Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Problem Solved!

Here's our problem: a lot of kids who like to play outside, even in the summer, and who wear things like rollerblades. Well, okay, that in and of itself is not really a problem. But they need lots of water, and we don't want them skating on inside. Bringing cups outside is also not an ideal solution because rarely do all of them make it back inside, plus they invariably spill or get bugs in them or whatever.

So Bob had to do some deep, heavy thinking to solve this problem. He came up with a Waterdog Pet Fountain.

It's a water fountain that attaches to your faucet with a Y connector, so you can still hook up your hose! It has ultrasonic sensing technology, so when it senses movement in front of it, water starts up, and when it doesn't sense any more movement, it shuts off. Here's a closer view of this wonderful little device.
Obviously it is supposed to be for dogs, LOL. Bob installed it upside down so the water shoots up in an arc, instead of down, where it would go into a dog's mouth. Also, he got a piece of PVC pipe to make it as tall as it could possibly be. It's perfect for Anna and Grace, and a little short for Nathan and Luke, but oh well. Water problem solved! Way to go, Bob, for thinking outside the box!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nathan!

Yesterday was a very momentous day in our family. Not only did Bob retire from active duty, our oldest son Nathan turned 13! Nathan was very gracious to share his special day with Bob! This in turn made his birthday more special, since Uncle Paul and Brandon were here for dinner and ice cream! (We had his cake last Friday--the Penguins jersey.) Nathan really wants ribs for his birthday dinner, but that just wasn't feasible with us being out all afternoon for the retirement ceremony. So we're having the ribs tomorrow night. We're the champs at stretching out birthday celebrations!
Our present, as well as that from Grandma and Grandpa B., is a season of football, along with cleats, mouthguard, and several sessions of conditioning he's been doing with a group Sunday evenings. That all doesn't come cheap, you know, LOL. Nathan was very happy with this, since it is what he really, really, wanted to do this year, his last year to be eligible to play for the county league. My parents gave him books by Alex and Brett Harris--Do Hard Things, and the companion book, Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. These are books written by 2 teenagers, challenging our cultural norm that teenagehood is a time to coast by, with very low expectations. They encouarge teens to do 5 kinds of hard things:
1. Things that are outside your comfort zone.
2. Things that go beyond what is expected or required.
3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone.
4. Things that don't earn an immediate payoff.
5. Things that challenge the cultural norm.
I am looking forward to how the Lord will use Nathan, and I hope these books will help him think through his next few years. I'm also looking forward to reading them myself! You're never too old to do hard things for the glory of the Lord!
Here is a bonus picture of Faith. She is also enjoying Nathan's birthday ice cream. She had chocolate--I bet you couldn't guess! We had spaghetti for dinner, so that combined with the ice cream, led to bathtime immediately following! And since she made it through the entire day with only short naps on the way to and from Bob's work, she then went promptly to bed!

Retirement Ceremony

Yesterday afternoon we had Bob's retirement ceremony. Because of where he works, no cameras, cell phones, any electronic device pretty much, are allowed in the building, so we could not take any pictures. There was an official photographer, and someone from that office told Bob today that he would receive a disk of the pictures next week sometime. But right now, all I have is this picture of our family in our front hallway!

We were honored to have Bob's sister Ann and her daughter Christi come up from Richmond, as well as Bob's brother Paul and his son Brandon come down from PA. My parents were also here. It was so special to have family here to celebrate with us! We were so glad they came! Paul and Brandon spent 2 nights with us, and the kids were lobbying for them just to stay forever, LOL.

Our very good friend Ed L. was the emcee/presiding officer. He also was the one who led the ceremony when Bob pinned on Major back in Colorado. Bob wanted something less formal and more personal than some of the ceremonies he had seen recently, and Ed did such a fantastic job.

My dad gave the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony, and then we all sang the National Anthem. Ed introduced the family members, and then he recounted Bob's Air Force career. They called me up and gave me my certificates of appreciation. Then Bob got a bunch of certificates, medals, and other miscellaneous tokens, including a shovel signed by the people he worked with (the "Ground Component"). Then Ed read the retirement orders, and Bob said a few things, and that was that! Luke commented, "It was good . . . it wasn't too long, but nothing was left out." I was glad it wasn't too long because right as we were sitting down and getting started, Anna whispered that she needed to go potty. She had just had ample time to perform this function, but she refused all those opportunities. In the building, we couldn't go anywhere without Bob escorting us, and we couldn't very well leave the ceremony anyways, so I told her she just had to hold it. So brevity was indeed a very good thing!

Bob and I shook hands with everyone on the way out of the auditorium, and there was a nice reception in the atrium. There was pizza, as well as a chocolate fountain with fruit, and cake. It was nice!

Bob has to work a few days next week, and then he'll pretty much be done, even though his retirement orders are dated 1 August. He's been talking to some companies about jobs, so that will be his focus on these next few weeks. Hopefully it will be a smooth transition to retired life!

Monday, June 21, 2010

That Sinking Feeling . . .

This morning we cleaned and did a bit of school, and this afternoon we left around 2:00 to head to the commissary. The trip was uneventful, and we got less stuff than we normally do. Usually we spend around $650 every 6 weeks there, but this time is was just under $550. I knew it would be less because the two carts were not piled roundly high, where I have to wedge things in so they don't slip off the top of the mountain!

There are 2 ladies who work in the meat department, and they recognize us now, and always come out to talk to us when they see me browsing the meats! They really like the kids, and this time we got around to introducing all the kids. The ladies recognized all the names as Bible names, and said they thought our kids were as well-behaved as the Duggars, LOL. They're both fans of the show, apparently. It's fun to be recognized in a good way, though!

After we brought the car around for the bagger to start loading, I immediately started putting brown paper sacks of groceries on the floor under Faith's feet, as I usually do, while the bagger put stuff in the back. We always have to put stuff at Nathan's feet, and usually on the floor at Luke and Grace's feet too, so I was mildly surprised when the bagger finished up, and shut the door, without needing to put anything on the floor at all! Plus, he was really speedy too. Wow! But it was almost 100 degrees at the Ft. Myer parking lot today, so I didn't stand around cogitating. I hopped back in the van, cranked up the air conditioning and headed home. Who knew spending just $100 less would make such a difference in the amount of bags we had?!

When we got into home, we leaped into action, since I told everyone that we had lots of frozen stuff, like a 5 qt. tub of chocolate ice cream--don't want that melting into a puddle! Everyone worked like a well-oiled machine, bringing bags of groceries in, unloading inside bags, and unloading bags in the garage into the outside fridge and freezer. Nathan kept asking where the big ice cream tub was. And the frozen pizzas. Hmmm. We got all the bags out of the van in record time and were almost done stowing them . . . when we realized the ice cream just wasn't there. Neither was the apple juice. Or the big jug of veg. oil. Or any frozen vegetables, lunch meat, 2 family-size packs of boneless chicken breasts, a watermelon, and random cans of tuna, soup, peanut butter, etc. One whole cart of groceries, in other words. No wonder everything fit so easily! We got the receipt and realized it must have been the first cart loaded because it was primarily everything from the beginning of the receipt. So that cart must have been pushed aside while the baggers filled up the other carts, and never brought outside with us. Grrrrrrrrrrr. It was now after 5:00.

Bob came home from work, and we related our sad tale of woe. We called the commissary and left a message, and they finally returned the call. Yes, they had found the cart. They had wheeled it into a walk-in fridge, and they had taken out the bags of frozen stuff and put them in a freezer. At least my ice cream wasn't melting! They offered to take everything out, scan it, and give up a refund, but I needed the stuff! We have company coming tomorrow! Bob's retirement ceremony is Thursday! So clearly I would have to make the trek back into D.C at rush hour to rescue my poor groceries.

I took Nathan with me so I could HOV on the way home. There was tons of traffic, as you might expect, so it took us about 2 hours, round trip. I was glad we went though. There was a bagger number on the receipt, #80, and so I was definitely grumbling about him in my mind. When we got there, the head bagger was quick to help us get our groceries out, and another gentleman pushed everything to the van. As we were walking out, he pointed out another older black gentleman and asked if that was who my bagger was. I told him that man had helped bag, but he wasn't the guy who pushed everything (not) out to the curb and loaded it. The man said the older gentleman was #80, so I was so glad I was there to clear his name, so he wouldn't be blamed for anything! It was this younger kid, and I guess he just wasn't paying much attention. I described him, and the man said, "Ah, yes . . .I know EXACTLY who you are talking about . . ." So I'm thinking things aren't looking so good for that guy.

As Nathan and I were driving home, as soon as we got on the highway, we saw an accident on the other side, where we had been driving maybe 20 minutes before! The police were already there, so it must have happened just moments after we had gone by! We saw a second accident also on that side as we continued on home, so we felt like we left accidents in our wake! I wasn't driving crazily, honest! It was pretty bumper to bumper, though, so I guess people weren't paying attention. So glad I wasn't involved! I am pretty sure that would have made the day rank right down there with our zoo trip last year where my wallet was stolen. Now, to turn into bed early . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!!

We had a great Father's Day celebration here today! Although, now that I think about it, Bob didn't get much of a break--he was up early making French toast for everyone, and he grilled the chicken we ate for lunch! Well, we are definitely thankful for such a greast dad as Bob. He's so much fun, and he loves his kids well!

Luke and I found the best card for him when we were out a few weeks ago. It's a Star Wars one, with the Millenium Falcon on the front. There's a little bubble saying, "Shut the hatch!! We're not air-conditioning the whole galaxy, you know!" If you have spent any time at our house, you will know that Bob is always reminding the kids to shut the door!

We bought him a new mp3 player for a present. We had one, the one I planned on listening to while in labor in Faith, although I never needed it. Somehow the cord to charge it disappeared, so that one hasn't been useful for awhile, LOL. I didn't like it anyway--it wasn't very user-friendly. This one is a Sansa Clip, like the one Nathan bought for himself with his jerky money. He's been quite pleased with his, so hopefully bob will like this one too.

After church, we came home, and Bob grilled chicken for us. This was actually "mystery chicken", as I really have no idea where we got it. We have been eating down our freezer so I could defrost it (which I did this afternoon--woohoo!), and last week I noticed a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with a big lump of what looked to chicken in some kind of sauce. But I never buy name-brand Ziploc freezer bags, especially not the kind with the zipper, and this meat was double-bagged in them! There was no writing on the bag or anything. I got it out to thaw and determined it was bone-in chicken in some sort of barbeque sauce marinade. I have absolutely no clue where this chicken came from. My mom thought maybe it was a meal someone brought when Faith was born, but I really doubt it. I've cleaned out the freezer since then, and I'm also pretty sure we ate all the meals brought to us during that time! Beside that, Faith is 16 months old now--this chicken didn't taste that old or freezer-burned! (Maybe it was the double-bagging?) Well, wherever it came from, it was delicious! We enjoyed it! We also had roasted asparagus, white bean salad, pineapple and strawberries, and bread. We had leftover birthday cake and ice cream for dessert.

Then we had our small group meeting at our house this evening, so we had more great fellowship with friends from church. A very nice day all around!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cake For Jonathan and Nathan

Jonathan turned 7 on June 2, and Nathan will be turning 13 on June 24. For the second year in a row, they have agreed on a cake, so I only have to make one for them to share! (Last year it was the aircraft carrier cake .) This year they decided upon the Penguins jersey of their star, Sidney Crosby. I convinced them to have the away jersey, which is mainly white, as opposed to the home jersey, which is mainly black. You can tell this is Crosby's jersey because of the black "C" on the front, as well as the number 8 on the left sleeve and the number 7 on the right sleeve, which you can't really tell in the picture. (His number is 87.)

Although this was a very easy cake to shape, it was quite difficult for me to decorate, and it took over 2 1/2 hours. I would much rather cut and sculpt cake, then painstakingly try to get tiny bits of frosting where I want them to go to make a design, like the Penquins logo! I did the logo free-hand, with just a round tip. Then I tried to smooth out the design with my finger.
Here are the happy birthday boys! Jonathan's candles are in the top left quadrant, and Nathan's are in the bottom section. We had quite a blaze going with 20 candles!

Pulmonary Follow-Up

Yesterday afternoon we took Caleb back to Bethesda for a follow-up appointment at the pediatric pulmonary. Back in September, we had our first appointment , which was the miraculous one where they called US to make the appointment! Nevery happens!

So we took Caleb off his Singulair the end of December, and he has been fine since. He did have some rough times in March and April, which is when he usually suffers, and he did have to have his inhaler for a few weeks. To be honest, however, Luke was the one who really suffered this spring allergy season. He was dramatically allergic to some tree or something, and after being outside for any length of time, his eyes would itch and swell up. In contrast, Caleb seemed just fine!

Caleb's lung function was checked again yesterday, and all his readings were greater than the predicted 100% value, so he is breathing really well. The doctor did say his nasal linings were still swollen a bit, even after using Flonase daily, so it's probably a good thing he's on it. He's stay on the Zyrtec, and when he has problems, like I'm predicting starting late August, he'll go on his Flovent inhaler twice a day.

The doctor asked when he had last seen an allergist. I told her I had tried to get a referral last June, but the doctor I saw then totally blew me off and said Caleb didn't need to see one. I was going to go back and try another doctor, but I never got around to it, LOL. I really think he is getting less sensitive to milk, but his pecan/walnut allergy is still the biggie. Not sure about peanuts. So I would like to see the allergist! This doctor wrote a referral, so I'll call about that on Monday. And she also wrote new prescriptions for all his meds, so we're set for awhile. Yay!

I was so proud of all the kids. When we were shown back into the exam room, I left Nathan, Luke, Jonathan, Anna, and Grace there, while Caleb, Faith and I went into the room for the lung capacity testing. When we got back into the room, the doctor was already in there, and she told me how impressed she was to walk in and see Nathan reading a book to the others, who were all sitting there quietly! So nice to hear and think back upon when everyone is running around, fussing and bickering, LOL.

Again, I have been so pleased with the pediatric clinic at Bethesda (well, not the one guy who wouldn't give me the allergy referral, but he was the only one! And he wasn't active duty!). And I am so pleased to hear how well Caleb is doing! I would say that there are still some emotional issues that haven't been completely resolved by being off the Singulair (although some of those might just have become habits), but all the physical stomach/muscle pain, shaking, etc. have gone away, praise the Lord.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Friday after Busch Gardens, Bob dropped me off in downtown Richmond so I could go shop at HEAV, the annual homeschool convention for Virginia. It's huge. I knew I wouldn't have time to shop and go to workshops, so I just paid to shop. I know, that's crazy! But shipping is free, and there are lots of bargains, so it probably does equal out. It is SO nice to be able to page through things. I am hoping that maybe next year I'll be able to go for more than just one day, so that I can shop and attend workshops. Some of the speakers are so good!

While there, I saw a ton of big families--they had like 7 kids! LOL, I guess I just don't feel like we're that big of a family, but when you see a family where all the girls plus mom are dressed in identical print dresses with matching hair bows pulling back their (long) hair, and the boys plus dad are all wearing coordinating solid color polo shirts with khaki pants--well, they just scream out "Big family!" Or maybe "singing group", LOL. We only coordinate at amusement parks, we don't have long hair, and I don't sew, so that's probably the difference. I did see surprisingly few denim jumpers, although there were a lot of ladies wearing skirts and dresses.

I had SUCH a fun day all by myself (well, along with several thousand strangers). I happily wandered through the entire exhibit hall for several hours. I know even Bob would have been bored to tears! I talked for a long time to Amy Barr, one of the founders of Lukeion Project, which offers online classes about the classical world. She and her husband are the teachers, and they are archeologists who have excavated several sites in Greece and Italy. I have seen many threads about their classes on the Well-Trained Mind board, and everyone has raved about them! I think I would like Nathan and Luke to take some of their classes about Roman history sometime. I think they would really enjoy them.

I was also able to look at some things I was considering for Nathan for English next year. If you recall, I was debating whether or not to do Rod and Staff 8 with him, or maybe something less time-consuming. I actually found an 8th grade grammar workbook at the used sale which I think will be wonderful for him. It will be enough review, plus he'll have the writing assignments in our co-op to put all the concepts he's spent the last many years learning.

I also finally signed up for our $35 membership kit at the parentalrights.org booth. They are trying to get a Constitutional amendment passed to stop the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child. I don't think people really understand the threat the U.N. poses as far as what we are allowed to do in raising our children, so I encourage you to go over to the website and find out about it! Then you can sign the petition! I have meant to get the membership kit for awhile, but I just never did it when I was on the computer. We have some students at Patrick Henry at our church who are working for Parentalrights.org, and I felt bad when we were talking to them last Sunday, and I had to admit what a slacker I was! Not anymore though, LOL. Now I just need to put the bumper stickers and window decals on our vans, and wear our new t-shirt around!

I was excited to go to the used book sale, since it's really big. The one at the Northern VA conference is set up like your usual curriculum sale, with each person renting a table. You really have to search around to find something you might be looking for. This one, however, is divided by subject and grade, although it still wasn't perfect. For one thing, there was no "miscellaneous" table, and it was hard to think of what subject some books might be located. For example, I wanted to find a Classical Conversations Foundations book for someone in our Bible study who is doing it next year (and I can't give her mine because I like having all the memory work there!). I had no idea where to even look for that! It had categories like "children's fiction", "youth fiction", and "adult fiction", but there was no rhyme or reason about how people decided what books were in what category, so I ended up looking at all the categories. Plus, no one was giving anything away! I think you have a better chance at finding great deals when the individual sellers have all their books right there. But it was fun, and I did find some good books for us. I had a list of books we will need for Tapestry of Grace next year, but I had priced them used on Amazon before we went down there. Most of them were cheaper at Amazon, so I held off buying, although I did find a few things.

I packed a peanut butter sandwich and a small baggie of somewhat stale trail mix from the van for me to munch on. I was pretty hungry by the time Bob and the kids picked me up! And tired. I walked around from 10:30 until 5:30, with just a short break to eat my sandwich at lunchtime.

While I was walking and browsing, Bob and the kids were back at Ann's. They toured Meadow Farm, which is a colonial house near them. They also played in the sprinklers and a little pool. Then they got everything all packed up in the van so we could just continue on home once they picked me up. It was a busy two days, but we had a great time! Now it's good to be home, with everyone sleeping in their own beds!

Busch Gardens!

Wednesday afternoon we drove down to Richmond, where we stayed with Bob's sister Ann and her family. We had a delicious meal of grilled chicken ka-bobs, and we walked over to a really nice playground near their house.

Thursday we were all up bright and early for the trip over to Busch Gardens! Ann and Wally's son Matthew went, as did their daughter Christi and her husband Andres. Again we all wore red shirts, so we could keep track of each other! This was our last time to get the "Here's to the Heroes" passes for 4 of us, since it is Bob's last summer on active duty. Busch Gardens is also celebrating the 1 year anniversary of their Sesame Street Forest of Fun, so they were offering free passes to kids under 5. I had to fill something out on line and bring their birth certificates. So we only paid for Caleb and Jonathan! Actually, when we got to the window and laid out all our IDs, birth certificates, etc., the lady working there said they would have "taken care of us" for Caleb and Jonathan, so we didn't need to buy them tickets. But we couldn't have possibly known that, since everything about the program says "up to 4 free tickets"! We can't complain though--$78 for all 9 of us! Even a better deal than last year!

Last year, the weather was absolutely perfect--overcast and cool, looking the entire day as if rain were imminent. Thursday was hot with nary a cloud in the sky. I was so glad I wasn't carrying a nursing baby in a frontpack, like I was last year, or pregnant! Our niece Christi is pregnant, however, so I really felt for her! I always really felt the heat while pregnant. The park was more crowded than last year, but it was still not "crowded", so there was hardly any waiting in line, and everyone could ride as much as they wanted to.

Anna and Grace both enjoyed all the kiddie rides. Anna was tall enough this year to ride the Elmo roller coaster in the Sesame Forest of Fun, so that was VERY exciting and monumental for her, LOL. Grace managed to lose her hat on one of the first rides she rode on. I was bummed because it was a light khaki Old Navy hat of which I have one of every kid size, from 12 months up to medium. But as we were walking out of the park at night, I stopped by Lost and Found, and voila, there it was! Someone had turned it in! I was very excited! I don't think she cared much either way. It wasn't purple, LOL.
Jonathan was still just a hair too short to be able to ride the big roller coasters, much to his disappointment. Here he is on the Battering Ram with Andres and Ann. He said he had a good time when he got off, but Luke, Bob, and Nathan were sitting on the other side of the ram, looking across at him, and they said he looked terrified! I was watching too, and I saw him clutching Andres for dear life! He tells me it was his favorite ride, though, so he did like it!

Caleb could have ridden the roller coasters, but he had no desire to do so. He even held back on some of the other rides. His favorite one was the Roman Rapids, where everyone got soaked. He rode that a few times! The water felt very refreshing!

Luke also held back on the roller coasters, but he rode the other rides. He still likes going in circles, but not the slamming aorund of the g-forces in roller coasters. His favorite ride was also the Battering Ram.

Nathan was a super-coaster rider, riding all the coasters at the park, even the Griffon, a floorless dive coaster. Here is a description: Each train consists of three rows of ten seats. Once strapped in, the loading platform floor drops and a voice recording says, "Now, prepare to enjoy the power and speed of the mythical Griffon!" After a right turn out of the station, riders climb a 45-degree lift hill running about 10 feet per second (6.8 mph), 205 feet up. Then they make another turn to the right and face the Royal Palace Theatre. The trains pause on a holding brake for six seconds before dropping 205 feet at 90° hitting 71 mph. The ride then goes into a 146-foot Immelmann loop before making a sweeping turn upward to the left and into the block brake. Riders will then drop 130 feet down at 87° toward The Rhine River and into another 100-foot Immelmann inversion briefly showing the Loch Ness Monster. Finally, riders will exit a bunny hop into a water splash pool. Each of the three trains produces a different water spray pattern up to 45 feet high. Riders then encounter a small dip just before the final brake run and station.

Andres was the convincing factor here, and he was proved right--they ended up riding it 5 times! First they were in the back row, then the middle, and then 3 times in the very front. Bob said that was really windy, though. It was Nathan's favorite ride.

Bob rode the Griffon and also the Loch Ness Monster, but that was all the roller coasters for him. He did accompany Jonathan and Caleb on a few of the "spider"-type rides, where your car spins around and goes up and down, and he was glad for that to be over!

Faith's favorite thing to do was watch, LOL. She did not want to be in the stroller, but she also was not a big fan of any of the rides. We had to stop 2 of them to get her off! She even fussed on the carousel, sitting with me on a BENCH! After lunch we played for while in the very shallow wading pool area, and she was very happy there. Just as long as no one is making her go in circles or up and down!

As for me, I rode on a few rides. Like the teacups. And one kiddie ride. And, let's see . . . well, the carousel. That's about it. I used to really enjoy going around, like in the teacups. Wednesday night, at the playground, they had these neat little cups on a bent pole, and when you sat in them, you twirled around. It was so fun! I rode around and around! And when I got off, I started not feeling so good, LOL. I had a headache and a bit of a stomachache for the rest of the evening. I never was big into rides, and now it looks like I'm just done. I'm definitely getting old! Hey, someone's got to watch the stroller. (Maybe that's why we keep having babies?!) Here is a picture of Luke in the crazy cup thing at the playground:

We didn't eat lunch until about 2:30. Nathan had been busy Tuesday, so we had a wide selection of dehydrated fare to tide us over--strawbery fruit leather, pineapple, and jerky. Plus, who wants to go on roller coasters after eating lunch? Although after lunch is when the Griffon was ridden, LOL. We had a nice picnic on the grass by our vans. This is a picture of all of us excpet Matthew and me.

Once again we closed out the park. On our way home, we stopped for pizza in Williamsburg at Sal's, like last year, although Sal's is in a different location right now. That's because just shortly after our visit there last year, it burned down! So they are in a temporary locationw hile rebuilding. The pizza was still so good! We were all ravenous, and we consumed 3 extra-large pizzas in very short order. We got back to Ann and Wally's house around 10:30. Everyone slept well that night because we were so exhausted!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Proof in Pictures

This morning Bob took most of the kids swimming at our local rec center. Luke and I stayed home, and we tackled the garage. We made some serious progress (sorry, no "before" pictures, LOL), and we wanted to be sure to record that progress because I am sure before a day or two goes by, the garage will somehow fall out of order, and everything will be strewn about all over the floor. But for right now--look at all that floor!
In fact, if it weren't for the lovely red pole in the middle of the garage, and the fact that we have 2 doors, we could actually park a van in here! But since we can't park in the middle, we instead have a set of shelves and all Bob's tool stuff there. It's like the tool corral at Home Depot.
Speaking of the 2 garage doors, Bob came up with a brilliant use of that space awhile back. He made a plywood box with rubber on the bottom to fit in the space between the 2 garage doors. This is where the boys put all their hockey sticks (theoretically of course. In practice, they dump them on the floor wherever they happen to land, until Luke and I clean the garage . . .) Then he screwed a green kitchen trashcan (our old one before we got our lovely stainless one) to the box, and this is where their Rip Stiks go. Then in front of that is a 5 gallon Lowes bucket with a circle drilled out of the top, which is lined with a piece of a pool noodle. That is where the lacrosse sticks go, as well as the big plastic hockey sticks for Anna and Grace. Isn't that nice?

Not all of our storage is high-tech, however. We have boxes full of bike helmets, wrist and knee pads, and roller blades. And since no one can immediately find their pair, the whole box inevitably gets dumped out. Grrr. So we need a better system, but 6-7 pairs of roller blades do not take up a trivial amount of space! Clearly we need, at the very least, a bigger box!

Here is one last bonus picture. Faith is eating yogurt and demonstrating her ability to make a huge mess. You should see the garage once she's had a shot at it! She does have a lovely strawberry on her forehead. This is a result of a faceplant she did on the street during one of our nightly walks. She wanted to be out of the stroller and walking with everyone else, but she went a little fast and tripped. She still didn't want to be in the stroller though, LOL. Anna and Grace are always glad to take her place for awhile.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Simple Necessities

Our church started a food pantry back in January, and they have been distributing food once a month, as well as for emergency situations. Although we live in a county with one of the highest average incomes in the US, there are also a lot of people just barely scraping by. Our food pantry is definitely filling a need, and we all love to bring food in for it. Pretty much whenever we are out shopping, we try to spend about $10 and see how much we can get. We've found some amazing loss leaders, especially at Wegmans. Twice they have had bottles of laundry detergent for $1.99 a bottle! That is an amazing price, and we've bought 12 or 15 of them at a time for the food pantry.

Anyhow, we have wanted to serve in other ways, so when there was a meeting, I volunteered to help sort food for the shelves. The pantry is getting lots of donations from various local stores. Sorting and organizing is one of my loves--you just can't tell from my own house, LOL. I love to organize other people's stuff! So today Nathan, Luke, and I went over to the church in the afternoon to get oriented so we can just help whenever we have time and they have a need. It was a lot of fun! Bob was on leave today, which is happening more often than not lately, since he is trying to burn his "use or lose" leave before going on terminal leave and retiring. This meant I could take both older boys, which rarely happens! The plan is that every so often I'll go work for awhile, taking 1 of the boys along to help, and for me just to spend time with the boys one on one.

The pantry had gotten some boxes of stuff donated from Target, lots of toiletries, medicines, and vitamens/supplements. I was really excited to see some of this stuff--some basic important things like infant tylenol and children's allergy medicine, and also stuff like anti-smoking lozenges. I would think stopping smoking would be such a great step for someone in hard times, but what a difficult thing to try to do with no help! There were a ton of multivitamens, which I would also think would be such an important resource for someone without much money. It's definitely great if they can stay healthy! I had no idea stores gave this sort of thing to food pantries, and all we had to do was sort them and check the expiration dates on the cartons!

There were also some . . . less basic things, LOL. Like the eyelash curler. I am sure when someone has lost a job and is struggling, the first thing they think is, "Oh no! I don't have an eyelash curler!" Also, there were 2 "Mangroomers". For those not in the know and who are too lazy to click the link, these are "do-it-yourself electric back shavers". We were cracking up at those ones! Funny to see that there, along with the flour, spaghetti noodles, cereal, and canned goods! Well, just because someone has fallen on hard times doesn't mean their personal back grooming should have to fall by the wayside. There was also a refill bottle of butane(!). It said on the bottle that it was to refill your creme brulee torch. So if you are needy and are in the D.C. metro area, we can hook you up so that your creme brulee torch never has to go out! At least we can all stay civilized, even in hard times.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Jonathan turned 7 today! We celebrated by having his choice of dinner, going swimming at the rec center, then opening his presents and having ice cream when we got back. I'll make him and Nathan a joint cake again this year, since I really like only making one cake in June, LOL. We are hoping to bring that cake to Bible study June 18, so I've got a few weeks. In the meantime, we'll just keep celebrating Jonathan's birthday, especially seeing as how I ordered him a present late last week from Timberdoodle that still hasn't come yet.

You might think that being the 4th boy in a row, Jonathan would just fall in line with his brothers, but that's not how it is! Jonathan has such a funny streak, and he is definitely his own little man! He also has a real heart for the Lord and for others. He has said before that he would like to be a pastor, like our Pastor Mike, and I can see him doing this. We pray that the Lord will use Jonathan in a special way, and that we will be able to prepare him for whatever that use will be!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Seven Years Ago Today . . .

. . . I was not in labor. This was unfortunate because I was quite heavily pregnant. In fact, I was 2 weeks overdue!! That is really not a nice thing to do to someone expecting her 4th baby! My first baby was 1 week early; my second one was about 5 days early. My third was born on his due date . . . and why wasn't this baby not even considering coming out into the big wide world?! I never even had any false laborto get my hopes up! He simply was not interested in moving on out!

So Jonathan should have been born in May, since his due date was May 22. Instead, 7 years ago today, on June 1, Bob and I were dropping the 3 other boys off at my parents' house on a Sunday evening so that the next morning we could go into the hospital at WPAFB bright and early--6:00!--to be induced. I was terrified. Bob was also nervous. So nervous that he backed the minivan straight into a tree at the end of my parents' driveway, shattering the back windshield. Ack! I just had to totally block that out of my thinking, however,and I can honestly say that I did not think about it one time during the next day. I just refused to go there! And it turned out fine. As I recall, it was fixed before we even came home from the hospital!

I was so worried about this induction, my first one. It also went fine, however. There was a friendly face on the OB ward there--the husband of a couple in our OCF Bible study was a nurse there, and he got me all checked in before he went off-duty. They finally started the pitocin around 8:30, but as the morning wore on, I could tell the contractions weren't doing anything. The contractions weren't any different than the ones for me in a non-induced labor, which was a huge relief for me. I never had any trouble dealing with them.

Finally they broke my water around noon, and that convinced Jonathan that his time inside me was at an end. I had to lay on my side and have an oxygen mask because his heart rate was decelerating during contractions. As I lay there, I was fully dilated, and I had a strong urge to push. But I had a thing about only giving birth in the standard half-sitting, with rear-end hanging off the end of the bed position, so I sat up right away. I never had such a strong urge to push again, which I have remembered in all 3 of my later births! I like laboring on my side during transition, and then I stay there and push a time or 2 to get the baby under my pelvic bone. After that, no problems! I had to push with Jonathan for 20 minutes, which is a pretty long time for a 4th baby. I think it would have been faster if I had stayed on my side a little longer. But he made his grand appearance at 2:40 p.m., and he was another big one--9 pounds, 6 ounces, and 21 inches long. My biggest one, 1 ounce bigger than Caleb! My Ohio babies were big--not sure why! I was ravenously hungry after delivering. Breakfast was a long time ago!

I think my dates were probably a bit off with Jonathan, since I was finishing up nursing with Caleb when I got pregnant. But when you are expecting to see a baby in May, and it comes into a whole new month with still no baby . . . you feel very, very, very overdue!!