Friday, April 27, 2012

Leah's cast update

It has been almost 3 weeks since little Leah has been in her cast, or "CastTina", as we loving refer to this 7th member of our family- and it definitely deserves its own name in this house, as it is large and in charge.  You would most certainly agree that it deserved its own name after the first time you were "casted" or stepped on by CastTina herself.  She must weigh at least half as much as Leah does and you can hear her coming from a room away as she pounds away at the tile floor, or knocks herself along the wall as she climbs her way up the stairs with her host body.

The first week of adjusting to the cast was hard for Leah- hard for all of us really.

Within the first week, she went through all the stages of a newborn/toddler.  She went through the stage of sitting and playing with the toys in front of her.

Lexi has been the best twin sister ever- although she doesn't have a broken leg, she will do most everything with Leah and all of the things Leah can't do, Lexi will do for her.  If Leah needs something, Lexi will very sweetly go and fetch her whatever she needs with a smile on her face and never complains about it.  I will always remember this period of time as Lexi's first opportunity of true service.  What a sweetheart she's been.  I've never seen a more happy giver.  I remember thinking of all the things we'd be giving up for 4 weeks or all the work it would be adding with Leah's broken leg and how ashamed I felt for thinking those things every time Lexi would bring Leah something to make her happy, or clean up a mess Leah had made that she couldn't clean up herself.  Lexi has been so happy to be able to help her sister.  It has been so touching to see.

As expected, Leah has been getting lots of attention for breaking her leg.  We get lots of comments in public about her leg and people wondering what happened.  Poor Lexi already felt left out from day one.  When people would ask Leah what happened, Lexi, not to be outdone, would pipe up and point out owies on her legs and feet that hurt. but is now pointing out scratches and Bandaids on her legs and is going as far as saying, with a sad voice, "I broke my leg."

On the day after she got her cast on, a little friend from nursery brought her over a sweet little card and some treats.  It was so cute and she was very excited (not that you can tell from the above picture).  

Next came the crawling stage.  Lexi (and Mitch) were more than happy to join in Leah in learning this stage over again.  Leah was quite excited to learn how to do this with a cast on.  She learned how to do this on day 2 of her cast, but by then, she had had a broken leg for 4 days and was aching to be mobile on her own again.  She was ready to start moving again!

She picked up crawling up the stairs pretty easily too, which was helpful for me. 

While she took to crawling quickly, she was not excited or anxious to walk or stand for the first week.  At. All.  And broken leg or not, she is still Leah, through and through, so there was still plenty of whining and classic Leah behavior.  Leah loves to be carried around regardless if her bones are broken or not so she milked her broken tibia for all it was worth.  For the first 2 weeks I heard, "I have a broken leg!" said in the whiniest, most pitiful voice at least 6 or 7 times a day. That was her way of telling me she wanted to be held or that she couldn't go down the stairs by herself, even though she was completely capable of going down on her stomach at that point.  One day during the first week, I was cooking dinner and she crawled over to me in the kitchen, crying, and cried/whined, "Mom! (sniff, sniff), "I broke my leg!"  It was very heart breaking.  I felt very bad for her.  I know she was very frustrated because she was still in pain at that point and frustrated that she couldn't do the things she was used to doing (running around, jumping, etc).  Poor baby.

But the doctor told us that she could start walking as soon as she felt up to it and I knew she would be much happier when she was fully mobile.  But she was not wanting to even try.  The above picture of her standing was done only with a bribe. 

She would only walk for the first week by holding on to our hands, like she is here with Ben, and only for one or two steps, and only with her special walking shoe (at her request) and only for a treat.

She hated walking and couldn't wait to be done.  I thought we may go the entire 4 weeks without her walking on her own.

Ahh!  So glad to be done walking and safe in Dad's arms!

It's been kind of nice having a snugglier Leah.  She has been more demanding in some ways, but less demanding in other ways.  Kind of hard to explain, but with not being able to do as much, and knowing that she can't do as much, she is more content to do less and it's been so nice to just sit and snuggle this girl.

The next toddler stage we went through was learning to walk behind something.  She finally got brave enough and started walking behind her doll stroller.  

We were so excited!  It was like having a one year old in the house again! :)

We got really excited when she randomly started walking alone, without the help of anyone or anything.  And bless her heart for doing it because the cast keeps her knee constantly bent at an awkward angle.  We shouldn't have been surprised that she did it- you can't keep a two year old down too long.

 She and CastTina have also played in down town Seattle

They crawled over to the fountain at the Seattle Center and watched a water show.

 CastTina doesn't hold her back from playing on toys or doing fun activities anymore.

Standing is no longer a problem- we can hardly get her to sit still anymore.

 And walking is certainly not an issue anymore- she and CastTina are now running buddies.  I am glad the constant cries of the first two weeks of "I can't walk, I can't walk!" are gone.  She can walk and can walk very, very well.

Look at her go!

Poor, poor CastTina- we have just over a week to go with her, but we're not sure she's going to last.  Leah doesn't like to wear the shoe they gave us because it's harder to walk in.  But we are literally shredding this cast.  We find bits and pieces of purple cast all over the house on a daily basis.

When she first got the cast on, it completely covered her toes and now her toes are sticking out.

And the stuffing on the inside is coming apart more and more each day.  It's pretty gross.

If you can see from this picture, Leah's cast in the beginning was in great shape and so clean and crisp and it completely covered her toes (and such a nice, dark purple color too!)  I wonder what the doctor will have to say when we go get the cast off... they may not even have much to take off.  At that point, they might just finish unraveling what's left...

 Way to go, Leah and CastTina!  You've come a long way in (almost) 3 weeks!

My two favorite memories of the past 2 weeks of Leah and her cast:

1: Once she was all pain free and walking and had adjusted to the cast, we expected Leah to resume all her normal responsibilities.  One day, I asked her to put a toy away and she turned to me and said, quite matter-of-factly, "I can't.  I broke my leg."  It was quite funny.  She was trying to milk it for all it was worth.  It was definitely worth a shot.  Sweet side note: Lexi jumped up and offered to put the toy away for her.  End of story update: Leah had to put it away herself.

2: One night at dinner we were all eating and Ben and I were up from the table doing something and Mitch nonchalantly announced, "Broken Leg is done." He announced it with no humor, as if she had always been called Broken Leg.  It was a classic Mitchell one liner and we are still getting a good laugh out of it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

28 years

On Tuesday I turned 28.  With only 2 years until I hit thirty, I'm getting a little bit more... sad.  Twenty sounds so youthful and vibrant.  The old jokes don't really kick in until forty it seems, but I'm still enjoying my twenties.  It's the decade that all of my babies have been born in and really the fountain of youth, right? :)  And I'm not sure I can ever out grow the standing joke of me being young.  Ever.  Ben's family jokes that they have raised me- (and rightfully so.)  They practically did. :) And the group of women friends in my ward that I hang out with are always teasing me about how young I am compared to them every year when we get together for my birthday.  Every year.  So maybe I should be a little more anxious for thirty to come so I can gain a little more.... what's the word? Equality among my peers?  But does that come with age?  Not really because we all keep aging.  I'll become thirty someday, but everyone else will keep aging too.  I was a young pup to get married and have kids (if you didn't know that, SPOILER alert!), and when some people find that out, they seem to treat me differently.  I've even had some people not want to be friends due to a few years age gap, or after finding out how young I was when I got married or what grade I was in when they were married.  I know that most people appreciate my good sense of humor and are joking about it with me, but having felt categorized as a young pup by a few too many people, I have always tried to just look at age as a number and leave it as that. Friends can be friends no matter what the age gap, and I appreciate all my friends, no matter what grade I was in when you got married! :) (he he).

My dear sweet kids surprised me with breakfast in bed on Tuesday morning.  That was the absolute best present I could receive.  Seriously.  I love thoughtful gifts more than anything.  Chloe made everything- the oatmeal, 2 pieces of toast, the apple (not pictured),  the sign and the orange juice and hand picked the flower in the front yard.  She had everyone help carry it upstairs to my room and the babies and Mitchell helped me eat it.

Chloe wrote me a "special" poem at school just for my birthday.  It was extremely silly, but I got a kick out of it.  It reads: "Day, play, may, mom, hay. Love.
Mother you're better then my brother. Mother you're my Brother.  I love you better than my brother."

For a special treat, the twins and I got to go with Mitchell on a little field trip with his preschool to an ice cream shop owned by a family friend in our ward.  

It's a super cool place called Sub Zero and they make ice cream using liquid Nitrogen.  The lady in our ward's dad gave the kids (and the parents) and a quick science demonstration using a balloon and some liquid nitrogen on how everything works.

It was really cools and the kids were quite entertained as well.

Pushing the balloon down into a bowl filled with liquid nitrogen. 

Afterwards, the kids got to gather round and watch the cream get turned into ice cream.  That was the best part!

The ice cream ingredients went in a metal bowl and then with a push of a button, the liquid nitrogen shoots out and freezes the ingredients while my friend Linda stirs vigorously.  Within seconds you have ice cream!

Pretty cool!

And pretty tasty, too.  Who knew that science was that yummy??

The birthday girl got to enjoy some (free) ice cream for lunch with her babies!  Not too shabby!

When Ben got home from work, he was full of surprises!  He had all sorts of gifts he had been stashing away- all very thoughtful and sweet.  This chocolate ice cream cake was one of them- yummy!  

We all wanted to eat some, but we were just headed out the door for a birthday dinner celebration at Red Robin, so we decided to wait...

The kids opted for a kiss for Mom instead.  I'll take 4 of those any day!  Happy Birthday to me!

Dinner was great (the kids were well behaved- that's a birthday treat indeed!) and while I picked up our Grandma Cynde from the airport (she had been vacationing for 2.5 weeks), Ben came home and put the kids to bed and as another gift to me, cleaned the house and had it sparkling as I walked in the door later that evening.  

Did I marry a keeper or what?  He sure knows how to do birthdays right.  A clean house is the BEST birthday gift EVER for me. 

 We kept the celebrating going by cutting into this bad boy before going to bed.  This is the BEFORE shot- before the damage was done.  The kids got some the next night.  That's the joy of having kids who go to bed early! :)  Try it, it's delightful! (I mean having kids who go to bed early!  The cake was fantastic too!)

Last night I celebrated with 14 wonderful friends for a dessert night out on the town.  Two days worth of celebrating was so much fun.  Thanks to all who called, texted, facebooked (that is now a word), sent cards, gifts, etc.  It was a fabulous day!  I have awesome friends, wonderful family, and although I wish I could say I have great health, I am struggling with that right now- chronic migraine headaches that have escalated out of control to near incapacitating- we are desperately working on trying to better that situation (that's another post for another time), but I have so much to be thankful for right now.  Here's to living it up for the next two years in my twenties!! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Break 2012

For the third April in a row, my mom and older sister and her kids have traveled up to Seattle to visit us for Spring Break. It is becoming a fun tradition and this year was fun, again.

They arrived last Friday, March 30th. They got here just minutes before Chloe got home from school.

She was thrilled to play with baby Jackson right away.

He was pretty smitten with her, too.

Mitch and cousin Carter wasted no time playing together. They always find some game to play with the pillows.

Having 3 girls, it sure is fun to have another little boy around to play "manly" games with my son.

Saturday afternoon we headed over to a local furniture store for Easter entertainment. None of us were in the market for new furniture- rather we were going just for the fun activities provided. They had a fun little petting zoo. They let me hold a little bunny that the kids loved petting.

My sister Amanda and her 2 boys

Me and my girls
(Pretty sure this giant bunny is bigger than my entire house. Pretty sure).

We got pictures with the Easter bunny and yes, Leah is crying. But to her credit, this Easter bunny had very long, sharp whiskers that scraped her face. She was already timid about the whole thing to begin with, I will give you that, but as soon as she sat down, the whiskers poked her right in the eye and scratched her across the face and there was no recovering after that. But she sat for the picture. What a trooper. A few days later, during a sad moment, she remembered this traumatic moment and said, "The Easter bunny poked me!" Yes, yes he did.

The Etherington boys were all smiles. How adorable are they?

All the kids (minus baby Jax) enjoyed free popcorn as we walked through the furniture store. We stood in line for the Easter egg hunt, but decided against it when we saw how long the line was.

The past two years when my mom and sis have been here this same week in April, it has been rainy almost the entire week and we have been stuck in doors all week. The forecast looked grim, with rain predicted every day the entire week.

It definitely rained a few of the days, but there were some really nice days with lots of sun and some days with a few hours of sun breaks and the kids took full advantage of every minute of dry weather. We would literally run outside the minute we saw the rain stop and play outside until it started raining again. You have to do that sometimes in the Pacific Northwest.

There was lots and lots of bike riding.

The twins fought over who got to ride in the wagon with Jax.

We went to two different parks.

People have always mistaken my sister and I for twins. Do you see the resemblance? The two of us went out one night after the kids were in bed and the cashier at the store said, "You two are twins, right?" He was shocked when we told him no. We were roommates at college for one year and we stunned people over and over when we said we were just sisters. 95% of the time, I don't see the resemblance. But the older we get, I'm seeing it a bit more. But she is definitely the cuter, thinner version of our twin ship.

Have I ever said how wonderful of a grandma my mom is? The BEST, seriously. When she is with her grandkids, she spends every minute with them. It is amazing. She is the patient, nice, fun version of me. :) She never runs out of treats, hugs, games or time for them. At the park this day, the kids would slide down the slide and then jump into Grandma's arms.

Over and over.

Oh, this little Jaxi baby is a doll. He requires a lot of attention medically, but he is sweet as pie and a true angel. We loved having him in our home for a week. He made me miss having a baby.

After getting these two wimps over their fear of swings, we couldn't get them off.


Playing Red Light, Green Light

Carter found our play lawn mower and fell in love with it. My kids don't play with it much, so we asked him if he would like to take it home with him.

He happily said yes! He pushed that thing all over our cul de sac and even "mowed" the lawn for Ben one day, and was very proud of himself. He even knew how to put gas and oil in it.

Sharing an iPad

After watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", my mom started singing the Willy Wonka song and my kids thought it was hilarious so they all became silly and wanted to make a game out of it. They would sing the song and all fall down.

The problem with my kids is they never tire of doing things over and over and over again. Good thing their mom does...

One night after dinner, we decided to make caramel popcorn. The kids gathered around to watch the popcorn being popped. Carter wasn't too sure about it at first.

Once it started to pop, he thought it was pretty cool.

Even Jax like it!

All of my kids loved having a baby in the house again. It was quite an adjustment for all of them though. Anytime Jax would make a sound- happy or sad or mad, they would run over to Amanda and say, "Jackson is crying!" "Jackson is hungry!" (Mitchell would do that too.) When he was getting his diaper changed, all 4 would gather around and make comment after comment. It was ridiculous at times. At the stores, Mitchell would touch him in his stroller over and over. As soon as they heard him wake up from his nap, they would tell us immediately, over and over. You would have thought they had never seen a baby before. Oh wait, we just had 2 not too long ago... Sorry Amanda- I know that was super annoying.

They sure did love him though.

Jax looks like he's going to be a little red head and looks a bit like Mitch did as a baby. We got a picture of the "twins" one day.

The drama of the week came when we went out shopping one day. We headed over to Tukwila to go to Ikea and were getting off the 167 Hwy exit. The exit has a double left hand turn lane. We were in the inside lane and there was a semi truck in the outside (right hand) lane. As we were both turning left, my sister looks over and notices that he is getting awfully close to us and says "Carrie, look out!" I look over to see his huge semi truck trailing into our lane. I stop, and not being able to do anything about it, watch as he runs into the side of our van. It was quite the adrenaline rush, and when I realize that we are all unharmed, I am angry. There is never a fun or convenient time to get hit by a car. The first thing out of my mouth was "I don't have time for this!" When shopping with kids, you have a short window of time before everyone melts down and you have to go back home. But really, we were all just grateful that no one was injured. Really we were.

It was still frustrating to watch and hear the trucker hit and scrape the entire passenger length of the van. It was this same time last year that we had to deal with our van in the shop. Remember this? Our poor, poor van. How much more can it take?

Anyway, after the impact of the hit was over and with a racing heart and shaky hands, I realized the car was still totally drivable and that the damage was purely body damage. I got behind the truck in his lane and followed him until he pulled over into the Ikea parking lot (how did he know- it was our shopping destination- perfect!) We exchanged insurance information and waited for the cops to get there. A policeman arrived fairly quickly, took our statements and got our license, registration and insurance information and wrote up a police report. He then called me and the other driver back to his car. He started off by telling us that he was ticketing the truck driver which surprised both of us and angered the truck driver (and delighted me). When the cop had asked us both what happened at the beginning, the truck driver openly admitted that he had trailed into my line and hit me. The cop explained that I have a right to my lane and that although it's hard to do, he has to stay in his lane. If he can't stay in his lane, he has to wait for all other cars to go ahead before he proceeds because all other drivers have a right to the other lane. The truck driver tried to argue, but the cop was firm. This was great new for me, because with a ticket showing up on the police report, this pretty much proved that the truck driver was at fault for the accident.

After being given back my drivers license and a copy of the police report, I was free to go.

The damage from a distance- really not that bad, but not great for a van only 3 years old.

We are lucky the mirror wasn't completely snapped off.

Since the accident, it has been confirmed that the trucker's insurance company will cover the costs to fix our van 100%. That is great news, of course. The bad news is the hassle that comes with any accident- the time and energy involved in getting everything coordinated and taken care of. I have spent time on the phone with the insurance company giving my official statement of the accident. An appraiser has come out to the house to appraise the damage done to the car. I currently have an appointment next week to get the van into the shop to get everything fixed, and a rental van is all lined up. Everything has actually run very smoothly- much, much more smoothly than last years incident. Again, I am just grateful that none of us were harmed in any way. That was a true blessing. A van can always be fixed, no matter the stress or hassle. We are very thankful for being protected that day and that the accident was as minor as it was.

We had such a fun week and I am so thankful for my mom and sister making the long, long drive to come see us. I know the drive is not easy or fun and they both sacrificed time away from husbands to come. We had such a great time and my kids loved every minute. And so did I.

They left early Friday morning, April 6th. Grandma got her traditional picture with all the grandkids. Everyone was happy- that is a miracle!