Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday morning thoughts

There are a few things I don't talk about in mixed company, mainly politics and religion. I don't think I really have to explain why. I just smile politely or pretend like I'm somewhere else when they come up because I don't want the headache. Today, I'm going to talk about church a little bit.

For the second Sunday in a row, I'm not at church. Last week, the kids and I were just tired. They didn't even wake up until 9 and 930. Granted, we could still have made it to the service, but I didn't feel like dealing with four kids on my own, so we stayed home. Today, I have a migraine that is slowly ebbing after drugs and a shower, though I'm not feeling fantastic. I get migraines (or at least really awful headaches, I'm not sure I can actually call them migraines) quite often but usually at the end of the day. This one struck late last night and lingered into the morning. Normally I'd try to rest but my migraine meds have caffeine in them and today, that has kicked in so I'm wired and wide awake, but my migraine is still lingering. So that's fun.

Plus, I'm disappointed and a little "over" church right now.

I'm disappointed in my church, specifically. There have been decisions made over the past couple of years that I don't agree with, and that really really disappointed me. I do understand why they were made, and that in a couple of instances there wasn't really any other choice to make, but that doesn't mean that I agree with them.

Our church is older. I don't know what the average age is, but it's probably in the 50's. It's smaller because we have so many older members and not very many younger members. It honestly seems like us and one other family are the main ones growing the church, and that's mainly because our two families have had a combined 8 children in the last 9 years. There aren't many families with young children, though every Sunday I'm surprised by the number of kids who go to the front for the Children's sermon and who come thundering down the stairs at the end from children's church.

I honestly think a big reason our church doesn't have more young families is because there is basically no programming for us. We have great groups for the older crowd, the children's programs are good, though not as good as they used to be, and there are things parents could go to occasionally, but the main issue is childcare. Our church rarely has that as an option for anything taking place outside of Sunday morning.

I have four kids. They would definitely take away any enjoyment of adult activities not only for me and Austin, but for other adults present, if we were to try to go to some of the activities in the evenings or mornings. So we don't.

Don't get me wrong, we show up to a LOT of stuff. We show up to congregational meetings, lunches, activities, special services, etc. We bring our brood of kids and deal with the stress of keeping them under control and from bothering other people.

That's not to say our kids are wild and out of control, because they're not. But they are kids. They get restless. They may not like the food served at the meals, so we have to eat quickly and get them home to eat something they'll actually eat.

Because our church is mainly an older population, I like to say we have a lot of grandparents. Most of them are grandparents to their own, but because their families don't live close, my kids and the other kids in the church benefit from the love they have to give. The women in our church volunteer at the MDO and rock the babies. I've heard there's one lady who loves to just sit and rock Rebekah, which I love. They smile and coo and make faces at my kids. My kids just take it in stride because this is normal for them.

A couple of weeks ago at a brunch welcoming our interim minister, one grandma used her walker to create a space next to Rebekah's high chair where there really wasn't one with a sweet smile on her face the whole time. The person who had been sitting closer to Rebekah just scooted over and made space. The grandma just beamed at me and said so many times during the brunch how much she loved sitting next to this messy, happy, baby. She didn't use those words, but when I warned her that Rebekah might reach out with her messy hands and touch her sleeves or her pretty jacket, she brushed it off. She didn't mind at all. Later, when I was standing nearby talking to Austin, she asked if I needed a seat and offered me her walker (she was not about to give up the prized seat next to the baby).

I love the people of our church. They work hard to support each other and the community. They show up for each other when needed. They love each other and on each other's families. They celebrate new babies and marriages and grieve losses. They cry when a member moves away. And I love that about them.

The thing is, our leadership is getting burned out. It's the same small group of (mostly older) people leading everything. The same people lead Sunday School, head up committees, take charge of donation drives, show up to our community outreach programs, take care of our children, and more. Austin was willing to be praise leader as a volunteer position, but they insisted it be a paid position. So we donate the majority of that back to the church. I got voluntold as the president of the women's group, Circle with Faith (or Christian Women's Fellowship) for the year, a position I wasn't, and still aren't, thrilled with, but I recognize that no one else wanted it and the people who have done it for years, among other leadership positions, are getting tired. They need a break. So I've managed to delegate out some of the tasks and look at myself as more of a manager than anything else.

I admire these same people for continually stepping up and showing up. It's hard to be one of the few people making sure things are working and moving forward when no one else is volunteering and in fact is telling you what you're doing wrong and that you should do it better, but don't ask them to do anything.

I don't have any answers as to how to "fix" things. Our church is slowly moving towards closing it's doors (this is known around the church so I'm not spilling any beans by writing about it now) and that's sad, but the church is not just the building, it's also the people. These amazing people will be fine wherever they end up. Those who lead will continue to do so and those who follow will continue to follow. Maybe if our church has to downsize or disband all together the leaders will get a break and the followers will be inspired to do more.

Personally, and I know I'm not the only one, I feel like our church needs to downsize. There are thriving, young churches in our area that could greatly benefit from having our beautiful space. Mom and I talked about how it's like her giving us her house: an older population is occupying a huge beautiful space that they don't need and can't fill while a younger population is crowded into a small space that they're making work, but it would be such a blessing to have the bigger space. Everyone who has heard about the house has said how amazing that is and how smart and logical it is. And yet when it comes to the church, we're clinging to it like a life raft in the middle of an ocean.

And I get it, I do. Many people in our church grew up there, raised their children there, were married there and watched their children get married there. It's a lovely space and we're all sentimental about it. But sometimes, it's time to move on and let the younger generation have a turn.

I wasn't raised in this church. I was raised in another church that disbanded and I have sentimental feelings about that building, but I'm glad that it's being utilized by a new congregation. When the church disbanded, the last service had maybe 30 people there, people who had been there almost since the beginning of the church 20 years earlier. I don't know how many people are there now, but surely it's more than that. I still drive past occasionally and look at the building, wondering what the inside looks like. Maybe one of these days I'll go and see.

As you can probably see, I have a lot of mixed feelings about our church. I don't have any easy answers and I wish I did. I wish I could flip a switch and young families would suddenly start flocking to our church so that it would grow and thrive the way it used to. I wish there was a way to have so many members that we had to have multiple full services and not enough space for our children on the steps of the sanctuary during the children's sermon. I've asked people who've visited and not returned why and their answers were things that we can't change, which is both reassuring and very frustrating.

Maybe I'm just feeling down about church because of the situation the church is in right now. Maybe it's the season. Winter always makes me feel a little down. Maybe I'm just tired in general. I don't know. I don know that whatever happens, it'll be ok. If we attend this church until we die or if we attend this church until this summer, it'll be ok.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Musical Influences

Austin's been doing the 10 albums in 10 days thing and like a schmo, he nominated me today. It's like he doesn't even know me. 

I had a different relationship with music than most of my peers. Growing up, I didn't buy albums because I didn't have any money, so I listened to the radio. In college, I still didn't have money to spend on music, so it was the radio in the car and downloaded stuff in my room (anyone my age who doesn't fess up to illegally downloading music in college is LYING. We all did it). The few cds I had, I got as gifts or I won on the radio, so weren't necessarily my taste. I also joined the Columbia Music Club then never bought another cd. Because again, I had no money. 

The first cd I ever got was Bob Carlyle's Butterfly Kisses. It...well, I know some people still have fond feelings about that song. I did at the time. But after listening to the only cd I had on loop for, I don't know, months, I developed a hatred for it. It's sentimental and saccharine and if my daughters want it at their weddings, I'll roll my eyes before and then blubber my way through it. 

The cds I started buying for myself were mostly soundtracks, because movies are more my jam. I really liked the soundtracks to 10 Things I Hate About You and She's the Man, among others. I listened to classical music to get inspiration for piano pieces I wanted to listen to and also because it was nice to have soothing background music while reading. 

When driving around with friends, though, we wanted something punky. So we listened to Offspring and...Sum 41? All American Rejects? I don't even know. Bowling for Soup was another band I dug, along with Weird Al. 

Side note, it's super fun to drive around with the windows down and blasting something like the 1812 Overture. 

I really liked Oldies (music from the 50-70s) in high school and college. Since the oldies apparently includes up to the early 90's, I still like it. I got a cd of Steve Miller Band in 2001 on a friend's recommendation and thought that was pretty good. I got Taylor Swift's first cd a month or so after it came out and really thought that kid was going places. LOVED Kelly Clarkson's Since You Been Gone album. It came out at the right time in my life. 

Dad introduced me to Natalie Cole. He usually listened to classical, but he had her album Unforgettable, and our favorite track was the duet with her dad on the title song. It was almost our wedding dance song. We went with his favorite song, The Way You Look Tonight, sung by Tony Bennett. 

Caleb, hearing that I really liked All American Rejects and bands like them, made me a mix cd that is probably one of my favorite cds to date. I think I still have it somewhere. It had a lot of the punky type music that I enjoy blasting, but you can hear the lyrics enough that you can learn them and sing along. It had bands like AAR, Good Charlotte, Bowling for Soup, and more. Again, I don't even know the names of the songs. Several years after he gave it to me, I took the time to google the song lyrics to get the names of the songs themselves and the bands. 

Austin and I bonded over OAR while he was in Denmark. 52-50 is about a man who can't wait to get home to his girl. It felt fitting. We actually liked Nickleback and chose Far Away for our wedding dance song. Lyrics like "Who was I to make you wait" and "I've been far away for far too long" felt like a pretty good description of our relationship. 

Johnny Cash was apparently always a favorite of mine. Apparently as a toddler, I'd dance to Johnny's tapes or on the radio. One of my favorite memories of my wedding is when my immediate family, the Original 7, were posing for photos on the lawn and Ring of Fire started playing and we all sang along. You can see it in some of the pictures. Waiting on the Far Side Banks of the River Jordan is so heartbreaking and his version of Hurt is amazing. And of course who doesn't love A Boy Named Sue or One Piece at a Time or Folsom Prison Blues?

One of the last pieces of music I learned as a kid taking piano lessons was the first movement of The Moonlight Sonata. That song is super hard. I have a tendency to want to speed up as I'm playing and that song is all about plodding along at the same speed. It was fun to use the damper pedal, though. In college, I "learned" it again to play for the semester recital. I'm a snob about keyboards vs pianos, so I rarely practiced the two semesters I took lessons in college, but I did manage to play MS perfectly from start to finish. Once. Luckily, my teacher was there, so I had a witness to that amazing feat. 

These days, I listen to audio books more than music, but when I do listen to music, it's usually the Hamilton soundtrack (it's been in the cd player in my car for about a year and a half now) or the radio. Lin-Manuel Miranda is so incredibly talented. I don't sing along well because I don't think my mouth can move that fast, but I make an attempt. 

I do have Amazon music on my phone and I'll occasionally play something from there, but if I'm listening to music, I want something I can sing along to, so Broadway soundtracks and music from high school and college are usually the order of the day. 

Looking back, I probably could do the whole 10 albums in 10 days, but I'm lazy and I know I won't follow through. So here's my ten all at once. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The holidays are finally over. Thank goodness for that.

I really enjoy when it's just us, lazing around the house for a while. The holidays this year were just a little nuts. We started on Friday the 22nd and it felt like it didn't really end for a week.

We had Asher's school Christmas program Friday evening, our family Christmas Saturday morning, the Walke family Christmas Saturday afternoon and evening, then drove to Arlington for the Mullins Christmas right after church on Sunday. We were there until Thursday, when Eden had two doctor appointments in Plano. Luckily those went really well and quickly and we were hope by 3pm.

The ice and terrible weather were actually ok because it gave us an excuse to just stay home and not go anywhere or do much of anything.

Asher turned 7 without much fanfare. His party is this coming Saturday and he's looking forward to it.

Elijah is still a crazy little nugget of a sourpatch kid. He's got pretty bad psoriasis that the cold weather made look horrible. He's got some cream we put on, and that seems to be helping. He'll be seeing a dermatologist in the next couple of weeks to confirm the diagnosis.

Eden's appointments were fine. We haven't heard anything about her echo, but I'm assuming that means everything is fine. I've made a note to contact her doctor on Monday to confirm there's nothing crazy. The GI doctor said she looked fine and maybe cut back on her milk intake if she has constipation issues. She doesn't and if you try to tell her she can't have milk she will yell at you. A lot.

Rebekah got her two top teeth for Christmas. She's still a bundle of sweetness and happiness and joy. Prophetic name. Of course, my middle name is also Joy and I'm not sure that I exude that, but She loves to eat and eats everything she can get in her mouth. She's basically an organic Roomba. She regularly crawls from the back of our bedroom through the house to the dining room, where the pickings are good. Sometimes she spits up, sometimes she cries because she's tired and alone, sometimes she just puts her head down and waits for someone to find her.

Mom had been scheduled to close on a house on December 29, but that fell through because of one of the owners being a jerk. It's complicated and there's still a chance everything will work out, which she would like because she really likes the house, but she's decided to look at other houses while she waits.

It's frustrating to all of us, but mostly Mom. I'm actually ok with waiting, mostly because our buyers aren't going to be ready until about December. That's not to say if everything fell into place and miraculously Mom was ready for us to take over the Orange St. house in a month, I wouldn't jump on that. But I'm also not stressing if it takes six or seven months. That's less of a financial strain on us, in a lot of ways.

It's interesting trying to pack when we really don't know what's going to happen. I know what the plans were, but...with nowhere for Mom and Bob to go, the plans are in limbo. I'm still working on packing and purging slowly. We started with the playroom and we (meaning I) and working through the house a little bit at a time. I'm packing up what we don't use a lot but aren't ready to get rid of just yet (and that may change in a month or so when I run out of boxes) and am just kind of storing the boxes in the place where the things were. So things are going to get cluttered fast. We'll figure it out. I'm not worried.

So that's what's up around here. Procrastinating packing was just made tons easier. And kids are doing well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Checking In

Eden's annual cardiology check up was today and everything relating to her is great. The main cardiologist she's been seeing since she was about 2 months old, Dr. S, let me know that she'll no longer be traveling to Abilene for the clinics. They've had a lot of issues with the airplanes and timing and other things, so they're changing their schedule and routine and as a result, we'll be traveling to Dallas for Eden's annual exams. Not terrible, but not the greatest news, either.

She charmed everyone present, of course, and was extremely cooperative, which was a relief. Sometimes she get a streak of stubbornness (god only knows where THAT came from) but today she was amazing. Even after we had to wait for about an hour because the doctor's flight from DFW was delayed. And then when we had a bit of a problem delivering our last Christmas gifts. And then had some wait time at Michael's and again at school pick up. I'm afraid of when the sass will come

We've entered the busy time of the year and I'm already exhausted from it all. Our plans have changed so many times I can't even remember all the iterations of them. Normally, we celebrate our family Christmas on Christmas Adam, December 23, but since we're going to Arlington for the holiday this year, the Walke Christmas was graciously rescheduled for the 23 so we could leave after church on the 24. Which means our family Christmas was rescheduled, too. It would have been the 22, but Asher has a school program we can't get out of (with only 11 kids in the school its pretty obvious when someone doesn't show up...) So we're doing ours on Christmas Adam morning, with a nice breakfast and presents and stockings (for the first time ever since we won't be at Oma's for stockings) and then we'll load up for Mom's last Christmas on Orange St. Then the only Christmas in Arlington.

We've had doctor's appointments, sick kids, missed school, Christmas parties, a frustrating school project, LOTS of cooking and shopping and wrapping and decorating and I'm just. over. it. all. Tonight is the last evening of just us for a while, so instead of making the mashed potatoes or putting away the three laundry baskets worth of clothes and sheets or packing or making cookie dough or helping Austin and Elijah organize the playroom, I'm sitting. We've got pizza on the way and our new-to-the-kids Christmas movie (Home Alone) in the blu-ray player. I'll make some cookies from already made dough and maybe we'll do some popcorn, but for the next couple of hours, I'm taking a little break.

This is Rebekah's first Christmas ever, and our last in this house, so I want to savor it as much as I can. If you need me, I'll be in my chair with a beverage (adult or not, it's a toss up at this point) and my feet up, possibly cross-stitching, possibly snoozing, possibly nursing, likely yelling at the kids to be quiet and enjoy the movie.

Merry Christmas, from the Mullins Mob to you and yours

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Big News!

First off, I'm not pregnant. Just getting that out of the way. My baby-making business has closed. We did pretty good work with only a couple hiccups, but we've closed up shop.

Y'all know how I am about secrets. I hate keeping them, but I've been sitting on one for about three weeks now that's pretty darn huge. I had to wait until all the important people were consulted/informed and several discussions were had, but that has happened and now I can tell you...

Drum roll please....

My mom is giving me her house!

Insert shocked faces here. I'll wait for you to wrap your brains around that.

For those of you who don't know, my mom has a large house. Fifty-five hundred square feed, seven bedrooms, two bathrooms...and it's just her, Bob, and their four cats. We have four children and two cats and live in a 2500 square foot house. We're utilizing the space a lot better now that the boys are upstairs, but at Mom's, everyone (including the adults) will have their own rooms. We won't have a mortgage and we'll still have the income from the current renter in the carriage house. We're happy for him to stay as long as he wants.

This isn't going to happen overnight, we're looking at a maximum of five years. Mom and Bob need to find their own house first, and they have a pretty strict list of what they want and it's hard to find. They are interested in a house, so we'll see what happens there. At the absolute soonest, I think it'll be about a year, if everything with the house they're looking at works out.

We could be spending next Christmas in our "new" house!

This will be my inheritance, and since I'd be getting it before my siblings get theirs, the most important thing was to talk to them and get their opinions/thoughts on it. Luckily, my siblings are all awesome and saw what a great thing this is for my family so they had no objections. The brothers did voice some concern over the cost of living in the house, but that's our problem. And really, having no mortgage will help tremendously. They did also say that if I get the house, I'll be expected to bake all the Christmas cookies.

I say that's a fair trade. I'll have two ovens to make it easier.

We have a few options on what to do with our house when the time comes. Part of us/me want to keep it and rent it out. I did some basic research and houses in Abilene rent for about .75/$1 per square foot. Not having a full second bath and being where we are, I think we could ask $1200-1500 for rent and that would cover our expenses related to the house and then some. That way we could keep the house around for whenever we're interested in retiring, but that's so far down the road, it's maybe not the best idea. We could turn it into an Air B&B and if we priced it about like some of the ones in town, it would pay for itself with just a few nights a month.

Or, we could sell it. If we got what we paid for it, or slightly higher, we could pay off the mortgage on it and potentially pay off our cars, possibly even having extra at the end to put into the Orange Street house if we sell it for even more.

I've already got ideas on what to do at the house, where everyone is going to go, how things are going to be arranged. It's entirely possible we'll have empty rooms for a little while as we get settled and figure out what works and what doesn't. If Mom takes her dining table, that room for sure will be empty until we've saved the money to get a good sized dining table.

Depending on when we move in, my kids will be the youngest residents of that house in over 30 years? Or longer? A family lived there from 1964-1984 but I'm not sure how young the children were when they left. It was a business from 1984-1993 and my younger brother turned 7 the summer we moved in. So if we move in next year, three of my kids will be younger than that. So that's kind of cool.

It's big and exciting and a little overwhelming in some ways and stressful in others. I'm looking forward to this. I know I've said several times that I don't want to leave our house unless it's on a stretcher, but, as a friend this week said when I told her about this, Mom's house is the house to change my mind.

I need to recreate some pictures we took when Mom and Dad took ownership of the house Mother's Day weekend of 1993. They're of Caleb, Mom, Dad, and I acting like complete fools with a calendar in every empty room of the house. I'll find those and scan them in so you can all bask in the glory of my 1993 permed hair and homemade clothes and giant glasses (oh lordy the glasses). We'll get in there with our own goofballs and create some memories and traditions. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

We've been busy

I don't mean to go so long between posts, it just happens. I even write out posts in my head and then forget to sit down and type them up. Needless to say, those are all incredibly touching and funny and worded perfectly.

Instead you get this. lol

At the end of October was the annual craft fair at our church. Mom has been heading that for decades at one location or another and we help out as much as we can, which admittedly isn't much. It's a lot of work and without nearly enough helpers and changes in the vendors and various other things, Mom decided not to do it anymore. There wasn't a big huge announcement, though I did post on the craft fair's facebook page.

The Saturday of the craft fair, October 28, Eden was sick to the point that she had blood in her vomit, so she got to spend a night at the hospital. It was, of course, terrible timing, but it could have been worse. No answers, just like Elijah, but everyone was checking everything because of her heart.

She was released Sunday, October 29, around 3. I went to get the boys from my brother's house and then we all met up at home around 4. Austin and I made three Pac-Man inspired costumes in an hour and a half and made it to Trunk-or-Treat at the church and came home with enough candy for a while.

When we called the pediatrician to schedule a follow up, she said to bring Eden in if she had a relapse, but otherwise we're ok not going in. However, we want to get her checked out by a pediatric gastroenterologist from Children's. That's set for December 28 in Plano. Austin will take the day off and go up with her and make a day trip of it. Merry Christmas.

I'm really glad for Eden's medical fund to pay for her visit. Elijah's was much more expensive and made things a bit tight (we're ok, just having to be more mindful of our spending than we usually are).

Elijah is doing great. He's still the little sour patch kid with the angel face. Not much new is going on for him.

Asher is doing well at school. He has his up and down days, like anyone, but it seems to be more up than down. His school had their Thanksgiving program and feast on Thursday and I was in charge of coordinating the food. They held it at First Christian so I was also a big part of the set up and clean up. My feet and knees were hurting after that. The kids did a good job, though, and the food was good.

Rebekah is just sweet and wonderful 90% of the time. The other 10% she's hungry. She's really enthusiastic about baby food and loves fruit. I think her favorite is apples and blueberries. She's also a fan of Ritz crackers and vanilla wafers. Leaves make her gag, but she continues to try them, thinking maybe THIS time they'll taste good. She's still petite and hasn't started sitting up on her own, though she can pull herself up to her knees and maintain that for a little while and if I set her down in a sitting position, she can hold that for a little bit. She got two teeth within about 10 days and her whole demeanor changed from little terrorist back to the angel baby.

The big news, though, is that we FINALLY moved the boys upstairs! I'd moved 95% of my stuff and after waiting for a few weeks (or years) for Austin to take care of his stuff, I just dragged it all down the stairs for him. Last night he and I got up there and moved the 3/4 bed and pink armchairs downstairs and moved some things around. I vacuumed most of the room then we called it a night. This morning, my older two nephews came over and helped Austin dismantle, move, and reassemble the bunk beds and then move the boys' dressers upstairs. We got most of the boys' stuff upstairs and I rearranged the girls' room and set up the 3/4 bed for Eden.

I'm so excited for this. I really think the boys are going to like having their own space, and same for the girls. There is still some parts of the upstairs that we're using for storage because I just don't have the energy at the moment to get everything put elsewhere, plus there's always going to be stuff that needs to be stored, but they've got tons of space even with me storing things up there. Eden was excited for the new arrangement but got upset when I put her blankets on the 3/4 bed. She doesn't want to use the "big girl" bed, she wants the little "ladybug" bed.

I guess if Austin annoys me I can either send him in to sleep on the 3/4 bed or I can go myself. I'm not giving up on Eden, I think she'll get used to it over time. For now, I'm ok with her sleeping in the toddler bed in the corner.

I've written before about our constant rearranging of furniture to make our house work for us. If we're here 5 months or 5 decades, it needs to work and it doesn't make sense to have so much unused space. I'm still working on the foyer and I have a few ideas. Luckily, Austin is very willing to work with me and help me by moving heavy furniture. Happy wife, happy life, right?

Pac-Man family! Elijah was Pac-Man, Rebekah was a cherry (her shirt had cherries on it) and the rest of us were ghosts. 

Upstairs back area. I don't know that it's been this clean since we moved in, to be honest. lol

Temporary drawer storage

This morning before everything got moved in.

Taking apart the bunk beds. Elijah turned around and said "Oh, thanks for taking my picture."

Dressers with drawers

A different look the length of the room. The shelves on the left are still storage for me. I need to move a lot of the stuff there into the attic, I just ran out of energy. 

Their birth samplers with Dad's ties are now hanging in the stairwell. Elijah's is newly reframed and looks FABULOUS. I'm so happy with how it came out. 

A little reading area for Asher with a few of his books. I moved what we're leaving on those shelves up to the higher shelves and left them the bottom four. He was giving me decorating tips on what to do with empty shelfspace. Weirdly enough, it wasn't "get more books."

The girls' room, Eden's nook. The giant ladybug is on the floor in the corner next to the toy chest. 

The rest of the girls' room. Rebekah likes that the curtains are high enough she can look out the window when she's laying in her bed. 

And now I'm tired. I need a shower and a nap. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

long overdue

Yikes. I really did not intend to go so long between updates. We've been a good kind of busy, with stuff going on but no major catastrophes.

Updates on everyone one by one:

Asher is THRIVING in his new school. He actually talks (!!) about school a lot of the time, though if we just bluntly ask about it, he won't. You have to come at it from the side so he doesn't quite realize what you mean. He had a rough first three weeks, but after a come-to-Jesus conversation, the last four have been MUCH better. They have a color system (green, yellow, red, blue) and in the past four weeks, he was green for all but two days.

His teachers genuinely enjoy him and his stories and he's started having input in class, raising his hand with suggestions or comments. At home, he's a much more pleasant child to be around. He even gets along great with his siblings these days.

I know for sure part of it is the school and the new environment he's in, but I also see that it's that magical maturing that the teachers and principals at TLCA told us happens between Kindergarten and 1st. He's still got his moments, sure, but for the most part, he's actually fun to be around.

We've been reading in the evenings, one chapter at a time, and read through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. He really enjoyed Harry Potter (because he knows where it's at) and he liked Ralph. We haven't picked up our next book yet because I've been exhausted in the evenings or just not here but I'm thinking we'll do something else by Beverly Cleary, maybe Henry Huggins or Ribsy.

He got his first library card today and when the librarian recognized me from my hours spent hanging around her desk as a kid, she got a big grin on her face. He picked out a couple of books to check out and I showed him how to look up books on the computer and find them on the shelf and then how to use the self-check. As we were leaving, he said "Thanks for the tutorial, Mom." I'm not sure if he'll remember how to search and find books (though this is Asher, so probably) but at least he's got that little nugget in his brain somewhere. Now to see how long he can hold on to his card and remember his pin.

He lost three teeth last week, two in the same day. He's got a real jack-o-lantern face right now. But its a cute jack-o-lantern.

Elijah is 5. His world did not change all that much, surprisingly. He had a fabulous Mario birthday party and is already talking about his NEXT Mario party. I just can't with this kid.

He is....hard to describe. He's such a sweetheart and helpful and loving during the day and early afternoon 90% of the time and then almost every evening at bedtime he's just a jerk. He picks on Asher and Eden, he screams at me and Austin, he throws things...there have been more than one occasion that we've physically removed him from his room and made him sleep upstairs by himself. Bedtime is our least favorite time of the day.

He and I read a book together, Charlotte's Web, but he says it fast and has a bit of a speech impediment so it sounded like "Shart's Web." I laughed nearly every night.

He seems to be doing well at CCF, our church's MDO program. He's one of, if not the, oldest kids in the class and he seems to know most of what they're learning. He's been there for 4 years at this point, so he should know all that. He's definitely looking forward to kindergarten next year and honestly, I think he would have done ok in it this year, but I'm ok waiting for him to be "old enough" for it. I don't think we'll have the same issues with Elijah as we did with Asher.

Eden. Oh man. She's just a ball of personality and will. She lives in a world where whatever she thinks or says is the honest truth. If she doesn't like that you told her no, she'll say "Say yes" until you do say yes. Then she's confident she's gotten her way. Woe is you when she realizes she doesn't.

She's still into superheroes and a little bit into ladybugs and some into Mario. So everything she wears is some kind of costume in her mind. She prefers to sleep on the floor of our bedroom instead of in "the ladybug bed" in her room. She doesn't complain when Austin moves her, though. Mostly because she's half asleep. There have been times when we wake up in the middle of the night to tend to Rebekah and Eden has returned to her nook.

Rebekah is just wonderful. She's almost always happy and sweet and content to be doing her own thing. She is Elijah's favorite person and he comes looking for her two or three times a day. She likes to gnaw on whatever she can find, even if it's toes. She still doesn't sleep through the night consistently yet, but she could if she wanted to. She just doesn't want to. She's growing slowly and is petite, but nothing to be concerned about. We've started introducing solids to help her gain weight a little, help her sleep through the night, and to help stretch my milk. My supply is adequate for her, but pumping milk to send to CCF has been a little difficult. I'm barely staying ahead of her, rarely pumping in a week what she consumed the two days she goes. We had planned to do baby-led weaning, like we did with Eden since it's cheaper and easier, but she doesn't have the aversion to purees and being fed that Eden did, so she's had some bananas and applesauce and a bit of yogurt. She liked the fruits, not the yogurt.

She scoots herself all over the place, exploring as much as she can and getting into whatever was left at her level. She loves her siblings and grins whenever she sees them, pops her head up to see what they're doing, and follows them with her head while they play near her.

Austin got a new car for his birthday, a Prius. His old one was 13 years old and we'd had it for almost 10 years. It was dying a slow death and we'd been hoping for a new one for about 16 months when he finally just bit the bullet and got a new car. It's pretty snazzy and he really enjoys it. It reads his texts to him and has a button you push to put it in park. He had it a couple of weeks before I finally got to ride in it.

I've been doing well, too. Cooking and shopping and keeping the household running with errands and doctor's appointments and whatnot. I did manage to slice open my left middle fingertip with a bread knife last week. It's pretty gnarly but didn't necessitate stitches. It almost looks like it has them because of how jagged the cut is. It's interesting to find out how often you use a certain fingertip when you've injured it. I wear a bandaid and a finger cot (seriously looks like a finger sized condom) most days to protect it from water and children and then let it air out overnight. Rebekah still manages to hit it at night while nursing. It'll be a while before it's fully healed and I fully expect an ugly scar, but at least I still have my finger, right? Not that losing a finger is the end of the world. Just would have been a bigger pain (no pun intended) than this.

So we're trucking along. We've got the craft fair coming up, then Thanksgiving with my family in New Braunfels and our only Christmas in Arlington with Austin's parents. Asher's already planning his Minecraft birthday party and we're starting to think about Rebekah's blessing dinner for her birthday. Eden will have a cardio appointment in December and an eye exam in January. Things coming, but nothing super huge or stressful. This year has been exhausting for a lot of reasons and we've still got about 10 weeks or so to go. I'll try to update again in that time. :-)