Monday, December 24, 2007

I Need To Get To The North Pole, Daddy

Christmas with children is such a magical time. Baking together, playing even more games than usual together, taking time to create things together, and of course plotting together enhances their memories for years to come. In fact, many of the things I do with my children were things my parents did with me. We also enjoy making new memories and doing things that we've never done before. And this morning, Laura ventured in to new territory for all of us.

After getting Laura out of bed, I brought her in to rest a bit more with Daddy and I. We were still tired from the cleaning frenzy we'd engineered the night before and we needed a bit more rest. As Laura laid there with us, I assumed she was just waking up and enjoying the time sandwiched between her two favorite people in the whole wide world. I was mistaken. She was busy, very busy. Busy creating! All of the sudden she says "I need to get to the North Pole, Daddy." Uhhh... okay. Sure. We'll go along with that. "Oh? What do you want to do there?" That was a nice, open ended parental response, don't you think? Well Laura didn't think so.

With much determination, and as she climbs out of her sleep sack, she says "Daddy, I need a boxed. A big boxed. I wan to paint the bottom of it lellow and the top I'll paint red." Then as she slipped off the end of the bed she says "Come on guys! Let's get to worked!". Daddy looks over at me and rolls his eyes closed. Hmmmm... doesn't seem like he's up for 'getting to worked'.

Laura noticed. She goes over to his side of the bed and continues to talk about the North Pole and her need to get a big box. Then she says "I don think I wan to paint the top red. I think I'll paint it pinked!" I let her know I approve of her choice while she pokes Daddy a few times and says with as much enthusiasm "Come on guys! We need to get to worked! I'm going to the North Pole!"

Thankfully, Jonathan chose that moment to come in to the room. He went along with her creative thinking for awhile and then helped detour her to another topic. Slowly, Daddy got out of bed and gathered himself for the day ahead. I think he was so relieved he wasn't required to build a 'lellow and pink' sleigh out of a cardboard box, complete with a door that he almost danced with glee. I, on the other hand, quietly thanked the Lord for Jonathan one more time and headed down the stairs to make breakfast.

Yes, Christmas with children is a wonderful thing! More stories to follow, I assure you!

Frosty and Frostbite In The Tub

What do you do when it is too cold outside to play for very long and yet the snow makes it all so inviting??? Why you ask your Daddy to haul some snow to the bathtub for you!!! Four buckets full seemed to work well for our first foray in to bathtub building, but next time I think we'll con, er, ask him to bring up a bit more.

The first creations - Frosty and Frostbite, his dog. Note the creativity in finding something to use for Frosty's face. Can't beat hairbands I guess!

And the very proud creators, Jonathan and Laura.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Capturing The Family At Christmas...

Every Christmas it seems Mothers everywhere gather their families together, force them to dress in something they might not choose for themselves, at least not at the same time someone else in the family is wearing nearly the same thing, prop them up in a festive setting and cajole a smile or two from them while flashing lights pop when they least expect it. Yes, it is holiday picture taking time. And it would be fair to say that my children do not think of this as a part of the most wonderful time of the year. However, they eventually cooperate and my need is fulfilled for another year.

Here are some the pictures we took today. Some, like those represented here, will find their way under the tree for family members. Others won't ever see the light of day again. :) Ah, the power of digital photos!

Our family

Our wonderfully photogenic children

Here's one of my favorites! I just know Jonathan will love this one some day, too.

My Mom and Dad look great, don't they?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

You Don't Do That A Peoples!

When you as a parent are enjoying the peace and quiet on a Saturday morning, it is nice to kick back and be thankful for just how wonderful your life is, how much of a blessing your husband is, and how great your kids are. You can relax knowing that the Lord has provided so much for you, just you, and all is right with the world. And then...


Kinda brings you right back to reality, doesn't it?

Yes, my children were, emphasis on were mind you, playing quite nicely together. They were even including Laura in their fun. I was lulled in to a sense of peace befitting the season we are celebrating. Until reality came crashing in. Apparently, Jonathan and Matthew were very busy breaking one of the staunch house rules - NO PILLOW THROWING - when Laura happened to walk between the two of them. Yes, you guessed it. Smack. Right on the ol' noggin. Instead of taking the victim role, one she normally relishes with tremendous dramatic flair, she opted instead to take a more verbal role, choosing to put the boys in their place and play Mommy instead. I would have opted for a more calm approach where the pillow was snatched out from between them before they saw it coming closely followed by some question meant to help them determine that if they didn't change their activities pronto, life would be meeting them quite quickly square in their seat of learning followed by some personal quiet time, but Laura saw fit to do it her way. I can see why. She's not nearly as good at interceptions as I am but I'm sure she'll learn.

After a brief period of everyone shouting something to the other two, I heard howls of laughter coming from the room. Laura, dealing with the problem in her own way, had inadvertently come up with a way to defuse the situation and send everyone back to being the good kids that they are without breaking their spirits, or any lamps for that matter. I can't wait to see how she handles the next difficulty. Hey, if she's got the parenting thing figured out at 3 years of age, we've got a long road ahead of us! Then again, she'll make a great Mom someday, won't she? :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Making Merry in the 12 Days of Christmas

Lisa sent this to me and I just love it so I thought I'd share it with you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Plot Thickens

I have shared often of Laura's ability to plot. She learned it well. Yes, I said learned. Her abilities have been passed down from her Great Grandma "Nana", to her Grandpa "Poppy" (and let us not forget her Grandma "Honey"), through her Mommy and on to her brothers to get her her. Her Daddy doesn't hurt the process, either. He's a plotter from way back. So she has learned well. And her plotting brings much amusement to us every time she uses it as she has failed to learn subtleties yet. I'm sure that will come. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy the process.

Around here, plotting has become an art around the holidays. I learned this talent very well from two of the best plotters in the business - my parents. I fondly remember the year they purchased a 'new to us' console television. I was to be delivered so it was no use searching the house for it. And to extend the agony, my parents chose to give us clues. And of course we could ask questions as much as we wanted. But we learned early on to expect vague, cryptic answers. For instance, in wanting to know how the present would be delivered we came up with every direct question known to man regarding transportation - or so we thought. We asked if it was going to be delivered by truck, car, van, delivery van, and so on, and even threw in bicycle and wagon for good measure. But each time we were met with "No, that's not it" and a sly smile on my Mom's face. When it finally arrived, it came by STATION WAGON. And I began to learn just how to plot and plan for wonderful surprises. They pulled it off again the year they got us kittens, and I fondly remember them bringing home our first artificial tree AFTER Christmas as they'd gotten it on clearance, fully decorated with Disney ornaments and sparkling lights. We were told to wait upstairs while they brought in a family surprise. Oh the waiting! They knew how to build anticipation, didn't they? I recall waiting until the following Christmas with tremendous anticipation as well. Yes, they were pros. And I realize as time goes on that I learned well.

I usually begin plotting and planning in earnest as the summer comes to a close, and have things well in had by the time Black Friday has come and gone. I remember fondly the time I plotted, with Matthew mind you, to purchase a guitar 'for Krista' who just might want to learn to play someday. Asking him things like "what kid of guitar do you think Michelle should consider?" and "Do you think she'd like this color" or "How about this pick set" really helped assure that he had exactly what he wanted. Or there was the year we got the boys a gamecube... that was a lot of fun and kept them guessing for months. But this year will probably last in Jonathan's memory for a very long time.

Jonathan rarely asks for anything. Since I have a "I will not buy any more Lego's or bionicles" rule - they have far too many as it is - he really is just content using what he has to be creative, drawing, playing video games and playing the games we've collected since I was a child. His needs are not great and his tender heart falls in love with anything you get him. Sometimes I strive very hard to get him things he'd like and we decided this year would be a year for 'science' stuff since he's always interested in rocks and what not. And we have a few things for him, but not a lot. After asking him over and over again for what he wants, he finally settled on two things - a Wii (not going to happen this year) or an ipod. Hmmm... Let the plotting begin!!!

When The Holidays Turn In To The Holidaze

I am always amazed at how quickly children learn things that aren't necessarily those you long for them to achieve. For instance, Jonathan has a wonderful knack for remembering what you said five months ago regarding what might happen during the holiday season and is holding on to that promise for all he's worth. Or there's Matthew who remembers what happened five years ago at Christmas that he just loved and wants it to happen again this year 'for old times sake'. And then there's Laura...

She's apparently learned, in one quick decision I made last Saturday morning that didn't even effect her in any way, shape or form, that the holidays are a time when some standards are a tad bit more lax that usual. It seems that Matthew's ability to share in an ice cold can of caffeine for breakfast on Saturday met with consternation from the younger quarters. In order to keep the peace I happened to say with tremendous flippancy "I allowed it this morning in honor of the holidays". Yes, you saw that coming didn't you?

Laura not only saw it coming, she remembered it with the same tenacity that she remembers dolls, shoes and purses she saw once, too. Yesterday afternoon she was getting hungry and didn't want to wait for dinner to be served. Even when I told her we'd be having mashed potatoes and gravy. After the second time she asked for 'princess snacks' and I turned her down she got quiet for a moment. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her contemplating her next move. Suddenly her face lit up, she pasted a wonderful smile on her face, took her hand and pulled my face toward hers and said "But Mommy! It's the hol-days!" It took all I could muster to say no again without busting out in laughter, let alone keep the smile hidden from her eyes.

I think, after all was said and done, that she insisted it was the "hol-days" at least 10 or 12 times. I'm sure she thought she could break down my resolve as I love the Christmas season. But my desire to be a good parent is a much bigger resolve so it won out.

I wonder how many more times she'll try to get something in the next week or so just because "It's the hol-days!", don't you?

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Stand Amazed...

Well, laid amazed, perhaps. Last night was a new, all time effort on Laura's part. She went above and beyond what anyone would ever expect, or imagine. No, not in her development or her mental capacity. No, we know those are just dandy. In fact, last night she proved it. And she proved that her persistence and tenacity are much stronger forces in her than anyone previously imagined. Yes, she reached a new level of stubbornness, er, determination. And I have the dark circles to prove it.

She went to bed later than normal. Lately, we've gotten her to bed as close to 8 as we could and it has worked out well for all of us. This gives the boys another hour before their bed deadline, and Don and I have time to do what we need to do before we settle down, too. And frankly, she needs the sleep. But as I was saying, last night she didn't get to bed until after 9. In my mind I'd already computed the logical outcomes of having an extra 30 to 60 minutes in the morning before she got up and began distracting the boys from their schoolwork. And I smiled to myself thinking of all the math Jonathan and I could get done alone. I think I smiled too big. The blinding light must have been too bright for such a late hour. Laura must have seen it...

At 4 AM the crying started. Don and I waited a few minutes just to be sure she was awake and then he trudged down the hallway to help her get cuddled in under her too small blanket once again. Peace reigned. For a whole minute. Then she started in on a new angle. I think she must have had to weigh and evaluate in her mind what might be the most effective after she'd used 'the blanket ploy'. She settled on 'my foot hurts'.

I think you need to know, as I needed to reassure myself in those wee hours, that her feet are fine. We've overcome the pressure sore issue with her FAB and have figured out just how much padding we need to use with the sheep skin so all is well. They did NOT need adjusting. After 8 to 10 minutes of fussing, I went down the hall to let her know I knew she was full of it. I also told her that I wouldn't be returning. She was fine, her room was fine, her bed was fine, her blanket was fine, life was fine. Well, except for the early hour. But that didn't seem to phase her much. After she realized I meant it, she laid down and I helped tuck her back in once again.

I made it down the hall and in bed before she started fussing again. I think she used the time to plot a new course. This time she had a bad dream. I laughed and said to no one in particular "When? Yesterday at nap???" Don laughed, too. When that brought no one after several moments of fussing, she paused, plotted some more and went on to a new complaint. Over the course of the next hour or so she complained that her feet hurt umpteen times, that she needed help with her blankets, that she was having a bad dream, that she was having a nightmare, that she wanted fuzzy bunny, and that she was hungry. She even stopped crying periodically and, in a very pleasant voice, said "Mom. I awaked. I ready to get up now." :) Yes, she tried it all, several times each. She even threw a few temper tantrums in all of that. She really tried hard. And she was very persistent. Very. But Daddy and I held firm.

Eventually she calmed down. Note I never said she went back to sleep. Because she didn't. She got up at 4 and she's still up. And she took each and every member of the household with her. After all, with all of that fussing, the boys woke up, too. *sigh* We're all a bit bleary-eyed and tired, and Daddy probably had to have the bus driver wake him up at his stop. But through it all I just kept smiling. In fact, I was actually rejoicing. Actually praising the Lord. Why? Because not once, not ever in all of her fussing did she ever say "My tummy hurts." It is so far removed from her experience that she didn't even remember to pull it out of the hat with all of her other efforts. It isn't an issue any longer. After three and a half years, she's finally got a normal tummy. God is good, isn't he? :):):)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pop! Goes The Caramel Corn!

Every year for the past umpteen years, my Mom and I make a lot of something to give to our neighbors, friends and our employees. This number used to run towards 80 and even 90 or 100 some years. However, my 'retirement' to raise my family knocked some of that number down, and my Mom's responsibilities have grown smaller, too. So we're down to making 50 to perhaps 60 of something.

Each year we talk for months about what we can do with what we've got, or what scripture we want to emphasize this year or what we can actually accomplish without giving up too much time with our families, but we rarely get to it until the deadline approaches. This year was no different. And this year we had the extra time consuming stress of doing the St. Louis drive bys so we opted for easy. Or relatively so, anyway. We opted to make Baked Caramel Corn.

Baked Caramel Corn is a old family-type recipe. We've used it for years, ever since I was a teenager. And we won't go in to how long ago that was. Anyway, Mom and I hatched a plan to bake for two solid days. We'd turn out enough to fill her 40 large tins for her staff as well as gallons for friends, neighbors, carry in parties and our own Christmas celebrations, of course. And we did it. Two days, and about 22 double batches later, approximately 88 gallons of caramel corn worked its way from the Stir Crazy, to the coating bowls, to the oven, and then the counter to cool. Then we packaged it according to how it was to be given and we're good to go. Many of our presents were taken care of and the stress of production is relieved.

However, the best part of the whole thing doesn't have anything to do with Christmas at all. It was just spending time with my family at my Mom's, enjoying everyone as we baked. The boys built a stick pile last week as they helped Poppy finish up the yard work for the year. Yesterday evening they lit it and made some s'mores. Tomorrow they will relight it to enjoy the rest of the pile before it becomes snow covered once again. Laura played with her babies, her dollhouses and wrote her 'wetter to Sanna' while watching her favorite PBS Christmas movies. And Don joined us when he got home from work. Yes, that was my absolute favorite part. Time with my family. After all, isn't sharing the love with them what Christmas is really part of celebrating Christmas? :)

Here is our tried and true Baked Caramel Corn recipe. I strongly recommend you not double it in the same pot but make two pots at the same time, pouring them over the corn individually before combining them on your trays. I've found over the years that I prefer a bit more popcorn than the 6 qts the recipe recommends and therefore make a bit more per each coating recipe. I've also found that if you double the recipe, you can bake it on three large trays instead of four. Just remember to stir it every 15 minutes or so! And enjoy!

Baked Caramel Corn


1 C butter or margarine
2 C firmly packed brown sugar
½ C light corn syrup
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
6 quarts popped popcorn

Melt butter; stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly,. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over popped corn, mixing well. Turn on to 2 large shallow baking pans. Bake in 250F oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely. Break apart. Makes about 5 quarts Caramel Corn.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Don't They Always Prove You Wrong???

Just this weekend I ventured in to Target to purchase yet another case of Pampers. Yes, I said case. As in lots of diapers. Seventy-two to be exact. Given Laura's stubborn desire to NOT grow up in all areas of her life, I figured it probably wasn't the last case I'd be buying. Apparently Laura, with an ability that all children have now and then, heard my brain as it wrapped around that thought and decided to prove me wrong. Really wrong. But this time I guess I can't complain.

As I type, Laura is on her third round through the little girls room today. She's proudly wearing Princess pull ups and she's managed to keep their flowers alive and well for half a day! Yes, half a day. That has to be some kind of record for her. Previously, Dora and the Princesses flower gardens would be watered without fail just moments after beginning to wear them. And sometimes, in some vague hope of disguising the fact that the flowers were now dead, gone, done in for good, she'd attempt to add a little extra fertilizer to see if that might help. Alas, this usually just caused the flowers to disappear in to oblivion never to be seen again. But today is different.

Today marks the beginning of a new era. Today, Laura has done her business in the little girls room three times. All three times she told us it was time for her to use the facilities. And all three times she hurried to get there, maintaining her composure while yelling for her bathroom buddy, Jonathan, to come and help her. I think my little girl is finally choosing to grow up in yet another way.

And I think I should have purchased a case of pull ups instead of diapers. Do they even come in cases? *sigh*

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clubfoot Saga Update

Last week the final cast came off in the initial series done by Dr. Dobbs. We can't thank him enough for all that he's done and how wonderful her feet are coming along. At the moment she's wearing her FAB for much of the day, getting a little time out each evening in order to relearn how to walk and to stretch her legs a bit. We'll start letting her have more time out as she gains confidence in walking once again.

When we returned to therapy on Monday, Laura was refusing to walk and really didn't want to stand up much, either. Our PT suggested that we encourage her to stand at a table that was high enough that she couldn't bend over it at her waist. Not having such a table meant that Poppy's talent for pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or in this case coming up with something Laura could use was quickly put to the test. This is what he produced, in just a short evening mind you.

When we went back for our second session of PT today, Merri Jo helped me take some pictures to share with Dr. Dobbs so he could see her progress and let us know if we would need further intervention or casting right now. Here is the most important picture we took today.

Let me contrast that with the one taken of her feet before Dr. Dobbs started the casting process. You may remember that we were facing bone surgery in order to correct what was diagnosed as 'heel varus' in about a year or so. Dr. Dobbs suggested casting to recorrect the feet instead. I think it is working!

In the past we've used SMO's to help her with stability, and then to keep her foot from getting any worse. It also seemed to help her be less tired when walking a lot. This morning our PT asked us to put them back on her to see if it helped her with stability again as she learns how to walk after spending a month in casts. She's standing in them at Poppy's table just before we left for therapy. And here she is in them at therapy. You'll note that when compared to her standing without them, she's much more relaxed and doesn't hyperextend her knees. I think we'll be using the SMO's for awhile longer.

All in all, we're quite pleased with her progress and look forward to buying normal shoes some time soon!


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I spent much of it in the kitchen, and we all ate ourselves in to oblivion, but overall it was a wonderful day. I intended to capture the day in pictures but alas the kitchen kept me far too busy. So here are just a few of the things that happened while our family and a friend or two had gathered together to give thanks for all we have been blessed with this year.

Every year, the ads are a common activity for those who still have Christmas shopping to do. Here's Jan planning some of her shopping.

And here's Diane. She was eating pie but conveniently put the plate down when I entered the room with a camera...

We have a new member in the family. Libby lives at Auntie Diane's house but Laura secretly thinks she's hers.

And no family holiday gathering would be complete without a rousing game of PIT.

Laura always finds ways to keep busy. She LOVES her Sweet Streets houses.

At the end of the day we were all packing up to go home. I think Libby hoped she'd get out just one more time to play before heading home.

But reality sunk in and she gave up, ready to rest up for the next family gathering.

The Casts Come Off!

Secretly, for the last or so of casting I had a private countdown going. Every time there was some difficulty dealing with a 3 year old in full double leg casts I'd do a quick tally and remind myself that there was only so many days, so many hours and so many minutes left until she'd be cast free again. I guess I'm selfish but I just wanted to give her a bath!!! And not so secretly, Laura said several times that she'd prefer to keep the casts on. I think she realized she got preferential treatment, including extra television hours, and she wasn't about to let go of that without voicing her preference. Last Monday, common sense and Mommy won out. Our wonderful PT, Miss Merri Jo, removed her casts so we didn't have to drive to St. Louis just for that. You'll note that Laura wasn't nearly as excited about the whole thing as I was. :)

Here she is getting started:

And here she is in the midst of the stress:

And finally! Done and back in tights!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Score Another One For The Potty Princess!!!

Well, number two actually. But I'm getting ahead of myself. :) After all, she scored the biggie this time. Yes, that's right. She did it. She perservered and it paid off. She stuck with it, waited patiently and she was rewarded with a few wonderful sounds of success. She went poopy on the potty!!! And it was a momentous occassion for several reasons.

In a magnificent gesture to assist his sister with her latest desire, and in an ongoing effort to get out of clearing the table from dinner, Jonathan did what any normal, helpful, big brother would do when faced with the persistent cries of his three year old sister pleading with someone, anyone to put her on the potty. He chose a numb bucket over dirty dishes. After all, what was more important, right? He valiantly helped her peel off her tights, stripped her of her skirt and helped her center the potty ring on just right. Then he braced himself and hefted her up there making sure everything was correctly aligned. In an effort to be sure she didn't catch a chill, he then went above and beyond. What, I'm not sure. But how many times have you walked in to the bathroom to find your hand towel, the one you use when your hands are clean, draped across the lap of someone sitting on the potty??? Yeah, it was first for me, too. I think I'll be changing the towels in there daily for awhile.

Anyway, he perservered right along with Laura, entertaining her through it all. He worked hard to keep her mind on her duty while making sure she didn't get too frustrated with the wait. I think he was about to break in to song, a true act of desperation on his part, when he heard the first fruits of his, well her, labors. By the time he heard the confirmation of another following, he was running out of the bathroom to spread the good news. I gave him a big hug and told him I was really proud of him. Not only had he managed to help Laura accomplish her first big job on the potty, he'd done it without numbing his butt checks in to oblivion, enabling him to share with the rest of the household her accomplishments in true Paul Revere style.

After making sure everything was cleaned up, Jonathan proceeded to produce what is known around here as 'potty currency' or more commonly referred to as M&M's. You get three when you use the potty and ten when you go poopy. I think he gave her more but hey, it was her first time. I can only hope that the trend continues. I figure that when you can time your diaper dumps to coincide with your need for attention at any given moment, it's time to be doing your business on the porcelain throne. KWIM?

Meanwhile, I'm very proud of them both. And I have a renewed feeling that someday, and perhaps someday even sooner than I ever imagined, I'll be able to stop picking up big purples boxes of diapers every time I enter Target. Someday... someday...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Daddy Is Definitely On Vacation...

Yes, Daddy is home on vacation. Not only do I look forward to these times, but the boys and Laura enjoy them thoroughly as well. Daddy hasn't had any vacation days since the summer when he had several weeks off that he spread out over the warmer days. We all got used to him being here and when he disappeared regularly to work again, we all went through withdrawal. But not this week. Oh no. Daddy will get his fill and then some of playing dollhouse, babies and even reading preschool books and playing Memory.

Laura is in her element. Just last week she was complaining that Daddy wasn't home and she wanted him to be here when she got up. I told her that her time was coming. It arrived this morning. Daddy got her up. Daddy fed her breakfast and Daddy is sitting next to her as she watches a cavalcade of Christmas PBS shows on video.

At one point there seemed to be a lull in the noise so I thought I'd go check and see how they were doing and share a bit of my recent Christmas online shopping purchases with Daddy. As I was standing there talking to him Laura interrupted. Nothing unusual in that. But what she said just cracked me up. As I paused to take a breath Laura stepped in to the conversation. She said "Mommy, go away. Daddy and I are playing!"

After cracking up I wondered if that would work for me. You know... those times when Daddy and Mommy are trying very hard to get in some privileges of married life but can't seem to manage it due to constant interruptions. Perhaps I can just say "Matthew/Jonathan, go away. Daddy and I are playing." Hmmmm... I guess not. But hey, it was worth a try at least once, right!?!? :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Say Goodnight Gracie, Er, Laura!

For a variety of reasons, not limited to the lack of oxygen for almost two years or sleeping with casts or shoes on a bar, Laura absolutely HATES sleeping with a blanket. In her bed, that is. She'll jump in our bed and slip under our covers pretending to be asleep without a thought. And if we happen to succumb and bring her in to our bed so everyone can get a little sleep on the really bad nights, she'll sleep under our blankets without a fuss as well. But in her bed??? Uh no. Nyet. Never. Not on your life. Won't have it. No blankets. Ever. *sigh*

We've done everything short of bribing her to use one. Her bedroom gets cold during the winter months and I mean cold. Too cold for humans without a cover. Even when they are in a fleece sleeper. But alas, stubborn child that she is, she won't tolerate a blanket any closer to her than stuffed at the bottom of her crib. Her hands turn in to little ice cubes and she fusses and fusses.

For her initial winter, she spent most of that time swaddled and in the bassinet in our room. The second winter we layered lots of layers on her and it seemed to work. By her third winter, layering was out of the question. Not only did we have difficulties finding sleepers that would layer well without being far too large, but she wouldn't tolerate that "I'm bundled up so much I can't move" feeling. There were a few nights when that scene from "A Christmas Story" played out with pj's instead of a winter coat. It wasn't working. So I asked Michelle to make her a sleep sack that would go over her shoes and bar. The night it arrived was the first warm night she'd had in awhile. I was thrilled and Laura was sleeping once again.
Here she is the next morning:

But things happen. Kids grow. I know, I know. We spend a lot of time wondering when they might grow up and then when they do, we wonder why they have to. This was one of those times for me. Why, oh why, did she have to outgrow her sleep sacks??? And yet I wondered at the same time when she'd grow up enough to overcome her fear of blankets and actually use one. Or two. But that wasn't happening anytime soon so I implored Michelle to make another one. One that might grow with her a little bit. I didn't need to worry. At one point "I'll just make the sucker huge" came forth from her fingers through email. And boy did she! LOL Laura loves it and it will grow with her. Here she is, cuddled down in her new sleep sack.

It is a different style so she can use it more like a warm sleeping bag with angel wings to wrap around her when she wants them. Laura's been in it almost constantly since it arrived. Somehow I think she likes it. :):) I like the love it represents. Thank you, Michelle. You have outdone yourself.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Our October Princess

This year Laura was determined to dress up for Halloween. We generally don't celebrate it much, and we certainly didn't talk about costumes and such. But Laura was determined. She was going to be a Princess no matter what.

A few years ago when she was just a baby, a friend had passed down some costumes for her to use for dress up. As we dug them out, Laura's determination met with an actual costume that would work. Indeed, she'd be a princess. Even with double casts. And a Princess she was. :) With a full court of pumpkins!

Dear God, Why Are Deer So Dumb?

Ah yes. Dumb deer. For two weeks now we have seen dozens of dead deer along the highways and byways between here and St. Louis. And if the deer aren't still laying there, we know that they were there just recently because of the evidence left on the road itself. No, it isn't a pretty subject but you'll see in a minute why it is so prominently on our minds around here these days.

Over the years I've wondered why the deer seem to be attracted to roads. After all, the sound of motorized vehicles can't be something they are taught to run to when just a tender fawn or even when growing in to buckhood. You'd think they'd have figured out by now to stay away from long stretches of concrete, even when empty, because bad things can happen to you. Very bad things. But alas, deer are just dumb. Dumb, dumb deer...

I've heard it said, just a week or so ago as a matter of fact, that deer are out of control this year. I've even heard it said that there are just too many of them running across the countryside this season and they are wrecking havoc as they go. And it seems I might have even heard from a very reliable source that there are far more deer this year than there have been in recent history, and they are causing more problems than usual. What is that? What reliable source did I hear that from you ask? Oh, that's easy. I've heard from two very experienced sources. The first source was a State Highway Patrolman that we happened to meet on the side of the road just last Monday. And the second source? Oh that would have been Brandon. He's a tow truck driver and we met him by the side of the road, too.

No, we weren't at a fundraiser for the Save the Deer Foundation. And no, we weren't even stopped at a truck stop. Nor were we in a traffic jam or around any other cars at all. Well, except the patrolman's car and the tow truck. No, we were sitting quietly, waiting. Waiting for Don and my Dad to arrive to rescue us. Waiting for one or both of them to come along and save us and our vehicle from "Buck". Or what was left of Buck, anyway.

Yes, I met a deer. And he was a biggun'. A really, really biggun'. We didn't really have a chance to introduce ourselves or anything. But we met none the less. Up close and personal. Just a quick chat mind you. He didn't say much. I did most of the talking, er screaming. Of course he was far too busy with that whole 'deer in the headlights' thing to care. But I think he took it too personally. He got far too cozy with my headlight. And now that particular headlight will never dance another dance with a deer again. But the car, and everyone in it will live to see another deer someday. Let's just hope that this time it isn't such a quick, personal visit. I'll settle for a quick glimpse as it runs across the field on the other side of the highway. I'll even honk a greeting if they'd prefer. But no more up close and personals please. No one will ever be able to replace Buck. He was my first. I think I'll leave it at that.

When the State Highway Patrolman showed up, Buck was long gone. Or at least too far off the road for any headlights to find him easily in such deep darkness. Which was fine with the patrolman. He did his paperwork and hung around until Brandon arrived. I think he was secretly hoping Brandon would arrive with the Calvary, or at least another car, but he didn't. Brandon, aboard his faithful flatbed tow truck arrived with the news that only two could join him in the cab as he towed the car four miles down the road. The patrolman, who had already informed me that only two were legally allowed to ride in his car as well was very busy doing the math. Two women, two boys and a child in double leg casts in a carseat weren't going to fit. I knew they wouldn't leave us sitting out there, but I also knew that they'd want to get us off the road long before Don and my Dad arrived to pick us up.

So the patrolman and Brandon had a conference. It seems a plan was hatched. One that is blatantly illegal, but overall seemed best to the young patrolman at the time. He approached us in the van and asked, very calmly mind you, if we'd mind riding in the car while it was on board Brandon's tow truck. Ah, laughter. It is a wonderful thing. My Mom and I agreed to it with a smile and we prepared for liftoff amidst much laughter. Oh, there were a few tears, too. Don't get me wrong. I think Jonathan expressed several times that he wasn't a fan of roller coaster rides. But over time even he came to find the humor in the experience. And his laughter joined the rest of ours before we were even half way down the road. Indeed it was a bumpy ride as we swayed back and forth up there high enough to see right in the truckers cabs. But it was fun, too. And it seemed to relax us as we relived some of what we'd just been through. We were going to be just fine. The Lord had taken care of us.

And He had. Over the next few days we realized that we had been driving the perfect car. My Dad's van, a Chevy Astro, is built on a truck bed and has a tow/haul package. This meant the frame was reinforced and the brakes are excellent. After all, you have to stop whatever you're pulling safely! It's height, weight and other safety measures meant that Buck landed on the side of the road instead of on top or the car or through the windshield. It also meant that the milk Mom was pouring the kids when we so intimately met Buck didn't even spill. None of us were hurt. Not a scratch, muscle ache or even a whimper of pain. We also learned that Buck was indeed a big, full grown dude. Toby, the man who does our bodywork, stated that he knew he was large because of how the car was dented and the impression Buck head and so on left on the side of the vehicle. Deer that large generally do human damage as well as totally cars. We are so thankful that the Lord put is in the right car in order to protect us. And while I wish he had helped us avoid the accident all together, I know that there were lessons we needed to learn in all of this. And believe me, we won't soon forget.

Mom had to drive back down to Columbus three days later and she looked to see if she could find Buck. After all, it would have been nice to know for sure just how big he was and how many points there were on his antlers. But it seems the clean up crew had been by. Not one of the many we saw last weekend were still there. Not even Buck. So we'll never really know much beyond what has already been confirmed. And Buck has gone on to bigger and better pastures. But he will live on in my life for quite awhile. After all, I think the Lord has a few more lessons to reteach me about trusting him. I hope I learn them well enough that he doesn't have to introduce me to any more of Buck's relatives.

Wonder what the view was like up there on the tow bed? Here's what we saw looking out our windshield. It was a once in a lifetime thing so I just had to capture the moment...

Creative Manuevering

Determination has been a key to Laura's life from the get go. She's never one to take 'no' lightly and will work hard to prove you wrong every chance she gets. I remember our local Ortho telling us after her first surgery that she wouldn't want to get up on her feet for several weeks. I laughed. He didn't see the humor. Two days later when he called to check on her, I reported that she was up and cruising furniture whenever she knew we weren't looking. He was speechless. I was once again amused at how little Dr's listen to us when we state what we know to be true. He gets it now. He plans for her determination when treating her. I'm not sure Dr. Dobbs is so knowledgeable yet. He'll get there soon enough.

Each time Laura has been in casts, she's eventually figured out the best way to get around. The past two weeks were no different. She began pulling herself up and getting around on the carpeted surfaces almost as soon as we got home. After a few face plants on the white tile, she figured she'd just depend on others to carry her or commando crawl over those. But she's a champ at finding something to walk behind or lean against.

Here she is leaning against the couch:

And here she is in the wheelchair the Lord provided just as my arms were about to give out. She's so proud. And needless to say she can maneuver it around pretty well backwards and is doing better going forward. All we need to work on now is her aim...

The Second Drive By

We drove in to St. Louis for our second visit to Dr. Dobbs and, of course to see our family. Nana had hot soup bubbling on the stove for us, and Carol and Charles came over for a quick visit, too. As usual Laura took over the place, gimpying around, and in general making herself at home. She even kept Carol busy 'reading' to her as they looked through a catalog. It was good to see them and it was nice to relax at Nana's instead of a hotel.

Our visit with Dr. Dobbs was relatively uneventful. They cut off her first cast and then applied one to each foot so she has two hot pink legs for the next two weeks. She handled herself pretty well but really didn't like the cast saw. However, it goes quickly and she just sat there wiggling her toes for awhile after her foot was free.

As I've stated before, Dr. Dobbs and his staff are wonderful. Very kind, thorough and they really do make you feel like you are the most important patient at that moment. But what happened shortly after her cast was cut off just amazed me more than anything so far. The nurse who cut off her cast cleaned up the table where Laura was sitting and then disappeared with all of the cast parts they'd cut off. I thought that would be it for awhile as we waited for Dr. Dobbs. But I was mistaken. In a minute, the nurse reappeared, warm wash cloth in hand. She very sweetly washed Laura's leg down and made sure that there were no little cast pieces/shavings stuck anywhere they shouldn't be. I just sat there crying. Every single time we've had casts changed using a cast saw - and believe me there have been a LOT of them - I always end up cleaning her up with wipes as I change her diaper to get rid of all of the little shavings and so on that are left. Never has a staff member helped, or even brought a warm washcloth. I realize this is something little, but again it just shows how much they care about the patient there.

We aren't sure what progress is being made so I hope this Monday gives us a bit more to go on. I'll be sure and update you when we get home. Meanwhile, here are some pictures of all of us as we enjoyed Nana's hospitality.

Laura and Carol 'shopping' in the catalog:

Jonathan's opinion of my taking pictures:

One of many of Matthew's attempts to avoid the camera. I'm thinking that this might be one of the last times he uses this maneuver. After all, this isn't his best side:

Nana, making oatmeal before she sends us off for the morning:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Listening Ears And An Obedient Heart

Here's a conversation that just happened here. I think someone is getting too big for her britches.

Me: Laura, go finish your chicken.
Laura: Just a minute, Mom! Just a minute.
Me: No. It is time to go now. Please go finish your chicken.
Laura, with a rather snotty attitude: NO! I said just a minute.
Me, walking towards her: Laura, you need to have listening ears and an obedient heart. I asked you to go finish your chicken. Go now.
Laura: No. I not going now.
Me: One. You need to go eat your chicken. Two. When I get to three I'm going to whomp your bucket.
Laura, sighing and rolling her eyes: Okay, okay, okay. Man, Mom. I'm going. I'm going.

I calmly rerouted her to time out. When she was done, this conversation took place.

Me: Laura, when you don't listen you are being disobedient. You need to learn to listen even if it isn't what you want to do right then.
Laura: I know, I know. Lissening ears and an dobedi heart. I do it, Mom. I sorry. Fordive me?

And then we hugged while I told her I loved her. Now I'm going to go upstairs to take a shower to wash the ketchup out of my hair. Being a Mom sure has variety. Somehow I think I'll take mine without ketchup!

She Casts a Crooked Shadow

Laura only has one full leg cast on this week, bent at the knee. Yesterday she finally felt confident enough to take off across the room walking instead of crawling. I'm thrilled that she doesn't need to stick her hands out to steady herself much and that she's willing to try something even though she was unsure. Here she is in all of her gimpy glory!

St. Louis "Drive By"

As I prepare to do a second St. Louis "drive by", I realize I haven't updated you on the first one. Life since last Sunday has been interesting to say the least and exhausting would be giving it to you straight up and without any sugar coating. Life is what it is these days but I'm happy to report that I've gotten two nights of at least 6 hours of sleep - IN A ROW! :)

We took off from home by 8 AM last Sunday and had a wonderful drive through the sunshine. We arrived at my Nana's house quite a bit earlier than we expected and I was privileged to have an chance to spend time talking with my cousin Elizabeth while she calmly worked on dinner in the kitchen. Over the next hour or so my cousins Dave and Kevin arrived, Elizabeth's husband Jason came and my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Mick showed up as well. Dave's son William also came over to greet the family and it was a good evening no matter how you look at it. Not only was it good to be sitting around Nana's table again, but seeing family I haven't seen in a long time was such a wonderful thing. And it provided just the diversion we needed as we faced our first visit to Dr. Dobbs the next morning.

Monday morning arrived bright and early. We got all of us up, fed, dressed, packed and back in the car by 7 AM St. Louis time. We arrived at Shriner's early and we were taken back to meet with a variety of Drs and nurses without much of a wait. By the time all was said and done, Dr. Dobbs felt that Laura's feet could be corrected by casting again and that he'd be putting on the first cast then. His plan is to cast her left, more difficult foot initially to stretch out her cavus and flatten her very high arch some. Then, next week he'd cut that cast off and start correcting her heel varus and in general, recasting to correct. On that same day he'll start the casting on her right foot, initially to stretch her cavus and flatten out her arch some, and then a corrective cast or two. I failed to ask whether a tenotomy will be necessary for one or both of her feet but I'm not sure he could have answered that then. I think he'll need to see how her casting goes.

We waited for awhile in the cast room with other parents. There were several infants just starting the casting process and one older boy who was about 15 mos old. He was in casts that were cut off and left without any new ones but I didn't catch why he was there. All in all, the other parents made the wait quite nice and we took a poll to see who had come the farthest. This past week we won. I wonder what next week will bring. :)

Dr. Dobbs, his Resident, his Fellow, his very kind Nurse Kristina and a group of other nurses and support staff entered the cast room a little after 11. What happened next can only be described as a well-oiled machine carrying out a familiar routine and easing any difficulties for children with tremendous talent. They had Laura plastered from her knee down quite quickly and the Dr. Dobbs left us while another group of nurses applied fiberglass over the plaster and took the cast up over her thigh in traditional Ponseti fashion. In just a few minutes, we were free to go. I was amazed at the obviously common routine. They really do have it down to a science there.

As soon as I made our appt for next week, we packed everyone back in the car and started home. We spent most of the day driving in obnoxious rain with Laura fussing because she was in pain. It is my opinion that her muscles were spasming and tylenol wasn't totally effective at helping. I think I'll plan better for her discomfort this weekend. She made an already difficult drive much more challenging and my heart ached for her.

By Thursday this week Laura was walking on the toe of her cast and getting around just fine here at home. I am working on getting a child's wheelchair for her for next week as we'll be in double casts and her movement will be much more limited. She is still very protective of her cast but I think she'll get over that as they progress.

Overall, I feel a bit like life is passing by in a fog again. With the two day drive by traveling combined with five days at home where we're trying to keep up with school work, the laundry and life in general, I think we might just miss preparing for Thanksgiving this year. I wonder what Christmas will be like, too. But I can't help but think that we're doing what is best for Laura and that makes it all worthwhile. If she can avoid surgery, and even avoid wearing any kind of insert/AFO/SMO/whatever as well, I'll be so thrilled I just might hug Dr. Dobbs harder than he's ever been hugged before. Well, okay. Perhaps I'll take his staff a bucket of our famous Caramel Corn instead, but you get the drift.

Dr. Dobbs is a calm, confident Doctor who really does have a heart for our kids feet. I know that we'll come out of this better than we went in, and for that I'm extremely thankful. My Mom and I are having a nice time catching up together and talking about all of the little things we don't always have time for. And the boys are enjoying the change in routine - at least for the time being, and the unlimited gameboy time they get in the car. I don't know how many times we'll be making this trip yet, but we'll be going for at least the next two weekends. Please continue to pray for wisdom for Dr. Dobbs as he treats Laura, and for safety and provision for travel for the rest of us. With gas at almost $3 a gallon, Christmas is going to be mighty slim this year. *sigh*

Ever onward.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Dis Is Molly, Mommy!"

Laura wandered in to the school room, more commonly known as our living and dining rooms, this morning and declared "Dis is Molly, Mommy! Dis is Molly!" I turned away from 4th grade division with tremendous interest. Well, wouldn't you??? She was holding out her newest baby doll. A soft and cuddly gift from her Auntie Diane after her last shopping spree. I wasn't sure I heard her right so I asked her to repeat herself. Again she said "Dis is Molly, Mommy! Her name is Molly. She's my baby." Tears immediately rose to my eyes as I smiled down on the two of them. My daughter has moved in to a new phase. Her babies will have names she gives them.

I realize you might wonder just why that is so great. I am not sure I can explain it myself. But after two years of "what is her name?" responses always being "Baby" unless the rest of us have given the item a name was beginning to make me wonder. But I shall wonder no more. Molly has arrived. And with her came a Mommy who can see beyond herself.

Life is good!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This Is The Way We Wash Our Clothes...

Have you ever, for circumstances I'm quite sure were beyond your control, let the laundry pile up so high you can't even guesstimate how many loads it will take you to dig out from underneath the avalanche? No, of course not. You are a perfectionist that would never let that happen, right? Yeah. Me, too. Sometimes, anyway. So how did this happen??? How is it that the laundry is so backlogged that processing it will take a herculean effort for the next few days? I honestly have no idea. Not a tincture of a clue. Nada. Nyet. Nothing in the ol' brain cells that would come up with even a modicum of an excuse. Well, aside from sheer laziness. Which you all know I'd never admit to as a first course of action. So I figured I'd do something drastic. Something as yet unheard of. In this household anyway.

I declared a "No Clean Clothes Day". Sadly, that didn't mean that I didn't need to clean any because we've already established that the desperate need existed. What it really meant was that anyone not going to work that day, an exemption necessary for the wonderful Daddy who supports us, must wear something they'd already worn. They were instructed to preserve the few remaining clean items in their closets in honor of the day and were to dig up something not so dirty and lacking wrinkles to wear instead. They were to suck it up and get with the program. And I'd prefer they choose something that didn't smell too badly as a special favor to me. My declaration met with blank stares.

Momentarily stumped by this unexpected reaction, I started racking my brains for some reason why they weren't rebelling at the very suggestion. Had we done this once before in a previous moment of desperation? No. That wasn't it. I'd spent much of their lives telling them to go put on clean clothes - from the bottom up so to speak. Hmmm... Perhaps they were wondering if I'd momentarily lost my mind. While I'd like to say that it couldn't happen, I'd be deluding myself and adding to the problem so I figured we'd just let that one slide for now. I wondered if perhaps they were having trouble comprehending what I'd said. You know, as it 'I have an earache and I can't hear you' type thing. But they looked perfectly healthy. That couldn't be it, either. So what was it?

Then it dawned on me. As I carefully looked at them in an effort to discover another helpful clue to their reaction, it hit me that they were attempting to figure out why this was a new thing. After all, Jonathan was standing there in the t-shirt he wore yesterday, and quite probably slept in. He was wearing jeans with holes in the knees that were too short and designated to be used only when not leaving the house. And I think he had them on yesterday. Please tell me he didn't sleep in those, too!!! And Matthew. Yes, that was a t-shirt he'd worn to bed at the very least. It was wrinkled in places shirts don't get wrinkled in while in the dryer. Could it be that putting on clean clothes that morning hadn't even crossed their minds? Was the fact that they knew we were staying home for much of the day impacting their fashion choices for the day???

Heaven help me. You'd think I would be upset by the fact that they were wearing clothing that wasn't vaguely clean. And more so by the fact that they'd not had any intention of changing. At least until their friends rang the doorbell asking them to join the latest neighborhood game. But that wasn't it. No, it was more of a "Oh My Goodness!!!" I was further behind than I thought I was. If indeed they were wearing clothing that was dirty already, where did all of those other dirty clothes come from??? *sigh*

I guess it is no longer a secret. I hate doing laundry. Absolutely despise it. It is only done out of necessity. And usually kept up at least to some standard. Until lately. It seems that in all of the joys of returning to schooling at home, the fun of fall and the issues around getting Laura's feet attended to, laundry had slipped not only to the bottom of the priority list, but might have slipped off the list altogether. I needed to face facts. First, laundry needed to get back on the daily to do list. I needed to make it more of a priority. Pronto. Second, I needed to readjust my kids concept of what was acceptable. Hmmm... on second thought, perhaps I'll just tackle one thing at a time. Laundry it is!

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes. This is the way we wash our clothes, each and every day... Sure. I'll be working on that. Maybe for a New Year's resolution list...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Laura was mysteriously quiet. I quietly tiptoed in to the family room, figuring if she heard me coming she might alter her activities too much. I was surprised to find her sitting in front of the television. Normally not a big deal but it is usually turned to PBS. Or even a video. But not today. No. Today it was tuned to the Discovery Channel. And Mythbusters was on. Mythbusters is really big here. The boys and I, and even Don, will watch it whenever we're flipping channels and find it on. We'll watch Dirty Jobs whenever we come across it, too, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, I asked Laura what she was watching and she said, with tremendous excitement in her voice, "Miffbussers, Mommy! Miffbussers!" OY! Hiding a laugh I said "Why don't we change the channel. Barney is coming on soon and you can watch him while your hotdog cools down." Made perfect sense to me. But she protested. "No, Mommy! I am watching Miffbussers!" I laughed and said that it was time to change the channel. She softly agreed but I could tell her heart wasn't in it.

Mythbusters. Good grief! She's three!!! Oh well. At least it is something that has some redeeming educational value. That's something, isn't it? :)

She's Not A Baby Anymore

Sometimes things happen that force you to realize something you have known for awhile but refuse to accept. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Like the times that your pants are getting tighter and you blame the dryer instead of accepting that a daily dose of potato chips, ice cream and peanut butter on apples doesn't have anything at all to do with it. Or perhaps like the times that you wonder why in the world the kids can't just do their chores without reminders but then you realize that you don't do what needs done until you have to, either. My most recent acceptance arrived yesterday via the optometrist's office. My baby isn't a baby anymore.

I can no longer ignore it. I can't pretend, like she wants to every once in awhile, that she's still a baby. I can't pretend that she's not growing up, no matter who much I have wanted her to do so since the day they told me we needed to prepare for her funeral. No. There is no going back now. She's officially a little girl. There's not a thing that still says "baby"about her. Especially since she and Daddy drove off to the optometrist's office last night and came home with a pair of Princess glasses on. Honestly, she looks just as cute as ever. Deep down inside I realized that she's just not a baby any more. She looks older, more mature. Like a little girl now. I cried for just a moment. And I'm sure I'll do it again a few more times in the next few days. But the reality is unavoidable. She's growing up. Because of us. Despite us. And isn't that just great. :)

Here she and Jonathan are in all of their new glory. Aren't they too cute???

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Most Precious Commodity Of All... Sleep!

It struck me today as I tried to roust my body from bed that I've only ever been this tired a few times. Four of those were in the months immediately following the joyous addition of my children to the family. Laura has overextended her options on influencing our sleep several times in her short, but never dull, life as well. Like the months she was hooked up to the sleep apnea monitor. Or those times when she's been so sick she can't hardly breathe. Or even the first few nights after surgery or recasting. But somehow I was sure that we'd be over this by now. After all, she's three and a half. The boys moved on to sleeping through the night after just a few months. Surely she should be sleeping through the night and no longer having such a large impact on our sleep, right?

Wrong. We failed to factor in the tremendous effect returning to using the shoes and bar, in not-yet-corrected-feet no less, would have on her ability to sleep. And then there's the limited space issue in her crib... yes, she's still in a crib. Thankfully, it keeps her in the spot we last left her for the entire night. And it protects her as she seems to sleep with her head pressed against the headboard, her forehead resting on the slats, her fingers tucked down between the mattress and the crib for whatever comfort that brings her. When I hold and rock her, she often wants her hands pressed between my back and the chair, or under my arms against my body so it would seem that pressure is comforting to her. And she always sleeps on her stomach. I think it has to do with some slight dysphagia and swallowing her saliva without drowning herself, but we shall see. But I digress. It would seem that returning to the FAB has effected her more than we ever thought it would. Frustration, probable pain, and limited space in bed are certainly taking their toll on her. And its effect on us seems to be just beginning.

I daydream about sleeping. I wish for sleep while I'm doing the dishes. I think about sleeping when I'm watching the clock slowly wind its way to the evening bedtime routine hour. And I cry for sleep every morning as I drag my body out of bed, wishing I could be in it for just another hour of uninterrupted sleep. I recall doing this, along with all of those weird dreams you have, in the months just after your children are born. But as you look down on that precious sleeping face, all of the sleepless times seems so worth it. And hey, at that age they let you sleep while you are rocking and feeding them. And those catnaps add up.

But not Laura. Oh no. She is apparently getting just enough sleep to give her that boost of energy she needs to make it until naptime. Or almost. There is that hour of whining that seems to precede it now. Evident these days while we are out running errands in stores she used to behave in quite nicely. Or when she's just about had enough of the boys picking on her and changing her videos to something they'd rather watch while she's not looking. *sigh* She keeps us active as usual until she heads to bed for her nap. This used to be a two hour block of time when the boys and I would catch up on schoolwork, play games and read. Not anymore. If I put her FAB on, we can only count on an hour at the most before she'll wake up and realize her naptime can be over if she just calls for us and tells us she's awake. Gone are the days of long naps. Even though she needs them. Let alone the rest of us.

Yes, I realize this, too, shall end. I just can't see any end in sight at the moment. Perhaps Dr. Dobbs will provide some relief if he can recorrect her feet. That will entail a few weeks in thigh high casts without her being able to walk. But hey, at least she'll sleep. Then it will be back in to the bar and shoes. Perhaps it is time to put her in a bed instead of the crib. Or perhaps we should just plan on getting a full nights sleep after she's grown. After all, we're putting ourselves, and her, through these difficult times now so that she can walk down that aisle with perfect little feet, dreaming of chasing her own little ones around without pain. Yes, this is reason enough. We'll do without sleep for awhile longer. Just don't expect much beyond puttering for awhile from us. I think we'll be doing well to just keep on schedule. Whatever that may be in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

St. Louis, Here We Come!

Well, it is official. We'll be heading to St. Louis on the 21st. We have an 8 AM appt. on the 22nd and then we'll be driving home again. Ten hours each way. Ten hours with a 14 year old and a 10 year old who like to get on the other's last nerve. Ten hours of "I'm hungry. What did you bring to eat? What do you mean there aren't any cookies?" Ten hours of "Are we there yet?" Ten hours of wondering what the outcome will be and remembering to turn it back over to the Lord again and again. Ten hours of Laura fussing because she's strapped in to her car seat and she can't lay down to sleep.

And that's just one way...

On the way home, since I'm expecting her to be in at least one full leg cast, it will be ten hours of wet plaster. Ten hours of her fussing because her foot and leg are immobile. Ten hours of having to hold her hand to comfort her, even when she's in a deep sleep. Ten hours of noises from gameboys. Ten hours of "Mom! He touched me!" Ten hours of "Mom! He is being selfish!" Ten hours of "Mom! I have to pee! Now!" Ten hours of watching agriculture whiz by us along with the same cars and trucks we'll think we saw as they passed us up as we slowed down at the last rest stop. Ten hours of time with my Mom. Ten hours to talk and listen to her wisdom.

When we get home, we'll be here for at least a week before we do it all again. And when we get home we'll know more about what Dr. Dobbs thinks the outcome for her will be long term. That's what makes my stomach churn. So that means I have 10 days of reminding myself that the Lord is in charge and that HE is the one who created her feet and he'll take care of it. That's just more in a long line of learning to turn things over to him instead of chewing on them myself. Perhaps the Lord gave Laura to us for more reasons than I've realized so far. Perhaps she is here to provide the Lord with opportunities for me to grow in him, to learn to depend on him, to remember before I start sweating that he's always in charge when I let him. Perhaps that is what parenting is all about in the first place. After all, parenting definitely isn't for pansies!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ligaments and Tendons and Bones, Oh My!!!

Sometimes when dealing with yet another Laura issue I find myself wandering down the same path once again and peering into the darkness to see just where it will come out in the end this time. We're wandering down the path of 'relapsed club feet' once again. So far this path has led us to more casting, longer shoe wear, surgery followed by six weeks of casting, SMO's and my absolute all time favorite advice from one very kind but misguided Dr. to just relax. I wanted to ask him if he'd relax if it were his daughter but then I realized he is a trained surgeon. He wouldn't think twice about cutting her bone because that's what he's trained to do. But I'm not willing to go there if we can avoid it. So far while traveling down this path we've been to the Cleveland Clinic and out to the University of Iowa more times than I can count. I can see in my minds eye with intimate detail the waiting room of the pediatric surgical department at the Clinic as well as the patient rooms where we've spent far too much time for such a short life. Now, we're staring down the path again. But this time the path might just lead to St. Louis. Who knew?

When we put Laura back in her night-night shoes, I really felt like we needed to have a consult with someone willing to take another chance at helping us avoid surgery. I've sent several additional emails to Iowa and have not heard a response and assumed that they are quite busy there after the Symposium. But I needed answers. And I wondered if the silence meant that they just didn't know what to do or perhaps that there was nothing more they could do. The thought made my stomach churn.

Then another issue dawned its mighty head. Sleep. Don and I desperately needed uninterrupted sleep. After a week of waking up throughout the night as Laura cries because the shoes are uncomfortable, I had a gut feeling we needed more than just uninterrupted sleep. We really needed her feet corrected before the shoes would be comfortable. As I put a call in to the wonderful shoemakers office, I hoped beyond hope that they could do something for us. Something, anything to help. The girls suggested we contact Dr. Dobbs in St. Louis if we hadn't heard from Iowa soon. My stomach churned even more as I sat down to write Dr. Dobbs a letter. As I attached pictures of her feet and sent it off by email, the pit of my stomach seemed to drop even further into oblivion. What if he, too, just said to relax until she was old enough for painful surgery. What if there really was nothing that could be done?

All night last night I tossed and turned. My dreams ranged from the weird to even weirder. I imagined all sorts of things involving feet. Big feet, little feet, fat feet, skinny feet. All in clunky, ugly shoes because they couldn't wear normal ones. All on legs sitting in wheelchairs because they hurt too much to walk. *sigh* Once again an opportunity to turn my stress over to the Lord took me hours to figure out. By then morning was already peeking out from behind the darkness, willing us to get up and face another day of uncertainty.

As I approached the computer to check my mail, my stomach sunk deeper still. What if there was no answer. What if the answer wasn't good. Before I wiggled the mouse I decided that I'd have enough. I very quietly prayed and told the Lord I would be willing to accept whatever answer he provided. I half expected for Dr. Ponseti's email to be there after that one. But no. Dr. Dobbs was up bright and early, and he answered my questions. He offered to see her and concurred with our thoughts that recasting was the way to go.

Part of me is relieved. My 'Mommy Intuition' isn't faulty. But part of me is still a bit nervous. There are still several unknowns for Laura and those wonderful feet. Can Dr. Dobbs figure out how to help her? Will we be able to avoid bone surgery in a few years? Will Laura get used to the shoes once again and sleep through the night undisturbed? I don't know the answers to all of that but I am willing to let it go for now. Laura slept four hours today for a nap without her shoes on. Four hours. From a child who barely sleeps one these days. *sigh*

So we will continue to pray for her healing and the Lord's provision as we plan for a trip to St. Louis. Since our family is there, our trip will be filled with more than just Dr visits. And that's all good. However, please pray for wisdom for Dr. Dobbs as he evaluates and prepares to treat her feet to help us prevent surgery in the coming years. I'll keep you updated as I can. Meanwhile, I'll work very hard to just relax and enjoy it every time I hear "Mommy. I need you" coming from her room every hour on the hour through the night. Really I will. :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Night-Night" Shoe Update of Sorts

We've got three nights and three naps under our belt in our new "Night-Night" shoes. The naps are really no biggie. She isn't phased by her shoes in the middle of the afternoon and handles it very well. She doesn't even insist, as she used to when she wore them before, that we take them off as soon as she gets up. But nights are a whole different matter. The first night was very difficult. She handled them without complaint for about the length of a nap and then fussed. And fussed. And fussed. And fussed. Did I mention she fussed? We'll never know if it was really the shoes or the start of the cold or whatever she had at the moment but whatever it was, she wasn't happy. And around here, if Laura isn't happy, Mommy and Daddy get no sleep.

The second night found me rummaging for padding to put under the middle strap. We tried a strip of foam and, when you account for the thickness, we loosened the strap just a touch to accommodate it. Voila! No fussing. Again, last night was fuss free from the feet perspective so I think we'll find a more long term solution and we'll be set for awhile. I've thought of finding a denser foam (so it lasts longer), sheepskin (we have some real stuff but it is awfully thick...), and perhaps trying to find some real moleskin as the stuff we have from Wallyworld just doesn't do a darn thing. Or even paying for some pringles from John, the Shoemaker. But we'd like to avoid that large of an expense if we can. I'm very open to other suggestions if anyone has any to offer.

Meanwhile, please pray with us that these do help keep her bones in the right place long term and that we don't need to consider surgery in the future. We're still waiting to hear back from Dr. Ponseti regarding whether to recorrect her feet with casts or not, but we've gone ahead with the shoe wear anyway. I'm looking forward to hearing from him and will let you know if trips to Iowa will be necessary. We've come to accept that if there is a need for something extraordinary in order to help her, like traveling to Iowa several times for recasting, Laura will indeed need it. Perhaps this will be the first time in a new path for her. We can only pray... :)

Laughter Really IS The Best Medicine - Part 2

I must admit that this morning finds both my hubby and I a little toasted around the edges. Laura's been sick and that means lots of "Get up, get up, get out of bed" times for us throughout the night. Since Don gets up for work at 5 AM, on nights like this he's usually already up and doesn't need to use the alarm. *sigh* But this, too, shall pass as it always does. Then we'll catch up on our sleep. Well, maybe.

As I downed my first can of carbonated caffeine, the world started to become a bit more clear. I popped Laura's waffle in the toaster and turned on Fox News to catch my morning info before settling in on school work for the day. And what to my wide-awake eyes should appear but Anita Renfroe talking about her Momsense bit. My kids were just as excited as I was! We listened to her talk about raising kids and enjoyed watching a bit of her video once again.

But the best part of her talk was the end. One of the Fox News guys asked her how her kids felt about it all. Her response was classic. She said something like "They go between mortified and proud depending on what we're talking about." Oh I SO live that! Matthew and Jonathan have this routine down to a science. The thing they haven't figured out yet is that while I feel all warm and fuzzy when I know they are proud of me, I feel full of fun and frivolity when I know they are mortified. No guilt or sorrow here. Someday they'll appreciate it all and I'll enjoy that day when it comes. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying every little moment along the way, too.

So Thursday dawns bright and sunny. Not only have I had enough caffeine to charge me for another day, I've had a great laugh with the kids once again over Anita and her wonderful sense of humor. What a wonderful way to bond with your kids! Try it. You might like it! You can find her video here, and the words to her song as I attempted to record them here.

Enjoy and laugh out loud. You'll feel much better as you enjoy the rest of your day. We sure do!!!

Monday, October 01, 2007

New "Night-Night" Shoes

I could easily have titled this "How John Mitchell assisted Dr. Ponseti in saving Laura's feet". He certainly has done so much for so many and I'm glad that included Laura. The UPS man delivered her new "night-night" shoes from MDOrthopaedics today. We tried them on and she didn't fuss. In fact, she said "They don't hurt!" so I guess that means we'll do okay. :)

She's about to go down for a nap but had to take her new shoes for a spin first. Here she is playing and jumping with Jonathan, pretending to do skateboarding tricks, and then standing for the first time alone in them. She wasn't strong enough or confident enough to do that before so it is nice to see her get such joy out of it now.

Thanks, John. We appreciate you and your shoes more than you'll ever know!

Even In The Little Things

The Lord is good. Even in the little things.

Twice in the past few days the Lord showed me just how much he loves me by taking care of what really are two little things when I let go and gave them to him. I'm sure there are many other ways he's taken care of me this weekend, but these two things are points on the time line labeled "Chris Learns Once Again to Let Go So God Can Do It". It is an ever growing timeline. One I don't think will ever end. I seem to want to hang on to things and try to make them work for me without realizing it is much easier in the long run to just let the Lord do it and save myself the hassle of having to ask him to fix it after I've messed it up even more.

Last week I received another in a long line of mailings regarding our secondary health insurance for the children. Since I'd already called several times to straighten it out, I tried very hard to just let it go. And I succeeded for a few days until the second mailing arrived. It was the 'booklet' they send you with all of the Drs you can access, and of course the plan restrictions and so on. Don questioned that one and I, once again, tried to just let it go. But it ate at me. After all, it was Saturday. No one was in their office that day. And of course, Laura's card arrived just as before with no problems. Which just emphasized the fact that the boys weren't on it. *sigh*

I spent a very sleepless night. I tossed and turned. Imagined all sorts of frustrating things as outcomes. And then, most humorously to me as I look back on it, instead of praying that the Lord would go before me and straighten out the whole mess, I prayed that the Lord would keep the boys safe and free from extensive medical needs until I straightened out the insurance mess. Ummm.... HELLO!!! It was somewhere in the wee hours of the morning that it finally dawned on me to just give the whole thing to him and let go. I fell in to a deep sleep and managed to get a few hours undisturbed. Amazing how that happens, isn't it?

All day Sunday, whenever it came to mind, I just renewed the giving of this small thing back to the Lord. It was just secondary insurance. No biggie. I think it might have crossed my mind at least once an hour for awhile. But then I suppose I started to 'get it' and it happened less frequently. By bedtime I know I'd be dealing with the issue by phone this morning, but there was no stress about it.

I waited until noon today to call. And only as the phone rang did the stress return. I could feel my heart racing. The stress was falling like a heavy blanket on me once again. And then this nice, calm voice came on the line and I responded in kind. After a few minutes I learned that the Lord had already taken care of the issue, and everything was straightened out. It just hadn't caught up with the mailings. Score one for learning to let go.

My second opportunity for letting go came riding in on the reins of technology. Can you say stress with a capital S? Yes, I realize that not all households depend on technology every day as a normal course of their lives, but we do. After all, the boys school using their computers with Matthew's classes coming in to our home three days a week on them. So I called our ISP. It seems that at 7 AM on a Sunday morning, those who answer the phone aren't the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. But hey, at least I had a tentative date for someone to appear within the next week. However, I needed them more quickly. Matthew's classes started at 8 the next morning and he still had work to do before then. All submitted on the computer, of course. I was told to call back at 8:30. Okay, I can do that. But of course I had to just go downstairs and check the cable modem on more time. Or two. Or three.

I called again as we headed to church. The very understanding person who answered the phone this time told us she'd call dispatch and see what she could do. She'd call back in 20 minutes. When we arrived at church, I left Don in the car to answer the phone and the kids and I went in. Don sat and sat and sat and sat and sat. He waited and waited and waited and waited. We figured that our outage wasn't just our problem but that perhaps the whole area had some issues and we were just the first ones to call it in. We arrived home, ever hopeful. I tried to log on. No go. Apparently we were wrong. So I headed down once again to check the modem. No little light. No connection. I really wanted to just whack the thing into oblivion but instead I decided that God was knowledgable about technology too, and perhaps we would think this important enough. So I laid my hands on it and I prayed. I asked the Lord to 'heal' the modem. I gave it to the Lord.

Expectantly, I peeked at the modem. No light. Not even a blink. Right then I decided that even though it wasn't fixed, the Lord knew it was an issue and how much we needed it and he'd see that it got taken care of. In his time. I could let it go.

I came up and started closing down my computer. Just for kicks I decided to click "check mail" one more time. Low and behold, it started downloading mail! Yes, in just those few minutes the Lord answered my prayer. Our computers were all back online. Life returned to normal. The Lord had taken care of it. Something so little. Something so small. And he'd fixed it. I just sat here smiling.

When the call finally came from our ISP later in the afternoon, I was able to share with the very kind customer service rep that yes, we finally had our internet access back and it was because I'd prayed over the box. Turns out that she's a believer, too. She just laughed with me and said "The Lord is good, isn't he? Every day, in every way." Yes, he is. Every day. Even in the small things.