Monday, February 26, 2007

Cleaning Frenzy

I'm bushed. The kids and I had an exceptional day of CLEANING. The house sure did get messy in our week of laying around doing nothing. Surprising, I know. Nevertheless, we cleaned and organized like there was no tomorrow.

Keith had installed some shelving for me in the family room, but I had not moved the old bookcase away. Instead, books were lying all around causing upheaval and disarray. Today, I finally decided where I wanted the old bookcase to go and then Keri Lynn helped me organize the books and put them away. School books, kids' books, adult books, pretty books, ratty but loved books are all now in their places.

We had our Bible time at 11:00 like we usually do. Got in a little history, too, and flashcards, but that was all the scholastic endeavor done for the day. Otherwise, it was clean, clean, clean.

Then, at 4:00, I got Keva from the bus. She's looking exceptionally cute lately sporting a new haircut I gave her Saturday night. (I'm posting a picture on the blog in the next day or two, so go see!) It's the one haircut that I do for all of the girls, but on different heads it comes out looking different. For Keva especially, since she doesn't exactly stay still for me, haircuts are a challenge. Usually I snip and pray that I don't cut her ear off. At any rate, she looks awfully cute and stylish -- a new 'do for the new 12 year old.

After bringing Keva into the house, I went on my walk. I've been going at about 4:00 every weekday lately. It seems to be a good time. I'm done with school by then, and just gearing up to make dinner. That gets me home in time to start dinner and serve by 6:00, because, as you know, EVERYONE is STARVING. Konner was in tears, he was so hungry. Good grief!

Keith is still at work tonight as he puts in some more overtime. It's nose-to-the-grindstone for him. I'm hoping that coming home to a relatively clean house will help. I've noticed that the house is smelling more doggie lately, though. This is not good news for Kody in that Keith wants him back out as an outside dog when we've got our fence completed. At the rate we're going building the fence, Kody may not have anything to worry about, but I've sure enjoyed having Kody inside, messes and all.

Anybody have any ideas for keeping doggy smells out? My steam cleaner is on its last legs these days. We used it until it couldn't be used anymore. First the shampoo bottle that connects to the water tank fell off. That's the shampoo bottle that says "DO NOT REMOVE FROM TANK UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH!" (or something like that.) Then, the tank itself starting leaking occasionally. Then, Kody -- Dear Soul -- ate up a piece of the cord. (It's a wonder he didn't electrocute himself.) Then, the rollers stopped operating. Last, but not least, it started leaking like a sieve -- water coming out nearly as fast as I was putting it in. That's the last time I've used it.

Anyway, it's the steam cleaner that helps the house smell less doggy. And now I'm not sure what I'm going to do, particularly if I've got a run-away Kody or Keva mess. Makes me shudder to think about it.

I've got Febreeze. That seems to help temporarily. And I'm trying to vacuum more frequently. Doggy hairs are everywhere. This is not good when one has a black-haired stinky dog.

On a very positive note, I'd like to report that I made an error in figuring out my weight loss last week. I was ten pounds off somehow in an embarrassing miscalculation reading my scale. I lost three more pounds this last week, but then gained it back over the weekend. Nevertheless, my total weight loss so far is 16 POUNDS! I've already noticed some big changes in my energy level and attitude. I'm highly motivated to keep melting those pounds away.

When we were cleaning today, the kids found a group picture from Keith's high school from 1982, a year before he graduated. It was really funny to get the kids' perspective on this picture. First of all, it was a huge picture from Gardena High School. I'd venture to guess there were about 1200 kids? We had a time just finding Keith in the clamor. The kids were fascinated with the 80s clothes and hair. I pointed out the polo shirts, vans and feathered hair. (Kathleen particularly was aghast at the style.) Secondly, what cracked me up the most, was that the all of the kids (with the exception of Keri Lynn) wanted to know where I was sitting. Isn't that cute? They just assumed that since Daddy was in the picture, than I should be there, too, regardless of whether or not we even knew each other then.

Speaking of Daddy, Keith was brave enough to take Keri Lynn out driving yesterday. They went off to the back of the development. A perfect place to practice. I told Keri Lynn that she better bring back her Daddy in one piece, please, and that I was staying off the roads. Keith reported that she did very well. Only rode the curb once. : ) She said that it was a little harder than she thought it would be. It's so very strange to have a kid driving. OLD PEOPLE have kids that can drive, not me! I'm in a state of denial.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm Working on the Blanket

Here I am showing off the baby blanket. You might be able to see my earphones. I'm always listening to some book on tape whenever I'm working on drudge-type jobs like dishes or laundry. I also like to listen while crocheting. When I'm watching TV, I sometimes crochet and then listen to a book on tape during commercial breaks.

A closer look at the blanket. I'm about halfway through and then I'm going to edge it with lime green -- the colors of the baby's room. Then, I'm going to attempt to match the pattern of the blanket to make a little hat, pink with green edging. I love doing this kind of stuff.

Isn't it a pretty pattern! It's a new pattern for me, which makes it all the more fun.

Spring Break

Keith brought home some dry ice to play with. The kids had a great time! The last chunk, Keith put in the kids bathroom and made sure no one stayed in there with the door closed! I'm not sure who had more fun -- the kids or Keith.

The gas from dry ice is heavier than oxygen and thus spreads along the floor.

Konner dressed himself on this day. He usually goes about in a haze of dirt. Note yet another scrape on his forehead.

We are on vacation from school this week. Our county has two separate weeks of Spring Break, and this is one of them. The other is the first week of April and then we're done with school by the end of May.

Even though I get very little done on vacation, I sure do enjoy it when it comes around. Guilt free when we don't do any school work. Getting out of bed at 9:00 or 10:00. Being able to watch TV and get to bed late. Working on household chores at a nice leisurely pace without worrying about having time for the next item on the Need to Get Done agenda. Working on fun time-consuming projects like a baby crochet blanket.

When I'm off like this, I don't get to my computer as often. Plus, Keith, not wanting to deal with American Idol, holes himself up in the bedroom and watches DVDs on the computer. Poor guy!

Keri Lynn, Kathleen and I watched American Idol last night. Wow, there sure are some talented voices. Can't wait to watch tonight.

Keri Lynn is finally getting better, but not after she had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. She was already starting to feel the affects of a flu bug with fever and chills and a general feeling of misery ON TOP OF HER COLD as we were coming home from the doctor. So I wasn't surprised when she threw up during the night and had rosy feverish cheeks the next morning. What I was surprised about was the redness that she had all over her torso by mid morning. Flu and an allergic reaction. So, off she went from THAT medication and is now finally starting to feel a whole lot better, but not before Kody decided to snatch her top retainers from it's resting spot on the bar at lunch yesterday. That dog is toast! I'm going to have him for lunch myself, I'm so mad at him.

I need to call the orthodontist today and find out what it will cost to replace the retainer. I shudder at the thought. She's supposed to go back to California for x-rays to see how her teeth are coming along post-braces, but that's not for another few weeks. I don't know why Kody couldn't have chewed up her bottom retainers instead!

With Keri Lynn on the upswing, everyone is now finally better. Konner has his chronic runny nose, but that's a given. Everyone is feeling so much better, in fact, that I granted permission for sleepovers. Kristofer and Kathleen each have a friend coming over. Sleepovers are pretty easy for me, especially when the kids have their own TVs to watch movies in their rooms. All I need to do is make dinner to feed the minions and provide lots of POPCORN!

We found out last weekend that our new pastor and his family signed papers for a house right here in our development! They stopped by to say hello and I was OH SO GLAD that I'd cleaned the house earlier that day! Anyway, they have the same floor plan, without a basement, and will live just down the street and down a cul-de-sac. They have two sons, the older one the same age as Kristofer. Stape and Kristofer hit it off right away when they came to candidate, so Kristofer is especially thrilled to have them.

That makes four families from our church here in our neighborhood.

As for my diet, last week was flat-line. At least I didn't GAIN any weight, but I didn't LOSE any weight either. I found myself standing in weird positions on my scale to see if I could get a different number! Part of it was not being able to walk. It was so cold last week! This week, though, it's been very comfortable. I've been walking steadily since Monday and, even though it's raining, I think I may be able to put in my time today, too. The walking makes a big difference. Keri Lynn was telling me that she thought I had more energy since I've been on my diet, and it's true. The house is cleaner and the laundry hasn't overtaken anyone, and I have a general sense of good will! The true test will be when hormones take over for about three or four days. : )

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Keva's 12th Birthday Letter

Dear Keva,

You, my sweet one, were born 12 years ago today. At the very first moment I saw your face, my life was changed.

I said to the doctor, "She's Down Syndrome, isn't she."

"Yes, I believe so," the doctor replied with anxious eyes, not sure how I'd respond as you were whisked away, "We'll need to do some tests to know for sure, but I believe so. Right now, she needs to go to Pediatric ICU. She's having trouble breathing."

The doctor continued speaking to me, telling me how loving Down Syndrome children were and how they contributed in their own special way to society. Little did she know that she didn't have to worry about me not loving you, Keva. You were already -- just like each of my other children -- a part of my heart.

Little did I know how big of a chunk you would take.

So began a journey for Keith and for me with many ups and downs, pains and joys, as we cared for you through heart surgery, eye surgery, major constipation issues, low muscle tone, and slow developmental milestones.

However, we have striven to keep you, Keva, right there in the midst of the family. Just part of the gang. We've all grown kinder, more patient, not so much in a rush . . . because of you. One thing I missed so much, though, Keva, was that you did not smile much and you never laughed or giggled. In fact, it was nearly impossible to even maintain eye contact.

I decided that I needed to make sure I talked to you like I would any other baby. The relationship had to mature even if it was mostly one-sided. So, during baths, I'd sing to you and you would clap. When I changed you, I'd talk to you. When we went in the car, the noise of family swirled around you. You sat at the table and ate amidst conversations and developing table manners.

Then, something began to happen. You started to react more, interact and even initiate. We were all thrilled. It was never anything really big for someone on the outside looking in, but for those of us inside, closest to your heart, it was HUGE!

You JUMPED right along with Keri Lynn when singing a song.

You GIGGLED when I tickled you! For the first time, I heard your VOICE and I was enchanted.

You GRINNED when you did something naughty, like pull Kody's ears.

You THREW food across the table and LAUGHED about it.

You PICKED something up, CLOSED a door, TURNED on a light -- all in answer to instruction.

It is my very dear wish that someday you'll be able to talk, but I'm okay with it if you don't, because I know that someday in the presence of God you will not only talk, but you'll debate and encourage. You won't just walk, but you'll skip and run. You won't just giggle, but you'll tell your own corny joke, and we'll ALL laugh in turn! Someday, Keva, I'll get to meet you for who you really are and in the meantime I hope that the Lord finds me faithful in my care for you.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Kathleen's Polly Pocket House

Kristofer built the walls of this house, and Kathleen did the interior design.

The house even had a special place for the dog.

One of the rooms with Polly lounging at a couch.

Amidst the Rubble

A balmy 22 degrees this morning as I type this. We even had a few snow flurries for Valentine's Day. As a result of all the cold, I've not been walking as much -- only two times this whole week. I did brave a walk yesterday and came home an ice cube. Keith had just pulled in from work, but I was afraid that if I kissed him, I'd stick to him. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad . . .
I found this on my pillow on Valentine's evening. There was a sweet pink heart made out of clay stuck to a notebook paper homemade card. (Spelling was corrected!)

To My Mom: Be my Mom-entine. This little heart isn't how much I love you, but it's a gift. I love you 10 thousand times more. You are my heart and I love you! Thanks for being my Mom.

Yours Truly,

Those are the gifts that far outweigh any drudgery of parenthood. Thanks, Kathleen. I love you 10 thousand times more back!

I think I'm going to have to take Keri Lynn to the doctor today. She just isn't getting any better and this morning she woke up with her chest hurting. Her cold might have turned into bronchitis. Kylie is complaining that her ear hurts, too. She was one of the first kids I took to the doctor when we started this Carousel of Colds. I really want to get off!

I haven't been doing much of anything anywhere lately. I got sucked into a book and then went straight into a crochet project. Dishes? Who needs clean dishes! Laundry? You can wear your underwear for more than two or three days in a row! Take the dog out? Yes! Now! But not me, I'm busy!

I highly recommend any books by Francine Rivers. I'm waiting for the library to produce a few overdue copies of her Mark of the Lion series. In the meantime, I read The Atonement Child, also by Francine Rivers. If you need to brush up on arguments against abortion and need help understanding the pain involved in this ongoing issue, this is the book to read. I turned the last page and then handed it right over to Keri Lynn who has been reading it non-stop ever since. Like mother, like daughter.

Then, last night, amidst the rubble that used to be my house, I started working on an afghan for Joy's baby. She's the girlfriend that I went out to lunch with a few weeks ago. Our Bible study group is throwing a surprise baby shower for her in less than two weeks. So I decided last weekend to try to crochet a sweet baby blanket for her by then. I'm hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew and that it won't be one of those gifts that I've given in a gift bag with the yarn still hanging off of it -- only to snatch it back to take home to finish! But it sure is fun to crochet baby things! I've missed that! All of my other friends have had their babies and moved on to teen years, so it was such fun to pick out Baby Soft yarn in pink and lime green (her baby's colors) and find an adorable pattern. I'm hoping to make a cute little hat to go with the blanket -- but will probably not have that ready until the baby is actually born.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Grocery Mascot

I went to the grocery store yesterday. It was desperation. I've been needing to go for about three or four days. We were out of milk, fruit, candy and most items needed to create a meal. So, I hit the store running, waded through the flower/candy area where the whole world decided to come and get Valentine paraphernalia, and got to the check-out with two very full grocery carts.

This time, with my diet in mind, and with a lot of wise counsel from friends and family, my grocery cart had some stuff in in that I usually don't bother with. Yogurt and granola bars mainly. And chocolate chips (chocolate in smaller quantities). And some extra produce.

I came up to the checker as she was scanning my stuff and said, "Are you excited to see me?"

"Of course!" she said.

And the bagger said, with a grin, that he thought they were running out of bags.

I needed two baggers to help cart out what turned out to be three carts to the van. By the time I was done, I felt like the grocery store mascot. Cute, lovable, pointed at and exclaimed over.
Then, came the fun part. Taking everything out of the car and putting it away. This isn't nearly as difficult as it used to be. Kids are older now and can actually HELP. I also have more space to put things away. Konner held a package of top ramen and said, "Oh, this goes in the Pop Tart door!" Keri Lynn poured bagged cereals into containers. Kylie thoroughly organized the canned goods. Poor Kathleen sat on the couch playing out her sickie status. Kody thought the world was so wonderful because his favorite person (me!) had brought him a doggie treat.

The only problem with kids helping is that sometimes one finds feminine products in Keva's room next to the diapers -- I guess that's close! Or a can in the refrigerator because someone likes canned fruit cold. But one always finds the snack treats especially categorized and put away right where they need to be.

I was worried that the kids might be disappointed that I didn't buy any candy for their snacks this time, but I was wrong. They were thrilled with the granola bars, yogurt and fruit snacks. Kristofer especially is my health nut. He patted me on the back and told me I'd done a good job, "We need to eat healthier around here!"

Now, I've got to go eat some breakfast and get my hair to look like I didn't just wake up. Bible study is this morning -- can't wait! We're finishing up Revelation 11 -- one of the hardest chapters in the Bible -- but so richly symbolic and so powerful.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Paintball Happiness

We're still sickies here.

Saturday night, Keri Lynn had a long babysitting job, 5:30 PM to what was supposed to be as late as 1:00 in the morning. Since Keith was teaching Sunday School the next morning and ushering, the plan was to send him on to bed while I waited up for Keri Lynn, flipping channels and dozing at the TV.

After several phone calls and a parent lost on the freeway, Keri Lynn didn't get home until nearly 3:00 AM! Needless to say, we were both exhausted the next morning. I stayed home with the sick ones and Keri Lynn was added to the list having woken up with flu-ish symptoms.
She's the latest of the sickie casualties. Kathleen has had a terrible cough for more than a week and has complained of her ears hurting for the last two weeks. (Of course, the really bad stuff always happens on the weekend when it's next to impossible to get health care.) Keva has been home from school since Thursday. She has woken up the last few days with mucus stuck all over her face and hair -- memories of that horrible flu we all had last year. Konner has a never-ending runny nose, but seems unperturbed by it. I still have some residual cough trouble with the winter dry air.

I'm taking Kathleen and Keva to the pediatrician today for some antibiotics.

Who's healthy, you might ask? Keith, pretty much. Kristofer is about all better. Kade. Kylie. Not to bad, except that this cold seems to run in cycles. Some get healthy and then after the others are sick, the healthy get sick again. But I think it's mostly because it's just that time of year when everyone is not feeling at the top of their game.

I have cough drops handy to keep from getting into coughing fits, and have been able to get back to my walks that I started last week. With my new Plan, where I count 500 calories a meal and walk one hour a day, I've lost seven pounds in one week. Yippee!

My energy level, even with some precious hormone challenges last week, has increased dramatically. I also took a weekly set of pictures of me (front, back, side, and face) to remind myself that I've only just begun. Losing a little bit of weight is not a license to get back to eating the way I was. I'm working on a lifestyle change.

I'd like to thank so many of you who have given me encouragement and advice. I got several typical menus from skinny people. I then peppered them with all kinds of questions about what they think when they're eating. What makes them feel full? How do they know when to stop eating? Etc. It's very interesting and enlightening.

On a lighter note, I'd like to report on Keith and Kristofer's paintball games Saturday. They went out Friday night to get supplies and came home with paintball guns, paintballs, headgear . . . and camouflage head to toe. I'm posting a picture soon of Kristofer's full gear soon. Keith tested out the guns out on the deck and shot the Adirondack chair dead. The paint ball went straight through the plastic back! And so Keith learned not to shoot at anything at point blank range. That didn't stop them from happily going off to the paintball range the next morning. I really thought they were overdoing it with all of the gear they bought until they came back happily exhausted that night. Apparently, everyone was decked out the same way and more! All I can say, was it was a very good thing that we had received our tax refund check!

I did get a chance to shoot the paintball gun, too, the next day. I shot from the deck at a big rock on the ground. I can say with all confidence that the rock is never going to bother us again!

Kristofer's Paint Ball Fatigues

Kristofer armed for paintball

He's trying to look mean, but his sparkling eyes give him away.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What we do on sick days

Kade made a paper airplane that could be propelled through the air with a rubberband.

Shy Konner wants to get his picture taken.

Keith came home one evening this week with a mess on his truck. Apparently, birds decided to have a poop orgy on his vehicle. He parked his car under a tree at work and came out at lunch to find it less than shiny. It was the only car bird bombed in the whole parking lot!

Who is that behind that book?

I don't know where she gets this from. Keri Lynn can't read enough books. And she gets totally lost in Book World (as Kathleen calls it.) One day, while Keri Lynn was readiing, we made an entire batch of fudge. The little boys licked the pan. Everyone discussed about when and where we would eat the fudge. The smell of fudge wafted through the house. But Keri Lynn was in Book World. Hours later, she opened up the refrigerator and exclaimed, "Look, there's fudge!"

What does a teen boy do when recuperating from a cold at home? He creates a chess board on the breakfast room floor with toys for chess pieces.

The Chess Master!

"Bills, bills, bills!"

I spent a good deal of the day getting caught up with bills/paperwork. If you've been reading about my exploits long enough, you'll know this is probably my least favorite thing to do in all the world. There has to be a better way to deal with that stuff.

We've all been trying to get over our winter colds. Kathleen has been the sickest lately. It's such an odd little cold. Eyes get really red and uncomfortable. Lots of coughing and congestion. Fatigue. I'll be glad when we're over this one, but it doesn't even remotely compare with the horrible flu of last January! So I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

Keith has been coming home after his usual eight hours at Delta every night since his lay off from his second job at AAA Cooper. It has been so nice to have him home with us, eating dinner, and then crashing on the couch with the rest of his pathetic family to blow into Kleenex, cough and be generally miserable.

He's starting to feel better, though, because tonight he's off with Kristofer getting paintball supplies! The guys in our Sunday School class have been bringing their sons to a place here in Newnan to play some mean paintball. Kristofer has been so excited about it, and I'm thinking that Keith is maybe just a little excited about it, too! The guys have been emailing each other back and forth, talking smack. It's been pretty funny.

Keva has been home from school since yesterday because she started coughing again. The cold has to just run its course, I guess. She's not terribly sick, though. I caught her dumping cornbread crumbs all over her head and all over Kody after dinner. She was giggling away, finding this little project so much fun. Kody, as usual, tolerated her treatment since he was getting some snacks out of it. I was not amused, though.

Kody particularly delights in having Keith home. He starts barking as soon as he hears the door opening. And then, there he is, the first one to greet Daddy. And if Keith thinks that he's going to greet anyone else . . . well, he can forget it, because Kody will have none of it. He doesn't like anyone else getting attention that he feels should be all his. He parks and paws at any of the rest of us until Keith pets him. Kody is like that with anyone getting hugs or affection that he feels should be his. We're trying to train him out of this habit, but it's so funny that he gets so bent out of shape.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Honduran Tragedy

I opened up the local paper yesterday morning and discovered some tragic news. Our church is one of many involved in a yearly mission trip to Honduras. About half of the team made up this year's group that left on Sunday. On Tuesday, while in route to a mission project, the team was involved in an auto accident that killed two men and a woman. They were riding in the back of a commando-style truck, sitting in the back, when the truck breaks failed and the truck overturned and fell down a 80-foot ravine. The men were from a nearby church in Carrolton and the woman lived right here in Newnan. She was a beloved part of a Methodist church here. About 10 others were injured as well, four that I know personally from church. The ones from our church were not seriously injured, as far as we know, but everyone is reeling from the shock. The driver, also from our county, is being held in jail because of the fatalities.

It just goes to show me ONCE AGAIN that God knows our years on this earth and will take us when He deems fit. In the meantime, we sure do need to be ready for it! Please be praying for the families who are mourning loved ones and thanking God for keeping the rest here. One of the injured is Mr. Mike (Mike Emmeot), the missions pastor, and beloved by Kade. Kade is always saying how Mr. Mike said this and Mr. Mike said that. Another was the husband of our children's director. And then two more are sons of the lady that I drove with to the women's retreat last September. One broke an arm and each broke their collarbone.

I remember in my mind's eye the many rough dirt roads of Honduras. The road this team was on was near San Jose. I need to look that up on a map, but I know I've been in San Jose before, but when I was eight (and quite frankly for a LONG time after) I never knew where I was on a map!

Anyway, please be praying for these dear people and for the Newnan community. My hope is that people will trust in the Lord more through this difficult time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dieting Daze

Today, I began a diet/exercise plan. It's real easy -- 500 calories a meal, three meals a day, with a snack if needed and a 45 minute walk each day. I'm not writing the calories down, just mentally calculating it.

I guess my goal is to start eating and moving like a skinny person. If you're a skinny person reading this and have some tips, feel free to email or comment on the blog. What I'm really interested in seeing is an average day -- what you eat and how you exercise on any given day. I am especially interested in hearing from taller skinny women. I'm 5'9", so if you're 4'3" and skinny, I really don't want to hear from you. Kidding! Kidding!

I took some pictures this morning -- up close -- and then full body front, back and side. Those pictures were pretty scary. I'm going to take pictures each Monday wearing the same thing in the same poses to chart my progress. I tend to lose weight pretty fast when I start any kind of diet program, so I'm expecting some results soon. But I want to keep going this time. I don't want to quit out of a feeling of deprivation. Thus, the above Plan.

Already, I'm feeling positive results just from my walk today. I've got the extra energy that I get from having just moved off the couch. The walk, though, was COLD! C - O - L - D !!!! It had to be about 40 degrees and windy. My cheeks were frozen solid. My ears stayed warm because I had my earphones covering them to listen to my book on tape. My eyes didn't water too much because of my sunglasses. And my hands stayed warm in my pockets, but tomorrow will be big winter jacket, beanie, gloves and maybe a scarf. Tomorrow I will not return home as a Momsycle -- that's what the kids called me.