Saturday, December 26, 2009
And what would Christmas at 1905 Manor Lane be without a few hands of "Pounce"?!? The women gathered around the table to raise their blood pressure and chip a few fingernails. The alternate name for this game is "Bloody Knuckles." Enough said!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
R - Righteous. Over the past six months I have admired an increased desire for godliness and discipline in your life. God is bringing you to a new place in your walk with him... a place that requires self-discipline and a "dependent effort," as you like to say. Psalm 97:11-12 comes to mind, as well as Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled."
I - Involved. I am ever thankful to have an husband who wants to be involved in raising our daughters. At the very least, you participate with me each day in dinnertime craziness and bedtime extra-craziness.
C - Comedian. You're funny, which is one of the reasons I had so much fun with you before we were married. Most of your joking comes out when we're in a group of people, and I love watching you get a few laughs.
A - Ambitious. You are competitive and aggressive, whether at work or play. Don't even think of winning a board game without a serious challenge from Eric! I'm proud of how hard you work at your job and how you strive for excellence there.
N - Nostalgic. You love to reminisce, which is fun and refreshing.
S - Stable. Although you may be emotional and nostalgic, you are level headed and calm in leading our family. You always have an optimistic outlook and a certainty that things will be OK. You make me feel safe and provided for.
E - Explorer. This is not one of your prominent character traits, but it sure is fun when your French-Canadian heritage shines through and you want to adventure with me in the great outdoors. On a related note, you are always eager for a new adventure in other areas of life too: learning a new skill, visiting a new place, expanding your knowledge about something.
N - Nurturing. You are a marvelous father, always excited to help the girls grow, learn, and explore. You eagerly spend time with them and take the time to make them feel special and loved.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
At the close of 2009 the Patenaude's are extremely thankful for...
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a new year filled with a deeper understanding of God's love for you!
Eric, Becca, Eva (4), Hope(2), and Esther(2 mos.)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Eva and Hope played at a friend's house all day (thanks, Gibsons!), but came storming in the door around 7:30 tonight. Hope's first words, "Mama? You're home?!?" Eva attacked me with a hug, then ran to smother Esther. Hope wanted to give Esther some big lovin' too, but Eva was sooooo protective of her time with her. She really, really wanted to be alone with Esther, and I could hear her whispering to her about how sweet she is and how much Eva missed her. I also overheard her say, "I bet you're glad to be back with us. Not with those noisy doctors and nurses!" Eva is probably right, but in defense of the "noisy" doctors and nurses, we had WONDERFUL caregivers. I was very pleased and impressed with all of their bedside manor and tenderness for the sick little babe.
No exagerating, after the snuggles, caressing, and laughing with the older girls, Esther finally seemed herself. She was more alert, smiling, and following the girls with her eyes as they ran around doing their thang. As a person from a small family (with my sister and I spaced 6.5 years apart), I am really amazed at how much of a bond my three have already. It's cool.
So, Esther's meningitis turned out to be viral. Caused by some unknown virus (perhaps hand, foot, and mouth which Hope had last weekend) that decided to settle in the lining of her brain. For now, she is happy and doing well. She does have a mild cold and her system will be recovering from the massive amounts of IV antibiotics she was on at the hospital (just a precaution in case the meningitis turned out to be bacterial). We leave for Christmas in Colorado in about a week and have out of town company for four days coming up, so we covet your prayers for our family. We are tired, the house is unkempt, and Esther's health is still on our minds. We are psyched for Ryan and Stephanie and Thor to visit, and psyched to head to Colorado, but still it is a little overwhelming. Pray for complete recovery for Esther and an extra measure of God's grace for me to be an effective home manager, wife, and mom over the next few weeks.
Such a minor blip as this (in the grand scheme of things...) has resulted in our family feeling incredibly loved! I had 99 emails in my inbox today (including facebook and blog comments), most of which were friends and family writing with encouraging words and offers to help us out. We have people bringing meals (thanks Wetzels and Fredricks!) and childcare lined up. Wow! We are so blessed. Thank you, everyone!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Just writing a quick note to let y'all know that Esther has been admitted at the University Children's with meningitis. They are unsure yet if she has viral meningitis or bacterial, but they are suspecting viral, which is a better scenario. Please pray for fast and complete healing for her! We were admitted late Saturday night after 24 hours or so of high fevers (103.7 with tylenol). I had actually taken her to the ER on Friday night because of the fever, and after running several tests, they sent us home to wait it out. When the fever didn't subside and she began to have "altered consciousness" we took her straight to the ER here at the U. They went ahead and did a spinal tap, revealing meningitis. At the earliest, we could be discharged on Tuesday sometime, but it could be longer too.
The doctors want to see her fever gone, no sign of bacterial causes, and her skin clear up (she has a rash all over) before they discharge. Please pray for this, and for no lasting complications. Meningitis can be really scary and messy, but the docs think this case will be pretty straight forward, so that is a relief!
We are so thankful for our family and church family who have offered TONS of help. The older girls are being well cared for at home. Tomorrow they'll have a Grandma Day with my mom. After two late nights in the ER and not getting settled into our room until about 4:30 this morning, I am pooped! Pray for me too ;).
Thanks for praying for little Esther!
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Friday, December 04, 2009
The snow has been l-a-z-y, falling for more than 24 hours with little more than a dusting. But since it is here at last, we'll forgive it's slow ways. Happy for me, after less than 15 minutes of zipping, snapping, Velcro-ing, and scarf tying the girls played peaceably outside for at least 20 minutes. That is a pretty good ratio of bundling up to time outdoors when you're working with a two and a four year old. Our new goal will be: better than 15:20 for the next outdoor adventure. I didn't venture off the front stoop, but I still managed to get some shots of cute snow bunnies!
The obligatory "you're finally all bundled up" photos.
Eating snow... when you're two, everything is perceived as a first time experience (what with no memories and all), so you try EVERYTHING!
The frolicking continued inside. Yes, they achieved this disaster all in one morning. I tell you, that floor was clear when they went to bed last night! Do you notice that Eva's sheets and mattress pad are even off?!? They were playing "travellers." That should tell you something about how we travel ;)!There's the little
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Yes, FIVE swim diapers, one on top of the other. :)
Ever since we've had children, I've sent a picture greeting card around Christmastime. You know, since I don't send birth announcements I figure I've got to do something to let everyone know that our brood is ever-increasing! Last year I made a valiant effort at frugality by making photo postcards at Kinkos. We saved a lot of money in the cost of the cards, but the savings on postage was pretty great too. I'll admit, the quality of the card wasn't awesome though.
That's why I am psyched for this year's Christmas card! Thanks to Carrie over at Pocket Your Dollars, I found out about Seehere.com, where they have a couple of great coupon codes. Go to the site and make a 4x8 holiday card. Enter the promo code newbaby at checkout and you'll receive 50 cards for only the price of shipping ($3.19 for me). Good deal, eh?!? If you want more than 50 cards, you can make a separate order and enter the promo code photocard which will give you 25% off the order. They also have a deal on that site for 100 free prints to new users (I'm assuming that would have to be your first order ever, so do this before ordering your photo cards).
Although I almost tore my hair out when I first started creating my photocard, after I figured out how to use the site I really like seehere.com. Your photo cards can be almost completely customized, unlike the cards you might order from Wal-mart or Target. Use as many pictures as you want with a wide range of clip art, text, backgrounds, etc. I will probably use this site again, now that I've figured out the software!
I hear jingle bells jingling and coins jangling (in your pocket of course, after you've saved so much on your holiday cards)!!!
Happy card making :)!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Yesterday, Esther was a little fussy as I was getting breakfast ready, sitting in her bouncer and waiting for her turn to eat. In sympathy, Eva sat down next to her and bounced her, which calmed the whimpering right away. In fact, I had to use a very stern voice to get Eva to actually leave the baby's side and come eat her own breakfast. She said, "but I don't like her to cry." Ohhhhh.
Immediately after breakfast, Eva ran to get some wooden blocks and sat down next to the bouncer again. Every time she sits down by Esther and starts talking to her, Esther's eyes get so alert and a crooked little smile lights up her face. Eva has discovered that all that singing, talking, and silly baby talk has the grandest reward ever when the little one actually beams you a happy smile. It is so, so, so fun to watch these two interact. I think that Eva gets more love from Esther than any of the rest of us.
Anyway, yesterday's game was baby soccer. Eva would take those little wooden blocks, hold them to Esther's pajama'd feet and say, "kick it, Esther!" at which point Eva would toss the block up in the air away from Esther's little toes. That would be followed by giggling (Eva), smiling (Esther), and lots of encouragement. "Good job, Esther! You'll be really good at this when you get bigger! Nice kick, Esther!"
I had to stop my puttering to watch the game and cheer along, it was so sweet. I am one proud soccer-mom!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
1. The camera is missing. Hopefully it will be found when we head home this week for Thanksgiving. We think Eric left it at his Dad's house when they went deer hunting a few weeks ago. I feel unable to enjoy the moment if I can't attempt to preserve it in digital format. Strange person, I am.
2. We have not had H1N1. We have had a run of the mill round of coughing and sore throats. Even poor little Esther experienced her first viral infection at the ripe old age of 6 weeks. She handled it gracefully (thanks be to God!), and we all pretty much better except for a lingering cough here and there. Nobody missed preschool or any other scheduled outing due to our illness, so it must not have been that bad. And to give it a positive spin, our well conditioned immune systems will probably be so strong that we won't get sick in Crookston during the upcoming long weekend.
3. When I said our lives were boring, I didn't really mean it. They are routine, but the routine was broken slightly last Sunday when we dedicated Esther. That was a fun day. The church was packed with the extended families of six or seven young children whose parents were promising to train them up in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Although we know that it is God who draws each one to himself and ultimately saves them, it is a solemn moment in which we dedicate ourselves, as parents, to the grand task of guiding our children towards the light of Christ. The children were prayed for, and the parents were prayed for that we might be able to portray the gospel and Jesus Christ as altogether lovely and desirable to our little ones. Lord, let that be so! I especially love the part where the pastor asks the rest of the church family if they will come along side the parents in this endeavor (in a few more and fancier words :). It is so affirming and reassuring to hear a hearty "we will" coming from the people you live life with throughout each week.
4. Following the dedication, we had a small gathering at our house. My parents and my sister and her family joined us for dinner and hanging out. The highlight, in my opinion, was the lovely chocolate cake with coconut-vanilla frosting.
5. Eva had a nice week of preschool. The theme this week was Thanksgiving, since we are taking next week off altogether. Her teacher on Thursday told with me a few fun things that Eva had shared during the day. First, she raised her hand in confusion and insistence regarding the pilgrims, "The Pilgrims were immigrants, right?" Well, sort of. "No, they WERE immigrants." Well, technically they were, I guess. After hearing about Abraham Lincoln declaring Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, Eva raised her hand (again), "George Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln." Thank you for sharing, Eva. The teacher told me that they then launched into an explanation of assassinating presidents, and (of course) how killing someone is a sin. During show and tell time, Eva introduced her little people doll house and the people who come with it (dressed in apparel and colors reminiscent of the late 1990's). The people, however, were introduced as "Pa, but his real name is Charles. And Ma, but her real name is Caroline. And Mary, Laura..." You get the idea. Have I mentioned that Eva is obsessed?!?!
6. We've missed Eric a lot lately. Between deer hunting weekend and many evening meetings at church, it seems like we haven't seem a lot of him. One night as he headed out the door, Hope had a total meltdown. She sat crying on the floor, probably kicking and writhing, though I don't rightly remember. Anyway, she quickly got up and, through her crying and screaming, managed to put on her shoes, socks, coat, and mittens to go out and "find Daddy". After I locked the screen door and it became apparent that she wouldn't get out, she stood at the door crying, "He's LOST, he's LOST, he's LOST..." over and over again. I said it was pitiful and sad, but my mom (who overheard the ordeal on the phone) said I should blog about it. So here I am blogging.
7. Eric was busy as a beaver today. After a big cup of coffee this morning, he suggested that we wash the windows. After washing every window in the house, inside and out, we had lunch. He also cleaned the gutters, raked the leaves, and worked on "real" work. Now he is playing poker with his buddies and it is a well deserved break!
8. I had a productive day too. After the window washing and cleaning up the backyard flower beds, Eva and I hit the mall. I purchased a shirt for her ($2.49), and a pair of cute jeans for me ($2.59), and a few other majorly discounted items. Any day is productive when you find brand new jeans for $2.59.
9. Now I must be productive and load the dishwasher, fold laundry, and make chili. Told you my life is boring. ;)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
But where did those fantastically modest frocks come from? Hope wore a dress and bonnet that was made for my sister in law when she was a child. She recently passed it on to Eva, and Eva might wear it out! Hope also sported a pinafore apron made by my grandmother for one of my young cousins and passed on to us. Her costume was completed by adorable little black pointy toe boots. Eva's and my dresses were sewn by a good friend of my family. She had four daughters, about my same age, and each summer we all attended "Old Time School" together, in a one-room school house, in our old time outfits. Our friend was gracious enough to unearth the dresses, shawls, boots, bonnets, and lunch pails that her girls had worn to school 20 years ago or more! Eric admittedly felt a little left out of the loop, as we threw his costume together (complete with nylon rope suspenders) the night of the party :(.
I don't know how Ma did it, wearing a bonnet and trying to keep track of her three little girls all the time! The radius of sight when that bonnet is snugly tied under your chin is really small! Right, Hope? Ahhh, now that's better!
And there's Half-Pint herself. Eva was in a make-believe paradise, in which all the adults called her Laura and she was allowed as many corn bread muffins as she could consume. To her, pioneer life is intoxicating, captivating, and all together perfect. I think it is the delightful combination of high adventure and simplicity intertwined with family life that make keep us coming back to those good 'ol days. To top it all off, we found out there were prizes to be won for the best costumes. A combination of pride and ecstasy slowly crept across Eva's face when they announced the winners for "best executed costume", the Ingalls Family!!! It took her half a second to realize that WE were the INGALLS family, but then she was all about the chocolates and coffee that we won! And here's Pa with his happy girls.
We weren't the only fun costumes at the party that night. Although I didn't get good pictures of everyone, there was also the Wetzel family, dressed as a small swarm of bees.And Becca L., came as an "extinct Northwest mechanic."
And Caleb and Kristie came as a cowboy and his princess. This picture was taken as Caleb tried his hardest to get Kristie to kiss him in front of other people. He succeeded! Jon H., voted least likely to ever dress up, surprised us all and came as an over-the-top tourist. He had it all: water sox, chapstik lanyard, foam visor, name tag, Hawaiian shirt, sunscreen nose, and last but not least FANNY PACK! Tonya complimented him in her turtle costume.
Joel and Erika were a pumpkin and it's guts. Mmmmm...Hope's buddy, Roman, was a cow.
And his mother was the most beautiful widow in mourning I've ever laid eyes on.
Did you want to see one last picture of little Hope in her prairie garb??? Me too!There she goes!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Of course, the subtle changes delight us too. We've seen your personality emerge more this year, and frankly, you've won us over. You are eternally cheerful, easily excited about all activities, and laugh off any insult. You are very emotional, and seem to have pretty good "EQ", often showing sympathy, sharing some one's joy, or simply observing the slight changes in some one's mood. Disciplining you isn't fun of course, but we find it to be very effective because of your sensitive nature. We always feel loved when you're around because of your sweet smile and soft, gentle eyes. It seems like others feel the same way too. We've been told over and over how much fun you are and how people are drawn to you. What a joy! ...Before any of us started singing, you burst into joyful, LOUD song, singing yourself "Happy Birthday" and ending with lots of clapping and laughing. You were so cute and funny that you sent Eva into fits of giggles...
You and Eva have had an especially important year, I think. A year ago, you two didn't really play together at all. As the year progressed, you started to show interest in her and joining her play. This, of course, was the beginning of some hard times. There were days when you two fought with each other tooth and nail, figuratively speaking (well, almost... :). You may be sweet, soft, and fun-loving, but you still like a piece of the action sometimes! No doubt, keeping up with your competitive and fast-paced older sister has required you to develop some backbone! However, despite all the little quarrels, these days you and Eva are completely dependent on each other and adore being together. You laugh at each other's jokes (simple and ridiculous as they are), go on all sorts of imaginary adventures together, and lovingly talk each other into eating your less favorite foods at dinner....After we all finally sang and you blew out your two candles...
Many nights Mom and Dad have to be rather strict with you two at bedtime since you love to "sing each other to sleep." We listen to you sing the Gospel Song, Isty Bitsy Spider, Jesus Loves Me, Trust in the Lord, and Mary Had a Little Lamb to each other, quietly sometimes and sometimes at the top of your lungs! Although this is of no real significance, each night at bedtime, regardless of the temperature, you insist on being smothered with as many blankets as we'll give you. Usually, that is four. And you keep them on until you fall asleep, then I find you kick them off, seeking some relief from the heat!
...opening some gifts with Eva's help at Grandpa and Grandma Spears' ...
We've had some hard times this year too. You weren't the healthiest kid ever, and I (mom) had to fight my worries about you. There was the infamous egg allergy reaction, which resulted in anaphalactic shock and a trip to the ER. There were also three solid months, December-February, of sickness for you. You rotated through various strains of stomach viruses, colds, fevers, and unconfirmed hepatitis A with no respite. You wouldn't even recover from one ailment before you would just transition to a new one. You and I were both exhausted after months of little sleep, lots of holding, and altogether yuckiness. Thankfully, your little immune system capitalized on that down time to (hopefully) make some major strides towards strength. The rest of the year has been basically healthy for you. Praise God!...Standing around with your friends Malachi and Hazel at the park waiting to go home. We had a lovely outdoor "friends" party planned, but the weather ended up being unseasonably windy and cold so we retreated to our house...
The summer was good for you- you loved swimming and playing in water, drawing with (and eating) sidewalk chalk, running around outside, and taking l-o-n-g afternoon naps. Some of your other favorite activities around the time of your birthday are playing dress-up as Mary Ingalls or a princess, caring for your babies, driving the blue car outside, playing "peoples" (little people), and tickling and wrestling with Daddy or Eva. You will sit and look at picture books for 45 minutes by yourself, and who knows how long you would listen to us read to you! Truthfully, you like pretty much any activity, especially active ones.
...blowing out the candles with help from Hazel and Eva at our "friends" party...
Well little one, there's much more to say than I could ever write in a letter. We are thankful for you, blessed by your smiley face, and eager to watch you grow. Sometimes I wish I could just bottle up your squishy body and innocent giggle and keep you small forever. But then I know we would miss out on all the wonderful things God has in store for you in the next year! Happy Birthday, Hope!With love and prayers,
Mom and Dad
Friday, October 30, 2009
"Baby E" is generally very content and relaxed, no problems with car rides for this one... But after all, she is a baby and occasionally seizes the opportunity to behave as such!
As I mentioned, we've had a constant flow of visitors, some of whom I've already documented. It was a special treat, though, for my grandparents from Colorado to fly in this week. I guess they couldn't stay away after the baby boom in our family this fall! Here is Esther with her Great-Grandma Knudtsen.
And her Great-Grandpa Knudtsen. I'm pretty sure he was happy to give her right back this time!
Now this is more typical... just chillin' out on the couch and dozing off just about anywhere you put her down. We're not sure about her eye color yet. They're black-ish right now, but every once in awhile they hint at blue. That would be fun!
Starting to get tired (again). Some fun facts about Esther at 4 weeks old:
Weighed 10 pounds, 3 ounces a few days ago - Wearing size 1-2 diapers and 0-3 month clothes - We've gotten a handful of real smiles in the past few days. Yay! I've been waiting for this all month! - Nurses approximately every 2.5-3 hours during the day, and no longer has to be woken up for every feeding - Takes about 6 naps a day lasting about an hour - Loves to be held and stare at faces - Has a gassy gut EVERY night between 9 pm and midnight. Fortunately I'm learning that if I drink a cup of chamomile tea before nursing her at night, the problem is avoided! - Sleeps on her back - Typically sleeps about 6-7 hours at night before waking to eat -Prefers to be held facing out or in the "cradle" hold - Has a few hints of baby acne, and has been bathed a scant three times in her life - Enjoys riding in the Baby Bjorn - Still has LOTS of dark shiny hair with a hint of red in it - Is very patient and relaxed with her sisters who love to hold, cuddle, kiss, and hug her all day long.
Now, an interview with her oldest sister:
Mom: Tell me about Esther.
Eva: I love her (big, happy sigh). And I think that she's nice, too. And I love her this much (holding her arms waaayyy out).
Mom: What did you tell me about how she smells?
Eva: Her head smells like breast milk and her hands smell like cheese.
Eva: And I love her very much!
This is the end of my story, so that's all about Esther at four weeks old. We're off to ready ourselves for a Harvest party tonight. Stay tuned for pics of this dressed up family soon! Any guesses at our costumes???