Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Joy of Christmas

Ah, Christmas.  That wonderful, magical time of year when family comes together and celebrates the birth of Christ, or unity, or just being together in general.  The season where everyone puts aside their differences and strives to make the world a better place.  Sound familiar?

Christmas wasn't like that this year.  Or rather, I should say, we tried to make Christmas that this year, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control.

My family celebrates on Christmas Eve.  We all get together with our multitude of children and exchange gifts.  The adults each draw a name and buy for just that one other adult; the children are showered with gifts by all.  We like it this way.  Except that this Christmas Eve, half the family were ill, so we had to postpone our family celebration to the 26th.  I actually was quite relieved to stay home Christmas Eve, because...

One of my children was overlooked this year.  Not by us, but by two sources that should have known better.  He was completely ignored on Christmas by these sources, although his siblings received gifts, and he was feeling it.  He spent a good portion of the afternoon on the 24th shut in his room, not moving or speaking.  I finally managed to draw him out with promises of opening one present that evening when his dad came home from work.

So he had a good and cheerful evening, and even got up early Christmas Day to open gifts with our small family.  He was smiling and happy and laughing, until he got a phone call.  A call that reminded him of being ignored, and how very painful that can be.  Then he retreated to his room and sat with a blanket over his head--sat there for hours, while I pleaded and begged for him to please come out and be happy.  

In desperation, I asked his friends if they could please do something.  They left their family and came over.  They tried all they could think of to pull him out.  They left at last, discouraged.  One came back.  This time he finally emerged--late afternoon--and went off to play and have fun.  I was so relieved, I nearly cried.

They all came back for dinner, which was loud and rambunctious, as only boys can make it.  We laughed and had a jolly time.

So then, after being reminded of how very thoughtless people can be, we celebrated with my family on the 26th...and I was reminded once again of how very wonderful my family is.  My son was positively showered with gifts, many more than he expected, by people who almost never see him.  They took time out of their busy schedules and money out of their wallets to bless him and make his Christmas bright.  He was thoroughly overwhelmed in the best of ways.

So although Christmas started off with depression and pain, it ended with happiness and joy, thanks to the goodness of so many people.  Because although Christmas isn't about how many presents one gives or gets, it is about Love.  Ignoring those who should be remembered--even in a small way--is not Love.  Deliberately leaving someone out is not Love.  Love is when people see a need and give--not for what they can get in return, but just with the intention of blessing someone and spreading happiness.  Love is seeing someone who may never return the blessing, and choosing to give and bless anyway.  Love gives--whether it be time, attention, or money.

And my family--in-laws, friends who've become like family, and those bound by blood--is full of Love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


(Written Sunday)
My little Henry achieved the age of THREE on Friday.  I am not ready for this.  Henry is still supposed to be my little boy, snuggly and sweet and charming.  (He is all of those.)  Henry being three means he's almost four, and that is so close to five.  And I'm not ready for him to learn to ride a bike, or pull his hand out of mine in the grocery store, or run to help Daddy take groceries out of the van.

The good thing is, I don't have to be ready, because it's not now.  Henry is growing just one day at a time, the same as every one of us.  Every day he becomes a little more independent, and every day I grow a little more accustomed to the idea.  For instance, we now allow him to be in the loft with Rowan's drum set.

I pulled Henry's toy drum out of the attic to distract him, but it didn't work out quite like I'd planned.

 Today we celebrated Henry's birthday.  We had a very difficult time deciding when to celebrate.  Weekdays we can't celebrate in the evenings, or Matthew wouldn't be there.  Saturdays it can't be during the day or Matthew can't be there.  Celebrating on Sundays means at least one of my sisters is automatically excluded.  To complicate matters further, one of my sisters and a nephew have birthdays tomorrow.

We finally settled on Sunday as the most likely day for the maximum amount of people to make it here, especially important because Daddy could be here.  Because I'm great at planning ahead, I sent a notification to my family on Thursday.  Some replied in the negative.  Some didn't bother to reply at all.  Some had last-minute issues this morning and texted that they couldn't make it.  (I am too familiar with that; I've missed a nephew's birthday and my sister's baby shower in the last week, sadly.)  Long story short, not a single person showed up.

Henry kept me up last night, so I didn't get to sleep until around 5:00 a.m.  I spent the morning making two kinds of cupcakes (36 cupcakes total), and sending my husband out for pizza, before seeing all the cancellation texts on my phone.  I felt strongly like scrapping the whole thing and going to bed.  After all, Henry didn't know we had anything special planned for the day.  He hardly knows what a birthday is.  As far as he was concerned, it was just another Sunday.

But--we went ahead and sang, and I "helped" Henry blow out his candle.  I wish I had pictures but I was so stressed and bothered that I didn't even think of my camera. 

(Written Monday...sort of.)
Well, long story short, Henry had a great birthday.  A neighbor boy came over and shot lots of pictures of Henry opening his presents (which he loved).  We ate cupcakes.  Lots of them.  And ice cream.  I got over my moodiness.  I even slept Sunday night, which was great.

It's still hard to believe he's three.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

This last week has been unusual in a few ways.  First, I did not have to go into Salem at all.  Gasp!  Admittedly, I did pass through Salem on my way to and from the airport, but that's not quite the same thing.  For one, I didn't have my children with me.

Second, I got all my primary grocery shopping done by 10:30 Friday morning.  This is very different from my usual schedule.  Usually I plan to leave by 10:00 to do shopping, but something or other (usually MS-related) delays it until after lunch, then delays it further, until I wind up going in with Matt when he goes to work, dropping the kids off at my sister's, then scrambling to fit shopping into the hour or so I have remaining before picking Matt up from work.  This time, however, I took Noah to school (the local community college) at 9:00, then went straight from there to the grocery store.  Everything (except for Salem-specific items) was done and I was back home by 10:30!  Oh, glory be!

Third, and possibly the most important, a Very Cool Person was in Salem for the week!  By which I mean, my totally awesome friend Julie!
Please ignore my double chin.  And the hat that makes me look bald.
 I wish I could say we partied with her every day, but since she's so cool and popular, there were lots of people who wanted pieces of her time.  So I got to see her Tuesday (since I got to pick her up from the airport, haha!) and today.

Ah, today.  Today was quite spur-of-the-moment and fun.  It started by being woken at 6:00 by a cute little guy named Henry.  When I got up and started to make breakfast, allergies hit.  So of course I took a Benadryl and by ten-ish I was ready to collapse.  So I did.  At 11:08 I received a text from Savanna:  "Ok, Fletcher said 11:30 - 12 works for him."

I should explain, Noah's friend Fletcher has agreed to help Savanna with a project.  Since neither knows each other extremely well, and since my house is rather Central Base anyway, they had planned to meet here.  A time had not been discussed.  So imagine my bewilderment at learning that they might be arriving in as little as twenty-two minutes.  Nevertheless, I rallied forth and attempted to get the house in some semblance of order.

When they showed up and sat down to discuss the project, I was suddenly very glad to be there, because they could not stay focused at all!  Not that it was terribly vital, but wow, they got distracted by all things geeky and had to discuss them at length!  It was actually extremely amusing.  We eventually sketched out a rough plan, and then I let them at the geekiness until I had to leave to get Julie.  Matthew and the small ones accompanied me.

We went to a park.  Hurray for parks!  The kidlings had fun.

The adults had fun.

 The kidlings and the adults had fun together.
I think Rowan might be in love with Julie.

All the way to the top!

Perched in their nest.

Reliving youthful days!


Hurray for swings!
Then I made Julie come home with me for dinner, because I'm selfish and I wanted to keep her around a bit longer.  So we had fettuccine alfredo, which is amazing.  And then I had to take her back to Salem. :( And she gave me a book, which I hope will be very enjoyable.  Rowan fell asleep before we got to Salem, and Henry fell asleep at home while I was gone, so I consider that a win!

How was your week?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Clutter to Cleanliness

Today I cleaned a corner of my bedroom.  I know you're shocked.  A whole corner!  Wow!

Being organized is something I have never managed.  Too much stuff; too few places to put it.  Having children made the disorganization worse.  When there are six baskets of laundry sitting around and you don't have time to fold them because children need food, or bathing, or to be played with; then finally they're in bed and you can't face the laundry because you need just a few minutes to yourself, at last..  Then the shelves are overflowing with books, because you have so, so, so many books, and they get piled on night stands and chairs, and perched on the edges of book shelves, and they fall on the floor and get scattered around and it's almost pointless to pick them up because there's nowhere to put them anyway..  When the cupboard where everything gets stashed is so full of disorganized items that things begin to spill out onto the floor, mixing with the laundry and books and toys that are already there..

Well, it's really hard to maintain order, and even harder to find time and energy to do anything about it.  It all seems like such a monstrous job, and I hardly know where to begin.  And no matter what I pick up, the children will fling more things around tomorrow, so it almost feels pointless.

So despite all that, this evening I cleaned one corner of my room.  Yes, a corner; the one between the built-in overflowing cupboards and the overstuffed book shelves.  I picked up books and stacked them on the shelves.  I smiled at boxes of pictures and set them on top of rag towels in the cupboards.  I picked up formerly clean clothes that had fallen out of baskets and were now covered in hairs, and put them in the dirty hamper to try again.

And you know something?  It feels really good to see the carpet again.  It's not perfect--yet--but I have an expanse of floor where I can walk without stepping carefully over or around junk.  And I have faith that tomorrow I can do another corner, and then another, and that at some point my room will be clean.  I may have to purge a lot of our possessions, but it will be worth it.

What corner in your life did you attack today?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cloning: It's Not Just In Star Wars Anymore

Let me tell you a little secret:  Rowan was spontaneously cloned from his father's cells.  Or so it seems at times.  But wait; let me start at the beginning.

Yesterday, as Rowan and Henry ran and played in the house together, shrieking with laughter, suddenly Henry started howling.  Rowan had been pulling him in a small wagon and it had tipped over, spilling Henry.  I cuddled him and checked him over for injuries, and found none.  He eventually stopped crying and ran off to play again.

Shortly after, Paul noticed blood on my sweater.  Not my blood.  We checked Henry again, and there, under his chin, blood was dripping.  Oh me oh my!  Quick, for the bandaids and Neosporin!  He howled and protested, of course, but we did eventually manage to get him bandaged, thankfully.

Well, Savanna and I left shortly after that to pick up Noah from school and stop by Safeway to buy a pumpkin.  That is, a pumpkin pie pumpkin, as specified by an online recipe I found.  We couldn't find one, so I bought a butternut squash instead.

It wasn't until after lunch, when Savanna had gone home, that I had opportunity to try my Fresh Pumpkin Pie scheme.  I got the squash washed and cut, and set it to steam on the stovetop.  While it was steaming, I made up the pie dough and put it in sandwich bags to protect it from the air until time to roll it out.  The squash finally was soft enough, so I took it out chunk by chunk and began scraping it into a bowl.  Henry came toddling around and I took another look at his wound.

It was still bleeding.

Now, I'm no expert when it comes to medical stuff, but I'm pretty sure injuries aren't supposed to still be bleeding several hours after they're sustained (and subsequently bandaged).  I decided to take him to the Dallas Hospital.  I put my squash in the refrigerator and abandoned my plans to make it into pie that evening, then Henry and I set off.

I had thought it would be a simple matter of gluing his chin back together.  After all, Rowan's lip had been glued after he split it open four years ago.  But no, the nurse explained, the area under his chin moved too much and would pull the glue off.  He needed to have stitches.  He wound up getting two stitches, about which he was NOT pleased.

Later that evening, Henry and I went into the day room for a snuggle and a movie.  I walked through the doorway and found a surprising sight--Rowan was sitting at the counter our TV rests on, having hooked up my laptop via HDMI cable to the TV.  He was drawing on MS Paint while looking at it on the TV screen.

Uh, yeah.  My 5-year-old hooked up my laptop, by himself, to the TV.  And it worked.  At this point, I just thought how very much he was like his Commo daddy.  (Thinking of your speakers, Paul!)  How cute!  My little boy is like his daddy!

But I'm afraid it runs much deeper than that.  I suspect that really he must be a clone of his father, put into my body through IVF while I was sleeping.  You see, when I went back into that room twenty minutes later, he was playing chess on the computer while rocking out to "The Great Unwound" by Poor Old Lu.  It's Matthew, I tell you!  A cute, charming, way-too-smart-for-his-own-good, pint-sized version of Matthew!  The fact that he LOVES C.S. Lewis just cements it.  (We're almost done with "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"!)

Both boys are sleeping now.  It's nice to have the quiet after the looooong day today.  (To sum it up, Savanna and I picked up a good friend from the airport, then drove to Wilsonville for lunch, where I promptly locked the keys in the van.)  I think it's time for snuggles with my honey. :)

Oh, and the pumpkin pie was excellent.  I've discovered I can justify it as a dinner item.  Squash, eggs, butter, and milk, and the sugar in it can't be any worse than the brown sugar we ordinarily put on squash at the table.  Plus, Rowan and Henry actually eat it!  I can officially classify pumpkin pie as getting my children to eat their vegetables!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fun with Phones

Rowan and I have discovered a fun way to spend time together.  It involves my phone, the camera on it, and AR Effects.  It goes something like this:

 Me:  "Rowan, look at me!  Now, hold still!  Hahahahaha!"
Rowan:  "Let me see!"

And we get something like this:

Then, of course, he wants to take a picture, and we get something like this:

 Then we have to take pictures together, of course.

Obviously, we're cool.  We're stylin'.  And it's become a game to see if we can capture Henry on camera.

Henry and his dapper twin.
In conclusion, we are so awesome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Okay, folks.  I'd like to take a moment to say, Thank you.  Really, really, truly, THANK YOU.  I looked at my blog stats this morning, and they said this:

Note:  This is all-time stats, not just from today.
 For someone like me--a busy mom who's unsure anyone is listening--for someone who isn't sure what she says is worth reading, who posts sporadically and nonsensically, who sometimes thinks no one would notice if the words stopped--this is incredible.  People read what I write.  People from other countries, even.

This is a Big Deal for me.  An author is nothing without her audience.  To know that people out there find my posts worth their five or ten minutes of time, time that I know could be spent in more entertaining ways, is astounding.

May I ask a favor?  If you read this, please let me know you did, even if you just say, "Hi," or, "I read this."  I would love that.  In return, I'll give you this incredibly cute and random picture of my kids drinking from a public splash park.

That's right; instead of stopping them, I took a picture.
 And this one of me, that I snapped right now.

I'm supposed to look contemplative and brooding.  I think I just look like I have intestinal discomfort.  Oh well.

Writing or Not

My writing group was canceled again this week.

That's right; the group of people I get together with one evening out of the week, the one time I can interact with other adults without a small child tugging on my sleeve or climbing into my lap between myself and the screen or sitting on my keyboard and typing who knows what, canceled on me.  Again.  This is, technically, the second week in a row.  Even more technically, the week before that one member was missing, and we really didn't get any work done anyway.

This displeases me.

 It is tough to find babysitting.  I mean, it is really tough.  Those with children understand.  Those with no children sometimes ask me why I can't just take my children--ages 5 and 2--with me to my writing group.  I want to shove a great big HA! in their faces.  I've actually tried that a few times, when I can't get any babysitting.  It generally means I get nothing useful done.  (I'm typing this at home, at the dining room table.  Just writing this much, with all the distractions I've had, has taken the better part of 40 minutes.)

Part of the trouble is, I am extremely picky about the people with whom I choose to leave my children.  The list is short--my in-laws, my parents, my sisters, two friends.  All of them have extremely busy lives and are available only infrequently.  Three of my sisters have their own children to care for.  

(To give you a picture of how busy and distracted I am, it is now nearly five hours later than when I finished the paragraph above.  The children are in bed, Matthew is home, and we are snuggled on the couch watching a documentary of China.)

I should mention that Savanna and her mother visited us this evening.  It was very pleasant, particularly since they had just gotten back from a week's travel.  They might not have ventured forth from their house except that apparently during their travels, the man of their house ate All The Food.  And didn't buy more.  Better luck for us, getting to have dinner guests!

My disgruntlies have turned into gruntlies, as I have now (yes, it's 2 hours later) found a website that makes me very, very happy.  The address alone should tell you why I am so pleased!  A 12-year-old boy who reads an unbelievable amount of books and writes reviews for some.  And he reads good stuff!  Tolkien!  Brian Jacques!  Fablehaven!  Jerry Spinelli!  Tintin!  I want to mail the contents of my book shelves to him!  Haha, my missionizing attititude is asserting itself!

But now I must go to bed.  I will try to write another blog Soon, and hopefully it will be more coherent than this one.  See, Neta, when you cancel our writers group it takes me 7 hours to write a simple blog post.  NO MORE CANCELIES!  NO NO NO!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Story Snippets - Sendring

Today I would like to share a scene with you from one of the writing projects I'm working on.  It is currently a standalone scene, with no lead-up and nothing to tie it to what I already have.  Hopefully that will change soon.

Sendring stared out the open window.  The wind caught the leaves of an aspen tree and flung them around, the late afternoon sunlight catching them in its glow.  He watched the girl called Mathilda as she laughed and danced with her friends.  She tripped over a stone and fell backward onto the path, still laughing.  Sendring felt his heart tug painfully and resisted the urge to run out and help her up.  Too soon, too soon, he cautioned himself.

He tore himself away from the window and paced around the room, his leather boots thunking heavily on the floor.  He ran a calloused hand through his night-black hair, making the spikes even more pronounced than before.  What was he thinking, looking at a human girl?  He might look human when he wished, but he would always be different.  He walked over to the mirror and watched as he slowly allowed the spiked ridge to appear, running down his skull under his hair and along his spine.  He felt it pulling on his shirt as the material was stretched beyond what it was accustomed to.  He looked down at his arms and saw the fine pattern of red-gold scales stretching up along his elbows and down to the backs of his hands.  Glancing back in the mirror, he saw the same red-gold scales sweeping across his cheeks.  His jaw looked more angular than before, and when he concentrated, a few wisps of smoke seeped out of the corners of his mouth.

Sendring sighed and flung himself heavily into a nearby chair.  Caught between two worlds, he could not fully assume the shape of a dragon, but neither could he pretend he had no dragon aspects.  The female dragons held no appeal for him but dragon pride scorned pairing with a mere human.  And yet, Mathilda--

He stood up abruptly and removed his leather shirt.  With his chest bare, it was apparent that the scales continued down over his torso as well.  He slowly allowed his wings to appear, growing out of his back next to his shoulder blades, stretching them to their maximum span of fifteen feet.  Nowhere near as impressive as a true dragon's, of course, but sufficient to let him fly and feel the wind on his face.  He flexed them once, twice--then folded his wings enough to run hurriedly through the back door, before launching himself into the setting sun.

Well, what do you think?  Does it make you want to read more?  Do you have any suggestions for improving it?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Remembering Leslie

Today I remembered.

I remembered that joyous moment, April of 2012, when I realized that I was pregnant again.  I remember being simultaneously elated and terrified--my youngest child at the time was just five months old.  I remember wondering how we would manage financially, and how I would cope with two very small children at the same time.  I remember not caring that it was going to be difficult; I was pregnant, and it just might be a girl this time.

June 13, 2012 I went in to see my obstetrician for my scheduled 12-week checkup.  There was no heartbeat, and measurements taken on the ultrasound indicated that my baby had stopped growing at nine weeks.  I wasn't going to have another beautiful child in December; I was officially the mother of a dead baby.

All three of my children have had due dates in December.  The first was late; he arrived in January.  The second popped out in November.  The third never had the opportunity to grow outside my womb.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  This is the first year I've attended an event for it.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  Savanna agreed to watch Rowan and Henry so I could go without distractions.  I dropped Matthew off at work at 4:15, then went to the park to wait for 7:00.  I walked around the park loop.  I called a good friend.  I took snacks to Matthew.  During all this, my heart thudded in my chest, asking me to please not go because I would be among people I didn't know, and I might cry, or do something to embarrass myself.

I went.

At 6:40 I pulled myself out of my van and went down the ramp to the Willamette Queen, where the event was being held.  I wrote my precious Leslie's name on a tag, which I hung on a tree, and also on a decorated rock.

 More people came in and sat down.  One of the last people to arrive was a friend of mine.  She sat near the front.

There is something amazing about sitting in a room full of people who know what you've gone through.  Maybe they don't know you personally, but they know the same grief, the same sorrow.  Every one of the people in that room had experienced the loss of a child.  Mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings--all of us there knew the raw agony of losing a precious life.

I sat there and remembered June 17, 2012, the day that little Leslie left my body.  I woke up in the middle of the night and knew it was happening.  My bed was soaked with blood.  I called my mom, who told me to call 911.  The paramedics arrived and we found that our lovely spiral staircase, which looks so elegant, presented a problem.  They couldn't carry a stretcher down it.  They asked me if I could walk down the stairs.  I took two steps away from the bed and nearly toppled over.  I had to sit down again, in a new wave of fresh blood.

They carried me down the stairs in a tarp.  My mother- and father-in-law stood by the door to watch me go.  There is something about an emergency situation which eliminates the compulsion to be modest.  I had put on a turtleneck to keep warm (and so I wouldn't be utterly bare), but that and my underwear were the only garments I had on, and I didn't care.  They loaded me in the ambulance and away we went.  Matthew followed in the van.

I remember talking to the paramedics, telling them that I was worried about leaving my children without a mother.  They said I was going to be just fine, but kept checking my vitals.  They put an IV in me and told me to keep talking, that they like it when the patients are talking.  "Well, most of them, anyway," one of them laughed.

My mom and dad met us at the ER.  I remembered that it was Father's Day, and I thought what a very yucky Father's Day it must be for my dad, to see his daughter bleeding in the emergency room, and for my husband, to be losing a child.  I will forever associate Father's Day with blood and antiseptic in my mind.

I knew the anesthesiologist.  My parents pointed this out to me eagerly, I think to distract me.  I said hello, and promptly vomited all over.  I couldn't get warm.  The nurses kept putting warm blankets on my feet, but I felt like ice.  The doctor came in--such a wonderful doctor he was, very caring--and told me I would need to get a D&C.

I don't remember much more beyond that.  I know I was put under at some point, and I woke up in a recovery room with a heart monitor taped to my chest.  Matthew told me that my heart had stopped twice.  I had received two units of blood.  I am very, very thankful for people who donate!

I went home that day.  Matthew thought I should stay in overnight, but I wanted to be home and lie in bed beside my husband, and the medical professionals agreed.  My sister kept my children overnight.  I think she would have kept them longer, but I needed to see them and hold them.

Grief hits when you least expect it.  I didn't cry then; I was too busy with taking care of my living children.  It was another two months before I opened the pamphlet for grieving parents that the hospital had given us.  I started to read it, and sorrow rushed over me in a wave, leaving me gasping.

People were kind.  Some were thoughtless.  Most tried to ignore it.  I'm sure they felt awkward and didn't know what to say.  A very few reached out in tangible ways.  My sister-in-law sent a tiny baby blanket and hat she had made.  A good friend sent a felt heart pocket, in which were little hearts representing all of my children, living and dead.  I carried that heart with me everywhere I went for months.

Tonight we wrote the names of our departed little ones on white balloons, then walked down to the lighted pedestrian bridge.  My friend and I walked next to each other; me with my one balloon, and her with three--two for her own children and one for those of friends.  We all stood on the bridge, wind whipping around us and making our balloons dance.  Then, on the count of three, we all released our children into the air.  We grieved, we mourned--and now we are letting them fly.

Fly strong, little children.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Let the Vomit Fly!

Sickness has struck our house in the form of a sweet little two-year-old named Henry.  Henry woke up late this morning, after waking up at 3:00 a.m. previously and staying awake, despite my best efforts, until around 6:30 or so.  This meant he breakfasted late.  When we went downstairs, Rowan and Henry started playing in the living room while I began fixing food in the kitchen.

All of a sudden, Henry started wailing loudly.  I walked out of the kitchen to behold Henry sprawled on the dining room floor next to a trail of vomit.  I cleaned him and the floor up, and put him in his chair.  When I don't eat regularly I get nauseated, and I thought perhaps the same was true for Henry.  He dove happily into a bowl of raisin bran, but it all came back up five minutes later.

At this point, I realized that something bad was going on.  I cleaned Henry up again and snuggled him while I discussed the matter with Grandma.  This time he vomited all over my jacket.  Thankfully that was easily removed, and then I called his doctor's clinic, left a message for the triage nurse, and prepared chamomile tea for Henry.

I got a call back shortly from the nurse, who advised to give two teaspoons of pediatric electrolyte every ten minutes for four hours, with no solids and no juice.  Unfortunately, Henry had by now downed his tea.  Guess what flooded both me and the couch a few minutes later?  But then I started doing the Two Teaspoons Every Ten Minutes thing, which is extremely annoying, I might add, and he hasn't yarked since.  And hopefully it will stay that way.  He was, however, extremely peeved that I didn't let him have any food.

He's asleep now, and has been for the last few hours.  He needed it desperately.  I needed him to sleep, also.  Matthew, bless his soul eternally, has spent the afternoon entertaining Rowan while I rocked Henry--despite having started work at 4:30 this morning.  Fantastic man!

I've been mentally composing a list of What I Could Do With Money, to hopefully inspire myself to write & submit articles and short stories.  Who knows if I'd actually get published, but I'd sure like to try!  The thing is, while money does not buy happiness or eternal salvation, it's a lot easier to do good things for people when you have a ready supply of cash.  Here's what I have so far (no limits or restrictions):
  • Let Matthew quit his job and take him on a vacation
  • Support various artists who really need it, like Jesse Sprinkle
  • get a membership to the Oregon Zoo
  • get a membership to the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village
  • renew membership to OMSI
  • buy a new dishwasher and oven for my sister
  • fix another sister's car
  • pay off the house
  • get a second car so Matthew won't be dependent on me picking him up late at night
  • take my children on a train trip
  • go visit all my relatives, especially the far-flung ones

If that isn't a list to inspire work, I don't know what is.  Now to actually do it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Like Mother, Like Son

Yesterday, having a little more money than I thought I would, and Rowan having had a rough morning, I decided to take my children to Dairy Queen for lunch.  Not to actually sit in there, you understand, but just to go through the drive through and bring our food back home to eat.

Rowan was very excited about the prospect, but it still took quite some time to get him in clothes and put his socks and shoes on.  By the time I had Henry's socks and shoes on, Rowan had gotten sidetracked by a book.  Now, who does that remind me of?  Hmm.. let's see.. Oh, that's right--myself!

I gently prodded Rowan toward the door.  He drifted onto the porch, still reading his library book, and wafted down the steps.  He got to the gate and stopped, too caught up in his reading to think about opening it.  I opened the gate and he meandered out to the van, stopping on the wrong side.  I reminded him that his booster was on the other side, and he made his way over there, nose still stuck in the book.  He stopped.  Opening the door was just too much work when there were words to be read.

After strapping Henry in, I opened Rowan's door and he wafted into his seat, still reading.  I buckled him in, then got in myself and started the van.  Rowan read "Mouse Soup" aloud to us the whole way there and back.

Now, I love it that my child enjoys reading "Oz" and "Narnia" with me.  We're four chapters into "Prince Caspian".  He is capable of reading those on his own, but much prefers that I read to him, because he doesn't want to stumble over words he's not yet familiar with.  But he will read Arnold Lobel aloud.  Frog and Toad, Mouse Soup, Owl at home.  And this without any prompting!  He is reading and enjoying!

Then today we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house, and Rowan plopped right down on the couch with another book.

Don't worry; we did get outside and play today, too.

The problem with being blond is that so often in pictures I look bald.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ouch! Ouch!

Well, Friday I got to spend the day with a friend I hadn't seen in a long, LONG time.  Years, that is.  The reason wasn't so great--she's having a miscarriage, and her husband was concerned that she would pass out and no one would be around to dial 911.  She has a 4-year-old son, so I took Rowan with me to play.  They had met once before, but when both were much, much younger, so they didn't remember each other.

Both boys hit it off right away.  They set tunes to playing on the electronic piano and danced all around the living room.  They ran outside and looked at the bunnies.  They rode little bikes/car up and down the sidewalk behind the house.  It's rare for Rowan to connect so quickly with another child!

They grabbed hands and ran around and around in a circle.  R1 (Rowan) is standing; R2 (the other child) has just fallen down in their merriment.

 While the boys played outside, J and I lounged in the grass and enjoyed the sunshine.

Yep, that's my arm, taking up half the picture.

When Matthew was done with work he came over and picked up Rowan.  That's probably a good thing, because when J's husband got home (a few minutes after Matthew got there), the three of us sat down on the porch and chatted until it was quite dark.  It would have been a bit late for Mr Rowan!

When I got home, Henry was asleep on the couch (Thank you, Grandma!) and Rowan was preparing to enjoy popcorn with Daddy.  I suddenly rediscovered that we were completely out of milk, so I offered to make tea for Rowan instead for his bedtime.  I carefully poured the boiling water into a sippy cup (he likes those for bed, so he doesn't spill upstairs) and set it on the table to steep.  Rowan asked for a chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so I got the book out and we sat down to enjoy it.

Alas and alack!  Rowan, who has trouble sitting still--particularly when he's very excited, like he is about this book--somehow knocked the cup of tea off the table and onto his leg.  Oh my, the shrieking!  I immediately discarded the book and stripped his pants off so the hot, wet material wouldn't cling to his skin.  Matthew came bounding down the stairs faster than I've seen him move in a long time.  My poor child!  The whole area around his right knee was blistered, and some of his skin has just sloughed right off.  My stomach tried to turn inside out.

I took him upstairs to run cold water on it in the shower.  In retrospect I probably should have used lukewarm, but I was in Get It Cool NOW mode.  Matthew brought up an ice pack and a first aid kit, and Rowan and I snuggled into the armchair.  There was burn cream, thankfully, and Matthew also brought some aloe vera from our plant.  We coated the burn in cream and aloe vera, then bandaged it for the night.

In the morning when I unwrapped his bandage, it was immediately apparent that he needed to be seen.  Thankfully the pediatric clinic he goes to has morning hours on the weekend, and the clinic physicians rotate for those shifts.  His regular doctor, Dr G, was not in, but we got an appointment to see Dr K.  Here's a picture I took when I unwrapped his bandage again at the clinic:

My poor child!  A nurse coated it with a special burn cream and bandaged it up.  Dr K sent a prescription to the pharmacy for more cream.  Rowan felt a lot better after that, and in the car afterward he said this:

"I like Dr G (regular doctor) and Dr K (today's clinic doctor). They're easy to talk to. Maybe when I grow up I can be a doctor and build my own clinic and help people. And then if someone comes in with a burn like mine, I can help them."

It's enough to make a Mama melt!  He was definitely back to his old self, and spent the rest of the day running, jumping, and playing as if nothing had happened.

Henry was very glad to see Mama again, since I'd been gone all day Friday and all morning Saturday.  Mama was pretty happy to be home again, too.  I took both children with me in the double stroller to pick up Rowan's prescription from the pharmacy.  That's right; I put my almost-6-year-old child in a stroller.  It's better than having him walk and complain that he's tired!  We go faster, too!

Well, that was my weekend; so far, anyway.  How was yours? 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Change and Growth

Yesterday evening Savanna and I, along with my two littles, went to visit my Very Pregnant sister, Dorcas.  That is, she is DUE TOMORROW.  We took dinner to her and had a lovely time, my children playing with her son.  This was actually my first time going to her house, which is shameful, since she's been there almost a year.  A year!  It seems there's always something going on, and it's difficult to get over there.  But I am determined to spend more time visiting my family!

The only photo evidence I have of the evening is several shots of Savanna trying to show Henry (2) how to juggle.  They had a marvelous time.

This is my favorite, although a trifle blurred.  
Who is Savanna?  I've gotten that question a few times.  Simply put, she is my unrelated sister and godmother to my children.  I'm trying to get Rowan to address her as, "Godmother Savanna," just because it amuses me so much.  You should read her blog here.

So today the kidlings and I went to my sister Melody's house to play--not with her children, who were in school, but with another niece and nephew of mine.  I have missed that so much!  We tried for a while to have all of us girls meet at Melody's on Fridays with our children, but Life Happened and we fell off of that.  I hope we can get something similar started again!

The only photo evidence of today's fun.  Yes, that's Henry, wearing the same shirt as yesterday.

Rowan and Henry had a blast playing with their cousins today, but the cousins they played with are ages two and almost two.  Which is fine for Henry, of course, but Rowan is accustomed to seeing Melody's children, who are closer to his age.  This might have contributed to the conversation we had on the way home:

Rowan:  "Mommy, I want to go to kindergarten."

My heart suddenly fell out of my chest.  We experimented with preschool last year, but the early hours led Rowan to request being taken out again.  I was more than happy to oblige.  Preschool actually caused Rowan to regress in his learning, rather than progress.  So to hear today that Rowan wanted to go back to school....

As calmly as I could, I asked, "Why do you want to go to kindergarten, Rowan?"

He replied, "So I can learn."

Ah.  That's the crux of the matter.  There is very little that kindergarten could teach Rowan, apart from how to sit still and be quiet, and that some children are cruel, especially to enthusiastic learners.  What he doesn't realize is that he is learning, and has been all his life.  He can read chapter books.  He can add and subtract and do basic multiplication, and is learning fractions.  He knows how to find Oregon on a map, and is learning to plot driving routes.  (He has a map of Oregon pinned to his bedroom wall, with a map of Salem on the back.  He has routes drawn in pen to the houses of all of his Oregon relatives.)  He knows almost all the rules of the road (and reminds me of them frequently).  He can bake a cake, with help.  He knows how to wash and dry laundry.  He is enthusiastic about learning to can fruit.  His vocabulary is more advanced than some adults I know.  When he asks something to which I don't know the answer, we find a How To video on YouTube.

What he lacks is companionship.  Rowan is a loner, like his mommy and daddy.  It's not that he doesn't want to have friends--he is actually terribly lonely, and tries to play with nearly every child he sees on the playground.  Some respond.  Some don't.  Some are viciously cruel, leading him to retreat and not approach anyone else for a few months.  He relates far better to adults.  His favorite people in the whole world, apart from Mommy and Daddy, are almost all adults--his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, his godmother.  I love being a favorite of my son, except for his desperate plea, All Day Long:  "Play trains with me!  Play trains with me!  Please, oh please, play trains with me!"  So I'll play with him for twenty minutes, then tell him I really must fold some laundry, and the cry goes up again:  'Please play trains with me!"  Every time he asks, it's like I haven't spent any time at all with him.  I really, really want to find him a companion his own age.

I asked him, today in the van, if he had a good time at Aunt Dita's last night and at Aunt Melly's today.  He said, "Yes."  I asked if he wanted to go to kindergarten to spend time with other children, and again the answer was yes.  So, I guess I need to find a child.  Rowan does NOT do well in large groups--or in small groups, for that matter.  He does best with just one or two other people.  Maybe I can find a homeschooling family around here that will let me borrow a child for a few hours once or twice a week.

In the meantime--well, I guess we'll play trains and watch YouTube videos.  And build with Legos.

Grandma instructing Rowan in how to play the accordion.

Apollo the Giraffe.  Don't look at the laundry--my children were happy!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

After Long Absence

It has been a looooong ten days since I last posted.  I am so sorry; I never meant to neglect my writing.  Life happens, and sometimes it happens in such a way that I think of brilliant things to write during the day, and then at night I'm so tired I quite literally fall asleep over my keyboard.  Now I'm typing with my eyes mostly closed, lying flat on my back on my bed, snuggled up against my not-quite-asleep 5-year-old.

What to say?  We've had plans.  We've ditched said plans.  Rowan has said cute and funny things that I was absolutely going to tell you and now I've forgotten.  Henry is saying more words, like, "Puhpuh [purple]" and "goat" and "book."  He can count to 10 frontwards and backwards.  It is a great joy to hear his language increase.

Yesterday I forgot.  As in, I forgot the significance of the date until I went on Facebook and saw what everyone else was posting.  I considered writing something up that was suitably patriotic, but it seemed like a rather trite thing to say, "Never forget," when I had forgotten.  So I thought instead, and I remembered where I had been thirteen years ago, fresh out of high school.  Such a changed world it became overnight.

I do not greatly enjoy either television or radio, so I had not heard the news when I left my sister's house in the early morning and went home to help my mom bake pies for the church.  I walked in the house and the first thing that struck me as odd was that my mom had her television balanced on a chair in the kitchen.  Since my mom rarely watches shows, I found this extremely unsettling.  Then she told me what had happened and I found it so difficult to believe that we were really, truly under attack.

The truth is, I'm tired.  I'm tired of politics and congressmen who think they know better than their constituents, and I'm tired of watching our liberties slip further away daily.  I'm tired of people who want to hurt their neighbors, their children, their friends.  I'm tired of wars that never end and don't wind up doing what they were supposed to anyway, unless the goal was to take our National Guard away from actually defending our homeland here on our soil.  All I want is a house in the country that belongs to US--because if you're threatened with removal if you don't pay a fee every year, it doesn't really belong to you--with dogs and cats and maybe a horse or a cow and lots of space for my children to roam.  I want to take care of my husband and grow flowers and vegetables and preserve food for the winter.

I'm tired of struggling day after day to manage children, both of whom are probably autistic.  I'm tired of never knowing whether it will be a good hour or a bad hour for Matt--there are no more full good days--and whether I'll be able to run errands when I need/want to without dragging children along.  I'm tired of crashing and spending too much time on my computer or phone.  I'm tired of having the expectation of cleaning up toys fall always to me, even though I really, really don't want Matt to overexert himself.

Which of those things can I change?  Myself.  That's all.  So I've started hanging clothes to dry outside, which was really for the purpose of eliminating Diaper Odor, but has turned into spending time outside with my children and letting them see me work.  Rowan likes to help by taking down the dry clothes and bringing me clothes pins.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other--that's how we get by.  And really, that's not so bad.  I'll be more enthusiastic after a night of sleep.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


We have canned sixty-seven jars of pears.  Saturday night Savanna and I didn't get back to my house until 3:30 in the morning.  Sunday we finished everything up right before Matthew and I went up to Portland to get Noah from the airport.  For our last fourteen jars, Savanna and I waited until Annetta had gone to bed (she worked graveyard that night) and then quickly added cinnamon to the syrup.  It tasted divine.  Now I'm wishing we had thought of that long ago.

Savanna and I are contemplating picking more pears, but Annetta has forbidden us to.  We might have to go around her and can them without her help, because I really think we need more cinnamon pears.  Besides, we took thirteen jars of pears into the local sort crew at UPS today, so we need more to hoard on our own shelves.  I think local sort loves us.  We bring them goodies a lot.  And besides, who doesn't love home-canned pears?

I am so incredibly tired.  Matthew let me stay in bed until 9:00 this morning, which is almost unheard of, but I've had a headache leaving and returning all day today, and I also had to take a Benadryl.  Oh, Benadryl, I love you so much, but you make me so very sleepy!

I got a new phone today, a Sony Xperia.  I have been thinking about it for quite a long time.  It is the only waterproof smartphone around (the rep said her friend took his scuba diving and took underwater pictures with it) and it has a 20.7 mp camera.  I haven't had a chance to test the camera yet, but I am looking forward to taking and sharing lots of pictures of my children again.  Hurray!  I haven't put a memory card in it yet, but I've put a lot of my music on it, as well as all of The Chronicles of Narnia, a few other Lewis audio books, a great deal of Tolkien audio books, and the Marissa Meyer audio books, and I still have 10 GB of space left.  This pleases me greatly.

I suppose I should go collect my children from my parents' house now.  I love Tuesdays; I can hang out with Annetta and Savanna and write without constant interruptions from children.  One evening a week where I can just be a writer.  Time to go be a mom again!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pears, pears, pears!

I opened my eyes this morning to see Henry jumping up and down on my bed, exclaiming, "'Ake up! 'Ake up! 'Ake up!"  I couldn't help but smile.  He was so very excited and glad to see me!  He then started counting, "Wee, two, dee, wwww, bye, socks, seggy, eet, why, tie, GO!" and began running back and forth in the hallway.  [As I type this, I am seated at the dining table supervising Henry's snack and Rowan's breakfast, and all of us are taking turns saying, "Chugga chugga CHOO CHOO!"]

Yesterday we canned pears.  I mean, we canned pears.  We had a System this time, and it definitely helped ease the burden of canning.  I came up with the Plan (mental back pat here) which consisted of this:  Peel and slice pears into 5-gallon food-grade buckets (filled with iced salt water for preservation) at my house, then transport to Annetta's for putting in jars and processing.

This plan initially had some setbacks, since I forgot to stop at the store and buy food-grade buckets.  I called the local grocery store and they said they didn't have any.  So then my genius mother-in-law, Carol, suggested that I call Dairy Queen.  Stars above!  They had five, and said they sell such buckets for $1 each!  Haha!  I zoomed over and bought three.  I figured that was all I needed, which turned out to be correct.  In hindsight, I wish I had gotten all five, since I'm sure I could find uses for them.   Oh well.

So I took them home and scrubbed them out.  Before I went to Dairy Queen I had parked Rowan on the toilet (yes, with adult supervision staying at home), and while Savanna and I scrubbed in the basement, we heard Rowan start yelling loudly for Mommy.  Savanna went up to see if she could help, but returned saying that ONLY MOMMY was acceptable.  So up I went with the clean buckets, which Savanna took over, and I went into the bathroom.  Rowan was still on the toilet.  I went closer and he said, "Mommy, I peed in my hair."

Me:  "You did what?"
Rowan:  "I peed in my hair."
Me:  "However did you do that?"
Rowan:  "Well, it just went--"  His finger described an arc from his lap to his hair.

Sigh.  At least he'd pooped in the toilet, which is good.  I wiped his bottom and asked Carol if she would be willing to shower him.  (Mother-in-law of the Year!)  Henry tried to run in and supervise, so Savanna took over managing him while I plunged the toilet and mopped the bathroom floor.  Then finally, finally, we were able to get to the pears and implement The Plan.

It worked remarkably well.  Savanna and I set ourselves up with a cutting board each, knives, peelers, and waste containers, and the bucket of ice water between us.  We each had a box of pears on our other sides.  Peel, slice, dump, repeat, without having to pause for packing or processing.  When our waste containers got full we dumped them into another 5-gallon bucket, which at the end was poured into our garden composter.  Nothing wasted!

It took us longer than anticipated; that is, about three hours.  Dinner was ready by the time we finished with those pears, but we didn't want to take the time when it was already so late.  We loaded up the pears and Rowan and set out for Annetta's.  Rowan did eat dinner at home, since he wasn't helping with the pears.  Matthew kept Henry, thankfully!  The two buckets of pears fit perfectly inside a clean laundry basket and we buckled it into the seat beside Rowan so it wouldn't slide around.  We're geniuses, I tell you!

We got to Annetta's after 7:00 p.m.  She had the jars already washed and ready and the syrup prepared (1 part sugar to 4 parts water), so it was a simple matter to pack the jars and put them on the canner.  Then the calling began.

"Mom, how hot should we have the canner?"
"Mom, it's not steaming yet.  Should it be steaming?  Do you think it's boiled dry?"
"Mom, it's steaming now, but not from the hole, just from around the edges of the lid.  Is it going to explode?  --Okay, we pushed the lid down and now the steaming is coming out the hole."
"Mom, how long are we supposed to let it steam?"
"Mom, do we just take the lid off when we think they're done?  --How long do we let them cool down?"

We eventually declared her to be The Canning Doctor, and Annetta said she should have her own radio show.  My mom got a good giggle out of that.  Eventually we did get those pears canned, 18 jars.  Combined with the 11 from Saturday, that means we have canned 29 jars of pears!  We have another large box to go through tomorrow, and I'm contemplating picking more.  We'll see what my fellow cohorts think.

Next month I think I'll can apple pie filling again.  Mmm, I can hardly wait!