Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy (early) New Year!

Things have been pretty much non-stop in our lives lately.  I spent the whole week before Christmas telling students that they were on probation, disqualified from the University, or revoked from our college.  What a way to get into the holiday spirit, huh?  We then flew out to Montana on the morning of Christmas Eve, and Ella was quite the trooper.  My husband told his family that she got "fussy" on the first flight--I'd argue that she was a typical 15-month old who was simply "fidgety".  We then had a three hour drive to his hometown, and went straight to the Christmas Eve service where Ella let everyone know just how "joyful" she was to be off the plane and out of a carseat. 

We had a very pleasant Christmas with my husband's family, and Ella was sufficiently spoiled.  We were even able to hold some of her gifts until the day after Christmas.  She has absolutely loved playing with her cousins here in town, and there are absolutely wonderful with her.  I have to admit that it's kind of nice to have someone else looking after her and keeping her occupied; though it has made it a challenge when it's time for her to go to bed but she'd rather stay up and play with them. 

The weather has been so much nicer than we were expecting (or that what we experienced two years ago).  We've been able to play outside quite a bit, and Ella has enjoyed petting the horses and skating on the river (or rather, sliding on the frozen river in borrowed snow boots while her cousins try out their new ice skates).

We're here for a few more days, including New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, when we'll be able to visit with some of my husband's friends from town.  He's the extrovert in our relationship, so I know that he's looking forward to visiting with his friends.

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

My blessing for the last couple of days has been my niece and nephew.  They really are some of the sweetest kids I know, and it's apparent that they love Ella, and she adores them.  I wish we lived closer to them so that Ella could get to know them better, but I hope that they have a special relationship for years to come.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Isn't Something I Should Be Sad About

For his birthday, I got my very-dear's son the baby sign language DVDs that Ella enjoys, so when she sent me a video message on my phone of him doing the sign for "baby", I thought nothing of it, and responded by text that "baby" was one of Ella's favorite signs as well.

She called back and told me the rest of the story:  she's pregnant again.

This isn't something I should be sad about, but I am.  I'm very happy for her, and I pray for her and this life that God is creating in her.  I recognize that every life is a miracle.  So why am I sad? 

I've been thinking and praying about it for the last couple of days, and I think it comes down to two things; both which feel really selfish.  First, she and I were pregnant together the first time, so in a weird sort of way, I wanted to be pregnant with her again.  Second, I still haven't started a cycle.  She's now gotten pregnant twice (she experienced an early loss over the summer), and I feel like I'm still waiting to get in the game. 

Experience has taught me that no matter how much I try to tell God to hurry up, He's got his own plan.  I'm trying to align my desires to follow His plan for my life.  I'm trying to live in the moment and not get ahead of myself.  I'm trying to be genuinely at peace.  But I'm not always the person I try to be.

When she told me, I was snacking on chocolate chips (not even chocolate chip cookies...just the chocolate chips).  I've let breastfeeding become my excuse for eating like crap, but if I want my hormones to get back in sync, something has got to change.  I'm firmly convinced that I was able to carry Ella to term because my hormones were acting the way I should...which was related to my insulin levels being normal...which was definitely helped by the Metformin, but I was also being really good about what I put in my body.  I've let go of that discipline, and sure--it was fun (and tasty!) but I think that something has to change if want to be healthy--and hopefully fertile--again.

I realize that I could stop breastfeeding at any time, and that would hopefully kickstart my cycle.  But I want to wait until after the holidays (and more importantly, the plane flights that mark the beginning and the end of the holidays).  If Ella gets fussy on a trips to and from Montana, I want to be able to whip out her one and only, tried and true "pacifier" (an no, I don't mean a "binky").

So here I am, heading into the holidays with a sweets-baking-mother-in-law and a resolution to cut out the sugar.  Great timing, huh?  But I've done it before, and I can do it again.  Like I said, one of Ella's favorite signs (and now spoken word as well) is "baby".  I'm willing to sacrifice the cookies, fudge, and candy canes if it means that we might be able to give her a baby brother or sister in the future.

She's worth it...

...wish me luck.

 Today's blessing is that my husband is coming home tonight from a class he's been taking out in LA.  I'm very excited to have him come home.  Then it's one more week of work, and then vacation with him and Ella and his family.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Conversations with Ella

Ella's spoken vocabulary is still holding strong with "Ella" and all her b-words (ball, baby, Boppy, etc.).  But with her signing, she and I were able to carry on quite the conversation yesterday during dinner.

Ella:  (signs "friend")

Me:  "You're right Ella, our friend Madelyn came over today."

Ella:  (points at the door)

Me:  "Yes, Madelyn had to go home."

Ella:  (signs for "car")

Me:  "That's right.  Her mom drove her home in her car."

Ella:  (signs for "music")

Me:  "I know.  We often listen to music in the car."

Ella:  (signs for "cookie")

Me:  "Okay, you can have a cookie when you finish your dinner."

We've been signing for months now, and I love that she can point things out to me.  But this really felt like an ongoing give-and-take kind of conversation.  It really makes me look forward to future conversations at the dinner table with her.

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to spend the day baking with my friend and her little girl, Madelyn, who is just three days older than Ella.  The girls go to the same daycare, and truly enjoy playing with each other.  It's great to see them entertaining themselves.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Am I raising a narcissistic child if Ella's first word was "Ella"?

I have to admit--it's pretty cute.  She'll see herself in the mirror and proclaim "Ella!".  We'll drive into town and she'll yell "Ella Ella Ella" from her (still rear-facing) carseat.  She apparently even has the kids at daycare repeating "Ella" after her.  And I thought that the "l" sounds were supposed to be hard (at least that's what my parents told me when I got mad at my brothers for calling me "war-ra").

Aside from her name, Ella also has a fondness for "b" words:  book, ball, baby, and Boppy (our nickname for grandpa).  Lately, she's also added some "p" sound:  "papa" for papaya, and "appa" for applesauce.  She also "moo'ed" for me this morning when I told her that's what the cow says (and lucky for her, we'll see lots of cows in Montana for Christmas).  It's amazing to see her vocabulary grow.  She's continuing to sign, but the vocal words are emerging slowly but surely.

Today's blessing was that we made it home safely from getting my car serviced with a nearly empty battery.  My husband wanted to save $50 by replacing the battery himself (I don't blame him), but it was so drained that nothing on the dashboard was working--not even the speedometer.  But we made it home safely, and he has since replaced the battery.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vaguely Familiar

I mentioned in my last post that I would share more about our weaning plans.  On Thanksgiving, my husband woke up with Ella and offered her a sippy cup of milk in place of her normal routine of nursing for the first time.  She seems to be transitioning pretty well, though she did do the sign for milk when I joined them at the table the first day, and tried to pull up my shirt on the second day.  I had to eat breakfast with her on my lap this morning to keep her happy enough, but I think she'll adjust.

I, on the other hand, am finding it a bit odd to adjust--both emotionally and physically.  I need to readjust my schedule to fit in an early morning workout and figure out when to eat breakfast, do my bible study, and get her fed, but I'll get there.  I miss the snuggle time with her, but I still get to look forward to our evening feedings (at least for the time being).  But physically speaking...I'm perplexed.  On Saturday (so Day 3 of just one feeding), I noticed that my breasts were tender.  It didn't quite feel like engorgement; if anything, it was reminiscent to how they felt when I was pregnant with Ella.  They still hurt on Sunday, so I took a test this morning.

It was negative.  I was actually surprised.  I wasn't expecting anything last week at the doctor's appointment, but this sensation is vaguely familiar--no, make that exactly like--what I experienced when I was pregnant with Ella.  I even had a dream last night about a positive test (granted, I had to read the results with a magnifying glass in the dream, so maybe that should be some sort of indication...that dream was then followed by another dream of stealing a sports car from a hotel...don't know what that one was about).

They still hurt today.  I'm wondering if this is some sort of indication of perhaps a new cycle, or maybe even ovulation.  I can only hope that something is happening.  After my previous experiences with anovulation and long cycles and PCOS, I admit that I'm a little anxious to get back to "normal" again.  All I can do is wait and see.

Today's blessing is that Ella is now holding our hands when we say grace at meals.  She knows that we hold hands and pray before our meals, and it's just so sweet that she will hold our hands while we pray.  I really pray that God give me wisdom as I lead her to Him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Wait! Wait! Come Back!"

It's a good thing that I've had three--make that four--years of dealing with the ambiguity and roller coasters that come along with trying to build a family.  If not, I don't know how I would have reacted to the nurse when she yelled "Wait! Wait! Come back!" down the hallway after she initially told me that the test was negative.

Let me rewind.

On Monday, I had my annual appointment with my OB/GYN, though I actually ended up seeing one of the other doctors and a resident in the clinic instead.  The nurse initially thought I must have gotten my years wrong when I told her that my last cycle was December 2009, but the doctor assured me that it's perfectly normal to not get a cycle until even up to six months after I stop breastfeeding (more on that later).  But they felt that they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't at least give me a pregnancy test before I left.

So I downed my water bottle, and filled up a cup for the nurse.  I waited as she added the necessary drops, and we both watched in anticipation as the liquid started moving up the test strip...past the "T" (test")...then up to the "C" (control).  The line popped out when it reached the C, so we both figured it was negative.

I really wasn't expecting anything different.  I would have been beyond thrilled if the second line had appeared at the T, but I know that would be almost too easy, having not even had a real cycle yet.  So that's what I said--"that would have been too easy"--and then turned to walk away.

But before I made it to the door, the nurse called after me and asked if I saw a faint line.  What?!  My first thought:  Really God?!  Again?!  What's with the mixed results?!  The nurse was still holding the test, so I never really got a good look at it.  The doctor, hearing the commotion, turned to look from the other side.  A few more anxious moments of them looking and me wondering, and in that time, whatever the nurse had seen slowly vanished. 

So like I said--it's a good thing that I've found a peaceful way of handling the "am I?" ambiguity and the "what if?" roller coasters.  Am I disappointed that I'm not pregnant?  Well, yeah, it would definitely be amazing.  Am I surprised?  Well, no, given that I still haven't had a cycle yet.  Am I hopeful for what the future holds?  Yes.  Undoubtedly yes.

Today's blessing was the chance to nurse Ella this morning.  I think that today might be her last morning feeding (assuming all goes well).  I'm actually really sad about it, and I'm really going to miss the snuggle time with her as she wakes up.  But I also feel like it's the right time to wean her back a little bit more.  This will leave us with just the nighttime feeding, which we'll continue through the holidays and into the start of the new year.  But I cherish the times that I had with her in the mornings, and will always remember the joy she brought me (and continues to bring me...just no longer at the breast) with the start of each day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Every Little Girl Needs a Dollie"

Ella loves babies.  LOVES them.  There is a new baby at church, and Ella got to meet her when she was just a week or two old, and she does the sign for baby every time she sees her.  Lately, she has also fallen in love with the baby dolls at her daycare.  Whenever I pick her up in the afternoon, she is always walking around with a baby doll in one hand and a blanket for her baby in the other.  It's gotten to the point that she's more interested in playing with the baby dolls at daycare than in going home with me.

I had to work late yesterday, so my husband came into town to pick her up.  I had mentioned to him that she was in love with the baby dolls at daycare, but he finally got to witness just how much Ella enjoys playing with them. Apparently her devotion won him over, because he promptly brought her to the nearest Target on the way home and let her pick out her very own baby doll to bring home.

She loves her doll, and it makes me excited to think about the possibility of seeing her with a sibling. I think that she will be a great big sister--if that is God's plan for our lives. But I'm also so impressed with my husband for buying the doll for Ella, on his own accord. He's been okay with whatever purchases I want to make for her, but this was the first time that he has taken the initiative to buy something for her--not to mention that it's something on the "girlie" side. It's so sweet to watch their daddy-daughter relationship develop.

My blessing from Friday was meeting the guys who helped me get my wallet when it fell off my car a couple weeks ago. They had a recognizable car with personalized plates, and it happed to be parked near where I work! So I boldly left a note, asking to repay them in some way. He came intoy office on Friday, an happens to be a student in my college. He agreed to let me make him a cheesecake.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ella-isms (Vol. 1)

I just wanted to capture a few of the sweet and silly things that Ella has been doing lately.  My intent is two-fold.  First, I want to be able to remember her at this fun age.  And second, I want to be able to share the joy that she brings me through these antics with those of you who have helped and supported me along the way to where we are now.

Snack Stack
She is getting really good at stacking things...including her banana slices.  Yesterday at breakfast, I caught her stacking the little round discs of banana one on top of the other.  She had gotten to three slices before she got hungry and decided it was better to eat them.

Sock Hop
Now that it's cooler (at least by Arizona standards), I have retired my flip-flops and have been wearing socks and shoes.  Ella was quick to pick up on the sign for "shoes", but now she also does it for "socks" (despite our attempts to teach her the proper sign).  She is fascinated by socks, and wants us to put our socks on her feet, sometimes even over her shoes.  They look more like leg-warmers, coming up to above her knees, but she's happy to run around the house like that (we have yet to take her out in public with them).

Part Billy Goat
When we were in Hawaii, my husband observed that my family must be part billy goat, because we climb everything--trees, rocks, you name it.  Well, Ella must have gotten the same billy goat genes from me, because she tries to climb anything she can--the back of her little chair, the footrest, the ottoman, her activity table, and even into the dishwasher.  The girl is fearless, and I hope it lasts.

Sharing is Caring
After she started feeling better from this most recent bug...I started feeling not-so-good.  Sure enough, Ella shared her germs with me.  But that wasn't all she tried to share with me.  While I was laying on the ground, she kept coming over to me and sticking her teething cookie in my mouth, as if to say "this makes me feel better, I want to share it with you to make you feel better too".  I've noticed her sharing at other times too--especially with snacks that she enjoys.  She'll often take a few bites, and then hold out a piece for me so that I can have some too.

Pity Party
I'll admit it--my precious baby throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way.  But she does so in a very careful and calculated way.  She ends up laying prostrate on the floor, but she doesn't just throw herself down on the ground.  Oh no--she very carefully leans back--first on her hands, then her elbows, then her shoulders, then finally her head...crying her "woe is me!" cry the whole way down.  But she's smart enough to know that it would hurt if she threw her fit any other way.  We can get her smiling soon enough, but it's pretty dramatic in the moment.

Big Girl Potty
We are teaching Ella baby signs, so when I bring her in the restroom with me, I often show her the sign for potty.  It's not that we're trying to potty train her at 13 months, but rather, I'm just simply telling her what I'm doing throughout the day.  A couple months ago, I was pleasantly surprised on a trip to the restroom when I hadn't made the sign, that she looked right up at me and did the sign herself.  The next morning, while I was nursing her, she farted...and made the sign for potty!  The morning after that, while my husband was still in bed, he farted...and sure enough, she looked up at me and made the sign for potty.  Sounds cute, right?  Well, fast-forward a couple of hours to the end of the evening when I was putting her in the bath, and sat down to use the facilities myself.  In doing so, I showed her the sign for potty--meaning that mommy was using the big girl potty.  And what would you know--she stood right up and peed as well.

Okay...that's probably enough little Ella-isms for now.  I hope to share more in time--especially when she really starts talking.

Today's blessing was working with my husband during Ella's nap to finish one side of our rock wall in our back yard.  My parents started the project when they were here for Ella's birth (her actual birth--not her birthday, so it's been a year in the progress.  We still have a long ways to go before it's truly "toddler friendly", but it's coming along, slowly but surely.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sick Child Program

Ella got quiet on the way in to work yesterday.  Somehow I just knew that something wasn't quite right.  Sure enough, before I even left her daycare, she threw up all over the place.

Of all days on which to get sick, yesterday actually wasn't all that bad.  Her timing has definitely improved since the first day of the academic year.  I had a miss-able meeting in the morning, and only four appointments in the afternoon--three of which could be seen during our on-call hours.  So I brought her to my office (where she puked again in the parking lot), packed up my laptop, and headed home.  After another round of vomit, I knew that daycare wouldn't want me to bring her in today, and since my husband had a day full of meetings scheduled today, I started looking for other options.

I remembered chatting with one of our instructors at the beginning of the year after I went home with Ella on the first day of classes, and she had shared with me that our University offers a "Sick Child Program", where they will pay for a nanny to come to our home and care for Ella when she is sick and can't go to daycare.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  But sure enough, I started looking into it, and yes--our University will pay $21 per hour, and we pay a $2 co-pay, for a finger-printed, background-screened, references-checked, CPR-certified nanny to come to our home up to twenty days out of the academic year to care for Ella when she is sick and I need to be at work.

It was quick and easy to register for the program, and the nanny showed up this morning as scheduled, and seems to be great so far.  I just chatted with her a few minutes ago (during my lunch break), and she assured me that aside from Ella not having much of an appetite (of which we were aware last night when she preferred to throw her food on the ground), she seems to be just fine.  

I know that I've complained about how our benefits cut out any infertility consultations or treatments of any kind (and I do still think that this is very unfortunate), but I am very impressed with the Sick Child Program service.  It really is a blessing to be able to work for an institution that values my contributions and helps me care for my family.  (And I promise that I'm blogging on my lunch break...not while I'm supposed to be working.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Delays and Denials

Every morning on my way in to drop Ella off a daycare, I pass a church with one of those changeable signs out front.  They change the message about every other week or so.  Sometimes they are reminders about events, and sometimes they have little play-on-words messages. 

I typically just drive by without giving the message too much of a second thought, but this week's sign read:

"God's delays are not always God's denials"

This time, the message really resonated with me, because I have totally experienced this truth in my life.  We started trying to build our family in July 2007 (and by "we", I mean my husband said we could take it easy and see what happened...and I interpreted that to be a green light, and left him in the dust...which I found doesn't really work when you're trying to get pregnant).  It was more than three years of waiting--including three losses--until we met Ella.  But in that "delay" time, I grew and changed and developed into the person I am now.

As we look ahead to trying to bring Ella a brother or sister, I need to keep this little message in my head and in my heart.  I need to not rush things.  I need to not get discouraged.  I need to not resent the time that I have now.  I need to find a way to embrace the delay.

Today's blessing is the chance to go to the homecoming football game with my husband and Ella, and see a lot of my former students as well.  We have season tickets, but all of the games have been in the evenings, so my husband has been going with his friends and I've been staying home with Ella.  Now that the weather is finally a bit cooler (and our team has totally fallen off any sort of radar so no one wants to air our games on tv), they scheduled an afternoon game, so Ella will be able to enjoy her first football game.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


My husband and I spent Saturday going through our closets and the garage and purged a lot of stuff that could be either donated, trashed, or recycled.  I ended up working on our guest bedroom/multipurpose room, where my husband leaves his Army stuff and I leave my random assortment of craft supplies (and no, I'm not really all that crafty, especially compared to some of the projects that I've seen from other bloggers).  I stumbled upon a pile of sympathy cards that I received from friends and family after our first loss, back in September 2008.

I don't know how I felt.  I was a little sad, a little appreciative, a little nostalgic, a little grateful.  So much has changed in the three years since that first loss.  I'm not the same person that I was when I first received those cards.  Having Ella changed my life; but going through the experience of losing three pregnancies also changed my life--both for the better, I believe.

And so I fingered through the cards, rejoicing for the people that God put in my life who helped me along my journey at a time when I needed them the most, but didn't let myself go back to that dark place of loss and despair that I experienced back then.  I then placed them in a box with other items to be recycled, and tossed them into the recycling bin.

I don't need to keep the cards, do I?  I am so appreciative of those people who came alongside me to encourage me and pray for me, but I don't have to physically hold onto something that my heart is emotionally healing from, do I?  It's okay to remember and reflect, and yet move forward, isn't it?

It's not that I'm trying to rid myself of any reminders of those losses.  I will always remember, and they will always be a part of who I am.  But I think it's okay to...let go.  I think it's okay to be happy for what I have now, while remembering that there was a time when I was so unbearably sad.  (Gosh, even just writing this brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat).  But at this point, those emotional scars are exactly that--just scars.  They aren't open wounds that hurt day after day...they're just remnants and reminders of a pain I endured.  But I did endure, and I don't hurt now the way I did then.  The cards served their purpose--they helped me heal. 

Loss sucks.  Loss hurts.  Loss breaks you down and changes your life.  But life after loss can still be beautiful.

Enjoying a cupcake at Silas' birthday party.
My blessing today is the chance to spend the afternoon with my very-dear friend and her son, Silas.  They are back from Florida for the week to celebrate his first birthday party with his grandparents and friends, and it's been so wonderful to catch up with them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh Happy Day

Nearly exactly one year to the day from when I started pumping, I brought my pump home from work.  I haven't used it--at work or at home--for about two weeks now.  We're down to just two feedings--one in the morning when she wakes up, and one at night before she goes to sleep.

I seem to be maintaining enough of a supply so far, though I can tell that it is indeed dwindling--as it should.  My plan is to cut out the morning feeding over Thanksgiving when my husband can wake up with her each day and offer her a sippy-cup of milk in place of the breast (he has agreed, but I know that he'd rather sleep in).  Assuming that I can keep my supply on just one feeding, I would then nurse her through the holidays in Montana, and then try to eliminate that bedtime feeding once we're home and back into a routine. 

I confess that I did very little to work out during this year while I have been nursing, but I know that this "nursing diet"--in which Ella sucks everything right out of me--is going to have to change soon.  I've started doing my push-ups and crunches each morning again, and I plan to start my yoga in the mornings when we eliminate the morning feeding.  Until then, I'll continue to enjoy the holiday treats and let Ella "help" me keep my figure.  That all being said, I firmly believe that my healthy diet and exercise played a big part in helping me conceive and carry her to term, and once I get a cycle back, I'll "be good" again.  But until then, I feel that not having a cycle (due to nursing) gives me a free pass for now.

I'm sorry that I haven't posted much lately.  I've been busy busy busy at work and at home with Ella.  I've also been battling a little cold for the last week, so I've been trying to get as much sleep as possible.  But we're doing well, and I think of you all often.

Today's blessing was the chance to take an early lunch break and hang out with Ella.  It's been a change to only visit her once a week at daycare after spending nearly every lunch break with her.  I definitely look forward to these lunch dates with her, and I recognize that I'm blessed to have a job that is flexible enough to allow me to have this time with her.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shifting and Transitioning

Last week, I expressed my concerns about how Ella was held back from transitioning to the one-year-old room at her daycare because she wasn't quite walking.  The next morning during my morning nursing/breakfast/prayer journal multi-tasking, I shifted my prayer from:

Dear God, please help Ella walk soon.


Lord, help her as she tries to walk.  Make her courageous, so that she can confidently set out and walk.  Make her adventurous, so that she can desire to explore new things.  Make her coordinated, so she can put all the moves together.  Make her trusting, so that she can come to those who offer assistance.  Give her persistence, so she can continue to try. 

And wouldn't you know it--God is amazing, and sometimes so quick to answer our prayers!  Not even an hour later, she stood right up at daycare and took a couple good steps to the daycare worker while I was getting ready to walk out the door.  All of those things I had prayed for--courage, adventure, coordination, trust, persistence--they all came together so beautifully that morning.

And they continue to emerge as Ella becomes more and more comfortable with walking.  That was Friday, October 7th, and she started transitioning to the one-year-old room on Monday, October 10th, and spent the last three days exclusively in her new room.  She seems to really like her new room and new teachers, and seems to be transitioning to eating at the table and sleeping on the cots just fine.  Her preferred mode of transportation is still crawling if she wants to get somewhere quickly, but she's standing up and walking on her own accord more and more.

I'm struggling to put together the right words, but shifting the focus of my prayer for her walking was one of those "ah ha" kind of moments for me.  I had to look at myself and think:  "why exactly do I want her to walk?"  I think my urgency had more to do with my own timelines and competitive nature, rather than a genuine desire to see my daughter truly grow and develop on her own, the way God designed for her.  When I reexamined myself and put my pettiness aside, I realize that I truly wanted those things--courage, adventure, coordinator, trust, and persistence--for her, not for me.  Sure enough--God delivered.

Yesterday's blessing came in the form of two guys who flagged me down when I drove away with my wallet on my car.  Not only did they honk to get my attention, but they picked up everything that had fallen out of my wallet when it did indeed fall off my car into the middle of the street.  I'm so appreciative that God sent them to help me.  I wish that there was more that I could do for them, other than just saying a heartfelt "Thank you".  I pray that God bless them for how they blessed me. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I love birthdays.  I always have, and hopefully always will.  My family--especially my grandma--always made me feel special on my birthday, without going overboard.  I want the same for Ella.  I want her embrace growing up, and I want her to know that she is so loved--not just on her birthday, but on every day of the year.

I wouldn't say we went overboard by any means, but we definitely celebrated this first year of Ella's life.

It started a couple of weeks ago with her baptism, and since my parents and my mother-in-law were in town, we had her party that day as well.

One of my students made the cupcakes for the party...

...and my mother-in-law made Ella's cake.
Modeling the new tutu that her dance-teaching aunt sent her.
Sampling her cake.
As you can see from the cake picture...she liked it, but wasn't very enthusiastic about it.  I had to show her that it was okay to eat it.  She ate a few bites and got just messy enough to give us a couple of the requisite pictures.

The next weekend, we helped celebrating the birthday of the little girl at Ella's daycare who is three days older than Ella. This time, it was the other birthday girl's turn to play with the big cake, and Ella got a cupcake...and she definitely knew what to do with it!
Remnants of Ella's cupcake at Madelyn's party.

Since Ella and Madelyn are just days apart (and are favorites of the main daycare provider), they brought in a cake with their picture on it to daycare on one of the days between the two birthdays.
Ella and Madelyn checking out their cake while we sing.

Trying a bit of the frosting...and not quite knowing what to think.

My husband was traveling on Ella's actual birthday, so I left work a few minutes early, and brought her out to a special dinner, just her and me.  We then picked up a cupcake from a special cupcake place near campus and headed home.
Cupcake before...

 Cupcake during...
Cupcake after!
Each celebration was wonderful in their own way, but there was something just so special about spending the evening alone with Ella on her actual birthday.  I pray that I'm always able to spend some quality time--just me and her--on or around her birthday each year to come.  She is so amazing, and I praise God for her every day.

Today's blessing is the chance to go to the zoo with Madelyn and her mom--who is quickly becoming a good friend.  This will be Ella's first trip to the zoo, so I'm excited for all that she will get to see today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Held Back

Ella turned one on Friday (I promise pictures are coming soon), and--in theory--she should have moved over from the infant room to the one-year-old room at her daycare on Monday. But the policy is that the kids can't start in the one-year-old room until they are walking...which Ella is not.

I know that babies walk on their own schedule. I know there is nothing wring. I know that it's not a reflection of me. But yet I can't help but feel that I'm somehow to blame for her being held back.

Ella has great balance, and will stand unassisted for long stretches. She will also cruise along the couch and from one piece of furniture to the next. She'll even take a few little steps on her own if she feels like it. But she is definitely not a consistent walker. Her pediatrician assured me that her legs and feet look fine, and that it will just be a matter of time before Ella truly walks for herself.

I get it--I really do. I know babies develop differently, and Ella is really shining in other areas (like signing).  I'm really trying hard to find the right balance between encouraging her without pushing her.  I just want her to develop the balance, coordination, and confidence that she needs to truly take these next steps, but I need to let her do it at her own pace.

My husband thinks that maybe she's stubborn like him, or a perfectionist like me.  When it came time for me to get my license,  I was disappointed that my parents hadn't brought me out on the country roads to let me practice driving when I was 14 so that I would have known what I was doing by the time I turned 16.  Maybe Ella is feeling the same way.  I'm trying to follow her lead, but I also feel like maybe I should be doing more to encourage walking.  It's a delicate line to walk...figuratively.

Last night's blessing was coming home to an empty dishwasher.  I had to work late, but I was thrilled to come home and see that my husband had unloaded the dishwasher for me.  Sometimes it's the littlest things in life that make my day, and having him step up to help with the chores is so big for me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My Favorite Day of the Year

Today is Ella's birthday.  It's just another day for nearly everyone else in the world, but it is so significant to me.  My life changed and became so much fuller on September 30th, 2010. 

I want to share more from our various birthday celebrations, but I'm swamped preparing for a big event tomorrow.  I promise I'll share more--including birthday cake pictures--soon.

I'm so incredibly blessed to be able to experience the joy of being a mom to my beautiful baby girl. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The End Is In Sight

The end of nursing, or at least pumping, that is.  Ella turns one on Friday (I still can't believe it!), at which point I will start to wean her, slowly but surely.

I have to say--I'm pretty proud of myself for going the whole year.  I remember six months ago when I was trying so hard to get to the six month mark of exclusively breastfeeding before starting solids.  I was getting up in the middle of the night--even after Ella started sleeping through the night--to pump so that I would be able to keep up both my internal and external supply.  Sometime over the summer, I realized that I had more milk in my freezer than food, so I let myself cut out the late-night pumping, but I was still pumping double-time at work (twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon, and fed her directly at lunch). 

Last week, I was down to about ten bags of milk in the freezer, and I started pumping just once in the morning and once in the afternoon at work, while still feeding her during my lunch break.  Her one-year appointment is on Monday, at which point I'll talk to her pediatrician about introducing milk.  My plan is to mix her sippy cups with half-breastmilk/half-milk until she totally transitions to milk.  At that point, I'll stop nursing her at lunch...then stop nursing first-thing in the morning...then cut out her bedtime nursing. 

I admit--I'm thrilled at the thought of no longer being hooked up to a pump.  At this point, it's become so routine that I no longer hate pumping the way I did at the beginning.  But I know that I'm really, really, really going to miss the nursing time.  I love my special time with her.  I really do.  I'm not going to "rush" her, but I now that the end of her reliance on me for this kind of nourishment is coming soon.

Today's blessing is seeing new life in a little plan at work.  I know this sounds totally corny, but there was a plant in our lobby at work that was dying over the summer.  I re-potted it a couple months ago now, and it now has three new leaves.  I love walking by it every day and seeing it continue to grow.  I know it sounds crazy, but it gives me hope.  Sometimes it's just the little things in life, right?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ella's Baptism

Ella was baptized on Sunday, and my parents and my mother-in-law were here to celebrate with us.  It was a very special moment for our whole family.  Ella did great, and the congregation got a good chuckle as she tried to pull apart the petals of the corsage they had given me.  Our pastor was wonderful--I'm sure he's always good in each baptism, but he and his wife also lost three babies before having their boys (now 6 and 9), so I know that he he knows just what a blessing it is to be able to pledge to raise a child to love Christ.

Since the grandparents were in town, we celebrated Ella's birthday party two weeks early, but I'll share more on that at a later time.  It was a wonderful blessing to have my parents here for a couple of days.  Ella adores her grandparents, and kept giving hugs and kisses as they were packing up and getting ready to leave.  My parents were a tremendous help, and I'm so blessed that they will drive through the night to see us.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Gonna Be a Long Day

You know it's gonna be a long day when you have poop on your shirt before you even get to work.

Unbeknownst to me, Ella was apparently working on a huge "surprise" for me this morning on the way in to daycare.  When we arrived, I got her out of her carseat and put her on my hip, just like I normally do.  As we were signing in, I smelled something a little funny, so figured that I would need to change her when we got into her room.

Little did I know that I would need a change as well.  Sure enough, I had her pool all over my hip.  Luckily, I'm wearing a black shirt today, so I could hide the evidence pretty well.  I got her cleaned up and into a new outfit, checked with another mom that I was clean, and headed to work.

When I got to work, I checked my email quickly before heading to the restroom--where I discovered more poop on my skirt!  And if there were poop on my skirt...that meant there was probably poop on my chair...and on the seat in the car.  They were both surprisingly clean, so I couldn't figure out where the mysterious poop was coming from, until I opened up the back car door and noticed a chunk in the door jam.  It must have fallen off of her when I picked her up, and I then must have brushed up against it as I was trying to clean her carseat.

I *think* (and hope and pray!) that I'm all cleaned up now...but I feel like I can still smell it somewhere here in my office.  What a beautiful way to start a morning, huh?  Actually, goopy poop aside, starting my day with Ella is indeed a beautiful way to start a morning. 

Today's blessing is knowing that  my parents are hitting the road tonight to visit.  We have Ella's baptism and birthday party on Sunday, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Heroic Daddy

My husband has totally redeemed himself from the pajama-mishap from the previous night. 

Like I mentioned yesterday, I had to work late again last night, so I got home right around 7:30 pm.  When I walked through the garage door, I could see that my husband and Ella were snuggled on the couch, but she was awake, and immediately did the sign for "Mommy" when I walked in the door, which totally warmed my heart.  But that joy quickly turned to panic when I saw a snake slithering towards them!

It was small, and I'd like to think that it was harmless (because the thought of having a harmful snake in my house freaks me out even more), but I really don't know what kind it was.  My husband initially couldn't see the snake from where he was sitting with Ella, so he handed her to me, and and got the broom and dustpan from the garage.  He pinned the snake to the carpet--but then didn't know what to do next.  He joked that he might just have to stay there all night in that position, but eventually asked for the needle-nosed pliers, and broke the snake's neck (do snakes have necks?). 

We put it in a zip-lock bag for closer inspection.  Around this time, my dad happened to call, and mentioned that venomous snakes typically have a pointy head so that they can unhinge their jaw.  I admit that I haven't looked very closely at many snakes, so I don't have many comparisons, but it sure seemed to have a pointy head, and it seemed like it's jaw was unhinged (on it's last, dying breath).  We couldn't detect any fangs through the plastic bag, and we definitely did not see a rattle, but perhaps it was a different type of poisonous snake, or maybe it was just too little to develop a rattle.  Either way, I'm completely freaked out that we had a snake in our house.  I just feel so vulnerable.

I recognize that we live in the desert, and that snakes are part of the terrain.  After almost stepping on a snake on our front porch a couple of years ago, I'm always so extremely careful to always look outside before I go out.  But I never thought that we would ever have to worry about them getting into our house!  I think it came through our front door.  We've known all along that there was a little gap, but perhaps it's gotten bigger than we realized as the house has settled.  Needless to say, my husband has planned a trip to the hardware store this weekend to fix the gap (and we have a dishrag stuffed under there for now).  I admit that now I'm worried that perhaps another snake got into the house when we didn't know it, and it is now chilling in a closet somewhere, getting bigger and bigger.  Ugh...I don't want to think about it.  (Please pray that we don't have any snakes living in our house!)

And I don't want to think about what could have happened if Ella had been playing on the ground and had reached for it!  That just freaks me out!  And it makes me sad that we will have to raise her to be cautious when she is playing outside as she grows up (as long as we live here in Arizona).  I want her to be adventurous, but I also want her to be safe.  How do you teach a curious child to explore the desert when you're worried that they might reach for something that is potentially life-threatening?

What a blessing to have worked late, and to come home at a time when I would see the snake.  On any other day, I would have been cleaning up dinner or giving Ella a bath or chasing her around on hands-and-knees.  Praise God that He put me in a position to notice the snake before it could do any harm. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Silly Daddy

I was scheduled to work late last night, but ended up working even later than expected.  Our original plan was that my husband would feed her dinner and give her a bath, and I would be home in time to nurse her and put her to bed.  But when we ran into "technical difficulties" at work, my husband defrosted some milk, fed her a bottle, and put her to bed. 

It broke my heart to not get some snuggle time with her, but that quickly turned to laughter.  Before I had left the house yesterday morning, I had pulled out a diaper and her pajamas and laid them on the chair in our living room, where we always get her dressed after her bath.  When I noticed them still laying there, I asked him what pajamas she was wearing--knowing full well that all the other sets were in the laundry hamper.  His response:  "Oh...I guess I forgot them".  Silly Daddy!  Sure enough, she was zonked out in her crib, sporting just a diaper, with a blanket draped over her.  But she slept great, all through the night--so who needs pajamas anyway?  I have to work late again tonight, but I'm hoping that we don't run into the same problems again, so I should be able to make it home in time to nurse her and make sure that she's properly clothed before she goes down.

Today's blessing is recognizing that although it was sad to have Ella fall asleep before I get home, I have to recognize that this is the very first night that I have had to work this late in nearly a year.  Although I work full-time and miss out on eight hours of her day, everyday, I really am blessed to work in a position where I can spend quality time with her each evening.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

At This Time Last Year...

At this time last year, I was washing the tiniest newborn apparel, and wondering how anything could ever be that small.  Now, I'm starting to buy 18-month items and wondering how my baby got to be so big!

At this time last year, I was rejoicing at every little kick her little feet gave me from the inside, and marveling at how I could actually see limbs moving across my belly.  Now, I'm rejoicing with her every time she plants her little feet on the ground and stands up by herself, unassisted, and marvel at how her balance is getting better and better each day.

At this time last year, I was eating just about everything in sight, taking advantage of the "eating for two" excuse for a return-trip to the desert bar at the buffet.  Now, she must be in some sort of growth spurt, because she is eating absolutely everything within reach, and signing "more" and "eat" and "milk" in between meals.

At this time last year, I was feeling as beautiful as I have ever felt in my entire life, radiating "the glow", but also knowing that God was doing something beautiful inside me too.  Now, I just look at her and am amazed that someone so precious and beautiful is somehow a reflection of me.

At this time last year, I was planning for a big day, coordinating with my parents and my in-laws how we would celebrate her arrival.  Now, I'm planning for a baptism and first-year birthday party, still trying to figure out how we are going to balance two sets of grandparents in one house.

At this time last year, I was thinking "I'm going to have a baby this month!".  Now, I'm still in shock that I can say "I'm going to have a one-year old at the end of the month!".

Ella's birthday isn't until the 30th, but wow--what a year it has been!  More on her upcoming baptism and (early) birthday party in the days to come.

Today's blessing is knowing that we have tomorrow off.  Granted, I'm planning on spending the whole day working on various chores around the house, but it will still be nice to be able to spend the day at home with my husband and Ella.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

So to follow up on yesterday's post...I'm guessing that I'm not pregnant.  But notice that I say "guessing", because I'm still not convinced of the validity of the tests.  But the question is--which test is wrong?

This morning's re-re-test looked like yesterday's--in the sense that it was both negative and the control/test-line didn't emerge (and trust me, I know how to properly take a pregnancy test--so there was no user-error on my part).  I'm thinking that perhaps this was a bad batch of tests--perhaps Tuesday's positive test had too much dye (if such a thing is possible), or these last two didn't have enough.

With two out of three negative tests, and the fact that Tuesday's test was initially negative before somehow mysteriously turning positive, I'm guessing that I'm not actually pregnant.  I didn't think that a "false positive" was possible--I thought that there must be some HCG in the urine to make that line emerge--but maybe they do exist.  I'm not going to point fingers or name names, but let's just say that a certain brand that suggests "clarity" and a "color of the rainbow" was at fault.

I'll admit that I'm a little disappointed, but I'm still feeling a reassuring sense of peace that I know can only come from God.  I have been abundantly blessed with Ella.  I would love the chance to bless her with a brother or sister, but she's more amazing than I could imagine, and if she is the only child I ever get to welcome into this world, God is still so good in blessing me with her.

Yesterday's blessing was seeing a great lightning show on my way home from work.  It really was beautiful, and it was so great to watch it after a long day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Think God is Picking on Me

I'm still breastfeeding Ella, and still haven't had a new cycle, so really don't know if I am indeed ovulating.  So every once in a while, I take a cheap pregnancy test, just to check.  We're not actively trying again, but I would be absolutely thrilled to be pregnant, if that's what God has in store for us.  So I wasn't too horribly disappointed yesterday when it turned out negative.  I tossed it in the trash, and didn't think much of it.

Until 2:00 this morning when I woke up feeling nauseous.  For grins and giggles, I reached into the trash, just to check again, just in case.  Somewhere in the last 19 hours, a vertical line had emerged, turning the "-" into a "+".  What?!  Figuring that perhaps it was just an evaporation line or something, I resolved to wait until the morning to try again.  Well this morning, it was negative again...but that little "control indicator" that is supposed to show that the test was properly completed didn't change.  What?!

So like I said, I think God is picking on me.

I know He's not really picking on me, or testing me, or torturing me.  I have a surprising sense of peace, and I trust His plan for our lives.  I would be absolutely thrilled to be pregnant again, but I also don't want to get ahead of myself.  With two mysterious test results, I'm thinking that it could be a bad batch of tests.  I've got two more from the same box, so I might as well give one a try tomorrow and see what happens.  I'll keep you posted.

My blessing today was my husband's sincere "woohoo!" reaction at the possibility of a new pregnancy.  He fully understands that the two tests were conflicting and perhaps ridden with errors in one way or another, but it's still nice to know that he would be excited to start this adventure all over again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Unfortunate Timing

Today was the first day of classes.  Kind of a big deal in my line of work.  Which is why it was rather unfortunate that Ella's daycare called me not even ten minutes after I walked into my office to tell me that Ella had thrown up three times in the twenty minutes since I had dropped her off. 

I don't know what happened--she was totally fine when I had left her!  Okay--maybe not "totally fine"--she had a bit of a cold over the weekend, but she definitely wasn't acting "sick".  But she did not look good when I picked her up.  She was zoning out, and her coloring just wasn't right.  I called my supervisor as we got back in the car to tell her that I was bringing Ella in to the doctor.  I can't blame her for sounding less than thrilled that her "#2" wouldn't be there for the amount of traffic that we were expecting to see, but she has two girls of her own, so she gets it.  I then called Ella's pediatrician office as I headed that direction and got the "thank you for holding--we'll get to you as soon as we can" automated response.  I was still hearing that repeating message as I pulled into the parking lot, at which time I just hung up and headed into the office.  Praise God--someone called to cancel their 9:00 am appointment, so they were able to see us.  Ella threw up a couple more times while we were there, and it seemed like it was mostly mucus--perhaps from her cold.  They think it's just a lingering virus.  She seemed to perk up a bit when the doctors and nurses came in, but she didn't want to nurse, and didn't want her bottle, and didn't want the Pedialyte they offered her.  That's when I started to get a little nervous.

She threw up again in the car, and then fell asleep.  I dropped by my office to confer with my supervisor, and decided it would be best for me to just bring her home, despite the unfortunate timing.  She slept in her carseat for another hour or so, which gave me time to get some work done.  When she finally woke up, she practically jumped out of my arms when I offered her the Pedialyte for a second time.  She downed it, and nursed, and took some water as well.  She's been happy ever since (except for when I attacked her boogers with the nasal aspirator), but my husband will stay home with her tomorrow just to be sure that she is feeling better.

I oscillate between thinking "she's tough--she'll be fine" and "crap--I'm a bad mom".  I know I'm not a bad mom--I know that bringing her home with me was the right thing to do.  But it's just so hard to see my baby looking so sad and sick.  I can't help but wonder if there is more that I could have been doing to prevent it in the first place.

Today's blessing was the appointment cancellation so that the pediatrician could see Ella when I just showed up without calling (or at least without speaking with someone over the phone).  We live 30 minutes away, so it would have been hard to go home, then come back, just to turn around and go home again, so I'm so glad that they were able to see us.  And it's a blessing to see Ella smiling and laughing and being happy again after seeing her so sad earlier today.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kauai Vacation Pictures

 I wanted to share some of our vacation pictures:

My amazing sister-in-law and my new niece, Brooke, on one of our early morning walks (while the daddies slept in).
I had such an amazing time hanging out and exploring with my brothers. 
My husband and me in front of one of many waterfalls we saw on our trip.
Exploring the many tide-pools at Queen's Bath.
Ella loved playing in the sand...she didn't enjoy the waves as much.
Horseback riding on our "Ride and Glide" adventure.
Ziplining on our "Ride and Glide" adventure.
Beautiful cardinals right off our lanai.
Ella loved the birds.  She kept doing a sign for them...granted, it was the sign for "dog", but hey--at least she recognized that they were some sort of animal!
My husband and me on our Na Pali Coast Sunset Cruise.
I love this man.
Na Pali Coast.

Sunset.  (I admit that I had a half of a half of a glass of champagne at sunset...then hand-expressed into the sink since I hadn't brought my pump).
Bird of Paradise.  My husband and I have determined that he can be in charge of the scenery pictures, and I'll be in charge of the portrait photos.

Cliffs near our timeshare (we hiked down to the water...without the babies, of course).

Another waterfall.

Spouting Horn.

My husband had fun playing around with the manual focus on his fancy camera.

Waimea Canyon (gorgeous...but not nearly as impressive as our Grand Canyon).

Beautiful blue Hydrangeas (my favorite flower--and used in my bridal bouquet) at Kalalau Lookout).

Na Pali Coast from Kalalau Lookout.
I have other great pictures...but for whatever reason, Blogger is changing all of my portraits to landscape.  Oh well.  You still get the idea of the beauty of the island.

It was such a blessing to spend time with my family, and to have my parents watch Ella so that we could go on our various adventures.  Vacationing with a baby is a totally different experience!  I'm glad that they were so willing to hold her or stay back at the timeshare with her when we went out on our longer excursions.