Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mamoune's hair

Some of you may recall that this time last year Mamoune had a scalp infection which was slowly but surely destroying her hair. The picture below is kinda gross but it's good to see how far we've come. By the time the infection was cleared up, she had lost about 60% of her hair.

It was quite sad and she spent a very long time wearing various scarves, bandannas, etc. A few people thought I'd just become a lazy parent and didn't feel like braiding her up but this was not the case. There was the possibility that her hair was permanently damaged and would not even grow back. We watched anxiously and breathed a sigh of relief as new growth began to pop up. Once the new hair reached a uniform length we decided it was best to shave everything down to an inch so it could grow out together. I thought she looked great with the short do (pictured here). But let's face it people, little girls want to look like little girls. Mamoune was not so thrilled. It took a lot of encouragement and some help from Miss India.Arie's "I am Not My Hair" video to convince her that she could be proud of her new look.

And now, after much waiting, we decided that it was just long enough for a perm (that's a relaxer to straighten the hair for our Caucasian audience who know perms to be something used to curl hair =)). I had to remind Mamoune that the perm was not magic and she wouldn't suddenly have hair down to her ankles but that it would give her a little more length to style. We think it turned out pretty good. Nice and girly.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am a big, fat, loser...

with emphasis on the big, fat, loser! After handing out the verses on Monday and explaining the new snack system, Tuesday came. We had many errands to run -Home Depot, Pier 1, Walmart, etc. I blew it. We didn't get home from our shopping run until 4:15. No kids in the yard, no kids on the porch, no kids anywhere. ugh. Then Dylasia (11) comes from across the street with her brother Tivon (6) and reports that "some other kids were here waiting on you but they had to go home." double ugh.

I was feeling really crummy about things until yesterday, when the kids who had been so eagerly waiting for me (and heaping guilt on my head in so doing) showed up and acted like they had never heard of or seen the verse I gave them.

kid: Can I have a cookie?

me: Tell me the verse.

kid: What verse?

me: The verse I gave you two days ago and told you to memorize if you wanted a cookie.

kid: We s'pose to learn that?

me: uh, yeah, that was kinda the point.

There were some who received grace and "hints" to earn their snack for the day and others who not only didn't know the verse but had sorry attitudes to go with it and they got nothing. A guilt-free nothing! Maybe today will be better.

In other loser news, it's been brought to my attention over the past two weeks what a weirdo mom I am. Exhibit A:

While grocery shopping the week of Tim's absence, I noticed that the Chef Boyardee was on sale and thought that it would be an easy and nice change from our usual PB & J so I started grabbing cans. Nathan, Mamoune, and Isaiah begin jumping up and down and almost in unison say, "Mom, that's the stuff we've seen on TV!" I look at them in disbelief. Haven't I bought these before? It turns out -no, I haven't. I knew that I was careful not to load up on processed foods but what the heck? I lived off of Ravioli growing up. Even after Tim and I were married, I would eat them for lunch daily (throw some shredded cheese and a few jalapeno slices...mmm). Yet here I have deprived my children of this joy. No wonder they disobey -they aren't getting enough enriched macaroni product in their diet. Not to mention the disodium phosphate. I mean there's less than 2% in each serving and they aren't even getting that! Not anymore. Move over green beans, we are clearing a space for the Chef!

I wish that were the end of my confession but it gets worse. Oh yeah, brace yourselves!

Exhibit B:

On Tuesday's grocery run, I picked up 10 packets of that great American staple. The stuff kids in this country are grown on -Kool Aid. This time my food sheltered crew said, "What's that, Mom?" I couldn't even bring myself to answer them. How could I explain that I've robbed them all these years? How could I ever make up for their ignorance of red 40, yellow 5, and blue lake 7? A moment while I hang my head in shame. . . . .

As I was mixing this mystical potion of childhood years gone by, Mamoune screams to the boys "Come look! Mom's making water that looks like purple stuff." Purple stuff? sigh. There you have it. My soul laid bare before you. I am a disgrace to my breed.
I can't even look you all in the face. I type with my head turned.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Bible and Little Debbie Snack Cakes

I've come to a recent conclusion...I was not meant to be in children's ministry -apart from the four that live in this house and there are days I question even those. And yet, here I find myself in kid-central station.

My sweet, wonderful husband says to me, "it would be great if you can find a way to engage with all these children in the afternoons." This is close to the look I gave him only with less joking and more "you must be kidding me!" I thought easy for you to say since you're uh, NOT HERE!

I think he has an unrealistic view of my abilities. The truth is I crash everyday around four o'clock. (you will notice that this is being post just shortly before 4 -I'm on the descent even as I type) After trying to entertain, organize, home school, feed, and discipline four children for seven hours, my body goes into self-preservation mode. I hit the couch and turn on the previously mentioned reruns of Reba. It's my cheap version of a trip to the spa; mind-numbing, deep breathing, relaxation for 30 minutes. I can feel the blood boiling in my veins as child after child knocks on my door asking for water, snacks, potty, and sometimes just to stare at me like only someone who has never paid an electric bill could do. Those attributes of Christ in me :patience, joy, a serving heart are hard to identify at this point in the day.

But after some soul searching and brainstorming I came up with a plan that may work for all of us. Here is where Little Debbie comes in. The kids de-bus and begin gathering around 3:30 pm. Today, I printed off 15 copies of a simple Bible verse: "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice!" (yes, I needed that one as much as they do) I handed out the slips of paper along with an oatmeal cream pie -a freebie BUT not for long. Anyone who wants a snack at Mrs. Amie's house after school must say the pass phrase from memory. Each week the verse will change. Several of the kids got right to work, some won't take it seriously until they are watching their friends down a cream pie without them. Either way, I get to contribute something of value to the crew and in some small way feel justified while I enjoy 30 minutes of selfish zoning. oops, 3:59 -gotta go!


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bella Photo Favorites

First swim -thanks Roger and Elizabeth!
Before the dunk.

After the dunk.

July 4th picture by the "not so useless" photo shop master Michael Cook!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm A Survivor

I like Reba. Always have. Maybe it's just the red hair but I've liked her music and I like her TV show. I'm particularly fond of the character Van. He is a simple-minded goon -I can relate. Anyway, the point of all this was that we survived the week without Tim.

For those who didn't know, my hubby was away on a pastor's retreat from Sunday until Thursday afternoon. It was a bit traumatic considering we've been in a new house for only a week and were all getting acquainted with the new neighborhood and new sights and sounds. But we did it and it wasn't so bad...long, very long...but not bad. Lots of people were praying for us and it was obvious. Tim came home on Thursday and we were so glad to see him. I like him. A lot.

We are still putting the finishing touches on the new house and will be for the next year or so it seems. Mamoune's room got a paint job yesterday and all that's left are the hallways/laundry room. Some of the curtains are up, some have been made (thanks Deb Paradis) but are not hung and some are yet to be made (uh, Deb? =))

The school bus drops kids off right at the corner of our house and each day around 3:30 the craziness begins. Children of all shapes and sizes converge on our yard. It's great and challenging at the same time. So far, the regulars are Jayla, Zion, Trajin, Jivan, Cameron, Rakeem, Markeif, and John. I saved the hardest name for last. ha! It's been fun but we've had to lay down some ground rules to keep the chaos down. Rule #1 -nobody plays IN the house unless I meet their parent/guardian first. I've met two moms so far.

One of the best (recurring) moments is when a newcomer arrives and gets a first look at us. Adults are so well behaved and careful but kids, they just say what they think. "That's your mama?" "That's your daddy?" My kids hear this question almost daily. They don't seem phased by it. One little boy felt it was necessary to point out to us that "you don't look nuttin' like your kids". We were taken aback. Seriously? Do you guys think that, too? Well, unfortunately we haven't gotten around to hanging mirrors in the house so we can't confirm this information. ;-)

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Three AND 1/2 stooges...

The Three Stooges

Now that we've covered everyone's birthdays, I thought I'd put up some "over the years" photos of the crew just for fun. Despite a few fights here and there, I think they really do like each other. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Izzy's Big Day

I am a few days behind since we had no computer but Isaiah's birthday was on Wednesday. He's six years old which is at times hard to remember because of his size (he has a good 1/2 inch on his 8 year old siblings). Here's our sweet birthday boy's adoption story.

Isaiah joined the family in August of 2001. He was just three weeks old but a whopping 12 pounds of cheeks and hair. Seriously, it was a little scary. We've noticed how everyone who sees Bella comments on how beautiful she is -people didn't say that about Isaiah. I know, but it's the truth. He looked like a ninety year old black woman. No kidding. But he was ours and we were in love with him.

For the first year of his life he had creased ears because the fat of his cheeks kept them folded. I never got through a grocery store run without being stopped by at least one woman who just wanted to squeeze him. I was once playfully scolded by a nursery worker for not putting snapping pants on him. That was up until she realized this six month old was wearing 2 toddler clothes.

Izzy was the most content baby I'd ever seen. In fact, thanks in part to the two year old tornado called Nathan, some of Isaiah's infacy is a blur to me. He loved his bouncy chair and refused to be rocked to sleep. He wasn't much of a snuggler and still isn't but he's been our joyful boy and given us so many smiles and lots of entertainment.

You see, Isaiah is so big that his body doesn't always cooperate with him. He's very clumsy. There are times when we enjoy a good laugh at his expense. Like the times he falls off his chair for no apparent reason or runs completely into a wall. We can't help but chuckle and he is usually a good sport. He's definitely a "bull in a china shop" kinda kid. But he has an amazing servant's heart. The boy will work himself to death for anyone. He just loves to help. Isaiah is named after my grandfather (middle name) who also happened to be a hard worker.

Izzy has always been a bit of a show stopper even though he doesn't particularly care for the attention; but we are seeing more every day how he will also be a heart stopper. I can see the future in those brown eyes and my sweet boy with the big, beautiful smile is growing up to be so handsome.
If we can just teach him to give affection without causing bodily harm, there might be hope for the future Mrs. Isaiah Sexton.

Up and Running

At last, we are back on line. The house is coming together well -still a few walls to paint but almost all of the boxes are unpacked. We have met many of our neighbors and have averaged 9 to 12 children in the yard every afternoon. Here are few pictures of the work in progress:

Angela, the trim queen

Shelby, in the new uh, guest room.

Bella's contribution to moving day.

Queen Isabella is crawling everywhere and getting to know her new kingdom by tasting anything she can get her hands on. The boys are hoping for bunk beds to arrive soon and we are getting used to the new noises of "city life".

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Here we go again...

After sorting, packing, resorting, and repacking AGAIN, we are ready to move. We closed on a house in Wake Forest yesterday and the Uhaul is downstairs waiting to be stuffed. The house is almost completely painted inside thanks to the power force of Ben and Shelby McRoy, Frank and Angela Pribyl, and Amy Moon! The mastermind behind the color choices (an ingenious designer who shall remain nameless) was greatly pleased with the outcome. Pictures will come soon but here are a few of the expressions that were heard from those who have seen it:

"holy cow"
"whoa, this is fun!"
"you mean you chose these colors?"

Oh, ye of little faith! =) I can't wait to see the reaction of the guys coming to help us load up. And of course, we couldn't have accomplished so much without the help of the "wee watchers"; Louise, Frank and Angela, and Teri! THANK YOU!!!

Since we are transitioning yet again, we will be without computer access for a few days. Embarq tells us that we should be up and running again by Tuesday of next week. Let's hope that's true. We will post and put up pictures of this newest adventure at that time. Pray for safety through all of the lifting and traveling today and that we will get settled into a new groove soon!