Saturday, August 31, 2013

Midwest Memories II: "Sailing" at the Ponds

The second leg of our midwest trip was to central Michigan, where we stayed with Dave's wonderful Mom and Tom, or Grandma Dawn and Grandpa Tom to the kids. Their beautiful (if buggy) little slice of paradise, a.k.a. "The Ponds," was just as grand as ever a spot for relaxation and exploration. The fountain bubbled, the frogs sang all day, the baby deer came right up to the house, the hummingbirds buzzed through magnificent gardens, displaying their gorgeous ruby-colored throats. Lucky for us, we had a week to spend there soaking it all in!

It just so happened that Grandpa Tom had a brand new basketball hoop that he wanted to set up while we were there. The basketball hoop just happened to come in a very large cardboard box. It just so happened that we had someone with us who really loves very large cardboard boxes and never lacks for creative ideas about how to use them. And it happens that Grandpa loves to power creative ideas. Thus:






Matthew's Cardboard Sailboat + Grandpa's Tractor Mower = Sailing at the Ponds

What a great memory!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Midwest Memories I

Every other year we take a road trip northward and westward to visit Dave's mom's side of the family. So in mid-July we packed up the minivan and cruised up I-70 toward the PA Turnpike. The next day we arrived in West Chicago, the home of Dave's dear Aunt Linda.

We spent barely two days there, but boy, were they packed full of fun: time with Dave's cousins and their families, meeting new baby Cody (my kids' youngest second cousin), swimming at the most amazing community pool/waterpark I've ever seen (it had three water slides, a water playground, and a massive sand-play area the size of my home's main level--oh, and a place to do normal swimming). We ate good food, we played at a great playground, we kept the kids up super late (especially factoring in the one-hour time difference).

One cute snippet from this part of the trip: Esme was completely nonplussed by the title of "Aunt" for Linda. No matter how many times we told her, "Esme, this is Aunt Linda," she slipped right back into calling her "Grandma." Hey, if it looks like a grandma, acts like a grandma, loves like a grandma... what can you expect?

I only brought the camera out one time in this busy blur, but the shot I got was a keeper! (Just never mind that Dave's head looks like it's sprouting lush foliage, ok?)

This is Linda with our crew--can you tell how much our family loves this lady? She is a most gracious hostess and a joyful soul. We're so thankful to have had time with her (and Lisa, Santi, David, Andrew, Dave, Ronae and Cody!) again this year.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Health Updates

That was quite a little cliffhanger I created earlier this summer with Meg and her endoscopy, hm? (Posts here and here.) I do apologize to anyone who's been anxiously waiting for news of Meg's diagnosis and hasn't heard from us personally.

Meg does indeed have celiac disease, so this summer we've been taking steps to move from a mostly-wheat-free diet to a strict gluten-free diet. In fact, yesterday we met with a nutritionist who helped to answer some of our questions and navigate us through some of the tricky waters of cross-contamination sources. This is very important in a household like ours, where not everyone eats gluten free. For example, I can't toast the kids' GF bread in the same toaster slots where I toast Dave and Graham's wheat bread. I can't make GF and normal sandwiches on the same cutting board. I can't use the same containers of butter, peanut butter, jelly, etc. for Meg that I use for everyone else--there may be little gluten-containing crumbs in there that could spread to Meg's food. Every time I ask Meg to hand Graham an animal cracker, she needs to wash her hands afterwards.

This kind of thing sounds crazy if you're unfamiliar with celiac, I know. But for Meg, even ingesting the dust from a product made with gluten causes her body to go on the war path. Fortunately, her case is not yet so advanced that we've seen major reactions from that kind of "minor" cross-contamination scenario. But to keep her disease from progressing, that's how serious we need to be.

Of course, we would love it if Meg didn't have celiac disease--it's a lifelong limitation for her; it's inconvenient for those around her, etc. But I am so very grateful that she has this clear diagnosis at age seven. Many people with celiac go well into their adult years with vague or mysterious symptoms that go untreated and undiagnosed until they are very ill. For us, it's been a few stomach aches, and... bingo, here's what it is. And it's completely treatable with diet! No expensive meds, no hospitalizations... as health issues go, this one could be an awful lot worse.

*     *     *

On a largely unrelated note, I managed to overdose on caffeine last night. Talk about a stupid mistake! I'm not a habitual coffee/tea/soda drinker, but I have learned that caffeine is the one thing that helps with my bad monthly headaches. So yesterday when the headache started and I couldn't find my bottle of Midol (which contains caffeine), I brewed a pot of coffee and downed a great big mug. Then, maybe an hour later, I did find my Midol, and without thinking too much about it, tossed back a couple of those. This was all early evening time as I was prepping dinner, so my stomach was basically empty.

Well, by the time I got dinner on the table, I was shaking all over and feeling terribly weak. As soon as I had eaten a little bit, I lay down and stayed horizontal for the rest of the night. And it was a doozy of a night--I trembled, I was nauseous, I threw up, I had rapid breathing, my heart was pounding, my TMJ flared up. In short, I was a mess. Finally, around 4:00 this morning, my body had metabolized/purged enough that I was able to sleep.

Moral of the story:  Don't be an idiot. A headache (even one that lasts for three days, as some of mine do), is better than an overdose. Medicate wisely.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We're Back... in More Ways Than One

First of all... I know. Unplanned blogging break. Summer hit. It brought camps, travels, trips to the swimming pool, time with family, a frenzy of new school-year planning. It was choppy, busy, and fun. I took almost no pictures of any of it, unfortunately, so this may be all the summer recap you get.

But about that new school year.

Today was our first day of school. I took some quick snaps of the kids this morning, which didn't turn out so well, but... better than nothing?

Here's one excited little girl, totally psyched about her "new school book."

Cuter-than-cute boy who will be so relieved to be back into a real routine:
photo 1

And the happiest back-to-school girlie ever. This child was born for school.
photo 4

Our first day went well overall, though it was not without challenges (read: meltdowns). I'm so grateful to get to school my kids here at home, grateful we get to be together, grateful I get to steward their little minds and spirits in such a hands-on way. They are abundantly worth all of the effort it demands!