Monday, June 27, 2011

Hey Mom, guess what?

"Hey Mom, guess what?"  This question has been asked often in our house.  It has taken the form of Dawson telling me a long, drawn out story about Star Wars or a video game he has been playing.  It has been to tell me that Aubrey has emptied all the baby wipes out of the container and spread them all around the living room while I was downstairs putting a load of laundry in.  However, today this question took the form of Emma with her underwear around her ankles. 

I was changing Aubrey's diaper and as I look up to see Emma there she is in the hallway with her princess underwear around her feet.  She says to me, with all her Emma enthusiasm, "Hey Mom, guess what?  You go potty here and poopy here! (she proceeds to show me before I can stop her)  Isn't that awesome?  I can't believe that I figured it out!" 

What am I supposed to say in these moments?  I can't even tell you how many times she has stunned me into silence.  I decide to go for the "don't make it a big deal".  So I smile and say, "Yep, now can you pull up your pants?"  She does and wonders off to her room.  As she is walking away Dawson turns to me and says, "I did NOT want to see that!"  I have to laugh now as I say to him, "Me neither Dawson but Emma just likes to tell us when she learns something new."  To which he replies, "Well, I am tired of seeing her stinky booty! (long pause)  Hey Mom, guess what?"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekend Fun

We had a fun and busy weekend.  I started the weekend off with a bang at the Rheumatologist office.  I had a follow up appointment with my doctor to see how the methotrexate was helping.  Thankfully it has helped me a great deal without very many side effects.  I was thankful to have Dan go with me to my appointment.  He was able to meet Dr Doud for the first time and ask her some questions that he had.  We talked about my fatigue and she felt that with as tired as I have been feeling it was more of a sign that I was still in a flare then a side effect of the methotrexate.  She prescribed me a medication called Plaquenil that I will take twice a day.  She wanted to try this to see if it will help with my fatigue.  This is a relatively safe drug (in the scheme of things it is nothing compared to the other meds I am on) and she would prefer to try this in addition to the methotrexate then to have to increase my methotrexate dosage.  Dan and I had laughed on our way home how easily I took the new medication news.  I mean really, what's one more?

Friday afternoon the kids and I loaded up the van and left for Ankeny to visit my brother and sister in law.  My brother was having a surprise graduation party on Saturday.  After lots of hard work he is graduating from college.  When we got to town we stopped by Emily's salon and she cut Emma's hair.  I had tried to fix Emma's hair after the last hair cutting incident but it was starting to look like a mullet.  Emily was able to even it out and make it look pretty cute.  She also had a talk with Emma about how Auntie would be more then happy to cut her hair anytime she wanted.  She didn't need to take matters into her own hands:)  After the kids went to bed that night I got to enjoy some Emily time while Bryan "raided".  I had so much fun looking at fabric, quilting magazines and eating our favorite snack (popcorn with m&m's and Pepsi).  I wish that we didn't live so far away from each other.  Although, it does make me cherish the time we do have together all the more. 

Saturday morning came and it was raining.  We ended up having to spill the beans to Bryan about the party.  We decorated the house and got all the food ready.  We had walking tacos for everyone which was new to me.  Basically you take a small bag of Doritos and crunch it up.  Then in the bag you add the taco meat, lettuce, sour cream and salsa.  Mix it together with your fork and...there you have it, a walking taco.  Dawson had convinced some of the guys at the party to join in a game of baseball.  He had a blast playing baseball with Uncle Bryan and all of his buddies.  That night at bed time Dawson thanked God for having such a fun time playing baseball with the guys.  It was sweet.  As a graduation present Emily had Dan make a Huskers bags set.  The kids actually helped Dan build and paint it.  We pulled them out at the graduation party and had fun trying it out.  FYI, Dawson is way better at bags then I am:)

Aubrey watching everyone playing games.

Bryan and Dad in the middle of a heated game.

Emma giving Papa a high-five

Emma painting.  Do you notice that Dan had her paint the inside:)

She was so proud of her work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hard conversations

I had a hard conversation the other day with Dawson and it has taken me a few days to really process it.  I was in my bathroom getting ready for the day and Dawson had come in to chat with me.  I was all set to take my morning pills and had them laying out on the counter.  Dawson, always the one to ask why, wanted me to tell him about each pill and why I had to take it.  Now, I have a firm belief that if appropriate I will always do my best to answer whatever questions my kiddos want to ask me.  I started laying out all the pills that I take in one day (which if you are wondering it is 11 pills and 17 pills every Monday).  I explained about the ones that I take for my Crohn's disease.  How I often have a hurt tummy and these help me.  I explained that I also had to go in every two months to get a special medicine that they can only give me at the doctor office.  He wanted to know all about what an iv was and why it took so long for me to take the medicine.  I showed him the vitamins that I have to take because I don't absorb all the nutrients from the food that I eat.  Then I showed him my Lupus pills.  I hadn't really sat down and talked to the kids about my Lupus diagnosis yet.  Dawson knew that I was hurting a lot in my joints and that I am pretty tired most of the time but I have never really talked to him about what Lupus was.  I think that it was hard to explain it to him not because he didn't understand what I was saying but that I actually had to say it out loud.  It meant that it was really real.  When he looked at me with his big blue eyes and asked me when my Lupus was going to get better I almost started to cry.  I had to explain that it wasn't like the flu that would go away after a few days.  I had to say to my son that I would always have Lupus and that I would always have Crohn's disease.  I would not get "better".  At this moment I see Dawson's personality shine though.  I can see the sorrow in his eyes.  He is looking at me and I can see that he hurts for me.  I think that truth was just as hard for Dawson to hear as it was for me to say.  We finally get to the last pill and when he asks what it is I have to chuckle.  It is my birth control pill.  So in true form I answer as honestly as I can:)  I tell him that pill keeps mommy from having any more babies.  Again, he looks at me with this face that is so sad.  He says to me, "Mommy why don't you want to have anymore babies?  I love having Aubrey with us."  Once again I almost begin to cry.  My sweet boy would love to be the big brother to as many babies as we would be able to give him.  I tell him that the medicine that I take for my Lupus could make a baby very sick so I am not supposed to have anymore babies.  He looks at me for a minute.  You can see the wheels turning and then he suddenly changes the subject and launches into some Star Wars story.  He eventually leaves and as I am finishing straightening my hair I think about all the things that I didn't tell him.  The things that I am trying to work through but are keeping me up at night when Dan is away working.  I am afraid.  I am afraid that I have genetically passed on these auto immune disorders to my children.  It would be absolutely devastating to me if any of the kids were to ever be diagnosed.  I now have two, two auto immune disorders.  When I am being honest with myself...if I would have had two diseases before Dan and I decided to have children...I don't know that I would have had kids.  As I was unloading this burden to dear friend Emily she shared a powerful truth with me that I have been doing my best to remember.  She said, "Well, that is probably why this happened now instead of sooner.  God had a plan."  It is true!  He does have a plan.  I have no idea what that plan is but I know that He has one for me AND He has one for each of my children.  I can't imagine what my life would be like with out Dawson, Emma and Aubrey.  They are such a beautiful gift and I am so grateful that God gave them to me. 

I am doing my best to work through our new reality.  I think that it has been an adjustment not only for myself but also for Dan and the kids.  I am sure that as time goes by we will have many more hard conversations related to my illnesses.  I posted this great quote from CS Lewis awhile back in my bathroom.  It is a great reminder to me.

"We must stop regarding the unexpected or unpleasant things as interruptions of real life.  The truth is that interruptions ARE real life."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Father's Day Dinner

Today we are celebrating Father's Day.  We are doing it a day early because Dan might get called out tomorrow and we know for sure that he will be here this evening.  So in true railroad lifestyle we go with the flow and celebrate when we can.  I planned a yummy "Dan dinner" tonight.  Making him a meal I know he will love is one of my favorite things to do.  This is what is on the menu tonight:

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

2lbs shrimp (peeled and devein)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400*.  Place shrimp on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them in one layer.  Roast for 8-10 minutes until just pink and firm and cooked through.  Set aside to cool.  Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce.

Ribeye Steaks

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Honey Glazed Carrots

2 cups warm water(110 degrees F)
2/3 white sugar
1 1/2 TB active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5-6 cups all purpose flour

To make dough: In a large bowl, mix the sugar and yeast in warm water.  Allow yeast to proof until foamy (about 10 minutes).  Mix in salt and oil.  Mix in flour, one cup at a time until a soft dough has formed.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Place in a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).  On a lightly floured surface, punch down dough and knead for 2-3 minutes.  Divide dough into balls and place into a greased 9x13 pan or divide dough in half and braid each half  of the dough and let rise for 10 minutes.  Bake in a 350* oven for 15-20 minutes for rolls about 30-40 minutes for the braided bread (time depends on the oven, how big the rolls/braids are etc.) Once the bread comes out brush it with butter.  I usually just grab a stick, open one end and rub it over the hot bread.

Cinnamon Honey Butter

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
3/4-1 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1/4 cup honey

Whip until smooth and store in refrigerator.

Strawberry Peach Pie

1 pound fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
1 pound strawberries - sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Pie crust for a 9 inch pie pan.  Enough for bottom and top

Preheat oven to 350*.  In a large saucepan, mix the peaches, lemon juice, and orange juice. Add 1/2 cup butter, and cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted. In a mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cornstarch; mix into peach mixture. Remove from heat and pour into your pie pan lined with your favorite pie crust.  Top with the remaining pie crust and cut slits in the top.  Sprinkle top with sugar and bake for 40-50 minutes.  If edges begin to get too dark cover edges of the crust with foil. 

That is what we are feasting on tonight.  I also got some Fat Tire beer to enjoy with our steaks.  Between our yummy dinner, the Cubs playing this afternoon and the cute cards that the kids made I think that Dan will have a great evening. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

He is a Jedi

Last week Dawson had Jedi Training camp at the Omaha Children's Museum.  It was a week long camp and was his birthday gift from Dan and I.  He was so excited to go that he was counting down the days.  He wore a Star Wars shirt everyday to camp.  Now I know what you are thinking, he had that many Star Wars shirts?  Really that is just the beginning.  Dawson has enough Star Wars shirts that he could wear one every day for two weeks.  He has General Grievous shoes and of course Star Wars underwear and pj's.  Here are some pictures of Dawson on his last day of camp.  I got to come and see what they had done all week.

This is a moon station for Naboo that they built from newspaper and boxes.

Darth Vader came to visit.

 Here is Dawson by the moon station.

 Here is Dawson standing next to Anakin Skywalker at the Alpha Station.

The kids built Star Wars ships from Legos, learned about the planets, built their own battle droid, played stump Jedi Master Jason (you know, ask him questions like what was the name of the creature that tried to eat R2D2 and then spit him back out) and learned how to do Jedi fighting moves.  After the last day Dawson wanted to go out to lunch to celebrate him finally becoming a Jedi.  We had to call him Jedi Dawson the whole day.  He called Emma a Padawan.  She had not completed her training yet:)

Here is Dawson using the force to have the server bring him more to drink.

It was a fun week for our buddy.  It was also good for him to go and do something that he had never done before.  He often is too nervous to try new things (I have no idea where he gets that from).  Also, if you were wondering, it was a swamp slug that tried to eat R2D2 and then spit him out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baking to fight cancer!

I am doing my favorite thing this afternoon, baking!  This Saturday is finally the day for Relay for Life.  Our Pray for Gray team joined late in the game but we reached our goal of raising $1000!  At the Relay we will be selling baked goods, bracelets and hosting bingo from 11pm to midnight.  Everything that we sell goes towards our group total.  So, I have been given a good excuse to make a mess in the kitchen!  I am baking to fight cancer.  I am making cinnamon rolls, cinnamon peach bread and chocolate banana bread.  I thought that I might share my favorite cinnamon roll recipe.  It is a great recipe that has never failed me.  I like it because it is easy on my arthritis as the bread maker does all the dough work for me.  Dan likes these cinnamon rolls with just a bit of butter on top while Dawson loves a vanilla frosting glaze over the top.  Either way these are pretty yummy.

Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 cup warm milk ( about 110 degrees F)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

  • 4 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

    1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
    2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
    3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
    5. While rolls are still hot brush the tops of the rolls with butter. (basically I just take a stick of butter and rub it over the hot rolls)
    6. Enjoy!
    FYI ~ I have made these through the cutting the dough and placing it in the pan stage and then instead of letting them rise and baking them I just covered them with plastic/foil and put them in the freezer for another day.  The night before I want the rolls I just pull them out of the freezer and let them thaw/rise overnight.  In the morning I just bake like normal.

    This is my first year participating in Relay for Life.  I am so excited to be apart of something that truly does make a difference in people's lives.  I was thinking about, over the years, the people that I knew who fought this battle called cancer.  I can think of 8 off the top of my head.  This year will be an emotional one for Team Pray for Gray as we just recently loss our friend Karl.  I pray that this will be a time of healing and a celebration of life for not only our team but for all the teams that are at the relay. 

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    She cut my hair!

    We have been having an easy day today.  Dan had to go to North Platte and so it is just me and the kiddos for a couple of days.  We spent most of the week on the go and I needed to have a rest day.  I was feeling pretty tired.  We hung out around the house all day, playing wii, watching movies and playing in the sprinkler.  Nothing overly exciting.  I was looking at some sewing patterns on the computer tonight when Emma walks up to me and snips the bottom of my hair with a pair of scissors!!  I am not going to lie...I yelled, "What in the world are you doing?!?  Get you booty in time out right now!"  Thankfully she only got the very end of my hair.  I don't think that you will be able to tell that someone randomly cut it.  I am pretty sure that I would have completely lost it if she had got a big chunk. 

    After time out Emma apologized.  I asked her why in the world did she cut my hair?  She said to me, with her big blue eyes (you know those eyes) all teary from getting busted, "I just wanted to have some fun."  So there you have it people.  She was just looking for some fun.  Apparently I did not get her enough opportunities to have fun today and she felt the need to take matters into her own hands.

    Emma is now in bed.  I told her that her bad choice deserved something more then just a time out and going to bed before Dawson is the worst thing ever to Emma. You know, I will be shocked if Emma doesn't grow up to go to cosmetology school and have her own salon like her Auntie Emily.  Seriously, how many times has Emma cut her own hair and now mine?  Someone asked me one time why don't I just keep the scissors up out of her reach.  Well let me tell you friends, a little thing like putting something up on a shelf will not deter my little girl.  If it is up to high she will get a chair.  If the chair won't reach it then she will get her stool and stack it on the chair.  If it still won't reach she will then find a toy box and stack it on top of the stool to finally reach what she was looking for.  Now, she will have done this quietly all while I am going to the bathroom or while I have gone to get the mail or down to start a load of laundry.  She is clever people.  There is nothing that she can't do when she puts her mind to it. 

    On that note, I will be heading off to plan out our day tomorrow.  Something more exciting and tiring then what we did today!

    Summer vacation is here

    Summer vacation is here and to start it off we watched one of our favorite shows, Phineas and Ferb.  What a great way to kick off our summer break by watching two boys build a roller coaster in their backyard!  Now this week we did not build a rocket or give a monkey a shower but the kids did drive each other insane if they weren't kept busy.  I think that we have reached that stage with the kids that they really get on each others nerves.  I think that Emma and Dawson were kept so busy with school that they forgot how to just hang out at home.  So, we have had a little adjusting time.  I tried to keep them busy which cut down on the bickering.

    We joined a private pool this year and it opened last weekend.  We have gone three times this week and would have gone more if it were up to Emma.  Basically she wakes up and puts on her swimming suit and it ready to go to the pool.  It is a long wait, poor girl, from 6:30 am when she wakes up to 12 pm when the pool opens.  Aubrey has also had a blast at the pool.  We got her a baby floater so that I can keep her with me in the big pool and still keep an eye on Dawson and Emma.  The kids are jumping off the diving board and having a great time.

    Dawson had his first tball game this week.  He had been talking about it for a week.  I was so thankful that Dan was able to make it to the first one.  It was really important to Dawson that Dan be able to come and it worked out perfect.  Dan was there and he even helped a bit at the game.  He got called to work at the very end of the game.  Here are a few pictures of our buddy having a blast.

    Here is Dawson so excited to leave for his first tball game.

    Dawson played first base for an inning.  Dan was helping as the first base coach.  Mostly that meant he had to show the kids where second base was:)

    Dawson getting ready to bat.

    Aubrey relaxing and watching the game.  She had fun clapping her hands and cheering for brother.

    We also went to the zoo this week.  It is such a blessing to have the Omaha Zoo so close.  We packed up a lunch and spent the afternoon walking around.  This year they have added more tables to eat at, more food at the snack bars and they added two playground sets by the sea lions.  The kids had a blast taking some time to rest from walking to play on the playgrounds.  What a great addition!  We went into the desert dome first and after walking around we went down below and saw all the night creatures.  We had to walk quickly past the bats because Emma was really scared of them.  Then when we walked to the swamp area Dawson began telling us all about the "crocs".  Apparently someone has been watching Swamp People with Dad:)  We also had to stop and feed all the fish.  The koi pond is the place that we have to go to every time we come to the zoo.  Aubrey ended up falling asleep towards the end.  Everyone was pretty worn out from walking all around the zoo.  Mommy included.

    Dawson in the Desert Dome.

    The kids feeding the fish.

    The koi fish fighting for a snack.

    Aubrey kicking back in her stroller.

    We finished up the week with our Mops and Pops bbq at our friends farm.  It was great to get together with my Mops friends and their families.  The kiddos had so much fun running all around the farm and playing with their friends.  We had a great week and I was able to pretty much keep up with the kids.  Although, I did learn that I need to make sure I have got a good sunscreen on.  I can't wait for next week!  Dawson has Jedi camp all next week, we have a couple of play dates at the park, tball practice and a game and then I have ladies bible study at our house on Friday morning.  Gotta keep them too busy to get in trouble:)