Zach is 3!



I call Zach my miracle baby. He is my uncomplicated child. He has been the healthiest kid and my best sleeper. The kid loves to sleep and he does it so well. He always has. He turned three this month and I can't believe it. To me, he's still just my baby boy. He is so sweet to his mama. He loves his bear more than anything. He is a good eater. He will never go hungry because when he will find food. He can find food that I didn't know was in my house. It's a skill really. He is growing like a weed. He loves his sister and everything is his "best friend". He hums when he eats and he sings along with TV show theme songs in the cutest way. I was always so worried about having a boy because I know nothing about boys, growing up with a sister. Him making me a boy mom was greatest surprise. I love him so.

This year we couldn't have a party because of the Coronavirus but we made the best of it. We had a cake, balloons and so many people who dropped off gifts and celebrated with us from a 6 foot distance.

Zach likes:

  • His Family
  • His Bear
  • His Souc (Scout)
  • Going to Chick Fil-A
  • Taking walks
  • His Tina (and the rest of the walking ladies)
  • Playing on the Kindle
  • Drawing with Sidewalk Chalk
  • Taking Baths
  • Eating Candy
  • Going Outside
  • Balloons
  • Suckers
  • Popsicles
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Tractors
  • Cars
  • Monster Trucks 
Zach doesn't like:
  • People Touching His Feet
  • The Coronavirus ("The virus ruins everything.")
  • Sharing His Toys
  • Getting His Diaper Changed 
  • Getting Shots
  • Being woken up
  • The time after his nap
  • Being hungry

That face though.


My snuggler.


Hanging with his daddy at the Zoo.



That haircut. What a big boy.


He loves his Cheese Balls.


He's too cool for all of us.


He went to the beach for the first time.


He gained a baby brother. At first he was unsure about the whole baby brother situation but he has warmed up to him.


Real heroes eat their dinner.


Moved to a big boy bed!


Living his best life.


Christmas with his sister.

Matching with his bro.


Ready to play in the snow in Wisconsin.


Relaxin with Daddy


Wrapped up in his Minion towel that Mimi made for him. We've decided that he actually is a minion.


My boy.


"Mommy, I watch the cars."


He loves to take his Kindle and hide in the closet like no one knows he is there. 


My friends Francee and MaryBeth decorated the front of our house to make Zach's day special.




He loves balloons.




He got a grill and had to start cooking.


Little Blue Truck (His Favorite Book) Ice Cream Cake

Zach is such a light in our lives. We love him so much.

That's all for now. God is good.


Coronavirus Quarantine Week 3



And they stayed at home forever...

Quarantine Day 13 - We woke up and watched church online. I am so looking forward to seeing all of our friends in person at church, but seeing everyone who is tuning in at home is cool too. After church we had a pretty uneventful day. I went to Hoffman Supermarket and got meat for the week. It was stocked because local meat counters are the best. Shop local! We had some yummy chicken on the grill and the kids played outside.

Quarantine Day 14 - Monday, back to the school grind and another restless night for Max. Someone needs to install a fountain soda machine in my house because the amount of Diet Coke needed for this quarantine is a lot. I’m pretty sure when I die, they’ll realize that I’m already embalmed on the inside from all of the Diet Coke I needed to survive the COVID-19 Shelter In Place. We started off slow and did Zoe’s work very spread out. Zach stole the iPad while I was getting dinner in the crock-pot. I wasn’t really that upset about it because he was happy and not bothering his sister while I was busy. The problem is that the screen time made him into a mess of a toddler and by lunch he was very ready for his nap. Zoe showed signs of a possible UTI so I had to run to the lab to get her tested for that. Thankfully, I had the supplies we needed at home and she didn’t have to go into public. After dinner, we took an evening walk. It was nice to see others out walking, playing and working in their yards. We talked to others from a distance. I will be so happy when we can all interact normally again.


Dropping by the Lab at the hospital. Instructions for standing in line.


Quarantine Day 15 - The days are beginning to run together. One person I was listening to on a podcast said that it’s like the week before Christmas and Easter. No one knows what day it is and if they should eat lunch, or dinner. I feel like it’s like we’re in some perpetual bermuda triangle. Zoe got a new packet of work today. Her teacher, Francee Kasten has been going above and beyond. She sent home seeds for growing plants this time. Now, this is very cool for Zoe which is awesome. Mommy on the other hand does not like science projects. I think this all stems from science fair PTSD. The science fair was such a stressor when I was in grade school that I never want to look at another project display board in my life. Daddy is assigned to science. I went to Walmart today because once again the app wasn’t really working. It is weird in there right now. I mean Walmart as always been weird but its getter weirder. It’s very empty and the people who are in there, a lot of them are there and messing around. Thankfully, Walmart has since then made a rule of only 50 people in at a time and one person per party, also no kids. Hopefully that will keep the teenage riff-raff out. My kids should be glad they aren’t teenagers right now because they would be sitting in my house and not going anywhere. I don’t care about boyfriend/girlfriend situations. Their dad and I did long distance for a year and a half. Also, they have FaceTime!


Note from Zoe's teacher in her new packet of work.

Quarantine Day 16 - Max is still being a clinger. We keep trying to determine if his issue still his ear infection or teeth. All I know is that we lucked out with Zoe, a good sleeper, and Zach, the miracle sleeper. Hopefully this will resolve soon. Some people out there can function without sleep for years because of kids that don’t sleep. I am not one of those people. Because of the lack of sleep it makes it hard for me to get going in the morning to get Zoe’s work done and then we don’t get outside as much as we want to. Thankfully the evenings have been okay and we’ve gotten out then. I went to bed early this night to get some sleep before Nate went to bed and Max woke up. It was a glorious two hours in my bed.

My clinger.


Quarantine Day 17 - Thursday was pretty normal. Work for Zoe and nap time at the proper times for the boys. I delivered an audio CD of the church service from Sunday to Lorna who is stuck inside because she is elderly. It was so hard for me not to bust through the door and hug her. Instead I am stuck handing her a CD through the door like the pizza guy gave the Ninja Turtles their pizza through the drain grate in the street. I know that I have said this before, but I am ready to be able to hug my people again. Nate and I started watching Tiger King on Netflix. It is CRAZY. I will say that this show has a lot of content that isn’t great so necessarily recommend it. Let’s just say that people who own exotic animals on a domestic level are WEIRD.

Quarantine Day 18 - We’ve made it to Friday, Nate’s day off. I got a shower, always an accomplishment of a stay at home mom with a clingy baby. Zoe did school work but got to have some fun building Lego stuff with Nate. We participated in a parade for a local boy who has cystic fibrosis and couldn’t have a party for his birthday because of the virus. It was cool. There were fire trucks and a nice long procession of cars to say happy birthday. The boys took pretty good naps in the afternoon. We took them outside for a few minutes before we left to go get take out from Dairy King. Oh what a treat Dairy King was! When we got back, the kids got a little play time in the backyard before bedtime. Fresh air does wonders for all of us during this time.



Quarantine Day 19 - I’m gonna be real about Saturday. This day was rough. Nate was busy getting the service filmed and edited for Sunday. It’s not out of the ordinary for him to work all day on Saturday during Lent.  Max wasn’t a great sleeper. Zoe and Zach did well in the morning but the afternoon was a lot. Max wanted to be held. Zach went down for his nap, but Zoe wanted me to play with her. The problem was that Max didn’t want to take a nap so I was stuck with him on my lap and Zoe asking me every 2 minutes if I could play video games with her. Max finally decided to lay down for a few minutes and Zach woke up. So much for a respite. Then the snack crying started. Both kids were saying, “mama” over and over again and asking for snacks. The baby woke up and needed a bottle. So now the kids are requesting food and drink while I am tied up feeding the baby. Meanwhile, the house looked like a toy, food, and art supplies bomb went off. By the time Nate got home, I gave him the baby and went into the kitchen to finish making dinner. I don’t even remember what I made that night because Max was fussy so I took him from Nate and went to sit outside on the porch. It was cold but Max calms down outside. I hadn’t changed my clothes in 24 hours, my hair was out of control. I just sat there, rocking Max and crying because I was so overwhelmed. Whoever was driving past our house at that time probably thought I was physco. This quarantine has good days and bad days. Saturday was a bad day. It builds up because every day is almost exactly the same with the same issues and there is only so much you can do about it. Thankfully, the time came for bed and a good night’s sleep.


Yum.


Zoe helping me out with Max.

The days and weeks are starting to run together and I miss my friends so much, hopefully we will all be together again soon!

That's all for now. God is good.


Coronavirus Quarantine Week 2



Quarantine Day 6 - Nate was busy making sure everything was in place for the online worship service. Max woke up early and ate. Zach rolled out of bed around seven. Zoe has become nocturnal in this break from school. She will come out of her room for any number of reasons: thirst, hunger, itching legs, to get “something” and then when we finally say you NEED to stay in bed, she talks to herself or sings until 10pm. She then sleeps until 9am every day. This would be excellent if the boys would sleep this late too. Also, this was totally me when I was on breaks when I was younger. We watched Nate’s recording of church on Facebook. It was actually really cool to see all of our Hoyleton family tuning into church at the same time. We then got dressed and started the day indoors. I took a nap in the afternoon. Then we decided the kids needed to get out of the house, so we took them to Dairy King for dinner. I didn’t have to cook, the kids got out of the house and we supported local business. 




Quarantine Day 7 - Again Max didn’t sleep well, so I rode the couch all night, Zach woke at 7 and Zoe slept till 9. Starting off the week is hard. We have to get back into the swing of Zoe doing homework. Meanwhile, I have a fussy 6 month old baby and a toddler who has been somewhat trying lately. Zoe fought me on her homework. You know, if there were ever any question on whether or not I should homeschool my children, this solidifies my hard no. The kids are starting to feel the effects of being inside all the time. They are just out of their routine and it’s making them irritable, especially Zach. He used to have a lot of time to play on his own during the day. That is all gone now. When the Francee Kasten and her girls went to pick up lunch, they stopped by the house and said hi through the screen door. The poor girls miss each other so much. 



Quarantine Day 8 - Max continued to not sleep well. We really needed groceries so I ran to the store. I wanted to use Walmart Pick-Up, which is one of my favorite things but it wouldn’t let me add weird things like lunch meat and butter. They are out of interesting things. Butter, milk, eggs were all available. They were completely out of instant mashed potato flakes and Chocolate milk. If there is one thing that Zoe, my mom, my sister and I all love, it is chocolate milk. Yes, we could make it with chocolate syrup, but I prefer the premixed kind. It is faster with kids. Still no hand sanitizer or cleaning products. Did no one have any cleaning products in their house before this started? I mean the homes of America are going to be spotless when this is over. Plus, who has the time? I am barely holding it together. My house becomes messier by the day because of the sticky jam hands of my children. Do I have time to clean it? Nope. Do I have time to breathe or sleep? No and no. At nap time, I told Zach it was time for a nap and he ran into the room where Max was sleeping and woke him up. It is lucky that my middle baby is so sweet, cute and a miracle sleeper because he made Mommy MAD. Max proceeded to cry for 45 minutes. It was exhausting. After dinner, the kids and I took a walk to Norma’s house so we could wave to her. We miss our friends but we are taking social distancing seriously.



Quarantine Day 9 - Max has been constipated so the day before I gave him prunes at dinner time. Well this morning all the poop came out of his sweet little body. Let’s just say that at one point I ended up with poop on my face before 9am and I was not happy about it. Max had a well check at the doctor. They didn’t push it back because it was a month where he would be receiving vaccinations. We both had our temperatures taken and had to check in at the hospital entrance because our doctor’s office is connected to a hospital. In the pediatrician’s office, there were no other patients in the waiting room and I had to wear a mask. They have postponed all well visits that don’t require vaccinations until after the shelter-in-place has lifted. It was good that we went in because Max really hasn’t been himself. He’s been so cranky and not sleeping well. Turns out he has an ear infection. Good news is that we can treat it and hopefully he will start to sleep better again. Mama needs it. I had to stop in the store to get his prescription, again, no chocolate milk. I know how amazing chocolate milk is, but of all the things. People must be cleaning their homes and drinking chocolate milk all over America. The boys got great naps today. It warmed up and it was so beautiful outside. It is amazing what sunshine and fresh-air can do. Being cooped up in the house just isn’t great. Now if only the kids could play with their friends again. It’s been hard to fight against wanting to just run up to someone in the store when I see them and give them a hug or go over to a friend’s house and sit down to chat for five minutes. I can’t wait for it to be over so we can all be together again. We finally got outside this day and were able to play in the back yard.





Quarantine Day 10 -  Max slept terribly again, but the sun was out! I decided that after breakfast the kids and I were going to go out and spread some love. I decided that we would take some sidewalk chalk that Zoe got for her birthday and go write some love notes on driveways and sidewalks of our friends in Hoyleton. It was so much fun. We had to rush so we didn’t get caught leaving our love surprises. We miss our friends so much. We hit the Kastens’, Carlene Michael’s and Norma’s house. Norma saw us coming so she got to admire them in action from afar. Our plans were cut short when it started raining. We are hoping to do more artwork soon. We took the day off from school work because I think we all needed a little break. The kids and I spent some time in the front yard watching the cars go by. Zach got comfortable on the flower boxes. LuAnn and Wayne Grote treated us to Kretzer's that night and it was so delicious. Plus, I didn't have to cook. We are so spoiled. Thanks Wayne and LuAnn!






"Mom, I'm watching the cars."

Quarantine Day 11 - Nate took the night shift with Max and I got home sleep! Woo! Actually, Nate took the night shift and Max slept wonderfully for him. It’s like he knows when mama is on-call and wants all of her snuggles. Nate cut the grass this day because it was nice. Zach ran out of the house into the backyard twice without giving me a heads up. I guess I need to start locking the back door. The first time, I was on the phone and I saw Zach run across the back yard out the window. I’m like WOAH, hold on there. I went for a walk with Zoe outside. It was almost hot because of the humidity. 



Quarantine Day 12 - Nate had a lot of filming to do for the church service video. He was going to be gone most of the day. So after breakfast, the kids and I went and did more chalk love notes. We hit up our friends Carol, Henry and the Hanenbergers. zach had a hard time not hugging his Tina. Then, when we got home he told me that he was mad at the virus because he couldn't visit his Tina's house. We also went through the carwash which is now like an amusement park. I mean the carwash is always fun, but when you haven’t left the house in a couple of weeks, it is a great time. I tried taking a nap in the afternoon but Zoe woke me up twice, the first time to ask if she could get a snack, which at that point, I was like “eat the whole pantry if it makes you happy.” The second time, she woke me and Max (by accident) up because she wanted to ask if she could have an Oreo. I have been so tired lately I would have been happier if she helped herself to the entire package, but that’s okay. We had Kretzer’s fried chicken for dinner. Yum. Trying to keep supporting our local restaurant. This was the end of the first full week of quarantine for us. 




It was a long week but we have been so blessed by our Hoyletonians. People brought us food, take out, activities for the kids and always are checking in to see if I need something from the store. Thank you everyone! 

That's all for now. God is good!


Max is 6 Months!



Max is six months old. He is growing like crazy. He started rolling this month. He's also started to laugh more and it is so cute.

Tethered Spinal Cord Update
Earlier this month, he had a sedated MRI to get a closer look at his tethered spinal cord. He did great with the sedated MRI. Putting in the IV was the worst part. The nurses were in love with him, as usual. I didn't expect a sedated baby to act silly when they came out of surgery because they are so young. Max was still silly. He saw me and gave me a hilarious smile, then he made this drunk noise, it was so cute and so funny. We met with his neurosurgeon. She said they didn't get all the scans and asked if we could go back down. We did and it was quick. The tests showed that his cord is tethered to a cyst. The plan is for him to have corrective surgery around his one-year old birthday that falls in September.


Max likes:
  • His Mama - big mama phase right now
  • Chewing on his hands
  • Walking with the ladies every morning
  • Eating
  • Wiggling on the floor
  • Having socks on
  • Being held
  • Falling asleep on Mommy
  • His car seat buddy toy
  • Music
  • The swing
  • When his brother and sister lay on the floor with him.
  • The Kelm family
  • Not eating for anyone but his mama
  • Eating Bananas, Apples, Prunes and Sweet Potatoes

Max doesn't like:
  • When the car is not moving
  • Having a dirty diaper
  • Being hungry
  • Loud noise
  • His Eczema
  • Getting an IV
  • Taking medicine
  • Sleeping all night

Coronavirus Quarantine Week 1



This has been a week for the books. We are in an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 quarantine. First, last week we found out that school would be cancelled for two weeks. The Governor of Illinois first closed the schools, then started limiting groups of 1,000 people, then 500, then 250 and now 10 or less. Restaurants are closed for dining in. Finally, this past Friday, Illinois was put under a shelter-in-place order. People are not allowed to leave the house unless it is for groceries, medical needs or if their job is deemed essential. There are many essential jobs, so many people are still out. It is a crazy time.

Quarantine Day 1 - The kids were up and fighting before I woke up. Nate's parents were here so I went and walked with the church ladies while they were at home with the kids. When I got home, Max was acting out of character so I took him to the doctor. He was diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth. I got home and the thermostat told me that I needed a new filter for the furnace. This is a new furnace so I had to find the opening and discovered it was a rare type of filter. I had to track down this filter and go get it so we could have heat. I look at the school work that I need to do with Zoe and cry.


Sick Baby

Quarantine Day 2 - Max didn't sleep well because he wasn't feeling well. Markers were banned by 9am. Zoe told me that I smelled like stinky cheese. When I asked her why she would do work for her teacher and not for me she replied, "You're not my teacher." Good times. Nate's parents go home. Zoe does Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. This is so cool. Mo Willems is the author of the Pigeon books and the Elephant and Piggie books. They are some of our favorite books. He shows the kids his original drawings for the books, teaches him how to draw his characters and answers letters from kids. I think I am enjoying it more than Zoe.


Much prefers her teacher, Mrs. Kasten over me.


Finally used the laminator I bought a couple years ago for her sight word cards.



Quarantine Day 3 - Hannah (our newest teacher to our school) came to hang out with us. She just moved here and said she would come hang with me and the kids. I think she was worried that I may lose my mind. She has a good read on me already. Anyway, she watched Zoe and Max while I took Zach to get a haircut. On the way home he had two suckers in his mouth, and when I handed him two to give to his sister, he had a meltdown because he wanted more. This kid has a serious sucker problem. Hannah hung out with us most of the day and helped Zoe with her homework. She got more homework done with Zoe in 5 minutes than I did in an hour. Kids.



Quarantine Day 4 - Max didn't sleep well all week so by this point, Nate and I are exhausted. I headed to St. Louis to get baby formula because that was the only place that had it in stock. I didn't think I would need to stockpile formula, but I was wrong. Sam's was crazy. It was busy and the shelves were eerily empty. The scaffolding where all the stock is kept above was empty. I couldn't believe it. I stopped in Target and Total Wine. I needed essentials. Wine is essential. As I was driving home, one of my friends said that the governor might be closing the border. Thank goodness I was almost over the river. It was then announced that the next day we would be ordered to stay home. I was pretty much keeping the kids at home anyway.





The essentials. (The Red Velvet Bailey's is what dreams are made of.)


Quarantine Day 5 - Nate worked a lot on recording the church service for Sunday. He came home and watched the kids while I ran to pick up more formula that my friend Emily got me at another Sam's location. While out, I saw two people wearing Chicago Cubs shirts, they must think that with all of this stuff Hell is freezing over and the Cubs may win again. I then stopped by the Hoffman Supermarket which is a gas station with a tiny little market. Hidden in the market is an excellent meat counter that was stocked. Meanwhile, Walmart and all the other stores were out of meat. Shop local people! Nate texted me while I was out that there was somehow gum on the couch. Neither he nor I had brought gum into the house. It is a mystery. Also, it got on his pants. The conversation is below. After dinner the kids were insane, so Nate bundled up Zoe and Zach and made them run around outside for a while. Cabin fever is getting real.




Snuggles with mama.


Clean little lamb.


Ready to run outside.


My friend Mary Beth came by to pick up some wine from my porch. We had to practice social distancing. It's not going well for my extroverted self.


Who knows what the next few months will hold. Despite the stress, illness, and losses, there has been a lot of good coming from this crazy time.

That's all for now. God is good.