September 27, 2013

July 27, 2013

  • Click

    A summer haze floods the lens of my camera

    as it sits heavily in my palm,

    making me squint and shield my eyes in its golden glare.

    The viewfinder finds my children drooping limply on the front steps;

    four wilted noodles beneath an unrelenting sun.

    Bikes abandoned and forlorn on the sidewalk,

    swings still and swaying slowly in the tree;

    casualties of the lethargy and lassitude

    that slides stickily down their persons to wetly splash

    into the sticky puddle of sweat and popsicle juice

    at their feet.

    The shutter clicks

    and we file gratefully into the cool blue shadows,

    asylum seekers of the Great Indoors.  


July 3, 2013

  • River me this...

    "I have my hands in the river, I have my hands in the river, I have my hands in the river of my soul...." -Zion singing to himself 

    (Correct words are:  I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul..." and where you make rippling motions with your fingers to indicate the river)


July 1, 2013

  • Unessential Musings

    We moved Layla to a "big girl bed" this past week.  We used one of the unused top bunks from the boys room.  She seems pretty happy with it.  I was ready to move her into a normal bed so that sometimes I can lay down with her instead of having to always rock her to sleep in the rocking chair in her room.  Tonight was her third night in it, and for some reason she was exceptionally wired and chatty as she sat in my lap in the chair, busily looking around the room and telling me lots and lots of stories about a pink car that she has, and riding in her pink car with Zion, and talking about spiders and killing spiders, and Grandma and swinging on the swing with Grandma and hearing a helicopter and going to see it and coming back to the swing and having popcorn...I eventually decided to carry on the conversation in her bed while I laid down with my weary eyes closed.  She tossed and turned and chattered and snuggled and hugged me close a good bit longer.  But the highlight of my day was when I found her little padded chin resting on my forehead, and her little chubby arm flung around my neck squeezing tightly, tucking my face and nose into her soft little neck.  It was just about the dearest feeling in the world.  heart  She went back to squirming and chatting a bit longer, and then sort of suddenly fell asleep, tucked up against me with her back to my chest.  

    Tim and I discussed her tonight before she went to bed, and sorely doubt that she could possibly be any cuter than she already is.  

    This bed change has led to her generally sleeping all through the night, and instead of waking very crankily and wailing miserably for MAMA!!! AND ONLY MAMA!!! in the mornings, she will roll out of bed and pad off to find her brothers, or this morning, she steered her little paddy-paws into our room, climbed up into our bed, nestled close to her mama, and went back to sleep. 


    I have been in serious nesting mode, even this early on in the pregnancy.  I'm 24 weeks this week.  Have LOTS of projects to get done by October 20!!  I busily rearranged closets, and am mid-project in rearranging the attic.  shocked  I have clothing boxes galore scattered throughout the house, and have gone through all of the various bags of clothes crammed hither and yon up there to make them easily accessible when I need them, since the baby will be born right at the change-of-seasonal-clothing time of year.  

    It makes me werrry werrry happy.  

    My attic, by the way, is basically a hunch-over-and-sweat-profusely-while-getting-your-head-and-backbone-scraped-with-protruding-nails-at-least-four-times sort of attic.  Very delightful space.  (But honestly one I'm grateful to have!!) 

    Other essential plans include: sell two bookcases and lots of boy baby clothes, move living room bookcase to bedroom, and have Tim install massive bookshelves in the living room.  Very excited about the last part of this plan.  laughing


    In pregnancy news, all is well.  In cravings news, pretty sure I could eat tomato and cheese sandwiches for every meal until the end of my pregnancy and be just peachy.  In naming the baby news...much mental labor is required.  Working up quite a sweat over here about it, I am.  SO. HARD. TO. FIGURE. OUT.  Lots of great names out there...but hardly any seem right.  LOVE the name Isabella.  Feels completely wrong for this baby.  Plus Tim and I each nix each others names.  Back to work.  Much mental toil remains.


    Layla LOOOOVES to swing in her little blue swing that I found for $4 at Goodwill last year.  She wants her buckle done, and then happily asks to "go high in the sky!!" and cackles and laughs with delight for a loong time.  She will sit in it, even without anyone to push for, for seriously close to an hour.   

June 25, 2013

  • June

    Tim took the three boys camping the first week of June at Cape Henlopen State Park June 4-6.  This was the first they have been camping.  I had originally planned that all of us would go, but after the flurry of end-of-school activities combined with my exhaustion level, I voted that Layla and I would stay home to sleep, and it ended up being the best choice.  We visited them on their second day.  They all had a GREAT time, and LOVED it, Tim included.  

    Cape Henlopen housed a military base during WWII, and this was one of the observation towers used to spot enemy ships.  

    I started up the stairs hopping happily along, and scoffing within that the tower wasn't very tall and I would be fine...

    and was wheezing pained breaths by the time I got to the top and lifting pained muscles to juuuusssttt...make...the...last...few...stepssss putter wheeze crash.  Such a paradigm of in-shape-ness I am.  

    Layla and her daddy looking out the window.  That second floor felt waaaay less precarious and much more solid than the top did, despite its being very safely-enclosed.  

    Eating s'mores.  After Gabe at three of these AND drank a can of caffeine-free Coke, he turned into crazy child, and we had to drive to the beach and let him loose.  He motored waaaaayyy down the beach at a very high rate of speed, and hopped and skipped and jumped and turned cartwheels and wasn't cold in shorts and a t-shirt while the rest of us were freezing in our sweatshirts.  Lesson learned.  No more s'mores plus cola at bedtime.  shocked

    On Wednesday, June 12 we left for VA, where we spent one night before Tim and I left the next day for Pennsylvania, where we attended a conference in Mechanicsburg, PA.  This was the first time we have left all of the kids behind.  This was also kind of an anniversary trip, since our 12th anniversary was Sunday, June 16th, and so when we were not attending our conference, which we enjoyed greatly, we gleefully visited a number of ethnic restaurants around the area.  Tim and I are world travelers at heart, except we lack both the finances and the life stage to do so, so we live vicariously through culinary travel when we get the chance. We went to a Korean restaurant, a Thai buffet, a Tex-Mex place, a Japanese restaurant, Panera, and an Indian restaurant on our little get-away.  Yuuuuuuummmyy!! I had two favorites.  One was the Korean restaurant, where I had a beef hotpot, which was basically a big bowl of vegetables with a little smattering of ground up beef, served with miso soup and an appetizer set of 6 little dishes all with different things to taste.

    Me being happy and quite proficient with my lil' ol' chopsticks, even if I do say so myself...strut strut strut.  

    I also loved the Indian restaurant, where I had something called a dosa, which I had never had before, and which was like a MASSIVE crispy crepe about 18 inches around, served with potatoes and onions in the middle.  I was sort of at a loss of how to eat it, so I folded it up sort of awkwardly and chomped away.  It was very tasty!!  I also had lentil soup, another soup that came with the dosa, and Indian coffee.  The Korean meal was our first, and the Indian meal was our last.  We stayed with some very hospitable friends, Mike and Lori.  It was a lot of fun to get away, but I was also very eager to get home to see my chillun's, all of whom did marvelously with their grandparents.  

    We got back Sunday morning, and spent the rest of the week using my parent's house as a home base for a week of adventures.  

    Examing a MASSIVE beetle they found in the flower bed.  Nasty ol' pinchy thing.  

    On Monday, we went to visit the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.  This is an AWESOME museum that I loved visiting on a field trip in school, and that we had lasted visited around 11 or 12 years ago, and it is still growing.  It is made up of different homes, most disassembled from their native countries and reassembled exactly as they were on the museum lands to show what sort of living situations New World immigrants would have come from.  

    First we went to the West African village, one of the newest additions.   Here the boys were feeding the goats.  

    Then on to the English farm.

    This was one of my very favorite houses.  I think it is so beautiful.  They said that whoever lived in this house had a pretty good life, and would not have necessarily wanted to immigrate to the America's, but the second or third-born of the family, who would not inherit the land/house would have been the ones to come to have the chance for land ownership of their own.  

    This house had a cat upstairs that was comatose with lazy sleep, and barely budged with all the attention the kids showered on it.  I never even saw it open it's eyes.  It looked well-fed and happy.

    Zion on the steps.

    English farm animals.

    Next was a working Irish blacksmith forge.

    Zion and I went outside to rest after standing a while watching the blacksmith, and he happily went to one of his favorite occupations: overturning rocks in search of bugs.  

    He does this to the rocks around my flowerbed in the back of our house all the time, and has no qualms whatsoever about grabbing and examining the bugs he finds.  

    Then on to the Irish farm,

    Everyone that worked there were INCREDIBLY knowledgeable about the time periods they were talking about, and seemed to really love what they did.  

    After this, the kids were turning into whiny tired messes, so we took a break and went out for pizza, and then returned, refreshed and full of caffeine to see the German farm.

    They shuttled us in a blessed glorious golf cart to the 1740's American home,

    and then we walked to the 1820's home.

    The kitchen.

    Laundry looked like an EVEN BIGGER deal back then.  stunned  Glad for my washer and dryer and clothesline.

    Zion and Layla in search of the cat of this house.  I thought it was cute how he had his hand carefully on her back.  I loved seeing the cats around. :)  

    The schoolhouse was next,

    and then the 1840's American home.  

    The springhouse.  The kids really liked this.  

    At this point a massive raincloud blew in and we fled quickly to our open-windowed minivan, passing the Indian settlement by.  Once we got to the van, we were all too beat to go back.  Another time.  

    The whole museum was SO COOL!!!  I loved it.  That night the boys started Bible school at my parent's church, and Little Girl and I swung on the swing while she ate some berries.  :)

    It was very sunny and Girlfriend needed some glasses.

    On Tuesday, we went to Grand Caverns, in Grottoes, VA.  It was a perfect day for this, since it was raining outside.  

    The caverns were beautiful,and Gabe was at the perfect age for enjoying something like this, and was very fascinated and attentive, and asked lots of questions, but Little Girl was very hyper and squeal-ly and there was much shushing so as not to disturb the group dynamics, and then she also wanted to be carried most of the way.  Pant pant stagger.  Zion also declared that he needed to use the bathroom less than halfway through, and there was much consternation on his part about the lack of facilities available within the cave, and Israel was somewhat paranoid about someone being left behind.  This adventure was slightly stressful, with all those dynamics thrown in, and we decided that we prefer less structured, more free-roam activities at this stage of family life.  All with bathrooms readily accessible!!  winky 

    On Wednesday, we took the kids up to one of my very favorite places growing up - Highland Retreat campgrounds in Bergton, VA.  

    This is where I attended camp in the summer from grades 4 until the end of high school (the last few years were sports camp for long-distance running) and then I was a counselor there for the summer after I graduated high school in 1996.  It was also the place our church camp was held, so I have a LOT of familiarity and good associations with this place!!  I LOVED to see my kids thoroughly enjoying themselves.  

    We explored the creek for a long while.  Gabe was hot on his daddy's heels and learned how to skip rocks.  

    Israel was busy finding rocks with which to write on other rocks.  

    Zion LOVED finding rocks to throw into the water over and over and over.

    That is some boy glee right there for you.  pleased

    Layla played and played and played very happily.

    We ate lunch at the campgrounds, went on a hike through the woods, and ended up spending a bit of time at the pool and then on the basketball courts.  

    We ended our day with a second trip of the week to Cici's pizza (we're now big fans), and skipped out on Bible school.  

    On Thursday, we went to Natural Chimneys in Mt. Solon, VA.  

    For some reason (?!?!), we were all tired, especially me.  The chimneys were nifty-cool, and we explored the area nearby that had little cave places to climb back into.

    I did have to include this picture of Gabe's outfit for posterity. (The knife was one that we brought the boys each back from PA.)  He had discovered a belt somewhere along the way.

    After a while Tim tacitly suggested that he take the belt off.  His mommy grinned widely to herself, she did.  

    The kids and Tim spent a long while playing in the extremely clear!! creek there while I just sat.  

    One thing there that I really like was the remnants of an old house formerly constructed on the grounds, where all was left were the front steps and walk area and the chimney containing two fireplaces.  

    It just sparked my imagination, I think.

    The boys and Tim also took a hike up to the top of the overlook, while I...sat.  laughing  Layla and I did make several trips to check out the "facilities", as it were.  

    Such is the exciting life of a pregnant woman.  

    On the way back from taking the kids to VBS that night, I stopped and took a picture of the tiger lilies that line the road that my parents live on.  

    Virginia is SO beautiful in the summer!!

    Friday was spent in preparation for Saturday, and included still more creek-exploring by Tim and the boys, holding of stuffed bunny,

    watering of the front walk shocked,


    the arrival of Uncle Quentin from Blacksburg, and exhausted napping by Layla and Maddie-dog during supper on the porch.  

    We ate all our meals on the porch, by the way.  Perfect weather and much less crumb-sweeping, what with helpful Labrador Retriever's roaming the premises.  winky


    Saturday was my Grandma's 90th Birthday party!!  Every year, my parents hold a family BBQ for her birthday, and this year it was extra-special and extra-big with extra people from Grandma's life invited, including all of her brothers and sisters, her gym-buddies (she swims every week), and other people involved in her life.  Grandma is still very independent and healthy over-all for 90 years of age.  Over 90 people were in attendance, and my dad BBQ'ed 92 pounds of D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. chicken.  

    Kitchen prep before hand.

    Layla had some eager helpers ready to hold her hand after she woke up.  


    Almost everyone arrived before Grandma got there.  SURPRISE, Grandma!!!!  happy

    She was very happily surprised.  

    Grandma with my mom and my aunt Betty.

    Singing happy birthday.

    There was PLENTY of DELICIOUS food

    and six different cakes 

    and four different kinds of homemade icecream.


    This, my friends, was a right proper feast.  The food was all prepared by Grandma Lou's children and grandchildren. 

    Grandma is sitting in a chair that her brother Lewis made and gave to her for her birthday.

    Grandma with her remaining brothers and sisters.  Two of her siblings have died so far.

    Four generations.

    Is this kid cute or what??!!

    It was a great day.  We all crashed tiredly at the end, though, and we ended the day with a grandkid golf cart ride (one tradition)

    and a popcorn party on the porch.  Another tradition.

    We left Sunday morning to drive back home to DE.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making this such a great, relaxing week!!!  We love you!!

June 11, 2013

  • He wants me to turn his swimming trunks right-side out so that he can go flounder about happily in the pool, that wonderful energy-expenditure.  I heart energy-expenditures for boys.  I help him out, and then he shuffles around the kitchen, looking at me out of the corners of his eyes.  

    "Mom?" he says, "Why do you sometimes give us kisses?"  

    "What?" I say, in surprise, looking at him and taking in his hopeful smirk.  

    "I said, why do you sometimes give us kisses?"  

    I smile and I pounce and cover his little four-year old face with smooches, while he stands still, happy.  "Because I like you and I love you and I like to give you kisses!!"  He stands still, a satisfied look on his face, and I hug him close.  His mission is accomplished, and he scampers out to play.

May 20, 2013

  • 18 Weeks


    18 weeks 4 days

    We found out Monday that we are having.........ANOTHER GIRL!!!  I was genuinely surprised - I sort of thought that it would be a boy.  I seem to have lots of practice at growing them.  But I was very excited to find out that Layla would have a SISTER!!  How fun!!


    The boys went with me to my ultrasound; the two oldest had begged to stay home from school a few hours so as not to miss the big reveal.  They were sooooooooooooo happy to be having another sister!!  (Tim stayed home with Layla due to her being so sick.)  While we waited for the doctor to see us after the ultrasound appointment, we discussed names. (This was an attempt to distract three ACTIVE boys!! shocked)  

    Gabe suggested Hannah.  I said that Hannah is indeed a nice name.

    Israel suggested Dora.  I affirmed that this was another idea.

    Zion's vote was for Cutie, Sweetie, or She.  All of these were met with Mommy's approval as well.  winky  (He was so stinkin' cute saying these names...!!!!!)  

    Everything on the ultrasound looked well.  My quad screen also came back negative for any problems.  The doctor increased my thyroid dose per my request in the wake of a TSH of 3.9 that had drained all of my energy back out this month.


    Layla is still getting over her bout with sickness.  This is Day 6.  Her fever is gone, and she hasn't needed any breathing treatments all day, but Girlfrien' is F.U.S.S.Y!!!  


    She has been about Velcroed onto me these past few days.  It's sweet for a while, and then you start to feel really antsy because you basically can't get anything done while you're lugging a two year old around.  


    Ah well.  This too shall pass.


    Some pictures that please me of late:


    The boys were filling balloons up with water and then popping them in the chair.


    And new pictures of the kids:

May 18, 2013

  • Iiiiiiit's SUPER LAYLA!!


    No one can resist the fun of a furling, whirling cape.  



    Layla at the breakfast table with her daddy.  Love this.


    Gabe had a field trip to the Salisbury Zoo this previous weekend, and we took the whole family.  The day turned out to be gorgeous.


    One of the cutest specimens I saw at the zoo. :)


    Another cute 'un who asked me specifically to take his picture. 


    I like these guys.


    The kids had a great time running around on the creekbanks at the zoo after lunch while the adults sat and talked,  


    and while the little people ate chips.  winky


    This was my Mother's Day, in the spring of 2013.  Sitting outside on a cool but sunny day, with my hair in a ponytail and my legs in fuzzy pants, seventeen weeks pregnant with baby number five, with a curly-haired painter at my side, and three superheroes on the loose behind me. ;)  

    In celebration, Tim hung up my living room curtains for me that I finally settled on (after only 4 years) from Target.  Gabe gave me a colorful laminated bookmark that he had made in school.  Israel gave me a yellow flower that he cut out and colored and pasted on blue paper.  Zion gave me the aforementioned flower that he had me draw for him.  Layla was a fussypants with a bad case of Mommy-itis.


    A cutie in the doorway.  


    We've rigged the big tree in our front yard with two nifty items: a rope ladder and a swing.  Both were very warmly received.  

    (note the inside-out shirt that he dressed himself in.  I find this detail endearing.)

    The boys also did their own rigging and tied a ball to a jump rope, and the jump rope to the dogwood tree, and they like to hit the ball back and forth, and Layla likes to grab hold of the rope and hike her little feet out straight in front of her and swing - "Wheeeee!!!"  happy


    We've been celebrating the spring with a nice round of nasty virus.  Boo hiss.  Israel got it first and was sick with a fever, lethargy, and loooots of coughing relieved with albuterol treatments for 4+ days.  When I took him with me to pick up Gabe at school on Wednesday afternoon and he said that he couldn't play on the playground because his lungs couldn't handle it, I called the doctor and they fit him in that afternoon.  The doctor said that he does have asthma (which I have suspected for a while now), but thankfully he has never had an asthma attack.  

    Then Layla got sick, and the two of us went to the ER at 4 AM on Thursday morning with bad croup.  

    She has almost never had croup symptoms up until this point in her life, but has now joined the croup ranks with her brothers.  She remained extremely croupy the whole day after coming home, and I knew I HAD to get her prescribed steroid in her little body before bedtime so as to avoid a repeat of the night before, but every. single. time. a single DROP of about four different carefully disguised concoctions touched her tongue, she would vomit everywhere.  Arrrgggh.  So, after calling the doctor, we returned to our friendly ER for a (fairly quick) steroid shot, much to Layla's utter disgust.  Her symptoms really improved after the second shot, much to my relief.  However, today it looks like she has pneumonia...sigh.  Thankfully, the doctor is letting us treat her from home with antibiotics instead of admitting her, as long as her oxygen saturation stays ok, which so far it has.  

    I sure am grateful for medications such as steroids and albuterol and antibiotics when you need them, even if kids are SUPER CRANKY in the aftermath of steroids.  (Phew).  Just such a relief to know your child is breathing ok.

May 12, 2013

  • Happy Mother's Day...

    Zion:  I need your help drawing a flower.

    Me: Ok, show me where you want it and how big you want it. (He shows me, I draw it, and he examines it happily.  He then hands it to me.)

    Zion:  This is for you.  

    Me:  Oh!  Well, thank you!!

    Zion: (satisfied smile)  Happy Valentines Day...


May 8, 2013

  • Life

    Last night I felt the baby move for sure for the first time.  I actually felt it by putting my hand on my stomach.  I have my ultrasound in 12 days (and counting). 


    Lately the boys have each worked to earn a reward by accomplishing a new task that I wanted them to master.  Israel's was taking care of bathroom cleanup, Zion's was getting himself fully dressed on his own every day, and Gabe earned his just yesterday by showing bravery in during a vaccination.  Every vaccine he has received in the past few years has been accompanied by lots of fear and frantic behavior that results in him being held down whilst shrieking.  No fun for anyone.  Yesterday he got two of three remaining vaccines that I still had to catch him up with, and there was lots of talking through the situation beforehand, a practice run with a needle-less syringe on the couch, and instruction from his daddy regarding such things as bravery.  He got a little freaked when it was time, but the nurse and I talked him through it,  and there was no yelling and restraining.  happy  Good for you, Gabe.


    Lately Israel has had concerns of varied natures.  Black widow spiders have been very concerning lately, for example, and we have had several bedtime conversations where he expressed fear that there were black widows in the shadows around his bed that he couldn't see.  

    The other night he came to me very distressed about heart attacks, and what if he had a heart attack because of "the way I (Israel) ate when I was young!?"  Despite my attempts to mollify him, he was only encouraged when I told him that his Uncle Quentin had eaten at LEAST a half a stick of butter in one sitting when he was little, and he never had a heart attack and probably never will because he eats very healthy and exercises.  

    I have no idea where he picks these things up.  

    Today on the way home from school he was teary because the mother of one of his classmates had jokingly told him that a certain type of grass would cause people to turn green and their blood to turn green if they touched it, and he was very anxious about this, and was only comforted when I reminded him that I was a nurse, so I should know these things, and there was no such thing.  "Oh, right," he said in relief.  Cha-ching for playing the nurse card.  winky


    Today I had a happy glow in my heart about our evening, for no particular reason.  For some reason, Tim and I were both hungry for fried chicken for supper, and he went to KFC and picked some up, and then me and the chilluns took a quick run to Dairy Queen for ice cream cones.  And the day was finally warm and rain-less, and it made me happy to have all the kids playing outside all afternoon, with the two oldest boys running races on the sidewalk in front of the house and Zion and Layla playing in the backyard.  


    Israel has mastered the "doorway climb" much to his glee.  



    On Tuesdays and Thursdays when Israel is home from school, he, Zion, and Layla all play very happily together.  The other day they were playing on the back porch, and wanted a tablecloth for the table, and then busily went to task preparing a snack, which consisted of a large bowl of water in which were placed various apples and individual grapes.  Then they had a happy little chow-down.  


    I'm soooooo ready for it to get warm and STAY warm. shocked


    Here is Miss Lucy Pants with some of her favorite things:  a "p'etty (pretty) dress", a "p'etty bow" in her hair, (the two are in no way obligated to match) and paints.  


     She paints a lot, and colors.  The floor is oft scattered with various artistic endeavors.  shocked  

    Her other talent of late is stripping off all of her clothes and escaping out to the yard.  That also gets one of these faces: shocked.