Merry Christmas, Part 2

Since we were out of town on the official Christmas Day, we got to celebrate Christmas with the Rhea side of the family a few weeks later! 

We did something new this year and it was a huge hit!  We had a Christmas breakfast complete with pancakes, sausage (veggie and real ;)), and orange juice – YUM!  Larry kept the grill going and the pancakes coming.  Then we exchanged gifts and opened presents and just enjoyed being together.  Our camera's battery was dead that day so thankfully Denise has shared all these great photos with us – Thanks Mamaw! 

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Pancakes for everyone!

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Clara and Sophie had a BALL hiding behind the curtain…Clara was just following Soph and Aidan around trying to do everything they were doing!

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I think this picture is SO cute…

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Mamaw made – yes, MADE (wow!!) – matching outfits for the kids….they were sooooooooooooo cute!!!  We tried to get a pic of the three of them but you can imagine how that goes with 3 under 5… 

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Opening presents…we were all so blessed!!

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Clara giving a gift to Sophie…or stealing one…can't really tell and both equally likely 😉

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Aunt Kari excited about the DVDs we gave her…

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Aidan is GOOD at puzzles -WHOA! 

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the cousins playing together :)

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Great-Grandma Rhea and Great-Mema Tallant…the best!!

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Merry Christmas!!

My Trip to the Hospital

 From December 8th until December 12th, I was at Children's Medical Center hospital with  a severe case of RSV.  Or bronchiolitis caused by RSV.  Something like that.  I let the adults figure all that stuff out, I just know I felt like JUNK!  It was so hard to breathe.  We had quite an adventure!

Mom and Dad took some pictures while we were there.  I thought you might want to see them…

Here we are in the ER at Legacy in Plano.  My nose is bloody because they kept suctioning it with a big ol' machine to open up my airways. YUCK!

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Mom and Dad were amazed at what a trooper I was!  We were there for hours!  I kept falling asleep on Dad's chest.  Here I am just chillin' on my bed…

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They kept putting this big fish that had wet air coming out of his mouth up to my face.  He was funny looking!  After four of these "breathing treatments", I still wasn't responding and it was getting harder for me to breathe, so they admitted me to the hospital.  I guess those fish just don't work on me!  

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We were transported to Children's Medical in Dallas because they
didn't have any room at Legacy.  Here I am on the stretcher.  What an adventure!!

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Then we got on an ambulance.  They let me watch a movie!  That was the best part! 
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I guess my oxygen got pretty low on the trip, so they put some tubes up my nose and I started getting supplemental oxygen.  Mommy and Daddy were so grateful for the awesome paramedics! 

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We finally got there and settled by 2 a.m.  Whew!  I was tired!  And not feeling great…mom said the only good thing about all of this was how much I wanted to be held!  It sure felt good to cuddle in mom or dad's arms.  Especially when the nurses and doctors came in because I got SO scared of them!  Here we are in the hospital over the next few days…  The doctor and nurses were taking good care of me and helping me get better, and making sure I didn't get any worse. 

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Can you believe this was the first time I was ever sick?!  I really did it up, huh?!  I was pretty miserable…I hope I don't have to go through that ever again!

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Getting the IV in my hand was the worst part -especially since they had to replace it the next day in my other hand!  Those ladies just couldn't seem to find my vein…they were holding me down and I was crying and I raised my free arm up and did the sign for "all done" but it still took awhile before they stopped.  The IV sure helped me feel a little better though!  The IV wasn't as bad as the nose suctioning, just because they did that a lot more.  boy, I did NOT like that part.  I got all the strawberries I wanted, though…that was the best part about the hospital!

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Mom and Dad were there the whole time.  Guess they just couldn't leave me! 

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When Papi visited he let me play with his tie, and he was being really silly!  I smiled for the first time in a few days, and that made everyone smile really big. 

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They kept this sensor thingy taped to my toe to keep track of my oxygen level.  They were scared I might get tired of breathing or something since it was so hard to breathe, so that always let them know when it was dipping too low!  I liked it because it glowed red- we called it my "Rudolph Toe". 

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Mom and I took a nap together…

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Everyone had to wear these masks when they came in.  They looked kinda funny! Thanks, Aunt Krissy and Mimi, for bringing Mom and Dad things from home…they were getting kinda stinky. 

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Some of my friends came and visited me, which really cheered me up (and I think mom and dad really appreciated it, too- especially all the food!)!  Here is Miss Julie.  Aunt Krissy, Mimi, Papi, Suzanne, Kim, Pastor Gary, the Harrells, Melissa and Ashton, Melissa and Addison, Michelle, Jill, Jennifer and Kylie also came.  It was so thoughtful!  Mom kept saying that God was showing us such tender mercy and she felt supernatural strength from Him through all of the encouragement and prayers dear people kept giving us. 

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This was my room for that week…

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Pastor Gary always makes me smile!  He prayed for us and mom and dad and that really meant a lot. 

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I was feeling a lot better by the end and was starting to want to play and run around again.  Mom and Dad were so happy!  I still got tired really easy, though.  They wanted me off of oxygen for 24 hours before they would let me go home.

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I got some very sweet cards and fun new animals (which I gave giant kisses to) and toys that really cheered me up! 

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My friends Pierson and Will painted me pictures! 

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Friday afternoon I was all better and ready to go home – yay!! 

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Here is one of the flowers someone gave me, and it reminds me of what our time in the hospital reminds us – life is beautiful and precious.  We're so grateful that I'm fine and I'm going to be fine. ok, I'll admit it.  My mom wrote that last part, not me :)

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Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas celebrations began on the night of the 19th with gift openings with the Swasko clan…here is Clara with her very first present.  It turned out to be a toothbrush! 

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target shooting and ghost wars – what a combo! 

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Clara got her very own chair from Aunt Krissy and Uncle Eric – what fun!

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and Brian's favorite gift…a make-your-own-beer kit!  this should be interesting…

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We finished packing and got in the car…for Colorado!  We decided to drive through the night to make it easier on Clara.  At midnight it turned to December 20th…and our five year anniversary! WOW!!  5 years with my best friend and hero…words can't describe how deeply grateful I am to God for giving me Brian, and me to Him.  I know I don't deserve him and yet he loves me anyway.  He is the most amazing husband and father imaginable and I can't wait for the next 50 years!

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It got COLD!  you can see here it is only 7 degrees!  it stayed in that range the whole week.

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our little angel sleeping…almost there!

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yeah, the last hour was really ROUGH!

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Here Clara is about to walk in and touch snow for the very first time in her life!  how exciting!

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we weren't going overboard with excitement or anything…there's only 3 cameras and 4 adults in this picture afterall…

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whoa!  there she goes!!

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and she likes it!!

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Clara had lots of great things to keep her warm (thanks Jones' and Lindsay's!)…including her little deer suit from Aunt K and Uncle E…sooooooo cute! 

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we got to play lots and lots!

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Going sledding!  See Brian with his legs up in the air??

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The champion sledder!!  they were having contests to see who could go the farthest the fastest…  and Dad won farthest…but I beat Brian at fastest! YES!

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Clara liked walking around as soon as she got the hang of it…its not near as easy as normal ground!                        

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the whole fam!  our toes were turning to ice at this point…

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relaxing!  this is what I spent most of the week doing…reading the Twilight Saga!

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lots of NCAA on XBOX…Brian taught me how to play and I was really getting into it! I also brought "Dummies Guide to Football" because I am determined to FINALLY learn how it all works.  I think Brian was kinda surprised at things I was learning…I've done a good job of faking it for a long time. 

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Clara got this precious plastic nativity play set from her great-aunt SuSu and great-uncle Birdy.  The whole week we would tell her the story of the first Christmas using it and she loved playing with it!  She learned where Mary and Jesus went and could put them in place.  She would also walk around the house with Mary and Jesus and sucking on their heads…and giving them big kisses!  Here she is giving Jesus a kiss.  Talk about bringing tears to a mommy's eyes! 

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Cooking!  We were basically snowed in most of the week so we all took turns and had fun cooking up Swasko-worthy feasts!

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Christmas Tradition…all the girls watching "White Christmas".  It was Clara's first time to join in and that REALLY brought tears to my eyes! 

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Watching one of my all time favorite scenes – "Sisters".  My sister and I must have re-enacted that 400 times when we were little…

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Clara thought it was soooooooo funny to put on any of the adult gear.  Someone would put it on her in one of the bedrooms and say, "Go show everyone!" and she would laugh and toddle out all proud, just waiting on the reaction.  It was so funny how much she knew she was being funny and silly. 

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She also had a nativity book that she loved to read!  I fervently believe that people are never too young to be able to know and connect to God…even if they don't understand it as fully or deeply as they one day will.  God can speak to anyone!  One of my most ardent prayers for her is that one day, she won't be able to remember a time that she didn't love God, or know that He loves her completely, unreservedly and unconditionally. 

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Back out in the snow!  Like Mom's "Snow-Blob"?

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We shoveled out a path down to the lake…I have never ever seen so much snow in my life!!  They usually get an average of 19" the whole month of December, and in six days they got 37"! 

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Giving Aunt Krissy a kiss!

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Brian and I up to our waists in snow!

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He just dunked me, so I'm going after him!

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and yet…what was I thinking??  He got me again!  See my feet sticking out before I'm buried?! 

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buried in snow!

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view of the balcony…the snow is up to the window!

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happy 5 years!

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Brian, Eric and Kristi went skiing one day. (they wanted to go more, but because of the snow storms, the road up the mountain was only open one day!)  They had SO MUCH FUN!!  It was pure powder EVERYWHERE which made it a really different experience than they had ever had.  There weren't many people there and they got to do lots of different trails and try lots of new things.  I'm glad I didn't go because it was below 0 most of the day and I HATE the cold! 

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Brian is one of those black figures…I think the one at the top about to come down!

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Christmas Morning!  Clara got a stocking full of treats!

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But of course…the thing she wanted most was the banana!  (it is the first thing she goes for, as you can see here)  I wonder how many years she'll go for the fruit over the candy or toys??! I'm thinking those days are limited!

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a microphone – woohoo!

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on a walk…

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Sled Train!!

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There is a picnic table  near the house by the lake… my, Kris and I walked out to it so we could jump off and into the snow!  Here we are standing on the table…

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Jumps and Fall!

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Just to show how much snow we had gotten in just a few days, here is a picture of Eric doing the same thing in the same place a few days prior.  And other years we've been there, there have just been a few inches on the ground, so you can see MOST of the table and benches.  Craziness! 

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Family Picture!  Christmas 2008

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Watching the sunset….

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Singing Chrismast Carols…another family tradition!

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Eating at Farrago's…favorite in Pagosa!  mango and goat cheese quesadillas, portabella sandwich…yum!  and local pumpkin beer!

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playing with Papi and all his cool lights…

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Our House…Eagle's Loft #7051

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Clara loved going up to the loft and throwing things off…hopefully this will not transfer back home!

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Clara finding new places to perch…

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view of the mountains from the living room

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now driving home… because of the conditions, we had to go back during the day on the way home – I'm sure you can tell why!  It was all white for the first few hours, but the matrix did great!  What a great Christmas!

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December

We rounded out the year with a quick December!

Clara loves loves loves playing outside.  All day long she runs to the back sliding door or the front door and taps on it whining.  She'll even find her shoes and bring them to you and look up with big, beautiful pleading eyes that are just begging, "please will you put my shoes on and take me outside?"  After the very first time that we left our back gate to take a walk in the woods, every time she goes into the backyard she automatically runs (toddles) over to the gate and starts pulling at it. So out we go into the woods and the trails through there…

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Down the trail we go!

whoa…gotta check something out…

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She wants to see and explore everything!

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Clara also loves playing on her little fort that Mimi and Papi gave her for her birthday.  She can climb and crawl and slide all over it!  Thanks Mimi and Papi for so much fun!

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There are little openings all over it and she laughs and laughs poking her hand through them.

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Early in December was the Women's Christmas Dinner at IBC.  For the first year I didn't decorate a table but just went and enjoyed.  It was so fun to get to spend a special night with such special girls! 

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with beautiful Kim, a kindred spirit and woman I adore and look up to above almost all others.  She inspires me in every area of my life…

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and my bestie Suze…an amazing mommy, friend and woman of God! 

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The following weekend was the annual Village Christmas Party.  It was the first time we didn't have the babies while we were all together!  It was such a fun night with great food, good AND terrible gifts, and lots of laughs…  there was only one problem. 

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YUM

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Jill gets her award…she deserved it.

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Since Brian and I didn't put up a Christmas tree, we had to take a picture in front of the Rhode's tree :)

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So the problem was…while we there, Clara was sick at home with Aunt Krissy and Uncle Eric.  We had no idea she was as sick as she was and we felt HORRIBLE!  When we got home she had a temperature of 103.5.  That was a long night, and poor Clara was miserable.  She continued to get worse and by Monday night she was admitted to the hospital, but that is a story for another post! Here is one pic…

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Life basically stopped for 2 weeks while we were in the hospital and then while Clara recovered at home (I was terrified to take her out anywhere after we got her home because her immune system was so depleted).  But the other highlights of the month were my mommy group Christmas party, which was basically Kim blessing all of us with the most thoughtful night and gifts, an Early Childhood Ministry Christmas party at Gary's house, which was fun to get to just "hang out" with good friends and volunteers without all of the craziness of Sunday, and the "Grand Opening" party for the Harrell's light show, which kicked off the "Christmas Season" with lots of cheer and special reminders of what the season is all about. 

Here is the little bean trying on her dad's shoes…she LOVES shoes – her own and others'.  She is always wanting to try on a new pair!

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A few months ago I blogged about her love for putting her bucket on her head and walk around.  This wasn't a one time or even one-week deal.  It is an all the time obsession.  She loves being a bucket head!

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It's funny when she tries to go into her fort with it…she can't figure out why she can't get in and just keeps banging her head trying to walk in! 

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Then it was time for Christmas!  That will be a separate post, too.

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Clara added a few words to her vocabulary – "hi" and "snow".  She hasn't said "snow" since she was surrounded by it, so I don't know if that still counts, but I'm going for it.  She really drags out the "hiii-eee" and it is sweet.  She eats and eats and eats – it is crazy how much that little girl can put away!  It isn't unusual for her to have an entire can of pears (or peaches, etc.) and a peanut butter sandwhich and a thing of yogurt and a cup of steamed veggies for lunch.  I've looked up several times just to make sure that is ok and it is!  She completely stopped using bottles and went to sippy cups 100% of the time.  She began a complete obsession with bananas…she would eat 100 a day if she could.  Brian seriously looked into planting a banana tree in the backyard, just to save us a trip to the grocery store every other day! (we try and limit her to 2 a day) She calls them "baaa"s.  She knows where we keep them (even when we move them to a new hiding spot) and will go there with her hand reaching up just repeating, "Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba".  She also really loves chairs – especially little ones that she can sit in.  She drags things around that she might be able to plop down on and goes for it! 

YAY December!