Peek at progress

Our kitchen has gone from this....

To this...

Still some finishing touches to be done...but we are getting there! We are thankful every day for all of the space and are just loving our new home!!!

Going to Grandpa's...

We took a trip across the lake this morning to visit my Grandpa and step-Grandmother...the kids were thrilled to see them and we had a good time! They even set up a little children's table in their den for the kids- going out of their way to make them comfortable. I thought it was funny that my 91 year old Grandpa sat at the "kid table" for lunch!
I know it is rare that little ones get to know their GREAT grandparents, and am so thankful for any time spent with them!!


Our Buddy

The St. Francis Animal Sanctuary has truly been an answer to our prayers. David and I picked Baxter up from the vet two Tuesdays ago and took to ride to Tylertown to bring him to his new home. As I am sure you can imagine, we were both very emotional the whole time, but also very thankful that we had found a solution that we could both live with. We enjoyed spending a little bit of time with him on the ride up- as we had parted quickly and not on the best terms after the incident with Elise. I knew that it would be hard, but I also knew that I wanted to see where he would be living and to meet his care takers and I felt that it would be part of the process of healing for me....In addition, we also knew it would help Elise if we could explain to her truthfully where Baxter was. We were able to see the grounds, meet some of the dogs, and meet two of the caretakers. We were especially happy to meet Echo- she would be taking care of Bax most of the time as he now lives with her and two other dogs in her cabin on the grounds.
When we drove away..we were thrilled to look back through our tears and see Bax playfully wagging his tail as he was introduced to his new room-mates- Missy and Lucy.
David called to check on him a few days later and Mrs. Susan said he was doing great! He promised her that we would not be calling constantly to bug them and she actually said that they do not mind at all- they are happy to give updates and even send pictures!!! We were thrilled to get some pictures this weekend...and seeing the pictures seemed to really help Elise as well.

Bax with his new friend Missy in the background...

All cozy on the bed...notice his dog bed in the background that we sent up there with him. His thought process has apparently not changed much- why sleep on a dog bed when there is a big human bed available???

On his front steps....
Echo says he actually likes being outside way more than any of us anticipated and he is running with his room-mates. That, along with the fact that he is no longer being fed scraps from two high chairs will probably be great for his health and weight.
Although we miss our dog and we all still have moments of tears, I can't tell you how grateful we are to have found a home for Bax. The people at St. Francis are amazing and their dedication to animals is inspiring. We are so thankful to have come into contact with such a great organization and hope that we are able to give back to them in the future...


Geaux Tigers!!

Congrats LSU! The kids were so excited when I suggested that they put on all of their LSU gear today to celebrate the Tigers winning the National Championship! Even better, our babysitter (that we adore!) is a recent LSU grad and she was coming this morning so that I could get a few errands run. They had a blast greeting her at the door and saying "gooooo tigers!!!"


Happy Weekend!

I was so thrilled to get to take a quick trip to the Mississippi Delta this weekend for a small baby shower for one of my best friends from college, Dianne, who is expecting TWIN boys this fall!!!!!!! I am so, so excited for her and her husband, and can't wait to meet Wyatt and Dyer (such cute names, right??)! I left Friday night and got to Greenville around 10. The shower was at 10:30 the next morning, and I drove back home, with a few stops in Jackson, yesterday. So, a VERY quick trip...but, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. As we were setting up for the shower I snapped a picture of the adorable cupcakes....YUM...and then meant to take more pictures (OF ACTUAL PEOPLE) later, but got too busy talking and having fun to do so. It was a much needed break and I am so thankful to David for holding down the fort for a night...

Per David's request, this morning we hit the donut shop on the way to church for a Father's Day breakfast. David's Mom came with us and then spent some time with us and the kids afterwards. After naps, we headed over to my parents house (we were supposed to have it here, but we are not quite "party ready" yet) to grill. Both sets of Grandparents were there, and it was wonderful to spend the afternoon celebrating all of the fathers in our family. I am feeling a little guilty because David actually grilled for everyone, so he was a hard-working Dad, even on Father's Day. But, he swears he didn't mind....

I again did not do too well in the photography department, but I did catch a picture of Elise working on a puzzle with her Great Grandpa, and namesake....

And one of David with his dynamic duo...pretty impressive since Bennett normally doesn't sit still for more than 5 seconds these days...The kids are so blessed to have so many wonderful fatherly role models in their lives, and most importantly, a wonderful Dad who lives, breathes and works for them. We love you David!
Happy Father's Day to all of the Dads and all of the soon to be Dads!!
Love, Nicole


Shout out

We love you!!!!!!!


3 and counting....

Elise cannot wait until her birthday! She has been counting down for months now...so, when I told her yesterday that we needed to do a photo shoot for the adorable invites Aunt Mo designed for her birthday party, she was thrilled! She was so cooperative- it was great! As you can see, the healing that is taking place on her face is amazing. I simply cannot get over how drastically different it looks, and how much better it gets every day....We are so thankful!
Hope everyone has a happy Tuesday!
Love, Nicole



I seriously thought we were headed back to the ER for the third time in two weeks last night. David was on his way home, but not home yet, it was past bed time, and the kids were definitely tired and crashing. Because it is never good enough for Bennett to just use a toy in the manner in which it was intended, because he always has to take it up a notch, he was standing on top of his indoor bike. I had corrected him once, and warned him if he did it again I would take it away. So then I was tending to Lila for a sec (in the same room, he was just now behind me) and I hear a HUGE CRASH. H-U-G-E. I turn around and see him face planted on the floors (the pine floors ya'll have been hearing about for weeks) and when I pick him up I notice in horror the teeth marks dented into the floor!!! I was SOOO SCARED TO LOOK, because the blood was already dripping. Alot.
I took a deep breath, looked, and thankfully all teeth were in tact. Lip was swelling and bleeding so it was hard to tell what that situation was. Got a cold rag and got David on the phone and luckily he was pulling into the driveway AND he had Popsicles in the car (he had just stopped at the store on his way home). So, the Popsicle went over much better than and ice pack and we were able to calm him down and eventually decided that we thought he could do with out stitches. He basically bit his lip very badly, but it was not all the way through and it was not gaping. And, seriously, we figured we would be reported to child services if we showed up in the ER again with another child with an injury. UGH. He was willing and able to chew a vanilla wafer just a few minutes later so we decided his teeth must be ok or he wouldn't have been able to do that. I will probably take him to the dentist this week at some point just to make sure.
So, a little more drama in the Parnell house. Definitely ready to be drama free and back to boring life again soon!

I tried to get a picture this afternoon, but you really can't tell. The swelling is much better already. Thank goodness for the popsicle!!

Box unpacking and house setting up goes pretty slowly (I am learning) when you have three kids at home with you. I basically didn't get one box unpacked this whole week. Kimberly invited Elise to spend the night last night because Will was out of town and she wanted to have a girls slumber party. Since she was gone, my parents kept Lila and Bennett for a few hours this morning so that David and I could get some stuff done. Then, this afternoon, David took them outside to play in the sprinkler so that I could continue the unpacking. Amazing how much you can get done uninterrupted!!!!!!!
(**side note- I don't recommend highly the 3 year old sleep over. We paid dearly today and Elise was completely exhausted, refused to nap, and so was pretty much a total basket case all day. Needless to say she was in bed early tonight.)

Here's Lila having some fun in the backyard....

Elise is doing much better! As you can see, no more bandages!!!! We saw the plastic surgeon yesterday and he thought everything looked good. Now we just use a TON of sunscreen and wait. We go back in 4 weeks for a follow up. Elise is a little nervous without her band-aids, but she is adjusting. I think part of it was that we had our little routine 3 times a day where we took care of her "bo-bo", and I think she misses that...

After many tears, much thought, deliberation, discussion, and prayer, we have found a resolution and home for Baxter. Although in an ideal situation we would be sending him to live with an older couple where he would be number 1, we have not been able to locate such a situation for him. We have, however, been in contact with the St. Francis Animal Sanctuary in south Mississippi. Although our situation is not the norm in which they receive animals, they have agreed to take Baxter and let him live in an indoor group setting with other older dogs and a companion. We, in turn, have offered to cover most of his expenses and to assist in some fund-raising efforts for their cause, which we will do happily. David has had numerous, numerous conversations with the directors of the facility and we feel confident that we are sending him to a place where he will be loved. Obviously it is with much sadness that we give our dog away, but we want him to have a chance to be happy and to spend the remaining years of his life feeling loved and having company. Neither David, nor I, could come to peace with the decision to euthanize him at this time as we feel that he still has much love to give. The director has assured us that if Bax is not thriving in his new environment and adjusting well to his new living arrangements she would let us know and at that time we can revisit any alternatives. Although it is going to be extremely difficult, David and I plan on taking him up there together so that we can tell him goodbye and make sure we feel comfortable with the arrangement when we actually see it.
The goal there is to often adopt out their rescues, but because of "the bite" Baxter would not be a candidate for adoption. I do encourage any of you if you are considering a new pet to think about adopting from St. Francis. I know if and when we are ever ready to get another dog that is where it will be from.

Guess I've gone on long enough....
Love, Nicole


Everything under the sun

I think I will cover just about everything in this post! I finally decided to upload all of the pictures from my phone and so I came across a few "oldie but goodies" (one of my favorite sayings...as most things old are good!)....
In addition I need to start with a HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Emmy AND Pop!! Emmy's birthday was yesterday, and Pop's is today! We know they are having a great time celebrating in St. Barth's. What better way to spend your birthday?! Happy Birthday!!!! We will have to have some cake for you, David, and L&B when ya'll return!
Below you can see my handsome son (I'm biased, I know) modeling his cute Christmas present from Aunt Mo...A tshirt with his favorite buddy Mozart on it! Caught this one afternoon in Mimi and Grandpa's backyard...

This is the awesome chair I found at Goodwill a few months ago for our guest room (and Lila's future room). For $30. I love it. Although I actually love it the way it is, I think it will be adorable re-upholstered in something fun like chocolate with white polka dots or a pink and white damask.

For obvious reasons the next two pictures brought up a ton of emotions...I almost didn't post them because I don't want this to turn into a depressing "scrapbook", but then I decided it would be a crime not to post some happy pictures of our sweet Bax. I remember this afternoon like it was yesterday (but only after the pictures reminded me). I was desperate for Elise to take a nap and so I laid down in her big bed while she laid in the day bed, hoping this would work. Bax, as usual, wanted to be where we were, and so he came in and laid down on the floor next to her. She wanted him to be cozy and so she covered him all up. And he just laid there like a good boy.

We all miss him very much. I wanted to thank you all for all of your kind words on my last post. It really meant so much. I know as time goes on this whole thing will get so much easier...and so, we wait....
On a happier note, this picture CRACKS ME UP. I can't believe how much they look alike in it...My girly girls. Love them up.

I actually took the below pics last night when we were leaving Mimi and Grandpa's. Part of the Tuesday night routine is that the kids each get some M&Ms in a little bag when we go. (Well, it used to apply just to Elise, but now L & B have wised up). Grandpa brought the whole jar outside last night and got swarmed by the kids for the ema-ema-ema-ema-ems...as they say!

The other part of the routine is that all three take the walk up the walkway to their front door. Don't really know why they do this, but they do...and they are sooo excited to do it!! You can barely see Bennett way over on the front porch...

Today we spent most of the day outside...the kids are absolutely loving the new backyard here and I love that it is super shady and we can actually tolerate being outside! I decided to let them water the plants, but it turned much more into a hose fight! They had a great time though!

Bennett was a maniac with the hose...He definitely loves the water. He kept spraying himself in the face and cracking up...

David's parents gave the twins this picnic table for their birthday, and all three kids are LOVING it! I feed them lunch outside everyday....

We had a fun day in the sun and everyone seems to feel much better, me included. Lila and I had a virus over the weekend, but luckily Elise and Bennett seem fine. YIPPEE! Too bad all of the time outdoors did not translate into good naps today. Bummer...but, maybe they'll have to catch up tomorrow...
Hope everyone is having a good week.
Love, Nicole


Lila and Bennett's Belated Birthday pics

We had a very small family celebration last Sunday for Lila and Bennett's Birthday. I normally try to make birthdays very special and love planning all of the little details, but this year with the move I really couldn't get it together. So, we sang Happy Birthday with Mimi and Grandpa and my parents Sunday night.
Sweet Elise showing me how old her brother and sister are (her two fingers kind of got cut off)...

Lila eagerly anticipating cake!

Bennett's turn (or "BB's term" as they say....)

David handled the party details as I had been on ballet recital duty that day...I thought the cake was adorable...and good!!!

Lila showing off her cute monkey pj's from the Bristers...

And Bennett showing off both his pj's and the car that Elise gave him...which, he has been sleeping with ever since!
The kids had a blast and they didn't realize that there were no coordinating invites, outfits, party favors, or any of the other dumb stuff I usually worry about!
I still can't believe they are two!



Today has been tough.
Elise seems to be doing fine. We saw the surgeon today and he was cautiously optimistic. Wants to follow her a little more closely than he originally thought, so we will see him again next week. I, on the other hand, am struggling today. I usually stay focused on the kids and what is going on with them here, but today I just feel like I need to vent and for some reason this just feels like a good place to do it. Lila and Bennett are napping and Elise is playing quietly in her room. I should be getting things accomplished (laundry caught up on and boxes unpacked), but all I can do is sit here frozen while my mind races. I keep going over and over Thursday night and what happened. I keep revisiting the horrible visit to the ER on Sunday. I keep picturing sweet Bax sitting in a kennel probably totally confused. And I can't stop crying. I guess I kept everything suppressed this week as I spent 24-7 with Elise. I had to stay strong for her. And trust me, I know that among many other people's problems these are very small. I really do know that. I keep reminding myself of that and hoping that will make it hurt less. But, it doesn't. I miss my dog. And then, I get mad at myself for missing an animal that hurt my child so badly. The truth is that as much as I complained about Baxter, his shedding, his neediness, and as much as I really did not have the time to give him the attention he needed anymore, I still love him and he was a member of our family. That is just how we view our animals, and both David and I were brought up that way. It feels weird to be home and not have him here, not have a dog here. Other than my first 3 years in college, when I lived in a dorm, I have always had a dog. Always. I guess the bottom line is that I just really don't like any of our options right now. We had a few potential new homes for Bax, and those have all fallen through. I truly believe that he would be miserable in a shelter. Obviously, he cannot come back here. (And this has been reiterated to me by every Dr. we saw in the hospital). We've been warned against giving him away to someone we don't know...as sadly those animals are often abused. The vets that have treated him his whole life (and that we have known forever) feel that he should be euthanized. He has exhibited aggressive behavior in the past (only to other dogs who have first been aggressive towards him) and has now bitten a child. They said that adopting him out may be passing on a problem, and that as he ages his tolerance level may just be getting less and less. So, that is where we are. In a sucky situation (for lack of a better word).
It's tough.
I guess this is sort of a lesson. Something I have been learning (though never this brutally before) in my short time as a parent.
Selfishness has to go out the window.
Parents have to make sacrifices for their children. Up until now I have been lucky and those sacrifices have just been superficial (although fun :)) things like Starbucks and manicures and pedicures! But it doesn't matter if it is hard for me, or David, or even Elise, and if we are sad because we can't keep our pet any longer. What matters is that above all else, we have to protect our children to the best of our ability. Even if it means making a very hard decision that we really don't want to make.
It's tough.


Home sweet home

We are home! We are thrilled that we were able to grab a bite to eat tonight as a family to celebrate David's birthday and Elise's return home from the hospital. Lila and Bennett were so happy to see her, and gave her huge hugs when she walked in the door!
She was also happy to see that along with her "bo-bo" on her face, the "bo-bo" at the house (missing floors) has also greatly improved. Looks like we will be able to start moving some furniture in on Saturday.
As for Elise, she is doing drastically better. As I expected, the removal of the IV did not go especially well...poor thing had so much tape on her arm and I know that had to really hurt, but she seemed to forget pretty quickly and did an actual dance when David got to the hospital to pick us up. We are going to follow up with the plastic surgeon tomorrow (I haven't broken the news to her yet) because I noticed that the area in between the two puncture wounds is very hard to the touch and we just want to be 100% sure that everything is fine. Today was my first day on "wound care" and the physical therapist that had been changing the dressing up until today had never mentioned anything about it. So, better safe than sorry.
I feel badly that both the twins' and David's birthdays got kind of pushed to the side this year...but I know L & B don't really know and David understands...or, at least that is what I keep telling myself! I also know that it really was a great gift for David to have E home and have us all together for his birthday! He is a great husband and Dad, and all he really wants is for us to be happy! We all love him so much!
Hope everyone is having a great week, and thanks again for all of the prayers and well wishes!


Even better

Elise is doing much, much better. It is looking like we will be heading home tomorrow!!!
She's had a fun day of coloring, watching The Sound of Music, and playing with all of the buttons on her bed. It is a good thing we are going home tomorrow, because I think she is getting a little too used to all of the service and attention around here. The nurses give her whatever she wants (I think she has had 4 popsicles today), whenever she wants it, and she has had my undivided attention for 3 full days now. She is also loving all of the visitors and the gifts they often bring. Aimee came by with this flower headband yesterday and she has yet to take it off. David's parents came by and brought lots of treats as well. The Barrois clan came this morning with a treat and she was thrilled to see Ella. My Mom and David came back with the two year old twosome and Elise wanted to know where her "treat" was!! Can you say spoiled???

We have had great care here and I am so thankful for all of the nurses. We have had a wonderful tech, Angela, that has patiently gotten Elise over a lot of her fears. When we first got here she screamed even getting her blood pressure taken. Now, she knows how to do it herself!!! So, I am very hopeful that the trauma and memories of her two ER visits are already fading away...

The pediatrician is confident that the IV antibiotics have done their job and she is now off of the IV meds and solely on oral meds. The plastic surgeon came by and looked at the wound and thinks that it is healing well. I was THRILLED to learn that the wound no longer has to be packed. This has been the worst part of each day for Elise and I am so thankful that the worst is over. We will follow up with him in 3 or so weeks so that he can see what her progress is.

Now, the tough part will be helping her adjust to life at home without Baxter. She suddenly started asking a lot of questions last night and it is just such a hard and complicated situation (I know you other dog lovers understand). She surprisingly seems to have no fear, no hard feelings, and no blame for Baxter for putting her through this. I don't know if that is too complex for an almost four year old, or if we just have a very forgiving daughter. Or maybe a little bit of both. I just pray that David and I will say the right things to ensure that she never feels that it is her fault in any way that he can no longer live with us...

Just feeling thankful tonight that my baby girl is doing so much better and gets to go home tomorrow on her Daddy's birthday!!


Love, Nicole


Terrific/terrible twos times two

David emailed me this pic of Lila and Bennett eating dinner at my Grandparents tonight. Made my day! They crack me up....He said that Bennett was especially entertaining tonight because he was looking for his fork and kept saying, "Fork, fork, fork, fork"..but apparently it sounded much more like something else- something that wouldn't have been cute AT ALL had he been saying it (if you know what I mean!)...I remember a similar situation a few Thanksgivings ago when Elise kept saying, "Pumpkin cookies", but it also sounded much more like she was cursing the cookies! I am sure that David and SuSu have many more stories to tell from the past few days as they have definitely hit both the terrible and terrific twos...Bennett is having full blown tantrums and the sibling rivalry is at an all time high..but, on the flip side, they are talking a ton and growing more and more into little individuals every day...
I miss David and my little monkeys and can't wait for us all to be together again. David has offered numerous times to trade off with me, but I just can't seem to tear myself away from the hospital...But, soon enough we'll be home!
Night, night!

Elise and her posse

We are settling in for another night here at the hospital....Things are going well. We are still waiting to get some test results back and for a consultation with the plastic surgeon...But, her wound is looking so much better. The doctors just want her to have another day of the iv antibiotics....As soon as I can get her to eat a little more they can start weaning the IV fluids, which would be great. She is ready for her "magic tubes" to go away.
Thought this picture was cute- she has this whole posse hanging out with her in the bed...I laid down with her and we both took about an hour and a half nap...then I got up and she went back to sleep and is still sleeping...Think she is just a little worn out.
I do think she is going to have quite the adjustment when we get home...She is getting a little used to being waited on hand and foot and have my undivided attention! But, we are both enjoying the time together, as well as the three of us together when David gets to come up here.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to check on our munchkin!


A better day and a birthday!

Elise and I are having another "slumber party" in the hospital, but I couldn't let today pass without wishing the dynamic duo a happy happy 2nd birthday! It is kind of ironic that Elise and I are celebrating their birthday in the very exact place that we met them for the first time two years ago today! Brings back lots and lots of memories.
David and my Mom actually brought them up here for a short visit as Elise has been asking for her brother and sister. I was also so thankful to give them birthday hugs and kisses! They drastically changed our lives two years ago and we can't imagine our world without them. Lila's compassion, spunkyness, temper, lovable nature, hilarious facial expressions, and superb kisses light up my life! Bennett's a Mommy's boy, and that, along with his strength, bravery, willingness to snuggle, and infectious la ugh light up my life! My family and friends are my world, and they have brought SO much to that world! Happy Birthday babies!!!

Elise is soo much better today. I am seeing little glimpses of "her", and that feels great. A purple popsicle goes a long way! She had lots of visitors today, and that seemed to really cheer her up! Thanks so much Steph and Aunt Debbie, Grandpa and Davis for coming and for your sweet gifts. Davis, your ability to turn a quarter into a dozen pink roses has already become legendary around the hospital, as Elise has been bragging to all of the nurses.
Now that the worst is over, (hopefully we will never have another experience like last night), Elise and I are settling in and actually enjoying our little stay. One of David's coworkers, James, brought her a beautiful fairy coloring book and some mess-free finger paints (there IS such a thing!) and we have been doing art "projex" as well as watching some Sesame Street. Although I hate being away from Lila and Bennett I know that David and SuSu are making sure they are well taken care of. They even got to spend the morning at Ducky Joe's with David and had a birthday dinner at a restaurant with Davis and David!

As for Elise, it looks like we will be here at least until tomorrow and then we'll see...unfortunately, due to the infection, the wound has to be left open to drain and be "packed" (too gross to explain), which means scarring will be an issue. At this point, we are just thankful that the infection did not spread into her bloodstream, and that she is looking more healthy...we'll deal with any superficial issues later. Our little girl is as beautiful as ever.

We are trying desperately to find a home for Baxter and we have a few leads. We truly want to find a home in which he can happily spend his "senior" years. Honestly, I don't think anything like this would happen again if we kept him, but David and I are still not willing to take that chance with our children, or anyone else's. He is a sweet, kind, lazy, old dog, and we just want him to have a safe, less stressful place to call home.

Thanks so much for all of your calls, texts, posts, and emails. It means so much and I tell Elise about each one.

Caught a few of the "better moments" of last night with my phone...

David made it back from Baton Rouge in time to take the wheel chair ride with her up to the room. She was SOO happy to see her Daddy. I don't even want to know how fast he was driving! Glad he made it here safe and sound.

Our brave girl cracked a smile! Gigi has been here keeping her company. She told the nurses that "Gigi is the best!"

Time to try to get the patient to go to sleep...

Elise Update

It felt surreal as I hurried back from Baton Rouge at 11 sunday night. I am supposed to be heading to Alexandria for court in a few hours, but instead God had other plans for us. Nicole noticed a bit more than normal swelling on Elise's wounds, and rightfully called the nurse on duty. They suggested she go back to the ER, and in a matter of an hour Elise had the horrible experience of last thursday done three times. They removed all the stiches, irrigated the wounds, then put a gause drain in. She is now in a room and will hopefully only be there a few days. The infection was pretty bad, and I hate that Nicole had to go through that alone.
Elise has seemed back to normal, and helped us sing for Lila and Bennett earlier tonight.
I left the hospital around three, and she had still not fallen asleep. She is on some pain medicines, and since around 12 has been a little loopy and funny.

Elise is very inquisitive about the process, asking what the medicines and machines do. She is also telling anyone who will listen about her recital. Too funny.

On another note, we celebrated Lila and Bennett's bday tonight with a very small "party" with nicole's grandparents. Elise had fun giving Lila and Bennett their presents she picked out. More on that in a happy, bday related post. I just wanted to mention before I forgot how funny it was that Elise blew out Lila's candles.

If you are wanting to stop by Elise's room, she is room 309 at Lakeview Regional please call nicoole first