Tag Archives: life

The Bread & Butter (Vol. 2017 | Issue 4)

11 May

Quick Hits:

  1. It would be pretty cool if we could stay healthy… but alas, we cannot seem to catch a break. This week is Nolan’s turn, and he’s caught the same bug that Tad had. Great.
  2. Did you know knives are dangerous? Apparently our middle child does not. Add crawling onto the counter, grabbing a knife, and cutting open a box of ibuprofen to the growing list of “things Trevor does that drive his parents insane”. He wasn’t hurt, at least not by the knife.
  3. I really hate to even say this but Elise is back to sleeping through the night. If I had an answer as to how we did that, I would be a millionaire and you would never hear from me again.

What We’re Grateful For:

This week I set up my old keyboard piano that I got when I was about 12. In the past two months Nolan has been mesmerized by the movie Sing which is an amazing movie full of great songs. His favorite part is when Johnny sings I’m Still Standing and Nolan really gets to jammin’ on whatever is close by that vaguely pass as a piano, so I hauled the piano upstairs and gave him an actual set of keys to pound on. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly suggest it. And we are grateful every time we hear that little voice belting out old Elton John.

What We’re Working On:

Sharing. One day as I got home from work this week I saw a large trash bag stuffed full of unidentified objects, with a light saber sticking out the top. Nolan filled me in.
“Mommy is being naughty. Dad, mama packed up our toys and threw them out! But you’re gonna give them back, right Dada? That’s a good idea huh?”
The boys inability to get along finally pushed their mom over the edge and she packed up as many toys as she could grab and threw them into the garage. Her story is that she told them they “could sit on the couch, hug each other, and read a book”. I gave her a high-five – that’s a good woman.

I’m a Good Space Ship Driver (continued):

Score a point for dad. This past weekend after hearing all about the prospect of building a space ship, I purchased a model rocket kit from Amazon. Admittedly the kids are a little young for blasting off rockets into the sky, but I was dead set in getting Nolan to stop asking to build a space ship. So with fingers crossed we drove to an open field nearby and set everything up. After carefully going over several key safety factors with both boys, all of which were promptly neglected, we walked over to the controller. True to Nolan’s specs it had a red button. 3…2…1… – actually the countdown was to 4 and went more like this “19, 15, 9, 3, 5, 14…..4!” – he pressed as hard as he could with his little finger and WHOOSH! It was as awesome as I remember it being as a kid and the boys loved it too. They ran after it as it touched down; ok, maybe I ran after it too. What a blast. And it definitely made me feel good when Nolan’s first request was to send it to the sky again. We shot it off three times and exhausted our supply of engines but satisfied our desire to launch something off to Jurassic World. This week Noles asked if we could blast off the space ship, and I reminded him we didn’t have any engines. “Ok Dad, we need to go to the store, and we need more engines, huh Dad? Is that a good idea?”
Buddy… that sounds like a great idea.


The Bread & Butter (Vol. 2017 | Issue 3)

5 May

Quick Hits:

  1. Over the past weekend Miss Elise did a few rolls from back to front to back. As the Donald would say, “That’s huuuuuuuuge!”
  2. Last week we mentioned teething and E – Same applies this week. Poor girl has the front seat on the struggle bus.
  3. Sickness has hit again. It has been a brutal cold season for our house, literally having 1 kid sick any given day between January and now. Yesterday we found out Tad has bronchiolitis… again. We’re looking forward to summer.

What We’re Grateful For:

I am struggling with this one this week which likely underscores how important it is to keep remembering what we are grateful for.
Today we are visiting the Discover the Dinosaurs UNLEASHED attraction that is full of encounters with dinosaurs. I cannot wait to see the look on the boys’ faces as they see some of these dinosaurs in “life-like” form… The ability to do these things with my family makes me grateful at this moment.

What We’re Working On:

Diaper rash sucks. However we recently figured out another new thing about having a baby girl – yeast infections. We’ve been racking our brains for over a week trying all different concoctions of pastes, powders, and wipes to clear up Miss E’s rash but nothing was working. Finally we sought counsel from one of the Mrs’ friends and BAM the issue was clear as day. A quick trip to the doc confirmed it was indeed a yeast infection, and we’re now armed with the proper tools to hopefully put this one in the past. That poor girl thrives in spite of us.

I’m a Good Space Ship Driver:

Nolan has recently, suddenly become obsessed with the concept of driving a space ship. I am not sure where he picked this up, but he talks about it every single day. And to be clear, this is not a concept of wanting to be an astronaut. It is simply wanting to drive a space ship. I am telling you – his imagination is wild.
“Dad, we’re gonna build a space ship, just you and me. Mom can stay home. And it will have a red button, and you push it, and you BLAST OFF to the sky!”. Or he also came at me with this dialogue one afternoon this week, “Dad, dad. Dad, I’m a good space ship driver, huh dad? I am the best space ship driver there ever was! We can build a space ship Dad. That’s a good idea, right?!” Yes buddy, that is a fantastic idea. As I thought about ways to try and satisfy his appetite to experience a space ship, I remembered back to my childhood and one of our favorite hobbies: model rockets. $25 later, I had found a perfect rocket “space ship” on Amazon and it was en route to the house. The launch kit even comes with a red button to launch the rocket. I am hoping he will get as much joy out of it as I am going to. I still geek out on watching SpaceX launch real rockets, and tried to pass that on to Nolan this week with video of the most recent expedition. He was interested for about 10 seconds and then was off talking to someone about his dinosaurs….so this is going to be an interesting experiment.

The Bread & Butter (Vol. 2017 | Issue 2)

27 Apr

Quick Hits:

  1. This week we celebrated Tad’s 2nd birthday. What a wild two years this has been!! He had no idea what all the fuss was about.
  2. Teething has hit Elise head-on. That poor girl is a slobbery, irritable, finicky mess.
  3. Over the weekend we get to visit Mimi & Papa’s house in Wyoming! The kids are excited to the point that while running errands today they were both asking if we were could just head straight there.

What We’re Grateful For:

With a fresh 2-year old in the house I have to brag on him a little bit. He has really grown over the past couple of months especially in the vernacular. Over the last weekend he actually strung together 3 words, properly, unprompted! Big stuff. While we continue to wonder what he is screaming at us 75% of the time, it has been fun to catch some civil “conversation” every once in a while. “Juuuuuus peeeeeees!”

What We’re Working On:

Sleeping in our own rooms. Well mostly this just applies to Nolan sleeping in his own bed. Over the past couple of weeks we have had a consistent visitor enter our domain each night right around midnight. For whatever reason he has decided that his bed just feels more comfy. Actually he used that exact excuse recently on the Mrs – “mama, my bed hurts! It’s just not comfortable like mom and dad’s bed”. Oh brother. If you have any suggestions on how to keep a kid in his own bed, aside from tow straps, I’m all ears.

The Best Party Ever:

For Trevor’s birthday party we took the kids and 8 of their friends to our local gymnastics center. The place is set up full of springboards, bars, beams, and  most importantly: a foam pit. All of the kids had a great time running all around the gym – in fact I don’t think I ever saw Trevor stop running – but most of all they enjoyed the trampoline run into the foam pit. We had plenty of head bonks, collisions, and squeals. Even the adults got in on the fun. Cousin Jax beat me climbing a peg board on the wall and Uncle Caleb dove to the bottom of the foam pit where he lost his socks, WWJD bracelet, and dignity. Actually we almost couldn’t get him out at all. No lie.

At one point Nolan came running past me stopping only long enough to say, “Dad! THIS IS THE BEST PARTY EVER!” So if you are ever wondering if a gymnastics party is a good fit for 2 – 5 year old kids (with a couple of outlier older ones), the answer is a resounding “yes”.


Noles gets tossed into the foam pit!


Birthday Boy!


The Bread & Butter (Vol. 2017 | Issue 1)

20 Apr

This is the start of a new format here on House of Pickles, a weekly update in short form that will be more rapid fire to cover what we are doing at that moment. Hope you enjoy!

Quick Hits:

  1. This week is The Mrs’ birthday – none of us are prepared. I blame Elise, she really should’ve been more on top of this.
  2. Colorado Sprummer is in full effect. This is the time of year when it should be spring but it feels more like summer. Is April too early to let your kids run through sprinklers?
  3. On Saturday we’ll be celebrating Tad’s 2nd birthday with a party at a gymnastics gym. On one hand I can’t believe he is almost 2; on the other hand pray that we are able to keep him alive in a gymnastics course.

What We’re Grateful For:

This year we decided to do something different and pick out a word for our family. In 2017 that word is grateful.
Currently I am mostly grateful for Miss E’s giggles. She has developed quite the little personality and likes to scream at us a lot – most times failing to harmonize with her brother – so anytime we get to hear those giggles it is literally music to our ears!

What We’re Working On:

These two words are the scariest words a parent can type: potty training. We are working on this with Trevor, not even officially 2 years old, and success has a very fluid meaning right now. If we keep a diaper on him for more than 2 hours… success.

The Cow Must Be Napping:

This week Nolan got to get away from the house for a few hours and enjoy some 1-on-1 time with his mama. While they were out and about they decided to get lunch together at Chic-Fil-A. I love that place, and Nolan has become a big fan himself. In honesty he is a big fan of any place that serves “chicken and fries”, so it’s no surprise that Chic-Fil-A makes the cut. Last week he kept asking his mom if they could go “high five the cow”; “Mama, can we go to the place where we high five the cow? I wanna high five the cow!”. Josie had no clue what he was talking about for quite a while until Nolan clarified, “you know, where they serve the chickens and fries!”.
Today as they were eating lunch the cow was no where to be seen. Bummer dude. But Nolan was anything but dismayed… “Huh, the cow must be napping mama. But the sun is up, sooooo… but the cow must be napping huh mama?”. Yes son, the cow must be napping. The imagination on that kid is endless!


Three’s a Crowd (Part 2)

9 Apr

Author’s Note: It has taken me a lot, and I mean a lot, to write this post. It literally has been the bottleneck for all posts to the blog; knowing that I have to finish this story has backlogged all future stories. I hope it is worth the wait. If you would like to read Part One, click here

Monday October 3, 2016 started out quite normal. We had a long awaited meeting scheduled with our newest little addition to the family – Elise Ann Dill. Had we relied on past history, she shouldn’t have made it to be an October baby. She was expected to make her appearance near the same time as her brothers did, 8 weeks early by gestation and 4 weeks prior to this day. Yet there we were, up at 5:00 AM and ready to head over to the hospital and begin the scheduled C-Section process. We were nervous, excited, and – if I am honest – ready for this to be over.

As I detailed before in the first installment, Ms Elise should never have had a scheduled C-Section appointment to be born. She truthfully shouldn’t even have been created. And while the first part of this story detailed the emotions we felt after finding out we indeed were starting a little family circus, let me take a moment to explain how our attitude had shifted over 7 months. What started as fear and (truthfully) anger had melted into hope and excitement. A girl! First of all, how neat is that? After experiencing two rambunctious boys we would now get to know the joys of having a little girl in the house. But beyond that the fear had morphed to acknowledgement. As we journeyed through a third uncomfortable and challenging pregnancy both Jos and I couldn’t help but sit back and acknowledge how incredible this story is. Just when you think that you have your life planned out, God gently chimes in, “Not quite yet…”. Sure, kids are created every day against all odds, but this just went deeper. God knew how difficult our pregnancies had been, he KNEW how much frustration, worry, and angst the deliveries had caused so why would he put us through this again? We had to admit that God’s plan is always better than our own. And while we were no where near ready to tackle the responsibilities of a third kid, we slowly began to enjoy and anticipate what this little girl was destine to do with her life. The fact that we were selected literally against the odds to grow and support her through her journey was incredibly heavy and undeniably exciting.

So we sat in the car on the 20-minute drive and talked about how the day might go. E had made it to a critical 36-week mark which allowed us the ability to deliver at our “home” hospital, and also introduced possibilities we hadn’t experienced before. We had a great chance of holding this baby in the operating room – alright! We might even get to spend the first night together, the 3 of us, in a regular hospital room instead of apart in different hospitals area codes apart. What was that even like?? She shouldn’t even require a NICU stay which would be ground breaking for us. We had tossed scenarios around in our minds and settled on worst case: They might have to take Elise into the NICU just to check and make sure she is ok, but we would get to see her back with Josie as soon as that evening, potentially even while the Mrs was still in recovery. This was going to be a cake walk.

The first few hours of the morning went great, and aside from the slight contractions that she had been experiencing for a full month there was no signs of actual labor. Everything was setting up just as the doctor had designed. Vital signs were stable, both for mom and baby. Even anesthesiology was in the room early! That literally never happens we were told. (Turns out, that guy might have been an angel.) We were ready for our 9:15 AM delivery. And then things suddenly changed.

“OOOHhhhfff”, Josie grunted. “What was that!?“, she asked. I immediately assumed a contraction had picked up so I walked over to the monitor. Nothing. I looked back at my wife and the look of pain in her eyes was severe. Any husband knows the different levels of pain their wife can endure, especially after child birth, and I knew that whatever she was experiencing was a pretty intense pain. I asked her to describe it, she said “IT HURTS”. I decided to not ask anymore questions. I looked back at the machine monitoring muscle contractions… still nothing. Well this is all helpful I thought to myself. After just a simple minute that felt like an eon Jos decided to call the nurse. It was 9:04 AM, just 11 minutes pre-operation. The nurse came in and she literally started wheeling Josie out of the room immediately while saying, “Well, they’re either ready for you in OR or they’re going to be ready for you”. Josie’s doctor came in at that same moment as well and asked a couple benign questions before saying. “Well – I will scrub in and see you in OR!”. It got a lot intense in a little amount of time.

Let me side-step briefly. The most frightening ~7 minutes of my life have been spent in a white hallway at our local hospital, 15 ft away from an automatic door controlling entry to the operating room. Twice I have sat in a blue chair as doctors and nurses rush past me into a room that I know holds my wife and baby and I have had nothing to do except plead and pray to God. And wait. I have buckets of empathy toward every dad who has had to do that same routine. It causes visions of the worst possible outcomes a man can imagine to flash behind his eyes. I cried each time, once with Trevor and then again that day with Elise. And then the nurse came out: “Joel? Come on, Josie wants you”.

“I’ve got blood in the belly!”, I hear the doctor say just moments after I sit down on a stool near my wife. My heart hit my gut.

Here’s what happened. That intense pain that she felt just 15 excruciating long minutes ago? That was an organ inside of her body breaking. More specifically, do you remember the T-cut incision I mentioned in Part One? Elise had busted through that delicate scar and was causing a world of commotion. First, Josie was now internally bleeding. Second, Elise was having sensations of birth…except that she was still very much stuck inside her mother. She took her first breath – a lungful of her mother’s blood instead of beautiful oxygen as her instincts would’ve liked. Not a great start to life in the real world. It was approximately 9:21 AM.

Elise Ann Dill was officially born on October 3, 2016 @ 9:29 AM. Well, more accurately that is the time we all decided it was after the medical team and myself had gotten back to the NICU and one of the nurses noticed an official time hadn’t been called. You better believe that OR was hectic from 9:21 AM on. See, Elise wasn’t exactly “alive” when they


Elise, meeting Mom and ready for transport. How can you not believe in love at first sight?!

pulled her from her mother’s abdomen so it’s hard to argue an exact time of birth. Her 1-minute APGAR was a 1, which is borderline dead. Her 10-minute APGAR was still just a 5, which leans toward or can indicate brain damage. Normally babies rebound more quickly from a low initial APGAR score, up to a full 10 by the 10-minute mark. Not Elise. The blood in her umbilical cord at birth was so acidic they feared she had been without sweet oxygen for too long. Josie had some internal bleeding but thankfully they were able to suck it all out within minutes and control the bleeding. The doctor said at the end of the day she bled about the same amount she would’ve in a normal C-Section delivery. The cold truth is that had we not already been at a hospital, mere minutes away from a scheduled operation, with anesthesiology already in the OR prepping for Josie (remember I said the guy must’ve been an angel!)… neither my wife nor our baby girl would be here today. If Josie would’ve been at home with the boys on a normal day there is almost no way she could’ve rounded up someone to watch them, gotten to the hospital, and still survived. Elise for sure wouldn’t have survived.


God had a plan. We learned that over 7 long months of working through a pregnancy we had done everything to prevent from happening. And then we learned it again in 25 minutes at a hospital where everything worked out so perfectly that not only did our new baby girl survive near death – but she was set up to thrive. The quick action taken by our doctor to deliver Elise and then again by the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner to send E down to Denver and to Children’s Hospital for further screening was crucial. I have played out nightmares in my mind where the doctor disregards Josie’s pain and says, “Ah you can wait until the 9:15 scheduled operation, can’t you?”. I’ve wondered what might have happened had the NICU team not gotten Elise stabilized, prepped, and transferred into a world class facility within 6 hours of being born. But thank God I don’t have to actually live those scenarios out. Because tonight I have a beautiful wife, fully recovered, (she was released from the hospital the next day at noon – 27 hours post-operation!) and a beautiful 6-month old baby girl who has stolen all of our hearts.

Thank God for his plan.


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