Saturday, March 9, 2019

It's Still Winter

We're holding our breath for spring and warmer weather here.  I think winter's felt extra long because we've had no snow (or snow days off from school!) all year.  It's a long haul between Christmas break and Spring break when you get no breaks in between!  

The big news this month is that Dan had surgery to remove skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma) on his cheek.  He's had a scar below his eye that's been growing for a couple of years now. He visited the dermatologist over Christmas break and after they confirmed it was cancer, they scheduled his surgery in early February.  He had a quarter-sized area removed from his cheek the first day, then they sent him home for the night.  That part wasn't so bad.  The next day was his facial reconstruction surgery where they cut and stretched his skin to cover the hole.  It was a pretty traumatic 2-hour procedure (Dan was awake the whole time!), and he walked out hardly recognizable on that side of his face because of the scar, bruising, and extreme swelling.  He was very uncomfortable for three days and spent a lot of time resting, trying not to make any painful facial expressions, and icing his swollen cheek and eye. But thankfully, the swelling went down quickly after that, and he felt much more like himself.

The before picture. 

After the cancer removal, bandaged and waiting a day for reconstruction

Two days post-reconstruction surgery. He was uncomfortably swollen and still had stitches.

And after three weeks of healing, it's looking good!  

We think that eventually the scar will be hardly noticeable. Especially since Dan's skin care regiment is putting mine to shame. He's taking such good care of it every day.

 In the midst of Dan's recovery, we celebrated Valentine's Day. The girls got small gifts from Dan and I, and special cards and spending money from their Grandma, Grandpa, Papa, and Nana.  They were so excited. My parents babysat the girls that weekend so Dan and I could have a date, too!

Our Hallie girl is growing by leaps and bounds! She just turned two and a half and wants to do everything she sees her big sister doing. She's also getting sick every month. Nothing too bad recently - just nasty colds with fevers, but they seem to hit every few weeks. She stays pretty cheerful most of the time anyway.

Our little princess, reading a story to me.

 Telling us how cold it is outside. Haha!

And finally tackling a handstand in her gymnastics class! She's also brave enough to do a somersault at home, although she still refuses to do one in class.

 Emma's school celebrated Liberty Day on President's Day, where they recognized the military members of the students' families. My dad (Papa) was in the Army during Vietnam, and he and Emma walked down the aisle together during the ceremony. 

Speaking of school, Emma is impressing us with how she's progressing in her handwriting and sentence writing skills. She wrote this in class and it was the sweetest thing!

Emma got Fifth Disease (also called "Slapped Cheek Syndrome") one weekend, which causes a temperature and rash on the cheeks and body. She's showing off her rashy cheeks and forearm, which were pretty itchy. It's just a virus that needs to run its course, but we kept her home from school a day in case she was still contagious.

The virus didn't take the spunk out of her, though!

Emma and I tagged along with our friends Cynthia and her daughters, Olivia and Kailey, to pick out some baby chicks! They plan to raise them so they'll have laying hens and fresh eggs.

Emma absolutely loved holding and petting the chicks! 

We've got fun events scheduled soon, so we're praying for better health for our family this month! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Christmas and New Year

Well, I finally have time to catch up on our Christmas!  My brother, Steve, and his 3-year-old daughter, Meera, visited us and made our Christmas week tons of fun!  Steve's wife, Sheila, was 8 months pregnant and unable to make it to VA this year.  But we appreciated her letting her family join us for a little while during the holidays. :)

The girls were ecstatic about getting to spend time with Meera!  We played at our house and Nana and Papa's house, decorated cookies, went to playgrounds on warmer days, and visited mall play areas on colder days. 

For the second year in a row, we walked through a beautiful (expensive) neighborhood in Virginia Beach to admire their wonderful Christmas decorations. We also drove through the Virginia Beach Merry Mile, where there are Christmas light displays along the beach boardwalk. 

Steve treated us to a gourmet home-cooked meal one night. Dan and my mom were his sous-chefs.

My parents had a ball with all three girls in town!

Next year will be even more fun with a baby boy in the mix!

The girls looking pretty in their Christmas dresses at church

They were both tired of smiling for the camera, but I thought this one turned out sweet.

Family Christmas photo

We had a belated Christmas celebration with the Jester family after everyone came back into town from their travels.  There were mountains of presents for all the kids and everyone had a blast hanging out together.

Then the holidays ended, and Disease Month struck!  Hallie and Emma both caught a flu-like virus that gave them high fevers and a terrible cough.  Hallie got over it in less than a week, but Emma's fever persisted for more than 10 days and she missed two weeks of school.  She had developed ear infections and pneumonia from her virus, which extended her fever.  Her entire school's attendance was way down in January due to the flu, strep throat, and other viruses being passed around between the students and staff.  

Here was at least half of our January, in summary:

Lots and lots of TV time


and doctor visits

Dan and I took turns staying home with the girls while they were sick, and miraculously, neither of us caught their virus!

We did squeeze some fun things into January. Dan took Emma on a Daddy-Daughter date to the Portsmouth Children's Museum. She had been begging to go since Christmas and they had the best time. A few weeks later, Hallie and I got to join Emma's class on a field trip there again. Emma was thrilled to go twice in a month!

The girls sitting with Emma's class, getting instructions about proper behavior at the Children's Museum. :)

They have tons of regular exhibits at the museum, but one of the rooms has a rotating exhibit. This time, the entire room was dedicated to Thomas the Train!  The kids loved it!  Hallie is dressed like a conductor and Emma is riding Thomas. 

We started taking the girls to a gymnastics class on Saturday mornings in January. 

Emma absolutely loves it. They set up obstacle courses for the kids to accomplish each week, which is so much fun. She's showing us how strong and coordinated she is!

 She can cross all the balance beams independently

And she nailed a headstand on her first try!

Hallie's class is a parent & child toddler class.  They encourage the little ones to do the same activities as the older kids, with assistance. Hallie enjoys it, but puts her foot down about any exercise that requires her to go upside down. She absolutely HATES somersaults, head stands, flips, etc. But she's willing to climb, balance, and jump as long as we're beside her.  I think we'll see her progress quickly in the next few months.

My birthday was in January, and some of my sweet coworkers took me out for a nice lunch.

We celebrated with the extended family a couple of weeks later after the girls were feeling well.

But the sweetest thing about January was this:

Our nephew, Rowan Paul Krishnan Campbell, was born on January 19th! Steve, Sheila, and Meera are all besotted, and so are the rest of us! He's adorable and we can't wait to meet him in person!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Oh What Fun!

We celebrated our favorite guy's birthday this month! Dan turned 50 on December 1st, and thank the Lord his back has mended so he doesn't feel his age. He's such a blessing every day to his friends, coworkers, and especially to us! He's the best husband and father we could imagine, and we thank God for him!

I cannot imagine life without this man!

Dan's birthday weekend was the perfect time to put up our Christmas decorations. 

We bought a larger, pre-lit Christmas tree from Costco this year, and we love it! I hung Advent envelopes over our fireplace with a Scripture verse and candy inside. Emma has read the verses to us each evening and the girls love getting a daily candy surprise as we count down to Christmas!

 We hung some of the more delicate ornaments near the top of the tree, but *somebody* is determined not to let that stop her. Heh!

Dan's back was finally feeling much better, so he decided to get on the roof to decorate with lights. My dad helped me with the yard decorations.

Our sweet home, ready for Christmas!

We attended the Norfolk Grand Illumination Parade this year for the first time. Dan's parents, and our friends, Jenna and her son Elisha came, too.

Group shot before the parade started. It was one of the biggest parades we've seen and lasted 2.5 hours!

 I love Emma's expression. She absolutely loves parades, and asked if she could ride on a parade float someday. 

We visited Busch Gardens Christmas Town with Dan's sister, Robin and her family. It's such a beautiful place to enjoy during the holidays!

Our group watching the Sesame Street Christmas show in the kids' play area. 

My parents and I drove to the Washington DC area to spend an evening with my Aunt Ann, cousin Kim, and her family.
It was so nice to catch up with them! Kim (3rd from left) is in the Navy and has recently been re-stationed in Washington DC.

 My parents, Dan's parents, and Dan and I went to see a Mannheim Steamroller concert. 

And we spent Dan's birthday weekend in Williamsburg so we could watch the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas Parade, then have Dan's birthday party with the family. This was our group sitting in the cold, light rain, waiting for the parade to begin. We all had a blast despite the drizzly weather.

Dan's funniest birthday gift was an "old man" cane with accessories from his (older) brother, Tim. It came with a huge "happy pill" box, an ear megaphone, Coke bottle glasses, and an "old man coming through" horn to honk.

  I'm sure he'll put it to good use. Haha!

The following morning, I ran the Busch Gardens Christmas Town 8k Dash. Dan and my former co-worker, Lori, were supposed to join me, but Dan was worried about re-injuring his back, and Lori was sick that weekend. 

But I found a fun friend at the race and had a great time. :)

Robin and Rob's church entered a float for the Hopewell, VA Christmas parade, and Emma's wish came true when they invited her to be an angel on their float!  She was so excited about it until she had to sit around and wait 2 hours before the parade began. She was *this* close to deciding she was done when I offered to ride with her, just to keep her from bailing. So I ended up being the biggest angel on that float, but Emma was happy. We sang Christmas carols and waved to the crowds and made a fun memory.

Emma and I with her cousins Miriam and Naomi 

Hallie didn't ride on the float, but she wanted to dress like an angel after the parade was over, too. 

We attended Emma's elementary school Christmas performance, which was adorable. 

Emma is standing on the very right in the red dress.

We visited Regent University's Christmas Village, and Hallie and Emma got a kick out of the kids' activities - especially the teacup ride.
Dan and Hallie spun together

Emma's in the shadows, riding with her friend Elisha and his mom, Jenna

My coworkers and I coordinated a women's Christmas potluck at work. 

All dressed up for the party

All the ladies enjoyed the food and a white elephant gift exchange. The men in the office enjoyed the leftovers!

 Dan and I got fancied up and attended my company's Christmas party on the Spirit of Norfolk harbor dinner cruise. 

Emma got to dress up at school during her last week before Christmas break. We didn't have a Christmas character costume, so we improvised to make her a rosy-cheeked snow girl. So cute!

Hallie and I participated in Emma's class Christmas party on her last day before break.

The kids did a gift exchange, ate Chick-Fil-A nuggets for lunch, and decorated cookies for dessert. The girls did a thorough job decorating their cookies, and only ate the sprinkles off the tops. 

Now Dan and Emma are on Christmas break and we've gotten to enjoy fun days off together. The weather has been cold, but generally nice, and I got some sweet pictures of the girls playing in our front yard. 

We love this busy, fun season!