I Only Have Eyes For You…

The clan had their first eye exams in the new home state today.

I begin to think that being a little quirky is a requirement for being an eye doctor. My eye doctor as a child was Dr. Straight, which always struck me as very appropriate. My main memory of him was that he was short and ancient and when he would lean in close to look deep into my eyes he was a really loud breather. But he was very nice and he saved me from not being able to see the blackboard, so I remember him very fondly.

The children’s eye doctors up in Reston were relatively normal, although one of them had strabismus, which always made me want to laugh in a hysterical way.

So, today we met our new eye doctor. Barb, the front desk/tech. told me straight out, “He’s quirky, but he gives a really thorough eye exam.”

Jeesh, she was not kidding.

So, he rolled up on his motorcycle at 9:17 for our 9 a.m. appointment. The kids weren’t nervous, and all of them were busy putting together the lego ornaments that Jenny sent them for Christmas, so that wasn’t a big deal, but we were there for 2 hours just doing the exams, and we still weren’t done.

Monkey had a slight change in her eyesight. New glasses needed.

Yessa had bigger changes and she still has 10 “clicks” difference between her eyes, though he did reiterate that it was good that her eye discrepancies were caught early enough that no eye patch was necessary. He also disabused us of the hope that she could outgrow wearing glasses. Anything is possible, but he didn’t make it seem very likely.

The Buster was the big winner in the eye lottery today. He seems to have the same eye discrepancies that Yessa has, though not to the same degree. The Doc. didn’t think the initial exam was giving the full picture of the difference in his eyes so he recommended we dilate the Buster’s eyes, wait 45 minutes, then re-examine them to get the true differences fully flushed out.

Bad news: Buster had to have eye drops.

Good news: We all ate at Sonic for the first time and our food was delivered by a girl on roller blades.

Good news for everyone besides Buster: His pupils were so huge he looked like a cuddly kitten. He couldn’t fully appreciate this since he couldn’t see himself thanks to blurry vision, but it made me want to snuggle him and rub his belly.

Buster: New glasses needed.

The eye doctor was very patient and really took time to talk with the kids and learn about them. I’m still shedding my NoVA mindset of “hurry the hell up, please” so I had to mentally cool my jets and just enjoy this person getting to know my kids.

He was truly heartily laughing at their jokes and puns, which always bodes well. And I certainly know a heck of a lot more about their eyes than I ever have before. I may sit for my ophthalmology degree next week, just ’cause.

Then, another Southern moment.

I was very up-front with the staff that I’d like to know the cost of the new glasses so I could decide our next step. It’s a lot of money.

I walked the kids out to the car so they could relax while I finished up the paperwork. As I was walking back to the office, Barb came out into the parking lot to let me know that they would file the exam with our insurance, so there was nothing for me to pay at this point.

Then she said,

“If you’d like to find somewhere less expensive than us…but I didn’t say this…go to the next exit off the interstate and go to the Sam’s Club right there.”

“I thought I’d try at Costco,” I said.

“Oh, yes, they’d be much cheaper.”

“Do I just call you all to get the ‘scrip numbers?” I asked.

“Just come right back in and I’ll give them to you right now.”

Wow, I was so thankful, and frankly this makes it much more likely that we’ll return to this office again. That sort of willingness to recognize where we could meet in the middle for a great exam and value, I really appreciated that.

New glasses for everyone, a morning spent learning about eyeballs, and another great job by our crew to welcome new people into their lives.

Let's use all the machines!

Let’s use all the machines!

The eye puffer machine was the least favorite.

The eye puffer machine was the least favorite.

Just as we were getting ready to run out of the there, the doc gives me the eyeball and says, “When was your last exam for your eye health?”

“Ummm, I have glass eyes…gotta go.”

Here I Go Again…

Thanks to an early morning weight-lifting session with Buds, children who have entered some sort of mythical stage of loving each other’s company, and sunshine pouring in through the French Doors, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this home and these people in my life.

And when it’s a crappy day, and I’m feeling depressed, and the children are attempting to impale each other, and it’s gray and blechy out, I’ll still be grateful.

But days like today, it’s much easier to feel the gratitude.

Buster reading to Yessa. He's so excited for her to hear Percy Jackson, too.

Buster reading to Yessa. He’s so excited for her to hear Percy Jackson, too.

Trip Reminders

I’m losing track of all the information I’m gathering about trip planning, so here it is for the benefit of all of us:

Travel Entertainment Ideas: On my computer under: Carschooling-QuickStarteBook-2009a

Websites for research and trip purchase:

Frequent Flier Mileage Ticket Purchase Ideas

Credit Card Listing for Mileage

Adrian Recommended Trip Planning Site

Gift Cards for Miles

One World Alliance

35,000 miles of air travel for $418.

And for when I’m getting overwhelmed about planning these grand adventures, The Buster created an endless loop of the “Let It Go” video for me.

Phew, I feel better already.


Nonni and Poppi were right. Frozen was excellent.I would have gone just for this sequence: Let It Go.

The kids loved the movie. The Buster needed to perch on my lap for the emotionally intense parts toward the middle onward. That was after he told me he needed to go to the bathroom about 20 minutes into the movie. As we were walking there, I said, “Do you think we’ll miss the dark part while we’re gone?”

“That’s why I said I needed to go now. I’m hoping we’ll miss it.”

His first question to Yessa when we returned, “Did we miss the dark part?”

We hadn’t, hence the lap sitting.

In addition to loving the movie and trying out our first theater in the new home, we went to the movie with new friends, which always makes things more fun.

“Let it go, let it go…”

It was sunny, but freezing, when we saw Frozen.

It was sunny, but freezing, when we saw Frozen.

Trees, trees, trees

My ducklings and I had a lovely morning at Cheekwood enjoying the gorgeous “Trees of the Rainbow” displays that were up in the mansion. Each child picked a favorite tree for a picture.

Yessa and the purple tree, of course.

Yessa and the purple tree, of course.

The Jackson Five apparently taught this child how to stand for a picture.

The Jackson Five apparently taught this child how to stand for a picture.

Doesn't even look like the same child.

Doesn’t even look like the same child.

Red with the silver tree.

Red with the silver tree.

Monkey being photobombed by the child who doesn't know how to be in a picture.

Monkey being photobombed by the child who doesn’t know how to be in a picture.

Another failed attempt at a family picture.

Another failed attempt at a family picture.

As has been our tradition for a couple years, we headed out with Uncle Z and cousins to hunt down a Christmas tree in a field. The farm we went to had trees that were inexpensive, which was largely because the trees had grown so tall that the owners told you to “look up for the tree you want.” When you found the tree with a good top, they would cut down the whole tree then slice off the feet you wanted. A rather drastic tree haircut, so to speak.

Well, Uncle Z, Buds, and I are apparently incapable of this much envisioning, so we ended up buying our tree from the pre-cut “Merry Christmas Trees” stand at the golf course by our house. The people were very friendly and helpful, and not even a bit cranky when I ran over the end of the PVC pipe they used to measure tree heights. Oops. Guess that means the first 6 inches of everyone’s trees are on me.

As is typical for Buds and Ginnie, we proved largely inept at tying the tree on the top of the car, encouraging each other with phrases like, “We don’t have far to go,” and, “It looks good to me.” And my personal favorite, uttered by Buds every year, “I’ll hold the rope with my hand! What could go wrong?!”

The tree goes up!

The tree goes up!

Buddie tries to help.

Buddie tries to help.

Cousin M spent the afternoon with us, and since she loves to decorate, she and Yessa added a few extras around the house that look great. I love having children old enough to decorate the tree.

The final product 2013

The final product 2013

Yessa with our newest wreath, showing how NOT to hang it.

Yessa with our newest wreath, showing how NOT to hang it.

Yessa dressed as St. Luica in honor of our favorite Lucia.

Yessa dressed as St. Luica in honor of our favorite Lucia.

Now it really feels like Christmas is on the way.

Buster The Laconic

The crew tried out a youth class at the “Y” tonight, and it was mostly a hit with all three of them.

I did get to hear one hilarious interaction where a girl around 7 or 8 said to Buster, “Are you a boy?”

(His hair is very long, especially the bangs, but he likes it, and so do I.)

He looked at her calmly and said, “Yes.”

“I couldn’t really tell,” she said.

“People get confused like that,” he replied.

And in other Buster news, I had to laugh at a recent reading perch:

Just like a little bird.

Just like a little bird.

Who knew our foam roller was so multi-purpose?!

T,G,J,H,H,M Come for a Visit

Todd and Gina are our long-time couple friends. I’ve been friends with them for nearly 25 years. I’ve always been proud that they came into the marriage with me since Buds adores them, too. It’s like finding the perfect gift for someone. I may screw up many, many times over the years, but all will be forgiven because I gave him Todd and Gina.

I still vividly remember calling them to tell them about meeting Buddie back in ’94. I was sitting on his lap in the kitchen of the apartment I shared with Steffer Ragsbottom while I talked with Todd and Gina on the phone.

Gina said, “Can you be yourself with him? Do you feel completely comfortable with him?”

Yes, yes I did…and still do.

Gina was there when Zachary was born at home. She stuck with us through all 12 hours of that long, long, lloooonnnnggg day.

They let us bring my very frail and somewhat cranky father to their home so he would have a project to work on when they wanted to finish their basement. (He provided the know-how, the rest of us provided the brawn.)

All of this is a very long introduction to explain that having Gina and Todd and Crew visit makes me very, very happy.

Mayhaps it is because a visit with Gina and Todd and their crew is like going home. It’s just comfortable and relaxed and safe.

Being with Todd and Gina brings out the best in Buds and me. They make us want to be our best selves. But the great thing is, we might want to be our best selves with them, but they actually know all the sides of us; good, bad, cranky, snotty, angry, cursey, and silly.

Without further delay, here’s the write up of what we did, but the most important parts are what you can’t see: The issues I’d been saving up for weeks to talk through with Gina; the conversations about their future home building; trips we’re all going to be taking; hearing the children laugh and talk for hours.

Yessa did spend a day with the throw-ups in the middle of the visit, which was a sad point for her, but everyone else discovered the Tiny Car Museum, which will now be one of our “Musts” with visitors. (Get ready, Tania!)

Here is the visit in pictures. I didn’t actually take many, so focused was I on soaking up every minute of time with them.

Puzzles were a multi-age treat.

Puzzles were a multi-age treat.





Evita/Gina at the Frist.

Evita/Gina at the Frist.

We lunched at the Frist, and they gave us a whole room to ourselves.

We lunched at the Frist, and they gave us a whole room to ourselves.

Maddie was here for a visit and much adored by everyone.

Maddie was here for a visit and much adored by everyone.

This is the first time in a very long time that I don’t have a date on the calendar to know when we’ll be seeing them next. Maybe that’s why I felt such a need to write a bit of a “love letter” post. Thanks for accepting my self-indulgence.

“Closer to the sun…”

“…or further from the sun?”

The Buster and Yessa and I were talking about countries to the north of us. In trying to understand their location, Yessa said, “Are they closer to the sun or further from the sun, Mama?”

Do you see what she meant?

She gets the concept of “north.” “North” is “up.”

It’s the same reasoning behind knowing, but not really believing that people in Australia aren’t walking upside down.

So many pieces of the puzzle have to come together to create the big picture of the world and universe.

She’ll get there…she’ll get there.