Monday, December 29, 2008

Type 1

I'm back! I just wanted to give a little info on Erin's disease for those of you who don't know (like me, about 3 weeks ago!)

Type 2 is what we had been a bit familiar with, as Barry's mom had it. Type 2 usually sets in during adulthood (but is increasing in children) and is linked closely to obesity, diet, lack of exercise, etc. Many people need insulin...but many can control their disease with exercise and diet.

Erin has Type 1, or Juvenile Onset Diabetes. It is hereditary, although we cannot find a link in our families. Her pancreas basically shut down and stopped producing enough insulin on it's own to handle the body's glucose. It's very ironic that Erin got this, as she's the healthiest one in the family!

She does have diet restrictions. But, as I had worked fairly hard to give my kids good nutrition, her basic diet hasn't changed much. It's just that she can't have all of those "extras" that we enjoyed before. Well, she can, but she's only allotted so many carbs...and I'd prefer her to get those carbs in the form of whole wheat or fresh fruit instead of, say, candy. :) So, we now bake cookies with applesause and Splenda instead of butter and sugar.

She must take two shots of insulin every day, and we test her blood sugar before every meal, at bedtime, and, until I can relax a bit, at 3am. Along with researching the best nutritional path to take (I'm not a big fan of dietitions and the whole idea of "white bread is the same as whole wheat") I'll also be researching the best insulin program to use (shots vs. the pump, number of shots per day, etc) As you can imagine, I have a LOT of reading and research to do! Ugh. But this is my new life. My baby's future health is in my hands, and I intend to do my utmost. If not, she faces eye deterioration, kidney failure, nerve damage, and heart disease risks.

Anyway, I hope that gives you a quick overview of Type 1. :)

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I realize I'm a few days behind with my holiday wishes. I just can't seem to catch up with my life. :)

Ok, for those of you who usually receive Christmas cards and letters from us...I'm sorry. With all that's happened this month, something just had to give. I actually called my mom and asked her permission to not do them, which, of course, she immediately granted me. But, alas, the guilt has not left me yet. :) Feeling guilty runs in the family....

Christmas was very good. A couple of days beforehand, I finally came down off of my "high" and emotionally "crashed". I take after my Grandma Dee in that I like to celebrate with food. I usually go all out at Christmas ... bake up a storm and experiment with new appetizers. This year, being under such diet restrictions, my heart just wasn't in it. I admit to feeling sorry for myself...but really more lost than anything. But, I guess with less emphasis on food and gifts (we scaled way back with the yucky ecomomy and the looming medical bills) we enjoyed a much simpler Christmas. I was focused on my family and our health...and the gifts God has blessed me with.

Erin did ok. No major breakdowns, although I certainly wouldn't have held it against her if she had. At my family Christmas, we timed dinner around Erin, and had a sit down dinner, as opposed to the planned "graze on appetizers all night". She said she didn't want to go to Barry's family Christmas. It didn't start until after her dinner time, so she couldn't eat there. She said if she couldn't eat any food there, and shouldn't run around for fear of going "low", then what was the point of going? :) But she went, AND I think she had fun.

I'm still having trouble with my blog on my computer. I just don't understand why I can post and update from Barry's laptop, but not from my computer. (And all of my pictures are on my computer...hence the boring, no picture posts.) So, as of now, I am unable to show you the pictures from the girls' Christmas programs, the pictures of my adorable niece and nephew, etc.

Today the girls and I went shopping in Eau Claire. We needed groceries. I wanted to check out all of the awesome post-Christmas deals on clothes. And the girls wanted to get their much-anticipated hermit crabs from Petco. You wouldn't believe the reading, research and planning Alana has put into this newest venture! When she sets her mind to something, she goes all out! We came home with two new family members...Hermin and Shelly. (Yes, my kids ARE brilliant!)

Other than that, not much is new. I'm currently fighting off a huge headache and sore back...and shopping always puts me in a sour mood. I had originally (pre-diabetes) planned to do school today and tomorrow, but that idea flew out the window. I'm still trying to find my footing. Whereas before I spent all of my free time planning and reading about homeschooling, I now am trying to learn all I can about type 1 diabetes. It's funny to think that a year ago, I was stepping into a new life. Our new journey...homeschooling. And now, exactly a year later, we're taking on a new turn...diabetes. Not that I would ever propose to know what God's thinking, but I have to wonder if God put homeschooling in my heart in preparation for Erin to get sick. I can't imagine sending her off to school now with this disease, so homeschooling is truly a Godsend. He's good...that's all I can say! :)

Hopefully I'll check in before the year is over. (Ha ha..get it?) Hope you all stay safe, healthy, and warm! God bless!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our NEW Road...

I appologize for the long delay in posting. We had a week of crisis, followed by some time of computer/blogging issues. I'm finally able to update the blog from Barry's computer, so here goes...

On Sunday, Dec. 7 2008 our life was changed forever. Erin had been sick with what we assumed was the flu since Friday night. Although she vomited on Saturday morning, she begged me to still take her and Alana to the Little House Christmas play in Eau Claire that her Brownie troup was going to. As she had been able to keep down some 7-Up, Saltines and popsicles I agreed...although she looked horrible. I described her as looking like a Holocaust victim. She made it through the play without incident, although I know she regretted going, but then threw up again at about 5pm Saturday night. As we went to bed Saturday night, however, she had kept down some applesauce and popsicles and was still communicating with me well.

She was very restless all night, but had complained of the body aches associated with the flu. Her breathing also became very rapid. By early Sunday am, Barry wanted to take her in to Urgent Care in Eau Claire. Unfortunately, I resisted, as I didn't want to traumatize her, knowing that 99% of the time they'd say, "She has a viral infection and needs fluids and lots of rest." After talking to a good friend, she thought I should take her, and she'd cover for me at Sunday School. We dropped Alana off at Sunday School and made arrangements for her to go to Barry's sister's afterward and took off to Urgent Care.

It's funny, but after finally making the decision to take her, I finally came out of my denial and knew that something was wrong. But I still couldn't figure out what it could be, besides the flu, and I knew she had had enough fluids to not be seriously dehydrated. I prayed the entire drive (30 minutes) like I had never prayed before. Instead of praying for her to be alright, I prayed for acceptance of God's will. I've never prayed for that before, so I know that, instinctively, it was bad. I just wished for her to survive.

At the Urgent Care, after too much delay for our sanity (and Erin's health) the doctor asked about increased urination and thirst. Well, yes, actually. Erin and I had both noticed starting on the day after Thanksgiving that she was very thirsty all of the time. But, we had all been passing colds around, so this seemed normal...but I filed away the info. Now the doctor said he wanted to test for Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes. Barry and I looked at each other and we both instantly knew...that was it. My heart was physically gripped with fear. The doc sent us downstairs to the lab, and while we waited (for too long) we both began panicking...if this was diabetes, then was she slipping into a diabetic coma? She was unresponsive, yet awake...her eyes were rolling back in her head...and she had rapid breathing. When we were finally called into the lab, the lab tech said, "She should be in the ER, NOW."

Off we went to the ER a few minutes we knew it was a matter of life and death. They were waiting for us and got us back immediately. I can only describe the experience as feeling like you were in the middle of an episode of ER or Grey's Annatomy...except this was OUR baby. There were WAY too many people working on her, sticking WAY too many tubes and needles into her. She was still unresponsive. First I heard them say that she would be admitted to the hospital. "Oh, God!" A bit later, her blood glucose came back as 1380 (normal is 70-120). "Oh, God!"

As we were on the phone in the hall calling family, the doctor came out to tell us they were going to fly her to Rochester. In our neck of the woods, that is one thing you do NOT want to hear. That means that it is serious...critical. Eau Claire does not have a PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and that's where they wanted her. Only God's hand kept me from dropping to my knees. I sobbed. I called Rick & Lori, who were on the way up to EC and told them to wait. I called my sister, and she immediately said she'd meet me in Rochester. Unfortunately, I had to leave a message for my mom & dad.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) it was snowing too hard in Rochester for the chopper to fly, so we'd have to go by ambulance. This was good because I'd be able to ride with. I can't imagine putting my baby on a chopper and arriving a couple of hours behind her. We were in Rochester by 2:15 Sunday afternoon. I can't tell you how long that drive was. How I just physically seeped in guilt...why didn't I bring her sooner? What if she dies?

The rest of the day was a big blur. Amy picked up Tony and arrived not long after we did. Barry arrived a little later after stopping in Mondovi to talk to Alana and to pick up a few overnight necessities. Mom & Dad didn't check their messages, so didn't know until Amy called them about 4pm...they came right away. They had to take her blood sugar down slowly so as not to shock her body. Luckily, by 10pm, she was awake enough to recognize every one in the room and to know where she was. Now we knew our girl would make it.

Barry was able to spend the night in the PICU in a guest room...I slept on the couch in Erin's room. Erin woke me up twice during the night...first, she wanted to go to the bathroom. I explainded that she had a cathater in, and should just "go". A while later, she woke me again. And after asking me, "Where'd you get that thing in your mouth?" (a cough I knew my girl was coming back!) she said she really had to go. I again explained she could just go with the cathater.

I was woken up before 7am by the endocronologist (the diabetes person) which would set our daily schedule for the rest of our stay. When we were alone, I explained to her all that had happened, and then I broke the news to my 7 yr old baby that she had a very serious, life-long disease. How do you tell a child that? How can she grasp such a huge concept? Luckily, God blessed me with the right words for her, and I believe, continues to do so today. We've also been blessed with a stubborn, independant, and intelligent daughter who is very perceptive.

With snowstorm on the way, Barry left about 10am to go back to Mondovi for clothes and Alana. Right after they got back, about 4pm, we were moved out of PICU and into the general pediatric floor. Monday night was marked by a visit by Zach, a huge black New Foundland. Luckily, Barry and Alana were granted a room at the Ronald McDonald house a couple of blocks away, which was a huge financial burden lifted from our shoulders. I again, slept on the couch in Erin's room...this one much worse.

On Tuesday, we began our diabetes education...first with the dietician (who was fairly impressed with our (or my) nutritional knowledge and habits) and then with Tom, our diabetes RN educator. At this point, Erin was known by the doctors and nurses as being "very quiet", which will bring a smile to those that know her well. During our training with Tom, she just stared blankly, and we didn't even think she was listening. That night, however, when she and I were alone once again (and staying up waiting for our 11pm labs) the questions started pouring out of her. What are the needles for? What is the tester and poker? Can she try to inject into the orange, too? This made me so happy...she was paying attention and showing her intelligence and independant tendancies.

By Wednesday night, the questions turned emotional. Would her friends laugh at her? What if people thought they could catch diabetes from her? It broke my heart to have my little girl have to shoulder such worries. At this time, her blood glucose was still in the 200-400's. Finally, on Thursday, she was back to her old self...talkative, hyper, running up and down the hall, playing Wii sports in the playroom. We were blessed to get the ok to go home. We stayed for dinner, just so we wouldn't have to deal with it on the road. We got home about 9pm Thursday night. Joy was felt by all...especially Cassie!

Erin hit her first "low" at the Thurs night 3am check, just as Tom had predicted. This brought happiness to us, as she wasn't sky high anymore, but also a new to deal with the very dangerous low. Friday was spent doing several loads of laundry, running to the pharmacy, creating Excel charts to record everything, stocking the kitchen with needed food...etc. Barry went to work Friday night, and we got a visit from our awesome friends Claire and Kari, who stayed for dinner.

Saturday we began our much anticipated and much dreaded "program weekend", which constituted of two back-to-back practices on Saturday am, the Friendship Church musical on Sat night, Sunday School and our church program Sunday am, and the 2nd Friendship program Sunday afternoon. My mom and dad came around lunch time with a bunch of groceries...what a blessing!...and lots of emotional support. Erin attended both practices on Sat am (with us there) but chose not to sing at the program Saturday night. I'll show pics at a later time, but it was an absolute fantastic show! The girls' choir director has a 19 yr old son with diabetes, so she was a huge support for me on this very stressful weekend.

As I had hoped (just so she could get back on the social horse) Erin participated in both programs on Sunday and did an excellent job. :)

Monday we vegged. No school. Took a nap (those 3am checks and up at 7am really add up after a trauma such as this!) Since then we've been adjusting to our new life. Erin has had bouts of anger. One of them was Saturday night following the Friendship Musical because she couldn't have a cookie like everyone else. The tantrum really wasn't about the was about the diabetes and how unfair it is. I encouraged her to get her anger out as this is a very normal part of it. So far, until the last couple of days, I've been really "up" emotionally. After nearly losing my baby, diabetes seemed like a very small price to pay to bring her home. And I'm fully aware of how much worse it could be. Erin has the potential to live a normal life...lots of kids don't. I pray every day that God will grant me the grace to accept this new life and his purpose for Erin. So far, it appears she holds no anger towards God, and understands that his will goes beyond our own understanding.

I can feel myself coming down off of the adrenaline high...the "mother mode" where you act on autopilot. I'm starting to let myself feel anger and self-pity....loss of a life we had. In one day, our world was turned upsidedown. We're really still trying to find our footing. Add to this equation the fact that it's Christmas, and it's a bit chaotic. I've given up on the idea of Christmas cards. Shopping was quicker and simpler than planned, due to the impending financial doom.

There will be obviously more to come on this subject. If you've stayed with me here this far, you're a trooper! I wanted to be sure I got this down, as this blog not only serves as my update to family and friends, but also as my family journal. So, you may often get more info than needed! :) Thanks to all of you for your prayers and thoughts. They are much-appreciated and needed.

God Bless you and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Really? Already? I am SO not prepared! But then, when you think about the situation Mary was put in so long ago, and I really have nothing to complain about, do I? Besides, as I emphasized to my Sunday School class a couple of days ago, the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus. So it really doesn't matter that I still need to start shopping, baking, decorating, etc...does it?

Well, we did survive Thanksgiving. Around these parts, Thanksgiving is slightly overshadowed by deer hunting. And most years, like this one, by hubby and son do not join the girls and I on our pilgrimage to my Grandma & Grandpa's house. This seems a little dumb to me, because they never shoot anything on Thanksgiving anyway...but that topic can wait for another day....

On Tuesday of last week, Erin had a much-anticipated Girl Scout meeting (the last meeting was canceled because of weather, and the meeting before that she missed because she was sick) and we went to my nieces' basketball games. Morgan won, Lexi didn't....but they both played extremely well.

Wednesday, the girls and I made a last minute stop at Target, and then drove up to G & G's. On the way, we listened to the audio book of "Bambi". Did you know that Disney totally mutilated that story? I had no idea!

Thanksgiving day we basically just hung out til our 5pm dinner. We got to see the Abrams family (We hadn't seen Avery or Easton since August!) and Great-Grampa (who was in a very funny and talkative mood). Dinner was usual..thanks, Mom!

We left there on Friday noonish. We had to get home to cook again for the Crowell family get-together on Friday night. That dinner (a variety of hors devours) was great also, as was the entertainment....karoke via Singstar on Playstation.

Saturday I was sick and I cleaned house and did laundry. The boys hunted. Nice, huh?

Sunday was church stuff in the morning, icky football, school prep and work. No, I did not have a good weekend. I just can't seem to shake this chest cough. And add to that my usual monthly "illness" and I'm just wiped out!

We're struggling to get back on track with school. It's so hard after a break! All is going well. Alana is having some trouble with the multiplication facts. But she has the process down, so it's just a matter of drilling and memorization.

We have big plans this Saturday to go see a play with Girl Scouts...A Little House Christmas. And they're begging to decorate and put up the tree this week. Hopefully......

Below is a few pics from Turkey Day. I didn't take enough....go figure!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Snow and field trip....

I sure feel like we've been busy...but I'm not sure we really have! :)
Last week it "snowed" for the first time. And by "snowed", I mean it didn't actually melt before it hit the ground. :) Erin was thrilled anyway. That nutty kid has been waiting months for snow...just for something different to do! So, she ran outside and throwing snowballs at Alana & I at the window. :)

Unfortunately, the icy weather caused Erin's girl scout meeting to be canceled,
and she was NOT happy about that!

One of these days, I'm gonna figure out how to load and manipulate these
pictures for now, everything is backwards!

On Friday, we went on our November field Wabasha MN to visit the Eagle Center and to Alma to see the Tundra Swans in migration. We made the trip last year to see the swans (Alana had missed her class field trip because she was sick) so the kids weren't as thrilled about that. But we did enjoy the Eagle was very informative, but not boring.
We, of course, stopped in Nelson for ice cream and cheese on our way from Wabasha to Alma. And then after visiting the swans, Barry brought us up to Buena Vista Park in Alma. The views were spactacular, even on a yucky day like we had. We decided we'd be back again on a better day...maybe seeing the views during each season....

On the way home, Daddy took the "long scenic route" in order to look for dear. (Around these parts, driving around the bluffs and valleys looking for dear is a favorite pastime!) Amazingly, the best thing we saw was an eagle in a field with prey. As we came upon it, the eagle tried to take off with it's dinner, but it appeared to be too heavy. So, the eagle landed again and ate it's meal right there in the field. Very cool after having just had a lesson on eagles!
The rest of our weekend was non-eventful. Saturday was a "day off" for me...I scrapped a bit instead of cleaning, although my house did suffer. We also installed our new stove. We've been saving up for a new stove and dishwasher, but decided to just do it when Dave & Pam had a "fire sale" to get rid off all the leftover inventory following the store fire. Dave will come sometime this week to help intall the dishwasher.
And yesterday was Sunday School and church, the girls had choir practice at Friendship Church, I did a tad more scrapping, some work, and got ready for another week of school. Wow! Weekends sure go fast! Hope your's was great!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Give Up!

Some days were just not meant to be successful homeschool days, and I think today qualifies. I had good intentions. I was actually "ready" for the week to begin. I organize by weeks and do it 4-5 weeks at a time. So, if I'm organized, I spend one weekend a month grouping/printing worksheets and putting together rough weekly lesson plans for those upcoming weeks. Well, this past weekend was my organizing weekend. Fun times. And then I decided it was probably time to do something with the 6+ inches of accumulated paper...2 months worth of worksheets, tests and narration pages that needed to be filed away. So, it was not a fun weekend for me...and still Monday was a failure.

So, anyway, the problem today was Alana's inability to focus. It was just really SLOW going today. Our schedule just got messed up and we ran out of time. Finally, at 2:00, I decided I should just give them a break and take Cassie for her daily walk...the fresh air would do us all good. After that, we had to go to the library. Alana, who for the past couple of weeks, remember, has been on a goat kick, now "needed" to check out books on insects. I showed her where they were and then left them for about 5 minutes to look for my own books. By the time I got back, she was quoting back reproductive facts on ladybugs and aphids. :) And as soon as we got home, they headed out to the garden to set traps for other bugs. So, it turns out, that even on a "homeschool failure day", my kids still manage to learn something...all by themselves even! So, that's why I'm blogging!!!

Barry has been in the woods basically since Friday morning (when he got a doe...meat and another earned buck tag). It's rut time, so the "bucks are runnin'" and my hubby is in his element! He took time out for church on Sunday, early service even, cuz the girls were singing in the junior choir. Then he was back out. He has today off, too, so only came in for a quick lunch.

The girls have been at Friendship Church for the last two Sundays practicing for the Extreme Christmas perfermance. Last year was the first one, and the girls sang in the childrens' choir. I think they sang two or three songs? This year they are doing 5 songs and are even wearing costumes for a couple of them! And, they're doing 2 performances this year instead of just one. Wow! Can't wait!

I didn't get to scrapping this's been a VERY long time. I need to make some time for myself soon. But I do get reading time. I make time for Bible and devotions every morning, my Christian historical fiction at night, and then hopefully bits and pieces of other stuff in the afternoon. I sure love books. In fact, I'm very greatful to have our library or we'd be deeply in debt! I currently have 93 books checked out! Amazing! I usually average between 40 and 60. Some are for school, some are for me, and lots are for the girls. They don't necessarily read them all, but I like having them around as keep them tempted!

Ok, back to my real life. There are some Brownie patches need to be put on Erin's new Brownie vest. And dinner probably won't make itself! Sorry for the babble!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Post-Election Day!

No, I'm not happy. Today's weather pretty much sums it up...rainy and blustery. :)

Alana was crestfallen when I told her this morning that the country had elected Obama. I quickly assured her that we would not be out on the street or living with Grandma and Grampa (although, secretly, I have my fears about what the all-Democratic government will do to our economy) and told her that there is one good thing about this election. We have elected the first black president. I know my girls won't be able to comprehend why that is such a big deal, but hopefully in the coming months I can make it more clear to them. Her reply was that she didn't vote against Obama because he was black. :) And that it would be nice to have a first woman president. I agreed. I told her that as much as I'd like to see a minority or a woman in the White House, I won't vote for them based solely on that, but many do.

I'm disappointed. And scared. I'm worried about what these liberal politicians will do with our economy. I'm worried about how the judges they appoint will rule our country. (Liberals are not big on homeschooling. They feel that government is better able to teach our children...and has every right....and will teach them what they deem fit. As a homeschooler, that makes me want to throw up. Literally.) But, despite my fears, I will respect our new president, because as a country, that's what we should do....a lesson so many "Bush-haters" should have learned many years ago. Question him? Challenge him? I will, but with respect.

All in all. I believe God was in control of this election. Does that mean I feel Obama is the "chosen one"? By all means, NO! But I believe God will work to make good out of all things bad. I must trust in HIM, not whatever president is in the Oval Office. End of speech....

I've been sick since Friday and I'm pretty much sick of it. The last 3 days I've been suffering thru a nice head cold...which today is heading straight for my lungs....hello bronchitus! The last 2 days, I've laid down to rest at lunch time, only to wake up with a migraine. Needless to say, I haven't been much of a mother, wife or teacher this week. Ugh. Talk about being behind!!!! I look on this as God's method of humbling one who "thinks she can do it all". So, your prayers of healing are welcome. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Can you believe it's November already? Yikes!

Well, yesterday I was sick. I had a sore throat and headache all day. After I had lunch, I thought I might "lose it", so I decided to try to take a little nap to try to gear up for trick or treating. Well, it was a pathetic nap, but I surrived getting the girls ready to go. Thankfully, being Friday, Barry was off work and able to join us. And, luckily, after about 15 minutes of fresh air, I felt immensely better!

Alana was a girl pirate. I put makeup on that terrifying or what? She looked so old. Note to self: makeup only on Halloween til she's 25. :)

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a headful of......snot. Yuck. Luckily, the girls visited with their cousins at the Bloom's for a couple of hours today, and Barry and I were able to pick up a bit. Other than that, not much productivity coming out of me today. I came downstairs to scrap a bit, but here I am blogging....

A Fall Favorite...

for the girls is visiting Schultz's Barn in Eleva. It really is a cool place for such small town. They have an old converted barn that now houses a nice gift shop. Outside they feature pumpkins, a corn maze and a little petting zoo. We went on Thursday afternoon, and, being the day before Halloween, we didn't need pumpkins, so we just visited the animals. This year the goats were the favorite.

Alana said, "Mom, can we please run home, sell our house, buy a house in the country, and then come back here and buy a goat?" (Like we haven't been trying to find a suitable/affordable house in the country for months???) Oh, if life were just so simple! But then she immediately wanted to go to the library when we got home to get a book about goats. Now, she's not talking about a childrens book...she wants the books geared toward adults who have hobby farms. And she's reading I won't complain. :)

Doesn't this truck just look cool? I'm gonna have to play with this photo....

And I just loved this dude's waddle!!! (Of course I'm looks a little like my own!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Political Rantings

Ok, I've been given courage by my good friend Jenn. Like her, I worry about offending people with my political views. But it's my blog. Isn't that the point?

Basically, I'm scared. I'm scared that this election is in the hands of way too many uninformed voters...people who form their political views from "info" taken from The View, Saturday Night Live, Letterman, or their union my view, very biased and, often, incorrect sources. I'd like to consider myself very informed. I am a Fox News junkie. And for those of you who have heard that Fox is in the tank for the Republicans...very Right're wrong. They are very balanced...often presenting more liberal viewpoint than conservative. They question everyone equally.

I consider myself to be an Independent, but I am a Conservative. I believe in traditional values and small government. I am not in love with McCain. But, as opposed to those "Bush Haters" who are voting against McCain, I find myself voting against Obama. Here are my reasons....

He supports late-term and live-birth abortions. I am pro-life....but I also see the cause for concern in banning abortions altogether. But none of the valid points for abortion (rape, incest, etc) apply to late-term and live-birth abortions. None. To me, it's murder.

He supports sex ed in young children. We can debate all day at what age he feels it's acceptable, but to me, that's the job of parents, not government.

The economy. First of all, the blame for this crisis does NOT lay solely at the feet of Bush. The Democratic Congress pushed for loosening restrictions on loans, so that they could put low-income and minorities into homes. That's great....except that if you can't afford a can't afford a home. And then our greedy society crazy....everyone bought bigger and better. Whether they could afford it or not. Zero problem. Adjustable mortgage rate after 5 years that you could never dream of problem. Of course the housing bubble was gonna burst! Duh. That's what bubbles do. Anyway, so now we're paying for our greed. The greed of us, the consumers, and the greed of the financial institutions that let it happen.

Obama says lets blame the rich and tax the heck out of them...they can afford it! Spread the wealth! Sounds great, as we don't come close to his $250k cutoff (of course, it also sounds a bit like socialism). But nearly every expert I've heard on the topic says raising taxes in this economy will kill us. Small business won't be able to expand or hire new employees. And big business? How does every business cover increased costs? They raise prices! So, essentially, the taxes that Obama levies on business, really get paid by us, the ones paying for products and services.

I have more thoughts, really. I haven't even touched the fact that I don't trust him or his friends. But, I've got too much to do to rant anymore. If you don't agree with me, please don't vent out on me. But if I've raised any questions in your mind, please, please, your own research (with reliable sources) so that you can vote informed.

And thanks, Jenn, for the courage to speak my heart. :)

One of those weeks

When I just feel like I'm not accomplishing much. Ugh.

So Monday night, we had a bit of drama around here. Barry took the day off to hunt in the afternoon. When he drove back into town, he saw county squad cars blocking off traffic. Right after he got home, he decided to run downtown for some gas and milk. He called me to say that traffic was blocked off because the furniture store downtown (owned by our cousins) was on fire. He said it was like something you'd see on tv....flames shooting out of the roof.

He came home. We made a couple of phone calls (not knowing how long it had been burning, we wanted to make sure Dave & Pam even knew). Then he took off to see if they' need any help moving inventory out of the building. By the time he got there, they had gotten most of the stuff out of the store, and moved into a vacant building further down the block. He did help remove stuff from the bar next door, though. He called to tell me he was freezing because he forgot to grab his jacket. By now it was going on 8pm. I bundled up the girls and headed downtown to bring him his jacket.

Wow. That's all I can say. It really was surreal, like watching it on tv. It was actually the same feeling I had on 9-11...just thinking that this actually couldn't be happening. Well, long story short, I left with the girls after only 15 minutes, tops. They were a little upset and I felt like "mother of the year" for even having them there! The fire was a bit scary for them, but I think they were even more bothered by the fact that we know the people affected...this was personal. AND they were worried about our beloved library (two buildings behind).

I couldn't believe how smoke-stinky we all were after being there for such a short time! All of the hard work of the firefighters worked miracles....only one building was destroyed....neighboring buildings were saved. Luckily, Dave and Pam are insured, and he can continue to do his service calls until something is figured out.

Alana & I both suffered sore throats the next day (we're both pretty smoke sensitive) but weren't sure if it was from the fire or if we were getting sick. Erin woke up Monday night with a fever of 102...and was up and down til Wednesday morning. The worst part for her was that she missed her Girl Scout meeting. Poor kid.

This afternoon, I might take the girls to the pumpkin patch in Eleva. We haven't been to a "real" one yet this year...and I did promise them. And Halloween is

Monday, October 27, 2008

Life is busy

That's really no excuse. In fact, I don't really have time now (the girls will be screaming for dinner any second) but I knew if I didn't just take the time to do this, who knows when I'd "find time".

Ok, so we're back to last week. Anthony came for a visit last weekend (the 18-19th) for his birthday weekend. We had homemade pizza (his request), broccoli (his request also...seriously), and yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And if you look closely at the cake below, you'll find 20 candles. Yep, 20. That's two whole decades, people! If that's not enough to make a person feel old, I don't know what is!

But we enjoyed the little time we had with him. I even thought ahead this year and snapped some Christmas card pictures...just in case we're not all together again before that time. They're not perfect or anything, but they're my kids! And even though you can't see it in this pic, we've got the teams nearly all covered....Twins and Gophers on Tony (yes, we'd prefer the Badgers, what what can ya do?), Packers on Erin, and Mondovi Buffs on Alana. :)

It's definately fall. All of my flowers are nearly dead. The garden needs a major cleaning. The heat is on (after we called a furnace repair guy last week!), and one of the trees in the front yard finally decided to get pretty! (the other tree is still's a little slow!) And today, after I hung my sheets out on the clothesline, it started to snow! Just flurries, but still. I happened to be on the phone with my mom. She said my great-grandma Louise used to hang clothes in the winter, and they would freeze-dry. So far, so good!

On Friday, I had to take the girls on a shopping trip. They needed shoes, winter coats, and pants. Wow! I'm so used to shopping at Savers, I hadn't realized how expensive new clothes are! That trip put a dent in the checkbook! But everyone is happy.
We were all pretty tired, and had to get home for a Halloween party, but the girls wouldn't leave EC until we stopped at the GOP headquarters to pick up a McCain/Palin sign. Seriously, the girls made me. :)
As overheard the other night (the girls were in the shower)....
A: You see, Erin, they're both gonna raise taxes, cuz of the bad economy. Obama is gonna raise them like a trillion million dollars. But McCain is only gonna raise them like by $100. See the difference, Erin?
I can't remember the rest of the conversation. I was in shock that my 7 and 9 year-olds were discussing politics and the economy in the shower. :)
(And for those of you who are pro-Obama, please don't hammer me with polical arguments...I'm not picking a fight, really. I'm just documenting for posterity.) :)

Here's the girls modeling their new (but 55% off) winter coats!

And Friday night was spent at Erin's Girl Scout family Halloween party. Erin is a queen (it began as wanting to be a drama queen...for which she needs no costume) and Alana is a girl-pirate. They had fun, but we were all super tired!

Ok, I'm caught up! For at least a day......
But now my dryer is beeping, I still have blankets on the line, and my kids are "staaaaarrrrvvvviiinnngggggg"!
If you made it this far, thanks for hanging with me!
Until next time.......

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Homeschool Changes

No, we're not quitting. I'm still just struggling to find our groove. Which, for the first year is absolutely the norm. In fact, or "school" is supposed to change and grow with us as a family, so I guess the learning curve never really goes away.

So, my dear hubby thinks I need to give the girls a break...I'm too tough. This, coming from the man, who although willing to let me try this "homeschooling thing", I don't think really thought I could do it. He thought that either the kids wouldn't listen to me, and/or I'd slack off. Fortunately, neither has happened. The problem is, I try so hard not to fail, that I inadvertantly keep myself from achieving what I wanted. I'm too competitive. I will not fail. And it sure would be nice to kick the public school's butt. :) But there is my pride getting in the way. It's time to re-evaluate our goals.

We want to strengthen our family bonds. We want the girls to look to us, not to their peers. I want them to love God and have a strong, healthy, active relationship with Him. We want them to love learning...and to learn how to learn on their own. This world is full of information...I want them to learn how to find it, and to actually have the will and desire to do so. I want them to be educated, to be able to read and write, be competent in math and science, and to be aware of the people and environment around them. I want them to grow up and be able to do whatever they want to do. That means they should be able to go to college, if they so choose.

It just seems that we spend so much time pounding info and practice into them, that we miss those natural and enjoyable teaching experiences that come along daily. I want to spend more time reading outloud to them, discovering nature, talking..... It's time to back off and let God guide me in this, instead of my pride.

Wish me luck!!! :)

Mummies & Pyramids & Pharohs, Oh My!

We're just coming out of our section on Ancient Egypt in history. This year, we're following a Classical model of homeschooling, which believes in telling history as a story....starting at the beginning and following it in order. This, to me, makes much more sense than jumping around. Anyway.....

This is our hands-on project, a sugar cube pyramid. We learned all about the Nile and how the Egyptians created the first farms and agricultural practices that are still used today. We learned about hyroglyphics...the first form of writing. We studied pyramids and mummies. Did you know that the Egyptians preserved almost every organ except the brain? They had no idea what it did and therefore, it was not considered important. So much for the first great civilization! :)

After this, we transitioned into stories from the Bible (Abraham and Joseph). I think that's so my kids know where these "stories" fit into history...they can actually see the setting for them. Cool.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Field Trip Recap

We were extremely blessed in the weather department for our trip to Pepin on Friday, although the clouds had us a bit psyched out in the morning. It was also fairly windy, which I happen to like on a perfect fall day! :)

Our trip began in Durand to pick up subs for a picnic lunch (if you know my hubby and kids, you'll know that every trip begins with food!) Then it was off to Pepin where we stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (pretty cool....we'll definitely be back when we're studying that time period in school), the Train Museum (not so interesting...don't bother) where the kids enjoyed a quick stop at the nearby playground, and then it was off to the birthsite of Laura, complete with a replica cabin (way cool). Here, we finally had lunch. I'm still wondering what it would be like to live in a home like that...after getting rid of 99% of the stuff we own. What a different, much simpler life that would be.....

Barry was in the mood to roadtrip the "Great River Highway," so onward we went. First, we stopped in Stockholm which is an adorable little town. Very artsy-fartsy. :) We stopped at a park/campground on the river where the kids were able to collect shells. Then we visited a pottery shop (for Alana....unfortunately, no working artisans there), and then we stopped for ice cream. Next, and last, was Maiden Rock, where we again stopped to check out the river.

Did I mention we stopped at every historical marker we passed? We took a picture and read them to the kids. Most were boring for them. But the Maiden Rock story of a young Sioux girl jumped to her death over love....that may bear further research. This was very impressive of my hubby, who is always in a hurry...his patience this day was almost freaky. :)

Then back down the highway to Pepin. We again visited the river and gathered more shells. Alana was thrilled to find clean fish skeletons! She brought some bones home and talked of starting a "bone club" in the garage. I guess this is what they call "unschooling", where the kids direct their own learning. Maybe we can later research the diseases she gets from touching all that stuff... And finally, we stopped at a roadside pumpkin patch to fullfill Erin's wishes.

Then it was home after an exhausting, but very happy day to our very distressed dog. :) Erin's favorite part? She said the pumpkins. Oh, and going on a field trip with her family instead of loud and obnoxious kids. (Point for homeschooling!) Alana's favorite part? The bones, shells, and ice cream. And me? The time with my family, the gorgeous scenery, and the chance to be on the water. I miss it. I got the same feeling as I do when we visit Duluth....the wind, sea gulls, water...I love it! Now that I know what's there...we'll be back!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Almost Friday...

I love Fridays. Especially now that it has become my "day off" since I reduced my work hours in order to retain a tiny bit of my sanity. :) Barry has Fridays off, too (he works four tens) and so often we're able to do family stuff. Last week it was a shopping trip to EC, for groceries and stuff. But tomorrow we're going on a field trip. I'm so excited cuz it's right up my alley! We're going to Pepin. We'll visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum (she was my hero as a girl), Lake Pepin, and whatever else catches our fancy on the way. Alana visited there on the first grade field trip, and since Erin isn't in school, and I want to go to, we're going. As an added bonus, it's the perfect time of year, with the leaves changing. Yep, I'm excited!

This past weekend, my parents came for a visit. We love seeing them, and wish we lived closer. Maybe some day. They went with us to see the house we've been eying up. Unfortunately, the realtor we'd list with, gave us a lower estimate on our list price than we were hoping for. AND felt that the house in the country was listed about right. So the financial gap between the two was much bigger than we had hoped. So now Barry has emotionally back out of the prospect. I totally back him up. It's his job to provide for his family, which is hard enough as it is in this economy without increasing our mortage payment. I still really want to move to the country. I think the girls would love it...and I would, too. We'll see....

School has been going fairly well. We're still plugging along at Alana's mastery of her muliplication facts. But she's making progress. She is able to correctly match over 80 Latin words to their English equivilent. She doesn't see the point...but I can see a much easier time at ACT tests in her future! And she loves to read...especially mystery/adventures. Erin is reading very well, but hasn't yet caught on to the desire to read for fun. Hopefully that will come. She's still breezing through math...a 2nd grade curriculum (she's in 1st grade) and is doing very well keeping up with the history and science stuff. Even on my worst days, I'm still gratefull to be home with my kids. I love it!

Well, I'm hoping to scrapbook a bit this weekend. We cleaned all of last weekend, so I think I've earned it! :) Barry will be in the woods or fishing, so it will just be us girls, I think, most of the time. I may have to cuddle up with a book, too. I've done it again...checked out too many books at one time! And then I've gone and started reading each of them! I'm working on a couple of homeschooling books and a couple of writing books (toying with the idea of writing...something...somewhere....)

Have a great weekend! :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Been Awhile...

For those of you who have been worried about my "post-Colin" depression...I'm ok. Looking back, the stress and emotional agony of his sickness, pending death, and struggling with how to handle it was way worse than the actual "after". I still miss him, but knowing he's much happier and in a better place is a huge comfort. As is having the "boys" filling the physical hole left by Colin. They are everywhere! Although, I do sometimes get my feelings hurt a bit when they'd rather wrestle with each other than cuddle with me, like old man Colin used to. But I suppose they'll slow down. Eventually.

However, I have been feeling a sort of depression for at least the last month. Maybe not depression...more like a feeling of being under water. I haven't had energy. I feel like I'm constantly behind and not getting enough done. It may still be leftovers from the stress with Colin. But I intend to start focusing more on making every day count.

I had a bit of a revelation last night. I've been reading "Creating a Life Worth Living". It's mostly geared toward "artists". And while they were talking about finding a day job that allows you to create, I realized that my "day job" would always be more important to me than my art. I am a wife and a homeschooling mom. That just plain trumps everything else. I realized that even without my creative hobbies, I could live a very creative LIFE. Teaching takes creativity....and between homeschooling and Sunday School, I have ample opportunity to be creative! I've been feeling the urge to put more time and creativity into my cooking...I've been a major slacker in that department for months! And if we actually follow through on moving to a new house (info to follow), redecorating that 70's dream would take a ton of creativity. See, so I really don't NEED to DO anything more with my art. I don't need to market myself, start a business....I can be an artist in the place I am now. Someday my kids will be gone, and then I, too, can move on....

Ok. The house. I'm not giving's way too soon. But this weeked we visited an open house on a house we saw earlier this spring. It's on 5 acres, fenced for horses (not sure if that's a good thing or not?) It would need a lot of work...I'm sure it was a rockstar when it was built in 1970. :) So, price is an issue. As well as the dread of selling this house, moving, etc. But I feel called to the quiet and privacy of the country. We'll see...

Here's a couple of layouts from 2 Saturdays ago. Barry took the girls fishing, so I got some "me" time. Bless that man for knowing when a woman needs some time alone!

And look who joined me on my scrapping table!

These two boys do everything together. Play, sleep, eat.....

I love this picture! Yes, I take more pictures of Zach than TJ. No, I'm not playing favorites. But after 11 years of having an unphotogenic black cat, gray is a welcome change....

No, he's not stretching. He was actually sleeping in this position....

I've developed a couple of nicknames for the boys. Zach is "Fuzz Ball" because, well, he is one. And TJ I call "Junior", as in "Colin Junior". Black cat, white spot......

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Overheard at my house Sunday night....

(Note: Alana has been on a rampage for a couple days about selling our house and buying a farm so we can have horses. So, that is where this came from.)

Alana: Ok, first of all, Erin's room, Mommy's room, and my room...all beige. And downstairs, the green and the wallpaper....gotta go. They're horrible. And Mommy, you need to move all of your scrapbooking stuff out of the office and out to the craft room (our garage addition room that was supposed to serve as my crafting room). That way Tony's room will be office/guest room.

Erin: I hate slashes.

Mommy: (laughs) What do you mean you hate slashes.

Erin: Office. Guest room. They should have their own room. No slashes. :)


Alana: Daddy, you just want a house on a lake.

Daddy: Yep.

Erin: I don't like houses on lakes. They have bad toilets.

Mommy: (totally cracking up now) What do you mean they have bad toilets?

Erin: You know. Spiders and webs and stuff.

Mommy: Oh! You mean outhouses! Erin, outhouses and lakehomes are different. :)

(Daddy had taken the girls fishing to Lake Eau Gallie on Saturday, and both of them refused to go in the outhouse there. :)

Can you tell my girls watch a lot of HGTV? Really, they actually know what their doing most of the time! :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

10 Years Ago Today

I married my best friend. And I'm thankful everyday that I still am...

I'm the first to admit, there are times (and days) that I could just ring his neck! It's those little things he does....and I'm sure you all know what I mean. But when I think about life without him, I realize that it would be those little things that I'd miss the most. I can't imagine my life without him. He's my greatest supporter...he believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. And he's a wonderful father. Always making time for the kids....playing ball in the yard, going for bike rides, taking them to the park. He's the best.
We need a new's been a while! That's what happens when I continutally hide behind the camera!

Yesterday I turned 35. I'm not depressed or anything...afterall, I'll always be much younger than my hubby! :) But it did get me to thinking....I'm like half way through my life. That's kinda sobering. Have I done what I set out to do? Am I doing all I can to live the way I be the woman that my Lord created me to be?

I feel as though I've accomplished what's most important. I've created a marriage that brings me joy, security, and partnership. And from that marriage, we've been blessed with wonderful and beautiful children. So, yes. I've really accomplished all that is important.

I admit, changes are needed in my life. My weight is out of control, and brings me sadness much of the time. I certainly would like to simplify the physical aspect of my life...less clutter and stuff. More time for God is needed. And I always feel that I need to improve my parenting and teaching.

But at 35, I'm happy. Confident with my life and who I am. Still learning what needs to be improved...and what needs to be accepted. But happy. :)