Monday, April 29, 2019

Secret Spy and Special Guest

Friday afternoon, like several afternoons prior, Ty descended upon the construction site behind our house but this time we investigated after watching him play for four hours all alone. As it turns out, and you are sworn to secrecy on this matter, Ty is now a real spy. He is in charge of watching the activities of a certain second grade girl who has been stalking his friend. The friend was spending the weekend with his dad so he left Ty in charge. Ty took this responsibility so seriously that when I sprung a surprise visitor on him Saturday morning, he was worried he wouldn't be able to complete his mission. When I suggested he might be able to allow Benjamin to assist him, he was in anguish. "Lane and his cousin are the only ones with the authority to make that decision, Mom. This is a secret mission." Well alrighty then. As it turns out, my teenage daughter isn't the only one I am failing to understand these days. But when Lane returned Sunday afternoon and I mentioned the little girl's father may not appreciate their spy work, he quickly quipped, "well then she shouldn't be my nemesis." There you have it.

I noted some concerning posts on Benjamin's mother's facebook and asked to pick him up for the weekend to remove him from a potentially unsafe situation. He was a delight to have with us this weekend as he helped with landscape rock, had a blast at a local elementary gym with some friends and honed his hover board skills. Ty abandoned his mission in order to play Legos, reenact Star Wars and Spiderman scenes and play driveway basketball until the rain declared otherwise. Taking Benjamin home is never easy on me, but this time felt especially more difficult. He wants to spend the month of May with us but Ty will still be in school and Benjamin's presence that long would be disruptive if he too wasn't in class.

Bedtime stories are now bringing the cats and sometimes the dog into the scene. Oliver is fairly certain it's all about him and Ada serves as quite the distraction but it's sweet to have everyone together.

Wholesome family group text:

And some truth from my latest bible study:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Weekend

Good Friday service was of course somber which left my son alone with his thoughts. Knowing the story of Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead sounds like one thing, but seeing adults writing down what Christ did for them personally and then stamping that sin as paid in full was powerful. He had questions. I am grateful our church plans for kids and doesn't make truth more gruesome than needed to teach. We once had an experience where a three year old was shown the Passion movie in a church preschool. The nightmares were intense for months. This momma was livid. Sometimes the best of intentions are wildly out of line. And as if our world understood the symbolism of the saddest day in history, we had dramatic temperature drops with pouring rain for two solid days and then Easter Sunday arrived with sunny skies and warmer weather. The rain and cold meeting the mood of Good Friday and a day the world waits for the resurrection.

Shifting gears. Greg's father called with news we are expected at the family reunion this year because they are hosting. We haven't made an appearance in years as we genuinely lack real connections and haven't wanted the four hour haul each way to make small talk for an hour, which has been our previous experience. He ended his call with a threat of sorts, "attend this year or you host next year". I laughed out loud. Call his bluff! There is no way that group will make the same four hour drive here and the few who might be threatened by their parents? Heck, we will serve something amazing off the smoker. No problem! Greg, feeling the pressure to please asked me to make a  reservation for our favorite Dayton area room. Hotel Sanderson offers the best family meals and comfortable guest room at no charge. So given the reunion is an hour closer to us this year and will involve a visit with Kristin, it appears we are attending this year's reunion in June.

Layla pulls off the most pitiful expressions. We have a note that is placed on the counter when we feed her because her weight is so far out of line, her thyroid has been checked to confirm she didn't need medication. Upon closer investigation, it was determined Big Girl as we affectionately call her, has fooled us more than we cared to admit. She convinced us she needed fed when she had already been served. Sometimes I think she is smarter than I often give credit.

In full celebration mode on Easter Sunday, one of our children was mean on steroids, one was hangry (hungry+angry) fasting for a colonoscopy, an alternator was replaced on an old truck (this involved Walmart, for the love) and despite her best efforts,  the Easter Bunny failed to provide the correct Nerf gun in the boy's basket. Sigh. Christ is risen despite the hot mess we are.

After the repair, we took a test run through the neighborhood that suddenly turned into an off road experience behind our field despite me worrying it was the last thing Kate's asthma needed. Her dad, likely correct in his assessment, countered she needs to unwind a little and the five minutes of laughter was a welcomed mood change. We saw neighbors working in their backyard and mentioned they now knew who their redneck neighbors might be. They promised to keep our secret but always knew this fact about us.

Ty gained a new tree at school for Earth Day this week and couldn't wait for the rain to cease so he could plant it. Although it is crooked, he did all the work alone and is very proud of his accomplishment. We are going to try to keep it alive despite a track record that doesn't fare well for the sapling.

Our grandson celebrated his first Easter and got his first haircut. We are smitten.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday Omelettes

I recently discovered I am sexist. Ty has had a less than subtle admirer since kindergarten. This beautiful little girl is a determined handful and her pursuit of my son has been relentless. Last week, she caught him in the hallway at school alone and pushed him into a corner to keep him there because he avoids her whenever he can. My first thought upon hearing his complaint was something along the lines of "well, if your eyes weren't so beautiful, she wouldn't pay any attention to you." Thank God my filter was functioning properly at the moment so that thought did not escape my lips. I did ask if he had brought the situation to his teacher's attention so he could get some additional support in how to handle this relentless child who is not hearing his pleas of "please stop, I don't like this". He hadn't said a word at school so I emailed his wonderful teacher and told her he needed to talk with her the next day when they had a few moments available. This would empower Ty to find his voice and know he would be heard. Ty was supported in a conversation with the child and teachers let her know her behavior wouldn't be tolerated. All in all, this really wasn't a big deal because no one made it a big deal. However, if roles were reversed and the kids in question were older? Law enforcement would be involved. I have seen me do it. Two different young men had conversations with friendly officers after refusing to cease harassing my daughters. One of them got to sit in a courtroom with me too. So, I am sexist and evaluating how much that might need to change as my son grows up.

Early in our marriage, Greg and I could not afford to hire babysitters or go out very much. We tended to find creative ways to spend time together and that time usually took place after the girls' bedtime. Greg was on third shift and therefore up a lot later than he is now with a 4am alarm. Anyway, we loved watching Emeril Lagasse's show and would inevitably end up hungry late at night. Given our kitchen was never stocked with anything remotely similar to Emeril's TV kitchen, we accepted omelettes as our best available option. Late night omelettes in bed were born and we made them frequently for years.

Greg found out last week he would be off for Good Friday. Our kids would all be at school or work so I told Ava's mom I needed Ava to go to preschool that morning as well. I stocked the fridge with our favorite omelette ingredients and planned for a lazy morning reminiscent of our early marriage days to finally connect after a few very long weeks of busy life. We have barely seen each other awake this week and major life decisions are being made through text messages. This is a full season and to endure it gracefully, we have to carve out time for us wherever we can.

And then Kate's asthma derailed our plans. Sister was up most of the night, for the third night in a row coughing and struggling. Guess who did not go to school on Good Friday? Life with kids looks like this more often than not and we are rolling with the punches. Again. We still ate omelettes but at the table like normal people and some of those big decisions? We still had to text each other. We do what we have to do because the same children who cannot hear a direct request always hear private conversations. But we slipped away for a quick lunch with our favorite third grader and I snagged a very quick rain puddle session with Ava. If inclined, a link to see the results is

Kate's asthma attack was truly frightening Tuesday night. I was up all night with her in debate as to whether or not she needed emergency treatment. In the doctor's office on Wednesday she got three medications in a breathing treatment and went home with a nebulizer. The next day, she was still struggling so steriod therapy was added. We have made adjustments to her maintenance medications and are hoping the rain we are getting all weekend knocks the pollen down so she can get a break. Recognizing we didn't even know she had asthma this time last year makes this event that much more shocking. I seriously didn't see it coming. And her attendance this semester? Deplorable. Surgery, flu and now three days with an asthma episode has her missing day 15. Thank God we have perfect attendance from last year to show we aren't neglecting school, just dealing with life and stack of medical bills.

I am meeting two new friends at the local coffee shop Saturday morning to discuss natural treatments for autoimmune diseases. All three of us are battling for our health right now and struggling to find balance between conventional medicine that has us all being prescribed anti-inflammatory medications and in my case, biologics to suppress my immune system. I simply cannot give in yet. Despite what my doctor calls a good run of ten years medicine free, she wants me to assess the quality of my life in pain versus the potential long term ramifications. I am not there yet so we are starting a support group to help us navigate being off all grains and sugar again. Each of us has had success in the past and know what we need to do but aknowledge just how challenging it is to follow such strict guidelines in our homes where everyone else is eating whatever they want in front of us. I am grateful this leg of my health journey appears to include friends who are making similar decisions.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monday? Already?

On Fridays, he often asks to sleep on the couch. The progression of what he calls a sleepover in the living room.....

Saturday morning the kids and I volunteered at our local St. Baldrick's event. We played carnival games with kids and generously handed out prizes until we were caught by administrators. And then we were more discreet.

Kate and I then grabbed soup and salad together and made our way over to a craft store for a cart she has sought for organization purposes. Since it came in a box, she had quite a bit of "help". And that night we enjoyed sitting by a bonfire and watching the airshow overhead while most of the locals battled Thunder over Louisville crowds. This was our 12th Thunder and we've yet to attempt it. I doubt we ever will. People literally camp on the river front from early morning until they start at 9:30 that night and then spend a couple of hours fighting traffic to get home. We had our own crowd of sorts as Kate and Ty both climbed into our bed to watch on our TV with us.

Spring is deceptive. We are absolutely as busy as the holiday season but fail to to fully aknowledge it. We have full calendars until the end of May as we wrap up school and extra curricular activities. I struggle to stick with our 8pm bedtime this time of year as I too want to be outside now that we comfortably can be. But to help us, Ty and I just finished a bedtime storybook, Finchasaurus and Kate has joined us for another promising title, Pax. It's been a long while since one book could appeal to both kids as their ages and interests are so vastly opposite. But I love having one snuggled against me on each side as we gather in Ty's bed for a half hour each evening. This too will pass much too quickly.

Despite groanings of sore throats, "school is stupid" and "I need another Sunday" complaints, everyone survived their Monday responsibilities today including a late grocery run for the people who eat as though it is an Olympic event around here.

Sunday, April 7, 2019


He returned safely from Mexico bragging about the tacos; of course he did. As I worked three different events Saturday, he ran our home and that night we finally connected as a family. Our marriage sometimes looks like a truce over an on-going battle about the condition of recycling bins and other times it's simple memories made over a smoker and the first bonfire of the year. We like this season, both in relationship and weather.

Erin, ever reluctant to be in front of my camera finally conceded when I played a card I wouldn't normally. She lives here rent free. She claims to have worked her way through all the stages of grief and come to terms with her belated birthday photo shoot. So here she is, twenty-four, beautiful, sassy and hilarious. She is the same child who grounded herself as a teen after an error in judgment because we clearly didn't know how to parent. There are moments I am convinced she hasn't wavered in her opinion but she likes us and we like her so somewhere along the way, we managed to get something right.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

This Week

Benjamin spent last weekend with us as he was kicking off his spring break and we were wrapping up ours. I miss this boy and am happy to report his life is as settled as possible for the moment.

After taking a couple months hiatus from electronic devices, Ty got his ipod back. We installed an app that allows him to text people I first approve through my messenger app. After his first evening with this new found communication tool, I received a phone call letting me know Ty was inviting family to Easter and my mom was suspicious I was a little out of the loop. As it turns out, she was right. So apparently I am hosting Easter this year? It's a good thing I actually enjoy big family meals and don't mind at all but that being Ty's first order of independent business amuses me.

Monday Ty left for school early with an aid in his building we happen to know well so they could play a couple harmless April fools pranks on his teachers. He was quite excited and believes he is not a suspect.

While he was away, I cleaned and organized his room as it had reached the point of being too big a job for him to tackle independently. Spring cleaning had to start somewhere I decided his room was the most obvious choice until the oldest girls move out later this year. The result of a clear cubby system? He created a makeshift desk for himself and quickly got to work writing a fan letter to his favorite minecraft gamer complete with a drawing. He is now working on a letter to his buddy who has written Ty a couple of times. Add discovering his headlamp flashlight and a book in his bed one morning and I have hope he may finally be turning a corner as he has always been a reluctant reader and writer.

Greg is in Mexico a few days this week for work. This does not sit well with me given how turbulent the situation is along the border. I am praying for his safety throughout his trip and anxious to get him home Friday night. This is the same man who thought wearing Ohio State gear in Michigan last month for a business trip was a wise decision. But Ty is occupying his daddy's side of the bed and we are enjoying easier dinners as it seems I don't cook as much when Greg is away.

I have a little friend from church coming over after her preschool program for a couple of hours a week until the school year ends. Ava loves having someone to play with and they made fast friends. Ivy's spunk matches Ava's and so far, they are adorable together.

Oh, and Thursday morning Kate woke with a rubber rat in her bed. Ty believes he is not a suspect.