Sunday, August 30, 2015

Billowing Smoke and an Attempt at Organization

Yesterday, I was out running errands when Nathan called while he was waiting for a bus, the first time to talk to him since we left last weekend!  He's doing great, although we had a terrible connection, and he kept fading out.  While we were talking, Luke texted with the alarming news that our faithful vacuum had literally gone up in a puff of smoke!  Apparently, as Micah and Drew were vacuuming their room, they ran over the cord, which is not a first-time occurance, unfortunately.  But this time, the vacuum started billowing out a huge cloud of thick noxious black smoke, and after further examination, it appears the vacuum's soul has gone to the big appliance store in the sky.  Everyone had to evacuate the house and open all the doors and windows to get the smoke and fumes out!

This poor vacuum has served long and faithfully, for sure.  It's a Panasonic that we bought from Montgomery Ward in Colorado Springs, before we even had Nathan!  It got the best review in Consumer Reports that year (1996, I believe), and I think it lived up to the hype.  It has gotten louder over the years, but it has still vacuumed up everything we needed it too, and it didn't cost an arm and a leg either.  We really need a vacuum on each floor, so last night Bob looked on amazon, and we ordered a "Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright" based on reviews.  We'll see if we're as happy with this one in 19 years . . . We're going to use the Shark on the main floor and move the Hoover we bought several years ago up to the second floor.
After the airing-out excitement, Bob took Caleb off to the airport for his first CAP orientation ride.  Ah, the cycle starts again.  While they were gone, we got to skype with Nathan!  Anna had said earlier this week, "Now it really seems real that Nathan is gone, and I miss him", so it was good for the kids to see him.  Luke took Nathan on a video tour of the room that formerly half-belonged to Nathan but now is all Luke's.  Luke has been an organizational inspiration in there, and the room and bathroom look amazing!  It is so much easier to just keep your own stuff organized, for sure.  

All this organization upstairs prompted Bob and me to try something different with shoes.  We had a bench that opened up to store shoes in, plus a big shoe rack with 4 shelves, but it was all so ugly, and shoes were always all over the floor all around the bench and shelves.  So we picked up another one of these O'nin room divider things from Costco--they are so big and study, and the bins are much bigger than the cubbie things sold in places like Target.  Now we have 3 of them, lol.  Anyhow, we put Nathan's shoes, and any other shoes that were too big/too small/not worn down in the basement, and then we divided up the cubbies.  Bob, Luke, and I each get our own cubby, and Caleb and Jonathan share one, only because they have very few pairs of shoes.  Pretty soon their shoes will be too big to fit in one cubby though, so we'll see how it works out then.  Anna and Grace get their own cubbies on the bottom row (because they both have TONS of shoes, and Anna especially is a really shoe-lover), and Faith shares with Verity.  Then Micah and Drew share the last cubby.  So we were pretty happy with that, plus I spent a lot of time cleaning out the study, filing papers and throwing others away, and Bob really cleaned up the kitchen.  We went to bed feeling fairly organized and clean, especially in the shoe area!

Which made it all the more ironic when we were ready to leave for church, and we realized that Micah had no shoes in his cubby.  None!  How did no one realize that last night?!  We frantically searched all 3 floors, plus outside, but eventually Bob and Luke headed off to church because Luke was scheduled to be in the nursery.  We kept on looking, and FINALLY I found his crocs outside behind the stairs of the trampoline, between the stairs and the netting.  Of course!  And as I was heading back inside, it dawned on me that I brought Micah's and Drew's tennis shoes to Tech last weekend, and they were probably still at the bottom of the tote bag where I threw them as we were packing up (they were indeed).  We were, however, very, very, very late to church, and we had to park really far away.  Sigh.  

So after my fleeting feelings of organization last night, I spent the morning feeling so frustrated.  There are still too many people actively working against my organizational attempts!  Maybe a new vacuum will help.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brief Visit

Saturday morning Bob, Micah, Drew, Verity, and I were out the door by 7:30 to drive down to visit Nathan.   The upper class cadets were all moving in, as well as everyone else on campus, and they wanted the new cadets out of the way, so they had to be off campus right after their parade Saturday morning. We knew it would be a crazy weekend, and it's always a circus when all of us go anywhere, so we decided to take the biggest potential troublemakers with us, and leave capable Luke at home with everyone else.

Unfortunately, we didn't get out the door as quickly as I had wanted to, because, well, we were just taking the youngest 3 with us, and it's hard to speed up grumpy toddlers who didn't want to wake up and aren't really interested in peeing, eating breakfast, or getting dressed and out the door.  That meant that we were still an hour away when my friend Rebecca texted us to say that the parade was over.  Ack!  So there were no pictures of Nathan in his snazzy uniform, and he had plenty of time to get his dirty laundry together before we got there.  Fortunately a friend, Rebecca, was able to watch out for him until we got there.  Thanks, Rebecca!  It was so good to see him again!

We went to a rather sketchy barbeque place for a late lunch, where I realized that I am not a huge fan of "Carolina" style barbeque, but rather prefer I guess a Texas-style or something.  There were several other new cadets there with their families.  They were all easily recognizable with their fuzzy bald heads!  I was so glad there were only 6 of us to find a table for--much easier than for 12!  Nathan adeptly avoided the dirty hands of his little siblings, and his "Hokie bag", which is that Corps polo and khaki pants, stayed clean.  Whew!

We were able to stay in a hotel really close to campus, which was really convenient since Nathan had to run back over there several times for various events.  After we checked in, Bob put Verity and the 2 boys down for a nap and laid down himself, while I ran Nathan back over for one of those events, some engineering fair or something.  When I got back, Verity and Bob were sound asleep, but Micah and Drew were bickering away.  I spent the next hour trying to get them to sleep, since they were both so tired and crabby.  At one point I heard this slapping noise, but no one was crying.  I went over to investigate, and Drew was giving himself "high-fives".  Yeah--just don't, please.  Go to SLEEP!

Eventually I put Drew in the bed Nathan would sleep on (he and Micah had both been on the foldout couch), and he and Micah both fell into a deep sleep for 3 hours.  Whew!  Bob got up and did Nathan's laundry down in the hotel's lone washer and dryer.  After I picked Nathan back up, we discovered he had had nosebleeds during the past week, and so there were bloodstains on both his white pillowcases.  Ack!  Bob did heroics in the laundry sink to get those out, while Nathan took his own nap.  By this point Verity was up, so I chased her around the hotel lobby so she wouldn't wake up the boys in the room.  I had brought Latin to work on, since I need to make extra practice sheets for each lesson.  Funny thing though--I hardly had any time to work on them, so I got next to nothing done.  Ah well.  We should have left all the kids at home with Luke.  Then I would have gotten lots done!  Haha.

Eventually we got the boys woken up, and we tried to figure out what to have for dinner.  Since we had a late lunch, no adult person was all that hungry, but we knew we needed something for the littles.  Nathan said pizza sounded good, so we googled to find a local place with good reviews but wasn't that expensive.  We found "Mike's Grill", so we set off.  It turns out it is right across the street from campus, which I didn't like.  There were lots of little restaurants around, and tons of people, which stresses me out.  I didn't think we would be able to find a parking space, but we did (another advantage of not having the big van!).  It turned out that the restaurant was bigger than I thought, and it wasn't crowded or noisy at all. It was actually a really nice oasis of quiet, and there were plenty of tables!  The pizza was really delicious, and it was a really nice time.  We enjoyed hearing Nathan's stories!
When we got back to the hotel, Nathan caught up on emails, since he had been without any electronics for the previous week.  Bob took the 3 kids swimming, and I went down to sit by the pool and work on Latin.  Instead, Nathan's roommate and his family came in to swim and eat an even later dinner than us by the pool.  They were all really nice, and I really enjoyed the time getting to know them better.  The new cadets needed to have their heads freshly shaved when they went back Sunday night.  We had given a set of clippers to Nathan to take with him to college, and he brought those to the hotel.  I volunteered to shave Joe's head, so we headed back up to the room.  It is so easy to shave a head--seems silly to spend $10/week on it!  I shaved Nathan's head too.  Just another random skill, LOL.

We all slept well, but Nathan had to be over at the college at 7:45 for a mandatory meeting for the College of Engineering. That really irritated me--in a major where so many are cadets, why make a meeting so early in the morning on the one day they could potentially sleep in?  Plus, the meeting was full of fresh, novel advice such as "Go to class" and "Keep up with your assignments".  Wow!  No one has ever heard that before!  So it was a total waste, and hopefully some future cadet will read this and skip without feeling guilty.  Probably not though, lol.  
After we picked Nathan back up, Jared and his mom Rebecca stopped by for a head shave.  We sat around and visited for awhile, and it was so fun to hear his perspective on the past week as well.  It sounds like it was an interesting week!

All too soon, it was time for a late lunch, and then time to say goodbye.  I understand why this weekend is when the new cadets need to be gone, but I really think it would be better if it happened several more weeks into the year.  As it is, the academic year hadn't started yet, and everyone knew it would be different, but they didn't know how, and it was stressful.  I think it would be better after everyone had gotten into a better groove.  I was sad to leave him because I hadn't gone when he moved in, so this was my first time to drive off.  Micah kept asking why Nathan had to stay there "forever" and couldn't come home with us.  So sad!  Obviously Bob and I were affected because we drove off in the complete wrong direction on the highway, and the only way we realized it was because the GPS kept trying to get us to take the next exit!  Good thing we had the GPS, or we would have driven to West Virginia, LOL.  

As we drove back home, I really identified with Nathan, because I really didn't want to go home and face the mess and clutter, or the new school year.  I'm just tired, and I've never been so unmotivated.  I don't want to start back!  Sigh.  Only 18 more years to go.    

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What's New: A Bed and Lots of Pee

Micah has a new bed, and Drew has graduated up to the toddler bed!  A few months ago, my friend Allison posted a cute picture of 2 of her boys, the youngest in a toddler bed, and the next older on a bed above him, but not high enough to be in an actual bunk bed.  I was quite intrigued, so I asked her about the bed.  She said it was a "junior loft bed", so it wasn't as high as a real bunk bed, but it still took a regular twin mattress.  She had gotten hers from someone on their base, but she told me that it was like this one on  It seemed like a great idea to me, because I had visions of Micah hanging off the ceiling fan at the very least from a regular bunk bed.

Well, a few weeks ago we finally got motivated enough to buy one, but we decided to buy a wooden one from amazon.  It looks great and went together easily--but I failed to compare the measurements of this bed versus the metal one from Walmart, and it turns out this one is quite a few inches shorter.  Oops!  Drew didn't seem to mind, but when he laid on the toddler bed, it made me think of being in an MRI tube or something, LOL.  So Bob problem-solved and bought some of those bed raisers.  You can see them under the posts of the wooden bed.  Those raised it with no problem, and except for the fact that the first step of the ladder is pretty high off the ground, it works great!  (And the high first step hasn't seemed to bother anyone at all either.)  I will say, if you happen to be considering one of these beds, the wooden one has a TERRIBLE smell for the first . . . while.  A week or two, at least.  So while it looks great, I'm not sure I would 100% recommend it.

Micah has done just fine in the loft bed.  He loves it, and has slept well.  Drew has done okay on the toddler bed.  It turns out he takes after his Uncle Dan and turns around a lot at night.  He fell out a time or 2, but then we found the bed rail, which solved that problem.  He was waking up in the wee hours of the morning for several nights, but I conjectured that he was just cold (not sur ehow, since it's been sooo hot here lately), so I put a warmer blanket in the bed, and again, that seemed to do the trick.

The goal of this whole transition is to get Verity into the crib in Micah and Drew's room, and out of our closet!  Although it's nice, big, and dark (and Verity sleeps like a champ in there), Bob would like to be able to get stuff out of his closet in the (very) early mornings, so he doesn't have to worry about having everything out of there the night before, before Verity goes to bed.
Unfortunately, other parties are not cooperating with this grand plan.  Verity was NOT amused when we put her down for the night in the crib.  She fussed and carried on for awhile, although she did eventually go off to sleep.  But then when either Drew or Micah woke up in the middle of the night and went to the bathroom, the light shined right in on her, and she was wide awake.  I finally just got her and put her back in the pack-n-play in the closet, where she sighed a happy sigh and went right off to sleep.  I've put her down for naps in the crib too, but she never sleeps that long or that well.  I think we're going to wait a few more months and then try again.

And the other new thing is lots of pee.  Not in the potty, unfortunately.  I wrote in the beginning of July about how easy Drew was to potty-train.  And he was great!  But we came back from Ohio, and the wheels fell off.  I don't even really know what happened!  I think that Drew decided he would start standing up to pee.  But unfortunately he is not quite tall enough, so that resulted in a big puddle of pee right in the front of the potty.  Lots of puddles, actually.  It took me a little while to even figure out what was going on, because he never asked for help, or was alarmed by the big puddle or anything at all.  He would pee, come back out for help putting in his (dry) underwear and shorts . . . and then eventually I or someone else would head into the bathroom, where we would discover the huge puddle, right at the base of the potty.  Ack!  We eventually narrowed down the culprit to Drew, and I forbid any attempt at standing to pee.  But then Drew developed a new twist, which involved him waiting too long to go, and so he would start peeing before he made it onto the potty.  Now he has never had the kind of "pee running down the legs uncontrollably" accidents that most of my other kids have had when they waited too long.  No, he just pees a slight bit, enough to make the front of his underwear wet, and occasionally his shorts.  Sometimes he will get them off, and then pee on the floor, so I am still occasionally dealing with puddles, although this time when there's a puddle, his underwear are always somewhat wet.  Argh!!  So frustrating!!

Yesterday was a particularly bad day, and he just didn't seem to really care a bit.  I've been having him clean up the puddles for about a week now, which drives me crazy since he takes forEVER to wipe up the puddle with paper towels, and then wipe up the disinfectant spray.  But he has been steadily increasing the number of pairs of underwear he has been going through over the course of the past week or so, and it's been driving me more and more crazy!  Yesterday, after his 3rd pair of underwear and shorts, we told him he could not go swimming with the other kids and Bob.  Oh, he was devastated!  He cried and cried, but I told him that only big boys got to go swimming, because they wouldn't pee in the pool.  He carried on so long I eventually just put him to bed at 7:30.  He woke up in the middle of the night, crying, "I want to go swimming!"

Today was a better day.  He did pee on the floor once, down in the basement bathroom, but he was distracted by watching Frozen with the girls and Elena.  I am hopeful we will start trending upward.  I have started setting the timer to remind myself to tell him to go potty every hour and a half.  Predictably, he doesn't want to go, but he has lost the privilege of deciding for himself when to go!  He needs a reset, although honestly, without the timer, I simply can't remember to tell him on a regular basis.  My brain is just too full right now-and I mentally checked off potty-training for him the beginning of July!

I tell you what--there is always something with potty-training!  Definitely my least favorite stage of motherhood.  Give me labor and delivery any day!

Saturday, August 15, 2015


 I thought this Zits strip from our daily calendar several weeks ago was perfect to commemorate Nathan's first day at college!  He was such a cute little cowboy, in the outfit our neighbors Pam and Bill got him on his 3rd birthday.  Awwww . . .
 Bob and Nathan left last night to drive down.  They left at 7:00 PM from the L's house, because we were actually having a potluck to say goodbye to our very dear friends, Tim and Amy P., and their girls Sarah and Rachel.  Tim and Amy were in our wedding, so we go way, way back with them, and they are like family to us. It was a night of sad goodbyes all around--although we had tons of fun at the potluck, and we didn't leave until almost 10:00!
 We were so thankful that Isaac McC got home from his 6 weeks in China yesterday afternoon, so Nathan could see him one more time before leaving.  Perfect timing!
People have asked how I'm doing, and the answer is fine, right now.  I think it would have been much harder for me if I had actually been the one dropping Nathan off.  Instead, I'm here at home, dealing with messes and bickering, so not much really has changed.  In fact, Nathan has already been gone 5 weeks this summer, so we are used to not having him around, which is sad because it *doesn't* seem so weird.  I think it was hardest for me last summer when we were in Boston without him.  That was really the first time I felt like we were "making memories" without him.  Plus, I was pregnant, so I already had tons of excess hormones floating around, LOL.  But getting over that hurdle was big to me.  This summer has been easier.  We get to see him next weekend, and then it will be awhile before we see him, so I am looking forward to next weekend.  I'm confidant he'll do fine.  Hopefully his time at PJOC and other things like that have prepared him, and he's in really good shape, which is a big thing.  We'll see what he says next weekend!  Then classes will start the next Monday.  The important thing is that Nathan was really ready to go, so now we'll just pray everything goes well, and he grows in his walk with the Lord through it all!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Verity Update

Verity had a well-baby appointment yesterday.  She's almost 11 months, so this is a weird time to have one, but I realized that as soon classes start up for us, it is going to be next-to-impossible for me to make it to Bethesda until January, so I thought I might as well get her in now.  Driving there yesterday morning brought back flashbacks to a year ago, when I was going 3 times a week for stress tests and appointments.  I don't miss that at all!

Traffic was crazy, so although we left at 8:45, we didn't get there until 10:10.  Maybe 10:09, which is an important distinction because the check-in lady informed me that I had made it there in the nick of time, since their brand spankin new late policy gives a 10 minute grace period for lateness, and then your appointment is cancelled.  Whew!  I would have been mad if the appointment was cancelled, simply because of so much wasted time (25 minutes in the parking garage alone!!), but I just wouldn't have come back.

Verity was a well baby indeed.  She has plumped up to 18 pounds, 2 ounces, which puts her in the 20th percentile.  The doctor (who we've never seen before) was plotting all this out, and she said, "Well, she's fine now, weight-wise, but she was fine back here too--I don't know why they kept having you come back in" as she pointed to the 7th percentile appointment back in February.  Yes, thank you very much.  Grrr.

I did tell her how irritated I was by the whole thing because Verity is no longer nursing.  By the time we went to Texas in June, she was only reliably nursing in the morning, and maybe one more time a day.  While we were in Ohio, she nursed for the last time the morning before we left.  Since then, she has just happily been not the slightest bit interested in nursing.  No big deal, I suppose--except this is my last baby, and I wasn't planning on stopping nursing until a year at least!  And I know she got a whole lot less interested in nursing the more the bottle was pushed on her.  As it turns out, now that she is eating table food instead of baby food, she has chunked up, although she probably would have been more in the 10-15th percentile in she wasn't on the bottle.  But she wouldn't have been any less healthy!!  Gah.  So annoying!

It is weird to be totally done with nursing and pregnancy things.  I got pregnant the end of September 1996 with Nathan, so it's been almost 19 years of my life.  There were a little over 2 years total in that time period where I was not pregnant or nursing.  It's definitely been what has defined my life for the past 19 years!  It's hard to just have it be done.  Ah well, I still have diapers.  Ha!

Anyway, the appointment went well, the doctor was super-nice, and I felt vindicated.  Verity toddled happily around the room, chatting up a storm.  She was so happy--maybe because the doctor said she couldn't get any shots until after she turns 1.  And since I won't be able to get back there until January, she's off the hook for awhile!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ohio Trip

On Monday, July 27, I met my parents halfway between our houses at a Cracker Barrel in Pennsylvania, and we switched the girls over to their van, because the next day was the start of GRANDMA/GRANDPA CAMP, which is the total highlight of summer for the under 10 girl crowd around here!  This year both Aunt Claire AND Uncle Jim flew to Texas from Utah, and then they flew with my nieces Emily and Elia up to Ohio on Tuesday.  I'm sure you can imagine the giggling and shrieking from these 5 girl cousins ages 9 down to almost 6 when they were all back together again!

They were busy having fun Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:  they went to the local children's science museum, they went to Youngs for miniature golf, the big slide, and ice cream of course, and they also hit the base bowling alley.  Then the rest of us drove in Friday night.  Bob was even able to drive out with us for the weekend, and then he flew home late Sunday night.   We were busy having fun as well!

  • Many games were played, especially of Stratego

  •  The girls had a special breakfast at Mimi's

  •  We made cinnamon rolls

  •  We went to the church, and the girls wore these adorable matching patriotic dresses that Grandma had found for them

  •  Uncle Jim grilled his famous flank steak, which was sooo delicious

  •  Grandpa took the kids out for rides in the Model A--and Micah wasn't scared this year!

  •  The girls made pies with Grandma and Aunt Claire--a delicious chocolate one, and a strawberry nectarine one that I was a bit hesitant about, but was *really* good

  •  The girls had a make-up session with Aunt Claire, after which they had to run down and put on Nana's costume jewelry for the picture!

And then, all too soon, it was time for Emily, Elia, Aunt Claire, and Uncle Jim to fly back home. It's never long enough, and the girls were full of plans for us all to move to the same place! 
 Mom bought the girls 3 sets of matching outfits, and they were all so cute!  They love to match when they do all their Grandma/Grandpa camp stuff, and people always comment on them:  "Are they triplets and twins?"  So fun!  You can definitely tell the 5 girls are related.

Wednesday and Thursday we were able to spend time with Amy and her kids, including her niece, who is in between Anna and Grace in age.  The girls had a ball playing with her!
 Zachary has really shot up and filled out!  He was a wonderful big brother substitute for Verity, who definitely missed Nathan and Luke while they were gone.

Caleb and Jonathan spent Wednesday night over there, playing with Jacob, and they were thrilled to have something special for them to do.
 Thursday morning, the younger kids and I went back over, as well as my mom, so we could have lunch with Amy and her mom. We had such a great time!  Amy made a delicious chicken salad using freshly butchered chickens raised by her dad (and guest-fed by Amy herself  while her parents were on a cruise--we heard hilarious stories about that, as well as Amy's stint as assistant calf castrater!  They were definitely book material!)
But unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and we had to come back to Virginia and our stressful life here.  It is definitely getting harder and harder to do that!  Friday morning we left at 8:00 so we could pick up Nathan at WSS.  He did indeed have a fantastic time on AOX.  He said everyone bonded really quickly, and it was obvious everyone was there not just to have fun, but to grow and get prepared spiritually to go off to college.  I am always so thankful for the impact godly people at WSS have on my kids, just as godly people there influenced my walk back when I was a teenager.  What a blessing!

It was really great to see Nathan again, and we got to see Luke briefly, since he wasn't actually done until Sunday.  I actually drove back up Sunday morning to pick him up, getting there in time to eat lunch.  A friend of mine, Carri, who was on staff with me back in the day (the glory years, we said), was also up there from Kentucky to pick up one of her daughters who had also been on staff with Luke, so we were able to visit over lunch.  It was so lovely to catch up!  Then General and Mrs. B invited us over to their house on our way out of town for Gen. B's famous milkshakes, and well, who can say no to them?!  So we stopped over there, along with Carri and the 4 kids of hers she had with her (we both have 10 kids each--isn't that amazing?!  20 kids from 2 support staffers!).  Fun times!  We finally got home around 7:00, and we were finally all together again--for one more week, until Nathan leaves.  Wah!