Monday, 19 November 2012

Combating the Drearies

After returning to standard time, I'm finding myself feeling rather dreary. It happens every year and tends to carry on for a couple of months. Given my history of depression, I wouldn't at all be surprised if I have some form of seasonal affective disorder. I say this not as an excuse, but to recongnize it as something to overcome.

In the spirit of overcoming my dreariness and the berating voice in my head, I'm taking note of all that I have accomplished so far today.
  • I got out of bed on time and had a bath. 
  • The girls made it to the bus stop with time to spare, full bellies and looking decent. 
  • I took the clean clothes upstairs and set them on their owner's respective beds to be put away.
  • I changed the crib sheets.
  • Little Guy had a bath. (That's never fun because he hates being wet.) 
  • I snuggled with Little Guy after his bath. 
  • I cleaned the bathtub.
  • Little Guy and I went outside for a walk and stayed out for half an hour. 
  • We had lunch. 
  • I've cut the paper for a card order that's to be delivered on Wednesday. 
  • I vacuumed downstairs. 
  • I've changed the cat box.
I have an hour and a half until the girls get off the school bus and Little Guy is still sleeping. I plan too:
  • Wash the dishes.
  • Cut vegetables.
  • Put away all the food stuff I bought at the bulk store yesterday.
  • Cut up and freeze the half pork loin in the fridge.
  • Start dinner.
(later)

So, the kids are all tucked into bed. I did manage to complete my list. I still have to clean up from dinner and work on the card order, but there is no other clean up because I did it all earlier before I vacuumed.

Want to know what I've realized? The more I manage to get done, the more I want to get done.

It's often a struggle to work up the gumption to do anything. It's so much easier to doze on the couch or sit at the computer looking at pinterest. But when I start doing something that makes a noticeable difference, like clearing a flat surface and putting all the junk away, it makes me want to do more. Over the past two months I've really been working at improving the way our house looks - getting rid of all the stuff we never use that just takes up space and setting routines that have me doing chores like dusting, sweeping and vacuuming every week rather than waiting until it looks horrendous. I do a load of laundry every day so it doesn't pile up on my and the kids aren't asking for clothes.


Hallway Shelves


I've also been making good use of the newly found space that is staying clean. I put up some shelves in a hallway that usually becomes an overflow of clutter. This accomplished a couple of things: the items I needed near the kitchen but didn't have room (or was forever moving around in the kitchen because I needed that space) now have a home off the floor. The floor stays clear because the shelves are there. The shelves are organized by dollar store baskets and containers so it's less tempting to stuff as much as I can on a shelf. We now have a school work basket. There is a pencil box with pencils, crayons, colored pencils and a sharpener in it. All homework and papers that need to be signed go in the box right after school. This has helped tremendously! No more asking me where their homework is, can I have a pencil, will you sharpen this, etc.. Our fresh fruit basket no longer has to sit on the kitchen table in the way; it has a spot on a shelf. Same for the bread, cookies and granola bars. Having all of those things off my kitchen table makes meal time easier and helps me keep the kitchen table neat.

Clean Floor

A couple of weeks ago I went through the kids' rooms and basically overhauled them. Little Guy's room had become a storage place because all he does is sleep in there. The girls had become so overwhelmed by all the stuff in their room that they couldn't find a starting place to clean or organize their room. The dresser and a shelf still need to be dealt with, but they now have a clear floor to play on and shelves for their toys. They spend a lot more time now playing in their room. It's so much nicer that having them wander around downstairs saying, "I'm bored; what can I do?"

 
Toy Shelves

When the drearies hit, I'm hoping that I'll have enough sense to look around my house and see the progress I've made by doing a little each day, and that I'll get off my backside and get to work. And the days where that's not quite enough to get me going? I'll list the things I have accomplished, however small they may seem. You see, I finally realize it's those little things that make the biggest difference in our family's lives.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Time Flies

This year is just flying by. I can't believe we're nearly half way through November already. It seems like just yesterday Kiddlet was in kindergarten and Little Guy was brand new. Now Strong-Willed One is 9 years old, Kiddlet is in 2nd grade and Little Guy is 2.

Summer flew by this year; it was a busy one for us. The girls were in day camp at our church for all of July and they did 3 different vacation bible schools in August. They loved every minute of it. I also ventured into the world of home canning this year. I started with nectarines. Then it was peaches. Oh, the peaches! I had bought a bushel of peaches to can and learned that the girls both love fresh peaches. They were eating 5 and 6 peaches a day, each. I happen to live around the corner from a wonderful Mennonite market where I was able to get a half bushel of peaches for about $12 while they were in season. I must have bought 3 or 4 bushels of peaches. I canned 12L of peaches and then started making peach butter. I made a lot of peach butter, mostly because the peaches would ripen so quickly they were good for little else. Turns out, I love peach butter. It is so much nicer than jam and contains considerably less sugar than jam.

After peaches were no longer in season, I went to a farmer's market with one of my sisters-in-law and picked up a bushel of tomatoes, half a bushel of assorted peppers and a few other things. I made tomato sauce and more salsa than I thought we would eat in a year. (Turns out, Strong-Willed One loves the salsa and we've already gone through half of it.) The tomato sauce tastes so rich; I never knew it could be so good! I contemplated buying more tomatoes and making enough sauce to carry us through winter, but realised that my family needed me more than we needed homemade tomato sauce, so I let that idea pass. Although, I also did applesauce last month.  I definitely want to do a bigger garden next year and more canning.

Strong-Willed One and Kiddlet were very happy to go back to school and see all their friends again. They both like their teachers and are doing well. Little Guy spent the first week or two the girls were back in school wandering around looking for them. Boy did he miss them at first! He's adjusted well, but still is very excited when the school bus stops in front of the house and lets them off.

Husband is still travelling for work, although he did work locally for most of October. We really enjoyed that. Now that I am done canning for the year, I'm working on de-cluttering and organising the house. The more I manage to do, the more I want to get done. There is something so satisfying in watching unused items leave the house and seeing clear spaces where there was nothing but piles before.

I'll leave you with a few images of the kids. The first is a video of Little Guy playing with one of his birthday presents.

video

Little Guy doing "what's going on" and getting rice all over his head.

Here are 2 pictures from Halloween. Kiddlet was a koala bear and we didn't know what to call Strong-Willed One. Little Guy was a monkey, but he refused to wear the hood that has the face on it.



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Nectarines & Peaches

What have I been up to the last few days? Canning. And canning. And tonight and tomorrow, more canning. Lookie.



15-500ml jars of nectarines and 12-1L jars of peaches. And I still have peaches left from the one bushel I bought.





Tonight I'm going to peel, cut and cook the peaches, puree and stick them in the crockpot over night. Tomorrow I will can the peach butter.

Don't have time to go into details, but wanted to get this out there. I'm pretty excited. This is the first time I have canned, other than cutting fruit for my sisters-in-law when they canned.

Hopefully I'll have a chance to blog more later this week and post some pics of the kids and their summer fun.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

18 Month Check-Up and Other Things

Little Guy had his 18 month check up today. I know, it's a little late, but when it was originally scheduled our tires were too bad to make the long drive, i forgot to reschedule, then he got sick, so here we are at 21 months old having his 18 month check up. Little Guy weighed in at 25lbs 7oz and is now 31 inches long. This was a nice jump in his growth. So much of a jump in his growth that the doctor wasn't at all concerned that he's not that interested in eating. She told me to continue feeding him as I have been, but not to try forcing him to eat because the power struggle wouldn't be worth it; just keep offering him healthy food and he'll eat when he's ready.


Did I ever mention that I was planning on putting in a garden this year? Thanks to Husband's very hard work, we turned a section of our back yard into a decent sized garden. Unfortunately, the spinach didn't come up (older seeds) and I think the birds got most of our carrot seeds.


We have 12 tomato plants, 8 pepper plants, 6 broccoli, 9 cauliflower, a cucumber plant, a zucchini plant, a row of beets, a row of swiss chard, 3 boston lettuce, 4 head lettuce, 4 kohlrabi, a scattering of carrots and a few onions. I love how pretty the boston lettuce looks; I haven't been able to bring myself to use it yet.


Husband has acquired a new hobby.


I'm a little disturbed by it, but Little Guy loves having his nails painted and shows them off for days. It started because the girls were painting their nails and Little Guy wanted his done.


The second time, Little Guy had found a bottle of nail polish, brought it over to Husband and essentially asked to have his nails painted. I've decided that I'm going to chalk it up to Little Guy having older sisters whom he admires and wants to be like. He'll figure it out one day.

We are down to our final week and a half of school. I was really concerned about how this summer was going to go. The girls get bored so quickly and they are no longer allowed to play with half the kids in the neighborhood (bad attitudes). My outlook for a peaceful summer was pretty bleak. However, things are looking up. The girls are now enrolled in summer day camp at our church for the month of July. Even better than that, the girls are thrilled about it. August is also looking pretty good for daytime activities.

Strong-Willed One showing off her yo-yo skills.

And finally, Strong-Willed One and Kiddlet each earned themself a yo-yo. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Malfunctioning Video or Maybe Not

It's been brought to my attention that the video I posted of the girls' opening one of their Christmas presents doesn't play. I would like to remedy that because it really is pretty funny.

Ok, well I can't find that one right now, so instead I'm going to show you something else. This is from my cousin's wedding. Both of my girls were flower girls. This is from October of 2007. Strong-Willed One turned 4 years old two days later and Kiddlet was 2 1/2 years old. We were waiting for things to start.

video

And this one is my cousin and Strong-Willed One.

video

I can't believe how many things have slipped my mind from when they were younger. I'm so thankful for photographs and video clips to remind me of these things.

And just for kicks, here is a clip of Husband putting cream cheese my sister's dog's nose.

video



Life Gets in the Way

Have you ever noticed how life gets in the way of your plans and good intentions? That's how the past few months have gone. I planned on blogging at least once a week, I was going to start making cards and scrapbooking again, get into a workable routine for housework, and a myriad of other things. Instead, the busyness of life totally took over. All those things I just mentioned that I had planned or intended? Not one has happened yet. I have been taking lots of pictures of the kids to scrapbook and I've had ideas for card designs. As for the housework - my current routine includes dealing with the dirty laundry pile when it has become so large that I can no longer push it out of the way with my foot, the bathroom sink gets cleaned when Husband or I cut our hair, and I vacuum when I notice Little Guy sitting every few steps in order to pull something off of his foot. Lest you think that my family is living in a hazardous environment, let me assure you that I am compulsive about having a clean kitchen and things aren't always as bad I as I just outlined. I am happy to open my door to anyone who drops in and rarely apologize for the state of my house. I think of my house as lived in and happy. I have come to the point where I have chosen time with my kids and short periods of rest over housework and I'm okay with it. My kids are happier because I spend time with them rather than cleaning and my physical and mental health are much better since I'm not unreasonably pushing myself to meet the perfectionistic standards I had had in my head.

Anyway, now that I'm done with that tangent (I had no idea that was waiting to be said), would you like to see some pictures? I have a bunch. Let's start with pictures from the park.

Little Guy peeking through the bench.

Strong-Willed One pushing the merry-go-round.

Little Guy

Don't you love the tongue?
This next picture is typical Kiddlet when she's being silly.


These are of the tired boy.
Fell asleep with a breadstick in his mouth.

   
Too tired to finish lunch.




This last picture is Strong-Willed One and Little Guy looking at a video on Husband's phone. Seeing the two of them sitting still together and not screaming is unusual.


That's it for now. Little Guy is hitting my leg telling me it's time to play, so I better go. More next time!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Great Disservice

For years, I've done my husband the disservice of not sharing the entirety of my worries and fears with him. I figured, he's on the road, there's nothing he can do about it and I didn't want to do or say anything that would make him feel guilty about being away from home. Husband doesn't choose to travel for work because he prefers to be away, he does it to provide for us. I've always strived to be a supportive and encouraging wife, to make our home a haven for him. I was afraid that if I told him how much I struggle when he's gone, let him see how negatively his absence affects me, he would feel even worse about being on the road, that he would begin to dread coming home to this needy wife. What a fool I was! I'm learning that I've underestimated my husband, his love for me, his insight into me, and his ability to handle my fears and insecurities.

After being on the road and only home on weekends for nearly 3 years, Husband worked locally, coming home every night, for nearly 4 months. It was a wonderful 4 months. He's been back on the road for 4 weeks now. Now that Husband is gone again, I realize how much his being home has done for our family. I'm recognizing that all the time we spent apart had caused a distance between Husband and I. While he was home that distance was overcome. We got to know each other again, our lives again became one. As we grew closer our communication improved greatly.

This week my fears emerged. I'm terrified that the distance between us will come back. I've already begun to feel that he has a life completely separate from me. Yesterday at Bible Study, I admitted to the group that I was struggling. Right then and there they surrounded me and prayed for me. I'm fairly certain that this is the first time I've admitted my fears to anyone when they first emerge; in the past, I've kept quiet until I've reached the point where I'm barely coping. After Bible Study, I spent the day reflecting on what I was feeling, why I felt that way and determining if it was a rational fear or an irrational fear.  When I talked with Husband last night, I admitted it all. That I was afraid we were going to grow apart again, that I miss our daily interactions, the opportunity to take 2 minutes to scratch his head simply because I needed to touch him. I told him that I wasn't sure how to deal with these fears, that I'd felt them the last time he was on the road and never said anything because I didn't want to make him feel badly about being away. I also explained that I have no doubt about our commitment or loyalty to each other, that I trust him completely. We had rebuilt so much when he was home, our communication had grown so open and that the last thing I want to do is to close off from him again.

My husband is an incredible man. His response? We'll make sure to keep more in touch throughout the day. He told me to always spit it out when I was struggling or afraid; he would much rather know than to wonder why I'm so quiet and not know what I need. When I reach a point where I need him home for a week to regain my steadiness, he'll find a way to make it happen. Husband said absolutely nothing that made me feel like a foolish emotional female. Instead, his response was validating. I now know that the distance that developed in the past, I bear a great deal of responsibility for. In trying to be supportive and protecting him, I built up a wall between us. This whole time he's been waiting for me to let him in, waiting patiently and giving me space to come to him on my terms.

I am so blessed to have Husband as my husband. He gets me like no one else does. He loves me completely, accepts me unconditionally. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Healthy Eating

I hadn't intended my next post to be about food, but I just have to talk about these muffins.


See, I'm on a quest to feed my family more nutritious food. These muffins contain pureed carrot and pureed avocado. There is a richness to them that I wasn't expecting. They are moist, tender, and oh so very, very, good. And the fact that they contain carrot and avocado pleases me. Even picky Strong-Willed One loves these muffins. Basically, I took the Double Chocolate Muffin recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and modified it.  Here's the modified recipe:

          Chocolate Muffins

          1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
          1/2 cup granulated sugar
          1/3 cup packed brown sugar
          1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
          2 tsp baking powder
          1/4 tsp baking soda
          just under 1/2 tsp salt
          1/2 cup pureed carrots
          1/2 pureed avocado
          1/2 cup vegetable oil
          1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 12 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, combine purees, oil and egg. Add wet mixture all at once to the flour mixture; stir just until moistened.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes; serve warm.

Next time I make these muffins, I'm going to substitute whole wheat flour for half of the all purpose and use applesauce in place of the oil. I don't like to make too many changes to a recipe the first time; it can be hard to know what went wrong.

from allrecipes.com
I also made a Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Cake for dessert tonight. This is the first time I've made this cake, but I had it at Bible Study last week and couldn't believe that it's main ingredient was chick peas! We'll see tonight if mine turned out as well as my sister-in-law's did.

Since we're on the topic of food, let me show you what I've been eating for lunch/dinner the last few weeks.
Drinking green smoothies has really changed what I want to eat. I crave vegetables and don't really want the rice, potatoes or noodles that are usually a part of our dinners. A nice big salad made with romaine lettuce, green and orange peppers, cucumber, avocado, shredded carrots, shredded beet, grape tomatoes and diced chicken. The meat changes, based on what I've cooked for dinner and have left over.


On a completely different note, Little Guy got all excited when I pulled out the camera to take pictures of the food. So, of course, I took some pictures of him!


He's such a ham!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Videos

I said in my last post that I was going to get some video clips posted. It's taken me longer than I thought to get around to it, but here they are.

Little Guy loves bubbles.
video 
 
video

Little Guy being entertained while at a restaurant.
video

This one is from Christmas. We'd given the girls mp3 players. What's so funny is that they were all excited before they even realized what they'd opened.

That's all I've got for now!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Picture Time!

It's been awhile since I've posted much about the kids and I know there are some people out there who would love to see some pictures.

We'll start with the day Little Guy found the bag of apples on the kitchen floor. He knew exactly what is was and what to do with it!



And last week when he found a cassette tape. It was pretty funny watching him, but it was my favorite Glad tape. Very sad about that.



This is Kiddlet and Little Guy this afternoon. The green on Kiddlet's face is from the green smoothie she'd just had; she tends to lick the cup clean.


These next few pictures are from this past Saturday when we went out for dinner. This is something we rarely do and the kids did great! (Sorry for the blurry picture; I was using my phone.)

Little Guy eating his ice cream sandwich.

Typical Kiddlet pose.

   
Typical Strong-Willed One.
That's all for tonight. I'll try to post some video clips tomorrow!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Green Smoothies

Last month I had the opportunity to visit a new library for about an hour. I love libraries and the opportunity to explore new books. This time I stumbled across the book Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko. I've done a version of green smoothies a few years ago, mostly with spinach, yogurt, orange juice and frozen fruit, but it wasn't something that lasted. Buying the baby spinach was expensive (I hadn't found fully grown spinach at my grocery store), only Kiddlet and I drank them, and I didn't like them that much. But after reading this book, I thought I'd give them another try.



My first green smoothie was 3 weeks ago. The smoothie was made with kale, orange juice, bananas, and strawberries. It was good; I had it for lunch. Half way through the smoothie, it felt like I'd just been given an infusion of energy. I felt so good that afternoon! And for the first time in ages, I wasn't hungry at 3:00; I didn't feel hungry until 5:30. When I went grocery shopping 2 days later, I bought a bunch of greens and a large bag of frozen fruit. Now, I haven't managed to have a green smoothie every day, but most days I do. I make them with greens (kale, rapini or spinach) orange juice, bananas, an avocado and frozen fruit.

The whole thing has been really interesting. If I have a green smoothie for breakfast, I find a want a salad for lunch, apples or celery to snack on and I don't mind not having something sweet along with my coffee. When I do get hungry, it feels different than if I haven't had a green smoothie. It's what I call a clean hunger. My stomach rumbles and I'm definitely hungry, but it's not painful or accompanied by a blood sugar drop. When I skip having a green smoothie for a day, my energy levels sag, I have a low grade headache, I'm hungry more often and being hungry hurts! On the skipped days, I find myself reaching for processed foods and sweets to have with my coffee. If I miss two days in a row, watch out! I'm tired all day long, have a headache that won't go away, I'm irritable and my emotions are all over the place. I'm also finding that I only want a green smoothie for breakfast. The thought of any other kind of food makes my stomach churn.

I'm starting to wonder more about a raw food diet. Not enough at this point to consider trying it, but I think I want to look into it. I wonder if it would make a difference in my health or my kids' behavior. I know people who have made lifestyle changes in relation to how they eat and it's made a big difference for them. We'll see.

One thing if for sure, though. If I buy anymore produce them I am right now, I need a second refrigerator.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Dare I Hope Winter is Over?

My front door is open again!

I love when spring hits. The green of the grass and new plants, leaf buds on trees, the smell of fresh air. We had a stretch of incredibly warm days, I'm talking near summer temperatures, then reality set in and it got cold again. Today is a beautiful spring day. It's windy and you still need a coat, but I can open the front door and enjoy the extra sunshine without the heat kicking on. Sunlight lifts my spirits.

A quick update on Strong-Willed One. She did have an ear infection, but that has been treated and she's no longer in pain. The nit battle, however, is not going well. Between Thursday and Sunday I spent about 9 hours (no joke) picking nits out of her hair. She comes home from school Monday with a note from the teacher making sure I know that you have to literally pull the nits off the hair. I take a look at Strong-Willed One's head and it's loaded with nits, more than I've ever seen on her head. Obviously we are missing something. So, I'm going back to the original method we used in February. We had those nits gone in under 2 weeks. The good thing in all of this nit-battling is that Strong-Willed One is still the only one who has them. Thank goodness.

Last month I talked about how I was cooking out of our pantry and freezer and trying desperately to keep our grocery costs down. By the time March arrived, our pantry and freezer were pretty much empty, so we've been unable to sustain the very low grocery bills. I'm still making our own bread, bagels, granola bars, pizza crust and baked goods. The things really contributing to our increased costs are meat and produce. I've been trying to limit the amount of junk food the kids consume, so I'm offering healthy snacks instead. They have no problem eating veggies or fruit when they're hungry, but it means I have to buy it. As far as the meat goes, I try to plan our meals around what's on sale, I buy in bulk and freeze it in meal sized portions, I use 1/2 lb of ground beef instead of a full pound whenever I can get away with it. But the days when a single pork chop or piece of chicken is enough for me and the kids is over. And I have to keep reminding myself that the other reason our food costs have gone up is because Husband is actually home all week long now, so I'm feeding 2 adults, not just me with my half portion appetite, but also a man with a construction worker's appetite.

I still haven't tried making my own yogurt. Mostly because I either forget to buy the extra milk or I know I won't have room in the fridge because of all the produce. It's still in the back of my mind though.

We're talking about planting a garden this year. I've done a small one in years past, but the last one was 3 years ago and I only ever grew herbs, lettuce and tomatoes. This year we're talking about planting a garden to truly eat from, one that will feed our family. I'm trying to figure out what to plant and where we would best be served to put the garden. And when I think of all that will hypothetically grow in the garden, my overachieving mind has me looking into canning and imagining full shelves of beautifully canned vegetables. Never mind that I don't have any empty shelves or anywhere to put empty shelves to store canned goods. Nor do I have any canning equipment.

So we are marching on in our frugal endeavors. We will be looking into purchasing a portion of cow or pig with some of our tax refund. And now that the warmer weather is here we will be planning our garden and hanging our laundry out to dry.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Poor Strong-Willed One

It's been quite awhile since I've made a general post; sorry about that. I'm not really sure what happened other than the busyness of life. So let's see if I can catch you up with what's been happening around here.

Kiddlet turned 7 the beginning of this month. We had Husband's parents over to celebrate with us. I let her look through my cookbooks and chose what cake she wanted. Her choice? Ice cream cake. We had a nice celebration and she was thrilled with her gifts.

Kiddlet in Grandma's birthday hat.


Last week the girls were off school for the whole week. I had approached this week with some trepidation because a week home with all the kids and no vehicle can be a very long week. However, the weather was absolutely beautiful and the girls spent a whole lot of time playing outside and that made things much easier for me.

But poor Strong-Willed One. It was not one of her better weeks. Have you ever felt like the universe was out to get you? That's what it sometimes felt like for Strong-Willed One. (Still does, as a matter of fact, but I'll get to that.) She had a good Monday. Tuesday she wakes up with pink eye in one eye; by evening it was apparent in both eyes. Thank goodness for over the counter treatments! Wednesday morning I'm combing her hair, which is something she usually does herself, and I find a bunch of nits. She was so mad! She went on for 5 minutes about how sorry she was that I have to go through all that work again and those stupid stupid bugs shouldn't have come back. She's since lost the anger and now keeps apologizing for all that dealing with nits entails. Anyway, back to the bad week. Wednesday morning it's nits. Wednesday afternoon brings a fever and sore throat. That knocked the steam out of her for the rest of the day. Whatever this virus is, and it's going around, it seems to last for about 9 days. It presents as a bad cold with a low to mid grade fever. Despite the fever, Strong-Willed One still spent most afternoons playing outside and having a good time. But by 6pm, she was done. Completely wiped out, no appetite, no coping skills left. Sunday hits and her fever, which had been averaging 100.5 F, is now 102.7 F. Now, this kid hates taking medicine. I'm talking huge huge drama, hates medicine. But she also knows that when her fever hits 102 F, she has no choice. If it stays below that and she's not in any true discomfort, I'm content to let her ride it out without using a fever reducing medication. But now it's getting serious. I have to admit, she took it pretty willingly; I don't think she had the energy to fuss about. So my poor kid spends what is her last day before school resumes laying on the couch drifting in and out of sleep.

Little Guy and Strong-Willed One watching the school bus.

And that brings us to this week. Strong-Willed One staying home from school on Monday was a given. She spent the day in her pjs, played with Little Guy and finished up some school work we had forgotten about. Yesterday she wakes up feeling fine. She still had a low fever, 99.5 F, but her appetite was back, her energy levels were up. Her fever was gone by lunch time. It looked like this would her last day home from school. Our plan for the day was to go after those nits in earnest. We'd been doing the shampoo and comb outs, but I wanted to really thoroughly go through her hair. In the morning I massaged the oils into her hair and covered it with a bag to incubate (or something like that.) As soon as Little Guy went down for his nap, we washed her hair and began the comb out. This was a much more detailed method than I've ever used previously. There were just so many nits! And you pretty much have to pull them off each strand of hair one at a time. 2 1/2 hours and we'd only managed 1/3 of her hair.  At this point I had to stop because Little Guy was squawking and needed my attention. Twice more we sat down and continued the comb out. After a combined total of just over 3 1/2 hours nit picking, I gave up and sent her to bed. I still have the last third of her hair to do. So, she heads off to bed looking forward to going to school today.

Strong-Willed One and Little Guy watching videos on my phone.

And then she wakes up at 11pm in tears because her ear hurts so much. It hurt enough that she actually took the Motrin without a fight. And she was up again sometime before 5am. (Apparently she couldn't wake me up, so Husband dealt with that one.) So here we are, the morning Strong-Willed One is supposed to return to school, the morning she was so excited about. And her ear hurts so much, and she has a temp of 99.0 F despite the Motrin in her system. She is now sleeping on the couch. I'm planning on taking her in to the ER after hubby gets home. This is getting ridiculous. I hate using the ER for things like this, but there is no way for me to get her to her doctor. The office is an hour away, Husband has the van for work, and even if I drove him in, the tires on the van are so shot that we were told not to use it on the highway. (Our new tires won't be in until Friday; apparently they are a "weird size" according to our mechanic.)

Here's hoping she feels better tomorrow!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Contentment

Contentment is a big deal. I'm finding it in the little things - packing leftovers for Husband's lunch, baking treats for my family, working together with Husband to fix the washing machine. My heart is full.

I love living with my husband; most of the year he's only home on weekends. But for almost 2 months now, he's been working locally and is home every night. Family meals around the table (which we do even when he's gone), listening and watching him interact with the kids, simply having him walk in the door after work and hand me his coffee mug from the morning. I love hearing him tell the kids something I was thinking when we hadn't even discussed it, knowing we're on the same wavelength. There are so many little things that take place in day to day interaction that you don't realize until they reappear after being absent.

Before we married, our relationship was mostly a long-distance one. We'd met at a mission in New York City; our homes were six hours apart. After doing the long-distance thing for a year and a half, some family members expressed concern over how a day-to-day relationship would work for us, a legitimate concern since we were talking marriage. After much prayer, I moved to his home town in the summer of 2000. He arranged an apartment for me and he lived with his parents. Our plan was to keep this arrangement until the following spring when we would get married. The thought was that this would give us an opportunity to see each other on a daily basis, to see how we each were accustomed to living and had the bonus affect of creating a wonderful place for me within his family.

Was the beginning of our relationship meant to prepare us for the past three years of being separated? Does the fact that we had no choice but to trust each other completely from the very beginning help explain why there is no doubt or mistrust now? Aside from my relationship with Christ, the relationship I have with my husband is the most important relationship in my life. I miss him terribly when he's gone. But I think that absence allows me to appreciate his presence so much more than I would if he were home year round. I'm loving that I get to cook meals for him, bake his favorite cookies, make sure that I have an extra tube of his toothpaste on hand. Just washing and drying his pants for work today has filled my heart with contentment; I don't usually get to do that.

I am so blessed to have a husband who loves me and is so devoted to me. I am blessed that I married a man who loves his family and will do whatever he needs to do in order to make sure we are provided for. I am blessed with the opportunity to serve my husband, who loves me despite my shortcomings.

My heart is full.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Gaining Perspective

I'm really tempted to say that this month sucked. It has felt like an uphill climb everyday. I've frequently felt like I've fallen and struggled to get back on my feet only to have them knocked out from under me again.
  • We trimmed our budget to bare minimums. I stopped buying convenience items from the grocery store and began making everything myself.
  • We had 2 weeks with no satellite tv or Netflix, only limited on-line options. Not a big deal for us grown-ups, but the girls sure got tired of watching the same 6 shows. Boredom fuels tempers.
  • We dealt with head lice. (If you missed that, see Labors of Love and Nit Picking.) I'm nearly caught up with the laundry from that; only 2 comforters left to go.
  • Some very serious things happened yesterday that I can't go into. It knocked me down for most of the day and will hurt for awhile.
  • This morning one of my grandparents passed away. It wasn't unexpected, but it still hurts. And I hate that I live so far away that I can't go be with my family right now.
I'm really tempted to say that this month sucked. But, lately I'm finding myself in awe of the way the Lord is using me to care for my family, giving me the strength, patience and endurance to weather all these storms.

I would say this month sucked, but when I look back on some of the other really rough months I've had in my life, I see that I've come out stronger. My faith is strengthened and I may even have gained some wisdom.

To say that this month sucked seems kind of like saying that I've given up. As difficult as this month has been, I know that I've made it through. My family still loves me, all our needs are met, and we're together. With those truths, what do I have to complain about?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Year Ago Today

One year ago today, Little Guy was admitted to the hospital with RSV. (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)



It started as a runny nose that developed into a junky sounding cough. I'd had him into the pediatrician February 11 where he was diagnosed with an ear infection and bronchiolitis, and treated with antibiotics and 2 inhalers. I was instructed on how to tell if he was having trouble breathing and told to get him seen immediately if he seems any worse. I had taken him to our local ER on the 17th and 21st because it seemed like he was struggling to get air. They gave him a breathing treatment and sent us home, with me questioning my ability to determine how sick Little Guy was. (I found out later that our local ER does few infant cases and I would have been better off to take him to the next town over.) I took him back to his pediatrician on the 22nd. The doctor took one look at him and said he needed to be admitted. We were literally walked out of the Dr.'s office and through the tunnels to the hospital. We were put in an ER hallway to wait until a bed was available.



Kiddlet happened to be with me this day; she was in an every other day kindergarten class and this happened to be a day she was home. I had not planned for us to be gone all day and even if I had, we didn't even have a chance to grab anything from the van before we were walked to the hospital.

So there we were, in the ER hallway by the ambulance bay doors for, I'm not kidding, about 8 hours. We didn't have any food with us, any books, games, anything for Kiddlet to do. She did discover the ice/water machine almost directly across from us and occasionally entertained herself getting a drink. One of the nurses took pity on us and brought some blank paper, crayons and a patient breakfast package. We played tic tac toe, drew pictures, ate cherrios and took pictures with my cell phone. Throughout the whole thing, Kiddlet remained in good humor and didn't start to complain until we were well into our sixth hour.


Meanwhile, Husband is on his way home from where ever he was working at the time. I have to say, the company he works for was very good about everything. Husband was working out of town at the time and his supervisor dropped everything to get him home before Strong-Willed One got off the school bus. Since we only have on vehicle, they even brought Husband straight to our house and told him to keep them updated, but not worry about work.

Husband got home in time for the school bus. I was trying to figure out how to get Kiddlet home. Anthony was exclusively nursing and would not take a bottle. A trip home and back to the hospital would cross a feeding, so there was no way I could go. Of all our extended family, everyone was either working or had no vehicle. I think it was around 5pm when I finally reached one of my brother-in-laws. He drove the 30 minutes from their house to the hospital, brought me dinner (best Big Mac of my life), took Kiddlet back to their house for dinner, then made the 1 hour round trip to our house and back.



Little Guy finally got a room sometime after 6pm. Because of his condition, we were put in a room by ourselves and everyone entering had to be gowned and gloved. The nursing staff were great! They made sure I understood everything that they were doing for Little Guy and why and made sure that I was doing okay, too. I think it was about 9pm when he fell asleep again, and I was finally able to leave his side. I made a trip to the drugstore for things like a toothbrush, munchies and a book. And look at what I got to sleep on.


The next day, my best friend called my cell. She told me she was going to my house to stay with Strong-Willed One (who was home from school with a fever) and giving her car to Husband so he could bring me clothes and spend the day with Little Guy and me. She was even prepared to stay overnight if needed. That is one of the greatest gifts that has ever been given to me.



Little Guy had been admitted on a Tuesday and was released on Thursday. I had been given the option to stay another night if I wasn't comfortable taking him home yet, but I felt mostly okay about leaving and I needed to see my girls.

It was another week before he was well enough that he didn't choke when he cried, two before he was back to his normal happy self. This virus had lasting effects. Every cold led to a junky cough that required inhaler use and constant monitoring. It's only been in the last 4 months that he seems able to fight off colds on his own and I don't have to make extra trips to the pediatrician. I no longer freeze inside when Little Guy coughs, although we're still being instructed to isolate him when he gets congested.



This whole experience was overwhelming. Even as I sit here remembering, tears fill my eyes. And it's not so much the memory of how sick he was, but the way our family and friends rallied around us, supporting us and making sure our needs were met. I said it many times then and I'll say it again: Thank you so much!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

How Did I Do It?



I realized the other day that Little Guy is now one month older than Strong-Willed One was when Kiddlet was born. There are 16 months between my girls; Little Guy hits 17 months tomorrow.


Little Guy takes a lot of my time. He plays very well by himself, but only after I've spent a good 30 minutes or more on the floor with him. And he's in this stage where he needs to be able to look up and see me. As long as I'm in his sight line, he's fine. But if I'm in a different room, he comes looking for me, then fusses and whimpers until I come play with him for a few minutes. It gets old fast. And then there is the time it takes to give bottles, feed, dress and change the little guy. And, of course, clean up after.



The years that the girls were this age are pretty hazy. I honestly don't remember much about how we would pass the days. All I'm clear on is that that is the summer I was taking orders for homemade apple pies. I made dozens of pies that summer, all from scratch. I seriously have no idea how I did that.