Sunday, June 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Nathan!!!

Wow, Nathan is 10 today! I can hardly believe that! Ten years ago, I was lying in my Air Force Academy hospital bed in my shared room, staring at this new little person for whom I was responsible. What a daunting feeling!

Now I'm looking at this young man who is spreading some wings and growing up and thinking that this stage is just as daunting!

Classical education talks about the 3 stages of education. The grammar stage is the earliest, where the kids just soak up information. The logic stage is the second one, where the kids starting making connections and thinking critically. Then the third stage is the rhetoric stage, where they learn how to express themselves and what they know.

Over the past year, I have clearly seen Nathan move into the logic stage. He is questioning things, especially on car rides and at the table, where he leads us off into long and involved conversations about things like small businesses, world politics and government systems, birth control, and other varied topics. "Why" is something he is saying a lot. Sort of like when he was 2, but now he actually has deep questions and expects answers! It's been neat discussing our worldview and how that influences what we think about different issues. I am very glad to be homeschooling during this logic stage, so that he can ask me those questions and we can discuss them.

His favorite subject in school is history, which certainly lends itself to discussing these sorts of thorny issues! This next year we will start into the Modern time period, from the Civil War to the present, so I'm sure plenty of things will crop up as we deal with slavery, the Holocaust, communism, and so on. I am really enjoying this new stage! It's been intellectually stimulating for me too, and I never know what topic will come up on a boring and routine drive to the commissary!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New Bunk Bed

Here is the new bunk bed that we bought back in May. We got it assembled in Caleb and Jonathan's room, much to their delight, and Caleb has been sleeping on the top bed for a few nights. That end part that you can barely see is actually a little desk. One of the dressers we got with the bed is also in the room. Right now it is directly across from the double bed, sort of between the 2 windows. Whenever we give the L's back the big dresser/armoire thing we've been using for Caleb and Jonathan, then we'll move this dresser along the wall by the bathroom, where the other thing is now.

Clone Trooper Cake

Here is Nathan's clone trooper cake that we took to Bible study last night. I was actually not that happy with it--I needed to build up the bottom of the mask a bit more. It looked fine when it was just cake, but when I put the icing on, there wasn't as much contrast, and it looked too flat. Oh well. Also, this is a LEGO clone trooper cake--that's why the legs are so short, LOL. I told them I could not do the proportions for a real human type clone.
Nathan was happy with it, but of course, he's my big encourager anyways ("Wow, Mom! I bet not even people who get PAID could make a clone trooper cake like that!" LOL) It took a 10x15 sheet cake plus 2 8-inch rounds, but we had a cast of thousands for Bible study, and we are left with only part of the gun, and a small part of the chest to eat tonight after dinner. Nathan's actual birthday isn't even until tomorrow--I'm not sure there will be any left by then!
As a special birthday treat, we allowed Nathan to borrow Star Wars II--Attack of the Clones from Zachary L. The boys are all downstairs watching it, and I haven't heard a peep from them for 2 hours. How lovely! They say the best gifts are free . . .

Monday, June 18, 2007


Well, yesterday the bloom was off the rose, so to speak, and it was not the day of sweetness, light, and sibling cooperation that Saturday was. Nathan and Luke bickered off and on most of the day. Was there a reason for this, you may be asking? Why yes! Fatigue! After we watched a Star Wars technology program Saturday night, the boys trundled off to bed. About 10:00, Nathan was back downstairs, clutching a trashcan and moaning. Evidently lots of cheese and processed food did not agree with his super-sensitive stomach! He never did throw up (which is a miracle in and of itself), but he did end up on the toilet for quite a while, poor guy. Luke ended up moving into Caleb and Jonathan's room, saying, "I don't want to hear Nathan throw up!" Wise boy. So I'd say they finally got off to sleep around 11:00, which made for crabby boys the next day.

Anna was a one-woman wrecking crew, wreaking havoc in her wake all around the house. What really put her in our black books was her wantom destruction of the Eiffel Tower. The boys had done a 3-D puzzle on the dining room table while I was still in the hospital, but she made short work of that, even eating the paper off on one puzzle piece so you can't see what it actually is. She also committed 2 acts of banana thievery/murder. I came downstairs at lunchtime to find the bunch of bananas sort of hanging off the center island, and one empty (and abused) peel dangling there as well. On the floor were several strips of peel and other banana-related debris. A sight not for the faint-of-heart! Later the perpetrater returned to the scene of the crime and mangled/ate a second banana. Oh well, she's into the diarrhea phase of teething, so maybe 2 bananas isn't such a bad thing? Needless to say, the bananas now live in the very center of the island, where even a little girl who can move the kitchen stool around can't reach them.

I really did not feel well yesterday. I had a terrible night where my fever kept coming back up, along with the aches and chills. My left side hurt so badly that I was contemplating amputation for relief. I finally decided that when Bob came home, I would go to the ER at Bethesda. I took more motrin at 4:00, Bob got home around 8:00 . . .but to my great surprise, my fever wasn't coming back up! I decided to wait longer before going anywhere. My fever never did come back, and this morning I feel better! I'm still sore, but it is not so excruciatingly painful. I now have hope that I may eventually recover, however, LOL. I am still taking it easy today, sleeping in and not doing school. And I'll probably do that tomorrow as well, or even as long as it takes for the pain in my breast to go away. Because, you know, getting back into a good routine is good, but that routine sort of falls apart when I am flat-out sick and lying on the couch all day! I'll get all better and then we'll try again . . .

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Crazy Milk-Filled Weekend

Bob did go up to PA to visit his family today, taking Caleb and Jonathan with him. They were thrilled beyond words at the prospect of a special trip with Daddy *in his car* no less. I will say that while it's been a much quieter day without them around, there is definitely a big hole! It is always so interesting how the dynamics of the family change without different people, especially children. Nathan and Luke didn't fight at all today, they took turns playing with Anna without asking, Anna was thrilled with all the one-on-one attention from her older brothers who weren't distracted playing Star Wars with their younger brothers (who do frustrate them at times)--it was different.

Bob's dad is still in the hospital, and the doctors are saying that he is having seizures for some unknown reason. He's on anti-seizure medicine now, but it sounded like they were going to keep him in the hospital until Monday for observation. Apparently he is also starting some with senility, which has really been stressful for Bob's mom these past few months. She told Bob's sister Rose that he was like a child, and she had to watch him all the time and not leave him or he would do something crazy, like get out of the car and lock it with it still running. He is 82 and has been in remarkably good health (they both have, actually), but it looks like he finally is showing signs of his age. Since Bob's mom doesn't drive (never has), this is going to hard for her, especially since he can't drive now for 6 months.

We've had a fun, relaxing day today. Nathan made waffles for everyone before they left, and then we launched into our special weekend menu--try to guess the theme.

Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches, sour cream and onion potato chips, carrots, grapes

Dinner: chicken fingers and fish sticks, canned green beans, au gratin potatoes from a box

Dessert: chocolate/peanut butter ice cream

Lunch tomorrow: macaroni and cheese casserole that Elizabeth brought over.

Did you guess? It's dairy weekend!! With nary a thought spared for separate-but-equal non-dairy substitutes! And I guess you could also say it's "easy processed food weekend", LOL. No question that we eat healthier because of Caleb's allergies! Sometimes it's fun to not have to worry about it though. I've had that box of potatoes on the shelf for forever, and Nathan has been bugging me about eating them. I asked him if they lived up to his expectations, and he gave a happy sigh and said, "Yes, it was a day of perfect meals . . . " LOL! I thought they were a little salty. "Processed", maybe. I guess my taste buds have finally matured.

Well, speaking of milk, I am still having problems with this crazy clogged duct. So I'm still hurting on my left side, and today I haven't felt as well as yesterday, especially if I don't take a big horse pill of Motrin. Good thing military doctors prescribe those things like water, as we have bottle upon bottle of them sitting around. How convenient! I am getting frustrated though. I'm nursing like a contortionist here, with cold and warm cabbage in my bra at different times, and I really don't know anything else to try. Grrr. I really would have loved to accomplish something (anything!) during the girls' nap time, but . . . all I accomplished was a nap myself. Sigh. I think that if I'm still this sore tomorrow, we won't be able to go to church. Grace doesn't like her car seat and is usually pretty restless in church, squirming around all over me. That's mildly annoying on a good day, but when one side of me is quite painful . . . well, I have desire to torture myself, and I doubt I would get anything from the sermon anyhow!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Moving On

After I posted Wednesday, I did take lots of Motrin, but it just wasn't doing the job. I was running a fever even with it, and I had such a headache, my skin was so achy, etc. I was so thankful that my post-partum appointment was Thursday morning at 8:00! I felt like a run-over squirrel, but I made it there. Bob was able to stay with the kids, and when I got home, he took the prescription the doctor gave me to Walmart. Wow, the first time for me to get a prescription filled by an off-base pharmacy! How convenient, and I didn't even have to be there! Bob didn't even need my ID card! So the antibiotics are doing their magic, and I am feeling much better today. Yesterday I just laid around all day, but today we actually got school done. I was so glad I could catch it early. If I had waited to see someone, then I'm sure I would have ended up at Bethesda in the ER this weekend, really feeling terrible.

I'm not the only one having troubles. Bob's dad had 2 seizures of some sort yesterday, and he spent the night in the hospital for observation. He had one a few weeks ago, and the doctors decided he was reacting to some new gout medicine, so he stopped that. Well, obviously the medicine wasn't the cause. The doctors said it wasn't a stroke, but we can't think of what it could be. When he wakes up, there is a period of time where he is totally confused and disoriented, and he doesn't know who anyone is, even Bob's mom. That is really scary for her. Anyhow, Bob is thinking that he will go up there tomorrow to visit, possibly taking Caleb and Jonathan. I didn't want him to take Nathan and Luke, since they are so much help with Anna. Anna is getting into everything--I wish he could take her, LOL! Actually, we thought about all going, but all the hotels are booked up, since there is that big gold tournment near Pittsburgh this weekend.

Speaking of Caleb, here is a funny thing he said this morning, especially for Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, and Pilot (Caleb's cousin). I was nursing on the couch, and he was sitting near me, doing his math worksheet.

Caleb: "Pilot and I are opposites."

Me: "Oh? How so?" (Thinking he might say something like "he is tall, and I'm short" or "he's grown-up and I'm a kid" or something)

Caleb: "Well, he knows how to fly, but not how to turn on our shower, and I know how to turn on our shower, but NOT how to fly."

So there you have it. Opposites! And for the record, the shower in Caleb's bathroom IS a bit tricky to figure out--definitely not intuitive, LOL.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oh No!

Things have been going so well this post-partum time . . . but now I definitely have a clogged duct on my left side. It's so painful! I am praying desperately that it doesn't turn into mastitis. When I had mastitis with Anna, Mom and Dad were still here, so I could just lie around. That was good, since that was all I COULD do. And when I had it with Caleb, we were still in Ohio, and Mom came over to help with the others. What will I do now, with 6 kids and no one here, if it turns into mastitis?! Ack! Bob went to the store for cabbage, which I now have in my bra. Ummm . . . phew. And that is just the cold leaves! I haven't tried blanching them and then putting them in!

I have my 6 week post-partum appointment tomorrow (yes, it's been 6 weeks--isn't that amazing?), so I'll see what the doctor has to say. I'm not sure why the duct clogged this late in the game--my milk supply is well-regulated now, and I'm not leaking and feeling full all the time. I definitely nurse in a variety of positions, and Grace is a good, strong nurser, who I thought was emptying everything well. It's a mystery. We shall wait and see what develops. in the meantime, I'm taking lots of Motrin.

Although this seems to change the subject, it really isn't. You may remember me asking for prayer for my Uncle Jim, who is undergoing radiation therapy for cancer of the tonsil. He is in his second week, and these last 2 weeks, I have had something painful to remind me to pray for him. The first week, I had a very painful canker sore on the edge of my mouth, and everytime I opened my mouth, it hurt. I thought of his sores, and it was easy to remember to pray. Now this week, it's this blocked duct. I think the Lord knows that I can get distracted even when I really want to be faithfully praying, so He has made a way to remind me. I'm praying, Uncle Jim! I'm praying!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

New Haircut

I finally got my haircut last Saturday afternoon. The last time it was cut was . . . hmmm . . . December I think, between Christmas and New Years. Yeah, I'm big into my hair, as you can tell. I've wanted to get it cut for awhile now, but I'm always hesitant to cut it short during the last trimester. There's something about a new short haircut on my hugely pregnant self that makes me look like a real pinhead--small head, huge tummy--way out of proportion. I think I'll be keeping it short now. After I got it cut, Bob and I were talking, and I mentioned how people always say men like long hair, but he seemed to like it better short. He said that "Weird Al Yankovich ruined long curly hair for me". So. No more long hair for me, I guess, as I have no deisre to remind anyone of Weird Al.

A funny thing happened after the haircut. Since I don't get anything fancy done with my cuts, I always go to the cheapest place, which around here is SuperCuts. Haircuts there are $14, and I gave a tip of $2.80 on my credit card. The next day, when we got home from church there was a vaguely cryptic message on the answering machine about a "problem I had received with my service" at SuperCuts. I couldn't think of anything so I called to find out. It turns out that when she entered the tip into the computer, she entered $280 instead of $2.80. Yeah, that's a bit of a difference! So the manager discovered the problem Sunday morning and was calling to let us know that she had taken care of it, but we might notice it showing up on our statement. LOL! That's like 12 extra haircuts, which for me is, oh, about 6 years' worth.


Finally, a picture of Grace! You know, 5 week olds just aren't that photogenic! She never looks at the camera, she flops her head at weird angles and slumps down, she waves her hands randomly around in front of her face . . . but here is finally a decent picture.

After she was born, her skin cleared up so quickly, much more quickly than any of the others. Well, a few weeks ago, all that perfect skin disappeared, and tons of zits appeared. And disappeared, and then reappeared in other places, sometimes in the course of a few hours! Now we know what Grace will look like as a hormonal teenager, LOL.

She has the "Luke/Jonathan" look about her, with bigger forehead, longer face, and the serious expressions. She has started giving big smiles to me, but I'm sure I'll never be able to catch those on camera! It's always so rewarding to see those first tentative smiles and expressions and know there really is a personality in there that is gradually coming out and responding to people!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Isn't this the cutest little car?! I got it a few weeks ago at a garage sale. I can't believe we had never before gotten a car we can push, but so it was--and now we have one! Anna wishes she could be out walking wherever she wants to, but since she can't do that, the car is a close second.

Last night the kids and I went up to our little neighborhood playground. The other boys rode their bikes, but Jonathan pushed Anna. Frankly, this was faster than him riding his bike, LOL. He's still not totally confidant about pedaling, and "fast" is not how I would describe his biking at this stage of the game.

Anna has discovered that she really loves slides, so the playground is a very exciting place for her. The boys are so good with her! I love to see them catching her. I pushed Grace over in the stroller, but I knew she wouldn't be happy in there long, since she has a firm opinion about being on her back--she doesn't like it. So I brought the front pack too (why didn't I just put her in that in the first place, you ask? Good question, but it turned out well . . .), and she was much happier in that. When we were ready to leave, Caleb still wanted to ride his bike more, so I put Anna in the stroller, and Jonathan rode in the car while I pushed both things and carried Grace in the front pack and the other 3 boys rode their bikes. This enabled us to take the very long, meandering way back. It was just such a pleasant night--no sense in rushing back! But I think I looked like I "had my hands full", since that was the comment I got from lots of people who passed us, LOL.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A New (Loud) Routine

Grace is a month old. The company is all gone. So today we started back to school. To be honest, I had been dreading this day because I just didn't feel up to spinning all these plates in the air. Anna still takes a good deal of attention in the morning, I want to be consistent with exercise, since I am dying to get rid of the pouch that makes not even my "big" clothes fit yet, and of course there is Grace's nursing. Well, it was a bit of a mixed bag, as far as how it all went.

I would like to credit Grace with doing a fine job. I fed her last night around 10:30, and she slept until 7:00. Go, Grace! I am not naive to think that she will consistently do this at this point, but it was a good way to start the day, being a bit more well-rested! So I was able to feed her and then exercise with her in her swing, and then put her down and shower (giving Anna her bottle in her crib somewhere in the middle of all that). That really would be my ideal schedule, so it was nice that it worked out for once! LOL!

After I showered, I got Anna up and dressed, and we went down and had breakfast with the boys. After eating, Nathan and Luke did their vacuuming while I worked with Caleb. So far so good.

Then it all kind of fell apart. Anna has been pretty crabby lately (she just got in another new tooth), and she really started being a stinker (both in attitude as well as in diaper). Then Grace got up again to nurse, and Anna was climbing all over me. After nursing, Grace didn't really want to be set down anywhere, and Anna didn't really want anything other than what she couldn't have (the trash, stuff in the basket on the counter, the phone, etc.). Much crying by both parties ensued. Luke commented on how loud it was. I managed to get the couch stuff done with the boys that I had planned, but it was a bit rushed and stressful, LOL. We will definitely have to do some schoolwork in the afternoons this year, but . . . not today. I called it a day at lunchtime, although we are getting ready to play "Pie in the Sky", a math game about fractions, after Anna goes down.

Soooo . . . some tweaking is still needed. Anna is really the sticking point right now. It is tons easier to do school with a newborn than with a 1 year old! I need to be more regimented with the boys taking turns entertaining her during the morning, although with the frame of mind she had this morning, there was nothing that would have pleased her! (Well, except for the trash, LOL). Tomorrow is another day. Actually, we're not doing school tomorrow because there's a mom/kids playtime and lunch at church, and we're going. Nothing like easing gently into this new loud routine!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!!

Jonathan is 4 years old today, and he has been eagerly anticipating this birthday for quite some time now. He will say, "When I am 4, I will . . . ", so he obviously has high hopes for this year! He is such a sweet little boy, with a wonderful smile (but not so much for pictures, LOL. He should have been born in the 1800's, because when we pull out the camera he either gets very serious and solemn, or he closes his eyes). He loves his big brothers and his little sisters. He especially loves whatever his older brothers love at the moment, which right now happens to be Star Wars and Bionicles. He has great manual dexterity!

We have been dragging out his birthday celebration. We started Thursday night with presents and ice cream while Grandma and Grandpa were still here. Then we brought the R2D2 cake to Bible study last night, and tonight we will have his special birthday dinner. He has selected sausage roll, along with salad (since he loves that with Italian dressing) and some other sides to be named later. Right now the birthday boy is enjoying playing lightsabers with his brothers and the other kids on the cul-de-sac. It's a great day to be 4!

R2D2 Cake

Jonathan requested another Star Wars cake for his birthday. I "led" the discussion towards R2D2 since 1) we had a small toy of him, so I would have a model, and 2) a trashcan-like shape seemed easy enough, and I didn't feel like I had enough extra brain cells at this point to try something really complicated. I was enthusiastic about R2D2, so Jonathan was too, LOL, and the cake turned out just fine. You will notice that I did not choose to put on the third leg, since the boys all assured me that it was in fact retractable. Next in my "Star Wars cake collection" (previous entry was Luke's A-Wing Fighter cake) will be a clone trooper, since that is what Nathan has requested. His birthday is 3 weeks away. This is when I ask myself why I ever let this elaborate cake tradition get started!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Allergy Appointment

Caleb had an allergy appointment yesterday with the allergy doctor at Bethesda. He last saw an allergist in June 2004, right before we moved here. For the last year and a half, I have been asking his pediatricians for a referral to the allergist, but they wouldn't give me one. "He won't do anything", is what they kept saying. Finally the doctor we saw in March gave us one, and praise the Lord, I was even able to make the appointment for while my parents were still here, so I didn't have to bring everyone.

The doctor was very, very nice and helpful. He saw us at 12:45, and we didn't leave until right around 3:00. Since Caleb's records were lost in the move (grr, don't get me started . . . the military doesn't trust us to carry our own records to our next duty station, but they have no problems losing them), he wrote up a detailed history of Caleb's allergy symptoms and issues, starting with his 2 month well-baby appointment, where we first noticed the eczema on his head. This took quite a while, and I was so glad not to have all the other kids bouncing around, not to mention needing to be nursed! That would have been slightly distracting!

After the long history, he decided what he would test Caleb for. There were 22 things, both environmental and food. Caleb didn't like the pricking at all, but he was a real trooper. As soon as the nurse finished, he started scratching his back, so I knew he was already reacting. When she lifted up his shirt after 15 minutes, his poor back was a mass of big red welts. Of the 22 things, I think there were only about 4 things that he didn't react to, and most of the reactions were greater than 4 cm. So he is NOT allergic to mold. And cedar trees and cashews. Other than that, it was pretty much positive, as far as common Virginia trees, grasses, dust, cats, dogs, and the foods that we already knew about--milk, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts--go. The walnut reaction was the biggest, about the size of a silver dollar, but they were all pretty big, to be honest. Hey, he's got allergies! LOL

After the nurse wiped off Caleb's back and put a steroid cream on his back, we went back in and met with the doctor again. He sort of tweaked the medicines we're giving Caleb now, and he told us some things to do for the dust mite allergy, like getting dust mite proof covers for the mattress and pillow, washing his bedding once a week, and having him out of the room when vacuuming. He actually likes to vacuum, so he will probably be disappointed that he can't do that anymore. I know I am!

While we were talking again, Caleb's eyes were getting really red and itchy, and he started sort of crying quietly. Finally he leaned over and whispered, "I don't want to come back here anymore." It was so sad! The doctor realized the steroid cream on the back wasn't cutting it, so he got some benedryl for Caleb, and then he started feeling better, poor guy.

As the doctor and I were talking about all of this, he said, "I can't belive that you have been just floating around all on your own for so long, trying to manage all of this!" I was so glad to hear him say that (especially since he went on to say that I had been doing a great job, LOL), because that was really how I have felt--like I had to be the one to figure out when I needed to ramp up his meds to manage his seasonal allergies and keep him from wheezing, etc., and without even really knowing what it was he was allergic to! I have felt very isolated, and it is so nice to know that I have someone on my team now. The doctor gave me his card and told me I was "family" now, and if I need another appointment for Caleb or have questions or whatever, I call this number directly. Woohoo!