Saturday, January 6, 2018

The holidays are finally over. Thank goodness for that.

I really enjoy when it's just us, lazing around the house for a while. The holidays this year were just a little nuts. We started on Friday the 22nd and it felt like it didn't really end for a week.

We had Asher's school Christmas program Friday evening, our family Christmas Saturday morning, the Walke family Christmas Saturday afternoon and evening, then drove to Arlington for the Mullins Christmas right after church on Sunday. We were there until Thursday, when Eden had two doctor appointments in Plano. Luckily those went really well and quickly and we were hope by 3pm.

The ice and terrible weather were actually ok because it gave us an excuse to just stay home and not go anywhere or do much of anything.

Asher turned 7 without much fanfare. His party is this coming Saturday and he's looking forward to it.

Elijah is still a crazy little nugget of a sourpatch kid. He's got pretty bad psoriasis that the cold weather made look horrible. He's got some cream we put on, and that seems to be helping. He'll be seeing a dermatologist in the next couple of weeks to confirm the diagnosis.

Eden's appointments were fine. We haven't heard anything about her echo, but I'm assuming that means everything is fine. I've made a note to contact her doctor on Monday to confirm there's nothing crazy. The GI doctor said she looked fine and maybe cut back on her milk intake if she has constipation issues. She doesn't and if you try to tell her she can't have milk she will yell at you. A lot.

Rebekah got her two top teeth for Christmas. She's still a bundle of sweetness and happiness and joy. Prophetic name. Of course, my middle name is also Joy and I'm not sure that I exude that, but She loves to eat and eats everything she can get in her mouth. She's basically an organic Roomba. She regularly crawls from the back of our bedroom through the house to the dining room, where the pickings are good. Sometimes she spits up, sometimes she cries because she's tired and alone, sometimes she just puts her head down and waits for someone to find her.

Mom had been scheduled to close on a house on December 29, but that fell through because of one of the owners being a jerk. It's complicated and there's still a chance everything will work out, which she would like because she really likes the house, but she's decided to look at other houses while she waits.

It's frustrating to all of us, but mostly Mom. I'm actually ok with waiting, mostly because our buyers aren't going to be ready until about December. That's not to say if everything fell into place and miraculously Mom was ready for us to take over the Orange St. house in a month, I wouldn't jump on that. But I'm also not stressing if it takes six or seven months. That's less of a financial strain on us, in a lot of ways.

It's interesting trying to pack when we really don't know what's going to happen. I know what the plans were, but...with nowhere for Mom and Bob to go, the plans are in limbo. I'm still working on packing and purging slowly. We started with the playroom and we (meaning I) and working through the house a little bit at a time. I'm packing up what we don't use a lot but aren't ready to get rid of just yet (and that may change in a month or so when I run out of boxes) and am just kind of storing the boxes in the place where the things were. So things are going to get cluttered fast. We'll figure it out. I'm not worried.

So that's what's up around here. Procrastinating packing was just made tons easier. And kids are doing well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Checking In

Eden's annual cardiology check up was today and everything relating to her is great. The main cardiologist she's been seeing since she was about 2 months old, Dr. S, let me know that she'll no longer be traveling to Abilene for the clinics. They've had a lot of issues with the airplanes and timing and other things, so they're changing their schedule and routine and as a result, we'll be traveling to Dallas for Eden's annual exams. Not terrible, but not the greatest news, either.

She charmed everyone present, of course, and was extremely cooperative, which was a relief. Sometimes she get a streak of stubbornness (god only knows where THAT came from) but today she was amazing. Even after we had to wait for about an hour because the doctor's flight from DFW was delayed. And then when we had a bit of a problem delivering our last Christmas gifts. And then had some wait time at Michael's and again at school pick up. I'm afraid of when the sass will come

We've entered the busy time of the year and I'm already exhausted from it all. Our plans have changed so many times I can't even remember all the iterations of them. Normally, we celebrate our family Christmas on Christmas Adam, December 23, but since we're going to Arlington for the holiday this year, the Walke Christmas was graciously rescheduled for the 23 so we could leave after church on the 24. Which means our family Christmas was rescheduled, too. It would have been the 22, but Asher has a school program we can't get out of (with only 11 kids in the school its pretty obvious when someone doesn't show up...) So we're doing ours on Christmas Adam morning, with a nice breakfast and presents and stockings (for the first time ever since we won't be at Oma's for stockings) and then we'll load up for Mom's last Christmas on Orange St. Then the only Christmas in Arlington.

We've had doctor's appointments, sick kids, missed school, Christmas parties, a frustrating school project, LOTS of cooking and shopping and wrapping and decorating and I'm just. over. it. all. Tonight is the last evening of just us for a while, so instead of making the mashed potatoes or putting away the three laundry baskets worth of clothes and sheets or packing or making cookie dough or helping Austin and Elijah organize the playroom, I'm sitting. We've got pizza on the way and our new-to-the-kids Christmas movie (Home Alone) in the blu-ray player. I'll make some cookies from already made dough and maybe we'll do some popcorn, but for the next couple of hours, I'm taking a little break.

This is Rebekah's first Christmas ever, and our last in this house, so I want to savor it as much as I can. If you need me, I'll be in my chair with a beverage (adult or not, it's a toss up at this point) and my feet up, possibly cross-stitching, possibly snoozing, possibly nursing, likely yelling at the kids to be quiet and enjoy the movie.

Merry Christmas, from the Mullins Mob to you and yours

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Big News!

First off, I'm not pregnant. Just getting that out of the way. My baby-making business has closed. We did pretty good work with only a couple hiccups, but we've closed up shop.

Y'all know how I am about secrets. I hate keeping them, but I've been sitting on one for about three weeks now that's pretty darn huge. I had to wait until all the important people were consulted/informed and several discussions were had, but that has happened and now I can tell you...

Drum roll please....

My mom is giving me her house!

Insert shocked faces here. I'll wait for you to wrap your brains around that.

For those of you who don't know, my mom has a large house. Fifty-five hundred square feed, seven bedrooms, two bathrooms...and it's just her, Bob, and their four cats. We have four children and two cats and live in a 2500 square foot house. We're utilizing the space a lot better now that the boys are upstairs, but at Mom's, everyone (including the adults) will have their own rooms. We won't have a mortgage and we'll still have the income from the current renter in the carriage house. We're happy for him to stay as long as he wants.

This isn't going to happen overnight, we're looking at a maximum of five years. Mom and Bob need to find their own house first, and they have a pretty strict list of what they want and it's hard to find. They are interested in a house, so we'll see what happens there. At the absolute soonest, I think it'll be about a year, if everything with the house they're looking at works out.

We could be spending next Christmas in our "new" house!

This will be my inheritance, and since I'd be getting it before my siblings get theirs, the most important thing was to talk to them and get their opinions/thoughts on it. Luckily, my siblings are all awesome and saw what a great thing this is for my family so they had no objections. The brothers did voice some concern over the cost of living in the house, but that's our problem. And really, having no mortgage will help tremendously. They did also say that if I get the house, I'll be expected to bake all the Christmas cookies.

I say that's a fair trade. I'll have two ovens to make it easier.

We have a few options on what to do with our house when the time comes. Part of us/me want to keep it and rent it out. I did some basic research and houses in Abilene rent for about .75/$1 per square foot. Not having a full second bath and being where we are, I think we could ask $1200-1500 for rent and that would cover our expenses related to the house and then some. That way we could keep the house around for whenever we're interested in retiring, but that's so far down the road, it's maybe not the best idea. We could turn it into an Air B&B and if we priced it about like some of the ones in town, it would pay for itself with just a few nights a month.

Or, we could sell it. If we got what we paid for it, or slightly higher, we could pay off the mortgage on it and potentially pay off our cars, possibly even having extra at the end to put into the Orange Street house if we sell it for even more.

I've already got ideas on what to do at the house, where everyone is going to go, how things are going to be arranged. It's entirely possible we'll have empty rooms for a little while as we get settled and figure out what works and what doesn't. If Mom takes her dining table, that room for sure will be empty until we've saved the money to get a good sized dining table.

Depending on when we move in, my kids will be the youngest residents of that house in over 30 years? Or longer? A family lived there from 1964-1984 but I'm not sure how young the children were when they left. It was a business from 1984-1993 and my younger brother turned 7 the summer we moved in. So if we move in next year, three of my kids will be younger than that. So that's kind of cool.

It's big and exciting and a little overwhelming in some ways and stressful in others. I'm looking forward to this. I know I've said several times that I don't want to leave our house unless it's on a stretcher, but, as a friend this week said when I told her about this, Mom's house is the house to change my mind.

I need to recreate some pictures we took when Mom and Dad took ownership of the house Mother's Day weekend of 1993. They're of Caleb, Mom, Dad, and I acting like complete fools with a calendar in every empty room of the house. I'll find those and scan them in so you can all bask in the glory of my 1993 permed hair and homemade clothes and giant glasses (oh lordy the glasses). We'll get in there with our own goofballs and create some memories and traditions. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

We've been busy

I don't mean to go so long between posts, it just happens. I even write out posts in my head and then forget to sit down and type them up. Needless to say, those are all incredibly touching and funny and worded perfectly.

Instead you get this. lol

At the end of October was the annual craft fair at our church. Mom has been heading that for decades at one location or another and we help out as much as we can, which admittedly isn't much. It's a lot of work and without nearly enough helpers and changes in the vendors and various other things, Mom decided not to do it anymore. There wasn't a big huge announcement, though I did post on the craft fair's facebook page.

The Saturday of the craft fair, October 28, Eden was sick to the point that she had blood in her vomit, so she got to spend a night at the hospital. It was, of course, terrible timing, but it could have been worse. No answers, just like Elijah, but everyone was checking everything because of her heart.

She was released Sunday, October 29, around 3. I went to get the boys from my brother's house and then we all met up at home around 4. Austin and I made three Pac-Man inspired costumes in an hour and a half and made it to Trunk-or-Treat at the church and came home with enough candy for a while.

When we called the pediatrician to schedule a follow up, she said to bring Eden in if she had a relapse, but otherwise we're ok not going in. However, we want to get her checked out by a pediatric gastroenterologist from Children's. That's set for December 28 in Plano. Austin will take the day off and go up with her and make a day trip of it. Merry Christmas.

I'm really glad for Eden's medical fund to pay for her visit. Elijah's was much more expensive and made things a bit tight (we're ok, just having to be more mindful of our spending than we usually are).

Elijah is doing great. He's still the little sour patch kid with the angel face. Not much new is going on for him.

Asher is doing well at school. He has his up and down days, like anyone, but it seems to be more up than down. His school had their Thanksgiving program and feast on Thursday and I was in charge of coordinating the food. They held it at First Christian so I was also a big part of the set up and clean up. My feet and knees were hurting after that. The kids did a good job, though, and the food was good.

Rebekah is just sweet and wonderful 90% of the time. The other 10% she's hungry. She's really enthusiastic about baby food and loves fruit. I think her favorite is apples and blueberries. She's also a fan of Ritz crackers and vanilla wafers. Leaves make her gag, but she continues to try them, thinking maybe THIS time they'll taste good. She's still petite and hasn't started sitting up on her own, though she can pull herself up to her knees and maintain that for a little while and if I set her down in a sitting position, she can hold that for a little bit. She got two teeth within about 10 days and her whole demeanor changed from little terrorist back to the angel baby.

The big news, though, is that we FINALLY moved the boys upstairs! I'd moved 95% of my stuff and after waiting for a few weeks (or years) for Austin to take care of his stuff, I just dragged it all down the stairs for him. Last night he and I got up there and moved the 3/4 bed and pink armchairs downstairs and moved some things around. I vacuumed most of the room then we called it a night. This morning, my older two nephews came over and helped Austin dismantle, move, and reassemble the bunk beds and then move the boys' dressers upstairs. We got most of the boys' stuff upstairs and I rearranged the girls' room and set up the 3/4 bed for Eden.

I'm so excited for this. I really think the boys are going to like having their own space, and same for the girls. There is still some parts of the upstairs that we're using for storage because I just don't have the energy at the moment to get everything put elsewhere, plus there's always going to be stuff that needs to be stored, but they've got tons of space even with me storing things up there. Eden was excited for the new arrangement but got upset when I put her blankets on the 3/4 bed. She doesn't want to use the "big girl" bed, she wants the little "ladybug" bed.

I guess if Austin annoys me I can either send him in to sleep on the 3/4 bed or I can go myself. I'm not giving up on Eden, I think she'll get used to it over time. For now, I'm ok with her sleeping in the toddler bed in the corner.

I've written before about our constant rearranging of furniture to make our house work for us. If we're here 5 months or 5 decades, it needs to work and it doesn't make sense to have so much unused space. I'm still working on the foyer and I have a few ideas. Luckily, Austin is very willing to work with me and help me by moving heavy furniture. Happy wife, happy life, right?

Pac-Man family! Elijah was Pac-Man, Rebekah was a cherry (her shirt had cherries on it) and the rest of us were ghosts. 

Upstairs back area. I don't know that it's been this clean since we moved in, to be honest. lol

Temporary drawer storage

This morning before everything got moved in.

Taking apart the bunk beds. Elijah turned around and said "Oh, thanks for taking my picture."

Dressers with drawers

A different look the length of the room. The shelves on the left are still storage for me. I need to move a lot of the stuff there into the attic, I just ran out of energy. 

Their birth samplers with Dad's ties are now hanging in the stairwell. Elijah's is newly reframed and looks FABULOUS. I'm so happy with how it came out. 

A little reading area for Asher with a few of his books. I moved what we're leaving on those shelves up to the higher shelves and left them the bottom four. He was giving me decorating tips on what to do with empty shelfspace. Weirdly enough, it wasn't "get more books."

The girls' room, Eden's nook. The giant ladybug is on the floor in the corner next to the toy chest. 

The rest of the girls' room. Rebekah likes that the curtains are high enough she can look out the window when she's laying in her bed. 

And now I'm tired. I need a shower and a nap. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

long overdue

Yikes. I really did not intend to go so long between updates. We've been a good kind of busy, with stuff going on but no major catastrophes.

Updates on everyone one by one:

Asher is THRIVING in his new school. He actually talks (!!) about school a lot of the time, though if we just bluntly ask about it, he won't. You have to come at it from the side so he doesn't quite realize what you mean. He had a rough first three weeks, but after a come-to-Jesus conversation, the last four have been MUCH better. They have a color system (green, yellow, red, blue) and in the past four weeks, he was green for all but two days.

His teachers genuinely enjoy him and his stories and he's started having input in class, raising his hand with suggestions or comments. At home, he's a much more pleasant child to be around. He even gets along great with his siblings these days.

I know for sure part of it is the school and the new environment he's in, but I also see that it's that magical maturing that the teachers and principals at TLCA told us happens between Kindergarten and 1st. He's still got his moments, sure, but for the most part, he's actually fun to be around.

We've been reading in the evenings, one chapter at a time, and read through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. He really enjoyed Harry Potter (because he knows where it's at) and he liked Ralph. We haven't picked up our next book yet because I've been exhausted in the evenings or just not here but I'm thinking we'll do something else by Beverly Cleary, maybe Henry Huggins or Ribsy.

He got his first library card today and when the librarian recognized me from my hours spent hanging around her desk as a kid, she got a big grin on her face. He picked out a couple of books to check out and I showed him how to look up books on the computer and find them on the shelf and then how to use the self-check. As we were leaving, he said "Thanks for the tutorial, Mom." I'm not sure if he'll remember how to search and find books (though this is Asher, so probably) but at least he's got that little nugget in his brain somewhere. Now to see how long he can hold on to his card and remember his pin.

He lost three teeth last week, two in the same day. He's got a real jack-o-lantern face right now. But its a cute jack-o-lantern.

Elijah is 5. His world did not change all that much, surprisingly. He had a fabulous Mario birthday party and is already talking about his NEXT Mario party. I just can't with this kid.

He is....hard to describe. He's such a sweetheart and helpful and loving during the day and early afternoon 90% of the time and then almost every evening at bedtime he's just a jerk. He picks on Asher and Eden, he screams at me and Austin, he throws things...there have been more than one occasion that we've physically removed him from his room and made him sleep upstairs by himself. Bedtime is our least favorite time of the day.

He and I read a book together, Charlotte's Web, but he says it fast and has a bit of a speech impediment so it sounded like "Shart's Web." I laughed nearly every night.

He seems to be doing well at CCF, our church's MDO program. He's one of, if not the, oldest kids in the class and he seems to know most of what they're learning. He's been there for 4 years at this point, so he should know all that. He's definitely looking forward to kindergarten next year and honestly, I think he would have done ok in it this year, but I'm ok waiting for him to be "old enough" for it. I don't think we'll have the same issues with Elijah as we did with Asher.

Eden. Oh man. She's just a ball of personality and will. She lives in a world where whatever she thinks or says is the honest truth. If she doesn't like that you told her no, she'll say "Say yes" until you do say yes. Then she's confident she's gotten her way. Woe is you when she realizes she doesn't.

She's still into superheroes and a little bit into ladybugs and some into Mario. So everything she wears is some kind of costume in her mind. She prefers to sleep on the floor of our bedroom instead of in "the ladybug bed" in her room. She doesn't complain when Austin moves her, though. Mostly because she's half asleep. There have been times when we wake up in the middle of the night to tend to Rebekah and Eden has returned to her nook.

Rebekah is just wonderful. She's almost always happy and sweet and content to be doing her own thing. She is Elijah's favorite person and he comes looking for her two or three times a day. She likes to gnaw on whatever she can find, even if it's toes. She still doesn't sleep through the night consistently yet, but she could if she wanted to. She just doesn't want to. She's growing slowly and is petite, but nothing to be concerned about. We've started introducing solids to help her gain weight a little, help her sleep through the night, and to help stretch my milk. My supply is adequate for her, but pumping milk to send to CCF has been a little difficult. I'm barely staying ahead of her, rarely pumping in a week what she consumed the two days she goes. We had planned to do baby-led weaning, like we did with Eden since it's cheaper and easier, but she doesn't have the aversion to purees and being fed that Eden did, so she's had some bananas and applesauce and a bit of yogurt. She liked the fruits, not the yogurt.

She scoots herself all over the place, exploring as much as she can and getting into whatever was left at her level. She loves her siblings and grins whenever she sees them, pops her head up to see what they're doing, and follows them with her head while they play near her.

Austin got a new car for his birthday, a Prius. His old one was 13 years old and we'd had it for almost 10 years. It was dying a slow death and we'd been hoping for a new one for about 16 months when he finally just bit the bullet and got a new car. It's pretty snazzy and he really enjoys it. It reads his texts to him and has a button you push to put it in park. He had it a couple of weeks before I finally got to ride in it.

I've been doing well, too. Cooking and shopping and keeping the household running with errands and doctor's appointments and whatnot. I did manage to slice open my left middle fingertip with a bread knife last week. It's pretty gnarly but didn't necessitate stitches. It almost looks like it has them because of how jagged the cut is. It's interesting to find out how often you use a certain fingertip when you've injured it. I wear a bandaid and a finger cot (seriously looks like a finger sized condom) most days to protect it from water and children and then let it air out overnight. Rebekah still manages to hit it at night while nursing. It'll be a while before it's fully healed and I fully expect an ugly scar, but at least I still have my finger, right? Not that losing a finger is the end of the world. Just would have been a bigger pain (no pun intended) than this.

So we're trucking along. We've got the craft fair coming up, then Thanksgiving with my family in New Braunfels and our only Christmas in Arlington with Austin's parents. Asher's already planning his Minecraft birthday party and we're starting to think about Rebekah's blessing dinner for her birthday. Eden will have a cardio appointment in December and an eye exam in January. Things coming, but nothing super huge or stressful. This year has been exhausting for a lot of reasons and we've still got about 10 weeks or so to go. I'll try to update again in that time. :-)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

No buffalo roaming, just foxes skittering

Something I don't talk about much or even notice anymore is our house. Most days, its just a building that holds our stuff and occasionally irritates me with its quirks.

We live in an old house. It was built in 1920 and has lots of cool features and a few not so cool features. Cool: original hardwood floors in most of the house. Not cool: 1 1/4 bathroom (the sink in the half bath doesn't work). Cool: awesome fireplace and beveled glass and mirrors and crown molding in most of the house. Not cool: the plumbing is a patchwork and needs to be updated and a sink needs to be repaired. Cool: my built in bookshelves in our room and our original kitchen cabinets. Not cool: our electrical is also a patchwork and needs to be updated. Cool: lots of big original windows so we don't have to have lights on during the day. Not cool: lots of big original windows so the house kind of leaks warm and cold air. I don't want to replace them because they're so pretty, but man.

I could go on. I love that we've got nice sized rooms, but I hate that the layout of these rooms is so awkward and the placement of certain areas is the way it is. The kids' room, for example, has six walls, three of which are exterior walls of 90% windows. Lots of light, sure but's a weird shaped room.

I knew this was my house when I saw it on the realty website in June 2010. It was priced a little above what we could afford, but it had been on the market a while and I wanted to see it anyway. By the time we got our (terrible) realtor to set up a viewing, they'd dropped the price a lot and then accepted our offer below that. We moved in in July of 2010 and have both loved and hated it ever since.

We have three bedrooms, a living room, a front hallway that's kind of useless (it's really a big room, not what you might think of as a hallway), the aformentioned 1 1/4 bathrooms, large kitchen, back hall/mudroom, laundry room, and a large space upstairs that's tricky to figure out. It could be a bedroom or a second living area. We've mostly used it for storage for the past 7 years. Out of sight, out of mind. We put long planks in the attic space at one point (I think I was pregnant with Elijah at the time) and that's become our mid-term storage: storage for items I don't need right now, but use annually (holiday decor, out of season clothing) or every couple of years (outgrown kid clothes). Also, there's some other stuff: a sewing machine, cross-stitch patterns I've already done, my high school year books, a couple tubs of keepsake items from Dad and my youth I'm not up to getting rid of yet.

We also have a house in the back that's not finished, mostly just walls, roof, and floor (though there is a bathroom out there that could be made useable) that's for longer term storage. I have a small apartment's worth of furniture, a small mountain of boxes, dining chairs, all of our outside toys, cross-stitch stuff I don't want but don't want to get rid of...y'all, I'm a borderline hoarder. But at least my stuff is about 90% organized. And I do actually get rid of tons of stuff every couple of years, donating to garage sales or the Salvation Army. I've tried to sell some things myself with limited success.

When we moved in, we were pregnant with Asher. I knew he wasn't going to be an only child, and this house is seemingly designed for two kids in one bedroom and a third on their own in the other room. We had the front room as a guest room for a long time, but after a while our guests ceased staying with us, so we turned it into a playroom for the kids. They've got my grandmother's old yellow couch, which is the most comfortable couch ever, a tv with gaming systems, and all the toys they occasionally play with, plus a toilet for their use (though they naturally run through the house, find me to inform me of their need to pee, then use the main bathroom). We want to keep that room as their play area, so then we planned to put the boys upstairs and keep the girls downstairs, either in the same room or eventually moving Eden to the front room with the private bathroom. Things were moving along great, then the boys announced it was too creepy upstairs and they didn't want to move up there.

Cue the record scratch. We've been trying to figure out the best way to utilize our space since day 1 and it's been trickier the more people we add to the household. We toyed with the idea of taking out a loan at some point and adding a bathroom in the attic and expanding the upstairs room so that could be a master suite, we talked about adding a bathroom to the master bedroom by extending into the yard, we talked about sacrificing part of the master for a bathroom (we really need/want another bathroom). We've switched the living and dining rooms twice, once when Elijah was about 4 months old and back again about 2 months ago. We've rearranged the furniture in every room but the kitchen multiple times.

Luckily for everyone, Elijah recently decided he'd be ok sleeping upstairs as long as he could take his Mario plushies. Asher, when faced with the choice of sleep upstairs with Elijah or downstairs with his sisters decided upstairs wasn't so bad after all. Now I just have to get my stuff relocated and Austin to go through his and decide what to do with it. I'm hoping we can have the boys upstairs within a couple of months.

I love the house. We've painted it and that actually helped my feelings about it a LOT. We're slowly getting it to how we need it but with four kids and a limited amount of money to do that, it's taken time. We've done something every year we've been here and I hope we can continue that as long as is necessary. This year was supposed to be plumbing, but things have gotten away from us financially because of Asher's testing and Elijah's hospital stay and a photo package we bought for Rebekah, so this year it'll have to be something small. Like maybe a tree to replace the one that died.

We love where we are. Being across and beside Serenity House has had minor inconveniences, but overall hasn't been terrible. The Red Cross is on the other side and they're quiet neighbors, too. We like being within walking distance of downtown and all that has to offer, we love being within walking distance of the church (though we haven't actually walked there much the last couple of years....too many kids). We're even walking distance to my oldest brother and my mom. I just need a grocery store closer than Ambler and a few more restaurants, maybe some more shopping downtown and I'd be all set.

We were blessed in that we both graduated college with no debt. We were able to start saving immediately for whatever we needed to so we were able to buy our first house six months after we were married. Our only debt currently are my car and our house. We're looking at buying Austin a new car, but I'm hoping once we've got mine paid off, we might be able to continue pulling that amount out of our account and put it into the house. It would take a while, but we'd eventually be able to fix everything that needs fixing, add on a bathroom, fix up the guest house into maybe a rental apartment or something.

Unless someone has $100,000 they want to give us for those

Little by little we'll chip away at it. Our plan right now is to never leave. It (mostly) works for us and meets (most) of our needs. It's the home we brought our sons home to and the home our daughters were born in. We've been here 7 years and already have a lot of history here. A history we hope to continue.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hospital Adventures

Oh my good lord. I guess Elijah got a little jealous that I don't write as much about him on here.

A couple weeks ago, July 31, Asher got sick late that night. He threw up a couple times. He was feeling ok, but not well enough to go to the day camp we had him signed up for. He missed three days of it, just attending Monday and Friday. Thursday and Friday, Eden threw up once each day. So Thursday, Elijah got to have a special treat in being the only one in the family to go to a friend's birthday party. Saturday, everyone was feeling good, Sunday night, Elijah threw up once.

Monday and Tuesday, he was up and down, hard to keep away from the others, just like Asher and Eden had been the week before. We made and delivered dinner to friends who had a little boy injured in an accident on July 29 and then went home and ate our own dish of the same meal. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Elijah threw up again.

Wednesday morning, Elijah didn't get out of bed. He said he was too sick. After a couple of bed wetting incidents, I realized he wasn't going to get up to go to the bathroom so I put him in a pull up. That makes it easier to make sure he's not dehydrated so I was ok with it (plus less laundry). He went through several on Thursday and that evening, when Austin was checking on him and dumping the bucket, he commented that it looked like Elijah had cinnamon and sugar in his vomit.

He hadn't really eaten anything since dinner Tuesday, so that surprised me. He had taken a little nibble of a cracker, so I figured that was it.

Friday morning, his vomit was black and grainy. I studied it for a second, then googled. It said that if vomit looks like it has black or brown flecks, that indicates that there is blood present and the patient should receive immediate medical care.

Now, we live in the age where we google and EVERYTHING is dire, so I decided to play it safe and call the doctor. Of course, it was after business hours because they close at noon, but she called back very quickly and when I described it, she said to take him in.

Bob came right over and sat with Asher and Eden and I took Rebekah and Elijah to Regional, calling Austin to meet me on the way.

We got there around 2:45 and sat in the waiting room for about a half hour before going to a triage room where they checked his vitals and said he didn't have a fever and his pulse and blood pressure were good. By 3:30 we were in another triage room waiting for a doctor or someone. I texted my siblings to keep them in the loop. At 4:30, a nurse came in and started an IV and drew some blood. As weak as Elijah was, needing to be carried everywhere and not able to reposition himself much on the bed, it took two nurses, Austin, and finally me to hold him down to get it in. He complained a little but then went back to being quiet and still. John showed up about 4:45 when they hooked up a bag of saline to get him hydrated.

Two bags later, we were told we were going to be admitted. That was around 6:45. John left to take care of his kids and we started making some arrangements for the night. A friend volunteered to bring Austin dinner and we asked him to wait until we were in the room. That didn't happen until 7:45. Then Bob said he had a couple errands he needed to run, so I asked a friend who lives two blocks away to come sit at the house until someone could get there. She got there around 815-830 and then another friend showed up with pizza for the kids, who I'm sure were starving.

For some reason I thought we'd see the doctor Friday night so kept hanging around. Finally about 9 I accepted we weren't so headed home. Austin didn't want me to send anything back but I found Elijah's kitty and sent that back around 1130 with Kristen so he could have at least that.

Saturday morning, I woke up with a headache. Not a lot of sleep and stress and a little dehydration of my own built it into a migraine. I was going to drop the kids off with the Dukes so I could go to the hospital, but I was feeling bad enough that Beth came and got them. I got a quick nap with a cold pack on my neck, then rallied enough to pack a bag for Austin and head up to the hospital for a couple hours.

Elijah was still vomiting off and on, even though he was no longer taking anything by mouth and hadn't since shortly after we got to the ER. They attempted meds by mouth a couple times but they always came back. I left around 7 to pick up my kids and get some dinner for myself then we all headed home to rest. I was eating when Cari called and basically said she was coming in the morning.

She and her niece arrived around 9am and I headed out shortly after, swinging by Target to get some Mario stuff for Elijah. It's hard to find Mario stuff! I found some figurines and a racer toy along with some glow in the dark mini Thomas trains and a set of Mario pjs. I got all that and headed to the hospital, getting there around 1030. Right after I got there, they took Elijah down for a CT scan. He did great and when they pulled him out and complimented him, he said "Yeah, I was really scared!" When Elijah heard Cari was in town, he said "But I haven't seen her." Kid knows how to play pitiful really well at this point. I hung out until lunch then headed home to nurse Rebekah. She was happy to see me, the other kids were indifferent. Cari ran and got us adults lunch then she and I headed to the hospital. Cari made a quick visit then headed back to the house. Austin's parents arrived around 330 and came straight to the hospital. I stayed up there until about dinner time, around 530, then headed home for the night.

We were told if Elijah could eat something and keep it down, he could go home. So Austin and his parents attempted to bribe him to take small bites with stories. When Austin told me it was going really slow, I said "know your audience. Bribe him with something he cares about: Mario and minis." So Austin bribed him with minis (I'd taken them all home) if he ate his cracker. Elijah got excited and ate too fast and threw up. So that meant another night in the hospital.

Austin came home briefly to drop off his computer and get minis and maybe something else? I'm not sure. We had a friend volunteer to bring dinner Sunday night, then we told them the grandparents were here to maybe another night, then when we realized the grandparents weren't coming to the house at all on Sunday, I texted and asked if the offer was still good. It was, so the three of us here feasted on chicken strips and french fries before heading to bed again.

Monday morning, Austin's parents met him at the hospital so he could get to work. I got the kids settled, then Austin's mom came to the house so I could go up to the hospital. I got there around 10 and by 11:30, headed back for Rebekah. Elijah was doing so much better I decided to keep her with me. That also saved me time running back and forth. He was excited to see her and she seemed pretty pleased to see Papa and Elijah. We spent the day just sitting around, like you do in a hospital. I took a little nap because my stomach started bothering me Sunday afternoon and Sprite and rest are about all that fixes that. Austin got there around 430 and we saw the doctor again. She said he was good to go as soon as he saw the gastroenterologist. The nurse informed us earlier that he didn't make rounds until after 5 most days. So the discharge paperwork was ready to go, we were half packed, Elijah was talking about going home, food was coming to the house....and no gastroenterologist.

I finally left around 5 in the middle of a big storm. I ran barefoot through ankle deep water to get the car and pull it up to the pick up area so Rebekah wouldn't have to get wet, then Austin waded out into the rain to put her in when we had to wait for the car ahead of us to load their passenger. A normally 15 minute drive home took me nearly half an hour because I had to keep back tracking to avoid hugely flooded intersections and once even downed power lines. I almost didn't see the power lines, they were so covered with water in front of me and debris to the left.

I finally made it home, got everything inside, and called Mom to update her and called Austin to tell him what route to avoid.

Dinner arrived around 630 and the kids and I ate pizza and Beth had chicken strips from the night before. We sat and watched some videos and read books for a while until Mom and Bob came over to say hi. Finally around 9 I decided to put the kids to bed and Beth decided to go on to the hospital to get Allen and then go to their hotel. She took Austin a change of clothes and headed out.

I stayed up a while, dealing with kids and pumping milk for Rebekah and waiting for Austin and Elijah. At 1030, he texted that the night nurse finally called the gastric doc to find out what was going on and we found out no one had told him he had a patient to see. He'd be there about 9 today.

I was't super happy, to say the least. They brought in a portable x-ray machine and x-rayed Elijah for the doctor and then removed his iv. Austin posted on fb:

"Relative pain levels of hospital experiences:
CT scan: 0
Vomit: 1
Vomiting blood: 2
Getting contrast by IV: 3 (for a second)
Taking medicine by mouth: 4
Getting your throat swabbed: 5
Taking medicine by butt: 6
Getting an IV stuck in arm: 7
Missing your little sister: 8
Taking all the tape off your arm so they can unstick the IV: 10"

Poor Elijah was just done, I think. He was exhausted from being in the hospital so long and being told he could go home so many times and the not being able to. I'm not sure when he fell asleep, but he was asleep by midnight.

I was winding down to go to sleep when Austin texted that the doctor had come in at 1230. He realized that it wouldn't be possible for him to get there at 9 this morning, so he went ahead and came in last night.

All of Elijah's scans have been clear all along. Nothing on the ultrasounds or the CT or the x-rays. Nothing too weird in his bloodwork or urine or vomit. A diagnosis has been kind of the equivalent of "I don't know, aliens?" We're pretty sure it was gastroenteritis, but even then, we don't REALLY know. The IV antibiotics seemed to do the trick. We don't know where it came from because he ate what everyone else ate, even another family, and no one else got sick. He's been around the same people and places he always is. So who knows. Apparently, some people can show a sudden random sensitivity to something and get really sick really fast. He had wet several pull ups on Thursday and even one Friday morning, so to find out 8 hours after his last wet pull up that he was severely dehydrated was a little shocking.

The gastric doctor cleared him to come home with no restrictions. We'll still take it easy and rest a lot this week. We don't have any plans until a follow up with the pediatrician on Friday morning and we'll keep it that way.

If Elijah had been awake at 1230 or 1, I think Austin would have packed up and come home. But he decided to let Elijah sleep so they got home around 7 this morning. Beth and Allen met them up at the hospital for discharge then headed on home. Austin put Elijah in his bed and he's currently still asleep at 1030. Eden has been up and down, Bob has been by with donuts and to pick up the prescriptions to drop off for us, Austin's back at work for a few hours today, and I'm contemplating going back to bed myself. It's good to sleep on a rainy day when all your people are where they're supposed to be.

I know I forgot things. SO MUCH happened it's hard to keep it all straight. It was more stressful for me than for Austin (I say, I don't know for a fact) because while he was there with Elijah 90% of the time, he had a lot of downtime. Elijah was watching tv a lot and Austin was on his phone or computer. I was running back and forth, to stores, to various locations to take care of the rest of us, coordinating care and feeding of everyone. I didn't have time to straight up ask for help most of the time. I did ask for a few things here and there, but for the most part, I hate asking for something like that. I feel like I'm imposing and sometimes the wording of offers of help make me think that person doesn't REALLY want to, they just want to offer (and I get that, I really do). So when people just showed up and said "No, this is what I'm doing," I could almost cry. Friday I came home and some dishes had been washed and tables and counters wiped down. Saturday I picked up my kids from the Dukes and they'd been fed and had playtime with friends and watched movies and observed a hullabaloo outside. My sister came Sunday and didn't just keep my kids from running in the streets: she swept, she changed the litter box, she folded a small mountain of laundry, she changed dirty diapers (her niece probably did that,, she gave Rebekah a bath, she fed me and my kids. If there had been dirty dishes in the sink she would have washed those too, I'm sure.

My tribe showed up.

I was in MOPS for 2.5 years and never felt like they showed up for me. Ever. One person from MOPS helped out after Eden was born and it was one of the most amazing things ever. I've copied it twice now and had intentions of copying again but then Elijah happened. This was the main reason I left. I felt like I had no real community there and it hurt to keep going and putting myself out there and feeling like after all that time, I just had friendly acquaintances. I've gotten closer to some of the other women since quitting, ironically enough.

Our church has been showing up more and more recently, and I love that. In a week and a half, we had a new baby, an accident involving a child, an accident involving the new baby's pregnant aunt (nothing too severe, she's fine), and now Elijah. We've set up meal trains for three of us and the dates get filled up quickly. We're recognizing how much we need each other and we're showing. up. It's hard to be in this world alone and when your kids are hurt its even harder.

So to my tribe, thank you so much. You made a long, stressful weekend a little easier to bear. And not having to worry about meals much the next week is going to be hugely helpful as we get back into the swing of things.

Friday night heading to the room

Tuesday morning sleeping in his bed with his teddy.