Saturday, December 5, 2015

This is My Life


Did you ever see the movie Dangerous Games? 
Starring Michelle Pfeifer? (Whatever happened to her, by the way?) There's a song in it that says, This is my life.... and that's the soundtrack to this post. 

These little pictures capture vignettes of what compose my life.
Dorien aka Dark Vader chilling in bed with Wyeth popping by to say hello.
One of the best things about having children is walking down the hall to scenes like this. Unexpectedly, they hit you with joy and laughter.

Then there's this man, my amazing fantastic husband, in costume as a Geeky Computer Programmer, at his company's annual retreat. Gotta love that. Especially as it's a bathroom selfie. Awesome!

My stinkin elf sock. Because of my super stinkin Plantar Fasciitis which will not stinkin leave me alone. It likes me so much it's decided to not just move in to my right foot but also my left. Actually, my right foot is much improved. My left foot feels not unlike fiery coals burning into my heel when I run. Or when I don't run. It got so bad that I was starting to walk funny, in compensation, and created other painful spots on my foot. I was hobbling around the house like a 90 year old woman. I finally broke down and got one of these socks and it has helped tremendously. At least there is no more early morning pain. And truthfully, the pain is significantly better all around. 

My last longish run (8 miles) was on Halloween. It was actually a very memorable run as it was pouring rain in the early morning darkness, with 3 running buddies, and I have never ever been that soaked on a run before. It was epic. But it was probably longer than I needed to go on my foot which punished me for it for days. I've had PF in my right foot since April, and I've just been managing with it. One morning in September, my left heel started hurting and it made all the pain in my right heel seem laughable. 

I have new shoes, I have been using the Strassburg sock, and I've taken off basically a month from running which is insanely hard for me to do. For a runner not to be able to run, it's a very difficult thing. It messes with your internal identity. Not starting out my Saturday with a crack of dawn long run changes my weekends. And strangely, not for the better. I won't lie and say that I don't enjoy sleeping in, but there is something incredibly satisfying when you do force yourself out of bed much earlier than is comfortable and join your running friends for a long run.  You respect yourself more, not to mention the benefits your body experiences. At the moment, however, my life is....dealing with this little challenge.

Life is also taking care of your children, which means dealing with messed up teeth!
I recently noticed major cavities in two of Wyeth's molars, as well as in a front tooth which came in with a patch of missing enamel. Since he doesn't eat junk or drink juice or do anything that would contribute to the condition of those teeth, I deduce it's a genetic "bad teeth" hand he's been dealt. Poor kid got to spend several hours at our dentist on morning waiting for conscious sedation meds to kick in before having one of the cavities filled and a crown put on. 

He was a trooper, but even so, we weren't able to finish the job in one sitting. We go in for Part B later this month. 

Oh, and see that nice man Wyeth is all snuggled up with?
Perfect stranger.
Never seen him before in our lives. 
No idea why Wyeth deemed him worthy of plopping down in his lap. Thankfully, the guy was super nice and clearly comfortable with kids. (He was there with 3 of his own).

Kyle took the kids hiking one lovely Saturday, giving me a few hours of complete solitude.

Here are some hand-warmers I knit Brooklyn a few weeks ago. They were so easy to make, so cute and even more precious because while knitting them, Brooklyn decided she wanted to learn to knit too. We spent some lovely hours sitting together and working on our creative endeavors. I love this girl more than I can say.


This little guy is one of the sweeter spots in my life. 
He's opinionated, a total stinker at times, obsessed with wearing shoes, a total momma's boy for now, and has a hilarious habit of dropping things down his shirt. Case in point. He has taken a toy gun or something and wedged it down his shirt! I love it! Occasionally, it turns against him when he's wearing footie pajamas and he drops Lego bits down the front and they get stuck under his toes.
We went to bed one night and he and I were snuggling and I felt something...I reached down to his feet where a pencil was poking from the leg of his pj's. It's always something unexpected, right?

So this is my life....or snippets of it, anyway.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Halloween 2015

Bringing you up to date on our family requires a recap of our Halloween costumes!
Last year, August and Dorien were rockers - specifically Bon Jovi and Eddie Van Halen. Since Brooklyn felt left out of the rocker theme last year, she decided (last year) that THIS year would be her rocker year. And her rocker of choice was Pat Benatar. We had a lot of fun with this one....not only listening to great Pat Benatar music leading up to Halloween, but just figuring out what that looked like on Brooklyn.

We sort of channeled this purple/red crazy hair theme to come up with our own rendition....

Normally I'd not be baring that much tummy...but these were extenuating circumstances and it was a short lived costume. It's not as if we do our daughter up in extreme eye make-up was sort of startling to see her transform...but she did capture Pat very well. 

August was a bandit/outlaw this year.

It's was Wyeth's turn to be the dragonfly.....bless their hearts, they each get a turn with that one. It's just the cutest costume and it holds up crazy well!

Dorien was Darth Vader, or as he says it, "Dark Vader." Thank you, Aunt Kara, for the foam sword which doubles nicely as a "light saver." 

We trick or treated a great deal more than we normally do, walking ourselves into exhaustion...
But the kids had a blast, and it was quite enjoyable for us parents too.

Beware of tiny winged creatures flitting about the night....

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A 20th High School Reunion

This past October,  my high school graduating class held its 20th reunion. I had no intention of going, until I received an email from Claudia, a friend I hadn't seen since our graduation. This friend was a German exchange student our senior year, and we were really good friends. Except that we hadn't seen each other in 20 years because she returned to Germany after we graduated.

She decided to come over from Germany for our reunion!!!!
We did some catching up via email before she came over, and I invited her to stay with us. 
I knew that just visiting briefly at a reunion was not going to be sufficient.
I was right! She came in (along with her oldest daughter, Lucy, who was just a little older than my daughter, Brooklyn) on Wednesday night and stayed with us until Sunday. 

Lucy spoke very little English, but it somehow wasn't a problem. When required, Claudia translated for her, and when we weren't around, Brooklyn used Google translate to communicate with her. 
Turns out, Claudia has three kids in the exact ages of mine, although she doesn't have a 4 year old.  
Lucy fit right in among my kids and it felt absolutely wonderful having the two of them in our home. 

Claudia and I spent hours talking and catching up and it felt so perfect - like our friendship just picked right back up with no interruption.

Thursday morning, I made pancakes for everyone because it's a very American food that Claudia wanted Lucy to experience. It was a hit!

Claudia was so precious with my kids. She said having Wyeth to love on made it a little easier to be away from her own 2 year old daughter, Lotta. 

Brooklyn and Lucy hit it off much as Claudia and I did years ago when we first met in high school.
It's so amazing to see how that works. 

Although they were jet lagged, they pushed through and we played at a local park with my sister-in-law, Anna and her kids. 

Friday evening we took our family to the CAC Homecoming Football game. It was a treat for my kiddos.

One of the other things Lucy really wanted to experience was an American mall, so off we went!

Welcome to an American mall!

While the girls shopped till they dropped, Wyeth needed a diversion. Pretending to ride a motorcycle was just the thing.

The kids also found the massage chairs hilarious.

Saturday evening, Kyle kept the kids while Claudia and I went to the reunion dinner. 
Our graduating class was really small, only like 55 people (I think), and of those, about 21 people made an appearance either at the Homecoming Game or at the dinner.

Seated L to R: Claudia, Heidi and Stephanie
Standing behind: Me and Kelley

On Sunday, Claudia and Lucy came to church with us and experienced serving in the nursery! They had never seen a church like ours in Germany, and unfortunately we didn't stay for second service because Claudia's host sister from high school was picking them up from our house. 

We were so sad to see them go.  

The whole bunch!

Claudia, Lucy and my children

How I love my friend.
I wish we were not separated by an ocean, but I cherish her friendship nonetheless.

Meanwhile, our own daughters began a friendship that I hope will also endure.
Lucy and Brooklyn each got "best friend" lockets to remind them of their time together and the potential for years to come.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Juniors Tennis

Meet my son, August. 
He's 7 years old and stinkin smart and talented and sensitive and just all around good looking. 
And he plays tennis when he's not keeping the peace around our house in his official capacity as cowboy law-man.

Just recently, we signed him up for an under-8 Jr. Tennis league. He is now an official USTA member. He has been taking weekly lessons since the Spring, and it seemed time to start getting some match experience. His league matches kicked off this past Sunday (after our day in the ER), and he didn't really give it much thought until just before we were getting ready to go.

Then the reality of the situation hit him full force and he was terrified.
Like I said before, he is a really sensitive kid. I have spanked him probably 2 times in his life. A stern look is usually all it takes. He FEELS things, people. DEEPLY. He's tough and all boy, don't get me wrong - those things are definitely not mutually exclusive. But he suddenly became adamant that he DID. NOT. WANT. TO. PLAY. TENNIS. He started crying and we could not get him to stop! 

It was one of those parenting moments when you really have to just make a judgment call.
Obviously, he was simply nervous and scared. We understood that. He'd also committed to do something and his coach and fellow team members were counting on him.
We gently explained all this to him as he sobbed and sobbed. 
Kyle and I each explained how we both got crazy nervous before matches or races or sporting events, and that we had even read about an Ironman triathlon who bawls like a baby right before the start of every race (it's true). Nerves come out in different ways. But you can't let them stop you.

We kept comforting him and encouraging him as everyone put their shoes on. We filled his water bottle and ushered everyone into the car. Tears still a-flowing.
We drove there, all the while he just cried.

And then we parked the car and he climbed out of the car and the tears dried up. 
Stoic August emerged. What I like to call his Poker Face.
No emotion. Just business.

Here he is above, warming up with his Coach Shaun beside him. 
All during warm-up and as the other players warmed up, he was fine. He's never crazy or wild or expressive out there, even in lessons. But he really does love tennis.

He played two matches that day. In this league, it's best of 3 games. There are several things that are unique about this level - they don't overhand serve - they drop hit. They each serve 2 and then switch servers, and they each get 2 attempts to serve. The scoring is different, too. Rather than using love-15-30, etc. They do first to 7 points, using these clips attached to the net. When you score a point, you remove a clip. Then, as absurd as it is, you call out your score by subtracting 7 from the clips on the net. Rather than starting with 0 clips and adding them to the net and counting those. So every time a kid called the points, they had to do a little subtraction problem. It was bizarre.

At this level, the parents are able to help the kids out with calling the score, helping them identify whose point it is, whether the balls are in or out. You let them do as much as they can, but interject when required. For instance, this one kid called a ball out when it was clearly in.  So a parent will say, "Uh, was that in or out?"..."Out?"..."You sure about that?"...."In.....your point...." Keeping them honest, kind of. And you encourage them - we all want our kids to love this game!

August won his first match easily and his second match, he lost in the 3rd set. It was funny because the only reason he lost the second match was because he didn't move to the  ball fast enough or often enough. His strokes were great! There were several good rallies, but his opponent was a hustler and just generally more peppy than August.  As his opponent walked off, I heard him say to his dad, "that kid was good!" I think because August had on his Poker Face, he didn't expect any skill from him! 

With the matches completed, August walked a little taller. I asked him if he had fun - resounding YES. I asked him if he was looking forward to next week - YES! 
Hopefully the big breakdown was just a one-time nerves issue...

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Rough Week

What does it take to transform this super cute, happy, smiling (NEWLY 2 YEAR OLD!) into the picture you see below??

A really nasty case of CROUP.
That's what.

My poor little baby started running a fever last Thursday night and woke up on Friday with a barking seal cough to go along with his fever. It was unmistakably croup. His voice was also hoarse, which happens as the vocal chords get inflamed.  He was mostly fine all during the day, but that night, things got interesting. His fever would not go away. 101 - 102. Kyle and I were up every hour on the hour during the night checking his fever, making sure his breathing was ok and giving him Tylenol and Motrin. I somehow managed to keep my 6am long run Saturday morning with my running group (10.5 miles this week), which was not as hard as it sounds because I was pretty much awake when my alarm went off at 5:15 anyway. 

I came home to find his fever had still not improved and he was noticeably looking bad. Super pale with red-rimmed eyes, his breathing didn't sound good to me and he was obviously sick. 
I ended up taking him to an urgent care clinic where they agreed it was croup, and gave him a steroid shot.  And since he was retracting pretty noticeably with each breath and had stridor (which is the sound you hear when the breathing gets really difficult - almost like air being sucked in over a row of pipes...for some reason I picture wind blowing over a plowed field - wind over furrows), they sent me to the ER of Children's Hospital. Now somehow, THAT I was not expecting. 

Given the large amount of family members living around me, you'd think it would be easy to find childcare for my other 3 children, but it was not.  My parents were in Knoxville, TN for the Razorback game and we couldn't locate any of my siblings. We ended up getting Chad and Melissa to watch them for us, and I am so grateful for them. My kids had a fantastic day/evening with them and I didn't worry about them at all. Meanwhile, poor Wyeth had undoubtedly the worst day of his life.

When we arrived at the ER it was deserted and we were rushed back.
Nurses and doctors descended upon us and quickly assessed that Wyeth was pretty sick. (Later, several confided that they just knew he was going to be admitted). They diagnosed croup, but wanted to run lots of tests to rule out other causes. I think his fever was low enough that they didn't suspect meningitis (there have been several cases of that going around), so thankfully no lumbar punctures were on their list. Praise God for that!!

They sent for a breathing treatment right away, as there was a noticeable stridor in his breathing and his chest was sucking in hard with each breath. They also wanted to do a chest x-ray, some bloodwork and catheterize him to rule out a bladder infection.  

From that point on, it was a seriously hard day.
The breathing treatment and x-rays were the easiest things Wyeth dealt with that day.  

Although he did not like it one bit, he was almost too sick to struggle much.
And his breathing noticeably improved afterwards.

The chest x-ray came back clean and so they did another x-ray of his throat to rule out a throat abscess. The problem was that the second x-ray needed to be read by a radiologist to confirm that no CT was needed...which means that he couldn't nurse or eat anything. The radiologists were all swamped. Meanwhile, they quickly cath'd him (which broke my heart into a thousand pieces) and then called in a guy to start an IV on him.

Ya'll - I used to be a nurse. At ACH, in fact, and I love the hospital. I love the nurses. I have so much respect for that place and our time spent there only reinforced that love and respect. But there is nothing that diminishes the pain of watching your baby suffer. And he was so dehydrated by this time that they had to try 3 times to start an IV on him and he was suffering. I was holding his body against me (he was sitting in my lap facing me) so I was able to assist the nurses while comforting Wyeth, but it was gruesome to feel his poor body go rigid with pain while they tried to find a vein. I'm tough and it about made me cry.  His hoarse little cries were GUT WRENCHING! 

One of our nurses was a super nice guy who really liked us and felt like he'd failed us when he couldn't get an IV started. They called the IV team and were able to start one in his hand. Praise God! They got the blood they needed to run some tests on it, and left the IV in. At this point, they all thought we were going to be admitted.

After the x-rays and IV, we were left to wait on the radiology report. This would tell us whether we had to stay for a CT. Wyeth was so exhausted that when they came in to do a second breathing treatment, he remained asleep the whole time. 

It was kind of funny because there were a lot of unknowns about whether we'd have to be admitted. Apparently, they had on the boards that we were going to be, so this poor lady kept coming in to get us to sign all the paperwork, but we had been told that depending on a few factors, we might be going home. So we kept sending her away. 

We were blessed with a fantastic on-call doctor who knows her stuff. She eventually heard back from radiology that there was no throat abscess and we didn't need a CT scan, which meant that Wyeth could try to nurse/eat. She wanted to be sure his breathing was solid enough that he WOULD eat without gagging or having problems. She watched him nurse easily and eat some pudding and finally said we could go home but to return immediately if his breathing took a turn for the worse. We were so relieved. Also, during the day, Wyeth's fever had disappeared. 

We ended up getting home around 11:45pm Saturday night. We slept with one eye on him all night, making sure his breathing stayed good, and watching for fevers. 

He was so much improved on Sunday afternoon that we took him with us to August's first Junior Tennis match. He remained fever free, breathing easily all day.

He even tried to work alongside Kyle Sunday evening.

It was night and day difference. 
He ran a fever on and off later this week and still has a little cough, but viral croup takes some time to work out of your body. As of today, he has been fever free and happy as a clam.
I am thankful for so many things throughout this week that I can't even begin to list them all, but mostly thankful that Wyeth is better.

Interesting tidbit here....over the past week I heard various anecdotes from nurses and friends who noted that blond hair/blue eyed children seem to have worse problems with respiratory issues than brown hair/brown eyed children.  None of my other children (all darker) have ever had any issues with this. I'm not sure the science behind it all, but it's interesting.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Captiva Island, Part 2

In the evenings, we played games, read books, and I worked on knitting projects!

I apologize for the sideways nature of this picture, but I love how cute Wyeth looks, slinking down in the chair!

At home for a lunch break before heading back out for more sunshine and salt water!

August, Brooklyn and Dorien would play "I spy" using the chart of shells. I think they have the shell chart completely memorized by now.

Heading out for dinner!

Me and my Brooklyn!

Eating at the Island Cow - there was lots of open space, unlike previous times of the year when we'd been there! (I love how August buttoned his top button!) 

I don't know what the sign means...but it was an opportunity to sit by a skeleton.

Brooklyn knew it wasn't real, but she still didn't want it touching her.

The lighthouse at the bottom tip of Sanibel Island. A 15 mile bike ride there and back gave Kyle and I each a nice 30 mile ride!

What a gorgeous day and a gorgeous boy!

Here I come!!!

Wyeth and Kyle!

Little brothers -  Wyeth (almost 2), Dorien (4).

Reading in bed before lights out.

Wyeth squeezed himself between Dorien and the screen wall in order to sit in Dorien's lap.

A late night walk down to the beach...

Revealed a white sand crab that quickly scuttled sideways into the grasses. 

It was a completely black night. No moon, no stars...just darkness and the sounds of waves rolling over rhythmically down the shoreline.  Staring out into the blackness, we began noticing these sparkles at the edge of the water just where the waves broke. Glittery, glowing brief shimmers of light. It definitely wasn't jellyfish. I did some research when we got back and I think it was phosphorescent ocean plant life. It was a first for all of us and incredibly cool!

All good things must come to an end, and we began our drive home on Saturday morning. Ironically, we found out that the next morning there was to be a sprint triathlon on the island!!! Had we known, we totally would have planned our trip around that! Maybe next year...

On our return journey, I knocked out two hats. One was intended to be for Brooklyn (the lilac one) and one for me (multicolored hat). It worked out exactly opposite of how I'd planned. But it's ok, because Brooklyn decided she really liked the multicolored version.

Side view - this is the PurlBee Cozy Ear Flap hat.

Back view of the lilac version of the same hat. 

Clearly too big for her, but so cute at the same time!

Driving back through Dothan, Alabama, we happened to catch the most glorious sunset right as we were pulling into our favorite restaurant for dinner!

We discovered this place, The Cactus Flower, several years ago just after it opened. I have no idea why we stopped here - there's nothing to really attract attention to it, but it blew us away with how good it was. It's kind of a fresh Californian approach to Mexican, and it is amazing. If you are EVER near Dothan, plan to stop here. It is well worth it. I always get the vegetarian quesadilla which is about the size of a medium pizza! It's at least 2 meals for me, and perhaps the most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth. It's a well established part of our trip routine. 
So, until next time....farewell Captiva!