Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Day

I had to get myself together to be ready for Christmas morning, in light of Christmas Eve. I slept well, but woke up tired and one of my first thoughts was hoping that Mom still felt better. My concern was that the medicine would wear off and she would be back to where she was. I didn't even text Dad. I put it aside and focused on my family. (Patting myself on the back. lol)

The children and I woke up at 7 and Daddy told the children they could wake him up at 8:30. So by the time I was getting texts from friends asking how my Christmas was--we were just starting to open gifts! I tell the children it is Daddy's job to make them wait and almost die of anticipation on Christmas morning. My Dad did the same thing to us!

Honestly, I didn't feel that great about how our gift giving went. It was more children directed than parent directed. The age differences in the children really showed. Once Isaiah opened one gift he wanted to open ALL the gifts and the concept of this is yours, but the other ones are not was difficult.

Aliza, Josiah and Anna wanted to GIVE their gifts to each other first. There were lots of hugs.
Anna picked out a Nerf gun for Josiah and Josiah picked out the same Nerf gun for Isaiah. That was pretty cute to watch unfold. You should see Isaiah run around with Josiah.

I try not to make a big deal about what we give our children for Christmas, but this time I'm making an exception. There was only one thing that Aliza REALLY wanted. It was the most popular toy this year and not to be found in stores anywhere--a Hatchimal. We told her that we would not be able to get that for her, but it might be a possibility for her birthday in March. She didn't fuss, but there really wasn't anything else that she got very excited about. I didn't know what I was going to do until one morning Jeremy called me. He said, "I bid on a Hatchimal on ebay. I really didn't think it would happen, but I won the bid." I couldn't bring myself to ask him how much he spent. He told me and the rest of the day I fluctuated between feeling guilty over the price and giddy over how excited Aliza would be.

The week before Christmas Aliza had a dream that she got a Hatchimal for Christmas. The night before Christmas she was still hoping that maybe she would get a Hatchimal, but knowing that there really wasn't any chance that she would. Her reaction did not disappoint.

As soon as Anna realized that Aliza got a Hatchimal she burst into tears because "it was not fair." My heart was split--one girl was so excited and my other girl was so sad. Anna got over it in a reasonable amount of time and Aliza generously shared the hatching experience with Anna. I understood Anna's disappointment, but I thought we did pretty well in choosing a gymnastics balance beam for her. (It's foam--4 inches off high and 4 feet long)

I didn't see this one coming though--Isaiah rejected the Tonka tractor we gave him and all he wanted was what we gave Josiah! Isaiah loved tearing wrapping paper and he just wanted more and more and just wanted to be in what all the other kids were doing.

Honestly, I loved giving the children gifts, but the process of all the emotions was not very much fun. All morning I had someone super happy and excited and someone else in sad tears.

I did check in with Dad after our gifts and Mom was feeling good when she woke up. Not up to par--she had a lot of medicine pumped in to her the night before, but they invited us to come to their house for leftover supper and to open our gifts. It was good. I took more pictures that I usually get to since it was a smaller group. Like Mom said--it just wasn't what we had planned and hoped for. Isaiah was happy with the truck his Grandma and Grandad gave him--that was nice to see!
We had Christmas devotions for church--carols, the Christmas story, prayer and sharing. I had a lot going on in my heart on Christmas. Thinking about Mary the mother of Jesus in light of the Bible study we just finished about her. Remembering people close to us and around the world who are hanging on to the HOPE of Christmas, but not celebrating the extravagance of Christmas like we did. Then we had a birthday party for Jesus. Mom found the cutest plates, cups and napkins that said Happy Birthday Jesus. We lit candles, sang Happy Birthday and ate cake and ice cream...and Christmas cookies. Isaiah's little voice chimed right in on Happy Birthday.

The depth of my appreciation of having so much the most important things in life continues to deepen--married parents and siblings, strong, healthy family relationships, faith. Just by our little "messed up" Christmas celebration I found out that I love my parents, grandparents, siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews more than I thought I did. We don't just "pass on the road" to do our duty to show up at our parents house on a holiday. I genuinely enjoy being with them. I value the role they play in my life and I'm pretty sure they value the role I play in theirs.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Christmas Eve that Wasn't

Sheats Christmas is always a bit of a scheduling miracle. Seven households, work schedules, nurse work schedules--we pick our day months in advance and pretty much nothing changes it. Christmas Eve was our day this year.

Gifts, food, napping sleeping bag for Isaiah, change of clothes and who knows what else was loaded in the car. The kids were excited. I was happy to be heading "home" for Christmas. We walked in the door to a chorus of "Merry Christmas" and then the next sentence as I'm putting down a pile of things--"Mom is sick." My heart drops. Tears come to the surface.

(When Mom is sick, it's not a viral thing. It happens sometimes that she gets really bad sinus headaches. It seems like it happens more recently and at more inopportune times. She is seeking treatment but the right combination hasn't been found yet.)

Janell and I go through the motions of getting our ham dinner on the table. It's just not right, though, to have Christmas and open gifts from your Mom and Dad when Mom is sick in bed. Everyone was at the table eating and I look up at Janell and say, "Hey, is immediate care open? I bet we could get Mom in there, get some pain medicine and she could at least sit up and watch us open gifts." Janell checked the hours on her phone. We had 1.5 hours until it closed. Dad was all for it and wished us good luck in convincing Mom to go.

Mom is a leave-me-alone-and-don't-touch-or-talk-to-me sick person. So Janell and I entered her room with a bit of trepidation. I said, "Mom, we are taking you to Doc's In." Janell added the part about we want you to get some pain medication and feel better. Mom opened one eye, looked at us, and said, "I guess this is non-negotiable." Yup. Pretty much.

Doc's In is 5 minutes from their house. We drove up and groaned. There was an ambulance in front of the door, the parking lot was full and the door was locked an hour before they were closing. I called ahead to the next closest immediate care 20 minutes north. They had only 1 person in the waiting room.

When we got there the waiting room was empty. Janell and I walk up to register. We proudly hand them the insurance card and they ask for photo ID. We picked up Mom's purse thinking it had everything we needed,]; however, Mom keeps her driver's license in her nursing bag when she works and she had worked the day before. We did not have photo ID. Janell asked them if we could please have someone text us a picture of her ID. No, they had to be able to scan it. Well, could they please start treatment while I went to get the ID? No. So Janell stayed with Mom and filled out the paperwork. I drove south while Dad drove north with the ID and we met in the middle. By the time I had the ID in my hand they were tired of someone so miserable sitting in their waiting room that Janell called me for a picture and they took Mom back. When I arrived the doctor was already in the room. They gave her a shot of the strongest pain/nausea stuff they had and Janell and I vultures...waiting to see if it was going to work. It didn't and our plan crumbled. Doc strongly recommended that we go on to ER to get help. I guess at that point Mom just wanted to feel better and Janell and I just wanted her to feel better, but honestly I'm not sure what possessed us to continue on our journey. We went to ER.

We were finished with ER triage at 3:00. I'll sum up the next 2.5 hours for you quickly...we sat in the waiting area. Mom rated her pain as 10 and sat doubled over and cold that whole time. It was a terrible feeling. Mom in pain and horribly miserable her don't-talk-to-me-don't-touch-me policy didn't change. Janell and I getting sadder by the minute as we watched our Sheats Christmas slip away. I was the crier. Janell was tough.

Finally, Mom got a bed and warm blankets. It took another good long while before the Doctor came in. By then the rest of the family had headed home and Dad came up to be with Mom so that Janell and I could go home.

Janell took me home. Janell and I sort of laughed at ourselves and our great plan to save our Mom--and Christmas. Yup, we are a great team. I come up with a plan and Janell promptly helps me execute it. The team is now called Team Vulture!

I was just about sobbing when I walked in house and I promptly had two girls join me. Josiah was a close third. The ones waiting at the house didn't have any less disappointment to deal with. Those that were going away for the weekend gave gifts. So it worked out that Josiah and Aliza opened a gift, but Anna didn't. Aliza was crying because she didn't want to open a gift without me and Grandma and Anna was crying because she didn't get to open a gift. Jeremy was not in a good mood. It was horrible to come home to. Then I found it to be necessary to call all of my sisters and Gramma to check on them and make sure that there weren't any hard feelings about the afternoon. (There weren't. Everyone was very happy for Mom to get help.) It took hours to get the children and myself settled down. I found out pretty quickly that Mom was improving and that helped.

About 9:30 Mom was on her way home very tired, but pain free.

My immediate challenge was to put this day behind me to pull off a fabulous Christmas morning for my family. Stay tuned....that post will have pictures!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Scrapbook Bookshelf

Jeremy offered to wrap my Christmas present, but I opted for early installation. I've had my eye on a bookcase for my scrapbooks and I couldn't have been happier when one showed up on my doorstep. =)

I stayed out of the way, however, I couldn't help peeking in once in a while. Here's how it worked: Jeremy sat with the instruction book and coached Josiah, Aliza and Anna through the building process.
Jeremy is a great teacher and very patient.

Aliza was beyond thrilled to help me move the scrapbooks on to the shelves. Top left corner is wedding, Africa and 1st years of marriage. Then Aliza, Josiah, Anna and Isaiah each have a box. Second row, right box starts yearly family albums and are arranged by year.
I love it! I can tell that my scrapbooks are much happier to have a home than being stacked beside a bookcase. =) Said bookcase now has a couple free shelves and the printed blog books now have a home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Shopping with My Kids

The older children get really excited about a shopping trip with Mom to pick out presents with their siblings. I really enjoy watching them plan and choose and this year I cherished their individuality and my time with them.

Weeks ahead of time, Aliza starts thinking of ideas for every person she wants to buy a gift for. (She is the only one that includes all of her grandparents.) Once the idea process has started it is all she wants to talk about. Every moment that she has me alone she goes over all her people and her ideas--over and over. As we are driving to the store Aliza is still gathering ideas and stressing over the few that she can't figure out. I lead through the store. Aliza doesn't stop talking. Any gift idea that I point out or suggest is rejected because then the gift would be from me not her. We didn't walk around the store too many time before she was successful. Aliza is super excited to GIVE her gifts. I was a grinch, though, because I wouldn't wrap with her as soon as we got home!

Anna was next. Anna was excited to go SHOPPING. She walked into the store and held the door open for a lady who was coming out. We picked a small cart and Anna insisted on pushing the cart. She decided to put her coat on the lower part of the cart and presents in the top part. Anna pushed that cart up and down the aisles like she was way older than 6 years old. Anna had a special outing at open gym earlier in the day that I hadn't heard about yet so I asked her questions. She gladly answered my questions, but didn't talk constantly. Anna picked out her gifts easily. It took her a bit to find just the right thing for Aliza but when she did she was thrilled. Anna carried her bags of gifts and skipped back to the car singing "I've got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart..."

When Josiah and I are in the car alone I let him sit up front with me--because he will talk to me. I've noticed that while I'm chatting with Josiah he asks lots of "how" questions. How do you pay for a house? How does this or that work. Often I don't have good answers! And between the questions he fills me in on how his games work and how people can write scripts for games and how he would like to write a game. Shopping with Josiah is pretty straight forward. He picked out his gifts easily and wanted to look at the boy toys a little extra. The girls kind of dominate any time that we walk the toy aisles--which is rare! Josiah will ask me what I think about a gift. Once a gift is in the cart he is satisfied--no second guessing!

All of their gifts are wrapped and in hiding places. I don't trust Isaiah to keep gifts wrapped under the tree so we will just wait a couple more years for that.

Friday, December 9, 2016

More Festive Fun

I didn't realize how many Christmassy things we have done until I went back and looked at the pictures. We celebrated my Gramma's 84th birthday and decorated gingerbread men in the same afternoon. Here's a rare picture of most of the children with their great-grandparents.
Decorating gingerbread was a strangely calm experience. I guess most of the kids are growing up! We didn't even have any mountains of frosting on the cookies.
Isaiah did use plenty of sprinkles. This was his first year decorating gingerbread men.
I have no explanation for Anna's choice of attire. The girls were very excited to help make our Christmas pretzel treats.
Isaiah got involved with putting the M&Ms on after the kisses were melted. He didn't burn himself which I was thankful for. I then hid the tray until we decorated the tree.
This year I decided to get out all of my tree decorations. I hadn't seen them since we've had children. It was pretty fun to rediscover all of the treasures. Anna was very excited to take everything out of the box.
I'd be lying if I painted this to be a lovely experience. The children were over-the-top-annoying excited. Think running around, loud, bouncing (jumping?) on the couch. They felt they could do everything by themselves and the pieces of the tree came out of the box and they were trying to put it together. It was chaos and Jeremy and I did not handle it gracefully. Then we realized that we only had one working strand of lights so a trip to the store was required before we could decorate the tree. No one could quite understand why lights needed to go on before decorations.
Lights were acquired and Jeremy and Aliza put lights on the tree.
In no time at all the decorations were on the tree.

Here's a gem that Jeremy painted when he was a boy.
This week was our last CBS class until January. The children read a poem and sang a couple songs and then the adults had a beautiful potluck luncheon. The big kids read a Christmas poem. This was the first time Josiah read in public and it made me very happy. He did a great job.
Anna and Isaiah did not participate. Anna stayed with her teacher which is an improvement over past years. This time the program was at a time when the children needed to return to their class so I was trying very hard to not make eye contact with Isaiah. He cried when he saw Aliza and then was fine with a teacher holding him.
A gal from my core group that I've been wanting to get to know found me and we chose a table on a side where we could kindof keep to ourselves and talk. We talked as fast as we could and I completely lost track of time. I didn't leave until 12:15--when Aliza's dance class starts! Oops. Aliza wasn't sure it was even worth going to class, but we did and she was glad because she got to see of a picture of her recital costume and they learned the first part of the recital dance.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Joy Dare::November

 3879. Aliza and Josiah playing together
3880. School in the tree
 3881. Watching Anna do gymnastics
3882. One more comfortably warm day
3883. Unexpected Trades of Hope successes today
3884. The way the children greet their Daddy When he walks in the door each evening
3885. All 4 enjoying being together outside
3886. Beautiful leaves
3887. Time alone with Isaiah
3888. Josiah's first sea fishing trip
 3889. The girls had a great time watching Beauty and the Beast play
3890. The house was quiet. Isaiah was napping so I did too.
3891. Hanging out with Laura and Linda this evening
3892. Such a fun day everyone is having a hard time settling down
3893. An extra hour makes a long morning
3894. Planning ahead is rewarding but hard work
3895. Zephaniah 3:17
3896. Early start this morning
3897. The moment when I felt bad for being rough in my teaching direction
3898.Visiting with my Great Aunt
3899. My identity and security is not tied to whose in government
3900. Feeling a lot of compassion for so many broken hearted people
3901. Having some big conversations with our daughter
3902. Just enough energy to do everything I needed to do today
3903. Anna's night of ear pain was not an ear infection
3904. So much excitement over sleeping at Uncle Joel and Aunt Brandi's house
3905. My special time::cereal and tea at Christie's house
3906. An adult dinner to celebrate their 40 years of marriage
3907. The children had a great evening with a wonderful babysitter
3908. Isaiah got a good nap this afternoon
3909. Trying out my lularoe leggings Christmas gift
3910. Brandi's makeup, boots and shirt this weekend. She covered up my packing fails.
3911. Isaiah slept late so I did some Bible study this morning
3912. The whole Heslop family sitting together in church
3913. Thanksgiving dinner (early) and saying what we are thankful for
3914. A safe, quick trip home
3915. A chance meeting with an acquaintance in the grocery store and just enough time for a visit there in the aisle
3916. Aliza pointed out the gift in what seemed like a lot of wasted time
3917. Laughter
3918. Our own beds
3919. The owners of our dance studio showed amazing respect and courtesy to me today
3920. Chai made the afternoon a lot better
3921. Ezra had so much fun and we loved having him here
3922. Listening to Josiah
3923. Apple crisp in the oven which makes the house smell so good
3924. Lunch date with Jan, my mom and a booth full of kiddos
3925. Jeremy to got to play golf and get home in time for me to take Aliza to dress rehearsal alone
3926. Getting to call Meghan and my grandparents to tell them that I was given free tickets for them to come to Aliza's concert
3927. My best cleaning tactic--clean while having a really great phone conversation
3928. Loved watching Aliza sing in a large children's choir
3929. Sunday morning breakfasat
3930. I got a nap while Jeremy went to Aliza's choir performance
3931. 5 minutes in the car, just me and Jeremy, counts as a date
3932. Followed a whim and made my friend cry over pizza
3933. Gave Anna free reign to decorate her birthday cake
3934. Anna played with her birthday present all day
3935. Josiah setting off on his own adventure
3936. Playing at Coco's, getting nails painted and pizza--the requested birthday outing
3937. It was a rough day on the water but Josiah came home happy
3938. A chance to visit with my Dad
3939. My growing up boy caught a shark and saw a whale
3940. Beautiful day to remember all I am thankful for
3941. Sitting at my parents table surrounded by family
3942. A trip to WV with no traffic
3943. Isaiah getting so excited when he saw Grandma and Grandpa's house
3944. My mother-in-law worked 3 nights in a row, slept for a few hours and still graciously welcomed us
3945. Thanksgiving dinner that I could *almost* taste this time. (I've had a cold.) Sitting around the table talking after eating
3946. Moments like these:
3947. A healthy new nephew arrived!
3948. Making the most of quick lunches with far away friends
3949. Sometimes my husband is the voice of conviction I need
3950. Aliza and I got to hold baby Sean
3951. I looked over and Isaiah was laying right beside Anna trying his best to do leg lifts with her
3952. A really fun evening at the parade
3953. A good trip to the library means walking out with almost more books than you can carry
3954. Leftover Thanksgiving dinner for supper
3955. Neighbors looking out for each other
3956. Last day of November was warm enough for a walk in flip flops.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Festive Start to the Season

The way we had to rush supper and out of the house and then be detoured around a traffic accident, it looked like the evening was going to be a bust. We continued on, parked and walked down the parade route to meet Janell's family and Dad to pass out Christmas books to children waiting for the parade to start. We passed out 50 books in no time and found a place to chat and watch the parade. It turned out that all 6 children loved the parade, the air was cool but reasonably comfortable and there was no wind. So we stayed.
Renee took it upon herself to be Isaiah's buddy. She taught him to wave at every float and say "Merry Christmas." I was enthralled. His legs were kicking and he waved and waved.
Anna wasn't so sure about the lights and drums so she hung out in my arms for a while. She warmed up eventually. We were at the beginning of the parade route so the kids ended up with lots of candy too! This is definitely one of my best Pocomoke Parade memories.
Last month the children and I really enjoyed Thanksgiving picture books. I was anxiously waiting for the #readaloudrevival picture book list to be published. It was a long list and our library had a whole bunch of them so I just checked them out and put a bunch on hold. If you figure that we read at least 3 each night (Aliza, Josiah and Anna each pick one) the pile gets read very quickly!
Aliza is asking if we are doing Advent this year. I haven't quite decided.