Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mile-Long Run-Down...Because I'm That Behind!

Where to begin? It's been a long, eventful past several weeks, during which I had to abandon the blog just to survive it all. I'll try to "summarize," though admittedly I'm not very good at that. Here goes.

For Saylor's birthday (in October) the best daddy in the world had ordered tickets to the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker: one for his little ballerina and one for me, the long-ago-wanna-be ballerina. So, the day after Thanksgiving we had a "girls' night out." We got all dressed up for an evening at Robinson Auditorium. Saylor was so excited, which was hilarious to me because she really had NO idea what she was so excited about. As I handed our tickets to the usher, I was astonished to discover that our seats were on the 2nd row right smack dab in the middle! I'm talkin' DOWN FRONT, people! I could not believe it! We had to call Paul right there and then to thank him for the amazing seats. Seriously amazing. Saylor loved, loved, loved it! I had to keep telling her to hush because she wanted to talk about everything! And boy, did the killing of the Mouse King ever make an impression on her! She talked about that for days! Afterwards, we picked up milkshakes for the ride home. I really wanted to take her somewhere for hot cocoa and a dessert, but it was late for her to be out AND I had been away from Atticus for what seemed like an eternity to my poor nursing self. Turns out that after such a wonderful show, we were both content with our milkshakes. My only regret from that night is that I didn't bring a camera. I was trying to be a good girl and obey Robinson's rules, but I wish I had ignored them like everyone else so I could have captured my giddy daughter in the moment!



Next, we took our annual trip to Motley's Tree Farm. Unfortunately, we were later in going this year, so since there are only so many weekends in December we were forced to do it on a less-than-lovely sort of day. Can you say "FREEZING RAIN"?? Good golly, it was cold!!! And WET!!! Not the best conditions for a newborn, or a toddler, or a tired, wimpy momma, for that matter! We literally scurried down the rows looking for anything not tagged, not short, and not scraggly. I mean fast! I remember frantically pointing to two different trees, probably 75 feet apart, and shouting through my jittery teeth, "I say it's between these two. You choose! I don't care! I'm going in and I'm taking the babies!!" I had Atticus up against me totally covered in a huge fleece blanket I always keep in the car (since my dear husband and I never agree on what temperature is a comfortable car temperature). I had Gabe by the hand, and I was dragging him along as fast as his little legs could go. Poor little guy could barely see either, because his winter hat kept slipping over his eyes. I was hightailing it, all the while praying that Atticus wouldn't suffocate under that blanket. It was CRAZY cold!! We finally made it to the little shop where they sell ornaments, tree stands, and various other Christmasy odds and ends, and though we were warm here it was UN-fun with two babies. My sling was in the car (smart, huh?), as was the infant seat, so I was just HOLDing Atticus in that huge blanket: I thought my arms would break off at any moment. Gabriel was wandering around the store, so I had to keep a constant watch over him so he wouldn't break anything. Needless to say, I was glad when Paul and the big kids finally finished chopping down our tree. Then they caught a pig race or two (still not sure how this event fits in to the Christmas tree thing), we got our handfuls of peanuts, got our hot cocoa and candy canes, paid for our tree and an ornament for Saylor, and that was that. Not one picture. I was in disbelief. What a day!

You'll have to settle for pics from last year's trip to the tree farm: Gabriel's first Christmas

It took us almost an entire week to get all the Christmas decorations out and up. You do what you have to do , I guess--a little here and a little there. I took pictures, mainly so I'll have documentation for the sake of saving time next year. I'll share a few here for all the family and friends who didn't grace us with their presence during the holiday season.

Mamaw's Christmas plates

Stockings hung by the TV with care

Notice I finished the tablecloth, Mom?

Let's see. We had some automobile inc
idents. First there was the Sunday morning on which I was supposed to sing at church.We were pushing it to make it on time (the story of our lives). Paul headed out to the car with the diaper bag, Bibles, coats, etc. He opened the back hatch on our Expedition to load those things in. I'm not sure what happened next, but he must have been distracted by something because he ended up coming back to the door, perhaps to start getting the children into the garage and then the car. During this moment of distraction, he forgot he had left the hatch open and proceeded to open the garage door. Up the door began, grabbing the hatch door as it went!! Needless to say, the hatch was broken to smithereens. Glass went everywhere!! And of course, it was time to go! There we were. We had to make certain there was no glass in any of the car seats, load the kids, AND sweep up as much glass as possible out from under the tires. Why it can never be easy, I'll never know. We piled blankets over Atticus' car seat so he'd be warm and off we church...with free air conditioning. Brrrr.

The next day Paul had a guy come out to the house and replace the back hatch. Expensive little mistake, but easily fixed, thank goodness. The day after THAT I had to take Atticus and Saylor in for a check-up. It was raining. Paul came home and kept the other two to make things a little easier on me, God love him. On the way back home, though, I hydroplaned in a curve. Yes, I did. We spun around and around, and yet somehow no other cars got in our way. There were angels taking care of us that day. We hit the guardrail with the front bumper and finally stopped spinning. It was SO scary. I was amazed at how far things flew, even out of my closed backpack! Unreal. Nobody was harmed, aside from a little seatbelt burn on Saylor's sweet little neck. And, thankfully, the car was drivable. That was a good thing for more than just getting on home, for it also meant our car seats were all safe to continue using. Depending on the severity of an accident, sometimes car seats can no longer be used. Turns out that as long as nobody is injured, the car is drivable from the scene, the side of the car next to the car seat was not hit, and the air bags were not deployed, then the car seats are perfectly safe to continue using. Found this info. here.

It was during this time--while the SUV was in the shop--that we had a Dodge Caravan. For a brief moment in time I had my dreams of driving a minivan fulfilled, much to Paul's chagrin. Oooh, it was nice! Two automatic sliding doors on the sides, smooth ride, 100% stowable passenger seating, dual temperature control (HOW that would change my life!!), four potential spots for TVs. Boy, I tell ya--it was impressive! Of course, we couldn't have gone anywhere farther than across town and only for a couple of hours because there was absolutely no cargo space once we were all buckled in. I think I missed my chance to be a minivan-owner one or two children ago. Oh, well.

What else? Paul and I had a little evening out thanks to a new church acquaintance. His firm's annual Christmas dinner was fast approaching, and we really had no plan in place for child care. The dinner was a Monday night, and on the Thursday prior I went to our monthly church Women's Fellowship and met a lady who was brand new at the church. She happened to offer her daughter's babysitting services, so I took her up on it! Just so you know, I'm not usually so impetuous regarding babysitters for my children. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I'm the kind of mother who wants to call home seventeen times to check on things--even when it's grandparents taking care of them. I DON'T, I swear; I just really want to. Anyway, I was totally comfortable with the situation. I had had a connection with this mom, and I was assured that her 18-year-old daughter had plenty of experience, as she has six younger siblings. So we met her at church on Sunday, and she was at our house the very next day! Everything worked out beautifully, despite the nasty winter weather we were having that night. We're so excited to have someone we can trust. Now--to start working that into our budget!

Atticus at 2 months old

Paul did a little preaching. Seriously, he did! And it was great!
The "thirty-somethings" were asked to be in charge of the entire service on the Sunday before Christmas. Actually, they called it the "thirty-somethings," but it was really more like a group of college kids with a couple young parents and a pair of newleyweds thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure we exactly belong in the same category...actually, I know we don't...but that's beside the point. We were given two weeks notice and a lunch meeting after church. The "planning" session generated the idea to have several of the guys read from/expound upon Scriptures related to that week's advent theme, interspersed with Christmas songs, the lighting of the Advent candles, prayer, etc. On the day before the service they held a little run-through rehearsal, at which point Paul discovered that he was basically the only one who had actually interpreted his job as preparing thoughts on the Scriptures he was reading. Every one else thought they were supposed to simply read a passage. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that, but Paul had really done his homework. When Sunday morning rolled around, I guess you could say that he "brought it." It was awesome! Every one thought so. I think I sort of fell in love all over again. I only wish I had thought to sneak in Paul's teeny-tiny cassette recorder from his law school days. Hindsight.

We made several quick trips to Conway and back to visit the Davidsons. We had to keep coming back home because of Paul's job. What a nuisance! Haha! I think I'll always be on the school semester schedule in my mind--I just can't see why anyone should have anything they have to do after...say...December 20th or so. Of course, there was no place to put us all anyway. It was quite exhausting, but what are you gonna do? We're sort of figuring out that if we want to see any one, it befalls US to get out there and do it. One thing's for sure: we never seem to get enough time. You know, when all your siblings are parents, too, and you figure in time for all the diapers, feedings, and bedtimes, it's sort of hard to have much deep, meaningful conversation. The little bit we were all together was fun, though.

Christmas happened--I think. I mean, it did, but it sure was a whirlwind for me! Probably due to the sleep deprivation: I just ain't quite right (pronounced with an extremely country-sounding long "I"). All I know is that during the course of a few short days I took care of the all-consuming Christmas card project, wrapped plenty of presents, dressed lots of children, barely got my teeth brushed (what's new?), watched our tree droop long before it should have (depressing!), stuffed some stockings, made dressing that tasted terrible because somehow SALT was not listed as an ingredient, crammed in the fruitcake-making and gingerbread house (okay, train)-decorating ON Christmas Eve (can anyone say "last minute"?), went to church, read some Christmas stories and did nativity activities at far-too-late bedtimes, can I throw in "changed diapers" here?,, cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned (yet didn't make a dent), and tried to get a glimpse of the tree lights as I flew past the tree on my way from one room to another. Obviously, not necessarily in that order. Oh, and there was a mini-fiasco over the gifts I had planned for the nephews and niece. The whole plan sort of blew up in my face and nothing I tried seemed to help. I can't give you any specifics, for fear some of them may be reading this. Haha. At the last second I had to go out and find all new things for them. Highly stressful! And then it was over. I'll have to fill you in on our gifts in another post.

The gingerbread train

One attempt at a photo for the Christmas card

The Christmas Card 2008

THEN...we were all set to head to Hamburg the weekend after Christmas to go visit the Carpenters. We thought we'd leave first thing Saturday morning, spend all day and night with the Carpenters, go to church and sing (that would be me) with them, have a little lunch, and head back home after naps. Paul, of course, would need to work Monday. Forevermore!! Early Saturday morning, however, we got a call from Dad saying that various members of the family were sick with the stomach virus. This is what's called a WRENCH in the plans. After not very much discussion, Paul and I decided to SKIP the trip. For a brief moment there was talk of maybe going down the next day to give people time to get over it, but it turns out that someone with the stomach virus is actually contagious for a good three to four days AFTER starting to feel better. This is according to the Mayo Clinic, and I guess they know some stuff. See this. Enough said. We just couldn't risk it, not with this many children and one an infant and a family wedding coming up. So here we sat, knowing everyone else was together opening gifts, visiting, playing, eating (well, not eating), just being together. It was NO fun.

New Year's Eve rolled around pretty quickly. Paul finally took a day off, and since we had several errands to run and plans for the evening, we hit the ground running that morning. Firstly, I had begun feeling pretty terrible a few days prior: sore throat, cough, the usual. Wouldn't have been a big deal, but remember the upcoming family wedding? Yeah, well, I was supposed to sing! Never fails. I wasn't getting any better, it seemed, and was starting to get panicky, as we had planned to leave for Hamburg the very next day. So I got a work-in appointment with our family doc, Dr. Tilley (aka "Dr. Feelgood"). He's awesome. No song and dance required. "I have 'xyz' wrong with me, and I have to sing at my cousin's wedding this weekend." "Okay. Here's a steroid shot and a Z-pack; call me if your husband starts feeling badly and we'll hook him up, too." Ah! The way it should be.

Doped up, I swung by the house, picked up the rest of the fam, and off we went to get Noah's moptop chopped. Now, the story goes that Noah HATES to have his hair cut. He says "it's boring," which is really code for "YOU want me to have my hair cut and therefore that is something I definitely do NOT want to do." Truthfully, none of us like to have his hair cut. We've tried several stylists in town, none of whom did a good job, and we've tried Mommy doing it, but it's entirely too much stress for little old me. Perfectionism is a curse, especially if you have no idea HOW to do what it is you are attempting to make perfect. Ugh. Noah has had horribly-shaggy hair, seriously chopped-up hair, looks-way-too-old hair, and looks-nothing-like-himself hair. It's never been a good experience, but I was convinced that a ring bearer simply MUST have a fresh new "do," and since I had a mail-out coupon from the new Pigtails and Crewcuts, we thought we'd give it a whirl. And what an amazing place! Bright colors. Vehicle-shaped seats to sit in during the haircut. Animated movie playing on several TV screens. Train table. Separate room full of classic toys. Big plate glass window separating the rooms so Mommy can see everything that's going on. Friendly people. Crayons and paper. Playstation. Bingo! (Not "Bingo" the game, but "Bingo!" as in we have a winner!!) My son hopped right up in that chair, took hold of his cordless controller, chose a game, and there was not a single peep out of him! I chose a style from a book, discussed it with his stylist and headed off to nurse the baby. Saylor watched a little of the movie, played at the train table, and danced. (It's what she does, guys.) Gabriel ignored all the colorful, fun toys and chose instead to push all the little chairs around the room. (Typical.) The stylist got my final approval, showed me how to fix it, and sent Noah off to the treasure chest for a prize. Relief upon relief! For $14.00 (regularly $16) and less than half an hour, it was done. What an amazing experience!

A happy boy with a handsome haircut

Saylor had a good time, too.

Home again we go. Naps. I baked a yummy for carrying to our friends' house. Did a little packing. yada yada At about 6:00 p.m. we set out for First Baptist to meet our good friends for some roller skating. Their Family Life Center was going to be open for the evening, and our friends had been invited so they invited us along, too. Hospitable evening. Haha! There was wallyball, card-playing (perhaps?), and then roller-skating for the kids. Interesting combo, right? So Noah and Saylor tried out skating for the first time. Neither of them liked it much. After flailing around like rag dolls for half an hour or so, they both just ran around and were perfectly happy doing so. It really was a fun time for them. A little before 8:00 we headed on to our friends' house to hang out for the rest of the evening, activities to include: taco salad, goodies, Wii, ping-pong tournaments (that Round Robin game is just ridiculous, okay?), Wall-E, putting children to bed in all sorts of random places, and lots of good adult conversation. It was stupid late when we finally got home. Like 3:30-4:00 a.m. late. But so much fun!!

Saylor got Daddy's help

Noah had to have fallen 50 times

I don't know why he kept grinning--he must have been in pain!

The next day we all slept late. Noah actually slept until noon! Then we packed up, picked up Noah's tux, and headed down south. We had a very nice visit with Mimi and Da and then E.K. and B.T. (Carpenter cousins). We had our very late Christmas celebration, visited and played. The wedding rehearsal was the next evening. My brother and I were singing "The Prayer" and "Come What May." My meds had done the trick, so that was good. The kids did fine at the rehearsal, aside from a HUGE diaper blowout on Atticus' part. His outfit from that night is STILL soaking, y'all. No lie. Dinner was at The Village Steakhouse in Star City. Very, very good...if you like steak. The kids gorged themselves on onion blossom and played with Wikki Stix for the first time. Very fun. After this...

Papaw took his cue and went off to get his "props." I didn't get any pics of him in his double-billed cap or his rainbow wig, but for those of you who've seen them before, I'm sure you can picture it without my help. Appropriately, he then gifted Noah with these:

'Round about 4:00 a.m. I awoke to the sound of Noah vomiting all over everything in his bed. He was sick the rest of the night. I'm NOT kidding! The virus stuck around long enough to wait on us anyway. At a loss as to what to do, I called the pediatrician's office and left a message for the nurse to call me back. We got some Zofran called in at the very last possible second before the local pharmacy closed. The medicine stopped the vomiting, and a few hours later we were heading to the church to have pictures made. Can you imagine?! I so wanted to just put my poor boy to bed and keep him AWAY from every other living soul, but we had a very expensive tux in HIS size (thanks, Aunt Lisa!) and a cousin getting married and in need of a ring bearer. It was not a good position to be in, because there was really no right answer to the situation. All I knew to do was to get him meds, dress him up, show up for the event, warn everyone to stay away, and hope and pray no one else caught it. Of course, the inevitable was sure to happen. I was feeling quite queasy by the time we arrived for the pictures. At the time, though, I chalked it up to being up all night with Noah, the stress of trying to get myself and Saylor dressed and ready, and nerves over the singing. The wedding went smoothly. Saylor tossed her flower petals in the best way possible and Noah made it through without vomiting or passing out. The music went well, too. Then off we went to the reception which was ridiculously crowded. Try bringing four tired, hungry kids to an overcrowded wedding reception. If that doesn't give you a tic I don't know what will! Noah had a cracker or two and we finally got some food for the other two solid-food eaters. Paul was about to lose it. I think his claustrophobia was "flaring up." Hahahaha! I finally had enough of the misery and dragged Noah and Saylor out on the dance floor to blow off some frustration. We had a blast! Gabe came next and even some other family got out there with us. Saylor and Cousin B.T. were adorable dancing together. If I can find someone who took a picture of that I'll share it with you. We probably danced for fifteen minutes or so. We needed it. Take note of the breathtaking dress below. Thanks, Aunt Lisa!! Hopefully there will be more pictures made in this dress very soon.

Just before the ceremony: Doesn't Noah look dapper? And not at all green!

I breezed past the bride's table
for my MUST-HAVE piece of cake. Saylor, too. (Like mother, like daughter.) It was at this point, though, that I knew for certain that something wasn't quite right...because that cake tasted terrible...and I could tell it was a good cake! I took like three bites and decided to stop...yuck! Quickly, I changed two diapers in a less-than-convenient area, and we loaded everyone up to go back to Hamburg. That was one long, miserable drive, because I was getting sicker by the minute. OH! It was awful! I couldn't do anything to help once we got home. Paul got the kids to bed, and I crashed on the couch unable to move. About an hour later I started vomiting. I was SO sick!! I stayed on the couch with Atticus in the bouncy seat beside me--I don't know HOW he got any sleep. I was sick all night long, but upstairs Saylor (once) and Gabriel (30+ times) were sick, too, and Paul was trying to care for them. It was a veritable nightmare!! I was totally incapacitated the next day. I somehow managed to crawl up the stairs midmorning, and what I found was so horrific I almost sat down and cried: mounds and mounds of towels and bedding just reeking of vomit. I wanted to give up, so hopeless seemed the situation. I don't know how many loads of laundry Mom and I did, but at one point my Dad remarked that the water company was probably going to think there was a burst water line or something because the meter had to have been going crazy. Anyway, I could never accurately describe the illness to its fullest extent, but I CAN say it was probably the sickest I've EVER been in my life. It was stomach PAIN, body aches, chills, headaches, faintness, weakness, nausea, everything!! Even little Atticus got sick. He never acted fussy or uncomfortable, but he was sick alright. The official diaper changer can attest to that!

We were supposed to head home Sunday, but Gabe and I were much too sick to travel. So we stuck around a while until we felt a little better, but before we could leave Paul got sick. So very sick! Let me tell you, it wasn't until Tuesday afternoon that we were all well enough to pack up and come home. Here's a little FYI just in case you ever need it. Do Pedialyte (not Gatorade) in very small amounts (1-2 Tablespoons) every half hour. Later, FLAT Sprite, diluted clear fruit juices, water, etc. BRAT diet: Bananas, cooked Rice or Rice cereals, Applesauce (NOT apples), Toast. No whole grains, no nuts, no fresh fruits or veggies, no greasy foods, no dairy.

It was bad. In fact, I ended up taking Noah and Gabriel to see the doctor on Thursday morning because by then we were still not doing great. Noah had gone straight from stomach virus stuff to respiratory stuff. He ended up with a double ear infection. Gabriel was still severely nauseated and was slightly dehydrated. I stayed up with him all night Wednesday night syringing Pedialyte down him every half hour because the child wouldn't eat or drink anything! No telling how much weight he has lost! My poor heart...And do you know? We all have ended up with the respiratory junk! Sore throats, stuffy, runny noses, sneezing, sinus headaches, terrible coughs. I'm talking...this disease was one bad boy! Makes you wonder if someone released some sort of biochemical warfare agent. I truly felt like I was living in the movie Outbreak or something! We are currently still trying to recover from all the awfulness. Gabriel has been the last to come around. Poor thing. I guess that much vomiting from such a little guy can mess a system up something fierce! No pictures of us enduring the plague. Aren't you thankful?


  1. I hate that we missed seeing you guys. We so hoped it was to keep you well. But, it looks like a very eventful time! :) I LOVE the Nutcracker pictures. What a princess! We love you guys! I am hoping for a Little Rock visit some day soon!

  2. Wow, I feel a bundle of nerves and emotions after reading that. You guys need your own television show. I think it would be a hit. I'm glad you found a babysitter you can trust, since you don't trust me. :0 Thanks for the tip on Pigtails and Crewcuts - this might change our lives. I hope the rest of your winter is full of lovely and splendid things.

  3. Remind me not to complain about my cold. That sounds terrible. I enjoyed "catching up" with you. Hope all is well for you guys.

  4. wow....that has been a very eventful couple of months!!! Your family is beautiful!!!

    So glad that you came by my we must meet in person! We'll get Becky on that! :)

    I had to laugh at your comment "I used to go to your church..." I have found that ijust about everyone in LR at some point went to Grace...or so it seems b/c I hear that a lot!!!

    this meme was a lot of fun, so , here is your letter...."C"!! Have fun with it!!


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