At Yogi and BooBoo's house, Joey got to play the "pee-no." It was MeeMaw's, and is new to their house. The Wellsbrothers love it.
Bret and I got a few hours off last night and today. Micah's birthday is coming up, and as their gift to him, Bubba and Uncle Chris invited he and Conner to spend last night with them. Then they took them to the newly re-modeled Children's Museum in Fort Worth this morning. So I made arrangements for Joey to spend the night with Mom and Dad (the museum-goers will be able to enjoy themselves much more if they're not having to keep track of a crazy toddler, too), and wa-lah! The evening to ourselves!
So we went out for steaks last night to celebrate our anniversary. We knew when we chose to get married two days before Christmas, that it would be next to impossible to celebrate on our actual anniversary, especially once we had kids. Guess what -- we were right. :) We don't even try anymore. So we were thrilled that the opportunitiy presented itself only a month later!
After our delicious and highly anticipated steaks from Saltgrass, we got our desserts at WalMart and took them home to eat them while watching a movie. And we were asleep before ten. We're an exciting bunch, huh? :) But it was exactly what we needed -- and wanted -- to do.
I spent this morning working on a project for Mission Alive, and then spent the afternoon making six batches of chicken and squash casserole for the Spies/Conner casserole exchange next weekend. (More on that coming soon.) Bret spent the morning doing some of his stuff that's hard to do when the kids are running around crazy. It was nice.
But alas, late afternoon did arrive...Bubba and Uncle Chris brought Conner and Micah home...and we met Mom and Dad halfway to pick up Joey...and now we're home and back to normal...
Thanks to Mom and Dad and Bubba and Uncle Chris for a much-needed, greatly-appreciated few hours off!!
Yesterday started off kind of nice. We had dentist appointments at 9:30 -- early enough that it wasn't worth trying to take either Conner or Micah to school before it was time to go. So we got take a little more time and be a bit more relaxed as we got ready. Nice.
When it was time to go, it was raining. Not pouring, but just raining enough to be annoying. But we got there just in time. This was the first time we'd done dentist check-ups times three. In fact, it was the first time either Joey or Micah had ever had a check-up, and only Conner's second. (Hallelujah for an unexpected turn of events that has recently provided dental insurance for the kids!) Coupled on top of Conner's less-than-positive teeth experience a couple of years ago, and Micah's less-than-positive tooth experience a couple of months ago, I was a little apprehensive about how it would all go. But I'm happy to say that everyone did great!
The Good News: Fifty-three little teeth and no cavities!! Let me say it again -- NO CAVITIES!! That was not what I was expecting to hear, and I was soooo relieved. Also, one of Conner's bottom teeth is finally beginning to get a little bit loose, and Dr. Martin said he will probably loose it around the first part of the summer. Very exciting -- though the Tooth Fairy has visited us several times already, none of the Wellsbrothers has lost a tooth the "right" way yet. And, I was paid a huge compliment that I didn't even know that I was so desperately needing -- the hygienist, while cleaning Micah's teeth, just went on and on about how good a job we've been doing brushing his teeth. In fact, both of the hygeinists and the dentist said more than once, "Mom, you're doing a great job. Keep up the good work." I didn't realize until the tears started falling just how guilty and how self-conscious I am, just how much I regularly beat myself up about having two kids with prematurely missing teeth. For them to tell me that I'm doing a great job, to offer nothing but praise, was pure music to my heart.
The Bad News: "Conner has a lot of growing to do," said Dr. Martin. "What does that mean?" I asked. Well...he went on to explain: Conner's x-rays showed that the permanent teeth in his gums that are getting ready to replace his baby teeth are 2-3 times bigger in size. They are already crowded and overlapping, one of them even at a 45 degree angle. Even my untrained eyes could see that the train wreck growing within his gums is kind of scary. The verdict -- as soon as his six-year molars get good and in (probably in a year or so), we'll begin trying to make some room with retainers or braces or some other kind of orthodontics. Yeehaw.
We didn't go back for the boys' 9:30 appintments until 10:00...and by the time they finished checking all three of them it was 11:30. Conner had missed lunch at school, and it was Joey's naptime. So we went to Taco Bell and ate some cheese roll-ups (a Wellsbrothers favorite) for lunch. Conner was apparently really hungry, and took forever to finish up -- during which time I had an extremely difficult time keeping Micah from rolling around all over the booth and keeping Joey from either crwling under the table or screaming because I was holding him. I know the other folks in the restaurant were very happy when we left!
Then we were off to take Conner back to school. Joey fell asleep on the way there, but then woke up because I had to unload everyone out into the rain (thankfully it was pretty light) to take Conner into school.
It wasn't until we were all inside the house that the bottom dropped out and the rain really started falling. Thank goodness!
But alas, that five minute nap completely sabotaged the normal 2 to 2 1/2 hour afternoon nap. And so Micah and I got to deal with a very tired and cranky JoJo all afternoon...until he fell asleep on the floor of his room about five minutes before it was time to go get Conner again.
So I woke him up again, loaded he and Micah up in the now heavy rain to go get Conner. Thankfully, I had watched the weather, knew to expect this, and had already made arrangements to pick Conner up in carline instead of the normal walk-up pickup.
So we drove to school and got in the carline at about 3:00. The kindergarteners get out at 3:05. We waited and waited and waited...the sky got darker and darker, the thunder louder and louder...finally a teacher came to our window and said that there was a tornado around somewhere nearby. They would not be able to release any students until this threat was resolved. We were welcome to go into the school and wait.
By this time, Micah had fallen asleep. Micah is pretty hard to wake up from a nap, and I wasn't sure how I was going to carry them both all the way into the school. I couldn't get out of the carline, so what should I do with the van? Just leave it there? What about when the weather cleared up and everyone behind me was waiting on me to get myself and gaggle of rowdy boys through the rain, in the van, and buckled up? Was it really that bad, anyway?
I called Bret. He was little mad that if it was bad enough for them to keep Conner indoors, that they in effect left me outside in the bad weather with our other two kids. He got the weather report, and we had pretty much decided that I should probably go ahead and try to go in.
Then it started pouring. I was stuck. For about an hour. Luckily I found a bag of jelly bellies under the seat to keep Joey entertained, and Micah ended up getting a good nap out of it! As it turned out, the storm was pretty fast-moving and over fairly quickly. It had weakened considerably from what it had been when the warnings had originally gone out, so it wasn't too bad. I was glad I hadn't carried the boys through the rain into the school.
When we finally got home, it was time for dinner to be in the oven, and I hadn't been home to get it ready. So I hurriedly threw something together and stuck it in the oven. (Bret wouldn't be home until 10:00 or so...he has a paper due today...)
Then we ate, and started trying to make some phonecalls to sell some cookie dough for Conner's school fundraiser. Joey was so tired at this point, that he was being just plain old mean. Then when I had to abruptly end one of those phonecalls because Micah's head got slammed in the door -- yes, I meant head and not hand -- I decided that even though it wasn't quite bedtime, it Joey had to go to bed.
Why is it that when kids are overtired that have a hard time going to sleep? I don't get it. And Joey was quite unwilling to explain that to me ast night. I read, rocked, laid him on his bed, and walked out the door. Then he spend the next 30 minutes or so standing at the closed door of his room (which he couldn't open) talking, trying to get someone to come rescue him.
Conner and I got the rest of his homework and phonecalls for the night done, and when Joey's room finally got quiet I went to check on him. But I couldn't open the door. Apparently he had gone to sleep on the floor right up next to it...
A little while later I finally I got Conner and Micah to bed about an hour later than I had wanted...or so I thought. Apparently Micah's thunderstorm/carpool nap had sabbotaged his bedtime.
So I gave up on getting anything done for the night, and more than ready to call it a day, set my alarm for early the next morning, and laid down on the couch with him watching TV until we both went to sleep.
Every weekday at 2:40pm, the alarm on my phone goes off. Yes, I'm that kind of mom, who needs an alarm to remind her that it's almost time to go pickup her kid. :) You see, on Conner's first day of school, it was the day after his birthday (which was a big day for all of us), my grandmother had just passed away and I had been packing everyone to go to the visitation that night and funeral the next day, Micah was at my Mom's and Dad's, and Joey was taking a nap. Exhausted, I had fallen asleep on the couch, and just happened to wake up just in time to wake Joey up and go get Conner. It kind of freaked me out, and I've had the alarm set ever since...
Anyway, the alarm goes off at 2:40, and everyone knows that this means it's time to get ready to go. I hit "snooze," and we go potty, often someone is not dressed so we take care of that, sometimes Joey is asleep so I go to wake him up, we find shoes and socks and jackets. Sometimes we suddenly discover that we are starving and can't wait another single minute so we have to get together snacks and drinks. Sometimes it takes awhile!
Ten minutes later at 2:50, the alarm goes off again. Everyone knows that this means it's time to get in the van. Once again, there's three of us to buckle up and sometimes it takes awhile. Especially if one of us (a certain strong-willed one-year-old) is in a bad mood.
Then we're off -- for the grand 3 minute drive to Conner's school. I wish we could just walk, but the road is simply too big and too busy, and there's no sidewalk.
We get to the school, and the first task is to navigate the crazy parent parking lot. It's not really paved, and there are no lines -- and apparently people can't park in straight rows if there are no lines. I never know what kind of spaces will be available or just what kind of navigation I'll have to attempt in order to get a good spot.
Then we unload, which once again, sometimes takes awhile. Sometimes there's a lengthy debate over whether or not Micah wants to take Softie with him. Sometimes Joey has taken his shoes and socks off. Sometimes we've thrown the snack all over the backseat.
Once we get out, we nearly always have to stop and play in the rocks. Parts of the parking lot are semi-paved. (I think maybe the whole thing was paved at one time?) I get in "trouble" if I park on the grassy part where's there's no rocks -- even though that's where I like to park. If we've parked on rocks, Joey has to pick a few up. Or at least try -- they're all stuck in the pavement in some places.
Then everybody gets a hand and we begin the walk. (Yes Joey's pants are wet. On this particular day, he unscrewed the top off his full sippy cup and poured orange juice all over himself and his carseat...)
To get to the front door of the school, we walk across the parking lot, down a fairly steep hill (steep enough that you can't see it in the picture), cross the street, and past all the school buses (saying hi to each one).If there is a flower of any shape or size along the walk, we have to stop and pick it, too. They often end up smooshed or dropped or blown away, but how can I complain. These boys love to pick flowers for me! :)
Once we're at the porch, we don't find a bench to sit on like most normal people. No, we stop at the bike rack. I then spend the next few minutes trying to keep them from climbing it (worried they'll get a leg stuck and then fall and knock out a tooth or two), and/or trying to keep them from picking the dead, dried-up, and hardened crape myrtle buds off the tree (worried they'll eat them or throw them at someone).(And yes, you do see Micah climbing the bike rack and Joey picking buds off the tree...)
It's during this time that, if they're halfway cooperating, I try to find someone to talk to. Slowly but surely, I'm starting to meet and get to know some of the other parents. That's the main reason I go through all of this everyday instead of doing the easy thing and picking Conner up in the carline. So far, it's been worth it!
Finally, at 3:06 or 7, Conner's class comes out and Conner comes running to us.
Joey immediately takes his water bottle out of the side pocket of his backpack, and Micah starts to fill him in on the day's events or the after school snack we're planning to have. I barely get a hug or a word in edgewise.
Funny story -- today while I was trying not to worry about Joey and Micah hurting themselves, I was talking to one of Conner's friend's mom. She had eaten lunch with them today and was showing me a picture she had taken of Conner with her phone. He had ice cream all over his face. Now after school, four hours later, he still had ice cream on his face. :)Then we all hold hands again and begin the trek back to the van. Only this time, Conner is yelling bye to all of his friends, Joey parroting everything he says. There's a tree that Conner always stops at and seems to have to pick a leaf off of, and he usually picks a flower for me, too.
When we get to the Grand Canyon (the fairly good-sized and deep place where the water runs off the hill), someone always gets "stuck," and Joey nearly always has to pick up another rock. (The rocks in the Grand Canyon are much bigger than the ones in the parking lot!)
And finally we're back to the van, loaded up, and on the way home.
Everyday. Five days a week. Unless Bret happens to be home and do it for me, or it's raining or in the thirties -- then I call calfrope and pick up in carline. :)
So today when I went to wake him up, before he even opened his eyes he whispered, "Please don't be sick again, please don't be sick again, please don't be sick again. I really want to see Mrs. Scarpello!" He was in luck -- the fever was still gone, his color was back, and we sent the kiddo to school today.
He ended up having a great day, and though we're going to miss Mrs. Burton (the long term sub, who had been his teacher for about 12 weeks), I think having his regular teacher back was all he had hoped for! :)
Phew! A few of those were a bit painful! :)
Bret had a meeting scheduled this morning. It was a big and important one, with a church that is interested in potentially supporting us in several ways -- including financially. We've been really excited about this. A lot of things have been falling into place and just seem "right" about it. It had felt like God's divine plan is coming together, and this might be the church we've been looking for.
We've been a little nervous about this, and Bret has done a lot of preparation. We've been so hopeful, yet letting the past get the best of us, a little afraid of being hopeful.
I had fallen asleep on the couch last night before I got yesterday's "40 Days" reading in. So this morning, I got up early and read all of Micah. I also read all of Lamentations, as Bret had suggested. I prayed about Luke 10:2 and some potential harvesters. I started the morning off right, as right as I possibly could.
Today was Thursday, so I would be taking Conner to school, then taking Micah to school, and then dropping Joey off at Jodi and Robert's for the morning. I had planned to spend a good part of my morning alone in prayer regarding this meeting.
But...Joey woke up a little too early, Conner wouldn't get out of bed, and Micah wouldn't eat his breakfast. No one was obeying or following any directions until about the 17th time they were repeated. I walked out the door to load the kids up more than grumpy -- I was frustrated and downright mad. But not at the boys so much. I was mostly mad with myself. I had wanted the morning to go smoothly. Starting your day off the way we started off today is often a recipe for the rest of the day to proceed in the same manner. That was not at all what I was wanting for Bret!
So I apologized to him before I left, and then called and apologized again. He was very cool and sweet about it all, and had even left me a very sweet note when I got home: "This is our verse for today. Don’t think of this promise from Jesus in terms of heaven. It’s a marriage metaphor; Jesus has gone ahead of us and is preparing the way for us. We need to hear and believe these words. I love you. -me
1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
Your best friend is supposed to make you feel better, right? Your husband is supposed to make you feel better, right? Sweet notes are supposed to make you feel better, right? Bible verses are supposed to make you feel better, right? Right. Except I didn't feel better. I felt like curling up in a little ball and spending the rest of the morning in tears.
And then Bret walked in. My heart immediately jumped into my throat. Why was he home? He would be late to the meeting! Did they cancel? Well, not quite...they postponed. And believe it or not, because of the circumstances, Bret was actually encouraged by this. And he wasn't upset about it. And he hadn't let it ruin his day. He was at peace, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with that. Because I still felt cruddy.
He shared another Bible verse with me (Mark 5:36 - "Don't be afraid, just believe."), and then pretty quickly got his things together and got on with his day. I struggled to get going though. I prayed, I read his note over and over again, desperately trying to believe, desperately trying to trust, desperately trying to find some peace. I posted as my status update on facebook: "I am SO anxious today, feel like crying about pretty much everything. I hate it when I feel like this! Trying my best to find comfort -- "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Luke 14:1-2
Then I set to work, sadly behind now on the to-do list I had set for myself, desperately trying to get some of the things that were beginning to weigh so heavily on my shoulders done.
By the time I left to pick up Joey and Micah, the anxiety had begun to fade. I was feeling a little bit better...and then I ran into a friend. She was just standing there with a sweet smile on her face, five dollars in her outstretched hand. I looked at her questioningly, and she said, "It's for Starbucks. Go treat yourself." She had obviously seen my post on facebook. Tears threatening to get the best of me, I thanked her and hugged her...and then went to get my White Chocolate Mocha.
It was as I was drinking my Starbucks -- a wonderful new flavor that I was trying for the first time, by the way -- that I realized what was going on.
I don't typically think of things in this manner, but it seemed obvious that God was giving me this clarity. I had started my morning off well and had great intentions. But then the anxiety began to set in -- Satan's attempt to thwart my intentions of spending the morning in prayer about Bret's meeting. I had turned to the Word, I had prayed, and God had taken away my anxiety. And I truly feel that the Starbucks from my friend was God's patting me on the back, "'Well done, good and faithful servant.' We made it through this one."
Then just a little while ago I read the "40 Days" reading for today. Mark 4:18-19 (The Message) pretty much reached out and punched me in the face: "The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it."
And with that, another scripture popped into my head, with which I will leave you tonight:
"Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall." --Psalm 55:22
I am guilty of sharing -- via blog, facebook, email, and personal conversations -- many of the situations we have found ourselves in. Partly because sometimes I think I might go insane if I don't tell someone about it...and partly because, once the dust settles, some of this stuff is really funny!
I am also guilty of not sharing more of the times when this same child can be honest-to-goodness, so sweet I think my hear might literally melt. So indulge me...
Joey gives great hugs -- the kind where he wraps his arms and legs around you so tightly that you could let go of him and he would not fall. Neither Bret or I can leave the house, even just to get something out of the car, without a kiss from Joey. Anytime someone is hurt and/or crying Joey is extremely concerned and quick to offer hugs and kisses. (Well...if he wasn't the cause of the injury, anyway...) He is eager to help me with nearly everything, and those baby blues with the long dark lashes along with that sweet little smile...for all of the frustrations he causes, he is one of the greatest loves of my life.
Last night just after I left his room, hoping he was almost asleep, he got up and stood at the baby gate on the door of his room saying, "Ma-min!" Beginning to get frustrated that he was up, I went to tell him to go lay back down...and then he handed me a blue fuzzy/silky blanket and said, "Micah Softie." Apparently Micah had left it on Joey's bed earlier in the evening, and Joey wanted to make sure that Micah had it so that he could go to sleep. This is the same Joey, who at some point nearly every day finds joy in making Micah cry by taking Softie away. That, in an almost-two-year-old, wellsbrothers kind of way that maybe only the members of my household fully understand, is true brotherly love -- and a sign that under all that other stuff, there is a sweet little heart.
Oh, my Joey-Jo. I love you little man! Hang with us, and we'll get through the fighting and the messes and the hitting and the biting and the dangerous situations you find yourself in. That sweet little heart belongs to none other than the Lord Almighty, and I am confident that He will use it to do marvelous things.