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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Thursday, April 30

Pics in the Park

Well, Jess had her work cut out for her on this photo shoot. Well, kind of. I mean, Korri was a ham and SUPER photogenic. The problem there was narrowing it down to a "manageable" number for the gallery. Mac was another story. I usually can coerce a few smiles out of my kids when they are being stubborn at photo shoots, but Mac was NOT having it, as evidenced in a previous post. But I did manage one smile and Jess' ninja photography skills caught it!

Anyway, here are Korri's 4 year and Mac's 9 month pictures! Enjoy.
Korri 4 year
Mac 9 months

I'm sure you'll agree that the very last one in Mac's gallery might be the best picture of all time...like winning awards, good. I need to find a contest in which to enter it. LOVE IT! Jess manages to catch my kids' personalities with every shoot and this time is no different.

Monday, April 27

4 awesome; 9 terrible

Yesterday Korri, Mac and I had the pleasure of spending the evening at a park in Wayzata with our friend Jess. Jess was taking Korri's 4 year pictures and Mac's 9 month. We could NOT have asked for better weather, especially given the weather the week leading up to this weekend. It was sunny and in the low 60's! Hey, for April in MN, we'll take it!

It didn't start out well, as Korri cut her foot on a stick immediately when we got there. And of course, mom of the year (me!), could not find a bandaid ANYWHERE. But I think Korri fell in love with Jess about two second after seeing her, so that helped a lot. Gee, you'd think Jess works with 4 year olds or something...oh wait! Eventually, the cut was forgotten once Korri put her cowgirl boots on (out of sight, out of mind) and she tried to teach Jess how to dance. I didn't get to see it, but apparently Jess' dance skills left a lot to be desired ;)

Then we couldn't find a lot of shade, but Jess still managed to get some pretty good shots (or at least she thinks...haha!). There was one where Korri was dipping her bare foot into the water...hope that one turned out!! Then Korri had to go potty and the bathrooms weren't open for the season yet (again, April in MN!). Jess was NOT worried about having "enough" good ones of Korri. What a ham! And a natural poser, which surprised me a bit.

And then there was Mac. Normally he is super smiley and loves the outdoors but I think he was a bit overwhelmed and did NOT want to be put down, let alone have Jess take his picture. I mean, I've worked hard to get smiles in the past but this just wasn't happening. I know we got him to smile once, so I'll take it. Poor Jess...she probably thinks my kids hate her! I always think I should have her secretly come to my house and take pictures without them knowing! LOL

Here is the perfect picture for how Mac felt last night (if only he'd been giving her the finger to match the face!):

At least he's still cute, even when pissed! Hopefully he is a bit more relaxed and friendly at his one year pictures.

Sunday, April 26

All by myself

After several days of working with Mac to self-feeding and not just putting puffs in his mouth for him, I'm very happy to report that he can now...feed himself!

From Videos

He is now using his pincer grasp and picking up and putting puffs in his mouth (a lot at one time, apparently!) like he's been doing it for months. He sometimes has a hard time getting the puff to stay in his mouth, but he does pretty darn good considering last Thursday, he wasn't doing it AT ALL.

I know this is a very small thing but given the last couple week's we've had, I'm going to enjoy it! Now, here's hoping he "catches on" to the other motor stuff just as quickly!

Also, he is still learning to eat table food. I gave him pieces of pancake this morning and he didn't do so well (LOTS of choking). He'll figure it out, though.

Friday, April 24

Watch not worry

Mac had his nine month well child appointment this morning. I wasn't looking forward to it because I felt like we had a few major "things" to talk about and that always stresses me out. That being said, here are his measurements:

Height: 28" or 31% (40% at 6 months)
Weight: 18lbs 5oz or 24% (32% at 6 months)
Head: 47cm or 94%...that is NOT a typo! (90% at 6 months)

I think this may be the first time ever that one of my child's height percentage is bigger than their weight! Hey, we make short chubby babies, so what can I say?!? It makes me chuckle when people tell me he is "such a big boy." Um, not really any more! I looked back and Korri was an inch and a half shorter (22%) and almost a pound heavier (63%) and her head was a measly 60%! For his adjusted age, Finn was 17 lbs 10oz (11%) and almost 26" (less than 3rd%) and his head was 70%. I thought it was kind of fun to see where they all were at this age.

The two main things we talked about were his development delays and his size. The short of it: she said it is somewhat "normal" to have gross motor delays at this age because they are learning so many things in such a short time but that she was glad we were being proactive about it. And secondly, even though his weight percentile has dropped dramatically since birth (he was as high at 86% at one point), his "curve" still looks good and he is growing. So basically with both of these things, she is watching them but not worried. Okay, I'll take my cues from her (or try to).

The details (stop reading now, if you don't want to be put to sleep!). I, of course, forgot the IFSP from our meeting yesterday. I did remembered a lot of the details and she said to just drop off a copy when I had time because she'd like to see the details. But she was very happy with the overall results. We agreed that it would be beneficial to and for Mac to be seen at Gillette, since they have a more focused approach than the services offered by the school district. She sent a referral over for that, so I just need to wait for their call and set that up. (Of course, Finn has ONE more session so we'll just keep driving every week, I guess!)

Regarding his size, she said some babies are larger at birth and then correct for the size they should be as they grow. I'm hoping that is the case. At least he is proportional. She stressed very strongly that she is NOT WORRIED about his size. She said she wants to keep an eye on it, which we've already been doing, but is NOT concerned at this point. Okay, take a deep breath, Stacy. She said we can try to increase his fat intake with his solids. Ha, I've NEVER heard that from a doctor! And now that he can eat almost anything, she said we can use full fat yogurt and add butter to veggies and things like that. I guess we'll be getting some full fat yogurt at the store! I've already been adding some baby cereal to his fruits and veggies, so I'll continue to do that. Every little bit helps!

Along those lines, we've been working hard to get him to self-feed...and it is catching on! He has a tendency to drop it right before it gets to his mouth. Once he has that figured out, I think it will be easier to sneak calories in throughout the day. It will also make meal time easier because he'll be more likely to eat what we are eating. (for the record, I can't believe he is old enough to eat table food!!! Where has the time gone?!?!)

I brought up the fact that he is overly attached to me, but she reassured me that it is perfectly normal. I knew it was, but I was worried that since he's with me all day and I still nurse, that it was a bit out of control. She said it is usually from 7-10 months, give or take, so hopefully it starts to improve here in the next month. Also, she was impressed that while she was examining him, he did fine, although he kept checking to make sure mom and dad were close. She also gave him a tongue depressor to play with, which helped and is his favorite thing!

About a month or so ago, we noticed a small "pock" on his right cheek. At first we thought it was a pimple but it hasn't gone away and at times, feels hard and gets irritated easily. Again, she wasn't concerned about it now, but wanted to keep an eye on it. IF, and that is a big if, we have to do something about it, it wouldn't be done until he is much older.

Sleeping. So apparently, Mac has become TOO dependent on his pacifier. Between 9 pm and midnight, he wakes up often and all he needs is his pacifier. She strongly recommended to sleep train him without it. Argh. It is so hard for me to let him cry when I know a simple solution will calm him back down. She said to think of it as teaching him how to self-sooth is a gift you are giving him. Hmmm...I doubt he will feel that way! She is not concerned at all about him still being swaddled and reassured me that it has NOTHING to do with his development delays. She said we can start trying to wean him from the swaddle if we like, but not to do both the pacifier and swaddle at the same time! I've said it before and I'll say it again...this is really hard for me because I like to do what works. But some would argue that it isn't "working" any more either. Deep breath...here we go!

She said it is time to introduce a sippy cup. I don't think he will be very interested in it since he has NO interest in bottles, but it doesn't hurt to start now. Plus, I REALLY want to avoid bottles all together if we can, so once he is done nursing, I'd like to be able to go directly to a sippy cup. I guess we'll see how that goes.

Think that is "all!" Wow, and I think this was our shortest doctor appointment so far (30 minutes)! She said she's surprised I still bring in a list of concerns since Mac is my third child. Oh, doctor dear...you don't know me at all if you think I wouldn't have a list!! LOL

So we leave a lot of these things as things to watch. Like when there is severe weather and there is a weather watch before a warning...and let's face it, we never "worry" until it has been upgraded to a warning, anyway, right? So Mac is at a weather watch, hopefully he won't be upgraded to a warning if we have anything to say or can do about it.

My boys:

Thursday, April 23

Development Results

We had Mac's follow up results meeting today with his Early Intervention team (case worker/teacher and Physical Therapist). The short of it: he tested at or near 100% for all areas except motor, where he tested around a 6 month old.

The long of it is that they tested him using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, which is a fairly common method. I answered some of the parts, the PT conducted the fine and gross motor and the teacher did the rest. The results were "child's primary disability category: developmental delay." Basically, as we thought, he has delays with his gross motor skills. The "goods" news is that the PT can't see a "reason" for it, so there isn't any underlying issues that would prevent him from learning these things like crawling or walking. We just need to get him to move his body in an appropriate way.

To qualify for services, you have to receive a score of 77 and Mac scored 73 (over a -1.5 standard deviation). They combine fine and gross motor, which is kind of odd to me, because he scored higher in fine motor and much lower in gross.

Cognition (play skills): 95%
Communication (taking in information and expressing wants/needs): 91%
Social Emotional (building relationships): 100%
Adaptive (using all skills to adapt to changes in environment): 94%

Essentially, he is very bright and well adjusted, which was so nice to hear, but just can't move his body appropriately.

To help with his gross (and some fine) motor skills, we set up time with the Physical Therapist to come and work with us every two weeks. She feels it will just be an issue of getting him to move his body in a way that helps him manipulate his positions (easier said than done). The plan is to do visits every two weeks until Mac is moving around (in whatever capacity his is able...army crawl, scooting, crawling, creeping, etc) and then reassessing his need and maybe changing to once per month after that.

Our goals over the next year (when he will be 21 months!) are:
1. Roll from back to stomach, and stomach to back
2. Move 5 feet across the floor creeping
3. Pull to stand
4. Cruise around furniture
5. Take 5 steps without support
6. Walk upstairs with support

We hope to achieve 1-3 in 6 months and 4-6 by 12 months. It just seems so unattainable right now, but I know with hard work, we can do it! The first thing is to get his siblings to stop getting things for him. That will be the hardest as Mac makes it VERY well known when he wants them to get him something.

Overall, I was somewhat emotional when going through the results today. I, of course, feel like it is something I did or didn't do and if I were "better" he would be doing all these things. But at the end of the day, "normally developing" babies don't need their parents to do ANYTHING to do these things AND I'm not a physical therapist (my head knows this, my heart just hurts). But Mac is healthy and happy and unless something comes to light as we are working with him, there is no reason to believe he can't do these things. A few prayers would be appreciated, nonetheless.

The PT made a point to tell me that she was NOT generous with his gross motor scores, which means if he didn't fully do a skill, she didn't give him credit. She was afraid that he would be on the bump and not qualify for help, even though he would benefit from it. SO...this is worse case scenario. She also said that she knows he is capable of doing some things she tested him on and she can tell he just chooses not to (like twisting his body to play facing his side). Little Stinker!

We have his 9 month well-child appt tomorrow, so I'll be bringing the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) along so we can figure out if private PT would also benefit him (like going to Gillette, like Finn did/does).

Hopefully in one year, all six items will be checked off and this will just be a bump in his journey. PT has a feeling once he starts moving, all the rest will come along pretty "easily." Fingers crossed that this is the case!

And because I can't have a post without a pic, here is Mac sleeping yesterday:

Yes, he is still swaddled and yes, I plan to talk to his doctor about it tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22

Shirt off your back

Or get one for ON your back! As you know, we do March for Babies and Baby Steps walks to support premature birth prevention (donate here if you haven't already: http://www.marchforbabies.org/sjwalsh97). We had shirts made five years ago, but thought it was time to change our team name (since it isn't just about Finnegan!) and get new shirts made!

So, we are getting new shirts made that are green and yellow tie-dye with our team name "Early but Tough" and the slogan "proof miracles do happen." There will be some images of tough things, too (it hasn't actually been designed yet, but will be cool, I promise!).

If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirts, they go from youth XS to Adult XXL and are $15 each. Please let me know by Monday morning, as I will be placing the order on Monday, April 27.

Here is a similar sample I found online of the shirt:
I think it is going to be really neat! We love for you to get one, regardless if you are walking with us or not.

March for Babies

You can help! We'd love you to join us and walk along side us on Saturday, May 16 in Monticello, Minneapolis. It is a 4 mile walk and may be the most rewarding thing you do all year! Just click on our team website to join our team. Or if you are unable to join us, please take a few minutes and click on our individual website to make a donation. A donation of ANY size is greatly appreciated.

 http://www.marchforbabies.org/sjwalsh97

With your help, some day all babies will be born full term and healthy. That is my hope, anyway! We have been so blessed and it is because of support and donations from people in previous years. Please help to make other families have the same storybook ending that we have!

Here is a picture of our team from last year. We'd love you to join us this year!


Saturday, April 18

It's as easy as...

...riding a bike! Just ask Korri!

Korri's been riding a balance bike since last spring when Finn got a big boy bike (from NeNe!). Last summer she had a "big girl bike" with training wheels, but I think it was just a little too big for her and she wasn't that interested.

But Jim and I could tell that it wasn't going to take much for her to figure out how to ride WITHOUT the training wheels this spring/summer. Korri got the bike out Thursday and yesterday to ride with Max, our neighbor friend. I'd already told Korri she would get five marks (like points that she saves up for something) if she would TRY to ride without trainers. And then I told her that if she did and figured it out, I'd go to the store immediately and buy her a BASKET for her bike. You don't understand...apparently a basket is THE thing to have on your bike.

Jim took the training wheels off and she was pretty nervous, as I think almost all kids are. All she cared about was making sure daddy was still holding on. But once she got some confidence and actually pedalled, she was perfectly fine! So we decided to go to the park, knowing she'd have straight roads with practically no traffic. And it worked! (good thing Jim just trained for a 5K!)

This is her on the way there (sorry for motion, I was walking and pushing the stroller while recording):
From Videos

She is still a little nervous about it but she rode all the way there and all the way home! It is a really hard thing to learn and to say I'm proud of her doesn't even come close to how I feel. She has courage like no other. We kept telling her to "pedal like a girl" and she would pedal harder. I LOVE that! Now we'll see how she does the NEXT time she does it. I hope it comes back just like, well...riding a bike!

 

Side note: Finn was super supportive and cute, cheering her on, all the while riding his bike back and forth. Then once she figured it out, he realized that he'd just learned last summer which means Korri is younger than he was when he learned. I think he'd better get used to her doing things sooner than he did!

Friday, April 17

Cloud Nine

Mac is nine months old today. I feel like nine months is the start of not being a baby any more! Boo. Below are some "normal" baby milestones most babies do by the end of nine months and my comments on how Mac measures up.

Also, I haven't talked about it much on here yet because we don't have the final results, but over the last three weeks, Mac has been evaluated for development delays. I have a meeting next week to go over the results and find out what the best course of action will be. More on that after my meeting.

What most babies do at this age:

Social and Emotional
  • May be afraid of strangers (yes, this started a few weeks ago. It isn't super strong yet, but just adds to his preference for momma)
  • May be clingy with familiar adults (I think so. Once he is familiar with somebody, he has no problem sticking by them)
  • Has favorite toys (Um, I'm not sure. He LOVES his jumper, is that a toy?)

Language/Communication
  • Understands “no” (I don't think so but we also chose as a parenting method not to use the word "no" with our babies, so that makes it tough to assess this one)
  • Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa” (yes! And you can tell he has started to think he is "talking" to us)
  • Copies sounds and gestures of others (yes. He just learned how to wave and sign "more." We also play the copy game, which he likes.)
  • Uses fingers to point at things (nope. the only thing he does like this is lift his arms to be picked up)

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
  • Watches the path of something as it falls (Yes, he watches everything)
  • Looks for things he sees you hide (yes, especially if it is my phone!)
  • Plays peek-a-boo (he does if we play with him but he doesn't initiate it)
  • Puts things in her mouth (Not really, sometimes he gets his pacifier on there, but not snacks yet and so far, not other things!)
  • Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other (yes, his fine motor skills are pretty good, thankfully)
  • Picks up things like cereal o’s between thumb and index finger (not quite but he is super close. Sometimes he does but I think it is by accident. Once he figures this out, I think he'll be able to self-feed his puffs, which will be AWESOME!)

Movement/Physical Development
  • Stands, holding on (yes, no problem)
  • Can get into sitting position (no)
  • Sits without support (yes, like a champ)
  • Pulls to stand (no, but once standing, can stand for a while)
  • Crawls (no)
Mac is a very opinionated little boy. He's figured out that if he screeches, he gets our attention much faster. He nurses 5-6 times a day and usually eats food twice a day, but only likes sweet things! Argh. Thankfully, he will usually eat veggies, if I mix with fruit, so he is still getting a balance of both. He also wants to be in the center of the action. When he is happy and content, he is VERY happy and content. But when he is upset about anything, he is VERY upset. He LOVES being outside, as most babies do. Our stroller broke, so as soon as we get a new one, I think we'll be out even more (the cheap umbrella stroller just doesn't cut it). Oh, and he has two teeth!

Here are his progression pictures month-to-month (he looks so much more upright this month and thinner! His well-child visit is next Friday.):

  

  

  

Wednesday, April 15

Spring fever?

Let's blame it on that. So as mentioned in an earlier post, Mac got a fever Saturday night at Austin's birthday party. Fevers have been VERY rare for him, so I wasn't exactly sure what to do. We gave him some Tylenol and hoped it was just a fluke. Here Auntie is holding him and he clearly isn't feeling 100%.

But we weren't so lucky. Over the next 24-36 hours, his fever kept spiking as high as 103.6, which is VERY high for my kids. In fact, I don't even remember any of them having one that high. And of course it was Sunday. We talked with the on-call nurse from our clinic and she asked several questions, but wasn't overly concerned with the fever as long as he was responding and doing well. He would have bouts where he seemed perfectly normal..for maybe half an hour and then he'd be sleepy, sleeping or very low energy. Jim also called the insurance nurse's line and she kind of said the same thing. One thought it was his ears and the other wasn't sure what it was!


We kept a watchful eye on him and Monday morning, I called the clinic right at 7am to get an appointment. We were able to get it right away that morning (I haven't mentioned lately how much I LOVE our clinic, so I just did!). I went over the symptoms with the doctor and he did an exam. While Mac had fluid in his right ear, neither were infected (thank God!!!!). After the exam, the Dr said Mac looked good overall and it sounded like a virus that is going around right now. You have 3-4 days of a high fever and then 2-3 days of a non-itchy, non-contagious rash.


Low and behold, the fever broke Tuesday and he developed the rash by the time he woke up this AM. I'm so glad he mentioned the rash otherwise I probably would have taken him in AGAIN! Kids.


Overall, Mac weathered the storm fairly well, all things considered. There is just nothing worse than a sick baby. I did appreciate all the extra snuggle and cuddle time, though. He still seems a bit under the weather, but far better than he was. So glad it wasn't anything "worse" than just the fever!

Sunday, April 12

Day of birthdays!

Yesterday was a busy day filled with lots of family, friends and fun (and running!). The day started out exceptionally early for Jim AND for a Saturday. He was up and gone around 6am for the Goldie 5K run, his first 5K. He'd trained and was ready, but I don't think he was ready for the early time! He had a good time and other than he felt that the race being crowded so he couldn't get a really good time, I think he did amazing. He finished 32 minutes and 6 seconds for his first 5K...that is pretty amazing. I think he has the bug, since he told me there was another 5K this coming weekend in Waconia! Um, how about you just run 3.2 miles by our house instead? It is MUCH cheaper! He is taking a little break from running and doing the Insanity program (hopefully he doesn't die!). That program is 60 days and then he will start training for the Cornfest 10K in August. Side note: I'm really bummed that I can't be training and running with him. Darn knee!!

On the kids and my agenda for the morning was Laena and Braeland's birthday party! As we were getting ready to leave, Jim got home from the race and was able to go with...what a nice surprise. I had the pleasure and honor of making the twins' cakes again this year. I sent Sharon lots of ideas and she picked one that I've been wanting to do...a pinata cake! Basically it is a round cake (baked in a Pyrex mixing bowl) with the middle hollowed out and with candy inside! What a neat idea...but I wasn't exactly sure HOW I was going to do it. I shouldn't have worried as it was fairly straight forward and other than the fact that frosting a sphere is NOT easy, they weren't too tough.

Laena picked white cake with vanilla frosting and jelly beans!

Braeland picks chocolate cake with chocolate/peanut butter frosting and Reese's Pieces!

And the prize inside (it was a HUGE hit at the party):
 

The kids played pin the nose on the clown and also did a real pinata outside. It was so much fun and the weather was absolutely beautiful. So glad we were invited to help these two special kiddos celebrate their birthday.

Then we were off to St. Cloud of Austin's super special birthday party...his GOLDEN birthday. Nine on the ninth. Again, because of the beautiful weather, I'm pretty sure my kids came in just enough to eat and watch Austin open presents...otherwise they were outside pretty much all day!

In honor of Austin's special birthday, I got him a "golden" themed present...everything was gold in color or name. I think he liked it.

However, I didn't think it through with the gold filler in the bag. Oops! The kids kind of took it and threw it everywhere. Sorry, Becky!!

Mac ended up getting a fever while we were there and after spending most of the day in Auntie NaeNae's arms, he fell asleep on Grandma. I told Grandma she should cherish the moment because he hardly EVER does that any more!

Also, happy birthday to uncle John and our friend Brody! Like I said, a busy birthday weekend!!

Tuesday, April 7

All Night-er

Doctors (or at least mine) categorize babies as sleeping "through the night" when they sleep 5-6 hours at one time, which Mac did at 2 months (far before his sister, which I think was closer to a year!). I don't know about you, but 5 hours is NOT all night, nor is it for most parents. But after the newborn weeks of getting up every hour to two hours, it can feel like all night.

Well last night, for the first time, Mac slept from when I fed him at bedtime around 8pm and didn't eat again until 7am! Awesome! Although he didn't sleep solidly, as he woke up a few times for his pacifier and eventually daddy just put him in his swing, but I'll take it! I feel like if he doesn't need to eat to go back to sleep, it doesn't count as "getting up." I really don't mind the early morning feeding, usually around 4 or 5am, because I know I still have at least an hour to sleep again until the Bigs are up. But if we can wean it out altogether, all the better!

Now we just need to wean him from his swaddle and then hopefully he can just stick his pacifier back in himself. I have a feeling it sounds much easier than it is going to be, as past attempts have failed. Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 6

And then there were two

Mac's second tooth came in today (or some time in the last 24 hours). So number two is his bottom left tooth. I tried to get a picture but apparently he is feeling very private about showing this one off, Argh. It is definitely a two person job and Finn isn't effective as the second person!

Here are some of my attempts:
  

  

Hopefully you can at least catch a glimpse in one of these. And finally some lovin' from momma after all the trauma.

Sunday, April 5

Look what the Easter Bunny brought...

...Mac's first tooth!


Can you see the little white spot? I think it is his bottom left but since it is so small and there is so little room in there, I'm not sure if it is the right or not. No wonder he hasn't been sleeping that well! But on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being fine and 10 being a raging crab, he was at about a 3, I think. His siblings were usually at an 8 or 9 when they were teething, so I'll take it. Hopefully the rest come in with as little fanfare as this one did!

My big boy is growing up! Now we just need to work on rolling and crawling...which we'll do on Wednesday at his evaluation.

UPDATE: It is his bottom right tooth. I checked :)

Saturday, April 4

Hail, Hail, the Gangs All Here

Well, almost! My sisters and I hosted my mom's family for Easter today at our house. My mom is one of 8 kids (yikes, I know!). So for Easter, each year the children of one of my mom's siblings (in chronological age, to keep it simple) hosts Easter. We started this when it got to be a little too much for Grandma and Grandpa to host everybody at their house. Plus it gets us to all the cousin's houses.

In total, there were 53 people here. My mom and I totaled it up last night and we think there are 72 total (this is aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins' kids, oh, and grandma and grandpa, of course!), but 6 live out of state. So, of the people who live in MN, we had an 80% attendance! I'd say that is pretty amazing, especially considering how big our family is and how busy everybody is.

I was happy to see everybody who did come! It is so funny how the family dynamic changes over the years. For a while, there were tons of little kids and no tweens or teens. Now there are tons of really little kids and tweens and teens again! One thing is for sure, kids just keep on growing up!

I always stress out before having people over and wonder why we do. But it feels SO good to get to those projects that just never seem to get crossed off the "to do" list until there is a "reason" that you have to. My sisters and I made hot sandwiches, which seemed to be a big hit. But even that was easy since we didn't have to make a big feast, like you do for Thanksgiving.

And I forgot to take my camera out and take pictures. Major bummer. But I did get one of Mac and his new friend and second cousin Isabelle, playing together (i.e. Isabelle trying to take his pacifier!!). LOL.

In a time when everybody is so busy and it is hard to get together, especially when you do have such a large family, I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who came yesterday. It really and truly was great to see each one of you and I know it also meant a lot to Grandma and Grandpa to have so many of us under one roof. May you all have a joyous Easter and blessings in the year that follows.

Friday, April 3

Spring Break, baby!

This is our first official spring break, since this is the first year Finn is in school.

Monday started out with dentist appointments for the Bigs. They went well although we ended up with three cavities total (Finn=2 and Korri=1...a first for both).

We know we wanted to do something special but weren't sure what we wanted to do. We narrowed it down to either taking the train to Winona or going to the Holiday Inn in Maple Grove, where they have a water park. And last minute (as in Monday late morning when we were getting ready to go to PT for Finn) we/Jim decided the water park it would be!

It worked out great because Jim dropped Finn and I off at PT and he took the Littles (ha, i.e. Korri and Mac) to check in and get things situated. PT went really well, as usual. Then Jim picked us up and we went to the hotel to...what else...swim! I wish I'd logged their hours in the pool because it was probably 12 hours in two and a half days! Also, we got the "kids" room which has a little alcove with bunk beds in it! It was perfect for our family.

The water park isn't open during the week but that didn't matter to my kids, who are too small for most of that anyway. And the best part? At times, we were the ONLY ones in the pool area. If you've been to this hotel before on the weekend, you will know how crazy that is. It is packed wall-to-wall on the weekends. Auntie Kristine and Zander joined us to swim and for dinner on Monday night, which was a special treat for us.

Tuesday, we swam in the morning and then Jim and Korri went to Buffalo for an appointment. Finn, Mac and I walked over to Creative Kids Place so Finn could play with some toys and I could pick up a few Easter things. Did I mention that we WALKED over there? It was absolutely GORGEOUS outside, although very windy. When Jim and Korri got back, they went swimming while Mac and I did some shopping. I left the stroller at the hotel. Big mistake! Oh, my aching back. LOL. I scored big at Children's Place and the Dollar store.

And since Jim and I were up with Mac probably 10 times Monday night, I decided I was going to go home and sleep with Mac after the Bigs went to bed. The best decision ever. Mac slept great, I got to sleep in, the Bigs had a lazy morning with daddy at the hotel. It was perfect.

We had a late check out Wed morning, Then we went to lunch at Chipotle, made a trip to Costco and headed home. It was a great little stay-cation. It was nice that there is so much right there by the hotel and that we were a little over half an hour from home. I think we'll be doing that again. Plus, pretty cheap spring break if you look at what alternatives would have been.

Once we got home, we went in to cleaning mode. We are having the Smith Clan (my mom's family) over for Easter, so we had major picking up and cleaning to do. It is always stressful to get ready when hosting an event but if we don't have people over, we never seem to get to those projects that need to be done! So thanks to my family for making me clean my house! LOL.

Thursday I was hoping to take the kids to the park or something fun outside but it was so windy, I'm pretty sure they would have blown away. Holy windy! So we just stuck around home instead.

And today, we've continued to work on the list of things to do before tomorrow. Thankfully, we aren't having people over until the afternoon, so we have time to do the last minute stuff tomorrow. Overall, I think it was a fun spring break. I loved having all the kids around and they actually got along pretty well. Back to reality on Monday.