From The Home Office

Skedaddlin’

After a small ice storm this week, it's supposed to clear up. That's a good thing because we're planning to head to Portland for the The Vacationland RV & Camping Supershow! Whoo hoo! Okay, I'm not THAT enthusiastic about it because lugging Max and Mason through those things can be quite a challenge. However, Richard is terribly excited about it. I am looking forward to just getting away for a couple of days. While we do go on a date once a week, and run the occasional errand, spending almost all our time indoors this time of year can be a real drag. Mason is only 19 months old and our outdoor winter activities are really limited at this age. It's just too cold for him most days. …

Miracles Really DO Happen!

A few weeks ago, I posted a sad note about my friend, "G", who, at the age of 41, had a heart attack, suffered subsequent "severe brain damage" and was on life support. At that time, lots of my dear readers/friends out there sent notes of hope and prayers from all over the world. One friend even went to St. Patrick's Cathedral and lit candles for G. Another friend added G to her child's private school's morning prayers. Another friend posted G's story on her blog to ask for more prayers from more people. And another friend of a friend was praying for G all the way over in Israel. Even more friends added G to their church prayers, their prayer chains, and even their family dinner prayer-time. So many of you were praying for G! Well, I wanted to give you an update... …

First Formal Dance. Awweeee….

Ali and Frank had their first formal dance last weekend. Ali (age 17) went with her boyfriend and Frank (age 15) went with Ali's best friend, who just happens to be a senior. Now, don't worry. There is no romance there. They just went as friends. The boys looked quite spiffy in their tuxedos and the girls looked so beautiful. …

Yet Another Snow Day!

I'm happy to say that I have been sticking to one of my New Year's Resolution! I worked for an hour every morning last week (and for three hours on Sunday), and finally finished formatting one of my new books. We then printed it out for one last crack at editing. I always have to edit twice on paper - once using the manuscript and then once more using a real, printed copy of the book. That's the nice thing about Print on Demand (POD). You can make changes whenever you want. …

Back to My Books!

I'm relieved the holidays and our "home-based vacation" are over. I've made two New Year's Resolutions and I'm really going to stick to them this year...and neither one of them has anything to do with weight loss - ha ha! …

Still Chillin’

As I write this (on Monday), I'm still, technically, on vacation. I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things later this week and I'm glad the holidays are over so we can get back to the usual schedule (working, homeschooling, working, homeschooling...). But, for now, I'm giving my brain a much-needed rest (which means I'm only working until 2:30 p.m. until after the holidays). …

Thanks bunches for your prayers!

I wanted to thank everybody who wrote in with wise and loving messages about my friend, G. I appreciate the prayers most of all! They really do help. G's family is going to remove her from the respirator this week. I am feeling better. I've made peace with the situation and I am now fondly remembering G's love and the special gifts she gave to all of us during her special lifetime. …

Sometimes It Takes a Tragedy to Remember What’s Important in Life…

Things have been incredibly stressful here lately. Did I buy everything I was supposed to? Are all the books that MUST be done by Christmas formatted and uploaded to the printer? Did Frank remember to turn on the outdoor Christmas lights tonight? Is the baking on schedule? Who's going to shovel that half inch of snow and ice off the front steps in the morning? Did I just hear Max say he has a sore throat? Did Zach remember to ship the packages to the grandparents yesterday? Shouldn't Ali be home from basketball practice by now?? …

More Holiday Silliness

This weekend, we'll be having our annual Gingerbread gathering. The children will get together with some close friends and spend the evening making anatomically correct gingerbread people. You really don't know how creative your children can be until you give them free reign on a project like this. We've had everything from squalling newborn gingerbread babies to saucy gingerbread ladies-of-the-night...and some pretty hilarious characters in between. …

Blizzard!

In case you missed the news this week, Maine got hammered by a huge snowstorm. It started snowing around 3 a.m. on Monday morning and, as I write this at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, it's still snowing, but just a light, misty snowfall now. …

Gearing up for Christmas!

Now, we're gearing up for Christmas. Well, okay, we're already in the throes of it. Last Friday was Hoy Holiday. Each year, on the day after Thanksgiving, we go get our Christmas Tree at the local Christmas Tree farm. We then drag it home and all the girls laugh while the guys try to make it stand upright. We then pull the Christmas decorations out of the attic, decorate the whole house, inside and out, drink lots of hot chocolate, eat frozen pizza (don't worry - we cook it first) and then sit around the TV together that night watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. …

Gobble Gobble Gluttons

If you're in the U.S., you are undoubtedly staring at your computer screen today and trying to work, but really dreaming of the turkey and stuffing and gravy and warm pie you may be planning to have on Thursday. If you're not eating a large meal on Thursday, perhaps you are planning to work at the local shelter or soup kitchen, handing out delectable morsels to those who are less fortunate. If you will be eating at a shelter, God bless you. We are thrilled to have been invited to Alyssa's parents' house for Thanksgiving... …

Nothing Says Love… Like A Warm Toilet Seat

Richard's dad came to visit for the weekend from Texas and we all had a grand time! Max cried and cried when he left and we were so sad for him. It was pretty chilly all weekend with false threats of snow being flung by our whacky weatherman (he really is a pretty whacky fellow, quite bizarre, but we like him). Grandpa kept saying he was cold, even sitting in the living room with the heater turned up (and the rest of us sweating). He wasn't here long enough to get acclimated to our weather. We, on the other hand, don't really think it's terribly, unbearably cold until it gets below zero here. …

Mommy Zombie and Her Babies…

We had a wonderful, old-fashioned New England Halloween! If you want to see a picture of me with Max and Mason, click HERE. Gads, it took me about an hour to get those tangles out of my hair! …

Boo!

Just as soon as I started whining about the weather being too warm for Halloween, the temperatures dropped and the weatherman predicted snow. It hasn't snowed here on Halloween yet (since we moved her in 2000 anyway), but it did snow before Halloween one year. The red leaves falling on the snow was a incredible sight to behold! Matt reported ice on his car this morning, and said he thought we got some freezing drizzle instead of snow... …

The Eyeballs Stay In While the Boobs Fall Out…

Max must be growing up. For Halloween, instead of being something cute like a bunny rabbit or a Ninja Turtle, he wants to be something really scary (sigh). We haven't decided on Mason's costume yet. Max wants Mason to be something scary, too. I guess that would be okay because the mirror is too high in the bathroom for him to be able to scare himself. …

Gurgle, Gurgle… Ug…

Richard's two childhood friends, Chris and Scott, flew in from Wisconsin last Thursday. We did the standard Bar Harbor trip, drove up Cadillac Mountain, and got in some good leaf watching. It was definitely the peak weekend for leaf watchers and it was absolutely breathtaking. The night they arrived, we had lobster, which was precooked at a local seafood wholesaler. It was really good but mine might have been a bit undercooked. On Friday morning, I had pains in my stomach... …

Flashers on Our Street!

While I wish it was my idea, it wasn't. Somebody sent me an email last week that contained photos of creative things people have done with pumpkins. One was so cute that we just had to recreate it ourselves. It took most of the weekend, a bit of Richard's engineering creativity, and about $75 in supplies (wood from Home Depot, pumpkins from the local nursery, and HUGE clothes from the Salvation Army store), but we did it! And, now we're getting quite a few honks and people are even pulling over to take pictures. …

Boo Boo Instant Replay

Mason is now 15 months old! He's as cute as a button and keeps us chuckling all day long. He is also saying lots of new words. In fact, if you work with him, he'll say just about anything just to get a laugh, which the big kids think makes him a great parlor trick... …

I’m terribly backed up…

I'm writing this at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday night. I just got started on wrapping up this week's issue. Since I'm running so far behind this week, I didn't think you'd mind if I let the Maxism entertain you this week... …

The Best Gift Ever…

We had another birthday in the family last week. Zach, our oldest, turned 21. He opened his presents and then we all went out to dinner. His girlfriend, Alyssa, made his favorite - Oreo Cheesecake. He sure hated sharing it with the rest of us! Ha ha... …

Party! Party!!

Max's sixth birthday was last Saturday and the house was jam-packed with revelers, big and small. We started out bowling at the local alley, and then migrated to the house where Richard had stayed behind to grill. We all wolfed down burgers, dogs, cake and ice cream, the kids cracked the pinata, and Max opened his gifts. I put a bar of trick soap in the bathroom for the party. Anybody who used it found their hands getting more and more dirty as they washed. The soap has a black chunk of something yucky on the back of it. Heh... …

We’re Home…Just in Time to Fire Up the Heater!

We arrived home from our fun, month-long trek through the midwest and the northeast...just in time to fire up the heater. It's been downright chilly here in Bangor. Last night, we went out to dinner to celebrate the first day of school, and got goosebumps walking from the restaurant to the car. The wind was blowing with sprinkles so tiny they made us wonder if it was really raining or if it was our imagination. …

Heading To The Big Apple!

We spent a few days last week at the Wisconsin Dells. We rode a duck, ate a LOT of food, played mini-golf, had our portrait taken in a bathtub, and more! We've been faithfully logging our experiences (and photos!) here: http://www.wirelesstrips.com

Eatin’ Some Excellent Wisconsin Cheese, Don’tcha Know!

We're in Wisconsin this week! We've spent tons of time with Richard's relatives and childhood friends (yes, they really do talk funny), gone to the State Fair (it was so hot!), visited the Mars Cheese Castle, and been to a fish fry! We've been faithfully logging our experiences (and photos!) here: http://www.wirelesstrips.com With all the eating we've been doing, it's a wonder we haven't had to stop and buy some bigger vacation clothes... …

What State Are We In Today?

We're once again back on the road in our RV, exploring the backroads (and toll roads) of this fine country! And, after our Jet Blue nightmare last month, being back in our RV is heaven! We've been to a beach town in Massachusetts and tubing in upstate New York...and we haven't had any accidents, blow-outs, or emergency room trips! Yea!! …

We’re Roughin’ It – Heh…

We're spending this week on our property in rural Western Maine. Richard has us online via a dish and he's building a storage shed while Mason and I "rough it" inside the RV, with the air conditioner running and the refrigerator stocked full of yummy stuff... that can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave (no campfire required!). We do use the campfire at night for the s'mores. Some things just aren't the same in a microwave... …

Frank’s Boo Boo is Healing Nicely, but…

After Frank was finally triaged (He sat in the waiting room, bleeding, for about 40 minutes, until people started complaining. They even triaged a little girl who was laughing and skipping around her mother in the the E.R. before they looked at Frank!), we saw a doctor. They didn't order x-rays or anything else. The doctor looked at him, felt the wound, and said, "I'm going to glue you right up." I thought he was kidding... …

Hoys + Vacation = SECOND E.R. TRIP IN TWO WEEKS!

This morning, after Mason went down for his nap, Frank and a neighbor started banging on the front door. I got angry because the dogs started barking and they woke up the baby. I opened the front door, ready to lecture them on being too noisy (I feel so guilty about that now)...and Frank was standing there with blood all over him. He had a pretty bad head wound... …

Hoy Family Vacation = Trip to the E.R.

We're on the road, desperately trying to enjoy our summer vacation. First, Jet Blue made our lives hell by canceling one of our flights, after we'd already gone through security! Our trip was delayed a day which resulted in a $200 hotel bill. Jet Blue claimed air traffic control shut down flights going in and out of the state we were trying to visit. We found out later that another passenger was given a completely different excuse. In addition, they had to fly us into a different city. We lost our original rental car reservation and had to get a new one with a different company in the new city. That cost was an additional $500 ($1200 for 2 weeks instead of $700). So, Jet Blue, which we will never, EVER fly again, cost us $700 plus a ton of aggravation and stress. And, by the way, air traffic control did NOT shut down flights to our original destination. We checked. And, yes, Jet Blue will definitely be hearing from me when this is all over. …

Mason’s Birthday and Talking Boxes

Mason's birthday was great fun...even though he had no idea what was going on! He just kept looking at all the people in the house with big eyes. He was friendly and let a couple of people hold him. Max (age 5) opened Mason's gifts for him. That didn't bother Max one bit! I guess we at least have photos of the party for Mason to see some day...when he knows what birthdays are. ;) …

Mason’s Birthday and Talking Boxes

In just two days, Mason will be turning one year old. We can't believe a whole year has gone by! The days when he was in intensive care seem so very long ago, thank heavens. I wanted to give you an update on how he's doing. …

My Sunflowers! Whaaaa!!!

About two months ago, when there was still snow on the ground, I lovingly set out my pots and my dirt and my seeds. Max helped me gently lay each tiny seed in each pot, and gently cover it with soil. We bought a special spray bottle so we could mist them gently, each day, giving them their nurishment. Once the seedlings emerged from the soil, reaching for the grow light Matt and Frank installed for me in the mudroom, Max and I fed them organic fertilizer. And, they grew. Oh how they grew! Each day, they were taller and more proud. Some reached for the grow light while others reached for the winter sunlight streaming through the window. …

Dog Germs and Lessons Learned

I was working in the living room one day last week when I heard a "pop" and a howl from Mason. I instinctively KNEW what had happened! I flew into Ali's room and found Mason on the floor, a puddle of drool on the floor in front of him, and Ali's plugged-in cell phone charger cord lying about six feet away from him. Ali was supposed to be babysitting, but she left him alone in her room. And, I've told her a thousand times to never, ever, EVER leave the end of a live cord on the floor... …

Outwitting Deer? I hope so!

We spent the Memorial Day weekend at the "homestead" in western Maine. Richard and Frank started building a storage shed, Frank made a garden for me and I spent a lot of time inside the RV with Mason. The black flies were out in force and Mason doesn't yet know how to swat them out of his face. He did sustain one bite. One of the little buggers got to him in the RV. Max occupied himself by building little dams in the stream and then knocking them down. We heard wild turkeys calling to each other all weekend. Frank also found some firefly larvae. They had little glowing dots on their butts! Frank and Max were, needless to say, thrilled. …

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some R.E.M.?

Mason (11 months) has a bad cold and he's been very congested for two days. Needless to say, I'm swimming in a stupefied haze due to lack of R.E.M. sleep. I know lots of parents complain about lack of sleep but, truthfully, missing sleep hasn't ever bothered me in my mommy career. I enjoy cuddling a baby late at night (or early in the morning) when they don't feel good and need mommy's lovies. And, Mason just learned how to give sloppy kisses. You can imagine the horror on the other children's faces when Mason, with his runny baby nose, tries to give them a sloppy baby kiss. Heh... …

Flippies, White Noise and Update on Richard

If you're looking for a unique gift for grandparents, check out "Flippies." Flippies are custom flip books. This is one of those "wish I'd thought of that!" products. Very cool. Mason (almost 11 months old now!) is a very good napper...provided there's a steady stream of noise in the background, such as television, soft voices, etc. The problem is, we have other children whose voices are anything but soft. Richard recently downloaded "white noise" to his computer and we played that during Mason's nap yesterday. He slept for three hours! …

Update on Richard’s Vasculitis

I'm writing this on Monday night. Richard's vasculitis is coming and going and it got worse over the weekend and included something new - red lines under his skin (no, not the blood poisoning type). And, his other ankle swelled up. As of this morning, we've been waiting a week for a referral to a rheumatologist. I called the doctor's office right when they opened this morning and expressed my frustration (you know how I can be!). They immediately called Richard back and told him they can't find a rheumatologist who can see him before July! …

Update on Richard’s Rash (RR)

The results of Richard's biopsy are in. He has Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis, or LCV. We already pretty much knew he had vasculitis, but needed the diagnosis before they can proceed with more tests to see what's causing it. Basically, there is a 50% chance it's caused by an autoimmune disorder or medication or something he's eating, and there's a 50% chance they'll never know what's causing it. It could be caused by Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Hepatitis C, or it could be due to his thyroid medication (the doctor doesn't think so), or....maybe my cooking? Okay, humor does help in times like these. Honestly, we're praying it's nothing serious and that we'll never know what causes it. Because, if they do find out what's causing it, that something might be serious. If it's just a transient thing, chances are it's an anomaly and very minor. …

My Super Cool New Notepad

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Gene Papin (http://www.papincraft.biz), who creates neat stuff out of wood. I was especially impressed by his beautiful wooden pens. Well, last week, a nifty package arrived in the mail and I was thrilled to open it and find a notepad that Gene had made with one of his saws. He "engraved" it with my initials and a smiley face with his saw, going all the way through every piece of paper - the entire pad... …

Escape!

Lucky Ali (age 16) is in Florida for a 10-day Spring Break trip. She went with a friend and the friend's family. They have visited Epcot, Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and a few other places. Ali will probably sleep for a week when she returns. She's having a fabulous time and, while she says she misses her mommy, I know she's lying. …

My Paranoia – Children Who Are Choking

Gene Papin (http://www.papincraft.biz), a writer and woodworker, sent me an email last week in response to my missive on choking parts in squeaky toys. He said, "One of the things I do is make toys, along with scroll work. With regard to small children, if the toy fits inside the pasteboard roll (inside lining) of a paper towel roll, it will go down a small child's throat and choke him." …

Squeaky Choking Hazards and My Future Mud Room Jungle

Two of you wrote in last week advising me of the dangers of giving Mason chew toys with squeakers in them because they're a choking hazard. Chay Duggan told me to remove the squeakers with a screwdriver. Good idea. Wanted to pass that along in case any of you decided to start shopping for your teething baby in the doggy toy department, too. …

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