Monday, October 14, 2013

Lexi Girl is One

Lexi is officially a year old as of Saturday.
I can't believe she isn't a tiny baby anymore.
She is still tiny, but you know what I mean.
She will be walking any day, and she is full of personality.
Anyone and everyone she meets comments on her smile.
It is so cute.
And still totally toothless.
I can't believe how much I love this little girl.
She is a bright spot in a tough year.
Since we are living community style with my sister in a small house, we decided not to have a huge birthday party for her.
We just did a little family BBQ at my mom and dad's house.
I decorated in pink and pumpkin, and it turned out really cute.

Since it was just family at the party I set out this little table where everyone could write Lexi a note that she would open on her 18th birthday.  

I saw the idea on pinterest (where else?) and loved it.

I try to think about ways to make my kids birthdays meaningful.

I know when I turned 18 I would have loved to have gotten special notes from my family about me at a year old.

Now I just have to remember where I put them for the next 17 years.

I sanded (and by I, I mean my husband) and painted a wooden high chair I found on Craig's List for 5 bucks.

I also made the little "1" banner attached to the chair.

One other decoration that made the party really special was her pictures over the last 12 months in a frame my brother in law made for Lexi's baby shower when I was pregnant.

I love reusing things like this.

It is so fun to see how much she has changed over the course of the year.

I ended up making her a pumpkin muffin as her "smash cake" because it was the only recipe that seemed easy and tasty without eggs.

One last little piece of her party was this adorable tutu outfit I ordered on Etsy.

It was exactly what I wanted for her.

She looked so precious in the whole get-up.

It was a really special day to celebrate our precious gift from God.

She is such a joy.

I try to write my kids a letter every year around their birthday just to recap some of the small details I know I will forget as they grow.

I am not sure when I will give them their "book" of letters . . . maybe at 18, maybe on their wedding day, maybe to find when I am gone (probably not since I am really looking forward to watching them cry as they read . . .haha) . . . but I love writing the way I feel right at that stage.

I hope and pray they can feel it too as they read these letters.

Here is a portion of Lexi's from this year.

Dearest Lexi Girl,
               You were quite the surprise to our family, but I know that God picked exactly you to fit right in.  This past year has been the hardest in my life thus far.  I know it wasn’t the worst I could imagine, but it was hard and looked hopeless on multiple occasions.  You were such a bright spot.  You were something I could always look to as a picture of God’s grace and love for me.  Your sweet smile is such a gift.
                The day before you were born I wrote you a short note on my blog to ask you to come quickly and as painlessly as possible.  You delivered then and you continue to be an extremely easy baby.  Your daddy always says that he prayed and prayed that God would give us a “go with the flow” kid while our life was so crazy.  He answered our prayers and so much more with you.   
                Lexi, you are such a gift.  I literally thank my God everyday for placing exactly you in my arms 12 months ago.  I hope and pray that I cherish every moment with you.  I know the years will fly by, but I want to make happy memories for you to remember.  You are such a special little girl who brings so much joy to so many people.  Your smile is a light.  I pray you always use it to shine for your Savior.  He blessed you with such a sweet spirit.  I am learning from you already.  I want people to react to me the way they do to you.  It is impossible to be unhappy when I am around you.  You are a blessing to your father, your brothers and me.  We can’t get enough of you.  We celebrate your life.  We love you so very much, precious one.
 I love you, my sweet, sweet smile,


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Not so scary

Tim had an admissions conference he had to attend in Orlando from Sunday until Wednesday.
One of the major perks of homeschooling is that we can tag along on these trips.
George had been begging us to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for quite a while, so I checked on the dates to see if we could squeeze it in on this trip.
There was a party Sunday night, so we bought tickets and decided to surprise him when we got to the hotel.
He was so excited.
I love surprising my kids.
We got the kids all dressed in their costumes and headed over to the Magic Kingdom.
Both Ethan and Lexi fell asleep on the way over.

 They knew it was going to be a long night, so they got their rest when they could.
My mom came with us for the night.
The kids were so excited to have her there.
And Tim and I were thankful for the extra set of hands.
On Monday Tim was in meetings all day.
When he got back we went to Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival.
It is one of my favorite things at Disney.
Totally delicious.
George and I got to ride the new Test Track.
George got blocked in the picture.
On Tuesday Tim had meetings all day again, but we decided to head out to Magic Kingdom once again when he got back.

We had a blast, but we were all exhausted when we came home Wednesday.
George took a nap for the first time in years.
It was a fun spur of the moment trip, and I will remember it forever.
Family time can be stressful, but it is also so special.
I love this family of mine.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I believe there is only one more thing I need to document from our time in Fort Myers.
It was not a pleasant experience, but it will be forever in my memory.
I fed both my boys scrambled eggs as one of their first finger foods.
Lexi was 10 months old, so I figured I could go ahead and try out giving her eggs.
She didn't (and still doesn't) have any teeth, so she can only eat super soft things.
Anyway, I thought eggs would be perfect.
I blended like 1/4 of an egg into her food that evening to see if she liked the taste.
Before I get too far, let me also say that I had a small taste of her allergy when I was in Georgia with my college friends.
I gave her a small bite of a quiche, and she got a red mark on her cheek.
I commented to the girls that I wondered if she had a slight allergy.
She has always had eczema, which I know is usually a sign of some sort of food allergy.
Both the boys had eczema as babies, but they grew out of it - my wishful thinking was that she would too.
So back to the night of the "incident."
I had Tim feed her the eggful food, and after about 5 bites she started crying and arching her back in her seat.
Not a good sign and not normal for our usually happy girl.
It was her naptime right after, so I hoped she was just really tired and laid her down in the crib.
When I put her pacifier in her mouth she had a little red ring around her mouth.
I started to get nervous and called my mom's friend who is a pediatrician.
She told me to grab some benedryll and give it to her right away.
She also said if she threw up or made any weird noises in her throat to call 911 because she could stop breathing.
Not what I wanted to hear.
I ran to the store to grab the benedryll, while Tim stayed home to put Lexi in the bath to calm her down.
When I got back to the house she was covered in hives.
Like you couldn't see one spot of normal skin on her entire body.
I tried to give her benedryll, but she puked it right up.
Then she started making noises in her throat, and her ear swelled up.
You can imagine what we did next.
Called 911 and rode an ambulance to the ER.
On a stretcher in her car seat. 
Saddest sight ever.

The paramedic was nice enough.

He didn't have kids and laughed when I asked, so needless to say he probably thought I was totally crazy.

He was sorta right.

We got to the ghetto hospital, and they immediately gave her a shot of steroids and an antihistamine.

We had to go to an adult hospital because it was the closest, but it definitely wasn't the nicest.

Lady in the "stall" next to us was having neck pains and moaning for more pain meds every five seconds.

We had to stay for observation for almost two hours at which time they sent us home even though she was still covered in hives.

But she was happy.

The nurse said it had been long enough without throat closure that we were safe even though she still looked terrible.

So home we went.

And we watched her all night.

By morning she was back to normal.

And I have a child with an egg allergy.

It is no fun, but I am praying, praying, praying that she outgrows it by 3.

That is pretty common from what I hear.

We still haven't seen an allergist because of the move and insurance switches.

But we will.

And we will be swatting the boys hands away from her mouth as they try to shove baked goods her way.

At the moment my biggest issue is finding a decent cake recipe without eggs for her first birthday.

With so many much worse things that could be, I am grateful for that small issue. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homeschooling - for real

"Homeschooling is an extremely sanctifying experience." -Louise Bettelli
(on facebook wall 9/30/13, in case you want to use that quote, I wanted to give you the original source)
Sanctifying is the process of making holy or pure.
Homeschooling is a process, no doubt.
And it is going to make me more like Christ whether I like it or not.
I am forced to be more patient than I ever have.
Yes, I have three small children that I stay home with.
And yes I have been mothering for 6 years.
And yes, this homeschooling job has definitely pushed my patience to the limits more than anything, ever.
I would say the most difficult part is trying to tend to the younger Bettelli's while teaching George.
I try to plan the most important/hardest subjects during naptime, but anyone with little kids knows that naps are not a given . . . especially timing them as an exact science.
Now I am not writing this as a cry for helpful tips.
I just want to give anyone who wants to know what it is really like a picture of our crazy school time.
We usually get up around 7:30.  I try to get them dressed and fed within the first hour.
I let them watch one show on tv, so I can get dishes washed and one load of laundry in the machine.
I would love to say I also use this time to dress myself and maybe even get wild and brush my teeth, but in the spirit of transparency I usually don't.  
George's teacher is usually in pajamas until lunchtime.
Tim said I am going to be sent to the principal's office for not wearing a bra to school.
9:00 is the official school start time.  The first bell, if you will.
The "start" goes something like this . . . 
Me:  "George, go grab your journal and start writing while I spank Ethan for hitting Lexi."
George:  "Why do we always have to start with journaling and how many subjects are we doing today?"
If you don't call that starting out on the right foot, then you don't know what starting out on the right foot is.
Around 9:15 we actually start putting pencil to paper.
At 9:30 he starts Bible and I have to read the passages to him for the curriculum, which is impossible with Lexi's "talking" and Ethan's craziness.
So I decide to try nap #1 for Lexi and preschool for Ethan.
If you are imagining a crazy lady running back and forth between boys who are both yelling, "mom, I need your help," simultaneously, then you are imagining exactly what my life is like.
9:45 We finally get to Bible for George.
Then comes Math.
George asks how long Math is going to take because P.E. and snacktime are after Math, and those are his favorite subjects.
While Lexi is still asleep, we go outside on our front driveway for PE to run laps around the cars and write with sidewalk chalk.
Don't worry, at this point I do put on a bra . . . still under my pajamas, but who is going to be looking at the mom in her pajamas sitting on a lawn chair on the driveway when there are children doing laps around the cars like crazy people?
We have no backyard in this house, and because Lexi is asleep there is no leaving for a park - so the driveway is pretty much it.
Snacktime is another pleasant time.
They don't like what I make them (by make I mean like unwrap a cheese stick - don't let anyone tell you the Bettelli's aren't gourmet), so we argue about who is in charge and then I give in and change it.
Around 11 Lexi wakes up . . . just in time for school to start again.
Time for phonics and reading.
I encourage/bribe Ethan to go in his room and play legos.  
He wants Lexi to play too, which is a recipe for disaster . . . but I think to myself, "one of these days he won't bother her and they will play nice.  Why can't that day be today?" . . . so I let her in there.
5 minutes into George's excellent reading of Tiptoes I hear wild screaming in the bedroom.
Then I hear Ethan yelling, "Mom, Lexi's ok.  Her ok."
Now would you go check or leave it be?
I won't tell you what I do, because I don't want you to think I am a bad mom.
We finish phonics and reading, which is a bonding time of "mom, I already know this.  Why do I have to keep doing it over and over again?"
"Because that is what the Abeka lesson plans tell us we have to do.  And I wouldn't be a very good teacher if I didn't follow the lesson plans, now would I?"
Blank stare.
Somehow we finish (only by God's grace), and then it is lunchtime.
Repeat snacktime woes except with even more food they hate love.
Then Ethan gets his much-needed rest from abusing playing with Lexi with a nice long nap.
I will give Ethan props for naptime.
(since I threw him under the bus quite a few times in my honesty about our morning)
He goes right down when I say it is naptime, and his usual nap is 3-4 hours.
Now, this may be because he doesn't fall asleep until after 11 o'clock at night, which may or may not be because of the aforementioned 3-4 hour nap.
But mama needs Ethan's naptime, so we continue to take naptime and praise Jesus that Daddy is home to deal with bedtime every night.
The afternoon wouldn't be too bad except everyone knows that kids and adults alike are at their best first thing in the morning, so you can imagine what our last 3 or 4 subjects are like with George.
I do try to throw in a fun science experiment or art project from my very ambitious pinterest board once in a while, but for some odd reason they don't usually turn out the same as the ones in the pictures.
And that is our day.
5 days a week.
A few "for real" tips if you are thinking about taking this road:
1.  Separate the homeschool area from the "busy" areas of the house.
I know a lot of families homeschool at the dining room table, but I have a very smart and focused child who has a hard time paying attention when his siblings are all about.
We do not have a enough space for a separate room in our current living situation, but I plan to school George in my bedroom with a desk.
It isn't ideal, but it keeps him from the loud noises that I can't keep the other two from making.
2.  Play worship music constantly (except when you are actually teaching).
The music and songs will just relieve so much of the stress.
I love to just make my mind concentrate on the words instead of all the things I did wrong that day.
It is also a great way to start a dance party with the kids - and I challenge you to tell me one thing that a dance party can't make better?
3.  Make the schooling as independent as possible.
George is only in 1st grade, but he is an excellent reader.
This makes my life a whole lot easier because after I teach the new material he can read all the directions and do any worksheets or tests on his own.
4.  Go to bed early (you and the kids)
Everyone knows that well-rested people are less-cranky people.
5.  Enlist the help of your husband.
Homeschooling is a family commitment, not just a mommy commitment.
If you have a super rough day, pass off some school duties to daddy.
He does work all day, but so do we.
6.  Simplify the rest of your duties.
I used to plan somewhat elaborate meals for my family and do a lot of menu planning.
Now I just look for meals that we can use as leftovers the next night on Pinterest because that is what keeps me sane.
On a serious note . . . I am 100% certain that this is what I am supposed to be doing this year.
If I wasn't more than sure, I would not be doing it.
It isn't for the faint of heart . . . or the mother with more than one child.
It is a lot of work and a huge responsibility.
But I know that George and I are forming a stronger bond than we would ever have had if I didn't take the chance to teach him.
I don't think I will be a life-long homeschooler because I do see some real advantages of school (real ones, not things like me not having to fight over snack foods - although that is a very big deal).
But I am going to embrace the right now.
And embrace the sanctification process for all it's worth.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Not in my plans

I don't even know where to start on this post.
Our "plan" was to stay in Fort Myers for another year, while trying to sell our house in Largo before moving to Trinity where Tim was going to be the new admissions director.  
We signed a year lease on a house in April when Tim signed his contract for the following school year.
I felt like we would be somewhat stable for 12 months, and I was really looking forward to that.
I know "stability" isn't promised, but so many people have preached to me that the seasons of life change.
This "season" of instability has run its course for the Bettelli family.
We are ready for a new one.
Mid July, when we got back from our last summer road trip, the principal called to have a meeting with Tim.
He didn't have a good feeling about it, but we tried to stay positive.
During the meeting Tim was laid off because their enrollment was way down, and Tim was the last one hired.
It was such a shock.
Tim had turned down taking the Trinity job early because he wanted to honor his contract with this very school that he signed in April.

It is always so tough to accept the things we have no control over.

This one was very hard for me . . . probably even more than Tim.

I guess I have stability issues.

Hmmmm . . . . 
He called Trinity right away and thank the good Lord they told him he could start September 1st.
We were so thankful to have a job but still so sad to leave Fort Myers so soon.
We loved the house we had been living in for the last four months, and we loved our church and friends.

It almost felt like "here we go again" after all the moving and reorganizing we had been doing for the last year.
Because the transition was happening so fast we didn't have time to find a house in Trinity.
Our only option was to move back into the house we owned in Largo.

The catch was that my sister was renting it from us, so we all moved in with her.
This house is also an hour away from the job, so the commute is no fun.
But again, we are happy to have a job and thankful that God provided once again.
One of the real ways I saw God's hand through all of this was in our decision to homeschool George.

I never ever thought it would be something I would want to do, but God totally brought it to my attention at the end of last year.
And with all this transition it is truly the only way we feel like we could have done it without doing him an academic disservice.

Again, I see God moving and working through all of these circumstances.

But I don't write to act like I am always happy or excited to have to endure some of these things.

The more that I see and endure, the more I honestly don't know how people assimilate life without the hope of Christ.

Some days in the midst of all this instability, and mothering, and teaching, and just doing the next thing . . . God is my only light and my only hope.

Thanking Him for Him today.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Listing Life

I'm not quite sure how my love of lists came about . . . 

I may have been born with the gift.

Or I may have learned after too long of forgetting things in my seriously, not-big-enough brain.

Either way - I am a self-proclaimed lister.

And proud of it.

I have kept a list of topics or events I want to blog about over the last few months.

The list is quite long.
(A digital list on my iphone - thank God for the "notes" app)

It is overwhelming when I think about writing a blog for each thing on my list.

But they are important things.

Things I want to remember and get down in this cyber-scrapbook.

So, today I got the brilliant idea of just doing a blog-list.

A list of life over the past few months to get me up to date and hopefully spur me on to do a better job in the blogging department . . . and the mothering department, and the homeschooling department, and the cleaning department, and the wife department and so on.

I think my last chronological blog was about my brother's law school graduation (he has since studied, taken and passed the bar exam - yay, Peter).

In May I also took a short 6 week job at the school Tim worked at for a teacher who had a baby.

It was fun to get my feet back in the world of teaching, but it was totally crazy finding care for the two littlest Bettelli's.

The last week in May we took a vacay to Disney while they had their 3-day Florida resident passes for $100.

Doesn't it look like fun?

We did have a really great time, and it was the start of Tim's summer at home.

After Disney we went to Clearwater for a week to meet my brother's new baby, Brooklyn, for the first time.

From Clearwater, we went to Lake Swan camp with Tim's new boss at Trinity.

It is so amazing how God works, because we thought it would be a year before we were working for Trinity.

But God used that time to get us prepared for a much sooner start date.

We drove home from Lake Swan for a few days and then went to West Palm Beach for my dad's annual meeting.

That was super fun!

Especially the part where I got to drive to Orlando to hear the infamous NKOTB perform with some of my favorite ladies.

The following week we left for our road trip to Charleston and Atlanta.

We stayed with one of my college BFF's, Stephanie, and her cute family in Charleston for a long weekend.

We stayed with my Aunt in Atlanta and got to visit some exciting places.

Like the Coke Factory.

We were supposed to go to Stone Mountain for the 4th, but it was raining all day.

So we crashed Tim's sister's house in Vero Beach and celebrated there.

We came home from that to a lay-off and a new job  in Trinity.

Thus began our plans to move out of the lovely house we were renting and move back to Largo.

Before the move I took one last summer trip to Georgia with my sorority sisters and Lexi.

My friend, Stephanie, posted about the whole trip on her blog.

So, that wraps up the list of our summer adventures.

Next up is what's gone on since then . . . life never slows down!