Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

It may be Halloween but there weren't many festivities around here today.  Yesterday, however, was loads of fun at our church's Pumpkin Patch festival.  I had to work (boo!) but the boys enjoyed the games and treats.  I have to say that I put off making the boys Halloween costumes until the last minute.  I had the ideas but the actual execution waited until Friday morning.  This month can be summed up in one word: survival! I am sure we have all been there.  I am just glad one costume only required gathering a few things from around the house and a few slight alterations.  Travis decided on being a policeman and Nana gave him a police outfit last Christmas, so that worked well.  I just had to shorten the pants and sleeves about 6 inches each.  No kidding.  Did I mention we live in the land of the little people??  Travis decided that his fire boots would go well with the ensemble, and who was I to disagree?  (That is truly the best $10 I think I have spent!)  And since Justin does such good muscles, we opted for Samson for his get-up.  I sewed "hair" onto a headband and sewed batting into a t-shirt and gave him a six-pack and Randy added the finishing touch: his name on the head band!  Everyone "got it" when they read his head.  And Justin played along.  I really thought he would pull it off right away but not so.

Randy said that the festival was very busy so he didn't get any pictures, so the ones in the parking lot will have to suffice.  Justin is going to be a full-fledged walker before you know it!

This is supposed to be Justin showing his muscles.  You'll have to imagine!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010


My mom just left to return home to Wisconsin.  Since her mastectomy the beginning of the month it's been crazy!  We have been to the doctor so many times, and my kids had to get in their share too.  We also are having our house painted, so the workmen have our garage full of supplies and they are banging on the side of the house as they repair the siding.  We have been napping at alternative locations for most of the week, and we even tried the "family nap" with us all in the same bed since Justin does not like other beds.  I found that I have to sleep between the boys or they mess with each other to avoid falling asleep.  I am slightly curious to find out what would happen if I left just the two of them alone in a big bed.  Not curious enough to try it though!

We also had my mom's friend, Sharon, in town during surgery and healing.  She and my mom stayed at my in-laws house because it was quieter than our house (especially with the workers!)  And they had the whole upstairs to themselves!  I am in awe of Sharon.  While I don't think it's right to reveal a woman's age, she is over 70 and she has the energy of a 50 year-old.  She was the perfect companion for my mother during this time.  She spend the night in the uncomfortable recliner in the hospital the night after surgery.  She emptied and redressed my mom's drain every day while it was in place, and then dressed the incision after that.  She cared for my kids when my mom and I headed to the doctor after surgery.  She sat with us when we heard that my mom would need chemotherapy.  She and my mom even did my laundry every Tuesday!  That was the last thing she said to me when she left: "You're going to have to do your own laundry next week!"  My mother-in-law said that Sharon was the best person to be here with my mom during this month.  I agree.  She was the perfect calming problem-solver that counteracted our impulsive scattered selves.  And my kids love her.  We are going to miss her a whole bunch, but we know that her family is glad to have her back.

So many things changed this month.  I am forever glad that God doesn't reveal all the events of our lives from the beginning.  I would have checked out a while ago!  But I am am amazed at the preparation that he provides, especially for our darkest days.  I was talking with an 80-something friend of mine last month and she told me how when she was in her 60s she got a job that required her to do a lot of driving around the area.  It ended up being a lot wider of an area than what she had expected, but when her husband go sick and needed care in the Medical Center, she was prepared.  She felt comfortable driving back and forth every day by herself for 7 months.  Wow!  And God knew that we would need to drive that road a lot and my car goes there by itself!

I am a little hesitant of that preparation now.  It is wonderful to be able to look back and see how God has worked, but as I see his preparation and the results come more quickly one after the other, I am getting a little nervous.  I see things happening around me and I am scared that God is using them to prepare me for something I don't want to experience.  If I shun certain experiences, am I denying God's preparation because it's going to happen anyway or will he choose another way to prepare me?  Do I have the choice?  Should I make the choice?  Sometimes I feel like I am blindly stumbling from decision to decision and I am missing the point.  Sometimes I wonder how God can trust me to make any decision at all!  My track record is less than stellar.  Let me just say that I am so grateful for grace.  Travis is going to recite his memory verses from the past two months in front of church this week and the verse from September was "Nothing can separate us from God's love" (Rom. 8:39)  We have been talking about this a lot and it's been neat to watch the wheels turn in his head to imagine what God is like that he will always forgive us.  It's been encouraging for me too.  Pretty cool how God send little reminders in ways we don't expect.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caramel Apples

We made caramel apples this week for Halloween. From scratch.  Two years ago our friends, Kelsey and Chris invited us over to their home to make caramel apples and after we ate them, there was no going back.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Delicious doesn't even begin to describe how tasty these apples are.  Kelsey made the caramel and we helped dip and package the apples.  A long process, but the kids played and we talked, so it was fun.  This year was my first solo attempt and while I enjoy cooking, Kelsey and I practice different cooking styles.  See, Kelsey is a by-the-book recipe follower.  She uses measuring cups, the appropriate sized bowl, the exact ingredients, and prefect timing for everything.  I tend to be an eye-ball estimator.  I rarely use measuring spoons, I often substitute or omit based on availability, and experimentation is the name of the game.  If a recipe calls for a onion and Kelsey doesn't have a onion, she would go to buy one or not make the recipe.  I would substitute minced onion, onion powder, or just leave it out!  Her method creates scrumptious caramel apples, but my method was untested.  I was worried because this recipe calls for using a candy thermometer and seemingly exacting ingredients and amounts.  I reigned myself in and pulled out every measuring device I own and put them all to good use.  Except for the vanilla.  I figured I could fudge on one ingredient without messing up.  I was right!  In case you didn't know (I didn't!) this is what makes yummy caramel (except the hand soap in the back):

 Lots of heating and stirring.  LOTS.

So the best part!  We probably could have covered another two or three apples with caramel, but it's much better to cut them up and dip them while the caramel is hot.

Finished and in the fridge.  We did some plain and some with pecans.  Mostly because I forgot to buy other "toppings" at the store and I had lots of pecans in the freezer.  And I was too lazy to chop them up very much.  See what I mean about experimentation??!!

All wrapped and ready for delivery.  We took some apples to Justin's therapy to share with Miss Caroline, Miss Penny, Miss Sarah, Miss Melissa and the rest of the gang.  We heard they wrote their names in them so their would be no mistaking its owner!

I have been giving the boys caramel apples to go with their lunches this week.  Travis loves it but Justin doesn't like the chewy stringiness of the caramel.  Too bad.  More for me!

Friday, October 22, 2010


We have been busy, busy, busy!  Here's some of what we've been doing:

  • Justin is doing great in therapy.  (I LOVE that I can say that pretty much all the time now!)  Today Miss Penny taped his torso (abdomen and back) and he took 30 steps!  Consecutively!  He would crouch down like he wanted to crawl and she would say, "No, no, we're going to keep walking"  and he would keep going!  So proud of little guy!
  • Miss Caroline evaluated him for OT recently and his "scores" jumped again!  His grasping jumped 7 months of progress and his visual motor integration skills jumped 4 months (in 6 months' time).  Yeah!  The evaluation tests skills and when he can't do three in the row on the list she has to stop, and there were lots of times where he couldn't do a couple and then he could, so she had to keep going.  Good stuff!  This means he has scattered skills way beyond what the scores say.
  • We have been rocking on the potty training.  No need for specifics, but way better than I would have thought.  He is interested and loves doing what big brother is doing.  We probably have a ways to go, but that's okay!
  • Travis did awesome at the dentist today.  He let the hygienist clean his teeth - YEAH!  I did resort to a threat and a bribe, but I don't think I caused irreparable harm.  The first time is the hardest, right??
  • We went to the ENT to follow-up on Travis' tonsillectomy.  He is still snoring, but I haven't been able to tell if he is still holding his breath like he was before. I am supposed to watch him sleep and see how he does.  If he still has problems, we can go to the sleep clinic or have a sleep study.  Nothing is happening until January for sure!  Too much on the schedule now.
  • I think Justin was jealous that we went to the doctor every day this week, and none of the appointments were for him.  So he got an ear infection this morning so he could have his turn too.
  • My mom's breast cancer is going to require chemotherapy.  That will probably start toward the end of next month.  They need to do a few more tests first.
  • We visited the Rise School this week. We are considering it as a possibility for Justin.  Right now we are on the waiting list, which gives us time to evaluate our options.  It is very far from our house, but very close to Randy's work.  And it is expensive.  Like college tuition expensive.  For preschool.  It all makes my head spin.  Like everything, is the good worth the bad that comes with it?
  • The weather is getting wonderful!  We love being able to take walks without sweating and go to the park and play for more than ten minutes without needing a drink of water.
  • Travis has the very best imagination ever!  Whatever he sees or reads becomes a game for us to play.  We were miners while we watched the miners being rescued; we recreated the story of Felipe Petit who walked on a high wire between the Twin Towers after we read the book; we were detectives after reading stories of the Boxcar Children.  It makes me laugh!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sick, Sick, Sick

We have been sick at our house this week.  We started with the sniffles last week, but Justin woke up Monday morning barking and wheezing and we knew it was time for our first night trip to the ER.  Fortunately it was already 5 am, which for us is actually closer to morning than for most.  We woke Travis, who was ready for adventure, piled into the car and headed up to the closest hospital we knew has a pediatric ER.  All of us went because we weren't sure Justin would be calm enough by himself in the backseat with only one of us driving, and truthfuly, I knew if we woke up Travis and took him with us we would be sure to get a good nap out of him later that day.  So we all arrived at the ER and I walked in and Justin did his bark cough and the nurses at triage said, "Ahhh, croup."  Fortuanately it was a quiet night and we were assessed and in a room quickly.  I think it helped that Justin has a (repaired) heart defect.  That sort of thing scares doctors when it comes to breathing issues.

Because it was so quiet, things happened quickly and a respitory therapist was in to give Justin a breathing treatment within a half hour.  It had been a while since he has had a mask on his face so he required singing therapy to get though it.  First I started with his favorite, Jesus Loves Me, and he decided to skip his usual "muscles" when Jesus is strong.  Then I moved on to "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and by then he was mostly calm, but the therapist said, "Oh, that's my favorite song" so I kept going.  She had had a busy night and somehow I think the song was for all of us.

After the breating treatment Justin got some steroids and we hunkered down in our little room in the ER to make sure Justin's breathing improved.  If it hadn't improved, we would have been in for a trip down to Texas Children's.  The doctor went and got Travis and Randy from the waiting room and explained what was happening.  We had to wait four hours to ensure Justin could breathe and didn't get another flare up.

So we waited.  I had thrown in some breakfast bars and cups of water for the boys so we started with that.  The plan was four people, four bars.  Sippie cups with water for the boys, plan to get coffee for mommy and daddy.  Well, Travis is doing some growing so he ate two bars, Justin ate his one, and Randy and I split the last one.  Except Justin ate half of my half.  And we still hadn't found coffee yet.

The boys were the hit of the ER.  The doctor brought them each a silly band (dinosaur shapes).  Then we cranked up the TV and watched a completely unprecedented amount of television over the next two and a half hours.  During that time the doctor brought in popscicles for the boys.  At 8:30 am.  What do you say?  Travis is loving the ER by this time!

Finally Randy's stomach was rumbling and we were nodding off to the tunes of Handy Manny.  (A marathon, none the less...)  Justin was feeling better and crawling around on the bed and pulling his pulse ox monitor off, setting off the alarms.   The nurse brought another pulse ox monitor and Randy headed out to search for breakfast and coffee.  He returned, I drank my first sip, and the nurse came in and said that we were free.  We got our discharge instructions and we headed to the pharmacy to fill Justin's prescription.  Good thing...the boys were starting to eye our muffins!

Justin is much better and Travis is recovering from his cold too.  But they gave it to me.  Affection can backfire sometimes.  Especially when it comes in licks.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Much Needed Rest

We spent last week in Port Aransas, by Corpus Christi.  It was a family affair; my brother and his girlfriend came plus my sister and her husband and my mom.  We stayed in some condos on the beach and we spent lots of time playing on the beach and in the water.  Both our boys are beach babies.  They have loved baths, sprinklers, hoses, pools, and especially the ocean since they were born.  The beach combines two of Travis' faves: water and digging.  He indulged in both the whole week!  And Justin really held his own against the waves and other obstacles.  He never ventured too far in, but he loved watching the waves swirl around him.


We spent one morning at the Aquarium in Corpus Christi.  It was just the right amount of adventure for our laid-back gang.  Justin is watching a sting ray here.  He was telling Randy all about it!

We watched a diver feed some of the fish in the tank and then we were able to take a picture with her afterwards.  It was interesting watching the diver communicate with the person talking with us outside.  She used lots of signs that we understood!  And then at the end she signed to us that Justin was really funny because he kept putting his mouth on the glass and licking it.  That's the kind of thing you want to get noticed!

Here is everyone watching the fish in one of the bigger tanks.  Both boys really enjoyed the fish.  Justin even tried "chasing" them.  It was a close race!

Justin did a little walking around.  He is getting really good at this!

This is my brother Jon and his girlfriend Olivia.  They were petting sting rays here.

Here we are ready to watch the dolphin show.  Olivia loves dolphins so this was one of the favorites. 

One of the days we rented golf carts to drive on the beach.  These are the electric carts that are painted with various designs.  This is the Aggie one we would have gotten, if the rental place had been open!

These are the ones we got instead.  Perfect for cruising the beach and having a picnic lunch.

We even strapped Justin's car seat in the second row and I squeezed along side of him.  We didn't go very fast, but it was fast enough for a certain little boy to fall asleep!

Too cute!!

He perked up when we found the perfect tide pool for lounging, digging, swinging, riding the skim board, and swimming.

This is back in front of our condo.  I think this might be my favorite picture of Justin.  He loved driving this truck across the sand.  He is kissably sweet!

And we learned why we don't build our house on the sand like the foolish man!

Both boys love swinging and Jerry is quick to oblige.

But this is what happens when you swing upside down...

Justin got cold from the water and wind so he needed some cuddle time with Uncle Jerry.

This is in front of one of the stores in town.  It's a shark of course, but Travis pretended to be Jonah in the whale!  Those were some pretty serious teeth!

When it was time to pack up and get ready to go home, the boys helped by pretending to sleep on the pad for Justin's pack and play.  Good helping!

It was a good vacation with family who we don't get to see very often.  We taught Travis how to play Yahtzee and Rummikub, and he did very well.  Sleep was still a problem, but having extra hands made it better.  The mosquitoes were horrible and we all ended up being bitten more than once.  The boys started complaining about being covered in sun screen and then bug spray.  The mosquitoes knew where to lurk, and their favorite spot was where we cleaned off after coming up from the beach.  Vicious little buggers!

Friday, October 8, 2010

When I Was a Little Boy...

Conversation the other day when we were coming out of the store:

Travis:  Mommy, when I was a little boy, I wasn't a very good helper, was I?

Me:  Oh, Travis, you have always been a good helper, but when you were little, you just helped in different ways.

Travis:  So you mean I have always been a good helper?

Me:  Most definitely.

And Travis went skipping off to the car, smiling, and very proud of himself.

Good thing he's all grown up now, don't you think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Taking Care of Business

Today is surgery day and I have been awake since 4 am when Travis had to got to the bathroom. We've been at the hopital since 6 am.  My mom was whisked off to surgery and now we are waiting.  I came down with her on Tuesday to do some of her pre-op appointments and nothing went according to plan.  The appointments all ran late and none of the test results came in on time so we had to reschedule for yesterday.  We found ourselves with time to spare before we had to make an airport run.  My mom was in desperate need of a haircut and I wanted to find some pie pumpkins so we made a stop and managed to do both in record time.  We still had time so we decided to get pedicures.  If anyone had told me that my day would end with a spa pedicure I would have laughed!  I haven't had a pedicure since my sister's wedding, but God knew that we needed some calming relaxation and he supplied.  Travis said last night in his bedtime prayer that God gives him everything he needs and I smiled and thought, "Even when we don't ask!"
It turned out to be a good day and it gave me the little lift I needed to be ready for today.  I was able to visit our neighbor who just returned home from her surgery earlier this week and she was in such good spirits.    It is good to have confidence and know that God is in control.  That makes all the difference.  Keep praying for us.  We feel it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

September Follow-Up/ October Requests

Fall is here and the weather is starting to cool!  We love it!  We're excited for the holidays and the end of the year.  So many exciting things are coming with the new year.

  • Rest!: We got it!  We had a vacation last week and spent the week at the beach.  We had some issues with sleep (boys' lack of...) but we made it through and we enjoyed the break in routine.  The very best part: coming home to a clean house and mowed lawn (I paid for someone to help us out knowing that this next week is going to be tough).
  • Travis back to 100%!  He is eating everything and no complaints about anything.  SO glad that is over!
  • Justin is walking more and more every day.  He is able to hold on to one hand and walk (rather than needing two hands of our hands to stay up).  He took 10 steps today, which is a new high!  He stands up several feet from where he wants to be and walks the last few feet.  He is so cute to watch as he hobbles along.

  • My mom's surgery:  It will be this week already and she needs prayers for a stress test tomorrow.  She needs to be cleared for surgery and we really want her to be okay, so this is important.  Please pray for everyone who will be caring for her: doctors, nurses, her friend Sharon, and me!
  • My work:  Of course, the merger with the Continental and United was approved and now we are in the midst of transition.  Nothing significant has happened, but soon we should know about some changes that could really affect my job.
  • Potty Training: I have decided to start working on Justin.  We are just getting used to sitting on the potty before getting in the bathtub.  I had to clean the bathtubs twice in one night and I am hoping to get past that!  We lasted about 1 minute tonight. Justin is looking up to Travis in everything he does, so I am hoping to use that to my advantage.