Friday, February 29, 2008

Trying a new look...

Not sure I like it. What do you think?

*edited one more time*
Ok, I put the dashboard link in my Check 'em Out section and it WORKED!! I OFFICIALLY LOVE my new look! I am no longer looking for opinions! Thank you anyway, though...
*edited again to add*
Now we are talking. But my dashboard won't show up. Making it a pain to write a new post. I had to use Nicki's blog to get to my own dashboard. It's pretty, but not functional. With another foot of snow coming my way, I'll keep it for now!!

*edited to add*
Ok, I wasn't even looking at the computer when I decided I didn't like the template. I might need a life!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What a FACE!

When he says, "Mom, take picture me!"










Really, who could resist.



Now, let's talk chocolate. We finally received the word that Savannah's chemo would be stopping on Friday. No one close to her is enormously surprised, but it was a sad event nonetheless. To curb an evening of wallowing in self-pity, Melissa and I had decided to spend the evening at my house, with families, and play the chocolate bar game. We invited Christine, too, who was more than happy to come.

The Smiths taught it to the Hurleys a couple of weeks ago. The game is played by taking a half pound Hershey bar and wrapping it in a paper bag. Add a layer of packing tape (duct tape for a true challenge), more paper bag, and more tape. Everyone at the table has a fork and a butter knife, and takes turns rolling two dice. When someone rolls a double, they get to have the wrapped up chocolate bar, and can try to open it using only the fork and knife, no touching with hands. Once it's open, you try to pry out the chocolate, still using no hands. But you never know how long your turn will be, because everyone else is still passing the dice around the table, hoping to be the one to take it from you! Even when the bar is opened, the dice keep rolling, and you may or may not get a bite!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Illness Strikes Again...and again, and again, and again

This winter is going down in the record books for the most snow and sick of my entire life.

Never did post the end pic of that last storm, so here you are:
















Yeah. I know.
















And my friend Melissa came over that day, crazy brave woman that she is. Eat it up Josiah. *sigh* And please beat Sarah for telling Nicki it was cold there the other day. As if.
















Her van actually PUSHED the snow along to get in the driveway.















Another foot last night. Inches coming tonight, and I don't even want to talk about Monday. My husband was laying all of this cheerful news on me, and I gave him my dirtiest look and told him to stop talking.

Nicki's sick now, and I feel her pain, I mean I can really sympathize. The aches and pains, misery and woe. Emily is over here for nap time, so that Mommy can actually nap. She likes to talk. I mean REALLY likes to talk. It tends to make me cringe and want to call my mom and my dad and apologize for my own childhood. After all, I clearly remember being accused of talking to hear the sound of my own voice. A LOT!
The Invisible Thread

We went to visit my grandparents once a week through my teenage years, generally on Sunday. In fact, it was quite the ritual, we would go up Sunday afternoon, visit, order pizzas for supper, and then play cards into the evening. Hand 'n' Foot was our preferred game, but that’s another story.

One visit in particular, Granddad was obviously troubled. With a twinkle in his eye, he told us of the impending shopping trip Grammy had planned. He wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out, and was fairly upset. You see, Grammy had told him she needed to go to the store, and pick up some invisible thread. “I don’t know how we will know where to find it. I’m not sure how we will know when we have it. Will we need to pay for it? And if so, how can we be sure what we are really getting? White thread, that we have done no problem, black, and even looked for just the right brown or blue. But invisible? I just don’t know…”

Of course, invisible thread is used in quilting, to quilt together your top and bottom fabrics. My grandmother is renowned for her beautiful, hand-stitched quilts. In our family a tied quilt doesn’t exist. I am certain Granddad had not only seen the invisible thread before, but probably gone with her to buy it. But that was the kind of gentle, teasing man he was. He latched on to the strange sound of it, and ran with it for about fifteen minutes straight.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ok, I'm going to do it...

No, Sheila, I am NOT having another baby.

I am going to write a book. I decided what I wanted to write in the shower tonight. By the way, if I could get away with it I would like to take fewer showers, as it appears my brain hits overdrive in the steam.

But anyway, because I know you are in suspense, waiting with baited breath, I am going to write a book of (drum roll please.....)

(Wait for it...)

(Here it comes...)

My family. My family's stories, to be more specific. Sadly, you may have to have had the great fortune of being born into my family (or brave gumption to have married into it) to ever read the whole thing. But I will post stories from time to time here. Amongst the basketball movies and snow pictures. The first one will be about how my grandparents met.

How my grandparents met:

My grandfather was drafted into World War II. He was sent to Missouri (Miz-ur-ah, if you please) for basic training, and was trained to be an airplane mechanic. He was then eventually shipped overseas to Okinawa Japan, but fortunately it was after the U.S. had already taken the little island, and the fighting there was over.

But while in Missouri, he met the love of his life. He had been fully intending, or at least expected, to marry a young lady from his hometown of Riley, Maine. She was a very nice young lady, and had the U.S. Army not intervened this story you are about to read would likely have been very different. There is even the slightest chance it would not have been worth writing, though if you knew my granddad, it probably would.

You see, while stationed at the base in Missouri, he had a pass with some of his Army buddies to leave the base. They decided to see a movie, and while standing outside the movie theater, these three men saw three young ladies. Without hesitation, my granddad’s buddies paired off with two of the ladies. My granddad looked at my grandmother, and asked if she would like to join him. Her response spoke volumes, “Well, I’m not about to stand out here by myself, am I?”

I have often wondered about that. Was she sarcastic in her tone, I really don’t think so. I have seen the senior pictures my grandparents had taken, and they were both very good-looking people. I wonder what he must have thought, in the 40’s, having a woman speak like that. Did he think she had spunk? Did he cringe and think the only reason she joined him was to avoid the awkward circumstance of standing outside alone?
They haven’t shared with me what prompted them to meet up again. I do not know if they, or the friends they were each with, exchanged phone numbers or other details. None of that has mattered to me, I simply hang on to those marvelous words, “Well, I’m not about to stand out here by myself, am I?”

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Turn...

Most of you wouldn't know (or be surprised), but there are several families in our church in Farmington who homeschool their children. While not a necessity, religion is often a springboard for homeschooling families, as it is a way to reinforce values as a part of the educating process. Certainly faith based ideas are not taught in the public school system, nor do I think they should be, as the contention it would cause would be over-whelming, even in my tiny town of 5,000 or so.

The question was recently presented on a blog that 4 of them contribute to, "Why do you homeschool?" And each of the 4 contributors responded with their own reasons. I read the first one a few days ago, and in doing so even had about 13 seconds of a twinge of guilt. I love my children, I see challenges from public school, I love spending time with them, but also love being able to send them to school, does that mean school is just a (somewhat) cheap babysitter for me?

Then I literally shook my head, and thought, "Wait, what are my reasons for sending my children to public school?" So, in the interest of sharing, and with no Spirit of contention at all (for I truly believe the decision is individual) I would like to share my reasons in this forum.

We bought our house in Jay for a few reasons, it was central to family, the furthest set of grandparents was only 5 minutes away at the time. Taxes are low, thanks to the mill, curbside pickup for everyone didn't hurt, and my husband graduated from the small school district, which was still small. I put Dustin into a private Preschool when he was 4. I was surprised to learn then that some children began at 3. I told people who would ask if he enjoyed school, "Oh yes, my little socialite finally has a social gathering to go to!" When Dustin was 4, he, Brian (2), and my mom and I went swimming at the beach. Dustin started talking to a couple of girls who were maybe 8 or 9. It went like this, "Hi, my name is Dustin Jones, and that's my brother, Brian Jones, and his whole name is Brian Scott Jones, and my whole name is Dustin William Jones, and I'm 4 years old, and he's 2 years old..." And in under 3 minutes he was happily sharing a foam noodle with them. Dustin is a very social person.

He has benefitted greatly from public school. He has had successes, the GT program in Jay is run by his dear friend's father, and this man alone has inspired Dustin to seek for greatness. Mr. Taylor was also instrumental in bringing the Gear-Up program to Jay Middle School, any middle school student could attend. When Dustin arrived home from day 5 of the five day program, he informed me that he wanted to invent the new fuel to replace gasoline. I never would have dreamt I had that potential at his age. His grades are through the roof. His friends all have grades through the roof. Numerous teachers have commented to me personally what a joy his class of 45-50 students is, how attentive and well-behaved and kind they are collectively. We are truly blessed. He also has failed. He did not make the Middle school basketball team, and pretend I told you (though I never would) he cried when he was cut in the first round. But he survived, and realized that basketball is not the end of the world.

Brian came into this world a very different child. Much more like his mom than his dad, socializing is not a natural thing to him. Unlike his mom, he had the added stress of speech problems. His bright shining eyes had many thoughts to share, but he didn't know how to form the words. After 6 months of speech therapy, at age 2 1/2, he finally uttered "Mom" for the first time. People would say, "What does he call you?" "He doesn't, I am always here." At age 3 he was in a preschool for developmentally challenged children, due to his expressive speech delays. It was a great experience for him, and at 4 he went there and to the private preschool Dustin attended.

This preschool taught a concept unheard of to me. Children were not encouraged to take turns. If one child had a toy, and you wanted it, you were told to wait until they were done. But isn't it that way in the real world?

Brian LOVED the other children. He did not readily know how to interact with them, but at that age they were very kind, and he learned from them as much as the teacher. He was so much better prepared for school, because of it. Brian is a child who always roots for the underdog. In our home, he supports the Yankees, and Jeff Gordon. No one else likes either of them. At school, he plays with the children who no one else wants to play with. "Everyone was playing football, but Bradley didn't want to, so I played with Bradley today." Thank goodness his class has him there.

With much suffering on my own part, he has had the extra help to accomplish his lessons at school. An ed-tech for his first 3 years, but he has overcome those needs, and not had one these last 2 years. He still hates writing. But he can come up with ideas now that meet the teacher's request. He likes bugs, even picks them up. He would never have learned that from me. My children all have interests that do not relate to me or Bill, but that enrich their lives.

Michael is a hard one. The preschool closed, so i took him to a daycare in Farmington that had a preschool program. It was expensive, though, and he only went through Christmastime. He didn't like it, and I worried because he would not speak up to the teacher there when he was upset.

He liked kindergarten for the most part, until they put security cameras in the hallways over Christmas break. He had an excellent teacher who maintained order and could teach even with 18 kids. He was sure the security cameras were out to get him, though, and 2 were directly above his classroom door. But I finally asked him if he thought the camera could jump down off the wall and scold him if he was naughty, he laughed, and overcame his fear.

He came home from his first day of first grade, and asked if I would homeschool him. I asked him why, and he missed me, and school was too hard. His best friend Zakary was also in another class. I told him that he was a smart kid, and could learn the things he needed to with time. He still has frustration, but I remind him of how much he has learned already. He made some new friends, particularly Andrew and Owen, and now his complaint is only that he got his name on the board once. "It's a pretty silly rule, only one person at the trash can at a time, I needed to empty my pencil sharpener." But, he still goes back, and he follows class rules as best he can. He also cried last month about the fact that he had never been voted good citizen. I asked his teacher, in an effort to keep the program positive, what could I encourage him to do to be a good citizen. She said he needed to stay on task and complete his work, and also he had been talking when he should have been working, so he had gotten his name on the board. That one he didn't share with me ;-)! I told him this, he tried harder, and today announced he was good citizen this month!! He was tickled pink at his accomplishment.

When baseball starts in April, Dustin and Brian will both be exercising steers daily, and with school, homework, and household chores our life will be very full. I will wish I had more time with them at home. But, I cannot put that above the great accomplishments they have had.

My children are the only Latter-Day Saint children in the entire school district. Thank goodness they are there! Dustin was in a discussion last year with his class about different religions. He came home and asked for a picture of the First Vision, an artist depiction of when Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, in a grove of trees in 1820. He wanted to bring it to school and show the class. This experience did not convert the 13 children in the class to "Mormonism". But, it strengthened my son's testimony, and perhaps touched a heart. Simply having the Holy Ghost with a person, and putting the person in a place, can bring the Spirit to that place.

I am grateful for good teachers. I am grateful for strong children, and a voice that can be heard in our district. I am grateful for public education.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

Well, I took more pictures after another day of snow. Yes, the last ones were in the morning. But rather than post such a dismal sight as my front yard, I thought I would treat you to the warm, though somewhat dark, occurrences of our living room tonight. Pop some popcorn, and enjoy!



video

If you live in Maine, I'm sorry...

Although I am sick and tired of snow, I don't have much else to blog. Snow is somewhat consuming my our lives here in the north. So, in case you don't live up here, I thought I would share with you the view from my dining room table. If you do, you might still be interested, as living on a cement slab gives an unusual perspective for our area.And an update on the creation in the yard that no one has bothered to yell about so I still don't know what it is:The snowman in the back is leaning terribly, I know!And just so you don't think I was trying to give you the worst perspective first:This is from about the same area as before, only standing up. Did the Groundhog see his shadow? Please?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lucky Dog?

Bill came home last night, and I had made a HUGE pot of chicken soup. Thinking he had been out in the cold all day, it would toast him up nicely. For fun, I even made biscuits. They aren't hard to make, but while he loves them I generally despise them, so I never think to bother.

He walked in the door and asked if I minded if he went to bed.

He actually dozed in the recliner while we ate, then retired to his bed around 7.

I was awake at 12 am, thinking to myself, "Any minute now. Any minute." Midnight was a general time for things to hit the fan. I even had spoke to Melissa about plans for today, but they were in the air if Bill was home sick.

He woke up at 5:30. To his alarm. He got up and went to work. I'd be green with envy if I weren't SO relieved! I suppose, having cleaned up after FIVE, yes, FIVE, people's... well... you know, he deserved a break. But I could have sworn he was doomed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

We are converting... to hypochondriacism.

Oh, we have been sick. I mean S-I-C-K. Last Sunday Brian complained his belly hurt, and we assumed a trip to the bathroom at some point would alleviate it. We had plans to go sliding at the Jones family farm, and no one, not even Brian wanted to dissuade that. So he threw up in the hallway at church. A new first for us.

Then he was better, he stayed home Monday to be sure, but was fine.

Tuesday we had company for dinner, and as dinner cooked my stomach pained me a bit. I ignored it for pork roast. I was ill at 7:30. And 8:00. And 1 AM.

Michael was at 2 AM. Zachary was at somewhere near 4, I think. Anyway, Bill of course took Wednesday off, which makes 2 sick days already this year, that will come back to haunt us in September, fair season, when he can only take time off that way per the arrangement he has with his boss.

I think both Michael and Zachary were sick numerous times Wednesday, though I was in bed, so it's hard to be sure. Dustin escaped to the real world unscathed, but Brian's school was cancelled due to the snow, and Dustin was sent home early.

Then came Thursday, when I had all I could do to crawl out of bed. I just couldn't bounce back. Bill went in late, after a run to the grocery store to enable implementation of the BRAT diet. The boys, except Michael, went to school, and things went ok, not good, but I plowed my way through. I think I was the most exhausted of us all, still. Then, about 3:45, with Brian and Dustin home so I could rest, Z snuck an Oreo. Then he lost his Oreo. So I called Bill, who was at the shop, not on a job site, and he came home early. Brian and Dustin were valiant, but far too young to really cope with someone else's... you know.

Friday, everyone was back in school. I slept on the couch... ALOT. The clock dragged on, but eventually it was the weekend. Saturday my great achievement was getting Zachary into a bath, swapping a load of laundry, and readying us for a trip to Walmart, without stopping to nap. I spent the trip sitting in the pharmacy waiting in line for Zachary's asthma prescription while Bill and the boys gathered necessities, like printer ink and Scotch tape (please, don't ask).

I got talked into going to Kelly's to scrapbook with Nicki. Bill said it would do me good to get out. I suspect he felt it would do HIM good, too! And NASCAR was on.

I went. I was WASTED by the time I got home, but for an hour or so I felt human while I was there. And I got some stuff done.

Then came Sunday. From Friday on, my goal had been to get to church on Sunday. I succeeded, in spite of the ADDITIONAL 10 inches of snow we were receiving, and was grateful we only had sacrament meeting, our church is usually 3 hours long. I came home, took a 4 hour nap (nobody woke me up, and I didn't wake on my own until then), and really felt quite a bit better. The only risidual symptom for anyone at this point is Z needing a diaper change twenty minutes after he eats.

I was ready to call the thing kicked.

Then Dustin was sick last night. He's up and about now, almost wishing he went to school 'cuz he's bored. Z is strictly on the BRAT diet today, not just being encouraged in that direction. But when the school called at noon time, and Michael was saying his belly hurt, I rushed down there to get him. No more messing around!

Needless to say, I have no pictures for this post!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

4 hours of my life I will never get back...

I pulled out my scrapbook supplies at 11:30 this morning, after taking some time to clean my living room. I had a set of very crafty pictures, and I have these very crafty supplies that came in a tote Kevin gave me for Christmas. So, I challenged myself to use them. And 4 hours (and lunch time, and nap time, and numerous other things included) later, here it is:
So, I picked up my stuff, and now I await a visit from Princess Savannah. And her mom. They are stopping in on their way home from the hospital, to give her husband a little more time to get the place picked up a bit. It's apparently in bad enough condition that he warned her about it. On the plus side, she said she would bring me this:

Because I haven't left my house due to this:

and especially this:

I couldn't get out without shoveling, and even a Diet Pepsi isn't worth that, when Bill can do it with the snowblower, or Kevin with his truck, or George, or Everett, really, the list goes on. I'd rather wait.
The kids had no school, so they went out and did this:

and this:

I have no idea what that one is, sorry. But it's beautiful, and I'm sure it will be treasured until it melts. With the occassional, "Mom, he's wrecking my ***." To which I will roll my eyes, but at least then I will know what it is!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Undefeated!


















Basketball is over, yeah! Er, I mean, Dustin is thrilled, we had the championship games this past Saturday, and his team was able to remain undefeated for the season! Those in attendance for more than a few games might contend they actually didn't play as well as they usually do, but Dustin has definitely improved through the season as a whole! We are grateful to his coach, for not only taking the time, but having the ability to really coach, you don't always get that with volunteers!





I also managed to get some pictures of Dustin's calves, they aren't great because it's awfully crowded in the barn right now! There is enough room for the animals, but add in two adults and the three kids, and it starts to feel cramped. It was so icy and chilly we couldn't take them outside. They have cute little blankets on to help them be warm, but with all the animals in a small space that's not really much of a problem!





























I also took a shot of Kevin's calves. He got them a month or so ago, Brown Swiss like Dustin had his first year in 4H. As a 4H leader, I think Kevin figured if one of the kids in the club was scrambling at the last minute to get a pair he would have one available. Of course, he enjoys showing calves, too, and he will have a pair to demonstrate things with if he ends up keeping them for himself.









I am sure there will be more pictures to post as the year wears on! Now I'm off to sit in the living room and watch the Super Bowl. Because you know me, that's just the kind of sports fanatic I am. Yeah.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Epiphany!

As a mother of four boys, active boys at that, I have often wondered about ducks. That's right, I said ducks. Mother ducks have a power and discipline that I have longed to be able to understand, and then emulate. They keep all of their little babies close, they follow so diligently and organized. Then it hit me, I literally laughed aloud when I realized that I not only knew how they did it, but that I DO manage to emulate them.
These adorable balls of fluff, busy and active as they are, must follow their mama because she just quacked, "Fine, then I'm leaving without you. Good-bye!!"

Friday, February 1, 2008

I read it on the internet, it must be true...

Uh, no. For example, you cannot raise money for anything by emailing things to people, and if you send 20 people an email that is a petition, then those 20 people are all circulating different petitions, and their names are not all on the same one, so give me a break.

Well, personality test emails have often given somewhat accurate descriptions of my personality. So you may be intersted to know I recently found myself decribed as Snoopy. Now, I like Snoopy, quite a bit actually, but this is how they described us Snoopy-people:

(17-23 points) You are Snoopy: You are fun, you are very cool and popular. You always know what's in and you are never are out of style. You are good at knowing how to satisfy everyone else. You have probably disappeared for a few days more than once but you always come home with the family values that you learned. Being married and having children are important to you, but only after you have had your share of fun times.

I was married at 18, had my first baby while 19, and now have 4 kids. Yeah, right.