The Doctor is in. Just not THAT kind of doctor.

Many, Many, years ago, our alma mater contacted alumni explaining their new masters program, with an option to do it traditionally, online, or over the summers.  Looking into it, Keith decided it was the right time for him to earn his masters degree.  The university, (college, at the time) had a plan, a perfect plan for a family man.  (or woman, it just rhymed) It would be 3 summers of intensive classes, with the bonus that the students could bring their families along.  With their dorm suites, families could be together for the 4 week classes, still working on their degree with the bonus of having family close. They would house the family, offer a meal plan, kids programs, the pool was open from noon until 9 at night.  It was perfect.  Our greatest friendship was formed those summers, and it is something we look back with great joy and fond memories.  He finished his masters degree, with highest honors, 2 new children were born during those summers of classes, at graduation time I snuggled a new baby E, sitting next to the former college (at the time) president.  I was so proud of him!  He had worked hard, was again proven to be a great learner, and an excellent student.  We were able to visit with some of our closest friends during graduation, as a bonus the family he lived with for 3 months of student teaching, came down to celebrate his accomplishments with us.

Keith discovered that he was not yet finished learning, with encouragement, he began looking into doctorate programs.  It all started because UofM (University of Michigan) sent him a some mail about their doctorate programs.  He looked into getting his degree from there, which would have been a dream come true.  He was encouraged by our school headmaster to keep searching, and to keep learning.

Early in 2013 He made a decision to earn his doctorate from a University out west.  Starting the program the same time it was discovered I had 2 small spots in my breast, and a tumor on my brain was going to challenge us.  Those spots, now gone, and the tumor still there, just shrunken, were not what ended up slowing him down, nope it was the surprise of #7.  She slowed him down, you remember the pregnancy was risky, and she was too early.  He took some time off from the program, while we waited for things to calm down.  in 2014, as he was getting ready to resume their classes another University (a local one) came to him asking him to be in the first Education Doctorate graduating class.  This opportunity came at the right time, he resumed classes at the local university.  They had a few intense summer classes, which was perfect, he would still be home at night, albeit super late at night, but he came home.  What seems like forever and a minute later, he began his dissertation, and the process of research, writing, editing, research, writing, editing, began.  It took him months of planning, research, writing and editing to complete his paper (book) and plan to defend his work.  He scheduled his defense and began planning, spending hours with his computer, and meeting with his advisor (the blessing of his University being local, not out west.)  Until he came out of the back of the house with a declaration, “I know what I am going to say”   He had a plan, he had a small book, and an appointment to defend his dissertation.  We were invited to listen to him defend his research.  It was on project based learning.  It was interesting and fascinating.  After he was finished we were led outside while he met with his team.  His fan club included most of our family, A and PS were not included, they would not have been interested, C was actually in Paris, for work at the time, and unable to make it.  His parents and sister, my mom, a few of his doctorate classmates and a few of his professors.  They discussed and questioned, asked for more information, encouraged him and he passed.  I knew he would.  I am so proudThe new Doctor, could not even celebrate, he had to go back to work.  (just in time for a medical emergency)

At our school, during the graduation ceremony, the faculty and staff march in first during the ceremony.  He and the headmaster lead the way.  I was too far from him to get the entrance picture, but my friend (the friendship that was formed during the masters classes so many years ago) sent me this pictures.  She said he looked like a preacher in this one, it might be one of my favorites from that night.

Dr Keith Overholt.
DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION AND ORGANIZATIONAL ADMINISTRATION
We are so proud.  We celebrated him just a few days ago with an open house.  It was a small party, with the friends and family who encouraged him along the way.

We have been discussing the end of his education, when he mentioned he might want to go farther, I was excited from him, he just is that smart, but I am ready for a little break.  I think I convinced him to give it a year or so before he goes for more.

GO hug your kids, they need the love and tell someone you love them
jen

Empty Cereal Boxes, and Who Puts Them Away?

Does this happen at your house or only mine?
Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine, she was getting ready to leave on a field trip, and was commenting on how all she packed for lunch was a yogurt, because her people in her house had finished off the bread, but no one mentioned it to her.  So lunch for a field trip was yogurt…  I laughed with her telling her she was not alone.  We laughed about sips of milk left in cartons and juice bottles with only drips, left in the refrigerator for someone else to put into the recycling bin.  She said they cleaned the pantry and had about 20 boxes of cereal with enough for a small bowl left in the bottom.  Her question was “Who does that?”  I laughed in agreement.
She left for her field trip, I returned home to clean up before the satellite repair guy showed up.  I was putting away the lunch mess, and noticed the APPLE JACKS box on the table.  When I picked it up the box felt very light, almost too light…  I pulled the bag out.And this is what I found, an almost empty bag inside the box.  I texted the picture to my friend, with the words…  “My house is the same as yours.”

Earlier when I went to the pantry to put away the peanut butter, I noticed an OXO container about half full of APPLE JACKS already in there…  Yet we had an open box on the table with only a small amount in it.  I went to the pantry and took out an OXO container to put that left over cereal in, but as was pulling it out I noticed another box of APPLE JACKS that looked open.Sure enough it was already opened…  So I sent this picture to my friend. “My people are awesome!”

Upon further inspection I found THIS.Also FROSTED FLAKES

I organized the cereals and finished cleaning up the lunch mess (jelly smeared on the counter) and went about cleaning the house while I waited for the satellite repair guy. 4 hours later, just as the estimated time was ending he showed up.  (Exactly as expected)

I even forgot about the almost empty cereal boxes, until night-time,
I wanted a glass of chocolate milk. I went to pour myself a tall glass of cold milk, only to get this much out of the carton.  I texted this to to my friend, “Nah, I’m not that thirsty for milk. Just a little sip please.”  All she did was laugh back at me.

For real.

We have a chalk board wall to list things on that they use up.  Right now it has razor refills, ginger ale, shaving cream, garbage bags, cookies, and deodorant, in many different hand writings. I guess some think ‘if I don’t finish it I don’t have to put it on the wall or walk all the way outside to the recycle bin to throw out the carton or box’

So are we alone?  Does this happen at your house too?  Will it ever end?  I know why it happens, they are children, and just don’t think about it, but tell me they out grow it?  Neither my friend or myself remember doing it as a child…  (I guess we should ask our mothers to be sure)

Go hug your kids, they need your love, and check the milk carton before you head out to the grocery store.
jen

Why My Kitchen is a Mess (or any other room to be exact)

Most of you who have been following for a while, know that we have remodeled most of the house, room by room we have ripped off popcorn ceiling tiles, torn out bathrooms, fallen through the hallway ceiling, added on, pushed out, gone back to the front again, and freshly tiled the fire-place…  I have a list of what needs to be done next.  Lucky Keith.

When we added the back half of the house we were told we had 10 years to get the siding changed out on the house to match the addition.  Well, we were given the occupancy of residency about 3 weeks before little A was born, she is now 7 (seven and a half to be almost exact)  We officially have 2 and a half years left.

We flew O home for the Easter weekend.  She had days off, but we needed a way to convince Keith to fly her home when she only has 3 weeks left at the university.  We had days off and she is a great worker with Keith, the weather is not roasting hot yet, and the sun is just far enough south that most of the job would be in the shade.  But mostly because it was not going to be a billion degrees that weekend.  We flew her down to work, and to spend time with her.  But work.  Friday they worked pulling off plastic siding, pulling out rodent nests, and showering in termite fras, they finished the first floor outside before we went to the Good Friday Service at church.  Saturday early until late they worked, the fireplace with the bees hive (empty) had to be removed, half way into the 2nd floor they had to quit, and finally on Sunday night they came to a stopping point.  The next few weeks are slammed as school ends so they will not be able to work for a good long while.

Monday somehow got away from me.  I had lots of stops and starts, we were out of toilet paper.  Sunday night we started running the 1 roll we had left from bathroom to bathroom…  A trip to target was unavoidable.  Hours later and blown budget we came home to lunch, when the phone calls started E had been feeling badly and needed to come home, we had already tried the tricks and nothing was helping.  J has had some breathing issues, allergies, topped with debris and termite fras (poop) raining down on him while he helped work on the north side of the house, he just could not stop coughing and needed to come home.  Once home O and I sat around watching C.O.P.S. (she gets a sick thrill when bad guys get the taser) we had planned on watching a movie, but with runs to school and no napping from PS we gave up.  School ended and we ALL went to Sam’s club.  In and Out and Under budget it was a win…   Dinner, homework, baths and bed.

Which leads to today.  I went to Bible Study and O stayed home doing homework.  When she first arrived we took lunch to 2 of the school kids, so today we took lunch to the other 2, she was going to be leaving Tuesday night for the last few weeks of the University, it had to be done today.  After lunches we came home, and after lunches I tried to clean up, I really did. I did not know it would not happen…  Because the kitchen is on the north wall where the construction is happening, and Keith was replacing 2 windows in the dining room, and 2 in the kitchen everything from that area had to be moved to the island counter, which was already a mess, now became a huge mess.  I had dirty dishes, and dirty dishes, dirty counter dirty floor,even dirty drawers, and everything piled together.  I had 1 clean counter where all meal prep had happened, the last few days.  I tried to get things taken care of, PS did not take a nap, I needed to run to get stuff for dinner in the car, and time was not on my side, washing another counter top and a few big dishes we left for the airport.

Tonight after we returned home the house stayed messy.  PS fell on the brick walkway as she raced into the house, I carried her in and set her on the table, chasing little A to the shower E took over caring for PS.  She scraped her knee scratching the skin off leaving a little blood mixed with the dirt, it is red, and sore, E brought her a freezie pack and a blanket.  While A was taking a shower I flipped over the laundry, went into my bath room and found more rodent droppings (more on that in another post) and began pulling laundry to throw in another load before I crashed for the night.   PS cried for me, I went to check on her,  E came back in to her rescue to draw pictures for her.  PS cried about the vacuum that is in the kitchen, (it was not even plugged in) I dumped in the laundry load and went to wash little A’s hair soaking myself in the process, changing into pajamas.  PS was content with E’s care, little A was done with the water, washer machine was humming along, I thought I could sneak in a few dishes while little A was getting ready for bed, E was with PS, I washed 3 pans before soaking myself, changing pajamas again, little A brought me her homework (a money worksheet) I sent her to the table and tried to wash another pot.  I forgot about little A sitting at the table, PS came out to the kitchen dragging her clean blanket on my dirty floor, crying about her knee.  E picked her up and had her nose knocked in the process.  Her nose hurt, PS’s knee hurt, and Little A needed to get her homework done.  PS settled into the chair next to me and began to chant Miss Mary Mack all dressed in black with silver buttons…  while I sat at the table to help little A add money.  E began unloading the dishwasher and dropped a glass in the dishwasher and on the floor.  I stopped listening to Miss Mary Mack, and the number of pennies it takes to make a quarter to carry E out of the kitchen and began sweeping/picking up glass.  Little A wanted to show me her math paper, I finished counting pennies to make a quarter, signed an assignment tablet, supplied ice water for little A, sent her upstairs.  I carried PS to my bed to wait for me, where she burst into tears asking where I was going (she {we} are suffering from separation anxiety…) E came down needing water, I had to make it since I only got some of the glass cleaned up.  Thirty minutes later everyone is in bed, no one is crying, pajamas and prayers, water and kisses…  That is why my kitchen, and my house are messy.

My life is filled with starts and stops.  Some days more stops than starts.  But that is okay, I am just where I need to be.  Well right now I am sitting in bed snuggling with the poor baby and her skinned knee.  But in all honesty I want the kitchen to be cleaned, but it can wait.  I choose my people over the kitchen, I choose my people over the broken glass {which I need to clean up soon}  I choose the stops because I choose my children.  One day I will follow a load of laundry from the basket to the dresser, I will follow the dishes from the cupboard, to the table, to the dish washer and back to the cupboard.  But not today, or tomorrow or any time soon.  I am going to stop when Number 1 child calls, I am going to stop when O has a color question, an art question, I am going to stop when R needs some human conversation after spending hours doing homework.  I choose to stop when J wants to visit, I am going to stop when E wants to be with me,  I am going to listen to little A read or count pennies, I am going to carry the baby and do hand slap games because I choose to stop.  I want to stop, and sometimes I needed to be reminded that stops are more important than starts. When I see my kitchen, the construction dust in my dining room, and the dirty floors it is easy to be overwhelmed and discontent.  I need to be reminded that I live in the stops right now.

Living in the stops, go hug your kids and tell someone you love them
jen

Valentine Hearts, and Paper Valentines

img_6266Today is Valentines day.
Happy I love someone day!
Tomorrow is Happy 50%off candy at Target day.

Towards the end of January one of my friends posted a picture on Facebook, it was a door covered in hearts, each heart had something written on it.  It was cute and home-made, and full of kindness, all things I love.  So I decided to take it and make it mine.  I was going to cut hearts, but after doing the mental math I decided I was just too lazy to make 84 different hearts, so instead, I bought a few packs of pre-made hearts from my favorite store ever.  Hobby Lobby, I lose all restraint when I go into Hob’lob, and much like Oprah, “you get a car, and you get a car…”  I walk through the store, “you get in my cart, and you get in my cart.”  Seriously I cannot contain myself!

When I got home from my rather small spending spree I sat down and wrote out things I love about my family.  I was afraid it would be difficult and time-consuming but once I sat down the traits and ideas just came out.  I could not write fast enough.
I love your new smile
You are an excellent reader
You are an extraordinary dishwasher loader
You make me laugh
You work very hard on your grades
You play your instrument well, your practice shows
You have very pretty hair
You are becoming a Godly leader
I love to listen to your stories
You pick up shoes like a big girl
You seek justice
I love you
will you be my valentine…
You get the idea, some things were big things, character and other things were appearance, and appreciation.  It was fun to do.    I contemplated doing the big kids, (more on those changes later) but I would have to mail them, and I did not know if they would want all those paper hearts… (if they read this let me know I can send them to you)  I was going to put a heart on each night, I often ended up doing 2 at a time, simply because I would remember when I was already snuggled into my bed.img_6274R’s Door,  img_6275J’s door img_6276E and A’s stairway
(notice the things at the top of the stairs, the JBF sale is coming soon!)img_6264Keith’s hearts made it to our closet, because I put PS’s hearts on our bedroom door.img_6267Each set of hearts was ended with Be My Valentine.  I want my family to know they will forever have my heart.

Paper Valentines.
While I don’t agree with every child getting a trophy, or some school systems removing the honor roll for fear of hurt feelings I do embrace the valentine card for everyone.  We can look back on our childhood and either remember being left out of someones lick’em’stick’em tattoo valentine or (wanting to) leaving someone out of our puffy sticker valentines.  And we all know that kindness counts, leaving someone out is just hurtful.  Each weekly folder before valentine comes home with a class list.  Because I had a moment of clear headedness I purchased school valentines in early January (actually when I was taking O back to the University)  Whoo-hoo I was ready, I even knew where they were, yesterday, after wrapping valentine boxes (empty cereal and cracker boxes) I sat down with the girlies, and we made the cute little eraser valentines from Target (Why does my cart get so full there???)  E had bumble bee ones and A had cat ones.  The set included glue dots, you just put the bee or face on the card, sign your name and you are good to go.  Because A is in 1st grade and writes L A R G E like a 1st grader I signed all her cards for her (and honestly if I let her do it I would be spending more time redirecting her than it would take for me to knock them out myself)  The girls left for basketball practice and I cleaned up our mess.  I put all of Little A’s valentines in a large zipper baggie and left them out for her to take in the morning.  Our morning rush to get out the door, R was leading little A along and she paused to admire her cards, she stopped short in her tacks and said, “mom did these wrong,” R asked “in what way?”  A sweetly replied “they are addressed to MY FRIEND, but not all the kids in my class are my friends.”  R warned her “you don’t need to tell them they are not your friend”  She reasoned with him “oh they are going to know”img_6272To:my friend
From: A
p.s. you are not really my friend…

So IF your child is in my little A’s class and she tells your child that they are NOT REALLY ‘my friend’ I am so sorry, we will now be working on telling the truth in love, and not all truths need to be shared.

Happy Valentines day, go hug someone you love, I was once again reminded how short life really is, and if you don’t get that hug in, or that I LOVE YOU in, it might be your last chance.
jen

Today He Leaves, and My Heart Hurts

Today is the big day.
Departure day.
The day I have dreaded more than any other parenting day I have ever experienced.  Today is the day my first-born leaves to be a forever adult.  Oh sure he is an adult.  He has been a practicing adult for a long time now, he finished his education, and he found a part-time job, actually 2 jobs while he finished his degree.  He looked for jobs in his dream city, set up interviews, and traveled up to that dream city.  He was hired.  He looked for an apartment, he filled out applications, and he secured the apartment.  He has been an acting adult for months/years now.

But today…  it is official.  He is leaving our family for his career, for his own life.  He is moving away and spreading his wings, or some such stupid crappy lines.  What in the world, he is not a bird.  He is my son.  I did not parent a bird, who has animal instincts I parented a human, he thinks, he feels, he reasons and he loves. He is passionate, and brave, he is smart and so very funny.  And today he is leaving our little lives to seek his own fortune, his own life, his own legacy.

We made a lot of mistakes with him.  He was our first child.  Our experiment, things like potty training and sleep training were easy.  Heart training not so much.  Getting him to settle down and be serious, teaching him to think of others first, showing him how to plan and be self driven, not always easy, but so very worth it.  We failed often but we loved more than we failed.  He taught us the things that are  important which has made us better parents to the other children.  He showed us first hand what toddler parenting, elementary parenting, middle school parenting, high school and college parenting looks like.  Now he has to train us in adult parenting.  Because I don’t know how to do that.

He makes me laugh, until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me angry until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me proud until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me sad until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me love until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

My dearest child,
I love you so much, I am so proud of the man you are, and the man you are becoming.  I want you to remember the fun we have had, the adventures we have gone on and the love we have for you.  I want you to know Jesus like we know him, I want you to succeed in life and learn from your mistakes.  I want you to form relationships with people who will stretch you, people who will make you a more compassionate and a gentler, more comfortable you.  I want you to go out and seek adventure, I want you to try new foods, explore new places, and learn new things.  I want you to sit quiet and watch people, I want you to find a way to serve in your community.  I am so proud of you, I loved watching you perform, and do the things you loved to do.  I see the relationship of big brother you have shown to your younger brothers and sisters.  I see the bond and I want you to keep it alive.  I have made mistakes parenting you, and I want you to know that I am sorry, and so thankful that we both grew as a result of those mistakes.  I want you to go out in that big dream you are experiencing and I want you to succeed.  I want people to see how smart you are, I want people to learn from you, I want you to learn from them.  I want you to experience all life has to offer, and I want you to remember that we are always here for you, we will always love you, so much more than you will ever know.  I want you to love, and be loved, I want you to succeed, and I want you to remember that we will always welcome you home.  I love you so very much my heart hurts, I am so thankful to be your mom, and so proud of you.  I want you to remember who you belong to.
I love you,
mom

So Please do me a favor, go tell someone you love them, call someone you love, tell them you love them, go hug your kids, read one more book, listen to one more joke, snuggle for one more minute.  Because one day you will watch them drive off with all their belongings and you will realize just how very fast time moves on.
go hug your kids, they need your love
jen

 

An Olive by any other name…

This last week it was a mom win meal night.  I was making nachos. What is not to like with nachos?  A whole meal piled on chips!

I had everything for the nachos except olives. The ground turkey was seasoned and simmering on the stove top, the beans were warming in the oven and the queso cheese bubbling away.  I had plump red tomatoes and a perfect avocado. (You all know how difficult it is to get a perfect one!  I had a perfect one.)  I realized I did not have black olives. So I sent Keith on a search for sliced black olives. He took the baby along with him. Now at this point I feel like I should say Keith is a very smart man, and he is quite skilled at many things, he goes to Publix, weekly for me but he does not like to go buy things that he normally does not buy. If it is new to him, he wants a specific name brand. So I gave him one. I even spelled it out to him.

They left and I proceeded to slice and dice.  Shortly after, he called a kid asking them about the olives. I spelled the name again. The kid repeated the message. I grumbled about how could he not find the can. Then as I was slicing the avocado with one of my new Christmas knives (thanks Kim) I took a huge slice in my thumb. Hilarity broke out as bandaids were searched then antibiotic cream while trying to clean and bandage my poor thumb with a heart beat, Keith called again. Then came a series of texts and pictures. As I stood being bandaged by R and C took away the sharp knife  I smartly said how can it be so hard?  I sighed at the time it took him, My sweet husband is ever so patient with me.  He texted me a picture asking if ‘these’ will work.  He could not find the brand I sent him for.  I was so wrong.  It was the brand I THOUGHT I sent him to get, only not at all what I actually told him, and S P E L L E D O U T F O R H I M…  img_5858I almost told him a red can but instead I told him a brand that does not exist in Olives…

When he came home  I apologized and hugged him. I showed him my bandage thumb and apologized for being so wrong and so confident.

Nachos for the win, non-existent black olives for the not win

What about you, ever been so confident and so wrong?
go hug your kids they need the love!
jen

We Survived Another Year of Christmas Card-slash-New Year Card Pictures

dsc_0012It is that time of year again Christmas Card Picture time, as you all know it was once again Keith’s favorite way to spend an evening.  He loves getting the pictures taken.  He loves to plans out outfits, and shops for new clothes, he likes to organizes schedules, he makes deals with a friend to come take our pictures.  He works so hard to make this a reality for us.

Okay…
so in reality, yes he is awesome, but he just barely tolerates these pictures.  He smiles and plays along, he does not complain, at least I have never heard him complain.  That is why he is awesome.

Getting schedules together was almost more difficult than getting coordinating clothing for everyone.  Well, actually, now that I am thinking it was more difficult getting schedules together.  C works, O was away at college, we had to wait for her to get home, for C to be off work and for R to have a night with out activities.

I went through the kids closets and realized that if we went with the red/black theme than the boys were the only ones needing new clothes.  On black Friday, I went shopping.  Not super early I just did not even care that much, and I only went to one store!  Score for easy shopping, and sales!  Belks had just what I needed.  After literally an hour and burning up my phone battery trying to find shirts everyone would agree on, and in the correct sizes C walked in the store.  He was a huge help since I was really struggling.  Now we all coordinated but no one “matched.”

We met at a lake downtown for our pictures, if you have read all my Christmas card posts, than you will recognize this background for pictures.  This used to be the old paddle boat rental area, the boats are long gone, years ago the city began to revitalize the down town, this area is beautiful and much safer than when I was a teen.

dsc_0035We tried for the organized family look.
But the darn tree was just too awkward and spacing was off…dsc_0041We tried the album cover.
Which I was a fan of but everyone was worried that PS was going to fall…dsc_0001We went back to the gate with the Christmas banner
but you can see how that worked…

We laughed and the boys made fun of me, We tried and tried but just were not feeling it that night.   Thankfully the friend who took the pictures works with college age students, she was not annoyed by the big kids who could not stop messing around.

After the sun started to set and we were about ready to give up THIS is what we ended up with.  I love it!  dsc_0055 When we were done getting the shot little A started to cry and asked NOT to be turned upside down anymore.

We did it, we survived another year of Christmas Card Chaos.  We lived to tell our story, I cannot imagine what next year will be like.

Go hug your kids, and take a minute to plan a family picture.  It is likely you have not done one in a long time, and life is just too short to miss the opportunity to make another family memory, and get another family picture.
jen