Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pinkeye Update

Caleb's eye is so much better! He got up once during the night, but by morning, it was not anywhere near as red and swollen or gunky. I did indeed have some breast milk handy, so I put some of that in there (thanks for the idea, Carri!). I called it "medicine". He did want further clarification, though, because he was a little worried it was "regular milk", to which he is quite allergic. I told him it was breastmilk, and he was fine with that--anything as long as it's not regular milk, LOL. His eye looks great this evening. Praise the Lord!

Grace had some gunk in her eye tonight after dinner and before bed, so I put some breastmilk in there too. Hopefully that will prevent anything from really developing. We'll see! So far everyone else has clear eyes. I have a terrible head cold though, so I am not feeling my best. But as I keep telling myself, at least my eyes aren't all swollen and itchy!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In other news . . .

Well, the only thing marring Luke's birthday celebration is the fact that Caleb has come down with pink eye. Ack!!! He came in this morning saying, "Hey, Mom, my eye is all gunky!" Words to strike fear in any mom's heart, especially one with lots of kids. Sigh. I'm pretty sure it is viral, not bacterial, so there's no point in going in to see anyone. We've instituted strict handwashing protocols, but it will still take a miracle for everyone else to escape unscathed.

The other problem with this little outbreak is that we spent yesterday morning at our homeschool co-op, and yesterday afternoon over at Johanna's house. Johanna has 3 boys and is about 35 weeks pregnant with a little girl. And her husband is deployed. I brought her a gift of dinner . . . and I am hoping and praying we didn't inadvertantly bring her a very unwelcome gift of pinkeye!!! (I'm so sorry, Johanna--Caleb was fine yesterday! I had no reason to think this was coming at all!!!)

One reason we went over to Johanna's was so that I could borrow her pilates DVD. I was supposed to take that class tomorrow at lunch time. Well, I've rescheduled that for next Thursday. That will give me some more time to figure this pilates stuff out, LOL. We all did the abs workout last night, and let me tell you, that was a riot! It was a little embarrassing to realize that although you once used to be able to do things like roll yourself up to sitting, there is no way that you currently can do that without a good deal of reaching and grunting, LOL. Definitely not with grace, like the lovely teacher, who has probably not had one pregnancy in her life, not that I am resentful of her perfect abs or anything, LOL. Who knew my midsection was so incredibly weak?! I really was surprised. No wonder my pelvis shifted out of place! It's a wonder it didn't just fall out altogether! So now I have a week to improve before facing a class situation . . . I'm off to the basement right now to do some more. Nothing like being in front of a group for motivation!

Happy Birthday, LUKE!!!

Luke is 9 years old today!! We're going to celebrate with ice cream tonight, and then we'll bring a cake to Bible study next Friday, since we don't have Bible study this Friday. For his birthday dinner, Luke has requested . . . (be prepared for a gourmet dinner menu) . . . tuna and noodles. Yes, that's right! Out of my whole repetoire, he selected a meal that I make when I am totally rushed for time. It's out of a box (well, lots of boxes, LOL). Sigh. Caleb did a similar thing on his last birthday. I'm not sure why I bother with more elaborate meals, LOL. Oh well, anything for the birthday boy.

Of all my kids, Luke so far is the most like me in personality. The things that bother me about him are weaknesses of my own! He is still really shy, but this year has been a year of growth for him. He conquered his fear of riding horses, as well as climbed all the way up the rock-climbing wall at White Sulphur Springs this past Fall. I've seen him become more comfortable in his class at co-op, and he was a very confidant soccer player during the season. Who knows what this next year will bring?!

It's so nice to have another detail person in the house. Luke is my go-to man whenever something is missing. It is wonderful to have another set of eyes to help! Believe me, so far no one else in the house really gets all that concerned when things are missing--not anywhere near as concerned as I always get! He is a great big brother for the girls too. He loves to get Anna and Grace up from their naps. He is Anna's car buddy, and he is a tremendous help there, keeping her entertained.

Luke is such a blessing to our family. I am so glad God put him in our family 9 years ago, and I'm especially thankful for the Lord's care and mercy during his first few days of life, which were scary.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Working Together

The boys had a good time working together to make these kits from Lowes. We got them from Chik-Fil-A, where we went for dinner Thursday evening. Thursday night is Family Night there, and that night they had someone from Lowes helping kids make things. We didn't make the stuff there, but we took home 4 kits. The boys made 2 flower pot holders (what you see in the picture), as well as a picture frame and a desk calendar holder.

And here you can see what the girls accomplish when they work together. In our coffee table, we have a basket which holds ziploc baggies of all our various card games. Monday night, the night before the appraisal so we can refinance, when I was frantically running around trying to make sure all the last-minute cleaning was done, Anna opened all of these baggies and dumped them out. Grace thought that was a great idea, and she helped by flinging all the cards all over the place, so that they were good and messed up. Note my very disgruntled expression. It took me quite a long time to sort out all those decks of cards. Our kids all work so well together! LOL

A Big Day For the Kitchen

Look! A new dishwasher! Bob got it in and working today. We've already run our first load!! Its a Bosch SHE45M06UC, and we got it from Lowes. It is REALLY quiet, and it fits a lot of dishes. We are quite pleased. Bob was able to install it himself without too much hassle. I'm so thankful I have a handy husband!!

Here is our other new kitchen feature: a pot rack! We ordered it from Sams, and Bob put it up this evening. I am so totally thrilled to have another cabinet free, now that most of my pans are hanging. We will be able to store the coffee pot in the kitchen, instead of down in the basement like it is now! (Can you tell we are not coffee drinkers? We normally bring it up when we have company, LOL.)

I feel like I have a totally new kitchen! How exciting!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Fitting In"

Nathan and I listened to Adventures in Odyssey last night on our way to basketball practice. We rarely listen, but this episode really bothered me. So here's the story: a boy named Freddie wants his dad to change jobs so they would have to move. It turns out that he is getting bullied at school, has no friends, and the reason it takes him an hour to get home from school in the afternoons is that he is taking this long, circuitous route home so he won't get beaten up. The dad talks to the principal, who is sorry and will discipline the offenders but said it wouldn't really make that much difference, since he can't watch over Freddie all the time. The parents decide to send Freddie to a private school, although the dad doesn't want to teach Freddie to "run from his problems". Poor, poor Freddie! Nathan and I were quite sad at this point, and I was glad that Nathan wouldn't have to face that sort of treatment as an elementary age student!

So then Freddie went to the private school. His teacher asked him to stand up and talk about what he liked to do. "Collect butterflies" was his answer. Everyone laughed. The kids also laughed at how he combed his hair when he first stood up. Then his teacher asked about an interest in music, and Freddie said he wanted to learn how to play the harp. Yeah. Through a conversation with another kid later, we also find out that Freddie wears pants that are too short. Freddie tries to change his hair, but he still ends up getting beaten up at the new school. The parents are full of platitudes such as "Well, we think you're great just the way you are, Freddie! Why should you change your hair and clothes?" Eventually the dad has a talk with him about how no matter what he does to the outside, the inside will always shine through (which must have been so depressing to a kid who can't find a friend anywhere!) Now Freddie eventually accepts Christ as his savior and is going to let Christ work in him, so it ended up okay. But I was very bothered by the story on many levels.

First of all, if you as a parent are going to send your child out into the wide world all by themselves, then I think it is up to you to teach your child a few tricks of how to relate and get along in social situations. It cracks me up that people always think homeschoolers are so unsocialized, and actually my fear was that they were going to start homeschooling this poor geeky kid (which wouldn't have been a bad option for him), thereby adding to the myth of the unsocialized homeschooler. Obviously this boy's problems started earlier, and the parents never helped him see that you don't try to make yourself stand out in hostile situations? That you wait until you get to know people a bit before telling your big dreams, especially if they are what others might consider weird, like a boy wanting to play the harp? Why let your child MAKE himself into a walking bully target?! And make sure your child is not wearing clothes that are way too small and has totally geeky hair!

Obviously, there are going to be people out there who are just bullies no matter what you do, and of course there are areas that you should not change, no matter how you are bullied, but just leaving it as "Well, we like you!" seems to me to be a bit of a cop-out on the parents' part when there WERE legitimate social areas they could have helped their son develop in that would have made him not be such a target.

And the whole thing about "not running from your problems"? Good grief! The kid was obviously in late elementary school. I'm sorry, but life just should not be so dreadful for a CHILD at that age. Parents should be helping him avoid those kinds of problems, not letting him potentially be scarred for life! Take the kid home, teach him some social skills, let him enjoy life and whatever his interests are at his own pace, and then when he is older, let him find people out there who share his unique interests. By then, a person is much more confident in himself, and there are just more options for finding like-minded people than when one is in grade school.

Boy, the whole thing made me glad to be skipping the public school stuff though. Children's hearts are tender and precious. I don't want my child's heart out there, being stomped on daily, and me feel like there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

Funny Caleb Story

One of my friends from co-op called yesterday afternoon. She wanted to discuss a First Lego League team, which I think Nathan and Luke would really enjoy. She was also Caleb and Jonathan's teacher at co-op on Tuesday, and she had a funny story to tell about Caleb. She was talking (the subject this unit is "Jewish Feasts"), and she noticed that Caleb was leaning over and smelling the hair of the little girl in front of him! She caught his eye, and he sat back and grinned, obviously not at all bothered that she had caught him. Then, a few seconds later, he leaned forward and took another big whiff. What a goose! I'm not sure what this all means. Although Lisa didn't specify, I think I can guess who the little girl is--Taylor, who was also in his class last year, and who he hung around with on the playground during soccer saeson while we waited for the later practice to finish up. She's a sweetie. I guess her hair smells really nice too! This must be what happens when you grow up with only older brothers, and ones who could care less about taking regular baths. I certainly haven't noticed anyone burying thier noses in Nathan and Luke's hair and breathing deeply! LOL!

Lunar Eclipse

I'm a little late in getting around to posting this, but we were able to watch the lunar eclipse Wednesday night. We had a co-worker of Bob's over for dinner that night. His wife and baby daughter are down in Texas still sorting through things after the death of her mother, so he was lonely. We had a great time, including a game of Scrabble, and when he left, he mentioned to Bob not to forget about the eclipse. Which of course we totally had, LOL. We got Nathan and Luke up and we all went out to the deck to watch. Amazingly, the sky was pretty clear, so we had a great view. I think we came in a just the right time--the moon was still lit a little bit by the sun, but it was getting darker. We stayed out there with the boys until the moon was all the way dark and red. They were pretty impressed.

Back on Jan. 20, 2000, when we were stationed at the Air Force Academy, Bob and I watched a lunar eclipse. (I remember the date so clearly because I have a page in my scrapbook devoted to the event, LOL.) Because we were in Colorado, the eclipse seemed to be clearer, and the colors more vivid, but this one was nicer because we had Nathan and Luke to watch with us. Fun! I really enjoy sharing things like this with them!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chiropractic Update

This evening I had my fifth chiropractic treatment. All I can say is--wow! What a difference! My shoulder is so much looser and less tense. It's absolutely amazing. The doctor has given me several different exercises to strengthen the shoulder/back muscles to keep the shoulder from rolling forward. I've been doing them, and I have been so surprised at how weak that area is when isolated. No wonder I've had so many problems!

My hip is improving as well. Apparently my pelvis just got really twisted in this last pregnancy, and after I delivered, it stayed out of place. I could tell it was really off because I couldn't even comfortably cross my right leg over my left one anymore--it was so painful. Sometimes it hurt even just to walk. I was sure my hip was going to go into arthritis at the ripe old age of 34.

I really feel the Lord led me to the right chiropractor, one who specializes in skeletal-muscular issues. I can't believe I am feeling so much better! It feels like a miracle to me, because I really just thought I would have to live like this for the rest of my life.

Today the doctor was talking to me about what I do to exercise my abs. I told him I do sit-ups, crunches, etc. He asked how effective I thought they were, and I told him not at all, LOL. I always tell Bob that I feel like I could do sit-ups faithfully forever and still have the same saggy, poochy tummy! He told me I was exactly right, and that my weak stomach muscles are the ones underneath the outer "6-pack" layer". Those ones are pretty much shot after all these pregnancies. So the doctor told me he wanted me to go to one of their pilates classes (for free!) so I can learn those exercises and do them at home. He thought I was "self-disciplined enough" to do them at home. Well, hopefully so, especially if there is a chance that they might help my tummy, as well as helping my hip and shoulder stay in the correct alignment! So I am signed up for a pilates class next Thursday from 11:45-12:45. I must say this is incredibly out of my comfort zone. I am definitely an "exercise on the treadmill or bike in the privacy of my own bedroom" kind of gal, not one who does anything in front of strangers. I need to get a video out of the library or something so I'll at least know what to expect. (This is the exact sort of situation where I am reminded how very much I am like Luke, LOL.) I need to line up baby-sitting as well. I tell you, if this class wasn't going to be free, I would definitely just never get around to signing up for it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Dishwasher Saga, Ongoing

So I wrote a while back that our dishwasher up and died Friday, February 8. Bob and I looked at new dishwashers on our weekend away, but we still do not actually have a dishwasher. It's been quite an experience. Here's what's happened, and is happening, for those (like Melinda!) who are curious.

We read the Consumer Reports article on dishwashers at the library on Saturday, Feb. 9. Their top recommendation is the Sears 1374. We finally decided we would get that one (as opposed to the cheaper Whirlpool that was a Best Buy, but not so highly ranked) on Sunday, but when we were in the process of buying it, the not-very-helpful Sears salesman Derek told us we wouldn't be able to get it until Tuesday. Well, that stunk, since we really wanted to pick it up Monday so my dad could help Bob put it in. We were really hungry, so we just left without buying it then.

Bob went back to Sears on Thursday, Feb. 14, to actually buy it. Derek was still there, and this time he told Bob we couldn't get it until Feb. 23. This was frustrating, but oh well. We laid in a stock of paper plates and prepared to wait things out.

After that, Bob thought that maybe we should get stainless instead of black. Saturday we all went back to Sears to look at the stainless one and see if we should change our order. Well, Derek told us this time that we couldn't get a stainless one until March 1, either pick-up or delivery. Forget that!

Coincidentally, my brother Dan and his wife Melinda down in Texas were also looking for a dishwasher that same day! They decided they wanted a Bosch, so they went to Lowes and bought one, getting it price-matched to the cheaper Sears price. After we left Sears, we headed over to Lowes to check out Dan and Melinda's model, since we're nosy. Nice! Very nice! Quieter, with a stainless steel tub inside, and a Bosch name. Hmmmm.

After the kids went to bed Saturday night, Bob got on the computer. We didn't think there were any other Sears really close, but it turns out there is another one not too terribly far away. On the Sears website it showed that they had the stainless one in stock and available for store pick-up the next day. So Bob bought that on-line. Yay! Well, the next day I stayed home from church with the girls, and around 1:00 we got an email from Sears saying that, lo and behold, that model of dishwasher actually was NOT in stock, so they cancelled our order. When Bob got home, he called that Sears. Ahmed, the salesman at that store, told Bob that we actually could pick one up at their distribution warehouse (the same one that the Sears close to us uses) on Thursday, Feb. 21. Well, that's a whole lot sooner than March 1, but Bob asked him how come they have a "next-day delivery guarantee" on their website. Ahmed eventually said that was only for delivery. Bob said he'd much rather have them deliver it--he only said pick-up because he thought it would be faster, since the web site had said "available for store pick-up"! So then Ahmed said that it could be delivered Monday (yesterday). Bob signed up for that deal, but the whole exchange left us scratching our heads:

1. Why was the other store able to get things so much faster than the times Derek was giving us?

2. Why did it seem like if you said the magic word ("Next-day guarantee"), then all of a sudden you moved to the top of the list? Why did no one at either store ever say anything about this?

3. Why didn't Derek at least check around with other stores? If they all share the same warehouse, and evidentally there were ones in the warehouse, then . . .

4. Was Derek's lack of desire to expend any extra effort at all for us indicative of what we could expect for future customer service from Sears, especially in the hopefully unlikely event of there being a problem with the dishwasher? (Actually we had some other concerns in this area. Until the time when we brought in all the kids, Derek had a bit of an attitude with us. When Bob went in on Thursday to buy it, Derek said, "Hey, aren't you the guy that needed it in such a hurry on Sunday?" When Bob told him that is was because his father-in-law was in town, and he was hoping for his help, but now he had gone, Derek said, "Well, that's good, 'cause you're not getting it until Feb. 23!" Definitely not feeling our pain, LOL. Also, when just Bob and I were there, I was looking at cooktops and overheard a really weird phone call that Derek was having with a dis-satisfied customer. It was obvious she wasn't happy, and then Derek started dropping the phone on the counter! It was so bizarre! He would say something like, "I don't know what happened . . ." but there was a group of salesmen standing around snickering. Yeah . . . not sure what his deal was, but I didn't really look forward to dealing with him anymore.)

So, long story short, Bob and I just really didn't feel comfortable with the whole Sears situation. We ended up cancelling the delivery that would have come yesterday, and Bob went to Lowes and bought the same Bosch dishwasher that Dan and Melinda just bought. We'll have dishwasher twins, LOL. It should be delivered on Thursday. I'll let you know if it actually happens. Totally weird.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Teething Troubles

Grace and Caleb are both teething. Grace is getting in 2 more teeth on the top, and this means that she has a runny nose, a killer diaper rash that is just now starting to clear, lots of droll, and extra crabbiness.

Caleb's bottom 2 grown-up teeth are coming in, and this means he has turned into, I don't know, a moth. Or maybe a silverfish. Or just a plain old beaver. Whatever. He is chewing holes in all his shirts. It is driving. me. crazy. He came to the dinner table several nights ago, and I stared in horror at his shirt. It looked like the sleeves had turned into Swiss cheese !! There must have been 10 little holes on each sleeve, plus the hem was so frayed and gnawed! I asked him what on earth happened, and he couldn't really give me a straight answer, but when I went to the computer after dinner, there was green thread all around the computer chair! Good grief!! I pass down all the shirts, so really he is chewing up Jonathan's shirts, which made me even more displeased. So I put him on long-sleeve probation, and he is having to wear short-sleeve shirts until further notice. I still let him wear his jacket, although he was chewing on that last night as well. Grrrrr. Dan and Melinda got Grace some lovely little teething rings for Christmas. I'm thinking of tying them around Caleb's wrists. And I guess I will be looking for used 4/5 shirts at the consignment sales next fall. These ones we currently have are headed for the garbage can, I'm afraid.

Ear Problems

Well, last night is was Anna's turn to be the one keeping us awake. She has had a bad cough/runny nose thing going on for a little while, but last night she cried from 1:00 until 3:00. Not steadfast crying of course. No, the kind where she fusses around for a bit, then is quiet for just long enough that you start to drop off to sleep, and then she fusses around some more, so you constantly wonder if you should go do something, and if you do get up, what should you in fact do. Not much sleeping was done, either on her part or on ours. I went in several times with water, motrin, etc., but I will say that my parenting was not the best. I am exceptionally crabby in the wee hours of the morning, especially when I can't tell what the problem is and how to solve it. She wasn't running a fever, but I think that she might have an ear infection. She was tugging on her ear some this morning. I don't want to camp out in Bethesda's ER, so hopefully she'll kick it on her own. I put some olive oil in her ear, and she was much happier after that. She seems to be having a good nap now. We shall see.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was the recipient of not one but 7 Valentine balloons, one from each child plus Bob! We had a really nice dinner here at home. Bob grilled steaks in the kitchen. Our cooktop has a grill attachment, which we've never before actually used. To our surprise, it worked really well, and the steaks turned out great! (We were so surprised because 2 of the burners don't work so well, and the cooktop is about 15 years old--we figured something like the grill would for sure not work!) We also had baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and heart-shaped sweet potato biscuits, with heart-shaped rice krispie treats for dessert.

We ate this grand feast on fancy paper plates because we are still without a dishwasher. Bob bought one from Sears tonight while Nathan was at basketball practice, but it won't be in stock and ready for us to pick up until next Saturday (as in Feb. 23 just to clarify). So in the meantime we'll stick with paper plates. I know, I know--we're just like the pioneers . . . roughing it. Actually it hasn't been too bad. The boys have been good about rinsing cereal bowls, etc. out really well and just reusing them. We use these plastic bowls with built-in straws from WalMart, and each child has their own color. That makes it easy to keep track of!

I hope you all had good Valentine's Days with your sweeties!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Reptile Man

Today at our homeschool co-op, we finished off the reptile unit. The units all have 4 weeks of teaching, and then something special for the 5th week. For this fifth week, the Reptile Man (Mr. Michael) brought a bunch of reptiles to visit us. He talked from 10:30-12:30, and the kids were all very quiet and enthralled. The first thing he brought out was an alligator snapping turtle named Alexander. He put on a show by stretching his neck all over the place while opening and shutting his jaws. Next was a Mexican beaded lizard, which was quite a large lizard. After that came an alligator, which was only a few years old. This picture is of the assistant, Mr. David, holding the alligator. As he was getting the alligator out of his box, we got to hear the alligator hiss!

After the alligator, they brought out a crocodile, which was also only a few years old. The girls and I missed him because we went home so Grace could take a short nap. After the crocodile came the snakes--2 milksnakes, an anaconda, a copperhead, a rattlesnake (which actually did rattle), 2 cobras, and an albino python. That was where the girls and I came back in. Here is a picture of the python.

The kids all got to touch the python if they wanted to. Here are all the boys touching it. They all thought it felt really neat--soft instead of hard.

The man was really interesting and well-informed about reptiles. I, however, will never share his dedication and enthusiasm about reptiles, and I am just as glad to have this unit be over!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rest and Relaxation

Well, I must say that I am feeling rested and refreshed. It all started Friday afternoon, when I went for my first chiropractic appointment. I have had chronic pain in my right shoulder ever since May 95, when I had surgery to remove my right first rib after all my blood clot problems. We moved almost immediately after the surgery, and I never had any kind of follow-up with physical therapy or anything, and I have had such problems with that shoulder--hot, burning pain when it is stressed, and just sort of a dull ache most other times. Things that set it off include nursing, carrying a baby around, etc., so obviously things that don't impact my daily life. LOL!! You may wonder why I never got help before, but frankly, I think I have a high tolerance level for pain, and also I didn't know that anyone could really help me. I just thought it was my cross to bear, so to speak. Also, the military doesn't cover any sort of chiropractic care, so that never even really option. When we were in Colorado, I did get massages frequently from a massage therapy school, and those did help manage the pain.

What tipped me over to really look into chiropractic care was that last March, when I was 7 months pregnant with Grace, I started having real problems with my right hip. It felt like I had pulled something, but I just figured it was pregnancy-related and would go away after I had the baby. But it didn't. In fact, the pain got worse, and I felt like I was sort of hobbling around. Well, at this point I thought I was well on my way to becoming a crooked little old woman, and I was pretty desperate for relief. Also, this all came to a head in December, when I wasn't getting any sleep, and I thought I was going to have some kind of whole-body breakdown! I started asking around for chiropractor recommendations, since I was pretty worried about getting some crazy neck-cracker. I dithered around for awhile, but eventually I settled on a man that several people in our homeschool co-op go to. His website talked about the technique he specializes in, and it was for soft-tissue injuries such as chronic muscle problems. Hey! That's me!

When I found out my parents were coming, I sprang into action and scheduled my first appointment for Friday afternoon so they could watch the kids. The appointment went really well, and I finally have hope that I will be able to find relief from all this pain. He did a lot of stretching and muscle manipulation, as well as electric stimulation of the muscles, both in my shoulder and my hip. He did some adjusting, but nothing violent. I really felt a difference after he finished, although the problems are not completely gone. He said that after maybe 2 or 3 weeks, I should be straightened out enough that he can give me exercises to do to strengthen my shoulder muscles so they don't roll forward like they have been. Also, he said that it is very common for your pelvis to rotate and shift during especially the last trimester of pregnancy, and that is what happened to mine. It just never shifted back.

So I was feeling pretty relaxed and happy by the time Bob came home. The only fly in my ointment was that our dishwasher had chosen Friday morning to give up the ghost. What timing, although is there ever a convenient time for a dishwasher to go out?! We went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner, where Bob and I split a salad so that we would have room for us to each get a piece of cheesecake for dessert. As Bob said, "This is not the 'Chinese Chicken Salad Factory'; it's the Cheesecake Factory!" So we both thoroughly enjoyed cheesecake: caramel pecan turtle cheesecake for me, and chocolate coconut creme for Bob.

After dinner, we checked out dishwashers at Best Buy. Then we came home so I could nurse one last time, and when we set out again, we looked at Home Depot and Lowes. Hey, that might not seem very romantic to you, but let me tell you, anything that keeps us from having to bring all 6 kids to several different stores, just for us to look around and get an idea of prices and features is VERY romantic in my book! Then we had a very restful night of sleep--from 11:00 to after 7:00 with no interruptions!! I will cherish this memory . . . sigh . . .

Meanwhile, the kids reprised their night-time restlessness for Grandma and Grandma. First Anna and Grace fussed around off and on for quite a while. Then Jonathan was up to his old early morning stand-by-the-bed-for-attention potty routine. Caleb got up a little while later feeling wheezy. After an unsuccessful search for his inhaler, Grandma sent him back to bed. Obviously he must not have been too bad off because he did go right back to sleep. The other boys took turns coughing through the night as well. At least Grace (who had gotten shots Friday morning) did not wake up in the middle of the night wanting to be nursed! She did very well with a sippy cup.

After Bob and I had a nice big breakfast at the hotel, we were off again, this time to Sears for more dishwashers. The good news is I think we have narrowed down our choices. The bad news is, if we get one from Sears, then we will probably wait until Feb. 15 to get one, since the salesman told me they were having a 15% off sale starting then. Mom and Dad will be gone by then (and Dad happens to have experience installing dishwashers!), and I am not looking forward to another week without a dishwasher. Even with paper plates, 8 people use up a lot of dishes! But I am looking forward to a nice, new dishwasher. Ironically, a new dishwasher has been on our list for quite a while already. Our old one, a GE, has been recalled for some kind of electrical problem, and we also were having some problems with the seal. New ones are so much bigger and quieter. Almost anything we get will be a real step up! Of course, as long as the old one was still working, replacing it just didn't have the same sense of urgency that it does now, LOL. Hopefully I will have something concrete to report to you within the next week. In the meantime, I am hoping for another restful night sleep, this time in my own bed. We'll see . . .

Grace at 9 months

Grace turned 9 months old on Feb. 1, and she had a 9 month well-baby appointment Friday morning. Since my parents were here, I was able to just take her! How nice! She weighed in at all of 14 pounds, 2 ounces, which puts her under the 3rd percentile, so she is still officially a peanut. The doctor didn't give me too big of a hassle about her, since she is obviously alert, healthy and active. The one big beef I had with the doctor was when she found out I was still breast-feeding, she told me that I was only breast-feeding for comfort now, not nutrition, and I should start giving Grace milk in a sippy cup. Well, I don't have a problem giving Grace milk in a sippy cup, but I certainly know that breast-feeding is still the best thing nutritionally! Even the American pediatric doctor society (whatever its acronym is, LOL), recommends breast-feeding until a year. I guess this doctor didn't get that memo. I went back and checked Luke's baby calendar, and he was 18 pounds, 1 ounce at 1 year. Grace, being a girl, should be a bit smaller, but she is definitely on the same pace as he was (is).

So what else can Grace do now? Well, she has mastered climbing stairs, a feat of some significance since 1. she has not yet mastered going down stairs without falling, and 2. we have 3 sets of stairs in this house. Everyone is on high alert to grab her if she should happen to start climbing. In my spare moments, I am working on teaching her to turn herself around to go down. With all the spare moments I have, she should be good to go . . . in a year or so.

She will also stand for a minute unsupported, although she still will not move her feet. She will cruise around a bit on furniture, and she loves to walk holding on to someone's hands. She also loves to clap her hands, especially at Nathan's basetball games.

She is mainly eating table food now. I still give her baby food, especially at lunch, just to make sure she gets more, but she also eats sandwiches and pretty much anything else we are eating. She picked up on feeding herself pretty quickly. I think that's a survival technique for #6, LOL. I certainly don't have time to just sit there and keep spooning food into her mouth!

Grace is a happy girl with a big smile, who is fortunate to be adored by 4 older brothers and one older sister! She leads a pretty great life right now!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Wow, another birthday for me! For all those who have sent me cards or wished me a happy birthday, thank you very much! I did have a very nice day! My friend Johanna came with her 3 boys after her midwife appointment, and they played here the whole afternoon while Johanna and I visited. My boys had such a great time. Johanna and I went to high school together, and it is so fun to still be in touch with her and realize how much we have in common!

My parents drove in from Ohio this afternoon in time for dinner. What a wonderful birthday present! But wait--it gets better! Tomorrow night Bob and I are going away while they watch the kids--all 6 of them! I was trying to remember the last time Bob and I were able to spend the night away from the kids, and I think it was when we went up to Amish country with Amy and Jason back when I was 35 weeks pregnant with Jonathan. So I guess you could say we are due for another night away! I am so looking forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep, and a morning of sleeping in. Although our issues of the past few months seem to have resolved themselves, there are still times when Grace wakes up earlier than ideal, or someone else has some other personal problem. Hopefully I can get all the recharging I need out of one night away, LOL!

After a spaghetti dinner tonight, we all had ice cream to celebrate (remember, cake is not my thing). It was a great birthday, and I'm looking forward to a great birthday weekend as well!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mama's Kind of Birthday Treat

I am not a cake person. I know, I know--I make all those elaborate cakes for the kids, but for me, I really don't love cake. So to celebrate my birthday, which is next week, I made something different to share at Bible study tonight:

. . . chocolate-covered strawberries. Mmmmmmmmmm. I double-dipped 2 1/2 quarts of strawberries this afternoon in the good, good chocolate that I use for my Christmas candies. I left the other 1/2 quart updipped so Caleb wouldn't feel left out. I did half in milk chocolate, and half in dark chocolate. Personally I thought the dark ones were the best, but some others at the study preferred the milk ones . Regardless, they were all VERY yummy, and they all disappeared in a very short amount of time. Good thing I had also brought some chocolate oatmeal walnut bars left over from a co-op moms meeting last night! I am thinking I will go for the chocolate-covered strawberries each year now. That sounds like a wonderful tradition to start, don't you agree?! Much less complicated and better tasting than elaborate Star Wars cakes!