Monthly Archives: December 2009

South America – Day 129

I think I should write a blog entry but I just don’t know what to write about.  Derick didn’t call yesterday, and for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to go to bed.  As if the day isn’t complete without talking to him and praying with him.  I finally made my way to my bedroom at about 11pm.  I wasn’t even doing anything constructive, just missing Derick and playing around on Facebook.  5am came awefully early this morning, especially when Brody woke up at 12:30 and wanted to eat, and then Kendra’s friend Erika, who spent the night last night, had to leave at 4:30 this morning to go to work.  Hearing the door openning and shutting woke me again.  This morning I am wiped out!

I think maybe its harder for me to be motivated to post a blog entry because Derick isn’t reading it so much anymore.  He doesn’t have internet access so readily available at his new location like he did in Cuba.  So, Skype is out of the question.  Phone calls and snail mail are the preferred methods of communication.  Its hard on the kids, not seeing him while they talk.  I suppose, though, that this will help me to remember everything that has happened while he is away.  So that I can look back and see how God has taken care of my family whether Derick is here or overseas.  Eventually my kids will be able to see it also. 

Today I have high ambitions of get all of my Christmas decorations put away.  Well… almost all of them.  I think I am going to start a new trend.  I’m gonna leave the lights on my house until Valentine’s Day.  One month is just not long enough to enjoy all the work that it takes to get the lights on the house.  And I didn’t get them up over Thanksgiving weekend.  So, really, they have only been on display for 3 weeks.  Besides, I have white lights and red bows.  That just screams Valentine’s Day.  If I find out that Derick will be home by then end of February, I may leave them up til he gets here.  They are so beautiful.  They give me comfort.  I don’t know why.  I love coming home at night and having that little bit of light on the front of my house.  I love seeing the lights through the blinds as I am putting the kids to bed.  Christmas lights just have a soothing aspect to them.  When everything else about this holiday season seemed chaotic and out of control, my Christmas lights kept reminding me that there is still beauty in the chaos.  Besides, there is a foot of snow on the ground out there.  I’m not about to go tromping through the snow to remove my little bit of Christmas cheer. 

Today I am also hoping to go outside to play in the snow with the kids.  They all received snowpants and boots for Christmas and, like I just mentioned, there is a foot of snow on the ground.  Tomorrow its supposed to be above freezing.  They are predicting snow, but I’m not sure how its gonna snow if its not freezing outside.  I’m not the weatherman, I guess.  So, today the goal is to get Brody in bed for a good nap and get outside to play.  It will probably take me just as long to get all of us dressed as we will actually spend outside.  I have snowpants, too… did I mention that?  Derick and I got new coats and snowpants about 3 years ago when we were delivering papers.  Very expensive but definitely money well spent!  When I see that the current temperature outside is a balmy 3 degrees (its 6:30am), I thank God that I am in my pajamas, sitting in my toasty living room, blogging about snow, instead of tromping through it, delivering newspapers!  (They have to be delivered by 5:30am)  I’d have to be pretty desperate to do that job again!

Derick said he went to the beach last weekend.  Must be rough!  Even though I love my Christmas lights poking out through the snow, I would love to be laying on a tropical island beach with my true love, soaking up the sun.  He thought they would be going back this weekend too, for New Years.  Wow!  What a way to bring in the new year!  I’m so jealous!  Not jealous as in, “Can I trade places with you?” but jealous like, “I wish I were with you!”  I don’t really want to go to the beach unless Derick can go with me.  When I talked to him Sunday night, he said we should go to one of those all-inclusive resorts for a second honeymoon.  That sounds great to me! 

Derick, if you read this before I get to talk to you again, I love you and I miss you like crazy!  We’re on the downhill slope now.  (Hopefully!)  Stay safe and hurry home!

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South America – Day 126

I think the Lord made it snow just for me.  After Christmas eve morning with my parents and brothers and sisters, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until Saturday night.  The thought of spending the next 3 days alone at home with my kids brought such a feeling of despair and loneliness.  I was invited to go to Glen Carbon to spend Saturday lunch with my in-laws, and I had been invited to go to Iowa to my Grandma’s house, but either option just sounded like so much work.  I know that Derick would have wanted me to go to Glen Carbon.  And I know that on the way down there, I was planning on driving with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to ease the stress of the trip, but I wasn’t sure what time they were coming back and I wanted to come back fairly early so that I could see my extended family for at least an hour.  I, actually, don’t go to Kroger for milk and eggs by myself with all four kids, let alone take a day trip that’s 2 1/2 hours in one direction.  The more I thought about it the more stressful it sounded.

Christian went to his Jolliff family on Christmas afternoon and I told his dad that he could spend the night at his grandparent’s house.  So, that eliminated the option of going with my parents to Iowa.  But God made it snow instead.  It was predicted to snow 3″ or less here, but 7″ at my grandma’s house.  And the trip to Grandma’s house was postponed.  Suddenly, I had a place to stay for the Christmas weekend and I wouldn’t be alone in a house full of little kids.

Anyone who has spent an extended amount of time with me this week knows that I was not looking forward to Christmas this year.  I had no idea that it would be this hard to spend it with Derick overseas.  I did all my shopping in a matter of 2 days.  I really think I made pretty good purchases in spite of my procrastination.  I know that Jesus is the reason for the season.  And deep inside I really wanted to make it a special Christmas for my kids.  But, I just could not do it.  I was stuck, paralyzed, unable to move forward with the plans I had in my head.  I called my mom, crying on several occasions.  I’m sure she didn’t know what to do with me.

Its funny how things work.  I have such a great support system around me.  But, Christmas, so far, has been the hardest weekend of Derick’s absence.  That is also the weekend that everyone is the busiest.  I wanted company so bad.  But, its not a weekend that people spend with needy friends, it one they spend with their families.  My family is gone though.  I know… my kids are still here.  But when it comes to holidays, I feel like I am functioning as half a person.  I remember my grandma saying that after my grandpa died.  Yesterday I began to wonder how she even made it through the holidays that first year without him.  There is such a marked difference when the person that you most want around for a special occasion is missing.

I began thinking about people that really are alone during the holiday season… every year.  Am I available to visit those people?  Or am I too busy with my own life to even notice.  I’m not sure I even know anyone like that.  Or maybe I do and I just haven’t recognized that they are in need.  I pray that God would open my eyes to the needs of others.  That I would not be so consumed by myself that I don’t take the time to notice what’s going on around me.  And that he would give me boldness and assertiveness in making myself available.  I think if someone would have asked me this week if I needed anything, I probably would have said no.  I didn’t need anything tangible.  I needed someone’s time, anyone’s time.  But, I didn’t want to take people away from their own family, I didn’t want to be selfish about it.

Well, *sigh*, now Christmas is over, and my God, in his loving kindness, provided company for me.  I have one more party to go to tonight and then its back to life as usual.  Back to my normal goals and semi-routines.  Back to potty training and trying to keep kids healthy during the flu season.  And back to counting the days until Derick’s return.  I welcome routine.  Right now it brings me comfort and peace of mind.

So, now I sign off so I can put pants on my son that seems to have been potty training forever.  He makes Aida’s potty training nightmare look like a walk in the park.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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South America – Day 122

It is 5:30am and Christian is finally sleeping… I think.  I’m pretty sure he has an ear infection.  I gave him Motrin last night and at about 3:00 this morning he was back in my room because the Motrin had worn off.  So, after listening to him toss and turn for about an hour, Brody woke up and wanted to eat.  (Maybe that means Brody will sleep in now… fat chance.) I sat in bed feeding  Brody and listened to Chritian saying over and over in almost a sing-songy voice, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.”  It must have been some pretty intense pain to wake him up in the night.  I remember him coming upstairs and asking me something, but I don’t exactly remember the conversation.  I remember telling him he could sleep in my bed if he wanted, but beyond that I just remember feeling him toss and turn and hearing that sing-songy voice.  After I fed Brody I gave Christian more Motrin.  That was at 4:10.  Then he saw me check something on my phone and he asked if he could play a game to get his mind off the pain.  Sure!  Whatever you need to do!  So, he sat in my bed for an hour playing brickbreaker until the alarm went off at 5:00.  I came downstairs and poured a cup of coffee.  I had just got settled on the couch and I heard the sound of footsteps above me.  Here comes Christian, complaining that he is scared upstairs. (Scared?? Seriously??)  So now he is sound asleep next to me, on the couch.  Finally!  I’m supposed to finish my Christmas shopping today but honestly, after last night… er… early this morning, I’d rather take a nap!

I have been so disinterested in Christmas shopping this year.  I know its because Derick’s not here.  That is something that we always did together.  I think sometimes we even had the kids with us while we shopped.  I remember last year, going to Target (at the last minute) with kids in tow to get Christmas presents for the kids.  One of us would pick out a gift for a child while the other one would take said child to another part of the store so they wouldn’t see the item being purchased.  It worked!  They were all suprised when they opened their gifts!  As of this weekend, I am officially done shopping for my kids.  I just have to shop for extended family members now.  I’d love to hire someone to shop for me!  Any takers??

Today is Tuesday, coffee tuesday to be exact.  Ever since Derick left for bootcamp, my sister-in-law, Rachel has been coming to visit me on Tuesday mornings.  We sit at the table and drink coffee until we are ready to pop.  Nevermind that we each drank a pot before she came.  There have been periods of time that we took a break.  When my Bible Study is going on, they meet on Tuesdays, so I’m not available.  Or sometimes Rachel has things going on too.  Last summer my sister Carrie started joining us.  My grandpa calls it “sistering”.  My grandma gets together every Thursday with all of her sisters and they go “sistering”.  So, now it is a family tradition.  My mom goes “sistering” and I go “sistering”.  Maybe its known as sistering when you have more than just one or 2 sisters.

Well, I suddenly have 3 sick kids this morning so I better close this blog and take care of them.  There is no better medicine better than mommy’s loving arms when you are sick.

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South America – Day 121

I finally talked to Derick last night.  When I got out of church yesterday and in the car to go home, I saw that I missed a call from him and I was so sad.  I have been pretty weepy this weekend.  I think partly because I miss Derick but also because I have been holding a crying baby for the last 4 or 5 days.  And maybe a little because I don’t have much Christmas shopping done.  Actually up til Saturday I pretty much had no shopping done.  It was so good to hear his voice though!  He can’t really tell me what he’s doing.  He did say that the local children come to the job sight to try to talk to the Americans in English.  We only talked for about 15 minutes or so, but that phone call just changed my attitude for the whole day!  It was actually better to talk to him in the evening, rather than the morning  because he got to say hi to the kids too.  The kids weren’t available in the morning. 

Friday night I went to an ugly Christmas sweater party at a friend’s house.  I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time!  I left all of my kids with my mom and drove to Tremont, in the snow, alone.  It was so good to get out and just be with friends!  We had a white elephant gift exchange and my gift was the talk of the exchange.  There were gifts like an old punching bag, giant sized tighty whiteys, mini badminton, and a fireplace video so you can pretend that your tv is actually a fireplace.  I, however, brought a box of condoms.  I have had this box of Trojan sitting around my house for a good year, untouched for obvious reasons.  I don’t know what possessed me to use it as a gift, but I did.  I was the only one at the party that didn’t have a date.  By date, I mean a spouse with them.  Anyway, it got a pretty good laugh and people were talking about it for the rest of the night, and even at church yesterday morning.  I’m sure that no one expected a gift like that to come from me. 

Yesterday my sister asked if she and her family could come over for dinner.  I love cooking and I love having company, especially right now.  Sometimes I want to cook a good meal and it just seems pointless.  Kids would just as soon have hotdogs and mac n cheese, and they’d probably eat it better too.  I love cooking though.  I love creating something to enjoy with all of your senses, especially smell and taste.  (Sight is good too!  Its always exciting when what you are eating looks pretty!)  I love it, too, that Derick loves to cook.  It makes it, either, lots of fun in the kitchen or a big fight in the kitchen.  Actually, during the first year of our marriage it was more of a fight in the kitchen.  Kind of a survival of the fittest.  I won, simply because I do 90% of the cooking. (100% right now.)  But, I did learn that he doesn’t make food, or chop vegetables or boil water wrong, he just does it different than me.  And I have come to welcome (and now miss) his help.  So, today I am cooking for Carrie and her family. 

This is the first time I really feel alone during the holidays.  After my disastrous Thanksgiving, I’m not exactly looking forward to Christmas parties.  Yesterday, after I missed Derick’s call, I simply had no motivation to do anything.  I had already been weepy most of the weekend because of my sick baby.  I think I was just totally depleated.  I had nothing left to give to my family.  It took all the energy I had just to make egg sandwiches for dinner, so the kids had something besides cereal to eat.  Two things yesterday made a difference in turning my attitude around.  The first, obviously, was the call from Derick.  It is amazing how being separated changes my perspective.  I appreciate every minute that I get to talk to him right now.  And I pray that sometime while he is at this new location, they will get to use Skype.   I feel like I’ve been spoiled up to this point because I’ve gotten to talk to him for at least 5 minutes almost everyday.  Now it appears that its gonna be more like once a week or so.  I appreciate the call once a week, though, because I know it could be a lot less often than that.  The difference is that I have to learn to function more like a single parent right now, because he’s not available to get his opinion of things. 

The other thing that changed my day is a facebook message from a friend that said she and her family are in town and wanted to stop by today for a visit.  I haven’t seen them in probably 8 years.  And we have never met each others kids.  Too bad Derick is gone and can’t meet them.  Oh well, we’ll just have to plan a road trip to visit them after he gets back.  Anyway, like I said before, I love having visitors.  I like having, even unexpected visitors (as long as they don’t mind the mess that is my house.)  So, I stayed up last night to clean my house.  It was so good to get up to that this morning… a fresh pot of coffee, a clean kitchen and company coming in a couple of hours.  It does wonders for my state of mind.

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South America – Day 117

It is 2:30 in the afternoon and I am sitting on the couch.  I have accomplished very little today beyond squeezing in a shower during Brody’s morning nap and comfort him after he woke up.  He has had a pretty rough time for the last 24 hours.  He woke up every 3 hours in the night.  So, needless to say, I did not get up with my usual 5am alarm.  I think he doesn’t feel well.  But, however he was feeling this morning isn’t affecting him now.  He is smiling away at me as I type. 

I started reading another Jill Savage book.  I was reading Bringing Up Boys by Dr. Dobson.  It, so far, is a great book!  It is very deep, though, since he is a psychologist.  And since I am not raising my first son in the perfect family situation, sometimes I have to put it down and pray a while.  (See the “about” section at the top of the page.  If you want to know more, just ask.)  I do have a wonderful husband that I am madly in love with.  I truly believe that he is the man that God intended for me to marry all along.  We just both got distracted when we were young.

Anyway, I picked up “Professionalizing Motherhood” by Jill Savage this time.  I have so many books that I want to read.  I think I’m just gonna have to stack them up and start at the top of the stack and work my way down.  I mentioned earlier this week that I met Jill Savage last Friday.  I told my mom and my husband that I met her and she is my friend on facebook now, and (at the risk of Jill or her family actually reading this :))  they both responded with, “You are gonna be a speaker at Hearts at Home someday!”  Well, as much fun as that would be, that’s not necessarily my life’s goal.  But it did get me thinking… what would I have to offer mothers, or anyone for that matter?  Actually, I have been asked to pray about fascilitating a Bible Study at my church for young moms this coming semester.  Sometimes, God can use us the most during some of the most difficult times in our lives.  

Derick and I had the priviledge, once, to share with our church’s youth group, about our dating experiences.  We followed what is so typical a path for young men and young women.  Derick went off to college as a brand new Christian and got involved in the party scene and I, being a decendant of Eve like every woman, was easily deceived into thinking I found a Godly relationship that would last forever.  Both experiences ended in disaster.  In starting over with each other, we set very high physical standards in dating.  Since we weren’t going to kiss and make out, we had to find other things to do.  Consequently, we got to know each other very quickly.  We were married 13 months after we met.  And we shared our first kiss on our wedding day, September 5, 2005.

My experience with my first marriage, I don’t mind talking about, but since I am still raising a young son from that marriage and my ex and his family live in the area, I don’t like publishing details on the world wide web.  Christian has a very loving family from my first marriage and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.

My most recent learning experiences obviously have to do with my life as a Navy wife, which I love and wouldn’t trade for the world.  I started thinking about what I would tell other people in my situation or people that know someone raising kids on their own.  One thing that a friend said to me when Derick left for boot camp was, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”  Sometimes it feels almost humiliating to admit that you need help.  Our society emphasizes that we should be able to do it all (as mothers) and gives the impression that we are weak if we can’t do it alone.  And of all the jobs in the world, the least significant is raising kids.  The media basically has the attitude of “Come on… How hard can that be?!” 

Well, I have 4 kids now and Derick will be gone for another 2 to 3 months and I have had to swollow my pride on many occasions not only to ask for help, but to allow people to see the chaos that is my life at home.  I am a work in progress.  But the thing that I would say to others who call themselves the single parent’s support system (i.e. the church) is, don’t forget about that person.  It is a novelty to be the one to help in the beginning.  But, 2 or 3 or 6 months down the road it is still hard and we still may need help.  Sometimes just a visitor once in a while. 

I have been fortunate to have an amazing church, at Northfield Christian Fellowship.  When Derick left for boot camp we had not been going there very long as a family, but that was the church that Derick desired for us to call home.  I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to be there without him.  It was big and intimidating to me.  Derick knew everyone and I knew no one.  But they have gone above and beyond what would be considered the call of duty to desplay to my family the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.  They have been more than willing to help when I asked and sometimes even when I didn’t.  And it is never a burden for them.  Or it never appears to me to be a burden. 

James 1:27 says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for ophans and widows in their distess and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT)  This is the example that my church has set for my family and also for the community around them.  I pray that someday I will be able to do the same.

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South America – Day 116

Derick asked me a couple of days ago if I had my passport yet.  I kind of chuckled.  That would have been really great, to go visit him on the beach on the Caribbean for Christmas.  I suppose it is still possible.  But I have no passport and no plans to get one in the immediate future.  I’ve also heard its rather expensive to get it rushed.  Maybe I should get one just to have on hand.  You know… incase Derick whisks me away on some romantic tropical vacation when he returns to the US.  But on the other hand I am working really hard to try to save money.  We are finally at a point where I feel like we are doing ok financially and I know eventually Derick is going to have to come back and look for a new job.  It would just be nice to have a little cushion for him to do that.  Still, I could really go for a sandy beach and some hot weather right now with a certain incredibly handsome sailor, especially when it is 8 degrees outside here. 

Yesterday he traveled to his new location.  I know where the destination is (I’m not sure I’m supposed to know) but I don’t know what any of the travel plans are.  I do know that when he flew to Cuba he had to have all of his stuff packed and loaded the night before, so he was basically slept that night in his traveling clothes.  That really isn’t a bad idea.  I think next time we go on a family vacation or any long drive in the car, I’m just gonna make the kids sleep in their clothes.  Actually, that may not go over very well… we’ll see, I guess.  So the last time I talked to him was Monday night.  He had no idea what kind of communication we will have from this point forward.  He has heard rumors of no internet access and rumors that they will all be issued an air card.  I guess eventually I’ll find out.  Hopefully sooner rather than later. 

On the home front, Christian has one more week of school left before Christmas break.  I guess its winter break now, because we have to be politically correct. (This is me rolling my eyes…)  Aida spent the night with my friend Katie last night.  I love it that Katie takes her every so often, just for a little break.  I think Aida loves it too, except that she refers to Katie’s husband, Andy, as Katie’s dad.  And gets a little intimidated by him.  But that is typical of Aida.   Allyn went to my friend, Dana’s house yesterday, so that I could get my hair done.  My appointment was cancelled, though, because my stylist was sick.  I was going to do some Christmas shopping instead and didn’t get any of it done.  Oh, well.  I saw a really great movie with a really great friend instead.  And then we went to the Gap and I think I need to go back today to look at their clearance rack!  I am sorely lacking in the fashion department.  But that’s another story all together.  Brody and Christian stayed home with Kendra while I went out yesterday. 

Poor Kendra.  Brody cried most of the time I was gone.  That is just miserable for a babysitter!  I told her if I was gone too long that she could give him a bottle.  Apparently, Brody is not a big fan of bottles.  He choked and gagged and cried for his mom.  I guess I’m married to nursing for a while longer.  That’s ok, it makes me feel needed.  And it gives me an excuse to sit down and relax at least 5 times a day… lately its been more like 6 or 7 times.  I think its time to introduce cereal in his diet.  He has gone from sleeping 10 hours at night back to eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours around the clock.  Exhausting!  Especially when my alarm is already set for the ungodly hour of 5am! 

Today I have a fun-filled day of laundry ahead of me.  I better get started before it overtakes my basement.  I have no trouble washing and drying laundry.  It’s the folding and putting away that gets me.  That is probably my biggest vice.  Well, I have 2 or 3 more months (roughly) to master it before Derick gets back.  So, in the mean time… Hi ho, hi ho, its off to the basement I go.

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South America – Day 114

Today Derick has the day off so hopefully I’ll get to talk to him a lot.  Yesterday was such a busy day that our usual afternoon Skyping was put on hold.  I didn’t realize til last night that I would get to talk to him today.  I was so sad last night, like I was supposed to do something really important and I didn’t get it done.  Then he called and told me that he’ll be available all day today and that just made everything better. 

 This weekend really went very smoothly and was quite enjoyable. I met Mark and Jill Savage at MOPS and Diane came to clean Aida’s room for me on Friday.  Saturday the kids all wrote “letters” to send in a package to their Dad.  And Saturday afternoon I made cookies.  The kids were supposed to help but about half way into mixing up the dough, they got bored and left the room.  This is one of the many difficulties that I have as a single parent.  I have to learn to put anything aside and go tend to my children.  Whether its cooking, feeding Broy, cleaning, or watching TV.  As much as I don’t want to, I have to be able to put it down and deal with things all by myself.  At the same time, I have to be able to ignore things that would normally drive a person crazy.  For instance, if I hear Aida and Allyn in the other room while I am feeding Brody, I need to be able to determine what is important enough to interrupt Brody’s meal.  If one is terrorizing the other or blatantly disobeying me, that is enough to make me put Brody in his seat, get up off the couch and take care of things.  If, on the other hand, I am cooking dinner and I hear them screaming and laughing in the other room and an occasional crash (followed by more screaming and laughing) I will probaby contiue cooking and worry about cleaning up their mess later (or coaching them to do it later). 

Anyway, back to my weekend.  Late Saturday afternoon, Aida and I went shopping for things to put in Derick’s Christmas package.  He probably won’t get it on Christmas but I just got his address last week so I think he’ll understand.  I asked Aida and Christian what they wanted to get for him.  Christian, of course, had his heart set on a video game, which I vetoed again, stating that they are expensive and I don’t know what is worth playing.  So, he said he wanted a coloring book and crayons.  Aida wanted to get him a puppy.  So we got a little stuffed dog.  Aida also found a set of Disney Princess Dominoes that she wanted to get for him.  She and Derick like to play dominoes on Skype.  I don’t know if she really understood that the box held dominoes, but she definitely saw the princesses!  And what would a sailor in the US Navy want more from his daughter for Christmas than a set of Disney Princess Dominoes. 

It was an adventure taking a 3 year old to Target during the Christmas season!  She wanted everything.  If I had a nickel for every time I said, “We are not shopping for us, we are shopping for dad.”, I’d have an abundance of money for Christmas!  She finally had a total melt down in the book section when we were picking the coloring books.  I put her in the car and went directly to the checkout.  There, she demanded that the cashier give her a sticker.  When the sticker was produced I demanded that she say thank you.  She didn’t, so I gave the sticker back to the cashier.  At that point she started screaming and thrashing.  Which invited a trip to the restroom.  Fortunately, no one was in there at that moment.  (I know that giving her a much-needed spanking isn’t abuse, but not everyone sees it that way.)  When I came home, we made spaghetti, took baths and got ready for bed.  And, I am pleased to report that part of this bedtime routine was picking up Aida’s room (she changed her clothes at least 6 times on Saturday) and the living room.  They both looked fabulous by the time the kids were in bed.

Sunday consisted of hair cuts for the boys (I think I must be out of my mind), Church Christmas Programs, Piano recitals, and dinner at a friends house.  A very busy day!  A good day, but a busy day!  My kids were on their best behaviour at the recital!  I was so proud of them!  I asked my grandpa if he noticed, he said no, but that’s good.  If he had noticed, it would have been bad.  

For now, though, its time to get the kids out of bed and start the day.  The coffee is gone and the sun is up.  Good morning, world.  Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to Derick for a long time today.

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