Saturday, June 29, 2013

A New Neighbor

Grace got a birdhouse kit from my parents for her birthday.  As soon as testing was over, she went to work, putting it together and painting it (with some help from her interested sisters).  She chose to hang it in our front yard, off the middle of a branch, where it sways in the wind. 
I had my doubts about any bird actually building a nest in it, however.  The beginning of June is a little late in the nest-building cycle, for one thing.  And for another thing, what self-respecting bird builds a nest in a brightly painted box swaying off a branch of a tree nestled between our driveway and front walk?!  That's like building a house that backs up to the intersection of the Beltway and I-95, as far as traffic goes!
So Grace and Anna went off to Grandma/Grandpa camp.  During the week they were gone, I noticed that there appeared to be signs of a nest inside the house!  And eventually we were able to see the mom--a little sparrow, although I can't tell what kind.  [Edited a second time to add:  It's (actually!) a house wren.  I identified a bird by its song!  How fun!]  Grace was quite excited to have a tenant, and this made Jonathan, who had also received a birdhouse kit for his birthday, get right on the stick and put his together and paint it.  He hung his in the backyard (a much more suitable location, LOL), but I think it truly is too late in the season now, so alas, his has remained empty.  When we were in Ohio, my mom gave Anna a birdhouse she had been given that she wasn't going to use, so now that one is also hanging in our backyard.  Maybe next year.
In our quest to learn more about birds, I got out a fascinating book from the library called Secret Lives of Common Birds by Marie Read.  It's not too long, with beautiful photos, but it has all sorts of interesting information about various birds and their quirky habits, organized by seasons.  I'm really enjoying it!  I really wish I could recognize birds by their calls, like my botany and ecology professor, Dr. Silvius.  I have even added a book and CD to my amazon wish list!  Maybe that will be next summer's project for me!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Nathan!!

 Nathan turned 16 yesterday!  It's so hard to believe I've been a mom for 16 years . . . changing diapers for 16 years straight . . .  Nathan and I went out to breakfast at Mimi's, since he had noted that he had never been there.  After running a few errands, we dashed home so I could nurse and we could eat lunch, Then Anna, Nathan, and I trekked over to Bethesda.  Nathan thought a delightful way to celebrate his birthday would be to make a hospital visit in honor of his actual birthday! 

Well, not really, but as it turned out, on our drive back to Ohio Saturday afternoon, Anna got pinkeye in her other eye.  And at 4:00 Sunday morning, Nathan stumbled into our room to tell Bob and me that he had pinkeye in both eyes.  Our little bottle of antibiotic drops finally ran dry on Sunday, so we had to make another appointment to get some more.  Thankfully Anna was affected, because when I called at 6:30 Monday morning to make an appointment for Nathan, the appointment person told me there had been no same-day appointments released for the adolescent clinic--and that had been how it was lately--all due to "the sequester" of course.  Ummm . . . how about a few less million dollars for President Obama's Africa junket, and a few more dollars for adolescent doctor appointments?!

So we got the medicine (trivia fact--the active-duty Army doc we saw had 16 letters in her last name . . . the smallest font on her name tape that I have ever seen!) and headed home so I could put together and frost Nathan's cake.  He wanted a Cessna 182, which is the aircraft they fly for Civil Air Patrol.  Here is something I am realizing about myself--the fewer people that see the cake in person, the worse I do on it, LOL.  The proportions were all wrong, and it definitely ended up looking like the star of "Charlie Cessna Joins the CAP!"  Plus, the wings (which I made out of sugar cookie dough) sagged because I didn't listen to my better judgment and cook them even longer.  Oh well.  The evidence is almost gone!
Nathan got a speed bag, along with some contraption to hang it from the basement ceiling, as well as a shaker weight, a new dress shirt, and the game "Wits and Wagers".  Ryan, our good neighbor friend, has been over today, and they have already played 2 games!  Fun game!  We also got Nathan personalized dog tags, which he has been wanting.  I brought out a tiny, sparkly little gift bag, and he was definitely wondering, LOL.  But he was happy to see what it contained!  We got them from a seller on Amazon, Jason from "Tag-Z", and he was great to work with!  Another sort of early birthday present Nathan got were contacts!  Of course, now he can't wear them until the pinkeye is totally cleared up, but before that, everything has been going very well, and he is really enjoying being able to see without wearing his glasses!
So now Nathan is 16, and we only have 2 more years with him here at home!  I can't believe how fast the time has gone--I still remember so clearly his birth at the USAFA hospital, like it was not too long ago! He is so much fun to have around, and I love how he is a leader for the younger kids. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Grandma/Grandpa Camp

On Saturday, June 8, Anna, Grace, and I got up early and drove to Washington, PA, where we met my parents for lunch at Cracker Barrel!  We were celebrating my mom's birthday, but I was also dropping off Anna and Grace so my parents could drive them back to Ohio for a week of Grandma/Grandpa camp!  My brother's daughter Emily and my Aunt Claire joined them on Tuesday.  They all had so much fun!!  They went to the Boonshoft Museum, always a popular fun destination.  They also went to Youngs, where they played 2 rounds of mini-golf and went down the big slide--even Emily, who was too scared last year!  They made apple pies, which were absolutely delicious!  They played in the little pool in the yard, played with toys, read books, and giggled for a week!
We all arrived Saturday evening, in time to eat dinner and sample the pies for dessert.  The next day we went to the base chapel and grilled out for Father's Day. 
Monday morning we went out for a special "girls breakfast" to Mimi's Café.  Even Faith and I got to go!  We sure missed Melinda and Elia though!  The 3 "Grandma/Grandpa Camp" girls wore their matching dresses and looked so cute.  People ask if they are triplets, LOL.  You may notice Anna wearing glasses in all these pictures.  She actually got glasses a year ago, but she rarely wears them . . . except when her cousin Emily is around!  She wore them all week long!  Except that she wore them on the end of her nose, so she didn't actually have to look through them, LOL.  I need to take her back in for another eye appointment!
Monday afternoon Grandpa took us out for rides in his 1928 Model A Ford!  Micah was quite excited about being in the car, especially when he was in the front seat, playing with the steering wheel.  But when Grandpa started up the car, he got so scared!  We had to stop and let him out! 
Tuesday after lunch Emily and Aunt Claire sadly had to go to the airport.  Here is a picture of 4 Claires, right before they left:  me, Aunt Claire, Emily Claire, and Anna Claire.
Another successful year of Grandma/Grandpa Camp! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A New Scourge

Everyone is smiling here, but we've actually been dealing with a new issue--pinkeye!  About two weeks ago, on a Thursday, Nathan, Luke, and I took the younger 5 kids to Chik-Fil-A for dinner while Bob took Caleb and Jonathan to swim practice.  It was an eventful dinner, ending with one milkshake dumped on the floor, and another one punctured through the foam cup and leaking all over Luke.  But through it all, Drew's eyes were suspiciously gunky.  We all hoped it was. . . well, anything else, but when he woke up Friday with his eyes stuck shut, we knew the dreaded pinkeye had struck!

By Sunday both eyes were worse, and Faith had gunk in one eye, so I got up early to make a doctor appointment on Monday.  It was tricky because I also had a follow-up appointment for myself, to give me the results of an MRI I had done on my knee (it showed nothing).  I had to bring Nathan along as my designated big helper, but I was able to get appointments for Faith and Drew after mine, and, in a HUGE praise, we were able to be finished in the doctor's office before the pharmacist who sits in the pediatric clinic left for the day, so we didn't have to wait in the huge line at the pharmacy for the meds!  One thing the doctor wondered was how Drew could have possibly gotten pickeye?!  I had wondered this as well, since he has never even been in the church nursery, so you would think that if something was going around, the other kids would have gotten it first.  The first time I put the ointment in his eyes (Faith got drops), he cried and cried big watery tears.  And out washed a big black thing!  Actually it was one of those little back gnat things, but it looked huge on his cheek!  I think that had been in his eye and got infected.

So it took a few days for Faith and Drew to get better, but I thought we were through it.  Then on Friday afternoon, Micah's eyes started getting gunky.  And on Saturday, as we were driving to Ohio, Luke's eyes got gunky . . . At least we already had the medicine, so I started both of them on it right away, and everything went away really quickly.

Since we've been here in Ohio, Luke, Nathan, and I have also dealt with some vague kind of bug involving a cough and a low-grade fever.  And last night I realized I had pinkeye as well!  Unbelievable!  We were healthy for this whole incredibly stressful school year, and now that it is over, we haven't been healthy at all!  Which is a blessing, when you think about it, LOL.  All this sickness at least waited until we were done!  I am so ready for us all to be well again.  June has definitely not been a month where we have gotten anything done . . .
*Update*  Anna also came down with pinkeye, starting the day after I came down with it.  Sigh.  Our little bottle of antibiotic eyedrops has been like the widow's jar of oil so far, not running out.  May it continue!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Unrealized Plans

I really thought that once school was over, and testing was done, I would get so much done!  I had all these plans for organizing and decluttering--with no big school responsibilites hanging over my head, what could possibly stop me from becoming a wonder of organization and cleanliness?! 

Ha!  Well, it turns out that I have gotten almost nothing actually accomplished, unless you count eating.  That has turned into a major accomplishment for me this past week, LOL.  Drew ended up biting me again on the same side last Friday afternoon, just as I was thinking perhaps things might be starting to heal.  I had to start icing down my poor breast both before and after nursing.  I would stick a snack-bag of crushed ice into my bra cup, and that actually helped a great deal, both to numb it as well as to keep the swelling down.  I also started taking 800 mg of motrin around the clock.  But it was still excruciatingly painful to nurse.  I think Monday night was the lowest point.  I fell asleep thinking I for sure was developing mastitis, since I had this hard, very painful spot, and everything was just throbbing.  I spent Tuesday carefully nursing in different positions, and I think I kept the mastitis at bay.  Although I am still sore, it really does seem like things are finally starting to heal, praise the Lord.  Drew has still been nippy, although not as hard as the past 2 Fridays, but I have been saying no, flicking his cheek, etc.  Hopefully this will be a short stage.  I don't know whether to wish the top 2 teeth will hurry up and break through, so his mouth doesn't hurt as much, or if that would just mean he will have 4 sharp little teeth to bite me with!  I have blocked out what happened with Caleb and Micah once they got more teeth--but I am pretty sure they kept biting, LOL.

So anyway, I was so sore.  I also had those 2 canker sores in my mouth, and I used all the tricks I have heard of--baking soda, swishing with a mix of milk of magnesia and benedryl, etc.--but nothing worked like it usually would.  Instead, my mouth has just gotten overtaken with these huge angry ulcers that are so very painful.  I have like 6 of them now, and I can barely talk or chew.  Some are under my tongue, some are back behind my tongue--there's really no area of my mouth that doesn't have at least one!  I've pretty much stopped eating breakfast, because it simply isn't worth the pain to start eating.  And  they just won't go away!  Instead new ones keep popping up.  I think my defenses are just so low, with the constant pain of nursing, plus Drew hasn't really been sleeping through the night since we left for camping.   Interrupted sleep has always been a harbinger of canker sore outbreaks for me!

And so, instead of getting anything of note done, I have been wandering around in a fog of aching and discomfort!  What a way to  start a summer break, LOL.  I will say I am so very, very thankful that Drew was able to wait until after school was all done to start this biting phase!  Otherwise, I am sure I would be on my way to an insane asylum, LOL.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

 Jonathan turned 10 yesterday!  Hard to believe that it's been 10 years since I was 2 weeks overdue with my 4th child, and I had to have my first induction, or else he may have never come out, LOL.  Jonathan has marched to the beat of his own drummer ever since then, and on his own time schedule as well!  He is a fun character to have in our family!  He is still my artist, and the only one who enjoys writing.  And he is also still my sole left-handed buddy!
 For his cake, he decided he wanted a scarlet and red macaw.  He's been quite interested in birds lately!  I have never done a bird cake before, so it was fun to do something different. 
 I had to use 2 cake mixes to make a cake as long as I needed, so I had lots of extra cake.  In fact, I only really needed 1 1/2 cake mixes to fill the 10x15 pan I used for the bird body, so I also filled an 8 inch round pan.  Jonathan decorated that (you can't tell, but it actually is modeled after the swimming pool we are members of--blue water, a black walking path, and then the forest in the background), and then I piped the "Happy Birthday Jonathan" on it, since we could figure out a good place for it on the actual bird!
Jonathan was very happy to get a birdhouse of his own to build and decorate from my parents, as well as a book on how to attract different birds to your backyard.  He also got a few other things, including 2 Robo-Fish and an aquarium.  This is in preparation of actually getting some real fish--although since the Robo-fish don't really last that long before the batteries die out (as we have found out personally), we may be getting read fish sooner rather than later, LOL.

Now that Jonathan has hit the big 1-0, he gets his own military ID card, something he has been eagerly anticipating for quite some time!  So now Bob has to figure out a time to get that errand done!  It's a good thing Nathan is carrying his own wallet around, with his own ID card in it--otherwise, I would be looking at carrying 5 ID cards in my wallet!