Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Cheer

Well Christmas 2015 has already come and gone.

It was a blur of final exams, shopping, wrapping, partying, celebrating, Christmas Eve Services, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Normally we don't get out of Christmas Eve services until really late on Christmas Eve, but this year our church tried something different and our last service was at 4:30. We LOVED it. We came home, ate a nice dinner and then loaded up in our pj's and drove around looking at lights. This may be a new favorite tradition. We were going to take hot chocolate with us in the car, but it was like 90 degrees so we ran the ac while we listened to Christmas tunes instead. 

The next morning was a quiet morning just the five of us while we opened gifts.

Not sure what was happening here, but I think the excitement was too much for Isaac. Lol.

Santa brought a rock kit for Owen, all things football for Isaac, and American Girl accessories for the diva.

After eating breakfast and loading up the car, we headed to the mountains to spend Christmas with my parents and brother's family.

While there we did a lot of eating and some hiking too. The girls made scarves and enjoyed their cousin time.

Isaac even did some whittling like a true mountain his football jersey..... 

We definitely missed my sister and her crew, but enjoyed the time away from the stress of the real world.

Now it's back to studying and working and figuring out a new budget called the "Rachel is in school full time now" budget. Love me some good ole money debates. ;)

It's good times here. Good times.

These pics show the great parts of our holiday and there were plenty of smiles and laughter. But unfortunately there was another side too and it's called Surviving Christmas with Autism. My thoughts on that are more complicated and unsettling so that's another post for another day.

But for now?
We are wishing blessings and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gobble Gobble

We traveled to the OBX to spend Thanksgiving 2015 with Todd's family.

My favorite thing this year?
Watching these two:

My niece and my youngest? They're pretty darn cute together.

And Owen? He doesn't just give hugs to anyone. He'll hug when we prompt him, but it's incredibly rare to get unprompted snuggles.

We caught him hugging on Kenlee several times because he trusts her and feels safe with her. She's good to her "Owen Head."

I did a horrible job of taking pics. As usual......

But here were some other favorite moments:

Lip Sync Battle? Oh yes. This is definitely going to be a new tradition. Hilarious.

Cooking up a storm with my sil? Always a favorite!

Impromptu boat rides? Awesome.

Bonfire on the beach? So fun.

 Todd and his parents cramming in the back seat of the car so we could make Kevin "jealous" of Golden Boy? Always a fun competition......

Playing the Rate Your Love for the Dog game with my father-in-law? (Cooper isn't always a fan favorite due to his need to sometimes mark his territory and his love of people's dirty underwear and socks.....) so it has become quite humorous to torture my father-in-law with pics like this and ask him if Cooper can come sleep with him and Grandma?

(I think Grandma would have loved it as she also likes to sneak Cooper on the furniture when Todd's not around. Lol.)

Anything I get to do with this girl. And I do mean anything. 

I promise the rest of my family was there.

Isaac and Will played football, watched football, talked football, dreamt football, or wrestled their way through Thanksgiving.

Emma Grace spent her time reading or cooking or locked in her room with Kenlee, playing.

Now it's back to the final few weeks before Christmas.
House is decorated.
Stockings are hung.
Shopping has commenced.

Bring it, Holidays!

Monday, November 16, 2015


So marriage is all about compromise, right?

But what do you do when you can't come to a compromise?

Like let's say, just off the top of my head, when one of you would love to let your non-shedding, super snuggly cockapoo up on the couch to cuddle, and the other one REALLY can't stand dogs on the furniture?

Obviously, the best solution in this scenario is to realize that you're lucky your husband even let you bring home another dog and keep said dog off the furniture OR only allow the dog up on the couch for snuggle sessions when your spouse is not home?

And it was all going so well.....

Enter last night:

Todd and I are snuggled up on the couch watching a movie (I'm sure you see where I'm going with this) and Coop comes strolling in and immediately jumps up in my lap to settle down for a long winter's nap.

Oh yes, he did.

Obviously, being the lovely person that I am, I quickly shoved him off and feigned complete and utter shock at his rash behavior.

And I think I'm a pretty good actress, but dammit, my husband is smart. I knew I should have married someone much dumber.

He turned to me and (in a very accusatory tone I might add) exclaimed, "you've been letting him up here when I'm not home, haven't you?!"

I responded that "while yes, that was most likely true; I thought it was a good compromise?"

He did not agree.

So  poor Little Cooper has been relegated back to the floor.
For which, I completely blame him. I mean, be cool dude. Be cool.
I thought he understood the risks.

Bless his little heart.

And I'm not proud of my actions, but in my defense......

how can you not want to snuggle with this?


Totally and utterly busted.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A week in the Life Of.......

When your six year old has a sudden urge to display his artistic flare on walls and a leather couch,

rubbing alcohol and olive oil can be used to help remove the masterpiece.

When that same six year old brings home the class pet for a few days,

and the damn rodent darling hamster bites the crap out of him,

hydrogen peroxide can be used both to clean the cut, and get the blood stains out of your carpet.

When your nine year old takes the dogs out for a walk and one of the dogs drags him through mud,

an immediate bubble bath can help soothe aches and pains while getting dirt off the body.

When you're stuck in bed with a random bout of pneumonia and you feel like you are about to cough your lungs out of your body,

Having your ten year old daughter nearby perusing catalogs and catching your lungs as they fly out can be really helpful.

November 2015?
Not my favorite month so far......

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Seeing Red

Please excuse me, as I take my completely flawed and human self and claw my way up to the top of my pretentious soapbox with this post.

Is it just me, or do you also feel that people wake up in the morning, grab a bite to eat, get dressed, and then try to decide what they should be offended by that day? I mean let's be honest, there is a plethora of possible offenses just laying in wait; including, but definitely not limited to: names of NFL football teams, debates on the proper use of the word "scholarship," which gender should be allowed in which bathrooms, the woman who dared to breastfeed her baby in a restaurant, the Halloween costume a celebrity wore, etc, etc, etc....... And I usually try not to get in the middle of political, social, educational, or, well basically, any type of debate on social media, because quite frankly, I feel it is a waste of both my time and yours, but today is not that day.

You see, I keep seeing these posts and rants about people boycotting Starbucks. Why? Not because their drinks cost the equivalent of a small mortgage payment, but because their holiday cups are not "Christmasy" enough. In fact, the company has been slammed for creating a "War Against Christmas." Don't believe me? Use the almighty power of your google button and you too can see what I'm talking about.

Here are the offensive cups this year that are "waging War on Christmas" -

Embedded image permalink

Now Starbucks claims that they created these cups intentionally plain to "leave interpretation open for any type of holiday celebration." People refuse to believe that though and are accusing Starbucks of taking "the Christ out of Christmas."

Now, come on guys, I really don't think we can give Starbucks the credit for that. It is a sad state of affairs that our country has commercialized Christmas to the point that apparently certain people thought the Starbucks holiday cups from years past actually represented the true meaning of Christmas? In fact, I did a little investigating because I do like to indulge occasionally in an overpriced peppermint mocha, and I can't remember one Starbucks cup that has ever represented the true meaning of Christmas?

This one had an encouraging quote about hope.....but still no mention of Christmas or Jesus....

Oh wait. 
I stand corrected.
Remember the year the Three Wise Men hiked up their robes, laced up their skates, and figure skated their way to Bethlehem? And unto them a New Olympic Sport was born...the prizes? Gold, Frankincense, and myrrh.
My bad.

Now you may be thinking I'm not offended by the plain red cup because I obviously want the overpriced peppermint mocha (I do!), or maybe you think I just don't love Jesus enough to get mad? You would be wrong. I love me some Jesus. I love him even more than a peppermint mocha. I think Jesus is the absolutely greatest, most amazing thing that has ever happened in this world. EVER. But I gotta be honest here, I don't think Jesus cares one iota about the color of a Starbucks cup. I really don't. The fact that Jesus told Martha to quit worrying about the dishes and come spend time with him (which, by the way, is a great excuse to get out of doing dishes if you ever need one.....) makes me think he would definitely not care about a red paper cup that's going to end up in the trash can at the local mall. 

But heck, if you're determined to find Jesus in a Starbucks cup, tell everyone that since the cup is "open to interpretation," it obviously represents the blood of Christ. His blood and sacrifice is THE reason he was born. Nothing is more real reason for the season than His sacrifice, so try that interpretation on for size?  If that seems too preachy and you're looking for something more subtle, grab a sharpie and draw a picture of baby Jesus crowning away in the manger on that red cup. I mean nothing says let's celebrate the birth of Jesus like a graphic picture of the birth of Jesus! Can I get an AMEN?

But in all seriousness, if you are looking for Jesus this Christmas; holy cow, please don't be looking for Him in a Starbucks cup!

If you need to be offended by something, by all means, be offended. 
Raise a raucous and wage a war! But remember that you can't care about every single wrong thing in this world, so maybe choose your cause a little more wisely.

If you're having a hard time finding a cause, here's a few to get you started that really could make a difference: about that problem called ISIS?


Why not rage war against human trafficking?


What about all the foster care kids that age out of the system with nowhere to go? They could use some love and care.


 How about the injustice of childhood cancer? A high school friend of mine lost her daughter to cancer and started a great organization called Claire's Army to help families going through every parent's worst nightmare. Please, if you want to care about something? Care about those families!


 What about our teachers who are underpaid and no longer feel safe in the classroom? Could we care about them instead?

Those are just five causes off the top of my head. Do your research; find something you're passionate about and fight for it. And if, after doing all that, you're still passionate about boycotting Starbucks, boycott away, but do it for a cause. Why not spend that $10 you would have spent on a coffee and scone to feed someone who is really hungry? Loaves and fishes, baby. Loaves and fishes. That's Jesus right there.

Instead of waking up each morning trying to find a new offense, let's go on the defense. Let's start each morning figuring out how we can show the world our Savior.

Stop criticizing a flawed world for not being the Jesus you want them to be and focus on being Him to a flawed world.

Okay that's enough preaching for now.
I'm off to Starbucks.
Peppermint Mocha Anyone?
Sharpie's Not Provided.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Helloween 2015


The kids went as the lego movie crew. They looked amazing thanks to the Hollands. Todd and I had shockingly little to do with the costumes this year.....Boo us. We didn't even buy or carve a pumpkin this year. We are scrooges. Total scrooges. Sorry Barron and Danelle. I would say we'll do better next year, but I think we all know....that's not going to happen.....

Our three were Batman, Wild Style, and Bad Cop.

 The Holland Three were UniKitty, RocketMan, and Emmett.

The Two that started all this Helloween Craziness ten plus years ago......

End of the night Trading Post. 
There were some serious deals going down in this room. 
Serious deals.

The costumes that we so graciously let our friends build.
I know, we're amazing.......
They're lucky to have us.......

One pic of all six legos before the real fun began.
And by real fun, I mean listening to Owen scream, watching Leah Kate's pants fall down because she couldn't get her hands back there to pull them up, pulling them up for her and then realizing I gave her a major wedgie, seeing multiple falls as they stumbled around like drunk people because they either could not see, or could not get their legs to move well in the cardboard, and realizing it was 100% worth it because they had a blast, and let's face it, Danelle and I pretty much laughed the whole way through all these shenanigans.

Love these kids.
Love love love doing life with these friends.

THANK YOU Barron and Danelle for making this awesome Halloween happen!

And as Danelle says, 
Next year? They're all six going as ghosts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Glimpse At Brave

We've done this walk a million times, but it never seems to get any easier.

The tired, early morning walk into the hospital with a scared boy on our backs.

The poking and prodding and changing routine.
The television is on as a form of distraction.
The snuggles. Oh, the snuggles.

And then the hardest part. The part where he has to walk away. He had a death grip using both his hands clinging to mine and I took him as far as I was allowed, and then it took a brilliant nurse and a cell phone game to get him the rest of the way without me. That walk is short in distance but LONG in heart. And I try to keep it in perspective: He's okay. He is able to walk into that room. There is no emergency. There is no life or death situation on the line here. We are blessed. So so so blessed.

But damn, watching your scared six year old boy pull up his way too big hospital pants and take those steps away from you is a hard sight to see. 

We have our routine down pat now. As soon as he's behind those doors, Todd runs down to the Starbucks and gets me my favorite coffee, venti style. It's my special treat for being brave. ;) He's taking care of us both and he does a good job of it. He's the first to go back when Owen starts waking up, but it never lasts long before they come get me too, because Owen always wants his mom. (And we've figured out this trick is the best way to get us both back there quickly.) Whoever made the rule that only one parent is allowed in recovery has never had a kid in recovery. I'm 99.9% sure of that.

Once Owen is fully awake and taking liquids, they take the IV out and send us on our way. They took tissue samples from his esophagus and stomach and now we wait for results and pray for answers. 

Last Wednesday was a long day.

And long after the house was finally quiet, I kept thinking about my boy and how he's brave over and over and over again.

He has no choice. He shows up for life one day at a time and he rocks it. Some days he rocks it with screaming and tears and pain and some days he rocks it with smiles, despite all that is going on. Doesn't matter to us - he's rocking it either way.

And yesterday when I went and bombed a statistics exam, I wanted to quit. This school stuff in the midst of life stuff is really hard y'all. And having a panic attack during an exam does not bode well for your grade on said exam. And I definitely kissed my A goodbye. It was mortifying. My final product looked like it had been through a tornado. I'm pretty sure there was a hole in one spot from too much erasing and crossing out and rewriting and.....oh the horror.

And I really thought, I should just quit. This stress isn't worth it. I'm too old for this.

But then I went to work last night and I loved on my patients and I thought about my boy and I decided I'm going to keep showing up. One day at a time.
(Until they kick me out or I graduate.)  

My six year old has taught me that.

Toughest dude I know.
And if he can keep showing up and rocking it every day, surely that's the least I can do as well.

So life lesson for this week?
Be brave.
Show up.
Rock it out.
Maybe cut your eraser off your pencil during exams.
And drink wine as needed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Where Did Snarky Go?

Well I wrote a post the other day about pretend birthday parties.

And then somehow I deleted it.

I'm awesomesauce like that.

I have no idea where it went? Apparently it's in the  infamous cloud floating aimlessly along with the majority of my brain cells.

Sorry, Sister. 
(She was upset that my funny post disappeared. I try not to upset the sister because she knows WAY too much about me. If she ever went public, the results could be catastrophic.)

I don't want to rewrite the post because I don't remember it all that well, but imagine something snarky and sarcastic regarding another blogger who threw a pretend birthday party for her kids and their friends. For realz. She even had cake and crafts and favors.

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That! 

I did post this awesome picture of myself and my dog who needs his anal glands expressed right now. 

(These are our "we're not wearing makeup and we sure as heck don't understand statistics or fake birthday party" faces.)

Well technically, this may be Cooper's "For the Love of all things holy, would somebody please express my anal glands so I'll stop dragging my butt along the floor" face!)

So I'm getting ready to go do the whole glandular/bath routine with Cooper and at breakfast I was lamenting that I forgot to bring home latex gloves from work to perform this task today and Isaac said, "Just please please please don't use my football gloves." And then I spit my coffee all over myself because that kid is funny. And I kind of like the idea of squeezing glands with football gloves. ;) 

And I should have titled this post, "How many times can you say 'Anal Glands' before your 3 readers quit reading?"

Anybody still reading?



Anywho - In other news - I was supposed to go on an awesome date with my husband Saturday night. But then this happened: 

This is called a bad reaction to a certain food or an EE flare up or BOTH. Giving it time and we'll see what they say next week at our UNC visit. But it was no fun for my little man. He's much more verbal now and instead of just screaming, he now tells us that it feels like he can't breathe and there are things stuck in his throat. Breaks. My. Freaking. Heart. 

He seems to be feeling better now so hopefully he ate something bad and it's through his system and gone forever!

While I was home snuggling him wherever he saw fit, including but not limited to the stairs, the porch, his bed, my bed, the dogs bed, etc:

Isaac straight up hijacked my date.

I have decided to forgive him since he's so darn cute.

And in other news because I don't think I ever blogged about this, Emma Grace was baptized about a month ago in the river near our home. It was an awesome day of family and friends and celebrating big steps in faith.

Here she is afterward with her favorite teacher, Mr. Balsis, who has ruined all other teachers for her.

It takes a village and we're so grateful for all the people in our lives who encourage our children to step out on faith and trust God with their future!

And in case you think my obsession with puppies has withered up and died, 

I sent this to Todd this morning because this would totally be my dream trip to the grocery store:

He has not responded to said text yet. It's probably hard to text your crazy wife back while you're looking up divorce lawyers? 

Happy Tuesday Everyone!!! 

(And no, Mom, I'm not actually getting another dog. I just like to torture Todd.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Week Survival

Well Todd and I survived summer barely and were maybe a little bit too happy to see that big yellow bus on Monday.

Now it's time for the kids to survive life in a new school.

This adjustment has gone well for some and not so well for others.

On Day One we only got two of the three kids back at the end of the day. 66.6% isn't so bad and this wouldn't have been such a big deal except the remaining child has some medical needs I'm not sure his first year teacher was prepared and ready to tackle. We think maybe she was holding him hostage because, being the awesome parents that we are, we had not yet sent his school supplies in with him......

We got that sorted out and he finally came home around 5:00.

The next day he left his lunch box on the bus and I got a phone call from my brother-in-law who had received a frantic phone call from the same teacher who was frazzled because he didn't have a lunch and you can't just feed that kid whatever you want.

We got that worked out.

Here's to hoping that today goes smooth sailing for the youngest and especially for his poor teacher.

The middle child? He's sailing through.
Need new friends? Check.
Like learning the layout of new places? Check.
Already have football games in place during recess? Check.
That's all he needs. Seriously.

And that brings us to the oldest: our anxious and shy child who likes routine and dislikes change.
There have been some tears shed this week.
And there have definitely been some attitude adjustments needed.

She misses her friends at her old school.
I get that.
I remember fifth grade.
People already have their groups.
We're signing her up for some extracurricular activities to hopefully foster new friendships.

And as we laid in her bed talking last night, I heard the same ugly insecurities from my own childhood rearing their same ugly heads and I realized times haven't changed that much. It doesn't matter how amazing I think she is, she wants the other girls to think she's worthy and invite her in to their circle. She wants to be wanted.

I totally get that.

And I pray fervently every morning that someone will connect with her and show her kindness, and at the same time I pray that she will realize her own worth and know that God created a beautiful little soul and that in the end, she will be okay. Because she will be.

So here's my sillies on the first day of school doing their thing and preparing to tackle a new year:

Meanwhile their mother is tackling statistics.

And statistically speaking, I'm worried about the outcome of me doing well in statistics. So far, the data does not look promising.  ;)