Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A couple people who have babies around the same age as Kaden have asked Tony why we still have Kaden in a rear-facing car seat. The short answer is because it is the safest option. While it's true that we can legally put a baby into a front-facing car seat when they reach 12 months old AND 20 pounds, that doesn't mean it is safe. I didn't always know this. I made the poor decision of turning some of my other kids around in the car seat before I should have because I didn't know any better back then. Babies/toddlers should stay in the rear-facing position until they outgrow the limits of the seat they are in. For Kaden, that will probably happen between the ages of 2-3 years old.

Here's a video that can explain it better, showing the difference between front and rear facing seats. Take a look, and take a moment to reconsider whether or not your child is in the safest position.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Look it"

Several weeks ago, I noticed that my kids were saying "look it" whenever they wanted someone to look at something. Since that is such bad grammer, I pointed out that "lookit" isn't a word, and now we are all making an effort to use better grammer. Now that we are aware of it, we notice how much other people say it.

Kaylee is trying to educate the other students in her Kindergarten class. Everytime someone says it, she lets them know it isn't a word. Then when she comes home from school, she gives us a full report on everyone who said "lookit" in her class, and lets us know that she is trying to fix the problem....LOL.
Stupid Old Man at Meijer

Usually when we are out shopping with Kaden people stop to say he's cute, ask how old he is, etc. Today, however, and old man came up to us to ask if we feed Kaden enough.

Sometimes people say that jokingly because Kaden eats pretty much constantly, so it funny to joke about how he's starving and we never ever feed him.

But this man was serious. He asked again if we feed him enough "because he is so skinny and pale". I try to be polite to every one, even stupid rude people. So we just kinda looked at him funny and moved on.

But first of all, he isn't "so skinny". He is in the 50th percentile for weight. None of my other kids were as big as he is at this age. The doctor always says it is obvious that he is very healthy. I'm just floored that a complete stranger thought he needed to point out that it looks like we don't know how to properly care for our baby.

Oh yeah.. and he is "so pale", huh? Have you seen his mommy??? I mean, I was right there next to him. Is it unhealthy to have light skin now?

Stupid people should talk less.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Every year, there is a costume contest and potluck at Tony's work. I picked out his costume this year because I found it to be especially funny this year. I love that he wears whatever I pick out for him. There was a hat with it, but he wanted me to paint stripes on his head instead, and he was brave enough to get me out of bed early to do that.
Yup, that's me, just minutes after being dragged out of bed. Isn't he sweet to take a morning picture?? (as a side note, I see it's time for me to clear the mess of notes off of the fridge)

Tony wanted mug shots.

Here he is on his way to work (this "convict" must have gotten work release), complete with his ball and chain, and some yummy jello w/bananas to share at the potluck (LOL)

edited to add: Tony won $50 for 3rd prize in the costume contest at work! Yay! Oh, and imagine all the looks he was getting when we stopped at Meijer...LOL.

We are already planning next year's costume.

This was a GREAT shopping trip!
Total Spent: $8.22
Total Savings: $36.33 (combined sales and coupons)

It's so much fun when I am able to get such a great deal. It's like a game, and I get an excited "high" from this sort of thing. I'm going to go back today and do a similar purchase now that I know for sure that my plan worked.

Here's what I got for my $8.22:
2 bunches of bananas
2 avocados
Parmesan cheese
2 dozen eggs
20 boxes of jello
2 boxes of cereal bars
32 oz coffee creamer
2 bags of candy

Monday, October 27, 2008

When Tony first got the box of costumes out, Kaden really took a liking to the ladybug costume. The next day, I put the tigger costume on him to see how it fit. Once it was on, he went right over to the box and pulled out the ladybug costume again. We actually have two of them- one pink and one red. The pink one seems to be his favorite. He just HAD to wear it.
Oh yeah... that black thing in his hand... I'm pretty sure that's a gernade (part of big brother's army costume). LOL

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A couple weeks ago, my church and another church decided to merge and become one (or was it more of a take-over?). It's kinda like a marriage. In order to become one, both sides (one more than the other) give up certain things. There is a lot of adjustment involved. The newness is both stressful and exciting.
Limbo is over. It's a little bit sad. It's so final, and it almost seems like a betrayal to the church we used to be. But we will never be that church again, so we must pick ourselves up and move on.
I don't mean to sound like this is a bad thing. There is a lot of good that comes out of this new mix. I love the new people in our church family. It's just that I am still mourning the loss of so many friends that have left during the last 8 months. Wondering why. Not understanding.
hmm... my intention was for this to be an excited blog post. I guess it didn't quite work out that way.

Monday, September 08, 2008

"In better hands now"

I just saw the music video to this song (by Natalie Grant). Before seeing the video, I thought the song was about being protected and "in better hands" once you give your life over to Christ (agreed). It seems I wasn't exactly on the same page with what the artist was saying though. She seems to be talking about when we go to Heaven. That's great and I agree, of course. But I guess I am just not in the place where I can handle the reality for those left behind. The song is meant to give those who are hurting peace and comfort. Instead, I am feeling more traumatized by the images than anything. The video isn't graphic at all. But to see the agony of a mother holding an empty baby blanket, to see the little boy running slow motion into the road to get his ball while a car is coming...it's just too much. I don't want to let my kids out of my sight. I don't want to drive anywhere. It all just seems to risky. But the reality is that if it is God's time, nothing I do or don't do is going to change that.

God, please protect my family from separation or harm (especially while we are all so young). Let us continue to live for You here on earth for years to come, and give us peace that Your plan is always the one that is best.


Friday, September 05, 2008

The other day, I asked my kids what they had for lunch at school. My 10-year-old son explained that there was a burrito, a cookie, and some other stuff. But then he said "but I didn't eat the cookie". It's rather shocking that a child would be given a cookie and then not eat it, so I asked him why. He said "because I traded it for another burrito"...LOL. So he had 2 burritos for lunch, while his buddy had 2 cookies. That reminds me of when I was on a field trip with him a year ago. A kid at his table inquired about Andrew's dessert. Pretty soon Andrew had traded his dessert for the other child's string cheese. They were both very happy about their trade. I think Andrew has made a reputation for himself as someone who will trade perfectly good treats for regular, healthy food. Isn't that great? (well probably not so great, according to the parents of the kids who are trading with him and having just 2 cookies for lunch...)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back to School Time!

During the past few weeks people have been asking the kids and I if we are excited that school is about to start. Up until last week the answer from all of us was "no". The kids weren't done enjoying their summer. I wasn't ready to go back to a structured schedule with the kids. Plus, I enjoy having them home (most of the time, anyway). But last week something changed. I guess we all had about enough of each other. The kids started getting very annoying; arguing, picking on each other, complaints of being bored. We all started looking forward to the start of school and the changes that would come with it.

The kids are back at Timeberland this year. We spent 5 years with Timberland, and then we went to a different school last year. Three Oaks, which is only a couple blocks from our home had a great preschool program for Kaylee, while Timberland did not. We decided to switch school so the kids would all be at the same place. We like most things about Three Oaks, mostly that it was a small school and we liked how close it was. The teachers were great too. As much as we liked Timberland, we were thinking about staying at Three Oaks, mostly because of how close it is to home. But then, a "failing" charter school in the area was shut down due to it's poor test scores. It wasn't our school, so it shouldn't have affected us, right? WRONG. The failing school's management company decided to take over Three Oaks. Our principal and many of our teachers were fired and replaced by staff from the failing school. They also brought busses to Three Oaks in order to transport all the students from the school that was closed. What happened to the school was wrong on so many levels that we didn't even have to think about whether we would send our kids there this year. That door had clearly been closed.

For some reason, I looked into the local Christian school, which is also only a couple blocks from home. I think that would be a wonderful school to send my kids to, a bit of a dream come true. Unfortunately, even with a reduced tuition fee there was no way we could make it happen. We prayed about it daily, knowing that if it was God's plan for the kids to go there, HE would make it happen. It seems that it wasn't his plan for now, and that's OK. Not only were we not able to afford the school, but they were also rather rigid with their policy that children need to turn 5 by September 1st in order to start Kindergaten (state law says they need to turn 5 by December 1). While I agree that it is best in most situations to let the kids do a year of DK when they are one of the younger ones, I do not agree that it is best for every child. Kaylee is more than ready for regular Kindergarten, and if we did go to that school, I would have to either put up a huge fight to get what's best for her, or just hold her back because they said so.

All three kids have great teachers. I requested Kaylee's teacher because that teacher seemed to really want Kaylee in her class, and I really like the teacher's aide. Rae Ann has a teacher that we had a couple of years ago for her step-brother. We have always liked her and she is great with both students and parents. Andrew has a male teacher for the first time ever, which I am excited about because the teacher seems to have a lot of things in common with Andrew which doesn't happen as much with female teachers. Also, a good friend of his from boy scouts is in his class. It's nice to be back at Timberland. It feels like we belong there.

I have already been able to get more things done around the house with 3 of the kids gone, and it's only 11am! They are quite helpful in doing chores around the house, but it's amazing how much faster it goes when I just do it myself. It will also be much easier to keep Kaden on a schedule he is happy with since his sister won't be here to wake him from his nap minutes after he drifts off to sleep.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Oh what fun it is to ride...

Our friends have invited us to go out on their boat with them several times this summer. It's fun to cruise around the lake, to stop and swim, and to go tubing. Well this time, they have a huge tube for 3 people. We spent hours taking turns on it today.

Even Kaylee wanted to try it out. She had a blast! That's her on the tube with Tony and Brad, airborne!

Kaden loves to ride the boat too. He is pretty good at keeping his balance while the boat is going.

Rae Ann had a blast on the tube too, of course. But she loves to help out with the little ones too. That's a good thing, because when there are 2 adults on the water, that means there are 2 adults left on the boat, one to drive, and one to watch the tube making it a little bit difficult to tend to the little kids. Have no fear, Rae Ann is here!

We fed the ducks on the way through the channel. They must have really appreciated it, because pretty soon they were chasing us for more. Aren't the little baby ducks cute?

Ah... it's so nice to feel the the warm breeze, sitting in the front of the boat.

In contrast, here is a picture taken in February...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 12, 2008
Just another busy day…(a post about nothing, really)
Tony volunteered for Last Call Ministry last night, so he got home around 3am. We got up around 8:30 to get Andrew ready for his Boy Scout camping day. Andrew was picked up by his friend’s dad. We headed out to Grand Rapids to meet my family at Mongolian BBQ. We haven’t done this for at least a couple years. My kids don’t like the food there, so we let the girls spend the night/day with my friend Liz. They always seem to have a great time together. After we ate, we headed to Dunkin Donuts. We always try to make a point to go there when we are in GR. Those donut holes are so darn good!! Next, we went to Baby depot inside Burlington Coat Factory. Except we forgot where it was, so we wasted some time driving around looking for it. But Tony has this new program on his phone, so he had a map and the phone number to the place. That helped…LOL. I don’t know how we managed to forget where it was, since we go there almost every time we go to GR. Usually when I get lost in GR, I call my brother in law so he can get me un-lost, but he was at a wedding right then so we were on our own…LOL. Anyway, we had to go to Baby depot because the strollers at Walmart are attached to a high shelf with zip ties, so we can’t try them out. Baby Depot has like a hundred strollers on the floor to test drive. We already have 2 strollers. But the trunk space in our Expedition sucks. Our big stroller won’t fit at all. And our other stroller takes up the entire trunk, so we can’t store anything else. Crazy, huh? If we still had a mini van it would be a non issue. But really, we need a small stroller. So we were debating between 4 strollers, based on the size (folded) and several other features. The sales lady came and spoke highly of one of them, and then asked if we folded it a second time… excuse me? A second time you say?? This thing fold in half, and then folds in half again. Then you can throw it over your shoulder and carry it just like a folding lawn chair (the kind in a bag)! So Tony says “we’ll take it!!” LOL… we weren’t really there to buy it right then. We just wanted to test them out. So now Kaden has this really cool stroller. He thinks he is just the coolest baby in town with his new ride. Seriously, he is thrilled. Later, my friend gave me a kiddie pool. So I put some water in it and let Kaden “swim” in it. He loved it. Eventually, I took his diaper off so he could just go skinny dipping. He was thrilled when he saw the new “accessory” that he usually keeps hidden in his diaper. He squealed and everything when he saw it. My brother came to help Tony put a new window in the basement. We packed up the car and truck to go join Andrew at his camp out. Tony would be spending the night there, while I would be going home with the other kids. When we got there, we noticed that we forgot Kaylee’s shoes since she was still sleeping when she got put in the car. Rae Ann was nice and shared her crocks with Kaylee. Tony and I took Kaylee and Kaden down to see the sun set. Kaylee always has cute, insightful things to say. I said “You sure are smart. How did you get so smart?” I fully intended to get some credit here, because I am convinced that I have a lot to do with her smarts. So she thought about it a moment and then revealed that she is so smart “because of Mary Beth”. This is a dear friend of ours, who does in fact contribute to the intelligence of our children and their love of God. But Tony and I just looked at each other and busted out laughing. So much for getting any credit for making her smart…LOL. Our kids were very well-behaved at the camp out. Eventually, we went home, leaving Tony and Andrew to spend the night at camp. We did prayer time, and when Rae Ann mentioned “daddy and Andrew at camp” in her prayer, Kaylee fell apart. She couldn’t bear the thought of sleeping at home without daddy here. She was so pathetic about it. She suggested that we could drive right back up there and bring them home so she could sleep. Isn’t that sweet?

Monday, June 30, 2008

A few little rants…
I guess lots of people think I have a “good baby”. What the heck is a good baby? Do some people have a “bad baby”??? Sometimes people say my baby is spoiled… how in the world do you spoil a baby? Is it because I hold him so much, and/or wear him in a carrier quite often? I think the word spoiled means that something went bad (like food). So which is it? Do I have a good baby or a bad baby?
I have an attached and content baby. Exactly what a baby should be. You can’t spoil a baby.

Now on to the proper use of car seats… I can’t think of many people I know who actually follow the laws and use car seats the way they are intended. I saw a statistic that about 80% of car seats are used improperly. From what I see, I think that’s about right.

Let’s just go over a few basics here. First, in order to turn a toddler from rear facing to forward facing, they have to be at least a year old AND 20 pounds. It’s the law here in Michigan. True, if you have a smaller child, you may not be able to turn them around until they are nearly 2 years old, if it takes that long for him/her to weigh enough to turn around. Of course, people who have researched it and are passionate about their child’s safety will typically keep their child rear facing until about 3 years old. It’s safer, and it could be the difference between life and death. Why don’t more people care??? Next, the car seat needs to be installed very tightly in the car. This may require that you put all of your own weight against the seat while installing it so that it is in securely enough to not move. It takes an extra 30-60 seconds to do this. But again, we are talking about safety and using the seat correctly.

The next thing is the chest clip. So many people put this in the wrong place. The chest clip goes across the chest at arm pit level. If it is across the stomach the child will likely to be injured or thrown from the seat in the event of an accident. Sadly, it’s more often I see it done wrong than right. Sometimes, I mention it to the parent. Sometimes the parent is receptive and thankful to know how to do it properly. Other times, they do the nod and smile thing where they pretend to care, but with no intention to change it while inwardly thinking I’m nuts.

2 more things… The car seat harness straps need to be tight; tight enough that you can only wedge a couple of fingers under the straps. Bulky winter coats are not to be worn in a car seat. I know that seems difficult to avoid that during cold Michigan winters, but there are ways to keep your child both warm and safe. (use a sweater instead of a coat, then cover the baby with a blanket in the car. Bring the coat along for things like playing outside, not riding in the car seat).
The last thing I am going to point out is that car seats expire. Most seats have a life of about 5-6 years. The seat may still look good after the expiration date, but the plastic breaks down and is unable to hold up upon the impact of a crash. Also, once a car seat has been in an accident it must be replaced, regardless of its age. Any seat that has been in an accident should be destroyed. If money is an issue, you can get a perfectly safe seat for around $40. There is no reason to use an unsafe seat. I wish more parents cared…

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Yesterday, I noticed Kaylee (age 4) was playing with an empty cardboard tylenol package. A few minutes later, I noticed that both Kaylee and the package were gone. So I went in the living room to find Kaylee standing in front of Kaden (8 months) with the package. She was ripping off pieces of cardboard and giving it to him to eat. Stifling a laugh, I said "Honey, we don't feed cardboard to babies" (or anyone for that matter, but that wasn't the point). As she tore off another piece to feed to him she stated emphatically "But he LIKES it!"

You probably had to be there to get the full effect of it all, but it was just SO funny.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Here is a picture of Alayna taken yesterday, in China. My sister and her husband are going to China next week (!) to get her. They will meet her on Easter, and the new family will be home on April 4th (that happens to be Tony's birthday).
Can you imagine what it must be like for Alayna's new parents? They have been working on the adoption process for over 5 years, and now they are finally getting the daughter they have been dreaming, planning, and praying for. It must be bitter-sweet to get a picture that was taken yesterday- she is so close, yet SO far away. She is their daughter, and yet, someone else had the privilege of taking her picture yesterday, of picking out her clothes, playing with her, sharing meal time with her, cuddling with her. I would tend to feel a sort of jealousy about all the moments that other care givers have gotten, while the parents feel the ache of 'almost' having what they have longed for and worked so hard to get- their own daughter.
I pray for them, that these last 9 days will go by quickly, and that the adjustment to becoming a family will be perfect for the three of them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lately, I have been walking at the mall a few times per week. I want to get a bit of exercise, and the mall is the logical place to do that until it gets warmer outside. If anyone wants to set up a time to walk together, I'm up for that. I'd love to build a friendship while walking.

A couple months ago, my mom sent me something about a certain store in the mall that is known for having inappropriate displays- nearly nude models right out front for everyone to see. http://americandecency.org/main.php?f=updates_new/2007/december/12.14a.07
It's about time!

Last week, when I walked past this store, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the store had switched to using models WITH CLOTHES ON! Yay!

Now women won't be faced with an image that displays all that is comparatively inadequate about their own bodies. Now we won't have to shield our children from images they should not be exposed to. Now men walking by won't have to deal with this potential stumbling block in their quest for pure thoughts.

Unfortunately, the store does still have some small posters displayed in front of the store that could qualify as "soft" porn. I look forward to the removal of those pictures as well.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Here is the newest addition to our extended family! This is my new niece, the long awaited daughter for my sister and brother-in-law. The whole family is thrilled, and we look forward to her finally coming home with her parents, sometime in the next 2 months. Isn't she beautiful?!

I meant to say a few things about the video below, but I got side-tracked for a couple weeks...LOL.

In the video, the guy on the right is annoying the snot out of the guy on the left by throwing paper clips at him. Imagine being the guy on the left, trying to concentrate on doing your job on the phone, while the guy on the right seems to think it's OK to throw things at you. Very annoying. I think the man on the right needs to be put in his place.

The man on the left seems to have a different idea of what it means to put that jerk in his place. I'm not so sure computers neeeded to be thrown all over the place while Lefty scrambled to attack Righty.

Notice how Lefty grabs a keybord and uses it as a weapon to beat Righty. Notice also, how all the other co-workers just sit and watch the scene play out. Most of the co-workers continue to talk on the phone with customers, as thought nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

I wonder if Righty made a habit of throwing paper clips at all of his co-workers?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

This one is important to me. I need to know that even when bad things happen, it all fits into Gods plan. Everything will be used to glorify God. Even evil things will be turned around and used for His glory.

I’ve been holding tight to that. Over the last year, a couple of awful, life-changing things happened. It would be easy to just be angry with God, wondering why he let these things happen. Surely, there can be no good that comes out of these awful circumstances, right? Wrong!

Even when we can not see what His plan is, or how He will fix things, we need to believe that He has not abandoned us. Faith and hope are important here. No matter how hopeless a situation is, there is always hope. Of course, God may not answer the way we want Him to. Changing my heart is sometimes part of the process. That change brings glory to Him, and also changes my expectations of how He will fix things for me. I know he won’t let me down though.

Some examples of how God has turned things around for me…

We built a family room in our basement in December. Weeks later, a water pipe broke, flooding our basement, ruining our new room. Just two weeks later, I can say that this has been turned into a blessing. Our family room is already fixed. It is better than it was before. We couldn’t afford to make it as nice as we wanted to, but the insurance money allowed for better than we had before. In fact, the abundance that we were blessed with allowed us to pay for some other wants/needs that we had and could not afford to pay for. God is good!

It was looking like I was going to have to send 2 of my kids to Germany for part of the summer against my better judgment on this issue. It was a very scary thing to send them to see there dad, halfway across the world. But God intervened. I do not have to send the kids on a plane so far away. They will still get to see there dad, and it will be a wonderful vacation for them all. God is good!

I can already see God’s glory in one of the heartbreaking things that happened last year. Like our family room floor, God is restoring things to better than they ever could have been before. We can only do so much on our own, but God can do so much better for us!

The other major thing that went terribly wrong has yet to be resolved. I don’t have any idea how God is going to fix things and that can be very scary. It’s OK though, because I trust God to make everything right and to protect us. There has been incredible spiritual growth, both personally, and within the family. So already, the situation has glorified God. It will even more so when He works his miracles and we have a testimony to share. God is good.

The building that our church has been meeting in for 3 years was destroyed this week. We will never meet there again. Although it is just a building, it is still a little sad to know that chapter has been closed. We have a new building, but it isn’t ready, and it will take some time to make it ready. But I have no doubt that this is God’s plan. We were praying for something to give, for something major to happen to help us get our building finished so our church family can move. I don’t see how, but this is it. Something major happened. This is the start to something incredible. God is Good, and He hears our prayers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

1 Peter 5:6-7, therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Basically, stop trying to fix things on my own. When I humble myself under the mighty hand of GOD, I recognize that only HE can fix things. For me to try to do it on my own would be silly. I have no power. HE has all power. While I remind myself that HE has all power, I will also remind myself that HE has perfect timing. HE knows when to put HIS plan for me into action. I just don’t like to wait. If I let myself fully trust HIM it should be easier to wait for HIS perfect plan be shown. HE cares for me, so HE will take care of anything I surrender to HIM. It’s not about me anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Let's return to the LORD. He has torn us to shreds, but he will bandage our wounds and make us well. In two or three days he will heal us and restore our strength that we may live with him. Let's do our best to know the LORD. His coming is as certain and the morning sun; he will refresh us like rain renewing the earth in the springtime. Hosea 6:1-3

There is a season for healing. Lots of times, when things are renewed, they end up being better than they ever were before. When something is broken by the enemy, and then we let the Healer mend the wound, it will become stronger than it ever was before.

If a marriage is nearly torn apart, and then the couple hands the pieces over to God fix it, the marriage will become stronger than it ever was before. Without being broken, it may have never gotten the extra strength that was built when it was handed over to God for mending. It’s just a beautiful example of how evil can be turned around to give God glory. By handing things over to God to fix, the plans of the enemy blow up in his face (so Nah!).

I am excitedly hopeful as I wait on the Lord. My timing is not His timing, which always makes waiting difficult. But the Lord has NEVER let me down when I have surrendered my worries over to Him, and let Him take care of things. In fact, He has a habit of working things out better than I ever could have.

I will do my part. I will do my best to know the Lord. In knowing the Lord, I will also trust Him. In His time, He will take care of everything, and He will protect me from that which I fear.