Monday, March 31, 2008

No More Naps! Unless...

Several months ago Laura decided that napping wasn't in her schedule. They were just wasted time to her. Time when she could be doing oh so much more. Time when there were worlds to conquer, books to read, games to play, and brothers to annoy. No, naps were just in her way. And she couldn't be persuaded otherwise - especially after moving to her 'big girl bed' where bars no longer impeded her escape.


I will be the first to admit that I miss it. Totally. Not only will there be no more napping children in my life, but there will be no more naps until I'm old enough to be taking them myself. Naps were the best time for catching up on school work with the boys, writing a note to a friend, or just reading a good book uninterrupted. Naps were the perfect time to daydream a little, write up a list, or plan the next grocery shopping trip without excess scribbles on it from a 'helper'. Yes, naps were fabulous. But they are no more.


Perhaps now and then it still might be okay. When the mood is just right, the day is cloudy and you are stuck indoors with Daddy, perhaps a nap is just the ticket. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Of Teens and Preschoolers

Last night as Matthew returned from youth group, he dropped his coat on the hall tree, grabbed a drink, bounded up the stairs and in to our room where he declares "Mom, tomorrow I have to look for a job." My stunned brain could not wrap itself around that declaration quickly enough to respond with anything but "after you finish your school work" as he bounded back out of our room. After he left it seemed like hours passed before I could pry my fingers off of the book I had been reading, force my eyes to blink at least once, and return my jaw to its normal, upright position. And then, instead of thinking about how wonderful it was that he finally was going to start taking some responsibility for his own success, I began to wonder what he was up to.

Could it be that he needed some money to pay off the skateboard bookie apparently running numbers on ollies around the corner from church? No, it couldn't be that. Hmmm... maybe he was so inspired by the message from his cell leader that he had dedicated his remaining teen years to missions giving and wanted to get started right away. Uh, no. I'm not sure that Matthew consciously realizes there is a world beyond his own most of the time even though we are constantly reminding him. Hmmm... Perhaps he had an intense meeting with the Lord and was planning to get responsible in record time. Nah. I'd have been able to tell that by his demeanor, wouldn't I? There must be something he wanted to buy that he didn't think he could ask us to get for him and I'm sure I spent much of my restless sleep last night trying to figure out what that might be.

This morning the house was relatively quiet until after 8. We'd all gotten to bed late so I let them enjoy an extra hour of sleep. Soon, however, even their bodies knew it was time to get up and they wondered down for breakfast. It took every ounce of my being to wait patiently for Matthew to expound on his desires just 12 hours earlier. I didn't have long to wait. Before I knew it, I was listening to all of the wonderful things he'd achieved skateboarding before and after services the night before. At first I thought he was imagining the need for a new board. That made sense and he knew we were done buying them. But no, that didn't seem to be it. After all, he was talking about modifying the one he'd gotten for his birthday last year. Perhaps he wanted to buy a half or quarter pipe and I began thinking of all of the reasons why one didn't need to 'live' in our back yard. But no. That wasn't it either.

As Matthew talked, Laura had stopped her "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" dance routine as she became enthralled with his exciting stories of moves and tricks he accomplished the night before. She climbed up on my lap, silently willing Matthew's success at each trick he explained with every ounce of her little being. It wasn't long before he said "So Mom, I need a new helmet." Ah, the answer. A simple helmet. We'd be willing to get that as it was for his safety. Hey! Wait a minute! Didn't we already have a helmet that HE picked out and now adamantly refused to wear because it is *gasp* stupid?!?!?! Surely that helmet would work just fine. Surely he could wear it now. Matthew, ever watchful and apparently becoming much better at anticipating his parents response, waited for my mouth to begin opening to declare his ownership of a perfectly good helmet before he jumped in with "Really, Mom. It's too small. I need a new one. Before next week."

Immediately my aging mind started flipping through all of the responses I could give at the moment, weighting them in such categories as 'logical to adults but not teens', 'worth stating even if he isn't listening', 'not worth the long term arguments that will ensue' and so on. In my quiet yet quick contemplation, I happened to notice that Laura's head had come up from my shoulder and was now trained on my face. Could she, even as a budding four year old understand the dynamics of our conversation? Surely not! But, oh how wrong I was. Almost as quickly as the silence had entered the conversation, Matthew chose to attempt to make his point must one more time. "Really Mom. It's too small. My head has grown. I NEED a new helmet."

My eyes began making the journey from off in space, past Laura's face and up to Matthew's. But I never got past Laura's face. As his words hit her, she looked up at me, rolled her eyes, sighed and shook her head. Yes, even she understood the argument for what it was. And didn't hesitate to express her thoughts. The tension coming from Matthew was growing. I could choose to make matters worse and address his comments or I could relieve the tension by sharing Laura's response with him. I chose the latter. Yes, we all laughed. Yes, I'm sure Laura will do that again now that she's had tremendous reinforcement. No, the issue of a new helmet didn't get past that final plea. Will it be revisited again soon? Probably. Will it come out differently? Probably. But one thing is certain. Laura has teenage logic all figured out.

I can only hope that as those preteen and teenage hormones sweep through her in a few years, all of this wisdom will be swept right out of her system. If it's not, we're going to be dealing with a much more intelligent teen and I don't relish that one iota. Meanwhile, I'll start pricing helmets. Who knows. Maybe I'll get that garden weeded early this year. Yes! Love and logic can come in soooo handy, can't it? :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Forever Easter Eggs

In the year before Don and I married, his office held a contest to see who could produce the best decorated Easter Egg. Being the crafty person that I am, and of course wanting to impress him, I looked up some unique ways to decorate eggs and found a method that in essence decoupaged pretty paper on to an egg shape. I purchased an egg from the craft store and picked out some pretty tissue paper as well as some scrapbooking pages and what I think they called chinese paper, and brought it all home. Don chose what he wanted me to use and I attempted the first of what would turn out to be many Forever Easter Eggs. The process is simple and they turn out beautifully. Needless to say, he won the contest that year. Since then I've taught several others how to make them and created this basket while doing crafts with a neighbor girl one summer to keep her busy. I'll try to post the instructions soon. Meanwhile, here's a not so great close up of the eggs themselves.

Our FAB - The Mitchell Shoes on Shriners Version of a Dobbs Articulating Brace

Here is the version of FAB that Laura is currently wearing. We love the Mitchell shoes and have always used them. When we started treatment with Dr. Dobbs, he introduced us to the articulating bar. Laura loves that and honestly, so do I. It works for her and I'm very thankful she can use it effectively. I've included several pictures of the FAB and then some pictures of her in the bar, standing and then crawling in it. The picture at the top is Laura in her sleep sack. Her feet can fit up in it, but she prefers to wear it with her feet stuck in the foot holes. Whatever works. :) If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Easter Candy Princess?

Easter morning was quite rushed so we didn't have a chance to enjoy the kids Easter baskets until much later in the day. After the dishes were done and we were all doing our own thing it seems Laura just couldn't stand it any more. She had to discover what might have fallen under all of that pink grass. Clad in her new fuzzy princess shirt from Auntie Diane, she decided to investigate. When an adult finally discovered her, this is what we found. When questioned, she just said "I wanna fine my canny." I won't tell you how many times we wiped chocolate off of her chin but it is safe to say she just loves chocolate 'canny'. She is indeed a princess, isn't she? :)

March Came In Like a Lion and He Stayed For Awhile

I have a very convoluted, sarcastic, yet lovable relationship with snow. Given where I live, that can cause issues, but we live with the choices others made for us when we were young. :) Meanwhile, I work on tolerating the cold, white stuff most of the time. Initally, that first big snowfall of the season serves to put me in the Christmas mood and I watch the big flakes fall with a smile on my face knowing that the wet, heavy snow that comes during that time of the year will cling to the trees and make the world a soft, wonderful place. A month later, however, the snow is just too cold for man or beast. I'm ready to be done with it. Waiting ever so impatiently for spring to arrive knowing I have several months yet before we'll see temps out of the 20's.

Lately, it is taking more work to tolerate the white stuff than it is worth, but then we've blown away the previous record for March snowfall by almost half a foot. Yes, it is an all-time record breaker here. And pictures from our blizzard two weeks ago will give you a hint of what we've endured. Well, I endured it. Don endured it. The kids - they had a blast. :)

The snow started to fall on Friday. It just kept coming. Inches an hour. By the end of the snowfall early Sunday morning, we had two feet of snow on the ground and the blizzard-like winds had blown it all around in some very beautiful ways. When we finally ventured in to the snowy wonderland, we couldnt' open the door. Needless to say, it took hours to dig us out. Here are just a few pictures of our weekend.

Here are some views through the windows during the storm on Friday:

On Sunday morning, we started to take stock. Here's the snow piled up against the house and Laura's climber on the back deck. I took the picture after opening the slider and praying it wouldn't fall in on me!

Here's picture of the snow that was piled up by the front door. We couldn't open it from the inside until Don made this shovel-side path.

The Leader of the Shoveling Brigade had a smile on his face for awhile. After a few hours, it was not quite as bright. Here he is at the very beginning of the day:

And all of the guys were working on the driveway together:

My front bushes didn't fair so well with the heavy snow but they look better now that it has melted some.

The winds carved beautiful snow sculptures everywhere. Here's the overhang by the garage. Pretty, isn't it?

As they dug out, the boys formed a hill by the driveway. All of that snow had to go somewhere. They figured they'd use it to their advantage!

After the hill was formed, the boys took a break to try it out while Don continued to work:

Don finally found the end of the driveway:

And even made a path to the street. I'm sure he was busy praying that the snow plows wouldn't come back and plow him in again any time soon.

The kids all had a blast on the 'hill'. Even the neighborhood boys came over to give it a try on Sunday, and then Monday after school. They'd go down with and without snowboards and sleds. Laura was especially brave for her first sledding adventure.

On Monday, they decided the pile at the end of the driveway would make a nice snow fort. Here they are building, and then playing in it. Note the school bus in the second picture. Once again they experienced yet another advantage of being schooled at home - you can play in the snow before it melts away!

In the end, the driveway and the walkway were cleared by all of the boys, and then with more help from the sun. Everyone had a great time playing in the deep snow and Don and I prayed it would be the last one of the season. Alas, we've had several snow falls since then, but they melted away much more quickly. It is March after all, isn't it? The only thing that didn't fair so well was our mailbox. We tried to keep a clear path for our wonderful mailman but somehow, I think he saw a lot of them just like ours for the next few days. I'm thankful the snow is almost over for the year. I'm very ready for Spring. Think Spring with me, will you? Thing harder! Really hard!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Laura's Feet in September, January, February and Today

As we prepare for our trip to see Dr. Dobbs this weekend, I have been thinking some of what might happen when we are there. I know he'll examine her and go over our options with us. And I've assumed she'll come home with casts so I've been preparing her for that. I also decided that I needed to document where her feet were so we have a record here of where we were once again before we recast, IF we recast.

Getting a good picture of her feet is not easy. She is constantly moving and changing her weight distribution in an effort to avoid having to use her muscles to stand still. And when you finally get her to stand still, you can get several pictures of her feet that all look different due to the way she stands. However, I persisted and we have something to go by. These pictures are a pretty good indication of the way her feet look most of the time. Sometimes they look worse, sometimes much better. Consider these an average.

Here are some pictures from today:

Here are some pictures I took of her difficult foot a month ago and sent to Dr. Dobbs so he could see how she'd begun relapsing once again. You need to look closely to see that her heel has more tissue on the inside than it does on the outside and the very slight 'lean' her scar is developing once again:

And here were her beautiful feet the day after we removed her cast. They were so straight!!!

We don't know what will happen on Monday, but we do know that what we've done so far has had a tremendous impact. Here were her feet before we started seeing Dr. Dobbs in September. You can see just how pronounced her heel varus was and how high her arch was:

Again, we don't know the outcome yet for Monday but we do know that we're making progress and that perhaps, if we catch it soon enough, we can keep her feet on the right path long enough that they'll decide to stay put.