Saturday, November 26, 2011

Catching Up

I've had a bit of a chance to take a breath here this Thanksgiving break, and it has been so wonderful. I am REALLY looking forward to the Christmas break, where we'll have 3 weeks off from our co-ops. Anyhow, I realized I haven't been blogging very much, so I thought I'd go back and catch up on a few things I missed.

1. Nathan got his expander put in a week ago. Now we can once again experience the lovely sucking noise that we used to hear from Luke, as Nathan tries to clear food out from on top of it! Ah, how we've missed that noise . . . LOL. We are faithfully turning the key each night. Nathan's mouth doesn't have the obvious things wrong that Luke's did, where teeth were popping through really high up because there was no room, so we're not going to have the dramatic results. But his bite will be aligned! Now Jonathan on the other hand--he is another one with the really narrow jaw, and teeth popping out in weird places. I foresee an orthodontic visit for him sometime in this upcoming year. Whee!

2. We are getting ready for the basketball season to start. Caleb and Jonathan are going to be on the same Upward team, practicing on Thursday nights, and Bob is going to be the assistent coach. Fun! Nathan and Luke are playing in the house league where they played football this fall. Luke's team is all set, but for Nathan's group, they had more boys than they had anticipated, and they didn't have enough coaches. Sooo . . . after the commissioner kept calling and asking parents for help, Bob, who has never played or coached basketball at all, is going to coach Nathan's team. Should be interesting! And once again we are running out of nights of the week, with Civil Air Patrol, Bible study, church small group, etc. I keep telling myself, this is just a season of our lives! At least for basketball, once the games start everyone will only have practice one night a week, as opposed to 3 for football.

3. Micah has become much more confidant in his crawling. Now he crawls around the house looking for me. He's really not that much of an explorer though, unlike Faith. He is also pulling up on whatever he can, giving him many more opportunities to knock stuff off higher surfaces and generally wreak havoc. He has a terrible diaper rash right now, so he is not a happy camper. Bring on the Desitin! I'm hoping it's not as a result of the cranberry sauce I've been letting him have. He just seems to have sensitive skin like his brother Caleb. Will he also have the food allergies? We shall see!

4. We just spent a fun evening with the L's son Zachary, and his fiance Karybeth, talking about marriage. Ed and ELizabeth are doing some premarital counseling with them, so they had prepared a list of questions for us to talk about. It was fun and rewarding for Bob and me to think back over our 18 years of marriage as we answered questions like, "What did we not find out in our pre-marital counseling that would have been good to know ahead of time?" or "How would you describe your first year of marriage?" It was good to see how we've grown as a couple, and how the Lord has used hard times and conflicts to bring us closer together.

Now the break is just about done, and it's back to reality. I've been working on Latin and science, getting ready for Tuesday and Wednesday. I had some time over the break to go through some papers (we bought a new shredder!), and I am quite happy to say that the main level of the house looks cleaner than it has in a while. Yay! That is a good way to start off, although I anticipate falling behind quickly, LOL. Just 3 more weeks until Christmas break . . . I can do this . . .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I have so much to be thankful for. We only have 3 more Thanksgivings with everyone all still living at home, most likely, so I've been reflecting lately on how thankful I am for these busy years, and for how much fun we have at home with everyone here.

This picture was taken as Bob was still carving the turkey, so it looks like we had an uneventful meal of delicious food. In reality, we had a more exciting afternoon. It actually started last night when we went to a Thanksgiving dinner at our church. The meal was part of a weekly outreach that our church has to Hispanic students at a local high school, a taste of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. Church members brought various dishes. We brought dressing, cranberry salad, and apple pie squares for 25. It was fun! Nathan reported that he could understand a lot of the Spanish.

There was a lot of food left over, and our pastor's family was going out of town, so we were all encouraged to take some of the left-overs. There was a little bit of my dressing left over, but not enough for us all to eat today, so I decided to take some of this other dressing. I didn't eat any of this dressing, but it looked pretty similar to mine, and I didn't think another thing about it, which turned out to be a colossal mistake.

I had a not-too-stressed morning cooking, since I had already made the cranberry salad (I saved enough for us out of what I made for the potluck), the mashed potatoes, and the dressing. We had brined the turkey Wednesday night, and we decided to try cooking it with the convection oven. It was WONDERFUL! We cooked it with the breast down, and it was so moist and juicy--delicious! And even though it was a 25 pound bird, it only took 3 hours to cook. I also made sweet potato casserole, rolls, and garlic green beans. It all came together, and we were ready to eat around 2:00.

As I was dishing out plates, and we were all getting ready to pray, Caleb started holding his throat and saying he didn't feel well, like he had eaten something he was allergic to. I asked him what he had eaten, and he said nothing, so I started thinking about what else could be irritating his throat. I gave him a Benedryl when it became obvious he was getting more uncomfortable, but I still couldn't figure out what had happened. After a few more minutes of complaining, I went upstairs to get his Albuterol and Flovent for his puffer. As I was getting it, I heard Nathan ask Caleb if he had eaten any dressing. It turned out he had nibbled on some. It also turned out to have chopped walnuts in it, which was what Nathan had discovered when he looked at it carefully. Argh!! Walnuts are Caleb's biggest allergen on his prick tests! His throat was feeling more swollen, so I got out the Epi-pen, but Caleb got all agitated and didn't want me to give it. I felt like his panicking was making everything worse, so I told him to just calm down, and I wouldn't inject him. Bob took him off to the ER, which is only a few miles away, where they gave him a shot of epinepherine, LOL.

So Thanksgiving dinner ended up being a bit of a let-down for us all. Jonathan and the girls really didn't eat much at all, I think because it's hard to see someone else have an allergic reaction like that. I finally did eat after Bob and Caleb left, but my plate was pretty cold, and it was hard to enjoy it, since I was feeling so incredibly guilty for not thoroughly checking the dressing. And poor Bob and Caleb--they didn't get to eat until they got back, hours later!

We did have the McCs come over for dessert, and they were still here when Bob and Caleb came back. The kids all watched "Cars 2" while the adults visited, so that was a nice quiet activity for Caleb, poor guy. I was very glad to have them over, because I think otherwise I really would have obsessed about being careless.

And obviously I have gotten complacent. Ironically, at the dinner and at most potlucks, Caleb only eats my stuff, or things he is sure are safe. But since I was the one bringing home the other dressing, and serving both dressings in the same bowl, he didn't think about being careful here in his own house! We actually have quite a few people with nut allergies in our church, so it really didn't occur to me that there would be chopped walnuts hiding in anything. I guess I figured that nuts would either be really obvious, like in the pecan pies, or that there would be a sign, like at other church potlucks where people have brought dishes with nuts. To be honest, I just really didn't think about allergens at all, which was a huge mistake. Since Caleb outgrew his milk allergy last year, I've gotten careless because nuts are in general so much easier to avoid, and have so much more publicity than milk allergies. But clearly I still need to be really conscious, so today I am really, really thankful for ER doctors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Here Comes Captain Washington . . .

Today was a "5th week activity" for the elementary co-op we're involved in. This time the theme was "Colonial Times", which the kids have been studying the past 4 weeks. The challenge was to dress the kids up, so we spent yesterday working at this. Caleb and Jonathan were adament that they wanted ("needed" even) wigs. I still have several boxes of unused pantyhose from my years at Cedarville (back when we wore skirts to class unless the wind chill was less than 0 degrees!), so I cut the legs off 2 pairs. I'm not sure how those boxes escaped the axe and moved with us across the country, but they came in handy, LOL. After tying off the leg holes, we put the pantyhose over a balloon in a bowl for our wig stand. Then we glued some fiber-fill stuffing, like you would use to stuff a pillow, all over. I had that bag of fiberfill under the crib in Anna and Grace's room for forever as well. I'm really not at all sure why I ever bought it, and when we took down the crib a few months ago, I almost tossed it, but instead I stuck it in the closet. Again, it came in handy!

I don't really recommend fiberfill as a wig-making material, LOL. It was very . . . fluffy. And hard to stick on. Oh well--it lasted for one day! I put one longer part on the back for a ponytail part, which we tied with some blue ribbon (that I actually appropriated from a leotard thing, because I couldn't find any other ribbon). Alas, I never took a picture of the back view.

A few years ago, when the L's were cleaning out their storage room, Ed gave us his old mess dresses from his Academy years. We were able to use the jackets to complete our colonial attire. We had quite the unique look!

We also spent some time making mobcaps for Anna and Grace. I found a website for making a paper cap, so instead I used some fabric from previous 5th weeks. No sewing involved, though! I should have done something about aprons though--that was what the girls were lacking! Here they all are with Joel McC. Most of the kids dressed up, and they all looked so cute! We were the only ones to attempt wigs though, LOL.

The kids did some presentations about the different colonies at first, then they took turns going to 4 different rooms. One room was about toys, and the kids made 4 toys, like a top, clay marbles, little dolls, and a game where you try to get a pencil into a cup. Another room was all about games, and the kids played with a big wooden hoop, which you had to roll with a stick, and marbles, bowling with a hard bouncy ball, a game like horseshoes, except with rope circles, and "flying hoops". There was also a household room, where the kids decorated bags with cookie cutters and made cards and hornbooks. Last was a kitchen room, where the kids got to taste some colonial foods. They made lemonade and ground corn, and they also sampled hasty pudding (not a favorite), corn bread, ginger snaps, pumpkin pie (Anna's favorite), popcorn, and beef jerky, which happened to be made by none other than Nuclear Nate! Nathan was commissioned to make the jerky, which he worked on this weekend. Yum! So the kids had a really fun day today!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Happy Birthday, Caleb!!

Caleb is 10 years old--ready for his very own ID card! His birthday was yesterday, but we started the celebration Friday night at Bible study. He picked a sports theme cake, with lots of little cakes. Although the cake was difficult to make, it took a ton of time because I had to make up a lot of different icing colors and pipe a bunch of little lines! All that time spent drawing soccer balls in high school came in handy finally.

Friday was a very busy day already because we took a field trip with Rivendell downtown to the National Gallery of Art. The older boys had a tour of Renaissance art. The docent who led it did a good job--my boys enjoyed it more than the one last year. They looked at a lot of religious art, and it was very interesting to see the style and the colors change over the years. The younger kids had a tour about how to look at pieces of art. This tour was led by the wife of Nathan's football coach from last year, so it was a surprise to see her again! Caleb and Jonathan had a good time.

Here are the older boys looking appropriately contemplative and wise.

We continued the celebration of Caleb last night. He chose sausage roll for his birthday dinner (I quadrupled the recipe, and we finally had a little bit left over!), along with sweet potatoes, wild rice, and stir-fried green beans (3 pounds!). Then we had some leftover cake and more ice cream. Bob was at a men's retreat with our church Friday night, so we wanted him to try some cake too! Then Caleb opened presents. He has wanted a watch and some slippers, so we got him those, along with 2 UnderArmor-knock-off long-sleeve t-shirts that he has also been wanting. He loves them and says they are "so comfortable". My parents got him the Narnia DVD "Voyage of the Dawn Treader", and Bob's folks gave him a Bionicle thing--oops, I stand corrected-- a "Hero Factory villian". Apparently there are no more Bionicles, just these Bionicle-like creatures who coincidentally are made by the (former) makers of Bionicles.

So all in all, it was a fun birthday for Caleb, who is glad to now be in double digits! We are so thankful for Caleb, and for all he adds to our family!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Micah Update

Micah had his "6 month" well-baby appointment on Monday, just a little over a week before he turns 7 months, but who's counting. Micah is 18 pounds, 12 ounces, and right about 27 inches long, which puts him about in the 50th percentile for both. The doctor said he is "finding his own growth curve", which is true. I told her the genetics just wouldn't support him staying soooo big! To be honest, for our babies, 50th percentile is ginormous!

Micah is finally crawling, albeit tentatively, and he is also pulling up to standing. This is a big change from my lightweight girls, who were all crawling by 6 months. Micah has been channeling all his energy into teething--numbers 7 and 8 have just popped through! They are the other 2 on the bottom, so now he has a matching set of 4 on top and 4 on bottom. He has been very crabby lately, and he's been waking up at odd times during the night again, so I suspected teething. I kept feeling his gums, but they never felt swollen or anything. But today I checked again, and there was a big tooth on either side of the ones already there! Hopefully now he'll go back to sleeping well again!

It was fun at his appointment on Monday--all the doctors and techs at the peds clinic were dressed in Halloween costumes. There was the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, a Transformer, a cowgirl, and several Sesame Street characters--Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Cookie Monster, and the Count. I took Anna along with us as my special helper, and I was glad she is past her terrible fear of anyone in costumes, especially ones with big heads! That would not have been a pleasant appointment! Our doctor was a ladybug. Micah was particularly fascinated by her bouncy anntenae!

The not-so-fun part of the appointment was waiting approximately forever at the shot clinic. I don't why they were so slow, but we waited well over an hour. Anna was a good sport, and it helped that there were cartoons on the TV, which she was enthralled by. Now that NNMC has merged with Walter Reed, I think the level of crowding is going to be the new normal, unfortunately. There were a lot of wounded warriors around as well, which is a good reminder to pray for all our soldiers and sailors, but especially the ones who have been so wounded.

After we finally got home, we went to Chuck E. Cheese for our annual Halloween dinner, which the kids look forward to all year long (they call it "Chuck E. Cheese Day"). There were 4 other families there from our Friday night Bible study, as well as a new family. The kids had such a great time, and I enjoyed visiting with the other parents! I look forward to the day when all the kids are old enough to walk around and play games all by themselves, and I'll just be able to visit the whole evening!