Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Discount Shopping

Just a quick note to the holiday shopping craze. I have a couple of favorite sites I use when internet shopping. First off is retailmenot.com - I find lots of discount codes to use. For example I ordered from JCPenney.com today. Using the code they offered on the cover of their catalog saved me about $25.00, but then I toggled over to retailmenot and found a couple of coupon codes. I tried each one and found that one of the codes saved me $50 on top of my original savings. So that's $75 off of my order. Pretty incredible, I'd say. Not all the codes work so copy down the top 4 or 5 and see what happens. Secondly, I've discovered magazinepricesearch.com - Here I've found magazine subscriptions at deep discounts. For example, I just ordered a subscription for my husband. The shelf price is $4.99. The subscription price on the card in the magazine is $2.13 per issue. I just ordered it for $1.16 an issue. Another great savings.

Happy Shopping!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One of My Favorites

Each deer season we attend deer hunter's mass at a tiny country church near us. The priest always makes his best guess as to how many hosts he'll need to distribute. And each year he over estimates by a few. This brings me to one of my favorite things. Since the church is only used a couple times a year the consecrated hosts can not stay in the tabernacle, therefore after communion he consumes the remaining Body of Christ's. I always peek over to watch my kids' eyes open as big as saucers when he begins eating the consecrated hosts one after another. Not to show any disrespect, but he looks as if he's eating a bowl full of potato chips not wasting even a crumb. I love the yearning look on my kids' faces. Oh, how they wish they were the priest for that tiny moment.

Deer Hunting

Around here deer hunting is just as much a holiday as say Thanksgiving or Christmas. Yesterday was the opener for gun season; the day starts very early, around 4:30 am or so. DH requested I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast, so by 5 am I was saying, "Time to make the donuts". I think that qualifies as my good deed for the week. And for all those who think men and women are equal in all ways, I disagree. Here's why:

See these men, it's 5:30 am and they seem happy to have their picture taken. We all know if I was taking pictures of women at this early time they would be hiding their faces, holding their jacket in front of them or turning away, anything to stay anonymous.

We spent our day at music lessons, Christmas shopping (looking) and ice skating.

Getting in on the hunting fun, too.

Here's to a safe deer season. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Curricula

We're just nine days from Thanksgiving which means a few plans need to be made. We'll be spending the day with my husband's side of the family. I'm to bring pies and mashed potatoes. More about my Thanksgiving food contributions to come in another post. For today, I'd like to share how Lou learned about the first Thanksgiving and the spirit of thankfulness. Have you read Thanksgiving at the Tappletons'? It's a cute story, pointing out that family is the greatest part of Thanksgiving. See, each family member is in charge of a different food for the traditional meal. And each person has their own reason as to why the food didn't make it to the table. Needless to say, the only thing traditional about their Thanksgiving dinner is that it's spent with family. Next I read aloud, The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving. This is a nice book filled with info about the Mayflower, pilgrims, and the first year at Plymouth. Then armed with a pile of supplies including: paper, colored pencils, scissors, glue, old November magazines, and an atlas, she went to town making a poster.

We divided her poster into fourths. On the top left is a drawing of the Mayflower. Do you notice the perspective line? My knowledge of art is improving, thanks to Art Projects For Kids. The explanations there are really helping me to be a better art teacher for my kids. Top right are her drawings of a pilgrim and indian. She struggled with this quite a bit. She was so frustrated with trying to get the right proportion for her pilgrim woman that Lee offered lots of help with the indian. In the bottom left quadrant she searched through magazines looking for traditional Thanksgiving dinner foods and in the bottom right is a tracing of the lower 48 states with Plymouth labeled.

We have plans to make a Thanksgiving garland of some sort tomorrow. I'm thinking we'll cut out leaves from construction paper and then string them along a length of twine. Each night at dinner we'll all write something we are thankful for on a leaf. We'll do this through the month of November. I have a couple more ideas on celebrating Thanksgiving but those'll have to wait; I'm feeling a little under the weather today and best be getting to bed.

What She Won't Be When She Grows Up

Grace: If I'm ever a math teacher, I'll need a whole bottle of Tylenol on my desk.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Little R 'n R

I'll be taking the next four days off from blogging. It's time for a little vacation before the holidays and hunting. Have a great early part of the week.

But before I sign off, here's what happened at our home this morning, November 8. As you can tell it was very early in the morning, about 6:15 to be exact.

The snow has since melted, all except the snowman and lounge chair they made. Although early for a Saturday morning, it was beautiful. I wish I had captured the white glistening on the bare trees.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Just this week I started a "Letter of the Week" theme with Sam. I've noticed his letter recognition is a little, shall I say, lacking. With the other kids it seems we just lived life and they eventually picked up on the letters. I can't say I did anything in particular to actually teach the ABC's. We read alphabet board books and wrote family members' names. Of course we sang the alphabet song and watched enough toddler videos that the letters just became a part of their life. Now, maybe Sam just isn't ready to commit all the ABC's to memory yet. He does sing the alphabet song with only a few mix-ups, but letter recognition isn't his forte. So Monday, I dedicated some time to making a plan of attack. First, I pulled a book from my shelf titled: Learning Through All Five Senses: A Language Development Activity Book by Lois McCue. Twenty five years old and it's still relevant today, unlike my wardrobe from 1983. This book takes each letter in its turn and has activities to go along with it. For the letter A: apple, alligator, animal, action, America.

Apple - he cut an apple with a corer/wedger himself and dipped the slices in peanut butter, mystery smell (sliced apples under a paper towel), I cut an apple in half to reveal the star and he made painted apple prints

Animal - I had animals in a paper bag for him to feel and identify

Action - we made up as many actions as we could (raising our hands, jumping jacks, smiling, clapping, etc.)

America - we looked at the US wall map, found Wisconsin, and listened to and sang "America"

I really like this book, especially the skills that go with each letter. Next week we'll be focusing on the Letter B; he'll butter bread for a snack. For the Letter D I will set up a small dishwashing station for him. Maybe we'll start off with a tea party and then he'll wash and dry the dishes.

To go along with this book I use No Time For Flashcards blog. She has a post for each letter of the alphabet with a couple of cute projects to go with. Today Sam practiced dot painting, cutting, and gluing by making an Alien A.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Distracted by Candy

Today's lesson with Lou was about exchanging one set of coins for another single coin. We started simple with 10 pennies and 1 dime. My plan was to work up to exchanging dimes for 50 cent pieces and nickels for dimes. We never got there because candy won.

Me: A dime is worth 10 cents. A penny is worth 1 cent. 10 pennies is 10 cents, so 10 pennies is the same as 1 dime.

Lou: ok (her eyes were a little hazy)

Me: If you went to a store to buy a piece of candy and it cost 10 cents you could give the clerk....

Lou: How big is the piece of candy?

Me: Big! So you could give the clerk 10 pennies or....

Lou: Like a giant candy bar?

Me: Yes. 10 pennies is the same as 1 dime. You could pay with either....

Lou: Does Wal-mart have 10 cent candy?

Me: Probably not! Now listen. You could pay with either 10 pennies or 1 dime because it's....

Lou: I have 10 cents; I can buy candy.

It's official, Math is now over.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Cuteness

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Reviews

A while back we listened to an audio book titled Frindle by Andrew Clement. So fun. Some how we thought of that book again and found that Clement authored many books. We checked out a pile of audio books and have enjoyed each one better than the last.

A Week in the Woods - a rich city kid moves to a small town and small school. The entire 5th grade looks forward to a week long camping trip each year, but not the new kid...until...well, lots of exciting things happen leading up to the camp out and the climax of the story is when Mark gets lost in the woods and Mr. Maxwell embarks on a search for him.

No Talking - Again 5th graders are at the center of this story where Lindsay and Dave begin a no talking challenge between the girls and boys. The narrator of this story is perfect; he especially reads the chapter, Insults, with such perfection that I almost wet my pants from laughing so hard at his imitation of Lindsay. The kids pit the teachers against each other until the principal steps in and tries to stop the entire challenge, but she ends up with a challenge of her own. Cute story.

Frindle - Mrs. Granger has a reputation for being the toughest English teacher around, but Nick sees it as a challenge. When he tries to stall her to avoid a homework assignment, she doesn't take the bait, but assigns him his very own special assignment, involving the dictionary. That's when the real fun and headaches begin.

We will be checking out more of Clement's audio books not only because they are fun to listen to, but keep the decibel level in the van down, definitely a bonus.

Come Again?

after correcting his math assignment

Lee: Jeez, this is getting boring.

Me: What is?

Lee: Math, I got them all right again.

Diagnosis - STRESS

Labor pains are excruciating, but I've now experienced something worse....neck pain. The achy neck started on Wednesday, the third day of my head cold. I blew it off thinking it was just another ache due to the cold I was experiencing. By Friday night the pain was so intense turning my head was nearly impossible. Fearing the worst, meningitis, I went to urgent care. The physician assistant, after reviewing the nurse's notes, walked in and said, "Are you a type A person, always wanting everything just so?" I shook my head no, but DH shook his head in exactly the opposite way. The PA laughed, checked me over and then started palpating around my occipital ridge, down my neck and across my shoulder. I winced in pain and then came the diagnosis...STRESS. I wanted to argue with him, it must be something more than stress. But I figured if I tried to convince him of that it would just confirm the fact that I want things "just so". I bit my tongue, went off to Walgreens and bought Aspercreme and Menthol Gel, per his suggestion.

It's Sunday now and I'm still not any better. The cremes give a little relief for a while so I can actually stand up and move, but have to be showered away before nursing. The odor is quite strong and burns my eyes, I can't imagine Little J liking it too well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Autumn Beauty

True autumn in Wisconsin lasts only a few short weeks. First we have the cooler, yet sunny, weather which feels wonderful after a hot August. But to me that's not real autumn weather because everything is still so green. Then all at once the leaves start to change, the days become still cooler with a few more clouds. We marvel at all the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows as we look across the marsh or drive to town. We plan all kinds of outdoor activities to help celebrate the season and "get it all in" before the cold of winter sets in.....and then, all of a sudden we wake up one morning and the leaves are blowing in the wind, collecting in piles along the fenceline and edge of the woods. The trees resemble stick figures with a few last crispy leaves hanging on. The air has more of a bite than just a week ago. Harvest is in full swing and there's no time for any of those earlier planned outdoor activities. That's where we are today. The wind was bitterly cold, the trees are mostly bare, the leaves underfoot are crispy and their colors dull. Another autumn is ending. Sure it'll be a while before any measureable snow falls and the daytime highs never reach above freezing, but for all practical purposes true autumn, colorful autumn is quickly fading away.

Just yesterday I snapped a few more cranberry harvest pictures. Enjoy!

And Little J

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cranberry Harvest Week 1

The first week of cranberry harvest is officially over. The first day excitement has worn off and the extreme fatigue has set in. We've had some cold nights which means peiodically waking, leaving the warm bed and venturing out into the cold dark night to check the engine and sprinklers. Of course that's what dear husband is doing. I'm inside nursing our cuddly newborn and keeping the bed warm.

I love the above picture. Seeing the cranberries
in mid air is so cool.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Welcome Little J

A lot has happened since July 25, my last post. We welcomed Little J into the family on August 11, celebrated two birthdays - Lou's 7th and Grace's 11th, survived numerous doctor appointments and now have just begun the annual cranberry harvest. First let me introduce Little J. He was born August 11 and weighed in at 6 lbs. 13 oz. As of last week he weighed in at 8 lbs. 3 oz. He's growing slowly, but is steadily climbing his way into the charts. Tomorrow he'll have a 2 month checkup; I'm hoping for 8 lbs. 8 oz. He hasn't been without health issues. Of course, there's the Down Syndrome and AVSD, but on top of that he's had some trouble keeping his temperature up and saturated oxygen levels high enough. Both have been resolved. He had a little thyroid scare, but after 3 sets of lab tests his results have finally come back within the normal range. He'll have that checked again in December. His ventricles are working inefficiently so he's on two meds to reduce blood volume and blood pressure. He'll have his heart checked by his cardiologist in just under two weeks. Needless to say he gets special attention around here, but it's not just me. All the kids are so gentle with him, kissing is head and holding him while they read. Lou holds him everyday while we do her oral math lesson and whenever I read aloud to her. Grace is very hands on with him. She changes his diaper, buckles him into his carseat and is always checking the diaper bag to be sure we have enough diapers and wipes with us. Lee's main mission is to ensure Little J never cries or even whimpers; he's always at the ready with a soothing touch, lullaby or pacifier. His next mission is to keep Little J comfortable by rolling blankets and sliding them along his side to prop his head up when he's in his bouncy seat. And Ray he just dive bombs Little J with kisses while I nurse him. So without further ado, Little J

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Week is Ending

It's been a full week, which was to be expected with Totus Tuus and VBS in the same week. Top that with music lessons, a dentist appointment and potluck supper and the week could've been insane. Instead the music lessons and dentist appointment were cancelled due to a severe 24 hour stomach flu that hit Lou Tuesday at midnight. It involved vomit from the top bunk, carpet, industrial sized shop-vac, lots of hot, soapy water and multiple loads of laundry. She's better now and back into the swing of Totus Tuus and VBS. Today is the last day and I have a feeling everyone will crash about 3:00 p.m. And then hopefully a pretty low key weekend.

A few plans for the weekend
  • celebrate St. Anne and St. Joachim by writing letters to grandparents and great grandparents
  • grocery shopping
  • photocopying and binding journals at Staples
  • visit mom - take her out for supper
  • order last of the curriculum needs for this coming school year
  • start thinking about birthday ideas for the girls
  • set up crib

Monday, July 21, 2008

This Week

It's been a while since I've posted. We've been busy gardening, butchering chickens, raising and playing with kittens, preparing for the upcoming baby and so much more. Oh, we took a very quick trip to Ashland to experience the cold, cold waters of Lake Superior.

Anyway, this week is chock full of activity. The kids started attending the 5 night Vacation Bible School at Pittsville Evangelical Free Church and today will start attending Totus Tuus at St. Joachim's Catholic Church. Totus Tuus is new to us this summer so we don't know what to expect. The kids have friends attending both events and just couldn't bear missing one or the other. The week will be full of dropping off and picking up, but it will allow me to get a few things done around home in peace. I'll only have Ray home during the day; he's not old enough for Totus Tuus yet.

Today's list of what to do (besides the normal of laundry, general pick-up and meal prep) includes:

  • make cookies or bars to donate to Totus Tuus
  • make real iced tea (I've never done this before)
  • remove changing table from girls' room and put into baby's room, this will mean some serious cleaning and purging in the girls' room because they've used the changing table as a storage unit for the last couple of years
  • call about the cost of installing a tile floor

Monday, June 23, 2008

Book Review

In the right hand sidebar are a few updated book baskets. How quickly those get outdated. In my book basket I have listed, Home Is Where the Learning Is by Valerie Steimle. The book wasn't earth shattering in content, however, the eight stories were each very different which kept my interest enough to keep reading to the finish line. Typos were common, which is very ironic for a homeschooling book. One would think with all the scrutinizing home school families get, the editor, a homeschooling parent herself, would be a little more aware of producing a near perfect product. Anyway, I want to focus on chapter two, a spectacularly written chapter titled, Living the Homeschool Lifestyle Over a Lifetime. The author of that chapter, Cherie Logan, writes in detail about five elements she believes should go into a family's homeschooling plan.
  1. Developing the Long View - Purpose
  2. Philosophies which guide behavior to match view
  3. Structure to support the view
  4. Communication skills to enrich understanding and bring us to eternal companionship with our children
  5. Attitude Management because it is the attitude that keeps the fire lit

I am going to focus on element 4, which was completely new territory for me. I'd never read anything nor had a conversation with anyone about the topic of eternal companionship with our children. First she explains the need to be parent and friend at the same time. OK, I'd thought about this delicate balance before, but she quantified it for me. And believe me, for this math loving, percentage using, objective mom, that was a good thing. The basis is this, when the child is small, mom and dad are 90% parent, 10% friend. At this time children need to know the boundaries, rules, consequences to their actions. They also need a friend (a little bit); someone to read stories to them, tickle their bellies, laugh at their silly jokes and ride bikes with. As the child ages the percentages shift very gradually so that when the child reaches adulthood we parents are 90% friend, 10% parent. We've all seen situations where parents want to be their child's friend from day 1. By the time the child reaches adolescence they may be belligerent, sassy, inappropriate people. Then the parent tries to parent and the teen won't allow it, making for very difficult and messy teen years, for both the parent and child. So the percentage thing was very enlightening to me.

I also liked her guidelines for how children should navigate their way into the adult world. Starting at age 10 and ending at age 18, she lays out the common path youngsters travel as they make their way into adult conversations.

At age 10 they start to hover around, not wanting to add anything to the adult conversation, but wanting to hear every bit of it.

At age 12, if they've been allowed to hover, may begin to add to the conversations. They might say out of place statements and draw attention to themselves. This is a trial and error time for them.

At age 14, if they've been part of the adult conversations, they begin to add appropriate meaningful material. With intense emotion they may begin to challenge adults viewpoints. They are searching for adults who will have real conversation and take them seriously. If they've been pushed away during the above stages they might begin to think that adults don't care and may begin to retreat from adult conversations, especially with their parents. This is also the time where the generation gap begins, if the child is pushed away.

At age 16, the youth wants social, thoughtful, fun, companionable conversation and interaction with adults. They are nearing adulthood and their ease of joining in adult conversations now will help them enter the adult world with ease. They rarely embarrass parents at this stage. Again, if the previous stages have been denied, the teen will become very secretive. They have their emotions more under control making it appear things are calmer, but they are moving to accept the differences between parent and teen as normal and expect nothing more.

At age 18, it is time for the final shift in how the parent converses with the new adult. The parent needs to lead this transition. The teen no longer has to prove themselves, they are adults. It's time they prove they are good adults and it's their own responsibility. They need to make decisions and follow through. They need to inform parents as to their where abouts and then make good on those by actually being there. They need to be responsible, just as we adults are.

This review got very long, so thank you for sticking with me. If you are a parent of children in the 10-18 range, I believe this section of the book would be very enlightening to you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Week With Two Less

Kids that is, two less kids. Sunday evening we dropped Grace and Lee off at camp. They'll be there until Friday late afternoon. Grace attached herself to her bunk with pen and paper in hand getting to know the other girls in her cabin. She went as a loner, meaning she had no camp buddy to sign up with. Lee signed up with a camp buddy and he and the other boys from his cabin bonded by running, checking out the water's edge, having a pinecone fight, boy things. We left for home with two crying youngen's. Who says brothers and sisters have to hate one another?

We had so many ideas for the week, including:

  • fishing on the pond

  • boat rides

  • baking and freezing tons of cookies and muffins

  • reading lots of little kid library books

  • having a campfire and roasting marshmallows

  • have a friend over one day to play

  • tent out in the yard

...all in hopes of distracting them from the fact the big kids are gone. Here's what we actually got done so far. I tore apart the boys' room and DH and I began painting. DH stained and just started varnishing the bunk beds. We did have family movie night last night and had a friend over for the entire day, Monday. The bubble tent was pitched in the girls' room Sunday night; Lou and Ray have been sleeping there every night. It's only Wednesday morning. We do have two full days and a long morning ahead of us to fit in the fishing and boating, but it seems like the time is just flying.

Lord, keep the campers and counselors protected by your loving arms. Help them to come closer to you this week through singing and crafting at camp. Allow for friendships to build and provide all with safe travels home. Amen

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Complete Circle

Image result for down syndrome awareness

Weekly, I pass by a church marquee with clever sayings, proverbs, or bible verses displayed. Two or three weeks ago, this was posted:

Faith in God is a Refusal to Panic

I thought about that for a moment, tears welled up in my eyes. Recently, I had received news causing me to panic. We received confirmation on May 2, our 5th child (due in August) has Down syndrome.

On April 29, I had gone for a "pieces and parts" (that's what my doctor calls it) ultrasound. No biggee; I'd done this many times before and all was normal...perfect actually. I do have an antibody that causes trouble sometimes so extra care was used when checking the liver size and middle cerebral artery velocity; that was normal procedure, nothing to worry about. The baby was face up and spine down. The sonographer spent one hour and 15 minutes taking measurements before the doctor came in. He really wanted a good view of the spine. I went to the bathroom, had a glass or orange juice, pushed on my belly a few times, all in the hopes that this baby boy (I just learned that news a few minutes earlier) would roll over showing the spine. He didn't. I laid on my side; I laid on my other side, causing the sheet to slide exposing my naked rear. No one attempted to cover it, they were intent on the screen. The doc pushed, tapped, talked, ordered our baby to roll over. Still nothing. I could go. I got dressed, thinking about being late for the appointment with my OB doctor and how I wouldn't have any leftover time in the waiting room to read the novel I brought with.

I checked in at the 1st floor OB/Gyn department. Before I even sat down, Sue called me back. We passed by the scale and went straight to the exam room. No blood pressure check, no reminder as to how many weeks along I am. Just a quick, "Dr. Meier will be with you in a minute." I know Sue; she's been there with me through all my pregnancies. We share vacation stories and poke fun at Dr. Meier; she knows my weight, she's held my toes during past amniocentesis', she's seen me cry. But not today. Today she's just the medical assistant.

I'm still wearing a smile. Good, I think. Dr. Meier must be on call and wants this to be a quick in and out appointment. I like that thought...in and out.

Dr. Meier walks in; he's not wearing scrubs. He's not on call today. He pulls up the roller stool close by and says, "Jen, we have to talk." As I write this my heart pounds just as it did that moment. I say, "OK, about what?" Turns out two defects were spotted during the ultrasound. Now I know why I was there so long. First, our baby has a hypoplastic nasal septum. He also has Endocardial Cushion Defect. Dr. Meier takes me into another room where we can talk at a small table instead of me on the exam table and him on the stool. He points out to me that these birth defects together strongly lead to Down syndrome. He explains using words what these defects are. He draws simple diagrams of a normal heart and our baby's heart. He points out the missing nose bone on the ultrasound picture. He tells me that I will be meeting with the Pediatric Cardiologist in the next week. I ask a few questions. He tells me a few answers. It's all a blur. All I hear is Down syndrome.....heart defect.....most likely surgery......Down syndrome.....chromosomal defects....babies don't survive......we have to make a decision.....confirmation of Down syndrome....lab evaluation.....Mayo Clinic. I hand Dr. Meier the pen. He can see I'm shaking so that I cannot write legibly. He writes some notes. He writes four questions I need to ask the cardiologist. He reads his writing to me. He gives me a great big hug and says, "Go home and talk to your husband. Call me tomorrow and we'll make any arrangements that need be."

The arrangements he's talking about include: abortion, Down syndrome confirmation by amniocentesis or do nothing and progress as usual. DH and I talk about the only options we have. We can find out if our baby boy has Down syndrome for sure or we can wait until birth and find out. We decide that information is important and empowering.

The next day I go back to the clinic for an amniocentesis. Sue is there holding my toes. Dr. Meier jokes about the $3.00 band-aid and how he read that some hospitals are asking parents to bring a three day supply of newborn diapers to the delivery because the hospitals pay $50.00 for the same diapers that a parent could by for $15.00. I wish him well on his trip to San Diego to see his grandson and he affirms me that Sue and Kristin (a genetic counselor) will call me on Friday with the test results. I get dressed and cry all the way home.

I am in full panic mode. Not the pounding heart, constricted pupils, sick to my stomach kind of panic, but a more thoughtful panic. Will this baby ever be on his own? Or will we have to care for him into our aging years? What about the trip to Hawaii we always talk about? Will that ever happen? Will I have to get involved with Social Services? How will the kids react to this news? Will they understand? Will I cry when I tell them? Will they be scared? Will I have enough time and energy to care for our baby boy as well as homeschool the other four and give them what they need? Will I ever feel deserving of fun again? Will I ever smile again? Will I feel guilty forever about wanting more children? Why do I feel like it's my fault?

I read lots of medical information about Down syndrome and Atrioventricular Canal Defect from many different websites. Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Pediatrics and others. It's all very medical and easy to read. Only the facts, no emotion involved. I can read it; I can digest it; I understand it. I walk away from the computer and I hate what I've just read. I hate that I have to read it. I hate that I have to live with it. I hate that I have to tell people my secret.

Time passed. More doctor appointments. I'd already told my mom, father-in-law, grandparents and DH's brother and sisters and a couple friends. It wasn't easy, but DH and I survived through it. I cried every time, he didn't. Then I saw the marquee.

Faith in God is a refusal to panic

I handed Grace a pen and she wrote the phrase down on the backside of a music theory worksheet. I couldn't forget this one. I had to spend time with it, enough time that I memorized it and inscribed it onto my brain. Just like the Lord's Prayer or the 23rd Psalm. I needed that phrase to pop into my forethought at the first sign of panic. I needed something short and real to remind me that God is good. God has a plan for me to prosper and not despair. This is part of the plan. I don't know why, I don't like it everyday, but it's my plan handed to me by God. I will accept it. I will embrace it.

I just finished reading, Road Map to Holland:  How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years of Down Syndrome Jennifer Graf Groneberg writes a compelling story about her journey. Her insight and ability to love her little Avery has helped me come to terms with my own feelings towards and about our baby. For the last 6 weeks I've secretly wished this pregnancy could continue forever. I want to protect him from the cruelty of the world. Inside me no one can hurt him, no one will stare, no one will ask questions. I will be just another pregnant woman. No one will ever know my secret. I have a baby with Down syndrome inside me.

Today I feel different. I can't wait to give birth, to see his face, to feel his breathing, to smell his skin. I can't wait to experience a whole different first year than ever before. I'm still scared, but I'm no longer in a panic. I have God on my side. I have other mothers who've gone before me on my side. I have my husband and compassionate children on my side. I finally took down the original ultrasound picture of the peanut shaped baby today. Before this I couldn't. That picture reminded me of a day when all of this Down syndrome and hypoplastic nasal septum and Atrioventricular Canal Defect was unknown. It was a reminder of the days when I was just going down the same path I had gone four times before. A path I knew very well. A path I could follow with my eyes closed and still get there because I knew exactly where it lead to.

Today I replaced that original picture with a new picture. A side profile of a fully formed head with a fist held closed. My baby, our baby...the one I can't wait to meet.

6 Months Already - looking back on Joseph's first 6 months

Is there a mother in need of encouragement?  Please pin.  Thank you so much.

New Shoes

Ray shows dad his new shoes.

Dad: Hey, those are sharp!

Ray: (rubbing his hand over them) No they're not.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Today while shopping for men's shorts at Shopko.

Lou: Uh...mom? Can we (her and her little brother) just play tag while you shop? We'll meet you by the doors in two half hours.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What I'm Doing Now

We ladies know how important it is to wash our face before bed, removing the daily buildup of makeup, bug spray, sunscreen, dirt, sweat, stickiness left behind from pudgy fingers and depending on the day, salt from the tears wept. I admit, unless I shower at night, most nights I barely have enough energy left to brush my teeth, therefore the day stays on my face right where it landed. But not anymore. This is the reason I've been washing my face daily (since Friday). These towels and washcloths are absolutely scrumptious. You just can't help rubbing them against your cheek and lips and arms and.....I heard the kids had a ball in the towel department at Kohl's searching for just the right towels. They hit the jackpot; thank you for the birthday present.
And here is the reason I've been whipping up cookies. First Amish Sugar Cookies and then 100 Best Cookies, both new recipes. This present is making the whole family happy. Thank you!
I won't need to use my new flower garden sprinkler for a while; we just got 1.6 (at least) inches of rain yesterday. With now watering to do for now, I guess I'll have time to fill the feeders and boil up some more humming bird drink.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bits and Pieces From the Week

Earlier this week we hung the humming bird feeder and have filled it three times since. At one point there were eight hummers flitting around the feeder at once. Of course, no pictures because it was just too much fun to watch and I never even thought about grabbing the camera.

With all the rain, the flowers have been doing great. A few I do have to remember to water because they are under the eaves. I just love tooling around the yard watering and pinching dead heads. It's relaxing and I remember back to winter days when all was empty, grey and cold and how quickly the landscrape changes with a little rain and warmer weather.

Diamond had her kittens June 3. Today we rescued them from the extremely high and out of reach place she chose to have them. I was so afraid that once they started walking they would walk right over the edge and we'd have a very sad situation one morning. So we set up a little kitten house for Diamond and her six babies in the garage. Now what will we ever do with six kittens?

Tuesday was summery so the kids went for a dip in the pond. First time in for the year. Even the cold water didn't deter them a bit.

Thursday was muggy so we headed back to the swimming hole. Again absolutely frigid water, but the kids didn't care. I ventured out for a while in the tube, all the while shivering and gently reminding all that anyone who splashed me with cold water was in deep trouble. I got wet; no one got in trouble. Even dad took a break from work for 20 minutes and jumped in for a swim. Then it was back to ditching for him.

Lee found this 5-Lined Skink under the front step. It's either a young or female skink based on the size and blue tail.

And the week ended with my 36th birthday, June 7. Thank you mom for giving me life. Thank you to my family for being my life.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Super Summer Science

The written schoolwork is quickly coming to an end. Grace has two spelling lessons and 18 math lessons to complete. Lee has two spelling lessons and 15 math lessons to complete. Lou has five math lessons to complete. Then, officially, school will be done for the summer. However, in my mind it's never really done is it? Maybe the written spelling lessons and formal math lessons will end, but learning will continue. Currently, we have three tadpoles (one with back legs) and a clam or mussel in an aquarium. The chicks are growing steadily; our cat will be having kittens soon. The swimming hole is open for admission. There is no doubt in my mind learning will continue.

I love the idea of unstructured summer days. Kids moving freely from one activity to another with just a quick yell to me as to their where abouts. But after a week of this sometimes the freeness of it all gets to me. See, I love schedules. I love details. I love having a general outline for each day. So with that I planned a short chemistry unit to kick off the summer. There's no theme just a hodge podge of activities that sounded fun to me, each with its own concept to learn.
Invisible Ink.

Items Needed:
We ended up only using one lemon. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice onto saucer. We diluted with a teaspoon of water which I don't think is really necessary.
A quick lick of lemon juice before the real science began.

Dip the cotton swab in the lemon juice and write a message on plain white paper. We also think a blunted toothpick would work well, because you'd get a thinner line of writing. Allow the invisible ink to dry thoroughly.

To read the secret message, hold the paper ink side down over a lightbulb until the message shows up. THIS DID NOT WORK!

With the blowdryer on HIGH, heat the paper until the message appears. THIS DID NOT WORK!

Once the kids are thoroughly discouraged by this chemistry experiment, think hard about other heating sources. Rule out the lit candle (fire hazard), microwave and oven. Then in a last ditch effort to prove to the kids you really were once a science teacher in a real school, pull out the iron, turn on high and start ironing the paper. After about 30 seconds the message will magically appear in a dark yellow, tannish color. Once the paper cooled the message wasn't as noticeable so the picture didn't turn out so well. But our secret messages were as follows:

Mom Loves Dad

Lee - cool bike

Grace horses

pictures of hearts and flowers

Science behind the project - the acid in the lemon juice contains carbon compounds. When those compounds are heated they turn brown (or in our case dark yellow-maybe because we diluted it a little). We also talked about ascorbic acid and how it prevents oxidation when squeezed over fruit, preventing it from turning brown. Of course, the scientific method was discussed once our original plan had failed.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Barbie Had a Rough Day

While making BLT's for lunch I was called outside to see the coolest rocket in the tree. The kids were laughing and saying that Mrs. Mandez was having a really rough day. I didn't ask any questions, I was just waiting to see this cool rocket. Turns out it wasn't a rocket at all, but poor Barbie, aka Mrs. Mandez, stuck in a tree. See Mrs. Mandez (Gabrielle's mother - you know THE Gabrielle from High School Musical) was upset that Gabrielle was going to marry Troy and so in a fit of rage she somehow ended up 15 feet up in an oak tree.

One awesome dad with a payloader. One awesome brother not afraid of heights. One happily rescued Barbie.

Very Insightful

(Lee, after trying on Lou's new headbands)

No wonder she's so cranky. These headbands are so tight they are slowly killing her brain.

Today's Toy of Choice

Initially, the mom that doesn't want her stuff broken, almost blurted out, "Put that away, I don't want it broken." But quickly I realized they were actually using it as intended - to weigh items. So I just kicked back and watched them have more fun with it than I ever have. The kids had so much fun weighing their wallets, full of change. They weighed math books and pencils and toy tractors and then started a game of, "Which weighs more?" And to think I almost stifled all that learning.

FYI: The toy scale cannot be found at Toys "R Us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Walk Around the Yard

Finally a sunny and somewhat warm day. I actually pulled myself away from all my indoor obligations and took to the outdoors just to soak up the sun. It really helped my mood as well. Here's what I found beautiful while watering flowers and enjoying the newly mown lawn.