We know Jersey needs a run when she prances into our bedroom and steals a stray sock from Joey’s messy closet. Then she saunters past us until we notice her thievery and dodges underneath our bed, taunting us to come get it from her. Even when we’re tired, we’ll climb on the floor and play along. Jersey is good at making us laugh. She reminds us not to take life too

Finn loves to play too. His favorite games of late are peekaboo, crunches on our lap (he’s his momma’s boy), dropping toys off the edge of his high chair, and smacking his lips. I can’t wait for us to play puzzles and trains and Hungry Hungry Hippos!

I think playtime isn’t just for puppies or babies. Somewhere I’ve heard “marriages that play together (oh, and pray together), stay together.” Every now and then it’s healthy for Joey and I to go do something fun together…and staring at a movie screen without really interacting doesn’t count. We try to do something different; spontaneous. Like rock climbing or mountain biking or trying a new restaurant. And we’re already dreaming about our anniversary trip (in June) to Mexico. Today we went for a jog at Lake Hefner before Finn’s orthopedic

Finn's the only one I know who can have fun in a waiting room...after an hour and a half of waiting...

Finn’s the only one I know who can have fun in a waiting room…after an hour and a half of waiting…

In Slovenia (summer of 2008) we often found ourselves sitting in a tent in the pouring rain. We had exhausted every sudoku, crossword puzzle, played Slovene Uno and read the entire Narnia series. We were so bored that we spent hours making up a card game. Most nights before we fall asleep, we play Othello, bluetooth Nerts, scribble out a crossword puzzle, or most recently, we play Welder on the iPad.

Take it from a black lab named Jersey and go do something fun with the people you

Sweet Potatoes and Inside Jokes

Windows are open and the cool hill country air sweeps through my parents’ living room. The wind chime my dad requested as an early Christmas gift jingles behind Finn’s giggling. Chad taught him how to shake his head “no” a couple days ago. Thanks, Brother.

As soon as we walked into my parents’ house Monday night after a loooong trek down I35, we felt at rest. Not only because we have three extra pairs of hands to help us care for Finn and the Jersey dog, but because these people are family. We enjoy each others’ company. We share inside jokes.

It’s been entirely too long since we’ve seen Chad. He is a wise old man stuck in a 25 year old body. He has this “life plan” and decided he’d get in incredible shape this year via body weight training, road cycling and juicing (fruits and veggies, not steroids). So he gave me the week off and played personal trainer. He led Joey and I through a couple morning workouts. Here’s one of his “doozies” (that’s a classic Deb word):

15 clap push ups

15 squats thrusts for me and 15 pull ups on a tree branch for the boys

15 single leg lunges

10 handstand push ups

1 min. 30 sec spiderman planks

1 min. side planks

5 uphill sprints; high knees on the way down

Drink water. Repeat.

More festivities: the boys got massages (not together…weird), I got a heavenly facial (at half-price because the esthetician had to leave four times to go potty), we shopped and spent too much while the parents babysat, we played Settlers–I won!, the boys went to Dave and Busters (Joey won me a bracelet), we celebrated Chad’s 25th birthday (early), we ate a delish Thanksgiving meal of cajun fried turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, mashed sweet potatoes (Finn’s fav), garlic bread, and cranberry stuffing. Tradition is that once we’ve stuffed our faces we discuss what we’re thankful for. Bittersweet answers this year. Tears of pain and hope.

We trade off Christmas and Thanksgiving with our families and celebrate Christmas early at Thanksgiving. This year’s spoils: iPad, BOB jogging stroller, and professional juicer! Whoa. I mean, we are blessed. We also braved Black Friday shopping at 5:30am. Target was a ghost-town thanks to Black Thursday…and not really any good deals either. But World Market made up for Target’s stinginess…buy one get one free–just about everything. Not sure how we’ll get all four of us and our purchases home without suffocating.

Finn has been doing so well. It’s obvious he’s feeling better. Praise God! Still not sleeping well, but we’ll take one blessing at a time. Lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving…and every day after.

All Better

I can hear my mom saying this phrase to my seven year old self, knees skinned from falling off my bike. Big Bird band-aids and mommy’s kisses make it “all better.”

In Finn’s case, however, it took a couple neurosurgeons and a day of recovery in the hospital to remedy his boo-boos. Apparently Finn’s shunt was malfunctioning for about a month (we’re guessing), but finally broke/malfunctioned on Saturday.

He had an episode (hanging his head back at a 90 degree angle and screaming if we’d move it, eyes couldn’t focus, and going limp) that morning that he never really recovered from. Once we got to the ER Finn’s shunt turned bright red. I guess the CT he had the week before showed no malfunction because it hadn’t completely broken yet. I’m so thankful we listened to our gut and went back to the ER.

Finn is a million times better! We haven’t seen this Finn in over a month. He’s content, happy, energetic and observant. I can’t imagine how fussy I’d be if my head felt like it was going to explode under pressure most hours of the day. Poor little man!

Nana and Papa Armstrong surprised us with a visit!

Finn will have a follow up with our neurosurgeon in a couple weeks. We plan to head to San Antonio for Thanksgiving as long as he continues to feel well. Thank you for all your prayers, messages, texts, food, and cupcakes. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  God is so good.


The surgeons found the malfunction in the brain valve part of the shunt…the least complicated and invasive of options. Praise God! The incision looks very big to us, however. He’s on lots of pain meds, no food and only clear liquids. He’s uncomfortable but we’ve seen a couple smiles. He’s also peeing well! Hoping to sleep in our own bed tonight.



After several red flags this morning and many sporadic ones over the past several weeks, we are finally at Children’s with Finn waiting for the OR. Emergency shunt revision necessary due to enlarged ventricles in CT scan this afternoon.

We were headed into surgery around 8:00 but neurosurgeons were called away to another hospital for apparently something more urgent. Still waiting for our hungry, exhausted, uncomfortable Finn to be rolled into surgery for some relief.

Pray the surgeons are skilled (it won’t be our own).
Pray they find the malfunction quickly so surgery is less invasive.
Pray Finn recovers well.
Pray his bladder does not become paralyzed from anesthesia like it did during circumcision surgery.
It’d be nice to head down to SA for Thanksgiving like we’d all planned. Much needed family time with the Rosells.
Pray we are discerning and calm advocates for our son.




When Daddy Is Gone

…I give in and let Jersey snuggle with me on the couch. Only once. Then I lint roll the warm cushion once it’s time to go to bed.

I get the luxury of parking in the garage.

Finn cried throughout the night(s). Oh, every 30-45 minutes or so. Thought the ER visit was the end of this, but I took him back to the doctor and his ears, temperature, chest, and lungs all looked great. Just a very sore throat from lots of mucus. I think he’d say he’s got a headache too. We’ve ruled out the big stuff (shunt malfunction, flu, viruses, etc), so it’s a little maddening that my child seems like he’s in terrible pain with no explanation. Probably teething too? Praying he gets better very very soon. We need sleep. Please, God, we need sleep. This is one of those many times I regret that family is not near.

Clean fingers make cheap teethers.

I forget to eat dinner.

Friends take such good care of me. I am blessed.

The mailbox overflows with heating and air ads, medical bills and pizza coupons.

I intend to be so productive–clean, craft, wrap Christmas-at-Thanksgiving gifts, create new spin mixes on itunes, make baby food–but somehow I accomplish none of these.

I get to take and pick up Finn from daycare. The second he recognizes me is the best moment of my day.

I realize how much my November-bearded husband completes my day. Thankful he’s home…and he’s officially on night shift starting NOW. ๐Ÿ™‚

Little Bitty Family

It was a lot to ask from an eight month old, I know. An hour long photo shoot right after a busy day at daycare. Three outfit changes, a quick bottle feeding, no nap and big smiles. But he did it! Finn contributed to some dang cute family pictures. Here’s a sneak peek at some of our favs.

Huge applause and heartfelt thanks to Jennifer Copelin Photography! Check out her website for more info on how to book her for your family/holiday photos. She’s amazing. But hurry…her calendar is filling fast.