Sunday, May 30, 2010

We're Back!

Well, we have been back for a week and I am still in denial! Alaska was absolutely wonderful! From start to finish we had a great time. The ship was great, the cities were fun and just being together was simply amazing. 7 days went by so fast; I didn’t even have time to miss home. I cannot overstate how nice it was and just how physically and emotionally rested I feel. We had a chance to recharge and just be together. Some of the highlights include:

  • Whales- While working out on the ship we had a panoramic view of the ocean and kept seeing fins of whales or porpoises when all of a sudden we saw a complete whale breach (I think that is what it is called when they jump out of the water) and then a few minutes later we saw a tail fin. Crazy! Who knew exercising could be so much fun!
  • Reading- I finished one book and read three more.
  • Eating- the food was incredible. One of the people at the gym said that cruisers gain an average of 7-10 pounds while on board- it is easy to see why.
  • Nothing- we could do nothing at all if we wanted. It was strange how quickly I figured out how to take advantage of that situation.
  • Excursions- while in the ports (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria) we had a chance to go on a cool hike, dry snorkeling and zip-lining. Each was super fun in their own way. The cities themselves were really neat and it was fun just walking around.

So, there, enough of that. One of the best things about this vacation was what happened while we were away. Before you think I am going to get all mushy about missing the kiddos, don’t worry, it is not going to happen.

Josh’s parents, Paul and Lila, graciously offered (that is right- offered) to watch the kids while we were away; 7 days- enough said. By now you surely realize what an amazing gift that is- watching OUR kids for a week is not for the faint of heart. Good thing they are pros with 8 kids of their own- they just jumped right in. As Paul would say, this ain’t my first rodeo! Well, this may not have been their first rodeo, but it was more like a circus combined with a rodeo. When we left on Saturday morning they were smiling so sweetly, but you could tell there was real fear underneath it all. I guess it would have been smart to take a picture. Before we were even in Seattle we got a call that the newest crib tent was done- Timothy had finished it off. So, they frantically found one in a specialty kids store nearby (which the last few times I have needed one they were out). From then on, Paul and Lila were on a mission to help Timothy proof the house. They sent out an email to our family who are graciously helping us buy Timothy a bed (which was found online by a super-sweet reader). It is on order now and we are trusting God to help us fund the rest. They had a contractor at the house for a few days basically constructing a room within a room in our garage, which is our playroom. It is incredible! He also installed cabinet locks that Timothy cannot (shoot! should I say that?) break, built a tall gate on our deck so the kids can go out there and play without us being right there as well as a few other things. Basically, he pimped out our house! By far though, our biggest gift from them is that Lila is going to come back for 6 weeks this summer! While Josh is studying for the bar she is going to come help us with the kids. This will definitely be a huge stress relief for us and will help our home be more relaxed with more hands on deck. I was and still am completely blown away by there incredible generosity. Already our home is a safer place for Timothy, which means less anxiety for us. It is incredible! So, Paul and Lila survived with only a few minor incidences. Who cares that there was a small fire, Madeline threatened a kid with a plastic knife at school and Sadie got a little bruised up? What else is new?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We're going to Alaskuuuuh!

We are headed to Alaskuuuuuh (this is a song sung by me- very clever- you just sing it with a very deep annoying voice)! Josh’s parents are watching the kids and we are leaving for 7 days! Can you believe it! It is seriously perfect timing, that is, if you want to prevent my complete and total mental breakdown. This week I have been pondering the reasons why I am so excited about this trip, so without further adieu…

THE WATER HEATER: I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but we made our garage into a play room- complete with a therapeutic swing for Timothy, things to climb on, etc. Well in that “playroom” we have the added benefit of it holding things like lawn maintenance paraphernalia (which is oddly never used), glass recycling containers, the water heater, and such. Well, shockingly Timothy loves the water heater, especially the knob that turns it on and off. So, every time he is out there he inevitably will turn that knob. So, we continually have to keep him away from it and turn it back. However, sometimes he can get away with it without us knowing. When this happens we are blissfully unaware until we need to take a shower. You understand the rest. In Alaska, there are no Ethiopians messing with hot water heaters- I think!

DINNER: The other night I was being a good wife and mom- I cooked dinner. Nothing too crazy about that-right? Well, let’s just say a meal that should have taken me about 30 minutes to make, at the most, took 3 ½ hours. It is not like I set it down and did other things for a while, no, during this time I was chasing, holding, grabbing, blocking and basically just running ragged to make this meal. I started at 3:30pm and really only got the chicken cooked and sliced until Josh came home at 5:30pm. On the ship they will cook our food and we will have many dishes to choose from- amazing!

MADELINE SCHOOL: It will be hard to reach us while in Alaska, not impossible, but expensive when we are at sea. So, I will not be able to hear all of the exciting things Madeline does at school. For example, a week or two ago Madeline gets home and before she even gets through the door she says, “Mom, I did something really bad at school and you are going to get a call from my teacher!” “Okay, what did you do?” I said. “Ummm, I guess I went into the PE teacher’s office during PE and I guess I saw a cupcake on her desk. I thought it was for me, so I ate it .” (when she said “ate” she really meant that she licked the icing off and put it back on the dest) “Really? You thought it was for you? “ I said. “No, I guess not” was her response. So, what did I do? Rather than listening to my inner voice telling me to yell and give a long drawn out speech, I instead told her that she was going to write an apology note and when I find out what kind of cupcake she ate she was going to use her money and buy more. Well, it was a red velvet cupcake, so I ordered some nice large cupcakes that cost $4 each. Madeline purchased 4 of them and we brought them to school and personally delivered them to the PE teacher. You see, I do not have to do these things for 7 days!!!

ARGUING: Josh and I are not big arguers, at least not with each other. Madeline, on the other hand, loves to argue. It is an art form she has perfected over years of practice. The other day I was reading a Dr. Seuss book to her and she started arguing with the book- apparently ham is not green. I really just don’t know how to handle things like this. On a regular basis Josh and I will be talking and Madeline will inject a question, “Why would they do that?” I ask her if she has any idea what we are talking about and she says, “No.” “So, why are you asking questions?” I ask. “I don’t know, I just wanted to know why.” What am I supposed to say?

CHILD-PROOFING: I know that you have heard all of my ludicrous stories of child-proofing, but I just could not leave this out. We can open up any door we want and leave it open. We can leave things out without fear of destruction. We can even walk around without tripping on random toys, books, cups, furniture… I honestly cannot even picture it all. I guarantee that I will randomly go move something out of reach or just feel like I need to find a place to hide my purse. There will be no bed in our room that is covered with a tent or with zip-ties holding it all together- we will not need to be kept in bed- we can stay for as long or as little as we want.

POOTY-PANTS AND POTTY MOUTHS: This one is pretty self-explanatory- Sadie will not be teething on the boat, I will not need to change crazy disgusting-air-out-the-house diapers, and I will not get called about inappropriate word knowledge from the principal (see last post). I can say whatever the heck I want to say (replace heck with whatever word you would like)!

WE ARE GOING TO ALASKA!!!: Who really needs a reason to be excited about going to Alaska or anywhere for that matter? Josh and I are simply floored at this amazing trip and our wonderful care-giving family. We can leave knowing that our children are in perfect hands, have fun and just bask at the amazing earth God has created. Right now, we are in a coffee shop eating lunch before we get on the ship. We just got off the train from Portland to Seattle where we saw a bald eagle, mountains, and really incredible beauty and the trip has not even started. I can feel the tightness in my chest easing, my brain relaxing and a smile on my face that does not seem to want to go away. Josh and I most definitely need a break and are going to get one. I will let you know how it goes…

Friday, May 7, 2010

What tha....?

I have been rounding up some fun Madeline stories for a blog post when today she presented me with one that can stand on its own. Here we go....

Yesterday I came home from work and as soon as I walked in Madeline said, "Mom, I did something really bad at school today and Dee Dee (the bus driver) is going to tell the principal. You are going to get a call!" If this was the first time these words had come out of her mouth I may have freaked out or my blood pressure may have even risen a little, but no, I stayed calm. I asked why and she proceeded to tell me a strange tale of lunch table conversations mixed with riding the bus home and even threw in a little writing on trees just for the fun of it. Apparently she said a bad word- the f-word. I asked her what the f-word is and she could not tell me (shock). So, I said that I would talk to her teacher about it the next day or when I got a call from the principal we would work out what happened.

This morning I walked her to school (with my posse) and I had a chance to talk to her aide (Madeline has her own teacher's assistant who is awesome) and her teacher. According to them Madeline said the bad word at lunch. Her aide talked to her, calmed everyone down and thought it was finished. Then there was recess and Madeline got all worked up and came in to the classroom in tears "devastated" by her bad behavior. They calmed everyone down even though Madeline kept trying to make a big deal out of it. She kept reminding her classmates what she had done (so helpful). Then it came time to get on the bus. In the bus line Madeline decided it was time to yell the word at the top of her lungs. Nice... So, as I was talking to her teachers about the situation in the lunch room the vice-principal comes and chats with me about the bus yelling incident. Very appropriately, I told him that I guess I should stop yelling that word all day at home. Where does Madeline get her sassiness?

Now we are to this afternoon. I see Madeline walking up the sidewalk talking with a neighbor who is looking at Madeline with a mixture of amusement and shock. I come outside and start talking to Madeline when she starts yelling, "MOM, THE WHOLE SCHOOL KNOWS WHAT I SAID YESTERDAY, I SAID F-U-*-*!" Oh yes, she spelled the word loudly in our front yard! This is a child who has passed maybe two spelling tests ever, yet she seems quite knowledgeable about this particular spelling word. Well, I did what every other mom would do and quietly yell, "get inside, what are you thinking?" Once inside I say, "Madeline what is going on? Is this still about yesterday? Okay, is **** the word you said?" "Yes" Madeline said. So, I proceeded to calmly say the f-word about 10 times. "That is the word-right?" I said. Madeline just looked at me like I was crazy. "Well, there, I said it. Why is it such a big deal? It is just a word, people say. We do not say it at our house and we do not think it is appropriate, but it is just a word. So, stop it."

I will let you know how it goes, but she seemed so shocked by my outburst that it has not come up again. I honestly think she was trying to get attention and this was working quite well at school. Her awesome teacher handled it well, but he was vastly outnumbered by little people. The principal told me it is quite an issue right now with the older kids, so I felt oddly proud that Madeline was having a "normal" issue. Am I sick?