"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28/08 ----- Looking Back

Dear Jaden,
You are three years old today. You are long past the baby stage, outgrown the toddler stage and seem to have entered the preschool stage quite a while ago already. You are now not only our son, our little boy -- but you are our friend. You are a friend of other little preschoolers. You are a protective big brother. You are your daddy's little buddy - his little side-kick. He is already buying you hunting supplies - stocking up on things he will need for your first hunting trip together. He is watching you grow with great excitement. I am watching you grow with excitement as well - but also with sadness. It's going too fast. I'm watching you grow with fear. I want to be the best mom I can be to raise you to be the best man you can be - the best husband, the best friend, the best daddy. Someday. I am watching you grow with pride. You are so smart - so funny - so full of life - so sensitive and loving. I am watching you grow with thankfulness. God was great to us when He gave us you. For a few weeks now I have been reflecting on how our lives were three years ago as we anxiously awaited meeting you.

Pregnancy with you was wonderful. I remember being told by people that I had the stereotypical pregnancy glow. I remember learning about God's sense of humor. How funny of Him to make me endure two shots to my tummy every day for nine months -- me, the girl who fainted in the student health clinic after getting a shot before I got pregnant. The girl who went years without piercing her ears because needles and blood made me that squeamish. I remember my first glimpse of you in my tummy -- and the immediate tears that came from that picture. I remember the horrible morning sickness and having to hide it at work before we were telling people that you were coming. I remember your Nana Nancy having to bring me crackers to work just so that I could make it through the morning. I remember the popcorn machine at work -- and how by the second semester of my pregnancy, I couldn't go near it because the smell made me dizzy with nausea. I remember how excited I got on days of doctor's appointments. I remember how happy it made me to feel you move around in my tummy. I remember my tummy got huge. I remember standing in Walmart with your daddy and noticing two strangers staring at me. I remember that eventually one of those strangers walked over to me and said, "I really hope you're due to have that baby soon! You look so uncomfortable!" I remember telling her - "Nope, I have a month to go." I remember that we had an "employee of the month" parking space at work and that for the last three months of my pregnancy, each person who was honored with the employee of the month space gave up that parking space so that I could use it and have an easier time getting to and from my car. I remember every guy I worked with taking great care of me during the day - constant questions of, "Is your chair comfortable enough? Do you need a bottle of water? etc." I remember going out to my car at night after snow season had started and seeing the guys cleaning off my car for me -- without me even asking. I remember your daddy's eyes when he saw you kick for the first time - he was sitting across the room from me, and you kicked so hard that his eyes about popped out of his head when he saw my tummy move from the impact. I think that made it real for him -- really real for the first time. I remember being an emotional wreck every morning when your daddy would leave for work before me. I just hated being away from him. We were newly engaged, and my pregnancy hormones were monsters.




The day you were born. We had planned an induction. The night before, I slept like a baby. God was preparing me for not sleeping at all for the next five to six weeks! I remember waking up and feeling surprisingly calm. To this day I still can't believe how calm I was heading into child birth. Again -- this is the girl who is beyond squeamish about all things blood, needle, pain related. I remember my biggest fear being getting the IV in my hand and the epidural. I remember I hadn't really felt a contraction yet at all, and I was prepared for a very long and drawn out labor. I remember arriving at the hospital at 7:30 a.m., getting hooked up to the machines and having the nurse tell me, "You're having contractions three minutes apart. You don't feel those?" Nope - I didn't feel a single one. I remember getting the dreaded IV, holding your daddy's hand and being relieved when it was over and it wasn't all that bad. I remember the Pitocin they gave me - the drug that was supposed to induce labor. I remember the doctor telling me I was still only 2 cm dilated and feeling somewhat disappointed that this might really take a long time. I remember them inserting the "balloon" to help me dilate faster, and the constant reminders that this could take a long time. I remember how quickly I progressed after the "balloon" was inserted. I remember when the contractions started, and I remember that they really weren't that painful - just uncomfortable. I remember how amazed the nurse was when I started dilating at a rapid speed, and her calling the doctor asking if it was okay to give me my epidural already. I remember bracing myself for the epidural - laying on the bed on my side with my back curved, my mom - your nana, staring at me asking me if I was okay. I remember I laughed when the epidural was over because I hadn't felt a single thing. I remember the instant relief at not feeling any contractions and that I got kind of giddy. I remember the nurses laughing at me - at how talkative and alert and full of energy I was. I remember saying, "This is easy!" I remember the doctor then coming to break my water... and then I remember a very looooong afternoon of waiting. I remember when the entire family was finally all there - just waiting - waiting to meet you.

I remember when the doctor sent the family out into the hall to check my dilation at around 6:15 that night, and I remember the immediate fear I felt when the doctor looked up at me and said - "Lets start pushing." This was the first moment all day that I actually felt some panic - almost 12 hours into the actual labor. I remember thinking how mean it was to have a clock hanging above the bed of a woman pushing a baby out. I knew - every minute that ticked off the clock - I knew. I remember how amazingly supportive and calm your daddy was - he watched what was going on - he helped hold me up when I had to sit halfway up while I pushed - he rubbed my legs as they cramped up. I remember being so physically exhausted during that hour of pushing and not being able to figure out why. I couldn't understand why I was so tired when the day had been so easy and had held very little pain. It dawned on me later that although I couldn't feel what was going with my body all day due to the epidural, my body had still been working hard trying to get you out of me! I remember the very last contraction and the very last push. I remember the doctor yelling, "COME ON NICOLE!!! He's almost here!!!" I remember hearing your very first cry at 7:14 p.m. and my immediate tears. I remember the immediate fear as they rushed you away to the warmer bed because they were concerned about your breathing, and I remember your daddy yelling at them - "Tell us what's going on!" The bed rail was up on both sides of my bed so I couldn't even see you, and your daddy yelled at them, "Put her rails down - she can't even see the baby!" I remember the doctor stitching me up and trying to keep me calm by telling me that you were going to be okay.

And I remember the relief when they determined you were just fine and laid you on my chest for the first time. I remember saying, "Hi Jaden. I'm your mommy." And you looked at me with those big eyes -- so alert - licking your lips. Constantly licking your cute little lips with your cute little tongue. I remember the family coming in a few moments later and your cousin Ella singing, "Happy birthday" over and over again. I also remember Ella saying, "That's a boy! That's a boy!" I remember trying to sleep that very first night and having absolutely no luck -- even when you and your daddy were sound asleep. I was wide awake.

I remember... I always will.  

And...

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

March 11

Cody and I took Brandon back to the U of I Hospitals yesterday to meet with the ENT for a second time. In case you are a new follower to the blog, Brandon has what they are now calling a "neck mass" 1 -2 cm. in size - on the front middle part of his neck. At our first visit last fall with the ENT he determined that it is just that... a mass with nothing underneath it or inside of it. I describe it like this - God stitched him together with a little extra love and a little extra "fabric." ;) But as he grows, it will continue to grow... and when he's a teenager/adult it will be very noticeable, and he probably won't like it so much. Plus -- there's no way to be completely sure that there's nothing else underneath it unless they remove it. So... that's what we're going to do. We also had the ENT look at his ears yesterday because Brandon has had so many ear infections. And when we were with the doctor yesterday, he actually saw fluid in his left ear again. So he wants us have tubes put in.

So... March 11 we are going back to the hospital to have both procedures done at the same time. They will first give him an oxygen mask to put him to sleep and then give him his IV to "knock him out" after he's already sleeping. That way he won't feel the IV. They think the whole procedure - tubes and neck - will take about an hour total. Brandon will be put on antibiotics immediately following surgery to prevent infection due to the neck procedure and having to get stitches. Then one week later, we will have to go BACK to the U of I again to have the stitches removed from his neck.

I'm okay with the tubes... I want whatever has to be done to make him feel better, and I know how common tubes are. And you can tell that even when he isn't in pain, he does have some fluid bothering him in his ears because he is constantly batting at his ears... especially his left one. He has tons of tiny little scratch marks from his fingers behind that left ear.

I'm not so much looking forward to the neck procedure. The mass is super tiny, and I wouldn't think it would require more than one or two stitches... but he's my baby, and the thought of cutting him and stitching him and then having to remove the stitches... I hate it.

We won't know what time they are doing the surgery until the afternoon before... maybe not even until 8:00 the night before. They said they do the surgeries in order of the kids' ages with youngest going first. The first surgery starts at 5:30 in the morning. Even though that wouldn't be fun to have to leave in the middle of the night to get him there that early, I'm hoping it is at 5:30 because he won't be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. Life won't be fun with a hungry and tired baby while we wait for the surgery!

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Jaden's Birthday Week!

It's Jaden's birthday week!!! I keep telling him it's his birthday week, but I think I'm still more excited about it than he is. He just keeps telling me he wants to eat his cake. Funny though... here's a snippet of conversation we had yesterday at my parents'.

My mom (to Jaden): "You're silly, too!"
Jaden: "No, I'm THREE."

Ha... so he's not quite three yet, but apparently he thought my mom was telling him he was TWO and he's been convinced for a while that he's already three!

We have a busy week. Tomorrow Cody and I are taking off work and taking Brandon to Iowa City to discuss tubes with the ENT and to review once more the bump on his neck. They're either going to decide to do the out-patient procedure to remove that right away tomorrow... or we will schedule it when we are there tomorrow and go back to get it done at a later time. Part of me is wanting to get it over with tomorrow so we don't have to make another trip... part of me isn't ready for this. Even though it is supposed to be a minor procedure.

Wednesday night is the big Creighton/UNI basketball game. There is a huge rivalry between our two teams and lots riding on this game. It's an 8 p.m. tip time so the kids are staying home and sleeping with Cody while I attend the game solo. Probably a good thing the kids won't be with me... I might get a little rowdy at this one ;)

Jaden's birthday is Friday, and I am going to send cupcakes along with him to daycare... then unveil his present Friday night. My parents and Cody and I went in on a brand new Thomas train table for Jaden. We started buying him parts of a Thomas the train track for Christmas, but didn't have a good place to set it up. We found this brand new table on clearance at Toys R Us... I'm so excited for him to see it and have a place for us to actually expand on his train collection now. Whenever we go to Von Maur or Barnes and Noble, he LOVES to play with their train table and set that the stores have set up. He actually gets excited when we tell him we're going to the mall because that means he can play with the train. I'm happy he will now have one in his own home.

Saturday he starts "Kindergym" at the WRC on the UNI campus. This meets every Saturday until March...and as soon as this ends we start swimming lessons every Saturday  morning until the last weekend in April. He's going to be a busy and active little boy, and our Saturdays just got a bit busier, too!

Saturday afternoon we are throwing a pool party for his birthday... I rented the pool at the Wingate Hotel. We are just having some family and a couple of his best friends from daycare. I of course got him a Thomas the Train cake, and we are going to swim, snack and just hang out!

This morning I ordered the birthday supplies for Brandon's first birthday party. Seriously?? I can't believe he's going to be one in just five weeks!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brandon's First Attempt at "Walking"

Last night we were all playing in the basement. Brandon had received a couple of "push-toys" for Christmas but hadn't really paid much attention to them yet. We got one of them out last night, and all of the sudden... he was "walking" behind it while pushing it! It was the funniest thing. I went a little crazy and started shrieking (this in turn upset Jaden because all of us - my parents included - were giving Brandon LOADS of attention at this moment). But it really was cute to watch... he was so stiff-legged and didn't realize he could bend at the knees to make the walk a little easier ;) Eventually he started getting really frustrated, too. He would run out of room to push and we'd have to stop him and turn it around so he could walk the other way. Every time he got stopped or stuck... he would start throwing a tantrum!! We have never seen him throw tantrums unless it was because he was sick or just THAT hungry. After a few minutes we had to force him to stop trying to push it because he was getting SO mad at the toy and at himself whenever he fell or got stuck. We would try and pick him up and he would kick his legs and scream and CRY so loud! Cody and I think he's going to be super competitive! (I'm now laughing as I'm remembering this whole experience last night... it was quite the scene)! ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Parenthood"

Wow two blog entries in one day. Aren't you all lucky?? ;)

I have been watching the show "Parenthood" on NBC for about a year now. Cody has slowly gotten into it, and last night we watched it together thanks to having the DVR and recording it from Tuesday night. If you do not watch this show, I highly recommend. Tuesday nights at 9:00. NBC. In my opinion, it is not advertised or publicized or talked about enough. The acting is great - the story lines are real - there is humor, seriousness - it is a show about parenting and families, jobs and school - it's something I can actually relate to ;) The clothing the characters wear isn't glamorous, they don't look like they got made up by their own personal stylist every morning and it's not wishy-washy. Last night it sparked a great conversation between Cody and I. So great that as we were watching it, I kept having to hit the pause button as new comments would get made by one of us. We started talking about parenting down the road when our boys are teenagers. (Ugh. Thank God that's a ways away). Mainly we discussed how we would handle the "big" stuff. Like drinking in high school, bringing home girls we didn't approve of... Cody having the talk before they start dating. (I know I know I know -- it's a long ways away, but Jaden's starting preschool this year. That's a wake up call for me that my kids won't be babies for much longer!) :) We talked about whether or not we were in agreement on how to handle the big stuff. We both agree it's important that we are on the same page when it comes to dealing with these issues. The little issues - no, it's not that big of a deal that we always agree on those. But when it comes to the big stuff --- I certainly don't want to confuse my kids by having them hear one thing from me and something different from Cody. I'm happy to report that when it comes to the big stuff... we are in agreement. So far -- on everything. But this talk has reminded me of one verse from the Bible that I want to make very big part of the boys' lives as they get old enough to understand it. I might even print it on a big sheet of paper and frame it in each one of their bedrooms. It is this this:

1 Corinthians 15:33 - "Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character."

I was very lucky in high school. I surrounded myself with a lot of really good people - a lot of good friends. No, we didn't always make the wisest decisions, but the influence of my friends was overall a good one. That's what I want for my kids. They're going to mess up, but I want their overall experience as a teenager heading into the real world to be a good one. I want them to have a firm foundation of good character before they are out on their own. They're going to need that foundation beneath them as they enter college and adulthood.

And when they do mess up - Cody and I agree that we want to instill in them the knowledge and peace that they can come to us with anything. Anything. And we will be there.

Anyways -- Parenthood. Check it out. It's a good show :)

The Four Seasons

Other than this being Jaden's birth month, I hate the month of January - always have. My favorite few months of the year have passed... football season is over, the awesome temperatures and smells of fall are long gone, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas break... all of the holiday excitement and decorating and anticipation of the "first" snow fall... it's all done. And spring seems so. far. away. So... I've been a little cranky this week. It doesn't help that my husband has gotten to enjoy two days of drinking beers and eating food with his work buddies during "work hours." (His boss does this in the winter -- he'll have days where he just wants to hang out with the guys. He buys all of their food and drinks and their "work" for the day is spent at the Screaming Eagle in downtown Waterloo). So on top of my winter blues, I've been a tad bit jealous of my other half. Jaden's got a cold, Brandon had the starts of a snotty nose this morning, and I feel like I have nothing to look forward to but work, doctor's appointments and... more snow. This morning I even got mad at how hot my house was. I like to turn the thermostat down a degree or two at night so I'm not sweating under the covers when I wake up in the morning... well, I forgot to do that last night. As I was making my bed this morning and sweating after blow drying my hair, I almost threw a fit. Right there by myself in the middle of my bedroom while the rest of my family was still sleeping. I wanted to run to the bedroom window, open it up and yell at the top of my lungs that I was sick of having to run my thermostat!! I wanted fresh air, windows open and a steak on the grill to look forward to when I got home from work. I pouted so much that instead of doing my makeup in our bathroom, I took all of my makeup downstairs and sat in front of our basement mirror where it was cooler.

This girl needs spring. I want to be able to go on walks with my boys at night... something we all love to do. I want to take the boys to the park rather than spending another endless night in the basement playing with the same toys over and over again. I want to clean my deck furniture and actually USE it to eat on this year now that Jaden is a little older. I want to stand in our yard, watch the boys play and talk with Cody as he flips a steak on the grill and I sip on a corona. For the last three years, my summers have been spent pregnant, or nursing -- for the most part. (The one summer I wasn't pregnant or nursing, we lived in an apartment building and didn't have a back deck to sit on or a yard to play in).  I just want to drink a corona on my back deck! I'm throwing myself a giant pity party. My blog (and you readers) get to feel the brunt of it. My apologies.

But... I wouldn't ever give up my winters. Right before Christmas break one of my coworkers who lives down in Dallas sent out an email to the entire company. The email was a picture she took of the temperature reading in her car. 90 degrees. 90 degrees in the middle of December. I guess she wanted to rub it in. So... I decided to play along, grabbed my camera and ran outside my office building without even taking the time to put on my coat. I took a picture of the big empty field by our office -- all covered in snow along with the trees all covered in white. You couldn't see cars or buildings or anything else in the picture - all you could see was the look of a Winter Wonderland. I then sent that picture out to the entire company. Shortly after, one of my coworkers stationed in our Redondo Beach, California office sent me an email - "Nicole. Wow. I would LOVE to have a White Christmas. Christmas just isn't the same out here." And I was immediately grateful.

So. That is what I'm reminding myself of today. I am the girl that always says she never wants to live in a place with one season. I like to enjoy all the variety life has to offer. God made me a four-seasons kinda girl. So even though I'm sick of winter... beyond sick of winter. I am so grateful that I do have something to look forward to. The ushering in of another beautiful spring. Another change of season. I do love experiencing it all. And even though I wish fall and spring lasted a little longer and summer and winter were a little shorter... I'm still grateful.

Someone gave me a piece of advice last night - go spend a few minutes in a tanning bed. No, it's not natural sun. But they swear it will do wonders for my mood. I might have to try it out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Sweet Growing Boy

Jaden continues to amaze us more and more every day. Cody and I talked the other day about how he is turning three at the end of the month. Then we both said -- "he should be turning four." He just grows up so much more every single day. Physically, emotionally, verbally, intellectually, etc. This morning I wasn't feeling very well - I have come down with another cold and had a sinus headache from it when I woke up this morning - in turn giving me an upset stomach before I was able to eat anything. Cody had to get the boys ready by himself for the most part, and I did my best to "supervise" Brandon while I could barely move off the couch. Jaden played the "big brother" role perfectly. We didn't have enough time to feed the boys their breakfast (daycare can feed them breakfast when we don't have time) -- but Jaden thought it up himself to feed Brandon some of his favorite little snacks. Brandon really really likes the little Gerber "puffs" that they make for babies just learning how to chew. So Jaden held the can of "puffs" and fed Brandon one at a time for about 10 minutes this morning. Every time he could see Brandon was done with one, Jaden would hold out his little hand, Brandon would open his mouth, and Jaden would put one single puff into Brandon's mouth for him. It was just sweet how devoted he was to doing this for his little brother for as long as it lasted. When Brandon let out a little whine at one point, Jaden went over to him and said, "What's the matter baby? It's okay!" As we were putting Brandon in his car seat (an activity he HATES most of the time) -- Jaden kept saying in a cheerful voice, "It's okay Brandon!" He loves when Brandon takes baths with him, and whenever it's time to get Brandon out of the tub, Jaden pleads with us - "No, Brandon stay in the tub!" Whenever we are getting ready to go anywhere... "Brandon go, too?? Baby going, too?" It's so cute his different names for him - "brother" "baby" "Brandon" -- he uses them all. I just love watching Jaden mature - as a boy, as a friend, as our son and as a big brother. We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to "sharing" toys -- but I can't wait to watch their friendship develop as they grow :) I'm really glad we have two boys - two brothers - as our children. I always thought I'd want a girl, but God obviously knew what he was doing when he gave me these two boys!

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Wish for 2011

I had a realization last night. Cody and I have basically been together for over four years now... we started dating in 2006. In each and every one of our years together we have had major life changes, major decisions, major obstacles -- this all sounds bad, but there have obviously been good things, too.
*Our first year together - I graduated college, endured a tough job search, we moved in together, got engaged and then got pregnant. All in that order. In our first year together. Wow.
*Our second year together - We had a baby, moved in with my parents, got married, moved into our first place as a married couple, I got a new job and Cody lost his job. Wow.
*Our third year together - Cody found a new great job, we bought a house and got pregnant with baby #2. Wow.
*Our fourth year together - Baby #2 was born. And many other things job wise, etc. Wow.

So what is my wish for 2011? Our fifth year together?? Normalcy. And now you can all laugh at me. Because I really don't think life is ever "normal" once you have kids. Already on my agenda for this first month is an appointment with an ear nose throat specialist for Brandon in Iowa City -- and potentially two minor surgeries for our little guy. Our oldest turns three this month and I'm planning a swimming party. Brandon will be walking before we know it. And our potential preschool for Jaden starts enrollment for the upcoming fall this month. He's going to be starting SCHOOL this year. So no - life will not be "normal." BUT -- as far as I can plan -- (and things never go as planned) -- I will not be moving out of my house this year. I will not be pregnant this year. I will not be giving birth this year. And God-willing Cody and I will both be fully employed ALL YEAR LONG.

As I wrap up this blog entry, I have my fingers crossed that I didn't just jinx myself. Who knows what will happen in the next 12 months. But Cody and I agree -- we'd both be content to be bored for a little while ;) From my keyboard to God's ears -- I hope!!!! :)

*I guess I need to make a note to myself to come back and read this entry at the end of the year and see if things went as "planned." ;)