Friday, December 29, 2006

Update on the appendix-less man

Mark was released from the hospital at lunchtime today (his surgery was at 11 pm yesterday, so we were happy to be released so early). He's taking Tylenol and the dreaded Vicadin for his pain, without negative side effects. He's sore, and has been sleeping a lot, and seems to be feeling a bit better tonight than he was earlier today.

The surgeon said his appendix was twice its normal size, but it was in a very favorable position for surgery and the incision was smaller than anticipated (about 1-1/2 inches, I would say). The appendix hadn't burst, which made for an easier surgery and much easier recovery. Mark can take off the bandage and shower normally starting tomorrow. He has been restricted to no heavy lifting (meaning, no lifting of children) for 2 weeks. It will be a rough couple of weeks for the whole family, that's for sure. But I'm so glad Mark is on the mend!

Mark was one of 7 patients with appendicitis yesterday. The nurse wasn't sure if it was a record or not, but it was certainly out of the norm. Is there something in the water? I think maybe I should start drinking Evian.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mark's Record Is Broken

Mark has never broken a bone.
Mark has never gotten stitches.
Mark has never had surgery.
Er, wait.
That last one is no longer true.

It is 2:00 a.m., and I am writing to report that Mark has joined his brother Rob and our friend Erik and is now appendix-less. He had an attack of the "stomach flu" last night that lasted through the morning and the pain just wouldn't go away. And suddenly, the pain was just in one spot on the right side of his abdomin. The surgeon said it couldn't have been a more textbook case of appendicitis if Mark had tried.

So we spent the day at the hospital while our kids were under the care of another mom from my babysitting co-op, Laura, and then Mark's parents, who are flying out of town at 9:00 tomorrow morning and just left my house a few minutes ago (all of them saints, I tell you.) Tomorrow morning, since my parents and my sisters' family are all out of the state on vacation, I will drop the kids off with Mark's Aunt Linda (yet another saint) so that I can be with him at the hospital. It's amazing how much scheduling there is when someone is sick.

Mark didn't say anything too funny coming off of anesthesia, but apparently he did try to climb off the stretcher in the recovery room, telling them, "I'm going home!" [He doesn't remember saying that.] He said that he had dreams about Abby and Ethan dancing and giggling when he was in surgery, which is a very pleasant thing to dream.

It's never dull around here, is it?

Good night.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Never-Before-Seen Performance

Ethan (er, rather, KiKi Witch) will now perform for you using his new karaoke machine from Grandma and Grandpa. Enjoy!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas Eve

I am currently listening to Abby belt out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" over and over in her room while she is *supposed to be* taking a nap. It's hard to be frustrated when she's so darn jolly!

We spent our morning opening presents from my sister Bobbi's family, and then of course playing with them. It is a leisurely day so far, to be followed by a festive night with my parents coming over to celebrate Christmas with us. This evening, I will be singing in the church choir for our 11:00 p.m. Mass (joining the Christmas choir was one of the fun highlights of my advent this year). It should turn out to be a great day!

I am really looking forward to tomorrow. We are going to bake cookies this afternoon for Santa. We will also sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, which Ethan has been singing already for the past month. The kids will come downstairs to open 5 gifts each plus a stocking that Santa will bring. We will spread out the gifts over the morning, and later on Mark's parents will come over for brunch and another round of presents. After that, we're off to Mark's mom's extended family.

It should be a really fun couple of days! This is such a magical time of year!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Traditions

As we raise our children, Mark and I are developing lots of family traditions. It is really important to us that the kids have certain things that they can count on year after year. It is really important for all of us. Christmas seems to be a time of many traditions.

Here are some of the *new* and *existing* Christmas traditions that the Team Meat family observes.

Hand tree *new*: When we had our basement-reveal party, I asked everyone in our family to help make a Christmas tree for our new basement. We all made a hand-print to help create the tree in the photo. I labeled all the hands. I love the way it turned out. I would like to do this every year, and keep the trees from past years and hang them all up. I will either complete the tree at Thanksgiving, or maybe I'll host a small party at the beginning of December "just because".

Cutting our Christmas tree *existing*: I believe that my parents have always had a real Christmas tree that our family cut each year. They still do. And so do we! We make the cutting of the tree an adventure, and the last few years we have started the tradition of going with Mark's parents. I just love choosing the perfect tree!!

Gammers and Grampa *new*: My parents bought a couple extra gifts for the kids this year, and decided to give them away at the beginning of December. So they came over one afternoon to play with the kids, gave them their cool dressup clothes and a couple Christmas books, and we had dinner together. It was a really great relaxing start of the Christmas season. We're planning to do it again next year.

5 Days of Christmas *existing*: When Mark and I were first married, we were living 2-1/2 hours away from our families. This meant lots of weekend trips home. And it meant that Christmas Eve and Christmas day were spent away from our own house. We didn't want to haul our gifts to each other across the state in order to open them on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. So we developed a "5 days of Christmas" tradition. We would package our gifts to each other in 5 chunks, and sit down with the Christmas tree all lit up to open one each night prior to leaving town. It spread Christmas out for us, and gave us something to look forward to each day of Christmas week. And we usually write clues on the tags so we can try to guess what the gifts are each night, too. Even though we are home for Christmas now, we still do this...we just wait until the kids are in bed. ;)

Christmas card picture *existing*: Since my oldest sister Becky was born, my parents have included a photo in with their Christmas cards. They were always a full-family photo, including my parents, and the photo shoot was always an event. While I didn't always enjoy the photo shoots (there is one year when I was about 8 where I was crying in most of the pictures), it is an awesome tradition and is so fun to look back on. Now, we receive a card from my empty-nester parents each year with a picture of the two of them. I have always loved the tradition, and ever since Mark and I were engaged, we have sent out Christmas cards with photos. Up until 2 years ago, even the pets were included (now, it is just too crazy to try and set up a shot with 4 people, 2 dogs and a cat).

Advent tree *new*: This year, Christmas is so exciting for the kids. I wanted to count down to Jesus' birthday with an advent calendar. Mark's mom gave me a cute advent calendar from his childhood, but it seemed a little too fragile for preschool hands. So Mark bought this advent tree from Starbucks, of all places. It has drawers that pull out, and you turn the drawers around as the month progresses to create a winter scene. The drawers came with chocolates, but in the future I will find small trinkets to represent different parts of the story of Jesus' birth. The kids love the tree.

Gift for Jesus *new*: Mark and I love all of the activities surrounding Christmas, but we definitely want our kids to understand that what we are doing is celebrating the birth of our Savior. So I came up with the idea to purchase a toy as a family to give to a child who could use one through Toys for Tots. In the future, I would like the kids to pitch in some of their saved money to help buy the toy. I want to stress that as we celebrate Jesus' birthday, we should give Him the gift that he asked for, to help take care of those in need. We tried this activity this year. We learned a valuable lesson, the hard way: our kids are too young for this concept right now. The endeavor was not well understood, and resulted in a 3-year old screaming as we left Target because she thought we were at the store to pick out a toy to reward her for doing well on the potty. Bad, bad parenting mistake. Next year, we might be ready.

What are some of your Christmas traditions?

Friday, December 15, 2006

One of these days

But not today. I have a few posts rolling around in my head, but haven't had (or rather, haven't made) the time to write them.

I am taking my own personal mantra to "enjoy this Advent season to its fullest" to heart. I have said no to some commitments that were causing me stress. And I feel darn good about it. Unfortunately, blog-time is one of the things that is on the back burner for the time. I hope to write something very soon - stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our Bee-u-tiful Basement!

As promised, here is the Virtual Grand Reveal of our finished basement! There are a few things that need to be done yet (some wiring of the outlets, for instance) but we are able to play downstairs now! I AM SO HAPPY!! My husband and Dad-in-law have given me such a gift by adding living space!

Before the carpeting was laid, I asked Mark to sign the floor for future homeowners to find some day when we are gone...
Here is the trip down the stairs...
The view of the rec. room from the bottom of the stairs...
There is a little niche that was perfect for a dressup area (the mirrors will be mounted on the right-hand wall very soon)...
I saw this idea somewhere for putting up a clothesline to hang artwork, and I loved it. So the wall at the bottom of the stairs holds my kiddo's artwork (and all at their level so they can see it, too)...
This is the "reading nook." We'll also do puzzles, arts and crafts, and other stuff in this corner. Eventually, I think the kids would really like bean bags in this area too...
I bought 3 big bookcases at a garage sale this summer for $1 each. They were really junky. But after a few coats of paint, and a lot of structural reinforcement by Mark, they turned out well! We attached two of them together to hold all of our storage bins of stuff. It's hard to tell, but each shelf is a different color (light green, dark blue, dark green, light blue)...
I am so happy to have a "conversation area" now. Across from this chair and couch are a pair of chairs. The couch pulls out to a bed, also, for any overnight guests we may have. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with the support pole behind Sawyer yet, but I'm thinking I might cover it with fabric...
This is the office, which can be easily converted to a bathroom in the future (see the plumbing hookup on the floor?) Mark is anxious to get our two computer desks and 4 computers set up down there!
This is the view of the office from the main room. I just really like the artistic look of the striped pattern through the circle pattern of the outer room.
There are three other rooms in the basement. There is a store room (which is jam-packed with stuff and needs to be sorted out soon), and two closets (one holds the sump pump and the other has the circuit breaker and will hold all of my scrapbooking supplies). The basement is gorgeous! Come by and see it in person, if you can!!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Preview of coming attractions

Tonight, we are hosting a gala event to celebrate a momentous occasion in the Team Meat house. We are finally moved in to our newly finished basement!! Our family and neighbors will be coming over for the Grand Reveal. No one has seen it in its finished state except the four of us, and I can hardly wait to show it off!

The kids got their own sneak peek yesterday, after not seeing the basement in well over 6 months. The first thing Ethan said? "Wow... real carpet!"

We have been playing down there every spare minute today, and will be doing the same right up to the party, I'm sure. Be on the lookout for photos of our awesome new living space!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Our Resident Dr. Dolittle

Abby has always had a special way with animals. Since she was a teeny-tiny thing (some could argue that she still is a teeny-tiny thing), she has never had fear of any animal, big or small. It is easy to see that love pours from her to any animals. It really is amazing and beautiful.

Yesterday, on our Christmas tree cutting adventure, we took a wagon ride from the parking lot to the tree farm. The wagon was pulled by a team of horses, beautiful mammoth Clydesdales.

As I mentioned before, it was really cold yesterday. And very icy. Our wagon was being pulled by three horses on the way back to the barn. When we were almost to the barn, a pregnant horse named Mamie lost her footing on the ice and fell down sideways. The other horses had to do a quick two-step to keep their own footing.

The time that Mamie was down was small, but it had a big impact on a little girl with a giant heart. Her eyes were as big as saucers, and she kept asking me if the horse was OK. After I mumbled some reassurances, she dropped it for the moment.

Over hot chocolate, she brought it up again.

After her nap, she mentioned it again.

Today, she has brought it up several times. Not to ask me how Mamie is, but rather recalling the events. "The horse slipped. Fell down and got hurt," she would say, as she furrowed her brow.

I know this is eating at my animal-empathic daughter. I just hope she can find her own peace with the incident. And I now know that when our pets' time on earth is through, as much as we will all grieve, there is one girl in our family who will be hit the hardest.

Mamie is on the far right. Beautiful horses!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oh, Super-tall Christmas Tree

We spent the afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa on our annual trip to cut our Christmas trees. It was really, really cold. But it was beautifully snowy, with big fat flakes that you can catch on your tongue. The perfect day for tradition.

Getting ready to go...

The tallest tree we've ever had. It will fit nicely in the two-story foyer!

Brrrr.... we need our hot chocolate!!

Waiting for Grandma and Grandpa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Weather Outside is Snowful

Yesterday, we had an ice storm, followed by a few inches of snow. Schools were closed, Mark worked from home, it was kinda fun.

After dinner, Mark went out to shovel the driveway, which meant that we all went out. The kids put on their snowpants, boots, hats, mittens, coats. As soon as Ethan got down the front steps, he plopped himself on his back and made a snow angel (which he has been wanting to do for a month now). Abby had a blast throwing loosely-packed snowballs at everyone. The kids got to help Daddy uing their "shovels" (which are really Chuck It tennis-ball launchers used for the dogs - but they also work really well at chucking snowballs at your unsuspecting husband from the neighbor's yard). Everyone had fun, even Dad who was stuck actually shoveling.

Ethan cried when it was time to come in after 45 minutes (when the sun had set and we were still outside throwing snowballs in the dark with our neighbors). The kids are going to LOVE playing outside this year.