Doug attended a medical conference in January aboard the world’s largest cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas, and took the family along for the ride. Granted, our cabins were the size of a walk-in closet, but the beds were comfortable, and the scopolamine patches we’d packed for seasickness helped with claustrophobia, as well. Besides, the close quarters provided a captive audience for David and Samuel, who roomed with Nana-n-Papa and staged nightly recitals on the bamboo violins they’d bought in the marketplace.
Of course, the cruise cuisine was fabulous. No telling how much weight Doug and Jennifer would have gained had the food on their plates not appealed so much more to Rebekah than anything on her own. Rachel never found her sea-legs, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. She spent floor time propped on hands and toes, and had learned to crawl by the time we disembarked. Jennifer gave us a scare on the drive home when she was suddenly struck blind in one eye. Her left pupil had blown to the size of a marble, and we were guessing intracranial bleed? Doug was en route to the nearest hospital before we made a connection between the rapid onset of this malady and the removal of her scopolamine patch. She must have rubbed some residue in her eye and caused it to dilate, a freakish condition that lasted (only) 24 hours!
Doug drove to Houston in May for yet another conference. David tagged along this trip and learned to intubate a rubber dummy while Dad practiced the same fiber-optic procedure on fully-conscious volunteers. There was enough time between workshops to visit the zoo, go paddle-boating, and take in the new Spiderman movie. Jennifer’s mother shared her best household hints with our home school moms this month; her cleaning tips came in handy the following week when Joseph slid a penny behind his nightlight, melted the coin, shorted the circuit, and burned a black blotch on the bedroom wall. It’s a wonder he wasn’t electrocuted. God must have extraordinary plans for Joe’s life, as often as it’s been spared his first five years…. We played some baseball this spring. Despite the aforementioned accident-proneness, our children are nowhere near as clumsy as Doug feared they’d be when he first took note of Jennifer tripping across DBU’s campus back in 1986! On the contrary, they all have great hand-eye coordination and surprisingly strong throwing arms, as we learned when the police department stationed a computerized speedometer at the end of our driveway: it not only slowed traffic around our corner, but it allowed us to clock the velocity of our fast balls (try as we might, none of us could beat the neighbor boy’s 62 mph pitches).
We participated in the Mesquite Rodeo Bike Ride in June. Jennifer trailed the younger children on the 10-mile course, while Doug and Jonathan used the 20-mile route to break in new triathlon cycles. Still too young to candy-stripe at the hospital with Jon, Bethany began volunteering at Green Acres Library, where she helped organize the summer reading program and led a weekly story time for pre-schoolers. Rachel celebrated her first birthday on Father’s Day. She has a mouthful of teeth, but seldom flashes her sweet smile in public, being more apt to show strangers (especially photographers) a well-practiced poker face, instead, or a wrinkled-nose expression that seems to protest, “What is that horrid smell?” She has learned to clap her hands, wave bye-bye, stand alone, and play peek-a-boo. The amazing thing is not that she’s developing right on schedule, but that each new milestone brings such unmitigated delight to the rest of the family, even the eighth time around! Of course, we couldn’t let spring slip by without tackling some huge home-improvement project, so Doug arranged to have the interior of our house repainted this year.To get an idea of what life was like during the twelve days it took to achieve that end, simply push all the furniture to the middle of your house, heap the contents of every closet, cupboard, and drawer on top of that, coat the surrounding walls with latex, drop a passel of youngsters in the middle of the mess, and do what you can to ensure they don’t touch the paint, topple the piles, or track the drips! Our painters must’ve thought we were muy loco to expect them to work with ochos niños underfoot. They persevered good-naturedly, but we were all smiling when the job was done!
By August, Rachel was walking and beginning to pair such words as, “Hey, ya’ll!” (spoken like a true Texan). Doug brought home a black Hummer 2 this month, demonstrating once again the truth of that old adage concerning the difference between men and boys. The kids pitched a tent in our backyard and camped-out for a week before school started, trying to pack as much fun as possible into the last few days of summer vacation. All too soon, Mom set them back to their lessons, heartless taskmaster that she is.
Rebekah turned three in September. Jon bought a box of cartoon Band-aids to use in bandaging her scrapes (she gets plenty trying to keep up with her brothers), but now she cries hysterically, “I need Scooby Doo!” at the slightest bump or bruise. We’ve had to switch back to the plain, flesh-colored variety to curb her hypochondria! Rebekah loves to make up songs, paint her nails, and express contrary viewpoints (just try to convince her that grass is green or that she’s a person). She can be a mite stubborn, but we love her anyway and never tire of hearing her confess, “I luh boo, too!” Joseph turned five this month. He enjoys cutting paper, sorting socks, digging holes, and playing Boggle Jr. He also likes to color and can stay inside the lines remarkably well, although doing so demands his full concentration and an inordinate amount of tongue action. Our multi-talented Bethany had her birthday this month, adding a second teenager to our household equation! Despite the attendant hormonal fluctuations, we are thoroughly enjoying this new stage of our children’s lives. It is gratifying to watch them grow in wisdom and maturity, as they stand on the very brink of adulthood. They’re terrific kids, in our unabashedly biased opinion!