Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I am cooking potatoes enough for tonight's dinner along with enough to feed Eldon for most of the rest of the week (his new favorite- he gets that from me!) so, while they boil, I will post a few pictures. We had a fantastic thanksgiving weekend! But how could we not, with the combination of fried turkey, wine, politics, and Grammy Pammy doing the hula hoop on the Wii?

Lorraine's first grade class did an ant play this year- definitely one of the highlights of the season for our family! She practiced her song for days and days (her siblings knew it too!). Here she is in her ant hat.

Thanksgiving fun, as always, included wrestling and dancing too! Here's Aggie shakin' it like only Aggie can!

Ah, Marcus. What a personality! Uncle Luke thought "footie pyjamas" were not manly enough for a kid like Marcus, so he helped him make even those a bit more masculine.

Yesterday we celebrated my THIRTIETH birthday! People seem to think I ought to be traumatized about this birthday but really, I have identified with the over- thirty crowd for quite a long time now. How could I not? With five children... and a FULL sized van.... It has been a long time since I could stay awake past ten pm!
Now, we deal with the Thanksgiving after-party "crash." Not really the best time for Josh and I to pack the kids in the van and go for a blood draw, then to Target, then Hobby Lobby, then Kohl's, then Walmart like we did today for some reason... but nobody ever said thirty is the age of wisdom!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Marcus had a rough week- he started out one morning falling out of bed. It's not that unusual that someone falls out of bed, of course, but this time it was a little worse than normal. Josh heard the THUD around 530 and got up with him. He did just as I would have done, "Hey honey you just fell out of bed, you're ok" pat on the head, "get back in bed now goodnight." Well when I got up at 630 we saw his head:

Apparently he'd landed on his train! There was blood on his pillow and his cut was really quite nasty! Josh had to shave his head down a little to get to it (now he has a "high and tight"), he cleaned it out, put peroxide on it etc. Marcus hadn't been complaining about it until daddy got involved, and of course he hated the cleaning process. So most of the week he pointed to his head and said, "Daddy hurt me!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" screamed Seth. (There is no middle ground with his cries of distress- every one makes it sound like he will have to be rushed to the hospital.) He was having trouble with one of his toys and decided to try fixing the problem with screams. Daddy jumped in and got the toy working right, saying “See Seth, rather than screaming, we can use the brains God gave us to figure out what is going on and fix it.” Seth took the toy back and said humbly, “But daddy, my brains aren't very strong yet.”

Actually Seth's brains are getting quite "strong." He's really interested in phonics and spelling and is actually reading a little bit! (I guess Josh's brother taught himself to read before he was four too!) His spelling interest is almost on the compulsive side, and he doesn't seem to know when it is inappropriate to focus on it. For example, "Seth! We just talked about this- you must NOT hit your brother! Do you understand me?!?!" "Mommy! Hit has an H in it! HIT... and a T!"

Eldon is still as sparky as ever. He wants to stand all the time, and can actually cruise along the couch a bit. These new abilities make him slightly more content to be on the floor rather than on my hip, at least in certain moods. He still screams bloody murder when he's in his highchair waiting for his food. Yesterday I was feeling a bit immature, so as I got his food around I started yelling right back at him, imitating his scream to him. His scream immediately turned into laughter. What a faker!

Marcus loves to call people by their last names. We watched the movie UP the other day and at his favorite parts he would yell, “Schneider, LOOK!” The other day Aunt Mary Anne came by to drop off something and as she walked away he put his pathetic face on the window and cried “Schneider house! Schneider house!!!!!!” as he beat on the glass.

He is definitely a charming kid. Often he crawls up on the couch next to me, puts his arm around me and said “I love you mommy.” Yesterday after he said that he looked at the people sitting on the other couch and said. “I love Schneider too. And I love Vandercar too.” What a kid!

(above) Eldon just loves being on of the guys!

One morning Eldon was watching me put the laundry in, sitting on the basement floor by my feet on a rug. I noticed he was chewing on something that looked like a small stick, so after I put the clothes in I grabbed it out of his mouth...

was it a stick? noooo, much, much worse! it was a dead, dried up earthworm!

That earthworm got me thinking of all the nasty things the kids have eaten at some point- it is amazing kids survive childhood sometime! Here's the short list:

Lorraine: sidewalk chalk, carpet cleaner, cat food (she smelled like fish all day!)

Aggie: a live cricket (she jumped when it wiggled and took it out of her mouth. apparently even babies know food is not supposed to move.), hair from a stuffed Elmo

Seth: chewed and swallowed four christmas lights

Marcus: where do I start? the worst one that comes to mind: drank black sandbox water that had been sitting, rotting with leaves and who knows what else for days...

Of course they have all tried the normal things: sand, leaves, dog food, dust bunnies, old chicken nuggets they find in the car, shoes, rocks, grass

Hmmm... has my perception of "normal" changed over the years?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

survival mode and Aggie update

For one reason or another we've been on survival mode the past two weeks. (Survival mode = much lower standards! If we make it through the day and everyone has eaten and is relatively clean, it's a good day!) It has just been an accumulation of little things, colds, holiday preparation, etc. I have thought of blogging a few times this week, but now feel like I have so many little anecdotes to report I don't know where to start! So instead of doing nothing, I will start with the most asked about child- Aggie.

We are officially to the point of weaning medicine that makes me nervous. Trileptal was the one medicine we thought helped her seizures last fall, and we are now just passing the dose that (may have) made a difference. She was taking 6ml twice a day before her surgery- she is now down to 1.5ml twice a day, and should be completely off of it in three more weeks! (after this she has one more med to go, which she will not start weaning until after her Cleveland appt in January.) And still, no seizures! While technically we are still supposed to take seizure precautions with her, we have relaxed significantly- I am even able to let her out of my sight without panicking now!

While we have not seen seizures, she is definitely "quirky." If you have been around her, you know what I mean. For those who haven't, how do I explain? Her word-finding troubles are probably the most noticeable. The meds may or may not be to blame for that- her neurologist reminded us at her appointment last week that her year of seizures did basically take away a year of development- so though she is five, it is not surprising to see behaviors that are typical of a much younger child.

There are times I feel a little like I did when she had constant seizures- during some days, or even parts of days, she is very difficult to communicate with and does very odd things (chewing on everything, repetitive behavior, talking to herself, wanting to play by herself- this is odd for Aggie! etc) She absolutely cannot miss a nap or she becomes completely goofy. Yet sometimes she has long stretches of "normal" Aggie behavior.

If I get comfortable seeing her as the old Aggie, normal Aggie, then when the quirks come up I get frustrated and worried. But if I cut her a little slack, remember what she has been through, and accept the fact that she still has special needs, then her quirks are just quirks, and they become much easier for me to handle. Her special needs may go away after she's off the meds and completely healed from surgery, or they may not, but for now they are here, undefined, and unpredictable.

So (after struggling with these thoughts for awhile,) I think, so what? So she's quirky, she's HERE, she's alive, and compared to where she was before, she's doing GREAT! Her "quirks" are much less problematic than the seizures, and we get to see her huge Aggie smile several times a day. And her unique, Aggie personality is shining brightly-

Every morning when I wake Lorraine up to go to school Aggie whines "Don't turn on the light! I want to still sleep!" As Lorraine gets dressed in the bathroom, Aggie lays in bed for just a moment before she hops out of bed and quietly makes both of their beds. Then she runs to get Lorraine for the big surprise, "Rainey, you have to close your eyes and come to your room and see, it's so beautiful!" Lorraine is very good about playing along even though she has ceased being surprised a long time ago!

One day I let her take a nap in my room. After about an hour (not near enough time for a typical Aggie sized nap,) Aggie came out of my room. "Mommy, I'm ready to get up now. I sleepded already." I knew this was untrue, because she looked relatively put together for Aggie. When she really does sleep, she comes out of her room looking like she's just had a ride on a helicopter.

"Aggie, did you really sleep?"
Her mouth was going a million miles a minute already. "Oh yes mommy, I sleepded really good. I sleepded in your bed and I am ready to get up now but mommy... I have to show you something." She got very serious and took my hand. I let her lead me into my room to the table by the side of my bed. My digital clock said 11:37pm.
"Mommy I sleepded but the numbers....the numbers.... I don't know what happened to the numbers because I sleepded really good and my feet were under the covers and.... I was being good... and my feet were sleeping under the covers... and look I made your bed for you...and I'm really sorry mommy..... but my feet where under the covers but the numbers.... I don't... my feet... I sleepded I really did.... my feet... ............maybe my fingers did it."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

halloween highlights!

After a rough start (took the wrong 465 around Indy, then arrived to Hastings where the power was out all night and most of the next day!) our Halloween weekend was great fun! I was so glad for Mary Anne's help, especially in the van. We actually made it all the way to Michigan and back WITH our sanity!

Here are some of my favorite pictures!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Growing up

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is a common question that leads to an entertaining conversation around our dinner table.

“I want to be a mommy and have ten babies when I grow up!”

“I want to be a car fixer!”

“I want to be a princess when I grow up.”

“When I grow up, I want to be Peter Pan!!!”

“I'm going to give spankings when I grow up.”

While we may occasionally get a glimpse into what is important to each child as they answer this question, more often we just get a good laugh. Children really cannot comprehend life that far in the future. As we all know, kids tend to think that life is going to stay just as it is right now, forever. Kids enjoy being kids, and if childhood were to last forever, well, that would be just fine really.

We try to help them overcome their focus on the present by asking questions about their hypothetical futures. We enjoy thinking about them 10, even 20 years into the future, with a job and maybe a family of their own. “What will life be like then?” we wonder, we cheerfully imagine.

Yet, for me at least, I only want to think just so far into the future, not too far, or I get uncomfortable. There is a certain point in the distant future that is quite hazy, and I am content to keep it that way. Those fuzzy areas contain those harsh realities of living in a fallen world: times of loss, of aging, and of dying.

Truth be told, when things are going well, I am a bit like my children. I am quite comfortable here in this world. If this mortal life were to go on forever... well, some days, that would be just fine with me.

Of course, I did not feel that way at all as I watched Aggie deteriorate from her brain tumor this summer. Nor did I feel that way when my husband went off to war. Times of trial open our eyes to those fuzzy areas of life, and as we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, we pray, hope, and beg that this life will not last forever.

It will not. We know from looking around, and we know from God's word:

It will not always be this way.

Nine years ago my Grandma Lorraine was called home to be with the Lord. She was a mother of eight, grandmother of nineteen, and walked closely with her Lord. She came to our wedding with joy in 2000, upheld by Him though she was being treated for leukemia. A month later she was taken to be with Him. My children probably would have reminded her of her own rambunctious clan. They never got to meet her, but I am sure the would have loved her. We do not talk about her much anymore. I suspect I avoid it partly because just the mention of loved ones who have gone before remind me of this change that is coming, and it makes me uncomfortable.

It will not always be this way. They will love her when they get to know her.

As we celebrate All Saints Day this year we think of those who have gone on before us, who have undergone that final and perfect change. They have faced death and been made truly alive, freed forever from their sins. They are perfectly grown up: fully redeemed in Christ. As we follow behind them, we confidently hope we shall join them soon, in that place where change and tears have past.

Resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:9-11