Who needs stuff? Me! Our move so far…

Right now I am sitting here in a house with no furniture watching the sunrise and thinking about my family.  Yep, we’re in the middle of PCS-ing (military jargon for moving).  While it hasn’t been as rough as the last move, it hasn’t been easy.  But, then again, moving to another state rarely is.

We’ve been living out of suitcases for 3 weeks now and still have over a week before our household goods arrive so now we are “urban camping”—a catchy name for sleeping on air mattresses in your own home.  We’ve done it on both sides of the move now so I’m a little over it to be honest.  I’ve got one pot to cook in and we sit on the floor in the entryway because I don’t want the kids to sit on the carpet to eat and the kitchen isn’t big enough for all of us.   I’m tired of no comfy chairs to sit in and everything being in piles on the floor.  I’m tired of not having my own washer and dryer, especially when a child has an accident in the middle of the night.  You would think living without most of our belongings would make me a minimalist and my take-away would be that we don’t really need all that stuff.  But no.  I miss my stuff.  And you can call me materialistic but you are probably doing that from the comfort of your home filled with your stuff.

But most of all I am wishing I had my stuff because it gives us something to do.  It creates a flurry of activity as we unpack and get settled and I am anxious to do that.  Right now it is like the waiting place in Dr. Seuss’ Oh!  The Places You’ll Go!

…a most useless place.
The Waiting Place……for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go,
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go,
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No,
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.Waiting for the fish to bite,
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night,
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break,
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

We are stuck in this limbo where we can’t quite start our new life but we’ve left our old life and we just wait for them to hopefully bring our home to us.  Personally I find it hard to be motivated when living out of suitcase.  And all that waiting and unsettledness gives time for all the different emotions that come with moving to bubble up to the surface.  Especially for the kiddos.  They swing wildly from being madly excited and enthusiastic to crying their eyes out at missing “the best people I’ve ever known.”   Yes, that is a direct quote from my seven year old daughter.  Adorable.  And heartbreaking.

Yes, we moved with an inflated balloon. Because a friend gave it to her and how do you tell this face no?

It is so hard to tear your kids away from the life they know and love.  And even harder to do it more than once and know that it will happen again in the future.

People not in the military are fascinated by this turn of events.  They can’t believe that the date for delivery was changed by over a week, that our stuff isn’t coming when it was supposed to, that we are left with no belongings and trying to make do.  They are outraged on our behalf—especially my parents which makes me feel warm and happy inside.  (The best was when my mom insisted that obviously a man came up with this system because a mom would never have it work this way.)  My military friends commiserate but know that this is par for the course.  This is just kind of how it works.  And so we are left waiting.

But at least we are here in the waiting place together, right?

Ed is on leave (silly us thought he would be helping me unpack right about now) so we are left with an overabundance of family time.  You would think that we would be off having great adventures–we’re trying, but, well, remember when I said it was hard to be motivated when living out of a suitcase? And so we just spend time together: reading, playing games, exploring locally, and laughing (yes, we laugh a lot, even when things aren’t going well, perhaps especially when things aren’t going right).  And while it would help my kids to settle in if they had their own beds filled with their stuffed animals and treasures, I think that at the end of the day they will settle in just fine just having us—seeing that we can do this as a family, that we enjoy our time together, that we make the best of a bad situation.

Eventually we will have a home filled with our belongings, ringing with noise, busy with our schedule; but for now, I will strive to enjoy the quiet and the waiting and the time we have together.  Even if it’s not what I planned.

 

Holy Week Activities

As we start the holiest week of the year, I wanted to share some of the activities we have planned.  All of them are quick and easy to put together (because that’s kind of where we are at in life right now) so even if you’ve waited until the last minute to try to do something for Holy Week, have no fear.  Just click the pictures for links to the directions and activities.

Holy Week Wreath

Wee Little Miracles created this beautiful wreath to tell the Easter story.  I had seen the same Oriental Trading activity she mentions and wished to do something similar but the author Erin did such a fabulous job, why reinvent the wheel?  Click the picture to visit her site for all the directions, downloads, and more great ideas.

 

Cross and Crucifix paintings

Last year we painted cross paintings that were beautiful and easy to make.  We simply made a cross on the paper using painter’s tape and then painted water colors over the cross.  We did this with another family.  Some of the kids chose to add words with crayons ahead of time; others simply painted around the cross.

So of course I can’t find any pictures of our beautiful crosses.  I’ll keep looking and update when I find them but in the meantime, imagine a white cross on a page of beautiful watercolors….

 

Similar to our cross painting, Do Small Things With Love has done a watercolor crucifix painting.  This week the kids get to choose which one they would like to make.  Just click the image to visit her page.

Easter Egg Printable

We created this printable a few years ago when our girls were little.  Now we have our son who has gotten old enough to make the Easter Eggs so they are back in the rotation again.  You can find all the directions here.

Hot Cross Buns

This Good Friday we will be enjoying traditional Hot Cross Buns.  On Friday we will simply score the buns with a cross as we will be fasting, but any buns leftover will be getting yummy icing cross for Easter.  Catholic Cuisine has a great recipe along with historical info about this Lenten treat.

 

Stations of the Cross

This is one of my favorite parts of our Catholic faith.  I love the Stations of the Cross.  Really, I love Good Friday.  Maybe that’s not quite the right emotion or not the right way to say it.  But I just love so many people coming together as a group to mediate on the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, walking in his steps on the road to Calvary, venerating the cross.

It does get hard to keep the little ones quiet and focused during the Stations, however.  My go-to is coloring books of the Stations so that they can follow along while also staying occupied.  Here are a few different ones–just click the image to visit the different sites.

From Catholic Playground:

From St. Anne’s Helper (a great site for Catholic printables):

From Catholic Mom: Stations of the Cross coloring pages

 

And if you need help getting your kids into the Stations of the Cross, check out the Lego version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs5Z8TAVoGg

 

Happy Holy Week everyone!!

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Inaugural Bingo Board

The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our country and on Friday we get to watch it once again.  I personally am excited and will be watching it with my children and friends.  In order to help my children get the most out of the event and keep their attention, I created a bingo board filled with questions whose answers should appear during the Inaugural coverage.

If you prefer, I also listed the questions in a simple worksheet with lines for the answers.  And I made an answer key if you don’t hear the answers or want to check yourself.

Inauguration Bingo Board

Inauguration Worksheet

Answer Key

 

 

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

Two years ago we were spending Thanksgiving in the pediatric intensive care unit.  Mia fell down and then suddenly had a huge hematoma.  Before her eyes we watched her body be covered in unexplained bruises and dark red spots.  At the hospital we found out that she had no platelets left.  Over the course of days they diagnosed her and worked on treating it.  This all happened the day after we arrived at our new duty station.  So we found ourselves with a sick child in a new city CAM00167with no friends or family celebrating Thanksgiving and just being grateful that our children were alive and we were together.

And so at this time of year when we are being grateful for our blessings, I think back to that scary time and to the lessons I was reminded of during it…

I am thankful for my faith.  Riding in the ambulance with lights flashing, Mia looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not scared.  I know that God is with me.”  And she was right.  As our minds started to fill with panic our hearts were filled with faith.  God doesn’t make us sick and He doesn’t necessarily heal our body, what God does is walk beside us, loving us, giving us strength and preparing us for the way ahead no matter what it might be.

Our brave patient with her best buddy

Our brave patient with her best buddy

And I am thankful for the love with in our family.  Zoe would not leave Mia’s side.  When they wheeled Mia up to her room, Zoe rode next to her hugging her.  She laid in her bed, played with her, brought her food, and cried when Mia screamed in pain.  She was everything a sister could be.  I am proud of both of my daughters.  And I am proud of the family we have created and the love we all share for each other.

I am thankful for our friends and family, for all those who love me and love my children and love my husband.  People may be far away at times but our lives are filled with loved ones who will pray for us during our sorrows and celebrate with us during our times of joy.

And I am thankful for the generosity shown to us by both friends and strangers.  That Thanksgiving one of the doctor’s arrived with his family and a Thanksgiving dinner for us.  It was an act of such pure kindness I still tear up thinking of it.  But I am grateful not just for grand gestures like that, but for every time a stranger held the door open for us, gave my family a smile, picked up a dropped cup.  People are kind and we need to remember that.

I am thankful that my daughter is healthy again, yes.  But I am also thankful that our family survived the challenge and that we have learned and loved through it.  It has been a reminder to me of all that we should truly be thankful for–faith, love, friendship, and kindness.

Car Bucks

If you are traveling this holiday season, you might want to consider bringing some car bucks.  They have definitely brought peace and joy to our car.  🙂

20150512_101611This past summer we went on TWO major road trips, hitting both coasts–I am proud to say that during the course of the summer I drove on the I-10 in every single state it passes through.  All told we visited 15 states (but really Texas should count as like 10 different states since we drove from one end to the other).   And most of it I did alone with the kiddos. Two six-year-olds and a baby can make for a LONG trip.  Trust me.  Enter car bucks…

Car buck tickets

I got the idea on our first trip and we used imaginary ones.   By the second trip, I had my husband design actual “car bucks” for us.  The girls loved them!

So, how do you earn car bucks?

  • Being good during the drive,
  • Helping out when necessary,
  • Passing things back to siblings,
  • Being quick at rest stops,
  • Having good listening skills,
  • Good manners at our stops, etc.

With the baby in the car, my girls earned quite a few by helping keep Colton quiet and happy.  And I’ll admit that I pass the bucks out very freely.  I would rather reward good behavior throughout the trip then have grumps riding with me.  And this gives them more to spend.

Travel tickets

But what do you spend the car bucks on?

  • Buying souvenirs
  • Treats at rest stops
  • Special snacks

    Enjoying a rest stop along the way

    Enjoying a rest stop along the way

These were all things we would buy anyways but this way it was connected to good behavior which helped prevent whining and begging.  The souvenir money wasn’t an arbitrary amount and it allowed the children to practice good financial skills when deciding how to spend their money.  But don’t feel like you have to do a $1 to 1 buck ratio.  Make it work for you.

As for the snacks, of course our regular snacks were all free.  I just also picked up some extra special ones.  Like oreo sticks with creme dip (yum!) and the cups of cookies.  (I’m not very health concious on the road.)  The kids loved being able to choose when they could have something special like the cookies.  They tend to know best when they need a little pick me up.

Print on green paper to make them look more like money

Print on green paper to make them look more like money

Download Car Bucks

Car bucks have made our road trips easier.  I hope they help you!

 

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