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Friday, November 23, 2012

Blessed Beyond Measure

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving in a very low key manner.  We stayed at home and spent family time - just the four of us.  We started the day by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade snuggled together in our bed.  The twins played with Tim while I cooked.  Before eating, the twins wanted us to hold hands and stand in a circle so they could say the prayer - priceless!!  We had turkey (roast), dressing, gravy, vegetable casserole, corn casserole, mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and rolls.  After eating too much, we watched football and all took long naps.  Tayden is still coughing quite a bit, so he took an extra long nap.  This evening, we loaded up in the car (to get out of the house) and drove by Wal-Mart and Best Buy to check out the Black Friday madness.  We ate round two and played some more before the kids went to sleep.

We truly have so much to be thankful for - here are just a few of our many blessings:
We are saved by the grace of God and promised eternal life.
We have a GREAT marriage that has endured the highs and lows of life and parenthood.  I married my best friend and love him more each and every day.
We are both healthy and have two healthy, amazing children.
We have been given two children that turned our world upside down.  They test our patience and make us laugh many times a day and we cannot imagine life without them.
We have a house that is messy, with crayon scribble wall decor, but it is HOME.
We have amazing families that love us and support us.
We have wonderful friends that we consider family.
We both have jobs that allow us a great deal of time to spend with our family.

Today I came across the Caring Bridge page of a ten year old boy from Abilene - Rex Fleming.  He has been battling brain cancer for two years and his journey is nearing the end.  His father's words really hit home with me as he talked about preparing to lose his son.  They have had to have very real conversations, that they never imagined having, with their precious son.  I cannot begin to fathom the strength and courage this family has as they endure this tragedy.  Rex is in a great deal of pain, having frequent seizures and they love him so very much that they want his suffering to end so that he can claim his eternal reward and have his health restored.  They are leaning on their faith to get them through this unimaginable situation.  This family's struggle made me realize that one of our greatest blessings is one that I take for granted every single day - that Brooklyn and Tayden are healthy.  I will never forget the long list of problems the doctor warned us could be possible if the twins were born ten weeks early.  We prayed for the best and feared the worst, and today nearly three years later we have two healthy children with no physical disabilities, vision problems, learning disabilities, or heart problems.  God beat the odds, not just once, but twice and we will be forever grateful.

It is very hard not to get distracted by Christmas shopping, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, decorating, cooking, and all of the other routine tasks of this life - but the truth is that none of that truly matters.  
I think of the Fleming family and their uncertainty that Rex will live to see Christmas, or even next week, and I am reminded that my focus should always be my family.  I should spend my days hugging my children, praying with them, reading to them, working puzzles with them, holding their hands, singing and dancing with them, baking real and imaginary treats with them, teaching them important life lessons, playing outside with them, snuggling with them, comforting them, tucking them in, laughing with them, and most of all - LOVING THEM UNCONDITIONALLY!  Being able to do these things is what I am most grateful for today.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Russells! 

I found these nuggets that come in the shape of letters - just happed to pull out TR.

Brooklyn's balloon wand from one of her classmates' birthday party.

Tayden's sword - he was more interested in the animal crackers.

Thanksgiving cards from the twins to Mommy and Daddy.

She had a cracker in her mouth.

Our Elf on the Shelf arrived this week.  He will make his grand debut tomorrow.  The twins decided to name him Christmas.  We read the book and talked about how each night he will go to the North Pole and report to Santa on their behavior.  Then, each morning, we will have to find him in a new hiding spot.  If they touch him, his magic disappears.  Let's see how long that lasts!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

I figured that since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I better post our pictures from Halloween (finally).  I am greatly enjoying my week off - spending a lot of time with the twins and getting a lot of sleep.  I have been at my new job for a month now and am starting to feel somewhat caught up and settled.  I have really liked reconnecting with the teachers I worked with in the past and getting to know many new teachers.  I have learned a huge amount about Excel and state/district testing and am very grateful for this new opportunity.

The twins have been going at full speed, not missing a beat!  Tayden has been sick off and on for over a month now.  He has had two ear infections, bronchiolitis, and a terrible cough.  Brooklyn started coughing over the weekend, and Tayden was running a fever, so we took them to the doctor on Monday.  Tayden had finished a round of antibiotics less than two weeks ago (in addition to the two shots he got), so Dr. Hunt was very surprised he had another ear infection.  She put him on a stronger antibiotic this time as well as another round of steroids.  He was working really hard to breathe and his oxygen saturation was only 94%, so she wanted to be aggressive.  We are also doing breathing treatments whenever he needs them.  Dr. Hunt does want to see him in two weeks to make sure that both ears are clear.  She did mention the idea of tubes, if he keeps getting ear infections.  Tim and I both had numerous childhood ear infections and it looks like Tayden is following in our footsteps.  His appetite had disappeared, but since he has been on the steroids, he is like a bottomless pit.  Tonight he asked me for a banana so I gave him half and Brooklyn half.  Brooklyn came in the kitchen to tell me something and then she came right back to tell me that she had lost her banana.  Tayden then came in with a mouth full and admitted that he had eaten his banana and Brooklyn's. 

They still love their school and always look forward to going.  I am impressed each day at all they do with the kids.  They bring home amazing creations and are always singing songs that they learned.  The teachers have told Tim more than once, that Brooklyn has a hard time following directions (as do many of the other students in the class).  We have been working really hard on this at home with both of them and I am hoping that it starts to click.  They definitely have been testing their boundaries and exploring any and everything, no matter how many times they are told not to.  I keep telling myself that this is all part of being 2, RIGHT??    

A few days before Halloween, we went to a nearby Pumpkin Patch.  The selection of pumpkins was very small, but they did have bounce houses and a hay maze.   Tayden loved finding his way out of the maze, while Brooklyn loved rolling around in the hay.  On Halloween, we took the twins Trick-or-Treating for the first time.  We had talked about it for weeks and even practiced with our plastic pumpkins many times.  They were so excited to put on their costumes that they had picked on their own.  Brooklyn was Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, and Tayden was Super Why - the book loving super hero.  They looked GREAT!  I am sad that I didn't get more pictures of them together, and the ones I did get were in front of our wall that is missing chunks of paint and has crayon scribbles all over it.  I am still determined to get a few more pictures.  Tayden had been bitten by a mosquito the day before Halloween, so his eye was completely swollen.  Tim joked that he could've gone as Rocky.  It looked terrible, but didn't keep him from having a great time.  We went to my mom's neighborhood and she walked around the block with us.  Brooklyn loved walking up to each door and would happily say, "Trick-or-treat" and then thank the person for the candy.  At one house, she even walked right on inside.  She had a blast!  Tayden was a little unsure of the whole thing.  After the first few houses he wanted to be held and for us to hold his pumpkin for him.  I think that all of the spooks scared him a bit.  After getting a ton of candy, we went back to SueSue's house and spent some time with Mimi, JoJo, and Payton.  It was a great day and the kids are still talking about how much fun they had.  They often ask if they can go trick-or-treating and we have to explain that we only do that on Halloween.  A few days after Halloween, Tim went in the office to take a phone call.  When he came back out, the twins were not in the living room.  He had left the gate to our bedroom open, and they went right in and got on our bed with their basket of candy.  When he found them, they had opened every sucker, licked them, and then stuck them to our bedspread.  He asked them what they were doing and they replied, "We just trying the suckers, Daddy."  They also sprayed one of Tim's colognes all over the bed - GAG!!!

The twins say the most hilarious things on a daily basis and I have a list going so that I can remember them to share on here.

Brooklyn - "I was a baby in your tummy and I was screaming GET ME OUT OF HERE!!"  I always tell her that she is my favorite girl in the whole world, so now she will say, "Mommy, I love you so much - you my favorite girl in the whole world." - most precious thing ever!!!  She is obsessed with Santa and going to see him.  The other night she came to our bed and laid down between us.  She then sat up and said, "I want to go to Pittsburgh to see Santa."  She always hears us cheering for the Steelers and somehow she has decided that Santa lives in Pittsburgh.  When one of the twins gets in trouble she will say, "Mommy you upset?  Be happy!"  At the doctor's office, she was walking up to each person in the waiting room asking them what their name was and telling them that she was sick.  When Dr. Hunt came in the room, she went and stood right in front of her and said, "I sick!"  Each day when I get home from work she will say, "You have fun at school Mommy?  You read books to your students?  You play with your friends?"  One night after bathtime, she and Tayden were both sitting on the coffee table wrapped in their towels.  She said, "Tay Tay, let's talk about Colorado.  You see all the fish?"  We have taken them to McDonald's to play a few times and now she will ask to go to Old McDonalds.  We went to the park this afternoon and she then took a super long nap.  When she woke up she told me that the park made her tired.  Tayden  has started pushing her (gently) and she will say, "No Tayden!  Do not push me!!"

Tayden - loves to say, "That's a good plan," anytime I suggest an activity.  He also says, "Oh man, I can't believe it," anytime something surprising happens.  We were shopping for pajamas the other night and everything we walked past was "Wonderful" or "Amazing."  He loves to get behind the couch and say, "I'm stuck, can you help me?" and then when I get him out, he says, "You saved me!"  When I get home in the afternoon and he sees me for the first time he says, "I found you mommy!  I looked everywhere and I found you!"  Today, when we woke up from his nap, he came in my room where I was doing some online shopping.  He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was shopping.  He said, "You shopping for us?  Let me help you get some things."  Many times each day he will go get spoons from the drawer and pass them out to each member of the family to use as their microphones while we sing to How Far.  I found some bean bags that I made in college and gave them to him.  He always wants to play with them, match them up (the fabric patterns), and count them.  He can spell Tayden, Brooklyn, SueSue, Dada, and red.  He was watching Super Why on tv and the words red, yellow, and blue were on the screen.  He said, "Look Mommy, it says red."  His memory, desire to work puzzles, and to put the alphabet blocks in order amazes me.  I truly do hate when he is sick, but it makes me feel so loved that he wants to snuggle in my lap and often falls asleep - my precious baby boy.   

Please keep my sweet Nana in your prayers.  She had a procedure for her heart over a week ago and had serious complications.  She lost a lot of blood and has had to have transfusions.  She got to come home today and needs to get a lot of rest to buildup her strength.  Nana- we love you and are praying that you feel better each day.  You are definitely a fighter!

Treat bags for the class - the twins found these and opened half of them before we caught them

Brooklyn fell at my grandparents' house a little over a month ago and scraped her forehead and nose.  It is healing well, but you can still see her booboo

Pumpkin Patch


Figuring his way out

Trying to dig her way out

Looking at the fish


Super Why

The dynamic duo and the terrible wall

Hanging with Cousin Payton

We knew Brooklyn would be too excited to remember to potty, so whe wore a diaper.  In all of the trick-or-treating excitement, it slowly made its way down her legs

Check out Rocky's swollen eye

poor baby

wearing Payton's helmet

our pumpkin cake

complete with green icing and candles - we sang "Happy Halloween to You!"