February 26, 2009

Plumbers, malls, birthdays and other things that make up our life

The days are motoring on. This has been one of those weeks where I have constantly been confused about what day it is. Not what the date is, what the DAY is. So goes the life of a mom who stays home with four kids. Not that every day is the same...but every day is the same. (This is not said in complaint, just stating how it is sometimes!)

One highlight of the week is that I had some VERY cute plumbers come by to work on the bathroom sink.

I didn't even know the sink was broken. Hopefully in their next training session at work they'll learn to use a plunger.

Last Wednesday was my 35th birthday. I've now reached the age that in my head I had always thought (in the past, certainly not now!)was getting on up there in age. I'm officially halfway to old. I keep trying not to think about it, but my body has other ideas. My hair gave me gray ones for my birthday, apparently. I keep finding a few stray ones here and there. My brother has been going gray since he was 19, so I guess I should be grateful for the longevity I've had with my not gray hair up until now! Also, I went horseback riding first thing Wednesday morning, thanks to a terrific homeschooler who watched the kids for me, but when I got back MAN WAS I BEAT! I could have gone right back to bed. I shall chalk that up to pathetic post-carrying/birthing/nursing four children while not exercising for the past five years body. It certainly can't have anything to do with having another birthday. If it does I'm not having any more of them! (Birthdays or babies!) :)

We had Thursday night dinner at the Jennings house last week. James drove separately, and walked in with a birthday cake for me which he had made himself in the camp kitchen. It was a fun surprise, and I was very impressed with his skill and creativity. I told him he's the kids' birthday cake maker from now on.

Check it out!

It was red velvet. He found some little horses in the basement which had been mine as a kid. He even built little jumps out of candles and icing.

And you don't notice it at first, but the cake has a special guy's touch. Each of the horses have their own chocolate chip poop piles behind them. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Even if you're on an edible surface.

The picture's not great, but I wanted one of me with the baker.

Saturday we went to a fourth birthday party for our church and playgroup buddy, Amelia. James was participating in a camp fair at the Mall of Georgia. I was very proud of myself, as I had my act together enough to actually arrive at the birthday party early. That is unheard of for this crew. It was at McDonald's in Gainesville...or so I thought until I got everyone out of the car and realized we didn't know anybody there. Turns out it was at the McDonald's in Oakwood, the next town over. The story of my life! It pays to look at the invitation one more time before leaving home, even if you think you know where you're going.

Since we were that much closer to Buford where the Mall of Georgia is, I decided we would blow off afternoon naps and head down to see James. That is also where my childhood best friend Janet works, so I thought it would be fun to see her too. Too bad I had taken the stoller out of the car and had left it at home. I had the front pack carrier for Elizabeth which worked fine, but it didn't take long to feel like I was toting around an anvil! It ended up being a good day to be at the mall, as we left with many freebies. The kids rode the little train that goes around the mall, and on it met a man who was trying to take a train set back to Kaybee Toys...which had closed. So he gave it to the kids. My friend Janet is the manager at Helzberg Diamonds, and a man who works in her store gave us coupons for free Chick-fil-A ice creams. Then Janet gave Amelia a pair of REAL pearl earrings. (I'm saving them for when she gets up the nerve to have her ears pierced so she can actually wear them.) Then Janet gave them some books. Then Amelia got a free T-shirt from one of the other camps at the camp fair. Avery had no nap and Elizabeth slept 30 minutes the entire day, but they were still perky enough to hold up for dinner out with Janet and her family. We enjoyed catching up since it had been awhile.

Sunday the kids and I went to church and James headed off to Town Center Mall in Marietta for another camp fair. That afternoon one of the youth from church came to babysit so I could go riding. It was a balmy 39 degrees with a 25 MPH wind, but I was undeterred! If you wear enough layers you stay warm, even if you can't get on the horse without help. (Like the kid in the Christmas Story movie who was so bundled up he couldn't get up when he fell down in the snow.)

On Monday James picked up a college friend and fellow MK (Missionary Kid- her family served in Tanzania) and her husband who had been at a conference in Savannah. They are missionaries in Canada, working with college students and church planting in a very unchurched area. James hadn't seen her since college days (they reconnected on Facebook), and we had never met her husband. We enjoyed getting to know them and hanging out some through Wednesday morning. Tuesday they were able to talk to our Missions Team from church about what they are doing in Canada. They were cool, and I admire their dedication and willingness to follow God's call.

Lon and Amanda and us

Tuesday I also took the kids to playgroup. I took the camera and got some random shots.

The Pittmans have a great sandbox.

Shannon and Dylan, who lives there.

What's better than burying something and digging it up?

Elliott? Are you in there?

Amelia and Amelia, Queens of Dress Up.

Rebekah, Amelia's little sister with Elizabeth, other Amelia's little sister.

Tozer is good at rolling all over the place now, and ended up in Elizabeth's lap where she worked on giving him a new hair do. And a face lift.

Looks like she's planning to give him a Wet Willy....

"Give me that toy!"

"Hey, I've got a great idea. Let's chew stuff up!"

Wednesday morning I got to ride (as I mentioned earlier), which was a GREAT way to start the day. My friend/boarder/riding lesson instructor Susan has Tuesdays and Wednesdays off work, so I'm trying to get some help with the kids on one of those days so I can go ride with her for an hour or two. She has a super awesome dressage horse, a Lippizaner/Thoroughbred cross, who I enjoy riding. He had an injury that put him on stall rest for 10 weeks, and in the meantime she acquired a REALLY nice Trakhener/Percheron mare who she's training in dressage. (I realize breed names mean nothing to the non-horsey crowd!) She's letting me ride her too. These horses are a considerable step up for me. It's kind of like the difference between a stripped down Chevy S-10 and a Lexus. Needless to say, I'm enjoying myself.

I left the barn in time to head off to gymnastics with the kids...which we got there early for. Again, amazing! Twice in one week! So what happens? Their instructor ran out of gas and got there late. If there's one thing I've learned this week it's don't bother being early for something. Just kidding, James. I know how you love it when we run late. :)

Tonight we had dinner at the Hicks' house, and this weekend we are hosting the CMU (Christian Missions Unlimited) reunion at camp. This is the group our church and James go to Brazil with. A few folks have arrived early, so we got to see some of them this evening. I will be leaving before it ends on Saturday to head to McDonough for a family dinner. Sunday my mom is keeping the kids at her house while my sister-in-law and I go to a cake decorating class at the Viking Cooking School in Buckhead. I had asked for Cake Decorating for Dummies (if it exists) for Christmas, and she and my brother Jonathan outdid themselves and are sending me to a class! I'm looking forward to it. I'll try to remember the camera, so look for pictures in the near future.

Here are a few random shots of life with the Himstedts from this week.

"Mommy, take my picture. Cheese!"

Having all these babies has permanently affected the older kids. Here's Shannon feeding his dog. According to him, Carlo (the dog, named by Shannon) isn't old enough for dog food and doesn't like it. He'll love this picture when he gets older.

Here's how Elizabeth has spent the past few days. She's trying to cut her top teeth. She normally uses her fingers for a pacifier when she's sleepy, but they've been in nonstop for about three days now. I probably would have freaked if our first had done this, wondering if she was messing up her teeth, or if we'd have a high schooler with a finger pacifier. With a fourth it just doesn't matter so much!

See my bottom teeth?

I never could have guessed that one day I'd have a five year old trying to take over my computer. She has several websites she enjoys, and she's very good at navigating her way around them. I wasn't introduced to a computer until I was a 4th grader, and it was about the size of four school desks, had a monitor with a green screen, used giant floppy disks (you couldn't touch the circle part in the middle), and only had one game, Oregon Trail.

She's not crawling yet, but she rolls all over the place and now sleeps on her belly. This has opened up a whole new world of sleep for me, since she snoozes the night through now. Yes!

Speaking of snoozing, I always stay up way too late doing these blog posts. So I'm over and out for now. Or I will be as soon as I hit the pillow.

Have a great weekend!

February 17, 2009

Sleepless nights, rainbows, guns, and more!

So much for weekly posting to the blog. It's been nearly two since my last post, and I'm not sure where the last two weeks have gone. I'd like to say that none of that time was spent at the doctor's office, seeing that we have been 1-2 times a week for the past month. But since I can't say that, I've decided instead to move to Gainesville so we can be closer to our pediatrician. Farewell!

Weeks before our fun at the hospital with Avery, I had made Elizabeth an appointment for a well visit. This was on Tuesday after taking Avery back for a hospital follow up visit the previous Friday. Babies are supposed to go at 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months...so this was her 8 month check up. That's what happens when you miss the 6 month one and realize you need to get back on track. (The up side to it is that we were told to skip 9 and show up for 12...a saved co-pay, yay!) She weighed in at 19.4 and was 27 1/2 inches long. She's now in the 75th percentile for both weight and height, so she's becoming more proportional. (At four months she was 95th for weight, 50th for length.)

Yesterday Avery started saying his ear hurt. So like any good mom, I gave him some Tylenol and ignored it. I was hoping we wouldn't have to make another trip to the doctor. Last night he thanked me for my diligence by not getting to sleep until nearly 11:00, then waking me up at 1:00, then 4:00, at which point I gave in and put him in the bed with us. He spent the next two hours rolling around and kicking us. Did I mention Elizabeth woke up wailing at 5:00? (I got up for 30 minutes with her, thinking if I went ahead and fed her Avery wouldn't stay awake because she was crying in the next room. Ha!) At 6:00 I took him upstairs to spare James more bruises and tried to get him to rest next to me on the couch. At 6:30 I left him still chattering about something in a loud whisper and still rolling around, and went back to my own bed to try to salvage at least a little sleep. At 7:00 he was intermittently playing in the floor in our room and tapping me on the shoulder. At 8:00 I called to make an appointment!! We had playgroup here this morning, so after farming Amelia out to the Davidsons and Shannon out to the Hicks we trucked back to the doctor's office this afternoon. During naptime. The poor guy walked down the hall to the exam room with his head tilted over on his left shoulder. A double ear infection, much worse in the left than the right. Yippee!!

He was feeling pretty good today in spite of his ailment. God did a good thing when He invented Ibuprofen.

Let's see if I can recap some more of the excitement that makes up our life. Oh, here's a great one!! Last Wednesday night after church on the ride home, Amelia says nonchalantly, "Did you know I accepted Jesus into my heart?" So asked the details, and she told me she sang a song. She had just finished choir, so I figured that's what she meant, and I asked her to sing it for me. (She sings everywhere she goes around here, making up songs all the time.) "I can't sing that one exactly," she said, "But I've got another Godly sorry song I can sing." She sang a made up tune telling God she was sorry for the things she had done wrong, she wanted to do things Jesus' way, and she was sorry for her sins, "Like Jaelyn. I want to say I'm sorry like Jaelyn. Leah's sister." Leah is in her class, and Jaelyn went forward the previous Sunday to tell the church about her decision to follow Jesus. I wish I had the song recorded, it was precious, sincere, and funny! I know God loved it. I do think she has a grasp on what following Jesus is about, we're going to keep talking with her about it. I don't want to stand in the way of any of our kids accepting Christ, of course, it just seems like she's so young. We're not even at a point with her yet where we can discuss even a quarter of the sins listed in the Bible. She does have a heart to hear and be interested in the things of God, and I know He's working in her young life.

Here she is on a walk last Sunday with James and Shannon. They hiked up in the woods and were gone nearly two hours.

Here are a few pictures of another cool thing God did this week. Last Wednesday we were getting ready to head out to church and a nasty storm blew through. Here's what was left when it was over.

The kids thought it was great. So did I. Here's one of those times I wish I really knew how to use my camera. I'm sure there's a way to get a clearer/brighter/better shot. I'm forever doomed to the automatic setting!

Thursday we did the usual school/housecleaning/laundry (yes, laundry, the bane of my existence)/playdough/coloring/etc. thing, until dinner Thursday night, which was here. In honor of Valentine's day I made a cake I was wanting to try out. The recipe bears repeating, it was pretty good.

I went all out for James' Valetines Day. This is it.

Friday we went to the Valentine's Banquet at church, which was very nice. My folks were coming up for the weekend to hang out with some friends at their place in Dahlonega, so they kept the kids for us. Since I didn't know how to behave without children, I went ahead and knocked my glass of water over, then grabbed the plate of the man sitting next to me and cut up his steak for him. I also threw some salad on the floor, just for good measure. I think I wiped James' chin at some point (?) :) They showed the movie Fireproof, which we had seen, but this time I got to enjoy it without trying to keep Elizabeth quiet. Our other Valentine's treat was getting to enjoy a Saturday at home as a family, then going out to our new local coffee shop with the Davidsons for some good coffee and a half-hearted game of Spades. (Thanks again, Rebecca, for volunteering to keep all of our children!)

Saturday night Shannon coughed off and on during the night, then got up Sunday at 6 AM saying his throat hurt really bad, and nothing was helping. I wasn't sure whether to keep him home or to go to church, and finally decided to keep him home. By the time James was ready to leave with Amelia and Avery he said he was fine and went to get dressed. It was too late by this point, and I was pretty frustrated with him since I wanted to go myself. He really did seem fine, so whatever it was magically poofed away. I decided to enjoy the morning, so we found a Sunday School lesson online, then bundled up and went for a walk.

Looks pretty sick, doesn't he!

Elizabeth was warm in her baby Michelin Man coveralls, and enjoyed her ride in the stroller.

Check out those blue eyes!

I love playing hooky from church...especially when my preschool choir is singing in the morning service. Heh heh heh.

We walked out to my favorite place at camp, the barn.

Here's a newbie who arrived just two weeks ago. This is Penny, and she's a pony, just the right size for little kids. Isn't she cute?

I did get to ride Sunday afternoon, which I love with all my heart. I think time at the barn makes me a better mom. Definetely a happy one.

We walked back to the house by way of the fishing lake. I love this bridge. Thanks be to our creative and skilled maintenance/handyman, Rick.

Aside from another visit to the doctor, this week has been pretty normal so far. We did have fun with the Colorforms one day this week. I thought Amelia did a pretty good job on this one.

So it looks like mad Oriental people fighting with ski poles on a tightrope, but had you seen the picture she was going from to make it, you'd think it was pretty good too.

Avery has been cracking me up this week. He's just a funny little guy. Yesterday Shannon (for some unknown reason) was crawling around underneath Avery's booster seat. Avery peeked around the tray and said, "Hey under there! Hey under there! Hey underwear! You're underwear. He's underwear!" (pointing to Shannon). He's also started praying classic little kid prayers. A few days ago he wanted to ask the blessing, and said, "God is great, for the Bible, for our prayers, for food, for my tray, for my seat, for our chairs, for cups, for Mommy, for Daddy, for my friends, for trees, amen. I said amen!"

James e-mailed me some photos he took with his phone a week or so ago. Here's what Shannon does when he spends time with Dad.

He plays with toy guns! Oh, wait. No, that's a REAL gun. A Glock Model 27, subcompact, .40 caliber pistol. Don't worry, it's unloaded!

Check out the glee on his face. No Shannon, you can't have one for your birthday.

Okay, so speaking of guns, the man I married is not the man I married. When we got married he was a recreation and leisure services major who liked outdoor gear, camping, hiking; the kinder, gentler version of the outdoor guy he is now. I'm not sure what happened, except that we have lived in the sticks (first Alabama, now rural north Georgia) since about a year after our wedding. When we met he didn't hunt, he didn't own guns, he didn't work on motors, he didn't drive Jeeps over big rocks...ack, he's morphing into Redneck Man! It's a darned good thing I love him just the way he is.

Check THIS out.

Apparently we now own this beast. In addition to other stuff, he's also learning the nuances of horse trading (not horses, though) on websites. This is a Smith and Wesson XVR .460 caliber pistol, which shoots 2200 feet per second. It's a hunting pistol. Elephants, apparently, or whales, or Sasquatches.

Ridiculous, isn't it?

Here's James' theory about firearms.

So, people, we're just making the world a safer place! Or he is, anyway. I'll shoot one if he loads it, hands it to me, and tells me what to do, but I'm pretty much gun ignorant other than that. Learning more is on my list of things to do one day. Yes, he has a gun safe, and yes, it has a lock on it. I'm enough of a worrier to double, triple, quadrouple, and quintrouple (is this a word?) check on the safety of having stuff like this around the house with all the little people that live here. I truly believe that if they grow up knowing about guns they'll always be safer than if they know nothing.

Anyway, I'm over and out. I've got a big day tomorrow, and I need my rest. Wow, that sounded like fun, didn't it? Actually, it's my birthday tomorrow...and turning 35 isn't easy. Well, it is unless you dwell on it. Which I'm not. I will officially be "advanced maternal age" from hence forward, however. Google it if you don't know what that means.


One more painting, courtesy of God.

February 6, 2009

Croup, crap, and God is good!

That sums up our life this week. I've rather tongue-in-cheek started the last few posts by talking about how extremely NOT exciting our weeks have been.

If there's one thing I've learned this week it's that you should never say out loud or even think to yourself, "Wow, there sure are a lot of kids using breathing machines these days. My kids have never had to use one."

(Disclaimer: If you want the whole story in all the detail my mommy self is typing here for future rememberance, read on. If not, skip to the pictures!)

Sunday night our Sunday School class met at our friends' the Knotts house for a Super Bowl (i.e. Commercial Watching) party. The kids dissappeared into the toy abyss in their house, not to be seen for a few hours. I noticed Avery was starting to get a clear runny nose, weird, I thought, since he was fine earlier in the day. By the time we left he was running a fever, and was breathing a little hard, with a barking cough. I thought, "Croup. He's had this before."

We started the summer with both Shannon and Avery having croup, which consisted of a little coughing, running the vaporizer, and five days of oral steroids. I actually remember thinking to myself, "Man, they sure made a big deal out of croup in Anne of Green Gables." (You know, where Anne saves the baby because she knows how to take care of croupy babies. You just need some steam and Ipecac syrup. But it saved the baby's life.) So...I figured we'd see the doctor the next morning and that would be that. Besides, I was all out of Ipecac. Shannon meanwhile had also started with a fever, but no cough.

By bedtime I was worried enough about him to sleep upstairs on the couch so I could be close to him, since I knew I'd be trucking it up the steps off and on all night otherwise. By midnight I had moved him to the other sofa upstairs so I could be really close. He slept off and on (so did I), and about 4 AM was breathing hard enough that I took him outside in the "cool night air," as the book I had recommended. It was cool alright, about 35 degrees. It seemed to work though, and about half an hour later we came back in and I laid on the couch bleary eyed, dozing off and on. Poor guy never got back to sleep after that, and by 6:30 he was having a genuine freak out, gasping and between breaths saying, "I (gasp) can't (gasp) talk!" I then ran him downstairs to the bathroom, turned on the hot shower, and made him breathe in the steam. I got James up to take over while I called the emergency line for our pediatrician. She called back about 7:00 as he was calming down some, and said to head on in and they should be able to work us in. I brought Shannon as a tag along since he was still running a fever, and Elizabeth came too since I didn't know if I'd be back before her next feeding.

After calling and calling (they must have been really busy on a Monday morning- not a good sign for us, I thought), I finally got ahold of someone who told me there was nothing until 11 AM, and to take him to the ER if I thought it was bad enough. By this time he had calmed down again, and was talking just fine though still not breathing super easily. I figured even though I now had two hours to kill, at least I'd already be in Gainesville if I needed to take him to the hospital. That hadn't even crossed my mind at this point.

So...off to Wal-Mart I trek with three kids in tow, to get a new filter for the vaporizer and to waste some time. He seemed okay, and even enjoyed the outing. (This is why I wipe the carts down with sanitizing wipes first. Because of people like me.) Around 10:30 we head out, I strap everyone in, and by the time I got back around to the drivers' seat he was wild eyed, chest heaving, unable to get a good breath. This was scary. So we headed to the doctor's office, window down on his side, with me pretty much hitting his leg and yelling, "Wake up!" since he was threatening to pass out. I pulled in, parked in the tow away zone, and carried him and Elizabeth in, Shannon in tow. I think that's why I'm sore, MAN ARE THEY HEAVY!!

Anyway, by now he's still heaving but more alert, and they check us in, and tell us they'll try to get him seen shortly, just have a seat. I think this is because they were receptionists and not nurses or doctors. So I'm obedient, and sat with him in the waiting room about four minutes before he starts eye rolling again, so I pick him up and see a nurse in the hallway, saying, "I don't want to break in line, but..." She grabs him and whisks him away before I can even think about following. I rounded up the other two, and by the time I get to the room there are three nurses and a doctor working on him. They gave him an epinephrine shot and started a breathing treatment. We used Elizabeth's car seat to prop him up in on the table.

Ignorance can truly be bliss. I didn't realize until all of it was over what trouble he really was in. It took nearly an hour to get his airway functioning again normally, and he was down to 80% oxygen, which my physical therapist friend Alison tells me necessitates constant oxygen supplementation in patients.

They sent us to the ER for more observation, and Avery rode in an ambulance with nice paramedics about 1/2 block to the hospital. They didn't want to walk him over and chance not having what they needed in case it happened again, even though it was so close. So off he went, and I packed up the others and headed to the ER. So what was Shannon's mystery fever all about? Who knows? In light of Avery's issue he never even got seen (and thankfully the fever went away on its own the next day).

We spent about three hours in the ER observation area where they did X-rays, bloodwork, and breathing treatments. Avery was so cooperative and happy, everyone kept commenting on how pleasant he was. Incidently, that was not a foreshadowing of behavior to come. Shannon was a trooper too, in spite of not feeling his best. Elizabeth napped in my arms at some point and smiled at everyone the rest of the time. James and Amelia came to pick up Shannon mid-afternoon.

It was finally decided that they would admit him just in case, so they put in an IV to avoid having to repeatedly give him shots. He cried then through tears told the nurse, "Thank you," when she was done. She said that made her want to cry too. We hung out for awhile, and right about the time the sun went down he started with another breathing (or not breathing) episode, so he got another major dose of IV and breathing treatment steroids.

Not expecting to be gone more than a few hours that morning, I threw on jeans and a shirt, and put a hat on my badly in need of washing hair. By that night I was feeling pretty gritty. My folks had spent the weekend in Dahlonega, and stopped by my house to pick up some things for me and the kids on their way home. I forgot to mention that shampoo would be nice, so I bummed a bottle of baby shampoo off the nurses at the desk and was able to shower before they left. It smells nice, by the way, my hair was amazingly soft, and it didn't even burn getting in my eyes! :)

Elizabeth was pretty tired and cranky too, since she didn't get a good nap, so I got her to bed in the Pack N Play in the bathroom. I figured nurses would be in and out all night and didn't want her to wake up every time. It would have been nice to have her at home, but she is a spoiled baby who refuses to take a bottle of any kind and prefers to nurse only. If only the baby in the bathroom theory had been a good one. She ended up accounting for more sleeplessness on my part than Avery did. He actually slept pretty good, in spite of the fact that he was getting IV steroids every 6 hours and breathing treatments every three. He had an IV at 6:00 AM, and was awake for the day after that.

By the time morning rolled around he was in a full-fledged steriod rage. My sweet boy was gone, replaced by a nasty tyrant who spent the day whining and ordering me around. He was so pathetic, it was obvious he felt terrible. Elizabeth, on the other hand, took two great naps and seemed to really enjoy her time at the hospital. Avery wasn't friendly with the nurses or doctors like he had been the day before either. Between the steroids, being a two year old, and figuring out that they were the people who had needles, he was DONE with them. When I was a two year old I had surgery to fix dislocated hips, which I was born with. (I have great scars!) My mom said for months afterward she couldn't even take me into the pharmacy because I would start screaming when I saw folks in white coats. Today I can walk into a pharmacy without even shuddering, so he should be okay in the future too.

The next night James came to spend the night with him and I went home with the other kids. Avery was much better by this time, and they were weaning him off the medication he had been getting every few hours. He slept pretty well, and so did I! I didn't really feel all that tired until I got home, put the kids to bed, and sat down. Then I nearly slept in the chair I was sitting in because I could barely drag myself to the bed. I talked to James the next morning and he asked me if I was taking the kids to gymnastics. I had completely forgotten it was Wednesday! So I hurried them into clothes and off we went.

James and Avery arrived home about 3:30 that afternoon. He was on steriods for a few more days, and breathing treatments twice a day. So...we now own our very own breathing machine.

Here are some pictures from our adventure:

Day two. I am not a happy camper anymore.

Stop trying to take my picture, woman. I hate this monitor they've attached to my toe too.

And I hate this stupid IV.

Boo hooo hoooo....waaaahhhhh.....(insert whine here).

Elizabeth's Pack N Play took up the entire bathroom. I had to prop it on it's end against the sink to get to the toilet. This has probably been the most used piece of baby equipment we own. It's also seen it's fair share of bathrooms, as that always seems to be the best place to put a baby for the night or a nap. Note the makeshift blanket (towel) hanging over the end. Avery got Elizabeth's blanket for the afternoon in the ER and I didn't really feel like giving it back to her. The germs weren't visible but I knew they were there!!

I love this place! Hospitals are awesome! Being this close to the toilet is great!

Later the same day...

I feel rotten.

That evening a volunteer brought Frosty the dog to our room for a visit. Elizabeth liked him as much as Avery did.

Wednesday afternoon after getting home. No good sleep exists in a hospital. The couch at home isn't bad, though.

Friday we went back for a recheck at the pediatrician and she said he definetely looked and sounded A LOT better. He still has a cough and runny nose, but he can breathe, praise God! God really does deserve our gratitude, He has been so good to our family. Because He constantly blesses us so amazingly, sometimes I feel like I'm just waiting in quiet anticipation of when it's going to be our turn for something to go wrong. That's nice, huh? (I'm sure that's what He thinks sometimes too. Thanks, Corie, for the trust you put in Me.) I am extremely grateful that everything turned out well and I've been praising Him all week. He is so good.

Nonetheless, it really does seem to be "our turn!" Thursday morning James pulled up to the house and parked the Jeep behind my Expedition, came inside for about 10 minutes, and went outside...to find no Jeep. It had rolled backwards down the hill, skimming a large pine tree and using a small tree to stop itself near the lower cabin below our house. He had just bought a basket rack that attaches to the hitch the week before. It is now scrap metal. The rest of the damage isn't super visible to an untrained eye such as mine, but he's the one who put the thing together and he said there's a good bit of damage. In his words, "Had this been a nice vehicle there would have been at least $1000 worth of repair work." Here's the Praise God in that situation- trying to recreate it, James eased it down the hill tapping the brake to see where it would go, and it headed straight for the lower cabin. God turned it, apparently.

And another thing. The pulling problem we've noticed his truck having...well, that's not a simple alignment problem after all. After taking it in this week, the dealership says it's a $750 ball joint in need of replacing problem. Oh well!!

Here are some pictures of the other goofballs in this house.

This Amelia fashion creation wins the prize.

Some kind of prize, anyway. Not sure what, exactly...

My friend Jenny said a day would come when you couldn't just get candid shots of the kids anymore without them making some kind of face or acting anything but natural. Apparently that day has come for Shannon!

"Take my picture too, Mommy!" This was on Saturday. Look how much better he's feeling!

Avery has had another language breakthrough this week. He has spoken very clearly for a two year old for some time, but just overnight it seems like he's more understandable than ever. Just earlier this week he and Shannon were discussing what kind of birthday parties they wanted (in spite of the fact that their birthdays are nearly 8 months away). Avery mentioned several ideas, then said, "I'm gonna have a bad guy gertday!" Just today he was talking about "birthday cakes." I guess gertday is gone. I liked it. Tonight he looked at me and said, "What's your name?" I didn't reply, and he said, "Your name is Corie Himstedt!" It surprised me- how weird to have a two year old say your full name out of the blue, especially since I just thought he knew me as Mommy!

James was gone Saturday and Sunday doing camp fairs in Nashville and at the Mall of Georgia. Rebecca flew down to south Florida and met Daniel to do a couple of recruiting shows there. We're continuing to pray for God to send us campers for the summer. We're still ahead of where we were this time last year, but nothing's easy in this economy.

Since James was gone Sunday I got a babysitter so I could go ride. The weather has been GORGEOUS the past two days, and after the interesting week I've had I needed a barn break. How refreshing it is just to spend a few hours with the horses! I still like to clean stalls, too. I guess that's how you know you really are a horse freak.

This week is shaping up to be pretty uneventful, thank goodness. The highlight of today was a trip to the grocery store, as we were out of everything. Elizabeth got a kick out of riding in the front of the cart. That's the first time I've put her in there minus her car seat. I also took some disinfecting wipes and cleaned pretty much the entire cart, then sat her on and surrounded her with a couple of towels from home. You know, there are mommies who take sick kids to the store. The nerve! She's already going to the doctor tomorrow anyway, a well visit I scheduled weeks ago. I never scheduled a 6 month appointment and needed to get her back on track. We will have officially now been to the doctor's office Tuesday and Thursday before last (because of her mystery illness), Monday and Friday of last week with Avery, and now Tuesday of this week. It's 35 miles one way, so I've about used a tank of gas just on doctor's visits lately! I really don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, I'm grateful to have them, and to have the ability and means to take the kids when needed.

Well, this was one long post. I've been trying to do it since Friday. I leave you with one last picture.

Only a profile shot of Elizabeth gives you true perspective on her cheeks. Squishable, isn't she?