Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spring Round Up

It has been a while since I posted; it is planting season, after all, and I have been spending many of my evening hours in the garden. I also have been dealing with chronic muscle pain all through my torso -- don't feel like sitting in a computer chair for long with that.

Anyway, the kids have been planting as well. M planted a fairy garden the other day; she made a list of "fairy flowers," complere with a sketch of where they would go in the garden. She brought it to the farmer's market, and the master gardeners helped her find things like painted daisy and purple coneflower and cornflowers -- and what else? I forget, offhand.

B grew tomatoes from seed -- a compact beefmaster variety, if I remember correctly. He planted them a couple weeks ago:
The plants are already doing quite well. Twelve came through, and between pots and beds and the compost pile, I think we got them all planted.

The kids recently had "May Display Day" -- sort of a low-key science fair. M did a diorama of a deer. We went for a walk in the woods a few days before her presentation, and we found deer tracks in the mud all over the place. She really enjoyed finding them and looking for more. B did a science experiment demonstrating differences in fluid density. He had three jars, each with a purple grape in it, but in the first jar, the grape fell to the bottom; in the second, it floated on top, and in the third, it floated in the middle. He got the grape to float on top of the liquid by mixing in a lot of sugar, which of course increased the density of the liquid and made the grape float. He got the grape to float in the middle of the other jar by filling it halfway with sugar water, and then very, very carefully adding plain water with an eye dropper (so the sugar water and plain water wouldn't mix). His demonstration was a big hit with the other kids and visiting parents.

And here's a nice shot of the kids at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis; we had a nice excursion there while visiting my parents. The next day, we also had a nice visit to the Como Zoo.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sun you are more brave than you think!

It has been raining here quite a bit -- the older kids were out playing in the pouring rain earlier. After they came in and changed into dry clothes, M made a sign, which she stuck on the upstairs window, facing outside. It said:

Sun ceep struggling!
Please! Please! Please!

And then, inside a picture of the sun (a circle with inverted triangles for rays):

Sun you are more brave than you think!

And below that:

The sun rocks! Sun please come!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why are we living?

During family prayer the other night, B asked, "So -- why are we alive, anyway? Why did God bother to make us?"

Cue the Baltimore Catechism! Actually, we thought it out a little with the older kids: "Well, what do we say God is? God is . . . "


"Uh huh, but we also say that God is . . . "

"King of the Universe!"

"Yeah, but also God is . . . "

Well after a few tries, we finally basically gave it to them: God is love.

"So what does it mean if God is love? What has to happen so God can be love?"

A light comes on for B: "The love has to have something to go into."

High fives. So we played that out for a while longer. One of those rare moments when it all gels.

Mother's Day with Pepsi and Grape-Nuts

Yeah, here's a snippet of our Mother's Day . . . perhaps it will become an annual tradition?

The Grape-Nuts were prepared by M; the Pepsi was provided by S. We also had Mon Petit cupcakes after supper . . . mmm, those are so good! The kids made homemade cards and notes, of course, and S got to take a longish nap in the afternoon.

The nap came after a family excusion to the local skate park; B has been wanting to try out some moves on his bike at the park all week. Here he is:

B's cautious personality combined with his desire to do all sorts of fancy tricks results in some pretty pedestrian riding -- which is okay by us. He wants a skateboard pretty bad, despite the fact that his mother had a horrible accident on one as a child. In the meantime, he's set up a ramp on the sidewalk in front of our house, and practices carefully riding over that. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Baby Faith Hope

As we prepare to go to the clinic for the baby's ultrasound tomorrow (!), here is a blog I'd highly recommend:

Here's what it's about:

When I was 19 weeks pregnant, I was told that my baby had no brain. This condition is known as "anencephaly." I was told that my baby was only alive because she was attached to me, but that she couldn't survive on her own. The doctor said that I could continue the pregnancy safely, but that my baby would die shortly after being born. Or I could choose to terminate the pregnancy then, which would mean being induced at 20 weeks and letting my baby die without ever seeing or holding her (I don't even want to know what they do with babies in this case). Well, to some people this would be a difficult decision, but it wasn't for me. I knew there was nothing to gain by terminating the pregnancy and I already loved my daughter more than anyone else in the world. Even if she was unconscious like the doctors said and lived for only a few seconds or minutes --even if she was stillborn --it was worth it to me. And so we began our journey...

Today, as I type this, Faith is 10 weeks old (+ 1 day) and thriving! She is totally conscious and is as responsive as any "normal" baby. She is very sensitive to touch (especially when it's cold!) and can definitely hear. She smiles, cooes, cries, and is a feisty little girl ;) She knows what she likes and dislikes and she'll let you know --she has her own little personality that we just can't get enough of. We have been shocked by her development... from day 1 she was smiling and saying baby words ("boo" "gee" "happen"... yeah). She could lift her own head from birth and when she sat up on her own at 5 days old, needless to say, we were amazed :)

Now... because Faith was clearly conscious and doing very well, a CAT scan was ordered to make sure her diagnosis was correct. A neuro-surgeon, radiologist, and neuro-radio-interventionologist reviewed the photos and all agreed that, amazingly, Faith did in fact have anencephaly. They have no explanation as to how Faith is even alive and breathing, let alone functioning on a conscious level! There are just some things doctors can't explain ;)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Splashing in the sprinkler

J got a toy sprinkler for her birthday and has been wanting to try it out -- I have been putting her off with, "Not until the temperature hits 70!" Well, guess what? It topped 72 today! So the kids broke out the sprinkler for 20 minutes. Their friend from down the block joined them.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

J prays

The other night, J -- in her usual assertive manner -- asked to lead the mealtime blessing prayer. We somewhat reluctantly let her (she's always asking), expecting the usual off-topic rambling. To our surprise, she folded her hands nicely and recited a short little prayer, something to the effect of, "God, we thank you for this food that you gave us, and thank you for the people who made it, and please help everyone who is sick to get better. Amen." Both S and I were so stunned (we rarely get such a long, nice prayer out of the older kids) that we just sort of lavished praise on her.

Now everytime there's a prayer to be said -- on the way to school, before a meal, or when an ambulance passes by -- she's on the job. "Now guys," she'll say to her older siblings, all serious, "just listen. This one is going to be the best prayer ever!"

Princesses aren't afraid of ticks . . . or are they?

I did a LOT of yardwork this weekend -- everything from cutting and laying sod to planting a cherry tree to putting in a new bed for strawberries. There's just a lot of work when you're gardening and raising a family at the same time.

We took a break on Sunday to visit the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge at Trempealeau (Wis.). It was a gorgeous day, and the river was just teeming with life. The older kids identified several kinds of ducks using the free spotting scopes on the observation deck, and then we walked a trail through some of the marshy backwaters. The kids saw all sorts of signs of spring: little flowers in the grass, perhaps a dozen turtles sunning themselves on logs in clumps of three or four, and dozens of different bird calls -- some of them I'd never heard before.

But by far the most dramatic "close encounter" with nature occurred a few hours later when we heard M scraming bloody murder up in the bathroom. When I got there, she was screaming, "There's a spider on me! Get it off! Get it off!" And indeed, there was something black and hairy on her leg. I took a swipe at it, and it kind of came off with a bloody smear. I picked it up ion a tissue (it was still alive) and took it downstairs to consult with S. We decided it was definitely a tick. Meanwhile, M is still screaming her head off upstairs, so I headed up there to calm her down and apply some disinfectant. Nothing doing. She was hyperventilating and shaking, too. She was far too upset for me to handle (I get "sucked in" sympathetically), so I brought S in. She shooed everyone out, explained about ticks to her, gave her a bath, and prayed over her. It took her a good half hour to calm down.

I'm guessing she's not going to be the outdoorsy type, huh?

Friday, May 01, 2009

It's spring! It's spring!

J does nothing in half-measures. After a long, long, long winter (you know it was long because she was saying, "I think that's enough snow for me now" back in January), J is welcoming spring with gusto, at the top of her lungs. She will come running up to me with the latest report: "I saw an ant! I saw one! It went down into its hole, and another one came out!" She has also been awed by the branches of our bushes and trees leafing out in the past week or two. "Look, Dad! Look what's happening to those sticks! They're getting green bumps on them!" And then a few days later: "I see leaves! I see leaves coming out of those buds!" (I had explained that the "bumps" were buds.) She was equally impressed when I explained that some of the bufs would become flowers that would produce apples. It's like she's "seeing" spring for the first time.
God, grant us all "eyes to see" Your springtime, in all its many forms.

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Oh yeah, and she also has enjoyed trying out all sorts of other springtime activities as well, from danelion collecting to kite-flying. Just the other day, M and B brought May baskets home from school, collected a bunch of dandelions, and left the baskets-cum-dandelions on the neighbor's porch. Sadly, she didn't find them for several days, and then only after I pointed them out to her; she'd been wondering why she had dead dandelions on her lawn, especially since she has it treated.