Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy - 3 days

So Hurricane Sandy has come and gone  School was cancelled for the past two days even before the rain begun.  Shocking yes.  But each day I feel a little more like I am living Atlas Shrugged - if you haven't read the book READ IT.  Surrounded by people who live in a world of emotion instead of logic, and whose actions are dictated by the avoidance of accountability. 

Am I happy to have my kids home.  Yes, love these guys and miss them now that they are all in school.  So what have we been filling our time with...DAY 1 we...
  • went to church where they cancelled trunk or treat
  • made homemade bread
  • ate a very late dinner
  • planned to stay up late
  • got haircuts
  • had a dance party
  • made smoothies
  • watched movies
  • played in the dark hide and go seek
  • and reclaimed the flashlights from the kids (wouldn't want them wearing out the batteries in case we need them)
And some people have accused me of not taking this Hurricane seriously, for shame!  DAY 2 we...
  • slept in late
  • ordered a trial month of Netflix
  • ran errands including picked up our generator
  • drove around to examine why we weren't in school (no founded evidence)
  • had tickle wars and constant dog piles
  • made homemade french onion soup
  • ate even later
  • read over 5 chapter books among Wyatt, Bella, and me
  • read over 6 books between Kody and Issac
  • handled about a dozen calls to check how we were
  • parent naps, no naps for kids
  • watched late night movie
DAY 3 we....
  • slept in even later
  • worked on the basement
  • took no naps
  • played tons of games
  • drove around again checking for damage (no major damage found)
  • made Halloween cookies
  • rearranged calendar for rest of week
  • prepped for school again
  • worked on WCM stuff and Room mom stuff
  • put kids to bed early
  • parents watched another movie
The moral of the story - fear mongering works, if you are prepared you shall not fear, and sometimes cancelling school days before a storm hits really is a dumb idea because it is much harder to uncancel when no hurricane like weather actually comes than to cancel it when it does.  Note to decision makers within schools - parents who are uncomfortable with sending their kids in stormy weather actually do have the option to keep them at home.  It's crazy how parents are the first and last say on this and can be responsible for making decisions that are best for their family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

He Knows He's Loved

Wyatt had a bit of a freak out tonight.  As a result he was spanked.  Something I haven't had to do in ages, thankfully.  The thing with Wyatt is that he tends to be mellow 99% of the time.  But that other 1% he goes from totally normal to raving lunatic rather quickly.  Anyway he was sent to bed eventually before everyone else and feeling quite bad.  I hate disciplining my kids and I worry that he knows I love him even if he is acting a bit wonky in the head.  So I saddle up into his top bunk to have a little tete a tete.  At first he stiff arms my attempts at reconciliation.  But he acquiesces to wanting to hear a story about when he was a baby.  A bolt of revelation hits me and I do him one better.  I run down to my book shelf and claim the journal that covers the years of his conception, birth and ensuing two years.  I lay with him and read him stories of when we found out we were pregnant with him, finding out his gender, picking his name, his actual birth, my sleepless nights, his first major sickness, his early interactions with Bella, and numerous stories of how our life was changed and our home was and is filled with more love because of his birth and presence in our life.  He ended up feeling happier and more loved than ever.  And I can't help but be grateful for the revelation given by a loving Heavenly Father.  "My daily journal, kept over all these years, has helped provide some specifics which I most likely would not otherwise be able to recount" and so I am thankful for 3 Nephi 23:13. 

What I found I most loved were the small bits of seemingly innocuous updates on each of the family members.  And so today's post will pay homage to that format:

Travis: is doing good.  He is constantly shuttling back and forth between Pennsylvania and Wyoming where he opened his own company drilling Uranium.  He is the most devoted husband and father constantly aware of the needs of the kids and I despite the 2000+ miles and 2 hour time difference.  He participates actively within our church whether here or there and works his brains out.  I feel more grateful and appreciative of him with every passing day.  And although I'm not such a fan of the saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"  there is some truth to it, because all of the annoying traits of daily living are easily forgotten at the happy reunion of the two people most in love.

Me:  I hate writing and talking about myself.  Mainly because I worry that the way I see myself is not how others see me, and I come off as self delusional.  But here goes.  I am doing good single parenting four kids most of the time.  Some days I look haggard and tired due to the increased demands on my time and energy but mainly I am more than ever in love with my hubby and kids.  This year with all four kids in school I am still crazy busy with PTO, Women's Club of Manheim, and church but I am often fitting in lunch with friends too and social visits which are awesome.  Life is good.

Isabella:  Bella is growing so big (not only physically - ahh I can't even think about the boobs that are starting to grow on that girl but also emotionally) and it freaks me out.  She is loving middle school and a lot of the freedoms she is gaining there, namely more choices with lunch, lockers, picking seats and social networking.  She attended her first after school activity - Fall Fest, where she admitted to hoping I wouldn't be a chaperone.  That was a shocking and slightly funny first.  She is doing great academically and spiritually and overall fun to have in our house.  She is super silly and nothing is funnier than watching her get in a hysterical tizzy which includes snorting and almost hyperventilating from laughing so hard.  Love this girl.

Wyatt:  Wyatt is this little man frustratingly waiting for his body to catch up to his mind.  He has taken notice of his growing muscles and loves to flex them given an opportunity.  He sleeps shirtless and is sometimes too big or cool for the younger boys, but mainly the best big brother in the world including them in his playing with his friends.  He is brilliant in school and great at getting along with everyone.  He can be frantic in his attention at times becoming so focused on something that all else will disappear around him.  Each week that something is different.  This weekend he read four books in three days.  He is my little softy and still loves to cuddle on the couch to watch movies or sleep in my bed when dad is gone as a reward.  I could not love this kid more.

Issac:  This boy is so funny.  He is a ball of energy and enthusiasm and without trying to be funny makes everyone laugh and smile because his natural personality is filled with such happiness that you can't help but smile and laugh when you are with him.  He loves anything boy oriented including the opposite sex already.  He touts a "lady friend" almost weekly based on who chases him around the most at school.  He loves to play and often has the dirtiest and most hole filled clothing at the end of any given day.  He has become too cool for my kisses and avoids them at the bus stop in the mornings.  But after chasing him down one day and giving him a kiss admits to loving this game more than actually wanting me to not kiss him, if that makes sense.  He is my little light and I love it.

Dakota:  Kody is my baby although each day I try to take strides to make him less babyish.  He is in Kindergarten and loving it.  He has worked for and met many goals and as I told my hubster today, if anyone would have told me a year ago what he would be like today I wouldn't have believed them, and if three years ago they would have described him today I would have vehemently argued against them.  Kody has grown so much.  He is funny although a lot of times his is such a calculated funny - try to get a reaction funny.  He is quirky and spirited, but still sweet, sensitive and cuddly.  He is the first to give up something of his he loves if he thinks it will make someone happy, but they have to be truly sad, because he is so acutely aware of other's emotions, the real ones not feigned.  He is intuitive and clever.  He is filled with such childhood goodness still.  I love his guts.

Well hopefully in a couple of years I will look back and love this post the way I did the journal entries with Wyatt earlier this evening.  Stay safe and love your little ones.  They really are among my greatest gifts. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


Many of you have seen the pictures and I'm still being asked about my one night event with him.  So here's the story.  After this I'm not telling it anymore, because although it very well could have been the funniest night of my life...I can only tell this story so many times. 

Location:  The Jukebox (Lancaster County's most "love to hate" club)
With:  3 Fellow gym rats (Malin: beautiful, tall and skinny, blond Swedish girl - aka guy bait, Jess: fellow prohibitionist and hands down crazy good all night stamina dancer,
Courtney: my partner in crime, shameless, without fear or reservation bestie,
and myself - I like to think my role is finding the absurd for the night's laughs and ensuring everything for the evening is free (it's a talent) - aka DD and handler (when needed).
Time:  a nameless Friday night
Setting:  Pulling into the club we spot a Amish cart and buggy coming in behind us.

My girls and I are debating about whether this buggy is for real coming to the club.  After sitting in the place, me eating my for real disgustingly fantastic cheesy french fries and the girls starting with a round of drinks, scoping the place for any random cute guys.  I spot him, not so Amish looking, Amish boy.  I point him out to the girls and they are skeptical.  He looks normal minus the mused bowl cut.   My curiosity is making me crazy and so Jess walks over to ask if he came in the buggy.  He wondered how we knew and told her how he had been building his courage to come talk to us.  Alas introductions were made and the night began.  Courtney and I begin our inquisition to Ben, aka Sledge (he is a Mason by profession). 

I start by asking him the most important question of the night and that is if we can acquire a ride in his buggy.  He is flabbergasted that we really want to go.  I assure him we do, I also arrange to take the rides sooner rather than later as I figure drinking and driving applies to buggies as well.  We all get our hand stamped, pile out to the parking lot, and embark on our buggy rides, two at a time with Ben.  Court and I go first, taking non-stop pictures, almost taking out a mailbox, and dig around his buggy to find the most pimped out stereo system with satellite radio we have seen.  Next Malin and Jess go, while they are out and about security comes out to see what is going on and take pictures of us to put on their facebook page.  I use this opportunity to turn the photo tables on him and capture the picture Court had wanted to get earlier in the evening with this guy. 

On arrival back we head into the club.  Court in true fearless fashion asks Ben a million questions, preposterous, personal, and downright hilarious rapid fire for over an hour.  Most are Amish lifestyle related and many cause this poor Amish boy, a mere 21, to blush ferociously.  In case you ever wanted to know I learned that STD's exist in the Amish community, underwear is not stipulated like the outer clothing, a buggy can be pulled over for a DUI and Ben has a big black truck that is in the shop creating the dilemma of having to take the family buggy out tonight.

Long story short, Ben drank too too much.  Stumbling out of the place, barely able to walk, we put the kibosh on his attempt at driving home.  Problem - what to do with a horse and buggy while I drive him home.  Solution - Malin somewhere in her Swedish upbringing and past has driven a buggy.  She designated drove his buggy home found via his license.  I follow in the car.  And despite a brisk and abrupt start, and a drifting back occurrence at a steep hilled intersection with a stop sign we all arrived to Ben's house in one piece, where we helped him unhitch the horse and buggy and gear down for the night.  Then we piled into my car and laughed ourselves home.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Well the rest of September was packed with good times...
Going to the cabin and watching hang gliders,
 Wyatt catching butterflies and teaching the others to do it too,
Travis amazing us with one handed pull ups, 
snuggle time, 
going to the drive-in theater,
playing on the trampoline in the rain, 
riding the Strasburg railroad, 
visiting Cherry Crest Adventure Farms, 
Wyatt participating in the Raingutter Regata, 
and a middle of the night ER trip for Croup.
More pictures of all these awesome events on Facebook.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

So It's Been Forever

I realize that it has been forever since I have written.  And it hasn't been due to lack of desire or things to write about.  On the contrary, I've thought about my posts, but have never found the time to pen them.  With that said, today I devote my blog to "In praise of single moms".  As many of you know, I have voluntarily accepted a short stint, 2ish years, as a single mother for the most part.  Travis stumbled upon an extraordinary work opportunity in Wyoming.  There is where he mainly resides coming home to visit every other weekend or so as necessitated by family needs and special occasions.

With that said, I cannot help but convey to you how difficult this can be.  I like to think of myself as very independent and relatively self sufficient.  I am of sound mind and happy disposition.  I am not prone to negativity and usually great at running things singularly and without issue.  All that being said, I can tell you that this experience is physically and most especially time taxing.  I have seen the toll on my time and energy this experience has taken on me.  I sleep less than ever and as my neighbor mentioned, "You didn't sleep that much before." 

In my heart and head all that I have continued to think on both my good and bad days is that I am in awe of single mothers everywhere.  When my day is hard I am grateful for a steady and sufficient income being direct deposited into my bank account allowing me to not work outside the home and I am grateful for the companionship of my spouse - his wisdom, understanding, and ability to just listen.  These two things may be singularly the biggest stress for single mothers everywhere.  In addition the burden of doing every household chore, fixing cars, coaching sports teams, changing oil, taking out trash, throwing football with the boys, mowing the lawn, repairing the oven, lifting and moving heavy items, cleaning the garage, and other more masculine roles and tasks in addition to those female tasks of cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, homework doing, project building, volunteering, and serving in our communities and among friends.  Fulfilling both roles in terms of labor distribution is inundating in it's great magnitude of work to keep a household running.

When you add into that the constant scheduling, double booking, and activity participating of four children and one driving adult, I find most of my evening hours living out of my car and not being able to accomplish any of the above chores.  My early morning hours are spent in self care of working out and scripture study, before I devote my time to volunteering in my kids' classes and then working as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Last factor into this, the things that I have learned about single mothers - they are more socially isolated than married women.  My social life has decreased as many people, I can only assume, think it might be weird to invite a mother and her children over for dinner whereas before almost weekly we went out with friends either in couples or as families.  Add to that anytime you feel the desire or get the invitation to socialize outside the home it is with great stress to find a babysitter, plan for your kids to be without you or even deal with the guilt of leaving them when you know you definitely could be giving them more one on one time than they are currently receiving.

And so I say to every real single mother, I applaud you.  I realize that your job is far harder physically and emotionally than mine.  That my short and measured stint in this way of life is surely only giving me the smallest glint of how hard you work, how little you get to do for yourself, and how alone you likely feel.  I recognize that you are among the least celebrated but likely most needed resource in the life of many children.  Thank you.

And last to Travis, my husband, I say....you are amazing.  My gratitude for you each day grows as I recognize the immeasurable value you have not only by sharing the work load of our household, but also the role you fill which I cannot within the lives of our children.  I see how they long for you and love you.  I realize that your strengths are different than mine and that our kids are richly blessed because of your teaching them in righteousness and secular learning.  You are irreplaceable and we love you!