Friday, December 30, 2011

Big boy

Mr. Lukie had his 1 year well check this week.  He got a clean bill of health for the most part.  His iron levels are a little low, which is common and easily remedied by taking a multi-vitamin that contains iron.  He is in the 90th percentile with his height, at 31".  He is in the 50th percentile with his weight, at 21.8 lbs.  And his head is in the 75th percentile.  Looks like he's going to have his Papa's tall and thin build, with a head size somewhere in between :)  I can't tell you how thankful I am that he is healthy, and developing on or ahead of schedule in all areas.  We are so lucky, especially considering that he is classified as a preemie.  Coming out a month early certainly didn't hold our little guy back.  I've said this before but I will say it again: I love this age.  Love, love, love it!

Here is Luke squealing with delight as he played this morning.

What a super big brother, playing blocks with Luke.

Hello, gateland!

"I'm sooooooooo big!"

I am amazed at how much more sophisticated Luke's play has become lately.  He really enjoys his Little People toys!

We bought Luke a Fisher Price "Classics" milk truck.  He LOVES it.  He was walking around and around this afternoon, dragging his milk truck behind it.  Super cute.  Maybe a future dairy farmer?  ;)

Big brother, always lots of fun <3

And that's it!  I'll stop the picture explosion.....for now ;)

Winding down

So here we are once again at the end of a year.  The older I get, the faster New Year's Eve seems to come around each year.  I'm a little more sentimental than usual about closing out a year.  Adam was alive during 2010 and 2011.  In some weird way it's comforting to know he lived this year.  Time just keeps marching on...

I have to say, looking back over the year, knowing what all we were dealing was a good year.  I'm proud of our family.  We stuck together and made it through some very tough times.  We're still sane, and we're still smiling and laughing.  All good things!

And so we bid farewell to 2011, and we say cheers to new beginnings.  2012 is going to be our year, I can just feel it.  Our theme for 2012 is HOPE.  My biggest goal is to keep things light hearted and have a lot of fun this year.  Good things are coming our way!

We are going to have a low key night, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  A cozy clothes, glasses wearing kind of night.  This is one of the reasons why Mark and I are perfect for each other.  We have the same ideas about what a fun NYE consists of.  The nightclub scene is long gone for us (thankfully!). 

Wishing all my readers a safe and fun NYE, and a blessed 2012 <3     

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Merry Christmas

Christmas is officially over for our family.  Our celebrations began Christmas Eve and ended yesterday.  We celebrated with Mark's family Christmas Eve, stayed home and celebrated with our family Christmas day, and celebrated with my family the day after Christmas.  Everyone had a great time.  It's a special time of year, especially having young children in the family.  Lots of excitement!

Some of my favorite moments were:
  • Watching the boys together Christmas morning.  Nolan was so sweet with Luke, helping him out and being genuinely excited for Luke
  • Luke being so excited about his Little People bus that he shoved all his food from his tray in his mouth at once, in an attempt to hurry up and get back to playing.  He looked like a chipmunk with his cheeks so full :) 
  • Seeing Nolan's surprise when he opened his Kindle Fire at my parent's house -- so shocked and excited
  • Having a chance to slow down and spend time with family
We missed Adam on Christmas, but we know he was celebrating with Jesus in heaven.  As I remembered the events of last year's Christmas, I felt overwhelmingly grateful that those moments are in our past.  Christmas this year was filled with much more peace and joy, thankfully. 

Here are a few of my favorite pictures.....

Nolan and Luke before opening presents

Sweet Nolan helping Luke

Nolan showing off his guns

This is the look Luke had on his face all Christmas day.  He was very intense - so excited about his new toys and didn't know what to play with next.  We could tell it was serious business for him!  Too funny!

Mark didn't realize that "professional assembler" was included in the Papa job description :)

When Christmas comes to an end, every mother knows about the "Christmas toy aftermath".  Normally I let the clutter and mess linger, but not this year.  I was motivated because we had plans in place to put up a few more baby gates in the front of our house to create a second "baby safe zone".  You might be wondering - what is with this girl and her baby zones?!  Luke never stops exploring.  He's not hyper about it, just "busy".  And very adventurous.  So unless he is in a completely, and I mean completely, baby-proofed area, I cannot take my eyes off of him.  So having an area in the front of our house that would allow me to freely work in the kitchen is a dream come true.  The tree and all decorations came down last night, and play zone #2 is in business!  I. Love. It.  And so does Lukie. 

I went through all his toys and divided them so he has a nice variety in both play areas.  He keeps walking around the room, squealing with delight.   He seems to know the space is for him.  Nolan likes to hang out in the Lukie areas too - he calls the back play room his "man cave" :)      

Luke playing with his beloved bus on his beloved personal arm chair

Nolan enjoying his Kindle Fire

And that is about it.  Now that all the hard work of organizing and un-decorating is finished, we can relax and enjoy the rest of Nolan's Christmas vacation.  Woo-Hoo!!!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy 1st birthday

Well yesterday was the day!  I can hardly believe it....but as of 8:10pm last night, I had my boys with me this time last year.  There have been superb moments, ugly moments, and everything in between during this past year.  Luckily the good times far outweighed the bad. 

I anticipated yesterday being harder than it was.  I sort of live like that - hope for the best but plan for the worst.  Whether it's right or wrong, it's serves me well.  I had a few teary moments thinking about Adam, but overall Luke and Nolan kept me busy, entertained, and thankful.  We had all our festivities in the morning because Nolan had to go to his dad's house in the early afternoon.  We kicked off the day with a 9am cake smash and were at the lovely Chuck E Cheese's by 11am.  Yes, I put my germ worries aside and let Luke play in the toddler area.  Each time I started wondering what kind of toxic waste he was touching, I had to talk myself down and focus on his squeals of excitement ;)

Here are some fun facts about Luke at 1 year old:

  • He wears 18mo-24mo clothing, and size 5 1/2 shoes
  • His favorite foods are clementines, pumpkin muffins, arrowroot cookies and cheese (the more flavorful, the better); however, he will pretty much eat anything as long as it's a finger food he can feed himself.  We are no longer able to feed him with a spoon.  He locks his lips and turns his head.  He hates milk.
  • His favorite toy is, by far, his vacuum
  • Veggies make him poop.  A day with no veggie eating is a day with no pooping.
  • His favorite song varies, but he listens to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at night for white noise
  • He is a great sleeper, which is an unexpected turn of events
  • He loves to be outside
  • He hates to watch TV/movies/videos
  • He loves taking baths, another unexpected turn of event
  • His favorite game is peek-a-boo.  He initiates that game often. 
  • His favorite pet is Mocha, then Jazzy, and then Boomer
  • His nicknames are Lukie, Lukers, Bear, and Beary
  • He needs time to warm up to new situations/new people.  If you give him some space, he'll be fine and actually turns into the life of the party once he is comfortable.
  • He loves his big brother.  He initiates little laughing/babbling games with's super sweet.  No one can make him laugh like Nolan can!
And that's Luke in a nutshell.  Here are a few pics from his big day!

Firetruck from big brother Nolan.  Obviously, a big hit with Luke!

 Luke's very own vacuum from Mama and Papa.  Another huge hit with Lukie!

A few decorations for Luke's John Deere party

Luke enjoying the Happy Birthday song :)

Taking it slow, carefully exploring his cake

And it's time for a bath before heading to Chuck E Cheese's!

Fun at Chuck E Cheese's

It was a good day.  It was just enough excitement for Luke to have a special day, while not overdoing it.  He took a nice long nap when the party was over, and we had a nice low-key evening.  Now it's time to turn our focus to Christmas!  <3


Monday, December 19, 2011

Not so unusual

If you follow my blog you know that I've recently talked about how difficult the last few weeks have been as we approach all the "firsts" associated with Adam's death.  So maybe my irritation is related to my emotional state.  Or maybe it's not.  Either way, I must talk about the Duggars for a moment.

First, I like the Duggars.  I think they are a wonderful family, and I have no problem with them having a large family.  Their children seem genuinely happy and well-adjusted.  I honestly don't think they can fake the way they are.  Some episode would inevitably show a dark side by now.  They don't rely on public assistance, they are hard-working, and seem like all around good people.  I know many people feel otherwise, and that is fine.  To each his own. 

But even if you aren't a Duggar fan, I would still think you could have compassion for what they are going through right now with their miscarriage.  Sadly, it seems that many people are using this as an opportunity to attack their family. 

I read an article today with a quote from a doctor or psychologist describing their grief process as "unusual".  I wonder if that person has ever lost a child?  My guess is probably not.  The criticisms seems to surround around the fact that they took pictures of their baby, that they held a memorial service with hundreds of attendees, and that they released so much info (i.e. Michelle's taped letter to Jubilee).  Many people don't think there should be so much done for a miscarriage.   

I wonder then, how far along do you have to be in order to be justified in your grief?  Better yet, how long does your baby have to live to be considered worthy of a memorial service?  

My thoughts are this:  If you have never suffered a miscarriage or lost a child, you definitely have no business judging someone else's grief process over the loss of a child.  Believe me when I tell you that you do not, and cannot, understand what they are going through.  You can try to understand, and you can empathize, but you do not truly know.  And that's okay - just keep your criticisms and comments to yourself.

If you have suffered a miscarriage or lost a child, you've either handled it similarly to the Duggars, or you have handled it differently.  Either way, if you are criticizing them, shame on you because you should know better.  Everyone handles grief in their own way, and there isn't one right or wrong way.

If you have children, I want you to think for minute about all the sweet memories you have of your child's lifetime.  I bet you are smiling right now, and I bet you are flooded with happy times.  Moments and memories that you will treasure forever.  And you probably have stacks of photos and hours of videos documenting your child's lifetime. 

Now, imagine if someone stole all those memories from you.  Just erased everything, along with your child.  All you were left with is maybe their first few days of life....or even worse, just a couple ultrasound photos and lots of dreams of what you hoped the future would hold.  How would you feel?  I'm guessing pretty darn awful.  That is what it's like to lose a tiny baby. 

Especially as a mom to older children.

Once you've been a mom, you know about all those amazing moments with your kids because you've already lived them with one or more children.  So when you lose a baby, either to miscarriage or shortly after birth, it's searingly painful.  You know what you will be missing out on.  You know what could have been.

It's not easy, and it's not something I would wish upon anyone.  I just wish that people would realize that now is not the time to judge the Duggars.  They loved their baby girl, and they have a right to memorialize her in any way they see fit.  I wish the Duggars peace at this difficult time <3      

Friday, December 16, 2011

Not my timeline

As Luke's 1st birthday rapidly approaches, he continues to remind Mark and I that he determines his timeline of development, not us.  He also reminds us that when he's working on something big, watch out.  Not much will be easy around here until his task is accomplished.

We hit some major rough patches the last few months.  Fussiness, poor naptime habits, and just general discontent.  I felt like we were back at the newborn stage, only worse because he was mobile.  I thought the crying and whining was going to send me over the edge. 

Also, we were becoming concerned over Luke's continued refusal to feed himself.  He routinely puts non food items in his mouth, but anything on his tray got ignored, or thrown to the ground.  We started to wonder if there was a problem of some sort. 

We bought "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" in DVD and book format.  We were desperate for direction, and we braced ourselves for difficult times with Luke.  I think we were both a little scared.

Then something beautiful happened: it all went away.

The whining and crying was replaced with giggles, smiles, and incessant babbling.  Nap refusals gave way to twice a day crib naps.  We say goodnight at 8pm and don't hear a sound before 7am....we actually wake him up at 7am so we can eat breakfast together before Mark leaves.  Finger food tossing ceased overnight.  One morning he cleaned his tray like a champ, as if he'd been feeding himself for months. 

The culprit?  Walking. 

He was so obsessed with mastering walking, that it seemed to rule his world.  A similar phenomenon happened when he was mastering crawling.  It's like he puts his entire being into working on a skill, which leaves him cranky, exhausted, and frustrated.  Once he could walk across an entire room by himself, he seemed satisfied. 

And let's talk about how stinkin' cute he is toddling around!  He flashes me huge, dimpled grins while he's walking, and usually giggles.  Sometimes he'll put his hands up in the air above his head and laugh while he's walking.  It's like he can't believe he's moving around while maintaining the use of his hands.  He also likes to put small, soft toys in his mouth while he walks.  We think he observes the dogs walking around with things in their mouths, so he imitates them.  This is, by far, my favorite age so far.  I could just eat him up!

Sometimes I think I learn more from my boys than they learn from me.  I have to remember to be patient and not worry -- they will do what they do when they are ready to do it!  Also, I have to remember to just ride out the storms as they hit.  "This too shall pass."  And it always does!  Now that we are rested and loving life, time to start back at square one with another baby!  ;)  Well not yet.  But maybe someday! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Me, Me, Me!

This evening was really nice - I had some "me" time :)

I had a haircut scheduled before Thanksgiving, and something came up so I had to cancel it.  We've been busy lately, and I hadn't had a chance to reschedule it.  A few days ago I hit a wall with my hair -- it was way too long and out of control.  Luckily, my stylist had an evening appt. today.  The evening was mine to enjoy all by myself.  A very rare treat.

I can't tell you how refreshing it was to do some errands alone, and then to relax at the salon while I got my hair cut.  I even blasted the music while I was driving, and thought about non-kid things.  The icing on the cake is I decided to try a new style, and I love it! 

Moral of the story: I need to spend time alone sometimes.  Usually when I leave in the evenings I meet up with friends.  I totally enjoy a girls night out -- but every now and then solitude is nice too.  Cheers to a super night!  <3 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hocking Hills!

Our family had a very fun long weekend trip to Hocking Hills State Park!  We needed some uninterrupted time together, and we are all thankful we could take some time out and get outta town.  The trip was our "Adam gift" this year.  Since everything with Adam happened around Christmas last year, we will have some special gift, trip or outing in honor of Adam each year.  We kept the trip a surprise from Nolan, which I've never done before.  It was awesome to see his face light up when we picked him up early from school.  The car was packed and we whisked him out of town :-)

Here is a picture tour of our weekend:

Our cabin.  A great cabin - check out the Aspen at Buckeye Cabins - clean, comfortable, private, and beautiful.

The first night.  Nolan enjoying some hot tub time while Luke and I sat nearby outside.  The boys being silly together :)

Some pictures from Christmas at Ash Cave.  Really cool!  They had luminaries along the trail to the cave.  Once you arrived Santa was there, plus snacks and hot cider (yummy on a cold night!), and tables with activities for the kids.  Everything went so smoothly until we got back to the cave and our stroller was "beached".  The floor of the cave is beach sand!  LOL  An unexpected surprise....luckily we were able to push through, but it was difficult.  Luke was a trooper, and Nolan had a blast making a necklace and getting his face painted. 

The boys on the drive home from their night of fun...

We took a lovely hike thru Conkle's Hollow - gorgeous!  However, my camera ran out of batteries so I have no pictures of the view.  The trip was going too smoothly, something was bound to happen. 

And it did.  Luke had explosive diarrhea.  At a gift shop 20 minutes from our cabin.  With an insufficient amount of wipes in his diaper bag, no diaper rash cream, and no extra outfits.  Yep, mom of the year here! 

How could an experienced mom get into a predicament like this?  Well I'll just get right down to it - Luke poops at most once a day.  He had already gone that morning.  Diaper rashes are almost non-existent for him.  I was trying to minimize the amount of crap we had to tote around, so I brought a couple diapers and a few wipes and we went on our merry way.  Huge, epic  mistake. 

We ended up cleaning him up the best we could in the van.  Then we had to drive to the nearest Wal-Mart, which was about 20 minutes away.  We bought wipes, diaper rash cream, disposable diapers, and a new outfit.  Much to Mark's dismay there was a "family restroom" available, so he got to participate in the fun of finishing the clean up on Luke, and getting him re-dressed and ready to roll.  By the end of the whole ordeal, we were all able laugh about it.  We will forever remember the incident when Luke wears his infamous Hocking Hills Wal-Mart outfit :)  Oh, and I will NEVER take cloth diapers on a vacation again.  Both times there has been some major unfortunate poop episode.  Cloth diapers are for home use only!!

Here is Luke all happy after the drama...

Two hours after we had left our cabin to go hiking, we were finally able to head to a trail.  But it was lunch time, so we decided to refuel with a nice lunch at a highly recommended restaurant.  Guess what?  It was closed due to remodeling.  Of course it was!  So we tried a Mexican restaurant - how can you go wrong with Mexican?  Apparently you can go very wrong.  Think food cooked in dishsoap - that is the only way I can describe it.  So $45 later, we were all still hungry and ended up eating McDonald's in our van from the drive-thru. 

The rest of the day went much smoother.  Sort of.  We hiked to Old Man's Cave, which was gorgeous, and then we hiked a 4 mile trail that was stroller friendly.  It would have been a perfect end to a crazy day, except someone died at Old Man's Cave right before we arrived.  We had to see the body bag and all.  It was tragic - an 18 year old fell from a cliff!  That put a damper on the hike -- we all kept thinking about the horrible accident.  Needless to say, we stuck to the trail and took no chances around the cliffs.  As a side note, I would not recommend taking young toddlers/children to Old Man's Cave until they are old enough to understand the danger.  There are way too many cliffs/drop offs around the trails. 

Here are some pics from our hiking...

And finally, here are some random pics of us having fun around the cabin.  Luke took his first little hike :)

On our drive home, Nolan fell asleep and Luke was trying to wake him up.  It was so funny!  He was pinching/poking Nolan's face...

Fun times, good memories!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A hard month

If you have ever had a significant loss in your life -- one that impacts you on a daily basis -- you know that grief sucks.  I don't think you can fully appreciate how much is sucks until you have personally experienced it.  I've obviously had elderly family members die, and while it is sad and I miss them, there is enough distance that it doesn't leave a gaping hole in my daily life.  Losing Adam took grief to a whole new level. 

It seems that a wave a sadness about Adam washed in with Thanksgiving, and that sadness only intensifies with each day.  I feel a sense of dread as all the significant dates tied to Adam approach. 

December 21st.  The day I gave birth to two beautiful baby boys.  Yet, I will only be able to celebrate with one of those babies this year. 

December 25th.  The day we found out Adam was terminally ill.

January 1st.  The day Adam and Luke were baptized together.

January 5th.  The day Adam died. 

January 7th.  The day we buried Adam. 

It's going to be a lot to deal with all at once.  I just hope that the "firsts" are the hardest.  It will not be cool if I feel this way every year at this time. 

Now, all of that being said, I am hanging in there.  I'm not in a deep depression, and I don't have any type of clinical disorder going on.  I have support all around me.  I'm simply grieving my baby boy. 

We've been doing a lot of fun stuff to lift our spirits.  We've got a very fun weekend planned.  I will post about it next week.  Luke's birthday is going to be filled with more smiles and laughter than sadness, as will Christmas.  But I am going to be sure to take care of myself and give myself some time and space to feel whatever feelings come those days.  I refuse to pretend my sadness doesn't exist. 

I'll end with some of my favorite pictures of Adam :)