Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Brazilian Thanksgiving

We celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends today, and there wasn't a turkey in sight! Jeff and I always host a themed Thanksgiving party, and this year we went with a Brazilian theme. We made pao de queijo (cheese bread), shrimp moqueca (a shrimp stew that is served over rice), maionese (Brazilian-style potato salad), vinagrete (think salsa without a hint of heat). Other guests brought rice and beans, churrasco (grilled chicken and beef, served on sword-like skewers), grilled cheese cubes, sweet passion fruit pizza, flan, fried plantains, and Guarana (Brazilian soda). It was a wonderful, if non-traditional, Thanksgiving feast, and we were so glad to get to share it with people who are special to us. We have so much to be thankful for! Hope you all had a special day with special people as well. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To My Sweet Weston:

You will turn four tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. Tomorrow is also Thanksgiving, and I want you to know that we are all certainly thankful for the joy you have brought into our lives over the past four years. You are an absolute doll--from your adorable cocked head and dimply smile to your generally charming disposition.
You have blossomed so much in the last year, and it has been a pleasure to watch. You have learned to tell jokes. You have learned your letters and numbers. You have become interested in learning to read. And you have made lots of friends. There isn't a person we know who doesn't absolutely love you. In fact, there is one little girl in your preschool class who told her mom she wants to marry you. I'm certain she will not be the last young lady to feel this way about you. You are a treasure, Son, and don't you forget it.
You love to have your back scratched, and you get a kick out of wearing your clothes backwards on purpose. But you have no use for sheets and refuse to be covered with one at night. You still like yellow a lot, but you are now willing to acknowledge and appreciate some of the other colors as well. You still take a nap about half the time--and though you like to talk about how you don't want to go to bed, there is very little evidence to suggest that this is actually true.
You have stepped out of your sister's shadow a bit and have started to become your own person, with your own opinions and ideas. You still adore Ruth and relish your role as her younger brother, but you have also started to really fill the role of big brother now, and it suits you well. You can often be found hugging Max or holding his hand or "reading" him a book. You are considerate of other's feelings, both at home and at school, and you are so full of love that you can't help but give it away.
You are a big help around the house now, unloading the silverware and plastic dishes from the dishwasher and putting away your laundry and toys, and generally being willing to help with any assignment Dad and I give you.
You have vivid dreams, which sometimes cause you to laugh and sometimes to cry in your sleep, and you are wary of lions that might sneak in in the night to bite your toes. You can still be calmed by your "Do-Do-Do" song, and you are slowly learning how to control your emotions.
You love the Lord and are already a prayer warrior. And your heart truly overflows with praise. It is a blessing just to be around you each day, and I am often challenged in my own spiritual life just by observing your simple and sincere relationship with the Lord.
You make me smile every single day, and I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to be your mom. Your dad and I are so very proud of you and of the young man you are becoming. We love you so much and are so thankful that the Lord loaned you to us four years ago! Happy, happy birthday!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

I know, I know. I'm way behind on my blogging. But, life has been getting in the way, and there has simply been no time. We have had LOTS going on around here: a preschool Thanksgiving feast, a Super Friday open house, a chime performance, a birthday party, and a whole house full of visitors. The best I can do is try to give you a visual of each event in the next few posts and hope to do better at actual blogging in the future.

Preschool Thanksgiving

Super Friday Open House

Ruth's Chime Performance

Birthday Party

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A day in the life

  • Waffles and bacon for breakfast.
  • Jeff safely delivered a friend of ours, who had been hitchhiking across the southern part of the U.S. for the last month and who showed up at our house sort of unexpectedly last night, to his apartment.
  • I unloaded a pretty substantial box of math books that Jeff brought home from his parents' house last weekend.
  • I made a sweet picture collage to hang on the wall from a calendar I bought for a dollar.
  • Peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch.
  • We acquired a(nother) futon. I think we are now ready (in terms of sleeping space) to host our 15 or so house guests next weekend.
  • Jeff picked up some party essentials for our Brazilian-themed Thanksgiving party...and some beautiful flowers for me for no reason whatsoever!
  • Dishes, dishes, dishes.
  • We hung things on the walls. From pictures to broom holders.
  • Weston and I attended a birthday party for one of his little school friends. It didn't seem to bother Weston in the least that he was the only boy there!
  • Laundry, laundry, laundry.
  • Ruth spent 6 1/2 hours playing inside and outside our house with her sweet little friend from down the street.
  • I found the top of my desk.
  • Ruth found her bedroom--there is actually a floor in there...even under the bed!
  • Jeff attended a high school choir concert.
  • The kids and I had dinner upstairs while watching a movie. They were so thrilled to find out that the homeschool table could double as a dinner table!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My new babysitter

This morning, Ruth asked me when she would be old enough to watch the boys by herself. I explained to her that it would be a while--not because I didn't trust her or think she wasn't responsible, but because there are still a lot of things that the boys need help with that she may not be quite ready to help with. However, I assured her that she could begin to prove herself by watching the boys for Daddy and I when one or both of us was at home and we needed some help. And to give her an opportunity, I left her in charge of Max this afternoon, while Weston was napping and Jeff was working in his (home) office, so I could run some errands. She took her responsibility very seriously and was so proud of herself for having gained this privilege. At one point while I was out, Jeff called to say that when Weston woke up, he wanted to go outside and play with the neighborhood children. Before Jeff could even say a word, Ruth piped up to say that she could not go out and play because it was her job to take care of Max. I was so proud of her for taking on this responsibility. She did a great job, and I payed her in lip gloss, which was a good deal for both of us. I can't believe my little girl is already so big!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

La Vida Loca: Continued

Well, November doesn't look too promising so far. For the third weekend in a row, one of my family members has been to the ER. Tonight it was Jeff. He woke up this morning with a bruise-like pain in his forearm. As the day progressed, a red streak appeared, and by this evening, it had traveled all the way up his arm. The doctor took one look and pronounced it a Strep infection. He shot Jeff up with antibiotics and sent him home with a week's supply, which should take care of the problem.

And if that weren't enough, Jeff also had a blow-out in his car earlier in the week.

When will the insanity ever end?!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Getting my walk back

Back in May, I began walking in the mornings before the kids were up as a way of preparing myself for the day ahead, enjoying the great outdoors and getting a little exercise. Around the time school started, the mornings started getting darker--partly because it was just that time of year and partly because that was the beginning of our monsoon season. When it's dark, the trails in our neighborhood are really, really dark, and they creep me out. But, since we have such nice trails, we don't have sidewalks. And when school is in, there is a lot of traffic on the roads. So, with the darkness and the traffic and the rain, my morning walks pretty much just disappeared. But today, I got my walk back! With the time change over the weekend, it is now light in the mornings (and fortunately, the kids aren't waking up earlier because of it--and it isn't raining all the time). I really love these morning walks, and I'm so glad to have them back.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

La Vida Loca Part 3: Parties

Start here and read in reverse order.

We sent out invitations for Jeff's birthday party, Weston's birthday party and our annual themed Thanksgiving party. All very exciting! And, we actually held Jeff's party last night (the day after we spent the evening in the ER, if you'll remember). We served 30 people approximately 20 pounds of steak, 5 pounds of chicken, 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, 6 pounds of carrots and parsnips, 6 pounds of asparagus, 5 pounds of sautéed mushrooms, dozens of rolls and two huge cheesecakes. And, we didn't have all that much left over. Our house was packed, but it didn't feel crowded, and everyone seemed to have a great time. We certainly did, proving that "crazy" doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

Thanks for checking in our our crazy life. We're hoping for a calmer November.

La Vida Loca Part 2: Health

Start here and read in reverse order.

Remember the day the van overheated? Well, on that day, we were headed to my parents' house for a family reunion of sorts. My grandfather had had a heart attack back in June and had some other health problems toward the end of the summer, which had prevented he and my grandmother from getting to see any of the great-grandchildren for far too long. So, the plan was for everyone to meet at my parents house for the weekend. We had a lovely time on Friday evening, but early Saturday morning, my grandfather had another heart attack, sending the whole household into a state of emergency. Thankfully, it was a minor attack and he is already back home and doing well. Unfortunately, he and my grandmother didn't get to spend much time with all the great-grandkids after all. We will have to try another reunion soon.

Remember the day that Ruth and I walked home from the library? Well, on that day (a week after the aforementioned excitement at my parents), we decided to go out for dinner. When I picked Max up to put him in the car (not the van, of course), I noticed that he felt a little warm. Jeff agreed, but since he didn't seem unhappy or uncomfortable, we decided he must just be teething and we would go ahead and go out to dinner. We all ate and had a great time, and then we got in the car to head home. About half-way to the house, I looked back and found Max having a seizure. Immediately, I suspected that it was a febrile seizure, only because Weston had had one right around the same age. Knowing what it most likely was definitely didn't do anything to ease the fear that gripped my heart. It was just awful. I snatched Max up out of his seat (which was easier to do in the car than it would have been in the van, by the way) and Jeff immediately turned the car around and headed for the hospital. After the seizure had passed, Max went completely limp and wouldn't respond to me in any way. Again, it was awful, and if I hadn't kind of known what to expect because of Weston's experience I would have been even more frantic than I was. Time seemed to stop and I thought we would never arrive at the ER. When we finally did, Max revived, quite angry. I was never so thankful to hear crying in my life. We called some friends to come get the big kids and then spent the next three and a half hours trying to comfort a very sad boy who was being put through a battery of tests, while waiting to hear the news. All the tests came back negative and there was only a slight ear infection in one ear. They prescribed an antibiotic, and Max has been feeling great ever since.

The doctor told us that this just sometimes happens with young children and no one really knows why it happens to some kids but not others. He gave the best explanation for the phenomenon . He said that it is kind of like a "brain sneeze." A sneeze is your body's way of getting yucky stuff out of the body. A febrile seizure is the brain's way of resetting the signals in the brain. In young children (under 5 or so) all the electrical connections in the brain aren't fully developed. A fever signals the brain to do something to fix whatever the problem is. A rapid increase in fever (regardless of the actual degrees) causes the brain to try to do something quickly. All the electrical impulses come at once and that's when you get the "brain sneeze," which causes the body to seize. The seizure usually lasts a couple of minutes (or a couple of eternities, if you're the mom) and then the signals are reset and ready to start over. It would have been wonderful if I could have learned this fascinating information some other way.

And to conclude the crazy health issues, I will tell you this. I woke up this morning with a headache. Half-way through the church service, not only was my head throbbing, but my ear was also throbbing and I couldn't hear. I suspected that I also had an ear infection of my own, but without all the drama of Max's. I dreaded the thought of trying to get a doctor's appointment and then having to take antibiotics for a week. When we got home, I looked up some home remedies online and found one that I thought was worth trying (and several that sounded a little too kooky for me). It was suggested to simply pour hydrogen peroxide into the ear and leave it for about 8 minutes. The results were immediate! That, combined with a short nap, had me feeling almost as good as new.

Crazy, crazy stuff. But, thankfully, all with happy endings!

La Vida Loca Part 1: Cars

Start here and read in reverse order.

Early in October, the brakes on Jeff's car got to be in such a bad state that we considered driving his vehicle unsafe. A trip to the mechanic was soon to follow. The brakes, along with the regularly scheduled maintenance that was due, added up to more than the car was worth. So, we became a one-car family for a few days while we decided if it would be best to fix or to replace. We test drove new cars and looked at used cars online. We ultimately concluded that it was still cheaper to fix than to replace, so we went with that option.

Meanwhile, the "check engine" light came on on the van. This we ignored completely, since our van had been diagnosed long ago with a bum sensor, which would cause the light to come on even if there wasn't a problem. Confirming our belief that this was in fact the problem, the light on the dash would come on and go off willy-nilly. Then, the air-conditioner seemed not as cool as it should be (or was it just the 99.9% humidity outside?) and the van seemed to be idling pretty hard, making us think that this time there might, in fact, be a problem. But, as we were already down to one car, we decided to wait on the trip to the mechanic.

With Jeff's car out of the shop, we found that life happened, and we actually needed both of our cars, so we put off the trip to the mechanic further. Eventually, we could put it off no more. As we were headed out of town last weekend, the van overheated and we knew it was time to give in. We had only gone about 5 miles or so, so after we got it cooled down, we returned home, repacked all of our things into the car (minus the bikes, which the kids were very disappointed about) and drove the van straight to the mechanic. Then we left on our merry way in our functional, though cramped, remaining vehicle.

Around closing time, the mechanic called with the news, none of it good. Just to run the necessary tests was going to run us somewhere around $600, and then, they were pretty sure it was the motor that would need to be replaced. And then, they were pretty sure that there was also a transmission problem. Cha-ching, cha-ching.

Once again, we found ourselves talking about fixing or replacing, but this time it seemed more logical to replace. We have not done this yet, but we are close. We have retrieved our van from the shop, but are still essentially a one-car family. The van can be driven, but I'm paranoid about it. And we have had a hard time deciding what to replace it with. I think we have reached a conclusion and will probably buy a newer version of the van itself. We have ordered one from CarMax, which should be here in a week or so. We will drive it, just to make sure, but are expecting it to be "the one."

It would be nice if our car saga ended there but, alas, that is not the case. On Friday, I took Ruth to the library in our best-bet car while the boys were napping. We got the books and returned to the car only to find a nice little note tucked under the wiper: "In case you can't see it, your right rear tire is flat..." A quick inspection confirmed that this was not written by someone given to hallucinations. Flat as a flitter, as my mom would say (though I confess I don't have a clue what that means). So, I called my hubby to inform him of the good news and to see if the boys were still sleeping. They were, and neither of us wanted them to miss out on that precious nap time, so we began to talk through the options. Unbelievably, I heard myself say after a few minutes, "Well, we could just walk home." I consulted Ruth and she was more than up for it, saying, "You mean we can walk home from the library?!!" It was a beautiful day and we only had a distance of about 2-3 miles to cover, so off we went on foot. Thank goodness for Kingwood's fabulous trail system. Ruth was a horse, trotting along the path. Then, she was Tarzan swinging from the trees. She collected strange fruits and berries and other treasures along the way. In a word, she had a blast. It was an excellent lesson in perspective for me. Something I thought of as a curse, she immediately turned into a blessing, and it was hard for me not to catch the spirit. The tire was fixed later in the day, and so ends the story of the crazy car game we've been playing this month.

La Vida Loca

In life, things happen. Any one of them, taken alone, might not make for a crazy life. But added all together, and in succession, they can make one's life quite crazy. What follows in the next few posts is a series of events that have taken place in our lives in the last month, which have certainly made us feel that we are living La Vida Loca.