Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Munchkin in My Bed

I was jolted into consciousness just after 2 am, somehow aware of the light on in the living room. It was the first thing I was aware of, the noise of the fan having drowned out the noise that inevitably accompanied….

The little girl sitting crouched on the corner of the bed closest to my head!!! I’ve never sat bolt upright in bed so fast in my life. If my stomach muscles are sore today, I’ll know exactly why. Thankfully, I recognized her immediately and didn’t go into ninja defense mode as I’m sure Drea would have. Instead I scooped her up and carried her back up to her room, fixed her ailing princess night light, talked to her for a few minutes, and then retreated back to my own bed.

But I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was disturbed. How could a child climb onto the head of my bed without my hearing it? What if she just wandered her way outside and out to the barn without my knowledge? I tossed and turned and tried to go back to sleep, but the eventual dozing was superficial at best.

When she came back downstairs at 3:30 I was more prepared. I wasn’t startled awake like I was before. She happily informed me that her brother had known where her rainbow light was and held it up for me to see.

Great!, I’m thinking, She’s trying to wake up the whole tribe now! Turns out she just randomly walked into his room and found her light without waking him up at all, so it was all good. I got her back into her bed again and snuggled her down under the blankets before checking on the other two kiddos, both thankfully sound asleep.

I crawled back in bed and tried to get comfortable. Why was the bed so lumpy? What’s wrong with these blankets? Why on earth is that fan rattling so much??? That last one I said out loud and woke up my husband.

Next thing I knew I had someone hovered over me, trying to kiss my cheek. I nearly jumped out of bed, he startled me so much. Apparently I had eventually tossed and turned enough to get comfortable and go back to sleep.

Just in time to get up.

Good Heavens.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cookies With Emmy

Since Josh is in school and Elayna is taking a late morning nap, Emmy and I decided we needed to find a project for us "big girls" to tackle together! So we have determined to make it through our whole cookie recipe book! I love to bake, and Emmy enjoys helping me measure and stir. We are having lots of fun experimenting on all of these new cookie recipes, so I thought I'd share a little with you.

Our first recipe was called "Back Bay Cookies" and seemed a little daunting because we were supposed to find some chestnuts to use. Finally I gave up and we bought a little package of macadamia nuts to use instead.

They turned out wonderfully, and it will definitely be a recipe I use again, once I can find some chestnuts around here or buy some macadamia nuts in bulk so they're a bit cheaper!

Anyway, because this is going to be an ongoing project, I decided to start up a new blog for those interested in seeing the recipes and the cookies and hear the reviews:

That way we don't fill up this blog with myriads of cookie pictures and recipes! I'll have to add a link to the sidebar too so you can find it easier.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Heart Day, Joshua!

~~photo taken the day after surgery

Yes, amazingly, another year has passed since Joshua's surgery. I am sitting here wishing I could find a special way to commemorate this passing of time. I like to look back and realize how far he has come, how well we have all survived. There doesn't seem to be words enough or actions enough to Praise the Lord like I want to!

Looking back, I can see that there was life before the surgery, and life after. It’s an epoch. Much the same as getting married, or having a baby is a moment that you reflect on in the same manner. Life before marriage, life after marriage. Life before babies, life after babies. Nothing looks the same. It’s a different world that you live in, marked by this one specific moment.

It was like going through a tunnel. I could look back on life before we found out he needed surgery, and see the bright light of blissful ignorance, but at times it was nearly impossible to look forward and be sure that there was light up ahead of us too. I’m pretty certain the tunnel was not only dark and VERY cramped, so that you had to crawl through with “fingertips and toes” as Jake would say, like the caves we used to explore, but it was also COLLAPSIBLE. I know this because I remember the feeling of being run over by a bus.

It doesn’t hurt quite so bad to look back on the pictures. I know how the story turns out. I am no longer plagued by the fear, the what-ifs of those days. I can look at my little boy, keeping up the pace with all of the other kids, oblivious to how he is different. Because, quite honestly, at this point he really isn't. He remembers the events of that time, but not in the same way we remember them. He knows it was painful, but he has no memory of any fear. The fear was all ours. Fear comes from knowledge of what could happen, what might happen.

What a time that was. It took me a YEAR before I could meet a new mom, or find a new kid on the playground that I didn’t feel this strange compunction to tell the story to. I needed to tell the story, to find a thread of commonality between me and the other moms who have been through this. I couldn’t control it at times, even when I tried! I’d be all sitting there chatting with some mom about how old her kids were after 15 minutes of watching our kids play together and the next thing I knew I was grabbing Josh on a run-by and lifting up his shirt. I think I scared some of those poor moms and they may never have returned to the same play ground again for fear of running into me.

But I was so thankful for the moms who saw the scar and then told me the story of their own child’s walk down the path of recovery. To look into each others' eyes and nod our heads solemnly as we gave recognition of the strength it takes a mother's heart to watch her child suffer and the anguish we feel when we are helpless to fix it.

I’m much better about it now. I haven’t even told a single other parent at his school. His teachers? Yes. Of course. But I haven’t had this compulsion to tell random strangers now for several months. It’s good. It means that I’M recovering, finally, and my emotional scars are fading, too.

He doesn't remember what his voice used to sound like, before the partial paralysis of his vocal chords. He doesn't remember what exactly the difference was in how he felt before as opposed to how he feels now - to him his life was "normal" before the surgery, and is "normal" now! It is such a joy to watch him grow and thrive and just simply be a little boy. I can't describe how proud I am of him and the kind of thoughtful person he is becoming! I look forward to being able to talk to him as he gets older about his perspective on all of this.

Praise God for His healing touch, for His bountiful mercies, for the wisdom, knowledge, and compassion He gave to the nurses and doctors who helped heal Joshua's heart and give him a second chance at life.

I thought about posting the more graphic pictures, but I still just can't quite do it. They still bring tears to my eyes and it doesn't quite seem appropriate to post them on the web.

~~don't take the bandaid off!

~~my sweet little boy, almost 4 years old.

~~now almost 6! My handsome little man, an awesome big brother, thoughtful and sweet. Happy 2nd HeartDay, Josh.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Huh? What? Can You Repeat That Please?

I am happy with my car. It is a lovely Mom-U-V with 4 wheel drive, plenty of room for 3 kids, and a lovely Bose 6 disc changer for those times I might want to turn up the music loud enough to do some ear damage.

"What?!", you say, "Does she really listen to loud music with those tender little ears in the back seat?!". Uh. No. Not really. My lovely, more than adequate, Bose speakers are mostly reserved for yet another round of Wee-Sing Bible Songs. It's in slot #1 and has been permanently ensconced there for at least a year. When Mommy can't handle another round of those 64 songs, I switch to the local praise channel and we listen to that for a while. Did I mention my car and its stereo is lovely?

Once every fortnight or so, however, I do get a chance to actually drive for more than 5 miles to the grocery store without kids and take that opportunity to revisit my past affinity for many different kinds of music. I think they'd pretty much all be considered oldies now, though. I haven't the faintest idea what's being played on the radio these days as far as contemporary music.

For that matter, I usually don't have a clue what else is in the other 5 slots of my cd player! Now and then we go on a road trip, or Colby drives the car somewhere, and he changes all the rest of the cd's. And then I'll be heading down the road, blissfully free of kids for a couple of hours, and turn on "Trucker's Jukebox Volume VIII" or something awful like that which completely offends my ears. I'll frantically push random buttons until it switches to the next cd, which will be something like "Southern Rock favorites of the 70's". Yes, admittedly, my husband has questionable taste in music, but I love him anyway.

A few months ago I was on just one of these childless excursions on which my "free time" actually turns into "getting-groceries-without-three-kids-constitutes-as-fun-right?" time. I turned on the cd player to some weird southern oldies rock thing my husband plagued me with that time, switched it over to the next cd, and listened as "Sweet Home Alabama" came on. Well, okay, I thought. Sweet Home Alabama is a classic. Who doesn't like that song? Up until that point I think it was the only Lynyrd Skynyrd song I'd ever heard. I listened to some of the other songs on the cd and actually found myself liking it. My feet were all tapping along to the beat and before I knew it I was playing "Simple Man" over and over and humming along. Go figure. I learned there really is a song called "Free Bird" like so many other songs talk about!

I eventually did pull out the other stuff and replace them with some good old Creed and maybe even some old Alanis after repeatedly trying to pull out my cd case from under the passenger seat while driving.

And then I turned it up.

See, I never really went to many concerts when I was young. If I were to count them all up, it would be in the neighborhood of, oh, six. And those were all pretty tame. No Creed, no Garth Brooks. 4 of them were outdoor concerts. So, you see, I figure I still have plenty of room on the ear-burning scale to enjoy a loud car trip now and then.

But lately I've been rethinking this.

When my first child was born, life was still pretty quiet. The loudest noises he made were BRrrrrmmmmp'ing his lips to make the sound of a truck, or the clanging of a wooden spoon on the bottom of a pot in the kitchen while I made dinner. My job was just slightly more damaging to the ear drums than a librarians.

Then I had a daughter. The girl has a set of lungs. And she knows how to use them. Most people who spend any amount of time with us will comment eventually on how ear splitting her squeals can be. When she gets hurt, she holds her breath, sometimes until she turns an odd shade of purple, and then sucks in as fully as she can and lets it loose. When she's frustrated, well, that's when it gets really interesting.

Right about then I had another daughter. Her big sister taught her well.

"Nip it in the bud!" I hear the grandmas telling me. I think I should have done that when the first girl was about 18 months old, but I was busy having another baby!

The other day I felt like I must be going crazy. I had said "huh? what did you say?" for the 50th time that morning and felt like I needed a hearing aid. Granted, I do have a son with partially paralyzed vocal chords so he's quiet, but come on! This was getting ridiculous!

And then... Emmy got hurt. I heard the initial whimper, and the silence as she commenced holding her breath. I ran to her and grabbed her up into my lap and tried to break her out of her half-panic by asking her where it hurt. Nothing.... Nothing...

Wait for it...

***SCREEEEEEEEEECH!!!!*** Right. In. My. Ear.

When my head stopped ringing, and my brain lost it's fuzziness and came out of it's state of shock, I realized I had been wrong. My job is MUCH louder than a librarian's. It's more like highway construction worker with the jackhammer going Waaay too often. It's a good thing I didn't go to more concerts. I might be stone deaf by now.

I mean, no one tells you when you become a mom that you might lose your hearing some time in your 30's. No one equips you with a sturdy pair of earplugs on a string to keep around your neck so that when your 3 year old falls and bumps her knee you don't have to say to her, "Hold on, dear! Mommy's coming!", while thinking, "... now where did I put those little orange ear plugs?". Of course, that might take away from the whole nurturing/loving thing in the poor child's eyes, so we sacrifice our hearing, like so many other things, in the name of mommyhood.

So, yes, maybe it's time for me to rethink the whole cranking the Bose stereo now and then, too. I'd rather like to hear my kids' voices when they stand up someday and say their vows. And then I'll chuckle to myself as I picture the day they bring babies home from the hospital and swoon over the tiny little newborn cries that they think are the most precious sound in the world.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Life in a Small Town

Living in a Small Town.... where the lady at the pizza place doesn't mind when your 5 year old pours out his piggy bank on the counter and pays for his saved-two-months-of-pennies-for pizza, and where the line of people behind you just smile 'cause one of them is your neighbor and another is your husband's second cousin, and say, "Good Job, Josh!" as he carries his very own pizza out the door. where Sunday morning brunch is always at the same little cafe on the other side of town, and where when you find a hair on your hashbrowns you know it was either the waitress' (hubby's cousin) or the girl you go to church with, and you really don't mind that much so you pick it off and eat around the spot instead of making a fuss. where you come home and find a big bag of garden grown tomatoes on your kitchen table and know it was the neighbors who brought them in and set them down when you were gone 'cause they know exactly how to get in and you're just thankful for the shared bounty. where your child can go to an honest to goodness one room schoolhouse that has been in continuous operation since the late 19th century. It's where their cousins will go, where the girl we see every Sunday at brunch goes (she's 4th generation to go there!), and where they still say the pledge of allegiance every morning, where gum, swearing, and hat wearing are some of the worst offenses heard of. where when you forget to pay your auto insurance the insurance guy spots you $400 from his own pocket, pays it first, then tells you later next time he sees you, and doesn't mind waiting until pay day to get paid back. Absolutely amazing. where when you walk into the bank you don't have an account at to cash a check the teller looks at you, looks at the name on the check, and instead of asking for ID says, "Yeah, you look like (one of the family), are you (so-and-so's) kid? I went to school with him!" And cashes the check without thinking twice. where when your wife spins the car off the icy road in January, 3 people call you before she even has the chance to call herself! First, a cousin, who works on the road commission who heard on the scanner in the shop, then an aunt, who drove by, and then a friend, who was listening to the scanner at her grandma's house! lol! By the time she made the call, the response was, "Yeah, I know, you spun off the road at such-and-such a milepost and the wrecker is already on the way!" The wrecker owner is also a family friend. where your son is 6th generation resident. Roots run deep here in these potato fields! where the state trooper sees you going 70 in a 55 and just smiles and waves 'cause he knows you're late for supper.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Josh Goes To School

After all the fun of the family visiting, we had to quickly switch gears and get our schedule switched around to getting up at 6 and off to school before 7. Bedtime comes earlier now, too, but still not early enough for me these days! Our lives just went up a notch on the Busy Scale.

So, yes, the first day was hard. Thankfully it was a half day. We'd been to the school and met the teachers previously, but Josh was still not enthused about "being dropped off". He was fine with going to school, just not with me leaving. After a few tears in the hallway and a pep talk on the phone with Daddy, he was more composed. I sat in his classroom with him for 5 minutes and then edged my way toward the door. After I slipped out, I stood in the hallway for a while to make sure he wasn't going to come running out the door looking for me. Pretty soon I heard his voice, telling his classmates and teachers some story of his, probably about dinosaurs. I knew he'd be okay after that.

By the third day he was hopping out of the car and I was running to catch up with him. Without a hug or a kiss he called out, "Bye, Mom!" and popped into the classroom without me. I couldn't believe it. A little hesitation still would have been nice for this poor Mama's heart!

It's a very small school, less than 50 students, grades K-8. I'd love to talk all about the school he's going to, 'cause I think it's really cool, but I'll refrain from that seeing as how this IS the internet, after all.

Here he is on his first day:

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Amazing Bike Tricks

We found this amazing video the other day and Joshua has been fascinated by this guy's bike tricks. Music is not bad, but a bit rock-y so you may want to turn your volume down!


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