Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dino Dig

One of the coolest things about teaching at the same preschool that my kids attend is that I get to see them during the day doing their thing.

Today we had a dino dig. All the kids got to dig in the sand, and they each got to keep a dinosaur skeleton and a couple of shark teeth. I took lots of pictures of my class, but I don't know all the rules about sharing pictures of my students online...

...but I can share pictures of my kiddo!!

I didn't get to see Micah diggining - his class came out at a different time. But here's Joey digging for his fossils,

and here's what he found.He was very proud of himself, as were all of the other kids. It was a really fun day!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweet and Sour Night Sky Party

Yesterday afternoon Conner came home with a special homework project. Every night this week he is supposed to go out and look at the night sky - specifically the moon - and then draw what he sees in his journal. Fun, I thought.

And then I realized that when I lay the boys down at 7, it's not dark yet. So I pulled out my trusty iPhone, checked the weather, and quickly learned that the sun was supposed to set at 7:19. So I called my dad (who knows everything about everything outdoors) to ask when he thought it would be dark enough for us to go out. And the response I got? "There's an app for that." :)

He said that it would probably be dark enough around 7:40, and then told me about a cool - amd free! - app that would also help us know what stars and planets we were seeing. So I got that downloaded...and quickly learned that the moon wouldn't even be visible until 9:41 pm. Seriously?!

My initial reaction of "fun" was long gone. Bret's in Oklahoma again this week, so I'm single-momming it here on the homefront. This homework now meant that everyone was going to be going to bed at least an hour late...every night this week. Uggh. Cranky kids...and 4 or more hours of "me time" lost this week. Double ugggh.

But then I saw the lemons on the table that Micah and Joey had talked me into getting while we were at WalMart earlier in the day. And I realized that I had a decision to make. I could waller in my self pity and this week's Night Sky homework could be miserable and ruin our whole week...or I could readjust my attitude and try to make my way back to the initial "fun" reaction. So I decided to, as the the saying goes, "make some lemonade" (and maybe even some lemon cheesecake!) out of my homework lemon.

I had some ready-to-bake sugar cookie dough in the fridge. I threw it in the oven, whipped up some yellow icing, and quickly made some "Night Sky Party" snacks. Use your imagination here - I was short on time and supplies. They're stars, full moons, crescent moons, and the little dots are more smaller stars. :)

I informed the boys of our Night Sky party plans, and I was an instant hero.

So we borrowed some binoculars from our neighbors, and at 7:40 we walked out ready for our party...and realized that we weren't going to be able to see much of the sky. Duh, we're surrounded by very tall pine trees.

So we hopped in the van and drove down the road, moving our party to the elementary school's parking lot.

Our view was much better there. And no, we will not be staying up until 10pm or later each night this week to see the moon. But thanks to my iPhone, we learned that three of the brightest stars that we were seeing were Jupiter, Mars, and Venus. Conner thought that was very cool. I was a hero again. :)Joey is all about the binoculars - and has even decided that he wants a "Night Sky Party" for his birthday party. :)Micah, my eater of the bunch, is all about the cookies.Then we saw an airplane and hoped that it could see us as it flew over us and we waved. ...and then our Night Sky Party was over. All 8 minutes of it. (That's right - all this hype for 8 minutes!) And we went home, helped Conner draw what he saw, and began the long process of settling down to go to sleep. And we did it again tonight...and we'll do it again tomorrow and the next night. And then we'll take some serious naps over the weekend!

It's not over yet, but I think I've successfully turned my homework lemon into some pretty yummy lemon cheesecake. No one in Conner's class saw the moon last night, and he was the only one who knew that some of the stars he saw were planets. We're not yelling and whining and fighting and in sour moods each night this week...instead we're making what I think will be some pretty sweet memories. post signature

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quarters

For just about as long as I can remember, my dad has been "digging" quarters out of my boys' ears. It's usually only once in a visit, but he nearly always finds a quarter in all six of those little ears.

All three wellsbrothers have loved this, but no one has been quite as into it as Joey. At least once a week or so, you'll randomly find him digging in his own ear, just sure that there's a quarter in there that's nearly ripe. But somehow, the quarters only seem to be ripe when Yogi's around. :) Conner is very suspicious, and half the time thinks he's got Yogi figured out...which means Micah does too...but sweet little Joey really beleives that his Yogi is truly magic.

So Yogi "checks their ears" everytime he sees them.
And it doesn't matter how close or far between the visits are, each kid always ends up with two quarters.
I'm sure BooBoo finds them on her floor after we leave half the time, and I know that some have lived in some pockets for who knows how long...but most of the quarters make it to the piggy bank. After about 18 months of saving, they were finally full, and when we dumped them out, all three boys had $20-$25...nearly all quarters. :)

Man oh man, we love that Yogi and the memories he's making!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Peace that Passes Understanding

Philippians 4:7 (NIV) reads: "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I don't guess I ever really knew what that passage meant until recently. Let me walk you through my week last week...

For years now, literally years, we've known Bret was sick. Some bloodwork came back weird, we didn't get any real answers, we moved, he never got another dr, we never did anything else about it. There wasn't much reason to - the doctor had given us no real reason for alarm, other than blood levels being a little off. But he continued to be less than 100%. At first it was only every now and then that he felt miserable. But it gradually became more and more often, and he gradually added more and more symptoms. All of the symptoms could easily be explained away with some other circumstance at the time. Sleeping but not feeling rested, excercising and eating right but not losing weight, stomach issues, etc - the few doctors that he did talk to about it just brushed him off and told him to lose weight and lessen his stress.

Finally, it was to the point that it was interfering with family, work, school, life. This time, he was miserable enough to insist on some answers. To make a long story short, after initially being blown off yet again, his bloodwork came back with levels more than just a little off. Two specialists, who knows how much bloodwork, a liver biopsy (yes, basically outpatient surgery), and six months later - last week we learned that Bret has nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This basically means that he has permanent liver damage that will continue and become cirrhosis if left untreated. Why the liver damage, you ask? Well...because apparently he also has hypothyroidism and diabetes which have gone untreated for so long.

Yeah, that's right. My sweet, hard-working hubby that we thought just didn't feel very good has three major organs - liver, pancreas, and thyroid - that are not functioning properly. No wonder he's been miserable!

We learned all of this on Thursday of last week - after I had gone for my yearly woman's appointment on Monday, found a lump in my breast, and had to go have a mammogram and ultrasound done on Wednesday. Thankfully my stuff turned out to be nothing.

But oh my goodness, what a week! And all this after last week's stress of starting a new job, a close call with a tornado, and having to temporarily evacuate my house.

Yet that Sunday, after singing and meditating on "It is Well with My Soul," when asked the question, "How is it with your soul?" the only answer I could come up with was "at peace."

You see, there were two waiting rooms at the Solis Breast center where I had my mammogram done. The first was a regular waiting room, where hubbies could sit and wait with you. But then I was called back and a few minutes later found myself in another waiting room, this time filled with braless women wearing hospital gowns for shirts, many of whom were so nervous and distressed about what they might find out that they were sobbing. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that this was very significant. I didn't really know why, but I just sat there, committing all my feelings to memory.

And Sunday morning, "It is Well with My Soul" put it all into perspective for me. I had just as much or more reason to be scared and nervous as did those other ladies. I mean, they at least probably knew what to expect from the infamous boob-squishing machine! Yet, I realized that though I was certainly nervous at the time, I had peace. And when Bret came home the next day with his literally life-changing news, I was able to be relieved that we finally had some answers instead of scared of what those answers were. And there's only one source of peace like I have in a situation like that. It's the "peace of God which transcends all understanding." I really believe that my heart and mind have been and are guarded in Christ. It will all be okay - maybe not in the way I want or expect - but it will all be okay.

So we've just taken this blow in stride, as we've learned to do quite well over the past few years. Diet plans, exercise plans, meds, glucose strips, finger pricks, a liver biopsy at least every five years - all for the rest of his life - yet we have this peace that passes understanding.

The Message says it like this: "Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." I'm certainly not there yet - but man oh man, if it feels like this already, I'm motivated to keep trying.

May Christ displace worry at the center of all of our lives...

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cowboy Joe

Joey has been really into his cowboy hat and stick horse this week. It seems he's always got one or the other, both - or is fighting with his brothers over one of them. I've really been enjoying him this week (except for the fighting!), it's been a cute little phase. He's even been calling everyone "partner" - or in Joey-speak with no r's, "paht-nah."

Yesterday we were getting ready for school, and the next thing I knew Joey was marching through the house naked - except for his cowboy hat and stick horse - singing "I may never march in the infantry." It was enough to make me stop and laugh, even in the midst of the busyness and crazyness of a school morning.

A little while later, while we were dropping Micah off at preschool, one of Horsie's eyes fell off. It was quite traumatic, and he showed everyone at the school. Somewhere along the way (I think maybe after a suggestion from one of the other parents), he decided that he didn't need me to fix poor Horsie after all - Horsie needed to become a pirate!

Joey stays with Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert on Wednesday mornings, so poor Aunt Jodi got the task of making Horsie a pirate...but I think she did a marvelous job, much better than I would have done!

I love watching my kids do stuff like this. It makes me really sad when I think about how quickly they're growing up, and try to imagine my life without toys strewn about and naked babies running through the house. But I'm promised that each stage has it's own joys and pleasures...so I'm doing my best to look forward to those instead of missing what was...

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Girls' Day Surprise

Last week my sisters Lydia and Jodi, my brother's girlfriend Kelley, and I got an email from Mom. She wanted to take us all to get pedicures and out to lunch on today. We of course all jumped on the chance to be treated, and were excited about both spending some time with just the girls and the relatively new addition of Kelley.

So this morning we met up at Mom's house, left the Wellsbrothers with Dad and Bret, and went out on our way.

A pedicure is always a treat, and is even more fun when done with family who are also your friends. The five of us pretty much filled up the little shop in Glen Rose. Aren't our little toes cute?

(No, it wasn't intentional, but yes we all ended up with colors very similar to one another. I think we were all dreaming of fall!)

Then we were off to lunch at the Riverside Grill in Glen Rose, a historic house near the square, restored and transformed into a quaint little restaurant. There were so many good choices, and we were all having such a hard time deciding, that we ended up making a group decision to each get something different and then share. And we had a great time - the food was good (yes, we literally passed plates around, and I think everyone got a taste of everyone else's), and let's just say that "girl talk" abounded and poor Kelley may already know us all much more than she ever wanted too!While we were there, Lydia got a text from her good friend Ashley. She was in town visiting her parents, would Lydia want to stop by? Lydia explained to her that she was out with the girls, and that we might not all want to stop by, she didn't know how long Dad and Bret were planning to be watching the boys, she may have to wait until later in the day. But she mentioned it to us anyway...and after a little bit of debate, we all decided it sounded like fun.

So we finished up lunch and then were on our way to the Moody's house...where SuRpRiSe!!...it was a "Mommy" shower for Lydia, who is expecting her first baby in early November! It was a small gathering of family and close friends, and Lydia was showered with baby-related gifts, only they were specifically for her, not Griffin. And I think Lydia - though she is a master of surprises herself and often hard to trick - was completely surprised.

Thank you Mom for treating us to such a lovely day! I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family!

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

At Preschool, I Want to Learn...

Outside the door of Joey's classroom, each child has a paper that says, "At preschool I want to learn..." That's what Mrs. Katie asked them, and then recorded their responses. Josiah's paper says, "I want to learn to color."

I thought that was interesting because a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that he was suddenly really taking an interest in coloring. His full page of scribbles had suddenly turned into a much more focused attempt to stay in the lines. So when he brought these papers home over the last couple of days, I just couldn't help but be proud.

I'm super-proud of you, Joey-Jo!

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wiggles

We've known for awhile now that this day was coming. Conner's had a tooth that's been a little loose for months now. In fact, we were just talking yesterday morning about how much looser it had gotten over the past several weeks - but that it still had quite a ways to go. And besides, the kid's seven years old. He's bound to lose his first tooth the "real" way sometime, right?!

Well, after our little dicussion about that tooth, Conner had corn on the cob for lunch at school. His friend's mom who had lunch with them, and who I happened to see when I was picking him up after school, said that he ate the corn fine. But when he took a bite of his popsicle, apparently the corn had done a number on the little tooth, and the popsicle was more than he could handle. He dropped the popsicle, grabbed his mouth, and kind of freaked out. The tooth was bleeding a little, and definitely much looser than it had been before school that morning. Bless his heart, most of his friends are old pros at this by now, and even though he's lost two teeth already, he has no idea how it's really supposed to happen.

Once he realized that he was okay - he had just made an already loose tooth looser - he was fine. But now that tooth was loose enough that he could really feel it and he became very aware of it. All afternoon and evening yesterday, he wiggled and wiggled and wiggled that tooth. Occasionally he would come show me, I'd take a turn wiggling, and I could almost always tell that it was just a tiny bit looser. I thought I'd never get him to leave it alone last night long enough for him to go to sleep!

And then he woke up this morning...and wiggled and wiggled and wiggled and wiggled. Every time I looked at him he was wiggling that tooth.

Bret is on a hunting trip this weekend, and we had already made plans for him to try to pull it when he gets home tomorrow afternoon. But eventually, as I was cooking dinner, Conner came running into the kitchen. "Look at it now Mom!" At this point the tooth was pretty much just hanging by a thread - loose enough that I was beginning to be concerned about the possibility of it falling out in his sleep and choking on it. I asked him if he wanted me to go ahead and pull it. But he insisted that no one was going to pull his tooth except for him. (I guess he had changed his mind about his daddy!)And then he disappeared into the bathroom...and a few minutes later I heard, "It's out! It's out! It's out! Mommy it's out!" He came running into the kitchen again, this time with the tooth in his hand. :)He said that he had been trying to push it as far back as he could, and then it felt funny. So he leaned down into the sink, and his tooth fell out of his mouth. We dug out the tooth fairy bear (that Bret's Granny gave him years ago) and tucked his little tooth safely inside. What an exciting evening!!

It's kind of funny to me how we hardly ever even think about our teeth. We brush them a couple of times a day, but other than that they don't get much attention unless they're hurting. But when babies get their first little teeth, parents get all giddy and excited. See my baby Conner with his first little tooth barely peeking out? I remember I was sooo excited for him!
But sadly (well...not completely sadly...) the babies-cutting-new-teeth phase of our lives is completely over. Joey just finished cutting his last 2-yr-old molar a few days ago...

Now we're entering a new phase of our lives that still involves cutting teeth, it's just the loosing of the old tooth that's the exciting part. Conner's a big kid now, all done with that tooth that we were so proud of, ready for his permanent ones - and we're equally excited. Where oh where has time gone?

As I'm getting ready for bed tonight, I just went to kiss that sweet little head goodnight, thankful for the excuse to look back at his baby pictures and remember what a cute, chubby, bald little head it used to be. And I saw that the tooth fairy had already come and gotten his tooth and replaced it with a dollar.

Now I'm looking forward to an exciting morning. :)

**Sunday 7:04 AM Update** The proud recipient of a new dollar bill would like to go buy some candy with it!...and he's already got Micah crying because he says he's not gonna share...and Joey's already got Conner crying because he got ahold of the note the Tooth Fairy left and has crumpled it up...

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Cousin!

After years of being the only grandkids on both sides (and spoiled r-o-t-t-e-n!), Kaleb arrived about a year and a half ago and the Wellsbrothers finally became couins.

And then awhile back, within days of one another, we found out that we're expecting more - Aggie and Uncle Kevin are expecting Kallie late October/early November, and Bubba and Uncle Chris are expecting Griffin about the same time.

And then we found out that Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert are expecting Joberto (that's the official nickname - we don't know the sex yet :) in mid March. She's 13 weeks, and has the pleasure of getting to see the baby everytime she goes to the doctor. This week was the first time that Joberto actually started resembling a human. They saw the baby hiccuping, kicking its feet over its head and sucking its thumb. Veeeeerrrrry exciting!!

So bring on the cousins! This auntie is getting pretty anxious to snuggle me some babies - and then give them back for the 2am feedings! :)

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Call Me a Chicken...

...or overly cautious...or just a dummy...but...

Hermine scared me.

I think actually, when the storm hit us it was "the remnants of" Tropical Storm Hermine. But it was definantly still a storm. I spent my Tuesday afternoon huddled in an inside classroom with my kids and a bunch of first graders, woke up Wednesday morning to see that the creek behind our house was about to overflow its banks, and spent the morning almost literally watching it rise. Finally when the creek was a several yards from my house on one side, a few feet from my house on another side, and actually touching it on the another side I called calfrope.

(I realize those pictures don't really look like much...but those of you who know what it usually looks like and far down that creek usually is can tell!) Hearing that the rain should let up soon, but that more was on the way during the night and the next morning, I heeded Bret's plea (he was in Oklahoma for the day), packed the boys and myself up for the night, checked Conner out of school early (there's a low spot in the road between our house and the school and we were concerned that it may become impassable and extremely difficult to get to the school to pick Conner up), and we went to spend the night at Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert's house. They live on much higher ground on the other side of town.

As I left, I felt good about my decision - on one side of us the creek was up against the neighbor's house...and on the other side of us the creek was three feet deep in the neighbor's ground floor and within inches of the road. Even though the rain was stopping, and deep inside I really knew it was going to be okay, who knew when the creek would stop rising - and what would happen if we really did get more rain. I simply was not interested in spending a sleepless night watching weather radars with a creek lapping up against my house!

As it turns out, the creek didn't rise too much more, and we heard that it actually went down pretty quickly. When we got home at about 1:00 this afternoon, I'm not sure if Bret even believed me that there had been that much water.

But there was. And I still slept well last night. Thank you Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert for letting us crash!

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1st Day of Preschool - What a Day!

Yesterday was Micah's first day in Miss Pam's Penguin class, Joey's first day in Mrs. Katie's Bears class, and my first day in Mrs. Rachel's Rabbits class. It was raining, so we didn't get to do our first day pictures outside like usual, but we made do in the kitchen!Micah reported a great day - one of his friends liked his Phineas and Ferb shirt, and they got to paint red apples! Last year Micah brought Softie to school with him. To my knowledge, Softie never left Micah's backpack, but it was comforting to Micah just to know that he was there. But this year he has decided that now that he's 4 1/2 and in pre-K, he doesn't even need to bring Softie with him in the van. It's just fine for Softie to wait for him at home. Wow. I'm excited and proud that he's becoming unattached on his own...but it's a little sad for me too.

Joey seemed to have had a great day - he got to paint circles with dot dot markers and Mrs. Katie read them a dinosaur book! I had been a little concerned about what Joey would do when/if he saw me in the hall. (Our classrooms are next door.) And it happened - and he told me, "I'm finished in there." But I got a hug, told him he needed to go back for a little while, and he was fine. Phew!

My day was pretty crazy. I hadn't been actively looking for a job when this one came up. I had just heard that there was an opening, dropped off my resume just to see what would happen, and months had passed. I had given up on it. And then I got a call at the end of July to come in for an interview, and the whole thing just kind of fell into my lap. I've been really excited about this, but anxious to see just how it would all work out.

Just before Meet the Teacher on Thursday, I learned that two of my students had dropped out. And then on Friday afternoon I learned that I already had two new students. And the school was closed on Monday...and they and their parents would be coming early on the first day to meet me since they missed Meet the Teacher...leaving me scrambling to try to take the old kids' names off of things and get the new kids' names up in the few minutes I had before they got there.

So the day started off a little hectic for me, but ended up okay. I'm going to need to make some adjustments to my schedule, and try a couple of things a little differently next time...but mostly it was a good day. I'm feeling like once we get into our routine, this little job is really going to be a blessing for me and my family.

We were all pooped though, and after a relaxing rest time at home for a couple of hours, we went to get Conner. It was still raining - Tropical Storm Hermine (or was it just "the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine" at that time, I don't know) was upon us. Instead of my normal walk-up pickup, I had made arrangements to get Conner in the carline so we wouldn't get wet. But then we heard the sirens. We were under a Tornado Watch. No children would be released from the school until the Watch had expired. So I turned off the van, grabbed Joey and Micah, and ran through the rain (so much for staying dry!) and into the school.

Indoors, we joined the reams of students exiting the gym where they had been waiting for their parents, and went with Conner and the other first graders into an inside room. There we all sat in the duck-and-cover position for about 30 minutes. It was pretty brutal and uncomfortable, and the kids of course didn't understand what was going on and didn't want to sit on the floor that way.

One of the teachers asked if anyone knew a song that they wanted to sing. Conner immediately started singing, "Waves of Mercy," and the entire first grade sang along with him. It was pretty cool - what a sweet kid I've got! Then we sang a few other random songs...and eventually Conner and I ended up leading everyone in a rivoting rendition of "99 Bottles of Pop on the Wall." Believe it or not, the kids all sang along. There was no fidgeting or talking...until we got to 78 and in disbelief I asked if they wanted to keep going. "Nooooo!" they all groaned. :)

Not long after that we were released from the duck-and-cover position, and the kids were released to their parents. It was raining much harder now, but we ran back out to the van, where it was holding up carline.

Between the first-day-crazies and the tornado routine, I was exhausted. I was thrilled when Bret took us to Chick-fil-A for dinner, and very ready to call it a day after that. We'll see how day 2 goes tomorrow...
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Monday, September 6, 2010

All About Conner

Conner had a big homework project to work on last week and over the long weekend. (Thank you, BooBoo and Yogi for helping him while he was at your house!) His "All About Me" book is due tomorrow. He was given a blank booklet of manilla paper, and was asked to fill it up with information about himself.

I worked on it a lot with him, but did my best to make it his - down to the subject matter on each page. And I think it shows. This little book's got a lot of personality, from great creatvity, down to a noticeable lack of attention to neatness. :) I think the purpose will be served - his class will definitely learn some things about Conner, and I hope he learned a lot in the process.
Page 1 - My nuclear family. Under each photo is the person's name and their age.Page 2: My Extended Family. Again, under each photo is the person's name and age.
Page 3: My Favorite Foods. Chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, and watermelon.Page 4: My favorite colors. Red, Green, and Black.
Page 5: My pets. "My dog's name is Chicory. He is a chocolate lab." And then there's a photo of his new fish, Phineas and Perry.Page 6: My friends. Hayden, Natalie, and Kason.
Page 7: My favorite animals. Kangaroo, dolphin, sea lion, cheetah, and hyena.
Page 8: My favorite activities. Reading and watching my fish.
Page 9: My favorite places I've been. Florida beach, Oklahoma City Zoo, and Louisiana Swamp Tour.
Page 10: My favorite places I will go someday. (Notice it's not "I want to go" or "I hope to go" - it's I will!) Paris (France), Amazon (rain forest), and China (graet wall of china).
Page 11: My favorite movies and TV shows. Phineas and Ferb, Astroboy, and Pokemon.
Page 12: My favorite video games. Mario Brothers wii, Lego Indiana Jones, and Lego Star Wars.
Page 13: My favorite historical architecture: Great Wall of China and Eiffel Tower.
Page 14: My favorite Magic Tree House books. High Tide in Hawaii, Afternoon on the Amazon, Dark Day in the Deep, and Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve.
Conner, you did a great job. I'm proud of you!

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