Monday, August 31, 2009

I have a perfectly good excuse...

As to why I haven't blogged for 4 whole days...

Our good friends the Wilkinsons came to visit for the weekend. Typically I would tell you to be wary of people you meet on the internet, but in this situation, it turned out really, really good.

It's amazing how you much alike we are. Scary in fact. Even our kids are so much alike. Aiden and Jack are like one and the same. They spent the weekend making origami weapons and talking about imaginary lands.


I found it kinda sad and frustrating that Josh has entered that near teenage state of mind where girls and texting are more important than playing with long lost friends who you grew up with in Africa who was like a brother to you, but I digress.

But Jameson and Ben played and played... and seem to be so much alike, it's insane. Insane because they are so much alike, and well scary because they are SO MUCH ALIKE. If you know Ben and Jameson like I know Ben and Jameson, you will know what I mean. SCARY!

Perhaps it's because we prayed for each other so much before we ever met... perhaps it's because we're all a little sick and twisty. In a good way.

Like the fact that we both fell down on the floor laughing at poor Ben in this picture.



And here are the original 3.

They were the among the first kids ever at Faith Children's Home, which later became Hope.



Jaclyn and I had only talked on the phone, via email and text messages until July of this year. Do you remember this post I wrote way back in February 2008 about Josh and Jameson's best friend Minte? And this update?

That was when I first met the Wilkinson's via email and phone when they fell in love with this boy who broke my heart in Ethiopia as he hid under the stairs to cry when Josh left.



You can read about their story here, although Jaclyn doesn't have much time for blogging anymore because she is always chasing this gorgeous baby!



We spent the weekend hanging out, watching our kids play, watching movies, planning what is sure to become quarterly get-togethers, as well as 3 arranged marriages. The arranged marriages are deserving of a post all their own, so be prepared; it's slightly disturbing.












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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

proof that I have the stupidest dog on earth...

Well, it's document now.

We have the most stupid dog on earth...

Just why is he scaling this fence?

Well, because someone threw his piece of wood over the fence, and he is absolutely neurotic.

Where did he get that piece of wood?

Well it's a piece he chewed off of my deck... the deck I spent thousands of dollars on...
Nice huh?
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the old woman in the shoe


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

She had so many children she didn't know what to do!

So she gave them some broth without any bread,

And she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed!

____________________________________________


Is it ironic that this was my favorite nursery rhyme as a child?

I guess I could have predicted my future...

Today was a much better day and perhaps I just needed to whip them all soundly and send them to bed.

In all actuality, I took a bunch of Benadryl and put myself to bed. Dad was in charge of the kids. Yeah Dad!

I am feeling better today!

Not much has been marked off of my frustration list. I still don't have that much needed bunk bed. That basket of socks? Yep... still sitting there. And the stupidest dog in the world? He learned to jump over a 6 foot privacy fence today.

But school was much better. I enjoyed it. The kids enjoyed it. We learned a lot and there was no screaming (from the little blond child) and no crying from the rest of us.

Thank you God!
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Text Message Tuesday

I invite you to Text Message Tuesday. Have you ever seen something so funny that you just had to text someone to tell them? Complaining about traffic? Kids do something remarkable? Save it! Share it!

Feel free to have a laugh at my expense, and don't forget to leave me a comment with your favorite text conversation this week!

Here are a few of my favorite saved texts for the week.
It's been a rough week, there were several that weren't suitable to share...
__________________________________________________

Me: "Lou Ferrigno just put me in a sleeper hold."


Reply: "Nice."

__________________________________________________


Me: "I just saw a dude nilking a cow. I'm in the country."

Me: "Sorry. Milking."

Reply: "You're weird."
__________________________________________________

Me: "My car ate some benadryl. He's been sleeping for like 6 hours. Should I be worried?"

Me: "Sorry. Cat.

Reply: "I'm calling PETA and your mechanic."

_________________________________________________

Me: "What are the symptoms of swine flu?"

Reply: "Aversion to bacon?"
__________________________________________________

Me: "I'm so sick."

Reply: "You wanna come swimming?"

Me: "No. I'm sick."

Reply: "OK. Well give me your excuse as to why you can't come. She'll ask..."

__________________________________________________

Message: "... has refused to keep a diaper on for two days. He throws a fit if you take his flip flops off. Naked except for flip flops. Just add flies and we are a feed the children commercial."

Me: "Where can I send a donation?"

__________________________________________________

Me: "Ya know mac n cheese isn't that bad with just water..."

Reply: "Are we out of milk again?"

Me: "Yep."

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Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm frustrated

I'm frustrated.

With so many things...

the bunkbed we ordered that should have been here 2 weeks ago.
still isn't here.
the furniture store man who won't call us back.
the room which remains undone.
the clean bedding which remains draped over the staircase
because there's no bed to put it on.
that will be dirty again by the time there is a bed to put it on.
the mattress which remains in the living room.
the child who continues to sleep on the couch.
the bedroom which flooded again with the last thunderstorm.
the deck company who was supposed to pick up the wood they left last summer.
and promised to pick it up a month ago.
and still hasn't.
the dirty computer screen with the very visible smudge with the word "nerf"
the companies who promise things and don't follow up.
the new car which I just made the first payment on.
which is in the shop with another blown coil.
the tiny blond girl who keeps screaming and screaming and screaming.
about everything.
the kids who don't want to do their homework.
who gritch and complain at every turn.
the constant revision of the homeschool schedule
which continues to need some tweaking.
the man who was working on the girls ceiling today
who kept slamming the front door
again and again and again
during my precious 3 hours of sleep
after working all night.
and my runny nose, headache, sneezing mess that won't stop.
my high dollar, high speed internet connection which is highly unreliable.
the basket of socks that isn't going to fold itself.
the dishwasher full of dishes that was never started.
the big stupid dog who is destroying my life, my deck, my yard.
the small stupid dog who yips, yips, yips until I want to ring his neck.

I'm frustrated.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

the cat, my swine flu and some benadryl



Jordan is a cat person.

Always has been.

She's always wanted one of those cats that just cuddles with you and sleeps all the time... you know the one?

This year for Christmas, Justine and I happened to drive by one of those "free kitten" people who sit in the WalMart parking lot. I don't know what happened to me. I totally lost all ability to make decisions. We loaded up that little tiny kitten and took it home.

Jeff got home that night, and I confessed what I had done.

"Don't you think this is something we might have wanted to talk about?"

"Probably."

This cat is insane. He uses our living room as a racetrack. He jumps from one thing to the next, ending up teetering precariously on the bookshelf or on top of the TV. And then he does the whole routine in reverse.

She named him Mr. Rogers, although I've never seen him as serene or sedate as the real Mr.Rogers. We all wanted to call him Kung Fu Kitty...

Absolute maniac of a cat Mr. Rogers is, but rarely cuddly.

Very rarely.

__________________________________________________


I get sick about twice a year, and when I do, I usually do it up right.

And when I do get sick, our semi-chaotic, yet halfway organized existence comes to a screeching halt.

Friday I woke up feeling a bit under the weather, but I was able to make it through most of school. By 3pm, I pretty much felt like I had been not only hit by a truck, but also drug quite a ways by said truck. I crawled into bed and stayed there all night.

Saturday was pretty much the same.

I got up for awhile, and tried to do some laundry and clean the house a bit, but I definitely was not my pleasant, friendly, patient self.

I think my kids miss me being functioning as much as I miss functioning.

____________________________________________________


The few days I was sick, the kids did their best to help out. They at least checked on me occasionally; brought me water intermittently. Basically treated me like a house plant... but I digress.

Last night, Justine was opening the tiny, childproof package of cold medicine and Benadryl for me because I couldn't get it open. At this point, I am desperate to kick this and get back to normal. I will take any amount of decongestant possible to make my nose quit running. I can no longer even make saliva because I am so histamine blocked.

Medicine head? Uh, no. I had complete medicine neurological system. I was barely coordinated enough to walk... "right foot, left foot, repeat."

Justine hands me the opened package of Benadryl. My fingers fumble around it as if I were wearing invisible, furry mittens. The Benadryl drops to the floor almost matrix style, slow motion, turning, twisting, bouncing as it hit the floor. I am in awe. I just watch as it bounces, once, twice, just twisting flashes of pink. Wow. So pink.

I don't even make a move toward the Benadyl. Nope. Didn't move a muscle.

Just stood there, staring at the pink pill on the floor.


Then suddenly, Mr. Rogers gobbles it up.

________________________________________________



And so I spent most of the night waking up the cat, making sure he's still breathing. I would pick him up and move him from chair to couch or vice versa and then he would settle in, going back to sleep immediately. Sometimes he would just sleep sitting up.

I know. I know. But I warned you what a horrible pet owner I was a while back, didn't I?

I did enjoy the cuddle for awhile.

He looks a little hung over this morning... I kinda like it.


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

the untitled post

An untitled post because I can't even think of a title for this one that does it justice. One that doesn't sound hokey or clique or limited. And so... this is my untitled post.

Thursday Jeff and I traveled to the small town where he grew up for our dear friend Jessica's funeral. It was a great funeral... if funerals can be great. It summed up her life. It was her, in essence. It had a purpose, which was to share who she really was, and to inspire those attending to continue on her legacy; To create their own legacy.

And yes, even at age 27, Jess has a legacy. I wonder if I could say the same thing at 27... or even 37. Jess was truly devoted to her church, to her youth group where she was the youth pastor. She was devoted to her family. She worked with troubled youth. She planned on being a foster parent and to someday adopt. She wanted to be a missionary. Jessica leaves a legacy. And the crux of that legacy is to love others unconditionally, to help where you can help, and to remember those who no one else remembers.

The visitation took 5 and a half hours. There were people waiting in the parking lot, wound around chairs inside the funeral home, waiting for their turn to tell her parents what a difference she had made in their lives and how much she was loved.

The funeral was standing room only, with a live feed of the funeral piped into another building. There were so many flowers, only a portion of them were in the funeral home. The rest resided in the garage of the funeral home.

Jessica's dad told us that Jess often told him, "I just don't feel like I'm making much of a difference. I need to do more." He laughed slightly as he motioned to the crowd ... indicating what we all knew. She had made a difference. A big difference.

At the cemetary, we all took balloons and at the same time said, "We love you Jessica," and let the balloons go. As soon as the balloons took flight all in a clump, I could hear Jess's mom let out a heart breaking cry as if she was losing Jess all over again. It was a cry that I've heard only a few times in my life. It took my breath away. My hand immediately covered my own mouth to prevent such a sound from being uttered. The balloons flew together in the exact direction of the church Jessica loved so much.

The pain that Jessica's parents are feeling is something I wouldn't wish on anyone. I can't even imagine what today brings them, as that sort of pain is one that grows and simmers and grows again. Never completely going away. I don't know how I would be able to go on. I hope and pray that I never will have to know that pain.

After the funeral, Jeff came to me in tears and said, "We have 6 kids. We talk of number 7. The statistics are not on our side that WE won't be those parents some day. What if something happens to one of our children?"

And through my own tears I had to ask him, "Do you think Jessica's parents would have rather not known her just to miss this pain they're in right now? Would it have been better to have not shared in the joy of her life just to avoid this? What about all the people she helped? What about her legacy?"

We all know that our days are numbered. Jessica always wore her seat belt. Jessica had driven that road to church a thousand times and never had a wreck. God called her up that day. I can see now that it was unavoidable.

I am actually a very pragmatic person, one who always questions the why, why, why. Somehow I feel a lot more peaceful now realizing that we will all have a day that God will call us up. Only He knows what day that will be, and I believe that day is already predestined. It's already known to Him.

But we can't hide from loving people just because we might lose them. We should all be renewing relationships, furthering our causes, and loving others unconditionally because that's what matters in the end.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

See, we do math...

The boys played "around the world" multiplication style during school today.

See, we know our multiplication tables, and we take math seriously.

The boys especially take math seriously. This means they jump up and down. They scream out the answer. They push each other over in order to get the answer first.

Math can be a lot of fun.

It usually starts out innocently enough.

But sometimes math can get really competitive.

Sometimes, math can get really ugly.


Sometimes math can be quite absolutely hysterical.


Ok. Just because it is so funny, here's a close up at Jack's face.

Tell me this boy doesn't love his math...


Sometimes math can be quite rewarding.

So what if I throw animal crackers at them when they get the answers right?




They are developing their gross motor skills and math skills all at once.
I told you I was a homeschooling genius, didn't I?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rules of the Road

I am not going to pretend to be the kind of mom who doesn't let her kids watch a movie occasionally while on a road trip.

Because I do.

Not very Von Trappish of me, I know.

But we also sing and play games.

And I take pictures.

Sometimes of myself.

That being said, I thought I'd share with you some of our favorite games. We've been on so many road trips this summer, we can't stop playing our games even when just running to the grocery store or going to soccer practice.

One of the games we play is to add up the numbers of our birthdays, for example, my birthday is 10/05/71, (wow, I can't believe I just posted that on the internet...) so when you add up all of the single digits, you get 14. Therefore 14 is my special number. Then you count that number of cars that pass and when you reach the special number, that is the car is the car you will drive or drove on your 16th birthday. The kids have a blast with this because typically they end up getting a real clunker for their first car. And I always get the corvette. HA.

Because we are the Ellerbees and are indeed somewhat gross, we also play the road kill game. You get points according to which road kill you see. Obviously armadillos are not worth as much as deer etc. A deer with a good rack is worth a lot. So are foxes. See the point? Good clean family fun, don't you think? Josh once thought he saw a fish... on the street.... no where near any source of water. He didn't get points for that.

Several years ago, on a road trip to Chicago, we made up some "rules of the road." These were rules we had to follow on all subsequent road trips. We have been on so many road trips this year, the kids can't stop playing the game!



Here's a few of our rules that we follow all the time, even when it becomes an embarassing and annoying habit...
  • Lift your feet up as the car goes over a railroad track.
  • Hold your breath when you drive under a bridge or overpass.
  • Sing as you drive over a bridge.
  • Touch your nose and say beep beep when you see a yellow car.
  • Moo when you see a cow. Neigh when you see a horse. Bark.... you see my point here.

The best part about games like these are that the kids remember every single rule. They remember every game. They will remember these moments.

At least I hope that's what they will remember....

And not me screaming about being cut off in traffic or getting mad at "Daphne" (our GPS) for telling me I'm going the wrong way.

But that the memories they will keep will be of all 8 of us singing off tune at the top of our lungs everytime we drive over a bridge.

These are certainly the days I will remember.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

6,12,18,24,30,36,42,48,54,60,66,72

We are so trying to get our homeschool organized, and I am slowly but surely getting used to having all 5 of them home every single day. I am the type of person who has a hard time just flying by the seat of my pants. I need to have everything organized. I need to know what's going on all the time. Call it OCD. Call it a character flaw. I call it a necessity.

So the make up of the homeschool kids are this: 5 kids between the ages of 6 and 12, and they are all on different learning levels. There are certain things they can do by themselves, but I have found that if I leave too much to their own doing, it either doesn't get done at all (Jack) or gets done totally wrong (Josh). Justine is a new reader, and still needs so much of my time. And so even though I have homeschooled for years, I am still figuring out how to do it with 5 kids without feeling like I am leaving anything out. Or leaving anyone out. Or losing my freaking mind.

We have made a huge, very complicated spreadsheet split into 30 minute and hour long increments to include our new phonetic zoo spelling computer program, individual time, homework time, grammar, history, science, computer fun, reading etc. etc. etc.

I am organizing the educational computer games. I am working on getting things for Justine to be able to do while I'm working with the other kids. I am making file folder games for everyone. I am organizing flashcards and sight words. We are memorizing the countries of South and Central America. We are memorizing poems and bible verses.

I am tired.

This was our recess today.

I call it "jumping on the trampoline in the rain."

I totally planned it this way.

Cause that's just how good of an organizer and homeschool planner I am.



And we ended the break with a little yoga, meditation, and namaste.

Aren't they adorable?

So I let recess go on a little longer than planned just because sometimes you just have to choose between having deliciously happy kids and kids who know their 6's multiplication tables....

There's always tomorrow.

6,12,18,24,30,36,42,48,54,60,66,72...

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Perseids Meteror Shower



Remember that shooting star I told you about last week?

You know the one I told you about here?

Well I did a little research and found out it was a part of the Perseids Meteor Shower which occurs every summer.


This year, it peaked on August the 12th. We decided to go on a little field trip to see how many shooting stars we could see. It's the beauty of homeschooling. We can stay up all night watching meteor showers!

I knew we needed to get away from the city where the sky would be darker, but I wasn't sure where we were going to go. I innocently put on my facebook status that we were looking for somewhere out of town to go look at stars where we wouldn't get arrested for being in someone's yard in the middle of the night.

One of my co-workers commented right away that I could go to his house and watch from his front yard. Yes, facebook on iphones is prohibited at work, but I'm sure he was on a break... or lunch or something.

Anyway I googled his address. He's got one of those common names like John Smith, Dan Brown, Charles Wilson... but I find what I think has got to be his address. I put the address into Daphne (our GPS) and off we go. Thank God for technology.

We settle into the front yard of my co-worker and *quietly* get our sleeping bags into star gazing position. "Charlie", "Dan" or "John's" wife is asleep inside, so we are careful not to disturb her slumber. We can see the lights flicker on and off occasionally, assuming my friends wife must have a pea sized bladder or something, we don't really give it much thought.


Some of the kids scream, giggle and wrestle in the front yard... all jacked up on the Coke I let them drink to stay awake at 1am.

I get exhausted from saying "Sshhhh." "Lay down." "Quit it." "Settle down."


Some of them couldn't stay up this late even with a full pot of Ethiopian coffee...


The horses in the field next to our star gazing area were quite disturbed that we were there. They were neighing at us and pushing on the fence with their butts. I seriously could hear the fence cracking. I thought for sure they were going to stampede. Do horses stampede? I'm not sure, but I wasn't going to risk it. I considered sharing our M&M's with the horses, but wasn't sure what that might do to them. The kids were screaming and eventually Josh hid in the car. Sissy.

I sent a text message to a friend at work and asked him to tell "Charlie, Dan or John", that his horses were freaking out and they look like they want to hurt us.

The message I got back was quite unsettling.

"Um... He said he doesn't have any horses."

We quietly got our sleeping bags together, loaded up our stuff and got the heck out of not Charlie, Dan or John's front yard.
Oops.

All in all, we saw at least 30 shooting stars over the hour that we spent star gazing. I can't wait until November for the Leonids Meteor Shower. It was a magical night!
Here's a pic of the Perseids Meteor Shower that I didn't take, but think is absolutely beautiful.


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