Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving

This week was...well, interesting, to say the least... Micah had his little Thanksgiving party on Tuesday at school. All the kids in his preschool came out with little pilgrim and Indian hats on and sang a few songs, and then had a Thanksgiving meal together. They were so cute! But we noticed that Micah looked like he was not feeling well; he looked like he would fall over at any minute, and his eyes were half closed. We ended up having to take him home early because he was definitely sick. So, Jaden and Micah have been fighting off a head cold for a few days now.

Every holiday I think I have an idyllic picture in my head of what it should be - the kids waking up around 8am, running into our bedroom and jumping on the bed and us all laughing together, then having a leisurely breakfast in our PJ's. This must have come from too many Folgers commercials growing up, I'm sure. Anyway, Thanksgiving morning our boys decided to start the morning off bright and early - 5:30am to be exact - and they went full speed ahead for the next few hours. Martin woke up with a bad sinus headache and a cold which I'm sure he caught from the boys. We drove to Martin's parents and tried to have a nice lunch together while the boys ran around and pushed away all food offered to them. We left around 6pm with 2 starving boys, and pulled off at about 5 exits to find a fast food place that would be open! Thank the Lord for Del Taco who saved the day :) At around 8pm we arrived at my parents' house, but I realized that I had left their house key at home and so we were locked out until they got back from their Thanksgiving feast. Thankfully we were able walk 4 houses down the street to observe Murrieta's version of the "Griswold Family Christmas Light Spectacular" - a house that has about a million lights all over it synched to music, complete with tours of the inside of the house and the backyard. It is wild! There were about 50 people watching it with us. My parents arrived soon after and we finally made it in the house.

We have discovered the past 2 nights that our boys no longer sleep well at other locations besides our house :) The first night Martin only got an hour and a half of sleep, and I got three hours, and last night we both averaged about three hours. It's been a rough week!

But... I'm still so incredibly thankful. For...
-Our health (after all, it could be so much worse)
-Our cozy home (that we are not foreclosing on since we are just renters) :)
-Martin's job (which pays the bills and he has not been laid off)
-Our dear friends (who are like family to us)
-Our family
-Our beautiful boys
and so much more...

I hope you had a wonderful, exciting, and adventurous Thanksgiving as well!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Jaden (18 Months)

Dear Jaden,
This week you turned 18 months old. I can hardly believe that at this time last year you were only 6 months old. We had just taken pictures for Christmas. Oh, the cuteness!!



And this is you now at our latest photo session, in which you smiled little but were full of energy!


So much has happened this year in your little life. Your personality is now showing and shining in full-force. You are a charmer, that’s for sure. We are sure you will one day be the class clown. Everything goes on your head, especially when you know it will get a good laugh.





You love to make people laugh. You wave at everyone walking by, and you follow every little girl on the playground. Their moms laugh, while I giggle embarrassingly knowing that you are following in your father’s footsteps ☺

(yes, that is drool!)

You love your big brother to death. Everything that Micah does, you want to do it to, only bigger. Micah goes down the slide, you do a little dance at the top and then run down it. He runs around the room to get us to laugh, then you do it too, followed by a dramatic fall to the floor for effect.

You are also quite the mommy’s boy. You love to cuddle, and while daddy can rock you then put you back down in your crib, you’ll have none of that from me. You want me to hold you all night long, and the minute you feel me getting up, you hold on tighter and start to cry. And oh, your sad, sad cry. It’s been described by others as “the saddest cry I’ve ever heard”. You are full of drama ☺



Right now you are really into the Wiggles, and ask for it all day long. “Weebles!” you say over and over. You copy their dance moves and do a little jig when I put it on. You, just like your brother, love drum sticks. You want to take them everywhere so you can drum to the beat wherever there is one. Every day you point to the CD player so I’ll put the music on for you. You also LOVE to play outside. Your vocabulary is at about 45 words now, and just to be sure, we counted. It’s pretty amazing hearing all these little words come out of your little mouth. This week you’ve mastered “No!” and “Mine!” What fun. You also love to say "shoosh" (juice, but it also means food), "ma" for Micah, "momo" for Elmo, and "oof" for food.

And oh, the binky. We’ve tried to wean you once but then you got sick and we gave in. It’s just so cute to hear your Maggie Simpson type “suck suck” and see your attachment to it. But in the next few months, it’s going. Just warning you now.


You are a lover boy, and you love me and your daddy with all your heart. But you really love Micah so much, too. He’s your buddy. You guys laugh and giggle all the time, especially first thing in the morning and right before bed. We know you’ll be great friends growing up.


(Here is Micah playing "Peek a Boo" with you when you both woke up from a nap):
video


We love you, our Jaden, our baby who is growing up so fast.

Mommy & Daddy

Monday, November 24, 2008

Everybody's Feeling It

The recession, that is. Everyone I know has been impacted in some way or another. All around us friends and family members are losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet. This week in our local paper there was an article that said that the LA Regional Food Bank has seen a 41% increase in households seeking assistance from last year. "Many of these are families who consider themselves solidly middle class, but factors have changed and they are now having to seek food assistance for the first time... We've got people coming here from all over, middle class people, asking us not to tell anybody they were here....Even people with advanced college degrees are seeking help." Read full article here.

Isn't it so sad that we feel like we must keep our needs a secret? We have been taught that it is shameful to ask for help, to admit that we are having a rough time. Yet if we all admitted our true needs to each other, and we all could pitch in to help one another with what we DO have, what a powerful church we would be. Recently some friends of ours were brave enough to share their burden, and some of us were able to pitch in and help. None of us are rich; we are all struggling, but we do what we can to help one another, because we are "family." We just have to be willing to share our needs (and our haves) with each other. We have to be willing to be real.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different for many people this year because of the economy, but it is also interesting that it is during times like this that we actually become MORE thankful for what we do have.

So, instead of rushing to all the great Christmas sales this year (and there are some good ones) and getting ourselves deeper into debt, I'm trying to be thankful for all that I already have, and realize there is really nothing more I "need". I'm trying to think of creative gifts to give and I'm going to post a separate blog on pocketwise about that today or tomorrow.

Today is also my 100th post! Corrina just posted her 101st post, which I thought was interesting too!! I feel "rewarded" in a way because this week I won a free I-Pod Nano through a blogging contest sponsored by A-1 Appliances. It was the first contest that I won through blogging, and I'm SO excited!! I do not have an I-Pod (although my hubby does) but have wanted one for some time. I chose the color red :) Have a great and thankful week!!

P.S. Watch this if you get a chance...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beware of the Bar

I just had to share this true story with you all, because it still baffles my mind!!! On Friday night we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and sat in their bar area for the half price appetizers (you should totally do it - you can eat a whole meal for about $6 a person!). Martin ordered a passionfruit iced tea, but instead was delivered a drink from the bar on accident. We both tasted it and concluded that it was not iced tea, and we saw one of the waiters notice that we had been delivered the drink that he had been waiting for. Our waiter came over and apologized for delivering the wrong drink, took it and gave it to the other waiter. He, in turn, took a drink of it to see what it was, then gave it back to the bartender. The bartender saw that the drink needed to be "topped off" since all 3 of us had taken a swig, so he FILLED IT TO THE TOP WITH SELTZER WATER, PUT THE USED STRAW BACK IN IT, AND SENT IT TO ANOTHER TABLE!!! In other words, the drink had been tasted by 3 different people, and the waiter knew that (the bartender only knew that the waiter had tasted it), and he sent it on its merry way to be consumed by yet a fourth person.

I was watching the whole charade and gasped when I saw this happen. But the funny thing was, a table in front of us with 4 women ALSO saw the entire thing happened, and they went nuts!! They called over the manager, told him the whole story and how disgusted they were, and he apologized profusely to them. We all watched as the manager had a little conference with the bartender and they both went back to work. Our waitress went to the table with the 4 women and they all told her what happened, and then she came to our table and I told her that I saw the same thing. We were all just appalled! I never asked to see the manager because it appeared it had been taken care of, but I did tell the four ladies "Great job!" We laughed about it for a few minutes and I told them I was waiting for Dateline NBC to pop out somewhere (I don't think they knew what I meant, but I was referring to Dateline's "What Would You Do?" segment that they run every so often). Anyway, I am thinking of writing to the company but am not sure if I should, because I don't want to make a big deal out of it... What do you think? :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

I've heard that saying two ways - "2 steps forward, 1 step back" or "1 step forward, 2 steps back". In our house this week, I feel the first statement is more true.

 Just over a month ago I blogged about our challenges with Micah talking back to us, etc...  But for some reason, he seems to have turned a corner these past two weeks.  He is obeying more, smiling and laughing more, and just more fun to be around.  It just reminds me of how often kids go through "seasons".  We can have weeks where they are driving us crazy, and then weeks where we can take a deep breath and enjoy them a little more :)   I have been able to take him on a few "mommy outings" with me where he behaved like an angel and I had a lot of fun with him.  

This morning we had a photo session at JcPenney photo studio for their Christmas pictures (yes, I know I'm a photographer, but you try to wrangle your kids and take their picture at the same time!) :)  Well, this morning was our turn to wrangle Jaden - he was out of control!  It was funny and hectic at the same time.  Jaden was just so excited to be there and look at all the props, he was throwing Christmas ornaments across the room like they were balls, running and falling down on purpose to get us to laugh, and wouldn't sit still for more than 2 seconds.  We have rarely seen him that, um, active!  The poor photographer was so incredibly patient but we ended up giving up.  The whole time Micah was being so obedient, saying "cheese" until his cheeks hurt, but Jaden was all over the place.  I was absolutely amazed at the end to see one perfect picture of them both smiling.  But it was funny - we only paid $9 for our whole package and the photographer was like "are you sure that's all you want?" I could tell she was thinking "After ALL that?!"  :)  

I'm just thankful that as the boys are getting older, month by month, we are slowly growing out of the toddler phase and into the more "manageable" phase, I guess.  Having 2 toddlers at once has been a challenge the past year, so now that Micah is a little older we can just relax a bit.  A BIT, I should say :)  Tomorrow is a new day... 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Strawberry Caper

I've been feeling so sad lately about Omar that it was good that I woke up and had a good laugh this morning. My boys have still not really adjusted to daylight-savings yet (and neither have I). Jaden is getting there, but Micah is waking up around 6am every morning. He used to wake up between 7-7:30. So he is usually up before us, tip-toeing around the house so we can't even hear him, until we hear the pantry cupboard close loudly or the fridge door close, and we know he's been up to something. This morning I kept hearing a "crinkling" type of sound and new he was into some sort of food. Sure enough, here were my clues...





(Hopefully you didn't notice how filthy the bottom of my fridge is. I'm adding that to my rarely gotten to "To-Do" list :)

1 entire pound of strawberries, eaten by a very happy 3 year old = priceless.



A boy who hasn't been entirely potty trained poop-wise = not fun. :) Sorry.
So, we have to do something about our early  morning scavenger.... not sure yet what that will be.

Here's a picture of Jaden, who loves wearing sunglasses. He wants to wear them all the time.


And when he can't find his sunglasses, no worries, Mr. Potato Head's will do just fine. Only they won't fit on his head, so he wears them on his neck. Jaden is always sure to give us a good laugh every day.



Oh, the joy of boys :)


Friday, November 7, 2008

My Heart is Broken

Tonight we went back to the hospital... we visited Jess and her baby, but we also really wanted to see Omar again. I cannot get him off of my mind. Now that I have met this precious little boy, I feel so compelled to help him, and a heavy responsibility.

I heard tonight that whatever the mother said happened to him was so horrific that the nurses do not want to even speak about it. But they only have the mother's story, and they are not sure if can should believe her. She is only allowed to see him for 2 hours a week, so there is obviously an investigation going on. All they really know for sure is that his head trauma was so severe that he lost all motor control and his ability to speak (he was also thought to be blind and deaf earlier, like I mentioned yesterday).

But what gripped my heart tonight more than anything was that he was crying and crying when we got there. The nurse said he was probably hungry (he was about to have his first real meal), but when she lifted him out of his crib, he just held onto her and buried his head into her chest. He just wanted to be held. That's all.... And I just wanted to cry all over again. He probably only gets held about 10 minutes a day. The rest of the time he just sits there in the crib, or gets out for physical therapy. Oh, my heart is breaking.

The nurse told us that they are really hoping to find him a home if only someone would take him in... and yet again, we were at a loss. Our home is too small for us to be approved for this. The foster home he is placed in will need to have a medical clearance as well. Please continue to pray for this sweet boy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Boy Named Omar

Today I went to the Children's Hospital in Long Beach to visit a friend whose baby may be having surgery there soon. She introduced me to the "baby" next door, who was sharing the room with her son. Omar is 23 months old and was admitted a month ago for Shaken Baby Syndrome. As I gently walked over to this boy's crib, which had thick padding covering each side, I was met by huge puppy-dog brown eyes staring back at me. He quietly laid there, soaking in the 3 pairs of eyes that were now looking back at him. Janet, Jessica and I smiled at him and reached our hands in to touch his still body. He responded immediately and smiled back at us. I couldn't hold back my tears as I looked at this helpless little boy who had been shaken by his father in a fit of anger and now lay in the hospital with brain damage and no control over his arms or legs. He had been there a month, and Jessica told us that when he was brought in, he had turned blind and deaf from the abuse. Previous to the "incident" he had been a healthy, happy, normal little boy who walked and talked. Jessica told us that in the last 2 days they started to see improvements in him, and he turned over in his crib and started to see people and respond to their voices.

What broke my heart was the thought of this little boy, all alone, who had been laying in this crib for an entire month. He doesn't understand where he is or why his father and mother are not around.  His mother only has one 2-hour monitored visit with him a week.  He sees strangers every day. He doesn't have toys to play with, and can barely see the TV from his bed when it is on. He is fed through an IV. Jessica said that she hears him crying sometimes in the middle of the night and she goes in, takes him out and holds him. This is in addition to caring for her own baby who barely sleeps through the night. Jessica told us that Social Services has been trying to place him in a foster home, but nobody will take him because he requires 24 hour care.

When I looked into this boys' face, I saw glimpses of Micah. Omar laughed when Jessica tickled him. He smiled when we played "peek-a-boo" through the slats in the crib. He wanted to get out and play, and he even tried to lift his head. I cannot tell you the depth of my heartache today. I just felt so helpless. Helpless to help this little baby who needed to be held and loved. It is obvious that he would begin to recover if he just had the right stimulation every day. I came home and told Martin about Omar, and he cried too. We both want to bring this boy home, but we know we can't. Even if we wanted to, our current living situation would not be approved by Social Services to take in another child. But I came home with just a burden in my heart to pray for Omar - that God would bring him a family, very soon. And I also feel so compelled that it is the church's responsibility to care for these children - to take them in when no one else will.

We are going to try to see him again tomorrow. I will try to take a picture of him if I can and post it soon. Please pray for Omar. These babies, these "orphans" if you will, are not in Romania or Europe or some far-off orphanage; they are in our own backyard. These things make us really think about what our calling is as Christians... Please hold your children a little tighter, love them a little stronger, and be patient with them when you are mad. One split decision in a fit of rage is all it takes, and we cannot think that we are exempt.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Our Halloween was a lot of fun. We took the boys to a Harvest party at a large church in our area where they had a whole section for 0-5 year olds. Micah dressed up as a Lighting McQueen racecar driver, and Jaden was a lion. After going to the party, we decided to go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, just to a few houses, but we ended up going down an entire block. The boys LOVED it. Micah had never been trick or treating before, and he got so excited when he discovered that saying those magic words meant that people gave him candy for free! He was skipping down the sidewalk, talking away, saying "please," "thank you" and "Happy Halloween." It was so cute. Jaden also loved people giving him candy and he had to hold a piece in his hand all night long (in the wrapper), squishing it. He never opened a piece to eat it; he just had to hold it. He walked right into 2 people's homes right when they opened the door. It was hilarious!

But last night, when we were so happy because we thought we'd have another hour of sleep (due to daylight savings), but Micah woke up at 1am and was up for almost 4 HOURS! We heard him in the monitor saying "Go away! Go away!" and Martin went in and put him back to sleep. Then we heard him walking around the house in the dark, which was really creepy. We went and put him to sleep again. Then we heard him get up again and go hide in this little space next to the heater. He was really freaking us out at that point. I brought him in our bed and said "Did you have a nightmare?" Then it struck me that he didn't even know what a nightmare was! So I said "Are you afraid of the dark, Micah?" and he nodded. I said "What are you afraid of?" and he said "The spider in the web. Make it go outside." Then he talked for about 20 minutes about spiders, webs, pincherbugs, the dark, etc... We were trying to make sense of it all and figured he must have had a bad dream about a spider. This morning Martin remembered that when we had been trick-or-treating, someone had a GIANT spider hanging in a large web in their front yard. Martin had showed it to Micah and said "look at the big spider!" forgetting to tell him that it was not real. So Micah probably freaked out thinking that spider was REAL! Poor baby. Tonight he seems to be sleeping okay so we hope that he won't grow up now with a fear of big spiders!