Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family Memories

Christmas is always a big part of my family's traditions. Growing up, we were pretty poor. As I entered middle school it was no different - in fact, financially speaking it was worse.

However, despite all of that, Christmas was and still is my favorite holiday. My mom, grandma, and aunts would all begin baking and cooking days in advance. Once school was out, Matt, Meg and I would all spend the days playing and decorating our house with homemade decorations. Especially, once I taught them how to make snowflakes. We would set up our Christmas tree and Mom would let us decorate the tree. Of course, after we fell asleep she'd fix it so it was a little less lopsided, since we tended to put too many ornaments in areas and had thick patches in some places and bare patches in others. Regardless of all that, though we still enjoyed Christmas, the movies, the music, and if we were really lucky that year - playing in the snow.

We'd go outside and play in the snow for what seemed like hours when we were young, but looking back I realized we weren't out as long as we thought. We'd come in one at a time to defrost, this usually included crawling under the covers with Mom in her heated water bed and snuggling up next to her to warm our frozen appendages. Looking back now, she took it all in stride and didn't complain. Sometimes, she would ask us "Who is that?" and of course, we answered with "me". It became a game we would play. Kind of like the game she made up where she would ask us how we got so cute? When we were little we didn't know the answer, but as we learned more and more in school our answers became cuter and eventually, Meg told her, "DNA Mom, DNA."

No matter how poor we were though, Mom always baked goodies and cooked what seemed like huge amounts of food. Our house would begin to smell of Christmas. But I think our favorite part of Christmas was when our cousins would come because it meant new playmates. It also meant that we were that much closer to Christmas day itself. So as the time drew closer and closer, Matt, Meg and I would await eagerly for our cousins to arrive with food, their bodies, and more importantly, more presents. As I got older it became less about the presents and more about spending time together. But lately I've been thinking a lot about presents and what I think I loved the most. So here are a few of my favorite things:

1. When I was in middle school, Mom found or had made the neatest pillow. It wasn't very big, but it had the best poem on it about, "I love you so my daughter and I never cease to pray that God will guide and keep you in His love, each and every day. . ." There is more to it, but that's what I remember of it. It was lost 10 years ago or so when I was away in Sicily. I would love to find it or one like it to give to each of my girls.

2. A coat - a few years ago, I needed a coat very badly. And I do mean very badly. My coats had fallen apart and I had gained weight after having Elizabeth and so when Chris thought I wasn't paying any attention, he ran back to a store where I spotted a coat I liked and he bought it. Now I know he meant to keep it a secret, but if you know my husband, you know he cannot keep a secret.

3. This is last, but certainly not least - the year Chris and I had begun dating we had a good Christmas. Sarah's mom had finally allowed her to come and stay for Christmas after Chris talked to her. A few days after Christmas we drove up to Iowa and met Chris' dad and on the way home, I suspected that something was up. I also knew that if I was incorrect, I would be devastated, so I told myself to not get my hopes up. Although, all signs pointed to the fact that Chris planned to ask me to marry him officially - with a ring. As luck would have it, I was correct. Dec. 30th, Chris asked me to marry him and gave me the most beautiful ring. It may not seem like much to other people - or those who place importance on size and carat, etc . . . but it was then and still is today one of my most prized possessions. I love that ring, because he worked long and hard to find and pay for it.

Sadly, as we've grown up the cousins have moved away and so getting together has become a little more difficult - especially since Aunt Chris and Uncle Frank are far away. I would love for us to all have a large Christmas again like we used to every four years when they would come home on furlough. It would be a huge gathering now with three sisters, their children and their children's families, but it would be wonderful. We used to have so much fun visiting with each other and playing games and laughing.

My final favorite memory - at least for this entry, is Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve we would all gather around after a day spent playing, talking and eating; we would begin to sing Christmas songs and Uncle Ed would read the Christmas story and pray. It may not seem like much, but it was our tradition and it seemed magical to me somehow. It was nice to open presents, sure but it wasn't the best part of Christmas. I don't have any of the gifts I got as a child left, they've been misplaced or stolen over the years or broken if they were the best tea mugs ever (Mom, made those too- or at least she painted them for us), I don't even have my Barry Manilow tapes anymore. But those memories - those never leave me and I think my life is all the better for them.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year my friends and family.

Maureen Koeppel

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Santa Dilemma


Santa Claus: To Be or Not to Be
As anyone who is a parent knows, at some point, no matter how much you fight it, your children begin to talk about Santa Claus. Lizzie started talking about him a few years ago. This wouldn't pose a problem per se, except for this. We don't promote Santa Claus - since he isn't really the reason for Christmas. For several years now we have not purchased gifts from Santa for her and yet she still holds on to the dream.
Of course, it doesn't help us that other "Santa's elves" help him out mysteriously. For example: Last year she desperately wanted a Nutcracker. A few days after Christmas, one showed up with a note of apology from Santa telling her he had been very busy and that his elf had to help him out a bit. While this note was adorable, at the same time, it has perpetuated the belief in Santa Claus.
Now I love the idea of Santa Claus - especially, since Santa Claus was a real person. Nicholas was a man who helped the less fortunate and gave them gifts since God had blessed his life so richly. Sadly, this made him an outlaw in his home country - since it was against the law to help people then (this is according to Veggie Tales - so take it with a grain of salt okay). Oddly, no matter how many times we have watched this lovely dvd, it does not seem to sink into her head. This is where my problem comes in.
Last night, I took Lizzie to CiCi's so we could aid her school in it's fundraising goals. We try to support her school whenever possible (within reason of course). After eating terrible pizza I took Lizzie to the mall and she HAD to see Santa Claus. I like that the kids can see him and yet you don't have to pay to have your picture taken with him if you prefer to save your money. So Lizzie went and sat on his knee and told him her wish - she wants a robot boy so she can grow up to work on robots when she gets older. Can you tell she is obsessed with Astroboy? I had to remove Astroboy from our Netflix Instant Play because I watched some of it and it was very violent. As if my autistic daughter who is very imaginative needs to see that - no thank you. We are still dealing with the aftermath from her watching Coraline. Oy vey.
Here was my dilemma - Do I purchase the toy robot she wants and allow her to remain unscathed and delusional for another year. Or do I let her learn the hard way that there really isn't a Santa Claus? The truth is, I believed in Santa Claus when I was little and my parents got me a present from Santa each year until I no longer believed in him. But Chris and I decided to neither encourage nor discourage Santa Claus. After all, it was only a matter of time before Elizabeth went off to school and her peers informed her about him. And after sleeping on it, this is what I decided to do. . .
I sat down with Elizabeth and we talked about how Santa Claus was a real person a long time ago. However, he was dead and unlike Jesus he didn't come to life again after 3 days (a concept she still hasn't quite figured out - she can say it, but I don't think it's fully made the connection in the brain yet). I told her that St. Nicholas/Santa Claus was a very good man who did many things to help others and that it was okay to like St. Nick/Santa Claus. But Santa didn't really bring toys to children and that he is not the reason we celebrate Christmas. So we won't make cookies for Santa - however, we will make a cake for baby Jesus and we will make cookies and mail them to Daddy. I'm not sure if this helped her or if it even worked, but for now we'll wait and see.
It's amazing how when our children are little life is so easy to fix. There is no problem too big that cheerios can't solve or a kiss to a booboo can't help. Mommmy and Daddy have all the answers and are the smartest people on earth. Then as they grow up, their problems become much more difficult, their ouchies are in their hearts and on the outside. But the outside wounds from falling down are much easier to help than the wounds to the heart. Sigh, and I have many more of these to look forward to - and today I just don't know if I am completely up to the challenge. But as Scarlet would say, "I'll think about that tomorrow."
Have a good week and a Merry Christmas.
Maureen

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

He Is The Reason!

As a little girl growing up in the Oklahoma City area, I loved Christmas. Every year Mom would load us up in the station wagon and we'd drive over to Ski Island and ooh and aaah over the Christmas lights that the people there put up for others to enjoy. Today I still load up my girls in the minivan and we go driving around and look at the beautiful lights and listen to Christmas music. Sadly, this year there are fewer houses putting up displays.

However, I have noticed a sad trend as I drove around a few days ago. I had Lizzie, Beka and Kiernan Trotter with me and we drove to the east side of Wichita and I realized that with a few exceptions that there were very few homes that had Nativity scenes up. I saw many Santa's and Frosty's and other beautiful displays put up, but it seemed to richer the area where we drove the less likely we were to see anything that resembled Christianity. I did notice one home with a beautiful display that showed various versions of the Star of David - so Happy Hanukkah to them and kudos for boldly sharing their choice of faith. However, I also noticed that the area where I live and the poorer areas had more nativity scenes up.

This got me to thinking and explaining to Kiernan as we talked about why we saw so few homes with a Nativiy scene up. We talked about how sad it was because it's true, the more money you have the less you rely on God. I talked to her about how Jesus told us that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle (a gate in Jerusalem, not a real eye of a needle - or so it is speculated) than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We talked about how when you have a lot of money, that you don't seem to think you need to rely on God as much. It also got us noticing and looking for the Christ child even more as we drove around.

I would love to tell you that we saw Him in front of many homes, but alas we did not. That doesn't mean He isn't in the homes without lights up, but I thought it said a lot about the state of our country. I think it shows that as a country we have lost our way, we have turned our back on God. I also wonder if after this, if we will see revival happen in our country. I wonder if we will find more people coming to church because they don't know where else to turn.

When you have exhausted all of your resources, do you turn to God? Or do you turn to him from the start? If you put up a lights display what would you want your lights to say about you? Would you boldly put lights up declaring, "He is the Reason for the Season?" Or would you hide him in your home with a Nativity scene? I'm not trying to point fingers, I am just offering some food for thought. How proud of Christ are you? In a world that promotes the art of political correctness, are you willing to be politically incorrect? Would you stand boldly and proudly proclaim Him?

Merry Christmas everyone and God Bless your week.

Maureen Koeppel

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reclaiming My Body - this is for nursing mom past and present


I know it seems like a weird title, but in truth, I have spent the last few months doing just that. I have been "Reclaiming My Body", I was a breastfeeding mom for two years and I nursed Lizzie too when she was a baby until she was twenty months.
Now I enjoyed nursing Beka, and I loved the bond of nursing Elizabeth, although not the actual process itself with the first child. It was nice to listen to the girls glug away as them got the important stuff they needed. I am all for breastfeeding, it is good for you, good for your baby and it is supposed to make your kids smarter - which my kids needed the extra push anyway (just kidding). I loved snuggling them close to me and how they would fall asleep after their pretty little tummies were full. I loved to smell them and listen to their individual noises - Lizzie always cracked me up as she would begin to hum/snack at the same time - mmmmmm . . . .mmmm. . . mmmmmm. . . mmmmm . . . This would continue for several minutes as if she were humming herself to sleep and in a rhythm no less. Beka made similar noises, but hers had their own rhythm and cadence as well. I especially love that fresh clean baby smell. It's the best smell in the world.
Now that I've said all that, I also should point out that I am positive I am done having children, because as much as I enjoyed all of those things, I don't think I have it in me to go through pregnancy again. More importantly, I like that my breasts are now my own again and my hormones are starting to thankfully level out again so I feel like a real person again.
I have several friends who are still having babies and some who have just had babies and of course, we all talk about breastfeeding, because most of them try and succeed or at least try. Sadly, they all have the same problem - low milk supply so they pump and they do what they have to in order to up their milk. I cannot say I would have loved to have that problem, but I would absolutely been more thrilled, had I produced maybe a little less milk.
You know that scene in the film, "Look Who's Talking?" where Kirstie Alley is staring at her chest in the movie and wondering how it happened and making comments - well I've been her. I was told with Elizabeth that I should expect my milk to come in within the first three to five days. I had her on Wednesday and Sunday morning I woke up to the Grand Teton on my chest. Chris ever the loving husband he was, commented about liking it - while I wondered, where the Grand Teton's supposed to spurt out milk? Of course, we didn't have a breast pump - we were young, stupid and didn't know I'd need one. So my loving husband ran out to grab one. I spent hours pumping with the hand held pump and I expressed a full bottle on each side - after I nursed Lizzie. Of course, as time went on, the milk supply dimished to what Lizzie needed. Thank Heavens, but until that happened I spent many hours hand pumping milk - I could have ended third world hunger with the amounts of milk I expressed. It was insane.
Then we had Rebekah (the cutie in the photo at the top) and I thought I was ready for the insurgence of milk that came. As it turned out, I was not prepared to wake up engorged and sore with cannon balls attached to my chest. God bless my husband and his pointed head, he wanted to touch them! I almost killed him - especially when he asked me why I was so crabby. Gee I don't know honey, it might have been because my chest felt like I had 2 tons sitting on it and Beka couldn't eat enough to sate the aching in them. And I had a doctor's appointment that day to check on my blood pressure. Chris, the good man he is who probably also valued his life stopped at the mall first and bought me a Medela. I love the Medela - it is my friend. Sadly it had to stay in the car whilst I got the blood pressure checked. So we sped home - after he asked if I wanted lunch I think I didn't kill him because he was driving and I needed to get home and pump - otherwise, he may have met his maker that day.
I never knew it could be such a pleasurable thing to drain your breasts. Honestly, it was almost better than being intimate with Chris. I have never been so relieved to do anything in my life. I pumped 8 oz off each side AFTER I fed Beka! It stayed like that for quite a while too - it didn't taper off for months. In retrospect that proved a good thing - it meant that I was able to have plenty of milk for Chris and the sitter while I was in college.
I also didn't enjoy feeling like a milk cow. One time when Lizzie was small I had just finished in the shower and was standing by the bed when she crawled up to me and latched on and began nursing - I looked at Chris and remarked, "Look honey, I'm a crawlthru." He thought it was hilarious, and enjoyed joking that I was the food supply. Then again we always joked that Lizzie was never happy til she had her morning cup of boob. We found funny names for it, like boobin' or getting the good stuff. Actually the "good stuff" stuck around so much with Beka that no matter how I tried to teach her to call it a cookie or something else, she actually would tell me she wanted "Good".
I enjoyed nursing both girls (more Beka than Lizzie but I was more of a pro with Beka so it was smoother getting started), but I also have enjoyed reclaiming my breast for myself again. It's nice to put on a bra and not worry if I can give Beka access to my breasts. It's nice to not worry about leaking milk in public. I also must admit, I don't miss letdown and if you've ever nursed you remember the feeling of millions of pinpricks going through your breasts like when your foot falls asleep and it's got blood recirculating through it. I don't miss not being enthused at the idea of letting Chris touch my chest, because I could start leaking.
However, I will add there are certain perks with breastfeeding. Like, bonding with your baby, but I am also talking about the ability to be a bit mischevious. When I was nursing Lizzie and my milk first came in, Chris was laying on the floor watching TV while I pumped and so I would periodically squirt the back of his neck. It took him 30 minutes to realize what I was doing. It was perfect, I enjoyed that moment a lot. I also enjoyed knowing that because I nursed that Chris had to hand me the babies at some point in time when he wasn't working, but even then if he could have nursed, I would never have been able to hold the girls. He was gaga over them from the moment they were born. He's a great husband and father - even when he does make me nuts.
I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moms

If you read this blog, then you know that I am a mom. Actually I am a stay at home mom who enjoys being at home. And I have other women who I am friends with who wish they could stay at home or who understand that they are better moms because they work.

This got me to thinking - what have you learned from your own mother? I ask this, because it has become aware to me in the passing years that not everyone had a great mom like my cousins and my siblings and I had to observe and learn from each day. Between my mom and her sisters and my dad's sisters as well as family friends I was able to decide what kind of mom I wanted to be, what was important (i.e. taking kid to dr and dentist to name a few things), but there are so many women who didn't have positive, strong examples of good mothering.

I know of one young woman whose children have been in and out of foster care for drug abuse (on her part, the kids), neglect, etc. . . but that is an extreme case. I also know of young women who just didn't learn the little things - like how to talk to your kids even when angry, schedules are important for children, etc . . . Those may seem like no brainers to some of us, but for others, they aren't - they never saw these things modeled and so they may or may not learn them the hard way or even learn them at all.

Then I also see the problem with women tearing each other down and judging each other. I am an older mom and one of my sister in laws is a young mom. Now I am by no means a perfect parent and I don't have all of the answers, but I have structure and discipline - they are important for our household. We also have a child with autism - hence the importance of having structure and discipline. My sister-in-law didn't see this modeled and she is young and learning. She is also a very good mom who loves her children a lot. She is making the effort to learn, but this isn't always the case for many young moms.

I also see women tearing each other down over the "is it better to stay at home vs. the working mom." Not everyone woman is good at staying at home - they need that interaction away from their children so that when they are with their kids, they can give them the best of themselves. I also know of moms who would give or would have given anything to be able to stay at home, but it was not possible. These are the dilemmas that we as women face each day, month, and year and yet instead of being supportive, we are fighting each other. Why? Does it help us or hurt us? I propose it hurts us.

So here is my challenge to you . . . and to myself. The next time we as women catch ourselves trying to judge another woman harshly for her choices, let's try to put ourselves in her shoes. If possible talk to each other become a support system to each other, stop being the enemy or playing the game of "I'm a better mother because . . ." If you see a working mom who is in need, talk with her, see if you can help. If you see a stay at home mother who is in need of help - help her. If we work at this together, we can raise great children who are well mannered, aware of consequences and who can live product, and God centered lives, but we have to stop fighting each other and work together as a team.

I hope you all have a good week. I will get off of my soap box now.

In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, November 16, 2009

You've Got to Love Winter

Winter has come to Kansas finally. Today we had a rain and snow mix and the temperatures were downright chilly. It was wonderful. We have entered tea drinking, bake cookies, make soup, and snuggle with the kids for story time and popcorn seasons and I love this time of year. I love the cold and the good excuse to stay inside instead of feeling like I should be out running errands and taking care of things. It's a nice respite from all of the daily grind of going and going until I can't take it anymore.

Then again, I am a person who enjoys well earned relaxation time. I have never been a person who feels like she has to try to juggle so many things that her head could possibly spin. I hate being so busy that I don't know if I am coming or going. I don't mind it occasionally, but not continually. It makes me nuts and I don't like being super stressed out. Maybe it because Mom didn't like it either so I didn't know any other way, but I tend to lean more towards the idea that I am this way because between both parents genetics, I got the mellow gene. I know I could have been different, because there are little things that remind me that I can be like Grandma Taylor and a stickler for things. I know this often when the little things begin to get to me and I have to step back and take a deep breathe and ask myself, "In the grand scheme of life, how important is this really going to be at the end of the day?" I find that tends to put things in perspective. There are little things I also do to stay mellow, like I purposely don't take on too many projects, because I don't like to be so busy it isn't funny.

When I found out that Chris was deploying, I began making a mental list of the things I knew I would need to consider cutting back on while he was away. So I backed off of several things I did for church and I was the FRG leader, but when Lizzie and Sarah were not doing well, I decided that I needed to let that go. Fortunately, there was someone to step into my place so I didn't leave them high and dry. I have found that in doing these things they help me stay calm and cool when things get tough. I can stop and take a deep breathe and look at things rationally and sort them out. It might not work for everyone, but it works for me.

These are the things that I know would make my Grandma nuts, but I also know that I need to stay this way for my sanity. I need to mellow, especially since high blood pressure runs in my family. I am 35 and need blood pressure medicine - that stinks. It isn't because of stress either, for me it's about sleep. When I don't get the sleep I need, then my blood pressure elevates. Of course, there are times when my stress level is high and it sends my blood pressure sky high. However, those times are few and far between. Those are also the times when I tend to step away from my life for a few moments and try to take those deep breathes too. Sometimes, it works, other times, not so much so. I hope someday to not need my blood pressure medicine, but sadly, that may not happen until I get to Heaven. Grrrrr . . .

Well I hope you all have a good week. I promise to try to write again soon.

In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sorry for the Delays

I am sorry for the delays in posting a new blog. If you are on my Facebook and a friend of mine, then you know why. For those of you who aren't and don't know what is going on - in a nutshell, my husband's soon to be former company (he was one of the almost 9,000 who got layoff notices in April from Cessna/Textron - and yes it's legal because his entire area is either being laid off or put somewhere new) overpaid us a nice sum of money. The problem - it was a mistake. So now we are in the process of attempting to work out all of the details and fine print to pay them the cash back since we spent some of it. We paid off our minivan, paid up our car insurance until February, and other bills that needed our attention. The good news is that we are now in a good place bill wise. The bad news, it was a mistake so now I have to come up with this amount of money so I can pay them back the overpayment.

That was my week in a nutshell. I spent Monday and Tuesday working on damage control because we thought we were -$6,000 in our banking account. So I was working with our bank to make sure it wouldn't ruin our credit. Then on Wednesday I discovered that the money had been returned to us again because you can't reclaim what isn't there. So now I am working with the company to fix this lovely snaffuu that they created and honestly, I prefer to deal with them than to deal with the bank. At least, working with Cessna won't ruin our credit.

Now for some very interesting developments - Chris is looking for employment and we are 89 days as of today and counting until he comes home. There are several opportunities that are opening up. I am not at liberty to discuss these options, but I will ask that you please keep us all in your prayers. Please pray for Chris as he searches for gainful employment, myself that I can be patient as we wait on God's timing, and that God will help Sarah and Elizabeth as they face the possibility that we may have to move. There are some opportunities here, but there are more likely possibilities that we will be able to pursue out of state. We could end up anywhere, but the neatest part is watching as God is opening doors for several job opportunities with people who can help Chris get hired on in these areas.

I will blog again in a day or two about something preferably of lighter fare. After all, it can't all be doom and gloom right?! Right. Now help me figure out how to tell Sarah that and make it connect in her brain.

Have a good week and God bless.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Planning for Christmas? Already?!

Getting ready for Christmas? Already?!

Okay, I get it. The stores really want you to shop for Christmas, but why do they have to put Christmas decorations up the same time they put up Halloween decorations?! Of course, this means that whenever I take Lizzie or Beka with me to the store, they see said decorations and I get to hear them squeal with delight about how they can't wait for Christmas.


Now please understand. I really, really love Christmas. I mean I really do love it a lot. I get as excited as the kids do sometimes and I enjoy planning their presents, etc . . . What I don't enjoy is listening to talk about Christmas from October until February when it finally sinks into Lizzie's head that Christmas is over and done with and she needs to focus on something else. This year the thing she will be focusing on, is Disney World, and Daddy coming back from Iraq. So while I really do love Christmas, even I have a saturation point and I usually hit it about two weeks before it comes and in worst case scenarios - one month before it comes


So here we are, it's only the first part of November and Elizabeth is talking about presents. Now I would normally not be thrilled by this, except for this one thing. She isn't talking about what she wants, it's about her buying presents for her sister! Now that is a good feeling.


Obviously, this means I will end up spending a little more than I originally planned, but I will happily spend it in order for Lizzie to learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I will take her shopping, just her and I and we will find a gift for each of her sisters and one for Daddy to open when he gets home. So I think this Christmas will be wonderful. The girls are learning to give, they are learning to put others first, and more importantly, they are learning to keep Christmas talk to a minimum until tomorrow anyway.
I hope you all have a very nice day and a great week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!


I hope you all had a good Halloween. We started our Halloween on Friday afternoon by going with Sheri and Damion and the Trotter clan to Walter's Pumpkin Patch outside of El Dorado. This is Elizabeth, Saidra, Jonas, Sheri, & Kiernan on the first row, then Asher by Damion and Canaan. The kids had a blast and really enjoyed themselves and Sheri discovered the joys of pumpkin salsa there.
They have a very neat kids area and playground area that the kids really enjoyed. We might have gotten more bang for our buck but we got there an hour before it closed, so we didn't get to enjoy everything they had for entertainment.
Afterwards, we took the kids to Wendy's for dinner and Sarah and Damion went across the parking lot to Twin Lake Terrors which wasn't so much terrifying as amusing to Sarah. Either way they all enjoyed themselves and had a good time. I then drove to Mom and Bud's place to check the mail and to also to watch Sanctuary whilst they are visiting in Ohio and Virginia with Bud's family.
Halloween morning I awoke at the usual time, because I am on a sad schedule and wake up each morning out of habit or due to the alarm at 7:10 a.m. So I got up and drove to Wal-Mart and grabbed a few things for the kids. I also purchased a firepit so we could roast marshmallows with the kids that night. Then I picked up Sheri and we ran to the commissary and grabbed the food items we needed for the nights plans. Sufficit to say by the time we finished getting everything we needed for the evening, I had to lay down and take a nap. I think we used more energy planning and getting everything than we did trick or treating with the kids and the party itself. That includes the time and energy it took to cook, assemble the firepit and get the fire going, which I don't think ever actually happened completely.
So we got everyone dressed and took them trick or treating and they had a blast. The houses in our neighborhood did some neat stuff and one house actually had a puppet show where the puppets looked like real people and they danced them to the songs, "Thriller", "Ghostbusters", and "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." It was very entertaining and the kids all enjoyed the show a lot and had a good time. So after all of that was said and done, you would think they would be exhausted today - nope. They are looking a little ragged around the edges though, so I am considering keeping Lizzie at home. She is pale and has circles under eyes really badly. This has been going on for a while and she's complaining of a stomach ache. In fact, Lizzie and Beka are currently snuggled under Beka's blanket on the couch next to me as I am writing. I am considering letting her stay home and have a quiet day and work with her on her homework and with some workbooks I purchased for her to use.
I hope you all have a good Halloween. Happy Birthday to Sandy, my brother-in-law in Edmond, OK. Today (Nov. 1st) is his b-day.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things


This is Rebekah. Rebekah has discovered her voice! She often imitates and repeats things that are adorable and of course, some things I wish she would repeat.
For example: Her new favorite phrase is either, "Mmm, that's good." Or, "Oh that's ewicious!" Of course, then there is the other day where while in the car she puts her hands on either side of her face as says, "oh Cwap!" I promise that phrase was not edited, it was not used as a replacement for another word that means poop, it was crap. Honest!
But I think my most favorite phrase of hers right now is, "I want to snuggle." First, because I love to snuggle with her. Second, because it's amusing to me that she uses this phrase most often when it is bed time and she is attempting to delay the inevitable downward slide into the Land of Nod.
This of course, got me thinking about all of my kids (and yes, this includes Sarah) favorite methods of procrastination when it comes to bedtime.
Beka always uses snuggling, drinks, a snack, and now although she isn't potty trained, has taken a page from her sister, Lizzie's book. "I have to go potty." The one I usually find the hardest is the one where she tells me she wants to snuggle. She's cute, little, and two yrs old. Tell me, how can I honestly decline snuggle time with this little cutie? The answer . . . I can't, so she gets snuggles and I get quiet. It's kind of a win, win for us both.
Lizzie, well Lizzie is getting rather creative these days. In the beginning it was the standard excuse. I need a night light, I need a drink, I need to go potty, etc . . . now though she's gotten rather good - she comes down and tells me that Beka is making her nuts! Now this might work if Beka were indeed upstairs with her, but to head this excuse off at the pass, I have started putting Beka to bed in the playpen in the living room. I think you can see how well that excuse works to help her - at the very least it amuses me.
Now Sarah - Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Sarah's favorite way to put off bed is to come up with some insanely complex question about God, or life, or her own self esteem, etc . . . You get the picture. Don't get me wrong she uses the other old ones too sometimes, but mainly trying to wax philosophical was her favorite method of putting off going to bed. Now her way may have worked except there is one thing that was not in her favor. I am a morning person.
I don't mean I just prefer to wake up in the morning instead of half way through the day. I mean I wake up ready to go and often get out of bed and hit the ground running. So by the time bedtime rolls around for the girls, I am almost ready to go to sleep as well. Sadly, this means that her line of questioning only irks me instead of intriguing me. Then the next morning I have had time to sleep and I am ready to answer her questions, but she is a night owl and doesn't function well until after 10 a.m. so I think you can see our conundrum.
What are your kids favorite methods of putting of going to bed? I would love to hear them. So feel free to comment on Facebook or Twitter even and let me know.
Have a good week and a scary Halloween.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Answered Prayers


Chris has been facing some pretty nasty political things overseas lately. None of which he would like me to share, but like any job, politics are always involved.
The long and the short of it is this. Chris has been very stressed out and not sleeping well. Honestly, I might not have worried so much, except that if it was enough to make him worry, then it makes me worry.
The good news is that the situation at hand has been resolved. So for those of you who prayed for him, thank you.
This all got me thinking - especially since lately I've been in a funk - I get very introspective when these spells come on. How does stress affect us and how is it that afterwards we find ourselves fighting the duldrums? There is arguing, there is stress, there are moments of joy that go on for a long period of time and at the end we find ourselves in a valley. Why is that, do you think? I don't have any answers really, I am sure I could go research it and there is some medical reason. But this is more rhetorical. Okay maybe not - it's probably linked to parasympathetic overshoot. When a person suffers from prolonged periods of stress it triggers the sympathetic nervous system which controls our fight/flight responses. If the sympathetic is in overdrive it then causes our parasympathetic nervous system to also go into overdrive once the levels of stress have dissipated.
How do I know this? Well I was a psychology major. Now here is the question - if parasympathtic overshoot can cause us to become physically ill, then doesn't it also make sense that it can mean we fall into depression once the stressors have alleviated?
Okay I'll stop with the physiology lesson. Mainly I just needed to work this out so I could understand the cycles of being fine and then cycling into a few days where I'm not so fine. I'm not abusing the kids, I am just at a place where "I Vant to Be Alone" to coin a phrase. And no, that is not the best time for me to go to church. When people grieve or are depressed they say things they normally wouldn't say. I discovered the hard way during Chris' last deployment - a depressed Maureen is not a good social Maureen. For crying out loud, I told one of my friends that her daughter was homely! Of course, once she told me this I was mortified and apologized profusely, but once something comes out of your mouth, you can't take it back. Words that are written can be destroyed, burned, deleted even, but orally - well once you say it to someone you have pretty much sealed your fate.
There isn't a real point to this blog really. I think I am mainly processing everything and trying to puzzle it all out for my own needs. It is who I am, I need to understand things to put them to rights in my head and emotionally. Even if I don't get an apology, for me understand where a person was coming from when they do something stupid or said something hurtful, helps me let it go and move on.
I hope you all are having a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You gotta love irony!

Okay if you are new to reading this, I am the wife of an Army Reservist. Soon he will go full time Army, but for now we are reserves. Now I realize that things can be complicated, but your paystub shouldn't be one of them?!

I am laughing as I write this because I just took a peak out our next LES payment stub and the military is paying us the back money they owed us. This money is because when our men and women are putting their lives on the line in order to aid their families w/bills and silly annoying every day things like that, the U.S. government does not require them to pay taxes. They finally have paid us the taxes they should not have been taking out, and yet, we still paid taxes on even that?! Now let me ask you - is it me or is that just a whole new level of stupid right there? Who in their right minds came up with this system I don't know, but they should maybe find a different job or be handed their walking papers. The only excuse I can think of is this - a man must have come up with this idea. A man who doesn't pay the bills at home, because he does such a poor job that his wife has taken over bill paying.

Now I may be wrong, and if I am then shame on the woman who came up with this system. Because surely you are giving us all a very bad name.

Have a good week.
Maureen

Monday, October 19, 2009

Heading Home

We head out tomorrow. I think we are all ready to go and head out - okay everyone but Sarah I should say. Sarah loves Grandma Mary like a fish loves water. They have a very close relationship, which is good - it gives her some balance and a sympathetic ear.

Lizzie, Beka and Hayden have fought all day. I am ready to pack it up and head home. However, it should be noted that once I hit my saturation point, I am always ready to head out and get going. I'm one of those people who once I've made a decision, then I am ready to make it happen and tend to leap into action. Of course, I also analyze and probably over analyze the situation first so I can see all the possible scenario's and outcomes. So most of the time, the outcome is favorable.

This got me thinking though. In a world where we cannot control every aspect of our lives, why do we insist on trying so hard to do that very thing. How often have we each attempted to control our lives only to make a horrible debacle of the entire thing? How often do we hand the reigns over to Christ and let him turn what could potentially be a terrible situation into a beautiful and often amazing outcome? This is even when it takes us a while to see this for the amazing ending we hoped for. So often I am tempted to control the major things in life and I find continually that when I allow God to control it and be in charge that He makes it into something more beautiful than even I imagined.

I spent a lot of years wondering why life threw me lemons. Actually, it used to haunt me to a great extent and colored my life - why couldn't I be like those kids on SNU campus whose only worries were if they had a date for the weekend or if Daddy would buy them a new car. It wasn't that I wanted the new car or necessarily a date, because I knew what I was looking for in a man, but I wanted to have a life where I had trivial and mundane things. I didn't want to know so many of the things I knew about or understand as well as I did what it felt like to be another person's whipping post. In fact, it took going to another country to discover that I am who I am for reason's that only God could understand at the time.

I would often go to the rocky beach and walk down there and sit with my Bible and spend time with God. Sometimes I would talk, sometimes I would listen and in those times I began to let go of the pain, the hurts of the past and over that year I received healing. I am not saying I am perfectly whole - I'm still a work in progress (aren't we all). I am saying this - emotinoal healing is possible and I discovered a few years later exactly why I had the knowledge I have. God was preparing me to be Sarah's bonus mom. When she tells me about her hurts or her time w/her mom, I get it. I can understand how she feels - granted not in the exact same way, but I still understand her feelings.

So my thought for the day is this - let God have control. I know it sounds easy to say, but it isn't - trust me I too struggle with this -on a daily basis. However, I also know that when I relinquish control that God makes something beautiful - even in the middle of brokeness.

Have a good week.

In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, October 16, 2009

Worms

Okay I have to give a quick update on our vacation.

You know your Grandma loves you when she is willing to dig with you for worms! My mother-in-law, Mary and I were enjoying the evening before I started dinner. We watched Lizzie and Hayden go digging around and they found earthworms. Now I don't have anything against them personally, but I was getting ready to cook dinner so touching one of them, was not on the agenda. Mary just held out her hand and looked at it and they talked about it and then - she went and helped them dig around for more worms. That is love!

So we spent a quiet day today at Mary and Ted's house. We enjoyed just lounging and goofing off with them. Beka discovered the joys and wonders of lounging on Grandma's couch, snuggled up in a blanket, watching Direct TV! She had a blast and then of course, she returned to the backyard and proceeded to play herself into an state of exhaustion. Let's just say nap time came easily for her today.

I took Lizzie for a drive in the mountains so she could go out and see the sights. She had a good time listening to the Christmas musical cd (it's for the kid's Christmas musical this year) and driving up and down and all around with Mommy. I think she had a good time, then I needed to come home and take a nap. It's hard work being the Mom, Worm Supervisor, and Chauffer - and these are the only jobs I can think of right now, I'm sure I have more job descriptions besides that.

Well I need to get going. We are going to start a fire and cook S'Mores for the kids.

In Christ,
Maureen

Idaho!!!

I woke up on Monday and decided that we needed to just go for it and head to Nampa, Idaho. This isn't a decision I just came too suddenly, okay, at least not completely that way. I woke up at 4 a.m. and of course, my brain would not shut down. And as it was going a million miles a minute I began to realize that I would always find reason to not visit or to put it off and let my husband talk me into waiting for him to come home before we would go. So I decided we just needed to go. I called Lizzie into school for the week and some of the following week and started getting us ready to go.

Sarah pitched in and did the laundry while I took care of car maintainence and got snack food. The long and the short of it, by the time we finished getting ready and had everyone loaded up and heading out, Sarah became sick. Now Sarah dearly, dearly loves Grandma Mary and so the fact that she felt badly enough to ask if we could go home instead of heading out, speaks volumes. They are like peas and carrots and love each other very much. At one point it was to the point where Chris and I had to put some distance between them while Sarah adjusted to being a part of our family because it was like dealing with a junkie coming off a high when Sarah would come to us from Mary's. But the reason's behind this are another story for another blog entirely. So we went home and had pizza and watched movies and took baths and I took the two littlest girls with me to see Grandma Myers and Papa Bud and then to bed.

Tuesday morning we woke up fairly early and loaded up the car . . . again. We hit the road and made good time. I forgot to account for something though. Did you know that Wyoming is a very busy place on Monday-Wednesday and that finding a hotel is almost near impossible w/o a computer? Well neither did I. So after spending most of Tuesday in Nebraska and dealing with rain, stupid slow speed limits and road construction, I was ready to stop in Sydney, Wyoming. The only hotel room we had a hotel that had seen better days. So Mary got online and found us a very nice hotel just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming instead. Let me tell you a hotel has never looked so good. Spending 13 hours on the road driving when you are the lone driver is taxing to say the least. I ordered pizza and we watched Disney and went to bed. Sarah got some school work done and we headed out the next day.

Now if you've never been to Wyoming, there are a few things you should know. First, do not, I repeat do not be the only driver. Second, take your time and enjoy the beauty and sights of it. It is amazing and the kids loved the scenery and we even stopped a few times to look at stuff. Finally, stick to I-80 if that's the route you are taking because the back roads are no place to go alone with 3 children. We made it through, but I think we'll follow the Magellan next time and go through Utah.

Oh yes, did you know that there are large communities of Muslims in Utah? Oh and apparently they don't believe in electricity? LOL, this is of course, according to Sarah. When she told me this, I had to laugh. I corrected her after I finished laughing. Now I might not have laughed so hard, except she told me that Muslims and Mormons were the same thing. Then she added they lived w/o electricity?! So I had to laugh, she still says so many cute and amusing things.

We made it into Nampa around 9 p.m. Wednesday night. Mary lead us in the whole way once we passed Mountain Home. So now we are here and enjoying some time to visit. I am in reality contemplating visiting for a few extra days and then we'll take 3 days to come home. I also plan to have the hotels planned out and reserved for us ahead of time.

I hope you all have a good week. And sadly, I forgot my camera, so there will be no photos to share. So sorry :(.

In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mid life crisis

So lately, I've been having a mini mid-life crisis. Sarah is approaching 15 years of age and constantly thinking about what she wants to become as an adult. This of course, got me thinking too about my dreams and my goals when I was 15 years old. As a result of this, I began to wonder what I have done with my life and had I squandered it. This doesn't mean I was unhappy being Chris' wife, or the girl's mother, but I was definitely thinking about life and my life and how it measured up. Then it happened, I had an epiphany.

Last weekend, as Lizzie, Sarah, and Beka and I were traveling to Oklahoma to meet Meg and Sandy so the older girls could have a weekend with them; Lizzie asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. This really made me think about what had I aspired to at 15 and why I wasn't following that dream.

At 15 years old I dreamed of being a Christian music singer or even just a singer, anything that meant I got to sing. I also realized that at the time it defined who I was as a person. Around my senior year of high school, I began to realize that I was more than a nice girl with a beautiful voice. This made me pause, I suddenly began remembering why I hadn't followed this dream. First, I wanted to be defined as more than just a voice. Second, I felt God calling me in a different direction - towards helping others and at the time I thought possibly social work. All of these choices led me down a completely different path than the one I had initially planned for myself. One that has been filled with joys and of course, sorrows, but one I liked nonetheless.

It's amazing how in that moment, I no longer felt as if I should have made a different choice or that I hadn't done much. By some people's definitions I may not do much, but I am a good wife and good mom to my kids. Okay, so my house isn't immaculate, but my children are healthy and happy and I think fairly well-rounded. This will of course, be left completely up in the air until they grow up and leave home, but for the most part, they are healthy. I also realized that I am on the path I am on, because I made this choice and it wasn't made for me.

In addition, I understand that I am a homebody. I would much rather stay home with my girls and watch a movie or read a book than to be constantly on the go. It's who I am, and that's a good thing to know. So no thank you, I would not wish I had been an early version of Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears. Their lives are chaotic and filled with fake people who use and abuse them constantly, that is something I will gladly live without. So while my life goals are not huge, they are mine. And if all I accomplish from life is that our girls grow up to be women of faith (okay, I'm still working on being a better example on that one, I admit it freely) and happy and self-aware, then I think I will have done my job well. If my husband grows old with me and we are happy together, then I will have done my job and hopefully, I'll have done it very well.

I hope you all are living your dreams and that you are happy with the lives you are living. Because if you can be happy with your life, it kind of all falls into place doesn't it. Especially, when it means we are living our lives for Christ.

Have a good day.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Children AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!


Today has been one of those days. You all know the days I'm talking about. The day that isn't great but isn't completely horrid either. These are the days though, where I think that children really should go home from the hospital with you with instruction manuals.
Come on, admit it, you've thought the same thing too. "Why didn't this doggoned kid come with a manual?" You know the manual I'm talking about. The one that says things, like "don't give your child a fork when away from the table because they will of course find the nearest outlet and stick said fork in it." Or "the day you want to sleep in is the same day that your two year old will decide that she knows better and you must wake up well before you wish to." Little gems of wisdom that we as parents really should share with new parents, or those we know who are contemplating having children, for the express purpose of either informing them what on earth they've gotten themselves into (Because hey it's already too late if they are already expecting, right?) or to frighten them away from the idea all together.
I love my children, I truly do, but there are days where I wonder how they are going to make it to graduating from high school because they kids do some asinine things. They do things like run behind your car when you are preparing to back up and scare you half to death. They talk to strangers, some of whom are very nice people, but others who are not so very nice. They play hide and seek in the mall and think it's funny to hear you going slowly insane because you can't find them and are worried that someone has taken them out of the mall and out of your life forever. They also do things like decide they need to try to shock you so that your already greying hair will go white that much faster. I am convinced that Mark Twain was a bright man with his idea about putting kids in a barrel at 12 yrs of age and giving them a hole for air and then plug it when they turn 18 yrs old. This was obviously spoken by a man who had raised teenagers.
So here is my list of why's for the day. Why is it that as soon as you leave the store or parking lot, your child announces they must use the bathroom? Why, once you've found the perfect shampoo that does great things for your hair and by the way costs way more than most shampoos, do your children decide to unscrew the cap and let it wash the bathroom floor or bathtub basin instead of your hair? Why is it that children always need a drink of water, a story, and have to go to the bathroom when they didn't need to do these things five minutes before bedtime? Or better still, why is it when you finally think your child has made progress, you find yet another hurdle to overcome?! And last but so not least, why is it when you think kids aren't listening they are, but when you want them to listen they don't? These are just a few questions that often cross my mind.
I know you all have your own list of why's and I hope you find the answers to yours, because I still haven't figured out the answers to mine. Good luck and God speed.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nicknames

Today I was walking through the store and I'm began thinking about nicknames. We all have nicknames. Some nicknames are nice. For example: We call our children, Beaner, Monkey, and Boo/Bekaboo as the mood fits. Often these days I affectionately call them Peanut. Some nicknames however, are less than nice. For example: when someone who is driving in a rather infuriating manner, we call them an assortment of names (moron, bozo, or genius) Genius I reserve for those who have especially irked me and it often is accompanied with dripping toxic sarcasm (I know, you are stunned aren't you. After all, I am never sarcastic).

As I thought about this, I wondered what damage we may or may not have done to others with our use of nicknames. You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones we whisper between friends about those who we think/hope cannot hear what we are saying. We are all guilty of it, at least we are if we are truly honest with ourselves. The nicknames we develop as private jokes about a person. Most often these are nicknames we choose because we hold malice towards this person.

So here is my question for the day: What are your nicknames? Would you share them with the person they are intended towards? If not, then should we really use them. After all, even those people who drive us nuts have feelings too and I think more often than we'd like to realize our nicknames inflict harm on others. Whether intentional or not.

The purpose of these questions is not to accuse, for I, myself am guilty of using nicknames in a derogatory manner. It is mearly meant to invoke thought and reflection. For as I said, I realize that I too have been guilty of using nicknames as a way to inflict harm emotionally on others.

I hope you have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

I Love You More

The I Love You More Game
This is Rebekah. Beka is two and quite a stinker. She is also as cute as can be and she knows it. She gets caught doing something, and that cheeky grin of hers comes out in full force and at times, it's all I can do to stop from laughing.
Beka has two older sisters who have taught her many great things, like put your shoes on when Mommy asks you, how to climb into her chair. That her butt does indeed bounce down the stairs if dropped. Although I don't think she appreciated the jolt it gave her or the chiropractic visits required to decompress her two yr old spine that accompanied it. They have taught her how to be cheeky and cute to get out of trouble. They've taught her that peas do not in fact belong in your nose, because it requires things that even mommies don't like to do to get it out.
But my favorite thing they have taught her hands down - and I say this with no sarcasm at all (honest) is the let me scream, "I LOVE YOU" at the top of my lungs to argue who loves who more. While you may think I am being caustic as I write this, I am in fact delighted with this game. The I Love You More game is a classic in our house.
Chris and I started the "I Love You More" game when we first got married and it's carried on to our children. Sarah always likes to think she has won, when if the truth be told, we just let her think she has won, to get her to stop talking. Lizzie doesn't quite get the full scope of the game yet, so her version consists of insisting over and over again that she loves us more. And she occassionally joins in with Beka at screaming "I LOVE YOU" as loud as she can. Sadly, this phenomenon always seems to happen when she is in the car and makes me almost deaf. I think she and Beka have a bet going to see which of them can make me lose my hearing first. Beka at this point would win hands down - the girl could break glass with her shrieks. I joke that she is practicing to be a first soprano for the NY Met someday. It amazes me how many people don't know what I'm talking about when I say that.
This game is possibly one of the things that has kept our marriage fresh. When we first got married I would tell Chris I loved him more because I was carrying his daughter. He finally retorted back that he loved me more because he danced a jig when I told him I was pregnant.
He won that round. There are other times he wins too, but that's the one that sticks with me the most. Do you have a game you play in your family? If not, find one or make one up and have fun with it. It will be a family joke or tradition and can often give you a lot of memories to enjoy and cherish - even when your kids or spouse are being stinkers.
In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Missing my grandma




Missing Grandma





For some odd reason I have been missing my Grandma Taylor a lot lately. I say odd because, she's been gone almost 14 yrs now and we weren't especially close.





I think her death was much harder on my cousins Evan and Laura than on the rest of us. They were much closer to her than we were, but they weren't Americanized either, they'd spent years in India at a British boarding school while their parents worked at missionaries. So when they returned to America for college, they both had a pretty good relationship with her.





This doesn't mean that my cousins, and brother and sister didn't love her, we did very much. I also know that in our own way we miss her. However, as we grew up we went through a typical adolescent phase where her telling us what to do often irritated us and caused us to butt heads with her. I think I butted heads with her more than anyone. I am the combination of a laid back person with an amazing stubborn streak and I'll stick to my guns when told what I should be doing. This is especially true when it feels like I am being bossed around. I am the oldest, but I also spent the majority of my life having grown ups discount me because I was a child and so it tends to raise my hackles up a bit when I get bossed around or people attempt to manipulate me. Grandma didn't manipulate, she just bossed and nagged.





I used to joke that Grandma Taylor nagged those she loved and I was "loved" a lot. I say it in a joking manner, but as I raise my girls I realize that while Grandma wasn't big on hugs and kisses, she told us how much she loved us with her shows of "concern". So while she meant well, it often meant that we fought because we were different generations. Each generation had a different point of view and we couldn't quite help each other see where the we were coming from. It made for some very heated arguments. Two women who were not exceptionally tall standing facing each other nose to nose and yelling as loudly as they could. Sadly, nothing was solved this way, except to make the chasm between us ever greater.

I think I miss Grandma Taylor the most when it turns cold because that is when I start drinking hot tea. When you spend a few years living with your Grandma, you kind of have things that remind you of her. Like hot tea, soft boiled eggs in egg cups and my one keepsake from her, my memory quilt. I could have asked for a lot more, but the quilt and her mother's ring are the things that meant the most to me. Unfortunately, I no longer have the ring, due to some poor choices from others, but I still have the quilt and when I look at it, it reminds me of all the sewing and things she did. These are the small things that let me know that we meant a lot to Grandma Taylor. There are swatches of material from the awful jams she made for Matthew, dresses she made Meg and I, and some from Mom's clothing too and her own few things. I look at this quilt and remember that while Grandma wasn't big on hugs, she showed us in little ways that meant a lot to her. And that makes me miss her all the more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall is here!!!!

FALL!

Fall is here and I love Kansas in the Fall. I love how the leaves on the trees change colors and the air cools down. I love how it smells even, the air crisp and cool and it's the perfect time of year for jackets and walks. I must confess that Fall is one of my favorite seasons. My all time favorite season though is Winter.

Now I know most of you will read this and think I have lost my marbles, but I haven't. I dearly love when the weather gets cold and you can justify making a nice pot of tea and sip on it throughout the day, thanks to the wonders of automatic coffee makers. I think the thing I like about tea the most is that it reminds me of my Grandma Taylor. We didn't always get along or agree on things but she loved a good cup of English tea, so I am sure she would love a cup of Twinings English Breakfast tea and we could talk about the great grand kids if she were here. She was a very amazing woman, she made me nuts, but that doesn't diminish that she was a great woman in the least, but I'll write more about her in later blogs.

I love Winter because it means I can stay in with the girls and bake. I love to bake, and I love to eat what I bake, but these days it's not a good idea. I prefer to not pass out and scare the girls to death in the process. I already did that once to Chris, but I am getting off track. I love the cold nights under warm blankets and nice think sweaters and sweatshirts . These are the things I love most about Winter, warm sweaters, knitting, baking, reading a good book with a great cup of tea, snuggling with the girls, making arts and crafts to decorate the house for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I dearly love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love Christmas caroling, that people tend to try to be more generous during the season of Christmas, Christmas cantatas, hot cocoa, hot cider, trees and decorating said trees (although we do artificial ones for allergy reasons), snow and snowmen, snowball fights and the looks on the girls faces when they get out of school for two weeks break. I really do love it, I love going out and finding the perfect gift and sitting with family together to laugh and enjoy each other's company, there are so many more reasons I love it, but I will spare you the rest of my diatribe.

So as we head into what promises to be a chilly Fall and possibly an even chillier Winter, I wish you all a Happy Fall. I hope you all have a good week.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An injustice!

I have two friends on Facebook - okay make it three who are single. Now if they are happy then great, but they all three put that they are looking for relationships on their info page. All three are amazing individulas with great personalities and yet they are still single. It makes me wonder, how is this possible?

Have we as a society really gotten so bogged down in physical appearance that those who are amazing individuals on the inside and outside can be overlooked whiles actors who are pleasing to the eye but morally bankrupt, them we put so much stock in?! How is possibly right? How can people who are great individuals with good hearts still remain unmarried when they have so many amazing qualities about them?

I remember being in class during college and some girls were laughing about one of these individuals. And you know what, this man is an amazing man. He takes what God said about taking care of the fatherless children to heart. He loves kids, God, and only wants to serve God and help others. Yet, because he acted goofy and is not what today's society deems physically attractive these girls were mocking him and making fun of him. I remember being so angry and turning to them and telling them off, because while I wasn't attracted to him and didn't see him that way (he is a good friend, but no sparks were present then or now) I found it outrageous that they thought they could tear this man down and disparage him in this way. Sadly, this man who they mock is still single. I'm also equally sure that he is still an amazing man of God who wants nothing more than to serve him. So Scotty Bauer - I will pray that God sends you a woman worthy of your admiration because you are a good man and deserve a woman who loves God as much as you do.

My other two acquaintances, I will pray the same prayer for you, but I'll allow you to remain nameless.

These are not really questions I expect people to answer. They are more rhetorical than something I want people to respond to for the time being.

Maureen

Wow



Wow what a difference! I would like to tell you that I don't remember that time, but I do. It's not hard to forget being so heavy that spraining your ankle means you are screwed because you are too big for your husband to carry you. I look at that, and it makes me so determined to fight so I don't go back there again. That was not a good place for me - health wise or emotionally - when you are that big you always wonder if your spouse is a liar when he says you are sexy.
Okay honestly, I still don't know that I am sexy, but I am more likely to believe him when he says it now.
I have been thinking about it all and how I ended up there and there are so many paths that led me to that place. I could rehash them, but I'd prefer to move forward and actually make progress. So now I go walking almost everyday. I am also about to add weight training to my routine so I can be nice and buff and next week plan to talk to the doctor on base about the waiting list so that I can have my extra skin removed.
I hope you all are having a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another week begins

I know I've probably put this picture on here before, but it's just so cute.

This Thursday I am heading to Kansas City with Sheri. Her oldest son, Brayden is meeting with the special education teacher for Lawrence Virtual School for testing so he can stay. I am very proud of Sheri - she is sticking to her guns this time and it's beginning to pay off. I am also very proud of Brayden. He is working very hard, despite one of his younger brothers giving him grief.

I would love to tell you that I have some lovely ancedote for this post, but I don't. It's been very boring around here. I get in laps at the mall or zoo and then spend the day playing with Beka and getting her good and tired for nap time and then bed time.

Lizzie is doing well. She is finally settling in to a school routine, this is great because she was struggling. Oh and Mrs. Silveous asked to use us for a class project. She is working on completing her Master's degree in Special Education - she is a great teacher and we are so lucky to have her as Lizzie's teacher. She is a very lovely wonderful woman who is older, and extremely understanding and always willing to fight for Elizabeth. Just keep Lizzie in your prayers, because she is getting to the age where children become cruel and so she's learning how to face adversity and the cruelty of others - we are all working with her on it. Her speech therapist, Mrs. Silveous, Mrs. Parker and myself. We are teaching her to brush it off and not let them see her get upset. Keep your fingers crossed that it works.

So lately it's been a struggle. I am tired. I am tired of cleaning up messes that never seem to stay clean (emotionally and at home physically). I am tired of feeling like I work hard and it's in vain. I am tired of fighting this fight for Lizzie - even though she's learning to fight it herself, I still am in there fighting for her. But mainly, I am tired period. I hit 35 this year and it occurred to me that I thought I'd be a recording artist at this point in my life and I'd be doing other things. Of course, at 15 I didn't want to have children either - that didn't change until 10 yrs later. I didn't see myself married and a mom. This isn't to say that I am sorry I am married or a mom, it's just learning to let go of the dreams I had for myself and create new ones. One of them is raise the girls to be women of faith and who love God and serve Him. And yet it often feels like I am failing so miserably. Don't listen to me, I'm kind of in a funk and need a good bout of miles walked at the mall or Sedgwick County Park. I hope you all have good week.

In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, September 11, 2009

Family Fun

Family Fun at the Zoo





There is no real rhyme or reason to these photos, it just kind of came together the way the blog program put them together. Here are Sheri and Davy Joy Trotter. We all met up at the Sedgwick County Zoo on Labor Day. We tried to meet up w/Mike and Lisa Aragon too, but by the time they made it, it was getting very crowded and I needed to take Beka home for a nap.


Here are Jonas Trotter, Elizabeth, and Saidra Trotter all sitting on the lion statue over near their exhibit. It's very neat actually. The lions had cubs last year.

Here is Lizzie over by the Zebra exhibit. She loves going to see the animals. Can you believe she is eight years old already?


Lizzie and Beka goofing around - I think this is over by the Orangutan and Chimp exhibit.



Elizabeth, Grammy, and Beka enjoying some snuggle and quality reading time together. Lizzie has really gotten into reading - she makes sure we read every night - even if it is very late. LOL.




Elizabeth and Beka together on the Orangutan statue - they really enjoy the monkeys and the gorillas a lot. Especially, Beka since it means I let her loose and allow her to walk like a big girl. My rule, if you don't stay with Mommy, then you go back in the stroller. It took a few times of me putting her in for running too far ahead of me but she learned I meant business. There is hope for this girl.

Beka at the statue - enough said.
We had a good Labor Day weekend. Sarah went with her friend Cheyenne to Kansas City for the entire weekend. Unbeknownst to her, she did not have school on Labor Day as she originally thought, so she was disappointed to discover that she didn't have to be home as soon as originally thought. She had a good time though and was ready to work again for the school.
So far, Sarah seems to like online school. I am searching for homeschool support groups though, so she will have some more social interaction. I am also looking into martial arts lessons for her, depending on how expensive they are, I agree with her therapist that we should put her in these to help her learn discipline and self defense. She is balking as usual, but this one isn't a choice.
Elizabeth is finally getting settled into school. We no longer have a morning battle royale over going to school We are all working with her about learning to not take it so personally when other kids don't want to be her friend of play with her. Sadly, she is learning a tough lesson and I will admit, there is a part of me that wants to punch the little turkey's but the other part of me, knows this is just one of life's lessons for her to learn. So I am working with her on responding with "so" if another child says something that isn't nice to her or "okay" if they say they don't want to play with her or be her friend. She has run into some real stinkpots this year - even her teacher, Mrs. Parker has told me that the kids are getting mean. It's not an always thing, but I long for the days when she was little and all the kids wanted to hang out and play no matter what differences there were, it was a person that they could have a good time and they all looked out for each other.
Rebekah, is a cheeky little bugger. She may just potty train herself before Chris gets home. She tells me she needs to go to the bathroom all the time now and today she showed signs that she knows when she needs to poop. While I should be excited by this, I am also a little aggravated - if she potty trains before Chris gets home, he will have successfully skipped out on potty training any of his kids! It's a little irksome to say the least. In his defense though it isn't like he woke up one day and said, "hey I'm gong to get myself deployed so I don't have to potty train Elizabeth/Beka (insert child's name at random)." So I can't be too upset, but it would be nice if he got to help with at least one and see the aggravation that comes with it, so he'll keep his smart aleck remarks to himself this time.
Well, we are done with the week and I am finishing up laundry and enjoying our new dining room table. We found one at DT's Outlet. They are the same people who sold us our refrigerator and our washer and dryers. We tend to go through more dryers than washers - I wonder why? Questions to ponder.
I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pets!

I have come to a realization. An epiphany if you will . . . we should not have pets in our house.

I have come to this conclusion after three dogs, a cat, and a fish have left our house some form or another. The dogs and the cat thankfully all left alive. The poor sad fish not so much - it was flushed into a watery grave. So if it was playing opossum it did a good job, because we flushed it.

Our first dog, Cinnamon, we rescued from a house filled with too many animals to even think straight. She was a cute, small, reddish brown dachsmund. We went to the home expecting to pick up another dog, but Cinnamon persisted in gaining our attention, so we took her instead. In hindsight, this should have been a clue as to how stubborn this one little adorable dog could become. She was cute, I was pregnant, newly married and lonely - and she was Chris' idea to help me with my loneliness. It worked until we had Elizabeth, who Cinnamon became jealous of and hence, she proceeded to let us know she was unhappy about our new arrival by pooping and pottying in Elizabeth and Sarah's room every chance she got. Of course, she had to go - especially after me catching her and she looked me defiantly in the eye as she did it. How I managed to control my anger enough to not punt her down the stairs is amazing to me still to this day.

Then came Hank, a HUMONGOUS Labrador Retreiver dog. He was a horse, not a dog and after one month he began to bully Elizabeth and actually nipped her on the face. Bye, bye Hank, we loved you well for one month.

Then we were adopted by a cat who we named Jo - as in Dorothy Josephine - she was a neighborhood cat. We actually would still have her, IF Rebekah, Elizabeth and myself had not had allergies to cats. She lasted two years - and Sarah was very sad to see her go and so were we in reality - she was a good cat. Darned allergies.

Now, I come to our fish. Poor little guy. I drove to PetSmart because Lizzie really, really wanted a fish. I asked about the most resilient fish they had that could withstand a little girl who had autism and was only 5 yrs old at the time. As I left the store with this fish, I suddenly realized that I had condemned this poor defenseless creature to a fate worse than death. . . Elizabeth. I decided then and there that I would not replace him if he died (at least I assume it was a he). The poor guy - didn't even last 24 hours - he only made it all of 20 hours. Now in Elizabeth's defense, she had help killing her fish. Chris insisted that he just put the fish in brand new water w/o allowing it to acclimate, so I know that the guppy was already under a lot of stress. So imagine it's terror and immediate demise when Elizabeth stuck her wand into the tank and swirled it around and around. LOL! That poor fish - death was a mercy indeed.

Last but surely not least, we come to Sofie. Sofie we rescued from our neighbors around the corner. I didn't realize I was rescuing her when I got her - I thought they needed to find her a home, I wanted a dog, how hard could it be - famous last words. I wanted a dog to keep me company whilst Chris was deployed and to aid my goal of lowering my blood pressure. I had read an article that said animals were beneficial to people who struggled with high blood pressure. This dog, did not lower it. . .if anything, she raised it.
We got her on a Friday and on a Tuesday she was hit by a car. So welcome to the family, poor Sofie. After she finished convalescing she went to the groomers. She had fleas! And they had to shave her down very close to the skin because no matter how much I worked on it, she had mange - thanks to previous owners. Then after 7 months I realized she was acting very sluggish and prepared to get her fixed and it turned out she had heartworms and had had them for quite some time. And a week later, I discovered that she also had hookworms. What started out as a free dog ended up costing us over $1200 to get her well again. This figure is not including the vet bill after she was hit by the car by the way. That is what we spent to get her well from fleas, heartworms, grooming to fix her mange, and to cure her of hookworms. After all of this, the darned animal looked me square in the eye and proceeded to poop in front of my door. I spent almost a year attempting to break her of pooping and going potty in the house and in the end I decided she had to go. I found her a new home across the street from us, so that she could be near us and close to the neighbors because I promised I'd let them know. I would have if the mom wasn't being such a witch too.

So while I love animals and think they are adorable, I have come to realize - I AM NOT EVER GOING TO BE A PET PERSON! I don't say this lightly either, this is after three dogs, a cat, and a poor doomed fish. They should have our pictures up in pet stores saying, DON'T LET THESE PEOPLE HAVE PETS. THEY ARE A DANGER TO ANIMALS EVERYWHERE. But they don't and Chris and I have talked about it, and we realize that pets just don't belong in our home.

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Missing Daddy

Okay this is an old photos, but I thought it was appropriate.

This has been a rough week. Lizzie is struggling to do well in school. She is averaging either red or yellow each day. I think I need to have a chat w/her teacher. I more than likely won't, but it sounds good. She has a new teacher, and now she is upstairs with the older kids, and Mrs. Silveous is in Mrs. Hall's room now - Mrs. Hall was last years teacher and she is seriously missing Daddy. She started crying on Wednesday when I picked her up from school and told me she really missed Daddy. I think with all these changes and Chris being gone it's getting to her. Plus, the kids are getting bigger and let's call an ace an ace here - as kids get older they get mean. It's true and it's bugging her. So today I took her to the zoo and we spent the morning with Aunt Sheri, Kiernan, Saidra, and Canaan and of course, Bekaboo. They had a good time, but there were A LOT of people there, so they didn't have as much freedom as usual.

So keep Lizzie in your prayers, and me - I am pretty sure that I am going to end up in Powerhouse Kidz tomorrow (it's Saturday while I write this).

Well I need to get going. Everyone have a good week.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An eventful week

Okay this is actually from a few weeks ago when Beka hit her head and took a trip to Immediate Care. I went and got a massage in hopes of alleviating some of the knots in my shoulders and back and came home to find her and Sarah covered in blood at Tran's house. Not conducive to alleviating stress if I do say so. However, the massage did help me not tense up immediately when I got home, so I have to say it's possibly the best $60 I spent in a while.

Lizzie started school on Monday. I don't know what transpired during the day, but she was excited to go to school and came home not wanting to go back EVER - as she said. I would have found this amusing, except I was concerned about what would happen with her teacher this year. I am sure she's a good teacher, but I wasn't able to meet with her previously like I usually do since I am kind of everything for everyone right now. So I sent a note to her this evening in Lizzie's take home folder and hopefully we can meet sometime this week. I don't think she really did anything wrong, I do think that Elizabeth is a little oversensitive right now. I just need this fixed. Elizabeth really needs to enjoy school and want to go as much as possible - there is a reason that Mrs. Silveous and I pick her teachers each year. Normally, I would let the cards fall where they may, but this isn't possible for her, since she has special needs and this requires a certain type of finess to work with her. I also know Mrs. Silveous wouldn't have recommended her teacher, Mrs. Parker if she wasn't a good teacher for Lizzie. Hopefully, we can fix this before it gets out of hand. I really need this fixed before she ends up hating school.

Sarah is now officially enrolled in IQ Academy in Lawrence, KS. It's an online high school and their curriculum looks wonderful and amazing, so I have great hopes that she will be ready for college in four years like I would love for her to be. The best part is I am not her teacher, she has teachers and they can assign her homework and give her grades, so I am not the mean, stepmom AND her teacher at the same time. Thank you Sheri for telling me about it.

This brings me to another topic. Lately, Sarah has gone through a new stage of making sure that people know I am not her "real mom" but her "stepmom". You know it's not what she says, it's how she says it. Like I have some disease because I didn't give her life. And all of this makes me wonder why I even bother to try. It's not like she even realizes the crap I go through for her or what I do for her. I love her so much, and it is a constant kick you in the teeth experience on a fairly regular basis. AAAAHHH! It makes me wonder if I am sane for doing everything I do and if I wouldn't have been better off following another path. I don't mean that I would choose to not meet Chris and marry him, but maybe a different path. like better birth control or something and then Lizzie and Beka give me those stupid cheeky grins of theirs and I am reminded that I wouldn't trade them for anything in the whole wide world. Those smiles, and Sarah's smile are why I am a mom. Is it heartbreaking and gut wrenching - oh yeah. But it is also the greatest adventure I could ever take.

Okay I'll stop being all mushy and gross now. I hope you all have a good week.
Love In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I KNOW I KNOW, I am sooooo late in doing this

This is Sheri. Sheri is EVIL! Sheri wants to take me rollerblading, wrapped in bubblewrap and videotape the carnage that ensues. Just kidding - yes she jokes, but it's all in jest. At least, I am pretty sure it's only in jest. Hmmmm. . .

Okay so Sheri and I are currently training to do the Walk for Diabetes in October. We were going to do the Walk for Autism as well, but they both happen to fall on October 5th this year. So we chose to not travel to Kansas City this time, maybe next year.

The point of me telling you all this, is well exactly this, we started walking at Sedgwick County Park and it's gorgeous. We've been taking different trails and learning seeing a lot of neat things. We want to check out the Arboretum, but we haven't had our hats with us lately, and I don't know about any of you, but I don't find the idea of ticks enjoyable at all, no matter how beautiful and splendid we find the Arboretum. So today we took a different path and while walking along there, I discovered how amazing it was there. It makes me itch for Fall to start already. I love Fall, it's one of my favorite seasons. I like three out of four seasons so that can't be all bad, but Fall is my favorite. I love the changing of the leaves and I love all the amazing colors that come with those changes. I love how even though it signifies the beginning of what is essentially death for the plants for a the winter months that with the end of the cycle is amazing beauty. Hmmm . . . I think I see an analogy coming on, because while society would tell us that as we age we become old and not needed or no longer beautiful, God's plan is that we improve with age and our wisdom. We gain insights and see the world and it's beauty (okay some of us see it's beauty) and hopefully, we will pass this on to our younger generations instead of hoarding it all to ourselves. So that is my deep thought for the day.

We are doing much better here. We are gearing up for school to begin next week and are working to find our routine. I will go to North High tomorrow and inform them that I am placing Sarah in a combination of homeschooling curriculum from Bob Jones University and she will also be doing IQ Academy online. I think surely betwixt the two she should receive a rounded education, right? I also have the books so she may use them as resources to use for papers as well as a way to have a rounded perspective.

Lizzie is doing well, her vision is the same, and we will keep patching. I need to get her in for her yearly well check etc . . . and she has one cavity according to the dentist, so we go back to get her cavity taken care of in September.

Beka is good, although I will be writing another blog shortly about last week that will amuse and entertain you all although it made me want to swear at the time.

We love you all.
Maureen