Friday, February 28, 2014

Tree Nuts

Harrison had allergy testing done today. I went in thinking we might get an answer to his reflux issues and came out feeling like I got punched in the stomach. His pediatrician thought a milk or wheat allergy could be causing all of his vomiting so he referred us to an allergist for testing. I wasn't really expecting results since he has never had any allergy issues or reactions to foods or medicine.

While we were waiting for the nurses to come in to do the test, Harrison entertained me with a variety of songs he made up and performed. He is too funny. He is always asking me to record him so he can watch it and before I hit record he says, are you ready to rock this video?!  This particular song is all about sugar and donuts. Because why wouldn't you want to write and sing a song about sugar and donuts? Clearly you can see he's quite passionate.



I was nervous about how the testing was going to go. I had it done about 10 years ago and I remember that it was not very comfortable. But Harrison's wasn't bad at all. Instead of poking with individual needles like mine, his was in series of 10 vials at a time so it only took about a minute to do all 60. Instead of poking it was just little scratches. He did great and didn't even fuss while they were doing it. He broke down and cried a little after the nurses left and said that it was really hurting bad, but I think it was more about the fact that he was itching and couldn't scratch. He had to sit there without moving for 20 minutes and once he got into a game on the kindle he was fine. I was expecting it to go much worse than it did so I was relieved.



And then the doctor came in to go over the results. They weren't at all what I was expecting or prepared for.

He had 5 reactions out of 60 substances.

1 of them was red kidney beans.

And 4 of them were tree nuts. Cashews, pecans, pistashios, and walnuts.

Not good news.

I didn't really process it right away because I had zero concerns about nut allergies. He eats peanuts and peanut butter almost every day and so I never even thought to worry about other types of nuts. But when the doctor started talking about how he was prescribing an epi pen and that he would need to have it with him at all times, it started to get real pretty fast.

We left and I forced it to the back of my brain for a while. I treated him to a fancy lunch date at The Cheesecake Factory before we went to pick up Harper. And I say fancy because this conversation actually took place:

Me: It's good manners to put your napkin in your lap.
Harrison: But this isn't a napkin. Napkins are paper towels!

When your kid doesn't know that linen napkins exist...then dining at anything other than fast food is fancy indeed.

his version of heaven

my handsome date

We went to the grocery store and then to the pharmacy to get his prescriptions for the epi pens and also for prevacid. 2 medications which totaled $370...another punch in the stomach. We came home, I fixed dinner, we ate, hung out, and then did the whole bedtime routine. And then I sat down to read the information about what all of this means for us.

And then I cried a bunch.

Here are a few facts that I wish I could unread:

*1 in 100 children (1%) have peanut allergies and 1 in 500 children (0.2%) have tree nut allergies. Sensitization to tree nuts may increase with increasing age and exposure. In general children who have a nut allergy should avoid all nut types and not just the ones to which they have reacted.

*At least 90 percent of children diagnosed with tree nut allergies will have them for life.

*Peanuts are legumes, and are biologically unrelated to tree nuts. However, there is a high level of allergic cross-reactivity between peanuts and tree nuts, meaning that people with tree nut allergies are at increased risk of developing peanut allergies.

*Peanut allergies are popularly considered the most severe allergies, and it's true that both peanut and shellfish allergies cause far more cases of anaphylaxis than tree nut allergies. But both of those allergies are much more common. The fact is that there is strong evidence that severe reactions are far more likely to occur in people with tree nut allergies --- especially cashew allergies --- than with peanut allergies. For this reason, it's essential that anyone with a tree nut allergy learn the symptoms of anaphylactic shock of and carry injectible epinephrine (Epi-Pen) at all times.

*The most significant symptom of tree nut allergies is anaphylaxis, a systemic reaction that can cause shock, severe breathing difficulties, cardiac arrhythmia, and death.

*********

I have so many jumbled thoughts spinning around in my head.

I'm worried and sad and scared. This is something that he'll have to deal with his whole life. This is something that his mama will be worried about her whole life. This really, really sucks.

I feel like instead of answers to one issue we now have another giant issue to deal with as well. We follow up with the allergist again in 1 month and he also referred us to a pediatric GI. In the first 10 minutes we were talking with him Harrison ran to the trash can 6 times to spit up vomit. He thinks he's going to need an endoscopy to see what's going on since the reflux is severe. I feel so bad for my baby. First a colonoscopy last year and now all of this.

I have the total wrong personality to deal with this type of thing. I already struggle with anxiety and fear and control issues. I'm a jump-to-the-worst-case-scenario type of person no matter how hard I try to banish those kinds of thoughts from my mind. And now I have the knowledge that my kid could die if he eats something completely common...and I'm supposed to let him out of my sight??????

 He has been just fine for the last 4 years. He's never had any bad reactions before. I need to calm my mama bear self down.

I'm thankful that Rick & I just took a CPR & first aid class this month. We learned all about epi pens and how and when to administer them. 

How do you ensure he has his epi pen on him at all times? He's 4. I guess I'll have to stick it in a little backpack to take with him when I drop him off anywhere? Can I trust people to know when and how to give it to him? Seriously, how am I going to let him out of my sight???

Should I trust this test? How do you prove it's accuracy one way or the other? It's definitely too risky to experiment on my own. From what I've read online there are hospitals that will do food challenges where they monitor the ingestion carefully. So maybe we should do that??

People deal with nut allergies all the time. It's doable. It might not be easy or fun but it's doable.  

How could I not know that he's never had these nuts? Before the test the doctor went through a list asking me which foods he's eaten before and I had to guess on a bunch of them. Including nuts. Isn't it a mom thing to keep track of this type of stuff? I worry about so many other things but this wasn't even on my radar.

Until today I have always hated how picky he is. Now I am incredibly thankful. We actually got into an argument 2 months ago over the fact that he refused to eat a pecan. My grandpa sent us a huge bag of them from his yard and I did everything short of force feeding him to get him to try them. And I can remember being annoyed when he would only pick out the peanuts and almonds out of a mixed nut container because he "didn't like" the other nuts. Thank you, Jesus, for your protection.

God is in control. GOD. The same God that loves my baby more than I could even dream of loving my baby, which is pretty much an infinite amount already. And He loves him more than that. God is in control. I need to imprint this on my brain somehow.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Sick & Sad"

We are on day 5 of strep throat around here. 3 out of 4 of us so far. 103+ fevers, chills, vomiting, general feeling of impending death. Not really much else to report this week...but I'll backup and recap last week.

The littles have been up to their fair share of shenanigans.

We are transitioning Harper into Harrison's room. It's been challenging but fun trying to decorate a coed bedroom. We upgraded her to a big girl bed and I spent HOURS cleaning out and organizing the room and closet. Consolidating two closets into one is not an easy feat in case you were wondering.

Which is why hearing the words, mommy, we made a messy mess! come look at our messy mess! was not very well received. I walked in to this:


The picture doesn't even do it justice. They climbed up and pulled every single piece of Harper's clothing off the hangers and threw them on the floor. They dumped out drawers of toys. They pulled the books out of the bookcase. They got out 3 boxes of bandaids from the bathroom and ripped all of them open and stuck them all over the walls and furniture and the trash was littered all over the place. I had JUST finished organizing everything a couple hours before this...so you can imagine how happy I was. Harrison looked scared, Harper just kept laughing at their "messy mess", and I broke down and cried. Ha! Harrison gave me a big hug and a kiss and told me not to be sad and that he'd help me clean everything up. So the next 2 hours I resisted the urge to just do it all myself the right way and instead made them pick up every toy and piece of clothing themselves. And ignored the fact that they hung half of them up facing the wrong way. ::cringe::

***

Wednesday was another fun day of disciplining. I had to take Harrison to the doctor to follow up on his reflux (still terrible) and they both did so great. I praised and praised and praised them. We had to stop by HEB to get a couple of things and I told them if they kept their excellent behavior going then I would stop by Sonic and get them a special treat to celebrate. I must have been setting them up for failure because apparently it is physically impossible to get through a 15 minute trip to the grocery store without fighting, hitting your sister, and ignoring mom. I tried to give Harrison one more chance and told him if he would climb in his car seat and put his seat belt on while I was unloading the groceries then he would earn his treat. That's all he had to do. Open the door and get in his seat. But instead he had a bad attitude and was being disrespectful and didn't even attempt to open his door. So he lost his privilege. Upon hearing this news he threw a giant fit and screamed and yelled and cried the entire. way. home. Harper did really good at the store so I still stopped to get her something, and at this point he glared and screamed, you ARE going to get me my special treat OR I'M GOING TO SHOOT YOU!!!! 

It makes me so sad when he gets like this. It's like he gets in this zone and there's no bringing him back until he chooses to calm down. I remember being the same exact way when I was a kid. So caught up in my anger and emotions that I would do or say anything to get a reaction out of my mom. So stubborn that I didn't care about the consequences. I've finally learned that when he's like that I have to just stay calm and refuse to engage or react when he's trying to push my buttons. When we got home I sent him to his room to lie down quietly and told him any time he got up or yelled it would add more time to the timer. 2 hours later he finally decided it might be in his best interest to cooperate. We had a long talk and he was still mad at me and felt like I was to blame instead of himself. It's so hard to get them to see that they are in control of their privileges and consequences and that life would be a lot easier if they would just make wiser choices.


icing on the cake: a bag ripped when i was unloading the groceries and a jar of applesauce shattered all over the kitchen.

***

And then Thursday. Oh, Thursday. Harper has been giving up naps so sometimes I let her do quiet time with her brother. I went in to check on them about 10 or 15 minutes in. In my fury I did not even think to take a picture of what I walked in to. Every book on their bookcase (that I had just organized AGAIN) was tossed on the floor. Harper was "cleaning" the furniture with a wet washcloth and water was everywhere. Then I saw tons of water all over the floor and noticed that the books were soaked. A lot of special books too -- books from my childhood, the kids' bibles, a photo book that I had made for my grandma and got back when she passed away. It took me a minute to figure out where the water came from...and then I spotted the fish tank with about an inch of water left in it. Thankfully Fishy Boyd survived. And thankfully my children did too. Ha.

***

So by the time Friday rolled around, I was determined to shift the tone of our week back to a fun and positive one. I planned a bunch of fun things for us to do and also had some errands to run. We had a nice brunch at Chick-fil-a, ran by Target and Walmart, and then I took them to see Frozen. They were angels and we had no behavior issues at all. It was a refreshing day for all of us!


Harrison kept telling me not to drop the popcorn going up the stairs and she kept shushing us :)

I think we might have been the last people to see Frozen. It was perfect though because there were only 4 other people in the theater. It was a cute movie and we all enjoyed it.

And then after the movie we came home and I got Harper changed for her very first ballet class. She has been BEGGING to take ballet so I signed her up for a free trial class to see how she would do.

she was so excited

posing like Vanna

and of course Bubs had to get in on the photo op ;) He said, "I'm about to start soccer so you need to take my picture too"

so happy to see her Dad walk through the door of the studio

She kept saying, thank you so much for letting me do ballet! Thank you to mommy and daddy and bubba for watching me be a ballerina! and then begged to do it again. :) I tried to take pictures of her in the class but there was a reflection on the viewing window. She did a great job. Listened and followed along like a champ with a cheesy grin on her face the whole time. Her teacher said she has a lot of potential and was incredibly attentive for being 2. Especially considering she came during the middle of the year during recital rehearsal and had no clue what was going on. I was never in dance so I'm pretty clueless when it comes to this arena, but I left with such a full heart. I'm not sure there's anything more precious than a sweet 2-year old ballerina.



We went home to change and we were going to take the kids to Jimmy Changas for family night. And then as I was loading the kids in the car Harrison asked, can I stay home and rest in my bed instead of going to Jimmy Changas? I didn't even have to feel his forehead to know he was burning up at that point!!! We came back inside and sure enough, 103.8.

He didn't let it stop him recording himself singing a song he made up. Oh my goodness, this kid -- he is an awesome little dude. He's quite talented...improvising and rhyming as he goes along. Even if part of his song includes "my mommy is bad". But at least it's "the good bad." Haha!


I took him to urgent care on Saturday since he was complaining of a sore throat and was also vomiting. It came on so suddenly Friday night that I suspected either strep or the flu. 2 hours later we left with no meds in hand because his strep test came back negative and the doctor said it was probably something viral. Saturday afternoon and Sunday went mostly like this:

he shared his sick germs with his momma
"I'm so hot and cold at the same time"

 Rick and Harper were still healthy so they escaped Sunday to go to church. They were having a chili cook off festival and I was bummed to miss out on the fun.
 

 Monday was more of this:

never too big to cradle

The doctor from urgent care called Monday evening to let us know that the cultures had come back from lab and he did actually test positive for strep. So he finally got a dose of antibiotics started.

And yesterday Harper came home from preschool with a note saying she actually slept during nap time. I took her temperature and sure enough...fever. Poor baby. Hopefully next week will be much more healthy and fun!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Princess Claire

There is a precious little girl in our community who has cancer. After a year of tough treatment she had a clear scan, but sadly last month a new scan revealed 5 tumors in her lungs and lymph nodes and she doesn't have much time left in this life. I don't know her family personally but I've been in peewees with her at church on Sundays and she is special. To honor her courageous fight and celebrate her, friends and family organized a "princess day" just for her. Thanks to word of mouth and social media, our community rallied in a big way. What was originally estimated to be a few dozen bystanders turned out to be a few thousand. On the drive over I was holding back tears. I can't imagine being in her momma's shoes. It really makes our trivial gripes and complaints and hangups fall quickly into perspective. And then when we turned off toward her neighborhood and saw the flood of people and police directing traffic I couldn't stop the tears any longer. It was incredibly moving to see so much love and support go out to this sweet girl and her parents in such a tangible way.

Both kids wanted to make their own posters for her. They also picked out some pink and blue flowers to give her as she rode by. We had a big conversation about illness and cancer. Harrison was asking a lot of questions and it's getting harder to avoid them. He has such a caring heart. Harper suggested that we pray for her, and we did.









Watch this video and tell me you don't cry. Beauty and sorrow intertwined. 



Here is the link to one of the news stories if you'd like to read more about her.

And another local mom set up a fund for anybody that would like to help support the Lankford's. Here is what she has to say:

Claire Lankford is five years old, and has been battling rhabdomyosarcoma since she was 3-1/2. After being cleared for remission just a few short months ago, it was recently discovered that the cancer had in fact returned in full force, and Claire is now considered terminal. Doctors gave her parents an option of treatment, which would include complete isolation with a maximum of 6 months, or no treatment, which would allow her to just be Claire and enjoy the time she has left with her family. Her family has chosen to forego treatment, and Claire has only several weeks to a couple of months left to live. Her mother is a principal at an elementary school in Dickinson ISD, her father an administrator in the Santa Fe school district. Two people who have given their lives to children, only to have their own (and only) taken away. Claire has multiple tumors in her diaphragm/heart area, and as this is a very aggressive cancer, all treatments options have been exhausted. The medical bills, even with insurance, is overwhelming. Any amount would help this family tremendously, please don't think that any amount is too little. If we could help to relieve any stress financially, I think it would be a tremendous blessing while they try to cope emotionally. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.- Mom's of League City, Friends, Family & Community

Please, please, please consider donating. Even if it's just $5. Every cent helps offset medical expenses and is a way to show this family love and support during an unimaginable time.  Here is the link to donate: http://www.gofundme.com/ClaireLankford

And most importantly, please keep Claire and her family in your prayers.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Brainwashing, Asthma, & Valentine's Day

Saturday night I fell asleep on the couch. The tv was on and it was the worst sleep ever because the infomercials became part of my dreams. I seriously woke up convinced that I needed to order some Proactive as soon as possible. It entertained my thoughts all throughout the day. And then it got me thinking...with as much influence that marketers have over our subconscious thoughts, why in the world haven't Rick and I made some home video "commercials" to brainwash our children? I mean, it is a genius idea. Mix in a few subliminal messages here and there in between Caillou and Clifford about how they need to eat their vegetables and pick up their toys and listen and obey. Wonder if it would work???  ;)

****

Harper had her first appointment with her asthma specialist today. It went great -- he was super nice and informative and took lots of time answering my questions. She was supposed to have the dreaded allergy testing done today, but since she is currently in the "yellow zone" of her asthma symptoms and needed her rescue inhaler last night and this morning, he didn't feel comfortable exposing her to any allergens that could potentially cause an attack. So we rescheduled her testing for 2 weeks and in the meantime he upped the dosage on her steroid inhaler and wrote out an official Asthma Action Plan. This gives me some peace knowing that in the middle of an episode I can turn to this plan and have objective steps of what to do and when to do it (versus straight up panicking).

He also referred us to an ENT to discuss some sleep apnea issues she has. Ever since she was a newborn, as she is falling into a deep sleep she has always sighed a deep breath out and then pauses about 7-10 seconds before breathing again. She does it intermittently through the night as well. For some reason this never occurred to me that it could be a potential issue. Why I never considered this to be apnea is beyond me. I just thought it was a cute (and nerve-wracking) little quirk in her sleeping habits. Mom fail. Thankfully it was one of the questions he asked when going over her medical history. Apparently sleep apnea can be an issue in preemies, and coupled with her asthma it could potentially be dangerous as it can affect her oxygen levels. Another common cause of apnea is enlarged tonsils/adenoids. So now it looks like a possible sleep study and/or tonsillectomy could be in her future. This poor girl can never catch a break.

****

And now for a little Valentine's Day recap!

They had a party at their school on Thursday so we started our festivities a day early. I saw the Pioneer Woman cook what I think she calls "Egg in the Hole" and I've been wanting to try it. I figured heart-shaped cookie cutters were fitting instead of just a circle. I love fried eggs but my kiddos were skeptical. It was a 50% success. Harrison ate his and Harper wouldn't even touch hers. 


 


Here are the valentines that I put together for the kids. Harrison was adamant on Army men. Thankfully I found a big bag of them at Dollar Tree where I also found some heart straws. He couldn't stop laughing at the puns -- I guess cheesy is in his genes :)



They had an early dismissal and we all drove over to a local nursing home so the kids could sing and pass out handmade valentines to the elderly people. I LOVED this idea!

I tried to get a picture of my sweeties but Harper wanted no part in posing for a picture. Scratch that -- she was happy to pose, but wanted no part in her brother's affection. Which he offered completely on his own. I think they are swapping personalities here lately.

get your arm OFF OF ME!

I was CRACKING UP at my kids during their "performance." Harrison was passionate about singing his song and was so sweet about it. Harper, on the other hand? Let's just say that instead of singing, she A) sat down with her finger up her nose for a good 30 seconds, yanked out a jewel, admired it, and then ate it (barf, barf, BARF); B) laid down with her legs up in the air, spreading them and swinging them all around (in a skirt); and C) stood back up, took her shoes off, and dangled them through the banister taunting the people below her. Hahaha! That girl is such a mess.


Another reason to believe they are swapping personalities momentarily: upon leaving the nursing home, my compliant little girl decided to bolt. She's never done this before up until the last couple of weeks. She trucked it through the door and into the parking lot. I screamed for her to stop and she just turned around and laughed at me and continued to run. So I'm chasing behind her and dragging Harrison with me and he trips and falls. At this point I abandon him in hopes that he can fend for himself because she is almost to the street. I was SO. MAD. I'm pretty sure I had laser beam eyes and flames coming out of my mouth. Thankfully I got to her before something terrible happened. I carried her kicking and screaming all the way to the car and Harrison had the biggest eyes -- even he was scared and surprised. Hopefully the experience resonated with him since he's usually the one doing the bolting.

By the time we got home, this was what was going on in the backseat:


I sat there in the driveway for an hour so I wouldn't have to wake them up. I haven't done this in ages. It was only a couple of years ago where car naps were such a common occurrence and now it felt so foreign. It was such a reminder that we are venturing into a new season and my babies are growing up.

When I was unpacking their backpacks and folders I came across this on the back on one of Harrison's crafts. He's already doodling girls' names. When I asked him about her, he told me he likes sitting next to her because she's funny and she has really pretty hair. Oh sweet Jesus. Rick asked me if I'm planning to beat little Ava up next time I see her. Hahaha!  (maybe)


On Friday I offered to cook heart-shaped pancakes with bacon for breakfast and Harrison responded with, No thanks. I'd rather go to Whataburger for an egg sandwich. Well okay then, my sweet dear child, thank you for your blunt honesty. It actually wasn't a bad idea after I thought about it. Sometimes mom can use a little break from cooking and cleaning up a kitchen. So Whataburger it was!



He tried to give her a kiss on the cheek but she wanted no part in that.

no means no!

he asked me to take this picture...

my little birdies and I split a cinnamon roll. YUM!

when Rick got home he had flowers for his ladies

We made heart-shaped pizzas

And we played with Play-doh. She mixed the colors. ::cringe::

It felt a little wrong cutting this in half.
For dessert, we dipped stuff in chocolate. Including lots of fingers and a couple of tongues.

our goodies (that made it through the dipping process undevoured)



Nothing beats the sweet sugar high of Valentine's Day with the people you love most in this world.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If God is real, then ___?

The If: Gathering ended Saturday but I am far from done processing everything that was brought before me. And I hope to never be done. I went not knowing what I would hear, and I left blown away. The speakers consisted of dozens of diverse women, all from different backgrounds and with very different stories, but proposing one unifying theme. We all need God. And...

If God is real, then what?

They challenged our generation of women to come together and embrace the great responsibility God has given us. To gather, equip, and unleash us out into this world instead of wasting our lives caught up in our own selfishness. 

It echoed the same sentiment of restlessness that has been stirring inside of me over the last year. As daughters of Christ we have been called to fiercely serve our savior and to truly LOVE our brothers and sisters. To shine bright for Jesus to others who live in darkness. But are we doing that? Or are we stuck living in our Christian bubbles and as Jen Hatmaker put it, "serving saved people and blessing blessed people?"

She went on to encourage, "I want us to be awesome. I want us to be great because we fed hungry bellies. I want us to be great because we jumped into hard places where people are ruined and sold and abused and we said, 'not on my watch. If it takes my last breath, not on my watch.' I want us to be great because we say, 'I don't care if it breaks me. If it takes my last dying breath, I will not sit by idly enjoying my privileges and advantages while the rest of the world suffers and grieves and starves. I won't do it.'

This was just a tiny little snippet from one of the many sessions. I won't pretend to be an eloquent writer -- I could try to put into words everything I heard and learned but I wouldn't even do it a sliver of justice. It was a beautiful weekend where I felt God confirming over and over the path He has for my family. It was encouraging, challenging, and exciting and I'm so grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

They are streaming the conference for free through tomorrow I believe. SO much goodness and I encourage you to try to watch some of it if possible. If I had to choose a favorite part, it would probably be Jen Hatmaker, which is in Session 4 beginning around 48 minutes in. And it gets REALLY good about 1 hour in. But honestly, all of it was fantastic so you can't go wrong.

http://new.livestream.com/ifgathering/ifgathering

Also, Angie Smith and Jen Hatmaker have a few books you can temporarily download for $2.99. I've read 2 of Angie's and they were great. And Jen's 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess has been on my list for months now. I've heard so many good things about it. I'm just a little scared, ha ha ;)

http://blog.bhpublishinggroup.com/deals/b/weblog/archive/2014/02/05/ebook-sale-for-if-gathering.aspx

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

If: Gathering

Guess where I'm going tomorrow night?! I'm super mysterious and put it as the title of this post, so I bet you have no idea.

Oh, you know, just the widely anticipated women's conference in Austin known as the If: Gathering. With fabulous leaders like Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker, Angie Smith, and Ann Voskamp, just to name a few. There are 8 of us girls from our church going and renting a house together. I can hardly contain my excitement over this great opportunity for worship, fellowship, girl time, and encouragement and renewal.

I still don't really know what the topic of the conference is about, other than "We exist to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose." But whatevs! Sign me up! A few of my favorite authors and great friends? I have no doubt it's gonna be fabulous.

Now to figure out what to wear. Yuck. I'm going to do my best and not let the high school insecurities come out. What is it about gathering with a bunch of women that feels so intimidating? Or maybe that's just me? I think we should all be required to show up in yoga pants and tennis shoes. You know, the typical mom uniform. 

Props to my awesome husband for taking a day off from work to stay with the kids so I can go. He's a smart cookie and I think he knows that he will be rewarded with a refreshed and happy wife. And also a new appreciation for her after flying solo with the kids for 2 days and 3 nights. ;)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Other December Happenings

I'm wrapping up the last of our winter and Christmas fun that took place back in December. It was an exceptionally busy month this year with birthdays, vacation, and of course Christmas. This is my attempt to rationalize why I'm just now getting around to posting about it in February. Stay tuned to hear all about January in...I don't know...May or June. Ha.

Last year I bought a new tree on clearance and was looking forward to putting it up all year. I LOVE it. It is the prettiest fake tree I've ever seen. I didn't take a picture of the whole thing for some reason, but here you can see Kooter loves it as well. This is his spot in the month of December.



I moved a lot big-kid toys into Harrison's room for him to play with during quiet time. It's fun building stuff like this with him -- we make a good, detail-oriented team. :) 4 is a fun age.


Lots of fun hanging out around the house in PJs.



This was the morning they sang at church. They actually cooperated for a cute picture!


I laughed so hard later that night...Harper asked her dad to play beauty shop and put her hair in pigtails. When he was done, she felt so pretty and smiled for a picture and then ran to look in the mirror. Her smile faded into a look of shock and horror as she realized that instead of the 2 pigtails she requested, her dad put her hair in about 5 or 6. Oh, cue the drama. She ran to her room, grabbed a hat, and pouted on the couch. Life is hard when you're 2 and you have a jokester dad. :)


The kids were really into Chip Chesney this year. He was a little strapped for time and only got into a couple of silly shenanigans, but they were happy just to find him sitting in a different place each day. Harrison actually cried and gave him a huge hug goodbye when it was time for him to fly back to the North Pole after Christmas.


The kids had a fun Christmas party at school and got to do lots of fun arts and crafts and cookie decorating and inhaling. And they got to see Santa. He's a special Santa; they have had their picture taken with him every single year. He's even made 2 house visits when we weren't able to get out to see him!


 

Brody had a fun Christmas party at his house. It was Elf-themed with a pancake bar, arts & crafts, and of course an Elf viewing party. 






This next picture makes me laugh so I had to include it. Harper put on her ballerina leotard over her clothes and in the process it caused some bunching. She was walking around the house saying I have boobies! She is such a silly girl.


Harper is incredibly talkative at home but very shy around others. Usually if I get my camera out to catch her singing she'll stop because she's embarrassed. I caught a little bit of her in this next video...along with her bonking her brother on the head with Joseph. This really captures both of their personalities: Harper singing and playing and then her brother trying to steal the show :)



The night before we left for vacation, Beda & Pappy came by to drop off the kids' early Christmas presents. 2 portable DVD players, a bunch of DVDs, and their own personalized lap boards with coloring and activity books inside. Harper has always been my artist but Harrison was never interested in sitting still long enough to enjoy coloring. But now that he's older and can draw pictures and do different activities he's totally into it. His favorite are mazes.


Here is one of his masterpieces he worked on in the car, which we didn't discover until we were inside the mall. Ha!

We had our annual Christmas shindig with friends the weekend after.  I apparently only took 4 pictures, but it was a fun night.

Jon's white elephant gift

Ashley got some rainbow chip cake & frosting...she shares my love and obsession with it
We attempted to get a kid picture....
Colt's 1st Christmas
Pappy had a birthday.

We went to our local festival of lights. It was freeeeeezing but we still had a great time.




 We had some dear friends over for New Year's Eve. I totally expected to have 2 separate countdowns with little kids, but they were having so much fun and playing really well together that we decided to ignore bedtimes and let them hang with the grown ups. And hang they did! Mine didn't crash until after 1am. We baked cupcakes to ring in the new year, sang and danced, learned and practiced Auld Lang Syne to sing at midnight, and watched fireworks from our backyard. So much fun.






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