"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity,
it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
~ Agatha Christie

Alex, Cole and Braden - At 2 years, 2 months

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

O, Christmas Tree....

Alex, Braden and Cole....cold and (kinda) happy looking for a Tree!

Yep, we'll now start from the beginning.  Of the Christmas Season.

Let's get a tree!

We started cutting ours down a few years ago at this cute little place outside of Warsaw called Birdhaven Tree Farm.  It's the whole experience!  Hot chocolate, chili, awesome chicken soup and that Norman Rockwell feeling.  Santa's there and you can borrow one of their sleds to slide down one of the massive hills they have there, careening into the patrons huddled around the fire pit.  It's fantastic!  There's even a "house" dog that might just follow you around to pick out a tree to grace your living room.  I can't remember her name, but she's a beautiful and spunky black lab that decided to join Mike and I last year when we scuttled in on a weekday to peruse the grounds.  I guess it must have been boring and all, what with no one else around that day!

Well, this day it was crowded - like a normal weekend day - with people and dogs (we brought Cody) and rain.  Blech.

It was impossibly cold for it to be raining, it must have been hovering around that magical freezing point, so it was cold and wet - the kind of damp that sneaks into your bones and sets up camp, creating the need to shiver it away on a constant basis.  There were sniffles all around from the temperature and even our camera took misty pictures, as if it were miserable too. 

It also made the snow super heavy and slushy, the harder to pull a garden cart with three 30 pound babies stuffed into snowsuits, corralled inside, wanting to get out. Mike had a heck of a time getting up the hills!  Glad I am a girl!  Hee hee.

Mike's parents also came with us - it was our intent to lure them into the magical tree town and get them so hooked that they could think of nothing else but coming again with us next year.  We love to huddle everyone in on great traditions in our lives, if you haven't noticed!  

The tree hunt was fast, since it was cold, and our tree of choice, a Concolor Fir, is so darn sparse in these parts.  We only had a few to choose from, all too ridiculously large to contemplate for our modestly ceilinged living room.  But we took one anyway, preparing to stuff it and us in the room for the next few months.  Hey, Christmas is about sacrifice, right?! 

We found a pretty blue-green hued number and ordered Mike to hack away while we kept the babies distracted from jumping ship...er, um,...cart.  Dad and Mike got it down lickety-split and we head back down to grab some goodies.  It was a treat to watch him slide the cart back down that slushy hill, let me tell you... ;)

It was still fun, as always, though we did miss Ruger a ton - we had decided last year to bring both of the boys with us and the kids this Christmas, so we were a bit misty eyed and nostalgic, wishing he were along for the frosty trip, knowing he would have had an absolute ball.  Oh, well. I guess you can't have everything. 

Here are some of the misty, frosty, wet and slushy pics we got from the great Christmas Tree Trip, 2008:

Getting Ready to leave the warmth of the truck...

Papa and his Triplets

Trees as far as the eye can see, if you could open them up in the drizzle...

Moooooooommmmmm!  I'm cold.

Making short work of the cutting down of the behemoth...

What a shame and a beauty at the same time

Yep.  That would be Cody peeing on the one right next door.  So proud.

Grandma and her babies

Inside, ready to EAT!

Even Cody was soaked

Hay Stack Mania

When we head inside - yay!  Only a little warmer but a LOT drier and we got to sit on hay stacks!  Woo hoo!  And they had food, so it was great.  We chowed down on many good things, but all the kids wanted were the Cheetos of the Lady Next to Us.  Again, so proud.

Stealing yet another one from the absolute stranger...a kind one, but still a total stranger.  They just walked up to her and stood there, not talking, just expecting!  Kinda funny, but soooo rude! (My kids) lol

"Got any more in the bag, lady?"  -Princess Alex

When they are wet and cold and ready for a nap, and you ask them for a picture in Santa's Chair - what kid wouldn't want THAT?  All you have left is to bribe them with a cracker.

The finished product?  Only decorated on the top 2/3rds and in a total rush?  Stuffed in like a calzone filling into our living room, wrapped by the couch and the wall?  Here it is, and beautifully natural, though it is predictably, lovingly and rather goofily large.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Handsome Boys

Watch out all you single ladies out there under 2... My boys are already throwing out the charm! You will be powerless to stay away...  

They get their goofiness from both of us, I'm afraid...a double whopping dose of dorkiness.  But, I have to say, it works for them!

Cole.... "hellooooo ladies!" 

Braden.... "Oh, yeah, I'm a cutie."

My boys!

I am sure you all know the reason I have not been blogging, I can't do triplets and Christmas and blogging at the same time - WAY too much for my little brain to handle...but now that the Christmas season is over, I can actually write about it...and you'll have to pretend like it's still Christmas...and like it.  


Monday, December 22, 2008

Virtual Mail!

I know virtual mail is really e-mail, but it sounded cooler. 

Since our Christmas Cards went out late, as usual - and since I grossly under-ordered this year, many people will be getting their cards after Christmas. Not exactly my intent... ;)

So, I thought, "Why not post it up?"  It's fast, fun and best of all....free. Have you SEEN the cost of stamps these days?  *News Flash* to the ol' Post Office...you might want to try lowering your prices to make people come back.  Hmm.  When we can't afford to send out cards, you know the economy is in trouble!

Even though this was our first draft and a few things changed, and because Snapfish s*cks, I could not get a screen shot of the actual order.  Oh, well.  Enjoy the first draft!


So, Virtual Family, here's our Christmas Greeting to you now, enjoy the print after the holiday.  Kisses!

With Love from the Ertel Five,


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Dada!

I just wanted to send out a BIG Happy Birthday to the love of my life, my partner, my best friend.  

Happy Birthday Dada.  You are the amazing father of my children, our auto mechanic, my therapist, our super delicious pancake creator, and the cleanest person I know.  I love that about you.  ;)

Your eyes make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Your dimples have me giggling like a little girl.  The kids absolutely adore you and you are an incredible father to them.  

You are courageous, sooooooo intelligent it scares me and possess a contagious love for life.  Put that all in a package with your sensitive nature and your super sarcastic sense of humor and I am hooked.  

You are a grown up big kid, an animal lover supreme and make me feel so lucky that you are in my life every.single.day.  

Happy Birthday, Baby, and we love you so much!  

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Little Babushkas


Recently, after giving my mother's awesome camera back and starting once again to grab the point and shoot we have, I found a bunch of pictures from about a month ago that I had forgotten all about!  Nothing major, just a little bit of happiness here and there - which is always a good thing.  ;)

So, this is one of the groups - we were playing with scarves one day - I am a big fan of simple, old-fashioned toys.  I have a bunch of old scarves that I stuffed into a plastic container with a big lid that screws on and they love to play with it!  If they can't get the top off, they come to one of us and say "OH-pan!" (Open) in their cutest, squeakiest, attention-getting voice.  Sometimes they get it backwards and say "Cohwse?" (Got a guess?  Close!) and it's so gosh darn adorable.  

This day, we were throwing them in the air amid squeals of delight, wrapping them around, Audrey Hepburn style, and playing tug-of-war.  I swear we played with these for about a half hour!  But the best is them letting me make a babushka for them.  Cole even stayed put and turned his head side-to-side with a little smirk on his handsome face once it was wrapped around, proving he is, without a doubt, Polish.  They all loved this activity and it's been a favorite ever since.  I've got such good kids.  

Some days.  :)

I guess this was one of them!










Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cutest. Picture. Ever.

Alex smooching her brother, Cole.

Alex started the kissing craze, now Braden is a kissy face too!  Cole is the proud/shy/tough one of the group, sparingly doling out the puckers.  I love it!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fun Fortunes

So, we were sitting and eating Chinese the other night - well, Mike and I were, the babes were eating their usual avocado, cheese, hummus and pasta, etc... stuff they adore, but they kept pointing and grunting at us and being generally annoying.  Have you ever seen Finding Nemo?  Well, if you have, you know the famously atrocious seagulls..."Mine!  Mine!  Mine!" - So true and so very annoying.  That is the phase we have entered - better known as "Finding Nemo Seagull".  Except their sound is more like a "Hmm?!  Hmm?!  Hmm?!"  Cute, but I must say, it gets old very fast.  I feel like copying the Pelican that yells at them with a loud "Willlllll youuuuu SHUUUUUUT UPPPPP?!" Of course, I don't...but I feel like it sometimes - especially when I am on the phone.  ;)

So, as we're enjoying chicken of the Sweet and Sour and General Tso's variety, we are being serenaded by the Chorus Of A Thousand "Hmms?!"  They wanted the Chinese.  

We looked at each other, knowing the General Tso's was not as near as hot as it should be and decided to broaden their horizons.  Though I cringed at the toss up between their current meal and the MSG loaded fare we were stuffing into our own faces.  

We cut some up and handed it over - and they LOVED it.  Go figure!  I should have known - there is not much they don't like.  Braden was the only one that grimaced after tasting the Tso Sauce.  So, he got the rest of the Sweet and Sour.  Alex would eat a piece and before she was finished chewing, she would crane her neck forward toward Mike with her mouth wide open, looking like a baby bird, waiting for more.  It was hilarious!  

So, chalk one more up on the Baby Like list.  General Tso's Chicken.  Too funny!

After dinner we broke out the Fortune Cookies and I wanted them to have a taste of this "cookie" too.  They love cookies.  What kid/grown up doesn't?  ;)

I took one from the pile specifically for giving to them.  I unwrapped and broke it open and...a funny thing happened.  Three fortunes came out.  How weird is that?!  I am of the camp that everything happens for a reason - made only stronger after our whirlwind push into parenting for many long-winded reasons. 

Needless to say, I was tingling after seeing these three fortunes appear!  

I pulled the first one up for Cole:
"Life to you is a dashing and bold adventure."   Neat.  That's him!

The second was for Alex (this was the way they were sitting next to each other):
"You will be unusually successful in business."   Neat...Go Alex!

And the last for Braden:
"You will have good luck and overcome many hardships."  Spooky.

Then Mike opened his normally stuffed cookie and read his:
"There is a true and sincere friendship between you both."  Cute, and very true.

At this time I was feeling the glow of God himself, sending us a message through China King.  

So, I tempted fate and opened mine...

And lost all faith in the system. ;)

I opened mine and it was another abundantly fertile cookie full 'o fortunes.  This time it was two. And they were exact opposites.  
"You have a quiet and unobtrusive nature."
"You are sociable and entertaining."

In the same cookie.  Oops!  Bummer - magical feeling gone.  

Oh, Randomness you spite me!  ;)  I guess I should never believe what I read.  Maybe that was the reason I got the last one?  Huh.  *Me still trying to read a pattern in all of this*

Bye for now!


Friday, December 5, 2008

Blogging or Sleeping? Hmmm....

I really stink at blogging. :)

I go for a few weeks, writing every few days and I can keep up. And then December happens. Christmas prep, Mike's birthday prep, ortho appointments, pediatrician appts, ophthamology appts, sickness every few days, up all night giving nebulizer treatments and I can officially say that I feel like crap. So, it's blogging that suffers. I'm either not sleeping and blogging or not blogging and sleeping! It's a toss up most days as to what I prefer, since sleeping and writing rank up there in the top 5 for me, but lately my body has been superceding my need to write.

So, I just wanted to let you know that we are still here and still creating those blogging moments, but they just haven't made it here yet. I guess I should get in the habit of writing shorter posts more frequently...yeah! That's what I shall do, at least for this month. And maybe in boring January you will get sick of my twice a day posts... ;)

So, here is proof that we are not all just bon bons and bubble baths!

Official "Outtakes" from Christmas Pictures - Take 3

Though Outtakes implies that we actually have something to go with that was better than the outtakes, right? We don't really - and that's the bummer! Take Number 4 may never come. No more time left! These are just pictures to let you know what I am up against...the behind the scenes chaos that is our every day life. People ask if they cooperate for us all at the same time for naps, food, play, etc... Well, here's the painful answer:



Cole has turned into Jello Man.



Perfect smile from B, no one else in sight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vomit Wars

Ok, so fair warning...do not read this post if you are:

a woman who has not yet had kids

a man who thinks he might want to have kids someday

a man who doesn't want kids ever (you wouldn't be here anyway, most likely - who am I kidding?!)

a man who has kids and says stuff like "Oh! Wow! The baby has a poopy diaper!" Loud enough for us to hear so that we come and save you...even though you would never ask us to come change it for fear of never living the whole "balance of work" thing down

a woman who is thinking of having kids soon (this may scare you away, and I definitely don't want to be responsible for THAT!) ;)

In other words, unless you are currently a mother, you have never been through this and I warn that you may find this post distasteful.

'Nuff said. Anyway, moving on...

The Vomit Wars have begun.

We have all been sick since Braden came home from the hospital...and thankfully, I have had the easiest time of it all. In fact, at this very moment, Mike is currently in the bathroom praying to that all-powerful porcelain god. I know, TMI, even for you iron-stomached mommas out there. ;) There's something about hearing someone vomiting, especially someone close to you, that pulls out all the empathy you are capable of.

I have been playing it as a competition of sorts, even posting it up on the white board for all to see, letting them each get an edge on the others, egging them on to not get beat in the game! I am sooo kidding of course, but I am keeping tally for myself so that I can keep track of who puked when and what, how many diapers were used in the filming of this sickness, and any medications that might be causing the whole mess.

As of Friday:
Vomit War Tally
Alex - 1
Braden - 5

It's dang hard to keep up on who needs more fluid, who might be allergic to this antibiotic and who might need some serious Pedialyte and a call to the doctor. At one point Cole drank his entire sippy cup full of cool water. I was psyched! Sitting in his highchair, he ate nothing, only drank. I'll take it. About 10 minutes later, all of that water was back out in his tray. Back to Square One. Now, add Mike to the white board and I just lost my parenting partner! I really don't know how people do this alone. I am fighting sleep because I know that as soon as my head hits the pillow, a cry will ring out in the night. So, I blog.

After B came home with remnants of his bronchiolitis in tow, the nice doctors told us to expect a little vomiting. You see, a little known fact is that kids can't purge the excess mucus any other way, since they can't blow their noses yet, it all ends up in their stomach and inevitably on the highchair tray, the carpet, the couch or in their sister's hair. Who knew?

So, we expected it. The other two were sick while B was away - we almost thought Cole would join him, but he skated through. So, vomiting expected there as well. And it happened. And happened some more. Thank God for those tall sides on the highchair trays! It contained inches of pukey liquid for less work in the end for me! Yahoo! It's still puke. I shouldn't be that excited. It still has to get from Point A to Point B. Age old dilemma - In the sink or the garbage? I change it up to make me feel like I am sometimes doing the right thing. Good times.

Already the endless laundry. Enter diarrhea. Never a welcome guest. And his explosive cousin, let's call him "Squirt", makes for a very messy bedfellow. Disgusted yet? I am. I soooo am. Blankets and sheets and pjs...just covered. Up to a load every few hours now.

On Sunday: (woke up at 10:30am, down for nap at 3:00, up at 7:00, down at 9:30) only awake 7 hours, and to get these kind of numbers!!!!

Vomit and Diarrhea War Tally
Alex - 0 vomit
Alex - 4 poop (can you still call it that?)
Braden - 2 vomit
Braden - 6 poop
Cole - 3 vomit
Cole - 4 poop

All three took a trip to the doc last Friday. The boys are recovering and had a mild ear infection, not bad, not even enough to be put on antibiotics. But, Alex has a severe double infection, so she was prescribed one. And since the boys still sounded junky, their noses were so full, their wheezes still there, and a hint of an infection, they were awarded one too. We left the office with $100 in prescriptions to pick up. Again. Ugh. How are we supposed to afford this winter?

We started the rounds, and just our luck, by Sunday afternoon, Squirt arrived with a vengeance. Every hour we were changing an exploded diaper - ok, so it was just me - that looked like wet sand. Can't feel good on an irritated bum. And it kept getting worse! Every change required a PJ change (we learned quickly not to put them in anything that needed to go over their heads!). The kids were starting to get rashes and were losing fluid like crazy. They weren't really eating before, now they stopped altogether. We put them to bed that night with a larger size diaper and also a cloth one fitted inside it. I had hoped it would absorb at least some of the mess overnight. Changing sheets in the middle of the night is near impossible if you want the other two to stay sleeping. Thankfully, we didn't have to go there. Braden was the only one who woke up early the next day with an urgent mess, but most of it was contained. Phew! I had nightmares of poop on the walls, floor and ceiling. His sheets were dirty though, so he slept in my arms in the rocking chair for the following three hours until the other two woke up needing to be cleaned. I have to admit it was kind of nice cuddling with my babe.

At some point throughout the day I started working on this brilliant yet extremely simple math equation:

Empty stomach + Harsh Antibiotic = Severe Diarrhea

Huh. I'm a genius. (DUH! Why didn't this thought come any sooner?!) The diarrhea and vomiting could be mimicking a stomach bug, but neither Mike or I were sick with that kind of bug too, only a sinus infection.

I called the doc and he wanted to test them without the antibiotic. We're still testing, 2 days in. So far, the tally has decreased dramatically, only a few, less explosive diapers each and I am happy to report, no more vomiting. Yay! It seems as though it was the antibiotic causing the problems. But....now Mike is sick with a stomach virus. Huh. Now, I'm confused! And they are still not really eating anything but bread. I'm watching for their tear production as it has definitely decreased..scary stuff, watching for dehydration in three sick kids.

Alex is not like herself at all, walking around like a whiny zombie. All she wants is a lap to sit in or a pillow to crash on. If neither is available, the floor steps in to substitute. It's so sad. I hate seeing them this way, and for so long! So, we're not out of the woods, yet, folks.

Anyway, they are all sick and I am typing away, hoping to keep them all sleeping, including Mike! And the next post will be back to the non-stereotypical allowance of readership. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hard at Work

Though it would break my heart to see it, I wanted to include this addition to the last post. I thought it was funny because Mike sent this to his co-workers to assure them that he had Braden working hard on his Daddy's programming to make up for the time Mike lost. Hee hee.

He told them that B-Man was better than his Daddy, even with one hand. ;)

He is just like his Dad. (He's actually watching his Sesame Street video, but shhhhh....don't tell anyone!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In the Hospital...

Well, I am bummed to say that I started writing this from the hospital. Here's how my entry began:

Mr. Braden has landed here after a whirlwind cold that kick-started his asthmaticky, Reactive Airway Disease-ish, symptoms. I say them both that way because all of the doctors thus far have hesitated to diagnose him with a condition because he is too young for them to be sure...even though they are about 99.9% sure already. Now, he has bronchiolitis and needs oxygen and steroids to get through it all because of the asthma. Welcome winter! Blech. We arrived at the ER doorstep on Sunday night, Monday morning. Thankfully, we were the only occupants at 4am and were ushered in immediately. He was having such a hard time breathing, we could only wonder what was going to happen next. Our doctor told us to go quickly, which scared me even more. Yet, B was still smiling and talking to us from the car seat all the way there. His little chest was heaving with the effort, it was killing us to watch him suck air in. Even the ER docs all could not believe what good spirits he was in for his state. He was borderline hypoxic...which for us non-medical types..is bad. Very bad. We were in for a long night of breathing treatments and oxygen, wondering if it would have any effect. It was a scary night/morning/day. "Just the rest of the day" turned into "tomorrow morning" which turned into a "few more days".

If this is all news to you, B-Man has loads of issues...but I must say, all of which he is handling beautifully. What issues, you ask? I can update you now, if you'd like! Grab a seat and some coffee and let's chat. Though it will make this post a little long, I am afraid, we'll make it through together!

Of the three, Braden is the most physically sensitive one...or delicate even! Haha, that makes me laugh, because to look at him, there is nothing delicate about Braden Bug! No one believes he is a triplet - he's way too big! But....the poor guy, he has had to take the brunt of problems most triplets face and even though they are mild, they are compounded by the fact that he is soooo big for his "age" and ex-preemie status, and that he is just such a gosh-darn laid-back, good natured fella. He's not lazy, just mellow and calm. Think Jimmy Buffet. So, this "whatever, man" attitude is awesome in helping him to deal with his myriad of issues, but it doesn't help motivate him to get to the next developmental level, or through a sickness until he really wants to get there. He is working to get better now and then walking is the next big milestone for him. But he has something working against him there too.

To go back even further, we have a Physical Therapist and an Occupational Therapist working with Braden 3 times a week. They are trying to encourage better range of motion, appropriate feeding skills (no problem there!), stretching and walking, climbing, transitions (like stairs and couches) and movement in general. Gross, and then fine motor skills, to be more technical.

The other two started walking some time ago and have since been discharged. They are doing great! Life seems to come easy for them and they also have the added "benefit" of being more aggressive and motivated to move. Braden, on the other hand is a pretty mellow guy. We love that about him! As humble as a toddler can be and super smart. He is the sign language king! You can see him actually thinking about it and processing it before he comes out with something.
If I can take a moment to brag here (as if I had anything to do with these little presents God has handed us)...all three are talking up a storm, even scoring higher than their gestational age - which is awesome! No delays there! They should be talking at a 16 month old level (correcting for the two months they were born early), but they are most likely already at a 20 month level. Pretty cool. They are all sharp as a tack. Even though I am so proud to say that, it scares me a little... a tiny gang of smart, cute, organizing, connected and conniving little people. I should be afraid!

Getting back to Braden, he has always been a little more behind than his brother and sister, even more so than the corrected age bracket they score on. His eyes were crossed last year, as most babies' are, but they weren't resolving, so he had to have surgery to correct it almost a year ago. They turned out great, but recently they are turning in again. That, in itself, may be the cause of his motor delays, since vision impacts every single thing a person comes into contact with. And when you are just learning to come into contact and grasp things, you need to see it first and foremost.

That was his first hurdle.

Then, the boys got eczema terribly last fall. Their faces and bodies and heads were just covered with it and they would scratch and scratch until they bled. We had to keep them swaddled at night so they wouldn't gouge themselves. Taking them to an allergist, they were diagnosed with allergies of the feline and canine variety. At that time we had 2 canines and 2 felines, and they weren't going anywhere, so we had to prepare precautions to reduce the amount of allergens getting to them if we ever wanted them to have access to their hands ever again. ;)

The boys are also allergic to dust mites, and if you have ever been in our house, dust is probably the most prolific possession we own. So, we swapped out the 20 year old shag carpet in their nursery for a faux-hardwood look. Well, we were going for the hardwood look, not the faux part. Anyway, it's been a challenge to keep the dust and mites and pets away from the kids.

Braden is such a lover, and he seeks the cats and dogs out, draping himself over their backs and exclaiming, "Awwwwwww...". It's probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. He just about covers the whole cat with his body, the trapped feline letting out the thinnest of mewls in protest, but not moving an inch. It's impossible to stop, and even more impossible not to love seeing, as an animal lover and now a mom of one too.

B is also allergic to egg-whites, which are in far more things than I ever knew. When I heard, I thought, "Oh, bummer - I was hoping to start giving them scrambled eggs, but I guess that's out." Little did I know (or just think about it) that eggs are in pasta, custards, ice cream, any baked good, egg white washes on pretzels and some breads, croissants, meringue, SNICKERS!, frosting, mayonnaise, some dressings, meatloaf, hamburgers, chicken fingers, ricotta cheese fillings in italian dishes, brownies, french toast, pancakes, cheesecake, etc...So many things! His first birthday cake caused an all-nighter reaction. So, we know he is sensitive enough to watch what he eats.

He has not started walking yet because his right foot and leg are so tight and weak they cause him to be unstable. He cannot really put any weight on his foot, or straighten his leg out fully because it hurts him to do so. He also points his toes and then curls them down. This makes him drag his right foot when he tries to walk anywhere. These are all signs of Cerebral Palsy (CP). The therapists and doctors are questioning whether he has a mild form of CP. An MRI is the first test to determine if CP is present, which is slight brain damage, usually caused by a lack of oxygen to any given part of the brain, most likely right after birth. Since he was a preemie, and a triplet, this is probably the case. His MRI was scheduled for this Tuesday, and he would have to go under for the long procedure. Since he received steroids during his hospital stay to help decrease the inflammation, that will push his MRI back another 8 weeks. They do not want the steroids compromising his lung function under anesthetics.

So, we wait to find out what will be. But we know that what will be, will be. Nothing will change but our knowledge, since if it is a positive diagnosis, then getting him to walk will hopefully be the only challenge CP will present for him in his lifetime.

Now that you have the back story on our little man, we are now home. He spent 4 days in the hospital, or as I called it, "Hotel Children's". They had Pampers! Woohoo! Nothing but the best swag for my baby. He was as well cared for as his bum, needing oxygen and breathing treatments 'round the clock. It was torture to see him with the nasal cannula, the IV, the pulse ox all tethering him to the metal crib that was his home for days. But, like I said, he is a trooper and handled it all with the poetic grace of an old soul, as he does with everything life throws at him. I love my baby boy and am constantly amazed at his resilience.

His lungs are recovering and we are hunkering down for the winter, trying to evade some of the nastier bugs out there. Hopefully we won't end up back in the hospital anytime soon.

It's nice to have our family back together again, even if we are all sick..we are sick together.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ruffling by the Weenie

I guess I ruffled a few feathers with my last post.

To be honest and fair to the commenters...there was a witch there (I thought your costume was "off" when we got there, MJ) and some kind of a ghost or something with makeup mostly smeared off (costume mostly off) and one adult with a full blown costume. And Kristie, who came with us as a cat, felt just like I did...pretty darn silly.

And the rest who could be considered dressed up were in Halloween shirts, not costumes. I think that's a big difference when you come in your PJs, feeling like a total slob. Anyway, just wanted to explain my point a little more, and what I was feeling. I can't change the way I felt because it was, well, the way that I felt.

I worry what is going to happen when I write the book... I hope my feelings and viewpoints will not offend because they are simply my viewpoints, my opinions, my perspective - the way I felt during a situation...please understand. :(

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I guess I'm the "weenie". More on that later...

Ok, the begging can stop!

I haven't posted about Halloween, well, because it isn't really wasn't all that exciting for us. I feel like such a bad mom for not making it great, but, hey..."sumthin's gotta give!"

I used to looooove the holiday, living at home and then right after we first got married. It was so much fun getting dressed up, handing out candy and having a scary movie marathon. We used to have all sorts of Halloween parties here for the Youth Group we ran (scary, huh?), pulling out all the stops, but nowadays, it all seems like too much work. Bah, humbug...even if that's the wrong holiday reference.

Anyway, not many people come to our house to visit, usually (my family) - so we would be the only ones to enjoy the decor...we live out in the middle of nowhere and do not get trick-or-treaters either. You can't see our house from the road, so it's almost silly to even try. Christmas is another story! We don't care about anyone else, we do that for ourselves!

Once we had the kids, our precious time was commandeered to bathe, diaper, dress and soothe 3 babies. And now, well...now, we have no excuses left. I actually gave my BIL (who loves Halloween) all of our decorations a few years ago, since I thought we wouldn't be needing them for a while. So here we sit...decorationless, penniless and spiritless.

We had an idea for the kids last year that we would put into action this October 31st...well, now it's been pushed off yet another year. We just have not had the time to do what was necessary to make it work. They were going to be Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke...and their stroller the General Lee. I even found the perfect shirt for our little Daisy! But, as we neared the Big Day, we came to realize that the General Lee would never be ready to jump over closed bridges in time for the reveal. So, we abandoned that idea a week before D-Day...or would it be H-Day?...whatever.

We frantically searched for ideas for the three to fit into...we didn't want to just have them be random costumes found in a thrift shop. We wanted a theme! I thought it would be cute to copy another triplet mom from last year and do a stoplight theme... Super cute idea, but we needed the stroller to have that make any sense - and that would never fit inside a house for a party. Another idea scratched.

As I was folding their pajamas a few days before, I thought it would be cute if we all went as a "pajama party"! If I could just find robes and slippers for the three cuties (things they would use otherwise), we would be in business! Mike said no, he wouldn't do it. He was such a party pooper! He doesn't like to dress up, ever.

But I decided I would still dress up with the kids and set out to find the "stuff". My mother found most of what we needed, cute little robes and slippers... and we were good to go!

The night of Halloween is also our neice's birthday, so we set out to the in-laws and prepared to go trick-or-treating with them, cake to follow. We weren't going to have the kids dress up because they couldn't actually walk up and get candy yet - they would just be dressed in orange shirts and jeans, nothing special. Mike's sister happened to have three costumes from Halloween's past that were the perfect sizes for all three. So, we hurriedly dressed them up and rolled around the block.

Alex was Cheer Bear, Braden was a Pumpkin and Cole was Godzilla. Super cute. Instant Halloween! Just stuff them in and zzzzip! 5 minutes and we were out the door. Nice!




We walked around the block with Ellie the Birthday Girl and Clown ("curly shirley") and Robbie the Thomas the Tank Engine. It was nice, and the weather was perfect.

Mike with the "I just ate a piece of candy" guilty look...


We headed back for cake and pumpkin lattes - and the company of family. Happy Birthday Ellie!




The actual party was Sunday, so I was ready for them to be dressed up in the pajamas. I envisioned cuteness, Mike thought it was stupid. They slept really late that day, and we were super late for the party, so we decided at the last minute that we would just zip them up in the "instant costumes" again. I still went in my PJs as "Frazzled Mom", messing my hair up and frizzing it up on top of my head, circles under my eyes, etc... The whole family dresses up for the party and it's usually fun.

Well, once I got there, my costume morphed into "Trusting Schmuck".

No one else, other than all the kids there, was dressed up. I was the only one, trusting in the fact that in years' past, everyone but Mike dressed up. I didn't want to be a party pooper too, so I forced myself to find something and go. I didn't want to be picked on for my lack of holiday spirit. Well, I was goofed on... for dressing up.

Boy, did I feel stupid.

The kids looked cute, but were in their costumes for about 10 minutes at the party. What a waste! So glad we didn't actually spend time or money on their costumes, I would have been torqued! All in all, it was pretty uneventful and unspecial, sorry to say. Aren't you glad you waited all this time to hear that? ;)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Pictures

Two weeks ago, the Ertel Clan got together to takes some professional pics of our awesome family. There are officially 16 of us, 7 of them kids, 6 of them under 5. So you can imagine the crazy chaos that ensues when we all get together. It's pretty nuts.

We have been taking a Christmas picture at a studio (NEVER AGAIN!) and it's a crazy fiasco in public, the entourage touring the mall before and after, looking like a small army ready to raid the town. It's previously been a "surprise" to Mom and Dad, giving them a picture of all the grandkids they currently spoil the heck out of.

This year, MJ had a friend in the biz-ness, the fantastically talented Tracy Dorr, and thought it would be great to do outdoor, natural fall photos instead. Yay! No more forced and stuffy studio pics...thank God. It was a great and beautiful day, a little cold, but nice enough. And we all got some great shots of our own families, too. We started with the big family, all 16 of us, inside and out, and then broke it down multiple times. All the kids, each family on their own, each couple on their own, and so on and so on...

They turned out amazing. What a great idea, MJ! And you know, Tracy, you are never, ever getting away. ;)

Here are the ones from just our family, with us as Mom and Dad and then just Mike and Cheryle again. I think these are officially the first pics of us together since we were dating. I think that fact might just explain the ridiculous number of them I included here.

I would love to post the other ones, I just have to find out what the rest of the family thinks about their mugs being on the Internet. And I'm not talking about coffee.

What do you think? These suckers were tough to upload, so let's leave the wonky formatting out of this.