Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Just as Art Linkletter used to say, kids do say the darndest things. Especially, it would seem, around here. In the last few days I've overheard the following:

While Laura was playing with her dolls, she apparently grew tired and wanted to eat a snack. Since I was holding one of her dolls for her because the doll was sick and needed some loving, she noted that I wasn't going to be able to get a snack for her if I were holding her doll. Being the brilliant child she is, she came over to me, took the doll out of my hands and said "Come here, Baby. I'll put you away now to sleep". Oh if only it were that simple sometimes...

The boys were playing together - bionicles this time - when Laura happened upon their 'game'. She quickly ran to get her own 'guys' to add in. Never mind that they were dolls from her Sweet Streets set. And the boys could have cared less. Apparently it doesn't matter if your 'guys' wear pink or purple. Just as long as they fit right in. I watched casually through the door crack to see what happened. I overheard Laura saying "Bang, bang, bang" as she pointed her dolls arm at a much bigger bionicle. Matthew reminds her that they don't shoot guns, they shoot lasers so she adjusts on the fly. "Bang, bang, shew, shew, shew" Yeah, she gets it. :)

As we were out and about last week in the warmth I overheard a conversation between a rather nosey neighbor and Jonathan. Apparently he is being quizzed about school. To what end I can only imagine so I don't go there. I am, however, exceedingly proud of Jonathan. He answered practically, honestly, and with more information that I think she expected. After droning on and on about WWII, how ancient architecture is mirrored in some of the buildings in town as well as some famous ones, how neat it was when he got the times tables memorized so well he could do them in under 5 minutes, how he really liked writing but hated that he had to actually edit what he wrote by being sure it was spelled correctly, made sense and had all of the proper punctuation and grammar included that it lost some charm, (yes, he said "charm"), and then went on and on about rock formations, chemical and physical weathering, erosion and how to prevent it and oh so many other things in science, he finally realized her eyes were glazed over and she wasn't really able to take in all he was saying so he ended it by saying "So, I guess that was a bit TMI. Did you want me to answer a specific question instead of going over what I learned last week?" Ah, the wisdom of youth.

Matthew was watching an old episode of Green Acres because we'd been singing the theme song around here lately. He looked up at me after a few minutes and said "You know, without the canned laughter, it just wouldn't be all that funny." Hmmm... maybe he has something there.

And finally, Laura was trying very hard to get attention from someone. Anyone, actually. It wasn't going well and she was quietly expressing that dogged determination that is becoming her hallmark. When calling all of our names, pulling on our body parts, and even standing in front of us and attempting to climb on our laps didn't produce any results, she regrouped and came up with a new tactic. She collected a few of her dollies and started taking care of them, murmuring to them and patting them on the back. Then, when one was apparently inconsolable, she brought them to me. Amused by her new efforts at getting attention, I took the baby and started rocking it, soothing it and patting it. I told it a story and was cooing over it. Laura, thinking I might have lost a few marbles, gently touched my shoulder and said "Mommy, you know dat's not your baby, right?"

Kids. They say the darndest things!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Guiness World Record? If Only They Knew...

I'm sure that your family is one of those very organized, on time, always at the ready families that shares the highs of your day with everyone at dinner, quoting your favorite scripture and sharing at least three new facts you learned that day. Uh, yeah. Riiiiight. Well, ours isn't either. And lately, along with the new joke, suduko puzzle or review of the comical things that happened that day, the boys have tried a new adventure. Their own attempts to get in to the Guinness Book of... well... Family Records.

Yes, with food.

No, I didn't start it. Really! I didn't!!!

A few days ago, lacking the desire to put something green on the table, I produced the most recent acquisition of round red globes and plopped them on the table instructing everyone that grapes were the 'vegetable of the day' and they all needed to eat a nice serving. Whatever that is. As the meal went on, Matthew opted to set a limit so I couldn't badger them in to eating more and suggested that they eat twice their age in grapes. After a quick figuring stint in my brain, I declared it an excellent idea and Matthew set about picking 28 grapes from the bowl. Soon it seemed just eating them wasn't good enough. No. He'd have to see how many he could fit in to his mouth at the same time. Yes, my stomach did a little lurch but hey, whatever gets them to eat them, right??? As you can assume, that would come back to haunt me.

On the first day with the grapes, Matthew managed to get 17 in before he couldn't spare anymore room while laughing hysterically to stick any more in. He was satisfied with that. Oh how soon they forget that sense of satisfaction...

Just 24 hours later we were sitting at the table once again. Gathered, like a wonderfully loving family, eating dinner idyllically together, reviewing our um... well... you get the drift. We were eating dinner. And green beans were the 'green' of the day. As dinner began to wind down, I happened to glance at each child's plate, noting immediately that while the evidence of homemade chicken fingers and fries were there, not an iota of evidence existed for the previous presence of green beans. I reminded them that a healthy serving of green beans needed to hit their plate, and by extension their stomachs, before they got up from the table. Matthew willingly piled green beans on his plate and passed the bowl to Jonathan. Score one for parental persistence.

However, my parental success ended there. Soon I noted a gleam in Matthew's eye. He looked up at us with a sneaky smile on his face and said "Gee, last night I got in 17 grapes. I wonder how many green beans I can fit in my mouth!" Note, he was excited at the prospect. I hung my head wondering just where I could get off this train. Apparently, not any time soon. Before I knew it he was lobbing greeners in to his cavernous orifice and counting at the same time. I began to wonder somewhere around 80 if any more would fit in. I needn't have worried. They did. Many more. Many, many more. In fact, Matthew emptied the bowl and might have grabbed the leftovers off of Jonathan's and Laura's plates but by that time he was laughing too hard to even think of stuffing more in before he relieved the pressure. Grinning takes up space you know.

As it turns out, you can fit 140 green beans in his mouth. Yes, as he noted several times, if you suck the juice out, you can pack more in. Slobbering, as needed. I'm not sure that is a certified Guinness practice, but whatever works!

After spitting out much of what was in his mouth so he could actually swallow his original serving, Jonathan wanted to see if, in fact, there was such a record. Alas, the Guinness site is not forthcoming regarding the amount of green beans one can stuff in ones mouth at one time. I imagine they ought to think more like teenage boys and their world record categories could increase dramatically. Just ask Matthew and Jonathan. :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Gift

Last week was one of 'those weeks'. You know, the kind that finds you dreaming about the end long before it ever even begins. The kind you dread long before it starts and seem to suffer through as you go, willing the end to come much more quickly than it normally would. The kind you'd like to forget. It was Ohio Achievement Testing Week. Yes, all caps. Because it has become an event in our lives. An event I'd rather not have to do, but must.

Because we choose to school at home, my children are enrolled in public charter virtual schools or eschools as some might call them. And I'm very glad they are. Honestly, for Matthew it is a great thing because I'm NOT his primary teacher. He's enrolled in a program that has a virtual option meaning he logs in to class with teachers and attends with other students much like he would if he were in the local brick and mortar. His teachers go the extra mile and help him with concepts he's having trouble with, and he has the option to log in and access tutoring at any time from whatever teacher is manning that subject at the time. For Matthew, it is the best of both worlds. He can be social and yet he's here at home where he's developing in to a wonderful young man. Jonathan is enrolled in another program that allows him to work at his own, accelerated pace so he is accomplishing much more than he might be able to in a brick and mortar. This means that as he ends his fourth grade year, he's doing fifth grade work that he'll most likely finish by Christmas and then they'll allow him to move on. The curriculum is accelerated anyway, so it is nice to see Jonathan learning at his level as I watch him grow and blossom under my teaching. It is the best of both worlds for all of us. And next year Laura will join in the fray with a home-based preschool curriculum as I prepare to enroll her in to the program Jonathan is using. It should be a fun year for all of us!

So what does all of this have to do with the picture of my wonderful hubby? Well, once a year the requirements of public schooling descend on us and we must show up somewhere with all of the other students in our area to take the achievement tests. This year that meant that last week,three mornings were scheduled for Jonathan and four afternoons were scheduled for Matthew. As we eschooling parents gathered at each testing location, conversations about our lives inevitably took place. You compare where your kids are in the curriculum, how they are handling assignments, what you choose to use and what you choose to skip, and so on. And after you've finished discussing the children, the topic of family life shifts to the top of the subject matter under consideration.

In the give and take of conversations I recall feeling overwhelmed time and time again. Not negatively, mind you. But overwhelmed with the knowledge that our life was pretty wonderful no matter how you looked at it. Oh yes, there are things I need to change/do better/improve on/etc. but we are doing just fine, thank you very much. My kids were not growing up extremely rebellious, they aren't in to things that they'll regret later in life, and none of them are living a life that is completely against our family values. They are pretty wonderful and I am thankful every day that I am able to be home with them.

However, the thing that I found I was most thankful for each and every day was my Gift, - my husband of almost six years now. My Don. He is truly one of the best gifts the Lord has ever provided for me. The one that grounds me. The one that keeps me surrounded by acceptance, stability, comfort and a touch of reality. The one that supports me no matter what I choose to try, that keeps me on the straight and narrow as I often try to bite off more than I can chew. And the one that reaches out to touch and soothe me when I feel like I just can't do it anymore, encouraging me by reminding me what we've already accomplished and how much more fun there is ahead. Yes, even in the teen years. And then there's the love and acceptance. He completely loves and accepts me just the way I am. No matter how many quick fix meals he must endure because we were too busy to start dinner earlier. Or how many times he has to pick his socks and underwear out of the laundry basket we haven't managed to fold yet. Or how many times he has to help get the house picked up and the dishes done even after working a full day at the office. Yes, I have been given a gift. A gift that was even more evident as I listened to others discuss their lives.

I sat in small groups last week listening to many Moms talk about the mess their lives are, how their older children or stepchildren are causing so many disturbances in their households that it is hard to get things done, let alone on time or in any kind of schedule. Or how their husbands don't support their schooling choices and don't help around the house. And even how they use money, sex or other manipulative means to control them in front of and away from the children. Sometimes what they admitted so astounded me that I couldn't even figure out what to say so I just kept my mouth shut, attempting to keep my chin from hitting the floor in the process. Other times, I just quietly thanked the Lord that he gave me not only the best parents in the world, some pretty awesome kids, but Don as well. I can't imagine what life might have been like if not for those blessings. And I'm glad I don't have to worry about it. I'll just keep on thanking him for my gifts and enjoying life with my husband and my children.

I have been blessed. And I am forever thankful for my Gifts - all of them!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Cleaning

It seems that every season brings some new job that must be done. Sometimes in involves changing an entire wardrobe from one season to the next in all four closets, sometimes it means changing decorations or deep cleaning some part of the house. And sometimes it means doing yard work until you feel like your arms are going to fall off as you dodge raindrops that just insist on falling on your otherwise wonderful day. Yesterday, Daddy and Laura were the only ones home so they ventured out to clean up the lawn a bit. Well, Daddy did some cleaning while Laura played. I think she managed to locate and extricate every lawn toy we might own and a few that I'm not sure I've ever seen before. And she also decided that since the boys weren't home, she could play with their toys as well - without being yelled at. She was in her element.

When I asked her how she thought the boys would feel if they knew she had their guns out, she responded as only a four year old can who has been taught by store clerks how to respond to brothers when you've gotten away with something and they haven't. Yes. The dreaded Nananananana. Somehow she even makes that look cute...

Sand Crabs In Ohio?

It would seem that an invasion of sorts is happening right here in my very own backyard. An invasion so unique to our area that I'm sure they are very few and far between. The last time we had this invasion, I documented it and really didn't plan on the need to document it again given the extensive clean up involved. Oh how wrong I was. Apparently memories are rather short lived and the long winter months spent burying themselves in the snow kept the dream alive.

I should have been suspicious this afternoon when Jonathan ran in and told me to get my camera and come outside quickly. I probably should have asked more questions on the way out, but the sinking feeling in my stomach told me to just go out and face the music without being forewarned. After having spent at least ten minutes trying to wash the sand out of Laura's hair last Tuesday, I just couldn't face the thought of having to do it all over again so soon. So I didn't ask.

As I came out on to the deck, I noted a small, pink head sticking up in the sand. Upon further investigation, this is what greeted me:

And then Jonathan, obviously feeling like he hadn't buried her quite deep enough, set about to add even more to the pile.

And then even more!

Finally Laura could stand it no more. She asked much more politely than I would have if I had little sand particles invading every nook and cranny of my body, if he was finished and if perhaps she might get up. Reluctantly Jonathan gave his okay and Laura broke free from her the cocoon of sand.

She lost her balance a bit on the sand but finally emerged. Standing, but covered in sand.

As I type, Jonathan has been assigned to wash her hair and I've already spent at least 30 minutes trying to get all of the sand off of the kitchen floor, bathroom floor and out of her clothing. We won't even discuss how much Jonathan will add to the pile when he gets ready for a shower...

And so the crab season begins here in Ohio. Who knew? I think, given all that has transpired in the sandbox over the years, I should have known. Maybe it is time to build an outdoor shower...

The Mitchell FAB Strap Repair

Our Mitchell FAB had a weak spot on the strap that finally broke. I'd been treating it carefully knowing I would have to dig up a shoe repair place for repairs once it did break and I didn't recall one close. But it gave way and a repair became necessary. After a search for one close, I finally found a guy about 15 minutes away who said he'd take a look at it and he'd see what he could do. I took a picture of another repair you can see on Shawnee's six feet site here (scroll down on the left hand side)so he'd know what another cobbler tried that worked. He took that idea and came up with his own.

As you can see by the pictures below, he matched the leather color, surrounded the strap with a double layer and told me it wasn't going anywhere any time soon. He is right. Our only issue with it is that if the repair were just a bit longer, it would go through the buckle a bit easier. However, I'm thrilled I didn't have to bother John with making a new shoe for the few months we have left with this pair.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring"

"Hello, Daddy? I wuv you!

How are you?

What are you doing?

Oh dat's good.

Well... I'm going to get busy here in a minute and do da ditches but first I'm going to talked to you somemores. So, what are you doing?

Oh. Dat's good. Do you wike doing dat?

Ummm... Mommy said I had to get dwessed becaused we're going to go to da wibrary waiter when you comed home. So I'm dwessed and it is so pwetty! You will weally wike it! And Mommy said she's going to do my haired. I don't want her to do dat but she's gonna anyways. But it will keep it from detting knowtty.

No. I'm not going to do dat.

Because Jonathan is meaned to me when I annoyed him so I'm supposed to be good today. So I'm not going to pway wif him.

So, what are you doing?

Well, I need to go get my babies dwessed for the day. Dey are hungry and if I'm a good Mommy I will feed dem. And one of my babies has poopies so I have to change her diaper. It stinks! See you waiter, Daddy!

I wuv you, too! Bye!"

And so it goes in Laura's world this morning.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Clubfoot Saga April Update

Dr. Dobbs is by far one of the most amazing specialists we've seen in our ongoing saga of 'Laura's Life'. He listens, understands and counsels with such a gentle spirit that I find I am in awe of him even though he doesn't intend for that to happen. I'm thankful he's available for us and I feel very confident putting Laura's feet, and her future comfort and abilities, in his very caring hands.

I didn't know what to expect from our follow up appt. yesterday, but I felt that everything would be okay. As I packed, I prepared for more casting and Laura even realized that it might be a possibility as well. Last week she started talking about it and the conversation went something like this:

Me: We're going to St. Louis this weekend to see Nana and then Dr. Dobbs.
Laura: Yeah! I get to sweep at Nana's house in my new sweeping bag!!!
Me: Yes, and then we'll go see Dr. Dobbs.
Laura: I don't want to see Dr. Dobbs. He'll put casts on me and I don't want casts. *slight pause* I want pinked ones dis time! Can I have pinked ones dis time, Mommy?
Me: *amazed at the quick transition she can make when faced with having pink legs again* Yes, you can have pink ones again. I'll be sure to pack a dress that will match.

So I went about getting ready, confident that her little brown skirt would work well with possible pink casts. Little did I know it wouldn't matter.

We were at the Hospital bright and early Monday morning. Kristina came in to say hi and I gave her a big hug. She works so well with Dr. Dobbs and cares about the patients just as much as he does. I'm glad she is there for us, too. Soon, Dr. Dobbs came in and he checked out Laura's feet, did some assessments and evaluated where we were. He asked some questions to clarify her previous care and I prepared to hear the word osteotomy in his conversation. However, it never came.

It seems he thinks she might have some nerve damage and that is what is preventing her foot from staying corrected. His plan is to have a Neurologist conduct a nerve study to verify it and then to proceed with some form of tendon transfer to help her muscles and such work properly to help keep her foot corrected. He also told us to quit using the SMO's - can you say shoe shopping??? - and not to use the AFO that we'd been told to use, and measured for but had yet to pick up, last fall. He wants her to learn to use and depend on her own muscles and not use the SMO's as a crutch any longer. They've apparently served their purpose well but it is time to move on.

I remember floating out of the office and back in to more wonderful sunshine. I know that we have some difficult times ahead as they'll have to put her under for the nerve study and she'll have some form of surgery yet ahead of her, but all in all I'm thrilled. He told us that indeed she'll have good, workable feet and that she'll really be fine in the end. It is what we've dreamed of, prayed for and dared to dream about from the beginning. I feel like the end just may be in sight.

Meanwhile, I think I'll go shoe shopping. :)

Another Quick St. Louis "Drive By"

As I prepared for our trip to St. Louis to see Nana and, of course Dr. Dobbs, it rarely seemed like it was actually going to happen. Our last few trips have been plagued by snow - faaaar toooo much snow as a matter of fact - so perhaps I felt that another storm would hit us without warning. Or perhaps I felt like we'd reached the end of the line and I really didn't see what other options we had besides bone surgery or continued casting, and I wasn't sure I wanted to hear that final answer. But the need to know combined with the desire to see my Nana took precedence and I prepared for what would turn out to be a record 19 replays of "Are we there yet?" and 26 "How much longer" repeats. I'd keep score by kid but that would have required far too much thought. So I stuck with the basics.

We left at the beginning of what would become a wonderfully sunny, warm day. As we drove through Indiana and Illinois I was struck by how green everything was. Not only was the sun shining for us, but the spring green grass was everywhere and buds were on the trees. Daffodil, crocus and tulips were blooming, and bugs actually splattered the windshield, (if I weren't in such a hurry I'm sure we could have gotten a science lesson out of that somehow) and we felt like we were on a bit of a vacation instead of a medical trip. And that's not all bad no matter how you look at it!

When we arrived in St. Louis, my precious Nana had dinner almost made. But after spending 9 hours in the car a walk seemed in order. We started out together but soon, keeping us that way took effort. Here we are, minus Jonathan, about to head down the little development she lives in:

As we'd walk along, I'd keep turning back (or looking ahead) to see where everyone else was. Sometimes I'd find just Mom, Nana and Laura in a group and other times they'd all be together having discovered something interesting. Here, Jonathan and Matthew are figuring out that a new stump once held a tree lived 36 years before someone took it down:

When we finally got back to Nana's house, the boys decided a little tree climbing was in order so up Matthew went. Jonathan, on the other hand, wasn't exactly tall enough to get a good leg up...

Finally, Matthew went as high as I'd let him go given his propensity for falling out of them at the most inopportune moments and all I could see were all of those beautiful buds on the tree. OH for spring to arrive here, too!!!

After our walk we had a wonderful visit with Nana before we headed to bed. Our time at the Red Ruby Inn is always too short but I'm so thankful the Proprietress always fits us in. Thanks, Nana! We love you!!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

And Now It's Time For A Little Science!

What does mass wasting, gravity, water, and a sandbox all have in common? Science, of course! Specifically, Jonathan's science lesson of the day. It seems that the lab today required him to form various grades using a cookie sheet and soil in order to determine how rain, gravity and soil all worked together to cause erosion, and then of course deposition. Rills, creeks, rivers, tributaries, sediment and deltas seemed to be the words of the day and I was thoroughly enjoying the boys foray in to science. Until...

So let me get this straight. You want to take my cookie sheet - the one that Honey and Poppy got for a wedding gift, the one that is so well made they just don't make them like that any more - and you want to plop some soil on it to imitate rills, creeks, rivers and tributaries???? Uhhhh... okay! Sure. Just do it outside!!!

Thankfully, we're experiencing just a touch of spring and the boys could head out and enjoy some homemade erosion before the rain hit and did it for real. Off they went. To the sandbox with my cookie sheet and the pitcher of water, ready to do battle as the elements. They managed to have a wonderful time making rivers that flowed downstream at various rates and even managed to track a larger piece of sand or two in the process. They formed their own paths as needed to imitate rivers flowing in to tributaries, and then realized just how a delta might form because they made one themselves. Thankfully, Don had the outside water spouts turned off or they might have well been on their way to a scale model ocean, too. In our once dry sandbox.

Isn't science fun???

Here's Matthew explaining their experiments:

Preparing for the final experiment:

The final erosion in progress:

And Jonathan's feeling of success!!! Let's see, he got outside mid morning to play in the sandbox with my cookie sheet and pitcher along with everything they already have out there. Yeah! It was definitely a success on sooo many levels!!!