Beautiful Life





Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bring back any memories?


We recently had a family skate night at the local Hot Wheels with our youth group. The kids had a blast! Isabel had never been to a skating rink and the boys had only been one other time when they were younger. I remember going nearly every week! Nothing's changed since then either! I don't think the Hot Wheels has upgraded their decor since 1975! As a matter of fact, they were still playing the same music and wearing the same skates!






Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Disaster Strikes!

Yes, it was that bad! In order to understand this post, you will need to understand a bit about the construction of our "sunroom". This room was added on to the back of the house before we bought it. The roof for it overlaps the roof of the main house and the room itself was simply tacked on the back of the house, without even removing the siding or the planter window that now sticks out into it from the kitchen! They just put paneling over the siding, framed the other three walls in and threw sliding glass doors in the holes. The ceiling is the roof with paneling on it and there is very little insulation so it isn't exactly an efficient room. That being said, it has good bones for us to work with if we ever get the time and money to pull the central heat and air into it and put up walls with windows and drop a ceiling.

When I went out there last Saturday to begin the big purge, as I've been calling it, in the last area of the house, I found something I wasn't planning on.... WATER! I haven't been out there in a few months so I didn't notice that the carpet was dampish or that there were water marks on the one cabinet left out there. The kids are oblivious to this stuff and Paul has used the kitchen as his office since June because it was too hot out there. So, when I began to move the things that were piled up against the wall closest to the house, that is when I discovered that everything was wet! Paul quickly went into "hero" mode, you know....must find problem, must save family home. He decided that he needed to pull the ceiling down to find the source of the water. Unfortunately, the ceiling wouldn't cooperate and it looks more like he tore it down haphazardly. After ripping parts of ceiling away, Paul decided that it was a leaking vent boot on the roof of the main house and that the water was coming down the roof of the main house, under the shingles and then down between the house and sunroom and soaking up in the carpet! GREAT! Guess what Fay had been doing all week. Yep, dumping loads of water on us!




The good news is that he got up on the roof and replaced the boot. The bad news is that the carpet on the house side of the room is taking forever to dry out and I'm afraid of mold. But, I did manage to get the room cleaned up and organized anyway...with the reluctant help of three unwilling but obedient assistants! They were excited to get to play on their game table for the first time in months! Now I'm trying to decide if we should rip out the carpet!




BUT YOU WILL ALL BE HAPPY TO KNOW THAT THE GREAT PURGE IS OVER! THE HOUSE IS ABOUT 500LBS LIGHTER AND FEELS WONDERFUL! It's been fun....okay, not really, but it HAD to be done and now it is. HALLELUJAH!


School starts next week!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's a college student!

That's right, we officially have us a college student!
Elizabeth Hope Gour
4 feet 11 inches and about 100 lbs soaking wet
full head of hair and beautiful green eyes!


Oh yeah, and she's highly intelligent! Whipped the pants off me and her Dad at the SAT's! She was dropped off at her dorm in downtown Charleston on Sunday by her mother and step-father and let us know that she was all settled that night, but she was already homesick. I asked if there was anything we could get for her and in true college student fashion..... she begged for food! She also requested a toaster and......a shower-head?! Apparently, the dorm rooms are equipped with something that resembles a spigot coming out of the wall! This afternoon we went down so that Daddy could install the new shower-head, for which Lizzie and her roomie, Allison are very grateful and I brought lots of college food! It was very exciting to see her in her dorm and she gave us the deluxe campus tour before we took her out for dinner. I am happy to say that I think she is going to do great! She seemed really happy and a lot calmer than on Sunday. It seems two days can make a big difference! Paul and I just kept saying, we can't believe we have a COLLEGE STUDENT! We are so proud of her and seeing her actually on the campus just made it so.........REAL. She is all grown up!




Here she is in her dorm room! She actually lives in a "suite". She shares a room with one girl and there are two more two person rooms in the suite. There is also a "common area" that has a small kitchenette and sitting area. This is her "half" of the room. Alli has an equal amount of space on the other side and there is a bathroom behind me. Lizzie and Alli lucked out because the other four girls have to share a bathroom! Of course, she is happy to have a bathroom for just her and Alli but she saws the deco in it is "prison chic" because it's all grey and white and she nick named the toilet "Shamu" because that is who it sounds like when you flush it! As you can see, she still has her sense of humor!


At her desk...doesn't she look studious! She's reading a note from Isabel.


Here she is on the campus. It's a really beautiful and peaceful campus once you get away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets that run all around it. It is steeped in history, most of which, Lizzie could tell us all about. It was like having a guided tour of a historical area. It was a wonderful visit! WE LOVE YOU, LIZZIE!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

LET ME EXPLAIN!


Yes, that is in fact, my kitchen. Lovely isn't it? Southern Living just called to say they want to do a photo shoot and feature us in the September "back to school" issue! LOL!!!!

Let me explain....you see, just weeks before we left for China, we had a little kitchen mishap. It is called, our old dishwasher leaked behind the cabinets without anyone knowing it for an undetermined amount of time and the cabinets soaked up the water like sponges and grew a fantastic science fair project! It was not actually lovely at all!
We discovered this disgusting mess when I detected a "musty" smell in a cabinet one day. Just so you know, musty smells in your house are not a good thing. A week after I noticed the smell I convinced Paul to pull the dishwasher out....I had a sneaking suspicion that we might find something there. Sure enough. Not one, but all the cabinets on that wall were EAT UP with mold! Being the conscientious parents that we are, we quickly RIPPED those cabinets out of there and threw them to the road....then we remembered we had no money to replace them! But, what could we do? Our babies can't breathe mold!

Luckily, if you want to look at it that way, we had these beauteous cabinets in our sun room. So, we ran out there and snatched them off the wall and shoved them under the counter in the kitchen and TA-DA! Instant kitchen! Okay, it wasn't that easy, but it was our only option. What you can't see in that picture is that the cabinets don't actually fit in the space....there is a huge hole on the right side and a smaller gap on the left side. The dishwasher was about where the 9 and 10 cabinet is but had to be moved down to the other end of kitchen because it was the only way to get any of the cabinets to fit right. AND, please note that the numbers and alphabet are not in proper order! The alphabet across the top goes from "N" to "W" and the numbers skip from 10 to 17! YES, WE HOMESCHOOL!!!!

Suffice it to say, we are saving every dime we have to put towards a kitchen makeover, but in the mean time we are just laughing! Got to keep our sense of humor, right?

All this was to explain why our sun room looks like this........................



Yes, I am ashamed....very ashamed! You have no idea how ashamed...and how hard it was to post this picture. When we realized we would have to use the sun room cabinets in our kitchen, we hastily stacked the stuff in them out in the room. HELLO, we were in a hurry and we had tons of other stuff to deal with....we were about to go to CHINA! Then, not wanting to mess with our school stuff after we finished, I unwisely dumped that stuff on top! Of course, while we were straightening and organizing the rest of the house, more was added to the collection. Now that I've finished the rest of the house, (yes, we even moved Claire's crib this morning), I can't put off taking care of this! So, without further ado, I'm going in..............pray for me!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Help Wanted!


Calling all homeschool moms out there!



I know a handful of you read this blog.... you know who you are! I have a friend over at http://significantsource.blogspot.com/ that is considering homeschooling her 5th grade twin boys through their middle school years but she has lots of questions and concerns. If you would be willing to help a mother out, use the link to go over to her blog and check out her post about needing advice on this issue! Her questions are pretty typical and are the same questions we all had before we dove in the deep end. You know, like where do you get your curriculum and will her kids have trouble getting into college. To give her advice, all you have to do is click the "comment" link at the end of her post, but you probably already knew that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another First!

Not exactly having a good time here!

Today was Claire's first ever dentist appointment! It went as well as I expected it to. Our regular dentist, wonderful guy, referred us to a special children's dentist for Claire because it seemed obvious to us that she wasn't going to just allow you to poke and prod around in her mouth. She does let us brush her teeth and even floss some of the time. But, I've noticed that she has dark spots on her molars so I knew we shouldn't put off a trip to the tooth guy! Once there she was happy as a clam (the waiting room is like a fun park) ....right up until they draped the lead apron over us (she was in my lap the whole time) for the x-rays. Then she politely LOST IT! I say "politely" because she doesn't do the whole kicking and screaming, just the screaming part! The nice hygienist, that needed ear plugs, held the film in place so the x-rays could be taken anyway. Then it was on to the exam. The exam involved Claire sitting in my lap with her head in the dentist's lap while he took a long gander in her mouth with his dentist's tools. This went better than the x-rays! She wasn't crazy about the process, but she at least allowed it to take place. Looks like we will need several more appointments to deal with the issues she has. Oh, well! It could have been worse. A few cavities to fill, a few teeth to seal and one chip that needs repair because it's chipped almost to the nerve. We can live with that! The strangest thing is that he also diagnosed her with benign migratory glossitis. WHAT? Ever heard of "geographic tongue"? I have, because I have a geographic tongue. Well, she does too! But, I never heard it called that before!


The chipped tooth that will be bonded in a few weeks. It will be a little sad to look at her smile and not see that little chipped tooth that has been there as long as we've known her!






All done! Isabel was the photographer for this episode of Claire's life! Great job!


And when we got home my new Rody Horse was waiting for me! I love that guy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

READ A BOOK!

Everyone that knows us knows we are a family of avid readers. I even managed to read three books over the summer. Normally I would have read two or three times that many.... but, I was just a little busy this summer!


I've never seen anything like the boys. Parker and Noah have been known to read while walking through Wal-Mart and the mall! They take their books just about everywhere and I have to pry them out of their hands at bedtime. At least it keeps them out of trouble....most of the time! Isabel is on her way. She doesn't do chapter books yet, but we have high hopes for this year.

You know when kids are at that age, around 2 years, that they decided they like a book soooooo much that they want you to read that book to them over and over again until you think you will recite it in your sleep? Well, my kids did! I literally have hundreds of children's books in my house, so we certainly could have variety in our lives. But no! Every night, for what seemed like years, we had to read Nicky Visits the Fire Station by Harriet Ziefert to Parker and Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk to Noah! Isabel was a little different...she picked two books that you HAD to read to her, Peek-A-Boo! by Janet & Allan Ahlberg and The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown. As much as it drove me crazy back then, I treasure those memories!

Now we have another little mind to form, so every night before bed we start reading books. One of the first phrases Claire learned to say in English was "more book", which has transformed over time to "read a book"! Because it is so cute to hear her ask for more books, she often gets out of going to bed on time!

The other night she was in the boys room with the other kids while I was straightening up. She kept pointing to the books on the lower shelf of their bookshelf so the boys gave them to her. They were not books for small kids, but that didn't seem to matter to them or her. A few minutes later she got bored with them and scattered them around the room while playing "cars". Hot Wheels are a new favorite for her! I came in the room to get her for bed and walked over to pick her up. As I leaned down to get her, I said, "time to go night-night, Claire". She quickly grabbed up a book about the human body and began turning the pages, looking intently at the pictures. I repeated myself and then held out my hands for her. She did not look up, but loudly proclaimed, "I read a book!"


video


Don't forget to turn the music off!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Whew!

Well, I have managed to get the kids rooms done! Actually, all of the downstairs (not counting the sun room but that is a story for another post) and the kids rooms, bathroom and hallway upstairs. That leaves, you guessed it, my room! Where do you suppose all the stuff we didn't know what to do with ended up? Yep, my room! Piles of clothes that need to be put in the attic for hand-me-downs, books that won't fit on any shelf (because I need more shelves), a basket of stuff I found that belongs to other people. But, THE KIDS ROOMS ARE DONE!

Now that the boy's room is clean and organized, I can reveal the FIVE YEAR BUNK BED PROJECT! We decided the boys needed bunk beds and an entertainment center/bookcase to give them more room and more storage options. Paul loves to work with wood and thought it would be a great "weekend" project for himself. Well, that was about 260 weekends ago! As always, each piece cost more and took longer than we planned! We designed the pieces ourselves. He made them out of birch and did not use any plans, other than those in his head. And, technically speaking, it isn't quite done since he still has to make the drawer for the trundle, but....let's just say, it was a learning experience!


HERE IT IS

Representing countless hours during many weekends, buckets of sweat and a few arguments but thankfully, no blood---THE BUNK BEDS! We tease him a lot, because of how long it took, but we also know how much heart went into it.

And, the entertainment center/bookshelf which was done first and we have been enjoying for a year now! It was completely full until I did "the purge" yesterday. Now there is actually room on it for more books!

And, now there is actually room in Isabel's room for Claire to move in. That child had THREE dressers full in her room! One with 5 drawers was full of her clothes. One with four drawers was full of Barbies, Littlest Pets and dress-up clothes. One with three drawers was full of baby doll clothes, bottles, diapers, blankets etc... How does that happen?

Well, we have a very different scene now! Isabel has one dresser with 5 drawers. Her clothes are in 4 and her American Girl doll and clothes are in the last one. Another dresser is empty and waiting for me to put Claire's clothes in it and the last one got chucked out the front door. It sat on the lawn for all of 30 minutes before someone came by and loaded it up their truck! I cleared out a lot of Isabel's toys and created a little play area downstairs for Claire so I can keep my eye on her during the school hours. That left plenty of room for a crib! We may move Claire in there this weekend! We'll see!

Isabel, showing off her newly organized closet with shelves that thankfully, only took a weekend!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Time out

Okay, I took time out from chucking everything onto the front lawn to give Claire a bath tonight. Anyone with any experience with Claire and water knows that this is just another chore! She HATES to take a bath of any sort...usually cries the entire time. Yes, if you read back in our archives you will see a happy child in the tub. That lasted for less than a week, then someone dumped water over her head, need I say more!


She has to take sponge baths now because of her casts so I thought bath-time would be easier. Silly me! It isn't just that she doesn't like the idea of sitting in water, she just doesn't like water, period!

Well, I have been working hard at going slow and trying to get her to help and enjoy her little sponge baths rather than rushing through because she is crying hysterically. I have SLOWLY made progress with this. She still cries initially when she sees the towel and shampoo on the kitchen counter. She still screams when I undress her and lay her down on the towe but.....

I got these pictures tonight and had to share.




Helping bathe her body! Notice, she is NOT crying!



Helping shampoo her hair! Still no tears!



Playing in the sink! Is that a smile I see?



Ladies and Gentleman, she willingly stuck her finger in the running water!

Once upon a time...

there was a man with a little girl and he met a woman. They all fell in love and got married. Then they bought the cutest little house and worked really hard to fix it up. It had a little room for the little girl to sleep in when she visited and a little room for the husband and wife. Also, there was a little kitchen to cook in and a little dinning room to eat in, except they never ate in there because there was no table in there, and there was a little living room to watch TV in and one little bathroom to bathe in.

The woman really liked organization...okay, she was a little obsessive about it. So, every night before bed, she would walk around the little house to make sure that EVERYTHING was in it's place. The man didn't care, so he let her have her obsession.


Then, one day everything changed. They decided to have a bigger family so they had to move into a bigger house. In this house there are lots of rooms and lots of children. In this house, the woman can't organize her thoughts if she wants to, much less all the stuff in the house and even if she wanted everything to have a place, there aren't enough places for everything! But she has been trying this week to find places for everything or just chuck it out the door and so if you wondered why she hasn't posted much, that is why! She will be back soon........hopefully.


THE END!





For those of you needing a Claire fix!

Cheese!

Monkey Face!

Sweetheart!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Doggie Doggie!

It took 2 months, three weeks and 6 days to get Claire to touch one of the dogs but on Friday we had a breakthrough! Since bringing her home, she has been terrified of our dogs....all animals really. It doesn't matter to us if she wants to pet the goats at the zoo or not, but it's a little bit of problem that she screams bloody murder if one of our three dogs gets anywhere near her!

In case you don't know, we have one large black lab that we gave the boys for their 7th birthday! Her name is Georgia and she is harmless but I can see why Claire would be afraid of all 95 pounds of her! The other two dogs, Roxy and Lola are true lap dogs. They are sisters from a litter of Pomeranian-chihuahua mixes that we got right after we signed on to adopt, two years ago. They weren't "mixed" very well though, and one looks all Chihuahua while the other looks all Pomeranian! It's cute!

We decided to start with the less intimidating, small dogs so, about a month ago we started letting them in the house while Claire was playing. She would squeal if they came near her but otherwise didn't seem to mind them! Then, all of a sudden, on Friday, she decided to pet one of them...on the backside ONLY. That wasn't so bad, so she pet the other one. Then she decided she really liked petting them and she started calling to them to come to her! One licked her on the hand and she proclaimed that "it tickle"! Now she offers her hand to be licked! Her eyes flutter like crazy, something that she's done since we've known her whenever she is not sure of something. But, we made progress!

Unfortunately, Georgia doesn't rate yet. Still to big and scary, I suspect! That's okay, Georgia is patient. Roxy and Lola are just so happy to be back in the house and back in our laps! Poor little Lola had to be shaved a few weeks ago due to inattention! With all our trips out of town and all the time she was spending outside, we completely forgot that she needs to be brushed practically everyday. We got back from our last trip to St. Louis and she was one big matted fur-ball! She had a full body of Pomeranian fluff and it was matted in huge knots, full of leaves and trash. Poor baby. I just had to shave her down to nothing so she can start over!


Don't forget to turn the music player off at the bottom to hear the video!



video


Petting Roxy

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Success!

Paul and Claire returned home last night around 9:00pm. Her visit to St. Louis was a huge success. The pin did not need to be repositioned because it had stayed right where it needed to be. She was "lightly" sedated for the possible procedure but instead, they just re-casted her and released her. Dr. Dobbs is still excited about her progress!

They had no trouble making their flight back home. Paul said she did great on the plane for the flight out and back and he even got compliments on her behavior! But, for the life of me, I could not figure out how he took the subway from the airport to the hotel and back with Claire in a stroller, a backpack, a rolling suitcase and a port-a-crib! Did he balance the port-a-crib on his head....on Claire's maybe? Maybe he tied the rolling suitcase to his belt! I just can't picture it!

On another note, Claire went from four doses of antibiotic to two yesterday and this evening I noticed cloudy urine. That is usually our first sign that there is going to be a problem. Hopefully this is will not be the case. At any rate, please being praying for her health.

Gaggle of Kids


Christian waiting for the wave!

The kids and I have been thoroughly enjoying this last summer fling week before we have to get serious about things again. I took all of them to the beach for the day while Claire was in St. Louis and today we all went bowling! I will take the other kiddos home on Saturday and that will officially end our summer. We won't actually start school for a few more weeks but we will spend this time cleaning out all the rooms and sorting and organizing all our school stuff so we can begin.

Noah, Parker and Megan~they could be triplets!

Isabel

Isabel with Brooke

And Brianna

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

FULL HOUSE

Brianna (14), Brooke (16)
Noah (11) Parker(11)
Christian (6) Isabel (7)
Megan (11)
Claire (2)

I am the oldest of three sisters and the only one that moved away from our home town. Each of my sisters has two children, so I have three nieces and a nephew. I started a tradition when the oldest one was a baby of having her visit with me during summer vacation. I carried that tradition on with the others as they came into the picture. I love children, I love having a full house and I love that I get to be the Aunt I always wanted to be, even though we don't see each other a lot during the year. Our summers are a special time and the children really look forward to it every year! My children do too. Before they come, we always fill one bedroom with mattresses on the floor so all the younger children can sleep together and the teenagers take over Lizzie's room! This year we did not get to have three or four weeks, spread out from June to August. Instead, we got a few weeks right here at the end. But, I am so glad we got that, because summer just would not be summer without a FULL HOUSE!



I tried to get some really cute pictures~I failed! Instead, I got some really true pictures!




I just got a call from Paul to let me know that he and Claire are safely in the hotel in St. Louis. They left Charleston today at 5pm but their flight went to Memphis first and was delayed there. Claire had a wonderful time on the plane and was chattering loudly every time I spoke with Paul on the phone. Tomorrow she will be at the hospital at 7:45am for her procedure that is at 9:00am. Dr. Dobbs will readjust the pin in her left foot and recast both feet. Then Claire and Paul will fly back home in the afternoon. Hopefully, all will go well and they will get home on time! I know they will be tired. Please keep them in your prayers! Tomorrow is also Claire's first day to go from 4 times a day to 2 times a day on her antibiotic. This should be enough to keep the urinary tract infection from returning. We'll see! I'll keep everyone posted.