Two Tiaras and a Sword

Friday, November 27, 2015

Giving Thanks on the Day After Thanksgiving

Giving thanks.  Gathering together with family. Getting to eat great food.  Three of my favorite things.  Three reasons why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love, love, love Thanksgiving.

This year, for the first time in as long as I can remember, we were out of school for the whole week of Thanksgiving.  So I feel as though we have had a little more time to prepare than we usually do.

Growing up, we always had Thanksgiving and Christmas at home.  We may have traveled around those holidays, but we spent those particular days at home.

After going to college and getting married, things have changed my holidays quite a bit.  Sometimes we are home, but more often than not, on holidays, we are traveling to visit family.

This Thanksgiving was no exception.  I had planned to have Thanksgiving at home.  Just our little family of five.  And I was happy and looking forward to it.  I love getting up early and getting the food prepared for lunch.  I love having the kids help as they wake up and come sleepily down the stairs.  I love home and family and giving thanks for both.  I love playing games after we are all stuffed and sleepy.  I want my kids to remember those things when they think of holidays.

This year, My Prince's aunt invited us to come and have Thanksgiving with her and her and her family and a few other family members.  We decided that since we were home all week, that we would have our Thanksgiving on Wednesday, and then we would travel to her house on Thursday, and do it all over again.  Thanksgiving two days in a row!  You can't beat that!  So we accepted her invitation.

Wednesday, we had our Thanksgiving here at home, and Thursday morning, we got up early and headed over the river and through the woods to the aunt's house about three hours away.

Last summer, we did a missions/service trip to the town where she lives.  The Young Prince had made friends with the homeowner that his group helped as well as her next door neighbor.  He came home talking about how sweet they were and how much he loved them both.  He really wanted to stop by and see them.  He also wanted to take them Thanksgiving Boxes - Our church gives out boxes with all of the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal to those who are in need - And he REALLY wanted to take them each a Thanksgiving Box.

All the church boxes had already been given away, or spoken for, so he came up with a "plan B".  He had received some money for his birthday on Tuesday.  He wanted to use his money to buy the food and make them each a Thanksgiving box.  But since we were driving three hours away, we told him it might be better to just buy them a gift card, and allow them to use it for what they needed the most.  He was happy with that idea, so we stopped on our way and picked up two gift cards.  He wrote them little notes in cards and added the gift cards and we were on our way.  All of us praying that they would be home, because we weren't sure they would be, with it being Thanksgiving.

On the way we stopped once to get everyone a snack.  I asked the two attendants working at the gas station what their favorite candy bars were.  They both told me, and I ran back and grabbed one of each. The man rang us up, and started to put the candy in our bag, and I told him that they were for them.  A little "pick-me-up treat" for having to work on Thanksgiving Day.  We told them it was just a little way of sharing God's love with them.  They were very surprised. We left them both with smiles on their faces.  And smiles on our faces as well.

We made it to The Young Princes's friend's house without having to turn around too many times.  And The Young Prince was so excited he was about to explode.  Thankfully they were both at home and they both remembered The Young Prince and just glowed with the fact that he had actually come back to visit them.  He gave them both their cards and after a picture and a quick visit with each of them, we were on our way to see our family.

The rest of the day was filled with singing, laughter, stories, talk of an upcoming wedding, meeting the fiancĂ©, more laughter, a little bit of silly dancing, piano and guitar playing, joke telling, sharing burdens, struggles and lessons learned, a whole lot of eating,  performing by the kids, talk of elves, sharing pictures of milestone birthday parties and new babies, more laughter, texts to and from family and friends far away, Grinch imitations, sharing recipes, and a phone call and a FaceTime call to family in Ecuador and of course more laughter.  Before we knew it, it was late, and we had a three hour drive home.  So we loaded into the car.

Just to stay awake on the trip home, I broke my "no Christmas music before Thanksgiving" rule.  I figured that since we had celebrated Thanksgiving twice already, that a little Christmas music would be okay.  So we sang along with Christmas music most of the way home.

God blessed us with a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  Filled with friends and family both old and new.  We are blessed beyond measure and we were even more blessed to be able to share that with others in small ways.  I could not have asked for a better Thanksgiving Day.  And if you know me, you know that I think we should celebrate Thanksgiving EVERY day!  So be sure to count your blessing today, and tomorrow, and the next day and the next...  And remember to give thanks to God, because, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17

My bullet list of SOME of the things I was thankful for yesterday...You should try it today.  Keep a running list of the things you are thankful for.  I promise you, you won't regret it!  Make your list and thank God for the many, many, ways He blesses you each and every day.

-Waking up in a warm bed
-Warm, running water
-My children who bless me daily
-A comfortable car to travel in
-A short nap
-My kindle to read (because I forgot my book)
-A husband willing to stop when I needed a snack
-Snacks to tide us over until lunch
-The blessing of being able to bless others, even if in just small ways
-Texts to and from friends and family far away
-A son with a heart for others
-Running family jokes
- Sign writers with a sense of humor
-A deep truth tucked away in a book that really made me think
-Someone we wanted to visit actually being home
-Seeing our son take joy in being a blessing to someone
-Family who open their home and think to include us even though we live three hours away
-Great food
-More laughter
-Singing together
-Talents given by God
-People who have similar struggles and really "get" what you are going through
-Promises of prayers
-Shared recipes
-Christmas music
-More safety
-A heart full of love and memories made
-A warm bed to crawl back into at the end of the day

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Frienbs" Forever

Friday could not get here fast enough.  For several weeks, we had been planning.  My sweet friend in Georgia had asked us to come and visit, and the day of departure had FINALLY arrived.  We were excited to begin our Thanksgiving break and to see our friends.  My Prince had to stay home to preach on Sunday, but the rest of us loaded up the car after school and headed to The Peach State for a weekend of fun, games, food, and laughter.

We faced quite a bit of traffic as I had expected with it being the weekend before Thanksgiving, but other than that, our trip was fairly uneventful.  God kept us safe and the car in working order, and we were very thankful.

We made it to our friend's house and went in to the new experience of runaway tacos.  They are pretty much normal tacos, but instead of normal shells, you eat them over Doritos.  Originally the idea was to make them and eat them out of the individual sized bags of Doritos, but because there were so many of us, my friend just purchased the large bags, and we ate ours out of bowls.  Aunt Babo (another friend) and one of her munchkins joined us for dinner and hung out with us for a while.

We spent the evening laughing, reminiscing, and just catching up - all the while taking turns playing crocodile dentist with the little girls.  We met BearDog who we had heard so much about.  And he was just as sweet as they told us he was - even if he does think and act like he is part cat -as well as spoiled rotten.  He took a special liking to The Young Prince, and would stand at his feet and bark until The Young Prince would acknowledge him in some way.  If The Young Prince sat down, BearDog was there.  If The Young Prince walked out of the room, BearDog went in search to find him.  It was sweet.  It is said that dogs are a good judge of people.  And I think that BearDog knew that The Young Prince is awesome and decided to hang out with him as much as possible over the weekend.

The talk turned inevitably to WarDawg and his ability to call owls.  Seriously.  I've witnessed it firsthand, the guy is an owl whisperer.  It is very cool.  So, we were talking about owls and my friend Special K and her sister Aunt Babo told us about the time when they were young, and they had a pet owl named Winkie.  How have I known them this long and never heard this story?  A pet owl story is not something you hear about every day.  Pretty cool.

Then Uncle D had to tell us about how he and Z-Bob had been outside working on a fishing rod at night, and the lure caught the attention of an owl.  The owl landed not far from them, and flapped his wings.  They said he was huge.  It is a good thing that he did not try to eat the lure, because if he had, my friend would be nursing her second pet owl back to health as we speak.

Talk turned for a few minutes to politics and presidential candidates.  T-Bone confidently announced that he had the perfect head of presidential hair, so he could be President one day.  This is the same child who charges people to let them touch his wonderful head of hair.  Seriously.  No joke.  Maybe one day he WILL become president and he can earn back some of our national debt by charging foreign heads of state for chances to touch his hair.  T-Bone for President!

The kids entertained themselves and us for quite a while playing with two laser pointers and BearDog.  I'm afraid that BearDog will never be the same again.

It had been a long day, so we all decided to retire for the night.

The little girls and I woke up fairly early, and hung out in the living room waiting for everyone else to "rise and shine".  The little girls decided to get dressed and go out to play.  When the Youngest Princess came out, bless her heart, her sweat pants (that we put up last year and she has
dn't worn this year yet) looked like capri pants.  Proof that her sweet little self is actually growing.  She decided that she was okay with that.  They were just playing outside...and off they went.

Special K made biscuits and bacon, and we all enjoyed a wonderful breakfast.  We had kids inside, we had kids outside, we had kids going out and coming in.  There were kids everywhere, and it was wonderful.  The indoor soccer ball kept many of them entertained off and on all weekend long.  There was a game or two of basketball, and all sorts of things with wheels were ridden.

Special K, The Oldest Princess and I made a Target run.  Special K and I can't get together without heading to Target if there is one anywhere near where we are.  In Target we ran into Aunt Babo and her munchkins.  We did not find what we were looking for, but we found several things that we weren't looking for.  Isn't that the way it is just about every time you go to Target?  I know it is with me, anyway.

Since Target didn't have the games we wanted, we headed to Toys-R-Us.  They had one of the games we were looking for, so we got it, and then went in search of the other one.  We, on a whim, stopped at Barnes and Noble, and found it!  Then we had one more stop to make at the grocery store to pick up one quick thing.  The Oldest Princess and I stayed in the car and Special K ran inside to get what we needed.  I noticed that someone was dressed up as something near the front door of the store, but I did not have a great line of sight from the car, and I could not tell exactly what it was.  Finally, the person moved and I could see that it was a lady dressed up as a Turkey.  She was shaking her tail feathers, and putting on quite a show.  I knew that Special K was "upset" that she had left her phone at home and was unable to get a picture with Turkey Lady as she went into the store.  Unfortunately, Turkey Lady herself went into the store, because when Special K came back to the car I was more than willing for her to pull around and let me take her picture with Turkey Lady.  But by that time it was too late.

We headed home to feed the masses their choice of turkey or ham sandwiches.  We ate lunch, and then it was time to get down to business and play some games.  The first one was the Pie Face game, which was Special K's idea.  The very game we had just made the trip to Target to purchase.  Of course, someone had to video and take pictures, so we had the kids circle up around the table, and Special K and I took pictures and videos while they played.  It was pretty funny.  And The Young Prince, who hates whipped cream with a passion, was somehow lucky enough to get through two whole games and come out as the winner both times.  But we didn't stop until everyone got a "pie" in the face.  Well, everyone, EXCEPT Special K that is.  Wait a minute!  Wasn't this HER idea in the FIRST place?!?  It is pretty fun, and it is very funny, and it makes for some great slow motion videos, but it is also extremely messy.  So if you decide to play, make sure you have plenty of paper towels ready for clean up.

The Oldest Princess, The Young Prince, Z -Bob, Special K and I all took a few minutes before dark to drive out to see the little blue house where we used to live.  I loved that house and all of the memories that went with it.  I love how God provided it just when we needed it.  I love how it was far enough out that the kids could play and enjoy the horses that belonged to our neighbors.  I love that it's seclusion was a healing balm to my hurting heart after my daddy had passed away.  Many happy memories were made in that place, and it was sweet to go back, even if just to drive by, and remember for a few minutes.  The kids both said that they remembered it to be bigger than it was. Maybe just because they were much smaller when they lived there.  I remember how even after we had lived there for several weeks, The Young Prince would tell me that he wanted to go home.  He was too young to understand what it meant to move, and that we were home.  But it didn't take him too long to settle in and love it.

We stopped by Aunt Babo's house to get the hot dog roasting sticks she had put out for us to borrow.  Our plan was to follow her wishes and be like ninjas - in and out, without anyone knowing we were there - but as soon as we pulled in one of her munchkins saw us.  Special K rolled down her window and diverted his attention while The Oldest Princess jumped out of the car on the other side, grabbed the roasting sticks and jumped back in.  The other two munchkins had joined us by then, and Special K worked her magic for a few more minutes talking to them and asking them questions, and then we were off.  The munchkins none the wiser.

We went back to Special K's house, and Uncle D was there.  He grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  He gave me a hard time, because I special ordered my hamburger to be as flat as possible and "crispy critter" burnt.  He told me it was not Burger King.  I could not have it my way.  But despite giving me a hard time, he did a great job, and my hamburger was wonderful.

We cleared dinner away, and broke out the Dutch Blitz cards.  We had a great time playing.  And Grammy, before you ask, we were fairly nice.  Not all the time, but we all did our best to control ourselves. Most of the time.  Until The Oldest Prince used Z-Bob's sunflower seed spit cup, and then it was on.  Z-Bob did not want any part of The Oldest Prince's "spit fumes".

We sent the boys out to start a fire in the fire pit, and we got things ready for s'mores.  The guys did a good job with the fire, and we had fun roasting, some of us burning, marshmallows to make s'mores.
We took pictures of course.  Lots of pictures.

Then someone came out with some boxes of long sparklers.  The kids enjoyed them for a few minutes, and then Z-Bob suggested that we do one of those sparkler pictures.  Special K told me we needed a seven letter word.  I instantly thought of "friends".  "Forever" also came to mind.  We decided that "Friends" would be perfect.  They started talking about cameras and tripods and long exposures, and settings...stuff that makes my head spin.

Then they said the kids would have to do their letters backward so when the picture came out, the word would be correct.  The Oldest Princess was a tad intimidated by the backward letter thing, so I told her she could have the "o".  She was happy with that arrangement, until Special K reminded us that there is no "o" in friends.  Ooops!  I was pretty tired, and I still had "forever" in my brain I guess!  So Uncle D said she could have the "i" instead.  Good deal.  Then The Youngest Princess was stressing out over getting her letter just right.  She takes things like this serious, and she was not going to be the one to mess up the picture.  So I worked with her for a few minutes making sure she understood what to do.  Then it was Missy B's turn, and we worked on helping her with her "s".  We lined them up and I went down the row making sure they all knew how to do their letter (backward to them - correct to me) so they would be correct in the picture.  Then it was show time.

The camera was ready.  The kids were ready.  We lit the sparklers and they went to work.  But something was not right with the settings, so we had to do a take-two.  No problem.  Grab more sparklers.  Let's do this again.  But wait!  After these, we only have 4 sparklers left.  So we HAVE to make it work this time.  No pressure.  Do not mess this up!  We have to get it right.  Places everyone!  Lights!  Camera!  Action!  Special K is behind the camera.  It's perfect!  It's looking good!  Keep it up everyon...."Wait!  WarDawg!  Your "d" is backwards!"  Oh, no!!  We don't have the word "Friends"!  We have the word "Frienbs"!  We all just had to laugh.  I'm pretty sure he did it just like I told him to do it.  I am pretty sure my tired brain was trying to think backwards and forwards, front and back, and I messed it up.

Then of course, the creative brains began to whirl.  There must be a way we can fix this!  Special K and Z-Bob know a lot about PhotoShop, and they were talking about cutting his image out of the original picture and flipping him so that it would be correct.  It almost looked like a capital "D" so she could take some of the sparkler image from the picture and make it look more like a capital "D".  The teacher in me cringed at that one.  The thought of a picture that said "FrienDs" made my eye twitch.

So I happend to think that we could take another picture of just WarDawg, with one of the four remaining sparklers and let him do his "d" the right way.  Then we could take that image of him and cut/paste/whateverthecorrectlingoforPhotoShopis the second image of him over the first into the original picture and make it look like the word "Friends".  Bingo!  My amazing friend could do that, because she is awesome!

So, we took the picture of just WarDawg doing his "d", and Special K went in to her computer and worked her magic.  All the while, laughing at ourselves and our crazy "frienbship".

I think the finished product is perfect.  And I love the memory that goes with it.  I'm actually glad we messed up the original, because now we have a story to tell.  It's a lot like life.  We are going to mess things up, because we are SO not perfect.  But God steps in and through His grace, love and mercy, He works in us and makes things right again.  And when people ask us about it, we have a story to tell.  A story about how God is The Master at fixing things we mess up.  I am glad that we did not have to walk away with JUST our original picture (although I love that one maybe more than the finished product).  I am glad that my sweet friend could fix it.  Just as I am glad that I don't have to go through life with all my mess ups permanently recorded (although they teach me lessons and point me to my need of God).  I am glad that I serve a loving, forgiving, merciful Savior, who died for all of my mistakes and washes away my record with his precious life giving blood.  God is SO good!

I could tell many more stories about our weekend.  About our marathon playing of Dutch Blitz.  About The Young Prince commentating our games (because he does not play) and making us all laugh, and laugh, and laugh.  About how Missy B called The Young Prince the "commenhater"  and made us all laugh some more.

There are stories of "The FAAAAABULOUS Nevada Hotel and Casino" - trust me, you just had to be there for that one! - with Berry and Beauford acting as the mascots.  The cheat-o-meter, and Benadryl induced sleep (The Youngest Princess had an allergic reaction to Beardog, and had to take a Benadryl.  I think she had the best sleep she has had in a loooong time).  And that was all just Saturday night!

But all too soon it was time to get to bed.  We had to get up and be ready for church the next morning.

Uncle D made everyone pancakes for breakfast Sunday morning.  I was a little disappointed that I did not get the Micky Mouse shaped one that I ordered, but I guess I will forgive him.  This time.  He told me he would be better prepared and make me one next time.  I'm holding him to that.

I'm not entirely sure how we did it, but we managed to get all 10 of us dressed and ready for church, and early at that, the next morning.  It was very good to go back and see old friends that we haven't seen in years, and meet some new ones.

Sunday afternoon was the long anticipated trip to my favorite restaurant.

My friend's sweet parents, Mrs. P and her Texas loving husband, Bro. R joined us.  The pastor had  preached on gratitude that morning.  I know God has a sense of humor.  He tested us that very afternoon.  Our lunch was a comedy of errors.  If it could go wrong, it pretty much did.  But I still thoroughly enjoyed my food, and did my best to have gratitude and ignore all the little mishaps. (Said through gritted teeth) Nothing was going to stop me from enjoying eating at my favorite restaurant again after about five years!  Nothing!

We went home to spend the afternoon doing, what else...playing Dutch Blitz.  The Youngest Princess learned that she could yell "Dutch!" to stop the play of the game, and she did so just about every chance she got.  I think it was a power thing with her.  T-Bone also yelled it once.  Just. because. he. learned. that. he. could.  Missy B always somehow miraculously ended up with mostly 1's and 2's to begin with.  The rest of us "never could quite figure out" how that happened.  But it might have had something to do with her shuffling in her chair instead of on the table.  Where did The Young Prince put that Cheat-o-meter?  Meanwhile BearDog took advantage of our distraction to mark his territory in WarDawg's room.  WarDawg was NOT happy.

Before we knew it, because time flies when you are having fun, it was time to get ready to go back to church.  It was really cool that one of our girls, who had gotten saved when we were there, and had since gotten away from church, and had recently gotten back into church, was scheduled for baptism that night.   I love that God worked it out for us to be there to see her take that step, and to know that she is back on the right track and serving the Lord again.  God is good.

The boys stayed to play basketball after church, and Uncle D, Special K, T-bone, Missy B, The Youngest Princess and the Oldest Princess and I all went back to Special K's house.  While we were snacking, the Oldest Princess impressed Uncle D with her goat sound making abilities, and the Youngest Princess did her cheer routine for Uncle D, then The Oldest Princess took back over by amazing us with the large food items that she can fit in her mouth.  It was almost as good as Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth...maybe we should get a bus and take our show on the road.  Or. Not.

We played some more Dutch Blitz, and we even talked Uncle D into playing two whole rounds with us.  I do not think he cares much for our game.

The boys got home and joined us in playing a little more Dutch Blitz.  Z-Bob was cracking me up.  He had this bull-pawing-the-ground motion he would make when he was anticipating playing a card. It was quite comical.  Special K and Z-Bob mentioned several times that they planned to practice up and beat The Oldest Princess and I the next time we were able to play.  We are not scared at all.  Bring it on!

We spent a little time watching funny videos, which everyone knows are funnier than normal when it is late at night and you are tired.

The Young Prince made me laugh until I cried, which I haven't done in a long time.  We tried to get serious and have everyone go around the room and tell me their favorite memory from the weekend, to help with the blog, but we didn't have much luck with that.  Z-Bob is evidently as afraid of "emotional fumes" as he is "spit fumes", and he let it be known that he did not enjoy our memory activity.  By the way, according to him, it had just been "two days, and a memory is not a memory until like six months have passed".  So will someone please set your phone to alert you six months from today and remind you to have Z-Bob read this blog and enjoy the memories I preserved for him here.  And also let him know that when you get older, a memory is anything that happened more than a few seconds ago, and if you don't record it soon, you more than likely will not have it to remember six months from now.

Monday was spent just being together.  Special K and I were able to get up before all of the kids and have a little bit of time to share our hearts with one another.  I hate that we don't live closer and can't meet for lunch and share our hearts on a regular basis.  But I am very glad that we have been intentional on getting together a little more regularly, recently, than we have in the past.  Now that the kids are getting older, it frees us up to be able to get together more often.  I hope we keep it up until we are old and gray.  Frienbs Forever!

All too soon it was time for us to go.  I was getting messages from My Prince telling me to "hurry up!"  So we said our goodbyes and headed home.  God gave us a good trip home with no problems.

We arrived home to meet up with My Prince, unload and hit the road again to go out and eat for The Young Prince's birthday.  By the way, Happy, Happy Birthday to The Young Prince, who is not so young anymore, and getting older every day, Prince.

It was a wonderful weekend, and on the brink of Thanksgiving, we have many, many things, and frienbs to be thankful for!

Frienbs Forever!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Homecoming Week - The Epilogue

So, Saturday of homecoming week was spent blogging about homecoming week, and helping the Youngest Princess get her project done. Hallelujah!  It is done!  And yes, I am talking about the week, and the project.

I am glad the week is over.  I am glad that we have fun times and memories to look back on.  I am glad that you could join me and "live" through some of it with us by way of my blog.  Thank you for taking the time to read my crazy ramblings.

There were plenty of other things I could have included.  Some stories would have taken too long to tell.  Some stories would have embarrassed people.  Some stories involved anger.  Some stories involved courage.  Some stories involved forgiveness.  Some stories involved anxiety.  Some stories were just not mine to tell.

But I did want to leave you all with this...and a few pictures...'cause I LOVE pictures...

While typing about our crazy homecoming week, I was warmed by thoughts of friends and people who stepped in to help when they could.  I laughed at things that were not so funny "in the heat of the moment".  I re-laughed at things that were funny then and still are.  I teared up at some memories.   And I saw a week full of people we love dearly, and who I am pretty sure love us back.  But most importantly, I saw God at work in every detail, both large and small.  Even during Homecoming week.  Which happened to be a four day week.  With the day off smack dab in the middle of the week. Which included 7 basketball games.  And a special chapel.  And one special Glow-in-the-Dark pep rally.  And two Homecoming courts.  And one concession stand duty.  And one pre-game meal.  And one brand new cheerleader.  And one cheerleading, basketball playing nerdlete homecoming queen 1st alternate.  And one cool basketball player who almost had a dunk.  And one super-dad.  And one really, really tired Mom.

And now, a few pictures:

Our nerdy athlete, nerd, and cool athlete - Mathletes vs Athletes

The cool athlete at work - game #3

The Oldest Princess on the court - game #1

The Youngest Princess aka "Laura Ingalls" - Throwback  Thursday

A '50's housewife - Throwback Thursday

Glow-in-the-Dark pep rally

The Young Prince unrolling toilet paper like a machine

Varsity Cheerleaders - Glow-in-the-Dark pep rally

My girls

The Oldest Princess ready for Homecoming

The Youngest Princess after her twist up, before the cradle 

The Young Prince - game #6
 The Youngest Princess got to give flowers to the Oldest Princess on Homecoming court.  I snapped these pictures of her face as they were announcing the Oldest Princess, and she was walking out.  It is obvious that the Oldest Princess is adored by the Youngest Princess.

My Prince and the Oldest Princess

I had to add this one.  The Oldest Princess and I were taking a "selfie", and the Young Prince, as always jumped in and photo bombed us.  I love it!

A family photo

Our beautiful girls.  I love them and I am so proud of them all!

And of course...I had to add this one of the Youngest Princess...Homecoming Queen in training?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday - Homecoming week

Friday.  Of Homecoming week. Or was it month?  It seems like it was a month.  Anyway, Neon Day.  The Oldest Princess and the Youngest Princess had their outfits all figured out, because it was pep rally day.  But not just any pep rally, mind you, because it is Homecoming week.  It was a Glow-in-the-dark pep rally.  The Varsity cheerleaders, along with Mrs. M their cheer coach had planned out their outfits for the pep rally.  Mrs. A, the JV cheer coach, had given us specific pep rally outfit instructions at least a month in advance, so we were good to go there as well.  As long as we didn't forget any of it.  Neon shirt, check.  Khakis or jeans to wear to school, check.  Black shorts packed to change into for Pep Rally, check.  Tie dyed socks, check.  Neon bandana tied around forehead, check.  Hair in high curly ponytail, check.  The Young Prince just wore a shirt that looked sort of neon green and blue jeans.  Why are boys so much easier?  If you don't have a girl, you should borrow one for a Homecoming week.  Seriously.  You are missing out if you don't.

We get to school and the kids are all crazy.  Like they all had Pixie sticks for dinner the night before AND for breakfast that morning.  There was a buzz in the air like we were all in a literal bee hive.  We got right to work and tried to get as much done before the Glow-in-the-dark Homecoming week pep rally began.  We worked until the door opened.  And they were there to paint faces.  And pass out glow sticks.  And disrupt any order (who am I kidding...there was no order in the first place)...

Then it was time for snack.  Snack ended at 9:45.  That gave me about 25 minutes to get as much done as possible before the pep rally.  Because after the pep rally.  Well, very little ever gets done after a pep rally.

Pep rally time was there before I knew it.  It was pretty fun and all of the cheer leaders, both Varsity and JV did a great job.  The Oldest Princess almost won at musical chairs.  The Young Prince won the unroll the toilet paper the fastest.  He was unbelievable.  I knew one day that he would put all that energy to good use.  The kids loved it.  And I enjoyed myself as well.  Sometimes Homecoming week can be fun.  Did I really just admit that?

Back to class for about an hour and 30 minutes. And then off to PE, and lunch.  I spent PE trying to grade as many papers as I possibly could.  I still did not get journals graded.  Lunch, and then back to finish everything up and wrap up the week.  We "put on our scuba gear" and went deep sea diving as we explored the ocean depths, and then went to the North Pole to learn about walruses.  We oohed and aahed over pictures of  seals and sea otters.  Then our resident artist "L" drew pictures of cute seals and sea otters, and we oohed and aahed some more.  And then it was time to go home.  My students all left.

 I went down to the kitchen to help with the pre-game meal.  My Prince was already there.  He had brought the bread to go with the pasta that we had catered in (the other moms helping with the meal were all working moms too, so we had to go the easy route).  We got everyone fed, and then we cleaned up.  The whole time the Youngest Princess was begging to hurry up and go home so that she could get ready for her big night.  The JV cheerleaders were cheering during the Varsity boy's game because a lot of the Varsity cheerleaders were on the high school homecoming court.  And during half-time, she was going to get to do her twist up, cradle.  And evidently, if you are in 4th grade, that is a big, big deal.

We finished up the dinner, and headed home to get the Youngest Princess ready to cheer.  Meanwhile the Oldest Princess was at a sweet friend's house to get her hair and makeup done.  She got home before we had to leave, and looked beautiful.  She rode with me and the Youngest Princess.  As we were driving to the game, I told the girls that I really wanted the Young Prince to win his game, and I really hoped that the Oldest Princess would win homecoming queen, even though it would not be the end of the world if she didn't, and I was praying that the Youngest Princess would do good in her twist up, cradle.  It was like having my heart out on that court three times in one night.  I told them I knew that they probably did not understand, but that one day when they had children of their own, they would think back to our conversation, and remember, and then they would understand.

We got to the game, and the Youngest Princess got right into cheering.  She did a great job and several people commented on how well she did.  The Young Prince had a great game, and they actually won.  We were thrilled.  After the game, the Young Prince told me that if they had lost that game, it would have been their 50th loss in a row.  That is one streak that we were glad that they broke!  I was thrilled for them. (Game # 6)

Then it was time for the Homecoming court.  All of the seniors were on the court.  They crowned one princess from the underclass representatives, and then they had 2 runners up and the Queen from the Seniors.  One of the Oldest Princess's sweet friends got 2nd Alternate, and then the Oldest Princess herself got 1st Alternate, and her best friend won Queen.  It was a a good night!  God is good and His blessings are abundant!

We stayed and watched and laughed and enjoyed the Alumni game.  It was great to see old friends and students, and it was fun to watch them play and have a good time. (Game # 7)

The Oldest Princess went out with our youth pastor and his wife and some friends.  The Young Prince, the Youngest Princess, My Prince and I all headed to find some food.  Wendy's was the first thing we came to that was open.  We were all exhausted, so we got our food to go, and headed back to the house.  We ate and the Youngest Princess fell asleep while I was reading to her.  So I put the book down and snuggled up to her and went to sleep myself.  But not before the Oldest Princess made it home, and all of my little chicks were back  in the nest.  It was a crazy busy, fun, exhausting week.  I had lots of fun, but I am glad that it only happens once a year!  There was that one year when we had Homecoming for football AND basketball...but that is another story.

Thursday - Homecoming Week

Thursday morning.  Throwback Thursday.  "Laura Ingalls", Betty Crocker, and Marty McFly all got dressed with little incident, because we had actually had time to get their outfits together the night before.  My Prince asked the Youngest Princess where her lunchbox was, and I happened to think that she needed to take her lunch in a pail (which we did not have) or a basket (which we did have!)  So the basket it was.  And then she asked if they had backpacks "back then".  I told her no, that they carried their books tied with a string, or a leather strap, or they just carried them in their arms.  Then of course the search was on for a string, and some books we could tie together for her to carry.

Thursday at school, was as calm as it gets on Homecoming week.  We actually had as normal a day as we could have had during a Homecoming week.  We finished everything we were supposed to get done, and even had time to play some review games and have a little fun.  It was nice.

Oh, except that the Oldest Princess said that she did not know that they were supposed to cheer at the game that night.  Which would be the JV game, and normally the varsity cheerleaders do not cheer for the JV games, but this was different because it was homecoming week, and some of the JV cheerleaders were on the Junior High Homecoming court.  So, the Oldest Princess had all of her basketball gear, so she could play in the Varsity girl's game that night, but had none of her Cheer stuff to wear when it was time to change and cheer for the JV game.  So she text her daddy and asked him to bring her stuff.  He had no idea where any of it was.  I told her I would try to run home and get it when my kids went to PE.

We went to snack.  During snack, the wonderful lady, Mrs. S,  who feeds the masses each day, and is also in charge of the concessions at the games, called me over and asked if My Prince and I would be able to be there at 4:45 to work the concession stand...Well, see, normally that would not be a problem.  But today is Thursday, and that is the day the Youngest Princess has tumbling class, and I had already committed to taking her and at least one, maybe two other little girls and bringing them back to the school when they were done at 5:00.  So no, I couldn't be there at 4:45.  But she is awesome, and said she would take the first game, if I could take the second game instead.  No problem!  That would be great!

Then back to class, to keep chipping away and getting things done for the week.  Someone, I think it was probably the sixth grade teacher who is a woman on top of things, said something about getting folders ready.  Oh, yes!  It is Thursday, and folders go home on Thursday.  Oh, my!  I had not even started getting my folders ready to go home.  We had been out of school on Wednesday, and that messed me up!  It should be Wednesday, not Thursday!  So as soon as my students went to Music, I quickly began to get folders ready.  When they came back from Music on their way to PE, I realized that I was going to need my PE time to finish my folders.  Which meant that I would not have time to go home and get the cheerleading stuff that the Oldest Princess needed.  I called My Prince, and explained the situation to him.  He was understanding, and was able to run home and find everything that the Oldest Princess needed.  Super-dad to the rescue, yet once again.  I was able to finish my folders during PE and send them home with my students. Just. like. on. any. normal. Thursday.  You wouldn't even know it was Homecoming week!

School was done, and the Youngest Princess and I rushed home so that she could change clothes and get ready for her tumbling class, and get a little homework done before we had to go to tumbling and back to the school for the games.  I was working on homework with her when my sister text and said she was getting a tune up on her car and had an hour and 20 minutes to wait.  What was I doing?  Lol!  I was stressing.  That is what I was doing.  I told her quickly what was going on, and then we were off to the school to pick up the Youngest Princess's friends that I was going to take to tumbling.  We picked them up, and my gas light came on.  37 miles.  Could I make it?  Sure I could!  We made it to tumbling a couple of minutes late.  I took my new book for Wednesday night and tried to read my chapters, but there were too many distractions.  Like when one of the little girls got her back walkover and everyone cheered for her.  It is a very big thing to finally get your back walkover by yourself!  So I gave up on reading and texted with my sister for a few minutes until her car was done and she was on her way home.  She told me it sounded like I needed a personal assistant.  I agreed.  And a maid, and a taxi driver, and a cook, and someone to keep up with ALL the laundry...and a sub for Homecoming week!

Tumbling ran over a couple of minutes and My Prince text me to let me know that he was at the school and that the Oldest Princess had started in the game, and that she was playing great.  I quickly told the teacher that we had to go, grabbed my three girls and headed for the car.  I didn't miss too much of the game.  I bought a Snickers bar from the concession stand for dinner, and when that did not do the trick, I finished off the Youngest Princess's giant pretzel.  Dinner of champions.  Our girls won again, so that was exciting. (Game #4 - I think...)

Then My Prince and I headed to the concession stand to do our job.  The Youngest Princess was in and out alternating between helping us and playing with her friends.  The Oldest Princess changed hats and uniforms from basketball player to cheerleader, and joined the other girls already cheering for the JV boys game.  Our boys won.  (Game # 5...but at this point...who is still counting?)  And our concession stand duties are done for the year. Hallelujah!

They had the Junior High Homecoming princess crowning after the boys game, and our good friend's daughter won. Happy times.  The Oldest Princess and her friend did the crowning and pinning (their annual job) one last time, as they are both Seniors.  Unless we fail them like Mrs. S and I threaten to do just so we can keep them around for another year.

We stopped by a local restaurant on our way home, and had something that would pass for dinner.  Then home to get ready for the next day.  Friday, of Homecoming week. Finally.

Wednesday - Homecoming Week

Wednesday morning.  I let the kids sleep in after our late nights the two nights before.  I again got up earlier than everyone else and took advantage of the quiet time.  I  was able to contact C and she brought me the information we needed for the Youngest Princess's project.  My hopes were to be able to get started that day, but it did not happen.  My Prince spent some time studying with me, and then went to the church for a little while.

The Oldest Princess had an early afternoon appointment, and after that we had planned to run and get her some shoes to go with the dress that she had decided to wear for homecoming.  Her dress was blue, and she wanted red heels to go with it.  I had her try on the dress, and I was afraid that it was a little too short, so we decided that we would look one more time for a dress, and that we would buy shoes to match the one we had as a last resort, if we could not find a new dress.  The Young Prince and the Youngest Princess decided to stay at home.  My Prince and I and the Oldest Princess went shopping.  At the first store, we found several  dresses that we thought might work.  The first one she put on, brought a smile to her face, and I knew we had found it.  She also tried on several others, but we decided on the first one.  Can't beat that.  She found another one that she loved, but it was long, and more formal, and over twice the price, so the first one it was.  We had a divine appointment in that we ran into a family that has been visiting our church and were able to talk to them for a few minutes.  I love when God works, even in the middle of our busy schedules.

We went to the shoe store, and found the perfect pair of shoes for her dress almost immediately.  It was another blessing from God.  We were praying to find something fast, and God gave us the perfect shoes and dress immediately.  Because we were done so early, I talked My Prince into taking us to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants.  After all, we had been given a gift certificate to that very restaurant for Pastor Appreciation.  We went and ate.  When we finished, My Prince asked me for the gift card.  Gift card...I don't have the gift card!  You have the gift card!  Don't you?  Didn't I give it to you?  I KNOW I don't have the gift card.  Are you sure YOU don't have the gift card? Oooops!  I thought he had the card.  He thought I had the card.  Neither of us had the card.  I found it at home.  And we will use it and enjoy it the NEXT time we go to that restaurant.

We returned home with seconds to spare before the Oldest Princess and the Young Prince had to leave to go to Worship Team practice at church.  I got the Youngest Princess ready and asked her if she had any homework to do, so she could get it done before church, and would not have to do it afterwards.  She said yes, that she had to write her spelling words.  But, wouldn't you know it, she could not find her Spelling book.

Which starts a mini-meltdown, complete with tears and dramatics such as, "Now I'll NEVER, get my spelling homework done, and I will get a BAD grade, which will make me FAIL 4th grade!"  So after I told her she would be punished if she did not calm down, because she was completely overreacting to a simple thing such as a lost book, the search began.  I knew that I had seen My Prince bring it in from the car the night before.  At least I think it was the night before.  Or was it Monday night that he brought it in? I really couldn't remember because both nights were late nights in from ballgames...And they were running together.  But I was pretty sure it was last night I had seen him with it.  So I text him, because he was already at the church for a practice he had to attend.  He text back "bedroom".  That narrowed it down.  But I didn't want to bug him, so we went to work searching our bedroom and her bedroom.  Neither one turned up a spelling book.  Time was ticking for us to get this done before church.   I did text him back and ask which bedroom.  He told me ours.  It was not there.  Where could it have gone?  I text him back and asked him to let me know if he thought of another place he MIGHT have laid it down.  Meanwhile, my wonderful group that meets on Wednesday night wanted to meet 30 minutes before we normally do, because we usually go 30 minutes longer than we should.  So now, time is ticking even faster.  Still no Spelling book.  I consider texting the mother who text me last week and ask her to return the favor by sending me a picture of this week's spelling list, but I was determined to find that spelling book that I knew was there somewhere.  Finally I gave up looking and started folding a load of clothes all the while, praying for us to be able to find the spelling book.  I looked down at a bag from our Monday shopping trip and happened to notice the back of what looked like a spelling book in that bag.  Sure enough it was the book!  How in the world it got there, I will never know.  But I am thankful that God lead me to look down and see it, in time for her to start before church.

The Youngest Princess got to work.  She had a plan.  She had to write her words twice.  But she was going to do the whole list one time first, so she could just take her paper, and not her book to the church.  She did not want to lose that book again.  But time passed faster than she could write, and it was time to leave, before she had the first list completed.  So we had to take her book to church, which almost triggered meltdown #2.  But I assured her several times that it would be okay.  She could hand me her book as soon as she was done, and I would make sure that it made it home.  She did, and the book made it safely back into her backpack, and to the school the next day, along with her completed homework.

Wednesday night, our group met, and finished up the first study we have been doing.  We got our books for our new study and I was eager to begin.  My Prince had a meeting after church, so I had to leave and get the Youngest Princess home and in bed.  But first we had to pick out her outfit for Thursday.  Homecoming week, remember?  Thursday was supposed to be Throwback Thursday.  She had bought a bonnet several weeks ago on a field trip, and she wanted to build her outfit around her bonnet.  So I found a little pinafore type dress the Oldest Princess had worn several years before.  She decided she would wear her boots and bonnet with it.  The Oldest Princess told her that she would help to braid her hair.  So the Youngest Princess was set for the next day.  The Young Prince had already decided to be Marty McFly from Back to the Future, which he had been for our Fall Festival, so he had his outfit.  The Oldest Princess...well, we had more trouble with her outfit this time.  She finally decided to go dressy 50's style.  So, finally, we were set and could head to bed.

The Youngest Princess and I try to read a chapter of a chapter book each night.  We were several chapters into A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  We read the chapter about Becky the scullery maid that night.  My tender hearted Youngest Princess was sad to the point of tears just thinking of how Becky was mistreated and had to live in the attic with the mice and other creatures.  I know the story, so I knew that the next chapter is a game changer.  We finished our chapter and went to bed.  Our day off, in the middle of the week, was done.  Back to work and school tomorrow.

Tuesday - Homecoming Week

Tuesday morning.  Patriot Day.  Red, White, and Blue Day.  Whatever you want to call it.  My students and the Youngest Princess were to wear their chapel clothes.  Hallelujah!  The Young Prince wore his basketball warm ups which are conveniently red, white and blue, and the Oldest Princess wore her cheerleading uniform, as directed by her cheer coach.  They would be cheering at the boys game that evening.  I woke up not feeling well, and realized that I was battling a Kidney infection. (Homecoming week, short week, break in the middle of the week, special chapel day, kidney infection).  I promise, I could not write a better story.  We got ready much as we would on a pretty normal day, and then we headed out to school, with a cup full of cran-grape juice and a call in to the doctor's office.

School started with getting morning routines done quickly as chapel started at 8:15 that morning.    Pledges were said, the national anthem was sung, a high school student read about the history of Veteran's Day, The Youngest Princess's class and a few other classes sang a special, the songs of each branch of the armed forces were played and we stood in honor of loved ones who served in each branch, and then the speaker was introduced.  He did a wonderful job of speaking to all of the ages represented.  And that is hard to do when you are talking about 2nd grade through 12th grade.  He definitely did not have any trouble keeping everyone's attention - You just had to be there!  But he did it and did it well.  A group of middle school students were recognized for writing essays for an essay contest, and the winning essay was read.  It was a beautiful chapel.

Then chapel was over and the madness began again.  After chapel, we had about 10 minutes before we had to be at snack.  After we got finished with snack, and back up to the room to get started on our school day.  It was 9:45.  We were working to get two days done in one, because we would be out of school the next day, so we were doing the bare bones of the lessons.  No frills.  Just hard work.  Which was good, because the students were too busy to get into trouble.  Then the door opened.  Could they have the students who had paid to have their picture made with Patriot, our mascot?  A fundraiser.  Because Homecoming week is full of fundraising opportunities.  We got that taken care of, and continued on.  The students worked hard until it was time for them to go to Library.  The Library teacher helped us out by letting them make cards for Veterans during her time.  We were supposed to get it done earlier but had run out of time.  It was a huge blessing for them to be able to get those done.  Then it was time for lunch.  During lunch my friend came and asked if she and two of her children could ride to the game with us that afternoon.  We had plenty of room, so of course, we said they could.   After lunch we were back to only having about 2 subjects covered and 6 more to go with 2 hours left in our day.  But once again, we managed by sticking to the bare bones of the lessons.  My students are troopers and did a great job.

After school, I had time to run home for just a minute while the Youngest Princess had cheer practice.  I took some medicine, and changed clothes, and then it was time to head back to the school to pick up the Youngest Princess and our friend and her children.  We piled in the car and headed about 1 hour and 45 minutes away to more ball games.

We skipped dinner in order to get our friend to her son's game, which was before The Young Prince's game.  We bought snacks from their concession stand, and settled in to watch the game.  It was exciting, and our JV boys won. (Game # 2 of the week)

 Now it was time for our Varsity boys to do their thing.  It was a good game, and our boys played hard.  They were nervous with it being their first game of the season, and they are still working on playing together as a team.  Meanwhile our girls were cheering them on.  Overall, they did great.  But the officials, well, that was another story.  I am no basketball expert.  I do not know a foul in most cases, unless it is blatant.  I do not know how officials watch everything they are supposed to watch, and catch everything they are supposed to catch.  I am not a parent who yells at officials.  I have to trust that they know much more than I do.  BUT, with all that said, our boys were getting called for fouls every time they turned around.  And, I learned that they do not put the foul count on the scoreboard after the first ten  fouls.  We were to ten quickly.  Most of our boys were at four fouls and only some of their boys had one or two.  It really did appear that they were calling harder on us than they were on them.  Yet still, the score stayed close.  Near the end of the game we got the rebound after they missed a shot and were up  41 to 40.  The other team got the ball with 4.5 seconds to go.  They threw the ball in.  The kid who got the ball shot from mid-court, and the ball went in their basket with a swoosh.  No way!!!  If I had not been there, I do not know that I would have believed it.  For that matter, I was there, and I didn't want to believe it!  It was a very sad loss for our boys.  The Young Prince wanted a win badly.  And it had looked like we were going to get it, despite some unfair calling by the officials.  But it wasn't meant to be. (Game # 3)

We loaded up to head home.  Just us, as our friend had met up with her family again.  It was a quiet ride home.  Everyone was tired and bummed.  I had a horrible headache, probably from staying away from caffeine all day and not having dinner.  We stopped at the only place that was open that late.  A combo (always a bad sign), Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell/Gas Station (anytime food and gas stations are mixed is another bad sign if you ask me).  Not to mention that it was about 30 minutes before their closing time.  Never go into a fast food restaurant at 30 minutes before closing time.  It is a bad, bad thing to do.  The workers do not like you.  They do not want to serve you quality food.  They want to finish cleaning up and go home.  They are mad at you before you even walk in the door.  And they complain loudly the whole time that you are there that they are ready to go home.  Or they completely ignore you.  Or both.  In our case, one complained loudly about how she wanted to go home, and another did everything she could to ignore us.  The chicken nuggets came to us soggy and pretty much inedible.  The tacos were ordered with meat and cheese only, but they had lettuce on them.  One of us gave up and ordered nachos, because how hard can it be to mess those up?  And the rest of us ate it anyway, thankful to have something to eat.  It could be worse, and we were tired and hungry, and just wanted to be home.

I happened to remember that I did not get the information that I needed from C, one of the Oldest Princess's friends, for a project that the Youngest Princess needed to work on.  I asked the Oldest Princess to text C and see if we could get with her sometime the next day to get that information.  C text back that she could run it by to us, but I had already fallen asleep and did not get her message until we got home, and it was too late to text her back.  I set an alarm on my phone so that I could remember to contact her the next morning.  Early, before she got too busy to get together to get the information, but not so early as to wake her up on her day off.

Several of us fell asleep on the ride home, but not the driver thankfully, and when we got home and into bed at about 11:30, I was, for the first time, thankful for a day off in the middle of the week.  We would need it. The rest of the week was quickly on its way.

Monday - Homecoming Week

Monday morning.  Spirit week at school/work.  Because it was Homecoming week, it was Athletes vs. Mathletes day.  The oldest princess had already told me that she wanted to be both, an athlete and a mathlete.  In other words, a nerdy athlete.  Ooookaaay.  Because being one, or the other, would be too easy.  But, because she had actually talked to me about this and mentioned that she needed some glasses to pull it off, I was able to pick up some nerd glasses with tape already conveniently on the middle of them from Dollar Tree, when I happened across them while shopping the weekend before.  The young prince just wore his old warm-up pants and a sweatshirt and went as the cool athlete that he is.  And, it was my mistake to think that I could throw the youngest princess in  sweat pants and a sweat shirt and send her off as an athlete as well.  It was also my mistake for not checking with her.  I forget that she is not little anymore and now has her own opinions when it comes to getting dressed - gone are the days of waking up and picking out an outfit and her just putting it on and going to school.  No, she did not want to be an athlete.  She wanted to be a nerd!  So, seeing how it was Monday morning, and I was trying to get ready myself, we were throwing things together to make her a nerd.  I think for the last minute, we did okay.  She was happy with the outcome, so I was too.  A friend texted to see if we could pick her up at one exit and take her to meet her husband at another exit on the way to the ballgame that afternoon.  I let her know of course we could!  We took pictures of our nerds, and athletes, and nerdy athletes and headed off to school.

Homecoming week, as all of my teacher friends know, is always very calm, quiet and focused.  Or, not! For those of you who are not teachers, let me explain.  Trying (notice I used the word "trying") to teach during Homecoming week is something like trying to juggle  seven bowling balls, in the back of a truck while traveling 150 mph, on a roller coaster track, in the dark, with a squirrel running laps around you as if you were a tree trunk.  And that might be putting it lightly.

So, the week before, which was the week after Halloween.  Halloween week being about as easy to "try" to teach in as Homecoming week is.  I had implemented a new discipline plan in my classroom.  It worked like a jewel (pun intended, as I am using plastic jewels, another great Dollar Tree purchase).  And it is a good thing that it was working, because it is one of the things that helped me keep my sanity intact in an otherwise fairly insane week.  I really could not have picked a better time to start it.

Did I mention that Homecoming week was also a four day week.  And if you teach, you understand.  I need say no more.  But if you don't teach, please allow me to explain.  Teachers do not get excited about four day weeks.  No.  It just means that we have to work harder to get everything done, that we are usually pushing to get done during five days.  And to make it even better, the day we were off was Wednesday.  Smack. Dab. in. the. middle. of. the. four. day. already. crazy. Homecoming. week.  I could not make this up if I tried.

 Not much could make for a more perfect storm.  Oh, except that we have three children of our own, one who just cheers, one who cheers and plays basketball, and one who just plays basketball.  And they have games and pep rallies and homecoming court, and all sorts outfits and things that go along with those responsibilities.

And, being parents of those students, we have things that we are expected to do, such as concession stand duty and helping with a pre-game meal.  I usually sign up to get the concession stand and pre-game meal things done as soon as possible, because if I wait until later in the season, it IS possible that I will get busy with other things and the sweet parents who volunteer to schedule the concession stand would then have to call me and say, "Are you coming?  You do remember that you have concession stand duty?  And that you were supposed to be here 15 minutes ago?"  That would just be awkward for them, and I would not want to EVER put them in that position (again).  So I signed up for everything right out of the starting gate.  I would be responsible and get my job done quickly, so I would not have the opportunity to forget about it later in the season.  Next year I will be responsible and ask what week is Homecoming week and avoid the extra tasks of concession stand and pre-game meal duties AT. ALL. COSTS. Next year.  Because I just jumped in planned to do it all.  In one week.   You guessed it.  Homecoming week.

Back to Monday morning.  My jewel discipline system is working like a jewel.  My kids are focused and on task.  Then the door opens.  And they are there to take pictures.  So everyone gets out of their seats and they pose for pictures, group and individual.  Then it is back to normal, for a few minutes, then time for snack.  Back to class, back to work.  Then one of my students remembers that he needs reeds, and he needs them BEFORE music.  His mother and I text back and forth for several minutes.  She needs to know what time is music, then she wants to know does he have lunch (their morning was crazy like ours).  He says he doesn't, she will bring reeds and now, I have lost all semblance of any classroom control.  Remind them of jewels, re-gain control, back to work.  We get a few minutes of uninterrupted time in before it is time for music.  The kids go to music.  While my kids were in music, I took the young prince's torn pants down to one of the high school teachers to see if she could work a miracle and fix the torn part before the next day when he would need them.  She said she would do it right then.  She fixed them. Praise the Lord! What a blessing!  I am thankful for sweet friends who jump in to help on the spot.  From music, my students go to PE.  From PE, they go to lunch.  At lunch another friend asks if she and her three children can ride to the game with us that evening.  We figure that we will have to double buckle one pair of children, at least until we drop our other friend off at the exit where she is meeting her husband, but we can make it work.  The more the merrier!  After lunch, we have 2 hours left and 4 1/2 subjects left to cover.  We get in there, roll up our sleeves and somehow get it all done.  I get them packed up and send them home.

As soon as my students are all safely with their parents, all those riding with us jump in the car and begin our almost 2 hour journey, to watch the oldest princess play basketball.  We stop and pick up our friend.  Then we stop and let her join her husband further down the interstate.  We follow them them rest of the way.  They pull into a Subway for dinner, so we follow suit.  We were pushed for time and were finishing our meal while walking out the door.  The girls were playing across the street at a college.  We had no idea where to go once we got on campus, so after driving around a little and several directions via texts from friends, "Go straight."  "In the back."  "Go over speed bumps."  "By the softball fields." we finally found it.  The game had already started, but thankfully we had not missed much.  Our girls won, and we were excited and proud for them.

We headed home.  Just our family.  All of our friends had met up with their families and were riding home with them.  We knew that the oldest princess needed a dress for Homecoming court, because all of the Seniors were going to be on the court this year.  So we took the opportunity to stop on our way home and see if we could find a dress.  I think she tried on about 10 dresses, and we finally decided to buy jewelry and embellish one she already had.  She also wanted to buy a new pair of shoes to complete the outfit, but that would have to wait until later, as they were calling for customers to make their final purchase and get out so they could close up and go home.  We pulled through a drive through and grabbed a snack for the kids and headed home ourselves.

At home, we got into bed thanking the Lord that tomorrow's dress up day was Patriot Day (Red, White, and Blue Day) and that the elementary school students were wearing their chapel clothes, because we were having a special chapel day in honor of Veteran's Day (on Homecoming week, which was a short week, with our out day being in the middle of the week, and now a special chapel thrown in as well...might as well go all out!)

Homecoming Week - The Prelude

Since I am typing this, you know that I have survived.  It is a good thing, because there were moments when I was afraid that I would not.  It has been quite the week here, and for some reason, I feel the need to spring clean (can you do that in the fall?) my brain...So, in order to be able to relax, I am going to purge the clutter...feel free to come along for the wild ride, or step through the roller coaster car and exit to the right.

It all started about a week and a half ago.  We faced a battle, a spiritual battle, and we stood for what we believed in.  We stood for what we knew was right.  God blessed greatly the outcome.  But let me just tell you, spiritual battles are draining.  So even though I can't share the details here, know that it was hard, and scary, and sad, and heartbreaking, and disappointing, and then it turned into hopeful, and a little encouraging, and nerve-wracking, and eye opening, and then very encouraging.  We saw growth and spiritual maturity in one of our children, that blew us away.  God worked at every turn, and the memory of this time will be added to our "pile of stones" (Joshua 4:1-7), as a memorial to God's faithfulness.  And God truly is faithful.  Even when our faith waivers.  He is steadfast.

Friday night, I was able to go with a couple of friends on our annual trip to a craft show.  Nothing of any great significance was purchased, but for a while we laughed, talked and enjoyed life without cares pressing in, or anyone to worry about but ourselves. Except when my Prince kept texting me to ask questions about passwords to ACT signups.  Because he was being super-dad, and NOT ONLY watching the youngest princess, but also her friend who was spending the night, AND working on signing the oldest two up for the ACT (which my friends is NO SMALL FEAT - if you haven't already done it yet, you will know what I mean when you have to do it...take my advice, and just go ahead and have their blood drawn early.  It will save you some time.  Okay, so it's not really THAT bad...but almost!).  Never mind the fact that it was the night of the deadline to sign up and that I had been bugging him for a week to get it done, before it was too late.  Can you guess when we file our taxes? But I can't complain, because he did get it done.  It just adds more stress to me to wait to the last minute like that.  How he can do it at the last minute and remain cool is a mystery to me.

We finished our shopping (more looking than shopping) and went to eat before heading home.  At home the youngest princess and her friend were watching a movie that super-dad had rented for them.  The oldest princess came home right behind me from her baby-sitting job, and the young prince was doing his best to stay out of all the "girliness".  Although he did walk through and get pulled into the movie they were watching.  The friend spending the night ended up falling asleep and so we called it a night (after I put sheets on their bed, because they were still in the dryer).

Saturday morning, I was up first as usual.  I love getting up before everyone else and having some quiet time before the busyness of the day begins.  I put on a load of laundry, grab something to drink (chocolate milk or hot chocolate) and my study Bible and find myself deep in the  story of Jacob returning to meet Esau.  Very interesting how he splits up his wives and children, and once again shows favoritism to Rachel and Joseph by placing them in the back so that they will have the best chance of survival should Esau make good on his promise to kill Jacob.  But of course, God already had everything worked out.  Jacob did not have to plan and scheme to protect his family.  Oh.  I get it.  At least, for now.  Lord, help me to remember that You have "it" already worked out.  I don't have to plan and scheme to protect my family.  Please forgive me for the times I have, and help me to trust You more in the future.

My quiet time is over quickly and little feet come pattering down the stairs.  They are hungry.  Thankfully they are happy with PopTarts and milk, because we are lacking in the breakfast food department.  Their bellies full, they are content to move to the living room to finish the movie they started last night.  Eventually everyone trickles down the stairs, and the house is full of activity.  Straightening up, cleaning, folding, sweeping, washing, drying, laughing, it is the stuff Saturdays are made of.

Lunch rolls around and we offer a gourmet helping of grilled cheese and chips.  Because we are lacking in the lunch food department.  My prince runs to the store, because we are lacking in the dinner food department, and picks up steaks and frozen shrimp.  The steaks which he would marinate in Dale's sauce and grill to perfection, and the shrimp which I would whip up using my favorite Pinterest recipe - lemon butter shrimp.  We figured since we skimped on breakfast and lunch, we would do dinner big.  Meanwhile, the youngest princess's friend had gone home, and the house had settled to a lull.

That is when the oldest princess came and asked me if she could go and pick up two of the children she babysits, who have been wanting to come to our house and play.  I told their mom, not thinking that they were listening, that one day when the house was clean (it is okay for you to laugh here), that we would have them over.  Well, the oldest one who is in Kindergarten heard me, and every day since would ask me, and the young prince, and the oldest princess, "Is your house clean yet?"  Um...want motivation to clean your house?  Tell a 5 year old that you will have them over when your house is clean.  You will be motivated.  I know this from experience.

So she arranged it, and went and picked them up.  The next couple of hours were filled with legos, hopscotch, Nerf gun fights, cartwheels, Barbies, imaginary shopping trips, and sidewalk chalk.  I know, now you all want to come to my house right?  I will have you over as soon as I get it clean again...

The oldest princess left to take them for ice cream and then home, and preparations for dinner began. I never can get everything done all at the same time.  I don't know how my momma did it!  But we did eventually get everything done, and enjoyed a very good dinner.  It was the last good dinner we would have for a while.

The young prince had on his brand new, really cool, UnderArmor (had not even been washed) basketball warm-up pants, when he was challenged by his little sister to get his handcuffed hands from behind him, to in front of him, without taking off the handcuffs (cheap play ones that came in a cowgirl dress up set).  Challenge accepted.  No self respecting big brother is going to be outdone by his little sister.  So he stands up, allows her to put the handcuffs on him, and proceeds to try to get his hands in front of him.  He could have done it.  I have no doubt that he could have.  But he was suddenly distracted by a small ripping sound.  A sound that stopped him dead in his tracks.  He looked at me and said, "I'm pretty sure I just ripped my brand new pants."  Sure enough.  The handcuffs had snagged on his pants and tore a nice little hole about the size of the tip of my pinky finger.  I told him to take them off and I would find someone who could fix them for him.  Before Tuesday.  When he needed to wear them. "Hey, can you fix my son's pants?  And can you do it like right now?"

Sunday was a good day.  Great services Sunday morning.  Sunday afternoon we sent the oldest two off with the youth group to eat lunch and shop for Operation Christmas Child.  The youngest went home with a friend.  My prince and I quickly ate lunch at a local buffet and then home to study and prepare for Sunday night.  The oldest two came home about the time my Prince had to leave.  They turned around and headed back to church pretty quickly as well for Christmas play practice.  I had about an hour to study for my Wednesday night class before I headed back to church as well.  After church Sunday night, I can't even remember what we did.  Seriously.  Can't remember.  Maybe because it was uneventful compared to what was coming next...