Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ramble/ C&S Anniversary

Mr C and the Middle Boys are on their way home from Becky's house. They worked with Stephen and Doug (Stephen's Dad) to get another new roof onto the house. Then they moved to the inside and began gutting the bedroom. The ceiling and carpet had to be removed, as well as the insulation. I am not sure if they will have to take out the walls and replace the insulation and panelling in them.
Anyway- the guys are on the long drive home.

I had an outing yesterday with the twins. We met my Mom in Alma, Arkansas. She was on her way from DFW to Russellville, AR. Her cousin Ruth has a cake shop there, and gets swamped with orders about this time of year. (The Sugar Shack)
So Mom and I had a quick visit as we walked around our favorite store in Alma: A-Z Gifts. Then we had chinese food, and went our separate ways. Alma is the perfect half-way point- we arrived at our end points at the same time! I gave Mom her Pampered Chef stuff, picked up a few candles as potential gifts. They may be gifts if we don't burn them here first. Daniel could hardly wait to light one of them. It smells like (?) mulberry potpourri (?) tootsie pops (?) black cherry koolaide (?)
We actually don't know WHAT it smells like- but has a pleasant, strong fruity scent.




Today is Chris' and Seneca's second anniversary. May they be blessed with happiness today and for many years to come.






It is hard to believe this is the last day of April. Where has this year gone? We have had freezes twice this week, but last night was much milder.

I haven't replanted anything in the garden- between continual rain and freezes, it has been impossible. We are marching right along with our schoolwork. The twins are anxious to come to a stopping place so that they can go visit Becky.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bill

Chris and Bill, 1983




My second born. You have always been smart, witty, and VERY a little bit accident prone. I can hardly believe you are 27 years old.
You were born on your Great Grandfather's birthday. He decided that you would be born that day, and told everyone so months beforehand. I wish he had been with us longer, to see you grown up.
You have a way with little kids.
You know more movie trivium than anyone I have ever met. Not only do you remember movies, but pretty much anything you see goes directly into your brain, to be engraved forever.
I don't think you ever turn down a dare.
You have always been a person who lends a helping hand.
I wish that I had been able to give you a better childhood.
May you have a blessed day today, and all the rest of your life.
Happy Birthday.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tornado Magnet

In the wee hours of morning- for the SECOND time THIS MONTH.... Becky (my DD) and Stephen's trailer was damaged by a possible tornado. They have had the new roof on less than 10 days. Now they get to do it all over again.
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0Ibt3DRw0bMWIn

This is the link to pictures posted by Stephen's Mom. The one that appears to be a picture of an old blue truck is showing an extension cord hanging from the power line. The extension cord was laying on the ground before the storm hit.

Losing a roof twice in one month... It MUST be true: Trailers are tornado magnets.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Uncle Ben


Tyrel is learning the keyboard from Uncle Ben!

Friday, April 25, 2008

1999

This collage was put together from pictures taken in 1999.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blown Opportunity

I was washing my bedding today. Those night sweats left my poor down comforter rah-thur smelly. The three loads prior to the comforter did fine. Even the first run through of the comforter went OK. I just haaaad to run it a second time. The rinse cycle of the second run was the death of the washer.

Everyone knows I have wanted a front loading washing machine, practically forever. I could just see it in the laundry room today. But reality, practicality always wins out with me. I went to fixitnow.com , and discovered the problem could be fixed -today- for under $20.

I called one place, Tommy called another. The part could be had locally- froma Ace Hardware in Gentry. Less than 10 miles away. Tommy and I are back from getting the broken part- Mr. C is putting it in as I type.

No shiny new front loader for me. Washing machines and dryers are just so... indestructable. Or maybe a better word is "repairable". Easily repairable. Especially if one has an internet connection and a computer.

Not like my dishes. I had wanted a set of corning dishes with the ivy pattern... but I had 40 or so perfectly good, albeit mismatched corning dishes of other patterns. One day when the twins were about 9, they were cleaning the kitchen together. One handed the other the stack of plates... pretty much the entire plate supply at once. That many plates is heavy- and the whole stack was dropped. Smithereened.

The boys started one of their rare fistfights while blaming one another for the accident. I told them not to fight. Hey I was GLAD it happened. Or not mad about it anyway. I got my Ivy pattern!

Mommy Deaf ?

It isn't that I talk incessantly.

Small kids, middle sized kids, teens, husbands.

They just don't "hear" Mom talking to them. You finish speaking and wait for a response. In the silence, the person you have been speaking to becomes aware of your presence, as if for the first time.

"Huh? Were you talking to me?"

There is a good reason women seem to talk twice as much as men do. They have to repeat everything.

When Tom and I first married, we rented a tiny little house with a huge backyard. One afternoon, I had supper almost ready, and went to the back door to call Chris and Bill inside to wash up. They were talking to a group of teens by the back fence. (The local teens loved to stop and talk to the boys- Chris had a deep, deep voice- very surprising in a five year old. And both boys were very articulate, very bright little kids.)
After several minutes, I went back and called the boys a second time to come in and eat.
I set the table, filled their plates... and had to go call them yet again.

I stood by the door this time, waiting for them to come in. As Chris passed inside, he says to me, "In case you were wondering why we didn't come the first two times you called us- it was because we didn't hear you."

oo-kay.

Nothing like a slip-up in your cover story.
That has always been one of our favorite Chris stories.

Benjamin has come up with a cure for Mommy Deafness. I was giving him instructions one day before leaving for work. Ben stuck a finger in one ear as I was speaking. I asked him what on earth he was doing. He says, "I am stopping up one of my ears to trap your words inside my head. Then what you tell me doesn't go in one ear and out of the other."

It works. If you need your kids (or spouse) to remember what you are telling them- having them stick a finger in one ear helps them to do so.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No License

Tommy and I went out bright and early this morning quest to become reluctantly kicking and screaming official Arkansawyers.

Tommy cleared the first hurdle:
Passing the Arkansas Written Exam. Hooray Tommy!

The second hurdle- the driving test:

You have to wait 30 days after passing the witten test before you can take the driving test.

I suppose that is so all those written answers have plenty of time to soak into your brain.

Anyway- He can take the road test on May 23rd... if it is not raining or wet. Yep, that is a stipulation. You cannot take the road test if the roads are wet, nor if your car is dirty. (!)

Since it would be another half hour drive on over to the Revenuers office to get my license taken care of... I "postponed" it (again) until I have some reason to make the drive worthwhile.

Whew- I have escaped official Arkansawyerhood for another day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts in the Night

I was awake during the night last night, due to another internal thermostat malfunction. I began to think about all the boxes of "stuff" I have packed away. My 'treasures', such as they are. Packed and stored while we are entering into our fifth year of "temporary" living.

Somehow, my thinking drifted to to the Israelites wandering 40 years in the wilderness. What should have taken them only a short time to traverse took FORTY YEARS. That is a long time to lug around your 'treasures', living in the temporary.

They were learning to trust God. How long did it take them to get tired of "living out of boxes" (OK, not literal boxes) and just leave their treasured stuff behind? How long to quit whining about what they gave up when they started the move?

So what am I supposed to be learning? Let go of my stuff. Most of it isn't a real treasure to anyone but me. When I let go of the stuff , what happens next?
I don't know.
I just keep wandering around out here in the wilderness waiting for the temporariness of the journey to end and the permanence of being settled into My Home to begin.

Happy Birthday, Tommy




Happy Birthday to my fifth child.

Five is the number of grace.

Five is a "whole hand full".



Today you are 18.

Really.



You have outgrown "chicky-gators". Grandma Arlene was the one who got you started on alligators. She sent you two plastic alligators that squeaked when squeezed, for your second birthday. You thought these were the best toys, ever. (I confess: After a few days of constant squeaking- the 'gators underwent a squeak-ectomy during your nap.)
The two 'gators were your FAVORITE things, always with you. You called them "chickies", and we couldn't figure out why. At least not until your third birthday, when Dear Grandma sent you a replacement 'gator. When squeezed, it squeaked out 'Chicky, chicky'.
AHA! Mystery solved.
For your third birthday, you decided you were five. Just like the guy in the Monty Python movie- One, Two, Five.
You were insistent on being five, and cried any time anyone DARED to say you were three.
At three, you were already experimenting with cooking. You started with eggs. The first egg went onto a naked electric burner. The second try, you added a pan between the egg and the burner... but no oil. I figured we would be better off to show you how to cook under supervision than allow your experiments to continue!
You have always been quiet and determined. Stoic.
And Not Whiney.



Around the time you really turned five (or was it six?), you broke your collarbone. I didn't know it for two days. In August of the same year, you fell on the playground at school and broke your arm. You didn't shed a single tear, waiting patiently for me to arrive and take you to the hospital.
Even now, we seldom know if you are sick.
You are still quiet. You work harder than any young man I know at helping keep our house running smoothly. Cleaning, cooking, organizing, yard work, vehicle maintenance.
And you love babies. Which is a wonderful quality in a man.


You are so good at turning ideas into tangible items- a born engineer.
While getting answers to questions out of you is often like pulling alligator teeth, you are quick witted and smart. You have interesting ideas and a sweet spirit.
I want you to have a wonderful life and achieve every dream you have for yourself. You are, and have always been a blessing.
Happy 18th Anniversary of your Birthday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ducks in A Row

I now have the last stupid stinking document I need to finally get my Arkansas driver's license. I have been pushing to get that taken care of SOON, since my OK license expires at the end of May.

Yes, I KNOW the law 'requires' me to have already accomplished this little bit of vital government tracking. And had the State of Arkansas not enacted such an idiotic "anti-terrorist" law, it would have been accomplished LONG AGO.

I went down to the Bureau of Revenue... after having had to ask a native Arkansawyer where one went to obtain a driver's license. Hmmm... now why would I have not thought to look at a tax agency regarding a driver's license?

I took my OK license and my Social security card and cash money and toddled off to the Revenue office. I handed over both of these bits of documentation... and the clerk asks for my birth certificate! She says it is a fairly new anti-terrorist law- I have to present my birth certificate- not just trade in the perfectly good and legal Oklahoma license for an Arkansas one.

But I don't HAVE a copy of my birth certificate. It was lost many, many years ago. Last time I looked into getting a copy, the State of California wanted a whopping $60 (yes, SIXTY DOLLARS!) for a copy! of a birth certificate. At that time, I couldn't spare $60 (who can ever SPARE it?) for a piece of paper. Now I was being forced to spend it.

I guess with so many people being forced to obtain legal documentation these days, California had to lower its fees to accommodate the less wealthy citizens. I was able to send off for a copy of the birth certificate for $15, plus the cost of notarizing an official request, plus the cost of certified mail. In about six weeks, I got a postcard from California. It was a schedule of time to allow for official documents to be processed. A birth certificate (certified duplicate copy) took from six to nine months to process, according to the postcard. Now if I had a copy of my birth certificate already, and just need to have a change of gender , That only takes eight to twelve weeks.

I kid you not. A Change of Gender request was listed on the timetable! How weird are things in the State of my birth, that Gender Changes are frequent enough to merit their own line on a timetable?

So after a due amount of time, my birth certificate finally arrives! I learned that my Dad worked at a tomato cannery when I was born, and some other interesting trivia. It arrived just about the time BEN turned 18, so I figured to make one trip to the Revenue office to get Ben and I both fixed up. Ben had his Oklahoma learner's permit- and we had just waited until he turned 18 to get him a "real" driver's license in Arkansas. (Here I have to recount Ben's part in the adventure)

We showed up at the Arkansas Highway Patrol office, where driving TESTS are given. We were shuffled from line to line. Finally, the clerk takes Ben's OK learner's permit, and starts to set him up for the written test. I asked if he would be able to take the actual driving portion of the test the same day. She says No- he has to have his Arkansas Learner's permit for six months before he can take the road test. I say to Ben, "I'm sorry! I thought that when you turned 18, you could just take the test and get your license."
The clerk then actually looked at his paperwork.
She said "Oh, he already HAS a driver's license! You just need to take this to the revenue office and get it changed to Arkansas."
I said, "This is just a learner's permit. He needs to take the driving portion of the test."
"No, THIS is a REAL driver's license."
"It is a LEARNER's PERMIT, he has NEVER taken the road test, not even in Oklahoma"
"Ma'am, I am an Arkansas Highway Patrol OFFICER, and I am telling you it is a valid DRIVER's LICENSE."

She sent us off to the Revenuers.

The clerk there took Ben's Oklahoma LEARNER'S PERMIT, his Birth certificate and SS card... made copies, charged him a fee... and sent him over to have his picture made for his Arkansas driver's license.
Wow. That was easy.

So then it is my turn. I give her my OK license, my SS card, and my birth certificate. She looks them over and says, "I need your marriage license too."
"WHAT? Why didn't you tell me that LAST TIME I was here? You said I needed the items I brought today."
"Well you need your marriage license too. Have you ever been married before?"
"Yes, but that was well over 20 years ago."
"Doesn't matter. We will also need copies of any previous marriages and divorces."

Amazingly, I didn't leap over the counter to pummel and choke the clerk.

I am an overweight grandmother with three valid forms of identification. I have been driving for thirty years without causing an accident. They just gave my son- who has brown eyes, brown hair, an olive complexion and could masquerade as a middle easterner- a driver's license without even TESTING to see if he can actually drive- and they want me to document my life stage by stage! I walked out of there figuring I would drive with my Oklahoma license until it expires... in May 2008.

So I travelled to Ft. Worth this last Friday and paid $21 to get half a sheet of officially stamped printer paper bearing record of the marriage to the jerk/ slimeball /scuzzbucket WHN (WhatsHisName) I have been divorced from for 23+ years. I can now get an Arkansas driver's license before my Oklahoma expires.

Funny:
In line to go through security at the airport Friday morning, I glanced at my Oklahoma license, as the TSA official dealt with the person ahead of me having an expired license. I did a double-take. I expire in May 2009 , not 2008.
But I will still get this taken care of this week when I take Tommy to get his driver's license.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Word

We went to the library today, and the Twins were pointing out roadkill along the way. (It's a country kid thing) Daniel asks Sam: "Did you just see that disenheaded rabbit?"
While I ponder over just which word- or words- Dan has just butchered, he sees another roadkill, and exclaims: "There is another skunk... it was disenheaded too!"

I suppose I could just say he has coined a new word. We can add it to our family language.
One of the first words I can remember the twins coining was: "Turkey Leaf", said when they first found a turkey feather on the ground. They were barely three at the time, and knew what leaves were. And they realized the feather had fallen off the turkey in the same manner a leaf falls off of a tree.

Chris and Bill coined words too. They had liquid measurements in in "Gows" and "Gounces". They would ask for some of your drink, just a little "gow". You would think a "gow" equalled a sip... but sometimes they would chug the drink and hand you back an empty glass. Usually, a "gounce" was a large amount of something liquid- but sometimes it was smaller than a "gow".

I will have to remember some of the other words the kids have come up with over the years.

Pomp, Circumstance, and Doubt

The whole Ceremony of Graduation has reared its head again in my mind. Triggered this time by an invitation for Ben and Tommy to their friend EJ's graduation. At least I assume it is a graduation invitation. Central High High usually has this in May. (Mr C said it might be an invitation to EJ's wedding... but I don't think so!)

So here on the desk is a thick envelope addressed to the boys from EJ. When we get graduation announcements from kids we have been close to over the years, I try to send them a little something. Tommy and EJ have been best friends for more than 10 years.

Then I start thinking about my kids. Becky was my first homeschool graduate. We didn't do announcements, and there was no Ceremony to invite people to attend. Ben 'graduated' last year... but we decided to re-do the Senior year so he could get a proper diploma from an accredited online school.
Unfortunately, we were 'struck by lightening'. Literally. It fried the computer that had all of the home school records-to-date. The online school wanted a transcript, and I couldn't provide an accurate one. Ben and Tommy both began working on the Senior materials- and breezing through them- of an accredited curriculum provider. So they can do the work and we are going to have them take the GED test to 'prove up' on their educations.

But there is no Ceremony involved. No invitations to issue. I don't know about sending announcements- we didn't send them out for Becky. Are the boys missing out on a huge Life Moment by not having a stage to walk across in a shiny satin gown and mortarboard cap?

For me, my graduation was a "big deal". I had been estranged from (half of) my parents, who were sure I would never graduate because I left home and got married. I didn't drop out.
I was the first high school graduate in my family.
That is the FIRST EVER to graduate, as far as I am aware.
My Mom was at my graduation, but Dad and SM had to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of SM's parents. Both are Really Big Events in ones Life Moments. Same date, three and a half hours apart.

Chris and Bill had the Ceremony, graduating from Central High High. Lots of family came in- we made an event of it. Took up three rows of chairs at the school- had something like 23 people spending the night at our house. (We had a big house back then!) (That number didn't include the folks who came but stayed in motels)

So here I am today- sitting here with an invitation envelope in front of me. Wondering what to do about my boys. Throw a big party and invite: Who? Family for sure- but we lack friends and roots here. We don't have room to overnight a huge crew, nor local support for an overflow crowd. We don't have a church fellowship to ask to have a small ceremony... I feel so inadequate.

I have two brilliant boys graduating soon. Talented, NICE, thoughtful, helpful, terrific boys. I want to do MORE for them than I can see as possible.

Ideas, anyone?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Things My Kids Don't Say

"I'm Bored". You can only be bored if you lack something to do. I can give you something to do. You would probably have more fun thinking of your own entertainment than doing what I assign you to do- because once I tell you to do it- it WILL be done.

A second "Pleeeeease can I" after being told No. Whining and begging does NOT bring about your desired results.

"I'm NOT eating THAT!" You will at least TRY it. Several actual bites of trying it. Gagging yourself is setting you up for trouble. You do not offer negative opinions on food being served. And if I serve it again sometime, you will be trying it again. (if I can choke down eat bell peppers, you can eat a few bites of whatever is set in front of you.)

"Bad words" My oldest children might punctuate every utterance with undesirable language, but they were NOT raised that way.
If I were still responsible for their words, I would carry a bar of soap ... or a jar of mayonnaise to warm for them to gargle.
Yes, Bad Words do escape from me, the Parental Unit, from time to time. They are very effective at expressing extreme displeasure -when they are seldom employed. My former co-workers can tell you- probably an exact count- of the times they heard me use Bad Words. My Dad always told me foul language was a sure sign of a limited vocabulary... and if there is one thing my family doesn't lack- it is vocabulary.

"He MADE me do it". Doesn't fly.

"He hit me for NO REASON" Next Time you hit him, you BETTER have a reason! Effective whine stopper. Plus, I can't say I ever had a kid hit another kid totally unprovoked. Not that they get to go around walloping one another with impunity.

"Where are my shoes/ where is my ____?" Gosh, I can't remember where I left your shoes, put your ____ when I was done with it. Go look for them/it.

"It's not my turn/ day (on the task just given)" It is NOW. Ok, so if I am wrong on whose turn it is to do what chore, I will stand to be corrected. However, if it is a request for a simple thing to be done- you don't argue, you do it!

"He got MORE than me" Too bad, so sad.

I'm just a mean parent, as you can tell. You may have noticed my job description in my profile.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Arlene

Today is my Mother-in-Law's birthday. I am a very blessed person to have her. She has never been interfering, nor critical. I don't have to walk on eggshells around her, fearing to say the wrong thing. I count her among my best friends.

I try to call her once a week, just to catch up.

Mr C has always bragged on her cooking... like a good son! I have snagged many of her recipes over the years that have become standards in my own collection.

Today is a BIG birthday for her- 75 years.

If you weren't TOLD she was 75- you would never guess her age. She swims twice a week, takes daily walks, does her own yardwork and home maintenance. She travels to visit family and friends.

She is my example on how one should treat daughter-in-laws. (with six sons, I NEEDED a good example!)

Happy Birthday, "Mom"!
Arlene and Tom, Oct. 21, 2006 (Bill's wedding)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Earth Day: Revenge of the Trees

Two years ago, we were in Ohio during April. We were visiting Tom's Mom.
Tom and his brother Bob were asked if they could take down a huge tree that was about twenty-five feet from the end of Mom's house. The Very Tall Tree had a large rotten hole in its side, and Mom was afraid it would break or blow over some day, possibly landing on her bedroom.
The Guys agreed to take it down.
So they decided just how would be the best way to cut down this HUGE tree, without it falling on the house or deck. (The house sits built into a hillside, so it is ground level at the front, but two stories high at the back. The deck is more a balcony than a ground level thing.)
The Guys figured that they could use a heavy rope around the upper portion of the tree, wound around another tree in the direction the wanted the tree to fall, and tied to the bumper of a truck. The truck would pull the rope taut and prevent it from falling in the direction of the house and deck. Then they could chainsaw the tree down and the rope would help direct it in the way they wanted it to fall.
The first order of business was getting the rope into the upper third of this huge tree.
The Guys decided to tie a string to the shaft of an arrow, and shoot the arrow through the upper branches of the tree. Then the rope would be tied to the string and hoisted into position. For an hour and a half, arrow after arrow was shot into the tree branches. Due to the weight of the string, the arrow refused to fly true. The Intrepid Brothers continued to try.

I suggested that perhaps a baseball could be used- secure the string to the ball and THROW it through the branches. I was given a pitying look for daring to suggest this phase of their plan might not work. The guys continued with the arrow.

After almost two hours- they succeeded in getting the arrow to fly where they wanted it to fly! Wouldn't you know... the arrow was not heavy enough to fall back down to the ground, but hung forty feet in the air by its string. Back to the drawing board.
Suddenly, One of The Guys had a brilliant idea! They would secure the string to a baseball and throw it through the branches!
Within minutes, this plan was carried out. The rope soon followed and was secured to the tree.

This was no ordinary, run of the mill rope... it was as big around as a quarter. From the tree to be felled, the rope went away from the house, and around another tree acting as a fulcrum. Then it was tied to the front bumper of Bob's truck.

Bob backed his truck up enough to put tension on the rope. Since there was no line-of-sight between Tom with the chainsaw, and Bob in the truck- I was to be the signal person. If at any point the tree looked like it was leaning toward the house (any more than it already WAS), I was to signal Bob to reverse the truck and add a bit more pull in the direction we wanted the tree to fall. The kids gathered safely behind me. I was a third point in a huge triangle to The Guys. The tree was to fall between Bob in his truck, and me behind the house.

Benjamin was video taping all the action from behind me. Mom retreated to the picnic table up on the deck- refusing to watch the action.

Tom started his chainsaw and notched the tree on the side it was to fall towards. He stepped back to survey his work. He didn't hear me asking, over the roar of the chainsaw, did we need more tension on the rope? Satisfied with how things looked, he started chainsawing on the opposite side of the tree- somewhat above the fall notch. He got the new notch cut, and began sawing into the heart of the tree.
The chainsaw began binding. NOT a good sign. Tom couldn't pull it free, and realized the tree was leaning more in the wrong direction- towards the house and deck.

This is where slow motion started.

He signalled me to have Bob "Go! Go! GOOOO!" as he ran from under the tree. Bob started reversing the truck- and the rope snapped.

Like a slingshot, the tree whipped over and toppled onto the deck, just catching the corner of the house.
I mentioned this was a Very Tall Tree. Even the distance it was from the house, it came down and had branches within inches of the picnic table where Mom had been sitting. Thankfully, she RAN- and escaped harm.

The tree falling on the house/deck was an "oopsie" of gigantic proportion. We did, however, have one thing going for us. PLENTY of strong male children readily available.

The Guys discovered that the deck was only minimally damaged- built Amish strong. The railing was smithereened where the trunk crashed through. The house had only the corner of the eaves destroyed. Within an hour, the tree was totally gone from the deck and yard. I was soon dispatched to the lumber yard with a list of supplies, while The Guys removed the damaged areas of the house and deck.
Within two days, the house and deck were mostly restored.

Sometime later that evening, one of the boys asked: Are we going to have Tommy's cake?
In all the excitement- we had forgotten Tommy's sixteenth birthday.
I'm sure HE won't ever forget that day! And... we have it on TAPE!

I'm temporarily out of my mind... please leave a message

Ben and Tommy drove Becky home yesterday. They are going to be helping Stephen get some form of roof over B&S' trailer. The financial hammer hit really hard- and we weren't even able to help buy the kids gas to get to west Texas.

I suppose I will be forced into going back to work.

I am hoping the kids can get the house roofed and get back here fairly quickly. Tommy's birthday is next week. I have a couple of blogs planned for next week- maybe before. One is revisiting "Earth Day: Revenge of the Trees". The other just a review of the life and times of Tommy, for his birthday.

Both of those occasions revolve around April 22nd.

Tomorrow is Tax Day! Thankfully, ours have been finished for awhile. It is also Tom's mom's 75th birthday. Note to grandkids: Give her a call!
When I spoke to her yesterday, she didn't mention her birthday present, so I am hoping it arrives there today or tomorrow. I really wish I had a picture of her face when she sees the cat treats in the basket. The card I got her has a picture of a cat that looks like Mom's cat... and the cat on the card is saying how wonderful the recipient is. Opening the card, it informs her that when someone pays you a compliment on your birthday, you should feed them. So I put kitty treats in the basket for her kitty. (There are items just for Mom, too.)

It is FREEZING here. The second morning in a row that has been in the 20*'s when I let Dale and Matthew in. It is mid- April. In the South. I guess all the cold is caused by global warming.
My garden will have to be re-started. It may have had to be re-started anyway. I haven't been out through the mud to check, but we have had torrential rains since it was planted. Like six inches in a three day period... on already soggy ground. The pond that is between our house and the neighbors has been overflowing its banks again... and their tent blew into it. They fished it out once, but left it on the shore to dry... and then the pond rose six feet. Maybe when they pull it out again, it will be full of fish!

Matthew just woke up, so I need to go make him some breakfast. Perhaps I will think of a good blog topic for later.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

PARTY!

Today was my Pampered Chef Party. We had a real blast- only a few folks were able to come, but with my immediate family- that was a house full.
Tommy made some cheesecake 'bites' that were sooooo good! Too bad for those of you who couldn't be here, these were SO much better than whatever else you had going on!
I have until Tuesday or Wednesday to get orders from anyone who may have WANTED something from Pampered Chef but hasn't let me know. Becky is here with Tyrel. Mom and Ralph came up. We have had a great visit.
Ben and Tommy MIGHT be going home with Becky, to help repair the roof on her house after the storm. We should have a final decision from Mr C by tomorrow on them all heading that way. I would like to go, but I have Matt to look after.
Speaking of Matt, he was allowed to have all the Easter Candy he wanted to eat, courtesy of the Pampered Chef lady. He wanted a LOT. He got WILD. But when his Mommy and Daddy are here, I am NOT His Boss. He got to running around here, and due to the kitchen table being moved over a few feet for the cooking demonstration, Matt ran face first into a corner of the counter-top. This corner is normally blocked off by the kitchen table. He got a small cut under his eye- I am betting he has a black eye tomorrow.
I wish ALL of my friends could have been here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dan and Sam's Loom

I decided to give the boy's loom its own post. Daniel and Sam got their start weaving this school year. In studying the ancient Sumerians for Social studies, we learned that they wove their own cloth. I got a small lap loom, and Dan and Sam had a blast weaving tiny little mats. These were too small even to use for placemats, but the boy's did make Jade (their step-niece) a handbag for her birthday.
The lap loom is great for in the car. We ordered ours through Rainbow Resource Center. When we went to Texas during the first part of March, I suggested that maybe Grandpa Bill could help the boys build a larger loom in his workshop. Grandpa suggested maybe the boys should build their OWN loom, "like the Indians did". He sent the boys out into the woods, where they used their ever present Multi-Tools to hack down a small dead tree. Grandpa took the tree into the shop, and used his fauncy machinery to put together a more or less square frame. Then we had to head for home.
At home, the loom frame languished several weeks, until Mom and Dad remembered to buy some dowel rods to use for pegs. Dad and the older brothers helped cut the dowels to length, drill peg holes, and pound the pegs into the frames. Ta-Da!

Yes, they DO need haircuts. Dan is wearing the blue shirt, Sam is in the red shirt.

Storms

Big Storms hit several of my family members last night. Becky and Ty flew out of Snanjlo ahead of, and around a system that produced a tornado in Breckenridge, Texas. By the time she landed at DFW, tornadoes were popping up around here like microwave popcorn. I called our family in the area and had them keep Becky overnight.
This morning, I called my Aunt Jean to wish her a Happy Birthday. She said the storms there (she is also in the DFW Metroplex) had really hit hard over near my Mom's place, and over by Brown Trail in Hurst. Chris and Seneca live one block off of Brown Trail. So I called everyone. They are all safe- Mom's neighbor had a huge cottonwood fall- and missed Mom's house by inches. The power was out at Chris', and even the schools were dismissed for the day due to the storm damages.
Becky said Stephen had told her he was glad she wasn't home last night, as THEY had storm damages. It ripped off a portion of Becky and Stephen's roof! May I direct you to my friend Nola's blog http://www.homesteadblogger.com/mom2countrykids/ where she has pictures of the damages?
Around here, we had a LOT of rain. The pond is almost to the property line separating the neighbors place from ours. Tommy and I did shopping today, and if it isn't on a hill, it is underwater. Run-off is still flooding the roadways- the major roadways- around here.
While we were out, I got the roll of film developed from last month- we just finished it off. I will be adding some relevant photos to a couple of earlier blogs. If I can figure out how to get them from the disk to the computer to the Internet... this disk says it can only operate on Windows 2000 and above... my OS is MUCH older!
Stephen, Becky, and Tyrel~ March 2008

Oh, and tonight the Weather Guessers are predicting even worse storms than last night.

Why We Started to Homeschool

Tom and I got married in 1984. Just a few weeks before, Christopher had been diagnosed as "Hyperactive" by the Child Study Center in Ft. Worth. I didn't want to put him on drugs if I didn't have to- so the Center said 'some people' have had success with the Feingold Diet. Basically, that is eliminating ALL artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from your diet. We gave it a try, and had amazing success. It should certainly be easier to follow the diet these days- but back then, finding anything that didn't have at least one of the three no-noes was difficult!

Time came to enroll Chris in Kindergarten (1985?). The local public school asked me plenty of questions, one of which was "Is your child hyperactive?". I said he was great now that we had him on this diet. The school said we would have to have him on drugs before he would be accepted as a student. They said it wasn't "fair" to the teacher or the other students to have a disruptive kid in the classroom. I argued that Chris was NOT disruptive any more. He just needed to stick to his diet- which he understood- and I would supply his food.

The school still balked. What if a teacher gave him a treat and it set him off? (What if he had been diabetic and needed a special diet... or allergic to peanuts... or, or, or?) They stood firm in their refusal- it was "best for everyone" if Chris were medicated.

Tom and I talked it over. I decided to teach him at home for the year, and we would re-evaluate next year. After all, it was Kindergarten, how hard could it be? I had never even HEARD of anyone home schooling at that point. After talking to several people I knew who had kids in K-3rd grades, I listed the skills I expected Chris to learn. I bought supplies and workbooks, and filled in the gaps with my own ideas.

Bill Joe was just over four years old, and would butt in- prompting Chris at every turn. A few days of that- I just duplicated all of the materials I had for Chris. Bill was obviously ready to start school- why wait until next year? So both boys started out together in our homeschool.

Somewhere that first year, we learned that we were not the ONLY people who were taking back the control of their children's education. There was actually a Homeschool "movement" out there. We attended a seminar, collected information on various curricula and the rest became our history.

One of the first smack-myself-on-the-forehead moments came when we were going to bake a cake together. I had all our cake baking supplies laid out on the table, when nature called. (I was pregnant and had someone sitting on my bladder) Before going, I instructed the boys to carefully grease the cake pan- all along the sides and bottom.

This is where I learned one must be VERY, VERY specific when dealing with young children.

They greased the pan liberally. All over. Inside AND out. They did an extra nice job on the bottom of the pan. They even took turns.
(Mommy was so proud.)

Our Adventures in Learning began.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Whatever works

Age can be a wonderful thing. You learn so much more as you grow older. You deal with things differently, for the most part.
Your older children are where you learn parenting skills; What works, What doesn't work. You also learn that what works with one child doesn't necessarily work with another.
One of my first experiences with this was with kids threatening to "run away".
Chris was about three and a half when he told me he didn't like how I was doing something, and he was going to run away if I didn't let him do whatever it was I had told him he couldn't do. I opened the front door, put him out on the porch and told him to have at it. I shut the door. Chris stood on the porch for a few minutes, then knocked on the door wanting back in. He changed his mind about running away.

Aha! So THAT is how you handle kids threatening to run away!
I tried the same thing when Bill threatened to run away at age three. Guess what? Bill RAN away. With me in my nightgown, and without shoes. I grabbed a robe and gave chase, catching him at the playground in the apartment complex.

Tommy didn't threaten to run away. But one day, my next door neighbor called me to ask if the bigger kids were going to the store, because if they were, they were letting Tommy fall very far behind. No- all the bigger kids and I were cleaning house. Tommy had taken off on his own- headed to the little store about a quarter of a mile up the road. He was a few months past two years old. Chris and Bill raced after him and brought him back. He said he was going to "buy candy". I told him he had to have MONEY to buy candy. (Stupid mistake on my part!)

A few days later, the storekeeper called. Tommy was there alone. He had a pile of candy to purchase... and two pennies to do it with. (As I recall, we had to resort to locking the gate to keep Tommy in!) Yikes!

The only other kid I can recall running away was Sam. When he was four, we had a huge ice storm hit Oklahoma. Our power was out for over a week. On day 4, Sam had had enough. He was going to run away to the neighbor's house. He packed up his little backpack, and started out. I followed, several yards behind him. The roads were still impassable out where we lived. He would walk a few feet, and slide down into the ditch. He would struggle back up to the road, and a few feet later slide back into the ditch. I offered to help. As we trudged on up to the neighbors, I asked him again WHY he was going to go live with them. He said it was so he could watch TV, since we wouldn't (Because we COULDN'T) turn ours on. I explained to him that he couldn't watch TV there either- as no one had electricity near us. He burst into tears, and asked me if we would take him back- he didn't really want to run away any more.

Oh yeah, I cried.

Another area of child rearing that changed as I got older was allowing the kids to do more things. In part, it was because we could better afford the things the kids wanted to do as the years went by. In part, I saw that the things they asked to do weren't as 'harmful' as I had believed even a few years before. The school dances that Chris and Bill asked to go to, and were refused- but Becky got to attend? The change of mind was learning from neighbors that these weren't the dope and drink filled, unsupervised mob affairs that "dances" had been at the (city) high schools I had attended. Not because of favoritism, as I was accused of by the older kids.

There is such a conflict between having the finances to do the things I would like to do with my kids, and having the TIME to do those things. Working to have the $$ to do things uses up the time I need to do them. By the time I have both time and money... my kids are grown up. In my opinion, spending the time with the kids, even without money to "do" things, trumps working all the time.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I Love My Kids

This afternoon I needed to go to the store. But I didn't WANT to go. (Whine whine). We are out of almost everything, and I am tired of trying to figure out how to make a meal of three ingredients. So, I sent Ben and Tommy. It is wonderful to hand a list to the teens, along with the car keys... and *I* don't have to go out.

This morning, the twins have been hard at work on their new loom. This is the one they built from tree branches, with their Grandpa Bill's help. Mr C helped them finish it on Saturday, adding the pegs it needed. They have been weaving at every opportunity since then. Anyway, this morning Matthew is getting a bit too close to Sam as he weaved. After having tramped and tangled the yarn several times, Sam crabbed at Matt: "Would you PLEASE MOVE?!! You are POLLUTING my peripheral vision!"

I mentioned having to go talk with the neighbor lady. Their puppies reminded me of a *WHERE Do My Kid's Come UP With This Moment*. Before our dogs were broken, they had "friendly relations" with the neighbor's female dog. Those pup's grew up, and one of those pups produced a litter of its own. When he saw the new puppies, Dan came to me and stated, "Drover can die happy now. He has GRAND KIDS".

Indeed.

Nosy Neighbor

That would be me.

The boys and I went out to plant beans in the garden today. I heard the small neighbor boys out playing, laughing with glee. Once I spotted them, my heart almost stopped. They were 'fishing' down at the pond.

I reasoned with myself: The parent looking after them MUST be just out of my sight over the embankment. No one would leave a three year old and one less than two years old out playing alone. Especially not near a pond. I went back to planting beans.

Two rows of beans later, no sign of an adult. Surely, the parent was just out of my sight. The toddler went wading. No sound of an adult cautioning. My attention drifted from the beans. I had to be reminded- twice- that the boys needed new rows spaced out. My attention was on the kids at the pond. The two little boys held up their pants legs and waded deeper.

I kept hoping to see- or even HEAR an adult. The boys came out of the water and raced around the edge for aways. The little one lost his balance and fell in... I started towards the pond. He recovered his footing, and got out of the water. "Big" brother and small resumed wading. I had to know where the Parental Unit was. So I asked Tommy to watch Matthew while I walked over next door.

The older of the two boys ran away from the pond and left the little one trying to scramble up the embankment. I went around to the front porch of the neighbor's house and knocked on the door. There was a TINY toddler baby at the glass storm door, looking out. It took a minute before the mom showed up. I apologised for intruding, and asked her if the boys had been given permission to swim.

Of course, she had no idea! they would go down to the pond. They KNOW better!
I had been outside more than 20 minutes and no one had even CHECKED to see what the kids were doing. (The older boy told his Mom that the little one had been wading.... CYA!) I told her I had just been concerned about the boys swimming unsupervised, so was checking in with her before an accident happened. She thanked me, we chatted for a few minutes. I excused myself and came back to the garden.

Mr C will probably tell me I should mind my own business- don't stir up trouble with the neighbors.

He may just have to accept the fact I am a busybody.

Lessons Learned the Hard way

My second son has always been accident prone. Perhaps because he was so full of wonderful ideas that just didn't work out.

He obtained one of the best (or would that be worst?) black eyes I have ever seen, at the age of four. We lived in a very small house that happened to have a big back yard. It had a concrete back porch (deck? patio?) that was elevated about two feet off the ground, and had a low wooden rail around it. Bill liked to 'walk the balance beam' on this rail.

One rainy day, he decided to see if he could reach the power lines leading into our house. With an aluminum pole he had been using to help himself balance on the wooden railing.

Thankfully, he fell off the rail and (only) blacked his eye instead!

When he explained to me just how his accident had happened, I threw up from fear calmly explained to Bill why he should not touch power lines with metal poles. His black eye lasted weeks- and he was very proud of it.

Another mishap in the same backyard sent us to the Emergency Room. Bill was attempting to drink water through a long metal tube- probably the same one mentioned above. He was trying to suck up the dogs water using the pipe as a straw. I don't know if he slipped, or if Big Brother gave him a shove- but he cut a deep circle into the underside of his tongue. He was examined at the ER- and we were told that there was NOTHING they could do to repair the underside of the tongue. He was given a Popsicle and we were sent home. (His first tongue piercing!)

Once, Bill decided that since "floaties" (inflatable arm bands that help young swimmers stay afloat) worked so well to keep a person from sinking under the water, he should be able to use them to walk on top of the water. Nice theory, pretty good reasoning for a kid his age. He hadn't studied physics yet.

It is a good thing Big Brother Chris was there.

Another famous experiment was flying off the barn. The barn Bill used had fairly low eaves. He climbed atop the barn, and with some assistance from his older (but not any wiser) brother, used duct tape to secure a tarp around his wrists and ankles. Think Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

Visualize a belly flop off a roof top into a sun baked cow pasture.

OUCH.

I have had many scares with Bill, but he always makes life interesting.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Joining the Spider Stories

Two of my blogging kids have posted spider stories in the last week. What IS it with spiders in this family?

I was making my bed with fresh clean sheets yesterday, and as I raised the mattress, a spider ran out from under the mattress and up the side. I ran screaming away backed off quickly until I determined it was just a fly spider. Around here we call these "Mom Spiders", because I don't let anyone kill fly spiders.

However, protected or not, spiders are NOT allowed in my bed.

*Shudder*

I brushed the spider off the bed and it ran under the roll top desk. I didn't pursue it.

There are plenty of flies around here for it to munch on, so I am sure it didn't mind relocating... at least not mind so much that it comes back stalking me in the night.

Who's the April Fool?

Sunday is the day I have to get up early by myself. Mr C gets to sleep in, and I am up to let Matthew in. So I answer to the alarm this one day a week. (The rest of the time, Mr C wakes me to let Matt in).
The alarm went off this morning. I got up. Mr C got up because Jaffa ran off and refused to come when *I* called him. Dale didn't show up on time. Six-fifteen came and went. That is the latest Dale can leave here and make it to work on time.
Six-thirty came and went- Dale still hasn't even called. I was getting worried, because even the day he hit the pack of coyotes, he called.
Mr. C turned on the computer. It informed us it had 'automatically updated to daylight savings time'.
Whaaaaat?
Yeah... all the pre-programmed appliances that account daylight savings time changed over last night- NOT several weeks ago when the NEW daylight savings time went into effect. Appliances including our alarm clock.
It got me up an hour too early.
Dale should have Matt here any minute now!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Leader of the Pack

Mr C is always grumping over himself eating too much. He then blames me- asking why *I* let him eat so much. "Why aren't You Helping Me?" he asks after overindulging.

Yesterday, he had already had lunch. He went back to the kitchen to have something else- this time a peanut butter sandwich. He reached into the fridge to get a the peanut butter- and I put his bread back into the wrapper and put the loaf away. I told him I was helping him
He quickly dug his spoon into the peanut and ran as I was trying to grab it away from him

Our two dogs believe that Tom is the Leader of the Pack. The Alpha Male, the Top Dog. They follow him constantly. If he walked up and down the hallway all day, they would follow him every step of the way. (Dogging his heels, LOL)

So when I tried to grab Tom's spoonful of peanut butter, he was shrieking for help, running away and I was chasing him, yelling I was helping him. Jaffa decided to join the fray- his Master was in trouble! He was growling and snapping at me, circling behind to nip my legs. This led to more shrieking and mirth all the way around. Jaffa has appointed himself as Tom's protector.

We had a lot of fun over this. I tested out the boys, and Jaffa also protects Ben. All I have to do is act like I MIGHT be going to come too near one of them- and if they yell- Jaffa is there growling and snapping. Mr C doesn't think he is serious about biting me. I think he just might be.

Friday, April 4, 2008

And The Winner IS....

Mr Clean Magic Eraser.

Was there even a contest?
Not really. But there was a product comparison test at our house. MY Mr C. was looking for something to take off the sticky residue left on our glass door after having tinted film removed.

We had one partially used generic 'magic eraser' on hand, I suggested he try it. It worked wonderfully, until it was used up.

So Mr C went to town and got more. He noticed there were the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and Great Value brand Miracle Cleaning Erasers. He got a box of each for side by side comparison.
It is his valued opinion that the Mr Clean Magic Erasers did a "slightly better" job of removing the sticky residue, and "was certainly more durable" than the Great Value erasers.

We now have a residue free back glass.
Aren't you happy to know that?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Power of the Spoken Word

I noticed when I was a teen I had to watch the words that came out of my mouth. The things I said "in passing", happened. The kids at school thought it was weird and scary- some of them called me a witch- which I am not. Testing out the power of the spoken word one morning to a bunch of skeptics- I told them the bus was going to be late getting us to school, and we would miss First Period, where the teacher was going to have given a Pop Quiz.

We hadn't travelled much farther down the bus route when the bus just stopped dead.
The driver sent one of the older students up to the nearest house to call the school. The school sent out another bus, and we all eventually made it to school- where we had missed First Period and my class had been given a Pop Quiz. I thought I just "knew" things that were going to happen. I later figured out that the spoken word has power. I wasn't thinking one day when a boy who had a crush on me and tormented me constantly was showing off in front of the school. He leaped onto the back of a friend's car. He yelled something smart at me, and I yelled back "I hope you fall off and break your neck". I didn't mean it. as the words left my mouth, the driver gunned the car- and the boy fell off. I screamed "NOOOOOO!"

The boy ended up going by ambulance to the hospital- Thankfully he didn't break his neck. Just his collarbone and an arm. Word got around the school quickly, mostly because it wasn't an isolated incident for me. It sounds like fiction, I know.

I began to be VERY careful of what I spoke upon people. Once I was grown and had studied more about the Bible, I learned that God teaches people about being careful of the words they speak. The very Universe we know came about because God spoke it into existence.

In recent years, I have forgotten the lessons I learned in my youth. I haven't been careful about what I speak. Yesterday afternoon, it hit me again.
Matthew's mom was here to pick him up. I was walking her to the car, because on Wednesday all of Matt's belongings go home. (They bring a fresh batch of toys each week). Matt scampered around the yard while Wanda and I talked. He was less than co-operative when the time came to get into the car and go. Wanda walked across the yard and picked Matthew up. He was kicking her and fighting. I said, "Drop him on his head, mama- if he isn't going to be a good boy".

Down they went. Wanda tripped in a hole in the yard, unseen as she struggled with Matthew. She fell forward, Matt cushioned somewhat by her arms. Wanda looked at me- and laughed. She said, "That was amazing timing!". I was horrified.

They weren't hurt. It did remind me that I should be careful of what I speak.

You can sit there and read this and wonder if I really believe that what I speak makes a difference in the events in the world around me. Yes, I really believe it. I have seen it happen too many times. I should be speaking GOOD things.
If I am wrong, what difference does it make whether I speak out good rather than evil things? But if I am right (and I know I am) , then speaking good things needs to be a way of life.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Two-fer

I wrote up the following account of the twins birth back when they were four years old. Last year, I contacted the woman who published their story on her site - and she updated the twins 'current age' in the story... which makes them sound like they are 'slow', as it originally read that they are FOUR years old and learning to read. She left the part in about them learning to read, while updating their age. LOL.

http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/ucstories/tammy.html

So there we have it. The completed Birth stories for my tribe.

Adventures with Al

I posted a brief bit about our antique kitty, Al E. Cat, on my myspace blog this morning. And I remembered promising to tell the story of the time the Twins gave Al a bath.

I don't remember how it came about that Daniel and Sam were not closely supervised for long enough for this to happen. I am thinking it was one day they awoke from their naps a bit early. (It was eerie to see them sleep. Even in separate rooms, they slept in the same positions, rolled over at the same time, and would awaken at the same instant)

Anyway, it was probably the quiet that alerted me first that mischief MUST be going on. It was way too quiet in the house for my duplicate three year olds to NOT be Up To Something. I discovered my bathroom door was locked and I could hear them earnestly discussing something over the sound of water running in the bathtub. They ignored didn't hear my demands to unlock the door This Instant.

So I used the handy-dandy screwdriver I kept tucked into the top of the doorframe From Previous Experiences Just In Case to let myself in. There were suds in the tub. LOTS of suds. Two wet boys, and one very bedraggled, very soapy, very unhappy wet cat.

My first order of business was to rinse the kitty. The Twins had used ALL of the adult shampoo, ALL of the baby shampoo, most of the bottle of some baby wash that touted "not tested on animals", and as I soon discovered, an almost full carton of Mr. Bubble bubblebath.

(I had one of the older kids take the twins to the front bathroom, rinse and dress them.)

I rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed some more. I discovered soapy products weren't the only substances the Twins had subjected Al to: She had also been coated in charcoal powder. The poor kitty was so soapy it took twenty minutes of rinsing under the tub faucet before she quit sudsing. As always, she was amazingly tolerant of the indignities forced upon her.

Once she was rinsed, she was a VERY clean kitty. She wouldn't go NEAR the bathroom for months. She also wouldn't come near ME for months.

I discovered the twins had probably found Al sleeping in the bathroom, and trapped her in the small cupboard where the Mr. Bubble and extra bath supplies were stored. For a reason only known to God and three year olds, they dumped the Mr. Bubble on her. I am sure at some point, they knew they were going to be in Big Trouble if found in possession of a pink cat. So they got out the jar of charcoal powder* and turned the trapped pink kitty into a pink and black kitty. When this didn't exactly turn out as well as they would have liked- they put Al into the tub and began experimenting to find the best substance to use in washing a cat.

The evidence (Mr. Bubble and charcoal powder) in the cupboard was all over the carpeted bathroom. After the cat was rinsed and dried, I had the rest of the mess to clean up. By the time I was done, my sense of humor had kicked in and the twins survived the event.

(* Charcoal powder was kept in the bathroom because Mr C had seen a TV program touting the benefits of brushing ones teeth with it)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Whole Handful**

Tommy's Birth

After Tom graduated A&P school- things weren't exactly peachy. He was having trouble finding a job as an A&P mechanic. He was really depressed. I ended up having to quit with the post office- as I couldn't keep a vehicle running and my babysitter quit.

One day in early August 1989, Tom got a call from Oklahoma. One of the applications he had sent out came to the notice of a small airline that was contracted to American Eagle: Metro. It was based in Lawton, Oklahoma. The folks at Metro flew Tom up for an interview- and offered him a job. We had two weeks until he started!
My mom drove us to Lawton and helped us house hunt. We ended up in a small town south of Lawton- Geronimo. Between Mom and our church friends, we were able to get settled into the new place very quickly.

Our wedding anniversary is August 3rd. I was wondering strongly if I was pregnant- an anniversary surprise! So I went to a free clinic and had a test run. It was negative. This was a few days before the call came for the job interview. So after we moved- I was sick all the time. I was blaming fall allergies, and the stress of moving to another state. Ben had been nursing up until shortly before we moved, so I had never gone back to my monthly cycles after his birth. It was about October that we figured out I was pregnant.

Since the test at the beginning of August had been negative, we had no other way to gauge an approximate due date. We figured sometime between late May and early July. I was adamant about not going to a hospital EVER AGAIN, barring an absolute medical emergency. We investigated midwives. The nearest we could find was almost three hours away- which was almost as close as our old home in Texas. (This was back before Algore invented the Internet)

We decided that we could do this ourselves, without a midwife. Probably.

We did our own prenatal care. When we would visit our old home church- Sharon (the midwife in training from Ben's birth) would check me out, as a friend. She agreed to let us call her if we needed advice over the phone, but she wasn't happy about our lack of midwife and my refusal to see a doctor at all. I figured if I had to be transported to a hospital, they couldn't be any WORSE than Petersmith was about Ben's birth.

I got really big with this baby. Sharon said she thought our 'due date' estimation had to be way off. I thought maybe I was having twins. Tom and I put together a birthing kit. I made up a week's worth of meals and froze them, so it would be easier to feed the family after baby arrived.

On Monday, the 16th of April, I woke up really early in the morning. I just couldn't get comfortable. As I flopped around trying various position on the recliner- my water broke. Actually, it probably just tore a bit. Hooray- Baby's Birthday! Contractions didn't come. Then every once in awhile, I would get a twinge, which would send out more water.

Monday passed. I began taking goldenseal as a preventative against infection. Since Tom would have been unable to judge dilation, and *I* sure couldn't check, we didn't do any internal exams. That was also a good measure to avoid introducing bacteria. My temperature was taken periodically. A friend from Texas came up, hoping to arrive in time for the birth.

Tuesday morning, I tried Castor oil. I got some GREAT contractions going, very regular. Then they stopped. I was taking things very easy. Tuesday passed. Wednesday came. I repeated the Castor oil, with the same results. Great, regular contractions- then nothing. I decided I better get my regular routine going again. The boys' schoolwork had been on hold, the laundry was piling up.

Wednesday night, I was beginning to freak out a bit. I was still getting periodic contractions, and gushes of amniotic fluids. No fever, but no labor either. I went into the laundry room to switch a load of clothes from the washer into the dryer. I was really praying hard for guidance from the Lord- should I go to the hospital? All at once I had a vision. I saw my baby in an incubator- all sorts of monitors and wires attached. I heard a voice telling me that:

"It is not time for my son to be brought forth- his lungs are not ready. Twice I have stopped your labor. When it is time for him to be born, I will deliver him".

I knew God had spoken to me. HE would deliver my baby when the time was right. I felt an overpowering peace flow over me. I went out and told Tom. He picked up on what I hadn't at the time: The baby was a boy! All along I was just sure it was going to be a girl.

My friend from the church had to go back home to her family.

The next several days went by as usual for us. Saturday, a terrible flu bug took down all of the kids. Tom dealt with Chris and Bill, I dealt with Becky and Ben. All four had it coming from both ends. I was still taking the goldenseal- still no fever- still sporadic contractions, but fewer bouts of leaking fluid. Baby's head was engaged. (This is probably the night we took the famous picture of poor little Becky asleep, face down on the toilet) About four something Sunday morning (the 22nd of April) I was carrying Becky back to her bed after her latest bout of potty-hugging. I tripped over a toy- but managed NOT to drop her or fall. It felt like something tore loose in my lower abdomen.
I went on back to bed, but half an hour later was awakened with some very business-like contractions. I sat up- and passed some of the huge liver-patties I had seen prior to Chris' birth. Labor hit in full force. I woke Tom, and we got our birth area set up, and the items we would need on to sterilize.

Chris and Bill woke up, and kept an eye on Becky and Ben. They all got to watch cartoons- a real treat. (No Cartoon Network, we didn't even have a VCR).

Labor progressed very quickly. I had my biggest baby- 9 lb. 2 oz- at 7:47 am. It was either the fastest - or the longest- labor I ever had, depending on how you look at it.

Monday morning, we went to Lawton to register the baby's birth. We had decided to name him Stephen Thomas. A few days later, it was decided Stephen really didn't seem to fit him, and we attempted to change it. It was too late- the paperwork was already on file at the State office, and we would have needed a court order. So we called him "Tommy"- diminutive of his middle name. Once we left the registrars office on Monday, we headed over to the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, one of our favorite place. Baby and I sat in the sun while the rest of the family hiked.

April One-th

We are all feeling much better here and getting back on track with school work. I am remembering all over again how I sound, and 'look' to people. Matthew has been mimicking me. I yelled at Ben and Tommy to let the dog OUT of a confined space they had him trapped in. Matthew duplicated my posture and 'repeated' what I said- though the only word I actually understood was "OUT!"

So he has about a dozen words now that I can understand. He 'talks'- a chatterbox gibberish that throws a 'real' word in fom time to time. I work with trying to get him to repeat words for me- he grins and nods and doesn't even try. An awful lot like Bill Joe was. Maybe one day soon, Matt will break out in complete, easily understood sentences. For now, it is still mostly fingernail-on-the-blackboard shrieks and screeches.

I never did think of any good practical jokes to play on anyone. Unless maybe the house agent calls with the folks wanting to see the house. We call all hide, and jump out and yell "Surprize!" when they walk in.

We are one unit away from the boys getting to build their solar powered toys in Science. They have been anxious to do that since I ordered them, back when I quit at Eagle. In the kids section at the library, I couldn't find anything good on Solar power. The one book I did find was from the late 80's- and Solar cells have come a very long way since then. We need to go to the library this afternoon, so maybe I can find something in the adult section. The boys would like to actually build a solar cell, if possible.

It is alread time to be thinking of books for 'next year'... if I want to get new books at a discount from some of the Home-School suppliers. I got most of the things I used this year from Rainbow Resources... they seem to have everything-literally- that I saw in anyone elses catalog at close to the same cost.
Well, we are falling behind for the day because I am still sitting here- time to be on those lessons!