Warning: This is one of those notes for those with stronger stomachs. If you are about to eat, in the process of eating, or if it is easy for you to "lose your lunch", go ahead and skip this one. You have been warned!
It's Monday. As it is with most Mondays, it's hard to get going first thing in the morning. It's made even harder when a certain smell is detected emanating from a certain child's room. The 16-year-old "youngest" one who likes to save up so that she can blow out her diaper. She is not regular in taking care of business. It's usually saved up over a period of three or four days, sometimes a week. So when she goes, it's a big stinky mess. It's even worse if the deed has been done early in the evening and gone undetected throughout the night. Then, we have caked on mess, mess that has seeped through onto clothes and bedding and carpet. The worst messes are the ones involving the need to pull out the steam cleaner. Sigh.
Fortunately, this mess this morning was not as bad as it could have been, but it would have been better if I'd had the time to get her in the bath before sending her off to school. There was no time for that, so she had to be cleaned up via about a thousand baby wipes and hand gloves. Thank God for baby wipes and hand gloves! Still, it was pretty bad.
I find that it is best to just forget about everything else, put aside "ME" and take care of my sweet but stinky girl. I almost always pray as I dive into the task. Lest any of you think that I am being so very godly and amazing about it, think again. I don't like cleaning up a mega stinky diaper. I wish I could hire someone else to do it. However, the Lord has a way of molding us and making us better people, because as I put aside "ME", I start looking at Keva as if she were "ME". That is the secret of how I deal with The Diaper. I look at her and I picture me in her place. I am the one laying in the bed in my own filth, helpless to do anything about it. I am the one facing any kind of complaint or bad attitude. I am uncomfortable and sore and have been so for several hours.
Then, as I start to the task looking at Keva as if she were "ME", my attitude shifts and I just want to get her cleaned up and comfortable again. My movements are gentle and loving. I start to sing a song to relax her and give us both something to do while I use one wipe after another to remove the mess. I no longer smell the yuckiness. And, as finally the job is completed, I start to feel a bit of accomplishment. The job is done and I don't have to worry about it anymore. In fact, I begin to be thankful that she did not have diarrhea, that she is able to move around with good muscle tone and not stuck in a bed or wheelchair, thankful that her health is robust not fragile, that her lifespan is nearly normal, that she adds to our family an opportunity to serve and love.
Through this, I have followed the Lord's command to love others as I love myself. And then, through loving others, I learn more to love Jesus.
It's been a rough month for us. Lots of changes, lots of decisions, lots of pulling up by our bootstraps to get what we need done.
After several years of struggling to stay afloat financially with our house, we finally had to step away. It's been very painful in a lot of ways. We had big plans for our wonderful house. We loved the neighborhood. We wanted to finish the basement. The kids were established in their schools. I was finished with my Master's program through LaGrange College and anticipating getting a real job! But we just couldn't hang on anymore.
As is God's way, His timing is beautiful. Our church offered Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University right as we were trying to figure out what to do about the house. We decided to downsize and cut expenses to the best of our ability. We were already at pretty much bare bones with other expenses, but the class really helped us to get ourselves together and have FOUR garage sales over the course of the next month. This, in turn, helped us with the expense of moving. We are, in fact, still selling stuff through Craigslist. I finally was able to start subbing just a few weeks ago. And we found a much smaller townhouse to rent and are expecting to cut our utilities in half. Even though our rent is the same as our mortgage was, we will no longer be responsible to pay for anything if it breaks down. We do not have to keep up our yard; that is done for us. We are very close to the freeway for Keith's work and central to the entire county for wherever I'm subbing. The kids are adjusting to new schools, and Kathleen continues to homeschool.
We are thankful for God's provision yet again in a fast paced crazy world!
Now, if we can just get finished with the moving, I will be very happy. I can tell you all that when I packed up in a certain area of the house and take things away, I would come back and there would be MORE stuff to pack up than there was before. I tell you this is completely true. I cannot believe how long this process is taking. Part of the problem was that the house was a disaster when we moved. I had just finished 14 months straight of school and before that six months of a new baby and before that nine months of a pregnancy in which nothing of any productivity (aside from gestation) was accomplished! Now, I'm paying the piper. I have been throwing out bags and bags of trash and boxing up boxes and boxes of things to go to Goodwill (hoping that Goodwill will even want it). The garage at our old house is stuffed with things that need to go to Goodwill. And even as I unpack and put things away here at our townhouse, I am piling up trash and stuff to go to Goodwill. It's crazy!
In all of this, I'm supposed to be finishing up that online class to get my certification to teach at long last. But I'm not wanting to talk about that right now.
Instead, I will write about Thanksgiving. I am so looking forward especially to this Thanksgiving, as we will have our two college kids home for the first time since August! We all miss them so much! Maybe it's because of all the change, but I'm greatly looking forward to having all my chicks under the same roof once again, even though the roof is a different one. Can't wait to hear about their adventures!
I got so much done in just one hour this morning: cleaned out the ENTIRE laundry room and got two loads of laundry done, kept Little Man entertained by letting him "help" sort clothes and open and close the laundry room door, cleaned out stuff in the refrigerator, and started dinner in the crock pot. One hour. If I could get that much done every hour, I would have OCD for sure!
Keith has this week off, but since I still don't have a job, we are once again doing the staycation. Kids are all doing school anyway. So strange to hear other parts of the country gearing up for their start of school when we've been at it for nearly a month already. There is plenty to do at home with various neglected projects, such as organizing the laundry room and things like that. It is also cooling down just a tiny bit, which makes working on stuff a lot easier. Only 79 degrees this morning. Still, sweat was dripping off my nose while I worked in the laundry room.
Little Man is growing like a weed. He uses no words, only jabbers in his own language. He is very investigative. He adores going upstairs to see what is going on there. He loves the dog food bowls. He likes to put his toys in containers and then dump them all out again. He especially likes to be chased down the hall. And he likes to tell the dog "Doh, doh!" That would be "No, no!" in Keegan-speak. Lately, he's been getting up much earlier than usual -- 7:45 -- as opposed to 10:00 am, which was really nice! And he's also down to one 2 1/2 to 3 hour nap after lunch. One other very nice thing about him is that he doesn't mind being in the highchair or pack-n-play for about an hour. All the rest of the time he's in fast forward, streaming from one mess to another, trying desperately to kill himself. So glad he hasn't succeeded!
Productivity has been hit or miss for me this week. I have been so distracted. Because I am both a procrastinator and a bit of a perfectionist, when I don't have a plan laid out that absolutely has to get done, I usually do not do anything. I am in a state of limbo that is starting to kind of get me down. No job, financial strain, and lots of extra hours in the day to really get some things done around the house and with my on-line class. Because there are so many options of things to do, I end up not doing anything because I want to get them ALL done. Does this make sense? At all? Or does this only make sense to the perfectionistic procrastinators out there?
I'm trying to change some of this, though, and take advantage of some opportunities that have come our way. Keith and I will be going to our first Financial Peace University meeting tonight being held at our church. It's a 13 week course. It fills us both with equal amounts of hope and dread, if that makes any sense either.
In other news, I joined choir last night. I've always wanted to join choir, but didn't feel right about leaving the kids in the pew for too long at a time on Sunday mornings, particularly Keva. However, I think Keva is behaving pretty well these days. We still don't have a car to take us all to church in one trip, but I've got to get over the inconvenience of that and just be ready earlier so that we can take the double trips back and forth. Lately, I've found myself just staying home with Keva and Keegan and letting Keith take the rest of the kids to church, but I've been missing out. Time to get back on the wagon! So when I went to choir practice last night, I discovered that I am way out of my league with the whole singing thing. I barely know how to read notes, let alone sing them. I'm going to sit next to the ones that can, though, and pretend!
One of the many benefits of being home these days is that I am here to help Kathleen with her first year back in homeschool. She has been able to breeze through everything but math, and I've been able to help her (miraculously) with some issues that she's come across. I am so impressed with her tenacity. She's going to need it when I do eventually go back to work because Little Man is a handful and a half. He is into everything. Fortunately, he takes good naps, and I think that's when Kathleen is going to need to do her math work!
I have been quite successfully avoiding doing my on-line course work. It's just more than I want to do. Unfortunately, I am really sabotaging myself for future job prospects. I'm going to need to line up a plan of attack and get myself going again. This course needs to get done soon! And the way I'm dealing with it is like it's some kind of disease that I'm avoiding. Sigh.
I've also been working on a Bible study blog. I haven't opened it up yet for friends and family, but I'm excited about the possibilities. As I've been preparing it, I am once again blown away by how rich and deep Scripture is. I am humbled to be loved by the Creator of the Universe.
I talked to Kristofer yesterday on facebook video chat. We were chatting the regular way, typing and waiting for each other's replies, when he told me that he was going to try to hook us up to video chat. Before I knew it, I was talking with my boy face to video screen face! He had such a sweet broad smile on his face that it was all could do to not burst into tears. I am such a sap! There is something very sweet about seeing the countenance of those we love! Can't wait to try it with other family and friends!
I've got dinner simmering in the crock pot. I am continually looking for good, easy, quick, cheap recipes. There really aren't too many that fit all of those criteria, but I come close a lot of the time! Tonight, I threw in dry macaroni, two big cans of spaghetti sauce, a couple pounds of browned beef, caramelized onion, and two cups of mozzarella. It smells good! I did kind of forget to add in the rest of the macaroni half way through the couple of hours of planned cooking time, so I put it in just now with a little more water to assure moisture and some more cheese (because there is no such thing as too much cheese!) It smells heavenly!
I've been busy catching up with a lot of things around the house. Mostly, I've been cleaning and organizing in preparation for a cyber garage sale! No getting up at ungodly hours of the morning. No pricing and putting out things that people have no interest in buying. Just taking pictures and posting it on Facebook, Craig's List and maybe a local web site. I love technology!
Today is Kristofer's last full day at home. Keith and I will take him early tomorrow morning to school. He's been packing all week. And Kylie continues to drool over his room. She's planning to move in after she comes home from school on Friday. I think we'll all be relieved because she's been talking about it nonstop for MONTHS!
We paid the housing deposit late for Kristofer's room at school because things are so tight right now. But we eventually got it in and were gathering up the next bit of money to put towards his room deposit when we got a call from Georgia Southern saying that they had too many students and there was no space for Kristofer any longer on campus. He was free to find a place off campus until temporary housing became available. He was number 11 on a list of 100 displaced students. I talked to the head of housing who assured me that he would do everything he could to get Kristofer into a room on campus. A week went by and we were wondering what was going to happen. If we could barely scrape together enough money for the deposit, how were we going to be able to scrape up money for an apartment (with first and last and all of that!) before the beginning of school in just a couple of weeks?
Then, we got the fabulous news that the school had made room for a number of students in an activity center on campus. They were very vague about the set-up, but frankly none of us, especially Kristofer, cared because now he was on campus and going to school for sure! We looked on the school map and saw that the building where he would be staying was right there in the center of campus, even near one of the cafeterias! What more could a young collegiate ask for!
Another notification came by email a week later. Kristofer had been assigned a real dorm room with a real roommate! Not only did he no longer have to sleep in some activity center with who knows how many other students, he was set up in one of the nicest residence halls at the school. Keith called it "The Cadillac of dorm spaces" when the two of them went to orientation last month. In fact, his exact quote was, "Kristofer will not get The Cadillac, he's going to wind up in A Pinto," which was actually fine with us, as long as he got to go to school! However, this was not to be. On top of that, when Kristofer looked up his roommate's name, he recognized it as a young man from our church! What were the odds of that? As Andrew, his new roommate said, a 1 out of 5000 chance! (Did I mention that Georgia Southern is a big school?) After Keri Lynn's adventures with some very "interesting" roommates, we are very thankful for this most recent development.
So my oldest son will soon be off on his own. I look forward to seeing him on facebook, though, as I do Keri Lynn. He has been ordered to take LOTS OF PICTURES! He's mentioned that he'd like to volunteer for the newspaper at school to take pictures! That would be really cool! So many opportunities out there for a very talented young man!
I'm afraid that my youngest one will be off to college too soon, too. But for now, Little Man is spending his days smearing oatmeal on his face, throwing items down the hall to see which ones make the most noise, and jabbering who knows what. I'm content with that!
Kristofer turns 18 today! Time to shoot another arrow from our quiverful out into the world.
Keith and I will be taking Kristofer to Georgia Southern on Friday. Such a bittersweet time. The excitement of independence. A brand new year of school done in a completely different way than he's ever studied before. Cafeteria at his beck and call practically every hour of the day! Pools. Fitness center. Health care. And we'll have to say good-bye for several months, resting in the knowledge that we have encouraged him to walk closely with the Lord in all that he does.
Today was our last summer weekday. School starts on Monday. I've actually enjoyed a full two and half weeks of summer myself. I've blown off my online course during this time, which really has to get done SOON, but it sure has been nice to not have to do anything related to school.
Well, sort of. I've just been doing everything related to school for EVERYONE ELSE. There's Keri Lynn's issue with her financial aid in which she accidentally added a zero to our income for 2009 and she's been having to do extra paperwork for school ever since. This time, due to my procrastinating ways, she has had to do a lot of extra work -- sorry, baby! Then, Kristofer, because money is tight, was not signed up right away for housing. We were told last week that he would need to find off campus housing -- too many incoming freshmen and not enough room for everyone. Seven days of angst later, and we've just found out that they are making room for him and some 100 of his closest freshmen friends in all sorts of odd places. He now has temporary housing in what is usually an activity room. Um, should be interesting, but at this point, I am not complaining AT ALL and neither is he!
This year is also the return to homeschool for Kathleen. She has been wanting to homeschool again for a long time and we finally decided that the time was right. We've now got books ready and a semi-homeschooling plan in place. It's odd for her, though, with many of her friends getting ready to go to school and she's not. I think she's missing the excitement, but I think she will enjoy the peace that is homeschool soon enough. It doesn't hurt that several of her close friends also homeschool.
Since I am, as yet, unemployed, I'll be able to give her my full homeschool attention. This is a real treat, in that she will be just one student! I can cater to her learning needs like crazy. We might start off with spelling. Ahem.
Keva can't wait to start back to school. She has been driving me crazy these last few weeks. All she wants to do is throw food and dirty laundry all around the house. I clean and in comes Keva, swooping in like a hawk, to take care of any attempt at tidiness. It's very discouraging for this messy who has been trying to get the house back in order after 14 months of school and newborn and maternity months before that! Then I remember that she can feed herself, walk around herself, dance and hug and laugh herself, and is generally a sweet girl who brings our family such joy.
Kylie and Kade are also excited about school starting. Kylie is excited about having a "man teacher" on her team, but very disappointed that her best friend is not even on the same team. Maybe they'll see each other when they try out for sports -- this is the big year when Kylie can start competing at the school level. The kids have been organizing their school supplies and pushing me out the door to get more school supplies. Kylie right this minute is stressing out about needing brad fastener file folders. Konner is mildly anticipating school, but would just as soon roam free and go to sleepovers practically every night, like he has this whole summer.
Keegan is going to wonder what happened to everyone when Monday morning hits our house. At least Kristofer will be here for a few weeks more before he deserts on the 19th. Sigh.