...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Golden Anniversary

This weekend, my parents-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary -- their golden wedding anniversary.

It seemed like an appropriate occasion for a little family shin-dig so Josh and his brothers got together and rented a building and catered a dinner and created a fabulous event.

The timing was pretty perfect because everyone was in town (even those who live in Texas) so it was the whole DeMoux crew all in one spot -- which can be raucous for sure but is also a TON of fun!

Our building at This is the Place Park.

We decorated the building (and I have to tiny brag here because my husband decorated the tables all on his own and I think he did an incredible job).  

We had a table that noted ALL of the Jim and Louise DeMoux progeny (as a side note, Louise is not her first name...but she doesn't like her first name so she goes by her middle name -- which may be a tiny bit genetic as her mother used to keep a running list of names uglier than her own because she hated her name too).  Six children, 15 grandchildren thus far -- it's a pretty good sized clutch of kin.

Upstairs in the building, we had an area for kids that let them do crafts and get all creative and stuff.  This also included a table with a huge canvas on which everyone put their handprint as a gift to the happy couple.

There was no fancy program or intricate presentation to celebrate fifty years of love and life, but that's the way they like things.  Simple, intimate, one-on-one.  There were hugs and laughs and stories and smiles and it was a really really beautiful evening.

Because of what these two started fifty years ago, our lives are eternally better, and we were all grateful to take a moment to look back and remember how thankful we are for these two humble, kind, sincere, uncomplicated people.  

And how we all hope to be very much like them.

A "precious" gift -- so cute!! 

Mom and Dad and their boys.

With all the grandkids.

True to life, kids are running like mad all around us -- and life goes on (or maybe that is what life is really all about after all).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Two girls, one disability, and something much more

Aubrey is 15.  She is interested in clothes, and musicals, and boys (oh my, is she ever interested in boys).

In most ways, she is just your typical teenager.  Except for maybe one thing.

Every Thursday for more than two years, this book-loving, fashion-forward, boy-crazy adolescent girl has scurried out of her dance class and rushed to spend the rest of the evening with her disabled cousin.

Becca is 10 years old and was born with Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that has left her unable to talk, walk, or control her body.  She spends much of her time in a wheelchair and expresses herself through an augmentative communication program called CoughDrop using just her eyes (which pretty much rocks).

Every Thursday, Aubrey forgoes sporting events and sleepovers in favor of feeding tubes and medications. Instead of texting with her friends, she gives piano concerts to an audience of one.  And she smiles the whole time.

Because Aubrey and Becca have a secret.  Despite the difference in age and ability, these two girls are fabulous friends.
It didn’t start that way.  Sure, they loved each other from the get-go — they are cousins, after all.  But this arrangement started out as a way for Aubrey to learn how to take care of Becca so that when her parents needed a babysitter there would be someone available who understood all of Becca’s needs.

You see, they couldn’t leave Becca with just anyone.  They needed a caregiver who knew how to feed their daughter through her g-tube, how to help her clear the mucous that sometimes builds up in her throat,  how to move her safely from place to place, how to give her the medicines she needs, how to recognize her discomfort and pain, and how to treat her like a person, not a problem.

Enter my teenage daughter.

Aubrey quickly learned all the logistical requirements of caring for her cousin, but then something happened that went much deeper.  Aubrey and Becca connected.

Becca is comfortable with Aubrey.  She tells her things like her favorite color, what happened at school, or what she feels about life in general.  Communication with Becca isn’t fast, it takes time and great focus for her to compose her thoughts using her AAC device, but Aubrey has learned to be patient.

And Becca doesn’t hold back.  I watched from a distance one afternoon as Becca told Aubrey, “frustrated, you.”  
Aubrey probed deeper and eventually discovered Becca was frustrated with her because Aubrey had been out of town the week before so she hadn’t been able to come to see Becca that Thursday.  Guess I might be frustrated too.

Aubrey watches during the week for stories or songs that Becca might like that she can bring to share with her.  At gatherings, Aubrey makes sure Becca is positioned so that she can see and hear and be part of whatever is going on.  She tucks in close to whisper explanations or funny thoughts in Becca’s ear and she always looks for a way to involve Becca in whatever is going on.

Aubs and Becca dancing at a wedding reception.

But this kindness and caring is not a one-way street.  Becca’s love has changed Aubrey as well.  Becca has taught my daughter that everyone has something to say and that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they are less.  Becca listens intently to my daughter’s concerns.  She shares her feelings and ideas and pushes Aubrey to grow.  She has helped my daughter learn to see the needs of others and to look beyond herself (a difficult task for anyone — but especially for a teenager).

These two are friends — not in some “I feel sorry for you so I’ll give you some extra attention” sort of way.  They actually enjoy being together.

So, maybe Aubrey is really more typical than I’ve made her out to be.  Yes, she spends every Thursday night taking care of her disabled cousin, but really, she’s just hanging out with one of her best friends.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ring Around the Bathtub -- and other fun

Kids can be weird (which is actually part of their charm, I think).

Take for instance this game of ring around the bathtub which is played by walking around the tub at ever increasing speeds with the object of NOT falling into the tub.  If you fall in, you lose.  Then you do it again.

Fun for all ages!

Also fun is getting metal removed from your face.  This teen happily traded in his braces for their less obtrusive cousin (a pair of retainers) recently.  His younger sister still has wires glued on her teeth so she is a little on the jealous side.  Sigh.

Sometimes our small people get all ambitious and try to sell water (yes water) from our front porch.  Sadly, Mom had to put the kibosh on this one as it was Sunday.  I also tried to gently explain (for future reference) that most people probably will not be excessively interested in purchasing small cups of water AND that parental permission is required before any other sales take place.  They were not pleased.  Sometimes it's hard to be small.

And last, but not lease, my middle boy put his creative skills to good use while watching conference and built himself a temple out of Lego blocks (who knew we had that many white pieces).  I am actually pretty impressed with his work.  I love it when he gets all artistic.

Just another week in the life, and I wouldn't change it for anything.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Bucket list item achieved.

We are now the proud owners of five chickens (hey, don't make fun of my bucket list).

That's right, last night Josh and the girls and I trundled ourselves over to the local IFA and brought home five little fuzz balls which will eventually grow up and (hopefully) provide us with eggs.

We have been working toward this for a couple of months (and I've wanted chickens for years).  We had to get a permit from the city (grrrrr), and put together their house, and plan for chicken management etc etc.

But HOORAY, the wait is over and chicken owners we have become!  (One of us is much more excited about this fact than the other.)

Everyone around here (except for Bryce who is too teenage boy to be impressed by feathered babies) is totally enamored with the new flock.  Even Josh was sucked in to their cuteness.

Each child (sans Bryce) named a chicken (maybe that's why he doesn't like them so much) so we have Daisy, Cookie, Rookie (I know, I know), Raptor, and Devora.  We have three supposedly very hardy breeds (as per internet research) and we'll see what happens.

Should be fun!

(Pop on over for scrambled eggs in six months or so.)

(Also trying to get the dog involved so he doesn't eat these guys later on.)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Accidental Conversation Killer

Aubrey has been working on a history project of late.  She had to make a tri-fold brochure all about a particular country (I wish I had thought to take a picture of it because it looked really great).

She turned the project in yesterday and was thrilled when she found out she earned every possible point for her work (actually, her super fun teacher originally announced to the whole class the Aubs had failed her first ever assignment which left the class temporarily worried because Aubrey put a lot of work into the flyer so if she failed they weren't sure they could pass either -- but, just kidding, she got full marks).

Anyway, the point is, while Josh and I were driving Aubrey and the other kids to musical theater last night, she was telling us all about her project which happened to focus on Ireland.  She mentioned her teacher had been enamored with the "interesting facts" section she'd added to the brochure so Josh asked what interesting facts she'd found and this is what happened.

Aubrey: Did you know that Ireland reports fewer UFO sightings than any other European country.
Josh: Well, that's pretty cool.
Me: Why?
Aubrey: Huh?
Me: Why do they report fewer sightings?
Josh: Aubs, just ignore her.
Aubrey: No, really, what do you mean, Mom.
Me: Well, I mean, do they see fewer UFOs or do they just not report the UFO sightings or do authorities ignore the reports or do they see so many UFOs that it is common place so they don't really pay much attention?  I hear there are is a lot of drinking in Ireland, maybe they are too drunk to report the sightings?
Aubrey: Mom, I don't know that.  It's just an interesting fact, it doesn't have to have a reason.
Me: That seems pretty silly.  Why notice a fact, but don't figure out what it really means?
Aubrey:  Whatever.  Also, people think that Ireland has lots more red-heads than anywhere else, but only 9% of the people in Ireland actually have red hair.
Josh:  Huh, that is an interesting fact.
Me: But what percentage of people other places are red-heads?
Aubrey: What do you mean?
Josh: Aubs, let it go, she does this, that's why I don't tell her jokes.
Me: Well, if most other places only have 2% or 5% red-headed population than Ireland's 9% would still make them seem like a much higher concentration of red-heads.  So if that's the case it makes sense that people think of Ireland as a place with more red-heads than other places.
Aubrey:  Gosh, Mom, the site didn't tell me that.  It's just an interesting fact.  Leave it alone.
Josh:  I think you should just give up now Aubrey.
And she did.  Poor Aubs.

FYI: Although Josh likes to tease me about it, I do not ruin jokes and interesting facts on purpose.  I just get curious about things and wonder what causes them or why they are the way they are.  But I'll admit, it can put a damper on a conversation.  Oops.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Roasting s'mores...and fingers

 On Monday we made s'mores in our backyard.

It was really fun.

Until I grabbed a roasting stick that had (unbeknownst to me) been recently sitting in the fire so I ended up with this.

Fingers.  Cooked.

(To be fair, this picture makes the burn look goopier than it is because there is some Vasaline on it)

I spent the bulk of Monday night with my uber-sore digits in cold water (because nothing else seemed to numb the pain).  The skin did not blister AT ALL which surprised me.  I've been the proud owner of several nasty burns in my life (including one really awful one on the tip of my nose thanks to marauding bacon grease) but I've never had a bad burn that didn't blister.

And this was a bad burn for sure.  I grabbed onto the metal tip of the roasting stick HARD before I learned that it was scalding.

Tuesday, when I woke up, the burn didn't hurt at all.  It didn't hurt because I couldn't feel it.  Not even a little bit.  The burns were a sickly white color (it wasn't puss, the skin was cooked white) and the area felt coarse and leathery.  I was a little concerned because I couldn't feel it, but I figured it would pretty much heal on its own.  

Josh was not so sure.  He tends to worry about these kind of things more than I do.  I am much more of a "watch it and see what happens" type where he is more "let's go in and have it checked."

We both did some reading on the internet (which generally brings on lots of worst case scenarios and often ends with a prognosis of death) and then Josh was convinced the I needed medical attention.  To be fair, Josh was mostly worried about an infection because I am quite prone to them (thanks rotten Crohn's disease!!).

So I gave in and went to the doctor.  After being poked and prodded the man in charge couldn't say for sure if this was a 2nd or 3rd degree burn (I'm going with 3rd because I want the street cred).  

He said lucky me that the nerves were damaged so I couldn't feel it, likely they will heal fine and I may or may not have a crazy scar.  I'm hoping for yes (scars -- tattoos with better stories, you know).  He patted my head, gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotic ointment and sent me on my way.  

(Also, he sided with Josh and said it was good we came in...traitor.)

I still can't feel the burned area, but the burn has hardened into a near plastic-like rectangle on both fingers which is REALLY uncomfortable as I try to move and do normal things.  

But, that's what you get when you're hangin' around the fire with your homies and Lil D (for DeMoux, of course) puts the heat on you and leaves you hurtin' but you ain't gonna squeal no matter how much they burn you.  

Or something like that.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The marvels of not-so modern medicine

Today my house smells like garlic (no, that isn't me bragging, it is just a statement of fact).

I've been cooking garlic because someone around here has the beginnings of an ear infection.

And (spoiler alert) that someone is me.

If the truth be told, I get a LOT of infections.  A big part of that is the result of the meds I'm on to keep my Crohn's disease in check (nasty freeloader, always hanging around).  These drugs (I love them) keep my immune system suppressed which is good for controlling Crohn's but not so good for fighting off other illnesses.

And so I get a lot of infections, the bulk of them being ear infections, sinus infections, and I scoop up my fair share of strep throat (I really HATE that one).

I really despise having to head to the doctor for every little infection because they come up REALLY often and doctors are expensive, so since Crohn's and I became frenemies six years ago I've learned a few tricks to take care of some of these things.  While I still don't have a solid answer for managing sinus infections and strep, I DO have a good, reliable helper when it comes to fighting off ear infections.

Enter the garlic .
(Thinking out loud, maybe Crohn's Disease and vampires have a distant relation of some kind?)

Now, I am not a medical professional, so I'm not prescribing this treatment for anyone out there, but I have been grateful for this tried and true remedy (which humans have used for a long long time so I'm really just piggy-backing off the smarts of Neanderthals and such) so I'm going to share.  Garlic has helped me wipe out dozens of ear infections and I'm really glad of that.

Should you decide to give this simple trick, here's how I do it.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a heaping spoon of garlic to a saute pan.  Over a medium heat stir the concoction CONSTANTLY.  The garlic will slowly get darker and darker while it cooks.

Keep going until the garlic becomes a nearly black, sticky mass (you can't miss it when you get there).  Then filter the tonic through something (like cheesecloth, or a handy dandy paper towel) to separate the garlic hunks from the liquid gold.

Finally, I suck the amber fluid into a syringe and use that to get the goop into my ear to fight the infection.  A few drips three or four times a day for a few days usually clears it up (for me, at least).  

I've done this for years and have conquered many many infections this way, but I make no guarantee that it will work for you.  However, it has been a lovely medieval bit of magic for me.  

Hopefully you do not have an affinity for picking up ear infections, but if you have the talent like I do (seriously, I. Am. Good.) maybe this will be a help.

Plus, you get to smell like garlic for days, and who doesn't love that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tidying up the literature

Yesterday, I was reading a book that I wasn't sure whether I liked or not (actually, today I finished the book and I'm still not sure if I liked it or not).

It had one paragraph that I did not appreciate very much.  Since I own the book, I decided to edit out that paragraph so no one else would be faced with it.  Since it was just one paragraph about something someone saw I decided to cover up the words with address labels which happened to be just the right size.  The labels block out the words without bleeding through to the other side like a marker or pen would do.  It worked perfectly.

Josh commented on how I should jot down a phrase there to fill the space.  That seemed like a good idea, so I did (along the lines of his very astute suggestion).

There.  All better.

I like a clean book.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One SUPER family home evening activity

(I didn't realize it until after I'd written it, but this is also a very list-oriented post.  I do love lists, I guess it shows.)

 Last night, Aubrey was in charge of our family home evening activity.  The rules of the activity are as follows:
1. The activity must take less than 10 minutes (this is because people tend to choose things like "Monopoly tournament" or "practice building fires in the back yard"...both of which are fun, but tend to really stretch out an already crowded evening on a school night...p.s. their parents are spoil sports).

2. The activity must be able to be done in the family room.

3. Any mess created will be cleaned by the planner of the activity to return the room to its former level of tidiness.

So, Aubs had a plan that fit the requirements that would also let every be creative and delve into the arts (well, that's a stretch, but still) and it went like this:

1. Each person is given a slip of paper and writes down a ridiculous super power that a super hero might have (something that seems NOT particularly super) and puts it into a bowl.

2.  Everyone chooses a super power paper and draws a picture of a way that hero's power just might come in handy even if it is odd.

It was so much fun.  We had a great time laughing and teasing and it was interesting to see how people interpreted the strange powers into traits that could be functional in life.

Our DeMoux-created super powers included:

1. Can turn into a tree and just sit there.
2. Can always find the match to laundry socks.
3. Makes grass grow.
4. Can draw pictures with light bulbs.
5. Has super speed every time he/she sneezes.
6. Has the ability to make his/her nostrils ignite into flames.
7. Can sharpen pencils at will.
8. Has the ability to control the thoughts and actions of any sloth he/she comes in contact with.

Good times, good times.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Shoe thief (that's me)

My 13 year old son and I have about the same size feet.  He also happens to have gotten a really great pair of tennis shoes ('cause you apparently aren't allowed to say "sneakers" anymore) for Christmas. These babies happen to fit me (and him) perfectly.  Which is where the trouble started.

Because they fit us both, that means if he leaves his shoes out where I can get to them I sometimes put them on and waltz around the house in them to harass him (as one does).  Sometimes I don't say anything I just prance into the room and casually put lots and lots of stuff away around him until he notices and then chases me down the pry the shoes off my feet (which is entertaining to the nth degree for sure...I laugh the entire time...and there really is an easy fix, put your shoes away and I will leave them alone).

It's a good natured bit of drama, but he does tend to come running if someone calls to him I am starting to put his shoes on, or even that I am looking at them too long.  He sprints into the room save his leather pals from his mother any time the need arises.

And then, yesterday, I needed to go get the mail so I mentioned that I needed to go find my shoes since it was raining and wet outside.

But my son, with the sweetest smile you have ever seen on a teenage boy, excused himself for a moment, went to his room and then brought me his new Christmas shoes.

I always knew he loved me (even if he does things that make my eyes leak sometimes).  What a great kid.

The kicks in question.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tooth Fairy Trauma

Sometimes the Tooth Fairy is a slacker (at least at our house).

She is also pretty trixy.  Sometimes she "hides" a child's money in his or her room and no one can find it until Mom comes in to help look (imagine you can see my face so you realize I am winking conspiratorially at you right now).  Mom has a knack for finding hidden Tooth Fairy funds for sure (more winking).  It gets pretty crazy.

In case you don't read emergent/phonetic speller this particular note says, "Please come, Tooth Fairy.  I really hope you come.  -Ellie's tooth."  (DO note the appropriate use of the apostrophe in "Ellie's"...that's my girl!!...even if she did accidentally spell her own name wrong)

Thankfully the Tooth Fairy is very responsive to tactics like this one and although she may have missed her one simple job as relates to homeless denticles the first night (maybe the start of a new year is a big time for Tooth Fairies) she did manage to get the job done on night II.  Ellie even got a note of apology from her winged friend along with her cash.  She was pretty pleased.

All's well that ends well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Foul things from the Garage

Sometimes our teenagers forget to close the garage door when they leave for school.

So they get a ticket.

And they have to PAAAAAAY!!! (like actual money)

'Cause we are the meanest parents ever.

For reals.

Be glad we aren't your parents.

For reals (again).


Actual embittered teenager annoyed at being held accountable for his/her garage foul up.

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