Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's Summer Time!

Summer! It's a time of transition for those of us that go from working full time to stay-at-home mom.  I won't lie...even with the adorable faces you see in the picture on the left, this has not been the easiest of transitions for me.  There have been days that they have worn me completely down before their dad has even made it home for lunch.  Days that I have wanted to scream "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT???" (Yes, FB friends, I'm referring to the day that all four of my 3 year olds pooped in our driveway!) Days that I've felt like a complete failure (Another FB story of all five kids throwing rocks on the highway in front of our house...three of which were naked from the waist down.)...just one of the many other times I've felt like screaming (Okay, I might have actually screamed a little during this incident.)

 There is a phrase that I hear almost everywhere I go with the kids: "I don't know how you do it." I'm not sure that people understand, most days, I'm not sure myself how I've survived the day ;).  But when I look back at these pictures of the adventures we've had so far this summer, I am reminded of the incredible support system we have in place.  We are beyond blessed with people that love us, and are excited for the special times that we get to spend together.

To take our mind off of the news of Ben's upcoming surgery, we took a trip to the Clinton County Fair.  They LOVED visiting the barns with all of the animals.  Petting the pigs, rabbits, and llamas. 
We didn't ride any rides, but we did some serious fair food damage...2 elephant ears, 2 funnel cakes and two large nachos!


 We're lucky to live within walking distance of the park, and we've even got some new equipment that we love to play on!

We've loved having a few play dates with friends, and are hoping for more before the summer is over.
One of our favorite summer activities has been Vacation Bible School!  We learned so much with our friends at Lebanon Christian Church.  Very grateful for the time that we spend with them.

The weather doesn't always cooperate, so we've had some lazy days!

 Some days, Mommy still has to go learn things for next year.  Then, we're lucky that Anne takes us to do things like the book swap at Blue Ridge!

And, Missy lets us stay at her house and play with Carson and Parker!

The Indianapolis zoo is one of our favorite places to visit.  We have been there many times with many different friends this summer! 

More fun at the Indianapolis zoo!

We've been to 2 swimming parties this summer.  We're grateful for our friends, Amy and Christian Perez and Sarah Spangler for including us in celebrating their own children's birthdays.  I learned my lesson at the first party (no life vests), and you can see that they are wearing life vests for the second.  Lilya isn't in the picture, but that's because at both parties, she was able to go off and have fun with the bigger kids.  Thanks to Christian, she was even able to take her first "jump" off of the diving board.  These couple of trips to the pool have definitely been one of the highlights of our summer. :)
Balloon animals, ice-cream, music and a firetruck.  Those were the highlights of the Mulberry festival this year.  Lilya got to ride in the parade again, and we collected lots of candy while we watched for her.
We kept the tradition alive on July 4th, and we watched the Lebanon parade with my dad and his family.  This year, we got to ride on the golf cart to our front row seats!  Again, plenty of candy was collected.  Later, we spent our evening with our friend, Missy, hanging out at the park, eating, and watching fireworks.

Memories have definitely been made, and the adjustment from Working Mom to SAHM doesn't seem all that bad now that I think about it. :) 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Have a Plan

Oh, to be three again.  Look at that sweet face...and all of those Ninja Turtle stickers that are decorating his shirt.  What you can't see are the princess stickers he picked out for his sisters (before he ever chose what he wanted for his self and his brothers).  They are in his lap, but they'll soon be stuck all over the van window next to his seat. 

At three, it doesn't phase you when your doctor makes the recommendation of surgery.  You don't pay any attention to the pictures that give a glimpse of what the inside of your skull looks like.  You don't listen to the doctor explain a three to four hour procedure that involves cutting through the membranes that protect your brain or the time that it will take you to recover from such a're too busy playing a matching game on your table and only show any interest in the doctor when she mentions the word "stickers".

It's been almost four months since Ben had the long seizure that eventually led us to an MRI, the discovery of Chiari Malformation, and a trip to Riley to see Dr. Smith (this past Tuesday). While I know that he hasn't had to worry about his diagnosis, I have noticed that on a daily basis, he tells me that he is sick. Our conversations are short, and usually sound like this:
Ben:  Mommy, I sick.
Me:  What hurts baby.
Ben: My back hurts. or My belly hurts.
Me:  I'm so sorry baby (followed by lots of cuddles).
We've only had a hand full of times that he has actually gotten sick, but knowing that, at three, he doesn't go a day feeling completely normal, breaks my heart.
But this isn't what I signed up know, when we decided to have kids.  I'm not supposed to have to make decisions in which I basically say, "Sure, cut my child's skull open and work on his brain a little."  I'm not cut out to make choices like this.  But we did it.  And, until it is over and I hold my baby in my arms and see that all is okay, I'll continue to wonder if I'm cut out for this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Meet Our 3 Year Olds (and their big sis, too)!

I still can't believe that my babies are 3. This year, we celebrated Toy Story style with many family and friends that gave up part of their Mother's Day to share our special day. 

Three seems so grown up...I know, it seems silly (unless you're a mom). 

 We didn't have quite the adventures as we did the year airplane rides or national t.v. appearances, but we did have some noteworthy firsts:
Look, NO STROLLER at the the big zoo!  We don't draw near the attention, so we're able to just enjoy the animals.  

Thanks to our friends, The Westons, we had our first "swim lessons".

We also experienced our first trip to the beach.  We didn't make it to the ocean...that will have to be a first for another year.  We loved Silver Beach in Michigan, though, and we're so glad we got to share this first with our friends!    
 These are just some of the big events that we experienced as a squad. :)  Now, check us out individually:
Meet Harrison!  He is still our very rambunctious one, but he has a quiet side, and you will often find him off playing alone rather than with his siblings (we call it quad denial).  His pain tolerance still amazes me...he didn't cry at all when he got his shots last week.  He's the second biggest of the bunch, weighing in at just 28 lbs.  He has become a very good talker.  He tells me likes (Scooby Doo, horses, chicken nuggets, and going to the zoo.  He would much rather eat candy than anything else (especially starbursts), but then again, what kid wouldn't.
Meet Jaylyn!  She's still our little peanut weighing only 23 lbs.  She is a tough little cookie, and even being small, she holds her took the doctor and two nurses to hold her down to give her a shot last week. ;) Like her brothers, she has become quite the talker.  She loves her blanket (that was really one of the boys's), sucking her fingers (not sure how we're going to break that habit), cheeseburgers from McDonalds, and her very favorite thing is gum!  She is quiet and shy when around new people, but she warms up and makes friends fast.
Meet Ben!  If you've read my last post, you know that Ben gave us a pretty big scare with a very long seizure that resulted in a hospital stay, an MRI, and a diagnosis of Chiari.  We are going to see a neurosurgeon next month to determine if any treatment is necessary.  He hasn't had any episodes since, and we are grateful.  Just looking at him, you'd never know that there is anything wrong.  He is our biggest, weighing 32 lbs.  He is a lover of life.  His belly laugh is and always has been infectious. He loves to sing "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen. He is so smart... he can "read" No David (we have to read it every night at bedtime) word for word. When he says things like, "It's okay, buddy." to his brothers, it melts my heart.
 Meet Oscar!  He's still our short and stalky guy.  Watching him walk with his little chest puffed out brings a smile to everyone's face.  He still steals the hearts of all of the ladies by batting his pretty eyes...he's quite the little flirt.  He loves chicken nuggets too, but like the others would prefer to have candy instedead.  I love the animation in his voice when he tries to tell me stories about his brothers and sisters, and he's very quick to jump into a fight between the others (he doesn't play favorites, just usually hits whoever is closest).  He's the real reason we had a Toy Story party this year.  He has Woody dolls of all sizes, and we can help but laugh when we hear him ask, "Where's my big/tiny Woody".
We can't leave out big sister!  Lilya shocked us all when we decided at the last minute to start her early in kindergarten.  The youngest in her class, she still did amazing...she finished the strongest reader in her class!  I couldn't be more proud of the year she had at school.  She also found a new love this year...the show Full House.  It's kind of sad to see her outgrowing the cartoon show phase, but I'm excited to see what this coming year has in store for her. 

As always, I'm thanking God for the blessings of these beautiful babies.  It is an incredible journey that I often feel unworthy of leading.

Monday, April 21, 2014

When the going gets tough...

Well, I know it's been forever since I've blogged...I keep saying I'm going to get better, but let's face it, I'm just spontaneous like this. :)  I actually like to document the BIG events, and recently we had one that is blog worthy.  So, here's the story...m

We started out Spring Break this year with head colds and slight fevers, but Uncle R.K., Emma and Ryan were here visiting from Oregon, so we tried not to let it get us down.  Saturday, I loaded up all of the kids and we met the whole Gascho clan at Treece's for lunch.  They were all so good, laughing and playing with the other kids.  I left lunch with plans of taking the kids to get groceries at Walmart, home to put them to bed, and headed back out for a night where I could actually visit without chasing 5 kids...My night would actually not go that way at all.
I have grocery shopped many times with all 5 kids by myself...pushing one of the big carts with 3 seats while pulling another.  As they've gotten bigger, it doesn't leave much room for groceries. :)  This particular trip, Ben was riding in the front of the cart that I was pulling, and I didn't think think much about him laying his head down on the handle.  And then the nightmare began...I was approached by a man that said, "Excuse me, Miss.  He is getting sick."  As I lifted Ben's head, I could tell that something wasn't right.  His eyes were open, but he was not in the same place that we were.  It almost seemed as if her was choking.
I am lucky that so many wonderful people immediately stepped in and took over his care.  An ambulance was called, and as he lay on the floor, I saw him begin to go into convulsions.  My heart began to ache...I couldn't figure out what was happening or why.  I could not possibly be losing another child...
Leaving my other 4 kids at Walmart, listening to the EMTs yell his name in the back of the ambulance, watching the multiple attempts to start an iv, watching the doctors' and nurses' concerned faces as, what seemed to be a seizure, continued even after multiple attempts to control it with medicine, watching them poke and prod and test to try to figure out what was happening to his little body, waiting, and waiting, and waiting and WAITING for hours for him to wake up so that I could hear him laugh that infectious laugh again...These are the things that haunt me at night, lately.
I pray that the root cause of this scary day was the metapneumovirus that they discovered during their tests.  In a couple days, we will go for an MRI, and hopfully we will be able to get some closure with comfort of not having to go through this again.  I can't even begin to explain how grateful we've been for all of the thoughts, prayers, messages, etc.  We are a very blessed family.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's What I Love About Sundays

I have always been a believer in God.  In fact, without my faith, I'm not sure that I would have made it through some of the things that I have faced in my life.  But, it wasn't until this past year that I openly confessed my belief in Jesus as my savior, and on March 3rd I was baptized at Lebanon Christian Church. 
Sundays have become one of my favorite days of the week since I started going to church in Lebanon.  Not only do I get the chance to worship, but it has led to a tradition that I often dreamed of having as a child.  Almost every Sunday after church, we head over to my dad's for lunch.  The kids are able to play with my younger sisters and brother, and I am able to spend that time with that part of my family that I had been missing out on.
I am so grateful for a church that has welcomed us with open arms.  They never seem overwhelmed when I bring all 4 two year olds into the nursery (Today was there first day in the 2's room, by the way)...they always just smile and start to love on them right away.  Even more, I am thankful for the family that I get to spend these special Sundays with.  These are the days I want my children to cherish as much as I do.
This picture of Lilya and John reminds me of my Uncle Kevin and I.  We didn't have much more of an age difference, and I looked up to him so much (still do).  I know that these two are going to be such great friends through their lives...she already loves him so much!

Had to include this picture.  I love these girls so much.  They are such good aunts to my kiddos when we come over on Sundays.  I remember how bad I wanted a baby when I found out that my dad and Margaret were expecting twins.  I also remember how that feeling faded the first time I kept all three of these girls ;).  I am so glad that He is in control, and now 10 years later, we are surrounded by beautiful! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fun on the Farm

One of the biggest challenges I have experienced as the mother of 5, is how to give my kiddos the experiences that they need and deserve.  This is a challeng for a couple of different reasons.  The first, and probably the least of the two, is the energy it takes to get 5 ready, pack supplies, load into the car, load stroller or wagon, unload, have fun, load back up, unload again when we get home.  Just getting them in and out of the van is quite a chore.  But, the biggest reason for this challenge is the cost.  If you have gone to the movies, the zoo, any sporting event, etc. lately, you know what I'm talking about.  We are not quite at a movie viewing age yet, but I'm already dreading it.  With 5 kids and 2 adults, a trip to the movies will surely cost us over $100.  I'm sure that we will be seeing a lot of the free matines that are offered. ;)
With all of that in mind, I'm thankful for days like today when we can get out of the house and have fun for under $20.  We spent a little while this morning at High Hopes Farm.  It was a beautiful day, and although I had to pull our 100 lb wagon up the drive, it was wide open enough that they could get out and run and play.  They were able to feed some animals (they didn't like that the goats were trying to eat their clothes.), take a wagon ride, play, check out what the garden looked like, and just enjoy the outdoors on a beautiful day.  I'm so thankful to know the Wood family, and am glad that they opened up their farm for this event today.
The wagon migh look like a cool way to travel, and if I got to ride in one of the cars, I might think so too.  Problem is, it's
HEAVY!  Pulling it in the grass is not fun either.  Glad they could get out and run!

Harrison loved the horse, but still a little unsure about petting.

The boys are off to visit with the horse.

Our little horse whisperer.

Xavier and Lilya checking out the donkey.

They loved watching the farm animals.  The baby goats, Grant and Abraham Lincoln, were a hit!

Love that Anne could bring her niece and nephew too!  This is the best that I could get with all 7 kiddos checking out the goats.

Oscar loved watching the horse eat!

I think we're going to have to buy one of these for our swingset.

Xavier and Lilya playing on the teeter totter

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guess Who's 2?!?

Well, I guess the fact that it's been a whole year since I posted last, has it's don't have to look back far to compare how they've changed in the last year. ;)

It is hard to believe that our little miracles turned 2 today!  We celebrated on Sunday (Mother's Day) with a Sesame Street themed party.  They of course got more gifts than what we have roomed for, and had so much fun playing with family and friends. 

This has been a year full of many more firsts.  Here's a brief run down of some of the major ones that I can recall off of the top of my head :

                        * First steps (for everyone: the boys were first, and Jaylyn followed a couple months 
                        *First question (Usually sounds something like this, "Mommy, where are you?")
                        *First plane ride, hotel stay, National t.v. show appearance (Kathie Lee and Hoda
                        *First surgery (Harrison had a needle removed from his foot)
                        *First double ear infections (Benjamin and Harrison)= first round of antibiotics for all
                        *First experience with Mommy working another full time job

I'm sure there were so many other things that have happened over the last year...I guess that should be motivation for me to post more often.  For now, here are a few pictures to catch you up.


Introducing the newly 2 year old, Oscar James.  A few of his favorite things:  Playing ring-around-the rosies with his brother, Ben, being outside, sleeping with his blanket, eating Deedee's cat food (yep, I said it...we have to hide the cat food), singing, dancing, and playing the harmonica.  He is a Daddy's boy, and cries every morning when Tony leaves for work.


Next up, Benjamin Ryne (a.k.a. Big Ben).  He might be the biggest, but he is the most gentle of our crew.  This is a rare shot of him without his pup pup and his pappie (pacifier) which he asks for often.  I have realized lately that he is the mediator of our children.  Just a few days ago, Harrison made Jaylyn cry, and I heard Ben say, "Harrison, hug, Jay!"  Best part was that Harrison actually listened and knelt down and hugged Jaylyn.  He is also the best talker of the bunch, and I love that he calls everyone by their name when talking to them...I especially love when he says, "Love you, Mommy!"  He loves to run around the house, play ring-around-the-rosies with Oscar, and wrestle with his brothers and sisters.  He also loves to sing and dance like Oscar.  We are hoping that he will outgrow the little bit of asthma that he has, so that he can enjoy all of these activities to the fullest!

And, Jaylyn Rae.  You will rarely see this little peanut without a blankie and her fingers in her mouth.  Although she is still wearing 12 month clothes on her second birthday, this little firecracker can hold her own.  Her favorite word is "nope", and in case you don't quite get it, she sometimes will add a little smack to the face to go along with it.  She loves snacks...just like her sister, and she keeps up with the boys as they run laps around our house.  She is the best eater of the four, and makes it a wonder that she is so much tinier than they are.

Last, but in no way, least, I give you Harrison Kerry.  Definitely the most energetic of the bunch, he has that smile that just screams, "I'm up to something!"  A needle in the bottom of his foot, a bout with the flu, a double ear infection...nothing could slow this kid down.  He is constantly on the go.  Just like the others, he loves to sing and dance, and would much rather be outside than inside no matter what the weather.  While he has such an onry side, he is also very willing to share with his brothers and sisters, and can be very loving too.   Our favorite game to play when we put them in bed at night is the "I LOVE YOU" game.  He screams, "LOVE YOU" and we answer the same over and over even after we have left the room. :)

I shouldn't leave out this incredibly grown up little one.  I cannont believe that Lilya Catharine will be 5 in less than 4 months.  How is that possible?  She has her moments where she loves to tease and torment her little brothers and sister, but she is also very quick to comfort, soothe and love on them.  It is so fun to watch their sibling relationships blossom. 

 Just a few pictures from Sunday's Birthday Party:
Playing on the table after everyone left.
Present time...yes, there is a Santa bag ;)  (it did kind of look like Christmas at our house!)
Time to sing Happy Birthday! 

I'm so thankful for all of the blessings in my life!