Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Titanic Didn't Sink!!!!!

...though it did fall over a bunch....

Last night was the annual Rain gutter Regatta for scouts. Kenny chose to make his boat look like the Titanic- since he is so captivated by that story right now. I thought it turned out great!!!

For those who have never been to such an event, there are two rain gutters set up on tables (see in background of picture). Then, two scouts race each other by blowing the sale of the boat without using their hands to touch it. They all race each other until a winner is declared.

We ran into some technical difficulties though because for some reason, Kenny's kept falling over. So, he came in last and was quite discouraged but it was a cool boat anyway and we are proud of him for making it completely by himself!

Also, Ellie wasn't a happy camper that whole night. Anyone else see the contradiction here in this picture?? Ha ha!

First Day of School!!!!

Wednesday was the first day of school! The boys had not been very excited about school, but the first morning, even they couldn't hide their excitement.
Kenny started 4th grade and Jacob is in 2nd grade! I know it will be a great year for both of them! They both have great teachers too!

I have come to realize though that I really don't count down the days until school. I didn't really look forward to them going back! I kind of like the easier days of summer where we don't have to rush in the morning and I....hate....homework- at least as bad as they do!!! It is always tough to help them, while getting dinner going, keeping two 3 year olds out of trouble, etc. Though the days were crazy, I kind of liked having them home where we could go do whatever and not have the extra stresses.

Here they are, excited to get to work!

The both went with backpacks and arms full of supplies! I couldn't believe their lists this year! Check it out- all for two boys:
For anyone who is curious, on this table is:
216 pencils,
2 packs of 10 markers
3 packs of 24 crayons
1 pack of colored pencils
12 glue sticks
8 dry erase markers
1 dry eraser
2 scissors,
4 pink erasers
multiple pencil top erasers
6 composition books
6 folders
2 spiral notebooks
2 packs of 70 pages of paper
6 boxes of tissues
2 boxes of freezer bags
2 hand sanitizers
1 soap
school box
pencil case
2 pairs of gym shoes
3 ring binder

and I was still missing a clipboard, 2 highlighters, bottle of glue and baby wipes that I bought today!! Crazy, huh??

I guess it is better than the teacher buying things out of pocket though. Thank goodness for amazing back to school sales!!!!

After school, both boys were very happy- they had great days and lots to talk about! But, Jacob soon crashed on the couch...
I thought, wow! The first day of second grade must have been intense! But, then, when he woke up, I realized he had a fever of 103!!! Poor kid! So, he didn't get to go the second day of school, but went back the next day feeling great!

Here's to a great year! I know every parent says this but- I can NOT believe how fast they have grown and that I have a 4th and 2nd grader! They are great kids!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can't Take Them Anywhere......

As promised, here is a much lighter post. Enjoy the laugh (though my head is still hung in embarrassment....).

A long time ago- earlier this year, I posted THIS story after we went to COSI one day as a family. Soon after arriving, we happened to walk past a group of Muslim women. They were in their full attire, including the facial veil (called a Niqab, I belive), with only a small slit for their eyes to see through. Ellie suddenly clung to my leg and yelled (loud enough for them to hear...) "Mom! A ghost!!" Oh, I was so embarrassed.

Apparently, as I learned today, I did not teach my children well enough at that time to hold their comments until later, or at least speak quietly. I had a similar moment today.

The boys start school tomorrow and today was an incredibly gorgeous day- in the low 70's- so we decided to celebrate our last day of freedom by going to the zoo. As we were leaving, we passed a large group of (presumably) Amish people- men and women. Pointing to the men, Kenny said loudly, " Mom!! Look! Why are those people dressed like Abraham Lincoln!" I am not sure if they heard. I grabbed his arm and told him not to point and to be quiet I will tell him in a minute. I tried to quietly say they were not dressed like Lincoln, just keep walking. He says "Look! Yes they are!" Again, I quietly say, Kenny, be quiet- I will explain in a minute! He says, "Oh, I know! Labor day is coming- that is why!" Now I got a little meaner because he wasn't getting my message and I said "Kenny! Shut up, I will tell you in a minute!!! Quit talking!"

So, then I did explain to him who they were, why they were dressed that way and that he needs to be a little more discreet with his questions in front of others. Ugh.... I just wanted to find a rock to hide under- yet my friend who came along was laughing hysterically, thankful it wasn't her kid. Though, I must admit, it would have been me laughing if it had been her kid.

Another joyous parenting moment for the books....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts on Mortality

Fair Warning Disclaimer!!! This post is a tad depressing, so feel free to skip it if you don't want to feel down at all. I just had to get some thoughts out. I promise to post again soon about happier!

It is late and I should be in bed, but I have many thoughts circling around my head so I knew I must get them out. I feel like this is one of those moments when my thoughts need to be recorded for me to look back on sometime.

Frequently, when people find out that I have been married for 12 years and have 4 children, they react with surprise. I often get something like, "Wow- you don't look old enough to have that many children!" Or something to that affect. In a world that frequently delays marriage and children, I suppose I am a bit of an oddity. I married one month before turning 21 and had my first child at 23. So, by today's standards- yes, very young (though my mother was younger still!). I can honestly say, I have never regretting marrying young. It has worked well for us. I never was a partying kind of person and never felt the need to "find myself"- maybe because I already knew who I was. I really don't think I would have done anything differently.

I was recently discussing this with my sister, who also married young, and told her that one advantage to this was that our children would grow up and (in theory) leave the house while we were still young enough to have our health and enjoy doing whatever we wanted with life. I have reached a point now that 50 and 60 don't really seem old and there is so much we can do with our lives!

However, due to many recent events, I been thinking a lot about mortality and how it can really sneak up on you. I worry now about what if Aaron or I are not around to enjoy empty nesting together? I have always imagined us living a long life together, but what if it isn't in the cards? I can't imagine that time in our lives, with grown children, without us both there, but what if that isn't how it will be? I find that thought scary and it has weighed on my mind a bit. As I think about it, it really is no surprise I suppose, that I have this fear. Here are the many things going on- just within the past several months- that make me feel this way:

1) Aaron has had 3- yes 3!- life threatening challenges in our marriage. 3 separate times I could have easily become a widow, yet God has spared him. I am so immensely grateful! He is, by the way, doing so much better! Just about back to his old self!

2) A little over a year ago, a friend lost her husband- who was our age- very suddenly and unexpectedly.

3) I have been watching my own father's health gradually decline. He is 58. He has Multiple Sclerosis, which has been progressing and leaves him in incredible pain every day. Recently, he has been having unexplained internal bleeding and weight loss. His iron level has dropped so low, he has to get blood transfusions. After many tests, they did find a mass in his colon that may be causing the bleeding. It could be as simple as a bad polyp that needs removed, or it could be worse.... He will have a biopsy done next week.

4) My uncle, who has always been very healthy (other than being a smoker...) had a massive stroke last week. I am not sure exactly of his age, but I think he is around the same age as my parents. He is still in the hospital and thankfully, it seems as though he will recover, but it will take weeks of physical therapy to get back movement on his left side.

5) I know of a few loved ones of friends who have been lost before their time or received serious debilitating injuries.

6) As I am sure I have mentioned on here before, Aaron and I met in geometry class in the 10th grade (17 years ago....). The teacher of the class was a great teacher and was quite popular- also a basketball coach. I have always been very good in math, but his geometry class was the ONLY math class until college that I found hard. Whenever Aaron and I remember our beginnings, we think of this teacher. He liked to joke about our "geometry romance" and we even invited him to our wedding. I just found out that he died over the weekend. He was 56. I was looking at pictures online and back in April, he was his normal self and looked just like I remembered him. Soon thereafter, he started to complain of stomach problems. Soon after that, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. By mid August, he was gone! We went to the viewing for his funeral yesterday and, because of the illness, I never would have recognized him if I hadn't known it was him.

So, all of this being said, I know this is the reason why I have been a little concerned about our mortality. I guess it is to be expected. But, ultimately though, on a positive note, I do truly believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe that God has a plan for us all and He knows what he is doing. I also believe that Aaron and I will be married for eternity and, regardless of what happens here on Earth, we will always be together. I know that I can trust in God and all will be okay, and I do trust in Him. I guess that the reality of life has been sinking in a little stronger lately. I will move on to happier thoughts!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who Needs Fame and Fortune.......

....when you have an audience like this!
My dad has played guitar since he was a teenager is very good. Once upon a time, before I was born, he played in a band back in the 60's and 70's. I have so many memories from growing up of listening to him play and singing along. I love to hear him play.

Due to health reasons, he doesn't play as often as he used to and we all miss it- him most of all I am sure. We all go to my parents house most Sundays for a large family dinner. This past Sunday, he pulled out his guitar and started playing for his grandkids. As you can see from the picture, he had their rapt attention! The picture shows Ellie and Jacob on the floor and Meghan on the couch (legs sticking out- couldn't fit her in) and my nephew Joey in the chair. Kenny and my niece Savanna were also nearby listening. He played and played and none of the kids moved. It was a great evening! I recorded a short video of it with my phone, but apparently recorded it upside down and can't figure out how to edit it to rotate it so I can't post it, but at least I got the picture.

He is an excellent Grandpa and my kids adore him! This just adds to the many fond memories they will have just like I do!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Day 12 Years in the Making!

12 years ago, I was lucky enough to marry a man who:
-is kind and considerate
-loves me
-loves being a dad and adores his kids
-works hard
-enjoys spending time with me
-acts like a kid (a good thing "most" of the time....)
-puts family first
-misses us when he is gone
-is generous

It has been a wonderful 12 years and I look forward to many many many more!

Kenny over heard me tell someone it was our anniversary today and, apparently, I had not mentioned it to the kids before because he said, "Mom! Why didn't you tell me it is your anniversary?!" He suddenly disappeared into his room for quite a while. He came out with something behind his back and told us we had to go hide in our room so he could get something ready. We were back there quite a while when he finally said we could come out. This is what we saw:You can't really see it in the picture, but it is individual cards with one letter on each one, spelling out Happy Anniversary! (he had come out at one point while working on it with a piece of paper and asked me to spell anniversary on it... ha ha). Often times for their birthday, I hang a "Happy Birthday" Banner and I was so impressed he felt we needed one too. He is seriously one of the sweetest thoughtful kids and I was very proud of him for this. He is just awesome.

Aaron's Health Update: He was released from the hospital today!!!! Yay!!! It feels so much better to have him home. He is on Coumadin and will probably be for the rest of his life. They took 12 vials of blood in the ER before starting the blood thinners to check for any kind of blood clotting disorder. Those all came back showing nothing abnormal; however, the doc said today that those weren't the tests that "he" would have ordered-that there was more they could have/should have done. But, they can't do them now because he is on the blood thinners- they would have to take him off to do the testing which is way too dangerous. So, we may never know, but he will be taking the meds for years if not forever- which is more likely. But, again- if it means he gets to stay with us, then okay!

Aaron had a couple interesting room mates in the hospital. The first was a 30-something man with pancreatitis. He was nice enough, except a bit of a workaholic whose cell phone constantly rang (and he never put it on vibrate...) and we was working from his bed. He left yesterday, and for Aaron's last 24 hours, his new room mate was an elderly man who was getting a clean out for a colonoscopy and spent the whole night pooing in his bedside commode, coughing, puking, snoring, and more. I think he was wishing for the constantly ringing cell back at that point!!! (And, actually, the elderly man's wife was in the hospital too on the same floor and was even sicker! So sad!! I hope they both end up okay!)

He has to take it easy for a couple weeks and then can go back to work and work up to normal activity. He will need to learn to get up from his desk and walk around every couple hours to help prevent clots. Also, even though he is capable of driving for 8+ hours without stopping, he will need to stop every couple hours to stretch his legs.

We enjoyed a low-key evening today for our anniversary. We had a simple dinner here at home and watched a DVD together when the kids went to bed. I don't think either one of us had the energy for more, but tomorrow we are going out!!! I seriously can't wait- we are over do for a date anyway, but especially after the week we have had, we really need it! Today, I am just thankful he is home instead of spending our anniversary in the hospital!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NOT the week we were expecting!

Disclaimer...... some of this post is past information that many of my readers know, by I am explaining again here for posterity's sake. Towards the end is newer information and an update.

Six and a half years ago, we had quite a shock. My husband Aaron was 26 years old and was in a serious car accident. Though the car was totaled, he was fortunate to walk away with seemingly no injuries. Several weeks later, he started having pain in his upper thigh. We both assumed it was a pulled muscle. At his young age, why would it be anything else?? However, it got worse instead of better. He was working on Friday January 2nd, 2004- one of the very few in his office that day. Most were still off for the holiday, but he wasn't able to. He called the doctor to make an appointment but he couldn't get in until Monday. He stood up out of his chair and tried to stretch the "pulled muscle" and immediately felt intense pain travel up through his body. He suddenly couldn't breath right and passed out at work. There was only one coworker who was even near him who heard him breathing funny and came to check on him and called the squad. That person saved his life that day! It turns out, he had had a huge blood clot brewing in his thigh and it was now a pulmonary embolism as a chunk of it had broken off and traveled to his lungs-many small pieces blocking most of his airways. He spent a week in the hospital and was lucky to have lived- we have known personally older people who have died of this! After leaving the hospital, he had to take Coumadin for 1 1/2 years to keep his blood thin to prevent any more clots or embolisms, but he was able to stop. He was young and otherwise healthy and so it was assumed it was caused by the trauma of the car accident. We even tried (though unsuccessfully) to go after the person at fault in the accident legally.

Fast forward 6 1/2 years.

Over the last several weeks, Aaron has been getting progressively short of breath. At first, he thought it was remnants of a cold and wasn't too concerned. But, as it progressively worsened, he went to see our family doctor 2 weeks ago. They did a lung x-ray, which came back clear, and the doctor felt that he had developed a "persistent seasonal allergy" and put him on an oral steroid, Claritin, and an inhaler. After that he had a few good days, but then it kept getting worse.

Saturday morning, he got up at 6 am to go to the bathroom and came right back to bed sounding like he had just been on a long walk- he could barely catch his breath. We decided something wasn't right and he would go back to the doctor on Monday. Sunday morning, we got up to get ready for church and he got in the shower. He got so short of breath, he started coughing like crazy and it was all he could do t0 finish his shower standing up. We knew this was bad. So, I took him to the ER. I think I was expecting they would find pnuemonia or something, maybe give him anti-biotics or something and send us on our way.

Ya, that would have been nice.

His blood oxygen level was about 90% and his resting heart rate over 100 bpm and his resting respitory rate around 30/min. They did another lung x-ray and this time DID find significant pnuemonia- but in a very atypical place for someone his age and otherwise good health. The doctor did a CAT scan because of his history with the previous pulmonary embolism. The doctor seemed quite surprised when he came back and told us he found "MULTIPLE BLOOD CLOTS in each lung!" So, basically the same thing all over again. He said the "pnuemonia" was either exactly that- caused from the clots being in there- OR it could be a certain kind of lung damage from the clots being in there- but either way, he got a couple doses of IV antibiotics at that point.

We didn't recognize the "signs" because they are so different from before. Before, he had gradually increasing pain caused by sudden shortness of breath and then blacking out. This time, there was no pain but a gradual increase of shortness of breath.

So, of course, we was admitted to the hospital and is being treated for the blood clots. He is on a heparin drip and taking Coumadin orally. They have taken multiple vials of blood to check for a clotting disorder and we are still waiting on the results, but it likely means he will be on Coumadin for the rest of his life. Though that is a little discouraging, if taking a pill a day means I get to keep my husband, then we will take it!!! The doctor came in today on rounds and was talking about how extensive the clots in his lungs are and that "if he were older, he probably wouldn't be here" now! They did a doppler scan on his legs to find the source of the clots, but all they found was the "old clot" from before-which is not a danger. But, the doctor said sometimes there is "new clot" mixed in with old that can be hard to see.

He said today that with how extensive the clots are, he is in no hurry to send him home. At this point, it may be Thursday or likely by Friday. I hope so! Our 12th anniversary is on Thursday!

And, as if this wasn't crazy enough- on Sunday evening, my dad picked up my kids and took them to his house in our van so I could stay with Aaron. When he got on the freeway, the tire blew out!! Luckily, he stayed safe and didn't get in an accident. He limped it to a nearby shop who put the spare on for him for FREE!! Yesterday, I took it to get a new tire on and that all worked well. It just felt weird to do myself because Aaron is our resident car expert and would normally deal with that. It was killing him sitting in the hospital unable to do it!

I seriously can not believe we are going through this again! Nor can I believe he has survived this twice when so many die from it- for that I feel so lucky and blessed and, despite this challenge, my prayers have been full of gratitude that he was spared once again. I told Aaron that God must have a reason for sparing him and that he must have a big mission to fulfill still!!!

Many have asked what we need and what they can do to help. The thoughts and prayers have been a huge help! We are doing okay and I think the biggest thing I have needed is help with childcare so I can be with him. I have been so fortunate to have so many generous family members and friends who have been helping me with this!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Seasons of Change

Over the last 3 or 4 weeks, my children and I have been able to watch this-
turn into this-
and then this!

Very cool how God gives us so many natural science lessons. This was just really cool to watch and totally blows my mind how a little green caterpillar can "magically" turn into this majestic beauty. He (or she) is now testing his new wings and navigating the world.