Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bedtime Success

I hope to not be speaking too soon, but we've had a bedtime success in our house over the weekend. Ally did not sleep for one second in my bed last night (although at 6:30 I went in there hoping that she would sleep with me...)

Our original plan was to put her crib downstairs in the guest room. I would sleep on the futon and "let her cry it out" until she slept by herself through the night. Danny had a wonderful brainstorm. His idea: put the mattress from Ally's crib in Emma's room and see what happens with that, first. We decided to give that a try. If it worked, it would be much less painful for me. If it didn't, nothing was lost.

I proved to be a stroke of genius! As soon as the mattress was set up Saturday morning, Ally was all over "her bed." She jumped on it, guarded over it and would go in the bedroom by herself and lay down on it. Several times she told one of us to "om on" to play with her on her bed. Her nap Saturday and Sunday was close to two hours - at least 45 minutes longer than in her crib. Last night she cried at 12am. I went in there and laid down next to her on the floor and she was out again - faster than if I had brought her into our bed. She woke up at 5:30 and was relatively quite. Because she went to bed much earlier than normal the night before (Emma was a terror and we put them down together), my attempts to lay down with her in the girls' room were futile. All said, she slept on her own the entire night! Ah! The power of wanting what your sister has.

Have a good night tonight. We are certainly planning to do so ourselves.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wonderful News!

S. had her biopsies today and the doctor knew for certain that it was an abscess. He was able to drain it in his office. Now they just need to find out why this keeps happening to her.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blogger Did a Bad, Bad Thing...

Where is my sense of responsibility to my loyal readers? I’ve used my blog to celebrate the arrival of my two nephews and I know that one and all have rejoiced with me.

I did not even think about providing you with pictures. For this, I apologize!

Here are pictures of my two beautiful boys – Trent and Caden.

Trent and his adoring family (and isn't Mallory a doll, too?)

Peaceful Caden
A special thank you to my sisters and brother for making me such a happy aunt!

Mom2Mom Success Story

Trista has recently started a feature on her blog called Mom2Mom Tips. Her first post was about rewarding your children inexpensively. One of her suggestions was to give high fives. I started using that with Emma this weekend and it has been great. On Sunday we were invited to go to the swimming club that our friends have joined. Emma and I get together with Charlie and his family as often as we can. There is a kiddie pool as well as an adult pool at this club. When we ventured into the adult pool with the kids, Becci and I kept moving closer and closer to the 5 foot area. Charlie normally wouldn’t go that far, but he didn’t complain with Emma around. As a joke, I asked Emma if she wanted to jump off the diving board. She said that she did. If I’d been able to stay in the deep end while others were diving, I believe that she would have done it. When she walked back along the edge of the pool back to where I was, I urged her to jump in to me. When she did – without acting afraid and without holding my hands first, I gave her a high five. She couldn’t get enough of jumping. Each time I moved further away and each time she got the biggest smile on her face as she jumped to me. When she got water in her mouth, I always gave her a high five afterwards. At one point, Emma and Charlie decided to jump to us at the same time. Charlie jumped first and Emma hesitated instead of just jumping. She fell into the pool before I could get to her and she went all the way under. I grabbed her up quickly, but I was anticipating a bad reaction. What did Emma do? She wiped her face off and asked to jump again. I gave her another high five. She was so proud of that.

This morning, I handed her a pair of socks when we arrived at daycare and asked her to put them on (if I put the girls’ socks and shoes on at home they would take them off anyway so I don’t bother anymore). Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t. This morning she put them right on. I reached over to give her a high five and she missed. We laughed and laughed. I went back to putting Ally’s socks and shoes on and Emma asked to try the high five again. She didn’t want to miss out. This time I leaned over further and we got it right.

I never would have thought that something as simple as a high five could make Emma so happy. Right now it’s really working as a reward for her. Thanks for the suggestion, Trista!

Prayer Request

I have a friend who is quite in need of prayers. For the past two years or so, S has been very sick with one infection or the other. She’s had three surgeries during that time and the level of infection increases with each one. They have found that her lymph nodes are flooded with infection and she’s started to have a lot of inflammation over the past couple of weeks. Since then, a mass of inflammation has grown in her breast. She saw her gynecologist yesterday. The news is not great. She had an MRI yesterday and is scheduled for several needle biopsies on Thursday. The doctor wants to rule out inflammatory breast cancer. Her symptoms are consistent with this form of cancer. Given her history with abscesses and infection, it is possible that she has a large abscess in her breast. Although that is what we are all hoping for, this is not good, either. If her abscess were to burst, it’s very close to her heart and lungs. S is hoping that the doctor taking the biopsies will be able to make an educated guess based on the type of fluid he gets. Otherwise, she won’t know until some time next week.

Please add S to your prayers. She really needs them.

Monday, July 24, 2006

How Did You Find Out?

While the entire family gathered at my parent’s house after Grandma’s party, we got to talking about having babies and finding out the sex prior to the baby’s birth. Being in a room with a newborn and a VERY pregnant woman, those topics are bound to come up. Both Rob and Erica and Meridith and Derek chose not to learn the sex of their babies until they were born. Meridith was curious to find out how special it was going to be. Although they were expecting their second child, they found out Mallory’s sex before she was born. Erica imagined that not knowing would give her the motivation she needed during the birthing process, but it didn’t work out as she expected. Rob said that he wished that they found out when Erica wasn’t so exhausted. Still, it was really neat for him to hear his wife tell him that they had a son.

Danny and I chose to find out whether Allison or Nolan/Reilly was on the way. Truth be told, I don’t have the patience to wait for anything exciting unless it can’t happen any other way. The day we found out was a wonderful day. It’s one of the happiest moments of my happy pregnancy. Because we were unable to tell during our scheduled ultrasound, we made an appointment at another hospital for a 4D ultrasound nine weeks later (yes, it killed me to have to wait that much longer). The hospital was about an hour away. We made it special by taking a vacation day. We dropped Emma off at daycare, went to our appointment and found out together that our beautiful daughter was on the way. Afterwards, we called everyone with the news and went to my favorite Blacksburg restaurant for lunch. We were riding on a high the entire day. Our dreams for the baby were taking more shape because she was a girl. I could rub my belly and call Allison by her name.

I’ve given what Rob said some thought. It was neat to hear him say that, but I was very happy with the way we handled my pregnancy with Allison. Emma was another situation entirely. We were told that she was a girl when we got “the call.” Then, it occurred to me. What Rob said struck a chord with me because I did have that same experience after all. I just hadn't thought about it that way.

The day that the agency called to tell us that we had been selected by a birthmother, I was attending a class at the local community college for work. The social worker attempted to call me. I wasn’t answering the phone so she called Danny. He got the news first. I had my cell phone with me, but I turned it off. It wasn’t because I was worried about interrupting the class. I turned it off because I kept checking to see if anyone had called us about our house (we'd just put it on the market). The temptation was just too great and I couldn't pay attention. Meanwhile, Danny was trying desperately to contact me. As a last ditch effort before driving to campus and yelling my name until he found me, he sent a text message. During a break, I turned on the phone and opened the text message. My assumption was that it was about the house. The message was very short. All is said was: “Baby!” I can’t fully describe how I felt as I read that message and it sunk in what he was saying. I ran to the bathroom and called him. It was then that he told me that we were selected and that our baby was a girl. We talked for a long time about meeting the birth family, we went over the details a few times. We were both so excited. Because I heard the great news from him and not the social worker, I was able to be myself. I didn’t have to censor my excitement or hear anyone say that I need to be prepared for it not going through. It was a wonderful phone call.

I joke around about Danny getting all of the “good” phone calls – Danny also got the phone call after Emma was born – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Along with our ultrasound date in Radford, it was a glorious experience that we shared as a couple. Yes, it was so nice and special to hear from my husband that we were going to have a daughter.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Great Joy!

Trent James was born last night at just before midnight. He is the son of my sister, Meridith, and her husband Derek. He was 7 pounds even and 19 1/2 inches long. Our family is so very blessed. I am on cloud nine to have two nieces and now to have two nephews. Please join me in saying a prayer of thanksgiving for my beautiful nephew Trent.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Truer Tale Has Never Been Told

Check out this post from a new blog I've found thanks to Danny. You won't regret it. I would kill for this woman's genius.

Today's Reflection on Motherhood

Today is the last day that Ms. A. will be working at the girls’ daycare. She was Emma’s teacher between the ages of 24 months and 32 months. She was wonderful and I looked forward to chitchatting with her everyday. She’s moving to Florida to live near her family. As much as I hate to see her go, I can very well understand the pull that being near home can have. During my lunch break I went to Wal-Mart and bought her some note cards and a bag of M&Ms (that’s lemmy lems to Emma and Allison) as a small going away gift. On the card I signed my name “Jennifer (Otherwise known as Emma and Allison’s mother).” In a daycare setting, that quickly becomes your name. When I drop off or pick up the girls, there is a chorus of kids yelling that in some variation from across the room. It happens to all of the parents. So, when I signed the card like that it was intended to be sarcastic and I knew that it would make her laugh. Our relationship has moved far beyond that of teacher and parent, especially after Emma moved to the next room.

When children address me as my kids’ mom, I think it’s cute. Their entire frame of reference is their peer group. That’s the way they fit parents in to their world. What is irritating to me is adults who introduce me to other adults that way. Sometimes I feel like I’m either “Danny’s wife”, “Emma’s mom” or “Allison’s mom.” The name Jennifer seems to have disappeared. There is no longer a name for me as an individual. I simply am dictated by my relationships. Some mothers I talk to happily refer to themselves as their kids’ mom. That first makes me want to vomit and second makes me judge myself for not gladly disposing of my own identity for the sake of my children.

Something about signing Ms. A’s card like that stuck with me. I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon. It occurred to me that all names are what you make of them. When someone calls me “Jenny” – especially if I don’t like them – I have the same reaction. The only difference being that the name “Jenny” doesn’t cause me to mourn the supposed loss of my identity. After the irritation passes, I let it go recognizing that the person who called me “Jenny” doesn’t know me very well. The same is true of adults who refer to me by the names of my children. They are not viciously attacking my personhood. I perceive it as such because it plays into a fear I don’t want to acknowledge. Am I a person outside of my roles as wife and mother? Of course I am. The way to erase that fear is to live out my life as Jennifer and realize that a part of Jennifer is Danny’s wife. A part of Jennifer is Emma’s mom. A part of Jennifer is Allison’s mom. When I figure out what I want the remaining parts of Jennifer to be, that fear will no longer exist.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the name Jenny or associating a woman with her children. Like I said: names are what you make of them. I’ve decided to embrace my role as Emma and Allison’s mother. Who else on this earth can claim that honor? The Queen of England can either rise up to her singular status in life or she can waste it fretting over the fact that she’s not allowed to just be Elizabeth. Aren’t we sick and tired of hearing reports of celebrities, royalty and the wealthy complaining about how their fame and fortune get in the way of their “real lives?” How is whining about the riches I have in my children any different?

From now on, feel free to address me as “Emma and Allison’s mother” or “Danny’s wife.” It will be received as the highest compliment.

Just don’t ever call me Jenny.

Michigan Vacation 2006

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Last week we were in wonderful Grand Rapids, Michigan visiting a new nephew, family and friends. The kids traveled well and we had a great time.

I was treated to an entire afternoon of pampering. Trista generously split her day long gift to the spa with me. I will be forever in her debt. We had full body massages, pedicures, got our hair styled (after an amazing hair wash!) and our makeup done. I haven’t felt so good in a long time. The massage was my favorite part of the afternoon, but getting my hair washed was very nice. The stylist could have washed my hair for an hour and I would have enjoyed every minute. We both looked and felt fabulous.

Mallory and Sophia didn’t take long to warm up to Uncle Danny. One morning we went over to Meridith’s house and she just smiled and smiled at her Uncle Danny. When we met Donielle and Sophia for lunch, she almost lunged at him. He really seemed to enjoy playing with his nieces. He was also Mr. Entertainment for the kids. He installed our new, two screen, DVD player. He came up with a great idea to use a CD wallet to store the DVDs in so that we didn’t clutter up the car with DVD cases. Just as with music, Danny always comes up with just the right combination of movies and other videos. He knows what we like! He also keep Ethan and Abby in giggles. Ethan got a huge ball for his birthday. I don’t know how many times he bounced each of the kids on top of the ball.

Emma was such a little mother on this trip – especially with Caden. She was glued to the person holding him and played the role of baby hog when she was allowed. At one point while she was holding Caden she asked for me to take him. I asked her if she was tired of holding the baby. She said, “No. I have to cough.” She coughed and then went to wash her hands. She helped Mallory and Sophia walk around and thoroughly enjoyed her position as the big cousin. She is so loving and mature! Although we saw Trista, Abby and Ethan just a couple of months earlier, she interacted with them so much more during this trip. She’s always acted as Ethan’s mother, but she played so well with Abby, too. When I was wrapping Abby’s birthday gifts, Emma was excited to help and couldn’t wait to celebrate. She loved the afternoon we spent at Lake Michigan with Donielle and Sophia. She is going to be my little beach bum. I really wish that I had brought my swimming suit with me so I could have played with her more. As it was, I was soaked up to my ribcage and had to change my pants afterwards. She had her first taste of blue moon ice cream (my favorite when I was a little girl).

Allison, on the other hand, was very jealous of her cousins. When I held Caden for the first time, Danny had to take Ally out of the apartment because she was screaming and carrying on. If I called for Mallory or Sophia to come to me, Allison ran over as fast as she could to claim my lap for herself. If one of her cousins looked at her the wrong way – even from across the room, she grabbed her Pooh bear or blankie and yelled, “Mine!” The best incident occurred when I let one of my nieces play with my cell phone. Allison took it away and yelled, “MY mommy phone!” I got such a kick out of that. Two years really makes a difference at this age.

Still, Allison’s personality really blossomed while we were in Michigan. On Tuesday night, Emma and I went to Trista’s house for a scrapbooking get together. Instead of getting back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house late, we had a sleepover. Danny stayed at my parents with Ally. The next morning all I heard was about how much fun Ally was that night. He was expecting her to be upset that I was gone, but she kept the house entertained instead. He’s never had so much fun with Allison before. She started to say “Yes” for the first time, too. She also picked up the word meanie from Emma. If she didn’t like something, she called the responsible party meanie. It was especially funny when she called Mallory or Sophia meanie for doing nothing more than look at her Pooh bear. On Thursday Grandpa, Danny, Emma and I took a trip to New Buffalo, MI to meet Donielle and Sophia for lunch. While Ally stayed with Grandma, she did the most hilarious thing – she covered most of her face with the bowl she used to pick beans and shouted “Shut up!” over and over again. It took Grandma and Meridith a while to decide that she really was saying that. The next day at Mark and Trista’s house she picked up a toy microphone that adds an echoing effect to your voice. She walked around their living room and play area shouting “Shut up!” into the microphone over and over again. Where did that come from?

It was nice to get some time to spend with my sisters (Trista included). It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get much quality time in. Last year Meridith and Donielle had newborns to care for during our visit. The summer before that we seemed to have wedding after wedding. This year was so much nicer. I especially enjoyed being able to have a sleepover with Meridith and Trista. We went through her stamps, had Steak-n-Shake shakes and cheese fries (ahh… the advantages of having a sister as a Steak-n-Shake manager) and talked late into the night. The ten year gap in our ages is shrinking more each day. I helped her set up the new baby’s crib and did just about everything I could think of to bring on her labor. My powers of labor induction aren’t very strong. As I am writing this post, there is no baby in sight. The first night I slept over at Trista’s house we stayed up until almost 2am talking. Even though we mainly talked about our children, it felt like those first nights together at the Notre Dame retreat house.

The highlight and reason for our trip was to attend the 80th birthday party held for my maternal Grandma. With the exception of three of my cousins, all of her children, son and daughter-in-laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren were there. Many of her siblings and spouses came as well. It was a quite a group of people. It was held at my Great-Grandfather’s farm. I haven’t been there in at least 15 years. Walking around the yard and being in the house brought back a lot of memories. I sat in Grandpa’s chair and looked out the window just like he used to. I felt very close to him there. Despite the heat and humidity, it was such a blessing to be there to celebrate my wonderful, beautiful grandmother. We shared food, laughter, stories, music and more. I am honored to be a member of that family.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Great Joy!

I am proud to announce that Caden Koinonia was born last night at quarter to 10pm. He is the son of my brother Rob and his beautiful wife, Erica. I cannot tell you how thrilled we are to have a new member of our family. It's a joy to have a nephew.

Please join me in saying a prayer of thanksgiving for Caden and Co. today.

It's a beautiful day!