Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My camera is broken. I dropped in on our driveway in Shelby and have been taping the battery door shut ever since. Even that isn't working anymore. I apologize for the lack of picture updates, and I won't have any more to add until I get my camera fixed.
Aaron isn't really ready to eat solid foods, but he thinks he is. He fusses constantly through our mealtimes, and finally yesterday I decided to put him in the high chair with a baby cracker so he wouldn't feel neglected. He didn't like the cracker very much, but he does enjoy the high chair. I know clothing sizes are relative, but my four month old is wearing 6-9 month clothes and it just makes me think he is growing up too fast! He's just now getting over a cold, and its fun to see him happy and playful again.
Hannah is really a very good big sister. She goes out of her way to play with Aaron when he needs some attention and is patient with me when I feel overwhelmed with meeting the needs of four kids. She loves her school. One of the highlights of this move happened last Friday, when a neighbor boy came to our door asking if Hannah could go sledding. Hannah was the youngest, but I watched the kids helping her, including her, and sharing their sleds with her. Part of why we moved here was so that my kids could have more friends.
Nathan is growing up so fast! He's just huge! We moved him out of his crib and into the toddler bed when we moved here. I worried that I'd loose my good sleeper--I could always count on Nathan taking a good nap! But the funny thing is, he hasn't really figured out that he can get out of bed by himself. Maybe he thinks he'll get in trouble if he does... I love having him be a big boy in his big bed, but stay put like a little boy.
I think I write more blogs about Rachel than anything else. Having a deaf child has dramatically affected the dynamics of our family. I feel like I still haven't really learned to handle her very well; we don't sign well enough, I haven't mastered the medical community, and we don't really have an effective way to discipline her. She's nearly four years old, and I think I should be farther along. I really wonder what goes on in her head--how does a smart kid with little language think? This month she has finally broken her attachment to the pacifier and she is finally potty trained (last night was her first night with no accidents, but she hasn't had a daytime accident in a week). She's really smart--watching her, you can see her mind working. The kids all play well together. Its like they have their own language, combining ASL with body language and some sound and a lot of intuition. Its really amazing to see how my kids are growing and developing despite all my shortcomings.
Just a few thoughts. And I'll do my best to have pictures soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Funny Thing...

I think this is a first--it may actually be good that Rachel slashed her bangs. She's wanted to grow them out for a while now, but I hate trying to grow bangs out. The way she cut them, her longer hair will hide the uncut sides, and when the other part grows out, they'll look like layered bangs and should grow out easily. I'm still not happy she did it, but I think it will work out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It had to happen sometime

While I was busy caring for Hannah, Nathan, and Aaron, Rachel went up to my bathroom, got her hands on my haircutting scissors, and trimmed-slashed-her bangs. What do I do? There's no way for me to make it look good. Do I try to even it out, or do I just ignore it until her hair grows out? She's very proud of herself. I'm feeling stupid, because I know better than to leave scissors anywhere within a child's reach. Advice, please! (And I'll post pictures as soon as I replace my camera batteries)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

ABC accomplishments

Yesterday, the kids found our ABC train puzzle and wanted to put it together. Rachel surprised me with her skill. I would ask her to find me a letter, and nearly every time she could pick out the correct piece. I had no idea she knew her ABC's that well, although she does practice on starfall.com quite a bit (a great website for kids, by the way).
Hannah helped. She likes to be Rachel's teacher.
Just a cute picture of our cute, sleepy boy.
The previous owners took their oven with them. We spent the first five or so days in our new home without a stove, so we cooked with the microwave. The kids enjoyed being Daddy's helpers when we finally got our new stove and installed it Wednesday night. We used it for the first time the next morning to make scrambled eggs for breakfast (then macaroni and cheese for lunch, then spaghetti for dinner...)

Saying Good-bye to Shelby

Nathan didn't love seeing his things packed up or the house empty, but he loved the boxes!
This is Hannah, posing with her teacher, on her last day of Kindergarten at Graham Elementary.
There were a few people Rachel knew by name in our Shelby ward. This is Rachel, singing with the "silly man" (Rod Porter--Elvis Impersonator, electric guitar expert).
The dear Mull family--my kids spent countless hours at their house while I drove to doctors appointments, audiology appointments, school appointments, etc. This is Stacy and Ivy...
and Benjamin Mull. (I don't have picts right now of the older two-the ones who theoretically did the babysitting.)
Rachel and Nathan loved their nursery class. Sister Mazza knew ASL, so Rachel was always included. She doesn't think her Sunbeam class is nearly as fun.
Rachel knew Bishop Thomas by only one name: "candy man." He kept a stash of candy in his office to give to kids who could quote an Article of Faith. Rachel is probably the only kid who never had to earn her candy. Hannah knows the first two really well, and would sneak extra candy when Rachel got her free candy.
These are just the people we had pictures of--we loved all our friends and ward family in Shelby. And thanks to everyone who helped the week we moved! I told the missionaries that if I wasn't already a member, their service would have converted me!

Perspective on Snow

I'm fairly accustomed to cold weather. I grew up in Washington, where it would snow occasionally and rain the rest of the time; and I lived in Utah, where heavy snow is normal. I've never experienced anything like this. When we arrived in Michigan, we enjoyed light rain and moderate temperatures for a few days, but ever since, there has been a constant snow fall. We might only get a inch a day, but it snows and accumulates every day. I can't ever seem to keep the driveway shoveled. (Side note--Christian loves winter, and was very excited to have snow again. I liked to comment that he would like it until he had to shovel. Thus far, he likes the snow and has not shoveled. He leaves this week to travel to Minnesota and Texas, and will not shovel. I guess it is my new job.) We had to buy snow gear for the whole family. This morning on our drive to church, the radio said the high today would be 10 degrees. Funny thing-- our Shelby ward was canceled today for bad weather. I hear that the entire state of North Carolina is having severe weather warnings. My friend Heather told me that they had maybe an inch of snow--that's it. Nothing in Michigan shuts down for snow.
This is the view from out front door. See the small pond across the street? That, and the nearby lake, are frozen over.
The kids think its summer time!I haven't taken many pictures of the inside of the house yet--there are still too many boxes. Here's our living room (we'll be painting the purple wall. Christian keeps trying to tell me it matches the floral chair--he doesn't want to paint--but I'm not buying it)the kitchenand the back of the house.Before we came here, we were anticipating feeling "buyer's remorse." Fortunately, we really like the house. I love all the windows, especially in the kitchen and living room, where I spend so much time. We love that we got a good deal on the house. The kids enjoyed a "swim" in the whirlpool tub last night. And you've seen pictures of the lodge (toy room, family room...man cave), which is a fun room.
So we're pleased with the move so far. We miss our old friends. It will be a lonely week, with Christian gone and all the snow keeping us isolated from neighbors. Hannah loves her new kindergarten class (half day--yay!) and Rachel starts tomorrow--an oral class (no sign language). We need to find out just how much she can hear and help her use her hearing.
That's us!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"The Lodge"

Well, we've finally made the move to our new house. We arrived in town Thursday afternoon, had our stuff delivered Friday, and have the next few weeks to enjoy the unpacking. Our new home is nice and bright - all of the rooms seem to have big windows. The bedrooms are smaller than our home in Shelby; the yard is also smaller, but all this is offset by "The Lodge".
Some previous owner of this house decided to finish the basement in a "log cabin" style complete with "log cabin" wainscoting, a stone fireplace, natural pine window casings, and duck wallpaper borders. There's also a little mini kitchenette with a small sink, fridge, microwave and bar/serving area, and the room is wired for surround sound (although it doesn't do us any good because all we've got is a 19" TV [at least we hope we do, we haven't been able to find it anywhere]). The whole feel of the room is completely different from the rest of house, so I've affectionately named it "The Lodge"

Robyn calls it my "Man Cave". We've got the leather sofas down here, I've got the fridge stocked with store brand root beer and orange soda, and the internet is hooked up so I've got my work laptop down there as well. I don't get to spend as much time down here as I'd like (unpacking and the like), but I anticipate that it will be a good area to host get-togethers, and enjoy quiet evenings.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Its finally happening

We've been planning and expecting for four months, and today, finally, the movers are here, packing up our things. It's kind of hard to believe. Yesterday we said lots of good-byes at church. I was thrilled to be able to teach the Young Women for one last time, and I think it went well. We tried to get pictures of people so the kids can remember their friends. I'm so thankful for Sister Falk, who has been interpreting Sacrament meeting for Rachel for the past three weeks (even though Rachel doesn't pay attention). And now, we're cleaning and packing and trying to look ahead. Hannah had a hard time going to school this morning, but I think its for the best. Tonight will be our last night in our home--and we expect to be in our new place on Thursday. We'll keep you posted!
We want to apologize for not sending the yearly letter. We intended to do it, up until yesterday, when we printed 40 copies of a letter on the wrong side of our pretty paper and decided that fate was against us. We love you all, even if we didn't send a letter this year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Aftermath...

After our enjoyable and busy Christmas, things didn't slow down. Christian was really sick--we wondered if it might be some exotic bug he caught in India, or good old fashioned food poisoning (that lasts for 5-ish days...). Since Christian was gone for our anniversary, we had planned on taking a short trip to Charleston, South Carolina on the 26th, leaving the kids with Grandma. That morning, with Christian feeling quite sick, we had a major plumbing incident. It took several hours to resolve, and included a visit from Roto-Rooter and two city plumbing representatives. Just one more reason to be wary of buying an older home...who wants to make repairs the week before you move? We really wanted our vacation, but didn't get to leave until 7 hours later than we had planned. By the time we got to Charleston, it was nearly 11:00 and all the respectable restaurants had closed. We found a sushi bar still open (and no, I'm not a sushi fan) and I had the fun of showing my ID (being carded-a first!) in order to enter. We had decent teriyaki, way to loud music, and left as soon as we could. I fully enjoyed an uninterrupted night of sleep with a fire going. That morning, we spent our time on the phone with a mortgage counselor (a pre-requisite for our loan) instead of walking around the town, but did get to sit near the water with a great view while we talked. And after our phone call, we turned around and drove back home.
Friday, we enjoyed our last day with Grandma and Dana. After a few last minute craft projects and a few hours with curlers in the kids hair, just for fun, I took Hannah, Grandma, and Dana to a late lunch (how's 5:00?) before driving them to the airport. By the way, I'm a huge fan of Panera (for bread and sandwiches). Their flight, like nearly every flight ever, was delayed. The long story is that they missed their connecting flight, spent the night in Minnesota, and made it home to Washington late Saturday afternoon in stead of Friday night. Love those airlines!

Jonathan and DeAnn joined us for New Year's Eve. We had lots of fun appetizers, played games, stayed up way too late, and enjoyed watching the kids play together. They were planning on moving the day after they got home, so good luck to them.
And that brings us to today--a completely normal day. Our plan is to use this weekend to put our home in order. The packers come on Monday, then the movers will load the truck on Tuesday, and we'll drive out of North Carolina on Wednesday, get to Michigan on Thursday, and get our stuff on Friday. We'll let you know how it goes!

Happy (and busy) Holidays!

I woke up today and realized that I was about to have the first completely normal day in two weeks. I wasn't very happy about that. I like having company, having Christian home from work, and having the kids occupied with friends. So, this morning I'm going to relive my vacation by sharing the details, and as many pictures as I have.
My Mom and sister, Dana, came on the Wednesday before Christmas (right in the middle of Christian's trip to India). Conveniently, the next day, I had an all-day trip to Chapel Hill to wrap-up Rachel's medical stuff before our move. Rather than pay a sitter for watching Nathan all day (really--I was gone over 12 hours) and Hannah all afternoon, they had Grandma! I was so thankful to have help for this last, quite stressful, doctor's appointment. Nathan didn't remember Grandma at all, but he warmed up quickly and when I got home, all the kids were happy (a miracle!). We spent the next few days just playing together, shopping for Christmas, and trying to catch up on sleep. Grandma is a kindergarten teacher in Washington, and she brought some of her classroom activities to work on with the kids, which they loved. Dana was always ready to get down and play with the kids and she especially bonded with Aaron, who spent the whole two weeks being held, finally getting the attention a newborn needs.
Christian was originally supposed to return Sunday morning, but that got pushed back to Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, his connecting flight from India was in Chicago, and some of you may have heard about the problems O'Hare had just before Christmas. Christian's flight was cancelled, just like hundreds of other flights. The airport blamed it on the weather, but Christian said that the main problem was that people weren't showing up for work. Anyway, we started worrying that he wouldn't get home for Christmas Eve. After several hours of looking for flights, he decided to just go to a hotel for the night. On his way out of the airport, he decided to try one more time and found one seat left on a flight leaving that evening. The flight was, of course, delayed, but he did finally make it home by 5:00 the next morning. He hadn't slept in over 24 hours, so it was hard for him to stay awake for Christmas Eve.
In our family, Christmas Eve is supposed to be more spiritual-focused, while Christmas is just for fun. We started out the evening with caroling to a few families, then returned home for the traditional dinner of burgers, grilled pineapple, rice pudding, etc. Marc and Marcy drove down to spend a few hours of Christmas with us. After they arrived, dinner was cleared, and Christian had a short nap, we gathered around the tree for more singing and to read the Christmas story. The kids got to participate with a finger-puppet nativity given to us from Grandma last year. Then off to bed for the kids (and Christian, who by this time was feeling quite sick), while Mama and company helped Santa set up his things. That's my favorite part!Then Christmas morning! The kids actually slept in until 7:30, and were patient while all the adults woke up. We started out with stockings and Santa's gifts downstairs, then sampled the food left in the kitchen (yes, chocolate for the kid's breakfast. What can I say?). Santa leaves a meat and cheese buffet so we can snack all day and avoid cooking a real meal on Christmas. After that, we convened around the tree for the family presents, and took our time opening the remaining gifts. I love having lots of people around for Christmas! I was also pleased that my kids kept the fighting to a minimum. :)We felt so blessed (and spoiled) and thankful for all the friends and family we connected with this holiday season. Thanks for all the letters we received!