Monday, September 29, 2014

Busy Saturday

Saturday was a busier day than most of our Saturdays tend to be. David and I were out the door by 8:15 to go and sell popcorn. That meant that he was in full uniform and I actually looked decent for the day. We spent three hours asking people to purchase popcorn.
 David did very well and stayed motivated for the majority of the three hours. By the end of the day the boys had sold almost $700 in popcorn and gotten almost $200 in donations to the den. That was just day one. I have no idea what the sales from day two were, but they were on track to do the same. He's got one more weekend of selling, and then he is selling door-to-door. He set a pretty high goal for himself. I tried to talk him down, but he really really wants the $1000 sales prize. *sigh* I wonder if selling cookies is this exhausting for the girls/girls' parents...

Later in the day we went to the community's fall picnic. More of the same from earlier in the summer, only the trees were orange instead of green. We didn't stay too terribly long, long enough to grab cider and donuts, but the kids were pretty pooped after an hour and a half.

But the day was far from over for me and David. We got home, had dinner, then ran out the door again to attend Astronomy on the Beach at Kensington park. It. was. STELLAR!! see what I did there? ;)
There were a ton of astronomy clubs there, and we got to catch a glimpse of the sun through a few telescopes set up for us to safely view the sun. It was really very neat. David, who had sort of complained about going, and only went grudgingly, had an instant attitude change about the whole affair. We saw sun spots, looked at some solar flairs, and observed the corona. It was really quite fascinating.

After we went and checked out some of the displays from the vendors. LOTS of things to learn there! David learned about how a telescope works and how it is set up. We talked to a few clubs. And then we got to pick up some meteors...
 I should say we tried to pick them up. The one pictured above was too heavy for either of us to pick up. There was one about 1/3 of the size that we could pick up, it weighed about 50 lbs. In that instant I understood the term density in a way I never have before. It was pretty incredible.

After we went and learned about force, gravity, what it takes to freeze the air we breathe, and how to build a fire tornado. David was pretty impressed.
 Liquid nitrogen was involved in a lot of this. David now wants to be an engineer for NASA.

After this we checked out the portable planetarium (inflatable dome, it was pretty neat) and then went and joined the star party. They had a nifty scavenger hunt set up for the kids, so we went around checking off the list. We saw a ring nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, several different star clusters (one that looked like ET was David's favorite), a double star, and a colored star (blue, really pretty). We also got a good look at the moon and saw Saturn a few times. Some of the telescopes were HUGE! We climbed up painters ladders to be able to reach the eyepiece. We had a blast, and we talked about how amazing it all was. We are so tiny compared to all of that space!

After David got all of the signatures on his scavenger hunt he went and claimed a certificate and a prize. He also only has a couple more requirements to fill before he'll have his astronomy belt loop AND pin.

We got home around 10:30. It was an incredibly long day. But it was a great day! I am so grateful for all of the family friendly, free events our community offers. I have so appreciated being able to participate in all of these events with my family, and I know my kids love it too. We'll definitely hit up Astronomy on the Beach next year when Jonathan can go, I think he'd like it even more than we did!

Sunday, September 21, 2014


 Jonathan got older last Sunday. He says 34 feels no different than 33, but substantially different than 23.
 He requested his family's spaghetti for dinner, and cheesecake for dessert. I made the spaghetti, it was tasty. It was accompanied by salad and garlic bread. I made cheesecake with a nutmeg graham cracker crust. He technically asked for his family's "cheesecake", but that's not a cheesecake. It is more a no-bake custard thing. It is NOT a cheesecake. So I made mine and topped it with blueberry sauce. He didn't complain.

 The kids picked out his presents:
May the force of the pez be with him during those late nights of studying and long days at school.

Happy birthday, Jonathan!

Monday, September 15, 2014

When Mommy was sent to Time Out

Last Christmas I received the best Christmas present ever: Chandler gave me a ticket to Time Out for Women and the flight to Texas to be able to attend. To top it ALL off we stayed at a hotel where the beds were oh-so fluffy. I flew in Thursday night and we stayed up far to late ignoring those fluffy beds and talking. A LOT. Oh, and we got Whataburger and Dr Pepper, so we were probably a little buzzed on caffeine. Friday morning we had breakfast:

TEXAS shaped waffles!! How much cooler can breakfast get??

After breakfast we went to visit Nyssa and co. It was so fun to spend a while with them, I actually saw them more in that visit than I had in Nauvoo!! It was so nice. The kids are so big, and MXM is so cuddly and snuggly, and their house is just adorable with a wonderfully British red door. Oh, and I got to give bitty MXM his bitty quilt. I didn't get any pictures of it, so I stole this one off of Nyssa's instagram page:

I was so sad to leave them. But then I got this fantastic text from Nyssa:
 *sigh* They are my favorite nieces and nephews! ;)

Then we stopped by Chandler's house for a bit. I had to document that I got to have Perrier water. Jonathan and I have been making fun of their Hulu commercials all summer. I won't make fun of the flavor, it was actually pretty good.

We stopped by my parents' house for a bit, but they weren't home. They were actually picking Holly and Henry up from the airport. But I got to play with Rusty (their dog) for a bit. Such a big dog. And very well trained. (I want a dog....) So Chandler and I ran out and got In-N-Out. YUM!!!
 Why, WHY??? Why must In-N-Out come to Texas AFTER I leave?? Oh well. So good. And my two burger requests were met. Chandler is the best.

We headed back to my parents' place and hung around and talked for a while. Emma got home, and for the first time in a LONG time all of my family was in the old house at the same time. I've not been to Texas in four years, so it was at least that long....

And then Chandler and I went to the first night of Time Out for Women. There were some great talks, Sister Swinton and Sister Dalton spoke. But we were a little weirded out by the boy band:
 Terrible picture of them. But that's okay, you don't need to know what they look like. Just know it was a little like being at an N'Sync concert only the screaming people around you were all grown, married women, some of whom had children the same age as these young men.... Yeah, we weren't at all sure we wanted to go back for Saturday.... We decided to sleep on it (in our fluffy beds).

And we went back.
 And I'm so glad we did! The presenters were amazing! I came home with more notes about how to help my family and relationships with God and husband. It was just the breath of fresh air I needed. And I got to see some amazing friends I haven't seen in a long time:
 Like Carrie, whose incredible faith and strength has helped me a lot over the last summer. I saw old single ward buddies, friends from our old Arlington ward... SO many people. It was rather amazing. And so much fun! Hilary Weeks was a better musical performance person, and I loved her song "My Favorite Things", sung to the same tune found in Sound of Music. She changed the lyrics to reflect her favorite things with her kids. For example, "Bed time and nap time and bed time and nap time. Bed time and nap time and bed time and nap time. Oh, did I mention when my kids fall asleep? These are a few of my favorite things!" Yes. To all of that. HA!

For lunch we had some amazing Mexican food. Chandler's sister-in-law's mother (Lindsey's mom, Kelly) recommended a place called Blue Mesa. If you have one in your area GO. It was delicious. And exactly fit the bill for what I've been craving for the last two years.

After TOFW ended we raced off to the temple. Emma went through for the first time, and it was just so nice to have my entire family there. I can't wait to do that again! We went to Chili's afterwards, a family tradition it seems. :)

Sunday I went to church with my family while Chandler went to the singles ward and taught. We had a massive lunch at my parents' after church. Waffles again!

 I tried forever to get this kid to take a picture with me and SMILE at the same time. I just couldn't get him to smile, stinker.

 Chandler can, though:

 So she got him to smile while I snapped a picture of the two of us:

 She's got the magic touch.

Then we drew names for Christmas. Here, family, it is documented for us for when we inevitably forget or lose the card:

Holly was the first to go. We grabbed a picture before she took off. It looks remarkably similar to one we took at her wedding....

After I went and surprised a friend. I'd lied (sorry!!) and told her my mom had something to get to her, would she be home. She was, and told her husband to expect "Caroline's mom". But it was me. And she had the best reaction ever. She moved faster down her stairs than any pregnant lady should and we shared hugs and tears and more hugs!
I spent a whole glorious hour with Jamie, and it wasn't nearly enough time. I gave her a baby blanket I'd made for their second little girl (their doctor is 87% sure it is a girl, and that blanket is about as PINK as a blanket can get so she had better be a she!!). I was so happy to see her and meet her little girl, E. I am so, so blessed with amazing friends. I can't even begin to put into words what all of these wonderful people mean to me. We were just missing Brittany (*cough*AHEM!!!*cough*). Someday we'll get all of us into the same room again.

Then we were back at Chandler's house, laughing and enjoying time with Chandler's mom and dad, and at the last second Luke. I wish we could have stayed a whole day there! But then we were off to say good-bye to Emma as she headed back to school. And then it was time for me to go. And Chandler and I cried and cried the whole way to the airport. It was the worst. But I made it home, safe and sound, and got to hug my littles and kiss their wonderful faces.

I can't even describe how incredible this whole weekend was for me. It was a most amazing and timely blessing. Chandler could not have known how much I would need this weekend NOW, at THIS moment. We'd looked at going to TOFW in Ohio, but it was earlier in the year before all of the crazy of the year had happened. I needed this moment, to step back, breathe, rest, and recharge with her and my family and friends NOW, not months ago. It was confirmation to me that someone is really looking out for me upstairs. And again, I am so grateful, with so few words with which to describe that happy gratitude, that I just might burst. Or cry. And since bursting is a bad idea I'll just cry instead. Happy, joyful tears.

And by the way, Chandler and I decided we're going to TOFW again next year. We've decided to do a destination trip, Richmond, VA being our location of choice. We'll spend Friday in Washington DC at the temple and checking out the tourist spots, then we'll head down to Richmond for TOFW. So. SO. excited. :)

And I'm really looking forward to our Thanksgiving trip to Texas. Gah! Just a few more weeks!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Peter's big day

Peter and I headed out early the morning of the 18th to get him checked in at the hospital. He had a liver scan scheduled for 8:30. Traffic was really good so we got in early, which meant they were able to check in early. We waited a few minutes and then did the scan.
 This wonderful contraption was in the Radiology waiting room. We spent a long time watching and listening to it. Then we had the scan. Turns out everything was normal from that scan, which is a great thing. With the liver functioning normally we get to rule out lots of scary things.

 Then we waited in the pre-op waiting room. That one took a while. Some surgeries took longer than expected, so while we got there an hour before our scheduled OR time, they didn't call us back until an hour after he was supposed to be finished. So I had a crazy, hyper, HUNGRY child that would not sit still. I was grateful for the moments that he allowed me to push him around in a seat...
 Those moments never lasted very long. Most of the time I was trying to steer the cart away from people and walls and signs as he pushed it along. Another time I barely caught him before he boarded an elevator headed downstairs.

Finally we were called back to pre-op. They took all of his vitals and we waited a while longer.
 We met all of the OR nurses, our dr and his assistant, the anesthetist and his assistant. I answered a million questions, warned the anesthetist that he was a hard stick, please leave his two fingers for sucking. They decided to wait until he was under before giving him an IV.
 Then they gave him a sedative and he really started to calm down.

Finally they wheeled him off with very little fanfare. I went into the OR waiting room and was applauded by the staff and a few parents. One mother remarked that I must rarely sit down. We laughed.

In an interesting turn, a few moms and I found ourselves swapping stories. I told them that we were there for an endoscopy and colonoscopy. They grimaced and asked what the prep was like. I told them it would have been simpler if we'd not gone to the family affair out of state, but even with that we we had a pretty straight forward and easy time of the liquid diet for two days, topped off with Miralax. They both groaned and said they'd never be able to handle that. I asked what brought them in that day. One woman's daughter was having a port removed after having battled leukemia for two years (the daughter just turned 4). The other was going on eight hours in the waiting room as her son had his spine fused. Most of his spine had deteriorated from the neuroblastoma tumors that had eaten away his spine. And they didn't want MY trials. I told them I'd take diarrhea and goofy hemoglobin and prepping for scopes ANY day over their trials. Funny how we feel like we can handle some trials over others...

After my chat with them I closed my eyes and fell asleep. I hadn't even realized I had until my buzzer went off, alerting me that Peter was out of the OR. They had said the procedure should only last 45 minutes, an hour tops. It actually took closer to two hours, so I got a good nap. I met with the dr and we talked over some of the things they'd found. Peter looks pretty healthy, aside from a strange, white growth in his stomach and some stomach inflammation. They took lots of biopsies, all of the tests came back negative. So we still have no idea what is going on. But hey, at least we know it is NOT something scary.

A few minutes later I went back to be with Peter as he woke up. He is an absolute grouch coming out of anesthesia. He wanted me to hold him, but he didn't. He wanted to drink, but he didn't. He wanted to eat, but he threw his crackers across the floor. Yeah. He was a happy little tike. Fortunately we were allowed to head home not long after he woke up. They needed to make sure he could keep down food before they would remove his IV (which ended up being on his right foot, and he also had bandaids on every arm and foot, they stuck him for that IV five times, poor guy). We got off and he fell asleep in the car. We spent the rest of the day letting him rest and recover.

So all of the test results came back negative. We still have NO idea what caused the initial problems, or what is causing these long-lasting symptoms. His diapers are still soggy, caustic, and leave him bleeding. His belly is still pretty swollen. His hemoglobin dips and normalizes constantly. But we DO know that he's not dying. We're treating the stomach inflammation with antacids. We're going to keep an eye on that strange growth. We have a follow-up scheduled for next week. But for now we're going to let the little guy rest. He's been such a pincushion, no child should ever have to be a pincushion. So we're going to let him heal up. And I'm going to rest. I'm tired of doctors. I'm tired of hospitals and nurses and terrible hospital food. I'm tired of the headache and the frustration. So I'm going to just accept the answers we got and move on to the next step when we're all rested up.

And so now you  know the rest of the story.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nauvoo 2014

Jonathan's sister got married last month. We made the trip down to Nauvoo to be there. Poor Jonathan was exhausted as we were getting ready to leave, so I drove the bulk of nine hour drive to get there. Fortunately it wasn't that bad, and the kids slept most of the way. We had dinner at a rest stop:
We stopped in Battle Creek to pick up something from WalMart (it isn't a road trip until you've stopped at WalMart and picked up something you needed/forgot). AND there was a Schlotzsky's there! Didn't stop to get any, but it was the first time I've seen one of those places in four years. So I had to document the occasion.
 Yeah. It was really there.

We got in to Nauvoo at 2:00 a.m. We spent the last hour on these back country roads with NO ONE around. We didn't pass another car for that full hour. It was rather disconcerting. If we'd gone off the road no one would have known.... My mom asked me to download some sort of app so she could follow our progress and make sure we were safe. I couldn't download it, there was no service. :/

We got up WAY to early to get ready for the wedding. Jonathan ran off to the sealing while I stayed and managed grumpy kids. And I got to hold my new nephew. He's adorable. And snuggly.

Peter really liked the little guy. It distracted him from the fact that he could only have liquids in preparation for his scope. Poor kid, he was not happy. But he was pleasant while holding little M's hand.

Then I ran up to the temple with the kids to see the happy couple and take pictures. It was the first time the entire family had been in the same place in four years, and we were all super happy! And we've got the photo to prove it:

Then we ran back to the hotel and Peter went down for a nap. I stayed and took my own nap while everyone else ran on to the reception.


Before we went to the wedding we sent out a mass message to the family to give them a head's up on Andi and her quirks. Everyone handled her so well, and we had NO meltdowns! She was shy at first, really reluctant to mingle, but she warmed up pretty quickly and only hid underneath a table twice. And then she caught the bouquet!

She even posed for pictures!

And she went around asking Jonathan who all was in our family and insisted on giving everyone hugs. 

In fact, the only near meltdown we had from her was over the fact that she wasn't able to give someone a hug before they left. (Well, that and the fact that she ended up being incredibly constipated and in pain at random intervals. That produced lots of tears and screaming.)

I actually woke Peter up after a few hours. He and I wandered around downtown Nauvoo, dodged the rain, and checked out a few shops. Nauvoo is pretty. The shops are cute. I really wanted to go to the quilt shop but I wasn't sure when everyone would be back and I didn't want to miss anyone.

Everyone wandered in around 5:00, we talked for a while, then said our good-byes.

We started off around 6:00, crossed the Mississippi (twice)....

... and then worked our way home. Again, Jonathan was pretty beat. He didn't get a nap, after all. So I drove seven of the nine hours home. I listened to the entire "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" on tape (such a good book). We got in at 3:00 a.m., and no one woke up until 9:30 a.m. We stayed home from church and prepped Peter for his procedure.

Yeah. It was kinda a nuts weekend. But it was good for the family to all be together. Most of the family had never met Peter, in fact only three had seen him before. The kids got to spend time with their cousins, two of whom we'd never met. It was the first time I was able to see Sarabeth as my sister-in-law (I missed that wedding). We met Rachel's fiance, Rebecca, and got to know her some (she's adorable, by the way, with the sweetest southern accent you've ever heard). I wish Andi hadn't ended up sick and in pain (took another day to get her unstopped), and that Peter hadn't been on that liquid fast. But it was good to see everyone for a few minutes.

I'm looking forward to a longer visit in November, and again next May.