Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Happenin?

So, I thought I would just do a little update here for all those people who care- just a smattering of what's going on in life right now. Here goes:

Babies:
I'm a little over 10 weeks pregnant. This is actually my seventh pregnancy, but soon to be sixth child. I am due May21st and very glad for God's timing in it all. There were many times in the past year that having a baby would have just seemed like more than I could handle. However, God saw fit to schedule it right after we settled down from house renovations (not done, but plenty functional) and hold off just long enough so I can potentially get a full year of school in before he/she arrives. I'm very thankful for His care over my life in this area and I've found the more I trust God, the more He has proved himself trustworthy. All is going well. I had a little spotting a couple of weeks ago that gave me a bit of a scare, but the midwife assured me that it was due to "overdoing" it, and possibly a low progesterone level. The spotting went away and I'm trying to behave myself on things like "no heavy lifting". You know it's funny, I always thought something that was considered "heavy lifting" was actually something that I had to strain to pick up or almost couldn't pick up. I recently discovered that Joseph can be considered heavy lifting since he's 25 pounds! WHAT??? I carry him around all the time! And um...vacuuming with my non selfpropelled Kirby is also considered heavy lifting. Probably having the children jump on my on the couch falls in that category as well. You know, come to think of it...it's a wonder any baby of mine survives to reach the real world! That's just the beginning in our family of dangerous deathly situations- ahh...praise the Lord for angels!

But I digress...so baby, check. We're all good.

Homeschooling:
This year Jonathon is in a sort of probationary 2nd grade and James is in 1st grade. I don't mean to be down on Jonathon, that's just the way the state looks at it since he missed a lot of school last year and couldn't pass his test for 1st grade. But he's coming right along this year and if we aren't caught up by the end, we will be well on our way. James is doing well also. We are using the cirriculum "My Father's World" and I love it! What a breeze! I feel like school is very much what I always wanted it to be for my children- mostly fun, with learning happening on the sly and a good solid format to follow and know that they really are getting what they need. It's designed to be a whole family involvement sort of thing, so it works great for incorporating the little ones in much of the time and it has reasonable expectations for how much to accomplish in one day. Did I say I loved it? We've had 43 days of school so far this year. All the days we've taken as holidays I've been able to have them make up on other days and thus able to count. The kids seem to like school for the most part. They do the usual groaning every morning when I tell them it's time to stop playing with whatever is there favorite toy at that moment and come to school, but after that it's mostly pleasant. Don't get me wrong, they are kids and have their usual "I can't do it" fall apart moments and the "want to be doing what the baby it doing" times, but on the whole the days are usually characterized by happy moments. I'm so glad.

House Projects:
As I said earlier, the dust has settled somewhat over the massive activity in the house. We've managed to get most of the walls painted and the kitchen is done and the bathrooms are mostly done. Bedrooms are ok with a few little things to check of in each one of them before I can get them officially off my brain. So, the big part is ok. Brandon just replaced a temporary wall in the garage with a more permanent one and I was so proud of him. He hadn't really don't hardly any construction work before we moved here and he built that wall almost all by himself! I helped with design and measurements, which if you could see the wood on the bottom, you would know that I remeasured about 10 times before I got everything in the right place- he probably could have done it the first time. :-) Anyway, it's as water tight as anything can get there I think, so I'm anxious to see how it does with snow piled up next to it this next spring. Will we have water running in or not? Only time will tell- I am hoping for not.

As far as big outstanding parts of the house left to work on we have the school room, which has only been mudded and not painted. You wouln't notice though because I have plastered the entire thing with educational posters. (Ok, well you can see the ceiling part.) We still need to paint the laundry, laundry hall, and half bathroom. And we have countertops downstairs waiting for cabinets to go under them for those areas as well. There's a couple of wall cabinet sections that need to be built for that area too. We are of course hoping to do more with the garage to make it more functional as a room of the house and everything from the ceiling and insulation down to leveling the floor and reinstalling heat needs to be done out there. The entire outside of the house needs to be painted and soon. Then there's the endless array of little things- baseboard here, finish painting a million different pieces of trim, repairing windows, screens, replacing screen doors, oh, the litte bit of brick work on both the front and back of the house...and perhaps a toilet in our bathroom that flushes. The list is endless, and I am discovering- when you own a home- it always is. As soon as you fix something it begins to deteriorate and pretty soon you find yourself thinking, "I just did that."

We are currently getting a wood boiler installed to hopefully lower fuel costs for this house. That should help a lot. This house was built just before people started getting serious about insulating...which means the heat just goes right out through the walls and it costs a fortune to keep us warm in the winter! So now we'll be able to run on wood heat and then when that isn't practical we can supplement with oil. I must say, I'm not looking forward to the idea of giving large portions of my basement over to wood though. It'll be alright in the end I'm sure.

Work:
Brandon's keeping up his bookkeeping job and over the last few years both of us have realized that job has grown by leaps and bounds from what it was to what it is now and he finds himself busy MANY hours of the day. He does a good job with it and keeps track of things well, but it takes a long time to do it. When he's not doing that, he's still doing groundskeeping work. He just plowed up the gardens for winter today hoping to kill off some of the grass and tell the fungus to go back whereever it came from. I think he likes the variety, but as today was his only day in the next two weeks to plow, he wasn't thrilled with the idea that it snowed this morning and he had to do it in 35 degree weather- windy at that. Those days I think he wishes he could just be "cooking the books".

Lately he's had a good time talking about all things financial with lots of people since the economy is not so hot. I think he feels in his element and I love hearing him tell about his (public) converstations when he comes home.

He's also been a great support to me. As I began school, he got on a kick of throwing a load of laundry in every morning and evening, so if I had baskets of laundry they were always clean ones. What a big help that has been. He's also helped greatly with breakfasts for a while now- especially since I've been doing the morning sickness thing. I crawl out of bed, stumble downstairs and find all the children dressed, in their right minds, eatting breakfast that he made. Somedays it's oatmeal, others- like today- we have scrambled eggs, grits, and sausage. He's a good cook, don't let him fool you. If you are ever in doubt, just ask me about the time I was gone and he decided to help all the children make their own loaves of zucchini bread- at the same time, then he did the same with apple bread, and they were really good! I was amazed, not that it was good, but that he lived to tell about it. I would surely be dead!

The kids:
Jonathon (7) has been my biggest helper lately. One day this week I felt so sick I stayed on the couch and told him how to make spaghetti for dinner. And he did, all but drain the noodles and put the food on the table. He's a great help with Joseph and seems to be sensitive to when things are going hard for me and is willing to lighten the load. He's currently trying to loose his 4th tooth and thus check off all the front teeth. He's quite proud of this accomplishment.

James (6) desperately wants to loose his teeth (that haven't already been knocked out) but I think it's merely for financial gain. He's gradually learning that throwing Joseph around like a pillow or sitting on him are not proper forms of affection. He's tough, sneaky (sometimes), slick (more often) and funny (almost always). He can pull out movie quotes with the best of them and apply them in just the right situation. He and I have agreed to build a "Calvin snowman" on our front lawn sometime this winter. I think he's settled on the one of the large snow chicken holding an ax over the stump where the snowman is laying on one side and his head on the other. All you visitors beware!

Jeff (almost 5 and has been counting for 2 months with a month and a half to go) is well also. He's talking a lot more these days which I'm happy about. His speech is even pretty clear. He likes being involved in school when I can. He and Rachel are best friends and play all the time together. They do a good combo of girl and boy things and though Jeff makes a great effort at playing girly stuff, no matter how it goes, Rachel plays his boy stuff as girly as you can imagine. He tolerates it though and when he really wants rough and tumble he goes and hangs with his big brothers. He's pretty gentle and loves to cuddle and has a knock-you-over happy smile. I asked him today what he wants to be when he grows up and he said, "I want to grow up and be a Daddy so I can cook grits." A high calling indeed!

Rachel (3) is the ultimate in girly. Dress up, high heels, princess, the RIGHT outfit, wash her hands before she eats, don't get your feet dirty kind of girl. She doesn't like bugs and the boys clap for her when she touches one. Her one gross habit is that she still carries this large blanket around with her everywhere and sucks her thumb while she puts the corner of the blanket up her nose. We should wash it more than we do, but I also figure, most of the time almost everything on her is clean- what's wrong with a few boogers? Her favorites are Cinderella and well...Cinderella. She of course can name off every Disney princess there is and has glass slippers for all of them I think. She's big on who her "favorite" (person, that is) is and goes back and forth between Daddy, me, and a friend of her's, Nicole. Nicole always wins out for a long time after she has seen her. I think her biggest struggle is with her brothers tearing up her things and wrecking her room. She'd be mostly neat and tidy if they would leave her alone, but she's way to social to allow that.

Joseph (21 months) is quite the baby of the family right now. I hope he gets over it soon! He's very clingy and calls everyone Mama. I think he's a little more clingy because he's the first child of ours that hasn't been passed around to every person on campus every day since birth. When we lived in the Main House, we saw lots of people all the time and the children interacted with them whether they wanted to or not. He has lived most of his interactive infancy at our new home and while I love it, one negative aspect is that he doesn't like to make friends much. We're working on that since I just have an aversion to impoliteness under the excuse of shyness, but he's going to take a little longer I think because he doesn't have as many opportunities as the others did. He's happy though and except for an excema problem that he has regularly, he's a healthy little boy.

In other news:
I've managed to kill most of our fish. We're down from 11 to 4 now. I think I starved them to death in the process of trying to get our tank to be sparkly clean again. It's been green and now just a clear cloudy for months now and no amount of care, chemicals, etc. seems to fix the problem. I think I'm about ready to throw the baby out with the bath water on this one!

I had an awesome herb garden this year, thanks to Alouette Anderson for getting it all ready for plants last spring and I'm dreading the dying of the last herb, which I know is soon to come if it didn't happen today. I had better basil this year than I've ever grown and actually all of the plants did really well. The soil has been dormant for a while which probably helped and so I had all the parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, and chocolate mint I could ever want. Ahh..it was a cooks dream!

We also had a great garden. We were able to put quite a bit in the freezer and are enjoying some squash and sweet potatoes these days. I made lots of homemade catsup which to my delight, the children LOVE! We also canned some sweet pickle relish and froze stewwed corn...mmmm... Praise the Lord for a bountiful harvest. We actually had a pretty nasty blight of some fungus over almost the whole garden, but thankfully it didn't hurt the fruit so much as the leaves, so by the time it came we were able to still get most of the produce we would have gotten.

Now the leaves are almost all on the ground. There are some oak trees out there that are being quite stubborn with their crop and just won't let go, but almost all the maples have shed. The top of the mountain was snowy today and there was about 1/2 inch on the ground this morning when we got up. It made me smile. I love the snow. It makes me think of words like bright, cozy, warm drinks ( I almost wrote worm drinks- eww), and clean. Ok, the mud coming in today on people's boots wasn't so clean, but the snow makes the whole world out there look clean and fresh and new- like taking a bath or putting fresh white sheets on the bed. It makes me think that God can fix it all again to make it a true pleasure to him.

Well, now that I've run the risk of waxing eloquent I should stop. That's all for now. Hope you've enjoyed the narrative of Life in the Aldrich Army.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A little deep thought for the day

Thinking today of days gone by when one spoke to me and said, "Why Mary! You're half the woman you used to be!" And it made me happy. And I smiled.

Yet again I recall a time when I sang the low notes to put one on pitch and they snickered too much to be able to hit them themselves and yet were much more capable.

And running my fingers through thick brown locks of hair, secretly glad I was being allowed to cut it because it was such nice hair, hesitant to cut it because it was beautiful hair, and embarrassed that I had cut it because I discovered later I had "tummy bumped" him with my big belly many times through the process and he thought it was cute and funny.

A day that I was proud of myself for getting the many different pans of food on for lunch only to see one man go through and pick a hair out of every single one of them. I put all that I could into that meal.

Zeal, energy, poise, ballerina volleyball moves, and high pitched squeaks to scare me to tears. I miss him very much...all of him, especially the embarrassingly fun moments.

Here's to Andrew and God's incredible humor and fervency all rolled into one person. I look forward to more fun times with you again someday.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

Anyone else out there get really inspired every night to do something and then discover that I am firmly uninspired in the morning, only to find that at about 10am, when the chance it gone, I am reinspired again? Argh!

In a word...EXERCISE!!!!

I would love to exercise. I visualize myself waking up in the morning before the crack of dawn, pulling on my workout clothes, trotting to the laptop to start up my great P90 workout. I remember the feeling of awakeness it brings afterwards and the drop in appetite that comes, and the general energy that I have for the day after a good workout. I read my friend's note's about exercising and see that they are LOVING it, have lost weight, feel good, have more energy, and rave about it and WANT to join in SOOOO badly. I get excited, I get ready, I plan healthy food, I set the alarm, I find my equipment and set up my spot. I think- no more procrastinating, tomorrow morning I'm going to start.

Then the alarm goes off...and I think, "What was I thinking!!!! Go back to sleep!"

The End~

It's just that I HATE getting out of bed. It's akin to chinese water torture in my book. Ok, well, maybe not that bad, but I think that even though Brandon says "hate" is a really strong word, it applies here. I think some of it is due to the fact that I get up many times in the night for other reasons and so to voluntarily get up AGAIN before the day begins seems unreasonable.

I've tried the idea of exercising at other times of the day with very little success. In the evening, if I do, I have trouble going to sleep. Most of the morning is taken up with the kids and school. Then there is the afternoon, which gets filled with all sorts of things, but refuses to have a consistent routine and thus anything in that time period is sketchy for faithfulness.

So I'm left with the morning- that I can't seem to overcome. Most of the time I get up two-three times in the night for things like wet beds, can't find the blanket, had a bad dream, bathroom trips, etc. But isn't this just a lousy excuse? I mean, it's not like I say, "oh, I lost sleep so I'm not going to eat", or change diapers, or pick up the toys today. All those things get done, so why is it that exercise can't be the same?

Who knows, but right now it's evening again and I am on the inspired side. We'll see if it lasts until the clock strikes 6. Will the mouse run down? or will the mouse just roll over and play dead? Being in inspired mode, I'm inclined to say, "Of course I will get up! I WILL DO IT!".....we'll see....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cool Food and Cool Moments

This week we have very unexpectedly had two unusual meals for dinner. Both turned out ok, but neither one really conventional "dinner".

First was two nights ago. I was procrastinating about dinner and actually dozed off on the couch and while I was, Jonathon took his brothers to the stove with beans they had just removed from the pods and proceeded to cook them "for his dinner". These are green beans that grew in our garden that grew too big, so we left them on like seed beans and then picked them all. So we have a pile of these long white bean seeds that are just starting to dry.

Well, Jonathon had a little pot, James had a little pot, and Jeff had a little pot- all with beans and water in them on the stove cooking for dinner. Not only did they have their stuff in the works, but that left me with virtually no room to do anything else. So, I improvised. I did a little searching and came up with three bean dips that seemed slightly appetizing and told them they could each make one and then we could all try them to see what we liked best. I was happy with the results.

Jonathon chose a Cheese and Bean Pate. It included his beans, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, some herbs and seasonings and getting chilled in the freezer for a short time. We ate it with crackers. Yummy!

James got a Mint Bean Spread that had a little Middle Eastern flare to it with fresh mint (I LOVE MY HERB GARDEN!!!) tahini (sesame seed paste(yes I had this on hand...along with all the other weird ingredients I needed for these meals)), the beans, and some garlic and onions and such. It was much chunkier than Jonathon's and went well with veggies. It had a bolder flavor and while I thought it was good, it was not a fave of the kids.

Jeff got a Mexican bean dip that actually called for pinto beans, but we improvised. It had the usual tomato paste, cumin, onion, jack cheese, etc. that is in a mex. dish and was baked hot in the oven. Served with chips, this was a winner too.

Somehow with just these three dips and various dippers, we all ended up satisfied.

Oh, well, I had some unbaked cookie dough and some chopped up mini Crunch bars that I turned into a small dessert treat. And THEN everyone was happy.

Tonight, however was the kicker. I FORGOT to put my meat in the crock pot and so didn't get it in until about 3:30- (This = TOO LATE) Anyway, I was planning to have some Dijon beef with hot buttered noodles, fried eggplant crisps(from our garden) with mozzarella and oven dried cherry tomatoes (garden) and sauteed cabbage (garden) with apple pie for dessert (apples going bad in the fridge). I know this sounds really elaborate...it even sounds ridiculous to me- I didn't even have anyone coming over. But I was inspired by the eggplant -first ones we've gotten, and hadn't had cabbage in a while, and the meat and noodles were easy. Oh, and the pie, well, I cut apples while Brandon prepped lunch today, so that made that easy. (He's on vacation.) (And I use these little curvy line things a lot!) Anyway, the meat wasn't cooked and somehow I decided that since we didn't have any meat, then we didn't need noodles to put it on. So that left us with eggplant and cabbage for dinner. With apple pie to wash it down.

We consumed ALL the eggplant. Even Rachel liked them- except the tomato part, but the others even liked that. I think I had almost 50 fried slices. MMMmmmmm! in those cool Japanese bread crumbs too- Panko, it's called. With a little mozzarella and tomato on top, they were good. I added a little salt to mine, cause I knew I forgot to add it to the flour and they were perfect. The cabbage stood up well to the kids too! I cooked it in a combo of beef broth, butter, mustard, and s&p...and maybe something else...I can't remember- but it was good. Jonathon went back for seconds and just raved about how much he loved cabbage!

Then we had the pie for dessert. I had one granny smith and several gala apples, so a bit of a mix. And I forgot and only made one crust, so I did a crumb topping- but with regular sugar instead of brown because I had run out. Bottom line- it was devoured- AND I made two pies, so one is delightfully awaiting breakfast in the morning to be sided with some hot scrambled eggs and I think perhaps some grits. I have some fresh kiwi that needs to be consumed as well, so that might come out in the morning too.

After dinner, (I love my kids!) Jonathon poked out his belly and said, "Look how stuffed I am!" Jeff replied, "Yeah, now we need to do some work!" So we all spontaneously left the kitchen the disaster that it was and trooped outside to stack wood for about 10-15 minutes. We got a little chain going and stacked a bunch of wimpy wood and then the boys tried to find the biggest pieces they could. I had a couple of things land on my bare foot in the process, but even Joseph was trying to stack his little branches and all that cuteness made up for the mistakes.

Ah....it was a good time...Hooray for good food. Not necessarily what I would have planned on, or shopped for, but we ate what we had and it was fun too! Praise the Lord.

Amusing thought to leave you with:

Words Defined by James

Receipt: v. to get up and move to another chair

(Hahahaha!)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Top Things that Make me Happy

10. No more kidney stones...Hooray!
9. Three night stay in Florida with my brother Jeff, wife Fritha and new baby girl Dani! compliments of my wonderful husband for my birthday. It was awesome! (All by me lonesome!!!)
8. Eatting fresh tomatoes from the garden.
7. Listening to James and his silly comments...always.
6. Happy times with friends around a campfire...AND...my children didn't set anyone aflame!
5. New juice glasses for the kitchen.
4. New clothes via great sales.
3. Knowing God hears our prayers and cares about our needs.
2. Finding friends from long ago on Facebook.
1. Two successful days of homeschooling Jonathon and James and feeling like I might can get through this after all!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Kidney Stones are not for the faint at...well...anything

Caution: Some contents may be more medically detailed than the average reader would want to know. This is about my kidney stones and recent UTIs.

For those of you who have been blissfully ignorant of my status as of late, I'll let you in on a little secret. I've been in the hospital. Now normally I don't like going to such places, mostly because they poke and prod, and generally do more things to make you miserable, but desperate times call for desperate measures and this is where I found myself recently. Let me start at the beginning...

Over two months ago I got a urinary tract infection (UTI) for Memorial Day weekend. (That's the last time I accept gifts for such holidays!) It was the first time in my life I have ever had this problem! I spent a couple of weeks drinking gallons of water, cranberry juice, lots of Vitamin C, colodial silver, you know, the works, and finally gave up on home remedies and went to the doctor. I think this was about the end of the first week of June. They did a urine test and discovered I did have a UTI. E.coli, to be exact, and I also had lots of white blood cells and red blood cells (those are just from that time of the month they said) Great! I had recently been on a Candida diet to empty my gut of "bad" bacteria and load it with "good" bacteria and thus had gone to great lengths and much expense to eat lots of acidopholus ladden products and such. Now I had to be on antibiotics- death to all bacteria, good and bad! This did not make me happy, but the UTI needed to go away, so I took Cipro for 5 days. While I was on it the symptoms went away, but the day after I got off, they came back. Hmmm...back to the doctor I went and said, "This didn't work." They actually told me that I just had a new seperate UTI and that I must have gotten two in a row. "OOOOOOKAAAAAAY....(this means "I don't believe a word of it, but you are the medical professional and I am the ignorant stay at home mom with nothing better to do than take drugs all day and go to the doctor in my spare time.)" They put me on Cipro again. This time a double dose for three days. Same song, second verse. I felt better during the antibiotic, but a week after being on it, the symptoms came back. I was getting really tired of drinking gallons of water, having to go the bathroom all the time and having lots of pain also. back to the Doctor I went. Well, I didn't have anything growing from this specimen they took, but I did have red blood cells (probably just that time of the month thing, they said...uh...OOOOKAAAAY.) Next antibiotic- something called Macrobid. That I took for seven days felt better and then, guess what, a week later symptoms came back again. This time I was going to the doctor and telling them exactly what I thought.

The doctor canceled my appointment, would I like to see a nurse?

NO! I'll wait for the REAL doctor.

A week later, gallons of water, yucky feelings, I met with my doctor. Uh...this is still going on and I don't like it and I don't think it's just different UTI's. I think all this is related and I think there is something stuck in my "tube" that makes it so that urine can't come out. I can feel it like it's plugging things up. (I really said this.) I even gave a stupid word picture about a rubber ball in a funnel and how when you pour liquid in a funnel it makes the ball foat a little until the liquid gets to the bottom and then the ball gets stuck in the bottom of the funnel and kind of rubs on the sides as it gets stuck. I told them that's what I felt like. (Well the red blood cells are probably from "that time of the month"...) I told them (not as nicely as I could have) that I had not been having a cycle for the last two months straight, one of those tests at least had to have been not because of that and that maybe they could consider that the red blood cells were because something inside was being aggrivated (you know, like THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG!!!!) and not because I just bled all the time! The doctor said...well I can give you something for the pain if you want it. Why don't you go home and see if the symptoms just go away and if they don't we'll put you on a low dose antibiotic for three months! ARG!!! I was NOT happy!

Then my doctor went on vacation. On Tuesday I called the nurse to say I wanted the pain med cause my lower back around my kidneys was a little achy. That was at about 4:30pm. At 5pm I called her back to say nevermind, I was going to the ER it hurt so bad. They have a little pain scale they use, 1-10 with 1 being almost nothing and 10 being the worst you've ever had. By 6pm, the pain was about 11. I've been at 12 before and I was throwing up uncontrollably it hurt so bad, but this time I wasn't throwing up, so 11. In the ER, they gave me some pain meds after they missed my first IV stick and hit the second one. I now know what it feels like for someone to "dig" to find the vein. I made them stop. I cried.

I hate needles, I've always hated them. People say, "Well, I don't know anyone who really likes them." and this is true, but I have always had a really hard time with pokey things. I passed out when I got my ears pierced. I've passed out twice from shots. I passed out when I slammed my thumb in the car door. Ok, that wasn't getting poked, but it was equally painful. I lay down to have any blood work done, I don't donate (sorry) and I get every nurse who's ever stuck me nervous that I'm going to jerk, tense up, jump up and hide in a cabinet, or scream and startle them. I don't do all that, I just cry. Somehow they always want me to "breathe" and they always tell me over and over that they are done and I can stop crying. Ugh! They just don't understand. If they would only just stick me and leave me alone for a minute I would be fine. But no, they have to pester me and then I'm stuck and mad at them to boot. SO all that is to say, that me a needles don't get along.

At least the nurse who stuck me for the second one had a good sense of humor. He said his job was like his Anger Management Therapy. Haha. I laughed. So, pain meds. Got some. Ahhh... Then I had an x-ray, (which by the way I forgot to say I had one on Monday where they didn't see anything wrong with me.) and the doctor said I had a kidney stone in my ureter and to go home with a good dose of pain meds and drink lots of water and walk around to try and pass it.

Late that Night I went home. I slept fitfully off an on, in pain, and drugged up on a narcotic, Dilaudid. I drank water until I though my eyes would swim and noticed that as much as I was drinking, less than half was coming out, I called the nurse and they said it was probably no big deal, but to keep pushing those fluids. yuck. I was feeling so bloated. I gained 3 pounds those 2 days! I wasn't hungry much, but the water was filling me up. Finally, Wednesday night I realized that I was on my maximum dose of pain killers and the pain was still up around a 6-7 (remember that pain scale?) and seemed to be going up. So, I went back to the ER. The first night I was in extreme pain and had to wait in the waiting room for, I think, about an hour. This night I wasn't in as much pain, but I learned the trick to being seen quickly. I threw up at the triage desk. I was just so sick to my stomach from all that water and the pain meds and the car ride there. It was aweful. They actually were trying to ask me questions as I was vomitting into a bag and the first chance I could say anything I told them to let me lay down and that I could talk to them then. New vomit bag. Wheel chair. Private room. Bed. Ahhh... If you ever want to get back there quickly just throw up at their desk. I didn't do it on purpose of course.

So, more pain meds and...you need a CT scan, but you can't have one until in the morning, so rest easy- in the ER- for the whole night. They moved me to a different bed, an observation unit, where you have to be able to "take care of yourself" to be there. Why am I in the hospital????? Ok, I survived.

The next morning, before I was awake almost, I was wheeled into the CT Scan. Did you know that a CT scan is about the same as having 100 x-rays in radiation? Yuck! Scary! I had to not be pregnant for this procedure, which they confirmed, so you can all know that little detail too. It wasn't really that bad. I've never had one before, but it's just a matter of holding your breath at certain times and not at other times and being still. Later, the doctor came to talk to me.

I have not one, but two "of the largest kidney stones in the world" he says. I later heard from my husband that actually, the largest one was about the size of a man's fist. Ok, technicalities, but mine were 1 cm and 8 mm (only slightly smaller) for those of you without a metric ruler at your fingertips, think, small marble. Apparently people can only pass 5mm stones or less naturally. Anything larger must me removed differently. Ugh! Oh, and it was also completely blocking my right ureter. That's the tube that takes the urine from the kidney to the bladder. I needed surgery they said. I needed a urologist, they said. The urologist wouldn't be available until afterhours they said. How about waiting here in the ER until then, they said. OOOOOOKAAAAY. On drugs, of course.

The urologist arrived to do my surgery at 7pm. Of course, this wasn't fix it surgery, this was just put a stent in surgery. The stone needed a procedure called lithotripsy and the machine to do that only "comes to the area" every other wednesday. (This was Thursday of course, but thankfully the one just before the right Wednesday.) So, I went under general anethesia while they used the available access point to insert dye, scope, wire, a stent (flexible tube to drain the kidney to the bladder in the ureter) that was too small, then a different stent (28 in. long). The doctor later said that my kidney was so infected (huh!?!) from being completely blocked (huh!?!)that it was actually starting to abcess (huh!?!) and that was probably why I was having UTIs (HUH!?!) and that if the problem had continued for another week or two, I could have very well lost my entire kidney! (HUH!!!!) The words, "I told you so" come to mind. Oh well...

So, stent in. Go home Friday afternoon. I should feel back to my normal self soon, and just keep drinking lots of fluids until Wed. when we can blast those stones.

Friday to Wednesday, I did NOT feel like my normal self. I was miserable. I was in pain, things ached from the surgery, the stent made me bleed so I was told to "take it easy", and I found myself in bed the entire time with a few exceptions of coming downstairs to get a bite to eat or something. So, that made uh, 8 days in bed so far.

Wednesday morning I went in to the hospital in Peterborough, where the machine was and discovered to my disappointment that it wasn't a laser lithotripsy, it was just the regular lithotripsy. The difference is that the regular one is less invasive, all external and sort of "pulses" on your back in a certain location to send waves to break up the stones. It's not as effective and especially not as effective for stones in the ureter. I also have to wait for the particles to pass "naturally" which means leaving the stent in for another week at least. The laser one did involve going internally, but it has an almost 100% success rate for breaking up stones. The doctor sends a "basket"up to collect the particles and since all of them get out then, the stent comes out too. That wasn't the one I had.

I had the punch in the kidneys version, so my back is sore from the one sided boxing match I was in. The kids like for me to describe it as having my "rocks blasted to smitherinies". They find the violent description much more entertaining. Rachel is making a valiant effort at sympathy pains as she told me the other day she had a "rock" in her foot.

Now, I'm waiting to pass the "gravel". They say the things fragmented, but so far I've only had a few small particles Thursday and then nothing since. I'm still drinking gallons of water and if it wasn't going in one end and out the other I could probably float a small ship in the amount of water I've had in the last 2 months. I have an appointment for a followup xray this coming Wednesday and then they decide if I need to be blasted again the next week, or I've passed enough and can have the stent out right away. You can be praying for the latter one. Until then I'm still mostly in bed. The more I move around, the more I bleed and as they said they don't want blood clots in my kidney, I'm to try and keep the bleeding to a minimum. That means lots of in bed time, being still. Today I actually feel good. It's the second day I've been off pain killers and so I think to some extent it make the whole bed thing even more difficult. I think there's a long ways to go before this is over, but I do feel validated in a way that all my harping on things was for a good reason and not just something I made up.

It certainly has been an adventuresome two weeks. Oh, Brandon's computer got a virus at the same time and it hasn't worked since, our phone line shut down one day too. but my sisters are here helping out. The Jane and Amy versions and they are what's making our home survive right now. Brandon is almost back up with his computer and the girls are making it possible for him to get some work done, spend some time with the kids, and still have emotional energy for me, too. He seems to be doing ok also. When the girls leave we'll have to come up with something different, but God has provided for us so far and I am trusting him to do it tomorrow and the next day too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Crazy Kid Stuff

Ok, this week we had a run on crazy things.

- Rachel pronouced "bulldozer" incorrectly in the grocery store the other day.
"Mama, I want a 'budweiser'." I wish I was the only one who heard.
- James asked to be put to bed this evening, he said he was tired!!!
- We climbed the mountain today- all of us. I have pics of our feet on top together...I think.
-The boys set up a campfire and played with matches outside on Tuesday. Yikes.
- They also stole hot chocolate powder and ate it from the can.
- They also got sand from our sand box, mixed it with water and took a "mud bath". Literally. I saw them "washing" their hair. Baths all around that day.
- I told Rachel she was a "big girl". Also in the grocery store, she replied loudly, "And you a BIG MAMA!" Ugh!
- Six words I hate to hear: Mama, please clean off my hand. I'll let you figure out why.
- Two things I dislike about little boys: peeing on the toilet, and stepping on my feet all the time.
- One thing I love about Joseph: he learned to say "Bye-bye".
- Jonathon prayed for his parents to have enough money to visit the "fishing Grandpa" this summer. We'll see.
- James tried to make his bath a bubble bath and used all the shampoo in Brandon's bottle and 3/4 of mine.
- Jeff likes to unload the dishwasher. Hooray!
- James played some sort of slay the dragon scene out in slow motion in the backyard yesterday...wish I had a video of that.
-The older boys are learning to like guacamole...too bad, now I have to share.
- Latest irritating argument: "I am me. You are you."
"No, I am me. You are you."
"No, you are not me. You are you. I am me."
"NO, I AM NOT YOU! I AM ME. YOU ARE YOU!"
Ok, so this went on for a very long time. Jeff and Rachel's favorite pasttime lately.

Did you know that Blueberry Oatmeal will not stain the cabinet even if you leave it on there for a week?
Did you know that if you forget that your children's toothbrushes are in the bag from when you camped on Memorial Day weekend and thus have not brushed a single time, you will not be struck dead?
Did you know that condiment cups from the kitchen make good sand castle molds? So do Mama's ski gloves apparently. And legos make good buried treasure in the sand box, but you must bury ALL of them.
Did you know that if you should leave coathangers in the flower bed in case some pirate needs an extra hook sometime for his swashbuckling adventure?
How about that tricycles are much more fun to ride with out the handlebars attached?
Or that the only way to get into bed is to jump from the top of the chest of drawers? naturally.
And I discovered that my 7 year old knows how to make my coffee and which vitamins I take in the morning as he has dosed them out a couple of times.

Frog eggs don't hatch if you pester them too much.
Corn will grow even if you only plant 4 seeds in one place together.
Carrots will grow even if you walk across the entire row. Twice.
Joseph eats rocks.
Laundry never ends.
My lights come on by themselves in the middle of the night somehow.
My shoes seem to migrate to Rachel's room these days by themselves.
James always has stuff in his pockets, but no one sees him put stuff in there!

And the best place to be alone is the shower.

I'm loving life, my children, and the craziness of things right now, but I'm sure glad it's a season of life and not a permanent status!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camping with the Kiddos Part 2

Warning: Very long and contains some content that involves gross amounts of bodily fluids.

So yes, Saturday morning we awoke around 5:45am. The kids were excited to be in the tent and out in the woods and after 20 minutes of attempting to keep them inside and quiet, I finally gave up on one effort and let them out. Quiet was a requirement of the camp until 8am- practically torture for our family, but we managed as well as we could. Due to our hasty set up the night before we had not really prepared a spot to cook so after looking around and taking in the scene I decided on a good spot- right behind the van. Our tent was completely surrounded on all sides. On the river side we had a tent about 3 feet in front of us. On the back and tent about 1 foot away, to the left was a pop up camper about 5 feet away with a very loud sleeper in the bunk and to the right was one other tent about 8 feet away. So it didn’t really work to cook near our “spot”. Behind the van worked for that morning because it was away from all the sleeping people, it was quiet and there was a good deal of grass to lay out a kitchen of sorts and prepare things in a way that the kids could assist a little with.

Breakfast was bacon, eggs, and cormeal and the kids had a grand time eating out of their own little mess kits. I spent a while trying to cook over a stove without sufficient fuel in the little tank and finally gave in and turned everything off and refilled it. Once I did that things went wonderfully quick and I was able to enjoy a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, cornmeal and a nice cup of hot coffee. Then the boys pulled out their bikes and trikes and rode around while Rachel and I washed up the dishes. She thought that was great fun because she had her own little dish pan and scrubber and did a marveous job of rinsing and drying. By the time the whole process was over it was after 9am and everyone- or most everyone was awake.

We spent most of Saturday around the camp. The boys and Rachel biked around, canoed a bit with the Reeds on the river right next to the campground, played at the playground- a marvelous spot complete with a sandbox- and generally got aquainted with our surroundings. There was also a little kid’s clothing consignment shop in the office of the campground and Ellen and I poked around in there a bit while Dan watched the kids. None drowned.

One of the more interesting events of the day was Jeff and his efforts to get comfortable with the bathroom facilities. We went early in the day to the communal bath house into the ladies room, but he was frightened by the fact that the lighting wasn’t working properly and to make matters worse, as soon as he sat down, someone in the stall next to us flushed the commode and he really freaked out. So that wound that bathroom trip up and there was nothing I could do to get him to go at that point. Later in the morning I found that when he couldn’t hold it any longer, he left it as a gift in front of our tent. Not one, but four locations for me to “take care of”, so I did. I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but it was gross and I took care of it as cleanly as possible including removing all the grass in said locations.

I later saw him fertilizing a tree, much to my horror, right next to the area where everyone gathered for the main meals and thus where the majority of the people were. Fortunately most people thought it was funny and natural and gave a good laugh or just ignored him. The last episode of this nature came late in the day (In my defense, we did regularly attempt to get more aquainted with the proper bathroom facilities during the day.) when Jonathon came up to me with a really excited, “Mama! I think there are some deer around because I think I found some deer poop!” I went with him to the van and there next to the back right wheel was his scientific proof of deer in our camp. I disappointed him by explaining that it wasn’t deer, it was just Jeff and thankfully that was the last of that. Ahh…camping brings out the best in some people.

James seemed to entertain a number of adults around the campfire with stories, shocking comments, intense expressions, and jokes that only James can come up with.

Rachel was happy just sort of flitting around like a butterfly from one thing to another just taking it all in.

Jonathon had a great time riding his bike like the “big kids” and doing manly things like hunting snails and worms and poking the fire.

Jeff…well we know what he was doing. But aside from that he had a good time too.

We had a group dinner of taco salad- all 80 something of us. Since I was a last minute person I didn’t have an assigned dish to bring so I brought homemade guacamole and much to my delight I had the only offering of the dish. Thanks to Franks help the recipe was a smashing success and I had people come up and rave about it later. It’s been a fun thing lately to make, partly because I discovered this past year sometime that I actually like the stuff when I make it instead of buy it and it’s one of the things that is ok on the wacky diet we’ve been on lately. (We won’t go into that right now.) Anyway, it was a hit and I was glad. I always hate being the one that comes to a covered dish dinner or a potluck and has nothing to contribute, so I was relieved to find I was contributing successfully.

After dinner was over I pretty much just made the kids go up to the bath house and clean up and put jammies on and go to the tent. They were so exhasusted from the late night before and the rising early that morning that by the time 8pm rolled around they were very happy to go to bed. It was also chilly that night (got into the mid 30’s) and so they were happy to climb into their sleeping bags and snuggle deep. We read a couple of books- Andy and the Lion, and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and then off to dream land they went.

In fact, they went so deep to dream land they did all sorts of crazy things in the night. First, I snuck out to go take a shower around 10pm and while I was gone one of them- I’m pretty sure it was Jeff- got up to go to the bathroom, only he couldn’t find it in the tent (obviously) so he just stood in the middle and let loose all over the top of his sleeping bag and pillow, Jonathon’s bag and pillow (with Jonathon on it), and the edge of my sleeping bag. Then he got back into his bag and was fast asleep when I returned to find the mess. I cleaned up as best I could with some extra towels and then turned in for the night. I slept for a while before James awoke me that he had wet his bed. My first thought was, “I can’t change the sheets!” Thankfully, more towels helped with that situation and as it was more his clothes than anything, those were easily changed. Then, without going into much detail, only to say it involved child no.1, an empty bottle, poor aim, and results of a Mama’s wet sleeve, I had accident no.3 on my hands. After that was cleaned up, the restof the night was quite peaceful and the kids actually slept until after 7:30am, with James sleeping until 9am. In the morning, Jeff had wet his bag again and everything came out of the tent to air out and get some good sunshine. It stayed out all day and by the end of the day I really couldn’t smell any sketchiness when I put the bags back in the tent (thankfully).

Sunday we had a better meal operation and had rearranged the vehicles so that my van was backed up to a picnic table near the fire and another picnic table was next to it, so the Reeds and I sort of ate together. I’m not sure how it was for them, but it was a great help to me. For one, Dan washed the dishes for the rest of the trip and I had help with the kids. I know I had a few things, like spoons, that their family forgot, but I think I got the better end of the deal in the end.

Sunday morning we had oatmeal for breakfast and consumed every last bite. Then after breakfast we had a church service, which I spent mostly finding kids and taking Jeff to the bathroom. But what little I did catch was good. There were a number of topics covered after testimonies from various people, but the main point I came away with was how God uses our weaknesses instead of our strengths many times to accomplish his purposes. We had a little time of prayer and were encouraged when after praying for a family’s dog to be found, she was located about 2 miles away.

After the service, our family and the Reeds prepared for a canoe venture down the river and so Ellen and I packed lunch and got stuff ready while Dan figured out where we were going and how far to go. We went about 20 miles north and canoed for about 5 miles what was supposedly water with a bit more current than what was next to the camp, but the water level was different than normal and thus it was actually pretty flat as well. That being said, we had a good time- well, I had a great time because Ellen and I ended up in a canoe all to ourselves and talked all the world’s problems away while the kids floated down stream. No one went overboard and Jonathon, though he tried to tip Philip and Jayne over (accidentally), managed to just add water to the boat and leave them upright and a little wet.

When we got out of the river, Jayne and Dan decided to attempt canoeing all the way back to the campground, so Ellen and I drove the vans back with the kids and the trailer of canoes. All was well until we decided to stop for ice cream and found ourselves attempting to back up and turn that canoe trailer around. After several tries we finally did it, though not especially gracefully and ice cream was enjoyed by all. James and Jeff wore most of theirs on their face, but they looked happy nonetheless.

So back at camp we had hotdogs for dinner and then the kids ran around and played late into the evening. I had a great time sitting around the fire chatting with a lady named Maureen about healthy eating, exercise, and how it all fits in with the spiritual aspects of Jesus wanting first place in our lives. She was quite an inspiration- a testimony of loosing quite a bit of weight, and encouragement- of some Bible studies that might be helpful, and generally a friendly conversationist. What an encouragement towards self control, allowing Jesus to work, and renewed enthusiasm for working on weight loss.

While I talked to her, James had a chat with a man named Eric sitting next to me. His conversation was about blood, but I’m sorry to tell you there was nothing spiritual about it. James had his flashlight and was fascinated by the fact that his fingers glowed red when he placed the light under them. Eric explained that what he was seeing was the blood in his fingers and that was just too good to be true for James.
“BLOOD!!!”
So from there, James had to see how many other things he could see blood in and after examining his own (boring) body parts, he subjected Eric to the same experiment.
“Does your hand have blood in it?” and then would try it, with Eric’s consent and enthusiasm all the way. He proceeded to fingers, ear lobes, nose, chin, and then got a naughty curious look in his eye and said, “Hey! Does your belly have blood in it?”
To which Eric replied, “Well, let’s see.” And without missing a beat he whipped up his shirt for James to poke his flashlight on his tummy to see if it glowed red. Sure enough it did and Eric’s wife, sitting next to him was heard to say, “No way is he checking my tummy for blood!” So James stole the show, for by this time many of the people around were listening in on this little dialogue between the adult and 5 year old about blood.

Jonathon at this point was running around having the time of his life playing flashlight tag with the teenagers and his brand new headlight he got for his birthday. Rachel and Jeff just remained content to sit in my lamp and stare at the fire.

They went to bed after a long evening sometime after 10pm and slept until after 8am the next morning. It was glorious. The temps that night were around mid 40’s so it was perfect sleeping weather again, no rain and no nasty bed wetting scenes. Monday we lazed around, packed up and ate lunch and then headed home without much excitement other than getting in some last minute visiting with new friends and feeling success over the fact that Jeff was happy to get to the bathroom before going by the end of the weekend.

Oh we had such a grand time. We tented, we told stories, we canoed, we roasted marshmellows, we cooked we played hard, we built fires and burnt long sticks and fat logs, and sat around and laughed and smelled like smoke and listened to crickets…and snoring (hehe) and played with flashlights and saw stars and snuggled and smiled a lot. It was a grand time and even though we had some crazy moments, overall it was a WONDEFUL weekend and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

It did of course take me all week at home to recover, but it was worth it! Camping is glorious fun and you should all go out right away and try it. Of course the trick is to decide your going to like it, enjoy it, and have fun no matter what comes your way, then it’s trully grand. But then isn’t much of life like that?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Camping with the Kiddos Part 1

To begin my life at the beginning of my life, I was born…crazy. Then I had parents that were crazy, too. That explains a lot of things. So when you read some of this and ask, “WHY????” I will refer you to the first line of this post.

*Ahem*…So, I heard about this shindig that the Reeds had been invited to a few weeks ago. I had very little interest in going, partly because I didn’t think they were going and partly because I was high on trying to figure out a backpacking trip to the Catskills for our family and I didn’t want to “waste” the one trip Brandon would take on a “mere” car camping trip. (I will pause here to explain that “car” camping just refers to the idea that you take all of your gear in your car directly to the site you are to camp at and stay there. It involves no hiking, backpacking or canoeing, etc. to get to your camping location. Some of our dear friends refer to this activity with scorn in their voices and call it “cramping”.) Later I found out that the Reeds were in fact going and that it sounded like it could be a lot of fun. First of all, a couple that they know were throwing this camping get together and had just invited a bunch of people they knew, so it wasn’t as though the Reeds knew everyone, but there were about 80 people planning to attend.

I think suddenly this was exciting to me because it was a chance to get to know some new people and step outside of Fairwood life for a bit. Now, I love Fairwood and love being here, but I do wish sometimes that I got out a bit more than I do. So this was my chance and being the plan ahead, organized person that I am, I decided Friday at lunch time that I would go camping for the weekend and needed to be ready to leave by 4pm. Well, I didn’t quite make it and the good news was that the Reeds weren’t ready then either so, I had some wiggle room. As far as Brandon staying, he had just traveled the weekend before, doesn’t really relax by camping with little children, and absoutely doesn’t relax by meeting new people and being in an extremely social environment for 72 hours straight. So he stayed at home with Joseph and I was more than happy to go it alone with the 4 older kids. They were so excited and I knew that if I could just get there, I would have plently of wonderful people around to help me and make the weekend pleasant for all of us.

So, I packed and planned while the kids watched a movie…or two and was ready to go when the Reeds wanted to leave. We stoped at the grocery store for a few last minute items (the dinners were a combined effort for the entire group and we needed to contribute some things) and then we were off by 7:30. We arrived in Orford, NH, aside the Conn. River around 9:30pm. Just in time to pitch our tent, say hello in the dark and head to bed. The kids immediately had to go to the bathroom and I made the first mistake of the weekend and let them go on the far side of the van because they couldn’t hold it long enough to make it to the bath house. This was a bad habit to begin for the weekend I later discovered.

Our family had one tent for the five of us and we all had plenty of sleeping space. That tent has been through some great times in our family starting with our honeymoon which was a camping trip. Anyway, the three boys had one end and Rachel and I took the other end with a little walking space in between. We all had Therm-a-Rests to sleep on, so it was as comfortable as it could get for camping. The temperature than night was in the mid 40’s and that made it perfect for sleeping. A good snuggling down temp, not to cold to stay awake, but not so hot that you don’t want to be in your sleeping bag. The kids slept like rocks and I stayed awake most of the night. (The first half I was praying because Jeff and Fritha were at the hospital with Fritha in labor expecting my new little niece, Dani. The second half I couldn’t sleep because Jeff called, said she had been born and I was too excited to sleep after that.)

The children rose at 5:45am and were actually not the first ones up! But they were raring to go, so go we did.


To be continued…

Now I’m going to sleep in hopes that I can finish this saga tomorrow.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Quick! Quick! Before it gets Away!

Ok, here's the scoop. I took the kids camping last weekend. That would be me (Mary) took Jonathon, James, Jeff, and Rachel camping for three nights while Brandon stayed home with baby Joseph. We actually chose these particular roles, no one forced us. I WANTED to go and he WANTED to stay, so it worked out, but it does seem like a bit of a role reversal. Anyway, we went with the Reed family up to the little town of Orford, NH. It's on the Conn. River and is around 2 1/2 hours away. The Reeds were going because some friends of theirs were having a big camp thing (83 people) and we just sort of tagged along (with permission). Anyway, there are loads of stories from the trip and I hope to share some before I forget them all, but alas, I can't right now because I should be in bed sleeping. Sigh...maybe tomorrow. Great time was had by all though.

Oh, and lest I not remember in time, tomorrow, May 30th is my brother -in-law's birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRYAN! and more importantly (if I may be so bold), it is my daughter, Rachel's birthday!

Rachel is 3!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHEL! I love you. Even when you decide to pour an entire quart of maple syrup all over you and your room and the track it through the house and get your brothers to help like you did today, I still will say...I LOVE YOU!

Ok, Happy Friday to all.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Jonathon

It's hard to believe that I have a 7 year old, but yes. It has happened. Jonathon turned 7 today and I found myseld recounting the memories of his time as a baby amidst the groanings and laughings of the other children.

Some of the memories were:

When he had his first bath, he looked more like an alien than a person, cone head, long fingers and toes, skinny body, bug eyes...humorous.

When he was an infant he was so small that we bathed him in the bathroom sink! He was the smallest of all- at 6lbs. 12 oz.

He was my longest labor- 29 1/2 hours and that started with a 3 hour shopping trip at Sears.

When he was sad I could lay him on the bed and just turn on the vacuum cleaner to keep him quiet.

He also loved listening to the Messiah.

He is my most inquisitive, yet most tempered like me.

I love him very much! Happy Birthday to a wonderful son.

And on a different note...did you know that James can carry rocks that weigh 5 lbs. in his pocket? Just one 5 pounder. There were other things in his other pocket. It does make him have to hold his pants up when he runs or jumps on the trampoline though. It was a special "sparkly" rock though that was precious enough to become part of the "junk drawer" in his bedroom. (I can't wait for the day we clean that out!)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

By Popular Demand

Ok, so for all of you who have been waiting patiently (some not so patiently) for pics of the house in a more finished state, here they are in all their glory. I will give a disclaimer that yes, there is "stuff" around, I did not clean up the house for these shots and the bedroom shots were taken after dark, with the children sleeping (or not) in their beds, so they aren't the best, but they'll have to do or you'll never get any. Also, the other disclaimer is that while it looks much better, we still have a LONG ways to go to finish the bits and pieces, but I won't bore you with the details. I'm so thankful for how much has gone on and how gorgeous it has turned out. Many thanks to Joe and Alouette for slaving away here!
With out more yapping:

The Master Bedroom


The Master Bathroom


The Hall Bathroom

The Upstairs Hall

Rachel's Room (with Rachel asleep)

Jeff and Joseph's room (with Jeff not asleep)

Jonathon and James' room (with both of them asleep...and buried in covers)

The Living Room (painted this past week)

note the new bow window!

The Kitchen

complete with cabinet doors and stuff behind them!

The Dining Room

recently painted, and still in progress also

Other areas not yet disclosed due to work still going on: school room, laundry, half bathroom, garage, basement, my heart...ok you get the idea. Here they are and hope you enjoyed it. Now I'm off to plan Sunday School.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Quick Prayer

Today we discovered- after the snow had melted away- a dead animal carcass in our back yard. There are several speculations as to what it is with the highest votes cast to either dog or coyote. It's very disgusting and very skeletal in it's remains, save the intestinal fat still on it. Like I said, really gross. I'm not sure what we do with it. Bury it? Move it deeper into the woods? Call someone to get it? Anyway, we were letting the Bible School guys have a look at it this evening and Jonathon came and saw it too. He was pretty startled by it's ugliness. Later at bedtime after he was in THE bed and lights were out and prayers were said, he came downstairs.

"Mama, I am just so scared in my room. I just am so scared that there is an animal like that dead one in my room that I can't sleep. You shouldn't have let me see it."

So we had a little discussion about how the devil is the author of fear and how Jesus doesn't want us to be scared and we can pray and as Jesus to make the devil go away and we don't have to be scared any more. After talking, Jonathon prayed a long prayer, but part of it went like this:

"...and I resist the devil. You know, You're the only one who kicked Satan out of Heaven and you can just kick him out of New Hampshire too. And kick him out of our home. Please just kick him out of here...."

I thought it was a great example of how we can just count on God to do what he says and then believe He will do it.

After he prayed we talked about how if he was tempted to be scared, then he needed to think about Jesus or sing Jesus Loves Me in his head or something to help him forget about being afraid. He said ok, went back to bed, and is sleeping quite peacefully.

Hmmm...A little bit goes a long way with God!

PS. I wonder...if God really did kick him out of all of New Hampshire, what state he's in now?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Feeling at home

Things are coming together...and I'm feeling more like I live in a home rather than a construction zone. Here's a little treat of what I've been staring at today:

Saturday, March 08, 2008

3 Nights to Go

Well, here I am, about 2 weeks late, making good on my promise to post some more pictures on my blog of the house progress. I'm not sure how many pics I can put on here, but we'll see how it goes.
The first picture is of the outside of the house. We have quite a wood pile in front. This is not as much to look like a dump as it is because there is so much snow on the ground that we can't get to the burm pile right now. Hopefully as it warms up this pile will disappear.
This is a picture of Brandon's office. Originally we planned to do very litte in here, but as we continued to think about it realized that we really should pull up the thread bare carpet now and put some more down BEFORE we put his heavy desk and several big filing cabinets on it. It was quite a process to get the carpet up. It is cement underneath and was well adhered. Thankfully, I didn't have to do it all by myself. After 2 afternoons I had gotten up half of it, but Philip Reed came along and did the other half in about 2 hours! (I bet he had the easy side!) Just kidding. Anyway, we are hoping to install the new carpet tonight.
Another place we weren't planning to do very much was the area of hallway where the laundry was. As we got up the old flooring though we noticed some mildew around the sheetrock and so pulled it out. I wasn't thrilled to take more out, but there was lots of mold and mildew that we got rid of in the process and I'm glad I won't be living with that. So, in this spot we're eventually going to clean up the wall, put in a counter top and replace the floor for a nice place to sort and fold laundry. Our new laundry shoot comes into this area as well.
Ok, I know some of these pictures are hard to understand, but I'll try. For those of you who have been in the house before, this is the new wall that we put in between the kitchen and the "school room". On the left used to be some stairs and then there was a railing on the right that went around a little eating nook in the kitchen. Now it's a wall in the kitchen with a window to see from one room to the other.This is a picture of the kitchen taken from the living room. You can see our new beam and posts and the new sheetrock on the far side. Also there used to be a door to the right of the windows in the center of the picture. We walled up the door to the backyard and opened up the wall to the living room. The overall effect is that it feels lots more spacious and it really is going to give the kitchen a great flow instead of being sort of an intersection or thoroughfare as it was. We eliminated to entry points to the kitchen in favor of having more continuous countertop, a feature that was lacking in the original design. Joe has done a marvelous job getting things built right and Allouette has been the mastermind behind making sure it looks good.This is the view from the kitchen window. I suppose it's hard to see the pretty tree in the foreground, but it has little red berries on it. The other day while we were working, we all had the pleasure of seeing an opposum in the top of the tree helping himself to some of those berries. I think it's one of the few times I have seen one in a live and rounded state. Most of the time I have seen them as flat roadkill.

I bet I can't have a post without a pic of the pink room. Megan Adams painted some butterflies on the walls for Rachel and I'm thrilled with the results. It will go very well with Rachel's bedding and it's nice to have a could of little fun details done to keep the project inspiring and fun.

Here's a never before seen room. This is Jonathon's room. We moved walls in this room to extend the bathroom and then took some of the hall for the bedroom to compensate for what the bathroom took away. Neither wall is in this picture, but you can get an idea of the colors. The walls are colored "Raw Hide" and the ceiling is blue like the other room. I saw an idea for a room this color in a Pottery Barn catalog that I really liked and most importantly, the boys like it. I'm planning to have a navy and white bedding and they have light wood furniture, so it should look very boyish when it's done.

This next picture is a preview of the hall bathroom. We extended the east wall (right side) out into the boy's room by 1 foot and extended the south wall (with the door) 2 feet. That gave us 16 square feet more space in this bathroom for 5 kids and we also were able to make the doorway wider, from 21 inches wide to 30 inches wide. The countertop for the sinks went from a 4 ft. counter with two sinks to a 6 foot counter with sinks and from 18 inches deep to about 23 inches deep. Joe has crafted the cabinets and so the drawers are big, the cabinet spacious and then a specially designed laundry chute under one sink that drops to the launry area below. Allouette just put the grout in around the tile yesterday and the toilet and sink should go in this week. The tub is already in and functional.


This is the master bathroom and another example of Allouette's excellent tile work. She's done the wall tile and the floor tile in here as well, though the grout isn't in yet. It is beautiful! We are closing in on this bathroom as well. We took out a closet behind the bathtub to make this bathroom a lot bigger also. We also raised the shower head from 62 inches to 80 inches. Brandon really appreciates that and the floor which has been soft and rotten in places for several years has been completely replaced. Here's a another pic of the master bedroom. The doorway on the left is the new doorway into the room. It used to be where the second door is now. That area was just hallway that we made into a small walk-in closet. This was especially helpful since we took the closet away for the bathroom enlargement. The third doorway is the bathroom door and is several inches wider, which once again is a great improvement to the 23 inch opening that was there. So overall things are more open, spacious feeling and comfortable. I am so thankful for God's provision to make these changes and for the opportunity to fix the broken and moldy areas.

Finally, a new fun recipe that I made recently thanks to some beef from the Reed's cows: Beef Tenderloin and vegetables on Monterey Jack Cheese Polenta with Arbol Chili Sauce. It was so delicious! Cheese polenta- alot like leftover cornmeal cereal fried, only made with chicken stock and parmesan cheese and then with melted jack cheese on top. The vegetables are yellow squash, zucchini, and red peppers cut into strips and sauted. The chili sauce was super complicated, but was absolutely delicious and I won't bother telling you all how involved it was unless someone is really interested, but I will say it involved making a special broth from scratch to use in a special sauce that is also made from scratch that is then one of many ingredients in the chili sauce. A spicy, deep flavor that went well with the mild flavor of the veggies and polenta. It was yum. And of course, you can't forget moist, marinated, grilled, beef tenderloin medallions! Hope I've managed to make your mouth water.

Ok that's all for the day. Oh and of course, the title...We'll be moving, ready or not, on Tuesday. So you can be praying for us and the children, who, I think have been catching the brunt of this stressful living lately and will be glad when things settle back into a managable routine again.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh the Irony of it All

So here I am, Friday evening, the Sabbath. I've worked hard all week. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, I've been busier than I had ever imagined I was capable of. I know my children feel it and I feel it, but we must perservere to the end, or at least the middle. Anyway, the point is, that things have been busy. I've been making meals, tending children, trying my best to keep a clean house, school has pretty much flown out the window with hopes of appearing again later in the year, and then there is the house. That's where I've been in every inbetween time I can come up with and some not so inbetween. I have no idea how many hours I've put in up there, but it would definately be equivalent to a part time, maybe almost a full time job on top of the stay at home mom thing. I'm not complaining here, this is where we are and though it's stressful, it's what has to happen. All I'm trying to point out is that this morning when I woke up, my head didn't want to. I spent about the first 5 hours of the day trying to make my eyes feel like I was actually awake. They had that feeling like I hadn't slept for 48 hours, or the feeling you get after you've just sobbed your heart out and fallen asleep and then you wake up to swollen, puffy eyes. Well, I had slept and I did not cry all night. In fact, I don't remember crying at all, but I did spend the morning with puffy eyes and yawning every 30 seconds or so. Somewhere in there I had some coffee, but it was well before 10am and that helped. I spent a while trying to get ready for a clean all day before Sabbath day, but couldn't get thoughts of paint colors out of my head. So, up to the house I trudged to ask Allouette, my on-sight decorator consultant for help figuring out where to stop one color and start another. (I had no idea all the little decisions I needed to make, but that's another story.) I did that, then made lunch, and after lunch discovered that Joseph was sick. Some fever of some sort. I'm not sure what has been going on with him lately, but he seems to have gotten sick several times lately when no one else in the family does. Not sure what to think. Anyway, that shot my plans of vigorous activity for the afternoon and I spent most of the time doing research online for things like ceiling fans, bar stools, and countertop end cap kits and holding Joseph. My neck has also been out of line today. I'm not sure what I did to it, but it hurts. Anyway, all this gripe is to say that by the end of the day I was beat. Just plum tuckered out. Brandon and I were in bed at 8:30 with the lights out by 9pm and now here it is, 10:38, and I am not just unable to sleep, but wide awake. I couldn't sleep, can't sleep, and thus you get a post. So, since I've done all my complaining that I am entitled to for about a month, I'll bore you with house details and updates. My apologies for no pictures, but perhaps tomorrow while Brandon is plowing mounds of snow I can add some.

So, let's see, what has been done...
Rachel's room- the pink one, now has some whimsical butterflies on the walls. Megan had some work time and added her artistic touch to the room and wala, it's transformed! I'm really excited about this as her bedding and curtains and such will tie into this theme perfectly. You know it's the parts of the project like this that really keep me going. I don't have to get this detailed on much, but just one or two things here and there really keep me inspired!
The purple room- that's the master bedroom, has paint on all the walls and trim. There are some very minor areas of touch up, straighten some lines and fix a couple of drips, but other than that it's done. Oh, and something is funky about the ceiling fan and the way it is suppose to hang, but doesn't go flush up to the ceiling. By the way, while we are on the subject of ceiling fans, I must just say- watch out for light fixtures these days! The green people get you so bad that you can't put a light bulb in there bright enough to see by anymore! The vent fan for the bathroom is suppose to take a 13W bulb! Ok, that's a good...uh...NIGHTLIGHT!!! Anyway, the purple room looks great. Allouette finished the painting in there around the wall areas that we closed in and some stuff we had to remove for ease of putting things together. The new master mini walk-in closet is all enclosed, mudded, and caulked and ready for paint and then we might put in some rods for clothes! I will add here that Tim has done a masterful job at figuring out all sorts of electrical issues. I would have been at a complete loss as to what to do about that stuff, but he has conquered the upstairs completely and is now tackling the main area.
The master bathroom has the tub set in, the walls back on, the subfloor down, primer on the walls, and the ceiling painted. Next for there is vanity, tile, and toilet. The drain lines need to be completed for that as well, but Dan Reed has been doing that and can get at them from the garage below.
The hall bathroom has the tub, all the paint- it's gorgeous, and the light fixtures. Everything is ready in there for the vanity and the tile and toilet. Allouette knocked that out last weekend and I was so thrilled when I went in on Monday and saw it, I burst into tears!
Jonathon's and James' room has walls and ceiling with primer on it and is soon to be blue ceiling with "Raw Hide Laces" walls, that's sort of a orangy rust color. They are really excited about it- especially Jonathon. One of the "little" things that happened this week was that the doors and frames got on. We were able to salvage a lot of parts from the old ones and mismatch them together to get whole frames. Some did have to be purchase because the old ones were either too banged up, or became that way when we took them off, but it's all back together now and we can close people in if we want. (Maybe even ourselves...)
The hallway is mudded and almost ready for primer I think- another one of Allouette's areas of beautification. She has sanded, and skimmed, and patched and sanded on those walls to get them flat and nice looking. I think she is not far away from having it ready and it looks great even without paint! Nice, smooth, straight lines. She has really done miracles to a wall that had a couple of layers of wallpaper before.
Oh, we also have baseboards in all the rooms! Whooohooo! You have no idea how happy it is to see those. I wasn't sure if we would even do them before we moved in, but Allouette convinced me and I've discovered that nothing else really makes the room feel done like having all the trim there.
Joe and Brandon installed a pull-down stair for the attic space. That was wonderful! I was wondering how I was going to easily use the attic when I had to get an 8 foot ladder every time I need to get up there, but now, I can just pull the string and bam! stair appear for me to meander through my stuff. Later I hope it will not be as big of an issue, but when we first move in, I think we will be storing a lot of stuff so we can keep the work zones free of too much clutter.
I think Joe is planning to do some serioius cabinet work this week for the bathrooms and the kitchen and we are hoping to squeek into the house just before the feast. It still remains to be seen if it will be possible, but I've been boxing up this house with that in mind, and I may just move anyway and cook on a hot plate if needed. It will certainly simplify meals!
Now, moving to lower level of the house (I'll save the best for last) we have torn out a wall in the back room to get at the plumbing so as to move the laundry into the room rather than have it in the hallway. The old sticky tile has been taken up in favor of new sticky tile. The old stuff, half was stuck firm and half had completely lost its adhesiveness. Much was broken and cracked, so it was ready to go. The hall to that area had a partial wall removed, some old wainscoating taken off and the floor taken up. It's was all concrete under the vinyl sheet floor, so we are slaving to get the adhesive up so the next stuff will sit flat and stick well. There apparently had been some sort of leak at some point that wicked up the sheet rock and it was pretty gross back there, but no longer. Also, we have good reason to believe that there is or was a mouse that lives there that is addicted to nicotene as we found mouse droppings, nut shells, and a cigarette butt all stowed away between the studs and insulation in the wall. That made for some amusing speculations regarding rodents and their habits, but I won't take time for that here. That area still has some more ripping out to go and pipe work and electrical work needed before we can make it into a real live laundry. There is a good chance I will be washing clothes elsewhere for a while after we move in, but hopefully not too long.
The school room got a new wall where the stairs to the kitchen used to be and that's about it so far. We are planning to put a light in the center of the ceiling and perhaps over the area that will have a desk of some sort, but that is on the back burners for now.
Brandon's office is going to have the carpet pulled up, but we haven't decided what to do with the floor under it yet. And hopefully we can get some better lighting for that as well.
Now for the kitchen...well, it doesn't look like a kitchen yet, but there are wonderful things about it. First of all, the wall that is in the school room is also in the kitchen, just the other side (pretty tricky huh?). Most of that was thanks to my father-in-law, Andy, for coming over a weekend and helping out. There's a window in it to look through and tell the child with the rubber cement not to paste his brother to the door quite so liberally. Anyway, it's there and I'm really glad we did that already. I've gotten used to not using those stairs and it really doesn't seem like too much extra effort to go around, plus it gives the kitchen space a LOT more continuity that it lacked before. Joe also took out the back door and filled it in with insulation. We'll probably brick it up later when it's not a blizzard outside, but for now it's sealed from the inside well and from there, you'd never know it had been a door. The sub floor has been replaced and Tim has installed some can lights. The best parts are the wall from the kitchen to the living room is GONE and the beam that goes across the top and the posts are installed. It's beautiful! It's so open and airy and it feels so spacious! I can't wait til I can use it to have all of you over! The other marvelous thing is the heat pipes. Before, we had those baseboard heaters all the way around the dining area and the kitchen, but no more! Joe and Brandon put radiant heat underneath and now it just magically stays warm! The pipes run back and forth between the joists and once we get some styrofoam, it will send most of the heat up through the floor. It already feels different than it did. Every room is starting to look so nice it's hard to decide what my favorite is!

Ok, I do have to tell one funny story about the heat pipes- especially if you've listened to me ramble on this long. I wasn't there, but this is how I heard it. Joe and Brandon worked on those pipes yesterday afternoon and into the evening. When they completed them and turned the water on, they discovered a leak- in, of course, one very difficult spot to get to and fix. But they did have to turn off the water and drain it all back out to fix it. So, to save time Joe encouraged Brandon to hook up the air compressor to the bleeder valve upstairs and blow the water out. So he did and it worked like a charm. When it was all out and he took it off, though...he didn't know that he should do it slowly. See, the pipes were under pressure and when he just popped that thing off, all the water that was in the pipe the other way just shot up into the dining room like a geyser, hitting the ceiling and wall with hot dirty water. Joe said that Brandon just stood there and stared at his creation in sort of a dumbfoundedamazed state of "I can't believe this is happening, what do I do now?" kind of look. I did see the remnants of the fountain all over the wall and that was proof enough that it must have been a great sight to see!

Uh...in the children world, superlatives go to:
Most Likely to never be a successful barber: Jonathon (failed at two attempts- his and James ugh!)
Most Likely to write a children's book: James (who had a dream about a little girl who stole a train track piece and got eaten by a monster that he (James) was riding on and then she stole some donuts too)
Most Likely to get dressed incorrectly: Jeff- who has put his pants on backwards almost every day, his shirt on backwards several days and once had his pants on inside out and backwards
Most Likely to be found doing something involving clothes: Rachel- her clothes, her shoes, her dolls clothes, her little Cinderella's clothes, any clothes that can be swapped. She also figured out on the one day I tried some potty training that if she wet her underwear she got to wear all the different ones in the bag in one day! I don't really think she did it all on purpose though because she was sad when she "got Cinderella and Snow White wet".
Most Likely to be found with something in his mouth: Joseph! Oh, those people- whoever they are write books about kids that have to go to the hospital because they have a marble in their nose or throat or something. Well, one of these days he's going to be it. Do you know that he can get at least 7 Cocoa Peanut Butter sugar bomb cereal ball thingies in his mouth at once? and still smile at me!

Should be famous quotes:
"Today, I'm taking my backpack and just going some place else!" -Jonathon, on running away from home (my childhood haunts me) He was carrying only 5 story books as his possessions
"Can we please, will it be ok, may we...and don't interrupt me, can we please have just a little water fight outside today?" - Jonathon ( it was currently 3 degrees outside!...the answer was no)
"I win!"- Jeff, while playing air hockey against Vanlora at a restaurant and intentionally shooting the puck into his own goal over and over again.
"NO!" - Joseph, on being told to sit down in his seat at the table. (He doesn't say it quite on purpose yet, but it's close I think)
"I'll just take a sword and shoot it with my bow that goes with arrows and if I shoot her with a bomb canon, she will say, 'please get this off my face' and she'll take the bomb off her face...." -James, more on the girl stealing the train track story
"Poor Cinderelly, she never get her dress done." -Rachel, on being obsessed with Cinderella and her friends, the mice.

Ok, enough for tonight. Perhaps I will try sleeping again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to Joseph!




...with cake.


His first birthday was on Friday. It seems to have flown by. But here he is in all his glory and his "car" cake as requested by his older brothers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

House Update

Just thought some of you would love to see an update on our massive project. We have been puttering in the house and the more we putter, the more we actually tear down. Don't worry, it's all good. We just have to get to a good place to start. But I"ll add some pictures here so you have a visual of what's been going on. We've been focusing on the bedrooms and the two upstairs bathrooms and they are coming along well. The Andersons are here and it is exciting to see more done every time I go up there.

The above room is Jeff and Joseph's. It's pretty much done with the exception of a few touch up spots of paint and some baseboards. It's a great BOY room. We have repainted all the walls (green), ceiling (blue) and trim (almost white), replaced the light fixture with a new fan, and we have new oak floor. So, this one is pretty much checked off the list except for the little stuff for someone with a lot of patience. Maybe I'll pretend for that role sometime soon.

Next we have Rachel's room. It's PINK. She knows it and LOVES it! This room is at about the same place. Mostly done except for some picky paint spots. New paint, fan, and floor. The chair rail is also new, but I love how it really adds some fun to the room to be able to put both colors on the wall. For those of you who may doubt your eyes, the ceiling is actually pink also. It gives a really smooth flow to the paint from wall to ceiling and avoids the stripe look that white would give it. This is a very happy room and I never walk in here without smiling a little. Rachel already talks about "her" room and looks forward to being in it.This is a room in progress. We have put the initial round of color on the walls. A dark purple accent wall and a lighter lavender on the other walls. This is the master bedroom. Since I took this picture, the flooring has been completely finished, the doors moved (not pictured) and a closet added (using up some vacant hall space). There is still a tub in the middle of the floor as we are working on the plumbing in the floor in the master bath. Hopefully we can show some pictures of the bathroom soon.

This is our new bathtub in the hall bath. We are thrilled. Of course none of you can see all the pipe work that went on before this went in- it looks so simple in a picture. One of the highlights is that the shower head was raised from 72 inches to 80. So for all you tall people that come to visit, no hitting your head on the shower head now! And, you must come and visit- but wait a few months if you don't mind. Since this picture was taken we have all the sheet rock back on in the bathroom and a new bathroom fan. There are outlets, and light boxes in the walls at the right places for the vanity and there are pipes sticking out for the sinks to go in. Some of this may seem minor to some of you, but for us all those little details are really great to see happen. I think one of the reasons is that most of these things are things that Brandon and I are not familiar with, so others have pitched in and helped with. Then we come back and just like magic it appears.

Other things you can't see that are going on:

We got our new appliances- a stove, washer, and dryer!

A lot of demolition has gone on in the kitchen area. Walls are removed and railings as well as flooring. We have vanities and sinks, light fixture and tile for the bathrooms just waiting to go in. We've been sanding baseboards and will be priming them soon for going in the bedrooms. And there is a little of the flooring started in the last bedroom upstairs. I'm looking for some sticky tile for the laundry floor that matches a FREE counter top that one awesome friend picked up for us. The garage, basement, and workshop areas have been cleaned out, swept, and are ready for someone elses stuff to be stored in.

One of the fun things about going up there to work right now is coming home. When I remember, it's marvelous fun to take a sled with me and then when I get ready to walk back home, I can sled almost the whole way. A bit of a chance to be a kid at a time of my life when many things are entirely too serious!

So, hope you've enjoyed the update and we'll keep plugging away and try to give you another one soon.