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Archive for 2011

Waiting for Santa

Saturday, December 31, 2011

When our family was in town for Christmas, they asked the boys to get up on the fireplace to take a picture in their matching Santa pajamas.  The boys were so very excited for Santa to come while they were sleeping!






Running as hard as I can to stay in place.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We had a wonderful Christmas with family.  Hospitals, I have decided, are the.very.most loneliest places on.earth.  So, I am incredibly thankful that we were discharged after one night and were able to go home to spend Christmas with family.  (I will post Christmas pictures soon.)

But, you know how they say, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"?  Well, I've been trying to stick to that...with regard to my relationship with Cystic Fibrosis.  But it's very hard to do.  After numerous hospitalizations and multiple surgeries, all complications of CF, I have hardly anything nice to say about this evil disease.

I think that I am just so.tired.of.caring.  There is much much to care about with Cystic Fibrosis, especially when one's CF has alot of complications like Bennett's has had.  And I'm just so tired of caring about them...

I'm tired of caring about his rectal prolapse - did we fix it? will it stay fixed? how will I potty train him with this history of rectal prolapse, will it only irritate it more?
I'm tired of caring about his C.Diff - will it come back? is this what caused his rectal prolapse? is this why his diapers are so stinky?
I'm tired of caring about his lungs - is he junky? are they crackling? is he hiding pseudomonas?  will that runny nose/cold/cough turn into something worse?
I'm tired of caring about his medicines - which ones did I already give? did he get them on time? did I remember to refrigerate? do I need to reorder?
I'm tired of caring about his therapies - are they working?  is he with the best therapist he can be with? are they working on the right things? does he need more or less?
I'm tired of caring about his doctor appointments when is his next appointment? will they be unhappy about his weight?  will they add a new medication? will they want to admit him? 
I'm tired of caring about his enzymes did I bring them? has he had them? is it enough? are they working? what if I forget to give them to him?
I'm tired of caring about his eating - is he eating enough? is he getting the right types of foods?  is he pocketing his food? is he chewing correctly? could he accidentally choke?
I'm tired of caring about his g-tube - is he getting too much food by g-tube? what if the g-tube falls out? could he strangle at night in his gastric tubing?
I'm tired of caring about his weight is he gaining?  is he too skinny?  is he getting enough calories? will his lack of weight gain stunt his height?  

I'm just so tired of caring.

I'm running as hard as I can to stay in place.  Working hard to not move at all.  And yet, the inertia is incredible.  I am very aware that, without a cure, Cystic Fibrosis is going on win out in the end.

I am desperate to hold on to however much normalcy we can keep for now.  But the havoc this disease is reeking on my son has not gone unnoticed.  His tummy holds a g-button.  His abdomen sports a huge scar.  Parts of his colon and small bowel are missing.  Our kitchen cabinets overflow with medications.

But how do mothers who love their children not care?  
To not care seems like only giving up.


I work hard to get breaks.  Breaks during the week.  Breaks from the kids.  Breaks with friends.  Breaks with my husband.  But, somehow, that doesn't really seem to relieve the inner turmoil I often feel.

Because I carry it with me.
Deep down inside.
Fears.
Disappointments.
A sense of hopelessness.


I'm weary, feeling as though I am running as hard as I can...
...just to stay in place.

We are going home!

Friday, December 23, 2011

We have been discharged!

We have met with the Pulmonologist at Scott and White Children's Hospital who has given Bennett an antibiotic for the wet cough he may have received from being intubated during surgery.  We have also met with the Pediatric Surgeon who has given us the green light to go home.

Bennett is feeling fabulous!  He isn't too interested in sitting down (because its alittle tender).  But otherwise, he's feeling great.

So, we're going home for Christmas!

Receiving a Get Well Gift

Bennett was delighted to receive a very sweet and generous Get Well gift this morning from our family friend, Glynis.

Balloons!  Bennett *loves* balloons!   (In fact, Bennett saw someone else's balloons at the nurses station this morning and laughed and laughed at the silly smiling balloons.)




Bennett loves to kiss the things he likes.  So, it's no wonder he kissed his "ball" balloon!


...and Bennett's very favorite toy: a stuffed animal!!


Bennett named his dog, "Go-Go."  It may or may not have something to do with wanting to go bye-bye!







Big brother Oliver loved the balloons too.

Our IV Pole Christmas Tree

I added some Christmas lights to Bennett's IV pole for ambience in our room.  Everyone who comes in seems to really love it.  One resident even told Bennett, "I love your IV pole Christmas Tree."  I thought that was pretty clever to think of it as a Christmas Tree.  So, we have enjoyed considering it our little corner of Christmas.  If only I could pretend the blood pressure machine was a warm fire!

IV fluids keep Bennett hydrated.


As soon as Bennett got his pain medication this morning, he was out!


The glow of our Christmas tree.


Miniature toy cars are never far...even in the hospital.


Bennett has been fed through the G-tube some since he hasn't had much appetite.


Bennett gets his breathing treatment.


Sweet little hand all bandaged up.

Early Morning At the Hospital

Of course, it's 6AM and people are already treating our room like a revolving door.  Nurses, doctors and residents.  Everyone wants to come by and they believe the best time is as early as possible.  Fortunately, I know this now so I am up before the sun and trying to grab a shower if I can (shower has no hot water at this point...why??)

Thankfully, I feel like it's down hill from here.   We're through the hardest part.  Now, we're coasting through the recovery period before going home.  Bennett ate alittle applesauce last evening, has handled his feeding tube through the night and is now sitting up.  I think they will want to see bowel movement before we go.  So, let's hope Bennett's GI track gets the memo that we're trying to get out before Christmas.

Bennett began feeling better around 10pm last night. He started talking more and seemed *much* less agitated than he was earlier in the day.  In fact, he loved taking a ride around the unit on my lap while Daddy pushed us in the wheelchair.  And he began playing cars again right before he fell asleep last night.

As Bennett was started feeling better, he asked for Daddy and Oliver (whom he calls, "ah-ah-ah").  They had just left to go home for the night so I let him call them on the phone.

Bennett talked to Brian and gave us some idea of what he thinks is going on.  Of course, Bennett's language skills are a little late (normal for him) but here's what he said:

"Hi Da-da.  Bye Bye?  Boo-Boo (spoken in a pitiful voice).  Bump-Bump, Bump-Bump (the sound of a heartbeat)."

which means...

"Hi Daddy.  I wanna go bye-bye.  I have a boo-boo and the doctor is trying to fix it."

Bennett really hates having his IV in.  He also hates the blood pressure cuff on his leg and the oximeter (which measures the oxygen in his blood) on his toe.  We always know we're getting ready to go home when we begin seeing them take off cords one by one.  So, I look forward to them beginning to take them off in this morning.

I am very pleased with how things are progressing.  I am feeling lighter and looking forward to Christmas once again!

We'll see how today progresses!  (...and if I ever get hot water!)

Pictures: Scott and White Children's Hospital

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our first experience with Scott and White Hospital came the moment we learned Bennett (who had just been born) was critically ill and needed to be transferred to Scott and White in Temple.  That was over two years ago.

Since then, Scott and White opened their very own Children's Hospital, which opened in October of this year.  We are very pleased with the new hospital.  The rooms are nice.  The staff is relaxed.  And we have felt very cared for.


Bennett's Room (Bennett prefers to lie down right now.)


The adorable sign about Bennett's door.  This is something special the Child Life staff does at Scott and
White.  (I remember Bennett's first little sign when he was in the NICU).


Bennett has been chewing on a bottle all day today.  It's easier than using a straw and making him sit up.  He has loved chewing on it and sucking down apple juice.


One of the greatest blessing about Bennett being two years old this hospitalization is that he loves to watch movies.  So, we have been watching Cars2 and Finding Nemo all day.

Recovering



We are in our hospital room where Bennett is recovering well. He is on morphine but seems fairly peaceful as long as he is lying down.42286

The Surgeon explained they took out about 4-6 inches of his colon (the bowel that is connected to the anus). Taking out this "extra slack" of colon will hopefully prevent the rectal prolapse from happening again. The hope is the bowel is too short now to come out.

Unfortunately, there isn't much they can do for his loose sphincter muscle (the muscle that opens and closes when one poops). The surgeon said his sphincter muscle seems stretched because of his chronic rectal prolapse episodes. She believes, however, the muscle will eventually tighten up over time if its give time to rest (aka he stops having prolapse of the bowel).

The Surgeon surprised us today by telling us that if all goes well, we can actually leave tomorrow!  I think that sounds really good so I hope we can!

Our biggest concern at this point (and the reason we are in the hospital) is the risk of infection.  Resecting the bowel (cutting it, taking part of it out and putting it back together again) can risk the highly not sterile feces from entering the body.  The Surgeon said she put the stitches very close together in order to prevent leakage.  However, any leakage at all can cause peritonitis and risk serious illness fairly quickly.

Bennett does have a small fever now but the nurses haven't been terribly concerned.  We won't likely go home if his fever doesn't go down.  He was given antibiotics during surgery so hopefully that will take care of any potential infection.

For now, we are chilling at the hospital and trying to keep Bennett comfortable.
 

Surgery is over.

Bennett's Pediatric Surgeon just came and spoke with us.  Surgery went well.


He came out of surgery pretty agitated (I'm trying to keep him in my arms)...



...but has since calmed down.

Will post more soon!

Surgery has begun!

Bennett just went back for surgery a few minutes ago.  He road off in to the sunset on his pink plasma car provided by the hospital.  The nurses had to take him to the OR to put him on the bed and give him sedation.  It was sad not to be there with him during that time.  It has to be terribly frightening. (I can hardly think about it because it makes me so sad for him.  This kind of stuff is getting harder and harder for me as I know he is older and more and more aware of what is going on around him.)

Bennett will be sedated with a gas mask first, then an IV narcotic.  We don't know if he will wake up loopy or just downright made.  We will see.

The procedure being done to him during surgery is called the "altemeier procedure".  Basically, the Pediatric Surgeon is going to go from his bottom and cut off the part of the bowel that is loose and keeps coming out during his rectal prolapse episodes.  This procedure should leave no scars and should generally not hurt him when he wakes up.

Vitals and Paperwork Completed!

We are here.  Boys are wearing their matching Santa pajamas and fireman boots.

Thankfully, they have a playroom on the OR floor so both boys have briefly forgotten where they are. :)

We have signed paperwork and taken vitals.  We are waiting to talk with the Anesthesiologist.

Ready to Check In At the "Hotel" In the Morning

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We are getting everything ready to check in to "Hotel Scott and While Children's Hospital" in Temple early early tomorrow morning!  Our family has arrived so we already have extra hands on tap should we need help.

We have tried to explain to both boys what is going on but they are still too young to understand.  However, they both pulled out their pretend doctor set today, for which I was glad.  We will explain more to them both tomorrow when we are at the hospital.

Bennett can't eat or drink after midnight tonight.  So, I am glad we have to be at the hospital so early tomorrow morning.  We will wake him up in the morning and bring him to the hospital in his pajamas.

Oliver has made it very clear he wants to join us at the hospital.  We'd prefer that he would stay with our family but we have learned from prior hospitalizations that it's best to keep Oliver with us, to let him see what we are doing and to help give him the confidence things will be ok.

When we were at the ER the other day, he and Daddy came into the room where Bennett was crying and there were lots of doctors and nurses around talking.  Oliver leaned over to Brian and said, "Daddy, I'm scared."

Oliver is now able to articulate his feelings.  This is important because he isn't just able to articulate it for himself but for Bennett too.  So, we have begun the very beginning stages of explaining to both boys what is wrong with Bennett and why we have to go through what we have to go through.

I have struggled to articulate how I feel about Bennett's surgery tomorrow.  Part of me is completely fine, not worried at all.  The other part of me is really sad - confused, too, I think.  Some moments I feel in control and confident about the world.  Other times, I feel lost and at the whim of everything around me.

My prayer in this season of Christmas is for God to speak to me in a unique way as this Christmas certainly looks different than the way I am used to.  I long to be in touch with joy, peace and hope during this time...even if there are very real parts of me that feel sadness, chaos and loss of hope.

Cystic Fibrosis does not know about Christmas time or holidays or family vacations.  It does not know about hopes and dreams and desires.  But I do.  And I pray that God will reveal himself in a new way this season in the midst of this conflict.

We're packed and ready to go.  We will be at the hospital by 7AM!
 

Oliver talks Tornadoes

Oliver's favorite Storm Chaser is Reed Timmer from the show "Storm Chasers."

Oliver has most recently been talking about how he wants to riding with Reed in his red "Dominator" car ("the one with spikes") and chase tornadoes in Oklahoma - seriously.

So, last night, Oliver sat down with me to record Reed a message:



I posted the youtube video on Reed's facebook page last night and within an hour, Reed had already commented: "That is adorable! I'm going to share this!"  

Within minutes, Reed had posted and tweeted Oliver's video to all of his fans:
Check out young Oliver, only 4 years old and is obsessed with tornadoes already! I think it's safe to say we'll see him out on the Plains in no time!
This morning, I explained to Oliver that Reed had seen his message and liked it.  Oliver grinned really big.  I explained that Reed was probably not able to come pick him up in his red car and take him to Oklahoma right now but...that Reed had shown his message to all of Reed's "friends." 

Oliver really enjoyed hearing that and asked if Reed had shown his video to Reed's storm chasing buddy, Joel (to which I said, "probably").

And then, Oliver said, "well, when Reed comes and gets me, I'm going to show him tornadoes in Texas." 

Buddy, I hope Reed comes by and picks you up.  And I hope you eventually do get to see a tornado!



Surgery Preparation and lab results

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We heard from the hospital today.  Surgery has been scheduled for 8:15AM on Thursday.  We will report to the hospital shortly before then.  The surgery is expected to take around two hours.  He will then recover for the next two days.

I am hopeful that Christmas will be an incentive for everyone to help Bennett heal as quickly as possible.  I also expect that moving his surgery up from noon to 8AM will facilitate in a quicker discharge.  But, there is a very good chance we could be in the hospital on Christmas if anything goes wrong.

The Pediatric Surgeon called me today to let me know she did finally hear back on Bennett's lab work.  It turns out that he has no infection.  Therefore, this most recent episode of rectal prolapse has no real origin.

This is good because we have no infection to worry about (particularly C.Diff.).  But this is bad because it does make Bennett very prone to having rectal prolapse issues at any moment of the day.

This is even more reason why it is best for us to complete this surgery sooner than later.  We are so happy to know that, after surgery, this issue may be resolved for some time.

The surgery is not guaranteed to last and is almost definitely not going to resolve his issues completely.  But, it's our best chance for success for the time being.  So, we're looking forward to solving this issue and, hopefully, preventing more ER visits due to rectal prolapse in the future!

Tomorrow is our day to prepare before surgery.  I am so so very thankful for a few more days to prepare!
 

Santa Picture 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

One of the things I was really looking forward to about going out of town for Christmas was getting to take the boys to visit Santa at Bass Pro Shops.

We don't have one near Waco but I absolutely *love* the Santa experience at Bass Pro Shops.  It's peaceful, joyful and every year so far we have received a beautiful picture (for free, mind you)!

There are alot of things that are disappointing about having to cancel our Christmas plans this year. But, in an effort to make the best of our situation, I decided to take the boys to visit Santa at our local mall instead (big mistake!).

I was willing to cough up the money and I was ready to wait in line. But what I wasn't ready for was the less-than-joyful experience:

Santa with missing teeth...a very grumpy sales lady...annoying rules that prevented us from videotaping their Santa experience...a ridiculous price for a picture that did not capture my boys best smiles.

In an effort not to show my disappointment and effectively ruin the boys' Santa experience, Brian and I just graciously smiled while giving over our $21 for a picture we didn't really want.

Fortunately, the boys enjoyed meeting the very sweet Santa.  (Oliver didn't notice Santa was missing most of his teeth).  Oliver spent time telling Santa about tornadoes.  Bennett enjoyed waving to Santa and bravely crawled in his lap once big brother showed him how to confidently do it.

So, this probably won't go down as my favorite family Christmas ever.  But, I think the boys won't know much different.  And the best thing is, there is always next year!



Picture with Santa 2010





Surgery Planned for Thursday

I spoke with the Pediatric Surgeon this afternoon. She has still not heard anything with regard to Bennett's labs. I hope to hear one way or the other later today.

At this point, since Bennett's rectum has returned to normal (meaning he can sit, eat and play like he always does), emergency surgery today is off the table.  We are very happy to be able to resume our life as normal at this point.

However, we are very concerned about the risk of this happening again, particularly during our travels out of state for Christmas.  So, we have made the difficult decision to go forward to surgery as soon as possible.

Therefore, surgery has been scheduled for midday on Thursday.  This will include a 2-3 day hospital stay meaning we hope to be discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve.

We are disappointed to have to do it at the holidays and possibly even risk having to be in the hospital on Christmas. 

But it's nice that the hospital we will be at isn't far from home (thank goodness we won't have to be in Dallas for it!).  And even better, our family is planning to travel to our house so we won't have to miss Christmas with them, even if we are stuck at the hospital.

Everything could change again if the stool sample results indicate infection.  But as of now, this is our plan. 

Waiting to hear about today

We haven't heard back from the doctor about the results of the stool specimens.

Bennett's rectal prolapse did resolve itself this morning on its own. So, essentially, he is back to normal. The issue we face is whether or not we want to go forward with surgery or wait until after the holidays.

Our greatest fear is being out of state and needing to do the surgery. So, if we can, we will elect today. However, when surgery is more of an election, it sometimes means it can get bumped back a day or two to allow for more immediate surgeries. If this is the case, we will probably wait.

We are waiting to hear from the doctor to decide.

ER Visit Completed

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We were able to delay going into the ER until late this morning.  I woke up around 8AM (after being awake almost all night long with Bennett's crying and my worrying about what to do about his rectal prolapse).  I put a call into the Pediatric Surgeon.  I knew that she'd probably advise us come to the ER.
She had a suggestion of one thing we could try to treat the rectal prolapse before coming in (she probably could sense my hesitation and desire to not have to come in if at all possible).  She suggested sugar. 

When the rectum (or bowel) protrudes through the anus and won't go back in, it can often begin swelling.  Swelling of the protruding bowel is what makes the bowel difficult to put back into the bottom without manual manipulation.  Unfortunately, even with manual manipulation (read: sticking my fingers in his butt and trying to make his bowel go back in), Bennett's prolapse would not recede, mainly because he feels the need to push it back out again (as Brian says, "that's supposed to be a one-way hole").

Sugar is supposed to help the osmosity of the edema (swelling) go down so that the bowel can return to its normal spot.  (Salt can also be used but it's much more painful!)

Over the phone, the doctor instructed me to pour a bunch of sugar on the protruding bowel.  "Pour sugar on it like you sugar a cookie" she said.  So, I did. 

Unfortunately, the sugar-on-the-bowel trick didn't work.  So, by 11AM, we were down in Temple at the Children's Hospital Emergency Room.

There, we met with the Pediatric Surgeon who assessed Bennett's situation and agreed that surgery is necessary.  Thankfully, like our last hospitalization for this issue, loss of Bennett's bowel does not seem to be an issue.  (His sphincter muscle is so loose that it has not cut off blood supply to the bowel yet).

The surgeon wanted to confirm he does not have an infection in his bowels (such as C.Diff).  But if the tests come back negative tomorrow, we will head for surgery tomorrow afternoon.

Initially, the doctor wanted to admit us to the hospital so Bennett's condition could be observed while we wait for the tests to come back and for our surgery to begin.  But I begged to go home.  I couldn't even imagine having to stay in the hospital for 24 hours for nothing more than observation.

Thankfully, the surgeon agreed that I was very observant and could monitor his situation at home.  We agreed that we would return home, rest and pack up to come back to the hospital tomorrow afternoon.

If the stool specimen tests come back indicating an infection, we will be forced to treat the infection first before surgery.  However, if they come back clear, the plan is surgery for tomorrow.  Should the rectal prolapse go back in on its own in the meantime, we may consider rescheduling the surgery until after Christmas.   Since we plan to travel this holiday season, Brian and I prefer to get the surgery over as soon as possible.

Either way, it has been determined surgery is necessary.
We shall see what tomorrow brings...

Contemplating an ER Visit

I heard the music in my dreams but wasn't sure what it was.  I kept thinking it would go away but it didn't.  I finally awoke to realize: it really was music and I really was dreaming.

It was 4:44am and Bennett had crawled out of his bed, walked into our living room, found the remote and turned on the TV, which began playing the DVD introduction to the 1940's Superman serial that Brian and I had been watching before we went to bed a few hours earlier.

Bennett was out of his bed, which didn't surprise me because I chose not to hook him up to his g-tube feeding bag last night.  What choice did I have?  He was going to have to sleep on his stomach with his butt in the air so it didn't seem like he would want to sleep on his g-tube tubing.

Bennett's rectal prolapse made its arrival last night around 8pm and now I sit staring at the clock at 6am and realize nothing has changed.  Bennett is whining in his bed right now.  He's uncomfortable and wants relief.

But this very issue had us in the hospital almost 1 year ago to the day.  And it turned out that the rectal prolapse solved itself without any intervention.  So, I wonder, will it do again?

I've been told that there is a very seriousness to rectal prolapse, issues with strangulation of the bowel which would mean the bowel would die and have to be cut off.  There can also be an overall issue with swelling that can prevent it from going back in.

But it simply may be that the rectal prolapse will spontaneously resolve itself with no help at all.  The issue is that Bennett, being 2, wouldn't let us push it back in.  It's uncomfortable and makes him want to just push back.

The GI doctor at our local Children's hospital, a doctor I greatly revere and trust, has told me we can come into the ER, if we want.  But there isn't much they can do.  He feels it will likely resolve on his own but he also realizes that if it doesn't, we will have to have an ER admission (which usually includes a brief hospital stay).

My greatest fear is having to spend a day or two at the hospital for no reason.  Hospitals are NO fun.  It can feel like prison.  Once you're there, you can't leave until they tell you that you can.  And hospitals are like nursing homes, everybody has one pace: slow.

So, one does not want to have to spend their Sunday at the hospital unless it is absolutely necessary.
Unfortunately, by the looks of things, I'm afraid we're gonna have no choice.

The doctor is letting me make the call on whether to go to the ER.  I am trying to consider everything: will the prolapse resolve on its own?  will they be able to do anything at the hospital I can't do at home?  will Bennett get more rest at home or at the hospital?  will Oliver be ok if we do this?  will our being admitted to the hospital delay our Christmas plans?  will Bennett need surgery?  what is causing Bennett's current bout with rectal prolapse at this point?  is it worse to stay home or go to the hospital?  why am I having to make this decision?  what if I make the wrong one?

I will wait until hospital shift change before I go.  (Shift change is the worst because half of the people are trying to exit the building and the other half are just showing up for work.)  I'm afraid by the looks of things, our only choice is going to be to be admitted.

Cystic Fibrosis, I really really dislike you.

Christmas Traditions: Advent

Saturday, December 17, 2011


One of the most fun things about this Christmas is the introduction of new family traditions. 

And our new favorite traditions is the lighting of our Advent Wreath.  (Much of our new Advent tradition comes from our dear friends, Josh and Lindsay Carney, so I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due!  We loved seeing how engaged their children were in their nightly Advent tradition that we decided to do it too!)


This year, we made a homemade wreath with our church and brought it back home to light each night.  Although we wait to light a new candle each Sunday, once it's lit, we light the wreath each night after dinner.  The center white candle is lit on Christmas Day.  The children identify the name of each candle: Hope (Purple, Week 1), Peace (Purple, Week 2), Joy (Pink, Week 3), Love (Purple, Week 4).


The boys are fascinated with fire and love blowing the candles out at the end.  (We just have to make sure to keep Bennett's little curious fingers from grabbing the candles when he tries to blow them out.  By the way, he still thinks "blowing" out a candle involves some level of spitting on it.)


The boys do a wonderful job listening intently to our 3-minute nightly Advent reading and the reading of our daily wrapped Christmas book from our Christmas Book Countdown.



As a guide for telling the story of why we participate in Christmas, we read a select page from the book "My First Read and Learn Countdown to Christmas." 


This book offers daily readings to be read out loud for young children in order to help them understand elements of Christmas (Christmas trees, Jesus' birth, angels, Christmas carols, etc).


The book also offers a prayer that the children will say along with me.  Sometimes they are as simple as, "Dear God, Thank you for Jesus. Amen."  I love watching my little boys pray.


But the boys' very favorite part of our nightly Advent tradition is the opening of their chocolate Advent calendars.  Each night, we open a door corresponding with the date to find a small piece of chocolate.  The boys love this part and wait very patiently for this part to come.  (We started out with two advent calendars, one for each boy.  But Brian and I began to longingly desire a little piece of chocolate each night ourselves, so I found two more calendars at our local grocery store. :))

We look forward to using this tradition as a template for teaching about the Christmas story each year.  As the boys get older, we will begin looking for a new book to guide us.  But for now, this is a perfect mix of ways to teach the boys about Advent (which means to "wait") and the true meaning of Christmas.