Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Day With Ashton

Everyone likes a big ol' stinky pig. Really? We do? Stinky, dirty and peeing right in front of me? I guess so, since I tend to take my kids to this farm quite often. Then there is the barn. Its scent surpasses all, with pungent horse doo and more pigs, dark and dank...eew. Here we have a sheep posing...literally behind US!
Here is the chicken coop. I didn't notice any "smells" but then again a heavy wind began and blew...Whew!
After farm animal time, we headed over to the playground. I had to capture Ashton at his finest...a bit grumpy. I am attempting to take his picture on the slide. He keeps from my lens until he can no longer remain suspended on one of the loops.
Down he comes with full personality intact. He is screaming at the top of his lungs in angst. Got the picture though didn't I?!

love, Love, LOVE our new Dentist

I think we finally found a dentist we love. Ashton and I were the first to try out Dr. Kimberly Olsen (located in Haymarket on rt 55, across from Tyler Elementary) this week. If you need a dentist, I think you will like her too. 703-753-2252

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Kill Household Germs While You Iron

I discovered something today totally by chance. I began to iron my shirt for the day. I decided that I would use starch instead of my normal water spray bottle. I picked up the starch and gave my shirt a spray. I was impressed with the clean fresh scent! Wow! I had forgotten how lovely starch could smell. It was then I realized that it was not starch I was using but rather Lysol Disinfectant Spray. My shirt's collar is now 100% bacteria free! Gotta love that...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Can Happen to New Shoes

This is a new pair of shoes. Brand new. They were a bit expensive because the feet that wear these shoes are DOUBLE WIDE. I have to say, that the child who wears this shoe, has a square foot...just like his daddy's.
How did this happen?! I will tell you. Please take heed if you have a child who enjoys days filled with Razor scooter time. Make sure you explain that his shoe is not a braking device.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Go With the Simple

I have dreams you know.

I want to do things like, take the family to a secluded beach and just "be."

To have no worries about money and the how much it will cost to take 7 people to eat breakfast at IHOP.

I want to live on a few private acres and sit on the porch (with fans overhead) and watch the kids wrestle with their dad in the grass.

I wish we could just take off and go backpacking for a few days, bring along the dog, sleep in the tent (or even under the stars), eat tin foil dinners and sit by the fire late into the night.

I want to take the older kids to see New York a broadway show, ride in a taxi, see the statue of liberty.

I want to show Garth Denmark, the country I love, that I long to see again. I want to ride on a bike again there, through the countryside, stop at a cafe and explore.

I wish I lived closer to my siblings. Cousins playing with cousins. Laughing, bonding and remembering.

I wish there was more time in the day, more days in the week. Fewer Saturdays filled with mowing, edging, cleaning, fixing, errands. More Saturdays filled with togetherness, memory making and less stress.

I want cars to stop breaking down, the house to stop giving us headaches and other unwanted surprises to keep their distance.

Today I wanted these things along with many other ideas in my head that I considered "Dreamy."

But I decided to Go With the Simple. I went for a walk with Ashton. My little baby boy (although he doesn't like me to call him that) let me push him in a stroller meant for days long past. With his feet bare, we talked about the large bird on the "tippy pointy part of a house's roof" squaking away, the crunchy worms from earlier rains, his desire for popcorn, and love of Starburst candy.

It was all so simple. And it was dreamy. And I was happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good-bye Cast

Tomorrow morning I will bid adieu to my dear cast. We have been quite close over the past 3 weeks, going everywhere together, doing everthing as one. However, I will not miss you. Well, I take that back. I will miss the handicap parking pass that you provided. But I will not miss how heavy you were to lug around, the itches I couldn't scratch, my dirty toes I couldn't get clean, hairy leg (I am haven't seen that yet...but I can only imagine), or the fun workout I missed (weight lifting can get quite boring).

But I have learned some wonderful things from you, dear cast. I know there are good people in this world. I have seen them often in the past 3 weeks... Old ladies who will open doors for you. A neighbor who rushes outside when he sees you pull into the driveway to help carry in our groceries. My husband who shopped til he dropped at Costco for you, stocking our empty cupboards. Strangers who let you pass them in the long DMV line (so I could get my coveted handicap decal). Friends who brought dinner. Friends who carried my stuff. Friends who drove you around until I figured out how to drive with my left foot. Sommer who pushed my wheelchair in the mall. People who smiled politely at you while driving around in the motorized wheelchairs...and quickly got out of your way. Sweet service.

You not only provided me a healed foot (fingers crossed) but eyes to see countless acts of service. And I felt loved. So thank you cast, although a bit irritating at times, a blessing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How To Teach Costco Empathy (Chapter 2)

This is how you teach your husband how much fun a trip to Costco can be (I am being sarcastic). Remember my "Costco Workout?" I can't stand the loading up of the cart so high that things start toppling off. I hate that I have to then unload everything so the cashier can ring everything up. Then its off to my car to reload all the unbelievable heavy things so they fit (difficult, Tetris like process) to then lug everything into the house, put it all away and throw all of the excess packaging away.

So since I am on crutches still (off this FRIDAY) and casted (OFF THIS FRIDAY), there is no way I could get in a "Costco Workout."

This is where Garth comes in (and you begin the process of teaching Costco Empathy). Let me be sure to say that Garth doesn't mind going to Costco. But he has never gone for an official, "we are out of everything and must buy many many items (of the heavy variety)" trip.

Step 1. Ask them to go to Costco for you. If you don't have a cast, fake a sprain or lower back problem.

Step 2. Give them a HUGE list of things to buy. Give them the coupons too. Just think, next time you have to go, you won't have to man handle items such as: cases of water, laundry soap or dog food.

Step 3. Don't be at home when they get home with the huge load. If you want the full empathy effect don't be there. You might be tempted because you are feeling energized and "fresh." But this will lesson the whole Costco experience for them. They will have just loaded, unloaded, loaded and unloaded everything and will then totally UNDERSTAND you and what you do for the family.

Step 4. Listen to them when they share their own personal Costco horror (just like you have wanted them to do the past 10 years). Tell them you UNDERSTAND and wish you could have been there to help support them.

Step 5. Enjoy your full cupboards. You did it!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Smelling like Grandma

I know my mother and Garth's mother smell great...

Garth was sitting with his little church 4-5 year old primay class today. One of the darling boys leaned over to Garth and whispered, "You smell just like my grandma." Garth said to me that he was glad he had never received that compliment before and never want to again.

My Condition

Dear Family (and my close friends through the years),

I know many of you have had to live with me and my little condition throughout the years. My Grandmother had the same problem too. I think some of my siblings have it but haven't admitted to it. But I have finally found after years of searching that I actually have a condition/ syndrome that many thousands of others struggle with every day as well! Whew!

Here is what I have: Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome

What is Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome or "4S"?

An intense and immediate emotional and physiological reaction (possibly rage, frustration, sadness, or panic) upon hearing certain sounds - most prominently noises associated with oral functions such as eating, breathing, chewing or other noises such as typing sounds or pencils scratching-are the defining symptoms of a little known and poorly understood condition called "Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome" or "4S".

Onset is typically around the time of puberty and appears to persist and in some cases, trigger noises expand, as time passes. Reactions can dominate lifestyle and occupational choices, lead to social isolation or psychological difficulties.

There appears to be evidence of a genetic component as the condition appears in family members. A certain percentage of people with 4S have also demonstrated signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and has been also associated with other pervasive conditions such as the Autism Spectrum. However, the vast majority of people with 4S do not appear to have other pervasive or obviously identifiable disorder.

This syndrome was first recognized by audiologist Dr. Marsha Johnson in 2002. Since that time, there has been no known research conducted by the scientific community, and to date there is no known cure. Medical and psychological therapies have included the use of medicine to address the secondary symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other symptoms, counseling to address the social and personal difficulties associated with the symptoms, alternative therapies including acupuncture, hypnosis, or natural remedies. To date, a single effective therapy has not been discovered.


1) Onset is generally early adolescence, ages 7-10.
2) Current empirical evidence suggests that the disorder is genetic, i.e., there is a genetic predisposition
3) It is likely that the disorder is a physiological dysfunction of (presently unknown) brain activity. Much like OCD (obsessive-compulsion disorder), it might be a information processing dysfunction.
4) The predisposition may or may not be triggered by an early traumatic event
5) Both males and females are afflicted
6) A key characteristic of 4s is a rage, anxiety, frustration reaction to eating/chewing sounds.
7) Strangers can trigger the reactions, although often there significant others-- parents, siblings, or spouses- are the key triggers.

Auditory triggers include: Gum chewing, Rushing, running, or trickling water. sniffling, Heat vents and air conditioners. Amplified whispers. Flip flops or click clacking shoes. Dogs barking. Paper shuffling

Visual triggers include: Leg kicking. Finger pointing. Hands near face, Hands in general, gesturing or fluttering about, and long fingernails. Someone pointing at things

To learn more click here.

It is a very frustrating thing to live with especially when all of these noises are normal functions of living (like Garth says, "My very exsistance bothers you") however, it is a reality that I face. I noticed it for the most part in my early teens. My family would joke about it and I tried everything to make it better. They loved to bring me my dad's ear protectors (those big noise reducing things used for hunting) for me to wear at dinner. Although those did work, I looked a bit funny. Nothing, besides removing myself from the sound, made things tolerable.

I always feel bad about it though. I don't want to eat alone or have to check who is eating popcorn when I walk into the movies but most importantly I don't like making those I love around me feel my frustration with something they are doing that is perfectly normal.

Sounding off...

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Bronze

Today they held the closing Olympic Ceremonies at Ashton's preschool. We were asked to arrive 15 minutes early to view the medal ceremony. It began as the teachers called up three children at a time to receive either a gold, silver or bronze medal for their specific event. I bent over and whispered to my friend, "Finally! They all don't win GOLDS or are all #1's (you all know I like competitions)." I was thrilled that all the kids were winners and were receiving a medal, it was the fact that they competed and not everyone would win gold. Life is like that. We of course are all winners, but we have to work hard at winning "the prize," it isn't just a given. (I was however ready to storm "outta there" if my kid didn't get the gold...ha ha).

I was anxiously awaiting Ashton's event and placement. Mrs. Peacock then said, "For the 100 Meter Dash...Gold-some girl! Silver-some girl! And getting the Bronze-Ashton." My heart sunk (kidding). I nudged my neighbor warning her I might make a scene (kidding). But I did have to prepare to accept how Ashton would handle it...darn it.

He stood on the podium and looked down and turned his body sideways. After the parent photo-op, he quickly came to me and with tears in his eyes and a bit of disgust he said, "Mommy, I don't want this one. I want the gold!"

For a moment I wanted to take back my previous delight of "not everyone is the gold medal winner" but I didn't. I bent down (kind of, I still have those crutches) and looked into my little olympian's eyes and said, "I would want the gold too buddy. But you ran hard and did the best you could. Now let's go home and spray paint that baby GOLD!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I have been putting off the dentist.

We don't have a dentist we like. We tried a new dentist the past few years that had started a new practice by Garth's law office. I thought it was very "supportive" of us to give him our large family. I didn't like him at all. I think he was dishonest. And after having a super cousin dentist in Arizona to give us second opinions, we were right about him. So I put off finding a new one.

This summer, Sommer's orthodontist (whom we absolutely love...and trust) referred his favorite local dentist. But now the dreaded call...

Understand that making 7 seperate appointments can be a very difficult process. Kids in school, like everyone else, means after-school appts were taken years ago. I don't enjoy taking my kids out of school for appts. Why? Because of this scenerio: parking my car, lugging my 4 year old into the school, waiting for the office to call down my child with the appt, sign him out, hike back to the car to then GO to the actual dental exam. I am already exhausted.

After scheduling 7, yes 7 (this after making 5, changing 3 of those, adding another, going back to two orginal get the picture), seperate one hour cleanings, I began to worry again. Ashton, our four year old (and sensitive to new situations), was scheduled in just a few weeks. I began to invision a screaming child with fears of cruel torture. How was I going to break the news to him lightly?! So I began with, "Ashton, do you want a awesome new toothbrush? Well, I just made an appt for you to get your teeth all clean and shiny at the dentist! Calvin and Ethan are going to go too!" He immediatly jumped up and said, "Sure! Let's go! I want a new toothbrush." Then I said, "No honey. We don't have to go for a few weeks."

Crying and screaming quickly began...kind of like he was being tortured by a dentist.

This is all why I have been putting off the dentist.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I am a Piano Teacher

I have always wanted to teach piano lessons. Ever since I took 8 years of piano, most of the time taken along to Hilary's phenomenal teachers where I was forced to cut my nails short and memorize and then perform in front of judges then the pressures to practice (bless your heart dear mother), believe it or not, I have wanted to teach.

My problem was two fold. First, I felt one had to be either a concert pianist or Hilary Weeks to be a teacher. I learned this summer from Hilary that wasn't the case. She encouraged me, along with my friend (and piano extrodanaire), Anell, that I could indeed teach piano and fulfill this desire.

My second issue holding me back was the wonderful problem of having so many little kids for so long. But that obstacle is no more with my children at super easy stages of their lives.

So for the past few years, my friends have noticed my beautiful piano in my window and have asked me numerous times if I taught lessons. I have always had to decline but deep down have wanted to say, "YES!"

This summer I got a call from a friend asking me a huge favor. Her 12 year old son had gotten a keyboard for his birthday and she wanted me to teach him. I said, "Ahh. I would love to but I just can't. Let me ask a couple of my friends in the area to see if they have openings." I called her back later that day to let her know about a possible teacher. She said, "No. I would love you to do it."

So this is when I called Hilary to get advice. She said of course you can. I then called Anell, she said of course you can. I ended up saying yes!

Now fast forward two months. The word has spread on the streets and I already have 10 students (I can't say no and orginally wanted to keep it at 5)! I am loving it. We are having so much fun. I don't care if they cut their nails. I don't expect them to be concert pianists. I simply want them to love music. And touching my heart strings this week was 7 year old Lauren who was thrilled when I told her she could sing along as she played. I sang first while I played her song. Afterwards she replied, "Wow, Ms. Heather, you sounded beautiful!" She then said, "Can I try?!" I played the song, she sang. She then asked me repeatedly if she could do it again...and again...and again, her sweet voice singing the simple three note melody.

I am a piano teacher!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Nerves...

When it comes to things that stress me out, house problems make it to the top of my list. This lovely pouring rain has delighted us with the knowledge of four leaks. The first presented itself in Ashton and Tate's ceiling, the second in Garth's closet, third the window in the kitchen (a most lovely bubble of water behind paint) and coming in fourth and the most blood raising, our super high entry way ceiling. I found that when I saw a puddle of water by the front door. I then slowly looked skyward and saw a lovely line of water damage thick with moisture, dripping, dropping...and cries immediatly coming forth to my hero water catcher Garth (who has just climbed down from a small attic in his closet with buckets to catch drips).

Nothing can be done until the storm has passed. What a super Saturday!

It's Raining. It's Pouring

Tropical Storm Hanna is here today. She is giving us rain all day. That of course means everything is cancelled. Calvin will not have his first football game. My friends 50 miler race (which she has been dilligently training for 5 months) is no more. Rain, although pouring, really doesn't warrent cancellations. What would Alaska do all summer with all of their rain?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Another School Year Begins

Summer is over (well the heat isn't). Another school year begins. I am not cheering, celebrating or relaxing...Lying.

Sommer was so excited for her first day of 7th grade! She looked quite lovely in her "back-to-school" outfit. When I went back to school (this was in Alaska), we actually had fall clothes that were appropriate for the weather (sweaters that we didn't actually "sweat" in). But although they sell jackets, sweaters and if you can believe it, just can't wear them in 90 degree heat. I guess you can, you just might get a bit overheated. (tangent?!)

Here are the boys getting ready for their first day. Calvin is the big 5th grader, Ethan is a 3rd grader and Tate a fresh little (and might I add totally cute) Kindergartener.
He was not thrilled about wearing the Bunny necklace that is recquired by all Kindergarteners the first few weeks to adorn...
Ahhh! Bless your hearts you home schooling mothers!

Ashton Turns Four

Our baby is 4! Ashton Brown Porter turned four yesterday. He loved his M&M cake (so did all of the other kids) and enjoyed his box of Skittles that he received as a gift. He is pretty easy to please as long as he has candy, Spongebob is on the TV and a can of Fresca.
We have surely been blessed to have such a wonderful boy in our home. Besides a few tantrums now and then (when he doesn't get candy, Spongebob or Fresca) he is a joy. I will be loving our last year home together before he heads out to school next year. Happy Birthday ASH!