Thursday, September 29, 2011

Family Meeting for Sept 12-18 2011 by Gabrielle

We had an extremely fun and exciting after-meeting-game to play, so we started off getting the girls pumped up about that, though we didn't disclose the exact game itself.

Best and Worst

Best: Artsfest
Worst: homework

Best: Finished putting up all the photos in the lobby of Gymnastics Sport Center. I printed pictures of the team girls and hung the photos up in 8x10 and 4x6 frames. The lobby turned out pretty well, if I say so myself.
Worst: started feeling sick

Best: playing in the "pit" at gymnastics while I was working in the lobby hanging up pictures
Worst: getting sick and having a fever

Best: going to the library and getting books
Worst: Briar being sick

Best: Going to gymnastics THREE times in the week
Worst: hurting her ankle

Best: hanging out with Chanti all day (Artsfest, Panera Bread, shopped for work clothes, looked at vacation homes in Florida)
Worst: pain under rib cage still hurts after three days

Other highlights of the week:
-Rob wrote a tremendous paper for his composition class
-We finally picked which rental house to get in FL for our vacation
-Rob and I went out to get coffee and got to talk amongst ourselves
-Jude thought open gym was fun!
-Rob's Halloween costume is coming together
-Both Rob and I are doing great on our weight and physiques

To end the meeting we talked about a possible Christmas project we might do.

After the meeting ended, we played a game. It was based off of the "fishing" games you see at carnivals. We pretended the kitchen table was a boat and the girls were in the boat. Rob and I were under the table and had toys and candy that we would hook onto the fishing lines via clothes pins. Fun was had by all involved. With the lights turned low, we started our game. Here are some photos:

Rob handing out the "fishing poles". He created each one custom made with the girls' animals on them

Jude's had a frog
Zoë's had a duck

Briar's had a butterfly

Scout's had a lady bug

Rob's and my view from under the table. This was Briar's line
One of the prizes Jude got: a skeleton thingie

Scout got a balloon

Zoë got a rat

Briar with her Jack-O'-Lantern she caught

They even caught a DADDY!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Can Only Imagine... by Gabrielle

I have been purposefully avoiding any September 11th anniversary news. It's still devastating for me after all these 10 years. This morning I woke up and realized that I was wrong. I should absolutely dive into the deluge of memories. It's my small way of paying respects to those who died on that day. I felt the need to rekindle and renew the memories of the tragedy to keep them where they are still tangible.

While working out this morning, I chose to listen to a "Fresh Air" podcast about the 9/11 events.They interviewed a man who is a firefighter and had lost his two brothers who were firefighters working in the WTC when it collapsed. Another interview was with a firefighter who was in the second tower that collasped. He and all of his men were on the fourth floor when it happened. They all survived.  As I was putting on my make-up I chose the  "Stuff You Should Know" podcast titled "How the World Trade Center Memorial Works". 

Listening to these podcasts brought me back 10 years ago to age 20. I found myself tearing up as I listened to personal losses and tragedies, but also paid especially close attention to the tremendously important triumphs. I paused the  "Stuff You Should Know" podcast, and was inspired to write a journal entry.

There are few days that I remember as if they were only yesterday (in fact, I may even remember it better than yesterday as far as minute by minute reporting goes). We all have our stories of where we were and what point in our lives we were at. It had only been a month or two since Rob and I had lost our first baby. The miscarriage is another one of those memories seared into my brain for as long as I will live. We were going through a tremendous amount of heartache at the time. 

Rob had gone out of town to a conference in Indianapolis on Sunday, September 9th. He flew out with his boss and some co-workers. When they landed, his boss picked up a rental car because he was going to be driving out of Indianapolis to meet another client on Tuesday, September 11th. 

The morning of September 11th I went to work as usual. When I was driving on I-35, I was listening to 980 KMBZ. I always listened to that station in the morning since it was all news and talk; I hate to listen to music stations in the morning because the songs end up in my head all day. They interrupted the standard news to mention that a plane had hit one of the towers of the WTC, but they weren't sure if it was a commercial plane or a private one. Before this happened, I really didn't know that much about the WTC so it was hard for me to really gauge what was going on. Once I got into work, I heard about the second tower. We knew something was going on at this point. Then the Pentagon was hit. Then Pennsylvania. This was all too much. My boss had a TV in his office and we watched the minute by minute updates.

I got Rob on the phone. With him out of town and all the flights being grounded, we discussed the possible options. His boss had already left Indianapolis in his rental car, but was going to drive back, pick him and his co-workers up, cram them all into the car, and drive back to Kansas. I was so very relieved that his boss had rented that car. By this point, all the cars had been rented because of the cancelled flights and he would have been stranded if it hadn't been for that.

In my mind, I was so lost. The horrendousness of the entire disgusting evil situation was so unbelievable. Our bosses gave us the choice to leave work early. I took them up on their offer. I couldn't get any work done after what had happened. Everything that mattered days before at work seemed so frivolous. What was the point? 

Arriving home, I turned on the news. I sat and cried for hours on end. How frightened the people that were in the towers and on the planes must have been. The tremendous worry their families must have felt.  With the TV on, I continued to sit alone in our living room with my thoughts. I don't think I can express in mere words the sorrow I felt. 

Rob came home later in the evening, maybe around bedtime. I never wanted to let him go. 

My story pales in comparison with anyone who experienced 9/11 directlyI thought I'd share it though, if only to put it in writing and it add to the collective consciousness.

What would it have been like if I had to go through 9/11 and had my 8, 7, and two 4 years old daughters by my side? Trying to explain something so unexplainable to children is nigh impossible. The hate the terrorists had is so foreign to a child's mind. I even have difficulty telling them about it now 10 years later whenever it happens to come up in school. I can only imagine what it must have been like to watch the terrible events unfold  like so many mothers and fathers did with their children that September day 10 years ago.

We don't have a TV, so my girls haven't been exposed to the video on the news/TV specials, and I've refrained from showing them the images online. I know the twins wouldn't understand it at all and would be frightened. They have no idea what "10 years ago" is and I fear they might think it's happening now if I were to show them. I've been going back and forth in my mind on whether or not I should show it to Zoë and Jude. It is apart of history and is something that many children their ages witnessed. Alas, I think I'll save them the horror for just a bit longer.

The best I can do is cherish my family and life, honor the memories of the deceased, and hope that the world never has to suffer another tragedy like 9/11.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rob Has Goals

I haven't posted anything for a long time, which is mostly because I have been spending my free time doing things like school work.  I decided to share a very personal and very lengthy paper which I have wrote back in July in order to put down in black and white what I'm doing with all of these personal goal things, and why.  When I wrote it I felt like I needed to put some definition around what was going on in my mind regarding self-improvement and life in general.  I have a lot to say about how I feel I should spend my time and energy, and I imagine there is something inspiring in there that someone else on the internet might stumble upon.  So, without further adieu, follow this link or click on the "Rob Has Goals" link under "Pages" on the right side of the blog.

Family Meeting Wrap Up: Aug 29-Sept 4 by Gabrielle

I wanted to start this wrap-up with a couple of little tidbits that occurred before the meeting officially started. First off, as we gathered around the kitchen table for the meeting, Scout asked in the most innocent, beautiful, and wishful voice, "Are we going to stay like this forever?" Those are really the things that just melt you. Goodness-gracious-great-balls-of-fire, she is a sweetie. We were also let in on Zoë and Jude's "Secret Handshake". It's funny and quite adorable. We recorded it with the camcorder, so maybe I can post it later, who knows?

Here is the meeting wrap up from our last meeting:

Best: Staying at Chanti's.
Worst: When her school day was finished. I think she's trying to get on my good side...

Gabrielle (Me)
Best: Hanging out at Chanti's. Claire's sister Auntie J and her daughter Emily and Emily's husband Marcus and their baby Marley were in town visiting. They are all tremendously wonderful and the visits always go so splendidly. We really cherish every moment we get the spend with the Smart family and Auntie J. They are a positive force in our lives.
Worst: I had an episode of night paralysis. Just a little info here, when you sleep your brain paralyzes you. It's for your safety, otherwise you'd be acting out your dreams. In sleep paralysis, you wake up so you're seeing the environment around you, but you're still sleeping, so you're paralyzed and still dreaming. It can be terrifying. I want to go into more detail about my experience at some point in a future post and hope to possibly to a "research paper" on it because I find it truly fascinating.

Best: Playing with baby Marley
Worst: Leaving baby Marley

Best: Being with baby Marley (Jude is so motherly and loving with babies)
Worst: Leaving baby Marley

Best: Seeing baby Marley
Worst: Too much homework

Let's cover his Worst first: Had an argument with Gabrielle over his college work and how much time he was spending on doing it
Best: Agreements were made and discussion occurred that caused positive results and changes

Other highlights of the week:
-Jude is getting through the book "Beezus and Ramona" at an accelerated rate
-Jude and Zoë had open gym at gymnastics
-Gabrielle made a blueberry pie for Emily's birthday
-Rob went biking with Joe

We introduced a new item on our weekly agenda: Family Night Out. Every Wednesday night we will go out as a family (but trying not to spend much money). Here are a few ideas:
-Park in the van, put all the seats down, and have a movie night
-Tent camp out
-Star gazing
-Walking "The Strip" around Target
-Going to the library
-Bike rides
-Teach Jude to ride a bike
-Have a picnic instead of dinner
-Go to the library
-Start gardening

Also, during the meeting, we took time to give some tips on how to spell "Grafrath". 

For the last several meetings, when they come to an end, everyone one of us each individually hug, give a kiss, and say, "I love you," to each family member. It's very heartwarming and it is so wonderful to see our children express their love for one another.

After the meeting, we built a tent out of sheets and fans and played the board game "Don't Wake Daddy" inside of the tent. Zoë and Jude won the game.

To end the night, we had a sleeping bag slumber party in the living room. We all slept on the floor. A few hours into it, Rob and I had to throw in the towel and sleep in our own bed. My sciatic nerve was acting up and part of Rob's leg was numb. We're getting too old for sleeping on the floor, but it was fun to participate in the slumber party with the kids.  Before we all fell asleep, we had warned the girls that we would probably end up going into our room and they understood.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Luxury of Having 4 Girls Over the Age of 4 by Gabrielle

Rob and I have been working at our computers for about an hour and a half since we got home from a lovely Chipolte meal with Claire. As I worked, I began to realize that the girls have been awfully quiet and there have been no fights for me to referee in the time that I've been at the computer. My girls get along very well, but this was unusual because there's usually an argument over a toy or something about someone being in someone else's space.

Curiosity got the better of me and I went to check on them. They were all four in Zoë and Jude's room. When I quietly entered the room, they were playing with Lalaloopsy dolls. They all looked up and greeted me with big beautiful smiles on their faces. I said, "I am so proud of you girls. You really have been playing together so well. This is what life's about isn't?  It just makes me so..." but I was unable to finish my thought because Briar interrupted me and made a request, "Can you please leave this room." Scout joined her in the command and said, "Go back into your room, please." I laughed off their requests and started querying them about skating on Saturday. Briar then added, "Go back to your room and work on your computer." She knew that maybe if she gave me the specific mission of working on the computer, I might be coaxed into leaving. 

They said all of this very sweetly and with smiles. I was not at all offended because it actually delighted me. It was their way of saying they didn't want me to spoil the fun. Can I blame them? Not at all. How many times am I in the middle of something and get interrupted only to be frustrated with things that can either wait to be answered or don't even have anything to do with me. They were enjoying their "Sister Time" and there really wasn't any reason I had to stick my nose in it. I am glad that they shared their opinions with me and told me what was on their minds. I can ask them about skating later tonight and I will also remember to compliment them on their outstanding behavior while they were playing in Zoë and Jude's room. That information can wait.

I want to mention that it's pretty cool that I can trust my kids to stay out of trouble for such a long period of time. They really are wonderful kids. I also want to add how freakin' cute it is that Briar and Scout said "please" every time they requested me to leave. Hey, they might be blunt, but my girls are honest and have manners!