Preparing for Winter

This past weekend was dry and even had some sun, so DH and I got stakes and burlap around our young apple trees and lilac tree, as well as adding a burlap wind break for my hydrangea which is partially protected by the house. None of these bloomed last year, and if this winter is similar to last year I don’t want to permanently damage the trees. I also added mulch to the bases of these as well as our magnolia tree. A few weeks ago I bought a bunch of bulbs (40% off) and put in crocuses and snake head fritillaria. I wasn’t going to add anything to the garden this year, but I’m a sucker. I know the squirrels will rearrange the crocuses a bit, but am hoping that I put enough in – 70 or so – that I’ll still have nice color in the spring. I love when the bits of green start poking up in March. I always have to walk around the house before coming in, even if I’m navigating through some snow. I’ve got plans for where to plant corn next year, but I’m not going to let DH in on it. My sun exposure is limited and I have to be a little creative. Last year I planted the corn too late and the frost got it. I want to harvest my popcorn next year! At least the kids got to see the immature ear and have a better idea of where that microwave bag began.

A few days this week I actually pulled my son into the kitchen to help with dinner. He learned about ‘making’ pasta, and was pretty pleased with his eleven year old self. This is an area in which I really need to work. I get into my routines of doing things and forget about pulling the kids in so they can learn. The side benefit of them learning would be them being able to make a simple meal of spaghetti when I’m sick. I also need to get back into typing up our favorite recipes and have a thin binder with them in easy reach of the kids. My mom never taught me to cook, but I do remember just getting in the kitchen and starting with some simple things on my own.

My middle has been knitting, and hasn’t been pulling it out every other row. I think this year she’ll actually finish her scarf! She’ll be able to enter it into the fair as she re-started it since August. We have a crochet pattern ready to go, but I told her we’ll wait until the scarf is finished. She’s been starting and ripping this scarf for two years now, and I think this is the time she’ll finish as she’s got about 16 inches done, and it’s consistent so far.

My oldest had been on a chain mail jewelry kick, but hasn’t touched it for a couple of months. She asked for a couple of pattern/how-to books for Christmas along with a bunch of colored wire, so I hope this is just a break, and not an indication that the infatuation is over. If it was infatuation, she’ll have a disappointing Christmas morning.

I need to start working on Christmas cards. I’ve been writing the letter which will go out to family, but along with cards to family, there are many cards for church family to prepare. Our church always puts up a huge box organized alphabetically for card exchange. I don’t do cards for everyone, but we’ve been here 14 years and know a lot of the families.

As always, I’m way behind with house cleaning, have laundry waiting for me, and have a sewing stack which hasn’t been touched for a while. Better go.

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Musings on a Gray Morning

This is the time of year when we have appointments galore. We’re through about a third of them, but found out yesterday that DD2 can skip next year for the heart doctor, who’s monitoring her heart murmur. She was thrilled. That’s an uncomfortable appointment for her – being hooked up to an EKG, then possibly an ultrasound. These things involve a very sensitive area for a growing teen. This time of year also brings her eye exam, which I somehow took an appointment on homeschool co-op day. That’ll be fun as her eyes stay dilated at least 24 hours. Her braces came off, she has dental cleaning coming up, and recently she had her well check. For all of these appointments and the time of year into which they fall, I’m thankful she’s homeschooled.

I’m thankful that we chose to continue home school for DD2 through high school. I still see her growing as a student, but we’ve had points of frustration as well. Growing pains are a big deal for her, as well as other womanly changes. I’ve seen things which would have had her sent home from school (because they’d interpret it as sickness or just plain disruption) but here simply took a half hour to an hour’s time, some listening, and sometimes some Tylenol. She’s becoming more responsible about homework, studying for tests and quizes (we’ve been working on test anxiety since home school began), and getting work finished within a reasonable length of time. She’s also become better about setting assignments aside when frustrated, then going back to them later in the day. I think it has helped that she’s often able to complete the assignment without further trouble, so she’s internalizing the positives of the process. Again, in public school they won’t let you move on to history class because biology has you frustrated. You’re at the mercy of the bell.

My youngest seems to be settling into middle school. He just got to attend a high charged birthday sleepover which ended in paintball. The birthday boy has a zipline in his back yard! When DS came home, he commented that he understood why he and his sisters didn’t go to very many sleepovers – lack of sleep. At least he can see it and honestly admit it. Many kids can bounce back from lack of sleep, but it hits our crew quite hard.

My sister is battling breast cancer for the second time, and I just found out that it has spread to her liver and possibly her bones. I already knew that there was a spot on her lung. Well, I told the kids (15, 14, 11) that their aunt would never be free of her cancer. You could almost see the thoughts as if they had been vocalized. My oldest has learned a bit about cancer in school. My dad died last year after a long battle with chronic leukemia. My middle made the comment, “So, she’ll have it until she dies?” I just made a small affirmation of that. The youngest just kept eating dinner. No connection made. I didn’t tell them anything more other than they need to be prepared to see her bald at Christmas. Honestly, I don’t know much more. I can guess a lot more, but don’t want to spring too much information too quickly.

I’m a little miffed with my mom. She called last Monday to tell me that my sister had been taken to the ER as her tumor had begun to hemmhorage. Mom was heading to my sister’s for her own peace of mind. I didn’t expect my sister to call – she was a bit tied up. But I haven’t heard from mom since that call. She never called to say how sis was doing, or if she’d been released from the hospital, or anything. I finally got a hold of my sister on Sunday. I had tried a few times on Saturday, wanting to give her a little time to get home from the hospital and not be too drained to be on the phone. She’s in good spirits as always. Her attitude is her best defense, and we generally get some good laughs in. I’m just in a bit of disbelief that Mom would keep me hanging like this. She told me she didn’t know how long she’d stay by my sister, so I don’t even know if she’s home yet. Yes, I should just get over myself and call Mom, but I’m truly not ready to. Some of you may be thinking, ‘cell phone’. Well, she keeps a track phone and only turns it on when expecting a call or making one. I don’t have the number, either. I guess I just need a little time before I call her.

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Comings and Goings

This past weekend the girls and I went to a glass class which I had arranged for DD2′s 4H group. Our group has been trying to get a class with this shop for a few years, and I volunteered to try again as my eldest has been taking classes there for the past three years. I won’t volunteer to do so again. Three of the people who had signed up never showed. That’s significant when the class was ten people. One backed out a few days prior to the class due to a school conflict, but wouldn’t you know about a cross country meet more than a few days in advance? This shop usually takes payment at the time a class is registered for, but agreed to take it at the time of the class for our group. We also got a discounted price for the project. They went out of their way for us, and those who just didn’t show up were incredibly rude.

Okay, enough ranting. The girls and I had a good time. My eldest has taken all of the smaller project classes offered by this shop. It’s time to think about the bigger classes: stained glass and glass blowing. The shop has a glory hole, which is considerably smaller than the open oven you envision when you think of glass blowing, but it’s an incredible opportunity for a small area. We’ve enjoyed glass fusing so much that I’ve actually priced some kilns, but we don’t have space for one. A small table top kiln is still around $500, so it’s also not in the budget right now. Maybe a bit down the road as DD1 works her way into her career.

Our son did not make the crew of the play his school is beginning to work on. He had signed up to be the stage manager, which he has absolutely no experience with, but I was bummed for him. I’m not bummed about missing all of the shuttling for the practices, but for this child to put himself out there like that is tough. Fortunately our church is starting work on its Christmas play, and the director is willing to let DS help with scene changes, etc. DH and DD1 are both acting, so the practices are already on our schedule.

I worry about DS at times. He gets down in the dumps so easily. I’ve tried giving him a thankfulness journal (I think he wrote one entry) and before that had him tell me one good thing about his day when I picked him up from school. These were trying to get him to think about the positives a bit more. He complains that he doesn’t fit in with the youth at church (just moved up into the junior high), but when he went on an outing with them, he didn’t talk to/hang out with any of the other kids. At the same time, he claims that going on a weekend getaway with this same crowd would help him feel more like he fits in. I think he really just wants to go to the destination, which is a cool place and the girls went on this trip a couple of years ago.

Friday I dangled a carrot in front of DD2, who is homeschooled. I told her that if she finished her work, or all but art, we could spend the afternoon in Amish country. There are three stores I visit 3-5 times a year and she loves to see the horses. My other two kids could take it or leave it. They’ve been, and well…it’s still shopping, just in Amish stores. DD2 likes slow paced things, and the others like more action. Anyway, she finished strong and off we went. It was busier than I’ve ever seen it, but that was fun too as there was more interaction. DD2 and one of the local girls got to talking so I just wandered to give them some time. Lots of puppies and rabbits were for sale, so DD2 drank in the opportunity to hold and pet.

Now I’m looking around my house and I can’t ignore how sadly in need it is. Piles of stuff have accumulated and dust is taking on a life of its own. It’s time to leave the comings and goings of the weekend behind and get back to work.

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Weekend Adventures

This past weekend our kids had Friday off of school. (I still don’t understand the purpose of these monthly days off, but I can’t change it.) DH proposed going to a neighboring state’s park for site seeing and photography, and off we went. We got off to a great start, being on the road by 4pm Thursday. DH wanted the full day Friday to explore. We were making great time until the highway ground to a halt. It took us two hours to go about 5 miles, and we ended up pulling into the hotel after midnight.

The next day at lunch we were finishing with some chocolate chip cookies, when I looked over at DH and saw a funny look on his face. A crown had come completely off. We slipped it into an empty baggy and continued with our hiking/exploring. We finished early so he could search for a dentist. Out of ten dentists in the area, only two were open on Friday and one of them had closed at two. The other could maybe see him in a week.

Saturday was my golden day as my best friend joined us and she and I spent the day catching up. We hadn’t been face to face for about a year, so our tongues went non-stop. DH took the kids off for a hike to let us have some time alone. After lunch we all went for a hike together, where I re twisted my ankle while scrambling over rocks. Fortunately, I know the exercises to do and am back at them.

Even with all of the mishaps, we had a great time and laughed over the events of the weekend. Our oldest commented on the fact that we were laughing about the bad stuff. Hopefully that unintended lesson will stick with the kids. Bad things happen here and there, but if you keep your sense of humor it doesn’t need to sour your experiences.

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Down, But Not Out

I’ve been on a bit of a journey through doctor’s offices, and am now recovering. Three gall stones decided they were too crowded and looked for a way out, then a week after they were removed, the whole gall bladder was taken. I still need to have a stent removed, but that will be a cake walk. Everyone who’s had this done reassured me that recovery was fairly fast, and I’m finding them to be correct. The surgery was Thursday, and today I went grocery shopping. There’s no school today, so I took my oldest with me. She did the lifting and could’ve driven home if needed (it’s only two miles and she has a permit).

I have to say that the kids are more sick of my recovery than I am. They’re tired of taking care of the dishwasher, lugging the laundry baskets, and taking loads of things here and there around the house for me. It’s doing them a world of good to see how much work goes into the house, and I am not even a Martha Stewart with everything perfect. There are dust bunnies rolling around right now, and I’m happy to ignore them for a bit. I worked to get the bathrooms and kitchen cleaned, and have the laundry and ironing up to date before the surgery, along with some last minute errands such as filling the fridge with milk. I only had two day’s notice, so I think I did pretty well. I could’ve pushed harder, but my oldest has a cold, and I was taking time to rest to avoid catching it and potentially delaying surgery.

My youngest has been the only one to voice his protests so far. The girls show it in their faces, but are clearly trying not to be whiny. Dinners have been a bit piece-meal, but that’s okay too. Tonight I had the bright idea to pull out a ham (I buy a boneless and cut it into six sections then freeze), and we’ll have rice and some Pillsbury crescent rolls. The rolls are a rare thing in this house, so the kids will be happy.

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A Great Start

It’s a day of firsts in our household. The first day of school for all three kids, the first day of high school for my middle (home schooled), and the first day of middle school for my youngest. It’s also the first day of the school year with a call home.

“Mom, you know that mosquito bite I got this weekend? It’s red, has heat, is swollen, and has streaks.”
“Can the office staff see the streaks?”
“Are you calling to come home, or for me to make the appointment?”
“Make the appointment. Bye.”

He called during the doctor office’s lunch break. Near the beginning of the hour and a half lunch break. They might be able to fit him in this afternoon, or we may be spending a couple of hours at Urgent Care. Once the streaks show up, you need to get the antibiotics going.

I told him to wash the bites, but that doesn’t always hold off infection. That’s all I had the energy to do as I was in bed with a flu type bug. I spent about 18 hours out of a 24 hour period sleeping – on Labor Day weekend. I guess I should have seen that the tone was being set for the start of school.

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When Does it End?

I was talking with my sister yesterday when she brought up something that struck a nerve. My mom is going to take my sister’s youngest son for the week next week because she’s been missing her grandkids.

Why would that upset me? Because we live 3 hours away from Mom, invited her to come visit in July and were turned down, then invited her to come to the fair with us and were turned down. Several times when my nephews were young I heard Mom comment on how she couldn’t wait for the kids to be old enough to take to the fair. She actually has a grandchild in 4H with projects on display to go see, and now she’s not interested.

Driving can’t be the issue, because she’s driving further to meet my nephew than she would to come see us, and she’ll do it twice within the same week.

I’m so glad that my kids don’t know how many times the other grandchildren have had visits, let alone with grandparents staying one or two nights (for us it’s always here and gone the same day) and having the grandkids come stay at the hotel with them and go swimming. (The last time Mom came here was Thanksgiving last year.) Or about the back-to-school shopping trips, or all of the school programs that couldn’t be missed. They made it to one of our kid’s programs – we’re three hours away, my sister is nine hours away.

Now my sister and Mom want us all to meet at a State Park for a long weekend next summer and share a cabin. When I was growing up, my dad took us to this park every summer. Mom always stayed home. She hated this part of the state. She’s not an outdoor gal. Now she apparently can’t get enough of this part of the state and wants us all to vacation together.

For us, this would be very stressful. My sister has raised her kids very differently from our family. She pictures her oldest two boys and my girls sharing a pop-up camper. My girls have been raised to hold modesty as a virtue and are very uncomfortable with that idea. We won’t let that happen. When sis goes anywhere, it immediately looks as if the suitcases exploded. We’re quite a bit more contained than that. My sister and her husband swear like sailors. They reign it in a bit for us, but there are words they don’t consider swearing which we do. This park is also only an hour drive for my sister while it is five or six hours for us.

After this latest new item, I’m inclined to just let them have their trip together and not get in the way. It’s not as if we’re looking forward to it anyway. I was only going to go along with it because it seemed to be something that was important to Mom.

My DH patiently lets me get it all out to him. I don’t have the guts to have it out with Mom. If the kids ever catch on and get hurt by all this, I’ll have to.

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