Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Belated Merry Christmas!

We hope all of you had a blessed Christmas! We are sorry this is late, but we are just now recuperating from all the Christmas festivities. The girls loved every minute of our Christmas celebration, and it was so fun to watch them get so excited. We went to Christmas Eve services with the Powell family on Christmas Eve and then opened our gifts together. Then we headed home to put out cookies and milk for Santa. Christmas morning was lots of fun and spent at home as a family. Then we went up the road for the O'Dell Christmas gathering. The girls enjoyed their time there as well. We are truly blessed with wonderful, loving family, so it is always fun to spend time together and watch the kids play.

Here are Emmalee and Tori in their Christmas finest at my parents.

This is Christmas morning. The girls were so good about waiting to open their gifts. I am sure this will someday pass.

Here is an exhausted Emmalee Christmas night.

Here is an equally exhausted Tori hanging out on her new chair.

Literally two minutes after the photo above was taken.

And then 20 minutes later, she was refreshed and potty training her babies.
Now we are just enjoying some quiet down time and playing with all the new toys!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Emmalee's Big Day

Emmalee had a really big day yesterday. It started off by picking up Grandma around 9:30 A.M. and driving to church in Richmond, where we sat with Gamma, Pappi, Uncle Brian, Aunt Brandi, Dylan, and Alli for the church's Christmas cantata. Once church was over, Grandma, Gamma, Emmalee, Flat Stanley (a school project for cousin Dylan), and mommy loaded up into mommy's car and headed off to Crown Center.

Once there we wandered around for a bit while we waited at a table at Crayola Cafe, Emmalee's favorite restaurant there. We took some photos of Emmalee with Flat Stanley so we could send them back to school with Dylan at the beginning of the new year. We ate at Crayola Cafe and then roamed around a bit more. Here are some pics of our time at Crown Center.

Here is Emmalee braving the bitter cold to get a pic with Flat Stanley in front of Crown Center.

Here are Emmalee and Gamma at Crayola Cafe.

Grandma and Emmalee

Emmalee and Flat Stanley
We left Crown Center and headed to the main attraction for the day...

...Emmalee's first professional ballet!!! She said it was like a dream come true!
Ever since Emmalee was born I have patiently (okay, not so patiently) waited for her to reach the age when I thought she was old enough to enjoy and remember attending The Nutcracker. Since daddy declined attending and decided to take Tori duty (I knew she was NOT ready to sit that long), I decided that it would be extra special for the grandmothers to be a part of such a big day. Emmalee woke very early Sunday morning and was giddy with excitement all day about seeing the real Sugar Plum Fairy (this is my special nickname for her).

We decided to take one more picture with Flat Stanley in front of the Music Hall despite the bitter cold. Flat Stanley was quite a trooper!

We arrived an hour early so Emmalee could get her picture taken with some characters from the ballet. She was very photogenic and sat for a picture by herself with Sugar and Spice and then sat for one with both grandmothers. She was thrilled to be there and couldn't wait to get to our seats. After a quick stop at the gift shop, where Emmalee walked away with lots of fabulous mementos of her big day, we finally found our seats, but not before another photo op with Flat Stanley inside the theater.

Emmalee and Flat Stanley inside the Music Hall in front of Christmas tree.

Emmalee enjoyed the entire ballet and there were certainly priceless moments as determined by the looks on her face at certain times. It was everything I dreamed it would be for her! She got a little restless right at the very end, but the grand finale pepped her right up and also turned out to be the best part, according to the look on her face. (I won't spoil it in case any of you plan to go). She was tired at the end of the day, but she was also extremely happy. It was the perfect day!
Emmalee agrees!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowy Days and Sugary Treats

The past few days have been full of cold, blustery days and sweet, sugary treats. The girls have enjoyed some fun time out in the snow (okay, Emmalee enjoyed it a lot more than Tori did-she must take after her cold-natured mommy), and Emmalee had her school Christmas party yesterday. She has a dance performance tonight, but we are waiting to see what the weather will do.

Emmalee was thrilled to get outside and make snow angels. She absolutely loves to play in the snow and could do so for hours on end. However, she despises scarves so her face bears the brunt of the cold weather.

Tori loved being pushed down the hill by big sister, but she wasn't sure about the cold. She also found it a bit difficult to get around in the snow, but I wonder if that wasn't because I had her so bundled up.

This is a picture of Daddy and the girls sledding down the gravel road in front of our house. Mommy was able to push them and then catch up to them to snap a photo. Obviously they weren't "flying" down the hill!

Here are my two best girls helping bake cupcakes for the school party.

Another picture of my budding chefs. By the way, they do not get their love of helping in the kitchen from their mommy.

Here's Emmalee at her class party. They made lots of fun crafty stuff and played pin the nose on Rudolph. She also got lots of great gifts from her classmates. I was thrilled to be able to attend the party, and she had lots of fun!
If you look closely, you will see that these are Rudolph the red nose reindeer cupcakes. I know, creative huh? I have been quite domestic this week, so I think I will take a break and take the girls out to dinner tonight! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Busy Weekend!

It seems as though our weekends get busier and busier this time of year. This weekend was no exception. On Friday night Emmalee spent the night with Gamma and Pappi along with her cousins Dylan and Alli. They spent Friday evening and Saturday morning baking and frosting Christmas cookies. On Saturday we took Emmalee and Tori to see Santa. We were thrilled to get a much better picture this year than we got last year. Both girls went right to Santa. Tori looks a bit hesitant in the picture, but I was happy she wasn't crying. While visiting Santa, the girls were able to make some crafts. Emmalee loves all things "crafty".

After we finished with Santa, Emmalee went to her grandma's house to work on a surprise for us. She did some more craft stuff and enjoyed spending some time at grandma's house. After a few hours we took Tori to join in the fun. All in all, Saturday was a busy but very fun day.

Sunday brought us a beautiful morning when we went in to church and cold, blustery winds when we came out. After church we ate at McDonald's, or Donald's, as Tori calls it. Then we went home for a bit before heading to cousin Gavin's first birthday party. The girls had a good time playing with the other kids and watching Gavin enjoy his party. We headed home just as the nasty weather started, which made all of us nervous for Duane's trip to work with the girls. Luckily, we didn't get much last night. We are keeping our fingers crossed about the rest of the week. I would much prefer a full week of school since this is the last week before the end of the quarter/semester. I am sure my students are hoping otherwise.

This week is shaping up to be another busy week, as we have Emmalee's school Christmas party Wednesday, and her Christmas dance performance on Thursday. It will be hectic, but we are all looking forward to having all of next week off together! I will leave you with some pictures of this past weekend.

Here's a picture of the girls with Santa.

Here we are doing crafts together.

Emmalee and Tori enjoying some yummy cake at cousin Gavin's party.

And finally, Emmalee's self-portrait. She was pulling picture duty at the party and apparently loves to take her own picture while being silly. There were nearly as many pictures of her as there were of the party. Good times, good times...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Milk anyone?

Hurray! We received a letter yesterday from Emmalee's allergist. In June her milk IGE was 11.7, but last Wednesday it had dropped to 6.5!!! In our world this is really exciting news. I just spoke with Children's Mercy, and we have a milk challenge scheduled for February 9. During this challenge, Emmalee will receive small but increasing amounts of milk every 15 minutes until she either shows signs of a reaction (hives, runny nose, itchy mouth, etc.) or until she has had enough milk with no signs of a reaction to be considered free of her allergy. Emmalee is very excited about getting to try chocolate milk, and her allergist is excited for her to start getting some calcium, as Emmalee strongly resists taking calcium supplements. Dr. Amado is also hoping that this might spur some growth for Emmalee, who she feels is too petite. We are not as concerned about this, as she probably just takes after her mom. Regardless, this was some much needed good news in terms of Emmalee's allergies!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Sugar Plum Fairy!

This weekend we celebrated Emmalee's fifth birthday. It is hard for me to believe that she is already 5. She said yesterday (her actual birthday) that she didn't feel any different than the day before when she was still 4. Apparently she thought being 5 would change how she felt!

Five years ago today, when I held Emmalee for the first time after I left ICU, I made a promise that I wouldn't miss a second of her birthdays until she went to school. Each year I have taken December 7 off and spent every second with her. Yesterday was no exception. Next year will be hard for me since she will be in school, but I am sure we will all survive!

Emmalee had a ballerina themed birthday party on Saturday at her dance studio in Carrollton. It was great fun for all the kiddos and the adults there watching them. They played on the trampoline, a slide, the tumbling mats, an obstacle course, and played dress up and put on make up. Emmalee declared it "the best birthday party I have ever had!" I felt the same way.

Yesterday (Sunday), we took her to dinner in Chillicothe and then we went to look at Christmas lights. She absolutely loves Christmas lights. We toured to the Festival of Lights at the park and then went to Jenkins Christmas Village. Both of the girls loved it, and we loved watching them have so much fun.

Thanks to all who came to the party, called her yesterday, or sent her a card. I have included some pictures from this weekends festivities.

Here is Emmalee after playing dress up-very colorful!

Emmalee anxiously anticipated opening her gifts and eating her cake.

Not to be left out of the fun, here's a shot of Tori by the mini trampoline. She loved actually getting to go inside the dance studio instead of waiting in the front for sister to be finished with dance lessons.

My little rock stars in training. Emmalee is apparently going through a phase where she likes Hannah Montana-not my favorite interest for her, but I am sure it will pass.

A picture of the girls at the Christmas Village-it was pretty chilly last night.

A snapshot of the girls with Frosty the Snowman. Tori was very taken with him and kept giving him high fives!
Now that the big fifth birthday is over we are full speed ahead for Christmas celebrations. I think I may have finally gotten the perfect Christmas card picture!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Week (give or take...) in the lives of the O'Dell Girls

So we survived Thanksgiving and all that goes along with it: eating, shopping, decorating, and on and on. The girls had a great time over break, and I really enjoyed being with them. This post has lots of pictures, so I'll cut to the chase.

Chillicothe has an annual Holiday Parade, and this is the first year we have been able to go. Obviously it was very cold that day. We lasted through about a third of the parade before we went back to the car and watched most of the rest from there. We saw Rudolph, Frosty, Muddy the Mudcat, and KC Wolf. It was fun but very, very cold.

Emmalee has been working really hard to learn to ride her bicycle with no training wheels. On Thanksgiving Day we decided to give it a shot. She did really well until she realized I was no longer holding on, which led to her "crashing" and of course, crying. That was the end of no training wheel bicycle riding that day.

My parents have a "jumpy thing" (as the girls call it), and they got it out on Thanksgiving since it was so nice. Tori loves all things "jumpy", and this was no exception.

Sunday we had a birthday party for the girls' friend Joshua. It was at Air Zone. Obviously, Emmalee had a fantastic time...

... as did Tori, who gave mommy quite a work out going up and down the slides and obstacle courses.

This is one of many pictures I took in my futile attempt at the perfect Christmas card picture. We are still trying!
Yesterday Emmalee had a follow up appointment with her asthma/allergy doctor at Children's Mercy. We have been trying to get her asthma under control and added a new medicine in June. It hasn't worked as well as we had hoped, so now we will be adding another new medicine. We had hoped she would outgrow the asthma by now, but so far she is not showing signs of doing so. We also had her blood drawn (which required two people to hold her down and lots and lots of screaming) to check her milk allergy numbers. We are hoping to get a milk challenge scheduled at the beginning of 2009. Her dr. is certain she will outgrow this, and we are hopeful because she would love to eat some ice cream like the rest of her friends do. While we were waiting for the doctor to write up her new asthma action plan, the girls had a little too much fun. Here's the proof...
Emmalee was hanging on to the stool, and Tori was pushing her around the room. Apparently this was hilarious and great fun.

And then the fun took a wrong turn for Emmalee when Tori decided to bully her. Notice the look on Emmalee's face in not an amused look; however, Tori's face shows her delight! This is the way it works at our house-Emmalee is super sweet to Tori, and Tori is not so much in return!
That's all for now, but Emmalee has a big weekend coming up with the celebration of her 5th birthday. Stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

5 Things I Am Thankful For...

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would post my top five things I am thankful for. I am, of course, thankful for so much more. However, these things top my list.

5. Days off work to spend at home with the girls!

4. Epi-Pens, Asthma Meds, and Peanut-Free Preschools!
Because of all these things, we can send Emmalee out to different places without having to fear for her safety. To all of you who take her allergies and asthma as seriously as we do and provide safe environments for her, we thank you for helping to make her life as normal as possible!

3. Answered Prayers
We have spent a lot of time praying this year, and we have had many of those prayers answered. Among those answered are the fact that Conner, Landon, and Brendan will all be celebrating their first Thanksgivings at home this year-what a blessing!

2. Family and Friends I am so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends. I am thankful for you year round!

1. Duane, Emmalee, and Tori
Though no explanation is really needed here, I will give one. This is what I am blessed to come home to every night. Our evenings are not always filled with smiles and laughter, but they are certainly filled with love. At the end of the day, that is all that matters!

I hope all of you have a happy holiday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Party Time

This past weekend was full of parties. The girls had a great time, and we want to send a big thank you to Alyssa and Lucas for including us. We were all exhausted at the end of the day, which made for a full night's sleep for mommy. HURRAY! Here are a few pics of the girls in action...

Emmalee on the huge slide!

Tori is our gymnast in training.

Emmalee is a very enthusiastic bowler!
I don't have any pictures of Tori bowling because I was afraid it might be too dangerous to give her a bowling ball. She did, however, enjoy herself immensely! Thanks again for including us!
On a different note, GO HORNETS!!! Though most of you know little about Chillicothe, the one thing some of you do know is it is a football town. Our team leaves today for Cassville, MO to play in the semi-final game before next week's state playoffs in St. Louis. Many of the boys on the team are my former students, and this season they are undefeated. Chillicothe is brimming with excitement at a potential state title!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mommy, tell me a story...

After months of following the journey of a friend's premature baby via his blog, I have decided to venture out into the blogging world myself. As I have kept up with his battles and successes, I have realized what a gift his parents have given not only to all of us who care about him, but to Brendan himself. Some day he will be able to look back at all the entries and comments, and he will be able to see in print his life story. That is the driving force that has led me to this day. I want to be able to do the same thing for my girls, so when they have kids of their own who ask them, "Mommy, will you tell me a story about when you were little?" as Emmalee so often does, they won't have to struggle to remember different stories. The stories will be here for them. I invite you to join our journey through the days, weeks, months, and years ahead in Emmalee and Tori's lives. I won't promise to post daily or even weekly, but I will do my best. I hope, in time, my girls will see this as a gift as well.