Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mighty Mug

I was recently approached by the folks at Mighty Mug about doing a review for their tip-resistant drinkware products.  Initially, my thought was, "But I have a water bottle that I like."  However, with a houseful of people, I figured we could always use another cup around here, so I decided to go for it.  

I'm so glad I did!  

Many of the products in the Mighty Mug lineup seem to be geared toward the coffee drinker or commuter, neither of which apply to me, so I decided to try the Mighty Mug Ice in purple.  This is more of a "tumbler" design, except the whole point of these products is that they do not fall over!  

I chose the purple, and shipping was super fast!  When I prewashed it, the kids were curious about my new cup, and we had a lot of fun setting it down and picking it straight up, or trying to slide it (good luck!) or tip it over.

Pretty soon, my Mighty Mug became a regular fixture on my desk.  What I discovered is that I use my other "water" bottle with tea packets, so I wasn't getting straight water.  The Mighty Mug has been a great way to keep water on my desk without worrying that one of the kids is going to knock it over.  The Smartgrip Technology keeps the cup in place when bumped, yet allows you to pick it up easily when you lift straight up.

Less spills?  Yes, please!  Mighty Mug Ice sells for $19.99 and also comes in blue.  The Mighty Mug team is working on getting barwear launched, as well.  Check out their Kickstarter Campaign!

You can connect with Mighty Mug on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

I'm Getting Old

My morning shower is a place where I psych myself up to face the day.  Amidst imaginary conversations with people who aren't there and bursts of song, I let the hot water wash away the stress and chaos of the prior day and equip me to start the new day fresh.

This morning, as I was about to shave my legs, I looked down and saw a squiggly line.  Assuming it was a hair from my head, I reached down to brush it away, not wanting it to get tangled in my razor.  Only to discover that line was not brown, but purple.  It was a vein.

Awesome.  My legs are getting ugly and my eyesight is going.

Bring on the day.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Our Week - Last Week of Summer

Tuesday night was high school orientation for Sam, Bri & Eli.  After they came home with all the syllabi for all their classes, we raided the school supplies bucket and got all 3 backpacks filled up for the first day, which will be Monday!

I ordered a pad last week for the changing table/dresser we were given, and it arrived on Saturday, so I made a flannel cover for it.

It seems to serve it's purpose well.  On the left in the pic above, you can see a little bit of the results of a little bit of "retail therapy" I did the day after Luke came home, since we got several pairs of shorts and a few s/s shirts back, but no church clothes or pajamas.

One of our small guests asking me to take the cardboard tag off one of the toys.

I raided Katie's drawers for some shorts, including these.  Fortunately, I buy the little girls' shorts in the boys department, since they are longer than girl shorts.  The panda shirt is one that got left behind in the laundry when Luke moved.

Paul took some time off work to help get Luke settled, finish the wall, and generally help out with all the little ones.

This gave me the chance to get out a couple times with the older kids.

Eli is still making planes.

We had a birthday this week!

Sam's been busy with football practice and such so it was nice to get a chance to celebrate him and all the humor he brings to our lives.

And how are things going with Lukey?  Well, his biggest change is that he transferred his ability to scoot himself around on his back, to being able to scoot himself around in a seated position.  This is huge, and encouraging.  He is scooting around touching stuff with the back of his hand, and seems "right at home" but of course we have no way of knowing what he remembers or doesn't.

I got a wee bit crazy this week and decided to let our Toddler Guests try painting for the first time.

It actually went better than I expected it to!  I gave their finished masterpieces to their Mama.

One night, I escaped for a little time out with my big boys.  Josiah got some driving time in, picking Sam up from football practice, and we went out for a pizza.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught their "Let me take a picture, and I'll give you quarters" faces.

Our Little Guests have been very accepting of Lukey.  They're a little curious about him, but they're pretty happy to have someone dropping food off the high chair that they can come along and discover later!  (unfortunately, I usually have to take it away, since they're gluten and dairy free)

A friend with small ones the same age as our Small Ones offered to watch them for a couple hours so Paul and I could have lunch out.  We had a nice, quiet lunch, where I didn't have to feed anybody but me, and nobody whined!

Afterwards, since we were in the neighborhood, he took me to see his new baby.  He headed up the apparatus committee for this ginormous fire truck that is being finished for his department.

Poor Wheelie!  He's getting old.  He looks at the baby gates and meows at us.  His former hiding place was Paul's office, which is now Luke's new bedroom... with a gate across the door to keep the Little Ones out of Paul's bookcases.

Made it into the sewing room a second time to come up with the hat and pants for a brand new baby I got to meet this week!

A tiny little bitty one!  I hope to get the matching shirt done in the next few days and give it to the new mama next time I see her.

Our Small Ones are at such a fun age, where they're learning new things all the time.  Recent accomplishments include picking up a couple new signs, and learning to say a couple new words.  We're working using forks now, and when we get the hang of that, I'm going to transition them from trays to the table with the rest of us.

Katie and I have been reading the continent book (affiliate link) over and over and over, in the hopes of giving her a basic idea of geography before we get going with school next week.

We managed to do another spelling lesson.  It's going to be interesting to try to fit in a full school day next week!

We also started a new book that we will be reviewing next month.

I printed the kids some Columbus crafts from a teacher worksheet website that we'll be reviewing, as well.

Jack and Hannah colored, cut, and assembled their bendy Columbus guys while I read them the first chapter of our book.

This was Hannah's first time doing brads by herself, and we had to tape poor Columbus a couple of times, but with a little help, she got it.

Jack is way more into the cookies Brianna baked than the craft Mom insisted on.

Whew!  Not as "summery" a summer as what I was hoping for, but ready or not, here comes school!  I'm looking forward to getting back to our school year routine, but I'm worried about getting everything done and taking care of Luke and the toddlers.  One day at a time, I guess!

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Guess Who's Home??

I know it seemed mean to leave you guys all hanging last week, but I was concerned the plan might change at the last minute.

Last Thursday, after returning home from taking our Little Guests to visit their mama, I sat down to read emails, and was stunned by one of them.  It was from A, the attorney handling Luke's adoption.  His new adoptive family did not want to finish the adoption.  Since their state requires 6 months for finalization, the process would not have been complete until October.  This meant that, although they had custody of him, as part of the paperwork that we signed, we're still his legal parents until that time.

 What I thought would be the final picture of the 4 of us together
April, 2015

Honestly, I was completely floored.  I so didn't see this coming.  His other mama had been sending us pictures from time to time, and hadn't indicated that there were any problems.

I emailed her to find out what the heck happened.  Ironically, the very thing that made me confident that their family would be perfect for Luke, ended up being what caused things to unravel.  I was sure that they could handle him, because they already have several kids with similar special needs, and are doing a great job with them.  Unfortunately, Luke's frequent and inconsolable screaming was causing problems for their kids with sensory issues.

Saying goodbye at their hotel, April 2015

I get it.  None of us here have sensory issues, and Luke's screaming made a huge impact on us.  I wanted to disrupt for the sake of my other children and our family as a whole--and so did she.  I totally understand.  That's not to say I'm not shocked and disappointed, because I am.  But I understand.  It's somewhat validating to have this Super Mom, with a team of therapists that come to her house, and with a great support system, say that she can't do this either.  I feel a little less like a horrible person.

Saying goodbye, April 2015

As we've shared this news, people have asked, "What next??"  The short answer is, I have no idea.  We're going to take this one day (possibly one hour) at a time for right now and wait until things settle down a bit before we figure that out.  We're brainstorming every possible solution at this point.

Paul sent me this from the airport today.

I know there were people who disapproved of our decision to disrupt, but I believed, and still believe, that it was the right choice for our family.  Having a 3 month break from Luke allowed me to climb out of the pit I'd slid into, and helped our family get back to a healthier place.

We truly believed this new family would be Luke's forever home, and in our mourning, we got rid of the crib, changing table, high chair, etc.  Over the past week, we've been blessed by friends donating things they're no longer using so that we can welcome Luke back to an equipped home.  Paul flew to another state to pick Luke up, and their plane tickets were a large unforeseen expense, so we're very grateful to those who were able to share their stuff with us for helping to minimize the financial impact of this surprise situation.

Because we shuffled rooms after Luke left, putting Katie and Hannah together in the panda room, Paul decided to give up his office for Luke.  In the next week or two, Paul will be insulating the wall and putting up sheetrock.  Having him downstairs will be a blessing, so I'm not carrying him up and down the stairs every day.

These last 3 pictures were taken tonight, after Paul and Luke got home.

Especially since... he's grown!  In just 3 months away, he's put on some weight, and seems taller to me.

We sent this ocean drum to Lukey for his birthday gift last month.  It was one of the toys his therapists used to bring to our house, and one of few that he seemed to like.  When I pulled it out of the suitcase and held it out to him, moving the beads from side to side, he lit up and reached for it.  He taps it, pushes it, and kicks it to get it to make noise.  I was thrilled to see that he liked it.

We appreciate your prayers as we all adjust, and wisdom for what happens next.

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Our Week with Progress in the School Room

This week, we tackled the school room.  With only 2 weeks of summer left, I'm starting to feel the urgency.

Our classroom needed to be configured a little differently for 3 students than for 2.

We've been talking about moving the second computer out of the school room for a while now, and finally, we did it.  After taking down the computer and the table that it was on, we turned the long table sideways.

Without the baby cage set up, it looks quite spacious in here!  (I moved the play yard while we rearranged things and vacuumed, but it's set up again now.)

I got started on copying first quarter lesson plans, and worked on my binder for the school year.  I even printed some worksheets for the first couple of weeks of school.

In fact, I was so into it, that I got Jack and Hannah together for their first lesson in their spelling books!

Hannah thought it was pretty cool, and Jack was more like, "What the heck, Mom?"  But I explained that with the Little Ones here, and some extra chaos we have going on in our world right now, we probably wouldn't hit a full day of school every day once school starts, so I'd like to store up a little in advance.  We actually did a second lesson today.

I got a little fancy with one of our Small Guests' hair one day this week.  I think I'm going to start making bows by the 3s instead of in pairs.  They pull them out and toss them when I'm not looking!

They tend to squabble when they're both in "the cage" but sometimes I need them confined for a bit.  Fortunately, we have plenty of interesting toys around here.  The stacking pegs are still a favorite.  One of the girls can stack quite a few pegs together.  I think it helps that we put them away after they're done with them, and then they don't see them again for a few days.

This week we hit 7 weeks with our Special Visitors.  They're very sweet, and I'm enjoying them immensely.  I will miss them when they go (probably late Sept.).

This week Paul also started a building project.

This poor room was designed as a dining room.  But our family is big, and our table is big, and we decided to dine in the great room.  We turned the "dining room" into an office for Paul.

Well, now it's getting a new incarnation.  Paul got one side all walled off in a single day, which is awesome, so I'm not trying to keep the toddlers out of an active construction zone.  We have a gate up at the other entrance to the room, so that side of the wall won't need to be finished as urgently.

And yes, that's Sam, napping in the front room after getting home from 4 days of football camp.

What about Katie?  What has she been doing while Jack and Hannah are working on spelling?  Well, I got out the Fundanoodle letter building magnets and let her play with those for a bit.  Here, she's making K for Katie.  These are great fine motor practice because the strong magnets require a bit of work to remove from the magnet board.

I got a chance to get out with some friends for a Mom's Night Out, and came home feeling refreshed.  Laughter really is good medicine.  Only one week left until school starts!  Uniforms bought, backpack washed, homeschool materials purchased, supplies stocked up on...  I think we're just about ready.

And no, I haven't forgotten about our Big News of last week (believe me, it's very much on my mind!).  I'll be sharing with you in a matter of hours, I promise.

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