Friday, June 27, 2008

Girls, Caillou and Tools

A part of my childhood is revisited daily in my household. A part I only remember through stories from my parents, but is so intimately familiar that I feel as though I live it every day. Because I do.

Each morning and evening, I set Laura up on the edge of our bed and brush out her long hair. She LOVES the hair. HATES the brushing. She cries at the slightest pull and behaves much like I'm torturing her so I've learned to ignore it. I'm sure my Mom got to the same place with me resulting in my first hair cut at age eight where I went from long, long hair to a pixie in one visit to the beauty shop. Needless to say, I don't have a fondness for them to this day.

Anyway, to avert her attention while brushing out tangles we often employ either a bigger brother to play with her, singing with Mommy, or we turn on Caillou on who resides in the on demand feature of our cable programming. I love on demand. It is a partner with me in creating a calm, relatively scream-free atmosphere just before bed. Of course Laura is able to get herself together enough these days to tell me what it is that she wants me to do with her hair, but that is a whole different discussion.

Last night as I was brushing out her hair after her bath and wondering what I was going to do with it for the night, Caillou was learning how to problem solve and use tools. It prompted this conversation:

Laura: Mommy, I want some tools.
Me: Oh? What kind of tools?
Laura: Pink tools. *I work hard here to not snicker out loud*
Me: Of course. What kind of pink tools.
Laura: I need a wrench (pronounced wench), a hammer and what is that other thing called? The long thing?
Me: A screwdriver?
Laura: Yes, a screwdriver, that's it! I want a pink wrench, a hammer, and a screwdriver. Just pretend, Mommy.
Me: Of course.

There is a pause in the conversation as she watches more of Caillou. Then she adds:

Laura: I want one of those things in pink, too. A tool box. Like Caillou's with a handle that is pink and everything.
Me: But Caillou's isn't pink. It is blue.
Laura: I know, I know Mommy. But I want a pink on to go with my wrench, hammer and screwdriver!
Me: Of course.
Laura: So get them, okay? Then I can help you fix all sorts of things around the house after the boys break them.

Laughing out loud at this point is inevitable. I can't help it. She has such a practical view of life, doesn't she?

And so it goes here on the homestead. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

Sometimes it seems that some of the most interesting times of our lives are destined to repeat themselves. While this isn't all that bad when the interesting times were great ones, it can be frustrating when those times were ones you'd rather leave far behind you. And I mean far, far behind you. As in never have to look back, and never have to deal with it again, either. Ah, if only it were that easy peasy.

Yes, you read that right. Easy Peasy. If you've been reading the blog for awhile you'll remember that those cute little words were spoken by our wise, very comical Dr. Stone last fall. The very one who told me that removing a toe nail would be indeed 'easy peasy' and I had nothing to worry about. As it turned out, easy peasy wasn't exactly how I'd describe it but then I was on the receiving end and he was just doing the fun part. Well, at least from his perspective. So of course it was easy peasy. For him!

Anyway, it seems I am enjoying the same infection that attacked last year and we're working on getting rid of it with antibiotics. I'd rather avoid the whole toenail removal thing. And to that end, he took my very swollen toe, lanced it - can you say OUCH! - and the stuck a q-tip thingy in there to get a 'sample' to grow so he knew what we were dealing with. Uh yeah. Fun, that. NOT. And then, just to top off the event, he squeezed the sucker just for good measure. At this point I'm beginning to wish that the examination table were a bit lower so my other foot could make contact with something but I restrained. Wonderful patient that I am.

When he finally finished his dastardly deeds, he lead me back to his office to finish up. I'm busy being thankful that I wore sandals so my throbbing toe would not be shoved into a shoe, when the Good Doctor pulls one of the sneakiest, apparently well-thought-out tricks yet. He grabs the blood pressure cuff and shoves it on my arm. Talk about playing dirty pool...

Now I'm the first to admit my bp is a bit high, but it is not like I'm going to have a heart attack any day now. At least, as Dr. Stone assures me, not on his watch. So what is the big deal? At home, just the night before it was 134/84 - a great improvement over the previous measurement. And a wonderful testament to the relaxation brought about by a week at the beach. But just telling him that wasn't good enough. Oh no. He waited until after he ransacked my poor toe before he takes his reading. Imagine my surprise when it read 134/103. Yes, that was 103. *sigh*

He sends me off with a script for an antibiotic and a diuretic to help my blood pressure. A diuretic. Translation: You get a lot of time to ponder what new paint and/or wallpaper you want to use in every bathroom in the house. We have three. I'm intimately aware of all of their foibles as I've visited them so often in the past two days that I'm going to have to get my own bronzed statue commemorating the throne soon as I'm declared the "Most Frequent Visitor in 2008". Or at least replace the carpeting and tile in each one as they are wearing out at an ever increasing rate. And we aren't even done with the year, yet.

Ah, the Good Doctor.

But today, after just two days on the medication, I stopped taking it. Its effect on me, aside from the obvious, meant I was extremely nauseous and dizzy. Can't live like that. Give me fat feet from methyldopa any day over that. After all, I'm a good patient. Obedient. Really. I am. Most of the time.

So my trips to the our three water closets has lessened somewhat, and I'm wondering what he'll do to me next. Perhaps we can just wait a bit before starting something else. After all, here at home my bp was acceptable last night. Really it was. I have witnesses.

And so it goes...

Princess of the Potty

It is wonderful to be able to report that our Princess of the Potty is doing quite well at it and is actually wearing big girl undies during the day. YEAH for Laura! And while her foray in to pottying has had its difficulties, not to mention its delayed start, it has also provided some entertainment for us.

As we were travelling home from Stone Harbor, we were pushing the last leg of our journey when from the back comes a voice willing itself to be heard over the din of adult chatter, car noises and air conditioning. It said "Mommy I need to go potty." When no response was forthcoming, she went on to share a litany of pleas to get us to stop. But the one that finally brought a response from an adult, other than the advice to hold it awhile longer, was her plaintive plea "Pwease Mommy. Find a pee store, Mommy. I've got to go potty."

Ah, the wisdom of a four year old. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

49 Years Filled With Love

While we were on vacation, my parents celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. Forty-nine years. Married. Together. And to think that it started when they were very young and well, you know the rest. They have loved me, inspired me, corrected me, guided me, and walked beside me. They have accomplished much in their married lives, but the really cool thing about it all is that they are still married 49 years later, and still loving each other.

Jonathan made a special anniversary card for them in the sand. He may not realize it yet but because they've been married for so long and had such an influence on his life, he will be a better husband when he finally finds the one the Lord has for him. Meanwhile, he will keep it simple and honor his Honey and Poppy. A statement he made up himself and a heart he made for them to express his love for his grandparents. Emphasis on Grand. They are indeed grand. To him, to Matthew, to Laura, and to Don and I. And so Jonathan made his tribute from the heart. I wonder what he'll do next year.

Sunset Beach

In Cape May, there is an attraction that, miraculously, doesn't include sand. At Sunset Beach, the beach is covered with ocean tumbled rock, many from quartz, and you don't shell there. You look for Cape May Diamonds instead. We visited for a few hours and spent our fair share of time searching for our own diamonds in the rough. First, Poppy gave instructions and then they went their own way, digging down to find what someone else might have missed.

There is a bit of history there as well. Out in the ocean you can see the remnants of one of only 12 experimental concrete ships. Yes, you read that right. Concrete. Ship. Made to float... But I digress. Apparently, this one was purchased on order to make a reef somewhere else but was pulled from its mooring and washed up towards Sunset Beach. No one was able to pull it out at that time so it has remained right where it landed, slowly wearing away in the waves. As you can see, it doesn't really look like a ship now, but it still makes one wonder just how the navy thought a concrete ship was a good idea.

As we retreated from the beach to visit the shops before moving on to the Cape May Lighthouse, Kayla and Jarryd came up. Both, obviously holding a small cache of Cape May Diamonds in their hands, looked at me and said "Now what? What do we do with them?" That is a question, isn't it? Now what? Hmmm... I shared that my Dad had a jar full of them at home, collected over many visits here. And that others took the bigger ones and made jewelry out of them - they could see the outcome in one of the shops. Or they could decided what else they might want to do with them. But for me, half of the fun is finding them and then knowing that when you look at them, they are a reminder of the peaceful day spent collecting them. I guess it is an age thing. :)

Stone Harbor

Stone Harbor. The words bring to mind seagulls gliding on the wind, beautiful sunsets, long walks on the beach, shelling, and the constant sound of the waves coming and going over the sand where we just walked. These were sounds we knew very well 12 years ago and that I was able to share with Don on our honeymoon 6 years ago, but last week I took the time to realize just how much I love Stone Harbor. I think everyone felt the same way by the time the week ended. Matthew and Jonathan were there for the first time and they now know why we love it so much there.

On Saturday we started our journey bright and early, but not as early as we intended. Doesn't that always happen? My Mom and Dad, our family, and my Sister-In-Law all climbed into Dad's Astro and off we went. We expected a 10 hour journey with a lot of stops for our newly peeing-in-the-potty princess, but made it in 8.5 hours with only two stops. As we sailed down the Garden State Parkway on the last leg of our journey, the smells of the ocean greeted us every once in awhile and only heightened our desire to get our feet in the sand.

Unloading the car was quite easy but we realized just how much we'd brought as Dad pulled stuff out of every nook and cranny he had in the car. The car top carrier was left for last and since we didn't have a ladder, Jonathan went up on top to unload. We shoved everything in the house, gathered together and headed down to the beach.

Here's our first taste of the ocean. You will note that the boys didn't waste any time getting down to the water.

The first few days there were very hot and humid so the boys tried to cool off in the 60 some odd degree water but it was just toooooo cold. However, down at the point of the island, there is a much calmer beach where tide pools are common and shells are plentiful. So we headed there. Here are some pictures from those adventure. You'll note that almost always, heads are bent looking down either trying to find shells or checking out something that they found while looking for that elusive uninhabited whelk.

Playing in the tide pools, which were much warmer than the ocean overall, was a fun way to get our feet wet without freezing!

There was a sandbar out a ways that could only be reached during low tide. It was a gathering place on and off during the week. Here you can see the first of many family gatherings there.

And the mighty team of Poppy and Jonathan were always together, heads bent, always looking. Determined to find their treasure.

And SUCCESS!!! Overall, Jonathan found three or four whelks and chose a few to bring home. They will be the happy home of some air plants as soon as we clean them off.

Even Mom braved the water to head out to the sandbar! I think this was her only venture into the water.

We also discovered that Laura loves water. And sand. And having her brother build things for her in the sand. Here Laura and Daddy play in the tide pools

And a picture of the three of us.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Diane

We were joined at the beach by my brother's family. They rented another house and we got to spend a lot of time together. Their house had central air - something we didn't think we'd need at the beginning of June at the beach but alas, we did. So common meals happened at his house. It was fun even though some folks had to sit on the floor to eat. Here's my brother, Scott, holding the always present shelling bag.

I'll post some more pictures of our trip in another post but this one, highlighting our beach adventures, wouldn't be complete without posting Matthew and Seth's attempts to body surf in the freezing cold, bone chilling ocean. I managed to catch one picture of them successfully 'catching a wave' but they are just dots buried on the white curls.

Jonathan joined them periodically but he had enough common sense to stay out of the water when it was just too cold. Smart boy, that one. :)

We finally were forced to pack up and head home. Since there was no ladder, we pulled the car up to the porch and Jonathan still helped load it from there. Here he is relishing his status as the chosen one to actually get on top of the car.

And so ends another week at the beach. It was refreshing, fun, relaxing, filled with family, packed with times we'll remember all year long as we plan for next years trip. Of course next year we'll rent a house with central air. :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

She's A Super Duper Pooper!

Okay, okay, okay. Yes, I know. She'll regret that I displayed that to the world some day. But I have to tell you, I'm ready to shout it from the mountain tops and I'm thinking that letting the whole world know that your stubborn, 'won't poop in the potty' child has gone twice in a row in the potty is something so fabulous, I'm willing to live with the long term fallout. Trust me on this. It is BIG news!

After taking umpteen videos out of the library, learning potty song after potty song, after potty song, I find that the one that means the most to me now is the same one that I was singing 12 years ago, too. "I'm A Super Duper Pooper" is one of the songs on the "It's Potty Time" video. This video was a standard in our home when Matthew was potty training and refusing to poop in the potty, too. At the time we thought it was because David had so many issues with pottying, but now I'm wondering if it isn't just the norm for those lucky enough to be born in our long line of stubborn er... make that determined folk. But for whatever reason, I think we might be well on our way to kissing our diapers and pull ups goodbye forever - at least during the day.

Just moments ago Matthew, Jonathan and I gathered in the hallway in front of the bathroom as we heard cries of "MOMMY! I pooped on the potty!" come rolling out of the bathroom. We all clapped, cheered and serenaded her singing:
She's a Super Duper Pooper,
She can potty with the best.
No more diapers to get in her way,
I bet you are impressed!

She's a Super Duper Pooper,
She knows when she has to go.
Take a bow,
She's a big kid now,
She's the best pooper you know!

Yes, we did that. And we'll do it again. And again. And again. As long as it takes. And when we're done we'll be glad. But secretly, I'll know that I've potty trained for the last time. So while my heart is soaring with pride at her accomplishments, I'll be a bit sad as well. She's growing up. I'll have to come to grips with that. Someday. :)

The Layers Of Life

Last week I quietly celebrated a milestone. One I share with my son, David. He's been gone for ten years now this past New Year's Day. Ten years we've gone on without him. Ten years that we've missed hearing his little, old man laugh. Ten years of family events, changes, and stories that he'll never know. Ten years that he's been whole and healthy, running through heaven, laughing all the way. He would have been twelve last week. Right smack dab in the middle of Matthew and Jonathan. Oh what sibling rivalry that might have been, eh? :)

Yesterday, another child joined him in heaven. Sydney, a beautiful, sweet little one who happened to have clubfeet had been out to see Dr. Ponseti in Iowa, was killed when her Angel Flights plane crashed shortly after take off. She would have turned 3 next month. Her mother, Christina, was with her. While Christina and the pilot suffered no long term injuries, Sydney died later in the day after her father was able to join them in Iowa in time to say goodbye.

My heart weeps for Christina. She has now joined the very private group of those who have lost children. She will know our private pain and our deep longing for what we can no longer have. She will have to balance the lives of those left behind with the memory of the child who has left her behind as she passed away, out her reach. She will wonder and go through endless what ifs in her mind. She'll dream about what she might have become had she lived as long as Christina dreamed she'd live when she first discovered that she was miraculously making another life within her own. She'll go through the blame, the bargaining and the weeping those of us in this very private world already intimately know. She will discover that time really does heal, but long before that happens, she will wonder if there will ever be enough time.

And in the midst of all of this, at the lowest points in her grief, she will begin to see that Sydney's life was full of purpose and joy. That she came for a reason, was here for a time and that, although she is now gone physically, she's never really gone. She will be a part of her life always. Nothing can change that. Not even death. She will realize that in Sydney's short life, she managed to touch more lives than Christina will ever begin to comprehend. That even though her life did not quite span three years, the number of people who are impacted by her will seem to fill a lifetime and more. And she will realize that none of us are here alone. There is always someone who enjoyed her laughter, loved to watch her eyes twinkle or couldn't wait to play with her another day. There will always be someone who will be willing to sit quietly with her while she cries at her loss and then rejoice with her as she shares sweet memories of Sydney, remembering even more as she talks. There will be sweet memories that will chase the tears away and suddenly, she'll realize that she's smiling again and it feels good. She'll find moments of peace and she'll begin to realize that her life is worth living and Sydney is cheering her on as she does.

David and Sydney lived their lives with all the strength, ability, joy and laughter they could muster. They would want us to go on. I am, with David's memories by my side. Christina will work through her grief and go on as well. Stronger. More determined than ever. With a dash of Sydney's laughter thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Soft, Cuddly Lovin' from Myshell

Last week a box landed on our porch. In it was a hug of love from "Myshell" for Laura. As you can see she loves it. I must take it off of her several times a day so she doesn't eat it in, or have a chocolate snack while wearing it. She's worn it outside, put it on her babies, tried to wrap me in it when I looked like I needed a nap, and in general has made it one of her favorite things. Michelle made it for her and it is just beautiful, soft and oh so cozy. "Myshell wuvs me, huh Mom." Yes Laura, she does. Very much. :)

Stylin' Girl!

You may recall that Laura started wearing glasses last fall. Not only did her eyes need some correction, but she has strabismus much like her brother so keeping her eye from turning in is part of her prescription as well. Last week we went for a check up expecting for everything to be fine. But no. It seems that, as is common with some kids with strabismus, the weak eye has decided not to do anything and the stronger eye has taken over. Her vision in her good eye tested at 20/40 and her bad eye was 2100! So began a long term effort with patching a few hours a day. Currently she does 3 hours a day. It fits over her glasses and is working once we put a kibosh on her desire to peek over the top of the patch by moving her glasses down a bit.

Here she is in all of her glory:

And here she is expressing her feelings about having to wear it.

Come On, Baby! Let's Do The Twist-er

Friday Night Family Night has its ups and downs. Periodically, the boys have something planned or the kids head over to Mom and Dads for the night or we just are all wiped out making the night a low key one with not much happening beyond the hope that we'll find a good movie to watch while we all die quietly on The People Magnet. Other nights find us with a board game or card game out, trying to figure out how to keep Laura involved and still play a good game before she heads to bed. And then there are nights like last week...

Laura and Jonathan had ventured to the basement playroom storage to find a new supply of games earlier in the week. They had returned with Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Guess Who, Candy land and Twister. Quite the combo, wasn't it? Laura instantly fell in love with Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Jonathan tried his best to teach her the logic of Guess Who even though she's only four. Candy land is okay but as you may already know, it can take forever to play one game and her attention span isn't that long. And then there's Twister. As the week progressed, any time seemed a good time to pull out the game and try to talk someone in to playing with you. Laura learned how to spin and call out the color and the relatively correct appendage and we all learned how to change it on the fly to accommodate her lacking leg span and arm width.

As Friday approached, Jonathan began lobbying for a 'game night' where we'd play until we dropped. He wanted to play Narnia, agreed to some Hi-Ho Cherry-o to make Laura happy and wanted to play some group rounds of Twister. His mistake was starting there. :) Matthew quickly became quite competitive with Don to see who might reign supreme. Laura learned that getting under anyones body could be hazardous when the mat is that full, and Jonathan decided that playing with Mom and Laura was a lot different than competing with his testosterone laiden older brother and Dad. We played many rounds. It was fun. Don and Matthew worked up a sweat while I learned how to foil one or both with a well-placed push. By the end of that game we called it quits for the evening. Don and Matthew were done in and I was just done. We headed upstairs, put Laura to bed, gathered on The People Magnet and promptly fell asleep.

Here are a few highlights from the evening:

At first Laura was involved and very interested. Even though she'd get pushed out or fall, she'd jump back in to the fray midgame and continue.

Then things got serious and we all bowed out to watch Dad and Matthew battle it out for testosterone supremacy:

And even though things got a little too close for Don's comfort now and then...

And despite the fact that Jonathan tried to effect the outcome...

In the end, there was one winner...

Dad won the night.