Saturday, September 29, 2007

Princess Tea Party

Betsy turned 6 on the 20th of October and, that being an even age, got to have a party. We decided on a Princess Tea Party at our house. Her preparations began about a month ago when she found a recipe for tea cookies in a magazine at Ruth's therapy. She politely asked the receptionist to photocopy it for her and the ideas have been flying ever since. On the day of the party we kicked out Daddy and all the boys who spent the afternoon running errands and enjoying THAT place (Chuck E. Cheese - ewwww).

When the girls arrived (they had been instructed to wear whatever makes them feel like a princess) we greeted them with bubbles and a bottle of nail polish. I painted nails while they ran around playing Princess Tag. We had a princess wand which was presented to the Princess. If a player was touched with the wand she had to freeze until a playmate tagged her free (a royal twist to an old favorite). I then brought out Cinderella's one glass slipper and instructed the girls that the other slipping was missing and they must hunt for it. After a brief romp about the yard Miriam was able to locate the missing footwear and earned herself a darling little pair of plastic heels.

From there we went inside where the girls gathered around a table and each made a necklace and a bracelet with beads of various pinkish hues.

Then it was time for the actual tea. Betsy and I had set the table with our prettiest table cloth and cloth napkins and each guest had a keepsake tea cup and one of our carefully made tea cookies. Instead of actual tea we had pitchers of pear juice and lemonade. The girls practiced passing cookies politely and using words like "Dawling" and "Maaavelous". Then Betsy opened up a pretty white box on the table which contained conversation starters. As the hostess of the party, she was responsible for keeping the conversation lively. She read off such things as "Oh dawling, how *is* your mother?" and "Isn't that Patrick just simply divine?"

I made a heart-shaped ice cream cake with pink whipped cream icing which didn't look nearly as pretty as the rest of the faire at the table but Betsy was thrilled with it. We sang Happy Birthday, ate cake, opened presents and sent our guests home bearing new little beaded purses and their little teacups and saucers. As a bonus, Kaitlyn and Abby stuck around for some time after the party and the girls got some play time with their favorite girly cousins. The whole affair was simply maaavelous!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bladder Adjustment

Ok, this may go under the Too Much Information classification but I am just fascinated with this idea. It all started way long ago in elem school when I was told I had a mild case of scoliosis. I was carted to a couple of doctors who did absolutely nothing for me except to tell me to do abdominal exercises to strengthen my abs so I could use them to straighten out my posture. I have done those exercises faithfully on and off for years but each time I did them for a long period of time I would end up with improved posture and chronic *lower* back pain. forward to last January. I went to the chiropractor to find out if *he* could help me with my posture by somehow manipulating all those little vertebrae and making them stand up to attention. Guess what he told me? Go strengthen your abs and come back to me. Hmmmm...

So I joined Curves, faithfully went my 3 days a week and guess what happened... improved posture, chronic lower back pain. After about 6 months of that and reaching the point to where the back pain was becoming unbearable, I returned to the chiropractor. He told me he suspects that due to a congenital deformity my spine is actually too curved at the bottom so when I stand up straight my vertebrae are rubbing together unnaturally, thus the back pain. He does think he can help me but that's sort of another story....

Now, when I went to him this morning I was in pain but I told him I am always in pain in the morning and it seems to be related to my bladder. During my labor with Nathan I managed to hold in quite a bit throughout the whole labor rather than emptying my bladder regularly and that made for what seemed like a bladder injury when I started to push. Ever since then, my bladder has ached throughout the night unless I get up regularly to empty it and, somehow, just makes that back pain worse.

So guess what he did?! Adjusted my bladder! He just reached right there and gave it a few good weird is that? But the weirder part is, so far it's worked! No bladder pain all day! Now for those of you familiar chiropractics you might not find this so surprising but I am just tickled pink with the idea....Who knew all these years all I really needed was a Bladder Adjustment and I thought it was my Attitude that needed adjusting!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mr. Egghead

We came back from vacation and harvested what remained in the garden. That included a shirt-tail full of peppers and plum tomatoes, 3 weenie watermelons the size of golf balls and one the size of a softball and this eggplant, the only survivor of 3 eggplant plants: We were delighted to see that God had given him a pointy little nose and he quickly became part of the family. Here he is posing for his family portraits. There has been some discussion of making him the star of an animated short set on our kitchen counter (don't tell the VeggieTales folks). My dear husband suggested I try to sell him on e-bay and be sure to link my blog so I, too, can get thousands of adoring fans reading my witty and yet insightful remarks. I think we'll just cook him for dinner tomorrow night with our pork roast....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vacation '07!

We had a lovely time on our vacation. This year we decided to do something for the girls and traveled to the Outer Banks via Chincoteague to get a glimpse at some ponies. Fr. Joel was determined to pack 13 bodies and all our stuff into one vehicle without a trailer on the back. So we stuffed all we could onto and under seats and then crammed 2 rooftop carriers full and added a shelf to the trailer hitch on the back for coolers and a large container of ocean-faring paraphernalia. I was impressed. We even managed to pull out (relatively) as scheduled on Thursday evening.

It was a bit of a trick getting a place to stay in Chincoteague. We finally settled on a motel where we reserved a 2 bedroom efficiency and a 2 bedroom cottage which worked well with a bit of creative arranging of sleeping bodies. Adora, Nehemiah and the big boys got the efficiency (of course now that John Michael is 4 he fashions himself one of the "big" boys) while we got Nathan, the girls, and David in the cottage. We quickly realized the drawback to our packing methods when we pulled into the hotel nearing 10:30 at night and our luggage was sorted by size rather than by future destination. We crashed into bed with a day and a half ahead of us to explore the wilds of Southern Maryland.

Friday got up and explored our immediate surroundings. The motel had a nice little playground area which served us well while the grown-ups made runs to the local Dollar Store for essentials. We ventured to the beach and got our first glimpse of the ocean. Nathan immediately decided he didn't want to have much to do with that and Adora wasn't far behind him. She had a rather sullen pout in her beach chair holding a sleeping and hot Nehemiah while the rest of us whooped it up in the sun, sand and water.

Of course, you can't do that part of the world without taking in the sights which has to include wild ponies. The girls and I had been preparing for this each evening for months with our daily readings from Misty of Chincoteague and I was determined to get them a glimpse at the ponies. So after a day at the beach, Daddy took the "big" boys to the motel pool while Adora and I took the twins and the girls on a bus ride through the areas of the state park reserved only for employees and special tour guides. Nehemiah once again fell quickly asleep while Nathan grew more and more restless. We found ourselves surrounded by a group holding a family reunion who decided to adopt Nathan into the family. The grafting in complete, Nate began to crawl contentedly up and down the aisle of the bus visiting the likes of Cousin Jim and Aunt Carole who would announce his arrival at the back of the bus with a loud "I've got Nathan! He's coming your way Grandpa Bill!" We did indeed see lots of ponies as well as equally as many deer, a hand full of rabbits and lots of birds.

Saturday morning we got up and packed up the van again, stopped off for local shopping and donuts and then hit up the NASA Visitor's Center on our way down to North Carolina. We arrived at our rental house just shortly before our friends joined us for the week. We were staying on the same street as the friends with whom we stayed last year except this year we had a house to ourselves to which we had invited a family from church. So we had beach access via our friends across the street and they had access to the pool at our house. It worked out beautifully.

We began our ocean side vacation with a nice little mass in the living room. The kids read the lessons, JT served as acolyte and John led the music with his guitar. It was really nice.

Tuesday was Dinner:Impossible! night for Adora. Every since we got addicted to the show on the Food Network we've been ribbing Adora about her own Dinner Impossible mission. Tuesday morning we presented her with her surprise mission - to plan and prepare a poolside party for 21 children and 3 adults to include an array of stromboli by 6:00pm. The reception of her mission was met with tears and Adora's backside retreating to her room. Unbeknown st to me Adora had gotten in her mind her first Dinner Impossible mission was actually going to be Thanksgiving dinner for Fr. Joel's family. She wasa bit insulted to be given a mere pool party for the young 'uns when she'd already been dreaming up deep fried turkeys and pumpkin pie. I'd walked into an emotional land mine and realized Adora's heart had been set on redeeming the miserable Thanksgiving she'd had the year before with her family by cooking up a whiz bang meal for ours. I do love her heart.

At any rate, I didn't make the mission any easier by getting Clifford stuck in the sand on our way out to the grocery store (score minus 2 for me that day - I later also managed to drown my cellphone in the pool). We abandoned the husbands to the task of digging the van out (and I understand JT was a tremendous help as well), and Jenifer to the task of feeding lunch to all the kiddo-s while we ran to the grocery store and returned with just barely 2 hours before the evening deadline. Adora did a great job putting it all together for the kids and we were able to usher John and Jenifer and Brett and Terri out the door while we entertained all the children poolside. The food made, Adora collapsed in a poolside pout while Fr. Joel cranked up the VeggieTunes. It was great fun to have the pool available for all the kids to gather and enjoy themselves. They especially enjoyed jumping from hot tub to pool to hot tub while eating pizza and stromboli and listening to their tunes. We have a couple of great video shots of the boys dancing to VeggieTales tunes that we'll be saving for blackmail material later. The rest of the pics will be embarrassing enough for now...
We got in loads of beach time. John led daily early morning excursions in search of shells and critters which always yielded some neat show and tell upon their return. Ben, being our morning guy, was especially fond of these sunrise trysts. Then we would head out to the beach, come home in time for lunch or naps for the littles and head back out for more ocean. Jenifer just couldn't get enough of the ocean while the kids came up with some pretty neat sand castle creations. The most elaborate one involving three separate garrisons with a labyrinth of channels connecting them. We didn't see much of the tropical storm supposedly brewing in our exact area but by mid-week the ocean had washed ashore tons of dead jellyfish. After a day or so of treating their gelatinous carcasses with some small respect our regiment of boys began thinking up some more...creative...uses for them. I'll just leave that to the imagination but I did have to draw the line when they suggested serving jelly donuts for breakfast.

I caught some good waves on the boogie board but the highlight of the week was the night we got shooed out of the house for an evening to ourselves. Jen, John and Adora held down the fort while my beloved and I took a sunset ride on a sail boat. It was a lovely 2 hours of gliding on the water and chatting and worrying about nothing. We followed that up with a trip to a bookstore and of course ended the evening with dinner at Mako Mike's - it wouldn't be the Outer Banks without a date under the big swordfish. What a treat!

Thursday was Miah's birthday which we celebrated with a birthday dinner of pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon. He got to lick the beater and really seemed to enjoy his fire engine chocolate cake. Jen thought of livening up the party with some animal masks which everyone donned for the gift opening. Happy Birthday Little Man!

The whole week was a nice, relaxing (well, as much as anyone is able to relax in the midst of 12 active children) time of doing just what we wanted to do. We got to spend time with some good friends, relax and slow down the pace to match our own desires. It was a sad, sad day on Monday. I knew without a doubt vacation was over when the beard came off Fr. Joel's face and along with it the end of our brief respite from the "real" world.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gr...Between a Rock and A Hard Place

I took Betsy to the dentist this morning...for the second time in the past month. You see, last month I took her to the dentist and her dentist, an admittedly hyperactive nut-case of a man, went immediately into shock and dismay to find 11 different sites in her mouth involving 3 quadrants which, in his mind, required immediate attention lest the teeth begin to rot out of her mouth. I sat down with their billing rep and was informed that the best case scenario for said work would be around $2,000 since this particular dentist is out of our insurance "network" (someday I may get up the courage to blog about "insurance networks" but that's a different rant...). Soooo I was given four choices: 1. Don't do anything and let the teeth rot out of her mouth 2. Only fix the permanent teeth - she'll be losing the temporary ones in about 5 years anyway - and hope that the rot doesn't spread 3. Go immediately to surgery and fix it all for $2,000 or 4. Get a second opinion

Being the resourceful mom that I am I chose Option Four. I took a look at my "in-network providers" list, asked around town for some recommendations and settled on a dentist office with a glowing reputation among my neighbors. When I called the receptionist, she was very understanding, even gave me an "Oh yes, I used to work for Dr. B. If you liked him, you're going to love our dentists and we can do the work for a mere $150." I liked this woman already and in the process of the liking I totally missed the Red Flag.

So I called Dr. B and told him about The Plan for a Second Opinion. I told him where I was going and assured him that I would let them do all the Big, bad work and he would still be the Nice Guy dentist. Then Dr. B said the oddest thing. He said, "Well what happens when they do it wrong?" I was taken aback for a moment and I replied, "I'm certainly hoping they will do it right." To which his response was, "Well I hope so too."

On to Dentist Number Two. If I missed it before I should have spotted it right off when the hygienist came in and began taking Betsy's history. I mentioned Dr. B and his dark prognosis for the state of Boo's mouth and she quickly commented something to the effect of, "Yes, we know Dr. B and I'm not sure we're going to agree." X-rays were taken and we waited for a moment.

Enter The Dentist - a rather Spanish Looking Woman (Dr. B is a very White Jewish Man I might add as an aside). This woman took a rather cursory glance at the xrays, grilled me on Dr. B's opinion of the matter and then scoffed loudly and said, "He was going to do all this work?! NOw?! Well, I'm not going to touch a thing. Bring her back to Me in 6 months and we'll take more xrays and watch it." Grrrr...

This wasn't The Plan. I guess I got my Second Opinion but now they have assumed Betsy as Her Patient. And it turns out, they don't just know Dr. B - the whole office left Dr. B to start their own thing, obviously under some level of tension and disagreement. All my resourceful neighborly recommendations had failed to turn up this information.

My best uneducated guess is that the severity of Betsy's problem actually lies somewhere between the two dentists' opinions. I'm pretty durn irritated, however, that two professed professionals should use my daughter's mouth as the battleground for their personal vendettas. And I have to admit, I was just downright naive. I was off my game. Doctors are my business and I learned long ago not to trust them...I missed all the Red Flags and now I have to take sides. I refuse to find a new dentist because I love Dr. B and all the folks who work in his office. They like my children. They know me. So what to do....sigh.....

PS. That's the end of my rant but remember that I'm a woman - I don't really want an answer to that question at the end there - I just want some sympathy.