Monday, October 30, 2006

Mon Oct 30

Larry is home!  Last night & today, he suffered through some HORRIFIC muscle spasms.  They toyed with several different muscle relaxers today before finding the right one.  He finally got released to come home about 7:00 tonight.  PTL, that part is over & we're on home field now!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sun Oct 29--Larry update

Just a quick update before I go get the kids ready for bed---

Larry has had a rough day.  He's pretty stiff & sore.  I'm not sure if it's because he over-did it yesterday or if it's because he had a bad night last night or what.  He didn't sleep a lot last night because he kept getting uncomfortable & without anyone there to help, he was stuck trying to get situated in the bed by himself.  He said there were a couple of times when he called for the nurse but it took them 20 minutes to get there & by the time they arrived, he was so exhausted from trying to get settled that he was hurting more than he was when he called.  I'm not sure if it was REALLY 20 minutes or if it just felt like 20 minutes to him.  Whatever the case, he had a bad night.  Tonight I really felt AWFUL leaving him alone again because I sooo wanted to stay with him, but I know that there are nurses there & they are capable of taking care of him.  While I was there today, he got up & went for a walk twice and I took him for a "roll" in the wheelchair outside.  He's struggling to get comfortable & stay that way today, so I hope that he rests well tonight & tomorrow is better.  He is ready to come home & be uncomfortable here....and I'm ready for him to be here.  They took out his drain, IV and pain pump today, so he's really on his own now.  I will get the kids to school in the morning & then head back up there for the day, and hopefully will bring him home.

The kids are all home now.  Everyone is playing & giggling & enjoying each other, but I've already broken up a couple of arguments...and it's only been a couple hours.  Whew....back to the grind.

One biggie----Andrew called me "mommy" today.  Right after he got home, the phone rang & he was closest, so he answered it.  I guess whoever it was (can't remember now) asked if Larry was home & he said "No, but my mommy is here".  I just about broke down in tears right then!  I got on the phone & answered the question of whoever it was....but was totally stunned the whole time.  Wow.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sat Oct 28--Larry update

Larry's surgery was yesterday morning about 8:20.  It went smooth & quick.  By 9:35, I was in a family consult room w/ the doc.  He said there were no surprises & that everything went great.  (Thank you, Lord!)

Larry woke up from the anesthesia fine (which was a concern of his, as he's been nauseated by anesthesia in the past).  He woke up from the sleepy-part of the anesthesia & felt pretty alert & was cracking jokes when they rolled him into the room.  When the pain-part of the anesthesia wore off, though, he wasn't so happy.  He had a hard time getting on top of the pain at first, but since then it's been manageable w/ the Demerol PC pump.  He hits the happy button faithfully every 10 minutes.  :)

By bedtime last night, they had him getting up to walk to the bathroom.  Today he got up 2x w/ the physical therapist & then another 2x just b/c he wanted to get up & move.  Although it's GREATTTTTT that he's up & moving so much, I'm afraid it may be TOO much.  I hope he's not horribly sore tomorrow after all the movement today.  I guess we'll see!

I'm home for the night to pack up Avon orders and get some real sleep.  The fold-out uncomfortable bed at the hospital is ok, but nothing is quite like sleeping in your own bed!

Thanks for the continued prayers & support.  We love you all!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tomorrow --Friday Oct 27th

Tomorrow morning at 5:30am, Larry & I will be checking into the Texas Spine & Joint Hospital in Tyler.  (If you'd like to see the place, the website is:  At about 8:00am, he will have surgery.  He will be there for 2-3 days before coming home.

We are incredibly blessed in that we have a friend coming here to spend the night tonight so that she'll be here in the morning to wake up the kids & get them off to school.  THANK YOU CINDY!!  We have friends from church coming to pray with us before the surgery.  We have friends from church bringing meals over after it's over.  Wow....we're blessed.

For those of you who don't know the details of this, here ya go.  Larry broke his back when he was 13.  Ever since he's lived with all sorts of back problems (spasms, severe pain in the break area, etc.).  About a year ago, he aggrivated it somehow (we still really don't know what happened) & he's been taking pain med's ever since.  We found out a few weeks ago that he has a tear in one of the discs.  Every time he strains or stretches the wrong way, the fluid in the disc is squeezed out & causes a muscle spasm.  This surgery will remove that disc & replace it with a titanium cage filled with his own blood & marrow, which will in time harden, creating a new bone & fusing the vertabra above & below it together permanently.  (There will also be some screws in there holding the cage in place.)  We are really anxious to get this over & done with!!

Please say a prayer for us.  If you don't hear from me (on the journal) for a few days, this is why!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Prayers for Andrew

Today was a really bad day for Andrew.  He woke up wet (nothing real new there, but still...not a fun way to start the day).  Before he left for school, he got into trouble for not cracking down & getting ready.  He was dilly-dallying around & goofing off repeatedly.  (again, nothing new, but I always hate to have the kids leave the house already feeling like their day is off to a bad start!)  Then at school, the same mean kids teased him.  He's got a few little brats who tease him about being "dumb" or "stupid" because he's in special ed. classes.  This week is Red Ribbon week & each day there is a theme.  Today was sunglasses day, so the kids had something new to tease him about---they told him his sunglasses looked like girl's sunglasses.  He came home upset about all that.  Then he was really frustrated & angry about his homework.  He kept screaming at the paper through sobs, saying "this is all so stupid!", "homework is dumb!".  When I calmed him down & reminded him why we have to do school, why it's important to have a good education, he started ranting about how he didn't care if he got a job or had money to live on, how he doesn't care if his grades are bad, etc.  Once he finally calmed down & we finished his homework, he was okay until the next big blow-up.  When it was church time, we couldn't find his Royal Rangers vest.  He went into his room to look for it & when I walked in 2 minutes later, I seriously couldn't see HIM for all the stuff he was throwing up in the air (& over his shoulders to land behind him) as he tore apart the bedroom in search of his vest.  Every pair of shoes & all the blankets got ripped out of the closet, half the books from the shelf, clothes from his drawers, name it.  I tried to calm him down, but he was just frantic.  He was so totally wigged out that it was almost as if he was posessed.  I went & called Larry to have him talk to him.  They talked for a few minutes & he did seem to get calmed down some.  They hung up & it was time to walk out the door pretty much immediately.  He layed down on the couch, facedown, and began to sob so hard that his whole body was shaking.  When I talked to him, he said he didn't want to go to "stupid church" because he was "too stupid to finish his Royal Ranger stuff" (tonight was an awards ceremony & he didn't get finished w/ this work in time to earn his patches for the ceremony)....and because he couldn't find his "stupid vest".  (Think stupid was the word of the day today?  :::grin::::)  I sent the other kids to the van & continued to try to calm Andrew.  I've seen him meltdown before, but these were more like true panic attacks, like the ones that Savannah used to have day after day.  The things he was saying about himself, the way he said it & the tone he used, I could tell this was a matter of self-esteem & not just a rageful was heartbreaking to watch & feel like I can't get inside his little head to help him see that these things are not worth the panic he was feeling.
As I drove to church, it all finally hit me.  Today was the day that G was officially sentenced & the family (Kelly's family) got to give their victim's statement.  Was Andrew's horrible day any coincidence?  No way!  Satan would love nothing more than to get to Andrew.  He's already got his claws half-sunk into this little boy & he would love to be able to claim him for his own.  Andrew's got a lot of "junk" to work through as he gets older.  He's hard a very unstable past with a lot of 'stuff' embedded in his mind & heart that he's having to break through one step at a time.  I know that Satan would love to carry on a generational curse of sin & shame, but I'll be danged if he's going to do it on my watch!  I spent the entire drive to church rebuking Satan's presence in this sweet boy.  I screamed (silently!) for him to get out of my van, out of my home & get away from this child!  I kept telling Satan "You can't have him!".  The Spirit of God is present & Satan can NOT reside where the Lord is!  I claimed every promise I could muster from memory for Andrew & asked for God to intervene & bind Satan from our home.
After he's been asleep for a while tonight, I plan to go in & pray over him again.  I think I'm going to anoint him and his doorway as well.  I will not stand & watch the Enemy carry away one of the little lambs on my watch!
Grrr.........can you hear the mama bear growl?  :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sun Oct 22

This week has been a tad stressful.  The A&K's dad had a court hearing on Wednesday.  He was offered a bargain, but denied it.  That meant he'd go to trial in a couple of months.  I thought he was sorta crazy to want to do that given the circumstances of his case.  I really felt like a jury would give him a MUCH harder sentence than the deal he was offered, but alas....that was his choice.
And then on Thursday, the news came that the DA renegotiated a new deal & he took it.  He will be officially sentenced on this coming Wednesday (25th).  He is accepting a 10 year sentence, which means that he will be eligible for parole in 2 1/2 years.  He's already served 8 months, so I'm sure they will apply that to his prison time, which means that he'll be eligible to parole in about 18-20 months.
In a lot of ways, I'm nervous about the future.  I guess one thing this whole saga has taught me is to be calm, rely on God's promises and just relax.  If I try to take this in big gulps, I'm bound to choke.  Going one day at a time is best.  It makes me nervous for the kids.  Unfortunately G & Kelly were not responsible parents and I fear what the future holds for the kids.  I'm certain that G will want to get the kids back once he's out.  There will be a tall & treacherous mountain for him to climb before that can occur.  I suppose if he's able to climb that mountain successfully, it won't be as hard to slowly let the kids go....but I am beginning NOW to pray for that time as I know it will be *EXTREMELY* difficult for all of us.  The emotions involved with all of that threaten to overwhelm me if I think on it too long, so onto something else!
On Friday, Larry is having a Lower Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery.  I think that's the right name anyway!  It's a lower back fusion if you're like me & don't know all the medical terms.  A friend from church is going to take care of getting all the kids up & to school that morning (THANK YOU CINDY!!!!) so that Larry & I can get to the hospital at 5:30am.  :::yawn:::  Surgery is scheduled for 8:00 & is supposed to last a couple of hours.  He & I are both anxious for this time to arrive & be done.  He's ready & feels very much at peace about it all...just ready to get it done!  He will be in the hospital at least through the weekend, possibly into Mon or Tues.  We have a lot of friends planning to come pray with us prior to the surgery, help with the kids all weekend, and meals coming in for that first week.  We are blessed!!!!!  Please join a great army of friends & family who will be praying for a successful surgery, quick healing and a smooth recovery time.  After he's released from the hospital, Larry will not be able to drive for 2 weeks and will be required to spend most of that time resting & recovering at home.  The doc wants him to get up & walk as much as possible, but not to push himself too far either.  After those first couple of weeks, he's free to slowly ease back into regular life as he feels up to it.  The story we get is that by 6 weeks, he'll be "back to normal" (whatever normal is!).  :::GRIN:::
THanks for your continued prayers & support through this great journey of our lives.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Oct 21--Fun day!

This morning at 9:00, Andrew had a soccer game.  When we got done, we planned to go pick up Larry's glasses and get Sarah & Kourtney's hair cut.  It turns out that the glasses place had about a million people waiting in line at the time, so I left Larry there & took the kids to the hair place.  When we got back, he was done.  I needed to go to the bathroom, so we pulled up at Ken's Pizza & I was going to run in to use their restroom when Larry announced "Let's just stay & have lunch."  Everyone let out a big 'hooray!' since this was a nice surprise!  While we were eating, Larry got on the phone & called someone.  I wondered who he'd dialed b/c he'd been sitting quietly listening the entire time...never speaking.  When he hung up, curiosity was killing me, so I asked who he called.  He was calling to check the time for a movie!!  When we left the pizza place, we surprised the kids for a 2nd time today by going to see "Open Season".  We all enjoyed it.  It's rated PG & I can see why...there are quite a few questionable jokes, but luckily they went right over the kids' heads and the storyline to the movie was very sweet, so it was a good movie for all of us.  I think it would've been equally great if they'd taken out the questionable stuff & given it a G rating though!

When we got home, we were all sleepy, so we took an hour's down time & we all took a nap, then it was back to work!  :)  We're trying to get all the laundry & daily housework caught up so that we won't have anything waiting for me after Larry's surgery.

Tonight I made this soup for supper & it was SOOOO good.  Only Andrew & Savannah really liked it (of the kids, that is), but if your family likes Mexican food, they'll enjoy it!

Mexican Black & White Bean Soup
1 T. vegetable oil (I used olive)
1 c. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 1T. of the kind in a jar)
1/4 c. flour
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
2 c. milk
14oz can chicken broth
16oz pkg frozen corn
15.5oz can black beans, drained
15.5oz can great northern beans, drained
4oz can diced green chilies (I didn't have one, so I left this out, but I bet it would be good!)
2 T. chopped cilantro (I used dried b/c I didn't have fresh)
Heat oil in a large soup pot over med-hi heat.  Add onion & garlic, cook until onion is tender.  Stir in flour & taco seasoning mix; gradually stir in milk until blended.  Add remaining ingredients except cilantro.  Bring to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to low, simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Turn off heat & stir in cilantro.
I sprinkled a little shredded cheese on top of each bowl just before serving.

Friday, October 20, 2006

50 Things I Have Learned this Year

As many of you know, I love to write.  Writing is therapeutic to me, giving me an outlet for all the stuff cramped up inside my head.  One day I hope to write a book.  I've already thought of the title:  That Was Not Part of the Plan.  So much of mine & Larry's life has included things that were "not part of the plan", but in the end, those ended up being some of the biggest blessings & life lessons. 
I've been thinking about this particular piece for a while now & decided to start working on it recently.  And so, here it is.  These are things that I've learned in the past year (something we should all consider & write down now & then, as God is always teaching us something new!).  I'm sure many of you with large (or small!) families will be able to relate.
1.  A yellow crayon on the bathroom floor = yellow crayon on the bathroom walls within the hour.  Better to go ahead & grab it before a pint sized Picasso finds it!  (But if they do, a can of "Oops!" from the Walmart paint section will take it off.)
2.  God really is enough.  Enough strength, enough peace, enough hope, enough grace ....enough.
3.  Scissors left unattended can create all sorts of havoc... home-down haircuts, pictures cut out of elementary school yearbooks, re-done sleeves & pant legs.  (Shall I go on?)
4.  Asking God to grant you patience is not wise.  It's much smarter to ask Him to give you wisdom to deal with a situation.  If you ask for patience, you will have to be tested later to see if you got it!
5.  Five year old girls like to feed the fish.  Five year old girls do not know how much food it takes to feed 1 fish.
6.  The power of the Holy Spirit is awesome.  Recognizing His nudgings & guidance is the best parenting tool!  Follow your convictions & you will be "training up a child in the way he should go....".
7.  Special education ARD meetings & IEP preparations can take as little as 20 minutes or as much as 2 hours.  Come prepared to sit for a while, but listen intently to every word.  You will be tested later.  :)
8.  The Word is alive & active.  It can not be spoken to a person (or child) without them receiving something from it.  You may not realize that they're really listening, but they are!  You will be reminded of this later when you hear quotes from them like "Children, obey your parents, for it is right" and "Jesus says it's not nice to hit!" and "Liars will be destroyed by God".
9.  JOY comes in all forms....but the best one is the laughter & giggles of a child recovering from a traumatic season in his/her life.
10.  Prayer is priceless.  Children need to hear you praying & see you reading your Bible & going to church.  It's hard to lead by example if you're not setting an example.
11.  An 8 year old boy with ADHD may be tough to love sometimes......but he can bring you endless happiness if you snuggle with him at bedtime several nights a week.
12.  Just about the time you think that no one else in the house could possibly get sick with the stomach virus that's going around, someone does.
13.  Children grieve in different ways than adults.  While all people mourn & grieve differently, the mourning of a child is different.  It's all equally painful, but a child can't express grief in the way an adult can, so sometimes it comes out in the form of anger or argumentativeness or stubbornness.  You have to keep your eyes open to SEE it for what it is.
14.  Hearing a 6 yr old boy pray for his dearly departed hermit crab is precious.
15.  Ceiling fan & closet light pull-strings can be pulled right out of the socket ifyou yank just right!
16.  A 10 year old girl is able to cook lunch and dinner & maintain order in the house for an entire day when mom is sick enough that she can't get out of bed.
17.  Little boys can make it clear across the room when they dive off the top bunk bed.  Doing so can give their mother a heart attack.
18.  Five year old girls who snuggle their pink baby blanket at night can melt your heart when they offer it to a sibling who's crying.
19.  Girls who read in the dark, while pressed up against their bunk bed rail, may fall over the rail when they doze off.
20.  God will provide.  From the smallest thing to the largest, He is sufficient.  Meals, time, money, labor, materials & so much more have been provided by the hands of the Lord this year.  He is so faithful to us.
21.  In a pinch, 5 children can be ready for school within 25 minutes.
22.  Watching a 5 yr old girl sleep soundly on the first night she's in your home will move you to tears.
23.  The promise of a puppy will NOT be forgotten by children under 10.
24.  Realizing how tragedy can bring together the strongest of friends & family is overwhelming.  One box of Kleenex will not be enough.
25.  Shelves, mirrors & other pretty pictures should not be hung on the walls of little boys' bedrooms.  After all, sometimes they fall & get broken by the breeze created by the air conditioner.
26.  Sometimes it's just not worth it to ask "Who dropped the toothpaste in the toilet?".
27.  A new package of gum is as good as gone if left in the side pocket of your purse during church.
28.  You really can FEEL prayers being lifted for you.
29.  Children *are* capable of sitting through a Sunday evening worship service without having to go out for discipline.  They are not capable of sitting through the service, however, without needing to go potty several dozen times.
30.  One never expects to use the words "underwear" and "swingset" in the same sentence.
31.  When you take 5 children into a grocery store, you're bound to get asked at least 3 times "Are they all yours?".  Someday I'm going to get brave & answer with something silly like "No, I picked up a few extras just to make the grocery run.  I figured it would be fun to wrestle a half-dozen kids while getting my milk & bread."
32.  A vacation of 900 miles in the van begins & is filled with much prayer.  Only God can grant quiet & calmness to the hearts, attitudes & mouths of 5 children all at one time.
33.  Trying to count 5 children in a crowd is sort of like trying to count fire ants when they scatter after you step on their hill.
34.  An Easter celebration is not complete without Resurrection Eggs.  Children really do listen to you talk when the eggs come out of the box.  Listening to them tell you the Easter story is very sweet when you realize that they sincerely "got it".
35.  1 fast food meal for a family of 7 costs a lot!  It is cheaper to buy a gallon of milk, 2 loaves of bread, 2 packages of lunchmeat, sliced deli cheese, ice cream for dessert and a bag of chips.
36.  While expensive, going to the movies or the circus with a family of seven is priceless.
37.  It takes 2 cans of green beans, 2 lbs of smoked sausage and a box of Rice a Roni to fill up 5 kids.  (Of course, mom & dad have to fend for themselves because the kids ate it all!!)
38.  Holidays can be celebrated with a mixture of spiritual & worldly things without losing the emphasis on our Savior.
39.  It's really funny when people try to figure out HOW you gave birth 3 times within ten months.
40.  At church camp, 8 & 10 year olds learn Bible verses, songs, cheers and how to do a lot of fun things!  They come home with blurry pictures taken with a disposable camera, but the pictures will be cherished forever....or at least til they forget who was wearing the blue shirt (that's all they can make out in the picture).
41.  Listening to praise & worship CDs in the car pays off when you hear your child singing "Holy Holy is our God almighty...." while they fall asleep at bedtime.
42.  Remote controlled cars have enough power to trip an overweight 30 year old woman when driven under her feet at just the right speed.
43.  Laughter is so very important to survival.
44.  Watching a 10 yr old girl teach an 8 yr old boy how to play a computer game ever so patiently is heartwarming.
45.  In parenting, not everything has to be lesson.
46.  8 & 10 year olds can do the laundry with a little instruction....and they think it's FUN!  Six year olds will attempt to help as well, but they can't reach the soap.  When given enough time, they will climb atop the washing machine to reach it before falling off & crying for mama.
47.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, failure will happen....and when it does, undivided attention can almost always cure the broken heart.
48.  Love notes written by children are some of the most precious keepsakes to preserve in the baby book.
49.  Little neighbor girls will run quickly if they know an 8 yr old boy likes them & is headed outside to play with them.
50.  God really is enough.  Enough strength, enough peace, enough hope, enough grace ....enough.  (Yes, I realize this one was listed above, but I thought it beared repeating.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thurs Oct 19

Today was nice.  After work/school, we met Andrew & Kourtney's aunt for a little visit.  I'm sorry that we didn't have longer to spend, but it was really neat to see the kids' reaction to her.  They were excited to see her & ran to hug her when we walked in.  :)  Savannah was at art class, but the rest of the kids were with me.  I'm not too fond of how it turned out, but here's a pic (above) of the kids & I right before we left.  Pardon the sunbeam at the top right & the side of Sarah's head....LOL

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wed Oct 18

If you're not here in E. Texas, you may not know about our weather.  It's crazy.  A few years ago we had snow on Valentine's Day.  It was on a Friday that year.  By Sunday, the snow was gone & we were running the A/C.  Yes....crazy weather, I tell ya!  Due to the weird weather, last week when a cold front came through, we all expected that it was finally going to be Fall-ish weather.  Hooray!  Nope, within 24 hours, we were in the 90s again.  Back & forth it's gone ever since, mostly staying warmer.  With the crazy up & down of the thermometer, 3 out of our 5 kids are coughing.  I'm positive it's all allergy-related stuff, but none the less, they're coughing.  I've been giving everyone some OTC cough/cold medicine.  Yesterday afternoon, Samuel said that his throat hurt "a lot".  Now, Samuel has well....his dad's pain tolerance, which isn't much.  :)  So a "really" sore throat on him might not be so horrific.  Then again, he's had ear infections before where the goo was running from his ears & down his neck before he ever mentioned that they were sore.  So ya just don't know with this kid.  I gave him some Tylenol last night & that seemed to fix it.

This morning, he got up & was real lethargic.  He whined & fussed about getting dressed (I ended up dressing him like an infant while he lay lifeless in my lap!).  He barely touched breakfast.  He said his throat hurt worse than it had yesterday.  When it was time to leave, we found him---back in bed, under his covers.  :(  Poor baby...  So I let him stay home.  I told him that we'd go to the doctor & see what was wrong.

This is what I wrote this afternoon when we got home from the doctor's office:

We're back from the doc....and sick or not, we've had a really sweet day together.  It's nice to have some one on one time with my little man.  Seems like I never get that anymore.
The doctor said that strep is going around a lot right now and since he's prone to getting it, he went ahead & wrote me out a Rx for it.  We won't get the OFFICIAL strep test back til later this afternoon, but Dr. H said that his throat looks like a throat w/ strep.  He said he'd call it "pharyngitis pending strep test results".  So I guess we'll see....
Samuel was really tired this morning, so he layed on the couch watching cartoons until time to leave for the doctor.  After we got done w/ the doc, it was lunchtime, so I took him to McDonald's.  I told him that, since he was feeling bad, he didn't need to play.  He was totally OK with that (which is completely abnormal for Samuel--he'd usually be the one begging to go slide).  We sat together in a little 2 person booth & shared french fries (we didn't eat off the same fry or dip in the same ketchup just in case!!).  When we got done there, we dropped off his Rx at the drug store & went to get my haircut.  He was so funny, sitting in the empty chair next to me, pretending it was a rocketship.  He had me & Annie (the lady who does my hair) giggling as he said things like "Engage rocket boosters!", "Attach the big guns & prepare to fire!".  It was so funny!  Of course, all of this with blue bunny (his beloved stuffed rabbit) by his side.  And before my haircut, while we were sitting to wait for Annie, he was in my lap snuggling me when he said "Mommy, I love you more than everybody else....well, except God."  When I asked why he loved God more, he said "Because He's our King!".  It was cute because he had a real "duh!!" sound to his voice when he said that.  When we finished with my haircut, we picked up his medicine.  He was coughing while we sat in line at Walgreen's so we decided that a sore throat needs icecream!  :)  Luckily, Braum's is across the road.
All in all, it was a really neat day with my wittle punkin.  I'm not sure if he has strep, but whatever he's got, I think he was happy to have a day to himself w/ mom.  (And shhh...don't tell the school....I did, too!)
UPDATE:  It is indeed strep.  Glad we went in & that we went ahead & filled his Rx.  He should be safe to go back to school tomorrow since we started the med early in the day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fri Oct 13

This week has been very full, to say the least.  Let me see if I can explain.
On Saturday of last week, Andrew had a 9:00 soccer game & then we left for Elkhart.  We visited with Larry's parents and then made a trip to the jail to visit G.  We took in the camera & took a pic of the kids with G before the guard came in to tell us that we had to put away the camera (oops!).  Want to see?  Email me!
Sunday was a regular busy day---church much of the day.
On Monday, Larry had an appointment with a neurosurgeon for his back.  After many years (about 20!) of struggling with back problems, it's finally reached the point of him needing surgery.  Dr. G is touted to be "the" doctor in this area if you have to have back surgery.  We were blessed that we were able to get in so quickly as most people have to wait much longer to get in.  We were told by several people that Dr. G would NOT recommend surgery if he didn't *really* believe that you need it.  When he walked in, he explained to Larry that he'd extensively reviewed his records & he believed that surgery would help him most of all.  And so, on Oct 27th, Larry will have a lower lumbar disc fusion.  Of the 3 surgical options available to him, this one carries the fewest risks, has the best recovery & success rate and seems to be the one that will help him most.  We're not sure of the surgery time yet, but I will update the journal when we know.  That weekend, the kids will stay with all the grandparents so that I can be available to Larry there at the hospital for the longest period of time possible.  Heck, it'll be like a date for us!  :)  LOL!  Seriously, though, your prayers for a smooth surgery & quick recovery is appreciated.
Tuesday afternoon....oh....that's my crazy afternoon over here.  With all 5 having homework on Tuesdays, it's a hectic few hours.  We pushed through homework time & just got everyone in bed!
Wednesday I had lunch with a good friend (Hi Stacey!) & was thoroughly stuffed until late that evening.  Yum!  TGI Friday's has awesome food!  That evening, the singles group went to play Bingo with the people at a retirement home.  It is really a lot of fun because the group there makes it so enjoyable for us.  One sweet man, Red, holds a sweet spot in my heart.  He's a diabetic veteran who's had both legs amputated at the knee.  I'm not sure if it was the diabetes or war that did that...but anyway....  He is a jokester & reminds me so much of my dad.  Always making us laugh, telling funny stories about his life.  Thank you, Red, for sharing your kindness with us!
I worked on Thursday & spent the greatest part of the evening bringing in & sorting through all of the kids' winter clothes.  We have got 7 giant storage tubs in our bedroom at this moment, piled high with all of the clothes that will fit the kids this winter.  Aside from a few gaps, they've got their fall/winter wardrobes all ready!  I'm going to spend much of the day tomorrow going through their drawers & closets getting out all the super-summery stuff.  I know that we will still have warm weather off & on through mid-November, but since we're having some cooler mornings & a cold front here & there, I think it's time to get this stuff out & available.  Sigh....that'll be a big job!!
Today was Kourtney & Sarah's field trip to the zoo.  I went as a chaperone & had such a fun time.  It's interesting to watch your own children interacting with other kids & parents.  I love seeing how they behave when I'm not there (because sooner or later, they all forget that I'm watching & start being silly with the rest of their class!).  I have lots of pictures of Sarah's group.  Kourtney's class had plenty of parents there, so I stayed with Sarah's group.  We only had about 5 parents with us.  If you want to see those pictures, email me!
Here's a sweet story....on Thursday night when I was getting out all the winter clothes, Andrew watched, wide-eyed as I opened his box.  When they moved in last February, we had a ton of clothing donations from friends & family who wanted to do something tangible to help.  His box was filled nearly to the top with clothes for him to grow into & the off-season stuff we packed away in the spring.  As he watched me pull out armfulls of clothes for him, he grinned from ear to ear, shocked at how much he had.  He'd squeal like a girl every time I pulled out something he had forgotten from last spring or something that he thought was new.  He finally spoke & said "So....when I was born, you & Uncle Larry bought me all these clothes for when I was 8 & stored them for me all this time???"  He was dead serious.  I giggled at the idea of us buying an entire winter wardrobe for him at birth & storing it til now....but I had to hug him too.  I figure he's never had this many clothes at one time before & is just astounded at the piles.  Honestly, his pile was the smallest of all the kids', but he was amazed none the less.  These clothes were a double blessing---once back in February when we got them & again last night when he "discovered" them for the first time.  To all of you who donated clothes for the kids, thank you!!  We appreciate everything you gave!
Halloween is coming up, quickly followed by Kourtney's birthday!  She says she wants to have a party at McDonald's, so I guess that's what we'll be doing this year.  I am ready!  Time to buy some party invitations & get that planned, I guess.  Want to come eat bad cake & listen to a bunch of 5 & 6 yr old's scream?  :)
For Halloween, we've got all the costumes bought & ready.  Savannah is going to be a Barbie pumpkin fairy/princess.  (No, I didn't know there was such a thing either.  Here, this is it:  BARBIE~PUMPKIN FAIRY~Halloween COSTUME~M 8/10~Cute!)  Andrew is going to be The Thing from the Fantastic 4.  Samuel will be the Hulk.  (Just typing that makes me'll see why when I share the pictures of them in their costumes!!)  Kourtney is going to be a lady bug & Sarah is going to be Strawberry Shortcake.  I can't wait to take them to the carnival & get lots of candy!!!  It'll be fun!!!!
I better run.  Please email & update me on you and yours.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Fri Oct 6, 2006

Tomorrow morning Andrew will play soccer at 9:00.  When he is done, we'll all hop into the van & head to Elkhart to see our family there.  It's such a neat thing to get to see both of Larry's parents in one visit now.  For so many years, we had to drive a long distance to see his mom.  Although we haven't exactly spent long periods of time at her house since she moved back to Elkhart, it's good to know that she's there when we go visit & seeing her is just a matter of a 2 minute drive vs. a 4 hour one.  We love you, Mammy!  :) 
We will take the kids to visit G at the jail as well.  Those visits are always bittersweet.  It's nice to see the kids interacting with their dad.  I want them to have a relationship with him & not just live with us and slowly forget about him.  It's sad, though, because they interact with him as if it's the most normal thing in the world to peer at him through a glass wall & talk to him through a telephone on the wall.  No little child should ever have to step foot inside a jail, much less to visit their father.  We will visit with him for a while & then go see Kelly's grave.  So far, the kids understand the *facts* of the matter, but they have not really connected G's being in jail to their mother's grave.  I'm glad that they don't see their father as a monster or a horrible person or anything like that, despite their (albeit) small understanding of how mommy died & why daddy has to be in jail, but I know that in time, that understanding will come & there will be a second mourning of sorts as they begin to realize the connection.
This afternoon, Savannah comes home from going to the Outdoor School program.  I know she will be full of stories & information for the rest of us.  I regret that I couldn't be there to SEE how things went myself, but at the same time, I am glad she was given this oppurtunity to see how her parents & our siblings grew up playing in the woods, discovering nature in a very different way than kids are able to do these days.  I'm just anxious to get her home & hug her neck!  I've missed my little sweetie these past few days!
I am blessed.  Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

lyrics to song I mentioned

Rachel Lampa---"Blessed"

Verse 1:

I may never climb a mountain so I can see the world from there
I may never ride the waves and taste the salty ocean air
Or build a bridge, that would last a hundred years
But no matter where the road leads
One thing is always clear


I am blessed, I am blessed
From when I rise up in the morning
Til I lay my head to rest
I feel You near me
You sooth me when I'm weary
Oh Lord, for all the worst and all the best
I am blessed

Verse 2:

All along the road less traveled, I have crawled and I have run
I have wandered through the wind and rain until I found the Son
The watching eyes asked me why, I walked this narrow way
I will gladly give the reason
For the hope I have today


You've given me joy
You've given me love
You give me strength when I want to give up
You came from Heaven to rescue my soul
This is the reason I know
I know

Wed. Oct 4, 2006--LONG entry!

Oh's been a while since I last posted.  Oops!  I think of posting every couple of days, but stay too busy to actually do it.  I'm so sorry that I have fallen behind on this when there are many of you who keep up with us this way.  If you see that it's been a week (or longer!) since I've posted, feel free to email/call/whatever & say "Hey you!  Post something!".  :)  Let me see if I can catch you up.
Andrew & Samuel:
A couple of weeks ago, the children's pastor passed out info about a Children's Baptism service coming up at church.  The boys brought us the cards & said they wanted to get baptised.  Larry & I don't believe that either of them are really ready.  While they both know the "church answers" to questions about salvation, they don't seem to get the personal side of it.  It is interesting, however, to see that they both have no real concern for salvation aside from the fact that if they do it & get baptised, they get to be in a big bathtub at church.  Hmm....the novelty of it is not a good reason to get baptised.  :)  It'll come in time, though!
All the kids:
Sundays have become more "intense" for us recently as the kids are now all old enough to attend Sunday night worship service with us.  Keeping 5 children still & quiet while trying to listen to a sermon & worship the Lord is umm.....challenging.  They do pretty well, though, so I can't complain too much.
On Monday evenings, Kourtney & Sarah are in twirling & jazz class.  It's one combined class that lasts 45 minutes.  They are both enjoying it, but I think Sarah is REALLY into it.  She stays glued to the teachers left leg most of the class time because she wants to be "right there" to see all the new steps & moves.  Kourtney, on the other hand, is more of a back row dancer.  She likes it & has fun, but she's not as "into it" as Sarah seems to be.  Sarah's already excited about the pretty costumes for the recital at the end of the year....Kourtney's excited about getting to dance on stage.  I am not sure if she realizes she'll have to do the class dance...not her own.  :)  Their two personalities make me giggle...they're so different, yet so much alike it's funny!
Tuesdays afternoons are a little nutty here.  All 5 kids have homework on Tuesdays.  Four out of five need some close supervision & help to get it done, so if you need me, please don't call on Tuesday afternoon/evening.  It's way too crazy for me to spend time on the phone.  Larry teaches the DivorceCare class at church on Tues evenings, so we don't see him til about 9pm--which means crazy homework time is up to me.  Oy!
Wednesdays are my "lazy day", hence the reason I'm able to sit & type this!  It's one of my days off each week where I can get some things accomplished at home, or just sit around & do nothing if I want to. 
Wednesday night church is getting exciting!  The boys are in Royal Rangers & the girls are in Missionettes.  Afterward, Andrew & Savannah are in choir.  They've begun practicing for their "Christmas Crosstalk" play they'll do in December.  They're both pretty excited about that!  If you think you might want to come see the show, let me know & I'll send you the details of date/time, etc.
Thursday afternoon is when Savannah has art class.  She is really enjoying it!  The boys also have Scouts on Thurs evening.  They're both in Cub Scouts.  Samuel is a Tiger Scout & Andrew is a Bear Scout.  They're having fun getting to learn & do all the fun stuff that goes along with Scouting.  Larry is pretty giddy about it himself.  Being an Eagle Scout, he's always hoped to get involved w/ the Scouts again.  He's having a ball taking the boys & getting to be one of the Tiger Scout den leaders.  This is the one thing in the boys' lives that I am sort of uninvolved in.  I mean, I'll be there for any big events that they want me to come for, but it's one thing that I can stand back & let Larry handle so that the boys get some "guy time" to do things that maybe mom doesn't know how to do.  It's good for all three of them & I enjoy watching them all come in from den meetings bursting with energy & excitement about what they've done.
Friday nights are usually filled with birthday parties or family outings of some sort.  This past week was Savannah's party.  Yes, her birthday was in August, but she wanted to wait for school to start so that she could invite school friends.  We used the church youth building & had 3 hours' worth of crazy, squealing girls.  They had snacks, pizza & cake, watched a movie & played 2 games.  Savannah got a bunch of cute gifts (not to mention some money & gift certificates, too!).  Everything went really well!
Saturday is soccer day!  Andrew & Kourtney both wanted to play, but after one day of it, Kourtney changed her mind.  Andrew is still very much into it & loves playing.  And really...sitting there for 1 hour instead of 2 is ok by me!  :)
Savannah--this week:
This week, Savannah is at the Holloway Outdoor School at Camp Tyler.  She left yesterday morning & will not be home until Friday afternoon.  They take the 5th graders there each year & have them stay 4 days/3 nights.  It is staffed by parent volunteers & the school teachers & some of the Camp Tyler employees.  She was so excited about this!!  They start telling the kids about it in 3rd grade & they create a piggy bank at school to start saving in.  It is not a free program, but it is a required part of the 5th grade curriculum.  She saved every penny of the first $100 by herself!  She used birthday money, money earned from chores, etc to save that much.  Larry & I subsidized the rest of the cost.  They do all sorts of neat hands-on science projects while they're there & hike through the woods to learn about ecosystems & nature.  One cool thing they do is tagging animals with a GPS tracking tag.  They watch the animal on a GPS system during the week & then track it down & remove the tag at the end of the week.  (This is for turtles, frogs, crawfish, etc.)  They stay in cabins and play in the woods, milk cows & feed the animals ...things that many of us country kids grew up doing as part of our regular life.  I'm so glad she's getting to experience this!  Larry is going out to spend the night in a cabin with a bunch of wild & wooley boys tonight.  I know he'll have fun....but I don't know about the boys he'll have to wrangle.  ha ha!  They had an abundance of day-time parentvolunteers, so unless someone cancels, they decided they didn't need me.  I'm a little bummed that I don't get to go SEE how she's doing, but then again, I might have not seen her there anyway, so I'll have to wait til Friday to hear the scoop.  I know she's having a ball!
Andrew/ARD meeting/school changes:
This week we had an ARD meeting to re-do Andrew's IEP.  At the end of last (school) year, we decided to fully mainstream him this year & see how he did.  Of course, we found out recently that he's dyslexic so he was already going out to the dyslexia lab 45 minutes/day.  He's doing fine at keeping up socially, but he can't handle the regular 3rd grade academic load, so he's now going back to attending resource classes for all but science & social studies.  He's with his regular class for science, social studies & then P.E., computer lab, music and things like that, but he is out of the room for everything else.  This year is the year that he will take the dreaded TAKS test.  Because he's going to the resource classes now, the special ed. coordinator for the school recommended the SDAA-II test (I think I'm getting those initials right) for him.  It's basically the same as TAKS, but the test is modified to fit whereever your child is academically instead of testing on a higher standard than they're capable.  I'm glad they decided to do this because I know that he would only get frustrated & discouraged if he had to do the regular test & then possibly failed 3rd grade because of it.
Kourtney is doing well in school.  She got good grades on her first report card last week.  She's mastered all but 1 of the "sight words" that they're taught the first 6 weeks.  Although she did have marks against her for being inattentive & talking too much, otherwise she did well.  We've been talking to her teacher lately & finding that she sees some of the same ADD type qualities that we do.  At this stage of her life, though, it's hard to say whether it's really ADD behavior or if it's just a matter of her being a 5yr old.  But since big brother has ADHD, she is at a higher "risk" for having problems with it, too.  We'll continue to watch her.  I know that part of her inattentiveness is because she's still in a new environment.  It's been 7.5 months, but for a little kid, that's still not enough time to take in all the new sights/sounds/smells.  We'll see, I suppose!
I realize this is a lot of info & longer than my usual posts, but I had to catch you up.  Last weekend, while we were at the Youth building for Savannah's party, there was a stack of free Rachel Lampa CDs.  I took one & have absolutely fallen in love with one particular song.  I won't type out the entire song here, but the chorus really nails how I feel:
"I am blessed....oh, I am blessed.
From when I rise up in the morning, til I lay my head to rest.
I feel you near me.
You soothe me when I'm weary.
Oh Lord, for all the worst & all the best,
I am blessed."
And another place in the song, she says:
"You've given me hope, you've given me love.
You give me strength when I want to give up.
You came from Heaven to rescue my soul,
This is how I know..........(chorus)"
Hmmm....getting a little excited just typing those.....I may just go ahead & include the lyrics to the whole song later.  It's too good to miss the words to the whole thing!  :)