Sunday, December 21, 2014

What's Up?

We have been super, super busy around here. Lots of fun and lots of not-so-fun things happening. Here is a quick update.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we travelled for about 35 hours total in the car to visit family. The boys travel well, amazingly! Here are a few highlights. I still have one more camera of pics to download so I am missing some people and activities.

We saw and played in real snow! This is the first time my boys have ever seen snow. We had to buy some snow gear when we got to Iowa because you can't get mittens and heavy coats in Houston. There was not a ton of snow, but there was enough and the right quality to build a snowman.

Jon decided to make a snow angel while at my parent's house so he went out onto the snowy deck, plopped face down and began to move his arms and legs up and down. He quickly came up, face full of snow, gasping for breath. We all watched and laughed!!! He had only seen it on TV and din't have a clue how to really make a snow angel. He still had fun!!

At my in-laws ranch we got to bottle feed a 2-week old calf. This little guy was not getting enough milk from his Mom and was close to death when they brought him to the barn, made him a warm spot and started bottle feeding him. We petted him and loved on him and he was the sweetest little guy. When Levi found out he was destined to be meat on someone's table he cried and cried. Levi, not the calf. Sweet boy with such a kind heart.

We named the calf Sir Loin, even though they do not name the cattle because they do not want to get attached to them. Sorry, we still got attached and will continue to think of him as a sweet calf living on the ranch, forever the size of a large dog.

We visited some buffalo that were very friendly. This is the bull of the herd and all he wanted was to lick you and to have his head scratched.

He was huge, but not as big as some buffalo I have seen. Maybe they were Beefalo, a cross between cows and buffalo???? Still an amazing experience.

We saw amazing sunsets on the ranch. Looking out across the couple hundred or so acres of family land. It makes me want to go lead a simpler life.

At my parents house we actually stayed in a resort hotel with an indoor water park. This is a picture from the last time we visited there. This time we were the ONLY family in the resort the beginning of the week. They were so awesome and turned on the pumps each day just for us and turned them off when we were done. It gave my folks a break each afternoon and the boys a chance to burn off energy.  There are two indoor water play areas and it was all ours. We felt so spoiled!!!!

One last photo. This little guy is struggling as he does every year at this time. I love him so much and I hate to see him struggle. Buster has been sticking very close to him, doing his best therapy dog work and it is helping. Such a sweet boy. He deserves the best in life!!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Stinky Scalp Syndrome…It's a thing

  Ever since we brought Jon home he has had a distinctive 'smell' about him. It ranges from mildly annoying to downright nasty stank. I would smell him (usually the top of his head) and immediately haul him off for a bath or shower. I would scrub him and scrub him but he would still smell when he dried off. It would be better, but the smell was still there. I chalked it up to some sort of weird body chemistry, switched him to men's deodorant shampoo/body wash and kept on scrubbing him. I have even been known to spray his hair with Febreeze (desperate times folks) when we were on our way to church/etc and he was especially odiferous.
  Then one day I began googling 'stinky kid', 'stinky head' and 'my kid smells bad'. This is where I found out that there is actually something called Stinky Scalp Syndrome. It is believed to be an overgrowth of the wrong kinds of bacteria/fungus on the scalp. Normal washing does not remove the bacteria/fungus, it just rinses away some of the stinky residue. The noxious organisms continue to cling to the hair strands and scalp and quickly begin churning out their toxic funk again. So now I knew why this poor child was so smelly and why my efforts to keep him clean were not working.
  The next step was how to treat the scalp? I saw many posts of people being given antibiotic and anti-fungal lotions, potions, rinses, etc. Every single person reported a temporary improvement followed by reoccurrence of the smells, even with continued treatment in some cases. Some of these treatments had some very unpleasant side affects, too, like burning skin, intense itching, dry flaking scalp, etc. That didn't sound like what I wanted to put on my young son's head. I kept searching but didn't really find what I was looking for, so I turned to my knowledge of science and the steps we take to keep bacteria and fungi from contaminating our work. It seemed to me that some of the solutions we used were antibacterial/antifungal and also safe on the skin. Aha! I was onto something.
  I ended up using liquid Lysol in a mild solution. I dampen his head, rub it in and let it sit until it dries. Then he showers. At first I used it three days in a row with amazing results. He smelled clean. Then I went to once a week and he stayed clean smelling. I still thought that was a bit much, so now he gets a treatment about once a month. I am happy to report he has had no side effects and he smells great!
  Note, I am not endorsing using Lysol or any other product on your child or on yourself. This is definitely not a recommended use for their product. I am simply reporting what worked for us after many other things failed. Use at your own risk!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeping them Active

Here is the thing. My boys love their computers and gaming devices. They would quite happily sit in front of a screen all day long working out only their fingers. A little screen time is great, but too much is a bad, bad thing. We strive to find lots of active things for them to do. We have a trampoline, acres of land, 4 wheelers, a horse, and a pond. Still, when it is summer in south Texas it is hard to find outdoor activities that won't kill you with the heat.What is a good thing to do? Swimming! We are putting in a pool. It is 16 feet wide by 41 feet long and goes from 3 ft to 9 ft deep. We didn't out in a spa because the thought of crawling into a hot tub in 100 degree heat was a negative. Here are some progress photos. It just completed filling with water yesterday so I will update photos for you.

 Oh that red Texas clay. This was a hard dig for the guys.

Nice and deep.

Did you know you can order a case of silly string off of Amazon? Yep, you can!

Friday, September 05, 2014

As summer wound down….

  I used to think I was a pretty good Mom. My kids hit all the milestones ahead of schedule. They grew and thrived and had good manners in public. I made the critical mistake of patting myself on the back. Rookie error. Or maybe girls are just easier for a Mom. Whatever the reason, I have come to realize that  I am not so much a good Mom, as a Mom who has learned serious survival skills. Let me tell you a few stories from this summer with …..The Boyz. (Play scary music)

  Someone, who appears to be named "Not Me" cut the electrical cord to my exercise bike's display panel. With toe nail clippers.

  I found a toad in my kitchen, just hopping along and looking like he was completely confused. (Can a toad look confused?)

  Someone cut a hole in a brand new shirt the very first time it was worn. Why? Well heck, why not? Here are scissors, whatever can I do with them? Aha! I shall try them on my shirt! Genius, I tell you!!!

  There are chips under the couch, licorice behind the TV, juice bags on the stairs, a banana in a dresser drawer, chicken bones in a bedroom, and little dirty handprints 7 feet off the ground. I don't even WANT to know how those got there.

  One child cannot find his shoes. He has several pairs. He has worn shoes each and every day, but he CAN NOT find  his shoes. This is a daily occurrence and he blames……wait for it…………………Me. Of course. Because when he is asleep I wear his shoes and then hide them. I am just that mean. I think for the school year, since this is a re-occurring theme, I will get him a pair of pink ballet slippers so that on the days he cannot find his shoes he can wear those to school.

  One child wore his brand new school shoes to climb the giant dirt pile, after a rain. Nice.

  They ate an entire LARGE bag of chips in one day. For breakfast.

  Boyz. Pray for me…..

On My Last Nerve

  One child here is struggling mightily. He threw up at Open House (anxiety). He has lost his backpack. He forgot how to brush his teeth. He moans and whines and tantrums every day. He cannot find any shoes to wear. He is having potty problems (laundry has been very disgusting). He makes a horrible mess when he eats. He cut a hole in his shirt 'trying out' his new school scissors.

Hopefully as he settles into the new school year he will adjust and calm down. Until then, I am hanging on by my fingernails…..

We are considering moving him to the small private school I am teaching at this year. Can't decide if the small class size would be the answer to help him with his anxiety or if it would harm him in his social development. If we don't challenge him with new situations how will he ever develop the skills to deal with them? We can't keep him in a bubble but we don't want to send him over the edge either. Ugh, why does parenting have to be so hard????

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rebound, Fallout, Twerking RAD

  Like that title? That is my brain after spending 9 days slaving away pouring cement, etc in Costa Rica, only to return and immediately begin suffering from the intestinal equivalent of a tsunami. I no longer wish I would die and I have actually ventured out in public a little bit, so I must be getting better. I am not sure, though, since the fog in my brain is thick enough to block out all rational thought.

  Those of you with RADlets know the drill. Something changes, anxiety hits the roof and our special ones devolve into a grab bag of less-than-pleasing behaviors. In the past the change could be very minor and still elicit things such as shredding all food, nightmares, destruction of belongings, nasty temper tantrums and potty issues. (Remember the many weeks of poo? I do!) Over time it took larger and larger changes to set Jon off, and the fallout behaviors have become less and less destructive.

  So these past few weeks have been ALL change. First school let out, then my job changed, then off for a week of vacation, and a week after we returned Mommy took off for 9 days. Then Mommy gets laid out with a horrible case of the traveling ICK. Changes of global proportions. Anxiety inducing changes of epic proportions.

  How has Jon been? A little clingy, a little more mean to his brothers, and he tends to get into a cycle of anxiety where he has to make constant non-stop noise, whether he is talking, making sound effects or singing. That's it. Unless he is saving up something really big to hit me with down the road, I have gotten off very lightly. Extra hugs, re-direct the meaner behavior and remind him he is making noise, then engage him in a real conversation. Abso-freakin-lutely amazing!!!! He is going to make it! I see a "normal" kid. An active, smart NORMAL acting kid.

Halleluia…Halleleugia….Hallelughi.. aw heck. I can't spell it. Praise the LORD!

Now if I can just get him to pick up his dirty clothes….that would be a miracle. LOL!

Oh, by the way, I must have been gone a lot longer than I realized, because this is what I found when I returned.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Our trip, continued

The first few days of our trip were fine. We got along and worked together, but emotionally we still danced around each other. Both of us were a bit snappy and quick to see offense. Then one night we both blew. (I would love to say I was perfectly calm, but I cannot lie. My feelings were hurt and I was exhausted physically and emotionally) We finally went to bed but I slept little that night.

I spent the night praying and asking God to show me how to let this child of mine feel how much I loved her, how much she could trust me, how safe she is with me. About 4 am it came to me. Peace. At that point I knew what I needed to do. (I fixed this pic. I didn't realize I had made it too big and accidentally cut out Ashley. Don't read too much into that. It wasn't a subliminal Freudian moment…)

I had to let Ashley know that I was making every attempt to see things from her perspective. That it was okay the way she felt (even when I knew she didn't have all the facts). Her feelings were not wrong, they were legitimate. Instead of trying to show her why she was wrong because she didn't know everything, I just needed to validate her feelings. So I did. And we had the most wonderful discussion ever. She made the effort to see my perspective, too!

She is an awesome person. So intelligent, so loving, so empathetic. She is a very hard worker, too. I still think she is a very old soul in a young body. She just has an air about her that is other-wordly.

I know she loves me and she told me she thinks I am a great mother. We are just two very different personalities who went through a lot of pain in her first years. Hers was physical and mine was emotional. Do you know how hard it is to sit next to your tiny baby's hospital crib and hear the alarms go off and then stand out of the way why the staff works to get her breathing again? Do you know what it is like to hold her when they stick her tiny body over and over trying to get an IV line going, only to have the one they finally place in her scalp blow and create a huge goose egg? To hand off your little baby to strangers as they take her to the OR, all the time praying she is not scared and alone? She has every reason to blame me. I was the one constant when she was in pain. As hard as I tried I could not make the pain go away or comfort her enough.

She is an amazing person. I am blessed to be the one she calls Mom. I am equally blessed to be the one she blames. I want to be her soft place to fall, her rock, her anchor. No matter what, if she has pain in her life, I will be there, and she can blame it all on me. I will gladly do that for her!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Costa Rica

  I am back from Costa Rica. I have to say that my husband is the absolute Best of the best. The house is clean, the laundry is done and he even shampooed carpets. He even cooked a couple of nights. I missed him and the boys and my bed so much. I am extremely blessed with my life and family.  Somewhere along the way I must have done something right to deserve this awesome life I have.
  This trip has changed me. I knew I would experience a lot during this trip. The physical labor required was extreme. I am 50 years old, overweight and do not work out. Only God could have stepped in and given me the strength I needed to achieve the things I did this week. Amazingly I was not sore. Not one single day. I did not run out of energy until we left the work site and were on our two day rest and reflection portion of the trip.
  More important than the physical work I did was the emotional work I did. Ashley and I have a fragile, strained relationship at best. We are polar opposites. I do not understand her and she does not get me. Since before she was born I have loved her with every fiber of my being, but she has been an enigma from day one. She appeared to be a very old soul in a tiny body. She seemed so much wiser and all-seeing than me even as a toddler. She used to talk about her previous life, tell me about the clothing, the language and the people. The story was always the same. I swear she was re-incarnated and remembered it. She scared me. A lot.
  She hates being touched. I don't know if that is because she spent the first two years of her life being sick, getting poked, prodded and tortured by needles, or if she was born with sensitivities. Every time she was ill as a child I was the one to hold her as they stuck her, shoved catheters into her, etc etc. does she associate me with pain  somewhere deep down in her unconscious self? If I had it to do over again I would still be holding her. How could I walk away and leave her alone to face those situations? She was just a baby!
  I had high hopes for this trip. I wanted to connect in a deep and meaningful way with her. She is an amazing young woman. Absolutely amazing. Brilliant, motivated, she has a vision and a purpose in life. I want to be part of that. Her support system, her soft place to land. Heck, I would settle for just being her friend!!!
  My hopes and dreams for this time with her hit some serious snags.

To be continued......

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What hurts more...

  Ashley and I are in Costa Rica on a nine day mission trip with our church. I am so glad she was able to come with me. I have such high hopes that this will bet one of those special bonding experiences that will forever form a thread between us. I can see us laughing together in years to come at the memories we, and we alone share.
  We arrived on Saturday and then had Sunday to worship and relax with some sightseeing before beginning the hard physical work on Monday. Visit the blog for the church by clicking on this link

  I was prepared for the hard physical labor, but the spiritual and emotional work I am doing have caught me off guard. Ashley is prickly, to put it mildly. She always has been. She doesn't like to be touched or hugged at all. She has a hard time showing any affection for anyone except her dog. Even her friends think this. She is hard to get close to, even as her mother. I am struggling with connecting with her on this trip. Don't get me wrong, I love her and she knows it, and she loves me. I just want a deeper, more meaningful adult level relationship with her. I want to be able to listen to her talk about her life and dreams and encourage her. I want to share in her thoughts and feelings, to be a safe place for her to vent and no I will never judge her.

  I will keep trying, but not too hard since that sends her into super prickly mode. I need to be open and accepting and non-critical. I need to let her take the lead in the relationship for a while.

  So be sides the sore muscles, bruises, cuts and scrapes, my heart is banged up a bit. Time to take more pain meds and put my big girl panties on. More hard work awaits me.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Costa Rica

  The trip yesterday was flawless. All people and bags arrived safely at our destination. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Pictures do not do it justice. Our little motel  is situated at the base of a small volcanic mountain. The tropical trees are waving in the wind above us topped by bright blue skies full of small puffy white clouds.
  The trees around the motel are full of Howler monkeys. They are named this because of the strange howling sounds they make. Sounds that seem to come from a thousand tortured souls deep in the dungeons of a castle. And it goes on ALL NIGHT LONG! Luckily they were not too close last night and we could mostly ignore them. Not so much for the constant ding-ding of Ashleys phone as numerous random stupidities were arriving for her to see. Tonight her phone is on silent mode.
  Today we eat and then head to church. The service is all in spanish and about 2 hours long. They told us to be prepared to dance and sweat our buns off. This ought to be interesting. Then we change, grab lunch and head out for an afternoon of sightseeing and shopping.

Go check out for more info and pictures.

Love to all!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Costa Rica!!!

  Ashley and I are heading out Saturday morning for a 9 day mission trip to Costa Rica. There are 13 members of our church participating. We will be providing physical labor for building the second story on a church in Nicoya then retreating for a bit of rest and reflection in Tamarindo. Please follow along with us at our special mission trip blog

Here is part of the Mission Trip Team after spending the day with our families painting rooms at the Dream House in Conroe. This was our test run of how well we can work together and it was awesome.

Come join us in Costa Rica next week and see the hands of God at work!

Friday, July 04, 2014

More vacation photos

These are the last of the photos I have from our vacation. usually I take a LOT more photos but this time I was just too busy having a blast. I am still exhausted and have picked up a sinus infection. Ashley and I leave in one week for a mission trip to Costa Rica and I need to recover before then. Luckily our doctor's office is open on the weekends. I will be seeing them tomorrow. 

Road trips are not the same as when I was a kid. These guys have iPads, movies, gaming devices, books, snacks and music. The 4 hour trip was actually enjoyable. Very relaxing. 

The Dad always drives. This way we don't get pulled over for speeding. Me, well I have a heavy foot and no patience. Plus I like to knit, read and chatter incessantly at my quiet hubby. Poor man….
 The living area of our cabin. We did not use the fireplace but it was a nice touch. The large cabinet held all of our food, a refrigerator and microwave. 
 The master bedroom. Super comfy bed and the western decor was so fun!
 The boys' bedroom. Within 3 minutes of arrival they discovered that the metal bed frames made hilarious sounds when they bounced on the beds. Luckily they were so exhausted at the end of each day there was no bouncing and no resistance about bedtime.
 I forgot to mention they had putt-putt golf, a petting zoo and two playgrounds. This is seriously the best kid-centered resort to vacation at I have ever seen. Nothing was ever crowded, not even the water park.
 This is me in the car on the way there. I looked a lot tanner and tired by the return trip. I want to go back many more times!!!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014


Life around here has been as hectic as always. I originally had the summer off but something came up so I am now working most weeks. Not what I planned on but it will work out. 

For vacation this year we went to the Cowboy Capital of the world, Bandera, Texas. We stayed at the most amazing ranch, The Flying L Ranch. There were tons of activities for the boys and lots of R&R for us grown-ups. I read 5 books while we were there and even knit a fair bit. 

The pictures are all out of order but hopefully you can make sense of them. I did not get photos of the horseback riding (we went on three trail rides) or the water park on this camera. We spent many hours in the water park located right there on site. The food was good, we had nightly entertainment and the kids had a blast. We didn't even manage to get to the tennis courts or the ghost town. Next time….

Hitting balls at the driving range. Levi has outgrown his clubs but still managed to hit his driver 200 yards. 

Me and my Sweetie relaxing on the front porch of our cabin (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright)

 Lots of time spent at the pool and the water park on the grounds. We were able to walk to everything.


Climbing Enchanted Rock. 

More nachos and swimming.

Archery during the morning Kids Club activities. Yep, three hours each morning they entertained our kids for us. I told you it was awesome!

The view from our cabin.

 Just being goofy. There was quite a bit of goofiness.

Big swing!