Saturday, January 25, 2014

Our family Christmas

After how our Christmas last year went, I really just wanted a quiet time at home this year--just us as a family and no pressure to load the car and rush to a family gathering. That's not to say I haven't enjoyed other years. But this year especially I was feeling the emotions returning of memories from being in Boston for Sara's surgery and I wanted the comfort of home. It was so nice to wake up and have a slow morning in our jammies!

Part of me felt like we didn't get the kids enough presents. They are fortunate to be blessed with alot and I didn't want to buy things just to have a bigger pile. I was more intentional about getting things that really struck my eye and they were just fine with it.

They each got some new books and a baseball glove and ball.

They also each got a pair of shoes. It seems like Adam is always wanted to help Shannon with something out in the garage but he had outgrown his work boots. Sara finally had a huge growth spurt with her feet and grew 2 sizes. The cute dress boots she really liked were too small so I ordered a replacement. It seems like she is choosing to wear a dress nearly every day!

Once they were done opening, we told them there were more gifts but they had to find them. They looked all over the room and completely forgot about their stockings!

Pipe cleaners, glitter glue, glue sticks, ribbons for Sara's hair, chocolate pez for Adam, princess/cars cookie cutters, and really cool pencil bags that unzipped to look like they had teeth. The kids thought those were pretty cool!

Merry Christmas 2013!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Christmas with Grandma Marilynn

The day before Christmas my mom came over to celebrate with the kids. They were excited to finally be able to open some presents under our own tree!

They helped Grandma open her things, including the craft that we did for this year--reindeer footprints!

It was fun to watch them open presents and I think they were very happy with their assortment of gifts.

I know the robe seems huge but you should have seen their old ones! They had turned into 3/4 sleeve shirt robes. At least we can roll the sleeves up on these and they will close around their bellies for the next few years!

Oh wait, that was one of my presents!

After we opened presents, we all enjoyed the Christmas Production at church. This year was especially fun because it was the first time the kids got to sit in "Big Church" and take it all in!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Iowa Christmas

We celebrated Christmas in Iowa the weekend before Christmas this year. It worked out well that both us and Shannon's sister Adonna, along with her family, could all be there. After our morning ultrasound and urology doctor visit, we hopped in the car to head west. Friday evening was quiet. We opened present Saturday morning after breakfast.

Here is the tree with all the gifts waiting to be distributed.

After the presents were passed out, we were having a hard time seeing Sara!

Sometimes they did a great job being patient and letting one person open at a time. Sometimes it felt like a free for all!

Adam got some cool Legos. Then Sara opened her cool Legos and Adam couldn't resist checking it out.

A salon chair with accessories to do her dolls' hair, a Lightning Macqueen racetrack, Legos, clothes, a talking cat, and tons of awesome craft supplies which are now being used daily...all in all a pretty good Christmas they would say.

Grandma and Grandpa Mollenhauer with their grandkids--Megan, Sara, Adam, and Matt.

After Christmas lunch, we went out sledding...or cardboarding! There was a layer of ice on top of the grass.

Megan thought it would be a great idea to build a fort out of the ice chunks on top of the snow. I think my landscaping company needs to hire her to do flagstone!

After sledding we headed inside to work on gingerbread men before Adonna had to head home and beat the 9" of snow we were supposed to get.

Adam and Sara really enjoyed the time spent with their cousins. The next morning we woke up to much more snow. Not what they had predicted but still fun to watch Grandpa plow with the Bobcat out the window and then go out and have some fun playing.

It was nice to have a relaxing time in Iowa without the pressure of having to go back to work or drive to the next get together.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Little Lambies in Jammies

What a creative name for the preschool Christmas program this year! Little Lambs preschool and they got to wear their pajamas...get it? We were warned by the teachers that because of the devastating tornado that came thru our town a few weeks before Thanksgiving, practice had been cut short due to the extended Thanksgiving break.

It was a little comical and chaotic getting that many 4 year olds lined up. You should have seen the 3 year olds! And, of course, as the kids started lining up and it grew quiet, little voices could be heard from the front pew "No it's not...yes it it's not!" Surely those weren't my kids, even though the voices sounded exactly like them!

Sometimes the kids participated. See them in the front row on the right? Adam has his excavator pajamas on and Sara has owls with her hair in a braided pony tail.

And sometimes not...

One thing is for sure--Adam had the "HEY!" down in Jingle Bells. Until I saw this photo, I didn't think any of the other kids said anything. Giggles could be heard throughout the audience.

It really was fun to see the fruit of their labor that they had been keeping a secret for a month!

After we enjoyed cookies and punch and a quick picture with Santa.

We even captured a photo with their teacher before we left. The kids just adore her and are always making cards and signs for her at home.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another urology check up

A little over a week ago both of the kids had another renal ultrasound. This is about the fourth visit that we have had the same tech so it is nice to see a familiar face.

Sara went first. Typical white spots all over from her kidney stones that are still in both kidneys. It looked like there were 2 in a new place but ultrasounds are not good at showing a clear picture of the stones, as opposed to an x-ray. Today we were looking for any major changes and making sure her kidneys still look healthy. The funniest part was when she had to provide a urine sample in a specimen cup. Sometimes she has a hard time and I sing a little song to make her laugh. This time she had no problem going...and going...and going. Let's just say the cup runneth over!

Both the kids got a little present from the tech, which they loved! Perfect travel companions for our road trip to Iowa for Christmas later that day. Meet "Nuts" the squirrel and "Sammy" the bear.

I was fully expecting Dr. Rhee to say this was Adam's last appointment and he was released from his care. When Adam had his surgery a year ago, the doctor told us quarterly ultrasound follow ups for a year to make sure the blockage did not return and then he should be released. After the first quarterly ultrasound post-surgery, he had healed so much that he cancelled the next one and said don't return for 6 months! Well, when will I learn to throw any expectations I have out the window? Adam's ultrasound showed no change from the previous one. There was still dilation in Adam's right kidney, which is similar to an inflammation or irritation. It's possible that it won't completely go away but the doctor isn't ready to stop following up yet.

As for Sara, she also had no change, which is good. No worse. I will take it. Dr. Rhee did discuss plans for next steps this summer. He would like to do another ultrasound in 6 months, another VCUG, and then surgery. The ultrasound and VCUG can be done in the same day. I was not real happy to hear that he wanted to do another VCUG and pushed back pretty hard. He told me 6 months ago it was highly unlikely that Sara's renal reflux would correct itself at this point. If that is the case why do we need to put her thru another uncomfortable procedure? He agreed that it is very unlikely it will correct itself. But on the low chance that it does, he does not want to waste an hour of surgical time going in the direction toward her bladder if he doesn't have to. He would also like to limit her surgery to 3 hours because anything more than that is too hard on a child to recover from anesthesia. So the plan would be ultrasound and VCUG in June, surgery in July--1 hour repairing her renal reflux on the right and 2 hours of work trying to clear the rest of the kidney stones on the right, and removal of her stent in August. It will be the same type of robotic surgery she had in Boston. A busy summer in preparation for kindergarten. It is possible that once inside, the doctor may find that her scarring is too severe to allow access to the kidneys. If that is the case, he will stop the surgery and have to figure out another option.

The absolute best news we learned was that we can change her daily antibiotics to a pill. She sprinkled the granules in some chocolate pudding and she gave it a big thumbs up, telling me "We can do this every day now, Mom!" Why is that so exciting? The liquid form of her meds costs $300 per month. The pill is $30 per month. Thanks, God!

Lots of emotions that I am processing this time of year as I look back on last year. One year ago from this doctor visit, we were in Boston having pre-surgery appointments for Sara. January and February last year were so exhausting on every level with 7 surgical procedures for the kids, as well as surgery for my mom on her broken arm, and surgery for Shannon's dad on his heart.

The biggest lesson I learned in 2013 was to not ask why. Whether or not I had an answer to everything that was happening would not change the outcome, and it certainly wouldn't change my faith.

Oh Christmas Tree...

I started taking down the Christmas tree tonight so it seems only appropriate to blog about when we got the tree. We were actually pretty on the ball this year and made our outing the first weekend in December. Of course it had to be barely above zero that day. We could hardly take standing there as the Red Barn helper showed us options. We knew we wanted a Canaan as it has become our favorite species for the past few years--full branches and soft, shorter needles. Shorter? Tall? Fat? Skinny? I wanted a fat one. The kids voted for skinny. 7 feet? 8 feet? 8 1/2 feet--oh come on, dad, we have a 9 foot ceiling in the living room. It will fit.

Well, after we trimmed a little off the top it fit! I'm pretty sure the tag was not marked correctly!

Thankfully Adam is a great helper, especially when it comes to big projects. Both the kids really enjoyed decorating the tree, too.

Note: there was absolutely no way Adam was going to stand on Shannon's shoulders to put ornaments at the top! Most people are shocked to learn that Sara is the daredevil of the pair but she was enthusiastic when he hoisted her up there.

I don't know what it is about with the Santa hats but that was the first thing the kids asked for when we brought boxes up from the basement. They just couldn't wait to put them on!

Even the cat joined in the fun! Well, kind of...

I love having a real tree. It's one of my favorite things about Christmas. And the kids love it, too. Every morning they would wake up and ask me to turn the lights on right away. Adam would tell me "Merry Christmas, Mom!" Every day. And then we would turn off the living room lights at night and enjoy the tree one last time before bed. One night I found Adam sitting on the couch by himself in front of the tree and when I sat next to him, he said "Mom, it's beautiful."

The wonder of the season can be found in the eyes of a child.