What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

Or so the saying goes. And perhaps that may be true for the boys. But I’m beginning to wonder if all the 3 Amigos’ falls, bumps, bruises, scrapes, gashes, maladies and injuries aren’t going to put me in an early grave. This stuff can stress out an old mama like me.

So here we are, tending to Houston’s mending arm and dealing with all the to-dos that come along with his recovery: cast removal on 8/6; getting a removable hard splint; the twins and I accompanying him to physical therapy twice a week; applying a heat pad and doing arm-extension exercises at home; keeping the arm safe, etc.

Woody & the Injured Boys: Sounds like a great band name for a couple brothers who are bound & determined to get boo boos.

But really, things are good. Houston has gained back a lot of flexibility, mobility, strength and use, especially in extending his arm out straight. In fact, he improved by 5 degrees just this week.

Houston does have ways to go with bending his arm, though, which is not surprising due to the severity of his break. We’re optimistic overall and are just taking it one day at a time. Please still keep our tough guy in your prayers!

“Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble.” — Benjamin Franklin

So on 8/14, we met some of our CC friends at a park few towns over for some fun in the unseasonably temperate weather. Houston worked his arm responsibly and the twins had great success in bike riding on the playground’s flat, paved surface.

As I was packing up the van, I heard Zeke wailing. He had fallen from the play equipment and had a huge, golf-ball size lump on the back of his head. I think I went into mother shock ’cause some of the details after that are kind of blurry.

Stephen is now giving the kids Spanish lessons every Sunday for an hour — a longtime goal of ours that is finally happening & everyone is loving it!

I didn’t see the accident and there are differing accounts as to what happened. Some eye-witness parents told me that Zeke hit his head on a metal pole when coming down, while the kids said his head only hit the ground (which was luckily covered with ultra-safe shredded-rubber mulch).

But what everyone did agree on is that Zeke fell from a very high height, which Miss Christie estimated to be about 15 feet. And thank God my dear friend was there ’cause I was pretty much speaking in tongues when I called Stephen, so he had to talk to Christie to figure out what had happened and then the best course of action.

Fortunately, Zeke wasn’t puking or blacking out or doing anything much other than crying. But due to the extreme elevation of his plummeting descent, Stephen wanted me to meet him at the ER. So, Christie led me out of the semi-unfamiliar town to the the highway, until I was on a recognizable route and could speed away toward the hospital.

From Lincoln logs to Legos, the 3 Amigos are passionate about constructing things out of tiny pieces & then inevitably crashing their creations down.

The CT-scan showed that all of the swelling was happening on the outside of Zeke’s head and that his brain was fine — no bleeding or contusions or distension going on inside my sweet boy’s head. Thanks (again), Lord!

And according to Zeke, he and Asher had been playing an intense game on the towering platform, which required him to chase Asher with his eyes … wait for it … closed! I’m telling ya, I really abhor helicopter moms, constantly hovering over their kids and their every move.

“Raising children is an uncertain thing; success is reached only after a life of battle and worry.” — Democritus

But perhaps I should take a closer look at this modern phenomena and attempt to reattach the umbilical cord, for safety concerns, of course. Obviously, I’m kidding.

But c’mon … can’t my boys just be a little more careful? Or do I have to become an overbearing, overprotective zealot? Surely, there’s a compromise somewhere in there. Hopefully, we’ll figure all that out before I have a trauma-induced heart attack!

I keep telling Gabriel that if he (my boy who is most like a bull in a china shop) can avoid major injury during childhood, it will prove to be an amazing story for he & brothers to share w/ their own kids one day.

Even if the self-induced injuries were nil, there are still always medical concerns that can eat away at a parent. As you know, Houston has Horner’s Syndrome, which we were fairly certain was caused by an injury to his sympathetic pathway during birth.

Yet, there was always that slight concern that the condition was due to something other than birth trauma, like a mass or tumor in the chest or neck, which in turn, affects the ocular muscles. Our local eye doctor has always been great and given Houston phenomenal care.

But with Houston’s semi-frequent headaches, auras and nosebleeds (and Obama-care looming), we wanted to put to rest any serious concerns once and for all. So, we headed to the Duke Eye Center on Tuesday to see one of the country’s leading pediatric neuro-opthalmologists.

Now that summer’s almost over, this pre-injury pic of the dudes swimming w/ Daddy reminds us that we’ll have to get the boys their aquatic fix @ the YMCA’s indoor pool this fall & winter.

As we had hoped and prayed, it was confirmed that Houston’s syndrome is indeed congenital and, thankfully, not a severe case at that. The doc said we might want to consider cosmetic surgery for his ptosis down the road.

Stephen and I figure that we’ll discuss the eye-lid-correction procedure (which is a routine, day-surgery kind of thing) with Houston when he’s older and can make an informed decision on his own. But for now, all is well.

Other than all that heart-rending medical stuff with the kids, I recently underwent my first mammogram, which was pure torture! I also found out that I now have tendonitis in my left thumb. I love the wisdom that comes with age, but I could surely do without this lame body!

August hasn’t been all doctors and hospitals, though. We really have managed to have quite a good month regardless of all the healthcare happenings.

Zeke & Houston get giddy over a dancing ghost @ Cracker Barrel, where we stopped for lunch en route home from the Duke Eye Center in Durham.

On 8/7, Miss Christie had us over for cupcakes and ice cream for Jackson’s 4th birthday. We then hit their neighborhood pool for what was our first swim since Houston’s accident. Everyone took like fishes to water, and it was a pleasant, injury-free outing.

On 8/12, we went to the sprayground for the very first time this summer with Miss Beth and the boys. We had a grand time and plan on going again tomorrow with the J-Crew.

On 8/13, I took the dudes to see Despicable Me 2, which was Gabriel and Zeke’s first real movie (meaning at the theater and not a dollar flick). Their obsession with Gru and company continues unabated, so much so that we are even toying with the idea of them dressing as minions for Halloween.

Another thing the 3 Amigos are really into is Pink Floyd. It started when Daddy and they watched a documentary about the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii in 79 AD.

A tad perturbed by the fact that Mommy will only let them spend $1 from each of their piggy banks on video games, the 3 Amigos gather in front of the Tim the Minion poster after seeing “Despicable Me 2.”

Somehow, this morphed into viewing video clips of Live at Pompeii, the 1972 concert film in which the band performs in one of the Italian city’s ancient amphitheaters. The boys are especially enthusiastic about the movie’s version of the ethereal song “Echoes.”

Also on their fave Floyd playlist is GoodBye Blue Sky from the 1979 masterpiece, The Wall. Even though it’s a spooky, foreboding song about the Blitz of the U.K. by Nazi Luftwaffe during WWII, the dudes find it utterly appealing.

From British progressive rock and American punk (particularly The Ramones’ Beat on the Brat), to classic country and contemporary Christian hits on K-Love, the kids have quite a diverse ear for music. And luckily, Stephen and I would have it no other way!

The dudes stand in front of a beehive during a visit to Historic Orchard @ Altapass during their time in the mountains for the Houston Family Reunion.

Last weekend, Stephen and the boys went to the mountains for the annual Houston Family Reunion. Other than the accidental deaths of Amarillo (a yellow caterpillar from home) and Zebra (a found caterpillar from Granny’s), they enjoyed seeing family, some from nearby and others from afar.

I stayed behind to clean and reorganize the house, since we had our walls, ceilings and all trim professionally painted earlier in the week. The mess was definitely similar to that of a move and my work is not yet complete. Sigh.

But the casa already looks great! It’s amazing how much dirt and funk some spackle, primer and a fresh coat of quality paint in beautiful colors can hide. Plus, I’m confident I’ll have things in working order by the official kick-off our homeschool year on 9/3. Yee haw!

“Dost thou love life?”

“… Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” — Benjamin Franklin

Going, going, going has been our lifestyle this summer, and we haven’t let Houston’s injury slow us down. Just because you have a bum elbow and a cast doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good time, right?!

First, let me update y’all on Houston’s arm. He had an orthopedic check-up on 7/29 and the x-ray showed that his elbow is healing exceedingly well. Amazingly, the doc said Houston will get his pins removed at the next appointment on 8/6.

Gabriel, seen here gently petting a butterfly, recently told me, “Mommy, I hope I die when you die, so that we can go to heaven together.” My sensitive boy sure knows how to melt his mama’s heart.

Houston will also be fitted with a hard, removable cast and visit the physical therapist that day. Not sure exactly what that means — Can he swim? Take a normal shower? Go most of the day sans cast? Get back to climbing? — but I do know this is exciting news and we’ll just sort out the details later.

Needless to say, Houston is ecstatic about breaking out of the shackles of his cast and getting back the use of his elbow and hand. Although he did recently admit, “I like breaking my arm because people give me a lot of attention.”

Somehow, I think Houston will survive without being in the limelight. Plus, that boy has got some tough physical therapy to work through before life gets back to normal.

We’ve had to get a little creative with the kids’ activities, since Houston can’t get his cast wet. But as long as the 3 Amigos are on the move, they’re happy as clams.

On 7/24, Houston went to see a dollar movie with the J-Crew. However, Miss Christie misread her calendar (yeah, it’s hard to keep up with the days during summer), so she took the kiddos to play at the park and Chick-fil-A instead.

Despite a left arm that he can’t fully utilize, Houston hangs in there building his craft @ the Lowe’s Build & Grow workshop.

Gabriel and Zeke were a tad envious at first. But then I reminded me that they had been to both a pool party and Bounce-U the week before without big bro and that seemed to allay their jealousy.

Miss Julie, Houston’s piano teacher, hosted a summer piano party for all of her students on 7/25. Houston didn’t want to go, as he was embarrassed that he couldn’t play a song.

It took some convincing from Daddy and me that Miss Julie didn’t expect him to perform and that all the other kids wouldn’t think he was weirdo. Houston hesitantly agreed to attend, but was particularly crabby upon arrival ’cause his fingers had been hurting that day.

Well, turns out that Houston had a blast, as we knew he would, and forgot all about his finger pain and incapacitated arm once he was at the shindig. In fact, when the twins and I picked him up, Houston was jamming out an impromptu one-armed ditty on the piano for Miss Julie!

Zeke’s up to bat during a post-cookout baseball game w/ the J-Crew. (By the looks on their faces, the other boys don’t much like waiting for their turn at the plate.)

The next day, the kids and I hooked up with Miss Beth, Matthew and Jonathan, who we haven’t seen in ages. The boys played outside at their house, while Beth and I caught up mommy stuff.

Then we went to see Wild Goose Chase Theater at their local library. It’s a pirate-themed puppet show (good) that runs about 45 minutes (hmm, perhaps not so good). But to our delight, our typically hyper kids were calm, mannerly and totally enamored with the performance.

Beth and I were somewhat anxious about the boys sitting up front with all the other children void of parental supervision. But even from our seats a few rows back, it was easy to see that our 5-dude crew (ranging from ages 3-6) were the best-behaved kids in the group. Way to go, boys!

However, their conduct wasn’t quite as good at the Japanese restaurant where we had dinner and made a gazillion trips to the bathroom. Then the constant peeing and pooping continued and some additional zaniness kicked in during our visit to a frozen-yogurt joint for dessert.

Gramsey & Papa fool around w/ the 3 Amigos during the obligatory “grandparents w/ grandkids” photo opp during their recent visit.

But hey, they are testosterone-filled boys after all. Could we really expect anything less than some eventual hijinks, especially since the dudes contained all their horseplay at the library?!

On 7/27, Stephen took the 3 Amigos to their first Lowe’s Build & Grow, which is a free workshop for kids. The boys got to use hammers, nails, glue and other crafty tools to put together a wooden car, with Daddy’s help, of course.

Each one was so proud of his creation, and Stephen was pleased with their excellent behavior. That means, there will likely be another boys-only outing to Lowe’s some time soon. Great job, fellas!

That evening, we had the entire J-Crew over for a rainy-day cookout. Although we had to eat dinner inside, the weather cleared up enough that we were able to spend some time outside playing baseball and kickball. Good times with some of favorite folks!

Piper, Gabriel & Jackson enjoy the swimming portion of G-Man’s sleepover w/ the J-Crew.

After church the next day, Mercy Hill had a baptism cookout. It’s exactly what it sounds like: people getting baptized and then everyone chowing down. There was also an inflatable slide and a bounce house for the kids. It was a fun get-together and a nice opportunity to get to know of some of the congregants.

Gramsey and Papa came to town from 7/29-7/30. They hadn’t seen Houston since his injury nor had they been to our house in a while, so it was wonderful to host them for a couple days of bonding with the grandkids, political chats and eating yummy food. Thanks for the visit!

On 7/31, the boys and I met Miss Jessie and her little sister, Kaylee, at the Science Center. We did the aquarium, the zoo and another omni-sphere show called Sea Monsters. This flick was 3D, longer than the one we saw the week before and intended for kids ages 7 and up, but the 3 Amigos again impressed with their big-boy behavior.

The next day, Gabriel had his first sleepover with a friend. It was with the J-Crew and he was Jackson’s guest. Miss Christie reports that G-Man said “thank you … please … sir … ma’am” and was up to par on all the rest of the mannerly stuff.

So, after we have Asher or Jax over to spend the night, it’ll then be Zeke’s turn for a sleepover at the J-Crew casa. And Z-Bird’s already planning for the highly anticipated event!

Zeke, Houston & Gabriel imitate the bum-spanking dance moves from their current favorite movie, “Despicable Me.” I suppose it will remain their top preoccupation, until we finally go to see Part 2 at the theater in a few weeks.

Last but not least, the 3 Amigos are obsessed with Despicable Me. We rented the movie last weekend and they just thought it was the best. They decided that it would be money well spent to each contribute $3.33 from their piggy banks in order to purchase it from Amazon Instant Video.

Since then, the boys have watched the movie many times, choosing it above all else as their daily limited TV viewing. Their zeal for the flick has been so intense that they already know much of the dialog and even some scenes word-for-word in just a week’s time.

The dudes are not only infatuated with the goofy characters and story, but they love the music, most notably the disco songs from the soundtrack. So, I showed them John Travolta’s dance performance to the Bee Gees’ You Should Be Dancing from Saturday Night Fever.

It’s not rare to find the boys (especially Gabriel) shamelessly boogying, attempting to mimick Gru’s dance moves to the same song from the Despicable Me, as well as Travolta’s funky grooves of yore. These passionate performances are truly something to behold!