Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Field Trip To Grand Traverse Pie Company

We all love pie! There's blueberry (which is my personal favorite), cherry, apple, caramel pecan apple (another favorite of mine), four berry, raspberry, chocolate, strawberry and the list goes on and on.

Our homeschool group recently had a field trip at the Grand Traverse Pie Company that opened up in our area fairly recently. I was very excited about this trip because it involves pie! I was first introduced to this place on one of our travels to Traverse City a few years ago. We had stopped there for a little snack and were very pleased with our purchase. I usually bake pies from scratch so it takes a little bit more to impress my taste buds. They do a pretty good job!

We started out sitting down having a snack of juice and cookies while our wonderfully patient teacher, Amy, instructed us on some of the history and doings of their store. Ryan sat in the front seat and paid very close attention. He was even able to answer her question of what is very important before preparing food. He raised his hand and promptly answered, "wash your hands." I was so proud of him! The thing that sent my heart to soaring was the fact that I now have a shred of evidence that he's actually listening to me at home!

As Amy continued on, I noticed that my little squirrel of a son (Ryan) started helping himself to extra cookies off of the plate that had been sent around. He told me he was afraid Brad was going to eat them. He thinks he's pretty sneaky.

Amy was then joined by Ken and they ushered us to the back where we washed our hands and lined up by our pies that were to be made. We put our initials on the top crust with tiny cookie cutters which I thought was a fabulous idea so that we could keep them apart at home. I wasn't thinking about how those initials would disappear after the initial dive-in. Oh well....at least they know whose is whose and believe me, I've been informed!

After the pies were assembled and placed in their own take home bags, the kids got a tour of the walk in freezer. That was really something, at least that's what I hear from a certain six year old.

The people from Grand Traverse Pie Company were really patient and friendly. We give them a five thumbs up since that is all that came with me that day. Everyone had a great time and it was totally kid friendly. I know that both Bob and I have eaten their for lunch or a late dinner and their food has been wonderful.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Trip to the doctor

Our day was started off on a run today. We had a doctors appointment for four out of seven kids scheduled for 9:30. We are about 20-25 minutes from the office and they told me to get their early since I had lots of paperwork to fill out for Barbara and Sharlene. At 8:10, I woke up from my slumber to the sounds of lots of laughter and what it sounded like to be children jumping on their older brother who had been sleeping only moments before. I think the yelling from the older brother to get off of him is what really woke me up.

After it dawned on me that the time was indeed what it was, I jolted from my bed. I had to get four kids up, fed and dressed in about 30 minutes time. Thank goodness, I have slave labor...a 12 year old and a 10 year old. Grace helped me get them ready and I sent Brad out to the van to get their car seats situated since we had to switch cars do to the fact that the 'burb' is in the shop having a certain dent and some scratches repaired (it's a sore spot which I won't go into but I will say that it involved a couple men who decided to go bahaing through a swamp). Upon unloading the children from the van at the doctors office, I found out that the car seats where in the upright position and the girls were in fact buckled in their seats but they were NOT buckled down from behind making them glorified deluxe booster seats that you have when you are dining not driving. >Sigh< I'm glad Brad buckled them in but I guess I assumed he would know they needed to be attached to the seat by the seatbelt. My fault completely. I should have realized that I needed to download thorough instructions from my brain and have uploaded them to the kids the night before.

I get to the check in counter and they give me all the paperwork to fill out. I updated Kara and Ryan's record to show that we are currently cash paying customers which they repeated back to me a few times to make sure they understood. I felt like we were on exhibit. I'm sure there are lots of other people who are also cash paying customers. I didn't think this was something odd or abnormal. They were kind enough to tell me that if I was on their 'prompt pay' program (meaning you pay right then and there before you leave the office) that I would receive a 10% discount. I guess that could add up to a wonderful discount in our family. We reserved the 'suite' there at the doctors office so we had room to turn around...well, some of us turned around, other's sat in the chair thoroughly exhausted from what she went through to get everyone there and then chasing after them around the waiting room pulling them off of chairs which they thought they were suppose to climb on.

The doctor came in and checked all four of them and informed me they all needed to be on antibiotics. Since Aaron was in earlier this week and now these four, this virus is making the rounds. I am also not feeling that great but it seems to have hit my throat mostly making me hoarse. It's never good to loose your yelling voice. How can I properly yell at those little darlings? They can't even hear me amongst the noise level in our home.....it's just not fair! After the doctor left the room and I managed to get these cute little lambs to the counter to check out, I handed what paperwork I have on the girls from the social worker for them to make a copy of for their file. As we are waiting for that to take place, the kids were busy checking out the blood pressure machine, the bathroom, the different offices, climbing on the chairs...working me into a sweat. Of course, while the nurse was making the copies, the copy machine decided to jam up and it took them an eternity (at least, that is what it seemed like to me) to get it unjammed. At this point, my patience level is wanning big time so I lined them all up against the counter stressing that they needed to sit and not get up. This was not in line with their thinking which sent a couple of them into a crying fit. I thought, oh great! Just Perfect. After the crying came to a halt and the little halo's appeared, one of the nurses came down the hall seeing these cutie pies sitting all in a row, exclaiming how cute they were....and for being so very good for their mama, they each got stickers. I thought to myself, where is my sticker? Shouldn't mother's be offered a sticker? It's a lot of work to get them to sit all cute in a row. I thought that was quite an accomplishment. But no sticker for me. All I can do is wait for the sticker to be forgotten about or find it laying on the floor, stuck to my shoe or detach it from the wall and gently place it on my shirt while telling myself...what a good job I did today. I was very glad when it was time to go.....all that was going through my head after they were all clicked in their car seats correctly, was.......
I survived and am still able to talk about it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Day Of Hope

We were scheduled to go on a field trip today which we ended up having to cancel. Instead, I took our three year old on a trip to the doctor. He woke up screaming in the middle of the night in so much pain that he couldn't sleep. This morning I noticed some blood-tinged fluid dripping from his ear. I thought to myself, uh oh, I bet his eardrum ruptured. So off to the doctor we went. He confirmed my suspicions and prescribed antibiotic ear drops. The doctor assured me that it would heal and he would be fine. In his 25 years of doctoring, he's only had one case where they actually had to do surgery to repair it. We are praying that he will heal quickly and that he's not in too much pain for too long.....bubblegum flavored motrin is our friend.

Kara, Sharlene and Barbara are also under the weather and I'll be making a second trip to see the good ol' doc on Friday. I've arranged to reserve the suite and inquired, once again, for our reserved parking space. The nurses just smile and nod. I'm sure I'm not the only mother who thinks they spend the better part of their Fall going back and forth to the doctor but it's quite an event for me. I can think of a zillion other things I'd rather spend my time doing...laundry, laundry, and more laundry....dishes, dishes and more dishes and did I mention the laundry????

My other kids were quite irritated that we had to cancel our fun trip today. It's hard to get them to understand that making someone who is really not feeling well tromp around is just not fun-making memories for them or me. I must tell you, that inspite of their disappointment today, they did survive.

Grace played dress-up with Sharlene and Barbara. Sharlene was her magic assistant for her magic show. I think Sharlene wasn't sure what that was especially when Grace kept putting the blanket over her head to make her disappear. Sharlene did like getting dressed up though and was prancing through the house in her gorgeous outfit.

Bob and I both have been working on Sharlene's communication skills (along with all the other little mommies and daddies here). We are pretty lovingly firm about asking correctly and we don't encourage the baby talk that both Sharlene and Barbara have been use to. We were encouraged today when we noticed that Sharlene actually said some clear words. She said 'outside' and 'bear' and she's getting better about not grunting and pointing to things she wants. I really didn't expect anything to really be different for awhile but we will take it!

We also noticed that Barbara is feeling more confident today. She is playing off with the other kids and not attached to Sharlene so much. They've even slowed down their synchronized peeing which I'm totally excited about because that alone will wear you out. Good thing we have lots of helpers here. After watching some of the changes that are coming, I've formed my opinion about Sharlene needing speech therapy. I personally don't think she really needs it. What I do think she needs is to be made to speak properly and not accept her baby talk. She needs lots of love and reassurance and she needs boundaries. All of which take lots of energy to provide and consistency. However, we are required to take her to see a speech therapist and we will do as they ask but if there is any possibility of just keeping her here and working with her ourselves, I would love that. She really likes to do little projects. I am using the Kumon books which work great for that.

Even though we have sick kids and I'm worn out from that, it's been a pretty good day. We were also excited to see that the effects of the visitation seemed to have dissipated today. The girls were able to play well and Sharlene only complained twice that her stomach hurt. We've seen some encouraging things today. Tomorrow we may be back to square one but at least, I've seen some baby steps and I know it's there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Beautiful Fall Day

What a beautiful fall day we've had. I don't just say this because the kids played outside all day long! It was warm and sunny and absolutely wonderful.

Grandpa and Grandma came over to see Sharlene and Barbara yesterday. I don't think they remembered them because they didn't come running. Barbara just sat and stared at Grandma not making a sound. She is so serious. Sharlene did warm up pretty quickly especially when Grandpa had her upside down.

Bob had all the kids doing some yard work today. Just wait till we start raking the leaves....I can see it now....big pile of leaves and then, poof! we are starting all over again. Oh, the memories it's gonna create! I think we'll not think about that right now since I'm all worn out from giving all the dirty little children baths. That was alot of work! My bathroom is flooded because it was fun to splash each other including Mommy. I need a 'Warning! Wet Floor!' sign so that Bob and I will not forget and fall whacking our heads on the bathtub leaving us with amnesia. Then they would be free to overtake the world.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blue Sky Travel Discounts

We've decided to add something else to our list of things we do. We've bought an online travel agency!

As many of you already know, we have been trying to get our computer business off and running. It is always hard in the beginning to get your name/reputation out there so that people are familiar with you and want to give you business. Things have been pretty slow so we are needing to add some supplemental income to keep things going.

We would absolutely be grateful if you would consider using our travel site to book your next vacation or trip! Come check us out....www.blueskytraveldiscounts.com.

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Honeymoon Registry
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Group Travel
Condo Rentals
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Concert and Theater Tickets
Flower and Candy Deliveries
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Theme Park Tickets

There is also local discounts on events/activities such as the indoor water park at the Best Western in Sterling Heights, Michigan, lodging at the Thomas Edison Inn, or Splash Village in Frankenmuth. Whatever your interest may be, go check it out!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Bit Of Honesty

Today has been a really long day. I knew when we decided to take on the care of these two beautiful girls, that it was not going to be easy. Even so, I'm feeling a bit discouraged. To my friends who have been down this road before, I am so very grateful for your encouraging words and for your wisdom in this situation. You truly are invaluable to me :-)

Sharlene is feeling much more comfortable and is showing us that through various ways. She yells, screams, hits and pushes her way into whoever's attention she is wanting. Honestly, I felt like it was a constant fight with her today and I feel drained from that struggle. She spends many moments in time out. It's like trying to break in a wild horse. You don't want to break the spirit but need to mold it gently. I wonder how long it might take before she learns her boundaries and settles into it. Maybe I don't want to know that....one day at a time probably needs to be my perspective.

She is so attention starved and clings to me or my husband from the time we get up till she goes to bed. We are trying to give her lots of hugs and attention but their are also boundaries within that. I tried to take a shower yesterday which sent her into a fit. She kept throwing herself at the door, kicking it and screaming at it wanting to come in. Hopefully, she'll not do that too often. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

Barbara is very quiet. She putters about here and there. She doesn't really come near anybody but will sit on your lap if you ask her. If you ask her if she wants to get down, she promptly jumps off. She seems to need to do everything that Sharlene does not necessarily because she has to/wants to but because that is how she's been trained. For example, if she's just gone to the bathroom one second beforehand and sees that Sharlene is headed for it, she has this need to go again. I've never seen anything like it. I don't know if I'm explaining this very well but it's almost like its robotic. I'm hoping that eventually the individuality will come out and we'll see each of them acting as their own person.

When the girls were with their mother on Monday, she seemed very nurturing to them in the short time I was there to pick them up. I know that it's easier to be that way when you are only with them for an hour and haven't seen them for a bit but I wonder how she was with them before they were removed from the home. When you see that, it's hard to get your brain to wrap around the issues at hand. Sharlene has Early Childhood Development Delay putting her cognitive, social, emotional, communication levels around 18 months and I see some signs in Barbara but not as prevalent as in her sister.

I'm not regretting our decision nor am I surprised at what we are dealing with. After talking with the social worker, we both knew what we were up against. We also know that God called us both to do this. He never promises that the road He calls us to will be sunny beaches or warm breezes. Therefore, I know God will give us what we need to help these girls grow into healthy, happy children while they are with us.

I know that God can heal the emotional damage that is done and will replace it with security and love that only he can give. It's the time in between, the time where the molding is taking place, the mental energy that it requires on a daily basis, that I desperately need His strength for.

If you think about it, I would really be grateful for your prayers. It's emotionally draining to constantly be fighting with a child who desperately needs love and to still have some left over for your other children who also need their mother.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Our First Day of Visitation

Today was the first day of visitation after having the girls here this weekend. My friend, Shelly, has been through this with her own foster kids that she ended up adopting as their own. She's been a wealth of information, support and encouragement. It's good to have friends who know what you are going through! God put her there for a number of reasons and I believe this is one of them.

Bob took the girls into the DHS where their Mom was waiting for them. They were very excited to see her. We, then, took the rest of us to McDonalds for a snack and to Arby's for Bob and I to have lunch. We had an hour to blow. It went pretty quickly.

Sharlene is feeling more comfortable in our home, I think. She's started mouthing off and having some behavioral issues. I knew it would come but I was hoping we had a few more days! We didn't get a whole lot of school done today as she was purposely trying to cause issues to get attention. We will have to work on that.

The girls cried just a bit when we left the DHS today. It seems to be particularly hard on Sharlene. She was acting up quite a bit this evening and then didn't go to bed really well because she wanted her mama. It just tears your heart out knowing how heartbroken they are and not being able to fix it.

Their Mom told me she's doing everything they are asking her to do so that the girls can come back home soon. It's just all very sad.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Top Ten Things I Just Realized.

There is a few things that I've realized in the last couple days.

1. I don't have enough dishes.

2. There are not enough sippy cups in my cupboard to accommodate the traveling drink fest on a per child basis.

3. Silverware is in high demand and is never available when needed.

4. My new dishwasher is not big enough!

5. My washer and dryer are objecting to all the activity they are receiving especially since Aaron has come down with the flu this very weekend.

6. After I'm done serving firsts, it's time to start the second round.

7. My bathroom door needs to be revolving not constantly slamming.

8. I made 3 pitcher's full of kool-aid and we are still running on empty.

9. Mt. Everest meet Mt. 7kids2adults.

and number 10:

I feel outnumbered!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Today is the day that Sharlene and Barbara arrived to stay with us. They came with a suitcase each of mostly summer clothes, a backpack with some snacks in it and their electric guitars which they didn't seem to care about but my boys thought it was way cool! You should have heard the energy emerging from our home this evening!

We didn't have too many struggles adjusting. However, Barbara doesn't say a whole lot, she just watches you. So everywhere I went in the house this afternoon, I had two little eyes on me. I wonder what she's was thinking? Bob is her favorite, I think. She kept coming up to him and just standing there like she wanted something but she didn't say a word. Bob would put her on his lap and get her to laughing and then she'd be off playing again (while keeping her eyes on me).

Everyone is finally quiet and sleeping. I guess I should follow suit before we start all over again bright and early tomorrow.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I've been meaning to post about how our homeschooling was progressing this year so far since the first week in September. As I was looking at my calendar today, I realized that it was October!

Aaron wants to 'do' school too. He does not like to be left out of anything for any reason. So right along with the others, I purchased a workbook for him. One of the assignments that was given for the day was a maze. Now they are pretty simple but I didn't think that he had ever done a maze. So I began to explain what we had to do and he just looked at me with the rolling of the eyes and promptly stated, "I know what to do, Mom!" And he did. Zip...zip...zip and he had the ant through the maze and to the end before I could catch my jaw from dropping off of my face. Yep, he's a smart little bugger.

Ryan is still resistant (and probably always will be) to sitting at the table working on his numbers, alphabet, etc. He doesn't much care for school because it tends to mess with his playing schedule. However, he's been doing better since the principal had a little talk with him. We are using the Bob books since he would like to learn how to read. His inspiration for this is that he would like to be able to read the Captain Underpants series. We've gone through the first Bob book only a couple times so when he read it too me today I was shocked! He either has it memorized which means we need to move on to the next one or he really knows whats going on inside that little head of his and is keeping me in the dark.

Grace is doing well with her reading and loves the Junie B. Jones Books. She's adding some Judy Blume books to her collection as well. She doesn't really care much for school a whole lot since it involves too much reading and is now getting into more essay-like questions. However, she does really enjoy the projects that are given like today she had to make a diagram of the carbon cycle which she did in full color with lots of detail. She has a daily meltdown when it comes to math which we are working on.

Brad is doing well in his Bible and History. He doesn't really enjoy school a whole lot because it messes with his game time. I suppose I can't blame him because he gets that from both sides of the family. He is really wanting to get good at a particular game and have someone sponsor him and make like a $1,000,000. My response to that is this.....you've got to have a business plan in place first. Get writing, son! He has a daily meltdown too because he doesn't want to have to do school. Of course, the mother in me kicks in and he gets the lecture of, if you don't do it here, you'll have to go somewhere else to do it. You've got no choice. His response as he's laying his head down on the table......I know enough to liiiivvveeee!

Then there is Kara. She goes from one thing to the next while we school. She mostly likes to make messes for me to clean up or sitting on my lap eating crayons is another favorite. On one particular day, she got very, very quiet which to me is very, very dangerous. So I went to check on her and what I found was her sitting in the middle of all our videos/dvd's. She had been having fun pulling them all out from under the entertainment center. She was so proud of herself!
So that is it in a nutshell from the nuthouse.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Another Day With A Three Year Old

Just the other day I was thinking to myself that it had been awhile since Aaron had given me a fright. That should have been a warning right there. An alarm should have been going off for all to hear. But instead, I just bounced off to my merry life.

I had gone off into the office for a quick look at my email. Usually when I say that, my children whine and groan because they know my quick second usually turns into a more than a quick second as I easily get involved in responding to a friend or something that catches my fancy. I rationalize my addiction to my email as a 'Mommy just needs five minutes' to refresh. Seriously, it does help. Every five minutes can make a difference. I recommend it to all Mom's out there who are feeling on the edge and need some contact with people over four feet tall and over the age of 25. Being that I'm 27, that should about work for me.

Getting back to my story.....

I heard choking coming from the livingroom so I quickly ran to see what was going on. Low and behold, my three year old son, Aaron, was choking. Thoughts of do I remember how to do the Heimlich remover (yes, I know what it's really called) were dancing through my head along with the pounding of my heart. Fortunately, after a moment which seemed like an eternity, he was coughing and started talking about how that hurt his throat. I heard somewhere that if they are coughing and talking that I didn't have to to the next step of mouth to mouth. What a relief!

For the rest of the evening, Aaron, with only the look on his face that he can do (those of you who have seen it, know what I'm talking about) followed me around with many comments:

The doctor can't take my tongue out!

If I burp, the penny will be free.

I feel different now that I swallowed a penny.

I think I feel the penny in my legs.

I'm gonna poop it out a big one (laughing hysterically).

We have been fortunate enough to not have had any of our kids swallow money. So now that we've checked that off the list of things to do before my mother is completely gray, I am glad that we got through it without too much trauma...well, maybe there was trauma. The adrenaline levels in my body would beg to differ with the not so much trauma comment. We could just say this, at least it didn't lead us to taking a trip to the ER.

Guess we've got something to watch for, for the next 24-48 hours. I won't say any more on that subject.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Ryan, our six year old, has taken a liking to crickets. This is quite a switch from earlier this year when on our camping trip, he had a complete melt-down because of all the bugs. I'm pleased to see that, as he has stated to me, that he decided to not be afraid of them anymore.

The boys were playing outside yesterday and Ryan found his new friend which he named Bobby. He's a cricket whose home is now the pink Easter pail that use to hold candy for Grace's Easter basket. He made sure Bobby had some nice grass to rest in. He was so excited about his find that he brought it in the house to show me.

I was trying to act like that was really a cool thing but inside I was thinking, Mommy really doesn't like bugs. Then I realized that the only thing that was keeping Bobby inside this cute little pink pail was Ryan's elbow pad that was gently angled over top of him. Of course, when he moved the elbow pad to show me his find, the cricket happened to be attached to it and jumped out onto our floor. Ryan had fun chasing the cricket across the floor before finally catching it. I suggested maybe he keep it outside.

I assumed since I didn't see the pail in the house (believe me, I checked!) that it had indeed gone outside. On one of my many trips upstairs, I glanced in the boy's room and what do you think I saw sitting there on Ryan's bed? The cute little pink pail with the spiderman elbow pad in it. The name Ryan came loudly out of my mouth. As he came running up the stairs, I, calmly, informed him that Bobby REALLY needed to go outside and not be anywhere nears Mommy's room. I really, really don't want something that has four legs, antennae, hops and is in the insect category meeting me in the middle of the night. It's just one of those things on my no-no list.

Later that day, Ryan found Bobby a friend which was another cricket named Bobby, Jr. I happened to be gone that evening for 'pie' night with a friend but from what I hear, one of them escaped. After the kids had been in bed, Bobby or Bobby Jr. (hard to tell them apart), decided to hop out from under the couch. What a surprise that was! Brad chased after it and caught it making him my hero. There is no place better for a cricket then the great outdoors.

If I hear a cricket singing again and I can't find him....someone's going to the moon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Follow That Red Suburban to the Detroit Science Center

Today our park day was at the Detroit Science Center. I don't think I've been there since my dad decided to take a Sunday drive which ended downtown at the Science Center. This place is not what I remembered but oh, so much more!

The first exhibit that we got stuck on was the traveling Grossology exhibit. I guess it's not going to be there for very much longer but my younger ones thought this was awesome! I couldn't get them away from the poo (from what I hear, it was realistically squishy-I'll take their word for it, no need to find out for myself) in the toilet which was very informative including information on the tapeworm. I, myself, was ready to move on after perusing it for about 30 seconds. Between the toilet and the blood-sucking tick, I quickly realized I was not in the right place.

If you have a large family, you may understand what I am about to say. I love the 6 and under play area where the children cannot get out because they have the exit blocked. They had so much available to keep their interests that they weren't even interested in trying to escape and that is HUGE in my book. Aaron and Kara both loved that area. There was water to play with and that was what pretty much kept Aaron's attention the whole time. Kara loved the puzzles and the wooden bananas.

There was so much to look at and see that we didn't get to it all this time around. It's a good thing we have a membership because we'll be going back. There are three levels to explore with an IMAX theater that has different movies available on dinosaurs and bones (you know, science stuff). The staff were so helpful and friendly except when the kids were excitedly running about but I hope they got the evil eye....they should have listened to their mother!

We give this place a seven thumbs up including the homeschool friendly discount they wanted to give our group. They were very accommodating to our needs. We even got an official sign telling our group where to meet that will be displayed when we come again. It makes homeschool field trips so much more enjoyable when the staff at our destination is helpful and they were!