Thursday, August 30, 2007

The New Rug

I just bought a brand new rug today from Lakeshore Learning to go in the homeschooling section of our house. I love it, with all the alphabet around it and the nice bright colors! It was a bit expensive, but worth it. I know we will have it for a very long time. Anyway, I had just rolled it out and put the table and chairs on it and set it all looked perfect and I was so excited. (You know, that feeling you get when you get home and set up something that you just bought....)
and along comes a naked 14 month old -- yep, that would be Andrew -- naked buns running around the house. I know I should diaper him up but he just got out of the bath and was loving his "freedom" and there's just something about a naked baby that I just can't resist. So he was running around the house, happy as can be....
and then I noticed him standing real still, unusually still, on my new, expensive rug, and he was looking down at his feet, and I was thinking to myself, I wonder what has his attention?? (can you see where I'm going with this?) And then I look to see that Andrew has decided to have a little poop and pee session right there on my new homeschool rug. I quickly ran over and grabbed him up before he could step in the mess. I said, "Oh no...Andrew!!" and all the kids came running in. I said, "Clean up, Aisle 4" and all the kids were all "Eeeeew--- gross!! It's POOP!!" and I just laughed and kissed his sweet baby face and said, "'s just a little poopy from my sweet baby boy....nothing to get excited about." and someone said, "But's a NEW rug and he's ruined it!!" (I believe that was Afton who said that) and I said, "Oh no, it will clean right up. You'll see. No big deal." and then I heard, "Ugh...I'm never going on that rug. Never!" ( I believe it was Audriana who said that) and I said, "Oh stop over reacting..." and I took Andrew and cleaned him up and let him run around again (still naked buns!) and then I cleaned up the mess. But you know, they must have ScotchGuarded the rug or something because it took all of 30 seconds to wipe up. The pee never even soaked in but just beaded up on the surface. It's an awesome rug, I love it. Anyway, in a minute all was well and we went back to our scheduled programming.'s the little things like poop on a new rug that can stress people out, cause them to yell and get all bent out of shape. But when you just sit back and access the situation and put it into a little perspective...and just think, aren't I lucky that I have those cute little buns running around my house? Isn't that sweet little package worth a little poopy mess?
He sure is.
To all my mommy friends out there: Cherish moments like these instead of getting upset. Appreciate these moments for what they are -- these are the "small stuff" in the saying, "don't sweat the small stuff".

Sit back. Enjoy your babies. And don't sweat the poopy stuff :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Baby Micah

Today I met the most amazing mom. Her name is Stephanie, and her sweet baby boy is named Micah. Due to lack of oxygen at birth, Micah was born severely brain injured. He will be a year old on Sunday, but unlike other 1 year olds, Micah is not sitting up or crawling or taking his first steps. Micah is just now learning how to eat solid food through his mouth, although he takes in most of his nutrition still through a feeding tube attached to his belly. Micah is just now starting to turn his head towards sound, and is also starting to make eye contact and smiles.

Stephanie is doing the same brain development program on Micah that we did on Audriana many years ago when she was brain injured in our car accident. This program takes about 7 hours to complete each day. It is pretty much done the entire time the child is awake, actually. It is done by the mom (and dad if he's home to help) and also needs the help of volunteers for a lot of it (which is why I was there today) because it takes three people to "pattern" the child (manually moving the head, arms and legs in a cross-pattern crawl) which is done many times throughout the day.

Last year when Andrew was just about two months old, I became friend's with Micah's grandmother (whose son was on Alex's soccer team) and she told me all about Micah and how hurt he was. Micah was only a week old at the time. I was so sad to hear of Micah's traumatic birth and all that went wrong to cause him such harm to his little brain. It just wasn't fair. In the womb he was completely fine -- and then things went wrong as he was being born and he was cut off from his oxygen supply which is what caused his brain injury. My heart just went out to his mother. And having Andrew at the time, who was so close in age to Micah, only made me hurt more for Micah and his mom. I would look at Andrew and see him interacting with me, laughing and giggling, rolling over....all the normal things that healthy babies do....and then I would think to Micah and wish that he could do these things, too. I immediately told Micah's grandmother about the book that lead us to an institute in PA where they worked with brain injured children because I knew without a doubt that Micah's best chance at recovery would be to do this aggressive program ....starting right now. They have since taken Micah back east for evaluation and started his program in May.

Stephanie is a young, single mom -- just 21 years old. Her friends aren't a support to her because they are all 21 years old, too, and into going out, dating, etc. Stephanie lives at home with her mom, and together they carry out Micah's program everyday. Stephanie is just now reaching out for help from volunteers. And I was there today for the first time. I'm working on getting her more volunteers, as I know from experience that the more you have, the better.

Micah is the size of a 4 month old baby. He is very peaceful and seems to look at you when you talk. At least when I held and spoke to him, he seemed to be staring at me and listening to what I had to say. He really liked it when I used my long nails to massage his head. He would open his mouth in excitement and arch his back -- his way of expressing joy. I fell in love with him instantly. He has the sweetest face and beautiful hazel/light brown eyes. I swear I just wanted to take him home with me and hold him all day long :) He only cried when we did his patterning -- he whined a lot through it, and at times got quite upset (which is typical....especially with babies) It's hard to keep doing the patterning when he's crying and is so upset -- someone who didn't know better would think we were hurting him -- but when you know that what you are doing is actually helping him, it makes it easier to carry out.

Stephanie is one devoted mom. I have so much respect for her and what she's doing for her son. Micah's program gets done every single day by her. All day long she masks him (which is a little bag that goes over his mouth and nose that he breathes into which helps increase the oxygen to his brain -- we did that with Audriana as well, about 90 times a day, 1 minute durations, with 5 minutes breaks inbetween) and she does tactile stimulations all day long (rubbing different textured cloths, brushes, etc on his skin) and she does visual stimulation during the day (to help his eyes develope better vision ) along with the patterning (which helps with brain development) This program is very hard, and I had a hard time with it and I had the help of a husband's support. Stephanie is an amazing person. Micah is so blessed to have her for a mother! I found myself getting teary-eyed while I was there, because I could see the love she has for her son, and I know the heartache of having a child who is not "normal", and I know the feelings of uncertainty and the guilt you get sometimes when you think you aren't doing enough to help your baby get better. I know how important it is to have unconditional support during this time Unfortunately, there will be people questioning her, doubting she is doing the right thing by him, and routinely asking her "how long" she is going to do this program....and I know how hurtful that can be. (I wish those people would realize that the hardest therapy to do IS the one Micah is doing -- why would she pick the hardest, most time-consuming therapy to do unless she has researched and found it to be the most aggressive and that it provides the best chance for him to have a normal life?) I'm so glad I met her, because at least in me she will have someone who really understands what it is she is doing and why she's doing it.

I'll be helping with Micah's program again this week. I can't wait to go back. I wish I could help everyday, but they live a half hour away from me...and the freeway is always tied up which makes it a longer drive. Being there reminds me so much of when we did that program with Audriana many years ago. We did it for 2.5 years, everyday. It was without a doubt the hardest 2.5 years in our lives! But I also believe it was the most important 2.5 years in our lives.
I know that Micah is going to have great improvments over the next few years while he's on this program. He is so young and his brain is still so pliable. As his brain grows, more connections will be made thanks to all the input that Stephanie is doing everyday with this program. I am excited to be able to be a part in helping with that. I will have to keep Micah in my daily prayers, and also pray for his mom to stay strong through it all. Whoever is reading this, please pray for Micah. Pray that his brain continues to heal and develope normally. And pray for Stephanie. She's got a long road ahead of her.
Micah and his special mommy!

Look at that sweet face!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Gram

This is a photo of my grandma holding Andrew. It was taken in July of last year. She passed away in March of this year. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real that she's actually gone. Sometimes for a split second I will have a thought that I need to call her about something, then as quickly as the thought entered my mind it is replaced with the knowledge that she died. Her birthday is August 5th and she would have been 83 years old this month. She used to call Andrew "Little Goober" and I don't quite know how she came up with that name for him. She saw him about a month before she died and couldn't believe how big he had gotton. She said, "Who is that? That's not little Andrew, is it?" I took him with me when I went to visit her in the hospital. Looking back on that day, I'm so glad I had him with me. It really made her happy to see him. She was an awesome grandmother and I miss her so much. I wish we could make phonecalls to Heaven. I would like to talk to my gram a few times a week just to report to her what's going on with our family. Just to hear her voice. I know she is always with us in spirit, but it's just not good enough, you know? The hardest thing about life is death, and I'm not talking about our own. I'm talking about being left behind to miss those who have passed before us. That's the hardest part about life -- going on after the death of those we have bonded to. I'm thankful that I had my gram with me for 37.5 years. Some people don't even have a grandmother, so I know that I have been very blessed. But still, knowing that doesn't make it any easier when I miss her.

I want my hubby home!

August has 31 days, right? I've got my calendar out in front of me and here is what I see -- "O.T" marked in a circle on 9 days, which means "overtime" which are 24 hour shifts that Rich works on top of his normal 24 hour shifts at the fire department. So then, including his 9 days of overtimes this month, he also works 11 days this month for his regular shift. So then that is 20 days at work, away from us. TWENTY 24 hour shifts. Only home 11 days with us, here and there, scattered throughout the month. When Aislynn (2 and a half years old) talks to her daddy on the phone lately she says, "Daddy...home." It's so sad. The other day at his work picnic I left for home before Rich and some of the big kids because it was getting late, and Aislynn ran up to Rich and said, "Daddy. Come home." And he said, "I am. I'm coming home later tonight." and she just looked up and said, "Come home now." Rich and I just looked at each other and we both thought the same thing: We have to do something to fix this.

I really wish Rich didn't have to work so darn hard to support our family. The cost of living out here is so high, and his job isn't something that he can transfer to another state. We basically are stuck here. I love where I live, but if I could I would move to a state where we could sell this house, take the profit and buy another house without a mortgage payment. It would be worth it to have him home more.

I married a hard worker, and for that I am grateful. I have been able to stay at home with my children for the past 15 years. That is a dream come true for me, and it is Rich's main priority -- to provide enough so that I do not have to work outside the home.

In my "spare" time I am working hard to build my Arbonne business so that my kids will have a dad home more than he is at work. I just have one more promotion to go before I will make that possible! Once I am an RVP (the next level after Area Manager, which is what I am now) Rich will not have to take any overtimes in the month!! That will make such a difference in our family life. Some people wonder how in the world I manage to do a home business while still tending to eight kids, homeschooling, and running the house. It's easy -- I do it because not to do it would mean that nothing around here would change. I've learned that if you want something different you need to do something different. It will be worth all the hard work I'm doing now. Rich is worth it. My kids are worth it. Hey, even I'm worth it -- I want my husband home!

I give a lot of credit to military wives -- I don't know how they do it when their husbands get shipped out for months or years at a time!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Soccer Camp

Both Alex and A.J. participated in a A.Y.S.O Soccer Camp this week. They went from 9am - 12pm each day. Our luck -- it was the summer's hottest week this week, with tempertures in the high 90's all week long. The boys were so exhausted after the three hours. But they brought plenty of water to drink, and they made friends, and they learned some soccer skills. So it was all good! Alex holds up his certificate.

A.J. runs for the ball...

A.J. holds his certificate in his team photo
and here's A.J. taking a much needed rest!

My Little Man

Andrew has been so darn cute lately! We all just have so much fun with this little guy. He's so curious about everything, and so eager to join in with what everyone around him is doing. I'm just soaking in every second of his babyhood, because I know how quickly these months go by. At the end of this month Andrew will be 14 months old already..and it seems like just yesterday I was holding him as a newborn.

Nature Boy playing with the garden hose in our backyard!

And here's Daddy the Fireman showing his boy how to hold the hose properly, of course, for when he's older and needs to put out a fire!

Monday, August 13, 2007

My Horse

Here is my ninth child, Shay. His real name is O Chez Mocha, but I just call him "Shay" for short. Sometimes I call him Shayboy. He's so sweet! He's a 3 year old Arabian. I bought him when he was just 12 months old. I had him down in the stables near me for about 10 months, and then I sent him to a pasture where he could run and play and grow up a bit. Soon he will be moved to my friend Katherine's property with her horses, and I can visit him more often there. I still have to get him trained to ride. Not to mention I need lessons myself! I've never had a horse and wasn't around them much as a child, but you know how little girls always want a horse...well, that was me. It has always been on my "list of things to do before I die" (owning a horse) and so now Shay is a member of our family and we love him so much.
He's a bit on the small side. I keep hoping he'll grow taller, but because of his breeding (he's an Egyptian Arabian) he's not going to be too tall. But he's still got about 3 more years of slow growth, so maybe I'll get another inch or two out of him. Who knows. He's still a cutie pie!

He's got the sweetest face!
See his short, nubby tail? It used to be so long and pretty...but then some horse on the pasture ate it. Actually, there were a bunch of horses with their tails chewed off, and it was easy to see who the culprit was -- the horse with the LONG tail. Now Shay is with other horses and his tail will have a chance to grow back again. It will probably take a full year to get it to the length it used to be!
Here is Rich in the round pen with Shay -- Rich is NOT a horse-person at all, but bless his heart, he tries. Whenever Shay gets close to him, Rich gets all nervous. It's funny. I never see Rich uncomfortable or nervous in any situation, except with a big horse is standing next to him. One time when I first got Shay and he was down at the stable, I used to have to clean his stall out. I would do it while Shay was still in the stall. One time Rich offered to do it for me...he insisted, actually. So I let him. Well, he accidentally poked Shay in the leg with the pitch fork and Shay started to freak out, as he was not used to Rich in the first place, never mind getting poked by him with the fork, and Rich backed into the corner and started yelling, "Treene! Treene! Call off your horse, Treene!" and I swear I never laughed so hard.
On Sunday Rich and I took the kids to visit Shay and that's when these photos were taken. Shay really loves the kids. They run around the round pen and he will run with them. He's a gentle horse and always lets them pet him.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Life Doesn't Slow Down -- ever!

The older I get the more I learn...and what I've come to realize lately is that life does not slow down. There is no way to catch up. I feel like I am always five steps behind around here. I have a "to do" list about a mile long, and things keep getting added to it! Don't get me wrong, I'm not really complaining about it. Rather, I've just accepted it. It's a lot easier that way than to fight it. I am just accepting that things will always be left on the "back burner" for me to get to when I have time. And if it's not at the top five on the priority list, then it's very likely that I will never get to it. But still, nonetheless, it remains on that list...sorta hanging over my head as an "incomplete" in my brain's file system. ((I have A LOT of incompletes lately.))

On Tuesday I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah, to do an Arbonne presentation with a team that I am starting up out there. I was supposed to catch the 6:45am flight back home the next day so that I'd be home here at 7:30 and have the whole day to spend with Rich and the kids -- but I missed that flight. (long story....) Anyway, the next flight out wasn't until 3:00pm. So there I was in the Salt Lake City airport at 6:45 in the myself...and had to wait some 8 hours until my flight leaves. Eight hours in an airport? I thought I might go crazy. So I walked around a bit. Then I sat for a while and people watched. Then I went to the little store and got a book to read, and I read for a while. Then I looked at the clock. It was 8am. Man, if felt like at least three hours, but it had only been an hour and fifteen minutes??!!! That's crazy. So right about that time, a nice lady who worked there at the airport saw me walking around again and told me about a shuttle service -- a FREE shuttle service -- that comes by the airport and takes people to downtown Salt Lake City to Temple Square. So I thought, well why not?! I have to pass the time anyway. So I took the shuttle into town, and then I went on a tour of the Mormon Temple. It was very interesting! I had the sweetest missionary girls for tour guides. One was from Sweeden and the other from South Korea. The grounds were so pretty, flowers everywhere. And the temple was really a pretty sight. After the half hour tour, I walked around a bit myself. I didn't have a camera and I thought I should really take some pictures of myself here because this was the very first time that I ever ventured out into a new city by myself -- and the first time I had ever taken a tour by myself. I felt like a grown-up! So I left the Temple grounds and went outside into the business of the city streets and walked, walked, walked for about 15 minutes until I found a small market. I bought a disposable camera and walked all the way back to the Temple. Then I stopped poeple wherever I was and asked them to take a picture of me. I have some really cool shots of me with the Temple behind me, of me near some cool statues, of me next to a very nice chapel, and I caught up with those two tour guides and posed in a picture next to them, too. Then when the shuttle came to pick me up again, I asked someone to take a picture of me and the shuttle driver standing next to the shuttle bus van (which, by the way, was the same exact van that I drive at home!!) Anyway, too bad the pictures aren't digital or else I'd post them here. When I got back to the airport, it was time to check in for my flight. Everything worked out as it should have. I turned what could have been a long, boring, wasted day in an airport into something very interesting and educational.... and a memory for me!! They say when life gives you lemons, you need to find a way to make lemonade :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Me? On the cover??

Okay, don't laugh...but there's a local magazine that wants to do a story on me. Of course the topic is having a large family. I swear, our family is a novelty around here. It's so rare that anyone has more than 3 children where I live.

At first I didn't know how to feel about the idea, and I wasn't going to go through with it. But then I thought, hmmmm....this magazine will be circulated to all of the homes all over our entire can I make the best use of that publicity? I think it could be a great opportunity to get the word out about carseat safety and Kyle's foundation. I am going to mention that and provide Kyle's website. I also will be mentioning the little 11 month old baby, Micah, who is severely brain injured and needs volunteers to help his mother with his daily therapy program (the same program that we did on Audriana many years ago!) He lives in our county and I'm going to be helping with his therapy but we need many more what a great way to help that family as well. I'll also mention my Arbonne business and the products -- hopefully I will get more clients and consultants on my team. My goal with Arbonne is to make enough money so that 1) Rich can stop working overtimes and be home more with our family, and 2) to donate enough to Kyle's foundation to ensure that there is never a waiting list for carseat recipients!!

They came last week to do the photo shoot at our house. Below are some of the pictures that will be in the article:
This one will be the cover of the magazine, and below it will read: "Meet Katrina...."
They wanted to highlight our homeschooling.....

I love this group shot of me and the kids!
And of course the shot of them all in their carseats in our 15 passenger van!! This photo is important to me because it will coincide with the mention of Kyle's foundation and the importance of extended rear-facing and extended 5-point harnessing.

I'm a bit embarrasssed that this magazine will have my face on the cover -- what will the neighbors think??!!!!

Our "Family Closet"

I am forever trying to create a more organized way of living in our crazy home, and this is my newest idea! (Rich is not too supportive of it yet, but I know once I prove how well it works, he will see that I have *yet again come up with a brilliant idea!)

Introducing...the Family Closet! How it works: This cubby system is right next to our laundry I wash, dry, fold, then step to the side and put all clothing away in the correct cubby (each kid has their own cubby) Soon they will have drawers for pants and shorts, but already there is a sock and underwear basket right above the shoes...and Rich will soon install one rod for each cubby so that we can hang shirts and dresses. They also have a shelf for personal items and hooks for purses and backpacks. The kids come down each morning and go to their cubby, select their clothes for the day (some dress right in there while others just take their clothes back to their rooms to dress) This system makes life easier for ME by 1) no longer do clothes get put away by kids which ensures that nothing is in the wrong drawer or closet which eliminates lost clothing, only to be found months later when it no longer fits the person it belongs to!! 2) there are no clothes in their rooms...which reduces the amount of laundry I do...because kids are always throwing clean clothes on the floor and guess where they always end up? That's the dirty clothes pile! 3) I wash, dry, fold and put away right in the same room! No more endless trips up and down the stairs. No more calling the kids to "come get your laundry and put it away in the RIGHT place!" 4) there are no messy drawers upstairs with clothing shoved so tightly in them that you cannot even open it up!

So here is the picture of our new system....the drawers are not in yet, nor the rod for hanging clothes, but you can get the idea!