Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Plan

The plan was to do nothing today. The plan was to lay around, eat left-over chicken spaghetti for lunch and lay around some more. But as often happens in our house, the plan fell through. What actually happened was this:

Gracie woke me up at a 6:15 am and was promptly sent back to bed. We finally rolled out of bed at 8:20 am, and I was feeling pretty confident that my relaxing day was off to a good start. Until I made it to the kitchen and remembered that Kaben had spent the night and heard Gracie clamoring for pancakes. So, I pulled out the recipe I've been using since I was about 8 years old and made a batch of pancakes for breakfast while Trevor made a big pot of Community coffee.

Just as I was taking my pancakes off the griddle, the kids were finishing theirs so I cleaned sticky fingers and faces so they could get down to the business of playing. By the time I sat down with my breakfast, the best rating I could give it was lukewarm but at least the coffee was strong and hot. After I ate, I figured it was time to start relaxing in earnest so I took my dishes to the kitchen and started back to the living room to read a few blogs and check my email.

Trevor went outside to do some work on the vehicles and after some time on the computer, I decided that I needed to go ahead and take a shower and get dressed in preparation for all the laziness I had planned for my day. I was drying off when Trevor came in to tell me Charly and Nick were in the living room (Trevor's brother's wife and their son), so I spent the next 30 minutes or so talking to her but still attempting to live the dream of rest and relaxation.

Charly went to gather Nick to go home, but he was having such a good time that he didn't want to leave. I said that he could stay while Charly finished running (a completely separate story of insanity in this heat) and so she left and Nick made four. Nick wanted to hold the gerbils so I took Lucky out of the cage, and noticed that the cage was getting a bit ripe. I put the gerbils in their exercise balls and cleaned the cage. While I was dumping the bedding in the trash can in the utility room, I noticed that the laundry was taking over the room. And so it started.

After the cage was cleaned and the gerbils were repatriated, I retired to the utility room where the clothes were calling. I put a load on to wash and then noticed (do you see a pattern here?) that there was a mound of Gracie's clothes that needed to be ironed. So, I began to iron in between quelling rebellion and strife in the playroom and running outside to make sure that Gracie and Nick weren't drinking the bubbles. Before long, it was noon and my day of "relaxation" was half gone.

As I was slathering bread with peanut butter and jelly, Charly came back. The kids ate at the counter, and I fulfilled part of my plan by eating left-over chicken spaghetti for lunch. It was quite tasty and Charly undid all of her hard work and sweat in roughly 10 minutes by eating with me. We took Nick and Gracie outside to swing, visited for awhile and then based on the exponential increase in whining, determined that it was nap time for the kids.

I finished the ironing and put another load of laundry on, and then ran to the store for a new dress and a few items for our trip to Florida next week. By the time I got home it was 4:30, Gracie was up from her nap and my enchanting friend Kellye had picked Kaben up.

I guess the point today is that the way we plan things is not always the way things turn out. I was irritated at the time that my day was filling up with chores and responsibility, but now as I reflect on it I realize that God sent so many blessings my way and I completely missed them in the midst of my chaotic life. I had the opportunity to share breakfast and coffee with my family, to see my nephew and visit with Charly, and to have some alone time while I was shopping.

Lord, please open my eyes so that I can drink in the blessings that You give me every day. My very life is a soul has been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and I rely on You to renew me each morning. Your grace is sufficient for me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

God Be With You

I have been playing the piano a great deal since we bought ours and got it tuned, and it's been such a pleasure to lose myself in the music. I was playing through the hymnal the other night and came across this song that I haven't played (or sung) in years. It's called "God Be With You Till We Meet Again".

I used to belong to an organization when I was a girl called Rainbow Girls and at the close of each meeting during the week of our state convention, this song was our benediction. It brings back memories of those days as well as well as reminding me that my salvation has given me an adopted family. My deepest desire is that each member of my family will rely on God and His blessings in between times that we fellowship together. I offer this song as a reminder that we are all living separate lives, but will one day meet again at the feet of Jesus Christ.

God be with you till we meet again,
By his counsels guide, uphold you,
With his sheep securely fold you:
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus' feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again,
'Neath his wings securely hide you,
Daily manna still provide you:
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again,
When life's perils thick confound you,
Put his loving arms around you:
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again,
Keep love's banner floating o'er you,
Smite death's threat'ning wave before you:
God be with you till we meet again

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Praise and Worship

I miss singing hymns in Sunday morning worship. I miss the sound of four part harmony singing praise to God and the simple sound of a piano and organ guiding us along. It saddens me to think that in just a few generations, all of those old hymns have been lost. We sing along to the band now, complete with bass, electric and acoustic guitar as well as drums and keyboard. The music from the instruments all but drowns out the singing of the congregation and instead of feeling as though I am participating in corporate worship, I spend my time straining to hear my own voice so I can stay on pitch.

I know that this has become a rallying point for many people in churches around the country. I don't think that this is a reason to leave or split a congregation of believers. Sadly, music in worship has become a hot topic for debate and has been the source of many a split church. Don't we have more important things to tend to as the body of Christ? Is the type of music we hear and sing in church really that important? To that I have to answer yes and no.

Yes, it's important in the sense that we need to get the most out of our worship experience as possible. If the music is distracting to your praise and worship time, then what's the point? I've heard people say that it doesn't matter what kind of music is playing, what matters is that you are praising God. I wholeheartedly disagree with that philosophy. It matters a great deal if you can't open yourself up to true worship because of what's going on around you. Believe me, I have tried very hard to learn the lyrics to all the praise songs, and I sing them when I am in church. I don't stand there just refusing to sing because I don't really like the music, because that is just pure rebellion and we should be trying to fix our thoughts on God.

However, I just don't enjoy the music the way I want to and that makes me feel like I am not worshipping to the fullest on Sunday morning. The music does not prepare me for the sermon, it's just something that I have to get through and I hate feeling like that. I hate feeling like a complainer or that I am not willing to change, but it goes deeper than that. Those hymns that we used to sing contained important doctrine about our faith. It's a proven fact that we are able to retain information better if we put it to music. I can't tell you how many bible verses I know because I learned them in a song as a child.

"Victory in Jesus", "The Old Rugged Cross", "I Need Thee Every Hour"....the words to these hymns teach us something very important about ourselves and about the God we serve. I often laugh (on the inside, of course) during the praise and worship time in church, because I occasionally hear a phrase from a hymn in a praise song. I laugh because probably 80% of the congregation has no clue that they are singing part of a hymn. I think hymns have a bad reputation among the "new congregations" who either began going to church after hymns had been sort of phased out, or have never attended a church that sang them. They think that hymns are boring and preachy, but they sing phrases from them at the top of their lungs every Sunday without even realizing it.

One of the great joys of being a member of my family is that there is a overwhelming love for music and a talent for it as well. I can't think of anyone in my family (immediate and extended) who can't sing or play an instrument. Almost every time we get together, we gather around the piano and sing in four part harmony to all the old hymns. We pull out the Broadman hymnal and the Inspiration and sing "Mansion Over the Hilltop", "The Way That He Loves" and "Just a Little Talk With Jesus" until we are hoarse. It's a beautiful time of praise and worship and the lyrics help us to remember Who we serve. Those old hymns echo through my mind when I am in a dark and lonely place, and remind me that I am not alone.

On the other hand, I have to answer that no, music is not that important in the sense that our greater purpose is spreading the gospel as far and wide as we can. If the music draws people in and keeps them engaged and ready to worship, then we should carry on smartly and continue our ministry. Much of the praise music does reflect sound theology and doctrine, albeit a little "fluffy" sometimes. I would never leave my church because of the music program. If I was getting fed in other areas (Sunday School, small groups, preaching) then that one area that I was not entirely comfortable with would not be enough to send me packing. We could spend our entire lives trying to find a church home that aligns perfectly with what we want. What really matters is what God wants for us, and we have to keep that in mind.

So, having said all of this, the bottom line is that I miss the old hymns but not enough to leave the body of believers that I have come to know and love. I would suggest a more blended music service, but that is neither here nor there. I am content with the knowledge that my children will grow up knowing all of the old favorites and maybe they can teach me some of the new.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Interesting New Blogs

It has been a really slow day here at the old cancer center and I spent an inordinate amount of time randomly reading blogs. What I found was that there are scores of Christian women out there just like me. I know that I often feel quite alone in my convictions and faith, but I am here to tell you that I am not alone.

It started when I stopped on a blog named "Savor the Master's Blend". The clever name is what drew me in and then I realized that the author was just beginning her blog. I had to love her at once simply because she chose the same blog theme and layout as myself! After I read her posts I was intrigued by this young woman. She is the daughter of a minister and is married to one as well. I used the links on her page to take me to her mother's blog and it just exploded from there. Her mom had so many great links and I got lost reading many of them. I put a few on my quick links so that I can peruse them from time to time when I need encouragement.

I also went to her husband's blog (new as well) and saw that he had links to Capitol Hill Baptist where my brother and my sister-in-law are members. It was as though I had made friends with this couple in spite of the fact that we have never met! Our mutual love of Christ and the small details that tenuously linked us together were enough for me to feel like a connection had been made.

It was refreshing to read about other Christian women (and men) who have a deep, abiding love for Christ and for each other in the midst of all the corruption in the world. It rang clear through my mind that we can be in the world and not of the world. I look forward to reading the thoughts and experiences of these new cyber-friends and hope that they feel as edified when they visit my little corner of the internet.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Split Personality

I think Grace has a split personality. I have never seen a child go from "I'm completely content and happy with my life" to "My life is over and I never get my way" so quickly. The transformation generally happens when she is perfectly happy with one parent, and then the other parent comes home. It's almost as though a switch is being flipped in her brain that causes her to freak out.

She goes from sunshiny and happy to dark and whiny before you can say dissociative identity disorder. It doesn't matter if you give in to her every whim or deny her even the basic comforts, she whines and cries. It's absolutely amazing how she turns it on and off. We are trying to figure out what it is that makes her do it, because we don't allow her to play us against each other. Neither one of us behaves differently regarding discipline when we are together or alone, so that can't be it either. We are at a bit of a loss, and all we can do is suffer through it and not give in to her shenanigans.

Kaben is spending the night with Nathan tonight. I didn't tell Nathan about it so that he would be surprised when he saw Kaben, and I wasn't disappointed. I picked Kaben up from his sitter first, and then went to get Nathan and Grace. Nathan was so absorbed in his video game that he didn't see us come in the house, and Kaben took the opportunity to hide behind a chair. When the kids saw me, they came running for hugs and sugar and I gladly obliged. Meanwhile, Kaben sneaked up behind Nathan and tapped him on the shoulder. I wish I had a picture of the look on Nathan's face! It was priceless!

So, the boys have played outside and now we are in post-dinner computer game mode. Gracie is watching Curious George in the playroom and I have a few minutes to catch my breath before the evening bath-bedtime dance begins. It's in the middle of this dance that I truly appreciate how well my kids get ready for bed and then stay there. We don't have to fight them to go to sleep. They say their prayers, we turn out the lights and that's it.

It's truly a blessing, and when I hear horror stories from my friends about getting their kids to sleep I feel (and I am a little ashamed to admit this) a bit smug. Then I remember Gracie's split personality and I am brought down a couple of notches. She may go to sleep on command, but she can make you want to beg for a sharp stick to the eardrum just to stop the sound of the whining sometimes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm Back

I took a few days off from the blog while I was home in Louisiana, but here I am ready to begin again. We had such a good time visiting with Courtney and Jack. I can't believe how big he is getting. He has the most angelic smile (in between the Otis fits) and it was fun to hold a little one again, even if it was only for a few days.

Nathan loved the Wizard of Oz and I talked to him about seeing other performances in the theatre, and he was very interested. I need to look into taking him to some local productions to encourage an appreciation for the stage. It was funny listening to him describe the play from a child's point of view and to compare it to my own experience. Our perceptions were vastly different, but that just proves that a child's imagination automatically fills in the blanks whereas adults have to make a concerted effort to transport themselves into a fantasy. I envy Nathan's ability and mourn the loss of my once very active imagination.
Summer and Colby came over on Saturday which gave the boys a chance to play together for a little while. They went to the matinee showing of the Wizard of Oz together, and came home in different cars. When Nathan arrived, he bounded in the house and yelled, "Where's Colby-do?" He pronounced it "ko-bee-doh" which I thought was hilarious since Granny Effler calls Colby "Coby". He called him that all afternoon, and I kept thinking how wonderful it was that the two of them see each other so seldom, but jump right back into a easy camaraderie when they get together. I tried in vain to get a picture of them together, because Colby did not want his picture taken and kept running away from me!

Gracie did very well with her potty training in spite of the long trip and different surroundings. Everyone had the opportunity to experience the whirlwind that is Grace. Frequent, loud announcements concerning her urge to tee-tee and poo-poo. Equally loud announcements about her accomplishment after the fact. She has started this new thing where she will ask me something, and if I don't respond and someone else does she will say (in a tone), "I talking to Mommy!" It was cute the first few times, but now we are having to nip it in the bud because she thinks she can speak that way to adults.

It was good to be back in my own bed last night, but I think I picked up a bug somewhere when I was home. My throat is scratchy and I've been taking Vitamin C and cold medicine in an attempt to head it off before it gets too bad. It was hard to get up this morning after a NyQuil induced sleep, but I did and now I am just trying to get through Monday without feeling worse. I am looking forward to my soft, warm bed when I get home tonight and the prospect of some quick take-out to avoid any cooking.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Root Canal?

I went to the dentist last Friday for the first of two scheduled appointments to fill the cavities found at my check up. All went well (as far as dental work goes) and I was sent home with a new filling and lips that felt like two large mounds of numb putty. By the time I went to bed, my tooth was killing me and I figured that it was just sore from all of the drilling and scraping it had endured earlier.

Unfortunately, my tooth has not recovered and I have been unable to chew anything on that side of my mouth. I was able to make an appointment to have the dentist look at it this afternoon and the prognosis was not what I was hoping for. He made a slight adjustment to my bite, and told me that if the pain and sensitivity did not get better by early next week, he would probably need to do a root canal. His honest opinion was that I would in all likelihood need the root canal, but he didn't want to rush into it. So, we'll see how I do over the next few days. I figure that 4 more days of chewing on one side of my mouth isn't going to kill me.

I'm so excited because we are all going to Louisiana tomorrow morning! I plan to get to work at 6:15 am and then leave as soon as I make sure that no one has called in and that there are no add on patients. This means that I might be back home by 8:30 or 9:00 am and on the road by 10! Whoo hoo! The more time I have to hold and play with baby Jack, the better!

I'm also glad that Trevor is feeling better and will be coming with us. This last trip to China really did a number on his internal clock and last night was the first night that he has felt like himself. He had been undecided as to whether or not he was going to make the trip because he had been so exhausted.

It works out that we are coming on a weekend that Uncle Chuck is putting on one of his productions. We are going to see The Wizard of Oz on Saturday and if it's anything like the other shows that I have seen, it will be wonderful. Mama is taking Nathan to a matinee and Courtney and I are going to an evening show and the Nannies are going to take care of the kids. Maybe we'll go get a drink after like real, live grown-ups! Anything is possible when the Nannies are on duty.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Middle of the Night Storm

Trevor and I were in bed and asleep at 9:20 pm last night. This is a good thing since an incredibly loud thunderstorm woke us up around 2:15 am. At least we went to bed early to make up for the lost sleep later in the night. I was lying there trying to ignore the vibrating of the house and the bright flashes of light coming through our bedroom window and realized that sleep was a futile endeavor.

I got up and checked on Nathan as I went past his room. His eyes were like twin saucers in the preternaturally lit room and I went in to see if he needed anything. He confessed that he was about to come into my bedroom and get me because he was scared of the thunder. I reassured him that everything was alright, and told him that I was scared of thunder when I was a little girl too. I'm sure Nannie could tell him stories of me screaming for her in the night. He seemed calmed by the little talk and I went into the living room to check the local radar online.

There was a pocket of severe storms right over our house and a surrounding 20 mile radius and it was moving quickly. I had no more than closed the laptop to try and go back to bed, when the automatic light in the hall came on and I heard a stifled sob. When I got back to our room, I saw Gracie curled up tight next to Trevor quietly crying. I laid down next to her and took her in my arms as I murmured against her hair that it was just thunder and it couldn't hurt her.

She drifted off to sleep as the storm finally calmed and blew away, and I carried her to her own bed. She never roused or protested, and I was able to fall back asleep with little difficulty. The alarm going off at 6:00 am was like an ice pick in my brain, but I stumbled out of bed anyway to start the routine of my life all over again.

How many times as an adult have I longed for the comforting arms of Mama and Daddy when I have been buffeted by the storms that life brings? Too many to count, but what I have come to realize is that I don't need physical arms to calm and protect me. All I need is the comfort and peace that God gives me when I need it the most and he is always faithful. Thank you God. Thank you for Your sheltering arms when I am tossed about and feel like I am being washed away in a sea of difficulty. You are my rock and my fortress. You are my deliverer and I will trust in you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not Ready

Today marks the 5 month anniversary of Uncle Tellius' death. It hit me like a ton of bricks as I was writing the date in a patient's chart this morning. My heart cried out for Courtney as I celebrated Father's Day on Sunday with the knowledge that she was unable to pick up the phone and call her Daddy the way that I did. I was sorrowful as I tried to imagine my own life without Daddy...a reality that is closer rather than far away. The hope of twenty more years seems ridiculously short and inadequate, yet at least I have that hope.

I also had Mama, Aunt Gail and Uncle Chuck on my mind as I tried to imagine what they were feeling Sunday without Gramps. Although his death was more along the natural order of things, it doesn't lessen the impact of the loss, particularly on holidays. As I watched my children interact with Trevor and saw how much they love him I was thankful for his safe return to our little haven.

I am unable to articulate the depth of my grief regarding Uncle Tellius. I want to write about what a wonderful person he was, what solid faith he possessed, what impact his military service had on his life....there are so many things about him that I want to get out in the open, but I can't. Maybe I'm just not ready to open that wound yet. Even as I sit here typing I can't help but weep a little....for a life that seemed not quite finished, not entirely done. That is, of course, a human perspective. I know that God had a specific reason for Uncle Tellius' death and it may never be revealed to me. That's okay. If He thought I needed to know, I would.

But that doesn't stop me from grieving and carefully pulling out my memories of him to glance at briefly, and then shove back into the recesses of my mind. Holding them out in the light still hurts too much, but I know that one day I will be able to see them and enjoy them without tears and pain. I just keep holding on to that hope and look forward to the day that I can dust off those cobwebs and rejoice in the fact that I have memories to hold and cherish.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Working Under Protest

It seems a little unfair that I have to be at work today. I mean, shouldn't the world stop for Trevor and I? Shouldn't we be given paid leave to stay home and spend time together after such a long separation?

Obviously not.

That's why I'm sitting in front of a computer at work on my lunch break instead of doing something fun with my husband. I've probably called him 8 times today just because I can. When he is in China, I have a very narrow window of opportunity when we are both awake to make phone calls. The idea of calling him at will, now that he's home, is just too tempting to pass up.

To make matters worse, I have a meeting tonight from 5-7 pm after work that I have to attend, so I will be getting home just in time for us to go to bed. His internal clock is still on the fritz, so we go to bed really early right now. We'll ease back into our normal schedule over the next few weeks, but for now bedtime is between 8 and 9 pm. Why, you ask? Why don't you just stay up and let him go to bed? Because I want to spend every waking and sleeping moment with him, that's why!

I hope that he gets back on schedule this week, because we are going to Louisiana this weekend to see Courtney and Jack! I want him to be fully alert and ready to visit while we are there. I haven't seen them since January, and I can't wait to hold Jack again and to see all of his new tricks. They change so much in the first year, and based on the pictures that Courtney sends faithfully I can tell that he is a completely different baby.

So, I am waiting for this day to be over so I can rush home to Trevor and the kids. I don't mind wishing my life away when I am at work because it's not really my life. My life is waiting for me at home.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Daddy's Girl

It would be impossible to explain how much I love my dad. I have always been a bit of a Daddy's girl, and we have always had a special relationship. When I was a little girl, we had this litany that we would go through together.

Daddy: "Are you my sweetheart?"

Xandra: "Yes."

Daddy: "Are you my baby?"

Xandra: "Yes."

Daddy: "Are you my pretty blued-eyed princess?"

Xandra: "Yes!"

Daddy: "Are you my little maggot?"
Xandra: "Yes!"

It's clear that from an early age I got my sick sense of humor from him. As I grew older, my humor became more witty (thank goodness) and refined and I have to say that I owe that part of my personality to Daddy. Everything that happens to us is not fun and games, but having a sense of humor about everything is the surest way to get through it intact.

Not only did I inherit my dry wit from Daddy, but I also inherited an ultra-sensitive internal meter that red lines when people around me are insincere or just so full of it that they believe their own press. This is a double edged sword for me, because on the positive side, it prevents me from being taken for a fool (most of the time). But, and this is a big but, I also inherited a very coarse filter between my brain and my mouth from Daddy and as a result, not much gets caught in it. When my meter goes off, the holes in the filter somehow enlarge on their own and I tend to say things that are better left in my brain.

The advantage to this is that most people generally know where they stand with me. The disadvantage is that people generally know where they stand with me. I know...seems strange, doesn't it? If I have an issue with you, you are going to feel it one way or another. This is something that I am working on daily, because I need to be able to accept others as they are and not try to bend them to my will and expectations. But, my friends and family know that I don't lie if you ask my opinion about something. You don't have to like it, but I'm going to say what I think. Myself? I respect others who tell it to me straight and don't sugar coat everything as though I can't handle the truth.

I think the reason my relationship with Daddy is more complicated than the one I have with Mama is because I see so much of him in me. The good, the bad and the ugly. He has given me a sense of humor, the attitude that I can do anything, the ability to see through other people and a strength that I think only fathers can give to their daughters. A strength that comes from being a role model as to how a man should behave and treat women. I expect to be treated with respect and dignity because that is the way my dad treated me. Many of the qualities that made me choose Trevor as my husband are the very ones that I saw in my dad growing up.

When a father gives his daughter an emotional visa to strike out on her own, he is always with her. Such a daughter has her encouraging, understanding daddy in her head, cheering her on—not simply as a woman but as a whole, unique human being with unlimited possibilities. --Victoria Secunda

There are so many things that remind me of Daddy. When I hear a Muddy Water's song on the radio, the sound of a cane rocker creaking, the smell of wood burning in a fireplace.....these all remind me of him. He gave me an appreciation for music of all kinds, reading for the pure joy of the written word and instilled in me the desire to learn and educate myself.

I think Daddy is one the smartest people that I know. There are very few questions that he can't answer, and one of the things that I have always loved about him is that he never made me feel stupid for asking. Even if he was thinking, "Is she serious? Does she really not know this?" he never made me feel small for my question.

So, today I thank Daddy for everything he has done for me. Thank you for carrying that silly rock I gave you in your pocket for years. Thank you for sacrificing your dreams to support me so that I could live comfortably and be educated. Thank you for being the kind of father that my friends envied and I could always be proud of. Thank you for remembering where you came from and for rededicating your life to the service of Christ. Thank you for always being proud of me and supporting me even when you may not have agreed with me. I love you more that words could ever say. Happy Father's Day.

Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was crying,
Daddy's hands, were hard as steel when I'd done wrong.
Daddy's hands weren't always gentle
But I've come to understand,
There was always love in Daddy's hands.

Holly Dunn "Daddy's Hands"

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Weird Civility

Usually the anticipation of an event is as satisfying as the event itself for me. Not this time. Nothing compares to having Trevor home with us. To be able to stretch my foot out in the middle of the night and find a warm leg to touch instead of a vast expanse of cold sheet was comforting. I did it over and over again last night just to reassure myself that Trevor was indeed home, and then I snuggled further down into my blankets with a feeling of total security and peace as I drifted back to sleep.

It's a little strange having him home, though. For the first few days that he is home, we treat each other with this weird civility...we're almost too polite, if that is possible. It's as if we are testing the waters of our relationship after no real contact for 2 weeks. Have the boundaries changed? Can I do this or that? I know it seems strange...two weeks is not that long to be apart, but we always have this little dance when he gets home. By day three we are completely back to normal and it's as if he never left, but it always takes a little time to readjust.

We have a birthday party to attend this afternoon from 4-6 pm for Gracie's friend Paige, and the kids are really looking forward to it. They are going to have a moonwalk and wade pool to play in, and Nathan and Grace can't wait to go. They are taking a nap right now so they won't turn into Mr. and Mrs. Crankypants in the middle of the party.

Speaking of pants....Gracie is doing really well with her potty training. I had been bragging to Trevor about how she wasn't having any accidents, etc and as soon as he got home yesterday she wet her panties not just once, but twice! It's like having an extra person in the house threw her energy all off and she was suddenly unable to use the toilet. Trevor jokingly told me that I was making the whole thing up and lied about the potty training.

I am happy to report that she has been clean and dry all day today and that her issues yesterday were probably just related to her excitement over Daddy being home again. So what we have here is the obvious was Trevor's fault. According to him, it's somehow always his fault, so I think we should stick with this line of reasoning.

We are planning to have dinner with Trevor's parents for Father's Day tonight. We are going to meet them at Chili's when they get out of church. I'm really liking this new tradition of dinner the night before Mother's/Father's Day with his parents so we can spend the next day celebrating however we want to.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Short and Sweet

I am going to keep this one short and sweet today. Trevor is home!!!!! I would love to sit here and stare at this computer screen, but I actually have better things to do tonight. Nathan and Gracie are so excited to have him back and I am enjoying just sitting here being near him.

I will get back into the swing of things with my blog tomorrow, but for tonight I am going to spend my time with my husband.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

One More Night

Well, my evening is not turning out the way that I had planned. According to my plan, I was was supposed to sweep in with a box of Popeye's chicken and biscuits, set the kids up with a picnic in the fort and cut the grass as they ate their dinner and enjoyed the great outdoors. The way it happened was that I swept in with the box of chicken and biscuits to a chorus of "I don't want chicken". Not only that, but Gracie had a fever of 103.4 and I was not about to put her outside to eat in the heat. So, plan B involved a blanket on the living room floor in front of the TV for an indoor picnic.

Although not quite according to plan, dinner turned out pretty well in spite of earlier protests as to the content. So, I went out side for the "cut the grass" portion of the plan only to discover that the lawn mower wouldn't start. Well, it would start but it bellowed smoke and the engine had a sad, feeble sound just before it died. I spent a good 20 minutes in the sun trying to figure it out (as well as a phone call to Trevor) and finally gave up. What this meant for me was that I was hot and sweaty as though I had been mowing, without the satisfaction of a freshly mowed lawn.

So here I am, preparing for my last evening without Trevor trying to decide what to do first. The sheets need to be changed on our bed, because there is no better feeling than to slip in between fresh clean sheets after a 17 hour flight. That is one thing that I always do the morning he gets gets home so that it is ready and waiting for him. I have laundry to take care of, dinner to make for myself, the kids need baths and medicine, the trash can needs to be brought in from the road and I would like a little down time for myself somewhere in there! Oh well...such is the life of a mother. I have to keep asking myself the question, "Will any of this matter in 6 months?" If the answer in "no" then I try not to let myself stress over it. I have more important things to stress and worry about without sweating the small stuff. Actually, I shouldn't stress and worry about anything. Jesus said:

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33-34

Amen and amen!

The countdown is moving forward. In 22 hours I will be in Trevor's arms again and the anticipation of that reunion is enough to get me through tonight with no worries!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Paying for the Pediatrician's Vacation Home

I woke up at 1:42 am with the strange sensation that someone was watching me in the dark. I rolled over to see Gracie standing by my bed with her blanket in hand. "I try to get juice," she said. I reached for her and realized that she was burning up. As I carried her down the hallway in a sleepy stupor, I wondered for the hundredth time how much longer this is going to go on.

After a refreshing drink of juice, a dose of ibuprofen and a diaper change, she was back in bed, ready to finish her night. As I laid there trying to go back to sleep I decided to stay home with the kids and take Gracie to the doctor in the morning. If our pediatrician had some sort of frequent visit incentive program, we would probably have earned a vacation to Disney World by now! When the nurse calls our name, Gracie bolts for the door screaming, "Dr. Gilley! Dr. Gilley! I see Dr. Gilley!" They know her so well now that she is greeted with hugs and love when she comes into the room. It's quite sad, actually.

Anyway, the verdict for Gracie was that she had the same viral infection that Nathan did, but that hers was developing into a sinus infection. We were sent home with a prescription for Amoxicillin, nose drops and drops for the pink eye she developed on the left side. It's a good thing that Gracie loves to take medicine. When I try to give Nathan his medicine, she runs up and asks for's never a problem to get her to take medicine, no matter how nasty it is.

So, we are back home and Gracie is down for her nap. Nathan is setting up the Mouse Trap game so we can play, and I am waiting for Claude to come over to tune the piano.

End of day note:

My piano is finally tuned! Whoo hoo! Claude was here for almost 2 hours and he did a wonderful job. I can't wait for Trevor to hear the difference. And as happy as I am about the piano, I am a million times happier about something else that happened this evening.

(Disclaimer: if you are not a parent, you will have no idea how important this is, so just play along.)

Gracie pooped in the potty tonight! Not only did she poop, but she came and told me that she had to go to the bathroom. She was so proud of herself and wanted to call Trevor straight away. I wish that I had the camera to record that little face beaming bright enough to rival the sun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are Events Conspiring Against Me?

For the last week and a half, my life has been a series of unfortunate events that seem to have a life of their own and are conspiring against me. Each event just builds on the next, perhaps hoping that it will be the one that breaks me. Take, for instance, this morning. Everyone is well-versed in the health issues that have plagued the kids in the last few days, and I was so happy this morning when I got up because they were both fever-free and going back to Heather's!

I took my shower, happily lathering up and thanking God for restoring health to my children and for helping me to get through the stress of recent days. Then I got out. I got out of the shower and saw that Heather had called my cell phone at 6:22 am, so I called her back. I figured that she was just confirming that the kids were coming, but no. Paige was sick with a fever of 103! She said she didn't mind keeping them, but I didn't want to chance them getting sick again and going through all of that again.

So (and here the drama begins), I looked at the clock and saw that it was 6:30 am and my mind began working furiously to organize what I needed to do before I had to leave for work at 7 am. I called Trevor's mom and she agreed to keep Nathan, and I told her that I would bring him to her house. Then I called the church daycare to see if they could keep Gracie for one day. Thankfully they were able to, and so I sprinted to the kitchen to get a lunch ready for Grace.

After slapping together a PB&J and filling a lunch bag with snacks and juice, I woke Grace up and lit a fire under Nathan to hurry up. Once Grace was dressed, I ran to the bathroom to quickly dry my hair and finish getting dressed. This morning was one of many mornings that I was thankful that I don't wear makeup, hence one less thing to do.

I made sure everyone had their teeth brushed and hair combed before collecting the last of the stuff that they would need during the day. I grabbed two packages of Pop-Tarts and 2 bananas for the kid's breakfast (nutrition was the last thing on my mind!) and sped out the door with 2 bags, 1 purse, 1 backpack, 1 pillow, 1 blanket and my keys. Whew!

Once I got the kids buckled in, I realized that I left my cell phone on the counter. Back into the house, relock the door and then off we went. I usually leave the house at 7 am and it was now 7:11 am and I was beginning to stress.

Would you believe that I was out of gas?

Diesel to be accurate, but either way I had to fuel up before I took Nathan out to Trevor's parent's house or I would run out. Auughhh! So I dropped Gracie off at church, and then pulled into the gas station to fill up the car. I pulled up next to the diesel pump and realized that the elderly man who was on the other side of the pump was using my nozzle.


Well, using it is not really accurate since he was just holding it as he carried on a very lively conversation with another gentleman about something farm related. I asked him if he was finished with the nozzle and he gave it back so I could use it. The other man gave me a dirty look as though I had committed some sort of social faux pas by requesting the use of the nozzle on my side of the pump, but I didn't care. I pumped just enough fuel to get me through the week and hit the road.

After dropping Nathan off, I had to take a back road though acres of farmland to get to work, and so I covered the car in a layer of dust in the process. We'll just add washing the car to the ever-lengthening list of things to do this week. By this time, it was 7:30 and I was just getting on the road to go to work. I made it on time, but I felt all out of sorts and rushed for the first hour or so of work.

So, here I am on my lunch break sitting quietly and trying to get some perspective. It seems silly now, that I was so stressed this morning. Everything was accomplished, the kids are safe and I didn't have to miss work. It was a good lesson for me. I need to step back when my life seems too crazy and just relax. Snapping at people when they call (sorry Kellye!) and fussing at the kids is not going to make the situation any better and I'll just feel badly about it later.

The thankful spirit that I had in those early morning moments in the shower should be there all the time, and not just when life is going the way I think it should. Thank you God. Thank you for taking care of me and for providing events that help shape my character and allow avenues for me to praise you more completely.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Building Anticipation

It's starting. The anticipation of seeing Trevor on Friday is starting to build and I am getting excited. The longer he is away, the more often (and longer) we seem to talk on the phone. It's at about this point that I start to allow myself to think about him, whereas it was too hard last week. When I thought too long and hard about how far away he was and how long it would be before he would be coming home, it would just upset me. But now that we have less than a week to go, I can look forward to his return without being sad about the fact that he's gone.

I think the kids are finally out of the woods with the fever. For the first time in 6 days, Nathan woke up with no fever and Gracie's was low grade. With any luck they will back at Heather's tomorrow and splashing in the wade pool again. They are really enjoying going over to her house and I will be glad to get them back on a schedule again. Silly things like schedules and order seem to fly out the window when there is fever and sickness involved!

Things at work are really insane right now. It's vacation season, and because of the recent merger with Memorial Hermann we are required to take several mandatory "indoctrination and propaganda" classes. The problem is that we have people off for vacation and it's a nightmare trying to find class times that correspond to days that everyone is here so that there is adequate coverage. In addition to all of the general classes, I am taking a few extra for administrative training to help Janet out. She has been trying to do the job of two people since Marilyn was let go, and the better trained I am in those areas, the better for all of us.

I need to make a list of things that I have to get done before Friday. Grace has a birthday party to attend Saturday and I need to purchase a gift. I want to cut the grass Thursday evening so it will be done for the weekend and we can just lounge around and enjoy having Trevor home. There are so many more items I need to add to the list and they are just swirling around in my head, irritating me.

I have this weird sense of peace when I finally commit them to paper because it's like I can let go of it. They will not be forgotten now that they are out of my head and on an orderly list. And there is that satisfying single black line through each item as it is completed. I live for those little black lines. Mentally putting the black line through the task doesn't even come close to real pen and paper. Again, we'll just chalk it up to my OCD tendencies with no comments from the peanut gallery.....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Magical Panties

Yesterday morning, after Grace didn't even make an effort to go to the bathroom and just squatted in the middle of the living room to relieve herself in her Pull-up, I decided to take charge. I have been very lax about her potty training since she has not shown any real interest in staying dry or clean, but she is 3 now and we need to buckle down.

So, off we went to her bedroom to search her top drawer for some panties. About a year ago I bought a package of Dora and a package of Curious George panties. At the time she was really into Dora and I thought that the idea of wearing big-girl panties would inspire her to potty train quickly. All those panties did was lead to many puddles of urine on my floor (and sometimes furniture), and the sinking feeling that she would never voluntarily use the toilet on her own.

As I dug down to the bottom of the drawer, I found the long forgotten Curious George panties. Eureka! This was something I could use to get her on board. There was also the potential use of her newly attained age...what 3 year old can resist praise just for being three? Anyway, as I pulled the panties out of the drawer, her eyes lit up like Christmas morning. Who would have thought that a cute little monkey would be such an incentive to use the bathroom? She squealed, "My Curious George panties!!!" and began ripping off her Pull-up.

I know this is going to be hard to believe if you are not a parent, but these panties are magical. The transformation in her behavior was immediate. She told me that she did not want to get George wet, and I found myself in the bathroom all day with her. I think that she ran to the bathroom every time she had the urge which meant that we would go through the whole ordeal for about 2 teaspoons of urine, but this was not the time for teaching the finer points of bathroom use. I was just overjoyed that she was staying dry. Excuse me, keeping George dry.

I was so proud of her at the end of the day, and I had a really hard time convincing her to wear a Pull-up to bed. She wanted to wear the panties, but I was firm about this one. We folded them carefully and put them on the bedside table to reassure her that they would be there tomorrow. I actually intended to sneak in and take them so I could wash them, but I forgot about them until later.

Grace had developed a fever and so I got up throughout the night to check her temperature and give her medicine as needed. When I went in for the first check, I almost laughed out loud when I saw her snuggled up with the George panties. She had thrown Puppy to the side and embraced the panties instead. I didn't dare move them for fear of upsetting her if she woke up and found them gone. During the next check, I woke her up a little when I took her temperature. She rolled over, and in a sleepy little voice said, "I want to wear my George panties." I reassured her that she could wear them first thing in the morning, and she quickly fell back asleep.

When she woke up this morning, the panties went on immediately and she has not had one accident. She even went by herself while I was in the shower. The real test will be whether or not she will get George dirty or not.

Happy 40th Anniversary Mama and Daddy! Thank you for getting married so that I exist.....

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Where the Red Fern Grows

I watched "Where the Red Fern Grows" for the first time since about 1984, and I'll be darned if I didn't cry like I did the first time I saw it! One of the many benefits of having children is the opportunity to see again all of the classics that I grew up on. I can recall watching it and "Old Yeller" at church camp and various functions year after year. By the time the movie was over there would be a roomful of kids either openly sobbing or at the very least sniffling and wiping their eyes.

Anyway, the reason I was watching it was because Nathan was getting bored with the same old movies he had been watching for an entire week, so I pulled it out thinking that he would be interested in seeing it. I also figured that it would have the added benefit of draining his sinuses...a little unorthodox, I know, but whatever works! To my surprise, he was completely disinterested in Old Dan and Little Ann and their adventures in coon hunting. His fever was lower than it had been in days, and he was feeling like getting up and playing. So I got engrossed in the movie and he and Grace crawled around under the fold out couch and ate lunch.

He did really well all morning, and his fever seemed to be waning but then we all laid down for a nap around 1 pm and when I checked on him at 1:30, he was burning up again and his fever was back up to 104.6. So, I covered him in ice packs and filled him with cold juice and popsicles again. I am starting to get really concerned about the source of his infection. His only symptoms are still congestion and a cough. No sore throat. Check. Ears don't hurt. Check. No rash. Check. If he wakes up tomorrow morning after having 3 doses of his antibiotic and he still has fever, I am going to seriously consider taking him to the ER. I don't relish the thought of sitting in the ER waiting room all day, but we have got to figure out what is causing this fever.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Home Sick Part II

I thought that Nathan was on the mend when his fever broke yesterday and he felt like getting out of bed. He ate a ham and cheese sandwich for supper and seemed more like himself. I dosed him with ibuprofen before going to bed to make sure he was comfortable.

He woke me up at 2 am with words that shot through my heart like a bolt of lightening, "I'm hot and my stomach hurts." If you recall, vomiting is a symptom of viral encephalitis and I was warned by his doctor to keep an eye out for it. I threw the covers back in a more than slight panic and asked him to repeat what he had said. As he was about to comply, he let out a burp that would make any audience of 6-10 year old boys cheer and then said, "Wait, no. I feel better." I nearly laughed out loud in relief and then went about the business of taking his temperature and dosing him.

I looked at the read-out in horror....106.2 degrees. 106.2 degrees? 106.2 DEGREES! I felt like Chekhov when he realized he was on the Botany Bay. (If you are not a Trekkie, just carry on smartly and don't worry about the reference) I quickly gave him his medicine and gave him ice packs for his neck, armpits and groin. I stayed up with him until he fell asleep and checked him after 40 minutes to make sure that he was cooling off before I went back to bed.

So, here we are at home again, waiting for the fever to break. He has a follow-up appointment at 2:30 pm with Dr. Gilley, so we'll see what she says. Hopefully she will reconfirm her original diagnosis of a viral infection and we won't need any additional tests that require needles. Nathan starts freaking out at the mention of blood or shots and he gets himself so worked up that he is hard to control when it's time to administer whatever is prescribed.

As a side note, I went outside this morning as I was talking to Mama on the phone and saw how beautiful my bougainvillea was. I bought two hanging baskets when we put the deck cover in and they didn't seem to be doing very well. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, but I just kept watering them and giving them sun. When I really looked at them today, I realized that every vine was heavy with healthy blooms. I took some pictures of them and included them below.

Powered by <span class=Smilebox" src="" width=386>
Click to play Make your own Smilebox


We went to the MD today as planned and she was concerned about the fact that Nathan's fever had not gone away. She ordered more blood work and a chest x-ray and so we went to the hospital to have it taken. Nathan was not entirely thrilled with the radiology department, but I was impressed as our wait from registration to exam completion was only about 30 minutes.

Anyway, Dr. Gilley called me on my cell as we were nearing home and told me that the x-ray was negative for pneumonia, but that she wanted me to go ahead and start Nathan on a heavy-duty antibiotic since the cause of the fever was still unknown. So, we'll wait and see what happens tonight and tomorrow morning. Hopefully the antibiotic will kick in and he will be feeling better in the morning. Either way, I was instructed to call the MD first thing Monday morning to give her an update.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

No More Curious George!

I would give cash money to the person who could promise me that I would never have to watch another episode of Curious George. Now don't get me wrong....Curious George is great, and the show on PBS is educational and fun. I just wish Nathan and Grace would find another television show that they want to watch.

Trevor and I recently realized how much TV the kids were actually watching, and so we decided that they needed to spend more time outside. When he is home, we spend a good many of our evenings outside on the deck watching them play on the swing set or running around playing tag. But the combination of Nathan being sick and the weather being hot, has forced us indoors for the last several days and I am pretty much sick of Curious George.

When I have the audacity to suggest something else for our viewing pleasure, I am shut down with identical, dual looks of incredulity and cries of "No! Curious George!" So I sigh and sit back down for the 329th viewing of the episode where George breaks his leg. Then we watch the one where he refuses to take a bath. Then we watch....well, you get the general picture here.

I was overjoyed to see that Nathan's fever had broken today because I am happy that he is not miserable anymore. I am sad to report that I was almost as happy at the thought of no more marathon Curious George viewing and that our night life would be back to normal soon. Not only does the hour or two of outdoor play keep the kids in shape, it also tires them out so they sleep well at night. I am all about the things that tire the kids out. Seriously.

So, Nathan is feeling better and my sanity is returning. I have to say that I was really lucky that Gracie was not sick too, and that although I am congested I did not have fever to deal with. All in all, this episode was not as bad as it could have been. When one of the kids is sick, I am reminded of how fragile life is (it comes with the territory when you are a worrier) and how grateful I am that I have healthy, happy children.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Home Sick

Last Sunday night, Nathan had a low-grade fever. No big deal. He was a little stuffy with a mild fever. When he woke up Monday morning it was gone and so I sent him to Heather's for the day. We had dinner with Kenneth and Kellye that evening and Nathan seemed to be having a great time with Kaben and didn't seem out of sorts or sick.

Tuesday morning he got up with no problems and went to Heather's again. When I picked him up around 4 pm, he was lying on her couch covered with a blanket because he had a chill. When I got him home his temperature was 102.1. I started dosing him with ibuprofen and by the time he went to bed, his fever was gone but I gave him a dose of Tylenol anyway to make sure he was comfortable during the night.

Around 4 am he came in my bedroom to tell me that his head was hot and his body was cold. I did a double-take when I saw the numbers 103.6 on the thermometer. He felt so bad and there wasn't really anything I could do about it. I gave him another dose of ibuprofen and sent him back to bed. When he woke up at 7 am, he still had a mild fever, but it was on the non-scary side of the scale. I decided to stay home with him and take him to the pediatrician.

Normally, when Nathan has a fever Trevor and I just sort of blow it off. He's had viral fevers since he was an infant and once we got used to seeing the upper limits on the thermometer read-out we just dose him up with Advil and Tylenol and wait 24 hours. That's the normal life cycle of his fevers, but this one was going on 3 days and I didn't want to take any chances on strep or an ear infection.

We got an appointment for 10:20 am and I broke one of my cardinal rules of riding in the car: I let him forgo the booster seat and lie down in the back seat so he could sleep. We brought his pillows and a blanket and he slept the entire way to the doctor. When we arrived we were taken to a room pretty quickly and he promptly fell asleep on the exam table. I sat next to him waiting for Dr. Gilley to find her way to us.

She did a rapid strep test as well as blood work (and I just thought getting a shot was traumatic), and both were negative. She felt like it was a virus, but wanted to see him again on Friday to make sure that he was on the mend. I was told to continue on with the alternate doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol. As she was walking out she mentioned that if he vomited I should take him directly to the ER.


I asked her why I should be concerned about vomiting and she said that viral encephalitis causes increased pressure on the brain which often causes vomiting and headaches. To my credit I did not go into an immediate panic. I waited until I got about halfway home and started imagining the worst. I think Nathan was a little irritated with me because I kept waking him up to ask him if his stomach or head hurt.

Once home I got him settled on the fold out couch (he loves it) with a popsicle and a movie. I then went directly to Google to check out the signs and symptoms of viral encephalitis. Of course I else would I know what to worry about? It turns out that the chances of Nathan actually having viral encephalitis is very low, so I stopped being so freaked out about it.

It's funny how he looks so grown up when he's outside climbing the tree or riding his bike, but when he's sick he looks so little. When he's well he can't be bothered with too many hugs and kisses...he's way too busy for all that. But when he's sick he wants me close to stroke his hair and keep him supplied with cold drinks, and I am happy to oblige. It's one of the perks (and sometimes curse) of being a mother...they only want me when they are really sick. Trevor won't do. They want me and that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling way down deep.

So, Nathan is sleeping on the couch and I have stocked the kitchen with popsicles, soup and Sprite. Trevor's mom is coming tomorrow to keep him for me since I think that he will be too weak to got to Heather's and I don't want her to have to baby him all day. Hopefully with another day of rest and unlimited amounts of Sprite and frozen treats he will be well on his way to a full recovery.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Is Trevor Really in China?

As I was driving home last night I received a phone call from Kenneth inviting me and the kids over for dinner. I had made chicken and dumplings the night before so I wouldn't have to cook Monday, but quickly revised my plans in favor of grilled chicken with friends.

When we arrived at 5:30 pm, Kellye was still on her way home from work, so I sampled the veggies on the stove and chatted with Kenneth for a little while. Nathan was a little upset that Kaben wasn't home yet, but that soon changed and the boys went directly to Kaben's room to play video games.

At this point, I have to say that Gracie did not want to play with Kate....she wanted to play with Kaben. He is so good with little kids, and Gracie adores him. When I told her we were going to Kaben and Kate's house for dinner, all she could say was "We're going to Kaben's house?!" He is so gentle and sweet with her (and Kate) and I never worry about her when Kaban is around. He is careful to not be too rough and always seems to be aware of her whereabouts. This is in stark contrast to her own brother who frequently plows into her small body without a backwards look.

Dinner was great as it always is when I don't have to cook. It was nice to have adult company since I am missing my adult at home. It was equally as nice to spend time with good friends. We didn't stay long because I needed to get the kids home, bathed and ready for bed at 8 pm.

Once the kids were down, I sat down at the computer to check email and surf for a bit before it was time for me to hit the sack. Trevor nudged me on the instant messenger and we chatted for a little while before I went to bed. I informed him that I had never actually seen him board a plane for China and accused him of holing up in Houston in a five star hotel living on room service. He did not deny the charge, so I am still pondering that theory. Maybe I can escape with him for a few days.

Anyway, I ended my Monday curled up with a big, fat book reading myself to sleep in bed. It's probably one of my favorite things to do. The only thing that would have made it better is if it had been raining, but we can't have everything! All in all it was a good day and I was thankful once again for friends who care and for the simple things in my life that make me so content.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fads and Fashion Trends, Part II

This was an article posted on a local Houston news station website.
I think this totally supports my feeling about all the new fads.....

Rolling Shoes Causing Injuries To Kids
Doctors Suggest Protective Equipment

Trendy wheeled sneakers that let kids zip down sidewalks, across playgrounds and through mall crowds could also send them rolling into emergency rooms on a stretcher, say doctors who blame a rash of injuries on the international craze.

It's called "heeling," named after Heelys, the most popular brand. They're sold in 70 countries and are so hot that their Carrollton, Texas, maker, Heelys Inc., recently landed atop BusinessWeek's annual list of fastest growing companies.

But doctors from Ireland to Singapore have reported treating broken wrists, arms and ankles; dislocated elbows and even cracked skulls in children injured while wearing roller shoes. Over a 10-week period last summer, 67 children were treated for injuries from Heelys or strap-on wheels called Street Gliders at Temple Street Children's University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, according to a report in the June edition of Pediatrics.

From September 2005 through December 2006, one death and at least 64 roller-shoe injuries were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a spokesman said last week.
And doctors in Singapore reported last year that 37 children had been treated for similar injuries at a hospital there during a seven-month period in 2004. None were wearing protective gear.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, based in Rosemont, Ill., this week is issuing new safety advice that recommends helmets, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads for kids who wear wheeled shoes.

"As these shoes are sold in department stores, parents buying them may develop a false sense of security - that they are like any other shoe," said Dr. James Beaty, academy president and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Memphis.

Heelys and their knockoffs look like gym shoes, but with wheel sockets in each heel. They can be used for walking, but the wheels pop out when users shift their weight to their heels.
Balancing on the wheels can be tricky, especially for novices. In the Irish study, most injuries were in new users and occurred when kids fell backward while trying to transfer their body weight.

Dr. Leon Benson of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Evanston, Ill., recalled treating a 9-year-old girl who'd had her Heelys for just a week when she fell and broke both wrists.
Nine-year-old Noah Woelfel of Davidsonville, Md., wasn't a novice but still tripped and fell, breaking several fingers and wrist bones in his right hand last year.

"All it took was a tiny piece of gravel in the driveway that went up in the wheel and stopped him cold," said his mother, Nancy. "He required surgery and pins, and he was six weeks without using his hand, right at the beginning of school."

She threw the removable wheels away and said other parents should know about the risks.
Dr. Dominic Catanese, a foot specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said balancing on heels can strain feet and Achilles tendons. He has treated several Heelys-related ankle injuries and won't let his 7-year-old daughter have the shoes.

"She wants them. Not happening. Just like I took away her trampoline" after reading about trampoline injuries. "It went right to Goodwill," Catanese said.

Heelys in April said a study it commissioned shows that their shoes have a safer injury rate than skateboarding, inline skating and even swimming.

The shoes are sold with safety information including a recommendation to wear protective gear.
The company says it has shipped more than 10 million pairs since their introduction in 2000. Heelys reported first-quarter income of $8.5 million, five times higher than last year.
Still, some walkers find heelers who zip in and out of crowds a nuisance, and many schools and shopping malls have banned them.

Kelly Ford, 14, used to cruise down the halls of her Chicago grammar school in Heelys - a practice that led teachers to confiscate some kids' wheels.

Now a high school freshman, Ford has outgrown her Heelys. She said kids who wear them won't pay much attention to safety warnings.

"I don't think any kid is going to want to wear a helmet to school," Ford said.
She thinks Heelys are being unfairly targeted.

"It's just like, let your kid have fun. I think they're fine," Ford said.

There is a notice on the Heelys Web site that says, "We always recommend that anyone who attempts to use HEELYS in any capacity should ALWAYS wear full protective gear, including: helmets, wrist, elbow, and knee pads."

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Taking the Wheel

This is the first day that it has really hit me that Trevor is gone. As I was loading the kids up for church this morning I was strangely aware of his absence. It has become such a ritual for us to attend church as a family, and I missed having him in the driver's seat.

When we got home, the kids wanted to use the water sprinkler toy that Grace had received for her birthday. I had them change into their bathing suits as I got lunch ready for them. This was easier than you might think since it only involved unloading the Happy Meal boxes onto plates and squirting some ketchup on the side. As they began eating, I slathered them down with sunscreen and then dashed outside to start mowing a section of grass that they could play in.

Trevor had mowed last Monday so it wasn't too high, but I knew that it couldn't wait until this Friday to be cut again. I was hoping to have the entire section done by the time the kids finished lunch and got out there, but no such luck. They stood there on the edge of the deck patiently waiting for me to finish. As soon as there was enough area to set the sprinkler in, I stopped and got everything hooked up for them.

As they began squealing with glee at the water hitting them in the face, I ran back to the mower as I realized that the water's reach far exceeded my calculations. I powered back up and cut in a ridiculously haphazard pattern in an effort to get all of the grass that was being sprayed. Needless to say the lawn was not being cut in my usual methodical way, and it irritated my OCD just a little, but the kids were having such a good time that I didn't let it bother me for long. It actually turned into a game to see how quickly I could get the grass cut before it became soaked.

It worked out well that as I was finishing the grass, the kids were growing tired of the water. I stripped them down to bare skin on the deck so I could rinse off all of the wet grass sticking to them. They looked so cute running around with no clothes on. It won't be long now before they are too old (and modest) to do things like that. I got them clean and dry and in the house and before long, Grace was out like a light.

The whole weekend had been exhausting for all of us, but especially for Grace. She offered no resistance to the suggestion of a nap and she slept for most of the afternoon. Nathan claimed to be wide awake and not sleepy at all, so we watched a few of the Harry Potter movies together. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon and I was glad to have had nothing planned.

I look forward to the week ahead with more than a little apprehension since I won't have Trevor to take over when I reach my breaking point with the kids. This will be a good opportunity to work (once again) on my patience and breathing technique. I will also be able to review my numbers since I have the feeling that I will be counting to ten (and beyond) more than once.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Birthday Party

Gracie's birthday party was today and we had a great time. I am exhausted now, but it was worth the effort. We had 7 kids and 10 adults which was a perfect ratio as far as I was concerned!

Mama was in town for the party and I was so glad to have her here this morning as I was trying to finish cleaning and decorating. We made the cake last night, but we did pretty much everything else today. There was a banana pudding to make, balloons to blow up with the helium tank and drinks to put on ice just to name a few. Between the two of us, we worked from the time we got up until the party started at 2 pm.

The kids played outside for a while and then we had cake and opened presents. Gracie was so polite...she said thank you to each person as she opened the gift. Well, I say she was polite. She started thanking people because Kaben leaned over and whispered etiquette instructions in her ear. Kellye and I thought it was pretty funny.

After the presents were opened and the cake was eaten, we moved on to the pin the tail on the donkey. Except instead of a donkey it was Curious George holding an ice cream cone and instead of a tail it was candy sprinkles for the ice cream. So I guess that means it wasn't pin the tail on the donkey at all, but the kids still had a good time. Gracie's friend Nate got the closest and so he received a Curious George coloring book as a prize. (Nathan actually put the topping exactly on the cone, but I think there might have been a little peeking going on.)

After that, we went outside beat the pinata to smithereens which the kids really loved. There is something about having permission to destroy an object with no retaliation or punishment. It's a situation where you are rewarded for being destructive and what kid doesn't get into that!? After the little ones had their turns, we let Nathan and Kaben got to town so that the candy would actually end up on the ground.

After the candy and toys were collected and tucked away in goodie bags, the party quickly disintegrated. It was pretty hot and the kids were getting tired and a little cranky. We tried to get a picture of all of the kids together, but Nick (Trevor's nephew) refused to sit with the other kids. He pitched a screaming fit, but Charly got him to sit long enough for me to snap a picture without any adults in it. I included it in the scrapbook below, and you'll notice that the other kids are completely disinterested in the whole situation. Oh well...we tried!

All in all it was a good time and I'm so glad that everyone was able to come. I really missed Trevor, but I know that he will enjoy seeing the pictures and videos. So now I have almost an entire year before I have to plan another birthday party and that just thrills me to death!

Gracie's 3rd Birthday Party
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