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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.

Wednesday, December 21

Croup. Croup.

Twice is not nice!

Last winter, Mac was pretty much sick the entire duration (or at least it felt like it). I was determined that we would have a better winter this year. However, it didn't start out well with Croup in Oct...I mean, that isn't even WINTER yet! We caught it pretty early and he recovered faster than they expected. Good, done. Maybe that would be it?!?!

Nope, Mac was exposed to a cold a few weekends ago and during the week, I knew he was getting it. Argh! If only we could keep the darn germs away! And then on Thurs, it sounded different and I just knew it was Croup again. But I kept hoping I was wrong. He had a tough night and by Friday morning, he had to go in. His fever was super high (103.9) and oxygen levels were 87 when we got there (NOT good!) but they quickly went down (fever) and came up (oxygen) with ibuprofen, an oral steroid and a nebulizer treatment (oxygen was 98 or 99 when we left, I think). Stupid Croup! I asked if Croup was an illness that once you get it, you're more likely to get it again, like pneumonia. She said it can be for some and it appears that is the case with Mac. Double Argh. He sounded terrible for a day or two, but again, rebounded fairly quickly (quicker than Jim who got sick around the same time period). Oh, and he was super contagious for up to three days, which meant he had to miss seeing Santa (here's hoping they don't notice that we just didn't go this year!) and the Walsh family Thanksmas (I still went with the Bigs and daddy stayed home with sick-y).


Then, the following Wed, I noticed that he had a lot of green snot which he has NEVER had before. I didn't think too much of it until he woke up with a fever on Thurs. Great. I called the Nurse's Line and they said to bring him in since it is a symptom change from the week before when he had Croup. Jim brought him in and...double ear infection! Better than a sinus infection, I guess and at least it isn't contagious. They gave him antibiotics and sent him home.


Antibiotics always do a number on Mac's digestive tract, if you know what I mean, so I've had some really "fun" diapers this week. He seemed to be itching himself over the last several days, but I chalked it up to dry skin (I mean it is winter in Minnesota and the temps were negative twenty degrees this past weekend which equals DRY air and usually dry skin!). Well, yesterday, it seemed like he was getting a diaper rash but again, not usual when he is on antibiotics, sadly. Then late this morning, I changed his diaper and noticed that the rash/spots were not just on his butt but had spread to his legs and back! I freaked out and had Jim look. Chicken Pox?!?! There wasn't an appointment at our normal clinic, so Jim took him to the Open Clinic at another location. Please don't be Chicken Pox! Please don't be Chicken Pox! He would be quarantined for Christmas, which we had to do two years ago due to the influenza! When do they get the Chicken Pox vaccine? I feel like he already had it but I'm not sure.


Finally Jim called and they did NOT think it was Chicken Pox (unless the spots started to ooze and scab over in the next two days...yuck!). They thought it was either a virus or an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin. I think the virus is more likely only because he's had Amoxicillin several times without a reaction. But I also know allergies can change or develop at any time. Also, Jim is allergic to Amoxicillin, so I'd guess Mac is predisposed to a sensitivity/allergy to it. So for now, they switched him to Cefdinir (a broader spectrum antibiotic) and put it in his chart that he has an allergy to Amoxicillin. Triple Argh! I guess it isn't a huge deal, but it is so much easier to NOT have to list any known allergies. It is very similar to when Finn was little and reacted to Omnicef (Cefninir), they didn't know if it was the illness he was reacting to or the medicine but to be safe, he has to have it listed as an allergy. When they are both are older, we can have them tested to see if they really are allergic or not. Until then, it is better to be safe than sorry.

They gave Mac a dose of Benedryl to help with the itching and he was OUT when they got home. Probably a good thing. He isn't itching tonight at all, so hopefully the Benedryl is working or his body is getting rid of the Amoxicillin.

So, even though today is only the first day of winter, I think we've had our fair share this "winter" already. Although it is good to remember that it could always be worse. Luckily, Mac is usually still happy when he is sick, which is a HUGE blassing. Hopefully we have a break for a while! Here's wishing you all a healthy holiday and new year!!! (hey, if you're healthy, than Mac won't get your germs! Ha!)

Monday, December 19

He did it!

Yesterday, my family celebrated Christmas a little early. We switch off Christmas Eve every year and this year it's Ortonville's turn. So the Walsh girls and their families gathered at Renae and Craig's house in St. Joseph. And it was just wonderful.

I know collectively we have a lot of kids (mom has 10 grandchildren!) but it doesn't seem like a lot until we are all in one room together! Everybody except Jordan (boo!) was there, which makes a grand total of 18! We are officially outnumbered by kids! This year, the kiddos were able to let loose in the basement, which helped a TON!

video

Here is a short montage of pics from the afternoon (hopefully it works, I don't have a good track record with videos!).

And one of the many highlights of the day was Finn reading the Christmas Story from the Bible for everybody. Austin did it last year and Finn was told it was his turn this year. He did NOT want to. I started prepping him about two months ago. We found a passage that he liked in one of our Children's bibles and he practiced with me. Then he practiced once when Sasha was here and once when Stacey was here (so there was a "crowd"). He could read it just fine, but was scared to be in front of people. Fast forward to yesterday on our way there...I forgot the freaking bible with the passage he knew! He didn't freak out and when we got there, we looked online to find one he liked, we practiced a few times and he was set (Austin was on-call in case he was needed!). Him "practicing":


And he did GREAT! I think his nerves got the best of him a little as he didn't pause for periods, but that is minor. The fact that he even did it shows how far he has come in terms of doing new things, being in front of people and not having a fit when things change! I'd being lying if I said that my eyes were completely dry when he was done!


Thank you, Renae and Craig, for hosting (and tackling your basement!!). Everything was perfect as usual. May all of your Christmas season continue to be merry and bright. Safe holiday travels to all over the next week or so!!

In addition to the video, here are a few pics:




Saturday, December 17

Sometimes I forget...

...how much I miss him.

Last weekend my aunt Vicky (my dad's sister) hosted our family's annual "Thanksmas" gathering. For those of you not in the know, we combine Thanksgiving and Christmas into one celebration and call it Thanksmas!

I LOVE spending time with my dad's family. I mean, they are fun and loving, obviously, but I realized during this trip it is because they love and miss my dad, too. He is special to them like he isn't anywhere else. My dad struggled with "getting" life. He didn't seem to know how to interact the same as other people effortlessly do, but he loved huge, just quietly. I didn't see or talk to my dad on a daily basis, so I feel like I forget that he's gone. I forget that I miss him. Even though my brain doesn't think about him constantly, my heart misses him and aches every single minute of every single day.

Like I said, I love being around my dad's family because they love and miss him, too. And it is okay to talk about him with them. And sometimes others (besides my sisters and I) have tears when talking, thinking and remembering him. And that makes me feel GOOD! Weird, I know, but I like when other people remember him and miss him, too.

That was never more evident last night. My dad's sisters and mom asked for all of dad's clothes when he died. Well, last night, they presented Renae and me (Kristine and Becky weren't there) with this:


Our "dad" quilts! There are pictures of dad and cut outs of shirts and jackets he wore and sayings about loving him/us. It is BEYOND! I don't even know how to put in words what I was feeling. It is exactly HIM. Dad was kind of skinny and his hugs were a little bony, but they were "dad" hugs, that I'll never get again. And I miss so much (what I'd give for just one more). This will be a close second.

And this is evidence that they miss Dad, too:

Vicky has this memorial table set up in her house with pictures of my dad and my grandpa! I feel so loved, even though it makes me miss him more. Sometimes not remembering is nice, but other times, the pain that comes with remembering is exactly what you need. When these times come and I stop forgetting how much I miss him and allow myself to feel that pain, I now have a blanket to wrap myself up in and have a good cry. Seriously, "thank you" seems so small, but I don't know what else to say. Vicky, Lisa and Grandma...thank you for taking the time and making the effort to make these for us. They will be cherish.

Thursday, December 15

Gingerbreads

On Sunday, we decorated our annual gingerbread house. We cheat...we buy the pre-assembled one from Costco! Hey, it saves our sanity because I can NEVER get them to stay together (more on that later!).

 

This was the first year that we pretty much let the Bigs have at it without much help from mom or dad (Mac was sleeping). And they did GREAT! Very creative, if nothing else.



I picked up a few extra candies to augment the ones that come with the kit and I think they used just about every single piece from the kit and the ones I got! In case you can't tell! The sad part is we put it on our mantel during Christmas and then throw it away after...all those yummy candies just thrown in the garbage!

Yesterday, Mac, Reagan and I went over to Andrea's to decorate her homemade gingerbread houses! She is amazing. Oh, and homemade royal icing, too!

The Littles LOVED decorating the roof, and apparently they tasted good, too because they both took chomps out of them! (Mac decorated the sides, too). I did the front and back and then the wheels came off, so to speak. I could NOT get it to stay together, so I decided we made gingerbread panels instead of a house! It's all in how you present it, right?


And Andrea makes such good gingerbread, why not eat these?


Wednesday, December 7

The Best Bestie

We have the best bestie EVER! Okay, technically, she is Finn's bestie, but I've now decided she is our whole family's bestie. Jim's cousin, Sasha, who lives in New York, unexpectedly had some free time and decided (very last minute!) to come visit her MN family for a week! So exciting!!! She arrived last Wed and her flight just left (tear!). We crammed a TON of activities and food into seven days but also managed to have her participate in a lot of our every day activities, too. I now know that I NEED a Mother's Helper, for sure!! Ha, ha.

We watched the Vikings game Thursday night, we went to the Mall of America Friday, Lynn came to visit Friday night, DeAnn and Les came to visit Saturday and take the boys for an over night, John, Kelsie, Tucker and Chris came to visit later on Saturday and stay over (another treat!), Sunday was family football day (Seahawks played Sunday night), Sasha had lunch with Korri at school Monday and we took her shopping Monday afternoon (shhhh, don't tell!), we went to Mac's ECFE class Tues AM, Sasha had lunch with Finn after ECFE and then we (without Finn) went shopping again (had to use her Old Navy/Gap employee discount before it didn't work any more!!), we went to Unhinged Pizza for dinner last night and today, we had a low key day (without heat/gas until mid-morning!) and had to say goodbye. :-(

We feel STRONGLY that she should move to MN but I don't think that will happen. We love spending time with her and she fits right in with our family. She is a rare and very special egg. Also, between Sasha, Jim and I, we (and by "we" I really mean mainly Sasha and I!) took over 500 pictures and videos over the seven days! We just value making and documenting memories (that means we are conscientious, not crazy, in case you were confused!).

Sasha, we are so blessed to have gotten to spend this amazing week with you. Our home and family feel incomplete without you. We love you so much and you are such a generous person with your time, talents and money. Thank you for making us a priority and venturing to the frozen tundra (especially since we didn't have heat for 18 hours!!). We can't wait until your next visit and we'd love to visit you in the Big Apple some day! Until next time!

Here is a sampling of our adventures:





Sunday, November 20

Pajama party

Yesterday, we gathered for our 4th annual pajama party with Laena, Braeland, Sharon, Lilly, Levi and Pam. I'm so thankful and grateful that we continue to do it every year. They just keep getting bigger and I love that they (Laena, Braeland, Lilly and Finn) have been friends since they were SIX MONTHS OLD!

The first year we went to the mall and had a group picture with Santa. The next two years, we just went to our houses because, well, it was easier! But since it had been three years since our last one, I thought it would be fun to go back to Santa for another PJ pic (afterall, how much longer are they going to agree to do it?!?!).

2016: Levi, Lilly, Laena, Braeland, Finn, Mac and Korri.
After the pics (and me running to Costco to get my wallet...don't ask!), we headed to our house for dinner, games and crafts. Oh, and LOTS of running, yelling and playing :)



Everybody had fun and we moms even got a few minutes to chat! During this season of thankfulness, it makes me grateful to have people in our lives that love us so much and make us a priority. Thank you for continuing to make these special memories with us!!!

Here are the older group pics. They've grown so much!!!
2015

2014

2013

Friday, November 18

Winter is coming!

You know how you can tell today is the first snow of the season? Everybody is outside playing in it! After school closing early due to the weather, Korri went out as soon as she got home from school, so this is the SECOND time she's played outside in the snow today!
 

Ha, I won't be able to pay them to go out in a month, I'm sure. Here is a time laps of 6 hours, from when it very first started snowing this morning until just now:

 

Also, how do you know you are the third child and this is the first snow fall? You end up wearing whatever mom can find around the house:

Lumber jack hat, pink coat (we told him it was red, but I don't think he cared either way!), last year's boots, one black skeleton mitten and one pink butterfly mitten and hand-me-down snow pants! Hey, it works. Note to self: must buy Mac WARM mittens tomorrow! These cottons ones won't cut it in the snow!

I've heard this winter is supposed to be bitterly cold with tons of snow. I guess this is the beginning. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Happy winter to you all!!

Thursday, November 17

Give Them Tomorrow

World Prematurity Day is observed on November 17 each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide. Premature birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide.

As you all know, this is a cause that is very near and dear to our hearts. After being born 14 weeks early and weighing less than 2 pounds, our son Finnegan is alive and healthy today. Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick.

In addition to Finnegan's journey, prematurity has had a profound impact on our lives. We mourn our dear friend Logan, who was born too soon thirteen years ago. And our nephews Austin (born 5 weeks early), Zander (born 5 weeks early) and Zachary (born 7 weeks early). Yet we are able to celebrate that Finn's sister Korri, brother Mac, and cousins Ben and Katie were born full term thanks to treatments that efforts like World Prematurity Day bring to the forefront.

What can you do to help? You can easily get involved by going purple — that includes wearing purple to represent the March of Dimes and prematurity awareness, lighting your home or office purple and getting creative to inspire others to raise awareness by going purple. You can help raise awareness on social media by posting about World Prematurity Day, changing your profile picture to a World Prematurity Day one or filter your current one purple and you can make a donation today. Give them tomorrow is a universal call to do something today to help moms and to save babies. You can help us fight premature birth to change lives.

As always, we will be walking on May 13 for March of Dimes to support the March of Dimes and their efforts to end preventable child deaths by 2030! Join us in this global movement to save the smallest among us.


Here's Team Early but Tough (fka Team Finnegan) at a few of our walks:


 




Back to the 50's

Every year, the Kindergarten classes celebrate the 50th day of school by dressing up in 50's style clothing. And Korri just "happens" to have a poddle skirt/dress, thanks to Memere! You see, Korri's American Girl doll, Maryellen, is from the 50's and one of her outfits is a poodle skirt. And because Memere loves American Girl and Korri so much, she got Korri the matching poodle dress for her last birthday!



After Finn did it two years ago, I was all set to MAKE her a poodle skirt (it can't be THAT hard, can it?) but when Lynn mentioned wanting to get Korri one of the American Girl matching outfits, I jumped on this one and had her get a size bigger so she could wear it for this. I'm so forward thinking (OR...lazy...OR...cheap...how can you tell?)! LOL

We did a high pony tail to match but she couldn't find Maryellen's hair scarf to put in it, which would have been adorable. Oh, well. She was going to wear her black dress shoes (she doesn't have saddle shoes) but couldn't find them either, so we went with her school shoes (easier!). I can't wait to see how the other kiddos dress up!! I love special days like this.

Oh, and in case you forgot, here is our little greaser, Danny Zuko, from two years ago:

Saturday, November 12

Double cakes!

Finn and Korri were invited to a double birthday party for their mutual brother/sister friends, Martin (Finn's class) and Maria (Korri's grade and in her dance class). Mac, Reagan and I have gotten to know their mom, Katie and younger siblings this year and when it was their younger sister, Beatrice's birthday last month, I made her some butterfly cupcakes.

And I mentioned that I like to make cakes. So, when planning Martin and Maria's party, Katie asked if I wanted to do their birthday cakes. Yum, yes! I think the last cake I did was Mac's in July! So she gave me ideas on what they are interested in and I said I'd get some ideas to her. We decided on a pokeball for Martin and a Cinderella carriage for Maria.

I used my ball cake pan for both of them and they were actually fairly simple cakes. The hardest parts where 1. making a round cake smooth and 2. getting a long, black fondant ribbon around the pokeball, which Finn helped me with!

Anyway, it was a bowling party and both kiddos had a blast, even though Korri was a little nervous because she "didn't know how to bowl!" Ha, no worries once she got there.



And here are the cakes and the birthday kids.

 

I was told the cakes tasted great (chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream) and that the birthday kiddos loved them. A success and so much fun!