Valentine’s Day=Chocolate Covered Strawberries

We don’t usually do a lot to celebrate or mark Valentine’s Day around here. After all, if our kids don’t know that we love them every day of the year, will buying them a bunch of gifts or a lot of candy on one day really make it up to them or make them believe otherwise? Todd and I have gone through phases of celebrating, too, but on the whole since he is about 99.9% unmushy and I’m not excited to push him to do things he’d rather not (nor have I really ever been a fan of expecting gifts because I’m told that I should), Valentine’s Day is mostly an observed holiday in our home. One commercial I’ve seen several times this year has almost caused me to go apoplectic is the Helzberg Jewelry commercial where the woman exclaims (as she’s wearing new jewelry): “And that’s how I know I’m loved.” If by “loved,” you mean in a superficial, hold it in your hand and eventually leave it in your jewelry drawer kind of way, then well, I guess I’m not “loved,” and yet, I know I’m loved by my husband of almost 15 years, and I pray my kids know they’re loved by us. Not because we get them STUFF, but by telling them and showing them in many different ways.

But also, Valentine’s Day isn’t about ranting either. One thing we have made a tradition, however, is making and eating chocolate covered strawberries! The kids love them and start reminding me that it’s what we do for Valentine’s Day way back in January, just so I won’t forget. This year I bought three pounds of good looking strawberries and let them go to town. This is the kind of tradition we all can get behind. Can’t hardly wait for dinner!

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A tough week

After our outbreak of fevers, and what I thought looked like us getting over them on Sunday, Todd and I watched everyone carefully and tried to make the best decision for not only us but everyone the kids would be coming into contact with. All of the kids were fever free by Sunday morning, we figured that if we laid low throughout the day then we’d all be good to return to CC on Monday and hopefully continue our path to wellness.

On Monday morning, however, I still had a cough, but I figured since I was a grown up, I knew how to keep it to myself. I could cover and blow my nose when necessary and hand washing was not a foreign concept to me. Hannah and Patrick seemed fine, and though Ben still had a slight cough, too, he said he felt like going to CC because he didn’t feel sick. Andrew had been on antibiotics since Friday afternoon, so I reasoned that he wouldn’t be contagious. Brendan, however, in a seemless combination of true illness and superb acting skills, dragged himself out of bed at 6:30 Monday morning and gave a deep, ugly cough that made me think there was no way he should be sitting in a room with seven unsuspecting classmates and their mothers. Chloe, too, had had a rough night with coughing and sniffles, and both Todd and I realized that the only place those two belonged was at home. As “luck” would have it, Todd didn’t feel so great himself, so he offered to stay home with the two sickies so I could take the well ones and still tutor my class. It was the first week out of more than 40 that any of us had missed, but it was necessary. Todd made an appointment for four of the kids to be seen in the afternoon after he discovered that Chloe’s temp had jumped back to 103.

We made it through the morning and left early–everyone except Hannah–to make our pediatrician appointment. Todd reported that both Brendan and Chloe had slept most of the morning and did little or nothing else. We trudged to the doctor, mostly to rule something out with the well ones and see what was up with the sick ones. Upon the initial temp, weight, and blood pressure taking phase, the nurse grabbed Chloe’s arm and asked me how long it had looked like that. “Looked like….what?” I asked, not really seeing anything. Apparently, Chloe had a very obvious case of Fifth’s Disease and the accompany rash was all over her arms and legs. I hadn’t even noticed it, mostly because of her fair skin, I think, that often changes colors and allows us to almost see through her and into her circulatory system. If you’re not familiar with Fifth’s Disease, go here. It’s a fairly harmless virus unless you’re pregnant and have never had it, but for otherwise healthy children, it often goes undiagnosed because of its mildness. The nurse asked if their cheeks looked red–as if they’d been slapped–and I told her I thought it was just from their fevers. Oops.

In addition to Chloe, Andrew, Brendan, and Ben being diagnosed with Fifths, the doc also found that Chloe had an ear infection and pink eye, Ben had an ear infection, and Brendan had bronchitis. Lovely. We were a walking infirmary! We left with the knowledge that we needed to go home and stay home for a while so the herd could get better. I had a panicked realization that a couple of the kids had been in CC that day and therefore technically had exposed (totally unknowingly) their classmates to Fifths. The strange part about that illness is that it is only contagious until the rash appears, but until the rash appears, it presents just like a cold. In any case….we could be known as the Fifths spreading Tighes.

Monday night brough our house the most restful night of sleep in a long time. It was heavenly. Chloe’s cough seemed to be quieting down and everyone’s fevers were gone. The next morning, the rest of the kids presented with the rash, which meant that they’d all had it and were no longer contagious. On the up side, it was something we could cross off our to do lists as a family… Fifths Disease. Check.

By that evening, though, Chloe started sounding bad again. She suddenly got extremely congested and could hardly swallow on account of her sinuses being so clogged and had a terrible cough that didn’t seem to produce anything. She hardly slept that night, and as a matter of course, neither did we. Todd and I were both still fighting coughs of our own as well, so sleep would have been a helpful addition to our week. When morning came, she still was coughing, despite all the cough remedy tricks I had in my arsenal. Even Vicks on her feet with heavy socks didn’t even touch it. Finally before lunch I called her doctor just to see if I could talk to her about what could help the congestion and cough. The receptionist, who commented on how bad I sounded myself, said she’d rather have Chloe seen by the doc just to make sure she hadn’t gotten worse. Ugh, I thought. I knew she’d gotten worse, I told myself, or else why would I call?! Reluctantly we went back to the doc for the third time in less than a week. My nose was running like a faucet and Chloe was having uncontrollable coughing fits, and I felt so sorry for the other people in the waiting room with us who were no doubt trying not to breathe while we were there.

The nurse found that Chloe had a slight fever and by this time she was just laying on my chest, not talking or smiling. The pediatrician suggested we swab her nose for the flu, and I let her. She took the sample and informed us that the test normally takes about ten minutes to get results. In Chloe’s case, however, she came back in less than two minutes and announced that the redhead had a positive confirmation for the flu. Lovely. Instantly my head started swimming with the thought of the other five kids coming down with it. The doc said it was definitely a good idea not to have my class on Thursday, since the virus was just getting underway. Ugh again. The thought of rescheduling class again was not appealing to me.

We had a slight drama getting Chloe’s Tamiflu prescription filled, and while Todd and I and three pharmacies were sorting it all out, I started to feel body ache creep over all of me. In the hour between taking Chloe to the doc and getting to the pharmacy, every part of me felt like I had been hit by a truck. With each passing second it got worse. I barely made it home before wanting to crawl into bed and hide for a very long time.

Instead, while Todd went to get the prescription, I got Chloe settled on the couch where she promptly fell asleep and stayed asleep for most of the rest of the evening until moving to her bed to sleep all night. It was a ‘have a bowl of cereal or help yourself to leftovers’ type of dinners because I really felt beyond worthless. The kids were great at realizing that they did not want to catch what Chloe and I had, and helping each other out to get the job done.

I don’t remember much of the next day. The kids really picked up the slack (more or less) and Todd was here to work at home and helped out a ton. I slept a lot. Chloe lazed around, but already seemed to be feeling a bit better. The Tamiflu seemed to be working wonders for her. Though we watched the kids closely, no one new seemed to be falling prey to the evil flu virus so far…..

Todd’s mom and dad brought us dinner that night, which was such a welcome treat. I didn’t feel like cooking, but also worried about cooking and contaminating my family. With the blessing of dinner, everyone ate a delicious roast and no one had to be near me. 🙂

By Friday morning, I knew I had to get up and get things done, regardless of how I felt, but at least I felt functional. So many things were falling behind and I needed to get back to work. I managed to do the bare bones of grocery shopping and a few loads of laundry, but still had almost no energy. Chloe was acting almost back to normal and still no one else showed sick signs. Laura brought us dinner on Friday and that was another huge blessing. We were feeling quite spoiled!

I thought I felt better on Saturday, but my head started hurting and felt full. By Sunday I was in pain again, thinking there’s no way I can be sick AGAIN! What in the world was going on? I almost never take naps, but after church and lunch on Sunday, I had to lay down and try to sleep. The pressure on the left side of my head was too much.

Fast forward to this morning, when I finally went to my doctor and she told me I had a sinus infection. Hopefully this round of meds will be our last for a while. I have never accepted antibiotics so willingly before and hope that it will kick out the last remnant of illness in this house! I’ve been a crab for about two weeks fighting one thing or another, not to mention the lack of productivity that has permeated the Tighe home. With guests coming this weekend, this is definitely no time to be wasting time!

This too shall pass…..

The Last Man Standing…

We’ve been blessed during this cold and flu season so far… Perhaps a sniffle here and there, but no overwhelming issues have come to stay, for which I’m extremely thankful. That is, about a week ago, when something hit me like a ton of bricks. Of course it happened the same day I had a physical and told my doc that I hadn’t had any sicknesses for a while. She praised me for being so healthy overall. Perhaps I picked something up at the office itself while in the waiting room…

Like a good mom, I tried my best to keep it from the kids, and it seemed to work for a while. Then, on Thursday afternoon, when the kids usually clean the living areas of the house in preparation for my class, I found Drewbie curled up on the couch, completely wrapped up in his blankets (or “kikis” as he calls them), and out like a light. When I felt his forehead he was hot to the touch. He went on to take a two hour nap, so when he woke up, I called his doc just to see if we could get in on Friday morning mainly to rule something out. By that time he had a deep, congested cough, and looked awful.

By the time I took him to the doc the next morning, Brendan was complaining about his head hurting. Oh, goody, I thought t o myself. We found out that Drewbie had a double ear infection but no wheezing or respiratory problems. When we returned home after that visit, I found Brendan laying on the floor under his desk, wrapped in his blankets and almost asleep. Two down….

While I was at Meijer picking up Andrew’s antibiotic, I also bought a thermometer. Can you believe we haven’t had one of those in the house for several years? Yes….along with allowing my children to ride their bikes without helmets, we also assess illness around here with a mere hand to the forehead. Really, there oughta be a law….oh wait…there probably already is….

The thermometer purchase turned out to be a worthy one, because upon my arrival home, I found out Brendan was sporting a 102.7 fever. He looked terrible. Andrew, on the other hand, though he was laying around, seemed to be on the upswing if only slightly. As I surveyed the rest of the herd, Chloe looked like she would be the next to fall, and sure enough, after her long afternoon nap, she woke up with a deep cough and a warm head. Good times.

Later in the evening it was Patrick’s turn to get in on the fun, and he tied Brendan for high temp at 102.7. He’s well on his way to being a good “sick guy” as he was absolutely pathetic—shaking and making noise like he would surely die at any instant. Even so, I couldn’t help but feel for the guy.

Everyone seemed to be sleeping well last night until Chloe came in our room around 5 presenting the same symptoms, only this time she was burning up. Our brand new trusty thermometer confirmed that she was running at 103.1. While I went to fetch her some Motrin, she was talking nonsensically to Todd, so we knew she was feeling the burn. After getting some meds, she almost immediately fell back to sleep, and although she’s still feverish this morning, it is better.

Hannah woke up with a scratchy throat and a slight fever, so who knows what will happen to her throughout the day. There are clean hands and home policies in place here, of course, but there is only so much hand sanitizer and other precautions one can take.

And now, Ben remains the last Tighe kid standing. I can hear a slight cough with him, but after his insistence of having his temperature taken (it’s a novelty to them too!), he was OK. I’m praying it stays that way. For now, we’re obviously going to lay low and try to recover. I’m way behind on my copyediting work that is due in a few short weeks. It’s a toss-up as to whether my house would be more likely to land an episode of Hoarders or Lives of the Anxious and Cluterred. The laundry basket is fill to beyond the brim again. And I’ve got kids sprawled on just about every horizontal surface in the house, convalescing. Somehow it will get all done, but with still recovering myself and feeling the run-down feeling that comes from my body apparently putting all its energy into making congestion, it’s been a slow week production-wise. We’re praying it passes quickly and just goes off to sea.

Until then, please pass the Mucinex.

Our first Highbridge Film Festival experience

Last March, Patrick was approached about helping out in a short film that a few students at nearby Asbury University were planning. The Highbridge Film Festival is a popular avenue around here for students involved in film and the arts, and the producers of this short film wanted to enter. Todd made all the arrangements for Patrick and even talked me into having an extremely small bit part. As you would imagine, many hours go into the planning, arranging, taping, and editing that will eventually become an 8 minute movie. Todd and Patrick were gone several days and even one or two late evenings to complete the shoot, but after every one, they each had the same reactions: Patrick absolutely enjoyed acting, and Todd had nothing but good things to say about Patrick’s ease in front of the camera.

In late April, we had the opportunity to attend our first Highbridge festival, and it was something to see. First of all, all eight of us attended and we all dressed up. Of course, in true to form Murphy’s Law fashion, it poured that entire night. And by poured, I mean, torrential downpour. We all got soaked. But somehow we muddled through and made it to the auditorium. We took up an entire row and looked only slightly out of place being surrounded by college students dressed to the nines. (Ahh to be young again….Then again, nevermind.) The kids were all excited, but easily grew impatient while we waited for the festivities to begin.

When it finally got underway, we were all enthralled by the different offerings. Some were humorous–and a couple were downright hilarious, and others were serious. At one point, Todd had to take the youngest children out on the advice of the emcee and others that one of the films could be scary. The little ones didn’t mind; in fact, I think it only helped to add to the mystique of the evening for them. At long last, “Patrick’s” film was shown. It was the last entry of the night, and after watching the others, I wasn’t sure how his would fare with such a varied amount of talent. We were all so excited–none of us had seen the final product before that night. The storyline is simple: a young, talented, misunderstood boy is trapped in a sad home life which only serves to keep him from reaching his full potential. Thanks to the encouragement of two teachers who see his abilities, he is finally able to go on and reach heights he may not have otherwise attained. Or, as the Highbridge program denoted, “A story of hope.” (Perhaps I’m too wordy.) I knew I would tear up, mainly from seeing Patrick on the big screen as it were for the first time, but I had no idea that about two minutes into the film that Andrew would start sobbing. He set off Ben. Hannah was crying by the end. Patrick, I think, was still upset that we made him wear a tux. (That’s not true; that kid was tickled that he had the opportunity to do something like this!). Our row wasn’t the only ones wiping tears, either; people around us sniffled before they applauded at the end. It was superb, and I just wanted to watch it again and again.

In the end, the film took home two awards that night, including the coveted “Audience Choice.” It was a wonderfully fun evening. We made a mad dash from the auditorium through the relentless rain to the party after the festival, stopping to take a few pictures on our way. If it hadn’t been raining, it would have been perfect. Even with the rain, it was a memorable family event. Below are a few pictures from the evening, as well as the film “For Jacob.”

for jacob from Tyler Hoff on Vimeo.

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Update on 2011 Resolutions and Changes

Well….here we are at the beginning of February, with the first month of 2011 already a memory. There are feet of snow on the ground in many areas of the midwest, ice wreaking havoc in several other parts of the country, and the groundhog didn’t see his shadow this morning. I thought it would be a good time to recap what I attempted to change in our budgetary lives and how much I spend on groceries. Maybe this isn’t the best time to write this post, but if I wait too much longer, I know that things will get busy and it will be March before I’m able to sit down and catch up. It also may not be the best time to write anything because I went grocery shopping earlier this afternoon and it was a discouraging event. I am shocked at the prices of certain foods and that, combined with the weight of hearing how most items’ prices will only go up, doesn’t really leave me feeling optimistic about my success of spending less on food.

Aside from that, here’s my intentionally vague recap. (Why vague, you ask? For some reason–and I’ve talked with Todd about this, with him coming to the conclusion that I’m just weird–I don’t like to give out hard and fast numbers on what I spend on food. I liken it to sharing my weight with others, which I would really rather not do. Ever. Even under duress. It’s also up there with the dreaded, “Sooo….are you gonna have more?!?!” In any case, I’d rather stick to generalities right now and work up to full disclosure later on. Don’t hold your breath on me ever t elling you what I weigh, however.) I re-read my blog entry which set my goals for the month, and I hoped to reduce my bill by 1/3. My ideal goal is to reduce it by 1/2 and keep it there, but I’m willing to take baby steps. I also made the grand statement that I was goign to shop only at Aldi’s for a month and see how productive that could be. Surprisingly to me, I ran into quite a bit of opposition about that decision–not so much from my family, but from other “well-wishers.” I know we all approach food differently, have our own suppositions about good food vs. bad food, and desire to prepare and serve all types of food for our families. I do have to say I was a little taken aback by those who didn’t approve of my choice, but after having a good long sigh about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’d like to a) buy the food we eat here and b) come to my house and cook it for me, then sure, hack away at the current system. I understand that there is room for improvement in any program and I’ll be first to say that mine needs constant updating, but I grow weary of the unsolicited advice.

WOW, I keep getting off track from my topic sentence, don’t I? Perhaps this REALLY isn’t a good day to write! In any case, after tallying up my saved receipts from the month, I was happy to see that I hadn’t just cut the bill by 33%, but went all the way to around 44%! I credit this not only to Aldi, but more specifically to Aldi’s policy of cash or debit card only. There are no two ways around the fact that when you pay with cash, you can only buy what you have money for. So there’s that. I also found out quickly that shopping exclusively at Aldi was an impossibility. They simply don’t carry some things that we need here. It wasn’t too much of a hassle, though. I would go through the Meijer ad and the Aldi ad, create my menu plan, compare prices of the sale items and Aldi’s regular prices, and fashion my shopping lists from there. Unquestionably, I saved most on dairy and produce, but there were sales at Meijer that beat even Aldi prices, so I felt I got fairly good deals across the board on my fresh veggies and fruits. I try to purchase only meat that’s on sale, and that didn’t change this month.

Overall, I’m glad I have been able to make one small step to spending less on our food budget. I feel like the first month, at least, was a success. For the month of February, I will continue to shop at Aldi and compare prices with other places. My goal is to spend even less, obviously (who would strive to spend more?). More updates to follow as well.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! #5 Loses Tooth #1!!

Today started out as a fairly mundane Wednesday. Even though we didn’t get the massive amounts of snow and ice that our norther neighbors received, we still managed to eek out some weather-related issues that come along with wind gusts. Our power went out at least twice throughout the night and the wind’s howling sounded ghastly. (It was a restless night for a few of us, while most of the kids reported that they hadn’t even heard any of it.)

Thankfully, however, by our usual wake up time, the power had been restored, all was OK with the world, and we were free to carry on with the usual Wednesday activities of school and laundry. With the mound of dirty clothes that welcomed me in the laundry room, I was especially thankful that we had power! Everything was the same, until I heard crying from upstairs while I was changing a load of laundry downstairs. It was Andrew, I knew; he has (like most children) a very distinct cry. And like a good mom of many, I debated for just a split second whether I should drop my transfer from washer to dry and run up there to see what was the matter. In almost the same instant, since I didn’t hear any stomping of feet coming to find me or other little voices desperately hollering my name, I reasoned that he probably was just fine and most likely not bleeding all over the carpet. So I finished my wash load exchange before climbing the stairs back up to the school room.

When I got to the top step, everyone cheered. I knew for certain it wasn’t for me (though, wouldn’t that be nice? just once? to hear “YAY MOM!!! YOU ARE WORKING HARD SO WE CAN HAVE CLEAN UNDERWEAR!! THANK YOU!!! YOU ROCK!!!!” Again, I digress…), but quickly found out that Andrew had just pulled his first loose tooth out all by himself. Wow! We had discovered it was loose just over a week ago, and he was wholly disinterested in doing much about it. After four other tooth-losers around here, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry for the process either. But today apparently was the day for him and with just a little encouragement from Todd, he popped it out all by himself. I realize that losing a tooth isn’t the biggest deal to most, but when you’re five and it’s your first tooth, well, that just takes on a whole different meaning. Andrew is rightly proud of himself and received lots of high fives and cheers from his big brothers and a hug or two from his sisters.

With thoughts of the tooth fairy from Ren and Stimpy firmly in my mind, I’m not sure I want to play that role. I think I’ll let Todd do the honors. 🙂 And with that tooth coming out, we have met another milestone in the Tighe home. The good times just keep on coming.

My response to Patrick’s “blovel” moniker…A short and sweet post

Although the kids aren’t interested in every post I add to the blog, they all enjoyed reading through the chronicles of the day I tried to get the planets lined up, so when I added the most recent adventures, I thought they would appreciate that too. Not so much, actually. Patrick started whining and complaining as if his eyes were bleeding and kept asking, “How long IS this!?!” (Truth be told, 2700 words is not that much, in my humble opinion…) After that I received intermittent razzing about the story length and my blog posts in general, Patrick coined what he thought was an original word. “Mom, you’re writing a blovel!” Not exactly, but it was humorous.

Therefore, I dedicate this post to Patrick. This morning, while we’re trying to work on multiplication, areas of circles, subtracting money, and other math-related topics, Chloe sat in the other room belting out her rendition of “O Clementine.” Here it is below….that is, until she got camera shy. Patrick is actually the videographer of this short clip as well.

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