Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Red Ruby Inn

Each time we head to St. Louis for an appt. with Dr. Dobbs, we feel like we have our very own 'Red Ruby Inn' waiting for us. My Nana, more commonly known as Ruby, is always so excited to see us that it erases any doubts I have about making The Red Ruby Inn our home for the night. She literally dances she's so happy we've come to visit. Even if only for the night. She gives Mom and I the best bed in the house, lets the boys sleep on her couches and makes us a wonderfully warm dinner to welcome us and our grumbling tummies.

Here are a few pictures of our last visit. You can tell that we feel right at home, too.

Jonathan, resting on the couch while playing gameboy and watching the weather forecast.

Matthew, entertaining Laura who is really far too tired to still be awake.

Mom and Nana having a chat about our blog. Since Nana doesn't have a computer, Mom prints out each entry and sends them to her so she can enjoy them, too. This time she hand delivered them.

And our final picture before we drive off in to the sunrise once again. Nana's house will return to normal and she'll already be looking forward to the next time we come. Six weeks, Nana. We'll be back in six weeks! :)

Thief In The Night, Or At Least The Evening...

After returning from our afternoon with Dr. Dobbs, we settled in to Nana's apartment for the evening. My Aunt Carol and Charles came over for dinner since they usually take Nana out on Thursdays, and Nana made my favorite soup. We ate together and visited for awhile, catching up on family fun. Then Carol and Charles left us to rest as we'd been up since 2 AM their time and we were tired.

While Mom, Nana and Carol were cleaning up I decided to give Don a call and catch him up on what had happened earlier in the day and let him know when we planned to arrive home the next day. When I arrived in our bedroom, the boys were already spread out on my bed playing their gameboys. I sat down to call Don and was soon joined by Laura, looking for something to do. When Carol and Charles were ready to leave, the boys laid down their gameboys and followed me out to say goodbye leaving Laura to her own devices. And she wasted no time.

Here's what I found when we returned:

Wait! What is that I see??? Could that be Laura under the end of the bed? What is that she's doing?

Ah yes! I see now... she's got the boys gameboys. Both of them! I think she wants to win no matter what the cost. Including harassment by her brothers! LOL

The boys took it very well. :)

She's Cast Free!!!

On January 24th and beginning at 5 AM, we trekked across our great land, through the snow and snain, waiting patiently while an accident was cleared off the highway, past the Candle Factory Outlet Store, by all of the signs directing us to Abe Lincoln's birthplace and right to St. Louis Shriner's front door. I felt some relief at arriving on time, but the question of what was to follow made me a bit nervous.

Laura was fully expecting to have her casts removed and new ones put on. I was fully expecting to walk out cast free but knew that reality might fall some where in the middle. At the very least, I expected talk of an AFO to come up. Or even a mandate to wear her SMO's all of the time, long after Laura would have felt the need for them.

Laura did her usual fussing as they sawed off her casts. Then I spent some time massaging her legs and cleaning them, just in case they decided she'd need more casts. And we had her feet photographed so they had some documentation of her progress at that time. We even got to visit with Shannon, her hubby and Ava, her daughter, who was being cast that day to recorrect one foot. Laura visited with Ava and spent some time coloring while we waited to see Dr. Dobbs. When it was our turn, Laura walked back across the cast room with Dr. Dobbs watching from the side and Mommy silently praying for a cast free return home.

And it seems all is well!!! Laura returned home cast free, with a directive to return in a month or so for a check up. Meanwhile, we're to use her FAB 12 - 14 hours a day which means just for nights and naps for her. We can also use the SMO's as we see fit and he thinks they are a good idea to keep her feet from rolling over too much as they have a tendency to do. But most of all, he said he thinks she looks great. And she does! The Lord answered our prayers and her foot looks wonderful. Even Merri Jo, her PT, says it is better than she's ever seen it. I am so thankful for good Drs who are willing to try casting on older children instead of heading right to surgery. Dr. Dobbs has earned our respect, our friendship and our admiration as he worked with us over the past four months to see that she's able to walk correctly without further surgery.

Here's a comparison of how her foot has progressed.

Our initial picture sent to Dr. Dobbs in September of 2007:

Here's how her foot looked at the end of the first series of casting. We were thrilled with the progress but things still weren't completely corrected. Her tendency to slop over and roll was still very strong and we wondered if it could ever really be corrected.

Here are Laura's feet today. Notice how straight her heel is!!! And it still looks that way today!

Boys! Boys! I Fawted!

Just look at those faces. Faces of (relative) innocence. Faces that say 'we're well taken care of and we know we are loved'. Faces that show the joy of living in a household where the family is one of the most important things. Faces that remind you that, in this house, testosterone lives on. But I don't need to look at the picture to remind me of that. No, Laura does that on a regular basis. And she doesn't just remind me, she shares that with everyone else she spends time with, too.

Let me remind you that Laura has had a fundo/nissen. Her esophagus has been closed off and is now just a one way valve. Stuff can go in that way, but it can't come back out. Her only relief is to let whatever she swallows, and whatever might develop from whatever she swallows, to work its way through her digestive tract and out the other end. When she was an infant, this meant that she had a lot of clothing that never became stained from 'baby urps'. What it means as a preschooler living with two much older brothers just learning to deal with their surging testosterone is a whole different ballgame.

Imagine with me if you will a quiet, peaceful afternoon. Lunch has been eaten and put away and everyone is doing something quiet as we attempt to get Laura ready for her nap. Matthew is working on an assignment at his computer in the dining room. Jonathan is sprawled on the couch, novel in hand, reading away. Laura is in the family room watching Caillou as she finished her lunch. Yes, it is a wonderful, serene time, isn't it?

And then... from the family room comes "Boys! Boys! I fawted!" said in a very proud and cheery voice, followed by little girls laughter and giggles. The boys, of course impressed with her endeavors almost as much as she is, run in to offer her a few high-fives followed by cheers of "Yeah Laura!".

*sigh* At least her favorite color is still pink...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Faith Of A Child

In our efforts to get out of the house at "O'dark hundred" tomorrow, more commonly known as 4:30 AM, I am packing so Don can pack the car when he gets home tonight. In theory, then all we'll need to do is throw our suitcase and the cooler in the car and we're off. Reality is a whole different ballgame. But as you know I like to dream big.

I am planning to take an assortment of things for Dr. Dobbs to review with us - her night-night shoes, her SMO's, our favorite shoes to wear with them, and so on - and located a bag that I could carry in to the hospital to avoid dragging so much in with us in pieces. The philosophy of packing requires that you have the items you'd like to pack physically at hand and ready. It is there that my plan fell apart. I needed Laura's night-night shoes and I couldn't find them anywhere. I even *gasp* cleaned up her toys in her room thinking it might have gotten buried. Yes, I know. *hanging head* You thought I'd have it more together given my excitement at saying goodbye to the casts once again. But you would be wrong. So what's a Mom to do when she's stressed, tired already and facing a 1200 mile drive in two days complete with Dr office visit and staying up with relatives far too long? I sat down and cried.

In the midst of my imagining all sorts of things about how long it would take us to get another pair, how in the world we'd pay for them, and how we'd have to wait in casts while they came, Jonathan bounced down the stairs to find me crying in my muddled, stressed state. He very softly put his hands on my shoulders and said "Mom, are you okay?" and then he knelt to hug me. I sobbed that I couldn't find her shoes and I was very stressed. He said "It's okay, Mom. The Lord will help us. We can find them, can't we? He'll tell us where they are." I sobbed a few more good ones knowing he was right but trying very hard to figure out why I couldn't have thought that in the first place.

He calmly took my hand and Laura's, formed a circle and started to pray. His prayer was so simple and yet so powerful. He said it just perfectly. And then he hugged me, laid out a plan and headed to his appointed spot to start looking. On the way, Laura said "when you find it be sure to yell so we know!" and off she went, too. Almost immediately Jonathan yelled "I found them! I FOUND THEM!" And indeed he had. Right where I'd looked several times before that. Right where I thought I'd left them.

How simple the faith of a child can be. He knew that the Lord would help, he asked and then he expected a positive result. It is nice to know that I am still learning from my children. I hope he keeps teaching me this lesson until I learn it - and learn it well. :)

Free Rice And Educational Fun All In One

My son and I just spent 30 minutes expanding our vocabulary and having fun while donating rice to those who are hungry all at the same time. If you've never seen the website, please visit. If you have, try to better your last vocabulary level and give some food to those in need while having fun. I can't think of a better way to spend a few minutes each morning kibitzing with my son over what something might mean. He learned a few things this morning and so did I. After all, who knew that kracken meant 'sea monster'???

For the record, our best score so far is level 43 and we donated 2000 grains this morning. I am sure Jonathan and I will enjoy donating much more in the coming weeks.

To try it for yourself, click on the logo above or go here. And let us know how you are doing. Can you get to a higher level than we did?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to St. Louis We Go

As I finish up the laundry and begin packing once again for our two day blitz to St. Louis, I find that the prospect of taking the casts off makes me absolutely giddy. I realize that there is the possibility that he'll put another set on but that is a very small possibility. The greater possibility is that he'll take them off and tell us that there are more issues than casting can tackle and we have to head in a different direction for a more permanent fix. But whatever the outcome, I just can't wait to have them gone.

Gone. Off. No more hot pink legs. I just can't wait.

I can't wait to give her a bath. To know that she's all clean from her head down to her toes. I can't wait to know that when she gets food in her hair, I can wash it out that night in the shower. Or to put on pants that don't have to have legs wide enough to stretch over those bulky casts. Or that are long enough not to ride up them as she struts around the house. I can't wait to be able to put her on the potty without worrying that her casts are cutting the seat up and giving germs another place to hide. Or to know that her pull ups aren't being torn by the casts as we pull them up and down over those suckers. I can't wait to have her climb the stairs all by herself again, knowing she can do it alone. Or to have her put on her pants again because she can bend her knees as needed. Or to be able to walk next to the shopping cart instead of in the back of it because her casts are too big to get her in the seat. And I can't wait to put shoes on her feet. Real shoes. Shoes that fit and that match better than her constant tube sock companions at the moment.

Yes, the casts are a pain when you are three, going on four. And while I know that we're doing the best we know how to do to help her, I'll be glad to see them gone again. At least for awhile.

And while I'm dreaming of cast-free legs, I'm also praying that they've done what they were supposed to do and the Lord healed her through them. Please Lord. Heal her. Today.

"Scud Missiles"

I have long held the opinion that all men, upon marrying the love of their life, should have just one really obnoxious cycle every few years or so in order to fully be able to understand what we go through on a monthly basis due to our wonderful hormonal make up. After all, in order to truly understand what someone is going through, you need to experience it yourself, right? And if just a few powerful men were to endure the joys of endometriosis, just think how much different sick leave would be in the corporate world. I've long believed that men just didn't understand, and in general aren't really willing to figure it all out. Or so I thought. Then I married Don.

Don is a wonderfully understanding man. It never seems to phase him when I have a more difficult month now and then. He just takes care of me as best he can, making sure the household continues to run in my half-absence. He plugs in the heat pad without being asked and he'll run to the store on a moments notice, knowing I am usually prepared so it must be bad if I'm caught without. However, the first few times he went meant extensive training before he entered the store. No, it wasn't that he didn't want to go shopping in the female aisle. He was very willing to do whatever I needed him to do. It was more a lack of knowledge. As if he'd never seen them before. And honestly, he hadn't.

I learned early in our marriage that the open household I'd grown up in where any question was fair game and there was a lot of open talk about the joys of being male or female between us in order to help prepare us for lives away from home, was not the same place he'd been raised. He'd been raised in a more private home where he wasn't exposed to such minor, yet important, information. He'd never seen any female needs up close and personal, and really wasn't sure how one was used, let alone what might be the difference between a panty liner and an overnight pad. And tampax... that was a real mystery to him. I determined then that over time the boys and Laura would grow up in the more open environment. They'd be taught how their body worked and how the opposite gender's did as well. And I began to look for casual opportunities to bring up the subject as they grew older as well as incorporating a biblically based educational program in to our homeschool day.

A few years ago, just after the war in Iraq had been declared a victory and scud missiles became less of a constant refrain in the news, I came across a story written by another Mom with some rather inventive sons living in her house. And on that same day I happened across my boys knee deep in army men set up across the playroom, fighting their very own 'Halfghanistand' military action. So, since we often share jokes and it seemed to fit in with their play at that moment, I shared it with them. Little did I know it would singlehandedly change how we refer to female needs in our household. Now, tampax are referred to as 'scud missiles' and that time of the month is referred to as 'Mom's own little war zone'. Hmmmm... I was sure I didn't let PMS overtake me like that! :)

Here's the story we read several years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Where's the Tampax?
Ok, I'm the only female in a house full of guys: 4 sons and a hubby. Toilet seat never down, etc.-you get the picture. Therefore, I'm the only one who would be using Female products, correct?
A strange thing was happening at my house: tampons were disappearing.
*insert Twilight Zone theme*
It started a few months ago, when I went to my cupboard to get out a tampon and there was only one left. I could have sworn I had just bought a box the month before. So, I go back to the store, buy a new box and forget about it.
The next month (that time of month), I go back to the cupboard and viola! there is only one tampon left, again! What is going on here? Gremlins? Total memory failure?
I go to the store, buy another box and try to chalk it up to forgetfulness, but am really wondering, now.
Later in the month, I decide to clean out my two youngest sons' closet and, Low and Behold! at the bottom of their closet are the wrappers, applicators, and the tampon themselves!
Now I am starting to freak... Dear God, what are they doing with them?!!
I get hold of myself, tell myself that "I am an Adult" and can handle this-despite the bizarre thoughts running through my mind. Wondering, "Do I have enough money saved up in the bank for MAJOR THERAPY?"
I go to the stairs and yell to my two youngest sons to "Come Here, RIGHT NOW!!!"
With their usual lack of speed, they finally appear in their room to find me staring into the bottom of their closet.
I firmly, but with control, ask, "What are you doing with THOSE? Those are MINE!"
My 12 year old looks like a deer caught in the headlights and is silent.
My 10 year old looks at me, all innocent, and says, "Well, Mom, we were playing with our G.I. Joes and THOSE make really good SCUD missiles. What do YOU use them for?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Close Shave

Dealing with our children's growth seems to be one of the most difficult things for me. Yes, I want them to mature, grow up, and be able to do something without having to be told every little thing. On the other hand, growing up inevitably brings the increased probability of them doing more and more on their own, sometimes in places and ways we'd rather not see them going. We want them to stay our wonderful children forever and at the same time we want them to grow up and be able to take care of themselves. We want them to be the innocent, playful kids we love spending time with and at the same time we want them to experience the freedom that comes from taking responsibility for themselves and the joy that comes from accomplishments beyond making their beds every day. Ah the complexities of parenting...

Over the past few months I've watched my wonderful Matthew become more and more a 'Man' and less and less the child. He began working out several times a week so his body has begun to look much more grown up. He has taken on more and more responsibilities around the house without complaining and is actually more of a team member than someone who needs coached. He is beginning to get the subtleties of when to be quiet and when it is okay to correct his younger siblings, and he contributes to the family planning sessions in a much more active role instead of the constant complainer wondering when all of the work will be done so he can play. And I think he's actually getting the whole 'get the work done so you have the rest of the day to play' thing down pat. And this weekend, he decided it was time to shave.

Shaving. A rite of passage that I am quite sure I wasn't prepared for. Couldn't even imagine just a few short years ago when he used to play at shaving along with Poppy in the mirror. Oh, back then it was cute. His little 2 year old body sitting between the two sinks on the bathroom counter, his face covered in shaving cream, his play razor removing it stroke by stroke just like Poppy. This past weekend it was no longer a game. He stood next to Poppy behind the second sink in the bathroom, carefully covering his face with shaving cream, grasping a real razor in his hand, intently watching Poppy as he instructed him on the finer points of shaving for the first time.

When I saw his freshly shaved face several hours later it brought back to me one more time that I'm not the only one struggling with this dichotomy of growth. I'm not the only one crying for the loss of the little boy and marveling at the wonderful Man my son is becoming. No, I'm not alone. In that freshly shaved face I realize that he's right there with me. He's discovering the joy of growing up and doing things you only dream about when you are young. He realizes he has the world at is feet and he must make his choices much more carefully than he did when he was younger because we won't always be there to fix his mistakes for him. He can do and achieve anything he sets his mind to. And yet, in order to accomplish all of that he must let go of the child within. He will spend some of the next few years intentionally letting the young boy within him go so he can grow in new directions, stopping the desires he's comfortable with to reach out to bigger and better things for himself and his siblings as he leads the way. Quietly crying now and then as he realizes you can't go back. Yes, he's right there with me. And I'm so very proud of him.

My baby is growing up. But his Mom and Dad, and his Honey and Poppy will always be here for him. We'll always love him unconditionally and be cheering for him from the sidelines. And he'll always have a safe place to come to when he needs it most. I'll be waiting here. With open arms, a warm cookie and a cold glass of milk. And he'll once again be able to dream bigger dreams, build bigger machines and try on bigger ideas. After all, you can do anything in life when you have roots to lovingly hold you and wings to fly.

Jonathan! You Have An Altitude!!!

Yes, you read that right. Jonathan has an 'altitude'. Regularly. Especially lately. He takes on an attitude, er altitude, whenever he wants to one up his brother. I'm assuming that lately that's because his brother seems to be accepting more and more responsibility around the house and doing more and more to help, so Jonathan is feeling a bit left out. As in not a contributing team member. So you ask, why doesn't he just pitch in and join the team??? Ah, the questions we ask as parents, eh?

So... Jonathan's 'altitude'. *sigh* It would seem that I can hear myself saying "Jonathan. Your attitude is not helpful, uplifting or decent. Please don't say another word until it is." And then, because he must have a hearing problem, that phrase is usually closely followed by "Jonathan. You have an attitude that you need to let go. Not another word." And as you can imagine, I can repeat that over and over again until he does keep his mouth shut or change his attitude. I find that repeating it while walking him to a time out spot away from everyone else and his precious legos/bionicles can have amazing results.

But lately, I've discovered the power of peer pressure. Even if the peer is only three feet tall, it still works wonders. From the kitchen I can hear Laura's indignant voice say "Jonathan! You have an altitude! You need to change it!" at least two or three times a day. It is usually followed by "You have an altitude!" several more times along with some voice raising from the intended altitude dude. I've learned that should I hear it more than two or three times, my appearance would be a good idea before something more happens. And, at this point anyway, that usually does the trick. Jonathan changes his 'altitude', Laura quiets down knowing she's successfully been in charge if only for a moment, and life returns to its normal, relatively quiet din.

Yes, 'altitudes' can grow around here if left unattended. Periodic reminders are necessary for all of us so we can truly live by the Lord's directive in Deuteronomy 6 - Do what is right in the Lord's sight, so that it may go well with you. Snotty, know-it-all, tattletail, one-up-manship 'altitudes' aren't included in that directive. Isn't it amazing what Laura's learning at 3 years of age? Now, if only she'd remember it when it is her 'altitude' that needs some adjustment!!! Yes, I know. I dream big. But then that's how I came to find myself home with all of them in the first place. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another St. Louis Drive By

This past weekend we drove back to St. Louis, spent a wonderful evening with Nana, Uncle Mick and Aunt Nancy, and then headed in on Monday morning to see Dr. Dobbs. They removed her first casts and then after he examined her, they put on another set. Dr. Dobbs believes this will be her last set of casts and he'll remove them next Thursday.

My opinion of Dr. Dobbs has not changed. He is a wonderfully understanding, competent, thorough Doc who listens to you and treats you as one of the partners in your child's care. I am hoping that we'll have some time next week to discuss her 'fat pad' which I think might really be fibrous tissue that seems to be preventing her foot from staying corrected. I'm also looking forward to bringing her home in her night-night shoes instead of another set of bright pink casts.

Laura handles it all so wonderfully. She didn't complain about her casts this time at all, and is as mobile as ever having started to walk on them while we were still at the hospital. She's a trooper and wonderfully resilient. I'm so proud of her!

Amazing Art

As a homeschooling Mom, there are moments. Yes, there are those moments(and we all know what those moments are, don't we? LOL), but there are also moments when you just want to do something so not on the agenda that it drives you nuts until you exit, stage left, to something totally new and different. The really cool thing about homeschooling is that we can. So we exited to a website devoted to artistic endeavors using murals.

The boys and I were amazed. Each tile of the mural is a different picture, but when all put together, you have a cohesive picture that tells a story. Included on this website was a picture of Noah's Ark made up of species of animals that are either extinct or endangered. There is also a precious picture of children and several others. And there are two works in progress that I could find. One is updated weekly. You should check it out here

Meanwhile, here is one that was particularly wonderful. The horse's eye amazed us. On the mural mosaic website you can click on each tile to see it up close. You will be amazed. I encourage you to check out this one, called "Trust" here on the website so you can click to see each tile, especially the horse's eye.

Friday, January 11, 2008


The picure is precious. The peace and gentle curiosity expressed just makes me smile. And then there's the fact that I love cats... :) I won't remind you of my opinion of deer. ;)

Tinkle, Tinkle Little Star...

I know that it doesn't take much to trip my trigger. Just ask my family. They claim to be embarrassed by me when I break out in song over little excitements - never mind that we're home alone. And they might tell you about how excited I can get over little things like having the dishes done and the kitchen cleaned up before everyone leaves it or even how big my smile is when they say something nice to each other after having a rather rough day. We won't even go in to the joy that exudes from my very pores when the laundry is caught up. But lately my trigger is tripped by something even more inconsequential to the bigger picture. I get excited by the sound of tinkles.

Tinkles you say? As in wind chimes? Or perhaps the crystals on the chandelier gently blowing in the wind? Uh no. Tinkles as in aiming for and actually hitting the potty. You know, that joyous sound that says progress is being made when little Princesses sit on the potty. There is nothing sweeter than knowing the sweet sound of tinkling means one less diaper you will have to buy/change/throw away. One less time you'll have to take her upstairs and continue the discussion about how important it is to lay down while changing a diaper - especially when wearing casts that don't allow you to balance. One more chance to hear the jingle of three M&M's in her little cup as a reward for keeping Dora's flowers alive a little longer.

I sit here, smiling contentedly. Just knowing that someday, hopefully someday soon, my little girl will truly become a 'big girl' in another very important sense of the word makes the day seem brighter. Those Barney and Princess undies might actually get worn before she outgrows them. And she'll have that wonderful sense of pride knowing she's accomplished something really wonderful all by herself.

Tinkle, Tinkle... Ah the sweet sound of success!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Are We Prepared?

Have you ever realized that you just aren't prepared for something? That you didn't plan on so many people showing up for a party so you run out of something everyone really likes? Or that you didn't get the laundry done in time to wear clean jeans when you needed to go out? Or even that you didn't pray for the right thing and you only realized that after the fact???

I like to think that I'm usually prepared for what might happen, especially when it comes to our regular visits to Dr. offices with Laura. I generally know what the outcome will be and have only been blindsided and gut-punched a few times. But yesterday, as I was praying for our upcoming trip to St. Louis for what I automatically assume will be a cast change, the thought occurred to me that I might need to take her night-night shoes/FAB along just in case. Just in case what? Hmmmm... I pondered that for a time.

I hit me that what I regularly do is pray for a miracle and then prepare for the worst case scenario. Now I'm not advocating that you don't think about what might happen because being prepared is part of being a good Mom. But what I am advocating is being prepared for the miracle, too. In my case that means not accepting simply that we're headed in to get Laura's casts changed, but to plan for the miracle we're praying for, too. In Mark 11:24 it says "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." It seems that while I'm praying for the miracle of straight feet and yet don't take her shoes with me, I must not be expecting the Lord to do it. I must pray and then ACT on that faith by preparing for the miracle. From now on, those shoes are going with us along with socks and whatever else we might need if she isn't cast clad as we travel home.

Such a simple concept, isn't it? Makes me wonder what else I'm praying for that I'm not really preparing for. What are my expectations in the rest of my life? What haven't I accepted as mine from the Lord and yet continue to pray for regularly?

Are you prepared for the best that the Lord has for you? Or have you settled for what you think is inevitable? Been there, done that. I'm thinking it is time I stop and move forward. Care to join me?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Saturday Morning Breakfasts

Breakfast has always been in important meal in my household. When I was young, there were times in our lives where breakfast was the best meal of the day. Since there were five of us in the house, we each got to choose our favorite breakfast one day a week. Then my Dad would produce it. We chose everything from simple oatmeal to eggs, biscuits and gravy. It was a wonderful time in our lives and I remember it fondly now, probably because I know what my Dad sacrificed to produce those breakfasts every morning while my brother and I were out delivering papers. As we got older, Carnation Instant Breakfast was the only thing we thought we had time for as we ran out of the house. I think my brother would have eaten hot dogs with cheese and popcorn every morning if he had the time to make it. And you can rest assured that I got the 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day' lecture from my Mom more times than I could count. As a result, I was not allowed to leave the house without it. And now no one in my household is allowed to leave the house without it either.

As the boys have grown and we've settled in to our homeschooling life, peanut butter sandwiches are the standard fare around here. However, once a week (or more if Daddy is on vacation) we have a 'big breakfast', usually called 'brunch' as it takes so long to get it on the table. Eggs made to order for each person, bacon, sausage, biscuits (and sometimes gravy) or pancakes, muffins and toast seem to be the standard. Lately the one of the boys has joined Don and I as we work to get everything on the table. It makes for a nice family time and they get to eat the fruits of their labor - something that makes it taste extra good.

This past Saturday, the first of the new year, found all of us in the kitchen at the same time. Matthew was washing the dishes left from the night before when we all opted to play instead of cleaning, and Jonathan made the pancakes with Don's help. I worked at the stove making bacon and eggs. It was a great start to our day and our year. Everyone enjoyed it so much that it seems we'll be making the 'everyone in the kitchen together' thing a regular affair. Score one for family togetherness!

January Clubfoot Updates

I so wish I didn't have to give updates but alas, it seems we're going to be in the updating business for awhile yet. This past December we enjoyed some time without casts, knowing that more were probably on the way. Sure enough, December 27th saw us adding the 'bright pink leg warmers' back in to our lives. Laura took it with grace and acceptance. Mommy and Daddy not so much. :) We know that we have several more ahead of us and that while Dr. Dobbs can put her foot back in to alignment so he knows that casting will work, keeping it all aligned in her difficult left foot is the challenge. I guess we'll just keep praying and wait to see what happens in February when her last casts come off this time.

I snapped some pictures about a week after her new ones were put on. As you can see, she has a full leg corrective cast on her left, difficult leg. She also has a half, maintenance cast on her right leg which makes mobility a much greater probability. She gets around just fine walking but has to keep moving in order to stay up straight. Balancing without holding on to something is difficult so that's why she balances against furniture when she's playing. She's even managed to go up and down the steps with this set of casts - a feat she's very proud of! Since Merri Jo can't work much on strengthening her feet and legs while they are in casts, she's working on strengthening her trunk muscles so perhaps she'll come out of this with that improvement as an extra blessing!

Meanwhile, I am preparing for at least an SMO on that foot meaning Laura will want one on both for that balance. Just before Christmas I discovered that See Kai Run shoes fit over her SMO's quite nicely. And I hear that crocs with the nylon stretch top fits nicely over them, too. While I wish she'd not have to wear anything, at least she can have some cute shoes anyway. If she has to wear an AFO, I'll be working through that one for awhile but this, too, shall pass.

I will continue to pray for our own little miracle. Please join me.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Look Mommy! Cows!!!

It would only make sense that when you hear such a statement, you'd be able to look over at the field next to the road you are driving down and see, well, cows. But then you probably aren't driving in the car with my daughter.

This morning while running late to church, Don pulled out of our development and headed towards church. Let me just say that again. Don pulled out of our development, as in typical 'burbs development, and headed towards church. 'Burbs. As in no agricultural barns/animals/fields/whatever close by. We are used to seeing the occasional dog, cat, bird, squirrel, and even deer, but not cows. Not here. Not ever.

So when Laura yelled "Look Mommy! Cows!" just as we turned out of the development my mind had a hard time wrapping around it all. Cows? Here? Uhhhh, no. I glanced over to see the current objects of her affection and was greeted by a whole field of... geese! Poor Laura. She was trying so hard but alas had only found the local gathering of geese. Obnoxious things, those geese. They don't like people much but they tend to leave their um... calling card wherever they go. And that includes every parking lot in the area. But I don't think Laura's incorrect identification phased her.

But oh how it phased the boys. You can just imagine what kinds of conversations boys who are 10 and 14 can have about flying cows... *sigh*

Friday, January 04, 2008

Christmas Day Fun

Our families all gathered throughout the day to share one of the best days of the year with us. We also had three dogs here that day of varying sizes and amazingly, they all got along just fine. Murphy was joined once again by Diane's new puppy, Libby, and then Scott and Brenda arrived with Senta, a very docile german shepherd, who was just a wonderful addition to the fun. Senta is very attached to Brenda and barely left her side. Libby, on the other hand, was exploring to her hearts content and enjoying everyone as she went. Murphy played it safe and just kept to himself unless encouraged by someone else to join in. Smart dog, that one. :)

Here are some pictures taken that day. This one shows the joy Diane felt when the kids gave her their picture on a mousepad for her office. She just loved it! Of course this came after the calendar Mom gave her of pictures taken throughout the year last year. I loved how much she thought of the gifts we'd made just for her.

This one is of Grandma Jan opening the sweater we bought for her. Diane loved it too, so we must have chosen well. :)

Somehow we managed to get all three dogs in this picture. You'll find Senta hiding behind Brenda on the chair, Murphy the middle of the whole thing and Libby on Matthew's lap down in the front of the picture. And of course Mikayla and Jarryd just enjoying being together and playing with Jarryd's new toy. :)

Directionally Challenged For Centuries?

I've often wondered how marriage relationships have changed over the years. Yes, I know that a woman's role has changed quite a bit in the past 50 years or so. No, I am not sure that's all good. But none the less, one thing doesn't seem to have changed much at all - men are directionally challenged. And apparently they've been that way for centuries.

Yes, centuries. Think about it. Cain was the first to wonder aimlessly, forced to go in circles without direction, initially because the Lord banished him. It must have continued until he found his wife who then helped him find his way as best she could given the circumstances. And Moses wondered for many years before he finally found the promised land. Just think of how much more quickly he'd have gotten there if there had been somewhere to stop and ask for directions! :) Or perhaps if he'd just asked his wife. :):) Or Noah... he was stuck on that boat for almost a year waiting for it to settle and then for the land to dry before he left the comforts of home. Personally, I imagine his wife wanted out of there much sooner but she was obedient and waited. I think more women could learn from her these days but that's a whole other subject.

Even Laura notices this penchant for men to be directionally challenged. Just the other day, after finishing her "Suuuuper Waura" stint, she took her cape, pulled it over her head, grabbed her 'Baby Jesus' and started to escape as they had been directed. But alas, she was missing something. So she wondered around the house calling "Joseph! Where are you? I need you!" over and over again. Apparently she was ready to go but her pretend hubby was still trying to find the map. :)

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! NO! It's Suuuuuper Waura!

The other day Laura found, and talked her brothers in to helping her get in to, a cape we have that went with a pair of pj's at some point in the boys young life. This red cape has been many things but Laura brought it full circle again. She went running through the house saying "It's a bird! It's a plane! NO! It's Suuuuuuper Waura!!!" over and over again. Cracked me up.