Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Hailey

I know I'm terribly late at this, but our Hailey turned 7 recently! We were out of town helping my FIL on her birthday so we celebrated when we got home.
She makes great funny faces, doesn't she?
Her main gift was holes in her ears. And the earrings to go in them. She wanted the earrings soooo bad, but stewed about it all the way to the mall to get the ears pierced. With only an "Oh!" (or three of five) she was done and informing her little sister that "it only hurt a little bit."
We love you, Hailey!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Off!

My cast is gone! I can't tell you how glad I am to be rid of it! I have been dreaming for weeks now of a real shower and sleeping without having to contort my back into a weird angle because of the cast.

I am in a break boot, with a custom made arch support in it. In about a week, I'll start putting the insert into a regular tennis shoe for a bit, slowly working up to wearing regular shoes all the time.

Unfortunately, I now have "high maintenance feet" and will probably never be able to go for long periods of time barefoot. However, there are several types of sandals I will eventually be able to wear. (Can you say show shopping?) I may also always have to have the arch supports in order to keep my foot from getting any worse.

Of course, we still don't know if I will need surgery. The tendon pain is gone for now, but we don't yet know how it will respond to regular use. Once I get back to using it and going about my normal working-out, on-my-feet-to-run-the-house schedule, we'll be able to judge whether I need the surgery. I am sure praying not - the surgery is a major deal!

Now, I'm off to go soak in the tub for a while and scrub this foot and then drown it in lotion. You don't even want to know what a foot looks like after being in a cast for over 7 weeks!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pack Rats

No, I didn't disappear off the face of the earth. We spent the weekend with my father-in-law, helping him with several projects. The three main ones were: helping him do some things around the house to help get it in house-selling shape, loading up a few pieces of furniture and other larger keepsakes into a u-haul trailer to bring home, and going through some of my mother-in-law's belongings to start the downsizing process.

I think I have made it abundantly clear that I love my mother-in-law. She was like a second mother and more than that, a friend. However, one of her less like-able characteristics was her penchant for being a pack rat.

Don't get me wrong, she wasn't anything like some of the horror shows on tv where every room in the house was packed with trash and un-opened boxes from Amazon. However, the attic and every closet of their five bedroom house was packed with boxes that we had to go through to determine if the stuff in it was needed. Most of the boxes were relatively organized and most were labeled, but it was still a daunting task.

When asked about this penchant, Vickie would always insist, "I only keep what I need." Well, this lady, who in recent years was doing good just to get a Christmas tree up, had no less than 20 boxes of Christmas decorations, lights, ornaments, villages, cards, bows, wreaths... One box had five boxes in it, each of which had potpourri warmers in them. Several boxes had printed off emails and I think she kept every greeting card or letter ever sent to her. She was an accountant, and she kept every receipt, bill, letter from an insurance company, you name it, going back far past the 7 years required by the IRS.

She was also an avid quilter, and evidently lived by the axiom "She who dies with the most fabric wins." I think she won. Seriously though, I inherited her sewing machine and serger as well as many of her sewing implements, though much of her stash is also going to her mom. And I had to separate that all out. When we were done we have one bedroom stuffed with items being donated to a local charity.

In all seriousness, this is the first time I've had to go through the belongings like this and it was hard, for all of us. It also made me want to go through my house and throw away half of everything in it. I think I'm going to make it easier on my kids and just give away or sell everything when I turn 80 and live in a motor home with nothing but microwave meals and a couple of changes of clothes until the Lord takes me home.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dancing in the Rain

The other day, something spectacular happened. Something out of this world, hasn't happened in nearly two years kind of spectacular.

It. Rained.

Hard and long. For those of you not in south Texas, I hope you can imagine how parched we all are down here. Then last week, it rained for several days in a row. On Wednesday it rained in fits and starts. Then on Thursday, it started raining about 11:15 and didn't stop for hours. It was heaven.

When it started we all had to go out to the front porch just to watch the spectacle. I'm not sure Lauryn could ever remember rain like this and I know it hadn't rained like this in Ashlynn's lifetime!

First we just watched and marveled.
Then we had to reach out and catch some of this marvelous stuff.
Then there were some tentative dashes under the deluge.
Ashlynn liked it!
Pretty soon we were baby-stepping it onto the steps.
Next thing I know ALL SIX of them we doing this.
And this.
Eventually, Aubrey brought Ashlynn into me shivering. Lauryn came in too, not liking being cold and wet. But Ashlynn rather resented being brought in! I dried her off and stripped her of her wet clothes, and then she cried to be let back outside!

Meanwhile, the older four were doing this.
And this.
I was told later that Hailey was waving wildly to the couple of cars that passed by our house during this time. I half expected to get a call from CPS that afternoon.

But truth be told, I wished I could have gotten out with them in their impromptu recess in the rain (I couldn't because of my cast). I love rainy days, and something about the months of drought made my soul feel as parched as the land around here. And I think the girls will always remember the day they went out and danced in the rain.

Friday, September 11, 2009


OK, you guys need to loosen up! Don't you know a good time when you see one? What could be more fun than testing your knowledge about an important turning point in our nations history?

My FIL emailed me all his answers - which he got right, even though he had to look a few up. So since I am semi-OCD I cannot leave a quiz unanswered. So here are the answers I'm sure you're dying to know:

1. Marye's Heights - Fredericksburg, Confederate victory

2. Bloody Angle - Spotsylvania, Confederate victory. See explanation about the mule shoe below.

3. Little Round Top - Gettysburg, Union victory. This is the hill that Joshua Chamberlain, out of ammunition, had his soldiers defend with a downhill bayonet charge.

4. Hornet's Nest - Shiloh, Union victory. Confederates surprised the daylights out of the union troops, but reinforcements allowed Grant defeat the South, killing one of the best generals in Southern arms.

5. Elkhorn Tavern - Battle of Pea Ridge, Union victory in Arkansas in the early days of the war.

6. Ezra Church - Atlanta campaign, Union victory. One of a series of battles as Sherman maneuvered his way into taking Atlanta. this particular battle took place near a tiny country church.

7. Bloody Lane - Antietam/Spotsylvania, militarily a draw, but politically a Union victory because Lee's army had to abandon its northern invasion and retreat back to Confederate territory. This was enough of a victory for Lincoln to follow it up by issuing the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

8. Lee & Gordon's mill - Chickamauga, Confederate victory.

9. the Crater - siege of Petersburg, in the last months of the war Grant's army and Lee's army faced each other in miles of trenches. Some Union miners and engineers built a tunnel under their lines across to the Rebel lines. they packed it with explosives and blew a huge hole in Lee's lines. However, first-class bungling by the officers in charge of the troops intended to exploit the hole caused it to be a first-class embarrassment for the Union.

10. Hell Hole -New Hope church battle, Atlanta campaign, considered a Confederate tactical win, but the Atlanta campaign as a whole was a Union victory. This set-back did not stop Sherman's armies for long.

11. Dunker Church - Antietam/Sharpsburg, see number 7.

12. Stone wall - I would have taken two different answers on this one. There was a stone wall at the battle of Frederickburg which Confederate soldiers stood behind to repel the Union attack. The most famous "stone wall" of course was a person - T.J. Jackson. He got the name at the 1st battle of Bull Run/Manassas when his brigade took a position at the top of a ridge just as the Union soldiers looked to be winning the day. Another Southern general, trying to rally the troops, gestured up to what later became known as the Stonewall Brigade, shouting, "Look, there stands General Jackson like a stone wall!" The troops rallied, and eventually caused the Union troops to fall back in a rout all the way to Washington.

13. Mule shoe - Spotslyvania, Confederate victory. The Confederate entrenchments in one part of the line bowed outwards in a arch, or horse shoe shape. This was referred to as the "mule shoe," though it's name was changed to "bloody angle" at least by the Union boys, after a series of attacks resulted in nothing but hundreds of dead and wounded boys in blue.

14. the peach orchard - Gettysburg, Union victory. Yes, the most famous peach orchard in history is not in Georgia, but the site of a confederate attack on day two of Gettysburg.

15. Missionary Ridge - Chattanooga, Union victory. After being caught in Chattanooga following the loss at Chickamauga, Union troops were in danger of being starved into surrender. Grant came in, help reestablish a supply line, then ordered in reinforcements from both east and west. The besieged army, not liking the fact they had to be rescued, stormed the ridge overlooking the town that was supposedly unassailable.

16. the Sunken Road - there were actually more than one sunken roads. one was at Antietam, which was know as the "bloody lane" because of the heavy fighting and dying that happened there. The other was at Shiloh, where some of the surprised Union troops used the sunken road as an entrenchment. this group was able to hold off the southern army, allowing the leaders to get other areas to be reestablished. However, the troops stayed a little too long, and were surrounded.

17. Hell's Half-acre - Murfreesboro/Stones River, considered a Union victory because the Southern army retreated, ending their campaign into Tennessee afterwards.

18. Seminary Ridge - Gettysburg, Union victory

19. the cornfield - Antietam/Spotsylvania, the attacks went back and forth across the cornfield and the fighting so heavy that the stalks of corn, standing tall and ready for harvest before the battle, was completely shot down.

20. Devil's Den - Gettysburg, Union victory

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How much do you know about the Civil War?

In honor of back-to-school, I thought it would be fun to offer a little quiz: how much do you know about the American Civil War? Yes, it really is fun! I promise.

The Civil War is ripe with stories about the fighting. The men who fought it were prodigious letter writers and journal keepers, so there is no shortage of anecdotes about the battles. Almost every major battle had an area or two that forever after the battle was known by a nickname earned in that spot. Or sometimes insignificant little hills or towns became famous for the bloodshed that occurred there.

So you assignment is: take the nickname, name of a town (or building), or geographical place and list the corresponding Civil War Battle in the comments section. For instance, let's say #1 said "Shiloh Chapel" then in the comments you would list "1. Battle of Shiloh." Obviously none of the rest of these will be that easy. Also, since the North and South sometimes referred to the same battle by different names (e.g. Antietam and Sharpsburg) I will take either answer. Some battles will be used more than once. Try to do as many as you can without references.

* My FIL is strictly forbidden to post his answers in the comment section, as he would give away every answer to anyone else who cares to participate. David, you can email me if you must. :-)*

Here we go:

1. Marye's Heights

2. Bloody Angle

3. Little Round Top

4. Hornet's Nest

5. Elkhorn Tavern

6. Ezra Church

7. Bloody Lane

8. Lee & Gordon's mill

9. the Crater

10. Hell Hole

11. Dunker Church

12. Stone wall

13. Mule shoe

14. the peach orchard

15. Missionary Ridge

16. the Sunken Road

17. Hell's Half-acre

18. Seminary Ridge

19. the cornfield

20. Devil's Den

OK, there you have it! Post your answers in the comments! Show me how smart you are!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I don't know if you've noticed the new button on the right hand side of the blog, but I have recently joined the Mama Buzz group (hive?) of mommy-reviewers. The group reviews products - mostly books and toys - geared for children of all ages. So occasionally I will be receiving a book or toy that one of the girls and I will try out and then I'll post what we think about it.

I'm looking forward being involved in the process. Isn't it too cool to think about getting to read books or try out toys before they're published/available? And what a great opportunity for the girls to see a glimpse of modern advertising/marketing practices. An occasional freebie is also fun, huh? So stay tuned in the coming months for glimpses of what our estrogen-overloaded house thinks of the latest stuff coming to stores near you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why the English Language HAS to be the toughest to teach.

Yesterday during Hailey's phonics lesson, she was sounding out the word "catch." She did not say the proper short a sound, so I corrected her.

Me: No, it's ca. Short a like in apple.

Hailey: Ca. tch. Catch. Why does everyone say it like this?

Me: What do you mean?

Hailey: You said "catch." I say "ketch."

English is hard enough to learn, and our poor kids are trying to learn it in Texas.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blue is cool

So now I have a blue cast. Yes, today was my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon regarding my bum ankle. And it went pretty much like I expected. I am improving some but definitely not "all better." And I didn't improve as much as he had hoped. So he put a new cast on me, and told me to come back in two weeks. At that time, I'll get fitted for an orthotic insert to help support my foot once I get the cast off. Of course, these things take a few days to make, so they told me to expect yet a third cast to be put on at that time until my insert is ready.

At that time, I'll get the cast off for good and wear a boot (such as you wear if you break your foot) with the insert in it. Then I'll slowly transition into wearing the insert in regular shoes. After a few weeks in the insert, we'll evaluate whether this treatment has done enough to allow the tendon to heal and whether I can live with whatever level of pain I have at the time. If I can't, we'll have to look at surgery. Oh joy.

An unexpected side effect of all this is that we are discussing whether it would be wise to sell our little yellow car and buy one with an automatic transmission. I can't drive the car right now at all because of the clutch, and if I have surgery, I won't be able to drive it for months. I hate to do this because it is paid off and the suburban is just 4-5 months from being paid off. I meant to ask the surgeon about it today, about whether the motion of pressing the clutch is something I will ever be able to do. Guess I'll have to ask him in two weeks.

The nice thing was that I did get a chance to shave my leg, wash my foot clean, and scratch! I wish I had had something to soak my foot to get it feeling really clean. I also wish that I had thought to bring something to scrub my foot with - like a loofah pad - to get more dead skin off. I'll have to remember that in two weeks. Too bad I can't get someone to come with me to the appointment to give me a pedicure while I wait for the doctor...