The “Honey, I’ve Been There” Smile

To moms of younger children:

I have five kids, preteen and up, and I have watched many kids over the years. A screaming kid in the grocery store doesn’t phase me one bit. I’ve been there… more than once. When I go by, you might see me give you a small smile and a nod. If you notice, I’m ignoring the kid, they don’t need my attention at the moment. I’m doing this toward you. Why? Because I want you to know that I’ve been there. I’m not pitying you with that smile, I’m sending my support and encouragement. I’m saying, “I totally understand what you’re going through. You’ve got this.” I saw that smile when mine were little. At first, I was embarrassed. I thought they were laughing at me or pitying me, but then I came to realize… this is a part of motherhood and those are other moms connecting with me. It’s a small way of letting another mom know that we understand and we aren’t judging her on how her child is acting. We know that all children have times of meltdowns. They could be tired or hungry or just having an off day.

So, the next time you are having one of those shopping experiences and a woman walks by and gives you a smile and a nod. Remember… we’ve been there and we know you’ve got this!!

Guinea Pigs

I don’t know what I’ve written about these little creatures here. I’ve kind of forgotten.

Christine got a pretty little tri-colored female guinea pig for her birthday. She named her Cream. A few months later, we heard about someone who needed to get rid of their guinea pig because the mother was allergic to it and the girl was too young to really take care of it properly. James had been helping take care of the different pets we already had here in the hope that he could have a pet of his own, so we said we’d take the guinea pig for him. We didn’t tell him about it, so when our friend brought the animal into our house, it was a surprise. His is a cinnamon colored female whom the girl who previously owned her called Chocolate. He decided to keep the name.

So, we now have Cream and Chocolate. We get them out of the cages and let them run around the living room. They are social and like to talk to us in these squeaks that sound so enthusiastic. It makes me smile. One of the things I find really funny is that Charlie, my big kitty cat, is afraid of them. Cream will run around the living room chasing Charlie. It is quite hilarious. Chocolate is older and less active, so when she’s out, she slowly walks around.

I think guinea pigs are good pets. Both James and Christine take care of them and I have never had to feed, water, or take care of the cages. Jeremy had to make sure Cream was fed once when the rest of us were gone, but otherwise, the two owners have been very good at caring for their pets. They get them out for exercise, they cuddle them (the guinea pigs both like being cuddled), and they talk to them.

I’m proud of my children for the responsibilities they’ve taken with these pets.

New Nephew!

My sister, Jill, finally had her baby! On Sunday night, as Jeremy and I were finishing up Youth Group, I got a phone call. “I’m at the hospital, walking around. They’ll tell me in an hour if I’m going to stay.” I knew the next phone call would be telling me she was staying. I got home, packed my bag, and waited for the next phone call. It actually came an hour and a half later. “We’re going to have a baby!” AND I was off… driving 5 hours down to St Louis.

I was glad to have a good speaker phone on my cell. I talked a lot on my way down. I called different friends who I knew would be up late and talked and talked. Plus, Jill and Rob would call and give me updates. At 1am, I was still an hour away from the hospital, but I got the phone call… “It’s a boy!”

I got to the hospital at 2am and met the proud Daddy at the nursery window. Baby I was laying right there. He was so little… 6lb, 10oz. Wow! I stayed out there and talked to Rob a while, letting Jill have some rest. After a bit, we went into the room and I gave her a hug. They brought baby in and he ate and then Auntie Julie enjoyed some early morning cuddles.

I left the hospital around 5am on Monday morning, grabbed some food, and went to the house. I got about an hour of sleep before the other kids woke me up. T, N, and B were all surprised to see me there. B wasn’t sure what to think… Mommy and Daddy were gone and Auntie Julie was there. He was a bit hesitant around me, but after breakfast, he was okay. Rob’s mom was there and after I made sure the kids had food, she let me get a few more hours of sleep. After I woke up, I took the kids to the hospital to meet their new brother. It was very cute watching them. After we left the hospital, we had lunch and then I kind of supervised the kids from the couch while they played. I was pretty exhausted. Rob came home and helped me get dinner and put the kids to bed and I went to bed fairly early that night myself.

The next day, Tuesday, I got the kids up, they ate, got dressed, and we took off for the St Louis zoo. We spent most of the day there. It was a lot of fun. We got home about two hours before Rob, Jill, and baby arrived home. The kids were so excited that their baby brother was coming home that they played out in the front yard the whole two hours, waiting for them.

On Wednesday, I took care of the the kids and let Jill rest as much as I could. The kids kept wanting to see Mommy or help with the baby. I don’t blame them. Baby had a Dr’s appointment around B’s naptime and the girls wanted to stay with their new brother, so Jill took them with her while B and I tried to nap. “Tried” is the word… B did NOT nap. He sang and sang and then talked and talked and then started crying. I got him out and read him books for a bit.

That evening, after Rob got home to help, I left and met my best friend, Michelle. We had dinner and then drove around just talking and talking. We had a Starbucks stop and sat outside talking until they started turning off the lights. We finally went our own ways a little before midnight. I headed back to Jill’s house and got a bit of sleep before the baby woke me up crying. I’d told her I would help out so she could sleep. She nursed him and then I kept him inbetween feedings. I got some sleep in there too.

On Thursday morning, when Jill took the baby for his early morning feeding, I got my bags repacked up and left… driving home. Jeremy had a meeting he had to be at for work in the early afternoon, so I needed to get home so he could go in. My kids were lovely and let me have a nice nap after I got home and then we talked about their cousins, especially the new one. Now we need to figure out a time to bring them all down to meet him.

BTW, James is a very happy boy since there is another boy in the family. LoL

Other Birthdays

AnnaBeth turned 8 earlier this month. She got a nerf gun and we had a battle here at the house. It was a lot of fun.

Christine will be 10 tomorrow. She wants to get her ears pierced, so I guess I’ll be taking her to get that done. She wants fajitas for her dinner. I haven’t heard about what she wants for dessert yet. I need to know so I can buy what is needed for it.

Still waiting to see when my new niece or nephew will be born.

Injury Updates

My wrist is doing fairly well. I finished PT and had almost all of my mobility back. I think it is all back now, but my wrist still has times where it hurts. I was told this would be normal. Most of the time, it is at the end of the day.

Chris’ scar on her forehead is fading. It will always be there, but it is finally starting to lose the pink color.

We have a new injury. AnnaBeth has broken her collar bone… again. All of the kids were outside playing about two weeks ago (the Saturday after we got back) and she fell off of the slide of our playset. Thankfully, the ER was fairly empty and we were in and out within an hour. This is the third time she’s broken a collar bone. She broke her left one when she was almost 2 years old, falling out of bed the first week she was out of a crib. Then when she was 4 and a half, she fell down the stairs at my sister’s house and broke her right one. This time, it’s her left one again. She remembers when she fell down the stairs and was telling the dr and nurses about it and saying that she knows what to do with a broken collar bone. This one is a bit worse than the others. They were both clean breaks, but this one is broken and at an angle. When I saw the x-rays, I cringed. It looks like it would hurt pretty bad. She’s tough and has been fine most days. She isn’t too happy about the fact that she won’t be allowed to start dance until October though.

So, that’s our injury update. My next Dr appointment is Sept 7th and AnnaBeth’s is on the 8th (on her birthday. We’ll probably be celebrating it on the Saturday before since it’s on a Wednesday and Kids Club will be happening at church.) Then on the 9th, I’m heading out to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to spend time with some friends and do some photography.

Dance Recital

It’s been a week since the dance recitals for the studio we were with this last year.

James was in the first show. He did very well in both of his dances. He took Jazz Stage Techniques and Musical Theater. For the first class, they danced to the Glee version of Imagine. For the latter class, they did a dance from Mary Poppins. This was his first year of dance. I was very proud of how well he did.

The rest of us were in the second show. AnnaBeth took Ballet I this year. They did a instrumental version of Beauty and the Beast. It was beautiful. Noelle took a combination class… Ballet/Tap/Tumbling. For the recital, they did a tap number to You’ve Got a Friend in Me. They worked hard on it, especially on the part where they had to thread in and out of the arms. That was very difficult and all of us mothers were so proud of how well they did (as you can hear in the vid.) As for me, well… I took an adult tap class this year. Most of you know how much I have enjoyed this class. I haven’t performed on stage in 15 years or so and I was totally nervous and excited. I never remember the name to the song we danced to, but if you want to see it… it’s there too.

Now, to let you all know… I had to take these vids during the dress rehearsal, so they aren’t from the actual recitals. AnnaBeth and Noelle actually did better in the actual recital. I think they were slightly distracted by having me right there videoing them during the dress rehearsal.

So, that was from this year’s recital. We are switching studios for this next year. One of the youth from our church goes to a Christian dance studio and she introduced me to it. Jeremy and I went to their dance recital last night to check it out. We loved it! It had two acts. The first act had the hip hop, jazz, tap, and some of the ballet dances. The second act was Peter Pan danced out by the ballet classes. Our friend was Wendy. It was totally adorable. I think my children will really enjoy it.

Well, It’s Not An Insect Allergy

But it is related to an insect. It’s Lyme Disease. We caught it in the early stages, so she should be fine. The only symptoms she’s had were the spots, fatigue, and headaches. The spots that I took pictures of and are on Flickr have been given new captions and tags. Maybe they will help someone else who has Lyme Disease in the early stages to know what they have and get treatment quickly. She has a third spot that was found yesterday on her right thigh. She’s taken naps everyday for the last week and a half and she’s had headaches two days this last weekend. She had an EKG done to check her heart and it is doing fine. She also had a blood test done to check the levels of the bacteria. She was really mad at me about the blood test, but I had warned her before we went in that she might get a shot or something. I got her some mini chocolate chip cookies afterwards and everything was okay.

The one thing that made her really happy though was that she could stop taking the yucky steroid medicine that the urgent care center had prescribed for us and is now on some yummy tasting antibiotics.

I’m keeping a log of her symptoms or anything out of character for her to give the dr an idea of how the medicine is working and to let her know if anything more pops us that we might need to check out.

Prayers for her during this are appreciated. I’m just frazzled with everything that’s been going on.

Made Follow-Up Appointment

I’m taking AnnaBeth to the dr tomorrow afternoon. I was referred to a male dr, but they gave me the option of any of the pediatricians. Since she is kind of modest and one of the bites is on her chest, I asked for a female dr. She was horrified on Friday night when she thought she was going to have to show her chest to a male and later relieved when she found out that she was able to have a female tech, nurse, and dr there.

I’ll update you all on how it goes.

Oh, and James is doing better. This was a bit of a longer period of sickness than he’s had before and he wasn’t up to do anything for a few days. Yesterday, he stayed home from church with Jeremy. Today, other than a bit of stuffiness and still not too active, he is doing well. He even went outside for a little bit this morning.

Our Crazy Vacation

Well, we moved into our new house on June 7, Sat and continued until the next Mon, with a quick trip on Tues when I realized we had forgot to get everything out of one closet. We’ve had our vacation scheduled for months. We had paid for most of it already. It started on that Tuesday, after we got done moving and getting a little organized. We left at 3:30 pm. We stopped at a rest area for supper. I’d made tuna salad for sandwiches and put it into our cooler. We traveled through the night, Jeremy and I switching our driving and resting. At 3:00 am, we were both really tired, so we pulled into a rest area and slept for a bit, but I didn’t sleep long. I was okay after an hour and continued on our way. We only had a little more time on the interstate before getting off and using the rural highways to get to Lake George, NY. We were using directions from Google maps, but I missed a turn somewhere. We were going in the right direction, so I didn’t mind. After a while, we came to the highway our motel was on, so we just turned on it. I love those rural highways. The scenery is so spectacular.

We stopped in Corinth, NY for a breakfast of some donuts I’d brought along. We ended up in Lake George around 9:30 am. Check-in time wasn’t until 3 pm, so we drove around just a little and then stopped at a drug store for the sunscreen and camera batteries that I had forgotten to buy beforehand. (Sorry, but there are no pictures from Lake George as I took them with my film camera so I could get better pics. I’ll share them when I get them developed.) It was still only 11 am and we were all worn out, so we headed over to the motel to see if we could check in early. Yay! It’s the off season and they only had a few rooms being used, so they had our room ready for us. We brought in our stuff and then we all took naps. After 2 hours, we (except Jeremy) all woke up and had peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch. The kids changed into their swimsuits and we went down to the motel’s beach. Amie, James, and Christine had a lot of fun wading and swimming around in the water. It doesn’t get deep very fast, so they were able to go out fairly far and still able to stand with it only halfway up their chests. AnnaBeth got in up to her waist and Noelle only got her feet wet. I sat on the boat dock that went around the swimming area and dangled my feet in the water. It was too cold for me. We just rested there by the lake for the rest of the day. Jeremy woke up about an hour after us and joined us out there. He went up to the local grocery store and got us some stuff to grill for dinner.

At dinner time, Amie was itching the back of her head and pulled her hand out and there was a little blood on her finger. My first thought was that she had a tick, so I asked her to let me see. She had spots all down her back! Then I checked James and Christine. They had them as well. Since I don’t bathe, clothe, or do Amie’s hair any more, I had no idea how long she’d had them. I could tell that hers was the earliest as she had many more. We thought it was chicken pox at first, but after a bit I decided it didn’t really look like those. We had to decide what we were going to do after we checked out on Friday. We had planned on going to a family reunion in New Hampshire, but there was a little baby there with health problems, so we couldn’t do that now. The spots didn’t seem to be affecting the kids too much except for a little less appetite, so we decided to stay at the motel until Friday as planned, than my Grandpa offered to let us stay at his house in Massachusetts during the time of the family reunion even though he’d be up in NH with the family.

On Thursday, we had some biscuits for breakfast and then we took a walk. AnnaBeth started not feeling well then and running a small fever, so Jeremy took her back to the motel. The other kids and I went down to the park and boardwalk, then after playing and taking pictures, we headed back. Afterwards, the kids wanted to swim in the pool, so Jeremy got his swimsuit on and we all headed over to the pool. Noelle and AnnaBeth just played on the stairs. I sat on the edge with my feet on the top step, playing with them a bit. Then they decided later to play on the playset, so I watched them while Jeremy stayed at the pool with the three older kids. We didn’t really want to have to make that extra long trip back so quickly as well as ruin Christine’s summer plans (explained later) so we went to Grandpa’s house on Friday. We went on rural highways and roads through Vermont using directions from Google. It was so great. I loved seeing some of those old New England houses and churches. The directions took us the “scenic route” on a long dirt road for the last 7 miles before we hit the interstate close to the Vermont/Mass border. Not long after getting into Massachusetts we stopped for a lunch of meat and cheese sandwiches (our little cooler did a lot of duty during this vacation, but it sure saved us a bunch of money).

We got to Grandpa’s house about 3 pm and unpacked our things. The kids went outside to play and run around. They had a lot of fun. That’s about all we did during the time we were there. I went out and checked out what of the herbs from my Grandma’s garden might have come out this year since she wasn’t there to plant it. I found some mint and dill. It really hit me that she was gone and I wouldn’t see her anymore while I was there. I spent most of the time going through some stuff that Grandpa had for any of his children/grandchildren to pick stuff of hers for us. I picked out some clothes I really liked and one of her aprons. We have two aprons from Grandma Anna (Jeremy’s grandma), so I wanted one of my own Grandma’s as well. My girls like wearing them for dress-up or when we’re making something that they might get messy with. I also got some of her cookbooks that Mom picked out for me.

On Sunday, Grandpa, my aunt Becca, Mom, Jill (my sister), and my nieces came down from the reunion. My kids were so happy to see their cousins. My mom and sister couldn’t stay for long, only for lunch and to pack up Christine’s stuff. My mom was taking her on down to NC with her. (Amie went two years ago and James went last year.) Christine’s been talking about her turn for a year. My dad’s work goes to Hilton Head every year for a conference and spouses, children, and grandchildren are invited to come enjoy themselves, so Christine is so excited to get to go this year. My other two enjoyed their special time and I know Christine will as well. Anyway, back to Sunday. After lunch, we tried to get a picture of all 7 cousins, but it was hard. Then they took off.

The rest of us (Jeremy and I with the four other kids and my Aunt Becca) stayed that night before leaving. My kids really enjoyed getting to know Aunt Becca, I think. She teld funny stories and read books to them. Noelle kept calling her Grandma. She said that there needed to be a Grandma since there was a Grandpa. Aunt Becca didn’t mind. On Monday, we took our time getting everything packed up. I think we accidentally left a sleeping bag, but it was getting all torn up, so we probably would have thrown it away anyway. We drove a little more than halfway before stopping just west of Cleveland, Ohio and getting a hotel for the night and then we finished the drive home this last Tuesday. I’ve been busy with the house and catching up and all since then.

The pictures of the new house, some of the vacation, and some random kid pictures are up on my flickr.