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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sand Castles

After the rescue of the blue inner tube (lost at this point? Read yesterday’s post and you will be all caught up!), things settled into a slow routine. Because our state is having the coldest summer on the books, the water was a bit chillish. S2 actually floated around on a raft with his towel wrapped around him. But the sun was hot so they kept diving in and coming out freezing cold, teeth chattering, blue lipped. Great fun.

K.E. was asked by her daughter, E., to make a sand castle. I have never ever seen K.E. dirty and thought that was a huge sacrifice on her part. But then the other kids jumped in and quickly everyone was involved. Except me. I didn’t want to intrude on a special mother daughter moment. I don’t know about these moments, but I imagine they are much like mother son moments. But then again, all my boys and K.E.’s son was involved now too so was I really intruding?

I sat there indecisively until I seen that they needed some dry sand and I was right on it. “Couldn’t resist, could you?” K.E. grinned.

We built the coolest sand castle with moats EVER! It was so much fun! With all of us working on different parts, the kids would say “ah cool, how did you do that?” or “who built this?” and run around to check out the ‘new development’.

E, having the time of her life, declared “isn’t this the best fun? It’s like we are a great big family all working together!”

I know for a fact building sand castles is not K.E’s favorite thing to do. I know I would normally be engrossed in a novel at the beach. But that was the coolest thing to the kids that we were down getting dirty with them.
A good reminder. They are only young so long….take advantage of the time you have. A novel will always be there! And showers, usually, get you clean. But the memory those kids have of their moma’s help on the coolest sand castle (yet!) will last a long time – well, I hope it does!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rescue my Inner Tubie!

This week I took the boys to the beach with K.E. and her two kids. We were sure we remembered the way, until we got lost. It is then difficult to figure out which one of us would ask for directions, we were dressed in beach attire….so we went in together. Strength in numbers!

We arrived at the beach, a hidden gem that we usually have the GPS tell us how to find but the GPS broke and I am taking back teasing my hubby that I needed one now that I realize I really need one – like on this day -, with glee. In the middle of this past very bitterly cold winter, we would say “soon it will be beach days” and it was this beach we had in mind.

Arriving to the beach is a sight. One day, I will take a picture of it. It is just difficult to do because I am suddenly a pack mule when we arrive. And it’s hard to take a picture of yourself. Besides, people would think I’m odd if I ran ahead, gave someone trustworthy looking my beloved camera, and asked them to snap pictures of us as we headed down to the beach.

K.E. and I laid our towels out on the beach, loaded our kids up on spf 50 and ourselves in dark tanning oil and settled in for a fun day of catching up. It is hard work to spend the day getting our hair blonder and our skin darker, but we do the best we can.

We had just relaxed when the unexpected windiness of the day caught S3’s inner tube and floated it with lightening speed out to the deep part of the lake.

This happened to us last year with S2’s raft. It was tragic to watch it scoot across the lake but S2 shook it off quickly with the promise of a new one.

But there was no consoling S3. He has a pitiful sounding cry; it breaks strangers’s hearts to hear him cry. And on this instance, we was sobbing and screaming “Inner tubie! Inner tubie!” K.E. is gifted with young kids his age, she couldn’t get thru to him. I tried the firm Moma routine when sweetness wouldn’t work. He calmed a bit, but then he would catch sight and wail some more.

As this was happening, a couple in a canoe paddled out into the lake. I watched as they headed in the direction of S3’s blue inner tube. “Maybe they’ll pick it up for us” I whispered to K.E. We watched excitedly as they did, in fact, pick up the inner tube. “They got it!” I cheered happily. S3 was ecstatic. “Inner tubie! Inner tubie!” he jumped and shouted with glee.

I couldn’t make out if it was an older couple or young kids and wondered aloud if I should tip them for giving us a great day. They quickly paddled to the swim area where I sent S1 to retrieve the inner tube for us. “Be sure to say thank you!” I stressed.

S1 talked a moment to the older couple and then headed back with the inner tube. “What did they say?” I asked him.

“That maybe now they wouldn’t have to hear him scream and whine anymore.”

I decided to just be thankful for the inner tube and leave it at that.

I’ll tell you MORE about our beach day later………….

Saturday, July 11, 2009

They Have Declared War

Earlier in the morning, during the coldest snap our state has seen EVER (and they checked the books to 1880), my boys came running into the house with their water guns. They filled them excitedly, ran back outside and got into position.

I figured I had better be checking this out.

Under the deck that makes no sense by our kitchen, bees have settled in and made a bustling town. The boys had decided to declare war upon those bees. They stayed back from the hole in the deck, took cover best they could, waited for the hapless bee to buzz out and WHOOSH, the bee would be bombarded with water guns. When it crashed down, our dog would run over and gobble it up.

After – I exaggerate not – fifteen minutes they had gotten ONE bee. All day long they have kept at it.

The war against bees is on.

The boys and our dog hate bees and it occurred to me that not everyone knows this story….

This past fall, when school had only just begun, the boys were all out playing soccer on a hill by our silo and campfire spot. S1 had just mowed it the very day before. As a mom, sometimes you get this feeling about your kids and you know you should take heed and listen – I really think it is the Holy Spirit guiding you to help you protect your kids. I looked out the window and S4 was stumbling toward the house, arms outstretched, screaming.

But not a single sound was coming out of his mouth.

I stood there glued to the porch step for a moment as our dog ran past me, running in erratic circles. I snapped to as our dog continued out into the far field and I ran to S4.

I will never forget this image as long as I am breathing.

From the very top of his head to the very bottom of his feet, the entire back of my son was covered in living buzzing bees.

I wanted to swoop him up but how could I even pick him up? I stripped his clothes off as fast as I could, and I ran for the house where he dove under the blankets on the couch and would not come out. He suddenly found his voice and wouldn’t stop screaming.

I ran back out the door and S3 was running for the house and he had bees all over his back as well, not as bad as S4 but horrifying just the same. I stripped him down and ran for the house. He dove into his Daddy’s chair screaming.

I could see all the welts then.

I didn’t know what to do. They had never been stung before and now they were covered in stings! I grabbed the phone, ran out of the house and dialed our pediatrician’s office. Being a regular there, they know me, they know my voice and they would know this is serious.

The nurse, my most favorite nurse, hung in there with me while I counted there stings. S4 had 14, S3 had 9 (if my memory is correct). She told me to give them benadryl and she would call me right back. By the time my hands had stopped shaking enough to pour the benadryl and give them some, they had calmed down dramatically.

By the time the pediatrician’s office had called back to tell me they needed to be rushed on into the hospital, both boys were telling me how the bees had gotten them.

My husband had an unexpected short day that day and was planning on surprising us all by just showing up home when I called him to tell him I was ‘headed in’. Around here, we all know what that means….four boys means we know who the good ER doctors and what time to show up at the ER for the fastest service.

He drove while I sat in the front turned around to watch my boys to make sure they didn’t stop breathing. S1 and S2 began to cry softly.

S3 and S4 were become more animated, began singing silly songs they knew, retelling their story with greater drama.

S1 and S2 began to cry all the more, they had both been stung. Once each.

By the time we got to the ER, S3 and S4 were playing tag in the waiting room. S4 had begun singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ boisterously, asking us all to join in. S1 and S2 were both rubbing their stings and trying not to cry…and not succeeding.

When we got in to see the ER Dr (the really nice good one), it was an odd mix of emotions. We had gone from sure our sons’ air was about to be cut off from all the stings to the relief in realizing they were just fine to the embarrassment of being there with no injuries. The Dr walked in and thought it was our two oldest that had all the stings. I was afraid I had over drugged the boys on benadryl…I told her how much I had given them but it was UNDER the recommended dosage!

Because the bees had not left their stingers in them, the boys were sent home with just the advice of “take benadryl, call if the swelling gets terrible.”

That was it.

We walked out of there with a sorta surreal feeling. Since we were in town, we all went out for pizza. Eating pizza was just foreign feeling, and not just because we never all go out for dinner together either. I had been sure I’d be up at the hospital all night begging God for my boys and instead I was munching pizza thanking God for the unexplainable gifts we had been given. Words fail me to fully describe this….

When we arrived home later, the piles of clothes were still laying wadded in the driveway. My husband and S1 and S2 looked around where the boys had been playing, our dog went with them and hung back a bit instead of her normally run ahead and nose around self. It was then we realized she had been stung we don’t know how many times.

On the side of the hill, where the boys were chasing the soccer ball, was a small hole in the ground. In that hole was a large swarm of bees. Chasing after the soccer ball, they must have stepped in the hole, sending the swarm up to cover them all.

For a long time after that, the younger two boys would run and hide even if they saw a fly. Our dog jumps for and kills any flying insect she can find.

And watching the boys take battle stations to take on the bees, even if they were being silly at the time, reminded me again of the great blessing God gave us when he gave us our boys….and then spared their lives many times over.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Too Shocked to Write

It has come to my attention that S1 is TEN INCHES SHORTER than me!

I am too overwhelmed to even post anything more than that.

Wasn't he just a little baby boy?
If anyone knows of a place to find a good set of spike heels and tips in wearing them farmgirl style, please send information my way. I'm gonna need them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Two Geese and Two Blogs

It seems God used a pile full of manure, the stench of a dud rotten egg and two geese to get the lessons learned from two blogs firmly hammered into my head.

I wish I had caught on a little faster.

After I get my post up for the day, I usually read the same two blogs faithfully and then I try to find a new blog or two to see what’s out there and what’s going on in other’s lives.

Yesterday, I refound Tiny Paragraphs (http://shannonpopkin.com/blogs/shannonsblog/default.aspx). The message made me go ‘yup, that’s me’. That was my new blog for the day. Then I wandered on over to The Word in Worship (http://thewordinworship.blogspot.com/). I read Jaime’s blog faithfully. Jaime was talking about being over tired and ‘are you in the word (Bible)?’

I haven’t been. All week. And only a little bit last week.

The only other blog I read faithfully every day is Sue’s blog (http://www.praiseandcoffee.cm/) and it didn’t help that it had a special post on whining. When I think on it now, it was kinda all three blogs together!

But I had JUST read Tiny Paragraphs and The Word in Worship when S1 comes running in to tell me the Geese had left the coop.

All day we have been on high alert. Once Mr. Goose and Miss Goosey left the coop, the plan was to board up the entrance, locking them out and forcing them to move into a little coop we had for them that they refuse to use, so we could move all our baby chicks into the big chicken coop. I had planned on having my husband help. This is partly why I married my husband, to do the nasty jobs I am too weak and too girly to do.

He was gone.

S1 got the board nailed in place and I knew I had to put my big tough farm girl boots on and go out and help, because the boys had no idea what they were in for. In order to move the new chickens in, we had to move the nasty old manure out.

I had dreams of soaking in the bathtub with mounds of bubbles and a mug of tea and novel I have been waiting to begin that night. Instead I was in a quickly darkening coop shoveling manure. I told S2 to be careful if there were any eggs in one nest in particular. The hens like this one nest the most and I was afraid there might be some old eggs in there. “Be careful…” and before I could finish the sentence I heard a ‘pop’ that sounded odd. “What was that?” I asked him.

He began to gag.

He had cracked open a dud rotten egg and the smell was horrific. Rotten eggs smelled better than this one. It was more than rotten….and the smell filled our nostrils and our mouths tasted it and it was so horrific I draw a blank on the words to use. Truly awful.

We went into over drive then. S1 was pulling the rotten egg and surrounding straw out of there while holding a mitt over his mouth (working one handed took longer but I really couldn’t blame him!). Once he got it out, I dumped it far away and then S1, S2 and I got to work cleaning out the rest of the coop. I stood there pitching manure, hating the smell (though lessened greatly) of the rotten egg, the couple year old rotting manure, the dust…truly a ‘calgon, take me away’ moment.

The more we worked, the louder Mr. Goose and Miss Goosey got. They wanted in. Our dog barked at a high pitch at them, constant. The geese answered back insult for insult. It was so annoying! I wanted out of there and began shouting at the boys to get a move on, move faster, shovel more…I had to shout. The sound outside was so loud no normal decibel words could be heard. I could hear myself getting more and more irritated with everything and taking it out on my hard working boys. As we worked away, our dog took a short break to drink water, the geese went to town eating the chicken scraps (leftover dinners from us) and S2 says cheerily, “Moma, some of the best times we have with you are when we are working on chicken stuff. Isn’t this fun?”

Ouch.

I was being awful and I knew it. I was like the geese, honking out insults of the conditions, being annoying. But here he was glad for the time spent doing this stinky job.

And he had a point. I am out there in my new dangly cowgirl earrings. I have a silk cami top on and my big barn boots. I must be a sight. We are working in an old shed and are unearthing treasures we didn’t know we had. We’re doing a big nasty job, and there is pride in that, in actually getting it done.

Yah, I guess I could see how it could be fun. Humorous even.

We continued to work in the awful stench and dust, with the dog and geese hurling insults at each other, but we worked in peace, toward the same goal.

It was then the two blogs I had finished moments before going out to help them came back to me.

God must have really wanted to drill these messages home to me. In a big way.

We finished and I even planted the trumpet vine and morning glories around the coop like I had planned. All chickens made it in and are happy to have room to move and flap their wings finally.

The boys requested ice cream for dinner, and tonight I let them. As they were scooping it out, I told them how proud I was of them for their hard work. “You boys were true farm boys today.”

Their little chests puffed out with new importance.

Yah, God, thanks for drilling that point home to this moma. But, if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather take break from learning by manure, rotten eggs and honking geese.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How To Make a Phone Call with Four Boys

I often wonder what people think when they call us here at home. Take yesterday for example. All I can begin this story with is that thank goodness it was the pediatrician’s office, who is used to us. Even if they have never seen us in our home element….

I had to call to change an appointment time. I waited until all the boys were outside to make sure there were no distractions. The boys were headed out into our woods so I knew I would be fine.

Ha! Ha!

No sooner did I get the secretary and the door slams open. That is force to slam a door OPEN.

“Moma! Moma!” S4 bursts into the house. He does not have a quiet voice, unless he has to say he is sorry. He has no, I repeat, NO indoor voice.

Behind S4 is S2 with something that is in his hand squawking so loudly it is shriller than S4.

“We caught a bird!”

I’m asking the secretary to repeat herself for the second time feeling so sorry for her having to talk over the boys and finally, when I could not hear her at all, I interrupted and said “I’m so sorry…the boys just caught a bird!”

They were still explaining loudly as they walked thru the house out the back door but I made the new arrangements and I’m pretty sure I hung up to her laughter. At me.

When I went outside to get the full story, they explained that a bird had been hopping through the woods and they were sure it was lost so they had picked it up and could they keep it please?

While they are explaining all of this, the birds in the trees are making such a ruckus I am sure at any moment we will be dive bombed by angry moma bird.

I convinced them to let it go. I told them they could watch it hop away to make sure it was safe. Apparently this wasn’t much fun because they gave up on it rather quickly.

Phew.

I considered calling the pediatrician’s office back to explain but, really, how do you explain this every day normal occurrence? You don’t.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chickie Update

Well, today we had our first Chickie accident.

Chickie came in to visit. Since S3 didn’t want to share his chocolate chip pancakes, he decided to give Chickie a tour of the messiest two bedrooms in the whole world instead. He placed Chickie on his blue Tonka flatbed semi truck and drove him thru a maze of toys.

Chickie was either so impressed that he was riding on a semi truck or sure he’d die by piles of toys and clothes falling on him that he let a little chickie poop plop out.

S3, who has assured me his Chickie does not poop at all, was shocked and decided to sneak Chickie back out of the bedroom before anyone noticed.

As soon as he walked out the back door, S4 comes banging down the steps (he does nothing quiet) hollering “yuck!” with every step. That’s twelve ‘yuck’s’. I had figured out by then that something might be up. He explained to me that there was chicken guck on his truck.

Just as S3 was walking back into the house. So, he had the job of cleaning it up.
S3 assures me it was an accident, Chickie is sorry, and it won’t happen again.

Yah, I'll keep you updated on that!

Our Weekend Trip for Four Stitches

But really, I hope you all had a great Fourth. On the third, my husband was off work so we sat around the breakfast table and gave a brief history lesson to our boys. Going over some of the history with them was humbling…and thrilling…and encouraging!

On Saturday we had a little girl (K) stay with us for the day. So I got to do a little girls hair and paint her little finger nails and toenails (red and blue, every other nail). Those of you with girls will think nothing of that, those of us with all boys realize what a treasured time this is!

But on the fifth, Sunday, we had a busy day. Friends of ours (R.C.) had to make a run to the walk in clinic for a cold and we offered to watch her boys so she and her hubby could have some alone time – as though you are oh so alone in a walk in clinic, but, hey, it’s the thought! I assured her we would have a blast, told her to go out for ice cream afterwards….you gotta take advantage of any time you can with just you and your husband!

My hubby made this ginormous hamburgers for us, and hot dogs for some of the kids who didn’t want hamburgers, that are oh so tasty. On the local news Friday morning they were explaining how to make gourmet hamburgers and my husband has an undiscovered gift, we found. They are scrumptious!

As soon as dinner was done, six boys ran outside to play on the slip and slide. Less then ten minutes later, S2 begins wailing, my husband begins screaming for me to look (I was in the kitchen clearing dinner) and S2 stumbles into the house, the left side of his face covered in blood.

He had been jumping on a bongo board, minus the bongos, and it had come back and hit him in the eyebrow. There was no second guess to it, he needed stitches. My husband pulled the vehicle around while I threw on a more “appropriate” shirt (I had planned on weeding, so I was going for the best tanning shirt), threw dry clothes on S2 and left a small cluster of wide eyed boys behind in the driveway as we sped on our way.

Nearly four hours later, he was stitched up.

There was some sort of emergencies with ambulances pulling in. We got the last bed, and we were right next to the unloading spot for the ambulances. I looked at S2 who was watching wide eyed at distraught and sobbing adults, dr’s leaning in the room to grab move gloves…. and asked him if he was all right. He never said a word, just made sure I had my hand on his leg so he knew I was there.

His only concerns were that someone might laugh at him for his getting more swollen by the hour eye and that Daddy would feel bad S2 hadn’t gotten that row of squash hoed like he had planned to. S2 had gotten up extra early, before church, to help his Daddy plant potatoes. And now laying here, he was still worried about how his Daddy would get the field hoed with him in the ER.

It was a long wait, in which I had a greater insight into my precious little S2, who isn’t going to be so little forever.

And as I was silently praying for these distraught people around me, I was also thanking God for a minor injury to remind me of all the things we had to be so thankful for.

Today S2 is just fine. As I write this, he is riding his bike recklessly through the yard, stopping to check on Lucky kitten and make sure she gets a few hugs before he heads out to ride again. His only request for the day (so far) is that I would make him pancakes, which I did, with chocolate chips.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hunger and Thirst

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

It is summer vacation here on the farm with our four boys. The first day after Memorial Day Monday when I heard the other local bus go by and know I didn’t have to take my boys to school, ah, pure bliss.

I looked forward to days of beach time and fun with my boys and pure laziness….well, as lazy as you can be with four boys and a busy husband and the huge garden and baby chicks and so on and so on.

All that ended that very first day mere moments after I made my boys chocolate chip pancakes. “I’m hungry”, one of them said and soon they were all asking if they could have a snack, if there was anything to eat, if I had more cookies, what was for dessert…..



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