Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Simply Sweet


Check out the fabulous giveaway at Kari Gibson's "My Crazy Adoption" blog!

The Grand Giveaway Winner will receive-

* 2 Simply Love T shirts (you choose!)
* 1 Free Pass (Courtesy of Disney) to the NEW Princess and the Frog movie.
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* Kisses From Katie handmade Ugandan beaded necklace (extra-long & beautiful)
* Her 2 Children’s books- Mookie Series
* 1 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (Zoie’s favorite)
* Sugar Cookie mix & mit for kids.
* Chick Flick- Julia & Julia (Meryl Streep rocks in this DVD)
* $20 Starbucks Gift Card

You win a value of $180 in gifts! This is a wonderful blog of encouragement and support for families considering adoption.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Homeschooling with a 2-Year-Old

You know, I thought our homeschooling experience last year was interesting, with Isaac being mobile and all.

It had nothing on what this year is turning out to be! Last year, he was fairly content to play by himself with is cars or whatever I had out, as long as I was in the same room. Sometimes I'd find him, say, standing on the dining room table, if I hadn't been paying close enough attention, but for the most part, it wasn't so bad.

Fast forward to this year, and it's an entirely different ballgame! He is not happy to play with his toys when his big sisters are doing something that is clearly much more interesting. In fact, he seems to think he can do a better job of teaching than I can. He seems to be particularly fond of math.

He does an outstanding job with the story problems, too.

Truthfully, I believe the appeal lies in the white board and markers. I finally gave him his own little white board, and that keeps him busy for at least a little while. It's not easy to keep him contained when he can climb out of the Pack n' Play and pull the baby gates open. Good thing he's so cute.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

U2 360° Concert!

My friend Micki and I went to the U2 concert last night! We had a great time.

A band called Muse opened for them, and while I had never heard of them and couldn't understand what they were singing, I enjoyed their set. To tell you how clueless I was, I had no idea there would be an opening band, and had a discussion with Micki about whether Muse was the title of U2's latest album or not. I insisted that they did not have an opening band and it must have been the name of the album. She showed me our tickets and wondered why, then, it was called the 360° tour. I told her it was because the stage was set up in the round. I do like to be right, you know, and I can make things up effortlessly. Come to find out I was wrong on all 3 counts and had to ADMIT IT, too, because Micki also likes to be right.

The stage was really interesting. I had no idea what it was supposed to be until Bono explained that it was a rocket ship and they were going for "intimacy on a grand scale." Sure enough, the four green legs looked like a launch pad and the rocket was on top! It lit up and everything. They also had a ramp all around the circular stage (playing on the whole 360° thing) and then mobile ramps that went from the stage to the outer circle, so the band could get closer to the crowd. I've seen concerts in the round before - Def Leppard comes to mind - and it's really a cool thing. We were sitting on the side of the stage, but we got to see everyone in front of us at some point in the show (although we were up so high, it didn't matter, and we were dependent on the screens).

U2 did some really neat stuff with the crowd. Bono pulled a young man, probably around 12 years old, up on stage with him while he sang... something. I can't remember. But he ran around the outer ramp with him, and gave the boy his Cyborg glasses, and I'm sure that young man will remember that for the rest of his life. Bono also gave the microphone to someone in the audience and let him sing a verse of "People Get Ready." I read another review that panned those parts of the show, but I thought it made for great crowd connection - seeking that intimacy.

Micki and I were fortunate enough to sit by a dedicated U2 fan who did know all the words, and she answered my questions a time or two when, say, I wasn't sure if they were actually singing a U2 song. She looked at me a little strangely, but she was very nice. I felt like a goober for not knowing what was going on but my curiosity got the best of me and I had to know.

The set list for U2 is as follows, which I snagged from this site:

1. Breathe
2. Get On Your Boots
3. Mysterious Ways *
4. Beautiful Day* / C Moon (snippet)
5. No Line On The Horizon
6. Magnificent
7. Elevation
8. In A Little While
9. New Year's Day*
10. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For* / Stand By Me (snippet)
11. Stuck In A Moment
12. The Unforgettable Fire
13. Mofo (snippet) / City Of Blinding Lights
14. Vertigo
15. Crazy Tonight / Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again) (snippet)
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah (snippet) / People Get Ready (snippet)
17. MLK
18. Walk On* / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)

19. One* / Amazing Grace (snippet)
20. Where The Streets Have No Name*
21. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
22. With Or Without You*
23. Moment of Surrender

I have to confess that while I normally spend a lot of time listening to the right music to gear up for a concert, I didn't do that this time, and I do regret it. I love to know all the words and be able to sing along, because that lets me really connect with the music. The songs with asterisks in the list above are the ones I actually knew - a total of 7. The acoustics were awful, which I suppose goes along with it being held in a football stadium, so I couldn't understand what they were singing and frankly they sounded like a grunge band (which was my first indication that something might be up with the acoustics).

I couldn't find a list of songs for Muse, which is too bad, because I liked them too, and they sound a lot different on iTunes! A woman I spoke to at the concert, who really likes Muse, told me their sound is like Queen meets... she was at a loss for words. They sounded nothing like Queen at the concert and I thought perhaps it was her beer talking, but when I listened to some of their stuff after I got home, I could see what she meant.

All in all, it was a great concert. I'm glad I went, and I'm glad I can say I saw U2! My only regret, like I said, is that I didn't spend more time listening up before the show. Lesson re-learned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crash, but not Burn

Yesterday, I was in a car accident. Someone pulled out in front of me, I swerved, missed her vehicle... but rolled my car into the ditch. I know the van only tipped over onto its roof, but it felt like long enough for it to roll several times. Those slow-motion scenes you see on television do a pretty accurate job of representing how things seem to your brain, I think, during highly stressful situations.

While this was not an experience I would care to repeat, the hand of God was on me the entire time. I have never felt like a walking miracle before, but I do now! Let me tell you why.

First of all, my children weren't with me. Since we homeschool, this almost never happens. I am so, so grateful that they were not hurt, and don't have to suffer any of the psychological after effects of being in a car accident.

I can only guess that the other driver was picking up children from the school near our house. Since I didn't hit the other car, no children were involved in the accident at all. And, since I didn't hit the other driver, she wasn't injured, either.

I got to experience my first ride in an ambulance and first visit as a patient to the emergency room, but I could have walked away from the accident. I have "whiplash," a black eye, and some cuts and bruises, but that's it. As my friend Ginny said, there are many people who have experienced a lot less accident and received a lot more injury.

The other driver took full responsibility at the scene. This may not seem like a big deal, but in the world of insurance and liability, it really is.

Poor Ariel Mermaid didn't survive the crash, I'm afraid. I don't think most cars do, when they end up upside down.

She even had some guts hanging out, poor thing.

The girls are so sad that we lost our van - we really did like having her! We're on the hunt for a new car. Used or new? Honda? Toyota? Who knows?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Three Children's Books We Love

I have a passion for children's books. There, I've confessed. The primary reason we have so many, aside from homeschooling, is that I love them. It's a bonus if the kids like them, too.

I've been reading two books to Isaac lately that I wanted to share. The first one is called Hush, Little One.

Grammy and Papa gave Abbie her first copy when she was a toddler, and we went through two of them. The girls and I were even in a magazine add for Concordia Press after I sent them an email telling them how much we enjoyed the book. It presents the Gospel to children in such a sweet, gentle way, and you can sing the rhyme to the tune of "Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird." Remember that song? Of course, you can read it, too, if you don't like to sing. Sometimes the girls would ask me to sing it, and sometimes they wanted me to "talk it." Emma used to say, "Emma's prayers by Jesus are heard!" It just melted my heart.

I will tell you that I prefer the hardcover version, published in 2002. That's the one Abbie had. I found the board book for Isaac at Lifeway, and while I love being able to share the book with him in a format that he's less likely to change the story, the rhyme has been revised somewhat and I don't like it as well. I'm sure it's primarily because I expect the first version, but I do prefer the way the first version refers to Jesus rather than Christ as they do in the board book; it seems more personal to me. I think it was rewritten to fit better with the rhythm of the song, as I look it over, but I still prefer the original.

Another book that Isaac and I love is Where is the Green Sheep? It's a fun little book by Mem Fox. (I am partial to Mem Fox. Another of our favorite bedtime stories is Time For Bed.)

This little book shows lots of neat things. It has opposites, colors, shapes, and familiar activities. Isaac's favorite is the "slide sheep." He always says "Whee!" and traces the path of the slide with his finger. He likes "sheepies" right now, anyway, so I make sure we take this book when we go out and always have it ready at bedime.

Last, but not least, I must tell you about one of my all-time favorites.

I found this wonderful little book in Borders in Ann Arbor (the first Borders, ever, by the way) and bought it for my niece when she was little - she's now a sophomore in high school. I try to give it to everyone I know when they have children. I have read it more times than I can count, and I still love it! It's called Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw. It is so funny, and so fun to read, if you haven't read it yet, you should at least get it from the library.

There you have them - Book recommendations by Beth. I just thought of some more, but I'll save those for another day.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Hedwig Sock #1

This is the sock that Beth knit.

This is a foot, cozy and warm, wearing the sock that Beth knit.

This is a foot, sad and forlorn, out in the cold and suffering scorn, for it has no sock that Beth knit.

This is the yarn, ready to go, wishing to cover the other toes, and match the sock that Beth knit.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Birthday, Beeps and Books

Today, my baby turned 2 years old. I don't know where the time has gone!

We actually started his birthday on Saturday, when Daddy put together his nifty John Deere tricycle from Grandma and Grandpa. He loves it! He doesn't really get how to pedal just yet, but he will walk it around, and put things in the bucket for dumping later. I learned that day that his favorite things to put in the buckets are flowers picked from our neighbor's mailbox flower bed, and that his sister seems to think it's fine to let him pick them...

We were supposed to go to the beach today. Isaac LOVES the beach. He's been asking to go to the beach with Grandpa for several days now, in fact. When we looked at the weather forecast for Wilmington last night, it showed a fairly nice morning, but thunderstorms for the rest of the day. We thought we'd still chance it, and even if we spent the afternoon at the aquarium, it would still be a good day.

However, when we got up this morning and checked again, it looked like thunderstorms had already started, with no sign of letting up all week. Todd and I decided we needed to revise the plan. Three hours is a long drive for the aquarium, when all a tiny boy wants is to go to the beach.

We started off with Hopper's House, a nifty jumping place in our neighborhood. All three kids had a blast, and Isaac was not interested in leaving when it came time for lunch! However, once we got to Moe's, he ate his lunch, part of mine, and some queso and chips. Then, it was off to A.C. Moore with a coupon for a new "Thomas." Isaac does love his "too-tooch."

After making our final Thomas selections, we headed home for a nap. I got in a little knitting time and Todd got to play with his new Mac software. :-) I was able to take Abbie to gymnastics and watch her, which was a big treat for me! Todd stayed home and played trains with the boy, and even took him outside for an hour or so, which was another big treat. Isaac loves to be "outside sunshine."

Abbie and I brought home the pizza and the cake. Isaac at a little bit of his pizza, but he was really holding out for "cake-cake." I don't know why he likes to say it twice, but it's pretty cute. I think he blew the candles out twice before Todd wised up and held him back so we could sing and take a video.

After cake, we gave him his presents, which were comprised of books and "beeps." Isaac has called vehicles of any type, really, "beeps" since he started talking a few months ago. He does call buses "b-bus," airplanes are "air p'dane," and boats are "booooot" with a lovely U.P. accent. In general though, they are collectively known as beeps. Anyhoo, he got enough beeps to keep him busy for a good long while, I think.

The one thing we didn't get out was his new scooter. If the weather holds tomorrow, we will get that out and play "outside sunshine."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The New School Year

Well, we were supposed to start school this week, but we all have colds, so I'm putting it off until Sept. 1. My birthday was today, and Isaac's is next Monday, so I think we will just wait until all the celebrations are over and then buckle down.

I'm excited about our curriculum for this year! We're using Living Books Curriculum Year 3, which covers Ancient Greece and Rome for world history, and Westward Expansion for U.S. history. The girls will also learn Bible, storytelling and science from our LBC materials. We will do picture studies of ancient Greek and Roman art, as well as art in early America. We will do composer studies of ancient Greek music, Palestrina, Vivaldi, and Bach. They also start Shakespeare this year.

Since Emma is in 4th grade this year, I have to teach North Carolina history. I would rather teach Michigan history, but I suppose there will be time for that after we meet the requirement for NC. It will be good for us to learn about North Carolina, since I've lived here for 11 years now and the kids are natives. :-) I have a North Carolina history textbook, as well as some other, more fun things to use. I'm also hoping to include a few field trips.

We will still use Math U See, and I think it will be a lot of fun. We're going to spend a lot of time on math this year, so that we can get caught up. The girls are both good at math - time for the mama to stop worrying about it so much!

We will use Simply Grammar for language arts, and I'm thrilled with that. It looks excellent. It includes everything I would want to teach them, but wouldn't know where to start. They should be able to do it independently, too, which is great. I need them to start being a little more independent so I can keep an eye on Isaac and still get some school done.

We're also still using All About Spelling. I love this program! The girls do really well with it. It's funny to see that they do so well when we're specifically working on spelling, but when they're writing on their own, they forget to apply what they've learned. It's also pretty funny that Emma looks at Abbie to spell words for her! Emma just doesn't want to think about it herself, I think. She's such a perfectionist.

We're going to start Latin studies this year, using Lively Latin's Big Book of Latin I. It looks like a lot of fun, and will go along nicely with our studies of ancient Rome.

My plans include a lot of language arts, and we may end up backing off some of them. I'll have to see. We could probably let go of other grammar and stick to Latin, for example, but I hate to do that. Anyhoo, these are the plans as they stand today. I hope the girls are as excited for school to start as I am!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Great Board Book!

I found this book yesterday at Borders in Apex for $2.99:

Isaac LOVES it, and it's very cute. Anything that makes noise is good in his world. The little frogs stand out of the book similarly to the ladybugs in Ten Little Ladybugs, which the girls both loved at this age. Additionally, the frogs have little levers on their back which you push down to make them croak! I'm fairly certain that was the big selling point for the Snort.

For those of you who are, shall we say, more educationally inclined, the book takes the frogs and other pond critters through the seasons, and it rhymes. I love rhyming books. It makes the reading go faster, which is important when you read the same books over... and over... and over...

I would like to get the other book by this author:

I don't remember seeing it on the bargain books rack, though. Maybe I will go back and check - it would be an inexpensive birthday present for my almost-2-year-old! In fact, I may go back and get copies of the frog book for all my toddler friends for Christmas. Just wanted to let you know it is there - it's a great little book! If you happen to have a small child to whom I am likely to give a gift, please don't buy it. :-)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I love this picture!

funny pictures of cats with captions

They have a lot of funny cat pictures, too. Actually, if you can stand the bad spelling (which is on purpose, but still REALLY bugs me), they have a lot of funny pictures. For instance:

funny pictures of cats with captions

And this one:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

It's possible that I am easily amused. So what? You're laughing too. So there!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you had a lovely day! I did. My children, even Isaac, all made me cards. I got to go shopping (for groceries) by myself. And, Todd gave me a wonderful blue Googles Webkinz, which I love. I took Abbie to the doctor for some awful bug bites, and then took their beds all apart and cleaned them and changed the sheets to try to get rid of whatever is biting her. I suspect spiders. It was, all in all, the day of every mother's dreams. :-)

My inlaws forwarded me this sweet video. Enjoy!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cool Duck Story!

My inlaws forwarded me this story about ducks in San Antonio, TX. It's really, really neat. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Isaac At 18 Months

Isaac had his 18 month checkup last week at the pediatrician's office. He weighed in at 31 pounds, and measured 36 inches tall. He's the size of your average 29 month old child. They decided to call his breathing issues "asthma," and we will be using inhaled steroids with him for the foreseeable future, but other than that, everything is great!

Apparently in honor of this grand proclamation, he decided to start climbing out of his crib. I was not in the least prepared for him to do that, I have to tell you. The first time he did it, it was the middle of the night. I heard him cry out, then a thud, and then he started to scream. When I rushed to his room to get him, he had the lights on and he opened the door for me.

The next day, my good friend Jeni gave me her toddler bed. I had Todd take the crib down and I got that set up for him. He would not stay in it. So, I had Todd put the crib back up and hoped he'd scared himself well enough when he fell out that he wouldn't do it again. We considered ordering a crib tent.

The next morning at around 5:30 am, I heard his sweet little voice chattering away as he came wandering into our room. Clearly, my hopes were in vain that he would voluntarily stay in his "cage" once he'd figured out how to set himself loose.

At this point, I was in a dither. I knew he couldn't stay in the crib, but wasn't sure I wanted to go the tent route. Friday night he stayed in without incident, so my hopes were renewed - until he fell out Saturday at nap time and hit his head on the floor, giving himself a nice bump and a rug burn on his forehead. Clearly, we could not leave him in the crib, but Todd was not excited about taking the crib down again, either. We ended up taking one side off and putting up a bed rail, left over from when the girls transitioned into twin beds. I put a doorknob cover on the inside, both to keep him from escaping and also to prevent him locking the door, so that I don't have to search out that rotten little key in the wee hours of the morning.

It took a couple of nights of him waking up to play in the middle of the night, but he did start sleeping through again. He's still getting up much earlier than I would like, but the lack of screaming is wonderful.

Today, while I was telling some friends about our escapades with Isaac, he came trotting down the hall. I prayed that I had just left his door the tiniest bit open and went down to check how he'd gotten out. He had taken his little stool over to the door and taken the doorknob cover off. Bless his little pea-pickin' heart!

I feel like I should call professional baby-proofers, but at least he's sleeping again. We decided against the crib tent, because he's so tall, I think he would be able to unzip it. I'm still having a difficult time wrapping my brain around having an 18 month old child who is no longer contained in a crib, but I suppose I will eventually get over it. :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One More Word About Wednesday

Well, not really about Wednesday, per se, but you know.

Today the girls and I saw a Northern Flicker at our bird feeder! It was the first one any of us had ever seen. I'm nearly certain it was a female, because the males have a distinctive black stripe on their cheek that this one didn't have. It was only there for a moment, but I thought it was a funny-looking Red-Bellied Woodpecker until I looked it up in the bird book. I'm also fairly confident that it was of the yellow-shafted variety, because after reviewing the bird book, it's highly unlikely that there would be a red-shafted one this far east.

Isn't it fun when you get to add a new bird to your life list? Whee!

Wordless Wednesday

Wordy Wednesday

I am supposed to be using the 30-day trial of the Simply Charlotte Mason online planner, but I decided to blog instead while all the kids are sleeping.

We had a fun school day today. We've been reading Peeps At Many Lands: Ancient Egypt by James Baikie to go along with our history lessons, but I couldn't find it this morning. So, we got out The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt (Landmark Books) by Elizabeth Payne, which we are supposed to be reading, instead. It was a good chapter on the turmoil that occurred after the Pharaoh Cheops died, and the priests and nobles decided to rewrite the Egyptian religion.

One thing we read that piqued our interest was their idea of what happened to souls when they went to the underworld. They had to face judgment before Osiris, and if they were found guilty of any of 42 mortal sins, "...a great beast would pad forward from the shadows, fangs bared - a beast part crocodile, part lion, part hippopotamus. The guilty man would be devoured on the spot, and that would be the end of his hopes for a life everlasting."

Kinda makes you grateful for Jesus, doesn't it?

Anyhoo, the girls and I thought it would be fun to draw a picture of such a monster, because we were having a hard time picturing a combination of those three animals that would work. I did a little Googling, and could not find anything on this creature. In fact, most of what I saw said that the beast was Babi, a baboon, who would come out and eat the guilty souls. I found pictures of the three animals instead and took them down for the girls to use in their pictures.

Naturally, by the time I got back down there, they were well into their drawings so I let them have at it. This is what they came up with. I think Emma and I had the same issues trying to come up with a viable version of this creature. Hers is named "Bestey" (a creative variant of Beastie):

Abbie had a better idea of what she thought it would be. Hers is named "Bessy the Very Scary Beasty," and has the head of a lion, body of a hippo, and bumpy back and tail of a crocodile:

Isn't homeschooling fun? I love this stuff!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bird Sightings

Yesterday I had a fun bird experience. We've had this one bird hanging around that does not seem to be as afraid of us as the rest. When I let Toby out, and all the other birds fly away, it looks around and seems to say, "What? I don't see anything!"

When I let the dog out, the bird stayed on the feeder and I realized I couldn't see its face. It was asleep, and it didn't notice the door opening or the big, black dog thundering down the deck stairs. I was able to go back in and get my camera, and take some pictures. I even got to pet it, and it didn't wake up.

Here it is asleep:

And from another angle:

It did eventually wake up and look at me a tad suspiciously, but it still didn't fly off.

Finally, it decided to go eat some more and ignore me again.

I tried to take a picture of my hand petting it, but I'm not that coordinated. It was a cute bird, though. I think it might be a young pine siskin. I hope it's not sick, but I don't suppose I will get to know that definitively.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Such Drudgery for Ones So Young

One of the girls' jobs is to unload the dishwasher. They've gotten a pretty good system down by now, although I still hear occasional arguments about who is going to do the top vs. the bottom. I don't care, as long as it gets done.

They get to do this most every day, and apparently this has placed a great burden upon their dear souls. Emma expressed her displeasure to Abbie, who took it upon herself to take action. I found this stuck to the kitchen cabinet where we keep our glasses:

Then, I guess Emma decided she could take responsibility for her own displeasure, and I found this one the next morning:

Always good for a laugh, they are! And, yes, we are working diligently on spelling during our school work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spelling Silliness

If you know me at all, you know that I have a great fondness for fun and silliness. I love when we can have fun with our school work!

This morning, I was watching "The Golden Girls" on the Hallmark Channel while I was getting ready for the day. We don't actually have cable, but for some reason, the television in our bedroom gets the Hallmark Channel and one other station - go figure! Anyway, I love "The Golden Girls." They are always good for a laugh.

This morning, the girls were trying to put together a funeral for Old Lady Claxton, who lived next door to them but died of a heart attack when Rose took her to court for threatening to cut down a beautiful old tree on her property - just because she knew it would make other people unhappy to have it cut down. Rose felt guilty, of course, because no one had liked this woman so there was to be no funeral and she was to be buried in a Potter's Field.

So, they go to the funeral home, where the proprietor introduces himself as Mr. Pfizer - and the "p" is not silent. After a brief pause, apparently trying to decide if he is serious, Dorothy says, "Well, Mr. P-fizer, we are here to plan a p-funeral. I mean, funeral."

I don't know why this struck me as so funny, but I was still giggling about it when I went downstairs to start school with the girls. They asked me what was so funny, so I tried to explain it to them, and bless their sweet hearts, they decided it was funny, too. We spent much of the day incorporating vocalized "p's" into our p-words, even in our p-spelling p-work. You will p-see that they p-learned some p-truly exceptional p-spelling p-skills today. They wanted me to be sure to blog about it. The spelling rule for today was that I and o followed by 2 consonants may be long.

I hope you have at least a little p-chuckle from this post today.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Can anyone identify this bug nest?

I found 3 or 4 of these in my Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) plants as I was pruning them today. I have no idea what it is. It resembles a lightly toasted marshmallow. If you have any ideas, I would love to know. I'm going to ask my dad, fondly referred to by my children as "the walking, talking encyclopedia" when he comes in a few weeks. I hope he can tell from the picture because it smelled a little oddly and I didn't want to keep it.

If you'd like to grow lavender in North Carolina, by the way, this is an excellent variety for the hot, humid weather we have down here. The other kinds don't like it as well. Believe me, I tried.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Training Up The Boy

My girls love horses. They spend a lot of time at home pretending to be horses, creating "jumps" indoor and out that they either jump over themselves, or try to get the dog to jump. Poor, sweet Toby is a good sport. Emma has made several sets of "tack" for him from yarn, even including a martingale. It's quite impressive, actually.

Lately, we've had some cold, wet weather, so they took my Swiffer and made a small jump with couch pillows in the living room downstairs. You can run all the way around the first floor of our house, from the front door, through the dining room, kitchen, on to the living room, so they would run around the loop and do the jump.

Here is Abbie:

Here is Emma:

And, never one to be left out, Isaac had to play, too.

I kept hearing Emma say, "Abbie, don't help him!" I finally had to tell her that while is trying very hard to learn to jump, he really can only get one foot off the ground at a time just now, so unless they wanted him to keep knocking down the jump, they'd have to help him.

It takes a lot of effort for Abbie to lift her brother, who is more than half her weight, but by golly if she can't do it!

It's a little easier for Emma.

Then, they both decided to help him because I was taking pictures. :-) Here they come around the corner!

First one way:

Now the other:

I have to say that Isaac enjoys this a lot more than Toby does. You'd never know we were in the hospital with Isaac 5 days ago, would you?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Home From The Hospital Again

Poor Isaac had to go to the pediatric ER again yesterday afternoon. I noticed on Saturday that he was coughing more and had green snot. By Sunday morning he was wheezing, so we started albuterol treatments again, but by the afternoon not even back-to-back albuterol helped so we were told to take him in.

It was a little scary, actually. He had retractions that were quite extreme, and it took a lot to get them under control. Several breathing treatments and about 4 hours of constant albuterol later, he was finally nearly done wheezing. We ended up in the PICU for a few hours, but we were moved pretty quickly to the regular pediatric floor, because by the time we were sent to the PICU he was much, much better and didn't really need to be there. They think he might have a touch of pneumonia, which probably exacerbated the problem. We now have oral steroids, antibiotics, inhaled steroids and albuterol in an inhaler with an aero mask, because it is much faster and more effective than a nebulizer.

He was doing very well at the hospital, but by the time I was taking him out of the car at home, he was wheezing again. The inhalers did help, and we have a follow-up appointment with our pediatrician tomorrow, so we'll see what they have to say.

I am very, very tired. The ER does not allow for much sleep for a mama, especially one who's in charge of keeping the albuterol properly aimed at a moving target.

Abbie told me tonight that her chest hurts. I didn't particularly want to hear that. I gave her some medicine and we'll see how she is tomorrow. I'm wondering if some allergy medicine might not help her.

Friday, February 20, 2009

One more thing.

I miss Gail so much. I really do. I have still not quite wrapped my brain around not seeing her again in this life.

However, I did want to share one thing from the funeral. One of Gail's sisters got up to speak, and she shared that her 6 year old son had been very concerned for Gail's salvation. She finally told him to call Aunt Gail, so he did. He asked her if she knew Jesus, and he led her through the prayer for salvation.

What a beautiful, sweet child. He did what I was never quite brave enough to do. I don't know if she did it with him just because he called her and was so sweet; she talked a lot about God and I know she went to church sometimes. What I do know is that I will be seeing her in heaven and I am so thankful for that.

All this to say, every day, every moment is important. Don't waste a single one. And don't be afraid to ask someone if they know Jesus. God could use you to be the reason they make it to heaven.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

The Day After

Gail's funeral was last night. It was a beautiful service. The pastor read several Psalms and other Scriptures, ending the readings with Proverbs 31 - The Excellent Wife. I'm sure that was for Bob.

She was cremated. I was glad. I did not want to see her in a coffin. I have a hard time remembering people as they were in life after I've seen them in death. I am so thankful that I will be able to remember her as she was when I knew her.

The girls and Todd came to the funeral with me. She was dear to all of us. It's the first funeral the girls attended, and it was hard for them. They both wanted to come, though, and both say they are glad they went. I think it was important for them to share in the end of her life. They loved her.

There were a lot of people at the service, but I wouldn't call it packed. The thing is, though, that Gail treasured every person who was there. We all knew how much she loved us. I would like to be the kind of friend she was - someone who spends her life loving other people and doing it well.

Today, I'm still trying to accept that she's really gone. When I last saw her, she was doing pretty well. It's hard to believe she went downhill so quickly. Once the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do, she was gone within two weeks. I can't express how much I regret not trying harder to at least talk to her. Isaac was sick and I was sick and there are lots of reasons, but now... she's gone. I suppose I was in denial too - I thought there would be more time.

I can't believe I will never hear her voice or see her smile again. She won't be at stitching anymore. I have to help her husband go through all of her cross stitch stuff. I'm sure it sounds silly, but it breaks my heart just to think about it.

If you're inclined to pray, please keep Gail's husband, Bob, in your prayers. He loved Gail with complete devotion, and feels like he has no purpose now that she is gone. Please pray that he will feel the love and the peace of God and that he will find a reason to keep going on. I'm very worried about him.

I'm sure I could ramble on for a while about Gail and how much I miss her, but I won't. I will go back to figuring out the next thing to do and keep on living. I will try to remember to live each precious moment the best way I can.

I was listening to Steven Curtis Chapman on my iPod the other day, and I heard this song, from his "Speechless" album. I will end with these lyrics. They've stayed with me and I find them more significant today than ever.

Five Minutes

I can reminisce about the already
I can worry and fret about the not yet
But when it all comes down, and
It really, really comes down to the right now,
So right now

I'm living the next five minutes
Like these are my last five minutes
Cause I know the next five minutes
May be all I have
And after the next five minutes
Turn into the last five minutes
I'm taking the next five minutes
And start it all over again

Every morning God is given is precious
Every heartbeat, every breath I take
I'll never have them back once they've left us
There will never be another right now,
So right now

This is the day
This is the hour
This is the moment God has made

I'm living the next five minutes
Like these are my last five minutes
Cause I know the next five minutes
May be all I have
And after the next five minutes
Turn into the last five minutes
I'm taking the next five minutes
And start it all over again
I'm starting all over again
Gonna start it all over again

Saturday, February 14, 2009

One Year Ago Today. . .

. . . Gail was babysitting for us, so Todd and I could go out to dinner.

This morning, around 2:00 am, she passed away.

Go in peace, my friend. I'm glad your suffering has ended. I'll be seeing you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

She'll Be Leaving Us Soon

My very dear friend, Gail, was sent home from the hospital with Hospice last week. She's been fighting breast cancer for the past few years. I spoke with our friend Connie this evening, and she told me that Gail is in and out of consciousness, and that the end will be very, very soon.

I met Gail when I moved to North Carolina, 11 years ago this July, when I found my cross-stitch group. She's been a wonderful friend to me. When I was pregnant with Isaac, and couldn't go to stitching because it hurt too much to sit in the chairs, she came and spent Thursday evenings with me. She said she thought I needed her more than they did. Sometimes she brought dinner, and sometimes I cooked. She helped with the baby when she could. She adored my girls. We had such a good time.

When she told us she had breast cancer, all of us were very worried, of course. Gail did everything her doctors recommended, had every treatment, every follow-up, dotted ever "i" and crossed every "t." There wasn't much cancer when they found it, so we thought she was good to go.

The next year, though, her cancer returned, and it was already stage 4 when they found it. If you know cancer lingo, you know this was not good news. She still fought it, though, and has endured every treatment her doctors could come up with. She was able to get in with an excellent doctor at Duke, who specializes in pre-menopausal women with breast cancer. They would continue each treatment as long as it made a difference. When it stopped working, they changed tactics.

I knew she wasn't getting better, exactly, but I thought she was holding her own. Then, when we had our stitching group's Christmas party, she told us that she'd intended to give us all what she thought we wanted most for Christmas - babysitting for me - but she couldn't do it. She'd been blacking out, she said, and couldn't watch the kids, not knowing what would happen. Then we learned that the cancer had spread to her liver, and then to her spleen.

My friend Connie and our other friend Sandy went to see her a few of weeks ago, and she'd told me that Gail looked really good then. When I spoke with her last night, though, she said that Gail's abdomen had been very swollen from the cancer in her organs.

Last week, I had to call and say I couldn't come to stitching because Isaac was still sick. Connie told me then that Gail had been in the hospital, and had been sent home with Hospice. She told me that meant she'd probably be gone within 6 months.

Last night, I had to call and say I couldn't come to stitching because I am sick, and Connie told me that Gail has been in and out of consciousness, thrashing around some when she started to wake up or her pain meds started to wear off, so the end was getting closer.

I just called Gail's sweet husband, Bob, and he told me that she's likely to pass away tonight or tomorrow. He said it's all right for me to come see her, even though I have a cold. When I asked him if there is anything he needs, he broke down. Crying, he told me he just needs his wife back. He loves her so much. I don't know what he will do when she is gone.

I'm going to miss her so much. I guess I thought there would always be more time. I didn't think this day would really come.

Go in peace, my friend. Heaven will be a more beautiful place with your sweet soul in it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Playing Outside in February - Crazy!

We've been having the most amazing weather - high 70's in February. Who would have thought? Actually, we often do have warm spells in February in North Carolina. It's just a teaser, though, and we will have some more normal, cooler spring weather soon.

In the meantime, we're taking advantage of this fabulous weather and trying to spend lots of time outside every day. The kids have a blast on the playset that the grandparents helped us buy a few years ago. I didn't think we needed one, initially, because we have a great park in our neighborhood. Once we started homeschooling, though, having our own playset in the backyard has been a tremendous blessing.

Emma and Abbie are such awesome sisters! They are always ready to help Isaac - maybe a little more than he needs. Emma was very cautious with him as he climbed up to slide down the slide:

He LOVED sliding! Don't you just love the tongue action?

Abbie loves to help him swing on the "big boy" swings, too. She never pushes him high at all, but he thinks he is big stuff.