Sunday, September 30, 2007

Humor, Our Bottom Line to Living Happy, Healthy Lives

As I've mentioned several times, our family has a unique sense of humor. Each of us, including Laura, has developed their own brand of humor and we choose to use it liberally. Don, for instance, has a quick way with one liners and his humor is usually very dry. Matthew and I are good with puns and we both can use sarcasm, especially when making light of ourselves. Matthew also is quick with wordplay and Jonathan can come up with some zingers as well. Jonathan is also very good at jokes. He's refining his timing and I fear he's going to be the comedian of the bunch before long. And then there's Laura. She takes after me. She's very good with facial expressions and can give you one of those 'looks' that lets you know she's on to you and just what she thinks about it. And she's an excellent imitator. But she doesn't always imitate at the right time so she's developing a new form of comedy around here - cracking us all up with her 'oopsies'.

We've all learned how to use humor when things are tense but we usually forget in the heat of the moment. Well, most of us anyway. But not Jonathan. As part of his role as the peacemaker in the household, he'll step in with something to lift the tension at the best of moments. Let's take the other night for instance. We were late getting home on a weeknight and it was already way past Laura's bedtime and was circling over the boys as well. After the groceries were all put away, I started hustling everyone upstairs but alas Laura had gotten her second wind. Or maybe it was her third. I'd lost count by then. I only wanted everyone to get to bed so I could follow. As I told Laura to get her 'fuzzy bunny' and head upstairs, she folded her arms, looked at me out of the corner of her eye and very firmly said "No. I not ready yet." Since I'm working very hard at responding without anger, I put my response on pause for just a few seconds in order to gather a more appropriate response from the nether regions of my very tired brain. It was very quiet in the room. Matthew was watching carefully to see if I was holding true to my efforts at remaining calm while under stress, and Jonathan was standing off to the side watching, too.

The silence stretched longer than I'd anticipated. Perhaps I fell asleep. No. I am sure my mind was working. Working hard to keep my hands from reaching out and popping her little bucket if nothing else. And then, from the silence came our salvation. Jonathan, having spent at least a good 10 minutes earlier in the day watching the Mom Song over and over again, stepped in for the save. He jumped next to Laura, knelt down and pointed his finger in my direction. Then, using his best bass imitation, started singing as loud as his little body would let him. Out came "Because, because, because, because, she said so, she said so, she said so, she said so. She's the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Moooom! Ta-da!!!

It was quiet for a few seconds. Enough time for Jonathan to swing his head around and look up at me with a the cutest little smile on his face letting me know he was being the best big brother he could be. And then the laughter started. All four of us just roared. I think Laura most of all. And then, as her shoulders sank in to submission, she took my hand and walked up the steps to bed.

Yes, humor is one of the staples around here. And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

William Tell Momisms or The Mom Song

In an effort to share The Mom Song with a friend who does not have speakers that work on her computer, I thought I'd sit down and transcribe the lyrics. There is still one spot where I can't figure out the exact words Anita Renfroe is singing, but I've done my best. I thought I'd post them here for those of you who haven't seen the video. Trust me, the lyrics don't do the comedic value justice at all. When put to the William Tell Overture and sung by Anita, however, they come to life. I encourage you to listen for yourself. But, if you are one of those who doesn't have working speakers, here's the lyrics to the best of my ability. If you'd like to submit a correction, please feel free. My ears are getting older and sometimes my brain doesn't work as fast as my fingers do on the keyboard. :)

UPDATE: The mystery lyrics have been solved by the writer herself. They are recorded below. And please feel free to visit her site to order the DVD if you just can't live without it!

William Tell Momisms
by Anita Renfroe
sung to the William Tell Overture
Get up now, get up now, get up out of bed,
Wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your sleepy head.
Here’s your clothes and your shoes, hear the words I said,
Get up now, get up and make your bed.

Are you hot, are you cold, are you wearing that?
Where’s your books and your lunch and your homework at?
Grab your coat and your gloves and your scarf and hat.
Don’t forget, you’ve gotta feed the cat.

Eat your breakfast, the experts tell us it’s the most important meal of all,
Take your vitamins so you will grow up one day to be big and tall.
Please remember the orthodontist will be seeing you at three today,
Don’t forget your piano lesson is this afternoon so you must play.

Don’t shovel, chew slowly, but hurry, the bus is here,
Be careful, come back here, did you wash behind your ears?
Play outside, don’t play rough, would you just play fair?
Be polite, make a friend, don’t forget to share,
Work it out, wait your turn, never take a dare,
Get along, don’t make me come down there.

Clean your room, fold your clothes, put your stuff away,
Make your bed, do it now, do we have all day?
Were you born in a barn? Would you like some hay?
Can you even hear a word I say?

Answer the phone, Get off the phone,
Don’t sit so close, turn it down, no texting at the table.
No more computer time tonight,
Your ipod’s my ipod if you don’t listen up.

Where you going and with whom and what time do you think you’re coming home?
Saying thank you, please, excuse me, makes you welcome everywhere you roam.
You’ll appreciate my wisdom someday when you’re older and you’re grown.
Can’t wait til you have a couple little children of your own.

You’ll thank me for the council I gave you so willingly,
But right now I thank you not to roll your eyes at me.
Close your mouth when you chew, we’d appreciate,
Take a bite, maybe two, of the stuff you hate.
Use your fork, do not burp or I’ll set you straight.
Eat the food I put upon your plate.

Get an A, get in the door, don’t be smart with me,
Get a grip, get in here or I’ll count to three,
Get a job, Get a life, get a PhD, get a dose of

I don’t care who started it,
You’re grounded until you’re 36,
Get your story straight and tell the truth for once for heaven sake.

And, if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump to?
If I’ve said once I’ve said it at least a thousand times before,
That you’re too old to act this way,
It must be your father’s DNA.

Look at me when I am talking, stand up straighter when you walk.
A place for everything, and everything must be in place.
Stop crying or I’ll give you something real to cry about.


Brush your teeth, wash your face, get your pj’s on.
Get in bed, get a hug, say a prayer with Mom.
Don’t forget I love you (kiss)

And tomorrow we will do this all again
because a Mom’s work never ends.

You don’t need the reason why,
Because, Because, Because, Because,
I said so, I said so, I said so, I said so.
I’m the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Mom!


And here is the video so you can follow along if you'd like:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Apparently It's Not Just Me

It would seem that not only did I absolutely and wholeheartedly relate to Anita Renfroe's "The Mom Song", but the whole world might be along for the ride. Or at least Moms in general. The video clips have had quite a few hits on youtube and many of the copies of her work have been taken down due to some copyright issues, or at least that's what I'm assuming. I changed the link to the one I posted earlier as this one seems to be relatively stable, and will try to check to see if it is still good every once in awhile.

I decided to figure out who she really is and pleasantly discovered that she's a Christian, has written several books, and even has a new one coming out soon. I ordered one of her older ones and will probably devour it as soon as it arrives. Meanwhile, whenever I need a boost out of our humdrum daily blunderings, I'll just rejuvenate by listening to her video and thanking the Lord that I have a chance to be home with my children while they are younger. Her video by the way, is also available along with her books, from her website: Check it out. Maybe she's coming to a venue near you and you can get the whole thing in person!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

Laura, in January, 2005 fresh out of casts and back in her special shoes

Ah shoes! I imagine many women squeal with glee when they spot a sale or clearance going on in the shoe department. I used to. Especially when I was working full time. My dress and casual shoes wore out much more quickly then and I'd always look for new ones. I didn't buy them often though. The 'breaking in' process was more than I cared to endure so I stuck to my much loved ones until they could give no more. I still find that I look at shoe sales even though my shoe needs have greatly decreased. It must be some compelling force of nature that draws the female to leather like preschoolers to the playground. It is just that now I flock to toddler shoe sales. After all, I am a mother raising a girl! I must teach her the ways of the woman. :)

This week my hunt for the perfect shoe hasn't involved department stores or even my favorite bargain hunting locations. Instead we've been measuring for new Mitchell shoes. John Mitchell, working closely with Dr. Ponseti and many parents over the years, has created a shoe that is much more comfy for children who must wear the FAB for awhile following clubfoot correction. I have thanked the Lord many times for John and his willingness to give his heart, and his life's work, to my daughter and others with the same issues. But this week I find I am even more thankful.

This week, after hearing from Dr. Ponseti that Laura was relapsing even after having gone through the ATTT surgery, we attempted to use her old shoes until the new ones could arrive. The first night, as I shared earlier this week, went very well. The second night, not so much. Her much more normal foot was too big for the shoe and she just wouldn't have any of it. She fussed for quite awhile before we finally took her shoes off for the night after assuring her we'd order her new ones in the morning. Indeed, yesterday I did. And John's staff assured me they'd go out in yesterday's mail and would most likely arrive here on Monday. Monday. Just a few working days to make the shoes and get them from Iowa to Ohio. What a blessing. At least we think so. I'm not sure Laura will!

Even though we'll have new "night-night" shoes, that still leaves our need for daytime shoes. Do we still need to use the AFO? I honestly don't know. I have the entire month of October to figure that out as we won't meet again for a fitting until the 31st. Until this question is answered I can't really shop for shoes. As much as I love to stop and stare at the wonderful array of shoes in every toddler department, and because Laura has only one pair that fit her well that aren't sandals, I'll have to wait to see what our needs will be. Meanwhile, I'll dream of her tiny feet in cute shoes, unencumbered by SMO's, AFO's or bones that aren't in the right position. Because I know that someday, when the time is right, they will be. Waiting for the Lord to bring that time to fruition is teaching me much about patience and trust. I hope I learn soon. There are a lot of cute shoes for sale, just waiting for me!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Laughter Really IS The Best Medicine

As I was unloading on a friend who just happened to time her call to arrive right in the middle the umpteenth time I was reminding the boys of The Golden Rule and The Ten Commandments, she laughed and said she'd send me some relief. I hung up wondering when she might arrive, with troops at the ready, to relieve me for a few hours of "Mommy time". Yes, as you might remember, I dream big. *hehehehehe*

Instead, a little 'bing' let me know I had mail. I saw it was from her so I thought I'd open it sooner rather than later. And I'm glad I did. I'm also extremely pleased that I had already downed my diet coke/diet dew quotient for the day because it could have been disastrous for my monitor and keyboard had I had one of them still in my hand. Or worse, busy glugging. So, before you play the video, I suggest you swallow what you have in your mouth and refrain from further whistle-wetting. Your monitor will thank you.

For mothers everywhere,The Mom Song:

You Gotta Have Faith...

Yesterday my heart ached for so many reasons. I was having tremendous difficulty wrapping my mind around everything that seemed to be culminating in what I felt like was a showdown between traditional approaches to orthopedic issues and the Ponseti Method. And I felt, as I have several times before, like Laura was in the middle, being pulled in two different directions. I didn't see a happy ending and I certainly couldn't see what good might come of everything we'd been through and sleep was elusive once again.

As I was dressing Laura for bed, it occurred to me to dig out her old Mitchell shoes and bar to see if they still fit by any stretch. Her smaller foot, the one with the higher arch and 'slight cavus' according to Dr. Ponseti, fit okay. Her slightly larger foot had some tootsies hanging over the edge but I figured that foot didn't matter nearly as much so we'd go with them until we had a change to order a new pair.

Laura was hesitant. Initially, I think she wasn't sure at all that I was doing anything that might remotely fall in the "I'm doing this because I love you" category but she watched silently as I made her bar a bit bigger and placed her feet in the shoes. Then Daddy arrived. He quietly got down on his knee and softly explained that her foot needed a little help and the shoes would help her walk better. She smiled a wee bit, shook her head in agreement and that was it. She was fine.

When we put her in the crib, she actually made a game out of trying to walk in them. We carried on about the new "boarder" in the family, and Matthew told her that what she was doing was called 'the Moon Walk'. They laughed and had a good time pretending together. We prayed, kissed goodnight, and did our usual "I love you" thing as we quietly closed the door. And secretly I prepared for a rough night as Laura got used to her shoes again, possibly needing to be recasted in order to fully correct her feet before putting them back in her shoes.

When I woke up at 5:20 to the sounds of Don getting ready for work, I realized she's slept through the night without a peep. Not a whimper. When she finally woke up, it was because she was hungry, not because her feet were bothering her. She sat with me for awhile in my bed and didn't ask to have them taken off. She was content.

I finally took them off, got her dressed for the day, sent her off to get the boys up. I realized as she walked away that there was no limp. No evidence of her being hesitant to walk. No difficulty with what the Dr called her soft tissue injury last week. Nothing. She was fine. Now she's happily playing, having asked for her SMO's to be put on.

I am feeling quite loved at the moment. As if the Lord wrapped his arms around me and said "my child, it is going to be okay. I am in charge. Just keep your eyes on me and we'll go down the road together." The anxiety I felt yesterday about putting her back in shoes has vanished. The stress of possibly having to pay for a trip to Iowa seems to be shrinking each time I think about it. And I know that the Lord will provide for the new pair of shoes and bar that we will be ordering this week. It is as if, through the night, he set everything on the right path. And instead of feeling stress, I'm looking forward to seeing how he does it all. Healing is no longer something vague. I'm beginning to believe it can happen.

Faith the size of a mustard seed... I think I can manage that. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

She Just Doesn't Fit the Mold

As the tears flowed once again this afternoon, I couldn't help but think about all we've been through in what seems to be a never ending trek to 'fix' something Laura needs fixed so she can be 'normal'. I remember the total satisfaction that came over me, along with the enormous feeling of relief, the day we removed Laura's g-tube. I thought that it was the end. That she would be fine. That we didn't need to worry about anything else. We had conquered it and life would go on. Normally. Whatever that is.

Needless to say, I was wrong. Big time. It was just the beginning of paying more attention to her clubfeet issues that had been pushed to the back burner as we worried about her every breath. Somehow feet just didn't seem to be all that important at the time. Now that she was breathing, and yes, even eating on her own, her feet jumped back in to the spotlight. And they have commanded a large spotlight ever since.

It has been a long road. She has atypical/complex feet that don't 'fix' like normal clubfeet. We've agreed to several smaller surgeries in an effort to correct them for good after casting her with the Ponseti Method over the course of several years. Then we agreed to use SMO's because she had low tone and was not as stable as she needed to be. Finally, just a few months ago, we agreed to let them fit her for an AFO on her most difficult foot thinking it might help. But my gut just churned. I couldn't help but think that there was something we were missing. Something obvious that wasn't normal, but given that we were dealing with Laura, normal didn't count.

A few weeks ago the orthotist brought the first AFO to an appt in order try it on Laura. I can only say that my gut churned harder and harder as the day approached, and when he put it on and it did nothing, absolutely nothing to fix her heel varus rollover, I felt at once relieved and scared all that much more. The orthotist stated that he'd remake one in order to see if it would really do something because he felt it would. I agreed. We were to meet tomorrow afternoon for that fitting. I was not happy but life goes on.

This past weekend I was sharing with my SIL Diane all that we had been through and what we felt our options were. It helped because in talking it out I put some things in order in my thoughts. But overall, my gut churned even more and I didn't sleep well that night. I kept going over and over in my mind what the possibilities were and how we could avoid AFO's and surgery. Both were supposed to be short term but in our experience, nothing is as it is supposed to be with Laura so I wasn't counting on that. I kept thinking about my research on her latest diagnosis of heel varus and my mind kept pushing the connection to clubfoot and trying to figure out how that could relate to our issue.

Heel varus is a part of clubfoot but is corrected in the process of the Ponseti Method. However, Laura's left foot was not cooperating, even for Dr. Ponseti, and it struck me that perhaps she might be relapsing. Could it be that simple? Note that I use that term loosely because we're talking about Laura but could it really be that simple? Could some casting and returning her feet to the Mitchell's for night and naps really do it? Really? As my mind chewed on the possibility of surgery in about a year or so that would forever impact Laura's ability to have pain free feet when she's thirty, I just felt we needed to pursue every possibility.

Yesterday I wrote another letter to Dr. Ponseti and enclosed a few pictures. He replied today that her feet were indeed in relapse and that putting her back in the shoes was necessary. So we will do as he asks. Meanwhile, it seems that the meeting for the fitting of that AFO has been pushed back to the end of October and beyond. Could it be that the Lord is trying to tell us something? Could it be that she doesn't need them at all? I guess in the long run we shall see. Meanwhile we will be praying for provision as traveling to Iowa seems to be a given at least twice in the coming months (if our previous experience tells us anything) and three or four times wouldn't be out of the question. Between our tight budget, medical expenses, gas prices, homeschooling and such, the Lord hand is needed to set everything in place for us.

If you could pray for us in this matter I would be very grateful. Wisdom, provision, listening ears and a willing heart to do whatever the Lord directs would be my requests. If you have knowledge of something else we need, please feel free to pray for that as well. I'll do my best to keep you updated as we go through this new journey. Meanwhile, here are Laura's feet this week. Prayer for the Lord to straighten them miraculously wouldn't hurt, either. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jonathan's First Composition of the School Year

Jonathan had to write a composition that took a journal entry and expanded it. First he learned what a journal entry is and then he chose a topic to write about. Through the lessons he expanded his writing, learning to use more descriptive words. He even stuck a simile in there! It was touch and go for awhile and I was sure this wasn't going to be one of his best efforts, but he came through in the end. I'm very proud of his tenacity. :)

Here's "Murphy" for your enjoyment.

Have you ever had a dog? Do you want one? I have one and his name is Murphy. He’s a white bichon frise and he’s seven years old in human years. That makes him 49 years old in dog years, but he doesn’t act like it!

Murphy is very fun and energetic. He likes to fetch balls, toys and bones. I often play tug of war with him and when he gets tired, he quits. Sometimes I quit first. Especially when Murph won’t let me have the toy, or my arm gets tired. I have to chase him whenever he steals my socks. He’ll even steal my stuffed animals and he’s chewed a few of my Legos. He’s always full of energy.

Murphy is cute and funny. Whenever he begs, his eyes get big and his mouth puckers up. He also tilts his head trying to look sweet so he’ll get fed people food. He usually gets a fried egg in the morning, but if it is runny he won’t eat it. Bichons like to blitz and Murphy always blitzes around the house at night. It’s almost like watching lightning flash across the floor.

I consider Murphy a part of my family. When I come home, he greets me with a wagging tail and I know he’s thrilled to see me at home. I take him for walks because I care about him and I don’t want him to poop on the floor. Murphy is always there for me. He’ll play with me, cuddle with me, and make me laugh when I’m sad.

Murphy is my dog and he’s a really magnificent pet. I’m glad he’s mine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why Is It That... only realize that your three year old daughter might be doing something she shouldn't when it is too quiet? Can they not make messes that involve noise at least once in awhile? Oh wait, the tinkling of the water splashing in the toilet makes noise. Never mind. find rotten veggies that got lost in the back of the frig the day after garbage pick up? can operate under the illusion that you have managed to get relatively organized for only so long before the reality of how disorganized you are rears its ugly head? ' only realize you are out of children's ibuprofen five minutes after the drug store just down the street closes?

...your need to get sleep is always inversely related to your children's need for sleep on any given day?

...your desire to do something 'fun' only hits you on the days the laundry has reached the desperate point and MUST be done? Hmmm... that kind of flies in the face of thinking you have managed to get relatively organized, doesn't it? LOL

...your teenager can look you straight in the face and honestly tell you he doesn't remember why he made such a stupid decision yet he can quote movie lines, lyrics and commercials he's only seen or heard once?

...your to do list grows exponentially while the time you have to accomplish it shrinks even more rapidly as the holidays grow near?

...your alarm clock goes off just moments after you've drifted off to sleep? Oh wait, I'm a parent. That goes with the territory. Never mind this one, either. :)

...parents will tell me how much they admire me for schooling my children at home,think it is a great idea, and realize their child would probably benefit from it but choose not to spend their time doing it? Makes no sense to me.

...your child can look at you with all of the love they can muster, tell you how beautiful you are and just how much they love and appreciate all that you do for them and then look incredulous as soon as you ask them what it is that they are feeling guilty about at that moment?

What a Wonderful World

The boys and I are reading through the New Testament one chapter at a time. At the moment we're reading through Sermon on the Mount and discussing it as we go. I am amazed at what they've learned from it long before we took the time to read it together. I am also quietly amazed at what they don't understand. I guess you could say I'm getting a pat on the back and a kick in the bucket at the same time. I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that we're studying it now and will continue to do so, and I am doing my best for now.

On Monday our discussion encompassed not only the Sermon on the Mount but took in some conversations about creation, why God made us, and how he made so many things for us to just enjoy. Because he loves us. It was a 'feel good' day and their prayers that morning were evident that they were very thankful for some specifics in the world the Lord had made. Score one for Mom and Mondays. :)

This afternoon the topic came up once again, but in a way that I'd never, ever guess. While having another discussion about why they don't have access to youtube unless I'm the one clicking, we looked up a few things to watch. I thought it was important to show them that no matter how innocent a title might seem, people have a knack for making it unacceptable. Even christian musicians don't have control over what people do with their music as they express themselves through homemade videos set to their expressions of faith in the Lord. And they saw evidence of that today. It was a sad moment for them both. I think they will wrestle for awhile with the concept of someone taking Christian music and making a video that goes against everything said in the lyrics. And it reaffirmed my commitment to keep praying the Lord's protection over them and doing my best to guard them from what Satan wants to make acceptable.

In order to wrap up our impromptu exploration with something positive we looked up the Jesus paintings. There are several, and all show some wonderful talent. I encourage you to look them up. Although Matthew and I had seen them before, Jonathan was seeing them for the first time and he was impressed. Not wanting to be outdone by his brother, Jonathan asked me to look up the hand shadow videos he and I had watched a few weeks ago. We sat for a few moments enjoying those, too. One is set to music, and is my favorite, so I saved that for last. As it finished Matthew asked me who sung the song. I shared with him that it had been initially done by Louis Armstrong, a great jazz musician. I gave them both some quick facts about his life and shared that his soothing voice was one of my favorites.

Both of them were quiet for a moment and then Matthew said "Mom, I think Louis Armstrong must have been a Christian. After all, this song is just thanking the Lord for what he made that we can enjoy." As I gave them both a hug and quietly thanked the Lord for giving me this time to be at home with them, I told them that I didn't know much about his personal life but I'm very thankful for his music.

Here are they lyrics that have inspired me many times, and gave pause to Matthew today. After all, the Lord gave us such a wonderful world.
What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jonathan Is in the Double Digits!!!

Yes, it is true. My Cutie Toots is 10. TEN! Ten years old. Where did the time go? Where is that sweet little two year old who followed is brother around, thriving on the attention he tossed him between school and friends? Where is that precious four year old who would do anything to help us whenever he thought we were stressed about something? Where is that understanding six year old who tried is hardest to just be there for you? To cuddle up with you when you needed a warm body with nothing but unconditional love to offer? Where is that eight year old who worked hard to overcome his inability to lose gracefully and became the best person in the house to play games with when you needed a laugh? Where, oh where, did he go???

Oh yeah, he's right here. Still the same sweet, precious, understanding, fun son that he always was. Only he's even more so now. There is no one better to have a quick game or two of Blitz with when you need a break. And I can't imagine working on a stitching project without his encouragement and squeals of pleasure as progress brings the design to life. Or even laying my head on the pillow without his goodnight kiss and hug. He is definitely one of the stablizing members of our family and I have always been thankful for him.

The Lord gave him to me in the midst of extreme sorrow. My David had just died and my arms felt empty, my heart was broken and I was wondering whether I really cared whether tomorrow ever came or not. And then the Lord sent Jonathan. He gave me a reason to take care of myself again. He brought smiles with my tears and he helped begin the healing process that will probably take a lifetime. He carries his brother's name and will forever be in my heart as the child the Lord sent just for me when I needed it the most. Just as I strongly believe Matthew is here for a reason that the Lord will use when it is time, Jonathan also will serve the Lord as he grows in to a strong, Christian man, husband and father. I can't wait to see how it all comes out, but I'm very willing to just enjoy each day as it comes.

Happy Birthday, my son. I love you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If you ask any parent how they want to raise their children, or perhaps what they hope to teach their children about life, or even what they want most for their children you'd get a wide variety of answers. Several times I've made lists of goals for my children. Things I'd like for them to learn, things I'd like for them to internalize and broad goals in areas like attitude and a close walk with the Lord frequent those lists along with finding a wonderful spouse, having a good marriage and so on. Over time some of the things on the list have changed but there are some things that remain year after year. In reviewing the lists I made from the time Matthew was young I discovered that I often put one thing over and over again towards the top of the list. I want them to develop a love of reading.

Books are important to me. Being surrounded by books makes me feel cozy, warm and enriched. I love to find a heroine I can identify with and read everything the writer wrote about them and then some. I love to get lost in a new book about far away places or new ideas, and I love the joy I find in finishing a book that just makes me feel good inside. Learning something new or just reviewing something I thought I remembered makes me feel vital and alive, and finding a new interest means I have a whole new section in the library to browse next week when we return to our favorite spot in the city once again. Yes, literacy is big around here and I keep praying that I will impart that to my children.

For Matthew, who struggles with reading sometimes, books are just beginning to be a place to get lost in. Jonathan reads with ease but so far hasn't discovered the joy of reading to himself just because it is fun. Laura, on the other hand, is already in love with books and can find tremendous joy in almost anything containing words. No, she can't read yet but oh how she loves those pictures! Sometimes it seems her main goal for the day is to get someone to sit down and read her a dozen or more books. Although I get tired of reading the same book over and over again, I discovered enough in our family stash that this rarely happens more than once or twice these days as she has a whole bookcase all to herself. And she revels in it.

A few weeks ago I realized it was just too quiet. Laura wasn't singing, laughing, trying to con her brothers in to taking her outside, or even pushing her dolly around in the stroller or carriage. Something had to be up and I feared that she was playing in places she didn't belong. I began searching quietly, hoping to catch her in the middle of something so I could have her help me clean it up. After being unsuccessful in all of her usual places I called her name. I was rewarded with "I'm in here, Mommy. Weading."

Sure enough, propped up in our living room/school room comfy chair, she was doing one of her Christmas seek and find books. She'd managed to find quite a few things in several scenes and was just enjoying the time by herself. It did my heart good to find her so engaged by books. The world is just waiting for her to discover it. From 'Little House' books to the Bobbsey Twins, she's got a lot of territory ahead of her. And I can't wait to watch the joy of discover grow!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sand Crabs In The Making

What do two boys choose to do when they'd rather be doing anything but homeschooling on a wonderfully sunny, fall day? Why they head to the sandbox in the backyard, what else! Here is what I found when I headed out to herd them back in for a good book and some writing assignments. I think today's journal entry is a given. :)

Matthew puts on the finishing touches... First the back,

And then the claws.

Matthew the Burier!

Needless to say, Jonathan is thrilled.

The 'crab' emerges...

Oh the places sand can be!!! LOL

And off to the shower they go! :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Breakfast At It's Best

Breakfast. Just the word can bring back many memories of my Dad in the kitchen, fixing our requested breakfasts so we could go off to school with our tummies full of healthy food so our brains would engage to help prepare us for our future as Doctors. Alas, I decided in the first semester of college that blood and I didn't get along, and Scott was much more interested in all things electronic than anything else, but the dreams of wonderful breakfasts have lived on. Here we often have eggs loaded with wonderful veggies, bacon or sausage, pancakes or french toast and even biscuits and gravy every now and then, although I buy it instead of making it like my Dad used to do. Yes, we do breakfast well here - even having it for dinner now and then. But somehow the boys aren't as thrilled as I was when I was younger. After all, they've grown up deprived.

Yes, you read that right. Deprived. Bereft. Devoid. Left wanting. My underprivileged boys haven't been able to enjoy what they think of as the quintessential breakfast very often. Indeed, the Poptart isn't around much. I daresay they weren't ever brought in to the house until they appeared as a bribe for Laura. And so their fate as legend in our house was sealed. They were the forbidden food. The boys were told they lacked an nutritional value whatsoever but that didn't deter them. They request them at every opportunity. In turn, they have become quite used to hearing "No". But that doesn't stop them. No, in fact I think it spurs them on.

It was quite by chance that they saw the rebate offer a few weeks ago. It seems we can receive a rebate of $10 for buying 10 items - one of which was the revered Poptarts. Oh how the begging started. And they played on my one gleeful talent - bargain hunting! They calculated how much it would really cost us if we got a dollar rebate for every box. They said they'd pay half of the remaining cost. They begged. They pleaded. They promised to only eat one at a time. (Yeah, like I believed that one!)And then, Fate dropped the final blow to my resolve in their hands. It would seem that Heinen's was having a sale. 10 boxes of Poptarts for $10. Yes, that's 10 for $10. Aside from the stamp, they'd be free! And they volunteered to pay for the stamp and bike the form over to the post office themselves. "How could I pass up free?" they said. How indeed. And so ten boxes of Poptarts entered the house. *sigh*

Here's how they enjoyed some of the first fruits of their labor... what can be better than a breakfast of poptarts and a game of mancala in front of Cyberchase? In their view, absolutely nothing. :)

Laboring on Labor Day?!?!?! Of Course!

It seems that for much of my life, Labor Day meant cleaning up the yard and fixing things up outside to prepare for what was sure to be another winner of a winter here in NEOH. Periodically, my parents would actually have a picnic or some such thing we'd attend, but alas it was always preceded by hours of laboring on the day that was set aside to celebrate laborers. I used to say that things would be different when I grew up. Yes, there are those who would say that I've never grown up but alas the rapid pace at which the flaming candles are growing on the birthday cake would hint otherwise. Okay, they sing it out loudly, very loudly, but we won't go there. It is enough to say that even though I used to think differently, I realize that a day devoted to the achievements of the American workers is ripe for laboring.

This year the laboring took place at my mother-in-laws house. She can no longer care for her yard much and generally has a service come in and do it. However, she asked if we could do it one last time before the season came to an end so we packed up the brood, laid down the "You're going to be happy or else" law (Yeah Dad, NOW I get that one!), packed a picnic lunch and headed up the road. Despite knowing where we were going from the very beginning, we answered the question "Where are we going?" from Laura umpteen times, reviewed what day it was ad nauseum, and prayed that we'd get there sooner rather than later.

Upon arrival, we set right to work. Matthew trimmed the front row of hedges all by himself. I was so proud of him. He's learned a lot this summer. He was a bit frustrated that the battery on the trimmer went out rather early in the process but when I assured him his muscles would benefit from the hand trimming, I didn't hear one more word of complaint. :)

Don and I headed for the back hedges and began the bulk of the trimming. True to form, his Mom came out numerous times to tell us we didn't have to trim them so straight, that we were working too hard and needed to rest (we'd only been at it for about 10 minutes the first time that occurred - it is a regular thing, trust me) and that we shouldn't worry about finishing it up today. When Matthew got wind of that comment he looked at me and said "OH, we're finishing today. I plan to jump in to Auntie Diane's pool for a reason knowing I'm done and don't have to come back!" That's my boy!!!

The laboring crew was blessed with what I like to call the 'Entertainer'. This individual, or periodically group of individuals, is assigned to 'keep Laura occupied'. Jonathan is a pro at this. He helped her rack, played tag and hide and seek, and went pinecone hunting with her. He also showed tremendous interest in helping her collect her 'fwowers' from the hedge to share with Grandma Jan. He's quite the Entertainer. He gets my vote every time.

Can you see Jonathan hiding in the bushes? :)

Laura LOVES flowers. She HATES bees...

After laboring, tracking down a repairman for Jan's broken frig, finding a place for her frozen food at the neighbors, and cleaning up our tools, we headed to Auntie Diane's for a good swim and a picnic dinner. It was a great day! I'm glad we all got to labor together. It's so much more fun that way!

Laura entering the pool for the first time. This was her favorite spot of the day.

Jonathan diving in!

Jonathan attempting to hit the boogie board.

Daddy watering Laura. I guess whatever works to help her grow, eh? :)

Laura and Auntie Diane go out for a spin.

Matthew hits the boogie board...

Several times!