Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Few Good Christmas Stories

I have a couple of specific Christmas stories that I didn't put into my last post, but that I believe are very worth mentioning!

Dressed to Impress -- Again...
Last year, Faith and Grace wore these adorable red velvet dresses to Christmas Mass. One was borrowed from ZZ and had been worn by all three of her girls. The other was borrowed from one of my best friends, Sheena, and had been worn by her two girls. They didn't match exactly, but complimented each other well.

As I was getting the girls' clothes out for Mass on Monday, I came across these same dresses. I looked at the tags and decided that they may be able to wear them again. Todd got the girls dressed and, sure enough, the dresses fit. They were much snugger and much shorter than last year, but they still fit! I guess there is some advantages to having kids who don't seem to want to grow very fast!

Merry Christmas, Mommy! Oops...
Weeks ago, I told Todd that I wanted him to buy and install under-counter lighting for me for Christmas. I hadn't made much mention of it since then and when he and Devin went on a covert shopping mission this weekend, I had to wonder if Home Depot was on the list of stops.

Later that day, Devin and I were standing at the kitchen counter, making cookies. In a moment of sheer evil, I told Devin that I would love to have some lights under the counter so that I could see better when I was cooking. With a face full of delight, Devin turned to me and said, "That's exactly what we're doing!"

As if this isn't funny enough, as Devin is blurting out that he and Todd just bought under-counter lighting for me, Todd comes running into the kitchen from the dining room yelling, "No no no no no!!!" in an effort to get Devin to keep his mouth shut.

I baited him, I admit it. But it was so worth it, especially to see always-calm-and-collected Todd lose it for just a moment.

Hello Devin? This is Santa!
That same day, a little while later, the five of us were playing in the front living room. A shadow was cast from the window in our two-story entry way and made a shape high up on on the wall that Devin deemed to be a sleigh on our roof. He ran outside to see if he could see Santa and his team and swore up and down that he heard jingle bells.

During all of this, I slipped away and found a Web site that allows you to place a personalized call to your child from Santa. As if that weren't enough, you got to pick the theme of the call -- the elves are wrapping presents, we're loading the sleigh, etc.

One of the themes happened to be "Flight Practice," so I chose that one, made sure they had the pronunciation of Devin's name correct and placed the order.

Sure enough, seconds later, our phone rang with Caller ID reading, "North Pole." We picked up the phone, put it on speaker and there was Santa, telling Devin all about how he was in the area, practicing landing and taking off from San Antonio rooftops. The call lasted for about two minutes and we missed parts of it because Devin kept yelling into the phone, "I love you, Santa!"

When the call was over, Devin looked at me and Todd with tears in his eyes. We recently taught him about tears of joy and I asked him, "Are you crying?" He answered, "Yes." I asked, "Are they tears of joy?" and that's when he lost it.

I'm not talking about a little bit of tears and sniffling, I'm talking utter wailing and sobbing. He just couldn't believe that Santa had placed a personal call to him and that he, Devin Pruetz, had made it to the top of Santa's "Nice" list.

It was the happiest and yet most pathetic thing I have ever witnessed. If I had known that the phone call would elicit that kind of reaction, I would have broken out the video camera!

And a Devin's Doozie for good measure
The girls gave up morning naps a couple of months ago, but often go down for "quiet time" around 10:30 a.m. if they become cranky. It's a good time for them to decompress and for me to get a few things done.

On Friday, the girls were staring to get restless upstairs, but before I could go get them, Devin volunteered to go upstairs and play with them.

Hmmmmm...

2 19-month-olds entertained
+ 1 four-year-old doing the entertaining
_________________________________________
A few moments of peace for Erin


"Sure Devin -- go on up there!"

Devin loves to play, "Boo," with the girls, where he runs down the hall and does a flying-leap into the twins' room and yells, "BOO!" making the girls laugh hysterically.

Sure enough, it didn't take too long for me to hear lots of jumping around and laughing upstairs, and I assumed that it was just another rousing game of, "Boo."

A few minutes later, Devin came downstairs, breathless. I said, "It sure sounds like you all are having fun up there!"

He responded with a question, "Do you know what game we were playing?"

Knowing fully well what the answer would be, I still asked, "What?"

His answer surprised me, "We're playing, 'I'm not the baby!' "

"How do you play that game, Dev?"

"Well, I climb into one of the the babies' cribs and say, 'Hey! I'm not the baby!' and then I jump out!"

Hold on...you mean that my kid has been climbing into the cribs and jumping out of them for the last half-hour?

A lecture ensued.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our Big, Fat Christmas

Lordy! I'm having a hard time just determining which day of the week it is! The past seven (or so) days have flown so fast that I can hardly remember what I've done. I'll try to recap is as best I can, but remember, this blog is as much for my memories as it is for everyone else's reading pleasure, so if this gets long, feel free to just say, "Forget it!" and wait for my next post. :)

I guess the Christmas holidays really started last Thursday with Devin's class party. We arrived at 1:15 and the kids were already in full swing with a craft of making a bell-shaped tree ornament. There were games (musical chairs, snowball races) and a snack and then a story. We got out of there at 2:00, but not after the gift exchange in which Devin received a pirate ship complete with a cannon ball shooting cannon. I've been picking up little plastic cannon balls ever since.

Friday was our "final preparations" day where I spend much time wrapping and getting ready for the big event.

On Saturday, we trekked to Yoakum to celebrate Christmas with Todd's parents. They opted not to join us this year for the holiday, so we joined them for some Christmas cheer at their house. We munched and laughed and opened gifts. Devin got two new Transformers, a new Lightning McQueen (just what he needs for his already amassed collection of more than a dozen), the Dinoco Helicopter, Al Oft (aloft -- get it?) from "Cars," and a few odds and ends. He was in hog heaven, playing on the floor with his new loot. As far as he was concerned, Christmas was a success and we needed to go no further! :)

The girls got strollers for their yet-to-be-delivered baby dolls from Santa -- strollers that they promptly got into and took turns pushing each other around. They also got dolls and stuffed animals and, like Devin, they were as happy as two kids can be.

We returned to San Antonio on Saturday evening, got the kids in bed and had a low-key night.

Sunday morning brought Grace looking a little puffy and red in the face, so I spent all day near the phone, waiting for the doctor to return our call -- something that never happened (I plan to have words about this). We were worried that she was having an allergic reaction to something, but it didn't seem to get any worse over time, so we determined it was probably just going from warm to cold temperatures or maybe hand slap disease, which the boy across the street had a couple of weeks ago. During this whole time, Devin and I made cookies to leave for Santa.

My dad arrived on Sunday evening and we all had dinner over here and we all folded in early.

Monday, Christmas Eve, was a flurry of activity, as it always is. We got up pretty early and I started making the Christmas day casseroles -- one for breakfast in the morning and a green bean casserole for Christmas dinner at my sister ZZ's house. We also decorated Santa's cookies and made reindeer feed.

The children's Mass at our church was at 4:00 and ZZ and I got there at 2:30 to get seats. Our 1,000-seat church fills up with standing-room-only by 3:00 and we wanted to make sure that we would have room for five adults and seven kids.

Mass started and the kids did their reenactment of the Christmas Story (we opted for Devin to not be in it because we weren't sure he had the ability to stand still that long). After sitting for nearly two hours before Mass even started and just being over-tired from the adrenaline and excitement of the season, Devin was in a poor mood, kicking at his sisters and cousins, whining, crying and just plain being loud. Todd finally took him out of the sanctuary with Grace, while I stayed in the pew with Faith.

I did a cardinal "no-no" in the Catholic church and skipped out after Communion. We never do this, but Devin just couldn't take any more and frankly, neither could I. Todd was much calmer than me, thankfully, and talked me off the ledge in the parking lot. I am so glad Christmas Mass only comes once a year.

We got home, got changed into our "comfy clothes" and headed over to ZZ's for our traditional BBQ dinner. Afterwards, we had a "Come to Jesus" talk with the kids, in an effort to not have a repeat of last year's Christmas Eve event where the kids went completely berserk and started ripping into packages without even bothering to ask who the recipient was supposed to be.

While 2007's gift-opening event was still pretty wild, it was definitely tame by last year's standard. We all made out like bandits, with my highlights being an iPod, under-counter lighting for the kitchen (which has already been installed by my fabulous husband!) and a Pandora charm bracelet. What more could I ask for?

My dad got our family (and my sister's) each a Wii gaming set, so we've spent the weekend learning how to play. I don't know if you've ever played a Wii, but it may be the single coolest thing on Earth. I have always been very anti-video games, as I can think of a thousand things better for my kids to be doing than sitting in front of the TV. But the Wii is different, which is why I acquiesced. Rather than sitting and just passively playing a game, Wii players use a gyroscope-controlled remote that knows where it is in space and in relation to the Wii console. So instead of pushing a button to steer a car in a racing game, you actually use the Wii remote to steer the car. And instead of using a joystick to roll a bowling ball or hit a tennis racket, you actually roll or hit the ball yourself, using the remote.

I think I may be the one in the family who uses this thing the most, as I have already become addicted to the boxing game and the "Cars" racing game. And let me be the first to tell you that I suck. But hey -- I can get better, right? It just takes practice. :)

Anyway, after opening all of our gifts from our family on Christmas Eve, we returned home, got the girls into bed, set out a note, cookies and a Coke for Santa, cheese for Santa mouse and put out our reindeer feed. Then we put Devin into bed and put up a baby gate in the upstairs hallway so he couldn't get out and get downstairs without us!

After Devin was fast asleep, Santa's helpers, known to most as Todd and Erin, set out in putting together a Christmas wonderland. On Devin's side of the room was a bicycle, an enormous Hot Wheels track, FireStorm McQueen (just one of the many marketing ploys of Disney), two Wii games and a bevy of die-cast Cars characters (did I mention Disney marketing???).

The girls each got some clothes, a baby doll, a purse and the biggest crawl-through toy you've ever seen. It's like one of those habitrail deals you see in hampster cages, only for kids. It's got a big, circular center "hut" from which three tunnels radiate. One tunnel leads out, one leads to a tent and one leads to a house. The darn thing was so big that we couldn't even set the entire thing up. Regardless, though, it's already been used a LOT.

Christmas night was a tough night, as all of the kids were over-tired and had pretty bad dreams. We were up a couple of times with the girls and for awhile with Devin. 7:00 rolled around pretty darn early on Tuesday morning. I had set my alarm the night before so I could get up before everyone else and get the breakfast casserole into the oven.

Unfortunately, it seemed that my whole family was really ready to get up, because they all heard my alarm, so while I was trying to get the casserole ready to go, the boy was upstairs begging to come down and see what he got from Santa and Todd was telling me, "I can't believe you're doing this to him!" Hey -- it's not my fault. I tried getting up before them all to avoid this situation!

Finally, the moment arrived and I videoed while Todd walked the girls and Devin down the stairs. Devin just stopped and stared for a moment while he took in the awesome sight of a dozen new toys, just ready to be played with and all for him.

We set up the crawl-through toy to where Devin actually had to crawl through it to get to his gifts, so he dived right into it and made his way across the room. The babies, ignoring everything else, climbed right in and started having a blast. Money well spent, for sure!

Devin had a great time exploring his new Cars toy, climbing on and off his bike (which is just barely too big) and climbing through the crawl-through toy. It was so much fun to see.

Papa had spent the night at ZZ's house but came over shortly after we got up. He played with Devin and the girls and had some breakfast with us. We spent the rest of the morning playing and enjoying the fun of Christmas.

Around 11:00, we headed to ZZ's house, but by then, we were already exhausted. Turns out, they were too, and the kids were all pretty cranky. No one wanted to share their toys and there were a lot of tears and, "No, you can't have that!" statements thrown around. We finally sat down to eat and we all gobbled the meal up, as we were so ready to get our kids down for their naps!

So we came home, rested and napped and then spent the rest of the day playing, riding the new bike, giving bottles to the new dollies and setting up the iPod.

The night winded down with some pretty tired children (okay -- and adults too) and we were all in bed pretty early.

Today was more family togetherness, with a walk/bike ride through the new nature trails near our home (and some good play time at the local playground!). We learned the Wii, played the new "Cars" board game that we got from my stepsister, Heidi and tried on new clothes. So much fun!

And now the kids are in bed, Todd is getting ready to go back to work tomorrow and I'm wondering where the holidays went. In a way, I am relieved that it's over and that, soon, life will return to normal. But on the other hand, I'm sad to see the magic of the season go, only to return again as the buildup begins around Halloween 2008. October first always seems to be the kickoff for the holidays, while January second seems to be the official "end." It's bittersweet, I guess.

In closing, I'm happy to add that one of Todd's gifts this year was a contraption that allows us to upload video to the Mac. As you may remember, from previous posts, our DVD cam is not compatible with our Mac computers, so we were not able to put any video on our hard drive or my blog. But this new piece of electronic fun will allow us to do so, but first I need Todd to show me how to work it. Look for video and photos later -- hopefully not too late.

And finally, Merry Christmas. Technically, the Christmas season just started yesterday and goes until January 5, the Epiphany or the 12th Day of Christmas, when the Wise Men reached Bethlehem, bringing gifts to the new King of Kings.

May the spirit and magic of the season be with you both now and throughout the year. May Emmanuel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the Prince of Peace guide your life and bring you the peace that only He can provide.

Me

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cast Your Vote!

Methodist Hospital, where Faith and Grace were born and where they spent five weeks in the NICU, is holding a "Times of your Life" contest in which people can share the experiences they had at Methodist. Each story can be voted on and those authors with the most votes at the end of pre-determined time-periods (quarterly, I think) will be given a $1,000 donation to the 501(c)3 organization of their choice.

I was told about this contest by a friend who suggested that I post my story. I did so and it is now ready for voting. If you'd like to read it and vote, you can do so HERE. You can vote once a day until the contest ends.

If my story wins, I plan to donate the $1,000 to Threads of Love, an organization that provides clothing, blankets and other care items to local NICUs. Often, NICU babies are too small for traditional blankets, swaddlers and clothing, so Threads of Love donates hand-sewn items just to fit them. At the end of your child's stay, the clothes come home with you and Todd and I still marvel at the tiny gowns, blankies and positioners. I would simply love the opportunity to give a significant amount of money to Threads of Love, in appreciation for the kindness they showed my daughters.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just Another Day in Paradise

A friend of mine emailed me the other day and said, "Do you ever ask God, 'What's next?' " I told her that I try not to, because I don't like to ask questions to which I may not want the answer.

I got a call from the Pediatric GI doctor last week. The girls' paperwork had made it from their pediatrician's office and the GI doc wanted to see them as soon as possible. I doled out the insurance and contact information to the administrator on the phone and then she said, "And what are Faith and Grace coming in for? Oh here it is...'Failure to thrive.'"

My heart sank. I realize that "failure to thrive" is an general medical term for people who don't gain weight or develop normally. But the word "failure" just threw me into a tizzy because I don't really believe my girls have failed to thrive, but rather are doing so at a slow pace.

Again, I know I'm just mincing words here, but nothing strikes fear in a mommy's heart like the idea that her kid (or kids) may truly be very ill.

On top of all of this, the girls have contracted another something or another that's causing them to produce snot like it's water and hack and cough just like they did when they were diagnosed with RSV last month. So far no fever, but I don't doubt that sometime this week we'll be back at Dr. T's office for another round of looking into their ears and swabbing their throats.

And a second ago, I caught Faith (who is my climber and will craw up on anything she can get her hands on) standing upright on her little ride-on toy. I promptly picked her off of it, verbally scolded her and told her that it was dangerous and "ouchie" and then trotted to answer the phone. Before I could even pick up, I heard a thud and there was Faith, lying face-down on the tile floor next to the toy. Sure enough, there is a goose egg on her forehead and while she doesn't seem to be greatly injured, I think it really scared the heck out of her. Who knows -- maybe we'll get to go to the ER today. Wouldn't that be fun?

Why can't anything just go normally for these girls? My heart just breaks knowing that they are constantly being scrutinized by doctors or plagued by some sort of ailment. From the moment they were conceived they've faced adversity and while they come through every test with flying colors, I have to wonder if they'll ever just catch a break and have a chance to be normal.

On a lighter note...

Just prior to the head-bonk incident, Faith was carrying around her sippy cup of water. She set it down, it toppled and dislodged the valve. A little bit of water spilled out onto the kitchen floor.

Upon seeing the "mess" she created, Faith toddled over to the drawer where I keep dish towels, pulled one out, toddled back to the spilled water and mopped it up.

So proud! There may be hope yet for this mess of a house of mine. :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

World's Best Hot Chocolate

There are so many things to love about the Christmas season, not the least of which is the food. Sweet cookies, sticky cakes, warm dips, tender roasts, juicy turkeys, endless pies and mounds of whipped cream.

Sadly, though, at least in our house, Christmastime beverages seem to take a back burner (pun intended!) to baked goods.

Until today.

I thought I'd look up a recipe for real hot chocolate, as I am pretty sure I've never had anything more than Swiss Miss from a package.

I am so incredibly happy with this recipe, I thought I'd share it with the world. I found it on my favorite recipe-sharing Web site AllRecipes.com. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Oh, and for those of you who like a good nip to warm up those winter nights, add some Rumple Mintz peppermint schnapps. Yum!

INGREDIENTS
1 cup water
2 (1 ounce) squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS
1. Place water and chocolate in heavy medium saucepan; cook on low heat until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Add sugar; mix well.

2. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Boil 3 min., stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Cook until mixture is heated through, stirring occasionally.

Makes four servings.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm Rubber, They're Glue

Wait...let me amend that statement. I'm glue and they're even stronger glue.

Lately I have noticed that my kids cannot seem to cope unless they are with me at all times -- and this goes for Devin as well. Whether I am in the kitchen, on the phone, in the bathroom or stepping out on the front porch for a much-needed breath of fresh air, my kids are constantly at my side.

This is especially annoying during meal times (Casey, you're going to have to share those Crock-Pot recipes with me, because I've about had it with dinner time too!), when I'm trying to move between the fridge, the pantry, the oven, the stove, the sink and the island. If the twins aren't each hanging onto my two legs, then they are going through the Tupperware cabinet and pulling out every piece of plastic I own. Normally, I don't mind this, as it keeps them entertained, but when the oven is at 400 degrees and I've got boiling water going on the stove, it's just not a good time to create an obstacle course.

And why is it that I can't so much as walk into another room when I'm on the phone? They follow me no matter where I go and if happen to lock the door (such as my few-and-far-between potty breaks), they scream and cry until I let them in our I come out.

I know this is every mom's complaint. I can just hear my Aunt Shirley in Kentucky laughing about how this would happen to her and her five kids who were spaced awfully close together. And I know it will be worth laughing at in years to come.

But for now, this is my reality and I still dread trying to get anything done, as I know I will be pulled in a hundred directions and whatever task I have at hand will take ten times longer than it should have.

'Tis the season, huh?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Devin's Doozie

As you know, we have in our possession (and displayed in our front window), the leg lamp from A Christmas Story. We are very proud of this piece and have become the envy (or laughing stock) of the neighborhood.

If you recall, the lamp is referred to as "A Major Award," in the movie, as it was an award for some sort of contest Ralphie's dad entered.

So, it stands to reason that we would refer to this beauty as our own, personal, "Major Award." Such use of that term may go something like this:

"Honey...please plug in the Major Award."
"Wow -- I love your Major Award."
"Have you seen our Major Award?"

You get the picture.

So today, Devin and I are shopping for a friend's birthday present (happy almost birthday, Amy!) at a store that sells jewelry -- specifically Pandora Jewelry. In the display case was a delicate blown glass hand and wrist wearing a bracelet full of ornate and beautiful Pandora charms.

Devin, very loudly pointed to the display case and said, "Look mom! They have a Major Award too!"

Saturday, December 01, 2007

More Please

Faith just combined her first two signs to make a sentence. "More Please..."

Sign language has been slow going with these two. Devin could speak in complete sentences with his signs, so I'm a little frustrated and don't practice as much as I should. But now that I see it working, I think I have incentive to keep going.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Being Thankful

Yesterday I gave a recap of our Thanksgiving holiday, but I failed to mention all that I am thankful for.  


Friend, fellow blogger and mom of triplets, Casey, created a very special Thanksgiving post that I just loved.  I told her that I planned to copy her idea and here I am, doing just that.

First of all, I am thankful for my life -- God has granted me so much, despite the fact that I let Him down every day.  His unending love and desire to see me happy never ceases to amaze me or humble my heart.

I am thankful for Todd, who works very hard to give our whole family the good things in life.  We're not rich, but being rich doesn't equal happiness.  We are comfortable, are able to do the things we want to do, see the things we want to see and buy what we need, while all the while maintaining a lifestyle in which we are given the opportunity to count our blessings every single day -- and all of this is because of Todd's hard work.

I'm also thankful for the gift of laughter that Todd bring to my life.  I am thankful for the shoulder he always has for me to cry on or the ear he lends for me to bend.  I'm thankful for his kind spirit, his nurturing personality and his desire to lead our family toward our goals in life.

I am thankful for my sister, her family, my dad, my stepmom and my stepsisters and their families.  I am thankful for my friends, my neighbors, my community, my church and my faith.  I am thankful for my home, my cars and all of the luxurious things that the vast population of our world will never have.

But I want to take this opportunity to address each of my kids, both individually and together, and tell them how thankful I am for them, because without them, we would not be a family -- and family is the thing I am most thankful for.

All Three of You
I am thankful for...
  • Our days spent playing on the floor in the living room
  • Our nights upstairs in the hall, playing and acting silly
  • Our family dinner
  • Our bedtime prayers
  • Our silly songs
  • Our walks to school in the morning
  • Our trips to the Zoo, Sea World and other fun places
  • Your laughter and smiles

  • Devin
    I am thankful for...
  • The love only a first born can teach a mommy
  • Your desire to do the right thing
  • Your energy (even if it does make me crazy sometimes)
  • Your big, bright smile
  • Your enormous vocabulary and how beautifully you use it to express yourself
  • The heart-to-heart talks we can have together now that you're growing up
  • Your enthusiasm for learning
  • Your endless list of questions
  • The tears of happiness you bring to my eyes every single day

  • Faith
    I am thankful for...
  • That sweet face that still fools me into believing you couldn't possibly be up to something bad
  • Your shrill laughter
  • Your constant asking of "What's that?"
  • Your bold personality
  • Your girly attitude
  • Your desire to find every pacifier in the house and keep them as your own
  • How you snuggle your "babies" and rock them back and forth, just like I rock you
  • The tears of happiness you bring to my eyes every single day

  • Grace
    I am thankful for...
  • Your belly laugh
  • That funny, wailing, siren-like yell you do when you're ready to get out of bed in the morning
  • Your desire to get the heck away from Faith before she steals whatever you're holding and hits you upside the head with it
  • Your command to "Do it," when you want me or Daddy to demonstrate how something works
  • Your love of animals
  • Your quiet spirit and snuggly nature
  • Your command to be held (arms thrust upward with a grunt of, "UP!")
  • The tears of happiness you bring to my eyes every single day

  • From the Pruetz family to yours...

    We hope you have many things to be thankful for, both now and throughout the year.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Thanksgiving Recap

    Holy smokes! What a Thanksgiving! This has been a fantastic holiday, with all the cheer and good times a holiday can bring. But with all of that comes a hectic schedule and one very tired Erin.


    Our Thanksgiving started on Wednesday afternoon with the arrival of my dad, his sister Peggy from Kentucky and their cousin Mary Lou from Chicago.  Todd, Devin, the twins and I were anxiously awaiting their arrival in the front yard on a beautiful, 85-degree day.  Welcome to winter in South Texas!

    Aunt Peggy had never met my girls before and the last time Mary Lou saw them, they were still in the NICU!  So it was a wonderful and fun meeting for us all.

    After a few moments here at my house, Dad, Peggy and Mary Lou made their way to my sister ZZ's house and later on we all joined up over there for a yummy spaghetti dinner.  Seven kids and six adults makes for one busy and loud meal!

    We retired back home where I did last minute preparations for the Turkey Day meal.  We got in bed fairly early and were awoken at 7:30 on Thanksgiving morning by Devin asking if it was time to eat turkey yet.  Ummmmm...a little longer, okay?

    So we began our morning pretty slowly, but around 10:30 things began to pick up as the family started to trickle in.  Dad broke out the scotch and ZZ and I imbibed in Port Wine and Sherry all day long.  A steady buzz was had by all.

    Overnight, the weather turned cold and the high temperature on Thanksgiving Day was only in the 40s -- a very big deal for South Texas.

    So we all stayed indoors all day long, watching football and alternately taking naps on the couch.  The kids ran around upstairs like feral children and finally, around 2:45, we sat down to a dinner of roasted turkey, homemade dressing, raspberry green beans, bourbon sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brown-n-serve rolls, and cranberries.  It was all topped off by pumpkin and pecan pies after the kitchen was cleaned off.

    After such a long day, we weren't up for much more than just hanging around, which is just what we did.  

    On Friday we all went to lunch at a favorite local BBQ restaurant.  Afterwards, Todd took the twins home while the rest of us went to see Enchanted.  If you are a Disney fan (and you know I am!), this movie is for you.  It lampoons just about every Disney princess movie, as well as a couple of Dreamworks movies to boot.  And, in true Disney fashion, it ends with true love and happily ever after.

    Of course, Patrick Dempsy isn't hard on the eyes, either.  :)

    We got home in time to watch Texas A&M beat the pants off of the University of Texas -- a totally unexpected upset.  That night was pizza at ZZ's house and another early bedtime.

    Yesterday, ZZ's twins, Kaelin and Brendan, celebrated their 3rd birthdays with a party at Chuck E. Cheese.  The girls had a great time in the toddler area and Devin nearly mastered SkeeBall.  He's really good!  

    Dad, Peggy and Mary Lou left from there to go back to Dad's house in Houston and we all returned home for naps and a lazy day, as rain and 30-degree temperatures kept us from wanting to do much more than that.

    Today hasn't been much better in terms of weather, so we've all spent a good part of our day in our jammies and dining on Todd's yummy homemade tortilla soup.  It's our last day of the Thanksgiving holiday before going back to our regular schedule tomorrow.

    Usually, today is the day that we decorate the house for Christmas.  By now, we would have already gone out to the Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree, but the rain and nasty weather have caused us to have to push this tradition back until next weekend.  The girls and Devin are all on the mend and doing much, much better, but we don't want to chance it.  Keeping them out of the cold weather can only do good.

    So, in contrast to my neighbors' homes, our house is decidedly undecorated.  I have a little bit of anxiety about this, since I'm usually putting up lights and garland before the Thanksgiving bird is even out of the oven, but I'm just going to have to hold tight and remember that while our normal decorations are not out, the one, ultimate decoration that I've been dying to purchase as arrived and is in place.

    Have you ever seen the movie A Christmas Story?  Of course you have...unless you're Tina Zimmerman.  Oh, and Tina --  I know you are reading this and I will kidnap you sometime this holiday season and force you to watch this flick.  M'kay?

    Anyway, what's the greatest decoration in that whole movie?  I mean, what, of everything in that house, stands out as the most stunning and unusual piece of decor you've ever seen?  

    The leg lamp, of course!

    And isn't it something that every home needs, especially around the holidays?  

    But of course!

    You guessed it, my friends.  Todd and I are the proud owners of a 45" reproduction of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.  It arrived the day after Thanksgiving and within the hour, Todd had it assembled and in the front-and-center window of our home above our front door.  

    It's a thing of beauty and is already the envy of all of our neighbors.  I've been trying to get a good photo of it, but so far nothing has come out.  I'll keep trying, because this is a sight to behold, for sure.  Until then, check out the Red Rider Leg Lamp website.  

    And, in closing, I am  happy to say that I finally have access to all of the Blogger.com editing tools that everyone else has.  Our Mac has not been fully compatible with Blogger.com and therefore I have not been able to change font, sizes, colors or do any sort of formatting or block qouting.

    But we upgraded our operating system and Ta Da!  Eureka!  I've got it all!  Now I just have to figure it out all.  Thanks for bearing with me.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all and here's to a fabulous Christmas season.

    A Few Minutes Later

    Why won't this darn thing stop using the large font size letters?  Ugh...sorry for the inconsistency!  It's driving me crazy!  I think I like having no ability to format better than formatting tools that have their own minds!

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    The RSV Update

    Faith and Grace saw Dr. Trexler today for their 18-month check-up and for a check on their RSV status.

    After listening intently to their chests and backs, Dr. T said, "They're not wheezing at all. What you're doing is working!" She said that their nasal congestion, sore throats and ear infections (oh yes...ear infections on top of all of it) are very typical of RSV, but that the wheezing and oxygen intake are what we really need to be concerned about.

    She made it clear that we are not out of the woods yet, but was very happy to see the girls doing so well despite their diagnoses.

    So, for the moment I feel good. As soon as I hear one of them cough or something of the sort, I'm sure I'll go back into panic mode, but for this moment in time, I'm doing okay.

    Thanks for the continued prayers. More updates to come.

    Me

    Where Has the Pruetz Family Been?

    The better question would be where hasn't the Pruetz family been? I'll try to start from the beginning, without making this too lengthy.

    Last Thursday (not this past Thursday, but the one before), after school, Devin and Todd jetted off to fabulous Ames, IA to visit Aunt Jill in her stomping grounds. They went to the Iowa State football game (where they beat Colorado 28-21!), a wrestling match (that was Devin's idea), and generally had fun around the college town.

    Meanwhile, back here in San Antonio, the girls and I had a quiet Thursday night while I got the three of us ready for our weekend.

    The twins stayed here with my sister (bless her heart) while I flew to Houston on Friday afternoon for my friend, Bridget's wedding. Bridget and I were best friends in middle school and high school and while life has taken us in opposite directions for many years now, we've still remained close.

    Along with Bridget and me, our friend Karen was a major part of our lives our senior year in High School. You may know Karen from my comments -- she always signs with her last name, though...Blake. Surprise! Blake is a girl!

    Anyhoo...Karen lives in Houston where the wedding was taking place, and offered to house me and be my date to this fabulous event. She picked me up from the airport on Friday night and we went to her place to get ready for the rehearsal dinner.

    Karen lives alone in a condo that took me back to my days as a single woman in Dallas. It's a great place with a living room, dining room, kitchen and half bath down and two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a study upstairs. Very similar to the one I owned in the Big D and I immediately felt myself relaxing.

    The rehersal dinner was a lot of fun, as we reuninted with old friends, reconnected with Bridget's family (who were like a second family to me when I was younger) and had a generally great time.

    We retired early that night and woke up on Saturday morning and just hung out, catching up and relaxing. Karen went to the gym at 10:00 and I took a shower and got ready for the bridesmaids' brunch. I was finished getting fixed up, though, long before Karen was due home and I found myself wondering what to do with all of this time and quietness on my hands. It was bliss! I plopped myself into Karen's comfy living room chair and read my book. WOW! Alone, quiet and reading -- there's something I haven't done in years!

    Karen came home, got herself ready and we were off to the brunch. It was a lovely affair with incredible food and great company. The wine flowed like water, too, so by the time we got out of there, we all had pretty good buzzes.

    To keep the buzz going, we bought another bottle of vino and headed to Karen's favorite nail salon. Karen had her fingers and toes done while I had my toes done and my eyebrows waxed. Two hours later, we were looking fine!

    A trip home and a quick nap on the couch (to sleep off the afternoon's libations) and then we got ready for the big event.

    The wedding was held in a Cathedral-style church in Houston and was simply gorgeous. Bridget was just beautiful and the whole event was perfect. The behind-the-scenes bumps we were privvy to went unnoticed by all of the other guests.

    The reception was at the Houstonian hotel and club and was gorgeous. Ben and Bridget even provided a photo booth for guests to take photos in and then put out a scrapbook in which to paste your pictures and write a little note. It was too much fun and after a few glasses of wine, you can imagine the kinds of pictures that came out of there. :)

    The party ended around midnight, after quite a few rounds of dancing, and Karen and I returned to her house, exhausted. I fell asleep pretty early and managed to sleep through the night until 9:45 Sunday morning. There's something else I haven't done in years!

    We grabbed a bite to eat and hit Starbucks, but soon it was time to head to the airport where I said goodbye to Karen and thanked her over and over again for being such a gracious and wonderful hostess! It was an awesome time, indeed.

    I arrived back in San Antonio Sunday afternoon and that night, Todd and Devin flew in. Once again, the Pruetz family was back together and things went back to normal.

    HA!

    Wednesday of last week, both girls woke up with a fever, so I did what I always do: Call the doctor's office at 8:00:01 and set up appointment for both of them that afternoon.

    Sure enough, it was strep and we were sent home with antibiotics for both. Seems pretty cut-n-dried, right?

    HA!

    They woke up Thursday not feeling much better, but I didn't think much of it. Friday rolled around, though, and they were wheezing and coughing really, really badly. I called the doctor's office to get a recommendation on what I could give them to make them more comfortable, but I was told that due to their age, there was nothing more that I could do than a cool mist humidifier and the snot sucker. I threw in a few Xopenex nebulizer treatments for good measure and we headed into the weekend.

    Saturday, though, the wheezing wasn't any better. We spent plenty of time in a steamed-up bathroom, upped the nebulizer treatments and continued with the snot sucking and humidifier.

    But to no avail, as Sunday morning was even worse than Saturday morning. As the girls both had 20-minute continuing coughing fits, Todd and I looked at each other and said, "Something's wrong."

    So we paged the on-call doctor and she as alarmed to hear about the girls' condition and how it had escalated so quickly.

    Then she said something that nearly stopped my heart: "There's been an outbreak of RSV in the past few weeks. You need to get them to the ER as quickly as possible."

    For those who don't know, RSV is a virus that causes the common cold. It's pretty harmless, aside from making you feel miserable, in healthy people. But in babies who were born before 36 or 37 weeks, it can be deadly. Mothers pass antibodies that help their babies fight infections outside the womb, but RSV antiboties aren't transfered from mom to kiddo until fairly late in gestation, meaning that preemies lack any ability to fight the virus if they catch it. There is an RSV vaccine, which the girls got last year and will get this year, that gives those antibodies in a monthly shot. The shot is fairly new, though, and RSV is still a very scary thing for preemies.

    So the twins and I headed to the ER while Todd took Devin to the after hours pediatrician's office because we were sure he had gotten strep from the girls -- coughing, wheezing, fever, etc.

    We were triaged as soon as we got to the hospital and the girls were okay, aside from pulse-ox levels of 94 and 95. That's borderline, "Uh-oh," and the nurses decided to do the RSV test on them just in case.

    We were sent to the waiting room where we did just that -- we waited. And waited, and waited and waited.

    Three hours later, I went to the same triage nurse and asked if the RSV tests had come back. She told me that she could not tell me, that the doctor has to give me the results. She asked if I'd like to come have the girls' vitals taken again and I said that yes, that would make me feel better.

    So my two charmers went back behind the desk and, of course, everyone flocked around to say hello to them again. The nurse who was helping us this time was the same one who had administered the RSV test three hours earlier. She saw the look on my face and said, "I'm not technically allowed to give you the results of the tests, but let's just say that your girls won't be catching RSV here -- they'll be doling it out."

    And with that, my premature babies were diagnosed with the deadly RSV virus. They were scheduled to get their first RSV vaccination today at 2:50. We were 24 hours too late.

    After leaving triage, I got a call from Todd. Devin didn't have strep -- he had a sinus infection. And an even bigger surprise was the diagnosis of seasonal asthma. He was sent home with orders to see a pediatric pulmonologist and with three different steroids to get the problem under control.

    Todd and Dev drove to the ER and met the girls and I in the lobby. We waited another hour and were finally seen by the doctor. By this time, the babies' pulse-ox levels were at 98 and 99, which is significantly better and after a thorough examination, the girls were deemed "Pretty Good," despite their diagnosis.

    She said to keep a close eye on the girls, look for signs of respiratory distress and dehydration and to not hesitate to call if we had any questions.

    And with that, we were discharged. We are now doing nebulizer treatments every four hours, even at night, and hoping for the best.

    The girls are miserable. They cry constantly and are awake at night every hour or so. It's like having newborns again and I'm barely surviving on three hours of sleep. Devin, too, is miserable, and the Prednisone steroid that he's on is making him a bear to deal with. I'm just about at the end of my rope.

    Wanna hear the best part of the story? I have 17 people coming to dinner on Thursday.

    Any prayers you can spare are appreciated. The girls have their 18-month check-up today (the appointment when we should have been getting the RSV shot) and I'll post more after we see their doctor.

    Peace.

    Me

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Get Out Your Kleenex...It's Time To Laugh

    I've actually gotten this as an email a couple of times now, but for those of you who haven't seen it, below is a link to the actual blog that produced what may be the funniest series of photographs and comments ever published.

    The language is a little much in places, but somehow the profanity seems to work. If you have kids who can read, you may want to make sure that they aren't peering over your shoulder while you're viewing this blog.

    Enjoy -- And if you think I'm kidding about needing Kleenex...you're wrong.

    1977 J.C. Penny Catalog

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Bath Time = Math Time

    Tomorrow, it will be two years since we found out that we were expecting Baby Pruetz #2, having zero inkling that we were also expecting Baby Pruetz #3. It's hard to believe how quickly it's gone.

    When the news came that we were pregnant with two, both Todd and I started to envision all of changes our life would take once we tripled the number of kids we had. More diapers, more bottles, more car seats, bigger strollers, another crib, more middle-of-the-night feedings, double the colic, etc...

    But, as those of you with mutiples know, you can never be fully prepared for the crazy things you will have to do to keep up with your brood.

    One of the things that I wasn't expecting what the quirkiness of bath time. In recent months, we've decided to bathe the girls together and then give Devin a bath separately, as the girls have recently learned the fun of standing in the tub (something we've unsuccessfully tried to stop) and Devin likes to play rough. You do the math -- it spells major trouble.

    So usually it's Todd and I tag-teaming with the kiddos, making sure everyone is supervised, washed, dried and jammied.

    Last night, though, Todd and Devin went on an excursion to hear Aunt Jill speak at her alma mater, Texas State University, so I was home alone with the babies. Bath time rolled around and it suddenly became apparent to me that this was not going to work without Todd's help.

    Not only do the girls have a tendency to stand up and walk around in the tub, but they also know how to climb in and out (and by climb, I mean get both legs over the side and plop down with a thud and a splash), so I quickly questioned what was going to happen with the baby who wasn't being bathed while I was getting the other one ready for bed.

    I could just see Gracie falling, fully clothed into the tub while I had Faith up on the changing table, diapering her bottom and so forth.

    So I actually had to lock one baby out of the bathroom while the other one was being bathed. Then, once that one was clean and ready to have her jammies put on her, I had to close the bathroom door so the roaming baby wouldn't wander while I was busy in the nursery.

    Then...switch babies and do it all again.

    Nope, it's really no big deal. Granted, bathing them one at a time take a bit longer, but it's really not an issue. It's just so funny how many things I would have never anticipated being an issue with twins. I guess you just adapt as you go...

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Devin's Doozie

    Lately, Devin has become very expressive toward me, thanking me over and over again when I do something for him (I bought him a new pair of Crocs this week and you would have thought I had just handed him a check for a million bucks).

    He's also become very thankful for the meals I cook.

    "Mom, you make the best tacos!"
    "Mom, this is the best pot roast in the whole city!"

    Every meal comes with some statement like this. I can't say I mind it!

    So tonight, Todd called on his way home from work and I said, "Hey -- it's Friday. Why don't you get a pizza on the way home?" He agreed and when Daddy got home, we all dined on pizza.

    Afterwards, Devin turned me and said:

    "Mom! You make Daddy get the best pizza!"

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    The Halloween That Wouldn't End

    I can't believe we finally made it to November 1. I was really starting to wonder if we were ever going to get past All Hallow's Eve!

    I went to Halloween Bunco last Thursday night and dressed up for that. The big festivities started last Saturday, the 27th, though, when our across-the-street neighbors had their annual Halloween party. Costumes are not optional for this party and this group of friends never fails to impress. The kids came as the usual characters -- super heros, witches, a vampire, a princess, etc.

    But it's the adults who really get into the occasion. Here's a run down of who was who:

    Next-door neighbors, Gina and Guy:
    Pimp and Prostitute

    Guy's costume was so disturbing, I couldn't have a conversation with him. It creeped me out that much. Check out the mustache and beard -- he worked on it for an hour! It's even worse in person.



    Party Host and Hostess, Elena and Kurt:
    Britney and K-Fed

    Photo to come!

    Other Next-door neighbors, Billy and Lisa:
    Bexar (pronounced Bear) County Jail Inmates

    Billy is a Lieutenant for the SAPD, so the orange jumpsuits were real. Billy and Lisa also decorated themselves with homemade tattos, including tattoos on their knuckles. Billy's read, "COLD BEER" and Lisa's read, "HGTV" and "WAMU" (stands for Washington Mutual where Kurt just started a new job).
    Here they are with their son, Dillon.



    Across-the-street neighbors, Susan and Duke:
    A doctor (Susan) and University of Texas Football Fanatic (Duke...which he is)

    Photo to come!


    And finally, us.

    You have to understand that Halloween is a huge deal in our family and we work on our costumes dilligently for weeks. The kids were easy - a ninja for Devin, Tinkerbelle for Faith and Minnie Mouse for Grace.

    But Todd and I are expected to come up with something very original.

    Since Todd works at a scientific research institute, he thought it would be appropriate to go as a Nutty Professor/Wacky Scientist. He nerded it up really well with things like dorky glasses and bubba teeth.

    I was Tropical Storm Erin.

    Back in August, a tropical storm, deemed "Erin" by the Big Wigs at the National Weather service, rolled through Texas and dumped inches upon inches of rain around here. It flooded out dozens of South Texas areas and FEMA has been here ever since, helping out those whose houses and lives all but floated away. The storm made news nationwide, but I wouldn't expect anyone who's not from around here to remember it.

    But in San Antonio, Tropical Storm Erin is still a weekly, if not daily, headline.

    And so...my costume was born. I'm wearing Todd's Hawaiian shirt in this picture, so I look like about as wide as a linebacker!


    I'm very proud of my costume because I came up with it all on my own. I live with the world's most creative person and the creative ideas I do come up with are usually trumped by Todd's. But this time, I did it all on my own. :)


    So Saturday was a fun night. The girls pooped out early, but we still got in some good party time.

    Sunday rolled around and ZZ, our friend Erin and I threw a family Halloween party. Kids and parents alike came to play musical chairs, bob for apples and show off their costumes. It was a blast and we're already looking forward to the 2nd Annual 2 Erins and a ZZ Halloween Party.

    Monday was our MOM'S Club trick-or-treating event at the local assisted living home, so all three kids were dressed for that big event, as well.

    Tuesday was Devin's Pre-K Halloween party. It was the last hour of school and I took the girls (sans costumes this time) to join the revelry. Faith and Grace had a great time playing with the toys in Devin's classroom and Devin loved having Mommy there to show off his skills (cutting, gluing, etc...).


    Stick the Nose on the Pumpkin



    Yummies!


    And, finally, Wednesday was the big event. Todd came home early from work and we ate our usual Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwiches for dinner. The kids donned their costumes and I took the girls out for an early round of trick-or-treating. I knew they didn't know the difference, but I thought it would be fun anyway, even if it were only for a couple of houses.

    20 minutes. One house. We returned home.

    The babies kept sitting down on the sidewalk, playing with stuff they found on the ground or running back to Daddy in the front yard. Next year for sure, though...

    So once we returned, Devin and Todd took off with some of the neighbors to go begging for candy while the girls and I stayed home handing out candy. It was great fun, as we had the front door open with a doggie gate placed in the doorway to keep the girls inside. We had spooky music playing and we had an excellent turn out with lots of little goblins showing up for their free yummies.

    Devin and Todd returned around 8:00 and after dumping his candy on the living room floor to sort it out, we finally got Devin into the bath and into bed.

    So, if you're counting, that's 3 costumed events for me, 2 for Todd, 5 for Devin and 3 for each twin. I would say that we definitely got our money's worth out of all of our get ups.

    Here are a few pictures for you. Additional photos to come (we never take our camera anywhere because, again, it's too darn big!).


    Gracie as Minnie Mouse (she wanted nothing to do with the ears)



    Faith as Tinkerbelle



    Ready to go trick-or-treating



    Why are you out there while we're still in here?



    Ninja boy, Devin



    Sorting through the loot

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Now That's a Forecast!

    From June - September, I curse the Texas weather. But when fall rolls around, and our forecast looks like this, day after day, I remember why I love the Lone Star State so very, very much.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Wanted Ad: Parents

    I've seen this a number of time in my Inbox, as I am sure most of you have as well. But it's worth the post, for a good laugh and a little bit of perspective.

    POSITION :
    Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma
    Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop

    JOB DESCRIPTION :

    Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an, often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

    RESPONSIBILITIES :

    The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.

  • Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.

  • Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.

  • Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.

  • Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.

  • Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

  • Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

  • Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

    POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION :

    None.
    Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

    PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE :

    None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

    WAGES AND COMPENSATION :

    Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

    BENEFITS :

    While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.

  • Monday, October 22, 2007

    What is With My Kid?

    It just never stops when it comes to Devin. I guess it's just a part of having a boy.

    Last Friday was "Flu Shot Day" for the Pruetz kids. I packed all three of them into the family truckster (the minivan) and headed down to the pediatrician's office.

    Not surprisingly, Devin opted to go last as the recipient of the shot. So each girl was duly poked, snuggled by me, given a cup of warm milk and were fine from that point on.

    But it was a different story when Dev's turn came around.

    First, I sat in a chair to hold him in my lap. As I was getting situated, though, a four-year-old panic attack ensued and my son decided that he wanted nothing to do with this whole "getting a shot" thing.

    He wriggled from my arms, headed for the exit, threw open the door and bolted down the hall. Luckily, our pediatrician has a new office that has quite a few side hallways and twists and turns and Devin took a wrong turn and ended up at a dead-end.

    As I approached him, he screamed. I lunged and he kicked, but I managed to get a hold of him anyhow and drag him back into the exam room. The whole way, he was yelling, "Get me out of here!" I am sure he impressed quite a few people in the office.

    So I sat back down into the chair, put his legs between mine, wrapped mine around his, held his arms down and squeezed as tightly as I could as the nurse gave him the injection.

    Screams. Screams. A few more screams. A little more screaming.

    Then the babies cried. More crying. Continued screaming.

    Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we left. We went to Krispy Kreme to get our customary after-a-shot doughnut and went home for a good, long nap -- for all of us.

    End of story, right?

    Well, if you know me and my family, then you know that there is no way that is the end of the story.

    The Doodlebug woke up on Saturday morning complaining that his arm still hurt. Knowing that flu shots often leave the injection site sore, I wasn't worried until I lifted up the arm of his shirt. His poor little bicept was all swollen up, about the size of an egg. It was red and hot to the touch and I could immediately see why Devin was so uncomfortable.

    I called the 24-hour nurse line and explained the situation to them. They told me to just watch it and make sure that the redness didn't swell or accompany a fever.

    So we watched and Devin seemed to do fine. Sunday morning rolled around and once again, I lifted the arm of his size four shirt and there was the red patch -- twice the size of what it was the day before. The swelling had subsided almost completely, but the site was still hot to the touch.

    Another call to the nurse line and the advice to give Benadryl and keep an eye on it once again. I did just what they said to do, but started thinking back to May, when Devin's foot got so infected that he ended up needed IV antibiotics. I got scared and decided to go ahead and take him to Good Night Pediatrics, the after-hours pediatrics office just around the corner.

    Turns out there are a lot of sick kids in our neighborhood, because we had a nearly two-hour wait as the doctors in the practice tried hard to keep up with the demand.

    Finally, we were called back and the doctor entered the room. She examined all of the things that doctors examine -- listened to Devin's heart and lungs, checked his ears, eyes, nose and mouth and tested his reflexes. Finally, we rolled up the sleever of his shirt to reveal....

    NOTHING.

    Apparently, the Benadryl had done its job and the swelling and redness had completely gone away. If I had just looked at my son's arm in the waiting room, I could have saved us a lot of time and money. Instead, we missed Mass and our church Fall Extravaganza and spent the whole day in a doctor's office for a problem that didn't exist.

    Fabulous.

    But I have to laugh, because what else can I do? The whole thing is just so ridiculous and so indicative of the futility that comes with motherhood. It's a part of my every day.

    How was your weekend? ;)

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Devin's Doozie

    After eating a cup of yoghurt this morning, Devin ran over to me and gave me a big tackle-style hug, but promptly ruined the moment by saying:

    "Mommy -- I wiped my face on your shirt so I wouldn't have to use a napkin."

    Have a great weekend!

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Answered Prayers

    I just got a call from our pediatrician's office -- the girls' labwork came back normal on all counts.

    Praise God!

    Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and warm fuzzies.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    It's 10:45 AM...Too Early for a Drink?

    Ugh...I just got back from what may be one of the ten worst of experiences of my life. Nearly six weeks in the hospital tops the list...

    As you may recall, about a month ago, I took the girls to see their doctor for their 15 month check ups. Because of their small sizes, Dr. T. wanted to have some blood work done on them. Well, it's taken me a little longer than it should have to actually get it done, but today was the day.

    Needless to say, it was horrible. I mean, you never like having to have your kid pricked and prodded with needles, but when you have to put one down while she is still crying so you can do the same to the other one is especially awful.

    To make matters worse, I had to actually lay on the table with the girls and hold them down. I hate the thought of being a restraint system for my own kids.

    Luckily, we had two of the nicest, most patient phlebotomists you could ever hope for. They were kind and doting and simply wonderful. The experience could have been far worse if we'd had two women who didn't care.

    I expected to only have a vile of blood taken from each baby, but when they brought out three for Gracie and four for Faith, I had to ask: What kinds of tests are they having done? I thought it was just a Complete Blood Count (CBC).

    Turns out, they're getting CBCs, chem panels for heart disease and thyroid issues and a number of other things.

    It makes me nervous. I'm sure they're fine, but I just want them to have the opportunity to live normally. Yes, they are small (at 16 months, they are wearing six-to-nine month clothes), but maybe they're just meant to be little. I'm okay with that.

    If they are sick, I'd want to know so I can help them, but I just can't shake the thought that it's not their faults that they were born so early. I just want normal lives for them, free from health issues and disease. It's every mommy's hope for her children.

    So it'll be a week or so before we hear back on the results. If you have prayers to spare, please say one for my girls, in the hopes that there will be no major problems found.

    Peace.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Return of the Mac...

    Isn't that a song? Or something similar?

    Anyway, the computer is back, this time with a new logic board. Fabulous! It's nice to be connected again.

    The past week has been a good one for the Pruetz family, albeit a little boring (boring by our standards may not be boring by yours, by the way).

    Last week, Todd worked like a mad man all week long on a number of different projects. Most nights he wasn't home until 7:30 or 8:00, long after beddy-bye time for the girls. He would get a few moments with Devin, but the Doodlebug goes to bed at 8:00, so the two didn't have a whole lot of time together.

    I guess I never realized how much I miss Todd when he's not around. Of course, it was hard feeding all three kids, getting them all bathed and jammied (yes, it's a verb in our house) and into bed all by myself, only to have to go and tackle cleaning the kitchen afterwards.

    But really, that stuff didn't bother me as much as just not having Todd around bothered me. I missed him. I missed watching TV with him at night, or having a glass of wine with him on the front porch. It was sad, but I did get a good appreciation for not just Todd, but for our marriage as well.

    Friday, though, Todd took a half day off. He took Devin to his 3:30 gymnastics class and after that, the two of them went on their Father-Son campout at the San Antonio Zoo!

    Our zoo is so cool (as you've heard from previous posts) and they have so many neato programs. This particular one is called the "Family Campout." It's designed for families with kiddos 3 years - 5 years (hence the absence of the twins and me) and is a one-night adventure that includes roasting hot dogs over a fire, up-close animal experiences, a nighttime tour of the zoo, s'mores, a morning tour of the zoo (apparently, this is when the animals are at their friskiest!) and a breakfast. The two were home by 9:00 on Saturday morning, regaling me with tales of their fabulous trip.

  • Getting to pet an armadillo, a snake, an owl and a giant snail (which creeped Devin out and he dropped it -- he's his mommy's son)
  • A panther that put on quite a show by pouncing and stretching for the crowd
  • A rarely seen grizzly bear
  • A new friend named Aiden
  • And lots, lots more...

    Here are a few pictures from the camping trip of all camping trips


    Petting the Armadillo



    I love owls and was very disappointed to have missed this one!



    Dinnertime!


    Moving On...

    The rest of the Pruetz family is doing very well. The girls are masters at walking now and toddle around the house like old pros. It's easily the cutest thing I've ever seen. I just love that they are upright now.

    It's always been that Gracie was the dominant personality, while Faith was a little more reserved and quiet. Gracie would topple Faith in an effort to get what she wanted, while Faith was pretty content sitting in my lap, watching the action.

    Well I don't know what happened, but it seems that those personalities have been switched.

    Now I know what you're thinking, but no, I have not mixed the two up. How do I know? Because I am the mom, that's how. The girls look different to me. Also, Faith has always been smaller than Grace and has a freckle on her left leg that Grace doesn't have.

    So there.

    Anyway, it seems that Faith will no longer stand for being the "little, quiet one." She's decided that she will not be stereotyped and is doing everything in her power to make sure everyone knows that she's the boss.

    She talks ("What's that?" and "Kitty cat!" are her favorite sayings), she screetches (usually during meals) and she bites.

    The latter of those three personality traits is something that comes unprompted and seemingly randomly. She'll just see Grace (who is the sole recipient of Faith's oral imprint) from across the room, walk over to her and CHOMP! Two weeks ago, she drew blood on Gracie's left arm. Just as that bruise was going away, she took a chunck out of Gracie's right cheek. We are now calling Faith, "Hannibal Lector."

    And poor Gracie. She's become so quiet and retiring. She's now my lap baby who just follows me around, hoping to be picked up and cuddled. I have to admit that I love the snugglieness that is coming with this new personality. Since she wasn't a cuddler for the first 15 months of her life, I feel like I missed out on some good Mommy-Gracie bonding time. I'm making it up now, though. :)

    Peace from the Pruetz Pound. More to come...

  • Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Out of Commission

    Hi Folks...

    Both of my computers have been usurped for various reasons, meaning that I am without the ability to communicate digitally (ie - email, blog, iChat, IM, etc).

    So if you're looking for an update from me or wondering why I don't answer my emails, now you know! I'm hoping for a return of at least one machine later this week.

    I'm alive, I'm mostly well (I only consider myself, "Well," if I'm sitting on a beach with a trashy novel in one hand and a pina colada in the other) and I'll be back as soon as I can!

    Peace,
    Me

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    The Bathroom

    Yes -- the story continues. I mean, seriously... When did I start this whole process? Mid-August. And is it done yet? Of course not.

    On Tuesday, my contractor finally showed up to start the tiling. Of course, since there was carpeting in the bath, we had to put down cement board first. That was laid on Tuesday and had to set over night.

    Wednesday arrived and the tiling began. It went pretty well until the very end, when we were short three tiles. Three. Seriously.

    Of course, I can't just buy normal tile. I had to buy the small, mosaic octogonal tiles that often have to be special ordered. Luckily, Home Depot had them in stock, but I was totally prepared to wait six weeks for my three final tiles to come in.

    So the remaining tiles were set today and now the guys are up there grouting. The grout will set over night and, hopefully tomorrow will bring my baseboards and my toilet back.

    What a luxury -- a working toilet in your master bathroom. SHEESH.

    We haven't even begun the painting the master bedroom and suddenly the current paint job doesn't look too bad. I can't imagine doing any more home improvement. I'd rather put an ice pick in my ear.

    Moving on...

    Last week I took the Doodlebug to have his stiches taken out. I knew it was not going to go well, but I was totally unprepared for what transpired.

    I took the girls to the drop-off childcare place near our home (this place is a lifesaver!) so I could focus my attention on Devin.

    We got into the room and talked about what was going to happen and how it was going to be done. He was a little anxious about it and I warned the nurse. She said, "Oh -- they're all like that," and didn't heed my advice to sedate him. :)

    So Dr. T. came in and asked to see Dev's hand. No can do. He wouldn't even show it to her.

    We finally got his arm stretched out and the screaming commenced. Dr. T. had to go get her nurse so that the nurse, along with me, could restrain my 40-lb. child.

    And so it began, as I held his right arm down by his side and wrapped my legs around him. The nurse held D's left hand still while Cheryl pulled the stiches.

    And what did Devin do? He screamed. And screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

    And screamed.

    We heard a lot of good phrases come from my kid's mouth:

    "Get me out of here!" "Let go of me!" "Stop it right now!"

    It just about broke my heart and I think I would have cried if I hadn't been laughing so hard. I mean, the whole thing was just so ridiculous.

    Afterwards, we hit Krispy Kreme for a Get Well doughnut. That perked the kiddo up pretty easily.

    And Finally...

    This weekend is Todd and my 6th anniversary. It's hard to believe that it's been six years since we married in Dallas. It's been a great six years and we are looking forward to going out on a date alone on Saturday night. Oh the bliss.

    And, for no good reason other than the fact that my kids (and dog) are adorable, here are some picture. Enjoy!


    First day of Pre-K, September 4, 2007.



    So much for clean laundry. That's Gracie in the basket and Faith trying to make her way in.



    Zoe. I love that dog and couldn't resist a photo.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    A Trip to Sea World

    The great thing about living in a touristy town like San Antonio is that there is never a lack of things to do. And, if you wait until tourist season is over, places like the Riverwalk, Sea World, Fiesta Texas and the Alamo can be pretty fun when you don't have to dodge old men in sandals and black knee socks.

    With that in mind, this weekend was our family trip to Sea World. We've been once before, when Devin was just about two years old. While the kid can remember seeing bee outside the doors of our church when he was 18 months old, he has zero recollection of petting a dolphin or coming face-to-face with a shark six months later. Go figure.

    So we got to the park and headed straight to the dolphins exhibit. Unfortunately, they did not have the feeding booth open (where you can purchase four small fish for the bargin price of $5.00), so the dolphins were a little less likely to come right up to you and let you pet them (they're in a big, open-topped tank, obviously). But they did come up close and Devin was amazed.

    Next we went to the coral reef exhibit and what we missed at the dolphin exhibit was made up here. We walked into the big, theatre-style room with a huge coral reef tank that must have measured 25 feet tall by 35 feet wide. Hundreds of people were crowded in there and Dev and I found a good viewing spot pretty quickly. My fabulous husband stood at the back with the girls.

    We walked in just in time to see a diver jump into the tank and while the woman in the theatre was explaining what was going on, the diver started to talk! How cool! She had a microphone in her scuba equipment and could hear everything we were saying, despite the 11-inch-thick glass. Ahh, modern technology.

    They did a little bit of background on the fish and then began feeding. You should have seen them all swarm! It was amazing!

    We decided to leave before the 200 people in the room with us all headed for the door at the same time. We went into the next room, which was dimly lit and completely taken up by another huge tank filled with sharks of all shapes and sizes. We stood there for a long time and watched as they would come right up to the glass, teeth bared and looking mean. It freaked me out and I kept saying, "Please don't eat my children..."

    We grabbed a bite to eat and right around that time, Devin spotted the ride, "Journey to Atlantis." It's one of those big water rides that takes you up a big hill, turns you around and drops you, getting you and everyone standing nearby soaking wet.

    I was fully expecting Devin to say, "I'm never doing that!" which is his patented saying when he is adamant about not doing something.

    But, instead, he said, "Can we ride that, Mom?"

    I've never been so proud and I know my mom, the ultimate daredevil, was smiling down. I quickly grabbed the Doodlebug's hand and marched over to the "You have to be this tall to ride Journey to Atlantis" sign. I stuck his little head under there and, wouldn't you know it, he missed the height requirement by about a half-an-inch. Seriously. I tried to reason with the girl standing there, but she wouldn't allow it.

    I see a trip to Sea World again in our future, just for the sake of riding that ride. Devin was so disappointed.

    To cure his disappointment, we ran into a gift shop and grabbed a small, stuffed Shamu for Dev. He promptly named it "Fluffy." Whatever you say...

    Then we went to see the newest Shamu show, "Believe."

    I was really expecting some chee-zee show with some sort of stupid plot, but I was mercifully wrong.

    This show was amazing. They first started with a salute to the military and invited all US military as well as military personnel of the United States' allies to stand while the rest of the audience gave an ovation.

    After that, the music began (I may buy the soundtrack -- it was that good) and out of the water came Shamu. And Shamu II. And Shamu III. I've never seen a killer whale show that included three whales at once. It was fabulous and the whole thing just brought tears to my eyes -- it was simply incredible and beautiful.

    The best part of the show, though, was Faith. I was holding her and Todd had Grace. Grace was her usual fiesty, squirming self. But Faith was mesmerized. Every time Shamu came out of the water, she would point and squeal. Then she would patiently wait for the big creature to emerge again. She even caught on that Devin's toy looked like the show she was watching and would point and squeal at it, too. It was fantastic to watch her enjoy that show so much.

    We were pretty tired by this point, but we trudged on to see the penguins and the sea lions. We finally said, "We're outta here!" and took a very begruding Devin home.

    All-in-all it was a fantastic day and we are so looking forward to returning.

    Moving On...

    All week long, now, Faith has been practicing her walking skills. Every day she walks a little more and a little more, getting more comfortable with going distances, letting go and even changing direction.

    Well, Grace would hear nothing of it. Last night, as all five of us were playing upstairs and cheering Faitharoo on, Gracie just popped up and started walking. Before last night, she'd only taken one unaided step. Suddenly, though, she's matching Faith step-for-step, despite being a week behind in practice.

    So now, I have two walkers whereas only two weeks ago, I had two crawlers. Holy cow it happened fast.

    More news to come, as it happens or as I have time. :)

    Ciao...

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    What I Heard From Upstairs A Few Minutes Ago...

    Babble, babble, talk, laugh, cry, talk, babble, laugh...

    Thud.

    Silence.

    Screams.

    Grace has decided that when she's done with her nap, she will remove herself from her crib rather than wait for me to do so.

    No injuries, luckily.

    Not To Be Outdone...

    Grace took her first step yesterday. It was only one step, but I don't think she can stand the idea of her sister doing anything that she's not doing, too.

    Life as we know it is over.

    And, just for a laugh, here is an image I got from my high school friend, Karen. As a devout Catholic, I found this particularly hysterical.


    How Catholics Know When They Are Driving Too Fast

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    When Is This Rollercoaster Going To Stop?

    Ugh! Our lives have been so crazy lately! I don't know where the lazy, dog days of summer went, but suddenly we are in the throes of a very busy fall.

    Devin started Pre-K at a local church and preschool last Tuesday, the 4th. It was a proud day for mommy as he walked in, put his bucket (instead of backpack) and lunchbox down, found his name at the table and started working on his morning worksheet. I didn't cry, although I did get a little teary-eyed when I was taking photos of him looking so cute in his denim shorts and new polo shirt. He's just so grown up.

    We've also had a few crazy weekends lately, with family in town, birthday parties, etc. It's like I just can't seem to catch up!

    And, of course, life has not been without excitement.

    This past Sunday, I went to a bridal shower and was enjoying some girl time. My stupid cell phone won't hold a change, but I didn't think much of it, as I wasn't going to be gone more than a couple of hours, I was close to home and Todd had the number of the house where the shower was being held.

    Big mistake.

    I got home around 4:30 and as I got out of my car, I saw my neighbor coming across his lawn and mine, toward me. Now Billy is the life of the party, always laughing and telling jokes, so when I saw his face without a smile or silly comment, I knew something was wrong.

    "Don't panic. Everything is fine. Lisa (his wife) and Elena (our neighbor) are inside with the girls. Devin cut his finger on a knife and Todd took him to the Emergency Room. I saw them before they left and Devin was doing fine. He got into the car himself and had even stopped crying. Lisa and Elena are happy to stay with the babies if you want to go to the hospital."

    Okay. Okay. I can handle this. D is in good hands, Todd is with him and the babies are happy. Okay. What do I need to do?

    Put the milk that I purchased on the way home in the fridge.

    So I went inside, met Lisa and Elena and asked them if they'd mind staying while I went to meet my husband and son. They were totally supportive and encouraged me to please go and not worry about the babies.

    So I did.

    I was at the ER in record time and found Devin and Todd immediately. There was my poor son, sitting on the exam table, his left hand wrapped in a towel. I asked if I could see the wound and Devin bravely showed it to me. OUCH! It was a pretty deep cut!

    As we were waiting for the doctor to come in, I got the full story.

    Todd was working on our bathroom and was on a ladder. His Leatherman pocket knife was out and Devin was reaching for it. Todd told Devin not to pick it up, but the munchkin did not listen and grabbed it anyway. He had a slice in his thumb before Todd could get down the ladder.

    The doctor came in, decided on stiches and we discussed how to make the Doodle comfortable during the little "procedure."

    First was Tylenol for Codeine for the pain (which, by the way, had the opposite effect on my kid), then a topical anesthesia. After that was a local anesthesia via a shot (Devin was not happy about this, but luckily they had him wrapped up in a blanket like a burrito, so he couldn't swat them away). Then the stiches. The local anesthesia worked well, because he never felt a thing. While the doctor worked on D's left hand, Todd stood on the right side of the room and did tricks with the latex gloves. He had Devin (and the nurses, in fact) in stiches (pardon the pun!) and kept his mind off of procedure at hand (pardon that pun, too!).

    After the procedure, we were out of there pretty quickly and D's done very well ever since. We've kept his hand wrapped in an Ace bandage to keep him from using it too much, but it's barely slowed him down. We'll have to skip Gymnastics class this week, but he'll be able to return next week.

    The girls are doing well, also. Thank you to all of you who posted comments or sent me emails on how to boost their calories and get them to gain weight faster. We've adopted a number of your suggestions and they seem to be very happy with their new, more fattening diet. Who wouldn't be?

    A few weeks ago (actually, it was August 6!), Faith took her first steps. It was those tentative, coaxed steps that stopped as soon as they started. She walked, but she wasn't interested in doing so. Over the next month, she did it a few more times, but again, it was only when I sat across the room with the remote control in my hand, begging her to come toward me.

    This past Thursday, though, as I was sitting in the living room, Faith popped up onto her feet by herself (she didn't even pull up on an object!) and walked over to me. I was so surprised, but I'm not sure she knew was she was doing. I think instinct had taken over her conscious, because she wouldn't do it again. It was like she didn't even know she'd done it.

    Until yesterday.

    Last night, around 5:00, the three kids and I were playing in the front room, and Faith did it again: poppped up by herself, and walked to me. This time, though, she laughed and smiled, so I know she knew was she was going.

    And that was it. She started walking everywhere: From the living room to the dining room, through the kitchen and breakfast room and into the family room. Rest. Then off to the entry hall and back into the living room.

    Houston, we have a walker

    Gracie, not to be outdone, has now started to spend more time standing on her own. I doubt it will be long before she's walking as well.

    So there you have it -- the latest in the life and times of the Pruetz family. Stiches, first steps and general craziness. It's just another day in paradise. :)

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    Calling All Moms of Preemies

    Today was Faith and Grace's 15-month check up. I went in knowing exactly what would become sticking points -- their ears and their weight. And I wasn't disappointed.

    Today, their ears seemed to be fine, but Dr. T could already see some fluid build up in Grace's right ear, so we're on "alert" for an ear infection. And since Faith is just one big ear infection after another, we're always on alert for her. I'm certain tubes will happen sometime in the not-too-distant future.

    The girls' naked weights were taken and Faith came in at 17 lbs, 14 oz while Grace is at 18 lbs, 8 lbs, 8 oz. I was astonished to see how little both of them had gained in recent months. I knew Faith wasn't gaining, but Grace isn't exactly packing on the pounds either.

    I asked Dr. T about them and she agreed that they really aren't where they should be. To give you a reference, a friend of mine has a little boy who weighs 15 pounds and he's only four-and-a-half months old. My best friend's son is six months younger than the twins and weighs nearly 21 pounds. YOWZA.

    Truthfully, my heart feels as though they will be just fine. I don't really think that there's anything wrong with them. But there's always that element of doubt that sticks in the back of your mind, making you doubt everything you know to be true. This time is no different -- I definitely have doubts.

    Dr. T isn't in panic mode, either, which helped me a lot. She told me that they may just be small kids. She very politely pointed out that Todd and I are not exactly tall (Todd's a monster at 5' 10" compared to me at 5' 2") and that the twins being preemies may just be making their small nature all the smaller.

    To be on the safe side, we're going to do some blood work to check for red and white cell counts and thyroid activity and see a Gastrointerologist to make sure there isn't some sort of digestion issue going on.

    I'm not looking forward to either one of these, but I am looking forward to confirming that my girls are fine and just petite.

    So here are my questions for you moms-of-preemies, moms-of-small kids and anyone else who just has something to add: Have you been through this with your kids? What was the outcome? Can you recommend any foods that can help my little ones "beef up" a little? We eat a lot of cheese and avocados around here, but I'll take all kinds of suggestions.

    Leave a comment or zip me an email -- I'll take all the advice and reassurance I can get and truly appreciate anything you can add.