Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Does this look familiar?

All three taken around roughly 8 - 9 weeks and not a single one posed. We still have the couch that Reid and Ryan were laying on but Ross was in the other living room when I noticed him sleeping like this tonight.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Two months already

On Christmas Eve Ross turned two months old. I waited to post as he had his two month check up today. He weighed in at 12 lbs, 9.6 oz and is 23 inches long (tall). He's completely mastered smiling and cooing now. We're working on getting into more of a schedule and trying to inch up his bedtime each night. He likes to wait until 10:00 - 11:00 to go to sleep for the night but tonight he was actually in bed at 9:00. We may have had some help with that since he got FOUR shots this morning and has been pretty sleepy all day. He was in a great mood at his dr appt. He "talked" to the nurse and the doctor the whole appt. When we laid him down for his shots he was just smiling like crazy. When they stuck him the first time he got this look of "what the heck did they just do" and then the second time he held his breath and then screamed. I picked him up quickly (each poke was two shots as two nurses each did a leg). As soon as I picked him up he stopped screaming and cuddled up to me. He screamed for maybe two seconds and was done, never whimpered again.

I think his legs were a bit sore today but we've stayed on top of the Tylenol all day long and he has slept quite a bit. Actually, I was upstairs doing laundry and he was a bit gassy so I laid him down on his tummy for some tummy time and he fell asleep right on the floor as I was separating the laundry.

Here are a couple of pictures that I snapped on his actually two month birthday - Christmas Eve. It was difficult getting a picture that didn't make him look like a big chubby since he can't sit up straight.

Here is a great picture that Russ snapped yesterday at the Missouri basketball game when Ross was talking and smiling with me.

Here is the picture of Ross passed out in the hallway while I was sorting laundry.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Letter

We sent out only a few Christmas cards this year (and late at that). I attempted my first ever family letter so I thought I would post it and share it here for all our extended friends and family as well.

I’m attempting our first ever “family letter” for Christmas this year. It just seems so difficult to keep in touch with all of our friends as we all get busier and busier with school, activities, etc.

The biggest news of 2009 for the McDowell’s was that we welcomed our third little boy, Ross Jacob McDowell, on October 24th. He was 8 lbs, 2.3 oz and had a full head of dark hair. We’ve got two Ross’ in our house so he has become known as “Baby Ross Jacob.” We’ll see how long it takes him to grow out of that name.

Our second Ross is another hockey player staying in town to play for the Russell Stover’s team. Ross Kovacs came to live with us in August shortly after our last hockey boy, Mike, left. We had debated rather to house again with a newborn in the house but we’re very satisfied that we did. “Hockey Ross” not only helped us come up with a name for our new little guy but he has just fit right into our family. The boys love having him here and Russ loves having someone to talk hockey with.

Reid started all day kindergarten in August and is doing really well. He played baseball and soccer earlier in the year and is now participating on his first hockey team. His skating has really improved over the last couple of weeks and he’s getting more and more into it. He’s really buddied up with the best kid on the team and I think it’s helped fuel his desire to play harder.

Ryan… ah, Ryan. Ryan has truly begun to improve in the behavior department over the last couple of months but there are still plenty of days in the week where we just shake our heads. Ryan does what Ryan wants to do when Ryan wants to do it. He can be such a joy much of the time but can also be the most stubborn person ever. He is a very smart little boy too. He’s starting to recognize letters, loves reading books, and is a whiz at puzzles. Ryan does best when he gets to spend one on one time with Russ or I.

Ross is turning two months old on Christmas Eve. He’s probably close to 13 pounds now. His hair has really started to lighten and thin out. He has learned how to smile and is getting a lot stronger at holding his head up. He’s usually pretty easy going and is starting to get in more of a natural schedule which unfortunately is a 10 pm bedtime. Regardless of what we try he always passes out at 10:00. He usually gets up every three hours at night. Ross starts daycare on 1/4 when I return to work. He will be going to Beth’s house as each of our boys has. Beth has watched all of our boys since Reid was 10 weeks old and we didn’t even consider taking Ross anywhere else.

Russ has re-entered the world of playing hockey although maybe more for entertainment than competition this time. He’s still going to school, working, helping with the Stovers’ website, and competing in orienteering events. Russ did a 12 hour adventure race this summer and has been one of the top placers in several orienteering events.

I had a great year as well. I was able to run while being pregnant up until July so Ross Jacob got to compete in a half marathon and four 5Ks with me. I didn’t do much after July and I’m very excited to get back to working out and competing. I’m excited to partner up with Russ in several orienteering events as well.

What’s up for 2010? Russ and I are both planning on many events – adventure races, 5Ks, half marathons, orienteering. Our biggest adventure will be a trip to San Diego, CA in September where Russ will participate in a boot camp challenge. I haven’t quite decided my biggest event yet. I’ve toyed with the idea of a full marathon in the fall but I’m not sure that I can dedicate myself to training that hard this year with the three boys. I will certainly complete a couple of half marathons – that training schedule seems more feasible at this time in our lives. Reid will continue with hockey and Ryan is going to begin a parent/tot soccer class. He doesn’t separate as well as Reid did so we’re hoping this will get him excited to start participating in activities as well.

I try to keep our family blog updated as often as I can. You can stay up to date with us at

We’re hoping this letter finds you all well and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a great 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where did December go?

Ok, so we have continued with our advent calendar but the blogging of our activities has just been too much to keep up with. Actually taking pictures of our activities has gone away for the most part as well. I'm documenting what we did for the most part so I can remember next year and to have a record of it as well. I'll give short summaries and try to includea few pictures as well. (I've only downloaded pics through 12/15 so I'll download the rest tomorrow and add a few more pictures).

Day 8 - Projects from Grandma Cella
Grandma Cella had sent us many different "craft" projects to do and dad had class so we sat and enjoyed them for over an hour. It was a lot of fun.

Day 9 - Amazing Race game
We're big fans of Amazing Race at our house, although this was closer to just a scavenger hunt. We gave clues of where the next clue would be and then at the end the boys got a special surprise. Reid got a package of Star Wars cards and Ryan got a Transformers dog tag. I thought it was a package of cards too but it wasn't. Reid was very jealous of Ryan's dog tag.

Day 10 - Hmmm????

Day 11 - Make Rice Krispy Treats
The boys did a really good job listening and helping make the treats. I let them both stand at the oven and stir the marshmallows and they did a good job listening so they didn't touch the pan. And the rice krispy treats were very good!

Day 12 - Dinner, Movie, Play Toys, Watch a Movie and Stay up Late
Ross, Ryan and I went up to Holton for the day for a wedding shower and spent the night so Reid and dad did the advent calendar together. They ate dinner at Red Robin, got a movie and had a good guys night together.

Day 13 - Christmas Lights with special surprise at the end
We drove around and looked at lights and then went to Dairy Queen and got ice cream... MMMmmm!

Day 14 - Eli's Birthday Party
I had originally told the boys that Eli's birthday party was not the advent calendar but we were there for over two hours and the boys had a fabulous time. It was nonstop playing games and tokens being handed out to them... insane! So, on the way home I told them that we weren't going to do anything additional for the advent calendar and neither one of them complained at all - they were worn out!

Day 15 - Toys for Tots
One of our favorite programs, we went to Wal-Mart and shopped for other children. We told the boys about Toys for Tots several times and how the Marines run the program. While at Wal-Mart Ryan said "we know two Todd's - Beth's husband and the Todd we are shopping for"... It was a good laugh. We had to start calling it Toys for Other Kids :)

Day 16 - Make a Snowman... out of marshmallows
We used mini marshmallows and regular ones with white frosting and toothpicks and got creative making snowmen. Reid did make one, Ryan never got anything put together. He ate his whole scoop of frosting and then all of the marshmallows.

Day 17 - Color pictures for Grandma Linda & Grandpa Steve
Knowing that we were heading to our McDowell grandparents on Saturday we decided to do some coloring and make some pictures for grandpa and grandma. The boys really enjoy coloring more when they know their picture is going to have a recipient.

Day 18 - Make Cookies with special drinks
We made chocolate chip cookies (from premade dough of course) and drank it with Ginger Ale.

Day 19 - Christmas at Grandpa Steve & Grandma Linda's
We had a great day in Hannibal. The boys got some great toys and had played really well with them most of the day. They even got to bundle up and go out and play in the snow which Reid has really been wanting to do this year.

Day 20 - (will have to add later, can't remember what we did - need to look at camera)

Day 21 - Family Lego Night
We brought the boys legos to the living room and helped them build things and they just played legos for most of the night.

Day 22 - Out to eat at Fritz' with McConnell's
We met our friends at the new Fritz' train restaurant to eat dinner. It was nice to see some friends that we hadn't seen for a while but probably not the best idea for a weeknight. We felt rushed, the boys didn't get to "enjoy" the visit as much as we usually would. Overall, I think the Crown Center Fritz' has more appeal to it. Maybe it was just a bad night, we'll give it another chance sometime.

Day 23 - Kid's Choice
We did this last year and the boys never really "decided" on anything. This year they said that they wanted to stay up as late as they wanted and they got to be the bosses. Reid spent some time playing on the computer and Ryan just hung out. He's had a fever today and I don't think feeling his best. It was 9:30 when I finally told them we needed to go to bed and they didn't argue at all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Calendar updates

Ok, so we HAVE been doing our advent calendar - I just haven't been very good at updates. First update - the boys LOVE looking for Charlie each day. Although they weren't real thrilled on the night we introduced Charlie - the fun of looking for him each morning has really escalated. Ryan actually remembers a lot more than Reid does now. He even found him first this morning.

Day 3 - Breakfast for dinner and eat in our jammies -

This is a family favorite! First of all we all love to have breakfast for dinner - we make quite a mess but it is sooo YUMMY! We topped this one off by giving the boys "new" jammies to wear. Reid has a PJ day at school this Friday so I had bought him new GI Joe jammies for that and gave them to him tonight. Ryan got "new" camo jammies that I had put away with the 4Ts and brought upstairs for him. He didn't know and he LOVED them. And shockingly - the 4Ts were none too big. I might be pulling out the rest of the 4T jammies for him before he outgrows all of them too! Anyway, we had pancakes, eggs, bacon, milk and OJ. Yum, yum. Mom started the cooking and then Ross got pretty "needy" so dad finished it up and served us all up. The boys ate so much that mom and dad got to exercise some portion control :)

Here's a picture of the boys reading the surprise for day 3 (Ryan opens on odd days, Reid does even days):

Day 4 - Read books by the fireplace

Another that we had done last year that is easy and fun. We turned on the fireplace, piled up some pillows and read Christmas books by the fireplace. I think we read five or six. It was a cozy time and got us wound down for bed.

Ross even laid with us and "listened"

Day 5 - Ice cream for "Bednight" snack

Late Saturday night... almost bedtime... oops - mom and dad forgot about the advent calendar. Hmm... what to do that is quick. ICE CREAM! Reid chose a sundae cone like Grandpa Steve eats and Ryan had a scoop of vanilla with crushed up M&Ms with chocolate syrup on it. Daddy made it and it looked so yummy that mom opted for some too :) We didn't take any pictures but we sure had a good time!

** I said "bednight" because that is what Ryan has called it for a long time... and what Russ and I end up calling it most of the time now. I hope someday I remember all the cute ways my kids used to say things - I've tried to document some of them.

Day 6 - Shopping for Family

On Sunday our advent calendar was to go shopping for our family members. This year each boy had four presents to pick out - mom and dad and both of their brothers. It went painlessly smooth actually. The boys were proud of what they picked out and so far have kept it a secret - although we know Reid peaked in the cart and saw what Ryan got him but we just ignored him when he was talking about it.

Oops - just looking for a good picture (dad is our family photographer) and I think I spotted what Reid got me (I promise I won't tell - but it was definitely on my list!)

*** Later that day I was doing my Wii workout and Russ was upstairs doing something. The boys were playing really well and I told them they could put ornaments on the tree downstairs ALL by themselves. I had put that treee up a few days earlier but hadn't "trimmed" it yet. I had to take a picture because they got along SO well doing it and they spaced the ornaments out really well. Of course they couldn't reach the top of the tree but I actually think I'm going to leave it as they did it - I think it's adorable!! Besides, I'm finally learning the lesson Russ has been trying to teach me for years - "if you complain about how someone does something when they are trying to help you, they are just going to stop trying to help you." Took me several years - but I'm learning! I can "ALMOST" stand his side of the closet when his shirts aren't facing the right way :) baby steps, baby steps...

Day 7 - Decorate a Gingerbread House

18 days until Christmas - wow, December is flying by! Tonight we decorated a gingerbread house. I'm sure you know I didn't make the house... we bought a kit from Wal-Mart. We thought the kit might be "chincy" on the candy since it was so cheap so Russ even went out and bought extra candy to decorate with. For the most part we let the boys do whatever they wanted... which for Ryan was one piece on the house, one piece in his mouth :) When we finished our house we decorated a few graham crackers so we had something to eat as well! Here are some pictures from their masterpiece:

So... we've almost filled up our advent calendar with ideas but we need about three more. Do you have something fun you do around the holidays? Leave me a comment if you've got a good suggestion for us!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's the Holiday Season...

Well, it's that time of the year - we've got the advent calendar out and Tuesday night we opened our first door. I could be happy and cheery and say it was really cool... BUT... it was a rough day at the McDowell household. That's how it goes sometimes, so we just deal with it :) Reid remembered the calendar from last year but Ryan did not.

We pulled out the sheet and it said "24 days until Christmas, Elf on the Shelf." We introduced a NEW tradition on top of our advent calendar - "what was I thinking?" LOL. We read the book Elf on the Shelf and then named our elf. After much debate we settled on Charlie which didn't make Ryan too happy as he wanted to name him Hydra. The story goes that the elf has been sent to our house to report back to Santa each night on who is good and who is bad. He can't talk to us but we can talk to him. And you can never touch him or he might lose his magic. Each night he flies back to the North Pole to visit Santa and in the morning he is somewhere else in our house. Wednesday morning the boys had forgotten all about the elf and it took them quite a while to find him Wednesday night - we ended up playing hot and cold and they spotted him. Thursday morning both boys spotted him at different times in his new spot. Reid realized that the elf HAS to be real because today he's posed differently. Needless to say, now they are really into our elf, Charlie.

Wednesday night Reid got to open the door. "23 days until Christmas. Go shopping for new Stockings." We loaded up and went to Target and the boys did actually enjoy picking out new stockings (although the store was VERY picked over - if you don't have your stockings yet - go SOON). After the boys had settled on their stockings (Reid with Star Wars, Ryan's has a dog on it) we let them look through the toy aisles and then went home. A pretty successful night. Oh - and check out our MUCH needed hair cuts!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy one month Ross!

Yep, already, our baby boy is one month old t0day.
After we did school and daycare drop-off we ran by the dr's office to get a current weight (below). When we got home I decided to take a picture but it was obvious that he was hungry and tired because he did not want to be put down and this was all I was getting:
So... I fed him and laid him in his big boy crib for a nap - he slept for two and a half hours!!! I got SOOO much done around the house. Ross is really starting to do well in his crib.
When he woke up from his nap, he was much more cooperative. Here are two shots that I got of him right after he woke up. We might try to take pics in this same spot each month but no promises there - we might be lucky to remember to get a picture as it is.

Some information about Ross at one month:
weight - 9 lbs, 12.5 oz
height - 20.5 inches

Ross is one noisy baby! He grunts and makes noises more than any baby ever! He also "toots" A LOT. Some of them are like a man!
He still likes his pacifier. He doesn't have it all day long but definitely has a need to suck on it at times and it seems to work often. Both Reid and Ryan have learned how to give it to him and hold it in for a second until he gets going on it good as his first instinct is to spit it out. Ross has definitely started to put his fist in his mouth and trending more towards his thumb as well. I am betting that he is going to be our third thumb-sucker in a month's time.

Ross is also the most difficult baby to burp that I have ever met. We're lucky if we get one or two burps a feeding and then he still ends up spitting up quite a bit. We told Reid about the acid reflux problems that he had until 22 months old so he loves to ask us who holds the record for spitting up the most... It's obviously still Reid and we're hoping he holds that title. Hopefully we'll find the key to getting Ross to burp a bit better.
Ross is typically not a car seat fan but once we've driven a while he will usually fall asleep unless he is hungry. And if he has eaten his car seat almost always puts so much pressure on his tummy that he spits up... so it's quite the dilemna sometimes as to when to head out.
On weekdays we drop Reid off at 8:00, Ryan after that and then get back home at 9:00. We leave around 3:00/3:15 to pick Reid up, followed by Ryan. In the six hours that we have at home we have yet to establish much of a schedule as our days are always different... and they fly by VERY fast. We do errands, laundry, dishes, workouts, feedings, walks (and even did our first two mile run this week), and lunch dates with dad sometimes. I can assure you that a day at work never goes as fast as Ross and I's days at home. We're loving our time together and very sad that a month has flown by already. My work calls this "baby bonding" time... and I can tell you it has worked. Ross is quite a fan of mommy... and I'm pretty sure he's a keeper too :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas list time...

We've tried to get a good picture of the three boys a couple of times but just haven't come up with a great one. We tried again last night and got this one (and tater tot even decided to join in the fun). This is about as good as it gets for now...

The boys were bouncing off the walls tonight and LOUD so we decided to slow things down a little. We tried talking Reid into writing his list out for Santa but he didn't really want to do that so we got out the toy catalogs and both boys cut out what they wanted and glued them on a piece of paper.

Ryan's... he's tough this year - has basically everything and really isn't into anything special.

Reid's. Reid wants EVERYTHING and he'll be very easy to buy for. Notice that he wrote his name AND address on the top of his paper... wouldn't want Santa to get the wrong house :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

3 week checkup

Ross had his three week checkup today. He is now 9 lbs, 3.2 oz and just over 20 inches long. He looks so big in all the pictures we take, but he's really our little guy. He has skinny legs and a little head. The pictures above were taken this morning on our way out the door for the dr appt. Grandpa and Grandma Sharp had sent Ross this cute little hat in the mail this week and given that it was rainy/snowy and COLD we thought we'd wear it. The size says for 0 - 6 months and it looks little... but it was a wee bit big :) His head is currently 14.75 inches. He looks like one of those Russian guards or whomever it is that wear those big poofy hats. (I need to ask Russ - he'll know). Needless to say we didn't quite get to wear it today... but Ross promises he'll grow into it grandpa and grandma. Thanks again!
An update on his kidneys... Ross' ultrasound after birth showed a bit of fluid on his left kidney (hydronephrosis). We did a follow up ultrasound on Friday morning and the results still show the hydronephrosis. Our pediatrician is sending us on to a specialist at Children's Mercy. We are still waiting for their call to schedule our appointment. I asked our pediatrician a few more questions today. It sounds like there is a valve that could be allowing the fluid back into the kidneys. This could lead to increased infections or even kidney damage if not repaired. He said that a surgery may need to be done to fix it but Ross would have to be under anesthesia so they would probably wait until he was a year old. They may also decide just to monitor it with ultrasounds every 3 to 6 months. That's about all we know for now. Nothing "major" or urgent but we're anxious to at least figure out what it is that we're dealing with. We'll keep you all updated and appreciate all the concern and prayers that we have received. We know that we're blessed that this is the worst that we have to deal with.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A surprise visit and a great weekend!

Last weekend was Russ' annual trip to Columbia, MO with his marine friends so Grandma Cella was coming up to stay with us and lend me some extra hands. On Friday night Courtney showed up from Chicago. She had driven in for the weekend to surprise us. We had a great weekend! Attached are some pictures from a trip to Fritz's Railroad restaurant - a local restaurant where you order your food by telephone and the food comes to your table by train. Both of the boys had a really good time - we even ended the meal with sundaes for Courtney's upcoming birthday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's in a Name?

A lot of people ask us how we came up with the name Ross so I thought I'd share the story behind it. We agreed from early on in our pregnancy that we'd do another "R" name for a boy. Russ and I had pretty different lists of names that we liked. I had originally ruled out 'Ross' as it was so close sounding to Russ.
Our family is housing for the local hockey team again this year and our player's name is Ross Kovacs. One night Reid and Ryan were downstairs playing with Ross while I was fixing dinner. When it was ready I hollered down the stairs, "Reid, Ryan, Ross... dinner's ready." It immediately clicked for me and I went to the office and asked Russ what he thought. He said he liked it! We knew from that day on that we were going to have a little Ross. The nicknames "Hockey Ross" and "Baby Ross" have stuck for now and seem to be working.
Above is a picture of our "Hockey Ross" holding "Baby Ross." I'm not sure how comfortable he was/is with babies but I didn't really give him a choice :) because I wanted a picture of them together.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We had a long night last night, something had Ross' tummy upset so we were up for most of the night. I'm up this morning getting Reid fed and off to school... thankfully Russ took Ryan off to daycare at 7 for breakfast as he's usually full of energy (and sometimes piss and vinegar) in the a.m. I'm not sure I had it in me to deal with that this am.

So anyway, checking facebook and e-mail while Reid ate his breakfast and was delighted to see a preview of some of the newborn shots that my friend, Suzanne, took on Sunday of Ross. The shoot was pretty comical in the sense that our baby that ALWAYS sleeps wouldn't fall asleep and then when he did he managed to pee all over and then poop all over. Once we got him to sleep things went pretty smoothly. Ryan was hanging around "helping" and Suzanne had SO much patience with both boys... no wonder she has FOUR little ones.

Check out her website for more pics of Ross and pics of Reid and Ryan on 9/30 as well. She's officially launching her own business and she's going to do fantastic!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A visit from Grandpa & Grandma McDowell

Russ' parents came up to visit on Saturday to meet Ross. We had a really nice time just hanging out, talking, and letting them get their fill of holding their new grandson. Grandpa spent a lot of time holding him and Ross spent quite a bit of time sleeping. Below are the better of the pictures that we captured throughout the day. The group shot on the couch was a challenge - getting six people, including a 3 year old and grandpa, to look at the camera didn't work for any one shot so I included two different ones :)