Monday, December 8, 2014


I'm feeling a little guilty here. Not only did I never get around to writing a Thanksgiving post listing all the things we're grateful for this year. But we also didn't do a "Thankful Tree" or "Thankful Jar" or  Thankful-anything, really. And if you asked Jack what he is thankful for this year, which is what just about every project in school and church was about these past few weeks, he only has one answer--L-A-G-O-S (his spelling). So clearly, I'm doing a great job of educating my kids in the whole gratitude department.

Then again, Thanksgiving is so 10 days ago. And in that time, we've endured one 48-hour week of night shifts, a very sick baby, and 3 kids reeling from a little more sugar and a little less sleep than they're used to. So I'm carving out this sliver of time while my girl naps, my two middies catch an episode of "Paw Patrol Be There On the Double" (according to Lia), and while I turn my back on the other half of the groceries that still need unpacked, to dish out some Thanksgiving leftovers. Because some things are just better the second time around!

Morning photo-op with Nonnie!

Joci's pretty proud about graduating to the big kid counter.

Watching Poppie make breakfast.
As many of you know, there was snow over Thanksgiving in the northeast. So we tweaked our travel plans and ended up leaving earlier than we had anticipated. Jon and I had the car packed and 4 kids dressed and buckled by 7:15am. We made a quick stop for breakfast and then it was full throttle to Pennsylvania ... until the first bathroom stop, and then this--

And then Julia throwing up all over herself and the carseat about halfway into our trip. And then her claiming the need for an emergency potty break a half hour later. Oh yes, the joys of traveling with children!

But I'm glad we made the effort and were able to celebrate Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania because scenes like this make it oh, so worth it!

Since we had a whole day free, Marmie and Poppa offered to watch the kids so Jon and I could get some Christmas shopping done.  I felt a *teeny* bit guilty for leaving a potentially ill child with my parents, but she seemed happy and was eating again ... and we REALLY needed to do some shopping without our kids around. So we had a wonderful afternoon picking up our family's monogrammed duffel bags (this is soooo Jon's idea, people!), visiting Starbucks, grabbing hoagies (they're just not the same outside of PA!), and browsing Target without a million voices asking to look at Legos every second.

Meanwhile, back at the Grand's, Julia had fallen asleep on Poppa ... and then woke up and puked all over him. Poor Poppa! My husband likes to make fun of my terribly sensitive sense of smell/weak stomach/gag reflux but my dad is much, much worse. I felt horrible, but he was able to laugh about it when we came to get the kids. And little did I know I would be getting what was coming to me a few days later.

Showing off her two-legged skills!
We had two Thanksgiving dinners this year, one with each of our families. So basically a whole lot of eating with a few rounds of Settlers of Catan in between. And the kids' dream came true and they got to play in the snow with their cousins!

He's building a snowman on the porch so Joci could see.

We came back to Maryland Friday night, enjoying a much "quieter" car ride while the kids slept. And then Saturday it was time to switch gears and crank up the Christmas music!

Singing Christmas songs in the car wash!

No long, drawn-out, Christmas tree hunting stories this year. Jon chose a tree lot and we picked out one of the first trees we saw... which was good because, of course, the boys had to go potty as soon as we got there.
Can we just talk about decorating with four kids right now? Or decorating with four kids between the ages of 16 months and 6 years? It didn't really hit me until we were all finished that this will probably be the toughest year yet. Last year Joci was easy-peasy. And next year everyone will be that much more mature. Right? So I guess we can be thankful we got away with only a few broken ornaments ... and counting.

 It's just a little crazy, because everyone wants to unpack all the ornaments, but only hang the ones they like. Or they all want to hang the same ornament. Or they all want to hang a different ornament at the same spot. Or all stand on the stool at the same time. You get the gist. Basically, just picture boxes, tissue paper, and ornaments EVERYWHERE. And small children intermittently singing Christmas carols and screaming at one another. Dancing together one minute and pushing each other the next. With Lia yelling, "Boogers! I've got BOOGERS!" about every 30 seconds in between.

So of course, it's a bit of a decorating whack job, if you look closely. We tried to stick with keeping the non-breakable ones down low. But then you have older kids who think they have earned the right to climb the ladder... and then fall into the tree. Or a bare spot here and branches that are holding 3 ornaments piled on top of each other over there. I told myself I'd fix it all up when the kids went to bed, but it's been over a week and the Toy Story dinosaur is still sharing a branch with two glass balls and one cookie dough stocking.

But we got the whole house decorated in one fell swoop. And just in time before Jon started working those dreaded nights. I've decided the only difference between Jon working the nights shifts and when he used to travel is that I have to make a wholesome dinner (instead of just getting away with smoothies or PBJ) so he has something to eat during those 12 hour stretches. But other than that, he might as well not even be here. And friends, IT.IS.TOUGH.

'Tis the season of many, many tubbies because they keep the baby occupied!

This photo was taken approximately .38 seconds before I realized she was wielding a sharp knife!
This past week, it did not help that Joci started with a fever on Sunday night. This was quickly followed by a runny nose, and I mean RUNNY, and a horrible cough and diarrhea. At the end of a very long Monday, I was nursing her in my bed, so ready to call it a night myself as soon as I got her to sleep, and she threw up all over me and the bed. Let me tell you, you start to really feel alone in the world when you're trying to decide just what to do with your very sick baby so that you can wash the puke off yourself and your bed. And your rational thinking may involve just throwing a few towels down on the bed and sending a quick text to your husband alerting him that he may want to sleep in the guest room that night before starting on a very unrestful night of sleep yourself.

If Jack is ever missing for an extended period of time, you can usually find him hanging out in the warmest spot in the house--the bathroom heat vent!
Tuesday and Wednesday didn't show much improvement. In addition to having no appetite whatsoever, Joci just slept on me all day long. If I set her down, she just laid there. If I picked her up, she didn't even try to support herself. It was like playing with a rag doll. And when her cough kept getting worse I decided it was time to visit the doctor.

I was worried about the flu or pneumonia and if it would have any effect on her heart. But it turned out to be an ear infection and a small case of bronchitis. And on top of all that, she lost almost a pound during the whole ordeal, which is not good for our already petite little girl. Thankfully, she is on the mend! We had a few more days of more whining than usual, and an excessive amount of clinginess, which made the caring for other children thing that much more challenging, but I'd say she's back to herself today (as evidenced by her running away while I was trying to change her diaper and going right back to her playing in the toilet antics.)

And it's so good to hear her giggle again! This girl is such a tease, and we've been missing her twinkly eyes and tricky antics!

[What's left of] the gingerbread house the kids made with Aunt Kylee.
In addition to healthy kiddos, we're thankful for family. Namely, Aunt Kylee, who came down to entertain the older three one night last week so Jon and I could get out on his first night off (with Joci in tow.) We didn't get much Christmas shopping done, but we were able to each pick up a gift for the other. And we also apparently crashed a "Girls' Night Out" at our favorite local garden center. We had no idea why people kept giving us dirty looks. Or why no one was asking us to enter their drawing or offering us any free samples. It was starting to get uncomfortable. So we bought two ornaments and left. And then I checked my email when we got out in the car and discovered it was "Girls' Night Out." Oopsy.

That one time we attempted to "do the mall" with 4 kids after church. We quickly changed our mind after just one store.

How we typically do our Christmas shopping--Amazon, we love you!
We also got a short visit in with Marmie and Poppa, who stopped by on their journey north from Florida! After hearing about last week's plague, they offered to stay back with the younger kids so Jon and I could attend Jack's futsal game alone. And then they helped me out with dinner and bedtime prep after Jon went in to work. And, more importantly, gave our recovering patient lots of snuggles. Because we all know that's what Joci likes best! And anytime she's willing to let someone else hold her for a little while I am ready to take advantage of it!

My little baristas!
And that was a good start to our week. It's Monday now, which is actually one of the easier days of my week. In fact, we were feeling so good today that I did two grocery stores with three children. And now that Baby Girl is on hour two of her nap (there was a time we all thought this day would never come, remember??), and the two middies are giggling together while they build a submarine out of couch cushions (it's so hard to be angry with them when they're using their imagination!) and dinner is simmering on the stove (so it can be done and packed-up for Jon by 3:30), I'm celebrating with sweatpants and a decaf latte, neither of which are drawing away this bone-chilling cold.

And I think that cleans the plate of our Thanksgiving leftovers. Time to do dishes for the next round!

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