drinking hot chocolate. We have learned new songs together and talked about the birth of Jesus more. We have talked about those who are less fortunate than we are, and we have been reminded to count our blessings. We have simply enjoyed being together, making memories as a family. .

Kate's sleeping is going wonderfully! For two straight weeks, she has gone to bed at seven pm and not woken up until five am. It has been bliss. I can't even explain to you how refreshing this is for Boss and I. Yay for parenting books! And can I just say that both of my girls are growing up so quickly? Sometimes when I look at them, I just want to freeze time. It's going by too fast. I saw an old friend at the mall the other day, and she commented that I now had two big girls... no more babies! She was right!

And speaking of babies, you may have noticed that I haven't broached the subject of adoption in a long while, mainly because our minds have gone in many different directions over the past year. But the short of it is, the adoption plans are back on. We are ready to send our completed home study in. We just need to choose an agency. We have it narrowed down to three, and I believe we may tackle that after the first of the year.

So many exciting things to look forward to! I can't tell you the peace I have felt in my heart lately. Usually, I am a bit of an anxious person, but lately, I have felt peace and I am thankful. Boss' job is still up in the air, my job can be quite draining at times, my little girls have needs that need to be met, and we aren't sure which agency to choose, but we have decided that all of those things can wait until January. For now, we will enjoy each other. Memory Making. That is what we will do.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Randomness

I would like to ask that you keep praying about Boss' job for next year. The fundraising to keep the school open and operating is not going well, but we have heard there might be some other options that the board of directors is considering to keep the school open. Boss LOVES his job, and it is my prayer that he gets to keep doing what he loves to do.

Anyway, with me not knowing if we will be homeschooling next year or not, I have been trying to get my hands on all of the school stuff (teaching materials) that I can. Emma has already learned so very much in her one semester of preschool, and I have been so impressed. She can write all of her letters and numbers, make all of the letter sounds, and she is learning to blend the sounds together in order to learn to read. It is awesome to watch it all come together for her! I just love the methods that her teacher has used, and I have been keeping all of her papers so that I can use these ideas for Kate when the time comes.

Here are some cute rhymes to teach your children when helping them to learn to write numbers :

1 Down you run and one is done.

2 Around and down and back this way.
Two is fun to make each day.

3 Around a tree.
Around a tree.
This is how to make a three.

4 Down and over and down some more.
This is how to make a four.

5 Short neck, belly fat. Number five
wears a hat.

6 Down a line and around in a loop.
See how six rolls a hula hoop?

7 Over to the right and down from Heaven,that is how to make a seven.

8 Make an "S" but do not wait, Go back
up and you have an eight.

9 Make an egg, and then a line.
Now you have a fancy nine.

Also, a sleep update. I am seeing small improvements! Last night, Kate slept from 7:30 pm until 5:30 am. That's 10 solid hours, with no waking in between! Way to go Kate! For the most part, I have had her in bed by 8:30 every night and she has been going right to sleep. Until today, she was still waking around 4:30 am, but I was making her stay in bed until 5 am, before allowing her to start the day.. I have also been making sure that she naps no longer than two hours each afternoon, and that it is not too late in the day. As I said, I definitely see improvements, so we will keep plugging a long.

Tomorrow is the last day of school before Thanksgiving break and I am so excited! This year ALL of the big girls will be getting to visit their families for the holidays and I am so happy for them! Their behavior has come so far this last year. So, that also means that we get to spend the holiday with just our little family, so that will be a nice break and change. We will be spending the time with some of our family and good friends. Bring on the holidays! Have a good week, friends.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being a Parent Won't Control MY Life

A few years ago, Boss and I went out to dinner with some friends of ours and their two year old daughter. I was newly pregnant with our first daughter, Emma, and was living in raising a child is going to be so easy, I don't see what all the fuss is about land. Remember that land? The one where you had a pre pregnancy figure and your face lacked lines because you actually slept eight consecutive hours a night? Ahh...ignorance sure was bliss. Back to my story.

So, we arrived at our table for dinner, but before our friend's daughter even had a chance to misbehave, the wife whisked her to the back of the restaurant and started pacing with her. I must have given the husband a perplexed look, because he just laughed and said, We now eat in shifts. That way (insert child's name here) stays entertained, and we each get a turn to eat in peace. You just wait and see. Your turn is coming soon. Excuse me? Was he really suggesting that just because Boss and I were about to become parents, that our eating in a restaurant together days were over?

We continued our meal, and when it was over, Boss and I asked our friends if they wanted to get dessert. Just at that moment, the wife must have looked at her watch and realized that it was past their child's bedtime, because I promise you, they were out of that restaurant in two minutes flat with words of, Oh no, now her schedule will be off, and This is going to ruin the rest of the week, ringing loudly behind them. As expecting parents, this couples behavior towards their child was alarming! I am pretty sure Boss and I enjoyed our dessert in peace that night and talked about how we were NEVER going to be like that couple and let our child control our lives. Not us. Becoming parents wouldn't change our lives! I was an on the go, go with the flow type of girl, and schedules and routines really just weren't for me. My life would not change at all. I was sure of it.

Four short (yet incredibly long, all at the very same time) years later, I have found that it is time I eat my words. Yesterday, I bought my very first self help/parenting book. It is called The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, and I am hoping and praying that it has all of the answers that I need, because here is the truth..... I am a parent and Emma and Kate are beginning to control my life. Two little pint sized girls are beginning to send Boss and I over the edge with their sleeping (or lack thereof) habits. It is time for us to regain control.

Here is a sneak peak in to a typical night at our house... (but if I share this, you must promise not to judge too harshly!)

9:00 PM - All of the big girls head to their rooms, and I begin to think about getting my kids to bed. Sometimes, they get a bath in the evening, or sometimes, we just put on jammies and bathe in the morning.

9:30 PM - I put the girls on the couch in front of the Goodnight Show on PBS, and get angry when they constantly get off the couch and are hyper, all the while praying that they will simply fall asleep while watching, so that I don't have to deal with bedtime.

10:00 PM - I put Kate in bed.

10:15 PM - Emma gets in bed with us until she falls asleep, and then I move her to a pallet on the floor beside our bed.

10:15 - 4:00 AM - Emma tries to get back in our bed several times, and I am constantly putting her back on her pallet.

4:30 AM - Kate wakes up for the morning and won't go back to sleep. She eats breakfast, plays, and watches cartoons.

7:00 AM - Kate crashes just as the rest of the house is waking up. Boss and I are grumpy before the day has even begun. And this has been going on for two years now. Seriously.

(Wow, I'm embarrassed to read about how out of control our nights have been!! Who wears the pants in this relationship? Wait, silly question. I think it's quite obvious.)

The time has come for me to develop what I once despised...a routine. I will now be one of those parents who will leave an event early, so that my child can make it home in time for bed.

Here are some things we are going to try:

* I am moving dinner to a set time of five o'clock, so that I have plenty of time to have a peaceful bedtime routine with the girls.

* We will have snack, bathe, get jammies on, brush teeth, read stories, sing songs and pray at the same time, and in the same order, every night. I am eliminating ALL nighttime TV, even from my big girls, so there isn't noise, stimulation, and commotion in the living room.

* Bedtime will be at 8:30 PM. (Did you know the author of this book says that for most young children, their natural bedtime is between 6:30 and 7:30 PM? Are you kidding me? That would be awesome, but we'll try for 8:30.

* I haven't decided if I will walk Emma back to her bed every time she gets out, or let her crawl in with us for now, as long as she starts out in her bed. I may want to tackle Kate's problems of sleeping past 4:30 AM, before moving on to Emma.

* When Kate wakes, we won't let her crash for her morning nap at 7 am. This has been torture for all of us the past three days! We also won't let her eat breakfast right away. She has to wait until the rest of the family is up. Hopefully, her body will begin adjusting to this new schedule, and over the next few months we will begin to see some changes.

So there you have it. We are now on a very strict evening schedule. If you see us out at one of Boss' games and I rush out the door at half time, it is because my children now have a bedtime and I have joined ranks with the parents I found weird only four short years ago. And if your children sleep perfectly, and you knew the wisdom of having a schedule and routine long ago, then I'm not sure I want to hear from you....maybe in a few months when my children are sleeping well, too. Then we can talk.

On a serious note, being a good mom is the most important thing in the world to me and I just want to do a good job. As with everything else in life, I am learning as I go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Learning to Simply Be

Lately, this space has been void of deep thoughts. It isn't that I haven't been thinking them (in fact, my deep thoughts have been keeping me up at night), but rather I have had trouble putting them in to words. Many times I sit down to write, and end up erasing all that I have written several minutes later. The words just aren't coming. On one hand, I feel so blessed in this life. I have a loving, supportive husband who is very active in our family life, I have two beautiful daughters, a home which I love, plenty of food, enough extras to feel content, a rewarding job, and a hope that there is a place far grander, prepared for me when I leave this earth. Pretty amazing to think about! On the other hand, the earthly struggles I am currently facing (small as they might be), are beginning to wear me down and to break my spirit. I decided last night that I need to learn to  simply be.

I have never been good at just being. In high school, all I could think about was going to college. Once I reached college, all I could think about was being married. And once I was married, all I could think about was having a baby. After Emma came, I immediately started thinking and planning for baby number two (okay, maybe I took a small break from the planning, but you get the picture). And these past few years, now that two babies had successfully been added to our family, I had been largely focusing on what we were going to do with our lives. Where will we work? Where will we live? Who will we be? And can I be honest and say that I have already begun to stress about the fact that we haven't started planning for our retirement? All of these thoughts at the age of twenty six! Even I can recognize that I need to slow down and enjoy life as it comes, because the harder I try to hold on to everything and to steer life in the direction I think it should go, the faster it seems to slip through my fingers.

Sometimes, I regret rushing my way through high school and college. I regret that I did not spend more time with girlfriends. And while I love my children with my whole heart, I wonder what it might have been like to spend a few years alone with Boss . While I am not one to live in the land of regrets (I am too busy thinking about the future!), I am trying to recognize that I need to just be, or life is going to pass me by.

I am going to try not to worry that Boss does not have a guaranteed job for next year. God is already there. I am going to try not to worry that no job, could possibly mean no funds for an adoption. God is already there. I am going to try not to worry about what to do with my children when it comes to their education. God is already there.

Instead, I am going to try and focus on the here and now. I am going to enjoy each day with my husband. He will find work, as I believe God has great plans for his life. I am going to enjoy my daughters at age 2 two and four. They will only be this age for a year.

I don't want to miss what He has placed before me during this particular season in my life, because I am so focused on the seasons to come.

I don't listen to country music very often any more, but the other day a song came on the radio and I have thought a lot about the words.

You're gonna miss this.
You're gonna want this back.
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast.
These are the good times.
Take a good look around.
You may not know it now,
But you're gonna miss this.


I don't want to miss anymore. I simply want to learn to be.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall Fun Three

Last night was the children's home Annual Halloween Party. My little girls dressed as Dorothy and Glenda the Good Witch. Two of Angie's boys were the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. We wanted Cooper to be the scarecrow, but he opted to go as Iron Man instead. We went trick or treating from house to house and ended with a party in the gym. There was a costume contest, a magic show, and bobbing for apples.






































































Fall Fun Two

Emma's preschool had a fall party on Thursday. It was fun! The kids got to go to school in their costumes (Emma was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz) and there were fun games. Mama's got to come too, which made it even better. They played musical hay bales, wrapped each other in toilet paper as mummies, played a donut on a stick game, and searched for candy in straw. It was fun to watch Emma interact with and have fun with her new friends. Preschool has been such a wonderful experience for her !



























































Fall Fun One

I love fall. When I was growing up, Halloween was a big deal. I think it was because we lived in a foreign country, and most of the families who lived on our compound (yes, compound...funny how I live on a compound now, too) went on re pat to the United States during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but we were all together for Halloween, so it tended to be a very big deal. My mom would go all out with our costumes (usually homemade, my favorites being She-ra and an Egyptian Princess), household decorations, and parties. And, the elementary school would host a huge parade. Fun memories! I love any excuse to have fun with my children, while creating lasting memories for them to store in their childhood memory banks. Here are a few photographs from our fall, so far.
















Monday, August 25, 2008

Fly, Big Girl, Fly

On Monday, Emma started preschool, and it has been a very.big.deal around here. Boss and I are not sure what school path our family will wind up taking (public, private, or homeschool), but we have loved the process of getting our little girl ready for school.

I copied one mama's idea of buying a key chain to put on Em's backpack, so that when she looks at it she will remember always that mama loves her. I chose a butterfly, because my baby is now flying without me for the very first time in her life.

The first day of school was a smashing success, but leaving your baby does something strange to your heart. It hurts. If we do not homeschool, yesterday was the ending of an era. An era that consisted of staying in our jammies as long as we wanted, snuggling on the couch watching cartoons, having mama's helper as we picked up the house, having a constant chatter box by my side. It was the ending of an era where I was her whole world. Where family and home were all she knew. And while you know your little one does in fact need to test out her wings, you still want to be there to catch her in case she falls. It is hard to let go. Last night when I was tucking her in to bed, I said, Em, I am so happy that you like school. To which she replied, Mama, I don't like school, I LOVE school! Looks like my baby's wings are working just fine.

































Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Emma Funny

I have a new Emma funny to share. Emma has slept in our room for the past three years. That's right, three years. Now, before you judge my parenting, please know that Boss and I have tried EVERYTHING to get her to sleep in her own room, but given our living environment (she has to share a room with Kate, and we have six other girls in the house who need their sleep, too), it is simply easier to let her sleep in our room for now. Over the last several months, we have at least gotten her out of our bed and on to a pallet (or padlet, as she calls it) on the floor. And she has been lectured within an inch of her life on what will happen, should she ever try to crawl in our bed again! She has been cut off!

Anyway, last night at three am, I felt her trying to crawl in to bed with us. I was immediately dreading the battle that was about to ensue. But follow through is very important. Even at three in the morning.

So, in my stern mama voice I said, Emma, get down off this bed or so help me......!...you get the picture.

And then she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, But Mama, I had the most terrible dream.

You know my heart melted at that. What did you dream about?

And with the most serious expression you have ever seen on the face of a four year old, she said, I dreamed you sent me to school with ugly clothes on. (Insert tears falling down cheeks.)

And that, my friends, is my Emma. She loves wearing fancy clothes, as she calls them, and her worst nightmare is to go to school wearing ugly clothes. She is a princess, through and through. So, I pulled her in my arms, and I'll give you one guess as to where she slept for the rest of the night. Tough
parenting can wait for another day. For now, I just want to hold my princess.



 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Round Five

Meet Sammi. She is a little Cairn Terrier. We really weren't in the market for another dog (this would be our fidth dog attempt in five years of marriage), but our friends found her at the pound and we just had to give her a shot. She is the best! She is house trained, crate trained, she plays fetch, rolls the ball, and will follow us around outside without a leash. The girls adore her, the cats do not, and she has even stolen Boss' heart which says a lot. We love you Samantha Jane, and we are glad you have joined our family!





Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

My week has arrived! My birthday week, that is! Yes, I celebrate my birthday for an entire week. Don't you? When I was younger, I used to celebrate my birthday for an entire month, so it appears that I am maturing with age. But I do insist that my family go all out for my one week! Part of my present this year, was for Boss to redo our master bedroom and bath. Here is how it turned out!





















So, for my 26th birthday, I thought I would write down 26 things that you may or may not know about me. Here Goes:

1. My favorite drinks are sweet tea and coke.

2. Boss and I knew of each other for six months before we ever had a conversation, we dated for two months before becoming engaged, and were engaged six months before being married. Our friends thought we were crazy and many of them told us so. We have been happily married for five years!

3. I am incredibly afraid of elevators, and take the stairs EVERY time.

4. I struggle with fear and anxiety.

5. I am the mother of two amazing girls and hope to adopt one to two more.

6. I was in college for four years and still don't have a degree. I don't care. All I have ever wanted to be was a mama.

7. I have been a housemom for three years and have had over twenty foster kids in my care.

8. I LOVE my job.

9. I hate coffee, but love the smell.

10. I love to sleep. I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere.

11. I love taking a bath more than I love sleeping. Thank goodness our water is free!

12. When I was younger, I did not like my brother. Now he is one of my friends and I look forward to talking to him each week.

13. I am always late. I don't like that about myself.

14. I love to read.

15. Sometimes, I fantasize about being Amish. Weird, huh, given the whole bath thing.

16. I love correcting other people's grammar. I hate when my mom corrects mine.

17. I want to adopt a child.

18. I am scared to adopt a child.

19. My daughters take my breath away.

20. I am not good at saying "I'm sorry." I am working on that.

21. I do not deserve a husband like Boss. He is more than I could ever have imagined.

22. Even though Boss has a masters degree, last year we stood in line for welfare. It was tough on our pride. This year we have too many blessings to count.
God is good.

23. I am a Christian. I should do a better job of sharing my faith with others.

24. I have never smoked or been drunk. The girls in my house can't believe that.

25. I have written a few children's books, but have never sent them in to try and have them published.

26. So far, life is getting better with each passing year. I am enjoying growing up.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

This and That

My girls are growing so quickly. It seems Kate's speech has taken off, and Emma has blossomed from a toddler into a little girl over night. I have not been on the Internet as much as I used to be, and my only thought about this is that I seem to be living my life more, instead of only writing about it.

We are having a fun, yet busy summer! We are enjoying swimming in our little pool, eating popsicles, and spending time with daddy while he is off for the summer. We have also started the tradition of Friday nights at Grammy's. This is so special to me, because it was a tradition I shared with my grandparent's during my own growing up years. From the time I was seven (when we moved back to the states) until I left for college, every Friday night, my Grandma would have burgers, baked beans, and coke floats for whoever from the family wanted to come to her house. Sometimes all of my cousins and I were there with our friends, and sometimes there would only be a few of us, but it was always waiting there for us if we wanted it! So this past week when Boss and I were talking about what to do on Friday night, I suggested that we start Friday nights at Grammy's for our girls! So we did. We had burgers, baked beans, and coke floats, and then we went swimming at Grammy's pool, and it was just like old times. I love traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. I also love that our foster girls get to be a part of family traditions, as that is something that several of them have never experienced before.

Our work at the home here is going well. We are prayerful about the growth of the school where Boss works, and if it continues to grow, there are some possibly exciting positions that might open up for him there. I am continuing to enjoy working with the girls in my care. We really feel as if we are making a place, a home, for our family here, and I can't tell you how good that feels! We are also doing a lot of work on the house. We had hardwood floors put throughout the entry/kitchen/dining, we have painted nearly every surface of the upstairs level, and Boss has redone our master bedroom and bathroom for my birthday this month. I got to pick out new bedding/lighting/paint, etc.

Some awesome news is that it looks like one of my good friends and her family are moving here next month! I have been praying fervently for God to send me a girlfriend here, and I am so excited that things are falling into place. They houseparented with us in New Mexico, and Emma and Kate are excited for Carter, Cooper, and Cole to join the Mid Western family! Life is good! My birthday is next weekend and we are on relief, so Boss and I are thinking of a movie marathon, followed by big bowls of ice cream. Yum! I am looking forward to it. I am blessed to share my days and my life with the ones I love most in this world.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Birthday Business































The Zickafoose Cowgirls Want To Go For A Ride,
So Throw On Your Denim And Fancy Cowhide.

Saddle Up Partner, It Will Be So Much Fun,
With Pony Rides, Western Games, And Prizes To Be Won.

Emma's Turning Four And Kate's Turning Two,
To Celebrate Their Birthday's, We Need You!!