Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Time Has Come

Back in the early fall I decided to potty train Pepper. It went well...for the most part. He was very consistent about getting his poops in the potty, but he just couldn't figure out the pee-pee routine. As long as he was naked, he would make it to the potty. But once the secure feeling of underwear was on him, he would forget to go to the potty. After a month of this, I decided to put potty training on hold and give him a few more months. The few more months did the trick, apparently. Yesteday I went to Babies R Us and stocked up on those thick, padded, training pants. Little Mister is too skinny for Pull-Ups! I also picked up little potty seat inserts for the toilets in our house, and a step stool for each toilet.

This morning I explained the drill to Pepper. No pee in the undies. Pee in the potty. No pee in the undies. Pee in the potty. No pee in the undies. Pee in the potty. And we were off! He made it a whole 10 minutes before pee went in the undies. Then some pee went in the potty. A half hour later, pee went in the second pair of undies. Then pee went in the potty. But then we broke out the third pair, and it was like a light came on for Pepper. Pee goes in the potty! Therefore, tell Mommy when I have to pee and then run for the potty. The third pair of undies went on him at 10:00. He stayed dry until lunch, peeing in the potty as needed. I diapered him for his nap, promising candy if he woke up with a dry diaper.

3 hours later, Pepper hollered to me that he had to go potty. I ran up to his room, got him out of his bed, and headed for the bathroom. He took off his DRY diaper, climbed up on the potty, and put pee in the potty, just like Mommy told him to! He thoroughly enjoyed the lollipop that came afterward! I just tucked Pepper into bed for the night, trading that same pair of dry undies for a nighttime diaper. He went from 10:00 this morning until bedtime with dry underwear! He is super proud of himself, and I begin to have hope that potty training will not be as big of an ordeal as I was expecting! Three cheers for Pepper!

Our Latest Adventure

Our North Carolina Trip was awesome! We were blessed with a 2-bedroom suite at the hotel so Matt could host a couple of receptions there in the little living room. This space allowed the kids and me to crash and relax without being crowded into a single hotel room. Having their own beds made a huge difference in the quality of sleep the kids got, too. While Matt was very happily working at the conference, the kids and I made the 30-mile trek to Beverly's house, sometimes twice a day. She was delighted to meet and spend time with them.

She and I had a great time visiting too, of course. On Sunday after the conference finished, Matt joined us at Bev's house and our two families spent the afternoon and evening together. Bev's youngest son Christian just turned 7, so he and Snapper loved playing together. Both of them were very sad when it was time for us to leave.

On Monday morning we checked out of our hotel, and then went to meet with the man (Bill) who gave us our new van. He and Matt got all the paperwork done and went to the DMV to transfer the title and get current tags on the van. That completed, we went to Bill's house to pick up the van. It is a 1996 Ford Windstar. It has high miles, but Bill is a Ford mechanic, and put in a new transmission, new air filter, fresh fluids, and new tires for us. He went through it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it was sound. It is bright teal (such a mid-90's color) on the outside, and light gray upholstery on the inside. It is in beautiful condition, and has obviously been well taken care of. It drives like a dream, and we are SO thankful to God for providing us this vehicle!

On Monday afternoon we drove back to Concord to go to the Hendrick Motorsports headquarters. As you know, I am a huge NASCAR fan. The driver I closely follow is Jimmie Johnson, who is on the Hendrick Motorsports racing team. We got to visit the Hendrick Museum and shop, where I purchased a Jimmie Johnson license plate for the front of my new van, and a lug nut off of Jimmie's car, which is now safely on my keychain. We also got to see the shop where they work on the 48 and 24 cars (Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, for those of you who care!). It was such a thrill! Hee hee! I'm a nerd and I own it...

After our little museum stop, we hit the road for real. Matt and Pepper, accompanied by "Shrek," took the rental car. Snapper and I, accompanied by "Annie," followed in the new van. We drove as far as our tired bodies could handle that night, ending up at a Hamton Inn about 40 miles west of Knoxville, TN. We walked in, put the kids in their jammies, and dropped them into bed. I kid you not, Pepper was asleep within 10 seconds, and Snapper within 2 minutes. It was too cute not to photograph.

On Tuesday morning, we all slept in until 8:30, then had breakfast at the hotel, and hit the road again. We stopped in Nashville and met a friend for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Oh yum! What a great way to celebrate Fat Tuesday! It was great to spend some time with Jen and catch up with her. After lunch, we drove on to Memphis. We stopped at the Children's Place in Memphis and bought Snapper's Easter dress. So cute! Pictures will come at Easter. The last leg of our journey was from Memphis to our home, about a 2-hour drive.

And now I mount my soap box. I think Tennessee must be a very safe state because they have state troopers everywhere, and the speed limits actually mean something. I must have seen a state trooper every 10-15 miles all the way through Tennessee. Not Arkansas. I didn't see one the whole way from Memphis, through Little Rock, and on to our house. Not one. And guess what? The truckers know this and take advantage of it. One trucker tried to run me off the road. I really think it was intentional, because he saw me getting onto the freeway, there was no one in the left lane, yet he didn't move over, and sped up as I was merging into the right lane from the on ramp. I ended up in the dirt on the very narrow shoulder, and saw my life pass in front of my eyes as he came barreling by me. It was really scary! I got back on the road and headed forward. As soon as I caught up to that truck, he pulled into the left lane before I could pass him. I followed him for about 3 miles (no, he wasn't trying to pass another truck). When he wouldn't get into the right lane, I got over and tried to pass him on the right. As soon as I got into the right lane and started to pass, he put on his turn signal and started to change lanes into me, almost running me off the road again. Once again I backed off, and he completed the lane change. I moved back into the left lane to pass him, and he sped up to 80 mph (the truck speed limit was 55). I wasn't about to do 90 to pass him, so I backed off again. Once again he changed into the left lane and slowed down. This time I didn't use my signal. I backed off, got a running start, and jumped into the right lane and sped past him before he could run over me. He changed lanes again right as I got by him. It was several miles before I was able to outrun him. He stayed on my tail as I cruised between 75 and 80 mph, changing lanes behind me every time I changed lanes. I kept praying for a state trooper to come rescue me, but alas, my hopes were in vain. I was so relieved when he finally backed off. For the next 100 miles I encountered several other trucks that were driving recklessly and endangering other vehicles on the road. I felt like I had dragons breathing fire behind me the whole way. I have never been so glad to see the lights of out town. We pulled into the driveway rattled and cranky, but very glad to be home. I'm so glad I'll be home for a good while now! Life can go back to normal.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Road Warriors

As I type, I am comfortably settled in our hotel suite in North Carolina. We have 2 bedrooms, a kitchenette, a bathroom, and a living room. Wow! It is so nice and beautiful and relaxing! We have this set-up so that Matt can host little welcome sessions for pastors and group coordinators at the event this weekend without having to pay the hotel for the use of another conferene room. It is so good to be on the road, yet have a place entirely of our own in which to relax. Matt and I have a king-sized bed in our room, while Snapper and Pepper each have a double bed in their room. When we arrived last night, we crashed. Weary road warriors.

We drove straight through from Arkansas to Concord yesterday. That's a lot of miles. We borrowed a second portable dvd player (thanks, Anne!), so that each child could watch their own movies. It worked like a charm! The kids were amazing on the trip, even though it was 16 hours from home to hotel. I'm so relieved...

We went and visited Beverly this afternoon. She is doing really well! Her steroids are pretty well balanced, and she is getting around the house on her own. On Monday, though, she found out that reducing her steroids is not an option. When the doctors dropped her dosage, the Graft vs. Host Disease flared up and landed her in the hospital for 3 days. Now though, after bumping the steroids back up a bit, she's doing great. Today was the first time for the kids to meet her, and they loved her, of course. I think Snapper is going to be a nurse someday. The nurturer in her kicked in, and without any prompting from me, she tucked blankets in around Bev, walked close and held Bev's arm any time Bev would go anywhere, and kept offering to do little things to help her. It was sweet. Pepper was his adorable, charming self, giving "Bedavee" lots of hugs.

Now we're back at the hotel. The kids are just waking up from a 3-hour nap. Should make for a much more pleasant evening. The three of us are heading back to Bev's house for the evening while Matt's event kicks off. I must say, he looks undeniably HOT in his black pants, new black shoes, and new designer LifeChange staff shirt. Hee hee! Tomorrow will be spent with Bev. I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

As a side note--this afternoon I bought tickets for the September 6th NASCAR race in Atlanta!!!!! Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me! No, it is not my birthday. But the race will fall on my birthday weekend, and is, therefore, my 30th birthday present! Counting the days...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Forsythia Diaries, Chapter 1

Winter in Arkansas is my least favorite season. Yes, even the heat and humidity of summer are better than this! While many of the trees here turn beautiful colors in the fall and lose all their leaves by mid-November, there is an abundance of pin oaks, which retain many of their brown leaves all winter. When I look outside, I see a brown and gray world, punctuated by dead pin oak leaves clinging to branches. The pin oak leaves are like the exclamation points of a dreary winter. I've always struggled with a degree of seasonal depression as it is, so the bland Arkansas winters seem especially long to me.

This is why I have developed an eagle eye for early signs that spring is on its way. Typically, we start seeing tiny green leaves on some deciduous shrubs in mid-February. Bradford pear trees and ornamental plum trees bloom toward the end of February and early March. A few daffodils have ventured out now, but the bulk of them, along with the tulips, will bloom mid-March. My favorite tree, the dogwood, will grace our neighborhood with white and pink bracts (blossoms) toward the end of March, and silkworms will weave their nests in trees all over town. Wisteria arrives in early April, followed by an explosion of spring by the middle of April. While all of these are great, there is one special harbinger of spring that I anxiously watch for every year. We didn't have them in California, so here's a little botany for you Californians!

Our neighbor around the corner has a mid-sized forsythia bush in his front yard. It is an ugly bush most of the time. Yet this neighbor told me he keeps it solely for the 6 weeks of glorious blooms it puts forth at the end of February. This bush is like a patch of warm sunshine in the midst of the gray. This will be the 4th winter I have watched and enjoyed this neighbor's bush. This year, Snapper is watching it with me. I have decided I will photo document its eruption, and share a bit of spring with you! We drive by and inspect our bush every day, sometimes twice. This morning we were delighted to discover the first tiny blossom! Here are two pictures. Keep watching for more! I hope you'll enjoy the arrival of spring right along with us.

Theology, Penmanship, and a Minivan

We have now been home for a week, and life has settled back into a comfortable rhythm. I feel in control enough over laundry, dishes, and children to think about writing again. I'll warn you in advance--this blog is not very exciting. It's more of an update.

While we were in California, we made a 3-day detour up to the Lake Tahoe area to visit my cousin John and his wife Daisy. John is the youth pastor at a church up there. While we were there with John and Daisy, we had some great talks. If I lived close to Daisy, she would become a best friend for sure. We're so like-minded in so many ways. I loved the hours I spent cuddled up on the couch in their living room talking about everything under the sun with Daisy. John teaches a theology class at his church, and Matt and I got to go to that class while we were there. John is an incredible teacher. He taught a 90-minute class on a very...shall we say, heavy...topic. And the time flew by. He is so passionate about what he was teaching that his enthusiasm spread. It was an awesome class. The class, combined with my deep discussions with Daisy, have sparked a blaze in me.

I want to start digging deeper and learn more about God. I'm hungry for more of the Lord. So yesterday I headed to the Christian book store and purchased a "Concise Theology," by J.I. Packer. It is not a textbook by any means, but it is a basic theology book broken into bite-sized chunks for busy people like myself who don't necessarily have the time or energy to put into extensive study. I'm really excited to go through the book and dig for new truth!

Moving on.

While we were in California, we didn't get very much of Snapper's schoolwork done. All my good intentions, well, they remain good intentions that just didn't come to pass. We spent so much time on the road, meeting with people, working, that school took the back burner. And something very interesting happened. I discovered it yesterday, and confirmed it today. Either the time off, or a spurt of brain growth occurred in Snapper during the 5 weeks we were away. Her penmanship has taken an amazing turn for the better. Hallelujah! Her ability to focus has improved. And her general ease in doing schoolwork has matured as well. I was beginning to wonder if we'd be able to tackle cursive writing in 2nd grade. My concerns are now gone! Hooray! I love days like today.

Thursday will find us on the road...again. We're renting a car (our van still leaks transmission fluid when not parked facing down a hill), and driving straight through to North Carolina. It's a 14-hour drive. Don't worry, we borrowed a second portable dvd player to avoid disputes over movies. During our entire 5 weeks in CA (and close to 4,000 miles driven), the only movies Pepper would watch were Shrek, Shrek 2, and Horton Hears A Who. Poor Snapper is sick of those movies. So thanks to the borrowed dvd player, we'll be able to plug the kids in and go. They won't watch movies the entire time, but it will buy us some hours. Matt is working at a conference there in NC, and the kids and I will spend the weekend visiting Beverly.

While we're there, we're going to pick up OUR NEW VAN! Here's the amazing part. This van is being given to us. It's an older minivan with high miles, but it is still with the original owner who is a mechanic and has fixed the van up for us! When the owner gave it to us, he didn't know we were going to be in Charlotte in February. Charlotte is where he is. Amazing! Thanks, Lord!

I'll leave you with one last thing to think about. How can it be 71 degrees on a Wednesday and then snow on a Friday? That's the forecast for us this week. Weird...

Thursday, February 12, 2009


When I was a kid, our homeschool group used to have a Valentines Day party every year. We all made Valentine mailboxes and exchanged Valentines with all our friends. We played games and had refreshments. It was always lots of fun. My mom, being the crafty, creative type, always helped Jenny and me make cute Valentines. She didn't believe in buying the boxed kind. Besides, making Valentines was a great reason to spend more quality time together. The Valentine that most quickly comes to mind was the year we cut out large red and pink paper hearts of descending sizes and glued them together. A paper heart doily was the top layer, garnished with a sparkly, red, heart sticker. We cut two slits in the center of the Valentine and threaded Red Vines through them as an arrow. Our notes were written on the back. So cute and fun!

Last year I just didn't feel like making Valentines, so I had Walmart print up photo Valentines for Snapper's class and our family. They were adorable. I had planned on skipping Valentines altogether this year since we just got back from being gone for 5 weeks. But two things happened that changed my mind: 1. Snapper is totally excited about Valentines Day, and begged me to help her make Valentines to send to our family in California and Spokane. How could I resist that? 2. I came home from California to two new issues of my Creating Keepsakes magazine, one of which was the Valentines Day feature. Ideas came popping and screaming off the cover at me. And I was bitten. Or I took the bait. Whatever...

A peek at the Hobby Lobby website confirmed it--paper and stickers are 50% off this week. Plus I had a 25% off coupon. Plus I receive the family discount since Debbie works there. That decided, I left the kids with Debbie and floated down to that crafter's paradise called Hobby Lobby. I thoroughly enjoyed a blissful, kid-free hour selecting paper and cardstock. Then Snapper and I had a delightful afternoon crafting our Valentines. They aren't super creative. They aren't at all complicated. But they are a mix of Snapper's child-art and my patterned paper obsession. In a word, they are cute! And I ordered a sweet pic of the kids to go with. So if you are a member of my family, be watching your mail on Monday or Tuesday. You'll get a little belated Valentines Day treat.

Another day. Another memory made.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Is there anything more welcome than the sight of your own home after a long trip? I think not! As fantastic as the last 5 weeks were, we were all so ready to come home. Travel yesterday was uneventful...well, the kids did well and all the luggage arrived. The last 45 minutes of our San Jose to Dallas flight and the first 20 minutes of our Dallas to Little Rock flight were like riding a roller coaster. Fortunately, the kids thought it was fun, giggling and squealing each time the plane dropped or lurched. Wow... Even at our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, the thunderheads towered over us. It was incredible, absolutely incredible! So beautiful! But my camera battery was dead. Sob!

The best surprise we came home to was kittens! NOT! The best surprise was that our knocked up kitty fooled us by not being prego after all! Hooray! But yeah, that cat was so excited to see us. And there was lots of great mail, too. Even more junk mail, but I'll just ignore that. Debbie did a great job holding down the fort for us, and all was just as we left it. We hauled in luggage and put kiddos straight to bed. That was at 8:00. It is now 9:30 and they are still sound asleep. Poor tired babies. They were so good on the trip. We dragged them all over California, required good manners, and insisted they get along. Five weeks is a long time to be so restrained when you are 6 and 2. I'm proud of them.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to live life in the real world again. I have laundry to do (only 2 loads, fortunately). I have 5 suitcases to unpack. I have no food in the house, therefore, I must go shopping. Then there's Snapper's schoolwork to think about. And though I left the house clean, it has accumulated quite a bit of dust while we were gone. Time to do some cleaning. I think it will take a few days to get back into the swing of things. I think for now I'll start with unpacking. Yeah. That sounds good.