Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She Must Prefer Pile

Just peeking around the corner of the couch to check on Sleeping Beauty only to find that she has wiggled off her lovely pink blanket and is sleeping on the carpet again. I've put her back on twice! I guess she likes it better there. Sure hope she doesn't pick up a hairball!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birth Order Musings

I'm finishing up Dr. Lehman's book, The Birth Order Book. While I'd heard this and that regarding birth order before, it was good to read a thorough work on the subject. It was most helpful for me in understanding the two major "first-borns" in my life--the master and K. If your spouse is a first born or last born, I would definitely recommend reading this book.
I am not first born, but since my older sister is seven years older, I exhibit many first born tendencies. Unfortunately, first borns tend to always think their way is the right way, and it is their job to convince everyone else to see it their way. You can see how this can be problematic in marriage!
A neat statistic that Dr. Lehman brought out was that 80% of pastors are first born and another 10% are the first born males in their families. Only 10% are middle born and babies. I guess it makes sense that they develop a natural affinity for helping people along in life. I think of how often K serves as a kind of shepard--patiently herding kids one direction or another.
Speaking of K, Reading the chapter on compliant first borns was eerie when I applied it to my oldest son. Dr. Lehman could have used his picture in the margin with the words, "Exhibit A." He fits exactly. First borns tend to expect perfection--from themselves and others--so they can be prone to depression as adults when they and the people they love fail to live up to their ideal. I learned that, with K, it will be important for us to be transparent when we make mistakes and fail. The worse we mess up, the better. WOW! That takes the pressure off, doesn't it? He needs to see that God forgives us, we forgive ourselves, and we forgive each other. For years I've wondered why K had such a hard time making decisions. He would agonize over any and every choice. Silly stuff, like, "K, do you want Cheerios, or Shredded Wheat?" I must admit, after waiting several minutes for his answer, I often found myself blurting out, "Just pick something already!!" The Birth Order Book helped me see that it isn't that he doesn't know what he wants, it is that he is afraid he will make a bad/wrong decision. The first born is often paralyzed by this fear, which seems so foreign to me. Again, very helpful to see things from the first born's perspective.
There is less in the book regarding middle borns. SEE??!! We're always left out. Family photo albums are just the beginning....Nah, as I said, while I am the middle child of my family, I showed up seven year's later (any age difference of more than five years, will affect birth order traits--so says Lehman). Also I came on the scene after a four year battle with infertility, so I made a pretty good showing in the family album. My younger sister, Jen, is the one with the sore spot on number of photos. One thing that I'd never thought about before was that middle children often make more friends and put a far greater investment into these relationships than first or last borns. This was very true for me growing up. From the time I was a little girl, I had a large, close circle of friends that I was always out doing things with. Both of my sister's had maybe one or two good friends and rarely went out, which always struck me as strange. I had no idea that this tendency was somehow linked to my birth order. Middle born children are also extremely loyal to these relationships, that is what makes them good spouses. And, they are the ones that are the first to break away from the family and start independent lives (I married the master at 19).
I garnered the least amount of helpful information on last borns. But as I started to analyze my family and friends, I realized that I am close to few babies of the family. My younger sister and I, born 16 months apart, were raised as virtual "twins," so maybe that accounts for why she exhibits more middle-born tendencies than baby tendencies. And my sister-in-law (the baby), is more of a perfectionist than the master! Personality wise, she is a dead ringer for a first born. It could be my small sample size, but it was definitely with the last borns that I saw the most discrepancy in his theory. I do see what he calls "baby" tendencies with Ian and Randy, but I think that comes from my babying of them! This is his list of general baby characteristics:
"manipulator, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious, people person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate, loves surprises."

So what do you think? Are you a last born? Know any last borns? Is he off, or am I?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Preschool Grief Therapy

As an update on the dachshund situation. Our new improved fence did not hold the escape artists. At two a.m. Saturday morning, there was a knock at our door. It was a neighbor who had not gotten any sleep because of our dogs. They had treed a possum in her back yard and had been yipping incessantly for hours. We held the dogs in the garage until about 6:00 am, and then the master took them to their new homes.
I thought the girls were taking it pretty well. We distracted Abby with a trip that morning to her best friend's house. Who needs dogs when you have a bosom companion? Marina joined us on the outing, and as far as I could tell, both girls were sufficiently recovered from their initial upset.
Little did I know...
Flash forward three days. Marina comes home from school with the exciting news that after an entire month of waiting, she had finally experienced the joy and privilege of being "The Leader." For days, she had been watching her clothespin move closer and closer to that much coveted place of honor, "Just four more days, Momma, and I am d' leader"..."I count three days till I am d' leader." The leader gets to pass out papers. The leader is first in line. AND the leader gets to dictate the class's daily journal entry during circle time. I did the same thing when I taught kindergarten. Apparently, Marina's teacher also asks the leader how they are feeling and records their response as a face beside their name. Scroll down to see what Marina pulled out of her back-pack on Tuesday.

Ask me if I feel like dirt.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, September 22, 2008
Outside My Window...a small purple newt, and beyond, a quiet street in a peaceful neighborhood.
I am thinking...that it is time to put back up our debt snowball poster and figure out where we go from here.
I am thankful for...I am feeling thankful that our old pediatrician has agreed to add our six kiddos to his practice. Cara has an appointment on Wednesday.
From the kitchen...I am happy to report that I have a freshly mopped floor and an empty sink. A few odds and end groceries on the bar that did not get put away in the pantry. A slowly simmering cr*ck-p*t full of pinto beans and sausage for tomorrow's dinner. Mmmm....
I am wearing...Stylin' in red, blue, and bright yellow PTA shirt from K's kindergarten class and teal work-out shorts. Don't worry, I didn't actually work out....
I am creating...nothing. Contemplating starting costumes for the kids, but six costumes is rather overwhelming me.
I am going...to a local education store tomorrow with Marina. Where she will return the die that she STOLE on Friday. Yep, she is a thief. As far as I know, she has only ever stolen within the family before. I found the die on the floor of the van Sunday morning, which did not put me in the best frame of heart for worship. I don't know what I'm going to do with that child.
I am reading...The Wizard of Oz (bedtime chapter book with the kids) and Dr. Lehman's Birth Order Book. Fascinating, fascinating information--probably will hear some posts about birth order and how it applies to my family and the family I grew up in the near future. And Corinthians.
I am hoping...that Marina has learned her lesson on stealing and will NEVER, EVER, do it again.
I am hearing...golden silence.
One of my favorite things...Can I just say I love the new Pr*pel drinks from Gat*rade? You must try Black Cherry.
Around the house...a general sense of order and cleanliness. I'm feeling a need to get pictures, wall hanging, and drapes up. I'm ready to lose that "just moved" look.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Reform shop-lifting daughter. Get Cara to pediatrician. File COBRA insurance paperwork. Make dinner for new mom at church. Finish unpacking girl's bedroom. Oooh! Oooh! And Saturday we (the whole family) are participating in a 5k/1k run. I'll be walking the "run," but it should be fun. You should have seen the master's face when I told him about our participation, "You signed us up for what?" I'm not known for being an exercise enthusiast. But K and Abby have shown a natural aptitude for track events (both won the overall trophies in their age division at last field day), and I think we should encourage this discipline.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Hard to believe, but she will be three months old tomorrow. A newborn no longer! Her shirt says, "I give wet kisses."
This meme brought to you by: Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, September 19, 2008

Of Daddies, Daughters, and Dachshunds

We have three dachshunds. Rufus, Sally, and GiGi. They are the remnants of one of our get rich schemes: Sunnyside Kennels. Which never really took off. All in all, they are good dogs. Dachshunds are excellent kid dogs, so long as they are raised from puppies with children. However, they have one terrible trait. Their all consuming passion to escape. Bred to follow badgers and other ground creatures into their burrows, dachshunds are wonderful diggers and not a'feared of anything, despite their short stature.
Our dogs are no exception. Over time, our hurricane fence became a high security enclosure with concrete under most of the perimeter and metal clips stuck deep into the ground. Each time they would dig out, we would get out the sack-crete and fill the hole and add some extra clips around it. But that was at our old house.
This back yard has no fence, and we cannot build one until we close on the house. At first we kept the dogs in a little outbuilding, but they escaped from there no less than five times. Last weekend, the master built a temporary fence, but with extra fencing pushed into the soil. He spent over four hours building it and in a little more time than that--you guessed it--the Houdini hounds figured out a way to climb it, flopping their long noodle-like bodies over it in a most ridiculous fashion.
Back into the shed they went. The master was pretty frustrated. But when they--by rushing at them at morning feeding and running lose all over the neighborhood--made Abby late for school on Tuesday, and K late for school on Wednesday, he came to the conclusion that the dogs had to go. That day. He got on the phone and found a home for each of them. He was taking them first thing on Thursday.
For my part, I was as tired of the situation as he was, but doubtful of the plan to give the dogs away. I warned him that the children would be heartbroken, and I was concerned about what message it would send Marina. She is very sensitive to abandonment themes. Every time we watch the Disney movie, Oliver and Company, she will seek me out within the first five minutes (when Oliver is the only kitten not chosen from his litter and is left out in the rain) and tell me that the show makes her sad. Of all the children, Marina likes the dogs the least. She never plays with them or pets them. Even when Sally has had puppies--driving the other kids wild with excitement--she had no interest in them, and is more than mildly annoyed when the dogs jump up on her and dirty her clothes. Still, my mommy-gut wondered how giving the dogs away would make her feel and I worried how it would all play out with her. It had nothing to do with her attachment to the dogs, everything to do with her attachment to us. But the master was firm. He was the head of the house and he felt this was for the best. OBKB....But I opted to be gone when he broke the news.
I came home from choir Wednesday night to find a big puddle of mush in my kitchen. The kids were all in bed, and I asked how had the dog discussion gone. The master looked at the floor. "I caved," he mumbled.

Me: What?

The Master: only slightly louder I caved.

Me: mock surprise No, surely not you!

The Master: looking very sheepish indeed I explained it all...how it wasn't fair to keep the dogs in the shed. That it wasn't a good life for them. But that we couldn't let them run around the neighborhood messing up other people's yards and property. I told them that when we could build a good fence, we would get a new dog. A bigger breed that wouldn't be as prone to getting out. Abby tried to be brave--she kept nodding her head in agreement--but she couldn't help the big tears from rolling down her cheeks...it was the nodding that got me..and then when it finally clicked in Marina's head that the dogs were being sent away, she began to weep bitterly. 'Please don't make the dogs go away.' So, I relented.

Me: triumphantly You are so whooped. Those girls have you right where they want you. Well, what are we going to do about the dogs?

The Master: I said I would fix the fence and make it higher......But if they get out ONE MORE TIME.....

Me: Uh-huh. then in my best sing-song I told you so.

And he did fix the fence. He stayed up all night working on it. The question remains: Will they, or won't they?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, September 15, 2008
Outside My Window...piles of debris from hurricane Ike. The abandoned wheel barrow and rakes. An empty hummingbird feeder. The master usually takes care of that and he is gone. I'm going to have some desperate birds around here in the morning.

I am thinking...how strange is the heart's ability to bury something painful so deeply that you are over and over again shaken, no, surprised when you suddenly and unexpectedly remember.

I am thankful for...safety of persons and property during the storm.

From the kitchen...chaos. Utter chaos. I spent all day outside raking and all evening at the grocery store, so this place is a complete wreck. Really, I'd be embarrassed for you to see. For the first time in my life, I have a tile floor (movin' on up....to the sky...), and it is a bear to keep clean. It is light colored and everything shows. Even as I am mopping, I notice that there are little hard specks on the tile that the mop isn't getting. Suggestions? Tips? What works for you?

I am wearing...too tight top and capri pants. Since giving up the daycare, I've rediscovered domesticity, mostly in the form of baked goods and cheesy casseroles. I can't stop!! I must stop!!

I am creating...a blog header in scrapblog. I can't believe it, I am finally going to be able to express myself visually on my blog. Thanks Debbie!

I am going...to prepare for mission's group with the kids tomorrow. Last week was the first week and I had almost twenty kids. I did not have near enough prepared, so I need to get a head start. But that is a good problem to have. A bad problem is that I am the ONLY adult. 1:20 is not good a good ratio, friends.

I am reading...The Wizard of Oz (bedtime chapter book with the kids) and Philippians.

I am hoping...that the storm will not prevent us from selling our house in southeast Texas. I feel selfish and petty for wanting that, when so many have lost so much....but two house payments is going to be tough for us to keep up for very long. (Does this meme have a, "I am worried about..." section?)

I am hearing...the rattle of our antiquated AC unit, but praise the Lord we have it! Occasional soft grumbles from Cara's bassinet in the living room. Time to heat a bottle.

One of my favorite things...the words, "Again, mommy," coming from a completely delighted child who is totally enthralled by some silly thing that you have done.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Clean the INSIDE of the house.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This picture was taken in June on Galveston beach. Makes me a little sad to think of what that island looks like today.
This meme brought to you by: Simple Woman's Daybook

Ike Aftermath

My arms are sore from raking, and I'll probaby have blisters tomorrow, but the yard is looking much better! Who would of thought that I would still have hurricane clean-up in my new home? Not me, for sure. We lost six trees here, but thankfully none on the house. Technically, we are still renters, so I guess it would have been the seller's problem, but since we were in it at the time, I'm very glad nothing fell on the house.
The master left this morning, along with my best help (aka K), to see how our coastal dwelling place fared. He called this evening to say that the yard there looks better than the yard here. My parents' home is also in good shape. Our theory (mine and my dad's) is that Rita cleared out all of the weak/dead wood three years ago, and since then, the phone and electrical companies have been more vigilant about keeping the trees cut back from the lines. Of course, Daddy and I aren't exactly leading scientists in the field of forestry, 'ya know, so my friend Kathy can chime right in and either lend credence to or completely discount this hypothesis. At any rate, power is already being restored in my little hometown, and with Rita it took THREE weeks. I'm sure you will hear much about terrible devastation in the days to come, but that was from the storm surge (which hit two nearby communities) and Galveston, and Houston. Houston only caught the clean side of Rita three years ago, so their trees and linemen were still lazy.
We were saddened to hear that the little community five miles down the road from our old home--where we worshipped for the last year and a half--was completely destroyed. Even though they were such a short distance from us, our neighborhood was within the levee system and the neighboring community wasn't. Our levee and seawall held, otherwise our house would have been underwater as well. You won't hear about them on the national news, but 80% of the congregation lost their homes. After Rita, most insurance companies would no longer write flood insurance for those living on the bayou, so when I say they lost everything, I mean it. There won't be a check from the insurance company coming in the mail. We are so burdened for them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

There She Blows

Our old house. Hurricane Ike is barreling straight towards her. This time it is not the wind we are worried about. It is the 15-25 foot storm surge. Our house will be under water! It is insured, but as we learned with Rita, insurance doesn't pay quite what your home is worth, and NEVER very quickly. We could be making "house" payments on a pile of sticks for a year or more. We still had quite a bit of stuff down there. Our garage and outbuilding were piled high with belongings. There was just too much stuff to move in one trip. I keep picturing the water rising around my antique sewing table and dresser. AAAGH!!
My mom and dad did evacuate. I'm so thankful. After last week's false-alarm evacuation (Gustav), I was afraid they wouldn't. Dad was so riled over emergency personnel claiming that "they would not allow citizens back into devastated areas," that he talked as if he would sit on the front porch with his shotguns and spit in 'Ole Ike's eye. Daddy is a peace-loving soul, but if you want to see him feisty, just tell him you are going to take his guns or his land. That is a real good way to get on his bad side. Right up until yesterday afternoon, they were stocking up on supplies and tying off trees, but then at the last he had a change of heart. He said he was just staking off the last of the oaks, when he realized that after tomorrow (which is today). He would be alone with mom--who wanted to go see the grandkids anyway--in the rain. In the house. Without t.v., telephone, or--most importantly--air conditioning. He would have to work over a generator night and day for light and necessities. He decided it would be a bittersweet victory over the establishment to say the least.
Many of our friends and neighbors did not evacuate. And for them we earnestly pray. Truly, this storm surge will be life threatening. Pray that everyone makes it to high ground in time.

Blog Skin

Cari, I think you are right. I would like a little less picture in the header. I'd love to paste the title and subtitle (verse) along with a some of the heart/flower graphics. I'm wanting it to have a sort of scrapbook look at top. Ideally using several photos instead of the one large photo. The only problem is that I'm working with the online free version of PhotoShop, and it isn't very user friendly. Especially if you are not a computer graphics geek. I've been playing around with it, but can't seem to manage any effects except for black and white and text. I can't even shrink the photo!
Debbie, I like your header. Simple but clean and crisp. I think I might try it and see which looks the best. But I don't know how you got your nifty framing. Did you design it in blogger?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Moved, Not Settled

I'm finding it somewhat awkward beginning this blog. Rather like the sensation of getting a brand new diary, all crisp and new...without the smudges and scratch outs. As a teen, I would sometimes let my journals sit empty for weeks on my desk after purchase. But I guess I need to jump in...
I was determined to name this new blog, "Jessy in the Pines" because we are in the piney woods of East Texas. But alas, forsooth, there are only hardwoods surrounding my dwelling. Pretty unusual for this area, but lovely, all the same. "Jessy Under the Oaks" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
After living in the house for a week, our stuff arrived Saturday before last. I've been steadily unpacking, but there are still a few boxes in the bedrooms. Which makes me wonder. Surely, if we have lived without it for three weeks, we do not really need it.
The kids began in the new school and for the most part have adjusted well. Remember that they are coming from a one building (K-12) situation, with one class per grade and around 13 kids in each class. Here, each of the four schoolers is on a different campus!!! Ian is having quite a bit of behavior problems, but that--unfortunately--is normal for him. They have a half day pre-K here, and after much internal see-sawing, I decided to enroll Marina. After a year of the structure and social interaction of the daycare, I felt it would be somewhat cruel to make her stay home all day with me and the babies. A half day is ideal for her, because she can still have her afternoon siesta. It was with much trepidation that I watched her climb on the big yellow bus, but so far, things are going remarkably smooth.
Baby Cara is growing. I can't give you an exact weight, because we haven't made it to the doctor up here. Yesterday, we got the good news that the termination of parental rights did get the judge's stamp, so that aspect is official.
I would like some input on my template. Should I replace the big picture in my header with a plain-jane title and then have the photo as my "About Me" picture? I want to work in Proverbs 4:23, somewhere....I think Santa is going to have to bring me PhotoShop. I've been a very good girl.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting Started

It is late and I'm just trying to see how this new template will work for me. Nice long, newsy post will come. Along with a classy blog skin....I hope.