Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rest and then (Finally) Productivity!

We had a lovely and refreshing weekend in Ohio.  We left Thursday afternoon, after Bob worked half a day, and we drove straight to my parents' house to drop the girls off for Grandma/Grandpa camp.  To say they were excited would be an immense understatement, and they could not wait until Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, Emily, and Elia got there on Saturday!  We then drove over to Amy's house, where we spent the rest of the weekend.

It was so wonderful to catch up with her!  Saturday Bob took Micah, Drew, and Verity to a (really, really hot) open house at the local police station, while Amy and I went out for lunch and hit some teacher supply stores.  I finished a book and just generally relaxed, which was so nice.  AMy and Jason even took us to a new (to us) ice cream place Friday night!  I got "chocolate hazelnut", which was a really dark chocolate ice cream, and let me tell you, I highly recommend it!  It was SO good!  Definitely a close favorite with Young's chocolate peanut butter, a flavor which has never really had any competition with me before.

Jonathan had a grand time with Jacob, playing as many different kinds of video games as possible in just a few short days.  Jonathan was the only "big kid" for us, so that was really weird.  Luke was down in Florida for a Civil Air Patrol activity.  He was going to get back Saturday night, but we realized before we left that he hadn't taken a key.  Caleb was still not feeling real well with his really sore throat, and he was also pretty wheezy.  I started wondering if an 8 hour trip and then a weekend in a house with a cat would really be the best thing for him.  Bob agreed, and so we asked him what he thought about it.  He chose to stay home, so we let him--which also did mean he could let Luke in.  Caleb had a restful, quiet time here alone.  He did comment that quiet was nice, but now he could see why people didn't want too much of it, lol.  I left him leftovers, but his throat was so sore, he really hated eating.  He subsisted on a few bowls of oatmeal and a few of chicken noodle soup.  He's (finally!) feeling some slight improvement, but he ended up losing about 11 pounds, which, unlike his mother, he does not have to loose!  So now we will have to work on fattening him back up again.
We said a sad goodbye and drove back home Sunday.  Again, it was SO weird to be driving the big van with just 4 kids!  We listened to Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, which passed the time quite nicely.

Once we got home, I got to work.  I had a list a mile long of things I hoped to accomplish while the girls were gone.  It doesn't seem like taking away just 3 kids would really make a big difference, but it really does change the dynamics around here!  When the 2 girls were at Camp Caleb, Faith spent most of the week over at the McC's house, and I was able to put together the biology syllabus for this year, and figure out what labs we will be doing.  This is just a regular biology class, using BJU's high school biology book, so it is a class I've never technically taught before.  It's a good, meaty class, but it will certainly be easier for me compared to AP bio.  Yay!

So far this week, I've tweaked the life science syllabus.  We are using a new edition of that book, plus I'm not having a baby.  I've taught that class 3 times for Rivendell, and I've had a baby each time, thus requiring a block of "maternity leave" in the schedule!  It was VERY nice to make the schedule with no maternity leave.  

I also made up my lab list of supplies to order, which is always a big undertaking. I was thrilled to discover that it looks like "Bio Corporation", where I always bought my dissection specimens, has now become "Biology Products", with a similar inventory and prices!  I was worried when I couldn't get Bio Corporation's website to work anymore.  I haven't yet placed my Home Science Tools order, but I should be able to finish that this week too.  I stayed up late Monday night to finish listing out what I needed to order, and I did order the dissection specimens, paying for the order with my Sam's credit card.  When I walked back into the study to turn out the lights, I noticed my credit card sitting there on the desk, and I picked it up to put it back in my wallet.  The only problem was, it never made it there!  Tuesday morning we took Bruno to get his nails trimmed, and when I went to pay, it wasn't in my wallet.  As soon as we got home, I searched around, but it wasn't anywhere on any flat surface in the kitchen or the study.  I was pretty panicked, but the Lord prodded me to go get the bag of kitchen trash out of the big trash dumpster.  I had taken it out there that morning, when I wheeled the dumpster to the curb.  I got it out, went down a few layers, and voila--there was my shiny silver credit card!  I was SO thankful that we took Bruno in.  Otherwise I wouldn't have even realized it was gone before the trash men came to empty our trash!  So that was a big praise, as well as a reminder that I am not really at my best late at night, lol.  The credit card was with some random paper trash and capless markers that I had picked up from the study on my way out to put my credit card away.  It didn't take me very long to get distracted and forget all about the credit card!

I've been working on memory work for this year too.  It's one of my favorite years (okay, I always say that!), with the Preamble to the Constitution, the Star-Spangled Banner, Charge of the Light Brigade, and the Gettysburg Address, among others.   Again, I had to rework it because I had Drew the last time we did this year, so there was a big chunk of time with no memory work scheduled!  I'm not quite done with it, but I've made a good start.

I've also been ordering the books we need for next year.  We are finally at a point in Tapestry of Grace where we have *most* of the books for each year, so ordering for history and lit is not the huge chore it used to be, with 20 million books for both dialectic and rhetoric needing to be ordered and then kept track of.  I'm ordering books for a lot of people, though, and I am always slightly panicked to think that I have overlooked a book (happened before) or (gasp!) an entire class!  Hopefully that won't ever happen!

The last main thing I'm working on is trying to get a little, tiny bit more caught up on the individual scrapbooks I have for the girls. For each of the kids (well, down through Faith, currently . . .) I have an 8x10 scrapbook that has 2 double page spreads for each year besides their first year.  I completely stopped at 2012 (and for Caleb and Jonathan I stopped earlier . . . )  This has really bugged me, so I really wanted to work at least a little bit on these books.  I'm going to try get the 3 girls through 2013--at least that is what I printed off pictures for.  So far I have finished 2012 for Faith.  It's a start, I suppose . . . I don't want to work on it while Verity is up, since I can imagine her contribution to my efforts, and I don't really want Micah and Drew around either.  They would also be thrilled to "help with scissors and markers, and well, I just can't.  Honestly, that's one big reason I haven't worked on this for so long.  I don't really want the girls around either, because I know they too would want to help, and it would just be really stressful to have 3 girls around, and me trying to give them things to do, and  . . . it would just be crazy, and I can't deal with any more crazy in my life right now, especially not in something that should be a relaxing hobby!  Maybe in another 15 years or so I'll get caught up.  Ha!  I am still determined at some point to start books for Micah, Drew, and Verity, but I don't know when that will be.  I like doing it non-digitally because then I can do just a little bit each year, and they each have something where I wrote in my own handwriting for them.  I just think that's neat.  But since I haven't been able to find a good way to scrapbook by myself, alas, it might be awhile.

And now I should get off the computer and start being productive again!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Sickness

We are rarely sick during the school year (which is a huge blessing), but this summer has been particularly bad for Jonathan and Caleb.  First Jonathan has his staph infection on his scalp, followed by Lyme disease.  He's come to the end of his 30 days of antibiotics, and he seems to be doing well, thankfully.  He had more antibiotics in the past 6 weeks than he has had the entire rest of his life!  And he picked up some little virus while at Camp Caleb, but that passed quickly as well.  Hopefully the rest of the summer will be uneventful for him--he doesn't want to go back to Bethesda any time soon!

Caleb also picked up a virus at Camp Caleb, but he has not ever recovered.  His throat remained really sore, he ran a low-grade fever (99.4 usually) for awhile, and he's been really tired, taking naps in the afternoon.  I'm sure everyone is thinking what I was thinking at this point--mono--so I made an appointment for him last Tuesday.  They did a rapid strep test, which was "faintly positive", so he started on antibiotics as well.  The doctor also thought it sounded like mono, so she ordered a mono spot test, which is a blood test.

I was very surprised when she called Thursday to say that had come back negative, because Caleb is still not any better.  If anything, he said today that his throat feels even more sore, and all he ate yesterday was a bowl of oatmeal, since it hurts so much to swallow.  This is his last day of antibiotics, but there hasn't been any improvement.

I googled "mono spot test accuracy", and what I read said that the test is more accurate after 2 weeks of symptoms.  Caleb only got sick starting July 7, so it's just been 2 weeks now.  If he's not any better next week, I'll make another appointment and take him back in.  I know you can't do anything for mono, but it seems like it would be good to have it documented if it is in fact mono.

I got mono in the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of college.  Bob and I were dating, although he never did come down with it.  I remember so vividly how sore my throat was.  At one point, I just wanted to cut my head off because I could NOT swallow, and I was so miserable.  Bob brought me Wendy's frosties, because at least I could get those down.  It was a horrible month.  Honestly, this seems like the direction Caleb is going, so I would be really surprised if it wasn't mono.  Poor guy!  I really am thankful this didn't happen during the school year.  It would not have been good for his academics!  Hopefully this will all be behind him by the time Rivendell starts back up again.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Weekend at the Lake

 We drove back up to WSS Friday in time for lunch, but way too late for Jonathan's zip line finish.  We left later than we should have, and then traffic was at a standstill on 70 for about 20 minutes!  Nathan had to call to make sure we were actually going to show up to officially pick up Jonathan, since his counselor had to stay with him until we got there.  Oops!  It turned out Jonathan was a bit of the problem camper all week.  He picked up some kind of virus, so he ran a low-grade fever, which led to some sitting in the nurse's office and missing some activities.  He also threw up in the cabin one night, splattering his duffle bag and someone else's too.  God bless his poor counselor Micah who had to help get that cleaned up.  Ack!

Caleb was back from AO, where he had a great time, but he also picked up a little virus.  He mainly ran a low-grade fever and had a sore throat.  At least his started at the end of AO, so he didn't miss out on any activities there.

After finishing up at WSS, we headed northeast to Bob's sister's house for the weekend. She and her 2 girls live in a lovely old house in a cute little town on a beautiful lake.   We got there after dinner, but since it wasn't raining, Maddie and Amanda took people out of the boat right away.
Rose and I sat on the dock, catching up and watching Verity.  She was looking like a pirate, due to an accident on Wednesday where she climbed on our dollhouse, fell off, and pulled it down on top of her.  It gave her a nasty black eye, plus a cut on her nose and her cheek!  Not that she learned her lesson, though.  Wednesday night--that same day!--she was trying to climb up the back of one of our kitchen chairs, but thankfully I was right there to keep it from falling back on her.
Obviously her eye didn't bother her!  She was happy as a clam running around on the dock!
Saturday morning there was a 5k race for the local fire station.  Rose signed us all up, and the start was literally less than 100 yards from her front door, so all of us except Jonathan participated.  He was having some issues related to taking antibiotics for a long time, poor guy, and he didn't feel up to a race.  Caleb did go, even though he wasn't feeling well either, and it probably was not a good thing for him!

Rose kept her jogging stroller, which is still in great condition, so I pushed Drew and Verity in that.  I couldn't have done it without that stroller, that's for sure!  Verity is crying in the above picture because I had unbuckled her before I remembered I wanted to take a picture, and she is ready to get out!  I was surprised at how cooperative they both were in the stroller.  Drew wanted to get out at first, but I walked quickly and distracted him by enthusiastically pointing out every single remotely interesting detail I could find of the lakes houses we were passing (basketball hoop! boat! 4-car garage! day lilies! beautiful porch! doggie!).  I really do love looking at all the old houses, so I had a marvelous time walking, until Verity started fussing to get out, but thankfully that was just right at the very end.

About halfway through the 5k, Faith dropped back to walk with me and the stroller.  She had been walk/running with Maddie (holding her back like an anchor, lol), and I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't very happy.  She had drunk too much water at a water station, and her tummy wasn't feeling well, and Faith isn't what we call stoic on a good day even, so . . . again, it took some fast talking to distract her from her woes.   I walked the whole 5k, pushing the stroller, and I finished right around 47 minutes.  Luke, Anna, and Grace all finished way before us, and they came back to encourage us.  Luke even got Faith to run the last little bit so that she finished before me!  Bob and Caleb walked the whole way with Micah, who was not particularly happy about it but nonetheless did it, lol.
Here is a terrible picture of our group because I picked the wrong small little thumbnail shot and I'm not that technical to delete it and get the right one back in the right place . . . imagine us all looking at the camera and smiling, because that's what the other shot looks like . . .
The rest of the day we went out on the boat and did lake-ish things.  Even though it was cloudy and cool, the rain held off, and honestly, the cool weather was *such* a nice change of pace from DC's heat and humidity.  It was really refreshing to need a hoodie!  The lake water was warm, so lots of kids tubed, even Micah and Drew!  They also boated over to an island in the lake, swam ashore and explored.  A read-aloud from last year was Swallows and Amazons, so all the lake and island stuff reminded me of the book, although maybe not anyone else, lol.  Fun times!

Verity went on the boat several times Saturday, and she LOVED it.  I was worried she would be scared, but she clearly is more like Faith than Grace.  She sat there, swallowed up in her life jacket, looking out the front, and loving everything!  As you can see by the picture, I did go on the boat, although I also took the opportunity, while so many little people were so engaged, to read some books.  Rose has a gorgeous side porch, with a lovely porch swing, and sitting there reading, and glancing up every so often to gaze out over the lake, is so incredibly peaceful and relaxing!
At dinnertime, there was more excitement--a parade!  Right by Rose's side porch!  This was also to celebrate the fire department, and fire departments from every single surrounding burrough and hamlet were out in force, sirens blaring and horns honking.  It was loud, but very impressive, especially for Drew and Micah!  When the people in the parade started throwing candy, then they were all in high heaven.
Jonathan actually got to ride on a float with Amanda, throwing candy.  All the kids had Walmart bags to collect their booty, and the candy certainly kept people quiet on the way home the next day!  You would not believe how much candy Drew and Micah ate in the van.  Ah well . . . there didn't seem to be any ill effects!

After the parade, there was a little carnival over at the fire station.  We walked over (this small town thing is really nice!), and the kids played games, bounced in a bouncy house, ate a funnel cake, etc.  It was a jam-packed day, and we were all really tired by the end of it!

We had to leave the next morning to drive back to WSS to drop off Anna and Grace for their week of Camp Caleb.  The drive between NW PA and WSS is really pretty, especially by State College.  We needed to stop at Walmart to get more tennis shoes for Grace (she outgrew hers between camping and now . . .), and we ate some yummy barbecue at Dickie's for lunch.  It was good to see Nathan again, even just briefly.  I'm glad he's up there because Grace was NOT excited about being in camp without Anna (they're in separate camps this year).  The daughter of a friend of mine from my own WSS days was also in Grace's camp, so hopefully they could hit it off.  Nathan texted last night to say he had seen Anna and Grace at the square dance, and they were both having lots of fun.

Back here at home, we did a ton of laundry.  Then we cleaned up the basement because we had surprise company!  Ian, the son of some friends of ours who we were stationed with back in Ohio, was coming back from a missions trip in Europe.  His flight landed Tuesday afternoon, but his flight back home didn't take off again until 9:00 Wednesday morning.  So we picked him up and had a nice little visit!  He even with to CAP with the boys, since he is in CAP where they live now.  I do love Facebook for keeping in touch with friends from old assignments!

Drew actually received a medal for "fastest male walker" in his age group.  This was a bit inaccurate, since Drew didn't technically "walk", per se, but boy, does he ever love his medal!  He wears it all around the house and talks about it to everyone who will listen.  Grace was happy he got it, because he's always had a thing for her swimming medals, but then they mysteriously break.  She said (darkly), "Good.  Now he can break his own medal!"  I think it will be a fun memory of a fun weekend--if we can manage not to lose the thing!

ETA:  A better group shot at Rose's!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Summer Busyness and "Glorious Uncertainty"

We had a great weekend starting last Friday.  We had a goodbye party for friends in our small group who are moving to Norway with the state department, the lucky ducks.  It was such a fun party, even though the reason was sad.  One newly married couple stayed late and washed everything up, which was such an amazing gift.  We had cleaned up the house pretty well (okay, the main floor at least), and because of their help, it was still clean at the end of the evening, which was so nice because we left the next morning to drive to WSS to drop off Caleb and Jonathan and spend the night there so we could see Nathan.  The whole time we were gone I kept thinking, "I'm going to come home to a clean house!"  It was lovely.  And it made the weekend away so much more relaxing!

The weekend was really wonderful too.  I took a nap Saturday afternoon and also read a murder mystery, something I definitely don't have time for during the school year.  The kids ran around and got themselves completely tired out, which did lead to melt-downs later on over completely random things.  Drew pitched several fits over the fact that we made him eat "SO MANY TIMES" (three times a day, in fact, because we are completely unreasonable).  Also, he "HATES GRAVY".

The speaker could not have talked on a more appropriate theme.  He was talking about David's life, and he was especially focusing on his time in caves during the sessions we were there.  "God does his best work in caves" was kind of his mantra.  He said waiting wasn't passive, but that we wait ON the Lord and spend time with him.  He talked through Psalm 13 as a way to go through "caves"--first lamenting, but then trusting in God's faithfulness, and praising him.  He also went through Psalm 63, which was written after David fled Jerusalem after Absalom's rebellion (2 Sam. 16, paying close attention to the end of verse 14 "And there [in the desert] he refreshed himself."  In Psalm 63, David was satisfied, and it was because the Lord was enough for him.  It was a refreshing time for Bob and me too.

It was so great to see Nathan and hear everyone say how much they like him and enjoy working with him.  He has Saturday night and Sunday off, so that worked out really well with our visit.  He and I stayed up late talking Saturday night, and then Sunday afternoon I drove him, Luke, and 2 other staffers who had the day off into town where he and Luke bought some very snazzy patriotic socks at Walmart.  Drew was so impressed by them that he wanted Luke to wear them every day.

We drove back Sunday night because we couldn't face a drive back into DC on Monday after a 3 day weekend.  Talk about a depressing cave, lol.  Plus, the kids were so tired.  They all fell asleep, Luke drove the whole way home, and it was very nice to be back home in our own beds!  Monday we unpacked and did laundry.  We were going to go watch fireworks, but it was a rainy, gloomy day, and who wants to go sit on wet grass to watch fireworks?  Not me!  So we wimped out and watched them over at the L's house.  As the show started, we could tell it was going to be awful--the cloud ceiling was so low you couldn't really see the tops of the fireworks at all, and none of the smoke was dissipating.  Eventually it looked like DC was burning after having been attacked by a heavy artillery barrage.  But then--like magic on our screens!--all of a sudden the skies were clear and the fireworks were amazing!  We had been laughing at how they couldn't find the right angle--but suddenly they did!  It was called the "time travel" angle, because PBS started showing fireworks from some previous year, where the sky was clear, and the Capitol building did not have scaffolding all around it.  Ha!  They never said a word about it, either!  Occasionally they would show a shot of the actual live fireworks, where the sky looked like a red lava lamp of weirdness, and then we'd be right back into clear skies and beautiful spangled fireworks.  An alternate reality, for sure.  We had fun watching and commenting though!