My One and Only

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I’m going to let you in on a well-known secret: I don’t like to watch TV. I don’t like the lights. I don’t like the noise. And I hate realizing that I just lost 30 minutes of my day because I sat through an entire episode of Kid Danger- again.

My aversion works well for my kids because, in general, I don’t torture them with boring, adult programming. They are free to argue amongst themselves about whether they want to watch Disney, Nick, Boomerang, or Cartoon Network.

On rare occasions, I do take over the TV. My kids all moan as I turn on the History Channel or PBS. If I really want them to scatter, I turn on Downton Abbey. Nothing sends them fleeing like the theme song of that lovely, British drama. But even the lure of watching Maggie Smith play the Dowager Countess does not have me turning the TV on very often.

I do have one show, though. One that has had me captivated from the first episode. One that I will fight to watch. Once a week, that TV is mine. And no, I don’t care if it IS the middle of March Madness. We do have a DVR, for goodness’ sake!

At 8:45 on Sunday evenings, I make sure the littles are in bed. The middles are sent to go do something- anything, as long as it doesn’t disturb me. Evening meds are distributed and everyone is warned that, “This is My Time. Do NOT disturb me. If you bother me the house had better be on fire or someone better be bleeding out.”

I think those are clear instructions. What is difficult to understand about that? Why do they have such a hard time following those simple directives? Even their father warns them to leave me alone. It’s for one freaking hour! How hard is that?

Apparently, too hard, as this week Shaun had a TOTAL meltdown ten minutes into my show because- get this- his ears were hot. What the heck? Mind you, he was fine all day. He had no pain, no swelling, nothing other than a slight redness on the tips of his ears that completely went away by the next morning. He had been in bed for almost an hour at that point. What could he possibly have been doing? Thank goodness for my DVR.

Now, do you think the drama ended there? No. Lizzie, who is always worse at night, had a full flare-up. Her head started pounding. She started hallucinating and having delusions. Then, just for fun, she had a seizure. I had to fight to get her meds in her and then monitor her until she finally fell asleep on the small sofa. Again, my DVR came to the rescue.

About the time my show was supposed to end, things calmed down enough for me to sit and watch. It was also about the time for Simon to go to bed. He was, as usual, in the basement irritating his big brothers.

Trey and Joe took Simon’s bedtime as their moment to exact revenge. The hollering and riotous laughter made it nearly impossible for me to hear what was happening on my show. I had about had it. I threatened to take away everything they hold dear- namely, their electronics.

The big boys were exasperated. “But Mom, your show is supposed to be over. We’ve been waiting to watch the game!”

My eyes shot daggers and smoke started escaping out my ears. Wisely, they backed away, into the kitchen to look for a snack while they waited to take control of my TV.

Here’s the thing about Trey and Joe. They are low key and soft spoken all day long, but in the evening, they come to life. After 8 pm, the two of them are incapable of doing anything quietly, and their noise level rises exponentially when they are together. They barely escaped the evening with their lives- and more importantly, their electronics.

So, I ask you, am I asking for too much? Should I give up on my time to escape reality to relax in a post-apocalyptic world ridden with Walkers and Saviors? I’m sorry. I can’t. I just love The Walking Dead.

 

 

 

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Loving My Littles

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Most mornings these days start with my little guy, James, rising before the sun. If he isn’t already in our bed, Jimmy climbs in, dragging his blankie behind him, and announces that he wants to go downstairs. This is my cue to get up and go because this kid is a bundle of energy and waking his siblings is the first thing on his agenda for the day. If he wakes his siblings, it is NOT a good day.

My granddaughter, Love.

My granddaughter, Love.

Introducing Love, my oldest granddaughter. Both she and Jimmy are 2 years old, and they are best friends and partners in crime. It doesn’t take long for Love to hear Jimmy’s antics and come down to join in.

Breakfast

Breakfast

“Wuv, do you wanna eat?” Jimmy asks. Then they both climb into their seats. We can’t put their seats too close to each other or there will be a battle, stolen food and sippy cups, dumped cereal, and a brawl.

Coffee, you complete me.

Coffee, you complete me.

Most mornings start off with a Leapfrog video while the littles eat breakfast. That’s how I get my coffee and quiet, well almost quiet, the two essential things I need before I can function.

My 2nd granddaughter, Princess.

My 2nd granddaughter, Princess.

Princess is my littlest little in the house. (I have another little grandson that is younger, but he hasn’t been here yet.) Princess brightens our days with sweet baby smiles and coos. She stole my heart the moment I laid eyes on her. Thankfully, she is an easy baby, because Jimmy and Love keep us busy.

Jimmy, Love, & SJ playing with water on the deck

Jimmy, Love, & SJ playing with water on the deck.

We try to have fun and keep the little ones busy. Pouring and stacking is one of their favorite activities, so I thought it would be fun to set up a water station the littles could stand at to play.

It's NOT a pool!

It’s NOT a pool! Get DOWN!

Jimmy had other plans. I can’t turn my head for a second with this kid.

One tired little boy.

One tired little boy.

The poor, sweet boy tired himself out. Doesn’t he look innocent? Adorable, even?

You're resting there?

You’re resting there?

And this is what he was really doing.

Jimmy opening the diaper rash ointment.

Jimmy opening the diaper rash ointment.

 And seconds later, he was into the ointment that was left on the table.

Jimmy warming his blankie in the dryer.

Jimmy warming his blankie in the dryer.

And then he decided to warm his blanket in the dryer.

I won’t show you the pictures of Jimmy in the dog’s crate, swinging on the stairway gate, undressing himself, and escaping up the stairs. He also had fun reading some of his favorite books, playing on SJ’s iPod, pouring Princess’s formula from her bottle into my Pepsi, feeding the dog from his plate at dinner, and throwing his sister’s iPod in the toilet. (Yes, this was all today.) Jimmy walks on the wild side.

Love and her Combos.

Love and her Combos.

Love usually just tags along behind Jimmy and watches. She doesn’t want to get in trouble, she’s a good girl. But don’t eat chips or snacks near her. She will give you big, sad eyes until you give her every last one.

Trying to get a picture of the three littles.

Trying to get a picture of the three littles.

These little ones certainly keep us busy. But oh, how we love our littles!

Enjoying the moment

IMG_5175 “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Two years ago, our lives changed forever. Our Lu came down with strep throat and suddenly everything changed. Overnight, she went from a straight A Honor Roll student on track to attend a prestigious academic high school to a girl that could barely function, let alone concentrate on schoolwork. Her body has turned on itself and her immune system is attacking her brain. For the first few months we were just trying to get a diagnosis. Finally, we found a specialist that could give us answers. Our Lu has PANDAS, pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with strep throat. Thankfully, through a PANDAS parent site, we were directed to a wonderful neurologist that has become a PANDAS expert. But, even with months of treatment, our Lu still could not stabilize. That’s when we learned that she also has Lyme Disease. We are on a big learning curve. I am hoping to share what I am learning, but most of all, I want to say . . .

Find joy!

Look for small moments that make you smile. Hold on to these treasures, because in the end, these are the things that matter.

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Our Lu is finding joy. Last autumn, in a desperate search to find anything to help our girl, I contacted a service dog company. Miracles happened, and our daughter was matched with a dog immediately. Noel has been a life line to Lu, even in some very dark and scary places. The two are inseparable. Noel keeps Lu safe and gives her something to feel good about. See, Lu can’t go to school. She can’t be left unattended. She has seizures, memory loss, her eyes have trouble focusing and that’s not the half of it. But Lu is really good at training her Noel. So good, in fact, that we got two more puppies for Lu to train. She may not be able to go to the high school she had heart set on, but she is a darn good dog trainer. Right now, this is where she finds her joy. And watching Lu work magic with these dogs fills my heart to overflowing.

IMG_4256This evening, like most Wednesday evenings, we were at dog training class. Lu had a seizure and collapsed to the floor. Noel jumped into action doing exactly what she has been trained to do. Noel has a vest that she wears in public to identify her as a service dog. We all agree that her vest is really a cape because Noel is a super hero.

It Begins

It’s almost quiet here tonight so I am taking this opportunity to get my first post in. Quiet doesn’t happen here often. Most of the kids are in bed. The big boys are downstairs watching TV. I’m stealing this moment. I should be in bed, but the idea of finally starting this blog is too tantalizing.

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time now. Many of my friends suggested I should. My story is a long one. I’m not sure how much I am ready to tell, but we will start here and see where we end up together, ok?

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First, a look into my life: My name is Mandy. I am a wife and mother. It’s that simple. I am married to Jeff. He’s an incredible man that keeps our family going. His passion is technology and he works as a computer programmer. The depth of his knowledge amazes me. He is a devoted husband and father and I am blessed to be his wife.

We have seven children living at home right now. That number can change at any given moment because we are foster parents. Our youngest is two years old. Our oldest living at home is sixteen. Our youngest is adopted. Our sixteen year old will be soon. There are four biological kids in the middle and one more adopted kiddo in the middle as well. Then we have three more adopted kids that live out on their own and one foster child that is currently out of our home, but we are hoping he can come home soon.

Then we have our five exchange students, two of whom still call our place home. They are from all over the globe, making our home multicultural and multilingual. And then there’s our baseball host sons and daughter that left us with a passion for baseball and a deep love for baseball players, especially the ones we call our own.

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I can’t forget to mention our furry family members. We have a slightly obsessive love for golden retrievers. There is a story behind that. We have three Goldens that share our home. We also have an old lab/ husky mix that keeps us safe from anyone that would dare to come to the front door.  Yes, that is four big dogs, if you were counting. I told you we have an obsession. Our dogs are kept amused by our three degus that occupy a large cage in a corner. Then we have our turtles and our tortoise. What can I say, we like animals.

That’s a quick overview of our family. I hope you enjoy getting to know us as I post more about each member of our family and our adventures together.