Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am Thankful for... wonderfully devoted husband. He would do anything for me. He would do anything for us. And I love him so very much for everything he does for us.

...the most amazing father to our children. He is the most devoted father and I am so lucky he is mine.

...our parents. For all they do and have done for us.

...our sweet children. They remind me daily of what is truly important in life.

....the health and well-being of our family. I never ever take this for granted. Every day, I thank my lucky stars for this...

....all the doctors and nurses who helped care for our sweet little Callum. Those moments will never be forgotten.

....everyone who graciously helped and prayed for us during Callum's birth and illness. We couldn't have done it without them, and those who were there for us will always have a special place in our heart. We will be forever thankful for all they did for us.

....having a home to live in and grow in. As unhappy as I am living here, I am thankful we are here because that means my husband has a job that continues to support our family and provide us with a pretty nice life.

....plenty of food for our children.

....the ability to be able to stay home and raise our children, and now, teach them. Even though some days I cringe and think about going back to work, I would never change it for a second. I am so thankful to experience all of our children's firsts.

While some times I do not sound or act thankful for the life I do live, that is so not the case. I could not ask for a better life...okay, maybe a life back in Maine, but right now, I have everything I could have dreamed of, and more...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ice Princesses

Since last winter, the big girls have been asking to go ice skating. It didn't happen. I was pregnant. Lilah was too young and our plate was already overflowing.

Reston Town Center, which is pretty close to us, has an outside skating rink in the winter. We were there last week and the girls saw people skating and started talking about skating again. Kevin and I spoke with our parents and we all thought it would be a great Christmas gift to give the girls some skating lessons! 

On Saturday morning we bolted out of the house to make it to the trial day of ice skating lessons. We thought this would give the girls a taste of what ice skating was all about, and if they didn't like it, we weren't wasting any money.

Mairead getting on the ice
"this is cool!"
And just as we thought...they loved it. They were smiling the entire time and having a blast! Lilah would fall and get right back up again. Mairead quickly jumped to the next level and did fantastic! We were so proud of them.
Lilah ready to go

The girls waiting for their teacher
Momma and her boy
The "trial" lesson definitely left them wanting more and since then, they haven't stopped talking about ice skating! So, every Saturday for the month of December, we will be watching our little ice princesses.
Lilah assumes her "position"
The class

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting Shot

We took the crew to get their flu shots at the doctors. Our appointment was at 11am.

We arrived at 1050am.

Got into the exam room at 1140. Because all three girls haven't seen the new docs yet, they wanted them to be seen by the doctors before their flu shot. You can only imagine the four kids inside the exam room waiting for about 20 minutes. They were like lions in a cage getting more and more restless as each minute passed. Every other minute I hear...

"Maaaaaaaaaaaa. When is the doctor coming in"

Finally, she comes in. We go through the girls medical history, or lack there of. We got to Clara's history and I had mentioned in her history that she had questionable viral pneumonia back in February. She was pretty miserable, and I even wrote about it here. The doctor had asked if she had any wheezing with that illness and I said yes (but it was so mild) I hesitated to say 'yes'. The doctor asked what medications she was on with that illness and looked at me like I was crazy when I told her I didn't take her in to the doctors - she pretty much scolded me. May I also add she was a different pediatrician and wasn't the same awesome one we saw with Callum a few weeks back? 

Yeah. I was not impressed. 

She says in a quietly condescending manner "you always bring them in if there is wheezing" - hmmm, our pediatrician in Maine knew about Clara and said we could keep her home as long as her temp wasn't going back up, she was eating and drinking - which she was - and of course, wasn't having difficulty breathing! Not to mention, she was seen in the office several days after the illness for a well child check and said she probably had viral pneumonia, and would take a bit for her chest to clear. I also didn't feel the need to explain myself to a doc I didn't know for something that happened 9 months ago and has had no negative impacts on her whatsoever. I admit, I am not a parent who takes their kids to the doctors for every cough and sniffle, so I am pretty sure me and this doctor will clash, because she appears very conservative, and I am not unless it is warranted.

And as she was examining Mairead, she kept listening to her chest. She asks if she has had a cough. I said, "A morning cough, but nothing more than that" and she continues listening, without discussing to me or Kevin why she kept listening and listening, like she was trying hear something or make a big deal about something? Strange. It was almost like she was trying to make something wrong? Weird. She was weird. 

"I went to get a shot. I did not cry. I got a lollipop" - Mairead
So after all that weirdness, it was time for the lions, I mean the kids to have their shots. Clara went first. She got her lollipop. I laid down with her, tried to make her laugh, she whimpered for a second and it was done! The big girls were next, didn't shed a tear, because they were too busy enjoying their lollipop and then poor little Callum - he cried for a minute, but once I picked him up and nursed him, he closed his eyes and went to sleep. 

At 1230, 1.5 hours AFTER our scheduled appointment time for four flu shots, we were on our way home....ugh. Completely an over-the-top appointment for a flu shot! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


iPhone dump that is...

Here are some photos I have taken with my iPhone (with instagram) in the last week...

Miss Clara sportin' some too-big winter boots
Big girl shoppin' trip with my girlies
Our 'Thankful Tree'
A beautiful fall day at the park with my crew
I just want to kiss HIM.
This boy loves his car!

Hey lady.....wanna ride?
Look who's sitting up!
Tired dawg!
Little Lilah school girl

Friday, November 11, 2011


I try not to think about Callum's rough start much anymore. I look at our sweet little boy who is growing up and perfect. But sometimes, I get knocked back and feel sad about his birth and how I feel robbed that we didn't get that newborn experience like we've had with our girls.

For Clara, I made a special photograph book about her first 6 weeks. Clara's birth was perfect. I don't think it could have been better, really (except if it had been at home). I look at her book, the photographs, the words and it just depicts that perfect September day. An easy birth. An amazing first few hours with our princess. Her sweet body didn't leave my chest for two glorious hours after her birth. Complete Bliss.

I recently finished up Callum's special book and ordered it. It was delivered on Wednesday and I sat down to read it and all the flashbacks of those horrible moments came back to haunt me. I teared up and felt sad. The first few pages of his book weren't about the joys and sweet moments we had with Callum (well we had just a few...), they were about the fears, tears and scares we had with him. About how sick he was, how we couldn't hold him, I couldn't nurse him and all the tubes coming in and out of his body. The photographs of his puffy body hooked up to all sorts of machines. It sucked. But then, I looked up, and there he was playing happily on the floor with his sisters and I instantly felt grateful for everything. He is here with us. Safe and Sound. Happy and Loved. Healthy...

Then again today, a friend of mine posted a slideshow of a home-birth she photographed. The photographs were perfect. The story of a perfect birth and baby, at home, all snuggled up with his mommy and daddy. The baby nursing. Smiles on everyones faces. And then, once again, for the second time in a week, I started to feel robbed of that experience with Callum.

Is it wrong that I wanted the same for Callum as I wanted with his sisters, especially Clara? I know his birth cannot be changed, and what we went through with him has given us a different, more grateful outlook on life, but I still feel robbed. I still wonder if he had been born on a different day or if something different happened if things would have turned out the same way. I can't help it. But all I have to do is look at Callum, watch him smile and squeal with excitement at his sisters, watching him scoot around the floor playing with toys and get excited as I am about to nurse him, and the feelings of sadness go away. I know I will never truly get over this feeling, but as time passes, I just hope I don't feel so sad when I see others have that perfect experience, too. I am so lucky that we have four beautifully healthy children today. 

And that is all that should matter. And I will never ever take that for granted.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Teaching children the concept of being thankful is tough. When you explain what thankful means, they'll tell you they're thankful for things like their room, their friends, their toys, and their family. But, do they really understand what being thankful really means? I'm not sure. 

This week, I wanted to teach the girls about Thanksgiving, the importance of Thanksgiving and most importantly what being thankful means. I scoured the internet and pinterest for some cool ideas on discussing Thanksgiving through projects, etc. 

I came across a blog named KarenHarveyCox who is a childrens writer. She wrote a short story called "The Thankful Coat" - I read it and instantly fell in love. This was perfect and exactly what I was looking for! I knew Mairead would get it and it would be a start for Lilah. 

During breakfast, we started to discuss being kind and thankful. Mairead had mentioned she was thankful to have food to eat. We spoke briefly about how some people do not have enough food to eat, especially around the holidays. Mairead had a great idea to buy some food at the grocery store to give to those people who don't have much, "that way they can be thankful, mama" - that's my girl. I thought. So, that's what we did. Mairead picked out some canned applesauce, canned soups, and a few other things. 

That afternoon we sat down together on our couch and read The Thankful Coat. It was the perfect length for Lilah to be able to sit down and pay attention, but maybe a bit over her head. And it was elementary enough for Mairead to grasp the story line and importance of how being thankful makes you feel. After reading the short story, the girls were very excited to make their very own Thankful Coat. After the story, we went into our schoolroom to make our Thankful Coats. I am getting so impressed with her coloring ability. Just a few short weeks ago, she was scribbling and had no concept of staying within the lines, but now, look at her awesome coloring! I am so proud of her. Mairead wrote her letters by herself and colored her coat, too. Her writing is getting so great, too! She just loves writing and practices all of the time! 

Not only did we read The Thankful Coat, make our own Thankful Coats and discuss what being thankful means and how it makes us feel, we also decided to make our very own thankful tree. While the girls worked on their thankful coats this uncrafty mama (who is quickly being forced to be crafty) started to make their thankful tree. I wrote out the letters and Mairead cut them out. I made the tree out of construction paper on the wall. 

Today, the girls traced their sweet little hands on paper and mamma helped cut them out onto multiple sheets of paper to be our "leaves" for the tree. Each day, they will write what they are thankful for on their leaf to decorate their thankful tree. I can thank Pinterest for this super cute idea! 

Over the next few weeks, we will start to learn more about Thanksgiving as a holiday and what it means to us. I really look forward to teaching the girls about giving back and the true meaning of being thankful. I want the girls to start to understand just how lucky they are to have what they have and when you have as much as they have, it is important to give back to those around us. 



Sunday, November 6, 2011


One of the few positives about moving to Virginia from Maine was the fact that our very good Coast Guard friends was moving to Virginia, too! Unfortunately, Virginia is a pretty big state, and they weren't moving to Northern Virginia, but to Virginia beach. 

For the last month, Laura and I have been trying to plan a weekend that would work for them to come visit us! And we finally got it planned out! The girls were so excited We all were so excited! Both Laura and I have been missing Maine terribly and we were so excited to feel refreshed after spending some time together. 

They arrived on Friday and unfortunately, Callum had his pediatrician appointment, so I had to leave, but Kevin took the kids alongside with our friends to the Air & Space Museum in Dulles. We haven't gone since Mairead was little, and Dylan is in love with space and planes. All the kids had a blast together. When we all met back at home, we ordered Chinese food and enjoyed catching up. The kids were so excited to be together! 

On Saturday, we woke up and had a big breakfast together. Kevin made pancakes. Derek made eggs and everyone was happy. We decided to spend the day at the Great Falls National Park, which is very close to our house. We had never been there, so we thought it would be the perfect place to visit, on the perfect fall day. 

After visiting Great Falls, we went to lunch at a local Irish pub. It was great. After that, we said our goodbyes. Our friends were going to spend another night with friends in DC. It was sad to say goodbye, but it felt oh-so-good to have seen and spent time with them. They were like a little piece of  Maine! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our Big Boy

Callum had his 6 month check up (at almost 7 months) with our new pediatrician. I had been meaning to get him in earlier, but, it just didn't happen, and it doesn't help that I am extremely picky when it comes to doctors. We loved our pediatrician in Maine and I knew it would be next to impossible to find a practice that was small, intimate with awesome doctors. But, there is hope.

I was recommended this practice by a few people. Three female doctors, which I liked and an overall easygoing, laid back feel. Callum was a complete flirt with the entire staff.

The nurse weighed Callum, 16lbs8oz (25%), up from 12lbs in July! Whoa, boy! He measured 25'' (10%). The pediatrician did a double take with his length, and then asked how tall Kevin was - 5'7'', I replied. Callum is definitely not going to be a tall boy! Our dads are both about 5'7'', and my brother is about the same, so, Callum doesn't have much of a chance to be tall!

Our pediatrician was very interested in Callum's birth story. She looked at his thick chart and said "I'll read this later, I am very interested". I told her the very short version and she looked at Callum with amazement in her eyes and said, it looks like you have one very lucky little boy who looks to be doing absolutely perfectly! And she was right, Callum couldn't be doing any better. He is healthy, happy and developing. And we can't ask for any more than that.

She asked if he was rolling over, and I chuckled. Well, yeah. Kind of. I told her he doesn't roll over very much, but she said as long as he has rolled over both ways, that was all that mattered, and he has, on his own terms, when is big sisters aren't doing it for him. I will be honest, I was a little worried that he doesn't barrel roll all over the place like his sisters did at this age, but she said not to worry. She was impressed with how well he was sitting up, which is a milestone he has been working on diligently for the last week. He is able to sit up for up to a few minutes if he is interested enough in a toy.

The next topic, sleep. Amazingly, he has been swing free for exactly one week. He must have overheard Kevin and I discussing how the hell we were going to get him into his cribs for naps. He was sleeping 2-3 hours in his swing for naps, and nap time is well, very much needed in this house! Then, he started to get really restless for naps in his swing, and we tried him in his crib and he did awesome. And continued to do so. So, he sleeps 100% in his crib and doing great. The pediatrician didn't even bat an eyelash when I told her we continue to co-sleep part-time. He wakes up between 2-5am, and comes into our bed.

She asked about solid food, and told her we just started. She asked what he was eating and told her table food. I told her in the last week he's had haddock, mashed potatoes, carrots, chicken & veggie soup and countless other items, and was doing fabulously. Once again, no weird looks or telling me what he "should" be doing.

I then brought up his NICU follow up study that he qualified for in Maine. Any baby born before 30 weeks or on nitric oxide qualified for this study. She thought he should be seen, even though she didn't have any concerns with his development. So, this week, I am going to call INOVA Fairfax to find out more information on how to get him seen. I am very interested to do this, just to give another data point on how babies with pulmonary hypertension and nitric oxide are doing. I have read a lot of information in the last 7 months regarding outcomes on babies with pulmonary hypertension and it really is such a huge spectrum, with many babies suffering long term affects from their course.

All in all, a very successful well-child check with our new pediatrician. Oh and our poor baby got three shots! His leg was sore that evening, but overall, did just fine!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This year the girls flip flopped on what they wanted to be for Halloween. For a while, they wanted to be cowgirls, but then they changed their minds to be ghosts. Once again, I told Lilah she didn't have to be the same as Mairead, that she could be whatever she wanted, but when Lilah saw the costume, she had to be a ghost, too. As for Clara, I originally was going to have her be a bumble bee, but when both Mairead and Lilah wanted to be the same, I was afraid she would have a fit, so, a ghost she would be, too!

At first, I had ordered the girls costumes on Etsy, but after a few issues with the seller, I ended up on my own less than one week until Halloween. This not-so-crafty mom decided to make her own halloween costumes. I set off to JoAnn fabric with the big girls in tow, in a store that I felt so very out of place in.

I bought some tulle, elastic, felt and long sleeve white shirts and headed home for my quest to make three little ghost costumes. Project save Halloween.

It took me a few hours to get all three costumes finished. The first tutu took the longest, just trying to figure out how it was going to work, but by the third tutu, it only took me about 20 minutes. Once I was all done, I was so proud of myself, and I had three very excited little girls! As frustrated as I was having to make them, it was the best thing I did! Looking back, the costumes were super easy to make :)

On Halloween, the girls were so excited. They started the day off in their costumes. We went grocery shopping, and all three girls were in their costumes. They attracted so much attention and would run up to people and say "BOO!"

That evening our neighborhood had a little parade and a pizza party afterwards. We were with some of our new friends we have met here, and had fun. All together there were 7 girls, 7 and under and one, cute little boy, Callum. The adults had a few adult beverages before trick or treating and the kids had loads of candy.

The big girls were very into it this year. They sprinted from house to house as if it were a race. It took a few houses for Clara to catch on, but once she realized people were filling baskets up with candy she was hooked! She'd go up to the house, hold out her basket, and wait until they dropped candy in there. Then, she'd continue to stare at them as if she was saying "Ummmm, more, please!"

When we were done trick or treating, we headed back to our house. Kevin started a fire in our fire pit in the driveway and we handed out candy. The kids ran around and had a blast while the adults relaxed, and enjoyed a few treats ourselves!