Thursday, January 30, 2014

don't trust your mother...

So, as you likely know, we all had a severe bout of whatever it was that we had: My Dr. said it was bronchitis (mixed with mild asthma), Ethan's Dr. said it was allergies (but he had an ear infection, so they gave him antibiotics anyway), and Ashley's Dr. said it was just a cold that wouldn't go away. Yes, we each had to see different doctors at different times, and even though we had nearly the exact same cough for the exact same length of time, but we each had something different...?

Anyway, I had tons of my own and other people's medications to keep track of. And my brain was fogged up from not being able to breathe for nearly an entire month, and coughing non-stop (which should have given me abs of steel, but whatever.).

So, the other day, I wondered why Ethan's 10-day antibiotic still had a million pills left in the jar when it had clearly been over 10 days since he started. Then I read the label. TWO pills a day for ten days. In my brain-missing stupor, I'd been giving him one pill a day.

Ethan asked why I'd been giving him the wrong dose, and I told him he shouldn't put blind trust in other people, including his mother, and should always study out the truth for himself. Read the label with his own two eyes. Then I thought that sounded like appropriate life advice, not just for antibiotic use.

Too bad this advice was coming from someone with a medicated brain cloud, who couldn't figure out how to unlock the deadbolt on the front door the other day.

Glad that cloud has lifted. Ethan can probably trust me again...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

we've got a Champion of Character on our hands

Ashley was one of a few kids selected from each school in the district to receive a special award for her good character and to be recognized publicly for her work ethic and good behavior. 
 Unfortunately, the ceremony was at half time during a basketball game. On Sunday.

If you know us, you know we take the Sabbath Day seriously. We try not to do anything that makes it feel like any regular-old-day. We are happy to visit with friends because that's a wonderful thing to do on Sundays, but we generally don't do play grounds or wild-and-crazy birthday parties or athletic events.

So it was a conundrum.
Part of what makes Ashley's character so good is her desire and willingness to follow the commandments.
I gave Ashley several things to read about keeping the Sabbath Day holy (like page 38 in this magazine), told her to pray about it, and that we'd support her in whatever she chose. She took the decision seriously.
The next day she decided to not go to the event.
 A week or so after she made this decision, her teacher handed out free tickets to all the kids in the class and told them go to the game and cheer Ashley on when her name was called. The Principal would be there, too.

Ashley came home confused, and said she felt like maybe she should go, since people would be there waiting for her to come out onto the court for her award. Chris said we needed to also think about supporting the people in the community who celebrate people with good character, and also let the people like the principal and teachers who love and respect Ashley know that we appreciate their recognition of our child.
 Ashley decided she wanted to go, and we supported her. She got a t-shirt, a certificate, her face on the big screen at the basketball game, and a hug from her principal.
For Ashley, it was a happy/not so happy experience -- even though it was thrilling to go onto the basketball court with all the flashing cameras and cheerleaders waiving sparkly pompoms, she never really felt completely good about doing something she knew she shouldn't do, even for a good reason. The boys kept telling me they knew we shouldn't be there, it didn't give them a good feeling either, even though they were happy for Ashley and it was a cool event. We left as soon as she got off the court, and the boys were glad to leave the stadium and go home.

It's interesting how much we all learned from this:
1. It wasn't worth sacrificing something we strongly believe in for a few moments of glory or fun.
2. The spirit can tell us when we've made a wrong choice, even if it's too late and we've already done the thing. This is going to help all of us make different choices in the future.
3. It's good for us to not take the commandments lightly. If there's going to be an exception to the rule, it needs to be studied out and prayed about -- the kids could each feel that, as this decision was being made over the past week or two.
4. We can't judge others who don't hold the same beliefs as us, or don't do the same things we do (one of the boys wondered why other people could go to the game without feeling kind of bad inside). We just have to do what feels right to us.

I'm writing this down for our blog book so that someday when the kids look back and say, "Remember that one time when we went to a basketball game on Sunday?" that they'll also remember it was a big decision for the whole family. I hope they remember how it made us ponder what is important to us, and reaffirm to each other as a family what we really believe.

We are SO proud of Ashley, the way she works hard at being a good student, a good example, and a good person.

Monday, January 27, 2014

skating party

Ashley was invited to her twin friends' birthday party at The Skate Station, and she was really excited because she's never skated before.
It really is a tragedy that my daughter has never been on roller skates. What kind of a mother does that make me? Skating is all I ever did when I was her age, and I was going to be a professional roller-skater when I grew up. Maybe there's still time for that dream to come true... 
 I decided to pay for Ethan to skate, too. His feet have grown so big, he fits in Chris's old in-line skates, so he's been practicing on our sidewalk outside lately. He decided to try out roller skates. He did pretty good! In the picture below, he's the tall, skinny, dark ghost next to the fluorescent-green-and-red-shirt-boy's arm.
 In the picture above, you can see Ashley and her birthday friend Julie hanging on to the wall at the right. That's what they did for quite a long time. The other girls were mostly wobbly on their skates, but most of them had been once before, so Ashley was the wobbliest. But she caught on eventually.
I loved watching all of the girls take turns holding hands with each other and worrying about each other every time someone fell down. Such sweet friends. And, as a mom, it's always a sigh-of-relief kind of feeling when you see how much the other kids like your child.
The girl in the blue and white striped shirt in the photo above is Ashley's almost-twin. For years now, people have confused the two of them at school, or else asked Ashley if they were sisters. It's less pronounced now that their faces are maturing into pre-teen-ness, but I still occasionally have to do a double take when Edesse is nearby.
Sweet Ashley was nice and shared her games and prizes with Ethan. 
 If our local skating rinks weren't so expensive (it was over $9 per person), I think I might want to hang out there all the time and let my kids get their energy out. Now Ashley wants skates for her birthday. We'll have to see what we can do about that. :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

friendship notes

For the past long while, we've driven our friend Ernie to church each Sunday. He has a trachea tube and an oxygen tank, and he uses a cool robot voice.
The kids like seeing Ernie because of his cool robot voice, and because he is so upbeat and friendly. Also, his cool robot voice has a southern accent.
 He often surprises us with gifts, like illustrated books that he drew (like the first picture), and also these fun friendship notes.
Ernie hasn't been able to come to church for a month or two, due to health issues, and we really miss him. I wanted to remember these fabulous pictures he drew for us, and the best place for that is on our blog -- which will eventually become a blog book, so the kids can look at them whenever they want to!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MLK day of Manatees

 We headed out to see Crystal River yesterday because we figured the beach would be too crowded by the time we woke up and got ready. So we went "hiking" instead (which is basically taking a stroll through the woods, here in The Swamp).
It was nice to feel the sun on our skin again. Between arctic blasts, an unusual amount of rainy days, and horrible bronchitis, we haven't been outside as much as we usually are. We were lucky to have such a nice (chilly) day to go for a walk through the woods -- even though most of us coughed the entire way, and Ashley's feet got itchy due to her allergy to the grass here.
 In this picture, Ashley is so excited because they took a different rout than Josh and I, and they saw a strange Beetlejuice cemetery. She took pictures and will post them on her blog soon.

Crystal River's city mascot is the manatee, and there are statues and paintings of them everywhere. When we stopped to ask a park ranger where we might be able to see some manatees, she said "Turn right at the Sonic, and stand on the bridge." So that's what we did.

 These kayaks are about how big the manatees were. We were so excited when the manatees silently swam below us! We could see them in person much more clearly than you can see them in the pictures.
 Then some rowdy boys grabbed on to the do not jump off the bridge sign, and jumped off the bridge, scaring the manatees. They were lucky they didn't land on any of the endangered manatees OR the boats that quietly passed underneath us.
I look a little mad (and the camera stretched me weird-ly), but really it was just windy and chilly up there on the bridge, even in the sunshine. Everyone had fun seeing the manatees, and now I can check that off my Life In The Swamp to-do list.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The year of change...

We started our year with a nice bit of peace-of-mind. Chris landed the job we hoped for, and they did the whole process early enough that we are able to enjoy our last semester in The Swamp without all the worry of will we have a job in a few months, and what will we do if we don't have a job in a few months?...
We also started our year with some good food.
A friend from church, who also lives in our village, brought us a gift from her road trip to see family over the holidays. She'd stopped in New Orleans and brought us some Beignet Mix (french doughnuts) from Cafe Du Monde. That's all totally fun to say, not to mention fun to eat.

And It was fun to start the New Year by seeing Old Friends! The Ross family that used to live in the apartment below us a few years ago came to town, and the kids had fun reconnecting. Especially the brainy boys, Zane and Ethan, who debated for two days straight about important matters such as which Lego's are more "rare" and which Wii games are the best.
I stole this picture from Michelle's blog because when I had my camera with me, I forgot to use it. And when she took this picture, I forgot my camera.
Also, Josh decided he's a ninja. And yes, he went out in public like this. His mother must be so proud.

Our year started out with almost everyone (except Ninja Josh) feeling sick with a terrible chest/head cold (which was not a change from the way we ended 2013...), but this will definitely be a year of big changes.

*Josh will get baptized
*We'll move across the country again for a new job
*Ethan will start his second "first year" of middle school (since 6th grade is still in elementary school in UT)
*Ashley will join the ranks of the double-digits on her next birthday
*I will officially become middle-aged
*Chris will be SOOOOO busy and stressed out teaching a class, finishing his dissertation, and starting a new job.

Can't wait to see how the new year unfolds!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

christmas catch-up

So our village installed some nice wireless internet boxes all over the place recently, and it was great. Then a few weeks ago they came around and claimed to be giving us more googleflexcapacitormeters, or something technical like that, to make it even faster. Suddenly we had such low signal strength, we were lucky if we could get online at all. Well, after much ado about nothing, they fixed something, and we have reliable internet again and now I can update my christmas pics, publish our blog book, and move on with the new year.

Here's how most of December looked for us, as well as how we welcomed in 2014:
We've passed around a stomach bug, fevers (making Josh miss his second year in a row of pajama day at school), a strange dizzy sickness (in which Ashley fainted in class while reading in front of her entire class and had to get an EKG to make sure it was nothing serious!), some massive chest cold where we all nearly lost a lung (except for Josh who strangely never gets colds anymore), and then a sniffling-sneezing-stuffyhead-runny-nosed head cold (where I feel like I'm swimming under water all day long). It was a wonderful way to end the year and start a new one.

But despite the icky sicknesses, we also had some fun.

 One of my best friends (although more like a sister at this point) from high school came from North Carolina to go to Disney World for Christmas. It was so much fun hanging out with her family for several hours before they went to Sea World on Christmas eve.
Also on Christmas Eve (I wish I'd remembered to take a picture!), our wonderful friends from Suriname invited us over for dinner. 
(This picture isn't from christmas eve, it was from a church activity our families went to together. Too bad Iwan wasn't there! But Muriel is the one who made us a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner.)
She made some amazing (non-american) foods for us. It was all SO good, and we had fun hanging out with them. She wouldn't let me help cook or clean up (which I still feel bad about...), but it was such a nice Christmas Eve for our family.
Then we came home and they opened their traditional pajama present before going to bed.

As I said in the last few posts, for Christmas this year we decided to not buy presents, but use our money to go to Universal Studios and make some memories. Santa left a few things in their stockings for them to look at on Christmas morning. But other than that, there was only one present each under the tree from my parents (Chris's parents sent a gigantic box for the 12 days of Christmas, so we enjoyed their christ-centered gifts every day, all month).

It's pretty amazing to me how happy the kids were, even though there wasn't much "stuff" this year.
Ashley is kind of obsessed with wearing hair accessories around her wrist, so Santa bought her a whole bunch of new ones. And Grandma gave them little Lego sets to build, which they loved.

 On Christmas day we took the money my parents sent to Chris and I as our present, and went to see Frozen. Seeing all that snow on the big screen made us feel cold, despite the 70* weather outside. It was a cute movie, and the kids said it was the Best. Christmas. Ever.
 I'm thankful they are easily pleased. Despite the sicknesses, it was a stress-free holiday without the bustle of shopping and wrapping and wanting more stuff. I think this could catch on as a new tradition for our family. No presents, just family activities!

Here's the last picture of Christmas. Ashley would be mad if I didn't include the picture of her as Mary. Our stake put on a lovely nativity activity, where lots of families loaned their little manger-scenes, and the stake set them up in the gym. The young women groups made dozens of cookies, and the primary set up this fun photo booth and craft room. It was a nice way to remember the reason for Christmas.