Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Random Things I'm Thankful For Right Now

*Nathan is home!  He came home Friday, and it's been wonderful having him around again.  He told my mom he wanted to "sleep in and eat Mom's cooking", as well as play board games.  I think we've met all his goals!  So far games of skip-bo, Scrabble, Pandemic, and Monopoly have been played.  The McC's came over this afternoon to play street hockey too.

Nathan is doing really well in all areas at school.  It's nice to see that he is where he is supposed to be!  He's also going to a good church that a friend recommended.  He had 2 really great roommates for the first few months--their room was one of only 2 in their company that didn't have to have a sign saying no one could enter except for official corps business or academic reasons, since all 3 of them had good GPAs at mid-terms.  Now he's with a new roommate, so hopefully that will go well too.  It's good to see him so settled in and thriving down there!
Last week we were trying to figure out how we were going to get him home when a friend of ours in our Friday night Bible study asked if he could fly down there and pick Nathan up.  We were so happy the weather held and everything worked out!  Nathan got to fly home in this cute little plane, avoiding all the traffic on I-81.  It's only a 1 and a half hour by airplane!
*We have orthodontia!  Grace got her expander in on Monday.  She is having a hard time learning how to eat with it in, and it is definitely hurting her, but the results will be worth it.  You can see the 2 teeth that are so much higher in her mouth--just like Luke and Jonathan had.  She has gotten a lot more self-conscious about her smile lately, so I'm glad she has options to open up the traffic wreck that is her mouth!  There are other teeth backed up in the gums that have no place to go.  It's always neat to see teeth shift around, and others come in, once the expander has widened the jaw.  A miracle of modern orthodontics!
*Verity is learning tons of new things!  Most importantly, she finally learned how to turn herself around and slide down the stairs on her tummy.  She actually started doing this the beginning of November, but it's still such a nice relief not to worry about her if she goes upstairs!  She's super fast both at climbing stairs, and at sliding back down them.  Instead of going down on step at a time, she now knows she can lift her feet up and just slide down.  Much faster!  She is also super-fast at scrambling up onto a chair and then onto the table, where she wreaks havoc like Godzilla.  If you turn your back for one second, she's up there!

Her other important new skill is finally(!!) being able to drink out of a regular hard-spout sippy cup.  Yay!  We can now use all the sippy cups we've accumulated over the years!  I'm trying to have her drink more milk and less bottle, so this helps.  She is still her happy, smiley self, so I'm so thankful for that!
*We have a new dresser on the main floor!  This is minor, but wow!  The drawers slide in and out!  It's so nice-looking!  Our old dresser was anciently old--Bob picked it up off the side of the road when he was stationed in Alabama before we even met, which was in 1991.  It had a cushy life in the room with the crib until Elizabeth L started putting Theodore's clothes in a (nice) dresser on their main floor several years ago.  It was so convenient!  Why had I never thought of that before?!  So we moved the old dresser into our family room and put Micah's clothes, and then Drew's clothes too, in it (and eventually the fish tank on it).  It was really nice, except that drawer tracts were all broken, so it was a constant struggle to get the drawers in and out.  But then a few weeks ago Bob and I made a trip to that wonderful store, Ikea, and voila!  A lovely new dresser that will hopefully last at least as many years as our old one!  Did I mention the drawers slide in and out so smoothly?!  I could stand there all day and slide them!
I am of course thankful for many more things, such as my wonderful family, my supportive friends, and most of all salvation through Christ, but these are some of the other lesser-known things I'm thankful for!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Library of Congress Field Trip

We took a Rivendell field trip to the Library of Congress this morning.  This is a place we had never been before, and I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Emily, our field-trip coodinator extraordinaire, set up a tour for us.  We divided into 2 groups:  junior high and high schoolers were one, and everyone under 6th grade were another.  All together, we had 24 kids, 6 kids, and 1 grandma.  The tours each did a part for 45 minutes, and then we switched, so we each got a complete tour.  I went with the younger kids, and I had a fantastic time--mainly because Luke stayed home and watched my 4 youngest, plus Christine's youngest.  So we could have had 6 more kids along!  I was thrilled to not be carrying a diaper bag, pushing a stroller, and trying to keep hungry, tired, crabby toddlers from being loud and running around.
We started out in the great hall, which was amazing, architecturally.  I LOVED all the intricate details and all the light.  I could have stayed for a lot longer, reading the names of all the great thinkers and writers up on the (extremely high) ceiling. The room was just so stunning.

There were just so many details to notice!  All these little carved cherubs (called some other word--possibly Italian?--I should look that up, but who has time?--something like "putti") have little details concerning their occupations carved up there with them.
Behind this staircase there was a little display of some actual medieval illuminated, hand-copied books.  So amazing!  The colors were so vivid!  They had some Bibles in another case.  They didn't have the beautiful illustrations, but whoa, was the print small.  It gave me a hand cramp to look at it and imagine copying it by hand!
Then we got to see the actual Guttenburg Bible, one of only 3 that survive which are printed on vellum rather than paper.  We had just listened to a Peace Hill Press book about Johannes Guttenburg on CD on our trip down to visit Nathan, so we were all up on his life, and all his financial difficulties.
Next we peeked into the main reading room.  There is a huge and glorious dome for the ceiling, so the room is flooded with natural light.  What a wonderful place to do research!
They have all these statues of wise men ringing the upper balcony.  Right next to our viewing area were Isaac Newton and Moses himself.  I'm sure it looked just like him!
After a quick walk-through of Thomas Jefferson's library, of which 1/3 are the original books he himself owned, we traded guides with the older kids.  The new guide did a hands-on demonstration of early American printing tools and the process they used.  It was really interesting, and I think it wasn't too terribly much different from what Guttenburg himself used.  Jonathan thought that was the most interesting part of the tour, followed closely by the Jefferson library.
Then we met back up in the great hall to take some group pictures.
Here are the Rivendell teachers, except for Christine (and Siri).  We're under a mosaic of "Minerva", the Roman goddess of wisdom, which we thought was appropriate, lol.
  And here is some of us with some of the McC kids.  After much consternation on my part about how to get downtown, where to park, etc., Bob came up with a genius plan.  He went in to work late after driving us downtown and dropping us off.  Then he drove on to work and worked a few hours.  When we were done, he drove back over and picked us up, and then we dropped him back off, so he can take the bus home tonight.  Yay--no maneuvering the big van around downtown for me, and (most importantly), no need to park!  It worked out really nicely.  The weather was perfect, the tour guides were interesting and nice, and it was a lovely time!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Visit With Nathan

 A week ago we were visiting with Nathan!  Bob took Friday off from work, so we were able to get there in the afternoon.  It was so great to see him (and his bag of laundry)!  We were all milling around outside his dorm, waiting for him to sign out and come down, when 3 upperclass cadets came out the door.  One saw us and came over to ask us if we were Nathan's family.  Haha--I wonder how on earth he guessed?  It turned out to be Nathan's first sergeant.

We went back to the hotel, and it was so nice just to relax with ALL of us.  Bob took the little kids swimming, and the rest of us just caught up.  Nathan is doing great in all areas, which is wonderful news.  It is especially heartening for me to hear that he is doing really well academically, since, well, that was what I spent the last 18 years preparing him for.  Whew!

We talked about where to go out to eat, but a table for 12 in a college town on a Friday night seemed like a bridge too far, especially when the youngest ones were pretty crabby from the car ride and lots of snacks.  So Bob and I went to Little Caesar's and brought back 6 pizzas.  While we were waiting for them all to be ready, we were reminded again how different it is down there, compared to in Northern VA.  People were so friendly, chatting with us as we waited!  Way different.

 We of course had 2 hotel rooms.  The older 4 boys were in one, and the rest of us were in the other.  That meant the boys could really sleep in, although the little kids were pretty tired and slept fairly late as well.  After breakfast, more swimming, college football, and leftover pizza for lunch, our big outing was to a rugby game.  It was raining at this point, but everyone was still game to watch.  Verity had fallen asleep in the van, so I stayed with her while everyone braved the damp and cold--for awhile anyway.  Kids kept drifting back to the van, and then back out to the sidelines.  Fortunately it stopped raining at halftime, and Verity woke up, so we could all go out to watch.  The was another man there, and he was letting his 2 kids just splash around in these huge big puddles.  They were maybe a little younger than Micah and Drew, who were eyeing them *very* enviously.  The kids were absolutely sopping wet, and I made sure Micah and Drew stayed far away, since we didn't have a ton of extra clothes--plus it was freezing!
 Once again, Saturday evening we knew we'd be in trouble if we had to wait in a crowded place for a table, so we chose the path of least resistance and went to the nearest Chick-Fil-A.
 I'm not sure why Micah is flashing a gang sign here, because he actually loves Chick-Fil-A, lol. It was good for the kids to have the playground to run around in, especially with all the rain.

Sunday we got up and ate breakfast.  Bob took the younger kids swimming again so I could get the room packed up.  We had the best of intentions of getting to Nathan's church early, but . . . yeah.  As so often happens here at home, it was like herding cats (with luggage) to get everyone out the door, so we were late.  I know--shocking surprise!  Sigh.  We talked about how easy it will be when Bob and I go to visit Verity at college . . . of course, she also won't have the cheering crowd greeting her!
 After church we ate at a little Chinese restaurant before heading back to campus.  We got to see Nathan's (incredibly crowded) room, and then we walked around some with him.  Everyone agreed it is a beautiful campus, and Anna is ready to go there herself!
 It was really good for Micah, Drew, and Verity to see Nathan again.  On Thursday before we left, Micah said, "We're going to pick up Nathan and bring him back home to live with us?"  Nooo . . . I think it was good for Micah to actually see Nathan's room, and that he is really *living* there.  Everyone really misses their oldest brother!  I also think maybe it wasn't bad that it worked out for this to be the first weekend we could get down there.  Nathan's settled in now, and so it wasn't anywhere near as hard to say goodbye as it was when we left him in August, and he was not looking forward at all to going back! As he said in a letter to the girls, "Each day is a little better than the one before."  
We were able to get a picture with ALL the kids before we left, which made me really happy!  I can't take those for granted anymore.  And now we look forward to having Nathan home for Thanksgiving in a week!  Hooray!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb turned 14 today!  We baked cookies and mini apple pies today, but we didn't bake a cake, so we just celebrated with ice cream!  We've been having the "week of Caleb" as far as meals go--he couldn't figure out one favorite for his birthday dinner, so he picked all the dinners this week.  He got a WSS t-shirt as well as a fleece vest.  We were going to get him a WSS water bottle to replace the one he dropped and shattered on his way to cross-country practice, but sadly they were out, and they said they weren't going to order any more until next summer.  So we just had to get a regular nalgene from amazon to get him through basketball and rugby seasons.  We also gave him a Lego Star Wars set I found at Costco (it's so convenient to shop for a birthday right after everyone rolls out all the new Christmas toys!).

I've discovered that Caleb is my least-photographed child.  I searched back to find another picture, but he has managed to slip out of most other kid ones.  I'm making it my mission to take more pictures of him this year!  He is thrilled to have grown several inches, as well as developed a deeper voice this past year, so I need to document that!
I did find this picture of him at a cross-country meet.  He and Jonathan both ran cross-country for the first time this fall.  We had heard several other people with asthma say that running had helped them not be so reactive.  Caleb's asthma has been pretty well-controlled the past few years, but it does seem to have a bit of an exercise trigger.  He was pretty wheezy at the beginning of the season, so he was using his puffers a lot, but we were sort of stumbling along in the dark as far as how to use them effectively, since they had always just been rescue inhalers that he didn't need too often.  Eventually his flovent one ran out, and I had to make an appointment to get a new prescription.  I'm so glad we went in!  The doctor was very helpful, as far as what he should be doing during seasons with lots of running.  He's supposed to use albuterol 20 minutes before running, since that helps open up the airway.  Then he take flovent daily--2 puffs, twice a day, actually--, which works more long-term to protect the airway so it's not so reactive.  It was good to have a definitive plan laid out for him!  I don't think running is Caleb's absolute favorite thing to do by a long shot, but he had a good season.  He improved a lot, and he had a good time.  Now it's on to basketball!