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Friday, August 31, 2012

Vintage Baseball

In our area there is an annual vintage baseball event.  I love just about everything vintage.  Except for maybe the absence of electricity, running warm water, and all my appliances.  :-)  And David loves baseball.  Naturally this was a perfect event for us to go to.  And it was outside on a beautiful hot summer day.  (Probably much to the chagrin of the volunteers who had to dress up in the vintage clothing.)
The setting was just as perfect.  The game took place in a big grass field, surrounded by historic buildings and tall evergreens. We found our spot in the outfield since all the good spots were already taken.  Just about as soon as we arrived we were greeted by the lovely ladies above who gave us a paper explaining the rules of 1860s  baseball along with some terms players used back then.  To be honest, my heart leapt seeing their lovely dresses.  I wanted to buy one.  Or two.  Or three. I was born in the wrong era.
Abigail said she liked the dresses when I asked her but I'm not sure if she really thought so.  She never mentioned it by herself.  She didn't like the actual baseball game.  But she sure enjoyed the games mentioned further down.  I'm glad the organizers of this event had the foresight to do something for the littlest ones, letting them actively experience history.

The baseball game was started with the shooting of a canon.  Now that will get your attention.  It freaked Nathan out a bit because he didn't realize it was coming.  I think for a moment he thought they were literally starting a war or a fight or something.  He had that look on his face where he wants to panic but isn't quite sure yet if he has reason.  The funny thing that Nathan does then, is that he really doesn't ask the questions in a manner that reflects his feelings.  We've gotten used to it over the year so we know what he feels like when he has that "look."  We know he is worried.  But he asks the questions in such a round-about way, it took us a while to figure out what he was really asking.  For example, thinking people are shooting deadly cannons (which is what he later told me he was thinking), he will ask: "That was loud. Will they shoot that again?"  What he meant to ask was: "Crazy people shooting cannons!  Where do we go for cover so they do not hit us and kill us and why are we not running???"  He literally told me later that this is what he thought was happening.  Crazy kid.  :-)  

Old-fashioned music from an orchestra playing old-fashioned instruments and wearing old-fashioned clothes.  They were sweating - a lot.  Gotta give kudos to all those volunteers.

One of the teams.  Don't you just love their outfits? They played with a soft leather ball and without mitts.  

The scorekeepers. I wan't that white dress with the hat.  
Behind the scorekeeper area, the volunteers hosted old-fashioned children's games which Abigail thoroughly enjoyed.  She played croquet with one of the younger volunteers, a lovely young lady with long blond hair, probably about 15 or 16 years old.  Abigail loved all the attention that she was given by the girl.  Later on she went back to play a hoop and sticks game where you throw an embroidery hoop via two sticks.  The other person then catches the hoop with one of her sticks.  Some of the boys played a third game where they rolled a large wooden hoop across the ground via a large wooden stick.  

David had sent out the information to some of his baseball team families and one of them joined us.  Naturally Nathan was busy wrestling with his friend Aydan and Aydan's step-brother Kyle.  I'm not sure they got too much from the actual baseball game.  At some point we made a fort for all the boys and the girls out of quilts that I had brought, camping chairs and Isabelle's stroller.  With all the wild boys though, the fort kept collapsing.  
Isabelle j\-- (Isabelle just typed the symbols to the left.  She is standing next to me.  Her little arm is reaching up to the keyboard and her pointed finger was poking around the number pad.  Then she looked at me and with a deep voice said: "ha ha."  That was quite funny, so I left it in.)  Anyways, Isabelle enjoyed herself by running around the large field area and just exploring.  
This was another one of those very lovely summer evenings.  Hopefully we will get to do it again next year.  It was really neat.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Camping 2012

We made a bucket list this summer of things to do.  Most of these things we ended up doing in August.  We are procrastinators, you know.  Since Isabelle is so little, we stayed close to home.  Just in case there was trouble in babyland.  We ended up getting the same exact spot where we camped last year.  And that, we decided, is the perfect spot for us.  Ah, I love camping.  Wish we were there right now...

Nathan helped putting up the tent for the first time this year.  He did a really good job.  I think his favorite part was hammering in the tent stakes.  Hammer - boy -  it's all good.

Little Susy Miss Homemaker was happily sweeping the tent and helping me get everything ready inside the tent.  We set up the beds and well, swept.  When there was no more sweeping to be done inside, Abigail went outside, where surprisingly, she found an endless supply of dust and dirt on the ground.  Imagine that.
Tangent: I love that Starbucks water cup.  So do my kids.  Isabelle keeps chewing the straw.  That makes me unhappy.  Told you  it was a tangent.

Nathan building his first fire with dad.  Will he be able to fill his father's shoes?  I love how he pays attention and hangs on every word his dad says.

Somebody is getting impatient with the fire starting.  Enough already!  This baby is hungry.
Don't you just love how she sits so pretty on her chair.

Well, things aren't moving quite fast enough here.  Let me go see what the hold-up is.  
Another tangent: I also love those baby Crocs.  Aren't they the cutest things?

Still sweeping.  There was lots of work to be done.  My guess is that she thought she was doing something wrong and that she just got caught.  Just look at that guilty face.

Seriously.  Who lets their baby get this dirty?  Peasants!

Ah, the art of roasting marshmallows.  Such a fine line between the perfect one and disaster.  Welcome to the class taught by the master himself, Dave.  He makes the perfect marshmallows, every time.

Somebody got a hold of rootbeer!  Worry not, folks, it was empty.  She had a fun time with this though.  Abigail has a pink watering can she uses as a megaphone of sorts.  This is a game her and Isabelle play almost every night.  Apparently Isabelle thought this was like it.

That's a failed student in the art of the marshmallow.  We ate it anyway.

There is a nice playground right next to the campground.  The kids had a good time here and even made friends with another little boy.  Nathan and him had a blast playing tag.  Nathan did really great with this little boy, letting him catch him and chasing him around when he wanted to.

Going down the slide.  

Handle bars and these things are probably Nathan's favorite on the playground.

Abigail loves the slides and comes up with all kinds of different ways to go down a slide.  None of them are on her butt and forward.  Her favorite is probably head first on her back.  She definitely makes her own path.

Tire swings.  Always fun.  Love this picture of Abigail and Nathan having fun in the front and dad and Isabelle playing in the back.  Most of all, I love the smiles on Nathan and Abigail's faces.  Oh, did you notice Nathan's chest muscles???  Seriously, the boy has a defined tiny muscles on his chest.  David noticed it during baseball season.

Exploring the lake close to the campground.  This was the first time dad let Nathan walk without holding on to him.  Nathan was proud of that. Many rites of passage for him this time around.

Abigail trying her luck and taking a look at a dead fish dad spotted.  The lake is just so pretty.  Last year we saw a bald eagle catch a fish here.

Nathan going out all by himself, with dad just waiting at the end of the log.  

You know another thing I love?  Reeds next to wood.  But reeds in general.  And you know what?  My favorite birds like to sit on them (red-winged blackbirds).  I'm just full of love, aren't I? :-)

Isabelle's turn on the log.  No, it's a log at the campsite.  She climbed up there and started to walk toward Abigail.  Sneaky baby.  

Abigail exploring around our campsite.  

The green just makes the perfect backdrop for her hair.  :-)  She loves going out there and just looking around.  Bugs don't scare her at all.  She picks up any she finds.   She even saw the prettiest moth - in the restroom of all places.  But she noticed it.  To her it was a butterfly.  

Nathan's first time chopping wood.  He did really good with dad's instructions.  He was really proud.  So was dad.  :-)

Abigail tried this too and did really good following instructions.  She didn't have enough strength though to actually split the wood.  Maybe next year.

Monkey boy.  He just loves being where he can climb anything and jump off it without getting into trouble.

Want to know how baby got dirty?  That's how.

Sweet sister moment.  Abigail started to pick flowers.  Isabelle watched her and then started to pick flowers as well.  Then she would go to Abigail and give them to her.  Very sweet.

We only camped overnight.  But man, was that relaxing.  Both David and I commented how just one day in the woods makes you feel so relaxed and makes the stress just slide off you.  We had a fabulous time and are hoping to go at least one more time this year.  Maybe even one time with cousin Olive and two uncles.  Hopefully the kids will really learn to enjoy camping (which I think they already do).  David and I just love it. As a matter of fact, I wish we were camping there right now.  Too bad this isn't the Magic Treehouse....


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nature Explorers Extraordinaire



Although my two oldest seem to be home-bodies, especially Nathan, they both enjoy being outdoors and exploring.  Dad took us on a few such trips this summer.  This is a lake where dad takes the kids fishing on their Dabby and Dathan days as well.  And let's face it, anything with water will do just fine. :-)

Will they jump in?  With Abigail that is always a worry.  No matter how cold it is or muddy or icky, she'll always ask: "Can we go swim?"

Bellybutton and the mama.   I love the Ergo carrier.  Thanks auntie Megan for recommending it and Allison for letting me borrow it (very generous).

This particular lake apparently features at least 13+ different kinds of dragonflies.  We learned this from an older gentleman who was there photographing them.  Naturally we started to pay more attention to them.  My favorite ones have always been the bright blue ones.  Aren't the black dots at the tip of the wings neat?

There wasn't an easily accessible hiking trail around the lake so we went to a nearby playground.  The main attraction here however was this really neat tree stump.  It was hollow inside too but none of us were brave enough to climb in there with the various bugs and worms.   :-)  Yeah, go ahead, call me chicken.  I'm ok with that.

Goofy picture time!  No one told dad though.  Abby looks hilarious.  She is the master of facial expressions. Did I ever mention that she practiced different crying expressions in front of our oven when she was a mere 18 months?  

I like this picture of Nathan.  Man, he is growing up so fast.  First grade is just around the corner and that is making me VERY sad.  I will miss my little man very much.  He looks so grown up in this picture, much more serious than he really is.

This is such a neat picture of Abigail.  She just loves throwing all kinds of different things into the water.

We even were lucky enough to stand right next to two dogs running in the water and taking a swim.  They were utterly thrilled.  The kids loved seeing them.  Isabelle, who just adores dogs, wanted to run after them.  It was another really nice family day.  Thanks, dad!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Favorite Part About Parenting?

My favorite part of parenting is being up all night, for whatever reason.  Teething little toddlers included.  And just when they are overly tired and fall asleep, the older two wake up.  Love it.
And yes, I'm being spactactic (sarcastic), as Nathan would say.  And very, very tired.  ;-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Letting Go Of Twig

Today we lost our tomcat.  He died of cancer at the young age of about six.  This post is for my children to remember their first encounter with death, disease and also their kitty. 
(I will warn you right now that this will be lengthy post for my kids.  What we did with our kids, worked with our kids.  Both came out at the end fine. Last warning: I'm very medically curious.  Therefore a sense of what others may find gross sometimes eludes me.  This post will have lots of descriptions of what the cancer did to Twig's body.  If you have a weak stomach, do not read.)






Twig came to us shortly before Abigail was born.  Our first tomcat, Jake, "the best cat ever" as Dave lovingly called him, passed away.  That was really hard on me.  I did what any thoughtful, patient and rational person would do, went straight to the shelter and got another cat three days later.  One reason we got Twig was because he looked so much like Jake. He is a white Siamese mix with an orange flame-point pattern.  Twig had blue eyes as well whereas Jake had green ones.  Twig also was talkative, a Siamese trait.

Twig was named after a character in a book that David was reading to little (about 14-months old) Nathan.  The cat very quickly was unwelcomed by our older cat Daisy.  My inclination that Daisy was lonely after Jake's death couldn't have been more wrong.  Poor Twig had more surgeries and trips to the vet in the first few months of his life than any other cat in our house.  That quickly stopped when he grew to a respectable size and showed Daisy that she wasn't going to push him around anymore.  Twig chose David as his main person and spent all his days in the office where David worked.  He was equally friendly to all other members of our household, but David who he liked to "hang" with (pun intended, see above picture).

He also had the bad habit of laying on my freshly ironed tablecloths or runners...  Another bad habit: He ate paper and plastic and anything made of foam.  He deflated quite a few toys.  

My mom will kill me for posting this picture of her.  :-)  Twig LOVED people.  Anyone who would take the time.  He didn't care who.  [Well, except for Mandy who made his paws bloody playing so hard with him.....  :-) - just kidding, he loved Mandy and Matze.]


Beautiful blue Siamese eyes.

Twig was quite the cuddler.  He was a people cat.  He loved getting pet and could get quite pushy requesting his fair share of love.  He was good with all the kids.  Very patient with them.  

Here he is talking.  Also loved his "ringtail".


Twig loved chicken and really, any other table scraps.  Too much would upset his tummy though. (Not that you would ever know looking at this giant cat.)


Yep, Twig was a big boy.  

He'd been to the vet many times.  Seemed he was sickly from the beginning.  Daisy has been to the vet only a few times.  Really, only once for a health issue.  Twig and Jake were well known at the vet's office.  I don't know if their breed is more susceptible to infections and the likes?  
Either way, one night while petting Twig, I noticed a fairly large bump by his right hind leg.  Almost the size of a golf ball.  How had we not noticed such a big bump before?  The vet looked at it the next day and gave us a hopeful prognosis as the lump seemed to be loose and not attached to any muscles, bones, etc.  The thought was that it was a growth of some sort, maybe a cyst.  They would remove it and then do a biopsy.  After the surgery the vet called.  By the tone of voice, I knew it was cancer.  They had not done a biopsy yet  and it would take a few days.  But what they had found was a growth that had huge tentacles.  They had not been able to remove them all as they had already gone into the stomach and organs.
After a few days, the diagnosis came back and it was an intensively aggressive cancer.  Life expectancy was 3 weeks to 1 year at the most.  A good indicator would be how soon the growth would grow back.  Surely enough, after only 2 months Twig had a huge growth again.  Further surgery was not recommended based on where the cancer had been found already and how aggressive it was.  This also took into account how poorly Twig reacted to antibiotics and anesthesia (days of vomiting afterwards).
The next few weeks passed and the cancer was definitely growing, this time tightly attached to his hind leg.  Twig seemed to be doing well with small amounts of pain meds and he was a happy kitty.  His cancer swelled up to about the size of three soft balls.  Or so we thought.  Until one night the biggest abscess I have ever seen exploded.  It literally exploded.  David noticed it first and called me.  All we saw was bloody liquid  all over our floor.  There was a trail and I followed it, heart-pounding.   To be honest, I did not expect to find Twig alive.  There was so much of it.  He couldn't possibly be alive.  Plus, we did not know at the time what the liquid was.  It was clear with definite blood in it and somewhat thick.  Peeking around the corner he was on the bathroom floor.  He had a hole the size of a golf ball on top of his tumor.  It was 5:30am in the morning and we whisked him off to the nearby 24-hour vet.  Was this it?  Was this how he was going to go? I didn't want to do this visit.  To my surprise, the vet explained that abscesses are normal with cancer and given the finality of his disease, they would let it drain and give him antibiotics.  We decided to keep Twig in our bathroom for the time being.  He is definitely a social cat and this was torture for him, to be locked up there.  We tried to visit him often and also encouraged the kids to do so.  At that point a lot of questions came up about why is Twig dying.  We explained that death was not God's original plan.  Adam and Eve were given life in the garden with God.  But sin brought death, suffering and pain.  We explained to them that this is why God warns us about sin.  Not only does it affect the sinner, the people we sin against, but also all of creation, animals included. 
After about 14 days in the bathroom, (with various days out in between but the abscess opening up and draining more again), Twig was finally allowed back in our bedroom.  He stayed there for 3 days until he was able to come out completely.  I'm not sure if the days in the bathroom broke his spirit somewhat or if the disease just progressed but he was deteriorating quickly after that.  

The picture above is a few days before Twig died.  He could barely walk two days before he did (the first day he couldn't anymore), so David took him into the office and put him on a quilt underneath his desk.  Twig definitely fought this to the last minute.  We had taken both our other cats to the vet in their final days.  But for Twig, we went day by day, hour by hour.  He continued to acknowledge anyone coming to him, even the last time we pet him.  The last day he could no longer get up but yet he robbed himself across a little bit of floor and waited in front of the door for someone to get him.  So we couldn't bear to take him to the place where he utterly hated it.  Every time we picked him up, he winced in pain.  So we let him lay on the floor where he had placed himself.  Toward the end of the night, we  put him into a large laundry basket so that we could take him around with us without hurting him.  He was with us while we watched TV and was where he had always been.  Something happened the last two days with his voice and he could no longer meow.  But he always opened his mouth and made a very low sound when we pet him.  
Throughout his disease, we talked to the kids often and made them realize that Twig could die any day, any time.  However, yesterday morning we knew he didn't have much time.  For the first time, he did not lift his head when he saw us and just stared into space.  He still made his familiar sound when we came to pet him.  He did not move around.  His eyes were a different color and he seemed very cold.  We just knew.  We told the kids and when they came in and saw him, it was obvious to them as well.  Nathan started to cry.  Abigail was compassionate but obviously too young to understand.  We had long talks with Nathan why it would be better for Twig to pass than to hold on to the pain and suffering that he had here.  I think Nathan understood in the end.  But still, this was his first confrontation with death.  I told him how my first two pets died and how hard it was.  We reminded him that we feel so sad is because we know that this is wrong, unfair.  It is not what God wanted.  That is why it makes us cry.  It's wrong.  We spent a good evening with Twig, trying to comfort him, as that was all we could do.  And just be with him.  Throughout the day, the kids and us would be around him a lot.  Nathan even by himself laid with Twig for a while, just talking to him.  

This was toward the evening.  Nathan had given Twig a little pillow, to make him more comfortable.

You can see Nathan's emotion in this picture.  

Abigail trying to make Twig more comfortable. Her and Nathan came up with an idea to decorate the room for Twig.  So they put Abigail's necklaces and bracelets all over the room. 

Nathan hates to read.  It is painful making him do his homework.  He picked up this book about a porcupine and read the whole book to Twig.  He was obviously moved.

After the kids went to sleep, we put Twig in the laundry basket so we could easily bring him downstairs with us.  When we went to sleep, we put him on the night stand next to our bed so we could hear him if he made noise.  We were up most of the night due to a badly teething baby, another kitty making all kinds of ruckus and a little boy with growing pains. I'm not sure at what point he passed away.  I had taken Isabelle in the bed with us and when I woke up, I just knew.  Even though it was best for him, I didn't really want to have that reality.  For selfish reasons obviously.  Kept my eyes closed and just laid there thinking, listening.  I turned my head over to the laundry basket.  It was obvious.  Not wanting to ignore him with my ignorance, I had to make sure that he was truly dead and touched him.  Rigor mortis had set in.  To be sure, I asked David make his own conclusion.  He agreed.  He woke up the kids to let them know.  Beforehand we had decided to let them make the decision whether or not they wanted to see Twig again and even touch him.  From my own experience, the first time I felt a dead animal that I had only known alive, it made me truly realize what the breath of God means to our bodies.  Nathan came in and did indeed touch him.  Surprisingly, he was happy for Twig.   He understood the pain Twig had been in and that he was free of that pain now.  That was good.  I myself wrestled with the sadness of death and didn't want to disturb his rightful trust in God.  Abigail also came in to see Twig.  She wanted to pet him once more.  And so she did. Putting her little finger on the bottom of his nose, rubbing it all the way to the top in a straight line, up to the height of his ears.  Just the way he loved it.