Friday, July 31, 2009

Top Ten...Friday?

Sorry Jenni, I just can't seem to get with the program.

Wildlife around here.

1. Alligators. So friendly. I'll never understand why people swim in bodies of water around here. I mean, when I read articles in the paper about people getting "attacked" by alligators while swimming in a lake or pond, it's just hard for me to feel sorry for them. We live in Florida people! Don't swim in the water. Alligators live there!!! They get hungry, too.

2. Sandhill cranes. It's illegal to feed them. Not that I've ever done that or anything. We named this guy Pete, and then one day he came by with two babies. Oh, I guess we should have named her Georgette or something like that.

3. Ibis. They're weird. Not quite as friendly as Pete there.

4. Turtles. It's always fun to go to the beach and see about a 4'x4' area cordoned off for "turtle nest." I wish I could see them hatch one day. This snapping turtle was trying to commit suicide and we nearly lost some fingers getting him off the road. And by "we" I mean, Del.
5. Caterpillars. Lots of different kinds. I found a baby one of these guys on our mail box a couple of days ago. Cute, but I don't know what they become.

6. Osprey. Lovely birds. See his fish lunch?

7. Dolphins. I haven't been able to get a really good picture yet. That's Tampa Bay and the city of Apollo Beach across the bay. And see the pelican there; we have lots of pelicans.

8. Spiders. Scarey lookin' but apparently harmless.
9. Snakes. I'm scared of snakes unless someone is holding it by the head and I can touch his back.
10. Slime mold. Okay, so it's not an animal, but...I just can't get over how fascinating it is.
I guess I should throw stuff in there like sharks and jelly fish, but to be honest if I ever got close enough to a shark to take a picture, I doubt I would be taking pictures, I'd be swimming for my life. Unless it was a nurse shark, then that would be okay. We see barracudas here, too. Neat.... Darn I guess I should mention manatees, too. Okay, see...there's just too many of them. But I don't have a good picture of a manatee either, so there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And the Verdict Is...

Accommodative Esotropia (AE).

A fancy word for crossed eyes. I ended up not going to the appointment with Rachel, Del went instead. Getting information from him is like pulling teeth. It takes several days to get all the facts out of him. ROTFLOL. Del's quirks...he's so funny.

So what I know is that she needs glasses. Vision in her left eye is +4.00. Vision in her right eye is +5.50. Quite a difference, so her brain is ignoring the signals it's getting from the right eye. I knew this (from reading about Savannah...thank you Meagan) and from my own research. Del was shocked to learn that she will go blind in that eye if we don't take care of it.

Even though it's hard to get info from him, I'm glad he went because I don't think he realized the severity of the situation. He was a little skeptical when I was talking to him about what I read but to hear the doctor say that she will go blind if we don't take care of it...he came home a changed daddy.

Rachel had her eyes dilated. She likes her cool sunglasses. She told me that the drops hurt and she cried. Ahhhh...poor girl.

We went to get her some glasses. The folks at Pearle Vision were sssooooooo nice. I wish I had taken Ella there. We tried her in a few frames and finally settled on these. It's not a very good picture. I'll get a better one when the actual glasses with lenses come in.

Isn't she so cute. I think they had better frames at Value Vision, but the doctor recommended Pearle Vision and the woman who helped us promised to get them back quickly so that we could get Rachel in them ASAP. She said, "Oooh, did you see Dr. C? I love her!! If I had kids I'd definitely take them to see Dr. C." So that was comforting.

I am glad that it's something so fixable. Dr. C said that it's a textbook case of AE. If the glasses don't fix the crossed eye, then they'll do surgery on the eye muscle, but she thinks the glasses will do it.
Some extra pics of Lily and Anna in some sunglasses.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I am not a purist.

Some people like their coffee pure. Strong. Black. Pure. Not me, though. If it weren't for Coffee-mate flavored creamer, I would not be able to drink coffee.

You see, coffee by itself is bitter! To me, it just doesn't taste good at all. There is nothing sweet about it, or smooth and comforting - just harsh, bitter, dark, and biting.

But a small miracle happens when you pour in some of this creamer. With my yummy creamer, coffee becomes sweet, delicious, comforting, and soothing. (Which, by the way, Belgium Chocolate Toffee is really, really good. Even a purist just might like it!) Without the creamer, the harshness of the coffee is too much to bear, but just a splash of the creamer makes it wonderful. I can still taste hints of the bitterness of the coffee, but they are okay when taken with the sweetness of the creamer.

I think that life is like this coffee. By itself, life is harsh, bitter, and at times cruel. But my Savior knew that I could not handle pure life with no creamer, so he poured splashes of creamer all throughout my life. He gave me his Word to smooth out the harshness of a sinful world. He poured friends into my life to add laughter to each day. He gave me times when my mother stays with my children so I can go shopping without going crazy. He added flowers, rain showers, and singing birds to His creation just for my delight. And, as if these things weren't enough, he added children to my life.

He made sure babies have fat rolls on their knees, because He knew moms would melt at the sight of them. He even made their feet so cute that the cares of the world fade into the background, like a subtle undertone of bitterness when taken with the precious sight of these in the focus.

Have you ever tried straight creamer? It would be overwhelming, but a little touch of it here and there makes everything balance out just right.

This post is part of Metaphor Monday. Go check out Jenni's blog for more!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Plants and Caterpillars

I think I failed to explain about the caterpillars. They all died. I read that maybe 1 out of 10 caterpillars will actually become a butterfly and even only 3-4%. They would half come out of their skin to make a pupa and then just die. Don't know why. We had a total of 10 caterpillars and after the 6th one died I jarred the other four to clean the plant with a mild bleach water solution to get rid of a disease that may have been killing them. The three little ones died in the jar and so I let the last one go and he was fine for about 24 hours on the milkweed outside, but then I went out to look for him and he was on the ground convulsing in death throes. I was so upset about these blasted caterpillars dying that I was in a funk for days.

Anyway, outside on the milkweed, I have found four of the monarch caterpillars. Three of them are pretty big and the one is newly hatched. The milkweed is just covered in milkweed aphids. I've been pretty diligent about spraying with a soap solution to control the aphids but they just keep coming back and in larger numbers. I was just going to spray with a chemical aphid killer but now that the caterpillars on there, I think that's a bad idea.

Now there are these caterpillars on the plant, too. What are they???
Look at our beautiful sunflowers. I think the one must be 12 feet tall!! Daisy's and sunflowers: happy flowers!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Isn't she cute? It took a much longer time to get them than we were originally told. I guess her prescription is so strong and the frame so small that they had to send it out to a specialist. Oh. But anyway, there she is.


Apparently I don't use sweet potatoes often enough to keep one in my pantry! I mean, I've gotten eyes on potatoes before, but none of them have ever grown leaves!

Top Ten...Thursday?

I wanted to do this Tuesday but...I have five kids. And you put up that cute post about Andrew and I couldn't bear to bury it for a couple of days so I could look at his cute little face some more. He's cute. Anyway...
Jenni made this week's TTT theme favorite fictional people. Aren't you so glad she's blogging again? I am. In random order:

1) Matthew Cuthbert - Anne of Green Gables

2) Elizabeth Bennet - Pride and Prejudice ...actually Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. I want to live next door to the Darcys and play cards with them and go fishing in their lake.

3) Anne Elliot - Persuasion

4) Strider - The Lord of the Rings; and not that goofy guy they got to play in the movie. He's not a man, he's a goofball.

5) Can I just say that I hardly read fiction anymore so I'm actually having a hard time not coming up with characters from the same three or four books. I guess that's because I read the same books over and over again unless it's an apologetics book or some sort of text book. Ahhh, I need to expand my horizons.

6) Anne Shirley - Anne of Green Gables; Even though she is absolutely silly and is sometimes very misguided, I have to admit I do really like her character.

7) Hadassah - The Mark of the Lion series; she's lovely. I wish I could be her...actually, I don't really want to be half eaten by a lion so...never mind, but isn't she lovely?

8) Leana McKie - Thorn in My Heart and the other two books in that series.

9) Mr. Bennet - Pride and Prejudice

10) Mr. Knightley - Emma; everyone needs a Mr. Knightley in their life. Thank God I have Del, he's my Mr. Knightley only...better.

and because I wasted my #5 whining...

11) David Copperfield - David Copperfield; you know I hated almost every Charles Dickens book I picked up. But when I read David Copperfield I couldn't put it down. It's a thick book and I finished it in a week and a half or something. Yes, this was before I had any children.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh, The Frustration!

Dear Mommy,

Do you grown up humans have any idea what life is like for me now as a newly mobile human? It's not all it's cracked up to be!

Do you think this look on my face is one of happy contentment? No! It's actually the look I make when I am wondering why my mom is taking the 36th picture of me crawling. You know, Mom, they all look the same! Not only that, you cannot capture the beauty of my movement with a still shot! Where's that video camera you keep saying you should really pull out? Now would be a great time to put it to use!

Plus, you aren't really talking to me the way you used to! Gone is the "Peek-a-boo!" It's all, "No-no!" and "Don't touch!" lately. That combined with the slip-n-slide tile when in pj pants, getting stuck in the corner, hitting my head on every hard surface in the house, and finding out that dead bugs do NOT taste very good, has made the past few weeks a bit of a drag.

One more thing, Mom. Can you please quit running up behind me every time I crawl off and get quiet? You're scaring me half to death!

With all that said, I do have to tell you that being able to chase the cat, follow my brothers while they play, and finding every air vent in the house to run my fingers on and make that really cool sound has been tons of fun!

Your Ever Loving Son,


PS. While I've got your attention, can you lay off the strained peas for a while? I really prefer the mango and nectarine anyway!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Health Rations

I hope I'm not being redundant, but this is a really (un)funny video. It makes me laugh and yet shake in my boots at the same time.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

I had a ton of fun looking through all the rhubarb recipes you linked for me. In the end, I decided to go with something with strawberries in it, too, since I had strawberries in the fridge that needed to be eaten along with the rhubarb. But I am saving all the other recipes because in the end, I was a bit disappointed that the rhubarb flavor didn't come through more. In this recipe, there is so much sugar and strawberry flavor that the rhubarb is more of a subtle tone, not the star!

I found this exact same recipe over and over on the web, so I feel okay reproducing it here. The end result is really yummy, even if it isn't overly rhubarb-y. It makes a super yummy breakfast treat, too!

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

1 1/2 cups rhubarb pieces (cut to 1 inch slices)
1 1/2 cups strawberry slices
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Combine rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice in 2-quart saucepan. Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is tender (8 to 12 minutes).

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in small bowl. Stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil (about 1 minute). Continue boiling until thickened (1 minute). Remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all crust ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Spread filling over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

I actually used my food processor to make quick work of making the crust, and it worked beautifully. If you have some extra strawberries and rhubarb hanging around your kitchen, this is a great treat!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Rachel is always good for some classic kid one-liners.

Rachel: "Mama, why does my spit do that bubble thing in the back of my throat?"

Me: (while trying to not spit up my drink) "I don't know, honey, what do you mean?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reality Check

My father is currently seated on the couch downstairs, next to my handsome husband. They are playing a video game. Disney Golf. No kidding.

Have I entered some sort of strange alternate reality or something? I think I need to go to bed and when I wake up tomorrow everything will be back to normal.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Shrugged Out

About three weeks ago I finished listening to Atlas Shrugged. (A big, big thank you to Marie for providing the option to listen rather than read! I never would have finished if reading were my only option.) I listened primarily when I was up nursing Andrew during the night, so I may have dozed off a time or two, but I think I heard most of it! :)

Have you finished it yet? Although I cannot say that I liked this book, I am glad that I "read" it if only to provide a humorous comparison each time Obama comes out with a new program and a new office to run said program. And truly, there needs to be something to laugh about as I watch my freedoms be ripped from my hands one at a time! I think that I would have enjoyed the book more if Rand had left out about a third of the book. I think it could have been easily condensed by at least a third without losing any of the plot and details important to the story line. Plus I felt like she wrote this book with a thesaurus in hand. Have you felt that way? I wish I could think of a specific example, but since I listened mostly at 4:00 AM, one eludes me just now, but it seemed like she would pick a big descriptive word from the book, use it three or four times in a paragraph, and then realize, "Oh, I've used that a few times now, I should find another "smart" word now!" Perhaps it was just my general frustration with the overly long descriptions of things having nothing to do with the actual plot that made me think this.

Even with those complaints, I do think I am glad I "read" this book. It made me think a bit more about what is going on around me politically, which is something I don't generally do on my own. Sadly, unless I try really hard, I do not usually pay attention to politics until they intrude upon my life in a way I cannot ignore. I think it is probably time for me to change that.

Friday, July 10, 2009


At the beginning of the spring, I saw all sorts of posts and recipes all over blog-land highlighting rhubarb. They all looked so very wonderful and I thought I bookmarked quite a few of them to try. Now I have a big bag of beautiful rhubarb in my fridge and I cannot find any recipes for the life of me. So - help me out! What's your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Allergies Are Stupid

The title pretty much sums it up. Yep.

Aaron, Ethan, and I are all getting allergy tested. These poor boys have both been on allergy medication daily since they were one year old and have a multitude of symptoms. Ethan also has asthma. I don't have too many of the typical allergy symptoms, but because I have struggled for ten years now with unexplained fatigue, digestive problem, joint pain, and other frustrating symptoms, the allergist is testing me for a multitude of problems - plain old allergies being one of them.

We have some interesting results already. So far, Aaron tests allergic to baker's yeast, banana, brewer's yeast, corn, milk, orange, potato, soy, tomato, and wheat. We are done testing him for foods now and have moved on to inhalants. Of those, only brewer's yeast and tomato are strong enough of a reaction to really look at eliminating the food. The others he reacts to, but could have more of a rotational diet plan or other treatment.

Ethan has much more food allergy. His is not complete yet, but he is reacting to potato, apple, milk, egg, chicken, tomato, wheat, peanut, soy, brewer's yeast, corn, and baker's yeast. What is this boy going to eat?? Of these, we already know that brewer's yeast, baker's yeast, corn, and peanut are pretty strong allergies, and soy, wheat and tomato are borderline strong. The others we haven't found his end-point (the level of allergen he can have with no reaction) yet, so I don't know where he'll be on it. He still has some foods to test, too. Our doctor uses a treatment called LDA, which I haven't found much good information on yet so I don't really want to link it with anything. Basically it is a shot that gives very small amounts of the things you are allergic to in order to build your bodies immunity to them. It is very effective. Seventy to eighty percent of people who take it can eat all their allergic foods again after two years of treatment. I'll see the doctor in a few weeks when they are completely done with the testing to get an actual plan of treatment. As of now, the only change we have made is to get him off peanuts because it was his strongest reaction. Baker's yeast is close though, so I should look at that.

Because this is all so depressing, I'll add something fun here. We grow a small patch of blackberries in our backyard. I decided to make something extra yummy with the berries we got this year and made a great blackberry cobbler from a recipe I got off the Pioneer Woman blog. Ree, my mouth loves you, but my hips? Well, I cannot tell you what my hips think of you.

Mmmmm.... You should really try this. Your mouth will thank you.

More On Rachel

I may be over-reacting and I think I may be wrong on the glasses thing, because she displays no signs of sight loss. Although it took her a long time to learn the colors, she picks them out with no problems now. I have limited experience with this in that my friend Meagan's daughter has glaucoma, a cataract and therefore lazy eye and she's had to patch Savannah. Savannah, to me, showed signs of sight loss: bumping into things and using her hands in ways I never saw my own kids do. I don't see Rachel doing any of the things that I saw Savannah do. But then again, Savannah doesn't wear glasses either. I don't know much of anything about this and if you read the info on lazy eye that I linked to yesterday, you know as much as me. I need to stop making my own diagnosis and just try to forget about it until we can get in to the doctor. I did want to post a picture for you so you can see what it is that makes us concerned.

It's hard to get a picture since it's so fleeting. This morning Dad and I were looking at pictures from May with the girls and we came across this one. If you zoom up on her face you can see distinctly that her right eye is doing something funny.

But Isn't she cute!!! The one thing I do know for sure is that if we don't get to it right now, her brain will stop using that eye, therefore it is imperative to fix it now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Brain and Camera Dump

It's been an interesting few days. Here's a couple of shots of our 4th. We went to the beach, BBQ'd then did fireworks. I love the "ghost" shot there.I killed my very favorite coffee mug. Whhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa. That was an awesome mess to clean up, let me tell you. Ain't nuthin' I lurve better than cleanin' up coffee/hot chocolate stickiness off the tile.

Turns out that our little milkweed just wasn't enough for our growing caterpillars. These guys are worse than teenage boys...not that I would know. I'm just sayin'. Anyway, I went and bought a huge milkweed for our seven little huge caterpillars. Some of them must be about to pupate because we've had them for about two weeks and they've gone through five instars so any second now.... I could sit and watch them all day. This biology experiment is turning out to be very fun. I like having caterpillars as pets. You get to let them go.

Here's the second biggest guy. He's about two inches long. The girls have named him mittens because he's got white spots on his "feet"...seems to me that they ALL have white spots on their feet, but that's just me. Of course they did name another one "socks".
Caterpillars poop a lot. I mean...A LOT!!!

Ella. See those lovely brown eyes. Aren't they beautiful. Well on Monday (or somewhere thereabouts) those eyes will be covered with glasses. Turns out that Ella is farsighted and her young eyes have been adjusting for the blurriness and taxing her muscles. She has complained of headaches but not so often that I thought anything of it. Who knew. We got her and me a pair of matching glasses. She was upset at first, but with our matching glasses and all the excitement that we are showing and Anna Beth, our neighbor's daughter, is showing, she is now excited and cant' wait to get them.
Sarah. There is nothing the matter with her. The eye doc was very interested to see her as she was very surprised at how strong Ella's prescription was (+4.75), but her eyes are fine. She lost another tooth. Thankfully she's as healthy as can be, because the next kid is where it starts getting complicated.


Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. For a long time I've though Rachel was the cutest of all our kids. She's just got the most lovely eyes and pouty lips and chubby cheeks and she knows how to work 'em, too. All our kids are the most beautiful (sorry folks, it's true) but there was just something about Rachel.

She bugged me though with learning. She was horrible at colors. It took her far longer to grasp colors than it took her two older sisters. I could never tell whether she was actually having trouble, like something was wrong with her eyes, or if she was just vying for extra special attention. Well, she finally got the colors. Now she's having trouble with letters. She's to start reading this next school year, so we got a jump on it this year with teaching some letter and sounds but the only one she can really grasp is "R" and that's because it's "her" letter. And it took her a long time to get that one.

Every once in a while I'd be talking with Rachel and think to myself that there was something strange about her eyes. I just shrugged it off though, because it was so fleeting and they'd just go back to their normal beautiful eye-selves. One day last week my Grandma came over and said that she thought that something was wrong with Rachel's eye, "It doesn't go right", I think were her words. It's like her one eye is lazy.

Coincidence? I think not.

We took her to the doctor yesterday and she agrees that Rachel has an issue with her eyes. I've read up on it and it's possible that she has amblyopia, or lazy eye. She has an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist on July 28th.

Treatment for lazy eye is patching of the good eye and a couple of other alternatives. I already have plans to sew her up some cute eye patches to go with her clothes and get her a doll that she can patch herself. It's my guess, if my research is at all good, that her one eye is healthy (like 20/20 vision) and her lazy eye has bad vision (20/200 or whatever) and she'll need glasses.

They say that "it's estimated" 1 in 20 children has amblyopia.

This is an interesting turn of events. I love being tested by God.

Lily. Is very skinny, just like Ella was. The docs did all sorts of testing on Ella as a 1-year-old because she was something like 16 or 17 pounds. But she was fine, just very thin. Lily is just like that. She's nearly 2 and weighs a mere 21.8 pounds. Other than that bit of info, Lily is doing fine.

Anna. We finally have a big, fat, lazy baby!! At not quite 6 months, she weighs 16.5 pounds and is at the 75th percentile on the "average" scale the docs use. A first for us. All our babies have been between 0-25%. She's a voracious eater. I'm going to introduce solids soon. She's had a taste of mashed potatoes and a taste of ice cream. Isn't she cute, sporting her two teeth! She is NOT ROLLING OVER. Lazy baby! She can mostly sit up on her own, but no rolling over. All her sisters were crawling by 6 months. Anna is determined to do things her own way I guess.

So that's my news.