Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Words Never Before Heard in this House

Me: Do you want to help me make cookies?

Ainsley: First I want to do my homework.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

He Really Is Boy Wonder

Hilton Head 2014 was our best family vacation by far.

Lots of factors played a role in this -- the kids are a little older, the weather was amazing, two of our laptops went belly up right before the trip so there was limited temptation to game the week away. On our first afternoon at the beach, all four kids pulled together to build the most elaborate sandcastle one could erect armed with a flimsy shovel and a bucket on the verge of cracking.

They loved it. And I loved watching the four of them at work.Later we stocked up on better entrenching tools and really had some fun.

We biked everywhere. If you enjoy biking, Hilton Head's the place to be. Miles and miles and miles of wide, flat, mostly shaded trails.

After years of clinging -- literally and figuratively -- to a baby seat that she had long ago outgrown, Ainsley graduated to the tag-a-long.

A friend and I were chatting about baby and child gear the other day.The more kids you have, the less you want. Exersaucers, swings, bouncy chairs -- they cost a lot, baby uses them briefly if at all, usually you can borrow them from a friend, mostly they take over the house and don't give you much of a return on your investment. But there are a few baby/child gizmos that make the cut, and a tag-a-long is among them.

On our last afternoon at the beach, we planned to haul the buckets and the shovels and all the things, so I told the kids to get in the car. I was met with a howl. "Can't we ride bikes," they all wanted to know. Music to my ears.

We spent one long afternoon biking to the south end of the island. John loves nature. I pray, pray, pray that this endearing quality proves to be an enduring one as well. He loves bird watching and hunting for sea glass. He loves turtles and frogs and lizards. Hilton Head was just the place for John. Egrets, deer, raccoons, alligators (including one that got just a tad too close).

Our longest bike ride went a little longer because John stopped at every Horseshoe Crab and Sand Dollar he spied. Eventually he and I ended up w-a-y behind the rest of the tribe. I began urging him forward when he yelled, "Mom! Look at this!"

I rode back to him and looked at the ocean behind him just as a dolphin surfaced six or eight feet away.

Absolutely amazing.

And then he found three intact and living Star Fish.

So cool. So worth the wait. So worth the ride.

So worth the trip.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Seven Quick Takes

1. He's back!

Boy Wonder has rejoined the land of the living. Back to his smiling, laughing, mischievous self. A tad droopy, slept until 11:00 this morning, but fever-free.

A benign condition that causes him to run a fever every seven to eight weeks doesn't seem quite so benign when it starts hitting every seventeen days, lasts four days, involves 104 degree fevers, and includes all-night bouts of vomiting. We need wisdom and direction, and we covet your prayers in these areas.

2. Do you know there are crooks on the Internet? Well, I now do. I can't  share all the details at present, but I have encountered all manner of money-grabbing schemes in the last few days, and I am shocked. I don't know why I am shocked, but I am.

3. So all that time I was supposed to have on my hands once school started? WHERE  IS  IT, I ASK YOU, WHERE IS IT? Not happening yet. See item #1 involving 104 degree fevers and all-night bouts of vomiting to understand the key reasons why. We have thirty-four weeks of school to go, so I'm just sure time is coming my way any minute now. Any minute now.

4. I've always known my fashion sense slouched toward the conservative if not the boring. Now it's official. I was perusing the sale pages of Lands' End and stumbled upon a cute skirt for Ainsey -- kind of a classic style, clean lines, tasteful. Turns out I bought the girl a school uniform. Yes, a school uniform. She already wears a uniform five days a week, and now her mother has bought her yet another one.

And then there's the shorts. Do you know it's hard to find shorts of a decent length for a five-year-old.? Do you know there are crooks on the Internet? Yes, it's true. I have an astonishing grasp of the obvious. So I find khaki Bermuda shorts at Walmart and pick them up for Ainsley to wear next summer. And as I'm headed home, I suddenly think, "I bet they're boys' shorts." And sure enough, they are.


I may keep the school uniform, but the boys' shorts (not to be confused with boy shorts) are back at Walmart.

5. I would like to poll parents of adolescents on a perplexing housekeeping dilemna. Scenario: A nameless child's room could just about make the tabloids. Do you:

a. Ensure the door is securely closed and spray a little air freshener in the hallway? 
b. Confiscate all electronic devices and place the culprit(s) under house arrest until the room meets minimum specs? 
c. Grab a large trash bag and a pitch fork and do the job yourself?
d. Combine the above three?

6. Do you know which job is hardest to accomplish when everyone is home? The floors. It's funny, but I find washing floors rather soothing. But it rarely happens during the summer. The other day I walked through the kitchen and nearly lost a shoe in some wide-spread glob of ick. So this morning in the silence of my home, I will  mop. I'm looking forward to it.

This combined with the fact that I outfit my daughter in school uniforms and think she looks cute? I'm scaring myself. Really, I am.

7. I am on day five of Jillian Michael's Thirty Day Shred. In the interest of full disclosure, I should rebrand this program the Thirty Month Shred because my ambitious timetable looks something like this:

January 2012 - Purchase Thirty Day Shred
May 2013 - Remove shrink wrap
September 2014 - Begin program

Just a little bloggy hyperbole you say? Sadly, no. The actual timetable give or take a month or two.

Head over to Jen's to add your Quick Takes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fever - Round 110, Day 4


Waiting to hear from the doctor.

Wanting to see this version of John:

Or this:

Or this:

Not this:

Or this:

And now he's huddled on the couch under two blankets.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Greenfield Village

Visit the beautiful state of Michigan and somewhere near the top of your Must See List be sure to pencil in Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum. Having grown up outside Detroit, I've visited these sites many, many times but have never had as nice a trip as we did this July.

Greenfield Village is much like Colonial Williamsburg -- an expansive, authentic outdoor museum full of houses and farms and shops and docents in period costume.

We watched Monuments Men not too far back. I liked it. It's a bit of an odd movie in that it juxtaposes series themes with a tone that almost feels campy. I need to watch it a second time. Anyway, I liked it. After its release, George Clooney made headlines speaking about what historically have been called "the Elgin Marbles." George called them "the Greek Marbles."

As an historian friend of mine used to say, "The winners pick the names."

The marbles are named for a British aristocrat/archaeologist who swiped them from Greece which was then occupied by the Ottomans. Time magazine listed the Elgin Marbles among the greatest plundered artifacts of all time. Mr. Clooney is trying to bring the marbles home to Greece.

John in the machine shop.

(Google "plundered artifacts" for an interesting article on the whole subject. I like the way stolen artifacts are typically described as having been "spirited away." Reminds me of vocab exercises that invariably noted that bank robbers had "absconded with the funds." An English teacher friend of mine used to wonder if one could "abscond" with anything other than "the funds." Clearly she doesn't know my children who routinely "abscond with the remote" or "abscond with the last nutty bar.")

Kolbe in a play about the Wright brothers.

A visit to Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum always makes me mull over the politics and economics of artifacts. If you visit Ford's Theater in Washington D.C., you'll see it pretty much as it was the night of Lincoln's assassination. Except for the President's chair. That's in The Henry Ford Museum. I guess it's appropriate that the world's largest automotive museum houses the limousine President Kennedy was riding in Dallas at the time of his assassination. Mr. Ford managed to buy the limo and ship it to Detroit. And then there's Menlo Park. Menlo Park, Thomas Edison's laboratory, was originally located in, well, Menlo Park. Which happens to be in New Jersey. But Menlo Park is now in Dearborn, Michigan, in Greenfield Village. Then there's the Wright Brothers' artifacts. Ohio and North Carolina, logically, might arm wrestle over rights to these since the brothers did most of their work in Ohio, but took their historic flight in Kitty Hawk. No matter. Nearly everything is in Michigan.

Controversy aside, all of this makes Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum world class museums and a whole lot of fun to boot. (And it makes me wonder if Henry Ford had been British and not American and an archaeologist instead of a car manufacturer, would the Sphinx have supplanted Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square? Would the entire Great Pyramid have been shipped to Europe? Mr. Ford clearly knew how to get what he wanted.)

One of the things he wanted was to inspire young inventors. All the kids -- from four-year-old Ainsley to twenty-two year-old Steven -- loved the Village.

Called To Be a People of Praise

This is Ainsley just minutes after her birthday party ended. 

But, really, it captures us all at the moment. 

First there's my sweet John who is dealing with fever, vomiting, a strep culture, blood work, more fever, more vomiting. Then there's Tim up to his eyeballs with everything from Ernest Hemingway to The Bill of Rights. Meanwhile Miss Ainsley loves, loves, loves everything about school but scratches her blond little head that it involves getting up and dressed so darn early. Mom is just plain exhausted keeping the domestic ship afloat and John's fevers under 102.

Here in Alleluia we set apart the month of September to sort of regroup spiritually. We choose a theme and meditate on it. Families takes steps to cut back on media to better hear the Lord and to wrest a little order out of loose-knit summer schedules.

This year's theme is taken from a line in the Alleluia covenant:
  We are called to be a people of praise.

So today I praise God for my four children, for medical care, for Tylenol and Motrin and running water, for healing that will come eventually, for time spent alone with my brown-eyed John who is always sweet but manages to throw in an extra dose of cuddliness when he's sick.

And if anyone could lift up a brief prayer for a special intention, I'd be so grateful.

Monday, September 08, 2014

An Update on Dad

We are so very grateful to the many, many friends who have been praying for Dave's dad. Dad has faced significant health issues since last Christmas. The past four months have been especially challenging. On Friday Dad had difficulty breathing and wound up in ICU and on a ventilator.

Our beloved Papa!

The good news is that he successfully came off the vent on Saturday!

Mom, along with the rest of family, would like to share a deep and heartfelt Thank! You! for your intercession and continued prayers.