Sunday, May 30, 2010

Birthdays Galore!

May through July are the "birthday/celebration months" in our family.  In order we have (drumroll, please):

May 9- Mother's Day
May 16- Jaden's Birthday
May 25- Martin's Birthday
June 6 - My dad's birthday
June 7 - Martin's dad's birthday
June 20- Father's Day
June 24- Micah's Birthday/ My Mom's Birthday
July 6- Martin's Mom's Birthday
July 12- My Birthday

Phew!  That is 10 celebrations in two months, and that is NOT including our siblings' birthdays (and between us we have 7 siblings).   We aren't big "party throwers" in our family - birthdays have never been a huge deal and we've never thrown big birthday parties for the kids, other than their 1st birthdays.  This year will be Micah's first "big" party, where he has told me names of 21 kids he wants to invite. Well, then!  Since he's turning 5 we are going to oblige, but we normally keep it small.

Two weeks ago we had a small birthday party for Jaden at Chuck E Cheese with six of his friends from church.  I didn't want to pay the $18 a person for the "sponsored" birthday party, so I got there early, reserved two tables, and went to town with Cars decorations.  It was a blast and he had so much fun.

This week we celebrated Martin's birthday, and we were able to have an overnight "away" at a nice hotel near our house.  I had taken photos of this hotel's 25th Anniversary Celebration, and in return they gave me 2 free nights with free dinner and breakfast in two of their restaurants.  My mom came and stayed the night and we used one of the free nights on Monday.  It was GREAT!  We ate dinner, walked around Borders bookstore for an hour (which is in the same parking lot), had dessert, sat in the jacuzzi, and went to bed.  I had a hard time sleeping and woke up early (it's hard for me not to be in my own bed), and then we went to breakfast and checked out by noon.

At Borders, we perused books on The Strong-Willed Child (I know, how romantic), and sat down in an aisle and just read together.  When we got back to the hotel, I wanted to check out the Concierge Lounge on the 12th floor. Someone opened the door for us, and we went in and were treated to free chocolate-raspberry cake, Starbucks, and free sodas.  Little did we know (until I tried to get in the next morning), that we were not supposed to use the Concierge Lounge - it was only for the elite members :)  Oh well!  We'll know for next time, right? ;)

Now I am off planning Micah's "Spiderman/Ironman" themed party.  It will be at Chuck E Cheese too, so my challenge is to make it creative and low cost.  Feel free to pass on any ideas you have!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

This month seems to be a big month for making decisions for our family.  One of the major decisions we are making is whether to enroll Micah in traditional Kindergarten for the fall, or enroll him in "Preppy Kindergarten," which essentially is a 2-year kindergarten program.  He was first recommended for Preppy K at the kindergarten round-up last month, but I have been told by many that the system they use is flawed.  One of those reasons being that they take 30 kids in one room and evaluate them as a group for about 30 minutes, and then tell you if your kid is ready for Kindergarten or not.  We know Micah is an introvert, he takes awhile to warm up to new situations, and he is quiet in those situations. I could just picture our boy "taking it all in" with 29 other kids he didn't know, at a strange place, with a strange teacher, and not wanting to rush things.  We went to Phase 2 of the Preppy-process, and had him individually assessed by a Preppy teacher for 45 minutes.  Micah did really great in that test, and the teacher said his test results will likely fall very close to the 5.0 age-range, and he turns 5 late next month.  He said the decision would be up to us, but he thinks he would do better in Preppy than traditional Kindergarten.  However, Micah may surprise us and do well in traditional K as well, and the decision will be up to us.  The slogan for Preppy-K is "give your child the gift of time."  It is not as academic, the classes are a little smaller, and they usually have 2-3 parents helping the teacher at all times.  They still learn letters and numbers and how to begin reading, but they don't rush the students into it and let them work at their own pace.  The Preppy teacher said Kindergarten is much faster paced and hard for many kids (on the borderline) to keep up.

Wow.  No pressure or anything; we just have to decide NOW whether or not to "hold our child back" a year before he even enters the school system.  It is one of those decisions you make as a parent that you worry will impact their entire life if you make the wrong choice.  Putting him in Preppy-K would mean he would enter Kindergarten next year, and first grade when he is 7.  I guess I've always thought that is old to enter 1st grade, but I am hearing from more and more parents who are actually choosing to do that for various reasons (their child is more likely to be at the top of the class, excel, and even get better sporting scholarships later in life).  None of those would be our reasons for choosing this path, but it is a little comforting to know that, especially in our area, there would be other 7 year olds in first grade with him.  We are not sure yet what we will do, but are leaning more towards the Preppy-K option right now. Everything we hear about the program is fantastic and we haven't heard of one parent ever regretting that option. In fact, we have heard of many parents who have rather regretted not choosing Preppy when it was recommended, even in borderline cases.  We have a few more weeks to decide.

We are also making a decision about whether or not I should return to work.  I found a very part-time job (12 hours a week) at a church doing admin. work, which is what I have past experience in.  It is close to our house, pays pretty well, and would bring in some much needed extra income.  However, it would really impact our current schedule and Martin's work schedule somewhat.  I would miss out on almost all of the summer play dates we have planned, swimming lessons for 2 weeks that we just registered (and paid for), and the flexibility that I love having right now.  In the Fall it would mean I would have no more mornings with Jaden alone, as I would work Mon-Wed-Fri mornings, and he will be in preschool Tues-Thurs.  Tomorrow (Thursday) is my interview, and while I haven't been offered the job yet, the phone conversation already sounded very promising.  On one hand, the thought of working really excites me because I have been wanting to get out of the house more, and the money would be nice.  On the other hand, I have been my own boss for 5 years now and had total flexibility with my work schedule (photography, etc.).  I just don't know if I have it in me to keep doing photography, but since the opportunities keep coming, I have been continuing to do them.  Sometimes extra money is not worth the cost of missing quality time with your kids, and I know that, but at the same time, I have spent every moment the last 5 years with them and feel this might be a good time.  But I'm not really sure yet....

Please keep us in your prayers this week; it is much appreciated!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Giving Project: May

If you are new to "The Giving Project", this is a project started on my blog to encourage giving in all types of forms to bless other people.  In life, we are often either "givers" or "takers", and this project encourages all of us to become "givers."

The Giving Projects that we've done already include (click on the links for more information):

January:  Food
February: Reaching out to someone for Valentine's Day
March-April: Giving a compliment to a stranger

If you participated last month, please leave a comment and let us know what you did (or said).  For myself, I realized how hard it can be to give a compliment to a stranger.  Because I am (mostly) an introvert, I don't often seek out opportunities to converse with strangers.  Yet every week at Micah's preschool, I would see this woman who runs a daycare.  Every day, twice a day, she pulls her van up to the preschool, unloads 6 kids under 4 years old, and drops off one child at the preschool.  She has the kids all walk together and wait patiently by the gate, and it looks exhausting. Yet this lady always seems to have energy, and she is able to get these kids in and out of their car seats day after day to do this.  I was surprised at the courage I had to muster just to talk to this woman!  I walked by her as she was loading the kids back into her van, and I said, "I just want you to know that I think you are amazing!"  She stopped and smiled and said, "Thank you, that means a lot to me.  I've been doing this for a long time."  I talked with her for a few minutes and told her that every week I see her take all the kids back and forth to school, and she does such a great job with them.  She said she really appreciated me telling her what I thought, and we went on our ways.  I hope I can gather the courage to talk to more strangers and give them compliments, because I do think it makes such a HUGE difference!

May's project is this:  Give the gift of a letter.

A few months ago I was trying to sleep and kept thinking of my grandmother.  I got up at midnight and wrote her a letter, telling her how much she meant to me and how proud I was to be her grand-daughter. She called me a few days later, crying, telling me how much that letter meant to her and how it came at the perfect time.  We don't always tell people in our lives how much we value them and love them; then when they are gone, we regret it.

Take the step to hand-write a letter to someone in your family, or someone close to you, letting them know why you love them.

This may sound similar to February's challenge (to reach out to someone for Valentine's Day), but that challenge was more about recognizing someone who may not normally celebrate Valentine's Day. It may sound like last month's project - giving someone a compliment.  But this is more personal.

A letter is a gift that often means more than anything material that you could ever give.  So take a few minutes, get out that old pen and lined notebook paper, and write a letter to someone you love.  This is a gift with an eternal value!  If you decide to do this, please leave a comment and let me know.   I look forward to reading more about your Giving Projects!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Three Years Ago

Three years ago, this bundle of joy was brought into our world...

Since just Martin was in the room with me, I needed him to help me push rather than video or photograph the event.  So, this is Jaden's first official picture.  

I don't believe I have ever posted his birth story, so here goes (from what I can remember)!  :)  (This post is LONG - I apologize in advance!)

When I found out I was pregnant, it was a Thursday and I was home alone with Micah. I wanted to surprise Martin, so I made a video of Micah coloring a picture. When I zoomed into the picture, the paper said "Daddy, I'm going to be a big brother!"  I was so excited to surprise Martin with this news, because we had "unofficially" been trying and I knew he would be thrilled.  Martin got home really late on Thursday night and wanted to go to bed, so I waited until early the next morning.  We had both woken up in bed and at 6am or so, I said, "Babe, I have to show you this video I made of Micah last night.  It is SO cute!"  Martin didn't understand why I wanted to show him a video so early in the morning, but he obliged me.  He watched it and sat up really quickly in bed and said, "NO WAY!"  He was ecstatic. 

We both felt we were going to have a girl.  I just knew it.  We picked out a name and everything:  Hailey Elizabeth. We joked that Micah looked like Martin, but Hailey would probably be born with blonde hair and blue eyes.  When we went in for the sonogram (the last appointment of the day), the nurse said, "I have done about 40 sonograms today, and yours is the very first one that is a BOY!" We looked at each other in shock.  "Are you sure?" we asked.  After all, this was going to be our last child, and we just knew we were going to have one of each!  Nope.  It was a boy.  It may sound selfish, but I burst into tears and cried daily for over a month.  I still remember calling my best friend Heather, and hearing her tell me, "Jaimie, God must have a plan for these two brothers!"  I held that in my heart and knew it must be true.

(Nice old sonogram machine there, huh?) :)

(Heather & I)

After a few weeks, my love for this little boy in my tummy grew and grew.  I loved him already, and realized that God must have a plan that is bigger and better than mine was.  We had two names picked out: Nathaniel James or Jaden Jeremiah.

Micah was born by c-section two years earlier than Jaden on June 24, 2005.  I had a pretty rough recovery after that and spent 5 days total in the hospital.  During the procedure, I blacked out a few times and had very low blood pressure, threw up during recovery and it took me about 2 weeks to get back on my feet.  I knew that if I ever had a chance to do it over again, I would try to have a v-bac instead of another c-section.  Another reason I wanted a V-BAC was because Micah would be 23 months old when Jaden was born, and I felt like he was still at the young age where he needed to be held a lot. I was worried about not being able to pick him up and hold him for at least 6 weeks if I had a c-section.

Finding a doctor who would do a v-bac was a whole feat in itself.  I called every OBGYN listed under my HMO insurance and could not find one who would do it.  Then someone recommended calling the hospital (only one of our two hospitals would allow V-BACs), and asking a nurse in labor and delivery who they work with who does them.  I made the call, and the nurse who answered the phone dropped her voice to a whisper and said, "Dr. L does them, but don't say I told you."  Huh?!  I didn't realize this was a top secret mission I was on!

Dr. L was fantastic and allowed me to have a V-BAC.  One of the reasons they are so rare is that California requires the doctor to be present the whole time the mother is admitted to the hospital.  My due date was coming and my doctor was going on vacation with her family, and if I was admitted while she was away, her associate would not allow me to have a V-BAC. For that reason, she asked if I wanted to be induced on my due date, and I said yes.  

We were admitted around 6pm on a Thursday night, and the IV fluids began.  My veins are hard to find, and it took 3 nurses over 30 minutes to get my IV line in. That was probably the worst part.  One nurse put it in my hand, after poking my arm about 6 times,  and my hand doubled in size within a few minutes.  Finally a "pro" was brought in and she got it back in my arm.   

Around 8pm or so, I started being given Pitocin and felt some contractions here and there.  At around 10pm, they were becoming unbearable.  The contractions were constant and the pain was intensified because my c-section scar was stretching with each contraction.  The anesthesiologist came in and gave me an epidural (thank you, Jesus!) and I was SO much better.  No pain at all.  (Except for the fact that he had to give it to me twice because the needle turned the first time it went in.  Fun. Can you tell we're on a roll here?)

At around 1am, my epidural failed.  I was dialated to 9cm and feeling every. single. thing.  I was throwing up, delirious, and not doing well at all.  The anesthesiologist came in numerous times to up my dosage, but I was still feeling everything.  He finally determined that, although this is very rare, my epidural had changed directions and was going into another area of my body (legs only).  They sat me up, and YEP, I had to have a 3rd epidural.  This was so much fun!!! ;)

However, that final shot was all it took. I was in heaven. No pain at all, and I could enjoy life again.  I stopped throwing up, and even though I had a high dosage of epidural, I thankfully still felt the urge to push.  After about 10 minutes of pushing, At 4:03am, weighing in at 8 lbs, 12 oz,  our boy came into this world.   After he came out, Martin said, "Wow, babe, after all that, you can name him whatever you want!!"  :)  We thought that the name Jaden Jeremiah "fit" him better than the name Nathaniel (which is Micah's middle name).  Micah had weighed 9 lbs, 7 oz, so I was thankful Jaden was smaller than him! 

I was able to hold him and nurse him within the first hour of life, and I was so happy.  I could not believe I did it!!  I was proud of myself because I almost gave up after that 2nd epidural failed; I was so tired.  But the whole experience was worth it, and I can honestly look back on it and say that it was great.  

Jaden was very active in the womb and he is the same way outside the womb!   He is very energetic and loves all sports.   We can already tell he is a natural at athletics.  At 2 years old he started hitting baseballs over the fence (when we pitch to him), he kicks soccer balls right in the goal, throws a mean football, and recently loves to play golf in the backyard.  He follows his older brother everywhere and learns quickly from him; potty training was a breeze with him at barely 2 1/2 (phew!).

Jaden loves to make people laugh by making funny faces, telling jokes and he giggles all day long.  But one of my favorite traits about him is that he is so loving!  Jaden loves to cuddle.  He still comes into our bed anywhere between 1am and 4am to snuggle with us.  We love our boy so much and are so thankful for him!!  Happy Birthday Jaden Jeremiah!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago today...

Micah was in surgery for tonsils, tubes & adenoids.

It was scary.  It was sad.  I cried, a lot.  Probably more than he did.  To see your "big boy" curled up in the fetal position in a hospital crib with tubes coming out of his arm, gauze in his mouth, and coming out of anesthesia....well, words can't describe.  In that moment, we wondered if we had made a mistake.  We wondered if we were bad parents for putting him through that.  We wondered if we traumatized him forever.  In the 2 weeks that followed, we held him day and night, woke him up at 1am and 4am to give him his meds (which he firmly resisted), and slowly saw him get better.  And he did get better!

Today, he is healthy and strong.  He has not been to the doctor once for being sick (his average was 6-10 times a year for ear infections and bad coughs).  He has had one or two colds that lasted a few days and then went away. That never happened before.  His speech improved, he got a confidence boost, and he started talking more at school.  

He remembers the experience, but has not said anything bad about it.  He did say he was scared, but when we drive by the hospital he says, "That is where I had my surgery and they gave me popsicles, mommy!"  And he loves his ENT and actually prefers to go to him over his regular pediatrician.

So, all that to say, sometimes the hardest things in life end up being the best things.  :)

(Although, I am still kicking myself that I forgot my camera that day and only had my phone to use!)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day, Mayhem, and Miscellaneous

Pardon me while I include you in the recap of my crazy week/weekend. This is one of those "I cannot  believe the week we have had, and I think I need to stop and process it all" moments.  Stay tuned for regular blogging after this break-

Thursday, 8am: Toilet breaks.  We are a family of 4 in a house with 1 toilet.  Not a good situation.  I could not get a hold of our landlord until almost 4pm, and somehow my boys instinctively knew to hold their afternoon "potty break" (if you know what I mean), until an hour after the plumber came at 5pm.  (Insert Hallelujah chorus here).

Thursday, 7pm: I was invited to attend an awards banquet for a girl I have mentored for over 7 years named Sarah. This girl is amazing.  She not only was a Congressional Page last year, but she is producing a play called "Quilters" right now and is headed off to George Washington University in the Fall.  I will miss this girl!  (Someone remind me to lose that double chin)

Friday, 9am: We take our car into the shop.  We find out that it needs a new water pump and another new part, costing us over $500. Cha-Ching!!

Saturday, all day:  We headed out to my parents' house to celebrate both Mother's Day and Jaden's 3rd birthday (which is next Sunday).  We had so much fun, flying kites and playing all day....

Sunday, 9:40am:  Martin had left for church with a friend (since our car was still in the shop), and I got the boys in the car to head to church.  I was a little nervous because I was also speaking to mothers at the end of the sermon, and the boys were both acting really cranky.  I strapped them in their seats, went to start the car, and....nothing.  Our car battery was dead (and the first car is still in the shop).  After a few calls, a guy from our church came over and jumped the car for me.  I got there right at 10am, signed the boys into their classrooms, and got into the service just in the nick of time!  I was able to share with the moms at the end of the sermon and God came through, because Lord knows that I was distracted that morning!!


Sunday, 12pm: We all get in the car to leave, and it won't start again.  Get jumped again.  Head home.
I took a nap, and Martin took the boys to Costco to get a new battery.  Brave man, as they both had not had naps.  Martin had to go to 3 stores to find the right battery, as Costco did not have the one we needed in stock.  My hunky man did all of this with two kids in tow, while I blissfully slept at home with no clue as to what was going on.  I did indeed marry a brave, hunky, good man!

Monday, 9am: I got to go with Micah on a field trip with his preschool; a walk to the library. So fun!  As we walked (about 3 blocks), I caught him sneaking looks back at me to see if I was still there, and each time a huge smile broke out on his face :)  Love that kid.

My hubby gave me Sunday and Monday "off" for Mother's Day.  I can attest to the fact that is the greatest gift EVER.  TWO days to do whatever I want?  (Well, not whatever I want, since I have no money to spend, but anyway....)  I found myself at JoAnne's fabrics, where I came across this stack of scrapbook paper for $5.  I am a sucker for pretty scrapbook paper, although I do not scrapbook and don't intend to ever scrapbook either.  So I came home and stuck it on the walls in our bedroom.  What do you think?  Now I'm thinking I might put white photo frames in the middle of each one. I'm not sure yet... any ideas?  (Does anyone think this looks weird?!)

(I am decoratively challenged, so I'm open to suggestions!)

So... how was YOUR Mother's Day?  :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


We Are That Family  is hosting a necklace giveaway right now, and to enter I have to post a picture that describes motherhood to me.  Although I have thousands of pictures on my computer of me and the boys, this picture immediately came to my mind:

This picture was taken when Jaden was 1 week old.  It was the first picture taken of me and both boys together.  I remember that week well - I was trying to figure it all out.  How do I take care of two babies?  Micah was only 23 months old and still in diapers, and still needed my attention so badly.  In those early days, guilt washed over me frequently as I strugged to meet the physical and emotional needs of two babies at once.  I worried about Micah - how he was adjusting, wondering if he felt loved, and he and I both cried a lot during those early days.  I realized that my time with just him was over, and I didn't want it to be over yet.  I missed him already.

Micah was happy to welcome his new baby brother home, though.  The first few weeks & months were definite adjustments, but Jaden fit right into our little family.  Micah couldn't wait for Jaden to get older so they could play together, and now they do play together every day.  They are each other's first friend.

Somehow, we figured things out.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weekend Highlights

If you read my last post entitled "Bye, Bye Baby," you know that we were all excited to get rid of Jaden's pacifier and move to the next phase in life.  Yeah, well that plan lasted about 20 minutes.  4 days, actually.  Yesterday we just couldn't take it anymore.  He was miserable, we were miserable, and we were NOT one big happy family.  Jaden does not use his pacifier throughout the day; just at nap and bedtime.  Yet without it, he was not taking his naps and keeping Micah up as well.  He was cranky and not going to be easily at all.  SO, after 4 days of this nonsense, at 1:32pm yesterday I gave in and drove to the store and bought him a NEW BINKY.  I can't believe I just wrote those words, but it is true.  Within 5 minutes of popping that baby in his mouth, he was asleep and catching up on 4 days of little sleep.  And the whole house caught up on sleep as well.  And honestly?  Pure Bliss. Relief.  Joy.  Happiness has returned to our household.  Praise the Lord for the binky!!! :)  Do I regret it?  No.  I figure- it is not hurting anyone and he will not have it forever.  Next time around, we will do the more gradual approach.  For now, we're enjoying long naps and easy bedtimes again.

So, let me back up a bit....

Saturday begin with me waking up at 5:30 freaking A.M. to go help out at the Pregnancy Help Center's Walk for Life.  (I don't really use words like freaking, but only certain words can convey the pain of waking up on a Saturday that early).  Anyway, I headed down to the beach to oversee the registration for the Walk for Life, and it was BEAUTIFUL outside.  I don't know how many people exactly showed up, but usually the number is around 250.  I was interviewed by an online news station but I can't remember what it is.  What a privilege to join together with so many people to celebrate life and help other mothers and babies in need.

After the walk, I rushed home for Micah's preschool Open House.  They performed some songs for us and they were so cute!!

Saturday afternoon we celebrated the new binky.

Saturday evening we had front row seats to "Animal Planet - LIVE" which occurred in our very own front yard!!  Not really, but it was close.  We saw our cat catch a small bird, throw it around to play with it, find it after we took it away from him, kill it, play with it again, and then we watched a crow come and pick up the dead bird and take it to someone's roof and pick it apart.  Disgusting.

Just thought you all might want to know all about our exciting Saturday! :)  Stay tuned for next week's version of "Crazy Saturday Stories!"