Tuesday, December 22, 2009

His Happy Place

A huge milestone passed in the Bird house, and not unnoticed. I just have not had time to sit down and do it blog justice. In the meantime, I found this pix from the preschool party.

I call it Big Boy Bookends, Bryce's Happy Place.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

He missed the MEMO.

I asked Kayden to get dressed for preschool on Monday. Apparently he missed the MEMO that it is winter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What to do with a Snow Day?

We took some time organizing a craft project for the fourth graders this week.
And then working on Christmas Gifts for a few others:

The supplies.
A few jars, some ribbons, hot glue, bells.
Oh, and LOTS of candy:-)

and leftover candy that is now gone.

Snow days for us are an unexpected treat. It is like getting a bonus Saturday in the middle of the week. My house is clean, I got to craft, I moved some things into the apartment for the Burmese refugees.... I even got to take a nap!

I {heart} snow days.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Brycer Update

We went yesterday to our final Pediatric Hemotology appointment.

Get this- Bryce is completely back to normal! Praise the Lord! His hemoglobin is 11.5, which is right where it should be.

Oh, how wonderful it has been to watch him get better.

  • We have watched our child who never wanted to get down wander off with excitement.
  • A full inch and one pound has been added in three weeks. Clothes that have fit him for an entire year are starting to get small.
  • Eating is now something he does gladly.
  • No more cardboard books!
  • Walking is now put aside for running and jumping and causing mischief of one kind or another.
  • His heart looks great and is beating normally.

He is a new kid.

The only bad side effect of iron is that his teeth have been stained completely gray. It bums me out, but is a small price to pay for a healthy baby.

The plan is to get his iron stores back up over the next three months and then he should be finished with iron.

This picture is blurry, but it represents Bryce these days. Active, Active, Active.

Chasing Cali, his favorite pastime.

Next stop- trying to get him to stay in nursery:-)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Does this kid know me, or what?

Our daily schedule is a bit different than a "normal family" in that I almost never put our kids to bed.

It was decided long ago that I would begin work around that time, and Josh would take over the nightly duties of brushing teeth, reading stories, finding Dylan the dog, and tucking in.

Each night after being tucked in, Kayden will sneak down to the computer and ask me to come up to tell him a story and promises one in return. Knowing full well it is his way of stalling, I often concede. There is something sacred about bedtime. The truth of what is going on inside his head and heart always come to the surface in the darkness of his room. Vulnerabilities are disclosed, so I hate to miss that special time.

The story he desires could be anything. A certain toy he played with that evening and when it was purchased, the last time he spent the night at Grandmas, something that happened between Bryce and him.

I always start my story with "One there was a little boy named Kayden, and he....."

At the end of my third tale, I ask him to tell me his story as promised. He habitually shirks responsibility, and promises indulgance another evening.

Tonight, however, he obliged.

"One, there was a big girl named Mommy, who loved to buy clothes from Gymboree and take lots of pictures of Kayden."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

First snow

The Snow brought mixed reviews.
Kayden loved the snow and could have stayed out all night.
Bryce, not so much.
If you know Josh even a little bit, you know his feelings about snow.
I love the first snowfall, and think snow is great until January 1. After that, Janurary to April is a LONG stretch for me.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Standing in line at Subway today, I was contemplating what the various mattress sizes are and how big each one is respectively, and the most wonderful thing happened. More on that later.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out or keep straight the various sizes of beds. I fully remember the Single, the Queen, and King, but the other sizes in there get me every time.

Is a full bigger than a double? What about the twin, where does that fit in?

Back to Subway.

The lady in front of me gave me a big grin and said "Merry Christmas!!", and the two cashiers were smiling and looking at me. Almost as if they were waiting on me to say something. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable, what with four people staring and looking happily at me.

"Did I miss something?" I asked.

"That lady just paid for your sub!" said the cashier.

It made me feel good. Really good. Someone I do not know doing something for me for no other reason than to be nice.

Random Acts of Kindness. It made my day, honestly.

And then I thought of many of you doing the same thing.

As most of you know, the Social Action and Relief Committee is sponsoring a Burmese family. They are set to arrive December 9. I cannot imagine leaving everything I have ever know to fly to another country in which I did not speak the language. So many of you have donated items or gone to the store to pick up supplies for them. I know they will feel like I did today- loved by people they don't even know. It is a blessing to be a part of this story.

Matthew 25:40 The King will answer them "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

You Better Watch Out

Santa Claus is coming to Town.....errrr, my dad's work.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Meet Cali

Eight weeks old and tons of energy.
The boys love her already. All three of them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The thrill of the hunt

Yonkers at 4am, Walmart at 5am, Target, Kohls, and Meijers all before 8....

Great times.

I feel like Black Friday gets a bad wrap. Where else can you meet all sorts of people with nothing to do but kill time and talk about their great deals? In line, of course!

The crazy fighting (as evidenced in Walmart electronics), seeing friends old and new, finding that $70 product available for $25...for me, it is all good fun.

Call me crazy, but I love it. I am dutch, after all.

It is in our blood, right?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Birthday

Because blogger stinks and I do not want to take all that time to move them to the bottom of this post, I give you Bryce....

This kid is turning into a royal teaser. Can you tell?
For this post, I would like to submit the Things I Learned on My Birthday:
Referring to it as the first anniversary of my 30th birthday doesn't really make it better.
It pays to have a future SIL in hotels.

This guy is awesome...well, you only see his shoes in this picture, but I am sure that is the way he prefers it. They are very important, don't you know.

Sleeping is near non-existent when balloons are present.

There are some crazies in We Mich, as evidenced by the guy who tried to put me on the line with Jesus. Funny, I did not imagine Jesus having a 464 number.
Pink cakes are fun.
The old trick for getting gum out of your hair with peanut butter really works.
Being healthy is the best present I could ask for.

and finally having 19 kids on your basketball team, 3 score keepers, a manager, and 2 water boys makes for a LOOOONNNNGGGG bench..... and lots of kids to keep track of.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random Tidbits

Oh, that hair!
We are two weeks from the second biggest scare of his short life, and this kid continues to amaze.

I have noticed a big change in his activity level. Yesterday, I even walked out of the room without him crying. Can't remember that ever happening before. I would not say our cardboard books are safe, but going to the library might not be lunch anymore; just a snack.

At 8.8, he is now only considered moderately anemic, but I am sure he will breeze right into normal very soon.

Just in time for our newest addition....

Nope, not that kind of addition. We are giving Kayden a new puppy for Christmas. After Tia died last summer, I knew we would want another one eventually. We went to look at her on Sunday and will pick her up around Thanksgiving.

Oh, and call me crazy, but I am chomping at the bit to put up my Christmas decorations! My neighbor has candles in the window and it looks so cozy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

To Build a Bear is fun

but running around in the mall and throwing your new puppy at your brother is so much better!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The most peculiar thing has been happening around here lately.
Perhaps it has happened to you.

This morning, we were in the usual rush to get to school. I have all morning, yet somehow the minutes tick by until we are in an all out panic to eat lunch and brush teeth before heading out the door.

It was a particularly difficult morning to begin with. I woke up to a bag of chocolate chips strewn all over the counter and play doh being smashed in my carpet. By the time each boy took a bath and got me appropriately drenched in water, I knew we were already in trouble with the time.

I asked Kayden to brush his teeth.

Kayden: "I don't want to brush my teeth, mom."

Me: "Well, brush them anyway, K. Your teeth need a good cleaning after all the Halloween candy you have eaten."

Kayden: " When I am an adult, I am never going to brush my teeth. I will let them go all day without brushing them."

Before I knew it, out of my mouth came the strangest thing. Spoken in the same tone and with the very inflection my mother used, "When you are a grown up, you can do whatever you like. However, while you are in my house, you will abide by my rules."

I almost shrieked in horror. How many times growing up did I swear I would never say that to my child? I would be the cool mom that let them do whatever they want.

Have I mentioned parent teacher conferences are this week? Makes for a long couple of days with the boys.

Kayden got a new Hot Wheels track for his birthday, and it kills Bryce to be in the playroom and not able to play with it too. The fighting always ensues, though, because Bryce's playing involves wrecking some part of the track. Whether he collapses a ramp or unhooks the connector...it is inevitable that they cannot play with it without fighting. Errr.....screaming at each other.
The very same day that I astoundingly came to the conclusion that I was turning into Jan and Dale, I caught myself yelling "Can I just have ONE minute without fighting? PLEASE. ONE minute where you pretend to love each other."

The self realization that I am, in fact, turning in to Jan and Dale is humbling indeed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I am....






After a rough few nights this past weekend (crying for two hours + each night), we got labs back today.

Hemoglobin Between 2-3.5 (Normal 11-15)
Retic Count 50 (Normal 40-100)
*Retic count shows how many new red blood cells are in development. Baby hemoglobin, if you will

Hemoglobin 5.1
Retic Count 345!!!!

I am thrilled.

The iron supplement is nasty and smelly, but it is working! Praise God!

Friday, November 06, 2009

High Hopes

I guess my expectations were too high.

After seeing Bryce so healthy and happy yesterday, I naively thought we were on the mend.

He was livelier than I have seen him in months, and was starting to show some color. I figured he would gradually grow stronger and better, and this weekend we would see a whole new Bryce.
Have I mentioned Patience is not one of my virtues?

Today we were back to whining, clinginess, and lots of crying. I could just tell he did not feel good. His heart was beating really fast, and the color I was sure that I saw yesterday is all but gone.

Two steps forward, one step back, right? I guess this sign should be upside down, but you get the point.

For now, we will continue with the iron supplements and limiting his milk intake to 20 ounces a day. Hopefully, tomorrow will again be better!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

How is he doing?

I am amazed and in awe of how loved we have felt in the last few days. We are humbled that so many people were praying for our little guy. It means the world to us.

I believe he is feeling better today. All the sudden, he is venturing out and grabbing toys and trying to run after Kayden. I even am starting to see some color return to his lips! Praise God!

The Hemotologist said that Bryce will be a different boy when his iron levels start coming up. She joked that one day I will call her and ask to have my sick baby back since he will be full of energy once his body is not working so hard. I am not sure that will be the case, but this is a new side to Bryce I have not seen. He even was rocking on the horse so hard it flipped over. Certainly Refreshing.

We are overjoyed and will continue to keep you updated as we get results back. Thank you for the e-mails and calls. We feel so loved and supported!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Everything you've never wanted to know about anemia

Yesterday was Bryce's 18 month well-baby appointment. The issues I have been having with Bryce :
  • he eats through cardboard books like they are hamburgers. Seriously....this kid loves paper/ cardboard books. He chewed through the entire spine of a book the other day.
  • really puffy/dark under eye circles
  • severe separation anxiety- to the point where he does not even want me to set him down. He screams and cries and wants to be held all the time
  • seems to not be growing all that well. He has hardly gained a pound in almost a year
  • his walking is still real tipsy

Dr Kruggel thought he looked really pale, so she ordered a blood test to see what his iron level was. Normal children have a level of around 11-15, anything between 8 - 11 is considered anemic. Bryce's test came back at a 3, so she actually thought the machine was broken. "It has to be broken. If his iron levels were at a three, he would be laying on the floor lethargic, not walking around,"she said. We were sent to the lab to get a full blood screeen (CBC) and an accurate iron level count.

Around 8 pm last night, Dr. Kruggel called our house to let me know that there was not enough blood drawn so the CBC test was unreadable. His iron level came back at a 2.

*Anemia is where the red blood cells in your body are low, and this is usually due to some disease or deficiency. The job of red blood cells, for those of you like me that do not know:-), is to carry oxygen to your tissue and organs.

The three main reasons your red blood count would be low are 1) if your body destroys red bloods cells, like with sickle cell anemia or thalassemia 2) with severe blood loss or 3) failure to produce red blood cells due to high levels of an iron deficiency, certain types of leukemia, or lead poisoning. Dr. Kruggel thought that his levels were too low to just be related to nutrition and lack of iron in his diet. Something else was wrong....but what?

I spent the entire night watching Bryce wondering what.

This morning we went to the lab bright an early to get a rush on new blood work. 10am the blood was sent to the lab for diagnosing. By 11, the doctor had already called us to let us know Bryce needed to go to DeVos to see a hematologist immediately.

The Hematology department is joint with the pediatric oncology department, so I must say I was very overwhelmed immediately upon arrival seeing the various patients going through chemotherapy. Most of them under five years of age. They took Bryce for more blood work, and by this point both baby and mom were in tears.

We finally got to meet with the hematologist after a few hours, and there was good news and bad news. Since Bryce does not have any other symptoms of leukemia, she did not think it was that. Which is a HUGE praise, because that was one of my biggest fears. Mom Worry took over last night, and the extremely low red blood cell counts made me wonder what the heck was going on. It still can not be completely ruled out without a bone marrow biopsy, but for right now they do not think it is leukemia.

The bad news is that his body is lacking so much iron that his heart is compromised. It is working way too hard right now. The hematologist said that if we would not have caught it, within the next two weeks, she is certain he would have had total heart failure. His heart rate is extremely high and a heart murmor was detected.

He is losing blood in his stool, so that is also cause for concern.

She also said that should have have even a minor accident- falling down or really any situation in where he started bleeding-it is very likely that he would not survive it. He just does not have the reserves to fight it.

The body is an amazing, incredible thing though. The doctor said that normally someone with an iron level as low as Bryce-y-Boys would be lethargic, so this must have started about six months ago and his body has adjusted to it over time. For him to be walking and talking and playing with such a compromised system is incredible.

I was told that all of the things I described- the lack of growing, eating cardboard, pale complexion which I thought was allergies but is really because his blood is so thin, the separation anxiety---all of them should start to get better (hopefully!). He just has felt miserable for so long without any of us knowing it.

I could play the what if game forever, but needless to say I am very thankful we brought him in when we did. The next week is critical- he needs to get iron in his system and stay clear of other illness. We should know more on Tuesday when we run more blood work. We can expect a lot of blood tests in the future and much monitoring to make sure his heart is getting better and stronger. I will be avoiding germs and accidents at all costs, to say the least!

Thank you for praying for Bryce. I would love your continued prayers, as his little heart is working overtime right now. Please pray that the iron supplements work and he starts to feel better. Thanks:-)

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Inspired by Cara's post, I surveyed the pumpkins we bought three weeks ago.

Today was the afternoon, and carve we did.

Josh carved his a la Sam Crow style, I opted for the pattern, and K went freestyle.

I also tried out the "Martha version", which looks cute finished.

About an hour after we cleaned everything up, Josh called me into the kitchen.

"We have a pumpkin murderer amongst us."

Friday, October 23, 2009


There are perks being a teacher's wife.

For example, when I need a word spelled correctly or a math sum added, I know I can count on Josh to give me the answer. Very important for calculating if the shirt at $16.99 with 20% off is a better deal than the $19.99 shirt at 40%.

All joking aside, I can barely add without a calculator. It's pathetic.

A few other perks:

Each day before going to preschool, Kayden requests to "peek in on Daddy", which consists of running to the door and slyly leaning around the wall and into the classroom until he sees Josh.

Being able to pick his buddies

Catching moments like this on the playground.

Being there when this little girl had cotton candy for the first time.

June, July, and August aren't a half bad perk either!