Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rugby Success

Today Caleb and Jonathan got to rugby practice, AND they were on time!  This is actually a huge deal, because we have failed pretty miserably so far this season at this very low bar.

In January we thought maybe Nathan's rugby team from last year wasn't going to happen this year, since we had gotten no emails and the website hadn't been updated.  So we started looking around, and we found another rugby team not too far from us.  The problem was that they had practices on Tuesday nights, which meant Nathan and Luke would miss CAP, so that wasn't ideal.  But then it turned out Nathan's old rugby team WAS going to have a season, so it all became a moot point.  The coach from the other team kept in contact with Nathan, however, and he asked if Caleb and Jonathan would want to play, since this club has teams for younger kids.  Well, sure!  Why not?!  It wouldn't be as bad as basketball season, where we had 6 kids on 6 different teams!  This would only be 4 kids on 2 teams!  Piece of cake!  And Nathan can drive him and Luke to their practice!

Except for some reason, we have not been able to get this second rugby team on my mental calendar.  It didn't help that there were a ton of practices cancelled in January and February because of bad weather.  Even at the first practice Caleb and Jonathan went to, I sent them off to the wrong place because somehow I misread the email--a bad omen, for sure.  Since then, it's been one thing after another, but mainly, I just forget all about their practice until I happen to look down at my watch and realize--hey, Caleb and Jonathan have practice tonight, and it is starting *right now*.  One time I misread another email and totally had the wrong starting time in my head.  I did check the email as I was stopped at a red light on the way home from dropping the girls off at gymnastics, and whoops!  That's when I realized practice actually started half an hour earlier (*right then*), and I wasn't even back home, much less on the way to rugby!  So we skipped that one, since we had been 25 minutes late the practice before because I failed to allot anywhere near enough time to get to this different practice location in D.C. rush hour traffic.  Gah . . . so embarrassing!  I was really developing a complex!

But tonight we had success.  Jonathan made a big sign to hang on the wall under the calendar to remind us of rugby.  All throughout the day he and Caleb reminded me that practice was tonight *at 5:30*, not 6:00.  And so we left at an appropriate time and made it there early!  Wow!  It's only taken us 2 months!  Clearly I am at maximum mental capacity right now, with no extra margin.  Good thing spring break is this next week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Hey, it's Tuesday night, but guess what I'm NOT doing?  Latin, that's what!  Caleb and Jonathan took the National Latin Exam last Friday, so we are DONE for the year for Latin!  Yay!!  No more Wednesday classes, which means I can actually relax on Tuesday nights, which means maybe I can get a little bit caught up on this blog.  I've just been so tired and overwhelmed since the new year started, but the Lord has provided refreshment for me exactly when it was really needed.
One refreshing thing was a lovely snowstorm that we had Thursday March, March 5.  It snowed so beautifully all day, and no one had to go anywhere.  It was really nice because we had just gotten some bad news about Bob's job, and it was nice distraction.  Everything looked so peaceful, like Narnia or something.  The snow was so perfect, we actually got out our cross-country skis!
Even more impressively, we got out skis for the kids too!  Several years ago our friends Mark and Lori had passed down 2 sets of kids cross-country skis, but the snow just hadn't worked to try them out.  But this year it all worked, and they were so fun!  All 3 girls were able to fit into the bigger size of boots, and Micah could wear the smaller pair.  The girls took turns, and they all had a lovely time.  Faith as it turns out is a really powerful skier!  She caught on right away and just powered through the snow!  Micah wasn't exactly sure how to use his poles and fell down a couple of times, but overall he did pretty well too.  Anna and Grace did well, although I wasn't out at the same time as they were.  Oh, Jonathan and Caleb can both wear my boots, so they got to take a spin on my skis.  I love cross-country skiing!  Th girls think we need to move to a place where we can do it more than once every 3 or 4 years, LOL.
The next refreshing thing the Lord provided was a visit by my sister-in-law Melinda and her 2 girls.  We picked them up on Monday, March 9, and the weather was so lovely that day.  Bob was able to drive us around downtown, so the girls got a tour of DC and the monuments without having to walk all over creation.  Bob did masterfully find a parking place for the big van over by the Jefferson Memorial, so we did walk around there some.
Melinda and the girls visited the elementary co-op on Tuesday with my girls, since the co-op was having one of their special 5th week activities.  This time the "Reptile Man" came, bringing tons of scaly creatures with him.  I remember when he came 7 years ago.  I was just as glad to stay home and teach life science and anatomy.  I'm still not a fan of reptiles, LOL.  Wednesday we visited Udvar-Hazy.  We watched the airplanes land at Dulles for awhile, and then walked around the museum.  Thursday Melinda braved the Metro and took Emily, Anna, and Grace downtown to visit the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.  Grace has been *dying* to go on the Metro, so that was a dream come true for her (and then she realized how boring it actually is, LOL).  The girls were particularly impressed by the jewel display at the Natural History Museum!  Elia stayed here and went to Faith's art and science co-op with her.  Friday we all went swimming at the local rec center, where Faith had her swimming lesson.
This is so obvious, I don't even need to say it, but the girls had a FABULOUS time together!  I think it is just so special that all 5 girls are so close in age to each other, and that they get along so well!  I had a wonderful time with Melinda as well, just talking about all sorts of things and hanging out.  It was lovely!  Plus, she was amazingly helpful, always unloading or reloading the dishwasher, starting a load of laundry, sweeping under the table--whatever needed to be done.  It was wonderful!  Bob thought we should convince her to stay longer, but I didn't think my brother would go for that, LOL.  Having her here, and Amy a few weeks earlier, definitely lifted my spirits during this long winter.
(Is this not the CUTEST picture of Elia and Verity?!)  Both Emily and Elia really enjoyed playing with Verity and holding her (and she of course enjoyed even MORE attention than she normally gets!).  They were both so good with her!  Emily is going to be a fantastic babysitter.  She was always looking out for the little ones, like holding Drew's hand when we were walking, and making sure Verity had a burp cloth or a toy.  By the end of the week, both girls were carrying her around like old pros!
Our last meal together was Saturday night.  It was "Pi Day", so we celebrated with 2 meat pies for dinner, as well as a delicious chocolate pie (made from Pioneer Woman's recipe, except I used semisweet chocolate chips for the chocolate, and an oreo crust) and a brownie dessert pizza with fruit on it.  Yum!
But all good things must end.  We left at 4:00 AM to drive them back to the airport Sunday morning.  The house was very sad when I got back!  Anna kept sighing and saying she wished it was still "yesterday".  There was much talk about moving to Texas.  Everyone is looking forward to this summer and another Grandma/Grandpa camp!

And now the warmer weather and the knowledge that our spring break is just 2 weeks away is giving me something else to look forward to!  We can make it through this year . . .

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Week Later . . .

This morning I was once again over at our morning elementary co-op, in charge of character/game/lunch time.  In a random bit of deja vu, the big van did not start again, but at least this time it had the courtesy to fail right in front of our house, as opposed to at the church, so we were able to switch everything including Verity's car seat base and stroller over to the minivan and only be 15 minutes late.

I was aiding the 3rd and 4th graders this time, instead of the 5th and 6th graders.  There was a child in each class celebrating a birthday, so we got cupcakes first for the 4th graders, then a big frosted cookie with the 3rd graders.  Lots of sugar!  In the 3rd grade class, I told a few girls we did NOT have to play dodge ball for game time, since apparently they play that game *every* time (said with appropriate 3rd grade drama and sighing).  I held firm to that, even though the boys insisted that EVERYone loved dodge ball, and that it is the best game *ever*.  We instead played a few variations of tag.

As co-op was finishing up, one of the 3rd grade girls presented me with the picture above:  "Best Teacher Ever".  I am assuming that this designation was awarded because of my resolve concerning dodge ball.  The ironic thing though?  The artist is the younger sister of the girl who drew me the sad cow picture last week! When I got home, we were laughing at their imagined conversation tonight:

3rd grader:  I had the best teacher ever!  We didn't have to play dodge ball!  She was so great!

5th grader:  Her?!?  She plucks eyes out of innocent cows, leaving them to wander blindly around fields!  She's the WORST teacher ever!

What a difference a week makes!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Needle-Free Birthday!

Yesterday was Luke's big day!  His surgery AND his 16th birthday!  We headed off to Bethesda, getting there at 10:00.  We went to the "same-day procedure check-in desk", and they took us to a little cubicle where Luke donned this stylish outfit.  Then we waited around for approximately forever, twiddling our thumbs.  I read my book and Luke read an old Reader's Digest I had in my tote bag.  The hours rolled past slowly, especially for Luke, since he hadn't had anything to eat or drink since Thursday night before bed.
Around noon they finally took us over to the anesthesia care unit, where Luke got his IV.  The anesthesiologist came out and talked with us.  I did have some questions for her, particularly about why them putting Luke all the way under was better than doing a spinal or something.  She said that with a spinal, you have at least 2 hours of numbness, and you have to stick around until all that wears off, while when you use general anesthesia, you can go under and come back out pretty quickly.  Since it was getting so late, I was okay with not waiting around even longer after the procedure.  The surgeon came out and talked to us, and he looked at the lump above Luke's knee and agreed that it looked pretty obvious where the needle was.  I asked him about trying to get it out with a local, and he did not want to do that.  He said he thought it was still a little deeper than we were thinking from the x-rays, and the local only numbs the surface.  If Luke moved around during the procedure, that would be bad, especially as they were trying to get something so small out.  Well . . . okay, I guess.  We weren't really thrilled about that, but this guy was the head pediatric ortho surgeon, so I guess he knows what he's talking about.

Eventually they took Luke back about 1:40, and I headed off to wait in the surgical waiting room.  I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Lisa Wingate, called The Story Keeper.  It was so good, so the time really flew by.  Also I finally was able to eat my peanut butter sandwich and orange, since I hadn't wanted to eat in front of Luke.  I was so hungry by then!  The doctor came out about 2:20 to say they were done and to hand me the specimen jar with the needle tip in it.  It was a good 1/2 inch!  (You can see it at the bottom of the jar in the picture.)  The surgeon said everything went really well, no surprises, but that they were going to keep Luke in a knee immobilizer until his follow-up appointment 2 weeks later.  Ummm . . . okay.
Not too much later I was able to go back and see Luke, who was looking just fine.  He came out of anesthesia just fine, which was a huge praise.  His leg was bandaged up like a mummy, in a thigh-to-toes ace bandage, and then on top of that, he had this huge immobilizer thing around his knee.  They wheeled him back to the place we started out at, where Luke got dressed again (fitting his sweats over the huge immobilizer) and got his discharge instructions.  I have to say, we were both pretty surprised at the instructions, since they made it seem like he had a major knee surgery, like his ACL repaired, or a knee replacement or something.  The nurse kept telling him he should under NO circumstances bend his knee, and it was so important to keep the ace bandage on for 5 days "to keep the wound together".  He was supposed to wear the immobilizer at all times, even when sleeping, and after 5 days he could take a shower, wrapping the ace bandage (or maybe just the wound itself?  Hard to tell).  There was even a paragraph in the instructions about how he would be referred to physical therapy, where he could start regaining the full range of motion of his knee.  So . . . yeah, that's so not what Luke had done.  Although when he unwrapped the whole thing today, we were surprised to see that the incision was longer than we thought it would be, considering where the lump was.  Still, it's not really any different than what the guy did at the ER when he tried to find the fragment, and there wasn't all this rigamarole after that procedure!  Luke's not going to play basketball tomorrow, but he's also not wearing that crazy knee immobilizer thing either.  And he is just wearing one smaller ace bandage.  He's felt some throbbing, so he's been taking tylenol, but they sent him home with oxycontin!  Good grief!   His follow-up appointment in scheduled for Thursday, March 12.
We (finally) got back home around 5:45.  Nathan and Caleb had kept everything running around the house, giving Verity bottles, changing diapers, etc.  I was very ready to nurse, but I was also glad I didn't have Verity with me.  That would have made for *such* a long day for both of us!  I nursed, frosted a cake, put the toppings on a cheesecake, grabbed a quick bowl of soup, and then we rushed off to Bible study, where we brought dessert to celebrate Luke's birthday.  We brought chocolate cheesecake, a chocolate banana cake, plus M&M bars.  Everything was eaten--we brought nothing home!  At least there was a little birthday celebration on the actual day!  Funny thing--at Bethesda, they ask you for your full name and date of birth pretty much any time anyone comes to talk to you.  So all day long people asked Luke, and he responded with his name and "Feb. 27, 1999".  Only one person looked up and said, "Hey!  It's your birthday!"  Everyone else just checked it off and moved on, LOL.
Luke did get to celebrate a little early.  Wednesday night Bob got tickets to the Capitals/Penguins game, and he took Nathan, Luke, Jonathan, and Caleb and Daniel McC (our Caleb had basketball practice).  The seats were amazing, and everyone had a super fun time!  The McCs gave him a giftcard to Chipotle, his favorite place, plus a bag of peanut M&Ms.  Today we had his birthday dinner, which was chicken packets, cabbage, peas, and fruit salad.  I think we can guarantee this will be a birthday Luke never forgets!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cow Eyes and Vans

Today was an interesting day.  I was over at the elementary co-op all morning, being the "aide".  I led game time, lunch, character time, and prayer request time for the 5th and 6th graders--and I dissected cow eye balls.  That was originally supposed to happen during the anatomy unit on January, but 2 weeks of that unit were cancelled due to snow, so the lady who had planned on doing the dissection hadn't been able to.  Although it turned out she was really very, very squeamish and didn't really think she could do the dissection in the first place!  She asked me if I'd be willing to do it during my aiding time, and of course I was more than willing.

The dissections were really well and were really fun.  I've done a ton of eye dissections, so I'm very familiar with them.  Not to brag, but I'm actually pretty good at leading dissections!  The kids started out thinking it as gross, but by the end they were all really enthusiastic and thought it was all really interesting . . . except one 5th grade girl.  She came into the class with a snotty attitude, telling me her mom had said she didn't have to do the dissection.  I told her no one was really "doing" the dissection except me, since there was only one eyeball per class, so she could just stand back and watch.  Then she told me well, she didn't have to watch either.  Fine, whatever, just sit at a table on the other side of the room and listen.  It's interesting.  That's what she did, and I didn't think anything of it.  Her classmates kept telling her to look at things because they were all so enthralled, but she resolutely faced away from us and wouldn't even turn around.  

She drew a picture while she was sitting there, and she left it there on the table for me.  It was a picture of a cow, with all these little thought balloons around it, saying things like, "I want to keep my eyes, thank you very much", and "Why would anyone want to give up their eyes?"  I was rather irritated because she definitely left the impression that I was going around plucking eyes out of innocent cows, leaving them to wander blindly around the fields.  Instead, I would think eyes would be the possibly most agreeable thing to dissect.  No one is raising cows for their eyes alone, LOL.  Those cows aren't wandering around blindly--they've been turned into hamburger!  If we didn't dissect the eyes, they would just be thrown away.  So after feeling so happy that everyone really learned a lot and were so enthusiastic, her attitude really dampened my mood.  

Then the day sort of went downhill from there.  I got the news that Micah had some trouble with the little tiny potty in the nursery, and somehow he dripped all over his pants when he was peeing.  It didn't even occur to me to pack extra clothes for Micah (although I did for Verity, since she blows out fairly regularly still), so they had to scramble.  They found some small pants, so they put Drew's 3T sweatpants on Micah, and put this camo pair of 18 mo. pants on Drew.  Micah went commando, since I didn't even have extra underwear for him (lesson for next week for sure, LOL).  

We made it out to the big van along with Joel and Elena McC, and . . . . the van wouldn't start.  Verity was crying since she was fried, Micah was wanting his underwear, Drew was fussing about something . . . it was very loud.  We tried jump-starting it, but nothing worked.  Nathan and Isaac had to come rescue us driving both our Sienna and the McC's Sienna, since we didn't all fit in one minivan.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love having the older boys be able to drive?  My feeling of relief when they drove in the parking lot was so huge--the cavalry is here!   

We made it back home an hour late.  Continuing our tradition of having random stressful things happen on days when people visit, we had not one but 2 visitors today!  One was a family considering joining us next year, and the other was one of the writers of Tapestry of Grace, who was sitting in on our dialectic lit class.  Oh well, no need to pretend we have everything together, LOL.  

Bob went back over to the church and rescued the big van.  Somehow the wheels were turned too hard (even though I pulled through the parking space??), and so it was locked or something.  Nothing to do with the battery at all, which was a big relief.  Now I am putting off finishing my prep for my Latin class tomorrow.  I don't want to use my brain any more today--I'm so tired!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Update on Luke

Several people have been asking if there is any news on Luke and his needle fragment.  Luke had his pre-op appointment today.  On Thursday Bob brought home a bunch of magnets from old hard drives at work.  They put them together, and Luke spent some time waving them over his knee, making sure the same pole was always pointing down.  After several hours of that, he could bend his knee again, and you could see a lump under the skin, so it seems like the magnet helped bring it up to the surface.  He and Bob actually went back to the ER at Bethesda Saturday morning, hoping someone would just take it out, since it was obviously so much closer to the surface.  But no one wold touch it, since his case had already been briefed to all the ortho residents, and it was someone else's "baby".  But they did do new x-rays, including one with his knee bent, and then they could see that the fragment is between 2 cm and 1/2 inches long.  Because the new x-rays took so long to get, Bob and Luke had an adventure driving home in a big snowstorm, so that was exciting.

So today they scheduled Luke for surgery on Friday morning.  They'll call us on Thursday morning to let us know exactly what time, but most likely we'll have to arrive between 6:00 and 8:00 AM.  Whee! They are going to try to get it out using local anesthesia, but if they can't get it, then they wiil put him under and try again, so that is why they are doing it in the OR.  Unfortunately the OR is booked until Friday.  By then the fragment will have been in his leg for over a week--and Friday is Luke's 16th birthday.  Happy birthday to Luke!  We are praying they will be able to get it out with the local anesthesia, with a minimum of rooting around in there, so that the recovery time is quick.  He'd really like to be able to play in his basketball game on Sunday, but that may be stretching it.  Thanks for praying.  It's been a wild ride!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Special Visitor!

This past week had its share of bad times (Luke's needle incident, frozen pipes), but it also had some wonderful times!  Amy came to visit!!  It was a late birthday present.  It was going to be a surprise, but she and Bob couldn't figure out how to get her from the airport to our house on Tuesday, so last Wednesday night, she called to tell me she was coming.  And *that* was a big wonderful surprise!  It also explained some minor things, like the end of a conversation Bob had with my mom, where he was laughing and saying something like, "Well, we got that settled in the nick of time" or something.  This was still before my birthday, so I assumed some package was coming, although when nothing came, I never thought again about it because my life is not such that I can just sit around and ponder things, LOL.  Also, Bob had been asking some weirdly detailed questions about my Tuesday teaching schedule for Rivendell.  As it turned out, Amy was scheduled to land during my free period after lunch!

Then weather happened.  It wasn't all that bad here, but the government shut down, so Bob didn't go into work on Tuesday.  Amy's connecting flight from Charlotte ended up getting canceled before she even took off from Ohio, so in one of those rare times where things work in your favor, she snagged the last seat on a direct flight from Dayton to D.C., getting in 2 hours earlier!  Woo-hoo!  And although I was teaching anatomy when she landed, Bob was able to run over and pick her up!  Yay!!
It was such a nice visit.  I will say we didn't really show Amy a good time or anything, though!  I taught Latin on Wednesday afternoon (and Amy watched Frozen with the girls, which made them VERY happy.  They couldn't believe she had *only* seen it once before!)  Thursday morning she made the trek to Bethesda with me for Verity's weight check.  Verity is up to 12.8 pounds, so that's  gain of over a pound, which made the doctors happy.  I still have to go back next Thursday for another weight check to make sure she is maintaining, which did not make ME very happy.  Oh well.  Verity also got shots, which did not make HER very happy, although she seems to have forgiven everyone for the stunning betrayal.

Amy also went with me to Faith's gymnastics class Thursday afternoon.  It's only 45 minutes long, so usually I just sit over there, reading and thinking about stuff I could be getting done at home, LOL.  But this week Amy and I talked the whole time, and believe me, the time has never passed so quickly!
Amy did some waterpainting with the girls, read a ton of books to the boys, and also helped the girls make this quilt!  My mom and dad had given Anna this kit to make it, and I just have not had a big chunk of time to help them get going on it.  But Amy diligently helped the girls tie a million knots, as well as fabric-glue on a bunch of shapes, and the quilt looks so cute!  The girls are enjoying sleeping with it.
It was SO good to see Amy again and catch up!  Before the boys started high school, we used to travel back to Ohio a lot more during the year, but lately we've only been able to make one trip during the summer, and sometimes a trip back for Christmas.  That's not enough time!  Plus, it was a godsend for me personally, to have this visit.  The saying goes, "The days are long, but the years are short", and it's never felt more true.  I have felt like the weeks just bleed into each other, with no break at all.  When I'm done with Rivendell on Tuesday and Latin on Wednesday, then it should sort of feel like the weekend, because I'm done teaching.  But Wednesday night 4 people have basketball practices, taking up the whole evening, Thursdays we're back in our regular homeschool morning routine and Faith has her science/art co-op and gymnastics, plus Luke has basketball, then Friday Caleb and Jonathan have art, Caleb's math class, Faith's swimming lesson, Bible study, then the weekend has 6 basketball games, church, Luke's rocketry team meeting, teen CBS for Nathan and Luke, and I'm prepping for my classes . . . and then the week starts again.

So Amy's visit was a much-needed mental health break for me!  It was very refreshing and encouraging.  And it was lovely that she didn't expect to go sight-seeing every day or actually go out anywhere or do exciting things, LOL.  We just did our usual (busy) routine and hung out together, so that was so relaxing.
Here's one last picture from before I took Amy to the airport on Friday.  The space pajamas that Micah is wearing were a gift from Aunt Amy many years ago, when Nathan and Luke were the ages of Micah and Drew.  They've held up quite well, I would say!  We have a second pair downstairs in a tub, but Drew's too big for them this winter.  So many memories from so many years!  I am SO blessed to have such a wonderful faithful friend for so many years!  Thanks again for the visit, Amy--it was such a blessing!