Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Art

Drew's November art gallery is a little scant. He had a grand total of five days of school this month due to conferences for the district, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and his surgery. Even with only a few days of school, Drew still learned so much!

A scarecrow

We spent the morning guessing what Drew was going to make at school today - and Mom guessed right! Drew's first Thanksgiving turkey!

Another turkey, this time made from a paper plate and feathers.

Drew's class celebrated Thanksgiving today by making headdresses, froot loop necklaces, churning cream into butter, and eating cornbread. Drew doesn't care too much for hats, so he refused to wear his headdress for a picture. Thankfully, little brother Reed makes for a great model...and this way we get to actually see Drew's face in one of these photos! :)

I tried to get Drew to explain exactly what this was about. I know it was a cutting exercise, as he had to cut following the lines (he did a great job). But I'm not sure what the shapes are about. Perhaps he had to identify shapes? Or their colors? Who knows! But it appears as though it was very educational. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Picture of the Day, Week 47

Our church hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon today, complete with turkey and all the trimmings. The meal was delicious, and a time of community and fellowship was very enjoyable.

Brad and I did the unthinkable this morning - we willingly took the boys to Toys R Us to make their Christmas lists for Santa! Amazingly enough, we were able to get through the store with only a few minor meltdowns and we left completely empty-handed!

I've written before about Drew's affection for Mater. He's had this book for only about 9 months, but it has taken quite a beating due to reading after reading after reading. Several pages have been taped back into the book several times, and I'm pretty sure every single page has some kind of tear in it. Buying a new one was going to be a better investment than to keep taping this puppy back together. I promised Drew I'd pick him up a new copy while he was at school today. He was pretty excited when I gave it to him. (And NO TEARS and NO CLINGING when I dropped him off today! Not sure if that's because of the Mater book promise, or because it was his snack and show and tell day today. Either way...YAY!)

The boys woke up this morning to a special surprise! My parents arrived late last night, after the boys were already in bed. We hadn't told the boys they were coming, so what a shock when they woke up to see Grammy and Papa!

Thanksgiving Day was filled with a parade, food, ads, football, and family.
What a wonderful day!

Thanksgiving is over. Christmas has begun!
I started decorating for Christmas today, starting with our tree. We only have a small, four-foot tree that we perch up on an end table to make it appear bigger than it actually is. This also keeps it away from Reed's curious fingers. We ended up only hanging ornaments on the top half of the tree. It looks a little silly, but it is going to save me from a lot of frustration and broken ornaments!

Brad did his own post-Thanksgiving shopping today, and bought us a new TV for the family room. He had much assistance in assembling it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday at Home

Our Thanksgiving holiday typically finds us traveling to Des Moines to be with Brad's family, then onto Mankato to be with my family, and then possibly back south to other Iowa locations to see extended family...all before returning home to Illinois in time for Brad to preach on Sunday.

One holiday. Two young boys. Four days of travel. Distance to travel equaling approximately 900 miles...

Sometimes, it's just a little much.

And so for the first time in eight years, we decided we were going to stay home for Thanksgiving. (The last time we stayed home was when we lived in Denver.)

It wasn't an easy decision to make. My deepest desire is to be near family, especially during the holidays. I especially want my boys to be with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins during this time of the year. Some of my favorite memories of my own childhood involve being at my grandparents home with all of my relatives. I want that for Drew and Reed.

But because of time constraints, our travels this year would have involved driving at least four hours every.single.day for four days, before making the seven plus hour drive home from what would have been our final stop. That's a lot. So for all practical purposes, we decided it would be best for the four of us to celebrate Thanksgiving here at home.

I began to make plans. Turkey? Never cooked one. Black Friday shopping? By myself doesn't sound as much fun. Putting up the Christmas tree? Maybe.

Then the phone rang. And my dad asked, "How would you like to set two more places at your table for lunch on Thursday?"


Apparently my brothers' Thanksgiving plans involved having to work and a few other obligations, so turkey dinner at my parent's house would most likely have included my mom, my dad, and the turkey. So with my brothers' okay, my parents celebrated Thanksgiving with us!

They arrived late Tuesday night, after the boys had gone to bed. We hadn't told them that Grammy and Papa were coming, so it was quite the surprise when they woke up Wednesday morning to find some special visitors! We spent Wednesday playing, talking, baking, and grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving meal.

Turkey Day included ---

watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

and Skyping with our families to wish them a wonderful Turkey Day.

My dad gave me cooking lessons for Tom...

and then we sat down to eat our Thanksgiving feast.

We set the table for seven, as I had invited Corissa, a good friend of mine, to join us.

(We even used the good silverware!)

After lunch, some of us took tryptophan-induced naps, while others watched football,

and others planned their shopping strategy!

My mom and I decided to try our combat shopping skills at WalMart later that night. The sales started at midnight, so Mom and I headed out at 10. Our store is open 24 hours, so there was no waiting out in the cold, and much to our surprise, everything was available for the taking. The flats weren't wrapped! So we loaded up our cart with everything on our lists and by 11:00 we were standing at the registers, waiting for them to open at 12 so we could check out. We were back home at 12:30.

Most successful Black Friday shopping ever! Loved it!

Friday seemed like the best day to get started on our Christmas decorating. Drew was especially excited for the tree. He hung all of his own ornaments, putting them all on prominent display on the very front of the tree!

The rest of the day included much of the same: playing, talking, a bit more shopping (primarily online!), and of course, leftovers.

My parents headed for home early this morning.

Of course I missed our usual Thanksgiving traditions.

I missed my brothers.

I missed Brad's family.

I missed being "there".

But words cannot express my gratitude towards my parents. They knew how much I wanted to be with them. They knew how hard it was for us to stay home. They understood.

And then, because things just kind of fell into place, they went the extra mile (or 900) to be with us.

We'll remember this Thanksgiving.

Not because it was traditional. Not because it wasn't.

We'll remember because it was ours.

{To Mom and Dad: I love you.}

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I am so thankful for these two monsters.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Picture of the Day, Week 46

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to living so far from family is missing out on special occasions, like birthday parties. Our nephew celebrated his 4th birthday today with a police themed party. To include the boys in on the celebration, my brother and sister-in-law sent them police shirts, badges, and a water gun. We "partied" with the birthday boy this afternoon via Skype.

Reed, my eats-so-much-of-everything-without-a-problem child, is starting to get picky. :( This was today's lunch. He didn't eat a bite. I thought some sauce for his fish sticks would entice him, and while it gave him something to do (he dipped every single piece and then returned it to the plate), he still didn't eat. Boo.

Today was Drew's first day back at preschool after having his tubes put in. About halfway through the morning, we received this text from Drew's teacher. When I picked him up, Mrs. Bland said that today was definitely his best day yet. I guess he's just busting out of his shell more and more each day. Gotta love those tubes!

Trying to learn to play with each other...but I gotta say, Little Brother makes life a little difficult for Big Brother sometimes. Reed doesn't take Drew's instruction very well, and Drew is a bit, how do I say...particular. :)

Brad was watching the boys for a bit this morning while I was at an appointment, and in an attempt to get some work done while he was home, he popped in a movie for the boys to watch.
This photo captures a couple different things:
First, the obvious....could they BE any cuter?!?
And second, Drew is totally enamored with Mater right now. As in, he watches Mater's Tall Tales every day, sleeps with the book, and quotes some of Mater's more famous sayings. If Drew were a car, I'm pretty sure he'd be a tow truck. ;)

We've had our new table and chairs for about a week, and we absolutely love it. It fits in our little breakfast nook, which is great, and it also opens up with an additional leaf. With six chairs, we can finally host people for dinner! Come on over!

Brad went with Liz, Aly, Ben and Mario (not pictured) to see Harry Potter tonight. They bought their tickets in advance and waited in a line for a while before getting into the theater. Now to wait to see the conclusion....awe, shucks.
{For the record, I'm a HP fan; but I wasn't invited to go tonight. And yes, I'm having a pity party, thankyouverymuch.}

Friday, November 19, 2010

Split Personality

Reed. Is. Trouble.

He throws.

He hits.

He makes a mess just to make a mess.

He's knows just what to do to push my buttons.

Then.... then he has the nerve to do this....

...and dance a jig...

...which has me busting at the seams with laughter!

The biggest goofball in town!

How can such a cutie pie be equal parts frustratingly difficult and spontaneously silly?!?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Picture of the Day, Week 45

I've hit a couple big sales at the grocery store the past couple weeks, and by using coupons, I saved 61% on today's bill. Feeling really grateful for an overly packed pantry...and have decided that the best way to empty it is to donate much of it to various organizations for the holiday season.

Are you enjoying our beautiful fall weather??? More of this is in the forecast for this week. I heart fall. :)

Today was Drew's big day --- tubes in, adenoids out. Read all about it here.

20 months old! (WHAT?!)
And what a beautiful day to celebrate!

A good friend (and the boys' surrogate grandmother/babysitter) left her Nintendo DS here for Drew to play with as he recuperates from his surgery. Reed is enjoying it as much as Drew is! Seriously, there is totally some kind of video-gaming DNA in boys!

My husband was so gracious to me as he stepped up to care for the boys so that I could leave the house for two whole days to spend time scrapbooking with my cousin. He was in charge of the POTDs for Friday and Saturday. He took the above pictures Friday night...I guess this is what happens when boys are left on their own! (The house did not look like this when I came home, thankfully!)

Our new dining room table was ready to be picked up while I was away, and so to surprise me, Brad took both boys to go pick it up, and then had it assembled and in place by the time that I got home. You can see that he had two very eager and helpful sidekicks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drew: Version 2.0

We upgraded today.

We traded in fluid filled, enlarged adenoids, uncomfortable, miserable, stinky (figuratively speaking) ear-ed Drew, and got Drew: Version 2.0 in exchange!

We checked in this morning at 7, at the Center for Health - Surgery Center in Peoria. We had been telling Drew that he was getting his ears fixed today, and thankfully, with the exception of having a minor meltdown when he couldn't have breakfast, he was is a bright mood. Theresa, our pre-op nurse, brought us back almost immediately. She weighed him and asked just a few questions, and by the time she brought us into a room, Cars was playing on a portable DVD player.

Needless to say, we had one very happy camper on our hands! Theresa continued with her pre-op process, taking a few more vitals and having us sign a few papers.

Next we were introduced to Stacie. She was an angel! I forget what her official job title is, but her basic job is to serve as a liaison between the hospital staff and young children. She was the one that had overheard a comment we had made to Theresa about Lightening McQueen when we first came back into pre-op and had started the movie for him. She talked with Drew about going to the OR, and showed him pictures of what the room looked liked, and then showed him the anesthesia mask he would wear. Did I mention she was great???

Our biggest struggle of the morning, it seemed, was getting Drew into the hospital gown. He wasn't too thrilled with it and preferred to stay in his clothes. I can't remember what we said to change his mind - most likely it had something to do with Sonic, his new favorite video game - but he finally allowed us to put the gown on and take his shoes off, but he kept everything else on (pants & socks).

Both the anesthesiologist and Dr. Hertenstein stopped back to see us before they were ready to go. Drew could either ride in a wheelchair, a wagon, or he could walk back when it was time to go to the OR, and he had chosen to ride in the wagon. By 8am, his red radio flyer chariot, full of blankets and pillows, was ready for him! Sheila, the surgery nurse, and Stacie (having changed into disposable sterile surgery garb, topped off with pink bunny ears) were his escorts.

And this would be when Drew got a bit nervous. Er, a lot nervous. He looked at us like "I'm not going with them" but he didn't cry or fuss or anything. I put him in the wagon, Sheila agreed to go fast like Lightening McQueen, his DVD player was placed on his lap, Teddy was in his hands, and he was off!

Mama nerves went off like a rocket right about then. I really wished we would have snapped a picture of him in his wagon (we just had our phones for taking photos) but I was in total Mom mode in that moment. Off he went, down the hall, with a nurse and a bunny - and it was the thought that he had no idea what was about to happen that just wretched my heart out.

But alas, Mama need not worry! Stacie appeared 10 minutes later in the waiting room to let us know that Drew was already asleep. She said that he was nervous getting out of the wagon, but was agreeable to it, and they were cracking jokes with him about being Buzz Lightyear (with the mask on) and being Rudolph's replacement with the monitor on his finger that lights up red. And he was laughing! He laughed himself to sleep! It couldn't have been any easier, she said!

Even Rolaids can't provide that kind of relief!

Thirty minutes later, we saw on the waiting room screen that Drew was in recovery. Dr. Hertenstein came out ten minutes later to let us know that everything went well. He said "you wouldn't believe the goo I pulled out of his ears." Apparently a lot. And thick and green and gross. His adenoids were really enlarged, he said, so he was even more confident that removing them was the right thing to do. He warned us that his hearing would probably be extra sensitive - being as now he can actually hear! Birds chirping outside might cause Drew to stop and say "What's that?" A sore throat, bad breath, and a funny voice were the only side effects of the adenoids being removed, but that should resolve in a couple days. The doctor gave us a few discharge instructions (tylenol every four hours for two days, ear drops two times a day for five days, use ear plugs and cottonballs to keep water out of his ears) and that was it.

We had been told that one of us could go back to be with him in stage one recovery, as soon as he woke up. Maybe 10-15 minutes after we talked with the doctor, I was escorted back to Drew. When I walked through the doors, I saw my baby, not crying, but eyes full of crocodile tears, looking for his mama. That would be when I welled up. I'm sure he was scared when he woke up, unsure of where he was and where mom and dad were. Suzanne, his recovery nurse (so many nurses!), and Stacie were comforting him and getting a few of his cords unhooked. I sat down in the big gerry chair, and he was placed on my lap to snuggle.

Snuggling has never felt so good.

He was a bit groggy, and still scared I'm sure, but relaxed enough in my arms to doze off for a little bit. The nurse told me he had pain meds going through his IV (which was placed after he fell asleep in the OR) as well as a tylenol suppository that was placed during surgery. We sat there together for maybe a half hour before we were moved to stage two recovery, when Brad was finally allowed to come back.

Yes, Lightening McQueen was back on, two cartons of apple juice downed, and a pink popsicle to boot! Drew continued to perk up and by 10:30, we were walking out the door.

We had told Drew that he could have anything he wanted for breakfast. He decided Culver's chocolate ice cream would be good. :)

He hasn't eaten this well in a long time. He sat quiet and still as he ate almost all of his grilled cheese and fries, and then eagerly dug into his custard. I was thrilled that he had an appetite, but a bit nervous he would overdue it and pay for it later! I told him that he didn't need to eat all of it, to stop when his tummy was full, and about two-thirds through his ice cream, he said "I'm done."

We were home by noon, where the recovery continued. He played Sonic with Daddy, took a short nap, watched a new movie, and played on the Nintendo DS that Chris (our babysitter who was here with Reed while we were gone) left for him to borrow for a few days.

Drew was also treated to these treasures - super special "you're so brave/we're so proud/feel better soon" goodies from various loved ones.

I have to say - today was the biggest Proud Mama moment I've had.

So proud of my little man.

His courage, his strength, his humor.

So so brave.