Yes, it is!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Springfield Trip

This morning, we took off for Springfield to see all the history of Abraham Lincoln.  We made sure that my mother-in-law got the memo last night about today's trip.  And thankfully, she was ready to go this morning when we finally got out the door.
The kids, as usual, began their "I'm hungry" and "Are we there, yet?" routine right away.  When does it end?  Or does it ever?  It isn't even a 2-hour drive north of us and my kids still can't seem to make that short trip without demanding food.
Our first stop was at the Oak Ridge Cemetery where Lincoln, his wife, and 3 of his sons are entombed.  Both kids actually behaved during this part of our visit.  Mother-in-law seemed to enjoy the beautiful scenery at the cemetery.  It really is a beautiful place.
Our next stop was to Abe's house in Springfield.  This is my 3rd trip there and it hasn't gotten old for me, yet. I can't help but imagine how the people lived, worked, and played in that house and the surrounding homes, which have been turned into museums.  Today was extra special as there was a toy demonstration.  Most of the toys back in the day actually had a purpose to them.  The climbing bear, for example, was a good toy to use to help teach children how to milk a cow.  The ring toss was used to help girls learn how to be graceful.  And ball and cup toy was good for hand/eye coordination.  The kids enjoyed experimenting with the toys but they quickly became bored and wanted to move on. From here, we went to Gallina's for lunch in Springfield. It was about time, too, because the heat and hunger were resulting in 2 grumpier kids and a grumpy dad.  Me? Well, I'll never say.  Just ask Tim.  I confess, though, that I just cannot handle the heat the same as I used to.
At Gallina's, Jackie saw a picture of Abe Lincoln and exclaimed, "Hey, I know that boy, the one we went to his house."  Funny girl.  Boy, man; they're all still the same to her.  Jackie cracks me up with some of the stuff she says. 
After lunch, we went over to the Lincoln Library and the museum.  The old train depot is across the street from the museum.  Mother-in-law was interested in seeing the inside of the train station.  I enjoy old train stations, too, and like at Abe's old house, I can sit and imagine the hustle and bustle that occurred back in the day at the train station.  I found it quite interesting that at this particular station, there were separate waiting rooms for men and for women.  There was also a reading room.  I was surprised to not see a segregated waiting room for non-white people.  The Tampa (where I'm from) train station has a room for segregation.  Of course, thankfully, it is no longer used for that.  Even though the Tampa station is still used as a train station, it is also considered a historic building.  The Springfield station is no longer used as a train station. 
We made our way across the street to the library and museum.  Tim wanted to do some genealogical research while the rest of us visited the museum.  This is also my 3rd time to the museum and again, I enjoy it each time.  There is just so much to learn.  The kids really enjoy the children's play area where they can play with the old-fashioned toys, play dress-up in historic looking clothes, play with the giant playhouse, and more. 
While the kids and I waited on a bench at the museum, a lady came up and asked if we could move over so she could sit down.  I could tell she was winded and I immediately obliged to give her some relief.  This is was just the beginning of wanting to dig a hole and hide from embarrassment.  And this is one time that I am so thankful that my son is still a bit unintelligible.  I should first reassure that I do not talk negatively about other people to my children.  I have friends of all sizes, shapes, colors. And my goal is to teach my children that no matter what others' differences are, we are all special and unique and we need to embrace everyone's differences.  The lady who sat down next to us was rather large but she was very polite about asking us to make some space for her.  Her size had no bearing on how I felt about her.  Well, my 3-year old son looked over at this nice lady and came over to me and using his sign language for "big", he also said "bu".  He was trying to say big and I knew that.  But, I felt terrible right away that this nice lady was going to feel hurt so I said to Ben, "love?" (he adds a /b/ to a lot of words so I tried to "correct" his speech today).  Ben shook his head and again, he signed "big" and said "bu".  And again, I said "love?"  Oh dear Lord, I did NOT want this woman to feel hurt by my 3-year son.  And she was listening, too.  I finally got up to join Tim where he was paying for our tickets.  Mother-in-law was still sitting with the kids but I felt so bad and embarrassed that I just needed to get up and walk away for a few moments.  This is the first time I've encountered this type of situation involving the size of a person.  When I came back to the bench with our tickets, the nice lady told me that she and my son were having a conversation about Ben saying she was a big black lab.  (She was wearing a black shirt).  Oh my.  But thankfully, she didn't seem hurt and she seemed to enjoy engaging with Ben. She then pointed to her black shirt.  I shared that Ben loves dogs and that we have a black dog, too.  She let out a little laugh and as I entered the museum with the kids and Mother-in-law, this kind lady said goodbye to Ben and told him to have fun.  Whew!  I was so glad that she seemed to just go along with Ben.

With the exception of Ben's boorish behavior (not including the museum incident), it was a good day.  Jackie seemed to really enjoy most of the history lessons today.  The Lincoln museum is an awesome place for people of all ages to visit.  I highly recommend it! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day Trip to Arthur

We went to see Arthur yesterday.  No, not the person.  A town in Illinois.  Arthur is an Amish community sort of northeast of where we live. Beautiful people, beautiful countryside.  And good food.
We started out a it later than we had planned.  My mother-in-law, who is visiting from Florida, apparently did not get the memo that we were planning this day trip.  It still boggles me that she didn't have any idea what was going on yesterday morning.  We had discussed our plans with her on Friday evening.  The kids slept in a little bit so that put us about what should have been just about a half hour behind.  As the kids ate breakfast and got dressed, Tim and I got things together for the day.  Things like putting in ice into a cooler, putting drinks into a cooler, gathering a few snacks, putting stuff in the SUV, making sure the dogs are put in jail, etc.  There was a lot of noise and commotion.  Something was going on, right? 
Right before we set our feet out the door, Tim asked his mother if she was ready.  "Ready? Oh, where are we going? Oh, well, let me get ready."  My first thought, "Are you kidding me?"  No, she wasn't kidding as evidenced by the half hour she spent getting ready to go.  Another half hour delayed.  In the meantime, Tim and I had to find humor in it. Mom forgot the memo and was oblivious to the subsequent chaos of getting the family ready to go. Finally, we got on the road.  After awhile, I noticed that we were not going in the same direction as mapquest had showed.  I knew Tim had input the address in his GPS but where were we going?  Apparently, he decided that we needed to make a side trip to some sort of boating store in the middle of corn country, USA.  A boating store.  In the middle of corn fields.  We finally arrived there and it didn't look like a typical boat store. No wonder.  It was in the middle of never-ending rows of corn fields. I just wonder how much business the "store" gets. 
We finally got on our way to Arthur.  The drive was nice except with the "Are we there, yet?" every 30 seconds or so.  And "I'm hungry."  Grrr.  And guess who had to sit in the middle of it all in the back seat. Yep, you guessed right.  Grandma and Daddy were riding in peace in the front seats.
When we arrived in Arthur, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of horse and buggy parking.  Cool!  I even saw a utility trailed hooked up to a buggy and horse.  I would love to have seen that in action.  But alas, they were parked waiting for the rightful owner to return.

We walked through some of the shops before we went to Yoder's Kitchen for lunch.  Yoder's Kitchen was pretty good.  Real Amish and Mennonite cooked food.  The sweet tea was really good.  Of course, I'm a fan of sweet tea.  The next stop was Beachy's bulk foods.  We loaded up on some unique candies, pancake mix,  pretzel mix, rainbow popcorn and Amish noodles.  We even bought some of the locally grown produce.  The cinnamon roll was beautiful.  And delicious. 
We visited some of the Amish owned stores on the outskirts of Arthur.  The Amish made furniture is absolutely beautiful.  Too bad we didn't have our utility trailer.  We wanted to buy the swing.  And a dresser and a bookshelf.  It's a good thing we didn't have the trailer with us.  Otherwise, our trip would have set us back about a couple grand.  The furniture was expensive but it's built extremely well.  The last store we visited was called the Farm Market.  It was very nice and clean. And a bit more expensive.  Probably a more upscale Amish store.  Is there such a thing?
I loved visiting Arthur and I hope to go back sans kids.  I might even take the kids back in the Fall for their Pumpkin Patch. I've heard great things about it. 
After we left Arthur, we headed toward Taylorville.  Taylorville is where Tim's dad spent many summers during his boyhood.  Tim's grandmother was born and raised there until she married and moved away.  Tim's mom was very appreciative that we visited Taylorville so she could see where her now-deceased husband spent a lot of time during his childhood.  And Jackie asked if this was where her friend, Taylor, was from.  We told her that's where all the Taylors are made.  I'm sure we'll have some explaining to do soon.  

Other than the hot weather and occasionally cranky kids, it was a very nice day to visit Arthur and Taylorville and corn fields, USA.  I love visiting small, older communities.  I love the old buildings.  I love the beauty of the countryside. I love seeing all the animals. I love the inherently simplistic lives that the Amish and Mennonites seem to live.  I just love this kind of stuff.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Once A Stray

This post is dedicated to Nel one of our favorite therapy dogs who visits St. Louis Children's Hospital during the week.  Nel is a beautiful, sweet, gentle, and loving dalmation who brings smiles and joy to almost everyone who encounters her at the hospital. Just like the title states, Nel was once a stray.  She was nursed back to health by her wonderful mom, June. June immediately recognized the gentle nature that Nell exuded and set about getting Nel certified as a therapy dog.  I remember the first time I heard about Nel.  Jackie's physical therapist, J, was telling me how Nel and June would visit J's daughter, E, at the hospital when E was being treated for leukemia.  My kids and I were so excited when we finally got the chance to meet Nel during one of our many hospital visits.  The excitement never wanes and each time we see Nell, we are as excited to see her as we were the time before.  Nel is such a popular fixture that there is a stash of treats for her at the main reception desk. 
 Here is Nell, begging for a treat at the reception desk:
Nel has a book that was recently sent to the publisher.   I am so excited for her and I will be one of the first customers.  If any of my readers would like to support a good cause, please consider purchasing her book. I will give details as soon as I get them.  Right now, it looks like it will be between 3-6 months before it is printed.  I will post more details as I get them.
Here is a link with video and more information about Nel.  Nel has the best job. Ever. Make sure you turn off the music player on the side of the blog.

It always warms my heart anytime I see an animal visiting at a hospital or nursing home.  When Jackie had her last foot surgery, another therapy dog, Phoebe, paid a visit to Jackie the day following surgery.  I don't know about Jackie, but I loved it.  I've always wanted to have a certified therapy dog (or duck? I love ducks) to take on visits to nursing homes and hospitals.  But alas, I always end up with the neurotic dogs. Well, actually Lucy is great with people and especially children and other animals.  But there's just one problem holding her back from being a therapy dog. She is totally motivated by food.  I can just see her now, getting up on somebody's bed in order to reach whatever food might be sitting on somebody's hospital tray.   Even the mental picture of it horrifies me.  For an even better picture, think "Marley and Me".  Beside, Lucy isn't too fond of wearing clothes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Son, the Underwear Thief

It's true.  He stole some underwear from Gymboree on Tuesday.  And I didn't even know until today.  I was horrified at first, then I started to laugh.
This past Tuesday, I took my kids to Children's Place and Gymboree to buy some clothes.  I had some Gymbucks to use before they expired.  I had also planned to take them to Stride Rite to buy shoes for school.  Shoes were on clearance there for around $15 a pair.  Fortunately (you'll understand why later in the post), we did not make it to Stride Rite that day because my kids were not on their best behavior. Actually, they never are on their best behavior so I don't know why I thought I would be able to hit 3 stores at the mall that day. 
We started out going to Children's Place to return some shoes that were too big for Ben.  The store has a good sale going on right now so I bought a pair of shorts and a pajama set for Ben.  From there, we went to Gymboree.  I like how Gymboree has a TV and chairs for the kids.  And the store is small enough to make it easy to keep watch on the kids from nearly any angle in the store.  I let Ben hold onto the Children's Place bag while he and Jackie watched TV.  Big mistake! While I was trying to decide what to spend the Gymbucks on, Ben kept getting up from his chair and checking to see what I was doing.  A couple of times, he brought over a pair of underwear to show me.  I explained to him that I was not buying underwear there and beside, they were not even his size.  I periodically checked on the kids and I noticed that Ben was holding onto yet another pair of underwear.  I figured as long as he is just holding onto him, then it was okay.  No need to start a fight over underwear.  I would just put them back on the rack when I went to check out.  After I picked out some clothes for Ben and Jackie and paid, the kids and I started to head out of the store when the thought occurred to me that I should check the Children's Place bag in case Ben decided to heist some underwear from Gymboree.  I looked in the bag and didn't see any underwear. So we left the mall. No shoes this day as the kids were really starting to misbehave and fight. 
So this morning, I decided today would be a good day to shop for the kids' shoes.  We got to the mall and I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A first for lunch.  Thankfully, the kids were very well behaved while they ate.  We then went over to Stride Rite where I noticed that the remaining clearanced shoes were marked down even further to $9.88!  Ben is really starting to have an opinion on shoes so we ended up with just 1 pair for him.  I got 2 pairs of shoes for Jackie. 
After we got home, as I unloaded my car trunk, I noticed the bags from Tuesday's shopping trip. After I brought them into the house, I went through and started to put the items in the proper places.  As I emptied the Children's Place bag, I noticed at the bottom of the bag an item that I did not recognize as one that I purchased.  I took it out and noticed that it was a pair of Gymboree underwear.  I knew I did not purchase those underwear.  I was horrified but then I broke out in laughter. 
Now, as funny as it is, I think it is also a serious thing.  By putting those underwear underneath the items already in the bag, it indicated to me that Ben was intentional in hiding those underwear so that I wouldn't see them right away.  Now I know he probably still doesn't totally understand about stealing.  He doesn't yet understand the financial impact of stealing.  So, why did he take them?  He hid the underwear from me because he wanted them even after I told him to put them back on the store rack.  He knew what he was doing was wrong. 
Today after Tim got home, I showed Tim the underwear and told him the story behind it.  Like me, he laughed but he also realized the seriousness of the situation.  Until this time, I didn't even let Ben see the underwear because I knew that he would insist that they were his.  Even if they were too big and heisted from the store. So Tim showed Ben the underwear and when he asked Ben if he took them from the store, Ben smiled and nodded his head.  He insisted that the underwear were his.  We explained that it is wrong to take things out of a store without Mommy's or Daddy's permission.  I don't know how much Ben truly understood but he didn't seem to be too upset that we couldn't let him keep the underwear.
So, guess who will be paying a visit to Gymboree very soon?  Hopefully, the store employee will find humor in the situation and appreciate my honesty.
For your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of the "flaming baseball" underwear. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good and Bad of Facebook

This post should have been published earlier but I'm just now getting to it.  This is a topic that I've been thinking about for some time, especially during these past couple of weeks.
When I first signed up for a Facebook account, I rarely used it as I was not too much into social networking.  I probably checked it every few months.  But as time went on, I started getting friend invites from people I had not heard from in a very long time.  In fact, some of them were people that I never thought would want anything to do with me as an adult.  At first, I was selective of who I accepted as friends.  I really didn't want anything to do with those who were not very kind to me during my childhood.  But one of the first of those people, I surprisingly accepted as a friend.  I accepted her because I thought it would be a way of finding out why she was one of my worst bullies.  Perhaps get some closure.  Believe it or not, all these years later, I still still struggled with the effects of being bullied in school, not by just this one person, but by other students and even teachers.  But I am so glad to say that all is forgiven between me and this one person in particular and we are now good friends.  I truly believe she was sincere in her apology.  And I hope to get together with her in person sometime soon as she lives just a short day's drive away from me now. 
In a way, Facebook has been cathartic. Some of my "new friends" were kind enough to apologize to me.  It brought some measure of healing for me.  I've been able to forgive many of these people.  For those who took time to write to me and apologize or even let me know that they care, I very much appreciated that. 
My friend list grew slightly last year. Unexpectedly. See, last year  my husband took us to a new church to try it out.  He seemed to like it so we continued to attend that church.  However, I never felt fully accepted there and I'm sure many of those people probably thought I was stuck up.  The truth is that I was guarding myself from further hurt.  I was struggling with faith matters (still do), I was not very trusting of people's motives, I was just overall struggling with life.  I put on a tough front because I didn't want anyone at that church to see how weak I was. I already felt that I was being judged as nobody really tried to reach to me, in a non-judgmental way. Even though I felt nobody at that church really cared much about me, I started to get Facebook friend requests.  I even got brave enough to request Facebook friendships with a handful of other church people.  Some of the requests that I received actually surprised me.  I couldn't help but wonder what their motivation was.  Were they being nosy? Or did they truly care about me?  Was I going to be judged by the information provided about myself?  In an effort to try to get out of my funk and try to make friends, I accepted those who wanted to befriend me on Facebook.  Over this past year, it has been a little interesting getting to know some of these people via Facebook.  And I've come to have more respect for some of them.  However, there were a couple of them who seemed to really be into themselves.  So much so that nobody was as smart as they or their children are. Or as talented.  Or as confident. Or even as skinny or pretty.  It was a bit annoying to see how into themselves they were but I just started thinking possibly that it was their way of overcoming low self-esteem.  I don't mind the occasional bragging but persistent bragging gets to be a bit much for me. 
A few months ago, I "cleaned house" on my friend list. Mostly those I had no contact with any longer.  However, I didn't delete any church people at the time because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  After all, most of them befriended me on Facebook so there must be a reason that they wanted to be friends.  However, I still didn't really feel a true friendship with any of these people with the exception of one or two people.
A few months ago, one of my blog readers (and FB friend) responded to one of my posts in which I shared about my religious upbringing.  It was a painful post but one that I felt I needed to share to perhaps help other people understand why so many of us struggle with faith issues.  At first, I agreed to talk to her but I never expected to become good friends with her.  After all, she was a pastor's wife and I thought she would just be too busy for somebody like me.  I was so wrong about her.  She has spent time listening to my spiritual concerns. we have enjoyed regular conversation (she's regular folk like me, lol), she has corrupted me by getting me interested in planting flowers and greenery (I'm far from being a green-thumb still), my kids have enjoyed swimming in her pool.  I have enjoyed getting to know her and vice versa.  I feel like she really, truly does care about me and my family and so many others.  Because of her (and perhaps God), I feel like I have experienced growth in many ways, including faith.  However, despite all of that, I still struggle with being completely happy at our current church for many reasons.  That's another post for another day.
A couple of weeks ago, it became very clear to me just how judgmental some of those people still are of me.  I had written a post about my disappointment that the July 4th holiday seemed to be completely overlooked, with the exception of a patriotic instrumental piece, during the church service that morning. I consider myself a very patriotic person and I was very disappointed that the congregation didn't get a chance to celebrate, at least in song, such an important day for our country. I didn't invite criticism from anyone else.  The blog post was just an expression of my own disappointment. You can read that here.
One of my now former Facebook friends (fellow church goer) read that post and left a comment on my Facebook page. Of course, religion was brought into it.  Apparently, she did not like my response to her because I am no longer her friend by her choice.  It's just as well because I never saw her as a real friend anyway.  Although I'm not hurt by her choice to "defriend" me, I can't help but wonder if I hurt her feelings.  Hurting others' feelings is not something I intentionally do but I am also entitled to my own opinion.  If that person is reading this, please accept my apology if I hurt your feelings.  But also know that those who leave opinionated comments, especially when religion is involved,  are at risk of my own comments, however kind or snarky. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Medical Update for Jackie

Yesterday was a great day.  Much better than I had ever anticipated.  Jackie had back to back appointments to see her foot surgeon and the eye doctor. I was expecting to get surgery dates for her left foot and the left eye. 
Last Fall, Jackie's foot surgeon told me that Jackie will need the 2nd stage of her cavus correction, this time on the bone.  We were set to have the surgery performed this past January or February.  Jackie fractured her clavicle (for the 3rd time) a couple of days after Christmas.  Because of that, the foot surgery was put off temporarily.  After Jackie's clavicle healed, I began to have second thoughts about the foot surgery.  It was just so difficult to see my daughter in so much pain after the last surgery.  It was much more painful than the heel cord release surgery she had at age 23 months. I never called the doctor's office to reschedule the surgery.  After a few months passed and after talking with Jackie's physical therapist about the surgery again, I made an appointment with the surgeon to discuss the impending surgeon and schedule a time for it.  That appointment was the first of 2 appointments yesterday.  X-rays were taken of Jackie's foot before she was to be seen by the doctor.  We waited and waited.  As good as this surgeon is, it is quite frustrating to have to wait all the time.  This doctor is not known, at all, for seeing patients at their appointed times.  I believe the least amount of time I have waited with Jackie in the exam room before actually seeing the doctor is 45 minutes.  It's not unusual to wait up to 2 hours.  This day, we waited nearly an hour before the doctor came in.  He looked at Jackie's x-rays, looked at her foot, evaluated her gait, manipulated her foot again, and more.  Then he made the most unexpected comment that he didn't think surgery was going to be the right thing at this time.  I was extremely surprised.  This was not at all what he talked about last Fall.  But I was happy and Jackie was even happier.  Jackie remembers the pain from the last surgery.  Before we left, the orthotist came in to take impressions of Jackie's feet to fit her for another AFO. 
I have to share a funny while we waited in this doctor's office.  Since I left Ben with a babysitter, Jackie had my full attention.  She was quite the chatterbox and talking about many different things.  Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, Jackie says "Remember when we were at our other house and you were fat?  And remember when we moved to our new house and you were fat before you did Zumba?"  I couldn't help but shake my head and chuckle at the randomness of her comment. 
The next appointment was to the eye doctor just one floor below.  Two months ago, the ophthalmologist told us that if there was no or just very little improvement with Jackie's left eye, then he would go ahead and recommend the surgery.  I was very open to this as it has been such a battle to get Jackie to wear her eyeglasses.  She battles us with the patching techniques, too.  Tim and I were quite comfortable about having the eye surgery done.  So this day, I was actually expecting to get a surgery day, hopefully before school starts in another month.  We didn't actually see the ophthalmologist this time.  We saw the O.D. who is very familiar with Jackie's case.  We discussed the eyeglass and patching battles since the last appointment.  We discussed the possibility of surgery.  Jackie, hearing all of this, speaks up and tells the O.D. that she did not want surgery.  The O.D. looked at Jackie and explained to Jackie, once again, how important it is that she wears her eyeglasses and cooperate with the patching.  Jackie told her that she likes her Dora glasses (the ones that were run over, of course).  She wants Dora glasses again and she promised she would wear them.  Well, sorry kiddo, Dora didn't come through for us the first time, I doubt that she would come through for us again.  Apparently, Jackie has quite the voice because Jackie is getting her way of no surgery for now.  The O.D. allowed Jackie to promise, once again (this time, a pinkie promise), that she would wear her eyeglasses and cooperate with the patching.  Of course, with all the broken promises, I'm holding my breath on this latest promise.  I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that we just can't go ahead and do the simple eye surgery and get it over with.  I was just hoping for one less battle with Jackie.  But alas, time will now tell if Jackie will have the eye surgery.  And we'll just try to continue the battle between Jackie and her eyeglasses.
So, we spent all morning/early afternoon at the Children's Hospital where I was fully expecting to have at least one surgery scheduled, but we came away with the good news of no surgery right now.  Well, at least the postponement of the foot surgery is good news to me.  That is one decision that I am glad to not have to make for at least another 8-9 months. 
Despite the fact that my children keep me busy with all of their various therapy appointments, I am very thankful to God that they have experienced good health otherwise. 

Another Edition of "The Joys of Boys"

I learned today another advantage of being a mom to a little boy.  I hope my little boy doesn't flame me after he reads this when he's older.
We had another full day today.  The kids and I spent time at a friend's house this morning.  My kids, as usual, acted as if they are deprived of such pleasures as juice and cookies at our home.  One of the first things my kids asked for at this friend's house was juice.  Being such a kind person that my friend is, she gave the kids some juice.  My kids, being so deprived, promptly sucked the stuff down even after I warned them not to.  Not five minutes later, Jackie comes to me pleading that she is thirsty.  My friend was so kind to mix some Crystal Light for my kids. My kids' bladders are usually very sensitive to sugary or sweet drinks and I must admit that as a result, they are deprived of such sweet, sugary concoctions at our home.  Thankfully, the kids showed no ill effects involving their bladders.
After visiting my friend, Ben had a speech therapy appointment after which we had to head to St. Louis for Jackie's occupational therapy appointment.  I made sure the kids were pottied before we left for St. Louis. I had just enough time to drive into St. Louis, fill up my car's tank (gas is cheaper in St. Louis), and get to Jackie's appointment.  Unfortuately, about 1/3 of our way, Ben started yelling "potty".  Shoot, all the sugary concoctions were finally catching up with him.  Dang.  What do I do?  I was on the interstate and I knew I had to get this little boy to a potty lest we have an accident.  I got off at the next exit.  What do I do?  Take both kids out of the car and go into the Hardee's?  If I did that, we would definitely not make it to Jackie's appointment on time.  See, my kids are very pokey.  What takes you and I just 2 minutes to do, times it by 10 when you add my kids to the mix.   I had to come up with a plan and quick.  I saw the Hardee's and was headed in that direction when I noticed a small, quiet-looking street ahead.  Aha, perhaps I could just stop over there.  Good idea, right?  Well, I got to the street which was sort of behind a hotel and I immediately got paranoid that I would get caught allowing my son to pee outside.  I also worried about potential predators.  I had to come up with an idea quickly as Ben was yelling "potty" and we just didn't have the time to stop the car, unbuckle everyone, walk inside the restaurant, go potty, and reverse the process.  I quickly looked around my car for a pull-up to put on Ben.  No luck.  Then I saw an empty water bottle.  Hmm.  Well, that was just going to have to do.  So, I quickly got out, unstrapped Ben from his seat, and had him stay in the back of the car, then had him go.  All the while, I was looking over my shoulder.  And Ben?  Well, he thought that was the funniest thing to do.  After he finished, he turned around and looked at his sister with the biggest grin and pointed to his accomplishment as I poured it out and threw the bottle away.  Hopefully, I won't be faced with this for awhile.  And hopefully Jackie won't get any ideas because it just won't work.  Let's face it, boys have more advantage in that area.
I called Tim to tell him of the pleasure (or displeasure) of helping out his son. Daddy couldn't be more proud.  It must be a man thing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sneaky Kids

My kids have become quite sneaky lately.  And they think they're doing a good job at it, too.  It's too bad that their body language and sometimes the physical evidence gives them away.  Of course, being that Ben looks up to his big sister, he is learning the tricks of the trade from Jackie.
Ben is especially sneaky with his Daddy's Coke.  I can't tell you how many times I have told Tim to keep his open Coke cans out of Ben's reach.  And many times, Tim will return to his Coke, only to find it empty.  A few weeks ago, I treated myself to a Caffeine-free Coke.  I had it over ice in one of my insulated glasses.  I was nearly finished with it when I set it on my kitchen counter to go tend to something else.  A little while later, I noticed my glass was gone.  I looked for it for a few moments but then I got distracted with something else and forgot about the missing glass.  A couple of days later, I realized that I still had not found my glass.  I knew it wasn't in Ben's room because that was one of the first places that I looked after it went missing.  Since it had not appeared for a couple of days, I figured that Tim must have washed it so he could use it in his truck. (When he does that, that particular item is forever lost in the abyss of his truck).
A couple of weeks after the missing glass episode, I decided to move Ben's long pants to the armoire in his room.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the armoire to be greeted by my missing cup, emptied.  I just had to shake my head and laugh.  Yeah, he got me this time.
This afternoon, the kids were begging for snacks.  Again.  I said no, of course.  Again.  I was getting ready to prepare dinner. The kids retreated to Ben's room where I could hear them talking and fussing.  Then Jackie came out and went into the kitchen.  I heard some rustling around and before I could get up to investigate, I saw Jackie run through the family room back into Ben's room.  I asked Jackie what she had in her hand.  She denied having anything.  I insisted that she come back and face me and show me what she had. She came out, with a sheepish smile and showed me her empty hands.  I then asked her what she took into the bedroom and reminded her of the rule of no food in the bedrooms.  She still denied having anything.  As I was getting up to go investigate, I saw Lucy (aka Dumb Dog) go into Ben's room with her tail up and her nose down, sniffing for food.  As I reached Ben's room, I saw Lucy rooting around under Ben's bed.  Aha!  Caught!  Dumb Dog really is good for something.  She led me right to the scene of the crime.  And she was chowing down.  On vanilla wafers.  Hahaha. Again, I just had to shake my head and laugh. I love that dog.  I really do. Even if her nickname is Dumb Dog.  And I love my kids. 
I picked up the remaining vanilla wafers and the kids immediately started to whine and squeal.  Then Jackie complained that I was making Ben sad because she got the vanilla wafers for him.  Yeah right, kid.   And I love you, too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dinner Time Woes... Need Opinions

For the past few months, I've been having difficulty getting my 3 1/2 year old son to eat dinner.  His usual breakfast consists of Ovaltine mixed with milk, a breakfast bar, and sometimes a tiny bit of cereal.He used to eat a banana every morning but as of late, he is not into bananas.  Lunch varies.  Sometimes he eats good, other times not so much.  He really likes apples slices with caramel so sometimes I allow him to have that.  That's about the only fruit I can get Ben to eat right now. Other times, he will eat cheese on crackers with the occasional lunch meat included.  He also likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Between breakfast and lunch, the kids are constantly complaining of being hungry even though they are allowed a couple of snacks.  I get extremely frustrated at times because they seem to want to eat junk all day long.  I've even gone to the extreme of not buying any snacks except the healthy ones to no avail.  When I do that, the other family member goes on the hunt for snacks and when his hunt ends in vain, he will venture up to the closest store to buy a snack. So my efforts to feed my family more healthy foods is just not working out here.
Ben especially has his father's sweet tooth.  If I don't give Ben what he wants, he actually becomes violent and starts to hit me or throw stuff around or even knock stuff off the table.  I have disciplined him countless times for this behavior. 
As I mentioned, dinner time has been a battle for the past few months.  I know Ben likes most of what I cook. Lately, though, he is just turning his nose up just about every night.  I am not the sort of parent who will force my kids to eat stuff that I know for a fact they don't like.  For instance, Jackie gags on fish. She has nearly vomited from it. So if I cook something that involves fish, I don't mind cooking a different side dish for her.  If I cook something that is not very child friendly, I will cook something different for the kids.  I am NOT going to force my children to eat stuff that I know they cannot stand.  I was forced all through my childhood to eat stuff that I did not like, even atypical foods. In addition to that, I had oral sensory issues.  Even if something had a pleasant aroma and/or flavor, if it felt funny in my mouth, I couldn't eat it without gagging.  As a result of being forced to eat those foods, I became a picky eater.  And I still have oral sensory issues.  I do not want my children to struggle with these issues.  I do, however, encourage my children to try certain foods and will put a small sample of such on their plates. 
In dealing with Ben's dinner time issues, I have come to the point of telling him that if he gets up from the table, he will get one reminder that he needs to sit with the rest of us and eat.  If he continues to get up, then he is done with his dinner.  No dinner = no snack.  I used to occasionally offer him a peanut butter sandwich after dinner but no other snack.  I quit doing that.  If he doesn't eat dinner, then he doesn't get anything else until breakfast time. 
Unfortunately, the other adult member of this family does not see eye to eye on this issue.  He agrees no snacks if the kids don't eat dinner.  But his idea of snacks does not include raisins.  He and I disagree.  Do you find raisins to be a healthy snack?  Well, I guess they are better than candy, cookies, or cake.  Tonight, Ben did not eat his dinner.  Again.  Then awhile later, Ben started rummaging through the pantry (yes, I have safety lock on the pantry door but last summer, Ben figured out  how to disengage it), and came out with raisins.  I told him no.  Well, he went and asked his daddy.  Guess what Daddy said? Yes, you guessed it.  He can have raisins.  When I reminded Tim that Ben did not eat dinner and then asked why he allowed Ben to have raisins, his reply was that they're healthy so he thought it would be okay.  Hmm, raisins are better than candy, cookies, or cake but they are not healthy in my opinion.  At least, not deserving enough to be a healthy alternative to dinner.  I was a little frustrated because I feel like we're not on the same team when it comes to trying to teach our son good eating habits.  But if I allow my kids an after-school snack (during the school year), he has his own opinions about it.  I can't win for losing.  I admit that there have been times that I got so tired of hearing "I'm hungry" that I just open the pantry and let the kids go at it. 
So, do any of my readers have opinions on this issue?  Any suggestions? 

The Bathing Suit

I don't usually forward emails that I receive from others but this one is too cute to not share.  Enjoy!

The Bathing Suit (by a middle-age woman unknown) 
When I was a child in the 1950s, the bathing suit for the mature figure 
was-boned, trussed and reinforced, not so much sewn as engineered.  They 
were built to hold back and uplift, and they did a good job. 

Today's stretch fabrics are designed for the prepubescent girl with a 
figure carved from a potato chip. 

The mature woman has a choice, she can either go up front to the 
maternity department and try on a floral suit with a skirt, coming away 
looking like a hippopotamus that escaped from Disney's Fantasia, or she 
can wander around every run-of-the-mill department store trying to make 
a sensible choice from what amounts to a designer range of fluorescent 
rubber bands. 

What choice did I have?  I wandered around, made my sensible choice and 
entered the chamber of horrors known as the fitting room.  The first 
thing I noticed was the extraordinary tensile strength of the stretch 
material.  The Lycra used in bathing costumes was developed, I believe, 
by NASA to launch small rockets from a slingshot, which gives the added 
bonus that if you manage to actually lever yourself into one, you would 
be protected from shark attacks.  Any shark taking a swipe at your 
passing midriff would immediately suffer whiplash. 

I fought my way into the bathing suit, but as I twanged the shoulder 
strap in place I gasped in horror, my boobs had disappeared! 

Eventually, I found one boob cowering under my left armpit.  It took a 
while to find the other.  At last I located it flattened beside my 
seventh rib. 

The problem is that modern bathing suits have no bra cups.  The mature 
woman is meant to wear her boobs spread across her chest like a speed 
bump.  I realigned my speed bump and lurched toward the mirror to take a 
full view assessment. 

The bathing suit fit all right, but unfortunately it only fit 
those bits of me willing to stay inside it.  The rest of me oozed out 
rebelliously from top, bottom and sides.  I looked like a lump of 
Playdoh wearing undersized cling wrap. 

As I tried to work out where all those extra bits had come from, the 
prepubescent sales girl popped her head through the curtain, "Oh, there 
you are," she said, admiring the bathing suit. 

I replied that I wasn't so sure and asked what else she had to show me. 
I tried on a cream crinkled one that made me look like a lump of 
masking tape, and a floral two-piece that gave the appearance of an 
oversized napkin in a serving ring. 

I struggled into a pair of leopard-skin bathers with ragged frills and 
came out looking like Tarzan's Jane, pregnant with triplets and having 
a rough day. 

I tried on a black number with a midriff and looked like a jellyfish in 

I tried on a bright pink pair with such a high cut leg I thought I 
would have to wax my eyebrows to wear them. 

Finally, I found a suit that fit, it was a two-piece affair with a 
shorts-style bottom and a loose blouse-type top.  It was cheap, 
comfortable, and bulge-friendly, so I bought it.  My ridiculous search 
had a successful outcome, I figured. 

When I got it home, I found a label that read, "Material might become 
transparent in water." 

So, if you happen to be on the beach or near any other body of water 
this year and I'm there too, I'll be the one in cut-off jeans and a 

You'd better be laughing or rolling on the floor by this time.  Life 
isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain, 
with or without a bathing suit!

Note:     Anyone who received this - who wears a single digit dress size - THIS WAS SENT TO YOU IN ERROR, but I hope you got a good chuckle out of it anyway!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Figure Competition Night

Tonight, for the first time, I went to a body building/figure competition.  My friend, K, and I went to support our personal trainer, M, who was competing for the second time.  I'm glad that I went, although it does not make me aspire to be on stage strutting my nearly naked body.
K and I had no clue what to expect.  We got our tickets and sat down just in time for M to be introduced (along with about 120 others) at the beginning.  I did not realize there so many classes for judging: women's bodybuilding, mens bodybuilding light and heavy, beginner and novice figures, bikini, extreme fit, mixed pairs, open figure short and tall, and the list goes on.  Before K and I knew it, nearly 2 1/2 hours passed before our trainer was finally onstage.  M did a great job.  She has worked so hard this past year.  And I believe our cheering section for M was the loudest out of everyone in the entire theater. 
There were some interesting routines for sure tonight.  Especially in the men's division.  VERY interesting.  Some that I was not even too sure what to think.  But my favorite for the men's bodybuilding (well, actually 2 favorites) were Smiley Elmore (think Powerteam) and another guy (can't remember his name) whose routine song of choice was a Casting Crowns piece.  Awesome.
There was a mixed pairs division.  The pair consisted of a mother and her son.  The mother has 5 children.  The son was just 15 years old but he did great.  Of course, being the only mixed pair to compete in this show, they won 1st place.  Or would that be last place?  
Despite the fact that the women's outfits (if you want to call it that) were somewhat revealing, many of them were actually quite beautiful.  But still, I am not inspired to parade myself on stage like that.  I really admire my trainer for that but then, she has the body for it. (I used to have that kind of body but those days are long past)  I was really impressed by the number of women over age 40 and even in the upper 50s.  And they looked good.  The 57-year old really inspired me.  She looked fan-ta-stic. At least, on stage she looked fantastic. And the 46-year old looked like she was 26 years old. She did great, too.  In fact, if I remember correctly, both of these women placed 1st in their respective categories. A few of the other women competitors had had babies in the past year.  I think the youngest baby mentioned was 6 months old.  And those mothers looked good, too.
As inspiring as some of those women were, going to this competition was a reminder to me that I will never perform in a show such as this.  I'm too fussy.  I would not be able to tolerate the tan (err, body paint?), the glitter on the eyelids, the very high-heeled platform shoes, the poofy hair, heavy make-up, the bleached white teeth.  Perhaps it's my sensory issues holding me back?  Nah, it's just not for me.  I mean, some of those people were painted so dark and their teeth were so bleached white that when they smiled, it hurt my eyes.  Literally.  It reminded me of the Toddlers and Tiaras show where the little girls use these bleach white flippers and paste on their best fake smile when on stage. 
I was impressed with the number of competitors who expressed their faith on stage tonight, whether it was through their song choice or verbally giving credit to God.  And a couple of the girls were so thankful to God for giving them the opportunity to compete and/or be fit.  I don't know about you but I think I would have to thank God for not striking me dead for strutting my stuff on stage with strategically placed... um... pieces of beaded fabric? Like I said, I'm inspired but I have no aspirations of pumping my muscles on stage.  But I am inspired to continue to stay fit.
Congratulations to my trainer, M, for a job well done! Now take it easy and enjoy some chocolate.  And pizza.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

I am proud to be an American.  And I love patriotic songs.  I remember my home church in Florida always celebrated July 4th which included patriotic songs during the church service.  I miss that.
I went to church with my family yesterday and was quite disappointed that there was very little recognition for this very important holiday.  The orchestra played a patriotic piece but it sure would have been nice to include a couple of songs for the congregation to sing.  I felt that the worship portion of the service was just all about religion with no regard to our country's fight for freedom.  Freedom to even be able to worship in the way that we can, unlike so many other countries.  A freedom that should be recognized and celebrated even in churches.  A freedom that I wish we would have sung about in church yesterday. 
So since I enjoy patriotic songs, I am including links to a few of my favorite pieces.  Make sure you mute the music on the sidebar of this blog.
O, America by Celtic Woman
I'm Proud To Be An American
National Anthem
American, "the song"
America, the Beautiful
I love my country America!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Birds and Bunnies... and Snakes! Yikes!

This week has been a busy one for watching nature unfold.  Well, that is, if you exclude my killer mini Aussie.  I thought Aussies were herders, not hunters. You can read that story here.
I did not know that wild bunnies can hop soon after birth.  That was evidenced to me on Friday evening.  That night after I let the dogs out into the backyard, I went to check on my orphan bunny.  After I rescued the bunny on Thursday afternoon, I put him in a large shoe box with a couple of old towels and I placed the box on top of my antique dresser.  But when I looked in the box Friday night, the bunny was not in there.  I panicked and looked around the dresser. I even got a flashlight to look behind and under the dresser.  No bunny!  Now I was really frantic.  I was worried that my killer mini Aussie had somehow reached the box and enjoyed what would have been his last meal.  I looked under and behind my nightstand, still to no avail.  Finally, I looked under my bed and there he was!  Phew!  I quickly grabbed him and immediately went down to the basement to look for a taller box.  Thankfully, we had one and that is where baby bunny has been residing ever since.  Apparently, my little renegade bunny crawled or hopped out of the shoe box, fell about 3-4 feet to the carpeted floor, and made his way underneath my bed.  He's a survivor, for sure. I am amazed at how quickly he has grown since Thursday morning when I first saw him.  His ears are starting to stick up and his fur is growing in really well.  He really looks like a bunny now.  My goal is to keep him alive until 4 weeks when I'll be able to release him to eat up what's remaining of my and the neighbor's plants.  (just kidding, although I'm not so sure my neighbors would be pleased to know that I saved a wild bunny)

I love it when I can watch nature unfold.  Unless if involves snakes and other creepy, crawly creatures.  We have a barn swallow bird nest at the top of our porch.  I think barn swallows have the cutest faces.  Although Tim was not too pleased about the amount of bird, umm, crap along the side of the house, I have enjoyed watching these birds tend to their nest.  A couple of weeks ago, using a small ladder and a mirror, I was able to check the nest.  I was excited to see 2 eggs in there.  I checked them every couple of days.  Last week, one of the eggs hatched.  The other egg never did hatch and I believe the bird parents eventually tossed it over.  I continued to check on the progress of the lone baby bird.  Today, I got a good glimpse of it as it was leaning over the nest.  I got the mirror to look in the nest and as I was doing that, one of the parents acted like it was going to dive-bomb me.  It would be so cool if I actually catch the baby bird's first flight.  I love that kind of nature.

I do NOT like snakes, though.  Poisonous or not, they are CREEPY.  I will no longer be weeding the landscaping in front of my house.  Last year as I was weeding in there, a snake suddenly bolted away and I nearly broke a leg in my quest to get away from it. And yes, I screamed like a girl, too. I had hoped that the snake was scared away for good but that apparently is not the case.  This past week, I found a snake skin in there on top of my bag of soil that I had planned on using in that area.   A snake MOLTED there!  Well, that area is now Tim's territory and his alone.  And Jackie's bedroom window will never be opened again.   I HATE snakes!  And lizards and spiders.  And anything else that doesn't have fur.  I like fish, though.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Special Dinner Guests

My family had special dinner guests this evening.  As excited as I was, I was also a tad nervous.  I don't really know why.  We rarely entertain in our own home so perhaps I was worried about my hosting abilities.  Or perhaps it was because this was our pastor and his wife and son.  It doesn't matter now because it turned out wonderfully. 
I have to give my friend, Katrina, credit for the idea of inviting a pastor over for a dinner.  Several months ago, Katrina and her family invited their own pastor and his family over for dinner.  Katrina shared with me a conversation that she had with her sister, J, who is a pastor's wife.  When Katrina told J about the plans to invite her own pastor for dinner, J told Katrina how much she appreciated those plans.  J explained to Katrina that so many people think pastors and their families are often too busy and thus are often not invited to congregants homes.  I admit that I was one of those who thought pastors and their wives were too busy for somebody like me.  And so many pastors wives whom I've met over the years just seemed so... out of reach?  I've always felt too inadequate to even think about hosting a pastor's wife.  Until recently, that is.
So, tonight was the night to host our special guests, and it was such an enjoyable time.  I chose one of my own family's favorite meals and it was a hit with Pastor B and his wife.  M brought over home-made mint ice cream and brownies.  Tim and I enjoyed getting to know Pastor B (and M) better.  All in all, it was a really nice time, albeit a bit short.  It was just like enjoying company with regular folk.  Well, they are regular folk and I love that. 
Many thanks to my friend, Katrina, who unintentionally gave me the idea to extend a dinner invitation to my pastor.  If not for her, I may not have even considered doing it because like so many other people, I always thought pastors were just too busy for people like me.   Thanks again Katrina!