Friday, May 27, 2011

Many Celebrations

We had a DeCarlo family gathering last weekend to celebrate.  Every time our family gets together it feels like it marks another major change.  Two more are going off to college and moving away from family.  Another is ending the working phase of his life and retiring.  And another family is moving to Austin and beginning life without children at home.  It has been quite a while since we have been able to get together and it was a really nice evening.  Both kids filled up on barbecue and cake.  Justin and Travis charmed all the adults and got a present of a play tent, just because.  We had a great visit with everyone and we were sad to have it all end.  It will probably be a while before we are all together again.

We were able to get one picture with the graduates (the two beautiful girls to my left!)  It was funny being lumped in with the "kids" for a picture!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Travis' Explanations

I had to return some pasta to the grocery store yesterday and so I went to the service counter with the pasta and my receipt.  I laid it on the counter and Travis said, "Mommy didn't notice that it wasn't wheat-free.  Justin can't eat wheat.  He's the guy in the cart."
Aren't you glad he cleared that up?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Itch

Call it getting older.  Or more mature.  Or developing the "mother's eye".  Or God working in me.  Whatever you want to call it, I am becoming my mother.  Or at least I am seeing more of my mother in me.

Before we went to Seattle, my mother got the itch to make loquat jam.  We have a loquat tree growing in our atrium and she had been watching them ripening and pondering what she could do with this odd fruit.  So one day she asked me to get her some because she was going to make some jam.  You know when it's your parents you just smile and nod, and pray that your kids will be as accommodating when you get older.  So I got out the ladder and cut off the fruit I could reach.  She just made a small batch and now we have been enjoying the fruits of her labor.  (I just had to say that!)  The jam tastes like peach, with a bit of mango, which is actually very tasty.

So I was struck by how I get the same itch.  My mom gets the itch to cook, but I get the itch to clean or organize.  Kind of like a pregnant woman's nesting urge.  (Except without the pregnant part...)  This week it's the carpets.  Barring any emergency, my schedule will be bent to allow for carpet cleaning.  Because I have the itch and it needs attention.  Sometimes it's washing the cars, sometimes it's cleaning out a closet, sometimes it's purging unnecessary stuff.  It's just funny how I was struck this morning as we enjoyed loquat jam on our bagels.  Her jam.  My cleaning.  More alike than different.  I think it made God smile as he made the connection for me.

It has been so enlightening living with my mother these past 6 months.  It's so much more than I could ever see in a short visit.  Watching her make decisions and face difficult health challenges and interact with my kids.  They made shields yesterday.  Tinfoil-covered cardboard shields.  Complete with loops for arms, smaller for Justin and larger for Travis.  They spent over an hour cutting, covering, and decorating their shields.  They won't last forever, but I have no doubt that the memories will.  There are some amazing qualities and experiences savored by little children that become lost in the intermediate years and must be consciously resought by adults.  Parents are often adored by little children and mocked by teenagers.  But hopefully that comes back around to adoration as the children mature and become adults.  These months have allowed my adoration to flourish.  Instead of being distraught that I am becoming my mother, I say that with pride.  There are some impressive qualities that I cherish and hope that can be attributed to me someday.  Just like I desperately hope to inherit some of my grandmother's qualities.  It has given me such pleasure working alongside my mother and having the opportunity to serve her in ways that I had never expected.  I think I have been more blessed than she has been.  That's the way it happens.  It gets you when you least expect it.  I really like that God works that way.  It makes me quite in awe.

So that's what I was thinking this morning.  You can think of me this week as I clean my carpet and I hope you can think of the ways God works that make you smile.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sleep Clinic Visit

We went to the sleep clinic today and talked with Miss Terry about how to help Justin's sleep.  I had to wake the boys early so we could make it to the Med Center for our appointment.  Except I didn't have to wake Justin.  And therein lies the trouble!  We left the house at 6:30 and took our breakfast with us.  This was a new floor for us in the clinical building so the boys enjoyed exploring the play area.  Every floor is different and Travis is starting to recognize the differences and he has his favorites.  The hospital next door that they started building when Justin was born is really taking shape and is scheduled to open this year.  Somehow Travis has a bond with the building as he has seen it being build.  Out of the window of the exam room we could see another building around the corner that is being prepared for demolition.  That is now Travis' favorite thing to watch.  Anyway, we had fun before the doctor even came in. 

I have to say that it has been one of my favorite appointments.  (I think we are up to 9 doctors in at least an annual basis.)  The doctor talked with us, including listening to and answering all of Travis' questions.  She commented on Travis' choice of outfit (his fireman's coat, cape, compass, fire boots, and gloves) and asked Justin questions too.  She believed me when I said that we had a good nighttime routine and that we keep a good schedule.  She asked me several times if I understood everything or if I had questions.  She wants to do another sleep study, since they like to do one every year to see how things change.  She wants a split study, which has the first half of the night regular sleep and the second half with the CPAP to see how that affects sleep.  After that we can discuss our options.

So, the upside is that we can get results after only one night rather than having to try two nights.  AND, I can get a picture of Justin all hooked up with the stocking hat on his head!  I know you are looking forward to that!

Justin did so fabulous during the exam.  She wanted to look in his eyes so he grabbed the "eye checker" and looked right into it.  He said "ahh" and stuck his tongue out.  She didn't even need the tongue depressor (or "thermometer stick" if you ask Travis).  Both kids walked out with tape measures and Travis scored a thermometer stick.  She was impressed with Justin's ankle strength (she had to check both feet since Justin insisted) and his communication.  A little bit of a mommy's boost.

And I am learning that every appointment has one nugget of information which makes the whole thing worth the effort.  The nugget from this trip is that a person may suffer from moderate sleep apnea and not feel any problems during the day.  No drowsiness, lack of concentration, etc.  BUT, a person with mild sleep apnea could have severe trouble during the day!  Why does no one mention these things?  I kind of feel like that might be good to know.  I want to ask every doctor we see, "Now, is there anything you think might not be important for me to know?  Because I think I want to know it!"

And I think Miss Terry likes the boys.  I wasn't sure I was ever going to get out of there!  She kept wanting another hug, another kiss, another knuckle bump, another high five, etc.  It took about 5 minutes to get away from the check out desk and all I needed to know was that they'll call me!  Travis is very ready to go back!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I Would Have Known You Were Coming I Would have Baked a Cake

Last year I put together a Valentine trifle and it was so tasty I have made several since then.  Last week I made one for a funeral at church and an extra one for our family since I am trying really hard not to let all the special tasty treats we make go out the door and leave nothing left for my special tasty treats at home!  I had to make all the layers of the trifle before I could put it together.  And the boys offered to help!  Red velvet cake is ridiculously red so I had to take pictures of them getting the batter all over their faces in case Randy thought I was letting the kids play with my lipstick.  Like I have anything that red!  They thought it was tasty and the final product was even better.  Such good helpers!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Annual Cardiology Visit

We went back to visit the cardiologist this week and got another glowing report.  Justin had a chest x-ray and EKG and both were relatively unchanged from last year.  The doctor was very pleased.  She listened to Justin's heart and said she could only hear the faintest of murmurs but she wasn't concerned.  She released us for another year!  Then we will have another echo since by then he will probably do okay without sedation (definitely our goal!)  A very easy favorite!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Another Day of Fence Building (Almost the End...)

The day after we returned from Seattle, it was time to do our fence.  As you can see, our neighbors were gearing up for their backyard party, complete with tents and a pinata.  So it was our goal to close in our yard once again and Travis was prepared for the task with his tool belt and of course, his hard hat!

Travis discovered his love of tree climbing and Justin really wanted to join in.  Unfortunately, Randy just had this tree trimmed way back and there wasn't much to climb.  The guys got right to work installing the rot board at the bottom of the fence.

This is my favorite picture from the day!  Marty was hammering on the rot board and Justin crawled over to the other side to help pound in the last nail.  He had his little wooden hammer.  It didn't do much for the nail, but he was fairly accurate.

As the tables went up next door, the 2x4s went between the posts.  See the pretty 2x4s across the top?  Chuck and I did that!  I didn't get to use the saw very much this time.  Chuck did most of the cuts and I did the measuring.

Justin found quite a few friends.  Randy said he doesn't think Justin's feet touched the ground most of the day.  This is one of our friends from church, who is also a pilot with me at work.  We actually met first at work and then by talking realized that we attend the same church.  He has become a great friend and he has walked with us in the Buddy Walk the past couple of years.  He has become one of Justin's good friends too!  They spent quite a while playing throw Daryl's hat on the ground.

This is the last corner of the yard being closed in, Travis' corner.  He was on hand all day watching the progress.  The new fence looks amazing and having so much help was beyond amazing.  I felt a little torn because without my mom here I had to take care of the kids, feed everyone, and help with the fence whenever I could.  But the end product is worth it!  Whew!  So glad we are done with this project!

Seattle: Can We Make a Baby Come?

When my sister shared the news of her pregancy last fall, we had no idea how it would all work out with my mom's treatments.  My mom had resigned herself not to get to be there and help like she did so wonderfully with both my boys.  But God know what he was doing and it worked out perfectly for my mom to get to travel and be with my sister for Thatcher's arrival.  Of course, no one told Thatcher when we were coming and our trip was postponed slightly due to his tardiness.  The boys and I went to help my mom on the trip. 

Then there wasn't much to do but exercise...

(They had it going at 1 mph and Justin was moving!  He could barely look up without stumbling.  It was beyond funny!)

And compare bellies...

Mireille took a few early trips to the hospital.  This was the one that my mom and Jerry's mom took with her when Jerry was working.  Mireille couldn't believe I was taking pictures, but you need them for the book, don't you??

Travis and Justin wanted to go too!

In the end, we couldn't make it happen.  We did some school, cooked some food to stock their freezer, and watched a slightly insane amount of television.  Mireille spent most of the week (and before) in periods of varying levels of labor.  She was fairly uncomfortable and rowdy boys weren't what she needed. 

One interesting thing that happened: Justin learned how to crawl out of the pack and play.  He is beyond flexible (darn those loose joints...) and he just flung his leg over, got up on the edge on his stomach, tipped over and fell right out.  I think he must have rubber bones too because he just bounced right up smiling (I had him demonstrate later...)  Travis came up to us and said, "Justin got out of bed!"  and right behind him comes smiling Justin.  After putting them back in bed, I told them I would be back to check on them.  When I came down a few minutes later, I overheard Travis saying, "Justin, get out of bed!"  After a few threats involving punishment for both boys if Justin got out of bed again, they finally settled down and went to sleep.

We had to leave Friday afternoon so here was our tearful good-bye.  The one disappointment for the boys was not getting to ride in the motor home to the hospital.  Jerry's parents planned to drive and park the motor home close to the hospital at a friends' house to wait for news.  So we have to plan another trip to get a ride (oh, and to meet Thatcher...)

Mireille's water broke on our airplane ride home and Thatcher arrived in his perfect time the next day around lunchtime.  The bonus was that my mom was able to stay and get some good grandma time in.

Welcome to our family, Thatcher!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More Fence Building or All Post Hole Diggers are NOT Alike

So I mentioned that building our neighbor's fence started with our intention to rebuild our fence.  We had all the supplies for both fences delivered at the same time so we had piles of posts, 2x4s and pickets in our driveway for several weeks before we could get back into our backyard to finish that project.  We took down our fence the day after we worked on our neighbor's fence, but Easter was the next weekend so we had to wait another week to get back to our fence.  Randy had an entire day set aside to dig holes and sink the new posts, but things didn't quite work as well as he planned.  Does that ever happen at your house?  I guess the first mistake was trying to do it all himself.  (I had to work.)  The second was planning on an auger being strong enough to cut through the clay in our backyard.  That failed miserably and he ended up having to dig all the holes with a manual post hole digger.

 When we cut down the old fence, out neighbor's backyard was exposed and in the back corner (behind the tree in the second picture) there is a little table and a couple of chairs.  So our neighbor meandered out to watch Randy undertake this task.   He sat down and sipped his beer as Randy struggled to work the auger.  Now I wasn't there, so I heard this account secondhand, but I heard that there was a bit of mocking and perhaps even taunting as Randy labored to dig holes.  But after it was clear that the auger wasn't gong to work, our neighbor pitched in and dug nearly half of the holes along one side of the yard.  He had also convinced Randy to sink the posts 24 inches rather than a mere 18.  By the time I arrived home from work at nearly 5 pm, they were both petering out and there were still 8 holes to dig.  They had decided to chip out the old concrete for one of the posts and they were in the process of sinking the new post when I arrived.  I decided to help by grabbing a bag of concrete.  Do you know that they weigh 80 pounds??  A little old bag of quikrete!  So I hobbled over with the new bag and barely got it to the ground without tipping over.

After that post was in the ground, our neighbor turned supervisor and watched Randy and me dig the rest of the holes.  He sipped another beer and told us when we reached the magic depth.  Truly he was very helpful (I know I sound slightly sarcastic...)  He helped us water down the holes to soften the clay making it easier to dig out.  And he offered to loan us his post holes digger so that Randy and I could both dig at the same time.  And his was much better than ours so yeah!  The older tools always seem to be more effective.  Not sure about that.

So by nearly 7 pm we finally had all the holes dug, but no posts.  So that meant the next day we spent sinking posts, since Randy now had me, his ever-faithful helper.  This was one line of holes at the beginning of the day.  You can see the nice piles of mud next to them.  That will be important later...

This is the line between our helpful neighbor's yard and ours.  I have to add that he had a little incentive for helping us replace the fence.  He had a huge backyard party planned for the next weekend and he really wanted a fence!  I think it would have made for a bigger party!

This was my incentive for replacing the fence:  We have a drain in the back corner of our yard, on an easement between the property lines.  Travis was somehow attracted to it and liked to dig in it.  You know, the dirt is always browner on the other side!  A side note:  Look at our neighbor's fence, still standing and everything!

Seriously, they weigh 80  pounds!!

And they are deceptively small.  This is to get perspective.  The bags are smaller than Justin and he only weighs 22 pounds!

Remember the piles of mud?  Justin thought they looked fun and squishy!

Randy worked hard at digging those holes.  The other corner of our yard has an easement with a telephone box in it.  That made for even more holes and more posts and corners!

Finally putting in the first post of the day.

Travis took to tree climbing.  Ami and Uncle Jerry, here's a good picture of the color of our house!

And at the end of the day, the back line of our yard has posts!

Our neighbor had hope that the fence would be completed when the posts were up.

Now that the posts are set, we have a crew coming next weekend to help us finish.  But in the meantime, my mom, the boys, and I have to make a quick trip to Seattle to help prepare for our grandson/cousin/nephew's arrival!