Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Fun in Oklahoma

The kids have spent a glorious few months with family, having fun in western OK before we head back east to our work in Florida. They've loved the time with cousins especially, as we all do, I think. Most of my best friends in life have been my cousins, and Zaya and Mimsy are no different.

With the S Cousins (all but Baby T)
With "Blaze" at the Zoo

The Oldest and the Youngest T Grandkids

 We've been living on Grandma and Grandpa T's yard since we returned in April, and the kids settled in right away. In the picture with the "tent" you can see Nobby the RV on the left and Kline the storage container on the right. Home sweet home.

Making a Tent
Mim is "Tall and Sophisticated"

Learning About Augers from Grandpa T

 We went with Grandma C to Texas, and visited with aunts, uncles and great-grandparents. It was such a short visit, but I couldn't imagine being out here and not seeing all of them at least once. In this picture, Grandpa P made a classic Grandpa P type joke, and the kids are responding appropriately.

Laugh Like G-pa's Joke Was Funny
Tea Party with "Claye" and Grandma "Lilibeth"

 There have been lots of solo adventures as well: playing at the skate park, petting fluffy kittens and jealous dogs at Grandpa's worksite, and just generally being goofy kids.

No, He Doesn't Know What He's Doing
Making Mulberry Jam
Yes, She Does Know What She's Doing
At the Barn Build There are Animals!

 Grandma C took them to the Science Museum in OKC, which might just be their favorite museum of all time. They like it even better than all the Smithsonians. Had I only known, we could've saved a lot of time and money with that week in Washington DC.
Mim Waits for the Giant Toothbrush

Pulley's are Cool

Ok, Mom, We'll Pose if we Have To

 On Memorial Day, we were able to visit the graves of the great-grandparents who are waiting for us in heaven. We picked wildflowers and enjoyed the cool morning. I hope we never lose our connection to family and who we are, no matter how far we travel.

Great-Grandparents B

Great-Grandpa T

Friday, November 28, 2014

Educate! Educate! Educate!

Mim decided that her Lego Dalek was lonely today, so guess who had a baby.

Then became a teacher.

One little Dalek arrived late. Don't you just hate it when everyone's looking at you?

Zaya built an alien to add some interest to the little Daleks' day-

-and then they had an evening class on what to do with Timelords.

Mim also built an RV. This is not something I'd want to be in during a high wind, but the little Lego figure looks quite relaxed about it all.

She's got a bed, a stove, a jeweled steering wheel, a microscope...really, what more could a girl ask for?
Just another normal day in the bunkhouse in Crisfield, MD!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Still Alive

So Mim has decided that she can speak in a French accent. No, she can't. She just thinks she can. She especially likes to pull it out in the evenings when she's supposed to be going to bed.

"Dahn't zhou lahk ma Frenzh ahceunt?"

Actually, though, I do, because it's pretty cute. She gets a very mischievous grin on her face when she's "speaking French". Why is it that our kids always pull out the cute stuff just when you're making them go to sleep for the night?

Zaya has now decided to retaliate by speaking in a "German" accent. No, he doesn't have a German accent any more than she has a French one, but I've decided what they need for Christmas.

School is progressing well, because we're now forced to stick to more of a schedule. Gone are the days where the kids can amble out of bed at 7:30 and dawdle for an hour or more over breakfast and getting dressed, only to complain when I tell them that it's time to start school at 9:00 or thereabouts.

Now we're into the bunk house by 6:45 every morning, and the kids settle down to school as soon as Daddy and the other volunteers leave at 8:00. It's working very well, and I've even discovered that they don't need me hovering right over them all the time either. It's good for all of us.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Banishing the Big Bad Wolf

Today I threw away this little backpack. It might not seem like anything special, and considered as a financial investment, it certainly isn't. This bag was a "free gift" that came with a subscription to one of those children's magazines, like Highlights or Ladybug. It wasn't something I purchased with care, or a gift from a loved one, yet when I threw away this bag today, I almost shed a sentimental tear.

This is the bag that held Zaya's nebulizer for the last nine years. It fit perfectly, with the machine in the main pocket and the various attachments and medications in those pouches on the sides. It was never used for anything else, and it performed its function admirably, for all its ignoble beginnings.

Zaya was nine months old when he had his first asthma attack, and I think I can honestly say it was one of the scariest moments of motherhood. I went in to find him in his crib, coughing strangely and wheezing hard. I called the doctor on his home phone, and he could hear Zaya in the background. "Take him the emergency room. Now." We drove the 15 miles into town, and my little baby received his first breathing treatments from nice nurses who assured us that this was very common, and not really a big deal.

They were right. It was (is) very common, and not really a big deal, but for many years after that, we dragged our own personal nebulizer around with us on trips, to family events, and eventually to his school room when the asthma would be likely to flare up. He always took his treatments so well and calmly, and I was very thankful for the technology that allowed us to at least do something, even if, occasionally, it wasn't as effective as I might have wished.

It's been several years now since we've needed the nebulizer. He's old enough to use an inhaler if he feels the need, but he hasn't even needed that for a blessedly long time. (Several months!) I think Zaya may be one of those children who actually "outgrow" their asthma, or at least the worst of the attacks.

I realize that asthma, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing serious. There are mothers out there at this very moment who are watching their children suffer in ways that I can only imagine. I pray for them, and would give them all a big hug if I could. But asthma was our family's little glimpse into that world, and throwing away that bag brought back a lot of memories.

There were other trips to the ER, before we had figured out how to recognize the early signs of an attack and what medicines to keep on hand. There were months when we used the nebulizer every single day, and I would turn around and go back to the house for it if I realized it wasn't in the car. Life moves on; my children grow and change. But I don't think I will ever stop listening to them breathe at night, and sigh with relief when everything sounds clear and peaceful.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

In Memoriam

This morning we rejoice because Granny, my husband's maternal grandmother, is no longer feeling pain, and she is in the arms of her savior. She will be missed by those of us who loved her, but we can still feel the joy of knowing that she no longer suffers.

I will always choose to remember Granny from the times that we spent at her house when my kids were little. We walked the block to her place at least once a week, and often more, and my little ones would play with toys that were older than their grandmother, watching out the door in case Papa came home from the farm.

Zaya would put on Papa's hats, and Granny always brought him a mirror so that he could see his own reflection and make sure everything was settled to his satisfaction. She never tired of this service, and I often sat in amazement that the two of them could enjoy the same game every week.

Granny was just that compassionate. She invested all her attention in her visitors and loved to know that the little ones were happy.  Both of my kids spent their very first Sunday on the earth at Granny's house, as their tired Mama could rest and watch the local church service on the cable TV while my mother-in-law, Granny's daughter, held them and soothed their tears with much more efficiency than I ever could.

It's been many years since Granny recognized me or the kids. We were relatively new
additions to the family, and so were some of the first to leave when her memory started to decline with the advance of years. I know in my heart, though, that she loved us, and never for a moment did she refuse the hugs and kisses and smiles of the children when they came to visit. I don't think they would ever have realized that she didn't remember if we adults hadn't brought it up.

I look forward to seeing Granny again someday, and she and I will both laugh about the times we spent together, helping the kids to build with blocks, teaching them not to eat marbles, and letting them put on Papa's big hats.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On With the Show!

Yesterday was one of those unexpected school days that can only happen at home. I had made lesson plans, carefully lining up our learning for the day -  Bible, math, English, spelling, history, etc. - and we got as far as Bible and history. After our history chapter for the day, the kids decided that they wanted to write plays.

Of course it would've been too easy for everyone involved if they had chosen the same subject matter and collaborated. Instead we have two completely separate plays, taking place on two completely separate continents, with only the general time period being similar, but in no way relevant.

Mim wanted her play to be about Catherine the Great, and I don't think anyone should be surprised, at least not anyone who knows her, that she chose an empress as her subject matter, considering that each child was going to star in their own production. Zaya, on the other hand, wanted to write about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin. He is playing the part of a slave named Nicodemu. (The name came from a book about children from around the world. Don't blame me.)

This means costumes, props, and make-up for the court of a Russian noble and the hut of a slave in the South. It also means taking apart my house to find things that are "just right" for each part. Mim still has what looks like a geologist's lab set up in the hall bathroom as she experiments to find the exact sandstone that, when mixed with water and made into a paste, will color Zaya's face and hands for his role as an African slave. (It's just a thing she does. Don't ask. Usually it's make-up or war paint)

 Mim's entire production was written and performed in one day, while Zaya's will be performed later in the week. For one thing, I can only take so much, but it also turns out that it takes a while to build a fake cotton gin and write a full play. Yesterday we got so far as to unroll all the paper towels and scatter broken toothpicks on the floor because we needed the inside tube for the roller and the insufficiently strong toothpicks for the teeth. Pictures of the finished product will be forthcoming, assuming we all survive.

Mim's play was a great success, despite her brother's annoying tendency to jump out of character at the least provocation. It's hard to blame him, though, since his character, Peter (Ulrich)  III, was a drunken lout who dies at the end of the play to the joy of all involved. Mim even roped our neighbor kids into helping and playing their own parts.

I don't see the production hitting Broadway, but it had a good local run, and the audience (Daddy) was most appreciative. He was less appreciative of the state of the house after a full day, and I do mean a full day, of scrounging around for props and other accoutrement of the theater.

It's all learning though, right? No seriously, tell me it's all learning, because if it isn't I just let my children destroy my house, my sanity, and my lesson plans for nothing. I figure I can at least count it for history and writing. I haven't seen my children willingly write that much, in one day, in their lives.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Aunt Hazel!

My mother's family has had the honor, over the last few years, to get to know a new sister. Aunt Hazel, who grew up in the Philippines, married my Uncle Tom, and then was finally able to arrive in the U.S. in December of 2007.

We didn't really know her very well at the time, but we knew Uncle Tom loved her very much and so were excited to welcome her into the family. Over the years she has become an important member or our crazy little clan, and we love her dearly.

She might be a little quiet when there are so many of us together during the holidays, but her smile speaks volumes, and I know she makes my Uncle very happy. And let's be honest, anyone in a room with so many members of the P family is bound to be a little intimidated by the shear impossibility of getting a word in edgewise.

Today I was reminded of how precious she is to us, and to her family back in the Phillippines as well, by a video they made for her where they all gave birthday greetings and then sang for her. They didn't dwell on their separation, but instead sang a praise song and talked about how much they loved her. They made a huge sacrifice when they let their daughter, cousin, sister, friend leave them for the wild unknowns of west Texas. They love and miss her very much, but their love is the truest kind: unselfish and based on the love of Christ.

Hazel has now made herself an integral part of her workplace, her family, and her new country as she completed her citizenship in 2012. She is an inspiration to those of us who take our easy lives for granted. I hope that I will someday be able to say that my own love for others bears half the power of that of Hazel and her family.