Wednesday, June 29, 2011


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 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 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!