So Veggietales has added an interesting element to my kids' education. Thanks to Silly Songs, they have learned all about various animals and other things that don't normally come up. Like:
various chinese dishes
So Travis says, "I am as full as a water buffalo who ate too much yak cheese."
And Justin responds with, "Full Alps." (Translation: I am as full as the Alps."
Where do they come up with this stuff?
P.S. Justin started saying his name and Travis' with 2 syllabes a couple of weeks ago. Big deal! It was just "tin" and "vis". And now it's more like "Jstin" (he slurs the consonants) and "Tavis". So much closer!
The BIG Be the Church Day was Sunday when all the church was out working together. The group that I worked with was plating the meatloaf and rice we made the day before, plus baking blueberry muffins. And we asked other members to bring homemade cookies to add to the plates for dessert.
It was a flurry of activity working to get everything done by noon, our deadline when people started coming to pick up the food to be delivered. I had so much fun! Everyone worked so well together and we enjoyed each other's company.
We had these great plastic plates with lids that are freezer/microwave/dishwasher safe that we loaded up with the food. Meatloaf in the big compartment, rice in the medium one, veggies in the small one with a bit of water to help it cook when it gets microwaved. The some press and seal wrap and a roll and bag of cookies on top. The plastic lid goes on top with instructions for how to heat. We made 29 plates (weird number, I know, but that's how it worked out).
Then we made 6 dozen blueberry muffins with yummy streusel topping. I think streusel makes everything look fancier!
The kids (with one adult for guidance!) bagged all the cookies. We put 2-3 in each bag, mixing them up so each one got a couple of different kinds of cookies. Some of the cookies went of the plates and some went to nursing homes where our members went to visit and sing some songs. I think a few went in little tummies as well!
I forgot to get a picture of all the bags ready to go, since things got really busy for a while, so here are just the last few. We loaded the plates, soup, muffins, and a few extra cookies into bags to be delivered. (Trader Joe's has the best bags!)
We met our deadline and all the bags were picked up by noon! Everyone worked so hard. And no muffins or other food was burned, dropped on the floor, or otherwise lost. And no injuries! I think that's the definition of a successful morning. Travis said he had a great time and wants to do it again. All the workers said they would be up for doing this more often. We talked about doing more cooking for our homebound members so we may attempt to tackle that project in the coming months. (Maybe after Christmas!)
All the other projects went well too: Kids wrote invitations to our church's Pumpkin Patch celebration later this month. Some of the men did oil changes and minor auto repairs. A group cooked and served a meal for 200 people at an inner city church we support. We took donations and stocked the shelves of our church's food pantry. A group of women sorted and organized dresses, shoes, jewelry, and accessories for the Giving Gown program our church manages and houses. Some members went and sang and took communion to our homebound members. And several groups did clean up and repairs at both our church building and at various member's homes.
That's the group that finished up Randy's parents' fence. They SO appreciated having the posts set already so all they had to do was the finish work. It went fabulous and they were done quickly. Randy's parents loved having the group there and set out to show them some hospitality. They enjoyed a pizza lunch and all the drinks they could consume! God planned some beautiful weather for that day and it was in the 60's and sunny. Great work-outside weather!
Randy headed up and effort to clean up our neighbor's yard. We did some work for the last year and they needed it again. Randy was back on the roof and there was more leaf-raking going on. They didn't collect quite as many bags this year and they were able to trim the bushes, which made the whole place look great. And some of our other neighbors planted some bright fall flowers and set out some pots to give it some good color. I think it might look better than our house! (We could use to do some bush trimming and flower planting ourselves!)
All in all it, was an awesome day. I get so pumped by this whole experience, seeing everyone work together and having such a good time. I cannot help but see God's hand everyone working through his people to do amazing things. I love knowing that God's name is being praised and lifted up. I am blessed and humbled to be used by Him to serve. He worked things out so well I can't even tell you how cool it was to see it all happen. God is so good!
On Saturday we made all the food for the homebound and sick members of our congregation to whom they were to be delivered on Sunday. The plan was to make a day of meals: muffins, soup and individual plated meals, all things that that could be frozen. Then they could be thawed and eaten anytime!
Our menu included chicken tortellini soup (a family favorite!) We made five batches and portioned it out into containers to freeze. It was a lot of soup!
We also made meatloaves - 4 to be exact. Meatloaf is such a good comfort food!
The only un-tried recipe was the rice pilaf we made in the crock pot. We had three crock pots going. It was wild rice with mushrooms and peppers (we used red and green) and it looked so pretty! We had to sample it when it was done and it turned out great! I was so pleased. I love when food looks pretty AND tastes good!
Then we got the muffin pans ready for Sunday and got a little silly too!
I took Alaina's pack and play up to church and put her in the room next to the kitchen. She slept so well so we got all our work almost done before she woke up. She was a very good helper in that way!
It was Be the Church Day again and we enjoyed a fabulous weekend of activities. Randy and I both headed up different projects so we did a lot of organizing! Be the Church is a day that our entire church goes out and works to show God to others through our actions. I LOVE how the power of community makes things happen!
I helped with making meals for our sick and homebound members. We made the food on Saturday and assembled and delivered on Sunday. So we made several trips to drop off food and supplies. This is Justin hanging out waiting for the building to be opened. Don't you wish you were that flexible?
Then we were off to take down part of Randy's parents' fence and replace the posts so the crossbeams and pickets could be added on Sunday. The boys LOVED helping with this project! They both got their gloves on and used whatever tools we would share with them. Too much fun!
Alaina had to stay inside with the grandmothers. She really wished she could be outside in the action...
The guys narrowly averted tragedy by missing a sprinkler pipe. There was quite a discussion about whether it was hit or not. Then there was sprinkling of various parts of the yard to verify all was well. Also a bit of sprinkling of the help. It felt good.
My job in fence destruction is disposal. I got to pound over all the nails and haul this pile to the curb. As I was working I realized that last Be the Church Day was before I was pregnant and this was is after Alaina was born, so I did not get out of physical labor at all. Not good planning on my part...
Here was Justin's favorite job: Moving this pile of dirt...
Do all boys have a fascination with dirt?
So one time when I made my trip out to the curb with the pickets I found a man picking through the rubble and examining each board. He needed to repair his fence and he chose our discard to use. He hauled it away in his wagon. Too funny!
And here is my pile relocated to the curb. So pretty! And now it's gone!
Then it was time to dig the holes. Randy was a taskmaster and he made us go down a full 24 inches. I was responsible for ensuring that Pop followed orders.
Justin did more "helping"...
Alaina resigned herself to playing with the girls. I think she was dreaming of tools while she slept.
My mom took a picture of me digging a hole to have proof that I helped. Actually, Pop and I did some good bonding over hole digging. The dirt was so much softer than at our house and I would be happy to dig more holes there and not at our house!
Look at those pretty holes! And the 80 pound bags to concrete ready to go into each hole. (We let Randy haul them!)
Almost done for the day. Once we got the posts set we were done and the next crew came in on Sunday to finish up.
I wrote the boys' initials in the cement to show they helped.
All in all, it was a fun family day. And a great start to Be the Church Day weekend!
We have been going to doctors all week and we have one more to go next Monday before we get a little break.
Monday: We went to the chiropractor. Justin has been getting adjustments to help with his constipation. He seems to get out of alignment in a part of his spine that affects intestines and digestion. We are hoping these adjustments hold so he can keep doing his thing.
Tuesday: Back to the orthotist. Justin's orthotics got trimmed and new straps and we're good for another 3,000 miles. Or three months at least.
Wednesday: On to the podiatrist for another check of my foot. It appears that it is not healing and surgery is back on the table. I am not quite sure what to think of that so I am calling another doctor for a second opinion.
Thursday: Alaina's four month well check. She is topping out at 25 inches and 12 pounds. Nice round numbers! She is doing well and good for another 2 months.
Whew! We made it through and finished with the week with another round of Black Light Golf with some friends. Four kids with golf clubs and glow in the dark golf balls can be quite crazy! It was good there was no one else there!
Nana came to town last week and the boys are loving all the attention. They even convinced her to get a tattoo! Justin got Lightning McQueen, Travis got a pirate flag and Nana got a dolphin. She wasn't quite ready for the hard-core stuff yet!
Alaina reached her four month birthday this week! You'll have to excuse the milk dribble down the corner of her mouth. She was ready for bed when I took the pictures and this was the best of the lot, in spite of the dribble.
Some of her big time accomplishments:
Rolling over both ways
Grabbing her toes
Sucking her thumbs, fingers, whatever
Lots of drools, but no teeth yet
Sleeping well, but not all the way through the night yet (She IS a DeCarlo)
Surviving in a home with two older brothers who love her bunches!
Travis has been making great progress in school. He is now reading very well and enjoying the books he is reading. (Shock!) I told him that he had to read so much of a book yesterday and he finished it instead. He seems to be grasping math much better and getting faster with simple addition and subtraction. What I love the most is how he is absorbing history, geography, and Bible facts.
Justin wants to be included too, which I enjoy. He only is with us two days a week since we do most of it during his therapy. I hope getting it two times (with Travis and then his turn) will help make it stick a little better. He does do gym with us most days, and sometimes aerobics with me. That is too funny! Here are some of the ways he helps:
He helps with Travis' memory verses.
(This picture is not even staged! This is how Travis looks to help him remember his verses! Makes me laugh!)
He does his writing with Travis.
And he especially loves the activities!
Here they are pretending to be bears with paws to see why God gave us hands instead. Travis let me tape his fingers together but Justin kept pulling them out. He was more interested in tape on his hands rather than taping his hands. Subtle, but very important distinction!
And here Travis was making a picture to show the various parts of an apple tree. Underneath is Justin's abstract version of the same. He is my little Picasso! It's all there, but not quite how God intended it!
We are just finishing up first grade and then I plan to do some review before starting second grade. I am so glad we got ahead before Alaina was born because we are enjoying a slightly slower pace these days!
So maybe you heard about the deejay in Canada who blogged about how he has a favorite child. The media is having a field day with his opinion and the comments are racing about how this will damage the other children. I would have to agree that even if there is a preference, it would behoove a person to keep the thought private. For the sake of all the children.
I mention this not because I have been wrestling with preferential thoughts myself, but because I have been feeling the tug of limited resources. Families have limited resources and they must be doled out to the children as needed. But the giving of limited resources necessarily deprives another. I fear this screams preference and this is just another example of how I am scarring my children.
I remember when reality television was just coming into popularity and a show about extreme makeovers was "must-see TV". There was a woman who had been raised in a family with one sister. Both girls had horrible teeth and needed braces desperately. The family could only afford one set of braces and somehow (I don't remember the circumstances) the other sister was chosen. The woman on this makeover show had awful teeth. So crooked that she never smiled. As a part of the show she got her teeth completely fixed and in the end she looked amazing. I remember the tears she shed when her new smile was revealed. She could not stop smiling! How much pain ran through that family because of that choice. On both sides. Guilt for having been chosen and pain for having not. Was there a preference there? The family's limited resources were allotted and there could be only one beauty. I don't know what I would have done. Not give either girl what was needed? Such a difficult choice.
That's the position I feel like I am in. I may have mentioned once or twice about the DeCarlo sleep gene. The one we are missing. So poor Alaina doesn't sleep well much of anywhere but her bed (if there) and we are gone from the house for most of the morning four days a week. That leaves only three days in our regular schedule for her to get a morning nap at home. Usually it is snatches here and there and she is beside herself she is so tired. If no one is in the waiting room at therapy I turn off the light and that helps her calm down, but she still only naps for 20 minutes at best.
So my choices are: give Alaina the sleep she needs or give Justin the therapy he needs.
It's just about the time. There is only time for one or the other. I know it's only about a year until she drops that morning nap, but there is a reason kids get two naps that first year - they need them! And it's amazingly difficult to get therapy these days. The waiting lists can be up to 50-100 people long! And we have a great schedule that I hate to give up. So does that mean I prefer Justin because I am alotting him the time for his needs rather than Alaina?
I really prayed that Alaina would be a sleeper. A sound sleeper. An anywhere sleeper. Not after Day 6 or so. Not so much.
So I am left with this choice. Will not getting the sleep she needs stunt her growth or development? I posed this question to Randy and he said, "Well, the reverse was not true for you so I guess it doesn't." That was mean. So I asked my sister and she said that there are tons of studies that try to claim connections between certain actions and future problems but there is probably no one thing that would be definitively damaging. Great, so my husband thinks I am stunted and while I may not have sealed the coffin on Alaina's fate, I probably put in the first nail!
I admit I overthink everything. Some days the napping thing works out okay somehow but other days I feel the stress creeping up my back and anchoring itself firmly on my shoulders. I assuage it by reminding myself that it's only another year. In the length of our children's lives this is nothing. I can get through it. And we are all in this together. At least my kids will know that I am human and I make mistakes. I like to cement that in their brains early.