Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Cheer?

I know, it sounds a bit Bah Humbug-ish, doesn't it? But when your holiday vacation begins with a trip to the ER, and includes one subsequent trip to a different ER, followed by an appointment at an out-of-state pediatrician's office, you'd be looking for a little cheer, too!

That's exactly how our holidays began. I could tell on Christmas Eve that my throat was beginning to swell and become sore. By Friday morning, I knew I had strep. With clinics and urgent cares closed because of the holiday, I waited until Saturday morning to go to the ER (this is really a long story...I'm trying to make it brief for the interest of, well, your interest - just know that needing a doctor on a holiday is one of the most inconvenient and frustrating things ever!). Saturday was the day we were leaving for Pella, so I was out the door before 8 to be the first in at Urgent Care, only to find out that their weekend hours were switching to 9am beginning that day! F.r.u.s.t.r.a.t.i.n.g. Off to the ER for a throat swab, which eventually came back negative. Go figure, right, considering my throat was a combination of fire and swords cutting through razor blades slashing their way through a hatchet. Yep. That bad. Antibiotics prescribed on the chance that the two-day culture would come back positive, and finally, on our way to Pella.

First stop in Pella was Brad's mom's family gathering. We arrived an hour and a half late...only to turn around and leave about an hour and a half later. Drew caught the bug. Poor thing wanted to snuggle with Mommy instead of play with his cousins. That was a pretty clear sign he wasn't feeling well. That and a temperature of 102.7. Off to Brad's parents house we went to rest before our evening gathering for Brad's dad's family. (Keep in mind, I feel like total poo, taking care of Drew who feels like total poo, whilst not at home. Stinks.) After we ate dinner and enjoyed some fellowship with Brad's extended family, we crashed. Drew and I in bed together, Reed in the pack and play, and Brad as far away from us as he can get. Someone has to stay healthy!

Sunday was Christmas with the Vander Waals...and I'm still waiting for my antibiotic to kick in. I'm on a ritual of medicine that includes amoxicillin, ibuprofen, and two different kinds of sore throat lozenges (the one positive thing about all this is that I had no appetite and what I did eat didn't taste good. No problem controlling the holiday diet!) Although feeling like I was pretty much near death, and Drew battling his fever (following through on a regimen of ibuprofen and tylenol), we muscled through and had as good of a time as we could opening gifts and playing with family.

The traditional grandchildren photo (notice how Lightening McQueen became an honorary member!).

Drew was, once again, very helpful in opening Reed's gifts. A new Mater truck from Grandma and Grandpa.

Our monkey got a monkey! (from Alison)

Puzzles for Drew from DJ.

It was definitely a Lightening McQueen kind of Christmas for Drew. A blanket made by Grandma.

Putting together one of his puzzles with cousins Elise, Lauren, and Janae.

After all the fun, it was another restless night for Drew and me. My antibiotics not working, and Drew's fever not wanting to break. By the time I got up Monday morning, it hurt to talk. Brad took me in for ER trip #2, and another long story short, ended up having a blood test for mono (negative) and was prescribed a stronger antibiotic, along with prednisone for the swelling, and a bit of vicodin for the pain. And let me tell you what...Dr. Thoreson of the Pella Regional Healthcare are MY HERO! Those babies had kicked in within an hour, and I was feeling so.much.better. In the meantime, however, Drew is still battling, and our ibuprofen/tylenol routine continues. After a short rest, we got our things packed and headed up to Minnesota.

Side note: My apologies to the Vander Waal clan for our unhealthy disposition. I certainly hope we didn't leave any of our sick bugs behind for you to catch. Thank you to all of you for taking care of the boys when I couldn't. And a HUGE thanks to Brad, would swept in like the superhero he is, taking care of all of us.

Tuesday became day #4 of Drew's fever, and it was now his turn to go see the doctor. Thankfully our insurance has coverage in Mankato and we were able to get in with a pediatrician instead of going to Urgent Care. Dr. Davis was kind and gentle with Drew, and diagnosed him with a double ear infection. After feeling his glands and finding out I was currently being treated for strep, she was pretty positive he probably had that too. A prescription for amoxicillin would take care of both ailments. One more trip to the pharmacy, and six bottles of medicine later...we were finally on the mend.

That night we celebrated Christmas with the Cliftons.

A backpack full of art supplies from Uncle Justin.

More Lightening McQueen! Who knew?!

That would be puzzle number 7 for Drew this Christmas. Yep, that's right. Seven puzzles in one Christmas.

Both Drew and Avery were very helpful in opening Reed's gifts for him.

"Aw, Dad, those are my toys!"

I just love this picture! (That's Reed's toy, by the way!)

Reed loves this gift - the Shop and Learn Grocery Cart. He chases that tomato throughout the entire house!

"YEAH! Puffs! That's what I like!"

Elmo slippers. Adorable.

His three newest puzzles, done and done.

We figured we wouldn't be able to get away from our travels without spreading our germs. By the time we left for home New Years Eve morning, my mom had fallen prey to congestion and, most likely, strep throat. Reed is also beginning to show signs of illness. He's got one nasty snotty nose, and a ferocious cough even a lion would be afraid of. For now, the usual TLC of Vicks, saline solution, humidifier, and a lot of snuggles will do.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, the Dad Made of Steel came out of the whole ordeal scott free. Huh. Sheesh, what's a girl gotta do to stay healthy around here?!

Regardless of our saga of sickness, it is always nice to be with family. This was Reed's first Christmas, and I'm having a bit of a "bad mother" moment thinking about how absorbed I was with myself and with Drew. But both boys were showered with love and gifts, and I know that above it all, those are the memories that will last.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Must've Been Good Boys

I wouldn't necessarily have known it, given the toddler in our home who is well on his way to the "terrifying threes," but Santa must've thought we had a house-full of good boys (and one good girl, too!).

After having tucked Drew in on Christmas Eve with visions of sugarplums dancing in his head, he woke up Christmas morning without a clue. He came into our room around 6:30 to snuggle, and we spoke nothing of Santa or presents until Reed woke around 7. Heading downstairs together, Drew still hadn't realized what day it was as he requested to watch the Disney channel. It wasn't until we rounded the corner and he saw the tree lit up with all the gifts under it that he remembered...and his eyes about popped out of his head!

The discovery that the cookies and milk were gone, was priceless!

The next half-hour proceeded nicely, as Drew tore into his gifts, and Reed's, discovering all that Santa, Mommy and Daddy had given him this year. There's something about a child's joy. Granted, at Christmas, it might be a bit misguided, given Drew's joy was for presents, presents, and more presents, but there's something to be said about a child's genuine spark of life when they are joyful. Honest, happy, unfiltered. JOY. Resolution #1...Seek JOY. Experience JOY. Pass it along.

Here's a little peek into our morning...

Courtesy of Santa...that guy always gets it right.

New books for Reed, opened by Drew before anyone realized it.

That's okay, I guess; Reed preferred the paper, anyway.

One of my favorite games as a kid: Cootie!

New books for Drew (two of which are about Mater and McQueen, of course).

Puzzle and movie.

The ever-helpful big brother.

Stocking surprises.

Reed, meet Tigger.

My favorite photo from the day: Drew playing with Reed's new toy, and Reed (far right) seeking out his old ones. Classic, right?

There. That's better. :)

Art is intense.

Throughout the rest of the day, we played with all of our new things. Every toy has been broken in, and every book has been read.

Tradition tried #7: A sweet breakfast treat!

Christmas Wishes to You and Yours!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Traditions Tried

(I'm doing a little bit of back-tracking here, probably more for my sake than for yours. As I consider this my online scrapbook and journal of sorts, it's important for me to play a little "catch up" in order to more fully remember the events of the last few weeks. So stick with me...there's a lot to tell!)

One of the more fun things for me to do as a mom is to create new traditions for the boys. What better time to do so than for the holidays. Some of my sweetest memories of my childhood revolve around Christmas, and the traditions that I could count on year after year. Cookie making and frosting, opening gifts, traveling to my grandparents' homes, being with family. So now that it's my turn, I'm having fun giving some new things a try, and we'll see if they stick around long enough to be considered traditional Vander Waal holiday flair.

A few we've tried this year...

1) Trimming the tree - each of the boys got to hang their own ornaments on the tree

2) Visiting Santa - this was the first year we sought out Santa-at-the-mall for the boys to visit, and we really only ended up doing so upon the invitation of some friends. Never knowing how Drew would react was one reason we'd never given it a shot, but also because mall Santas - they're not so cheap! Leave it my friend to find a bargain, though. This particular Santa was stationed in an empty store at our outdoor mall in Peoria and *free of charge* if you bring your own camera to shoot your own pictures. Reed was less than impressed with the big man in red (totally expected), and Drew was a bit nervous as well. Although they had a pretty cheap set-up (hence the free admission and picture taking), this was probably one of the better Santas I can remember. He must be a grandfather...he knew many tricks to keep kids comfortable.

3) Cookie making - Drew helped me a little bit with the cookies this year. He first started out being my go-to sprinkle man (so much experience from the Halloween cookies, you know) but then quickly decided (thanks to a faulty sprinkle bottle) to switch to "Master Froster." I think more frosting ended up on his fingers and consequently in his mouth than it did on the cookies. But isn't that true for most of us???

4) Christmas Eve service at church (will most likely be a tradition that sticks...considering Dad's occupation!).

5) Setting out cookies for Santa!

6) Reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in our jammies, just before we head to bed on Christmas Eve.

We'll see what else we come up with as the boys grow older and we continue to revel in the things that make us "us."

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Meet Jessica, one of the cutest little girls on the planet (I say that a lot about little girls...probably because I'll never have one, but if I do, she will be the cutest little girl in the entire universe!). :) Jessie has been a part of our daily lives since the end of August when her mom, dad, and two older siblings started the new school year. I watched her for a few hours three days a week up until this last Friday, when her mom finished classes for the semester.

My decision to become employed (sort of) again was three-fold. One, I wanted to do our friends this favor; take care of Jessie so her parents could take college classes and not worry about their youngest child. Second, I wanted to provide Drew the opportunity to socialize with other kids his age on a more consistent basis. And thirdly, the little extra cash flow was a nice addition to my pocketbook. :)

Let me just back-up a second...Jessie turned two in October. So that's one, two, three kids under the age of three, in my house, with me, alone, three days a week. Oh.My.Goodness. For those of you who have three or more children of your own that are under the age of three, my hat is off to you. Holy Cow. If I ever hear anyone, anyone, say that being a stay-at-home parent, or teacher, or child care worker in any capacity is a lax job, they've got one coming to 'em! Talk about work! Chasing, separating, entertaining, refereeing, mending, hugging (that part's not so bad), feeding, changing, rotating, fixing, crying (usually me, not them), story-telling, and scheduling kept me mighty busy!

Drew's experience with Jessie was a positive one, I hope. Like any typical two-year-old, he looked forward to her coming over, but once she was actually here, had some sharing/possession issues. I'm hopeful he's beginning to learn some lessons about working with others so when the time comes to enroll in preschool, he'll have at least a tiny hint of appropriate behavior (HA! a mother can dream, right?!). And I hope that Jessie's experience with us was positive as well. I know it was new to her to acclimate to our home and our boundaries, as well as it was for all of us to get used to having another toddler (and a girl!) around our home. As for next semester, Jessie's mom is taking online courses so she won't need me to watch Jessie anymore. Perhaps a few playdates here and there. Somehow, though, I think Drew will be okay with that. Reed's beginning to take on the role of "pesky little brother" quite well. Drew will have his hands full!

A sweet moment (this was back in September, when they were still getting use to each other...and still wanted the other around!)

I managed the best I could! Line 'em up, drop your drawers!

Our last official day together.

Jessie's older sister Bekah (she's the one who wants to marry Drew), Reed, Drew, and Josh (Jessie's older brother). At the end of August, I watched all five of these kids for a couple days. Whew!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Body Art

When Boy and Blue Pen Collide

When Baby Boy Collides With Black Pen in Hand of Big Boy After Mother Has Already Instructed Big Boy to Put the Pen Down

Thursday, December 10, 2009

9 Months Old

Current stats:

24 pounds
29 1/2 inches tall
48 3/4 cm head circumference

A month full of milestones:

says "Mama"
first and second teeth
feeds himself finger foods
pulls himself up to stand

"Could I be any more comfy?"

Pictures of these three never get old.

Beginning to play contentedly on his own (notice how I still snuck the picture from behind, though, so I could get a few more things done before he came looking for me!)

Reliving a moment from Uncle Justin's youth.


Catching a glimpse of the first snowfall (well, Reed's trying, at least).


"Hey bottle, you sure there's no more in there?!?!"

I hope they are this willing to help in about 10 more years.