Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me... books! 

While I love visiting with family and sharing gifts, I am grateful when after all of the celebrations we can just relax. On the second day of Christmas the weather way icky and we were tired so we stayed in our jammies all day long.  And we read.  Just read. The kids received new books in their stockings this year and they were happy to read them.  The kids loved receiving new books and I think this will have to be a tradition we continue with our kids. I love having children who love to read.  

Mr. Bananas is reading his new "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" book set.
Buggy is reading her new Ramona book from the Ramona series.

Daddy and Boogie snuggling on the couch reading the first book in the Rise of the Guardians series

Boogie reading to himself while Hubby napped

My view from my end of the couch. Boogie was in this position for over an hour. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

My favorite Christmas decorations: Stockings and a Jim Shore Nativity set
Who doesn't love a little boy in a bow tie?
This year I was more prepared for Christmas than I have been in previous years.  It helped that Hubby and I decided that the kids would get 3 gifts each and some stocking stuffers. I chose the number 3 because I averaged their ages. However, someone in our MOPS meeting mentioned that her kids receive three gifts because Jesus received 3 gifts from the Magi and if 3 was good enough for Jesus, then it was good enough for her kids.  She went on to say that her kids received something they wanted, something they needed, and one surprise gift.  I love this idea and I think Hubby and I will work on giving just 3 gifts for future years.  This idea was reinforced when the kids loved and were happy with their gifts and it made things a lot less overwhelming!  My kids were also blessed with presents from both sides of our family and from family friends from church.  More than enough gifts to go around.  We also have an annual get together with my best friends from college and we look forward to getting together with them for Epiphany.

Not only were presents wrapped and ready to go for our Christmas Eve celebration at my SIL's house, but presents for our kids were wrapped and ready to go for Christmas. This was the first Christmas Eve where we didn't have a ton of wrapping to do and we were in bed before midnight!  Christmas Eve was lovely.  It was an annual tradition held by my husband's great-aunt. My sister-in-law picked up the tradition several years ago with a midday open house and it's been lovely. The cousins exchange gifts, the adults participate in a Yankee gift exchange, potluck/buffet is served, and we enjoy spending time together.  Christmas is a lot less overwhelming and this affords my family the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family and then to spend time with my family on Christmas day. It's a great compromise.

Mr. Bananas and Grandma
This year we did our annual cousin picture on Christmas Eve and it actually made things easier. We were all asked to arrive about 45 minutes earlier than the other guests. We did, the kids were cooperative for the picture (though Bananas scowled in every single take), and we managed to finish with 15 minutes to spare before extended family arrived.  The cousin exchange was very organized and each family had a chance to unwrap and appreciate their gifts before the next family received their gifts.    After the cousin exchange the adults participated in our annual Yankee gift exchange amidst lots of stealing of gifts and roars of laughter. A gorgeous set of cordial glasses from my husband's grandparents were a part of the exchange and stolen the max amount of times.  Hubby's uncle ended up with them and then graciously gave a glass to each person he had "stolen" it from.  My teenaged niece ended up with a "beardo" knit cap/beard combo and a D.A.D.D. (Dad's Against Daughters Dating) t-shirt.  She wore her beardo proudly to Christmas Eve. Lots of laughter and fun.

Annual Christmas picture at my SIL's House
Listening to my sisters-in-law talk about dinner preparations for Christmas Eve I realized that our unplanned Christmas Eve tradition has been to grab McDonald's on the way home from Mass. We usually attend Mass with Hubby's family, dress the kids in their pajamas, and drive 45 minutes to get home.  This year we attended Mass with Hubby's sister and her family.  We are also the Godparents for two of her daughters so this was a nice way for us to spend time with them. We were also able to go back to their house, change the kids in their new Christmas jammies in a warm house instead of a cold car, eat yummy food leftover from the party, and then head home.  I really enjoyed spending extra time with my nieces and sitting with them during Mass. Boogie loved having one of his cousins sit in the backseat with him to and from Mass.

Hubby and I still had a few presents to wrap, but nothing like the usual last-minute pile from years past.  We managed to write Santa a note from the kids, set out his "provisions" per Boogie's instructions, admire the lights on the tree, and head to bed.

Ready for the kids!
On Christmas morning, I was up well before the kids.  I think I was most excited to see the kids' faces and had a hard time waiting for them.  But as always Buggy woke up before her brothers and snuggled with us.  I also gave her a much needed nebulizer treatment. Kind of sad to start of Christmas Day with a nebulizer treatment, but well worth it.  When Boogie woke up he did the same thing. They anxiously waited for their baby brother to wake up while Hubby started breakfast.  When the baby finally woke up I gave the kids instructions to come down the stairs together when I gave the go ahead. I was able to catch their expressions with my camera while Hubby was able to film it. A first for the family. Usually I'm juggling both devices while Hubby escorts the kids.  Having a child old enough to open the baby gate and to have all 3 children old enough to walk down the stairs together is a nice first.

The kids loved opening their stocking stuffers and checking out a few gifts under the tree. The kids enjoyed opening their sibling gifts and gifts from family friends.  We took a break for breakfast and went back to presents.  The kids had fun playing with their new toys and Hubby and I finally had a chance to open our presents. I received pajamas that fit. It was on my list. I'm happy to say that I am wearing a size smaller and all my old jammies were falling off. It's nice to walk around the house without holding up my pajama bottoms with one hand. HA!  And as running has become one of my favorite pastimes, Hubby gifted me with a new pair of running shoes. The way to my heart is through my feet :)  I surprised Hubby with a handmade scarf in Packer colors and I am pleased that he told me it's his favorite gift.  I enjoyed making it for him and finished it just 2 days before Christmas.

O Come Let Us Adore Him!
We joined my cousins and aunt and uncle at my parent's house for Christmas Dinner. However, Christmas celebrations were dampened by the passing of my grandfather. He passed away around noon on Christmas Day.  My grandfather lived in the Philippines and I did not know him, however, my mom and uncle's grief is profound and I am so sorry for their loss. I do not know what to say or do in these situations. And it's in situations like these that I am so grateful for my children.  Hubby told the kids the situation and with their hearts full of love and innocence they gave comfort to my mom by hugging her. Buggy wanted to tell her that "even though she is sad, I love her."  Mr. Bananas saw the tears in my uncle's eyes and while he does not understand death, he understands when someone is hurting. He walked up to my uncle and put his hands on his knees. I lifted him up and he just hugged and hugged my uncle.  Children are so perceptive and I am so grateful for their amazing love and comfort.

LOVE Boogie's excitement
While dinner was somber, the rest of the evening was less so with a family rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas, sharing of Christmas gifts, and a family game of the children's game "Headbanz." Laughter was definitely needed and soothed the soul for a short time.  Christmas was cozy and pleasant. My brother was in town and it was nice to see him interact with my kids. He appeased the big kids by sitting between them for dinner and spending time with them.  My mom who is usually a whirlwind for family dinners took the time to finally sit and sat down during dinner to enjoy food and conversation.

While celebrations were dampened by the loss of a family member, we were able to appreciate the time we have together.

I pray that you have a peaceful and happy Christmas. We are still celebrating Christmas for the next 11 days and reveling in the gift that is Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Super Blurry, but you can't still see their excitement

New Books found in his stocking

New dollhouse with furniture

Enjoying his sibling gift, "Lionel"


My Side of the Family

My Filipino Relatives

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dear Santa

Boogie has been very interested in writing letters and asked if he could write a letter to Santa. This is his first letter to Santa and we said, "Sure, why not?"  The teacher side of me spoke to him about the 5 parts of a letter: heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature.  Of course after he wrote, "Dear Santa, I would like..." Hubby and I made him change the beginning to include questions. I couldn't help myself.  It was a teachable moment and I ran with it.

Thinking that I am being savvy, I tell him to list 5-7 things on his list and maybe he would get 3 of those things. Nothing like setting his expectations low...or so I thought. HA! The joke is on mommy.  The first thing on his list? Snow days.  Seriously? Snow days? It's a good thing to ask for, but I don't know if Mommy  Santa can bring this particular gift. I told him it might not happen until February and in the meantime I am keeping my fingers crossed.

The next few things on his list included a gecko feet and hands for walking on walls, a diving suit, flippers (for swimming in Maui of course), and finally affordable things like a watch and a headlamp. He also asked for binoculars. Are we seeing a theme here?  My kid loves the outdoors and anything to do with animals. He wants flippers and a diving suit so that he can swim in the ocean with the turtles. He needs a headlamp and binoculars for checking out the wildlife out of the water.

So much for being savvy. Fortunately, we can get him 3 things on his list.  The rest, well, you know.

A few days later Boogie exclaimed obviously distraught, "Oh, no!  I forgot to ask Santa for something. Is it too late?"

M:  No, Honey, what do you want.
B: I want that thing.
D(addy) patiently:  What thing?
B: You know that thing that can go down the continental slope. Not the big one. I don't need the big one. Just the little one.  You know so that I can see the animals on the bottom of the ocean floor.


D:  Do you mean a mini-sub? Do you want a mini-submarine?
B: Yes! That's it! A mini-sub! Can I get a mini-sub?
D:  Kiddo, I'm asking Santa not to bring a mini-sub. We don't have room for it.
B: Oh...

And so it goes. My son has grand ideas and would love to fulfill them, but we don't have the budget.  But in the meantime we will foster all of his passions in the best way we can by encouraging him to play outdoors and read, read, read to his heart's content about every amazing thing he wants to explore :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

She Has a Bed...Really, She Does

We have a really nice bed for Buggy. We have it on loan from a friend.  We bought her a new mattress and it's pretty comfortable. I once hid from my family when I desperately needed a nap by taking a nap in it when Buggy took a nap in my bed. Don't worry, Hubby was home taking care of the kids who weren't napping.

But here's the thing, my child would rather avoid going to bed at all and play all day and night if she could. Which leaves us with some pretty interesting sleeping arrangements. Just take a look here:

Age 2 1/2, sleeping upright in our chair and a half in our family room.

Same day as above picture.
I had taken her to her room only to find her later asleep on the hard wood floor in our front hall.
She took the time to put on tights and frilly socks before falling asleep again.

Close up of her on the hardwood floor.
Seriously, is that comfortable?

After a fun night of trick or treating I found her sound asleep on our laundry pile in our room.
Yeah, that's right our dirty laundry pile. Sigh and gross.

Her favorite place to fall asleep is waiting for me in my bed.
Especially when Daddy is away on business.
Yes, I carry her back to her room.
I have amazing arm strength carrying all 3 children from my room back to their respective beds many, many times.

In the upstairs hallway between all 3 bedrooms.
This is because I told her that I didn't want to find her in my bed when I came upstairs  to go to bed.
Take that, Mommy!
She's quite comfortable with her pillow pet and blankie.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Best Friends

I love when all three of my children play together well.  I love when they are kind to one another, I love to hear them giggle and to watch them get along.  Buggy is the middle child. I remember having concerns about "middle children" because I had heard so many stories about friends who were middle children and didn't feel like they fit because they weren't the oldest or the youngest.  I was reassured by many other friends that Buggy would be just fine and they were so, so, so right.  I think it helps that she is the only girl between two boys.

Buggy adores her big brother and will do just about anything for him. She will share her last piece of candy, she will find the toy that he has been looking for all over the house, she will give him comfort when needed.  Buggy is also a fantastic little Mama to her baby brother. After he broke his nose a few weeks ago (oh, yes, he broke his nose and that is certainly another blog post!), she could be heard in the gym childcare saying, "Mr. Bananas, get down from there! You've already broken your nose once!!!!"  She shares her toys with him and soothes him. She shares her snacks and her love.

I think Boogie and Mr. Bananas will be closer when Mr. B. can start running around without injuring himself. I think when Mr. B's vocabulary broadens and he can play soccer, the boys will be very good friends. Right now I think there is too much of an age gap and while Boogie is not super nurturing, he looks forward to playing with his baby brother when Mr. B. is older.

In the meantime, Buggy and Bananas are best, best, best friends.  Seriously.

Just this morning as Boogie was walking out the door with my mom to go to school, Buggy said, "Wait, don't forget to kiss me!" Boogie gave her a kiss and merrily went on his way.  As I dropped off Buggy at preschool, Mr. Bananas did the same thing. He went up to her, waved, and said, "Byyyyyeeee" and waited for his kiss before he could leave her. I love that my eldest modeled how to give love by giving Buggy the love she needed to start her day and how Mr. Bananas saw this and and received the same type of love from Buggy.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my children. All 3 of them!

But as I said, the younger two are the bestest friends and here are the pictures to prove it:

Saw this during dinner one night.

How sweet. This was "just because." Makes my heart so happy.

Playing superheroes together. Do you think she will always "protect" and "defend" him?

How cute are these heros?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Out and About

Posting some pictures from the last few weeks.  I love my family! I am so blessed!

She's named her winter hat, Owly. Can you tell we love purple?!?

A scene from "Breaking Amish." Wait, nope. That's just Mr. Bananas in a cowboy hat.

Mr. Bananas getting his first haircut.  Sniff. Sniff.
No more business in the front, party in the back.

Buggy getting a haircut from the same woman who has cut my hair for the last 24 years!

Bedtime stories in Mama's bed. We LOVE Skippyjon Jones.
He's our new favorite character.

Bananas and Daddy

They truly are best friends. Love this!
(And I think those sunglasses make her look a little like Elton John)


My silly family :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Welcome Baby Pumpkin, My New Niece!

Welcome Baby Pumpkin!
Almost two weeks ago, I welcomed a new niece. My sister-in-law emailed each of us and gave us the date of when she was scheduled to go into the hospital. She also invited each of her sisters and sisters-in-law to the hospital to watch as she delivered her newest daughter. I was so incredibly excited to be invited.  I have yet to see any of my nieces or nephews come into the world, but all of my other sisters-in-law have been invited to each other's deliveries and my sister-in-law L. was invited when I gave birth to Mr. Bananas. And again, she was incredibly helpful and was a good backup to my Hubby, who was also incredibly helpful.  So I was very excited to be invited to the birth of Baby Pumpkin.

I was afraid I would not make it in time. I had to wait for Hubby to come home from work and knowing L., she delivers quickly.  I thought for sure that she would deliver well before I arrived, but I was determined to go anyway.  I made it to the hospital and greeted three nieces (L's daughters) in the waiting room.  My sister-in-law MK gave me the update and I scarfed my dinner so I could check in with L.

Having seen no one in labor (besides myself) it was interesting to watch L. progress through her labor.  I could actually see each phase when she transitioned. Amazing.  By the time I walked in, L. had been laboring for about 4 hours. But, she probably did about 40 minutes of hard labor.  I watched as she was moved from her rocking chair to the bed. I saw her eldest daughter provide her comfort. They seem to have an unspoken bond and E. knew just how to provide her mom comfort during her labor. She rubbed her leg during each contraction. You could see L's husband know just when to move her from rocking chair to bed and provide her support.

My sister-in-law M.
L started to labor more intensely and B. told MK to get our other sister-in-law MJ from the waiting room where she was taking a turn watching the girls.  The way that L. started to labor I thought for sure we weren't far from delivery.

While I realize everyone labors differently, it was interesting to watch L. block out the unnecessary, draw into herself, and labor quietly, though intensely, through each contraction. So different from the way I labor. When I have a contraction, I prefer to push against my husband's hands. I think after each birth my arms and shoulders were ached terribly the next morning.  There's nothing silent about me. I grit my teeth and grimace. But L.?  She relies on an inner strength.  It is reflective of her daily self in a different and more intense situation. L. is one of the strongest people I know and I admire her greatly and I am so glad that I am able to call her my friend as well as my sister.

I love how you can practically feel her excitement.
At 8pm, the doctor came in to check her and kicked us all out of the room except for L's husband and her eldest daughter, the two people who were allowed in during delivery.  I was disappointed I wouldn't get to stay, but was very excited to still be included. M. and I headed out to the waiting room to entertain the three other daughters and wait.  L's two other sisters waited just outside the door to the room. At about 8:05pm B. came out and said L was only 5 cm. I thought that it would be longer than I thought, though I was sure she was close.  B. went back in to check with L. and I thought I would hang out with my nieces while we waited. I was also sure that someone would come get me if she started to deliver or that they would be kicked out of the delivery room and we would wait together...

However, that was not the case. As I said, L. delivers very quickly.  She went from 5cm to 10cm in about 10 minutes.  Her sisters and our sister-in-law was in the room along with L.'s husband and daughter.  One second she was sitting on the edge of the bed and in the next, her daughter was crowning.  She was placed back onto the bed immediately, M. was sent to find the doctor and the nurse delivered the baby. There was no time to pull apart the bed and the doctor missed the birth.  So did I.  I wasn't called in, and granted L. delivers very, very quickly. Everyone said it happened so fast and I believe them. Totally. But there is a part of me that was incredibly disappointed and my brother-in-law knew it right away.  He can read me so well. I'm still reflecting on my reaction on missing the birth of my niece and I will write about it in another post.

Mama in the middle of her 5 girls
I am happy that I was able to be a part of the birth by sitting with my nieces in the waiting room.  I was happy to be of service in that way.  One of the greatest things about being there at the birth was asking each girl their reaction at that moment and being to congratulate them on being a big sister and for my Goddaughter to being a big sister for the FIRST time!  It was very neat experience to be there shortly after the birth.  You could feel the excitement in the air as each of the big sisters held their littlest sister for the first time.  They hovered around their mother as if she were the flower and they were the bees.  L. was glowing and beautiful. They make a beautiful family of seven.

I am blessed and honored to have been part of this great event.  God bless you, Baby Pumpkin. We are so glad you are here. Your sisters love you and your presence has had a big wonderful impact on everyone's lives.

Friday, November 9, 2012

One of Those Days

The 3 reasons why I work hard to be the best Mom I can be.
I'm imperfect. Oh, boy do I know that.  It's only by God's grace that I am saved.  Today was one of those, "you've got to be kidding me," days.  I felt inept, overwhelmed, and completely done.  I wanted to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers and this was all before 9am.

It started off with my regular Friday morning 5:30am spin class. I've been so tired this week that it was a struggle to leave the comfort of my warm bed to make it to class. But I did, and as always, I was happy to make it to class.  I came home and showered, only to come out to find a crying Buggy who was sad that she missed Daddy before he went to work.  But she managed to tuck away the tears with the prospect of helping Mama feed the cats and helping Mama make quiches for MOPS this morning.

Buggy was a huge help, but I was already running way behind and woke up Boogie later that was good for either of us.  He woke up grumpy and started in on Buggy telling her to be quiet and to leave him alone. For the record, all she did was walk into their bedroom. sigh.

We're already running late, but all the kids are dressed and eating really, really slowly. Argh!  I get them upstairs to brush their teeth, take out the quiches and then I hear Boogie and Mr. Bananas fussing in the front hall.  And then I hear Boogie say something that makes me see red and I lost it. He was calling Bananas a "no good baby."  That was it. I lost my cool completely. I screamed, I yelled, I gesticulated, and then I broke into tears of frustration. I don't know if it's first grade or if it's growing up, or what it is, but Boogie has resorted to calling his sibling names.  Constantly. Every day. Repeatedly.  It drives me up the wall.  I won't stand for it, and I've tried various ways to get him to stop. But he goes back to it over and over again. However, I think my tears of frustration finally got to him. I told him it hurt my heart that he was so mean to his siblings.  The thing is, Boogie is really one of the sweetest kids I know...unless it comes to his siblings and then he changes and he can be really quite mean. My yelling, his consequences, and my reasoning has seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

Boogie hugged me and promised not to do it again, he also had tears in his eyes. I think when he realized that I was being hurt by his words, he realized he was way out of line. I wish it didn't have to go to that for him to change his ways. And yes, I realize, this is not the end of it.  But I hope we have turned a corner.

As we were getting ready to walk out the door, the baby fell and smashed his face on the wood floor and gushed blood out of his nose, bit his lip, and bit somewhere in his mouth. We had a lot of blood, 10 minutes before Boogie had to be in school.  The big kids stepped up while I held Bananas and tried to comfort him.  Boogie grabbed paper towels to staunch the blood and went bag to grab wet paper towels. Buggy followed his lead and did the same thing. Both kids kissed their baby brother and tried to make him feel better. I felt utterly helpless. I'm looking at my watch and worried that Boogie would be late to school, but also unable to move because the baby was so shaken up by his fall and bleeding profusely.  We were able to stop most of the blood and I was really proud of Boogie who took the bloody paper towels from his sister and threw them away. Boogie hates anything "gross" and would not have touched them under normal circumstances, but he really stepped up.  With minutes to spare, I threw all 3 kids in the car and made it to school with one minute to spare. Boogie was able to make it to class on time and even though he was a bit distraught and overwhelmed when he got out of the car, he did just fine the rest of the day. I emailed his teacher just to check on him and she was wonderful and emailed back.

I made it to MOPS and I made it to Buggy's preschool conference.  Her conference took less than 2 minutes. I spent the rest of my time in the conference being encouraged by her teacher. It was as if she had been sitting in my front hall watching my morning unfold and said all the right words to help me forgive myself and my Boogie monster.  She was talking about how we plant the seeds of faith in our children and she went on to say that Buggy is a delight at school. But having 5 children herself she knew there must be some squabbles between the kids and then I lost it. I started crying and confessed my horrible morning to her and asked if she had actually been there because everything she was saying resonated with me.  She quoted encouraging scripture and prayed with me. One of the reasons I so love the preschool that our children have attended/attend/and will attend.

The rest of the morning went by much more smoothly and I managed to squeeze in nap to reset the day.  I spoke to Boogie when he came home from school and we hugged each other and forgave each other. I wanted to impart to him that I loved him dearly, that I did not like his attitude toward his siblings, but I love him more than he could ever imagined. I also asked him to be a good role model and to be a young man of God.  We spent the rest of the day giving each other impromptu hugs and kisses.

Bananas is fine. His nose and lips are a little tender, but he's fine.  Our next door neighbor is a nurse and she checked him out for me this morning and gave me signs to look for if we needed to go to the doctor.  But he's fine. Praise God.

Boogie is fine too. He learned some boundaries today and realized he needed to change his attitude and his heart.

I'm better and look forward to hanging out with Hubby tonight watching a DVD and letting go of the day. I look forward to tomorrow and the weekend. I look forward to the promise of a new day.

I'm still kicking myself for losing my cool. I thought about Boogie all day long while he was at school. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than run up to his school, pull him out of his class and hug him, hug him, hug him and to start our day over again.

I'm not a perfect parent. I try my hardest. There are days that I hit it out of the park and it couldn't be happier and then, there are days like today and I wonder why God thought I would be the right parent for these precious kids. Even with my failures, I feel blessed. I am grateful for a new day and for the chance to to try it all over again. Hopefully it will better tomorrow. Otherwise I'm hiding under the covers ;)

Matthew 11:28-30 “… Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween 2012

Greetings from Narnia!
How does Halloween sneak up on me every year? Seriously? I knew that it was coming I had some ideas for costumes. We thought about being Wild Kratts. The big kids already had the t-shirts I made for Boogie's birthday party and I could make one more for the baby or he could be a komodo dragon (we have a dragon costume. HA!). Daddy would be Jimmy Z and I would be Aviva.  I considered making us the Incredibles as we had the right number of family members and the costumes wouldn't be terribly hard.  But easiest would be for Boogie to be Saint George, Buggy would be Princess Hope, and Bananas would be the dragon.  Both big kids fought against it.  Boogie wanted to be one of the Avengers, and Buggy insisted on being the Incredible Hulk. Ugh!

Love the little kids expressions!
However, my sister-in-law saved the day a few weeks before Halloween by bringing a costume for Boogie and explained that her son had been King Peter from Narnia when he wore the costume a few years ago. As a result, Boogie broke out our Chronicles of Narnia audiobooks and listened to several books over again as he geared up to being King Peter.  Buggy was harder to convince and even up to the night before Halloween she insisted on being the Incredible Hulk. I even considered breaking down and buying her a "Hulk" t-shirt and buying green face paint, but my money saving side won out and I insisted she wear a princess costume we have had sitting in her dress up bucket. After Boogie put on his costume and I allowed her choose her own crown, she was down with being Queen Susan of Narnia.  As we already had a dragon costume, Bananas was the dragon from Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Boogie is King Peter and Buggy is a fairy in the school parade
Halloween celebrations began with an afternoon party at Boogie's school.  We had just enough time to pick up Buggy from school and eat lunch before we raced off to decorate Boogie's classroom. I met up with another Mom (also a former teacher) and began the set up. We had decorations and a craft project for the kids.  We worked well together and we were ready to go with the flow.  The kids came back before we were ready, but his teacher went with the flow and switched some things around. We gave the kids their craft projects and they made "stained glass" using halloween cutouts and tissue paper. A big hit, but a little more difficult than we had anticipated, but it all worked out. While L. and I worked with the kids, the teacher had the students dress in their costumes. There was a nice flow to the party so that we were able to work with the kids in small groups and everyone finished a projected and was dressed before the parade.  L. and I finished decorating while the teacher read two stories to the kids. I loved seeing the parade and watching my two kids go around the school. Bananas hung out on my back in a carrier and enjoyed the scene around him.  The party was a success and exhausting.  My little kids headed straight for naps as soon as we came home.

Bananas is very excited by getting Boots as  a treat.
We had a nice surprise from the Epitos who stopped over briefly to bring treats for the kids.  It was incredibly sweet for them to think of our little ones on an exciting day.  Each kid was given s small hand-held stuffed animal. Bananas was given Boots, the monkey from Dora the Explorer. He has slept with it every night since Halloween and loves it.  Buggy took Dots (a little ladybug) with her to her cardiology appointment, and Safari hangs out in Boogie's window next to his bed. Thank you Epitos!

Boogie had soccer practice on Halloween night, but I hate driving on Halloween with so many people out and walking about we skipped it.  Instead, Hubby came home early and we ate an early dinner. The kiddos put on their costumes and I made them sit through a ton of pictures. They were pretty good natured, but totally ready to go trick or treating with the neighbors.

I ended up going trick-or-treating with the kids this year. Usually I hand out the candy. Usually we have a little one that can't go out yet and I stay home with her/him.  But this year all 3 kids were rarin' to go.  Bananas walked to each house saying, "teet, teet, teet."When he got to the house someone would hold out the bowl of candy for him and he would dig both hands in and come up with one candy. I would ask, "Can you say, thank you?" and he'd nod yes. He'd finally sign "thank you" and blow kisses as he said, "Byyyyyyye" in a sing song voice.  The big kids went way ahead with the next door neighbors, but the other mom kept up with them as Bananas and I brought up the rear. He sat in the back part of our stroller so I didn't have to strap him in. I tried to bypass a few houses, because really how much candy does a 20-month old really need? But nothin' doin'. That little stinker would get out of the stroller while it was still moving and march himself up to each house and loved it!
Even though this is blurry, I love the sweet smile shared between my Mom and Mr. Bananas

As our group passed other families in the neighborhood, we ended up joining our groups and by the end of the night, there were four families all together:  13 kids and 8 adults. I really liked the sense of community and how we all watched out for each other's kids.  After 1 mile and more than 2 hours of walking the neighborhood I walked my kids home where Hubby took over and drove them to my parents' house for their treats. My parents love seeing the kids in their costumes and answering the door to them. I'm grateful that we live close enough where we can have that experience.  I stayed home for  candy duty.

Pumpkins lining our driveway :)
It was an amazing day filled with fun and exhaustion.  I am so blessed that I get to share these experiences with my kids. Boogie was so excited for me to come to his school and help out and that made my day even more special. I loved doing things for each of my kids that make them feel special and loved.  And, I'm glad that Halloween is only once a year ;)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Her Hol(e)y Heart

We were called in last tuesday to take Buggy for her regular cardiology appointment. Buggy was born with three holes in her heart, but apparently every newborn has two holes that close up immediately after birth.  So Buggy was born with one extra hole. She is diagnosed with ventricular septal defect.  Buggy is expected to go in about every 1 1/2 to 2 years to have her heart monitored.

When we were called for the appointment we were in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, but fortunately our area was not as hard hit as others. We kept our power and stayed cozy indoors. But many others had canceled their cardiology appointment and as a result we were fit in fairly quickly and easily.

Buggy was fantastic during her appointment. She was in good spirits and occupied herself fairly well during her appointment. The longest part of her appointment was during her echocardiogram. At one point the office lost power and it took a while to reload the program and continue with her echocardiogram.  We were there about 3 hours. At one point I broke out the ipod so that she could watch a video during her appointment. The technician was happy that she could continue taking pictures of Buggy's heart while Buggy chilled out.  Unfortunately, the pediatric cardiologist was having difficulty making it to the office so they had to schedule us to come in again so that the doctor could examine Buggy and go over the results with us.

We were scheduled two days later to meet the doctor. Another 3 hour appointment.  Unfortunately, one of the those hours was just Buggy and I hanging out in the examining room. There was a miscommunication. The doctor was waiting for us to do the echocardiogram, not knowing we had already done it earlier in the week, and we were waiting for him to see us.  After about 45 minutes a nurse checked in on us and checked in with the doctor. He came in shortly after and apologized about the miscommunication. He also said, "Hello, I'm Jason. How are you?" as I was about to reply, I realized he was speaking to Buggy and that immediately put us at ease. Her response: "Jason?"  and she giggled. He spent his time speaking to Buggy and being very kid friendly. A good thing as he is a pediatric cardiologist!!!!

He took some more images of Buggy's heart, listened to her heart, and checked out her ears, lungs, nails beds, lips, and toes.  He wanted to check to see if her hole was closing.  It looks like Buggy's hole is smaller than it was two years ago. It was once measured at 3.75mm and is now 2mm.  It doesn't cause her any trouble and she can continue playing sports and training for the Olympics ;)

I have to admit that I was terrified to hear what the doctor had to say. You just never know. But he sounded very positive. He said that she has a heart abnormality, but of all the abnormalities this is the most common.  He also said, "Medically speaking, your daughter is quite boring. Which is a good thing and what you want to hear."  Yes, I agree that this is good news.

My daughter's heart continues to amaze me.  I watch her with her brothers and she has so much love that shines through.  She loves her family, she loves God, and she shows Christ's love by giving to others.  She prays for her cousins, aunts and uncles, her grandparents, and her friends.  She has a hol(e)y heart and I love her.

Praise God for the good news.  In two years we will have another check up on her heart, but after the doctor's lengthy explanation on Buggy's heart, I feel much, much better. He also encouraged me to call any time with questions. I am also really pleased that our provider has now included pediatric cardiologists in house. Last time I had to go out of of network. It's nice that everything is in house and all of the records are in the same place.  I liked the last pediatric cardiologist, too. When a doctor speaks to his young patient and not over her and then includes mom in all the important stuff, I think it makes a difference. Especially since the young patient will grow up and need to know about her condition when she is older.

I feel very blessed to have my Buggy and to have her so healthy. Praise God for her beautiful heart.