No Harm Done

Thursday, September 29, 2005


This weekend is a big weekend in our family. Braden has made the decision to be baptized. We are very proud of him, and are continually encouraged as we watch him grow in his relationship with God.

Over the years he’s gone from listening to simple Bible stories in his toddler Bible to devotionals and hymn time with mom. Later, he independently completed some of Kay Arthur’s “Key Concepts” Bible studies for kids. (I cannot recommend these enough. It’s a great series to introduce studying the Bible to children. Interesting and engaging, but non pop-culture-ish. Strictly Bible study.)

A couple of months ago Braden decided to begin reading through the Bible. He reads a chapter or two a day and has made good progress. He started in 1 John and read through Revelation, and then went back to Genesis and is now somewhere in Leviticus. He’s learning to take responsibility for his time with God each day.

In his childlike way, he worries over his obedience. He takes great care to try to please God. We’re proud of how he’s growing in his faith, and constantly reminded by examples around us of how
M. and I need to continue praying for him in this area.

I’ll post more upon our return.

Acts 8:36-38
“And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain
water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart,
thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down
both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

Monday, September 26, 2005

One Year!

One year ago this weekend we moved to our city. I can't believe it's been a year already; we still all feel so new here. I still get lost while I'm driving.

Backstory: When we first moved here, I routinely got lost. On my first day in town, I decided to take the kids to the zoo. I managed to find my way to the zoo. But on the way home, somehow I found myself hurtling down the interstate! As I drove, I frantically scanned the landscape for mountains (instinct -I grew up in the West) to help me orient myself. But there was nothing on the horizon that helped me figure out in which direction I was headed. I exited the highway as soon as I could, and found myself in a part of town that was not, um, pleasant. It wasn't even really a part of town, just a large industrial area with houses randomly placed in between factories and railroad tracks.

After I found my way home, I placed a map of the city in my car and it stayed on the passenger seat for 6 months! I got lost so often, that it became a family joke. And, sadly, my kids began to recognize the areas. "Hey!" I'd heard from the back seat. "Isn't this where we got lost on the way home from the grocery store?"


Anyway: This is the first city in which we've managed to stay for a year in quite a long time. Our last city we stayed 11 months. The city before that - 9 months. And before that? 18 months.

We're all kind of impressed that we've lasted this long...... and we're wondering how long we'll be here. Holding our breath waiting for God to pick us up and drop us somplace else while trying not to look like we're holding our breath and waiting.

So one year ago this weekend, we drove through 5 states toward our new home. Here are pictures from one of the stops we made trying to make the move an adventure for the kids: The Jelly Belly factory in Wisconsin. A great tour, with an amazing gift shop!

Well worth the detour off the interstate to get there.

There's Antimony, Arsenic, Aluminum, Selenium.....

It ocurred to me while commenting on someone else's blog, that I'd never posted about Braden's memory project from last year.

We were starting our study of chemistry, and as an "anticipatory set" (a little pedagogical lingo, there) we watched this animated version of Tom Lehrer's song "The Elements." It's basically the periodic table of the elements set to music.

We loved it so much that we decided to learn it. Our library had the sheet music (it's basically a Gilbert and Sullivan piece) and a recording of Tom Lehrer singing it that I could play on my computer as we learned it.

Our homeschool group hosted a talent night in April, I think, and Braden sang this song as his entry. A wonderful pianist recorded the accompaniment to CD (an arrangement I liked better than Mr. Lehrer's version), and he sang along to the recording.

After all the work he put into memorizing it, it was a nice reward to be able to perform it.

It's a fun flash, and I'd encourage you to visit the link to watch it.

Speaking of Healthy Food

I've come across several animated "encouragements" promoting healthy food. I thought they were cute, and the boys enjoyed watching them, so I bookmarked them and we watch them from time to time. They're very well done, and make us laugh.

I keep telling myself that if Brogan watches the singing carrots enough times then, at some point, he will aspire to actually eat one. Sigh.......

Consider this my public service announcement post promoting healthy eating for America's youth:

Eat Your Eggs!

Eat Your Veggies!

Potatoes! Eat Your Potatoes!

Drink Your Milk! - This one is perhaps my new favorite, especially after having lived in Wisconsin.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fear Factor

Our friends, Laura and Joe, invited our family to join them in a game of Fear Factor this afternoon. Laura (who insists that she is not creative, but she isn't fooling anyone) designed 3 challenging activities in which the kids could participate, with the ultimate goal of winning a Target Gift Card. We all had a fantastic time, and I was impressed at the kids' competitive natures that motivated them to finish even the grossest challenge.

Our game started at the local elementary school. Team Harm was late, as usual. We got lost (again, as usual) on the way to the staging area. After a quick call to get directions, we arrived at the field and got our game faces on.

Round One:
The first challenge was to walk along a low retaining wall made of rubber. Along the long course were posted 9 flags at increasing intervals. The child who was able to grab the most flags in the quickest time won the round. Thankfully, this was a non-elimination round, so all the littles got to move to the second round.

Brogan and Colson each grabbed one flag before stepping off the wall.

Luke and Lainey made it a close race, but Lainey ultimately had the fastest time.

Round Two:

The second challenge began with each child throwing 2 stones at a target on the driveway. Each circle in the target had a different number.

We added up the numbers in the circles in which the stones landed to determine how many bites of brussel sprouts a child had to eat.

Braden had to eat 4 bites, poor Lainey had to eat 8!!

Colson and Brogan had the sense not to participate in round two, and both earned a Nutter Butter as a consolation prize. But of the other kids, even the pickiest eater made an attempt at finishing. None of the children sitting around that table have any excuse now for not eating their dinners. If they can choke down multiple bites of brussel sprouts for a chance to win a gift card, they can most definitely choke down my tuna casserole, thank you!

Yesterday I had Braden convinced that he'd be eating some sort of bugs, so he was relieved that he only had to eat brussel sprouts. Yes, that's a smile on his face. He ate his entire plate while smiling.

Wil made short work of his.

Here's Addie's "Before" picture.

Leila had an interesting, but very scientific strategy. She held her nose while eating the sprouts.

Round 3:
Braden, Wil, Luke, and Lainey moved on to the final challenge. Each child began the round with handcuffs around his ankles and wrists. When the timer shouted "Go!", each child had to unlock his cuffs, take them off, and then race across the backyard to grab a flag. Once the child grabbed the flag, the timer stopped. The fastest time won.

It ended up being a very close challenge between these two guys:

Wil raced to victory, though, beating Braden by a half a second!!! There was a bit of controversy in that last round, but after the judges reviewed the tape, the initial ruling was determined to be valid and Wil was declared the victor. Seriously, though, that boy was fast! Giving Houdini a run for his money kind of fast!

We ended the game with pizza and soda, and had a fantastic afternoon. Laura's decided her next challenge is to create an "Amazing Race."

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

This is just a teaser for the next post. I can't give details yet,but hopefully I'll get back to post later this evening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

For My LOST Friends

Tonight is the season premiere of "Lost" on ABC. I am not a fan of the show, but several friends are.

Click here for a flash song. Enjoy!!

Is Flattery An Inherited or Learned Behavior?

Today Colson wanted to try taking a nap in Brogan's bed instead of his crib. He snuggled under the covers happily, and gave me kisses after I turned on the Wiggles CD for sleepytime music.

When I checked on him 5 minutes later, though, he was perched on the headboard and talking to his stuffed animals. I tucked him back in and told him that if he got out of the bed again, he'd have to sleep in his crib.

Sure enough, 5 minutes later I peeked in and found him on the floor, halfway under the bed, talking to something. I picked him up and was about to explain why I was going to put him in the crib, when he says in the most adorable little-boy lisp, "I was just getting my chicken that was under there, Mom. (We have a couple of stuffed chickens that he's been sleeping with lately.) I was just getting my chicken under there."

It was at this point I paused in my monologue, trying very hard not to laugh, and actually considered the legitimacy of what he was saying. If the stuffed chicken had indeed fallen under the bed, isn't it reasonable to allow him to get it back?

As I thought, Colson obviously assumed that he was going to lose this battle and tried another approach: He put one hand on my cheek and ran his other hand through my hair. "I like your curly hair, Mama. I like your pretty, curly hair."

He got to sleep in the bed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Well, THAT'S Anticlimactic!

Okay, fair warning: I'm posting photos for my family members who have asked about the surgery.

I gave the anesthesiologist a disposable camera to take pictures. I knew he hadn't taken many, but it turned out he only took 2. Neither of them were gory, thank goodness. Still, I hoped he would have taken more.

This is one of the nurses who assisted. I think her name was Shanna.

This is me with Lena. She was the nurse who, even though I tried to butter her up and get on her good side, would not help me convince the surgeon to do even a little liposuction on the side. (I should've brought chocolate to sweeten the deal.) The thing I enjoy most about this photo is that even though my eyes are open and I'm smiling, I have no memory of this picture being taken.

2 days after surgery: the bandages.

7 days after surgery:the bandages have been removed.

3 weeks later, the incision is still very noticeable, but it's not fiery red anymore. I get a kick out of watching people I haven't seen all summer very consciously avoid looking below my chin.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tabula Rasa

So I've been suffering from a blogger's version of writer's block. Last week a friend told me that she and her mom have been reading my blog and that they both think I'm really funny. She went on and on about funny things I've written and how I need to write a book. (????)

I've never received compliments on anything that I've written before (Well, not true. Mr. Linville, my freshman English teacher, really liked my work. But that was many years ago, my friend, and even then he was a bit..... eccentric.) I left the conversation with my friend feeling very happy that someone other than me enjoys reading this blog..... until I sat down to post again.......


My fingers hovered over my keyboard; poised and ready for action. I had nothing to write about. The words, "Funny.....funny" echoed in my brain, and I couldn't think of anything to write about. Too. Much. Pressure.

I got up for a snack, convinced that when I returned I'd have a topic at hand.

Nope. It's been several days now. I suppose I should be glad that nothing catastrophic has happened for me to make light of. In fact, yes! I will be thankful that nothing horrible has happened.

And so, today I will just post pictures. :)

Jazz hands!!!

Brogan found a great hiding place for Hide-And-Seek.

We played with dry ice from Omaha Steaks.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A New Blog That's Worth a Read

Recently I somehow discovered Who's Your Baghdaddy?, a blog by a US soldier stationed in Iraq. It started as a way for his family and friends to keep up with what he was doing while he was stationed in Iraq. But it's grown, and now people from all over read it.

He writes very honestly about his life there. If you're looking for a blog with a certain political spin, you won't find it there. At least, I haven't yet. But if you want to know what his experiences are there with *real Iraqi people*, this is a great blog! Pictures, recanted conversations, history of Iraq, stories from people he meets, all written about in a very simple, straightforward, and engaging manner.

Pictures From the Wedding Weekend.

In August we drove to Iowa for a family member's wedding. I set up a separate blog for pictures from that trip. If you're interested, click on over.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Heard Around My House Recently

"I not doin' nuffin'!!"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Happy Test Result!

So, I took the "Classic Dames Test" . I like this test MUCH better than the political leader test results from a couple of weeks ago. The entire time I answered these questions (which were wittily written, I thought) I was worried I'd score as Lucille Ball.

But no!! I was:

Katharine Hepburn
You scored 16% grit, 33% wit, 38% flair, and 23% class!

Who were you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Diet of Fear

Yesterday my appetite came back.

I have not been hungry for nearly 2 weeks, and any food I've eaten has mostly been out of obligation. I haven't been hungry, but I really should eat something. Over the past 12 days I've lost 10 pounds! Woo-hoo!

This is a big deal, as one of the reasons I'd sought the doctor in the first place was because of my weight. I'd spent 8 months working out with a trainer 3-5 times per week. I did not gain a pound, nor did I lose a pound. then, when we moved to our new city, I stopped working out. Again, I did not gain a pound, nor did I lose a pound. This defies logic and reason.

An hour before my surgery, I was ready to eat my own hand, I was so hungry. 12 days later I finally felt hunger pangs before a meal and managed to eat 1/2 c. of chicken casserole and 1/2 c. of steamed vegetables before I was full. That's it.

And immediately the fear much will the scale shoot up tomorrow? How long until my appetite begins to rage out of control? How long can I stave off the two lasagnes STILL in my freezer, waiting to be eaten? My body has been content on so little for the past 2 weeks. Now that I've gorged myself, what effect will that have! Gorged myself? On less than one cup of food??? When have I ever said that??

On a lighter note (Ha! Ha!), things are finally starting to fall into place. Our days are beginning to have a routine again. We started back into a light day of school this week. Mostly the extracurriculars: AWANA (socialization class), piano, swim team, math (math is my favorite, and is easy to slip in every day), and Bible.

Swim team started last week, and Braden is working on building his stamina after a month of no swimming. He's doing pretty well, and seems to be enjoying himself. His group swims at the same time as the senior and age-group elites practice, so it's fun to watch the beginning swimmers practice alongside them.

Yesterday I was surprised at how, um, mature the high school swimmers looked. I kept watching them thinking, "These guys are in high school?!?! They look like adults? That guy there is definitely shaving. High school?"

Did we look like that in high school? I look back in my mind's eye at the kids I went to school with, and the boys are all still baby-faced. Did any of us look like adults?

It won't be long until my boys are high-schoolers. They will look like men (or at least be trying to), but they will still always be these sweet, baby-faced little boys that I know now. I have loved every stage of being a mom, from babyhood to whatever stage we would call a 10 year-old now. As much as I miss leaving a stage behind, I know I'll enjoy the next one coming. I only hope that being the parent of an adult brings as much joy as these early years do. Thankfully I have a while before I need to find out.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wednesday: In Which it Rains Lasagne, and I Pass a Test - Finally!

Before my surgery, I tried to be really on the ball and stock the pantry and freezer with food that would be easy for M. to fix. I bought a lot of frozen foods from the store (shudder), stocked the pantry with Hamburger Helper-type starter meals, and baked 2 large pans of lasagne to store in the freezer.

Lasagne is a family favorite, but I tend not to make it very often. It also freezes well.

Anyway, so I have 2 large pans of lasagne in the freezer.

Last week, my mom sends us a surprise package from Omaha Steaks! Yum!!! Inside is a note explaining how she didn't think I'd be up to eating steaks after my surgery but she thought their lasagne would be easy to eat. Not quite as Yum!!! as steaks, but we like lasagne, and Omaha Steaks has some good food, so we looked forward to trying it.

Fast-forward to yesterday. A lovely family from church dropped by to bring us a meal. Completely out of the blue, and solely because they are such wonderful, thoughtful people. They left a pan of lasagne for us. By this point I'm amused, but we really like lasagne here, so it's all good.

Last night, another family from church brought us dinner. This woman has a reputation as a wonderful cook, and we were looking forward to her coming. ( M. was out of town, and although I was feeling good, I just wasn't up to feeding my boys much beyond PB & J. ) As she walked into our home, I warily eyed the square casserole pan she was carrying. Do my delight, she revealed a delicious-looking broccoli and rice casserole. Yum!!!

This morning, Brogan's Sunday School teacher came over with dinner for this evening. Brogan kind of enjoyed seeing his teacher out of church, in a butterflies-in-the-tummy kind of way. (Kind of like seeing your grade school teacher in the grocery store.) She brought us for dinner her signature dish........ lasagne!!!!!!!

We really do like lasagne.....thankfully. And I am so thankful for these kind families who brought us meals during this time, and thoughtfully brought things that they hoped our family would enjoy as much as theirs do. We're looking forward to sampling all the different variations.

As for the test...... I visited the surgeon today. The pathology report came back today and everything is clear!! And no parathyroids were damaged in the removal of the thyroid. So, no follow-up or testing is required, other than a six-week checkup to see how the scar is healing.

Additionally, the boys started AWANA again tonight. They really love this program. We've been attending since Braden was 3. Brogan started his second year of Cubbies tonight, and we'd been praying for him in this. He's been feeling a little lonely lately, so we've been praying that Jesus would bring him a special friend. After AWANA, Brogan and another boy were playing on the floor together - dinosaurs attacking cars in a Fisher-Price parking garage. Jungle animals were also involved, but I'm not sure how. I was so encouraged to see him playing *with* another boy and not merely *in the vicinity* of another boy, that when one of the leaders asked if I could help her co-ordinate this year's Bible Quizzing I agreed without hesitation.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Wow! What an Adventure!

I'm back, and feeling really good, though slightly sleepy. Today is Day 4 after surgery, and here's what my day looked like:

11:30 am - Wake up.
11:35 am - Move to giant, comfy easy chair. Put in movie. Doze.
3:00 pm - Move back to bed. Sleep.
6:00 pm - Wake up. Bill O'Reilly is on my radio. Ugh. Must. Leave. Room. Now.
8:30 pm - Feel the urge to sleep, but I'm forcing myself to stay awake.

Whew! I'm beat!

Thursday went VERY well. Thank you so much to those of you who were praying. I was not nervous at all. God covered us with a great sense of calm and peace.

Most of the pre-op nurses we dealt with were all-business, but Deidre breezed into our room with the news that she'd had the same exact surgery 2 years ago, and had my same exact doctors. She was such fun, and answered all my questions (the ones you're too embarrassed to ask the doctors) and was very encouraging! Thank you so much, God, for sending her.

The nurse anesthetist was great fun, and was completely happy to take pictures for me. He only took a few (I'm assuming he had other things to be doing during the surgery), and I'll post them when I get the film back. Hopefully they're not all shots of his thumb! He did promise to make sure I was *really* unconscious, and not to set me afire during the surgery. Good guy!

Our pastor came to visit and pray before hand. It was very nice having someone "from the outside" to talk to. Until the conversation between the guys turned to topics like eschatology and carbon dating. After a while, one of them noticed I was absent from the conversation and apologized, but I'd said, "No, no. I was actually so bored for awhile there that I forgot where I was. That's a good thng!"

After the surgery, the back of my neck hurt from being held in an awkward position during surgery. The recovery nurse told me I hadn't done or said anything embarrassing upon awakening.

"Would you tell me if I had?" I asked.

"Nope," he replied. The mystery will die with him.

All of the nurses were wonderful. Just the sort of people you'd want to help you when you're recovering. They were kind and patient, chatty and friendly, and willing to laugh with me, not at me. Thank you God, for the wonderful people there!

I came home Friday night, and have been moving between the bed and the easy chair since then. I don't hurt too much, but am surprisingly tired! The kids have been very gentle and helpful.
M. has really tried hard to keep everything moving: cleaning, laundry, cooking, taking care of and entertaining 3 kids and an invalid. He's done a great job!

Here's a picture of what my neck looks like. This isn't my neck - my film isn't developed yet. But mine looks just like this - only with big, black sutures. We tried to decide whether "Franken-neck" or "Zipperneck" was the better nickname today.

Zipperneck won.

Thank you again for your prayers, and the encouraging comments and e-mails that have flooded my in-box. The words "thank you" seem so inadequate right now.........

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hillary's Surgery

Hillary's surgery went good. When I left to get the boys she was still a little woozy from the drugs and morphine. She was in good spirits but having trouble staying awake. We thank everyone for their prayers. God truly is gracious.

Hillary brought a camera, and asked the Doc to take pics in the surgery room. Perhaps we can get some more of that witty commentary we are used to.

Unfortunately I don't have Hillary's gift of prose. My role is to provide the atmosphere.

Thanks for all your support. M.