Monday, February 28, 2011

Anticlimactic Allergy Appointment

This morning Caleb and I trekked back over to Walter Reed for another follow-up allergy appointment (after his big anaphylactic scare before Christmas). This time we brought samples of all the food he was eating at lunchtime--pepperoni pizza from this local restaurant, fresh pineapple and grapes, and decaf Folgers coffee. I thought he was going to eat them in an oral challenge-type thing, but as it turned out, the doctor just wanted to use those things to prick Caleb's back. So the tech made a slurry of the dry coffee, and for everything else just stuck the pricker in the food, then stuck it in Caleb's back. Caleb had prick tests done back in July, on his forearm, and he was a basket case! He moaned, wailed, and otherwise carried on. I am thrilled to say that this time he just laid there and read a comic book! Yay!

And he didn't show any positive reactions to anything, which was not that surprising. He had a tiny wheal by the pineapple prick, but it evidently wasn't big enough to be called a positive reaction. But he's had all those food many times before without any problems. He has had mild reactions to fresh pineapple before, but only when he's had a ton of it in the previous days. So I think my theory of him being sensitized by the exposure to his friend's pets the day before the reaction is probably the best one, and I expect it is the pineapple that was the culprit.

So with no positive reactions, the doc sent up over to the lab to do a blood draw for a RAST test. We'll see if anything shows up there, and based on the results, they will bring Caleb back in for an oral challenge. Hmmm . . . I really don't know if I want to make yet another big trip out to Walter Reed in the next few weeks! But we'll keep on avoiding fresh pineapple for a little while more, I guess.

One interesting thing was this pediatric doctor who was shadowing our allergy doc. He was seriously the tallest man I have ever seen in person--he had to duck to go through doorways! Our allergist is not a short man by any means--probably 6'1" I would say. He almost came up to this other doctor's shoulders! When we were sitting in the waiting room before our appointment, I heard some tech asking who "Doctor So-and-so" was. "You can't miss him. He's the really tall guy in the black navy uniform" was the response. And as soon as I saw him, I realized he was obviously the guy being discussed! Definitely not someone who blends into a crowd of uniforms!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Luke!!

Today is Luke's 12th birthday! We started celebrating on Friday, when we brought Air Force dessert to Bible study. I'm still not entirely sure how this delicious dessert got its name, but it is an old favorite from White Sulphur Springs, and it is much yummier (and easier to make!) than a traditional cake! I had to ask Marty Thomas and Carri for help with the recipe--thank you, ladies!!

We also celebrated tonight by finishing up the Air Force dessert. Luke also opened his presents.
He got a Transformer, as well as 2 comic books (Zits and Foxtrot) Nathan and I picked out from Half Price Books while we were in Ohio. Of course, we actually started celebrating Luke's birthday IN Ohio, where he received a Lego Minotaurus game from Aunt Amy, as well as a really challenging flag puzzle from my parents, where the flag is actually made up of a ton of tiny pictures. He has already started working on this puzzle!

Luke is such a tremendous help with the girls, and I definitely appreciate his attention to detail, especially when he is helping me find something that is missing! He still finds a ton of money whenever we are in stores. He is also an amazing basketball player--taking after his cousin, Pilot! He just finished up another undefeated season.

Here is a close-up view of the Air Force dessert. I doubled the recipe to fit in my big pan (it's a roasting pan, but I use it for casseroles and other big things--like desserts!). We only had a little bit left!

Air Force Dessert

16 oz. Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 gallon ice cream, softened (we used cookies and cream, which is the traditional kind, I believe)
1 jar chocolate fudge topping
1 small cool whip container

Reserve 1/4 cup crushed cookies for topping; mix remaining cookie crumbs with butter, and press into bottom of 9x13 pan. Spread softened ice cream evenly over cookie layer. Drizzle fudge over ice cream, then spread cool whip on top. (We added another layer of chocolate topping here, just for good measure, LOL.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs. Freeze.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Random Conversation With Jonathan

So before we left for Ohio, I was changing Faith's diaper, and in wandered Jonathan. He told me he really wanted to go back to visit "Florida". This threw me for a loop, since the last time I could think that we were in Florida was to visit the L's when they were stationed down there, and I was actually pregnant with Jonathan. So . . . hard to imagine him having fond memories and missing it, LOL.

I suggested that perhaps he was thinking of Virginia Beach, where we spent a couple nights last spring. That was fun, although we were all squished together in one small hotel room for 3 nights. He insisted it was not there, and that we had stayed in a nice house with a dog that Faith wasn't afraid of. They played ping-pong, and the dog kept picking up the ping-pong balls . . . I was really stumped, as I was still stuck on "beach-y" places, and I couldn't think of any friends who lived near a beach and had a dog. Fortunately, Nathan came in then. He was able to think outside the beach box, and he suggested that Jonathan really wanted to visit PHILADELPHIA again, where we had stayed with my college friends Phil and Sandra in their beautiful old house, back in June 2009. They have a big dog named Sox who had indeed played ping-pong with the kids. Bingo! Well, you know--Philadelphia and Florida . . . practically the same place! So easy to get mixed up! LOL! And of course, the big memories from that little trip were not the Liberty Bell, the tour of Independence Hall and Betsy Ross's house, or meeting "Ben Franklin". Ah well . . .

So next Jonathan asked if Sox was dead. Ummmm . . . I don't think so . . . what brings that up?! Well, Jonathan was concerned for his health because the pets of ALL of our friends are either having to be put to sleep, or are moving away. Apparently, knowing our family is the kiss of death for pets, in Jonathan's mind. Actually, Amy had to put her cat Pumpkin to sleep a few months ago, and the McC's dog Stormy died a few weeks ago, but both pets had lived at least 17 years, so this was not totally unexpected, and I don't really think the deaths can be pinned on us, LOL. And the L's dog Ned finally was able to go live with Anthony, his actual owner, since Anthony is in pilot training now and has a house with a yard. So that's 3 pets we know . . . I don't think you can draw any statistically meaningful conclusions from that small sample size, so I think we are still safe to be around those of you with pets! I did send an email to Sandra, however, inquiring after Sox's well-being. I will let everyone know if he is still enjoying good health and happiness (as we all fervently hope, LOL).

We're Back!

We drove back yesterday from Ohio, and it was such a dreary day! The one spot of excitement was as we were merging onto I-70 from I-68 in Maryland. It goes to one lane, and a semi had overturned in the median between where we were merging and where the cars coming south from Breezewood on I-70 merge. There were ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars, plus a bunch of people milling around. The police officer had set out some flares, but other than alert us to the fact that something was going on ahead, they didn't clearly lead us anywhere. There was a pickup truck ahead of us, and he was really zipping along. It was actually a miracle that he didn't hit the police officer, who had to jump backwards as the guy zoomed past. I just followed along, but as we passed, I saw a paramedic holding his hands up in the air, like he was asking, "What is going on?!" Then I looked back and realized that all the cars behind us were stopped. So obviously the policeman was trying to stop traffic, and we were the last vehicle to get through! Whew! None of us were in the mood to just sit on the highway for however long!

Our book on CD was The Mysterious Benedict Society, a book which I actually had not read before. I also had out Tom Sawyer, so there was some debate about which book to listen to when we started. The book ended up being quite interesting, with lots of little puzzles to figure out, so I was glad we picked one I hadn't read! Also, it is very long--13 hours--so we still aren't done with it. We have a little trip next weekend up to Philadelphia with our jr. high co-op (field trip to the Penn Museum of Anthropology and Archaology), so we'll be able to finish it on that drive.

So now we are back home. I spent the morning unpacking and trying to get the house back in some semblence of order before everything starts back up next week. I was able to get a little bit ahead in Latin while we were gone, so that should be helpful. I still have some prep work for science on Tuesday, though. Tomorrow is the last day of Upward basketball games, so we have 3 games to attend. Then we have church on Sunday. It will be good to see everyone, but I do confess I am not looking forward to it. Hopefully kinks will have been worked out, but it was just so terrible last time. Oh well--stiff upper lip and all that. I want Sunday to be a good day--it's Lukie's 12 year birthday! We're actually celebrating at Bible study tonight!

Vacation is over--back to the real world!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fun in Ohio!

Well, it has now been a week since I last posted. We definitely had a much different (and better!) weekend this time. We packed up and drove to Ohio on Friday! It is the winter break for our co-ops, and it was definitely time for a vacation!

The weather was absolutely beautiful for driving (although Luke did comment that it was a better day for playing outside, rather than driving, LOL). Our book on CD was Cheaper By the Dozen, one of my all-time favorites. There was a tiny bit of language that was a lot more noticeable to me when it was read aloud, as opposed to me just reading it. I guess I just skipped over it. Still, it is such a funny book, and as we have more and more kids, I can relate more and more to the book! We'll be painting Morse code messages on the walls and listening to language recordings in the bathroom in no time! Ha!

We are staying with my best friend Amy for the weekend, which has been so much fun. Satruday was a day of basketball. We went to Jacob's Upward game at 11:00, and then on to Zach's middle school game at 12:00. The weather was still nice, so the boys played outside all afternoon long while Amy and I caught up. Then we met my parents at Young's for dinner and ice cream before heading over to Cedarville to watch the last regular season basketball game at the university! The Yellow Jackets won handily, and we got to see Zachary L. cheer, so it was a very fun evening!

Yesterday Zach woke up running a fever, so he has not been up to par yesterday or today, poor guy. But the rest of us all went to Amy and Jason's church, where there was plenty of seating and no threatening black curtains, LOL. Nice! The service was nice, and their assistant pastor preached an excellent sermon. Afterward, ew came back here, where Amy had a delicious meal of chicken and noodles waiting for us in the crockpot. Amy and I go to do a lot of scrapbooking yesterday afternoon/evening. I finally got Faith's little album started--actually, it's almost finished! Now if only I wasn't 3 years behind on my regular albums. Maybe this summer I'll have some time to work on those.

Some time today we'll move over to my parents' house for the next few nights. They actually lost power last night and are still without it this morning, so we'll wait until it comes back on before making the big move! In the meantime, the kids are all playing nicely, and I am contemplating exercising. Ahhh . . . I can feel the stress melt away! So relaxing to not have to do anything or go anywhere!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What a Day

We've had quite a time here today. We're still dealing with some sort of mild bug, which apparently only strikes on the weekend. Luke, Faith, Grace, and I were all sick last weekend. Friday Nathan wasn't feeling 100%, and eventually he did throw up once Friday night. He felt better then, and was fine Saturday. Saturday night, however, he awoke around midnight, thought he had more time than he actually did, and sort of vomited while turning his head. Some did make it into the trash can next to the bed, whil some sprayed in a lovely fan on the carpet. Then, in a complete surprise, Luke threw up at 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, and 6:00. What in the world?! Luke is never sick, and now 2 weekends in a row?! When Caleb woke up this morning, he said he wasn't feeling good either, so we let all 3 older boys stay home from church. Nathan and Caleb seem fine now, but Luke is struggling more. He basically just laid on the couch all day today and ate a bit of applesauce and toast. Hopefully tomorrow he'll feel more like himself. And hopefully no one else will get this second round.

It turned out to be just fine that the boys stayed home from church, as that was a huge source of stress for our day as well. Our church meets in a school auditorium because we outgrew our actual church building a few years ago. The nice thing about the auditorium is that everyone fits with no problem! But this past week the powers-that-be (PTB) decided they want everyone to squish together, so they were going to rope off the back sections. Originally when we first moved, they had done this as well, but as more big families came in, we needed the back parts of the auditorium, where the rows are shorter, so we could have access to the aisle, and so we would just move the ropes aside as needed. But this time they cooked up this idea to have huge black curtain/screen things all along the back where they were blocking off the back rows. So now if you move the ropes, you would be sitting behind a big black screen so you wouldn't be able to see anything.

Of course they said they would leave a few rows in the back section, but those rows were quickly filled. We got there this morning right on time, but we have to sign kids up for children's church, put Faith in the nursery, drop food off for fellowship meal, etc., so we can't just waltz in to the auditorium and claim our huge row of seats. When I saw the curtains this morning, I got so upset. I literally started crying, which is rare for me, but I am feeling quite hormonal and emotional lately. This was like the straw to break the camel's back.

I'm sure the PTB have reasons for this that they consider are perfectly important and reasonable, but for me, all I see is one more day of stress. We have to get to church early so we can claim 9 seats (on the aisle no less, so that pregnant me can get out to use the restroom during our 2 hour long service), or else our family is going to have to be split up and spread out everywhere, just like in the old small building. And if we are late, then we will be punished by not having seats, so that is stress, and if we are early, then we are just causing another family to have to be split up or just stand in the hallway or whatever. VERY stressful for someone like me who already hates being late, but unfortunately is responsible to get a lot of other people out the door, as well as have my house ready for our small group to come over right afterward 2 Sundays a month. So they can say it's not about me, but it certainly makes for a day where it is easier to choose to just stay home, rather than face the stress and humiliation of not being able to sit anywhere. This probably all seems like such a tiny deal, but there really is nothing less welcoming in a church, especially for a big family, than walking in and realizing you just don't fit anywhere.

So what ended up happening today: we only had Jonathan, Anna, and Grace, since we left the older boys at home. We went in to find seats after my little meltdown, only to find, of course, that the only seats left were up in the second row. I immediately turned around and walked out, way back to this area in another hallway that is curtained off for nursing mothers. I sat there in a rocking chair all by myself and relaxed. It was nice and quiet. Bob took the kids up to the second row, where the music was so loud Jonathan put his hands over his ears and shouted "NO!" So they got up too and went outside the auditorium where they have a TV screen set up so moms with little kids can be and still watch the service. The good news is that in only 8 more weeks we'll have another baby, so I guess it will be natural for us to be there, since that is where I see us unless they open up more rows or something.

After we got home, Bob and I were so tired after our interrupted night that we took a nap. Eventually Anna came up to inform us that Grace had cut her hair with scissors, NOT the paper, like she should have been cutting. Anna was quite upset about this. We called Grace up, but it was dark and I couldn't really see anything different, so I figured she had trimmed some little piece of hair with the little kiddie scissors. Wrong! After we got up and went downstairs, I could very clearly see that Grace had cut 2 big hunks from the back of her hair, almost down to the scalp. The hunks are separated by a long hunk of hair. There really is no way to repair it, short of buzzing the entire back of her head. I can hardly stand to look at her. I had wanted to get pictures taken before the new baby comes, but I don't see how that will work now. Her hair grows so slowly. This will literally take years to grow back. It is very upsetting to me, on top of everything else for the day.

So that was our very bad day. I'm still weepy, and I'm not feeling up for another week. I ate a ton of chocolate this afternoon, so now I'll probably have an 11 pound baby. Tomorrow Luke is supposed to get his second set of braces on, bright and early in the morning. And Friday we're supposed to drive to Ohio for about a week. I do need a vacation. And at least we won't have to deal with church next weekend.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Forced Slow Down

I have really been trying to accomplish a lot this past week, and I did make some progress. I got the basement storage room cleaned up, and I went through the first few tubs of baby boy clothes. We actually don't have that many things anymore, so I will definitely be shopping at some of the spring consignment sales! Sunday afternoon we were scheduled to have our church small group over in the afternoon, so Saturday we really cleaned the main floor and the basement (in between Upward basketball games!).

I think I was overdoing it, though. I had already commented to Bob that I could really feel a difference in how I was feeling between, say, 29 weeks pregnant and now 31 weeks pregnant. I stayed up late baking banana frosted cookies for growth group, but when I finally went to bed, I had a hard time falling asleep. I just felt so full, like nothing had digested. At 3:00 I woke up and knew I was going to vomit. Sure enough, I was right, and I was also right about nothing have digested, LOL. I did not really feel good all day Sunday, and I basically just laid around on the couch all day, interrupting that with naps in my own bed.

Now the whole thing didn't come as a total shock to me. After we got home from Bible study Friday night, Luke came back downstairs to say he wasn't feeling good. He threw up around 11:00, and then he went to bed. He wasn't quite as perky the next day, but he went ahead and played a great game of basketball in the afternoon and pretty much ate normal food. When we got Faith up Saturday morning, it was quite obvious that she too had vomited sometime during the night, although not too much. She also bounced right back and was eating normal food by the afternoon.

I had a harder time bouncing back! I was definitely not up for basketball the next day, and I just nibbled things like crackers, chicken noodle soup,and a banana all day. Even when I went to bed Sunday night, I was still thinking, "Boy, I hope that little bit of smoothie I just drank doesn't come back up, because it sure feels like it might . . ." But I went off to sleep, and when I was rudely awoken by cries from Anna and Grace's room at 3:00 AM, signifying that Grace had thrown up, I felt fine! It had totally passed! (Grace was fine the next day too, and so far no one else has gotten this bug.)

It was actually kind of nice to just lay around and rest on Sunday. I have noticed that I have basically not napped at all this entire pregnancy. I just haven't had time. So I guess it takes a mild stomach virus to get me to rest when I need it! I didn't exercise Monday either, continuing my "take it easy" theme. I think I am just going to have to let some of my "to do" list go by the wayside. It's hard to do that because I really want to be more organized, with less clutter, but things like laundry, cooking, school, and exercise are taking up most of my time and energy right now, and it looks like trying to force myself to do more is not a good strategy!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Faith is 2!!

Wow, I can't believe Faith turned 2 today! It seems like just yesterday that we were speeding to Bethesda, not sure we were going to make it in time!

She's getting to be such a big girl--she definitely thinks she is, anyway, LOL. She is talking a lot more, and she is really playing with Anna and Grace now. She has become quite enamoured with one particular baby doll, so she has started even sleeping with this babydoll. She does not want to be left out of anything--she wants to be in the middle of all the action! Her big brothers take such good care of her, and she definitely adores them! The picture above is of her in the ballerina leotard that I used as a model for her cake.

We had our big co-op day today, and then Bob and Nathan went to Civil Air Patrol this evening, so we decided to celebrate her birthday tomorrow night, with presents and ice cream. Faith is enjoying being the birthday girl, so I am sure she wouldn't complain about extending the whole celebration one more day, if she even understood time, LOL.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Happy Birthday!!

Friday night we brought a birthday cake to Bible study to celebrate my birthday (Feb. 7) and Faith's birthday (Feb. 8).
Although you can't really tell here, Faith was actually very excited about being sung to! She did not, however, know what to do with the candles. Luke had to come over and help her blow them out.
The cake was modeled after a little pink leotard she has that she loves to dress up in.

It was not my finest work. I forgot to texture the "sleeves" to make them look more like the skirt (because they are tulle, like the skirt), and I also didn't proportion it right. The bodice should definitely be skinnier. Oh well. It's all gone now!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Lemurs and More Varenga

Every 2 years our Tuesday morning co-op does a writing unit. For the 5th and 6th graders, they write a research paper and then do an oral presentation, complete with a display board. Two years ago, Nathan did his report on Madagascar. This year the theme was "animals", and Luke picked lemurs.

Lemurs are native only to Madagascar, which turned out to be handy. For the meal afterward everyone had to bring in a dish related to their animal--either something the animal eats, something made from the animal (so hard to find a good cut of lemur though, LOL), something from the country where the animal lives, or (the cop-out last option!) something in the shape of the animal. Someone made absolutely adorable cupcakes in the shape of koala bears! We brought our old standby of varenga--the boiled, roasted shredded beef dish over rice that we also brought in for Nathan's meal. Never thought I'd use that recipe twice! It's actually pretty good.

Luke did really well on his presentation. He made eye contact and spoke slowly, covering all his points but not relying too much on his notecards. He was able to answer the questions people asked after the presentation. He looked confident up there, a far cry from a few years ago, when he would dissolve in a silent puddle of tears when in front of a group of people!

Here's a closer look at his display board. Lemurs are cute little guys, for the most part (well, not the freaky aye-aye so much). He had an interesting paper and talk! These kind of experiences are why it is nice to be in a co-op. It's so much different giving an oral report in front of 17 other classmates, plus random parents and siblings, as opposed to just one's own siblings and parents!