Sunday, December 20, 2009

Contentment

Here is a picture of contentment to me. We don't own any sleds, so the boys made due with a rubbermaid bin! :) It's not that we're never intending to buy sleds for our kiddos; it's just we never had to because our gracious friends, the Grigers, who used to live at the bottom of our court always had enough to share. So, because Maryland gets about one good sledding kind of snow storm a year, we never made the investment in sleds. Now that our buddies have moved to a different home (oh so far away in Bel Air), I guess we'll be purchasing sleds. In the meantime, my boys found a way to make due with a rubbermaid container and a willing, hero of a Papi. (*pay no attention to my girlie in the background declaring that she helped herself in the bathroom.)
video

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blizzard 2009

So, it takes 20 minutes to get suited up, and 10 minutes after they're outside, they want to come in. Knowing this, I took video footage of the boys as soon as they stepped foot outside (when it was still fun). Now, they're out there begging to come in, and mean mommy that I am gave them a 20 minute minimum to stay out there. They're fine; they just need convinced to have fun every once in a while.



According the our county executive, we're at 8-12 inches already and will probably have another foot before the storm is over! *note to my family in PA: you may NEVER make fun of MD snow storms again. :)

video

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Can I Give Him?

Mom, I had the boys do this for you. I knew you'd love it.

video

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas candy with the Grigers

Thanks to my business with the Pampered Chef, I have a Christmas tradition of making Christmas candy wreaths with my kiddos. I found this idea from a fellow PC saleswoman and loved it. I used it at my parties last year, and it was so easy that I did it with my kids. You simply dip mini pretzels in melted chocolate and arrange in the shape of a wreath. Sprinkle with festive colored/shaped sprinkles and voila! We have branched out and made other shapes, too, like candy canes, christmas trees, etc. It's quite easy and fun, especially with friends. We had our friends, the Grigers, over today to enjoy this Christmas tradition with us.

video

Bella the ballerina

I promise I'll have videos of the boys up soon. My girlie is just too cute to not grab the camera and start shooting. Here she is "dancing" to a household favorite, the "Wiggles". Warning: you're likely to get dizzy sick watching this.
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Monday, December 07, 2009

Bella in boots

From the time she was a baby, Bella has LOVED shoes and any female accessory for that matter...purses, earrings, bracelets, rings, etc. She will take anyone's shoes and walk in them. She's quite skilled, too, at walking in any size, any shape of shoe. I would even say the girl walks better in heels than I do. Take a look at this video of my girlie strutting her stuff in my boots!

video

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Decorations 2009

You will not watch this video and think you just stepped onto a magazine's photo shoot. :) For that, check out Beth's or Danielle's blog.

I have rather ecclectic tastes, and I wouldn't say that decorating is among my strong suits. But, I like doing it, and I especially enjoy decorating with natural elements. This drives my hubby crazy as our home turns into a virtual wildlife center, creepy crawlies included. Anyway, enjoy this 3 minute video (roughly) of a walk through the main level of my home.

video

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Little Native Americans

My boys' Kindergarten teacher is one of the best! She goes to such lengths to make her students' Kindergarten experience a pleasant and memorable one. I am thrilled that my buddies get to have Mrs. Weber for a teacher. They love going to school, and are thriving in that context. Today, Mrs. Weber, with the help of her whopping four students, put on a Thanksgiving feast for her class, their parents and grandparents. Here's a video of the kids singing, something they do each day with Mrs. Weber as a part of their Bible class:

video

Mrs. Weber does many special projects with the kids to make their Thanksgiving feast a lot of fun. One thing she does is to deck the kids out in Native American gear complete with vests, necklaces, headbands with feathers, and drums. This year, Mrs. Weber also made mocassin-like booties for each of the kids to wear, and I went crazy with the face painting. She also gives them individual Native American-types of names. Judah was "Bear Claw" and Tucker was "Grey Fox".

We are so grateful for the boys' Kindergarten class and especially their teacher, Mrs. Weber. Thank you, Kathleen, for making our kids' experience of Kindergarten so memorable. We love you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bri's new "do"

Because I only go to a salon to get my hair done once, maybe twice a year (I wish I were kidding), the cut and/or color is usually on the more dramatic side. If I'm going to spend that much money on my hair, I want the whole world to know I got my hair done.

I had it done on a Thursday night after the kids were in bed. So, Friday morning when the boys woke up for school I asked if they noticed anything different about mommy. *They always noticed my haircuts/colorings in the past; I was surprised they didn't say anything right away.

Tucker's response: "You took a shower?"

nice.

Mommy: "Well, yes, I did, but what about my hair?"

Tucker: "You combed it!"

So, I'm thinking either 1.I need to work on my hygeine habits or 2. my boys really are becoming little men. :)

For all my friends and family at a distance, here's a little video of my new "do". It's a video b/c that's the only digital capability we have in our house. Nevermind the concentrated look on my face or the flyaway piece of hair in the back.

video

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Ideas for Christmas

Yet again, my friend, Laurie, inspires this post. She asked some of her twitter friends to blog some ideas for Christmas gifts. Here are my top three.

1. Something sentimental
Marketing got me this year, which is unusual for me. But, it's Hallmark and that may have something to do with it. Probably my favorite gift idea this year comes from them. It's a recordable story book. I am buying it for my parents to give to my children. I think this gift is especially great if grandparents live at a distance and can't be seen on a weekly basis. Find their selection here: http://www.hallmark.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/article%7C10001%7C10051%7C/HallmarkSite/GoldCrownStores/GCS_HOLIDAY_GIFTS_STORYBOOKS

2. Support someone
I like to multi-task. What woman doesn't? I think I found a way to "multi-task" of sorts in my gift giving this year, too. I have friends and family who have their own business from a handyman to jewelry to makeup, home decor and of course, my own business of the Pampered Chef. If you have friends and family who are in business for themselves, why not seek to support their efforts by purchasing something from them for your loved ones. It could be an item, a gift certificate/card or so many hours worth of someone's needed service. (**We'd love for any of our family to purchase some "handyman" hours from our friend, Ed Griger, to give to us for many needed home improvements.)

I'd much rather give my money to someone I know who will benefit directly from it than to Walmart. But, that's just me. :)

3. Experiences
We're not into "stuff" here at the Almengor's...well, mostly. I like experiences and/or consumable gifts. Why not bake or cook someone's favorite dish for them for Christmas? Or buy their favorite candy?
I like the idea of giving my children and family experiences rather than more things.
So, for my boys this Christmas, I'm asking for money for them to go to summer camp in 2010. And, I may ask for money for Bella to take some dance classes.
I may give our kids swimming lessons for Christmas (not sure they're going to be thrilled about this one, so it's still being discussed).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Fall Favorite and a little secret

This is for you, Laurie, and anyone else who LOVES all things apple.
The absolutely best apple cake on the planet (mind you, not necessarily the healthiest)...

Beat 3 eggs
Gradually add 2 cups sugar
Blend in 1 1/2 cups of oil (I use canola)
and 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the following dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Stir in 3 cups peeled, chopped apples and
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Pour into greased and floured 10" tube pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hr. 15 minutes

Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before tunring upside down on plate.

Topping (which is the best part of the cake, so don't skip it):
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup packed brown sugar
pinch of salt

Boil this for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over warm cake.
Try not to eat the whole thing by yourself. But if you can't manage that, just don't eat it all in one sitting. :)

And, here's a little secret from my kitchen. I'm sure I got this tip from somewhere, but I can't remember.

I love to make quick breads: zucchini, banana and pumpkin among my favorite to make. But, for any quick bread, this little tip makes the bread extra special.

**Instead of using cooking spray on your pans, try buttering the pan and then "flouring" it w/ sugar rather than flour. This creates a sugary, crunchy outer edge to the quick bread while the inside is soft, squishy goodness.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waiting for the doctor

We're trying really hard to get better here at the Almengor's.
After 5-6 days of fever/cough, we took all the kids to the doctor yesterday. Figuring the waiting room would be crowded (and it was), and not wanting to share our unknown germs with anyone else who may actually be well, LA wisely brought our laptop and a movie for the kids to watch in the van while we waited for the pediatrician to be available.

For my family and anyone else who may miss seeing my kiddos' faces, here's a little video of them watching a video. HA! I know...real exciting. I'm just figuring out how to upload the videos we've taken on our flip, so eventually, I'll get others up here.

video

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Picture of poop

Like the title? :)

All went amazingly well at Hopkins today with Tucker. In fact, I'm sitting at my dining room table at 4 pm this afternoon as he works on homework and tells his brother what to do. Today was yet another reminder of the power of prayer.

After dropping Judah off at school, I realized I had no idea where to take Tucker once down at Hopkins. Because the appointment was made recently, we had not yet received any confirmation or information letter in the mail. We drove back home so I could scramble to find any information at all. Thankfully, I still had a brochure the GI nurse gave to me at our initial office visit which told us where to go.

LA and I were so pleased with how brave Tucker was. Judah told Tucker all about what to expect from a trip to the OR as he is rather familiar with the process at this point in his life (one advantage to having a kid with chronic medical issues).

I think the hardest thing for Tucker was not being allowed to eat. He wasn't thrilled about and cried while LA put on his hospital gown, which I refer to his "Jedi Knight-gown" because I think my buddies look like little Luke Skywalker's in it. Unfortunately, today the pre-op. only had a hospital 'shirt', so Tucker got to keep his jeans on...not quite as cute.

I was super proud of Tucker as we walked back through the ever crowded and industrial hallways of Hopkins to his OR room. He kept repeating that he didn't want to do this as I reminded him he didn't have to want to do; he just had to do it. I reminded him that I wouldn't allow anyone to do anything to him that would harm him and that while he may not like going through this, it was ultimately to find out what has been making his tummy hurt.

At my sons' age, it does no good to try to keep reality from them. They are much better served by knowing ahead of time what they're going to experience....not much ahead of time, mind you. But, we definitely do not want to spring any unfamiliar and potentially scary experience on them and hope they will forget and forgive us later for it. I believe this has been a bit of the wisdom God's granted to us as we've prayed so many times for Judah and all our kids' medical issues. I felt a sense of confirmation of that as one of the post-op. nurses passed on commendation from the pre-op. nurses and OR docs for how we "handled" our son before the surgery and during the "take down". :)

A nice "trick" we've picked up along the way (and one you may want to keep in mind for yourself or others you may come across who will have to go under for surgery or a procedure) is to ask for chapstick to coat the inside of the gas mask. It helps a bit with the yucky smell of the anesthesia. Tucker picked bubble gum flavored chapstick, and boy did he paint the inside of that mask something fierce. We allowed him to hold the mask at first as the anesthesiologist told knock knock jokes (which were actually kind of funny). The anesth. dr. was very patient and well experienced, and did a great job keeping Tucker calm while the gas took effect. Tucker didn't cry at all for this part, and went into a nice, deep sleep rather quickly.

As Tucker faded, I was sure to tell him that I would be there when he woke up and that Jesus would be with him the entire time he was in the OR. I was very comforted and encouraged to hear the anesthesiologist say, "He's in this room with us all the time." Not something I've come to expect from medical staff, but super grateful nonetheless.

LA and I grabbed a snack in the cafeteria and shortly after we returned to the waiting room, Tucker was all done.

He came out of anesthesia really fast and really well. I was waiting for the "shoe to drop", but it didn't and hasn't... no throwing up, no nausea. He ate like a champ and has been pleasant, coherent. He's done so well.

We should have results from the bloodwork and biopsies by next week. We'll let you know, but for now, there was nothing that looked terribly alarming to the physician who performed the tests. The doctor did make copies of the pictures he took and gave them to us which included a picture of my son's poop....lovely, huh? I'm thinking he'll probably love that for show and tell. Kathleen?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tucker's Turn

Tomorrow, LA and I will be taking Tucker to Hopkins for some testing to find out what is ailing him with his GI tract/throat. He'll be under general anesthesia with intubation which is probably the most complicated part of the whole thing. Intubation can make recovery a bit rough given my boys' history with asthma. I've started Tucker on some preventive asthma meds. hoping this will help matters.

Tucker will have an endoscopy, some biopsies, bloodwork along with some other tests that I frankly can't remember the names of. All this is being done with the intention of discovering what has been bringing so much discomfort to my son for the last 4 months. I must say, though, that I know of many folks who have been praying for my little guy and his symptoms have been a lot better in the last 3 weeks. We are grateful.

Please pray the doctors would be gentle with Tucker before, during and after the procedure.
Please pray that we will walk out with some answers for what is ailing my son.
Please pray that LA and I will faithfully and skillfully lead our son and our other children through these circumstances.
Please pray that our trust in God will not falter and we will be found faithful as we walk through this trial with one another.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Rite of Passage

Just something I want to remember.... I sent the boys on their first errand, alone. My sweet friend and neighbor, Heather, picked up some groceries for me while she was at the store last week. I needed to get them from her in order to finish my dinner on Friday, but Bella was still napping.

SO, I sent the boys together on their first errand: to run to the bottom of our court, give the money I had given them to Miss Heather, collect our groceries from her and run home. I told them to stay on the sidewalks and not talk to anyone they didn't know. I called Heather to let her know they were coming and asked for her to look out for them. I noted the time on the phone when the left my house. Heather called me when they left her house. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw them running home, groceries in hand.

A BIG to do for just a short jaunt to the bottom of our court. But, it wasn't just a short jaunt, was it? It was a giant leap into independence for my boys. And a giant leap for me, I might add, into letting go. sigh.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kindergarten Cuties

Mrs.Weber, the boys' kindergarten teacher, has a mailbox in her room where people can leave mail for the students to receive each day. I left a note for each of my sons last night from being at the school for Back to School Night.
When I picked my boys up today from school and asked if they got mail, Tucker replied that he did. I said, "Who was it from?"
Tucker's response: "Someone's mommy".

_____________________________________________

September is "Teddy Bear" month for Mrs. Weber's Kindergarten class. For Kindergarten cafe which they do once a month, they will be making root "bear" floats. Judah was very excited about this as he told me about it today. He said, "Mom, we're going to mix icecream and beer; it's going to be so good!" :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Night Before the First Day of Kindergarten

Pants are hemmed, ironed and laid out along with their white polos and brand new sneakers.
Backpacks are packed with their first pencil boxes filled with scissors, glue, crayons and of course, a brand new pencil.
Snacks are prepared for their mid-morning snack. Judah will have an apple; Tucker, a banana.
Boys are in bed.
Mom is trying to capture every last moment of her babies being pre-schoolers.
Tomorrow, at 8:30 am, one season ends and a new season begins.

I had big plans to make this transition from one season to the next very momentous. We were going to do an "end of summer" trip to Broom's Bloom, our favorite local dairy where they serve the best hand dipped icecream in the county. I thought of a special breakfast such as chocolate chip pancakes or Dunkin Donuts (to have on a Monday would be very special at our house). These were two ideas among others. Somehow, special events always seem to be accompanied by food, and for the Almengor's, it's usually something sweet.

But, we've been hit with a small trial here that required me to re-think my plans. As I mentioned in the post previous to this one, Tucker has been having some issues with his throat, what was being treated as reflux. We have seen a GI specialist, and are waiting to hear back from a scheduler at the hospital for Tucker to have some further testing done. In the meantime, my son is in so much discomfort, and to hear him describe his affliction to me, to see him not be able to eat, disinterested in play, lethargic and constantly distracted by the pain in his throat without being able to do anything to help him has been such a test for me....a test in trusting God, trusting that He hears our prayers for mercy and healing, a test to trust that God is always working ALL things together for my good and the good of all who love Him.

But, I've been given this test before, in fact many times throughout my life. And, to my shame, I have failed this test many, many times. After the first real test of losing my father to brain cancer when I was 12 yrs. old, I spent years wrestling with this issue of God's unfailing goodness to me.

So, now, as a mother of children who seem to have a number of health issues, a context that can often tempt a person to doubt God's kindness, mercy and love for them, I am keenly aware of the opportunity I have been given to help my children grow up with an unshakable confidence in God and in what He says about Himself in His Word. I recognize that when my children get sick, it is not only a trial for me, but for them. Furthermore, it is not only an opportunity for God to work in my life but also to be at work in the hearts of my children as well.

My prayer throughout the last several weeks as I've prayed for my son has been two-fold. One, that God would heal my son's physical ailment. Two, I've been praying that God would give me eyes to see not only what He is wanting to do in my heart but also what He is wanting to establish in my son's heart.

I wish I could take my son's suffering. If I could snap my fingers and make it go away, I would. But, my wisdom is faulty and short sighted. God's wisdom is perfect. And, somehow, in God's perfect wisdom, He has chosen for Tucker to continue to suffer. I want to impart to my son a full confidence not in his or his mommy's wisdom but in God's perfect wisdom. I want to impart to my son a confidence that accompanying God's perfect wisdom is His perfect love and mercy. I pray Tucker will feel better soon. I pray that God will heal him fully or provide means of grace through medication and/or medical intervention of some sort that will bring health to his body once again. But, I also pray that God would sure up in my son's heart at this young age an absolute confidence that God is for him, that God loves him enough not only to heal Tucker's physical body but moreso to send HIS Son to suffer and die on a cross so that Tucker's soul would be made pure and right with God.

Would you pray this way for us as well?

As we embark on a new season here at the Almengor's, we will trust that God has gone before us, will come behind us and has His hand upon us. We will trust that the same measure of love and mercy that God has shown us up until today will follow after us all the days of our lives.

And, I will try very hard not to cry tomorrow as I leave my sons in the very capable care and instruction of their first school teacher, Mrs. Kathleen Weber.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Day at the doctors

Originally when LA took the day off today, it was to have some much needed down time for himself and family time with us. God had other things in mind, and that's fine...He is omniscient after all (or how I often put it, "God knows").

Judah began taking a new medication about a month ago, and the time was approaching for him to have some bloodwork done to see how his body was responding to the new medication. I thought it would be nice (for me anyway) for my hubby to take Judah to the lab. Tucker went with Judah, and was a great source of encouragement and distraction. On the way out the door this morning, I heard Tucker say to Judah, "Judah, you've got to be brave." I'm so grateful God has given them to each other as a constant companion.

Later in the day, we had to take Tucker for a consult with a G.I. doctor for some issues he's been dealing with all summer that we have, up until today, thought was reflux. Working with our pediatrician throughout the summer, we've adjusted Tucker's diet and tried a variety of medications/doses to little or no avail. So, today we took him to see a specialist.

After a long dialogue about Tucker's symptoms and a brief exam, it was decided that further testing is required to determine exactly what is ailing him. The GI dr. doesn't believe it's the "run of the mill" reflux but may be something called, "Eosinophilic Esophagitis" instead. I don't understand all the implications of this, but do know that it results from the body responding to some food as an allergen. Tucker will have to go under anesthesia to have several biopsies taken from his esophagus, stomach, lower GI tract and rectum...yeah, not pleasant. I'm glad he'll be under for this.

Though it would probably be a miracle, I'm praying we might be able to get this procedure scheduled for next week, before Judah and Tucker start school on the 14th.

It has been difficult to watch Tucker suffer all summer with what we thought was reflux. He will often say, "it feels like I'm going to throw up and sneeze at the same time." He's gone through periods where he hasn't been able to eat well if at all. The symptoms have gotten better at times but always come back. Most recently, he's been sleeping propped up on his pillow because it hurts too much to lay down. He'll wake up crying, and knows where all our "stashes" of Tums are located throughout the house. Poor guy.

It's not easy watching my 5 yr. old, Judah, brace himself for another blood draw. Nevertheless, I trust that God is using it for the good of all of us. While these are unpreferable circumstances, they are ripe with opportunity to impress upon my children the nearness of God, how He hears our prayers and furthermore, that we were not made for this world, but to live with God in eternity with perfect bodies. It presents a natural context to talk with them about sin and how it has reaked havoc on this world and our bodies, minds and everything else about us. It allows us to freely speak of Heaven and encourage our children to put their hope in Christ's return when He will make everything right again and take us to the perfect place that He is now creating for us.

For all this and more, I end this day giving thanks and affirming my trust in the One who created Judah and Tucker, who knit them together in my womb, who has numbered their days and knows the number of hairs on their heads, who loves them way more than I ever could...enough to send a His Son to die for their sins.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Pleasures in Pictures


One thing we love to do is go to Jerusalem Mill or what my children refer to as "the river". There are hiking trails, picnic tables and one precious spot that is perfect for pre-schoolers. A shallow spot of flowing river with plenty of shade and just enough of a shore for the mommas to park a seat and a packed lunch. We spend the entire morning there and finish up just in time for naps! I love seeing the kids explore the shore line, the water, throw rocks, dig in the dirt, watch the butterflies and just enjoy being outside in God's creation. What a blessing this little spot on the water has become to our family.



This would be Tucker indulging himself in his birthday treat. One of the things we did for the boys' 5th birthday was take them individually out on a date with mom and dad. We took them to a family favorite, Dunkin Donuts, to get a donut and milk. Then, we headed to Cracker Barrel where they were allowed to pick up to $5 worth of candy. This is one thing Tucker chose. I honestly thought he would bug me about eating it until it was finished, but he sucked on it during our date with him and hasn't asked for it since. And, I haven't exactly reminded him about it either. :)



This is Bella chompin down on a roasted corn from the Latino Fest. My girlie can eat!

What's summer without watermelon?! Here are my 3 buddies enjoying a slice out on our front steps.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Free Sundaes

After sweating buckets at a local playground, I decided (upon the kids' suggestion) that an icecream treat was in order. I had coupons for free sundaes at McDonald's thanks to our local library's summer reading program, so decided to take the kids there. As we walked in, Bella screams, "Mom, where's the cow? Where's the cow, mom?"

Redneck Swimming

We had one of those great blow up plastic pools for the kids to swim in, but we found it would get slimy and full of dirt too quickly. That and a slow leak in it prompted us to pass it along. Instead, we find this does the trick when the kiddos need a little water refreshment:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Every Momma's Dream

We are observing that our son, Tucker, is a "natural-born" leader. He is an initiator (only for now it usually gets him in trouble). He typically receives much admonishment from us about being bossy, though we trust that one day that will turn into a gentle guiding of others into doing what's right. At least we pray so, and that's what we're aiming to accomplish in our training and discipline of our son.

This week, he's endured a lot of time in the "discipline spot" for helping himself to things without permission, for not appreciating his boundaries as a 4 year old and, instead acting as if he's in charge. We've talked a lot about this especially this week.

This morning, he brought his medicine to me in bed so I could give it to him (something he's learned to do rather than helping himself to his medicine....no, I'm not kidding), and told me he had a surprise for me out in the hallway. He couldn't wait for me to get out of bed to see it. I was thinking it was probably a lego tower of some sort or that he had brought his bowl of cereal upstairs to eat in the hallway (another thing he has done that he's not allowed to do).

Instead, I came out to the hallway to see nothing. That's right. Nothing. Tucker had taken all the dirty laundry from bath night the night before downstairs to our laundry room all by himself without being asked! Well, you can imagine my delight. I praised and thanked him and told him how blessed I was by his servant's heart to bless his momma. His smile could have lit up a room.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Motivational Speaker or Manipulative Brother?

This morning, I asked the boys to help me put the laundry away by putting their own piles of laundry in their drawers.
Tucker "cleverly" enticed his brother to do the work for him by saying, "Judah, you do the housework; you'll get blessed!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Judah's growth

Judah had a follow up appointment with the endocrinologist today. I took Tucker along today and left Bella with a sitter. I am glad that Tucker is now old enough to join Judah on some of his doctors' visits. I am trusting that bringing Tucker along will benefit both the boys in the long run.


Judah's endocrin. visits consistently tempt me with anxiety as it's been confirmed that Judah has a partial growth hormone deficiency, and the recommendation is to treat him with human growth hormone (HGH) shots daily. We have held off on this course of treatment as Judah has shown to be staying on the growth curve and steadily growing since we began tracking it closely about 2 years ago now. Granted, he's only on the 5th percentile, but he's on the chart, and he keeps growing at a "normal" pace. So, the doctor has been satisfied by that and been agreeable with our decision to hold off on beginning the HGH shots.


Today, the doctor reiterated that Judah's IGF1 levels are low (not that that means much to anyone reading this) and that his thyroid levels, though within normal ranges, are in the lower end of normal. When she recorded his growth and charted him in about the 6th/7th percentile, she declared, "his growth is amazing given the clear deficiency in growth hormone." I smile and silently give thanks to Judah's Creator who I know is ultimately in control of Judah's growth.


After asking the doctor if she has seen any other children follow this pattern, she says she has but it's unusual and that eventually, Judah's growth will "poop out" (her words) and match what we're seeing on his blood work.


For today, she was satisfied with taking another blood draw, to our surprise but Judah did remarkably well, and seeing Judah again in 3-4 months for another height/weight check.


Walking out of the clinic today with my little men at my side, I gave thanks to God for His mercy on Judah's life once again. I gave thanks for being given more time to pray and wait in faith for God to heal Judah of his apparent growth hormone deficiency.


On the way to the doctor this morning, Tucker asked if we could listen to worship music (as opposed to the "spanish CD" that the boys typically like to listen to). I was glad to oblige him. He suggested I play, "It is Well With My Soul" for Judah. Very sweet, thoughtful evidence of God's grace on that little guy's life. I have had the kids listen to a Jars of Clay version a lot recently on youtube. We all really like this version, and you can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnLOBwRbg_M


While in the clinic, the boys were coloring in a book the nurse gave to each of them, and ironically, on one of the pages they were asked to write their favorite song. Judah quickly said, "It is Well With My Soul". I am grateful for those precious times when God uses my children to remind me that HE is indeed near. Today we had a few of those moments.

I do want to be able to say, "It is well with my soul" no matter what path God will choose for us to walk with Judah. I do believe that's a part of the work He's doing in all our hearts here in the Almengor home. Thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Letters for Grandma

My boys were working on "books" of their art for grandma. Tucker wanted to send his to her in the mail. He told me he wanted an envelope to put his name on the front so that grandma would know it was from him and not the mail lady.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Fishing Expedition


"You get a line, I get a pole

We'll go fishin' in the crawfish hole...." (lyrics from Little Big Town's "Boondocks", see video here)
The boys had their first fishing experience with their Papi yesterday. LA has been looking forward to this since before they were born. Behind the tears of having just been stabbed by the fish, Judah is having the time of his life. Tucker and Judah caught 6 fish each!!!
"Props" to the Neumann's who so kindly stock their pond extended an open invitation to our family to fish from it and to Vince, a co-worker of my hubby's. whose fond memories of fishing with his dad motivated him to help LA teach our boys how it's done. His fishing expertise played an integral part in making the boys' first fishing experience such a success.




Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mother's Day, 2009

These are a little late, but without having a digital camera, it takes me a while to get pictures developed, uploaded onto my computer and then finally onto the blog. I know; we live in the "dark ages" here. One day, we'll have a digital camera, God willing.

Lawrence did really well with the kids this year (with a few reminders and I think only one, more heated discussion about the upcoming Mother's Day). He surprised me with his creativity and I was very blessed by what he put together to honor me on Mother's Day.

More significantly, this year I was sincerely able to wrestle down my heart that, in its pride, thinks I should be honored, have the day off and be pampered with all the earthly pleasures that delight my fancy. While it is not wrong to be honored, have the day off or be pampered, it is wrong to consider oneself deserving of these things and demand them. Instead, benefitting from the prayers and accountability of a friend, I was able to honor my Mother in law this year by making her dinner and seeking to honor her on Mother's day.

Sadly, yet in typical child-like fashion, I forgot to even call my own mother. Oh, what a hypocrit I can be...demand something from my own children (who are 4,4 and 2) that I didn't even give it to my own mother when I am how old? My mother was very gracious when I did finally call her a day or two later. I want to be like her when I grow up! :)

Enjoy these pics. of what my hubby/kiddos did for me this Mother's Day.


Our time at the "Beach"

The day after tax day, April 16th, my hubby took the day off (a much needed day off for all of us). We took the kids to a local park that had a beach head. We had the beach mostly to ourselves. It was a brisk, but beautiful sunny day. In fact, it was the only sunny day that entire week. And, our kids were actually sick the days before and after this day off. But, for this day, God seemed to have suspended all woes for us and gave us a wonderful family day together.
Here is a slideshow of our time together at the beach.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Benadryl

The boys have been taking Benadryl before bedtime due to seasonal allergies. The other night Judah asked if they had gotten their "Conner-adryl". I was rather confused as all three of my guys laughed their heads off at this.

You see, the boys have cousins named "Ben" and "Conner". I heard Judah tonight say, "Come on, Tucker; let's go get our "Josh-adryl". (that would be Ben's brother).

They are clearly on a whole different humor playing field from their momma. I think Judah gets his humor from Lawrence. Either way, he keeps us laughing (when I get it anyway).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sucking the Thumb

Judah has a habit of sucking his thumb. As he's grown older, it's become something he does only when he's tired or upset about something, usually. On occasion, I'll find him simply zoning out with his thumb in his mouth, especially on a day like today when he's had less sleep than he's needed, his routine has been upset, and he's had 2 of his least favorite kinds of doctor's appointments within the span of 4 days. So, I wasn't surprised to see him with his thumb in his mouth as he watched Thomas the Tank Engine this morning.

Nevertheless, I try to encourage him to take his thumb out of his mouth, letting him know it's not good for his teeth.

This morning, Judah asked again what it will do to his teeth. So, as I explained that his teeth will get pushed out further and further which could make talking correctly and eating more difficult along with other potential problems, he responded with, "...and I'll have to get BRACELETS on my teeth."

Braces, my son, braces.

Friday, May 01, 2009

More than Scribbles

For the longest time, I really thought my boys would only scribble when given a piece of paper and crayons. But, alas they have moved on beyond scribbles and now actually draw decipherable pictures. They love to draw. Apart from playing with their Thomas the Tank engines and tracks, reading and drawing are their 2 favorite past times. Here are some pictures of my little artists:



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Answering Machine Messages....

... a glimpse into my life:

#1 a message from myself when I was on the road somewhere and didn't have paper to write down something I needed to remember.

#2 Elisha from Eyedentity to let me know my contacts are in (she's actually left 2 messages because they've been there for weeks as I haven't had time to go get them).

#3 Judah's endocrinologist communicating the results of some recent bloodwork Judah had done.

#4 A random woman I met shopping at Aldi's about a month ago. She and her family are from Kenya; she's new to the area and has a very thick accent. Something prompted me to reach out to her while standing in line at Aldi's. That something was likely the fact that my hubby had the kids out in the car and I was free to actually engage in conversation with an adult nearby. :)

#5 and 6 Call backs from sitters who aren't able to babysit for us....sitters: something we always seem to be in need of.

#7 a call from a gentleman in my church wanting to buy Pampered Chef product from me.

And, that pretty much is a good picture of my life. ;)

Shop-Rite

Recently, I took the kids to a grocery store they had never been to with me. Formerly Kleins, it is now known as "Shop-Rite". Pulling into the parking lot, Judah asked where we were and when I told him, "Shop-Rite", he responded with, "What if we shop wrong?"

Judah doesn't even know how funny he is sometimes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March

In like a lion with a snow storm at the beginning of the month. I'd like to believe it'll go out like a lamb, but it's been cold, rainy and wet for a while. We've got several days for it to turn around, and this girl is really ready for some warmer, sunny weather!

We've had a number of doctor's appointments this month, and there is much to give thanks for in regards to them. The kids all went to the dentist early in the month, Bella for her first visit. She did great!! If I haven't said it before, I will say it now. We LOVE our pediatric dentist and her office staff. I take the kids to "Growing Smiles". Sadly, they dropped our insurance last fall, but because the dentist, Dr. Capobianco, is so knowledgable about the oral issues Judah could/will be facing with his SWS and PWS, I am willing to pay the out of network fees in order to keep at least him there, if not all my kids. I'm still waiting to see just how much out of pocket it's going to mean for our kids to keep going there.

Judah had a follow up visit with his endocrinologist this month as well. Much to my surprise and absolute delight, Judah has a growth average within normal ranges. FYI: Normal range for a child Judah's age is 5 cm or more a year. Judah has an average of 5.2 cm. Way to go, Judah!!! And, we are giving much thanks to God for this as well. In addition, Judah has not gone above the 5 percentile in height for years. This last visit, he was in the 6th percentile! I was fully expecting the doctor to want to repeat a test Judah had last year which requires a 3 hour IV and blood draws every 1/2 hour. But, because Judah's numbers were so good, she was satisfied having some simple blood work done right there in the office (which went surprisingly well given I had all three of my kids with me by myself) and taking another height measurement within 6 months.

This week, Judah saw his opthamologist, and there was good news there as well. In regards to his vision, Judah's weaker eye seems to be holding its own, not getting a whole lot better but not getting worse. His pressure appears stable indicating that the glaucoma surgeries he had a couple years ago now are continuing to do their job.

We go tomorrow to Dr. Cohen, Judah's dermatologist, for the dreaded laser treatment. But, last time, Judah resolved not to cry and did amazingly well. We are having his face lasered this time which is much more difficult for him, but we're taking Miss De, and Tucker and Bella will join us this visit as well. Dunkin Donuts will be enjoyed by all afterward, and I'm hoping it'll be a positive experience overall. The nice thing about the scheduling of Judah's laser treatments is that they fall on Friday's which are our "Pizza/Family Night", something the boys have now come to look forward to and enjoy every week. Along with the promise of Dunkin Donuts, Judah also has Pizza/Family Night to look forward to after his treatments. I think that all helps.

I've had a pesky molar tooth that has needed some attention this month as well. It is a tooth that had a root canal 4 years ago. Apparently, the infection is back. (I did not know this could happen before it happened to me). So, I've had a 2nd root canal done now and go back next week to see if the infection is clearing up with the additional work that's been done on it. If the fact that it throbs everyday and I can't eat on that side of my mouth is any indication of how it's doing, I'm thinking it may not be doing so well. I'll wait and see what the doctor says next week.

While it's been a month full of doctors appointments and other medical issues (I have spent many hours on the phone trying to work out some hospital bills that were incorrectly processed), it's also been full of more enjoyable events as well.

LA and I celebrated 7 years of marriage on the 16th of this month. We took an overnight trip to Annapolis back at the end of January as our V-Day/Anniv. celebration. So, on our actual anniversary, we pulled out our wedding album and took the kids through it. It was a sweet way to commemorate our day and begin to draw the boys into that aspect of our life together.

I know I'm not the first mom and won't be the last to say her kids are growing up too quickly. My boys and I went into our church's school early in the month for a Kindergarten open house. The boys got to "meet" their teacher, Mrs. Weber (who they already know from church), and watch her in action. They also got to meet Mrs. Eberwein, their potential music teacher next year, and played "Bingo" in her music class with the rest of the kindergarteners. My boys are simply thrilled about going to school. The only disappointment is that they won't ride a school bus. :) They'll have some testing coming up in April to ensure that they're ready for Kindergarten. I think they'll do fine. Good thing there's no test for the parents to see if they're ready to send their kid(s) because I'm sure I'd fail!

We are all greatly looking forward to and anticipating April 15th, the official "end" of LA's busy season. While it seems his job continues to demand more time of him than any of us would prefer and he seems to always be in a "busy" season of sorts, God willing, Saturdays at the office will stop for certain come mid-April. And, God willing his days won't be as long as they are now. We are all really looking forward to having more of his presence in our home again, especially with the warmer weather coming. We love getting out together as a family to hike, play at the park, take walks, visit friends, and icecream/snowball places, etc.

SO, on that note...I do hope March will settle down into some more mild weather soon. I'm ready to pack up the kids' coats and pull out their crocs. We'll see!

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Scandal of it all

Seems my sweet angel, Bella, has a devilish side to her. Don't we all? Yep. It's called the sin nature and we're born with it no matter how amazingly cute, beautiful or innocent babies look.

Last week in church, our number was flashed at the front of the church to indicate that we needed to attend to one of our children's needs. It's usually for a diaper change or to take one of the boys to the bathroom. Nope. Not this time. This time, it was because my sweet baby threw another little girl out of her chair and tried to steal her pacifier. Nice. Sovereignly, my husband was the one who responded to the call. When he got back to our seat and told me what had happened, I actually started to cry.

I had such a long, hard week of discipline with my little girl, and I was discouraged by this report. I was also embarrassed to say the least. In moments like this, which happen a lot in my world, I want to look around at all the people witnessing my children's bad behavior and reassure them that, yes, I do discipline them at home. Consistently. No. Faithfully. No. But, I do discipline them. I promise. I know it doesn't look like it. But, I do...really. I do.

My ever discerning and gospel-centered husband quickly and rightly concluded what was going on in my heart at the moment and wrote a little note to me on the bulletin. It read something like this, "The scandal is not that our little girl is a sinner. The scandal is that God loved her enough to send His perfect son, Jesus, to shed His blood for her sins."

I was so helped in that moment. I was set straight in such a gracious, God-glorifying way. My heart's response to my husband's little note was, "YES! It's true. It is scandalous that the Perfect Creator of the Universe would condescend in such a way to love us and save us from our sins and from eternal death!"

So, today, when my daughter, unprovoked, smacked some boy in the library and made him cry, I was able to not be so surprised or embarrassed by her behavior but instead remember that I know God, her Savior, and have been given the amazing privilege of leading her to this Savior in these moments. I pray that one day, she will convincingly recognize not only her need for a Savior but also the Savior Himself, Jesus Christ who came to seek and save sinners just like her.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Katycakes

I have the most talented family members on the planet. One sister-in-law weaved my mom a wine bottle holding basket for Christmas this year. Another sister-in-law always wins my parents' hearts with the unique photo gifts she puts together of her children, my parents' grandchildren. Another sister-in-law (yes, I have many) always seems to find the perfect gift for whoever is on her list. My husband's sister always brings laughter with her along with good fashion, for which my husband is very grateful. She keeps my wardrobe updated both with her hand-me-downs and the generous purchases she makes on my behalf. (I think I'm her charity case, but I don't mind).

My younger sister responds with incredible courage, focus and skill in emergencies. It's not a wonder that she chose the ER for her first nursing experience and is now working on a burn unit (yeah, how many of us could do that?) My older sister...well, where to start and end? The girl manages two at home businesses, hers and her husbands, while remaining a full time mom to 2 children. Anything she bakes/cooks turns out to be a culinary delight and she is ever generous whenever we gather as a family, bringing way more than anyone could ever eat. But, trust me. We try.

Like all the gals on both sides of my family, my sister-in-law, Kate is uber-talented!! Among her many talents is an ability to create amazing cakes, cupcakes and other baked goods that are to die for. She is currently going to culinary school to finally own the title of an official pastry chef; although, in my opinion, this is just a formality because she already produces at this level. She has been called on by many family members, friends, and others to make something for a special event. She has finally put a blog together to display her amazing cakes, and I am thrilled to promote her in whatever way I can. Check out a sampling of her expertise at: http://www.katycakes.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We're all sick here with sore throats, chest colds. Not fun. Not anything anyone else hasn't had this winter or will have. Last night, Judah had a pretty bad asthma attack. Thankfully, God mercifully spared us of having to take him to the ER, but we weren't all that certain at one point whether we were going to get him through it. Pretty unsettling stuff to deal with in the middle of the night, but we're somewhat used to it at the same time.

So, today I declared it "movie day" with my kids who were mostly excited about that. However, we've been playing more games with the boys, and Tucker really wanted to play "Pick Up Sticks". So, I suggested that we watch a movie, play a game, watch a movie, play a game, etc....go back and forth like that all day. Judah blurts out, "Mom, that's a pattern."

Ya think my guys are ready for school? :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ever hear of an Endodontist?

If you have, you are cringing right now? If not, let me tell you what this is. It's a doctor who does root canals all day. That's all he does. Root canals. All day. What in the world kind of person do you have to be to pursue endodontistry?

Well, I have been referred to an endodontist by my dentist who is suspecting that the infection from one of my root canals (yes, I have had more than one) is back. Apparently, this happens. I didn't realize that before today. Learning a lot today.

I have to admit that hearing that news tempted me to become discouraged and at very least, to grumble. We have a battery of doctor's appointments coming up in the next 4-6 weeks in the midst of an already very stressful season of our lives. My husband's work hours are very demanding right now (tax season) which puts added responsibility on my plate. I have three young children still at home. I am battling other pain issues physically and trying to sustain a part-time business through the Pampered Chef. There are also the "little" things of daily life that can tempt me to complain, like the fact that our 25 + year old couch's legs decided they would not hold one more person up and broke at caregroup last night which I hosted in my home (while my hubby is traveling out of town). Or, the squirrel who got into my trash last night that I foolishly left out on the back deck to take out to the curb this morning rather than throwing it into the trash can. Or, the children who refuse to take naps or stay in their rooms for rest time when I have a Pampered Chef party to prepare for.

These are my details, but you have your own. Things that tempt us to daily grumble or even despair. I recently listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on trials. It has proven helpful to me in the last couple days. Listen here for some fresh perspective on your "trials of many kinds".

Knowing that I can tend toward "over-spiritualizing" things, I thought I'd also include a link to one of my more recent favorite country songs (and no, I'm not turning my blog into a Top 20 Country countdown). :) This song has helped me to just smile and take things in stride a bit easier. It's not necessarily theologically sound, but it's just fun. (**Gretchen, I think you and Dave, the Altrogges and the rest of your gang will like this one if you can get past the twang of it). :) Here is the link to "Sounds Like Life to Me" by Darryl Worley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrMlPLr2s4Q

Getting pretty creative

Today I was in the midst of discplining one of my sons, and I asked, "son, why did you hit your brother?"

His response: "I...was....pretending...to build him into a building."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bella!

It's hard to believe my baby girl turns 2 today! 2 years ago, I was in the throws of transition with this much anticipated delivery. We weren't 100% certain it was a girl, but were delighted beyond description when it proved to be so. The delight in our daughter only grows with each day. She is such a gift from God to us.

Bella is such a blend of rough and tumble, a typical product of having 2 older brothers, and true girlyness. She loves balls and all things sports related. She's a better, more aggressive climber than the boys were at her age. She'll fall and get right back up. As much as I love doing her hair, soon after it's done, she'll rip it all out.

But, she is also my girlie girl. I have nicknamed her my "accessory girl". She loves any and all accessories: bracelets, hats, shoes, purses to name a few. Finally acquiring some baby dolls for Christmas, she can often be found during the day taking great care of them; although she doesn't seem to like to keep them dressed for some reason. :) I was able to catch a quick video with my phone the other day of her rocking her babies and singing to them....sweetest thing ever. Wish I could post it, but you'll just have to ask to see it on my phone next time you see me.

And, she loves to mimic mommy (I'm grateful and scared at the same time about this one). What she has mimicked so far that has been a delight is to see her "cooking" or tidying something up. She especially likes to wipe things off with her rag or sweep things off the floor.

While I cannot wait for her to grow in order to be able to really train her in all things domestic (which for me means sending her at times to many of the more domestically capable women in my family---and I have no problem with that), I am grateful for each day of her little life and do not take it for granted. LA reminds me often, and I am sorely aware, of how quickly our kiddos are growing up. We'll often find ourselves in the midst of a sweet or not so sweet parenting moment, simply enjoying the gift of our children and LA will say something like, "remember when we celebrated our daughter's 2nd birthday and the boys ate all her cupcakes before her party?" [They didn't do this, but it's something that could likely happen in our home and illustrates the point I'm trying to make].

Consequently, I love this song by Tim McGraw called, "My Little Girl". I'm a country fan and while I hope my baby girl won't be chasing after Mustangs or be a "mustang" in heart, I still love this song. If you're a country fan and especially if you have a little girlie, give it a listen. http://www.cmt.com/videos/tim-mcgraw/110125/my-little-girl.jhtml

And, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY GIRL! We love you so much more than words can describe.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Questions and Answers

Recently, I began to go through Sinclair Ferguson's "Big Book of Questions and Answers" with the boys in the morning at the breakfast table.
It's lay out is simple and can be quickly done which is great for the short attention span of 4 year old boys.
Today's question was, "Has God always made people in the same way?"

In the discussion that followed, I asked the boys how Adam (the first man created) was created.

Judah's answer: "He was created without clothes."

:)