Thursday, December 27, 2007

best kept secrets

We are unwinding from Christmas & just thought it would be fun to sit down and write about some of the best kept secrets this Christmas.



First the easel that we brought home from Chicago for Isabella while she was in the car. It rode just behind her seat the entire way home without her finding out about it. We also bought one for my niece Makayla. They were both very happy with their gifts and loved drawing and pretending to teach school. Here they are practicing their names.









A fish tank from my cousin Steve and his wife Jane. A big surprise for mom and dad too! :) It came complete with week long feeders for when you go on vacation, decorative rocks, and a pump. The kids will have so much fun having a pet again. I think we can handle a few fish.











And the best surprise of all was one I am completely amazed I never leaked out. I'm not the best secret keeper....especially keeping them from Donovan. Let me explain...... a couple of weeks ago my cousin Jon called and asked if I had gotten anything for Donovan for Christmas yet. The amazing part was that the kids were packed in the car and I had my coat ready to go out the door to go and try to find him something that very day. Well Jon (my cousin) had a great idea to have me buy a ticket for the Capitol One Bowl game that is being played in Orlando, FL on January 1st. U of Michigan is playing Orlando. AND Donovan LOVES Michigan Football!!! Perfect! Jon was planning to surprise his dad and brother with tickets and wanted for Donovan to go too. The tickets were very expensive so he offered to pay 1/2. But then Jon called back later that week and said he found tickets for less than 1/2 of what he originally told me. So Isabella had his name in the exchange for the Gingerich Christmas and she helped me make a little poster telling him what he would be doing as his Christmas present. Isabella is very good at keeping secrets and it was so fun!



In the picture above notice Jon, his brother who is standing in anticipation to see Donovan's reaction. He was very jealous, I mean excited for Donovan.





Here is the reaction.....and oh, so worth every cent. He kept saying all day....I can't believe I get to go to the Michigan game. He kept rubbing in to Jon (his brother) He would lay back and stretch out, pretend to take a nap and say, "I'm just gonna lay back and dream about the BIG game on Jan. 1st!"


And for Christmas from my aunt and uncle, they rented a condo for our family and all of theirs!! There will be 12 of us all together. They are paying for everything including all of the food while we are there!!! I still can't believe it, We are very excited!! We are leaving tomorrow morning and will be there one week. We are staying in St. Augustine, and then on New Year's Day the guys will make the drive to Orlando for the game.



And so this is what the house looks like at this moment. Piles, Piles, Piles, everywhere! Very exciting....but a lot of work. It will be worth it....right?! I mean the 20 hour ride in the car, the possible car sick boy getting car sick, the potty pants needing to go potty, and don't even remind me of the boy who couldn't go poo in the rest stop last week.


So....back to work, diapers, sunscreen, shorts, t-shirts, swimsuits, buckets & shovels, toothbrushes, snacks, buckets for throwing up --for people who get car sick, flip flops, p.j.'s, sippy cups, 144 DVD's, and what else am I forgetting?






Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas

Suzanna 17 mo., William 3 yrs., Isabella 7 yrs., Jack 5 yrs.

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends. Hope you had a great day spent with those you love.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chicago

Several weeks ago we had planned a day trip to Chicago, however we had to postpone the trip due to my surgery. Finally the day came and we packed them all up and headed out.

Our first stop was The Rainforest Cafe. Isabella's classroom at school has a rainforest theme, and her class is decorated like a rainforest, and they have been learning different facts about them. So when Isabella's teacher found out we were going to the Cafe, she gave us 4 free coupons for FREE kids meals! I LIKE FREE!







As you walk in there are fish aquariums everywhere. They are full of exotic fish and neat shells. The kids had fun looking at these uniquely shaped aquariums.

Here is one of the aquariums that is a huge see through tunnel overhead. Suzy was amazed! There were so many neat things there to see. Monkeys hanging from the ceiling, gorillas, and different animals that would come to life every 20 minutes or so. There was also a reactment of thunderstorms every once in a while. Ike


Here is the crew....trying to figure out what to choose to eat. There was a huge assortment of different foods. Jack choose mini hot dogs and fries, William choose mac and cheese with garlic bread, and Isabella had char broiled hamburgers with applesauce. When eating out we usually get one meal and all of the kids split the food. But since we had 4 free coupons they each had their own. Again, I LIKE FREE!








Suzanna had fun eating popcorn shrimp for the first time, she was eating off of her plate like a puppy and then laughing so hard about it. Of course we all laughed too. Isabella went over to show her how to eat like a lady with a fork. It's so fun to see these two interact and enjoy being sisters.










After stuffing ourselves we went to Ikea. There were a couple of last minute gifts we wanted to pick up & wanted to spend a little time day dreaming at all the cool stuff.
We let the kids play a little while Donovan quickly purchased an easel for Isabella's Christmas present and then went to hide it in the back of the van. What a deal! You can see it here. Only $19.99. It has a dry erase board on one side and chalkboard on the other.



While waiting for Donovan who was making the secret purchase....the kids put on a puppet show.









Hard to believe...but we forgot the stroller again...just like on our last trip we took! But Suzy adjusted to our neglect and finally fell asleep in the cart laying on a blanket that I would've loved to keep for our bedroom. But at $40....I decided we probably ought to save that for more important things like.....












ICECREAM! The kids did pretty well with being carted all over the store for 2 hours. They managed to keep the whining and fighting to a minimum. I'm not sure what we were thinking....(well we were not thinking- actually) but our shopping extravaganza was right during the usual nap time for the 2 youngest. We took our time in the morning getting ready, and decided right from the beginning of the day to relax and enjoy the day. So that put our shopping at a hard time. But despite our poor planning the kids did well. So we had a treat of ice cream.






And then on the way home we stopped for a bite to eat. We were all done and ready to head back for the last leg of the 3 hour drive. And Jack has to go to the bathroom. I was meanwhile waiting with the girls. And waiting....and waiting. After 15 minutes I was wondering if I had missed Donovan and he had pulled the van up to the door. SO I called him. He answered the cell phone, "Yep, still in the bathroom" So the girls and I waited in the L O N G line at Gloria Jeans for an iced mocha and a cream cheese danish. Funny the man in line behind me commented on the long line and then added, "I hope you are getting one of those mixed iced drinks that take a long time to make"
Why, yes, sir I am.



















And if you get the chance you really should try the Sleigh ride iced mocha....it really is worth the $5! And finally after 25 long minutes in the public restroom at the truck stop- Jack came out of the bathroom crying because he couldn't go poop because it hurt. WOW! Great.
And can I add that 15 minutes down the road, William had to go potty? That is after he went 2 times at the rest stop. Luckily we had a pop bottle in the car he could use.




Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas bliss......Christmas kiss.....



I feel like I have neglected all of my blogger friends....So tonight just a short tidbit & tomorrow I promise a better post with fun pictures from a very fun trip to Chicago we took today.

We are in the midst of Christmas bliss! As all of you I'm sure are also. It has been a fun filled week and I thought I'd share just a few highlights from yesterday.

I spent a little time on Friday at the school helping with Christmas Parties. Here is Jack with his friend Madelyne. All the kindergartners brought in a small gift for each classmates. Jack had great time going through all of his "treasures" when he got home from school.


And Isabella's class did a gift exchange. She got a bubble gumball machine with an extra package of gumballs, just to make sure she would rot all of her teeth out, that haven't fallen out on their own. She was very excited about her gift, along with a few of her classmates. One boy told her "you are the luckiest in the whole class, Isabella!!"
It is so fun to be at school with them and see how each of our children interact with their friends. I also love to get to know these little people I hear so much about.
More tomorrow I promise...but for now , to bed for me.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

suzy q

videoPush play to see what the little 17 month old is saying.....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

let it snow....let it snow....let it snow......

Back in the saddle.....and goin' on a date. Last night Donovan's regional manager invited his sales reps and service reps to his house for appetizers and then we went downtown Kalamazoo for dinner here .


There were about 6 couples who went...here is 1/2 of the table. I'm not sure what was more exciting.....leaving the house- going on a date, getting to eat at a nice restaurant for free, or just being on my feet again. It felt so good to eat!!! My throat is making huge improvements every day and it's such a great feeling to be almost back to myself. What a journey! We rode to K-zoo with Travis and Kristin and of course our friends made it even more fun. Travis was his usual sarcastic self.
My sister came to our house and watched the kids for us....which was so nice to have them all tucked into bed when we got home! Thanks Holly!!
And today.....how fun to wake up to over a foot of snow!! Church is cancelled & we enjoyed being snowed in.



Donovan took the kids out and shoveled the drive and walks.....the kids had a blast!! With the exception of William who was sleeping inside because he woke up sick. Yes, Friends William started the day throwing up....about 6 times. Poor guy looked absolutely pitiful! He was so pale and just laid in the chair looking pathetic. We just can't seem to get everyone healthy at once!
Thankfully tonight William is looking better and playing....back to eating and keeping it down.



The girls on a sled ride.
Hope you are snug and warm and enjoying a nice evening being snowed in.




Saturday, December 15, 2007

he makes life fun



Oh how God has blessed us. So many times I thank God for Donovan…daily actually. He makes our home so fun. Just now he is finishing up breakfast with the little ones and singing praise and worship songs while he is doing it. Making funny little whistles and different renditions of songs. Just making life fun. He keeps the mood light and fun. What a blessing our children have to have a dad that is so connected to them emotionally. I still crave that from my dad sometimes. But alas it was not to be.

Hope you don’t mind if I brag a bit more about him….He is building beds for the girls and since I’m not quite up to 100% he left at 5:00 a.m. so he could use his uncle’s wood shop and do his work while everyone slept. He was back by 8:00 when they usually wake up. Just to give me a break. And THEN….made biscuits and gravy and a special side order of French toast just for me (because it’s kinda hard for me to swallow meat still) Is he amazing or what!??? He is the best! He gives so unconditionally and loves me so much. What a blessing it is to have a man like this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

perks



I'm beginning to enjoy this.....I mean who wouldn't? Beautiful friends bringing beautiful meals, and Grandma called yesterday and asked to take the kids for the day.





Please allow me to elaborate on the delicious meal brought in tonight. Sweet friend Crystal sent her handsome husband Trent over with her contribution to my speedy recovery. However I was a little blushed to see him standing on the doorstep- rather than Crystal for the fact that I have not washed/combed my hair since Saturday. And the fact that I hadn't bothered myself to get dressed all day. After all, I was busy recovering.





So anyway the meal....stroganof with baked biscuits on top, green beans with slivered almonds, cinnamon applesauce, AND delicious cookies and cream ice cream. It was a perfect blend of soft, easy to swallow, colorful, and scrumptious food.





I have really appreciated all of my friends during this time. Nothing brightens my day more than spending time catching up with friends who love you and are concerned, and it was so nice to spend some time on the phone today. And then some of those who live close and bless us with meals-is just icing on the cake.





And what would I do without Donovan's mom at this time? She actually volunteered to take the kids today. And then sent home cinnamon rolls!! It really doesn't get any better than that. Unless of course they would let me keep their recliner, which by the way I haven't removed myself from since the one week they brought it over for me to borrow.





So now we just need Jack to recover....still coughing, still running fever. Tonight's high was 103.7 and I'm a little nervous about getting that fever. Because of course a fever would not sit well with me right now. We have tried to keep touching to a minimum, with the exception of last night when he thought he needed to be right in the same recliner with me, under the same blanket, with the occasional groan. The groans were to make sure that I still realized he wasn't feeling good. And just in case you think he's on his last leg.....let me assure you that when he is dosed up on Motrin/Tylenol he is up to fighting with big sister and little brother. And the saga continues......More than anything the kids really need mama back and rollin'. Too many days with me sitting in the same chair, and I have just felt a little guilty because they all are showing signs of mama neglect. But today was I was feeling better and I'm getting back to how I was. Hopefully tomorrow will show more signs of normality for all involved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

energy

And this is why I am not up to taking care of little people by myself yet.....do you see all of the energy? Do you see it? They cook up little ideas in those cute little heads and run with them. This was not taken today....but a few weeks ago. But let me assure you they have every bit of energy that they did in this picture.

I started out today with high hopes of being back in the saddle...but breakfast wore me out. School was delayed again, and all 4 were here, and since I was searching in the section on the kitchen that was labeled soft and warm, I came up with Cream of Wheat. I was feeling o.k. and working on filling the 5 bowls with the warm porridge, trying to eat slowly and carefully all the while trying to keep the boys from making inappropriate noises. But it got louder, the ears started throbbing, and then we missed the bus. My ears are super sensitive right now due to the swelling from the tonsilectamy. So I took pain medication and on that I can not drive. I called Donovan home and a friend took Isabella to school.

Back to bed for me. Which is not a bad place to be when you are seeing double and feeling like your floating from some really good pain medication that works well for the pain I was having.

So it's still recovery week here and I'm a little weary of all the sitting around, but I'm seeing progress every day and hope to be back to 100% soon. If I could only bottle up my 2 boys' energy and take a swig.





Monday, December 10, 2007

swimming in sour cream

Tonight we enjoyed the talents of our friend Kristin who prepared us a meal. I’m not kidding when I say I enjoyed that meal more than anything I have had all year long!!! I called the Dr. office today and they said that I could go ahead and start some warm foods that are soft today. What a perfect meal to start with. The chicken was baked with breading on top and was oh so very wonderful. It was very tender and easy to swallow. The potatoes were baked and let me tell you I had them swimming in butter and sour cream...just to make them slide down better. Then peas (we cooked extra long) and warm rolls were a perfect combination. I mean it when I say, “THE BEST!” And then she brought finger jello cut into Christmas cookie shapes, along with flavor ice Popsicles..... AND cookies…you know the cute little butter cookies that come out of a little press. And they were all delightfully decorated.

Today the pain is better, gets a little bit better each day. Just getting a little discouraging to keep needing help with the kids. I’m not quite up to all the energy that they require. And the kids need the smack put down for sure after running over Grandma all day. School was cancelled due to the weather, so it was a long day. Besides the kids are all hacking with a cough that is relentless. Thank goodness Grandma Elsie was so kind to come in and help again today. She did laundry, changed sheets, cleaned bathrooms, and took care of the kids. What a blessing. Now for tomorrow. Hmmm???


But things are looking up after that meal. It was so good to enjoy such a well thought, well prepared, and scrumptious meal. Thanks Kristin you rock!




And here is a picture of the famous chef Kristin. This was taken in April 2006 when we were in Palm Beach on vacation. Our husbands won a trip for work and yes, we are pregnant....we were just about 4 weeks apart. Although Kristin was smaller than me and she was due before me. My favorite part of the trip was when Travis warned us of going in the pool at the same time...because he was afraid the 2 beached whales would drain the water out if we both jumped.
Man, I can't stand that guy.
Just kidding T-bone.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

on the mend

Back from under the knife...and glad to be rid of 2 little nasty tonsils. The whole experience went as well as it could've and I was very impressed with the out patient surgery center that I was at. The nurses were so good and the IV went in as well as I ever had done. The surgeon told Donovan that the tonsils were nasty and badly infected and the worst he had seen in a while. So that makes this all feel so much more worth it. The nurse had told me that during surgery you swallow blood and that I will feel better when I throw that up. I hadn't thrown up the 4 hours of recovery, So lucky for me I got to do that on the way home. I was glad the nurse told me it may be red or even black. Otherwise I would've been really freaked out to be throwin' out black. It hit me hard 5 times, and then felt better.


I was glad to make it home by the time Isabella got off of the bus. She was pretty worried about mama. She doesn't do well when things are out of the routine...and had tears about someone else taking her to school, etc. So anyways yesterday I used the white board rather than talking...and this little sweetie wrote me..."Just for you mama. You are the best mom in the whole world." She's a snuggler and was the best medicine to be cozy next to her in the recliner. I didn't realize until after surgery when the nurse told me that I couldn't lay flat due to the swollen uvula in my throat, at least for a couple days until the swelling goes down. Steroids for that. So thanks to Donovan's dad that brought me up their recliner to have. I mean borrow. :) I love it. It has been very comfortable to sleep in, and when I get too cold one of the kids turn on the fireplace. Magical. Esp. with the drugs I have for pain. AND THERE IS LOTS OF PAIN. I had another round of throwing up later in the evening last night.....but for today the pain has been better. I'm not allowed anything warm or hot to eat or drink....that has been a down side to all of this. Because nothing sounds more soothing to me right now than a cup of tea or a bowl of soup. But only cold soft foods for one week. Due to the fact that the warm food or drink could open the scabs that are forming on the back of my throat. And these wonderful people are bringing wonderful things to eat...But don't worry I am hiding them so I can get my share later. :)
And look at this....the kids stopped running and chasing each other around the house...long enough to lotion my legs after my bath. Heavenly. Even though it lasted all of 2 minutes. They are great kids and make my day sitting in the same chair all day a little easier. They are entertaining. And to the best husband in the world....who comes whenever I ring my little bell. Because right now I can't yell.
I have so much to be thankful for.....meals brought in today, my husband who takes such great care of me, my kids who give me so much joy, a surgery that went well, daily healing, and friends like you that support and encourage me. All gifts from GOD.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

under the knife

Well from the looks of yesterdays post y' all have realized that I am feeling much better after this last round of strep....I finished my last portion of antibiotic on Sunday and can still feel the effects of it because I feel great. Thank goodness last weeks strep episode didn't hit me as hard as in November because that round of strep left me beggin' for mercy. I had never been that sick in my life.

So now I am a bakin' fool. There is nothing like a surgery to motivate one to kick it in to high gear and get r' done. I'm am so thankful to have finished my baking and shopping and from here on out it's recovering from the knife in my throat feeling. Trust me I'm not trying to brag about the shopping and baking being done. Just plain happy to have it ready to go. Because I'm thinking this may take a little while to recover from.

And I will report I've had 4 c-sections, 1 kidney stone removed, and 1 appendectomy. I've never been this apprehensive about surgery. The c-sections were easy for me for the fact I got a huge grand prize at the end. I always looked forward to meeting the baby and the baby was a welcome distraction from all the pain. And the kidney stone and appendectomy were emergency so I didn't have much time to agonize over the pain about to happen. And I realize I'm not the first person to under go this kind of surgery, I will probably be just fine. I just have the night before jitters.

And sweet Jack has been having sympathy pains for dear ol' mama as he has been running a fever, coughing, and has a sore throat for the last 3 days. Tonight it was up to 101.9! So he's been home from school, waiting to brake the fever. Most of the time he is up and around and playing some, but not eating much- unless of course there is chocolate.



And let me tell you there was ALOT of chocolate today! Mama Gingerich, sister-in-law Arlene and I got together again this year to make chocolates. A tradition 2nd year running. I managed to even get 4 cream cheese danishes made.


William who begged to take a picture, shot this one of dear sick brother dripping infectious fever germs on the chocolate covered peanut butter crackers.



And here is sicky pants holding Suzy in front of all the beautiful things Arlene did today. She is a fancy one I tell you. Double Chocolate Oreo Truffles....are in the front and let me tell you they are sinful. Just plain sinful. They have a perfect texture inside and are just out of this world.


So off to getting ready for the big day tomorrow. The surgery is at an outpatient surgery center in Goshen at 8:45. No eating from midnight on, no water or even gum in the morning--so I'm already feeling sorry for the Doctor for the fact that my breath will probably cause him to reconsider his "no gum" rule on surgery day.

Monday, December 3, 2007

cinnamon rolls anyone?

I've never been able to master making Cinnamon rolls, they always burnt on the bottom, or didn't bake in the middle, or they were too sweet, etc.....



And it's always been frustrating for me because I REALLY love cinnamon rolls. Until about 2 years ago Donovan's mom convinced me to try again with her recipe. And presto, they turned out and were wonderful!

Of course whenever I start something in the kitchen, someone hears me and wants to "help." That is a nice thought dear, but unless you can reach the counter without a stool you really are not "helping." Again for the record just thinking that- not saying it. And if you have toddlers at home, you know what I mean. But I was feeling soft and loving tonight & let the little ones "help".....and before I knew it all 3 were there to "help." More clean up and it took way longer, but ahhhh the memories. I remember my mama taking the time to let me help her in the kitchen, and have good memories of it. Like the time I was helping my mama and leaned over the mixer to eat more cake batter and getting my hair stuck in the beaters that were beating the cake mix. Ahhhh. True story, she had to cut my hair out of the tangled beaters, mixed with chocolate cake mix.

Jack seriously used ALL of my cinnamon on the rolls....He is so quick and I was busy getting something. And if you live in my neighborhood you might have a little more cinnamon than you usually bargain for in a roll. (because these rolls are gifts for the neighbors)



Isabella really can help....she can stick with the project and enjoys being helpful. She is 7 1/2 and I do appreciate a good hand in the kitchen.

Notice Dad in the background frantically cleaning up William, meanwhile saying..."I just gave you a bath, how can you get so dirty?" That is another reason I don't mind letting the kids help, I've got back up tonight.




Ahhh, you can almost smell them can't you??


And now I think they have cooled off enough to try one. Here is the recipe if you want an easy, homemade, & impressive gift this Christmas season.


Thanks mom Gingerich for encouraging me to not give up.



Cinnamon Rolls


3 T. yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup margarine

3 cups milk, scalded

5 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

11-12 cups flour


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Put margarine in milk after it is scalded. Set aside until lukewarm. Beat eggs and sugar. Add salt, yeast, milk and flour. (the dough will be quite sticky.) Do not knead. Let rise until doubled. Roll out half the dough, brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll up and cut into cinnamon rolls. Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until done. Cool slightly, frost.





free iPod

Just a quick post today to let you in on a cool contest.....Focus on the Family is giving away 3 iPods every day until December 7th. All you have to do is watch a little video and listen for the "word" of the day. Enter the contest with your name, address, etc. and the "word" of the day. Good Luck! Here is the link.