Monday, December 31, 2012


If I really wanted to do a year-end recap justice, I’d be rambling on from now until the ball drops, so….I’m going to try to follow in my dear Mandie’s footsteps, and just do a photo-a-month summary.  Here’s to my best effort!

chaotic home
January…. Home again, home again, jiggety jig.  Moving back to Ohio from Tennessee in the middle of winter with two toddlers while 5 months pregnant meant we lived amid half-unpacked boxes for weeks on end, and avoided unpacking with multiple readings of Otis.  Seth started karate, Tiffany surprised us with a whirlwind visit, and we adjusted to life without our White House besties.

library story time

February… Winter in Ohio isn’t super fun.  I’d forgotten.  But we learned our way around our new town, visiting the uptown library for storytime, and practiced the layout of the neighborhood Kroger.  Seth got his first buzzed haircut, thanks to Uncle Josh.  Erin got her long-awaited rainboots.  We spent a lot of time in our jammies, and, to be honest, I spent a lot of time reminding myself that moving “home” was the right thing to do.

andreas bday 
March….  We logged SO MANY MILES in the Flex in March, and it was worth every one.  We started out the month with a visit to Chicago to visit Daina and her boys, and then worked our way further north to spend a few days in the Wisconsin Dells, where we purchased our timeshare property (which we have already enjoyed so much).  After going north, we headed south for a much-needed visit with our WH peeps.  The weather was ideal and we got to see so many of our friends and just enjoy each other’s company again.  I was able to be the one to send Tiffany off on her National Guard adventure while we were there, which, of course, was bittersweet.  We hosted some more Internet-turned-real friends in our home (before they trekked from their North Dakota home to sunny California), and I retook my drivers’ test in order to get my Ohio license back.

monica ali funeral babies

April…  April was emotional.  The month started out with me getting a stomach thing that was ROUGH. Easter was sweet, and we took the time to travel to Bellevue to visit my grandparents (which is always a great time), and I even took the kiddos to the Cleveland zoo to meet up with friends, but the month was overshadowed by the sudden death of my aunt Kim, my dad’s only sister, and the last living member of his immediate family.  While it was wonderful to see so many members of my family (that is my cousin Ali [Kim’s oldest daughter], newly pregnant herself!) at the funeral, traveling back and forth to Cleveland several days in a row resulted in some health issues that led to some blood pressure issues that landed me in the hospital for a few days.  That experience ended up being so much more traumatic than I could have prepared for (I have yet to blog about it), and the month kind of ended on a sour note.

family mat shoot guesses jeg brth annc

May…  In May, everything changed.  Little Miss became a toddler with turning TWO, we said goodbye to being a family of four, and we welcomed the final, perfect, member of our family with James Ethan’s birth.  Some changing family dynamics stretched my heart, and the outpouring of love from some unexpected sources (also not blogged about or properly thanked – shame on me! Katie, Rachel, Jess…I love you gals!) took my breath away.  Maternity and newborn photo shoots gave us memories to treasure forever, and sweet friends in Tennessee made sure even sweet Duncan had his third birthday commemorated.

seth erin water

June… June was SO HOT, and found us, newborn and all, at the pool a lot.   Karate in the park, trips to Sonic, backyard pool time at Gramma’s, and lots and lots and lots of snuggling baby James was how we ushered out the first half of the year.  Seth got bunk beds, and we partied hard at cookouts, and it was summer fun at its best.

tiff ee plummer pool

July…  Erin moved into her big girl bed, our master bedroom got painted, and we celebrated Independence Day with a cookout at Auntie Heidi’s and then fireworks in Gramp-e’s backyard.  We had breakfast at the zoo, and Seth made his first solo trip to Tennessee to visit Gage, but most importantly, our wonderful Miss Tiffany came home from Army training and spent a week of vacation with us, and it was WONDERFUL.

first day preschool siblings

August…  August was good to us.  Visits to Bellevue to see the great grandparents were sweet (and Erin got asked to be a flower girl in Amy and Ben’s wedding next fall!); a trip to Tennessee early in the month was awesome (and not just because AP finally got to meet James!); we spent lots of time at the park; Erin’s hair grew a million inches; the upstairs bedrooms got painted; Daddy got a great deal on a bike trailer; and the big littles started preschool for the year.  While we did say goodbye to Jim’s grandfather, and though I did battle the worst case of thrush EVER KNOWN TO MAN, I’d have to say August was probably my favorite month of 2012.

fall mowing audience 
September… September was also none-too-shabby.  (I mean, c’mon, they made fudge covered coconut creme Oreos!)  But the leaves turned, the temps fell, and I got an awesome new knife for my 32nd birthday.  Nonna and Grandma came to visit Over the Rainbow for grandparents’ day, and my sweet friend “kekis” welcomed her so-long-awaited daughter Kate. We geared up for the new Mom Journey at church, and I finally started to really feather my nest with the arrival of my most favorite season.

sweet 7 
October… Full of more stuff I have yet to blog about.  Doh!  A WONDEFUL 7th anniversary trip to Gatlinburg, complete with four-wheeling and wonderful meals and moonshine from Ron and Brenda, bookended with the Steelers vs. Titans game with the Hatches and buying Jim’s new work car, was a fabulous way to start the month.  Wonderful fall festivities like pumpkin picking with friends and, of course, trick or treating (even in sleet) rounded out the month.

lights before 
November…. The month of Thankswinning and the return of our Miss Tiffany for 10 whole days!  I mean, yes, I had hernia surgery and the boys got ear infections and James cut his first tooth, but really, it was all about the fun we had and how complete our family felt when Tiff was here with us.  We decked our halls and made a killer Thanksgiving dinner and saw Lincoln and  shopped and ate and ate and ate and it even snowed and we went to the Lights Before Christmas at the zoo and took our Christmas card photo and celebrated Seth’s 5th birthday (early) and took the kids Christmas shopping and made popcorn balls and mourned the death of Hostess with Tiff’s first fruit pie…. it was, simply, the best week-plus, like, ever.

2012 Christmas Card 
and December… And the year o’ transition went out with a bang.  Seth returned to Tennessee with Tiffany after Thanksgiving, so we trekked down there to pick him up the first weekend of the month.  We were able to go out to dinner with our (old? former?) small group-slash-best friends at the Cheesecake Factory and I have not laughed that hard in a sweet forever (even if Andy has forever ruined the song Sleigh Ride for me).  We ventured to Opry Mills and the Gaylord to see the lights and “That Elusive Tree” and I was also able to attend the baby shower for our former pastor’s wife (which was SO special, as they have waited a sweet forever for this precious gift!).  The rest of the month was mostly a blur due to Erin’s surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids, and what was supposed to be routine turned into 8 days in the hospital.  Thankfully we were home in time for Christmas – which was also so special, since it is our first Christmas at home since 2007 (which was sort of a no brainer that year, since Seth was just days old!).  Speaking of, Big Mister turned 5, was a rockstar at his school program, and enjoyed Christmas like never before!  James’ first Christmas, Erin’s PINK!!! BIKE!!!, the girl-less photo with Santa… It was a month of wonderful memory making…

And even as I sit here drafting this post, interrupted numerous times, because my big little is puking his guts out, I have to say, 2012 was nothing like I thought it would be.  But what ever is?  So…..bring it on, 2013.  I don’t know what you’ll have in store for me and those I love most, but…..I’m ready.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

merry family vintage siblings

From our growing family to yours…..

From our home, for the first time since 2007….

From hearts overflowing with love and gratitude for a year beyond our wildest imaginations…


Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Score one for SantaMommy

When we took the kids to see Santa, Erin was PETRIFIED.  Like, we have a framed picture of the boys with Santa.  No Erin.

Nope, she stood behind the photographer having a complete meltdown, and when asked if she didn't want to tell Santa what she was wishing for for Christmas, she just screamed "PINK!!! BIKE!!!" through her tears.

Well, Erin got a big wheel trike for her birthday in May, so it didn't really seem plausible that she'd be getting another bike for Christmas, but.....

On a whim, I scanned Craig's List, and found this:

For only $5!!!

So, needless to say, Elf Daddy and Elf Big Brother are picking this up while they are out and about running errands this weekend.

It may be too big, and it may be used, and it may not even work, for all I know, but for the smile I'm sure to get from Erin on Christmas morning when she sees this under the tree, I'd have paid way more than must $5.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

10 Things I Learned from Erin’s Surgery: Part I

You would think what with all the time I had to prepare for Erin’s tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A), I would have waltzed into the experience with nary a care.  After all, I’d been sure we were headed to this point for almost 10 months.  But, alas, when it was all said and done, I realized I knew NOTHING about what this “rite of passage,” if you will, would teach me.

I know several friends who have faced, or are facing a similar procedure, so I made a (not0even close to comprehensive) list of some of the things I learned during our T&A journey.

10. When your little one is scared, it seems to help if you, as the momma, fake bravery.  Even when you aren’t brave; only anxious.  And tired.  Because, man, you have to get to the hospital early for these things!

sept 502

9.  A good nurse is worth her weight, and then some, in gold.  Or other precious commodity of choice.  The longer we were in triage, the more antsy Erin and I both got.  Our nurse recognized this, and brought over stickers, and a strawberry-scented mask to get Erin used to it.  She was so wonderful, and one of several nurses we would have during our stay that made me, as a momma, feel so much better about this whole thing.

 8.  No matter how much faith you have, or how reassuring the doctor tries to be, seeing your little one being wheeled away on a gurney will pretty much shatter your heart.  I probably don’t have to elaborate on that point, do I?  Thank goodness that the separation, from this point, until she was back in my arms, was only about an hour.

sept 511 
7. You’re going to experience a lot of physical discomfort during recovery.  Erin wanted to be held, or slept with, pretty much ‘round the clock after surgery, and no matter how willing my heart was to accommodate her, man, my body was not up to the task.  I came away with bruises and stiff muscles, and limbs that feel asleep to excruciating degrees.  Oh!  And did I mention being only inches away from her mouth was torture.  Seriously.  No one warns you that post-T&A breath is about the foulest thing you’ll ever smell.  Seriously.  It is SO BAD.  SO BAD.

sept 514 
6.  They’re not gonna be themselves. =(  Erin vacillated between being loopy and drugged up from pain meds, to being still and listless due to pain.  She was quiet (because it hurt to talk) and she looked so sad and pathetic, I was often asking the nurse, “is this normal, is she okay?”  And of course I was reassured that it was just the anesthesia wearing off and that she’d be back to normal in no time.  But still, I wasn’t prepared for it.

sept 515 
5.  A person can indeed watch entirely too much Nick Jr. in one setting.  OMG, seriously, I watched Team Umizoomi for 8 days straight.  EIGHT.  DAYS.  STRAIGHT.  With only limited breaks….and that was only to switch to the random Bubble Guppies episode.

sept 517 
4.  Visiting siblings will have more fun with the hospital toys than the patient.  I shouldn’t have even bothered packing busy items (crayons, puzzles, etc.), or having the candy-stripers bring down rec room toys.  Erin was so miserable that first day, she couldn’t have cared less about playing with anything.

sept 523

3.  On the chance that your child perks up, and, oh, requests a cheeseburger for dinner, don’t hold your breath…..  Our nurses were SO thrilled with Erin’s desire to drink and eat about 8 hours after surgery.  She was mowing down popsicles and juice cups like nobody’s business, and even asked to have a cheeseburger for dinner.  Yea, Erin!  You’re a rockstar!!!!  Several nurses commented that they NEVER get toddlers to respond this well, since they are usually so overwhelmed by the pain.  I was proud of her, and so thankful that we were on track to be headed home the next day!

sept 522 
2. …..because she can go from being the Cheeseburglar Reincarnate, to looking like death warmed over.   This photo pretty much sums up what this experience was really like.  Pale skin.  Sunken eyes.  Matted hair.  And popsicles melting, untouched, into a cup.  In hindsight, I can’t believe they actually let us leave the hospital, because it seems apparent (now) that she was headed for trouble once she was off the good pain meds.

sept 524 
1. There may be a point after you’re released that the you-know-what hits the fan.  Or, as the case may be, doesn’t.  Let me explain.  The pain meds that were prescribed for us AT HOME were unacceptable to Erin’s palate, and she WOULD NOT take it.  Ergo, she would/could not swallow.  Ergo, she got dehydrated.  And constipated.  REALLY constipated.  Like, finally passed out on my bathroom floor from the pain and effort of trying to poop.  Oh, it was heartbreaking, and it was at this point, I pretty much knew we were headed back to the hospital.

sept 529

To be continued….

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13

Am I the only one that has a bizarre ability to remember and assign significance to dates?

It occurred to me earlier this week that I was pregnant with all four of my children on December 13.  Now, I realize, given the span of dates that an individual pregnancy can cover, this isn't really an impressive feat.  But, to me, it is special.

December 13, 2007, was the last full day I was pregnant with Seth.  I was induced that night.

December 13, 2008.  Duncan was just starting his life, having been conceived, ahem, a little unexpectedly, early that week.

December 13, 2009, I was eagerly making preparations to announce Erin's presence to the world at large, having kept her pregnancy a secret from most people for almost 5 months.

And, since I'm nice like that, I gave 2010 the day off. ;)

December 13, 2011, James was taking a backseat not to the festivities of the season, but to the hustle and bustle of our cross country move.  But, still, he was there, an ever-presence.

And today..... 2102.  It's "just" a Thursday.  Preschool for Seth, albeit accompanied with birthday treats to celebrate the milestone of 5.  Snuggles and never-ending Team Umizoomi for the still-recovering Erin.  James has cut his second tooth and is determined to master real (as opposed to army-) crawling any moment.  Jim is foregoing hockey so that I can join my Mom Journey girls for a kid-free dinner.

I'm not pregnant.  Can't possible be pregnant.  And 99 time out of 100, I'm okay with that fact.

Tomorrow, I will wake up and have a 5 year old.  Hardly seems possible.  The holidays, of course, ramp up the sentiment and nostalgia, so I'm missing Duncan a bit more than usual.  My hands are full to overflowing with the care of James and Erin.

My normal-not-pregnant December 13 is pretty amazing, actually.  Chapter closed.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Monday, 10 December, 2012, 0800, my beana girl is going to be in surgery at Toledo Children's Hospital.

She needs to have her tonsils and adenoids removed, and while I KNOW this is the best decision for her, and while I have received all the information in the world to make me comfortable with the procedure....


She is my baby, and they are putting her to sleep, and cutting tissue out of her body, and why yes, I did, dive into a half-gallon of Dark Chocolate ice cream late Sunday night in a fit of uncontrolled emotional eating.


Seriously.  This adorableness in a hospital gown on a gurney?


I wish it could be me.

I will try to pull myself away from her snuggly little self and our shared tray of Jell-O jigglers to update y'all on how she come through the operation and hospital stay when I get a chance.

In the meantime, feel free to send your thoughts and prayers to us on Monday morning and in the days to follow.