Houston Aquarium.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Brittany and Derek came down for dinner and we just relaxed the whole day. Friday we got up early and went to the Houston Aquarium downtown. There were very few people there so the girls got to ride the carousel and Ferris wheel several times. At the end of the Aquarium they have a white tiger exhibit. Eliza LOVED them; she just kept saying “Whoa, that’s a big kitty!”

Britt and Derek offered to watch the girls so Jared and I headed to IKEA for the afternoon to start our Christmas shopping. Santa will be bringing the girls some colorful forks so they stop fighting over the only one we have with a black handle.


We made it - Five!

Erin turned five last week. Five! She is so mature and vibrant; I can’t imagine what life would be like without her sweet sing-song voice and big toothy grin.

For me it was a bit of an emotional day, more than I anticipated. In my mind age five was a milestone. I always thought if we can get this kid to see five she will live a full and healthy life and this week she made it.

I lay in bed the morning of the seventh thinking how blessed we have been as I thought about that morning five years ago. Erin was born in the early hours of the morning after a long exhausting labor. Like any mother I wanted to take my first born and hold her tightly but the wheels of circumstance were in motion and she was taken to the NICU with only a glance. It was ten hours before I would have the chance to touch her for the first time. I remember being wheeled into the NICU looking down the row of babies realizing I had no clue which one was mine and wondering if my maternal instinct failed. And then I saw the little pink sign that said ERIN and looked down to see this beautiful child with more hair than body and it all became real, she was finally here, and now what would become of her? I questioned in my mind if in the coming weeks we would bring home our little girl or would she return home to her Father in Heaven.

We found out at a routine ultrasound at 17 weeks that Erin had a series of congenital heart defects. The initial diagnosis was that she would not survive and if she did she would have a low quality of life. To make matter worse when I found out Jared was 1000 miles away, he had just moved to Houston and I was completing my undergrad thesis at Iowa State. I found out the day of my defense, it should have been the capstone of five years of study but I was devastated. I sat on the limestone steps on the east end of Brookside Park in Ames talking to Jared watching my life fall into shambles.

The coming weeks I moved, settled into Houston 7 ½ months pregnant, went through a slew of doctors, each night pleading with the Lord that we would make it through, that we would be blessed with a healthy child and only getting the conformation that we would be able to handle the trial that we faced.

Erin was born fighting; the nurse said it was the baby she had to physically restrain in years (that’s my girl!). Over the coming days her condition would deteriorate and the third night we were told surgery was our only option. The next evening she was given a name and a blessing and my fears were comforted. The night before our surgery the nurse let us hold her, it was a huge ordeal with tubes and lines, but I was so thankful for the first time, knowing it may be the only time, I would hold my precious little girl in my arms.

At five days she was prepped for surgery, we kissed her forehead as she headed into the OR and would spend the next eight hours waiting anxiously for those hourly updates and we finally got the conformation that she was out of surgery and stable. Sleepless night would follow as her little body adjusted and she was slow coming out of anesthesia. Erin would slowly progress in the following days and her recovery and almost seamless.

Jared retuned to work and my mom flew down and we lived at the hospital. By the time she was ready to come home I could talk the talk, I knew the function of the heart, all about the meds and signs of heat failure and infection. I had my A game on and then we signed the discharge papers and as they handed her to us, I asked if we were really qualified for this (while everyone else was taking child birth classes learning how to feed and change diapers, we were meeting with surgical teams)? But I knew she was finally ours. The coming months would be full of echos and follow up appointments and slowly she had the life of a normal child. Our home would become full of firsts and laughter.

Every now and then I hear people say it must be just a faint memory, as a mother the reality of it is still alive. There is not a night that passes that I don’t lay my hand on her chest to feel for a rhythmic breath and thank the Lord for the wonderful blessing he has given to us. She is my personal miracle. She has brought so much joy and love into our home and is a constant reminder that the Lord has a hand in all things.

As the next half decade progresses we can close the health chapter of life and open the chapter on starting school, boys and all that comes as little girls turn into young women.


Little Man with the Big Eyes

(The life of having two older sisters)

Seriously I can’t get enough of this little guy. He is growing I am in complete denial that he will ever walk, run and destroy things like boys do. As for now I will savor the snuggly moments with those baby blues starting back at me and a big grin. Btw, I have never been a sweater vest kind of gal, but after seeing him in this one, I’m sold.


Second rate circus, first class fun!

Last night we took the kids to the circus. It was a one ring circus (literally) in a mall parking lot, no Ringling Brother, but the kids don’t know the difference. There were lots of light, food, big animals and old women that needed more coverage. Our friends had $5.00 tickets and we are always up for an adventure. It seems like a Mexican cultural tradition, you see little carnivals and circuses set up everywhere. My kids were the only blonde hair ones there, people kept rubbing their heads and saying something in Spanish (which I had no idea).

The show was not anything spectacular (what you would probably assume you would see in a mall parking lot), but the kids LOVED it. I have never seen Eliza be so attentive. She was glued to the trapeze artists and the elephant show. They had a contortionist that could fold himself in half and fit through a tennis racket, a guy riding a motorcycle on a cable and lots of little acts. Jared and I even enjoyed it.

Anyone want to take bets how long it will be before Eliza breaks her leg this week pretending she in the circus?

Em's deal of the month

I did it...I broke down and got a double stroller. With three I have no time to exercise and the price of a gym pass out well outside of our discretionary fund. I have been watching them for a while but people wanted around $200.00 used, ugh!

Ebay had this model, new; clearance with shipping it was $100 (typically runs around $240.00). So I was really happy with the bid. They shipped it Fed Ex. I'm pretty sure the guy tied it to the back of his truck and dragged it down I-45 at high rates of speed because he rang the door bell and ran. And I found myself looking at a mangled package that once resembled a box.

I was bummed because there was some damage to the stroller, mostly on the plastic parts and a few scratches on the metal. I talked to the ebay guy and he said he would send me new parts (they just need to be replaced by a screw) and take $35.00 for the scratches. Wohoo, a good deal made better!

The kids LOVE it, Eliza Isaac and I have been walking 3 days a week while Erin is at school. Now to start running…..


Growing up

Can't believe Erin will be five in a few weeks. How time quietly slips away.


Trick-or-treating and Blue Angels

Quote of the day “I don’t want to go trick-or-treating; I JUST WANT TO SEE THE B-L-U-E A-N-G-E-L-S. She is Jared’s daughter :)

We had a wonderful Halloween weekend. Erin hit the mother load of candy this year. I have no idea what we are going to do with it all. They went trick-or-treating two days this week at preschool. Erin decided to be belle and Eliza wanted to be a kitty….thank you craigslist for making my Halloween economical.

Friday night we had our ward trunk-or-treat at church. Eliza finally got what it was all about this year and it was so much fun. I decided to dress up this year; I was a piece of damaged luggage from American Airlines. I stopped by the resale shop and picked up a suitcase and used a dremmel to make it work. I ended up winning the “most inventive”, not bad for $2.00 and an hour to make it.
Halloween day Erin had her last soccer game. She has been playing on a league with kids that have mental or physical disabilities. They invite siblings and friends to play on the team and it was a really good experience for her.

Then we spent the afternoon watching Wings Over Houston air show. We didn’t buy tickets this year, but there is a park within a mile of Ellington Field and we watched it from there. The park was packed, but it worked out well. The weather was fantastic and the girls could kick around the soccer ball as we were waiting for the next set of planes to taxi. Ike LOVED the air show (or loved being outside), he even the f-16 flying over head with after burners.

The main show this year was the Blue Angles and they were awesome! I also really liked the stunt planes that stall out and flip head over tail.

We got home just in time to go trick-or-treating. Eliza loved it! She walked for over two hours and came home with her bucket full. We have a neighborhood with lots of kids and a lot of people who are gone for the night taking their kids around just set a bowl of candy on the driveway with a note that says take one. I thought I would do the same, Jared was kidding me that the candy was going to get stolen, I didn’t care. But when I came back I was surprised not only did they steal the candy, they took the bowl with them.
Here is what they ended up with this morning, after munching on it all weekend, Jared taking a portion to work and the youth group ravaging it after the fireside last night. Now the question is what the heck do I do with all this candy?


Domestic Days for Undomestic Gals

Meet Kallie. Kallie is my partner in crime. We both fall in the category of college educated women turned full time stay at home moms. To be on the serious side for a minute, it’s tough. Like many women it was a personal choice to set my career aside at a young age and turn towards family. Staying home has never been a choice I regretted, it has been a blessing in my life, but I have struggled with it. More I have struggled with what defines my character. I grew up in a culture where women worked next to their husbands, where no job was to big or dirty. Women were the oxen that kept farms and small business running. I can specifically remember being 14 years old and my mom thinking she tricked me told me I had the option of doing dishes (20 minutes) or spending a full day helping my dad do manual labor…before she completed her thought my boots were laced and I was out the door. For me freedom was measured in progress and exhaustion.

I learned to love manual labor; I learned to really love building fence. I went on to study Landscape Architecture, which kept me playing in the dirt and worked for The Nature Conservancy which, even better I got to play with not only dirt, but with chainsaws and fire. I graduated six months pregnant and moved from the life I knew.

With a blink of an eye I found myself in the southern suburbia. Kids came, mortgages were obtained and before I knew it I was a mother of one, then two and now three carpooling to school in my gold minivan and cultural upbringing had little place in this new environment.

So what does a Midwest farm girl that can out work most grown men the state of Texas do nowadays? I hang with Kallie and we make attempts to be domestic and have some fun while doing it. It has become a creative outlet, I figure I am doing the stay at home thing, might as well expand my horizons. We always have some bright idea that in the midst of application becomes a fiasco but in the end works out.

So this months project was aprons. We both have aprons from the 1950’s that we love, better coverage, sexier and more practical than the ones you see today. And I cook everyday (if you have ever seen me cook, you know I need an apron). Plus I need something to make me feel cute when I have not showered in two days and am wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

I was at Hobby Lobby a few weeks back and they had their patters on sale for $1.00. We decided to give it a shot. Five hours later we were still stuck on the pocket. After a night on Skype with Kallies mom we got it figured out and the rest of the project went smoothly. So now we are proud owners of some handmade aprons. With a few tweakings I think I will make another one.

So my mother would be proud, I actually used my sewing machine for something other than hemming my pants. So what is next on the schedule? Any ideas?