Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in a Camper - Arizona

We have a very large 5th wheel, 42 feet to be exact. It is one of the largest that is made. My husband and I have a king size bed, huge closet, and dresser. There is one twin loft bed and two extra long queen size bunk beds. The kids have a 8 1/2 x 12 foot room in the back to sleep and play. It really is roomy, yet extremely squished! You know what I mean! So, to this big camper that is ridiculous packed with all of our stuff, we add a Christmas tree, garland, ornaments, lights, and presents. We have to squeeze down the two stairs that come from our bedroom. The presents piled high, there are 8 of us, so there can be a lot of presents fast, especially when you add to that pile the ones mailed in by loved ones.

The kids were so excited. We celebrate Advent, so reading our Barthalomew's Passage book, singing carols, eating cookies, and prayer is how we spent almost every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Well, this year we didn't get the whole book read by Christmas, so we will continue it until we get it done.

This year we stayed the night at my Aunt and Uncle's home. It was a lot of fun. They are so good with the kids. It is hard to find people that can truly handle six kids with two of them being young and very active. They really love our children and show it constantly. Of course, I can't complain. I am getting spoiled, too. Growing up I spent a lot of time at my Aunt and Uncle's house. My cousin Karen and I are the same age, so we had a blast giggling the night away when we were young. My Aunt has cooked hundreds of meals for me and tucked me into bed at least that many times. Now, she is taking the opportunity to tend to me again, and boy does it feel great. She won't let me hardly help in the kitchen. She doesn't want me to help clean up after. She loves to serve my kids and husband. She even cut my meat for me tonight, again. I brought her all of my mending and she not only sewed that, but also made skirts and doll clothes for my girls. She made quilts for my boys and Josie. She just keeps on loving us in such wonderful ways. The best gift they have given me is complete acceptance of our family and life style. I don't worry about Gabriel getting too wild at their house. I do try to train him, I don't just let him be a monkey! They just understand what a 5 yr old boy is like. When Josie fussed loudly at 11pm Christmas Eve, neither of them even said a word. I can see the pride in their eyes as they introduce us to others. They love us and are proud of us. I lost my father 5 yrs ago and I feel like my Uncle is a father to me and a grandfather to my children.

We had our nutcrackers on display.
Christmas was good, because we were with good people that we love and that love us. Sure, we got some great presents, too. It was nice to see the joy on my kids faces as they opened them all. Gabriel set a new record on how fast a child can open them all. Josie opened hers for two days she did it so slow. We enjoyed a wonderful brunch at my cousins as her and her new boyfriend entertained us with good food and big smiles.

The kids loved getting the most amazing barn, castle, and doll furniture made by their Uncle. The craftsmanship is so incredible. To have those made so perfectly and lovingly was such a blessing. He sure went above and beyond the call of duty as an Uncle!

It was a great day, crazy with all the kids, but that good kind of crazy.

Merry Christmas, thank you Jesus for blessing us on your birthday.

Gabriel sure enjoyed getting his huge barn made with love by Uncle Hogie.

Naomi was in shock by her table and chairs, hutch, and doll bed made by Uncle Hogie.  Aunt Sandy also made a table cloth and clothes for the dolls and for the girls.  She worked hours on Josephine's doll's hat.  It was so beautiful.

The castle he made is awesome.  It can fold up and be put away, too!

We got Shae a recorder for Christmas.  He could never play any instrument in school, except the recorder.  We have heard the stories numerous times.  He only learned to play Mary had a Little Lamb, and he does it wrong.  It was a great laugh.  He is so funny.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kids act crazy in front of pastors of church....oh boy...

Living in a camper with six kids, well, is not easy. Now, many people say, "Well, at least you have two teen agers to help." And, yes, they do help. But, they can be just as time consuming as a toddler. I love my teens. They are incredible, just time consuming. So, life is challenging enough and then we throw ourselves into a camper. It is pretty wild. Now, make it Christmas, throw a Christmas tree in our little camper, an extra table, and lots of presents! Wow! It is crammed! I just take a deep breath and walk around everything. It is crazy, but a good crazy.

Now, today was an adventure. I had to finish up my shopping. I am a little tired, so I will spare you the long version. The short of it is this, Cody went with my Uncle to help with my cousin's garage door. Shae is working and then volunteering by pulling wire to help build a huge new church. Hanna, Naomi, Gabriel, Josephine, Tytus, and I set out for a day shopping at Guitar Center, Old Navy, Justice for Girls, Best Buy, Toys R Us, and Walmart. Well, we didn't make it to the last three.

We were at Guitar Center when the pastors of the church we are doing volunteer work at walk into the store. It was nice to see them. But, of course this is when Gabriel decides he is going to play with Tytus. He pulls on his legs. I tell him to stand by me, (Hanna had Tytus). He came to me and then headed back over to Tytus to pull his legs some more. All the while I am talking with the pastors. Gabriel goes to Tytus, I tell him to come back. Gabriel comes back and then goes to Tytus. I tell him to come back. Gabriel comes back and then goes to Tytus, again. This happens 4 times while I am talking with the pastors. It never fails, the kids disobey in front of the last person you want them to.

So, we head to Justice for Girls, can't afford anything, so on to Old Navy next door. We find Naomi a couple of shirts. While we looked, there was a cute little toy puppy I let Josie sit by to play with. She needed a little time for her. She enjoyed talking to it and sitting on it. It was time to go, but she was not going to leave. No way. Absolutely not. I asked her nicely, then firmly, then strongly. She came with me. We got about 4 isles down. I saw another cute shirt for Naomi. Just about then, Josie decided she was going back to the toy dog, now. Off she ran, with me calling her from behind. She made it to the toy dog and was not going to leave. I was carrying Tytus, so I had Hanna go get her. Josie would not leave. Hanna had to pick her up as she screamed and cried no. We got to the check out when Josie decided she didn't want to stand in line anymore. She hid in the clothes rack. Needless to say, I loaded up the kids, informed them they were not going to Toys R Us and we would head straight home. Now, I tried to have extra compassion on them, I knew Josie had a little cold and wasn't in her right sorts. But still, I could not ignore her disobedience. We got home and I sent Gabriel and Josie in the back for a nap. Hanna then told me she had seen the pastors in Old Navy, too! You have got to be kidding me. So not only did they see Gabriel disobey, but they got to see the show put on by Josie!

So, I feel this is a good time to mention two things I feel very strongly about.

1st. It is good for people to see that we are not perfect.
I remember there were two women I thought had it all together. They had lots of kids, homeschooled, cooked perfect, had great marriages, etc. But, I was wrong. They had problems, too. Their lives were not even close to perfect. As I got to know them better, I saw that they struggled some, too. I think it is so important to not try to live up to an unrealistic expectation that we usually put on ourselves. Do you know someone that you think has it all together? I dare you to get to know them better and see that they have flaws too, just like you and me. Now, I am not saying do not better yourself, or learn from other peoples lives. I just mean that we have to be careful to not try to live up to a standard that is not realistic or possible. If we do , we will always be a failure in our own eyes.  Everyone has hard days.  This doesn't mean we can over look complete disobedience, it just means it is not realistic to think we will not have those days.

2nd. Living in a camper is not easy. Many people think this is the easy life, that traveling is like a year round vacation. It is not. Like I told my Grandma today, my camper is a house, my home, it just has wheels. I need a vacation like anyone else. Traveling full time with lots of kids is a ton of work. But, I always ask myself, "Is this problem the result of living in a camper or would it be this way in a house?" A lot of our difficulties would be in a house also, they are not dependant on a camper.

Well, it is after midnight and I have 3 sick kids. I better get to bed so I have enough energy to take care of them.

God bless you,
Prickly days in the prickly desert.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild time at the airport...

It seems there is never a dull moment with us. Every day has an adventure or something absolutely hilarious or exhausting. Well, our trip to the airport was extremely exciting and terrible at the same time.

Shae got a call from work that he had to fly to Oklahoma City for some training. Now, if any of you from his work is reading this, hello, we love you, and we would like a raise, Just Kidding, kind of. So, off we go to the airport, 15 passenger van, 6 kids absolutely sad that dad is leaving for the very long 2 days, and 1 wife excited for the field trip to the airport.

We found the parking garage and attempted to pull in. I opened my door and peeked on the top of the van to see if we would clear the 6' 10" sign at the entrance. To our dismay, our van is too high. We have added a rack on top for our kayaks and it put us just over the height for the garage. We all envisioned us pulling in there and getting wedged in, tight. I slammed my door shut so we could hurry up and back up before someone came. A very calm voice came from behind me, saying, "Mom, you slammed my hand in your door." I looked next to me and saw most of Cody's hand shut tight in the door. I screamed as I attempted to open the door quickly. I seemed to grab everything but the door handle as I scrambled to open it as fast as I could. He just stood there waiting patiently. "Cody, why on earth would you put your hand in my door!?!?" He had peeked out the back sliding door to see if we would clear the sign, too. I didn't even notice his hand in the door. He said, "I am fine. I can move all of my fingers!

So, now what? We saw a sign for parking for high clearance vehicles. So, we drove around the loop to Terminal 4, but could not find the entrance for the lot. We made the loop around Terminal 2, 3, and 4 again, but still no entrance to the high clearance lot. Finally, Shae said, "I'll just jump out at the departure doors. You'll just have to drop me off." Of course, I was disappointed to not be able to walk him in. The kids would have loved it. But, we couldn't find anywhere to park! Shae jumped out of the van and grabbed his bag. He shouted his goodbyes and took off into the airport. We had to hurry since we were parked on the curb that was for unloading. All the kids were so sad as daddy disappeared into the terminal. I got in the drivers seat and headed out. Gabriel said, "I already miss him." All the kids said they agreed.

Now, I have never been to this airport, much less this particular city! I did not want to get back on the freeway, it was too busy. After looking at the map, I decided to go a side road back to the intersection we would take north. I had seen a Best Buy near there and needed to stop at one, desperately.

I got turned around a couple of times, really wasn't sure where I was going, but after 15 minutes, I was on the right road. I happened to glance down,  and saw Shae's cell phone sitting in the cup holder next to mine!

Oh No!!!!

He has to have his cell phone!

In the rush to get out at the curb and all of us wanting his attention, he forgot his cell phone! I knew I had to get it back to him. He never forgets anything. In fact, he usually remembers things for me! I was not happy to have to turn around and head back to the maze I had finally found my way out of, with six hungry kids in the van! But, daddy needed his phone, and we had to get it to him, somehow.

I have to run, baby just woke up.... I'll write more later....it involves, paging, soldiers, strangers, driving for 1 1/2 hrs around the airport...grouchy lady at curb.... did Shae ever get his phone???

a cliff hanger...check back later....he he he he he

I am finally getting back to finish this entry. Baby is back asleep and the other kids are happy.

Well, I knew Shae had to have his phone. He was flying into Oklahoma City to meet a lot of his co-workers and boss for the first time. I didn't think it would look too good not having his phone. And, Shae would never forget his phone. This was so unlike him!

I turned the van around, thinking in my head, "Oh, he owes me big time." But, I knew that was not the right attitude. Here he was flying across the country to work so we can eat and live comfortably and I'm complaining! So, I gritted my teeth as I turned around and attempted to smile. I told the kids, "It's like we are Dora and Diego! We are going on an adventure to see what we can find. Down the freeway, to the airport and on the plane! Watch out for Swiper!" As I said that, my two year got very silent as she contemplated whether or not Swiper would really be there.

I tried to find the high clearance parking garage, but to no avail. I found one entrance to it, but it was blocked off by three orange cones. So now what? I see trucks in the lot, but how on earth did they get in there? I circled the airport attempting to find a place to park, but couldn't. So, plan B. Send Cody in. I explain to him that he must go to the Delta desk and tell them our situation and ask them to page Shae at the gate. Now, I don't know the flight number or gate, but I figure that there should only be one plane leaving for Minneapolis at 1:09pm for Delta. Cody took Shae's phone and mine. I kept the kids phone to communicate with him. He headed in, right for the Delta desk. The lady there instructed him to use the paging computer to get a hold of Shae. So, Cody filled out some form on a computer that is supposed to send a voice page over an intercom and also put up the information on TV screens throughout the airport. Cody headed to the security checkpoint to wait for Shae. While he is doing this, I am driving round and round the airport, keeping watch on the curb in case Shae realized he forgot his cell phone and came down to the drop off point to see if I came back. I just hoped he would think of that.

After a little while, I saw I could park in the cell phone lot. So, we sat there for a little while. After driving and sitting for over an hour, I knew we had to do something else. His plane would be boarding soon. I drove around again, for about the 13th time. I saw some soldiers standing on the sidewalk. I pulled over and told them our situation. I asked them to escort Hanna inside to the Delta desk to have the lady actually call Shae's gate and have them find him. Hanna took her cell phone and kept Cody on the line while I watched her walk off with quite a few soldiers, into the airport.

Now, I must admit. Panic tried to set in. Two of my kids are now in the airport. They have no way to get a hold of me or Shae. Hanna is with a soldier, which did make me feel better, until I drove around the airport and came back to where I had dropped her off and all of the soldiers were gone! "Ok." I told myself. "Breath deep. She is fine. I never should have dropped her off." I was praying quite feverishly now. I drove around a few more times, Tytus was still asleep. Josie, Naomi, and Gabriel were happy. Shae's plane would be off soon, and there was nothing I could do.

The kids were still not back out. Where on earth were they? I pulled up to the arrival gate, where I had dropped Hanna off. I waited a minute until security walked over. She said, "You can't park here! You're on my crosswalk! Just keep driving in circles." So, once again, I drive around the airport, no cell phone. I saw a soldier standing on the curb, so I pulled over. I told him I was looking for my daughter, who I had dropped off. He said the other soldier and Hanna were looking for me. He ran to get them. I could finally breathe. I looked out my rear view mirror. There came Cody, Hanna, and a soldier. Oh, I was so thankful. They got back in the van and shared with me their stories. Shae got the message from the lady at the gate. He ran to security to get his phone. Cody went down the escalator, got Hanna and began to look for me.

Shae called me from Minneapolis. That 3 hour flight for him gave me time to calm down. I was really trying to think positive and nice thoughts. He got on the phone and said almost the worst thing he could have.

 "I figured I would just go without it for a couple of days."


I knew he was just trying to be positive of his situation, which was the right thing to do. He didn't even realize his phone was missing until 15 minutes before his plane boarded! AHHHHH!

Well, we had quite an adventure. I like to say it was good until it was bad. I am sorry to say it got worse. I went to Best Buy to get broadband internet. I had them help me install it. It won't work wireless! I sat there for 2 hours trying to get this thing to work! The SIX kids were great until the very end. I finally let the little ones run circles around the equipment. I figured maybe they would give us a TV if we WOULD JUST LEAVE! HA HA HA HA HA HA

Hope you enjoyed the story! I'm off to bed soon. I am working on our website. It got messed up on our computer, so I have to re-do it! Yikes! It is a lot of work!

Check back tomorrow. I will write about the publishing company that contacted us about Hanna...... another cliff hanger!