Friday, June 29, 2007
I hate being sick.
I started getting the sniffles over the weekend and by Monday morning, I had a raging sinus headache. Because I'm controlling hypertension with medication, I can't take any of those wonderful drugs that knock colds flat. I can take antihistamine and Tylenol. Which I did. Frequently. But to no avail.
Instead, for days, I just sat on the couch in a semi-reclining position holding my head and telling kids and dog to quiet down because "Mommy's got a headache!!!"
By Wednesday, I decided I needed to either get to the doctor or get better drugs at the pharmacy. A nice pharmacist came out from behind the counter, Kleenex at her own nose, and went over drug options with me. "Well," she said,"You could take this," and she pointed out a nice box costing $10, "Or you could take a medicine I have in the back that is basically antihistamine and Tylenol."
"Uh, but that's what I'm taking,"
"Well, then, I wouldn't buy it. You already have all the drugs you need."
"Do you suppose the antihistamine is drying me out?"
"That could very well be," she said, as she blew her nose,"Try this," and points to another $10 box of Mucinex.
"I have children's Mucinex at home. Can I take a bunch of those?"
She said I could and even took the time to figure out how many milligrams of the stuff I'd need to help me out. That night, I swigged four packets of bubblegum flavored granules of Mucinex -- and once that bubblegum flavor is gone that stuff is NASTY! But it was well worth it. By Thursday morning, I at last woke up with a nearly painless head, blessing the pharmacist and blessing God for allowing me to live another day.
I've avoided all antihistamine since and been blowing out all kinds of interesting material out of my nose ever since. (Aren't you glad to have read this fascinating account to this point?)
When my cold started, the on-line services were cut again. I didn't think we were behind on our payment, but I dragged my sorry self over to the bill pile and saw that we were indeed late and assumed that we'd been cut off for that. Did I remember that the same thing had happened last month, but we hadn't actually been cut off? Yeah, I remembered vaguely, through painful head-throbbing haze. Did I remember that our phone service was then lost for that amount of time? Oh, yeah, I did, but frankly didn't care because my head hurt too much to talk to anyone in the house let alone on the phone. Did I remember that last month, Kristofer, on a whim, decided to plug and unplug the Internet service and that suddenly we were on-line once more? Nope, didn't remember that at all. My head hurt too much.
Fast forward to today, where my head definitely feels more its actual size. A mild head ache, but I'm still blowing interesting chunks from my nose and thus not getting to the point where my head is about to explode. Feeling, in fact, like actually doing something in my life, like trying to get the Internet back without having to be on hold to our provider on the cell phone. Two minutes later . . . Internet service is back and so is our phone service. I am an amazing techno-wizard. : )
Tomorrow, I may resume stories of what's been going on with us, as soon as everyone is accounted for. I did have seven kids, right?
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Kristofer is moping around because all of his friends are either sick, unavailable or away. Poor baby. He's not bored, though. The instant he tells me he's bored, then he's got a few chores to take care of.
Kathleen and Kylie are at a friend's house at her pool.
Kade and Konner have just flown off to their friend's house to his pool.
Must be nice!
Then there's Keva. I'm going to have to check on her in a few minutes because her diaper undoubtedly needs to be changed. She's been sneaking upstairs lately to hang out. If she goes to the boys' room, nothing much happen. I found her yesterday spread across Konner's bed sound asleep a la Goldilocks. Perish the thought should she find her way into Keri Lynn's room. There she has done way too much damage already.
We had a thunder storm come through yesterday afternoon. All three of the boys were at the pastor's house down the road when it hit. (That's so fun to say.) Little did I know, until Amy (the pastor's wife called), that she wasn't there. I had just assumed that she was, but she wasn't. And all three of my boys were over there playing with her two boys. Oh dear. My first question to her, half joking/half not, "Is your house still standing?"
I've been mostly just reading and keeping the house from self-combusting from mess. I've been reading during the morning and early afternoon and then I go on a tirade throughout the house to make it look like I've been working real hard all day when Keith comes home. (Shhhh, our secret!)
I'll take a little trip to the library tomorrow, but I think I'm going to go by myself because I've got some business to take up with a certain librarian there. I owe over $40 on Keri Lynn's card. Here's the deal. I've always put all of our materials on my card. The two nice librarians would always override the system and ignore the rule about the number of books that ought to go on one card. It was easier for them and it was easier for me.
Then, the mean librarians got in on my card. The meanest librarian decided that I was Persona Non Grata and flagged my account because I had had too many charges forgiven to my account. What she didn't understand was that it had been the nice librarians who hadn't always checked all of my records for renewals, so those overdue charges had been forgiven a number of times through the months of November, December and January.
I didn't know any of this was a problem until I came in one Monday after Easter week to ask if three days worth of charges could be waved. This was the one time I'd asked for my own sake, not for the renewal issues. I was about to launch into my sob story about how we were involved with the Pageant at our church, I'd had company over and I'd painted my kitchen, but I didn't even have the opportunity to make anyone cry. There was no way three days worth of fines were going to be renewed, not when I'd been forgiven all those times in the previous months.
I was so flustered at being called out for these charges and given a little lecture about how "We don't make a habit of excusing overdue fines . . . " that I didn't know how to respond.
From then on, the meanest librarian had me in her sites. She made sure that only the number of books that were supposed to be on my card were put on my card. This meant that the rest of the kids needed to bring their cards out for the check-out time. So each time we would come to the counter now, we'd have to make sure that all of our cards were up to date and we hadn't forgotten anything. Gone were the good old days of carefree joking nice-librarian checkout times.
Now we come to the reason I'm giving you the sob story now. Last Friday, the meanest librarian called me, "Thought you'd like to know, Mrs. Johnson, that you're daughter's card has a $46 fine."
"What? Why didn't I get a notice?"
"Oh, we don't sent out notices, Mrs. Johnson. Would you like to come in today to take care of this?"
I then proceeded to explain to her that there'd been a mistake. I hadn't realized that there was anything on that card. I thought everything was on Kristofer and Kathleen's cards and mine. THOSE were all up to date. She was not moved, she was willing, though, to renew the items that were still out. Ack!
Ever since, I've been trying to figure out how I'm going to go in to the library to take care of this. I AM responsible for the things on that card. I SHOULD have made sure it was clear. But that particular card fell through the cracks of my poor little brain. I really don't think I should be held responsible for it. And I'm feeling not a little self-righteously angry about it. I think my whole library record speaks for itself. It's not a big thing in the grand scheme of things, and I'm certainly not going to go in yelling and screaming. And they may decide to go ahead and waive the fees anyway without a problem, but I keep anticipating some friction, especially if I have to deal with the meanest librarian.
Better check on Keva's diaper now! Oh, and Kody's just come in with peanut butter all over his back. Oh, no!
And here is Keva with her new fettish, chewing a sock. This time it's a clean sock, but usually it's not. It doesn't help that brothers like to leave their socks and shoes laying around. But for Keva, it's got to be a lot of fun because she does it ALL THE TIME. And what better way to enjoy Teletubbies, really, then with a disgusting sock.
How seriously hard you worked helping me BREATH through labor.
How your big capable hands held each precious baby, and how you looked at each one through bleary eyes that were both exhausted and emotional.
How you make sure the kids respect me.
How we're a team.
How you work so hard for us.
How you take all seven kids on trips to the park, the mall, Home Depot (Oh, yes, they LOVE that one!) just so that I can have some time to my self.
How you can send the kids off to clean their rooms and they do it!
How you remind me that some of the kids just may be old enough to do their own laundry!
How you show the boys what it means to be a man and how you show the girls what to look for in a man.
How you stay up talking with Keri Lynn until way past both of your bedtimes.
How when we go out together, just you and me, alone, that our favorite topic is our children.
How careful you are about what the kids put before their eyes.
How you become a big sop whenever military planes fly over.
How you take out those nasty splinters.
How you are the King of Silly Jokes.
How you admire your own father for reading to his family the Bible and for the way he got down on his knees. (Thank you, Stan -- with all my heart!)
How you lead us in song and prayer each night before bed.
How you love me.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
This month you turned 16.
All of your life, your Dad and I have been telling you that you cannot grow. We've threatened to cancel birthday parties. We've threatened to bring out the giant sledgehammer to shorten you up a bit. We've begged. We've pleaded.
But some things can't be denied.
Someday, we'll have to let you move on into adulthood. Even now, there is one word that keeps popping into my head when I think of you. Woman. The little girl days are gone. You're developing your own ideas, coming to grips with the world around you, learning more about your faith.
I look at you, and my breath is sucked out of me; I think you're so beautiful. And the thing is this. You're just as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. That's saying a lot, my girl.
People always say, "Wow! SEVEN kids?!" You've heard them. And you've heard me give the same answer, "Yeah, but the biggest shock is that first baby. It's the FIRST one that changes your life." And I look over at you with such pride, I can hardly stand it. You changed my life, Keri Lynn. By your very existence, you made me a less selfish, more loving human being. While you were cutting your teeth, I was cutting my maternal teeth on you, the guinea pig. Little did I know that all those 3/4 emptied jars of creamed corn, all those Cheerios stuck to the carpet, the hundreds and hundreds of pictures, phone calls to Poison Control, the boo-boo stick, play-dates with special friends, picture books, etc. would amount to THIS! A woman.
This year, several more families have started to depend on you for babysitting needs, most right here in our neighborhood. I've never heard one complaint. In fact, most pay a lot more than they need to just so they don't lose your services! You're making money hand over fist, and you give generously of your own accord to the church. You are a careful planner and administrator. You lay your clothes out the night before a big event. You do your own laundry. You keep track of important dates and help me in hundreds of different ways.
From the time you were a little thing, you've always been concerned about what you would be when you grew up. You decided when you were about eight years old that you would be a missionary. A missionary to China. Then, as you grew older, you realized that you would need to get a college education, so you started worrying about what would be the best educational path to take to help you accomplish your goal of being a missionary. You didn't want to be a nurse -- too squeamish. You weren't all that excited about becoming a teacher. Architect? Bible translator? Computer technician? The possibilities were endless. Then, just last month, a thought occurred to you. A pilot! That idea has thrilled you like few others have. You think that you just might become a pilot. Pilots can be an important part of missionary work. So we're in the process of looking for the best career path for you to achieve this goal.
My prayer for you, dear one, is that the Lord bless you as much as He has blessed me through you. I pray that He will bring to you a wonderful God-fearing husband with a heart for missions even stronger than yours. May He bless you with children who love the Lord. May the heritage of our faith continue through you and your family.
"Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindess to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments . . . " Deut. 7:9
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
But (here she takes a deep breath and resumes normal tones), now I'm back and ready to pound the keyboard again.
This week is VBS. Our second year of VBS here in the South. VBS in the South is an entirely different beast than it is on the West Coast. Entirely different beast. Four hours a day, for five days, with lots of energy and lots of kids. VBS is very big.
On Monday morning, I squeezed 13 of us into the van: Me (the chauffeur), my seven kids, four neighbor kids and one youth pastor's daughter. (Youth pastor and family have moved in down the street and we've already started a great carpooling system.) Anyway, several younger kids double-buckled and I just decided that since I haven't been pulled over by a policeman yet, I was just going to take my chances and head off with my whole crew to VBS! Whoo-hoo!
Everyone had a great time and everyone needed a NAP by the time we made it back home. Poor Konner fell asleep on the couch with a headache before he even got to eat his lunch, he was so exhausted. That might showcase the high energy that is VBS.
I am a helper for the 3-year-old class this year. They are so cute. Since I'm not one of their regular teachers for Sunday School, they weren't too sure about me at first, but we're getting to know each other. One of the kids looks so much like my niece Lola that I keep giving her a double-take to make sure it's not her. When Miss Beth does the Bible story, they always answer each of her questions with the same answer: "Jesus!" And I have to say that they're right 90% of the time. : )
Keri Lynn helps with the 4-year-old class. Kristofer helps in the sound booth for worship rallies. Keva has her own team of helpers again this year. Today, Miss Connie was taking her around to the various activities and Keva was having a ball. (She's napping in her room as I type this.) The rest of the kids are part of the VBS program. This is Kathleen's last year as a "kid". She's already anticipating being a helper for next year.
Keri Lynn is into a very busy phase of her summer. This week, she's helping in VBS, then she babysits for about four hours each afternoon for a neighbor at the end of our cul-de-sac. She's also preparing to go to choir tour starting Sunday. They'll be gone eight days to Washington D.C. So we're finishing up those last minute important details -- like finding one more pair of khaki shorts, stocking up on travel snacks, etc. Then, next month, is the missions trip to the Florida Keys. She's going to be seeing a lot of the country and I'm excited for her opportunities.
Friday, June 08, 2007
We got in line with a emergency supply (2-3 days of groceries) and Keri Lynn and Kathleen started unloading the everything onto the conveyor belt. I hadn't taken much notice that our cashier was a young man, until he started asking Keri Lynn and Kathleen how they were doing. Were they enjoying the beautiful day? Did we find everything we needed? All attentive and sweet and, well, there's no other way to describe it, flirty.
Never have I received such great service at the grocery store. And somehow, I don't think any of it had anything to do with me or even with Kathleen (as cute as she is.) It might have had a little to do with the tall 16-year-old blond next to me. Just maybe.
He made some kind of comment about how something rang up a lot less than it was supposed to and, if he could, he'd give it to us for that price or he would lose his job. I said, "You mean you're not just here for your looks?" And that led into a hilarious conversation about looks vs. smarts. Then, when I paid, I ran out of money and borrowed some from Keri Lynn, but not before asking, "If we smile, do we have to pay the rest?" And he said that he wished he could but (again) he would get fired, and he'd probably have a bad dream about running out of money, did that make us feel better? And all the while, I'm watching Keri Lynn beside me just as cool as a cucumber while this guy is essentially salivating all over the conveyor belt.
I then noticed that the other young man at the end of the conveyor belt who often bags my groceries was not even looking me in the eye like he usually does. He's usually a friendly sort, sweet, helpful. Not today. He was looking down at the bags and filling them up just as busy as can be, too scared to even look at the blond next to me. It was all I could do not to fall down in a fit of giggles right there on the floor.
However, I held back and let it all out in the car. I can't wait to go back to the grocery store again and see what kind of GREAT service I get for being the mother of the blond.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I guess it's a little bit of depression from some of the many things going on right now. I won't go into the details as yet, as they are not all mine to explain, but I am tired and I'm not getting enough sleep or exercise. We're all fine. No one is dying or anything, just a lot of decisions to be made. There. Did I peak everyone's interest?
I did get Keva up, bathed and dressed this morning just in the nick of time, though. If I had waited just a few minutes longer, diarrhea would have been everywhere. She's still suffering the last bits of this flu that we've all had. And it doesn't look very pretty and it doesn't smell very pretty. Let's just say that I will never look at guacamole the same way again after this particular bout.
Later, with a load of wash on "sanitary", I was writing in the living room, enjoying the quiet with the little boys off to play at their friends, Keri Lynn on a walk, Kristofer at the church learning how to operate the camera equipment, Kylie with a friend on a family outing, Kathleen off playing with friends . . . when I hear Keva giggling loud enough to beat the band.
I looked across to the family room to see her avidly watching Teletubbies. She was giggling so hard that I had to go get the camera. Keva watching her favorite show. Too cute. The pictures don't do it justice. You had to have been there to hear her.
It is times like these that are my reward for Keva, when she lights up at things and brings joy to life. When people first meet her, there are always the inevitable first questions as they try to understand who she is. I generally am happy to answer these questions, especially from little kids, but it's hard for a lot of people to understand the blessings that she brings to our family. Each blessing, seemingly small when compared to a blessing of a normal child, gets socked away in our hearts with compound interest.
For example, a few nights ago at bedtime, I went into Keva's room to once again turn off her lights. Each night, it's the same thing, ever since she figured out how to turn the light switch off and on. I'd tuck her in, give her a special prayer and turn off the lights and shut the door. Every single time I'd walk by her room after that, the light would be on again. I'd peak in at her and there she'd be in her bed sound asleep, blankets askew. Then, I'd tuck her in again and turn off the light for the final time.
Two days ago, not only had she turned her lights back on, but she'd brought both pillow and blanket to the foot of her door to camp out. Her head was completely on her pillow and her blanket completely on her -- ALL BY HERSELF! Do you understand how much logical comprehension and coordination that takes to take two objects such as pillow and blanket to another location and put one's self to bed? I squealed for Keith and Keri Lynn, who were chatting in the other room, to come and see, and they were equally impressed with Keva's prowess!
Then, another time, I asked Keva to give me a hug. It's always the same thing. I ask. She stands there. I lift her arms around my neck and I give her a big squeeze. She usually laughs and enjoys the hug but never participates. This time, I asked for a hug and she came over wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug. I was stunned.
"Keva! You gave me a hug! I'm so proud of you!"
I then announced it to everyone else. Kids shrugged. Keith wasn't home to lend me the full appreciation I needed from a parent! But it was a huge joy none the less!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Eight things about me:
1) I love memes where I get to wax eloquently about myself. I've discovered that I must be maybe just a little egocentric . . . a little . . . um . . . yeah.
2) I love babies. Whenever I see one at the grocery store, at the park, or wherever, I gravitate to the little one and get them to smile at me. I can ALWAYS get them to smile at me. If you have to travel with a small child in an airplane, you want me sitting next to you! My favorite part of a baby is that cute crease of skin between chubby hand and chubby arm that's supposed to be their wrist. Adorable!
3) I LOVE teenagers. I think that I love teenagers more than babies, because even though I have seven kids, I was never much for the baby/toddler stages. It's a lot of work and babies are fun when you don't have to change their diaper or give them a bath or get up in the middle of the night to feed them. I was constantly warned as the kids were/are growing up, "Just wait until they become (gasp!) teenagers!" But I do love talking with my teenagers. I love discussing tough subjects -- politics, abortion, euthanasia, cults -- whatever comes into our lives -- I love to see the lights come on as they learn to measure the world.
4) I'm a loner. I prefer to go out and do things by myself. I married an extrovert and that alone has helped me find a little balance -- that and having seven kids. It's very hard to be a loner with seven kids. Anyway, one of my favorite things to do is to go out all by myself for dinner and a movie. Maybe this has a little bit to do with #1?!? Also I could read books all day long and be perfectly happy. Keith was not especially pleased when I brought a couple of books along on our honeymoon!
5) Two parts of my psyche are in constant war with each other: laziness and perfectionism. I am the world's champion procrastinator, because I would rather sit and read a book, write, watch TV (sometimes all at the same time) than do things that I'm supposed to be doing.
6) Throw in some intense competitive spirit. I LOVE to win. Some of my worst marital strife has been from my temper flaring when I lost a game. I love family games of Risk, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Boggle. If it's competitive, I'm in! And I'm getting to be a better sport. Really! Especially when I win -- after I wipe off my smug expression of exultation.
7) Unfortunately, I've also got a temper -- which is often related to LOSING. Or when kids are misbehaving. It is something I constantly have to work on. I can be patient (at least on the outside) for hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, but inside something may be brewing and waiting for just that moment when I explode! Then watch out! And it's always with the kids, hardly ever with friends. I can't tell you how many people have said to me, "But, Jackie, you're so patient!" And I always say, "If you think I'm patient, then just ask my kids." Sigh. It's all a facade!
7) Someday, when the kids are grown, I want to further my education in psychology. I would love to be a counselor. They say that most psychologists and psychiatrists enter their field because they need help themselves. Hmmmm.
8) Turning 40 was emotionally scarring. I didn't think I'd ever get THAT old. I had a much easier time turning 41, though.
I'd love to hear eight things about YOU! If you have a blog, and you're reading this, consider yourself "tagged". If you don't have a blog, leave me a comment about your eight things. I'd love to hear from you.
The Chauffeur with the birthday girl. He was such a great driver! Friendly, sweet, handsome!
There they go! Have fun! Don't eat too much popcorn. (Ooops, forgot that last bit of advice!)
I've been having a time with bills and electronic equipment. Our Internet service got cut off, so I checked our bill, and sure enough, we were a little late. Big sigh. Our budget wouldn't allow for a new payment until the following week, so the laptop sat silent and lonely, and the phone was off, because (of course) since we've switched to Vonage if anything happens to our Internet connection, our phone services are affected. However, the joy of paying a $20 phone bill over a $60-70 phone bill far outweighs that little problem.
While financial woes plagued us, Keith fiddled with the wireless connection of the laptop to see if we could go on-line that way. We could. Sort of. I could go on-line again, but I couldn't sign in to anything or send email. So I went off to the the library computers when it came time to get caught up with the Internet -- at LAST able to connect with the outside world again!
That's when I found out that all this time, we could have still be hooked up, that we had NOT been disconnected for lack of payment after all, but something had just happened to our connection. A little push of a button on their end and we were back in business! Sort of.
Because NOW, since Keith had been fiddling with the wireless connection, the laptop kept defaulting to the non-existent wireless server. So I still couldn't get on line! AHHHHHH! Help me!
But now, our phone service is finally connected again. Our computer is finally REALLY back on line. I'm finally really able to send an actual email! It's amazing!
Today, Kristofer and Kathleen are on their way to a Braves game along with about 150 of the youth group. Keri Lynn would have gone if she had not already committed to a babysitting job. (She's really bummed, but I'm proud of her for showing strength of commitment.)
As for me, I'm still recuperating from the weekend. We had our very first ever yard sale on Saturday snug in the middle of a nice little 12-hour flu bug that made its way to just about every member of the family in pretty short order. Saturday morning, I still had not succumbed, and got to be the one sitting out the whole morning making the big sales while Keith cleaned up Keva's vomit and watched over Keri Lynn, Kristofer and Kathleen who lay around the family room looking very pathetic.
We're good at that -- looking pathetic. We often have contests. Which one of us will win Most Pathetic. It's stiff competition.
Keith was the only one to make it to church the next day. He was scheduled to sub for our regular teacher. By the end of that Saturday, I was feeling a little woozy myself, breaking the very firm Mommy Rule: Mommies do NOT get sick. So I stayed home with the rest of the sickies. Keith must have looked truly pathetic at church, because one of the the families in our Sunday School class came by with some delicious chicken soup, muffins and fruit salad for the lot of us for dinner that night. Thank you so much, Connie! That was the BEST!
I needed some good fast recuperation time on Sunday, and so did Keri Lynn, because Monday was her very big, long-planned, highly anticipated Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party. Four girls joined her on Monday afternoon in their formal gowns and Keith wore his tux shirt and chaperoned them all to go see Pirates 3. Then, they came back for dinner. Kathleen was a huge help as assistant housekeeper, chef, waitress and bottle washer. Keith hid out during dinner in his room, and I had to shoo the little kids out to go play outside so they weren't all doing cartwheels in front of the guests. Keva had to stay in her room for a while to keep the flowers and the cake safe. Kody had to stay in the basement because, well, he's Kody.
I can't tell you how beautiful Keri Lynn looked. Keith and I had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that we have a sixteen-year-old daughter. Old people have sixteen-year-olds. Not us. No, definitely not us.