Thursday, December 31, 2009

Our very own Santa!

There is a good friend of Ben's that goes to our church. To us and all other adults his name is Robert. To all the children in our ward, including my two children, his name is 'Santa'.

Robert is a kind man with a regular job and family. During the holidays he dyes his beard white and takes extra work as Santa Clause. But even in mid-July when my children see him in the halls on Sunday they say "hi Santa!" and give him a big hug and an even bigger smile.

We are blessed to have the "Real Santa" (that is what Emma calls him) available to us whenever we want him. Not everyone can say that. Someone told me that they overheard Emma tell him "Santa, I got all the presents you left for me on Christmas. Thank you!"

I was so glad I didn't have to wait in line at the mall for a picture of Santa while hoping shy Matthew would cooperate. Our Santa came to our church and Matthew and Emma were not shy at all about sitting on his lap for a photo opportunity. But why would they, they see him every week at church!

Thanksgiving Feast at Pre K

Emma's Pre-school planned a big feast and invited family members to participate. I made some yummy stuffing and brought my mom along to have lunch with Emma before their Thanksgiving break began. We were serenaded by the kids with a cute Thanksgiving song as they wore their turkey hats. It was a pretty nice afternoon. I really enjoy being able to do things with Emma at her Pre-school. I plan to be an active parent at her schools for as long as possible!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fall Break

Emma had a break from school in September and she was a little disappointed that we didn't do anything special during her vacation. I think some of her friends at school were going out of town and she assumed we were going somewhere to.

So during her Fall Break, I decided to try and make it special and go somewhere she had been asking about for a while: Chuck E Cheese. I had somehow accumulated a some tokens and thought this was the perfect time to use them. We went the day before Thanksgiving and the place was pretty empty - just perfect! We had fun going on all the rides and playing the games. Matthew, as expected, cried every time we left one thing but would be excited to see something new.

One of Ben's drum students, Matt, recently took a job at Chuck E Cheese and even gets to play the famous Mouse. He was working the day we went and came to talk to us for a bit. Then he left to go wake Chuck E. from his nap and although Matt mysteriously disappeared, the kids got to take a good picture with our favorite local mouse.

We earned a bunch of tickets and used them to buy Emma's favorite treat that we rarely get to have - Cotton Candy. I'm sure Emma was not disappointed with her vacation this time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Trick or Treat Crew

For the second year in a row, we spent Halloween with my brother and my niece, Angel. It is becoming a great tradition and we had tons of fun, even in the rain. Emma enjoys her cousin so much! I don't think it matters where we go or how much candy she gets - as long as Angelina is by her side, she is the happiest girl in the world.

Matthew had a rough start. I got him the coolest Superman costume with a cape and everything. He tried it on the first day but refused to wear it on Halloween. So I rummaged thru his closet and threw together a Cowboy costume the best I could. He wasn't thrilled about that either until Uncle Vini gave him a flashlight to use. After that he was ready to go!

Emma was supposed to be Princess Ariel but while I was trying to get Matthew ready to leave she immerged from her room in fairy wings, a crown, and extra jewelry. She ended up being a Mermaid Fairy Gypsy Princess! She looked great.

Angel and I were witches and my brother had the coolest Pirate costume. We were a good looking crew. I hope we will be able to keep up this tradition for a long time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Purple Gown

Matthew had several doctor appointments in the past month. The two biggest ones being for his MRI and his EEG. The results were a relief as they both did not show any changes from previous tests. The doctors were just checking to see if something major had triggered his incident in August but it does not seem that way. We will just continue to have him on his medication for a little while as directed.

I have to share a funny story about my sweet little boy. Matthew is very well behaved when he is at the doctors. Emma is the same way. Matthew had to get an EEG where he had wires glued to his head and then was wrapped up like mummy. He barely complained and was an overall superstar. The day of his MRI he had to go ALL day without eating (one of his favorite things to do!). Then he was stuck at the doctor's all afternoon because they were behind schedule. Finally, he was poked in the arm for his IV. And thru all this he was a trooper. But then it was time to put his gown on. He did not want his clothes off and to top it all off, the gown was purple. So wrap him up like a mummy, glue his head, starve him, bore him, poke him and he is fine. But try to put a girlie purple gown on him and he explodes! He was crying and screaming telling everyone "No no no - That is Emma's". The poor boy thought they were giving him his sisters clothes. Bless his little heart!
Matthew getting wires glued to his head for his EEG. Still Smiling Sleeping portion of EEG - with pal Blue.
The purple gown.

Catch - Up

So it's been a little longer than usual between blog posts. Mainly because we moved the computer from the Family Room to our bedroom. It has been a big change and now I need to adjust my daily routine so I can get online more regularly. My dream would be to get a wireless laptop like Ben has!

Emma has been busy making new friends at school. One in particular is a boy named Riley who Emma claims she is going to marry. Her father is not too thrilled, but I think it is very cute! Here are the events of last week that are quickly making Ben consider locking Emma in her room until she is 45:

Day 1: Ben finds Emma and Riley sitting together at a table and Emma informs her Daddy that she knows who she is going to marry.

Day 2: The two little 4-year olds are holding hands on the playground. Emma speaks more of her Wedding plans

Day 3: Emma tells Daddy that she gave Riley a kiss. Ben tells his sweet little daughter that she cannot marry Riley because she should marry him. "But you are too old!" Emma replies. So Ben tells her that he will miss her if she gets married and goes away. Emma answers "Well Mommy married you and she sees Papa all the time". Smart little cookies isn't she?!

I attended two baby showers recently. I made a diaper cake for both showers. I have attached a picture of the first one I made below. It is the first time I have made one and I was pretty proud of myself. I added some fresh pink Sunflowers to the top of this one the day of the shower. I also made some fleece baby blankets that turned out really well. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of those.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Pumpkin Patch

Emma had her first field trip last week. It was a rainy afternoon trip to the local Pumpkin Patch. They also visited two old style cabins and learned about life in the 1800's. They learned about how toys from long ago were so simple yet still fun. They also learned about day to day activities from that era. It was a good learning experience for the kids and an all around fun day. It even included a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch where each child took home their very own pumpkin. I'm so glad I was there to share the experience with my daughter and her class. I was worried about the rain, but it turned out to be just a steady drizzle and nothing too serious. Emma enjoyed the chance to use her new raincoat, shoes and umbrella. But she said her favorite parts were seeing the horses and of course riding the school bus!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cherokee Night Out

Last Thursday, the county sponsored a special Family Night. They had all the county emergency organizations put on a small festival. They had all the Emergency vehicles for the kids to look at and the Cherokee Fire Dept created a real fire to put out with their hoses. There were also several special booths filled with information for adults and treats/prizes for the children. Ben is a member of the county's Search and Rescue Team who was also involved in the festivities. It was a fun family night and although I think the kids enjoyed the Fire Truck Bounce House the best, I loved seeing the Fire Dept's Dalmatian.
The beautiful Dalmation we saw.

Firemen putting out a real fire.

Kids in front of Police Cars and Motorcycle

Ben and his friends on the SAR team.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Record Rainfall

Last weekend Georgia had record rainfall. It seemed like it rained for days without stopping. Several counties including ours, Cherokee, are now eligible for federal aid because of all the destruction from the rising waters. Luckily we did not experience too much damage to the house. Our basement filled with some water in spots but nothing too serious. Also, since our basement is unfinished, there was not a lot that could be ruined by the water. I know many people who are having to replace carpet and drywall. My car didn't like the hard rain and collected some puddles in the floorboard, but hopefully it is something I can just air out.

Here are some picutres I was sent from last weekend. The first couple are of the main street we live off of - Towne Lake. The rest are from one exit down from us - Hwy 92. The last is a picture of Six Flags amusement park. This isn't near us. I just think it's amazing to see the rollercoaster surounded by all the water!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The silver lining

On August 11th, 2009 I was picking up the kids from The Hall's where they sometimes go for an hour or so during the week. Everything seems normal as usual. The kids are happy to see me and Matthew is running around joyfully. We start heading to the car and Emma races down the stairs. Matthew is taking his time on the steps as usual but then all of a sudden he stops. I turn to see what the hold up is and he is kind of in a daze. I ask him if he wants me to carry him down the stairs but I get no response. So I just pick him up and that is where it all began.

All of a sudden he vomits on my shoulder. I put him down and he gags and does it again. I kneel down and try to talk to him but he is just gagging. Then I realize he is very pale and does not look like he is breathing. I see that his lips are turning blue so I run upstairs and take him inside. In the house, Cheryl confirms my fears that something is terribly wrong and calls 911 immediately. I lay Matthew down on his side in case he throws up again and I start talking to the 911 operator. Cheryl has Emma sent to another room to play with her daughter Macy so that she is not involved in what is going on. By this time Matthew is starting to breathe but they are very light very shallow breaths. His eyes seem to roll back every once in a while as he is trying to catch his breath. Somehow I've managed not to freak out completely and am trying to soothe Matthew who is slowing getting back to his normal self. I've done a great job of staying calm until I continue talking to the 911 operator. I know that they are supposed to ask you the same questions several different times and different ways to make sure they have all the facts straight, but after the 5th time she asks me "Is he breathing?" the tears start rolling down my cheeks. Within minutes there are paramedics, police officers and firemen in Cheryl's living room. Matthew is still lying on the floor. He is breathing normal but he isn't getting up and he keeps blinking long and hard. Finally, after the policeman tries to ask Matthew questions he gets up and clings to me. Then it’s like nothing ever happened. He is responsive and breathing just fine. Just to be sure all is well we take a ride in the ambulance to the ER to get checked out.

Matthew is breathing 100% now and uses his full lung capacity to scream and cry the whole way to the hospital because he doesn't want to be buckled into his seat. He gets his vitals checked and gets yet another catscan to add to his collection. We hang out at the hospital for a few more hours to find his catscan is normal but his neurologist wants him back on his seizure medication. This is news that I am not thrilled about but as I see Matthew running around the ER with a big smile on his face I know that I need to focus on the silver lining. So much worse could have happened that day. What if he had his episode while I was driving or before I had arrived? What if it was more severe and he had gotten hurt? We were blessed that everyone responded so quickly and that in the end he was safe and we were going home.

Today he had an appointment with the neurologist. He met with Kathie Teta at Child Neurology Associates near Scottish Right. We are told that the best thing would be to keep Matthew on medication until he is seizure free for 2 years. I know this is what the initial plan was supposed to be. But his previous doctor felt that since his progress had been so good and his EEGs showed only some spikes and no full blown seizures that we could try him off the meds. It breaks my heart to know he will be on this medicine for the next two years, but once again.....the silver lining. It is only twice a day. It is only for two years. It will help prevent/control any future seizures. It could be so much worse.

So next week he will have another EEG and then after that another MRI to make sure nothing else is going on that the doctors need to know. I have been trying hard to focus on the silver lining of these gloomy clouds. It’s difficult to do but it's a lot easier when I see Matthew's big smile!

Matthew in the Child Neurology waiting room.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lights Camera Action!

As requested by several people, I have posted a video of Emma singing the song she sang at the Talent Show the other weekend. Sorry the picture isn't very good. I am not the best at using our camera. Now imagine her singing this in a cute dress with a piano and a microphone. Isn't she sweet!

Here are the words in case you want to sing along:

"I'm so glad when Daddy comes home, glad as I can be

Clap my hands and shout for joy and climb up on his knee

Put my arms around his neck, squeeze him tight like this

Pat his cheeks and give him what? ...... A great big kiss!"

Emma learned the Pledge of Allegiance in PreSchool. Thought this was appropriate to post today on 9/11.

No more cribs

Matthew spent this entire week sleeping in a big boy bed.

On Labor Day, Ben took down the crib we've had set up for 4.5 years now. First for Emma, then for Matthew. It was kind of sad seeing it get put away. I plan to re-decorate his room since it seems so empty now without the crib. Maybe some fun sheets and some pictures on the wall.

Ben set up the simple twin bed that he had used when he was a boy and thru his teenage years. It is actually part of a set of bunk beds but we only set up the single bed. Matthew seemed indifferent about the change. He wasn't excited about it, but he wasn't afraid either. The first time he slept in it, he didn't cry but he did wake up sooner than usual. Overall, I have been extremely impressed at how well he has transitioned into the new bed. This entire week he has not once gotten out of his bed in order to escape from his room. He has not woken up in the middle of the night to sneak into our bed. He just lies in his bed with his best bud Blue like he did in his crib. When we tell him its time to go to sleep he shuts his eyes super tight to show that he is ready. He is such a good boy!

Emma seems more excited than Matthew. She helped me to put the sheets on his bed and asked to read to him in his bed the other night. My babies are growing so fast.

Big Sister Emma reading to Matthew and Blue
Happy Boy!

Growing up so fast

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Don't judge a book by its cover...

Well, it happened! My sweet little Angel of a daughter bit a boy at school last Monday. With her big little temper I have been preparing myself to receive some news from her Preschool about her being agressive with other children at some point. BUT I wasn't expecting that she would actually BITE someone! Emma is almost always polite and kind beyond compare. But since birth she has had a temper that she is still learning to control. Her side of the story is that the boy was trying to take something away from her and not being nice about it. Giving her the benefit of the doubt it kind of makes me proud that she is strong enough to not get bullied. Is that wrong? She is so small in stature and she looks so innocent that I think she appears on the outside to be an easy pushover. I guess that boy learned not to judge a book by its cover! She has never been one to just stand there when she feels threatened. We are constantly reminding her to use her words to defend herself when she needs to or to just walk away from the bad situation. We had a long talk with Emma about the incident at school and she promised to be nicer and not hurt others. She even asked the teacher the next day if she could go apologize to the little boy. I know this was an isolated thing that I shouldn't worry about. Emma is one sweet little girl. She gives a million hugs and kisses to all her friends and family members. She is always ready to help others or to make someone laugh. On Friday with her weekly report we had a personal note from the teacher that "Emma did a great job coming to the teachers for help if she had a problem." As for the boy, Emma said he got in trouble the other day for not listening and for putting a bunch of toys in his mouth.

My sweet and innocent biter.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Talented Emma

Friday night our church had a talent show for the Primary kids (ages 4-11). I was in charge of getting it all together and was intensely pleased at how it all turned out. I had lots of kids signed up to participate and each of them did a fantastic job.

Of course Emma wanted to perform and after debating between dancing and singing I convinced her do to one of the songs she sings so well "I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home". I don't know where she gets her confidence from. I was deathly shy when I was a little girl and am still not thrilled at having to speak in front of a crowd. Even as I hosted the talent show and was up on stage introducing the children I found myself stuttering and jumbling my words in my nervousness. But Emma is absolutely fearless. When it was her turn she got up on stage, sang her song beautifully, took a bow and sat back down like it was nothing. Maybe it was nothing special too her, but it was a wonderful moment for me. Every day Emma impresses me with her talents, courage and aptitude. And she is only 4! I can only imagine what the future will bring.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good to Hear

The Pediactricians were a little concerned when Emma failed her hearing test in her left ear twice. I wasn't there for the tests but apparently they use some sort of device that shoots sound waves or something in the ear and it then measures what goes thru and what doesn't. After the first time they told us to use mineral oil to clean the excess wax out of her ear but she still failed when they tested her again. They then suggested we use Debrox to clean out her ear. They referred us to an ENT to see if there was something more than just wax build-up causing her to fail the tests. I guess those last drops must have worked or our Pediatrician really messed up the test because the ENT said that not only could Emma hear but she was off the charts. She has exceptionally good hearing and passed all the tests in both ears!!

Due to Matthew's history and the fact that the test at the Pediatrician was inconclusive for his hearing, we went ahead and had him checked at the ENT too. He was so good to listen to what the doctors asked him to do. Ben asked him if he was having fun and he replied "No......mean", but he seemed to enjoy the little games they used to test what he could hear. They told us that Matthew passed all the tests and that he was one of the best behaved 2-year olds that they've ever seen.

It was another good week with good news from the doctors. One more important visit coming up and then I might be able to breathe a little easier again. I am definitely relieved that their hearing is okay because now I know for sure that they can hear me every time I tell them "I LOVE YOU!". Which is very very very often.

At the ENT

Matthew's "Mean" face.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good News

I have two beautiful children and to look at them and interact with them you would think they were like every other happy healthy child their age. Unfortunately they both have very special medical problems. Emma was diagnosed as an infant with a Combined Hamartoma of the Retina and Retinal Pigment Epithelium on her left eye. This rare diagnosis basically means that she has a mole-like tumor on her retina. It blurs her vision, affects her depth perception and causes her eye to wander. They can't tell me what caused it and there is currently no way to correct it. She had surgery when she was about a year old to help tighten the eye muscle and straighten out the eye. She can now keep her eye straight most of the time. It seems to still wander when she looks far away or when she is tired, but usually most people don't even notice it. The doctors think that if they try to remove the tumor it would damage the vision that she does seem to have in that eye. She had a check up last week at the Ophthalmologist and he had nothing new to report. At this point NO NEWS is GOOD NEWS! The tumor has not grown and does not seem to be affecting her vision any more than before. They think that she may actually have some good peripheral vision but cannot tell for sure. We will just keep having her monitored by her pediatrician and her Ophthalmologist, who is supposed to be one of the best in the area. Having this diagnosis has not slowed Emma down one bit. She has the strongest personality of any 4 year old I know. She is confident, intelligent and absolutely beautiful.

My sweet baby boy Matthew suffered a Grade IV intracranial brain hemorrhage at 5 weeks of age. He suffered from a Vitamin K deficiency that caused his blood to not be able to clot correctly which then led to blood gathering in the ventricles in his brain. After 6 weeks in the hospital he was able to come back home. The prognosis was vague and unclear. They were not sure what problems he would have or if there would be any developmental delays. He was quickly enrolled in several different therapies in order to help give him the best chances to learn to talk, walk and function as he needed. The first sessions were discouraging as they told us that our 3 month old was showing the characteristics of a newborn. But with lots of prayers and hard work Matthew quickly starting showing progress and began graduating from his therapy sessions. Today he had an evaluation to see if he needed to return to therapy and I am tearfully glad to report that he passed with flying colors! The therapist was impressed that Matthew could recognize all his letters and stated that he also has great cognitive skills. His motor, communication, and social skills are at par with other 2 year olds and in some areas he is even ahead of the curve.

I thank God every day for my children and for every moment I get to spend with them and with my loving husband. I am happy to have this great news that I can write down so that I never forget how I’ve been blessed. In the coming week we have more doctor appointments and more hurdles to cross and I pray that I have more good news to report. But I must remember that even if the doctors and specialists tell me something I don't want to hear, I have no reason to be unhappy. The simple fact that we have each other is the greatest news I could ever imagine.

Emma and Matthew - Christmas 2008

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Surprise Surprise!

My wonderful sweet husband gave me a surprise this past Friday. As I walked in the front door from work I set my eyes upon a freshly cleaned and vacuumed home and a vase filled with breathtaking roses. But the main surprise was that my two little children were gone to grandma Jett's house for what Emma calls a "sleepover party". We did not know how to handle a night without kids! We decided to go to the movies, something we haven't done in over a year. I got to pick and I chose well - Transformers 2 was extremely entertaining! I highly recommend it if you enjoyed the first one. The entire night was quiet and relaxing and I love my husband (and mother-in-law) for setting it up.

The following Saturday night was also nice. The entire family attended the wedding reception for Ben's little brother, who I adore, and his beautiful new wife. It was a perfect reception and altogether a lovely weekend that reminded me how happy I am to be married to my best friend!

Emma took this picture of us at Steve and Jeneca's reception.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Emma started Pre-K last Monday. It is the state funded Georgia PreK that is all day every day, so I was a little nervous about how she would do. But of course she is just fine and so far she likes it! Her teacher is Ms. Jen who has taught Preschool for about 15 years. She is going to the Discovery Point in Towne Lake which is literally 2 miles from our house. The first week they graphed their favorite color, lined up from smallest to tallest, looked at their fingerprints thru magnifying glasses, and did many other fun things. One afternoon when Ben came to pick her up she asked him if he could pick her up more slowly next time so she could play longer on the playground. I'm excited to see how the year goes.

I think the change has been the hardest on Matthew who has lost his playmate during the day. Every morning when we walk her into class Matthew cries when its time to leave her there. The first day he asked me a few times during the day "where Emma go?". It was very sweet. But now he has time to do more guy things with Daddy during the day. I think it will be good for everyone.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fun Run

I began running about a year and a half ago. Before that time I couldn't run a mile to save my life! This past 4th of July I ran in one of the largest 10Ks (about 55,000 people) in the US. I was pretty proud of myself, but I was even more proud of Emma this weekend. Emma has always taken an interest in my running. She started calling her sneakers her "running shoes" and will always make sure to stretch with me before I leave for a jog. Last summer I signed her up for a Tot Trot that was taking place after my own 5K run. She ran for about 50 yards and got a nice purple ribbon to remember the race. Since the beginning of summer she's been asking me when she will get to do another run. So I found one in the area, but this time I didn't sign up to run myself - I just wanted it to be about her.

Having fun running

We got there a little early so we had the chance to watch runners from other races. We had a pretty good time watching and cheering the other runners while we waited for her race to begin. When it was time to run her race, Emma told me that I could wait at the finish line because she didn't need my help. A minute later the man in charge yelled "Go!" and it took her a second before she realized it was time to start running. But when she saw everyone else going, she took off running! She is always so happy when she runs - her face just lights up. I don't know what place she came in, but I really couldn't care less. I was proud of her for just trying and for being the outgoing energetic girl I hope she will always be.

Emma with her Blue Ribbon

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Day to Remember

I wanted to start a blog to help me remember wonderful days like the one I had Saturday. Ben needed some quiet time at home to work so I decided to take the kids to the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) where they were having a butterfly festival. The adventure began with the kid’s first School Bus ride as we rode the shuttle bus from the parking area to the festival. The kids enjoyed the ride, laughing and smiling the entire time. As we entered the CNC we saw a giant tent with tables set up with awesome crafts sponsored by a local Girl Scout Troop. After making clothes pin butterflies, a butterfly fan, a headband with bug antennae and a fun life-cycle of a butterfly craft we moved on to the face painting table. Emma got a cute pink butterfly on her cheek. Matthew didn't want his face painted but enjoyed the giant bubble machine that was set up outside the tent. We moved down by the river to do sidewalk chalk and stroll down a small nature trail where we compared all the different leaves. As we walked back thru the garden to visit a giant beaver we spotted several different butterflies floating around the flowers. Then we enjoyed the Aviary where we saw Owls, Hawks, and a Bald Eagle. We saw a dance group dressed as flowers, a puppet show about the Monarch Butterfly and the release of several species of butterflies that later landed on and around us. We ate a picnic lunch and then played with the Giant Butterfly kite on the Great Lawn. The kids ran thru it a hundred times. The day ended with us putting on our antennae and waving the fans we made in a children’s parade around the CNC. The weather was absolutely perfect, the kids never left my side (unless we were racing!), and Matthew cried just a few times for seconds as we left one exhibit only to quickly stop at the next exciting one. The kids were perfect and we had so much fun. On the bus ride back to our car, I couldn't help but think about how lucky I am to have such wonderful children and how I never wanted to forget that special day we spent together.