Okay, so I pretty much have only one genius parenting move besides establishing an early bedtime when Camden was a baby, but let's pretend I have more than this.
Side note: ever since Camden took health last year, he is constantly spouting off random facts. One of them is that kids need 10-12 hours of sleep a night. And not that he had trouble going to bed before, but he reminds me often that he's ready for bed so that he can get 10-12 hours of sleep and have the most energy possible. Yes, my kids school go to bed 7:30ish on school nights when there is no baseball or church. And, yes, it's kind of fabulous.
I'm a big believer in teaching your kids how to do housework. Not because I necessarily need the help or don't have time, but because it's a life skill (their spouses will thank me one day) and because it helps promote the whole family/team concept we've got going on around here.
So every Monday is laundry day. The kids know it. Before they leave for school, they bring down their baskets overflowing with clothing that may or may not actually be dirty, and I spend Mondays doing all the laundry. Since we bought a new washer and dryer in the spring, Mondays are not nearly as difficult as they used to be by the way!
And every Monday afternoon when Camden and Rory get home from school, they know all their clean clothes will be waiting on their beds. They are in charge of hanging their own clothing up (we don't have dressers, unfortunately). In addition, I always leave the white load for them and the towel load for them. Now there is generally many moans and groans, despite the fact that they have done this for a solid 4-5 years now. I don't totally blame those moans and groans because I hate the white load too - that's why they're doing it. :)
They went through a phase where they spent HOURS doing these 2 loads of laundry because they would fight over each piece of clothing. Then they went through a phase where they would spend HOURS finishing up the task because they would get into clothing fights (think food fights, but with socks and underwear).
About a year ago, I had the genius idea of reading to them while they work. So now every Monday afternoon, they pull out the baskets while I pull out whatever book we're reading (I try to have one at all times that I'm reading to the kids - this summer's choice was the second Harry Potter book), and they fold while I read.
Granted, this system doesn't mean that I have extra time because they're helping with housework, but that's not the point for me. The point is teaching them a skill, and this gets it done while I do something valuable, which is read to them (a.k.a. spending time with them).
And because I'm sure you're wondering, the chocolate chip cookies yesterday were a hit. Of course!
I snapped this shot this morning because as we lived out the moment, I suddenly realized how often this exact set-up is happening: nearly every morning. I somehow won the carpool lottery and don't have to take the kids to school in the morning most days (I'm in charge of pick-up). We can't quite seem to get the timing down on when to wake-up. If the kids get up at 6:15ish, then we're finished with our morning routine (including showers, breakfast, devotions, packing lunches, etc.) by 7:00; carpool doesn't arrive until 7:20ish. This gives them 20 minutes to fuss and argue. But if we don't get up until 6:30, then I can guarantee that I will spend the entire morning rushing them and driving us all nuts.
So I opt for the earlier wake-up call even though it means extra time for them to find things to disagree about. After nearly 4 weeks of school, we have settled into a routine. Camden pulls out his ipod and plays music while reading out loud to me the weather forecast for every single place our extended family lives, anywhere we might have visited recently, in addition to Korea. It's alot of places. And I really don't care about the weather forecast, but I try to listen attentively. *Try* being the key word here. Rory pulls out her yearbook from last year and proceeds to read the names out loud of everyone in her class. I've only heard those names about 16,000 times by now. And did I mention Camden is reading the weather forecast out loud. Yes, this happens simultaneously.
Have I ever mentioned I am not a morning person?
I'd like to say that everything stayed perfectly calm this morning after the picture was snapped, but, honestly, Rory left the house in tears after getting herself in trouble with a nasty attitude. And remember how I posted all about how she's so compassionate, tender hearted, etc. I take everything back about it being worth it. I am about to go crazy with the incessant tears and breakdowns every morning and every afternoon. Especially because the tender heart has more recently turned into a vicious cycle in which she has a pouty/bad attitude for every gentle instruction I give her, then she feels bad and sobs on my shoulder. A few minutes later she returns sobbing yet again asking if I'll pray with her. Repeat, repeat, repeat. She literally leaves the house every morning with her shirt (and mine) completely wet with tears.
Oh. My. Stars.
After a talk with a friend yesterday who has a tween daughter, I'm not so sure this parenting a little girl thing is going ever become any simpler. Or less dramatic.
Anyway, I think I might need to bake up a batch of these chocolate chip cookies, because it's been at least a week since I've tried out a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. Sounds like a good plan for Thursday, right?
While Brian, Camden, and a group of church kids went camping Friday/Saturday, this is what Rory and I did.
And then this: Chick-fil-A ice cream and TV. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.
And then while Brian came home early from the camping trip to mow the yard, Rory and I met with some sweet friends I met during my original chemo months. We were all on about the same schedule and had the same diagnosis. You may remember my posting that those early chemo days were not as depressing as it would seem, and that was mostly because of the company of these ladies.
I don't have a picture of Camden from the camping trip and day at the lake, but I hear there was a big tubing incident in which he got the breath knocked out of him.Uncle Michael was near enough to help him out, not to mention that thanks to Uncle Michael, Camden was able to attend the camping trip/day at the lake. I guess there are perks to having your uncle as the youth pastor: a 10 year old nephew just might get to sneak into teen events a couple of years early. This is one tired boy. It's Tuesday morning, and I'm not sure he's recovered yet.
Sunday was a good day of church followed by lunch with friends. This picture is SO typical. Camden does not have any concept of personal space. Not any. You can pretty much guarantee that he is going to be touching one of us at any moment. We spend alot of time gently (or sometimes in impatient parenting moments not-so-gently) reminding him to give us just a little space. (Camden is reading while Brian catches up on the football game from the night before.) Brian is much better at this lack of personal space than I am.
Rory learned how to make a treble clef last week in music class, and she has come home and drawn treble clefs free handed over and over and over. Not a bad job, right?
Read this quote from Ann Voskamp yesterday morning: "God is always good and we are always loved . . . Even when what He gives may appear ugly." Good to remember.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you I got pulled over by a policeboy policeman (who was all of 18 years old) because I forgot to turn my van lights on as I pulled out of church Wednesday night. He wanted to make sure I was not intoxicated, but as soon as he shined his flashlight in his eyes, he started backing up and said, "Please don't worry, ma'am. You're not in trouble." I don't know if it was the sobbing 6-year old in the backseat (she was convinced we were going to jail) or the fact that I'd just pulled out of the church parking lot. Our car pool friend texted me the next day that Rory told them "my mama got arrested last night for not having her lights on."
The policeman also thanked me for stopping since "some people don't bother." I didn't realize not pulling over was an option.
We're all still trying to get back into a school routine. Apparently 1st grade is very taxing because Rory keeps asking for a nap every day. Unfortunately, there's no way I can let her nap at 5:00! Last night she fell asleep on my lap while I was reading to her so I took her straight to bed. It was 6:40.
Ball practice started for both kids this week, and considering how tired they both seem at the end of the day (not to mention how tired Brian is), I'm hoping it wasn't a mistake. I manage to forget every single year what an adjustment going back to school is.
Our weekend is full of tee-ball practice (Rory), church camping trip (Brian and Camden), and then a meet-up with some friends Saturday (me and Rory) (Rory and I?). Sundays are pretty busy for us. Between Brian's early wake-up (this man gets up at 4:00 nearly every single day; I don't know how he does it), praise team practice prior to Sunday School, and then actual church services, then cleaning up after, Sunday mornings end up feeling like a full day's work by the time 1:00 rolls around. We protect our Sunday afternoons/evenings pretty carefully, and I'm looking forward to having us all home and basically doing nothing. Brian usually watches golf/football and dozes on the couch while the kids play video games (it's the only day they get to during the school year). Sunday night usually involves popcorn for supper (so healthy I know) while we watch whatever current HGTV/Food Network competition is on. Early bedtime for the kids (oh, yes, 7:30!) and then Brian and I try to catch up on whatever show we're watching while he grades papers.
On today's agenda is car pool, iced coffee from the local coffee shop (my Friday morning tradition), and then cleaning the house from top to bottom. It will stay clean until the kids get home from school so, you know, totally worth the effort. :)
And one picture of Rory after her haircut this week. She said, "I feel at least 16, mama."
I mentioned my friend Amy the other day and their surprise referral of a sweet Korean boy. Because this blessing happened many months earlier than anticipated, they find themselves in the position of needing to raise the remainder of their adoption fees much more quickly than anticipated. As in, by Monday!! Two ways you can help:
2. Visit Just Love Coffee via this link and shop. We've bought coffee from Just Love Coffee many times (originally because of the Crain's first adoption and since then just because it's delicious!).
3. Okay, three ways because you could do both #1 and #2 if you'd like.
In other news, Rory had her very first tee-ball practice last night. It was blazing hot; there is no shade for parent spectators anywhere, but oh the cuteness of 4-6 year olds clumsily chasing balls. Rory actually did really well in the field in addition to hitting the ball off the tee (possibly the furthest of any of the kids) every time. Not that this ridiculously competitive mama is comparing. Nope. Letting all that competitiveness go in the name of fun. Seriously. I'm a changed woman.
Insisting on carrying Camden's old baseball bag.
Just a tad sweaty when it was all said and done. And, yes, these are her soccer clothes and cleats from last fall's soccer season. Maybe by the time games roll around I'll have her some actual baseball pants and cleats that fit.
Camden starts baseball practice tonight. Not sure what happened to the whole "fall ball is soooooo much more relaxed than official spring baseball" because he's got a 2.5 hour practice tonight. That ends at 9:30. Crazy. I'm assuming their (a.k.a. Little League) version of relaxed is the fact that they only have 3 practices before games start.
Camden's first week of homework required filling out this poster-sized newsletter all about himself. This is exactly the kind of project that he sometimes gets overwhelmed with, but we found the perfect solution - letting him listen to his iPod (via headphones) while he worked. The best part was watching him sing and bop along to music that we couldn't hear. LOL
The finished product
Maybe the second best part was reading his Hero section. I'll let you read for yourself. It's not bad left-handed cursive writing if I do say so myself.
Hardest part was the important event section. Although let's be honest here, that's some great sentence structure as well as maturity on his part. (Also, I did not spend 4 weeks in the hospital.)
And Rory's paper from yesterday just cracked me up. She included Elizabeth and Addison in this picture. Notice Elizabeth and I are the only "white" people, and Brian has curly black hair. Too funny.
Brian took the kids to the baseball field for a little practice last night. We signed both of them up for fall ball (a VERY relaxed short season of baseball). This is Rory's first time to play, and Brian says we should hope she's a good hitter because she just might be useless as an outfielder considering the fact that she cringes and runs away from the ball when it's thrown to her. :)
Rory is having a very hard time on school mornings. I'm not sure if she's not falling asleep at night or if she's really just that worn out from first grade. Whatever it is, she's Miss Sour Puss in the morning. And Rory is not really my Sour Puss child so this is new territory.
Should I admit I gave her a Benadryl last night in an effort to help her fall asleep quickly? I promise I won't do it on any kind of regular basis, and she was showing some allergy symptoms so I really kind of *had* to give it a shot, right?
In some ways it feels as if the bad news keeps rolling in. I have several friends who have received devastating news in the past few days, but then there's also my sweet friends Mitchell and Amy who very unexpectedly received the referral of a precious Korean baby boy. Go leave them some love!
The Korean adoption process has changed drastically over the last 24 months. The newest change means that if we were adopting Rory right now (instead of 5 years ago), Korea would not allow her to be adopted. She would spend her childhood in a home with other children who will never have families. I cannot even contemplate the idea of our family without Rory.
If you're looking for a way to use up all your leftover s'mores ingredients, might I suggest this recipe? Michael, Liz, and Addison came over for lunch Sunday, and company is always my excuse to bake treats. This one was super delicious. It made a 9" pie pan's worth so just enough for family without any real leftovers. Which is good. Because while I've always had a sugar addiction, the emotional rollercoaster I'm feeling these days is feeding that sugar addiction. Big time.
And pictures from last night, before and after unofficial baseball practice.
Friday I went to Nashville to Vanderbilt Hospital for a regular port flush. All normal there, except that I hate walking into the registration room at the cancer clinic and seeing a room full of very, very sick people. Fully knowing that I was once one of them and could be again. Puts a damper on my day every time.
After all my talk of rain last week, we did finally see some blue skies. Beautiful!
Friday afternoon I got word that my dad was being admitted to the hospital for observation because he'd had a small stroke. A stroke! Now maybe Becky had cancer at 29; maybe my brother had major colon surgery in his mid-twenties; maybe I had/have cancer at 35; maybe Elizabeth had a preemie baby and knee surgery that required breaking her shin and a 9-12 month recovery. Clearly, the Hale children have issues. But my parents? They're not allowed to be sick. So a 5-bypass heart surgery this spring plus this small stroke makes it feels like my world is crumbling a little.
I am super, super thankful that there do not seem to be lingering effects from the stroke. Mom and dad spent the weekend at the hospital, but came home last night, and they're back to work this morning. Very grateful for that. The reason for the stroke and how much we need to be worried about a recurrence is still to be determined.
But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Saturday I felt like crawling into a deep dark hole and hiding instead of choosing to recite Psalm 46 over and over in my head. It's all okay. Bad things happen sometimes, but it's all going to be okay. The battle between fear and choosing to trust rages in my head and in my heart. It's hard work. Maybe that choice should come easily, but it just doesn't.
Speaking of bad things, Rory spent most of her weekend looking for this overdue library book. Instead of shouts of joy when she finally found it, she cried. So, so typical. And, ummm, of course, I took a picture!
We took a trip to the farmer's market Saturday. Since we've been growing a few of our own vegetables, we haven't visited as often this summer. We came away with corn, purple hull peas (which only Brian likes), a cantaloupe, and farm eggs.
And our own garden? This is how many tomatoes we picked just on Saturday. And this doesn't count the entire bucket of green beans (which are already cooked and waiting to be eaten in my fridge) and the bucket of banana peppers. I don't even like banana peppers!