Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Randy was scheduled for surgery early this morning and everything went very well.  It only lasted about an hour and no complications.  They didn't have to do any grafts!  The surgeon was able to reconnect both the tendon and the skin without cutting anything else.  He said that it is going to be tight, and he might not have complete range of motion, but it was a much easier fix than was expected.

I got some pictures to make up for none from the ER.   Here's the "before" pictures:

And here's the "after".  Randy was so adorable asking the same questions again and again.  His nurse, Janet, was so patient and answered all of his questions.  I have so much respect for people who can do jobs like that.  She did her job very well!

Check out Randy's styling blue socks!  They looked good with his sandals.

We set Randy up on the sofa with his pillow and ice packs.  Justin wanted a pillow and ice pack too!  (He is just wearing his diaper because he had an accident at therapy.  He did great the rest of the day going to the bathroom though.)

Randy is starting to get feeling back in his hand and it's not feeling very good, but the pain meds are helping.  He goes back to the doctor next week to see how he's healing.  Thank you for your prayers.  Randy's doing fine!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do Over

This week has been one we wish we could do over for sure.  It has not turned out at all like we expected, hoped or planned.  I already told you about Randy, but then yesterday we had another set back.  My brother got married yesterday, but we didn't go because of Randy's hand.  So we had some unexpected family time!  The lawn needed to be mowed and I had planned to wash the car, and then we were going to be free.  So I gave Randy a list of what needed to be done inside, and I went outside.  Justin went with me and Travis stayed inside, with strict instructions to come get me if Daddy needed me.  In less than 5 minutes, Travis came running out and yelled, "Daddy needs you!"  I grabbed Justin football style and dashed indoors.

He was up in the attic, pouring bleach down the A/C drain to unclog it.  (Something that we need to do every few months, especially when the a/c runs all the time.)   He was adjusting his feet to be able to pour the bleach down the drain, when you guessed it, he stepped right through the ceiling of Travis' room.  And in his floundering to prevent falling completely through the ceiling, he grabbed the bottle of bleach and it fell straight through the hole.  It caught the corner of Travis' dresser and splashed all...over...the ...floor.  And then it poured out the rest of the completely brand new bottle (minus about 1.5 cups) all over the carpet.

I rushed into the room and grabbed the bottle of bleach and then realized that I was standing in bleach and everywhere I walked I would be spreading it.  I accepted that the carpet was ruined, slipped into the bathroom right next door with as few steps as possible, washed off my feet and ran downstairs to grab all the rag towels we own.  I paused only long enough to instruct the boys not to come upstairs under any circumstances. The fumes were overpowering!

By the time I dumped all the towels on the floor, Randy had made it out of the attic and he was assessing the size of the hole he had made.  Apparently it was close to the site of a previous repair so the hole ended up being HUGE compared to the size of his foot.  He set to work figuring out how to close the hole (temporarily) and I rescued Travis' blankets that were in a basket surrounded by bleach.  I think they are all safe, but the wicker baskets are a slightly lighter color around the bottom edge now.

Randy decided to screw the sheet rock back into the ceiling until we can get back to fixing it.  So he somehow managed to do this with only one hand (see previous post...).  I was very close by and praying that this clean up would not somehow become the third incident in Randy's string of bad luck.  He did a superb job and then we taped up what was left.  I cannot believe that packing tape is holding, but so far, so good!

I attempted to sop up the bleach, while at the same time trying to keep my feet dry so that I wouldn't spread bleachy footprints all over the carpet.  Fortunately with the bathroom next door, as soon as a towel became drenched, it was tossed into the bathtub.  Once the damage was done, there wasn't much else we could do!  Now all our rag towels are white!

In the midst of clean up, I got a call from my father-in-law.  "Whatcha doin' ?"  His favorite call opener.  "Cleaning up the mess from where Randy stepped through the ceiling of Travis' room."  I said, attempting to sound very casual.  "WHAT?!"  I quickly summarized what was happening and he offered to come help us.  Not really sure what else to do, I agreed.

They both came over and it was decided that the carpet where the bulk of the bleach was poured needed to come out to ensure that it wasn't seeping through the floorboards eventually to come dripping into our bedroom below.  So the guys ripped it out.  Then Travis and Justin got to help pull out all the staples.  I am not sure all what happened during that time, but there was a whole lot of giggling.  And this was the end result:

Here's the "after" from the ceiling.  The before was much more dramatic, but I forgot to take a picture in the chaos.

And while I know Randy wishes he could get a "do over" for the day, it really isn't all that bad:

  • Randy did not fall all the way through, requiring another trip to the ER.  Now that would have been embarrassing!
  • Travis was inside prepared to come get me, just in case.  He did awesome!
  • This hole, plus the holes caused by the pipe leaks from earlier this month, means we have enough sheet rock repair that we can justify hiring someone to do it.  Yeah!  Any names of good sheet rock repairers?
  • There are no bleach footprints outside of the bedroom!
  • The fumes were nearly unbearable while we were fixing the ceiling.  Cutting out the carpet made the room "sleepable" again, which was good because Randy's parents spent the night last night after their A/C went out!  I love being able to help someone else out after all the help we require!
It's really all good.  We have a few more expenses than we planned for at the beginning of the month, but we are making it!  Everything is safely and adequately patched so we can sort through and decide what comes first.  Actually, we know what comes first:  Randy's hand, tomorrow morning bright and early.  After he's healed, we can decide what comes next.  Please pray for him tomorrow, and me too!  Thanks!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Intentions

When Randy mows the lawn, I am usually working so the boys go outside with him and play while he's working.  Travis likes to find things and get creative in playing with them.  So a few weeks ago he found a stick that looked like a knife and somehow the talk came around to Randy whittling the stick into a wooden knife for Travis.  This was right before vacation and Travis was so upset that he would have to wait until after vacation for his knife.  So this week Randy started working on it.  He decided that since he had a little more time, he should use something a little more substantial than the stick that Travis found.  So he found a piece of scrap lumber in the garage and cut it down to the size he wanted.

The whittling project itself lasted exactly two nights.  The project ended on Wednesday when Randy sliced open the top of his thumb and we spent the night in the ER.  I called a neighbor to stay with the boys (they were already asleep).  Randy was in a little bit of shock and I never actually saw what he did until the doctor did a little coaxing to get the cloth off his hand.  It wasn't bleeding very badly by that time, but there wasn't much skin left to do any bleeding.  He cut out a chunk the size of a large thumb nail!  Randy wouldn't look, so I checked it out for us both.  Wouldn't you know it, I forgot to bring my camera!  I was so mad, but that wasn't really my thought when I was trying to get out of the house.  Sorry...  After a quick tetanus booster, they gave him some antibiotics, irrigated and dressed the wound and gave us directions to visit a hand surgeon the next day.  The doctor was concerned that Randy couldn't move his thumb up.  The doctor thought there could be some tendon damage.

While we were checking in at the ER I got a call from our neighbor who was staying with the boys and she said that Travis had woken up and he was very upset and inconsolable when he woke and found out that we were gone.  She spent most of the time we were gone telling him stories of nice happy places, praying and trying to convince him that we were coming back.  He threw around the word "abandoned" a few times to describe what we had done.  It was way more work than what we ever thought "staying with the kids" would be!  Travis didn't even fall back asleep until about 11:45 pm.  (He did sleep until 7:30 the next morning though!!!)

Ok, so back to Randy:  After we loaded up on pain meds and antibiotics at the 24-hour pharmacy, plus a Wendy's Frosty to make the pain meds go down easier, we went home.  Randy mentioned that we should be sure to look for the part of his thumb that he cut off so that Travis or Justin didn't accidentally find it the next morning.  Good thinking!  I found the chunk of skin still stuck to the blade!  We did a quick clean up of the accident site and went to bed, ready to get up early and start calling the doctor as soon as he opened.  My many years of doctor-appointment-making skills were to my advantage as we snagged a perfect slot after lunch.  :)

The morning brought the challenge of the shower and getting dressed with one hand.  Randy bumped it a few times and it nearly sent him through the roof!  Poor guy!  He even rode along with us to therapy and to Justin's blood draw (we go back to endocrine next week and the doctor wanted another thyroid reading before the appointment).  Then it was time for his appointment.  We had to explain what "whittling" is to the nurse.  They did an x-ray to make sure he didn't cut or damage the bone (he didn't) and then we met with the doctor.  He said that Randy did a really good job of cutting his thumb and that it was a tough case because he cut all the way to the bone in a scooping motion (kind of like, when you whittle...)  and so he actually cut out a section of the tendon.  When it gets that close to the end of the thumb, the tendon is very thin and fragile and so he can't just pull it back together and stitch it.  It will simply pull right out.  Instead he'll have to graft in a piece of tendon from his wrist.  As for closing up the hole in Randy's thumb, the surgeon cannot graft skin he cuts from another part of the body over the bone and cartilage that is exposed because it will not take.  It has to be "live" skin that he cuts and stretches around from the rest of the thumb.  He will then be able to graft skin lower down on his thumb over the muscle that he exposes while stretching the skin.  Pretty intense, huh?  And he plans to pin and immobilize it because the repair will be so delicate that he doesn't want it moved for several weeks.  By that time, scar tissue may form so firmly that it may not even bend at that joint.

That means surgery on Tuesday and a very long, painful recovery process.  So until then, he is brandishing a splint and some major gauze wrapping.  He is already tired of it.  He said that buttons are nearly impossible and he contemplated wearing elastic waist-banded pants to work on Monday.  I am pretty sure that's not in the dress code!

I want it noted for the record that in spite of my many incidents with knives, I have never required a visit to the ER, much less surgery.  My clumsiness with knives has become the brunt of many a joke, but this time it's not me!  I have had to awaken Randy to help bandage my hand after cutting myself washing our brand new steak knives, I have splattered blood 360 degrees around the kitchen, narrowly missing Randy standing right next to me, and I have various scars from knife slips and fumbles, but never did I do anything this good.  You know this means our children are banned from knives forever.  They are likely to lose a limb with our history!

(Travis took the picture!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Visiting Wisconsin

It has been a long time since we have taken a long trip to Wisconsin to visit my relatives and spend some quality time visiting and relaxing.  Now that my mom is back and her treatments are completed, I thought it was time to fix that and make it a vacation.  Once we started talking, we realized that it has been more than 6 years since Randy has been to WI, so he was well overdue for a visit.  He said that he was protesting since he told me that he never wanted to go up in the winter and the last time we made him go for Christmas and there was a huge snowstorm.  He's from Texas; I can't blame him!

In spite of everything, I got all four of us up to WI in the midst of a Texas heatwave so the efforts were well rewarded.  We played outside and enjoyed the sun all day long.  We made out first stop at my cousin, Kurt's house.  He and his wife, Mary, have one beautiful daughter, Lexi, who we haven't seen since they visited us last February.  We started the visit with a walk and a trip to the playground.

It poured rain the night before when we arrived so the playground was incredibly damp.  Of course we didn't bring anything to wipe off the equipment, so Justin sacrificed himself and went down the slide first to clean it off for the rest of the kids.

Lexi finished up the job.

After that, Justin's shorts were so wet that he just got stuck whenever he went down the slide.  This is a true to life picture of how fast he went:

All three of the kids had a great time playing.  It didn't take long for them to get comfortable with each other.  They played like old friends!

And then began our fascination with bugs.  Right before we left Texas, we read the book A Pocketful of Cricket and Travis decided that he needed a pet bug.  Thus began the quest.  He found a grasshopper and enlisted Kurt to catch it for him.  The one problem was that he refused to touch it and grasshoppers are not known to sit still for very long.  So it disappeared quickly.

Justin and Lexi made friends too.  They are a good pair.

Travis found his favorite playground toy:  a sand digger!

Then we went home and on the way found a caterpillar.  I got another pet request and a refusal to touch so after watching it crawl up and down Kurt's, Lexi's, Justin's, and my arm, we put it safely in the grass and continued home.  Then Kurt blew up the bounce house and the kids jumped themselves silly while Kurt and I tried to sit and talk.  (Mary was working.)  It's hard to take pictures of three kids bouncing!

After nap, dinner, and a little more bouncing, Kurt got a fire going and we roasted marshmallows for smores.  We could never do this in Texas!  Between the fire ban and the 100+ temperatures there is no way we would stand around a campfire in Texas in August! 

I decided to let Justin have a smore (even though it has wheat) because he was refusing just the marshmallow and I figured he wouldn't eat very much of it anyway.  I was wrong.  Do you see that tongue coming out of his mouth?  That's a "Ooh, this is tasty" sweep over the top lip.  He polished off the entire thing.  Lexi barely touched hers.  Figures.

It's hard to see, but if you follow the stick all the way up, you can see the perfectly toasted marshmallow.  Not his doing by the way.  Kurt makes the perfect mallows.  He has way more patience than the rest of us.

On the way back inside to throw all the kiddos into the bath Kurt spotted another creature.  I think he called in a tiger striped frog, or something like that.  By this time, Travis worked up enough courage to touch, but not hold.  Justin thought it was pretty cool!  The next morning we found tree frogs climbing up the picture window in the living room.  Mary captured one for Travis and he touched it again.  But it was pretty jumpy!

Day two started out with a visit to the "zoo" on the way to get Daddy from the airport.  "Zoo" is a generous term, but it was perfect for the kids.  Just enough animals to keep their attention, no crowds, and the perfect price - free! 

This is Justin's sign language for "pig".  He holds his nose and on occasion we get a solid "snort" out of him!

The alpacas have some serious teeth.  We kept the kids away from him!

Daddy was safely rescued from the airport and at nap time he settled into what would be his vacation routine of napping with the kids.  Then we went to my uncle's house for dinner with my other cousins too!  I took pictures for my grandmother since she has never been there, but I forgot to take pictures of the actual house!  (My mom has since taken my grandmother to visit so no worries.)  Travis had a great time with my cousin's son, Matthew, who is about a year older than he is.  It took about two minutes to get over the nerves.  And Justin joined the fun chasing them!  The kids were having so much fun I told my aunt we'd just pick them up the next day.  She didn't go for it.  I am sure they'd take care of themselves!

(L-R) Kayla, Justin, Lexi, Travis, Matthew, and Brianna

The next day we all went to my grandmother's house.  And what visit is complete without a trip to the cookie factory?  Mary had never been to the cookie factory so we had to show her what it is all about.  Lexi enjoyed it too!   Randy hasn't been there either so it was a big trip for us.

Kurt, Mary and Lexi on their first trip to the cookie factory.

The kids definitely got their dessert that day.  I used cookies as a bribe to keep the kids in bed.  If they didn't get out of bed the whole time we were there they got to pick out one kind of cookie to buy.  And if they behaved well they got to try more samples.  If they misbehaved, they lost samples.  This only really worked with Travis, but he influenced Justin to behave by not being the instigator. :)

Three wiggly great-grandchildren and a great-grandmother!

Grandma enjoyed reading Elmo to Justin, and he enjoyed hearing it for the 150th time.

I treasure each picture that we get of the boys and my grandmother.  I want the boys to know the rich legacy they have.  It was a fabulous visit.  I got to hear more stories and I was able to cook for grandmother, although nothing compared to the years of delicious roast beef, mashed potatoes, fresh garden vegetables, and fruit-filled pies that we all enjoyed as kids.

We rounded out our trip back in Madison.  I made plans to eat at all of my favorite places:  apple fritters at Greenbush bakery, pizza at Rocky Rococo, and baked goods at Perkin's.  All I got were the fritters, and the boys got a meal at Ella's Deli.  It is a childhood dream with all kinds of carnival decorations and moving characters.  Justin was mesmerized by the moving tools.  (Trust me, they move in real life.)

Each table is decorated inside and some even have moving parts.  Here's one of my favorites, but no Continental plane.  I didn't even look for United!  Our table had a train, but it didn't work.  Big disappointment for the boys.

What carnival restaurant would be complete without a carousel?  The boys finished off the meal with a couple of spins. 

The second time around Travis got the Badger horse!  Check it out with the big "W" and even the rose for the big Bowl game.  Travis even had on his Badger shirt.  (We stocked up on our Badger and Packer gear while we were visiting!)

It has been so long since we have taken a week-long vacation that I ran out of camera battery and I didn't bring the charger.  So the flash didn't work very well for the last few shots.  We fit in as many family visits as we could during our Madison time so here's with my cousin Jeff and his wife, Michelle's kids.  Sorry for the absolutely lousy exposure.  It in no reflects on the awesome visit we had.  It has been so long since we have seen them and I am totally loving the way they all played so well together.  Anaiah even shared her pet rats with Justin.  (What did I tell you about the "animal" theme of our trip?)

We also fit in a visit with one of my mom's cousins and her husband.  This is the best one of the bunch, sorry!  But dinner and the conversation were great!  The kids love Nana's toys (our toys growing up) and they were perfectly content playing while we talked.  I so appreciate adult conversation!

Even some of Nana's not toys are fun.  She has a bucket of wooden apples and the boys spent hours playing with them and stacking them and sorting them and throwing them.  Travis even practiced counting by three's with them.

And then the camera died, so no pictures of my Uncle Mark and Sam during their dinner visit.  But the rest of the trip was spent helping my mom organize and clean as she unpacked and sorted everything that she brought home from our house.  We got it on both ends!  Randy cleaned ceiling fans, I mopped the kitchen and killed spiders in the storage unit.  Can I just say that I am not scared of spiders, but dark areas filled with spider webs on all sides, all currently occupied by their makers was enough to make me squirm.  I emptied the end of a can of Raid (perhaps twice as much as necessary...) and then l ran out to wait for the smoke to die down.  Even then as I scraped out the remnants with a broom, I was certain that at least one spider had survived to avenge the deaths of his friends and relatives.  Not my favorite job, but I took one for team.  I asked Randy to check my hair and back for any taggers along and he pronounced me clean only for my next trip out to find a bug clinging to my shirt.  I jumped back about a foot, like that was going to help!  But I survived and we did what we could to improve the appearance of her home.  There is more left to do, but that can wait for another visit.

We also found time to hit a Border's going-out-of-business sale, Trader Joe's, and the Brandon Meat Market for our supply of brats and bacon.  That, along with our cookies, more than filled up our bags.  Then it was time to say good-bye.  I threatened to stay until the temperature in TX got below 95, but that doesn't seem to be coming any time soon.  WI weather was beyond perfect.  Sunny, breezy and mid-80's.  Love it.  Just like I do all my family and friends who live there.  You are welcome to visit Texas in January. :)

ENT Visit: Apnea Update

We went to the ENT this morning to see if Justin's tonsils are a playing a part in his sleep issues.  One look confirmed that his tonsils will soon be history.  His tonsils have grown from a +1 (growth blocking 25% of his airway) to +3 (blocking 75% of his airway) since last summer.  Why is everything growing inside and not outside?   That's where all his food is going!  The doctor will remove the adenoids at the same time, even though she cannot see them to know if they are a problem.  I asked her why do the surgery if he will probably need CPAP anyway.  She said that it's still likely that he will need CPAP, but the removal of the tonsils means the air flow settings will not need to be as high to force air past the tonsils.  And removing the adenoids will give an extra millimeter, which will help too.  The lower flow settings will mean he will tolerate it better.  I am all for that!

Because of his age and DS he will need to spend the night in the hospital.  And the doctor said to be prepared for at least a week of complete dedication to Justin's healing.  She talked with Travis about remembering how he felt after surgery and that it wasn't time for wrestling and picking on his brother but that it was a chance to be a loving and helpful big brother.  Travis definitely said that it was no fun having tonsils out, so he can commiserate with Justin.  I am glad we didn't do them at the same time! Time to stock up on ice cream and pudding...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of School...But Not for Us!

Today is the first day of school in our school district.  But Travis did not score a lunch bag this weekend during tax-free weekend, he did not "meet the teacher" earlier this month, nor was he outside waiting for the school bus this morning.  Neither was Justin, for that matter, given that he is able to start school because of having DS.  I am not a terrible mother, we just are continuing the adventure of homeschooling.  I have to admit, I had a few "tummy in the throat" moments today as I was battered by doubts and concerns.  And school did not go great this morning as Travis struggled to understand the long "a" sound in its various spellings.  Wiggly does not begin to describe it!  But during nap/rest time I listened to a recording of one of the sessions from the homeschool conference we went to last month and I calmed down.

This was the third year we went to the conference and as one of my friends said, "Every year I get so much more out of it!"  The first year it's like the deer in the headlights look.  The sheer volume of vendors in the resource hall is enough to cause panic.  It's so much better as I recognize names and understand the lingo.  I had a plan of attack and knew what I needed.  Of course, we came out with more than just the "needs" fulfilled, but I think that's how God works.

The event is amazing and I love the fact that this group makes the effort to plan something so encouraging.  The two-and-a-half days are filled with speakers, meetings, shopping, children's and teens' activities, family fun, and the whole experience is infused with encouragement and prayer.  I cannot help but come away feeling excited and renewed.  (I know that's the point....)

Randy and I usually go together to hear the speakers, but if it's difficult to chose we split up and attend two.  Every year it's more difficult to chose so we end up getting the sessions on tape and listening to them later.  Every year there is a session for homeschooling kids with special needs, which we have purposefully avoided because we aren't quite there yet with Justin and there are other sessions we think are more important at the time.  That was our plan again this year, but for some reason I changed my mind and went anyway.  I am so glad I went because my nugget for the conference was in that session.  The speaker (who I ended up running into at the gym later the next week!) recommended working on teaching skills that are age appropriate rather than waiting until you have no choice.  Like not waiting to teach shoe tying until shoe manufacturers no longer make velcro closures in his size!  Even if it takes longer, she recommended putting in the extra effort.  It was the nugget I needed in my struggle with potty training.  Of course, I understand that not everything works within her theory, but I can see the value as children watch their peers and learn from and with them.

I admit that we are not committed to homeschooling forever, but it's the right choice for us right now.  If Travis had been in school, I would have missed him singing this on the way to the grocery store this morning:

(I love recreating moments for blog-post effectiveness!)

And since every first day needs a picture, here's Travis' first day of kindergarten.  It's from February!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Progress Report

Here's the updates on a few of our ongoing operations:

  • Bike Riding:  I did begin working on this with Travis.  It would have been easier with air in the tires.  Trying this again next week...
  • Potty Training:  I have been reminded of the need for patience.  Justin does great when I put him on the potty.  He does his thing nearly every time.  So if I could have the intuition to know when he needs to go, we would be great!  I am, however, not that in tune with Justin's bodily functions.  He is getting better, and we are working on the recognizing when we need to go.  (It is "we" for a while since he can't pull down his pants, or more accurately pull them up!)  He is much more cooperative in going, although we still get the big sigh and shoulder slump occasionally.  He wants to wear underwear, so that's encouraging too.
  • Apnea:  I think this is affecting him more and more every day.  The past few days sometime between 10 and 11 am he has a little meltdown if he cannot be held.  When I was trying to pack to leave WI (more coming, I promise) he was nearly beside himself crying and whining.  It took about 11 minutes for him to pass out once we got in the car.  And yesterday at therapy Miss Caroline said that he seemed more tired and he wanted her to hold him.  She loves this and gladly complied.  And again, he fell asleep on the way home.  So, if I can somehow manipulate my schedule to be in the car every day during that magic hour, thus allowing him to get a 20 minute nap, we can make it through lunch to regular nap time.  Either that or put him down for a nap early and then more nap time later in the afternoon.  We go to the ENT next Tuesday.  As soon as we get through that appointment I plan to start calling for another sleep study cancellation as soon as possible.  I am losing my patience and I am snapping at the boys more than I should.  Not liking myself too much, so I am trying to get myself more sleep in a possibly futile attempt to gain a bit more control over my short fuse.  That and some major deep breathing and prayer.
  • Air conditioning is finally fixed!  Just three attempts.  Can't wait for the next electric bill....
I have a couple more posts coming about the homeschool conference and our great trip to WI!  I have to work this weekend and it's tax-free weekend in Texas so I will be doing some fall shopping in the little time I am home.   Time to stock up on school supplies and "winter" clothes for Travis!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I bought foam swords for the boys earlier this year.  I decided to buy them after I took away the boys' plastic baseball bats, flags (on long wooden sticks), and even butterfly nets after they were all used to beat each other one time too often.  I figured they could hit each other and there would be less blood.  It has been successful so far, but there has been one unexpected consequence:

Can you tell which one is Justin's?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Bad House Day

With working in Travis' new old room yesterday, I didn't get to do the cleaning I usually do on Wednesdays.  I wasn't really excited about doing it today, but I knew that I needed to do it so I wouldn't get too far behind.  It turned out I didn't need to worry because when I walked into the kitchen this morning I stepped into a puddle of water where a pipe had leaked in the ceiling.  Randy quickly shut off the water to the house and I got out of cleaning duty.  I also didn't get the chance to take a shower so I was a bit odiferous today.  But don't worry too much, because with the A/C acting up, it was close to 80 degrees in the house today, so the shower wouldn't have lasted very long anyway!

Since I know God is still in control through all of our home repair issues, here's what makes it all okay:
  • My mother is already on her way home so I don't need to worry about her in this situation.
  • I didn't have any play dates with extra children in our home today.
  • I got extra time to play pirate, indian, cowboys, trucks, and do some wrestling with the boys.
  • We found the leak without it doing any extra damage.
  • We still was able to do all the things that needed to be done, including therapy, plus a few minutes at the gym.
  • I had the opportunity to appreciate my husband for the way he takes such good care of our house.
  • My schedule got a little bit out of whack so I ended up at the gym at an off time, and ran into another mother of a daughter with DS and ended up making a great contact!  I am so excited about this one!
  • Our neighbors brought us super yummy cake for no reason.
It was one of those days, but I am happy to say that God is so good through it all.

The Bucket

My mom left to begin driving home to Wisconsin yesterday.  One of the saddest days yet for our home.  She managed to fit everything that she brought with her last fall plus all that she acquired since then into her car for the 1200 mile, 20 hour drive.  Did I mention it was horribly sad?  It was a bit of a power struggle for me to agree to let her make the trip solo, but in the end I understood her need for some alone time and let her go.  So why do I feel like a parent sending their child off to college or to their first job?

So yesterday afternoon I spent cleaning out the room and moving all of Travis' clothes, stuffed animals, pictures, etc. back into the room.  All the time I was thinking what a good room that has been for my family.  That room was the first bedroom Randy and I painted together.  My sister spent six months in that room living with us after college/ graduate school.  It was Travis' first "big boy" room when Justin was born.  And now I am considering moving both boys together into that room.  (Thoughts?)  It is overflowing with memories.  They fill the room beyond measure.

And the bucket?  When my mom moved in and she began chemo she wanted something that would be "just in case" she needed it for whatever chemo might do to her.  She kept that bucket by her bed for almost nine months.  It became the elephant in the room.  The reminder that while it was wonderful that she was with us, it was for another reason.  I moved the bucket dozens of times during her stay.  The bucket became cancer for me.

But when she left, the bucket stayed behind.  Its usefulness passed.  She is no longer to be identified with her bucket, nor it with her.  Washing the bucket and putting it away was cathartic.  I relived the past nine months in quick flashes, moving more quickly as time progressed.  I felt a weight removed and joy abounding when the last image flashed of Randy bringing the bucket out of the room.  The bucket is back to being...just a bucket.   

Toy Swap

A couple of years ago I had one of those frustrating moments that maybe only I have where something in my house is kind of bothering me, and then it nudges a little more, and then finally I cannot take it any more and I must do something about it now. I usually pertains to cleaning or organizing.  I have been known to organize so well that I cannot find things.  It's in the perfect spot, I know, I just cannot remember where that spot is!  (Believe me, there are plenty of things that probably bother other people about my house, but they haven't even entered my radar yet!)

So this time, it was about toys.  I struggle big time with toys.  Like most families, we have way more than we could ever play with.  But I hate to discard and pass on when the kids really do play with them.  We are attempting to limit the introduction of toys into our home, but that's another story.  So when the big huge mammoth armoire entered our living room, a light bulb went on in my head and toy swap began.  I bought some bins and separated out the toys into two piles and stored one in the armoire and the other went neatly on the toy shelves.  So now every month I switch toys.  Travis loves it and asks if it's time to switch toys.  (I also take the opportunity to switch CDs in the car so we get some variety there too.)  I had another light bulb moment last month and I made Travis help me gather all the toys in the living room so I could do the swap.  He hauled all the buckets and toys from the play room into the living room in front of the armoire.  It made it go so much faster!  And then this month I tried something else.  I used to do the swap after the kids went to bed, but instead I tried to do it with their help.  I knew it would take a little longer, but I thought it might work anyway.  It did!  The kids were very helpful (Okay, Travis was very helpful, Justin needed a little more direction!)

The scope of swap has expanded since its inception.  At first it was only the smaller toys and a few other things.  Now I even take the play tent down every other month.  A few of the larger things sit in the corner of Justin's room (the basketball hoop, the larger trucks) because the boys don't play in there.  And the games switch out too.  The other day when the kids had their play date and one of the boys ventured into Justin's room and started playing with something, Travis even told him that he couldn't play with that until next month!

We are reading and discussing the book Radical by David Platt in our Bible class.  It's a great book, if for no other reason that it makes you think about what's truly important in life.  How much is too much?  What kind of life does Jesus want for his followers?  It's  really causing me to take a serious look at our lives and our "stuff".  Is it about what makes me comfortable?  It's difficult to teach the children about serving others and sacrificing when our closets are overflowing and there is no need left unmet.  Toys are my biggest struggle (there are others too...one is our pantry) and I am at a loss as to how to handle, control, deal with the mountain that is toys.  If you have any thoughts or great ideas I would love to hear them.

One half of Travis and Justin's toys, ready to be put up

The other half, ready to be put out for the month

One half of the toys, stored

Monday, August 1, 2011

Play Date

Today we had some of our neighbor boys come and spend the afternoon with us.  Last week as I was calling another person to help watch my kids so I could go to the doctor (with Randy this time!) I was thinking that I wish someone would call me and ask me for help.  I think everyone thinks I am too busy, but really there are times that I am free and I would love to return some of the favors I continually solicit.  So yeah!  I was able to help someone today!  And my boys had a great time too.  The boys are both older than Travis but they do great playing together and today was no exception.  I love how all three boys really tried to include Justin and no one had to sit in time out the entire time!

My favorite moment was when Braydon took Justin into his lap and he tried to help Justin play catch.  And then all four boys played hot potato.  It's one of those times that makes a mother's heart all warm and fuzzy.