Communication is a beautiful thing

I had surgery almost 6 weeks ago and have given up all sorts of duties.  One of them was the grocery shopping.  Lots of people told me that pushing the grocery cart is hard and so I willingly let my Beloved handle this.  I made up the list and sent him off every Saturday morning.  Since we were having many meals brought in, it wasn’t a long list but it still took him a while.  He claimed that so much of it was because he was unfamiliar with the store.  I understood this because it’s a fairly new store.  Or so I thought.  🙂  Yesterday, we decided to go as a family with him taking certain tasks like standing at the deli counter and getting lunch meat while I went around with another child pushing the cart and got other things.  But as we pulled off our street, my Beloved started to turn the wrong way.  I asked him where he was going and he told me “to our regular grocery store.”   Ooops, umm, not any longer.  Not since the built the newer, larger one that has a much larger selection of organic food.  He’s never been to the store or maybe he’s been once before.  Anyway, since he’s been going to the old store and not the new store, it explains why he couldn’t find certain items even when I was talking to him as he stood in the store and told him to turn around and he did and it wasn’t there on the shelf where it should be.  I couldn’t believe they were out of certain products week after week.  He never saw empty spaces on the shelves and thought they just weren’t carrying the items any longer.  All of the mysteries were explained yesterday. 🙂

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A Giveaway on a Friend’s Blog

Go here and look for the Nathan Clark George DVD Giveaway: http://www.counterculturalschool.blogspot.com/ The contest ends Saturday, May 23rd and you don’t have to be a homeschooler to enter — she links to her other blog where she is posting links to all sorts of free audiobooks and there is a beautiful one of Treasure Island. Great if you a child who has a hard time getting going in a book on his/her own.

This is homeschooling . . . on the road and with sick children

The DP was up first and let out a bark of a cough, all congesty and such.  I asked her how she felt.  “Fine.”  OK  Now remember, she’s low tone and doesn’t feel much so “fine” doesn’t mean much with me.  “Do you have a sore throat?” “No.”  “Is your nose running?” “No.”  Ummm, let’s just feel that forehead.  Almost burned my hand.  The thermometer read 101.  Then FM#2 got up.  The thermometer said 98.7.   Okay, not really sick.  Then FM#3.  Again, no temp, in fact running a bit low which is fine by me.  Then FM#1.  No temp.  Said he feels fine.  Then FM#2 started complaining about a headache and he always gets a headache when he has a temperature so I felt his forehead.  He was burning up.  Took his temp again.  98.9.  Still not really a temp but he was still burning up to the touch.  For someone whose engine runs so fast, I’m not so sure why he tends to runs cold temperature wise.  Or maybe he just didn’t have it under his tongue the right way.

Moments after 8, I called the pediatrician’s office and got two appointments at 10 and 10:30.  We got breakfast, did some math for FM#1 and everyone got dressed.  Well, almost everyone. We almost left with FM#3 still in his pjs. 🙂  Caught it just in the nick of time.  Of course, it could have been him screaming “mommy, I’m not dressed.”  Yeah, that could have clued me in.  So we were late.  Sigh.  We have 2 hours to get to a doctor’s appt. and we’re late.  Give me 15 minutes and I can get there.  2 hours and I’m late.  Of course, it didn’t help that we still have our car top carrier on our van and couldn’t park in the garage and there were all these cars in the street that could park in the garage but chose not to so I had to go way down the road and park.  And then walk 4 kids in, 3 of whom don’t know how to walk quietly and calmly anywhere but especially if we are near cars and traffic.  I wish I had 5 hands — one for each kid and one for my purse or keys or water bottle — whatever I wanted to carry in the extra hand that day.

The nurse takes their temps and the DP is 100 and FM#2 is 98.7 so still not hot by the thermometer standards but I’m at least reassured that I know how to take his temperature.  So anyway the doctor came in and I told her my recent poor health story and told her that even though my doctor didn’t test for flu, it was probably because I had been sick for so long that there the flu drug wasn’t going to do me any good, so she just treated me for the lovely sinus infection that I have also developed.

The DP had a red throat.  FM#2 had none.  But she had them both swabbed for both strep and flu.  Flu for the DP  and none for FM#2 but the doctor thinks it’s just not showing up yet.  So, she starts writing prescriptions for them and I asked “Should I just go ahead and make appointments now for the others?”  Then she tells me she’ll give me prescriptions for all of them but to wait to fill the others.  Then I ask about FM#1 going on his scout campout this weekend.  Then she tells me not to send him if he has fever but to go ahead and fill his prescription and send it with him in case he comes down with fever so that then it can be given to him.

Off we go to the pharmacy and they tell us an hour.  Yikes.  We’re really busy they say.  Yea, apparently everybody has the flu or something.  So we run home to administer Tylenol to work on the fever, do potty breaks and get me more water.  (I put that last part in in case Coach Mom reads this but it was really true.)  Then off to McDonald’s drive thru for lunch (don’t read that part CoachMom) because let’s just say the pantry is a bit bare and I’m not taking them into any stores.  Then back to the pharmacy where we are early so I put in a book on tape — The Borrowers — and we eat in the parking lot keeping our germs to ourselves.  Then FM#1 asks for a second napkin and I’m so happy he is finally using them and so, after a moment, I turn around to tell him so to see him dabbing at a huge amount of barbecue sauce on his shirt and shorts and . . .  So I put the car back in drive (or maybe it was reverse first) and we run home for him to change and then go back to the pharmacy and get our scripts and $105 later (yikes) we are off to speech therapy where I take the non-germy, non-symptom FM#3 in and leave the others in the car.  Then we sit in the car and do a read aloud and a couple of read alongs for the emerging readers and then FM#3 is finished and we come home.

So that is school on the road with sick kids.  Not a lot of school but some.  Not tons and tons like FM#3 likes to say but something is better than nothing, right?

Colonial Williamsburg — Days 3 and 6 of our trip

Walking into Colonial Williamsburg -- I'm the one without the costume ;-)

Walking into Colonial Williamsburg -- I'm the one without the costume 😉

Eating lunch and saluting before we go in

Eating lunch and saluting before we go in

We got a late start the first morning because I needed to go grocery shopping so by the time we got to Colonial Williamsburg and I went to go get our tickets, it was almost time for lunch.  We’ve learned with this crowd that lunch served early is much better than lunch served late with all it’s whining so they chowed down while I got the tickets.  The benefit was also that we didn’t have to carry our food around all day.  Sitting on the bench near the entrance to buy tickets, my Beloved apparently got lots of requests for permission to take their pictures.   We had been told they would get extra attention and it was true not only here but throughout Colonial Williamsburg.  You can rent costumes at Colonial Williamsburg but it’s about $20 a day.  I bought these off the web at http://www.buycostumes.com.  Almost all of them were less than $20 and they were able to wear them almost every day and can still play dress up.  I found the link through a search on Ebay and just did the search again and found the DP’s costume selling on Ebay for twice what it sells for at http://www.buycostumes.com so hunt around.

Also, we went during the Homeschool Days in the fall and the tickets were about $11/person for a 5 day pass versus CW’s usual pass of around $30/2 days/person.  We knew we wouldn’t go every day but we started on Wednesday and had friends coming on Sunday that we thought we might like to join.  They also have Homeschool Days every spring.  Such a deal!  When you arrive, you go into the group sales and get your tickets there even though your “group” is just your family.  The other hint I will give you for saving money is to always ask if there is a homeschool discount.  At Monticello (down the road), we didn’t fit the criteria on the website but I still asked and the ticket lady replied “If you have some sort of proof.”  I pulled out all of our membership cards to THSC (sort of like HSLDA at the state level for those of you who don’t live in Texas) and she gave me one adult admission for free.  At Montpelier (also down the road) it was the same story, so always ask and have something with you to show you are a homeschooler.  They may say no but you might save money.  Now that I think about it, I don’t remember if I did this at Mount Vernon or if I did, what the result was.  I just remember that at the other places, we didn’t fit the criteria on the website and yet they were still gracious to us.

A model of Colonial Williamsburg at the Visitor's Center

A model of Colonial Williamsburg at the Visitor's Center

The boys ready for a day of living in history

The boys ready for a day of living in history

Here the boys are on the bus you ride from the visitor’s center to the edge of Colonial Williamsburg proper.  FM#2 was supposed to be Ben Franklin who never visited Colonial Williamsburg but we hope to visit Philadelphia and Boston in 2010 or so, so I am hoping that he’ll feel vindicated then.  We did go by the printing shop one day but it took some doing because they have reduced hours (aren’t open all day) and their hours did not always fit our schedule.  I would say that is one thing I did not do well in terms of our planning.  If we do it again, I am going to look around the Colonial Williamsburg site a bit more and figure out the places that have limited hours that we are interested in visiting and be a bit more proactive in planning our specific schedule.  Despite my lack of such specific planning, our kids, who have the attention spans of gnats, were perfectly happy flitting from this to that.

The Governor's Palace -- our first stop

The Governor's Palace -- our first stop

We walked off the bus, onto the grounds and the Governor’s Palace was the first major attraction.  I really enjoyed the parts I saw but didn’t see much because all of a sudden, I had a 4 year old who needed to go potty.  Fortunately, there are public bathrooms across the road but alas, it was too late to catch back up with our group, so FM#3 and I went into the gardens behind the palace and enjoyed them while waiting for the others.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera so there are no pictures of that expedition.  My Beloved, who did have the camera, thought the entry hall with all of the weapons was quite something.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough lighting to get a great picture but here is what did come out:

Imagine guns and swords covering almost every inch of wall space

Imagine guns and swords covering almost every inch of wall space

Too bad I didn't have a lock. ;-)

Too bad I didn't have a lock. 😉

Now for the other two.

Now for the other two.

Playing in these were a lot more fun, but even that got a bit old pretty fast,  than when you were really stuck in them.  I tried explaining this to the kids but they’re kids . . .

Benedict Arnold delivering the news that the British were now in control of the town.

Benedict Arnold delivering the news that the British were now in control of the town.

FM#2 was quite offended by the whole story of Benedict Arnold.  He just couldn’t understand how could switch over to the British side.  I kept trying to explain to him how we were all British before the Revolutionary War but he just wasn’t getting it.  As we wandered around Williamsburg, soaking up the history and experiencing the story of the Revolution, we came across this actor/interpreter in the role of Benedict Arnold.  FM#2 made his displeasure known and started calling Arnold a traitor and just yelling at him in general.  Arnold’s aide de camp started toward FM#2, threatening to throw him into jail and female actor/interpreter (playing the role of a CW resident in the crowd) stepped in and came to his defense saying “He’s only a boy, leave him alone.”  It really made us feel like a part of the show and made the whole experience quite memorable for our kids.

Burton Parish Church

Burton Parish Church

The church of Colonial Williamsburg where there are still worship services held today.  The rector of this church was apparently instrumental in convincing John Rockefeller to restore the old buildings and create Colonial Williamsburg as a living history museum.

The kids at the other end of Palace Green in front of the Governor's Palace.

The kids at the other end of Palace Green in front of the Governor's Palace.

This was taken early one morning before the crowds descended upon CW.  I had run back to one of the stores to get another gun (of course, I have boys) and my Beloved took the kids to the print shop while I was shopping.  He stopped on the way to snap this wonderful picture.  FM#2 is still ready for a fight as you can see from the expression on his face.

The print shop’s attached store had some great books — some which I hadn’t really seen anywhere else.  This is all to say I think we spent more there than anywhere else. 🙂  I’ll have to compile a list of all our purchases for those of you who are dying to know — you know who you are but today is not the day because I’m already getting pressure for this installment.

The longest school field trip ever – Days One and Two, on the road again

Okay, I’m going to see if I can blog about this and be consistent.  I’m feeling the pressure now that Laurie is commenting on my blog.  I’m also concerned that  about the fact that I don’t know how to add pictures to wordpress but perhaps I can figure that out because that’s the best part of our trip.

We left Houston on a Monday and stopped just over the border in Georgia visiting a friend from TLT(TOG {Tapestry of Grace — our history/literature/geography/fine arts/music appreciation/vocabulary curriculum} Loose Threads).  Although we had never met, she had invited us to spend the night in her home.  Now, as crazy as the idea of spending the night of the house of someone you have never met before might seem, this was not the first time we had done this.  Also, my matron of honor, before she had married, had been on missionary training with this couple (before kids) and so I sort of knew her. Right?

Her kids (4 boys, ranging in age from slightly older than FM#1 (Future Man #1) to slightly younger than FM#3) and our kids got along great.  Her (and her husband’s) house was just beautiful and so well built for our crazy kids!  This is because she has this huge basement where the kids could play to their heart’s content and the parents could sit in the living room, enjoying each others company, and not hear pounding over their heads.  This means there is not the constant worry about this crash or that one and makes a delightful time even more enjoyable.  We let them stay up way past their bedtimes and in the morning they were all sorry to part company.  Even the DP (Dear Princess) fit in, apparently earning the nickname of Huggy Bear from my friend’s FM#4. 🙂  My friend was quite gracious and packed us “breakfast to go” so we could get a quick start.  Unfortunately, our start still wasn’t that quick since our A/C had gone out and we had to make a stop at their mechanic’s place to get some more freon or whatever the stuff is that they put in the system nowadays.  BTW, it’s out again so apparently we have a leak, since this was just done in September.  Here are the moms with the kids.  I’m the one with kids in matching outfits.  I tried to keep this up for most of the trip so that if someone was lost (a real possibility with our crew), I could tell the police “He was wearing an outfit just like this.”  I don’t know why I say “he” because the only time we lost a child it was the girl but I’ll let EuroMom tell that story if she wishes.

Us with our Georgia TLT friends
Us with our Georgia TLT friends

The second day, we made it all the way to Williamsburg but it was pretty late by the time we got there because of our A/C repair.  We were somewhat brutal that day with no long stops for the kids to run around.  Just a couple of short ones where we did speed drills.  We even drove through Charlotte, where we used to live, and called nobody.  Yes, I know, we are real slugs for that but we had a destination and were way behind schedule.  Driving through the back roads of VA, which is what it seemed from the path we took, during the black of night with no street lights (yes, can you say city girl?) was a bit harrowing.  I kept thinking we were going into the woods where the headless horseman was and that it really wasn’t the path to Williamsburg.  Perhaps I thought this because I was driving and everybody else in the car was asleep and I felt quite alone with no cars near me.  So, anyway, it wasn’t until the next morning that we really saw our accommodations:  a condo complex built on the site of an old plantation.  The plantation house is still there and there is a cannonball in one wall of the house from the Civil War.  Every evening, they have a drum and fife playing in front to make you feel like you are living during the Revolution.

A bit of music at the Historic Powhatan Plantation
A bit of music at the Historic Powhatan Plantation

This really did make you feel like you were surrounded by history, even when you went to bed at night.

Another view with the house in the background.
Another view with the house in the background.
Traffic stopped for the Canadian Geese who ruled the whole plantation.
Traffic stopped for the Canadian Geese who ruled the whole plantation.
They just sort of moved from pond to pond on the property, all day long.
They just sort of moved from pond to pond on the property, all day long.

We really enjoyed our accommodations but would have liked a few more dishes.  The condo slept 6 so they had 6 of everything but not anymore.  Sometimes, at dinner, we needed more than that with sides and desserts and such.  Also, in the morning, there wasn’t enough used to run the dishes but we would need them for dinner, so we had to hand wash them which delayed a fast start out the door for sightseeing.  But it had some great, fun, pools for the kids and it was warm enough for them to enjoy them.  We were off to a great start and looking forward to our whole experience.  Ike was not yet in the Gulf and we were oblivious to the decision we would have to make at the end of the week of whether or not to continue our vacation or return home to look after our property.

The next post will be our actual visit to Colonial Williamsburg.  I would say “tomorrow’s post” but that would be a bit too hopeful. 😉

Tell me this makes me the funnest mom ever and not the worst mom of the year

Breakfast:  Donuts.  Okay, they had milk — that was good right?

Lunch:  Chicken nuggets, french fries and root beer at Chick-Fil-A.  Okay, FM#3 had fruit.  Oh, and they had a shake to end the meal, so there was some dairy in there too.

Dinner:  An assortment of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches at McDonalds.  All with fries.  All with chocolate milk except for the DP (Dear Princess) who doesn’t like chocolate milk and prefers regular.  Okay, what girl doesn’t like chocolate over regular?  I know — mine.  But do you think I should take her to the doctor?

In my defense, I needed a birth certificate for FM#2 to prove that he was indeed born when I said he was and it was due yesterday.  So yesterday, I went to the vital records file folder to pull it out so I could fax it in and voila — it wasn’t there.  All weekend long I looked for it — in other folders, in piles, in places where it might be.  I didn’t spend oodles of time but I would pray and then search when I had a moment and thought of new places.  FM#3’s and the DP’s weren’t in there either.  FM#1’s was.  Mine was.  Don’t know where my Beloved’s is but that’s not my concern. 🙂  Okay, it is my concern but he has a passport, so I’m really not that concerned because most places that need a birth certificate to prove something will take a passport.  So I’m not concerned about the dude.  Also, I can’t remember if you actually hand it over when you get a passport for the first time and if you do, I know where it is.  And it’s not in this house.  Had the social security cards.  Most of them.  Even the one of mine that I laminated which immediately invalidates it.  I mention that in case you were tempted to “preserve” yours.  Don’t.  Or at least don’t do it in that way.  But, I digress.  So this morning, after searching a few more places, I decided we would go to the main office to get a new birth certificate for FM#2.  I thought about calling my MIL and begging for mercy to have her watch the kids.  Then I found a satellite office that was somewhat near us that was open on Mondays and only Mondays.  Somewhat being defined by Houston standards.  I knew this satellite office wouldn’t take as long as the main office.  Just knew it.  Was so wrong.  Anywho, none of the kids were dressed, nor had they had breakfast and supposedly this office was only open from 9 am to 10:30 am, and it was 8:45 am.  (Watched the 2 hour “Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition” last night because I have apparently lost the ability to read the guide on TV and didn’t realize it was that long and so they went to bed late and got up late but that’s okay because we homeschool so I don’t have to be a crazy woman 5 days a week to get them on the bus or take them to school.  Okay, that’s not the reason but it’s a bonus.  A true bonus!)  Where was I?  Oh, yeah, the kids got dressed and ate breakfast in record time and cooperating fully — how did that happen?  And we were out the door a minute before 9 am.  I’m still not sure how that happened because they never do anything that fast.  Then, after a couple of wrong turns because they numbered the buildings out of order, we checked in at 9:30 am.  Still don’t know what’s up with the building numbers  but I guess if it’s a city building, you can just slap any number on the building that is somewhat in the vicinity of the numbers of buildings in the area and it’s good enough.  We got back in the car at 12:08 pm.  It was a long miserable wait for all of us except I will say the children behaved exceptionally well so it could have been way more miserable for me.  And I also got new ones for the DP and FM#3 in case we need theirs soon.  And all of the birth certificates are safely ensconced in the “vital records” file folder.

So that explains breakfast and lunch.  Dinner is explained that I’m a bit worn out and we had Scouts tonight and I had to take FM#1 to meet my husband so they could go.  It is a Court of Honor which I wasn’t really interested in going to with rest of the kids and I don’t think they wanted to go either.  To just sit.  And be quiet.  Again.

So nutritionally and financially, the day was a bust.  But am I the worst mom of the year?  Tell me.  I can take it.  I think.  Maybe not.  It’s been a long day.

Because I know trouble when I see it

Last week, on FM#3’s birthday, FM#2 woke up complaining that his ear hurt when he yawned.  Hmmm.   Strange.  I took his temperature and there was none so I dismissed it.  I thought “If it gets worse, I’ll take him to the dentist,” thinking that it must have something to do with his jaw.

Since it was Tuesday, we went about our normal Tuesday business and went to therapy for the kids.  It was an hour when FM#2 was out (not back seeing a therapist) and he stretched and yawned and quickly dissolved into tears from the pain in his ear.  Okay, now, that was alarming!  A speech therapist who was in the waiting room recommended that we dampen a paper towel, put it in a cup and in the microwave and create a miniature steamer to place over his ear.  We did this and he seemed to improve but I called the pediatrician’s office to see if we could get in when we were finished at therapy.  My regular pediatrician was out but they said we could see her partner.  Now, I’m not thrilled with her partner, who we’ve never seen before, because he missed a MAJOR diagnosis for a friend of mine’s child but I thought, “he can at least diagnose an ear infection and give us antibiotics” so in we went.

He’s actually a very funny guy and I like him more than I expected to but I don’t want him to be our regular doctor because, well, he missed a major diagnosis.  He’s not up on the latest and greatest and is a bit behind the times.  But he was funny.  Which FM#2 liked.  So, for some reason, I start talking about the time that FM#2 put something in his ear when we were living in North Carolina and it was in there for at least a month!  Btw, FM#2 still had no temperature.  The doctor looked in his ear and guess what?  There was something in there.  A little piece of foil from a Hershey’s kiss.  Hmmm, let me think, when did they last have Hershey kisses to eat?  I guess that would be during advent when they got candy every night from our advent calendar.

After they got it out, the doctor reinspected his ear and then turned to me and asked “Why did you start talking about the time in NC when he put something in his ear before I even examined him?”  A very astute observation I might add.   “Ummm, because he’s trouble and has a hard time learning his lesson,” I mouthed to the doctor.  But we do love FM#2 so much because he makes our lives so much more interesting. 😉  I also mentioned that the child has never had an ear infection in his life, had not had a cold, no runny nose and it seemed like a rather sudden onslaught of  an illness.  The doctor then told FM#2 he was free to put his shoulder or elbow in his ear but every thing else had to stay out.  FM#2 thought that was funny too.  The doctor really has a way with kids which you would expect from a pediatrician but which I don’t always see.  He has a great bedside manner.  I just wish he was a better doctor.