Thursday, February 25, 2010

I wonder how many people have ever seen the Auroras Boreales?  I am sure many northern Canadian and Alaskians have seen them and the people in northern Europe....  but while we lived on Call Hill we were able to seem them on a couple occations.  They were the most amazing heavenly specticle I have ever witnessed.  The emerald and flecks of gold danced across the sky in a fluid mesmerizing way.  It was like watching colored oil in water roll and swirl right before our eyes.  The ribbons of spontaneous light cause everyone watching to become spell bound and held captivated by its majesty.  While we were getting ready to head inside because the show was becoming dim, Slayt, who was 4 at the time said it perfectly when he said "Thank you God, that was wonderful!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter morning on East Valley

Crisp winter mornings
Quiet, serene, new
The snow squeaks as if it is crying under the weight of each step
A lone owl screeches as he takes flight and glides across the cold dim sky
In the distance a fox barks as he happily skips through the field in search of breakfast
Under the apple tree a doe stands as if in a trance and stares with large onyx eyes waiting to see if a threat is posed by this wandering intruder
Nestled under the cover of a fresh blanket of snow are field mice, snug and secure from the elements
Tunnels dug through the snow are like subways on which they travel, carrying food and warm bedding
As the sun creeps over the hill tops, the light causes the white fluff to glisten like diamonds which have been spread at random
Neighboring houses begin to stir with life
Lights flicker on in the windows as if its eyes are opening
Car engines begin to grumble and cough their existence
The calm of the early morning has turned into the assiduousness of another day

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Have you ever had 'one of those days'?  We had one of those back in 2000 on April fools day.  
Before we lived in our house on the hill full time, we  used to go up there just to get away and hike.  There was a huge metal watering trough which the previous owners had left behind.  Ron had moved it to catch water coming off the roof and by April it was filled to the top.  The day we went up was a nice hot day.  The perfect day for the kids to splash in the watering trough.  Jake, Abby, Slayt and Justin all took turns dipping their head into the trough and splashing each other.  I believe they even were drinking some water.  Jake had just come up from dunking himself when something floated to the top.  It looked like a tiny little foot.  Hmmm, what would a foo.... "RON!!!!!!"    Ron came over to look at what had caused my panic and saw the horror on my face.  Floating to the surface of the water were tiny little mouse parts.  Occasionally a whole mouse would float to the top.  We quickly realized that the watering playground the kids had been playing in was a watery grave to hundreds of field mice.   Ron decided that the best remedy would be to drag the watering trough down the hill and dump it so it wouldn't be near the house.  He put a chain around the metal tub and hooked the other end up to his Chevy truck and proceeded to drag it across the hill to the perfect spot.   Ron turned off the truck and put the parking brake on and got out to unhook the heavy tub.  Just as he unhooked the tub, the weight holding the truck back released which caused the trucks parking brake to fail, sending the truck careening down the hill.  The only thing we could do was watch the truck plow through the grass and slam into a tree at the edge of the field.  At that moment, we all decided that the best thing for us to do would be to pile back into our van and call it a day.  We needed to make one stop and that would be to the store to buy a gallon of bleach for bathing in.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mom, the dog just pee'd on me

We are a dog loving family on the most part.  There are the few exceptions to this rule however.  Ron and Jacob are not thrilled with dogs but they tolerate them as long as they don't need to be their care givers.  As a family we are also a camping family and there are no exceptions to this.  Everyone in the family loves to go camping and we usually try to do it every summer at some point, especially when the kids were younger. Quite a few years ago we used to go camping as a group with our church.  This one particular summer, Ron wasn't able to go for some reason and so it was just me and the kids.  Thinking that it would be a wonderful idea to take a protective element, we decided that our new puppy would come along with us.  I have no idea what I was thinking, because a puppy is worse than taking an infant camping.  
Justin had his own one person tent, I was in a bigger tent with the three little kids and Abby and Jacob was in a two person tent.  Guess who got stuck with the puppy?  Yes, that would be the dog lover hater, Jacob.  I justified it to him by saying that he was the only one with enough room in his tent.  He had a two person tent and Dory's blanket could fit nicely in there.  Jacob reluctantly agreed and took the dog.  Around one in the morning, I heard Jacob at my tent door saying "mom, mom, i need to sleep in your tent".  I asked him why and about died laughing at his reply.  He said "the dumb dog just pee'd all over me and my sleeping bag".  
Dory had done what most babies do and wet the bed.  Unfortunately for Jacob, it happened to be his bed also. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Surgery

Each time I take Danny to one of his doctors, I'm always amazed at how easy it is to forget that nothing is routine about his appointments.  Today we had to go to Elmira for his eye doctor appointment.  Danny has been seeing Dr. Morello since he was just two weeks old and we are very confident with him.  Dr. Morello is a pediatric Opthomologist and is very knowledgeable with Daniel's disabilities so it is worth the hour and a half trip.   Today we got the news that Danny would be having his fourth surgery on his eyes in a month or so.  Moebius Syndrome, one condition Danny has, causes Strabismus.  Daniel's eye problems are further complicated by his brain abnormalities.  Normally kids with Strabismus have one surgery to straighten their eyes and that is all they need because the nerves that connect to the muscles in the eyes and go to the brain figure out they need to now keep the eyes straight.  In Danny's case, there are no nerves or very few nerves that work in his eyes.  The ones that do work don't work in conjunction with the other eye and that makes it virtually impossible to keep his eyes straight just by the nerves "talking" to each other like normal eyes.  So this time the doctor is going to completely detach the muscles on the outside of his eyes and hope that there won't be any tension pulling them back.  As we have been told before, there are no guarantee that this will be the last surgery.   Maybe this one will do the trick, who knows.  All we can do is pray and wait until next time. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oh no she di n't.........

In an earlier blog I had written about my daughter Abby.  We have a great relationship and she is a pretty good girl.  Being 16 can pose some attitude problems for some teenagers, but honestly, I haven't had many troubles.  Perhaps that is because she used to give me fits when she was younger. 
When abby was about 2 or 3 we thought she had swallowed some money.  Being the dutiful mother, i whisked her away to the ER to get an x-ray.  Sitting in the room, waiting her turn, Abby gave the appearance of a sweet little blonde headed angel.  I could have sworn  I overheard the nurses plotting my death so they could take her home because she was so adorable.  All that would change the minute the x-ray tech took her in the room to get a picture of her stomach.  I'm pretty sure my little angel not only woke the dead in the morgue with her screaming, but she gave the nurse trying to hold her down a nervous breakdown.  It took 4 nurses and me trying to hold her down just for a simple x-ray.  After about ten minutes of this game they decided that if she had swallowed any money, she was no worse for the wear and  could go home.  As soon as the nurse told us we could go home, Abby tucked her horns back into her head, put on her halo and gave the nurse a huge smile. 
Fast forward ten years......  Abby was about 12 or 13 and had wanted to get her ears pierced for a third time.  My answer was a definitive No.   Assuming my precious angel would abide by my wishes, I didn't give it another thought.  Any smart mother would know to never assume a NO answer would deter a teenager.   However, I have never been accused of being mentally sound.  As it turned out, one particular sunday morning my mother sense kicked in.  Mother sense is a lot like spider man sense.  When this kicks in, we not only have eyes in the back of our head, we can climb walls when needed.  It is a scientific fact.  Across the room, I noticed something shiny on my daughters ear.  In a flash, I was at her side and pulled her hair away to get a better glimpse.  I do believe my blood instantly boiled because in her ear was a third hole!  Now, most mothers would have waited until after church to beat their child.  I on the other hand believe it is unfair to  torment the child with fear and trepidation of what is to come.  So, I beat her there on the spot.  No, no, no....... Actually, I didn't beat her.  I did something worse.  I whispered in her ear that if she didn't get up from her seat and go take that ear ring out of her ear I would rip it out right then and there.   Thankfully she didn't test my resolve and immediately got up and did what I had requested.  Other than a few well done eye rolls, she didn't appear to be too upset.  Until recently, Abby hasn't challenged me in that area.  Last weekend she texted me while she was at the mall to ask if she could get the tip of her ear done.  I reluctantly said yes and as it turned out she came home without it done.  There really could be worse things she could ask me to do, or not ask me and do them anyway.  I pray that Abby will always know that she can come to me with any request or problem and it will be received with honesty and love.  So far, so good.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Colors of Spring

Spring is like the beginning works of a masterpiece painting.  Just like the canvas being stretched onto its frame to prepare for the painting, is the freshly tilled soil being prepared for the life which will spring forth.  The tender shoots eagerly wait for their time of arrival onto the canvas; at the appointed hour, they burst forth with colors to delight every eye.  The stems are like the delicate yet sturdy brushes an artist uses to bring the picture to life, with the ends dipped into every sort of color imaginable.  Canary yellows become the soft and round bulbs of daffodils, the deep pinks with sprikles of electricity burst forth into Deptford Pinks. Varying depths of purples, from soft lavenders to bold magenta occupy the crocus and tulips.  As colors flow into view, new and wonderful possibilities for the end result emerge.  A person annot guess what the final painting will look like, they can only wait and see what natures artists reveal. 

I can take a punch

Sometimes boys can do the stupidest things.  At least my boys can. The old saying that 'boys will be boys' has a lot of truth to it, because girls usually will have more common sense than to try many of the things a guy will do.  Take for instance the infamous "I can take a punch" video's my two eldest son's made one night in the fall of 2008.  Little did they know that it would cost $3500 and time spent in the ER.   
Jacob and Justin have always had a tight bond.  From the beginning they have been more than just brothers but best friends.  If a person saw Jacob then Justin was right behind and visa versa.  Up until they were probably  in their late teens they had the same friends and very rarely did they go anywhere without the other. 
I believe I need to give a brief overview of the different personalities each boy has though to make it clear as to why this story is so funny.
Justin has always and will probably always be a very easy going and relatively passive person. He doesn't like to hurt anyone's feelings and would go out of his way to avoid a fight.  Jacob on the other hand has been running around like a chicken with his head cut off from the time he was born.  He came out swinging and he will probably go to heaven that way.   Jake is a very sweet kid, but his personality is the exact opposite of Justin.  Justin tries not to antagonize but  Jacob lives to drive everyone nuts with his ADHD.  Unfortunately for Justin, Jake has taken advantage of that fact quite frequently; picking fights with Justin,wrestling him to the ground then claiming victory was Jacobs favorite past time.  Little did he realize was that Justin let him win many of the times.  
Flashing forward  to the fall of 2008.  The boys got it into their head that it would be great fun to see who was the tougher male specimen by punching each other in the stomach. Unbeknown to me, they went to the shed to "box" because Jake had his punching bag up there.  After about a half hour the boys came back in, laughing and carrying on about how funny it was and told us of their escapades.  Jacob had not been in the house more than ten minutes before he started to look a little pale and feel sick.  He sat down on the step and said his side hurt.  Off to the hospital it was for us.  To make a long story short, while the boys were punching each other, Justin had managed to get a good jab in and bruise Jacob's spleen.  Thankfully they had stopped when they did and called it a night.  I do believe that the embarrassment of rehashing their story to the many doctors and nurses  that saw them was punishment enough, not to mention the fact that Jacob had to take it easy and slow down for a while.
We still have the video's the boys made and from time to time I think it would be a great idea to pull them out and show them that "they can't take a punch". 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Slayt the big chicken

While the kids were growing up we lived on 104 acres out in the middle of no where.  When I say No Where, I really mean it felt like siberia most of the time.  It was a great place to raise kids, especially our kids because it afforded them lots of room to roam and pretend they were wilderness adventure men.  Our only rule was that they had to tell us when they were going to go exploring.  A kid can get very lost, very quickly on 104 acres.  I had already put poison control on speed dial and I didn't want to have to add search and rescue.  
During the time we lived in the country, we decided to try our hand at raising chickens, horses, turkeys and rabbits.  Rabbits multiplied like, well, rabbits and we quickly found out that they eat their young so that didn't last long.  Turkeys grow to the size of ostriches if you don't eat them and get grumpy.  They didn't last long either.  Horses just graze and look pretty and as long as they have a companion are realativly happy creatures so they stayed.  Chickens give eggs and are happy to cluck and eat bugs so the chickens found a place on our little homestead also.  Ron had constructed a cute little chicken coop with a small hole in the front and a bar inside so they could roost.  On the top of the coop, Ron had constructed a clever hatch that we could lift and reach in and get the eggs out without needing to reach into the little hole at the front.  
The day Slayt decided to take off on hike adventure was a nice day out.  It was a perfect day for exploring, or at least I'm sure that is what he was thinking.  I'm confident that in his little head he was saying to himself , "self, we are going to go find a t-rex".  Unfortunately for Slayt, the first place he looked for the giant dinosaur was in the cute little chicken coop which Ron had constructed.  
After a little while had past and the house had become noticably quiet, I decided to look for Slayt.  I called for him and he didn't answer.   I walked around the outside of the house and he still didn't answer my repeated calls.  About that time, Ron came home and so I told him that his little adventure seeker was missing in action.  We enlisted the help of the other kids and set out searching for the lost boy.  Justin headed out into the woods down by the pond.  Jacob headed up to an area where they boys had built lean-to's.  Abby searched the house and kept an eye on Ally.  Ron went down by the shed and chicken coop and came back and said he was no where to be found.  I headed down by the end of the driveway, praying as I went that Slayt hadn't gotten near the well which was near the horse barn.  Thankfully he wasn't there.   Ron decided to walk down the hill, past the chicken coop to a path that lead down into the woods.  However, as he was walking past the chicken coop, he heard a distinct whimper eminating from the coop.  Thinking it was either a very sick chicken or our wayward son, Ron lifted the hatch door and sitting on the bar was our little explorer.  As Ron lifted the hatch, he heard Slayt whimpering " someone help me, someone, help the boy".    Slayt had climbed up onto the bar so that he could get up off the hay which was covered with chicken poo and the reason he hadn't climbed out the way he came in was because the chicken door on the front had slid closed and the lid was too heavy to be lifted.  So, inside he sat, just as a chicken does, clucking out the only thing he could think, "someone help the boy". 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Justin, Jake and Clay rouge boating

There are some memories I have of the boys that make me smile and wish we could go back a few years to their innocence.  This story I am going to tell is one that gives me a chuckle everytime I think about it.

The setting is the lake house in Florida that my mom and step father stay at every winter through the early summer.  The characters are: Justin, my oldest son, Jacob, my second son and willing accomplise and my nephew Clay.  
Every year I try to take the kids to Florida to see my mom during Spring Break.  While we were down there one year my nephew came down to stay a few days because he is the same age age Justin and they get along like brothers.  Clay had brought his trolling boat down with him and it has a very quiet motor on it and you can be a stelth secret agent if you are 16 and feel so inclined.  That was exactly what the boys had in mind one night after everyone else had gone to bed.  I should have known something was up when they wanted to sleep out on the porch and went to bed really well.  
As it turned out, the boys had devised a plan to reek havoc on the neighboring houses along the lake.  Under the cover of darkness they snuck out of the house and crept silently to the lake.  Pushing the boat into the water, they dissolved into the mist covered lake.  Waiting until the motor had no opportunity to give away their plan, they drifted out of range stifling the giggles that welled inside.  As soon as the boat was far enough away from shore the motor was started and quietly the boys stalked their first victim.    Clay directed his tin fish to the first dock. Carefully, each boy took his turn climbing onto the wooden structure.   Justin decided that the dock furniture should be turned upside down on the first target.  One by one each lake side establishment was visited by these stelthy dock jumpers.  Each dock was systematically harrassed, the boys being careful not to do damage personal property, only to cause amusement and bewilderment.  One dock had sand in little piles like the wood had sprouted chicken pox, another dock had chairs piled as high as they could feasibly go.  Another dock simply had everything rearranged.  
As the night turned into dawn, the boys could sense their time was coming to an end and headed to shore.   Tiptoeing back onto the porch they crawled into their sleeping bags with contented smiles on each face.  
When late morning arrived, I woke everyone up and was surprised that Justin, Jake and Clay were quite tired.  Seeing that I was curious, the boys quickly recovered and feigned innocence.  However, while I was out in the paddle boat I noticed the perplexed look of all the neighbors scratching their heads while they stood dockside.  Noticing my moms dock was untouched, I could only guess who the culprits might be.

The amazing Albrecht

It is very amazing to me how one person can completely change a person, or at the very least open them up to a larger view of the world.  Last year I had that experience when I took a Comp class during my first semester of college.  There were more than a few people who told me that it would be a good idea for me to change my schedule because the professor I had chosen was a tough cookie.  I'm so glad that I decided to keep him.  Professor Albrecht not only helped me rise to the challenge of his level of work, but also changed me and the way I view the world. 
On first appearance, Professor Albrecht is a grandfatherly man with a cool sense of style.  He frequentley wears jeans with a casual suit coat and loafers.  He is probably in his 60's but I'm not sure because he while he has grey hair he is a very disinquished looking fellow.  The way he walks into a room commands attention and a person gets an immediate sense that they are in the presence of a person who not only knows what they are talking about, but one who has lived a life full of experiences.  I suppose a person could get the impression that Professor Albrecht is slightly arrogant and rude, but on closer inspection the student realizes that even if those qualities are true, Albrecht has the ability to posses those characteristics without letting them control him.  Professor Albrecht has a way of speaking that draws men and women to him and listening to his voice is like hearing words for the first time.  It is as if time stops and his words are the only thing that matters and all the problems and cares have gone away.  Very few people have the ability to make love to a person just with words; not in a sexual sense, but in a way that brings a person to complete satisfaction and causes them to beg for more. 
Professor Albrecht opened my eyes to a new way of viewing the world.   Before my time with Albrecht, I had been closed off to any other way of seeing how my environment reacted to the forces of nature, politics, God and relationships.  Albrecht taught me that there are two ways to see things: from  inside a locked box with the blinds closed tight or from a  room with doors flung open and willing to step outside and taste all the differences.   Professor Albrecht challenged all who were present in his classroom to know what we believe and why we believe it.  I don't think he cared what we chose to believe as long as we embraced the why and knew exactly what we were heading towards. 
I am very thankful for the chance to learn from this man.  My challenge is now living my life in a way that I can encourage others to live their lives from the outside instead of being to scared and staying in the box. 
Albrecht would always end his class by saying "go away".  Not many people could say that and have it give a person a sense of a challenge.  Albrecht said those words and caused me to want to "go away" and do something.  So, that is what I'm doing and I challenge us all to "go away".

Monday, February 1, 2010

Danny the magnificent

First of all, let me say that this blog thing doesn't have a spell check or at least I can't find it, so if I misspell stuff just ignore it.  Ok? Thanks.
On with the show........
There are many things to tell about Danny but I suppose I will tell his story right from the beginning because if you are not familiar with the story then you might not fully appreciate all that Danny has done in his short life. 
Danny is my #6 child.   Every delivery prior to Danny's I had not had any outsiders  in the room with me at the time of birth, beside of course the doctors, nurses and my husband.  However, with Danny, it just so happened that Ron's mom and my mom were there, so they both got to see him being born.  It probably wasn't the delivery either had planned on watching.  When Daniel was born his heart stopped and he needed to be resuscitated and even after he was brought back he looked pretty purple.  I think the whole experience was one both mom's could have lived without seeing.  
While in the hospital the doctor could tell something wasn't right with Danny.  He definitely looked different but no one could put there finger on it.  Looking back now I have no idea how we couldn't pick up on the fact that he didn't blink or close his eyes.  Duh!   Oh well, that says a lot about how a mothers love looks past the obvious.  Two weeks after Danny was born, Ron and I noticed that Danny would seem to pass out if he was laid on his back in Ron's arms.  We took Daniel in to be checked and the doctor wanted to have him assessed for sleep apnea.  So we went to the hospital and did that and while we were there his heart rate when up to close to 200.   The idiot nurse and respiratory therapist asked Ron and I if we thought that was a normal heart rate for an infant.  We looked at each other like "what the heck?" and told them to call the doctor immediately.  After the doctor was called, she preformed a procedure called a 'vagal maneuver ' on Danny by placing a bag of ice over his little baby face until he his heart rate would convert to a normal rhythm.  It was one of the scariest moments of our lives.  The hospital immediately tried to get an IV in him which they could not do and so they called Strong Childrens Hospital in Rochester to have an Ambulance sent down to get him.  While we waited for the ambulance to get there we just rocked him and listened to the monitors hoping that they wouldn't start buzzing and signaling another episode.  After Strong got there to pick him up I was able to relax a little because they obviously knew what they were doing.  The team was able to get an IV in without any problems and we raced off to Rochester.
While we were in the Hospital in Rochester the team of Doctors were able to do lots of tests to see what other problems Daniel had.  We saw the Cardiologist,  Neurologist,  Geneticist, Audiologist, Ophthalmologist and probably other "ists" that I forgot about.  It was a whirlwind of doctors and tests and most days my head spun.  Not only was I hormonal due to giving birth two weeks prior, but I had 5 other kids at home and I knew they must be wondering what was going on.  
As it turned out, the doctors found that Daniel had a few extra nerves that hadn't disolved at birth like most kids and that is what caused his heart to race.  He was on Digoxin to keep his heart regular for 3 years.  The doctors also diagnosed him with Moebius Syndrome and Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum.   Feel free to Google those things, as it would take a long time to explain those.  Needless to say, Daniel still has many challenges.  Every day is a struggle for him to achieve what other kids his age or even younger can do easily.  Most days he takes on this challenge without problems but recently he has been markedly frustrated which makes me sad.  When I look at what Daniel has been through and what he goes through every day, I can understand to a tiny degree of  why he would get frustrated at his struggles.  However, I'm not the one who walks in his shoes and has to work hard at everything I try and usually still doesn't  measure up to the worlds standards.  All I can do is encourage him to do his best and make sure he grows up to be the best that he can be.  I know he will do fine because he has a determination that far surpasses the doctors expectations.