Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reagan Turns FIVE!!!

Tonight was one was Alaric's best friend Reagan's 5th birthday party. It was at the Orpheum Children's Museum and was family friendly. This dinousaur lover enjoyed all the interactive games and exhibits and a fossil making activity!
Mara loved the veterinarian exhibit!
And the kids loved the boat show too!
Seeing wonder in the eyes of children is priceless ( these two made their own tornado!)
Look at them all!
And this is what parents do at birthday parties ( hover in corners talking) until they can finally drop kids off and leave!
Three smart,beautiful first grade girls show us that being a doctor is cool!
Happy Birthday, Reagan! Your mom is so cool to make that cake for you!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thanks Blog Followers

Thanks to my favorite blog followers who have asked why I haven't been blogging when I usually update on our crazy lives numerous times a week. Well, I made a vow that I would not blog until I wrote all of our Christmas thankyou notes and they were in the mail.

I spend Wednesday completing that goal and now I'm BACK!!! Missed you all! Respond to these posts or e-mail me at so I know you are reading!

Here we go again...this time it's Mara!

If you are a blog follower, you know that our precious son has spent almost two years of his life battling constipation, poopy, and tummy issues. Read a quick summary here, A year and a half after being diagnosed with extreme iron deficiency and working with his specialist to put together a plan, our little boy is terrific! He has beautiful skin coloring, is a great sleeper, poops daily, and is overall, a very healthy little kid.

Now you all know Mara is much different child than Alaric was/is. She has challenged us since her 3rd week of life and really never let up. That being said, Brian and I are now really well trained to think fast on our feet and try to be one step faster than her and smarter than her at all times to stay ahead and in control of our very strong willed child who we adore. Lately however, her emotions have been out of control. Hours of crying and sobbing....HOURS everyday. Constantly in time out. Unable to communicate. Not sleeping well and waking up with night terrors, clingly, etc. These challenges were not normal and Brian and I were at our wits end.

While Alaric's original symptoms were not the same entirely or nearly as dramatic, before we got him healthy he was very sensative and unable to communicate effectively. He had night terrors. Once we got his iron levels under control, everything changed. SO, Brian and I decided to talk to Mara's pediatrician and get her iron levels tested.

We found out Wednesday that her iron level is 22. Normal range is between 11-307, with 10 being anemic. Her nurse said since she fit into the normal range she was fine. I was frustrated. Normal range my ass....there is a 296 point difference. If anemia is 10, how on Earth can 22 be OK. My Alaric was 14 and was very sick....22 is not far away. We also were told with Alaric that your body doesn't make it's own iron until its at a 38 so you have to suppliment til you get there. So, after consulting with Brian, we decided to call Alaric's GI specialist and consult with the nurse.

After a conversation with a very rude receptionist who told me that nurses and doctors would not give out any advice about a patient's sister, I spoke with a lovely nurse who talked to me for more than 20 minutes and went through everything with me in GENERAL terms. She indicated that night terrors are very much related to iron levels and the pediatric sleep specialist at Carle does an iron test and often an iron suppliment trial before ever doing a sleep study because often times the problems disappear. She told me that the pediatric neurologist recommends the iron level goal always be 100-as that is ideal. She confirmed for me that yes, your body does not make iron independently until it's above 38 and that if she had a 26 pound 2 1/2 year old daughter with bowel issues and on a full dose of Miralax and had night terrors and was having emotional problems that she would do what she could to be sure that child got 1 ts of iron a day in juice.

Bless that woman and her care and attention. She gave me the confidence to call back to my pediatrician and demand that they consider a supplimental trial. I offered to come in, to talk to whomever. And the pediatrician's response...."it couldn't hurt"

We've picked the stuff and as soon as I opened the bottle, terrible memories about the sticky, smelly, foul tasting stuff Alaric was on THREE times a day came rushing back to me. YUCK!!! Mara was excited til she tasted it. It will be a long road til her taste buds get used to it but my heart feels better already knowing I am doing all I can to help her feel better. Perhaps after a few weeks of this we'll see a difference in her too as we did with our son. Pray for us on another journey! This time, we feel ready for the road ahead!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lots going on...a Re-Cap!

Since it's been so long since I've blogged, alot has been going on.

My kids were so excited to get their first piece of fruit free from County Market as part of the Fruit of the MOnti Club. They each have a card and all they have to do is go to CM and find out what the free fruit is. Then we go to the produce department and pick whatever we want! It's a great way for the kids to try some new fruits too. This month was grapefruit and while they both said tasted spicy ( even with sprinkled sugar on top), I was proud they tried it!
Lots of winter fun projects to keep them busy and happy in the house. After The Moms Group last week, we used a coloring sheet for one of our favorite books, The Mitten! Even our neighbor Alyssa, gets to participate with many of our projects!
We've been working on potty training! It's alot of work...for I have't been as diligent as I should be but we are making some progress. Last pee pee in the potty she wanted sprinkles on a cupcake- DONE!! ( especially since I made two dozen the last time and froze them)
The witching hour at our house in the winter is between 4-5:30....they are up from nap and are done watching the one show they get each afternoon. Then they want to be entertained, they want Daddy, they want to be held, they want to snuggle, they want to manipulate, they want to do anything- as long as they can whine and get your attention at the same time. Their witching hour is also one of my busiest of the day as I try to get the house clean, start dinner( now that Brian works in Urbana I have to COOK, God Help Us All, and it's hard work for me). I refuse to put them back in front of the TV and sometimes I just can't do anymore damn creative projects.
While both kids were pulling on my and whining, I was cleaning off the counters in the kitchen and scooped some coins into my hand. I asked, "do you want to scrub coins?" Instantly both children were silent and they squeeled when I told them they could have soapy water and endless coins and a toothbrush and scrub away!
An hour!!! Did you hear that? AN HOUR of contentment! They let Brian and I even talk when he got home from work and they completed it after dinner- JOY!
So much more is going on. A full calendar of playdates and stuff at work and activities here in Monticello. Some dinners with friends. I've started my liscensing process for home daycare and have an appointment/class with DCFS next Wednesday.
Our church is keeping us busier that ever as they have their own stuggles and we all are trying to give more time and do more to help out.
Oh, and have you seen my sexy husband lately? He's officially 20 pounds lighter than he was just 3 short months ago when we first made our trip to see a specialist in Iowa City and was told to lose weight. He looks AMAZING and is lighter than he's been in 8 years. He has had more blood work and all his labs look good! He still struggles with pain if he makes poor food choices but has really come to terms with his new lifestyle and loves it. He's posted some really powerful blogs on his lifestyle changes on his fitness blog Check it out.
His lifestyle changes mean I've changed too ( what we do for those we love, especially when we too are overweight). I have maintained my goal weight for almost two years now and challenged myself in 2011 to just try to lose another 10 and see what that feels like. I'm now 5 pounds lighter that how I ended 2010 and I weigh less than I have in 15 years!!! Feels pretty good. And my health has been great too ( thanks to those of you who still reach out and ask me too). I had a tough fall as I was under alot of stress with Brian's illness but it's been a great winter and my mouth is in good shape.
We are happy and hanging in there- spending lots of time together at home, staying busy but having fun too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

GO Bears...Oh Bears!!!!

Brian was so excited about the Bears playing today and that being said, the rest of us were too! Alaric wants to be just like his daddy so when he too got the chance to wear his Bears jersey, and to church- he was so excited we just had to take pictures of everyone!

I needed pictures with my angels too!
So, we didn't get the outcome we had wished for but the anticipation was so fun and it was great to get the kids involved with it too!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meet Michael Joseph!

Yesterday I took the kids and we headed to St. Charles to visit my best friend Jenny and HER BABY, Michael Joseph- born on December 26th!

The kids were so excited about it and couldn't wait to meet Michael! They both brought their own babydolls to practice holding and Amara wanted to be sure Michael ( and Aunt Jenny) got to see her new doll.
In Fulton tradition, Alaric picked one of his toys to give to Michael. he chose a Toy Story car and was so excited to give it to Michael.

We also made Michael a Cubs blanket that matches one Mara and Al both have.

Friday afternoon, another BF came and I loved every second with Rachel too! We all took turns holding the baby!

Alaric was so proud to hold Michael and so gentle!

Since Jenny is Amara's Godmother, we said that Mara was Michael's big God Sister! Mara thought that was pretty cool!

Today I was able to use the natural light from the window,along with a white sheet and a blanket and snap some good shots of Michael for Jen. Alaric helped with my other camera too

Today my very oldest friend, Jill came to visit too! Alaric got this cute picture of us girls with the new baby together!

What a sweet boy- welcome to the world, Baby Michael- you are loved by so many!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mike & Sue's 25th Anniversary Celebration!

Tonight was my sister-in-law's mom & stepdad's 25th wedding anniversary and it was a WONDERFUL night!
Jennifer and her mom did much of the work ( look at this beautiful family!)
My mom made their cake & I took the pictures!
It was in our church's fellowship hall....the same place Brian and I had our rehearsal dinner and my parents had their 40thweddinganniversaryparty in June. It's a great location! The Prairie Dogs Blue Grass band was awesome too!
Alaric and Brian were twins, from top to bottom!Veronica sang a song for her MopMop and PopPop!
The kids ran around and danced
And the adults did too!
Even Brian and I got a dance in when we weren't snapping pictures or running after kids!
What a special night- Congratulations Mike & Sue!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


At an Adult Sunday School Class a few months ago, my pastor posed the question to us parents, "how do you deal with the holiday trinity...Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas?" We shared ideas of what traditions we have and what things we celebrate. Proudly, I shared that for us, our "holiday trinity" would be Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Epiphany. As this day is now upon us, I am truly blessed by this.

It wasn't until I started working at St. Matthew nine years ago that I even knew what Epiphany was. I really had never heard of it or rather never paid attention to it. When I learned that Epiphany was the celebration of the Three Wise Men actually reaching Jesus after a very long, 12 day journey, I was shocked. I thought that they just showed up in Bethlehem later that night, I guess I did realize there was more to the story and that The Wise Men had to visit the king, etc but it was just easier to think they just kinda showed up to check the new little guy out and bring him some stuff.

At St. Matts they celebrated this day. Nativity sets didn't contain The Wise Men until Epiphany, there were special prayers and ways to prepare. They didn't even have their holiday party before Christmas but rather at Epiphany which was so much more pleasant for so many reasons! I started paying attention and learning and realized that the song we all hear, The Twelve Days of Christmas, isn't a countdown to Christmas but rather the celebration after Christmas and before Epiphany.

I see so many people spend the entire Advent Season talking about Christmas and counting down and even talking about the anticipation of the the birth of Christ but then take all their holiday decorations down and pack it all away on the 26th. Really? That's when the fun really begins! No more lines and fussiness at the stores. No more parties or hustle and bustle. No more stress! Just time. Just family time and reflection time and resolution time. Twelve Days to relish in all the Advent and Christmas glory. To watch the kids truly love and appreciate all that is the holidays without "one more place to be". I very purposefully do NOT touch one decoration or bring up one storage bin. I try to calm down some and focus and play with my kids and just sit back and enjoy those twelve days and what they have come to mean to me.

A few years ago, when my kids were old enough to begin understanding, we started talking about Epiphany and what it was. Alaric gets it and this year, Amara proved she did as well. We've been talking about today all week. And when I took their own Nativity sets from their bedsides last night, they knew it was because today was special.

The woke up to find all of our Nativity Sets on the dining room table along with their breakfast so we could eat our meals with Jesus.

We talked about the Kings this morning and why they were called "Wise" and pointed them out in the Nativity sets. We brainstormed what we might give to Jesus if we could bring him a gift like the Wise Men did and also what Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh were. We also talked about what those 12 days must have been like for the Wise Men or as Alaric said, "Smart Guys" as they walked across the desert for 12 long days just to meet Jesus and how special of a guy they already knew he was going to be. We also re-read one of our Christmas story books and I asked the kids to focus on the part when the Kings arrived.
With smiles on their faces and hungry tummies, I let them eat and talk and handle all of the Nativities ( even my favorite one with help)
Today was the day to celebrate and to discover and to contemplate and to dream about what it must have been like. Nothing like Batman PJ's, Bacon, and some time with Jesus!
They ate lunch at the table too with all the Nativity sets and they would have eaten dinner as well but we are going out tonight. After lunch, I cleaned off the table and was in the kitchen and heard Mara talking. I went into the dining room to find her at the table playing with the Nativity sets saying "Hi Jesus, I'm your mama, Mary" " Hi King, what do you got?" It was a truly Grace-filled moment!
Tomorrow is the Epiphany Dinner at St. Matthew and Brian and I will be there. Just like the end of Epiphany is sad for me because I now really do have to get our my storage bins so too is this dinner. It might be my last St. Matthew Epiphany Dinner as I now move on to something new in my professional life. Hmmmm....for now, I'm just going to love this day and love my kids and love what I still have to learn!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve at The Jacksons!

13 couples and 16 kids gathered at our friend's new home for a New Year's Eve celebration!
The baby gate served as a "jail" for the kids to stay in the basement and the adults to be upstairs. It didn't really work but it was a nice try!

Mara in time out ( never a dull moment with this one) surrounded by dozens of shoes!
The basement isn't furnished yet and it was THE PERFECT place for the kids to run!
Rob and Clint enjoy ribs
Everyone enjoyed sitting back and relaxing with friends!
Around 10, we put a movie on for the kids in the basement so the adults could play for awhile
We all had so much fun together
FOUR pregnant ladies!
The hosts planned minutetowinit games with a tournament style. Each couple was a team with names made up by the hosts. Our name was THE BLOGS!
These boys, almost 5, have grown up together since birth!
Mara made instant friends with Ava!

The couples...
Cynthia ( pregnant with a boy) and Ryan
Darren and Tara ( pregnant with twin boys)
Dale & Amy
Rob & Beth ( pregnant with a girl)
Eric & Jill
Stephanie & Scott
Anne & Adam
Nate & Courtney
Jake & Andrea ( and Allyson)Our hosts Clint & Tiffany ( pregnant- doesn't know gender yet)
Zac & Jenny
Matt & Heidi
Midnight came and more than half of the kids were still up, including our two!
Let the games begin...tissue out of a box
stringing needles
stacking apples
shopping bag relay racesFishing for keys
Rotating cups
flinging pencilstoiletpaper spins
sorting m&ms
CandyCane fishing
Rudolph...swing a ball on a string onto a vasaline covered nose
Feather blowing
Two handed tissue pull
and more!
We stayed until after 2AM and left the house a wreck but it was one of the most fun New Year's Eve's I've had in a very long time! Thanks to our amazing hosts and to all our dear friends!

The most fun game of the night...getting the cookie down into your mouth from your forehead