Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vaccination is a subject that elicits emotional responses from both those promoting forced use of multiple vaccines and those defending the human right to informed consent to vaccination. It involves a personal examination of what we know, fear, believe and value because what we choose to do can profoundly affect the health and lives of those we love the most.
Please read more from Barbara Loe Fisher, President of the NVIC, in her blog entry called Vaccination, Ignorance, Prejudice & Greed at http://www.vaccineawakening.blogspot.com/.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We're back from Michigan!

Hello again, everyone!

Wow. The last 3 weeks just flew by!

We started off with the excitement of having Karyn and the kids coming to our house, staying the night and caravaning up to our home town. We considered riding all in one van with our car top carrier for the luggage, but I wanted to visit my sister in a different town and Karyn wanted to go other places as well. We decided to follow each other for the 8 hour drive north.

We arrived all at once and flooded my parents house with suitcases, toys, seven more mouths to feed and one dog! The parents were thrilled, though. Our parents had called and emailed both Karyn and I in the weeks before our arrival, telling us how eager and excited they were about our visit. We were thrilled ourselves. We've been traveling to Michigan for most of the month of July for a few years now. The party we have for our summer birthdays has become a bash that we send invitations to extended family members to come now. This year, however, we were bummed when four of the young party goers who attended last year didn't come this time! :(

Karyn and I were thrilled with the party this year. It was a Luau theme with hanging fish, themed dishes and cups, leis for all and flowers in the girls' hair. We had a ring toss game and would have even done the Limbo had we not been enjoying the company of family and friends and forgot. The kids made fish sun catchers out of used CD's and took home summer themed sand art (which I did later and thought it was pretty cool!) There were flower tattoos for the girls and pirates for the boys. I think Karyn gave one to all who let her! LOL

My boys and I traveled a bit NW to visit my sister Amanda and her three beautiful daughters Rayne, Randi and Emma. They welcomed a new addition to their family back in June. Landon Jamie Allen was born June 7th. After three girls Amanda and hubby Jamie were thrilled when their surprise baby was the boy they had been wishing for!

Rayne hasn't gotten so tall and with her long dark hair and beautiful eyes, she looks older than the 8 years that she is. If you visited my website a couple months back you may have read the alert about six year old Randi. Her mom had to rush her to Grand Rapids because that little angel was in kidney failure. After first being diagnosed with Lupus, the doctor's now think her condition was a one time thing and are weaning her off the medications she's been on. She's gained some weight since I saw her over Christmas, but her cheeks aren't chubby, they are puffy from the meds and once she's off of them her face should return to normal.

Once silent baby Emma, who will be 2 in September, was pretty vocal during our visits. Especially when either Devin or Bryce wanted the toy she was playing with. With her curly black hair and chubby thighs, I just want to take her home with me!

Landon was thrown a welcome party that almost wasn't. It was the idea of a co-worker of Amanda's. She sent out the invites and was planning it. Their was no mention of it being a potluck and everyone assumed, as I think was right, that there would be finger foods or other snacks there. When we arrived, however, there was only a cake and a punch bowl! The host and her two friends had brought nothing else.

Family members left the gathering and returned with food for all of the 20 or so people who showed up. I'm sure there were some words exchanged and overheard by the hostesses and they were probably embarrassed and upset. They behaved immaturely (early 20's I believe) and left with the cake! If there hadn't been punch in the bowl, they probably would have taken that, too!

It's always wonderful to see Amanda. She's had a pretty rough time of it but seems to have come up on top. Her daughters are beautiful and I can't wait to watch Landon grow!

Back at my dad's we ate just about every evening meal outside and ended the day at the camp fire. The kids enjoyed sitting there with us and even roasted their own hot dogs as well as ate too many S'mores!

Our summer wasn't as involved as last year or my week in GA - Karyn. Put down that pencil! Seriously, she did a good job researching what we could do together and where we could go to get the most out of our time together without spending a lot of money.

It only cost us gas to go to a park with lake access. It wasn't one of the warmer days so we didn't pack any swimsuits but we did bring towels because we were there with kids and water is like a magnet with them! Kyler and Bryce got the most wet. There was no stopping B from walking into that water once he started! There was one special picture I wanted to share with you all, placed in the center of the home page of my web site, but Karyn was the photographer on that one and said she would send it to me before she left for a two day trip to the beach and she FORGOT!! :P

The furthest we traveled was to a museum about 45 minutes away. The plan was to stay there for a bit, have an early dinner and watch Karyn float away in a hot air balloon ride she was given for her birthday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't right that day, or any day the rest of the time we were there. Either it was too windy, raining and not her backup day but someone else's. She'll have to try again next year. The main attraction at the museum were pictures made out of lights and colored glass. There were also some more interesting things there for kids and adults. See the picture slide show for more.

The last place we went to was a discovery center. It had all kinds of neat things to do and see. I talk more about it under the pictures I took.

We attended a local festival that benefited a nursing and retirement home. There was a big garage sale, music and games for the kids. There were also vendor's there selling things homemade like bags and scarves to someone pushing Pampered Chef. There was one particular man who's slogan was something like, 'You spend it, we destroy it.' What he did was take state quarters and cut out the designs on one of the sides. Karyn bought a key chain of a Michigan quarter where the lower and upper peninsulas were cut out and everything else left. So what you saw was the state of Michigan cut out in the middle of the coin! He had just about every state there and could make them into necklaces as well.

Since I had the stroller and in it Karyn's wallet, she didn't get it at first. Later, after we dropped off the kids to run in the sprinklers with the parents and me headed to the store, she asked to go back so she could buy that key chain...and flirt with an unmarried man with no kids beside her! LOL :P

My parents have a good sized, fenced in yard. Like at home Devin can come and go as much as he pleases. All the kids did, and so did Kit! They had the sprinkler to run thru, a slip and slide to zoom down, squirt guns, bats and balls and even hula hoops! Nothing but fun and a little cousin rivalry going on. Devin and Kyler had their moments and although we had to separate them quite a few times, no blood flowed like in GA. There were actually quite a few really good moments!

Devin learned how to ride a tricycle while we were there! Hunter did ride a bike, but after a couple falls he was frustrated and upset and would not try again. K'ryn is a master on her bike now and it won't be long before Kyler loses those training wheels!

There was an incident the night my parents attended an event out and it was just Karyn, the kids and I. I don't make spaghetti too often at my house so we were cooking some up with garlic toast and I had the idea of putting Hunter's fake roaches (which he got with a toy plate of spaghetti) in his real spaghetti. Hunter loves the humor that grosses people out so I thought it would be a hit...but it bombed.

There we were sitting at the picnic table, everyone mowing down on yummy spaghetti. Here comes Hunter's plate, served by his Aunt Karyn, no sauce, just butter, Parmesan cheese...and three fake (freshly washed) roaches.

When he picked up one of the bugs and we all went, 'Ewwww!', he did crack a smile. Then he put it back down on the plate, stood up and walked away. Oh...so not what I had anticipated!

I found him closed up in the bedroom and told him it had been a prank and one that obviously wasn't funny to him. He was upset and told me that it wasn't funny and that he could have eaten the toy and been poisoned. I explained that both Aunt Karyn and I were watching him closely and would never have let him actually eat the thing. I said we were going for the icky and funny fact of finding such a disgusting, but fake, bug in his spaghetti dinner. I think I made myself understood, but he didn't come back outside.

We took one of the pontoon's from my dad's old marina business out. It was a cloudy and a bit of a windy day, but it never rained on us and the temperature was comfortable off the bigger lake we crossed. It was a nice leisurely cruise where we ate a picnic lunch and did some fishing. Once again, my SISTER HAS THOSE PICTURES! :P The first fish I caught...maybe I don't want to share a pic! LOL It was a bait fish!! Kyler caught the biggest bass and Hunter caught a good sized and beautiful sun fish!

For awhile there the worms kept the younger boys occupied and then it was the fish we caught and kept in a spare cooler to release once we were back at the marina. The kids got to take a turn at steering the boat if they wanted and Bryce fought his life jacket for awhile. Kit didn't act like the dog that she is. She didn't want to sit on the floor of the boat but up on the seats, preferably on the lap of someone with a blanket!

And then there was another incident.

As you all know, Hunter carries around a variety of small items, not necessarily toys. One of these that day in his over sized sweatshirt pocket was a large thimble. He likes to use it like a cup sometimes. This particular time his refreshment of choice was his own saliva. At first it was funny and a bit gross to see him put his own bubbly spit into the thimble, show it off to everyone and then drink it. But he kept doing it over and over and over again, holding it up to his grandma's face in the wind of the boat on an already windy day. He would also put the spit in his hands and it would string between his spread fingers. Seeing that made my stomach flip actually and I told him to put it away or it was mine. I repeated myself several times before giving his stomach a smack with the back of my hand to convey how serious I was. I pocketed the thimble and he frowned at me. He does not like having one of his small toys removed from his person. I told him I was going to hold onto it for five minutes only and that when I gave it back he was to put it into his pocket and it was to stay there for the rest of the boat trip. After the five minutes I did give it back and he did put it into his pocket. I noticed he kept his hands in there alot after that.

He actually does that quite often, not knowing when enough is enough and it's time to stop. His grandma wasn't laughing at him anymore but he didn't pick up on those cues or else he didn't understand them. This is something I'm going to work on with him with and possibly put it in next years IEP.

Oh - I forgot to talk about going strawberry picking. I would of remembered had my camera been the one to take the pictures, but, once again they are on my SISTER's camera and she hasn't sent me anything! (Is she scowling at me yet??) One of the first days there we went out to an orchard and both kids and adults picked strawberries. Bryce was eating them right on the spot! Aunt Tiffany was so happy with her recent purchase of a white shirt with a go green type saying on the front. She shouldn't have gotten so close to a toddler on uneven ground with strawberries all over his hands! She got a perfect little red hand print and a smear on her lower back! LOL Later the kids mashed the strawberries and Kathy made strawberry jam she sent us all home with. (It turned out great, Kath!)

Karyn and I were quite the crafting couple there for awhile! I had brought up material and thread with me to make a baby quilt for Landon, but as I looked through Kathy's many books, I found a more personal design I liked and tweaked it to my own needs. I suggested to Karyn the idea of making a wall hanging for the parents with a couple pictures of the kids to remember the summer of 2008. We put our heads together and we were quilting queens! Phew! See the slide show for pictures!

Another thing came to my attention on one of the last days we were there. We had gone to Kathy's place of employment so a coworker could meet the kids. As we were leaving, K'ryn pointed out that Hunter had taken a pen and was leaving with it. She used the word steal. Hunter became upset, held up his hand in that, 'Talk to the hand', way we all know, and then put his forehead to hers and pushed her over backwards. I've seen him do the head thing before, but he pushed K'ryn back so far, I thought she'd break her back! We had driven separately there because of car seats so I spoke in private about what he had done. I brought up the pen first and then talked of what he did in detail with K'ryn, how he hurt her back bending her backwards so far. I expressed how important it was to use his words when he was angry and not to ever force someone in any way like that again. K'ryn later told her mom that Hunter had done that to her before, so here's another addition to my personal To Do list and definitely one to mention at the IEP meeting.

We had plans on going up to the bridge and into the city but Kath got an emergency call and that trip was cancelled. We'll have to do it next year.

When left on Friday and arrived back here in Ohio in time to watch Tim place softball. It was so hot! On Saturday I packed up Hunter and Tim packed up his bags. We took him to the airport to catch a flight to WI Sunday morning and later that day I left Dev and B with a friend and took Hunter to his summer camp. He seemed OK while we were there and I stayed longer than I had in the past. When it was time to go he got upset and started rubbing at his eyes and taking deep breaths. I saw one tear fall and that broke my heart! I reminded him of all the fun he was going to have and that he wanted to be there. I mentioned that he'd get a week away without any annoying little brothers and he cracked a small smile. The boy that he did some things with last summer was in his cabin again...and so were the two that had some behavior problems. There are four adults in each cabin; two that have been there the past two years and two new ones. One of the new guys wasn't really new to the experience, just new to the cabin. He's one of the older counselors with a background in behavior. When he saw me leaving he offered Hunter a piece of gum and asked him if he still liked Yu-Gi-Oh (that was Hunter's thing last year, that cartoon has a card game and Hunter had some with him). I loved that man at that moment because he was a stranger to Hunter and I but he had taken the time to read about Hunter before he meant him and that makes that man special in my eyes.

It's just Dev, B and me this week! I tried to watch a movie last night but Bryce was a stinker but today I can see why. He has his bottom two eye teeth coming in and the top two haven't finished yet and he still has some molars that look like they still have room to grow. Poor little guy! Both the boys slept with me at my parents house and the first two nights with Tim gone Devin has come back. Since he stayed in his own bed the night his dad was here, maybe him going back to his bed when his dad returns won't be a problem. I better try before that night arrives! Until then, I don't mind them drooling on my pillow!

Take care!