Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Limping Along

That's kind of what I feel like we're doing right now--limping along. It turned really hot last weekend, and our upstairs air conditioner has a hard time keeping up. We knew this was a problem from last year, so we're deciding if we need to have it replaced. Someone is coming out to look at it June 6 (2 days earlier than originally scheduled due to a cancellation, but still far off, it seems!). We all camped in the basement last night, where it is definitely NOT hot.

Some kind of bug has gotten us as well, and I'm wondering if it might not be strep. Caleb, and to some extent Jonathan, have been complaining over the past several days that their "foreheads" were hurting, and also their neck/throat/teeth area. It's hard for Jonathan to be very specific, so that's why I didn't take it all very seriously. I was prepared to make a dentist appointment for him, but last night MY throat starting hurting, I had a big headache, and my neck glands were quite swollen. Hmm . . . mybe this IS something to be concerned about after all! So tomorrow I will call the clinic starting at 6:00 to see if I can get 5 appointemnts for strep cultures, since I figure if one has something, everyone has been exposed. We are terrible about sharing glasses, etc. But I digress. It would be too easy for the clinic to just let everyone get cultured. No--we all have to have appointments. Grr. Looks like we'll be spending the day in Fairfax, if we're lucky and can even GET appointments!

Since I'm not feeling well, for dinner tonight I am pulling out my secret weapon--chicken soup from Michele S.! She brought a big bag of soup over when we had our open house back in April, and I've been waiting for the time when I felt most needy to actually use it! It's been so nice having it the freezer, knowing I could use it, but not needing it--until now.

Anna's face has cleared up again, but her head is still very flaky--even flakier than before. This is scary because it is SO MUCH like what happened to Caleb and his head, and I can't stop it! It's not just little dandruff-like flakes either--it's big patches of scaly flakes. She's not scratching it or anything, so I know it bothers me more than her, but still--I don't want her head to turn into one big crust of infection like Caleb's did.

In one piece of very good news, the county tax assessor came by our house last Thursday. We had challenged our tax assessment this year, since it had increased by about $200,000 over last year's. Yow! Since we still have the original lovely linoleum in the kitchen, the ratty looking tile counters, the original and very worn caarpeting, and the houses around that have sold recently have all had these things updated, we thought it was unfair. So the man called back to say he was knocking $20,000 off the assessment! Yay! Of course, that won't make a huge difference in our taxes, but every bit counts.

So that's our update.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

2 months already?!!

Anna Claire is 2 months old today! She's smiling, cooing, and sleeping through the night, making everyone around her happy! She was a stinker today and pooped through her outfit while I was nursing her at church. Being a young, inexperienced mother of 5, of course I did not have any extra clothes in the diaper bag. Oops. Will I never learn?!! The first thing I did when we got home was put an extra onesie in the bag, so now we are prepared.

Remember that I was trying less milk to see if her face and head would improve? Well, her face was looking tons better (her head was still fairly flakey). I ate a baked potato with cheese and sour cream last night, and this morning her face was a lot drier and flakier. Of course, she also had a bath last night, so it could be that too. More experimentation is needed, lol. Someone at church recommended rubbing olive oil on her head, so I might try that too. Anna--our little Italian piece of foccacia bread.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Management is announcing the end of the popular "Skittles for Poop" program. This was instituted as a motivational tool for reluctant potty-trainers, and it was even opened up to those who were already potty-trained, in an effort to provide even more incentive. Management thought the program would die a natural death, but it has still been mentioned on the odd day, so we are now proclaiming a formal end. You can no longer come to our house and expect a brightly colored chewy fruity orb of sugar for producing #2 on the big boy potty. Management sincerely hopes this change of policy does not prevent people from visiting, however. Thank you.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Maybe we're a bit TOO affectionate here at home. . .

Last night Nathan and Luke had track practice. I pushed Anna in the stroller in a little grassy area by the high jump pit, while I watched Caleb and Jonathan run around. (Side note: The reason we weren't by the stands was because there was a championship lacrosse game going on. Fascinating sport! I had never watched lacrosse before, but it seems like a cross between soccer and hockey, since they can go behind the net, and there is sort of a penalty like icing. The way they twirl their stick/net things (do they have another name?) to keep the ball in is cool--manly baton-twirling. While I was watching, our team scored 3 quick goals. Anyway, I digress. . . )

So as I was watching lacrosse, I noticed that Caleb and Jonathan were really close to a man and his little boy who were sitting on the grass by their stroller. I started walking over there when I saw Jonathan leaning really close to the man. I thought he was whispering in his ear(!). As I got closer, I heard the man say, "You are tickling my ear!", and I realized that he was kissing his cheek! What?! And Caleb was acting with his little boy, who was 8 months old I later found out, just like he would with Anna--"Oh, you are such a cute boy [*kiss, kiss, kiss*], You are standing up! [*kiss, kiss*]" etc. Ack! I was just slightly embarrassed. The man was a nice, jolly type though, and he didn't seem put out by it at all, but still . . . I had no idea they would be so bold with perfect strangers! Where do they get that from?! Not me!

The man turned out to be very nice (he introduced himself, but his name flew right out of my head). We got to talking, and he said that he and his wife were overwhelmed with their 3, so he couldn't imagine having 5. I told him that I thought it was harder to go from 2 to 3 than from 3 to 5, and plus, now Nathan is almost 9, so he can do a lot more to really be helpful, like get everyone lunch. Whoops! It turns out his oldest son is also 9, and he doesn't do much at all! I then gave my standard spiel about how since I thought I was only going to have boys, I decided I wasn't going to be the only one doing any work around the house, so now I am teaching them how to cook, clean, etc., and hopefully my future daughters-in-law will all love and appreciate me. He looked like he thought that might be a good idea, but really . . . do you take advice from a lady whose boys walk up to strangers and starting kissing on them?!! I think not!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Computer Complaints

Well, I thought I had the whole picture posting thing figured out, but as it turns out, I think I just got lucky the one time I tried it with only one picture. I've tried a bunch of times now to upload another picture for a new post, but I keep getting an error message that the website is not responding. Oh well, I'm still blaming my slow dial-up connection. Why not?!

You might wonder why we still are living in the dark ages of dial-up internet. It is because we are living in a neighborhood that time forgot. Yes, even though we are in high-tech Northern Virginia, we are in a small neighborhood (as opposed to the town-size neighborhood all around us), and somehow we got left out of whatever it is you need to get DSL or broadband. We could get cable internet, but since we don't have cable, and we have heard nothing but bad about the cable company (Adelphia), we never have. Ahh well, the unfairness of life, as I so frequently tell the boys in that annoying parent tone.

And as long as I am complaining about my computer, I still can not press enter and have a space appear when I am blogging. My cursor just disappears. If Anthony L. hadn't taken pity on me and told me how to do the html for a paragraph break, I would never be able to have any breaks in my posts! What is up with that?!

And now that I have wasted good time messing around on the computer and loudly complaining about my failures, I must go nurse again. Good night!

A Fine Day

I tried a bunch of times to upload these pictures, but I think I've figured it out--I can only upload one picture at a time for a post. The curse of slow dial-up! So the weather here has been so incredibly pleasant lately. It's been in the low 70's, with a nice breeze, and not too humid. Anna sat outside yesterday in her bouncer seat and watched the tree branches above her. It's weird to think of someone really seeing leaves and branches for the first time! I took her over to visit some of the neighbors too, so she had a busy social afternoon.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Skin Problems

Anna looks so much like Caleb's baby pictures. That is a little scary for me, since Caleb is our allergy child, and I wonder what genes go with the "physical appearance" ones! I mentioned a few weeks ago that Anna had really broken out on her face. The zits have pretty much gone away, but her facial skin is still really . . . rough, I guess you'd say. Definitely not smooth. Sometimes really red and splotchy (like after she's pitched a little fit), sometimes a normal color, but always just sort of rough. And kind of dry/scaly too, especially on her forehead and between her eyes. It's not really flaky, but it's sort of scaly-feeling. Weird. I'm not sure that I would call it eczema yet, but I am basically treating it as such. I've started putting a lot of Aquaphor on it, and I think that is helping a little bit. I am also cutting down drastically (meaning almost none) on my dairy intake. Her head has some flaky patches, but I am just not washing her hair very often, and it's not too bad.

When I took Caleb to his 2 month well-baby appointment, I had just started noticing flakyiness on his head, which I assumed was cradle cap. I mentioned it to the doctor, and she agreed, telling me to scrub the patches with a soft toothbrush before washing. I did this faithfully, but the patches just seemed to get bigger. Soon the patches were taking over his head, and his poor head was really crusty. I washed his hair more often, since it looked so terrible, but by the end of the day, it was all crusty again. When I took him in for his 4 month appointment, that doctor took one look at him and referred us over to Dermatology. The derm. doctor said that Caleb had the worst infected case of eczema he had ever seen on a baby, and he put him right on antibiotics. It took 2 courses for his head to clear up. Poor guy. I felt so terrible, but who knew?! I immediately went home and did research on eczema, and I discovered the link between it and food allergies. That explained some things. A few weeks prior, Caleb chewed on a fork of mine after I ate some walnut coffee cake, and he broke out all over the side of his face and around his mouth. When my Aunt Claire came out to visit, she kissed him after eating cereal, and he got little hives where her mouth touched him. Fortunately I had never given him any regular formula and very little solid foods. When we saw the dermatologist again, he pooh-poohed all my research, but I was able to get a consult for the allergy doctor anyways. They did a skin test, and he tested positive for wheat, milk, peanuts, eggs, and tree nuts--everything except soy in the test. Since I was nursing, I immediately cut those things out of my diet too (well, actually first I went home and called Amy crying, LOL). Caleb's skin is really good now, except for a patch on his ankle and his weird toenail problem, but it took over a year before it all really cleared up. His food allergies have lessened too, and he's much less sensitive to milk now (but he's really sensitive when his environmental allergies are stirred up).

When I look back at Caleb's baby pictures, at around 5-6 months, his face really changes. His eyes get really red and puffy, and his face just doesn't look right. This continues until around his first birthday. It is so obvious to me now, looking back! Hopefully I will be more aware with Anna, since I feel like we're basically on our own here, as far as medical care. I can't even get a consult for Caleb to see the allergist, even though it's been 2 years since he's seen one, and I would like to know if we are still doing the right things. I'm sure it would be very difficult to get one for Anna, if I should ever feel like she needed to see someone. I will probably start putting the evening primrose oil and flaxseed oil on her tummy, like I did for Caleb. That really seemed to help his skin problems, although it sure stained his pajamas! I guess she would definitely be wearing those boy clothes then--I'm not ruining brand new girl clothes!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Garage Saling

This morning I went garage saling. One of the neighborhoods around us had their annual community garage sale. This "neighborhood" is actually more the size of a small town, so much so that last night I went to their website, printed off a 3 page list of addresses of garage sales, highlighted ones that mentioned "girls clothes" or baby stuff, and then spent a good amount of time with my Northern Virginia atlas, figuring out where these streets were and making myself a little map so I could actually find them. That part of the plan worked perfectly. Also, Anna cooperated beautifully, waking up around 7:00, so I could leave at 8:00, when they started. I didn't get very much stuff though. It seems that in this high-price area, people have an inflated idea of what their old baby clothes should sell for! I am not going to pay 2 or more dollars for a stained little pants set! Oh well. I did pick up a cute little pair of "training" roller baldes for Caleb. They have little wheels on each side of the back wheel, so you don't really have to balance on them, although Caleb still has a hard time keeping his feet underneath him. He keeps sliding right onto his little bum! He likes them a lot--he's been wanting to rollerbalde with Nathan and Luke. I also got a Fisher Price "Great Adventure" castle, with some plastic knights. I don't think they even make this anymore, but it's been a big hit so far, especially with Caleb and Jonathan. I also got a 2 person bike trailer for $15. That was a good deal, although it has spent some time in a storage unit and is kind of dirty. I hope Bob can figure it all out. I still don't have a bike, but I figure that at ths point (well, actually when Anna is older and sitting up, but anyways . . . soon), Bob can pull Anna and Jonathan, Nathan and Luke can ride with him, and Caleb can ride with me while I walk. He can't keep up with the bigger boys yet anyways. So I spent 2 1/2 hours at 20 or more garage sales, and I got 3 things, plus 3 outfits. Hmm . . . not my most successful day. I guess that makes me feel good about not going to any garage sales since we've been here! Twice a year the MOPS group has a huge consignment sale, and I think that is a better thing--everything in one place, and the prices were better. So I will plan on hitting that in the fall to get more clothes for Anna. In the meantime, I can feel good about sleeping in on Saturdays and know that I'm not missing out on tons of great bargains!

Friday, May 19, 2006

. . . and then on to canasta and bridge

So Bob has a new project underway--he is teaching Nathan and Luke how to play pinochle. Bob comes from a big card-playing family, and I . . .well, I don't. We played tons of board games, like Scrabble, Life, and Monopoly, but we weren't into card games, using a real deck of cards. I don't think there was any real reason behind that, but that's how I remember it. While Bob and I were dating and newly married I wanted to fit in with his family, so I gave card games, especially pinochle, the ol' college try. Unfortunately, they weren't so much into gently teaching newcomers the finer points of the game. I guess they were more into
"immersion" learning--you just start playing and try to pick it all up as you go. But I don't do well with that kind of training, and them yelling "YOU HAVE TO PLAY TRUMP!!!" and "WHY DID YOU PLAY THAT?!!" all the time at me was not conducive to me developing a love for the game (Bob wants me to add that this is the reason why he doesn't play much golf). After I started having kids, I was able to just not play ("Oh, I'm going to have to nurse soon", LOL--now you know the real reason we keep having kids. Just kidding!), and now I just happily sit on the couch and do my crossword puzzle while they play.

Bob IS a patient teacher, however, and Nathan and Luke are quickly picking up the game. They love it! All day long I am hearing terms like "royal marriage", "meld", "deck and a half" and other pinochle words. The boys are going to be a big hit at the family reunion in July. I am proud to have a part, albeit small, in continuing the strong pinochle line. Of course, they want to play all the time and have a hard time understanding why not many other people have a clue how to play this game outside of senior centers. But at least with me helping to bring so many new players into the family, people will have no reason to bug me about playing myself!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Back to the routine . . . again

We started up school again this week. Now that Anna is 7 weeks old and pretty much sleeping through the night, I feel much more capable of handling the school end of things again. Plus, I get antsy when we stop school for awhile--like I can see all the stuff the boys have learned flying out their earholes and into outer space. I must plug the holes!! LOL! We are just reviewing Latin this week, but we've started right back into math. Luke finished First Language Lessons, so I'm just having him do some grammar worksheets until I decide it's time to start what he'll be doing for next year (Nathan's old Shurley Grammar book). Nathan still has some more Rod and Staff grammar to finish. We have a few more weeks of spelling to finish out this book, so we'll just keep on there too. We started reading Farmer Boy for our new read-aloud. We're plugging right along in handwriting and Story of the World as well. We decided that this year's grand party (in place of separate birthday parties) will have a Colonial/Revolutionary War theme, so we've gotten lots of books out of the library and are starting to think of craft and game ideas. We'll probably shoot for the end of July/beginning of August, like last year. Again, this year's theme fits in with this year's history. Hmm, wonder how that happened? I'm so tricky! : )

We celebrated Mother's Day Sunday by grilling out pork chops after church. I don't really like going out ON Mother's Day, since I am not into crowds. It never seems to fail that when lots of people are watching, my children will act up. Conversely, when no one is around, they are angels. So last night we went out to TGIFridays, which has "kids eat free" on Tuesday nights. Actually, it's only one free kid per adult meal, so only 2 of our kids eat free, but hey--it's still a savings! The restaurant was pretty empty, the kids were great, and we had a nice time, although I will say that I prefer Chili's fajitas to theirs. Unfortunately, kids never eat free at Chilis, so we just go there for dates.

Yesterday, I watched Christine's 4 boys for her. She had watched mine several times while I had OB appointments, and she had some errands to do yesterday to get ready to fly to her brother's wedding next weekend. So there were 8 boys here, but I didn't feel as outnumbered as I usually do since now I have Anna on the girls' side. LOL! Actually, it's great because they all get along really well. They just kind of disappear and play! They played a game of soccer for quite awhile. How nice to have so many people for teams! Then they came in and played Bionicles. When Anna was awake, she was fawned over by all of them. She is so going to grow up expecting the undivided and adoring attention of all the men around her, LOL.

So things are pretty much back to normal again, and it's a nice feeling.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Brought to you by the letter "C"

My good friend and old neighbor Pam tagged me today with a word game. Here's how it works. Comment on this entry and I will give you a letter (Pam gave me the letter C). Write ten words beginning with that letter in your journal, including an explanation of what the word means to you and why, and then pass out letters to those who want to play along. So here goes:

1. commissary: the military grocery store. Prices are cheaper there, especially for things like cereal and meat. Since we are fairly far from one here, I try to go about every month to 6 weeks. Then we totally fill 2 carts and usually spend about $500. Yikes!

2. control: well, I think we all know what that word means! I struggle with wanting control of everything--my kids, my life--everything! I'm working on trusting the Lord and letting Him have total control, knowing that He only wants what is best for me, just as I only want what is best for my children.

3. contumacious: obstinately resisting authority; insubordinate; disobedient. Okay, I confess that I found this one in the dictionary! But now that I have found it, I'm sure it will be a regular part of my vocabulary, as in "Jonathan was contumacious tonight when he wouldn't take off his shoes by himself when my hands were full, and thus eventually had an accident in his pants because he never went potty."

4. consistency: holding always to the same principles or practices. I went to a Christian high school, and they always gave out character awards at sports banquets, graduation, etc. Mine was frequently "consistency". Never a fun quality like "spontaneity" or "creativity". Ah well, you can't win what you don't have! LOL!

5. contraction: the shortening and thickening of a muscle in action, esp. of the uterus during labor. Obviously this word has a special place in my life! I wonder how many contractions I've had total?! Mine feel like bad menstrual cramps until late transition time. Then they feel more, hmm, bone-grinding, I guess you'd say.

6. classical music: my music of choice. My favorites? Well, I always birth to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Bach's Air (from Overture No. 3 in D major) is my all-time short piece--so beautiful and relaxing. I like Brahms a lot. We all really enjoy the Beethoven's Wig series, and I just found out that #3 has been released! It's already on our Amazon wish list.

7. conjugation: a schematic arrangement of the intellectual forms of a verb. I used to think that I knew all ab0ut conjugating--I love, you love, he loves, etc. But now that we are learning Latin, we are taking conjugation to a whole new level (amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant . . . etc., etc., etc.) There are 4 conjugations in Latin, and we've only learned the first.

8: contraception: well, I had to look this one up too--kidding! Just kidding! LOL!!

9. clarinet: I played this instrument for 8 years in middle and high school, and then for another year while we were stationed at the Air Force Academy (which was about 10 years later!). The chapel there had a little instrumental group. It was fun to play again--I was really pretty good in high school (I was a "consistent" practicer, LOL). But I must say I haven't picked it up again since we PCSed from there Jan. 2001.

10. couch: we have a big Lazyboy sectional in our family room. We got it back in Ohio, when we wanted a couch where we could all easily fit. It's really comfy, and it has a chaise on one end where I love to sit (and nap). It is great for nursing too. We do a lot of our schoolwork on the couch, and after school is done, I love to see it full of boys reading, all sprawled out every which way!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of the occasion, here are some of my favorite quotes on the subject of motherhood. Any other favorites out there?

"Making the decision to have a child--it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." Elizabeth Stone

"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." Lin Yutang

"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness." Honore' de Balzac

"Mother's arms are made of tenderness, and sweet sleep blesses the child who lies therein." Victor Hugo

"Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of little children." William Makepeace Thackeray

"When God thought of Mother, He must have laughed with satisfaction and framed it quickly--so rich, so deep, so divine, so full of soul, power, and beauty was the conception." Henry Ward Beecher

"Stories first heard at a mother's knee are never wholly forgotten--a little spring that never quite dries up in our journey through scorching years." Giovanni Ruffini

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my successes in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her." George Washington

"Men are what their mothers made them." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his." Oscar Wilde

"The trouble with being a parent is that by the time you are experienced, you are unemployed." Rosemary Coleton

"No one will ever engrave 'She kept a tidy house' on a mother's tombstone." Susan Causdale

"I looked on childrearing not only as a work of love and duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world, and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it." Rose Kennedy

"A man loves his sweetheart the best, his wife the most, but his mother the longest." Irish proverb

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Interesting Article on Motherhood

There was an interesting article in today's Washington Times (the best newspaper out there!) entitled Motherhood ensures moms do know best: Having kids makes women smarter .

"Motherhood can be tremendously strengthening to you as a person," says
Katherine Ellison, author of "The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter."
Mrs. Ellison's book, which is grounded in scientific studies, finds "five
attributes of a baby-boosted brain." Motherhood, she writes, appears to be
linked to enhanced perception, with greater sensitivity in smell, vision,
hearing and physical contact. "Mom radar," as Mrs. Ellison puts it. Mothers are
also likely to become efficient and resourceful multitaskers who are strongly
motivated to set and fulfill goals. Other hallmarks of motherhood are improved
social skills and emotional intelligence, which allows them to reduce stress and
encourage resilience.

The article goes on to talk about how almost all mothers, however, feel that their brains have turned to mush after having children. Here is Mrs. Ellison's answer to that:

There have been attempts to analyze "porridge brain," as maternal ditziness is
called in Britain. In 2001, British neuroscientists Matthew Brett and Sallie
Baxendale wrote a paper on a new disorder they called "gestational memory
impairment." Other studies have found that pregnancy can temporarily shrink a
woman's brain, and pregnant women and new mothers can be distracted or falter on
memory tests. In addition, there is ample anecdotal evidence that pregnancy and
new motherhood bring difficulties in concentration, deterioration of expressive
language skills, mental fogginess, forgetfulness, confusion, disorientation and
poor concentration. But Mrs. Ellison says scientific evidence suggests that
these changes are not evidence of a loss, but signs of a transformation into a
better brain. Mothers' brains not only return to their normal size within months
of birth, but have enhanced capacity, she writes.

Well, I can certainly see both sides on this one. One the one hand, there is a lot of stuff just to keep track of around here--how much clean underwear everyone has, whether or not there is extra toilet paper in the garage, when Anna ate last, when Jonathan peed last, what we're having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and whether we have all the ingredients, etc, etc., etc.--and I think I do a fairly good job of that. I can smell a poopy diaper from a room away, and I can generally tell when people are up to no good in far off places (increased sense of hearing?). I'm picking up Latin fairly well, making me wish I had uninterrupted time to concentrate on it. But I certainly do not feel as "sharp" as I was when I was sailing through college. My brain often does feel like porridge, especially when I am suddenly asked to figure out something, like the most cost-efficient size of canola oil at the commissary. And I have a degree in math! Also, I NEVER left my credit card on the counter before I had kids. I often have to read things more than once to remember them. That drives me crazy. Later in the article, they do blame sleep deprivation, but my babies have all been good sleepers, so that doesn't really hold water for me (Anna slept from 10:30 until 6:30 last night!!!!). Some other scientist says, "Any cognitive lapses are a tradeoff for a better functioning and focused brain later on." Hmmm. Well, I'm still waiting for that! When exactly do I get this new, improved brain?!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

That Sinking Feeling

Last night I went to the post office to mail a package. Bob had told me about the lovely new machine that lets you do everything automatically, thus avoiding the ever-present line, so I was going to try that. I got up to it, opened my wallet to get out my credit card . . . and realized it wasn't where it usually is. In fact, it wasn't there at all. Oh, my heart dropped absolutely down to my toes. I grabbed my stuff, mumbled something about not being able to do this right now to the lady behind me, and ran out to the car. As I sat there, I remembered clearly going to Kohls the night before to buy a picture frame. I had all the kids, and I could see myself paying with the card, then laying it down on the counter for "cashier verification". And obviously, I didn't see myself pick it back up again! I called Bob, then hightailed it back over to Kohls. Praise the Lord, my card was waiting for me up at customer service. What a relief! Bob was johnny-on-the-spot, and he froze the account before I got over there, just in case, so we will be getting new cards soon. This little incident does not bode well for me shopping with all the kiddos! I was so thankful that I went off to the post office though. Otherwise, who knows when the next time would be that I would have tried to use my card? It could have been days later, and I would have had a much harder time remembering where it got left!

The reason that I was buying a picture frame (which was 50% off, by the way) is that we have finally truly joined the digital age, and we have a printer for digital pictures. One of the first things we printed off was an 8x10 picture of my brother Dan and his lovely wife Melinda on their wedding day. Gee, it's only been 2 years since that day! LOL! But the picture turned out great--we turned it, cropped out some of the background--very nice (I think it was #499, Dan). And it looks very classy in the frame too. So now that have this printer, maybe I will more more ready to give up my old-fashioned camera and just use the digital one. I have been very reluctant to do so, since I doubted that we would ever really get the pictures in hand, so ever since we got the digital camera, I've pretty much taken the same shots both on that camera and on "my" camera. And up till now, the digital ones have stayed on the camera or the computer, and mine have regularily turned into pictures that you can show people in the comfort of our family room, not all hunched around the computer screen! But now we've reached the big time--nothing's stopping us now! Pictures for all!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Testing Jitters . . .

. . . mine, of course. Today was the first day of standardized testing. Elizabeth volunteered to pick up the boys and take them in the morning, which was wonderful, because they needed to be there at 9:10 (that's another thing I can't do--get everyone ready to go and out the door even by 9:30, much less 9:00!). Thanks, Elizabeth! The boys waltzed confidently out the door with nary a care in the world. I was less sanguine, especially since today's subjects included spelling, Nathan's weakest subject.

When I picked Nathan up, his teacher told me that Nathan was a really fast reader. "Yeah", he says, "I always finished first--no one ever beat me!" Ack! I reiterated that this was NOT a race. Speed is fine as long as you are CAREFUL. Unfortunately, he can be pretty careless at times. Oh well! He also told me that spelling was easy. LOL--sometimes things can seems easy because you just don't know when you don't know something! We'll see . . . Luke thought everything was easy. Hey, it's first grade, and he's mainly doing second grade work, so I would say he is probably right. Hopefully he was careful too, and not over-confident. Just 2 more days--and then 2 months of waiting for scores to come back, LOL!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Picnic/Potluck Marathon

You know how you either have weekends where there is absolutely nothing going on, or weekends where you have a gazillion big events? Well, this is one of the latter weekends for us. Our homeschool co-op had their end-of-the-year graduation ceremony and picnic yesterday afternoon, our church had a ground-breaking ceremony with a potluck afterwards this morning, and this afternoon we have our AWANA closing ceremony/pizza party. Oh, and Bob couldn't get out of desk duty at his real estate office today.

First, the homeschool picnic. Usually this ceremony is at the church, but this year the leader of the committee really wanted to have a picnic at her house so that more families would come, not just those with graduating 6th graders. Since there are about 40 families in TNT, you can imagine what kind of a house and yard this lady has. No, actually you're not imagining enough--it was really an incredible place! They live closer into the city than we do, but it felt like we were out in the middle of nowhere. They have a long (paved) private drive back to their property--what a great place for kids to ride bikes, rollerblade, etc. Then they have a big field, they have a forest part with a stream, they have a grassy part with trees, and a grassy part without trees, they have a swingset area, they have a trampoline, they have an orchard part, and also a big plowed garden area. Yeah, we didn't want to leave. The best part is that the grandparents live right. next. door. On this same private drive. Sigh. What a dream! The parents are both architects, so they designed their house to look like an Italian villa built by a favorite Italian architect of theirs. It was big, but very comfortable. Rustic inside. It wasn't really my dream style, but it was really neat. The family has 5 kids, 4 of whom are adopted from China, so they can stand to have a big place and big yard. Only one of the kids is a boy though--what a shame! Anyhow, we had a fun time. The weather was beautiful, and the kids played hard.

This morning, after I fed Anna at 5:45 and put her down again, I really fell fast asleep again, so I didn't wake up until 9:00, when she did. Ack! We need to leave for church by 9:45 to be on time! That didn't happen. Bob didn't go, since he had to be at Weichert, and we were 15 minutes late to church. Fortunately, we got there just as everyone was getting into their cars to drive over to the new site for the groundbreaking--I saved myself the trouble of unloading everyone, just to load them up again! After the groundbreaking, the pastor wanted each family to come up individually to have their picture taken with the shovel. There I was, all by myself with the kids, and Caleb chose to be very uncooperative and camera-shy. So the picture of us is without Bob, with me doing that smile-grimace thing while speaking threateningly out of the side of my mouth and reaching around to give the Vulcan death shoulder grip to Caleb, who is attempting to hide behind my legs and pull me down. No fake smiles and perfect family this morning, no sir! We did manage to get everyone back over to the school where we were having the potluck without furthur incidents, and I managed to get everyone through the food line AND even get something for myself to eat before Anna had to nurse again (she was cooperative, I guess to make up for Caleb, LOL). Potlucks are hard without both adults! I had Anna in the frontpack, so at least I had both hands. The whole thing unfortunately reinforced the illusion that people in the church have of me as some sort of super-woman--She pops out babies! She gets them all to church by herself, albeit 15 minutes late! She makes a mean strawberry spinach salad! One woman actually said to me, "Is there anything you can't do?" ROTFL! Yes. How about "get an uncooperative child to smile for a nice family picture?" Here's a partial and nonexhaustive list of things I can't do, just off the top of my head:



--Pottytrain without getting really frustrated


--Decorate a house with tasteful knickknacks, pictures, etc.

--Keep a clean kitchen counter

--Stay ahead of the laundry mountain

--Give up chocolate

--Eliminate paper clutter

--Speak a foreign language

Well, there are many more things, but I'm going to have to nurse again soon, so . . . that's a start. After I nurse, we have to load up again for the AWANA ceremony and party. I can't believe that we are having 2 big meals where I don't have to cook ON THE SAME DAY! What a waste! But next weekend is completely free, of course.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I can't believe Anna is over a month old now. Where does the time go?! You will notice that this picture is not a close-up of her. That is because "close-up" is no longer what we call her best angle. She has broken out with zits on her cheeks like a nervous teenager. Ahh, the loss of her sweet, girlish complexion. LOL! The reason for this breakout is that she spits up tons, and if she does that while napping, then she rolls around in it, irritating her face. And the reason that all happens is (whispering quietly) she sleeps on her tummy. I always feel like such a criminal when I admit that actually ALL of my kids have slept on their tummies. They hate being on their backs. Since I am such a rule-keeper, I always start out with the best of intentions, and they spend the first week or so on their back (or side, actually, since they REALLY don't like being on their backs, even at just a week!). But then as they get more vocal about it all, I let them go onto their tummies. When they spit up and are on their backs, they sputter and gasp, and frankly that scares me. Of course, I also worry about SIDS, and I fervently pray for their breathing and safety every time I put them down. But they're so much happier on their tummies, and they sleep so much better. Sigh. I do wait until they can lift up their heads and turn them by themselves. So there--my dirty secret is out.

In other news, Jonathan is still doing great with his pottytraining--no accidents at all yesterday! He's even been going on the big potty. Mom and Dad are getting ready to leave tomorrow. They're going back to Ohio by way of a wedding in South Carolina. It's just been so wonderful to have them here. Having my mom around every day to talk to, bounce ideas off of, do stuff with, etc. has just been great, and I'm going to miss her so much. The boys will be so sad too. The house will seem so empty! Empty--but not quiet, I'm sure. LOL!

Monday, May 01, 2006

The King on His Throne

Yay, I think he's finally got it! He didn't have any pee-pee accidents yesterday, although he did poop in a pull-up. Today we went to WalMart this morning, and he did just fine. Then tonight, while the big boys and I were at track practice, he pooped on the potty! *big cheer* There was a big celebration with freezer pops for all when we returned. We'll see if he can duplicate his successes tomorrow. I am just happy that he's not peeing in his underwear anymore. I'm feeling good about that!

I'm glad my mom was here for the pottytraining. She read tons of books to him and really kept on him about going, especially the first few days. I was so discouraged when he didn't just immediately grasp it all. I think that for me, I see it as some kind of test for myself--can I teach him a basic skill that he must grasp? And if not, then how can I possibly teach him anything else?! So I get very stressed about it, and that's not a good thing. In some ways, I am like that about reading too, since that seems to me to be about the most basic learning skill you can teach. Nathan didn't just pick up on reading right away, and that was hard for me. Luke basically taught himself to read, and I felt great about that! Caleb is shaping up to be more like Nathan in how he learns, and he certainly isn't just going to teach himself anytime soon. I'm finding myself putting off really starting formal school with him, and it's mainly because I know it's going to be hard teaching him to read. And for some reason, that makes me feel like I'm not a worthy teacher. I know, I'm crazy, but there it is. And yet, so far I've successfully pottytrained 3, maybe 4 boys, and 2 of them are reading. In fact, Nathan is an excellent reader, and reading is what he would prefer to be doing almost all the time! I guess I'll always feel somewhat insecure about how I'm doing, especially right now as we come up to their standardized testing. I always breathe so much easier once I get their test results back in June or July!