As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2: 4-5

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Day 1

It is the first official day of summer break. Fifty five days until I have to report back to work. And so there are no excuses. No being too busy, though I likely will be busy. No not taking any pictures, though there are likely to be days when I don't. This is my pledge to you, my 9 readers (by the "followers" count...I know there are more of you out there). I will post EVERY day from now until the end of summer break. It still won't bring me up to 365 posts, the number that I pledged last year to post, but it's a start back in the right direction of regular posting.

I have other goals for the summer. Start exercising, get more organized, tackle the never ending laundry problem. So on this the very first day of summer, I have worked on each of these. I took a walk with the girls. I did several loads of laundry. And I organized.

I have started with Hannah and Charlotte's room. Hannah will be going to school in the fall, and we need to start fostering some independence and organizational skills so that she can be successful. And since she will not learn by example (obviously), it's going to have to be a concerted effort to do so.

Our first task was simple. Contain the Barbies. They are all over. ALL OVER. See?
(note the 6th from the left--the infamous Farrah Fawcett--who, by the way called Snow White a "loser" yesterday)

This was our solution. And Hannah loved it. For about an hour.
Next was the clothes. During the school year, there is no point in keeping them in their dressers. With 15-20 outfits going to Kay's each week, they pretty much went from washer to dryer to diaper bag to Kay's. Now that they will each be going only once a week, I moved all of the clean clothes back into their dressers, and then labeled Hannah's drawers for her--with pictures and words.

Hannah LOVED this, and showed everyone each of her drawers. And then, changed clothes about 14 times. I am hoping the newness wears off soon! This is one of her outfits that she was so proud to wear and I reluctantly let her wear to the store. Yeah...purple Halloween shirt with black bats on it paired with turquoise plaid ruffled skort and pink and white butterfly sandals. Thank goodness for uniforms, or who knows what she would be wearing to school!
And...that's about as far as we got.
Maddy did, however, pack for a camp she is going to in 2.5 weeks. Gotta love her enthusiasm. I think Hannah and Char want to go too!

So...every day. I can do this. Charlotte and Hannah do cute things every day. The big kids will have adventures and places to go. And really, I write about 5 blog posts in my head every day as I go about my day. It's just carving out the time. I am working this summer, though. Tutoring. Oh how I hate tutoring. BUT, as we are in "send Josh to college" mode, I will do what is necessary. I tutored one child at the very end of school. It was pleasant. One hour, after school, two days a week, $40. A little extra money, I thought. Hey...a pedicure. A magazine. Some new make up. Dinner on a night where I don't want to cook.
However, I ended up feeling like Al Bundy.
You know, where he sits on the couch and everyone comes by and takes a little bit of his money and in the end he has nothing? I kid you not. The mom would send in the money in the little girl's folder every Monday. By Monday afternoon at 3:00, it was gone. Every single bit of it. GONE. To the kids coming by saying that they needed money for a book, a birthday present, graduation, field trip, gas. To the school for graduation, uniforms, banquet fees, Spring Fling.
To my father...I get it now. And I humbly apologize. And stand in awe at the way you never complained about it--as I sit here and do now to all 9 of my readers.
And those of you who read and don't "follow?" It's just a push of a button...and I long to see double digits!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Check Up Time!

And no...once pictures. (Or diaper bag, or extra bottle, or anything else useful, for that matter, but I digress)

Charlotte and Hannah had their check ups today. It was Charlotte's 9 month check up, and it was pretty much par for the course. Her ear has cleared up which means the antibiotic is working, and she is 29 inches long (95%) and 19.4 pounds (90%). She's right on track developmentally and she got one shot.

For Hannah, it was a bit more climactic. For this was THE check up. THE check up that she had to have before she can be enrolled in school (eek!). She got to wear the cute little paper robe--which I have a picture of...on my phone, where it is destined to be for eternity since I can't figure out how to get it off. She is 40 pounds and 40 inches (exactly my measurements when I was in kindergarten...see, I was small at one time in my life). She is also a stubborn little boogar. She refused--yes, REFUSED--to do the hearing and vision tests also needed for pre-K enrollment. And if you know Hannah just a little bit, you know that you can't make her do anything without wailing and gnashing of teeth and a come to Jesus meeting which often results in sitting in the time out chair for many many 3 minute intervals at a time. So they didn't push it and gave us a provisional certificate, and told us to come back in the fall and try again. I think this can not bode well for her teacher. Start praying for her now!

Two more days of school left!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mommy Brain

This high chair? NOT for Hannah as I posted below. I assure you that 4 year old Hannah has been out of her high chair for about 2.5 years. It was indeed for Charlotte.
What was I thinking?????

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Various Stuff

This post is going to be a catch-all for all the various pictures that I've taken over the last week that really don't have enough meat to warrant their own. It's not been many, and the quality of the ones I did take is questionable. But, without further ado....

Hannah modeling for us the latest in pre-school couture...
And with big sister (whose skirt she borrowed for this "dress")
The LAST--for real, they tell us--Senior Event--the athletic awards ceremony. Here is Josh (he's the one walking across the stage to receive the award) receiving the Kingdom Athete Award for soccer. This award was given to the student athlete that exemplified a Christlike attitude and servant leadership while on the team. So so proud!

Hannah got a new high chair from Grandma. She'd been eating in her bouncy chair, which was getting increasingly too small, and this arrived yesterday as a surprise! It has elephants on it, so that it can be passed down to my sister's twins to be--Cole and Clare--when they are old enough!

And finally...Charlotte attended her first wedding today. Daryl's sister Donna's oldest, Stacey, married Casey in an outside ceremony by the pond. Everything was western themed from the all jean dress code (except the bride, who looked gorgeous in her dress and the handful of people--including me and little girls--who bucked the system and wore dresses) to the cowboy boots and cowboy hats to the multicolored sand they poured into a vase in place of a unity candle.
Daryl was in charge of the picture taking, as I had to leave with Charlotte.
And this is what we got.
The newest member of the Stone family: Grayson, born March 2
Hannah throwing rocks into the pond. She also caught teeny tiny little frogs and when I told her they were NOT going home with us, she threw them into the pond with equal abandon.
Yep...that's it. No bride, no groom. No cute pictures of Addison chasing Hannah around trying to hold her hand. No sweet pictures of Uncle Donald and Aunt Tricia holding Char. No picture of the girls in their matching ladybug dresses, looking adorable.
Three and a half days left of children at school and then some time off. Fingers crossed for a better picture taking/bogging week!

Graduation Day 2010

Graduation Day started with a bang at our house with the usual Sunday morning crazies. You know, too little time, too much to do, nothing to wear, kids to get dressed, and so on. Once we got to church, though, it was delightful.

Grandma and Grandpa joined us in church for a sweet service. Doug, our music director sang the song below, and dedicated it to our graduates. Watch this below...but's a tear jerker. I cried all the way through it in church and then a week later, just now, all over again. I dare you NOT to cry!

After church, we had a graduation luncheon at the church for all four of our graduates.

Josh and Grandma, in a rare picture opportunity

Charlotte spent time playing with Daddy's glasses...

And Grandma's cross

The cake

The graduates: Josh, Cree, Daniel, and Zach, who was graduating from college

Josh and his super cool graduation gift from Miss Dana. It's a cake made out of a styrofoam base covered with construction paper, and then rolled up dollar bills for candles!

Then we headed to the school, an hour early, to stake our place in line to get a seat. I knew we didn't want a seat real close because of the extremely real possibility of having to leave with Charlotte.
Here is Uncle Chip, Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Jason (with Cole and Clare in utero!) and Grandma.

Walking in. This was the only time during graduation I cried. Pomp and Circumstance just did me in! Doesn't he look happy?
Now below is where the picture of him receiving his diploma should be. However, the camera died momentarily right when he was walking across the stage, so you'll have to check out my facebook pictures for that (and yes, I tried to move it over here but it was teeny tiny)
So instead, you get the mortar board tossing!

After proud!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Question...

Lately, I've gotten people asking me the same question. In fact, I've gotten this question 5 times in the last 3 days: "Why don't you update your blog more often? You used to post every day."
I know, I know, I know. I enjoy updating the blog. It's a release. Part therapy, part honing my questionable craft as a writer, part bragging momma. happens. And so...without further ado, the reason I don't update more often.

4:00 am I am awoken by footsteps in the hall, and then by a door being thrown open. This is shortly followed by my sweet sweet Hannah crawling in bed with us. This is followed by endless wiggling, foot in the face, moaning and whining if I take up too much of "her pillow" so that I finally, in desperate need of sleep, take my pillows and put them at the foot of the bed and sleep upside down.

5:45 am My alarm goes off. Ugh. Sometimes, I wait until Daryl's alarm goes off for the first time to actually get up. More often than not, though, as I am laying there in the dark bemoaning the fact that it is morning, Charlotte's sweet babbling comes through the monitor, and I am up and at 'em.

5:45-6:45 am During this hour, I (deep breath)...get dressed, do my hair, do my make up, pack the girls' stuff, dress Hannah, get Hannah something to eat, find Hannah's shoes, feed Charlotte, change Charlotte, get Charlotte in her seat, sneak a snuggle in there, wake up Sarah, let Daisy and Little Phil out, wake up Maddy, let Sweet Pea out, pack my snacks for the day, make my breakfast, make sure Josh is up, gather my stuff, and head out the door.

7:15 am Arrive at school. If it is a Monday, I put my room back together. While my sweet girls and Jenny, the girl we take to school, put out my chairs and papers, I get ready for my day--make copies, answer e-mails, etc.

7:30 am Prayer meeting. A breather. A time to fellowship and a time to go to the Lord and release the stress that has already built up in my life.

7:45-2:45 Spend the day with 20 6 and 7 year olds. 14 boys. 6 girls. 30 minute break most days. I even eat lunch with them.

3:00-4:00 Tutor

4:00 Gather the girls, my work to take home, get things ready for tomorrow and race out the door to get the little girls.

4:30 Arrive at Kay Kay's, get the report on the girls, pack them and their stuff up in the car and drive home.

5:00 Arrive home, unpack the car, deposit Charlotte on her play mat or in the walker while I run downstairs to change clothes and start dinner.

5:00-6:00 Make dinner, clean up the morning mess, feed Charlotte, hold Charlotte, play with Charlotte in the Bumbo seat.

6:00 dinner...a sweet time of togetherness with my family.

6:30-7:30 Sarah bathes the girls and I get started on my school work that I have brought home. When Char is done, I dress and play with her until her bedtime. Put Char down for the night.

7:30-8:00 Get my clothes ready for the next day, have sweet time with Hannah.

8:00-10:00 Sit on couch, snuggle with Hannah til bedtime, watch TV, work on school work.

If I am lucky, I get some computer time, but that has been limited since my laptop broke.

10:00 Shower and remake bed (I know, I know...but I can't get in a messy bed) Fall into bed.
Read by flashlight for approximately 2.3 minutes before I fall asleep.

And this is on a good day. Add in there cheer practice, end of year banquets and awards ceremonies, AWANA's, PTO meetings, faculty meetings, and it throws a wrench into it all.

It's hectic. It's stressful. It's tiring, oh it's tiring. BUT...I love it. Not perhaps while I'm living it, and I haven't been home in 13 hours and I walk in to a messy house, or when I wake up late and have to dig clothes for the girls out of the laundry pile and everything I have makes me look fat, and maybe when I haven't seen my husband except for an hour or two at night in a week. BUT, I do love the reasons behind it. I would much rather be too busy with a life full of children than lonely with a clean house. And days like today, while really really really long, was really really really good. One of those days that makes it all worth it.

Worth the years of being tired, being stressed, being rushed. Because tonight, Josh graduated. I cried --of course. But so so proud.
And of course, in true Coleman/Stone fashion, the camera broke as Josh walked across the stage to get his diploma. So...I'll have to gather and post the pictures when I"m not so tired and a bit less weepy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation Week Continues...

I don't know whether this is an ELCA thing, but graduation activities have been going strong for the last two weeks. Senior awards, senior luncheon, senior skip day, senior activity day. And tomorrow, finally, is the big day. Graduation. My baby boy. A graduate. Done with kid stuff like high school and school uniforms, and ready to start the new chapter in his life. And I know this is the way that it is supposed to be. And that this was my job as his mother. That millions of mothers around the world are going through the very same thing about this time of year. But that doesn't mean it is easy. Or that I have to like it.

In a way, I've seen it coming. He's prepared me for it. And little by little, he's pulled away and spent more and more time away from home.

First with the the beginning, a night or two a month. Then as he started to drive and had his own car, he would come home later after school, after the game, after work. He'd drive himself to church and then leave from there to go and meet this friend or that...
Then it was the girl. And that meant every weekend night, and usually a week day night thrown in there too. When he turned 18 and spring sprung, he spent more and more time with her and
time with the friends, and we saw him less and less. And even though we didn't see him much, there was still comfort in the fact that he came home to sleep upstairs every night, and he stopped by my room at school every day.
But now there is this graduation thing. Which leads to college. And going away to college. And then moving out on his own. And then in with the girl. Which leads to a family and a life of his own. And I know that seems like I'm stretching it a bit--after all, he'll still come home tomorrow night after graduation, and the night after that, and the moving in with the girl part won't happen for a loooonng time. But I figure the first 18 years passed in a blink of the eye; how fast then will the next five?

I'd prefer to have him right here.
I'm not at all sure I'm ready for tomorrow night. But ready or not, here it comes!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

I know I complain a lot about the hardships and woes of being a mother. I know that my family doesn't always make it easy to keep a clean house. I know my darling husband leaves the ketchup bottle on the TV tray next to his recliner. But today, on Mother's Day, I take this opportunity to publicly apologize to them for ever bashing them on "the blog." Because today...they made up for spades!

This is what I woke up to this morning. (Actually, I woke up to Hannah's bottom in my face at around 4:00 am, but I digress) My sweet sweet husband got the kids together to make this bouquet of the prettiest flowers I have ever seen.

This handsome fellow had worked until midnight last night...a 14 hour shift...and still stayed up and painted a picture frame for me. AND made sure I didn't lift a finger today. Love him, love him, love him.

Sarah watched the little girls while I had my time in the sun and my time in the bed this afternoon. So so so thankful for both...and for her! Truth be told, she often does sweet things like this for me. She is truly precious!
And Maddy, be still my heart. Maddy surprised me with a special song she sang, "dedicated to her mom", at church. Made me and most of the old ladies cry. I am so thankful for her sweet sweet heart.
And this little one?
She made me(actually for herself) this apron in children's she could help me in the kitchen. Isn't she adorable?
And then gave me this picture in a frame, taken in Sunday school. This will forever be remembered as the "time she looked like we abused her." Note the lovely bruise across her cheek--from running to me at AWANA's and falling into the chair. The bruise along with the bangs in need of a good, professional trim (or at least by someone who can cut straight) make her look like a little orphan child...but she's still mighty cute!
And Charlotte...besides letting us sleep til 8:00 (after being up at 4:00 when Hannah's cries woke her up), just brightened my day with all of her sweetness.

I am a woman truly blessed. I have a wonderful husband that takes the time and initiative each year to make sure this day is special for me and I have kids who love me much more than I deserve. Despite the mess and the noise, the driving back and forth all the time, the endless supply of dishes and laundry, ...I realized that I am blessed beyond measure and I am so very very thankful for each of them.
I am also thankful that after nearly two months, I have finally broken my plateau. By doing the Daryl diet. The stay strictly on plan during the week and eat what I want on the weekend plan. Finally, the scale moved. I'm no down a total of 24 pounds since I started and a grand total of 63 pounds since Charlotte was born. I know that once school is out that I will have to stop the Daryl diet and go back to strictly Weight Watchers, as I will lose my routine. But I also hope to start exercising once I have time to breathe!
Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mother, my fabulous mother-in-laws, and all my mommy friends and relatives!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Senior Awards Night

Ah, yes, another senior event. The senior awards banquet. Everyone was encouraged to wear their finest and come and celebrate the seniors and their accomplishments.

Josh and Maranda before the ceremony. Don't they make a great looking couple?

Josh and his "senior mom," Gloria Davis. Each staff member at school "adopts" a senior for the year and encourages them, prays for them, gets them little stuff for their birthday, etc. Josh was good friends with her son, who graduated last year, and she and Daryl were friends when they were both younger. Such a neat coincidence, I think!

Josh and his favorite teacher, his AP teacher, Mr. Teague.
Getting his gold cord for being an honor student. This was given to all who maintained a 90% average or above for high school. So proud!
After receiving his ELCA senior plaque and his "alumni" gift! The principal got up and spoke about each and every one of the 80 graduates, listing their accomplishments, their college acceptances, and their future plans. A great benefit of going to a smaller school! It was very impressive to me to see that all but two were going on to college!

It was a bittersweet night for us. Sweet to see our first born, who we think is an amazing young man, being recognized by others. Bitter, in that they are recognizing because his time at ELCA is over. At the end, they called all the seniors up to the front of the auditorium to kneel at the base of the stage, and then all the parents to come up and stand behind them, and we all prayed together. Such a touching, fitting moment. And I would be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear or two.
This lovely night was billed as a night for the whole family. Evidently, they weren't aware of our family dynamic--HA! Charlotte and Hannah were cute as a button...dressed in matching ladybug dresses from sweet Aunt Tricia. However, sitting and being quiet for long period of time is not their idea of fun. Charlotte was happy, but loud, babbling constantly. Hannah was happy, but wanting to run up and down the aisles. Not to mention that I was the ONLY one there with a stroller, or a four year old...or both! Such a weird place to be, honestly. The parents of our big kids' friends are our age, but only have big kids. The parents of kids the little girls' ages are so young.
But I wouldn't trade it for anything....even through all the frustration, the walking the babbling baby for hours during ceremonies and services, the big ol' giant hassle it is taking them anywhere.
Especially when I come into the room and am greeted by this!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

AWANA Awards Cook-Out

Since she was an itty bitty baby...actually, since I found out I was pregnant with her...I have been looking forward to her first "program." I imagined her up on the stage, singing away like she does at home, smile on her face, cuteness exuding from her pores.

So today was the big day. The end of the year (yay!) AWANA awards cook-out. And the cubbies were going to put on a little program. AND...I brought my camera! I couldn't wait. So....without further ado...

Here they are lining up, getting ready. Yeah...that tall handsome newly skinny guy? My wonderful husband and devoted daddy. She wouldn't line up by herself.

Then it was time to recite the verses that they had been working on all year. We had practiced it at home. In the car. She knew it. And all of the other cubbies (4 out of 5 of them who do not even speak English as their first language and knew hardly anyone there) said theirs perfectly. Hannah? See the picture below.
But she did stand next to Daryl and slightly move her lips to their song (which we have sung ad nauseum at home).
And again, when she got her certificate...sigh.

But least someone was smiling!!!

Can you spot the real graduate????

She's cute, dirty face and all,....but nope...not her!
She looks mighty cute too, but not her either...
And this one...her time will be here soon enough :(

Must be this handsome fella. I can't believe it's only 11 days away!