Wednesday, April 8, 2015

He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

From where we last left off, up until Easter....

Let's begin with our very good news:

Yes, Canaan, Good job!  You scored a touchdown!  
Baby Baker is due October 18th and we are overjoyed and praying for her and Candice's health every day.  No, we don't know that it's a girl, but we have Team Girl and Team Boy going on around here. Guess which one I am?  Just a few more weeks and we will have a Gender Reveal!  What fun!  I am very ready to be a Gam-Gam.  We are thanking God for this happiness; we really needed some happiness!

The announcement photo was a lot of fun to make.  Candice liked the idea of a baking theme with Canaan's hands having flour on them to make the heart shape on her belly.  We got some good shots, and then I was goofing around with Canaan and went to throw a puff of flour at the side of his face to look like he had been baking, and to my horror, the flour went all over not just Canaan, but Candice too!  And they both had flour all over them and were laughing and that's when we got this shot.  
Here are a few others:

One of the first shots, before the flour bomb.

He really likes her.

The big kids made supper.  I need to do this more often because they love doing it.  The menu was lasagna with dirt cake for dessert.  It was delicious! 
There are so many things that we used to do, that we don't do anymore, because of how things have changed in our household dynamics, but I do try to make fun happen whenever I can. And often it just happens in spite of me!  These guys spread joy in the midst of the struggles and I am so thankful for them. 

This picture makes me laugh because of the difference in how Eden and Isaac are holding their knives.  Well, I can attest that no one was injured in the making of this dinner, but Isaac looks like he is intent on murdering that green pepper.

And this photo makes me laugh because Silas is busted in tasting the goods.

No, Kiki didn't "help" but she was welcome to observe.

It is starting to look yummy!

Ready to go into the oven!

 My very wise daughter.
Hannah had seven wisdom teeth.  Maybe I told you this before.  Her dental x-ray is SCARY!  
Well, Hannah is not a fan of surgery of any kind so this has been put off and put off and put off... like so many things...  until it really needed to be done.  
Four of her wisdom teeth are on the top, and three on the bottom.  But one of the ones on the bottom is inside of a bone cyst, and potentially a much bigger problem.   So, since insurance does not cover much of this, and the part that it covers it does not cover up front, she chose to just have the three on the bottom done at this time.  This photo is a before photo in the oral surgeon's waiting room.  Does she look nervous?

And this is a few hours later at home.  Poor baby. But she still looks beautiful even after getting wisdom teeth out.  She handled it all very well and is already back to eating Taco Bell again.   

Ruby is a sweet comforter.

April Fool's Day!!    
We used to do April Fool's Day up big years ago. One of my favorites was the year that I drove down to Art's work and filled his Honda with popcorn.  People he worked with back then still remember that.  I love pranking and harmless jokes; I come by it honest from my Daddy.  I still search every package my Dad sends me to see what odd item he has put in the box.  It's the little things that make us smile and get through the day, isn't it?

Well the past couple of years I have not had the energy nor really the time or the joy to set up any April Fool's Day jokes for my kids so this year I was determined to do a few.  Well, the day still snuck up on me despite my good intentions.  (Spell-check, don't you underline "snuck" in red.  It's a real word!  And if it isn't, it should be.)
So as I was rushing out the door to take Micaiah to dialysis, I was sad I hadn't set up any pranks, and would be gone most of the day, so wouldn't be able to.  I ran and set up a few simple ones, like clear packing tape over the doorways, a big, scary doll in the microwave, and fake poop on the bathroom floor... you know... stuff like that. 

Well, when I got back, later that day, I walked in the door and saw what I thought was Maggie, vaccuuming the floor, which is something she does.  A quick double take and I burst out laughing!  It was SILAS!  Dressed like MAGGIE!  

Right down to putting black socks on his ears to look like long hair!  It was hilarious!  So I figured that probably Maggie was dressed like Si, and I looked up and saw Eden coming down the stairs.  She stopped on the landing, and had a toy in her hand, like she always does.  And I looked at her, and looked her up and down and all over, and kept thinking, "There's something I'm supposed to notice here; what is it? What is it?"  But no, she was just standing there like she always does, playing with a toy in her hand, like she always does, and I concluded that she had decided not to be in on the joke, which is what she sometimes does.  So I went into the kitchen, still laughing about Maggie/Silas and I saw Isaac at the sink filling up the dog's water container, which is one of his chores.  I walked over and out of the corner of my eye I realized, THAT'S NOT ISSAC!  IT'S EDEN!!  She did it so perfectly and I was cracking up.  And it was only then that it occurred to me --- Then WHO was that on the landing???

It was Isaac dressed like Eden of course. And I had stared at him for about half a minute and never even noticed.  Oh sweet goodness!  I thought I'd die laughing!  My boys are such good sports!!  I couldn't believe it!

And I think Isaac almost enjoyed his Eden role too much!  It was so funny, and what joy it was to have my kids make April Fool's Day fun for ME!  They did an awesome job, and I was completely fooled, and I still laugh when I think about it.  They dressed up again when Daddy came home, and he cracked up as well.  Laughter is good medicine, for sure! 

<3  these guys!!

And Spring is here in North Carolina!!  Glorious Spring! 
(Insert Flonase commercial here)  It seems each winter that we end up getting one or two good snows that we thought we would never get, and then it is out of its system and Spring arrives with grandeur! This year Maggie planted some daffodil bulbs and they are just so happy!  Beautiful.  I love it.

And look at my gorgeous forsythia.  This forsythia grew from little cuttings we got from Granny's house when she lived in Georgia.  Look how well it is doing!  When forsythia blooms I always remember growing up in Canada and how the first signs of spring were the forsythia in bloom, and the tulips popping up across the street in Mrs. Heath's yard.  Except in Canada, you can't really breathe a sigh of relief that winter is over, because you just never know for sure.  Things are different here!

Sunshine  and  Sunshine.  

Our friends cut down some trees in their yard and graciously shared the wood with us.  Silas loves helping Dad and learning how to use every tool he can.  Here he is cutting up wood with a chain saw.  He did great!  But I think he was a little sore afterwards.

Getting ready for next winter!!

It is never easy to get a photo of all the kids together.  Everyone with a big family deals with this; even smaller families do!  Getting everyone to look at the camera, let alone to smile too, and worrying about lighting and shadows and focus....  It's time I just gave in and had my friend Shelli do it the right way!  But here is this year's Easter shot.

And here are my beautiful big kids.

I love that they all have each other and are friends.

Candice is always such a good sport about all the kids.  They always want to sit on her and smear themselves all over her.  She always welcomes them.  They just love her. 

Kiki knows that there's a baby in there.  Not sure how much she understands until the baby is out, but when we ask her where the baby is, she knows.

And here's a shot with some of our new chicks.  How we got gifted with six chicks is a long story, but suffice to say, they are very cute, and great for an Easter photo.  Silas's chick pooped on him after this shot, so it was awhile until I could get a shot of him smiling again.

It is VERY hard to get photos of Levi looking at the camera.  He does not enjoy having his picture taken.  Well, this is the real Levi here.  We put a chick in his hand and he was all full of genuine smiles!  He was so happy!  Look at that smile!!  That's the Levi that I know.

And every now and then we get a picture of the old lady with the old man.  Just to prove we were really there.  

Our new Easter tradition is to go to the park and have a picnic.  It was a perfect day for it and they all had a great time.  

Canaan eating Peeps.

Look at Candice's face.  Hilarious.  Candice does not like Peeps.  

This picture shows how well Laz is doing.  See how well he is standing up at the picnic table?  He may never walk independently (or who knows?  Maybe he will!) but he has just progressed so much in his stability and his abilities to get around.  Our PT is awesome!!

We are immensely thankful that Art was able to get another position at the company he works for and therefore, is still employed!!  With our SN kids, it is even more imperative than ever that he maintains not only income, but health insurance!  It could really have been disastrous, but God graciously answered your and our prayers, and we are thankful.  We also want to continue praying as Art adjusts to the new position and learns some new things and remembers some old things.  This old dog needs to learn some new tricks.

Micaiah is out of the hospital again.  Since he came home in Dec of 2013, he has had nine hospitalizations for a total of 142 days inpatient.  This is approximately one third of his time here in America.  If you add in the days that he went for various medical appointments and dialysis, we have well over 50% of his time being spent in some medical capacity.  If he were being cured by all of this, it would seem less unfortunate, but none of this is a cure.  It is all holding his head above water for as long as possible, and that is emotionally draining for everyone as well.  He now is back on hemodialysis because of a build up of fluid of unknown origin around his lungs.  He cannot have this done locally because he is still considered pediatric and the only pediatric dialysis unit is in the next town.  He has dialysis four times a week, so I drive out there eight times a week.  Each day he has dialysis takes me a minimum of four hours.  They made a big concession in allowing me to go home in between, rather than having to stay there the whole time, and I am thankful for that.  It would be near impossible to schedule it all otherwise. I have done that before and it took about seven hours total each time. Not something you can really do when you have seven other kids at home, all going to different schools with different schedules and different special needs. This week is tricky as it is spring break and all the kids are home.  And I cannot bring all the kids with me to take him because we are still awaiting a lift that will put Micaiah into the van.  The van is the only vehicle that can hold all of us.  

So, there is much to figure out.  On most days he seems to be feeling alright, and is content.  But he does not like going for dialysis.  He often has trouble with is blood pressure and ends up vomiting, and that isn't fun no matter who you are.   With his dialysis schedule, he is only able to go to school two days a week now, and he is not happy about that either.  On dialysis days, he spends most of his day preparing to go, getting there, having dialysis, coming home, eating supper and then going to bed. We are hoping that he may be able to go back to the other dialysis that we do at home so that he can go to school more days and not be spending so much time in the hospital.

  On Easter Sunday the Make-A-Wish people came out to interview him and our family.  We are now awaiting scheduling and final approval.  Since he does not have a context for forming any wish of his own, we decided that Disney might be a good choice.  It is something that I think he really will enjoy, even if he doesn't know it yet.  So, we will see what comes of all of that.

And we have begun our spring birthday marathon.  Art's birthday was yesterday, and Eden's is next Monday.  Then comes Silas, Levi and Canaan.  Lots of celebrating going on!  


Ending this post with a couple more Ruby shots.  This kitty has even stolen Daddy's heart, which is saying a lot for a cat.  But who can resist a cat that climbs up on your legs like this?  

Ruby and sweet, old Biscuit.


Friday, March 20, 2015

If You Give a Moose a Muffin....


For the twelve and a half people out there who are not familiar with that phrase, it is from a series of children's books that follow different scenarios of how something small can build upon itself until it becomes something big... basically.  

Kind of the M.O. for Art and I.  We start with one thing, like our monthly vacuuming of  the rug, and the next thing you know we're picking up loose change, sandwiches, and dvds from under the couch cushions and behind bookshelves.  Which then leads to pulling out all the furniture, which leads to discovering that the legs on the couch are scratching the floor, which leads to a trip to Home Depot to put pads on all the legs of everything in the house except the cats, which leads to someone on the roof, and someone else in the crawl space opening up a couple of cartons of ice cream.  You know how it goes.  One thing leads to another.  

And for those who actually read all of that, first of all, doesn't everything lead to ice cream?  I mean really.  There's always an excuse to eat ice cream, which explains a lot about my wardrobe right now.

Secondly, for my mother, we do vacuum more than once a month; more than once a week even, actually.  But my sources of entertainment are few, so I enjoyed writing this out and thinking about you reading it.  And no, I have never found an entire sandwich under the couch either.  Goodness.  It was really less than half of one, honest.  

So in that spirit, here is our Moose and Muffin sequence that lasted about six months, which is about four and a half months longer than we thought it would, or should,
but those who are constantly interrupted by emergency room visits, emergency calls from the school, and medical traumas, cannot be too rushed about finishing something as inconsequential as a kitchen floor.  So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy....  (now where did I put that other half of my sandwich?)

This was basically the beginning of it all.  When we moved into our house almost nine years ago, our kitchen came with a Corian countertop, which gradually developed a crack.  Corian is supposed to be pretty tough and resilient, so it may be because we had to cut a slice of it off in order to fit in a stove that actually is functional for a family of 12, or it may be because my kids stand on the counter to put away the dishes, or it may be because the fryer was parked on this part of the countertop for several years. And sue me if you think a fryer isn't a standard countertop appliance, but how else are you going to cook your Twinkies?  So the crack grew and grew and finally, about six months ago, cracked all the way through, ruining the countertop.

Now, the Corian countertop is a molded countertop which included the sink, molded right into it.  Not sure whose amazing idea that was, but they certainly did not attend the School of Practicality, I am pretty sure.  The people who lived in this four bedroom house before we did were a "family" of two people.  They probably didn't even need a sink at all, but one molded sink in the kitchen was plenty for them.  For me?  Not so much.  Since we moved in, I have secretly coveted a double sink.  Since the sink was molded right into the countertop, it was not a simple thing even for my brilliantly capable handyman husband to replace in a weekend.  So, when the countertop cracked through, visions of a new sink danced in my head.

Not the best picture, but this is the first one I could find.  You can see the single, molded sink.  

So, our first step was to remove the countertop, and order a new one.  For those of you keeping score, we have eleven people living in this house, many of whom have substantial medical and other special needs.  Even though I watch HGTV as I fall into a comatose state in my bed each night, granite, marble, quartz, and even Corian were not an option for us.  We resorted to our familiar friend, good ol' Formica!!  And they have done a lot with formica since the last time we replaced a countertop so you haters can just keep it to yourselves.  Formica countertops can now be ordered to look almost like real granite, if you squint with one eye, and have a milky residue over the other one.  

So we ordered the granite looking formica countertop.  

Somewhere along in the demolition process, we had also discovered that our dishwasher had at some point leaked underneath the flooring that was already there, and so up it came.  Under it was a light colored linoleum.  We could live with that while we waited for the countertop.  But then we saw that the floor was still damaged, and upon investigation along one corner of the linoleum, Art found that the entire floor should be ripped up.  Of course.  Enter the moose.  

So the repairs begin.

The leak is fixed.  The new floor is ordered.   We ordered something from Lumber Liquidators that they described as "water invincible" or something like that.  The new sink is ordered as well!!!  (insert heavenly chorus.)  Again, how many kids and expenses do we have?  This was  not something in our budget by any means.  But thanks to a very generous relative, we are not still living on plywood.  Very thankful.  

Let's proceed, shall we?

Well, if you take up a countertop, the next thing you find is that it runs into the backsplash, and the new countertop will need to be configured with a new backsplash.  So we shall simply pull the tile off of the old one?  Not so simple.  The tile was stuck to the drywall and would not come off without taking up the drywall as well. 

All our lives, we have included our kids in our home repairs and upgrades.  Art does virtually all home and car repairs himself, and whatever he doesn't know how to do, he learns.  We always include the kids because frankly, they want to be included most of the time.  Our kids helped to demo the backsplash and loved it.

So, here we are down to the studs, and then Art had to put up all new drywall.  And don't worry about all the electrical outlets and switches.  He's an electrical engineer remember?  Everything got new switches and wiring. 

Ruby inspecting the work.

 Stopping by to observe: Canaan, who Art affectionately calls The Blister (he shows up when the work is done.)

 Putting in the new countertop.

Why the floor needed to be replaced.

Maggie and Silas helping Daddy.

Maggie and Silas tearing up flooring in the pantry with crowbars.

 Did we mention that the kitchen attaches to a hallway with a bathroom and a laundry closet?  When you give a moose a muffin...

So up comes the flooring in the bathroom and in the hallway and in the laundry closet.

And since we've got all of that ripped up, why don't we just widen all the doorways so that wheelchairs can go through them more easily?  So the bathroom doorway was widened by about six or eight inches, and we happened to have the wider door from the kitchen to replace it so that we didn't need to buy one.  And the kitchen door?  Don't need one.  Blew out the doorways of both entrances to add width.  Art also lined the corners with trim so that the wheelchair bumblers could bumble without ruining the walls.  

Art and Maggie putting down the new flooring.

 Silas helping too. 

Maggie and Silas tearing up nails from the floor in the bathroom.

I feel like I had more pictures but can't find them now.  Let's just fast forward to the finished -- or semi-finished - product.  (There are still a couple of finishing touches to be done.)  

 Here, you see, the lovely floor.  I love it.  

And what is this?  A double sink?!?!  We're so fancy now.  Next thing you know, the children will all be wearing shoes!

Look more closely.  My, that's a lovely backsplash.  Subway tile.  Who could have done such a lovely, lovely job on that backsplash?  Looks almost professional!  Why thank you, that was me.  Lovely work, if I say so myself.

My helper.

Enlarged doorway.

And another enlarged doorway.

 Well I am sure there is more than one thing I forgot to mention.  But when the bathroom was torn up, and the kitchen, and the fridge pulled out, then it was noticed that we needed to get back behind the wall of the fridge, which is accessed by demolishing a wall behind a coat closet under our stairway.  Now we are enlarging that area into a storage area, but while it was open, Art created this inset shelf in the bathroom.  The bath is a half bath, and pretty small, yet still needs to accommodate wheelchairs not only to enter, but to close the door.  Any place where we can inset or remove things in the way, is a benefit.  He did a great job.

 Well who mitered and cut all of that beautiful quarter round you ask?  Well, thank you.  Me again.  Nice job!

Laundry closet.

And I'd like to say that's the end of the repairs and remodeling but anyone who owns a house knows, there is never an end.  The Honey-Do list is as long as ever, and we have many things left to work on after we finish finding Art a job, and Hannah a husband, and get everyone medically stable for at least more than one day.  One thing at a time...