Life on the Other Side

Fair warning, you can chalk the purpose of this post up to "for the Grandparents."  It's basically a collection of pics from our visit to the other side, you know, the dark side...of health.  I can't explain why parents take pictures of the weird things we do, but we do!  I suppose it's because even at their sickest, Ava and Carter just looked more adorable to me in their own, little helpless way.  I don't know, maybe it was the empathy or just the sheer the lack of sleep, either way, enjoy!  I did manage to maintain some kind of boundary here though, thankfully for your own sake and our own pride, I did not take any pics of Trav and I while we were sick.  That is because we definitely DID NOT look adorable.  We were more like "death warmed over" than adorable.  
So yes, you're welcome for that :)  
 Ava on our makeshift sick bed.  Lucky for us, we'd *just* taken down the crib a few nights before and we had this mattress laying around while we found a storage spot for it.  It was a great place for little sickies :) 
 While Ava was sick, Carter hung out with me most of the day in their playroom.  We had a great time together, playing cars, trains, trucks, and reading lots of books.  It was very sweet and I think we both liked the chance to spend some one on one time together.  And no, he didn't line up all those cares by himself, we did it together :) 
Look at that sweet boy.  He LOVES any book that has anything to do with a truck or a vehicle!  He got "Digger Man" from Aunt Shaye and it's one of his new favorites :) 
After a full day of being down for the count, we slowly got our Ava back by the end of the night.
We kept her in our room with us to sleep, just in case she was not done with being sick.  Thankfully she slept all night and stayed quiet.
And we awoke to this sweet face!
 It took a few days for her to start looking and feeling "normal" again, but it was great to see her feeling so much better!  She discovered this scarf and hat and wore it for quiet a while that day, so funny!
 With one quiet night under our belt, we spent the next one up with this little guy.  He woke me in tears, telling me that "his pillow was dirty" and he was right :) So after a change of sheets, blankie, and pillow, the sick bed was resurrected and became Carter's new perch.
 While Ava was content to stay put and rest, Carter was not so easy.  I had to bring the entertainment to him, in between getting sick.  Fun times!  Good thing he was DARLING laying there :) 
 With Carter down, it was Ava's turn to play alone in the play room and she was quite happy about I think.  Any chance to play without Carter in her way and she's sold! 
We did more of the same all day, but only when this guy was sleeping.
 And thankfully, he took a morning and an afternoon nap for me.
 Because when he was awake, it was not fun.  He definitely did not understand why he couldn't eat and drink what he was craving.  It was a loooong few days with Carter.
But eventually he started to perk up too and was back to himself after a while.  It was a Mickey Mouse recovery for sure!  He's watched a lot of MM Clubhouse episodes, but it kept him happy and me sane.  And as expected, now that he'd better I'm dealing with the consequences of all that TV this week!  

Within a day of Carter feeling better, and me thinking I'd escaped it, it soon became apparent that I did NOT.  I was out of commission for an entire day, thankfully while Trav was home for the weekend.  It appears from this picture as if I spent a leisurely day in bed, watching the news and "relaxing."   If only that were true.  I spent an agonizing 12 hours, whimpering in the fetal position from the pain in my stomach and that horrible fear that at any time you're going to be sick.  If I wasn't in bed, I was on the bathroom floor.  SUPER fun times!
But Daddy to the rescue!  In addition to prepping for his sermon, he totally took over and ran the show for two days, which I was so grateful for.  God gave us incredible grace to handle all that we needed to and we made it through.  Carter bounced back (literally)...
...and Miss Personality was back on her game too.  

I have no desire to go back to the other side, but these photos are proof that we did it and even lived to blog about it!  Ha ha!  

So in the spirit of friendship, I am praying for a germ-free week in your world!!  However, if you too are walking on the "other side"...I feel your pain!  Hang in there, it will be over before you know it  :)  


The Upside of the Situation

Well friends, it's been a week!  No sooner did I post about Ava being sick, that I blinked and the whole house was sick.  Just like that, the stomach bug hit us and hit us hard.  One by one we went down like dominoes, each of enduring a special variety of symptoms.  Rather than rehash all the "excitement" of our week in great detail, I thought I'd choose to look at the upside instead.  Because really, as bad as it was, it could have been worse!

Thankfully, Travis got sick and well again before we even knew what hit us.  God was gracious in spacing out the timing between the two of us being ill, one of us was available to take care of the other and we tag-teamed it with the kids.  Upside.

Although I NEVER want my kids to be sick, I always enjoy the opportunity to take care of them and to get extra snuggles when they feel badly.  There is no one like your Mom when you don't feel good.  Even when you're 32.  We all needed our Mommies this week, and isn't it nice to be needed?  Upside.

Having a 3 and 2 year old who are both sick, is an interesting test of patience.  They don't totally understand what is happening and they are not big fans of a restrictive diet until their tummies are settled.  However, we loved seeing the compassion and love for one another they displayed while the other was sick.  Ava's nurturing heart was in full swing, bringing Carter his toys, asking if he was feeling better and just generally speaking lots of "oh, buddy" and "it's not fun to be sick, is it?" over him.  So sweet.  And Carter also reciprocated when Ava was down for the count.  He ran to find her blankie, quietly let her watch all her "princess shows" without complaining and asked me "where's Ava at Mama?" every time she took a nap :) I'm grateful they are normally so healthy, but seriously, it's joy when you see glimpses of love between your kids when they are sick.  Upside.

We didn't get the flu!  Thankfully we just had a nasty stomach virus, but no dangerous strains of the flu and we are grateful.  It's scary how many people are dying this year from the flu.  I'm thankful we got our flu shots and didn't have to deal with something more scary.  My hands are practically raw from washing them, but no flu over here yet (hopefully ever!). Upside.

Travis filled in for our Senior Pastor this week (who was out sick with his family) and although we were touch and go around here for the last few days, we made to Church today to hear him.  The kids were fine, but I got sick on Friday so I was really the one in question.  Thankfully I had a much better day on Saturday and just enough energy and grace to make it today.  Upside.

We've been going through a little rough patch with Ava on Sunday mornings about going to her little class.  I'm sure it will be fine but this morning I didn't have the energy to fight her on it so I brought her with me into the service.  She's come a few times before, so she sort of knew the drill.  I had no idea what she'd do with her Daddy on the stage, but I explained "the rules" and we went in.  My girlfriend was waiting to sit with us and to our surprise (both of us) she had brought a bag full of princess goodies (stickers, notepads, books, etc.) to pass to Ava from her daughter and when she spotted Ava, she pulled it out.  It was a huge blessing, and it helped Ava sit quietly and still through 2 services.  Ava was able to watch her Daddy in action and got a kick out of hearing him mention her name and even tell a little story about her.  Sweet, sweet, sweet.  I loved watching her face.  And when I picked Carter up from his class, they told me while they were on a little buggy ride around the Church, every time they passed a TV with a live feed (and they passed many) Carter would point and say, "Dat's my Daddy! Right dare! On da TB!"  So cute! Upside.

On our way to Church this morning, on a bitterly cold morning, I marveled at how obedient my kids had been that morning, eating their breakfast and getting dressed when I asked them to so we could be early to Church.  Sunday mornings are often stressful for me, trying to get everyone out the door by myself.  This morning was so smooth and pleasant.  When we pulled into the Church and we had a few minutes, I told the kids we were going to pray for Daddy.  I wish I had a video to remember the precious things they prayed for their Daddy.  It was such a pleasant and sweet start to our morning, a morning I was worried would be made even harder by me not feeling 100% and Trav being too busy to help me.  I was wrong.  Upside.

As we all went down, one by one over the last week and a half, I was continually amazed and thankful for all the friends and family who called us, checked in on us, prayed for us, even made a meal for us.  Who really wants to be sick?  And who really wants to be stuck at home, cooped up for days on end?  While I wouldn't wish for it again, it was sweet to be reminded of how well we are loved and cared for.  And it was a good reminder to return the favor to others who need be loved and cared for too.  Upside.

Finally, as I sat down in worship this morning and felt the stress of this last week melt off my shoulders, I asked the Lord for a word from Him.  And listening to my darling husband teach from God's word this morning, He gave it to me.  Just what I needed to hear, just what spoke to my heart.  It was a week I have no desire to repeat!  Throwing up, cleaning up, messes galore, patience running thin, laundry, laundry, laundry...BUT, in the midst of our mess, the Lord didn't forget me and He spoke to my heart this morning when I asked Him to.  Upside.

I'll be honest, I'm happy to be starting a brand new week, with no germs in sight!  But sometimes, even in the hardest of circumstances, when you look at the upside, it's not so bad after all   :)


Christmas Day 2012

In an attempt to wrap up the week-long break between my last post about Christmas Eve and this one, it's follow up, I'm happy to report that Christmas did indeed arrive in our family :)
Here's the proof from Christmas Morning, in our jammies and bed head with our two favorite gifts. 
They were definitely excited for it to finally "be Christmas" but the gifts under the tree thing hasn't really set in with either of them.  They don't know yet to come racing out of their rooms and to look for gifts and we're enjoying that for as many years as we can!  Frankly, they were more excited to wake up and watch Mickey Mouse than if they'd known the fun that we had in store for them :)  We took advantage of a pretty peaceful start to Christmas morning.
My two handsome men.
Sorry about the red-eye in all the following photos, I'm just too lazy to go back and fix them all :)
Stacie and I, sporting this year's matching pj's.  Really, we've grown more exicted about this recent tradition than just about any other!  There were some years in our lives when we would have DIED to be in the same pj's!  But not now :) Funny how that changes with time!
Ava giving Ollie some Christmas kisses :)
Best Dad I could ask for (or pray for) to our kids.  They have such a treasure in him, God has been very good to them!
We have a traditional (healthy) breakfast on Christmas Day, Monkey Bread and Coffee while we open gifts.  It may not waistline friendly, but it never disappoints!
Because the mountain of gifts were begging to be opened and we had some company coming for an early Christmas dinner, we wasted no time letting the kids dive in.  Carter was more than ready!
His first (excited) look at his new mickey mouse pirate ship! 
Ava was also wasting no time...
The parade of new princesses and new outfits for her princesses, began!
Rupunzel! Or "Tangled" as Ava has always called her :)
Lucky for Carter, his gifts only got bigger!
I had a feeling our "ball loving" boy might be ready for this rite of passage...
His first hoop! 
You might think this made his Daddy very happy, and you'd be right, it did.  But it also made his Basketball-playing Mommy equally as happy!  I SOOO hope he wants to be a basketball player!  We live in the land of hockey and not only is it expensive, but it's also frought with way too many concussions.  I'm pushing basketball with everything I have! 
Thankfully, we aren't having to push too hard.  He LOVED it!!  And knew right what to do with it, banking shots in and shooting again and again.  We're already proud :) :) :)
I mean seriously, we thought his bank shot was good but then he pulled out some one handed sky hooks to wow us :)  I'm really hoping his 95th percentile for height works in his favor someday!  ha!
Ava could barely contain her squeals after we pulled the next HUGE gift out for her to unwrap.  We have all been waiting with baited breath to see her open this one from my parents.  When we ordered it we had no idea it would be quite so huge, but we knew she would just adore it!
Yes, that is Cinderella in her wedding gown, with her coach and a white horse.  Is that adorable or what??
She could barely take it all in!
She's been pretending for months  that different cardboard boxes and pots and pans were Cinderella's coach.  When I saw this online I knew she would be over the moon about it.  FYI, for all of you with little girls, the Disney Store online had some crazy good Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year!  I'm hoping I can  remember that for next year! 
After they opened their gifts from my parents and their aunts and uncles, we sent them downstairs to wait for the big surprises we had for them. 
We brought their one "big" gift from us, all the way from Minnesota so they could open something from us on Christmas day.  (Yes, we were nuts to do that. They had plenty to open, they never would have been disappointed if they'd had this waiting at home.  Lesson learned!)
And Daddy was ready to get their reactions on video.
They weren't too thrilled about the waiting part :)  Carter especially!
But they were excited to see what was waiting around the corner!
Ava knew exactly what was all set up for her, she's been asking about this castle for weeks after she saw it in the Target ad and then in the store.  She was so overwhelmed at that point she was almost silent :) She just grinned and looked at every little thing, including all of her dolls in their respective rooms.  Totally cute!
Carter however was the victim of a total parent failure. 
His cute little bike was too tall for him :( Despite the fact that it was for kids 2 and up, or that he's very tall for his age, he was still about 2 inches too short to ride it on his own!  I never would have guessed that.  He made one attempt at getting on it, then declared "It's too big.  I can't ride it!"
Here he is, telling my parents that he can't ride it :) Poor guy!  He did like his "hat" however (helmet)!

My parents surprised my sisters and I this year with a new mixer for each of us!  So fun, we were all totally surprised and thankful!  We all like to cook and bake and have wanted one for a long time.  It was a fun Christmas morning for the big kids too :) :) :)
And of course, what Christmas morning post would be complete without our pj's picture?? 
We had a sweet Christmas morning with my family, full of presents, and laughter and each other.  The real miracle of the morning however, was the gift of Jesus that we all share.  He is the treasure worth more than all else and the reason for our joy and peace.  I'm so thankful that Jesus is a central part of our family and the reason we celebrate Christmas!



I forgot about these fun pics from Christmas and didn't want to leave them off the blog.  One of the things I'm most grateful to have received from my Mom and my Grandma, is a love for cooking.  All three of us have inherited the gene and we are thankful!  It amazes me how many women I know who don't cook, or bake, or grill (??), or whatever  :)  I have more than a few friends who specialize in take out!  No judgement intended if that describes you, I am no stranger to take-out when I'm tired or just over it either :) I guess because I grew up with home-made cooking all the time, I have a real love for it and many memories associated with certain dishes or meals.  Hoping to instill those kinds of memories in my kids too!  I also really enjoy putting a meal together from beginning to end.  I like figuring out what spices compliment certain foods and what dishes work well together, I also like trying new things.  That's the creative side of me coming out I think :) For better and for worse, Travis has been a very good sport over the years and has broadened his pallet along with me!  However, having kids has intensified my love for cooking by requiring more production on a weekly basis, but it's also forced me to simplify and take some shortcuts when necessary.  My hope is to put all kinds of flavors and foods in front of my kids so that we don't raise extremely picky eaters who are only partial to one or two things.  However, the longer I parent, the more grace I extend to parents!!  I think variety is good, but I also think sometimes you just get stuck with a kid who is flat out stubborn :)  And because there are only so many battles one can choose to fight in a day, sometimes meal time is one battle that we choose not to engage in.  But I digress...
 We Ferguson women like to cook!  Last Christmas we instituted our first annual pie night, where we had my Mom teach us how to make perfect pie crust and her signature rhubarb pie.  It was totally fun and a win-win for everyone!  The girls had fun in the kitchen and the guys reaped the rewards of fresh pies :) And I'm happy to report that all of us have made a few pies from scratch at home, over the last year too.  So, we decided to do it again this year, with a cookie baking night and another pie night.  And we all came ready in our cute aprons!  
I think my sister Jennie looked like she was straight out of 1950 with her cute, lacy apron and her hair up in a bun :) You can call us old-fashioned or domesticated or whatever you want, but I think the 1950's sound more and more appealing these days! 
This is my next-generation cook who was patiently waiting to join the fun in the kitchen too!
Grammy happily welcomed another little helper in her kitchen and even surprised Ava and Carter with their own aprons too!
And this little thing knew how to work it when I asked her to show me her bow!  Sassy!
My Mom got this cute little gingerbread girl at a local craft show.  So cute, much better than this picture reflects, and handmade.  We loved it!
Taking my Titus 2 mandate seriously :) :) 
Training my girl early to love her husband and children and to be busy at home!
And of course, we do not discriminate when it comes to kitchen helpers!  Carter got his own apron, with trains and trucks and cars galore and he was VERY happy to "help."  I aim to make his future wife grateful someday for a man who can cook :) :) 
Loving the look on my face, ha ha!  Let's just say Carter wasted no time diving in to stir what he thought needed to be stirred.
 My crew.  They both like to help me at night when I'm making dinner, Ava especially.  She always asks me if she can help me cook?? Then follows it up with, "I"m a good cooker Mama, I like to help you!"  
She is a good cooker :) Just like her Grammy!
We made sugar cookies with the kids, which means they helped with the mixing part and cutting some cookies out, then left us to do the tedious work for the rest of the night!
 The hired help!  We were paid back with freedom to go shopping and some money to spend, ha ha!  
My three go-to phone calls when I need a family recipe or have a question about how to make something!
We were working my Moms ovens out this year!
 And after the kids went to bed and my Dad took my Aunt and Uncle home, we even roped him into helping us decorate with icing!  Ha!  He did one candy cane I believe, just because we all bet he wouldn't do it or maybe couldn't do it!!  That was all the taunting he needed to prove us wrong :)  He did a great candy cane!
 Some of the cookies we made, in progress.  My sister added some cute details after these dried, but I don't think I've uploaded those photos yet.  For those of you who always ask me, I swear by the sugar cookie recipe and the glace icing recipe, both from Our Best Bites website.  Try it, it's my favorite!  
I did not make the pies this year, I was too tired after getting the kids in bed, but Stacie and Jennie cranked some out and they were well received!  They also made some chex mix that I couldn't keep my hands out of...And I'm paying for that choice today!  Oh the holidays, when will I not eat my way through them??
Finally, I mentioned in one of my Christmas posts that my parents got each of us a kitchen aid mixer this year!!  Big surprise!!  And one we were all thrilled about :) My Mom has been scouting deals on these for the last year and found one on black Friday I think, so I couldn't wait to get mine home and start using it!  Yesterday I told you I made a million things last week, one of them being some Protein Breakfast cookies.  My blog friend Toni asked for the recipe, so I'm posting it below.

I found this one on Pinterest and my first impression is, they're ok.  I think this is a recipe you need to try several times before you find the ride combination for you.  The flavor I really liked, but mine were a little too "wet" for my taste.  I think less banana would have been good.  Travis really liked them, so I'll make them again.  Here's the original recipe from the website: 

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed until smooth & creamy
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter ~ creamy or chunky 
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder ** (can be made without, cookie will just be lower in protein)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter flavor extract ** (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oatmeal  ~ uncooked  (or use old fashioned oats for more oatmeal texture)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (peanut, walnut, or your favorite)
  • 1/4 cup carob or chocolate chips (**optional)

I (stephanie) made these with banana, pb, applesauce, protein powder, vanilla, oatmeal and chocolate chips.  They had good flavor, but I used 3 small bananas and next time would only use 2 regular ones, as the recipe states.  I also would add a little more oatmeal, to make them more dry.  Also, they can be stored left out but I put mine in a tupperware container and they got too "moist" I think.  I'll make them again, I think when I find the right balance, they'll be a good breakfast on the go option or a good afternoon treat :) If you make them, let me know what you think!  Enjoy!