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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blog Challenge...2008 in Review

Blog Challenge for the week of 12/28--

As 2008 comes to a close, take some time to reflect on the past year. Tell us about accomplishments and triumphs, good times and bad times. What will be most memorable for you about 2008?

As I am thinking about 2008, many things come to mind. I'm not sure where to start...there have been plenty of happy times, sad times, hectic times and relaxing times (the hectic times far outweigh the relaxing times!):o] The one thing I am sure of is that there is never enough time and 2008 has passed me by way to fast. We started out the year with Joey having his fundo surgery in January. We were very nervous about this procedure but by God's grace, everything went well and it turned out to be one of the best things we ever did for him. His fundo remains intact, his reflux is under control and we now only have to see his pediatric G.I. once a year. He still takes one Prevacid solutab every other day, but this sure beats the heck out of 3 different meds 3 times a day prior to the surgery. Having his reflux under control also means less sinus infections for Joey. Joey feeling good equals happy Joey which equals happy mommy and daddy. January through July usually passes in a blur around here. With John and Tommie's school and sports schedules, someone is always at basketball practice, playing in a basketball tourney, at indoor or outdoor baseball practice, or playing in a baseball game or tournament. From the first part of April til the latter part of July, our weekends are filled with baseball, baseball, and more baseball. It is hectic, but a lot of fun to watch them play. Throw in school, holidays, Joey's therapy schedule, riding Sparky once a week from May thru October, household chores and other general daily activities you could say we have our hands full but our hearts are bursting. There is a tiny little breather of about 2 weeks from the end of baseball until football practice and school starts in August. We use this time to get ourselves in gear for the next phase of the year. August thru December passes quickly too ~ I have to admit I was nervous about how I was going to get 4 kids up, ready and out the door for school. It took a couple of weeks, but we managed to settle into a pretty good routine although there are still a couple days a week when Joey and Emma are a few minutes late for school but we make it. One of the biggest highlights of the year was when Joey and I were able to travel to Chicago for the CdLS Foundation's National Conference. Oh my gosh ~ this was one of the best experiences of my life. I only wish our whole family could have attended but unfortunately the weekend coincided with state baseball tournaments. It was such a pleasure to meet other CdLS families and be in a place where other kids have the exact same syndrome Joey does. In a way, it was like coming home. Everyone was so nice and the connections we made with the other families will be something I will carry with me forever. I can't wait for Dallas in 2010 and I am going to make every effort for our whole family to be there next time. If you are a CdLS family reading this and have never been to a conference, please consider going to the next one. It is worth the trip and will be a life changing experience. John, the girls, our family friend Brandon and I also made a weekend trip to Kansas City this summer for John's baseball tournament. Shawn and Joey were in Lincoln the same weekend with Tommie for a tournament. We had fun and traveling the five hour car trip went pretty well considering the girls were along. My 20 year high school reunion also fell on this same weekend so I missed that. I will have to catch up with the old friends at the 25 year I guess. See what I mean ~ our summer weekends are full, full, full but I wouldn't have it any other way.
One of the things I am most excited about in 2008 is that Joey has finally taken some steps on his own! He is so, so close to walking it is just amazing. We can hold one of his hands and he will walk beside us for a few steps ~ getting stronger and surer of himself everyday! Last week at his therapy session, he took about 10 steps between his PT and OT. We were all so excited! But whether he walks on his own in 2009 or 2019 we will wait and take it a day at a time. And watch out because I have a feeling when the day comes that he does walk on his own, he will be running and there will be no stopping him!
And now for some important lessons I've learned in 2008:
1. I would rather be without a dryer than a washing machine. At least the clothes get clean and can dry on their own when hung around the house ~ eventually! ;o)
2. Do not put Dawn diswashing liquid in the dishwasher if I am out of Cascade unless I want the kids taking a bubble bath in the kitchen.
3. Household appliances break in 3's. i.e. dishwashers, dryers, and refrigerators. (refrigerator story to come in later post)
4. Always have ketchup in the house.
5. It is okay to have a ketchup packet collection in the cupboard for ketchup emergencies.
6. A dog will chew up eyeglasses.
7. Eyeglasses cannot be worn properly after being chewed by a dog.
8. No matter how well we think our outdoor Christmas decorations are secured, they will still blow over.
9. Outdoor Christmas decorations will stay lit when lying face down on the ground.
10. When you drop a camera on the floor in an airport it can be duct taped back together and still work ~ sort of.
11. Never go anywhere without duct tape.
12. A band aid will solve a lot of life's mishaps in little girl's lives even when there is no scratch to see.
13. Never run out of band aids.
14. Baby wipes have 1001 uses ~ they aren't just for stinky pants anymore!
15. If your 15 year old son performs a system recovery to try to get the computer to work better, make sure he saves all information and pictures first or you lose everything. Everything. And you will make yourself crazy trying to figure out how to get it all back.
16. Do not allow your 15 year old son to perform a system recovery when you are not home.
17. And finally, if someone has to nail a dresser to the floor, you should know it is for a good reason.

Stay tuned for highlights from Christmas coming soon! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Annual Christmas Letter Time!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours! We hope everyone has had a happy and healthy 2008! Wow ~ has this year flown by or what? We have had quite a busy year around here. Of course with 5 kids there is hardly ever a dull moment ~ and if there is we have to find out what they are up to!
John turned 15 in July. And 15 = learner’s permit. Yes, our baby is driving! He does a pretty good job of it and gets behind the wheel every chance he gets. He also started high school this fall. The task of putting ourselves in high school mode and adjusting to having a freshman in the house went pretty smoothly. John was confirmed at our church in the spring, graduated 8th grade and finished up 5 years of playing for his club baseball team. They had a great season ~ they placed 2nd at State and got 1st place in a tournament in Kansas City. His freshman football team won their conference title, finishing 7-2 for the season. He is now in the midst of basketball season and will play baseball again in the spring. He is surviving 6 and 7am practices, weightlifting and a heavy class schedule. And thankfully, so are we.
Tommie will be 13 in January. This means there will officially be 2 teenagers in the house. He started 7th grade and has adjusted well to his second year of middle school. Tommie keeps busy with various sports activities too. He is playing basketball with his club team again and will also play for the 7th grade team in January. His first passion is baseball and he got the opportunity to play on a husker league this fall. He really enjoyed it ~ he got to meet a lot of the Husker baseball players and get some one on one advice from the coaches. It was a fun experience ~ except for traveling to Lincoln on Sundays for 6 weeks straight! :o) Tommie is still active in his club baseball team and keeps us laughing with his great sense of humor.
Joey is now 4 ½ years old. If we held a contest for which boy has the busiest schedule, his would be strong contender. He attends preschool 4 mornings a week and finished his second season of equine therapy in October. He has physical and occupational therapy twice a week and also speech therapy twice a week. He loves to flirt with the ladies at Wiggles & Giggles and they are just as proud of him as we are. His teachers and therapists at school take good care of him too so we know he is always in good hands. We are happy to report that over the last several weeks, Joey has taken a few steps on his own although he is not very sure footed yet. He received his very own miniature walker a few weeks ago and maneuvers it around really well. Joey and I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago this summer for the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation’s National Conference. It was an experience we will never forget. It was so great to connect with other CdLS families and share our stories with each other. Joey also got to be a part of the Littlest Hero Project this fall. This awesome organization connects families with a photographer in their area who provides free photo sessions for children who are afflicted with an illness or disability. The photos are fantastic. Please check out the Littlest Heroes Website at www.littlestheroproject.com if you get a chance. And as always, visit www.CdLSusa.org for more information about Cornelia de Lange Syndrome.
Emma is now 3 ½ years old. She started preschool this fall also and she and Joey are actually in the same class. She absolutely loves school and didn’t even shed a tear the first day she went. It’s hard to believe 4 out of the 5 Riedmiller kids are in school now ~ our babies are growing up way too fast! Emma is quickly becoming a computer expert and loves to play the Nickelodeon games. She also loves to draw and color and these activities remain her favorite pastime. Abbie, the youngest of the crew, is now 2 ½ years old. She spent about the first month after Emma started preschool crying because she wanted to go to “cool” too. She remains Emma’s constant shadow and is right there wanting to do whatever she is doing. For the most part they get along pretty well, although there have been a few hair pulling incidents. Abbie loves to color and draw too so maybe we will have a couple of famous artists someday. :o)
My sister Andrea and her family are doing well. I am still babysitting Cooper who is now 15 months old. He is such a little cutie and loves to play with his cousins. My brother Eric and his wife Sherry welcomed their daughter Aubree Lynn into the world in March. She is 9 months old already, is absolutely adorable, and is very much daddy’s little girl. Shawn’s brother Aaron and his family are doing well too. The twins, Dylan and Lexi, turned 2 in July and Devin is about 15 months old. They are all as cute as a button and keep their parents very busy! :o)
Shawn and I try our best to manage the daily chaos that is our life. He is still working for the city, going on 10 years now. He bowled his 7th 300 game a few weeks ago so he was pretty proud of himself. I keep busy running in circles trying to keep everyone’s schedule straight. I took up a new hobby ~ blogging. A friend of mine inspired me to start a blog about our family and it is a wonderful tool for spreading awareness about CdLS. It is a lot of fun and a great way to keep up to date with our CdLS friends and other families.
That about wraps it up for this year. We try to take things a day at a time and enjoy all the little things life has to offer. We hope everyone has a joyous holiday season and we send you all our good wishes for a happy, healthy and safe 2009.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
With love,
Shawn, Rachelle,
John, Tommie, Joey,
Emma & Abbie

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I have a confession to make....

It's time for me to admit I have a problem. A terrible, terrible problem. Now that have peaked your interest, I must confess that I am a horrible gift wrapper. That's right ~ if there is a contest for producing the ugliest wrapped gift I would enter and win hands down. I don't like wrapping gifts, but I prefer gifts to have wrapping paper on them. I know, this does not make one bit of sense. Here is some proof that I am truly one of the world's worst wrappers:

The top one is a Christmas present for my niece Aubree that I wrapped the other day. I cut the paper to big so the sides were to long to tape properly and this is the end result. And yes that is a cow hanging from it ~ you push it's tummy and it plays Christmas carols.
The middle one is a present I wrapped for John. To my advantage, it is a weird shaped gift so it was kind of difficult to wrap.
The last pic is a present for Tommie I wrapped that actually didn't look too bad until Abbie decided to open part of it yesterday. So now do you believe what a horrible wrapper I am? :o)
And don't even get me started about our Christmas tree. I was worried about the kids messing with it too much ~ but our cats are way more of a problem! And here is proof of this:

He managed to knock it over for the first time today but thankfully I didn't put any ornaments on it that were breakable. There is garland hanging everywhere and the tree skirt is constantly messed up. I'd show a picture of the whole tree but I'm afraid it would be too embarrassing. It did look nice for about a day. I guess when I am entering the worst gift wrapper contest, I'll put my name down for the ugly tree contest too.
Our week has been pretty busy ~ not much time for my favorite hobby of blogging. Don't worry though ~ I've been trying to keep up with all of you, I just don't have time to leave many comments lately. The kids are out of school now for Christmas break and if yesterday was any indication of how the next 2 1/2 weeks are gonna go, I am in big, big trouble! ;o)
Oh yeah, and we had about 6 inches of snow a couple days ago. And the high tomorrow is going to be zero with a -20 degrees wind chill factor. Whoooooo Hooooooo!
Here are a few pics of the kids playing in the snow yesterday. Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow and IFO'S and IEP - Oh My!!

Another week has passed us by. I usually try to do a weekly review on Mondays but it seems like we have been busier than ever. Gosh, let's see...we've had some snow here in good old Nebraska ~ a little last week and it has been snowing all day today. And man has it been COLD! I think the high yesterday was like 5 degrees or something with lows and wind chill factors below zero! Looking out the window, I see about 4 inches now with a light snow still falling. This means some scooping for my hubby when he gets home from work! ;o)
Last Tuesday John had his first Freshman basketball game. Unfortunately they lost but John managed to score 10 points. It was out of town and we were all going to go but it was so bitterly cold the little ones and I stayed home. On Wednesday, my mom was in town and I accompanied her to a doctor's appointment and then we did a little Christmas shopping at good old Walmart. Shawn took some time off of work to stay with the kids and Cooper so I could help her out. Thanks darling ~ you're a trooper! Thursday was an interesting day. Joey was supposed to be casted for some new braces for his feet. The guy was to be at the school at 10:30 and I was to meet them there to pick out colors, etc. They called at 8:15 and said he was going to be at another school until after 11:00 so could he just come to our home. I said sure because this is what we did a year ago when he got his first pair. Only the first time his PT from the school system was here with us so it didn't go too badly. This time with just me and the fellow who does the casting proved to be a little more difficult. This quick dry stuff is used to make a cast of his foot and the child is supposed to hold still. Well, I was holding one leg and Joey's arms and the guy was holding his other leg and trying to get the cast stuff on so needless to say this didn't work very well. In the meantime, Emma, Abbie and Cooper have to be right there seeing what was going on and one of our cats decided to investigate too. Then the guy tells me he is allergic to cats and his eyes started watering while he was holding Joey's foot. So here I am, struggling to hold Joey still, trying to get Emma to get the cat out of there and the sweat is rolling down my face. Well, Joey's foot slipped and we decided to try another time when we had more hands available to help. So now it will be after the first of the year before Joey will get fitted for his new braces. Then Thursday afternoon I had Joey's IEP (individualized education plan) meeting at the school. This meeting went good. We discussed Joey's progress and set some goals for the next few months. I was really pleased to hear some of the good things he is doing in school. They started experimenting with a Body Sock ~ has anyone had any experience with these? If you have, please leave me a comment with some feedback. His teacher puts him in it when he seems disorganized and after a few minutes when he gets out, he seems more grounded and sure of what he wants to do. His communication skills are an ongoing goal but he is doing well with the PECS. His classmates always want to play with him and help him ~ his teacher said they kind of like to "mother" him and she has to explain that Joey can do a lot of things for himself. All in all, we are very happy with preschool and have never had any problems with any of the services Joey receives (knock on wood).
Friday evening I got to go to my sister's house and babysit Cooper while she and her hubby went to a Christmas party. We had fun ~ he was sleeping by 9pm so I got to put my feet up in her recliner and watch some TV. This was pure heaven. Anytime you need me sis!
Saturday John had a basketball game out of town ( which they won ~ yea!) and Tommie's club basketball team was in a tournament out of town also. ( They finished 4th). Then Saturday night we had Shawn's annual Christmas party and got to dine on a delicious steak and all the trimmings. It was nice to get out for a couple hours. We had John babysit and you'll be happy to know the little ones were in one piece when we got home. Sunday was spent doing some Christmas shopping. And no, unfortunately I am not done yet. I like to give (and receive!) Christmas gifts but I do not like shopping for them. I am always one of those last minute Christmas shoppers at Walmart on Christmas Eve trying to get all of my purchasing done before they close for the holiday. I have come to the conclusion that I will never learn a lesson. Every year I say I am going to get the shopping done way before Christmas and I never do. Oh well ~ maybe next year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Butterfly Award

Justine at Tiney's Froggy Bloggy presented me with this very pretty Butterfly Award. Thanks Justine ~ I love to receive awards from my blogging buddies! The rule with this one is pretty easy ~ I think all I have to do is pass it on to 10 other people. Here they are ~
Misty @ A Day In My Life
Leslie Anna @ A Mother's Love
Rachel @ Bloom Where God Plants You
Heidi @ God's Grace in Practice
Rhonda @ Me & The Boys
Delanie @ The Hudcaps
Natalie @ The Riecks
Cris @ Busy But Blessed
Brenda @ The Preister's
Trisha @ The Nicolas Family

Congrats ladies! Please check out these great blogs ~ you will find them all on my sidebar. I was too lazy to make it easy for you and add in all the blog addresses! :o) I haven't had much blogging time the last few days ~ things are hectic around here as usual! I will try my best to catch up with everyone this weekend ~ I see there have been a lot of updates. Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Special Exposure/Wordless Wednesday

Our attempts at Christmas card pictures in 2007...Seems like yesterday!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekly Review

Wow ~ another week has passed us by! Where the heck is 2008 going anyway? I decided to give a little review of our past week ~ now if I can just get the old brain to go into recall mode. I should just write down what happens every day around here then when it comes time for a weekly wrap up it would be a piece of cake! Of course, whatever I right down would probably get lost or colored on so for now I will rely on good old brain power.
I suppose a good place to start would be with a quick recap of Joey's visit to the urologist last Thursday. For those of you who remember our adventure at the eye doctor this appointment actually didn't go to badly. Needless to say after that drama I was pretty nervous about taking him to see another doctor, let alone the urologist. But you will be happy to learn that his plumbing checked out fine and there is no need for further investigation into his private parts. ;o)And contrary to what I said after the eye doctor fiasco, I did end up taking Joey to this appointment by myself but we did okay. We were at Children's Hospital in Omaha and the waiting room was pretty kid friendly so Joey had lots to keep him occupied. The only thing that irritated me was that the appt. was scheduled for 1:40p.m. and it was 3:30 before we got called back to exam room. Then more waiting. It was about 4:45 before we got out of there so it made for a long afternoon but we got back home in one piece.
The weekend pretty much went by in a blur. It was one of those weekends where you don't have anything specific planned but have a thousand things to get done. And of these thousand things, maybe 1/4 of them got done. Friday night I went to my parent's house to help my mom get some stuff done around the house. Saturday John had basketball practice from 7 - 8:30a.m. then indoor baseball hitting practice from 10 - 11 a.m. then back to the high school at 11:30 for a scrimmage against the sophomores. Tommie had basketball practice from 9 - 11a.m. which he and Dad go to because Shawn helps coach the team. At 2p.m. Shawn and the older boys went to watch Columbus High play in a basketball tourney and the little ones and I got to have some bonding time. Saturday night John went out to eat with his girlfriend and her dad (whoooo hoooooo!!) and was gone a whole hour and a half. We spent Sunday trying to get all the stuff done that we didn't get done on Saturday. We finally managed to get our Christmas tree up and Joey has yet to knock to over so keep your fingers crossed! Tommie and I went to church and afterwards we picked up John, Emma and Abbie and went to the brand new McDonald's for lunch. It was built to replace the old one and just opened a couple weeks ago. Do we know how to have fun or what!?! Sunday evening my sister and I attended our church's children's Christmas program to watch Tommie and my nephew Tanner who are in the bell choir.
Today, I tried to catch up on the things we didn't accomplish over the weekend. Tomorrow, I will work on the things that I didn't accomplish today and so on and so on. Let's just say I hope the people from Better Homes and Gardens don't show up anytime soon. The other day I was asked to participate in a training session for the Early Development Network. They needed a couple parents to come in and tell their stories about their child and answer some questions for a group of trainees. Today,I got to tell Joey's story, share information about CdLS, and let them know how valuable some of these services are from a parent's perspective. Anyway, the other parent there is a parent of four children and their youngest son was born in May and diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome. This is a syndrome I had never heard of. Evidently there are a whole host of medical problems associated with this syndrome. From heart problems to feeding difficulties and probably most heart wrenching of all, these children are born with little or absolutely no immune system. This baby has been in an out of the hospital several times, endured two open heart surgeries and even the slightest cold can turn to pneumonia. He has come close to dying 2 or 3 times. I cannot even begin to understand what this family is going through. Even though Joey has CdLS, we consider ourselves very lucky. Lucky because he is healthy, happy and brings our family tremendous joy as do all our children. I went to this training session today in hopes of helping these people learn to do their jobs better and to look at situations from a parent's point of view. I walked away grateful for another chance to put things about our lives into perspective. Thank you, anonymous mom.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Honest Scrap

Carissa @ Butterfly Kisses gave me this cool award. Thanks Carissa! It is the nicest thing to get blog awards from other friendly bloggers. It really makes my day! Of course, there are some rules attached to this award: "When you receive the prize, you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing that they were prized with 'Honest Weblog'. List [if you can and/or dare] at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!"
So here are 10 honest things about me:
1. For those of you that are wondering, I am 38 years old. I was born June 6, 1970. I am having a hard time with 40 looming in front of me and try not to think about it too much. When 2010 gets here, I will probably have a major freak out.
2. I was 22 years old when Shawn and I got married and had my first baby at the age of 23. Tommie came along when I was 25. Then there was a tiny break and Joey was born when I was 33, close to 34. Then Emma when I was 34, and Abbie when I was 35, a week before my 36th birthday. If someone would have told me when I had my first baby at 23 that I would still be having babies when I was 35, I would have said you are crazy!
3. I am a compulsive hand washer. I wash my hands after every single thing I do. Which accounts for my beautiful dry, cracked, red, sore hands. I especially have a hard time in public restrooms. I use paper towels to touch faucets, handles, etc. I get really irritated when the only thing to dry my hands is one of the blower things. If I don't have paper towels, I will get some clean toilet paper to touch things with. Oh yeah, and don't get me started about touching raw meat.
4. I dislike feet. The only feet I will touch besides mine are my children's feet. It's weird, I know. I rarely walk around barefoot or in socks. I wear my shoes usually from the minute I get up until I go to bed. I got my first pedicure a few weeks ago which was wonderful. But the whole time I was thinking how could this woman touch feet all day! I could never do that! LOL
5. Don't hold this against me, but my least favorite holiday is the 4th of July. I'm sorry, I just don't like it. Don't get me wrong, I love to watch a big fireworks display but that's about it. I get very nervous when the boys are lighting fireworks ~ I am deathly afraid someone is going to get hurt. Plus, where we live, they start selling fireworks 10 days before the 4th. I think this is ridiculous. You hear firecrackers from morning til night for 10 days straight. Give me a break!
6. Someday I would like to write a book. I'm not sure what about yet, but it's just something I want to try to do.
7. When I put salt and pepper on my food, I always put the salt on first and then the pepper. Any one else out there who does it this way?
8. When we eat a meal at home and if I help myself to seconds, I always have to have a different plate. Don't ask me why ~ just another freaky thing I do. I also don't like one food to touch another food. And unfortunately, I have passed this quirky habit on to our oldest, John. Only he takes it a step further and will only eat one type of food at a time. For instance, he will eat all the mac and cheese before he moves on to the hot dog. And I'm sure he's happy I'm sharing this with all of you. :o)
9. I drink too much soda. I love Coca Cola and Pepsi. And not diet either. And I prefer to have it in a glass with ice and love to chew on the ice. My apologies if anyone has a thing against ice chewers. ;o)
10. One more...this is tough to think up 10 things I am willing to share with blogland. Ummmmm ~ I hate doing dishes and laundry? I know all the names of the Backyardigans and Wonder Pets? No, this has to be a really good one. Let's see...how about I tell you that I don't remember the last time I cleaned our bathroom toilet and sink or mopped our kitchen floor? These are chores that have just kind of fallen on Shawn's shoulders the last few years. It's hard to do these things with the little ones running around all the time and so he has taken over which is fine with me. He doesn't seem to mind and does a good job. But don't tell him that secretly I like to mow the lawn. His job keeps him outside a lot so the last thing he wants to do when he gets home is be outside. So with some complaining and grumbling, I will go mow when he gets home from work while he stays in with the kids.

Now for the last part. There are so many great blogs whose wonderful content I enjoy, it's hard to limit my choices to only 7. I wouldn't want to leave anyone out. So if you like this award and want to share some Honest Scrap about yourself, please feel free to do so! This way everyone's a winner!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Special Exposure/Wordless Wednesday

Gee Dad ~ where's all your hair?!?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, visit MomDot. And check out the WW Headquarters too!

What Is That Anyway? Hiatus

I'm sorry to disappoint our loyal fans, but the fun and exciting What Is That Anyway? picture game is taking a brief hiatus until after the holiday season is over. Tune in for great new challenges in early 2009! I know, the suspense will be almost too much to bear!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Review

I am having a hard time with the fact that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just around the corner! Where in the world did November go? Or for that matter, 2008? When I was turning the calendars this morning, I thought wow ~ this year has gone by fast!

We had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. On Thursday, we loaded up the gang and went to my parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner in Albion (which is only about 45 miles away from us so thankfully not much travel time!). My sister and her family and our crew stuffed ourselves silly and had a nice visit. Then around 5p.m. it was on to my in-laws who also live in Albion. We were joined by Shawn's brother and his family so all together we had six little ones ages 4 and under reeking havoc on Grandma & Grandpa Jerry's house. More delicious food and time spent catching up on family happenings. On Friday, we hung around home which was nice. I am not one of the get up at 3a.m. and go shopping types but more power to the people who are. I hope you got all the great bargains! John, Tommie, Emma and I did mosey out to Walmart about 10a.m. so John could pick up some DVD's they had on sale for $2. Luckily they had some left and he found 10 movies he liked for a mere $20. Can't beat that! On Saturday, it was back to Albion to have an informal Thanksgiving gathering with my brother and his family. They were unable to join us on Thursday, so we decided to get together on Saturday at my parent's house for some pizza and catching up. It was fun. My Aunt Carol and Uncle Paul were there too. Stuffed ourselves silly again and enjoyed our time together. Sunday was supposed to be devoted to decorating and getting the Christmas tree up and cleaning and laundry etc., but all that remains a work in progress. I actually got to take a nap for about 1 1/2 hrs. which was pure heaven! Then of course I had trouble falling asleep Sunday night but my quiet time was well worth it! My Monday morning started with a trip to Walmart at 6:15a.m. to get an ink cartridge for our printer. Tommie had a health report due today and when he finally got around to printing it out about 10:30 Sunday night, he discovered the printer had no ink, black or colored. So, mom to the rescue with a quick trip to the store that she didn't feel like going to last night because it was way to cold outside. Well, guess what? It wasn't any warmer at 6a.m. either! Lesson learned! Then about 12;45p.m. when I was getting Joey ready to go to therapy, I smell something burning. I trace the smell to of all things, the dishwasher! I open it up and out comes some smoke ~ just as the neighbors are arriving to watch the kids! Great! So I shut it off ~ for some reason it was getting way too hot which was causing the odor. No fire thankfully. And yes this is my new dishwasher that I've only had for a couple months! Luckily there is a warranty on it so we will have to get someone in here to take a look at it. If today is any indication of how the rest of my week is going to be I may just have to go on strike! LOL We hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the pictures!

Our attempts to get the Lawson grandkids together for a picture!
Emma, Tommie, Aubree, John, Joey, Tanner, Cooper and Abbie...

Abbie ~ too much turkey!

Joey playing with Grandma Jerry's blocks...

It snowed a little on Sunday so of course the girls had to play in it!

My brother Eric who will be 30 years old on Saturday! Did everyone hear~he'll be 30!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

CdLS Sunday Blog Challenge - Gift Giving Ideas for the Holiday Season

Gift giving ideas for the Holiday Season Blog Challenge

Gift giving season is here! Kids with CdLS can be challenging to buy gifts for. What gifts has your child received in the past that he or she has enjoyed, and what do you think you're child will want/need this season?

I would have to say one of Joey's favorite things he has received in the past is his CD player. It is just a small blue one that I got for about $15 at WalMart. We play CD's on it for him at night when he goes to bed. During the day, we have to unplug it and put it somewhere because he will pull it down off his his dresser and try to play with it. Let's just say it has been through a lot and has held up pretty well. He also likes his keyboards ~ he has 3 or 4 of them in different sizes and colors that he really enjoys. Lego's are also a big hit with him ~ or any type of building blocks. He loves wooden blocks too ~ he can stack 4 to 6 blocks himself and then laughs and claps his hands when he knocks them over. He has also received some books in the past ~ the kind that have the sound boards on the side that make noise when you press the picture. He likes these too.

This year for Christmas I am going to try to get him a Fisher Price Kid Tough DVD Player that I saw on a fellow CdLS family's blog. I think he would like this and it sounds like it could withstand a lot of action. I am also planning on getting him a new toy box for his room ~ hopefully some kind of Little Tikes one or something along those lines. He also needs a new hand held massager. His bit the dust a few weeks ago. Joey is not too picky ~ if it plays music, comes in a box, or is something he can climb on, he is a happy camper!

This would Joey's idea of the perfect Christmas gift! :o)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Answers revealed....

Welcome to the answer phase of What Is That Anyway? It seems I have frustrated a lot of you this week which is what I set out to do! LOL Just kidding! I honestly didn't realize how hard these pictures were to figure out ~ of course I am at an extreme advantage because I know the answers. My sly ways paid off this week because there is no one that got all 3 answers correct. Next week I'll be a little easier on you, I promise. Let's see....

Now I just knew somebody visiting the blog would get this one right ~ although she is at an extreme advantage too...Cris is Joey's PT. She is the only one to guess this pic exactly right. Way to go!!!!

It is a picture of Joey's AFO's! (The braces he wears on his feet ~ back view)

Now this next one most of you that attempted a guess on this one got it right....

It's a Bumble Ball! (One of Joey's favorite toys)

And for this one there was only one correct guess...and that was by Natalie. You go girl! Here it is again.....

It is a glass of ice water with most of the water gone....

Hope you all had fun playing along this week...I hope I didn't make any of you too angry (Ahem, Justine LOL). I also hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I will post more this weekend about our holiday. Right now I'm off to get the boys' hair cut. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Special Exposure/Not So Wordless Wednesday

Welcome to the fourth week of What Is That Anyway? Last week we had one person that guessed all three pictures right and the rest of you got two out of three correct. This week I have decided to go back to cheating and sneak in some slightly blurred photos in an attempt to stump you all once again.
Doesn't seem fair, does it? ;o) Sorry ~ I guess I am just a big old meanie once again! Last week I also hinted that I may have some Thanksgiving themed pictures but sadly this has been proven untrue. I tried to think of what Thanksgiving type things I could photograph but came up with nothing. I thought about going to Walmart or some other store and snapping some pics of food or fall decorations but I figured I would look like a huge idiot. But I suppose I wouldn't have looked any stupider than I did last week at the park taking pictures of benches and fire hydrants. A woman did walk past me when I was photographing the bench and gave me a strange look. Anyway, if you are joining us for the first time, the game is simple. Just look at the pictures, leave your guesses in the comments section and visit us again tomorrow when the answers are revealed. Although this week I probably won't get the results posted until Friday as we will be traveling for Thanksgiving. Here's this weeks pics for your viewing pleasure. Good luck!
(Oh yeah ~ I'm not giving out clues this week either. Sorry ~ but if you really study them they are a piece of cake!)

Nicholas Schurke

Sadly, we have received word of the sudden passing of Nicholas Schurke, a member of our extended CdLS Family. Our hearts are aching and our thoughts and prayers go out to his Mom, Dad, and little brother and also to the rest of his family. Life really is fragile and you never know what each day will bring. I am sharing the message we received from his parents through our online support group, his obituary, and a precious photo. Please take a moment today to pray for this family and all children affected by Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. We hope the Schurke Family finds the comfort and support they will need in the weeks and months to come.

Hi Cdls family.
I have not been as active in the group as I used to be ,but felt I needed to share our grief with you.
Our son Nicholas Toffer Schurke age 4 passed away while sleeping on our couch last evening(11/20) .
We are unsure of the cause, but know that he was not feeling well as he was napping quite a bit and just not himself. We thought he was just getting his usual winter cold that usually lasts a few days and has him acting the way he was. I was holding him minutes before he passed away. I had layed him down to finish supper and relized he wasn't snoring like when I had left him. Only minutes had passed, but he was not breathing and after my CPR and 30min with the EMT's Chris and I decided it was time to let Nick rest.
I have cried alot and just when I think I am done another wave comes or another loved one calls and it starts all over again.
We will have a service in Minneapolis on Tues afternoon with burial in Ely on Wed moring.
I thank everyone for all the advice and support we have received through the years. It was a rewarding, but challenging honor to have Nicky as our son. He has changed our family in more ways than we can count.

Sarah and Chris
mom to Angel Nick 4yr and Logan 1yr

Nicholas Toffer Schurke, 4, of Zumbrota
The Republican Eagle
Published Monday, November 24, 2008
Nicholas Toffer Schurke, 4, of Zumbrota, died Thursday at his home. Born March 6, 2004, in Duluth, Minn., to Christopher and Sarah (Wetzel) Schurke, he grew up in Zumbrota and was attending preschool in Zumbrota. He enjoyed watching loud bands in parades, paging through books and taking rides in his stroller and red wagon.

Survivors include his parents Christopher and Sarah Schurke of Zumbrota; one brother, Logan; paternal grandparents Roger and Merryl Schurke of Andover, Minn.; maternal grandparents Thomas and Rebecca Wetzel of Ely, Minn.; paternal great-grandmother, Lois Schurke of Minneapolis; maternal great-grandparents Howard and Lil Olson of Fargo, N.D., and Arn and Lee Wetzel of Wells, Minn. He was preceded in death by paternal great-grandparents G. Roger Schurke and John and Jean Koehler.

Funeral will be 1 p.m. today at Oak Haven Church, 1555 Constance Blvd. N.E., Ham Lake, Minn., with the Revs. Tim Walker and Tim Cook officiating. Burial will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Ely Cemetery, Ely, Minn. Visitation will be one hour before the service today at the church. Pallbearers will be his uncles, Jay and John Wetzel and Chris and Nate Schurke. Memorials are preferred to Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation, 302 W. Main St. Suit 100, Avon, CT 06001, info@cdlsusa.org. Arrangements are with the Mahn Family Funeral Home, Larson Chapel in Zumbrota.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

CdLS Sunday Blog Challenge - What are you thankful for?

Our CdLS Sunday Blog Challenge for today:
As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, take a moment to reflect on what you are thankful for and post it on your blog.

I have been thinking about this a lot today. There are many, many things I am thankful for and our lives are full of many blessings. We have tons of reasons to be thankful this holiday season and this challenge gives me a chance to reflect on these things and fully appreciate our lives. It gives me a reminder to be grateful for all the little things that we sometimes take for granted.

1. I am thankful for my children, my husband, and our entire family.
2. I am thankful for our friends and neighbors.
3. I am thankful that my children, my husband, and myself are all healthy.
4. I am thankful that even though things are tough sometimes, we try to find the bright side of a situation.
5. I am thankful for my dishwasher.
6. I am thankful to wake up every day and see the beautiful faces of my children.
7. We went to a high school football awards banquet tonight. It honored the senior players and reflected on their high school years. I am thankful that John is only a freshman and we will still have him with us for a few more years.
8. I am thankful for naps (when I get to take one!)
9. I am thankful that we will be warm this winter.
10. I am thankful we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our tummies. There are so many people who do not have these things.
11. I am thankful for all the people who make such a great difference in Joey's life every day. I am thankful that they care so much about him.
12. I am thankful for all of our CdLS family and friends. I am grateful that they are there to give us joy, comfort and support.
13. I am thankful that I have little hands to hold.
14. I am thankful for each step of progress that Joey makes.
15. I am thankful for all the accomplishments all the children make. I am thankful that I am here to enjoy these moments with them.
16. I am thankful for comfy shoes.
17. I am thankful for sunshine, a warm breeze, and the smell of fresh cut grass.
18. I am thankful for tiny hugs, sloppy kisses and when my children tell me they love me. I am thankful I am able to tell them I love them too.
19. I am thankful for books to read and music to listen to. I am thankful to be able to read the words and hear the songs.
20. I am thankful for the memories I have and the memories I have to look forward to.
21. I am thankful for Nick Jr. and Noggin (keeps the kiddos entertained!)
22. I am thankful to be able to have a good laugh, a good cry, and a good night's sleep.
23. I am thankful for peanut M&M's.
24. I am thankful for garage sales.
25. I am thankful for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

What are some things you are thankful for? For more CdLS Sunday Blog Challenge participants, click here.

Note to Jill and Justine: Red pickles are something that we have had on special occasions since I was a kid. My aunts make them and this year my mom's been saving a jar for Thanksgiving sent from my aunt in Minnesota. They are red, I think colored with red candies, and they don't taste like regular pickles. They have a great flavor that I can't really describe. I was a young kid the last time I helped anyone make them so I can't recall all the details but they are good, good, good! I will find a post a recipe sometime. :o)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas questions just in time for Thanksgiving....

Happy Friday! Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your family and friends. I originally got this in an email and thought it would be a fun idea for a blog post. Feel free to play along and make your own blog post ~ tag, you're it!
One rule is to try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Okay, here's the questions I answered:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both ~ I like to have presents wrapped but if I'm pressed for time I will throw them in a gift bag
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial
3. When do you put up the tree? The day after Thanksgiving although this year we might have to have a smaller version sitting on the table or somewhere because I just know that Joey's favorite pastime will be trying to knock the tree down! LOL
4. When do you take the tree down? Sometime within the week after Christmas
5. Do you like eggnog? No
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I loved my roller skates!
7. Hardest person to buy for? My son John ~ 15 is a hard age to buy for!
8. Easiest person to buy for? Joey ~ as long as it plays music and comes in a box he can play with he's content! :o)
9. Do you have a nativity scene? yes ~ Precious Moments
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail ~ I still put my faith in the good old USPS
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Shawn gave me some silverware and plastic bowls one year. Useful? Yes. Fun? Not so much.
12. Favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Chevy Chase rocks!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The week before
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Red pickles
16. Lights on the tree? yes
17. Favorite Christmas song! What Child Is This?
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Let's see...You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall ~ the most famous reindeer of all?! Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny... sorry ~ the only way I can ever remember all the reindeer is to go through that song! ;o)
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Shawn and I and the kids open presents on Christmas morning.
22 . Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Too many people everywhere I try to shop!! And I hate being cold!! (It was 8 degrees when I took the kids to school this morning. Brrrrr!!!!)
23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? Our tree gets decorated with ornaments the kids have made and other sentimental ornaments.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? My mother-in-law makes prime rib for Christmas Eve. Yum, Yum!!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Peace and good will towards men. And oh yeah, a new camera and a huge trash can to put our garbage in when we take it outside. ;o)

What Is That Anyway? Answer Day!

Answer Day is here! For What Is That Anyway? Part 3 this week I had decided to take some pictures of outside things since the pictures I had posted the previous couple of weeks were a little blurry. But next week I might have to revert back to my sly, cheating ways because all of you that guessed got 2 correct and we have one champion that guessed all 3 pictures correctly! Congrats to Natalie ~ this was her first time playing along and she managed to get them all right! Way to go! I figured a lot of people would get the 2nd and 3rd pictures correct but thought maybe I would stump you with picture #1.
No, it's not playground equipment or a fence...

It's a red park bench!

And of course all of you knew this was a fire hydrant...

And a close up shot of some bark on a very large tree...

Thanks to all who played along ~ hope you had fun! I will try to come up with some mind boggling shots for next week ~ maybe I will do a Thanksgiving theme week. You will have to come back to find out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Special Exposure/Wordless Wednesday ~ What Is That Anyway? Chapter 3

Holy cow! I can't believe it's time for another stimulating round of What Is That Anyway? Is it just me or are the weeks going by way too fast? Last week, we had two people get 2 out of 3 pictures correct and most of the rest of you got 1 correct ~ remember the beautiful tomato? If you are joining us for the first time, What Is That Anyway? is fun and easy to play. All you have to do is study the pictures provided, leave your guesses in the comment section, and visit us again on Thursday to find out the answers! Come on ~ play along! It's very exciting! ;o) Here are the pictures for this week:

Ready to guess? I've decided to be a big old meany this week and not give any clues. I know, I know, that doesn't seem fair but I have a feeling a lot of you will get these correct this time around. The middle picture is especially easy if you ask me. So go ahead ~ give it a whirl! Have fun and good luck!

For more Special Exposure captures, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
For Wordless Wednesday fun, take a peek at MomDot.

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