Saturday, September 26, 2009

Will's Birthday - take 2

New shoes from the grandparents.
Round 2 of the cupcakes!

It ended up just being K and D because Aunt E, Uncle J and the cousins were all sick!

My MIL is going to kill me for posting this picture of her!!!!

Catching up

Ella -Kathryn is doing great in Kindergarten. She was named the Student Ambassador for her class, which basically means she is in charge of showing new students around the classroom etc. She was picked based on academics (um, really, it's been a month of kindergarten, but whatever!), and truly because she was a born cruise director. She is part bossy, part encourager, part real-estate agent, and all love! It is so funny to watch her in action and even funnier to hear about her day when she climbs in the van after school. She informed us last week that on the playground she usually chases some boy-friends around. Note they are friend who are boys, not the other way around:) We talked at dinner one night about whether or not this was something the boys enjoyed, she said they did, and whether or not she should be playing with some of the other girls instead, she said she did not want to. OK. So, we suggested she try to spend some time playing with other friends, but if the boys were ok with being chased, then that was fine with us. Fri. after school she pipes up from the back seat, "Mom, I played with my dudes again today." All-righty then. Her dudes, which I suppose are kind of like her peeps?
Jack had his first Scout outing last night. Jeff took Jack and EK on a camp out - Jeff said it was insane, but good:) Not sure if this is a good fit for Jack just yet, but we'll stick it out til the new year and reassess then. He loved the camping of course, but when it came time to actually learn something, he zoned out. Partly it was the activity - they were going to build rockets, good choice, except the kid-friendly ones didn't arrive on time and they were left with some that required more adult assembly. So, I'm not entirely convinced he wouldn't do better with something more hands-on.
I have so been enjoying my days with Will. He is such a funny little man and is really coming into his own lately. At his 2 year check up we discovered that he finally weighs 25 lbs and is "on the charts"! Yeah Will! A little over a year ago he was classified as failure to thrive because he was so little. Long story, but that's when mom died and my emotions really took a toll on my milk supply and he refused a bottle - miserable for all involved! But now he's doing awesome and his eating habits improve bit by bit. Veggies are still hard, but we keep putting them in front of him and are hopeful:) A funny from Will's world - he's afraid of our scarecrow! I spent a couple of days this week cleaning out the attic and dragged down the scarecrow that our family made last year. As it was lying on the garage floor, we noticed that Will was acting funny. Lo and behold, he was truly fearful of the stuffed man! Jeff took him over to it and showed him that it was harmless and fake and he was a little bit better. Then Jack propped it up by our front door, which is all glass, and this morning he spent some time checking it out again. I opened the front door for a while and let him touch it and see how non-threatening it was! Then tonight, he was pointing to the door and asking me to go see it with him. When we walked over he was hiding behind my leg! Poor kid - I hope Halloween doesn't send him to therapy!
Ryan continues to grow - I can tell when he's in his car seat how much he's changed already. I need to get him in for his 2 month checkup and then we'll have an official weigh in. Nights are tricky - sometimes he'll go for 3 hours no problem, then others I bring him to bed to nurse and he zonks out immediately. I'm simply too tired to do anything about it right now - how I long for 5 hours straight sleep! Soon I know and in the meantime I am just so happy to have him with me, tired or not!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In the swing of things

The school year is off and running and so are we. Thus far we have gotten 2/4 kids to school with very little trouble, had 2/4 come down with strep throat, gotten 1/4 signed up for scouts, started our community group complete with 3/4 of kids staying with a babysitter for a couple of hours, had 1/4 gain significant weight (yeah Ryan he's up to 8'12"!), and had 2/4 have great well-child checkups! Whew - and that's just the tip of the iceberg, but so far we're doing great and somehow managing to not drop any of the spinning kids, er, I mean plates.
There is so much more to write about, but no time to write:( I am hoping to get caught up some evening this week, but with two bible studies, 4 kids, 1 husband, 2 dogs (one of whom is slowly driving me insane), and 1 cat who thinks he's a dog, who has the time???? Seriously, life is blessed and good and I do want to keep our friends and family up to date, just forgive me if there's a 20 year lag until it makes it on to the blog!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Will!

The Birthday boy with his Happy Meal!

His Cars cupcake.

Opening presents...

My lil' man Will is two today! It is amazing to me that it has only/already been 2 years since this Will-full boy joined our family. When he was first born, it was a hard time in our lives. My mom was back in NJ undergoing tests and sadly getting the news that her cancer had returned. She had been with me for Jack and Ella-Kathryn's births, so her absence was profound.
My water broke that morning, about 5ish, and we gathered the other two kiddos up and headed off to the hospital. Soon my sweet friend K came to pick up EK and Jack (he had his first season of football that year) and all of a sudden my contractions pretty much stopped. What in the world. I'd never experienced my water breaking, so I thought this time we would be in and out in record time. Oh well! I was given some meds to keep labor going and finally at 1ish, William Charles was born. Here's the thing - he was a great baby until Christmas. I don't know if it was all of the hustle of having company for the holidays, his scheduled I'm sure was pushed all around, but by the New Year, he was a mess. And he's stayed that way ever since! He has been a terrible sleeper and eater, although we are now beginning to see some turn around in those areas. I know we are responsible for much of his issues, we were simply too tired to really push him to sleep better/longer, but truthfully, he is all around a willful child. He and I recently got into a battle of the wills over his need to say "yes, mommy" after I had given him a direction. He screamed for THIRTY minutes! He is fiercely independent about somethings, and then others, only his mommy can do. He has figured out how to open all of our doors, to let Chewie out of his crate, and he rides his big wheels down the driveway at an alarming rate of speed. He adores his big brother and sister and is so sweet with his little baby brother, always wanting to hold him and kiss or pat his head. This dear, tender, funny boy tries my patience and then some, but at the end of the day, he is too precious for words. Happy 2nd birthday lil man!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chunky Monkey!

Guess who's a fatty??? If you guessed his little man, you're right!

He had his weight check today and he's up to 7'12"!! WooHoo:) We are thrilled that he has already put on that much, since we were optimistically hoping for the usual 1 ounce/day. My heart leaped when I saw the nurse bump that marker on up to the 7. This also means we don't have to come back until his next checkup, instead of another weight check. Go Ryan!
The rest of the clan is trying to get better. Jeff gave Ryan one of his bottles last night so I could go back to sleep and then he got up with the kids this morning so I could sleep in a bit too. I think Will and I are the only ones left with sore throats, so I'm hoping we'll be well soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What might have been

Today I would have been 40 weeks. Ryan might have been born today! I doubt it, but you never know. Looking back, I am amazed at God's providence in our lives - that He knew that my fluid was so low and stirred in me that "feeling" that something wasn't right (to which my dear friend H said go to the Dr., better to err on the side of caution); that if I hadn't gone the week before we would have had nothing to compare the second ultrasound to nor would we have even had a 2nd ultrasound which showed not only the dangerously low fluid, but also the cord that was wrapped twice around his neck; that my sweet friends were able to be there at the drop of a hat to gather my children up then return to support Jeff and me; that my family was able to drop everything they had going on and drive the day and a half trip to be there the following day; that my dad (a saint in any book!) has the flexibility in his life to be able to stay with us for the following THREE weeks!; my sweet sister too, to leave her own kiddos, hubby, life and be here and NEVER get to see her nephew (talk about injustice:)); that we were literally surrounded in the NICU by people of faith, many of whom attend our church (the Sunday after Ryan was born our neonatologist actually sat right in front of us in church); and there are so many more moments where truly the hand of God could have been seen/felt. All of this is to say that I am in awe of this tiny baby, who is now 5 weeks old, but should really barely have been born by now! I feel, deep in my gut, that if God had not ordained these events, Ryan would not have made it, with the fluid, cord, and infection. I say all of this in an effort to remind myself that God is active in my life. So many times, and most recently when my mom died, I wondered where he was. Did he even understand the chaos/pain/desperation I was feeling? My head said yes, of course, this is the same God who had to turn away from him own son dying on the cross. But my heart said no - since I couldn't see evidence of him. Or so I thought. What I have come to realize (perhaps again?) is that it is me who is blind to his presence. It is me who has blinders of doubt, fear, insecurity, bad habits on which keep me from seeing and more importantly, acknowledging him in my everyday life. There's more here, I'm just not sure I can express it right now...

On the homefront, we are, with the exception of Jeff, fighting off the crud. Although I had much to do today, Will needed mommy and so we watched two movies and napped and did little else. I feel pretty rotten myself and am praying that whatever we all have won't get passed on to Ryan. I did manage to get myself to bible study yesterday, the Beth Moore Esther study, and I'm excited to get going on that. My neighbor is going to join me! I am pumped for her - she's a Beth Moore virgin:) Can't wait to see what this lesson and God have in store for us.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor day Teepee!

I love my husband! After working a 10 hour shift, he came home and was going to switch out the blades on his mower for one of his side jobs, but instead he built the kids a teepee! Jack and Ella-Kathryn had been out in the "woods" between our lots making a fort - their progress was slow since alot of the wood/limbs that needed to be moved were quite heavy. But it kept them busy so no biggie. So dad comes home, sees a bunch of long sticks and thinks, "hey, I can build a teepee." Of course he thought that - I mean who wouldn't, right? So here's the finished product...

Now our neighbor friend is over to play Indians (yes I know this is not the PC term, but their kids!). Ella-Kathryn and Will have taken refuge in the house, since the Indians were getting mean. Oh well - they can be cowboys later and challenge them to see who gets the teepee!

On another note, in my quiet time this morning, I read Joel and was reminded that God wants us to truly grieve for our sin. Joel says God doesn't want the outward tradition of tearing their garments, rather he wants them to "tear their hearts." Ouch. Sounds painful right? Yet, what an appropriate metaphor for feeling so deeply sorry for our trespasses. My prayer today for myself and my family is that no sin would be passed over without this kind of visceral reaction. That we would not be calloused to how deeply sin grieves our God and how he desperately wants us to understand that if not confesses & repented, that sin will merely linger, perhaps even grow and spread into other sins. I want a clean heart! And I want this for my family.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lazy day

Mommy found time to give me my first official bath. I'm clean and growing by the minute!

How does anybody sleep in this house????


This is our second Sunday without church. Given Ryan's "fragile" health ( I put that in quotes b/c he is technically considered perfectly healthy, but we're still taking every precaution to keep him that way!), we are not going to church for a while. This is kind of hard for me. I went to church the Sunday after he was born, much to the surprised looks of friends there! I am not saying this pridefully, just to make the point that I love church. I need that weekly respite from our crazy, blessed life to focus on worship. It's kinda hard to do this on a daily basis with the kids running circles around me and with my scattered brain, but we do try to emphasize "everyday worship" - trying not to miss God's blessings in the mundane:) Anyway, I love to sing the praise & worship songs, just take in the message, sit with Jeff for that hour of reflecting back onto Him who has seen us through so much. However, in a couple of ways I have found taking this time to just stay home with the kids and not have to be someplace in the morning refreshing. even with a newborn to care for, the past two Sundays have been restful ( I know, I know your yelling liar, liar at the screen right now, cause how can a house with 4 kids, 2 dogs, and 1 cat possible every be restful expect in the middle of the night?) but truly, I've enjoyed this time with them. I am ready to get back to church and Jeff thinks we might give it a go next week, but for now I'm going to sit on the couch with the paper while Will naps, let Jack and Ella-Kathryn watch a movie, we're going to act out a bible story after naps, and I even bathed Ryan this morning! Jeff is at church as I type and I'm anxious to hear about the service, though I know I'll get limited husband input:)

In kid news: Ryan had a rough night last night - gas maybe? He finally crashed around 3 and then Will decided 4:30 was a good time to get up! What in the world? I convinced him to go back to sleep, but then he popped back up at 5:30 - oh that boy! All this after screaming himself to sleep last night (cried/screamed for over an hour.) Any suggestions on this topic would be greatly appreciated! So, after typing this, I'm revising my paper-reading plan to add nap in there somewhere;) Wish me luck!

*Everyone wants to be where Ryan is! Ella-Kathryn wanted to eat her lunch watching him:)

Friday, September 4, 2009


First off, a praise that Ryan is taking the bottle well - is taking in a minimum of 1oz/feeding in addition to nursing. I think he feels heavier already! Jeff also admitted that this helps him feel more connected to Ryan. Jack did take bottles occasionally as did EK, but Will was a nurser exclusively. Especially after all he/we went through being separated while in the NICU, I think it's great that Jeff can bond with Ryan this way. It makes life a lot easier too when I simply cannot be here to nurse him. Yesterday I had a dermatology appt to have a spot looked at (nothing serious she said!) and it ended up coinciding with Ryan's feeding time. No worries - Jeff simply whipped out a bottle and took care of it. The goal of course is for me to nurse every time before he takes the bottle, but ya' know, ya gotta be flexible with 4 kids!
So on to the Simpson kids updates:
Jack is doing well in 2nd grade. His teacher seems to be a good fit for him - nice but firm. We are already experiencing homework meltdowns like last year, but I am searching for some good resources on learning styles to help us steer him in the right direction when it comes to helping him learn/handle schoolwork more effectively. Math is getting to be an issue - the word problems throw him off which I think is as much about him truly understanding what they're asking him to do as it is dealing with the math itself. I remember feeling the same frustrations! He is going to get some extra help at school and we are going to begin a regimen much like what we did last year with reading. My heart breaks for him in that I can see when the tears are right there ready to pour on out - his confusion, often his own laziness getting in his way, and his utter frustration. As parents we desperately want him to understand that he can be his own worst enemy - getting all worked up about something, not listening to our explanations, not focusing on the problem at hand etc. We are trying to teach him to put his head down and get his work done but what if he simply can't do this on his own. How much of this is a personality trait issue, to be broken and retaught, and how much is truly an "issue" for him (like ADD for example, not that this is his problem per se.)? Jack simply lacks internal motivation and teaching that is very difficult! He is such a funny, energetic, loving boy it is so hard to see him struggle. Yet, we know that these struggles are part of life and we must teach him to lean not on his own understanding, but turn to God when he's fearful, frustrated, confused - get refocused and not be a sluggard! WE are praying for you sweet boy!
Ella-Kathryn is doing great in Kindergarten! she loves Mrs. Sweeney and seems to be making friends just fine now. We had to role play how to ask someone to be one's friend! Too funny, but it must be working since everyday she claims a new confidant. The school work is quite easy for her, as it's all stuff she saw/did last year with me at home. I am excited for her to get further in to reading, but for now it's been fun to see her adjust so well to the schedule and structure of school. She love,love, loves her baby brother and always wants to hold him. WE continue to struggle with sassiness, but have also started treating her for allergy issues. Hope the 2 are somewhat connected and that as she feels better in the allergy dept. her attitude will improve too!
Will is an absolute trip! He's so funny and loves to make us laugh. While Dad and Karen were here he was in bedtime boot camp and we are thankfully miles away from where we were a month ago. He now goes to sleep on his own, although still with some intense crying sometimes. He too loves his baby brother and also wants to hold him 24/7. He really is so tender with Ryan and it melts my heart to see him lean in and with that precious chubby cheeked face kiss his baby brother so carefully on the forehead. I have great hopes that these two will be thick as thieves as they grow up together.
I am supposed to start a bible study next week, but am feeling concerned about Ryan and germs etc. I think I'll wait and decide the day before!
Jeff is well and continues to be an amazing father, even if his patience is tried a bit more these days. He is still doing great at watching what he eats and has started running again. He is hoping to train for a marathon in the coming year - I'll keep you posted on that goal. He even asked me if I wanted to train with him! Hah! After 10 years does that man not know that the only way you'll see me running is if there's a pickup truck driving down the street and some guy is on the back offering unlimited free wine! Watch me go after that!
Seriously, I am entertaining the idea of a 5K. I mean this baby fat isn't going to just up and take itself off, so I've got to do something:) I am inspired by my amazing friend L who did a triathlon this year and she was NOT a runner before training for this. She has encouraged me to give it a try and even recommended a book which takes you into the training in baby steps - right up my alley! I'll keep you posted on that too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First checkup

Well, Ryan's first check up confirmed that he is not gaining the weight he needs to in order to stay strong and healthy. His pediatrician and I decided that Ryan will nurse and then he will get a supplemental bottle of formula. Since my biopsy when Ella-Kathryn was 6 months old, my supply has stunk on that side, and with each child I have noticed my overall supply has decreased. I was a bit anxious that he would not take the bottle well, as he only did so intermittently at the hospital, but during the first feeding after he appt. he drank a full 30 ml ( a bit under 2 ounces.) Poor kiddo - I wonder how long he's been truly feeling hungry even after he ate? We'll go back in a week for a weight check and in the meantime, the Dr. is sending our info to the insurance co. to see if we qualify for a course of antibodies that will help Ryan avoid RSV. Keep your fingers crossed b/c if they won't pay up, we won't either since it's $1,000/shot at one shot/28 days for 6 months. Yes, of course we have $6,000 lying around. Let me just pay you in cash if that's all right with you. UGH! I seriously hate insurance/medical billing etc. It is the monkey on my back so to speak. And, with Pres. Obama now pushing for goodness only knows what kind of health plan, I'm sure we'll be in worse shape in the future. Sorry for the soapbox - not a fan of this current plan. Hopeful, yes, but so far, not liking what they're proposing.
I did want to point out that during our time in the NICU I kept thinking I wonder how God is going to us this experience. I can't go up to the NICU each day and pray over the kids - I have 4 of my own, that wouldn't work. The hospitals can't release personal info on the babies, so we can't pray for them by name anyway. In the past few weeks, we have been amazed at the sheer number of people who are either going through a similar experience, or have already been there, done that. It was just this morning that I had a chance to post a comment on a family's blog about this very thing. Their daughter was born yesterday and is now facing some serious issues while in the NICU in NC. Mom is one of my sister's friends and their precious daughter has already proven herself one tough cookie, and shown God's amazing love and mercy. As with my mom's battle with cancer and then her death last year, it is these experiences that not only draw us nearer to God, but also to those around us, our fellow human beings who too must go through the trials of life. I certainly don't wish any of these situations upon any one, but find some comfort in knowing that God can and will use me and my family to further his kingdom by telling of his mercy, grace, and love, even when the outcome is not what we hope for.