Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Young Moms Have No Idea How Good They Have It. Photography Then and Now.

A few weeks ago I did a link up in which we were asked "How are your photography skills?"

As all good linker uppers do, I went around to read other people's posts. Over and over I read answers similar to "I'm OK, but I'd like to get a DSLR and really learn how to use it".  It got me thinking.  Three thoughts to be exact.

My first thought was, "Ya'll are being too hard on yourselves.  Your photos are fine!"

A close second was, "Manual mode on a DSLR is overrated.  I had a photography business, and I know how to use manual.  And yet every photo I've ever put on this blog has been in an automatic mode."

And my last thought, which I will now expand upon, was, "You young moms have no idea how lucky you are!  With my first four kids, the only camera I had available was a film camera!"


Pick up the camera (or phone), turn it on and start clicking, regardless of the amount of light you are in.  The camera automatically adjusts to the conditions.


 Film came in different ISOs that no one ever understood.  You were supposed to pick out the film speed that was the right kind for the light in which you were going to be taking photos.  Outside on a sunny day?  100.  In darker conditions, say in a picnic pavilion on a cloudy day? a 400 would be your choice.  But say you are at an outdoor birthday party, which starts out beautifully sunny, then halfway through turns awfully cloudy.  What are you to do?  Keep taking photos, of course, because these are moments you'll never relive, even while knowing the photos you are taking are going to suck.


We take a photo and immediately look at it.  If it's good, we move on.  If not, we take the shot again.  And again and again until we get it right.


We took a photo and prayed it would come out.  We had to be stingy with our photo taking, seeing as how we only got to take 12-36 photos before we had to change the roll.  And rolls of film cost money.

First vacation with Phoenix.  That would be my hair falling in front of the lens, partially blocking that adorable face.


Within seconds of taking a photo, we can post it for all the relatives to see.


Once we got to the end of the roll, we had to take the roll to a store to have it developed.  It would be a whole week before we got to see our photos.  Only then could we mail (through the real, live post office) copies to relatives.

The other option (which is the one my older sister chose almost exclusively) was to throw the used roll into a drawer with all of the other undeveloped rolls of film and then forget about them until 11 years later when you were packing to move.  Years of birthday parties were stuck in those little canisters, never to be seen by a single relative.


On those rare occasions that we want to print some photos, we sit at our computer, send the photos we want to print to a store's site, and let them know how many of each photo we want.


As I mentioned before, we had to physically take the rolls to the store.  At said store, we had to fill out confusing and tedious forms to let the processor know what size photos we wanted and how many we wanted.  Mind you, this is all done BEFORE we even know what the photos look like.

We had two options.  First, we could get one print for each frame to see how we liked them.  Once we saw the photos, we could once again take the film back to the store and fill out yet another form, even more confusing and tedious than the one before to let the processor know what we wanted.  OR we just bit the bullet and ordered doubles the first time around.


Every photo we have is a good one, seeing as how we simply delete the bad ones.  They may not be frame-worthy, but they aren't bad.


A full half of the photos would be too dark or blurry to see what we were trying to photograph in the first place, thus getting immediately tossed in the trash.  The other half of the stack wasn't good, but we could at least see the person.

And this is one I kept!  Imagine how bad they had to be for me to actually throw them away.

Worst case scenario, we'd get the photos back only to discover the camera was broken and left big, annoying white spots on every single photo.

No, that is not a UFO. 


Our kids sneak our phones to take pictures, usually of themselves.  Since they are digital, we see them and can get rid of any embarrassing ones before anyone else sees them.  The good ones we post on social media so everyone can have a giggle.


Our kids would sneak our cameras to take pictures, rarely of themselves, seeing as how there was no button to turn the lens around.  It was the person who developed the photos who got to see them first.  It's really only a problem when the kids try to be like mom.  Mom the Photographer takes newborn baby body parts photos to make collages for clients.  Child the Copy Cat takes photos of her preschool-aged brother's body parts and makes the person who develops the photos question the pervertedness of the camera owner.


We take selfies everywhere with our phones, but with a real camera one must use a bathroom mirror.  We're getting pretty good at holding the camera out of the shot in order to get a good selfie.


We had to actually look through the viewfinder to see the photo were were taking.  No sly holding of the camera to the side for us.


We have to be careful not to get our phones wet, as our entire lives are on them.


The one advantage we had in using film was the invention of the disposable camera.  Especially the disposable water camera!  Yup, you could buy a cheap camera on any street corner, then turn in the whole kit and kaboodle when it was time to develop the film.  We were so excited when the water ones came out.  Now, we could expand our photo-taking to the depths of the sea.

Oh yeah.  Totally worth the extra cash to buy the waterproof one.
Yes, we had it rough compared to young moms of today.  We older parents have photo albums (or boxes) full of bad photos of our families.  I couldn't be happier about the invention of digital photography.  I have become a much better photographer with the improved technology, so my photo albums (and computer) look much better.

No one needs a big, fancy camera to take fancy photos.  Technology has made it possible for everyone to be a good photographer.  If you want to improve the quality of your shots, you just need to remember two things.

1.  Lighting.  Make sure you keep an eye on where the sun is in relation to the object/person you are photographing.  Any photo that has both shade and bright light at the same time won't be all that great, especially if the sun is behind the person or if the person is splotchy from sun coming through the leaves of a tree.  Interesting lighting makes or breaks a photo.

2.  Composition.  It's amazing what happens to a photo when you move the object off-center.  Or if you crop out the extra, non-important clutter.  Or if you get down on the ground and change the perspective.

Get creative with the way you take photos.  Take several photos of the same object/person in different ways to practice.  You'll be amazed at how different each photo can be.

But here's the thing.  I don't cherish those older, horrible photos any less than I cherish the more recent good ones.  Every photo I have elicits a memory from a day long ago.  Each photo has a story to go with it, and the kids love to hear those stories, regardless of the quality of the photo we are discussing.

Just take photos, lots of them, without requiring perfection.

Just take photos.

Because you can.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I'm Back from a Vacation. You Must Know What that Means By Now. TToT Week 58

Are you all beginning to think I should just make the jump and call this a travel blog?  I promise, this is the last vacation for a long while.  Probably.

Today, I bring you "Up North: When Chaos Descends on the Quiet Lakes of Wisconsin".

In the form of Ten Things of Thankful, of course.

1.  I forgot to take my real camera, and I could kick myself for it.  I missed out on a whole mess of great shots, including photos of the bald eagle that lived in a pine tree on the shore of our lake.  Fortunately, I did have my camera phone and was able to not just document the trip, but take some good photos, too.

2.  The lake we were on was a "no wake" lake, so it was the perfect place for the kids to swim without worry of getting run over by a boat.

3.  Since I had just gotten my stitches out, I wasn't comfortable getting in the lake with open wounds.  No swimming for me.  However, the house came with boats for us to use.  I didn't need to be able to walk in order to paddle a kayak, let some kids take me for a spin in a paddle boat, or take a ride on a pontoon boat at sunset.

I took this photo of Buttercup and our friend kayaking.

Bryan took this one of me.  Apparently, his motto is "Who cares if the photo looks good, so long as I get the photo?"
4.  It seemed the houses on the lake were mostly owned and not rented out.  Through the week, we saw very few people out on the water.  This was fortunate, seeing as how we are very noisy, competitive people.  We can't simply relax.  At some point each day, a competition was inevitable.

It could be a game of dodgeball, kayaks vs. paddle boat...

or kayak relay races around the island.

The start

the finish.  I had a good lead when I got the kayak.  Unfortunately, making turns isn't a skill that I possess.   Phoenix passed me first. That arrow is pointing to me coming around from the far side of the island.  I'll get passed by another kayak before I finish.

Either way, we're loud and obnoxious and not fit for other vacationers trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of a small lake.

5.  No vacation with our friends would be complete without a trip to a baseball field.  (I told you we are competitive!)  Fortunately, Giant has eagle eyes and spotted the one and only field we found all week.

Baseball fields aren't just for baseball.

6.  Every year, Bryan brings fishing poles.  Every year, kids fish for about 10 minutes.  Not the case this year.  Right off the dock, the kids were catching fish left and right.  Most of the kids were out on the dock every day, multiple times a day.  According to Cuckoo's count, he caught 1,003 fish.

Mostly, though, I'm glad I never had to touch a worm, a leech, or a fish.  Bryan brought the poles, Bryan can be in charge of that activity.

7.  What, I ask you, is vacation without ice cream?  Bonus!  The place we found had huge portions and reasonable prices.

8.  While I was able to participate in most every activity, there were some things I just couldn't do with a bum knee.  Hiking was one of those things.  Fortunately, I was still able to enjoy myself.

They found a nice, peaceful, pretty spot to park me so I could read and enjoy the scenery

while they went out and explored the forest.

This was the end of the hike.  Cuckoo and Turken were exhausted and bummed some rides.
9.  I did get to do the short hike to "Cascade Pines", though.  It was a gorgeous spot untouched by loggers.  By the time I caught up to the kids, they had already started a game similar to hide and seek, but more fun and more obnoxious.  I was a bit worried when an older couple came upon us, thinking we were intruding on their quiet.  Fortunately, they were our kind of people.  They smiled and told us they used to bring their kids up there to play the exact same game as well as dodgeball.  Dodgeball.  In the forest.  Brilliant.  I have no doubt we'll be trying that next year.

Giant is "It", the two on the bench were caught, and Buttercup and Turken are still hiding.
10.  While there were plenty of activities and things to do, the best part, for me, was being witness to the little moments.  The high fives between Turken and a big kid.  The hugs shared between my kids and our friends.  The laughter of the big kids over a private, shared joke.  With me still being down much of the time, I was able to see more of these small moments than usual.  It made my heart fit to burst.

What happened in your world this week to make your heart happy?  I'd love to hear about it either in the comments or in your own post.  Link it up!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Three Brains Working Together Makes One Odd Post

The funny, funny Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum was kind enough to help out all of us vacationing and taxiing bloggers.  She put together 7 Mad-Libs from which we can choose to copy, paste, and complete on our blogs.  Since I am a vacationing blogger (Robbers, we have a house and farm sitter, so don't get any ideas.) I grabbed one.

I chose the "inspirational mommy" post option.

Giant helped.  I asked for the part of speech, he gave me the word to plug in.  His words are in bold type.

Yesterday, I  sang with all the kids in tow, and it struck me how happily life will eat with these vacations of mine. Many people would say Wowzers! and let pizza take a backseat, or simply not notice all the green masterpieces that a green pepper creates for us. As a mom, when I struggle, I find fast from salami and I want to ride every mom who colored to do the same. You can. We can. A roller coaster can. Together, everything is possible for our kids, without sacrificing our grass.

Well, I don't think Kelly meant for this to go all Rated R on us.  Oh well.  It's why everyone likes a Mad-Lib.  There's always that danger of something bizarre or inappropriate coming out.

Hope your week (and, more importantly, mine) is going well!

Have a lovely day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pain, Pigs, Pitching In, and Personal Hygiene, TToT Week 57

It's only Wednesday, and I already have enough thankful things to write a post!  I guess when a person is stuck on a couch, unable to do much of anything besides go to the bathroom, being waited on hand and foot, she has plenty of time to see the good things going on around her.

Plus, writing a thankful list helps said invalid focus on something besides feeling sorry for her sleep-deprived, uncomfortable self.

This week I'm thankful...

1.  for my ability to come off the pain medicines.  They were making me completely loopy, but even worse was the vomiting I was doing most mornings.  I've managed to get down to only one pain pill a day, usually in the late afternoon.  My head is clear and able to finally read some books.

2.  for a working carpool.  Phoenix and Buttercup have high school soccer practice every night.  Fortunately, someone from Phoenix's team lives close by.  She picks both of my kids up to take them, and Bryan brings them home afterwards.  He has been busier than he's ever been in his life at work, so he stays until 7:30 and can just pick the kids up on his way home.  It's working out nicely, since I don't have to rely on my friend to drive both ways.

3.  the kids are still able to have fun this summer despite my absence and inability to drive.  I have felt badly for my kids, thinking they were getting robbed of a fun summer.  Except they're not.  They've all gotten to do fun things this year.  This week, Star is at Boy Scout camp and the little boys went to a friend's house to play most of the day.  It was quite a logistical feat to get the little boys to her house, but people have been so kind to not only offer but call and insist to do such things for them.

4.  the kids are willing and able to cook.  All of the kids have been pitching in to get breakfast and lunches for the little boys and me each day.  This week, Giant (the 11 year old) has basically been in charge of dinner.  With the oldest three kids gone during dinner time, and Bryan not getting home with them until after 8:30, that leaves the three youngest kids and me left to fend for ourselves.  Giant has been a trooper, doing basically all of it on his own.

5.  for my mom making it home safely after a once in a lifetime cruise to Alaska.  My 65 year old mother went on every excursion that was offered, including walking over a suspension bridge 200 ft in the air and ziplining even higher.  During the whale watching excursion, she got to see something the guide had never seen before. She promised everyone that no one they know has or will ever see what they got to see.  My mom watched humpack whales successfully execute a bubble net.  Ever heard of it?

She took no photos, despite the fact it occurred 15 yards away from her.  She said it was just too unbelievable of an experience she didn't want to miss by looking through a camera.  Clearly, I didn't get my blogging/document everything gene from her.

I showed the kids the above video and told them that Nana had gotten to see it for real.  Later, Cuckoo came to me and we had the following conversation:

C:  I know why they call them hump whales.
Me:  Really?
C:  Yes.  It's because they swim upside down.
M:  Oh, is that what you think?
C:  No.  They actually do.

6.  that Kris came over to help us can green beans.  The beans...they are a growin'.  Bryan and the kids have been picking them like crazy.  Only problem is, I can't stand and do all the work involved in canning them.  Kris, aka Mrs. Always Random, has been wanting to learn how to can.  I sat on a stool in the kitchen and told her what to do.  Thanks to her, I have 7 quarts of green beans on the shelf, she has a new skill and a gob of beans, zucchini, and eggs to eat at home.

7.  that I am able to get up and do a few things.  While canning would require too much standing and precarious movement on crutches, other things are more within the range of safe.  Last night, I made omelets for the three youngest and me for dinner.  I have finally been able to get upstairs and sleep in my own bed without fear of waking Bryan up several times in the middle of the night.  And I shaved.  That was huge.

8.  to see the boys becoming real farmers and problem solvers.  While Phoenix and Giant were in the garden picking beans, Giant looked up to see 2 pigs standing there watching them.  Did they panic?  No.  Did they waste time coming to tell me?  No.  They simply solved the problem.  Phoenix grabbed a zucchini from the garden and lured one of the pigs back to the pen.  They both then used their brawn and brains to corral the other one back.  I didn't know anything about it until Phoenix came to me asking for a bungee cord.  It seems the pigs got through our two-"lock" system.  They chewed through the bungee cord, then broke through the chain on the gate.  He came to ask for another cord, which he installed higher than the pigs can reach.

9.  for Bryan's job.  He has been working ridiculous hours for the first time in years.  It's bad, as he hasn't been home to see the little boys all week, but I'm grateful that he has a job and is in demand.  Plus, despite all the work that still needs done, he will still be able to go on our annual vacation with friends this weekend.  (Would-be robbers, don't get excited.  Our house sitters will be here.)

10.  for my friend who took me to my follow up doctor appointment.  Bryan had to work, then head down to pick Star up at camp before we could leave for vacation.  My appointment was right in the middle of it all, and I'm not cleared to drive yet.  A friend was kind and generous enough to take me.

Update after the appointment:  Stitches are out, and I'm cleared to drive as long as I'm not taking any pain medicine.  I don't even have to wear a brace anymore.  Physical therapy will start soon.  I'm glad to be done with the brace, but, my word, I'm skittish.  And walking hurts more. Giant even commented that I look worse now than when I left for the appointment.  I guess fear will do that to a person.  I'm scared to death of getting bumped in the knee.  It's so exposed.

two of the 4 incision points

Don't be alarmed when I don't get to go around reading and commenting this weekend or when you don't see any posts from me this week.  I won't have internet access most of the time we're gone.  Doesn't mean you can't link up or tell me in the comments about the things which made you stop and say thank you this week.  Lots of people will come by and read about them.

Have a lovely week!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Running in Circles...Literally

The working subtitle to that title is...

New T-shirt idea:  I Spent 15 Minutes Trying to Come Up with a Witty Title and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.  And an Even Worse Title


I sit on the couch with my leg out in front of me, ice firmly strapped to my knee, and a blanket draped over me to keep the inevitable chill out of my bones.

Cuckoo is running laps.  

TV room, game room, dining room, piano room, TV room, game room, dining room, piano room.

Round and round and round he goes.

Through the rooms named after their contents instead of their uses.

Until he stops.

Directly in front of me.

In the TV room.

He asks, "Who are you cheering for?"

Me:  Who's racing?

C:  Me and the magic people.

Me:  Well, you of course.

C:  OK, I'm in second.

And off he goes.

For months and months Cuckoo has had not an imaginary friend, but a magic friend.  His friend shows up every once in a while to go for a ride in the van or have a meal with us, but usually it is to play a board game with Cuckoo.  

After a week being cooped up at home with a mom who can't drive, the magic friend came to play, and the game of choice today is "race".

Magic friend brought friends of his own. 

From the sounds of it, there are quite a few.

Me:  Are you winning yet?

C:  (as he runs past for the 5th time he calls out):  There is one ahead of me and a whole bunch behind me!

On each lap, I gather a bit more information.  

Apparently, the magic people have wonderful sportsmanship.

C (as he stops in front of me again):  Time out.

Me:  Does everyone just stop where they are when you need to stop?

C:  Yes.

M:  That's awfully nice of them.

It seems they aren't very tall.  Or perhaps they have weak legs.

C (as he runs by for the 9th time):  I get ahead of them every time we have to do the jump!  They can't make it over!

Aha!  That's what the big thump is when he runs past the steps!

Magic friends have special magic powers.

C (as he runs by for the 14th time):  I have to be fast!  They can teleport!

Giant (who had just come into the room.  Where we keep the TV.):  Ha!  Teleport.

Me:  I thought that's what he said.  How does he know the word 'teleport'?

Giant:  Minecraft.  The efflins* can do it.

As I sit on the couch, with my knee sutured and taped, I ponder.

I ponder the the energy of kids.

Mine specifically.

At the recent 4th of July party/family reunion at my dad's, my cousin's husband commented, "All 5 of your boys are ALL boy."  I smiled and nodded.  "What gave it away?"

"We have been here for 7 hours.  They have not stopped moving."

No.  They rarely do.

My boys are bundles of irrepressible energy. .All of my boys, when they were little, used to run in circles through the house.   At some point, they each simply stopped.  They didn't stop moving, but they stopped running in circles taking them nowhere.

I wonder why.  What happens to make a child stop running in circles, racing imaginary magic friends?  I want to know so badly.  I find the workings of the brain and development completely fascinating.

But that's not why.

I really want to know because I still have one boy who runs in circles through the house.  One of these days, his run through the house will be his last.  I want to know which one.  I'm afraid I'll miss it for what it is, instead of mistaking it for the normal that will not change.

There are so many things I missed as the last time because I didn't know it was.  The last time a baby blew kisses.  The last time I changed a diaper.  The last time I fed a baby a bottle.  The last time a preschooler sang "I'm a Little Teapot".  So many last events.

I didn't notice the last times when I had so many little people scattered about my feet.

Now that I'm down to one little person, I am noticing.  And I'm trying to keep track of as many as I can.

I'm lucky to have older kids.  Just looking at my 15 year old, taller-than-me-by 5 inches boy reminds me that things most certainly change.  It helps me remember to appreciate all of these normal, may-be-the-last moments I see each and every day. These older kids also give me perspective.  Yes, I am seeing many behaviors and hearing many adorable mispronunciations for the very last time.  But I must keep in mind all of the first things I still have to see and hear from him.  His first day of preschool is looming.  There are plenty of firsts to look forward to once that hits.

This recovery from surgery is a big double-edged sword.  I'm having the time to observe and really soak in the wonderful and normal things my kids are doing, but I also have the time to dwell on the rapidity of time running at a full-on sprint.

Sometimes I just wish time was running in a circle, so I can relive all of these wonderful, normal things all over again.

But usually, I just try to thank my lucky stars that I see the things I see and can relive them in my mind whenever I darn well please.

Have mercy, I'm a blubbering mess, ya'll.

And I can't blame the meds.  I haven't taken a pain pill in 18 hours.

*A note of clarification, so Giant doesn't look like a goober to anyone who reads this blog and is also up on his Minecraft characters. (I would guess the number would hover around zero people, so if you fall into both categories of blog reader and Minecraft expert, let me know.):  Efflin isn't the word.  It's endermen who can teleport.  Sorry for the confusion.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Clearing Things Up and Some Old Photos, Answer Me This!

I don't get to do this often, but with all of the extra time I have on my hands this week, I get to link up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for her weekly Answer Me This.

1. How did you get your name?

My dad and I talked about it not that long ago.  I had two separate stories from his younger days mashed up together.  To set the record straight with everyone to whom I had previously told the story, I was NOT named after my dad's fiance that died in a tragic drowning in her backyard.  While a girl he dated did die in such a manner, I was named after a girl he knew from even earlier in his life.  Two sisters who lived nearby were named Crissy and Susy.  My sister and I are named Christine and Susan, but were always called Crissy and Susy until adulthood, when we immediately went to our legal names.    

2. Do you have a set time for prayer in your day?

I don't, besides before meals.  It goes in spurts.  When the young kids are in a sleeping in cycle, I can have a time in the morning to pray and read the Bible.  Otherwise, I don't.  I will stop and say a short prayer many times throughout the day, be it a thank you, a please help, or a be with this person.  I will listen to Catholic talk radio stations or Christian music stations when I drive.  Every day, when people ask for prayers or I offer to pray for someone, I tuck it in my heart.  At some point each day, I ask God to remember all of those I placed in my heart.  He knows who they are, and He knows what they need more than I do.

3. Did your mom work or stay home (or both)?

Despite our parents' divorce when I was in 2nd grade, my mom stayed at home with us until I was in middle school.  She was a great, fun mom, and I appreciate the sacrifices my parents made for this to be possible.  My dad was a policeman on a very limited salary.  I know it wasn't easy to raise four kids (with two homes) on that salary.

My mom and me.  We're a lot alike.

4. Do you vote?

Usually.  Sometimes it just doesn't happen.  

5. What's your favorite drink?

I rarely drink anything besides milk and water.  If you are talking about alcoholic drinks, I enjoy a strawberry daiquiri.  Bryan and I honeymooned at a resort in Key West.  The bar on the beach had a fantastic strawberry daiquiri.  By 10:30 each day, we'd be looking at our watches, wondering when was too early to go down to get one.  Delicious.  

However, daiquiris aren't readily available anywhere.  I will also be happy with a mojito.  Or a Pimms.  (Hey England!)  Or just about anything someone offers me.

from our anniversary overnighter 2 years ago

6. How are your photography skills?

Not bad.

When the big kids were little, I got tired of dragging them to get their photos professionally taken.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and take some myself.  They turned out pretty well.  People started asking me to take photos of their kids, so I did.  Bryan being the attorney that he is, he made me officially open up a business.  So, I had a small photography business for about 5 years, taking senior, family, newborn, and holiday portraits for people.  Once I got pregnant with Cuckoo, I had to give it up.   The hours of a photographer just don't work for a stay-at-home mom with 6 kids, 4 of whom are getting to be active and school-aged. 

Now, I just take photos for fun.  I see good shots everywhere I go, but only get to take a small fraction of them.

Buttercup's First Communion.  I'd scan the first photos I took to show you, but I'm currently not allowed to walk.

From our recent anniversary trip to Europe without kids.  More artsy ones can be seen in the post.
That's it!  Six questions.

If you want to join in, head on over to Kendra's!

So, here is the awkward no-way-to-end this post sentence before I say...

Have a lovely day!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Post-Op: You May Need Your Own Anti-Nausea Meds After This, TToT #56

For months you've been reading about my knee injury.  From the injury itself to the recovery and the fear it would ruin our anniversary trip to the physical therapy to the surgery.  You've stuck with me, and I appreciate it.  You're almost to the end.

But not





1.  I am thankful that the surgeon operated on the correct leg.  I was quite surprised when the nurse handed me a marker and had me mark the injured knee with the word "yes".   (I guess one too many doctors fixed something that wasn't broken one too many times.)  The surgery went well, and my knee seems to be healing according to plan.

2.  I am thankful for the outpouring of well wishes and check-ins.  So many people have been calling/texting/and writing to make sure we are OK and offering to do whatever we need.  While we haven't had to take too many people up on their offers, it is calming to know that I have people to call on if needed.

3.  I am thankful that bloggers are blogging.  Daytime TV is horrible, and focusing on a book is way too taxing for my drugged brain.  Blog posts are much easier to read.  And I do mean easier, not easy.  It takes me up to 20 minutes to read one post.  If you read Wednesday's post, you won't be surprised to hear that I have frequently been awoken by my iPad hitting me on the forehead after I have fallen asleep while reading a post.  Commenting on the posts can be even more trying.  So, if you have written a post this week, I promise you I've read it, whether I've left a comment or not.  If I left a comment that makes no sense, I'm sorry.  Or you're welcome, depending on how funny it is.

4.  I am thankful for a good old fashioned sponge bath.  I'm not allowed to take a shower for at least three days after surgery, and that is just way too long for me to lie about in my own stench.  My hair is still as slick as a Parisian pickpocketer, but my armpits are mostly clean.

5.  I am thankful that my feet are OK. I'm pretty sure.  When I took my socks off last night, I noticed something very odd about my piggies and went into a bit of a panic.

  Bad photo, but perhaps you can tell...

They are vastly different colors.  The left foot has a spooky, pale, almost ghostly-white tint.  The one on the right has an Oompah Loompah hue.  After closer inspection, I've decided they simply rubbed my whole leg down with iodine or some such thing before surgery.  I know, one would assume I'd have been able to figure this out when I gave myself a sponge bath, but I can't bend my leg that far.  I can't actually wash my foot, and the kids weren't about to do it. (They've had to do much worse.  You'll see.  I couldn't ask them to wash my feet, too.) Bryan hasn't been home before 9:30 each night, so it stays for now.  But I'm pretty sure I figured it out.  I'm fine.

6.  I am thankful for the kids' low expectations for dinner.  I planned easy, easy meals for the big kids to put together this week, but even those aren't getting completely made.  Last night, they had Kraft Mac and Cheese.  That's it.  Tonight, leftover tortellini.  Without sauce.  We ran out on Tuesday when we originally had it.  They're not eating well, but they're eating.  And nobody is complaining.  Yet.

7.  I'm thankful that Buttercup left a plastic laundry basket next to the couch.  Almost as thankful as Star is.  I had cereal for the first time since surgery this morning.  The moment I took a bite, the milk didn't taste right. (It wasn't the milk.  It was the meds.  Several things don't taste right.)  After a few more bites, my stomach was feeling exceptionally unwell.  I stopped eating, but that didn't solve the problem.  Soon enough, that plastic laundry basket held what used to be the contents of my stomach.  Guess I'm not quite ready for dairy yet.

8.  I'm thankful that Star didn't put up a single bit of fuss when he was the first one awake and was promptly asked to take the vomit-filled basket outside and wash it out with the hose.

Cuckoo was nice enough to snag the photo for me.

9.  I am thankful for Buttercup's baking ability.  Without any help from us, our first-ever planting of zucchini is thriving in the garden.  We have a mountain of zucchini on our kitchen counter.  Buttercup has been making bread as fast as she can.  Each person that comes to take one of our kids somewhere gets a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, and a zucchini as a thank you.

10.  I am thankful for cuddles.  Turken is taking full advantage of my recovery time and lays on top of me as often as possible.  Today, we cuddled on the couch for 2 hours.  It's been marvelous.

Thank you again for your prayers, your well wishes, and your calls of concern.  I very much appreciate them.

Before you go, let me know what has made you smile this week.  (I'll even be OK if all you can come up with is that horrible photo Bryan took of me that was posted here on Wednesday.)

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Post Took Two Days to Write as I Drifted In and Out of Consciousness. Enjoy.

"You are a bad driver!"

It's just one of the uncharacteristicly not nice things I said to my poor, doting husband in my drugged stupor on our drive home from surgery.

I was layed out in the back seat of his car, wickedly loopy.  Apparently, I get chatty when I'm wickedly loopy.

I also told him that "I love pudding.  CHOCOLATE pudding!"  I'm told that Bryan then said something about Bill Cosby.  I replied, "I think I know who that is."

As Bryan drove, I would moan and groan every couple of minutes.  He asked if the bumps hurt my knee.  "No!  Every time you hit a bump, my head bounces off then back on the window!  My head hurts!"

Quickly followed by...

"Oh!  Bill Cosby is a comedian!"

I guess some things don't change when I'm drugged.

I wasn't allowed to eat any solid foods for 24 hours, so when Bryan went into the pharmacy to get my meds, he looked for some chocolate pudding for me.  I was left in the back of the car.

By myself.

For hours.

I think.

I remember alternating between sleeping and wondering what in the world was taking him so long.

Out loud.

I vaguely remember looking out the window he had partially rolled down for me (not all the way, seeing as how my head was leaning back on it.) and calling out, "What is taking so long??"

Then sleeping.

Then calling out again, "Where are you??"

Then sleeping again.

I can only imagine what the customers going in and out of the store were thinking about the situation.  (One of my clues that he was in there a long time...other customers were going in and out.)

Finally, finally, we were on our way again and made it all the way home.

The kids came out to greet me, not because they missed me, but they were eager to see what sort of hilarious stupor I was in.

I did not disappoint.

It took me 15 minutes to get to the front porch from the car using my crutches.  I was convinced that I was going to fall.  At one point I quoted one of the dolls Buttercup used to own.  It was a doll that could stand up, but at one point would lose its balance and yell, "Woooaahh!  Catch me, Mommy!"

As I thought I was falling, I hollered, "Wooaah!  Catch me, Mommy!" and panicked, letting go of the crutches and grabbing hold of Phoenix, practically taking us both down.

So it felt like.

Apparently, Bryan had a death grip on me from behind and I never lost my balance at all.

As I came to the front door, Bryan warned me of the little bump going into the house.  He said, "Watch out for the threshold."

I stopped, completely confused.

"That's called a threshold?"

After I cleared that hurdle, I had to stop and scratch my nose.

According to the children, I said, "This anesthesia is making my nose itch.  Or giving me boogers," as I scratched and rubbed my nose to death.

Since arriving home, I haven't left the couch except to go to the bathroom.

I drift in and out of sleep with astonishing speed.

To illustrate, a photo Bryan couldn't resist taking...

I was eating my first cup of much-anticipated pudding...

when I passed out cold.

I woke up sometime later, still holding the pudding and the spoon, to finish eating as if nothing odd had happened.

I've been icing my knee.

And doing the exercises as best I can.

The first time I went to the bathroom unaided, I fell.

Thankfully, I had chosen to get "the block" before I left OrthoIndy.  (Chosen in this case used very loosely.  I couldn't focus on much of anything at the time, and was pretty much led to the decision by Bryan and the anesthesiologist.)

They were the two worst shots I have ever had in my life, but they meant my leg was completely numb for 24 hours.

I fell hard enough to bend the metal bars in my brace, but I never felt a thing.

Even my pride wasn't hurt too bad, seeing as how I had managed to get my pants back up before I fell.

I was allowed to take the dressing off yesterday.

Wanna see?

If not, scroll by real fast.

I wrote that "yes" on my leg before surgery.

They gave me the marker and told me to.

The rest was all them.

Once I was mostly coherent at home, Bryan recounted the conversation I had supposedly had with the doctor.  I supposedly at graham crackers, too.

I remember none of it.

The one meniscus tear wasn't repaired.  He just cut off a flap of tissue.

The other meniscus tear was sutured back together.

The ACL was a torn-up mess.  He had a lot of cleaning up to do before he fixed it.

And guess how he fixed it.

With donor tissue.

I'm still too groggy to really think that through, but I'm awake enough to be blown away by the information.

I'll be writing a thank you to the family once I'm less medicated.


I think I've said all I need to say at this point.

I know many of you have been praying for me and wondering how the surgery went.

Thank you.  It is amazing how calming it was to know people were praying for me.

I'm going back to sleep now.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

M-O-R-A-T-O-R-I-U-M! What's That Spell? (TToT #55)

Mommy gets a break!

My favorite word for 2014 is moratorium.

It has been the oddest summer of all time.  The kids have been out of school for an entire month, and we still haven't been to the pool.  Between the knee injury/therapy, Turken playing baseball, Buttercup's unexpected trip to Kansas with her soccer team, and our trip to Europe, nothing is normal.  To make it even more "fun", we now have 2 kids in high school, trying out for the 2 soccer teams (one male, one female), each with a new coach.  Practices have been going on since the beginning of June, and they have to go to all of them in order to not repeat the disaster of last year's tryouts.  It means many trips to the high school each week, usually during dinner time.

In high school, there is a wonderful thing called "moratorium".  No high school teams are allowed to have practice of any kind during moratorium week.  This year, it just happens to fall the week after baseball is over and the one week I don't have therapy.  And because I managed to fit all 7 dentist appointments in before I left for Europe, we have an entire week without a single thing on the calendar.



Not one darn thing.

Basically, it's what the entire summer used to be.

That right there could be my entire list of 10 things, but what fun is that?

To the list!

2.  We've had time to start attacking the jungle our yard has become.  No joke, there were weeds next to the house taller than Cuckoo.  Between the 6 and a half inches of rain this June, my absence from home, and Buttercup's mowing ability (She doesn't do edges, so around all trees, buildings, and fences are 2-foot wide areas of weeds the size of trees.) our yard looks like an abandoned property.  We began the process of rectifying that.  Once an area was cleared, we put some mulch down.  No planting occurred, but the mulch is there acting as a place holder for future planting.

3.  My surgery was rescheduled for next week, so I get to go to my dad's big 4th of July party in Ohio after all.  (FYI to any would-be burglars:  Bryan isn't going.  He's staying home to work.)  I don't think I could have survived another photo like this one my dad took last year when not one person came to his house for the 4th.

When he posted this on facebook with the message "Happy 4th of July" our entire family (about 50 people) got on the phone and decided the 10th of August was a great day to celebrate the 4th of July.

4.  The kids were able to have friends over.  With practices and appointments and just everything, my kids rarely get to have friends to spend the night.  On Tuesday, we had three extra kids here.  I loved it.

5.  With no practices, I've been able to make dinners.  We've eaten well every night this week.

6.  My friend who is temporarily (for three years) living in Japan is back for a visit, and I've been able to meet up with her three times already, twice of them just this week.  With a 13 hour time difference, we don't get to chat on the phone very often.  It's been so nice to catch up with her again.

7.  The weather has been perfectly lovely.  The beginning of the week was the usual hot and muggy, but the end of the week has been pleasantly cool.  Like high of 70 cool.  Very unusual for this time of year, but I'll take it!

8.  Mulberry season is upon us.  We have at least 15 mulberry trees on our property, and the fruit is starting to ripen.  We've been picking them daily.  Some we've given to the chickens right away, but most have been put into a frozen "pie" for a later this year.

9.  I used to be so good about printing photos and putting them in the kids' albums.  The last two years, not so much.  (Basically, when I really got into this blogging thing, I stopped.  So many photos are on the blog, I put it at the bottom of the priority list.)  However, my friend Jen had been on facebook warning everyone to back up their computers.  She has lost months worth of photos because she's had computers crash twice.  Between that and our internet service not working well for several days, I took the time to go through a bunch of them.  I deleted many and made a list of ones I want to print.  I even downloaded some onto the stores' site in preparation for printing.

10.  Did I mention it's moratorium week?  I love moratorium week.

Your turn!  What has put a smile on your face this week?

To my American readers, Happy 4th of July!  To everyone else, Happy normal weekend!  

Either way, have a lovely day.

Ten Things of Thankful

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Last Post about Europe. Mostly because I'll Be Obsessing about Going Under the Knife Next Week.

I'm doing a link up so as to make you think I'm writing off of a prompt instead of simply writing another post about our trip.  Today I shall choose 7 Quick Takes with Jen.

One time... in London...

************** 1 *************

After seeing the movie National Lampoon's European Vacation, it is physically impossible to go on a roundabout (any roundabout) without quoting this scene:

It is equally impossible to stand in the middle of a roundabout in front of Big Ben...and Parliament...without making a horrible scene that includes multiple shouts of "I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE IN A ROUNDABOUT IN FRONT OF BIG BEN!"  AND PARLIAMENT!"

Clearly, those two people on the lawn have never seen the movie.

It's not even the same roundabout, but that fact could not and will not dampen my enthusiasm.

**************2 ***********

In beautiful Trafalgar Square, directly in front of the National Gallery, one will find this:

For the love of all that is holy, why would you do this, England?  WHY?  If you are going to put a 20ft blue chicken on a pedestal, at least put it someplace appropriate.  Like in America, where a ridiculous, redneck, blue chicken would be appreciated for the wonderfulness that it is.

***************** 3 ************

In case Phoenix continues to have trouble remembering to do his homework over the next couple of years, we found a solution to his post-high school needs.

In case you can't read the gate, it says, "GOODENOUGH COLLEGE", right there in gold.

I wonder what their slogan is.  Perhaps...

It isn't Ivy League.  It's not even Ivy Tech.  But, hey, it's Good Enough!

As long as it's good enough to get my homework-challenged son a job, I'm all for it.

************** 4 **********

We discovered that at least a rudimentary knowledge of French would be extremely helpful when visiting France.  Everywhere we went, even in museums, signs looked like this:

As we roamed around Paris, including The Louvre, we kept saying, "Man, it would really help if we knew some French."  I know all of about 3 words, and I felt like a fraud when I would say "merci" to someone.  It just didn't flow from the tongue.

Ordering in restaurants was sometimes tricky.  I had a hard time even understanding the waiters who were speaking English.  For example, after I ordered some water to drink with my meal, the waiter was asking me a question I could not figure out.  Finally Bryan jumped in and saved me.  Apparently he was asking, "Gas or no gas?"  No gas in my water, por favor.

On our last night, I did get to use one of the three French words I know when I ordered dessert.  Creme brulee.  The waitress had been delightfully fun the entire evening, up until she brought out the brulee.  She actually lit it while standing next to the table and placed the fired-up dessert in front of me.  While I've eaten creme brulee many times, I have never seen it actually on fire before. I thought they just used one of those torches I've seen on Chopped to melt the sugar on top.  So of course, with the fire licking my nose hairs, I was a bit startled.  The waitress looked at me and my shock, waved her hands over the dessert, and said with a smirk, "brulee means fire".  I didn't need to know French to know she was totally making fun of me.

It seems it wasn't just in England that I had the reputation of being a stupid American tourist.

***************** 5 ************

We found that getting water is always an adventure in Europe.

In England, we found this:

In case you're having trouble reading it, the fountain was sponsored/purchased by the "Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association".  While I'm not surprised that either of these associations would be struggling with keeping their member numbers up, necessitating a need to join with another organization, I am surprised at this.  Who should be more offended by this joining of forces, us or the cows?

In Paris, Bryan found this:

Right there in the middle of the sidewalk (next to the motorcycles that really do park all over the sidewalks), he saw a statue with water falling out of the top part and into the bottom part. He immediately stuck his empty water bottle in the stream of water.  "What in the world are you doing:!?!?!" I screeched.

He replied, "Look at the sign.  We may not speak French, but that symbol is universal."

Once again, my vast knowledge of French kicked into gear.  The only time I've heard "eau de" it was followed by "toilet".  Eau de Paris does not sound like it is something one should be drinking, regardless of that drawing.  I, though, was in the minority.  A bit of a crowd formed behind him.  Seems we weren't the only tourists looking for some non-gassed water, and they were willing to simply follow Bryan's lead in assuming the water was potable.

Made me think the joining of the drinking fountain association and the cattle trough association wasn't so far-fetched after all.

***************** 6 ***********

I'm going to stop here and issue a public apology to Lizzi.  She was such a good hostess, driving up to get me and planning such a fun visit.  Did you catch the part about us meeting in a hot bridge over the expressway halfway between her house and the house of the friend with whom I had spent the previous two days?  It was quite a walk back to her car.  She refused to let me take care of my own luggage.  You will understand the sacrifice she made when you see my luggage...

It was a wedding gift.

The wedding we were celebrating on this trip.

Because it was 20 years ago.

Back before luggage had big wheels and uber-useful handles to drag the 35 pounds of clothing and other essentials.

Lizzi carried that large suitcase all the way to her car.  In front of her.  Like it was a preschooler in the throws of a temper tantrum.

Why must I apologize?

Because once in London, I realized I had the strap for the luggage.

The strap that one should attach to the little hookie-do in order to take advantage of the little wheels on the bottom of the suitcase.

It's not as smooth as the new, fancy, easy-rolling luggage, and it makes one heck of a squeaky racket, but it is infinitely easier to manage.

I am sorry, Lizzi.

Send me the bill for your chiropractor.

And I promise to have new luggage the next time I visit.

**************** 7 **************

And lastly, a story to give you a better idea of the kind of person Bryan is...

He can't be trusted.

We were having a lovely morning in Kew Gardens, a gigantic botanical garden that even kids would love.  There is a barefoot walk, where people are supposed to shed their shoes and walk through all sorts of different obstacles.

Do the tan lines make it obvious that I don't wear sandals very often?
 And there was a walkway through the treetops.

The weather was perfect, and we were having a fantastically relaxing morning.

At one point, we were attempting to find a building of some sort.  Bryan had seen it on the map, but we were having trouble locating it.  As I was standing in a pocket of trees, peering around the bend, Bryan, who was many yards behind me, said, "Look up."

I, being the dutiful wife, looked up.  And saw nothing.

When I gave him a quizzical look, he replied, "Look straight up."

That's it.  No warning.  No "take ten steps to your left then look up".  Nothing.  Just "look straight up".

So I looked straight up.

Right into the hind end of this:

Those feathers were mere inches above my head.

He is the luckiest man alive.  If that bird would have pooped when I looked up, 20 years is all he would have gotten out of me.

Fortunately, the peacock did not relieve himself at that moment.  And he didn't seem phased when I screamed and ran away.

While I was still in shock and awe about the peacock roosting above me, a woman walked by.  I said to her, "There's a peacock in the tree over there".  Because peacocks are cool when one is expecting to see them and they aren't directly over one's head.  And apparently I talk a lot when I'm in shock.

She haughtily replied, "Yes.  Lots of them live here," and continued on her way.

All the while, Bryan stood there laughing.  And laughing.  And laughing and laughing.

And with that, you, Dear Readers, have endured your last post about Europe.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

On Saturday we'll have our usual Ten Things of Thankful link up, in which I won't mention Europe, London, or Paris even once.

And all next week you'll get to hear about my surgery.

Lucky you.

Have a lovely day!