Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Keeping Healthy Isn't for Pansies, Either!

As you may have read a few weeks ago, I really like Dr. Stone. He's a rare blip in the medical radar, truly getting to know and take care of his patients. And I thoroughly enjoy his Mom who does double duty as his receptionist. This afternoon I saw once again just how much his philosophy of medicine makes our lives better.

There are many pieces that make up successful parenting but probably one of the first is to take good care of yourself so you can take good care of your children. It seems I'm not so very good at this part. But I'm working on it. After all, I am serious about Weight Watchers and am slowly, ever so slowly, losing weight once again. And I am exercising more, attempting to get more sleep, and even taking my vitamins and so on regularly. But as my morning started, I realized I wasn't keeping up as well as I should in other areas.

Robin Roberts announced this morning on Good Morning America that she has breast cancer. It was caught early and she's expected to do well as she works to overcome this new setback. While I maybe catch the show once a month these days, I have always admired Robin's dedication to what she believes in and how she helped her hometown after Katrina devastated the area. This morning I had one more reason to admire her as she faced this new challenge in her life with determination and a sense of purpose. And I realized I needed to get on the stick and be more regular about taking care of the female part of me. So I called my OB/GYN.

When I was pregnant, my OB was wonderful. Knowing my maternal history meant that she was extra attentive to my issues and kept a close eye on Laura to be sure she was born as healthy as possible. I never had a hard time getting a same day appt if needed, and she was wonderful through Laura's birth and subsequent NICU stay. But the reality of normal practices, and how they differ from Dr. Stone, hit me when I called today to get an appt for a very long overdue, what is supposed to be annual, check. It seems they are booking in to February, 2008. Normally that wouldn't phase me. I'd gladly wait for such appts. After all, I haven't had one since just after Laura was born, and I am long overdue for that baseline smush we over 40 women are supposed to get. But today, waiting until Feb just astounded me.

So I called Mary. I asked if Dr. Stone did such things and if he minded. Minded? Mary got a good laugh at that one. She said she's never asked him. I'm sure it will come up when I'm there. :) Needless to say, when Mary heard of my lax approach to my female care, she put me in next Friday. Yes, that's next Friday. A good seven months before I could have gotten in to my OB. Wow. Give Dr. Stone an "Attaboy" for that one!

I suppose today was a wake up call of sorts, and an affirmation that we've got the right family physician on our side. As my children grow up I realize just how much I want to be around when they start raising their families. I'd even like to stick around as their families grow up and become teenagers in their parents image. :) But what I'd really like to be is the kind of wonderful grandparent my parents are. Which means I need to keep up on my health. For me. And for them.

Are you all caught up on your health exams??? If not, do yourself and your family a favor and call to make that appointment today.

They Just Keep Growing

When you spend all day, every day with your kids, you fail to see the gradual growth that turns them from infants to toddlers and then children. We won't even talk about the subtle changes that turns them from children in to young adults. It's enough to say that I generally don't notice them until I see pictures taken over time. And even then I sometimes choose not to see how much they've grown. :)

Today I am open enough to realize they've all grown over the summer. In just a few months Laura went from still looking like a wee one to being a beautiful girl. Jonathan has lost just a touch of that little boy look as he heads towards his tween years. Matthew has just grown right before my eyes in to a young man. Complete with his slight mustache and curly beard hairs here and there. We won't talk about the muscles and frame changes. I prefer to keep thinking of him as my baby for a bit longer. After all, he doesn't turn 14 until next week. NEXT WEEK?!?!?! *sigh*

My kids are awesome. I love them from the bottom of their toes to the tops of the uppermost hairs on their heads. I only wish I could mature their spirits without them growing up so fast...

Oh wait! Maybe they aren't growing up as much as I thought...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Speaking of Parenting...

I collect quotes. Inspiring ones, subtle ones, ones that make you think, laugh out loud ones and even ones that express a somewhat unique view on life as we know it. But some of my favorite quotes have to do with parenting. Or those that can be applied to parenting even if that wasn't the intent. I was sharing some with a friend this morning and thought I'd share some here as well. If I was able to find the person who originated the quote, I've included that but some just come my way without mentioning the wise person who originated the wonderful thought. If you know one that I don't, please share that information with me.

These are some of my favorites at the moment. They might not capture the whole thought for that particular subject, but they do grasp at least one important point. I hope you find them as meaningful, humorous, or inspiring as I do.

My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

Children are natural mimics: they act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners.

You know children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers. - John Plomp

Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother. -Arab Proverb

The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them. -Frank A. Clark

Discipline doesn't break a child's spirit half as often as the lack of it breaks a parents heart.

To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.

The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable. -Lane Olinhouse

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? -Milton Berle

Parenthood: That state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage. -Marcelene Cox

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. -Robert Fulghum

Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath, and hope we've set aside enough money to pay for our kids' therapy.

Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy. -Robert A. Heinlein

Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children.

As long as we're facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.

I don't care what Hillary Clinton says. I've seen the village. I don't want it raising my child.

It is not easy to straighten in the oak the crook that grew in the sapling.
-American Proverb

What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.

And possibly the funniest one to us at the moment as we have Mustgoes more often than not: The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.

July Classic Family Sunday!

My Uncle Mick arrived in town for another week yesterday. All of those who were in town gathered for our Classic Family Sunday and we enjoyed the day. Time together, too much food, laughter and liquid refreshment flowed to make the day one that reminds you how wonderful it is to have close family so near, and those who aren't up for a visit. While I remember traveling to St. Louis several times a year when I was young in order to visit relatives, our children will remember and tell stories about these days long after my Mom and I give up the Family Hostess titles to those who follow after us.

As I sat and listened to Mick and Dad telling stories from their youth to the boys my mind wandered. While I couldn't help but pray that the boys found none of their more interesting stories inspiring (yeah, I dream big!), I also couldn't help but notice how different the day felt. Don't misunderstand, the day was wonderful! But it was different. Something was just not like normal. Was it the fact that Uncle Mick was here? I didn't think so. After all, he'd been here for a week already this year and everything felt 'normal' then. Was it that we didn't have our normal schedule of sorts? No, I think it didn't matter when we finally all sat down to eat. We snack so much before the meal that we are usually full anyway. And then it hit me. The girls were gone. Kenz and Kayla were both missing. The dynamic was changing.

Mackenzie and Mikayla are growing up. And sadly, for a time, their lives are taking them away from us more and more. Both had spent time away from Ohio over the weekend and couldn't make it. I expected a change when Kenz headed for Moody Bible Institute at the end of August but I figured Kayla would still be around. However, I have to realize that Kayla is growing up, too. She has a very steady boyfriend who joins us often. But as they get older, things will take them away from us and on to their own activities now and then. And with Kenz going to college, she'll be around only for the biggies for awhile. And we had our first taste of that. While I knew that it was inevitable, and indeed a good thing, for our children to grow up and develop their own lives, I wasn't sure I was totally excited about it. After all, I have a bit longer to wait until that really hits home for me since the boys are still so much younger.

I know that there will be many times ahead where changes in our family evolve and effect our family gatherings, and I know this is a good thing. But I can't help but remember the wonderful times we've had in the past when the kids were all smaller and more tied to family activities just because. However, I am choosing to embrace the coming changes with the joy of knowing that lives are growing, becoming more than they were, and moving on as the Lord has planned for them long ago. And as I watch us all grow and change right along with the family flow I can't help but wonder what the next big change will be. Let us hope that whatever it is, Classic Family Sundays will still be here for us all to gather and enjoy when we can.

He's Home!!!

My precious Matthew arrived home from his week at camp late Friday afternoon. Well, someone who looked like him arrived home. But the peaceful spirit certainly added some maturity to his otherwise quarterback-like countenance. I knew he would be different but the coming days will certainly show us just how much, and how deeply he allowed the Lord to dig. The theme of the week was "Ignite" and it is my parental prayer that he allowed the Lord to not only ignite, but fan the glow in to flames.

Mom picked him up from camp so she spent much of the afternoon with him on the drive home, stopping for lunch and then taking him with her while she ran errands. At 4 PM they were finally headed to our house and Mom was discussing the weekend with him. She said his response to her discussion was "My Dad will be home in half an hour and then we get to spend the whole weekend together. It just doesn't get any better than that." Yes, that was a 13, almost 14 year olds response. And he's right. It just doesn't get much better than that. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


The boys and I have some unique quirks. Things like our ability to enjoy the old-fashioned activities like tree climbing, and our homeschooling have set us in a different category from their friends. And then there's our sense of humor... we won't even go in to that. But the thing that I think his friends admire the most is the friendly competition that builds between the three of us from playing/building/doing things that are a bit out of the norm. There was the 'who can make the biggest tower out of single Lego's' competition that really was more of a contest on who could find the most single Lego's, or the ongoing 'who can get to the bathroom first' when we are returning from some time at the park that cracks us all up. And even the 'who can ride the skateboard off the ramp the farthest' contest that required I learn how to get on the darn things without killing myself first was fun. (And for the record, I dropped out of the competition before I dropped too hard on my bucket causing more permanent damage!) But I think the next gauntlet has been thrown. And poor Matthew is behind already and he doesn't even know what the contest is!

LineRider beta 2 has been posted on http://www.official-linerider.com/play.html. And the changes mean we can do even more stunts, create even more scenery and take our banged up line rider in to even more perilous situations than we did before. We've discovered how to make a cannon, how to build ladders and even how to speed him up and slow him down without making him go down or up hill. Yes, this will definitely be an ongoing thing... Don might have to get involved as the referee!

Of course this obsession follows closely on the heels of several weeks of Bloxorz. Which can be found here: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/games/bloxorz) It seems folks have just too much time on their hands and use it to create such inane time wasters. Oh wait... that means we've got too much time on our hands, too! LOL Oh well, it's fun. It seems to teach the boys persistence. And it has provided far too much fun for the three of us for us to stop now.

Sometimess it is just so good to be schooling the boys at home. Where else can problem solving be so much fun?!?!?

Missing Matthew

Matthew's been gone now for three days. Three long days. I think Jonathan believes that is a lifetime but he's coping. I feel like part of me is missing and Laura quizzes me at least three times a day about where Matthew is. Don made the observation that our house is far too quiet without him. He's right. One of us is missing and the rest of us know it. We miss his smiling face, his constant banter, the teasing, the jokes, the channel surfing, the bike ride breaks in our day. We just miss him.

I realize that the Matthew who left won't be the Matthew who returns. He'll come back more grown up in several ways than he was when he left. He always does. So for now I'm missing the person he was, and wondering who will come home in his place. Growing up can be so hard for our kids. It can also be hard for us.

I also realize I'm missing my daily goodnight hug and kiss, too. He always pretends he's too grown up for it all, but when I don't ask for it before they head to bed because I'm busy doing something domestic, he seeks me out to get his before he can go to sleep. I love that bond we have - somehow it is the same as I have with the others and yet each is special in its own way. Built on our individual experiences and growth we've had up to that moment. Forged in the quiet moments we spend together. Grown in the daily life of a family.

I can't wait until Friday afternoon. Until then, I'm keeping him in my prayers knowing the Lord is doing His thing with him while he's gone. Will you please do the same?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Minds Like Steel Traps

My boys have a unique talent. No, not one that is marketable, mind you. One of those totally useless, yet they thrive on developing it further, kind of talents. While I'd prefer almost anything to this, it seems I'm stuck with two boys who have minds like steel traps - as long as it is from a movie, music or commercial. Yes, you read that right. Show them a commercial, a movie trailer, a bit of music or a full length feature just once and they'll be able to quote to you, for months even, a few catch phrases. Show it to them twice and they can quote the sucker verbatim.

I'm sure you are thinking how lucky I am as a Mom to be raising boys with such active, impressionable minds. After all, if you can remember quotes from movies you saw two years ago, surely you can remember that it is Wednesday and the garbage needs to be taken out. Or perhaps you can remember the order of the books of the Bible quite easily, not to mention scripture verses along with their reference. Or even what year each State entered in to the Union, and its capitol city, right? Uh, no. That would be what we fondly call a tactical error on your part.

It is as if they pick and choose when to close their trap on items of interest - to them. Or perhaps it is that they can only remember the trivial, planning to major in the pursuit of the such things so they can bore their children's dates with their relatively useless, albeit mildly interesting knowledge about things the rest of us know nothing about. Or perhaps they just know that it will drive me nuts.

It is only with persistence and the talent of years, honed at the knees of my father, that I am able to deal with those who possess such knowledge for trivia. As the mother raising them to be productive adults, I've developed a talent of my own. I listen, not with the keen interest of knowing what is catching their attention, but with the interest of one who will be able to turn that knowledge back on them at the most opportune moments. You know, one of those key talents needed by parents raising teens.

Let's take their passion for quoting musical phrases for instance. It seems one of Matthew's current favorite 'singers' is KJ 52. One of his songs, "Can I Speak With A Manager", includes the lyrical phrase "ya bref stank" over and over again. They find tremendous joy in singing that at the top of their lungs, especially in the car, where Laura picks up everything they say. Soon all three of them are singing the song at the top of their lungs, making the car trip a less then comfortable one for those of us sane folk in the front. And then they decide to get comfortable, leaning back, taking off their shoes and settling in for a long drive, and I get to fling, er, sing right back at them "ya feet stank". See? Communication at a level they understand!

Another phrase they've adopted from a movie - I'm not sure which one as I don't watch them with the same mental gymnastics that they do. It seems that "hold the phone" is now adopted in to their daily language with themselves. Should one of them have a "Duh!" moment when the light bulb goes on, they say "Hold the phone" out loud, usually in a very poor imitation of the cockney lilt, and then modifies how they are doing something. As a parent, this one was an easy adaptation. When they are talking with us about something and the leap from where they are to where they need to be is very small, I'll say "Hold the phone!" and they get that they need to figure it out. Can't beat that! And no lecture needed.

My current favorite, however, adapted for The Great Wuss Weekend situation, has us all saying the same thing. Apparently in some song from one of the current favorites - I'm thinking KJ 52 or perhaps Toby Mac - there is the phrase "Step away from the Mt. Dew" or some such. Therefore "Step away from 'whatever'" is growing more and more common around here. You know, 'step away from the cookies' or perhaps 'step away from the video games' can be heard, and is even reaching the intended audience, much more effectively than the normal Captain Mommy order. In the past few days "Step Away From The Toe" seems to give them all a heads up that they have invaded, or are about to invade, my personal space, and I need them to protect my toe with all of the determination they can muster at that moment. Instead of making them fearful of hurting me, it has provided a funny way to remind them that they need to be careful.

Parenting. It's all about presentation, isn't it? :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Just Like Dear Ol'... Mom.

Daddy was doing his best to take care of us yesterday, and in the midst of it all I think he was learning a valuable lesson on leadership of sorts. You see, when I need a break from the constant 'help' provided by my ever present, wonderfully cheerful three year old, I just ask her to find out for me what Daddy is doing. I am almost guaranteed an extensive break while she goes upstairs to find Daddy, discover what he is doing, decide he needs help, and immerses herself in a new activity or two. Yes, it is sneaky, but it works! However, I think Daddy was figuring how that works as well, and I might be in trouble.

At one point Daddy, having quite definitively told me I was supposed to sit down and not move in an effort to quite whacking my toe against things, was going to go downstairs and get me a drink so I could take some more meds. He knew that he could make the trip alone much more quickly than he could with three year old help, so he very nicely suggested that Laura sit on the bed with Mommy and wait for him to return. Her response was an immediate "No Daddy. I wan to go wif you!" He looked up at my smirk, er, smiling face and said "Sweetie, Mommy needs some company. I can go and get back more quickly for Mommy if you just stay here." I tried really hard not to laugh but you know how that goes.

Laura, never one to peacefully take no for an answer from Daddy when she wants a yes, immediately started pouring on the charm. She put a little smile on her face, quickly reassessed the situation, and very confidently said "Come on, Daddy. Let's go get a drink for Mommy!" like it was all her idea to begin with. When Daddy didn't move quickly enough to suit her because he was far to busy looking incredulously at Mommy, she took his hand in her own and then proceeded to pull, hoping to make him move towards her, thus giving his consent to her 'new idea'. He hung his head and started to quietly shake it. She took this as a good sign. She let go of his hand, walked around to the side of the chair and started to forcefully push him out of the chair, all the while saying "Come on, Daddy. Let's go!"

It was all I could do not to laugh. And I'm sure she knew it. No, I wasn't smiling at her, encouraging her disobedience. I was smiling because I saw the beginnings of her ability to motivate others to do her bidding. She was a budding leader. Supervision was in her blood. She'd have everyone under her thumb soon enough. Meanwhile, she was practicing on Daddy. Just like her Momma. LOL

I guess I need to start teaching her how to more effectively use her leadership skills before she has the boys motivated to her advantage. On the other hand...

Parenting. It definitely isn't for pansies!

Survival of the Fittest?

I've received several emails asking about The Great Wuss Weekend so I thought I'd give a little update. It has now been confirmed, and we know without a shadow of a doubt, that I am a wuss. But I survived. No, probably not because I am 'the fittest', but because I have a wonderful husband and very giving children. Laura and I spent much of the weekend resting together. Awwww, you say. Perhaps you'll change your mind once you know the reality of it all.

Laura, poor thing, has been dealing with a rash of some kind for over a week now. When we went in to the Dr. Golonka to have it checked, he labeled it a 'viral rash of unknown origin' and sent us home with a steroid cream script. Since it didn't seem to be itchy to her, we decided we'd wait it out. Little did we know how long that wait would be. Or how far it would spread. While I haven't checked for further growth this morning, as of last night it had grown from the original starting point of her lower legs and was now covering her almost completely. And to add to the joys of the household, she started running a fever on Friday along with a very running nose indicating a cold of some type had taken up residence. Her normally cheerful voice now sounded like she was talking with a mouth full of marbles and gravel while her nose was clamped shut, and her very pleasant disposition was a bit on the edge. By Friday night, she wasn't sleeping either. Poor Don spent most of the night on the floor of her room, hoping she'd sleep some between whining. She didn't. So he didn't, either.

I, on the other hand, was blissfully sleeping off some good meds in our room, being ever so conscious not to let anything touch my toe. Yes, I'd succumbed to Dr. Stone's charismatic ways and allowed him to remove my toenail. *sigh* And I was being a good patient and taking my meds as directed. :)

Saturday dawned bright and early - I lunged for the pain meds while Daddy roused himself and Laura up off of the floor. It seems she wanted Mommy. She usually does. Especially when she's not feeling well. So after passing out a whole new round of meds for everyone and taking breakfast orders, Don left Laura and I cuddled together, praying we might get some sleep while he quickly departed from 'The Whiny One'. No, not me. Really. One of our nicknames for Laura is 'WhinoBucket' and indeed she was living up to that this weekend. But you really can't blame her. She's running a fever, is covered from head to toe with a rash that insists on hanging around, and her normally compliant playmate screeches "Watch the Toe!" every time she moves. *sigh* We all did manage to get some good naps in on Saturday, and it seems that cuddling with Mom did help Laura. She was heading back to more of her normal self despite her rash by the end of the day.

Sunday dawned later than normal, finding all of us in our own beds having slept through the night. (Hallelujah would be appropriate here should you feel the need) Don tended to all of our needs, got Matthew packed and off to camp, and kept the household running without missing a beat. And he even had some time to nap with me for a bit in the afternoon. He earned his 'SuperDad' t-shirt once again. I think we'll just have it tattooed to his chest. On second thought...

So, as you can see, life goes on. Laura is feeling a bit better, my toe survived as intact as it can be after losing its protective shield, and Jonathan is doing a great job of caring for us while Daddy is at work. Was it hard to admit I'm a wuss? Nah. After all, being a wuss means I get to sit with my foot up, take naps when I need them, and cuddling with my kids whenever I want while Daddy takes care of us. I can handle that. For another day or so anyway. After that, sitting still just might put me over the edge. But we'll handle that, too. One day at a time. Because we're family and we'll survive. Together. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Great Wuss Weekend

I like Dr. Stone. He's fun, knows when to bribe you with humor and when to be absolutely serious, and he employs his mother and his sister in his front office. I have his cell phone number for emergencies, and I can make an appt and get it whenever I need it. He meets you at the ER when he sends you there, and he isn't afraid to order tests when he thinks you need them. He's also very willing to take the low key approach when it can be used, and tells you the straight scoop when it is required. All in all, we love the man. He's intentionally the old-fashioned type of physician who knows his patients well. We lovingly call him "Sir Stone" here at home. Doc to his face. :)

Recently I've had the opportunity to see him on several occasions. No, not because he's so wonderful but because he insisted on it. *sigh* Some Drs can be such a pain in the tush, can't they? :) Anyway, it seems my dearest Laura caused high blood pressure which didn't go away after she was born. He's had me on blood pressure meds for the past few years and recently, due to a few episodes of fainting and such - no big deal, really! - he reduced my dose and then took me off of it. Now, I'm sure just because he thinks I'm such a wonderful, obedient patient, he has me in for bp checks just to be sure things are staying where they need to be. Yeah, he's agree with that statement... maybe.

And then there's my toe...

It seems my toenail was compromised/injured/cracked/something a few months ago and a bacterial infection ensued. He gave it some fancy name and sent me home with antibiotics and the following direct order: (and I quote) "If this doesn't clear up in the next week or so, you need to call Mary (his mother, the receptionist) and make an appt to have your toenail removed. Remind her that you'll need another round of antibiotics prior to that so we'll call that in for you." I think my mind was having trouble wrapping around that directive so I failed to follow up with any questions, determined that it wouldn't happen to me. I obediently went home to take my meds and let them do their job.

Only they didn't do it so well...

A few weeks later I knew the toenail was doomed. I knew that when I returned to the office for my monthly bp check up, the toenail would be given the death sentence. I'd be hung out to dry so to speak, painfully put out to pasture. So I avoided going. Mature, isn't it? Yeah, I thought so, too. But then, I did finally come around. When I knew that it couldn't be put off any longer, and it was close to killing me with pain, I made an appt and went back.

Dr. Stone innocently greeted me and took me back to his office. I'm sure in his mind we were here just for a bp checkup but I knew differently. I knew that my toe was about to go through pain and I wasn't thrilled. We sat down to discuss the bp and I updated him on my wonderful readings from home. Then I brought up the toe. He got serious and took me in to the examination room. Where that darn bp cuff is kept. I was a bit overwhelmed with toenail trauma so calm didn't describe my condition. My bp showed it. We carried on about whether I was really taking my bp at home or substituting my husband's arm. I promised him no other arms were harmed in the pursuit of positive pressure readings and promised to bring in my cuff when I returned. And then he got down to the business of checking my toe.

I'm sure he's well versed in toedom but I must admit that I had to question it. His "Your toenail has to go" statement was matched with my "Are you sure you know what you are talking about? After all 'toenail specialist' isn't listed on that certificate over there. Perhaps you are mistaken. Perhaps it just needs to be told it's doing an good job of protecting my toe and it will get back with the program." My statement was matched by his rolling eyes followed by "It has to go." We bantered for a bit and then he started with all of the required presurgery discussions.

He told me it was really no big deal. He told me it would be just 15 - 20 minutes long and I wouldn't feel a thing. He said it would be "Easy Peasy" (to which I responded "Yeah, for YOU! God put that toenail there for a reason! Are you SURE you want to question the Big Guy like that?"). And then he made a tactical error. He followed up all of those statements by saying "In fact, you'll feel so good after the procedure that you'll want to decline the pain med script I'll try to send home with you. But trust me, you'll need it for a few days so please take it."

Ummmm... easy peasy and the need for script pain meds, a controlled substance mind you, don't exactly describe the same thing to you, do they??? Me, either. I pointed that out to him quite kindly. Really. *no smirking allowed so straighten up* After we discussed this discrepancy thoroughly and he had decided to forgo the charismatic con job, we got down to the nitty gritty. It isn't going to be pleasant. My toenail is being forcibly removed. Against its will. Without consent. By someone who thinks it is no big deal. *sigh* I think I'll decide what is a big deal to my toe and what isn't! :)

So you see, I've been on antibiotics for several days now. Tomorrow afternoon begins what we'll come to know as "The Great Wuss Weekend". My dearest Donald is preparing to wait on me hand and foot while I am drugged up to stay on top of the pain. I'm planning to let him. Matthew is off to camp on Sunday so Honey and Poppy will make the delivery after Daddy gets his laundry all done and makes sure he's packed everything he'll need. Jonathan will undoubtedly worry about me so I'll get to spend lots of time cuddling with him and perhaps reading him a new book I have waiting from the library. If I can focus. LOL Laura will wonder why she's not getting all of Daddy's attention and I'll end up thinking that's a good thing. So perhaps The Great Wuss Weekend will have a good consequence after all.

Nah. What was I thinking.

So while you're wondering where your weekend went and why you didn't get anything done when you had so much planned, remember that at least your weekend was much better than mine. Remember that in Somewhere, USA there's a wuss with her foot stuck up in the air, wondering why she worried so much about something that really wasn't such a big deal. But Shhhhhhh! Don't tell Don!!! He's still willing to wait on me for a few more days! :)

He Keeps Growing Up...

I love East Coast. Custard that is. I love the special flavors of the day, and their frozen yogurt can't be beat. Especially Almond Joy. I could eat their frozen yogurt Almond Joy flavor every day and be quite happy about it. That's probably because I can't. But that's beside the point. :)

They used to make their Almond Joy flavor once or twice a month. Huge chunks of chocolate. Gobs of coconut. Almonds. All mixed in creamy frozen yogurt. YUM!!!But recently, for some unexplained, but joyfully celebrated reason, it seems every Wednesday is Almond Joy day. We periodically plan around that and have even been known to drive down just because it is Wednesday. I love Almond Joy.

Yesterday, while on the phone with Mom, I asked her if she wanted to meet us there but she declined. So we didn't go. I ate some frozen yogurt we had here instead and thought that would be the end of my East Coast Dreams for the week. I was wrong.

Matthew spent last evening at a concert and then a ballgame with his friend Brian. Brian's youth group was having an outing and Brian invited Matthew to go. After it was over, Brian's Dad picked them up at the church and brought them home. With a quick stop by East Coast. Brian's Dad bought the two of them Concretes and Matthew gleefully devoured his. As they were leaving, the reality of where he was and on what day hit him. He knew I'd like some ice cream. So he asked them to wait a minute, pulled out his wallet and purchased a pint to bring home. For me!

When he got home we were already upstairs in bed. All he needed to do was lock up, turn out the lights we'd left on for him and head upstairs. Instead he snuck in and got a spoon and, with as much calm excitement as he could muster, he ran up the steps and presented me with his purchase. He was so proud of what he'd done he could hardly contain himself. Frankly, I was proud of him, too.

My boy, he just keeps growing up...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Mommy, why do you..."

In our lives, there are some things that assault your senses daily. Some, like the sounds of the neighborhood or the hum of the fan, you can block out, only paying attention to them when the change and you finally notice it. Some, like the sound of water dripping or the annoying wails of a three year old who thinks it isn't time for bed yet even though they are a few hours overdue already, you wish you could block out but can't. And some, like the sounds of kids crying as they fall out of the tree or the periodic deep thinking questions from your children, make you react immediately. There are times when it would be better to wait and I'm still learning how to do that. For now, I'm learning to like toe jam.

This morning my daughter was in an interesting mood. She'd just been thoroughly examined, as I wanted to know where her current viral rash was heading and what body parts it might have chosen to abandon, and we'd already had the 'big girls go pee pee on the potty' discussion so she was out of conversation about that for the moment. Apparently she felt the need to create some new, albeit controversial, topic of conversation. So in the midst of a final check on her belly she says "Mommy, why do you have does?" Given that she was leaning against my chest, I assumed that is what she meant and started in on the 'God made us women' speech. She stopped me after a bit and said "No Mommy, why do you have does?" Hmmm... maybe I missed something.

"Can you tell Mommy what you want to know again?"

She shakes her head yes and says "Mommy, why do you have does?" I think for a moment and go over what we were just talking about while I checked her over. My mind couldn't come up with a thing. So I ask again.

She sighs. Yes, she's a bit dramatic. I don't know where she gets that. Then she says "Why do you have does? Does! You know, Mommy. Does!" Of course I know does - they are female deer. After all, The Sound of Music taught me nothing if not the Do Re Me song. But I'm thinking she's saying 'those' and I can't place what 'those' it is she's talking about. So I ask one more time.

"Can you show Mommy what you mean?"

She sighs again. Rolls her eyes even. And then she points to her toes. "Does, Mommy. Why do you have does?"


Toes. Toes. Why do we have toes???? So in my best Mommy voice I say "God gave us toes so we wouldn't fall over." She was satisfied. But I sure hope we come up with a better answer before she hits that section during home school!

Harb's Haircuts

There are some times in life when you just have to let go and move on. Amusingly, letting go of our 'hair guy' after 8 years of good haircuts, performed in our kitchen while he visited for his bi-monthly fill of homemade chocolate chip cookies has been a hard cut to make. Don and Matthew had gone far too long between cuts, and even though I'd given Jonathan an interim cut with our own clippers, his was already out of control. It was time to take action. But what?

After stewing for awhile, which meant that I wasn't doing anything productive about the problem, I hit a deadline. Matthew is headed to Camp McPherson on Sunday. He absolutely had to get his hair cut. Since we'd already had an interim visit to one of those quick cut places and didn't like it, I was fretting about where to go next without paying a fortune for all of that gorgeous hair that would be lying on the floor. Mom kept pushing for a barber. I was scared of what that might mean. Lou, where are you???

On Saturday, after my return to Weight Watchers, Mom and I passed Harb's on the way home. Harb's Barber Shop to be exact. With a sign out front that proclaimed haircuts were $11 for adults, $9 for kids and $8 for seniors. We circled around to check him out. In my mind I could picture an old dude with his clippers in his hand, ready to do my precious boys in with them. Instead we discovered a young man clipping all ages in a little, nicely kept shop. I decided we'd try it and started plotting my 'selling campaign' for the boys.

Once the decision had been made, I only needed to plan our visit around Mom's ability to keep Laura busy while we invaded Harb's. Last night worked out perfectly. Gary (the new owner of Harb's) didn't know what hit him. He happened to be reading when we stopped in in the midst of a long awaited steady rain. The boys agreed to a haircut much like Gary's and he did it well. Both look outstanding! Don got a 'businessman's haircut' which suits him well, too. :) And he paid the boys a buck to sweep up hair. You can't beat that for a visit to the barber. We liked Gary. He was sweet and young, and did a good job talking with the boys. We shared a bit of our lives and he did his best to earn our trust.

Yes, Gary. We'll be back to Harb's. The boys all look great. Thanks for a great evening!

(I'll post a picture as soon as I can pin them all down!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where Does It Come From???

It was one of those evenings. One of those, pack everyone up in the car and head out, we're nuts but we love it kind of evenings. There were clearance racks to pursue in search of 'camp appropriate clothing' for the ever-growing one, and several household/grocery needs to be tracked down along with a new script I must start in preparation for what I'm sure will become known as "The Great Wuss Weekend". So we headed out.

In our family lore, those that have come before us often influence our thoughts, actions and activities, and yes, even what we label those activities. I can't say exactly who relegated the joy of bodily functions to family times only, but with two growing boys and a daughter with digestive issues, we get a lot of it. So as the topic of 'bottom gas' was being bandied about the back of the van I thought I'd offer a bit of a family educational tidbit. After all, my niece Mackenzie was the one who started the whole 'bottom gas' label and I thought that it would amuse the boys so without thinking, I asked the question of the day.

There was a pause for a moment between all of the talk of 'sodom sass' and the boys laughter so I stepped in. I should have thought a bit more before I did. But no. I just forged ahead. From my mouth came "Where to you think 'bottom gas' comes from? For a moment there was silence. I was thinking about how to respond in a fun manner, relating Mackenzie's brilliance, and instead I hear the smallest voice in the car make the first guess. "From my bottom!" comes the enthusiastic reply. After a short pause, the car erupted in to laughter.

The laughter brought her tremendous reinforcement. For the rest of the trip home we'd hear "from my bottom" followed by her own ruckus laughter over and over again.


I did eventually rephrase my question and share the family lore, but somehow it was lost amidst the funny expressions from Laura. She's been upstaging us for three years now. I guess it is bound to continue. :)

And so it goes...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lego Sword Play

Jonathan is always creating something from Lego's and Bionicles. With the millions of pieces (no kidding!) we have here, there is plenty to make whatever strikes his fancy. It seems that what comes out of his creativity more often than not is some kind of weapon, or a new Bionicle dude with some now super power or weapon... *sigh* but at least he's being creative!

Here are some pictures from his latest 'battle' with the resident 'ogre'. Note how little the resident 'ogre' could have cared less about the flying sword and was much more interested in clowning for the camera... Gee, I wonder where she gets that???

Jonathan preparing for battle.

And here he was posing with his sword as the conquering hero.

Caught in mid air!

Taking himself far too seriously...

And finally, putting his sword to good use as he tries to help Laura balance using just her legs against the couch.

Then Laura decided it was her turn. Think she'll make a good companion for our resident "Link"? :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Laura's Still Doing the Ditches

One of my early entries here was about Laura and her determination to do the "ditches". She LOVES to help and doing the "ditches" is one of her absolute favorite things. No, it isn't much help now but when I can, I let her play for awhile with some things and a dishrag. I figure it will become such a wonderful part of her childhood memories that she won't be able to stop herself from reliving those memories by volunteering to do the "ditches" every night when she's a teenager. Okay, Okay. I can dream, can't I? :)

Anyway, today Laura was determined to help me once again. After relieving the sink of all of the dangerous implements, I allowed her to pull up her chair and have at it. After all, Daddy had gone to Target without her and she was feeling a bit left out. What better way to feel comforted than to do a load of dishes! Sure beats eating if you want to stay healthy! LOL

Critter Sitting (or How to Reaffirm Your Allergies)

Matthew's good friend Brian's family took a vacation. They were going to be gone for a few days so they asked us if we'd like to critter sit for them. The boys jumped at the chance. You see, our household is pet free. No, not because we are anti-pet. I just prefer to breathe. And since all of the children have followed my genetic lead and have varying degrees of allergies to the world as we know it, I protect them as well by keeping furry/feathered things away.

Oh, we had one bout of fish - they lived for awhile. A week or so perhaps. One or two might have actually lived a fortnight but I wouldn't bet much on that. After several rounds from the pet store, we decided our days of funerals while camped around the porcelain casket were behind us and we put the tank back in storage.

So here we are, proud sitters of critters for three days. By the end of the first 24 hours I'd enjoyed Marvin several times and had held Peanut a time or two, too. *sneeze* I popped an allergy pill in the hopes that it would alleviate the problem. I passed them out to the kids, too. Matthew sniffled endlessly. He claims it is the weather. I totally understand. I've been there, done that. I held on to my beloved cats until we moved to a new house and my Mom put her foot down. *sigh* I guess we'll wait until a week or so has passed to allow the remnants of Marvin to be swept away and we'll see. I feel for him. He was so close to his own Guinea Pig... *sneeze*

Oh well. At least we got to enjoy them for three days!

Here's Matthew and Laura enjoying Marvin. He likes to be held and especially appreciated parsley and other greens.

Here's Peanut. He sleeps during the day so photos of him are limited. LOL

How To Wear Your SMO's - NOT!

It seems our dear Laura has invented a new way to wear her SMO's. Yes, they belong on her feet to help give her stability and keep her aligned so she can walk more effectively. But apparently Laura had other ideas. Wouldn't Miss Merri Jo (our PT) be so proud? :)

And just for the record - no, that's not a supersized paddle against the wall behind her - it's her very own "bawance beam". She's getting pretty good at it. But only when she can use her chairs to help steady her at the start. One step at a time... one step at a time...

Whatever the Weather, We're A Family

I have come to realize that our children are accurate, easy to read, always available barometers of sorts. Just as we turn to the weather channel, or in our case the local news channel website, for an up-to-date weather forecast when we want to know how things are currently going or what might be ahead in the coming days, I can turn to my children to monitor the pulse of our family. Each one seems to keep track of a different measurement, but all can be counted on to let us know the bigger picture.

Let's take Matthew for example. Want to know how the rest of the neighborhood views our rather different, more traditional family? Need to know what the current trend is in teenagers having to do their own chores before enjoying privileges like playing bball with the other teens in the 'hood? Or did you want to know just how much time we have all been spending together as a whole family recently, and perhaps how much quality that time has contained? Watch and listen to the resident barometer. He'll be sure to tell you. I regularly get input on what his friends think about his life because he's still very willing to share that. And while his friends parents and I have a pretty regular email relationship where they often tell me how much they admire our choices, it isn't the same as hearing it from a teenagers mouth and reaffirming that we're making good choices for our family. And I love when I hear Matthew tell his friends he can't hit the bball court with them because he's got something planned with his family. Yes, I know that we're doing okay when all of that falls nicely in to place.

But the best barometer in Matthew surely must be the anger management meter. It is a given that if Don or I have been overly tired, overly stressed or stretched in some manner and have, as a result, have a shorter fuse and lacking some tolerance in our normally more easy going household, Matthew will, in turn, respond in kind. His temper gets short. He can't maintain his self control with as much determination as he normally does. He wants to lash out for all of the wrong reasons. Of course he does. Because we aren't maintaining our self control as well and we aren't keeping the normal routine in our household because, for a time, it seems like it takes too much energy. So I'm learning just how important it is to keep myself on an even keel, and to tell Matthew when the opportunity arises that I'd like to let go of myself at that moment but I realize I need to maintain self control. I'm learning that some semblance of a routine is important no matter how much else is going on. My Matthew needs that. And frankly, so do I. He teaches me so much. I'm glad I'm mature enough to gladly learn from him.

Jonathan, on the other hand, is very good at monitoring our priorities. And his sensitivities go beyond the normal, 'we haven't had enough time together on a one-on-one basis' thing. He can give you not only the past few days, or even hours, highs and lows, he can give you an indication about how you need to adjust for the coming days in order to avoid the storms of disagreements and difficulties that come from lack of attention and misguided priorities. He is very good at reminding us that while maintaining a clean house is a good thing, making it a priority over playing a game with him or holding the next tether ball tournament would be a guaranteed storm in the making. It is a wonderful way to reassert the appropriate place for almost everything in to your life.

Yes, he's only 9. But at his young age, he is extremely sensitive to what we think are hidden issues. Don't feel well? Don't think you can hide it from him. Frowning on the inside but trying to smile on the outside? Don't even begin to imagine that he won't notice. Need a hug to reset your heart at a difficult moment? Count on Jonathan to be there, ready and willing to give you one without asking. Need to just sit for awhile quietly with nothing to bombard your senses and want a companion? Jonathan will willing come without you even mentioning it and just sit with you, cuddled in to your side, quietly waiting for you to settle your breathing rate down to an even, calming level. He teaches me so much. I'm glad I'm mature enough to be willing to learn from him.

And then there's Laura. What could a 3 year old do to help the household? You can't even begin to imagine. She is our joy meter instilled in a little body with much to offer and now, thankfully, little required. While the other two resident barometers periodically would like to hang her up on a hook in the closet for an hour or two and willingly put her down for a nap when asked, they, too, find great joy in her everyday life. As is probably typical for a child born later in life and periodically the center of attention, she's becoming quite the entertainer. Drama is her middle name but not often in the negative sense. When she's whiny without cause you can be sure we haven't spent enough time having fun lately. When she demands attention in a negative manner you can be sure there hasn't been enough positive attention given that day. And when she tells you that she "want up, Mommy", you can be sure that some quiet time is needed for everyone so making time for some downtime would be a prudent use of our time.

But perhaps the most important thing she monitors is just good ol' plain family fun. She demands that we participate when she needs to just get up and dance. She has an affinity for repetition and can sing the same song over and over again with a smile that just infuses happiness in to everyone in the room. And she can get anyone to participate with her just by encouraging you with her ever-increasing personality. Who can resist someone else having the time of their life at that moment? Who wants to remain full of frustration and anger when someone else is dancing around like a maniac full of life, love and excitement over the littlest things? Certainly not any of us! She has taught me so much. I'm so glad I'm blessed with her presence in this season of my life.

Learning to read my resident barometers has come with my status as a stay-at-home Mom. It takes time invested and a willingness to change myself. I'm still learning to read them and will continue to do so as they grow older despite my desire to stop time. I'm continue to be very thankful that the Lord gave me the opportunity to avert floods of Noah proportions in our household, that my husband supports my efforts by allowing me to be at home with them every single day, all day, and that I chose to invest in three little human beings that will someday change their little corner of the world, making it better in their own way.

As the household begins its new day I wonder what our weather is... I hope I find sunny skies as everyone starts their day. If not, I know I'll know it soon enough. And unlike our fearless weathermen, I have the option to reroute most of the oncoming storms.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"You Pomise Me, Mom? Pomise?"

Yesterday afternoon was one of those leisure ones that you dream about. Yes, the laundry needed attention but I was ignoring it. And we won't even talk about the baking I need to do for Saturday. Instead I was sitting in the rocking chair, snuggled with with Laura as we watched the boys play basketball across the street, and occasionally read a few more pages of "Clifford's Christmas". I know it's July. But Goodwill had it cheap and Laura loves Clifford... you see where that got me. :)

Soon Laura tired of just sitting and once again starting playing in her own little world. She got her babies up from their naps where they were sleeping on white couch pillows, covered up by blankets. She fed them imaginary food, took them on an imaginary walk, told them to be good while she went on an imaginary grocery store run to "Marct's" and then proceeded to put her imaginary groceries away in her imaginary kitchen. Once in awhile I was given instructions to hold the babies while they cried, get them out of timeout and 'do the hugs, Mommy', eat my food so I could have a 'tootie' and keep an eye on things while she was away. And then she got my full attention.

She was putting things away and working hard at being a Mommy while I picked up the clutter in order to regain the clean house I've come to love. The fact that company was arriving with our 'guests' (Peanut the hamster and Marvin the guinea pig) in a bit made my efforts have a purpose beyond my own needs so I was a bit more diligent about it all. I told Laura to put some things away and she told me she would. Then she proceeded to put something away in a different spot. I started to correct her and she held up her finger to her mouth and said "Shhhhh, Mommy!" I had the common sense to hold my comments so I could wait for what was to come. She proceeded to give me a long explanation about why she put the blanket where she did and it involved her babies, napping, timeout, a picnic and who knows what else. I stood there with my hands on my hips, waiting for her to finish before telling her to move it and put it where it went. As her explanation wound down she came up to me, clasped her hands together against her chest and said "Don't move it, okay Mom? You pomise me, Mom? Pomise? My babies NEED it there."

Indeed there have been times in my life where something needed to be where it didn't belong. I figured I owed Laura that once in awhile, too. After all, who really cared that the blanket was spread across the coffee table? Certainly not Peanut and Marvin.

I figure God does much the same with us. He wants us to live our lives a certain way but we can detour from that now and then. And he allows us to clean up our messes when we are ready, and reset ourselves on the right path. He is patient and very understanding. And he promised to love us through it all. He expects the same from us as we guide our children through life, teaching them to make the right choices. Which can include a detour from our plans once in awhile.

"You pomise me, Mom? Pomise?"

"Yes, Laura. I promise."

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Sometimes you just have to laugh at how our children learn to express themselves. Laura, as with most children, has a few that are just so cute I know I'll miss them when she learns how to pronounce them correctly. The boys had some we still talk about, and imitate, to this day. I wonder what will live on from Laura?

Here are some of her current ones:

"Belbeeba" - her favorite cheese right now.

"Sodom Sass" - The noise that periodically oozes from her diaper. She'll even look back there to see what made that noise like she is totally innocent... oh the joys of living with big brothers.

"Outtide" - her favorite place to be!

"Homedwerkt" - what she thinks she needs to do every day even though the boys haven't done it for a long time

"Swippers" and "Sanolds" - her favorite footwear

"Bushed my haired" - her least favorite daily activity

"Pudder in a tup" - her favorite snack/lunch

"Mattchew" and "Don-a-ton" - her siblings

"Baff" - what she'd like to have instead of a 'sower'

"Tickin" and "Fwensh Fwies" - another favorite 'wunch'

"Mom! Wook!" - a phrase I hear over and over again all day...

"Deego" and "Dowa", "Cwiffort", "Ci-oo" and "Arter" - her PBS fix for the week

"Hawnee and Pawpa" - her favorite people in the whole wide world.

"Pweese" and "Tank Oo" - her very polite self in action.

I know there are so many more that I'll add as they come up. While we still can't understand everything she says, we're thrilled she's doing so well. At least she brings us lots of humor on her path to perfection! :)

Honey and Poppa

Honey and Poppa live here. Well, not in person mind you. But in the larger-than-life reality that resides in the minds of children who love and adore their grandparents. Don and I are mere mortals. They see us in various states of reality and they get it 24/7. On the other, much greener side of the fence resides the worlds most wonderful people. Those mysterious ones who always have time for them, possess the ability to involve themselves in truly wonderful activities like lawn mowing (Matthew gets to ride the tractor!) and dishwashing (Laura loves to 'help' by playing in the water forever), all without ever requiring them to clean up after themselves or *gasp* actually help get dinner on the table. And honestly, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Except this week perhaps. I have perfected the reasons why we aren't going to Honey and Poppa's this evening and can quote it without thinking. I don't even have to think about what Laura will say next because we've danced this dance for three days now and I have it down pat. She'll start with "When are we goin' to Howney and Poppa's?" and occasionally add "I wan to see Nawnaw". Then I get to chime in with "We aren't going to Honey and Poppa's today" and can add "Nana isn't there anymore-She went home to her house" with obnoxious repetition previously unknown in our rather ordinary household. And periodically Jonathan and Matthew get in to the picture now and then, too. They know Nana isn't there any longer, but they enjoyed the constant access to their two favorite people and wonder when they'll get to see them again as well.

As I was putting Laura to bed last night, on time mind you, it seems some switch flipped in her mind. She seemed to get that we hadn't been to Honey and Poppa Wonderland for several days, and she was headed to bed once again, so it obviously wasn't going to happen today either. You could almost see the gears in her mind flip through her options. Honey wasn't available, Poppa wasn't available, Nana had gone home to her house, obviously not anywhere near here, so what did she have left? DADDY! Where was Daddy? Why wasn't he here putting her to bed??? Slowly her head lifted and her eyes caught mine. "Mom, where's Daddy? Is he at worked becaused he loves us?" I smiled. Life was returning to normal for her. We were back to life as we know it. I was still not good enough on my own after 4:30 PM but I no longer needed to be compared to Honey and Poppa. I was back to being half of the Mommy and Daddy team that took care of her. "No Sweetpea. Daddy isn't at work because he loves us. He's at Marc's because he loves us, getting some groceries for Mommy."

With that assurance, we prayed and she settled down for bed. While it took several trips down the hall in the next hour or so, and a visit from Daddy when he got home for her normal goodnight kiss and another drink of milk from him before she settled down, I went to bed feeling like things were returning to normal once again. Tomorrow would be a more settled day without the 'Honey and Poppa visit' thrown in to the mix. It would be a normal Thursday. Curbside recycling would be first on the boys schedule. Laundry and game playing would fill mine, along with baking for Jarryd's graduation party thrown in for good measure. Laura would merrily go through her day playing Mommy to her babies and asking every once in awhile for someone to take her outside. Yes, perhaps life was returning to normal.

And then I realized that I missed all of the fun we'd had while Nana was here. I missed the 'pick up and go because family is important' thing. Yes, we were running out of clean laundry but it was fun to just take off for Honey and Poppa's knowing we'd have family time and enjoy it thoroughly. I suppose Laura felt much the same way. She missed everyone, too. But for now we have each other. And that is good enough for me. For a few more days, anyway.

I guess I should tell the kids we'll be seeing Honey and Poppa this weekend because they are going with us to Jarryd's party but I think I'll wait. I'd hate to have to start the whole "what day is it today and how many more days is it until I see them/let's sing the Seven Days of the Week song so early in the game... Yes, I'll wait. And I'll smile right along with them as the joy oozes from them when they find out Honey and Poppa are on their way. Yes, I'll be happy for them because they'll get to spend time with their two favorite people. But I'll also be smiling because I'll be happy to see them again, too! :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Five Years and Counting...

Five years ago last week, two families became one. I couldn't have been happier. And I still marvel at the joy that continues to come from that moment. The Lord gave me my Knight in Shining Armor when I wasn't even listening for the gallop to go by. And the Lord gave Don his family when he'd all but given up hope of ever having the pleasure of raising children with a wife who believed in putting family before a career. And the boys have a Dad. A Dad who loves them unconditionally. Something they both wanted very badly.

Neither of us were looking. Both of us found more than we ever could have imagined. No, it hasn't always been perfect. Laura's first few years certainly stretched our abilities and our focus. Living on a budget because we choose to have a stay at home mom in our household means we sacrifice where we didn't used to do so when we were single. And learning to live with someone else always presents lessons in compromise and the application of the Lord's way instead of our own. But for all of us, it is all so very worth it. Work is never without its reward. We find ourselves very rewarded. :)

I thank the Lord daily for my gift. He's truly the best one yet! :)

Those Couches...

Exhaustion seems to run in waves around here. With the adults that is. Rarely do the kids ever come close to thinking they absolutely NEED to rest. But occasionally, on very rare days, perhaps reality hits them, too.

Laura is constant motion. Always moving, exploring, talking, doing. And really quite pleasant and cute while doing it all. Lately however, we've had a few days where her very regular nap times weren't an option and she handled those days better than I ever hoped. Most of the time, anyway. But the other day it seems that she might have reached her limit. She just couldn't keep up. At about 4:30 she settled down to watch PBS and those eyelids wouldn't stay open. I smiled at how peaceful she looked. How relaxed she was. How sweet, and quiet, she was while she slept.

These thoughts brought so many things to mind - those first 18 mos where we listened to her every breath through the night, and counted the regular pauses, because of her severe sleep apnea. Or the fact that she's sleeping without the pain of severe reflux that kept her awake night after night, or even the fact that she's sleeping on her back and not her stomach as is her normal way so she could keep her airway clearer. We no longer worry about things like that. She sleeps peacefully and that would have been enough to bring a smile to my face at that moment. But the thought that brought the biggest smile was where she was sleeping.

Those white couches... my gift from God came with those white couches. Yes, My Donald, the almost confirmed bachelor, wooed me on those white couches. And I recall thinking over and over again how he couldn't really be serious about a long term relationship with me because I already had two growing boys. Boys. Two. Boys. Growing rapidly. Growing boys and white couches don't go together. So dating someone who purchased white couches for their home seemed to say that they weren't really in the market for adding growing boys in to the household. Thankfully I was wrong. Very wrong. I think it might have been on one of these white couches where he actually broached the subject of lifetime commitment. And I could have cared less at that moment about those white couches. And it seemed he wasn't too concerned, either.

Five years later those couches have come full circle. They were cradling our daughter while she caught a quick nap. Not once did Don even think of moving her. Not once did I worry about her penchant for slobbering while she slept. We just enjoyed the peaceful moment while she caught up on a few moments of rest, sleeping quietly while the world calmly went on around her. While she slept like a princess on those white couches... The Lord definitely has a sense of humor, doesn't he? :)

Monday, July 09, 2007

"Classic Family" Gatherings

When our family gathers, we always have fun. The past few weeks have found us gathering more than our normal 'Once a Month for Classic Family Sunday'. It all started with Uncle Mick's visit, and ended yesterday with our final family gathering to send Nana home, well loved, kissed and filled to capacity. We value these times together and are always planning for the next one. And lately, picture taking is an event that we all enjoy as well. Brenda, Mackenzie, Diane and I all take lots of pictures. Jonathan has recently joined us in this endeavor and, in fact, took some of these pictures. Matthew takes a few every now and then as well.

Here are some pictures of the last week or so together. Everything from the actual 4th of July gathering, through Mikayla's graduation party and ending with Nana's last gathering. If nothing else, it certainly shows that we know how to have fun!

Yes, this proves that July 4th was much warmer than our July 1st gathering. Auntie Diane and Laura sure enjoy the swings in Honey and Poppa's back yard!

Dad and Jonathan were busy watching a "Man vs. Wild" marathon. Let's pray the show doesn't give Jonathan and Matthew any ideas...

Jonathan took up juggling for a bit on Sunday. He started with the small balls...

And of course Laura had to help. They did pretty well.

Then he tried the five pound ball...

It didn't go so well.

Matthew tried his hand at it, too.

He's perfected the concentration issue...

And safely catching those that tend to wander away too quickly.

Here's a picture of Jarryd lighting Kayla's candles during her party. I was so busy inside, I failed to take lots of pictures. Perhaps Brenda will send some I can add. *hint, hint*

And here's a few of Laura. She was having a good time.

And she likes to investigate the camera showing us she really knows how to enjoy her 'nacks' but has yet to learn how to wipe her mouth...

Poppa's army hat gets around.

Our budding tomboy...

Even Murphy gets in to the picture. Here he's a little 'fatigued'. :)

July 4th - An Unexpected Contrast in Tolerance

July 4th. Just hearing it brings to mind a feeling of patriotism and identity with our Great Nation, warmth, barbeque's, family and friends, and of course, fireworks. Let me say that again. Just hearing the words 'July 4th' brings to mind a feeling of... warmth. Yes, that's what I said. It isn't what I experienced this year, but it is indeed what is supposed to happen. :)

We celebrated with our families on July 1st. It isn't so far away from the 4th that you'd think the weather would be much different. But oh how wrong you'd be. At least here this year. And it brought to mind how some of us are so much younger than the rest.

Here we are 'celebrating' on the 1st.

Yes, you saw that correctly. We're bundled up like it's October! We were so cold, we needed regular reinforcements.

But some of us weren't quite so cold...

And this picture nicely illustrates the contrasts in tolerance that day...

And of course our precious sundressed wee one could have cared less. This was another dress brought to her by Nana. It was perfect for celebrating the birth of our nation.

Yes, the day was definitely a contrast in tolerance. Cold tolerance that is. And to think that we all gathered again on the 4th... we probably should have just waited. We'd have been warmer! But we would have missed all that chatting on the back deck. So I guess it was good that we gathered together on the 1st anyway, but we probably should have dressed for the weather and not what we thought the holiday was supposed to be!

My Baby's Growing Up...

Matthew was my first. He and I have been through much together. We've laughed and played together, we've seen the best in others and enjoyed the happiness that comes from just feeling good about life, and we've experienced the deep sadness that comes from being hurt by someone you trusted. We've learned together, explored the beach together and taken long walks together where we discuss life with all of its good and bad. We've really grown up together. Well, he still has a few years to go, but then so do I. I've learned to be a better parent because of him. I've discovered what teen hormones can do to a once easy going, growing boy, and I've learned how much fun it is to share little discoveries with someone who shares your genes. And last week I learned something new with him once again. I learned how to let go.

Matthew spent his first day working, earning his first paycheck. No, he's not old enough to get a job yet in the strictest sense of the word. But he is old enough to maturely accept an offer made by someone who benefited from his muscle and hard work during Encounter Week with teens this past month. One of the families they helped approached Matthew with the opportunity to work a day or so a week mowing, weeding and helping the home owner with three houses. He immediately said yes.

Matthew's initial excitement, and my joy at knowing someone else valued his budding work ethic along with us, was slowly replaced over the next day or two with the realization that the commitment required something of both of us. For Matthew I think he began to wonder just what he'd be doing and if he was capable of doing the things he might be asked to do after the yard work was done. The homeowner is renovating one of the houses and needs help now and then with some of the harder work. I am sure he will learn much, but it will require a humble heart, willing to learn. I also think Matthew was wondering if he would miss being home all day. After all, we have a pretty good time here.

My initial joy was almost immediately balanced by the fact that my baby was growing up. That wee little thing that wiggled and giggled with me from the day I brought him home from his extended stay in the hospital was now big enough to spend the day taking direction from someone else. I would be letting him go out in to the big world on his own. I wouldn't be there to clean his scratches, encourage him to continue even when he was tired, or remind him to clean up his lunch mess. I wouldn't get to see the growing sense of accomplishment he'd have as he became confident in his work, or the smile he'd secretly be beaming from his eyes so he could still look unaffected should his boss compliment him. I would have to let go. Oh, I've let go before - after all he went away to camp last year, didn't he? And he has helped the neighbors with yard work now and then as well as taking some responsibility for our yard here at home without my standing in the middle of it, making sure he didn't cut off his toe in the mower. But this felt different. I'd be driving him to work, dropping him off, and only returning to get him when he was finished. No checking in. No updates. Just letting go.

I could hardly wait to see how he did. Don and I both went down to get him from 'the job'. We pulled in to the driveway and waited only a moment before his passive frame stood up from the stoop and headed to the car. No emotion. No cockiness. No fear or even false bravado. Just Matthew. Casual. Mellow. More grown up than he was just hours before. *sigh*

In his pocket was his first paycheck. He was very proud. He can now pay for his paintball supplies while at camp once again this year. Oh wait! That means I have to let go once again! I guess this is the way it will go from now on. It seems you spend years pouring yourself in to them, leading them, guiding them, molding them and enjoying them, only to have to let them go. My baby is growing up. I am so very proud of the young man he is becoming and I love him dearly. I hope he takes that with him wherever he goes. And remembers to come back for a hug and a goodnight kiss when he can.

Nana's Visit Was Wonderful!!!

Nana arrived in our presence over a week ago and we thoroughly enjoyed a lot of good ol' family time. She said she didn't want to go anywhere or do anything but spend time with us. So we complied. We just sat and talked, watched the kids (and Dad) playing, and ate until we were stuffed over and over again. She sat by me while I finished her birthday stitching project and she stood next to my Mom while they made hundreds of cookies for my niece's graduation party. She was in the midst of our lives and loved it all. But she decided she'd need to go home to rest up. :)

Today she headed to the airport about an hour ago. We already miss her terribly. Even Laura wants to know when we are 'weaving for Honey's house to see Nawnaw'. I only wish it were that easy all of the time.

Here are some pictures of our week. Enjoy!

Nana and My Crew - They fell in love with her all over again!

Nana, Kenz and Kayla

Nana and Seth

Nana checking on her stitching progress.

Nana and The Whole Gang! Except Brenda who is a chicken... er... expert at taking pictures!