Wednesday, January 25, 2012

christmas eve 2011

Holy Moley.  I'm about a month late on this one, eh? 

We had a fantastic Christmas this year.  I love Christmas Eve almost as much as I love Christmas day (I get that from my mom).  This year didn't disappoint.  We spent the early afternoon at the matinee, which has become a fun tradition.  Following the movie, we headed straight for Grandma's house for a celebration!

Every year it's the same:

Lots of fun family.
White elephant gift exchange.
Acting out the nativity.
Candles and Silent Night.
New pajamas!
Giddy children.  (I love that part!)

This year Kate was so excited to be Mary, especially when her best buddy Brayden played the part of Joseph.  And the star of the show?  Why, Mr. Samuel, of course.  He loved the spotlight!

Due to Grandpa's recent back surgery, Uncle Shawn took over the donkey duties this year.  

This year we added something new. . .an ugly Christmas sweater contest.  When he heard the news, my man immediately conjured up an idea.  I have to say he made a might handsome "cousin Eddy".  And, he took the grand prize. 


The highlight of the white elephant gifts was definitely Shawn's size 18 shoes.  In neon orange, no less!  It it not often that Shawn (who has worn a size 14 since about the 8th grade) encounters a pair of shoes that are too big!  In fact, Courtney asked him if he's ever found a pair of shoes that were too big for him, and he said "no, never"!  My mom found them at the DI.  They were so big she wrapped them in an orange box.  We had a good laugh that Uncle Shawn was the one who got them.

Finally, late in the evening, we said our goodbyes, and headed  home to set out our stockings and cookies for Santa. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

someday we may be doing this for real

These are the only surviving "bridal portraits" Emmy got of Claire.  Unfortunately, the card for the camera was full unbeknownst to Emmy, so we only have two out of the fifty or so she took.  The whole idea of it makes me laugh.  However, the thought that someday we may do taking bridal portraits of the girls makes me say a big holy cow!  I know they are growing up faster than I would like because Ryenne got her first invitation to an official Young Women's meeting.  Crazy for sure.

Speaking of future weddings, the man of the house has a great idea (thinks he).  He came up with a plan to schedule all four girls weddings in four days.  That way, they can each use the same decorations, the same dress, etc.  I suppose we'd have to splurge for fresh appetizers for each one which would be a bummer.  Always trying to save a penny, that guy.  He has yet to convince the girls of this fabulous idea.  I wish him the best of luck with that endeavor. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

they turn my frowns upside down

Last week I was (obviously) a little down.  Some day I will learn that I should never post anything until I give myself a few days to rebound.

Anyhow, one night we were sitting at dinner and I was feeling a little glum.  Sensing this, the girls asked me why I was sad.  Being the nutcase I am, I started crying.  Because, you know, everyone needs a good cry over a plate of spaghetti every now and again.  Lucky for me, I live amongst a gaggle of girls and they understand tears.  Them sisters know how to pull off a good cry.  As for the menfolk, at this wee age, the little one loves me regardless and the big one figured out how crazy I am years ago.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, he loves me anyway. 

Well.  I sat there and blubbered and my gang did what they did best.  They made me smile.  Courtney started off by telling me about how he'd found Emmy and Claire playing earlier.  Emmy was taking Claire's "bridal portraits" complete with a backdrop, dress, and a veil.  Then he went and got the camera to show me the spectacular results of their photo shoot.  He knew what he was doing.  Those pictures made me laugh alright.  They made us all laugh.

Next it was Ryenne's turn.  She reminded me about tender mercies, telling me something like this, "Whenever you feel sad, you just need to think of your tender mercies.  Like, if your sad because your house is dirty, it means that you're lucky to have a house.  And if your family is making you mad, you're lucky to have a family."  Then she explained, "I am learning that whenever I feel sad, I can almost always think of a tender mercy." 

She's right, you know. 

Kate followed it up by telling me how I am the best mom in the whole world, and she is so lucky to have a mom like me.  We both know I'm more than a little far from being the best mom in the whole world, but Kate is great at making sure I know that she knows I am trying my best.  That means a lot.  She's a sweetheart, that one.

To top it off, Emmy brought Samuel to me and said, "Here, hold Samuel for a while.  Holding him always makes me feel better."  Wise beyond her years, I say.

By the time dessert rolled around, I was feeling much better.  I tend to be a little dramatic, and I suppose I worry far too much about pretty much everything.  Thank goodness for a family who loves me in spite of myself and makes me smile through my tears.  I'll tell you what- right now I'm especially thankful for best, most favorite tender mercies. 

All six of  'em.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

my new normal?

Warning:  This may sound like I'm complaining, but really, I'm not.  I'm just wondering.  Out loud.

So, I spent my Christmas holiday in the ICU.  I've pondered what it is about those hospitals, and this is what I've decided.  It's the food that keeps me comin' back. 

(That part about the food was a joke.  Hee, hee?)

This is what happened.  I started having pains in my left side a few days before Christmas.  Having spent an entire day in the ER a few weeks before (this time for pains in my left side), only to undergo a handful of tests and to be sent home with another, "You've got a lot going on, good luck!" I chose not to ruin the few pre-Christmas days I had to spend with my kiddos and to forgo a trip to the doctor.  After all, I figured it would be the same 'ol unanswered questions.  Instead, I took a little ibuprofen, toughed things out, and sang Christmas songs.  It worked for two days.  Then, Christmas night I started to feel yucky.  Yuckier, that is. 

Once again, I put off going to the doctor because, well, I seem to be an unanswerable mystery and quite frankly it was the holidays and I preferred hanging out with my family in my pj's.  That IS what the holidays are for, you know.  I was determined to tough it out.  However, by Tuesday morning, I threw out a white flag and consented to see a doctor.  First, though we went to see our favorite pediatrician for Samuel's four month well check (which he passed with flying colors).  Then, off to Instacare for a "quick-in-and-out-antibiotic-stop".

Turns out, it wasn't so quick.  First of all, I felt miserable.  I laid on the table, shivering under two coats and one of Samuel's blankets and was told I had a kidney infection.  Just as I was ready to head home, the doctor decided I didn't look so hot and maybe they should give me some IV fluids, some Tylenol, and a shot of antibiotics (to be administered in an undisclosed location).  After the first liter of fluids, he still didn't think I looked so hot.  My temperature kept getting higher and my blood pressure lower.  Not really what they were looking for.  After the third liter of fluid and a round of IV antibiotics?  I still felt like crap (sorry mom for the choice of words, but it's true).

Long story shorter, he ended up calling the hospital, who informed him that I was probably developing sepsis and they were going to send an ambulance.  (Another word we've since added to our vocabulary).   Because I had been planning on a quick in-and-out, I hadn't told him about the whole I-almost-died-in-September story, because you know, it gets kind of old.  At this point, I decided I'd better mention it.  He kind of freaked out a little, something about sepsis can lead DIC (my previous adventure). 

They loaded me onto the stretcher and I could plainly see everyone panicking.  Again.  It kind of felt like September all over again, minus the bleeding all over and the helicopter ride.  As we arrived at the hospital, the doctors were waiting at the door and saying words like, "really sick girl" and "ICU".  All I could think was that I was letting my family down.  Again.  It was Christmas break, after all.  We had plans.

In the end, we cancelled all our plans and the kids spent the holidays playing with cousins. 

This is what I've been wondering since I've gotten home.  They tell me to cut back, but I don't know how.  I thought I had.  The old me got tired and overwhelmed, but when I did, I simply worked harder.  That always seemed to fix things.  The old me (and maybe the hard part is I still think this way) thought that if things weren't going the way I wanted, it was because I wasn't doing enough.  The old me used to love to run, and when I'd get tired I knew I just needed to keep on trucking and eventually I'd get to the finish line.  When things needed to be done, I'd make a list and plow through it.  When something was wrong, I'd find a way to fix it.  For the first time in my life, it seems like pushing harder and digging deeper isn't working.

I don't know what to do with the new me.   

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining.  Really, I don't.  I'm so thankful to be here.  After each round of examinations and tests, I hear doctors tell me I'm a mystery.  I told someone the other day that I'd rather be a mystery than a memory.  And I really do.  I've just got some figuring out to do. 

This past October, I remember that Elder Robert D. Hales said something that struck me funny.  He said that we tend to pray for patience, but we want it right now!  That is me in a nutshell.  I feel like I'm willing to do whatever Heavenly Father wants me to do, but I have an awfully hard time not being invited to the planning meeting.  I just want to know what is on the agenda, please!  The other day I saw a sign that read something like this, "Relax, take a deep breath, and pretend this was part of the lesson plan." 

Heavenly Father, I just want you to know.  I'm really trying.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

wrapping up a year

Merry Christmas!

I say this every year, but wow- the year has flown by. What an exciting one it has been! We started out the new year with the exiting news that we were expecting another baby. Yeah! And then to our wondering eyes, we beheld it was going to be a boy! Holy cow- who would have thunk? (Not us!) But we were sure excited to have a little man join our crew of rascals.

Let’s see, what else happened this year?
A trip to Disneyland.
Some fun family reunions.
Mom threw up lots. (whoops! Too much information?)
Dad worked hard as ever.

Ryenne has done growned up on us! What we want to know is how in the heck do we stop this growing up business? What’s new? Intermediate school, flute, & lots of funny. (maybe the funny part ain’t so new?) This one is developing quite a sense of humor and can be a lot of fun. She’s trying to convince mom to wear mascara. Hmmm. No, but thanks for asking, says mom. We‘ve had to consolidate our bedroom real estate and she now shares a room with Kate. She is not so happy about it but has resigned herself to her “hard knock life“ (most days). Such is life. . .

Kater bugs. . . She and Emmy have moved to a new school this year and are handling the change quite gracefully. The best part? The girls all get on the bus at our house this year. Hip, hip, hooray! Kate loves her teacher this year (who calls Kate her “voracious reader“). Her determination makes us shake our heads every now and then! She still likes to stand on her head, loves a good joke, and has a heart as big as her vocabulary.

Miss Emmy is now in school all day. First grade! She’s waited her whole life for this moment, and just a few weeks ago decided it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. At least, that’s what we are suspectin’ on account of the awful tummy aches she seems to have every morning (but miraculously disappear once the bus pulls out). Her favorite thing is teaching Claire school, which is fantastic except for the part about Claire only having a one minute attention span. Poor little sister is forever being sent to detention.

Which brings us to Claire. Oh, Claire. She turned three this summer and will be heading into big kid primary in a few weeks. Heaven help who ever is doing sharing time, that’s what we say! The other day I realized that she is going to be “that kid” in primary. You know the one. She doesn’t have a shy bone in her little body and always has lots to say. Needless to say, she makes me laugh every. single. day.

As for Mr. Samuel, he’s captured our hearts. He arrived on his Daddy’s birthday, August 25th weighing in at 8 lb, 10 oz. He is growing waaaay too fast for our liking. He has a smile that can’t be beat and is a pretty sweet little guy. His coming into our family has already taught us more than we ever imagined. Our little family is now complete!

If you’re getting this letter, you probably already know about our adventures following Samuel’s birth. What’s a good year without a near death experience, anyway? While our experience following Samuel’s birth has been challenging in many ways, we know that it has blessed our family too. We have become more aware than ever that while there are lots of things that matter in life, there are only a few things that REALLY matter. I often think back through those last minutes before I headed into surgery. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t make it.

Moments like that tend to pull things into focus in a hurry. When everything is said and done, the only things that matter are our relationships. . .with our family, our Father in Heaven, and our Savior. This coming year, we hope to do a better job at making the most of those relationships that REALLY matter.

Most importantly - We couldn’t end this year without telling you how overwhelmingly thankful we are for all of you. We have received more than we can ever repay. We know we have seen miracles as a result of many, many prayers. Every time we had a need, someone stepped in and filled it. We know the only thing we can do to repay your kindness is to pay it forward to those we see in need. Thank you for teaching us so very much.

Like we said, what a year! This past year has brought many blessings, taught us countless lessons, and will be remembered as a sacred time for our family. We hope the new year finds you well. We thank our Heavenly Father every day for all of the good things in our life, including you!

Love the Wood family,
Courtney, Kelly, Ryenne, Kate, Emmy, Claire, and Samuel

This is our one and only chance at mortal life- here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the Earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you to not let those most important things pass you by. -President Thomas S. Monson

four months

Four months.  I can't believe it. 

What a time we've had.  A year ago, we were just finding out 2011 would be bringing us a baby.  Now, Mr. Samuel is here and the whole bunch of us are completely smitten.  We're in love, through and through.

At four months, Samuel is a pretty happy guy.  Actually, he's been that way from the beginning.  In fact, he has a little split in his bottom lip (I'm not sure how it got there), and I can't get it to heal because he smiles so wide all the time it keeps it from healing.  Grandma Jones says he is an "engaging baby", and says he just knows how to draw people in.  When he smiles, we love how he smiles with his entire body!  Sparkling eyes, big 'ol grin, and cheeks that make you want to squeeze him all over.

He's quite the guy. 

Most of the time, he's pretty content to hang out.  Unless he's hungry, that is!  He takes his food seriously and his growth curve shows it.  All my wishes that he'll stay a little baby foe as long as possible aren't coming true, but his cute little body and all it's accompanying rolls make it hard for me to be sad.  Right now, he loves to lay on his little mat and swat at the toys hanging above.  He hasn't yet made the move to roll over, but he is pretty observant with everything around him and thinks his exersaucer is pretty awesome.  Most of all, he loves to be cuddled (and we love to comply!).  He is happy to be sitting on one of his big sisters laps (Ryenne has taken to calling him her "little chunk of sweetness") or lay wrapped up in a blanket in mom or dad's arms.  I laughed the other day when I walked into the kitchen to see him sitting on his daddy's lap looking at videos on the computer of some big drilling equipment.  Samuel had both of his hands out on the edge of the desk and was leaning toward the computer like all the "quipment" (as his daddy used to say when he was a little man) was the coolest thing he's ever seen.  I'm not sure which one of the boys was more enthralled.  One thing is for sure, his Daddy can't wait to take him along on the job and show him how all those big rigs work! 

It's confirmed.  Our little Samuel is growing. . .out of his clothes and deeper into our hearts all the time.  We love this little guy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

a tasty tradition

i think there are days when little man wonders what he got himself into

cookie party 2011

Along with the rest of the holidays, Grandma's famous cookie party came and went too quickly.  Each year, it proves to be a favorite night for all the kids.  They love seeing their cousins, decorating cookies, and always look forward to seeing the Big Guy.  Grandma always invites Santa Claus, and while we never know for sure that he'll be able to make an appearance (he's pretty busy this time of year, you see), he hasn't disappointed yet. 

I love to watch the faces of all the little ones when they hear the bells jingling as he makes his grand appearance!  This year, Claire was busy decorating cookies when her hard work was interrupted by the arrival of the man in the red suit.  As soon as she realized what was happening, she made a bee line for him.  I loved watching her follow along as he made his way downstairs, jumping up and down and talking a million miles a minute to him the whole way.

The girl loves her some Santa Claus!

Everyone in attendance looks forward to the chance to sit on Santa's knee and receive their coveted bag of goodies.  Even better than the treats that usually fill the bag, the kids and adults alike wait with excitement to see the special ornament that Santa brings each year.  We are all amazed by the perfect fit of each ornament- as it always depicts something special about that person's life the previous year.  On thing's for certain, Santa and his helpers are pretty spot on when it comes to special events like this.

Fortunately, our entire household was deemed worthy to sit on the "nice" knee.  (The cousins usually take a vote whether you've earned the "naughty or nice" side.)  I was especially satisfied in their rousing support of my good behavior.  It helps to be a little under the weather, I've decided.  If nothing else, I was granted parole on account of a seeming sense of widespread sympathy.  I'll take what I can get.

Once again, the cookie party is deemed a highlight of the Christmas season.  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!