Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 is almost over! Time flies!

Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet?? Brent doesn't have any, but I've come up with a few:

1. More "face time" with friends. This past year has been a blur of sleep deprivation, doctor's appointments and diapers, and FAR too few lunches, coffees or glasses of wine with friends. Now that the kids are a little bigger and we have babysitters we adore, I'm ready to get out and re-connect again (with people who make me feel good about myself)!!

2. Simplify, simplify, simplify. This covers a lot of areas, but mainly meal preparation. I'll go into more detail further down in this post...

3. Find a hairdresser that I love and STICK WITH THEM! I've not been very organized about scheduling hair appointments, so I end up calling around at the last minute until I can get in somewhere. IT SHOWS. I've been so focused on getting it done cheaper that I end up with a cut and color that I hate. I'm hoping to find the stylist of my dreams this year!

4. Get involved in a small group at church. Our church is so big that, without belonging to a small group, it's easy to feel lost in the crowd. Brent's schedule won't allow him to go with me each week, so I'm trying to decide whether a couple's group or a women's group would be best for me. I'm anxious to get "plugged in" somewhere!

5. Get out with the kids more. I've done pretty well with this over the past year, but now that the kids are walking and more "mobile" I want to do more. The park, Exploration Place, the zoo...wherever! They love to be out of the house, and being cooped up in the house is so lonely for all of us! (This resolution can be combined with Resolution #1--I need to get some play dates set up!)

There you have it...if you have some of your own, I'd love to hear them!

OK, about #2: You know how much I love Dream Dinners, but now that the kids are eating so much (you should SEE these boys eat) it's not very affordable for us. We were getting by with the 3-serving meals, but now we definitely need the 6-serving meals which puts it out of our price range. I asked Brent what types of meals he'd like to see me fix (keep in mind that I usually try to make something pretty "involved"--roast, grilled meats, fancy sandwiches--because I thought that's what he wanted). One day I spent a WHOLE AFTERNOON making a homemade roasted red pepper lasagna that he turned his nose up at, but he attacks a frozen store-brand lasagna like it's gourmet. Sooooo...of ALL the meals in the world that he could pick from, THIS was his top 5 list:

  1. Frozen fish sticks and boxed macaroni & cheese
  2. Frozen Tony's pizzas (or occasionally the $.99 Totino's frozen pizzas)
  3. Boxed Old El Paso taco dinner kits
  4. Chili dogs (canned chili and hot dogs)
  5. Frozen Hungry Man dinners

A PIECE OF MY SOUL DIED when I heard this list. Do you know how many hours I've wasted trying to fix meals to impress him and THIS is what he's been wanting all along?! I AM A LIBERATED WOMAN! What will I do with all of my new-found time?!

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday afternoon

Aunt Judy responded to the birthday post from yesterday: "You and LeAnn have made me what I am today, old and haggard." HA!!! We are definitely the reason for some of her gray hairs, for sure! I can't take credit for her *sparkling* personality, though! (For those of you who haven't met my Aunt Judy, she IS the Maxine character from Hallmark!) :-)

I took the kids to Urgent Care this afternoon to have Graham's ears checked out. At our doctor's appt. last week she mentioned that one of his eardrums was concave, and would likely turn into an ear infection. Since our insurance changes Jan. 1 and I have to work all week, I took him over there for a peek at his ears today. Verdict: Double ear infection...AGAIN. He's on another round of antibiotics.

I have a pair of athletic pants that I love--they're the slick material kind that have a mesh lining. They're so well-loved that a hole has worn next to one of the pockets. I tell you that to tell you this... As I was unloading the kids at the doctor's office, I dropped my keys into what I thought was my pocket. I realized that it wasn't my pocket when my keys slid all the way down to my ankles, trapped between the layers of material in my pants. I stood in the parking lot for a while trying to decide how to MacGyver their rescue, then finally ripped the original hole bigger and was able to reach DOWN through the opening after them. I'm sure THAT looked suave. Now I have a sewing project to do...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Aunt Judy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNT JUDY!

I wonder what the kids and grandkids have in store for you today? I wish I was there to torment you...er, I mean celebrate with you...today! In honor of your birthday, I'm making salmon patties for my household tonight for dinner. If Sophie was older, I might take her to Sears for a traumatizingly embarrassing bra shopping trip, or I'd loudly listen to oldies music while dropping her off at school. Sigh...she's lucky she's so young...she has no idea what I have in store for her later in life... Experiences like that build character, I say!!!

Now...where did I leave my Alba 77 shake? LeAnn and I might come and have a sleepover at your house tonight for old time's sake...we're going to ask you to drop us off at the mall for a while, though. And run us through Sonic. We'd eat a chocolate Pop Tart to tide us over, but they're Uncle Leroy's. But first we need to make a few phone calls...

A late Merry Christmas

We hope everyone had a great Christmas! It was relaxed and low-key around here. Here are a few pictures of the kids with gifts. This first set is of them opening gifts from our friends Lori and Dorothy. One of the gifts Sophie got was a baby doll that comes with bath stuff--a bar of pretend soap, a rubber duck, etc. Sophie kept kissing the duck! The baby also came with a diaper, so she tried diapering the baby.


Kelly and Roger got them a bunch of toys, including a huge set of play food. Leslie also got them a set of play food, so we have a virtual grocery store here! They also got the boys some tools (you can see the power drill in one picture), everyone an outfit, and each of them got an apron. They didn't want to take their aprons off!! The boys' have tools on theirs, and Sophie's has a strawberry on the front. Now we're ready for some messy apron-needing activities!! (Like cookies....mmmm...cookies...)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas with Dad, Louise and Joshua

We've already been lucky enough to open some of our Christmas presents! Dad, Louise and Joshua come down for the weekend to celebrate Christmas early since Brent is scheduled to work on Friday. Sophie keeps asking where "Geema and Gempa" went. I wish we lived closer together!

Sophie is CRAZY about her new rocking horse! AND she got a new baby doll that she loves...

The boys fighting over one of their toys...and Sophie refereeing!

Graham's favorite gift of all was mommy's new mixing bowl! He walked around with this thing on his head FOREVER. It acted as his helmet when he would occasionally run into things. Ha!! Then he was determined to get onto the horse, so tried to use a package...

The kids are so enamored by our nephew Joshua! Blake loved sitting by Josh on the couch like a big boy...

More pictures as the holiday continues!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Amy!!!

I swear that I'm losing my mind...I was almost positive that Amy's birthday is on the 20th, but I'm suddenly having a panic attack that it might be today. (I need a calendar of all of the family birthdays on it! Can one of the Schuler gang send me a list??) Since it's too late to call her tonight to confirm, I'm going to post a happy birthday message now. If it is in fact today, I'll be groveling for forgiveness tomorrow for not calling!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMY!!!
Now that Sophie knows how to sing "Happy Birthday", she can sing you a solo! We love you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!


We wish we could spend the day with you! We love you!! We'll see you soon!! Sophie learned how to sing "Happy Birthday" last night...enjoy. :-) Click on the play button below the video.

To anyone wondering about the glasses...Dad would pick me up from Junior High wearing these glasses. TALK ABOUT EMBARRASSING!!!
video

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sophie's fish ornament

Our MAPS group had a big Christmas party last night, and we did an ornament exchange where you could pick a wrapped ornament or steal someone else's. There were a lot of beautiful ornaments being exchanged, but when I saw this fun fish ornament I just HAD to have it for Sophie. She loves fish!! She calls them "ish." Ha!! I couldn't wait for her to wake up this morning so I could show her, and she's crazy about it. Here's a picture of her kissing it.

Isn't it funny that when you become a parent your idea of what is "valuable" changes? I knew this ornament was the most "valuable" one I could bring home--her smile was worth it! She wanted to feed it waffles. :-) We finally snuck it away and put it back on the tree!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pictures from the MAPS Hoe Down

Erin, a former MAPS mom, was taking pictures at the Hoe Down (BBQ & square dancing) event I mentioned in an earlier post. She made everyone a neat collage, so I thought I'd share it here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Louise!!!

Today is Louise's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOUISE!! We wish we were there to celebrate with you! Have a wonderful birthday--we love you!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I am a coupon QUEEN!!

I LOVE COUPONS, as many of you know! KMart was doubling $2 coupons this week, and even though I never shop at KMart I thought I'd go check it out. Here's what I got:

9 Loreal eyeshadows
48-piece Crayola sidewalk chalk
10 Gillette bodywashes for Brent
3 Betty Crocker cookie mixes
2 Betty Crocker frostings
1 box Huggies disposable washcloths
1 bottle Huggies lotion
1 bottle Dove conditioner
1 can Glade air freshener
1 package Hershey Kisses (dark chocolate...ooooh soooo good)
2 Hershey dark chocolate bars
1 package Tic Tac Chill
$$$ TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $94.49 $$$
$$$ TOTAL AFTER COUPONS: $7.60 $$$
TOTAL SAVINGS...OVER 92% SCORE!!!!

I had to share! Pretty cool, eh?!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Riddle answer!

The riddle from yesterday: "A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, then left on Friday. How did he do it?"

Answer: His horse's name was Friday.

My brain just couldn't come up with that answer--I was trying to make it FAR more complicated. My answer involved Leap Year and an international time zone. HA!! Sydney looked at me with a blank expression when I gave her my answer.

Kudos to my cousin LeAnn--she guessed it right!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy December!

Happy Cyber Monday! We haven't even started Christmas shopping, so I might have to participate in cyber Monday shopping tonight. Brent said that one of the most fun shopping years he ever had was when he waited and did ALL of his shopping on Christmas Eve. This is also the guy that has a lifelong goal to be one of the crazies in line somewhere on Black Friday when the stores open. He loves a good challenge and the thrill of a crowd. Boy, are we opposites! Give me a hot cup of coffee and some warm PJs...I'll do all of my shopping online, thank you very much! :-)

Blake is SO MUCH BETTER--hallelujah!! We had Devin and Sydney over last night (our pre-teen neighbors from our old neighborhood), and the kids LOVED it. It was nice to have some company, too. I love our new neighborhood, but would give anything to have them as neighbors again!

Here's a riddle that Sydney had for me last night: A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, then left on Friday. How did he do it?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in the hospital

Happy Black Friday! Did you brave the crowds and find any great bargains?? If so, I'd love to hear about them!

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Our pediatrician admitted Blake into the hospital Wednesday night, and we spent two nights there. The virus that they've been battling left him really dehydrated, and he wouldn't eat or drink anything--he just wanted to sleep. They pumped him full of fluids and he finally perked up a little, but it took a lot longer than I expected it to. Now the challenge is to keep him hydrated, but he doesn't have much interest in drinking now that we're home. Brent stayed home with Sophie and Graham while I stayed with Blake. Dad and Louise came last night to help out, and brought leftover Thanksgiving dinner for us to heat up today. My friend Barbara Jean sent some of their leftovers, too, so we had dinner today after Blake and I got home. We'll try to have a "traditional" Thanksgiving celebration another time!

Here are some pics of our hospital stay:


These are some from today--he finally got his color back and was feeling a little more like himself!

The green frog is from a staff member who works at the hospital. She came around to visit all of the patients on the pediatric floor, and he got to pick out a brand new toy from her basket. Isn't that a great gesture by the hospital?! I hadn't brought any toys with us, and Blake was instantly attached to his new toy. Doesn't the first picture look like it's watching over him as he slept? The woman who gave it to him said she was particularly fond of frogs because they stand for "Fully Rely On God." Amen!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CT results

I got the results of the CT scan--everything checked out normal! I breathed a huge sigh of relief when they called. I was worried sick about it. That still doesn't solve the mystery of what's causing my pain, but we'll wait until after the first of the year to look into it further (and hopefully it will be gone by then?!).

God has quite a sense of humor...now the CATS are throwing up. Ha! Is He testing me?! Sophie is pretty much back to normal, but is really sleepy. I'm sure her body is recuperating. Graham stopped throwing up and hasn't run a fever today. Blake is another story--his fever was 103 today, and he hasn't eaten much at all today. The doctor sent us to the urgent care office tonight to have some blood drawn. She wanted to check his electrolyte levels, which were pretty out of whack. They told us to force as many fluids into him as we could tonight, and let them know how he's doing tomorrow. Poor guy, he just curls up into a ball and sleeps wherever he is. You know, as I write this I'm wondering...do kids this small get mono? Maybe I need to ask the doctor about it tomorrow. They're all unusually sleepy.

More tomorrow--hopefully I'll be telling you "the kids are all better"!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend with the sick kids

Sophie continued to run a high fever through the weekend, then started throwing up. Blake started running a high fever on Saturday, and also started throwing up. Graham hasn't ever run much of a fever, but not to be outdone by brother and sister...joined in and started throwing up. Our carpet shampooer has gotten quite a workout this weekend! Ick, ick, ick. I'm going to call the doctor this morning to see if there's anything we can do. I'm staying home from work today so our sitter Leslie doesn't take some nasty virus home to her family for Thanksgiving. I think Brent is silently thanking God that he's worked all weekend! We have a big quilt that we use for picnics spread out on the living room carpet, and here's a picture of Blake and Sophie napping together yesterday afternoon.

Let me backtrack and give an update on Friday night--Brent and I went to the hoe-down and had a BLAST! It was at a barn owned by a church member. We had a BBQ dinner (from Hog Wild--so good!) then got into groups to learn square dancing. It was so much fun! The only downside to the evening was that I wasn't dressed warmly enough--they had kerosene patio heaters set up, so I had to "defrost" every now and then. A former MAPS mom was there taking pictures, so I'll post some when I get them from her. We also won the grand door prize--a night's stay at a bed & breakfast in Yoder! I couldn't believe it! Now...who wants to volunteer to stay with the kids so we can redeem it?? Anyone??...(crickets chirping)...Hello??....(chirp, chirp, chirp)...Is this thing on??...

Then to add to my good fortune, Saturday morning my friend Melissa snuck me away for breakfast. She knew I had a long weekend of "sick baby" duty ahead of me, and wanted me to have a little break and a good breakfast. We went to the Copper Oven, which was fantastic. I had a philly steak scramble (honestly, can anything be paired with scrambled eggs and considered a breakfast dish?) with a cranberry muffin, and great cup of "Angel Lace Cookie" coffee. I'm going to attempt to recreate the philly steak dish at home--it was soooo good. My mouth is watering as I write this!

Now, back to reality and the sick kiddos. Graham is the only one awake so far, and feels awfully warm. He's sitting here drinking his bottle and staring off into space. Blake and Sophie are still sleeping (this is over an hour past their normal wake-up time), and I'm going to let them sleep until they wake up on their own. Please pray for healing around this place!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sophie's fever

Sophie ran a temperature of 104.9 last night, and we were able to get it down to 102 with ibuprofen and a bath. The doctor wanted a strep test done this morning, and we were all surprised that it came back negative. The lab technician said her tonsils are so swollen that they're almost touching. She had a bad night and ended up sleeping with us. I think she was having nightmares--she kept waking up screaming. Our cat, Edge, is the "watchdog (watchcat?)" over the kids, and is especially close by when one of them is sick. He usually doesn't sleep near the head of the bed, but last night he was practically attached to Sophie. It was a sweet sight! So far the boys haven't shown signs of getting sick, but I expect that might change as the weekend progresses.

My CT scan yesterday was a little more involved than I expected. I thought I'd be in and out in less than an hour, but it was closer to three hours. I had to drink two big bottles of chalky liquid, then they gave me an IV for the contrast dye. Holy cow--surely if there's something in there they'll be able to see it with all of that?? Keeping my fingers crossed that they figure it out, and that it's NOTHING to worry about. In the meantime, I'm worrying myself crazy over it...

Kelly is going to brave the germs and come watch the kids for us tonight so we can go to the MAPS "hoe-down". They'll have a BBQ dinner and square dancing, and we'd been really looking forward to it before Sophie got sick. Hopefully she's feeling ok by the time we leave, and even if we can just go long enough to have dinner it will be fun to get out of the house on a pseudo-date!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Our Christmas tree is up, decorated and twinkly! We decided to try to have a Christmas picture taken at home this year to put with our Christmas cards, so Brent wanted to go ahead and put the tree up a little early. Brent got the furniture moved around and the tree put up while the kids and I were at Bible study, then we decorated it last night. I'm so glad we did--it looks great! The kids love it and they can't stop looking at it. We have a gate around it to keep "little hands" from touching it--I'll post pictures soon.

Tomorrow is our last MAPS session for the semester, but the kids and I will unfortunately miss it. I'm scheduled for a CT scan in the morning to see if they can figure out my mystery pain. I'll keep you posted.

Yesterday was my Bible study group's turn to work with the kids in the nursery during our normal class time. My friend Shanee and I teamed up and did craft and song time together. The craft was a long piece of paper that the kids spread glue on with foam "brushes", then sprinkled colored sand on to symbolize all of Abraham's descendants. It was a neat idea, but a MESS! I have such an appreciation for teachers!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Toaster oven?

Graham's ear doesn't seem to bother him a bit. He also doesn't seem to mind the taste of his antibiotic...we're lucking out! I hope it's doing the trick.

Not much new at our house--trying to transition the boys from bottles to sippy cups, hoping to get Sophie potty-trained before the end of the year, and starting to put some thought into Christmas gifts.

I'm thinking that I'd like to have a toaster oven. (We had one when we were a "pre-children" household, but it broke and we never replaced it because we never used it.) Now I think it would be a dream-come-true...for things like english muffin pizzas, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, dinner rolls. Does anyone have one gathering dust at their house that you want to sell? I hate to spend $75+ on something until I know if I'm a toaster oven gal...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update on Graham's ear

We got in to see the doctor yesterday, and she said Graham's eardrum definitely ruptured. She was surprised that the other eardrum hadn't ruptured yet--apparently it's pretty bad, too. POOR GUY! She gave him an antibiotic to take for 10 days, then we go back to see her in about 3 weeks to make sure the hole in his eardrum has healed up. She said only about 2% of babies need to have surgical correction to the eardrum after it ruptures, so we're prayerful that he'll heal up fine. He's a toughy!

To add insult to injury, all three of the kids got a flu vaccination yesterday, too. I didn't think they'd give Graham one since he's sick, but they did. Sophie was able to take the nasal mist vaccination, but the boys got shots in the leg. They need to go back in a month to get the second dose (since it's their first year getting one, they have to have two to make sure it "sticks".) They both handled it pretty well! One little grunt out of Graham, and a couple minutes of crying out of Blake. He's sensitive like his mommy. :-)

Sophie is either a night owl or an insomniac. Last night she wouldn't go to bed until 11:30pm--if I put her in her room she would scream a blood-curdling scream until I went back in. It wasn't her normal "I'm bored, please come entertain me" cry--it was a fearful cry--so I don't feel good about letting her cry it out. We're cutting her naps way back and not letting her sleep so late in the morning...hopefully it will solve itself.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Graham's eardrum

Poor Graham--his eardrum ruptured! I was taking him out of the bathtub tonight and getting him ready for bed, and green ick started pouring out of his ear. He hasn't been acting like anything's been bothering him, so it was a total surprise! All three of them have had runny noses for a day or so (and Blake feels like he has a little fever tonight), but nothing indicated that Graham was having such trouble. I called the doctor and she reassured me that he probably feels much better now that it ruptured, and to call her office first thing tomorrow morning to get him in to see her. He feel right to sleep, and never did cry about it or anything. (Then why do I feel like a terrible mom that might have missed a sign that he was having trouble???)

Sophie had a terrible night last night--she wouldn't go to sleep until after 11pm, then woke up several times during the night screaming for us. I finally grabbed a blanket and curled up with her in her tiny little bed. My back feels like it's in knots today, but by golly--she finally slept! Those nights won't be so rough once we move her up to a full-size bed, but this toddler bed with its itty-bitty mattress is torture. :-)

I'll let you know what the doctor says tomorrow!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Belated 60th, Aunt Kris!! (updated with pics!)

I goofed!! I had today marked on my calendar for my Aunt Kris' 60th birthday, but it was actually on the 1st...HAPPY BELATED 60th, AUNT KRIS!!

As promised, here are a couple of videos of the big walkers (push the play button to the lower left of each of the pictures to play the video) :

video video

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy post-Election Day!

Aren't you glad it's over?? I've not said much about the election (I don't feel qualified to throw my two cents around), but I'm so glad to have yesterday behind us! Maybe our phone will stop ringing with all of the political recordings? Some of the most intelligent, successful people we know had passionately opposing opinions on which candidate was the best choice. I've never had more desire to host a dinner party and let them duke it out.
:-) Our own "town hall debate"--Stiles style! Nothing fancy--just BBQ and two podiums. Brent admits that he probably would have been the most opinionated guest there, though, so it's probably better that the party never happened. :-)

Blake has a new tooth! Another top one--that makes four on bottom and three on top!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lots of weekend pictures

The kids had a fun Halloween, and the boys have an uncanny ability to dig through a bucket of candy to find the suckers. Here are a few pictures of the weekend!

The kids opening their Halloween cards from Grandma & Grandpa Schuler:

We went to Melissa's office first, then to the bank. Graham really wanted to share his sucker!


Kelly made them each treat bags full of candy and Easy Mac. HA!! They love Easy Mac!!

While the kids napped after their sugar buzz, Brent carved pumpkins--with his power tools. :-) He says this is the way he plans to do it every year from now on! It has a bit of a learning curve, though--notice the pumpkin in the middle is missing an eyeball, and the one on the left should be a big smile with teeth...we got a good laugh over those!

Time for trick-or-treating!

We went to Exploration Place over the weekend to check out their children's area. It was just what we'd been looking for! With the weather getting cooler, I've been looking for somewhere to take the kids to play. They have a water station with bathtub toys, a play kitchen, a Lego table and train tables. The section that we played in is for ages 3 and under, so the toys are geared towards their size and age. The steps are wide and shallow, and the boys loved climbing up and down them. They had it figured out in no time!



Here's a video of the kids playing in the water!
video
We spent some time in the main exhibit areas, too. They have an aviation exhibit that's permanent (we are the Air Capitol of the World!), and two traveling exhibits--one on the human body and one on POOP. Seriously.

Brent had fun playing the flight simulation games in the aviation exhibit.

This is a video of the wall in the aviation room. The entire wall is covered with tiny metal discs, and the tower holds two high-powered fans. You can "steer" the wind to see changes in wind currents. (This is only a small portion of this wall--it's huge! Notice the girl at the bottom of the screen--that gives you an indication of the wall's height.) Cool stuff!
video