Monday, October 2, 2017

Phwew

This whole having-elementary-school kids thing is exhausting! For all involved!


Here she is in her school uniform on the first day of school! Shirt and belt are mandated, bottoms must be among a couple of variations approved by the school and shoes need to be solid black, brown or white. The knee-high socks were her own design inspiration.


Natalie had a great start to the school year, then once the first few weeks of honeymoon phase were over, she didn't want to go back, but now she accepts that it's an every-day-thing and seems to really enjoy it. Her teacher is wonderful and she's excited about all the stuff she's learning. She does come home pretty mentally and emotionally exhausted, though, and we're having lots of breakdowns between returning from school and Daddy coming home from work. Angela is finishing her last session of swim lessons for the year and joy school is going well. Angela thinks it's awesome that Mommy is home with her all afternoon and believes that my sole endeavor during those hours each day should be to sit beside her on the floor and help her do puzzles. Angela has been having a little trouble falling asleep in the car ride to pick Natalie up for school- it's a 45 minute round trip! Car loop so far has been rough but bearable and getting better- seems things have sped up a lot since the first week now that everybody knows the system. In the mornings, we sometimes park at the post office down the street and walk up to the school. She had breakfast at the cafeteria last week for Take Your Dad to Breakfast day and enjoyed it so much, she wants to eat school breakfast every day, which is awesome, cause it's free. Lunch is also free for a month as a relief effort folowing Hurricane Irma, but I don't want her in the habit. Instead, I pack her nutritious lunches so that she can throw them away and complain how starving she is.

This is Natalie choosing between options that I offered on how to get to school from the post office. She labeled her and Angela. They are working on labeling things in school and it's awesome. She now draws pictures with all kinds of 'kid words' pointing to the different things, like a My Little Pony scene with labels for 'ranbodath', 'spic', and 'tilitsprcl' (rainbowdash, spike and twighlight sparkle). There's a lovely one of 'mom' working in the kitchen, surrounded by 'cuvrb's, a 'senk' and an 'uvin', with the 'silleg' overhead and a 'windo' in the back. I love seeing her making connections between sounds and writing!




I have an obligation to do 10 hours of volunteer work each semester at Natalie's school and between my Dad, sister and a friend from church, I have submitted almost 300 box tops, enough to count for a little over 7 hours of service.

Getting the kids to cooperate proves an energy-sucking task as always
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I have some more pictures on a phone, but I can't convince it to communicate with my computer to download the pictures.  Micah will help me figure it out when we get some time. It's been a busy few weeks!





videoBefore Hurricane Irma, we got pretty well prepared- stocked with essentials to last us a while in case of catastrophic infrastructure collapse, most of our ground-level windows boarded up and all the potential projectiles from the yard stowed in the shed. We spent the storm with my Mom at her place in Tavares, FL. It was nice to spend the time with some company. It was stressful, but I felt pretty peaceful that everything would be alright. We went back home the day after the storm and our power had already been restored- many of our friends- and even our neighbors 2 doors down- had no power for 5 or 6 days. And it was HOT. I'm SO grateful we didn't have to go without air conditioning. We had quite a lot of tree debris- two medium trees down and lots of branches, but the house managed pretty well. Lost one fascia panel from the roof over the back porch. One additional issue that we didn't notice- 2 of our windows have shifted a bit around the edges and now have big cracks where the frames meet the house. We need to get some foaming caulk or something to seal it up, but haven't gotten around to it. This weekend we had a huge rain system move through, dropping over 10", and things were already so wet, it hasn't drained well. We've got big puddles all over the yard. I'm just grateful that we didn't have any flooding- LOTS of people we know around here have water damage inside their houses from the hurricane. We've spent a lot of our weekends cleaning up the yard and helping others who have made volunteer requests through Mormon Helping Hands, then yesterday Micah went out to Orlando for a conferance and will spend the week there. I am just doing my best to keep up with the kids, the house and the animals. We've got 2 cats that I agreed to take during the hurricane because their normal foster had to evacuate and couldn't take them, then she came home to a lot of damage, so they have stayed with us. They're pretty sweet, for cats.

All the chickens survived the storm, but then just last night, I arrived home late around 9:30 and went to lock up the chickens and one of them was gone, feathers were all over the coop, so we lost one more. The reddish one with the white tail, Speck. She was one from our first batch, so she was nearly 2 years old, a decent life for a chicken. Angela is certain that a polar bear snatched her. I can't bring myself to disappoint her by insisting that polar bears don't live here. I wish polar bears lived here. That would mean it was cold. There's just something about sweating in the 93* sun in October that makes you yearn to be farther north.



Monday, July 24, 2017

The End of an Era

In less than 3 weeks, I will have a child in school. No more doing whatever we want, whenever we want.  From now on our schedule will revolve around the public school calendar!
We're trying to live it up the last few weeks, but it is so oppressively hot that everything must revolve around pools, beach or air conditioned spaces! A couple of weeks back, we tried to go to a waterpark in Orlando but it was full to capacity, so we went to Seaworld instead- I just about died, it was so hot and muggy. I nearly cried when we didn't get splashed during the shamu show. We have been bowling, going to the library, the movies and the mall a lot. We get to buy Natalie's school uniform this week- I'm going to just get her 2 pairs and hope that they have a used uniform sale soon, because it's almost $30 for a top and bottom and they have to be purchased through this one supplier because they are embroidered with the school logo. I also tried to order all of Natalie's school supplies through walmart grocery pickup to avoid the crowds, but ended up with a few issues- mostly things not being the correct size because the descriptions of the products aren't always very detailed.

Work has been busy, with recent new staff members and lots of returning customers, which is good! I'm trying to take a step back and work a bit less while I get used to Natalie being in school. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy a couple of Saturdays at the beach or doing some other fun family trips. Not sure how free we'll really be, though- even on the Saturdays when I don't work, we still have kittens to take to petco in the afternoon! We've got 3 little boys right now who we've been 'growing'- should be neutered shortly and then put up for adoption. This one like to tease Sammy.


I've been going crazy lately, bouncing between frenzied eagerness to do things, to stay busy and active and entertain my kids; and hopeless exhaustion, discouragement over the constant messes, the interruptions, the perpetual lack of time or space for private relaxation. Maybe the start of school will ease the tension, maybe not. We're trying to decide what, if any, activities we should let the kids do outside of Kindergarten for Natalie- more swimming lessons, gymnastics, dance, etc. Our evenings would fill up quickly. I'm also concerned with how I'm going to keep Angela entertained- she has always had Natalie to play with, so I'm worried that she will demand my attention even more while Natalie's at school. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Photos

Here are a few photos from Micah's phone capturing the past few months, including last week's trip to the Orlando Science Center, some disneyworld visits in May, our trip to NC for spring break, our visit in SC with Jenkins cousins, Memorial day trip to Bathtub Reef with friends and Natalie's preschool graduation.


















Micah performing with his homeskillet, Belle








Don't tell the IRS, buuuuuuut I think there are 2 pots of gold in our back yard.






This is why I have not felt well-rested in 5 years


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth of July


We had a way-too-fun Fourth of July. Unfortunately, I took ZERO pictures during the excitement, so you'll just have to trust that I'm not fabricating any of this.

In the morning, we went to the Melbourne town parade- not that exciting, but fortunately quite short. By 11am in July, it's waaaaaaay too hot for crowds of people to be gathered outdoors, so it was perfect. Kids got a few lollipops but were disappointed that there wasn't as much candy as last year. In Natalie's mind, candy being thrown at parades is the very *essence* of America.

We had a few friends over for lunch- families from church and our neighbors with the 6-acre property whose barn is adjacent to the back of our property. We advertised the event as "12-2" but it was a little past 6:30 as we saw the last two families out. I'm happy they were enjoying themselves, but it was a little exhausting and I was eager to clean up. Every room in our house was covered in cookie crumbs and every toy was dumped out and scattered in rooms other than the ones in which they began. If I succeed at ANYHTING as a parent, I want my kids to know how to respectfully behave at other people's houses, including but not limited to making huge messes with food and toys.

We bought some fireworks to do at home instead of facing the traffic after the city fireworks. Our neighbors ended up inviting us over to set ours off together with them. It was very fun! People here looooove their fireworks. As a kid, I remember it being very, very rare to see someone setting off fireworks- even smaller ones- at their homes. Sparklers were as fancy as it got. Here, every few houses someone was setting off fireworks- big ones, not just the ones that shower sparks on the ground. Our neighborhood has thick trees, so we couldn't see everyone else's fireworks very clearly, but we could still see a LOT of colored explosives in the sky! We got home around 11pm and the kids were super exhausted by the end, but it was fun. Very different from what I'm used to. And we only did one of the 2 packs of fireworks that we bought, so maybe we'll save the rest for New Year's Eve! Fireworks were going off all night long, so we slept pretty poorly. I asked Micah this monring, "Weren't you supposed to leave for work an hour ago?" and he said, "It's a new fiscal year. I don't have to go to work."


Aaaaaaaand, in unrelated news, I am SO GLAD that we have this humungous 4-bedroom house just so that our two children can try to claim our bedroom closet as their room.


Took these photos today on my sister's old smartphone that she gave me- don't use it as my phone, but am determined to use it more for photos and apps! Now, if only I could remember to ever charge it. As a spoiled non-smart-phone user, I only charge once a week...

In other news, we're fostering a kitten- started with three, two got adopted and now the lone one is super sad and bored and is kind of an attention hog. Geez, I've already got enough of those under this roof! But he is super sweet, so hopefully he will be adopted soon.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June

We are currently 4 weeks into summer break and the excitement has not let up one bit!

We spent a week in Garden City, SC with Micah's family to celebrate his parents' 50th anniversary this year. The weather was pretty drab most of the week, but it was certainly an adventure.

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The girls had fun with their cousins. 



We swung up to Raleigh to meet my brother's new baby, Noah



Then drove back home with my sister's oldest son in tow. Last week, we had fun with him. We visited a sweet pool and went to the ocean, but rain brought most of our activities indoors- bowling and visiting the library, playing with play doh, etc.

This week, Natalie is going to vacation bible school at the Baptist church where she did preschool. She is seeing lots of kids and teachers she knew from preschool, as well as making new friends. She's enjoying all the play and crafts and, of course, learning all the new music. She and Angela are marching around the house right now, singing, "Sin messed everything up, everything up. Oh, no!" A couple of small nuances in what they're teaching that aren't quite in line with our beliefs, but overall she's hearing good messages and having a good time.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May, Oh My!

May has gone by so quickly and has been full of wonderful adventures as the schol year has drawn to a close


Angela finished her year of Joy School. She's pretty bummed that she still has to wait a whole year to go to preschool like Natalie, but hopefully we can get a group together with some of these kids and do it next year! 


Enjoying a fresh cotton candy sample while sitting in rocking chairs as we watch the crowds entering mainstreet, USA. We tried to squeeze in a few last trips to Disney before the weather crowds got too bad. This week, we're hoping to drop by for one last visit to check out a new attraction based on the world of Pandora from the movie "Avatar", then it will be no more Disney until August!

Emerging skills


 Angela opening birthday card from Grandma, with some intrusion from her older sister


And this is what Angela bought with the rest of her birthday money- a baby dumbo!

Jealous of Angela's money, Natalie decided to see what she had in her piggy bank and pulled out enough to buy dippin' dots next time we go to the pool!


Centerpieces I made for a funeral recently. Crazy successful and awesome guy in his mid-50's from our church dropped dead from a yet-unknown natural cause last week. It was pretty shocking and devastating. 



These shots were taken immediately before The Incident. You can see a bit of redness on her cheek in this shot. After I washed off the frosting, I noticed redness on her wrists as well. Then little white bumps began to pop up on the red areas. I rushed her into the bath to wash off whatever was on her skin that was irritating, but she just began to break out worse and worse. We got her out of the bath and she started to wipe her hand in her mouth and complain of feeling "spikeys" on her tongue. The rash and hives were pretty much all over her body, so Micah ran her to the urgent care. She got antihistamines and steroids ad was prescribed an epipen. The company that makes epipens has been under scrutiny lately for their inflated prices. It was gonna cost $300 for the generic version after insurance. There is this tricky way to get an injector made by a different manufacturer for only $9.99, but you have to have a prescription for the exact product -"generick epipen" wouldn't work, it had to be for the "adrenaclick" and so we had to call our pediatrician back a couple of times. First, the doctor looked at the report from the urgent care- which said that she had a local rash on her knee- and said that she didnt really need an epipen. We had to go in to explain that the situation had been much more serious. She did not recommend allergy testing because it is very expensive and often inconclusive, especially since we have no idea what allergen set it off. But we did finally get an emergency injector, which had to be from a CVS pharmacy, which we would not have intuitively gone to, since our insurance doesn't work with them. But, thats the only place that has a deal with the adrenaclick company to offer it affordably- at the pharmacy through Micah's employers' medical center, where our perscriptions are usually least expensive, the adreniclick was was $490. The whole process was very irritating and reminded me that the pharmaceutical industry is just a giant ripoff and that the health care industry, in general, is screwed up beyond repair because too many people are making too much money off of it. Angela continued to break out every time the antihistamines began to wear off for about 36 hours and since then she has been okay. We may never know what caused the reaction, but I'm glad that we're prepared in case it happens again and escaletes more severely.

The girls have done their first month of swim lessons. Natalie is mostly remembering the skills she learned last summer and following instructions. There was one incident where she was jumping off the diving board and was supposed to wait for the instructor, who was helping the previous student to the side of the pool, when she yelled, "HEY, MOM, WATCH THIS" and ran and jumped into the deep end. Fortunately, the instructor got back out quickly to help Natalie to the side.  Angela, this being her very first time doing swim lessons without me in the pool with her, is learning to blow bubbles with her nose (precursor to actually putting her head underwater, which may take all summer to achieve), kick her legs while holding onto the side and hop up and down. She has already scored her first major ear infection and I think pool water may have been the culprit.



Angela is learning to pedal and always begs to do bikes any time we pull into the garage.  

We bought $13 cups from the local gas station that we get to refill for free with slurpies, soda, lemonade and such through the end of July. I'm pretty sure we've already gotten our money's worth. It has heated up dramatically and it doesn't take much for me to agree to a slurpee run. Also, it's hard to turn down kids wanting to go to chicfila, where the air conditioned playplace provides a substitute for outdoor play.



We too a couple of days at the end of last week to visit a beach about 90 minutes south of us where there is good snorkeling, cool tide pools for the kids to explore, fishing and more. Natalie was so excited to go fishing, she was practicing casting her line for days beforehand. When we actually got out on the dock to fish, she was interested for about 15 minutes.





2 days at the beach and we were pretty exhausted. The sun really takes in out of you!


One of those moments that I wanted to capture to show some future prom date or fiancee or something, but my camera is dying from abuse from kids in spite of continuous pleas not to touch it. It struggles to take a clear picture anymore. 


This was our fun activity for this afternoon, our first day of summer break that we found ourselves sitting around the house with nothing to do.


Natalie with her preschool teacher. Their end-of-year program last wednesday was adorable and I am so grateful for the amazing program she has been in- she has learned so much and loved it. She scored 99% on the kindergarten readiness screening and is less afraid of going on to kindergarten that she was a couple of months ago.

And here is a cute photo that Natalie took of Angela with one of her primary leaders with my Expensive Camera.