Monday, December 29, 2008

Milk the Allergy

So we've discovered, once again, that Hunter must be allergic to milk. When I nursed him as an infant, he would have bloody stools if I drank too much milk. When I weaned him and he started drinking milk, he had diarrhea. I would go back and forth giving him other things to drink (rice or soy), then eventually revert back to milk. Starting at about age 4, he had non-stop ear infections. We don't know if drinking milk influenced that or not. We finally had tubes put in his ears this summer (again) and had his tonsils and adenoids removed. His life is much improved, but I wonder if all that inflammation and distress was at least partially due to the milk. Then, late this summer he developed some eczema on his hands. I gave him fish oil for a month and it cleared up. Then a couple of months later it came back with a vengeance, with his skin cracking and bleeding. The fish oil helped at first, then not so much. I stopped giving him milk to drink, and within two weeks his hands were nice and smooth again. It must be the milk!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Late Thanksgiving

For no good reason I never did post anything about Thanksgiving. We made a 12-hour drive down to Kissimmee, Florida to meet up with Dean's family, who flew in from Oregon and New Mexico. Admittedly, neither of the car rides was enjoyable for us or the children. But the time there was a lot of fun. On Thanksgiving Day, Grandma Dee treated us to the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld. Hunter must have thought he was in heaven, and gleefully had a magical day. We knew better than to take Master Kyler, but didn't have any other options for him. He demanded to sit on his throne most of the day (aka Daddy's shoulders), and expended a lot of energy trying to make the rest of us miserable, and fighting against his leash (during the few moments he was off his throne). There were many, many other people with the great idea of spending the holiday there, so the lines were long, but we had fun. We did take a stroller for Kyler, but he wasn't much interested so it mostly carried my purse.

The following day we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. The greatest excitement during the event was when Kyler attempted to climb on Daddy (possibly his shoulders again) just as he was standing up from a sitting position. The result was that Kyler's head landed on the coffee table, which happened to be wicker with a glass top. The top completely shattered. Surprisingly and luckily, Kyler was stunned, but unhurt. The men quickly cleaned up the mess, and Kyler recovered after howling for a while.

We took the occasion to make the announcement to the family that we are expecting a baby. The due date is late June. We are thrilled! I attribute finally being pregnant to the Naturopathic Physician I have been seeing since early this year.

Hunter is the Mancala Master.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Heiroglyphics and More Amaryllis

The amaryllis is in full bloom now, and is gorgeous! It was just in time for our Relief Society's progressive dinner last night, as I was one of the hosts. There are five flowers.

And, since I was hosting, I had to straighten the house up enough to be acceptable, so it was a fine time to take pictures.

Recently we discovered some heiroglyphics around the house, namely on the kitchen counter and the bean bag of all places. Kyler only scribbles, and I thought that surely Hunter was old enough to not do such a thing, so Dean actually crossed my mind as the possible perpetrator, but then I came to my senses and we both approached Hunter about it. He denied it, of course, but the evidence is there, in sharpie no less.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blooming Amaryllis

So last year I told Dean that I wanted an amaryllis kit for Christmas. It quickly grew leaves, although being at the mercy of Master Kyler, said leaves got twisted Indian burn style more than once and there were casualties. It survived a week in the car as we moved to NC from OR in September, and I put it in the West-facing kitchen window where it gets plenty of sun. Well, it quickly grew all new leaves and a stalk for the blossoms. The three remaining leaves from last year started looking old and tired, so I cut them off. Now it is blooming just in time for Christmas! Beautiful! My mistake was in not turning it as it sat in the window, so it grew to face the sun and became very side heavy, such that it couldn't quite stand on it's own if wasn't leaning against the window or wall. So I've turned it and put it in the dining room with the sun far behind it, and it seems to be correcting itself as it doesn't just topple over now. It's taken a year, but it is paying off.

Friday, November 21, 2008

the crazy things kids say

So I went upstairs this morning to check on Hunter, to be sure that he was on schedule for getting ready. He actually gets up on his own around 6am, without an alarm. But sometimes he falls a little behind; he does have a digital clock in his room. So as I approach the room he is discussing with Kyler how important it is for poop to go in the toilet, because of all the germs. Wow, all my lectures have sunk in! He is perfect about washing his hands, for that reason, and is good about brushing his teeth, as he doesn't want them to fall out, as I have suggested they will otherwise. Based on a recent unspeakable incident involving Kyler and the subject matter, we still have work to do with him. I swear, no one tells you all that is to come when you sign up for the parenthood thing, because we might just become extinct otherwise!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cake Walk

I forgot to post a few weeks ago that I took the boys to a farmers market where we picked up another pumpkin and some garden fresh sweet potatoes. It was a fall celebration, and included kids' activities. The boys got to be in a cake walk, and wouldn't you know, Kyler won a cake! It was tasty!

Speaking of Kyler, he leaves calling cards where ever he goes. I spotted these geraniums from the little garden bed out front, thrown in the fake magnolia tree planter inside, and immediately thought of Kyler. Who else would conceive of doing such a thing?

Monday, November 10, 2008

PFT and BoA

I keep meaning to mention that Dean passed his first Physical Fitness Test with flying colors a couple of weeks ago! He was hoping to get the minimum score of 180 (out of 300) but he got a 243! He routinely runs 3.5 miles to keep in shape. I asked him if he ever thought those words ("I just ran 3.5 miles") would come out of his mouth, to which he said "no". Good work, Dean! In doing the "12-minute-run" in high school PE, I never managed more than about 2 miles, and felt like I had done a marvelous work.

Also, if you don't know, we have been going through the most excruciating, agonizing experience of our lives. The only thing that can even remotely compare to this stress was when Hunter was born 7 weeks early, but even that is a long shot because I always knew he would be fine, and that he was in good hands.

Upon deciding to join the army after much prayer and fasting, we expected everything to fall into place and that the house would magically sell, and I hoped we at least wouldn't lose the money we put down on it. But alas, in six months it hasn't sold, and with a 60 percent pay cut, we were reduced to using credit card money to pay the darn mortgage, months after we vacated the place. We lowered the price to the point that we would lose every penny of our equity, and still not a bite. That's just the market right now. Needless to say there have been many sleepless nights around here as we've pondered what to do. We have stellar credit, and that was on the line. It didn't make sense to keep paying the mortgage; it was a bottomless pit, and we were using one creditor to pay another. I've been job hunting, but being out of the workforce for 5 years, and not having a real "career" to speak of, I've had no bites there either. It wouldn't be worth taking a menial job, as the pay would barely make a dent in the mortgage payment, not to mention the cost of childcare for Kyler...

So a week ago I called our congressman's office back in Oregon (where we maintain residency) and asked if they could give us any guidance. While waiting a few days for a response, I even called Bank of America and asked what options we had. The front line customer service rep I got said there was not a thing they would do for us, since we no longer had the income to support the mortgage. That infuriated me, and made me realize we weren't getting anywhere by continuing to pay the mortgage.

Soon after I finally heard back from the congressman's office with a number to call. After explaining our situation, the HUD counselor advised that we stop making the mortgage payment. That was shocking, yet titillating at the same time. I then mentioned that Dean is in the process of getting a security clearance in the Army, credit being the first thing checked. She said in that case we might need to continue to pay the mortgage, but gave us several ideas to work on, and on her end she was going to send paperwork to the bank, petitioning our case. I called the bank on Saturday and asked to speak with someone about doing a Deed in Lieu (of foreclosure, which essentially gives the house back to the bank), and they tried to put me right through, but that department was gone for the day. I called at 8am today, directly to that department, and spoke to a nice lady who said to write a brief hardship letter, mention the Sailors and Soldiers Act, and give proof of our new income and fax it to a certain number, then call in a few days. She blocked any late fees, and put a block on our credit as well, as we will no longer be making payments. She said the Soldiers and Sailors Act would also protect our credit. So, hopefully everything will work out. We've now put this month's mortgage payment toward paying off one of those credit cards. Hallelujah! Now we just wait for it all to transpire, and keep praying and crossing our fingers. Thank you to all who have remembered us in your prayers!

Monday, November 3, 2008

fasting blahs and sick again!

Fasting has always been difficult for me. I don't think it's easy for anyone. So today, as a compulsive under drinker, I was quite dehydrated from the fast, rather than simply dehydrated as usual. So when I ended my fast I gulped down a huge glass of water without taking a break, then proceeded to eat dinner. Afterward, I felt so sick I laid down for a while; I was a little nauseated and dozed off for a while. Yuck. I now feel better, and will remember to not do that again.

Poor Kyler must have picked up another bug in the nursery. He doesn't really go anywhere else, except maybe the commissary with me. He started having a deep and nasty-emphysema-sounding cough mid week, which would only happen when he got up in the morning. We had already decided to not take him to nursery today, and that Dean would take him home after Sacrament Meeting. But he proceeded to cough and cough on the kids in front of and behind us, so Dean skedaddled as soon as the Sacrament was over. Tonight he woke up a few minutes ago and was in his room crying and coughing just a little, so I snuggled him back to sleep. He still has a red splotch on his face from a chicken pock. He hasn't really been sick since last winter (except for the pinkeye from the babysitting co-op in the spring). Poor baby! I remember being miserable and sick as a child, but that's what builds up our immunity. I have gotten out of the habit of giving them vitamin/mineral supplements, so maybe that's contributing. He eats lots of fruits and vegies, though. Maybe I'd better start sanitizing the shopping cart handles as well, but he's often not in the cart anyway, if he has any say in it, and I didn't go this week until he already had symptoms!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Honk

So Hunter recently came home from school and told us all about the Incredible Honk. Dean and I thought it was pretty funny, and even suggested that he could be "the Honk" for halloween, for which he was delighted. I've enrolled him in a dance class again, this time Tap, and they got to dress in their costumes for class this week. I find the "Honk" costumes in the stores to be pretty ugly, not to mention over priced, and part of the fun of the character is the lack of much costume, so I just painted him green and tore up some old clothes, and he thought it was great, and other people could tell just what he was, so it works for me!

A couple of weeks ago I noticed some spots on Kyler, and he was a little clingier and whinier than usual. He proceeded to develop a fever, and was willing to nap on the sofa, so I figured he must have the chicken pox. As far as I know he's been vaccinated, but Dr. Dean says they aren't 100%. The only place he really could have picked it up is the nursery at church. Oh, well. He was sick for the day, then quite back to normal. He looks so angelic sleeping . . . there next to his gun.

Friday, October 24, 2008

remember when . . .

you threw up at school the first time?

Well, yesterday was Hunter's turn. I had just left the commissary on the marine base and was heading home to meet Hunter at his bus stop. I got a call from his teacher on my cell phone stating that he had thrown up and she didn't want to put him on the bus if she didn't have to, so I went to the school to get him. The school is about 7 miles from the house, kind of out in the boonies. He was fine by the time I got there, and they had a spare shirt so he didn't have to wear the pukey one home. She said he even ran for the trash can, which is better than my first time in the second grade. Just ask my desk buddies Ronelle and Melania; I still hear about it occasionally.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Columbus Day Festivities

Just kidding - we didn't participate in any Columbus Day activities, but Dean got another four-day weekend, which is always welcome! He did have to go in for a couple of hours on Friday to see some dogs that had just returned from Iraq with their handlers.

Saturday we decided to go to the temple in Raleigh, about 145 miles from here. It is a small temple, so we had to make an appointment, but it worked out nicely. I got on craigslist to see if I could find a sitter near the temple for the boys. It makes for one long day for a sitter when you leave them back home and travel hours away. I did get a sitter, but afterward we decided it probably wasn't the best idea to find a random person on the internet; she was a nice teenager in a nice home, and she apparently had other kids there as well, and she was only about a mile from the temple... it still made us a little nervous while we were separated from them, but whaddya do?

I'm not normally much into fishing, but a while back on a Friday night I wanted to get out of the house and go do or see something family friendly, so Dean's first thought was to go down in a bay on the base and try his luck at catching good things to eat. He caught a few fish that were too small, so had to throw them back. He set his crab net and actually caught a blue crab. He and Hunter both used their shrimp nets and later in the evening caught some shrimp. I don't know who first thought of eating shrimp! They look like a big nasty bug with legs and long eye things and antennae (not at all like the tasty things that are all prepared and ready to eat). The boys had fun running around with other kids that were there. That's a shrimp net in the picture, by the way. He and Hunter each have one.

Our back yard here is ginormous. It took me an hour and a half to mow the front and back lawn in Astoria. Dean said a while back that he had decided he should help with such things more. Lo and behold, he followed through and did it. It took two hours just to do the back! As I had never seen such an event, I took a picture. You can't much see it, but that's him in the surgical face mask, sparing his allergies.

I got together with a lady from church last week at a nice park so Kyler could play with her kids. He has been stir crazy at home with me. He rode that pelican like he was going to take off, and had lots of fun otherwise.

I am still unpacking and hanging pictures and all those things I do so often since we move so much. I am also job hunting, since the buyer for our house fell through, and Dean makes a fraction of what he did in private practice, and we are sinking fast. We haven't had any other bites on our house...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Flounder for Two

Dean has come to judge the quality of living in a particular city or area by how good the fishing is. We loved Astoria, OR, but he was never able to dig (clams), catch (fish) or trap (crabs) much, and was sorely disappointed there. Here, he is doing great in that department, and took Hunter shrimping the other evening. They came home with a 16" flounder. He watched an online demonstration on how to fillet it, and the next day I found a scrumptious recipe and cooked it up for dinner. The boys would hardly touch it, and Hunter even put on a show by gagging up the one bite he took. So Dean and I enjoyed most all of it.

Dean did have a discussion with the Sergeant Major, by the way, about how to respond to "Oorahs" from the Marines. It was a lengthy discourse about all the potential meanings or nuances that could be behind the "greeting", much like all the possible implications of an "aloha". There is only a subtle difference between a Marine's "oorah" and a Soldier's "hooah", so potentially they could be mocking him with a "hooah" (50,000 Marines and a dozen Army Soldiers makes one feel like a walking target), in which case Sgt. E. recommends hitting them. He says he does it; anyone below his rank qualifies for a hit. Hmm. That's an idea, but probably not one Dean will apply. Perhaps it is just a friendly greeting. He can't really respond with a "Semper Fi", not being a Marine. So at this point, still no definitive answer.

I did venture on to the base on Saturday for the first time without Dean. He was working, as the VTF was hosting a vaccine/microchip clinic outside. They had one of those big jumping things for kids to play in, so I took the boys (and a scrub top Dean requested) to say 'hi' to Daddy and to play in the jumper. The big mascot dog came by and gave the kids candy as well, and Kyler spent the rest of the day asking where the Army dog was. I also went shopping at the commissary. It's amazing! Not too much fun with the boys along, but the prices are sweet! I was disappointed in how expensive the potatoes are here. They were cheap in Oregon, like $2 for a 10 pound bag was the regular price. It was more like $6 here, at the commissary! Sweet potatoes were only .50/lb so I got a bunch of those instead.

I'm still getting the hang of being a military wife, and have been afraid of doing something wrong on the base and getting flogged - or whatever they would do to me. Dean tries to assure me that I have nothing to worry about but I have my doubts. I sure feel silly when the MPs at the gate to the base salute me; Dean says it makes him feel silly too. One of the techs called the other evening to ask him something. It used to be 'Dr. Lavallee'; now it's 'Captain Lavallee' that they ask for. He is loving the Army so far.

Church was nice today. People have been welcoming and Dean already knows a lot of them. The military people come and go as their assignments change. Kyler became a little aggressive toward the end in nursery, as another child got him with the door or something along those lines, and he had a little battle scar on his face to show for it. He hasn't been taking naps much lately, so is a grouch after noon most of the time. I cannot imagine how he is going to do as a Sunbeam in a few short months.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the Road Again

Well, we made it here to Jacksonville, NC. That would be Kyler, my mom and myself. Dean made the long drive (from Astoria, OR) starting on August 12. Hunter got to fly most of the way over the Labor Day weekend. We saw Uncle Bro for the last time in Portland.

We went up north a bit to see Mt Rushmore, and swung by Devil's Tower along the way.

In Murdo, SD we saw this strange vehicle and had to take a picture of the inside and out - red neck limo perhaps?

Somewhere in Iowa we saw a real Dutch windmill, which was taken apart in the old world and reassembled in Iowa. We even ate at the Dutch restaurant next door.

We swung by the mammoth caves in Kentucky.
And then we finally got to our new home Sunday evening, one week after departing Astoria. Ugh. Needless to say we are glad to be done driving, but not necessarily looking forward to all these boxes needing to be unpacked; they arrived Saturday. I finally got to see Dean in his Army Combat Uniform (ACUs). He is slimmer than ever and looking good, and now I don't have to nag him about keeping his hair cut. He is still learning and figuring things out. As a Captain, lower ranks are supposed to salute him, but not having been through the training himself he's not always sure exactly how it works (he is scheduled to attend the three-month Officers' Basic starting in January). So sometimes the Marines will grunt a "hoorah" at him in passing. He's going to ask the Sergeant Major in their unit (the Veterinary Treatment Facility) what he's supposed to do with that, when he remembers. They are pretty much the only Army people in Camp Lejeune (he did see some Army Reservists today, which was noteworthy.) The Navy supplies the medical people for the base (human medicine).

If you're wondering what the Army (or Marines for that matter, since this is a Marine base) needs veterinarians for, he has done a number of things so far: inspected a Sara Lee factory (they supply some products in the Commissary); inspected the Commissary (they oversee all the food inspection stuff); examinations and surgeries on the "working dogs" (they sniff bombs, and bomb planters; some were recently deployed); and there is always training, such as what to do when you are taking fire in your humvee, and hand to hand combat techniques; and they see the pets of the Marines in the clinic on the base. He is enjoying it all so far. He took us for a little tour on the base today. He says the Marines have been very nice so far.

Hunter and Kyler were so excited to see each other! They hugged and kissed and have said repeatedly "I like you!" So sweet! Who knew that they would miss each other?

I found this cute little dress for the boys' cousin (a girl). Kyler discovered it, and can never resist a pretty dress...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Holding down the Fort

So Kyler and I are here in Astoria for another week. It is so much easier just having him around! Hunter demands tons of mental energy, so Dean is enjoying him and getting worked over by him at the same time. They survived the hurricane that went through the Carolinas over the weekend. They had strong winds and rain for a few hours over night. The typhoon we had here in Oregon in December was much worse, causing much more damage and it lasted two days!

I took Kyler down to the pier this week and we looked at those lazy, bachelor sea lions that lie around barking. Apparently they are losers who can't get girlfriends down the coast, so they come back here to hang out. We also rode the trolley and tried out a barbecue restaurant for lunch, and took a walk along the river front. There are so many exciting things (birds to feed - Grandma Dee would be proud, bell to ring, ships to watch), and we picked a few blackberries to snack on.

We are very blessed to finally have a buyer for the house! A lady called from Colorado Springs, CO and wants to do a lease/purchase. She's moving here to buy a candy/ice cream shop in town, and we are very happy to sell to her.

I am going to start driving out (if everything goes as planned) next Sunday. My mom is flying up to Portland late Sunday afternoon, so I'll pick her up there and we'll head out. Kyler doesn't much understand what's coming - a week in the car. He turned three this past week (9/2), by the way, and Hunter turns six on Tuesday (9/9).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

To Catch a Shrimp

So being a government employee now, Dean got a luxurious four-day weekend for Labor Day. We decided to fly Hunter out to be with him now as well, since school had already started there in Jacksonville, NC. The army paid for the ticket (we had to pay the $100 unaccompanied minor charge, but that's ok) and Hunter flew nonstop to Charlotte, NC. Dean had to drive the 240 miles to pick him up. So Dean took Hunter shrimping today, and they had success! He was frustrated here in Astoria as he never could seem to catch anything, (clams, crab, fish - all eluded him here). So of today's catch, he said they were the yummiest shrimp he's ever had (he fixed them up himself) and, naturally, Hunter didn't like them. That's our boy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

for the ladies

So I have done or found a couple of things lately that might be useful info for the ladies out there. One is that I finally took my wedding ring in to have the prongs checked out, and to have it resized. My ring finger was misshapen below the knuckle because the ring has been too small most of our 8-year marriage. It fit fine when we married... So I went up a whole size, and now I can get it off easily any time of the day, and may even be able to wear it if I manage to ever get pregnant again. I got a slight scolding from the jeweler, as only one of the four prongs was holding the diamond in. That's not bad for 8.5 years of wearing the ring, but it was definitely time to be done. I could see that the prongs didn't look quite right with my naked eye. They did a beautiful job and cleaned it up nicely. I've always loved the ring, and was happy that we picked it out together. It was a little spendy, though: $45 to resize and $25 for each of the four prongs. I guess it's like maintenance on the car - a necessary investment.

An item I've recently found is a bra strap holder. I'm sure I'm not the only woman frustrated with bra straps that don't stay up! I resolved about a year ago that I would never buy another bra that wasn't a racer-style, with the straps meeting in the middle of the back. Those are a lot harder to find, and tend to show at the neck. Well, no need for the boycot of regular bras since I found the Dritz bra strap holder (I think that's what it is called). For you sewers, Dritz might sound familiar, as it makes sewing notions. I saw one of these online, and looked at the local Joann Fabric and Crafts, and sure enough there it was on the wall amongst all the sewing notions. It cost a couple of dollars (I think I even used a Joann coupon), and saved my bras from the trashcan! I took me a few minutes to figure out how to put it on but once I got it, I haven't had to pull up a single strap! A victory for the Ladies!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our House

I finally got the house straightened up enough to take pictures inside, so that I can use them in the flyers out front, and someone on craigslist asked for interior pictures. So here, finally, is my house.

Potato Harvest

Dean and Hunter are in front of the Multnomah Falls. As you can see, Dean loves having Hunter gyrate on his shoulders.
Here is the twin corn I was talking about, which Kyler is modeling. Hunter is modeling our potato harvest. My friend has always raised potatoes and told me that you cut them up (potatoes) and plant them, so I tried that, and what do you know... baby red potatoes.