Thursday, December 29, 2011

Better

Still sad, not as mad. Less "what next?!" and more "put on your big girl panties and get over it." Less anger, more prayer and thankfulness.



We have a new plan: Trileptol. I'll be focusing on THAT drug in pharmacology this spring.

We are working on the new busing plan. Lainie can't ride the bus without another adult to be there in case of a seizure, and we can't expect, or won't expect, the district to hire someone for the full 45-minute ride the girls have now. So, we will need to ask for Walleta's help (daycare) and the district's help to find a plan that will work.

She didn't lose any skills from that last seizure and is acting normal, emotionally. She's tired, has circles under her eyes, is coughing, is on motrin around the clock, and is still sleeping in my room or with the monitor on ... I just cannot yet "Let Go and Let God" enough to have her asleep in a separate room. Pray for me on that one.

We can't prevent this or predict this or stop this without God's help and guidance. We can use whatever meds we want and whatever experts we think and whatever tests they have, but if it's God's intention, then it will be.

And so, we pray. And medicate. But mostly pray.

Monday, December 26, 2011

F-bombing Christmas

I dropped the f-bomb, twice, this Christmas.

But it was for a good reason. I rarely use that word, but when I do, you know it's for a worthwhile cause.

We had loaded up the kids after a fabulous Christmas Day at Jay's family. We stopped at kwik shop in Abilene for gas and I went in to get a drink for Jay. As I came out the door, I heard Katie and Maggie start screaming from the car. I felt that panic and started walked faster. Just as I rounded the back of the car, I heard Jay say "Go get your mom," saw him with Lainie, and realized she was having a seizure.

Damn. (see, no F-bomb yet.)

Jay and I got her out of the car, to the pavement, and I turned her when she vomited to clear her airway, grateful she stopped turning blue. I asked someone to start timing, asked someone to call 911, asked someone else to get my coat for her to lay on, and caressed her hair while she had a grand mal seizure. On Christmas. At 11:45 p.m. In the Kwik Shop parking lot.

The ambulance came and loaded her up, I hugged the girls and told them everything would be okay and I was proud of them, turned to Jay, hugged him, and dropped the first F-bomb of the night.

His exact response? "My thoughts exactly."

Grand mal only lasted 2 minutes, and she regained consciousness at about 12:10, at the ER in Abilene. Blood tests, fever 102.6, urine test...and a call to the neurologist = 100 mg of zonegran and restart that drug.

Second f-bomb.

I'm so sad, so mad. I don't want her drugged again. She's just now happy and calm and learning so much! Isn't there another option?

But we can't let her go through those seizures. Her pulse was racing, even an hour after the seizure, her little muscles twitching all over. On the way home, while she was still awake, she kept going through the alphabet in sign language and air-writing, like she too was making sure it was all still there, proving she hadn't lost anything with this one.

Do you think she knows?

And where do we go from here?

We'll find out later this week. Will call her doc in the morning. In the meantime, she's sleeping in our room, all of us are back home tonight and Lainie's on around the clock ibuprofen until fever is stopped or we figure out the cause.

Oh, and now it's Jay's birthday. What a gift.

Actually, it is. We are home. She's stopped seizing. We'll worry about the rest tomorrow.

Actually today...in about 5 hours.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Weekend in Review

What did I do this weekend? Well, if you start the weekend on Friday night, I:

  • Worked a 12-hour shift at the hospital
  • Took a 2-hour nap
  • Cooked ham and cheesy potatoes, lasagne roll-ups, taco casserole, pizza rolls, Denver omelets, meringue cookies, and caramels
  • Made 7 meals for my mother-in-law to use while she's recovering
  • Put 1 meals in our freezer for future use
  • 7 batches of laundry
  • Clean sheets!
  • Clothes laid out for 3 girls
  • chapter 8 of statistics
  • post-clinical paperwork
  • pre-class reading for Monday
  • a few hours hanging out with a friend
  • another 2 hour nap
  • church and children's liturgy
  • watched Gnomeo and Juliet as a family, and
  • updated by blog
Still to do: find a way to get sleepy enough to go to bed, put Natalie back to bed again, pack bags for tomorrow's school, and read 8 more pages in my textbook.

Six more days of class this semester, just 6 more days

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hearty Butternut Soup

With a few hundred pounds of squash in our basement, we have tried many variations of butternut soup, many of which got poured down the drain. The taste just wasn't there or the texture was icky, to use the girls' words. Today, I finally found a variation we all liked.

Hearty Butternut Soup

2-3 pounds butternut squash
2 small onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon majoram
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth

  1. Prepare butternut squash ahead of time by baking for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool. Then, peel and dice into chunks.
  2. In a large saucepan, saute onions, carrots, and garlic in butter until onions are translucent.
  3. Add flour, majoram, salt and pepper. Stir on medium-high heat for one minute.
  4. Add milk, stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in cubed, peeled squash.
  6. Stir in chicken broth. Reduce heat to simmer.
  7. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Normal vs Preferred

Lately, most every night our dining room table looks like this:

Between Jay's stacks to grade and my stacks to learn, we have reached epic levels of geekdom. It's exhausting, and we are ready to be done with it all. At least Jay's stacks to grade would be easier to handle if I didn't have to rely on him so much so that I could get my homework done and still work some.

Well, this weekend, Jay is at a vegetable growers conference, so I did not sign up to work. Daddy's out of town, and Mommy doesn't have to work, translates to a girls day!

We watched Mary Poppins, because Maggie just finished reading the book, and watched Little Women, because I want Katie and Maggie to read that book.

We made Boogie Shoes for Lainie and Maggie's upcoming dance performance:

We made candle holders out of old jars, Mod Podge, and tissue paper:


Maggie and I made a batch of sugar-free, cinnamon-free Sweet Potato Bars. And Katie and I made a taco casserole for supper.There was lots of dress-up, lots of books, lots of colors, and thankfully, lots of napping.

It feels like that first warm day in spring after a terribly cold winter, the kind that smells like rain and just makes you want to dance. It was a reminder of what weekends used to be like and a glimpse of what we can return to in about 6 months. It was what I needed, more than anything. And I think it's what the girls needed too.

And there is still another day to the weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beef Stew Improv

Tonight I made up a beef stew, because what better way to celebrate the first snowflakes than a big pot of stew. Because it was so, so good, and because my stew usually is edible but not delicious, and because recipes written around here get misplaced, I'm posting the recipe here (how many becauses can you get in one paragraph):

1 pound beef stew meat
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
3 T worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 bay leaf
7 potatoes, peeled and sliced thick
1/2 bag of frozen corn
2 tomatoes, peeled and chunked
  1. Saute onions and beef in olive oil until onions are translucent and beef is just browned on the edges.
  2. Add beef broth, water, carrots, worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, and liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Add corn, tomatoes, and potatoes. Simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Remove bay leaf and serve.
The best of the meal might not have been the stew, though. It was probably the cheddar biscuits Maggie made into stars and moon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Magical Autumn

Today, I woke up from a four-hour nap (after working last night 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. with an extra hour thanks to the time change) and the house was silent. I was so sure the girls were off the property that I checked to see if Jay’s truck was in the driveway. Both vehicles were there. It was a first-time event: the girls were quiet and on the property and awake.

I came down stairs, groggy, and heard giggling from the front porch. Looking out the window, I saw Natalie on the picnic bench, coloring her pumpkin with chalk. I saw Lainie coloring clouds on the porch floor. I saw a tumbleweed stuck in our patio table like a patio umbrella. And, I saw Katie waving leaves around like wings.

“Look, Mommy! It’s a FairyLand! Natalie and Lainie are the tinker fairies; they are fixing the tables. Maggie’s the decorating fairy; she’s decorating our house. And I’m the dance fairy. Watch me dance, Mommy!”

When Natalie saw me, she dropped the chalk and sprinted as fast as her chubby little legs could run, jumping for a big hug and snuggle. She smelled of fall, like cool dirt and dried leaves, which only made sense, since she spent the afternoon digging potatoes with Daddy and had a fairy wreath of leaves in her hair.

Lainie was singing as she colored, one song after another. “Twinkle Twinkle” and “B-I-N-G-O” and “Wildcat Victory” and “Bubble-Guppies”… not all her songs are traditional.

Maggie was carrying a piece of soft pipe used in one of high tunnels, but it was no longer a pipe. Now it was a majorette’s baton, a ninja’s sword, a fairy’s magic wand, and eventually a Big Sister’s weapon to clock a Little Sister.

And Katie was dancing, twirling, kicking, spinning, happy with life, no worries what anyone would say, no cares about who was looking.

I know moments like these are going by too fast, and I’m so grateful I got to experience this one.
The Fairy Land
Our uncut Jack-O-Lanterns. So glad the girls didn't ask about it; we never found time to cut them this year.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Better

Better day, better test score, better amount of rest, better perspective. Today is just better.

Part of the better perspective is realizing what real hardships my friends are enduring. A dear family/friend's mom is in the hospital with a serious lung infection, but thankfully it sounds like she's turned a corner and is starting to improve. And while they are getting better, things just got tougher for another friend of mine. Please pray for our friends, Team Gramkow. Their son and little brother was born today, very premature. I'm sure they could use the extra prayers, support, and good thoughts.

*****

Katie has been working her little tail off the past few weeks, getting ready for Piotique. She and her friend Erin have a little booth of craft stuff they sell. The little entrepreneurs have been doing this for three or four years, and are starting to get a real system going. At the booth this year: purses made out of old jeans, rag dolls, bracelets, and other beaded goodies.

I'm excited about it, because those jean purses were a great excuse to teach her how to sew, both by hand and with a sewing machine. I'm not an expert at either, but she has asked to try it for a long time. This was the motivator for me to sit down with her and show her the way. Plus, these little bags will make a great 4-H project and presentation, don't you think?

It did make me smile to see her running the machine:

Also, with tomorrow's Piotique comes Lainie's first dance performance. She has her moments, so we'll see how she feels about performing in front of the crowd.

Thank goodness for my in-laws, who are going to help Jay with the girls and the parade tomorrow afternoon. I'll be home sleeping, trying to rest up for my first night shift.

******

Some really cool things happened in the past week, too. I think they got lost in all the exhaustion, but they were still great.
  • Lainie sang me the Pledge of Allegiance. That was a tear-filled moment for me.
  • I got to listen to a presentation by Dr. Marianne Neifert, a national expert on breastfeeding.
  • With the curve, my last test wasn't too bad. At least, it wasn't the train-wreck from two weeks ago.
  • And, next week, financial aid finally arrives. 
 I would promise to not dwell on the bad stuff ever again, but I know I can't keep that promise. Some days, that's all you can see. Some days, you need a friend (or group of friends) pull you up, straighten your shoulders, and send you down the right path.

Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Discouragements

I've stopped making to-do lists because there is no way I can get done what needs done.
I've stopped double-accounting my checking account, because I know it's bad news every time.
I've stopped answering the home phone, because bets are that it's not good news.
I've stopped reading emails, because I don't have the time to do anything with them.
I'm letting myself down, at class, at clinicals, at home. With parenting, with housework, with just about everything.

It's tough right now. But it could be worse. And it will get better. And tomorrow is not a repeat of today.

Nope. Tomorrow provides all new opportunities to screw up. Or not.

-------

So what do I do on tough days like this? Before I even started my homework, I read an extra book to the Littles at bedtime. I spent an extra five minutes with each of the Bigs before their bedtime. I did dishes and tried to do laundry. And when the washer spun out of balance again, I didn't turn it off with more force than necessary. (See! I'm learning! Breaking the on-off button on the washer does NOT help the situation!) No. I opened the lid, and walked away.

I guess what I'm saying is, I could use some prayers! I don't have any big burdens right now, but all these little burdens are getting awfully heavy.

-------

I heard this song on my way home today. It made me smile, and maybe it will you too:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back to School and Birthdays

Happy birthday to my Katie-girl, my mini-me. At ten, she is as thoughtful, consciencious, considerate, responsible, and emotional as she was at 3. I am starting to catch glimpses of the adult she will become, and I'm proud of her in so many ways, for so many reasons.

I came across this video of her singing to baby Lainie a few years ago. No wonder they have such a close relationship:



----------------

We added a few people to our house this month. Our friends are staying with us, until they can find a rental and while they transition from their home in Texas back to Clay Center. Our house is a bit louder, a bit more full, a bit more messy.

Mealtime is still my favorite, even with 7 kids and 3 adults around the table. The kids are taking turns, telling us about their days, about school. It's super-sweet -- like cotton-candy sweet -- to listen to them for that half-hour. Bedtime -- not quite as sweet. ;-)

-------------

Back to school for all but Natalie. Lainie is loving kindergarten, although most of what we hear about is snack, lunch, and recess. Oh, and the bus. The school bus is to Lainie as mud is to a pig. She loves it and LOVES it.

Speaking of love, Maggie LOVES her new teacher. In her words, the second day of school was "A-w-e-s-o-m-e!" I hope her enthusiasm and good behavior continues, because lately we have seen a very sweet Maggie-May.

Katie is in big fifth grade. oh. my. goodness. I just realized she'll be headed to middle school next year. That's going to take me a year to adjust to that idea. But back to fifth grade: this year she gets to learn how to play my trumpet and gets to be co-responsible for the school paper. And, her BFF is in her class. What more can you ask for when you are ten.

----------------

For Katie's birthday, I took Katie, Maggie, Delaney, and two more of Katie's friends to a bigger town nearby, for a full day of shopping. I know they had a great time, but I think I enjoyed it even more. The girls skipped from store to store, strutting like a good pre-teen should. Claires. Bath and Body. Old Navy. Cici's Pizza. Freddy's Frozen Custard. Back to the mall for more shopping. Best of all, for me anyway, the girls were all so polite and kind and thoughtful. Now, that's MY kind of birthday party.

----------------

The kids aren't the only ones back to school. I am a week and a half into my one-year RN program, and already I can sigh a big breath of relief. I get home by 2 most days, have half the commute as last year, and a fraction of the homework. The content is tough and the standards are high, but that makes me even more proud to be going through this particular nursing program.

The school schedule also allows me to work a shift or two each week, which means I once again have an income. I cannot express how refreshing that feels.

I'm not going to say much about by work on here. Besides HIPAA  laws and patient privacy, I just don't think you want to hear the details of my job. But I will tell you, I love it like I've never loved a job before. I get to work, not have to work. I am so motivated to learn all the skills I can, so I can provide the best level of care I can. I was worried about the 12 hour shift, but the hours fly by. I definitely made the right decision with this career move.

Now I just wish all those around me are as satisfied and self-fulfilled by their careers.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Growing, a little bit

In the past month, I got all four girls in for a physical. I know, it's supposed to be near their birthday, but it is just more convenient to do it all in August. Besides, it's only one month early for Katie, three months early for Maggie, and three months late for Lainie... that works for me.

I'm sure Katie doesn't want me sharing any specifics; she's getting to that age. But, in all vagueness, I have a bunch of runts!
  • Natalie is 34 inches long and weighs 26 pounds. That makes her 22 percentile for height, 11 percentile for weight for her age.
  • Lainie is 42 inches tall, 37 pounds. That makes her 45th percentile for height, 50 percentile for weight for her age. (About average!)
  • Maggie is 48.5 inches tall, 55 pounds. That makes her 25 percentile for height, 50 percentile for weight for her age.
  • And Katie, too, is a small one, at 25 percentile for height. (Come on, she's turning ten. She doesn't want her weight listed here!)
So, it doesn't look like my girls inherited the Peterson (recessive) or Albers height. Sure, that's the recessive gene that skips this generation. And, none of them are still on the same growth curves they were as infants and toddlers. Or, maybe we are in store for some crazy growth spurts any day now.

The rest of the appointments were great, too. No big surprises, got all the school shots and doctors notes completed. Add an allergy medicine back on for one, no more seizure medicine for another, maintain this one's medications as is, none for the runt of the pack.

Oh, wait... they are all runts, aren't they? I always was a sucker for the runt.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shoes, Schedules, and Schtuff

Either Jay is feeding into my obsession or helping my organization. Only time will tell which is the case. In the meantime, look what we've accomplished:

We now have this big huge white board that covers a wall in a hallway. It replaces the itty-bitty calendar next to it, that used to list all our dates. 
The new white board

I'm hoping it'll give the kids a place to see what is on which day. It's Tuesday? Oh, Maggie has PE, Katie has Art, Lainie needs her library books, Mommy has clinicals, so she'll be home late, etc.... It's not just for the kids; maybe this way Jay will know when I have a test coming up and I will know when he has a meeting after school.

Oh, and one more perk? Lainie and Maggie can practice their handwriting.

***************
And this, is our entry closet. 

The shoe shelves. Aren't those little shoes just adorable all stacked up?

I can't remember if it came with four little shelves, or if Jay put those up for me. I think it came that way, making it the perfect fit for our current household size. Each daughter gets a shelf for her shoes, and only shoes that fit are allowed on their shelves. All out-of-size shoes are sorted and put in labeled bags upstairs, joining those tubs of future hand-me-down clothes. And the hang-up bag for shoes actually holds mittens, hats, and other stuff at the back of the closet.

Mommy gets the floor, which is why it's all disheveled. 

Daddy doesn't get a place for his shoes. He only has three pair.

------------------

And lest you start thinking our house is a home organizer's dream, I have my hoarding spots. Don't look under my bed. And my office desk is an endlessly rearranged stack of schtuff. Some day I'll get it cleaned off. Maybe.
I'll make this picture really small.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Modesty

A few weeks ago at the fair I had the amazing realization that the girls' shorts keep getting shorter as the boys' hair keeps getting longer. My friend said that was just so you couldn't see the boys' eyes checkin' out the short shorts. I think she might be onto something, and just knowing that stage is nearing our household scares me.

Quoting another source, a Focus on the Family interview a few years ago really caught my attention, enough that I remember the message, if not the messenger. It said that when your child is a toddler, you are her role model; she'll model the behaviors she sees in you. When your child is pre-teen, you become her coach; you show her right from wrong and how to do what's right. But, when your child is a teenager, you become somewhat an observer; you can give all the advice in the world, but you are still on the sidelines, watching. In other words, you better get your message across loud and clear before the pubescent-deafness-to-parents sets in.

I've taken that message to heart when it comes to modesty and my daughters. It's hard, so hard, to fight fashion trends when they don't fit with your faith system. That fight is made easier when your family and your child is surrounded by positive role models and other families and children who agree with your views.

Then, there is the battle between being proud of your body and having a positive self-esteem, but balancing that with drawing a line about what is for public view.

And one more battle, and it's a big one: the EPIC battle between mothers and daughters when it comes to clothes.

Listing all these battle lines makes me even more grateful I married the man I did. No disrespect to single moms, because I know you can handle it too, but I'm grateful I have backup, and my back-up has experience as a middle school teacher to make the words out of his mouth ring true.

Thus became this year's "Daddy's Shorts Rule". Simply put, shorts may not be shorter than they are wider. If you are shopping for shorts, grab a pair of the same size. Turn one sideways. If it is wider than it is long, put it back and forget it.

It makes sense. It's so simple. It's objective. It's measurable. It's applicable to skirts. Why didn't I think of it two years ago?!

I can't even begin to tell you how many battles the Daddy's Shorts Rule has saved me this summer, and, by my estimations, for summers to come. Katie and Maggie went all over the mall today, pointing out shorts that didn't meet Daddy's Shorts Rule and tsking at those ladies wearing contraband shorts.

Now, I'm not so naive to think my daughter(s) aren't going to battle us on clothes in the coming years, or maybe try to sneak out wearing things that wouldn't meet our approval. And I'm certainly not judging the girls that are wearing the short-shorts now, because when I had the legs for it, I was right there with you. But, maybe my girls will wear shorts that are 5 inches long instead of 4. Maybe they'll wear shirts to concerts, instead of bikini tops. Maybe this coaching team has set some ground rules while their ears are still open. And maybe one-tenth of what we are saying will stick long enough to make it through puberty. Maybe modesty will still matter.

At least we're giving it our best shot.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Better times ahead

Things were just starting to get easier, until I picked up today's mail and found a handful of big, unexpected bills. Ick.

But, then I glanced over at the dance class schedule, the one I used to explain to Katie why she can't do dance class during religion. I scribbled on it this message, a hand-me-down from my high school track coach:

1. Family
2. God
3. School/Work
4. Extras

Then, I picked up our family calendar, and the page it was on said:
"Lord, show us the Father and it will be enough for us." --St. Philip at the Last Supper
 And...
"Love God, serve God; everything is in that." -- St. Clare of Assisi

So, maybe things aren't so bad. Maybe I just need to have a little more faith, be a little more patient. God knows I lack patience; I just wish there was a faster way to learn how to be patient. *snicker snicker*

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Clothes

I have four daughters. Girls wear a lot of clothes. I am cheap. We love hand-me-downs. I'm a bit OCD.We were missing clothes. I start a new job in a week, and school in less than a month. Those are just few of my excuses why our living room looked like this:
Before, aka all the girls clothes in one room.
I needed to tackle this job a few months ago. I knew we were missing clothes that would fit Natalie right now, but I had no idea it was so many. All of these were stuffed in Lainie's closet, since she had just outgrown them last fall, after I started school:
Natalie's found clothes that fit now
And so we I started sorting. 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 12 month summer, 12 month winter, 18 month summer... on up to size 1 in juniors. It took three evenings, but it's worth it. At the start, it looked like this:
The mountain to tackle

By the end of the first night, I had the clothes sorted and bagged from newborn to size 2. These are the hardest sizes, because you can't just eyeball a onesie and know if it's 3-6 months or 6-9 months. Each tag needed to be read.

End of Day 1
As I finished a size, I labeled the 18-gallon tub and moved it to the foyer. Suffice it to say, I'm grateful we didn't have any surprise guests this week.

End of Day 1
On night two, I tackled sorting the rest of the clothes. I knew I needed to buy more tubs, since I had at least 5 trash bags of clothes that needed a more bug-proof home. But, I needed to know how many tubs to buy before heading to town the next morning. That forced a deadline on me, making me finish all the sorting before bedtime. Doesn't size 10 look so pretty, all folded and stacked? (Yes, I really am that OCD.)

Size 10s
Before I packed up the 6s, 7s, 8s, and 10s, Katie and Maggie had a clothes-changing marathon. I might think they are size 6x but they might actually be size 8. This is by far the girls' favorite part.

Maggie's fit-now clothes

I also sorted out clothes that don't fit our girls' body type, or the size doesn't match their age. For example, we love Dora the Explorer, but by the time they grow into a size 7, they don't want anything Dora anymore. Some of these, I had just over-bought at garage sales. (I have a tendency to buy any girls jeans that don't have holes in the knees; it's bound to fit one of my daughters eventually. As a result, I had way to many toddler sized jeans.) Thus, the donation pile: three bags full, headed to Lighthouse for Christ.

The donate pile.

It's been two years since I organized the girls' clothes. With the craziness of this past year, I did not keep up with the organization. When clothes went off-season or were out-grown, they got stuffed in bags and put in closets. But now, order has resumed.
After. All the clothes in tubs, sorted and tagged.

Now, when it starts turning cold again, someday, or Lainie hits another growth spurt, I can just grab the next tub of clothes, remove the stuff from her dresser and exchange it with stuff that fits and is season appropriate. It might seem like a little thing, but to a busy mom, it is bliss.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grilled Dessert

I made a dessert with the girls tonight, one that I would never eat but they seemed to love. It came from this month's Family Fun magazine. I have an aversion to bananas and chocolate, so there is no way I'd like this one: As easy and cheap as it is to make, though, I thought it was worth a try.
  1. Slice a peeled banana length-wise. Place the banana on a piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Add marshmallows and chocolate chunks in the sliced banana.
  3. Wrap it up tight and grill it on medium for 5 minutes, or until nice and gooey.
But what do the in-house critics think? A picture is worth a thousand words:

Note the chocolate stuck on her teeth

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quotes from the weekend

From Katie, while watching people fan themselves in a hot movie theatre (the a/c was broken): "I think those people must all be from the city."

From Lainie, singing her version of the K-State fight song: "Fight for K-State Wildcats. For all the mothers, fight! Fight! Fight!"

From Maggie: "What do you think I should be when I grow up? I think I'd like to design shoes."

And one more from Katie: "When I grow up, I think I'll be an astronaut. And then I'll become President of the United States, because I'll be famous from being an astronaut. Then, after that, I'll design clothes. Because, who wouldn't want to buy clothes from an astronaut president."

From Lainie, making up a song in Target: "Diapers and jelly beans, diapers and jelly beans, crackers and new shirts and diapers and jelly beans."

Last but not least, from Natalie, on the way home: "Is dat God's moon?"

Yes, Natalie. Yes, it is. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Science of Fireworks

Sometimes being a lazy mama pays off. Last night, Katie and Maggie were asking SO many questions about fireworks instead of just enjoying the show. So, I gave them assignments today to answer their own questions. Best of all, I got the answers without doing the work.

Maggie's assignment was to find out why we celebrate the 4th of July. She explained, "A long time ago, 13 states fought a war to be independent from Great Britain. And it was a great war. That's why we celebrate."

Katie's was more scientific, to explain how they get the fireworks to be different colors:


Fireworks

Today I’m going to tell you about fire works. Last night I thought you would just have to put paint and food coloring in a firework to make the color but it is a lot more complicated than that. For starters it includes a lot of chemistry and science. Many firework colors are from burning metal salts. The 2 main things in fireworks to produce there colors are incandescence and Luminescence. Incandescence produces colors like red orange and yellow. The hotter it gets the lighter and brighter it gets. So when It turns hot it can be yellow or white.  Luminescence on the other hand makes the fire works green or blue. To make the green fireworks there has to be chlorine in the firework. For blue fireworks there has to be more copper chloride in the firework. For better colors the fireworks have to be more expensive for an example just for the color green there is Barium compounds + chlorine producer barium chloride, BaCI+= bright green that is a lot of stuff in one firework!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cleaning 101


If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then why does cleaning with kids bring out the worst in me? Overheard in our house during today’s cleaning sweep:

“Why in the world is there duct tape and Jenga in this bag?”

“Maggie, quit reading.”

“Katie, it’s cleaning; not interior decorating.”

“Mo-ooom, Natalie messed up my stuff again!”

“Maggie, quit reading.”

“Mom, can you help me?”

“Look, Mommy! I made the beds ALL by myself!”

“Huh. I wondered where that went.”

“It’s no fair! She has less to do than me!”

“It’s no fair! I got all the hardest jobs!”

“I do it! I do it!”

But three hours later, our list is done enough to head to the pool. The jury is still out as to whether it’s easier to just do the work myself, or fight the fight to teach the girls how to clean. Someday it’ll pay off, right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Maggie-isms

My Maggie. Oh, me-oh, my- my Maggie is going to make me turn grey early. Hardly a day goes by that she doesn't either try my patience, test my parenting, or make me laugh aloud. Here's just a typical week in Maggie's world:

*****

Tonight at bedtime, we read "Going on a Bear Hunt," which ends with the family shutting the door, running upstairs, and pulling the covers over their head. After reading this delightful children's book, Maggie follows up with, "If I was that family, I'd pull out my shotgun and shoot that bear to make sure it doesn't come into my room."

*****

Today, we had a painting day for 4-H projects for the fair. The girls involved selected such lovely scenes to paint: a farm with a red barn, a pasture with two horses, a beautiful sunset... and a volcano. Guess which girl is painting a volcano, "with bright orange rivers of fiery lava flowing down the sides and a big mean ash cloud!" Yep, that's my Maggie.

*****

Yesterday, Maggie had an Alexander kind of day. You know, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. She had just lost the privilege of playing at her friend's house and was going home to pick cherry tomatoes with dad. From the backseat of the car, in the sweetest voice you can imagine, I heard:

"Mommy, can I have a restart for this day and just start over again?"

"Yes, Maggie. I think that'd be a very good idea."

"Mommy, since the day is just starting, can I go play at C's house now?"

Ya... that's a negative there, Einstein.

*****

I went shopping with Maggie for her 4-H outfit last week. We knew she was going to wear a new pair of jeans, because, according to Maggie, "after analyzing my wardrobe, I need new jeans that don't have holes in the knees." So, the only difficult part was going to pick out a shirt. Maggie set her eyes on a bright pink shirt with some funky lace bottom and a silver crown on it. It's not my favorite, and the 4-H judge will have plenty to dislike about the bottom cut. So, the rest of the shopping day went like this:

"Maggie, do you like this one?"

"Sure... but not as much as the pink-shimmery-cool-lace-crown shirt."

Repeat ad infinitum.

*****

She drives me nuts, but I know she'll stick to her guns, no matter how much pressure others put on her. Now, if only I can establish a strong enough value system before her friends' influence out-weighs ours. We can only hope, anyway.

And I love her, just the way she is.


Don't let the smile fool you. She was screeching about every single weed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Home School Summer School

All those ads -- and listening to all the teachers in my family -- convinced me to try a home-school summer school this summer. Lainie needs to work on reading, Maggie and Lainie need to work on fine motor skills (especially writing) and Katie and Maggie wanted to work on math facts. Natalie? She just wants to be big, too.

Thanks to help from some friends and family, it wasn't too hard to find resources. Some of my favorite are Handwriting Without Tears, especially their worksheet templates, and Math Drills. Then, thanks to workbooks, coloring books and activity books we've collected over the years, I had plenty of theme-related activities, age appropriate for each of them.

Last week's theme was gardening. AKA, mama's lazy. Maggie had 6 vocabulary words (thanks to the Handwriting without Tears template) and had to write a sentence after each word. The words were garden, plants, vegetables, pollen, roots, and stem. And her sentences made me laugh:
  1. Daddy has a garden.
  2. It has lots of plants!
  3. Its vegetables are great!
  4. It has no pollen.
  5. Some vegetables are roots.
  6. Tomatoes grow on the leaves, and the leeks are connected to the stem.
Lainie had three words -- tomato, peas, and carrots -- and had to draw a picture of each.

Katie had a worksheet of cursive words to write, because she wanted to practice her cursive, and had to write a paper about what she senses in the garden. Here's her version:
When I'm in the garden, I smell work and tomatoes. I hear the leaves rustling in the wind. I feel fuzzy leaves and smooth ones, too. I taste delicious tomatoes and sweet carrots. I see my dad working, so I do, too.
And Natalie colored a picture of a flower, and was proud.

We all really, truly are enjoying this home-school summer school. It gives the girls something to do right after breakfast, and it makes them kick-start their brains for the day. It shows me how much Maggie does not like math, and how dedicated and determined Katie and Lainie are at their handwriting. It dedicates a certain part of the day to family time, when we are all in the same room, working in the same space. And it lets me give each girl attention, even if it's only for a minute at a time.

I wish someone had suggested this years ago.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nurse Linda and other randomness

It's official, as of last week. I am an LPN. Now that I've got the initials and that special license number, I am so excited and anxious to get to work and use and practice these skills. And by that, I mean at a location other than my house. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~

Maggie loves rock and roll. Her personality, at least at home, IS rock and roll. I don't mind her listening and learning the classics, like AC/DC or Queen. But, when she started requesting newer rock songs with lyrics I don't want to explain, I decided we needed to change things up a bit.

So, I started turning it to a Christian radio station, added it to our presets on the car radio, and turned it there when our favorite local station was "talking and stuff." Until recently, the only modern Christian songs I had heard were boring, endlessly repeating the same five words, all with the same musical interludes. The new-to-us stuff, though, is actually entertaining. Mercy Me is the girls' favorites and is ranking right up there with Taylor Swift.


I knew the switch had worked when today, Maggie asked for the "Rock and Roll Christian" music. And, she started singing:
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You're beautiful
Now, that is music to this mom's ears, and a welcome improvement over cheating boyfriends and ugly girlfriends.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy Father's Day to everyone! I think Jay got shorted a bit this Father's Day, but that's been the theme for this year: keep it simple and cheap.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Natalie-New

Natalie is a bruiser; she's a monkey and a bruiser. I swear a day doesn't go by that she doesn't get a new bruise or three. Unfortunately, her head and face seem to be taking the brunt of it lately. Take today, for example:
This morning, she ran into the drawer knob in our dining room and gave herself a shiner (left eye). She slid out of her chair after breakfast, hit her chin and bit her lip. This afternoon, she was climbing UP to reach something and hit her nose on the countertop, leaving a red/scrape down the top of it. And still, she's smiling.

I used to be one of those moms who, when hearing stories of kids getting all sorts of bumps and bruises and injuries, would think, "Gee, why don't they just child-proof their house and learn to tell their child 'no'." Now, I get it. We can tell her no, we do have it child-proofed...ish. But, this is one determined child. This is the girl who will carry the step stool, which is as big as she is, from the bathroom to the laundry room, just so she can try to help put laundry in the washer. If we don't have a step stool handy, she'll push her Dora car and stand on it. If the cars are all put away, she'll dump the laundry basket upside down and stand on it. Determined, with a capital D.

And so, I apologize to any mom that I previously thought could better protect their child. Natalie has just served me an ample piece of humble pie.

Natalie is not only a bruiser, she's also a freak...at least when it comes to her diet. The girl loves the strangest, non-toddler foods. Her favorites include salsa, fried okra, fresh peas, fried chicken liver, tomatoes, pickled okra, green tabasco-and-horseradish sauce*, plain hamburger, turnips, and radishes. Every time I give her a new food expecting a funny face, she downs it and sweetly says, "More?" Her sisters were most disgusted with her love of liver, because that means I finally have someone to eat it with.

*Why did we, er, I feed her tabasco and horseradish sauce? They were selling at the Manhattan Farmers Market last weekend and giving out samples, and Miss Natalie was quite insistent that she get a sample of a chip WITH the sauce. So, thinking it would be a good way for her to learn that Mommy says "no" for a reason, I gave her a taste, with her juice cup handy. Alas, no need for juice. Not even a squished up nose. Nope, the girl ate it, smiled, and asked for more. The only funny face I saw was from the vendor, as his jaw dropped.

I guess, on the bright side, she's certainly making an impression!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Feeling better

I don't know if it is the nap Saturday afternoon or the sermon about being put in the flame to strengthen my faith or going to confession or getting in some study time or a good Farmers Market Saturday or some quality girl time, but I'm feeling much better about things.

Natalie feels all better, even if she looks worse. Poor girl ran into the handle on a drawer and gave herself a shiner. I know, I know... she inherited her gracefulness from me. She was probably the highlight of my weekend, when this morning she kept singing a song and then striking an end pose, and holding the pose until we would applaud. Then, she'd make a loop in the house and do it all over again. At two, she's already mastering her end pose -- I think we're in trouble.

Lainie is no worse for wear, after her week. My gosh, was that really just this past week! Looking back, I'd say it took until Saturday for her to be completely caught up on her sleep. This morning, she woke up happy and rested and full of energy and songs. Oh my, was she full of songs! The favorite of the morning, "Fire Truck! Fire Truck! I want to ride in a Fire Truck!" I'm not sure where she learned that song but here's hoping it doesn't come true.

Maggie and Katie may have seemed forgotten in all the hubbub, but really I think they are just getting used to weird things happening.

Up this week, The Test. My NCLEX aka nursing state boards aka test to get my LPN license is Wednesday morning. That's the center of our schedule this week. Around there, we also have 4-H Art-In on Tuesday morning, a ballgame Tuesday night, two Farmers Markets on Wednesday and Saturday, and that's it... at least for required attendance.

But, all that seems a feasible, less insurmountable, than it did just two days ago. For that, I am grateful.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In just one week

Sometimes seven days can feel like seventy. The past week has been intense, to say the least.

Was it just last Wednesday that we had the tornado warning? The scary clouds overhead? Crazy amount of water?

And last Saturday (or was it Sunday) when we realized that the carpet was wet in the basement living room and a bedroom? Apparently, the water seeped up through a crack in the floor.

Then there was Monday night/Tuesday morning, when we/I kept Lainie up until midnight, then got her up at 4 a.m. Then, drove to Kansas City for her EEG. You can tell I'm getting more used to this, because this time I brought my camera:
At 11:20 p.m. She loved the late night!

Right before the EEG. Sleep deprived but happy to get to borrow sister's hat.
During the EEG. She was amazingly calm and patient.
 The prayer request was that the EEG would show no abnormal activity. Or, if that's not God's will, that we can have God's grace to accept what is the result and that Lainie would not be afraid. Two out of three isn't bad. Lainie wasn't scared at all, and based on what I saw during and immediately after the EEG, I was prepared for the bad news. The EEG shows "significant spikes in the left frontal lobe" so her brain is still a bit too charged; in other words, the risk for seizures is still elevated. The neurologist we saw after the EEG did not elicit confidence or trust, to put it lightly, so we are not following his recommendation to "stop her medication anyway" and are waiting to talk to her neurologist in two weeks.

That day, Jay also took Mags to see her allergy and asthma specialist. Their appointment wasn't as fruitful, but they did say her lung function has improved dramatically, compared to before she started the Advair. They still aren't sure what's going on with the sugar stuff, as he says kids can't have an actual allergy to sugar/sucrose. But, as he said before, if we see a negative response when she eats sugar, then don't give her sugar. We will try to reintroduce milk again this summer, but not right now. We've got enough going right now.

And we thought that'd be the worst of the week. True, we still have one girl at Pioneer Camp for five days, and two girls at VBS for five days, and two nights of softball and two days of Farmers Market. But, Natalie had other plans.

Wednesday night I told her and her sisters to head upstairs to bed while I finished up the last of our supper dishes. I heard her take two steps up, then a crash. That's not anything unusual; our girls are accident prone. But, as I came around the corner, I saw her try to take a step toward me and her legs gave out. Then she started to just whimper and her arms were just limp. I picked her up (probably shouldn't have) and then laid her down on the carpet. She still wasn't moving her arms or one leg, and wasn't crying, so I was worried that she had messed up her spinal cord or neck or something...she just wasn't right. I couldn't think of a way to get her to the hospital while securing her neck, since Jay wasn't home, so I called the ambulance. Yep, Nat gets the distinguished honor of being the first (and hopefully only) family member to ride in the ambulance. Our wonderful! neighbor drove up to stay with Maggie and Lainie, and I went with Natalie to the hospital.

By the time we got there, Jay and Walleta were there (gotta love word of mouth and facebook). Natalie was moving her arms and legs by then, but wasn't crying out, wasn't fighting the neck brace or straps holding her down, so I was still worried. Thankfully, about the time they were taking her down the hall for a CT scan, she got mad and started to cry. The CT Scan was clear, and she was sent home with diagnosis of concussion.

So, every two hours, we (I) got her up overnight and made sure she was still okay. In between wake-ups, she didn't want to sleep much, so it was a very sleepless night. Today, she got more active as the day went on, but she still complained of a headache and she didn't like the loud music at VBS when we picked up sisters. But, all's well that end's well. I just wish I knew how she fell, and how such a small fall could hurt that much.

I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I have the NCLEX in 6 days. I can't study Saturday morning, Sunday morning, or Tuesday morning. But, thanks to friends, I can study tomorrow and Monday, especially. And you can bet your bottom I'll be studying every spare minute I can.


So, self: no more blogging! Get back to the ATI and NCLEX review!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And the pendelum swings back...

You know how before we were having such an amazing string of good luck, good fortune, and charity? Well, it is feeling like the pendulum is swinging back the other way.

Now, I'll be the first to say we've been very, very fortunate. With the series of severe storms that have passed overhead in the past seven days, we are lucky to have our house -- much less all six high tunnels -- still standing. Serious rotation overhead, 8+ inches of rain in less than 7 hours, crazy-large hail to the south of us that died out before it got to us.... ya, we know we're lucky.
Flooding down the hill

But (in chronological order)...
  • the lettuce all got some sort of slime and all 40 or so lettuce heads had to be harvested and trashed
  • the salad mix all turned bitter, so it all needs torn out and trashed
  • all the radishes and most of the turnips bolted, so they are no longer harvested, so even less to sell at the markets
  • some of the Bok Choy also bolted, leaving it only harvestable for our own use
  • the aphids "found" the bok choy, so the aphid battle continues, and
  • the icing on the cake...we thought we only had one itty bitty little wet spot on the south side of the basement from all that rain. Instead, tonight we discovered the rain water that had seeped up into the carpet in two rooms of the basement. 
So, tonight and tomorrow, we are moving out those two rooms and getting the carpet outside. On the bright side, we'll be able to use Jay's low tunnel arches to drape the carpet and let it dry out without getting all buggy.

Add to that the expected stresses for a family of six on one and a half incomes, Lainie's medical testing in two days, and my NCLEX in 10 days...and I am needing to remember how wonderful things were a couple months ago.

Or, I can pull a Scarlet O'Hara and at least try to worry about it tomorrow. Because today, there are giggles to hear.
Pool time! The girls are so excited about their perfect, new swimsuits that someone anonymously gave us. Thank you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last Day of School

Waiting to go to Walleta's

Practicing "Pool Time!"

Last day of school pose

My new favorite photo!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unnecessary stressing


We decided to send Lainie to kindergarten. I’m not sure who is happier about that: Lainie or us.

Then, after we made that decision, a dear friend pointed out to me that I read the kindergarten assessment letter incorrectly. What I thought was the minimum level is actually the median score. She scored above the recommended level to go to kindergarten! We aren't bucking the system sending her; we are doing what the assessment said was right. Quite a jump from the assessment we heard back in February, when she was behind in so many areas. She still has a need for improvement, but she has improved so much already.  That girl of ours works her tail off, and I couldn’t be more proud!

It’s a big week around here, the Last. Week. Of. School. That’s exciting for any family with kids in school, but it’s even more so when your spouse is a teacher. My honey-do list is nice and long and detailed. :) But even better, we are going to get reacquainted as a family. More family time, more sleeping in (in theory!), less running around and more time at home; that’s the goal.

Not that we won’t be running some. Katie and Maggie are in softball; Katie has Pioneer Camp; Katie, Maggie and Lainie have vacation bible school and Totus Tuus; K, M, & L have swimming lessons; 4-H projects are underway; the great reading program at our local library; all of us girls want some pool time; doctor visits and tests; and of course we have four or more Farmers Markets each week.

I also plan on a home-schooled summer school for at least my two Middles. They both still need to work on hand-writing and math, and I think we can do it in a fun way. I’m picturing the five of us sitting down at the table, Natalie with her colors, Lainie and Maggie with pencil/paper, and Katie with her educational Web sites. I know the picture in my head isn’t likely to match reality, but it’s a nice dream.

But right now, I’m just dreaming of the weekend, our first weekend of summer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Debate: To send or to wait


The debate continues in our house, whether or not Lainie is ready for kindergarten. Some days I think yes and Jay thinks no. Other days Jay thinks yes and I think no. One educator says yes, another says no, a doctor says yes, a therapist says no. Back and forth, yes or no, snippets of so many conversations and evaluations running through my head. “I’ve never heard of anyone regretting holding them back.” “She doesn’t learn at a gradual pace; she makes big jumps at a time.” “Twenty-five kids in a class is a lot; she could get lost in that group.” “She’s age appropriate in this level and this level and this level…”

Tonight, I decided to ask her if she wanted to go to kindergarten or preschool. She thought for a minute, then asked, “Will Kindergarten be hard?” “Yes,” I answered her. “It will be very hard for you. Preschool would be fun, and kindergarten will be hard. What do you want to do?” “I want to go to Kindergarten, Mommy.”

And after that conversation, she was the happiest girl all night long. She was talking in full sentences, she was doing chores and following directions, and she was taking turns with her sisters and helping her baby sis.She was, is, happy.

How much weight do I put on what she wants? She is “only” five. But, when Katie was a month past her third birthday, she cried and cried to go to preschool, so we signed her up and she started in October. If we let a three-year-old Katie dictate her schooling at that age, shouldn’t we listen to a five-year-old Lainie?

One of the most compelling arguments for me is how hard it could be on her, emotionally, if she needs to retake kindergarten. From what I’m seeing and hearing, redoing preschool would be just as hard on her heart as two years of kindergarten. So, why not let her press on and push her? She’s worked hard and diligently to get this far. Why should next year be any different? 

But if Kindergarten is hard, will she decide she doesn't like school and carry that attitude throughout? Will she dread when the bus shows up? Will her classmates alienate her for talking differently? Would another year make a difference in any of those categories?

Oh, this is one of those times I wish someone else would make the parenting decisions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So much!

I had to ignore the blog, put it on the back burner, to get through those last crazy weeks of school. So, no post about Lainie's 5th birthday. No post about the Katie's and Maggie's music programs and activities. No post about Natalie's move to the big girl bed. And no post about graduation... except to say all those things happened and were good. Very good.

Now, it's transition time. We have to transition back to a two-person parenting style, where we both parent at the same time instead of tag-teaming it. We have to transition to me taking over the household duties that we had been sharing. I will transition into my summer job, working on the garden, knowing Jay is still the decision-maker in that avenue. But probably the toughest transition will be getting used to all six of us home, every day, together, for two wonderful months.

That's a lot of family time for us, and it's sad to say that's not the norm. Obviously that isn't our norm, since we all head our separate ways, to school and work and daycare. Already the girls have had more sister-time than usual, and there have been plenty of arguments because of it. So far, I've been letting them just work it out on their own, no matter how loud it gets, as long as it doesn't turn physical. I'm not sure that's the best approach, but it's my approach. Natalie can definitely hold her own, so the baby doesn't need babying. It's good practice for Lainie and Maggie, making them work on their speech. If anyone needs defending, it's Katie, because she'll concede defeat, give up what was rightfully hers, just to keep the peace. So, even she can use the practice of standing up for herself.

Jay jokes that he has six high tunnels because there are six people in our family: everyone gets a high tunnel. I will bet that by the end of the summer, we will have used that our advantage. "Katie, go to building A. Maggie, go to building B. Weed it and pick it and don't come out until you lose your attitude."

Speaking of attitude, we have a new favorite break-the-mood saying: "Lose your atti-toot-ee. It's stinks."

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Two-Year-Olds

It amazes me how different our girls are, even when you compare them at the same age. Just for fun, I scanned in their two-year-old portraits today. What a difference!


Katie

Maggie

Lainie
Natalie
And what I remember from each of these pictures is as different as the pictures themselves.

Katie loved to cheese for the camera and taking her in for pictures was (and is) a breeze. Maggie didn't want to smile but would stand there and wait as long a book was in sight. Lainie didn't want to stand still, hence the bribes of flower petals and the "about-to-take-off" pose. And Natalie? She threw up about 5 minutes before this picture was taken. So, like any good fourth-timer who had just driven 45 minutes to get pictures taken, I assumed it was just car-sickness, changed her clothes and put her in front of the camera. (And, no, she didn't throw up any more that day.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Patience Cup

During Holy Thursday Mass, Father was talking about the many blessings that God gives us and how difficult it can be to see those blessings when we are so busy, so overcome with the day to day tasks. I smiled contently, thinking of my blessings, the three little ones at home with Jay (which was a blessing in itself, not fighting them through mass) and the one little blessing sitting on the altar as a server. And I almost laughed aloud, thinking how just a few hours earlier, I wasn't feeling so blessed.

Thus became The Patience Cup.

By 6 p.m. Thursday night, my patience was gone and I had resorted to yelling. Katie was really hurt by this, saying she didn't do anything wrong. So, I showed her this cup and told her to imagine that this cup is my patience. Then I drew the first line:
"That first line? That shows how much patience Natalie used up, by screaming from the moment I picked her up at daycare until the moment she went to bed...with just a few exceptions. She used up that much of my patience all by herself."

"The second line? That's how much patience Maggie used up, with her screaming tantrums and throwing fits every time I asked her to do anything. Even picking up her own shoes resulted in a fit. So, she used up that much more of my patience."

"That left this little area for you (Katie) and Lainie to share, just a little bit of my patience left. And, although you weren't being bad, the constant 'Mommy, look here!' 'Mommy, I need this!' 'Mommy, she touched me!' 'Mommy! Hurry up with supper! We're going to be LATE!' used up the remaining little bit of patience until my patience cup exploded:"

"And it's never pretty when a Patience Cup explodes. So, I promise to do my best to not let my Patience explode if you could please just walk away for a few minutes when it looks like the cup is getting full. Okay? Sometimes all it takes is 60 seconds of quiet to restore the Patience Cup."

The lesson must have sunk in a little, because I've probably been asked a dozen times today, "How's your patience cup doing, Mommy?" Gotta love that girl of mine!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Closing Shop

I'm feeling overwhelmed. Nothing major is going on, but lots of minor events are. A little bit here, a little bit there, and suddenly it feels like we are spiralling out of control. (I know... am I really that busy if I'm taking the time to blog? Well, I have no excuse.)

Tonight, I did some visualization to try to calm my racing thoughts, and it worked. I imagined standing in a house full of windows, and each window had a set of shutters on it. I walked to each window, looked at the task or responsibility in that window, and then decided whether to leave the shutters open or close it for now. Need to call someone back, just for fun? Shut the shutters. "Mom, my jeans are dirty and I need them tomorrow." Shutters stay open. "We need to order shirts for this summer." Shutters closed. Clinicals in 8 hours and need to know the drugs I'll be administering. Shutters open. When I can close half the shutters, the remaining half don't seem so insurmountable.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beef Marinade and Chicken & Pasta

Saturday was a laid-back day for us, so I did some experimenting with recipes. Both creations were really tasty.

For lunch, I grilled tri-tip steak marinated in balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, and teryaki sauce. That marinade smelled so good, I just about wanted to drink it...but that would be over the top, don't you think? Served with grilled pineapple and steamed rice.

For supper, we had a pasta creation. It's a combination of four different recipes, and it was rich but delicious.

Pasta & Chicken & Schtuff

  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3 slices of bacon, diced
  • 4 leeks, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6-7 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta of your choice
  1. In a large skillet, saute bacon and leeks until bacon is crisp and leeks are softened. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet. Add chicken and saute until cooked thoroughly, about 10 minutes.
  3. (Now's a good time to start the pasta cooking.)
  4. While chicken is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir in two tablespoons flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Add 1 cup milk to the flour mixture, stirring continuously until all lumps are gone. 
  6. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese into white sauce. Cook on medium until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.
  7. Now back to the chicken skillet. Remove chicken from pan, putting it with the bacon and leeks. 
  8. Melt1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Add mushrooms and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Return the bacon, leeks and chicken to the skillet. Stir together.
  10. Pour the white sauce over the chicken mixture. Stir.
  11. Serve over the pasta.

They'll be days like this

This week was definitely a busy, up-and-down roller coaster. We had the usual: 2 days of clinicals, 3 days of lecture, 2 trips to Manhattan for speech, 1 trip to Abilene for food pick-up, 2 nights of dance, 1 night of religion, and a whole lotta gardening. (Hmm, that list makes me question where our priorities are...but that's a thought for another day.) Add to the usual, Katie's art night and Katie's fine arts program, and it was just going to be busy.

So, to make things more exciting, my brother flipped his car on Wednesday afternoon. He ended up with only 4 staples in his head, but no broken bones and one totaled car. (I am responsible for him up here and was the go-to person to get him through the crisis.) My mom has been/is sick with something to do with her gall bladder and made a trip to the hospital for that. And, Lainie added excitement with her own minor complication.

But, on the bright side, Katie had a really good week, with quite a few self-esteem-saturating successes. Maggie was a super-duper helper and just a joy to be around this week, and Natalie's two-ness wasn't near as intense as weeks past. I also got good news and wrapped up some portions of my nursing stuff, and finished half of my microbiology course, which is as far ahead as I can work.

It's easy to be happy and thankful when things are going smooth as silk. It gets tougher when there are obstacles in the road. When too many pebbles coagulate, they become one big mountain that seems insurmountable. And this week, we had lots of pebbles.

What made the mountain manageable is the amazing friends we have here. When Anthony had his wreck, I was waiting for Maggie to get off the bus so we could go pick up Natalie and then Katie. In 3 minutes and 3 phone calls, we had someone taking responsibility for each of the girls, not only to watch them, but even to feed them and get K&M to religion as planned. Amazing. Just humbling-ly amazing. Proof that, together, we can move mountains.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next week is going to be just as busy, but hopefully no pebbles get in our path. Three days lecture, 1 test, 2 days clinicals, 5 days teaching (Jay!), 5 days gardening (Jay!), 2 trips to Manhattan for speech, 2 nights of dance, 1 night of religion, plus Maggie's fine arts program, K&M's spring dance dress rehearsal and spring recital on Sunday, and a 10K and 2 tests to study for me.

Between last week's craziness and next week's craziness is one beautiful weekend, full of outside time, garden planting, a trip to the zoo, and family time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lainie Update

We had Lainie's appointment with her neurologist this week in Kansas City, and were very happy with the results. He is happy with the progress that she's made, and we are still planning to do a repeat EEG this summer. If the EEG does not show any irregular activity, then she'll wean off her anti-seizure medication. That's the hope, since the medicine has the potential for some serious side effects and any time we can stop medication, we will. But, if she need it, if the EEG is still abnormal, then she'll stay on the medication and be thankful for our safety net.

I realize more and more I am getting frustrated with the stuff she doesn't know or doesn't remember or won't tell us. I wish I knew how much to push her, how much to let it go, how much to force her out of her comfort zone, how much to protect her. Then again, that wish is not limited to Lainie. That wish goes for all my girls. That is probably the knowledge wished for by all mothers for all time. How can we be the best moms for our children, let them be babies, let them be kids, but help them grow up strong and independent?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Potato planters

Differences

In twenty years, Katie and Natalie will sit down and realize how very, very different their childhoods were. I know it's bad when I can see it already.

For instance, Katie, Maggie, and Lainie were all out of the crib at or near their second birthday, mostly because a little sister was on the way and the crib needed to be vacated. Natalie loves to lay down on the big bed, but I just don't want to mess with it. She goes to bed so easy now and I'm afraid it would be too much to try to get her to stay in a toddler bed when I'm trying to cram for a test or finish a homework assignment. And so, she's still in the crib, at least until this summer.

On the flip side, in some ways she is growing up faster than her sisters. Tonight, Natalie was outside with a small bucket of potatoes, helping plant 10 short rows before the rain came. With her older sisters, I would have worried about it being too cold or too late or too hard or of course she can't do it! Now, we treat her the same as her sisters, or else she lets us know her displeasure, in a very loud, vocal way.

I think some differences in upbringing are okay, like freedom on the playground and extra babying now and then. But when it comes to rights-of-passage, like when you get your ears pierced or when you have your first sleepover or permission to date, I'm adamant that they all reach those milestones at the same age.

Then again, maybe I better write that one in pencil. Ask me again in 15 years.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break Sibling Sweetness

Maggie (to Lainie): You are NOT the boss of ME!
Lainie: Am too.
Maggie: You are NOT the BOSS of ME, Bossiest Bossy!
Lainie: I am TOO the Boss. You are only FIVE!
Maggie: I am NOT five, I am seven!
Lainie: Oh. Well, then. Here you go. (giving up whatever toy started the fight.)
And peaceful playful bliss returned!

~~~~~~~

Today we were in the basement when Jay calmly announced, "Building C is airborne." Building C is one of our high tunnels, and the east side was in fact taking off, like a big, giant, expensive kite. Jay took off running, and I followed, pausing just long enough to say, "Maggie, you're in charge. Watch your sisters."

And so, while I held onto the east side of the building and Jay reattached and re-secured what the crazy Kansas winds had undone, Maggie was in charge, babysitting of sorts.

I was more than a little anxious when I returned to the basement, but my anxiety immediately changed to amazement. Maggie had Lainie in the chair next to her and Natalie on her lap, and the three of them were peacefully playing on www.starfall.com.  "I'm teaching them how to read," Maggie said. Proceed! Proud moment indeed!