Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turning twelve

Big Al was born on Thanksgiving Day 12 years ago. We had a traditional family get together minus an aunt and an uncle (friends come next week for a few hours). We are re-doing Big Al's bedroom - new paint (teal - I'm finished), new bedding (teal and chocolate brown), new flooring (Brian needs to start that tomorrow), and I need to find curtains.

The day started by picking up her great friend (Big I) and going to see Twilight. Big Al (and every other middle school girl I know) has read the first two books - I'll admit I have read them all - so this was a definite MUST see. We decided that the movie was excellent, Jasper does indeed look to be in pain throughout the whole thing, Carlisle is HOT (my opinion) and so is Edward, although his nose bothered me. I actually liked it a little better than the book because you didn't need to wade through endless whines about Bella's inability to live without him - puhlease. The only down side was all of the overly whitened teeth worn by every single person in that movie - really bugged me - but I really appreciated the diversity in casting.
After the movie we went to get a "WAY MORE MATURE" haircut which was then promptly put into a ponytail just like every other day, except for the bangs which dangle just enough to irk the mom.
As soon as Grandma Cathy and Aunt Christy and Cate showed up it was TIME FOR PRESENTS. Oma and Granddad sent gorgeous earrings, and Grandma Cathy gave the perfect gift certificates, but the box that Big Al was DYING to open had been sitting in my room for the last month taunting her from Grandma Davis. Yes ladies, my daughter now owns two Vera Bradley bags (a purse and a backpack). Big Al has been drooling over the purse since this summer, and was pumped to get a matching backpack. Everyone ate lovely hamburgers prepared by Brian, and Big I got to spend the night.
All in all, an enjoyable celebration of a great person.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Our trip to my family gathering began yesterday with haircuts and last minute errands. We packed up the car with kids and dogs, food and games, and it looked something like this:

Brian is a country music (or "crunchy music" if you're Cheesie) fan, and since he was driving he controlled the radio. A few minutes into the trip, Brian turned up the radio and we hear, "OH MY EARS!!!!"
We met up with the family today, and were reminded of all the things for which we are thankful:
A grandma with Alzheimer's - we're thankful that she had a lovely afternoon with a new granddaughter, and one who has her last day of being 11.,

A cadet, home in the middle of his first semester of independence,

A sister finding a place to nap,

23 family members able to gather this year,



And a good dog to curl up with on the ride home.

I hope your family (and friends) had a lovely day together too!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Back on the bike, and keeping secrets

Blondie got back on her bike for therapy again. It's been about 2 months because of the cast and weather, etc. She ended up riding to the ice cream parlor with her PT and got ice cream. Then OT tag teamed her and made her eat it with lefty - which was quite hard because the ice cream was so hard. Probably won't ride again because it is actually FREEZING in the south right now.

I was most upset because my camera stinks - it only runs on batteries, you can't charge it - and of course it runs out during therapy. About 4 weeks ago Blondie's OT had her copy a block structure with a set of blocks that matched it perfectly. Well, the camera didn't work that day either, but Blondie ended up building it fairly well, but reversed pretty much all of it. So I totally freaked out because what does that mean for her processing? Does she read things, and then have to flip things around in her brain to get it out correctly? I don't see her writing that way, but it is very labor intensive. So she and I have been working on spatial problems. If Blondie solves a puzzle (just a regular 25-50 piece thing) she does okay. She can rotate pieces just fine, but she doesn't flip them over and turn them if it is a 3-D block. So I bought two sets of the same small blocks so we both had exactly the same pieces, and I would build and she would copy. Little by little we have seen it improve. Sometimes she builds and then I copy, and intentionally do it wrong, and until recently she just said, "Yep. That looks great." This week though she started really looking at my mistakes and is beginning to point them out. UNFORTUNATELY, the camera died while this was going on at OT this week, so I couldn't get video. I'll try to do that this weekend so you can see what I'm talking about. Spatial reasoning is important to math, reading, etc (very important to this math teacher) so it isn't something I feel we can ignore. I'm probably overdoing it, but since children form so much of their learning in their early years I don't think I can waste a moment. Am I tired..... I won't lie..... yes... but it can't be ignored.

Meanwhile there are some serious secrets going on in the house. T-Rex has been listening to me talk about making different presents (like I have the time - but it WILL be done) for various people in the family, so she has decided to do this too. Obviously I can't post pictures anytime soon, but maybe the day after Christmas we can post our handiwork. Cheesie is also ramping up her potholders, so some people may expect to see those under the tree too - even Blondie is starting to think about it. Since Brian is taking over Big Al's last soccer games this weekend I may actually get some things done - in addition to finishing the paint job on Big Al's room. Maybe...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So who is reading?

The girls and I are very curious as to who is reading this blog and why. We suspect most are coming over from the brain surgery group, but we're curious none-the-less. Go to the comments and take a minute to tell us who you are, whyyou keep up with us, and maybe what you enjoy. We're definitely wanting to hear from the people in other countries - I speak a little German, and lived there when I was a kid, so I'm thrilled to see it on my map. Thanks for tuning in.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The cast comes off

On Wednesday, Brian took Blondie to get her cast off. She walked out of the office and said "YES!" We've noticed that although she has maintained her strength her lower arm is actually more rotated the wrong way. So we took her to therapy on Thursday and her therapists are now focused on working that back to what it was (which wasn't great either, but better than what we have now).

She could straighten it above her head (LOOK AT THAT WRIST TRYING TO STRAIGHTEN)...

And out to the sides....

And out front if we wanted it to turn with her thumb down (which is what we fight).

Thumb in a regular position was fine,

But palm up was the worst. She absolutely can not straighten her arm that way. Anything we do palm up is very difficult at this point. We'll keep working on it though, and hopefully eventually conquer it.

Then we went home to find Cheesie (and one of the dogs) sleeping at 6:30 p.m. like this:

She had pulled out the papasan chair cushion, and curled up on it. The dog had taken over her pillow and wouldn't budge.... Cheesie wouldn't budge either - another night she slept through dinner. What are they doing in Kindergarten?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

I hope everyone was able to show appreciation to those men and women who have served in the military. For me growing up it was a way of life - and I'm always caught off guard when people think it is a strange way to live. I loved every minute of it - except when I had to say goodbye to my favorite friends in Sembach Germany and Ft. Carson Colorado. The above picture is of my Dad, Major Charlie Brown, who passed away in February. He is buried in Arlington, but that only slightly indicates who he was. He was PASSIONATE about this country, and dedicated to preserving our way of life. He had a very clear since of purpose in his life and he lived that purpose daily. He served in the Army for 20 years.

My father is not the only person in my immediate life who has served his country and dedicated many years to the military. My husband Brian was in the Navy, His father John also retired from the Army as a Lt. Col., My granddad Jolly retired a Lt. Col in the Air Force, My granddad Cecil was killed in the Korean War after graduating from West Point, and my granddad Brown served in the Army and then continued working for our country through the government. Currently, my first cousins are in the Citadel and the Air Force Academy and hope to follow in the footsteps of my father, grandfathers, and those that currently serve. We are proud of the military tradition in our family.

I hope everyone took a moment today to think about those that have served, and those that continue to fight. Wave a flag folks, it's important.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Totally missed an anniversary

And it was a GREAT anniversary to forget. November 5, 2004 I got one of the worst calls in my life. Daycare called to say that Blondie was acting weird, not responding, and then when the "spell" passed she wouldn't stay awake. I went flying over to daycare, rushed her to the pediatrician to simply find a normal little girl. So I went shopping with her on my unexpected rest of the day off, and then in the middle of the department store I saw her first seizure. I left an entire cart of Christmas presents sitting in the aisle, picked up my baby, sped down the road, and walked right past the desk at the doctor's office to find anyone could help. Little did I know the journey we were about to begin, but it was a doozy.

So 4 days and 4 years later, I'm in the car and remember the date, and how it has passed unnoticed. How is that for progress? Some of you who read this blog can't imagine that time ever showing up in your own life, but I promise it will come and then you will realize that you are living again. Fully living, and enjoying your life.

So in honor of all of the things that are normal in her life, I want to show you just what "disabled" looks like.

Pretty normal, huh?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Someday, when I'm old, I can just sit....

But I am not old today! (Although I did just slug Big Al for asking if I was sure about that statement)

Today I took a few of my Brownies to a local puppet theatre to see the Wizard of Oz (or if you're Cheesie - Wizard uh Boz). I hadn't been there before, but the girls are working on a dolls and puppet try-it, so we took advantage of a dirt cheap outing (4 BUCKS - cheaper than starbucks). You know how in the movie little children cry when Dorothy gets sucked up into the tornado? They do that in puppet theatres too, not my Brownies - 'cause Blondie was actually giggling - but all of the other little kids. All in all it was enjoyable, but they only do new shows about every 6 months so I won't go back until the next show starts up in January. I also took T-Rex ( who always likes something new even if it might be too little) and Cheesie as well, and everyone had a good time. I was quite impressed because they really scaled down the story to about 45 minutes so the little ones weren't too bored.

After the puppet show I went to school to cut an endless supply of 2-liter bottles into terrarium/aquarium things because the critters show up for them on Wednesday. I did manage to slice my finger open, and I learned never to ask the assitant principal for
first aid because my thumb ended up looking like a cartoon. From there we were close to the time that our fall carnival at school began so then I ran around having fun with kids. At one point another fifth grade teacher and I raced up an inflatable climbing wall - I lost because I was laughing so hard. I think my entire girl scout troop was there - thankfully we finished before my boss came marching out. If I find someone with the pictures I'll post them - of course I'm sure the angle won't be flattering.

Go do something with your kids - turn off the football games - it was a beautiful day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This message brought to you by the letter D for democracy

In my current state students are off on election day - unlike the last state in which I lived, but today that was a FANTASTIC idea.
First, I had to get up this morning and get over to the DMV to get a second copy of my license because it all of the recent shoveling of junk from upstairs for the new flooring, mine has gone missing - AND I HAD TO VOTE today.

So then I thought, "hmmmmm since everyone will try to vote and then go to work I'll wait until 11 ish and then miss the crowds." So at the self-appointed time, I ran over to my school to vote and thought I picked the PERFECT time because there was a line inside, and a short line outside. So I waited in the short outside line for about 20 minutes when they suddenly let all of us in..... and then I walked down the REALLY LONG hall that was REALLY packed with people, and then hung a right and went down that shorter hall, and hung another right and went down that really long hall too (reason why it was really good we didn't have school today). Clearly everyone didn't get my memo that I was supposed to skate right through line because I had to move on to my next activity of the day. I was forced to leave because there was no way I was getting out of there in under 3 hours.

At 12:45 my driveway was packed with 11 little girls trying not to let me see that some of them had cell phones. One of my girl scout troops (I now have 3 - I know, I know) was doing community service at a local food bank and I was the chauffer and chief glarer. After touring the food bank, the girls worked their fannies off stuffing 2000 envelopes. They did it in a little over an hour and saved the food bank from having to out source it. Their reactions were quite interesting though because it definitely wasn't what they thought it would be, and many decided they would never work in an office that had envelopes.

So I returned home around 4:00 and decided to vote, and found a short line again. I really had no choice though, I had to get in line before the after work crowd showed up. I was ecstatic to see that it was actually a VERY short line, and took only about 26 minutes from start to finish. I did have to cancel Blondie's therapies though, but I'll try to post about those on Thursday.

I hope everyone got their chance to exercise their fundamental American right to vote, and everyone wears their sticker today and tomorrow regardless of the outcome.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No breaks

It seems lately that we are always on the move, and never taking a break. We work, tag team kids with homework and driving to activities, and then in the evenings we might get to sit, but we're getting up to wash little heads, work on the laundry, cook dinner, clean up the dishes, etc. The weekends are really busy right now. It's getting colder, so we don't have tennis every weekend (just when its over 40 degrees), we only have 2 soccer games left, and 1 tournament so that is cutting down. However, we are constantly having to update the house.

When we bought this house it was pretty trashed holes in the walls, chipped sinks, a NASTY kitchen, etc.. We have pulled down all of the wallpaper, and painted every room now. We noticed that Blondie's allergies were really bad, so we pulled carpet out of their room and put in hardwood floors, but thats when I decided I wanted to have the continuous hardwood look, so then it continued out the door into the hall, and into T-Rex's room. This meant that I had to repaint T-Rex's room because she had outgrown the mural I painted on her wall when we moved in and she was 3 - not to mention pulling out her rug. Then there were the refinished beds (gorgeous antigue spindle beds we painted white) for the little girls, and T-Rex got a "new" double bed. All of those things required the perfect bedding. Then we finally got more hardwood, and it sat in my library (which needs repainting because I hate the color, and built in bookshelves, and wood floors, etc.) for months. So last weekend I started REALLY paring down what was in my room so we could scoot furniture to one side, had kids hauling floorboards upstairs, and Brian got busy putting it down. This weekend, the fun continues. Once we finish this we'll need a new headboard, side tables, then repaint Big Al's room, pull out her carpet, then....