Sunday, December 30, 2007

Visit to George Ranch

Olivia, McIver and I (sort or) enjoyed a field trip to George Ranch Saturday afternoon. The ranch started about 180 years ago (when TX was still part of Mexico) and has been in the same family for 4 generations.

Olivia decided that if we were going to a 'real ranch' she should wear her cowboy hat and boots.

McIver's holding out for a hat at this year's rodeo.

Stop #1: Horse Barn/ Sorting Pens/ Tack Barn/ Dipping Vat - We saw real cowboys roping bales of hay and the 'pool' that the cows swam thru in order to get the medicine to rid them of ticks, etc. The cowboy giving our talk was very nice and excited to be wearing the boots that Santa brought him for Christmas.

Believe it or not, I was more interested in hearing the history of the place than O & Mac.

Stop #2: The bridge to the 1890 complex - McIver kept his eyes open for alligators but decided they must be sleeping because it was so cold.

Stop #3: 1830s Jones Stock Farm: This was a replica of a house built in the 1830s and was furnished accordingly. Olivia is holding a spoon made from a long horn. The kids were not impressed that 15 people lived in this tiny house - I kept trying to tell them how good they have it! They loved climbing up into the loft. They finally seemed to 'get it' when they realized that the beds up there were what folks actually slept in - scratchy blankets, hard beds, no lights, no heat or AC and a bucket to go potty in.

Stop #4: Hay & Tool Barn - Both kids were very interested in (and a bit concerned by) the idea of 'branding' the cattle.

Like I said, I enjoyed the history lesson more than the children did. There were 3 other houses to visit, but the kids decided they had had enough. Of course, the next day, they asked to go back again.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spann Family Christmas

Almost all of the Spanns (Will's mom's siblings) got together last Sunday night for a delicious Christmas dinner and white elephant gift exchange. This was the first time we had been able to be there for this gathering since 2002 so we were glad to take part.

GranDaddy & JuliAnna enjoyed some time together while the rest of us fought over gifts that make noise.

Uncle Robert opened the welding set from Home Depot. McIver was only a little bit interested b/c he thought there was a gift with his name on it. That present turned out to be a snowglobe so Mac immediately stole the welding kit from Uncle Robert! And, I thought he would have a hard time 'getting' the whole 'stealing' part of the gift exchange. The whole rest of our time in MB, he kept saying how much fun that was "when we got to steal presents."

Jimbo got a Foghorn - did I mention that a prerequisite was that all gifts make noise!?

McIver - in the Captain Jack Sparrow costume (again) showing off the welding torch.

Amelia has garnet & black in her blood. I can't wait for Mamoo to see this picture!

Nativity sets

Spent most of today unpacking (suitcases from our week in Myrtle Beach) and packing up (Christmas decorations). I was sad to see our Nativity sets go since the kids always have so much fun playing with them. So, we decided to take some pictures...

Every child who believes should have this Fisher Price Nativity set.

This is another kid-friendly set. It's all wood and doesn't matter if the kids drop the wise men on the ground, or ir Murphy's tail knocks them off the table.
This one is up a little higher - the pieces are porcelain and so sweet.

Can you see Baby Jesus' face?

I bought this one this year from Martha Bailey who was a vendor at the ECW Annual Meeting at Palmer. Of course, each set is different depending on the wood, but I just loved this one. I stewed over it for the whole first day of the conference and just couldn't get it off my mind. I just love it!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Climbing Tree

Before heading to the beach, we stopped by the Mims' house to deliver a gift and search for McIver's crocs (which, by the way, are still MIA).  As I was saying my good-byes, and assuming that the kids were climbing back into the golf cart, they discovered 'the climbing tree,' a huge magnolia in the Mims' front yard.  

Here they are at a respectable, adventurous level in the tree. 
Now, Olivia is wising up - and climbing down.
Not McIver, no sir.  He went even higher - I'm sure he was at least as high as their 2nd floor windows, and clearly not the least bit concerned for life or limb.

Christmas Eve on the Beach

After getting in as much prep-work as we could for the Christmas Eve party, the kids and I headed to the beach.  It was great to get out and enjoy the beautiful day.  

McIver making 'sand snowballs.'

Olivia wanted to get in the water SO badly.  She settled for digging a big hole
and filling it up with water which required many, many trips to the swash.
We brought a bag-full of bread for the seagulls.  It took them about 2 seconds to find us
once we started to toss it out.  100s of seagulls became Olivia's new best friends.
After a bit too much togetherness, O & Mac started to draw lines in the sand.  
"You can't come in MY circle unless you knock!"
Just a few minutes later . . . family harmony, again.

Merritt Family Christmas

We spent Saturday night at Jay & Jennifer's house to celebrate Christmas together.  It was so much fun to see all the grands together.  Olivia loved playing big sister/cousin to Amelia and JuliAnna who are just precious.

Jay & Jennifer gave McIver a bag-o-pirate-gear which was a HUGE hit.  He immediately put on the pirate costume and took on the persona of Captain Jack Sparrow.  He pretty much wore the costume for 2 days straight!  

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Evening with Amelia

Olivia and McIver were so excited to see their cousin, Amelia, last night.  McIver ran around showing off for Aunt Kelli and then settled down enough to entertain Amelia.  We enjoyed all of Amelia's 'tricks,' including, clapping and waving, saying Ho, Ho, Ho, crawling all around, trying to pull up and just being sweet and charming.  When the grown-ups ate dinner, we turned on a Baby Einstein movie for the kids keeping our fingers crossed that Mac would be at least a little bit interested.  Turns out he was a lot interested.  Olivia and Amelia played and O was lucky enough to be able to give Amelia her bottle.  When the movie was over, though, McIver came a-runnin':

McIver:  Hey, hey.  She (Amelia) said her first word!
Aunt Kelli:  Really?  What did she say?!
McIver:  She's said, "Over."  The movie's over.

Much to his delight, Will was able to hit the links with Jay for a little while this afternoon.  Even though he didn't have his own clubs (many folks were encouraging him to leave them at home in Houston even though he feels perfectly able to play golf!), he played well and enjoyed himself.  When GranDaddy got home, he took O & Mac to the golf course to meet up with Will & Jay.  Will was able to find room in our bags, though, for O & Mac's clubs.  They had a great time, even though we neglected to pack suitable shoes for Olivia.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More of Mac's reasoning skills

McIver:  GranDaddy, can I have more marshmallows?
GranDaddy:  Why don't you clean up the ones on the floor first?
McIver:  Don't you have a dog at your house?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Daisy Investiture

Olivia is officially a Daisy Girl Scout. Yesterday, her group at church held their Investiture which makes the girls 'official' Daisies and Brownies. The girls have all been working toward earning 'petals' and 'try-its' (what we from the old school call 'badges') since the group formed in the fall. It was a cold, cold day on the patio at Palmer, but a very nice ceremony. Each girl recited the Girl Scout Promise and was presented with the Girl Scout pin and the petals they had earned so far.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Friday Night Lights

The Lunds, friends from church, invited a bunch of folks over to see the splendor of their backyard and enjoy some cookies and hot chocolate. Roy has collected some beautiful (read: tacky) Christmas decorations over the years. Linda will not let him put them in her front yard so he lights up the night from their backyard. Needless to say, the kids all love being able to get up close and personal!

Ruthie, Abigail & Olivia pose with the choir.

After getting a cookie, the first thing Mac did was race over to see if the snow was real. It wasn't - and neither was the polar bear, in case you wondered.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Silver Lining

So, one bit of silver lining to Will's appendectomy is that he was able to go to O's class this morning to talk about his job. (Lots of other dads had been in already and Olivia has been disappointed that her dad couldn't come, so this was a special treat!)

All was going well until a little girl asked the dreaded question: So, how EXACTLY do you get the baby out of the mommy's tummy?

Will, very adeptly, passed the buck: Well, the mom has to go to the hospital and then sometimes the doctor has to do surgery to get the baby out. You'll have to ask your mom how you came out. Does anybody else have a question?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Making and decorating Christmas cookies has become quite the tradition for this branch of the Merritt Family. We had so much fun the last few years that we decided to host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party. We had invited friends from church, Olivia's kindergarten class & McIver's school and were supposed to have the party last Sunday. Alas, we were otherwise engaged and had to cancel. So, this afternoon, Will and McIver got busy rolling out cookie dough and cutting out Christmas cookies while I picked Olivia up from school today.

After all the cookies were baked, we got down to business - decorating!

Olivia was super-proud of her 1st Christmas tree this year!

McIver - I mean, Superman! - finally realized that the cookies didn't have to be perfect, or look like Olivia's. He spent a lot of time putting the red hots on the gingerbread man's face "to make him smile."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

He's home!!!

Will was finally discharged from the hospital yesterday about 4:00. The kids and I picked him up and brought him home. He's still moving a bit slow, but was glad to be free of the IV and poking and prodding. Of course, we're all glad to have him home safe and healthy, especially Murphy!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Still waiting to come home

Will is still in the hospital today (at 2:30pm) even though we were hoping he'd be discharged this morning. As of 1pm, Dr. Wallace still had not been by to give him the go-ahead to come home. We're hoping he'll be home in time for dinner - he is not thrilled with the idea of yet another tray of hospital food!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Appendectomy update

The kids and I started yesterday off with Breakfast in Bethlehem at church, then rode the train down to the hospital to see Will. Olivia and McIver have only ridden the train a few times so they thought that was pretty fun ... I was glad to save $20 on parking! We left there hoping that Will would be coming home today, but that was not to be.

Dr. Wallace saw Will this morning and seemed concerned that he get a few more rounds of IV antibiotics before going home. Apparently, the area was pretty infected and we've already heard more than our share of horror stories, so we'll happily follow his advice. So, after church this morning, the kids and I rode the train again to the hospital. Will is no longer hooked up to the IV except for when he's actually getting the antibiotics so he's much more mobile now. He even walked downstairs to the train with us and to get ice cream from McDonalds.

We've got our fingers crossed that Will will be home before the kids get home from school tomorrow!

Friday, December 7, 2007

And, to top it all off...

I can't believe I forgot to mention that the kids and I ran into Santa Claus on Thursday night. He was getting off the elevator as we were getting on. He spied O & Mac and gave them each a little Christmas Bear. They thought that was way cool - and are now convinced that Santa is indeed everywhere and watching everything. (Although, that knowledge did not keep McIver from bouncing off the walls tonight as we walked across the skybridge to the parking garage!)

Photos of visit with Dad

As promised, here are pictures from our visit yesterday...

Here they are opening the Christmas presents ... a Vince Flynn book from Nanoo and a picture of O & Mac to keep in the hospital room. If you look closely, you can see the hose that Will had to wear to prevent blood clots when he was immobile. He took the liberty of taking them off today, but admitted that they were pretty comfortable and kept him warm in the cold hospital room.
Like I said, the kids loved the bed. At one point it looked like it was pretty much folded in half from all the button-pushing.

After taking children to school, I went back to the hospital. Will didn't sleep well again last night, but he's blaming the morphine and the in-and-out of the nurses, etc. He watched an entire movie starting at 2am. But, they're switching him to Toradol for the pain today so that ought to help. He took himself for a walk around the floor this morning and I went with him twice while I was there. He really is being a good patient.

The surgeon visited this AM (well before I got there), but he did not mention anything about an estimated discharge day. He has not even looked at the incision yet. He did give Will the go-ahead to start drinking clear fluids. He asked for a popsicle just before I left, but still doesn't really have an appetite yet. For those of you who know Will, we'll know he's better when he says he's hungry!

Sweet Olivia is having a harder time with all of this than McIver. She ended up sleeping with me last night and was hesitant for me to leave her at school this morning. I think she's just old enough to have worries about all of this. But, she is looking forward to another visit this afternoon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Olivia & McIver visit Dad in the hospital

Olivia and McIver had a great visit with Will this afternoon. We headed straight to the hospital after picking Olivia up from school. Olivia was excited to take Will two Christmas presents for him to open early - a book from Nanoo and a picture of O & Mac that we were giving him for his office. (I'm hoping that she can live vicariously thru his early opening of the presents and not ask me for the 1,537,895th time if she can open one of her presents!)

Anyway, they were a little reticent at first, but then warmed right up. Olivia thought the open hospital gown was hilarious (don't worry, he had boxers on, but she got that if he didn't, his fanny would be right there for all the world to see!). They were very interested in all the tubes and machines, the IV pole, the buttons to raise/lower the bed and the channel changer. They are looking forward to another visit tomorrow!

I did take a few pictures but will have to post them tomorrow b/c I didn't bring the camera home (duh!). Thought it might be nice for you to see that he's doing well.

Will's Appendectomy - update

I don't know how many people actually read our blog, but thought this might be a good way to give the full story of Will's emergency appendectomy. (For the record, I'm not sure we can call it an 'emergency' b/c some of the folks at the hospital were moving slower than molasses when it came time to get him admitted, scanned, etc.)

Will had been having abdominal pain since the Monday before Thanksgiving. He thought it was a GI bug, but didn't feel sick enough to miss work. The pain came and went for a few days but he was able to enjoy Thanksgiving and the following weekend. The pain came back pretty strong late last week and he spent all weekend in bed thinking, again, that it was a GI bug. But, he never had the symptoms for that (vomitting and diarrhea), so he made an appt. with a doctor on Monday morning.

The doctor appt was yesterday (Wed) morning. Will called me at school around 10am and asked me to come meet him b/c they were pretty sure he had appendicitis and were ordering a CT scan. We met with the surgeon while waiting for the CT scan. (Will said he will apologize the next time he orders a scan for one of his patients b/c it was a most unpleasant experience.) Dr. Wallace told us that he suspected a perforated appendix which meant that they would not be able to do the prodecure with a laporascope (who knows if I spelled that correctly!?).

After the CT scan, we were sent on a bit of a wild goose chase - first to the internist's office, then the surgeon's office, then over to Day Surgery in another building, then back down to admitting. And, that's when my dear friend Gay showed up with Kristin, one of the priests from Palmer! It was about 1:30 by then, but took another hour or so to be admitted - so long that the surgeon came down to see what the hold up was. Gay & Kristin stayed with us while we waited to be admitted and Kristin said a prayer for us before she left.

Once we got back up to Day Surgery, the nurses started poking and prodding and asking the same questions over and over. Fr. Nutter, the rector at Palmer came by just before they pushed Will over to the holding area for anasthesia. We said another prayer together. The surgery went smoothly late yesterday afternoon and he made it to a room about 10pm. (To be honest, the surgery was pretty tough, according to Dr. Wallace, but the details are a bit gory so I'll leave the details out here.) It took another 30+ minutes for the nurse to come in, which had to happen before I was going to feel comfortable leaving him for the night. When we left, though, he was resting relatively comfortably and seemed to be pretty coherent.

Olivia seemed a bit concerned about the whole thing, but once she realized that Daddy was OK, she was mostly upset that she missed choir and pizza at church last night. McIver hasn't really missed a beat other than to say he just wanted to "give Daddy a hug BEFORE he went to the doctor." They are excited to visit later today b/c there is a McDonalds (with a promise of ice cream), an electric train and a playground (and the temps here are 70+ and rising - argh!).

I spent all morning with Will and he is doing great. His fever is down (only 101-ish) and his spirits are good. We went for a walk around the 15th floor and washed his hair. He welcomed visitors - Jim (Fr. Nutter) came back by with Fr. Sam, and Linda Lund, Palmer's Pastoral Care Coordinator, and later, his fellow fellows.

I did hear from O's school that she was having a bit of hard day. (She's probably tired b/c she woke up about 5:30 this am!) They had a bad-weater drill which, combined with everything else, sent her over the edge. She was OK by the time I talked to her and was excited to go to French class. So, I let her stay at school and will pick her up shortly so that we can head back for a visit. She's taking a few Christmas presents for Dad to open early - a book and a picture of O & Mac!

Please continue praying for Will's recovery and for the team who is taking care of him. (I gave his day nurse, Mercy, a package of our ECW SINammon pecans which were a hit!)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sinterklaas Visit's O's Kindergarten Class

Olivia's class had a visitor from the Holland Club of Houston this morning - Sinterklaas. The kids were enthralled b/c this was easliy the most quiet and still I have ever seen them! They learned how Holland celebrates St. Nicholas Day. They saw, held and even tried on wooden shoes, learned about various Dutch Christmas traditions, and enjoyed some Dutch snacks.

Happy Birthday, Gay!

We had a great night on Saturday celebrating Gay's 29th (again!) birthday at Prego, The Gingerman and Baker Street Pub. The only thing that would have made it better is if Will had been feeling better and able to join the fun.

To see a few more pictures from our evening-o-Gay, go to The Stricklin Family blog...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Don't you want one!?

Olivia's friend Adrienne's dog, Baby, had 10 puppies on Thanksgiving Day. We went over to see them this afternoon after school. They are ADORABLE!!!

The proud Mama and her pups. (I know, this picture seems a little personal, but I don't think she minded.)

Aargh, matey!

McIver is a new fan of the Dollar Tree. I had (really, I did!) to go there yesterday to purchase gifts for the children in The Rabbit Class and promised McIver that he could pick one thing for himself and one thing for Olivia. This is what he picked...

If you look very carefully, you can see the dangling earring he has been wearing ever since!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This Little Light of Mine

McIver's class, The Ladybug Class, sang "This Little Light of Mine" in chapel this morning. McIver has a love-hate relationship with school (although he loves his teachers!) so I wasn't sure how the morning would go. He did a great job - sang loud enough for me to hear, but not so loud that he was obnoxious.

The director of the school begins chapel with a prayer and then holds up a striped bag. ALL the kids scream, "What's in the bag?" and she calls on a few kids, then gives a few hints and calls on a few more. McIver told me this morning that he wanted to guess it today so we talked about the different things she might have in the bag. (Last chapel, she had a banana in the bag, so it really could be anything.) Anyway, she finally called on McIver and he guessed it - a tool box. But, what I didn't know is that he had peeked into the bag earlier this morning before school while she was talking to someone else. In fairness to McIver, he did admit to Mrs. Ellerbrock before chapel that he knew what was in the bag and she still chose to call on him. He was very pleased with himself!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston ROCKS!!! After letting the kids swim at the hotel pool on Friday, we decided to head down to Space Center Houston.
Olivia & McIver humored me by posing for a picture while Will bought tickets.

Will & Olivia on the tram tour - we went behind-the-scenes at NASA's Johnson Space Center and saw the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where the astronauts actually train in true-to-size mock-ups of the space shuttles before each mission.

In front of one of 5 'blast off engines' (as McIver called it) on the Saturn V. We were all pretty impressed with the size of the space ship.
The current exhibit is Circus: Science Under the Big Top. They had everything from how a human cannonball works to how performers can swallow swords. McIver was excited about lifting the dumbbells in the clown tent.
Olivia waited not-so-patiently to walk the tightrope. I wasn't sure that she would end up doing it, even after the long wait, but she got all buckled into the harness and zipped right across that wire. She was at least 8 feet off the ground. I was so proud of her!