Category Archives: Rachel

P365 – Day 109 (It’s Showtime!)

It’s that time of year again … the end of co-op and the final production from the drama class. All year long they have practiced, rehearsed, laughed, and worked to produce their play. The drama teacher does an amazing job with the students, actually pulling out of them a truly professional performance. She has discovered this wonderful publishing company, Pioneer Drama Service, that has an extensive collection of scripts – plays, musicals, one-act pieces, and so on. The last two years’ plays have been absolutely hysterical! I can’t wait to see what they have for us this year. I purposely resist reading the script so I can enjoy the final performance.

rachel's ready

Rachel is gathering props for play practice. Nice hat, girl!

The three older children are all in the drama class, and therefore, the play this year. The chosen title is a melodrama, How the West was Dun…or left High and Dry in low Humidity Chasm.

Rachel stars as the Schizophrenic Kid (changing back and forth from white to black hat). Joshua is Rich Coldheart, bank owner and all around evil guy. Daniel is the Lone Stranger. I can’t wait to see them knock our socks off.

cow girl

The kids have had double practices this week and last. I’ve been very grateful for Holly and her husband, who have shared the driving with me. We’ve taken turns with pick ups and drop offs. Thanks guys!

The arrival of the play signals the end of co-op for the year. The kids will be sad but all the mothers/teachers are breathing a sigh of relief. It’s difficult to maintain your own homeschool AND teach classes at a co-op.

Stay tuned to hear all about the play this weekend!


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P365 – Day 92 (Rachel’s Dr Visit)

For the past two weeks Rachel has had the occasional outbreak in hives. I would post pictures but Rachel refused to have her ‘beauty marks’ captured on film. The hives usually appeared some time mid morning. We tried food elimination (even though her breakfast was the normal fare) but that didn’t seem to help. It was a bit of a mystery. The first day she took an oatmeal bath. That helped some but not for long. Benadryl stepped in and took over where the oatmeal bath failed.


Rachel in April 2003. Wish I could remember why she was fighting back tears. It was a glorious day down at the river. No hives.

For the next few days, she continued to need Benadryl. We switched from cereal to toast to plain oatmeal (eliminating milk and then wheat). Nothing made a difference. It didn’t appear to be food related. Curious.

One summer I developed a sudden allergy to raspberries. It came out of no where but, in that case, the connection was very obvious. Eating raspberries = terrible stomach cramping and pain. Avoiding raspberries = no troubles. It did take me at least three or four times to really believe I was reacting specifically to raspberries. I LOVE berries. I’ve eaten blackberries and raspberries my whole life. I couldn’t comprehend the idea of an allergic reaction coming out of no where. The second time I got sick Tim suggested maybe I should stop eating raspberries.

“It’s not like you’re allergic to something serious, like chocolate,” he said, trying to be helpful.

“Honey,” I said in a patronizing tone, “I doubt I’m really allergic to raspberries. It was probably just those raspberries from Costco. You know, fertilizers and pesticides and all that.”


Rachel in April 2004 during our visit to Michigan. No hives.

The third time occurred during a family dinner. The dessert was a delicious ice cream parfait layered with, of course, fresh raspberries. It wasn’t until I had finished my entire dessert (and perhaps the remains of a child’s bowl) that I realized I had just eaten raspberries. “What were you thinking,” were Tim’s words (if I remember correctly). “Oh, it probably won’t affect me at all,” I said glibly.

I moaned and groaned and writhed in the pain the entire hour and a half ride home. Hmmm. “Perhaps I’m allergic to raspberries,” I gasped out to Tim. He nodded sympathetically. It was dark so thankfully I couldn’t see him rolling his eyes.

The fourth time was the worst. I must be slow or something because I didn’t make the connection between raspberries and blackberries. Sure, I might have a mild (ha) sensitivity to raspberries, but blackberries don’t affect me at all, right? One of my favorite summer memories is visiting VA relatives and raiding their freezer. I would fill a huge bowl of frozen blackberries, picked from the field nearby, pour milk on top of it, add a little sweetener and enjoy an amazing icy, frozen treat.


Rachel and Sarah in April 2005. No hives on Rachel OR Sarah.

Those glorious summer memories in mind, I didn’t pause for a second, in making a smoothie, before filling up the blender full of frozen blackberries. Yum! I ate the whole thing. Delicious. Fast forward an hour later and I’m on the floor in agony. I actually told Tim (I’m embarrassed to repeat this) to stop walking so heavily on the floor. I’m sure I must have sounded like a person with a hangover, fussing at people for whispering so loudly. Again, he was kind and patient, and it was dark so I couldn’t see his (no doubt) thoroughly exasperated expression.

At that point I learned to ask, “Are there any raspberries in that?” Rolling on the floor in anguish was not one I something I wished to repeat. Not over a bowl of frozen berries, anyway. Child birth, on the other hand, is a different story (but we don’t need to go there at this time).

Back to Rachel (this blog is about her, right). We couldn’t think of any laundry soap or bath product that had changed during this time period. It didn’t appear to be food or chemically related.

2006 cousins

Hannah, Rachel, Rebecca and Sarah April 2006. Strange markings but no hives.

Today the kids played baseball outside. It was a gorgeous, sunny day but the air was cool and it was quite windy. Rachel came inside covered with hives. She had them all up and down her neck, up her cheeks, on her stomach, legs and arms. WHAT??? Can you be allergic to the outside? To cold weather? She forgot her sweatshirt and had been out for almost an hour in a t-shirt but she wasn’t rolling around in the grass. They were mainly throwing and catching the ball.

I dragged her over to show a friend (Mother Show and Tell) who said I should gp ahead and get her to the doctor for testing. I called and made an appointment with the pediatrician. He couldn’t see us for two hours. By the time we drove home (stopping at the store on the way) the hives were totally all gone.


Rachel April 2006. Still no hives. I’m sensing a pattern here. NO HIVES!! Rachel would like to keep it that way.

Oh great, our own Family Mystery.

The pediatrician was wonderful. He asked lots of questions, looked Rachel over thoroughly, and sent us home with free samples of Claritin. He told us hives are occasionally a result of the immune system’s over-reaction to a recent infection, such as a cold or flu That’s a new one to me. I’ve never heard of a connection between hives and viruses. Rachel’s hives came just after her bout with flu. Interesting.


The doctor said there wasn’t much we could do regarding the hives. The Claritin should work without causing her to be drowsy (unlike the Benadryl). He said if it continues to be a problem, or increases in severity, we can pursue further testing. The fact that the hives went away completely this afternoon without any medication was a good sign, he told Rachel, that her body was dealing with them itself.

doctor's office

The children were as good as gold (what does that phrase mean since gold is valuable but hardly intrinisically “good”??) at the doctor’s office. Joshua and Daniel read their books. Sarah colored and David lay on the bench complaining of a headache. He actually looked sicker than Rachel, now that her hives were all gone. Thanks, David, for helping out in that way. :)

We’ll see how things progress over the next few weeks. Please pray for Rachel. The hives are distressing (not to mention uncomfortable) and she worries.


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A Workout Partner

Last night my faithful walking buddy, Julee, called to see if I wanted to go to the Y to work out. Julee lives nearby so on sunny days (hard to find in a WA winter) we try to sneak in a good 2 or 3 mile walk. In the spring and summer, especially as it is lighter later in the day, we can often find time to walk. Julee and her family have a membership to the Y so it’s only natural (if exercise is in the air) that we get together for an occasional workout. The Y isn’t too far from home so it’s fairly easy to hop in the car and run over to the Y for a quick (or not so quick, depending on energy levels) workout on the elliptical machine.

elliptical machine

This is my favorite elliptical at the Y. It’s by Precor and runs around $3899 so you can see why I go to the Y to use it. Ha!

Just recently something has changed in all of this Y exercising. Rachel has started joining me. She went with me last week and read her book on the bike before heading off to play Wallyball with the rest of the family. Last night, Julee, Rachel and I all went to the Y. Rachel read her book on the recumbent bike in the front row of the room while Julee and I exercised on the elliptical machine just behind her. For 45 minutes!!! Way to go, Rachel!!

elliptical machine

I like the way you have the option of using your arms as well (total body workout and all of that) plus this machine has the reading rack at just the right spot – just perfect for flipping through a magazine in between strides.

I didn’t bring my camera with me so I don’t have any pictures. Not that sweaty, workout pictures would be that visually appealing :)

This afternoon I had dinner all planned out (Thai chicken in the crock-pot, rice on the stove, and stir-fry veggies in the frying pan), my homeschool co-op classes all coordinated, and the children busy working on school and chores. I asked Rachel if she was ready to hit the Y again for another work out and she said yes. How amazing! I have an exercise partner right here in the house. I’m so excited. It has been so special watching Rachel grow up and one of the delights is carving out mother/daughter time. I love doing things with Rachel. She’s an excellent companion when we go shopping. She is almost always ready to go and run errands or visit the library (an almost daily activity lately). I just never thought she would also be an exercise buddy. How fun!

Tonight we did 30 minutes on our favorite machines. I got off to get some water and lost my momentum when my workout routine timed out. Drinking fountain was too far away, I guess. I tried to do some time on the bike next to Rachel but it was too hard to get a good pace (either way too easy or too hard). I didn’t feel like I had gotten in an intense enough work out (after all, tomorrow is weigh in day and, short of fasting, I want to know I tried my best on the day before) so I asked Rachel if we could cool down on the treadmill. She agreed (reluctantly, after all we’d already gotten in a decent workout).

We went downstairs, found side by side treadmills and started walking. We both went at a SLOW pace (tired at this point) until I suggested we jog/run a little bit. We decided to jog for 30 seconds. After a minute passed, Rachel said we should jog again. We ended up jogging for 30 seconds, walking for 30 seconds, for a good 8 or 10 minutes. It was awesome. I was jogging alongside my little girl. What a surreal experience for this VERY non-athletic person. We got in a decent 15 minutes on the treadmill and then took our sweaty bodies on home.

Thanks, Rachel, for being my exercise pal!!!

rachel and kathy

A non-exercising, couch potato, homeschool reading, mother and daughter moment.


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P365 – Day 73 (Sarah & the dolls)

I came home this afternoon to find Sarah happily playing on the dining room floor. She had doll clothes spread everywhere and at least three dolls positioned in a circle near her.

sarah's dolls

My immediate reaction was to feel so proud of Rachel. Strange, I know, since it was Sarah on the floor playing. I do confuse the children (especially when I’m calling them – “David, Daniel, Schmedlap, whatsyername, get in here!”) but this wasn’t an example of motherly befuddlement. Rachel and Sarah stayed home sick with Tim while the other kids were out and about. I knew that if Sarah had all these dolls around, with Rachel nearby reading her book, it meant that Rachel had given her gracious permission. All but one of the dolls belonged to Rachel.

It is true that Rachel is a bit old to be playing with dolls and dress-up clothes but, sadly enough, she’s not too old to deal with selfishness and the desire to enforce her ‘rights’ of property ownership. I don’t think I’ve met a person who’s “grown out” of that little (or, perhaps not so insignificant) character flaw.


Rachel is a wonderful big sister to both David and Sarah. She reads to them, helps meet their needs during meals, and is cheerful and silly in play. Still, it is difficult to have a little sister who wants to play with ALL of your toys, almost ALL of the time.

So, if Rachel was reading in Big Blue and Sarah was nearby playing with Rachel’s dolls and her doll clothes, this was a beautiful moment of sisterly love. I was so proud to recognize some real maturity on Rachel’s part, to see her entrust her sister with some of her treasures.

Taking a little license with Proverbs 22:8:

A generous man [SISTER] will himself [HERSELF] be blessed, for he [SHE] shares his food [HER DOLLS] with the poor [LITTLE SISTER].

I’m proud of you, Rachel, for being kind and generous with Sarah today!


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P365 – Day 58 (Rachel’s New Look)

I asked Rachel and Joshua if they had any opinions on the blog – if there was anything I should add or change, what they liked reading and so on. Joshua, in his typical easy-going manner, didn’t have much to say. “Can’t think of anything,” he shrugged. Of course, he’s busy working on his own FIVE PAGE (so far) blog on the middle school retreat (you are now forewarned – it will be coming!). He’s distracted and trying to find his own blogging ‘voice,’ he doesn’t have time to help me with my soul searching or blog searching or whatever it was I was looking for. This morning, when I told him I posted three blogs last night he said, “Goody!” and scooted right over to the computer chair, so he must find something interesting to read in the blogs.

see no evil

See No Evil!

Rachel, in her typical manner (talkative, outspoken and yet contemplative), had LOTS of thoughts on the subject. She gave me all sorts of hints and ideas and helpful tips. I was surprised that she said she would like to see more blogs about our daily activities. Hmmm. I can see where there are some who might like to read a detailed accounting of our day (grandparents for example, the rest of the group would surely fall asleep) but I was a bit thrown off that it was what SHE wanted to read. “Um, Rach, you were there, why would you want to read a blog that talked about all the things we did all day?”

hear no evil

Hear No Evil!

I’m still mulling that over. Perhaps that is the power of journaling; reading over a description of the day captures the memories and holds them in place. Even the small pieces of the day are special. Maybe she likes the feeling of being a celebrity with your every move plastered all over the newsstands.

Obscure Movie Quote:

Hank: It’s gettin’ so as I can hardly go out in public any more. I mean, really, between the autograph hounds and the paparazzi…

Kate: Autographs and everything? I mean, just the one commercial, and you have paparazzi?

Hank: Yeah. I’ve never actually seen them, but, you know, they hide in the bush and… they get their shot.

So, in an attempt to please the masses (or at least one of my children), today I will blog about our day.

speak no evil

Speak No Evil!
David and Sarah illustrate some guidelines for the Duckabush Blog.

Joshua, my faithful early bird, was the first one up today. I think he likes having the house to himself for just a little bit. Who can blame him – in a family this size you have to seize your solitude where you can. Mine is late at night, his is early morning. We’ve practically got the day covered.

It also makes Joshua rub his hands together in satisfaction, chortling with glee knowing he gets a head start on school every day. He finishes his math before the rest of us are even up, much less calculating equations.

I’ve been staying up late blogging these days (what with the trauma of ‘advisor’ or ‘adviser’ it’s a wonder I can sleep at all) so there are often several children awake before me. Unlike those rascals, I am usually showered and dressed. They are disheveled and sleepy looking.

joshua reads blog

Joshua, in his cozy IKEA comforter, reads the blog.

While the children lounge around with an assortment of blankets and pillows that accompanied them downstairs, I turn on my computer and get started on breakfast. Then begins my morning refrain, “Get dressed! Get started on your math! Eat breakfast” With five children, four of whom are NOT chipper morning people, I say those three things often. Depending on their hunger, I either get blurry looks or demands for cereal and milk. Joshua and Rachel start their own, new little morning ritual – begging for the “first” shower of the day. We won’t go into details about what time Tim got up and took his. He assures me he is fully awake by the time he pulls into the office parking lot. I try not to think about his commute time. Can catatonic people drive safely? If they have a diet Coke in hand does that increase or decrease their driving abilities?

This morning we had several errands that needed tending, one of great urgency. There were OVERDUE library videos in the book bag!!! Horrors! We have discovered (and exploit whenever necessary) a fascinating little loop hole in the library return system. If you return your books or movies in the drop off spot BEFORE (this is key) the library opens they BACK-DATE your item to the last time the library was open. This has saved me more times than I would like to admit. Today I had three dvd’s to return (all due on Saturday). Since our library is closed from Sun until Tuesday, I could effectively return the movies before it opened in the morning and owe nothing! That’s right, nothing. Insert relieved, smug dance here.

I gathered the kids and set off for the library. We dropped the books and dvd’s off and then went on our other exciting errand: picking up Rachel’s New Glasses!

excited kids

These children don’t get out much. You can feel the anticipation in the air.

Rachel’s new glasses are beautiful! They fit her perfectly and look great. She does NOT need them for reading, only distance.

ready to go?fitting 1let's get them on

The woman handling Rachel’s fitting was a bit disconcerted about all the pictures I was taking.

“Is this for her scrapbook?” she asked.
“Just trying to appease the paparazzi,” I replied, “who knows how much I can make off of these shots.”

The three younger kids stood by in wonder and eager attention. Who needs paparazzi when you have younger siblings watching your every move.

three kiddos

When Rachel was all finished, David declared (in a firm voice), “I am NEVER getting glasses. Oh no.” I looked at him pityingly and started recounting all the people in our family (on both sides) who wear glasses. Even the receptionist was a bit amazed at the length of the list. I’m sure she was wondering if there was anyone in the family who doesn’t wear glasses. Um, Matthias the guinea pig has 20/20 vision, as far as we know.

I grabbed a pair of small frames and told David to try them on. See what you think, I said. Getting in the optical spirit of things, he was game to see how they fit.
david smiles

The red spot on the bottom of the glasses is a sticker not, as some have suggested, a wound inflicted by a sibling during the short time we were in the doctor’s office.

david's glasses

“I think maybe I want glasses,” was David’s immediate response. Ah, the fickleness of children. He does look pretty darn cute, I must admit.

From the doctor’s office we made our way back to the library. Ahem, we needed to actually go into the library – not just skulk around dropping off overdue books (did I just use the word ‘skulk’ in a blog??). Unfortunately we had twenty minutes to kill before the library opened. Rachel spent most of the drive reading signs and commenting on how clear everything was. Serious mommy guilt moment – how long has this child needed glasses??

We decided to head to the grocery store – get that free cookie for the day – and stock up on fruit (which my children eat at an alarming rate, any fruit trees around here?). By the time we had used up (eaten up?) the twenty minutes, we realized Rachel had left her jacket at the eye doctor. Back into the car. Back to the optician’s and back to the library.

Rachel, I am racking my brain as to why you think all of this would be interesting to anyone. Are you having fun reading the blog? Is this what you meant? I love you! I think your “new look” is very chic.

At the library we loaded up on books. Ah, the happy sound of that little librarian stamp as our books and videos (“I promise, Tim, we will NOT return these ones late.”) are processed.

Obscure movie clip (I don’t think there are any lines in this scene): The librarian stamps the books and each time he does so, the place rings with a LOUD, ringing clang. I love the look the librarian gives his little stamp. Priceless. There’s power in books!

From the library we go home (can it be possible this short outing took so long?) for lunch and the rest of our school day. Now I know why I don’t blog about our day’s events. It isn’t that it’s particularly boring, it’s just plain LONG! I start out tired from living through the day and am exhausted by the time I finish the blog. And, as Tim would graciously point out, my blogs are long enough as they are.

Last obscure movie quote (with link to sound):Let me sum up.

Read books
Supervised chores
Checked math
Made lunch
Mediated discussions/fights btw children
Did more school reading
Civil War movie
Talked on the phone
Prayer time with Tim
Bible chapter

And so on. All in a day’s work.


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