Monday, April 21, 2008

Gone Away

Our opportunity came for a trip away, thanks to a week of lodging and babysitting from my parents and cheap tickets made possible with frequent flyer points. We are enjoying a week in the southeast to refresh, rest, reconnect and finish a complete conversation without interruptions, though we surely do miss our children. This is our first real getaway in almost 6 years so we're excited to enjoy the week together. I'll be checking in again sometime next week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chaotic Living

Warning: random post ahead!

Our household and family life has reached a new level of chaos this week and I'm realizing that with each passing year I am getting worse (or "worser" as Sportster would say) at multi-tasking. It really hit me last night as I was trying to finish painting the kitchen while my kids were eating a combination of cereal, chips and guac and leftovers for dinner, looking around to see no clear surfaces anywhere, floor included, and looking at the clock to see that I was supposed to be arriving at a function in one hour and the children still needed to be bathed and put to bed. The real or imagined to-do list for the week looked something like this on Monday.
- shop. shop. shop. for more stuff for the house, I'm not used to so much shopping and it is actually getting old
- paint the kitchen
- make and deliver meals to two families
- uncover the kitchen island which has become the dumping ground for almost everything while I focus on painting and procuring decorative items
- go to Bible study with salad, children and children's lunches in hand and hopefully with a smile on my face
- send out thank you cards (why am I so bad at correspondence?!)
- go to the Y at least once so the childcare workers won't forget the names of my kids by the next time we get around to going
- pack for an upcoming trip for the whole family, I mean pack for the whole family even though children and parents will be enjoying a vacation at separate destinations
- order and wrap some last-minute birthday presents
- gather up and tally receipts and balance the budget
- assemble and send birthday invitations for an upcoming party
- find the floor of my laundry room
- deal with child tantrums without throwing ones myself
- call a friend to wish her happy birthday, two days late
- open the door to a decorator and realtor and try not to feel shame about the aforementioned kitchen island (and many other areas of the house, too)
- show care and compassion to my ill husband
- feed my kids
- clear clutter at large...

...and I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of it in my overloaded, scatter-brained state of being. Thankfully, about half of the items above have seen substantial progress in the last two days. The house is, in some ways, looking better today than it has in the more than 4 years we have lived here. More on that later. Right now I'm just hoping to finish the week strong and sane. And here's hoping I will return from vacation with a new sense of purpose, direction and routine to accomplish the mundane and marvelous in everyday living.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I've Got Mail!

I have been really spoiled in the last two weeks with wonderful packages from all over blogland! Each one is a real treat!
The first came from Alex at Soapalaya Soaps from a naming contest I participated in over at Keeper of the Home. Stephanie has a beautiful new natural living website and writes from an area I used to call home! I can't even describe the wonderful scent I experienced before I even opened the mailbox. Bliss! The fragrant package was filled with all sorts of natural and handmade goodies: soap bar, shampoo bar, lip balm, laundry detergent, facial cleansing mask, detox bath soak and more! Thanks, Alex and Stephanie! The second package came from The Homespun Heart for a drawing she had for participants of Spring Clean 2008. This package was the icing on the cake for the results I saw in our home from that challenge! Monica put together a wonderful package filled with fun, fun things including a handmade green dot purse (love it! love it!), a yellow gingham apron, a Gooseberry Patch Crockery Cooking cookbooklet, a hand-knitted dishcloth, a bit of Satin Hands treatment, and some Pledge Dusters, along with a cute little card that she made with one of her signature envelopes. It was such a treat to receive something from Monica whose blog inspires me daily.
And the third package from a new-to-me blogger whom I found through a comment she left on a friend's blog. Jenny at Frugal Vegcafe sent a great package loaded with fun things for spring: blackcurrant tea, gardening gloves, tea lights and tea light holders, napkins and napkin rings, chocolate orange cookies, handmade note cards and lavender bath salts.
Thanks to all the the above ladies for their generosity! These packages have been an encouragement to me in these last couple weeks as we have been without a second car. Checking mail every afternoon is an event to look forward to, especially now that I am home oh-so-much!

Look for a giveaway coming here soon! Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One Car Living

Last week we sold our van to begin the process of replacing it. With 195K miles, 12 years and a multitude of quirks and issues, we decided it was best to part ways before we could no longer sell it for a dime. If you are wondering, yes, we did disclose all these maladies to the person who purchased it and he was apparently not afraid to take on those concerns. He seemed like he might be handy with cars and willing to fix some major things.

We've been saving for a replacement for a while now and have nearly reached our goal, but as we watch and wait on eBay, Craigs List and AutoTrader, we are left with only one vehicle, that being an older CRV, which is a tight fit for five people. We live far from my husband's work so a drop-off and pick-up plan wouldn't be very easy or economical for us. Bus service around our neighborhood is nearly non-existent and would not get my husband to work in a timely manner and there are no stores within walking distance of our home, at least with three young children in tow. So, in the meantime we are coping with the situation with the following tactics.
- My husband is catching a ride with some friends 1-2 times a week so the kids and I can have the car to go to Bible study and scheduled appointments.
- We are consolidating errands and my husband is taking care of some on his way to or from work. I am also able to go out alone in the evening or on weekends for some errands.
- I am focusing more on our home and on our meals with the added potential to accomplish things around here since I am home much more.
- For this season, my work outs at the Y have come to a grinding halt, though I am hoping to get exercise by taking the kids for walks around the neighborhood.
- Looking on the bright side - less opportunities for shopping mean we don't spend as much, one car instead of two uses less gas, more time at home means some things that have been put off for far too long are getting started and maybe even finished.

Even so, I'm really looking forward to the freedom and flexibility that comes with having two cars again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Autism Awareness Month - Please Join in Prayer

Below is an e-mail I received from my sister recently. I thought about writing something on Autism Awareness Month with the prayer link you'll see below, but I think the words she writes are much more powerful and give a greater insight into the experience of a family living with the reality of an autistic family member. My six-year-old nephew Seth is autistic.

My sister's e-mail is below.

Dear family & friends,

I'm writing to thank you for all the prayers you've offered for Seth & our family over the past few years. I am confident that the prayers of God's people have carried us through the many challenging days of life with autism. April is Autism Awareness month and with this approaching I've had many emails arrive in my inbox with various programs and activities that will take place in observance of this focus in the coming month. The link below was attached to one such email that especially touched me with the focus on prayer for autism in the month of April. At this site you can print an April Prayer Thrust Calendar that gives specific areas for prayer for each day of the month. I receive daily devotionals from this ministry that have been a great encouragement to me and we would welcome you joining us in "Turning the Tide, A Prayer Thrust for Autism Awareness Month". The link is here.

Seth's progress continues to be slow, but we are working with a new doctor and are hopeful that this new relationship will help us get Seth further down the road. Tomorrow I travel to the doctor with Seth for his 2nd appointment with the new doctor. We've started 2 new biomedical treatments with this new doctor, but have several more to investigate and try. He continues with his in-home therapy program and speech and occupation therapy totaling about 25 hours a week, along with his homeschool lessons with me. He now has an assitive communication device (small, touchpanel computer that speaks for him), which he enjoys and uses quite a lot. His head banging and teeth grinding continue along with mild-moderate tantrums, depending on the day or week. We pray for God's intervention into Seth's life to bring healing, and recognize that ultimately God is the only One who can bring this about in his life.

Even though that report sounds a bit bleak, we are doing pretty well as a family. I think we've adjusted to the additional stress that autism brings to our lives and are able to have fun and joy in the midst as much as most "normal" families are able to. Life with kids is stressful for everyone, this is just a fact of life. Our two older children continue to enjoy school and are usually a big help with Seth, for this we are so thankful. We hope this email finds all of you doing well and trusting God for all you need. We covet your continued prayers and invite you to join us for this month of prayer. I'm sure we are not the only family you know dealing with this terrible disease; my heart and prayers go out to the families that don't have faith to carry them through this journey. Indeed families and children all over the world who are facing this challenge are in need of prayer. Thanks again for your prayers.

If you are so led, please join in praying and utilize the link above to learn more about the prayer needs of autistic children and their families. And please do pray for Seth, my sister and brother-in-law and their other children. They are on a hard, hard road and this disease has brought them great emotional, physical and financial stress. I know my sister will be encouraged by knowing that you are praying.

Sister, be encouraged today, knowing that your love and labor on Seth's behalf is not in vain! You're doing a great job and the way you love and serve Seth is such a testimony!