Tuesday, September 22, 2015

One Pumpkin

Andrew went out one morning this past weekend to find that one of the pumpkins was no longer attached to the vine. He thought some animal had been chewing on the stem. So, he brought it in and put it in the attic to season. He had read that if your pumpkins fall off the vine too early, just put them in the attic and leave them a few weeks and they will turn orange. This first one was orange but still had some green on it. 

We are now wondering if it just fell of naturally or an animal got to it.  We have never grown pumpkins so don't know much about them. We were kind of hoping it would grow a little bigger, but at least it survived and Andrew can carve it at our pumpkin carving. 

The second one is still on the vine and we are hoping it will grow a lot bigger. Every morning the kids run to the family room window to see how the last pumpkin is doing. 

Sunday we sat on the porch most of the afternoon and the kids rode bikes and played in the front yard. I got my camera and took a few pictures. It was a beautiful afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bella loves being outside. She also likes having her picture taken -- most of the time. 

Claire at the edge of the sidewalk watching kids ride bikes.

Caroline had them practicing their dance moves and even Bella joined in.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


So I went in to change some things and add some things on my post about Sophia and accidentally deleted the entire post. Then I went back and did it over again and realized there was an error and I couldn’t publish. Now I am trying again. Sophia doesn’t change a lot, but I do have little bits of news. She still has very little interest in eating, but we can usually get her food in her if we stick to yogurt and a few baby fruits and sweet potatoes. She drinks PediaSure for calories and vitamins. She will also eat a little meat -- baby food. But, feeding time is not usually fun. It can be very difficult. One of the things I had wanted to add was that she is very picky about who feeds her. It is actually strange. If the right person doesn’t feed her she will actually refuse to eat.

We have had a hard time with her eczema lately. It started off with a few patches and turned into a total body take over. It was terrible. We have had several prescriptions that haven't worked, but we just got something new that seems to help. We use it several times a day and then she is covered with an oil and thick cream at bedtime. This seems to be helping, but it has been a battle. We also have a new prescription to help with itching. Funny that it just developed this year. I'm not sure why, unless it is her very limited diet. 

She still doesn't like to go anywhere. Not therapy or church or basically anywhere. When we get in the car for therapy, she usually yells most of the way there  --  her way of telling me she wants to be home.

She had a hard spring and summer -- a lot of yelling and noises and seemingly discontent. But, all of a sudden about a week or so ago she started to seem more interested in things and she has been looking around at what is going on and scooting around all by herself. She has stopped spending her days yelling and just seems a little more interested in life. I have no idea why, but it is nice. She does seem to go through moods. 

She just seems more engaged this past week or so. Looking at what we are doing instead of rocking back and forth. Even laughing at what the other kids are doing. This has come on so suddenly and unexpectedly that I am actually afraid that it will end just as quickly as it came.. It is so nice to feel like she might want to be involved in what we are doing. She seems a little more alive. We did nothing to cause this. One day I just realized that she was quiet and watching -- really watching. Not sure this will last, but I hope so. This isn't the first time she has seemed to be a little more connected with us -- it seems to come and go. But, this time seems to be a little different -- maybe just my imagination. I will enjoy this while I can.

I think that if I had to name her favorite thing to do it would be to have Bethany or Claire play with her -- rough play. Holding her hands and pulling her back and forth and back and forth. She loves movement. She still chews on her poor hand and we can not keep her hair out of her mouth most of the time. She wears her arm brace a lot of the time to keep her hand from getting chewed on till it bleeds. We actually have not had to use the brace this past week. That has been nice for her and it also is better because of her eczema -- the arm brace makes it worse. 

 She still won't really look at me when I rock her and I'm not sure why. She will look at me from the floor, but if I pick her up to rock and try to really look into her eyes and talk to her she does everything she can to arch back and look away. But, if I put her down, she will look up at me for a few seconds. I guess everything takes more time than we think it will. But, today Sophia seems happy and involved  -- happier than she has been all summer. A real blessing for sure. 

Oh, and she doesn't like me to take her picture. Well, I'm not sure if she does or doesn't, but just know that whenever I try to get her picture she seems to do everything she can to not look my way and is pretty successful most of the time. But, I usually manage to get a couple even without her cooperation. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What We Are Reading

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me. 
Strickland Gillilan

I try to read to my kids as much as I can, but tend to fall short of my well laid plans. But, we did spend some time reading together this past summer. We started with Song of The Brook by Matilda Nordtvedt which is the sequel to Secret in the Maple Tree. It was good and I think everyone enjoyed it.

Then we read Ocean Secrets by Tracy Kane and Genevieve Aichele. It was another fairy book mystery and Bethany loves fairy books -- so it was a hit. Sarah and Caroline didn't listen after the first chapter -- totally lost interest. But, they lose interest in many of the books I read. 

We read The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer and it was a real favorite. I really enjoyed reading this book to the kids. It is the story of a family that learns to work together through bad times. The father learns that he is losing his job as a trolley car operator because they are being replaced by buses. He is given the trolley car that he drove for many years as his severance pay.The family then moves the trolley car out to the country to live in for the summer while the father looks for another job. They even convince their grumpy neighbor to go with them. So, they set to work fixing up the trolley, making improvements and gardening. They don't have much money, but they work together and enjoy this new adventure -- wonderful family story. 

We read Betsy's Play School by Carolyn Haywood because Bethany will listen to Carolyn Haywood books over and over and over. She convinced me to read this again this summer even though I think I have read it to her three times.

We read Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Brink and I'm sure most people have read this book. We enjoyed it but it wasn't my favorite -- Bethany and Andrew liked it. Sarah and Caroline lost interest. 

Then we read Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. My older girls told me this was a good book so I picked it to read. I have to say that I know so many people say this is a great book, but I just didn't like it very much -- I don't know why. Bethany said it was good, but I could not get into this book at all. 

We are now reading Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace and I love this book. The kids all like it, too. I'm sure most people have read this at one time or another. I read it when I was a child and have read it to almost all of my older kids. I think I just read this to the kids a year or two ago, but we will read it again as they really like it and so do I. 

Bethany making pillows -- for family members and her dollhouse.

Bella and granddaughter, Reagan, playing in the sandbox.

Reagan and my grandson, Joshua. 

Joshua loves to play in the sand.

Abigail and I took a walk in the downtown area this summer and I took this picture because I liked the sidewalk and the trees. It was really a pretty area, but houses too close for a large family like ours.

Bella -- she has gotten so big. She is no longer the baby we brought home from Bulgaria two years ago. She was such a baby then -- even though she was almost three. Now she is definitely a big girl.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

This Past Week

I had several things I wanted to post that happened this past week, but I have been slow to get around to it. First, last Sunday our granddaughter, Madelyn, was dedicated at our church. I think she looks beautiful. I chose a picture of her outside after the dedication as it was one of my favorites -- she looks so sweet in her new dress from her great-grandparents. It is so wonderful to have her and her mom and dad and brother at church with us every Sunday. We are blessed. 

Then I would like to welcome little Evelyn Grace -- our newest granddaughter. I think she is also very beautiful -- I love this picture of her from the day she was born. She arrived last Wednesday. I haven't actually met her as we live so far away, but at least ,for now, I have pictures. Welcome, sweetheart. 

Then lastly, we signed Bella up for dance and she is so excited. We went and got her dance clothes and she couldn't wait to try them on and dance around the room. Tomorrow she will have her very first class and I think Sarah, Caroline and Claire are as excited as Bella. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Two Pumpkins

Sometime back in the summer, after Andrew planted the flowers, we noticed a strange vine growing that we had not planted. It wasn't long and we realized it was a pumpkin vine. Apparently, the seeds that were thrown out in the yard at our pumpkin carving last fall came to life this summer -- at least that is what we think. I almost pulled the vine out as I cared nothing about growing a pumpkin -- especially in our flower garden. But, Andrew and Bethany wanted to leave it so I figured why not.

We finally had four small pumpkins and even though we gave them very little attention they continued to grow. One morning Andrew came in after checking them and said something had gotten one of the little pumpkins and had eaten a hole in it. Then a few days later the second pumpkin had a large hole in it. We had no idea what was getting them. 

By this time I had grown rather fond of Andrew's idea that he and Bethany could carve a pumpkin at our annual pumpkin carving party that they had actually grown themselves. So, we started researching ways to keep animals and bugs away from the last two pumpkins. 

We read to put dryer sheets on sticks and the smell would keep deer and other animals out. Not sure if this is true, but we did it. Then Andrew made up some kind of pepper spray that he read would work and sprayed the leaves and around the pumpkins. So far so good.

The thing we can't figure out is why they are so bumpy and warty looking. We never bought any pumpkins that looked like these -- at least I don't remember having any. But, if they didn't come from our pumpkin carving seeds then where would they have come from? Can't figure. I just hope nothing gets these last two as Bethany and Andrew will be heartbroken. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

More Dollhouse

 One of my readers had some really good suggestions for the dollhouse Bethany was making -- using scrapbook paper for wallpaper being one of them. Bethany loved the idea and so did I. So, we went to A.C. Moore and she picked out some scrapbook paper to put on the walls. She had so much fun picking it out -- and took soooo long. She ended up with three different designs -- two for bedrooms and she said the other was for the family room. 

 Andrew decided he would help her and he measured and cut all of the wallpaper. He even helped put some of it on the walls.

 This was a wonderful idea and they spent several days working on the house. Below are the shingles they decided the roof needed.

 Bethany cutting shingles and putting them on the roof.

 One unfortunate thing happened. Bethany had put the dollhouse under the kitchen desk to store it after she had worked on it. Sophia got a hold of it before we realized what she was doing and did pull it apart a little bit and made the floors a little uneven as she jerked it around -- not like this little house is real sturdy. But, Bethany didn't seem to mind too much -- sagging floors and a little ripping off of stuff didn't make her like her house any less. She just kept on making furniture and carpets and pretty much ignored the fact that her house looked a little crooked. Not sure I like her choice of purple carpet but she insisted.

 They spent an entire day working on this and parts of several other days. I don't have pictures of most of the furniture yet, but they used Bethany's albuterol and hyper-sal boxes to make a bed and maybe a stove and several other things. Bethany decided to make some pillows and made around three or four for the beds. The bed below was not finished yet, but she was in the process of making the bedroom furniture.

 I am so glad the wallpaper idea was suggested to me as I would never have thought of that and Bethany didn't even know what scrapbook paper was until I showed her.

 This became such a project that several of the other kids wanted to join in. And the great thing is that we basically spent a few dollars for this project and they thought it all up themselves -- with a little help from a reader.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cake Decorating

For Zola's 16th birthday she got a Wilton cake decorating kit. She has always loved to bake and had mentioned that she would like to learn how to decorate cakes. It took her no time to make a cake and then start making the frosting to decorate.

She then practiced making flowers and put them on a pan to use later.

Then she started the process of decorating her cake.

I don't know exactly what she did to get everything on and together, but she seemed to have a pretty good idea of what to do.

I think she did a pretty good job for her first time using the kit. I know my cake wouldn't have looked nearly as good -- for sure.