Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A day in a life

Because you don't have anything better to do at this very moment, besides read my blog, I thought I would give you an idea of our days here in the Pletcher Family.  It is thrilling - I can tell you.

 Our work days start at 6:10am.  Mat and I are up first before the kids, and get ready.  Once we are ready we get Cainan up.  This is around 6:30.

Cainan is usually already awake and waiting for us.  He is a light sleeper, so I am sure he either hears our alarm or the shower running.  So he hops right out of bed.  He is our morning person.  He is full of energy right from the beginning - running around and hopping into the bathroom to get ready.  I watch him with bleary eyes and wish I could be half as awake.

 Then comes the painful part.  Getting up the girls.  They are not morning people.  They are still sleeping, and refuse to move for at least 5 full minutes of me saying "girls get up.  It's a school day" and walking around them getting out their clothes, and picking up loose toys.  I go back and make Cainan's bed and make sure he is getting dressed (while he continues to bounce around like Tigger) and yet the girls still lay in their beds.  Little lumps.  Hoping I don't see them if they don't move.

Sometimes it takes Mat coming in and turning on the light or pulling back the covers.  Cruel.  Yet...necessary at least 1 day a week.  Arlington usually is the last up, and walks slowly to the bathroom as if she is being forced to do the most awful task in the world.

 Finley requires me to come and get her.  This is her morning routine.  I walk over, she stands up on her bed, puts one of her "rags" (her favorite blankies) on my shoulder, and I carry her downstairs.  She tucks herself into the smallest ball she can.  I take her to our third bathroom - the only one unoccupied at this point and leave her there while I troop back upstairs to make the girl's beds.

I also usually have to knock on Arlington's bathroom door to get her to move it along.  She has taken to locking herself in there with a book or magazine and hopes I forget about her. I think she goes back to sleep.

 Cainan is now downstairs.  It is 6:45 - and he is still bouncing.  Bouncing and bouncing around.  And giggling.  He has found his shoes and is busy putting them on.  Finley is slowly getting her pajamas off, squirming around.  She whines that she can't get her shirt off.  Every.Single.Day.  Yet miraculously, it comes off.  Miracle.

While Finley gets dressed, ("OMG hurry up" comes out of my mouth 8 billion times), I brush Cainan's teeth.  Mat is usually down by now and getting Arlington's breakfast ready.  She is the only one that has to eat.  Bless the preschool that serves breakfast.  Amen.

 Cainan and I brush.  He bounces.  I fix his little bit of hair, put on his chapstick, tell him for the millionth time to stop licking his lips, and put lotion on his hands.  He is ready to go.  6:50am.  He asks for his vitamins and his eye medicine (Claritin) and bounces around until Mat is ready to go.

Finley?  Well, Finley may or may not have dressed herself at this point.  Usually she is fussing over her socks.  Or the fact that she has to wear pants.  So on and so on.  I brush her teeth.  I brush her rats nest she calls hair.  We search for her glasses and clean off all of her fingerprints.  We search for her sunglasses.  She begs for a drink.  A snack.  A hug.  She goes to put her shoes on and is not seen for a full 5 minutes until I look in our mud room and she is just playing around.  Then she says she can't find any shoes (even though there are 10 pair there for her to pick from).

 At this point, I am ready for Finley and Cainan to be on their way to school.  Arlington has emerged from the bathroom, and sits holding her head up at the breakfast bar.  She quietly eats her breakfast, and usually gets half of it on the table.  For some reason after 7 years she still doesn't know where her mouth is.

While she eats, I help Finley find her shoes, and Mat helps get their coat and belongings and shuttles them out the door.  It is 7am at this point, and it is now just Arlington and I.

I sigh.  Arlington eats and I pack our lunches.  (Again - blessed preschool provides lunch and snacks, so I am off the hook).  Arlington realizes what time it is -  about 7:05 - and scarfs down the rest of her breakfast.  In the morning I allow her to watch "Arthur" the kid's show once she is ready for school.

I continue to pack lunches, and clean up breakfast dishes, and put things away around the house.  Arlington is dressing - slowly - and promises to brush her teeth during the first commercial break.  She is dressed and on the couch relaxing while I finish getting ready.

At 7:15 - she brushes her teeth and I do her hair.  At 7:20 I go down and start the car (if it is winter) or just load it (if it is warm).  Bookbag - check.  My bag - check.  Lunches - check.  Any odds and ends.  Check.  I check the days schedule.  Is it library day for Arlington?  Field trip?  Homework is complete and put in her bag?  Check check check.  I quickly think what it will be like when I do this next year with three of them, shudder, and put the thought from my mind.

 At 7:25 the show is over, TV and all lights are turned off, jackets on, shoes on and we are in the car by 7:30.  This is the same every day.  I am like a clock.  I must leave at the exact time every day to make it to work on time.  I know - crazy.

I drive Arlington to the wonderful people who watch her in the morning for 15 minutes.  Free of charge.  I am grateful for amazing friends.  Their little girl and Arlington are friends and in 2nd grade together.  I drop Arlington off at 7:40 and talk with my friend for a few minutes.  I am on the road by 7:45am.

It takes me from 7:45-8:15 to get to work.  This is my relaxing time.  I unwind - listen to the radio, or music, or any other entertainment I would like without anyone talking.  Or yelling.  Or fighting.  30 minutes of bliss, each way, every day.

Unless I get behind a bus.  Then bliss goes bye-bye, and my hypersensitive "need to get to work on time so please get out of the way bus" feelings take over.

From 8:15-3:15, I am a school nurse.  I wipe noses, give bandaids.  And hugs.  I give about a trillion ice packs for boo-boos, and wipe tears.  I see about 100 belly aches, headaches, "can't remember" aches, and just "I need a break" aches.  I give out at least 10 water bottles, 50 mints (magic mints the kids call them - good for bellies), cough drops, medication, breathing treatments.  I file tons of papers.  I got to meetings.  I talk with most of the teachers about their kids.  I eat lunch with my work BFFs.  I talk to worried parents.  I call parents who didn't call their kids in sick to see where they are.  The day goes by quickly.  Before I know it, it is time to head home.

3:15-3:45 I unwind from work.  At 3:45 I meet Arlington at her bus at our other life saving friend, Athena's house.  Her little boy and Arlington get off the bus - wound up and ready to play.  They dump their backpacks and take off, with me yelling "5 minutes!" behind them.  Athena and I chat and catch up.  I love that I pick up Arlington there because I love getting to see her and chat with her every day.  She is one of the best people I know.

5 minutes (okay usually 10 by the time Athena and I stop chatting) later, Arlington and I are on our way home.  We are usually home a little after 4pm at the latest, and she sits down to do her homework right away.  I get her backpack unpacked and set her up at the table.  No one is home except she and I, so this is a great time for her to do her homework.  Some days after school she has after school activities, so this only works on days she doesn't and comes straight home from school.

Homework goes pretty smoothly.  It doesn't take long and she is pretty independent.  Her spelling needs help.  But more than that - she is good.  Thank goodness because 2nd grade homework is tough.  She works on multiplication and word problems, and things I don't remember doing quite that early on.

 I work on getting dinner ready and doing some more picking up around the house.  By 5pm Mat is home with the little ones, and the house is crazy once again.  We have dinner and the kids play until bath time at 7pm.

5-7pm can go two ways.  Smooth.  Or.....not.  When it is smooth - the parents get to relax and play with the kids and all is well.  No fighting, and lots of giggles.  The other times, well.....let's just say 7pm cannot come fast enough.  We have a big house, and yet - it is still not big enough to separate them on these days when no one wants to play cooperatively.  Luckily - those days are few and far between.

At 7pm, my big girl Arlington takes her shower.  She has been doing this for a few weeks now, and is really great at it.  And I cannot tell you how nice it is to not have to bath 3 any more.  I didn't want her to make that step -it meant she wasn't a little girl anymore.  But it truly has been great, and she loves having that responsibility.

The little ones chase each other around while I call for them.  And call for them.  I run the bath water and get the towels. I look, and see that Finley hasn't taking one lick of clothing off, so she is not ready.  It is 7:10 - she is trying my patience.

But Cainan is ready.  He is still bouncing around.  Not at bouncy as he was this morning, but still a happy boy.  I bathe him first and have him go and get dressed while I wait.for.Finley.

 Finley finally makes it into the bathroom for her bath.  She smiles, starts for the tub and states "I have to go to the bathroom".  OMGareyoukiddingme.

7:20 - baths are done, and Mat is reading a book to Cainan.  Arlington has used a half a bottle of shampoo and body wash, but she is clean and ready for bed.  I finish picking up the bathroom while Finley attempts to dress herself.  And when I say attempt - I mean....not doing anything but playing butt naked in her bedroom.  Completely oblivious that it is bedtime.

Mat reads to Arlington (they are making their way through the books of Chronicles of Narnia).  I wrestle Finley into her pajamas and we read a book.  She then requests no less than 5 books in her bed that she can read to her doll Lilly loo loo.  (don't ask).  She has her rag, and she is settled in.

High maintenance that girl is.

 Doors are closed by 7:30 on the two littles and by 7:45 for Arlington.  No one comes out unless they are bleeding or they have thrown up.  By 7:45 Mat and I are downstairs relaxing on the couch.  Or folding laundry.  Or working.  You know - because there just aren't enough hours in the day. 

By 10pm we are beat and in bed.  Knowing that in 8 hours it is going to start all over again.  But we love it and wouldn't trade it.  The giggles, the chasing, the hugs and kisses.  That all makes up for the spilled cereal and slow pace our children take with life.

See you Saturday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making Meals Monday

Sourdough Chipotle Chicken Panini

  • 10 slices sourdough bread
  • 1-1/4 cups Caesar salad dressing
  • 5 cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon bacon bits
  • 2 tablespoons and 1-1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder, or to taste
  •  1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons softened butter
 1. Preheat a panini press for medium-high heat. 
2. Spread one side of each piece of bread with the Caesar dressing. Place the chicken on top of the bottom slice, sprinkle with Cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and chipotle chile powder. Place the top piece of bread onto the sandwich, and butter the outsides with the softened butter. 
3. Cook on the preheated grill until the bread is crispy and golden brown, and the inside of the sandwich is hot, about 5 minutes.  


Turkey Quesadillas

No - I don't like turkey.  I do like turkey breast lunch meat, but not regular turkey.  BUT - I know we just had thanksgiving, and there are a lot of leftovers to be eaten.  Plus, Turkey is just about the best source of protein you can eat.  So - here is a recipe.  You're welcome.

  • 5 (10 inch) flour tortilla
  • 2 tablespoons and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 10 slices deli smoked turkey
  • Salsa

Spread one side of tortilla with butter. Place tortilla greased side down on griddle. Sprinkle with cheese, then top with turkey. Fold tortilla in half. Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with salsa if desired. 


Salmon Puffs
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 12 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine smoked salmon, feta cheese, black pepper and garlic.
  3. Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface to form a 12x12 inch sheet. Cut sheet into 16 3x3 inch squares. Place a spoonful of salmon filling in the center of each square. Pull together corners of each square to form 16 small packets. Brush packets with egg whites and place on prepared baking sheets.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until packets are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve warm


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend

3 days down, one to go in our mini vacation from work and school.  We have been busy the whole time we have been home, so the time is going by quickly.

Thursday morning we woke up to watch the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade.  Always a favorite for us and the kids.  And this year it was really special because my cousin Kirsten - who is in the cast of "Elf" was on TV. The kids were so excited to see her, and stood as close to the TV that they could to see her.

 After the parade ended, Mat and I got busy working on the playroom cabinets.  With company coming in less than a month now, that room needs a lot of work to be ready for our guest.  We are going to be using it as sleeping quarters for some people, so we want it to be nice.

Mat and I had to put the last coat of paint on the cabinets that Mat built, and then we started to polyurethane.  I should have known we had the wrong thing from the beginning when it was going on a golden color.  But I thought it would dry clear.  I was wrong.  We bought the wrong thing.

 So disappointing!  This put us back a few days.  We would have been done by now, but we had to sand off the old polyurethane and repaint.  That was aggravating, and honestly, Mat and I are both sick of painting this cabinet.

Anyway - I am getting side tracked.  After we did some painting, we had an early Thanksgiving dinner.  We had the usual for us - ham, biscuits, veggies, sparkling cider and pie.

 We made it through the meal with only one spill (Arlington), and me only having to feed Finley a little bit.  I call that a success.

 Friday I would like to say I started the day with Black Friday shopping, but I did not.  I waited to go later, and with that the opportunity for Arlington to come with me.  She likes to shop, and she was a trooper.  We were only gone a few hours, and she had a great time.  And we got some amazing deals!  I know the lines and crowds bother a lot of people, but they don't bother me.  And we don't live in a heavily populated area, so even "crowded" in our area isn't bad.

Friday also came the tradition of watching our first Christmas movie of the year and decorating the house for Christmas.  The kids loves this day, and Arlington has been looking forward to it for weeks.  The inside of the house is completely decorated, except for the tree, and tomorrow or early in the week I hope to start to tackle the outside.

 Today the day started with.....more painting.  I can safely say that we are close to the end.  I would say one more day and the cabinet will be finished.  Thank goodness.  We also removed part of the baseboard since we are replacing those when we replace the floor.

After painting the kids had their swimming lesson.  4 down, two to go!  They are really enjoying it.  Although when we got home and I asked Finley if she needed to go to the bathroom she said "no - I went in the pool".  Ick.  We had to talk about that one.

                  (Finley drew glasses on her Turkey)

After swimming the kids got changed and we went to see the movie "Tangled".  It was really cute, and I am glad we got to go as a family.  I highly recommend it -even adults will really enjoy it.

We ran errands, and then returned to do MORE painting, and the kids played.  Everyone is in bed now, and we are relaxing.

It has been a productive weekend.  We have had a lot of fun.  And Monday morning will come soon, and we will be back at work and school.  So we are enjoying the time while we can.

Next week, I will be in full force with the telethon.  I will be handing out papers to each employee of the district and also hanging posters of Finley in each building.  Can't wait to get the ball rolling!

 Have a great end to your holiday weekend and I will see you Monday.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pletcher Christmas

Giving Squares Heifer Holiday 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with custom holiday cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Thankful

Every year at this time, I like to remind myself of how blessed I am.  I think about it on a daily basis - how lucky we really are.  We have a beautiful home, enough food on our table, and very little worries.  We have beautiful healthy children, and our own health.

 But today, I talked with a mom on the phone that was very upset about something that was physically happening to her child.  Her little boy has "lazy eye" and mom was so upset.  Anything wrong with our children is upsetting, but talking to this mom was hard for me.  Her son's lazy eye will be fixed.  His sight will remain, and he will go on for life.  But she kept talking about he is "legally blind" (which he is not), and "if he didn't have his good eye he would be completely blind".

I am sure you can guess why this was hard for me.  I wanted to tell her that she should be thankful that what her son had was all it was - a temporary problem that would resolve with some eye patching.  When we have to watch Finley slowly go blind and we cannot do anything about it.  She should be thankful.

 But then I thought - to her, this is devestating news.  To her, this is something that is upsetting to her.  So, I bit my tongue, and gave her my sympathy.  She doesn't need to hear that my situation might be a little worse than hers.  Because to her, it isn't.  To her - this was more than she could handle, and it had brought her to tears.

So for that, I am thankful that I have been able to deal with Finley's diagnosis and move beyond the tears.  Do we still cry?  Of course.  I look at her sometimes and just want to yell how unfair it is - especially since she has no idea what is coming.  But - I am thankful for the progress we have made with education on LCA, fundraising for a cure, and our strength we have gained as a family.  I am thankful that Mat and I were able to deal with this as a team, and have grown closer because of it.

So no - I couldn't be bitter with this mom in the end.  I hope that someday she can be thankful that her son still has his sight.  That someday he will drive.  I hope that she can come out on the other side of this thankful.

When I look back over the last year, and see the progress we have made - learning braille, teaching our children braille, and making the most of our situation, I cannot believe it has only been a year.  In this year, our family - thanks to our family and friends - has been able to give around $30,000 to research for LCA.  That is truly amazing.  I am so thankful for my family and friends, and strangers that made our dream of Finley to always be a sighted person a little closer to reality. 

 We are truly blessed.  We are truly loved.  We can always tell Finley that we - and about 1000 of her closest friends - fought as hard as they could.  For her.  And I know - she will be thankful.

See you Saturday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Meals Monday

Would you believe we are STILL eating things out of the freezer?  It is like a bottomless pit in there.  But this week is short, and this week is Thanksgiving, so I am sure everyone is making their favorite Thanksgiving meal, anyway.

For those of you who don't know me very well should know that Mat and I don't eat turkey.  And the reason we don't eat turkey is because we don't LIKE turkey.  (Did you think I was going to say to "save a turkey"??)


For many years on Thanksgiving - especially when we didn't have children, and even when Arlingoton was small, we went out to eat on Thanksgiving.  Yes, I do believe restaurants should be closed on Thanksgiving so those people can spend it with their families.  But since they weren't, we went to give those poor workers some tips.  And eat pie.  It was all good.

We lived far away from family for the last 8 years, so for just the few of us that there were for awhile, it didn't make sense to make a big dinner.  Every once in awhile, we went to someone's house to have Thanksgiving, but most years - we spent it together.  Our little family.  Eating pie.  Wait, do I have a point?

Not really.  Except that this year, we will be eating in.  We were going to have some people over, but we are in a mess here while we do some home projects, so we decided it would just be the 5 of us.  And ham and rolls, and veggies.  And of course......pie.

I will see you all tomorrow!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fundraising Fun

Since I don't have any pictures to share, I will update you on a few upcoming events.  Yeah yeah - no pictures.  I am terrible.  Blah blah blah.

First of all, Finley had her last horseback riding lesson this past week until the spring.  It was hard for her to say goodbye - she has really enjoyed going.  And her teacher is wonderful.  I video taped her lesson for the telethon, so hopefully I can share that with you eventually.  She had so much fun.  She had done really well with the horse therapy, and I am so glad she had a chance to do it.  We can't wait for it to start back up in the spring.

And big news - today Cainan put his face in the water in swimming.  That was a first that he did it on his own (not one of his awful parents making him).  We were really proud of him.  He put his face in three times and didn't die.  It was amazing.  I bought him a happy meal for lunch to celebrate.

Fundraising for Finley's Fighters and RDH12 is alive and kicking.  Along with the telethon here in my neck of the woods, the wonderful folks of Connellsville have two more up and coming events that I want you to know about.

On Sat. Dec. 4th the city of Connellsville will be hosting and event
called “Christmas in Connellsville”.  Poinsettia will be sold in town, several
churches will be offering tours and bake sale items and business will be doing
fundraisers for non-profit organization.  Linda Cordaro’s law office which is
located on the street behind St. Rita’s church has offered to have a cookie sale
fund raiser for Finley’s RDH12 foundation.  The hours for the sale that day are
from noon until 5 PM.  Students from Connellsville High School National Honor Society will be there
helping with the sale.  Along with the delicious homemade cookies we will  be
selling wrist bands, Finley Fighter t-shirts, Braille shirts(custom made) and
have a donation box for additional funds.  Please come support our city and the
Finley Fighters and buy some cookies.

So plan on stopping by!  As we get closer, I willl remind you again.  The cookies will all be home made and super yummy!  Come by - all donations will go to the telethon total, and presented the day of the telethon, so show your support.

Zach Connel Fundraiser for Finley

My parents recently got a call from one of the teachers at Zach Connel Elementary School in Connellsville. She told them that over the last couple years instead of buying gift exchange presents for each other the students in third grade(and maybe some other grades) have chosen a charity to give the money to.  They have been talking to the kids about Finley and decided her foundation would be the recipent of their collection this year.  In the past they have put a huge paper Christmas tree up on the wall near the main office and sold small paper decorations to hang on the tree but she said this year they are borrowing the chain link idea from the high school and are going to sell red and green links for 25 cents and hang them all over the school.  Since the kids will be giving up their gift exchange the staff is buying them little candy snacks and every time they purchase a link they will be able to pick a little snack.  They are going to run the sale starting this Monday November 22nd through Dec. 22nd.  My parents told her about the telethon and said what we could do was the next day, the 23rd. maybe one of them could call in and identify themselves and the fundraiser and then make the donation on the air- she thought would be really cool.  They are also having a couple dress down Friday's during Dec. and that money is going to be included in the donation.  And they wanted to buy wrist bands and t-shirts which is also very exciting!  I wish Mat and I and the kids could be at these two events, but I hope the people of Connellsville know how grateful we are for all of their support.  We feel your love.

And of course - there is the grand event - the telethon.  I get a little more excited each day, but also a little more overwhelmed with what we need to do.  Things are going smoothly, just busy.  I got permission to put fliers in the staff mailboxes at all 5 schools in my district which will include information about Finley and our RDH12 Fund, and then posters will be hung around each of the schools.  Plus, the businesses in that town will also put up posters and information about the telethon.  It is very exciting.  We have also been in contact with everyone who is going to be part of the telethon that day, and have been getting videos lined up to show that day.  Mat and I were given the task of filming Finley around the house and also outdoors.  It has been fun.  So please remember - December 23rd - the telethon for Finley.  As we get closer, I will give you the address to watch it live and also to call in if you would like.  Our goal is $10,000, but if we could get that $20,000 mark, I would be so excited.

Stay tuned for all the upcoming events and mark them on your calendar.  We need your support and we thank you!

See you Tuesday.