Wednesday, December 28, 2011

He Nibbled The Cheese!

Christmas was incredible with our family this year!  The kids are at an age that I could run the video camera non-stop... they were truly excited, and surprised, and intrigued, by just about everything... which made for priceless memories!

Christmas Eve we were battling some illnesses, so decided to stay home.  (Yes, you will see Samuel with oxygen... more to come, but he's doing okay.)  The kids were psyched to open up some great sleeping bags, maybe even more thrilled they had their names on them, and spent a while making sure each of them was cozy :)  Bedtime was easy, because of course they really didn't get that Santa was coming that night!

First thing in the morning they were shocked to find a little train set in their room, and couldn't believe Santa had been in their room, it clicked :)  Having no clue there was more waiting, they played in that room for a long time.  That could have been it for presents and they would have been completely satisfied... I cherished that part about this Christmas, ha ha!

Whoa... love it!

Me too!  Mommy, I need a bow (direct quote) :)

Samuel enjoyed the train, but his excitement peaked with this shopping cart!  The kids have one outside, so we were really surprised at how much joy Samuel found in it... he pushed it, and bear, around all day.  Pausing just long enough to give bear kisses and put him back in the seat :)

George and Olivia were thrilled that Santa ate ALL of his cookies,
leaving only the crumbs, and that Santa Mouse had nibbled on this cheese! 
They still love to tell that story :) 

We had a nice, leisurely breakfast because, again, they had no idea the presents under the tree were for them, much less that we would be opening them that morning.

All three kiddos enjoying the same toy at the same time, now THAT is great!

Every present came with a huge smile!
Yes, Samuel is taking a little rest in the back... his energy was on and off most of the day.  But like I said, every day he got better and better.

George and Olivia helped each other, and everyone else open presents.  As you can see, no matter who the present was for, they thought it was just awesome!  Who knew Olivia would be so excited that George got some new PJ's?!  Ha!

The barn was one of Samuel's favorites...

... especially the new animal friends inside :)

The kids enjoyed their after dinner treat, singing
Happy Birthday to Jesus with their Reece's Cups :)

By the end of the day, we all passed out happy and content :) 
Thankfully it was only Samuel who did so on the kitchen floor!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Cheers to 2012!

What a difference a year makes... can't wait to see what this one has in store!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Deck the Halls

Decorating for Christmas was a fast favorite among our crew!  Once again, we were invited to help Omi hang the ornaments on her tree... and this year the ornaments were better than the tissue :)  (Last year.)  In addition, the kids went along for the ride to pick out Christmas trees twice and had a blast.

One of the most common phrases in our house after the tree went up was, "no touch!"  Samuel loved the tree, and loved inspecting it as often as possible, and at first loved pulling on the branches and ornaments a little too rough :)  He quickly learned the best ways to get as close to the tree as humanly possibley, many times with branches poking him in the face, without touching it - ha ha!  It was priceless.

It's so much fun to watch them grow... but man, some times it feels like they're getting too big, too quickly!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa and Samuel

Samuel's school has officially, completely, spoiled him and his classmates :)  You may remember Halloween, and Christmas has once again blown me away.  First, Santa came to visit... the photos say it all.  These kiddos had the best time getting photos with Santa, and I know how much the parents appreciated the chance to do something like this.  A few posts ago I talked about being thankful and not taking things for granted... while Samuel is healthier this Christmas, I remember how it feels to have a child you can't take in group settings, which generally means not doing things like Santa Claus.  What a great opportunity this was!

Second, one of the companies who went over and above during the Halloween festivities, dressing up to come and give the kids their goodies, threw them a little Christmas party!  Each kid had a handful of secret Santa's, and they even hired a puppeteer for entertainment.  I was blown away.  Actually, Mo and Do were blown away :)  I couldn't make it to everything (the commute is just a killer), but it worked perfectly because Mo and Do were in town and were able to take Samuel and be part of the fun.  Love how things work out!

The Day Santa Visited
Couldn't resist a few classroom photos - such a handsome boy!

Don't worry Samuel, she's not trying to steal your toy - ha ha!

There is one friend he doesn't mind sharing with...
can't believe they're sitting in the same chair :)

Hi!  I think I like you...

... pretty cool fur on your coat...

.... love the beard...

... this guy is great!

The candy canes made for great decorations,
and I thought they may even tempt Samuel to take a lick...

... but mostly they were just fun to crunch into 100 little pieces :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Adventures

This Christmas is entirely different than last Christmas at our house!  I'm guessing most parents of nearly-three year olds say that, their level of understanding has quadrupled in the last year, but it is so much more than that for us.

I am loving watching my children enjoy this holiday season!  Just as they really began to understand birthdays in the last six months or so, they are really feeling the excitement of Christmas.  We're in a perfect place right now (although I completely understand it may change by next week)... they think Santa is so great but have no idea what he does, and they are so excited that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus' birthday :)  I love it! 

Olivia woke up one morning last week and excitedly asked me if today was Jesus' birthday.  When I replied that no, it was not today, she said that while that was okay, she already sang happy birthday that morning.  "Christmas like a child" is right, can you imagine if none of us knew we were getting presents on Christmas?!  Where would our joy be focused?!  They love the decorations, they love the songs, they can feel the excitement, and they are so excited for THE birthday.  Makes me smile :)

As I mentioned, this year is more than the traditional differences of kids growing up and getting wiser... this year we are out and about!  First, it's crazy that it's only been a year since Samuel started crawling, and now he's trying to run!  I remember the incredible feeling of watching him finally learn to crawl - it opened up his entire world.  We are definitely enjoying his newest mobility, walking, too.  Before this fall, anywhere we went Samuel had to either be in a stroller/wagon, be held, or be on the floor.  Now he can take off and either follow George and Olivia around or explore on his own, like a big boy!

Second, and even more impressive, last year not only did he still have his trache, but Samuel was still weening off the ventilator.  Hard to believe, part of me feels like the ventilator was a lifetime ago, and of course part of me still worries when I wake up in the morning that I missed an alarm (just an old habit, Samuel doesn't have any alarms anymore).  Since last Christmas, he has completely weened off the vent, weened off extra oxygen, and gotten rid of this trache.  AGH!  Sweet, sweet progress!

The kicker about last year is that we were having conversations with our pulmonologist about needing to skip most of the  plans I was concocting because Samuel's lungs were just to weak to be exposed to a lot of people.  Outings meant risking Samuel's health, and sickness at that time really could have put him back in the hospital in a minute.  Again, progress is SO good!

This year, we are on the move!  Which partially explains my lack of blogging, that and broken internet for a while there :)  More stories to come, but for now photos of the trains!  This was an exhibit put on by our local public library... two rooms of trains and their builders!  Excuse the photo quality, was learning to use my new phone - yea!

From the time we arrived, this was about all we saw of George :)
He was great about asking questions, but even then barely took his eyes off the trains,
he loved them!

My best attempt at getting George's face in a photo :)
He was so focused, taking a few breaks to laugh at some funny houses, animals, people, or other things in each train village.

Samuel liked the trains, too!  Although his attention span was pretty quick, once he'd seen one train, he had pretty much seen them all.  The good news, I mentioned this was at a public library and Samuel LOVES books!

Olivia enjoyed the train... villages!  The trains whizzing along was fun, but she loved to ask about the parts of each village, including the purpose of each little house :)

Thank you for bringing me here, Daddy :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Wheels

It was a Wednesday evening at our house... DB came home a bit later than normal, and BB announced to the kids, "Yea!  Daddy's home!  And he got a new car!"  George's eyes instantly widened as he excitedly asked, "Is it a dump truck?!"  Ha ha!

We did not buy a dump truck, but we did get a great new family mobile... welcome to the minivan club!  It was time, we needed two cars that could both fit our family of five, and three car seats do not fit in one row, we've tried!  Believe it or not, our only disappointment with joining this club has nothing to do with the minivan - it's pretty sweet - but our sadness is that we had to trade in the Subaru... the scooby.  That car has a lot of memories...

We've had the scooby for five years, during which time we got married and had three kids... yep, a lot of memories!  When my last car died, we tested out lots of things, but when DB asked me what I really wanted, it was a Subaru.  He looked high and low for just the right outback, and eventually found it!  It took us to beach a lot, and on a ton of road trips... it was perfect for bringing along the dogs (our first two children :) ).

It was also the car we drove nearly every day for a year to see Samuel... that car has been through a lot of emotions during those nearly 3-hour round trips.  Including a day that will live in the back of my mind forever... in July of '09, when the doctors told us we had to prepare ourselves for the worst with Samuel, and we had to make some decisions.  DB and I rode together a few times during those two weeks, and during one of those trips we found the quiet, private, time and talked.  As my friend Marianne put it, that car also has a lot of secrets :) 

Crazy I've written an entire post about a car... and that a car carries with it so many emotions.  Loved the scooby!  To see our kids running around the new van squealing with delight makes it a little easier :)  It's all George has talked about for the last few weeks, even though it's not a dump truck.  (It does take most people a few minutes to realize what a "vee-yan" is, ha ha!)

Monday, November 28, 2011


I mentioned a few weeks ago that we've been going on lots of adventures lately ("bentures")... one of which is to the Sands.  The Sands is a public dock and little beach located a few blocks from George and Olivia's school.  On days like the one pictured below, we pick up G and O and head down for a little sand-in-the-toes time :)  Obviously these were taken from the week of Halloween (gotta love the festive shirts!)... although it did warm back up a little lately, so we've been hitting the Sands often trying to soak it up before it gets cold again!

The entire family loves Bentures!

 S is for Samuel! 
Olivia and George love letters!  Actually, they love guessing what the word is... in their world, S usually stands for Samuel, one of their three S-name friends, or School :)

 Olivia used the wide-open space to show us her new ballerina dance :)
Have no clue where she learned about a ballerina dance!

 Daddy: I love this kid!

 Samuel: I love this daddy!

 Love you too :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We spent a wonderful thanksgiving feasting with Omi, Uncle Jay, Linda, Madison, and Josh - the kids loved it!  I'm pretty sure everyone was well entertained, to say the least :)  At dinner, when we asked who would like to say grace, Olivia volunteered... she smiled, looked at everyone holding hands, and literally, she said "Grace"... ha ha!

Each night before bed, George and Olivia say their prayer, after which we thank God for all our blessings of the day.  The last two weeks, the list has almost always started with one purple polka dot (Olivia) and dump trucks (George).  Then we generally get into names of family and friends we see often, names of their friends at school, Peach-lo and Reflux (stuffed dogs), the van, the beach, and almost every part of their day... I know we're ready for bed when they start looking around and thanking God for "a fan, a drawer, a door, etc..."  :) 

The part I love is that they are thankful for every, single, part of their day.  Everything!  Whether it's something we do, or someone we see, every day... or something new and special... they are thankful for it. 

Thinking back to the early days, when the thankfulness that overwhelmed me was for every day that my children were alive... I'm reminded not to take things for granted.  Between knowing that feeling so deeply, and watching all three of my children every day, I am incredibly thankful quite often :)  

I've never done this before, but I want to share another blog.  While I'm not really sure how to measure thankfulness, a lot of this blog hit home.  It's from a mother of a special needs child, and I have to say, when I read this is makes me smile at all the things my Samuel has accomplished, things he was not guaranteed.  It also makes me hold my breath just a little thinking about the future... but I can rest easy, luckily there's someone else in charge, and I am thankful for His grace and His plan (even though I may not always understand it) every day.

Olivia and George spent some time preparing their own feast last week...

 Caught in the act of cooking in the living room :)

 George doesn't mind, he continues the lesson...

 Here Olivia, you try...

 ... just like this!

 Thirty minutes later this is where I caught them... cooking in their "car,"
but this time they each have their own spatulas :)