Tuesday, December 27, 2011

He can do it!!

He's getting so close!

Merry Christmas!

A few photos from Christmas morning...

Santa left us a few goodies...including presents from St Louis.

Andrew loved the snacks in his stocking.
James is still unsure of presents...

In their Christmas best.

A couple of family shots. Andrew decided pants were optional.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

Sometimes I can hardly believe that it's December and that December is half over. It's been a long time since I've felt like time has flown. Dave and I started out the year by deciding to move to Lake Charles, Louisiana. The decision was done and the move made by the end of January. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the people here and getting involved in the community.

We have become members at a fantastic church that has been our gateway to feeling a part of life here. Dave has been active on the church's softball team, while I have volunteered in the nursery and taught the 3rd & 4th grade Sunday school class. We attend growth groups regularly on Wednesdays which has allowed us to make some great friends and grow in Christ. We are both going to play on the indoor soccer team that just started :)

We've also been able to get to know people through Dave's work: PPG. The ladies he works with have a monthly dinner out and are kind enough to include me. It's always nice to get away for a few hours. They also have a great family association that we are involved in. We've attended a crawfish boil, an Easter egg hunt, a trunk or treat, and a fabulous family day among other events through this association. We even competed in a kickball tournament! We always jump at the chance to do something fun and semi-structured with the boys.

Lake Charles and the surrounding areas host a number of festivals; the long summers, early springs and late winters make great festival weather! Since Dave and I love festivals, we have taken advantage. LC holds the second largest Mardi Gras Festival in Louisiana, so we couldn't miss that. It goes on for several days; we loved the gumbo cook-off and the children's day festivities. This year we also visited Contraband Days, a Mayhaw Festival, a Rice Festival, Sulphur Heritage Days, and the Moss Bluff Festival. I think I'm forgetting a few others too. James always loves the big slides. I'm sure Andrew will be right there with him next year!

We took our first family vacation in November to San Antonio, TX. We did all the touristy stuff and made time for the outlet malls. It was a great trip! (You can see an earlier post for all the details and pictures).

Mostly this year, we have just enjoyed being a family and watching the boys grow. James is so close to walking and saying his first words; it'll be right around the corner. He has begun clapping and is quick to celebrate any little accomplishment he or Andrew have. Andrew is walking and getting into everything. He is going to try our patience in a way that James never has. They are just starting to show an interest in playing together...they have completely different styles of play so I think there are going to be a lot of battles to break up in my future. In case you are wondering, James is a very organised player (like his mommy) where Andrew is more of the search and destroy type (like most little boys).

As far as health goes, James had two hospital stays (pneumonia) but no surgeries this year. We are hoping and praying his little body keeps getting stronger and no more surgeries are necessary! His specialists are very encouraged by the progress he's made this year. Andrew seems to be healthy as a horse (and he eats like one too!). He has gotten a few colds but has only been to see the doctor once for a sick visit. Dave and I both passed our annual blood tests, which is always reassuring. I guess the red wine is working! :)

We tried hard this year to enjoy the present and that will continue to be our family goal. We want to soak up the moments we have together and enjoy life as it happens. With that said, I still have an organized need to plan for the future. On the radar for 2012 is a second family vacation (possibly to the Pensacola area), a Midwest trip in July (complete with a friend's wedding in Chicago), maybe a baby (nothing cooking yet), and a lot more festivals!

I truly hope that this post finds you and yours well and that you're all able to celebrate Jesus' birthday with loved ones! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Love, the (Louisiana) Iverson's

James Update

Apprently I forgot to knock on wood after my last post because James' stretch of being hospital free ended abruptly the day after Thanksgiving. He was admitted that Friday evening with a bad cold that turned into bronchitus and eventually pheumonia. He went home twice in the 16 days he was there. The first time he was back within 5 hours and needed back on oxygen. The second time he was home for a day and a half before he needed to be readmitted. This time the doctors think he had bronchial spasms (asthma attack) caused by his reflux. Steroids seemed to do the trick that time. James seems to be doing much better now, but he's only been home for 2 days so we don't feel like we're out of the woods yet.

I'll be taking James to see his specialists in Houston as soon as they can fit him in. I'm not sure what to expect at these appointments so that worries me. I'm assuming we'll talk about our plan to keep him healthy and how we should adjust it since he got sick again. I'm just not sure what they'll want to do moving forward. I have lots of questions...hopefully they'll have some answers.

Friends in Lake Charles were amazing during this hospital stay. We were brought books, meals, snacks, toys, and all around great company. Abby even came to help out (all the way from Indiana) when Dave had to be out of town for his Grandmother's funeral. When Dave was working, various friends from church took Andrew under their wing to give him breaks from the hospital. He liked hanging out with James and me, but sometimes he needed out :) Thank you for all the help! And thank you for all the prayers from all of you who were following James' progress on facebook or via friends and family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From the Little Things to the Big Things

There are so many things to be thankful for and this time of year has me thinking about all of those things. I am thankful for Cheerios or in this case Great Value brand Toasted O's. Andrew's attitude towards these little snacks reminds me that it's about the simple things in life. Just a few O's and he'll happily sit through car rides, grocery trips and numerous other things.

I love that the boys love books! James' therapists are always telling me how important it is for their development, but I am mostly thankful for the way my heart feels when I come upon this site at home.

I am thankful for the silly faces and fun times that we were able to have in San Antonio. It was the first vacation we've had since before James was born and the first time in a long time I can remember not worrying about the possibility of James ending up in an ER. I am thankful the Lord holds our worries on His shoulders because otherwise I wouldn't be standing today.

I am thankful for James' health. He is a miracle and I thank God everyday that he has allowed him to get better and stay with us here on this Earth. James has been mostly healthy since April (just a few minor illnesses, but no hospital stays). It feels so unreal sometimes that I want to pinch myself. It's amazing how much he has grown in these past few healthy months. I know he'll be walking independently soon.

I am thankful for friends; old, young, and new! Jessica recently had a birthday and chose to celebrate it with us and a few of her other close friends from church. We are so blessed by our church family here. I miss friends that I don't see often enough, but my heart hurts less when I remember how many people are here for me in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I'm so thankful for the knowledge that I will have eternity to spend with brothers and sisters in Christ that may not live close by while on this Earth. Knowledge of Heaven is a huge blessing!

"My cup runneth over." What a great line from Hope Floats. My family is so wonderful. They love me and they're not afraid to show it. This is a picture of the family that lives under the same roof as me, but I am thankful for my whole family.

Most of all I am thankful for God and the gifts that He has given me: food, knowledge, family, love, strength, friendships, shelter, health, and the list goes on forever.

Monday, November 14, 2011

San Antonio Trip

There are some definite perks to living in southern Louisiana. We love the local fare, the people are really nice, and the weather has been phenominal! Another perk is being only (25) minutes from the Texas border and just over 5 hours from San Antonio. Last week Dave and I decided to take advantage of this and take our very first family vacation. We all had a fabulous time and I will try to do it justice with words and pictures.

There is a famous gas station chain in Texas called Bucee's. We stopped at one about an hour outside of San Antonio. It was huge! It had 30 gas pumps, easily and the best gas station restrooms I've ever seen. The inside was enormous with everything from 8 different Icee flavors to a toy section that would make Kmart jealous. We enjoyed a Dr. Pepper Icee and some Dip 'n Dots. The boys liked the giant stuffed Bucee :)

In San Antonio we stayed downtown near the Riverwalk. We were within walking distance to a lot of attractions which was great! The first day we bought passes to ride the Alamo trolley and got a tour guide's advice on how to tackle the city (we took some and ignored the rest). I think the boys enjoyed traveling without carseats, but it made mommy and daddy a little nervous. That first day we saw the Alamo, San Jose Mission, King William's district, the Guenther House, and El Mercado (Market Square). We ate a fantastic lunch and got some yummy baked gooods at el Mercado. We got into the routine of eating big lunches and getting take out for dinner because by dinner time the boys had no patience left for a sit down meal. The pattern worked out well for us.

The church at the Alamo. Did you know it wasn't even completed (no roof) when the battle took place?

A live oak tree in the gardens of the Alamo...it was transplanted, but still cool.

I took this picture and then got yelled at. Apparently it's against the rules to take pictures in the Alamo gift shop. Now I know!

A wall at San Jose Mission. It was neat to see a mission in one piece (mostly).

Throwing a pizza into this old school oven :)

Dave checking on our dinner.

James and me checking out the homes inside the mission.

After we had our fill of the trolley, we decided to check out the Riverwalk. Here Andrew and I are posing on one of the pedestrian bridges that cross the river.

This pic is for Madison! FYI, you are never allowed to work in this restaurant unless they change the waitress uniforms.

James relaxing after a busy first day.

The boys love "Peek-a-boo Barn."

On Tuesday we went to the zoo in the morning. It rained off and on so we had to occasionally hide in the various buildings, but the boys didn't mind because this meant they got to get out of their strollers and run around (we brought their walkers). The zoo had a great area for children under 5. The boys loved it! After lunch at Zuni's on the Riverwalk and some needed naps, we took in a couple of museums. We went to Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium and Louis Tussaud's Waxworks. They were running a special so for a dozen canned goods, we got in for $5 each. I love good deals!

Playing in the prairie dog tunnel.

Ready for bed after another busy day.

On Wednesday we did a lot of walking. We could have used the trolley again, but it's drop-off/pick-up times were limited and there were quite a few things we still wanted to see in the downtown area. We visited La Vallita (an artistic neighborhood on the Riverwalk with boutiques and coffee shops), the San Fernando Cathedral, the Spanish Governor's Palace, back to el Mercado, lunch at Paessano's on the Riverwalk, and Tower of the Americas. I was really excited to see a palace, but it turns out that a "palace" built in the 1700's is equivalent to a 2 bedroom house today. It was still neat to see though. I also bought my first Christmas present of the year at La Vallita...get excited mom bc it's for you! Wednesday night we found a great little German delicatessan called Schlipp's. They make their own rootbeer. I highly recommend the place!

James pushing his stroller around the plaza at La Vallita while we waited for shops to open. Apparently most people don't make it out before 10...ha!

Dave and Andrew in the Tower of Americas looking down on San Antonio.

Andrew playing under the pull-out sofa after another busy day.

On Thursday we drove up to San Marcos (about 25 miles NE of San Antonio) so I could shop at the outlet malls there. They were fantastic! I only wish I could have spent longer there, but 2.5 hours before and 2.5 hours after lunch was the boys limit. We stayed over in New Braunsfel that night. It's a (bigger than I was expecting) German town in between San Marcos and San Antonio. We ate lunch at Oma's Haus Restaurant (delicious!) and went to the WurstFest in the evening. Dave loved the brats and German beer...I had a Belgium waffle and the boys just loved being able to run around outside!

On Friday we spent the morning in Gruene, Texas, a historic district on the edge of New Braunfels. There were lots of boutiques. One gourmet food shop had samples set out of over 100 different things. I only came home with 2 salsas, 1 pecan honey butter, and one sun dried tomato and garlic dipping olive oil. It was hard not to buy out the store, except I'm sure if I'd have tried that my credit card would have been declined :) Gruene is also the home of the oldest dancing hall in the United States. I'd like to go back some evening when they're having a dance. We ate lunch at the Gristmill overlooking the Guadalupe River. It was another delicious meal!

We made it home Friday evening around dinner time. The boys ran around until bedtime trying to burn off the excess energy they stored up on the 5 hour drive home. Andrew spent a lot of time loving on Oliver...he missed his kitty.

If you've never been to San Antonio, I highly recommend it. We already have tentative plans to go back and do some things we didn't get to this time... SeaWorld, Schlitterban Water Park, many more restaurants, the drive thru Safari Zoo, and the outlets (again). If you couldn't tell, we had a great time! The best part was just being together as a family and all the other stuff was just (a lot of) icing on the cake!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The boys...

A few pics from the last couple days. I even got a video of Andrew taking some steps. I am by no means a videographer...you'll have to tilt your head to the left :)

James pushing Andrew on his new toy. It's hard to convince James he should watch where he's going.

At the skate park watching the big boys do their thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Things

Dave and I were so excited to celebrate Halloween this year. We missed it last year (Andrew was only a few weeks old and James was getting over pneumonia), so we wanted to make sure we did some fun things this year. Yesterday we went to PPG's Trunk or Treat. The boys had a great time pushing their walkers around the park. Today we went to the Fall Festival at a nearby church. Again, the boys loved pushing their walkers around everywhere! The boys enjoy watching "The Cat in the Hat" on PBS right now so we thought Thing 1 and Thing 2 were perfect costumes for them :) They did a great job and (fyi) the spray in hair color comes out really easy.

All ready for the party!

Thing 1 and Dave in the Hat :)

Dave and I both wore hats :)

Dave was trying to hold them still so I could get a shot of them together.

Sitting on the car...silly Things.

James loves pushing the walker through the grass now...a feat he could not do a week ago!

Love that smile!

Playing in the pumpkins.

Love my Things!

James was trying to crawl over this pumpkin, but kept getting stuck!

Colton, the spider. The boys play with him in the nursery every Sunday and Wednesday.

Tucker and Brady, two other little boys that go to our church.