29 December 2013

Chapel Children's Christmas Pageant

Butterfly and Little Man were in their very first Christmas Pageant this year, which took place at the base chapel where we worship.

It was so sweet to see all the kids up on the stage stairs singing. A few of the other ones had some readings to do as well, and they did a really good job.

The children sang several favorite Christmas carrolls (or didn't sing, if they were my kiddos), including Away in a Manger, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, We Three Kings and a few iothers. We had rehearsal every weekend for three weeks before, including a full dress rehearsal the day before. Little Man took a face dive off the steps during the dress rehearsal, poor thing, but survived. Thankfully he didn't do that during the actual pageant.

I thought the costumes were really cute, although the boys were pretty put out about wearing a "dress" no matter what explanation we gave them about angels being fierce warriors. There may or may not have been chocolate bribery going on behind the scenes. Little Man actually is wearing his angel outfit backwards and inside out because after waiting in the hallway during most of the service, he had to go potty, and we thought we had time, but then the kids were called out while Mike was with Little Man in the potty and so Mike, in a hurry, put it as fast as he could and sent him out, and just in time. So backwards and inside out was the result. It all worked out all right.

All in all, the kids did a beautiful job and it was great to sing along with them and see them up there dressed up to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. :)

28 December 2013

Christmas Events and the Nutcracker Ballet

This Christmas season I did a sort of Christmas "events wish list" on the calendar. Some days had two events scheduled at the same time, and in reality we didn't do most of them, but it was nice to put things on the calendar that I wanted to do. It helped me remember things and actually do them (instead of thinking about them and then forgetting the date) and it also gave me things to look forward to in Christmases future.

Here's a few of events I had written down:

Handel's Messiah
River of Lights at Botanical Gardens
Polar Express Reading at Barnes and Nobles
Christmas Carol Play at Highland Theater
Nutcracker Ballet by New Mexico Repertory Theater at Kimo Theater
DMOC Christmas Party
DMOC Children's Christmas Party
Chapel Christmas Pagaent

We didn't make it all of them, or even half of them really, but we did make it to a few, which is a start. Some we didn't to because of bad weather - we had an early season snow storm and I don't like to go out in bad weather. The DMOC (where Mike works) Children's Christmas Party we actually missed because I wrote it down on the wrong day and didn't realize until after the party. I was pretty bummed about that. Others we didn't make because we couldn't get a babysitter. I previously wrote about the River of Lights, which was really amazing.

Another big one that we actually made it to was the Nutcracker Ballet put on by New Mexico Repertory Theater at the Kimo Theater. I didn't actually buy tickets until a few hours before, so I think we were pretty fortunate to be able to get seats. It was almost sold out for the day and time that we went to. There were actually three or four versions of the Nutcracker Ballet being put on by different production companies in Albuquerque this year, so the one put on the Repertory Theater is the one we went to.

I took Butterfly and we went with my friend Liz and her mom Sharon and her children and two of her friend's children. It was nice to all ride together and then walk together to the Kimo Theater. The Kimo Theater is a historic theater located on Central Avenue downtown, which is also the historic Route 66. It's just a tad shady, especially at night, to say the least. Because I bought tickets so late, we sat near our friends, but not with them.

It was a really special time with Butterfly. This was Butterfly's third live theater production and she absolutely loves going to the theater. She sat on my lap and was perfectly glued to the ballet production and the dancers the entire two hours. There was an intermission, which was great for a potty and snack break, but she during the show she was riveted.

The production was so beautiful. The dancers did an amazing job, the music was great, the sets was beautiful and magical, the costumes were colorful and resplendent and we both loved the whole thing. I had never seen the Nutcracker Ballet in its' entirety before, so it was really neat to see the whole thing, and with my eldest daughter too. Hopefully we will be able to make this a Mommy-daughter tradition for years to come.

River of Lights

This year our family finally made it to the River of Lights put on by the New Mexico BioPark Society at the Botanical Gardens! It was really amazing!

In past years it has been either too cold or we haven't had the time or the funds to make it to the River of Lights, so this was our first year to go. Now that we have gone, I so wish that we had braved the cold and made the time and found the funds to go in previous years. Oh well - it will definitely be something we put at the top of our Christmas "to see" list as long as we are in Albuquerque.

It left like some kind of magical Christmas light wonderland that we got to walk through - it was a pretty special experience and I am so glad that we got to go this year. 

This really is something that words are hard to express, so I'll just post some pics for you to enjoy.

The Pegasus that was swinging between four trees in the castle courtyard was one of my favorites.

The kids really loved the dinosaurs.

Here we are all bundled up. :) The kids really had a great time.

22 December 2013

Christmas Thoughts

Tis the time of year for all to be merry, make plans, travel or stay home and celebrate the season, each in their own way. (I will not be writing a blog about why I do or do not participate in "elf on the shelf", lol).

This year, we are in Florida visiting my Dad and that side of the family. And we drove. From New Mexico. To central Florida (west coast). Last week. Actually, the road trip wasn't that bad. The kids were super good and it went pretty smoothly. Mike and I were extremely tired; I think it was harder for us than the kids. Anyway, more about what I did to make a 28 hour, 4 day drive with a 4 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old smooth later.

We stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel two nights of the four that we were traveling and at our last night eating Cracker Barrel, or "Chairs" as it is affectionately known as in our little family, I couldn't help but occasionally glance over at the family that was eating next to us, with their small children. And in my mind I sort of began this Christmas conversation comparison between us and "them". Them being any normal, non-military family in the US.

See, while we were at Chairs for dinner, Mike had to go outside to take two different phone calls from his supervisor at work. This kind of thing never happens, so I had to keep explaining to the kids over, and over, and over, (and the family next to us undoubtedly heard) that Daddy just had to take a call for work and he'll be back in a few minutes. And when Mike returned to the table, he updated me on the status of his orders.

No, we aren't moving.

We did find out, just a few days before our trip that Mike will be deploying to Afghanistan for six months in the spring. And that before he deploys he'll have a month of training to do. So since the minutes that I found out this news, I feel like my thoughts have been divided between "now" and "pre-deployment training" and "deployment". And I think "maybe you'll be home for the kids birthdays" was mentioned in a hopeful, other extremely doubtful tone.

We also found out while on the road that the time that we thought we had together before his pre-deployment training got cut in half and the time he would gone for training doubled. Hence the phone calls. He was getting updated on where he had to be and when and for how long.

So while other families are talking about how they'll celebrate Christmas and who'll they'll see or where they'll go, or what they'll do to ring in the New Year, or how they are looking forward to the activity of the season, Mike and I were talking about pre-deployment training, and how we're going to tell the kids that Daddy will be gone pretty much for most of the year (thank God Mike isn't doing a year long deployment), and deployment home life coping strategies and how we're going to communicate and how we were each feeling about things, sharing our own fears and worries.

We'll still do the best we can to celebrate Christmas as planned, and so far we are making the most of things, but we do so with the weight of the knowledge always in the back of our minds and the tug in our hearts of the long months ahead of us, each alone in a different part of the world, handling new and different stressors. Of not being together, which really is the hardest part.

It's all just apart of military life. We've been very fortunate that Mike hasn't deployed yet. It was bound to happen sooner or later. So we'll do what we have to do, and we'll make it through with God's help and life will go on.

But for now, we're relishing each others company: each kiss, each touch, each small little comment to the other. And we're heading back home early from our vacation so that Mike can get things ready and we can have a little bit of treasured and precious normalcy before the months of chaos hit the ground running. 

So to all you out there, Merry Christmas and may you be cherish and treasure your spouse and your children that you have with you and all the small, wondrous and special moments that each day brings, especially at this, the happiest, time of the year.

03 December 2013

All Settled In

I realized that I haven't written very much about life lately, at least, life around here.

I wrote last summer (Aug/Sep) that things around here were pretty . . . rough . .. for me with the kids and such and how I was struggling to adapt to our new schedule. Having the freedom of the summer suddenly squelched like a chocolate kiss under a car tire was a bit of an adjustment. However, I am glad to say that we have indeed adjusted, and perhaps, just perhaps, we - being myself and the kids - are flourishing under our new schedule.

Every week, pretty much, since the beginning of August, we've averaged three appointments per week. Appointments being either speech or occupational therapy, doctor's visits of some kind, Flower had her VCUG and ultrasound at the hospital in October, I finally got around to scheduling the kids to see the dentist, so we had those visits, and anyway, it's just been a busy schedule. Some weeks we've had as many as five appointments - those weeks were rough. And all of that does not include science camp every other week.

Homeschooling Little Man and Flower kind of went out the window as the merry go round of life gathered speed, what with the centrifigul force of everything, it just got lost somewhere. Maybe the printer continually running out of ink had something to do with that . .. I don't know. I think they'll be okay, I mean, I do other "academically inclined" things with them - letter puzzles, talk about letters/colors/shapes/etc as we are out and about.

At first it took me a little while to get coordinated in the morning, getting three kiddos dressed (all three of them needed help at the beginning of the autumn, least of all Little Man), but now Butterfly and Little Man can get dressed completely by themselves (a miracle in and of itself, people, let me tell you!) and I have a pretty good spinning routine in the kitchen where I can make toast and tea and cereal and juice happen by swirling around the kitchen, as long as no one gets underfoot. If they do, then my rhythm goes to hell and ten whole minutes are added to the process, just like that.

The kids have gotten pretty behaved and they know the procedure when we go to speech therapy. The place where we go has a wonderful (amazing, life-saving, sanity-preserving, delightful) room with all kinds of toys for Little Man and Flower to play with while we wait for Butterfly to finish her therapy. The place where we go for OT doesn't have this, so I found a babysitter for when Butterfly has OT, after that one horrible-humiliating-no-good-incredibly-horrible-cried-the-whole-way-home OT session. That is not to repeated, if I can at all help it.

We've been doing park outing twice weekly with a wonderful new friend, I may have written about this, when the weather is good and no one is sick and everyone is behaving. We love those days! The warm sun on our backs and in our hair and playing and running around (well, the first two are me and my friend, the latter two are the kids).

Butterfly is doing very well at school and has made great progress since school started. I love her teacher, Ms. Michelle, and her therapists at school are very good as well. Butterfly has a best friend at school, which she talks about constantly, everywhere she goes. I'm hoping to be able to get the two girls together for a playdate outside of school, but so far that hasn't happened.

Butterfly's parent/teacher conference was last week and even though she is making really good progress, I and her teachers and therapists feel that additional testing should be done to see if Butterfly has Autism. So the paperwork will be started on that and she will mostly likely get that testing sometime in March. If all goes well.

I also brought up Butterfly continuing at the school she is at next year, because she will started Kindergarten and the school she is at now is not her "home district" school. The elementary school here on base is. But since I have heard some really horrific things about the special-ed department at that school, Mike and I really don't want Butterfly to go there. I have to put in a transfer request, which will have to be approved by the school I choose, and I will have to provide transportation. Meaning the bus will not be able to pick her up to take her school.

There are pros/cons to all of this and Mike and I have a lot of thinking and praying to do on that. Should we give the base school a chance? (We'd rather not right now.) or Should we put in a transfer to the school Butterfly is at now (most likely to be denied because the school is already filled to capacity) or put in a transfer to another school Ms. Michelle recommended (not too much farther away, actually). Much to decide, visits to make, people to talk to. For now, I'm waiting until after the holidays to start making official inquiries.

I can't tell you how many times I have wished that things were black and white and I had all of life's answers laid out before me. Not the answers to the big questions, like what is the meaning of life and all that, although sometimes I wonder that too, but the answers to the little questions. Where should Butterfly go to school? What should I do with Little Man and Flower in regards to homeschooling? Should I wear the purple shirt today or the gray one? You know, the little questions.

I've pretty much come to accept that I suck as a house wife. I realize that it's not my thing and I'll just always have a messy house unless I hire someone and well, there you have it. Mike just says that I pile too much on my plate and then berate myself as lazy, etc when I can't do everything, but I don't agree. I'm just lazy. It's the truth. In the meantime, I'll just ignore those lunchable boxes on the coffee table from our picnic lunch in the living room a few hours ago. They'll sprout legs eventually and make their way into the recycle trash can.

I'm sad to say that I haven't been working on my novel very much this week. I feel like I'm neglecting it, although I'm not meaning to. I picked up a novel, The Time Traveler's Wife and when I'm reading a book, especially one that good, I just can't put it down (except for that one scene that I really felt I should not be reading in the therapy waiting room) and so I tend not to write much when I'm reading. Kind of same with blogging I guess.

Although, it did dawn on me last night when a friend made a comment about her ADD husband not being able to finish all these projects/etc and since I'm ADD too, I thought, hmmm . . . maybe that's what's really going on. Or if I don't finish it, then people can't read it and criticize it. And it will be safe and protected, albeit unfinished, in my computer and my mind forever. I told my friend I understood that, and why, and she was surprised, and I remarked "Well, you saw my house, didn't you?" - touche.

Mike and I are doing pretty well. He's been making time for me even with his busy schedule of work and school and I really appreciate that. I think we need to stop making out in front of the kids so much though . . . Flower was trying to lay on Little Man and kiss him the other day. Things that make you go hmmm. .. Although part of me things that's healthy for them to see how much we love each other. Thoughts?

What else, what else? Oh yes, Little Man has been going to "science camp" every other week at Explora Children's Science Museum and I think that he loves it. While we're there, it's really hard to get him to sit with the other kids (he always wants to sit on my lap) and to participate in some of the experiments correctly (he's usually building a house or a railroad out of whatever we're supposed to be using for our science experiment - i.e. rocks. pieces of bone, etc). Eventually I let him do his thing and I do the experiment, which is pretty fun actually. But then he talks about it all week. So I know he is learning . . . I just don't know if we'll do Science Camp again in the spring. They don't offer it in the summer, so if we don't, we'll have to wait until next fall. Flower is old enough to enroll for the spring (although only just), and the few times that she has come with us, she actually does everything - sits with the other kids and listens to the story, then does the experiment and generally listens and obeys. Maybe I"ll enroll them both. I don't know.

So that's been what's going on with us, in our little lives.