Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Short, Sweet, And To The Point

I'm better!

Actually, I got fairly well the same night I wrote that last post, but I haven't posted since because I've been CRAZY!



(Matt! No Comments!)

Between the holiday, recuperating, getting ready for VBS, and just plain LIFE with 5 kids, I've been one busy person. Blogging? What's that??

And to top it all off, my brother is getting married at the end of next week. In Tulsa. 10 hours away.

So if y'all don't hear from me for awhile, it's not because I don't have plenty to tell you.

It's simply because I don't won't have any extra time on my "hands."


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'm Not Dead....


Actually, I'm just SICK.

The really annoying kind where you can hardly function.

Noah is holding down the fort. Thank God for Noah! Oh, and Chris too when he's home. Thanks honey!

But in the middle of all this, I'm supposed to be doing a ton of stuff to get ready for our Vacation Bible School in a week. Can you say "Bad timing?"

I have a bunch of stuff to post, including some great pics, but it's just gonna have to wait.

This Mother-ship is closed for repairs.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Makin' Cookies

My kids love to cook with me.
I only wish I had the patience to let them help more....
(Perhaps if I were a better cook, it wouldn't stress me out!)

Here they are, making Chocolate Chip/Pecan Cookies this afternoon:

Such concentration.....

A much needed ingredient

What a blast!

Fringe benefits

Enjoying the fruits of their labor

We've got plenty! Come on by and grab ya some!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Syrup of Mom

Back in the day, my Grandmother would talk about something called "Syrup of Coke". From what I remember, it was nothing more than the official ingredient to the soft drink we all know and love. Add some carbonated water, and voila, Coca Cola. It's still an essential part of making the drink you order at any participating restaurant. The "tap" or "fountain" version. If you look closely when you get your refill at McDonald's (or the like), you'll see the clear carbonated water flowing around a dark stream of--coke syrup.

Soda fountains of old were often times in the same location as the local pharmacy. I'm not sure which came first, the soft drink or the remedy, but Syrup of Coke was dispensed by pharmacists for ailments such as nausea. I think there may have even been a time when my Grandmother gave me some. If not, I at least remember the bottle she had it in. And hey, what kid would fuss to get Coke for a tummy ache? It sure beat Castor oil....


There's nothing like a sick child on Mother's Day to remind you that you're REALLY a bona-fide Mom. Forget flowers and chocolates, there's just something about a wailing, snotty, clingy baby that screams, "Happy Mother's Day! It's Official!"

Asher had been dealing with something of the ailment variety for about 4 days when Mother's Day rolled around. I had figured he'd be over it by then, but alas, his cough and runny nose and low-grade fever had escalated. He was now full blown sick, and very pitiful. Chris and I took turns going to church services that day, and the holiday turned out to be your average "sick kid" day: pampering, nose-wiping, fluid pushing, rocking.

He even had me up late that night, hacking away. Poor guy.


I'm not the type of Mom to rush to the medicine cabinet every time my kids sniffle. I truly believe that their bodies can do a lot of the work themselves. Fevers don't bother me, because as much as it's a sign of infection, the fever is there to counteract that infection. Why would I want to meddle with that? If I do give my kids Tylenol for a fever, it's only to comfort them and give them a break from the internal fight. Fever is many times my kids' friend--it's a good thing to have around at times like this. If there's a true problem, there will generally be other signs to alert me and put me on the phone with my pediatrician.

Well, Asher was getting to the point that night where he just needed a break. All the more homeopathic remedies just weren't giving him any relief, and he couldn't sleep. I had tried to give him something to stave off the horrendous cough (which also had acetaminophen in it), but it didn't even touch it. Against my better judgment (even though I knew it wouldn't hurt him), I resigned to giving him a low dose of Children's NyQuil. 15 minutes later he was asleep. And he got the rest he'd been needing for a long time.

But I hated it. It really grated on me to give him that. I'm glad he got to rest, but I just don't like giving my kids meds. Let's not even DISCUSS Michaela.


The next night, Asher seemed to be doing better, but not great. His cough got worse the sleepier he got, and I knew I should just bring out the big guns again, and get it over with. Thankfully, he slept all night long with hardly any coughing.

But Libby had caught it.

And sure enough, she was hacking and barking like a seal. It didn't help that she was all but hysterical dealing with her breathing difficulty. Trying to calm her down was like keeping a greyhound from a rabbit: can be done, but very difficult! The more she barked, the more she heaved, the more she freaked out. I had tried everything in my arsenal of benign therapies (hey, if a placebo works, why not?), as well as not-so-benign, but she was still suffering. Still unable to relax. Had already given her some cough syrup, but alas, no relief.

So we switched to plan B. Chris got her out of bed and into ours. We propped her up on pillows to keep her elevated (nothing different than what I had already done), and put a cool mist humidifier in our room. I kept her close.

And would you believe it? I think that kid only coughed maybe ONE MORE TIME the entire night! She settled down in my arms, closed her eyes, and drifted to sleep. Her breathing was clear, and she was relaxed. Even in the morning when she woke up and coughed a little bit, she didn't freak out and it didn't seem to bother her much at all.

Don't tell me it was the humidifier. It hadn't even been on for 5 minutes when she fell asleep.

It was the "Syrup of Mom." I'm sure of it.

And I think I'll whip that out pri-tee quick next time. (But I dare say it only works in my bed!)


Speaking of sick kids and Mother's Day, my two and their coughs are nothing compared to what Dream Mom is dealing with. She was just praying that her Dear Son wouldn't DIE on Mother's Day, nevermind sleep through the night. And from her blog, it seems as though he's still fighting for his life.

My heartfelt concern and prayers go out to her and her sick baby. We hope to hear good news soon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

OK, That's Just WRONG

Giving Noah his last spelling test of the year (see previous post), and the word is "pull".

(Don't ask me WHY this spelling curriculum thinks that 2nd graders need words like "pull" at the very end of the year. Needless to say, I will be switching to something more challenging next year!)

But after I recite the word, he goes on to ask me:

"Did you say 'pull'?"

"Yeah. Pull. As in, 'Let's pull the wagon'."

"OH. See, you need to use sentences, because I though you said 'pull', like 'the North Pull'."

"NO Noah, that's 'pole'----OOOOOOO. I said 'pull'-------UUUUUHHHHHH."


What is going on here?!?! Do I have to speak Southern just so that my kid can understand me? Since when does 'pull' sound like "pole"???

Someone needs to get me a Northern/Southern translation dictionary, and a pen so I can mark down all these pronunciations I'm gonna have to learn.

NO! I don't want a PIN! I said PEN! EH! EH!


Last Day of School! Hooray!

After today, Noah will officially be a third grader. And you know, it's funny. This homeschooling thing really has it's perks. Without giving you my diatribe on the "Benefits of Schooling Your Own Children", there is ONE thing that I really like about it:


Before I homeschooled, it was weird how that time of the year just didn't seem to have the luster that it once had. When I was a child, I LIVED for summer vacations! The last few months of school were pure torture, expecially in high school. And no, I was too much of a "goody-two-shoes" to enjoy a "skip day" here and there (besides, Dad woulda had my hide!). So summer vacation was my time, man.

But after graduation was over--so were the benefits. I started off by going to college right away--that summer. Quite the rude awakening. And until I had Michaela, I worked every summer. Which was sooooo weird. You just FELT like you needed to be somewhere having fun. Getting up early for work was just plain HARD. Like something wasn't right.....

But no more, man. Now, I'm the teacher. Now, I have 3 months of freedom. We can go to the park, and to the lake, and shopping whenever, and we can sleep in (well, when Michaela's done school, in a couple weeks), and hang out with friends. I can take the kids swimming and on trips, and keep them up late. All because it's summer.

Just chalk another one up for Homeschooling!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Little Piece of Info That Spared Me Gray Hair

There have been many instances in my life where I could honestly say that what I didn't know, didn't hurt me.

Monday, that just didn't apply.


I was at the hospital, witnessing my best friend give birth to her 5th child. She had had an abnormally long labor, with various degrees of difficulties and speed bumps. Nothing physical, per se (well, beta strep, but that's manageable), just false labor and long labor and puttering labor (which, in case all you guys out there don't realize, is a HUGE annoyance). Seemingly, the baby just coasted through all this, as his heart rate didn't fluctuate in any serious manner, and he handled himself in all the appropriate neonatal ways. Nothing to make the docs cry cesarean or anything. But it WAS long. Painstakingly long.

Yet, as most all babies do, he finally made his grand entrance. And I would like to say he came out kicking and screaming.

But he didn't.

At all.

Of course, no one panicked at first. Babies do that silent thing sometimes, and you just need to rough 'em up a little. Get a towel. Flick their feet. We hate it when they don't scream bloody murder the second they're born, but we don't fuss at them if they take a moment to look around. As long as they DO scream. Then our hearts beat normally again. And we forget all about it.

But when the neonatologist comes running in.......that's just pure heart stopping material. Prayer is not planned, it just seems to happen without any thought at all.


So here we were, a slew of people to witness the birth, and that many more people to make sure it WAS a birth and not a death. And all of a sudden, you could tell the fear factor stepped up a notch. There didn't seem to be a dry eye amongst the observers. Especially not the Daddy, or the aunts, cousins and other friends. It was controlled chaos, but it was emotional chaos, just the same.

Except for me. I honestly wasn't scared at all.

Not at all.

Now, I'm not saying that my heart wasn't thumping. You just can't help it when adrenaline flows, and it was an intense situation. But I definitely wouldn't describe myself as scared or nervous or emotional. In fact, I wouldn't be the least surprised if everyone there thought I was completely insensitive and stone-hearted (although they probably didn't really notice me). But I wasn't that either.

I was informed.

I knew what was going on, knew how they were going to fix it, knew that those docs are the best at doing exactly what they were doing to that little guy, right then. If he needed a kick-start, they knew just how to use the jumper cables.

And I also knew that this was not a rare occurrence for a newborn. Sometimes their bodies just get a little shocked, a little confused, a little out-of-whack. Especially after a labor like that. And yes, they need some help. But again, the docs that help are not new at what they do, and they do their job well. Just another day at the office for them, really.

I tried to do what I could to reassure the others. The silent nod of, "It's gonna be ok", and "He'll be fine, don't worry." But they had no clue that I had some understanding behind those comments, and not just faith (which, by the way, is just as powerful, if it really IS faith and not just positive thinking). And they weren't so sure. My friends would've liked to be able to say that, but he was so gray. He wasn't crying. He wasn't breathing. They were still working feverishly. Kelly, how can you be so sure?

I guess if I hadn't done a little reading on the subject, hadn't heard enough happy-ending stories just like this one, then maybe I wouldn't have been so confident. Maybe I would've been very scared. Maybe I would've been distraught. It's very likely. For all intents and purposes, it looked as if my best friend was going to lose her last baby. That's nothing to sneeze at.

But it wasn't like that for me, and I was really grateful. It was good to know that I didn't need to be afraid. That, yes, something could still go terribly wrong, but at that stage, his odds of being anything short of perfectly fine, were really slim. A little bit of knowledge really went a long way that day. That was a nice reassurance. It was also nice to be able to help someone else by my confidence. By my lack of fear.


He still didn't cry a whole lot before they took him to the NICU. Yet, they took him to his Mama first, and as I stood there with her, he seemed to be just fine. Call me crazy, but that baby didn't look any different than any other newborn: pink, wide-eyed, and content. I mean, does he really need to scream all the time in order to be healthy? I don't think so. Maybe, just maybe, for the first time, she got a quiet, pensive little guy to take home with her (instead of the rambunctious, full-tilt boys she has at home). He was breathing, and that's what really mattered. We like breathing babies, crying or no.


If you get anything out of this post, realize this: even the most mundane things can create fear where there's a lack of understanding. A lack of knowledge can be crippling, even. Say, for instance, your newborn has a rash suddenly. If no one EVER told you that it's no big deal for your 1-month-old to have a nasty rash on his face (it's hormonal, it goes away on it's own), then you would very likely freak out. You may rush to the ER. If not that, then you would most definitely be calling your pediatrician, asking to be seen pronto. Who, as soon as he sees your child, would quickly tell you that you have no cause for worry, and explain why.

So, after your next child is born, and gets that nasty rash, you don't bat an eyelash. Why not? You know better. You understand more. You're informed. And you don't incur any more gray hairs than you need to.

Yet, there's not always someone there to tell you these things. At least, not before they happen. Either you find out the hard way, and lose 5 years of your life in the process, or you study up. Perhaps not about everything under the sun. But definitely about the types of things that will affect you.

For example:

Ladies, don't have a baby without studying. Your OB is not giving you the whole story in the 10 minutes they're in that room with you. You're just setting yourself up for some crushed dreams. Oh, and don't try to nurse without reading something about it. There's too many factors against you, to not inform yourself.

Men, read up on health issues that plague men and how to catch those early. More than likely, you're really busy taking care of your family, and not taking care of yourself like you should. And while you're at it, (this is for women too), you'd do yourself a huge favor to know something about how a car runs, for example. Or anything else in your house. It'll just save you from getting ripped off, I promise.

A big purchase, a new vehicle, a new house, a surgical procedure, a childhood illness....these are all situations in life that demand your time and energy. If not anywhere else, the internet has more information than anyone could ever read, just waiting for you to dive in. You don't have to be an innocent bystander. You don't have to be a sucker.

You don't have to be afraid when the going gets rough.

Do yourself a favor. Inform yourself. What you don't know, really could hurt you. Or at least make for a really bad day.


By the way, whaddya think of my newest "nephew"?
Yeah, he'll be kickin' and screamin' before we all know it. Let's enjoy it while we can! ;)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

For The Love of Fetch

In the world of dogs, I'm not sure that any other breed is more aptly named than the "Retriever".

We have one such Retriever. TWO, to be exact, and they definitely live up to their name.

One, aforementioned Retriever, MUST retrieve continually, or he starts to wither, and I believe he thinks he'll die.

Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that the actual process of retrieving is what's going to kill him.


The weather around here has been a bit dreary. Mostly rain. Which, by the way, doesn't bother me in the least. Especially the rain that accompanies thunder and lightning. In my opinion, just open the windows and enjoy the light show. Drink in the sounds. (Did I ever tell you that I birthed a baby to a CD of thunder storms? Yeah, love the stuff that much.)

Dogs, on the other hand, do NOT like storms, and truly wish they were humans so they could live in the house and bury themselves under the covers. At least, my dogs do. Cooper especially. But I'm thinking that the real reason he doesn't like storms is because humans don't generally run around in them.

Which, in turn means: NO FETCH.

No fetch days are perfectly horrid to witness, as my dog looks so pitiful, you think he must be praying for God to take him home. You know, to that great doggy home in the sky, where there are endless fire hydrants for all, and a personal angel who only stops throwing balls when you sleep. He wants to go there so bad.

Except for when we attempt to leave the house. Then he wants to be right here, with you throwing the ball. Heaven can wait.


The other day, amidst the spats of storms, we decided to go out on the porch and enjoy the nice-ness of being outside. It wasn't too hot, nor cold, and the sky didn't look so ominous, so we hung out on the porch for a bit. Asher was enjoying his new found baby porch swing, and Cooper was enjoying the tennis ball that Caleb was throwing to him.

Cassie was enjoying trying to outmaneuver Coop.

And this is where the trouble starts.

Cassie does not run quite as fast as Cooper, and so he always gets the ball. So, like most baby sisters, she tries to be a pest, and likes to grab onto his ear while he's fetching. It's actually quite a sight to see: Here's Cooper running pell-mell for the ball, and there's Cassie holding onto his ear and running right beside him. Strangest thing, I tell ya. Funny too.

But this day, her antics must've distracted him enough for her to finally get the elusive ball. And MAN was she proud of herself! So proud, in fact, that she promptly scooted under the van with the reward and gloated.

Because she knows that Coop's too big to get under there.

WOW, this really drove him nuts. We watched him for a while, dancing around the van. He would duck and try to squeeze his head under there, but with the running boards, there was just no way.

So he pleaded and cried and begged Cassie to come out and share, but she just lolled in the beauty of having that ball (not to mention the shelter from any rain) in a place where he couldn't overpower her. When we finally left to go inside, he was sitting and staring at the underside of my van, praying. Not for God to take him home, but for God to take her.


Every day when Chris comes home, the dogs are conscientious to greet him. I dare say that it doesn't matter what they're doing, they will stop and run to his car and maul him as he gets out. You see, he's never too tired to play fetch for at least a couple throws. And the dogs think that he's going to be one of those angels in the afterlife. He's their best friend.

But this day, only Cassie came to the car. "Strange," Chris thought. But he just dismissed it and decided that Coop must be sleeping under the porch or something. He didn't hear the faint whining.

Later on, when he was out refilling our birdfeeder, he COULD hear the whining. So he calls the dog.......more whining.

Come to find out, that crazy dog did it. He got under the van. He got that ball. But he couldn't get out.

Picture it if you will: A beefy, categorically large, 2 year old Labrador RETRIEVER, under a factory specified, low-profile van.

Yeah, Cooper didn't know his legs could do a split that far.

He was perfectly squashed under there, to the point where he could not get out. Chris would go to a different side and call him, only to see him army crawl until he hit a muffler or something. No matter how you looked at it, the dog was a stuck duck.

There was only one thing left to do.

Get the jack.


Thankfully, no one tried to drive the van while he was under there. He definitely would've been hurt badly, if not killed. And we would've lost the best dog ever. And to that end, I have this to say:

(Hitting palm to forehead) For the love of fetch, Cooper! Don't kill yourself!

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Artist Formerly Known as Michaela

When she was very little, Michaela had shown herself to be gifted in "artsy" type things. She just seemed very talented in "right brain" activities. For example (and I've told people this many times because it really shows how above-average she was before epilepsy), when she was 18 months old, she knew the alphabet. I'm not sure how many 18 month olds can do that, but for some reason , I thought that was pretty nifty. So I decided I wanted to challenge her and teach it to her backwards.

She was especially adept at singing. We could play a song for her, and the second time she heard it, she was singing along, and remembering a good amount of it. She just really had an ear for music. It didn't surprise us though, both my family and Chris' are very talented in that department. She came by it honestly.

She would color, draw, build, sing, play in such a way that made you think that she had a gift. She had some real talent. That perhaps, some day, she was really going somewhere in the arts. It just presented so strongly and so young, we couldn't bring ourselves to think that it was just a passing phase.


When epilepsy hit, it was one of the first things I remember noticing. She wasn't coloring like she used to. I didn't understand it at the time. I never would've thought that her seizures were keeping her from being able to do what she loved. But over time, that's exactly what happened.

Now, the disease has effectively stripped away any "talent" she once had. Yet, she still has a propensity for art; she just can't express herself like she used to. She doesn't seem to care, or mind. She doesn't remember how it was when she was two. I guess that's the good thing about all this: We may be suffering with our memories, but she most definitely isn't. At least one of us is spared.

But she's been having some good days lately. They're not the greatest, but they're really not that bad. She may have a couple of hours where she's spacey, but besides the drooling (which seems to be damming up a bit now), she's functioning normally for her. Which, you'll remember, is approximately the same as a three-year-old.

So lately, she's been keeping herself busy at home. She putters around, meddling with the various toys that she finds. Some days, you can give her a bucket of blocks, and she will sit there with that bucket for hours. Yet, on the better days, when "staring spells" (absence seizures) don't continually interrupt her work, she can be found shuffling from one room to the next, picking up an item and depositing it in a designated spot. The "spot" changes every time, and there may be various "spots" in the house.

These areas are her template. Her canvas. She finds exactly what she wants to include in her piece, and places it just right. It's all very logical to her. I'll see her contemplating: "Do I want to put this block here, or here? Hmmmm, this giraffe would look wonderful there........no HERE!"

But she doesn't build. This is not a building, or anything concrete like that. It's all very abstract. You'd have to live inside her head to understand the complexities of her art. Why she wants it to look just so.

And she doesn't just stick to one "medium". It's not just all blocks, or all crayons, or all books. It's generally a conglomerate of all these things and more. Whatever she can get her hands on. It's like she's trying to audition for the "I Spy" books. She'll get my bottle of lotion, and the CD laying on the table; my keys, her baby, Noah's book. There's almost always blocks, and occasionally, a pillow or two. It's not beneath her to use shoes.

One piece at a time. All placed precisely and with thought.

Sometimes she seems very proud of her work, and other times she neglects it, as if she's hoping her brother will destroy the nasty thing. I'm thinking those are the times when I find numerous "works"---she just gives up on one to start another.

But overall, she's very good at what she does. We just can't tell you what it is. These pictures don't even do it justice.


A couple of days ago, I was feeling a bit scatterbrained. Had way more to do than I felt I could squish into my time frame. Thankfully, Michaela and Asher were playing quietly in the boy's room, and I could concentrate on what I had to do.

Do you see the fault in this logic?

At one point, I went to go check on them, and Asher was on the bed (oh, climbing maniac that he is) and Michaela was on the floor. She had graciously given him some blocks to play with, since he couldn't get down. All seemed well. I went back to my work.

Next thing I know (45 minutes? an hour?), she's telling me to "come see". I don't usually come at her every beck and call, because she does it so frequently, I would never get anything done. But I think I had the good sense to think that since Asher was in there--I'd better "come see."

It was a massive conglomeration of stuff. It was her art. With a live specimen. On the bed (a FULL size bed).

Asher didn't seem to mind being a live model, and he was plenty happy pawing through the various items she packed in around him. OK, I thought, that's not so bad--I'll just pick it up later--they're having good clean fun.

Yeah, it was fun alright. But it wasn't "clean".

I left them to their play so I could continue what I was doing. I had no clue what was really going on in there.

Chris came home not too long after this, and Michaela was quick to greet him. Not too far behind was Asher (how'd he get down?), crawling his way over to say hi to his Daddy.

Chris goes, "What does he have all over his face?"

"What? Is it marker or something?" (which doesn't get me too worried, we only have the washable kind in the house)

"He's got something all over his face......uh, no, he's got something all over him. What IS this stuff?.....it's greasy.......it's........oh no."

"What 'oh no'?"

"How'd he get into the Bag Balm?" (the Northern equivalent of Vaseline--we use it for diaper rash)

"BAG BALM?!?!?"

Sure enough, there was grease everywhere. On the bed, on the blocks, on the books. It was caked on a Matchbox car. The bunkbed ladder was slippery. The bedspread had globs and globs on it---right where Asher had been sitting. And he, of course, was covered from head to toe.
Come to find out, in her artistic exhilaration, she had grabbed the can of balm and added it to her masterpiece. Much to Asher's delight.


I didn't take a picture of her grand design, but I wish I had. I was too upset with myself and too preoccupied with degreasing the room to capture it all.

I guess some artists are just never appreciated in their own "time."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sidebars Are Wonderful Things

Just think of it as my little "information booth".

It's the sidebar, courtesy of Blogger, who had the foresight to realize that people needed a catch all. A junk drawer. A filing cabinet.

At least, this is how I use mine.

And if you are the perceptive type person that I know you are, then you've noticed the changes I've made to the sidebar every so often.

Well, I've made another one.

Consider yourself informed!