Hello again!

I have let this blog flounder for far too long and today is my first day back at it.  We have had a wacky, crazy year. I’m not even sure that I should try to summarize it, but find myself wanting to. Let’s start where I left off… oh my. Okay. That’s a rough place to start.

December 5th, 2018 my mom left the nursing home to go home for my dad’s birthday. She lasted at home until December 7th, when she had to be rushed to the emergency room. I went down on the 9th because it was clear that she was on her way out of this world. She passed away on December 12th. I spent the month in College Station or Wisconsin. We had two funerals for her, one in each of her hometowns. They were lovely, both of them attended by family and friends and filled with beautiful reminiscences of her full, mostly happy life. (Please note that this is short, not because I am being in any way flippant about it, but because I’m crying too much to say more.)

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In January we tried to be humans. We had our annual board game extravaganza on January 1st at my dad’s Tyler house so he wouldn’t have to be alone yet and could be a little distracted from all the sadness. April is with him all the time, but we come and go and try to bring a little joy to them with our visits.

February and March went by kind of in a blur. We visited College Station every couple or three weeks and spent half of spring break with my dad and sister. David and Nick were each gone a week in April and then it was birthdays and Easter all at once. We celebrated in the Tyler house, trying to avoid sadness, but failing. Easter was one of my mom’s favorite times of the year.

In May everything ramped up. The six month anniversary of my mom’s death was literally Mother’s Day. How’s that for irony for you? April and Dad ignored the day completely, while Nick, the kids, and I went to Scarborough Faire for the day (something I’ve been wanting to take the kids to for years. They were, naturally, underwhelmed because we’d waited too long).  All the end-of-year “lasts” were heightened because it was David’s last high school everything. We had a graduation party for him the day before graduation, we all attended graduation night outside at the stadium, and then the very next day he left for his band’s spring trip. And because we’re crazy, we had a family BBQ the following Monday with Nick’s family.

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June was even crazier, though. Nick and David left the first weekend, Nick for work in the Czech Republic and David for Tennessee for working a pre-teen camp. Then I left for China the same day Nick came back from his trip (and no, we didn’t even get to see each other at the airport). Greg spent weekdays at his Nana & Pa’s house while the other two boys came and went. David had college orientation for a few days in there. Nick and all the kids went to the Houston Aquarium for Father’s Day while I spent Father’s Day with my dad in Tianjin. Then kids all spent the last few days I was gone working the pre-teen camp at Camp Piney Woods while Nick was in Tennessee for work. We all were supposed to get home Wednesday, June 26th, but my flight got delayed by several hours and I ended up getting home at 4 in the morning on the 27th. Then on the 29th, Greg and David got in a van with other church kids and left for Teen Camp at Camp Pinecrest in Missouri. (I will most likely blog about my China trip in some upcoming posts.)

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Today is first day I’ve felt human and somewhat put together in a really long time. I’m getting back onto somewhat of a schedule. I’ll be spending weekday mornings at the gym and afternoons writing. Ree has this whole month free, so we’ll be starting parent-led driving lessons for him this week as well, probably in the mornings after I’m back from the gym. 🙂 Greg will be in day camps most of this month and who knows what David will be up to? I sure don’t! He was looking for a job last time I checked, but no one would hire him because he was out of town so much this summer (he has one more camp he’s working at the end of the month).

So there you have it. We are crazy and we know it. 🙂 See you tomorrow.

 

Oh so tired…

…but trying to catch up. In case you were wondering, I’ve gone back and finished up a few posts and hit “Publish” today, so in case you’re reading from a feed-reader you might want to visit the site and see what’s gone up lately (I’ve noticed that sometimes Google Reader doesn’t update when I hit “publish” on back-dated posts. Or sometimes it just pops up all 8 billion all at once. YMMV.). I’ve been saving posts on the theory that someday I might upload the photos and add the photos to them. Hahahah. Today was that day. But let’s not let me get ahead of myself.

Last Friday we got up and did…something, who knows what, until it was time to go to playgroup. This week they texted me that they wanted to do the library, which was fine by me, as we’d had to skip on Wednesday. The library’s Circus Day was different than we’d expected, more like an indoor winter carnival than a circus. It was fun for the kids, though. There was hand stamping and face painting (strangely none of our children wanting either thing done). Punching dolls and snowmen were set up to throw hula hoops around.

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There was a Bobbing for Bears booth and Snacks & Storytime as well.

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Greg’s favorite part was the Puppet Theatre: “And they lived happily ever after. The End.”
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But really, it was all a little too loud in there because there were so many school groups and day cares in there. The kids asked to go to “the real library” so we headed over to the side with books and let them play in the regular story room and to look at books:
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After the library we came home and I was exhausted. It was lunchtime. Nick looked at me and suggested a nap. So I reminded him of the kids rescheduled piano lessons, put my ear plugs in, and went to bed. I slept until 4:30 when the piano teacher rang and asked if we were still planning on coming. Apparently no one else remembered piano lessons. So I got up, drove the kids over, and stared out the window until it was time to go home. I got to officially meet her daughter and chat about pinterest for a few minutes, which was nice, but I was so out-of-it. Took the kids back home and tried to get things done, but really was not awake enough for anything.

Saturday we got up and blissfully had nowhere we needed to be. I rested all morning, as I was still exhausted, but things did not improve for me. Everyone else went to church and I stayed home and slept. By the time everyone got home I was doing well enough to load & unload the dishwasher, but not much else.

Sunday we got up and had a busy day full of cleaning and repairing. Nick and David worked on repairing the light fixture in the kids room:
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Then I found Nick the dishwasher guide and he tried to fix the dishwasher. He got as far as I did the day I tried and also couldn’t get the part off that I couldn’t get off. So we read the guide and decided to try the suggestion to run hot water in the sink before we run the dishwasher. It’s seemed to help somewhat.

We washed and cleaned and swept and cleaned some more until dinnertime. It wasn’t a really exciting day, actually. Just productive.

Monday was yet another A. day. He was cranky. Greg was cranky. I was cranky. The less said the better, probably. The big kids had scouts in the evening and I got them to go together again like last week since it worked so well. 🙂

Yesterday I got the big kids to draw me their plans for their Scout Cake Auction cakes. They’re supposed to design and make their own cakes with a scout-like theme. We looked online for some ideas to enhance our designs, made a list of supplies needed, and then it was time for the big kids to be dropped off at school. Greg and I went shopping for those supplies, plus a few others for other baking related things we have going on this week (piano recital, gift cookies, cookie exchange cookies). We did not get the film that was developed because the film area was not open until 9am, which I find ridiculous, especially this time of year. Grr. Got home in time to pick up Greg’s school stuff. Once I got him settled at school, I came home and baked my first batch of cookies for the week, courtesy of Pinterest (recipe here and using stamps to press cookies here). Nick called and said he was leaving for Houston before lunch so he never got to sample them.
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At that point it was time to head out for the PTA meeting. I brought them some cookies and some for the office staff as well. We had our meeting and then put together staff appreciation gifts (scented candles and hand-signed cards with candy canes attached with ribbon). I got out in time to grab food from home to eat on my way picking up Greg from MDO. Picked him and the big kids up, got them to practice their piano pieces one last time, then gathered up my kids plus an extra that was coming to be the audience for the mini-recital. Since our local family doesn’t celebrate Christmas and my parents are in BCS during the week, we asked friends from school & their moms (one mom not pictured) to come hear our little recital.
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The recital went pretty well. The kids were a bit nervous and made a few mistakes here and there, but they were so happy to have their friends there it didn’t matter. The kids in the audience sang along to the songs they knew words to, which was super fun! I had thought about bringing my piano books with in case I was asked to play, but after all that PTA work, my hands weren’t up to playing by that point in the day. It would have been nice, though. After the recital we exchanged gifts with the teacher and the kids ran outside to play on the stumps in the front lawn (and were joined by a random kid on a bike):
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It was a really good evening! At home I made a really simple dinner and we watched “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to wind down before bed.

Today we got up and I did a mini recital of my own for my own kids while they got ready for school. It was nice to play through my Christmas music for them and they enjoyed singing along. 🙂 Got the big kids off to school & then A. came over. The kids played in the back yard most of the morning, digging for dinosaur bones and looking for T-rexes over the fence in the creek.
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I, of course, sat where I could see them and set about uploading photos and finishing inserting pictures into blog posts so they could finally be “published.” 🙂 Today was our awkward in-between day before a bunch of things happen. Tonight we’ll bake the cakes for scouts so we can decorate them tomorrow. I have to go to the store now and buy 2 more items that I couldn’t find at Super-Walmart yesterday for the cookies I’m baking for tomorrow nights cookie exchange party (which is happening at the same time as the Scout Cake Auction). Then the next day will be a school program in the morning, a coffee date, then all the class parties, followed by a trip on the Polar Express (on the Palestine to Rusk train), and ending up with dinner at the yummy Italian place in Palestine. I think I probably won’t be updating until Sunday or so, after I’ve had a chance to catch my breath. Y’all have a fun next few days! 🙂

“We started right here, in the ovary”

I hate giving subject lines for these posts, especially when I’m just updating about everything.  Maybe I should go back and retitle this “More of everything” Hmm.

David has been doing a lot of scouts stuff from his book, which means that all of us have been doing a lot of scouts stuff because you can’t have just one kid doing all the “fun” stuff.  The kids liked making family trees again (this time with phone calls to relatives to ascertain actual dates & real names) and finding the page in the phone book that has all the emergency info and calling different city officials to ask questions about how the city works and doing more of the recycling on their own (including picking out everything from their Happy Meals that could be recycled & taking that home to put in our bin rather than leaving it there with all the other trash “They waste SO MUCH, Mommy!  Why do they do that?”)

Ben is steadily growing stronger reading skills.  It’s been really hard getting him to read aloud to us at home.  He’s the second best reader in his class (behind Amy, whose mom is an elementary school teacher), but reading at home has just not been something he’s willing to do.  So now we just have him read a few pages out of each book we do at bedtime story time (in addition to whatever they send home as reading homework.)  Knowing that he only has a few pages and that we’ll fill in all the hard words seems to make it easier on him.  Ben has also taken to my old Cabbage Patch Kids lately.  He has a few that he especially likes and will dress up for certain occasions.  It’s pretty funny.

Greg is still climbing everything in sight.   He has ropes that he carries around with him nearly at all times and will tie to things.  He gets his brothers to help him tie them up higher than he can reach.  During the day when they’re not home to assist him he’ll do general kid stuff, but as soon as they get home, he’s back to finding new & better places to climb.  Oh, and when he paints stuff, he mixes all the colors & makes all his painting black.  He paints weird stuff, too.  like Oklahoma.

Nick continues to spend loads of time in Beaumont, but that will end on February 12th.  I can’t wait for him to be home for real, but you know what?  It’s going to be an adjustment.  I’ve gotten used to my weeknight schedule & I don’t know if I’ll transition back to Couple Time all-the-time very well. Currently I’ve been doing Monday nights as project nights, Tuesday nights as other-people-time, & Wednesday nights as TV time.  We’ll see if Nick likes that plan.

I’ve been writing, cleaning, etc.  When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.  (Writing updates continue to be at my dreamwidth journal)
Or fixing people’s computer woes.  Apparently word has spread that I have a way with computers, so I’ve gotten a few phone calls the past month or so requesting assistance.  Mostly over the phone “how do I?” stuff, but this weekend I went to someone’s house & set stuff up, then fielded calls/texts about it all across Saturday afternoon & Sunday morning.

Speaking of calls/texts, we’ve noticed an upswing in our phone usage in the last 6 months, not because Nick’s been gone (we actually talk less during the day, so the extra call at night just blends into the regular usage), but just, ya know, being friendlier or something.  I don’t know.  So we started running our usage stats, first through Sprint (who actually said our current plan suited us, despite our being $20-$50 over every month), then on our own.  We added in our wishlists of how we’d like to use our phones that we aren’t currently doing, looked up plan comparisons, phone reviews, etc, and found out that we’re better off staying with our current carrier (Sprint, which works well here all the way to CS) and getting smartphones with the unlimited family plan.  So once our refunds from last years medical expenses come in, we’ll be doing that.  We’re looking at the HTC Hero phone and the Samsung Moment (we haven’t actually played with them in store yet, but I’ll be doing that tomorrow if the sick kid goes back to school by then).

In other randomness, I’ve been drinking tons of tea lately, trying all different kinds from various places.  My favorite is the supergood ginger kind that my friends sister gave her from Teavana (more details once I’ve seen the canister again).  Republic of Tea’s Cinnamon Plum loose leaf tea is also very nice (but Blackberry Sage remains my favorite from them).  Lipton has a flavored green tea that’s orange, passionfruit, and jasmine that I like for afternoons.  I also have a new favorite otc bagel: Sara Lee’s Blueberry.  There’s something different about them now: they’re more lemon flavored than they used to be.  Mmm.

I have some news that I’m sitting on currently that I’m really excited about, but am awaiting more information before I can announce it.  Eeee.  I love having exciting news & I hate waiting to share it, but that’s the way it goes.

That’s it for this week’s update.  More later.  🙂
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Now playing: Michael Mucklow – Pipe’s Canyon Sunset
via FoxyTunes

oh so busy

I’m trying to remember what’s been keeping us so busy and my brain just whirls on and on.  Last week we had two park-related playdates, one with a new friend and one with an old friend.  The new friend works at the church, but is a comic book/Green Day fan with many tattoos.  The old friend is Z’s mom (Z, who is marrying Ben someday, as long as she can call him Mr. Ben-ana and they eat cookies instead of cake at the wedding).  We had lots of fun on both playdates.

This week we went to the DSP with a couple different families (due to a weird misremembered scheduling accident, but it worked out) and no children were lost permanently, but some were missing for about five minutes.  I’d forgotten that you can’t go anywhere in the month of May without running into some school group somewhere.  Drives me nuts.

We had meals at two new=ish places in town last week.  One I went to with my parents for lunch and it was a franchise of The Jalapeno Tree.  It was awful.  Just dreadful food and not great service.  They had lovely decor though.  The other place we went to for date night on Saturday and it was not part of a giant chain and did not have the loveliest decor, but had excellent service & food and even a piano/lounge singer and a mariachi band (Pico de Gallo, for those that want to know).

David has been out-and-about with cub scouts.  Did a hike at the local giant-park-and-trails place.  Went to a local baseball game.  Next week I’m taking them all to tour a tv startion & to watch the evening broadcast.  David will be getting a couple belt badges for bicycling and chess at the next pack meeting, too.

Let’s see, what else?  It’s National Teacher Appreciation week: don’t forget to thank your teachers!    We brought desserts to David’s school and presents for Ben & Greg’s teachers.  (We bought one for David’s teacher, but he’s forgotten to take it to her all week long.)  We’re going to take notes to the Sunday school teachers  & nursery workers this weekend, too (they already did an appreciation thing about a month ago and we brought food for them then).

It’s also doctor’s appointment week, it seems.  I finally got David in for his 7-year-old well-child check-up (I had no idea it would take so long for them to get him on the schedule).  He’s 4 foot, one inch tall now and weighs 56lbs.  I loved watching the neuro-check, it’s hysterical.  He and Gregory both got the HepA or HepB shots (whichever is the one they give to kids in school & daycare; I never can remember).  So I took them to McDonald’s afterwards, which has become a tradition.     I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow for a check-up and actually found a friend both willing & available to watch my kids so they don’t have to be dragged along (It’s a hard combination to find, sadly).

Next week Nick will be out of town, as he’s going to some big long training/study session for his PE exam (which he’s taking in October).  It may not technically be the PE exam; he told me the other initials of the specific branch of the exam he’s taking and I can’t remember exactly (CSEPE?  Maybe?  Control Systems Engineer Practical Exam?).  I’m doing both the TV studio tour and the pack meeting on my own (with all three children), not to mention mom’s group and everything else.  I may go insane.  If you hear a giant “argh!” out of nowhere, it’s probably me.    (I did have a friend offer to take one of my kids during key moments next week if necessary, which is very much appreciated, but I’ll have to reciprocate during the next week with one of hers.  Fortunately, both kids we need to have out of the way are the laid-back, easy to deal with kids.)

Is that really all?  I don’t know.  I’m still finding jello soup everywhere….