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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: