Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Water Heaters and Yardening

Our water heater finally kicked the bucket.  Hubs patched it up last Winter when it started leaking profusely from the top.  We were told because of the nature of the house layout and where it was installed it would be around $2000-$2500.

For a water heater...

Another thing to learn in life!  When purchasing a home look for one of these on top of the water heater, if it has one, RUN.

Thankfully I have a great friend who has a gas piping business and after discussing it with him, we decided if we had to drop that kind of coin, why not install an on demand heater instead?

It was a great idea and after what we should "save" annually, over 10 years we may save as much as $600.  Takes the sting out of the $2000 price tag... kinda.

Looks good though and we have more garage space now.  Plus no concern again about 50 gallons of water shooting all over catastrophically.  :-)

It's been a busy week, but not too busy to get out and garden.  :-)  I'm starting to feel like I'm myself again, so it's time to rehab these legs (and lose the probably 10lbs I gained sitting on my rear for the last 2 months.)

Love my yard.  It's a slow transformation but it's been fun.  I have some of the most gorgeous "Nikko Blue" hydrangeas.  See how different they all are?  They were purchased at the same time.  You can see the differences in the soil ph as it goes further towards the front of the house.

And these hydrangea trees are stunning.  This one is "Phantom".

Got a couple more for Mother's Day.  They're going to be great.  :-)  Different varieties.

I also have some lavendar started.  Lots of sod cutting to get these beds in makes some long work, but worth it in the long run.

The vegetable garden is in sad shape, but we will still get corn and maybe some pumpkins.  Hubs has been cutting some broccoli here and there too.  :-)

And Hannes LOVES his blueberry bush!

Monkey has a thing for writing the alphabet on everything outside.  :-)

I have plans for this space along the fence.  Lots of gravel shoveling!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

That's NOT Chicken Pox

Friday came along and the Hubs headed off to youth camp, sick tummy and all.  One of the parent volunteers called and needed some extra supplies for dinner, so he had to run a couple of errands before he headed down.  Not a half hour after he left, the Monkey came in and snuggled up with me, asking for a nap.

A nap?!?  Who under the age of 22 without kids asks for a nap?

My son, apparently.  Just before he spikes a fever.  I thought, "Here we go.  He's going to be the next victim of this Oregon Trail virus."  He then toddles off into the family room where I was certain he would soon barf all over our new white shag rug.

Yeah I know, I know.  I bought a WHITE rug, in a house full of little boys.  Not one of my brighter ideas.

Minutes and hours went by and nothing.  He took the Motrin like a champ (first time I've been able to get him to do that) and once the fever was down, he was back to his bouncy, alphabet obsessed self.

Saturday morning came along and he was totally fine.  He was a happy, energetic, normal little guy but shortly after lunch I looked across the room at him and noticed his legs were covered in a bright red rash.  It didn't stop there, his arms and little bum were full of it too, but not on his torso, which I thought was weird.  A few looked like they were going to blister.  Great, he has the chicken pox.

He's had chicken pox before, when he was an infant, but it was a mild case so I suppose he could in theory get it again.  (The doc didn't give him the varicella vaccine because of his prior infection though.)

Sunday morning around 5:30am he decided I needed to get him a towel, wet it, and "wipe the scabs off".  Poor buddy.  When the Monkey asks you to get him wet, he must really be desperate.

Then I get a call from the Nursery Director from our church.  She tells me it's not the chicken pox but Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.  I'm thinking, "No way.  He's got it all over his legs and arms, and as of that time, none on his palms and bottoms of his feet."  She insisted that it was going through the church and that it was most likely exactly that.

So after some research I discover that not only is she correct but, because we are overachievers here at the ranch, it's a new, ugly strain that only entered the US 2 years ago.  Ugly because not only does it affect the extremities, but it will infect adults as well.  Oh, and it's SUPER contagious.

Because we all need to have another round of sickness here in the house, right?

Then Hannes got a fever, a very red sore throat followed by a bloody nose and get this... his eye started to BLEED OUT THE CORNER.

No lie.

I've never seen tears of blood except in the movies.  It was SO creepy.  Same side as the nostril that was bleeding and showed up every time he put pressure upward on his nose or tried to blow it.  This poor kid.  There's nothing on the internet about this.  Even the nurse at Children's didn't really know what to say about it.  So weird.  I didn't tell him it was actually happening for fear he'd freak out.  It's all stopped now and he seems fine so I guess we wait and see what it does or doesn't do.

It's 11:30am.  Looks like we may have a 3rd sickie today.  :-(

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Been A Crazy Week Already

On any given day I can just sit down to a keyboard and write, as if I've been working on a thought for weeks and I'm typing a story out of my head.

For some reason it's not happening so smoothly today.

Again, this blog is really just my diary and I really don't expect anyone to read it.  You are welcome to, but if you actually choose to, beware this may be a long and rambling post.

This was going to be the week where we caught up on things, relaxed, and spent time with our kids doing things that families do while on vacation.

Actually, the week initially was freed up to spend time serving at our church's annual youth camp.  But given the now 9 weeks of mono, my husband decided it would be best if he stayed home and helped me get some stuff done.

Best laid plans, right?

It started with a great, but exhausting Sunday serving on the worship team at church.  SO nice to be back playing with our group, but in hindsight, I probably should have waited another couple of weeks. Monday started at 3am with my mother and I both sick as dogs with one of the ugliest stomach bugs I can remember having.  Ibuprophen on board, I still had a temp of 101, and a fever headache to go with it.  It was great timing seeing as I had already overworked myself the day before.  Plus, the Hubs was committed to doing the food shopping and bus driving for camp, so I spent the day on the floor, trying to keep the kids from killing eachother, hoping my mom was alive in her apartment downstairs.

Tuesday The Monkey started swimming lessons.  He hates getting wet.  HATES it.  At one point he got so worked up during bathtime that he actually threw up, so you can imagine how excited he was to be in the kiddie pool.  We've decided that he needs to get over this so while the other boys are in the big pool having lessons, he will be acquainting himself with the water in the shallow pool.

He screamed the entire lesson.  I'm sure they were thankful when we left.  :-)  The Hubs got to come with us which was really nice given that I was still reeling from the flu the day before.  We spent the rest of the day at home.  I stupidly pushed myself through some yardwork and paid for it later.  Hubs was super sleepy so we spent the rest of the day in the house doing nothing.  We did work on The Monkey's potty training, which has been an abysmal failure (I'm sure it's because he doesn't want his legs to get wet).  I was so physically tired.  Pretty much felt like I lost a week or more of progress on the mono.  :-/

Wednesday was pretty much the same.  Screaming kid in the pool, hubs and wife laying around feeling exhausted... we squeezed in a trip to McDonalds and 7-11 though for some post swimming lunch and Slurpees.  Hubs wanted to take the kids to The Children's Museum.  I was secretly thankful we couldn't find parking and had to postpone.  So tired.

Then came Thursday, which is today.

Woke up tired, got the kids ready to go (The Bunny destroyed the kitchen making breakfast, but who cares) and the 6 of us were in the car were heading to swim when I realized how loud and horridly squirrly the older boys were being in the car.  "Honey, did we give them their pill?"  "Um, no."  "Great."

The lesson was awful.  Well, Monkey actually did pretty well.  He only screamed half the session (Daddy was with him in the pool) and actually smiled at one point.  Progress.

The Bunny and Hannes were impossible.  Hannes couldn't stop whining and freaking out about EVERYTHING.  The Bunny was loud, splashy, and incredibly obnoxious.  Their teacher deserves a major award.  She knew why they were "off" today, but I'm still thankful she showed them some grace (and a tight leash).

Hubs' tummy wasn't feeling so super and that coupled with the kids' ridiculous, uncontrollable behavior in class, we decided to forgo trying the museum again today and headed for a quick trip to the Winco.

Mind you, I haven't been grocery shopping in over 2 months, and still don't feel up for all the walking that comes with, but Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards were really bare, know what I'm sayin?  Plus, we were just minutes from a really great grocery store, so we went for it.

We had one of those carts where there is the attachment in the front that you can sit two extra kids facing forward.  I sat in it off and on while the kids "pushed" the cart.  Grocery shopping means you have to go down each isle to see ALL the numbers, in order, or The Monkey freaks out.  It's great.

People stared at us funny and I'm sure we were quite the sight.  Hubs looked pasty green, mom's sitting in the kid's seat because she's too fatigued to walk, kids were being loud, grabbing things off the shelves, dragging the cart to and fro.  No amount of "we're going to take away this privelage and that privelage and whatever" was working.  They were like a bunch of loud, drunken, impulsive teenagers with no common sense and the giggles.

Oh, and then I remembered we had to bag our own groceries.  Sick, tired, and in a hurry because there will be someone else's groceries that will soon be coming down your beltway.

Not 5 minutes into the ride home, Hannes smacked The Bunny HARD with a toy, Lammy screamed because The Bunny was screaming, and the Hubs was hit with the stomach flu full on while we were driving down the highway.

He gets to go to camp tomorrow night.  I'm praying he gets over it quickly.  :-(

Did I mention our water heater is leaking in our garage?

Mono at 37

This is my view these days.

It's a celebrated view really.  The people that decided putting motorized shopping carts into major retail outlets were genius and I am thankful.

2 months ago I went to bed feeling super tired, with a slight off an on pain nagging at me in my upper left abdomen.  5 days later I was diagnosed with mono.  At 37.  I went to the doctor and told him how ridiculously heavy and tired I felt and how I was sure it was getting worse.  Truthfully I was a little freaked out at what might be the cause of this acute illness, especially when he said, "Well I'll test you for mono, but nobody your age gets mono.  Usually by now most people are immune or have already had it."

Guess I should have purchased a Lotto ticket that day.

After a quick freak out, (and a sigh of relief that it wasn't anything serious) I thought to myself, "This is annoying but liveable.  I can handle this."  Little did I know what lied ahead.

A few days later it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My kids were in their last week of school and driving them to and from was SO much work.  I laid on the floor for most of the day, while the Monkey threw his alphabet letters all around me.  The Sprout channel was on from dawn till dusk and I played Candy Crush to keep myself awake.  Just getting up to go to the bathroom was a chore.  It was the hardest physical ordeal I've ever been through.  The whole thing was a mind game.  I really thought I was going to die.

Weeks 3 and 4 weren't much better, but I at least didn't have to dress the kids and drive them to school. I still had to make them meals though.  After a couple of weeks I'd "rally" and feel like I was gaining a bit of energy.  Enough to maybe say, load the dishwasher and swap (not fold) laundry.  "Yay!  I'm starting to get better!"  It would seriously knock me back 2-3 days each time it happened.  I felt a level of guilt throughout the whole process.  Not only did I watch my poor husband do double duty, but my kids spent more than a month doing little more than playing video games and watching tv.  Their breakfast and lunch were just thrown together, half heartedly.  Complete, but half hearted.

Every week we'd discuss things that needed to be done.  "Well by next week I ought to be feeling much better."  It didn't work that way.  To top it all off the virus kicked my thyroid lower than usual.  My body was so weak, my allergies were in full swing, and yes, thankyouverymuch, I got the stomach flu.

I was bored, and lonely.  I still am.  My only interraction with the outside world is church twice a week and wasn't even getting that.  I've had 2 visitors in these 2 months.  I can't tell you how nice it was to talk with someone for a little bit.

It's getting better though.  I've had a lot of time to sit and think about things, some good, some bad.  Sitting isn't my forte' though, so I'm slowly pushing myself in hopes to have something of a summer.

I am thankfully now able to take the kids to swim lessons every day without feeling like I'm overdoing it.  That coupled with some basic household tasks over the day is about my limit, but I am SO happy to be finally capable of doing SOMETHING.  I get sleepy early.  My legs are very tired.  It's going to take a while to get them up and running again, but slow and steady wins the race!  God is good!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Life Without Facebook

Well that was weird.

This experience has shown me even more how important it was to dump Facebook.

It's like any addiction.  I've struggled with them in the past, this wasn't much different.  Any time suck that makes you feel freaked out about quitting is probably a bad thing to be wrapped up in.

Just the thought of deactivating the account made me feel uncomfortable.  As if I was erasing the last 7 years of my life.  Sure, I remembered to download all of my history and activity, all the pictures, all the witty sayings and strange events.  None of it is lost.  But that didn't seem to change the apprehension I experienced just before I pushed the button.

Funny too, that JUST as I was opening the Security Tab, the creepy beginning to "The Thunder Rolls" started playing on Pandora.  It was like something out of a movie.

They don't let you out easy either.  Once you click that little button, a barrage of friends' profile pictures show up and over each one it says, "(friend name) will miss you."  


Oh and, "We hope you won't be gone long" followed up with an email reminding me that I had left.

Even through all of that, after I clicked the button I felt a bizarre sense of freedom.  No more coldly checking in with my friends, in an environment where I can pretend I didn't see something.  No more hours of drifting through stupid political arguments.  No more pictures with comments making you feel guilty about something.  No more comparing my life to others en masse.  No more do it yourself ideas that I will never actually follow through on.  No more worrying about FB checking my voting records...

No more cyber friendships, just real relationships with real people.  And before you say "boo" to that, think to yourself, "would I rather have 4-5 good friends I saw and did things with regularly?  Or do I instead want 400 "friends" that I only interract with on a computer?"

It's great.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


We decided this year would be a good time to get it together and sign the kids up for swim lessons.  I mean really, the Bunny is nine now and can't even dog paddle.

Shame on me I guess, but part of the issue has been logistics.  We don't have a pool nearby, and coordinating swim several times a week with multiple age groups/abilities and having a toddler running around the pool just didn't work.  We could seriously have 2-3 classes back to back and then what do I do with the others?  Lam and the Monkey would have been thrilled to sit on the sidelines doing NOTHING during all this time I am sure.

Plus our children have never been friendly with the water, and they are short, which makes them more afraid being that they can't reach the bottom.

Anyway we found a pool that offers 1/2 hour lessons M-F for two solid weeks during the Summer - AND - they will take Lam and the older two boys in the same class.  It's great!

Well, some people aren't so sure it's all that great.

(One of these things is not like the other...)

This was day one.  I sat in the car, sick with mono (that's another post altogether), while my dear Mother-In-Law took the boys in.

Don't let the other two fool you.  It was sheer terror for all of them.  Hannes has a thing for freaking out about every little thing that bothers him.  So much so that it's really difficult to an reason with him.  You sometimes just have to let him whine it out in that big cement filled room.*

*Edit:  The swim coach takes a no-nonsense approach to this and it works wonders.

Lam pretty much thinks he's going to drown all the time.  He obsesses with it the day before, saying that he drowned yesterday and is too tired to swim today.  Then after the lesson he's acts as if nothing has happened.

The Bunny protested a bit in the mornings for the first few days but slowly adjusted as the week went on.  He's the easiest of the bunch.

All of them will most likely be in the same Level I class for the entire summer.  No one likes to get their faces wet, and a couple of them can't figure out how to keep their mouth's shut when underwater.  They all go into the fetal position when back floating, like a bunch of wet, freaked out cats.

If they can fall into the water and "swim" to the side of the pool by the end of the Summer, I will consider these months of lessons successful.

Thankfully after a couple of weeks in they at least look happier.  :-)  Aren't they a cute bunch?

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Many People Can Talk At The Same Time?

L: "Can I turn off the air conditioner?"  "No." L: "Why?"  "Because I said, 'no'."  L: "WHYYYYY???!!!  That is not why Mommy!"
             M: "Whaaaaaa, I want "Poppy Kids TV!"
                                "Lammy get out of my bedroom!"
                                               H: "Mom, MOM is this my Bowser toy that I left on the ground... "I don't know." H: "...that I sat on the ground here..." "I don't know." H: "...that was from my happy meal..." "I don't know."
             L: "Did you know the fan is on in your bedroom Mommy?  REALLY MOMMY!  REALLY!!!  Oooh!  The washing machine is done!"

3 seconds of silence.

M: "I need Poppy Kids TV!"

I wish I could write this better, but assume these conversations are happening really fast, at a typical Italian family volume, and simultaneously.

Pretty much how things go around here.  Either people are quiet and you don't hear much, or you get the multitudes surrounding you all at the same time, vying for your attention.  It's like that phenomenon where for hours nobody knows that you exist until the phone rings, and then they HAVE to talk to you RIGHT NOW, or they decide it's a good time to blow out their diaper.  And then take it off.

No wonder I don't have a social life.  I can't even get a phone call without someone trying to kill someone else in the background.  

And now once again it's quiet and I'm unnoticed.  Going to sneak upstairs to do some laundry.  Don't call me.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

And Here We Are...

As I type this I'm thinking to myself, "What is this really and why am I doing it?  Will this be an opportunity to reach out to the real world (whatever that is) and share my experiences with others?  Or will it just end up being a dud deal that gets updated once in a while for my own diary of life benefit?"  Probably the latter of the two.

While we wait to find out the answer to that mysterious question, let me start by introducing myself.  I'm "The Mamma" as affectionately known by my husband and 4 boys.  Not just Mamma, but "THE Mamma" which cracks me up a little.  We also have a horrible way of putting "the" in front of everything... THE Lowes, THE Walmart, THE Safeway... I digress.

Anywho, as many of those with multiple small kiddos, my job primarily is to be "The Mamma" at home, 24/7.  I'm in my 9th year and I'd be absolutely blunt faced lying to you if I told you every day was a dream.  It's not.  But that's just life in anything anyone does, so don't go thinking you're going to fool the rest of us, k?

However, I LOVE my job and wouldn't trade it for anything.  Truly.  Being able to stay home while nurturing and growing my children is one of the best gifts God has blessed me with.  And I intend to do it as long as He allows me to!

So why the title?  We here at the ranch (it's no where near a ranch, it just feels like I'm living with wild animals) have a unique situation within our 4 walls, although one that's quickly becoming not so unique these days.  All of our 4 children diagnosed with some kind of developmental disability or delay.  For some of you that may sound as if they are all behind academically.  Let me assure you they are not at all.  Meet the kids:

The Bunny

Our oldest, now 9 years old excells academically in his class and is in the highly capable program at his elementary school.  He's super extroverted, kinda cheesy, and great at making car noises.  He also has ADHD (Impulsive Type).  The Bunny is one of those kids that throws out questions you'd expect to hear from a 7th grader, and uses a BIG vocabulary.  He's also quite the horseman already.  It's obvious this kiddo is going to do great things someday.  I just adore this boy.  :-)

The Hannes

Our second oldest, now 8 years old, also excells academically in his class and is in the highly capable program at his elementary school.  Excited by all things Lego, The Hannes can create structures that would make your husband jealous.  Paper airplanes and blueberries are some of his other favorite things.  Hannes has the best laugh and the biggest heart.  :-)  Diagnosed ADHD and high functioning ASD (Aspergers before they changed the diagnosis codes) he's quirky, nerdy and super funny.  I adore this boy too!

The Lamb

Oh The Lamb.  He is such a bright spot in our lives.  The Lamb is a sweet, happy, lively almost 7 year old with an obsession for orange cats and peanut butter.  Want to know something about your washing machine?  He's probably watched the youtube repair video for your particular model.  He also has an incredible ear for music and is already picking out major, minor, and diminished chords on our piano - BY EAR.  He will be entering 2nd grade next year and is academically brilliant.  The Lamb is a mid-high functioning Autistic.  I can't imagine life without this sweet little toe head!

The Monkey

His name truly fits too.  This boy clings and climbs and will eat a whole bunch of bananas in a sitting.  He's recently 4 years old and is obsessed with the alphabet.  This child was writing the alphabet at age 2.  No joke.  He's reading beginner books but still has a full year before he enters Kindergarten.  Loves his "pancakes on the butter" too.  The Monkey doesn't let anything or anyone stand in his way, which is a great quality when you're the youngest of 4.  He is an absolute sweet, loving, bright spot in my day!

What is normal anyway?  Normal is a setting on the dryer.  I've stressed to much in my lifetime to continue to strive for that mecca of normalcy.  My hope is to document our journey to show the rest of the world what life is really all about, encouraging all those other parents of kids like ours to create their own "normal".  That which is normal for you is normal.  And for me, I continue on prayerfully, looking forward to all that God has planned for our family!

Camden, go get your clothes - I wanna be trees!  Get your clothes - I wanna be trees - ok be trees and get your clothes

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