Doctor, will I ever blog again?!

I realize I have a small-time blog, but it’s the main way I keep up with our personal history and lives, and the way some of you keep up with us from many miles away.   Although it has been a very busy six weeks, I’m surprised I have not carved out any time to sit down and just write something.  Usually I use my blog as the perfect procrastination tool.  When I’m supposed to be completing another task, I rationalize wasting time by thinking, “Well, my blog is important too….”  While that may be true, I can’t serve my family a blog post for dinner and it certainly cannot pass for clean underwear.

In an attempt to catch up with what has been happening around here, I thought I’d do a couple of montage posts.

In late January, Todd and I had the excitement of attending the Stage Managers’ retreat near Gatlinburg, TN with a group of youth from our church, including Hannah and Patrick.  Not only did we attend, however, but this year we were in charge of the food.  Feeding 50ish people turned out to be quite the undertaking, with planning meals, shopping and packing it up, and preparing it all.  Thankfully, we did not do all the cooking and serving alone; other parents at the retreat willingly jumped in to lend a hand.   One of the first jobs we had on Friday evening (after getting a late start thanks to a treacherous trip up the mountain where our cabin was located) was to cook ten pounds of bacon.  Yeah, that’s right.  Ten pounds.   If I remember correctly, with two or three of us working on it, it still took until 1 am to cook it all.  Perhaps our new friend who so kindly offered to help was, by the last bit o’ bacon, sorry she had even stepped foot in the kitchen.

Here’s a pile of that wonderful food that Jim Gaffigan eloquently venerates…..

The next morning, bright and early, we were up again, preparing the rest of the breakfast for the hungry stage managers.  Here’s our spread for breakfast number one.  I made a big boo-boo and didn’t pack a large frying pan or two, somehow thinking that we could scramble our eggs on the griddle.  Momentary lapse of judgment resulted in some serious quick thinking and contingency plan on Todd’s part.   It took a bit longer to get breakfast ready to serve, but it all worked out in the end (and I was allowed to stay.  After all, lunch wasn’t that far off!)  Here is the breakfast spread, though a tad blurry.

Although it was a fabulous and productive weekend for the stage managers and the leaders, sadly Todd and I were separated from most of the action because of the floor plan of the cabin.  The kitchen was on a different floor than the main gathering room, so we missed a bit of it.  What we did accomplish, however, was successfully feeding a herd.  Here are two pictures of Todd’s lunchtime creation.  He wanted to assemble Guiness World Record-length subs and had fun doing it.  They were yummy!

The kids and adults alike enjoyed choosing their favorite portion of the giant sammiches.

On the whole, the weekend was a rousing success.  We enjoyed spending time with the kids and adult leaders and ate very well.  There were some exciting adventures into town and wonderful chances to not only meet new people but forge current relationships to be even stronger.

Then, February arrived.  While it’s usually the shortest month, this past year it felt like it was never going to leave.  It started out just fine, however, and although Ben’s birthday is not in February (he was born in early November!!), we had been putting off his promised birthday sleepover for many weeks.  Between committments with school or church and events with his friends that would have kept them from hanging out, available Fridays were hard to come by.  But Ben, patient as he is, waited without complaining–although I will say he was reminding us regularly–until the embarrassingly late date of February 10.  (Actually, that’s beyond embarrassing.)  He had a few guys over and they had a fun time staying up all night and playing crazy boy games.  Our favorite–and perhaps theirs as well–was when they traipsed upstairs with floor pillows under their shirts.  They proceeded to crack us and each other up by doing chest bumps and trying to give each other hugs.  Boys.   Here’s what they looked like with their chubby bellies, as they called them:

Chloe just had to get in on the picture for good measure!

Early the next morning, despite the threat of cancellation because of snow that never really materialized, Hannah and I ventured out to attend the District Science Fair for Lexington.  After having won 2nd place at the homeschool level of the science fair back on January 9, we were moving on to the next level to compete with the winners from our district.  Walking in to one of the high schools in Lexington, we really didn’t know what to expect.  What we found, however, was a gym jam-packed with trifold science project boards from students ranging from 4th grade through high school.  There were so many entries that it was difficult to navigate down the aisles.  From the bleachers above the gym, this is what it looked like:

Hannah set up her board and readied her materials to await the judges’ interview portion of the fair.  It was a long morning, mostly made up of waiting for the judges to question her.  I think she was one of the last students to be questioned in her category.   Although parents were technically not allowed on the floor during the judging, I happened to be down there while a classmate of Hannah’s used my phone, so I was able to watch her talk with the judges from behind (probably good for both of us that she couldn’t see me!).   She looked confident and engaging, and the judges appeared interested in what she was saying.  I couldn’t hear what they said to each other, but from watching body language,  it looked like it went very well.   Hannah confirmed that as we drove home to pick up the rest of the crew.  Win or lose, it had been a good morning.

We all returned to the high school later that afternoon to attend the awards ceremony, along with Papa and Nonnie Tighe and Ralph, Laura, and their kids, who all came out to support Hannah.  How awesome is that!?  We took up quite a bit of space on the gym floor and had definite Tighe presence.  When the awards were given for Hannah’s category of Behavioral Sciences, we erupted in applause when they announced that Hannah had won 1st place!!  As she accepted her certificate and blue ribbon, we all realized that the science fair journey had not, in fact, come to an end on February 11.  Our next stop would be the Regional Science Fair in early March.   What an awesome opportunity this has been for Hannah, and one that goes well beyond conducting an experiment and making a fancy board.   The judging portion of each stage has allowed her to interact with others and hone her presentation skills.

A blue medal for her work.

Somehow we made it through our CC classes that following Monday, and then the bottom seemed to drop out.   If you look back at posts I made in mid-February of 2011, like this one or this one, you will quickly find that history repeats itself.  We seemed to be on the same track for all being sick on the same week in February.  Last year, Chloe had the flu.  This year, Ben tested positive for the flu.  He was pitiful, but I will say that Tami-Flu was a lifesaver.  The change in that boy from a miserable mess on the couch to a return to the land of the living was remarkable.  Chloe got sick, Patrick had it, Andrew had started it a week or so ago, but was still fighting it, I was stricken by it, but then Brendan fell prey as well.  He started out with a fever, then quickly moved to severe congestion and malaise. (Isn’t malaise just a great word!? I didn’t invent it, but I’m sure glad I get to use it.)   He lay around for a couple days, not doing much of anything else, until the magical time of 5:10 on a Friday afternoon.   This is the time when more children get sick than any other time in the week.  They somehow seem to know when the phones are turned off at the doctor’s office and then blammo, something serious begins.  For Brendan, it was a serious earache.  Although Brendan is prone to slight exaggeration at times, this time we could tell that he was in actual and serious pain.  Of course, Todd and I were registered to attend a marriage weekend conference that evening and the next day, so I tried to medicate him as much as possible and fend off anything worse.  While I didn’t like leaving him feeling so badly, we were just down the street and he was in good hands with Hannah.  Poor guy had a really rough night.

The next morning we returned to the conference after again medicating the boy, but after we had been there for about an hour or so, Hannah sent us a picture of Brendan’s ear.  It was obvious that his eardrum had ruptured.  Great, I thought.   This will most certainly win me Mother of the Year award! The upside was that once it ruptured, he was no longer in pain because the intense pressure that was pressing against his ear had released.  Earlier in the season, our pediatrician thought Chloe’s eardrum was going to meet the same fate, and she had prepared us for it by explaining how the body can repair it and that it wasn’t a life threatening situation.  Todd was able to call her and get antibiotics sent to our pharmacy, as well as make an appointment for her to see him on Monday afternoon.

The calm lasted, predictably, until close to midnight Saturday night when Brendan started complaining about his other ear. Seriously?!  It was truly a case of “second verse, same as the first.”  He was in intense pain again, and sometime overnight his other eardrum had ruptured.  Wow.  When we visited the pediatrician on Monday afternoon, she explained that although one rupture isn’t all that uncommon, it was unusual to have them both ‘explode’ at the same time.  (Way to go, Brendan!  Always outside the norm, you are!)  She referred us to an ENT (the same one who had done Brendan’s tonsillectomy in ’09) because she worried a tad about residual hearing loss.  Hadn’t considered that, so we obviously were not happy to hear that news.  By this time, Brendan’s ears were feeling better, but he was having some trouble hearing those around him and especially anything soft or low (not that “soft” or “low” happen too often around these parts!).

Here’s Brendan preparing for his big presentation on Sunday afternoon.  Though he felt better, his lack of sleep from the two previous nights caught up with him and instead of looking over his paper, he took a nice two hour nap on the couch.  HIs presentation went well, but I don’t think he heard anyone else’s!

That’s not to say that the entire month was a bust.  We actually managed to eke out a few good things besides the science fair win.   For instance, we managed to keep up with our schoolwork despite the waves of sickness.  Here’s Patrick helping Andrew with his reading assignment:

(I believe it’s an unspoken rule between boys that whenever reading is happening, a football needs to be present.)

Chloe did a fantastic job of keeping herself entertained while the older kids worked on school…

…and even enticed one of them to leave his studies to help her build something precarious…

Brendan, Ben, and Andrew had a chance to emulate the artwork of Georgia O’Keefe and create flowers one week at CC.  Here are their masterpieces, staring with Brendan’s:

And Ben’s:

And last, but not least, Andrew’s:

On the day before Valentine’s Day (which, have you heard, is my least favorite “holiday”?), I received a call from the local radio station telling me that I had won their Valentine’s Day contest. Don’t tell me irony is dead; it is alive and well!  In any case, I happily went to the station to pick up this lovely gift certificate and prize package of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion:

The certificate expired on Leap Day, so I had to use it quickly.  I used it as a reward for finishing my annual stack of copyediting work, seen below.

Somehow, despite the sickness and many other things going on around the house (like the every day full time tasks of homeschooling, housecleaning, and even attending a birth in mid-February), I managed to finish the work without going into all-out panic mode.   I even had the opportunity to attend my second UK game of the season, thanks to my awesome friend Tina who shared her prized tickets with little ole’ me.

By the way, we won.  It was awesome.  On the bottom of the picture, you can actually see Kevin Stallings and his Vandy team cowering in fear and defeat thanks to the UK team and the amazing Anthony Davis.   What a FUN game this was!

In addition to exploding eardrums in February, Andrew was also dropping body parts like the usual six-year-old is prone to do.  TEETH!  First it was a bottom tooth:

Then, not long after, his top two front teeth started to get really wiggly…and I snapped this, the last picture taken of him with his front baby teeth…. But he wasn’t ready to let them go just yet….

…so he had to wiggle them some more…. Before long, with Todd’s help, the first top tooth came out.  He doesn’t look too pleased about it in this picture, but believe me, he was!

That left just one more that was plenty wiggly, but not ready to give up the fight…it needed more work (and help from Daddy and Mommy)….. but before even a week had passed, Andrew became the toothless wonder!

He was seriously excited about this one coming out!  Andrew was relieved to know he could still whistle and Chloe immediately began asking when her baby teeth would start to wiggle.  Since she’s only four, it will hopefully be a while yet!

And, just like that, the first two months of 2012 are in the books.  Even with a leap day thrown in there to keep the Earth orbiting as it should, time is flying by.  Here at the Tighe homestead, we’re just trying to enjoy every step!

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