23 September 2014

Wiyah, Sweet Angel of Mercy

The boys had a temple trip this morning. (As a sidenote, this is Kelvinator's third temple trip in four days.  Pretty sure that's a record.) They needed to be at the church at 5:15am.  Which means they needed to be up by 4:30.

So I set my alarm.  I had made their lunches the night before.  Kelvinator's first words out of his mouth when I woke him up were "Mom, don't be mad at me if I fall back asleep."  I told him that I wasn't leaving his room until I knew he was up and wouldn't fall back asleep.  When he was climbing down from his bunk bed I left to go wake up JJ and X.  When I went back to check on Kelvinator he was asleep with his legs hanging down on his ladder!

Anyway, everyone got up and off with breakfast, their recommends and looking sharp.

I went back to bed and hoped to get another hour of sleep.  I reset my alarm clock but had trouble falling asleep.  But eventually I did.  And when I woke up I was 15 minutes late.  Because apparently re-setting the time on your alarm clock is not the same as actually turning it on.

I ran in to the little girls' room to wake them up and found that Wiyah was in the girls' bedroom getting them dressed already.  I went in to wake up Mack but he was also already awake and in the bathroom.  When the girls came downstairs, they were dressed--with accessories!--and their hair done totally cute.  Even though I had woke up so late, everyone was ready early which gave me time to put the last coat of primer up in the kitchen while they were eating breakfast.

I was ready to take them to school myself but Wiyah had rushed getting ready and announced that she was going to take them to school.  The little girls were so thrilled to have so much attention from their big sis.  Winkleberry didn't even think about crying this morning or wanting to be home schooled.  And while Wiyah was taking them to school I was able to put a coat of paint up, too!

What would I do without that girl?

Unfortunately I will find out in just over three months.


During family prayer...

Wink:  Please bless that everyone will have you for their King.

While eating breakfast...

Wink:  (chanting a little game we play at our house)  Who's the best sister in the United States?  Well, I mean, who's just the best sister?
Pink:  Wiyah!
Pink and Wink:  And Baboo!
Wink:  And Mom!
Mack:  Are you speaking spiritually?

21 September 2014

Winkleberry's Sense of Humor

More than ten years ago we had a Sunday evening where everyone wanted chocolate chip cookies but no one felt like making any (and we might not have had ingredients, I can't remember).  It was a sorry state of affairs at the Beautopotamus household when, only half-seriously, as part of family prayer, the Hubba prayed for some chocolate chip cookies.  Within a little while there was a knock at the door.  A neighbor was bringing by a plate of chocolate chip cookies!

I have a friend who loves to bake and feed people.  All of her kids are grown and so she says when she gets that urge, she just brings it by for us.  There have been a couple of times when we have been feeling treatish and made the comment about wondering if Sister Putnam would drop by soon...And sometimes she has!  Cookies, brownies, cupcakes, zuchini bread.  It's always delightful and fun and funny when that happens and we tell her we had been hoping she would.

So tonight after dinner, the Hubba was about to assign people to make chocolate chip cookies.  Unfortunately we didn't have "enough" chocolate chips.  (I actually prefer little to no chocolate chips so it was plenty for my kind of batch!)  The kids could only find cake mixes and the Hubba prefers brownies and before you know it, it was almost bedtime and there wasn't enough time to make a treat.

That's when the doorbell rang.  Winkleberry walked in with a paper plate covered in aluminum foil.  She could hardly keep a straight face when she said...

Wink:  I just saw Sister Putnam outside and she gave me this plate of Brownies.

And when we lifted up the aluminum foil there was a plate of Brown E's--made of construction paper--all over the plate.

20 September 2014

First Temple Trip

We finally took Kelvinator through the temple for the first time today.  We wanted to do it right after he turned 12.  And we were trying to figure out a way for us all to go together as a family.  I needed someone to watch Mack, Pink and Wink so we could go.  At one point, I had something lined up.  I can't remember what happened, but plans changed or fell through.  And then the summer exploded with trips and scout camps and everyone going every which way and there was no possible way to get everyone together to do it.

And before I knew it, here we are in mid-September.  And it just so happens that our stake has a temple day next week and they are encouraging everyone to go to the temple on a certain day.  The youth will be doing baptisms for the dead that day.  On Tuesday.  So on Friday I am realizing that if I want to go through the temple with Kelvinator the first time he goes through, we only have Saturday to do it.  (The Hubba and I were at a law school reunion all day Friday and the temple is closed on Sunday and Monday.)

Unfortunately, it's homecoming and JJ's "day activity" is going paintballing.  Wiyah (sweet Sister!) offered to chauffeur him and his friends and their dates around today since his license still restricts driving any non-family members for another 3-4 months.  So he and Wiyah would be in and out all day.  X is at his job from 8:30 to 5pm reffing soccer games.  And Kelvinator has soccer photos and a game followed immediately by Mack's soccer photos and game.  The Hubba will be with them there from 12:30 to 5pm.  And Wiyah had actually stayed the night at a friend's house before so she wasn't even home in the morning.

I was really disappointed because for Kelvinator's first time through the temple, I wanted us all to be there.  But there was no way.  So I had to settle and remember that the most important thing was that we, his parents, take him through at least once before he was going through with a group.  And apparently Wiyah wanted those memories to include her as well.  It was really important to her that she be there, too.  I wanted his first memories of the temple to involve us.

So the Hubba got up early and went and brought Wiyah home from her friend's house and I got X to his job about 15 or 20 minutes late.  JJ frantically cleaned out the megavan "limo" so that Wiyah could take the van to the temple (we'd drive the car) in case she needed to leave early in order to get JJ home on time to drive him to the first portion of his date!  It was crazy.  Also, at the last minute, there was a problem with the Hubba's recommend.  Of course!

But we made it!  Despite all the difficulty and the time constraints we left our house for the temple about 30 minutes later than we planned.  But it all worked out!

In the car, the Hubba talked to Kelvinator about the temple and what he could expect and how he might feel.  Kelvinator asked a few questions and then we were there!  We took some photos out in front of the baptistry and then we walked in.  I just observed while the Hubba baptized and Wiyah and Kelvinator were baptized.

As I was sitting there in the chapel, I looked up to see the daughter of my good friend enter the font room.  She saw me and we waved.  It was sweet.  This sweet girl actually works with JJ and is taking his shift tonight since he was scheduled to work and couldn't find anyone else to work for him.  She said, "It's just not right to miss homecoming for work."  So she had cancelled her own plans to help him out.

Eventually, I watched as Wiyah was baptized by the Hubba in the temple font.  Next it was Kelvinator's turn.  After the first baptism, the Hubba whispered something to him and then they finished up.  It was a sweet trip and I wish we hadn't been so hurried and harried.  Kelvinator had been very nervous and even shaking a little bit at the beginning.  But everyone was kind and friendly and helpful and the ordinances are simple and familiar.

On the way home he talked about his experience and how neat it was and how he had felt.

And then Wiyah raced home to finish cleaning out the van and leave and we raced to the bank to get JJ's money out for his date.

17 September 2014

Just the Facts, Ma'am

This morning I am blogging.  But there is so much to catch up on that I'm pretty sure it's going to be just one of those posts where I ramble incessantly and then abruptly stop.  It won't be well written and possibly not even thoughtful as rush to just get down the bare minimum in the time I have allotted.

The reason I even have time to blog today is because I finally started to paint our family room and the color does not work.  At all.  So I'm going to have to prime over the wall I painted to get it ready for a new color that we have yet to pick out.  But since we haven't actually picked out the new color yet, I'm procrastinating priming which means I've carved out some time for myself this morning.

The reason we haven't picked out the new paint is because the Hubba is sick.  Down-and-out-not-going-to-work kind of sick.

I think these past two weeks have been the busiest in my life.  And in their in the top five for most overwhelming, too.  I wish I could keep track of everything.  But suffice it to say that my days basically begin between 5:30 and 6:00 am.  I get kids ready, make breakfasts and lunches for 9.  Usually the Hubba takes the kids to school, but since he's been sick, I've been taking them.  Then I come home and pick up Wiyah and drop her (and the Hubba, when he's not sick) off at work.  Then I drive back home where I frantically prime and paint rooms or do other household necessities for two hours.  Then I get ready and go into the office.

At the office I'm supposed to be just working part-time right now.  But recently we have this....project.... It's a very big and important project I need to take care of.  And I thought it would probably take three or four days at most.  But I'm actually working on my fourth WEEK of problem after problem after problem.  You have no idea.  I'm on the phone with customer service  at least an hour or two a day trying to figure it out.  And there are usually several emails back and forth as well.  So basically in a month of work I still haven't accomplished this one task because of a million set backs and that also means that I'm not getting anything else done either!  Anyway, with the Hubba sick at home (with the kids--Kelvinator was home sick on Monday with the same thing) these past several days I actually have been spending entire days at the office and not getting home until 6 or 7pm.  And a couple of days last week, I actually came straight home from the office just to head back to the hospital to teach for another 3-4 hours.

Then I'm making dinner, running errands, helping with homework, grocery shopping, more housework/painting, etc.  Until I essentially drop dead around 10pm every night.  It's been crazy.  The only other time I remember being worked like this was when I was in college and working two different part time jobs--one as a janitor at the Institute building and other as an office assistant in the UA math department--plus housesitting for the Hubba's parents and taking care of their pets and garden and housesitting for the Hubba's brother and taking care of their great dane and the Hubba's bird.

Anyway, to give you a sense of how incredibly filled every second of every day is, here's a true confession.  I haven't written my missionary daughter a letter in at least two months.  Maybe more.  I can't even remember.  I've been emailing her on Mondays, for sure.  But for the first ten months of her mission I wrote her every single week.  And I've had this package that I've meant to send to her for two months as well.  And guys, her mission is almost over and I'm ending it being totally lame.  I feel awful.  But honestly, I'm swamped.

One of the things that was actually swamping me was that I needed to apply for colleges for Baboo.  So I was filling out the applications and then I'd have to email her questions and stuff.  And then there was the financial aid application, too.  Anyway, that took time, research and a concerted effort but she is finally applied to three different colleges.  I'm not sure when we'll hear back.  I keep meaning to check with each college and see if we've heard anything or when we'll hear anything.  But...I haven't had time to do it.

There are other pressing things that are stressing me out, too.  Things to take care of for our family and other kids, but I haven't been able to get to those either.  Hopefully, after I'm done blogging I'll still have some time left to take care of a couple of those things, too.

Winkleberry is having such a hard time.  She finally got over waking up and crying about wanting her "sleep-in days."  Basically, I think she had enough weekends to realize that eventually she could sleep in.  And every Saturday morning she would wake up and come downstairs and say "Did I sleep in?  How many hours?"  And she was ecstatic the day she slept in 3 whole hours and didn't wake up until almost 10am!  She was not really happy the day she found out she had only slept in for just over an hour.   Funny girl.

But on Friday she had an incident at school that was embarrassing and traumatic for her, although I didn't know it at the time.  On Saturday, it came out though about how stressed she was for that to happen again and how upset she'd been.  She was crying and worried.  Begging me to home school her ("You could be my teacher and Dad could be the principal!").  That continued through Sunday and in fact on Sunday night the only way I could get her to sleep was to tell her that we would just take things one day at a time and she just needed to go to school on Monday and then we'd re-evaluate.  She ended up having a great day at school on Monday and so I thought we were out of the woods.  But Monday night, it all started over again with wanting me to homeschool her.  I convinced her to go to school the next morning and go to sleep.  But she apparently forgot my convincing by morning because yesterday was awful!  She woke up crying and not wanting to go to school and it took all of my patience and influence to get her ready for the day.  But when it was time to leave she was upset and crying again, wanting to be homeschooled.  I got her in the car and got her buckled and eventually she stopped crying and seemed distracted.  I thought we were good.  But when I was dropping kids off, she was crying again and refused to get out of the car.  I tried really hard to get her to walk into the school but she flat out refused.  And I was king of powerless because, um, I wasn't appropriately dressed to really get out of the car and be seen by other human beings.  So once the late bell rang and I realized the only way she could even get in the school was for me to sign her in at the office, I just took her back home.

But I was angry, then.  Because it was a power battle that she had won and now my entire day was thrown off and how exactly was I going to get her back to school?  So I was letting her know how upset I was.  Then Wink started yelling at me while she was crying and she said some things that she hadn't ever said about school before which led me to ask more questions and to listen better.  By the end, I realized that the issue wasn't just the incident that had happened a few days before, but that there other issues happening as well that she was having a hard time dealing with.  Before we even got home, she was still sobbing in the backseat but apologizing to me for being rude.  It was so sweet.

So we came home and I just sat with her on my lap and hugged her and cuddled her for a while.  I told her that eventually later on that day she would have to go back to school but we wouldn't worry about it for right now.  Then after a little while, I got up to start painting.  It wasn't too long after that she started asking about how it worked when you went to school late.  And after that she was urging me to hurry up and take her back to school.  I thought, wow!  That really worked out!  She was anxious about the protocol for arriving late at school so I told her the low down and held her hand all the way to her classroom.

But it was so heart-breakingly sad.  As we were walking to her classroom, she kept saying "I'm scared."  And I'd reassure her.  Then the second she crossed the threshhold into her classroom she was like a robot child.  It was like somebody just pulled the veil over my Winkie-pie's eyes.  She had zero facial expressions, but the puffiness under her eyes made it look like she was fighting tears.  Her teacher spoke to her but she didn't answer just moved like a little robot to where she needed to be and didn't even look back at me so I could wave or say goodbye or offer her some encouragement or a thumbs up.  I was really proud of her doing a hard thing so bravely.

As I left the school, I wondered WHAT IN THE HECK AM I DOING!?!?!  I felt like a brand new parent with no experience whatsoever.  I questioned everything about my judgment and what the right thing to do was.  Why was I sending her to this place where she was miserable when all I wanted to do was just hold her and make her stop crying and being sad?  Was it really the right thing to do to encourage her to go and stay?  Or was it really fine to expect her to do hard things?  Ugh.  I was so conflicted.  I found out later that she had had on ok day.  She cried once when they were switching classes from English to French.  Baboo had written her a sweet, sweet letter on Monday when she found out what a hard time Wink was having and talked about how she remembers being homesick when she went to first grade and how she has felt homesick on her mission.

I actually was a little pleased to know that Baboo had ever felt homesick in her life, especially her mission, because she was just so danged eager to leave.  Couldn't wait to leave home!  And she never really talked about missing us or feeling homesick at all.  So it was very reassuring to me to know that she did, in fact, actually like us and the home we provided her.  Not even kidding.

Anyway, so Wink now had a name for what she was feeling --"homesick."  Anyway, I thought that since SHE had been the one to decide to go to school yesterday, we were over the hump.  But maybe there's just a lot more humps and bumps ahead.  Because this morning she was moving along just fine.  Wiyah was teasing her and had her laughing all morning until I finally (and wrongly!) stepped in and told Wiyah to quit distracting her so she could get ready.  I needed her to hurry and get ready for school.  And at the mention of the word "school" she totally just lost it again!  Crying for the rest of the morning.  At school she was just sobbing but was obediently getting out of the car when it was time to be dropped off.  But I just couldn't let her go like that!  So I had her come sit in my lap and we said a prayer together.  I reminded her that she had "Baboo in her pocket"  (the photo pendant of Baboo.  And Baboo had told Wink that she'd be wearing her necklace and praying for her all day!) and a surprise from me in her lunch (just a little note).  She said, "I just don't want to be homesick!"  And I told her that it was ok to be homesick and I was so happy that she loved me and our family so much that she would miss us.  I told her it was ok to feel that way.  That I bet other kids in first grade felt that way and I felt that way sometimes too.  I told her it was ok to cry.

Eventually we got out of the car, her face was soaked with tears.  But as soon as we stepped onto the sidewalk, she started drying her tears and stopped crying.  She got that stoic robot face on again and I held her hand as she walked to where she lined up.  A girl ran past us and said hi and I asked Wink if she knew her.  She did.  We found out a little later her name was Jessica.  Just that little bit of talking softened her robot face a little, but didn't bring back the tears.  She still didn't really look at me as she entered the school.  Behind me, her English teacher came up and asked if she was feeling better today.  I said, "not really."  And the teacher tried to offer some words of comfort, but the whole exchange seemed a little forced to me.

And again I wondered, "WHAT IN THE HECK AM I DOING??"  I'm sending my sweet precious into the belly of the beast where she does not want to be to spend an entire day with people who don't love her.  It was torture.  It still is torture.  And every second I'm wondering if I'm doing what's best for her and if I need to do something else (like homeschool!)  Ugh.  I hate this feeling.

In other news, I was released as Bear Den Leader at church.  I was really glad to be released.  I have never asked to be released from a calling.  But there are certain callings where I rejoice to be done.  And I've never really enjoyed any calling in the primary and am always happy to be released.  This one was no exception.  Also, I was relieved because between two jobs AND two callings, I was feeling stretched thin.  So Yay!  No more cub scouts!

Unfortunately, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire!  Because right after I was released, I was called to be a primary teacher!  Of course I accepted this calling from the Lord, but I'll admit to a heavy sigh and a feeling of dread and disappointment.  I will be teaching the CTR7 class which is the class of kids who will be baptized during that calendar year.  And Pinkleberry is thrilled for the next few months because that's her class!  The best thing about this new calling, though, is that Wiyah was actually called as the same time as me.  So we will be joint teaching that class together.  And unlike me, she is really excited about it!  So she tells me that she will do it all and I just have to show up.  Of course, I won't let her do it.  But I don't mind her enthusiasm and energy to tackle it!  I hope it rubs off on me.

Interestingly, that means that Wiyah and I live together, we work together and we both have two callings that we do together now.  I am definitely spending a lot of time with my daughter before she leaves on her mission in less than four months!  Speaking of which, she got her passport, but other than that we have not done much to help her prepare.  Honestly I don't know when I'm going to fit in things like going shopping.  It took so long with Baboo!  Wiyah and I are working on getting Christmas music together for the choir.  We'll need to start practicing now to pull it all together in just a few months.  I love doing the Christmas program.  I love picking the songs and putting it together with meaningful thoughts. It's one way that I enjoy being creative.  Wiyah is always talking to me about stuff on pinterest and I always say that if I ever join pinterest I will commit suicide because I can't take all that creativity and cute stuff that people do.  It just makes me feel so bad about myself.  So I stay well away.  But putting on a choir program lets me be successfully creative.  But the cool I was realizing at our last rehearsal is that BABOO WILL BE HOME FOR THE CHRISTMAS PROGRAM!!  Maybe she will even sing with us!  I'm so excited!

What else?  JJ is driving the kids to school.  He actually got in an accident with a post in the high school parking lot and damaged our van.  But luckily he had already been rear-ended a couple months before and the amount to fix the van was more than the blue book value of the van.  And since the van was still running and functioning fine, we kept the cash.  We are hoping to buy a used car with that money ASAP.  I'm dying for a third vehicle here.  Buying before November would be ideal because the other car registrations are due in November and December.  But honestly if I could buy a car before Friday afternoon, that would be just fine with me.  Friday's schedule is pretty much unworkable with the vehicles we have and all the people and all their places to be.  In order to make it work, the Hubba will probably have to take public transportation to an out of town event.  It's a long story.  Sigh...

Anyway, we're looking for a very old used car.  $2000 or less.  Automatic.  And the Hubba is requiring that it be sold by someone we know personally.  He doesn't want to get taken by a dealership or a stranger.  Unfortunately, I've been looking for two months already and no one we know is even selling a car at all--let alone in our price range.

JJ has also got a date for homecoming this weekend.  He'll be going with a group of friends.
X has been going out a lot with his friends, too.

Pink and Wink have a new friend who just lives down the street from us.  I can't believe I haven't encouraged this friendship before.  I feel foolish for not knowing this little girl even lived there, considering how I've been wanting them to have a little friend close by for some time now!  Anyway, the little girls have been playing non-stop with Natalia down the street for more than a week now.  They come home and go right back out again and I won't see them until I send someone to fetch them hours later.  They love it.  And honestly, I love it too.  I love that Winkleberry is always included and she's close enough to walk to.  I love that they play dress up together and go play at the school together and ride bikes and scooters together.  It's beautiful.

Our house is still torn up.  We have one room that is almost done.  The sad thing about this room is that it still has our old furniture in it which now clashes horribly.  But at least the room is light and bright now.  Eventually, I'll take photos.  In the next room, we just need to get bead board up on the walls.  Once that room is done I feel like I'll get my house back in order.  We are rearranging some rooms to make things work better.  But the rearranging doesn't start until this other room gets done.  So right now all is chaos and messy and out of order and there are belongings and furniture that don't have a place.  It's just ugh!  And our family room still needs to be painted (maybe the Hubba will feel up to going to Home Depot tonight?!?!?).  Once that's done, then we need to get the new floors in.  We're going with engineered hardwood.  And then when the floors are done, we need to put bead board up in there too.

For the two months that my house has been in total disarray, it's actually been very liberating.  Because we have a really good excuse for the mess now.  And having a REASON besides just being disgusting people who don't have their act together, makes it ok.  So we've had people coming in and out all the time.  In fact, we've had more people in and out of our house in the past two months than we've had in the past two years.  Sad.

So here's a funny story.  Well I don't know if it's funny, but it was kind of nice.  Anyway, I was on the phone last night with the customer service rep who's been helping me with my computer and the project I'm working on at the office.  I've talked to him daily for a couple weeks now.  So I'm on the phone with him and we're waiting while the computer works on something to see what the result is.  He didn't want to hang up until we knew it was working.  So we're just sitting there waiting.  And somehow we got into this great conversation.  It was awesome.  He lives in El Salvador and we were talking about languages.  He told me that he taught himself English just by watching TV and movies and mostly listening to American music.  Amazing!  We talked about Spanish and German and Finnish and Gaelic.  Seriously we were on the phone for like 30 minutes just talking about all these languages we loved and what similarities we noticed and how best to learn languages while we waited on my dumb computer.  It was just really cool.

Alright, I finally feel like I've spent all the thoughts that were clogging up my head.  And it was so good for me to just actually sit here for an hour and think my thoughts.  But now it's time to get going and get ready to head back to the office and babysit my computer and talk to my customer service guy.  And if I hurry I do still have time to take care of one other matter of business for our very own family, too!

Just FYI, I'm still here and I'm still alive!


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