Stick Figure Family

Stick Figure Family at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He's at it again

Got back from the doctor's office. Had some testing done. Big 18-year-old was supposed to have dinner all ready for us. When we arrived home, Younger Brother showed us the Spongebob popsicle he'd gotten from the ice cream man. Sorry... It'd have to wait - dinner was ready for us!

We sat down to eat the planned "Potato Bar." But, we were treated to raw potatoes... with the long, spindly roots sprouting out to the sides. Sigh. He microwaved them for a few minutes, however, and he DID wash them, I'll give him that. He claims that these potatoes were red and so he didn't know how to cook them.

Each time he cooks potatoes there's something new that he doesn't do. One time he didn't wash them and served them up a la dirt clods. Once he took them out of the microwave 30 minutes early - something we didn't discover this until guests were arriving. You see, he didn't want them to burn.

He's pulled this several times. Guess I'll have to make a cook book specifically for him. Yes! Titles will include: How to clean off the burner (and its surroundings) before setting it on high. How to boil water. How to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to said water... He'll be the wisest guy out there! He'll be able to cook any colored potato in any microwave known in the United States!!! (Think he'd know you could cook them in the oven?)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Let's Go Ride a Horse!

Last week our boy got to visit the riding club with Partners and Pals and ride himself a pretty spotted appaloosa horse named "Dakota"

Look in the background - he's being courted by some lovely princesses!

He got to go around the ring three times! What fun!

K earned his Cowboy Hat! Then we got interviewed by the TV newsperson... our five (er...2) minutes of fame!

But, K's favorite thing to do that day:

He's a true hero.... as we all found out that day! (Apparently, K is by his friend's side at all times! He wheels him around every day and gets him to laugh!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Suspended for Two Weeks

Did you know that McDonald's suspends employees as a disciplinary measure? We just found out ourselves. Biggest boy had taken trash out the Front door (instead of back door) - oops. Yelled over the counter at a long-lost buddy - double oops. Two-week time out for him. Some day he'll get life - and work - all figured out. Until then... got any jobs that need completing? He's got some spare time on his hands.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Mom can't get away...

I've taken a medical leave of absence from work for a year or so. I didn't finish out the school year - I 'quit' 3 weeks early. I just haven't gotten over the chemo/radiation treatments. And I keep getting these cellulitis infections. So, since I'm all ready to relax, here's what I've been up to (with help from Max):

Cleaning out and rebuilding the pantry shelves.
Repairing our damaged dining and folding tables
Planting a garden
Getting the house ready for a graduation party for our middle boy
Getting invites out, taking care of graduation stuff for above-mentioned son
Finishing up my History 400 class for BYU
Reading a half-dozen books in my spare time...

Okay, since that's kept me busy, I mean "relaxed," biggest son has been acting out (up?) His belongings are sitting out on the porch right now. He volunteered for and may be shipped off for training to go to Iraq next week.....

Eldest is coming home for a week. I want to see her, but our 16-year-old is leaving that week and I wanted to be gone, too. I wanted to do genealogy in Utah. So, I've checked out our summer calendar. There aren't too many open days left. The Graduate is going to have eye surgery in Seattle in July. Hubby and babykins will be at Scout Camp last week in June... maybe I can sneak off then. Maybe.... Shhhh, don't tell anyone...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday is a Special Day...

March of Dimes Walk: Team Kamiakin - that's me in back in the white shirt
Our walking buddies

J & T just starting out. We walked the whole 6 miles!
I got up early today - couldn't sleep. Heather's cat had been missing all night. I'd gotten up every so often to go outside and call. No luck. I quickly made some signs on the computer - REWARD Lost Siamese cat..... - on my way out the door to tack them up all over the neighborhood, in walked kitty herself! Whew!

Next J and T went with me to Columbia park to walk in the March of Dimes 6 mile Walk. I hadn't intended to go the entire distance. But, we did it! It was so much fun that I want to walk/run some more :)

Next, we went to Richland so that I could do some genealogy research. I finished looking through the microfilms earlier than I thought, and J & T were thrilled to not have to wait around for me. We got home and they both got pretty for their prom dates. It's Mormon Prom tonight.

And I'm all alone! Woo hoo!!!!!!! Those two are gone, hubby and K are at a scout camporee (and haven't returned just yet) and S is gone with friends. It's just me me and me..... what fun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Bunch of Sickos

So, Stephen has this broken collar bone. It's had two weeks to mend and last night he stood up too fast and blacked-out. Hit his shoulder again..... And Dad cracked his rib last Saturday. And Jacob's burst ear drum is leaking again (it quit for a week), and I'm running on fumes (Chemo has left me a bit exhausted.) What's a family to do?

At least the warm weather has come. It makes life just a little bit easier!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

No one's mom...

Who was it that said if we have prayers morning and night and do family home evening each and EVERY week our families would turn out all right? I don't know whether to believe it anymore. We read the scriptures daily and go to church each Sunday and Wednesday and whenever else we're needed. And as parents we go to the temple regularly..... And pray for these kidlets of ours...

So yesterday, Big Boy who is in the National Guard and FINALLY got a job 4 days ago - a good one, mind you - at Home Depot was showing off for his little high school-age friends and rolled another friend's four-wheeler.... and broke his collar bone. He's doing okay. Pretty sore. But I'm going to whine anyway:

There goes his great job (and being able to pay us back for school, car towing, lost car keys at $200 each....) there goes the quiet evenings... there goes his 3-week National Guard training in June... Hello Mom and Dad. Hello Chaos. "It's none of your business what I was doing." "I hurt." "I can't sleep." "I need some more blankets..." "I'm hungry."

I left him at the emergency room after I gave them all the insurance information, etc. He had four friends with him. He didn't "need me anymore." Okay. So I went home and worked on my homework.

I wonder what kind of person he and our others would be if he'd been raised in a different home. Yes, we chose this lot, but there are times when they're hollering, "You're not my real parents." "I hate you." "You only adopted us so you'd have someone to do all the work for you." "Call the police!" and pulling stunts like this latest one when I want to run and hide on some quiet, lonely beach (with tidepools) and pretend that I'm no one's mom.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ball, string, bead...

We have a son who is doing vision therapy. Every day. And he needs my help to accomplish this..... First of all, we swing a ball over his face (he's lying down for this.) Around and around, back and forth, front and back, cross-ways..... training his eyes to work together and track the bead that's attached to the ball. We follow this with having him track a styrofoam ball on a stick as I slowly do figure eights. Then there's some beads on a string. He has to stare at one bead and try to focus. It's quite involved and there are several other exercises involving red/green glasses. It's pretty difficult for him, even though we've been at it for over two months. After about 20 minutes, his eyes water with the effort and we have to give up for the day.

We did this about 8 years ago, too. I assumed that when he was finished back then, it was over with for good. But, apparently he needs a tune up. We first noticed this recent problem when he started driver's ed. After almost a year of practice, he wasn't being very successful. He followed cars too closely, couldn't decide when to turn left in traffic, etc. Finally, I remembered that he had told me something about his doing eye therapy if he wanted. I hadn't gone to that appointment due to chemo treatments. What I missed out on was that he was SUPPOSED to do the eye therapy. He clearly has no depth perception. Aha! So after I discussed this with one of the assistants at Pasco Vision Clinic, I finally understood what was going on.

We made an appointment and got the supplies to do the therapy at home. I told him that he needed to take the initiative and do the practicing on his own or fork over the $150 for the supplies plus the doctor's visit. Well, turns out he needs me to help, so I do. And after the first month, his eyes had improved some... but the doctor says it will be at least until June before the tune up is complete. I guess we love those we serve, so I'm really loving this guy! He's also doing Accutane - with the monthly doctor's visit for that... and will have his braces and orthodontist appointments until summer.

Up until a couple weeks ago, I was letting him drive anyway with my supervision, but after almost sideswiping a semi, I've forbidden him to drive until he graduates from high school and gets a clean bill of health from the eye doc. This is going to take a lot of work, though. And, now we have to reassemble the ball on the string. You see, the bead had popped off. I handed it to him and asked him to please put it back on. With some twisted sense of logic, he took the ball off the string.... he said something about the bead was on the back of the ball, so he had to take the string off the ball to get it back on.... I may love this guy, but I had to ask him to leave my presence before I killed him!!! Aaaaaaagh!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do I look older? Grayer?

Our senior knocked about ten years off of my lifespan today. I insisted he drive to get some practice in. He's got a problem with depth perception and is doing vision therapy, but he did okay yesterday driving to Burbank..... He took a back road behind Safeways. There was a semi parked beside the curb. Surely he could see that! Surely he would pull around it. Surely?!

He skimmed along side of it and if I hadn't screamed and had him stop the car, we would have taken off our side view mirror! Good thing Kyle's arm wasn't hanging out the window - he'd be missing that limb if he had! Yet he insisted that he had seen the semi. Yeah, right. Seen it and almost drove right through it!

So, with me driving, we got to the bank okay. I'd spent all morning straightening out our papers and had to put them back in the safe deposit box. Then, on to Target....... Kyle wanted a toy. I let him and his brother look through the toy aisles while I did my shopping. I got back to them about 15-20 minutes later. Kyle still couldn't decide on a toy. I pleaded with him to find something quickly. I had low blood sugar. I ate a whole container of glucose tablets and he still couldn't make up his mind. After another five minutes, I asked brother to help Kyle out of the store.

That's when all hell broke loose. Kyle is 12. Granted, he's developmentally delayed. But, right there he had a rare meltdown. Screaming, flailing arms, hollering about the toy he was missing out on.... It rivaled ANYTHING a two-year-old could dish out! People came to see what the matter was. Brother finally manhandled him into the shopping cart so we could get out of there fast!

The check-out clerk asked if "we'd found everything alright?" "All but one of us did." She was a bit taken aback at Kyle's behavior. Everyone else was, too. Good thing I was in a fog with my low blood sugar - I just paid for the goods and left.

I ran out to the car and drove it up to the curb. Brother tossed him in the back seat - still screaming and fighting. Kyle disrobed and screamed all the way home. Forget about a seat belt, we were just glad to make it back without being pulled over by the police! Whew! (They say stress causes cancer. So, I may be back on chemo soon.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Deserted Island for Sale??

So, I haven't seen any deserted islands for sale in the paper. I'll have to research this some more..... I'm wanting to withdraw from the circus going on at my house!

Our oldest has gone off to live on her own - okay. We'll survive somehow without her help with Youngest who adores her to pieces. He now relies on me - of course, that's what moms are for - to entertain himself, discuss the finer points of the Star Wars and Transformer web sites he checks out, to help him "get going," and to clip his finger nails..... Yes, we miss you Oldest!

The other three have been taking turns getting tickets, experiencing soap opera dramatics and getting caught lying or stealing. What's up? They're all over sixteen! Haven't we taught them ANYTHING?? I've wondered several times if we'd let them roam the streets, skip school, experience no consequences for their actions if they would be behaving any differently than they are now.

Their consequences, of course, include me. I get to come up with all kinds of "chores" for them to pay off their fines. I get to oversee those chores. Coerce them to complete them. Listen to their rantings. Aaaaagh!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

He earned it!

Biggest Boy squished his new car a week and a half after bringing it home. So sad. There went his entire boot camp bonus. He got a job at Target during the holidays and tried to earn enough to have it fixed. But, that only paid for his insurance premiums and his cell phone. Months went by and he just couldn't afford to fix it up. He was so frustrated.

Years ago, I'd listened to a great speaker tell how to motivate a child. You simply make it worth his while. Hmmm..... The wheels upstairs started turning... we'd have him earn the parts to his car. And, what would make it "worth it" for us and still valuable to him? Completing his college classes.

Ahhhh. Go to school every day (church on Sunday) and earn points. Clean up after yourself and earn points. Do your chores completely without being reminded and earn points.....

And, with a few prompts, he began to earn points. Missed a few here and there, but basically earned enough points in two weeks to get a tire for his car. Yea! We were both happy. (I didn't realize that tires cost $150, but oh, well. Now he's got wheels!)

His car was driveable! He was a free man. Happy as could be. Well. For less than 24 hours, when he was pulled over for speeding. Clocked at nine miles over the speed limit. Well, now, I'd say he earned it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miracles never cease!

This morning, just as the kids arrived to school, one of the Life Skills kids rocked back in the recliner and hit the fire alarm cover. That didn't set off the alarm, but when the teacher tried to put everything right, it did go off.... sending the entire school out on the field in freezing February weather!

That included us - we were in the cafeteria and hadn't yet fed our boys their breakfast. We heard on the security radio that the alarm was tripped by someone in our classroom, but we had to go out anyway. We carried the boys' gear out and fed them along the way. Bob was howling and unsteady on his feet from his medications; Stevie was cooperative for a change.

We met up with the teacher and a substitute shepherding the kids to their assigned area. Actually, two of our aides were out today and another one wasn't scheduled to arrive until second hour. Thankfully, Mikey hadn't arrived yet and Smiley didn't make it in at all. Getting his wheelchair out on the field might have made things awfully difficult for the teacher with the other eight kids in tow.

Mikey is autistic. Sounds - ordinary noises like the dishwasher, microwave beeps, ringing phones or static on the intercom - throw him for a loop. He bangs his head and screams because it hurts his sensitive ears. So, imagine what an unexpected fire alarm would do to him. We were justifiably worried when his care provider pulled up in the drop-off area. Luckily they waited in the car until it was over.

We returned to class to find two firemen and a security guard inside the room resetting the alarm. In order to do that, they made all kinds of racket including setting off the alarm again. And Mikey? He was calmly scanning the Sunday ads I had brought - apparently a favorite distraction for him... Miracles never cease! (Was it a coincidence that I had thought to pray for him that morning? "Please bless Mikey to be calm and help Bob and Stevie to have a good day." You just never know what to expect when you work in Life Skills. But, God knows and cares for his children - each and every one!)

In the meantime, I'm going to have words with those other aides... sick days shouldn't be allowed if the fire alarm is going to be tripped.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Oh, my aching ....cholesterol?"

Had a chuckle today. Our teenage son just started taking Accutane. We're hoping that it will help his acne. The treatment lasts six months. If..... you agree to sign your life away!

We did. He and I signed our initials every couple of lines agreeing that we had been told about the side effects. The agreement went on for pages. We were told in every way possible that there might be side effects to Accutane. Some of these include depression. Dry skin. Dry lips. Sunburn. Aches & joint pain. But, of course, since he's a guy he won't have the obvious side effect of birth defects to an unborn child.

They will be checking his blood cholesterol levels each month, too. They can get quite high. Which isn't really a problem since it's such a short treatment regime. But, they will put you on cholesterol-lowering drugs in certain situations. Was all this clear? Did we understand? We were registered with the manufacturers and given a bright yellow card which allows us to get this prescription. Whew! I'm not sure if a military background check is as intense!

But, we were excited. And Bud agreed to go for it, too. The nurse shared with us her own personal experience with Accutane: first month her acne was worse, she had dry lips, aches & pain for which she took ibuprofen, and she even had the high cholesterol. He heard that part loud and clear. He was worried, but we talked about it and discussed his worries over the next few days while we waited for the prescription registration to be finished. We prayed. Dad gave him a father's blessing.

After two doses, he loved that his acne was going down. Yea! But there was this lingering concern brewing..... Sunday, he told us he wasn't well. Things weren't right with him. What was up? "This medicine is making me sick. My cholesterol is going up."

"Yes, your cholesterol might go up. But it's only for a short while and that's okay. It will go back to normal when you stop the medicine."

"But the nurse's went up to 330! Mine could be really high. I'm not feeling very well."

Good grief.

"People die from it."

Who says information is good? This twisted tidbit was plain toxic!

"Listen, Bud, you can't feel high cholesterol. I promise you. You would never know if your cholesterol was high or low and yours was way low when they checked it."


"Bud, cholesterol is fat in the bloodstream. It coats your blood vessels. After years and years - fifty years maybe - your vessels start closing off. You might have a heart attack, then you might die. Honest. You don't feel cholesterol. Really."

It took some doing, but we finally convinced him. Oh, his aching cholesterol.......

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round.....

My work at the high school includes taking daily transit bus rides with my one-on-one student. He's handicapped and non-verbal. Another aide takes her student out as well. He likes to clap. Last year there were three of us with students. The rides take about two hours and are often entertaining; depending on who's driving and who our fellow passengers are. (There are more of the latter since the price of gas went up to $4/gallon last summer.) We often see the Knitting Guy who has knitted us hats in our school's colors. There is the woman who is on the library route who wears a tall, bouffant hairdo and boisterous clothing. There are the immigrants who go to the training center and learn English and how to navigate through society. The cute little kids with parents in tow. And the old lady who openly expresses her dislike for our students.

Usually we get kind, patient drivers. It takes us a bit to get the students on and off as they aren't eager to change buses or return to the classroom. Mine also likes to howl when he's uncomfortable (a lot!) or stand up at inopportune times. We bring bribes with us to help out. The best ones are gummy bears and cheez-it crackers. But, we're not supposed to eat on the bus, so we keep these to a minimum and make sure we don't leave a mess. (Chocolate crackers are NOT a good idea!) Bus Driver Kimmie was so nice - she brought surprise treats for our boys at the end of one school year. Other drivers are grouchy, including one who, ironically, is the spitting image of Santa Claus. He inspects our transfers thoroughly to make sure they haven't expired. And some drivers wear shorts in the middle of winter and then keep the heat turned up so high that we start sweating! What's with that?

The other aide, Sherry, knows the routes inside and out. She remembers the arrival times, the bus numbers and basically keeps us on schedule. Though I've been doing this for almost three years and have got the basics down, I managed to get us on the wrong bus once when she was absent. After traveling around for our standard hour, we hopped on the 120West. Just as the driver was about to leave the transfer center, she announced that we were headed to West Richland. Oops! Wrong bus. We got off, but missed the 120East and had to wait a half hour for the next one.

My student was NOT happy. He won't sit and wait and it was extremely cold and windy. We walked back and forth around the empty center. We shivered. The other aide saw us near a Dial-A-Ride bus that pulled up and figured we were going to get to sit inside that bus for a while. When she and her student came over, I knocked on the bus door. The driver opened for us and we chatted. Jokingly, we asked if he was for hire and told him of our plight. When no offer was forthcoming, I point-blank asked if we could sit on his bus until ours came in 20 minutes. I had to beg - "pleeeeeeeeease!" He finally relented and the four of us jumped aboard. Stevie liked the seat belts. We all loved the warmth and conversation. The next east-bound bus arrived on schedule and we thanked the driver for "saving us" and headed back to school. We were late, of course, (and the teacher couldn't believe we were dense enough to make that kind of mistake!)

That wasn't our only memorable trip, however. We usually go to such destinations as Pasco's Farmer's Market, Viera's Bakery, the Library, Target, the Mall (to put quarters into the candy machines!), McDonald's or Pizza Hut. Anything to get the students out and "gain status" in the community. Once we were returning from visiting another high school and the police pulled us over. The driver was instructed not to open the doors or allow anyone off. While two officers stood outside the exits, another entered and walked down the aisle. He stopped beside a young, ordinary-looking fellow and asked him to get off. The bus was required to wait while he was searched and handcuffed. Whew! We surmised that since he'd gotten on at Freddies, he may have shoplifted something. You just never know who might be sitting beside you. Right Stevie? Stevie? He's fallen asleep, so I guess we'll just ride to West Richland and back. No transfers - just lots of scenery.

Friday, January 9, 2009


We've been inundated with snow the past 3 weeks. It's unusual for our town whose name translates from Native American to "green grassy place" - the wintering grounds for those early inhabitants.

We get snow here maybe once a year. Even if it's just a handful of flakes. Sometimes it's even white for Christmas. And it gets cold in January and February, but nothing like when we lived in Colorado or Utah. In the nine years we lived in Colorado, we usually had snow in September and occasionally on into May and once June. When we moved up here, our boy prayed for snow all winter. He was mostly disappointed. No snowmen. No snow forts... Finally, on his February birthday, 1993, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. We got over two feet of snow that time. Our 4-year-old was so thrilled that God had answered his prayers!

But, the catch was... all that snow belonged to him... the four-year-old. He was outraged that people were out "using" the snow in their own front yards. Certainly it was all his and it had arrived exclusively for his own use!

Moving to the Pacific Northwest from the Rockies had its other quirks. They don't have snow plows in great abundance like they did in Boulder. I think that for years there was only one for the entire area. And, they have "two-hour delays" and "snow days" at school whenever a few flakes fall. On one occasion, it actually snowed about 1/2", but the green grass was still showing through. I drove our kindergartner to school only to discover the parking lot was empty. We turned around and went home. We called the neighbors. Ah.... the infamous school closure. We were supposed to have been listening to the radio that morning to find out about such things. Granted, the roads had been slick, but still... we had quite a few laughs over that.

Speaking of Colorado. We lived there on a corner lot with lots of sidewalk to shovel. The prevailing thought was that the walks all had to be cleared within a certain number of hours after a snowfall or you, as homeowner, would be liable for any injuries received in front of your home. We were as diligent as could be and always got out early to shovel the entire corner. And just like clockwork, the snow plows would come around afterwards and use our cleared walk as a guide to plow our street - and pile all the snow high over our once-cleared walks. Every time. We could never outsmart them.

At least we were able to get out - after tunneling through the snow wall they would leave behind. Because we lived on a "major" thoroughfare and it would get cleared. The back streets weren't as lucky. But, in one little town north of us, the residents all contributed their time and plowed the neighborhoods after each snowfall. That way the residential areas all got plowed. What community spirit!

On the other hand, in Denver one year when Frederico Pena was mayor, there was a huge dumping of snow. It paralyzed the entire metro area for days. The mayor had a brilliant solution: have the trash trucks roll up and down the streets to pack the snow down. Everyone thought he was nuts. But, wouldn't you know, when Clinton was elected president, he appointed this guy Secretary of Transportation. I've often wondered what other "innovative" ideas he shared with that Democratic cabinet.

And with that, I'm just going to sleep in.. because the schools are running on a two-hour delay for the 5th day in a row. Go snow!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas is here again... Stand up and cheer again...

We were adopted by an elementary school in Richland to be the recipient of a boatload of Christmas cheer! It was so much fun! I stopped by the Cancer Center - who coordinated it - and got to pick up the goodies. I just bawled. This was so nice!

We got home and laid the gifts under the tree. So amazing! Some packages - they told us so - were wrapped by the younger children in the school. They were precious. We had to laugh at a box labelled "Dog." Inside were packages for both our dogs and kitties! Someone had been very, very aware of all the details of our family! I had specifically mentioned on the idea sheet that they should just do one gift per person, but they obviously got carried away.

Carried away .... but overlooked one child. There was nary a gift with his name on it. I checked twice. I checked my copy of the idea sheet. Hmmmmm. How awkward is that? We were so grateful for the gifts. But, maybe one bag had been overlooked? A few days later I got braave and called the contact at the cancer center. I used Heather's "Sandwich" method - thanked her profusely, stated the problem, was there a missing bag? Laughed about it and thanked her again. She was so apologetic! She reviewed the facts. Reviewed the idea sheet and the school's list and realized that this child's name had indeed been overlooked. Oh, no. I had hoped that there was just a leftover bag lying around...

She offered to get him some gifts herself. I told her that we already had some things we'd purchased... So awkward. So awkward! What made this situation laughable, though, was that if Santa was planning to leave coal in Anyone's stocking..... this child's is the one that would contain that black lump! How did they know? Maybe it was meant to be...

This child has always been a difficult one at birthdays and Christmases. Some brain wiring must be short-circuited because he gets angry and throws a fit on each occasion! Knowing that he was going to be short this year had me nervous. I gave him a few extra things and held my breath. But, come Christmas morning he was fine. No temper, no nasty comments under his breath.. He was okay with everything. Wow! Cheers! I told him how impressed I was. He just smiled. Two days later, I'm still amazed at this turn of events! Maybe Santa dropped off a new boy and made an exchange?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When all else fails, ask...

We were out running errands today. One child hadn't taken his ADHD medication and it was obvious. We walked through WalMart to get a few specific items on my list. He was ornery and ranting and was getting more out of control by the minute. I stopped him and told him I wouldn't have any more of that kind of behavior. He calmed down - for about 20 seconds - and then continued. All the way out to the car.

I was on the verge of creating a scene! I finally turned to him and asked what was going on. "I have to go to the bathroom." Was that all it was? I sent him back in the store with his brother to take care of business. So glad I finally caught on and asked. Seems like I'll never learn that lesson.

It reminded me of a time ten years ago when my big boy started taking money. Nothing I said or did seemed to stop the stealing. One afternoon after discovering money missing from my purse - again - I got so frustrated that I marched over to the elementary school, took him out of class and drove to the police station. I figured this child needed some major intervention or he'd end up a career criminal.

When we arrived, I dragged my reluctant man into the building. I pulled him up to the clerk's window and asked to speak with a police officer. In due time a uniformed man came out to see us. I explained the situation to him. He showed us to an office and sat us down. After a few preliminaries, he point blank asked my boy why he took the money. The answer made me feel like such a heel: "I want to buy hot lunch at school instead of bringing a cold lunch."

He HAD been asking for hot lunch for months. All the while, I had been trying to save money by sending a sack lunch to school. I realized that my stubbornness had driven him to this thievery. It was MY fault. From that day on I paid for hot lunch. Problem solved. No more stealing. It was that simple. So, I guess, when all else fails, ask! I may figure it out yet...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

He's back.....

Our military boy returned from Boot Camp (Ft. Benning, Georgia) on the evening of the 10th. He had already arrived when we got to the Pasco Airport to pick him up. He was tall. Wearing army fatigues. Head buzzed in a "high and tight."

The kids were there to greet him as well as some of his friends. He was obviously glad to see us. He was a bit worried, though, that his luggage wasn't appearing as quickly as he'd have liked.
He finally hugged me and asked to see my bald head. That made him laugh.

Once we were home, I asked if he was hungry. He'd been traveling since morning and here it was after 10pm. Yeah, he was. He hopped up and started for the kitchen. Then turned around: "Permission to open the fridge, Mom?" I was dumbfounded! Who was this person, anyway?

Evidently it was indeed Stephen. He'd changed somewhat. Though not nearly a Saint, he's made some leaps and bounds in the maturity department. I can get used to this politeness! I think every child should be required to go through something similar. It's great. We can only hope it continues over the next six months until he's deployed to....Afghanistan.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Driving with Mom

It's only common sense. I expect good behavior in the car when we're traveling with the kids. That can be hard for youngsters with ADD & ADHD, though. Sometimes they just have to burst out into an irritating song. Or hog a shared blanket. Wiggles get in the way. Someone "touches" someone else. Or looks at them funny. Or "smells weird."

A gentle warning that I will pull over immediately if they don't "end it!" usually does the trick. They know to listen, because I have often done just that. Especially when they were younger. I'd pull over to the side of the road and have the offending kidlets get out and do jumping jacks. 50. 100. It worked wonders. The child would be embarrassed, of course, and try to get away with 'wimpy jacks.' Nope. Not allowed. In order to be counted, they must have straight arms, slapping them above the head and at their sides, legs jumping in and out at the proper angle. This usually did the trick. Usually.

Now that they're older, though, they're too cool to do the jumping jacks. So, I pull over and ask the offending person(s) to leave the car and walk to our destination. Really. You have no idea how many times we've tried to return from Church (where we've learned how to be Christ-like) and had to leave a child on the side of the road due to his rude and unkind words.

Just ask the 15-year-old. When she repeatedly acted up and wouldn't listen on the ride back from Salt Lake to her aunt's home, I let her out. She was given instructions to do 50 jumping jacks. She got out but wouldn't jump. "I'm in a dress," she wailed. But I was just as stubborn as she was. When she wouldn't jump, I gave her directions to her aunt's and left her. We'd been there dozens of times, surely she'd remember how to get there. Unfortunately, she got her directions mixed up. Fortunately, another auntie who was driving along recognized her and picked her up. If not for this, she'd probably still be walking - probably be in Arizona or Mexico by now. (And wishing she hadn't been showing off for those cousins.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Devil Cat

The kids calls her the Devil Cat with good reason. Lucy is so amazingly full of energy and mischief! She rips up kleenex and dances with the pieces all over the room - so don't leave any out. She knocks over trash cans - repeatedly - until you give in and empty them. If you're holding a paper (newspaper, letters, reports, etc.) she races up and attacks it - determined to shred it, if possible.

She thinks she's human and has a cute trill that she uses to talk to you. Especially when she wants something she can't get. She tries to play with our older kitty - Skye - by leaping through the air and landing on her head. She delights in teasing Skye and following her around. Until recently, she couldn't access the window sills, so Skye had a few moments of peace up there. Lucy would leap through the air - crashing short of her target. Not anymore. She's grown quite a bit and uses her claws to hang on when her leaps get her - almost there.

Our Brittney Spaniel goes on point whenever he sees her. The first time he did this, he stood at attention for 20 minutes. Dad had to distract him! She's learned that the dogs are leashed up at night in our room, so she strolls back and forth just out of reach. (The brittney always on point, of course.)

If she weren't so cute, we might have to part with her. But, unfortunately, or fortunately, I'm in love with her and put up with her antics. Hope she stays cute for a long time to come!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Second childhood

Someone in our house is going through his second childhood... There is now a Kawasaki ZG1000 parked on our front porch. Fancy leather jacket, matching gloves and bright red helmet (to match the bike's trim) laying on the dresser.

The bike's justification was the high price of gas a month ago - over $4/gallon. Sigh. The purchase price of $3,600 would have bought an awful lot of gas, though. 900 gallons worth! And even more now that gasoline prices have dropped by almost a dollar.

This nameless person used to have a motorcycle. It was sold 22 years ago in order to purchase a newer one. The newer one never came our way. The money went towards the family budget instead. It's been a sore spot for him all these years. I've just been glad that he's been "safe" and not involved in something so risky.

I told him when he bought it a month ago that he couldn't whine and moan over the cell phone bill or other expenses as he's done in the past. He said he wouldn't. But he has. Last week I heard, "I'll have to get a second job to afford all this" as he ran through the bills. (The same phrase he's used for the past 29 years.)

"Oh, well, then, you could go ahead and sell the motorbike if you're afraid there isn't enough money to go around..." He hasn't responded to that one yet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cat Tales

Lucy likes Skye's Food Better (and her water bowl and her litter box and her window sills.....)

Lucy did it!

Twice now! (Hide the toilet paper!!)

None more curious than she...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shopping with Cinderella...

We survived. I keep pinching myself and realize that we're alive to tell about it. Our newly-minted 16-year-old can now date and was asked about a month ago to attend the Homecoming dance with Zach. We were glad for her. It sounded innocent enough. This was one of those events to be scrapbooked! (As if the date wouldn't be permanently etched on our brains... )

Actually, we found that prepping a young lady for homecoming dance is like pulling off a wedding. Or, like being a fairy godmother. Get a dress and shoes and jewelry and a garter and all the professional accouterments: hair styling, manicure, pedicure, photos... It's a major investment to transform our darling into Cinderella for an evening of fun!

Of course, the biggest fuss goes into shopping for The Dress. This takes a lot of time and effort. You must be very particular in your choice. You need to have That Look! And of course, nothing you suggest is ever good enough. Her first shopping attempt was with her sister. (Who says she's never doing that again!) Nothing was found. Nothing. It was discovered, though, that our dear is no longer a size One. Nor is she a Three. Scandalous! (And all the dresses she liked were either a size One, Three or over Fourteen - which size she isn't, either.)

The next, more serious, outing took five hours. And, to make matters more interesting, she was accompanied by none other than Dad. (Mom was down with chemo side-effects.) The poor guy swears he's "Never Shopping With That Girl Again!" She has that effect on people. I have to admit that I've said the same thing myself. She has a - ahem - hard time making up her mind..... and tends to disappear on you, only to show up 25 minutes later (totally confused as to why you're frustrated with her!)

But, the fact is that she and her fairy godfather Did find a dress. And, it was on clearance! Regularly $135 marked down to $27. Whoo Hoo! With a few alterations, a donated hairstylist and makeup artist (all courtesy of the Church ladies) borrowed shoes and her own investment in a manicure/pedicure she was ready. Though, like Cinderella, a bit late.

No fairy godparent could have pulled off a better job! Our little princess was beautiful. And, she had a great time... and has plans for ToLo, Prom... you name it, she's planning on it. (We're still in a bit of a daze, of course, wondering where we're going to find another fairy godmother since you know the rules: you can't wear the same dress twice. And no one we know is up to accompanying our little Cinderella on a shopping expedition ever again!)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What's Love Got to do with it?

One of our family goals is to foster Love for each other. Isn't that why we have families? Around here that often translates into refraining from killing each other off before bedtime. Or, in some cases, before breakfast. Sometimes we wonder how successful we've been in teaching the kiddos this concept. We've had our share of name calling, cat fights, and law enforcement events. A while back, the kids were involved in a knock-down drag-out fight right in the temple parking lot. At issue was who got to sit in the front seat on the ride home. Obviously, important topics like that generate a lot of emotion!

We've been known to get pretty creative when it comes to teaching the concept of brotherly (and sisterly) love. When tempers flare and words start flying out of control, the guilty pair often get to finish their "discussion" out on the front lawn - regardless of the time, the outdoor temperature or even what they happen to be wearing at the time! Amazing how quickly those discussions end.

Sometimes we add extra chores to whomever is "the next one to speak." We get lots of work done around the house that way. (Though egging them on actually has the opposite effect; they simply won't argue when I dangle such pleasantries as, "I need the kitty litter box changed, don't you have something to say to each other?")

Many times we haven't allowed the quarrelsome pair in the same or adjoining rooms for hours at a time. (Until they beg for us to let them "play" again.) And for years we staggered their wake-up calls to avoid the inevitable hassles of getting ready at the same time in the morning.

Once, when they were younger and the usual techniques didn't quite cut it, we resorted to tying their wrists together and waiting until they could cooperate cheerfully for a certain amount of time. It took over an hour. Eventually, they ended up laughing themselves silly.

At some point in time, we know they'll enjoy being with each other. There are glimpses of it now and then: invitations to join in on a coveted activity; asking the other's opinions about a new purchase; silence when a certain sibling starts in on a boisterous rendition of "Roll on Columbia..." Well, the silence doesn't necessarily mean approval, more likely that everyone's mouths are full at the moment...

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Today, Kyle brought me a carrot from the garden. And a grape. "Good, huh?" He's been playing with Sissie's kitten here in my room, too, and laughing hysterically.

Today, he also passed the sacrament during church - with a little help from his Friend. While he was near our pew, he paused to show me his two mosquito bites. And to tell me that his foot still hurt, he had a scratch on his arm and one on his chest.

And today his big brother has been very helpful at home. With new guidelines, he and sister have been doing ALL of their chores, instead of just bits and pieces of them. What a great improvement! They've also both been working at jobs outside the home all summer. How nice for them to be "rich!" Of course, all that money burns holes in their pockets, so we HAVE to go shopping tomorrow before school starts.

This weekend, Max is headed out to see our army boy graduate from basic training. He'll still be busy for another 6 weeks of training, but this is something he's very pleased with accomplishing. We're glad for him, too.

Biggest sister is working today at the Veterinarian's. She's told us about the workings of the back-room of the place. How they walk the dogs, clean the kennels, assist the vets and run the incinerator when necessary. She even did her duty and found a home for an abandoned kitten (which she promises to have fixed and declawed asap! before it scratches everything in our house to bits...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Youngest

Our baby turned twelve last month. So grown up! He's even a deacon now and can pass the sacrament at church. We asked one of his past teachers to walk with him and guide him to the correct pews. He managed quite well, thank you! Tears streamed down our faces to see this great accomplishment!

He's so adorable. Because he's developmentally delayed, he can still entertain us with innocent twists of reasoning and a charming logic all his own. Last night he hung out with me and asked questions one after the other:
"What is hatred?"
"What is a platypus?"
"Why does a beaver slap his tail?"
"Does a beaver know about the cracks in the ice?"

I couldn't quite catch the connecting thread between all those questions, but he seemed satisfied with my answers. He likes to use big words and has a remarkable memory for people, music and events.

He doesn't like conforming to our form of living, though. I wonder sometimes what planet he'd be most comfortable on since he would stay up all night if we'd just let him; he'd set up the swimming pool in the snow - and have fun! Forget to tell you that his tooth aches or that he has any pain in general. He doesn't come when called or participate in family prayers or stop chattering no matter what you say or do to him. Unless he's at school. It took him two years before the teachers at Hawthorne ever heard him speak and even longer for the Sunday School teachers to know that he even knew how to talk. And he'd drink soda pop as his sole form of nutrition if we'd let him.

I take that back. He makes great melted cheese burritos - with garlic powder sprinkled on top. And he's eating it right now while wearing his new Iron Man costume (with Muscles and a Mask and the Blue Thing in Front that keeps him alive) and watching Sponge Bob and keeping the time so he can tell Heather when it's time to wake from her nap. So, here's raspberries to the System that labeled him 'mentally retarded' at age seven (that's the official age at which you can label a child.) We love him. We're glad there's someone around here who keeps things light and interesting. And teaches us new things every day!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


In the Mormon Church, you don't clap during the services. None of those loud acknowledgements such as "alleluias" or "Amens," either. No. When someone performs a lovely musical number, we are merely moved to tears or smiles of admiration. Total silence rules until after the service when we rush up and hug the person or pat them on the back and congratulate them on their superior peformance.

Except, that is, for when our baby was just two. Her daddy stood and in his very impressive bass sang a piece from "The Messiah." It was magnificent. Few people are aware of his fine talent and there were audible gasps. At this point, Baby yelled, "Yea!" and clapped her heart out. That was one Mormon performance that got its just rewards!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mr. Scissors

Our second son loves scissors. He's never come out and said so, but he has regularly chopped things up. Often, he's not able to put words to what he does. But it seems there's something "moving him" to do it. Creativity?

He cut up a leather purse of mine and later insisted in front of a counselor that it would be no problem to sew it back up again and obviously We were the ones with the problem. Why wouldn't we just hand him a needle and he'd show us!

Once it wasn't just scissors - he took the clippers to his head and shaved the back of it bald. Then, he screamed for over four hours that he hadn't done it. Well, then who did? He was so convincing that we asked each of his siblings if they'd done it while he was asleep. Taking him for a walk by himself revealed the truth: yes, he'd turned on the clippers. Yes, he'd rubbed the clippers all over the back of his head. No, he didn't realize it would shave off all the hair wherever he'd rubbed them...

So, what kind of a job would you give such a child? Cutting the grass? He was so anxious to do that coveted chore that he took the mystery fluid sitting in a jug next to the garage and poured it into the lawn mower's oil pan. When that ended up smoking up the front yard, he washed it all out with the hose and water. His father has never forgiven him for that one!

He has a reasoning all his own when it comes to hacking away at things. On his adoption day, he wasn't able to express his mixed emotions. So, he cut up the trampoline - stabbing it repeatedly with a stick. He cut up his sisters' shirts because they had been "mean" to him. Cut up their panties and tied them in knots. In order to have ankle socks for sports, he cut the tops off of all his socks. Mr. Scissors now has quite a number of raggedy socks and he's sure COOL lookin'.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who needs Dennis the Menace?

Dennis the Menace has never been one of my favorite comic strips. His outlandish deeds were always too unbelievable for me. Besides, I have my own version right here at home. His deeds are just as unbelievable, but I’ve witnessed them all for myself. For instance, when our little menace was a tyke, he stepped on a hot burner while raiding the kitchen cupboards. He has the ring-shaped scars to prove it. He’s gotten his head caught in the railings of our living room. He lost Dad’s new fishing pole while using it to retrieve his hat that blew into the river. And he’s blown up our microwave oven. Once he and a friend rolled around the family trampoline with roller blades to practice their jumps, tearing it to smithereens. (I made them sew it up as punishment!)

Cankers are something that have always plagued our poor boy. Once he self-administered canker sore medication, only to realize too late it was Wart-B-Gone. That’s why we started locking the medicine cabinet. He’s always had trouble with his ears, too, getting outer ear infections which often end up sealing shut his ear canal. We’ve made many trips to the emergency room over the years when he’s been in terrible pain with this malady – always after midnight. At nineteen years of age, though, you’d think that he’d had enough of the ER. But no, he stuck a pencil – eraser side first – into his ear and the eraser broke off inside. That little tidbit cost $500 to have it removed! He must really like that ER. He’s been there so often. Once the ambulance took him when he took his brother’s bike and tried to jump it over a tall pile of rocks, landing instead on his neck.

He was actually quite decent in music. Mrs. B told us that he ought to continue it in high school. He played the cello in elementary school. He wasn’t quite gentle enough with it, though, as he once broke two cello strings within 24 hours. They cost $35 each to replace and you know that’s the parent’s – not the school’s – responsibility. He broke a clarinet that we bought for him in middle school and we finally had to have him quit band at the end of the year after he broke an Alto Sax. “I just leaned it up against the music stand, Mom, and it fell over.” (Almost $200 for that mistake.) It was just too expensive to keep up with him.

He’s usually pretty coordinated, except for the time he was walking along the top of the bike rack in middle school and slipped, straddling that pole on his crotch. And while he’s a crack shot, he once tried to convince his brother to be his moving target. He swore up and down that it didn’t hurt to be shot with an air soft gun. And to prove it, he shot his own leg! That was the end of THAT conversation.

We discovered how athletic he is when he was 9 months old. He was fussing in church and we gave him a ball to occupy him and keep him quiet. Nothing doing! He got rid of that by throwing it clear across the entire chapel. It landed up with the Deacons waiting to pass the sacrament. He often got bored during the real game of baseball. He’d lie down in outfield and wait for the ball to show up. The chewing out he got from his coach didn’t deter him, however. He was always practicing throwing that ball. He loved to throw hard and fast. In fact, while he waited for Mom and Dad to get their wills signed and sealed by a notary public, he decided to get in some more practice. He threw his pitches against the side of the brick wall – until he eventually missed and shattered the business’s large plate glass window. Thank goodness for homeowner’s insurance! Don’t know how a menace’s folks could survive without it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You're in the Army Now

Our 19-year-old has joined the army - army national guard to be precise. He's wanted to do this for years. He quit all his medications cold turkey last January and did surprisingly well for the next few months. (You can't be on medications if you plan to join the military.) He went on several weekend warrior excursions while waiting for his boot camp and thought they were a blast!

Back when he signed up, his recruiter came to the house to administer the "test" (kinda like a college-placement test) and answered lots of our questions: "Yes. We train them and give them a skill that will make them productive citizens in the community." "Yes. When he attends college, we will give him a small stipend. He MIGHT be able to live on his own with that." "When he gets out of boot camp he'd have to wait six months before he can be part of the regular army." "He will be gone to boot camp for 13 weeks, 3 days." "No. He can't decide to quit...." "So, do you all... sounds like you WANT him to leave..." Didn't take him too long to catch on.

Our big boy made himself "ready" to leave months before June 23rd. The last weeks were pure torture. He called his grandparents names. Left giant messes. Broke family rules. Broke God's rules.... We banned him from the house one week. (He slept in a tent outside.) Refused to participate in his going-away dinner... We were so ready to say, "Goodbye."

The wait at the airport wasn't too long. He had some friends come along. Security told him that he had to leave those big bottles of mouthwash, etc. with us. Off he flew in a prop jet to Oregon. Then on to Ft. Benning, Georgia via Texas. Met some guys there. Excited to finally be fulling his dreams!

We got phone calls. He was there. Got his uniform. He'd make it, even though it was hard.
It was hot.
The food was gross. (Grandpa refused to tell him, "Told you so!" even when I begged.)
The schedule was insane.
He was homesick. Send letters. Send money. "Promise me you'll come to my graduation!"

Letters along this same theme arrived. Finally, we got an address for him after 2 1/2 weeks.

Another letter came Saturday. Apparently, he panicked during the gas chamber training. Ran out of the building. Was ushered back in. Ran out a second time. Beat up the 6 guys assigned to haul him back in. (You know how athletic he is!) Finally finished the training when threatened with police involvement. Has an Article 15. Gets to mow the grounds with a push lawn mower. Gets to do guard duty. Gets to do all those army kinds of things....

We're just enjoying the quiet around here. While it lasts (Oct 10th will come too soon, I'm sure.)