Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh 2013...

Like always, it is hard to believe another year is gone. 2013 had a lot of challenges and a lot of happiness.

I celebrated my 7th year of marriage and 15th year overall with Nathan - 
I even remarried him in Vegas with Elvis!

Noah turned 3 Lion King/Bounce House style.

Ryan turned 1 in a Flash.

The kids were in their first car accident.

Ryan learned to say Momma and Dada and 18 other words.

Ryan won her heat in the Diaper Derby.

We learned Ryan is delayed in her motor skills, but like with all things Ryan does, she will do things when she is ready and how she wants to do it.

I got a promotion at work.

I lost some family.

I gained new family.

Noah became very inquisitive about God - making my heart very happy!

I was laid off due to the government shutdown but God saw me through it.

I forgave this year when I REALLY didn't want to.

I have had to use my faith more than ever this year.

I let some people in my life more than ever but at the same time had to cut some people out.

I gained a new friend.

I got the hang of having children instead of just a child.

My kids made me cry tears of joy and sorrow.

Noah promised me he would live with me forever and made me promise the same thing to him.

Nathan became the track record holder at our local race track in his race car.

I have learned a lot about myself this year, good and bad.

My top 5 blogs this year (based on what Blogger told me):

Are You Ready? My take on marriage
Dear Girl... Motherhood
God Put a bandaid on it The kids car accident
4 Weeks The beginning of Ryans journey
First Day of Therapy The beginning of Ryan's therapy

I have gained a lot of blog readers this year and with that comes so many words of encouragement and prayers. I love hearing that people enjoy reading my blog - I love writing it and enjoy sharing parts of my family's life with others. This is my online scrapbook that I already enjoy going through. Hope you all stick around and enjoy this next year with me! Happy New Year - make it count!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

We had a wonderful Christmas this year! So much to be thankful for and so much family to spend it with. We started off our Christmas at my Grandmas house last weekend where about 60 of us gathered and the kids exchanged gifts. I think Noah enjoyed playing with the old toys in grandmas toy box (that I used to play with) more than anything! Ryan, being the drama queen she is, had to show out and gag on the tortilla roll I gave her (the shiver when she tasted it should have been a sign) and she threw up all over me, her, the back of my moms chair, and my cousins foot in the middle of the dining room! I was so embarrassed - I know they were all thinking she was sick with a stomach bug, but it was all my fault. So, my mom and Nathan had to clean up curdled milk throw up, while I was out in the car cleaning me and Ryan off - she had a change of clothes, I didn't. Luckily, it was about time to go so we made our graceful exit after that.

Instead of a traditional Christmas party, we decided to have a work party day and go shopping and out to eat! It was way better than a party! We exchanged gifts at the office then went shopping in Ft. Smith and to eat at Fujis. No one had to clean their house or cook anything - way less stress and way more laughs! We have found a new tradition!

The kids kept getting closer and closer as he was reading The Night Before Christmas

Playdoh = Excited Noah
The next day was Christmas Eve. We always do a brunch at my mom's house on Christmas Eve. We like doing a brunch because it is a break from the traditional Christmas foods. My stepdad read The Night Before Christmas and we all opened presents. Nathan and I got the aquamate attachment for our Rainbow vacuum - it is awesome! (Yes, we are old and get excited about these things). The kids got dvd players for their rooms so they can watch all the kid movies they want in their rooms, some new movies, giant dinosaur wall stickers, and a tickle me Minnie Mouse. We then headed home for naps for the kids and so Nathan and I could all the new stuff away.

After naps we went to Nathan's Grandmas house. There we do dirty Santa for the adults and we buy for all the kids under 16 (which is only 4 kids). We are not very dirty with our dirty Santa though - we rarely steal any gifts. I brought Magic Mike DVD with a blanket, popcorn, and movie candy - it was a hit :) I got a pretty tabletop cross and Nathan got a new grill set. The kids got more awesome gifts and loved running around and playing with their cousins! We left his grandmas an hour and a half after bedtime so I was impressed with how well the kids were acting. We took them home and gave quick baths and put them in bed so Santa could come.

Noah slept until 8:00 (we know this won't happen much on Christmas morning so we enjoyed it). Ryan was squirming around, but still asleep so we got her up too. Noah was very excited that he got just what he asked for - the magic of Christmas for him is awesome to watch. Ryan surprised me with how well she unwrapped gifts! She even gasped every time she opened something even if she didn't know what it was - it was so cute!

SO excited about underwear :)
After this we went out to my grandmas for a quick lunch before nap time. We then went to Nathan's parents house for dinner and to exchange gifts with them. Noah got dinosaurs (no matter how many he has, he gets so excited for them), log cabin blocks, and a car that pops wheelies. Ryan got Ariel's castle and some clothes and a Minnie Mouse bag. Nathan and I got sheets, towels, clothes, and lots of other goodies - oh and an awesome patio heater! We can't wait to use it! The highlight for the kids was the .97 bubbles though - they loved them!

Lunch at great-grandmas

Noah playing with the toys I used to play with :)

Stillwell Cousins :)


At bedtime, Noah always requests a bedtime song. Last night he requested to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. When he got done he asked why God doesn't heal Jesus and send him back to the Earth since God heals all of us :) This kid is such a thinker - this may get me in trouble later - but it will take him far in life! Hope you all had an amazing Christmas also! Now, to get the house back in order, get rid of some old toys, and ready for the New Years birthday party :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Finally a Parade and Walking with Dinosaurs!

Our Christmas parade was delayed due to bad weather until this week. It was sad how excited I was for the parade - it is just so fun to do these things with the kids and see their excitement (mostly Noah's so far, but Ryan is getting there).

Noah was very excited - his eyes were so big watching all the floats! He kept hugging me and saying "this is great" :)

Another thing we have been waiting on for a while is the movie Walking With Dinosaurs to come out! We saw a preview for it while watching another movie months ago and Noah has been talking about it ever since! Noah was so excited when I told him it was finally time to see it! My dad, brother, and his kids also met us there. Noah loved the movie - he even cheered during the happy ending! I love that he is at the movie age now - we are making great memories.

To those keeping up with Ryan's progress:

Ryan had to have her eyes checked due to starting therapy - it is just a normal check up to have when starting therapy (and a good idea for any kid). She has more than a slight astigmatism but the doctor wanted to let it go for a year before glasses, and maybe in a year it won't be necessary. So, nothing to worry about there for now.

We also had an appointment with her Primary Care Doctor to get his opinion on what to do next. The day after our initial evaluation, I was speaking to her therapist and she has recommended we look into genetic testing due to the fact that none of Ryan's symptoms fall into any one category - so she may have something genetically different than other kids causing her "red flags" (unable to walk, unable to get herself up from lying down on her back, sleeping a lot). When the therapist told me this I asked her if this was something that Ryan may not overcome and not ever walk. She told me that she could not say at this time. Honestly, that stunned me. I had a pity party that afternoon - and then I snapped out of it. I felt bad for even letting that upset me. It took me a day to wrap my mind around that and I just decided that answer was not acceptable. Nope, not hearing it. So, we had the appointment with Ryan's regular doctor. He said he does not think there is anything genetically wrong with her - none of the things he looks at gave him any reason to think that. However, he is referring her to have the testing done. He said that either way, the only way to fix it is therapy, so we will treat it the same. But, it may give us an idea for her future if something comes up abnormal on her testing. She has been scheduled an appointment with Arkansas Children's Hospital in January for her testing. Her doctor also did hip x-rays while we were there and everything there looked good, so that was a relief.

This was a lot to take in, since I really just thought I would take her to her physical therapy evaluation and they would say something along the lines of "oh, we see this a lot, no problem" and she would be fine. So, once the shock wore off, I am positive that Ryan will be fine. She will walk, and I think it will be soon. Just from the prayers we have already received I can see her making progress. She is standing better and is able to climb our stairs and into her rocking chair - neither of which she could do 2 weeks ago. As Noah says "God will make Ryan walk" - we all need to have his faith. Therapy starts this week to get her walking - so once again I ask for prayers for her. Thanks for all the prayers and encouraging words so far - keep them coming, they are not going unnoticed!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snow Days 2013

I entitled this Snow Days 2013, because I am really hoping that is all we get. I like one good snow (preferably without ice) and then I am good for the year. Nathan has to work on snow days - usually keeping Wal-Mart parking lot clean for those last minute bread and milk shoppers :)

Our home :)
 The snow/ice started on Thursday night and lasted until Friday afternoon. The kids and I played in the snow about 15 minutes - I didn't want them to get sick or too cold. We kept our power until Friday night about 8:00. I figured we were in the clear at that point, but no such luck. Both kids were in the bath tub playing and I was folding laundry and it went dark - the kids were screaming, until I came in with a flashlight, then it was funny :) I had the heat turned up all day and everything charged up just in case we lost power. So, we toughed out night one with no power. The house only got down to 67 overnight so that wasn't too bad. We spent most of Saturday playing with the light of the sun - then decided if the power didn't come back on my 5:00 to go to a hotel for the night. I started packing while we still had sunlight to see and thought if I packed us up then the power would most likely come back on. Once again, no such luck. So, we went to a hotel where Nathan's parents and my brother and his family were also staying due to no power.

Ryan loved the water :)

Noah was in Heaven!

Momma and her water baby :)

Ryan did so good in the playpen - just went right to sleep!
I was worried, she hasn't slept anywhere besides her bed until this!

Noah watching movies in his hotel bed :)

Ryan just had to brush her teeth because Dada was :)
We had a fun night of hot tubs, pizza, and playing - but 2 kids in a hotel room is a lot. We checked out the next day and had lunch at my moms and then home to start warming the house back up again so we could stay there that night. We had a generator and the refrigerator, tv, space heater, and a lamp plugged into it. So, we were not exactly roughing it, but it was still not ideal. We boiled water with our propane cooker for the kids bath. We then got word we should have power back by 10:00 p.m.! Nathan went to get us dinner (we live close to town and tend to not stock up on food for snowstorms, especially with no for sure way to cook it or keep it cold) and not long after he was back the power came back on! It took me a minute to realize it was on because the generator was running and we had the tv and lamp on - but I thought I heard something and I saw the DVR light on and jumped up and turned the lights on! It was so awesome! You don't really fully appreciate electricity and all the things you use it for until you lose it. Plus, I like the lights on if I am awake - so sitting in the dark was very uncomfortable to me.

"Roughing it" before the power finally came back on!
This all happened 2 weeks ago - I am a little behind on blogging. But, the weather since then has been great - very warm for winter. We are supposed to get cold weather again next week, but hopefully no more snow or ice - once a year is enough. That is another reason I like Arkansas - we get that once a year snow to enjoy :)

Another thing - Ryan has some important medical appointments tomorrow so if you can throw up some extra prayers for her that would be great! Thank you to all who keep e-mailing, texting, and messaging me support and encouraging words for me and Ryan - it means more than you know!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Getting in the holiday spirit...

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here FINALLY! We got the tree up and decorated the inside of the house the weekend after Thanksgiving. We got our outside lights and decoration put up this last weekend.

We did something that I have always wanted to do - put our tree on top of my car and drove it home - National Lampoon style - minus the tree roots! This is the first year we have not gotten a Fraiser fir - we went with a Noble this year. The first one Nathan picked up was the one we got (that seems to happen a lot - he has an eye for good trees) and I loved it. Loading the tree was comical. Nathan (aka: muscles) threw the tree up on the car so hard it almost rolled off the other side and then we got to laughing, then realized it was on the car backwards :) We got it all worked out and tied the strings around to the inside of the car (I have no rack on top of my car) - so it looked kind of ghetto. Nathan got in and said "drive before anyone sees what we are doing" :) Noah used the back strings as a train whistle and pretended he was on the Polar Express the whole way home :)

Thumbs up to the perfect tree!
We got the tree unloaded and set up to let the limbs relax overnight. We brought the tree in and set up the next day. I did all the indoor decorating then. I did it all while Ryan was asleep and Noah got to help me - he was beyond excited. Everything I got out he would say "that is a great snowman", "that is the greatest santa" - everything was "great" - it was so cute. He has figured out which ornaments play music and loves to play them all at the same time :)

My mom always got everyone in the family a Hallmark ornament every year and I have always done the same. This year I got Noah a Grinch one (or "Brinch" as Noah calls it), Ryan got a Minnie Mouse one, I got an owl on a sparkly branch, and Nathan got a National Lampoons Christmas Vacation one. I then found 2 more that I had to get - one with Daddy boots and little boy boots and it says "Like Dad, Like Son" on it and one with fuzzy Mom boots and matching little girl boots that says "Like Mom, Like Daughter" - they are so cute. I don't have any balls or generic ornaments on the tree - they are all just the ornaments we have gotten over the last few years together. Our tree is in the corner so I don't decorate the back of it - I don't see the point. As the years go by, I will have to decorate the back or leave some ornaments off, or get a bigger tree ;)

Noah's "Brinch" ornament :)

My owl on a snowy branch

Nathan's ornament this year - Clark plugging the lights in, and it sings Hallelujah when they come on :)

I got stocking holders for the first time this year also - they are so cute!   Other than that I don't do a whole lot of decorating - I go for the less is more approach :) I have my beautiful trees and ice skating scene. My snowman, Christmas card holder, and we have some Ducks Unlimited Santa Claus figures we got at DU banquets over the years.

Me and Ryan's stocking (my mom made mine)

Snowman and Santa

Moose and Tree 

Noah and Nathan's stocking  (I made Nathan's)

A new thing we have added this year is Noah received an Elf on the shelf he named Huckleberry! I decided this year not to do any of the real cute fun stuff with him because Noah is so excited just to see him move and that way I can just steal everyone elses ideas next year :) Poor Noah has a list of people watching over him making sure he is a good boy - if he is being bad he will say "Huckleberry, Santa Claus, and God are watching me, I am sorry Momma, I will be good" :)

I love how the outside looks - I love Christmas lights on a house! Noah is so excited too because now "Santa can find our house!" We got a Santa driving a dozer to put on top of the house - perfect for us :)