Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Do you ever have one of those days?

Entering the ranks of moms with two little ones, a question I ask every morning as I plan my day is: Will it be worth it to take two children out today? On a day like this, I would say, "No way!" It's 41 degrees, the wind chill factor makes it feel like 30 and the mall is CRAZY with folks returning Christmas gifts. But, Patrick asked me to go with him to Navy Federal to sign up for a Roth IRA, so if I had to be out, I might as well make it a full blown trip!

So, for you Dulles Town Center fans, I parked in front of Macy's with a clear mission: one store, one quick stop --which means no airplane park, no trains, and no carousel-- just a direct route to get my mom a deep fryer for her birthday. It was on sale for $49.99 and I had a Macy's $15 off card. After pulling everything out of the car including two children, fighting the raging wind, and finally finding the fryer--first by finding the elevator and then going clear across the entire store again only on a different floor-- I get to the counter, wait in line after three people and realize as I get to the register---I forgot my wallet in the car!!!! I had taken it out when I needed it for the bank. My mom's birthday is tomorrow and I won't be able to get this gift on sale again.

So, I traveled all the way back to the car, with Micah on my hips and a wailing Caelan in a stroller. Somehow, the temperature seems to have dropped even further? The raging wind almost slams the car door shut on me and Micah so I quickly grab my wallet, head back in, down the elevators to repeat the whole process--- I get to the counter, and she rings me up and guess what? The stupid fryer is not only NOT on sale, but my $15 card doesn't apply to this specific item!!!! Knowing what it could have cost, I just couldn't purchase it!


Now feeling the pressure to redeem this trip, knowing full well that I'm out of time because it's almost Micah's nap, I still force us to go get something to eat. Poor little guy almost got indigestion as I made us race down our food, trudge all the way back through the mall, back up the elevators, through the cold, and get Micah in the car before he fell asleep. He was soooo tired, but I "talked Mulan" the entire twenty minute ride home so he WOULDN'T nod off, meanwhile shaking Caelan's carseat with my free hand so that he WOULD fall asleep.

This is my life as a stay-at-home mom. Today I learned that sometimes you need to just go home and cut your losses because now I still have no fryer, but bad heartburn, and will need to do this all over again when they wake up from their nap. I checked online and they do have the fryer at Bed Bath and Beyond for the sale price and I have a 20% off card.

Okay, thanks for letting me rant and rave! I feel much better. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day

Christmas 2008 came and went, but with it left many wonderful memories of family and friends. Some of our favorite moments include:
  • Having the Andersons visit from Seattle and engaging in stimulating biblical discussions
  • Hosting our first wine-tasting with our neighbors
  • Seeing Patrick's martial arts family
  • Attending Christmas Eve service as a family and hearing Micah yelling out, "An Angel, Mommy! Baby Jesus!"
  • Having our first ever Christmas Eve dinner out at a restaurant (with no one to sing us Fa Wa Wa Wa - Deck the Halls) Ha!Also this year, we continued the Ring family tradition of visiting the National Christmas Tree and then having pizza afterwards.The Ring side of the family traveled to different places this year, so we spent Christmas Day with my family. My mom, brothers, and their families joined us in our home for brunch and opening gifts and later we met with my extended family for Christmas dinner.To see our Christmas, I attempted another video this time using Picasa Movies. I chose the song "Christmas Day" by Michael W. Smith and Mandisa. (As a side note for the Ring family watching, featured are some of the wonderful gifts you gave our family! Even though you couldn't see us opening them, at least you can see the joy on our faces.)
Please watch my Christmas Video via and make sure to "watch in high quality", a button on the bottom right hand side of the screen. It makes a huge difference!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

And about time. You know those warm, fuzzy, feelings you get when you see the neighborhood starting to light up? Everywhere you go, there are ornaments, wreaths and christmas songs playing. Somewhere in the distance, if you're paying attention, you can smell a chestnut crackling or gingerbread fresh out of the oven. Okay, maybe that was a bit of a stretch. :) Every year, I get so excited about Christmastime, and this year I was feeling none of it. I was starting to worry that the sleep deprivation was preventing me from yuletide cheer!

But alas, once we started putting up our tree, it all started to come together. This year, instead of our traditional red and gold, I went with what Patrick calls "psychadelic" colors: magenta, silver and blue!Putting up a tree for a two year old is seeing a hundred little new sparkling toys. It was just too tempting for Micah. He was inexplicably drawn to the glass "nays" and only managed to break one ornament so far.

His favorite Christmas sayings are "Snowman yuckee!" or "Nutcracker yuckee!" (it's this phase where everything is well, yuckie!) and when I ask, "Micah, what's Christmas?" He says "Baby Jesus buffday", but then quickly changes his answer to, "No, Micah buffday." Well, it was recently his birthday too. Here are my two greatest gifts on this birthday celebration.

I tried to take a picture of my newest gift this year. It was a feeble attempt! Poor little guy had fuzzy hairballs in his mouth for days...

One neat addition to our Christmas decorations is Caelan's stocking. First there were three, and now there are four. Also, Patrick has decided to officially pass down his red heirloom stocking, which is over forty years old, to Micah, whom he affectionately calls his number one son. Next year, there will be an M on it.

Once everything was decorated, it definitely felt like the most wonderful time of the year. Here's a window into our home at Christmastime.

Since there was a lag time of getting into the spirit of Christmas, you know these decorations will be up until Valentines Day! :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Favorites

Favorite Christmas Cookie- As a family tradition, Patrick's family makes TONS of great cookies. My favorite among them is the rice crispy christmas wreaths his sister Kristen made for us one year. Patrick likes them all, but he favors the russian tea cakes and the marshmellow w/peanut butter w/something or other (obviously he can't remember its name).Favorite Ornament - Mine is the "ugly" ornament. I started putting it up to remind me every year that Christmas isn't about the decorations, flawless parties, and perfect gifts for everyone. Somehow although I try not to, I get all caught up in the to do's and the events we over-commit to---I simply miss WHY we do these things in the first place. The ugly ornament tells me that I can't do it all, that I am not perfect and it's Christ who is made perfect in me. He is the reason to celebrate!

Favorite Tradition- Patrick's family would go down to see the National Tree and then go to Shakeys for pizza. Yes, Shakeys is way out of business but it was GOOD pizza.
Favorite Christmas Song - Well, all of them are my favorite. I'm not trying to cop out of giving one answer, but when I was eight years old, I hardly knew the words to any one Christmas song. That sounds impossible, but remember I am an immigrant and my family didn't celebrate Christmas (they thought Jesus and Santa were one in the same!), so that year my aunt bought me a record of classic christmas songs. I must have sang that whole album over and over again all by myself. The music filled me and they all became my favorites!

Favorite Gift Ever Received- When I was like 6 years old and we didn't have any money, my one gift was this Barbie Styling Head that came with curlers and a hairdryer. I remember unwrapping it and being thrilled to my toes that this half-head thing was all mine and I get to put makeup on it as often as I want!
Favorite Christmas Meal- Patrick loved getting up in the morning and having fruit soup (chopped up oranges, bananas, strawberries in orange juice - yummy!) and patizza, which is sweet bread layered in walnuts and brown sugar icing. And also some turkey sausage on the side. Yum, who's getting hungry?

Fresh Tree/FakeTree? I've always had a fake tree (we grew up poor, hello?) but Patrick always had a real tree. Now, he's a big believer in fake trees that are high speed low drag and the magic word is PRE-LIT! Besides who wants a pine or mold allergy once a year?

Favorite Christmas Movie - Before I married, I didn't have one. Now, hands down my favorite is also Patrick's favorite: A Christmas Story. Patrick likes the part where the kid's tongue gets stuck on the ice and I thought the funniest part was when they were at a chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner and the waiters sang "Fa wa wa wa..."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Relaxing Saturday

Okay, so she got me to blog. On Saturday, we visited Nota Viva Vineyard in Purcellville that our friend Scott originally suggested, and it happened to land on my birthday so we celebrated it at the same time. We had a really great time.

My lovely wife bought a bunch of food for everyone to share so we spent several hours eating great food, drinking great wine, and visiting with good friends.
It was really nice to spend time with close friends that we've had for several years. I can't think of a better way to spend a birthday.
We also give thanks for Soryda's mom for watching our two sons while we were away. It was nice to be able to get out of the house and just to relax and spend some time as a couple. As a funny footnote to the day, Soryda was baptized into the club of seasoned parents. Micah wasn't feeling well and and lost his lunch on Soryda's white sweater. Even funnier was when she came downstairs wearing her purple one, her mom said, "Oh that one looks better anyway."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Blog about our Blog

To encourage my husband to blog, I thought I'd take the opportunity to say that I am really enjoying blogging and I wish I had more time to do it. Nowadays, everyone seems to have a blog and no one really seems shy about sharing. And it isn't surprising that everyone has something to say even if it is meaningless, insignificant minutia of one's day. I still appreciate it because they tell it with an understated gusto.

While I like to write, I don't profess to be a writer by any stretch of the imagination or claim that I have anything profound to say. I write because I like it and I have dozens of journals that I can look back with fond memories. I find that there's discovery when you process, and this is often where God speaks to me, and heals me.

As a creative outlet, and a perfect place to make crazy design choices (have you noticed how often I've changed the background? Too fun), the blog allows me to lay down memories with words and photos that will last a lifetime. I can imagine Micah as a father, with his two year old, sitting around with his wife and family and watching the video I made of his digger party. Of course by then, it'll all be quite star-trek like with hollograms and virtual options. I feel like I have given him a priceless treasure that he would never have received if I didn't take the time to blog it.

Now, if only I can get his father to do it. Patrick wants to write, but feels he doesn't have anything important to say. Hogwash! If you're out there and reading this, please encourage him that anything he has to say is worthy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Smile

Among other things to be thankful for this holiday season is the long-awaited reward of seeing my baby smile. Caelan has had longer wakeful periods and has been less fussy. Thank you God. He's now starting to show us his amazing dimples.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Micah turns 2!

Yesterday was my baby's birthday. I didn't have time to blog on his birthday because we were busy making a dump truck cake and preparing for his neighborhood birthday party. All the kids on Tobacco Square and a few honorary play date friends came over on this rainy Monday to celebrate Micah. Here's a video from party. The theme: Diggers of course! (On a side note, I am totally addicted to Windows Movie Maker. You just dump photos and videos and add some music. It is such a creative outlet for me! I love it.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Week in the Life of Micah

One thing I've been trying to do in this time of adjustment with a new baby is to make sure that my toddler still feels special, and for the most part, his schedule remains the same. Even on the most tired days where I can hardly keep my head up, I figure I'll be fatigued beyond belief ANYWHERE I am, so I might as well stimulate my child and also connect with good friends who will help me forget my exhaustion. Here is our little Beethoven enrolled in group piano lessons for 1-year old musical prodigies. Hah, I wish!

Also, Patrick and I believe (and this is one of the reasons why I chose to stay at home) that age 1-5 is the most important time for growth and development and this is where Micah builds his foundation on life. Our challenge is to give him freedom to grow, but also establish good boundaries. Tough job, and we haven't even entered the terrible two's yet!

So, what does he do all week? Well, Mondays are errand days where he gets dragged across town to Wegmans, Costco, and usually Target. Then we come home, clean house, and do loads and loads of laundry. I think people think I'm a lonely mom at the grocery store talking to my children in the cart, but they don't know that all this talking is helping Micah learn. Everything is an object lesson. Tuesday and Wednesdays are usually multiple playdates. Lots of imagination and relationship-building. Here is Micah below with new friend, Roman. I have to say these two play so well together. They don't take each other's toys and they actually share.

And usually at every playdate, for some unknown reason, all the kids love to hug Micah. :)


 Every other week we get together for "Cousins Day" where my brother's kids and Micah and Caelan get to bond with family.

Thursday is Storytime at the library with Micah's neighbor, Jacob. They read and sing songs. Friday is usually a planned activity for just he and I so we have special mommy-time. Here's us doing crafts. He has been learning his colors and he is like a sponge - He's going to be two in 4 days - he learns so fast!

We think it's because his father spends a lot of time reading to him every night. And then the weekend rapidly approaches where we do something fun as a family, and Micah and daddy also have their quality time usually at the big park. He also enjoys his playtime at Sunday school at church. This investment, time of bonding, and all the things he's learning in these important developmental years, we pray, will set during this stage and will carry him through the rest of his life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Funny Conversations with Micah

When Patrick tries to tell Micah he's home for the weekend, and not at work:
Daddy: Micah, guess what? It's Saturday.
Micah: (Looks up smiling) mmhhh....Watch football?

A little Potty Humor
Mommy: Micah, something smells. Do you have a poopie diaper?
Micah: (blank stare)
Mommy: Okay, let's check. Nope, no poopie diaper.
Micah: No poopie mommy, just fawt.

Trying to convince Micah to eat his meat and vegetables:
Mommy: Micah, can you try this beef?
Micah: No beef!
Daddy: What about this yummy spinach?
Micah: No spinch
Mommy: What would you like to eat?
Micah: (with a charming smile) I-fream?
Mommy: No, no icecream
Micah: Panfakes?
Daddy: No, no pancakes
Micah: Ummmm...pumfin bed?
(Amazing what sweets he can come up with!!!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Forty Days and Nights with Caelan

The bible often refers to 40 days as a time of great trial and transformation. There are dozens of accounts, but to name a few: forty years reign of Saul, David and Solomon, 40 days and nights of the flood, 40 days fasting by Jesus in the wilderness. At the end of those 40 days of trial, there was great transformation. Well, interestingly for postpardum, the doctors ask you to get checked up at 6 weeks, the lactation consultants tell you that your milk is established during this time, and sleep experts suggest that your baby starts to get on a nap schedule at six weeks. Basically, if you can survive this 40 day period with a newborn, you have made it! Suddenly, I hear that song "I will survive" getting louder in my head.

Patrick and I didn't kill each other, Micah still feels special, and Caelan is still alive. What a huge success! Here's the journey from trial....

.... to transformation--my big boy at six weeks on a lazy Sunday afternoon, has already figured out the remote control! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Brad and Lindsay

The Bendecks gave Micah a big brother gift at Caelan's Meet the Baby Party -- his favorite all time gift - diggers! When we first had him open the bag, he took out the first digger and all these words he never used started coming out and fast...he was so excited about his gift. He always said "deegers!" but he never specifically identified them by name. Of course, we stopped everything and ran to get the camera. The original cut (which we missed) is always the best, but we were still glad we got some of his new words on tape. Thanks Brad and Lindsay! I hope this will serve as our formal thank you note!:)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Meet the Baby Party

Yesterday, we had a little gathering of our small group family to meet Caelan. Instead of a baby shower, my dear friend Kathy and my sweet sister-in-law, Halys, threw together a wonderful, intimate celebration. After seeing good friends, I can surely say that for the first time in a month, I truly felt energized instead of exhausted. And Micah enjoyed himself with all the kids, while Caelan was being passed around. Friends, family, wine, cheesecake and free childcare for several hours - could a girl ask for a better evening? Here's one of my favorite pics from the evening - our glorious friend Scott looking quite comfortable holding a baby. Who thinks he'll make a good daddy? I do!
Susan, his wife, looks like quite the pro herself!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Wonder-Fall Halloween

This Halloween was a fun dress-up day for Micah and his friends. The name of this game was EASY (hello, just gave birth a month ago!) so what do you get when you put together an old bandana, hand-me down overalls and a borrowed cap? (thank you neighbors Chris and Ali!)

A train engineer of course! And what's better than one train conductor? How about two?!!!Micah's BBF, Liam, was also a train conductor this year. How totally cute! We had a fun time at the outlets where the stores were participating in trick-or-treating. It was sixty degrees! In the evening, we got together with the TSKC (affectionately referred to as the Tobacco Square Kids Club) where all his best buds got together for photos before they embarked on their candy-crazed adventure!In the five years we lived here, there has never been this many kids on our block and while it was an absolute madhouse, we loved it! It's been such a blessing to have wonderful neighbors who hang out almost every day together and we watch each other's kids. What a Happy Halloween!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One Month Observations

Hard to believe a month has gone by already. We survived so far. Not dead yet. To monitor Caelan's growth, I am stealing a great idea from my friend Adrianna (who blogs faithfully from Greece!) and as she did for her one-month old, I will chart Caelan's growth over the next year with the same image over time. Here's him at one month! First thing to note was on day 4 - he was 6 lbs 14 ounces and now he weighs 11 lbs. As many issues as I'm having with nursing, it must not be all that bad because he's becoming a porker! Look at those cheeks. :)

Some other interesting observations after one month:
1. My boys don't suck. How I'd like to brag about this one, but unfortunately as it relates to nursing, neither one of them could latch well. They both had a tongue-tie, and now Caelan also has reflux. Can lightning strike the same place twice? With 12 times a day of nursing (yes, that's my whole day!) when he doesn't eat well, he doesn't sleep well = more crying all around.
2. Sleep deprivation makes you innovative. One night, on my seventh night-waking, I mistaked my nursing pad as a drink coaster. It actually serves as a really efficient disposable coaster!
3. When it comes to newborns who are almost asleep, toddlers do not understand "quiet" or "gentle" or "wait, hold on..." If anything, they think that means, "Shake the baby!"
4. Micah loved the swing and the pacifier and didn't mind being swaddled. Caelan doesn't care for the swing, refuses any pacifier and would rather be left alone to cry for a spell, and then fall asleep WITHOUT a swaddle.

You know I thought the Lord would give us one challenging child and then an easy one. Everyone seems to get that mix! How is that the difference between my two children is one is hard and the other is harder? I suppose you can say raising them will be anything but extra-ordinary!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Go to Parking Pass" (Translation: Let's go to the Pumpkin Patch!)

We're still figuring out all of Micah's sentences, but every time he said parking pass, we knew he was excited to go to our first trip to the pumkpin patch! Here are some photos of our excursion:

I forgot my little pumpkin's pumpkin hat - was so bummed! It would have made a great picture.I made up for it at his bath that very same night! What cruel torture to my child, I know. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting Perspective

I didn't expect this week to be so physically exhausting. This getting-up-every-hour thing is driving me to insanity. I'm sure this is how they torture prisoners of war---they sleep deprive them for weeks, and then they let them sleep 45 minutes and just as soon as they fall in a deep sleep, they scream as loud as a wailing baby, "Wake up!" and then they make them stay up for an hour, and start the whole process again around the clock. After all my serious grumbling, I got some encouragement from my wonderful girlfriends and one thing they said was: Lower Your Expectations! This gave me some much needed perspective and so I chose to turn a corner and not focus on the burden of nursing every two hours with no sleep whatsoever, but to focus on the privilege of getting to hold my baby and smell him and to watch him grow. Here is my crashed-out baby smelling like well...a delicious newborn baby!
So with a shift in perspective, I looked back on the week and found myself to be grateful:
1. that Micah slept through the night every night since we brought Caelan home except for the first. What a huge relief!
2. that my husband tirelessly helps around the house and burps and changes diapers without complaint. Every now again, he'll look at me and say, "I know this is hard..." and it makes a world of difference.
3. that we went on a date night in the first two weeks, even though we did still talk about the kids. It was nice to get out and be alone. (Actually, the real first date was on day 4 when we went to Walgreens at 11:00 at night and like school kids, we browsed the aisles laughing at things we found that were so weird to find at a drugstore. It was a lot of fun, and we laughed a lot - so what if our mission was to buy stool softener - it was STILL romantic!)

My funny husband on our first date (post two kiddos!)
4. that I got to take a shower at least every other day. That's unheard of!
5. that breastfeeding does not hurt as much as the first time
6. that my mom gave up two weeks of work to spend quality time with Micah, clean my house, and make all our meals. Mom, you are heaven-sent!

When you can focus on the good things, you realize how blessed you are. And it gives you the strength to get through the tough nights. My prayer is that Caelan will grow quickly so he'll at least give me four hours of uninterrupted sleep. Truly, that's all I need to survive! For now, I will just sniff his wonderful baby smell, and realize that I don't want time to speed up too much or I'll miss the part of enjoying him!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Caelan's Birth Story

In all fairness to Caelan, Micah had his birth story recorded so I wanted to make sure Caelan's story got the spotlight too. Most of you know that I was scheduled for an induction on October 1st at 7:30 a.m., two weeks earlier than my due date. In the last trimester, I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) which is a liver condition that causes excess bile in my bloodstream, and was toxic to the baby. While the idea of an induction was very unnatural, in all frankness, I was more concerned with the risk of a sudden stillbirth than I was with an early baby. But the Lord's timing is always perfect, and I didn't need to worry, it turned out that my body was ready to give birth at exactly the same time I was supposed to be induced. How God is that!

My doctor's appointment earlier that day confirmed I was about 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I started having strong contractions around 4 p.m. and decided that I should go to the hospital in case I dilated too quickly and wouldn't be allowed an epidural. Something I was not willing to risk! So I packed the rest of my bag, got all dolled up for the momentous occasion (for all those comments of how I looked- no I did not have a make up artist on stand by! I am a diva --deal with it) and so we were off to meet our new baby!

Our last family photo of just us and Micah:

When we arrived at the hospital, I was only 5 cm dilated (For reference, you need to be at ten when you start pushing) however, the doctor was not willing to send me home and risk me having the baby on the bathroom floor. I was encouraged to walk around the hospital for about an hour, so Patrick and I paced the halls in hopes that the pressure would dilate me further. We used that precious time to "prayer walk" and pray for the delivery, our sons, our families, and friends. When we ran out of things to pray for, we prayed for the upcoming Presidential election! :)

Hard to believe I am in active labor right now with killer
contractions at 2 minutes a part. I can't feel a thing! 

Around 7:30 p.m., I was checked again and it worked, I was more dilated and pretty ready to go. I was quickly admitted, given a fantastic dose of an epidural and by 8:30 p.m., they broke my water, and started me on pitocin to speed things up. Within 3 hours, I was already fully dilated! I have to say it was the best birthing experience EVER. I didn't feel an ounce of pain from the start and when it was time to push, I had to peer over the side and ask my doctor if indeed I was pushing! I suppose anyone would still look good if they didn't even break a sweat during labor! We missed a September birthday by one minute (believe me, my doctor tried!)

Fifteen minutes of painless pushing and little Caelan came into the world at 12:01 a.m. And shook me to the core. I guess I thought having done this before that I wouldn't be as moved, but surprisingly, I was even more moved by seeing his little body wiggling and hearing that first cry. I think it's because of all the stress of whether he was going to be alive or not. We have a video and you can hear me saying in complete awe, "Wow, he's so real! He's actually alive..." He was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Caelan turns ONE....week that is.

Caelan turned one week old yesterday and looking back and reflecting on our first week as a four-member family, things have been going very well. Caelan is eating well, and although he doesn't sleep as long as Soryda would like, he does seem to be sleeping soundly. Already after one week, he looks like a different baby:

Here's our first family-of-four outing
(Micah's favorite past time -riding the trains!) :

Micah is also adjusting well. I didn't really know what to expect as far as how Micah would react, but it is fun to see how excited he is about Caelan. He exclaims "the baby!" when he hears him cry for the first time in the morning, wants to watch us change him, and sometimes asks to hold him. We were eating snacks two days ago, and he wanted to give Caelan some of his raisins. It was very cute.
Micah tries to give Caelan a kiss after their baths:

So, at least for now, since I am not pacing up and down the stairs with earplugs and a crying baby (which is exactly what I did the first full month Micah was alive), I can worry about other things, such as how are we going to raise TWO boys? I thought one was going to be hard enough. When Micah was born, his skin was a light tan color, then Caelan comes out a bright pink. My first thought is "These are definitely not the same babies." So almost everything that worked with Micah will not work for Caelan, but I am looking forward to getting to know another adorable little boy the Lord has entrusted to us, and as his father, He will give me the strength and wisdom to do the the job right.

Here's a debut of Caelan's first slideshow. (You can also view it by double-clicking on the slide show at the top right-hand corner). Enjoy.