Friday, December 25, 2009



Christmas day we hopped a ferry across the Sound to spend Christmas day with extended family. It was freezing but gorgeous as we walked out to the end of the dock in Indianola.

Here are my gorgeous children at the end of the dock.




It's been a wonderful Christmas day. Last night we went to my sister's house for a bit, then to Lance's sister's house. There was much eating and much ripping of decorative paper.

I'm thankful for family and friends. I'm grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ and all that it means to mankind.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ho Ho Ho Cough Cough Ho

It started with a tickle in my throat Saturday night and by Sunday morning I could sing bass---if I were so inclined. I had to scramble to get someone to teach my Sunbeam class at church and then I went to bed the for most of the day.

Ack. Sick during my holiday break isn't on my list of things to do.

I managed to get some pain pills and migraine meds in this morning so I could go with the family to get Santa pictures taken. This is our 20th consecutive year having them done. I love looking at them each Christmas to see how they've grown.



After we finished we went to get ornaments for each child as is our tradition and then Lance had to get to work. I took the kids out for something to eat and then we went to the Aquarium down on the waterfront for a bit. It was nice to be with all four kids--it happens so seldom these days.

I love my children.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Scum Sucking Excuses for Human Beings

Yes, there I said it.

I'm angry. Very.

My son has worked very hard, saved his money and dreamed of getting a car. He got one last month. It's not new--it's a 1991--but it's his and he did it all by himself. We were very proud of him for doing this on his own. He's taking care of his insurance and everything. He couldn't afford comprehensive on it just yet but he got insurance that he could afford.

Last night some pieces of human garbage smashed open his car, ripped out his stereo, all his speakers and all the Christmas presents he'd purchased for his sisters.

I've never seen him so upset. It's reduced me to tears.

I hope karma bites these thugs in a big way and soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sometimes I wonder...

Why I became a Spanish teacher in the first place.

In one of my classes, I have 15 students, all kindergartners to 2nd graders. This is a lively and noisy class---full of energy and spunk.

what did Lou say to Mary Tyler Moore? Oh yeah, "I hate spunk"

I don't hate it but I'm sometimes having a difficult time getting them to wind down a bit.

Like yesterday. We learned about Muñeco de nieve. We learned the vocab for the snow, the hat, eyes, mouth, boots, mittens yada yada yada. One student took it upon himself to get creative and drew an anatomically correct snowman, then proceeded to race around the room showing the penis to all the other children while yelling the word.

Two other students came to me and, pointing to two other students, said "THEY SAID THE S WORD!!" Their little faces were full of horror, so I stepped over to the two alleged users of the bad word and and asked them if they'd used the bad word.

They hung their little heads and confessed that they had indeed used the 'S' word. I asked them why on earth they'd use such bad language in class.

The little girl, still with her head down, lifted her eyes to me and said, "I just needed to tell them to shut up".


That was the S word!!!!!

Good grief. I managed NOT to smile at that, but I did consider tossing all the Muñecos de nieve up in the air and run screaming from the room.

But I didn't.

I am, however, thankful that Friday is the last work day of the year before the break. It's good it's coming...you know...before I break.

Fa la la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Old Old Old

As I was driving Alli to school this morning, I was eyeing some black gloves sitting on the console. I knew she didn't have any mittens on and so I asked her if she wanted to wear them. Heck, *I* wanted to wear them as the temperature gauge on my rearview mirror kept flashing 'ice' and then '18 degrees'. It was cold.

Alli told me that she didn't need the gloves, she was fine.

"Is it warm in your classrooms?"
"Yeah, they keep the heat on. You probably didn't even have heat in your schools when you were a kid"
"Well duh. That was so long ago we didn't even have classrooms. We met in caves and drew hieroglyphics on the walls."
"I believe it!"

Earlier in the drive we were going past a sharp incline that led up to some houses and she said, "Remember that old guy that was climbing up there the other day? Wasn't that weird?"

I agreed that it was a bit odd.

"I hate old people"

I then mentioned to her that the guy she'd seen climbing that hill was MUCH younger than I am and what did she mean that she hated OLD PEOPLE??

"You know, OLD people. When they get old and cranky!"
"Am I old and cranky?"
"Well, you're not cranky."

I feel a bit cranky after falling on the sidewalk last night for no apparent reason. I was carrying a long pork tenderloin, a plastic container of spices and a sheet of cooking instructions in one hand and in the other I had a paper cup of hot apple cider. The next thing I knew I was on the ground. My memory is vague on this, but I seem to recall the pork flying off in one direction and my cup of cider flying off in the other. I'm not quite sure how it happened as I didn't see any ice there.

Of course I landed smack dab on my bad knee. That was fun.

I think I'm entitled to be cranky now that I'm old and wounded, don't you think?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Adopt a Homeless Guy...

We drive a lot during the day. It's simply the nature of our lives and jobs that we have to spend a great deal of our time burning fossil fuel. Most of my time is spent driving around Shoreline.

There's this guy we always see there. He's usually standing by the freeway exit ramp with a cardboard sign. We don't know his name but we call him Rasta Man because he has dreadlocks and he's usually smiling and laughing and singing to himself. We think he lives in the woods by the golf course there, but we're not sure.

When we can, we have given him some food or bottles of water during the hot weather.

Today the temperatures dipped into the teens and everything was frozen over. I was so grateful to get into my suburban and sit on heated seats.

We came across Rasta Man as we were driving the kids to school. Lance and I decided to swing back around and get him some hot chocolate. After we handed it to him, I asked him if he was hungry too.

"Yes Ma'am," he said as he bounced from one leg to another to try and get warm. "Anything with chicken please"

So we got him some breakfast at the Burger King there. I wish we could have done more.

As we were driving away we talked about how we can adopt a highway, or 'adopt' a child in another country...why couldn't we 'adopt' a homeless person? I know we can't bring them into our homes---some are unstable and that would put ourselves and our children at risk. But couldn't we make up little hygiene kits with some toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, soap, hand sanitizer, blankets, etc? I know downtown they have shelters and soup kitchens but out here in the suburbs those things aren't as readily available. The homeless are more spread out.

Before we left him I gave him my knit hat. It's going to be even colder tonight.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Not so blond and not so happy

About five or six months ago I thought I was smart enough (and cute enough and darn it people like me!) to dye my very own hair. I mean, it couldn't be that hard, could it?

I'd done it before but apparently this time I went a shade too far and landed in the RED ZONE. Actually, it was more of the ORANGE ZONE than the RED ZONE. This is not a zone anyone wishes to be unless your name is Carrot Top and you want to get beaten up on playgrounds.

So I went to my friend Anita and had to start phase one of fixing my horrendous error. I saw her again this past week and here's the result. It's not so blond, it's really not so orange and it's back to the color I wanted. Here's the result....I took this last night with my cell phone so it's kinda fuzzy.



That's tne Not So Blond part.

The Not So Happy part goes like this...


What is WRONG with people? Why are they so mean and cruel? They honk like they're in New York, they give you the one finger wave, they do some pretty scary things. Sometimes I fear for the future when you can't leave your home without having an unpleasant encounter

Before you get started, it's not my driving. I'm actully a good driver. And the unpleasant things don't just happen during driving, although many do. The Season of Joy seems to be turning into the Season of Surly for so many people.

Slow down people. Take turns at the four-way stops. Be kind, be nice. What does it cost you except a few blood pressure points? Say please and thank you like your mama taught you Be civil. I hear horror stories from my two oldest who work in retail about the rudeness of people just because they can. Does it make you feel better about yourself to belittle a clerk? To be rude to them? Didn't your mama teach you better than that? Get over yourselves. Be nice. You might just like the way it feels for a change.

Now, don't be like the cat.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

C-c-c-c-c-cold

It's freezing---literally---here.

So Lance thought it was time to remove the air conditioning unit from our bedroom window. Which means there is no window in the window at this time.

Last night was an exercise in avoiding hypothermia.

Just so you know? Covering a window in plastic won't keep out the cold.

Who knew?

Today's itinerary involves replacing the window so we're not all found frozen together in the morning.

Not that huddling together for warmth isn't fun...but you know.

Monday, November 30, 2009

People

People make me crazy.

Sometimes I think I would seriously be happy living on a sandy beach somewhere with no other PEOPLE around.

Judgmental, cranky, irritating people. People who can't help but put in their two cents worth on everything you do. People who, oh just for the halibut, enjoy engaging in lengthy conversations about you because ....well, just because.

I'm not even sure I'd take my dog, as she's on my nerves right now.

Oh yeah....Fa la la la....la la la friggin' la!

On the plus side today, I spent some time with my two youngest daughters. We went to the gym and swam laps then we went up to Alderwood and I bought myself some unmentionables with my birthday money (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Then I treated my girls to a dinner at Red Lobster. Just the three of us. We ate, we laughed and we had a wonderful time.

And not ONCE during the entire evening did the waitress question my parenting skills or my clothing. I'm also fairly certain that my waitress didn't scurry back to the kitchen to gossip about me with all the other waitresses. No one made me feel bad in any way whatsoever. It was wonderful.

I should do this kind of thing more often.

And now....I should really go look for some Valium somewhere.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

Despite what many of you may think---I am thankful for many things in my life. Many, many things. Even the hard things that have made me stronger, though I might not have seen it at the time. It's never fun going through the refiners fire but it's always worth it.

I'm grateful for my husband. He's the kindest, most gentle man on the planet. We have been through a great deal in our marriage and he's either a glutton for punishment or he really loves me because he's still by my side. He's always been a hard worker and good provider for the family. I love him.

I'm thankful for my oldest daughter Stephanie--or Tep as the kids call her. Nearly 21 years ago she made me a mommy for the first time. She taught me the real meaning of love and how you can absolutely love another person so much that you would literally walk through fire for them. I admire her dedication to her physical health and I'm grateful that she's beginning to see the benefits of filling her spiritual side as well.

I'm thankful for my son--The Boy--who has taught me I was right when I thought that males were from another planet. I'm thankful for his maturity in taking over his personal finances and purchasing his own car this year.

I'm very thankful for my Allison Marie. She has the sweetest, most sensitive heart. I'm grateful for her laughter and for her love and for having her. Her sense of humor nearly puts me on the floor at times. Through her I have learned so much.

I'm thankful for Ashley Rose. Through her circumstances of birth and health I have come to be a stronger person. I have also become acquainted with many people I would never otherwise have met and they have become dear friends. I'm thankful that Ashley will still cuddle with me, that she will still hold my hand and she will hug me. I'm thankful that she feeds my mommy-heart when I most need it filled.

I am grateful for gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I'm thankful for the spirit in my life and the little nudges I receive. I'm thankful for the blessing I receive and the strength given to me when I read the scriptures, when I pray and when I attend the temple.

I'm thankful for all of you--my friends and family--both in the real world and in the virtual. I'm even thankful for the person who hit our car and didn't leave a note. I'm thankful for the other guy who hit our car and did leave a note. I'm thankful that the basement is flooded and adding excitement to our Thanksgiving day.

What are YOU thankful for?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

If it weren't for bad luck...

Are you old enough to remember the show Hee Haw? There was this little shtick they did about bad luck. It goes something like this:



Sometimes our life is like an episode of Hee Haw.

A few weeks ago our small car was sitting there minding it's own business and someone ran into it. Not only did they run into it, they ran off. A hit and run that totaled the car, according to our insurance company. It also rendered the driver's side door permanently stuck closed. Anyone driving the car has to climb in the passenger side to, clamber over the console and plop into the driver's seat. It's a lovely gymnastic adventure--especially if you're wearing a dress.

Last night at work the car was hit again. This time someone at hubby's work hit it in the front right corner, popping the door permanently OPEN.

At least this time the guy left a note with his insurance info on it.

Not that it's going to do us any good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet Souls

Monday Lance and I had a delicious and delightful meeting at Children's Hospital to talk about how we were indentured to them for the remainder of our natural lives due to Allison's recent week long incarceration there. I think they'd like a part of us after we pass on as well, but I'm not quite sure how that's going to to work out.

After we finished there we stopped by to visit Peggy--she of the Pt/ot department and Ashley's dearest friend there at the hospital.

(We love her too)

Peggy was with a lady and her grandson at the time and before we'd arrived they'd apparently been talking about us. Now of course we know why our ears were burning.

Barbara and her grandson Kyle were here from Idaho and Kyle has a lot of the same issues as Ashley and so they invited us to come visit them at their hotel on Tuesday night and spend some time in the pool and visiting. There was talk of pizza and root beer and thus I was rendered incapable of saying no.

When we go there it was Wine and Cheese Night at the hotel. Not to be confused with the Whiney and Cheesy Nights that I generally enjoy here at Rancho Troeppl. So we ate cheese, nibbled crackers and got to know each other. Pizza arrived and then it was off to the pool. My swimsuit was still damp from my pool workout earlier in the day, but that's not the reason I declined to climb in the water. The pool was surrounded by windows. Windows that looked out from the dining area of the Wine and Cheese Night shindig. I was afraid I'd spoil appetites so I kept my clothes on and just the kids got into the pool.




Kyle has been through a great deal in his eight years on this planet. It was fun to watch Ashley helping him in the pool and to see him light up when he talked to her. It's good to meet someone who is a lot like you when you haven't met anyone who is anything like you ever.

So it was a lovely evening and I think we made some friends that we'll be able to visit with off and on as they come over here for treatments.

Nice to meet you Kyle and Barb!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Escape

After a rather horrifying week, we decided to pull up stakes and head to the mountains in search of white powdery escape.

In other words...snow.

I love this child more than I can ever put into words. Behold..my Alli.



We went to Steven's Pass where we discovered some snow...but not enough for our liking.

Lance and Ashley seemed to enjoy it.




They went down small hills in inner tubes and landed hard. Thankfully there was no breaking of bones, just a jarring of the heads and spinal columns.

After sliding around for a bit, we went to Leavenworth. Oh we love Leavenworth.



We loved it so much that we spent the night. Ashley ran up to our room on the the third floor and yelled down the from the balcony to us as we were gathering our gear, "Our room is FANTASTIC! It has EVERYTHING!!" She was so excited.

And by 'everything', she must have meant two queen sized beds, a tv, a bathroom and a couch. It was everything we needed.

We discovered that playing in the snow rendered one famished so we decided to order pizza from a nearby pizza place. As we were in our favorite little Bavarian village in the mountains we threw caution to the wind and ordered The Bavarian. The order sheet said it came with German sausage, onions and mushrooms. Sounds delectable, does it not?

It arrived and I opened the box. I wasn't sure what I was looking at---it was covered in...stuff. I wasn't sure what this 'stuff' was, but I was fairly certain no respectable pizza joint would deliberately poison their customers, so I picked up a slice and took a bite.

I was wrong.

I chewed once...twice...then spit it out onto the paper plate. WHO PUTS SAUERKRAUT ON A PIZZA????

It was all kinds of horrible and I called them to tell them so. I was nice about it and simply said that no where in their menu did it make mention of sauerkraut. They replaced their vile concoction with a Hawaiian. Which was also a very bad pizza, but did not have a smidge of sauerkraut on it, so we ate some of it.

After we left Leavenworth, we went to Wenatchee and then on to Mission Ridge in search of more snow. There was even less snow there, but they did find a better hill of the white stuff than they had on Steven's pass. Ash took a rather hard landing at one point, hitting her cute little bottom on some rocks.



She decided it was time to head back to the suburban.



On the way home I drove in the dark and blowing snow over the mountain pass. I do not recommend this activity to the faint of heart. Nor do I recommend thinking (as you are driving through these snowy conditions) 'Gee, I hope there are no deer running around here on the road tonight'. I say this because just as I thought this thought, a huge four point buck sprang out in front of the suburban. The sound that involuntarily sprang from my lips was reminiscent of the sounds I made during labor--only with more feeling. Thankfully the buck realized that he should change course or die and did so. I was full of adrenaline for the remainder of the drive home.

(A huge thank you for all the prayers and kind thoughts many of you have given to our family in the past week. I have sincerely felt their impact and have been strengthened by them. My heartfelt thanks)


And now, please enjoy a video of my husband sliding downhill on an innertube. IF Blogger will allow it to upload here. If not...then you won't see anything here on the end of this post.

video

Thursday, November 05, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I drive around a lot. I mean A LOT. I spend so much time in my vehicle that I've contemplated putting in a kitchen and a bathroom to make it more comfortable for me. I also tend to keep a box of protein bars with me as I don't get to come home during the day most of the time. Plus, I go to the gym twice a day and I get hungry and don't want to visit a fast food restaurant because it would nullify the effects of going to the gym.

I told you that to tell you this.

Last night I took my girls to their church activities. As we pulled up to a corner, there was a homeless man with a cardboard sign. I've seen him there before and I've given him a protein bar before. He was very nice and gracious and thanked me.

Not this time.

Alli was in the passenger seat so I asked her to hand it to him. She was reluctant, but put her window down, held it out and said "Sir? would you like a bar?"

He came over to us and said that he doesn't often drink hard whiskey any more.

Oooo-kay

He took the bar and said, "Is this 90 proof?"

We kind of laughed and I said sure, it's 90 proof.

He scowled, said "I don't want it then!" and threw it back at us, hitting Alli in the head with the poor, non-alcoholic protein bar.

As we drove away he was muttering something about booze and food.

"Mom, please don't ever make me do that again" Alli said.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Heaven for seven hours or so...

And by heaven I mean the beach cabin. We went over after church so Lance's Dad could work on his back. The girls and I headed straight for the cabin where I built a pretty good campfire, if I do say so myself.

We made some hobo stew and walked the sand.


We watched the moon rise....



We watched the ferries glide back and forth across the Sound...



We saw something almost as rare! A smile from Alli!



We also had Grandpa Doug join us for some stew and laughs. I have many, many more pictures. Seems I somehow managed to take about 92 of 'em but I'm tired and it's late and I think I'll go crawl into bed and enjoy the smell of the campfire in my hair.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boo!

Today was full of goblins and angels and a major headache for me. Not that the costumed-candy-begging-hordes gave me a headache. It's just I had one and couldn't get rid of it all day. I still went out with the kids to look for sweets.

Ashley got all decked out, including her fingernails.



After I spent all that time gluing the spiderwebby nails to her, she said "I can't DO anything with these things on! Why do people like them? How can they DO anything?"

I told her that the price you pay for beauty is sometimes not being able to do anything productive. Ha! She ripped them all off right there.

Smart girl.

We went to the Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot and there were so many adorable little people there, all decked out in various costumes. Here's my niece Nicole, Alli and her friend Mercedes.



Ashley was cold so she put her coat on.



Lance and Ashley handed out candy from the back of our suburban.





After the Trunk or Treat, we went TRICK or treating through roughly a bazillion neighborhoods, hitting a trillion or so houses. I'm guestimating here, but it seems that number is reasonable for the amount of candy that was given to my children.

We'll be suffering dental drama for years to come from the effects of this night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You know you're not feeling right when...

..you do silly, distracted things. Like...oh, I don't know, maybe putting a fortune cookie in your mouth before you realize you forgot to take out the fortune.

For the record? That little paper thingy does not taste good.

Also, that finger I thought was sprained, really isn't. It's broken. I have to wear the splint forever now because I've damaged my poor lil digit with all my attempts to bend it when it should have been kept straight. This really cuts into my typing speed.

I took the girls to the gym this afternoon to see if it would make me feel better. Lance and I went there this morning as well but there was no exercise involved. We simply lowered ourselves gently into the jacuzzi and sat there. We were full of the pathetic.

I exercised this afternoon. It did nothing to drive my cold/flu away.

On the plus side? The kitchen is now spotless for the night. Or until The Boy decides to have a bowl of cereal. It's been about an hour since our penne pasta dinner with garlic bread and squash so I'm expecting him to come running for nourishment any second.

Excuse me now. I have a date with some Nyquil.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Speech

This is the speech I gave today for Wonderland Developmental Center's 40th Anniversary Celebration in a large ballroom in the convention center.

Frist I want to tell you about a little girl named Cheri Lee, born in the late fifties. She was born healthy and beautiful. Big blue eyes, bright blond curls and she loved to run. Then one day she became terribly ill. Seizure after seizure and then apparently a stroke. She was placed in a bed. Her parents were told to put her in an institution. She was never given therapy or moved. She lay in a bed. For years she lay in a bed. Back then they didn't know you had to move so she lay in her bed.

When I was seven months along with our fourth child, something odd happened. I felt my baby girl within me do something she'd never done before. I felt her have a seizure.

At the time I didn't know it was a seizure---but it felt that way to me.

Then I felt...nothing.

For two days I did everything I could possibly do to make the baby move within me. I ate chocolate, I ate more sugar than I'd eating in the previous six months. I lay on my bed and poked my swollen belly. Nothing. I called the doctor and she had me come right in. Her ultra sound showed the same thing---my baby floating in amniotic fluid but no movement. She sent me to the hospital where they preformed more tests. There was a faint heartbeat but no movement.

They told me my baby was dying and they didn't know why. There was enough amniotic fluid. They didn't know why she was dying. They told me I needed a crash C-section. As I lay in the surgical suite, the anesthesiologist told me that he was going to put a tube down my throat, that his nurse was going to press on my neck and then I would be unconscious. I told him I'd give him fifty dollars if he'd put me out BEFORE he did that. He didn't laugh. He told me this was serious. What I didn't know at the time was that I could die too.

The I was out. Then I was awake. I didn't see my baby girl for two days.

When I did, she was perfection. Tiny, tiny perfection, but perfection nonetheless. They told me she was fine.

Fine? I was pretty muddled from the drugs but fine? How could she be fine? What had happened?

After a month, we were allowed to take our tiny, beautiful miracle home.

After a few weeks I knew she was not fine. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew she wasn't right. She would lay on her blanket and not move. She'd be so still my heart would nearly stop in fear---was she dead? No, she was breathing. She did this again and again. Then she moved and I knew what she was doing.

Seizing.

I took her to the doctor and told her what was going on. She sent me to Children's Hospital and Ashley Rose had her first EEG. It came back abnormal so she had her first MRI.

Because there was such a long wait to get into see a Neurologist from the hospital, they sent us to see one in private practice. In the meantime I had the MRI films for two weeks. Two weeks is an eternity when you're in a situation like this. I pored over the films. I looked online to find MRI's of the human brain and I compared them to the films of Ashley's brain.

I knew there was something wrong but I didn't know what it was. There was this big black hole where I thought there should be....more..but I didn't know.

Then the Neuro walked into the room and said the words I never expected to hear. The words no parent of an infant ever thinks she's going to hear.

Your baby has had a stroke.

A stroke? My baby? A stroke? A STROKE?? Babies don't have strokes. Old people have strokes. A stroke??? What was she saying?

A stroke, A massive event that probably took place in the womb and since the location of the stroke was where language developed she might not speak, she might not walk and she could have vision issues.

You know when you first take a very bad hit? It knocks the breath right out of you and you're not sure you're ever going to breathe again. You can't get oxygen. You panic. You claw at the air, trying to force it into your lungs.

There were tears of course. Many, many tears. When the future is unknown for your child, there is fear.

Once we got over the initial shock, I went into fight mode.

I pored over research, I looked for intervention.

And I found Wonderland.

When I called Wonderland that first time, Marilyn answered the phone. I remember suddenly feeling choked up as I tried to explain why I was calling. What I wanted to say was “My entire world has just collapsed in on me, can you help me? Oh please, please help me. Help my baby”

What I said was that my infant daughter had suffered a stroke and I was looking for a place for her to receive therapy. Could I come see Wonderland?

Although that was what I said---Marilyn heard what I didn't say. She knew. She understood.

I bundled my little angel up and I drove to Wonderland.

I will freely admit to you that I was frightened. I was scared. My heart was in agony.

They wrapped me in a warm embrace from the moment I walked through the door carrying my tiny bundle. Mary Kay took Ashley from me and held her while I took the tour. Marilyn comforted me with her words and her demeanor.

Pam Neighbor led me through the labyrinth of paperwork I needed to navigate. The parent groups gave me other moms who were in exactly the same boat I was in. We sat and talked. We shared. We hugged. We cried. We were all worried sick about our babies. We were not alone on this very heart-wrenching voyage.

We could share our laughter and our tears. We could say things to each other that we could never say to the other moms at the bus stops in the morning as they complained about ear infections, or stuffy noses or skinned knees . I knew that saying Ashley had had a grand mal seizure the night before and then stopped breathing and turned blue would be a conversation stopper. So I simply nodded as they spoke. It was a club I didn't belong to any longer.

I belonged to Wonderland, where I could share life and death stories and it was all right.

While I was being cared for, so was Ashley Rose. She received physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy.

After a while I took to taking walks outside while Ashley was receiving therapy. One day when she was nearing three years of age, I came back inside and everyone was grinning. They took me by the hand. “come here! Come here! We want to show you something!” They looked like cats that had just feasted on very plump canaries.

They took me into the room with the floor padding and the therapy balls and there was Ashley Rose sitting on the floor. Mind you, helping her learn to even sit had taken a year or more. We'd taken the furniture out of our living room and installed a ball pit so she could have fun as she learned to sit by herself. Often she'd slowly tip over and disappear under the colored balls and one of our other children would dive in to pull her out and prop her back up. So sitting was still a big deal to us.

As I stood there in Wonderland, I watched as Ashley took a step. A step! She took a step! Then another and BOOM down she went. But she'd TAKEN A STEP! The entire staff, therapists, office staff and Marilyn were there clapping and laughing and crying like we'd won the super bowl.

And we had. Ashley could walk!

Have any of your children had to wear one of these? I think this is her first leg brace. Over the years, we were casted many times over by Don at Cascade Orthotics. Ashley needed to wear these in order to give her stability as she toddled around. Every six months we'd get casted again and start out with a new brace. Ashley still fell a lot, but she fell less when she wore her brace. Once when she was about four years old, we couldn't find her brace anywhere in the house. We searched and we searched....nothing. Finally we found it in the garbage can. Ashley had made her feelings very clear on the subject of braces. Very EXPENSIVE braces.

Wonderland was an oasis and a haven for us. One of the therapists sewed a neopryne hand brace for Ash to wear. When we first began Wonderland, Ashley couldn't open her right hand, It was always fisted. We called it her stinky paw and lovingly pried it open and to wash it and put a cloth inside it. Her soft hand-brace helped her open her hand and keep her thumb out. When I found a new therapy online called CIT, constraint induced therapy from a doctor in Alabama who was treating adult stroke victims, I asked Children's Hospital if they would do it for Ashley. They said no.

Wonderland said yes. Barb sewed a little shirt for Ashley so she had no access to her left arm and hand. It was like a tiny pediatric straight jacket. She could only use her stroke affected side. It was amazing. She progressed in leaps and bounds because she HAD to.

I'm here to tell you that Wonderland is amazing, wonderful, and all things good for parents who have landed in Holland and not in Italy. I will forever be grateful to Wonderland and it's staff for their kindness, their compassion, their love. They do not just treat the child, they treat the entire family.

My baby girl can walk because of Wonderland. There are no words to express our gratitude for that.

Braces like these give stability and support. Wonderland is the source of stability and support for grieving parents who are ready to stand and fight for their little angels.

Remember this little girl I told you about in the beginning? She is my sister. She's out of bed now, but lives in a wheelchair, unable to use the left side of her body. She can't open her hand, she can't walk. There was no intervention in her time of crisis. There was no Wonderland for my sister and so she has spent her life in a wheelchair and living in an institution.

Thank you Wonderland. Thank you for being there and blessing the lives of so many children and so many families.

Ashley? Please come up. This is what Wonderland has done. Thank you.

(Ashley came up to the podium and gave me a bouquet of flowers and stood there while the audience clapped for her)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

People

Some I like...some I could do without. I try to follow what I'm taught about 'love one another as I have loved you' and that whole 'do unto others' thing too. Some people push your buttons until you're ready to pop. I've found myself posting on boards in less-than stellar behavior when some forum people intentionally nit-pick and argue the most ridiculous points. I stop myself and I stop myself and then....I just post what pops into my head. It may be wickedly clever and sarcastic--but it's probably not the nicest thing to do.

Like I said...I know the Golden Rule and attempt to abide by it.

Some people make it harder than others. Still, I do try.

However one person on this planet today really pushed my buttons.

No, it wasn't one of my teenagers--they've been remarkably well behaved of late.

It was the person who hit my husband's car and caved in the driver's side door and then left. They didn't leave a note, they didn't wait to see if someone would come out to see what happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

How do you get to be an adult with a driver's license and not have a conscience? If I'd done that, my nights would be wracked with guilt-induced insomnia.

I just don't understand.

Hubby had to climb in the passenger door because the driver's side won't open.

And.....a happy Wednesday to you all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring....

The old man is snoring. Well, he might be. I can't tell from here.

It's been a busy week at Rancho Troeppl. Seems we hit the ground running on Monday and haven't stopped to take a breath. It's always a busy week for me during parent teacher conferences as I rush to dozens of interpreting appointments all over the district. I feel like a ping pong ball.

Also, are any of you experiencing this? There is a ratty white panel van parked on our street. It's dirty, beat up and now it has a flat tire. As I walk the dog in the morning and evening I don't get a good feeling.

A neighbor called last night to warn me that there is someone living in it.

This isn't the first time this has happened here. There have been cars, mobile homes and trailers that have, for a time, lodged themselves on our street and been called home to the homeless.

Last night as Ashley and I walked Cassie, I told her that this sort of thing just never happened on our street when I was a child in this house. It just didn't. She told me she didn't feel safe here any more and wanted to move back to Shoreline. I told her I'd love to do that too. More than anything. I also told her that things are the same out there as they are here though. People are struggling all over.

There are more people standing on freeway off ramps holding card board signs. More desperate people hanging around outside of grocery stores asking for money or food. I keep a box (or two) of protein bars in my suburban for two reasons: I'm sometimes not able to come home during the day and run from one school to another and they keep me from buying fast food and the other reason is to hand them out to the guys holding the cardboard signs. I can't (won't) give them money but I can give them a little bit of healthy food.

Ah well. I'd better get moving this morning. There's breakfast to be made and kids to be roused from their warm beds.

Oh, and that ratty white panel van? A neighbor called the cops on it to have it towed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Isaac and Papa Bob

I foolishly agreed to watch my great nephew this weekend. When I say 'foolishly' I mean that my pea brain had forgotten just how time intensive and sleep-depriving these small humans can be. Not to mention the odoriferous offerings ejected from their nether regions.

I got no sleep last night as the wee one 'slept' with me. He woke up well before six a.m. and he was singing. How could you get mad at that? The answer is that you couldn't. It was so sweet. He snuggled in next to me and even when he discovered that I wasn't his mommy, he was fine.

Here he is playing with his Papa Bob. I'd love to go take a nap but my father says that he's too old to watch kids. I dunno....look at this and tell me he's not doing a bang up job!

video

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ashley's Birthday

Has it been that long since I've been pregnant? The calendar says yes...my heart says it isn't possible that my baby is so old.

I think she had a good day yesterday--despite some small disappointments. Mommy had to work late interpreting and couldn't call to say I was going to be late. Daddy picked her up at school and Alli baked her birthday cake after school. I helped her decorate it when I got home.




Rosie loves her duckies and so her theme, if you will, was chock full of duckies. From her cake to her balloons. She's a duckie lover.

Daddy and I took her to get her birthday present, a new iPod. Pink. At least I think it's pink. She was thrilled. Then later her cousins and Aunt and Uncle came over. We sang happy birthday to her and she blew out candles.



Her Auntie gave her little ducky non-slip decal thingies for the bathtub. I loved this idea and gift as getting her in and out of the tub is a tricky business with her balance issues. Thanks Auntie Julie!

Isn't she a happy angel?



AND...(drum roll please) Ashley has some exciting news. There is a swim team for disabled youth that is connected with Children's Hospital It's called The Shadow Seals. Ash had her first tryout on Sunday evening. As I sat there watching these stunning children---most missing one or more limbs---as they swam laps at speeds I haven't yet achieved, I was in awe. Stunned. Moved.

Ashley made the team and she's beyond excited. If she continues to progress and do well, she may get to go to the Nationals in Chicago next July. It's a goal she's determined to meet.

My swimmer

Monday, October 05, 2009

Zooooooooooooo and Aquairium and birthdays oh my!

Spontaneity has been the name of the game for us lately. We generally go to the pool after school every day (and I go in the morning as well) but the other day I surprised the girls with a trip to the zoo.

Actually we've gone twice in the past week. Once with Steph and Ash and then the second time with Ash and Alli. I walked my feet off. It was fun each time---but the two experiences were markedly different. One visit was on a Saturday and the place was jammed with people. The second visit was in the afternoon on a weekday and there was virtually no one there but us and the animals.

I liked the second visit the best. Here's a slide show of our time there with Ash and Alli. Don't expect any pictures of me. You know better than that.



This past weekend Lance finally had some time off and we took full advantage of his time with us. We were all sort of sick with colds and not feeling so well but we managed to enjoy ourselves.

We began with a yummy waffle and sausage breakfast on Saturday morning before the first session of Conference from Salt Lake. Conference was wonderfully inspiring and uplifting. Then we went to Olive Garden for lunch to celebrate Ashley's 11th birthday (a few days early)



Then we dropped the two older kids off so they could go to work and the rest of us went down to the waterfront to hit up the Seattle Aquarium. It was a beautiful day.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Los Pinguos!

Since the concert last week I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their cd that I ordered and it came!

Lance brought it out to the school and I played it for my Spanish class. In fact we sang and danced to it the entire time. Here's the song we picked that the kids are going to learn and perform at the Expo for their parents. They're so excited.

Turn up your speakers. I dare you not to chair dance to this!



My Los Pinguos obsession has infected my girls and my husband. I thought they might not enjoy it as they don't fully understand the language, but they love it as well! Yay! Makes it nicer that I can have the cd blasting away in the stereo when we drive around.

And boy do we drive around. I've been keeping up my twice-a-week gym visits. I've got an ugly cold right now and don't feel so well, but I did manage to drag myself to the pool this morning, hubby in tow. He wanted to stay in bed but he went anyway. He went right to the hot tub but did come for a workout in the pool afterward.

We wanted to go to the beach cabin this weekend for Ashley's 11th birthday, but she's feeling sick, Alli stayed home from school sick, Chris has it too and now Steph is coming down with it so I think it's a weekend at home for us all tucked under the covers with lots of tissues and cold remedies at hand.

Also, it's the worldwide church conference so we plan on watching that. I reccomend it to all my friends. It's a wonderful way to learn about the church. I look forward to it every six months. You can watch it Here Just click on the 'here' in the past sentence and it will take you there. Enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting Something Off My Chest...

I've been thinking lately.

Don't worry, I haven't hurt myself. I'm thinking small thoughts and taking it slow. I'd like to avoid an a brain hemorrhage.

I've not always been the best person I could be. I've made mistakes in my life and have not been the best example of my faith and who I should be. If I've ever done anything to hurt or harm anyone reading these words (you know who you are) I'm sorry. I truly am.

I'd like to think that I'm more mature now...better at being who I'm supposed to be but I still sometimes stumble. I'm so far from perfect that I can't even see Perfect from where I am.

I'd like to think I'm on the right path though. I am trying.

Anyway...I just wanted to get that off my chest.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Wow!

Usually the weekends are sort of ho-hum because Lance is working.

This weekend was delightfully different. I've been feeling better since I've been going to the gym twice a day and so I feel more inclined to go out in public. (Yes, I know, hush)

Friday morning as I was listening to the radio I heard a group on an early talk show that was going to be playing at The Triple Door that evening. They were a group from Argentina calld Los Pinguos. They sounded incredible on the radio and so I mentioned it to Stephanie. She said she'd like to go with me.

So we went and took Alli with us after we dropped Ashley off. It was AMAZING!! I so wanted to get up and dance but Stephanie wouldn't. Ok, truth be told I probably wouldn't have anyway. Not only were these guys amazing musicians, they were gorgeous. My apologies for the picture, it was dark and it was taken with my cell phone.


All the way home Stephanie kept saying, "I want one of those.....I want one of those....I want one of those..." I was laughing. I knew exactly what 'one of those' was.

Then today after making some clam chowder, cleaning the house and retrieving my baby girl from her slumber party, we went to the zoo. Well, Lance went to work and I took Ashley and Steph to the zoo.



I know you, can't see from that picture but there were penguins there! Sooo cute and adorable.

We then proceeded to walk. We walked and we walked. When we got tired of walking, we walked some more. After that, there was more walking. Did I mention the walking? Yes, there was a lot of walking. Sometimes they walked in front of me...



And sometimes I had them sit down for a picture. Like this one. On a hippopotamus. Ok, not a real one of course because that would just be silly. Not to mention dangerous.



We saw lions and tigers and bears. No, we really did. Plus, there were some cockroaches.



No, those were NOT taken in my own home, thankyouverymuch. We don't have cockroaches. We have a lot of other things, just not those.

Steph took this amazing picture of a giraffe.



Then there was more walking because we obviously hadn't walked enough. When we finished walking we realized that we still had more walking to do. We were walking experts by this time.

I won't bore you with the many pictures I took of gorillas, tree kangaroos, zebras or the various and assorted creepy crawlies. Suffice it to we saw many fuzzy, furry and hairy-legged creatures. But enough about the other zoo patrons.

It was wonderful to spend time with my girls this weekend.

Before I go, let me leave you with this picture:



Ashley is a fifth grader. Fifth graders join either band or orchestra. They had tryouts with the instruments this week. Ashley came to me in tears because the band and orchestra teachers were flying through the students and rating them on each instrument---then giving them a recommendation as to which instrument they should play. She hadn't gotten a recommendation and was bravely trying to tell me she didn't care that she just wouldn't do band or orchestra.

I knew she did care and in a big way. The problem was we needed to find an instrument she could hold and play with just the one hand. We went to the music store and looked and tried.

The trumpet won.

So I went to the band teacher and explained the situation. That Ashley really really wanted to play in the band and the only instrument she could play was the trumpet. I explained that she might need a bit more care and time and to please be patient with her. He had no clue about her condition. Which reminds me, I need to speak with the office about that one. He should have been informed beforehand.

At any rate....we now have the joyous, unrestrained sound of the trumpet...er, trumpeting in our home.

Heaven help us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Busy

I know, I know. I haven't updated my blog recently.

I have no excuse except that I've been busy running children everywhere under the sun, teaching and going to the gym twice a day.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Weird, huh?

We drop the girls off at school, then hubby and I hit the pool. Then later in the day when I pick the girls up from school, I go back with them. We're really getting our money's worth out of our membership dues in towel and water usage.

So, life is busy but it's good.

I'd write more but I've got to pick up the girls and then hit the gym. Again.

Toodles!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Boyz

Technically, I only have one boy. The Boy. The man-child I gave birth to 18 years ago.

But I also have two other boys. Not mine by birth, but mine by heart. Dillon and Daniel. We spent some time with them on Saturday after going to my niece's son's fifth birthday. (that was a mouthful)

They live down where we used to live so we don't see them on a daily basis as we once did. We don't have sleepovers anymore and we miss that. Here are my two other boys and my two youngest girls.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SCONES!!

Oh, and teeth.

Yesterday Lance and I dropped the girls off at their respective schools and turned our faithful gas guzzling steed south. I had a date with a bespectacled gentleman who wields sharp instruments and loud drills.

I had cracked off half of my temporary crown and needed to have the permanent one put on.

So, we drove.

It was not only my date-with-a-dentist day, but the first day of the Puyallup Fair. To my husband this means only one thing: SCONES!.

We devised a delightful plan as we hurtled south at speeds approaching non-legal limits. We would arrive early enough for us to stop, get into the fair free (First day of the fair is free day before noon), get our hand stamped so we could get back in later after my appointment and buy fair scones. It was a good plan. A yummy plan. A plan that involved food. A plan that made us happy.

Apparently it made about five hundred billion other people happy as well.

The first sign of how our morning was about to go was the four way stop two blocks from our house. A woman in a white pickup truck obviously missed the chapter on How to Take Your Turn at a Four Way Stop when she took driver's ed classes. I say this because she sort of stopped then went, nearly into the drivers side of our suburban. I pointed at her, then pointed at myself and said "I was here first". I think she was on crack. That's a better explanation than the first one I thought of, that she was blind. I say this because she never looked at us. She stared straight ahead and waited while I went around her in the middle of the four way stop.

Our driving adventures only went down hill from there.

As we neared Puyallup, traffic became heavy. And when I say heavy, I mean black-hole-gravitational-pull heavy. I mean it sucked every vehicle within a 100 mile radius in towards the fair grounds. Traffic was stopped on the shoulder of the freeway about half a mile from the actual exit. This caused near accidents involving people coming around the corner, slamming on their brakes and skidding. I'm not exaggerating when I say that global warming took a huge step towards actually becoming something real by all the black smoke poured out from people standing on their brakes in order to not kill the person in front of them. (Someone alert Al Gore!)

We were lucky to get out of that one alive.

Everyone was turning right at the bottom of the exit, so being that we had once lived in Puyallup and knew our way around, we went left.

Up and around the south side of the fair grounds to the western side and to another four way stop.

Where we were stopped by a police man. For twenty minutes. We sat there. Sat. There. Not moving. Lance got out to run to the gate and get his hand stamped. He came back and I went to get my hand stamped. I came back.

Still, we sat.

As we sat there, a cattle drive took place in front of us. Horses with riders. Horse drawn carriages. Horses pulling wagons. See?




There were men sitting down riding tractors. There were white haired gentleman standing up riding green tractors. There were Clysdales. I lost track of how much farm life passed before my eyes before we were finally allowed to go.

We were a bit late for my dental appointment. While we were there, Lance ran to the bank to get some cash for our trip back down the hill to the Fair. I was done in record time (Thanks Dr. Chris!) and we headed back towards the Fair grounds.

With every other person on the planet.

When it became apparent that we would never find parking nearer than Tacoma, we decided that Lance would get out and walk into the fair, buy scones and I would pick him up. It shouldn't take too long, right?



While he was in there standing in line behind fifty people with the same idea. I was able to get us lunch from Taco Time in another county, read War and Peace twice and get a pedicure and a mani.

Finally, after sweating in the sun and standing in line behind people who were ordering twelve dozen Fair Scones at once, he emerged from the Gold Gate of the Fair grounds, where I swooped in to pick him up. And by swooping in, I mean I crawled at a snails pace behind a gazillion vehicles who also had the same idea that we had.

So, I never got to step more than three feet into the Fair and I never got to walk around and see baby pigs in pens and cows being milked. But thanks to the perseverance of my wonderful husband, we did get two bags of Fair Scones.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divide myself into three...

If only it were possible to do just that.

But I can't. Wish I could. I have three places to be tonight---PTA Meeting, Band/Orchestra orientation for fifth graders and another meeting half way across town. Now...to pick and choose.

I have a lot of nights like this and I wish there were two of us to take on these things. I wish Lance didn't work the shift he does. Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful he's got a good job. I am.

I'm just a little weary of feeling like a single parent.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

What I Learned with the Sunbeams Today

The Sunbeams are four year old darlings at church and I was asked to sit in on their class and help today.

I learned that Sister Perry is a wonderful Sunbeam teacher with lots of patience and love for her little class.



She taught us about forgiveness and told the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph forgave his brothers for what they did to him and we should forgive those who have done something wrong to us.

The best part? Coloring! We colored little finger puppets of Joseph and his brothers.



I helped some of the kids color theirs and then we taped them up and voila! Finger puppets!



I can understand why the kids love Sister Perry and why she loves them. The little ones are sooooo sweet and fun. Little Liam sat on my lap through the last two hours of Sharing Time and Singing Time. I was in heaven.

I think I'd like to be a Sunbeam Teacher.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Back to School!

Yes, I know it was three days ago and I haven't updated my blog for over a week and I'd apologize but I got blogged-out by writing every day for three weeks during Ashley's Children's Hospital escapades.

Two of our four children went back to school this week! They've both been so excited about starting up and seeing their friends and getting back on a schedule. I was thrilled for them (and to be back on a schedule again as well!) That and going back to work myself. :)

Before we left for school, Lance gave each of the girls a father's blessing. He blessed them with the ability to make good choices in friendships this year and to follow the spirit in all that they do. It was a special experience for us and I'm thankful I have a husband who holds the priesthood.

Because they went at different times, I took Ashley in the morning. Here's our newly minted 5th grader, decked out in her Van's shoes, shirt and jacket.



Isn't she adorable?



Our Allison (or Alli as she prefers to be called) began her first day of 8th grade. She's now at the top of the food chain at her school and liking it immensely.




Stunning, I know. Just take a moment and drink her in. I often do.



I think she was also decked out in Van's apparel. It certainly makes back to school shopping a bit easier when our son works there and we get the family discount that they give him.

When I picked the girls up at the end of their first day they were so incredibly bubbly and excited. They LOVE their classes, LOVE their teachers ("MOM! 8th grade teachers are AWESOME!") They bubbled and gurgled all the way home and it was such a delightful sound. Music to my ears and my heart.

I'm thankful they're so happy where they are and with their friends.