Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Days of Bliss

After watching Marley and Me, I decided to dedicate this blog post to our golden retriever, Bliss.

Bliss joined our family very early on, when, about a month or two after the wedding, I started getting anxious to be a mommy. Bliss was supposed to be a remedy to satisfy the baby itch.

Satisfy the baby itch she did not, but she has been THE best dog, the most loyal canine companion a family could ever ask for. So many family memories we have made, she has been a part of, from driving in the car with a little furball puppy's head out the window, to her not wanting to leave her spot under the crib when each of the children were born, to going on a family walk and having to carry her home in the stroller when she got too weak to go any further. Recently it dawned on us that she has stopped freaking out in thunderstorms and she no longer comes when we call her. She is deaf. She also has cataracts and hypothyroidism. She hobbles when she walks, and sometimes she falls and it takes her a while to get back up again. But that doesn't stop her from hobbling down to the pond and taking a swim just about every day or fetching a ball every now and then.

She has gotten so stinky recently that we took her to the groomer and had them shave all her fur off to make it easier to care for her. That is when we found out that along with all of her other ailments, she has also become incontinent. Poor old dog. Believe it or not there is a pill for that and it is working! Thank goodness! I didn't know what I was going to do with an old, loveable, but incontinent dog!

I googled the life expectancy of a golden retriever and the average was about 12 years. She will be 14 soon. I am trying not to dwell on the inevitable.

Here she is, our sweet 14 year old Bliss, enjoying her last days/months/years (?) on the Urban farm. It will surely be a sad day when she is no longer here with us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Snow

Would you believe my 8 year old daughter played soccer in a blizzard this morning? Well it felt like a blizzard anyway. I wish I had a video to share with you here. It was both very sad and very funny. The girls on both teams were ALL crying. Their pants were frozen and they kept falling in the muddy snow. Finally at half time both coaches agreed to call it a game. You think?

Since I am such a baby when it comes to snow, I stayed in with the little ones while John took the older kids outside to play this afternoon. He offered to take pictures for me. Wasn't that sweet of him? We are blessed to have this little snow hill right in our front yard.

I love watching the kids play in the snow, warming their little fingers, and making them hot chocolate for when they come inside, but I absolutely detest the big pile of laundry that is now waiting for me in the laundry room.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Smile for the picture, girls! Thanks for your help, Hope.

What is Hope's job?

I was asked today what is Hope's kitchen job. Well I guess I forgot to mention that Hope does indeed have a kitchen job, it is called "Liesel's helper". This means Liesel gets to boss her around. The reason Liesel gets her own helper is that she has a natural way with child psychology. Last night in the shower she told Hope that ice skaters don't cry when they wash the shampoo out of their hair. That dried up the tears real quick. A couple days ago Liesel told Hope that if she cleaned her room really pretty maybe mommy would take a picture of it for the blog. In the car I often hear Liesel say that whoever has their seatbelt on gets to hold her stuffed animal, things like that. She will be a really good babysitter someday. Remember this in a few years. So after dinner Hope does whatever Liesel asks her to do, usually put away the condiments, take rags to the laundry room, and things like that.

But Hope's main household chore is emptying the trash from the bathrooms and picking up things off the floor. That is about all I trust her with for now. I do not trust her with Windex, Pledge or a vacuum cleaner yet. No way.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Random tidbits

Moses is on his way to Minnesota! I guess he is going to stay in a kennel until he can find something a little more permanent. Thanks to those who are looking around for a home for him. He still needs one.

I broke a molar in half yesterday while eating a Tootsie Roll pop. It was pretty fascinating holding my very own molar and as any other homeschool mom would do, we made a lesson about it. Later Liesel informed me that the tooth fairy had left two quarters under my pillow for me! :)

John rented a rototiller and we spent the weekend plowing rows to plant a nice big garden. I used to think I wanted to marry a farmer and I married a computer programmer instead. Now I get the best of both worlds! I'm so hoping this works out because I'm looking forward to garden-fresh potatoes, onions, tomatoes, corn, and herbs this summer. Mmmmmm.

In our house the rule is, "If you eat, you work". Everybody has an after-dinner job to do, nobody is exempt except for Ava. John clears, Jude wipes down the table and chairs, Liesel puts away leftovers and wipes down counters and cabinets, Simeon sweeps, and I load the dishwasher.

Yesterday we were all surprised to look down and see Ava wiping the cabinets with no prompting! That little copycat! Here is a video for your enjoyment. Guess who has a new job!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking for a foster home for a sweet little boy

I am not sure whether there is anyone who reads this blog in the Minneapolis area, but if there is, I have a special request.

My brother Jason, whose 4-yr.-old son is receiving chemotherapy treatments in Minnesota, will be driving through town tomorrow on his way back home. We are taking care of his dog, Moses, because they are temporarily living with family members and have no place for the dog.

There is a little boy and 3 big sisters who cry for their dog on a regular basis, and are missing him terribly. While we love him too, we know it would be much better for him and for his family if they could all be together.

BY ANY CHANCE is there anybody reading this who lives near Minneapolis who would has a backyard and would love to temporarily foster a sweet chocolate lab so Jason and family can be close to him?

He is a really sweet dog, great with the kids, a fast learner, and eager to please. And he would be so happy to be closer to his boy and his girls! All his food and medical expenses would be covered.

By the way, a couple of people asked for an update on him. He did have another abscess, most likely related to a stick fragment. They drained quite a bit of drainage but were unable to find the source of it. Meanwhile he has responded well to antibiotics and is outside chasing the birds as I type this.

Pretty please.....?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Special Olympics Bowling Champ

I watched this video and couldn't resist sharing....

Special Olympic Champ to Barack: Bring it On!

(Of course, I found it extra intriguing to learn that he was adopted and saved from a mental institution!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ava on the farm

I told you our calf loves to suck on fingers!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Speech therapy

This is Ava in speech therapy yesterday. I've taken plenty of pictures and videos of occupational and physical therapy but I don't think I've ever posted anything from speech therapy. I wanted capture it on video to show John some of the things we do since he has never gotten to experience it. I didn't even notice, but John noticed that she is pretending the spoon is an airplane flying into the baby's mouth (I think?). I don't normally do the airplane spoon thing. But her daddy does, and apparently she likes it. I'm sorry, but this girl cracks me up! I could watch her all day!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yesterday I told Hope she couldn't have any pudding until she ate a bowl of delicious cream of carrot soup. I should have suspected something was up when she was suddenly eager to start serving herself! How do you like that portion size?

I walked by the girls' bathroom to see this sight yesterday. It gave me warm thoughts of 3 future teenage girls sharing a bathroom someday.

Moses woke up yesterday with his neck all swollen and hard again yesterday! Could it be there is still a stick fragment left in there that just decided to react a month later? Poor little guy is going back to the vet (our old vet, not the one he's been to twice) today! :(

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break Fun Day 1-Bowling

Our good friends, the Goffs, invited us for a bowling playdate today. The plan was to meet at the bowling alley, but Melissa broke down with a flat tire on the way, so I just swung by and picked up her 3 oldest kids and headed to the bowling alley while she waited for her husband to rescue her. I loved freaking people out by walking into a building with 8 kids! I couldn't resist taking a photo of all the cute little bowling shoes lined up in a row.

I thought it was so cute how the boys were all flocking to Hope, teaching her to bowl for the first time! She has no idea what a lucky girl she is!

Everybody had a great time. Well....almost everybody!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Updates and pictures

Thank you for your prayers for Barbara and also thanks to those who have asked about her. She has been discharged from the hospital and is apparently doing much better, praise God! I normally do not worry too much about her, she is quite self sufficient, but something in her voice that night told me she needed our prayers. Thank you all again! We will go visit her tomorrow and I promised to help her catch up on some organizing!

The little calf is doing well! We are all becoming quite attached to him! He is just like a little baby, jumps up and starts crying---well mooing, rather, when he sees us coming with bottle in hand, then he sucks it all down and moos for more. We have been letting him out of the barn on nice days and letting him run around. He loves to follow the kids around. One sure way to get him to follow you is to let him suck on your fingers. I've tried that on a kid or two as well. :) Moses has become quite the little protector.

John did buy me my dream camera, a Canon Rebel, for no other reason than that he loves me! I have been anxious to post some of my beautiful photography on here. The manual is, like 2,000 pages long though, and I feel like I have to read every word before I actually start using it because I wouldn't want to mess up on such a nice camera. I did experiment a little bit in the meantime and got some really great pictures of the kids playing with the calf and the chicks, some of the first soccer game, and the dog getting a bath on the first nice day of spring. However I followed the instruction manual word for word, and when it said to format, format I did, erasing all my beautiful photography. Maybe I should have just stuck with a point and shoot camera for dummies.

The Wrights came over last week to write and sign a Declaration of Independence, using quill and ink of course. OK so it wasn't actually ink, it was black paint. Same difference, right?

These two lefties got to experience first hand the wonder of the invention of the ball point pen. If you're left handed maybe you can relate. If not, think about it.

I got to try out my super duper zooming lens when two deer appeared in the front yard this morning. I loved watching Moses' cock his head to the side briefly, then instinctively dash through the fence to chase them.

And last but not least....I wanted to share this recent picture of Yulia. Isn't she beautiful? When I look at her face, I see my own daughter's face, and I can't help but think of the joy that somebody is missing out on by not having her in their lives. I know Yulia will do the same for someone else. Surely there is somebody out there who could use a little joy and fulfillment in their life! Could it be you? She has a grant of over $3,000 now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Prayers for Barbara

I just want to ask for your prayers. The lady we visit weekly at the nursing home, Barbara, just called and said she is being transferred to the hospital. She is young, only in her 50s, and is in severe congestive heart failure and kidney failure and the doctors are extremely concerned about her. I have one kid down for the night and John is out for worship practice otherwise I'd be on my way to the hospital to be with her. We love her dearly! She has become like family to us. Please pray for our sweet Ms. Barbara!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yay! The foot insert replacements came today!!


"Look Mom, no hands!"

"Alright, that's enough for now Mom! I'm worn out..."

Friday, March 6, 2009


Does it look like we are ever going to be able to eat these things????

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Practicing delayed gratification

I know everyone is anxious to see Ava using her new walker....I am too.

Two problems.

Problem 1: There is a certain canine living in the house that has a bad habit of chewing on whatever he finds laying around, as well as a little 4 yr. old girl living in the house that has a habit of taking the shoes off another certain little girl and leaving them laying around the floor. Unfortunately the super special and important foot support/inserts got left on the floor last week and a certain brown lab chewed them into smitherines. A replacement has been ordered, but meanwhile there won't be any attempts at walking, as Ava's feet are so SO low-arched, tiny and wobbly without them. I expect them to be here in a week or two.

Problem 2: I haven't bought a camera replacement as of yet. John did tell me he "had to make a quick stop" on our way home from soccer practice, he does love to surprise me (as you learned when he brought me home 2 cows and 10 chicks on Saturday). Could it be a camera? Maybe a goat or a pig? I shall know soon. Have I mentioned lately how much I love that guy?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This is the result of reading three chapters, instead of our usual two chapters of The Red Fern Grows in our read aloud the other day......What I don't have captured in the picture is the two dogs and Ava asleep on the floor right next to them. I must be a REALLY monotone reader!

A couple of mornings ago I was really upset with Hope for getting in the crib with Ava and waking her up at 7:30 when I had put her to bed SO late the night before. I said, "Hope I am really upset with you for waking Ava up!" She responded, "I didn't wake her up. Look mom, it's morning! I can't make the sun come up and make it morning!"

This girl absolutely cannot keep her hands off the little chicks, which are living in our house at the moment until we can figure out where else to put them!

I told you that Ava makes a pretend baby doll out of everything. Here she is, just singing away to her empty Windex baby that she found in the recycling box.

And sorry to anyone who was wanting to make plans to take me out to lunch some time in March. Thanks to Hope I am completely booked up for the entire month. Thanks Hope!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For Rachel

One of the blessings of having a child with a disability is the many friends that you make along the way. Some of those are friends we see every Tuesday afternoon at therapy. We had the option after we moved in September to switch over to a therapy center just up the street from us. Instead, we choose to make the 30-minute drive every week to see our favorite therapists.

Rachel, our occupational therapist, was the winner of my camera, and I got to hand deliver it to her today. I was so happy to find out that the camera will be used at the therapy center to document the progress of the children she treats.

I am particularly fond of Rachel because she shares my love for orphans as well as my love for kids with disabilities. I especially like her because, sometimes when Ava surprises us both with some new accomplishment, I look over at Rachel through my watery eyes, and I see her eyes tearing up too. I know she shares my sense of pride in every one of Ava's accomplishments.

One of the most meaningful blog comments was left by Rachel a couple of weeks ago after I posted the video of Ava singing to her baby doll:

I am blessed to see your Ava every week. So many changes that we can document on paper and submit to the insurance company to prove that they should keep paying for therapy....but what I like most of all is what we see in the video...to know love, to express love - now that is a skill that the insurance companies don't care about, but it is what her new life is filled abundantly with.

Thanks again Rachel for what you do day after day to help Ava and kids like her. You are truly gifted in what you do and I am so thankful for you (and the others too, of course, but I know they won't reading this!)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Farmer wanna-be's

John surprised us all over the weekend with this!

Meet Buddy the Calf......

We ended up going back for a second calf, which died the next day. :( We had a couple of little heartbroken cowgirls but we quickly decided we are not going to give up so quick. I went about three times to check on Buddy last night since it was his first night to spend alone in the barn. Can you believe we actually talked about bringing him into the laundry room for the night since it got down in the 20's? Maybe we are not cut out to be farmers after all but it is sure fun trying. Let me tell you how nice it has been to have farmer-friends!

When John came back from buying bottles and calf formula from the feed store, look what else he picked up while he was there. I think I'm going to be too busy to blog for awhile. Anybody wanna come for a tour of the Urban Funny Farm?