Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goodbye Vanna, it's been good...kinda

The kids call her Vanna.  Too bad she wasn't white, or that name really would have been perfect.  Anyhoo....they love her.  She beeps at them when they are in her getting buckled up and they talk right back to her (they still seem clueless that I am making her beep with my keys).  So, when we told her she was no longer going to be part of our family very soon, they were bummed.  That was until we started thinking up new names for a replacement. We hope to find our "Lola" soon. 

It's been good with Vanna, kinda.  Why kinda?  She did fit our needs for 4.5 years.  We only had to do minimal repairs on her.  But also for the last 4.5 years there have been minor annoyances which include:

-locks that stick
-ABS light that won't go off even though we've had it checked and replaced
-back air that goes on and off as it pleases
-air conditioner that needs recharged every year and no one can find a leak in
-service engine soon light that goes on and off
-back air controls don't work
-driver's side window motor burned out
-occasionally acts like it's going to die when you start it
-occasionally won't start
-ignition gets stuck and key won't turn

Now to add to that list we've been informed that:
-head gasket is probably blown
-engine coolant has muddy water with metal in it for some unknown reason
-air compressor is blown

Hmmmm....time for a new van?  Yep.  It has 128,000 miles on it.  We've only put 37,000 on it since we've had it.  We thought it would at least take us to 150,000.  We were wrong.  Knowing this makes the idea of buying used again scary.  This time we want to go with a much more reliable brand.  Toyota or Honda.  After researching I discovered Honda has been having issues with transmission in their vans for many years.  It has resulted in a class action lawsuit against Honda.  That didn't exactly give me warm fuzzies, so it made the decision for me.  Toyota it is.

Now I'm trying to decide between slightly newer, lower mileage, less features with slightly higher payments, insurance and taxes OR slightly older, slightly higher mileage, more features with lower payments, insurance or taxes.  I'm leaning towards the later.  Jeff's vehicle is ready to be replaced too.  It has 178,000 miles on it.  We are living on borrowed time with that vehicle as well and he drives it more.  If I knew I could get another 100,000 miles out of a vehicle that already has 100,000 miles on it, I would definitely go for the slightly older version.  This would give us more flexibility to deal with Jeff's car soon.  Seems like the smarter purchase at the moment.  Hard to know.  We shall see. 

Kadyn minus first tooth

She finally pulled it!  It took about a week.  We were all set to leave her a dollar that night from the tooth fairy, but when I went in and grabbed the little baggy with the tooth inside, there was also a silly band and note that read:

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Please leave me two bucks.  
I love you.  
This is my first tooth.  
Love, Kadyn

I left a note that read:

Dearest Kadyn,

I am so proud that you pulled your tooth out without crying.  You are growing into such a lovely young lady.  Until the next tooth falls out, keep smiling.  
Love, The Tooth Fairy

I also sprinkled a little fairy dust (aka glitter) in the bag.  The next morning she woke and asked me if I planted the bag there and wrote the note.  I tried to disguise my handwriting.  I didn't lie.  I just withheld the truth by asking, "Why do you think that?  Look at the handwriting! Does that look like mine?"  Then she asked if there was glitter in it.  Again I uh...ahem...withheld the truth, "Don't fairies have fairy dust?  Maybe it looks the same."  That was all it took.  She was convinced.  She took the bag to school and showed everyone and even argued with some girl that told her the Tooth Fairy isn't real.  She has read the Tooth Fairy letter to anyone who will listen since. 

I admit, I felt a little guilty that I didn't come clean, but it has been pretty sweet seeing her all excited and getting to share that same experience I had as a kid.  Surely no harm done, right?  BTW I informed her that the tooth fairy typically only leaves a dollar, but probably decided to be nice since is was her first tooth ;)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Working on me

For the past year I feel like I have been a whirlwind of emotions.  Sad, angry, happy, joyful, worried, uncertainty, confusion, contentment, discontentment, at peace, and thankful.  At first, I thought it was just the woman in me on overdrive, but then I realized it was just....human.  My emotions seem to have become especially intense since becoming a mother.  I think this is because I place so much more value on myself a as person and the role model I am to my children.  Every decision I make, each word I say, every action I take, not only reflects who I am to them, but also reflects who I am or am not in Christ.  I think I place way more guilt on myself when I mess up and find it more difficult to forgive myself and accept the grace God offers me because of my children and my undying desire to do right by them.

Although I have always known the power a parent has on a child's life, the real impact of our position as their parents becomes more and more evident as I go through daily life with them.  Yesterday as I was putting on makeup Brennan was standing right beside me watching my every move.  When I'd circle my brush in the powder, she'd put her tiny finger on my makeup desk and pretend to circle a brush and then put it on her face too.  Another evening I saw her examining her back side, nude, in the mirror before bath time.  When I asked her what she was doing she replied, "Looking at my booty."  Why in the world would 3 year old need to examine her booty?  Because she sees her mother do it all the time.  Last night Brennan had a rough night and when we were talking through it I told her that God puts a special lock on a mothers heart so that it is impossible for us to stop loving our children no matter how naughty they are.  This morning Brennan started telling me all about the lock on her heart from God towards her dolly.

I described a project I was assigned to do in grade school that involved the creation of a bookmark for a contest.  I described in detail the bookmark I made and how I won the contest.  Two seconds later Kadyn was telling me about a bookmark she would create if she were assigned that same contest.  Guess what?  She described the same bookmark I had just described making.  Yep!  There's no doubt about it.  Our children look up to us during these formidable years and we have such a huge responsibility to do right by them.  Who they will become is in large part a product of the way we conduct our own lives and the example we set forth for them.

Knowing my past year has been a flood of emotions that at times I have felt powerless to control, I sought out comfort.  Here's what I found and my commitment to myself to gain back the peace I have longed for this past year in my life.

When I am scared:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6)

When I am overwhelmed: 

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10)

When I need reassured:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

When I need guidance:

"Lead me O Lord in your Righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face." (Psalms 5:8)

And when I want to do right by my children I will pray this for them:

"May they be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that they may walk worth of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." ( Colosians 1:9-10)

Today read this.

I found great encouragement in it and I felt really spoke truth.  One of the best things I took from reading it was that often times we get too caught up in what our future holds and it isn't until we look back on things that we see God's handy work.  I always knew this, but then the author went on to say that knowing what the future holds leaves little room for faith.  We are to focus on the present.  In his words, "How is our relationship with God?  As circumstances change, for better or for worse, will I respond with obedience and trust? The focus must be on the moment before me, the present.  How is my relationship with God?"

Such truth in that!  I am inspired.  I no longer want to be enslaved to worry, doubt, fear, and all the emotions above. I want freedom and peace.  I want trust and joy.  So today I am committed to stop all the Mama Drama and worry that accompanies not knowing what the future holds for my life.  For now, it seems I am to stay home another year with my baby girl and keep this daycare running.  Since this is the path that is laid before me, I trust God will provide the serenity I need to keep moving forward.  I will still continue to take the steps to get my certificate up and running and continue to apply for jobs as they open and I may even take the music praxis exam as a resume builder.  But...beyond that I'm taking it one day at a time.  No more worry about never getting my career back.  No more worry about working a job I don't love someday.  No more worry about making it through another year of daycare.  I want to make my focus on working to be the best I can be at home as mother, daycare provider, wife, sister, daughter, and daughter of Christ.  Surely, that is where the real peace I long for will be found.  Please hold me accountable to this sisters as you all know, it is easy to loose sight of this and....thanks for reading ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What to make of it

Two of the jobs I applied for have closed.  Never got a call.  REALLY hoping it is because my certification is not up and running. I have several outstanding recommendations and plenty of other people that have offered to vouch for me.  I have a bachelors and masters with outstanding transcripts.  I have 5 years experience teaching.  Can't be because of those.  Understandable.  I did send in an application to Branson after being told by our parent educator (parents as teachers program) that there was an opening.  That being said, opening has not been posted to their website, so I'm not sure it is really even valid. 

I can't say I'm completely crushed.  I want to believe that this isn't happening because the timing is just wrong and God has something in store for me when the time is right.  Perhaps when Bren is another year older, perhaps when she is ready for Kindergarten.  If only I knew.  I have to admit, I am a bit nervous.  What if my competition is really stiff?  I've been told that applicants for a regular education position in the Branson elementary schools can number as high as 250.  Wonder what that number is for music positions?  Makes me certain that getting certified in regular education is worthless.  Too many other candidates with that certification and experience in that area to back it up.  I don't have the luxury of moving to get the job this time.

I only have 1/2 a year teaching experience in vocal music.  The rest of my experience lies in teaching orchestra.  This is not offered anywhere close.  What if that 1/2 isn't enough to land me the right job at the right time?  I can't imagine a life with a "normal" job.  When I say normal I mean a job that I am not passionate about. It makes me scared of my future.  I need to quit worrying about it, accept the life God seems to be laying out for me for this next year which is another year of daycare and at home with my last baby.  I know I can't regret spending more time with her and it's another year I don't have to deal with the guilt of putting her in daycare.  For that I am grateful.  Sure wish God could just see me face to face and say, "Darci, it's not the right time.  Relax.  I've got you covered.  You're right where I want you. I have something up my sleeve for you, when it's the right time."  That sure would make me feel a lot better.  I hate not knowing.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring Birthday!

The first day of spring seems like a perfect time to celebrate 6 years of life!

Daddy brought Kadyn McDonalds and ate lunch with her today!  He also surprised her with cupcakes for her entire class.  Go Daddy!  She said she was having a great day so far.  Happy birthday big girl.  6 years seems like a long time.  We sure do love you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Pattys Day Birthday 2

That afternoon we headed to K's choice of restaurants, Freddys.  After some yummy burgers we went back home and had cake and ice cream and let K open the rest of her gifts. 

Later that night the girls and I watched Narnia III.  Grandma tried to watch it, but crashed in the recliner.  Poor Grandma!  We wore her out.  The boys watched basketball in another room, and we made a little green beer for everyone to finish out the celebrations.  The girls had green milk earlier.  What a fun day!

Tuesday is K's real birthday.  I thought about sending cupcakes to school, but we are throwing her a birthday party for her friends next Saturday and I think two parties is plenty.  The school will give her a pencil and a special hat the day of her birthday and she seems pretty excited about that and not too put out that Mommy isn't providing cupcakes for the entire class.  It's hard to arrange that since I can't leave the house.  I'm glad she's understanding. 

So more birthday stuff to come. 

St. Pattys Day Birthday

OK K's birthday doesn't actually fall on St. Pattys day.  However, it worked out that Jeff's mom and brother could make it up this last weekend so we thought, what the heck!  I've never celebrated St. Patty's Day, but it was sure fun to get all decked out in our greens.  It was funny seeing how people reacted.  You could see some had forgotten until they saw our greens, then suddenly they're looking at their family and pinching them.
Jeff and his fake tatoo.  It fooled a couple people!

  First, we let Kadyn open up her big gift so we could put it to use right away.  It was a scooter.  She had one before but one day put it behind the van and guess what?  Mama ran over it!  As a lesson to her, we didn't run right out and buy another.  She had to wait until her birthday.  So....she was soooo happy to have another.  So Bren, K, Grandma, and I went to a hiking trail that runs alongside Table Rock lake and let the girls get a little energy out, K on her new scooter and Bren on her tricycle.  It was a perfect day for a walk!  Forgot to take pics though.  Bummer.

Later we met up with Jeff and Jason, his brother, at Hannah's Maze of Mirrors.  It was part of K's festivities for her birthday. 

We all didn't enjoy this as much as we thought due to the sheer amount of teenagers who were going through this thing as the same time as us.  Some kid kept telling us where to go to get to the end.  It totally ruined it for me!  The whole point is for me to find the exit on my own, not to be told where to go.  I think we had more fun at the end where there was some of those crazy mirrors.

It was amazing how much those mirrors made Uncle Jas resemble his father!  He may kill me for posting this. LOL!

Later we headed to the Hollywood Wax Museum.  We really enjoyed this.  Some of the figures really resembled the actors and others....not so much.  It was fun posing with them.
Amazing how it's done.
I thought this one was the BEST one.  He looked so real!!!!

  I want to add, being local is awesome.  With our local discount, we get almost half off of this stuff.  Saved a bundle!  More to come!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Goodbye sweet piggy

When Kadyn turned two we redid her room to be a big girl room.  Part of her decor was the cutest little princess piggy.  She had a tutu and silver crown on her head.  She was so soft and full of those little squishy beads rather than fiberfill so she never got lumpy.  As much as I wanted this to turn into Kadyn's lovey,  she never really took to the piggy.  Then one evening piggy got left out and I cuddled up with her on the couch as a pillow.  I realized just how squishy and cozy she was and thought she'd make the perfect pillow to put between my legs when I slept for support.  Soon piggy was no longer Kadyn's piggy but Mama's piggy.

Flash forward a year.  Brennan has to nap in my room because there is no room in my room for a pack-n-play for the daycare kids.  There is room in Brennan's room for a pack-n-play.  Therefore, the baby naps in Brennan's room and Bren naps on a sleeping bag on the floor in my room.  Some days she started fighting going down for a nap.  Then one day I gave piggy a voice and started making piggy act like she loved Bren very much and really enjoyed napping with her.  She snorted, she kissed her, she licked her, and she snuggled with her.  Suddenly, piggy was AWESOME in her eyes!  She started stealing piggy out of my room and playing with her and talking to her and even telling me that piggy kept her up snoring or, ahem, tooting if you will.

Throughout the course of the year piggy's constant use started showing up.  Her tutu eventually fell off, she got a hole in her neck, and her fur was looking kind of dingy.  I began to think about parting with her and replacing her, but man how can you replace.....piggy?  Fate decided to do it for me. We took her to Little Rock last weekend and she was left behind at the hotel because she was hiding under the covers when we left.  I had to break the news to the kids.  They were really disappointed, but I was able to divert tears from Bren when I assured her we'd go looking for another piggy or likewise. 

I never thought I'd be shopping for a stuffed animal for myself at age 34, but here I am.  I could get by with any squishy pillow really, but I owe it to Bren to get another character to help her get through naps in my room.  It's fun.  I'm going to milk it while it lasts.

Wish me luck on my next quest for a new piggy.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Man behind the camera

Sometimes when I post pictures of a trip, it becomes difficult to show that Jeff was there because he is always the man behind the camera.  I made sure to get a few shots for ya to prove that he really was on this trip.  The man likes taking pictures.  What can I say?

Little Rock 2012 Day 2

OK I was going to do only day 2 on this post, but there was just so much more the science center I wanted to share, so here's a few more day one pics.
Move hand up, ball goes up
Look, the chicken laid eggs!
Can't remember what this was, but it was cool.  Craters maybe?
Gift shop fun.
Laying on a bed of nails.  Yikes!
A lever and pulley ride.

That night we went back to the hotel and swam (another post on that to come).  Then Jeff headed to Taco Bell so us girls could have a girl's night in at the hotel room and he could get his musical Jeff fix.  He also picked up my favorite cookies, pinwheels, and got us hooked up to watch Puss in Boots on the hotel TV.  After the movie we all crashed.  We were so tired.  Jeff enjoyed his show.

Day 2 we went to the Peabody hotel.  Everyday at 11:00 the hotel ushers out a group of ducks who have their own room at the hotel.  They load the elevator and then enter on a red carpet.  They march the ducks down the carpet and into the fountain where they stay until 5:00.  It was very cute and quite the sight to see.  Bren almost started crying when it was time to go.  She like the ducks.  I have video of them marching down the red carpet.  But I'm not sure where Jeff put it.  Maybe I'll post that later.

Waiting for the ducks grand entrance.
Mom look how the water rolls off their feathers!
The kids thought this was funny.  Quite frankly, so did I.
   Later we went out to eat, dropped in a container store, and then headed to the Children's theater where we saw a production of "If you take a Mouse to School."  It was really good.  The kids laughed a lot.  We weren't allowed to take pics once the show started.  Sorry.

After the play we hit Starbucks (because no trip is complete without a starbucks run) and then headed home.  It was a good trip. 

Little Rock 2012 Day 1

Too kick of Spring Break for K we went on a little mini vaca last weekend.  We left after daycare on Friday and arrived at our hotel that night around 9:00ish.  The girls were of course amped up. Who could blame them?  Our hotel room rocked.  The next morning we headed out to the Science Center.  Kadyn really got into trying all the different hands on science experiments.  Bren tried, but was too little for most.  She did enjoy the kitty area though.  This activity lasted all morning and into the early afternoon.

So excited to go in.  At the entrance.
Pretty bubble!
What happens when you make a pattern and put a mirror by it.
How long are your intestines?  Pull and find out.
A cow in the kitty area
Arts and crafts area.  They made a teepee for the ratties!
A climbing wall in the kitty room
A simulated tornado. This was SOOOO neat!
The the news is brought to you by Kadyn and some random kid who wouldn't stop hitting the buttons.  Grrrr!
Bren liked the boat in the kitty area.

Later that day we made a quick trip to The Arkansas Capitol.  Big, impressive building, during day and by night.