Friday, December 30, 2011

Leader Christmas

On Christmas Day after playing with some of our new toys and enjoying biscuits and gravy for breakfast, it was time to get ready to head to Grandpa and Grandma Leader's house.  Late afternoon we got on the road for the next phase of the Christmas celebration.
Grandma decided that we would have a simple supper meal of soup, taverns and various other goodies.  There were four kinds of soup to choose from and so many goodies.
After eating and cleaning up, we all headed for the basement to start the unwrapping of gifts.  The younger cousins all draw names and exchange gifts.  You have to wait for your name to be drawn to guess who has your name before you can open.
The adults do a men's and women's gift exchange involving a game.  Grandpa and Grandma gave each grandchild an ornament, Relay for Life t-shirt, and books.
Grandma made each adult a fleece blanket for Christmas to keep us warm on those cold Nebraska days.
Ashlin received an initial "A" necklace in the exchange.  This item was on her Christmas list.
Uncle David picked out this Nebraska volleyball t-shirt for Cara.  He knows how much she loves volleyball.
Erica received items that were "blingy".  She received a hot pink purse, glittered "E" journal and hot pink headband in the exchange.
Justin received a John Deere tool belt with tools and this hat.  The hat needs to be reshaped, but Justin wore it the rest of the night.  These tools will get lots of use.  He loves using his tools to help Dad.

Needless to say the flu bug was not done at our house.  On the way home, Erica got sick and shortly after getting home Justin also got sick.  It was a long night for all with the washing machine running two loads over night.  The next day Dad didn't feel well either.  Then on Wednesday night the flu bug hit me.  Hopefully we are all done with that nasty business for the year.

Take care,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Day

When Christmas morning dawned at our house, we weren't really sure what to expect.  The stomach flu bug had hit our house off-and-on for a few days so we didn't know how anyone would be feeling.  Cara had been sick on Thursday and Friday with it.  Then right when it was time to leave for Mass on Christmas Eve, Ashlin said that she didn't feel well.  The flu hit her while Cara, Erica, Justin and I were at Mass.  But, everyone was feeling okay that morning.

The oldest two were up shortly after 7 a.m. While the younger two woke up around 8 a.m.  The kids have never been really early risers on Christmas morning.  This is great because with all of the excitement and activities we all need our sleep to get us through the day.
This monster truck pulling a boat was waiting for Justin by his pile of loot.  He loves that he now has a truck with a hitch for pulling a boat just like his dad's real truck.
Justin opening the gift that he wanted most of all - a Leapster Explorer.  He has been talking about this toy for months.  Good thing that Santa was listening.
Ashlin didn't make a list out for Santa this year.  She said that she would be happy with whatever Santa brought her.  Although later on she did admit that she really wanted a make-up kit.  She was so happy when there was one by her stocking
Cara holding up a new package of socks.  All three of the girls received new socks.  Cara got lots of new clothes.  Santa must have known that there wasn't much in her closet that fit anymore.
This package may have been the highlight of the present opening.  The three girls have all wanted a DS for the last 2-3 years and Santa has not delivered one.  This year there were 3 gifts marked "All Girls" on them.  The one Erica opened contained a DS and it got a great reaction from all the girls.  The one Ashlin opened contained a DS game and the one Cara opened contained a Wii remote charger.

More about Christmas in the next post.

Take care,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dance Camp

A week ago, the three girls all attended Dance Camp at school.  The weather outside was dreadful with snow coming down in big flakes and we ended up getting about 4-5 inches of the white stuff, but dance camp was still held.  They reported to the gym at 1:30 to learn a dance and have fun.
During halftime of the boys varsity game, all of the dancers got to perform the dance they learned.  It was an afternoon game which worked out perfect because of the weather.
The girls had so much fun hanging out with the high school girls and learning a dance.  Considering none of them are in dance this year, it gave them a chance to see if they still liked dancing.
The girls participating in dance camp ranged from preschool through 6th grade.
There were so many girls dancing that I couldn't get a photo of the whole group.

The boys ended up winning the game.  Justin enjoyed watching the game while waiting for the girls to perform.  He clapped and naturally made a trip to the concession stand for a snack.

Take care,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Holly!

Happy Birthday yesterday to our niece, Holly!  We celebrated her birthday last weekend when she came home from Louisiana. 
 Her cake was on fire from all of the candles.
Her angel food birthday cake tasted delicious.

Take care,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mercy Meals

Last Saturday morning Cara and Erica had a short 4-H meeting and then the club went to package Mercy Meals for their community service project.  They packaged the meals for one hour. 
Upon arrival at the Mercy Meal warehouse everyone must put on aprons, hair nets and then wash their hands.  Here the group is listening to instructions about packaging the food.
Assembly lines are then set up to package the meals.  Everyone has a job in the assembly line.
Allison is sealing a package shut for the shipment.  The packages that the kids put together would either be sent to Kenya or Haiti.
Casey is waiting for her turn to put a label on a finished package of food.
Cara and Charli were packaging the filled bags in boxes.  Each box contains 50 bags of food.  Each bag contains: rice, soy, dried vegetables, chicken base.  Each bag feeds 3 people and costs about $0.70 to make.
Erica worked behind the scene assembling boxes and putting labels on the boxes.

The following is from a letter handed out to the volunteers:
Mercy Meals of Nebraska is a non-profit organization that allows volunteers to package nourishing food that will be delivered to children in need throughout the world.  Orphanages, refugee camps, feeding centers, disaster relief centers and local food pantries have been recent recipients of the food.

Through this program, we hope to instill in our children a sense of self-empowerment, civic duty, world awareness, kindness toward their fellow man and appreciation for the blessings in their daily lives.  We want then to know that they can make a difference in other people's lives by being informed, by making good choices in their lives, by giving their time and by donating their talents.

This was a great service project for these kids to complete, especially at this time of the year.  The project is easy and fun to complete.  My kids have done Mercy Meals before and each time they have a good time while helping less fortunate people.

Take care,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Decorating Christmas Cookies

Grandma Leader and Cousin Holly have a tradition of decorating Christmas cookies.  This year with Holly coming home early the cookies were ready to be decorated early.  Also Grandma Leader has started a cookie exchange annual program on the Guenther side.  This next Saturday will be the 3rd annual event.
Shortly after the dinner dishes were done, the cookies and decorating supplies came out.  Cara, Erica, Ashlin, Holly and Aunt Sharlene started work on the ice cream buckets of cookies to be frosted.
Ashlin working intently on her cookie.
Erica and Holly taking a break for a photo opportunity.  My girls were inseparable from Holly the whole day.  They have missed seeing her and bugged her constantly.
Cara creating another masterpiece.
Justin was kind enough to hand out finished cookies to other guests and even enjoyed eating quite a few himself.  Thank you to Grandma Leader for sending quite a few home with us to enjoy this week.
Justin playing Lego's with Michael.  Justin kept asking for someone to play with him.  He sat on the Winnie the Pooh step stool and saved the Dora stool for a friend.  Michael played Lego's until Justin crashed the airplane that he had created.
Zac also got the opportunity to sit down and join in the building fun.  Grandma Leader made a good investment when she purchased the Lego's and the table from Eli.  This corner of the laundry room got a lot of use that day.  It was a great day to spend with family. 

Take care,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy 8th Birthday Conner!

Our nephew Conner turned 8 years old yesterday.  His birthday happened to coincide with the family dinner that Keith's parents hosted yesterday because our niece Holly was home from Louisiana.  Conner had a birthday party on Saturday, but we celebrated yesterday also with cake again.

We couldn't make it to his birthday party on Saturday, so he got to open our present yesterday.  We gave him a Cars2 DVD and a Nebraska hooded sweatshirt.
Aunt Sharlene made jigglers to celebrate Conner and Holly's birthdays for lunch.  Grandma Merina made a most delicious dinner of ham, swiss steak, au gratin potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, salads and butterfinger dessert.  Later in the afternoon we had our choice of two birthday cakes.
Take care,

Monday, November 28, 2011

How to cook a turkey by Ashlin

Last Wednesday we were totally surprised when we opened up our newspaper and there was Ashlin and some of her classmates on the front page.  The reporter from the newspaper came to the school and interviewed the whole class on how to cook a Thanksgiving Day turkey.  Ashlin was picked to get her photo taken holding her drawn turkey and she also got to be featured on a You Tube video also posted by the newspaper.

Several 1st graders were recently asked by the Norfolk Daily News how to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Click HERE to view their responses on this YouTube video, courtesy of the Norfolk Daily News!  Hopefully the link works to watch the video, when I tried it worked.  Ashlin is about the 2nd or 3rd student interviewed.

On a side note, I did purchase a new camera during my Black Friday adventure, so hopefully I will be back to posting more regularly once again.

Take care,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Congrats Ashlin!

Sorry I haven't been blogging, but I am still having camera problems.  I am trying to decide if I should buy a new camera now or wait until Black Friday to score an awesome deal.

Anyway, Ashlin needs to be congratulated today on placing 2nd in another coloring contest.  This time she entered a Halloween coloring contest sponsored by our local Shopper newspaper.  This newspaper is distributed in Northeast Nebraska weekly to households and it is free.  In the shopper are the grocery ads for the week and other for sale items.  Ashlin placed 2nd in the 5-6 year old division and won a few free games of bowling.  She was so excited yesterday when the Shopper arrived on our doorstep and I showed her that she had won a prize.

Simply put, Ashlin loves to color and she could color for hours.  She does a very good job.  After placing 2nd this summer in the Library's coloring contest and now 2nd in this contest, she is determined to place 1st in her next contest.  Ashlin is now on the look out for the next coloring contest to enter.  Sorry I don't have a photo of her 2nd place photo, but the camera is not working and it is very frustrating to me.

Take care,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blog Break

I have been trying to post, but my photos are stuck on my camera.  My camera has decided to only work when it wants to instead of when I want it to work.  I'm not sure if the problem is the camera or the battery.  Still trying to figure out what exactly is going to with it.  I have also tried to use Cara's camera and something is wrong with her camera also.  I need to have Keith take a look at Cara's camera.  I am starting to think that my camera is a lost cause and I need to just go buy a new one.

Take care,

Monday, October 17, 2011

One Book Three Schools

Last year our school participated in One Book One School.  This year we are participating in One Book Three Schools.  Two other schools in Norfolk have decided to join us in this great family activity.  The two other schools are Westside Elementary and Christ Lutheran School. 
This fall we are reading, Because of Winn-Dixie.  My kids have watched this movie many times, but usually the book is a little different.  The program works like this.  Each night as a family you are required to read one or two chapters.  The average reading time is about 15 minutes per night.  The following morning the principal asks the students a question about the previous night's reading.  Each correct answer is entered into a drawing for the day to win a small prize.  Currently we are half way through the book.  When we are finished reading the book, the school is having a family fun night with hot dogs, chips and a drink for free.

I love the excitement that this book reading creates at school.  You can hear throughout the day different students discussing the book and every gets excited at the end of the day when the winner from the drawing is announced.  This encourages a family activity and also promotes the importance of reading.

Take care,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Increasing Excitement

Yesterday when we arrived home from school there was a package by our front door.  The package was from Cousin Jack and inside were two new shirts, one pair of jeans, one pair of wind pants and one fleece jacket. 
Justin's birthday is this Friday and that package just increased his excitement.  We have been counting down the days until the big day on Friday.  Today he insisted on wearing one new shirt, his new wind pants and new jacket to daycare.
Only two days until we are officially 4 years old.  Can you feel the excitement in the air?

Take care,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Music in the house

Our fall schedule is pretty hectic right now.  It seems that we have some activity almost every night after school.  Wednesday is piano lesson day.  Erica has joined Cara this fall at piano lessons.  The girls are taking lessons again from Mrs. Nissen.  She is also the K-3rd grade music teacher at the school. 

Today I have posted some photos from Cara's piano recital last spring.  She played Purple Cow, Fur Ludwig, and Boogie Woogie.
Cara waiting for her turn to perform.  The recital is always held at The Meadows, a retirement home.  The residents love to hear the students perform.  It gives them an evening of something to do, plus it gives the students an audience besides just parents.

The whole group after the performance.

Take care,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Serious Allergy Issues

This post is long so please bear with me.

It seems that with every passing year my allergies are getting worse.  Starting in mid-August until the first freeze I experience the following symptoms:  nasal congestion, decreased hearing, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, sinus pressure and headaches, a dry cough, etc.  The only way to make to make the symptoms go away would be for me to live in a glass bottle with air conditioning.

This fall I was experiencing the same symptoms.  Usually I take over the counter medications until I can't take it any more or I know that I have a sinus infection.  Doctors have stopped giving allergy shots, no matter how bad your symptoms are.  I used to go in and practically beg for a shot and less than 24 hours later I was bad to normal.  Those shots were the wonder drug.

My allergy problems all came to a head on Tuesday, September 13th while I was at school.  I went to school as normal that day and went about my duties.  I wasn't feeling any worse than usual.  I had taken an Allegra pill that morning.  Mrs. Nedrow, the preschool teacher, was reading the students a Bible story when I started to experience chest pains.  After the story the students were coloring a sheet about the story, and my chest pains were getting worse and I was having a hard time catching my breath.  The pain and shortness of breath would get worse if I bent over.  I sat down for a minute to catch my breath and it was continually getting worse.

At that point, I decided it was best to leave the room and go to the office to lay down for a little bit.  I told Mrs. Nedrow that I did not feel well and needed to lay down.  She nodded and called to tell the office that I was on my way.  The preschool room is located at the end of a long hall from the office.  The whole way down the hall I kept telling myself to NOT panic, keep breathing, and not to pass out.  I did not want to scare any of the students in the building.

Upon reaching the office, I told the school secretary, Mrs. Koch, that I didn't feel well and I needed to lay down.  The look on her face was awful.  At this point, I could hear myself gasping/wheezing for a breath.  I wasn't able to lay down in the nurse's office because the pain was worse if I laid flat.  Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Nedrow reached the office and it was decided to call 911 because things were not getting any better.  Mr. Berryman, the school principal, was paged to the office over the intercom.  I was told to just stay calm and keep breathing.

I thought that the ambulance only took moments to arrive, but the staff said that it took forever.  They thought about just driving me to the hospital themselves because it is only 4-5 blocks from the school.  Upon arrival the EMTs hooked me up to a portable EKG machine to check my heart.  They took my pulse and blood pressure.  They decided I needed to be transported to the hospital.

At the time that this episode occurred it was close to the afternoon recess for Kindergarten through 3rd grade.  One of the lower grades was also outside for PE at the time.  The kids outside were scared when they heard the sirens and saw the ambulance.  Therefore, the PE teacher was calling the office on her walkie talkie (this results in every teacher in the building hearing the conversation).  The kids going outside for recess were all told NOT to use the stairway by the office and traffic was rerouted so the students did not see me being hauled out of school on a stretcher.

After getting into the ambulance, I was given four chewable baby aspirin and a nitroglycerin tablet just in case I was having a heart attack.  They also started an IV in the ambulance.  Mrs. Nedrow had called Keith at work and she had called the mothers of the students that I take home from school each day.  She had said not to worry about my kids that she would take care of them.  Mr. Berryman followed the ambulance to the hospital.

At the hospital I was hooked up to an EKG machine again, given oxygen to help with my breathing, had a chest x-ray and a full blood work-up to check my heart enzyme levels.  Everything came back clear.  The ER doctor determined that the allergies were causing an irritation to the lining of my lungs.  He said that this can be very painful.  Keith asked if the doctor would give me an allergy shot.  The answer was NO because he couldn't.  Instead he gave me the equivalent in pill form.  I was told to follow up in a week with my family doctor.

A week later I went to see Dr. Adams for my follow-up.  I was still experiencing a heaviness in my chest.  It was a pain, but more like an ache.  This symptom would get worse if I laid down flat.  He put me on two different inhalers.  One inhaler I use twice a day to cause the inflammation on my lungs to go away.  The second inhaler is for emergency use to get my air way and lungs to open up quickly.  He told me that I should not exercise until the situation was better under control.  He said that I could walk, but if I experienced any chest pains to quit immediately.  He also got me an appointment to see an allergist that comes to Norfolk from Omaha.

Last Wednesday I had my appointment with the allergist, Dr. Zieg.  He had me take a breathing test to measure my air flow.  The test left me light headed and not being able to breathe well.  Then I had a breathing treatment followed by another air flow test.  The test results only improved by 3% which meant that the inhaler that I use twice a day is working for me.  They then tested me for 15 different allergens.  They tested me for grasses, trees, weeds, mold, household dust, feathers, and cats and dogs.  The results came back that I am not allergic to feathers or grasses.  I am allergic to the rest, but my ragweed result was huge.  He has taken me off of Allegra and prescribed a different drug to control my symptoms.  He determined that I probably have some asthma that is induced by my allergy problems.  Also, I continue to have two inhalers.  He said that I can slowly go back to exercising, but if I experience any trouble breathing or chest pains to quit immediately.  I go back for a follow-up in two months.

I can never let that happen again.  I was so scared.  It is an awful feeling to not be able to breathe.  The girls were upset when they got called into the office after school and told that the ambulance had taken me to the hospital because I couldn't breathe.  The awesome teachers and staff at school helped them get through it until Grandma Leader arrived to take them home.  Grandma Leader dropped everything when she got Keith's call that we needed her help.`I am very grateful for everyone's help that afternoon.

Now to getting back to normal.

Take care,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New School Pictures

The kids brought home their new school pictures from school yesterday.  Immediately, the new photos went up on the wall to replace the ones from last year.  I love seeing how they have changed and matured over the course of a year.
I was in a big hurry so there is a glare on the photos.
Ashlin - 1st Grade
Erica - 3rd Grade
Cara - 5th Grade
Justin - almost 4 years old

Take care,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Justin's New Big Boy Room

Justin will be 4 years old in a few weeks and his room was still in the baby phase of "Pooh".  So this summer when Keith was on vacation for two weeks it was time for Justin's new big boy room to take shape.

Justin is very much into trucks, cars, construction vehicles, and trains.  Therefore, this quilt with cars and trucks from Target was just the item for his new room.
I also purchased a set of wall decals for his room.  We painted three walls a medium shade of blue and one wall a dark shade of blue. 
The windows still need some curtains and I think it needs a few more pictures, but Justin loves it.  He goes in and plays for periods of time.  He was also very excited to show friends his new big boy room.

Take care,