Warning: This is one of those notes for those with stronger stomachs. If you are about to eat, in the process of eating, or if it is easy for you to "lose your lunch", go ahead and skip this one. You have been warned!
It's Monday. As it is with most Mondays, it's hard to get going first thing in the morning. It's made even harder when a certain smell is detected emanating from a certain child's room. The 16-year-old "youngest" one who likes to save up so that she can blow out her diaper. She is not regular in taking care of business. It's usually saved up over a period of three or four days, sometimes a week. So when she goes, it's a big stinky mess. It's even worse if the deed has been done early in the evening and gone undetected throughout the night. Then, we have caked on mess, mess that has seeped through onto clothes and bedding and carpet. The worst messes are the ones involving the need to pull out the steam cleaner. Sigh.
Fortunately, this mess this morning was not as bad as it could have been, but it would have been better if I'd had the time to get her in the bath before sending her off to school. There was no time for that, so she had to be cleaned up via about a thousand baby wipes and hand gloves. Thank God for baby wipes and hand gloves! Still, it was pretty bad.
I find that it is best to just forget about everything else, put aside "ME" and take care of my sweet but stinky girl. I almost always pray as I dive into the task. Lest any of you think that I am being so very godly and amazing about it, think again. I don't like cleaning up a mega stinky diaper. I wish I could hire someone else to do it. However, the Lord has a way of molding us and making us better people, because as I put aside "ME", I start looking at Keva as if she were "ME". That is the secret of how I deal with The Diaper. I look at her and I picture me in her place. I am the one laying in the bed in my own filth, helpless to do anything about it. I am the one facing any kind of complaint or bad attitude. I am uncomfortable and sore and have been so for several hours.
Then, as I start to the task looking at Keva as if she were "ME", my attitude shifts and I just want to get her cleaned up and comfortable again. My movements are gentle and loving. I start to sing a song to relax her and give us both something to do while I use one wipe after another to remove the mess. I no longer smell the yuckiness. And, as finally the job is completed, I start to feel a bit of accomplishment. The job is done and I don't have to worry about it anymore. In fact, I begin to be thankful that she did not have diarrhea, that she is able to move around with good muscle tone and not stuck in a bed or wheelchair, thankful that her health is robust not fragile, that her lifespan is nearly normal, that she adds to our family an opportunity to serve and love.
Through this, I have followed the Lord's command to love others as I love myself. And then, through loving others, I learn more to love Jesus.
It's been a rough month for us. Lots of changes, lots of decisions, lots of pulling up by our bootstraps to get what we need done.
After several years of struggling to stay afloat financially with our house, we finally had to step away. It's been very painful in a lot of ways. We had big plans for our wonderful house. We loved the neighborhood. We wanted to finish the basement. The kids were established in their schools. I was finished with my Master's program through LaGrange College and anticipating getting a real job! But we just couldn't hang on anymore.
As is God's way, His timing is beautiful. Our church offered Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University right as we were trying to figure out what to do about the house. We decided to downsize and cut expenses to the best of our ability. We were already at pretty much bare bones with other expenses, but the class really helped us to get ourselves together and have FOUR garage sales over the course of the next month. This, in turn, helped us with the expense of moving. We are, in fact, still selling stuff through Craigslist. I finally was able to start subbing just a few weeks ago. And we found a much smaller townhouse to rent and are expecting to cut our utilities in half. Even though our rent is the same as our mortgage was, we will no longer be responsible to pay for anything if it breaks down. We do not have to keep up our yard; that is done for us. We are very close to the freeway for Keith's work and central to the entire county for wherever I'm subbing. The kids are adjusting to new schools, and Kathleen continues to homeschool.
We are thankful for God's provision yet again in a fast paced crazy world!
Now, if we can just get finished with the moving, I will be very happy. I can tell you all that when I packed up in a certain area of the house and take things away, I would come back and there would be MORE stuff to pack up than there was before. I tell you this is completely true. I cannot believe how long this process is taking. Part of the problem was that the house was a disaster when we moved. I had just finished 14 months straight of school and before that six months of a new baby and before that nine months of a pregnancy in which nothing of any productivity (aside from gestation) was accomplished! Now, I'm paying the piper. I have been throwing out bags and bags of trash and boxing up boxes and boxes of things to go to Goodwill (hoping that Goodwill will even want it). The garage at our old house is stuffed with things that need to go to Goodwill. And even as I unpack and put things away here at our townhouse, I am piling up trash and stuff to go to Goodwill. It's crazy!
In all of this, I'm supposed to be finishing up that online class to get my certification to teach at long last. But I'm not wanting to talk about that right now.
Instead, I will write about Thanksgiving. I am so looking forward especially to this Thanksgiving, as we will have our two college kids home for the first time since August! We all miss them so much! Maybe it's because of all the change, but I'm greatly looking forward to having all my chicks under the same roof once again, even though the roof is a different one. Can't wait to hear about their adventures!
I got so much done in just one hour this morning: cleaned out the ENTIRE laundry room and got two loads of laundry done, kept Little Man entertained by letting him "help" sort clothes and open and close the laundry room door, cleaned out stuff in the refrigerator, and started dinner in the crock pot. One hour. If I could get that much done every hour, I would have OCD for sure!
Keith has this week off, but since I still don't have a job, we are once again doing the staycation. Kids are all doing school anyway. So strange to hear other parts of the country gearing up for their start of school when we've been at it for nearly a month already. There is plenty to do at home with various neglected projects, such as organizing the laundry room and things like that. It is also cooling down just a tiny bit, which makes working on stuff a lot easier. Only 79 degrees this morning. Still, sweat was dripping off my nose while I worked in the laundry room.
Little Man is growing like a weed. He uses no words, only jabbers in his own language. He is very investigative. He adores going upstairs to see what is going on there. He loves the dog food bowls. He likes to put his toys in containers and then dump them all out again. He especially likes to be chased down the hall. And he likes to tell the dog "Doh, doh!" That would be "No, no!" in Keegan-speak. Lately, he's been getting up much earlier than usual -- 7:45 -- as opposed to 10:00 am, which was really nice! And he's also down to one 2 1/2 to 3 hour nap after lunch. One other very nice thing about him is that he doesn't mind being in the highchair or pack-n-play for about an hour. All the rest of the time he's in fast forward, streaming from one mess to another, trying desperately to kill himself. So glad he hasn't succeeded!
Productivity has been hit or miss for me this week. I have been so distracted. Because I am both a procrastinator and a bit of a perfectionist, when I don't have a plan laid out that absolutely has to get done, I usually do not do anything. I am in a state of limbo that is starting to kind of get me down. No job, financial strain, and lots of extra hours in the day to really get some things done around the house and with my on-line class. Because there are so many options of things to do, I end up not doing anything because I want to get them ALL done. Does this make sense? At all? Or does this only make sense to the perfectionistic procrastinators out there?
I'm trying to change some of this, though, and take advantage of some opportunities that have come our way. Keith and I will be going to our first Financial Peace University meeting tonight being held at our church. It's a 13 week course. It fills us both with equal amounts of hope and dread, if that makes any sense either.
In other news, I joined choir last night. I've always wanted to join choir, but didn't feel right about leaving the kids in the pew for too long at a time on Sunday mornings, particularly Keva. However, I think Keva is behaving pretty well these days. We still don't have a car to take us all to church in one trip, but I've got to get over the inconvenience of that and just be ready earlier so that we can take the double trips back and forth. Lately, I've found myself just staying home with Keva and Keegan and letting Keith take the rest of the kids to church, but I've been missing out. Time to get back on the wagon! So when I went to choir practice last night, I discovered that I am way out of my league with the whole singing thing. I barely know how to read notes, let alone sing them. I'm going to sit next to the ones that can, though, and pretend!
One of the many benefits of being home these days is that I am here to help Kathleen with her first year back in homeschool. She has been able to breeze through everything but math, and I've been able to help her (miraculously) with some issues that she's come across. I am so impressed with her tenacity. She's going to need it when I do eventually go back to work because Little Man is a handful and a half. He is into everything. Fortunately, he takes good naps, and I think that's when Kathleen is going to need to do her math work!
I have been quite successfully avoiding doing my on-line course work. It's just more than I want to do. Unfortunately, I am really sabotaging myself for future job prospects. I'm going to need to line up a plan of attack and get myself going again. This course needs to get done soon! And the way I'm dealing with it is like it's some kind of disease that I'm avoiding. Sigh.
I've also been working on a Bible study blog. I haven't opened it up yet for friends and family, but I'm excited about the possibilities. As I've been preparing it, I am once again blown away by how rich and deep Scripture is. I am humbled to be loved by the Creator of the Universe.
I talked to Kristofer yesterday on facebook video chat. We were chatting the regular way, typing and waiting for each other's replies, when he told me that he was going to try to hook us up to video chat. Before I knew it, I was talking with my boy face to video screen face! He had such a sweet broad smile on his face that it was all could do to not burst into tears. I am such a sap! There is something very sweet about seeing the countenance of those we love! Can't wait to try it with other family and friends!
I've got dinner simmering in the crock pot. I am continually looking for good, easy, quick, cheap recipes. There really aren't too many that fit all of those criteria, but I come close a lot of the time! Tonight, I threw in dry macaroni, two big cans of spaghetti sauce, a couple pounds of browned beef, caramelized onion, and two cups of mozzarella. It smells good! I did kind of forget to add in the rest of the macaroni half way through the couple of hours of planned cooking time, so I put it in just now with a little more water to assure moisture and some more cheese (because there is no such thing as too much cheese!) It smells heavenly!
I've been busy catching up with a lot of things around the house. Mostly, I've been cleaning and organizing in preparation for a cyber garage sale! No getting up at ungodly hours of the morning. No pricing and putting out things that people have no interest in buying. Just taking pictures and posting it on Facebook, Craig's List and maybe a local web site. I love technology!
Today is Kristofer's last full day at home. Keith and I will take him early tomorrow morning to school. He's been packing all week. And Kylie continues to drool over his room. She's planning to move in after she comes home from school on Friday. I think we'll all be relieved because she's been talking about it nonstop for MONTHS!
We paid the housing deposit late for Kristofer's room at school because things are so tight right now. But we eventually got it in and were gathering up the next bit of money to put towards his room deposit when we got a call from Georgia Southern saying that they had too many students and there was no space for Kristofer any longer on campus. He was free to find a place off campus until temporary housing became available. He was number 11 on a list of 100 displaced students. I talked to the head of housing who assured me that he would do everything he could to get Kristofer into a room on campus. A week went by and we were wondering what was going to happen. If we could barely scrape together enough money for the deposit, how were we going to be able to scrape up money for an apartment (with first and last and all of that!) before the beginning of school in just a couple of weeks?
Then, we got the fabulous news that the school had made room for a number of students in an activity center on campus. They were very vague about the set-up, but frankly none of us, especially Kristofer, cared because now he was on campus and going to school for sure! We looked on the school map and saw that the building where he would be staying was right there in the center of campus, even near one of the cafeterias! What more could a young collegiate ask for!
Another notification came by email a week later. Kristofer had been assigned a real dorm room with a real roommate! Not only did he no longer have to sleep in some activity center with who knows how many other students, he was set up in one of the nicest residence halls at the school. Keith called it "The Cadillac of dorm spaces" when the two of them went to orientation last month. In fact, his exact quote was, "Kristofer will not get The Cadillac, he's going to wind up in A Pinto," which was actually fine with us, as long as he got to go to school! However, this was not to be. On top of that, when Kristofer looked up his roommate's name, he recognized it as a young man from our church! What were the odds of that? As Andrew, his new roommate said, a 1 out of 5000 chance! (Did I mention that Georgia Southern is a big school?) After Keri Lynn's adventures with some very "interesting" roommates, we are very thankful for this most recent development.
So my oldest son will soon be off on his own. I look forward to seeing him on facebook, though, as I do Keri Lynn. He has been ordered to take LOTS OF PICTURES! He's mentioned that he'd like to volunteer for the newspaper at school to take pictures! That would be really cool! So many opportunities out there for a very talented young man!
I'm afraid that my youngest one will be off to college too soon, too. But for now, Little Man is spending his days smearing oatmeal on his face, throwing items down the hall to see which ones make the most noise, and jabbering who knows what. I'm content with that!
Kristofer turns 18 today! Time to shoot another arrow from our quiverful out into the world.
Keith and I will be taking Kristofer to Georgia Southern on Friday. Such a bittersweet time. The excitement of independence. A brand new year of school done in a completely different way than he's ever studied before. Cafeteria at his beck and call practically every hour of the day! Pools. Fitness center. Health care. And we'll have to say good-bye for several months, resting in the knowledge that we have encouraged him to walk closely with the Lord in all that he does.
Today was our last summer weekday. School starts on Monday. I've actually enjoyed a full two and half weeks of summer myself. I've blown off my online course during this time, which really has to get done SOON, but it sure has been nice to not have to do anything related to school.
Well, sort of. I've just been doing everything related to school for EVERYONE ELSE. There's Keri Lynn's issue with her financial aid in which she accidentally added a zero to our income for 2009 and she's been having to do extra paperwork for school ever since. This time, due to my procrastinating ways, she has had to do a lot of extra work -- sorry, baby! Then, Kristofer, because money is tight, was not signed up right away for housing. We were told last week that he would need to find off campus housing -- too many incoming freshmen and not enough room for everyone. Seven days of angst later, and we've just found out that they are making room for him and some 100 of his closest freshmen friends in all sorts of odd places. He now has temporary housing in what is usually an activity room. Um, should be interesting, but at this point, I am not complaining AT ALL and neither is he!
This year is also the return to homeschool for Kathleen. She has been wanting to homeschool again for a long time and we finally decided that the time was right. We've now got books ready and a semi-homeschooling plan in place. It's odd for her, though, with many of her friends getting ready to go to school and she's not. I think she's missing the excitement, but I think she will enjoy the peace that is homeschool soon enough. It doesn't hurt that several of her close friends also homeschool.
Since I am, as yet, unemployed, I'll be able to give her my full homeschool attention. This is a real treat, in that she will be just one student! I can cater to her learning needs like crazy. We might start off with spelling. Ahem.
Keva can't wait to start back to school. She has been driving me crazy these last few weeks. All she wants to do is throw food and dirty laundry all around the house. I clean and in comes Keva, swooping in like a hawk, to take care of any attempt at tidiness. It's very discouraging for this messy who has been trying to get the house back in order after 14 months of school and newborn and maternity months before that! Then I remember that she can feed herself, walk around herself, dance and hug and laugh herself, and is generally a sweet girl who brings our family such joy.
Kylie and Kade are also excited about school starting. Kylie is excited about having a "man teacher" on her team, but very disappointed that her best friend is not even on the same team. Maybe they'll see each other when they try out for sports -- this is the big year when Kylie can start competing at the school level. The kids have been organizing their school supplies and pushing me out the door to get more school supplies. Kylie right this minute is stressing out about needing brad fastener file folders. Konner is mildly anticipating school, but would just as soon roam free and go to sleepovers practically every night, like he has this whole summer.
Keegan is going to wonder what happened to everyone when Monday morning hits our house. At least Kristofer will be here for a few weeks more before he deserts on the 19th. Sigh.
The house is a complete and utter disaster. And by disaster, I do not mean that dishes are piled everywhere and laundry has overrun the house, even though both statements are true. I mean that every nook and cranny could use a little love and attention. It would be so much better for my state of mind to simply start cleaning and to get kids to help me clean, but that would take EFFORT. And I don't want to put out any effort! I am so done with dong anything productive!
So I'll write this email instead.
I am already done with one week of school. This is the easy part of summer sessions. Mornings only, three days a week. In July, I'll be in class every weekday until July 20th and then I'll be DONE! Minus one more on-line course that needs to be done for certification but not for getting my Master's degree. I am very excited about getting it done, especially after the months' long scare about whether or not I'd be able to afford those last summer classes! God has been so very gracious in His provision.
Keri Lynn is well entrenched in her life in Japan. She stays busy with street evangelism, English classes and homeless ministries. I love keeping up with her life on facebook. She recently posted pictures and a video of a street she crosses every day, an intersection that is called the busiest intersection in the entire world! I'm so glad that she's able to experience this time in Japan, but more importantly, I love to hear her learning and growing in the Lord. Keith told me, last time he "chatted" with her on facebook that our girl is grown up. I think he may be right.
Next week, we'll be heading into VBS week at our church and I've got to figure out how we're going to work that out with my school schedule and the fact that we truly are down to one car. I carpool with my friend to get back and forth from school and Keith drives the truck to work. The van sits in our driveway trying vainly to look pretty. Instead, it just comes off as its usual creepy self. The Creepy Kidnapper Van. Kind of sad, really.
I am actually contemplating the notion of having Keith get a motorcycle so that we can have two vehicles again. The economy does not look like it's going to get better any time soon and a motorcycle may be our only alternative, as much as I hate the idea of it. Even Kristofer and Kathleen like the idea of motorcycles. We have hung tough on our plan to let the kids figure out how they'll be getting their own transportation. If they want a car to drive, they have to figure out how to pay for it and pay for insurance. So far, it hasn't happened. Makes it a little inconvenient as the family chauffeur, but people need to go where people need to go.
Speaking of needing to go, I had talked briefly about doing a Bible study at my house. That was before the opportunity of school came back into the picture. Time is very limited once again. However, I'm thinking of starting an Internet Bible study! Anyone interested? I'm going to post some scripture to read and questions to answer and (if I can figure out how to do it for free) get either a website or a blog with thread commenting. If you don't know what threads are, those are the comments where someone can comment on a specific comment, not necessarily on the post itself, thus making it easier to follow any dialog on one particular subject or thread. I think I want to start with one of my favorite people. Elijah. I don't know when I'll get it off the ground, but it should be fairly soon. I've got to get ready for a midterm on Wednesday and a presentation on Friday, and then I'll have a little more wiggle room!
My, how things change in 24 hours. I learned this afternoon that I will be able to complete my Master's program this summer after all. The financial aid office informed me that there were enough MAT students short of funds to offer extended student loans. As much as I hate getting into more debt, I very much appreciate being able to get a teaching job sooner rather than later! At any rate, I am so excited about this development!
So on Monday, it will be off to school again! With Keri Lynn in Japan for a month and Kristofer and Kathleen on choir tour for a week, it will be up to Kylie to hold down the fort on the days I'm gone. Fortunately, it will be only two to three days each week in June. She is a remarkably good babysitter. Keegan absolutely adores her. It also helps that both he and Keegan sleep in until at least 9:00 most mornings. As long as I keep the pantry full, things should be fine! It's a little scary just how much the kids eat in the summer time.
Kylie and I went on our third walk tonight. We saw lightening bugs and an armadillo ambling along a neighbor's yard. By then, Kade had joined us and both Kylie and Kade wanted to see it up close. I've seen plenty of armadillos before but they've always been road kill. However, I was not in any big hurry to see one up close live and personal like that, and I wasn't too keen on the kids doing so either! In fact, when we got back from our walk, I told the kids to please be sure they closed the garage as I knew for sure that thing would wind up in our garage if we didn't because that's what seems to happen to me. And I would be the one to find it in there!
It's still cool in the evening, but it won't stay this comfortable for long. The days are most definitely HOT. The kids welcome any pool time they get in the neighborhood. They just have to be sure they apply liberal amounts of sunscreen.
In other news, I want to start a Bible study for ladies and teen ladies, hopefully this summer. At first, I wanted to start one for the ladies and one for the teens, but time prevents that. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of putting us all in one group. I think it's important for women to have women mentors at any age. In general, I think that we divide ourselves up by age too much. There is much to be learned from those older than us and much to give whatever age a woman is to a group of women. I'm hoping I'll be able to get enough people interested to do the Bible study.
I also do not have a particular plan for topic of the Bible study. I'm going to leave it up to the group to pick a part of the Bible to study then we're going to use scripture to study scripture. I LOVE studying scripture this way. I also want to memorize scripture as a group. Once this is all underway, I plan to put it on a blog, so that anyone who is interested in joining in on the Bible study can do so.
I had a bit of a pity party for myself for a while yesterday and today. I want to finish up school so badly. The goal is so close, but hope is slipping away for getting it done this summer. In the meantime, I need to figure out what I'm going to do this summer and going into the fall and QUICK.
On a positive note, I am enjoying being home again especially with the kids home from school. I enjoy having time. What a luxury! Time to plan and cook meals. Time to write these notes. Time to work on much neglected projects.
I've started short walks. I'm trying to make it as non-exercise like as possible. I just want to enjoy a little walk. So far, Kylie has joined me both times that I've gone walkabout. I don't even change clothes to go. Since I'm just wearing my grubbies, it's not a big deal. I just wear my flip flops and out I go. I timed it tonight and it's a grand total of 15 minutes, which is even more than I thought it was going to be. So I'm pretty proud of myself for that!
Mrs. Collins, our neighbor in Los Angeles, always went out on a daily walk. She was in her 80s and in great health. I was always so impressed with her. So I'm going to attempt to emulate Mrs. Collins!
We had a peaceful Memorial Day today. I am so thankful for the freedom afforded to us because of the ultimate sacrifice of so many.
Keith grilled hot dogs and warmed up some chili and we sat down to watch a Braves game. with delicious chili dogs. Very relaxing. I also worked on a crochet project. I finished up a cute scarf. It was a new pattern, so it was interesting to see how it would come out. Kathleen liked it so much that she wanted me to make her one, but in a different color. The one I did was too "old person" colored for her! I liked the color, which of course clinched it for Kathleen -- "old person" colored. It's always kind of weird to work on crochet projects because they are usually cold weather items like scarves, gloves and slippers. Not anything I am even remotely interested in wearing now, but if I can do a little every day, I'll have a good supply of Christmas gifts ready to go. This is my mantra every year, but I don't usually get it going until well into October!
We also played cards, the second time in two days. Kylie has become quite the card shark with the confidence to carry it through. She whupped us all yesterday. We had to talk a little about good sportsmanship when you're winning for those of us who weren't doing quite as well! Playing games are such a good way to teach character to our kids. I still work on it myself since I'm so competitive. I hate to lose and i hate to play with people who don't care if they win or lose. To the death, people! To the death! Well, maybe not that extreme.
I am seriously looking into the whole Coupon Thing. I want to be the crazy coupon lady that holds up the lines with her two or three stuffed carts and pays $2.73 for it all. This is a big turn around for me. I have always bought generic and bulk, lots of bulk. I usually spend very little and keep meals relatively simple. However, as I've looked further into the whole Coupon Thing (as I call it), I've been more intrigued. It's almost like a game. Get groceries only when they are already on sale and use the manufacturer's coupon (doubled) along with the store coupon to make these items significantly lower. I like it.
I really like Southern Savers and will use that system to start out. I have a feeling it will be a lot like homeschooling where I'll just over time develop my own system of getting it done. For now, I'm enjoying going to YouTube and blogs and internet sites and watching successful coupon clippers get great deals on various items. I don't think I'll be quite as tenacious or crazed as some of them appear to be because that is not in my nature, but I can be methodical. And I do love to plan!
The kids are enjoying summer vacation already. Their last day was Friday. Already kids have been to various end-of-school parties, a little camp-out in someone's backyard, swimming at a neighbor's pool and playing in our own sprinklers. It is HOT. This is yet another reason why I'm feeling the need to coupon. The kids' appetites are something to behold!
As I write this, Keri Lynn is in the air on her way to Narita International Airport in Japan. After two false starts, she finally got a winner, and is seated business class to boot. She started off at 6:00 am this morning headed off to the airport here in Atlanta and she won't be getting into Japan until 5:00 this morning, our time. That's nearly 24 hours of travel. She's going to be bushed. We are so very thankful for our flight benefits, even so. Sure is nice to hop a plane anywhere whenever we need to go. It's a bit hairy sometimes getting on a flight, especially when it's all of us, but if we didn't have flight benefits, we'd never get to go anywhere!
It looks like I won't be able to complete my Master's this summer as I had hoped. We've simply run out of funds. Things were starting to look tight financially as we headed into the spring semester and they just got tighter. So we head into Plan B with a lot of mixed feelings.
Since I'm not done with the Master's program, I won't get my certification and I won't be able to get a job as a teacher in a public school yet. This is the most disappointing part of the whole deal since the whole idea was to have a decent paying job to be able to begin paying back school loans! Oh, the pain!
As always, though, God has it all in His hands. So we're starting to look at other options, such as teaching at possibly teaching at a Christian school (which I would LOVE) or even branching out and teaching children whose parents want them to be homeschooled. I would be a tutor of sorts. I've thought of this option before but did not have the confidence to pull it off. I do now! If I can handle a group of eighth graders, I think I could handle just about any group of kids.
This will also make the transition for Kathleen easier if I'm staying at home. She'll be homeschooling next year. She's been wanting to homeschool for years. Now I think she has the determination and independent attitude to make it work, particularly if I'm not there during the day. It also helps that she's got several very close friends that homeschool. She enjoys the comradery and I enjoy that she has such great friends!
All of this leads to another great ramification. Keegan doesn't have to go into daycare. He can stay home with just his sister, or with his sister and me. We'll see how everything pans out, but whether I somehow get a job as a teacher or end up teaching right in my own home, Keegan won't have to go to daycare. This is such a load off of my mind!
Then, hopefully, we'll have enough money, or be in a position to at least finance the rest of my classes next summer. Then, there also might be more jobs by then as well. Teaching positions are slim pickings these days.
With all that has been burdening my heart lately, I have been praying more. That is the way of things, isn't it? Life gets difficult, and there is only one true Provider. Nothing has really changed except that the fear is now gone. The Lord has always been faithful in His provision. Year end and year out, He is faithful. So why do I get anxious? There is no good reason, so I have chosen once more to give all the worries back to Him.
Now that I'm not worrying so much, I'm getting busy with getting more things done around the house. However, in a house where 10 people reside, housekeeping is usually a two steps forward, one step back affair. For instance, last night I put in a load of laundry and somehow mistakenly put in one of Keva's pull-ups. It's really amazing just how much water a pull-up can retain. It is equally amazing just how messy a pull-up can be once it has retained a lot of water. It is not pretty. Also, now that Keegan is home all the time now, he spends a great deal of his free time trying to break out of his prison called the family room. Since he's stuck in there, he makes the best of things by dumping out all his toys all over the floor and then standing on his overturned toy box. I've had to start spanking his little hinie for getting up on dangerous spaces. He doesn't like that one bit, but then again, he wouldn't like getting his head cracked open either so I'm okay with a few crocodile tears.
The kids have one more week of school left. Kristofer will graduate on Thursday and is looking forward to his college days at Georgia Southern. The little kids are starting to really get on his nerves! I saw the same thing happen with Keri Lynn when she was about to break free from the nest. In fact, it's not unlike Keegan breaking free from the evil family room. He goes running like his head is on fire! O, the joy of independence! Before college starts, though, Kristofer will have to get through summer. He's going to be busy with the senior trip and then the usual choir tour, VBS and Camp Sonshine. I have an eerie feeling that summer will go by in a flash! I'm really going to miss that boy!
It's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster lately with Keri Lynn and her trip to Japan. For a while there, it looked like she wasn't going to be able to go because she wasn't able to gather together enough funds. We cried together and we prayed together. I went to bed feeling so sad for her. Meanwhile, she went to bed after typing a message to the missionaries she will be working with. Could she go for a partial time? That hadn't even occurred to me as an option and here, lo and behold, they were able to make changes in her itinerary to accommodate her for a full 40 days. Not quite the full summer she had planned, but 40 days is nothing to sniff at! We are all very thankful for this development and for the opportunity this affords her. Her plane leaves May 25, just a scant week away!
And here I sit typing away and working on all the odds and ends that have been gathering while I've been busy with school. My heart is heavy for my own opportunities this summer. I'm not sure if we'll be able to swing this last semester of classes. I feel like I'm at that last mile of the marathon and the road has been blocked off with big "No Trespassing!" signs.
Having by God's grace come this far with one income is really a miracle, but it's still hard not to start wringing my hands again about the mortgage and utility bills and groceries. I begin to wonder if there will ever be a time when we will be able to actually take in more than we spend! Then, I become very ashamed. So many people suffer, really suffer, and not just monetarily, but with poor health, death in the family, emotional rifts, addiction, etc. I have so much to be thankful for.
Then, in the middle of all the drama, there is Kristofer. My 17 year old son. Graduating from high school on Thursday, May 26! I am having a really hard time with this. It's bad enough to have Keri Lynn finished with her second year of college, but to have ANOTHER one heading off to college?!? We had some drama, too, with where he was gong to go. We all wanted him to go to GCSU where Keri Lynn attends, including Kristofer, but he didn't get accepted there. He did get accepted to Georgia Southern, which we then found out is pretty much a big party school. However, I've been thinking about Elijah lately. He cried out to God that he was the only prophet that served God, but God told him otherwise, that there were still 7000 in Israel who did not worship Baal. He was not alone. And that is my prayer for Kristofer, that he will remember that he is not alone, that others keep up the fight with him. I am excited for the opportunities before him.
It's been so nice to go into this week of spring break. I have been looking forward to it! Music is playing right now while I go about normal household routines that have been greatly neglected. Right now, just Keva and Keegan are in the house with me. Keri Lynn is in school. Kristofer is at a friend's house. Kathleen is on a trip to North Carolina with a group of girlfriends. Kylie and Kade are outside playing with a friend. Konner is at a friend's house where he spent the night. Four kid were out of the nest just last night, everyone enjoying their free time.
I have a ton of things to get done, though. Not the least of which is applying for teaching jobs. Supposedly, there are a few openings right in the county where I am student teaching. My cooperating teacher is hoping to move up to high school, so I am gunning for HIS job! I also need to complete a big school project called the teacher work sample which I will also be able to use going into job interviews. It's basically a notebook of what I did during my two week solo.
Up until last Thursday, I was feeling pretty confident about my teaching time, that is until Thursday afternoon, last period of the day. The hardest class to handle. I was by myself because my cooperating teacher had re-injured a bad knee and was out for the day. The kids were really ready to get out of school. We were starting our spring break on Friday rather than Monday for a longer spring break. Mistake #1: I thought that I could grade their re-test that they had just completed in class while class was going, just as I had in the three classes before. Mistake #2: I continued to grade papers while kids started throwing little balls of paper at each other. Mistake #3: Trying to find out who was throwing the little balls of paper by myself, not getting help from the office, because paper turned to orange Tic Tacs. Mistake #5: Feeling a little like King Solomon, I said that, since I couldn't spot who was throwing the balls of paper, I would give The Dreaded Silent Lunch to whoever got HIT by the paper, with the idea being that whoever got hit was probably part of the group throwing the paper and Tic Tacs.
So one kid stands up in the back of the class with a Tic Tac ready to aim at someone and says, "Mrs. Johnson, you mean if I throw this, that person I hit is going to get Silent Lunch?"
I nod sagely.
He pauses, looks at his hand and then sits down. I'm thinking I am SO SMART! Then "Owwwww!"
"Mrs. Johnson, he threw that at me!"
I'm still trying to salvage the moment, "No, he missed you."
I quickly get up to the front of the class, putting the grading aside for good, to announce to the class that my "King Solomon" declaration has just been revoked! Too late! They are all throwing whatever they can get their hands on. Total pandemonium. I start giving Silent Lunch left and right. I get them settled down again.
"Okay, Class, who is throwing the Tic Tacs? I am telling Mr. D (the cooperating teacher) all about this."
They all throw Allen under the bus. He's the class clown and has already admitted to throwing the paper wads but not the Tic Tacs. Allen gets REALLY ANGRY and uses some choice words.
Gloriously, the bell for car riders rings and I am saved. But not before Allen uses more choice words and storms out into the hallway. He really should be written up for this. And only seconds of class time left!
I am about to tell Allen to go with me to the teacher across the hall who is known for being pretty mean.
"Oh, no," says Allen, "You are not taking me to Mrs. Robinson."
That's when I see the hurt in his eyes. He is trying desperately to not cry. My heart breaks.
"Allen, wait. Look at me," and he does and my heart breaks again, " We are not going to see Mrs. Robinson."
"But I'm the only one getting in trouble!"
"Oh, no! I've got a whole list. You did tell me you were throwing paper. Maybe you weren't throwing the Tic Tacs, but you were part of it. Rest assured, you are NOT the only one getting into trouble when Mr. D. comes back."
And then everyone was lining up for bus and out the door and gone. Just like that. I just felt terrible about the whole class period. Thus why I am a student teacher, I guess, but I still felt badly for Allen and for so many other kids like him who get chewed up and spit out by their own classmates who they are trying so very hard to impress. Especially Allen who is so smart and capable but gets trapped in worldly concerns.
It took me several days to shake off that class period. I know that some days will be better than others, but I really need to stay humble and ready to learn some more. There is no "having arrived" as a good teacher. There is always something to learn, and it is such a huge responsibility to be in charge of those kids, because even though they are big-time eighth graders, they are still children. Children doing a lot of adult things, granted, but children nonetheless.
Lord, give me wisdom like Solomon. Really like Solomon.
I have finished my two week solo teaching. It was a very valuable and interesting and exhausting experience, made all the more challenging with Keegan's ear infection and some kind of intestinal bug that traveled through everyone in the house. Teaching four eighth grade classes a day seemed fairly easy compared to what was going on at home! I still need to hone my classroom management skills, but I think I'll be able to produce good lesson plans wherever I end up teaching. That's the fun part -- lesson plans. I've always enjoyed putting together a calendar. With this particular program that I'm in, the more "out of the box" the better.
The best news lately, though, has been Kristofer's acceptance to two of the three colleges he applied to. We're waiting to find out about the third one, GCSU, where Keri Lynn attends school. That's his first choice, so we'll see. It's nice to know that the other two are a possibility, though. A lot of the pressure is now off, and we can begin the process of getting him ready to go to college in the fall. I can't believe he is so close to graduating.
Keri Lynn is also in waiting mode, waiting to find out what will happen this summer. She was planning to go to Japan as an intern this summer, but with all that is going on there, she's afraid that the church will cancel her internship. All the missionaries in the area have already been evacuated further south in Japan because of the radiation scare.
Keegan is now 14 months. He is growing like a weed. We all get the biggest kick out of watching him walk around investigating his world. He does not like to be in the family room. He considers it a prison because we've always got it barricaded to keep him from getting too much trouble. The moment it is not barricaded, he practically runs to the opening and makes a break for it to freedom of the house. He particularly loves to run up and down the hall being chased by whoever is supposed to be keeping an eye on him.
Several things have been swirling in my poor little brain lately. One of them is how to get housework done while student teaching and going to school. Last semester, I only student taught two days a week. This semester, it is full time. While it is giving me a wonderful feel for the reality of teaching, I am having to schedule things differently.
First of all, Keegan is now in daycare. This was my one hardest development for pursuing a teaching career. I feel very blessed to have been able to stay home with him for his first year, but it simply breaks my heart to drop him off in daycare every day now. The original plan was for Keith to stay home with him during the day and then he'd work swing shift. This proved to be too hard for the entire family. Keegan got to see his Daddy and stay home in comfortable surroundings for the two days a week I was gone, but the entire rest of the family did not get to see Daddy, nor did Daddy get much rest! So when Keith was offered a job working on a project, we decided it was best for him to go back to working days. I think we're all happier for it, except for me when I drop off the Little Man early each weekday in a stranger's arms. Sigh.
Second, is the ongoing saga of the laundry. I have come to an epiphany about the laundry. It started out with just getting organized to go to school five days a week. I needed all of my clothes ready. No time to do a quick emergency wash or iron or fiddle with finding a matching dress sock or shoe. Everything had to be ready to go! Then it occurred to me that I needed to do the same thing with Keegan's clothes (and everything else he needed for daycare for the week) and Keva's clothes. That meant that all laundry had to be done on the weekend.
Now I can see everyone rolling their eyes right now. "Really, Jackie? Laundry on the weekend? This is your epiphany?" Yes, it is. Up until now, laundry has been something to be done on the weekdays when time permitted. I didn't want to cut into weekend activities. Little did I know that it is actually quite nice to have not only laundry done, but major household chores done over the weekend as well. Which leads into my third thought, that I can declare clean-up time on a Saturday morning (gasp!) and tell beloved children that they cannot go play or do anything else until the house is in order. So far, it's taken just a couple of hours to clean up and then everyone disappears outside or to friends' houses or to do homework. Again, you all might be saying, "Duh! Jackie! Haven't we suggested this to you a dozen times before?!?" But again, I say that this idea of not doing chores during the weekend is a result of having been a stay-at-home mom for so many years. There is always time to clean on the weekdays!
All of this is a work in progress. I have done Keegan's, Keva's and my laundry for a whole two weekends in a row with resounding success. Now I am working on getting the rest of the kids to do their laundry over the weekend. Konner decided to stay home with me right now on this fine Sunday morning, while the rest of the family went to church, since Keegan is still sick, and I told him to get a week's worth of dirty clothes to get washed and dried and folded and ready for the week. The exact words out of my mouth were, "And you won't have to do a load of laundry all week long!" A little light bulb went off over his head (similar to my epiphany) and he went running upstairs like a soldier on a mission. I called upstairs to see if he wanted any sausage for breakfast and he told me, "No, I've got things to do." A few minutes later, he was back down with not one but TWO weeks of laundry to wash!
We shall see how the it goes as the months wear on. I will be student teaching all the way to the beginning of May. It is going to be a long haul, but organization is the key.
A year ago today, Keegan Lee Johnson was born. Wow, has my life changed since then! Keegan has been a big part of it, of course, but when he was born, I did not have a clear direction of where I was going. I wanted to stay home with him really bad! At the same time, we were struggling mightily with our finances. So as I began to recover from my first c-section, about four months, I started looking at master's programs. I registered at LaGrange College where my friend Lisa had also registered. We decided if we got in, we'd carpool together, which took a big load off of my mind because the family van just wasn't the carpooling type of car!
Today, Keegan has a full year under his belt, by the grace of God! He is the cutest sweetest little man. And I'm half way through my master's program. I've gained more confidence and a more professional wardrobe. Our family has been adjusting to life with mom gone part of the time. However, if I have to work, the teaching profession is the way to go. We'll all be off together.
Today, on this fine Saturday, I wanted to take a moment to give a snippet of a "normal" Saturday.
I am sitting in our dining room turned office pounding away on my laptop when I should be working on a diversity paper for my January class. The smells wafting through the house are really irritating me in that our "beloved" dog has decided to sneak around and use said dining room for his bathroom area ever since we had the snow and ice for a full week outside where he has been going properly for YEARS. I am about ready to KILL HIM> But then he looks at me with those sweet brown eyes pleading forgiveness, and I let him live a little longer.
Kathleen is at the high school preparing for her final performance of her first drama production. She got some juicy roles for her first time and has done really well, especially for being a freshman. She was born a drama queen. After dinner, I'll be taking Kristofer and Kylie with me to see the performance. It will be the third time I've seen it, and I don't mind at all. It's fun to go to the theater!
Keith is sitting in the family room watching football, enjoying some free time before he heads back to his project at work on Monday. He's been working long days to meet his goals. In a few weeks, he'll be doing some traveling, which will be playing some havoc on our family life because it will be just about then that I'll be fully entrenched in my second student teaching gig.
Kristofer has been working on college applications. I'm having a hard time with the idea of another bird leaving the nest. Once again I am in denial.
Keegan is laying in his crib fussing a bit while I ignore him. I need to go find some more clean clothes for him, but I know I'm not going to find anything that will keep him warm enough! Kathleen made his birthday cake for him earlier today, but we decided that we will have it tomorrow when we're all home and can take pictures of all of us gathered around him. That way, it will look like we had a nice big birthday party for him, just like we had for Keri Lynn so many years ago when she turned one year! Hahahahaha! By the way, our family is a terrific "Rent a Party" if you ever want to invite a crowd over that can come eat your food, play your games and then go home at the same time!
Keva is also in her room. I am also ignoring her. I know she needs her pull-up changed. I could get Keith to do it, I suppose, but I'm not doing anything productive either besides typing this little missive. So I will wrap things up, take care of poor Keva and Keegan and start making dinner before heading off to see Kathleen's play. The paper can wait one more day.
Tomorrow will be another snow day. We've gotten into a nice pattern of winter fun. Kylie, Kade and Konner eat something for breakfast and then I don't see them for the rest of the day, except if they can't find someone to mooch lunch off of. They go off to play with neighborhood friends. The sub-freezing temperatures don't seem to bother them a bit. The dog, however, is having a hard time dealing with all of the ice, especially when he goes out to do his business. He waited all day yesterday before he finally gave up and took care of things on the ice. Poor dog.
Kristofer spends his time numbing his brain with video games. Kathleen bemoans the fact that she can't get to school and practice for her upcoming stage production. She also misses seeing her friends. Even church events were canceled for this Wednesday night because of icy road conditions, so now she's really bummed!
Keri Lynn has been back at school since Saturday, leaving a day early to beat the weather. However, she still hasn't started classes yet, as Georgia College has also had to postpone classes because of the weather.
I may be coming down with a cold. My throat has been hurting all day. I'm hoping it's just irritated by the smoke from our nonstop fire in fireplace, but I have a feeling I'm going to be miserable with a cough and cold very soon. I've already started popping a bunch of Vitamin C and drinking a ton of water. The air is very dry because of the cold. Everywhere I go, I keep shocking myself because of all the static electricity.
Keegan is enjoying everyone's attention during these snow days. Kylie has been walking him all over the house. He walks with minimal support but isn't quite ready to break out on his own yet. I've also started cutting out his formula by slowly adding whole milk to his bottle. He may not be totally ready for it, but he's going to have to be because I can't get to the store on these roads to get him more formula.
After his adventures getting to work yesterday, Keith decided to stay home today. He was only one of 25 that came to work out of 400 employees. So he's been hanging out slightly bored like the rest of us. (Except for Kylie, Kade and Konner.) I think we all need our routines back soon!
We are snowed in today. At least the kids and I are. We ended up maybe getting about an inch of snow and then a little ice to top it all off, just enough to make the roads very slippery. The news footage of Atlanta freeways show just a few brave travelers actually on the road. Keith went into work today. He left at 8:30 when I was still in bed snoozing. I couldn't get back to sleep after he left, though, for fear of getting that phone call about some terrible accident. But he made it to work in less than an hour! Now I'm just glad I wasn't in the car with him. In fact, I'm sure he may have actually enjoyed slipping and sliding down the roads. Yikes!
I am going to attempt to actually be productive today. Yesterday, I needed to be a little closer to the bathroom than normal. I may have eaten a little too much of my own refried beans. Or maybe I got Keva's bug. Or maybe Keva had a little too much of my refried beans! At any rate, we stayed home from church and pretty much sat around being couch potatotes watching Doctor Who. It was borderline pathetic. Except that at least I made another pair of some really fun fingerless mittens. I'm trying to get a bunch done as late Christmas presents for Keva's bus driver and her assistant. They're going to need them this month particularly!
Before you know it, though, the cold weather will be done, but not soon enough for me. I think I've decided that I'd rather have hot weather. I may change my mind come August, but for now, I really dislike the cold. The snow makes it all very pretty, and I know a lot of people really enjoy it, but I'd just as soon have a nice medium weather day. Goldilocks. Not too hot and not too cold. This time last year, was slipping and sliding all over the place going to my OB appointment. We had some crazy cold weather last January! But I was not too cold, at least when I was pregant, since I was carrying around my own thermal unit. After Keegan was born, I spent a great deal of time in his little room, the warmest room in the house, snuggling him and keeping warm under a couple of blankets! Hormones are might powerful!
On the docket today: A few phone calls, get ahead on some laundry, make another pair of fingerless mittens, do some research for my diversity paper. Maybe some dishes. All while trying to stay warm!
I am sitting at my computer knowing that I should be at the kitchen sink instead but enjoying a little downtime to write. My friend Ginny and her youngest daughter Ginger are coming in just about an hour for the second time in as many weeks. Most of the family came last week to come celebrate the new year, but two are back again for Ginny's uncle's funeral. His family lives just about an hour from us.
I'm also supposed to be getting ready for a research project for my January class. The teacher just went over expectations with us last night. I had thought that it would be fairly easy to put together until she went over what she wants in the paper! Ack! It's going to take the entire two weeks she's given to us to write it.
The job situation looks like a very unjob situation. Any jobs that are available are going to the teachers already credentialed, which only makes sense, but I was really hoping more jobs would open up by now. I am going to make a few calls to some of the private schools this coming week and see what might be available that way. I would so much rather teach in a private school anyway, but economics won't allow that. However, if there's a choice between no job and a lower paying job, I'll take the lower paying job!
Keri Lynn is heading back to college today! This is so sad. I have such a hard time with it every time she leaves, particularly because she's so rarely at home for the whole vacation time. She's been ironing out details for her second summer internship in Japan. I am so excited for these opportunities for her.
Keegan has been cruising along the couches in the family room and is starting to branch out and take a step or two out. It won't be long before he's walking! I can't believe that Little Man is getting so big! He likes to babble quite a bit. In the morning, he calls for me, "Mammamamamamamamamam . . ." which means he wants a bottle. When he sees Keith, it's "DA!" which means fun. Keith throws him way up in the air just like he did for the other kids. It's funny to see the older kids get nervous about it. I just don't look, and I'm fine and listen to Keegan giggle like crazy. As long as he stays busy picking up and putting every last piece of trash and stuff off our carpet into his mouth, he's perfectly happy. I can't tell you how many things I've fished out of that boy's mouth.