Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Trash Truck Troubles

When we first moved here last summer, we had to get used to a crazy trash schedule. We've never before lived in the "South", so we have never had trash be picked up twice a week. So the actual trash truck came on Mondays and Thursdays, but then the yard waste truck came Wednesdays, and the recycling truck came Fridays. Yes, we had some sort of trash truck here every weekday except Tuesday! And what was worse was that apparently we were the first neighborhood on their routes, so they would roar up and down the streets at 7:00 in the morning. Jonathan developed a fear of the loud noise, so almost every morning, he would wake up, shaking and crying, "Trash truck! Scares me!!" Not a good way to start the day. Imagine my delight when we found out that our neighborhood association was switching to a different trash company! And then they gave us the schedule--trash pickup on Tuesdays and Fridays, and yard waste and recycling were also on Fridays! Hooray! Except that now we must be the LAST neighborhood on their route, and so they come around 4:00 in the afternoon. Yes! Right in the middle of naptime! Sigh. And the funny thing is that trash turchls don't scare JoOnathan any other time then when he wakes up suddenly by hearingthem. He likes looking at them when we are driving, or watching through the window if they happen to come when he is awake (when they miscalculate, LOL). So I'm hoping he outgrows this little phase. In the meantime, I have decided that we will move him into the back bedroom, opposite Nathan and Luke's, when the new baby comes. Maybe he won't be able to hear the noise in the back of the house!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Back to School (again)

Today we started back to school after taking the month of August off. I am happy to report that I did NOT fall asleep on the couch until after we were completely done with the day's teaching. Math facts and Latin were again a little rusty, but that will come back in a few days. We even had a little interruption of our morning when Nathan happened to glance out of our study window and exclaim, "Hey, there's a turtle in our yard!" He was exactly right, so we all trooped out to study the speciman, who was not all that pleased to see us approach. But he was a good sport, even sticking his head out again and walking more for us. I actually picked him up and moved him when he started to walk too far into the trees--oooh, a brave moment for Mom! We took a picture on the camera and Luke also drew one, so we will be well-armed when we go to the library next and hunt for books on turtle identification. I know it's one of the common ones that we have seen in lakes, but I can't remember the name, and anyhow, it's always great to have another reason to go to the library! Our yard simply isn't a hotspot for turtle life, so I have no idea how this guy ended up here. He disappeared into our tiny stand of trees, but I am assuming he will eventually try to make it down to the creek at the end of our cul-de-sac. And here I was just lamenting our sad lack of science! : )

We have had quite a summer. I sat down with the calender last night and figured out that, if you count next weekend when we will be at White Sulphur Springs for the OCF retreat, we have either been gone or had company at our house for 45 days this summer (starting June 3). I think that's pretty impressive! And I hope to never break that record again, since this summer about killed me. Also, while we were home, we planned and executed a medival feast and, umm, got pregnant. Well! We certainly were busy, weren't we? LOL! I'm looking forward to Fall . . .

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A book review

Last night I read a very interesting book called Giving Birth: A Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives by Catherine Taylor. It was so interesting that I read it all in one sitting, like a novel. The author started researching exactly what contemporary midwives are in America, how thir work settings influence their practice of midwifery, and why America rated pretty low for maternal and infant mortality rates among industrialized nations, even though we spend more per capita on birthing women than any other country. While writing the book, she became pregnant with her second child, so it was also a search for this "perfect' birth experience that she felt she had missed during her first labor (which was with a certified nurse-midwife in a hospital). She shadows several midwives in a hospital setting (in the southwest US), writing about many births, which I always find fascinating. She was surprised to find that although the midwifes seemed to be in charge, in many cases doctors were actually making decisions that the CNMs had to implement. Also, almost all women at this hospital gave birth sitting in a bed with feet out to the side, in stirrups, although they were encouraged to labor in different positions. And most midwifes were not really around much for the labors--just for the actual pushing and delivery. Catherine also visited a birthing center in Taos, NM where she observed more births and found a philosophy a little more to her liking, as far as the midwives really supporting the women and being there, and there being a lot of options for laboring comfort as well as delivery. This center had very low c-section and epidural rates, which the hospital midwives did not. Then she went to some home births, which she decided were the best of all worlds, and she gives a lot of statistics to bolster her case, such as how healthy the babies are, how less-stressed the moms are, etc. Catherine eventually decides this is the way for her, and she has a home birth for her second child. While she is following all these different midwives around, she becomes a doula so she can better assist women at birth, and also actually experience more births. Although the book tries to be pretty even-handed, she is clearly not a big fan of drugs or epidurals. None of the midwives, however, make a big deal of this--they all were very supportive of whatever choices the client made, and like I said, the hospital midwives ended up with a lot of epidurals. She muses about the causes of this--that American women simply are not used to any sort of pain, and will not tolerate it at all, even knowing it has an ending point. Also, that nurses and OBs would rather have thier patients have one so that they don't need to be so involved in the care. Interesting thoughts, but I would love for my sister-in-law to read the book and tell me what she thinks, since she actually IS a labor and delivery nurse! The author never interviewed or shadowed any nurses or OBs, so she was basically just making judgement calls.

Several of the author's points I think depended a lot on personality too. One reason she was dissatisfied with her first birth was that she felt like her midwife wasn't around for it, and she didn't have all the support she needed. I personally have never liked having too many people around me while in labor, so this absolutely was never an issue for me. I like the peace and quiet, and I just read and listen to music. I think it would drive me crazy to have someone hovering around me, offering me "sniffs of peppermint oil" or other things like that to distract me from my contractions! But I can understand that not everyone is as self-focused as I am during labor, and maybe they do need more of that. Also, she really hated it that she didn't have the midwife she saw for her prenatal care deliver her. Well, I have had 4 children now, and I never been delivered by anyone I met before they were peering at me from between my legs! I guess I never expected it or thought it very important who actually caught the baby (good thing, huh!), so I wasn't disappointed. Also, I rarely see the same person for appointments, so it's kind of hard to form any attachments, LOL! Catherine was also bugged when the hospital midwives would take the baby after just 5 minutes on the mother's chest to bath it and clean it up. Well, I don't really like goopy babies, so that was never a problem for me either. Let me deliver the placenta, then bring me back a nice, clean weighed baby! As far as home births go, I would NEVER want to do this--I would never want to deal with all the blood and gunk and dirty laundry! BLEH! Also, the author takes a hilarious set of birthing classes where everyone belly-dances around, then the instructor acts out the story of "the goddess Innanna descending in to the underworld, the tomb and womb of the earth, where she plants seeds of life by giving up her own". LOL! This intructor also makes everyone practice making loud pushing noises by pretending they are mama gorillas. I don't think so! They also have to draw a "landscape of their labor", which is supposed to be a metaphor. Catherine draws a river with rapids that flows through a narrow opening to a wide calm lake. Nice idea, but how exactly does that help? I've made it through 4 completely all-natural labors, and I didn't need any of that weird stuff to help me!

For my first 2 deliveries, in Colorado, I was delivered by certified nurse midwives that I am sure were very similar to the ones she shadowed in the book, although they would not have had all the stresses of dealing with HMOs and the whole managed care system. I was thrilled to not have episiotomies, to not have drugs pushed on me, and to be able to stay in the same room for labor and delivery! It also helped that I stayed home as long as possible before going in. One thing that always bothers me about my births is having to keep the contraction/heart rate monitor on at all times, even though they always said in classes that you could be free to move around. Again, going in late helps with this--you don't feel much like moving anywhere when you are already at least 6 cm dilated! It does make it harder to move into comfortable positions for transition, however, if every time you move, the alarm goes off because the monitor no longer can pick up anything. Grr. Also, I have become trapped in the "only push in a semi-sitting position" way of thinking. When I was in labor with Jonathan, I was laying on my left side when I felt a tremendous urge to push. I told everyone then scrambled to get sitting up while they took off the end of the bed in between contractions! As soon as I sat up, I never had such strong pushing urges again. He was a big baby (9 lb. 6 oz), and it was harder to get him under my pelvis. I think if I had stayed laying down (would they have even let me? No midwives at the big W-P teaching hospital!), I would have pushed in half the time (which was still only about 20 minutes, but that's a lot for #4!).

Well, this was a long review, but it was such an interesting book for anyone who is or ever has given birth, or who just wants to get some perspective on it. I didn't agree with all her conclusions, but the stories were great, and the book made me think. My conclusion was that everyone has such vastly different expectations for birth and ways for coping with pain and childbirth. I'm glad there is no one method forced on women like it used to be, and I am glad that more and more hospitals are becoming less and less invasive and forceful about managing labor, as if it were a disease to cure or something. Thanks for reading this far!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Library Adventures

This afternoon we all went to the library. Normally, I go by myself, as Bob kindly allows that to be my "Mom's Night Out" activity. Hey, it's cheap and fun! But we needed more books, I did my homework ahead of time by finding likely books in the Story of the World Activity Guide, looking them up on the library's website to make sure they had them, and even writing down the call number on them so I could find them right away, so I felt confident we could be in and out with no real problems. Well, Jonathan was a real pistol. For some reason, I did not put him in the stroller, although I did clearly tell him that he needed to stay right by me and be quiet. Somehow, the message wasn't heard though. He did okay for a few minutes, then he started climbing the shelves. That was quickly stopped, so he and Caleb started playing some kind of giggle game, which got loud pretty quickly. Again, that was stopped. Caleb's big thing is that he just wants to touch Jonathan, all the time, preferably around the neck. Of course Jonathan protests loudly, so I had to tell Caleb not to touch Jonathan AT ALL , not even to try to hold his hand. I felt like a circus clown, juggling library books, sending out piercing glares all around, grabbing little boys' shoulders, chins, etc. as need be, all the while there was a constant chorus of "SHHHHHs" from Nathan and Luke. Poor Luke is so mortified by his loud brothers! We finally made it to the end of the juvenile section, but then Jonathan decided to start running from one end of the aisle to the other. So I had to hold him as well as our big sack of books. Finally all we had left was one book for Bob, so we headed over to the adult non-fiction side. I got it and started marching towards the front, naively thinking that everyone was following behind me like little duckings. Then I heard a "thump" and a piercing cry. Jonathan had made a detour to sit on a chair, which he then somehow pulled over on himself, bloodying his nose, and he was now letting everyone know about, right under a big sign that said, "QUIET AREA". Now I was mortified!! I muffled his face against my shirt, but it didn't really make that big of a difference. I kept shushing him, and finally, an eternity later, he calmed down enough that we could walk out and check out. So now I am back to pledging only to go to the library by myself! Library trips should not contribute to ulcer formations!

Family Pictures

We got to Bob's sister Ann's house at lunchtime. One of Bob's brothers, Paul, was also there with his wife and 2 kids, and they had brought Bob's parents down as well. Rose and her 2 girls were also there, so 4 of the 6 siblings were there! It was crowded! Ann has a big house, but she is slowly becoming like her parents by storing incredible amounts of stuff, so there is actuanlly not as much room as you might imagine! (Two entire bedrooms upstairs are filled with stuff so you can't even walk in them.) They had all planned to go to waterpark, but it was cloudy and rainy, so we ended up not doing anything, which was very nice. Bob's family is often under the impression that if you're not going somewhere, then fun must not be happening. As a result, they never have time to just sit and visit, and they are really not very close to each other. Rose brought down an album of old pictures that she put together when she was in high school. They were pictures of Bob's parents and their families, but we didn't know who all the people pictured were, because none of the pictures were labeled. Bob's mom came from a family with 14 kids, and Bob's dad's family had 6 kids, so you can imagine that there are a lot of people that we could tell were related but we had no idea who they actually were! While Jonathan napped and the kids played outside, I sat down with Bob's mom and went through the whole book, labeling all the pictures. She really enjoyed talking about her family and reminiscing about the past, and once we were done, everyone else wanted to go through the book too, so she got to talk about old pictures all afternoon! I felt like I really got a better feel for their families, and hopefully since one book is now labeled, that will help us label all the other pictures back at their house in the attic! The afternoon also gave me a whole new empathy for Bob's mom and for some of the choices she has made. She (Ann) met Bob's dad (Frank) when she was a little girl and their houses' back yards were catty-corner to each other. When she would go out to hang out laundry, they would meet and talk. When he was 16, he enlisted in the Navy during World War II. Somehow during the war, he got hit by shrapnel(?) or something. Anyhow, he got a metal plate in his head, he started drinking, and that has been blamed for a myriad of personal problems of his. When he got back, he was different, but Ann decided that he was the only one she would ever love, so she went ahead and married him, even though there was some opposition from his parents. They moved to NY for a few years, and there their first children were born, Frank Jr. and then Marsha about 18 months later. They then moved back to PA, to the small town where they had both grown up, and as Bob's mom told me Tuesday, "That's when all our troubles started." This next part is something that is never talked about, so we (the siblings and in-laws) have sort of pieced together what must have happened. Apparently Frank started drinking a lot more and getting abusive. Bob's mom was pregnant with her third child, and sometime in the winter she fled to a sister's house back in NY because she was afraid for the baby. She left Frank and Marsha there in PA, probably because she knew that both sets of families were there, and how could she provide for the kids in NY while being heavily pregnant? In March, Frank was in a terrible accident (all we know was there was snow involved, and possibly a milk truck, but we do not know if he was drinking or not). Frank Jr. and Marsha were both killed, and Bob's dad spent several months in the hospital. In the photo album, there are pictures of Frank and Marsha with Santa the December before they were killed. Frank is 3, and Marsha is 18 months. They are so cute, and it just really hit home that they were the same ages as Caleb and Jonathan are now. I really can't fathom how Ann survived that and was able to stay married to Frank, but it was not because of strong support from either their church (they are Catholic) or either set of parents. A priest told her that she had to stick with Frnak no matter what he did, and I think implied that the kids died because she left. This makes it clear why, although Frank continued to drink and yell and be mean throughout even Bob's childhood (he's the youngest), she never again left. Howe could you, if you at all thought it was your fault your first children were killed because you had left before? Also, in the album there are pictures of Bob's dad's childhood but none of Ann's. I asked about this and she said it was because after she "lost her kids", her mother gave everything that was hers (pictures, school papers, etc.) that was back at her parents' house to one of her brothers, and she never saw any of it again. Can you believe that? Basically they thought it was her fault too. I can't imagine living under that load of guilt all my life, and since the church also gave no support, it is easy to see why she has no real relationship with the Lord now. Like I said before, this whole situation is never discussed, and we may never know exactly what happened. But it is very easy to see the fruits of it in how both of Bob's parents have lived and have treated their sons- and daughters-in-law. I always wonder how they would be if the accident hadn't happened, but as Aslan says, "No one is ever told what might have been". To wrap things up, Bob's mom gave birth to Bob's now oldest sister Ann in May, still in NY, and then a few months later she came back to PA. They had 5 more children and have been married for hmmm. . . I know I'll get this wrong . . . . over 50 years, for sure, closer to 60. I would imagine 58 years, but they have not been what I would call happy years. There is a lot of bitterness still there, although they coexist and would find it hard to survive without the other. I am so thankful that Bob is committed to not being like his dad, and I am even more thankful that the Lord found him while he was at the Academy, so now he has the power to actually be different.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Beach Trip

Well, as I said in my lsat post, our trip to VA Beach started out pretty inauspiciously. Bob's sister Rose and her 2 girls came down Saturday afternoon for a night on their way down to Ann's house in Richmond. We had a good afternoon with them, but we didn't really figure out how Sunday was going to work before we went to bed. Because of various miscommunications and differing expectations, we ended up going to church (without Rose), but leaving early to get back here to say goodbye to her before she left. We were not at all packed up to leave, so we followed about an hour later, at 1:00. We were supposed to stop at Ann's house, but tensions were pretty high in our vehicle, so we decided just to go straight to the beach. We got to Fort Story at 5:30. We stayed at the Cape Henry Inn, in a cottage, which is the third picture on the main webpage. (There are 3 cottages attached in a row.) Our cottage was very nice--2 bedrooms, bath, full kitchen, and a nice living'dining area--all for $100 a night! It was technically right on the beach, but you couldn't just walk out to the beach from our deck. There was a wide strip of trees, scrubby bushes, etc. (which I know are very heathly for beaches, prevent errosion, etc.!), but that meant we had to hike down a ways to a long boardwalk which then finally took us to the beach. But we had a great view from our cottage, and we got to see lots of big Navy ships go by and also anchor right outside. But I am getting distracted--on with the narrative. So we unpacked and then talked about dinner. We almost decided to order pizza there in the room, but we ended up leaving to seek our mealtime fortunes off post. We had a pull-out map of VA Beach,so we figured we would find tons of restaurants. The main strip is 3 miles away from Ft. Story, so we headed over there, then picked a main road and turned on it, away from the Strip, figuring restaurants would be cheaper and not as crowded there. We drove for a while but didn't see anything, so we turned again, paralleling the Strip, then finally back towards the Strip, then finally back on the Strip itself. There were no recognizable restaurants. We looked in every little strip mall for pizza places, but all we could find were carry-out places. Everyone was so hungary by now, since it was almost 7:00. There were lots of trendy restaurants on the Strip, places I would normally avoid like the plague, but at these we could find no parking. Tensions were again quite high. Finally, at almost 8:00, we ended up eating at McDonalds, which was certainly not the hot, cheesy, pizza I was hoping for. At that point, I was firmly convinced that I hated not only beaches in general, but also any populated area surrounding beaches, as well as greedy developers who only put up condos but no normal restaurants, like Chilis or Applebees. We limped back to the room and put everyone to bed.

Monday dawned sunny and beautiful. We ate breakfast, then packed everything up for our day at the beach. The beach at Ft. Story turned out to be a wonderful place. It was not crowded at all, and only families were there--no perky college girls in teeny tiny bikinis or anything. Jonathan began his first beach visit in the same way that Luke and Caleb did when we used to visit the L's down in Florida--he absolutely hated the sand and wouldn't put his feet on it. He did condescend to sit on a towel an eventually play in it, but there was no way he was going in that water! The other boys started building a sand fort (of course). The water was nice and warm, and so eventually I moved my chair up so my feet were in the water. Finally Joanthan decided he disliked being back alone under the umbrella even more than he disliked the sand, so he managed to walk up to where we were, all of about 4 feet away. Oh, the torture! Then he discovered that the wetter sand, which was firmer and not so hot, was really not that bad at all, so he started playing there. A few waves went over his toes, and then he finally decided that wasn't so bad either, and he even let Bob take him into the water to swim! He ended up loving the beach, a much quicker transformation than either Luke or Caleb at his age! Surprisingly, I loved the beach too. I thought I would read the whole time, but I just enjoyed sitting there, watching the waves and everyone play. I even swam in the ocean! There was no nasty sea slime or jelly fish or anythng else like that to make me grossed out! LOL! I took a nice walk by myself along the beach, and I found several beautiful horseshoe crab shells. The highlight of the beach was definitely seeing dolphins. The website said that this beach has "ten times more dolphins that anywhere else on the East Coast", and I would believe them. We saw tons of dolphins--big pods of about 14 or so, as well as small groups of just 2 or 3, gracefully swimming up and down the beach. Sometimes they even came inside the buoys marking where people could swim, so they really were close! I took some pictures, but I am sure you will not be able to see a single thing, so you will just have to trust me--they were really neat! We went back for lunch around 1:00, then eveyrone rested for a little while. Jonathan, Caleb, and I stayed back, while Nathan, Luke, and Bob went back for a few more hours in the afternoon. It was low tide then, and they even caught a blue crab! They put it back since 1. we don't like crab, and 2. even if we did, there's no way I'm boiling something alive! Bleh! Everyone showered, and we tackled the dinner problem again. Vowing to learn from our mistakes, we searched through a coupon book and found a likely candidate for pizza. Armed with this address, we set out. Ironically, it was just a lot furthur down on the first road we turned on. We just panicked and turned agian too soon! We found tons of places to eat. In fact, when we got to the shopping center where the pizza restaurant was, there was an Old Country Buffet there too. We decided the pizza place looked kind of like a hole in the wall, and there was no one in there, so we ate at the buffet. Hey, you get dessert there! We had a great dinner, more than making up for McDonalds the previous night, and it turned out that Monday is "Flurry night" there. So we all except Caleb enjoyed flurries. Mine was made with chocolate ice cream and Heath bar pieces, and it was absolutely delicious. Bob claims his which had Nestle's Crunch bar with chocolate ice cream and some hot fudge sauce was better, but don't believe him. LOL! They were all good, especially since you could put a lot of whatever additive you picked in, so it wasn't like you got to the bottom and there were no Heath bar pieces left! We finally rolled ourselves out of there, back to the cottage and into bed. The boys were so exhausted, we heard nary a peep from them the whole night. We got up the next morning, and it was a gray, drizzly day. We were so thankful that the Lord gave us beautiful weather for our day at the beach! We packed up and checked out at 11:00. Then we drove off to Bob's sister Ann's house in Richmond, where a lot of his family had gathered. That is for another entry however, since this one is quite long! We are already making plans to go back down to VA Beach, since we didn't do any sightseeing. There are a lot of naval museums that looked so interesting, as well as boat tours to take you around the Norfolk harbor to see all the big Navy ships. The rates really go down at the Cape Henry Inn after Sept. 14, so maybe we'll go after that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

We're Back!

This is just a quick entry to let everyone who cares know that we made it back safely from our trip to VA Beach and Richmond. We ended up having a good time at VA Beach, although it definitely started out rough, and we had a good visit with Bob's family in Richmond. But I am SO glad to be back home. The boys are really tired, and so are we. In fact, Bob is already upstairs in bed, which is where I am off to as well! I will write more details tomorrow!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Short History

My Aunt Claire had this open tag yesterday, and I thought I would do it too. I've seen it on a lot of other people's blog, but I don't have any other deep thoughts coming right now, and I am pretty obsessive about remembering things, so . . .

10 years ago I was... in a temporary apartment in Colorado Springs. We moved there right after I graduated from college, and we were waiting for our house to be finished. We moved in in September. Our apartment was SO hot (no A/C of course), and we only had one car, so sometimes Bob would drop me off at my grandma and grandpa's house so I could spend the day at their "day camp"! LOL! It was air-conditioned there!

5 years ago I was... living at the Air Force Academy while Bob was as AOC. I only had 2 boys, and we were waiting to hear where we would be transferred to in about 6 months (ended up being "home" to Ohio!). We worked with a sqadron of basic cadets that summer through the Chapel SPIRE program--we really got close to those cadets, and I htink we had a positive impact in their lives during that very difficult summer for them. I would email their parents after each meeting, and so I also got to be close to their parents too.

1 year ago I was... furiously unpacking boxes and trying to settle in here in VA. We moved here in July, so while the big stuff was put away, there were lots of little things left to unpack and find places for (or finally just ignore and put back down in the basement). I was looking forward to my best friend Amy coming out with her 2 boys to visit us over Labor Day!

Yesterday I... helped the boys clean to get ready for Rose's visit. I also helped Nathan make blueberry oatmeal muffins and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (can you tell we buy oatmeal in bulk at Sam's?). I did very little though; he did most of it. I also took a nap on the couch, and we went to Bible study and stayed really late, which made Jonathan really crabby today!

5 snacks I enjoy are... Peppermint Patties, peanut butter cups, ice cream, Oreos, and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.

5 songs I know all the words to... well, pretty much any VeggieTale song, "Don't Fence Me In", "Red River Valley", any song from Third Day's "Offering II" album, ummm, I actually know tons of songs because we listen to stuff in the car. Right now I am stuck on the silly lyrics from Beethoven's Wig I and II , which are set to famous pieces of classical music. The boys love these, and frankly, so do I.

5 thingsI would do with 100 million dollars... pay off a house "somewhere" (still not decided on that dream location; see last post! LOL!), travel on that really nice train with the dome tops through Banff Park up in Canada, give lots of money to pro-life causes, Compassion International, and tons of other organizations we support but that always need so much more, invest (Bob would be crazy with happiness, having that much money to play around with!), and last but not least, I would hire my own personal masseuse to come to my house weekly (every other day maybe?), and then maybe I wouldn't have such shoulder problems!

5 places I would run away to.... Colorado--ahhhh, I like just running there in my mind; back to Ohio to see my family and Amy, on an Alaskan cruise, and to England and Ireland. I would LOVE to visit there,

5 things I would never wear... a bikini or anything that showed my belly, since I am the queen of stretch marks, anything tie-dyed (it's just not me), those pants that are really wide-legged--I look goofy in those; hmm . . . most of the stuff I see advertized for young women today. I'm so glad I have all boys!

5 favorite tv shows... Design on a Dime. That's the only one I watch on any kind of a regular basis. I didn't grow up with TV, and it simply isn't a big temptation for me. Books, on the other hand . . .

5 bad habits... snacking when feeling down, not wanting to get up early (even when not pregnant!), not wanting to try new things, being over-critical, and hogging the computer (the last one was courtesy of Bob, who is ready to get on here!)

5 biggest joys....my relationship with the Lord; my wonderful family, immediate and extended; reading a really good book and getting to talk about it with someone who has also read it; planning something and having it go off with no hitches or things forgotten; and losing weight after pregnancy and being able to fit in clothes again!

5 favorite toys.... my computer? I can't really think of anything here. I need more hobbies, I guess. Books aren't really "toys".

5 people I tag to do this (if they'd like to)...no, I know most everyone else has already done this. I just like talking about myself! LOL! Just kidding!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Country Mouse/ City Mouse

Today Dy, over at Classic Adventures (a blog I read but which isn't listed on my sidebar because, well, I have never updated that since the day I actually "made" it. Maybe I should make time for that sometime!), anyhow, Dy wrote about how their offer on a house and land in Huntsville was finally accepted after a huge long involved story and after many months of househunting.The property sounds wonderful, and that has really gotten me thinking. Here's how she describes it:

As for the property itself, it's much smaller than we thought we would be
willing to buy. But it captured our imaginations. It captured the boys'
imaginations. From the moment we set foot over the creek, the boys took off and
had a fantastic time among the rocks and trees. It was the only property we
looked at that the boys specifically remembered, and cited things they loved
about. Even Zorak's eyes sparkled when he saw the creek, and the trees, and the
fruit trees, and the tree fort, and, and, AND!!! WOW. So, it's our own little
six acres in the boonies. It has the stream, some texture and slope to the land,
some open and some wooded. It has everything you'd need to really make an
adventurous childhood come to life. We're five miles from good hunting, two and
a half miles from a boat launch. It's a two mile trek to a little cafe and a
small market, but we aren't en route to anywhere at all, so the traffic is
nominal down our little country road.

Doesn't it sound great? Bob and I are always debating about what kind of a place we want when we retire. He wants a lot of land in the middle of nowhere, but I am always firmly on the side of staying in a subdivision. My arguments are along the lines of: I like having neighbors, so when we go away for a few days, they can pick up our mail instead of us always having to stop it, I like being able to take walks on sidewalks in a neighborhood, the boys like riding their bikes in the cul-de-sac, who wants to shovel a long driveway of snow (not an issue in Alabama, I know!), I don't WANT to be out in the middle of nowhere, etc. But when I read Dy's descripiton of her land, I thought, wow, the boys would LOVE a place like that. They would probably not even miss riding their bikes. They would be outside ALL of the time! And it's not even like I really socialize all that much with our neighbors. We do chat if we're outside at the same time, but except for Pam in Colorado, I've never had the kind of neighbor where we pop into each other's house and drink coffee together. (Maybe the problem is I don't drink coffee at all! LOL!) So I probably wouldn't miss the social aspect as much as I think I would. Being here in D.C. has given me a new perception of distance. There is Food Lion, which is close, but Sams is about 10 minutes away (and believe me, that IS close!), and the commissary is a good 35 min., if not longer in traffic. At least country roads pretty much always take the same time to travel, since you're not dealing with the vagaries of traffic. Hmmm. Definitely stuff to think about. Actually right now, I'm about ready to sign up for any amount of land any distance away from civilization, if it gets us out of D.C.! I'm fed up with the military medical system (but that's another post), and how far all that stuff is from us. As Bob always says, "We'll see what God has in mind."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Not Much Getting Done Around Here . . .

We've sort of unofficially called a break from school until after we get back from VA Beach and Richmond next week. We've TRIED to do school lately--it just hasn't worked out. We started doing school when we got back from Rose's house. Everything went fine at first--we read our Bible story, prayed for the country from Operation World, and started reviewing Latin. Then I realized I would be ever so much more comfortable lying on my side on the couch. Then I propped my head up on a pillow. Finally I had to tell everyone to go read books, and I promptly fell sound asleep. Yesterday I had the best of intentions, but after I cleared breakfast away and checked email, I discovered everyone quietly absorbed in books, even Jonathan. So I lay down on the couch and took a nap. Is there a pattern here? LOL! Today I didn't even try! Nathan and Luke start Upward soccer tonight, so Nathan wanted to do some jogging and exercising this morning. All the boys ran around the cul-de-sac a bunch of times and did their sit-ups, push-ups, and stretches, then we all came inside and did leg-lifts straight from the Buff Moms-To-Be book that I got out of library. (Disclaimer about the book: it is filled with pictures of extremely pregnant models doing the exercises wearing regular exercise clothes. By that I mean, just jog bra-type tops. The bellies are quite a shock! I don't even like seeing my OWN very pregnant belly in the mirror, much less someone else's, complete with linea nigra down the front!!!! ACK!) Then I rode the exercise bike for 20 minutes. It seems that the only way I can stay awake in the morning is if I am doing some kind of exercising! Meanwhile the boys have been doing other things, like making stuff with clay, painting, doing puzzles, and playing games. Nathan even wrote a letter yesterday, of his own free will and idea! And they're reading a lot. Nathan is into these "Trailblazer" books that I found at the Ashburn library when I was there Monday night for a science fair meeting. They are Christian books, historical fiction, built around the lives of famous Christians. So right now Nathan is reading Traitor in the Tower , which is about a boy who meets John Bunyan. They seem pretty exciting, and I have seen others recommend them on the WTM Board, but I have never seen them before. Luke just finished reading the second book in the My Father's Dragon series. It's called Elmer and the Dragon. This is the first series of books that he has really gotten into. They're older books, but amazingly I never read them when I was little! Well, off to fight the daily battle of "what do we have for lunch". Sandwiches are really not cutting it right now for me, so every lunch is a big struggle. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We're in the system

Well, I finally made it into the clinic to take the "official" pregnancy test, and it was indeed positive. If the military deems me pregnant, then you know it must be so! Today we ran all our errands, since Nathan was feeling better. First we went down to the clinic to pick up Caleb's prescription refills and take said pregnancy test. That actually turned out to be a bigger hassle than I thought it would be. Here, you can't just walk into the lab and give a specimen--you have to be referred by a doctor! How ridiculous, since they don't have any OB services here, and it's not like that would count for your first appointment. So they told me to go to the nurses station. We all trooped over there, and she made me a "walk-in" appointment for noon, and told me to check in at the front desk, then come back to the nurses' station. After doing that, I finally was given a cup. We all went over to the lab bathroom, and there I tried to figure out how to give a specimen with all the boys there. I finally just turned them all around facing the wall and told them to give me some privacy! Nothing like peeing into a cup in front of an audience! So then we went back to the nurses' station, where the lady told me to eat lunch, then come back in for my results. I really didn't feel like doing that, so we just went back over to the lab to see when the results would be back. Hey, they were already back! So we went back to the nurses' station, since the lab can't give out results. Of course not! After finding out (surprise!) that it was positive, the lady asked me what I wanted to do about my care, now that I was "in the system". They could refer me to Bethesda (which is closest, at about 45 minutes away with no traffic), or they could send me down to Ft. Belvoir, which is really far, but that is the place you must go through if you want to try to get approval to be seen at an off-base, civilian facility. So we went with option B, and now Bob has to try to get the powers-that-be to release me. Hopefully they will be merciful and not make someone pregnant with her 5th child go 45 minutes away for all her appointments! Not to mention the risk of delivering on the Beltway. After all that was taken care of, we had to wait again so they could give me my prenatal vitamins. Then we went to Wendy's for lunch, then off to Ft. Myer to get gas (only $2.41 there!) and go to the commissary. We left the house at 11:00, and we finally returned at 4:15. Whew. The boys were a huge help unloading, and now we are going out to Lone Star Steakhouse for dinner. We have heard rumors that kids eat free on Tuesday nights, and we have a coupon for Bob and me. Then I am sure I will collapse in bed.

Monday, August 15, 2005

High gas prices? Who cares!

So gas is up to $2.70 a gallon here in D.C. People are talking about ways to save gas, etc. What are we doing about it? We are doubling the amount of big trips we take! We're gone every weekend! That will show them--we LAUGH in the face of high gas prices! LOL! On the downside, though, all this traveling is taking a toll on us. In brief, we had a good time at Rose's, although I must confess that I am not really a "lake water" person. The boys' aqua socks smelled so incredibly nasty when we got home, I could barely get them out of the bag to dry. Bleh. Plus, Luke and I saw a water snake, which didn't make me more eager to go in. I actually dreamed about water snakes last night, so it obviously made a big impression! Rose has tons of fun stuff--it was like a paradise for kids. She had a trampline in the yard, as well as a water trampoline out in the lake with a slide as well. She has a paddle boat, and a sailboat, a swingset, and tons of other yard toys for the boys. They were totally exhausted when we got back late Wednesday, as was I. Then on Saturday we drove to Idlewild, the little amusement park near Bob's parents' house. Since it was the day of Bob's dad's compnay picnic, it was again absolutely jam-packed. I thought it was hot the last time we were there, but I was wrong--it was only warm. Saturday was BOILING. I thought I was going to melt. I could hardly walk around. We went through "Storybook Forest", which at least was somewhat shady, and then we spent the rest of the time in the pool with several thousand close strangers. We drove up and back on Saturday, so that was about 7 hours of driving for about 7 hours of being there. Hmmm. Then on Sunday we drove south of D.C., a little over an hour away, to go to an open house that some good friends were hosting. They moved here in June and had their 3rd baby a week later, so this was a celebration of the baby's baptism, plus just a time for everyone to see their house. Tim and Michele have such wonderful families. Tim is from California, but both of his brothers came, as well as his parents. I hope that our boys are close like that when they grow up. It was obvious that all 3 brothers have fond memories of growing up together, but also have deep relationships as adults, and their families are all close too. All of the sister-in-laws get along really well too. What a great testimony! Michele is from Wisconsin, and all of her family came as well, including cousins. We also got to see some other people that we have been stationed with before, which was a lot of fun. It's always great to catch up with old friends, so we stayed a long time and got back around 5:30. We were so exhausted, so Joanthan and I napped until 7:00. That will throw off an evening! Nathan woke up early this morning feeling sick to his stomach and vomiting, and now he's started with diarhhea. We had planned to go pick up Caleb's prescription refills and then go on to the commissary today, but we obviously are not going to be able to do that. I am really hoping we will be able to do that tomorrow though. Hopefully everyone will be feeling fine by Friday when Rose and her girls get here. They'll be here until Sunday, at which point they will drive down to Bob's sister's house in Richmond, and we will drive down to Virginia Beach for 2 days. Then we will meet up back at Ann's house for 2 more days, since Bob's brother and family, as well as Bob's parents, are going to be there. Then we will be home for a week, until we go to White Sulphur Springs for the Wright-Pat OCF retreat. THEN we should be home for awhile--and I am fully expecting gas prices to drop like a rock then.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's official . . .

Our alarm system is possessed. We have a nice, nifty alarm system which we have never really used except that it beeps whenever a door or window is opened. This is very handy because I can always tell when one of the boys goes outside. But we have never paid to have it monitered. We were going to, when we first moved in, but the company who had been monitoring it for the people we bought the house from told us that our system was "outdated" and wouldn't work anymore. Since the previous owners had been paying for it, we figured the company was just out to get more money from us, so we said no thanks and thought that was the end of that. Several months ago now, we accidentally pushed the "panic" button, so our alarm went off. We managed to get it turned off, but imagine our surprise when a police officer showed up a few minutes later! We told him it was just an accident, but we were surprised to see him since no one was monitering our system! He said someone WAS monitering our system, so the next day we called the company again to say we were not paying for the service and they weren't supposed to be monitering us. They assured us that it was all taken care of, so again we assumed that was the end. On Sunday night, Bob and I were just sitting aorund when all of a sudden, out of the clear blue sky, our alarm went off! Bob's first thought was that we were being broken into, although the alarm wouldn't have gone off in that case, since it wasn't armed, but he ran around down in the basement trying to see what was wrong. Finally he came back up and turned the noise off, and we sat back down again, shaken. I got ready to go upstairs, and as I went up, I noticed a fire truck pullin gup in front of our house! Oh no! So Bob went out and talked to tehm, telling them that 1. we have NO idea why our alarm even went off, and 2. WE AREN'T PAYING FOR ANYONE TO MONITOR THE SYSTEM!!! So that was actually our FIRE alarm, as opposed to our burglary alarm, but our smoke detectors never went off, and we checked around but never found anything suspicious. By then we were really shaken, and I didn't sleep well at all that night, especialy after we noticed that now a mysterious red light was on on our control panel and on the fire alarm monitor in the upstairs hallway. Monday Bob again called the company and threatened to send any bills we get from the county straight to them, and they again assured us that everything was taken care of. When we got back from Rose's yesterday, the control panel was beeping at us, so it might have gone off again while we were gone, but our door wasn't broken down, so I guess no one responded this time! Then this afternoon, again while I was just sitting on the couch, the alarm went off. I had to call Bob to figure out how to turn it off. Nobody came or called, so that is good, but now the question remains: why is it randomly going off?! It is SO loud and so startling. I am ready to smash the whole thing to pieces, that is for sure. Bob has his own consipiracy theory--the monitoring company is making it go off so we decide that we really DO need them after all! I'm thinking maybe a short or something? Who knows? Who do you even call for things like that? Frustrating!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Prayer Request

Well, I am too tired to do anything about pictures--that will just have to wait. My massage was actually not as relaxing as I had hoped. I have been having a lot of problems lately with my right shoulder and neck, so I was hoping to really have that worked on. When I got there, the lady asked me if I was pregnant, and when I said yes, she got very concerned. "Oh, no! Well, that's wonderful of course, but there are times when massage is contra-indicated in pregnancy." I was surprised to hear that, since I've had massages through all my other pregnancies, and in fact, they are quite recommended. So she went off to consult with her higher-ups (this is a student massage clinic for a massage therapist school). After a phone call, she came back in to tell me that we were fine, but she would have to stay away from all the dangerous pressure points for pregnancy. I said, "Like the one in your ankles?", since that's the only one I've ever heard of. She said, "Also one between your thumb and first finger, and all the ones in your neck and shoulders. " Ack! That's why I came in! I have NEVER heard of anything in your neck having anything to do with pregnancy, but she did the whole massage without touching my neck, shoulders, or the lower part of my legs down to my feet. So I guess my next course of action will be to go to someone who does pregnancy massage, but I'm sure that will cost an arm and a leg. Crazy.

Anyhow, about the prayer request--we leave tomorrow afternoon to drive up to Bob's sister's house, along with another of Bob's sisters. It will be crowded in the old minivan! It's about a 5 hour drive. She has a custody meeting? hearing? or something big on Tuesday. It's the last time for her and her lawyer and Chuck and Chuck's lawyer to get together with a mediator to try to work out the custody issues. The next step will be a real hearing in front of a judge, and he will judge everything. There are still a lot of issues, and I know it will be a very tense, hate-filled room Tuesday morning. Please pray that what is best for the girls will be done, and that both sides will be willing to compromise reasonably to ensure that happens. Chuck has not so far been willing to compromise or be reasonable on really anything, and he, his girlfriend, and his mother have all been harassing Rose, even threatening her. I'm going to stay at her house Tuesday with our kids and hers, so we won't actually be there, but Bob will. I'll just be praying furiously from afar that Satan will not triumph anymore in this horrible situation.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Medieval Feast, Finis Est.

In other words, the feast is over! And it was a big success too! We had very little food left over, always a sign of a good party. We had 14 kids, 2 teenagers, and 11 adults, so it was a full house, especially when it was full of rampaging knights (we had 9 knights and 5 fair maidens). We started the kids off decorating their crowns with "jewels" and glitter glue, since I knew they would take awhile to dry. Then everyone put on the capes I had made (a big hit), and we went outside to play games. First, they shot lima beans at a cardboard castle I made (not the big one we spent tons of time on--that's a different castle!). They used the catapults I made from toilet paper rolls, cardboard, and skinny leastic. They worked pretty well, although eventually the boys got tired of just sieging the castle, and so they attacked it with swords. Then we played a game straight out of one of the library books on medieval times that we got out. One person stands in the middle of a circle and closes his eyes and says this chant:

Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe, fix it up and make it new. One, two, three, four stitches will do."

While he is saying this, the kids are passing around, behind their backs, a shoe. When he stops, they stop passing it, and then he has to guess who has the shoe. It was fun, but we didn't play too many rounds because were were melting in the humidity, plus it was time to eat. Everyone chowed down on the chicken legs, veggie platter, cheese cubes, bread slices, and grapes and melons. Then we had to shoo all the knights outside to run around because things were getting hairy inside. They ran around for quite awhile out there. We kept seeing flashes of purple (the capes) go past the front door. When they came in, we ate our gingerbread and lemon squares for dessert. They played some more, the adults visited, and people left around 9:15. Then it was bathtime for our stinky boys! It was a really fun time, and now I am so exhausted! We took some pictures with our digital camera, and maybe we'll try to post them tomorrow, but not right now--I can hardly type straight! You would not believe how many times I have had to go back and correct things tonight! Tomorrow afternoon I have a massage scheduled at the massage school nearby, so hopefully I'l be nice and relaxed tomorrow night and ready to learn the new skill of posting pictures!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Demotivating Clutter

Here are a couple of web sites for you to check out. The first is The Demotivators Collection , filled with demotivating slogans and pictures that mimic those cheesy inspirational posters with soaring nature themes or whatever that now litter all sorts of buildings, even the WPAFB Medical Center. They are pretty funny, if you are the least bit cynical, and you can get calendars, posters, mugs, t-shirts, etc. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Change--When the winds of change blow hard enough, even the most trivial of things can turn into deadly projectiles.

Mistakes--It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

Futility--You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and, statistically speaking, 99% of the ones you do.

Pessimism--Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightening kills hundreds of people each year who are trying to find it.

Underachievement--The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the lawnmower.

And my new personal motto (LOL!)

Risks--If you never try anything new, you'll miss out on many of life's great disappointments.

The second site is one I found today after someone on the WTM board asked about it. It's pictures of a house that is absolutely filled with stuff that a woman has bought off of Ebay. Her college-aged son is documenting it, but to be honest, this is where I think my in-laws would be if they could buy stuff off the internet and have it shipped to them. As it is, they are limited to what they can actually bring home in their car, but their house looks a lot like the pictures where there aren't any boxes, but there are tons of knicky-knacky things all over every conceivable surface, plus no floor space for walking. They also buy lots of food from the dollar store that is now expired, and they, likewise, never throw it away. In fact, the picture of the dining room table there looks amazingly like their table, which is actually a pool table, even down to the expired boxes of marshmallow peeps. I am told that at one time, people ate big meals at this pool table, but now there are so many layers of junk that that would be impossible, so I have never had that experience. There is also a picture where he says that his mother fell onto a chair trying to open a window or something, and I am surprised that my in-laws haven't fallen yet. For example, there is just a narrow pathway to their stairs because at the foot of them they have, in several layers, a few bookcases with pictures and knick-knacks that you can't really see because they're too far back, a chair, an end table, and at the very back, an old huge console record/8-track player. It would be so easy to trip and go crashing into that stuff. I always worry about the boys falling. All this stuff is why we no longer stay at their house when we visit--we simply do not fit. They have a hard time understanding this though, and are always making a big deal about us staying in a hotel. I think that if this a problem, though, you can't be helped unless you admit it is a problem, and they certainly aren't there yet. This lady lives in Fulsom, so maybe your parents were neighbors, Mel? LOL!! I don't think so! Just looking at the site made me want to rush through my house and throw stuff, anything--everything!--away! I will NOT end up like this!!! LOL!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

White House Tour

On Saturday, Bob, Nathan , and Luke had the opportunity to take a tour of the White House. A friend of a friend set up the whole thing, which is quite a hassle now, due to all the security measures since 9/11. I remember just standing in a huge long line snaking for a block or 2 with my family when I was in jr. high (with Mom talking about zoos and USAFA to strangers. LOL!!!), but all that is no more. Now you have to apply about 6 months in advance, then you have to send in names, SSNs, birthdates, etc. for everyone in the party. You get a specific time to come in, and then once you have gone through the security checkpoint, you are basically on your own. It's a self-guided tour! There are lots of Secret Service people in the various rooms to answer questions, but they don't volunteer information.

Nathan is going to be our guest blogger today, telling you his impressions of the President's house. First off, he said it was very big. It was also very colorful--lots of colorful rugs, furniture, and wall coverings--and there were also a lot of lights, like chandeliers and big candles. Nathan liked the East Room, which was where they have balls and ceremonies, because it was so very big. It was also pretty much empty, except for some carpets. This was also Luke's favorite room because it had a really big chandelier and also a big picture of George Washington. That is the famous picture that Dolley Madison saved when the British burned the White House down in 1814. The Blue Room was very nice and colorful, especially because of all the gilded furniture in there. One really neat thing they experienced was the President flying overhead in his helicopter, getting back from his physical! It's not the same as meeting him, but it's still a lot closer than most of us will get to the President! Overall, Nathan said it was an interesting tour, and he was glad he got to go.

As they were going through with Christine (the friend) and her 2 oldest kids (I kept her youngest and our youngest at our house) , they were telling the boys about how Washington did not want to live in a mansion, like the king of France (there was a picture of Versailles on display), but he did want it to be a house that commanded respect for the position. At that point, a complete stranger walked up and said, right in front of all the boys, "I don't know why you're bothering to tell them all that. They'll never remember any of it. I have 2 teenagers, and they don't remember anything they've ever learned." Bob and Christine just sort of stared, open-mouthed, at her rudeness, and she walked off, but I really thought that was absolutely amazing! I'm sorry she didn't make history very interesting for her kids, but that doesn't mean that everyone else is repeating her mistakes! on the same note, we went out to Chevy's on Monday night (kids eat free then!!), and Nathan said, "Hey look! They have decorated the walls with images of the Mayan sun god!" I turned to Bob and said, "Hey, I thought they would never remember anything I taught them!"