Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Prayer Shawl

Three years ago tomorrow, my mother-in-law, Linda Evelyn Hubmeier, passed away. Although I know she is in God's loving and eternal care, this has been the greatest tragedy in my life.

She was the most faithful woman I know. Linda relied and trusted in Jesus - she was a great Christian example to follow. She loved her family with a passion. But this post is not about the wonderful person she was, because I can't do that justice in words. This post is about a gift she gave me after her death.

When Linda's cancer returned for what would be the final time, someone she knew knitted her a prayer shawl. With each stitch, this friend prayed for Linda. Of course, I don't know what the prayer was, but I imagine it was for comfort and healing. I remember how much she loved that beautiful cranberry-colored shawl, and she always had it nearby when we visited. She said she felt such warmth and caring when she wore it. She even joined a Prayer Shawl Ministry at church, so she could provide this same comfort for others.

During this time, Chris and I were in the middle of our struggle with infertility. When Linda died, I felt such great pain. Of course, I mourned the loss of this beautiful person who I loved deeply. But I also mourned that she would never know our children. I know how much she wanted to meet them. She once told me "I'm on my knees, praying for you." And she certainly was, probably more than I realize.

Months after her death, Chris and I had been through many failed IUI attempts. Our doctor recommended we move on to other technologies, and together we decided on IVF. I have to tell you, at this point I was hopeless. I knew, without a doubt, that I would not get pregnant. I was tired and I was scared, but we plodded on.

IVF is a complicated procedure. Chris gave me injections so my body would produce a lot of eggs. Our doctors removed the eggs while I was under anesthesia, and fertilized them with Chris' sperm. After a few days, they put the embryos into my uterus, and then we waited. For two long weeks.

During the Two Week Wait, we traveled to Michigan for Shari and Luke's wedding shower. It was a fabulous day to celebrate their love, and it was also my 30th birthday. Sometime late in the afternoon, a group from my in-law's church asked to speak to Chris and me. I was actually nervous. It sounds crazy to me now, but IVF is so controversial and I was afraid they wanted to talk to us about that. But in reality, God was about to intervene and comfort us.

They presented us with a beautiful shawl. While it was wrapped around my shoulders, the group explained that Linda had begun knitting this shawl when she was sick, but passed away before she could finish it. She didn't have a recipient in mind, she only knew she would give it to someone who needed it. I know she prayed so much love into that shawl. Each stitch is a beautiful, loving prayer to our God. After her death, another member from church finished knitting the shawl. Then the "Prayer Shawl Ministry" kept it until they could find the right person to have it.

And that person was me. As they wrapped the shawl around me, I burst into tears. I could feel so much love from Linda, and I had the first glimmer that Chris and I would be okay. The group prayed with us and I let my heart feel hope. I wore the shawl for days.

Four days later, I found out I was pregnant with Evie.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Batteries, Okay?

We just spent today unpacking and cleaning, but Evie has been cracking me up all day.

First, she discovered a "new" toy I bought early last week at Once Upon a Child. The toy is a Leap Frog See and Learn Driver, and it came without batteries. Evie curiously turned the steering wheel a few times, but obviously nothing happened. I explained to her that we had to go upstairs and put batteries in for the toy to work. We unscrewed the back and popped them in. Evie was thrilled to steer and shift, and she loves turning the key. But most of all, she loved discovering a new word, "batteries!" All day, she would point to the toy and say "Batteries!" When Chris came home, the first thing she showed him was the back of the toy, where we put the batteries. If only I had known this for our trip, it could have occupied her for the entire drive.

The other funny thing she is doing is responding to "Okay?" I'll say "We have to go in the kitchen for your juice, okay?" or "Let's go out and check the mail, okay?" She responds with "Kay!" I find myself ending a sentence with "Okay?" just to hear her little voice agree with me. This "Kay!" addition to her vocabulary is much better than the "No!" we are used to.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My First Meme

My house is a wreck. I should be unpacking from our trip, but Jen tagged me for my first Meme. This sounds more fun than going through suitcases or cleaning up the toys all over the living room floor.

Here are the rules:
- List the rules on your blog. (Done!)
- Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.
- Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

Seven Things About Me:

1. I worry constantly. I think it's because I realize how great my life is. I'm married to the love of my life, who is my best friend. I have a beautiful daughter, who is the light of my life, and I am blessed to be able to stay home with her everyday. My mom, sisters, dad, brother and in-laws are a loving family. I have a nice house in a great neighborhood. I have wonderful friends. I have enough food in my belly. Okay, more than enough food in my belly. I am afraid at any second, it could all be taken away. That's why I worry.

2. I am addicted to e-mail. Now that I stay home, I don't get many important messages, but I check them at least ten times a day.

3. I love "tween" movies. If it's on Disney, I will watch it. My sister and I even saw Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement in the theater. Come on, it is about a normal girl who is a princess, and it stars JULIE ANDREWS. What's not to like?

4. I have a spectacular recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookies. I am being modest here. They are really the best sugar cookies you will ever taste.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. butter, softened
3 c. white sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
5 c. all-purpose flower
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
zest of one lemon

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flower, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on surface dusted with powdered sugar. Use as much powdered sugar as needed to keep from sticking to rolling pin. Dough should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes and place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.

Bake 6-8 minutes in oven. Cool completely on wire racks before icing.

5. I can't stick with a hobby. I have taken stained glass, calligraphy, and cake decorating courses. I have knit and embroidered. I go hog-wild and purchase every supply you could possibly need, and then it sits in my basement.

6. I believe in my whole heart that Jesus has chosen me. Here's my brief summary: God expects us to follow his commandments. He has written them on our hearts, and even gave them to Moses. But we are sinful and can't keep His rules. Like any parent, God can't just turn a blind eye when his children disobey. If He did, the rules wouldn't mean anything. Because He loves us, He sent Jesus to us. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. When He died on the cross, he suffered not for His own sins, but for MY sins. He bore my punishment, He took my place. When God sees me now, He sees only the perfect life Jesus lived. I don't have to do anything to earn His love, because Jesus did it for me. Amen!

7. My favorite song in the entire world right now is Surf's Up, Ho Daddy by The Backyardigans.

I don't know seven bloggers, so I apologize for breaking the rules on my first Meme. I am tagging Kristy, Kelsey, Ashton, and Stephanie. I would tag Dooce, but I think she's probably busy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dreaming

Each time we travel, I want to move.

When we were in Paris, I imagined myself (chicly dressed, of course) walking down the street eating croissants. And smoking a lot. How else can the women stay so thin when they eat croissants? Chris and I would have a tiny apartment in the Latin Quarter, and we would always keep our windows open. The breeze would blow our curtains and we would catch glimpses now and then of the charming street performers.

In Playa del Carmen, I wanted a little house by the beach. I could walk barefoot in town, and my hair would be perfectly messy from the salty ocean. We would learn to scuba dive and be perpetually tan.

In New York, I wanted to hurry along dressed in black and wearing shoes that hurt my feet. Chris and I would live in an apartment by Central Park, and I would write a novel. I would never eat, but I would drink at all the trendy clubs.

In Tuscany, I wanted to buy an old villa and renovate it. We could open a bed and breakfast and a little restaurant that serves dinner. We would learn how to cook fabulous food and get a big dog to roam the property with us. We would speak Italian with ease and drink lots of espresso. I would buy some of those pants Italian women have that make your butt look great.

In Venice I dreamed about living in one of the palaces on the Grand Canal. I would take the vaporetti to the fancy little shop I own that sells treasures from Murano. I would learn to like their unusual seafood dishes and Chris and I would drink Chianti Classico in Piazza San Marco once a week. I would buy oranges from outdoor markets to remember my grandparents.

This past week, I loved the slow pace and beauty of Marysville, Ohio. It's a farming community, but there is something quaint in the thought of living there. Evie could grow up with down-to-Earth, good Christian people. We would plant a garden and can fruit from the trees in our backyard. Evie could raise bunnies to show at the county fair. Chris and I would drink sweet tea on our big porch in the summer. I would join the Ladies Quilting Group at church.

I love these dreams, but I'm always happy to pull up into my own driveway when we get home. It's a relief to see my home, and to just be myself.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Utopia in Ohio


We made it to Ohio, safe and sound. Thanks to The Backyardigans, our trip was fairly easy.

We've had a great time visiting family. It is so fun to see Evie interacting with her aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grandpa.

The "country life" is so appealing. Evie is a suburban girl, but she loves it here. Tonight, we went for a walk in Aunt Shari and Uncle Luke's backyard. We picked green grapes right from the vine, which Evie HAD to try, and promptly spit out! They also have lots of fruit trees, so we picked baby apples and beautiful miniature pears. All were unripe at this time of year, of course, but the girls ate a few bites anyway. We also discovered a pecan tree, and Daddy cracked the thick green outer hull open with a hatchet!

We're off to the County Fair tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday



I'm posting early, since we'll be on our way to Ohio early tomorrow morning. Happy Wordless Wednesday, everyone!

Meatless Meals - Cuban Black Beans

Sunday was my second attempt at a meatless meal, and I originally thought it was a dismal failure. First of all, Chris hates beans and this was my second BEAN meal in two weeks. I know there are plenty of other "meatless" options, but this was a Weight Watchers recipe I've wanted to try for awhile. I served the beans over rice, with lots of Tabasco sauce. I thought it was okay, not spectacular. Chris, on the other hand, asked me not to make it again.

I complained to my mom, hoping she would take the beans so I didn't have to throw them away. Mom thought they would make great nachos, so we tried it the next day for lunch. WINNER! (It's great having a creative vegetarian for a mother!)

I layered a serving of tortilla chips on a plate. (I used the regular ones because I think the baked tortilla chips taste like Styrofoam.) I topped them with some black beans, a couple tablespoons of Cheeze Whiz, salsa, and jalapeños. They were excellent, and I figured only about 8 Weight Watchers Points.

Cuban Black Beans
1 pound dried black beans -- sorted and rinsed

1 cup onion -- chopped (1 large)

1 1/2 cups bell pepper -- chopped (1 large)

5 cloves garlic -- finely chopped

14 1/2 ounces diced tomatoes -- undrained (1 can)

5 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil -- (or vegetable oil)

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons jalapeño pepper -- finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves, whole


Combine all ingredients in a Crockpot. Cook on high for 6-8 hours. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with diced hard boiled egg, hot sauce, and/or diced red onion.

What is going on with the fonts on this post??? It is driving me crazy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Picture Perfect?


Last night, Chris and I were looking at pictures Joy uploaded to Phanfare. There were so many, and it was a lot of fun to take a peek into our past.

Then I saw this picture, and it made me depressed. It was taken only a few years ago at Easter. I am the one in front in pink. The sad thing is, I don't look a thing like this anymore. I had an "Ah-ha!" moment, but a sad one. I have really let myself go.

I stopped bleaching my hair blond, but the biggest difference is how much weight I have gained. I worked so hard to get where I was in this picture, and I can't believe how I have lost focus. Here is my list of excuses:

-My gym closed, and I just didn't like 24 Hour Fitness as much, so I stopped going.
-Years of dealing with infertility made me depressed. I felt better when I ate.
-IVF drugs make you gain about 12 pounds, on average.
-Dibs Bite Sized Ice Cream Snacks were my reward after the Progesterone in Oil shots.
-I got pregnant with Evie.
-Due to Evie's milk and soy protein intolerance, I had to cut all dairy and soy from my diet. Reading food labels was hard enough. I was not about to count calories.

The excuses above were a crutch to get complacent and lazy. I am D-O-N-E with them!

It's not all about how I look, although that is a big factor. I also want to feel healthier and to set a good example for my daughter. So today I am getting serious about eating better and exercising. I have a wedding to attend September 12th, and my goal is to lose 10 pounds by then.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Evidence

While Evie and I were snuggling in bed this morning, we had the following "conversation." It gives me yet another clue that she is growing up.

Me: Evie, you are Mommy's sweet baby girl!
Evie: (Pointing to herself, insistent) Girl!
Me: Oh! Evie, are you a baby or a girl?
Evie: (Proudly) Girl!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eighteen Months


Sweet Evie,

You are eighteen months old today. As I write this, you are rolling around on the floor playing with Daddy. He is your best and favorite toy.

I can't believe you are a year and a half old. You are as close to one as you are to two. It doesn't seem like it's been very long since your first birthday party, but you are growing up!

Yesterday at the doctor, I finally saw 20 pounds on the scale! I was so excited! For some reason I think 20 pounds is a milestone mark - I feel like you're safer now that you're a reasonable weight. Silly, huh? You love to eat, so I know you're doing well without even seeing the numbers. Although you hate milk, you enjoy eating edamame, sunflower seeds, blueberries, bacon, plums, beans, eggs, and yes, apple juice.

You continue to be fascinated, obsessed, with turtles. I had no idea there were so many turtles on this Earth. They are in backyards as sandboxes, on your toothpaste tube, on a puzzle we walked by at Sam's Club. You have an eye for them. Sometimes you say "Turtle!" and I look around, certain you are just saying the word for fun. And then I see it - on a sticker or backpack or book or cup.

You are also obsessed with the computer. You talk to Grandpa on the webcam, and you must think he's there all the time. Ten times a day, you point to the computer and ask "Ga-Pa?" He's been on vacation the past week, so you haven't gotten your "fix" lately. You climb up on the chair anyway, and push buttons on the keyboard or play with the mouse. It must be something about grandparents and electronics, because you still L-O-V-E to talk to GaGa on the cell phone.

Since the Fourth of July, you have been scared of loud noises. Anything can set you off, and you scramble into my lap. You are truly terrified. Something like the sound of a lawnmower or the closet door sliding is enough to frighten you. Daddy and I are understanding, trying to comfort you.

You have become much better about sharing at the pool. There is a little boy, Gabriel, who is there often. The two of you have become "sharing friends." You let him play with your toys and share your gummy fruit. I've also seen you take toys over to other kids, and you always clap for yourself. I really encourage this behavior, "Evie, you are sharing so well!" You also want to "swim," without our help, at the pool. Daddy is much better at this than I, since it scares me. You try to kick your feet, and often end up getting water in your nose. It doesn't bother you a bit! I let you walk around and jump in the water, hoping it will tire you out!

You are a good helper at home. When I vacuum, you get out your toy vacuum and work alongside me. You wipe the table and floor with wet paper towels, and you're learning to put your toys away. Speaking of toys, you recently learned to ride your car forward! It's such an accomplishment, and you prefer it to going backward as you used to do.

Your vocabulary is growing so quickly. I am amazed at how you communicate with us. You say "Ouch!" so Daddy kisses you, and you get a lot of attention from strangers when you say "Hi!" and wave to them. You also love to point out babies to me, as if to let me know how much you have grown yourself. Your new favorite word is "No!" You know what you don't want, and you know what you want, only you can't always tell me what it is!

You are just the sweetest girl. Each morning, we cuddle in bed when you wake up. It melts my heart to snuggle and hold you. You give lots of kisses. I am so thankful to God for you. We prayed so long for you, and I can't believe you've already been ours for a YEAR AND A HALF!

Love, Mommy

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tonsillits - and a Milestone

Tuesday, Evie slept through the night. She went to bed at 8:30 pm and we didn't hear a peep from her till 7:00 the next morning. Same thing on Wednesday. I started thinking "This might be it!" I've heard so many people say "At 8 months/13 months/17 months/18 months my daughter just started sleeping through the night." Could it be? No, because poor Evie is sick.

She woke up this morning at 4:00 am and was burning with fever. It took until 6:00 to get her settled back down. After she woke for good, I took her temperature. It was mild for a toddler - 100 degrees. It's actually such a low fever that parents usually take a "wait and see" approach. But in our case, it was Friday and I didn't want to go the weekend without being able to see our doctor. We're also driving 500 miles Wednesday, so I wanted to catch this thing early.

We had a 3:45 appointment this afternoon. As soon as we pulled up to the doctor's office, Evie started saying "Nooo! Nooo! Nooo!" She must associate it with sickness and shots! And she was so cautious inside. Dr. Hartman listened to her breathe and checked her ears. Whew! They looked good. Then she checked her throat - and it was screaming red. To test for strep, she had to swab Evie's throat, which cost her all the trust she had built up with my little one.

Fortunately, the strep test came back negative. Evie just has her first case of tonsillitis, which sounds a lot worse than it really is. Basically, she just has a virus that's given her a sore throat. Three or four days of Motrin and extra attention from Mommy and Daddy will cure her, all in time for our trip.

So I'm thankful she just has a mild illness, and Evie is thankful for the Popsicles and ice cream she'll be eating over the next few days. Keep her in your prayers!

Oh yeah, she hit the 20 lb. mark at her visit! I am the proud mother of a 20 lb., 2 oz. butterball. Still growing right along the 3% curve, so all is well.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Newest Member of the Sushi Club

Chris had to attend Traffic Court this afternoon, so he took the day off with us. We were starving for sushi and decided to visit Nippon Tei, our favorite restaurant. We took along Evie's sushi play set and sushi book to keep her busy before the food came.

Evie has been to Nippon Tei many times before. But she's never had sushi, only mashed rice and avocado. Today we introduced her to this magnificent cuisine, and let me tell you, she is a big fan.

We started out with wakame salad, and Evie didn't hesitate to dig right in. She was determined to use chopsticks, and refused all help we offered. I was amazed at her dexterity. She used one chopstick to scoop up a few strands of seaweed at a time, and managed to slurp them into her mouth. She did allow a spoon for the white rice, which she gobbled up like a starving child. She probably was starving, too, because for every bite of rice that made it to her mouth there was another that fell to the floor.

Then I made a mistake. Our meals came with miso soup and a big, flat spoon with high sides. That kind of spoon should be easy for a baby to use, right? WRONG! She kept tilting the spoon back and the soup dribbled down her hand. And she refused to let me help. The worst part was once she had a taste for the soup, she wanted more. Frustrating, huh? You love the food, but can't get the utensil to work so you can eat it. There was whining and a little crying, and then a lot of crying when I took it away.

I distracted her with the rice again, and it kept her occupied until the sushi came. A LOT of sushi... We are regular patrons at Nippon Tei so the chef sent double of some items, on the house. Double the egg tamago, double the spicy tuna hand rolls, and double the California rolls. We also had vegetable tempura, which added to the gluttony.

Evie loved the egg tamago - she shoveled it into her mouth like nothing I've seen. I swear, her fist was so full of egg that I couldn't believe it fit into her mouth! She ate and ate and ate! She ate egg tamago. She ate avocado roll. She ate green beans and asparagus that she dipped into the sauce that came with the tempura. She couldn't get enough of the tempura sauce! She licked it from the veggies, dipped her chopsticks in, and finally stuck her fingers in it. She even let me feed it to her from the dreaded miso soup spoon!

Chris and I finished eating long before Evie's tummy pooched out and made her stop feasting. Two women a few tables over laughed and said "I hope you know this is a Kodak moment." Yes, yes we do.

P.S. Chris' tickets were dismissed. We only have to pay court costs. He came home and said "I fought the law, and I won!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

EVIE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!

Thank you, Jesus, for hearing my prayers!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday



** 08/01 ** Added for the 5 Minutes for Mom Summer Fun Photo Contest. Click over if you'd like to have a chance to win $500, too!

It's not summer until you've purchased ice cream from a truck! I'm entering the bottom photo. As you can see, Evie is really enjoying her watermelon pop! It's almost as big as her!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meatless Meals - Bean Burritos



My mother has been a vegetarian for over thirty years, so I'm well aware of the ethical implications of eating meat. When you think long and hard about eating meat, it's so... gross. But the smell of bacon frying can do a lot to get my mind off the moral issues.

I recently read something interesting in O, The Oprah Magazine. According to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, the livestock industry accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Animal waste, pesticides, hormones, and fertilizers pollute water resources. Livestock, and the farm acreage devoted to feeding them, occupy 30 percent of the earth's land surface. thedailygreen.com reports that meat production causes more environmental harm than any other food, and recommends scaling back on meat consumption. In fact, they list it as one of their Six Biggest Eco-Choices.

Well, green is the new black, so I'm going to give it a try. I've decided to make one meal each week "meatless." I'm not going crazy and cutting out dairy or anything, just meat, poultry and fish. And just for one meal.

Tonight I made bean burritos. My mom used to make them when I was a kid, and I love them. They are easy to prepare, inexpensive, and meatless! They require a tiny bit of prep the night before, but it's well worth it.

Bean Burritos
1 lb. dried pinto beans
1 packet taco seasoning
1 1/2 c. chunky salsa
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
flour tortillas
Condiments of your choice - sour cream, jalapeños, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, avacado, salsa, black olives

Rinse beans and pick out any discolored beans or pebbles. (I have yet to find a rock in a bag of beans.) Put beans into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak overnight. (The beans will really plump up, so use a big bowl or they can overflow.)

In the morning, rinse the beans again. Cover with water and let soak for the afternoon. Rinse again, and place in large stock pot. Cover with water, about an inch over beans. Bring to a boil and simmer about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If beans look dry during cooking time, add a little more water.)

Mash beans with taco seasoning and 1 cup of the salsa. When beans are mashed to desired consistency, stir in cheese one cup at a time. The cheese will melt into the beans. Stir in remaining half cup of salsa.

Serve on tortillas with condiments above.

Evie said "Mmmmm!" As you can see from the photos above, they are "kid-tested, mother-approved!"

Sunday, July 13, 2008

There Was a Little Girl

This poem, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sums up Evie over the past week.

There Was a Little Girl
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Evie is the best thing ever to happen to us. She is so much fun lately! Just yesterday, she was running around with a towel draped over her head, laughing hysterically like it was the funniest thing in the world. I love to watch her when she hears an airplane overhead. She looks up, scanning the sky until she locates the plane. Then she reaches her little hand to the heavens and says "Bye, bye airplane." She is very loving to Murphy, petting her and cooing whenever she has the chance. (If only Murphy returned the affection.) She gets so excited about things, like driving to the pool. She is even happy just putting her shoes on. Life is good with her. When she is good, she is very good indeed.

But something about her changes when the sun goes down. I have written about her troubles sleeping, and things have gotten worse. For the past week, we've really been struggling. Evie wakes up and nurses right back to sleep. I carry her into her room, put her in her crib, make sure she's settled, and leave. Only, she's messing with me! As soon as I drift into dreamland myself, I hear it: "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

At first, I rushed back in, settled her to sleep again, and got back in bed myself. But the cycle continued, and Evie woke back up. It would take three or four very painful tries before she was down for good. And she's been doing this several times each night. I'm embarrassed to admit I've been doing quite a bit of yelling at her in the middle of the night, which I'm sure can't help her sleeping situation.

A few nights ago, I decided I would nurse her back to sleep, but let her cry a bit if she woke up after I left her room. Of course, she did, and I just closed our bedroom door so it didn't wake Chris. After about four or five minutes, Evie fell asleep! YAHOO! Friday night, she only woke up once. I was ready to sigh with relief, sure she was back on her normal schedule.

But when she is bad, she is horrid. Last night was unbearable. She woke up at midnight, and I brought her into our room for a nursing session. She fell asleep easily and I laid her back in her crib. But less than ten minutes later, she was up calling for me. I closed my bedroom door and prayed to God to help us through this. Even though the sound was muffled, I heard her cries escalating. After fifteen minutes, she was sobbing so hard we thought she was going to vomit. I went into her room and rocked her back to sleep. When I tiptoed away, I heard a sad little "Mommy?" I rocked her again. Eventually, I took her into our room to sleep.

It didn't end there, though. For an hour and a half, she tossed and turned in our bed. I dozed a bit, but never made it into a deep sleep. I kept threatening Evie to be still or she had to go in her own bed. Finally I took her to her room. She pointed to the rocking chair, but I was having none of it! I told her I loved her, and left the room. Instant wailing! Chris and I debated about what to do. PLEASE, WHAT DO WE DO? Her cries were hoarse by now, and we took pity on her and brought her back into our bed. After a total of four LONG hours, she fell asleep. It was 4:00 AM. She stole my pillow, but she was sleeping.

What could be causing this? Teething is about the only thing I can think of, so I gave her Motrin before bed. I am nervous about what tonight will bring. I hope and pray it brings a little rest to all of us.

If you have any advice, I sure could use it about now.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dinner Prayers

Since Evie has been eating solid food, we have had family dinners. We gather around the table, every single night, and have dinner together. Before we eat, we pray.

Come, Lord Jesus,
Be our guest.
Let these gifts
To us be blessed.

Evie has be oblivious to the prayer until recently. In the past few weeks, she's really taken an interest. Now she bows her head, folds her hands, flutters her eyes, and mumbles her own version while we pray. After we finish, she says "More!" She will pray and pray and pray until I finally tell her "All done! No more prayers!"

The funniest thing is asking Evie to close her eyes when we pray. She closes them, barely, and tilts her head to take a peek! She absolutely thinks she's fooling us! And I love that she prays out loud, too. I can't understand the baby talk, but she thinks she is participating, and that's what is important anyway.

I am so happy she prays with us. This is the start of something good!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Babies and Kids

There are times in your life when a realization hits you full force. One day years ago, I was shopping on my lunch break for something to wear on a date with Chris. Out of nowhere, I just thought "I'm a real grown-up! Here I am, getting ready for a date with the man I'm going to marry." It was a terrific moment, but I still remember how struck I was by this realization.

This happened to me yesterday with Evie. We met our friends Jackie, George, and Henry for lunch at Chick-fil-A. After we ate, we headed to the kid's play area. It's really perfect for an indoor restaurant because it has a special section for babies. You can push buttons and animals make sounds and talk to you. You can "drive" with fake steering wheels and push wooden cars along a track on the wall. But after we were there a few minutes, Evie was more focused on what the big kids were doing.

In the big kid section, there's a great big spiral staircase that leads to a labyrinth of overhead tunnels. They wind around and one part eventually leads to a slide. Evie started up the stairs. The steps are a challenge for her since she is still pretty short. She pulled and climbed her way up a couple stairs, and I kept waiting for her to turn around and come back down. Up, up, up she went until she was at the top! I couldn't believe it! I was sure once she reached the tunnels she would make her way back, but she continued to surprise me. She let out a little squeal of excitement and disappeared into the tunnels.

What should I do? My mind told me she was certainly too little to be up there on her own. I frantically tried to catch a glimpse of her. Okay, I saw her little head through a window. There she was again looking out of another section. I lost my view of her, but I heard another kid say "Excuse me, Baby." I thought she must be okay since I hadn't heard a cry for help, but I still wanted to see her. Oh, there she was again, zipping by! I heard the pitter-patter of her quick footsteps. Then I heard her laugh and a second later, I couldn't see her. I sent George up to look for her, and he reported that she was fine. I began to settle down. I finally sat on the bench with the rest of the parents and waited.

I've known for awhile that Evie is a mix of baby and kid. For a long time, though, she was mostly baby and just a little bit of kid. Sitting on that bench, it suddenly hit me. Now Evie is mostly kid and just a little bit of baby. I was so surprised by this realization! She is a walking, talking, playing-on-the-big-kid-toys KID! Her hair is growing longer and her feet are growing bigger. She is getting taller and smarter and faster.

A few minutes later, she came barreling down the slide with a huge smile plastered on her face. She ran to me, laughing, for a hug. Then she climbed right back up those stairs for another turn in the big kid tunnels, not even giving a second glance to the baby section.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cuddles Louise


Yesterday, Evie and I spent the morning at Build a Bear. I hadn't been there since I made a bear for my nephew Jake when he was born. I have to admit that at the time, I wasn't interested in MAKING the bear. I just wanted something cute, and I could record a personal message in the bear, so there I was. I didn't get the whole bear-making "thing."

Turns out, bear-making is a great mommy-daughter activity! First, you choose your bear. This sounds easier than it really is. They have all kinds of bears, but they have other characters like bunnies and dogs and cats and elephants and TURTLES. Good God, I never knew how many turtles there were in this world until Evie. Of course she wanted the turtle. I am SICK TO DEATH of turtles. What happens when she grows out of this phase and no longer wants these creatures? (Can you picture the garage sale sign? "GIANT one-family garage sale. Biggest selection of used turtles in the Midwest.) So I didn't let her get it.

Now, I write that with a bit of guilt. I went in thinking I would let her do all the choosing. But I just couldn't leave with another turtle, so I offered a few suggestions of my own. She said "No," to a few, but then she hugged the Read Teddy. We have a winner!

Next we made our way to a big machine full of bear stuffing. A Worker Bear (I made that up, I don't know her title,) hooked our bear up to the machine and stuffed it. She gave it to Evie for a hug to make sure it was "just right." Before she sewed up the back, we pressed a button and all these little stuffed hearts fluttered up like confetti. Evie chose a heart, kissed it, and stuffed it in the bear. What next? Yep, "More!" This special bear is very loving, having THREE hearts and all!

Now that our bear was whole, we took her to the spa, where Evie had a great time brushing her. A long, great time. Then we were on to the fun part - clothes shopping for our bear! You would not believe the outfits to choose from. Evie could not have cared less about the clothes - she went for the shoes! The flip-flops made her whine and I was afraid the little pink clogs would fall off and get lost. We ended up with a pair of pink ballet flats that we both liked, and a pink bubble dress that matched. The dress is soft, which is good when Evie cuddles up with the bear.

Speaking of cuddles, we had to name the bear. Of course, Evie can't choose a name, but I picked Cuddles because I think Evie will be able to pronounce it soon. And Louise just seems to go with Cuddles, right? We put Cuddles Louise on the birth certificate. I'm not kidding, our bear has a birth certificate. (I wonder how we get her a Social Security Number?) Her height (17 inches) and weight (10 ounces) also went on the certificate. Cuddles is also registered in the Find-A-Bear tracking system, in case she's lost. This is one high-tech teddy bear!

That was it! We paid, and left with Cuddles Louise (and a special brush for her fur) in a Cub Condo Carrying Case. Evie loves Cuddles, and our dog Murphy just wants to eat her. Sibling rivalry?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Backyardigans


Evie is in love with The Backyardigans.

Chris and I let her watch an episode once on a plane trip to Atlanta to visit Aunt Joy. She really liked it, squealing and dancing around. But Evie doesn't watch too much TV (maybe an hour total in her entire life,) so I'm sure she forgot about it and never thought of the show after we got off the plane.

And now we are planning a trip to Ohio at the end of the month. (I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE EVERYONE!!!) We're driving, which makes me nervous. You see, Evie is a terrible car passenger. When she was younger, she cried every time we had her in the car. I'm not exaggerating - EVERY time. Not just whining, but the all-out screaming, sobbing, choking kind of cry. I would get a stomach ache just planning dinner out, because I knew what we would endure on the way to eat and the way back home. When she turned a year old, it's like a switch flipped. The crying has stopped, for the most part. Every once in a while, usually at night if she's tired, Evie still cries. Still, I think she just probably exhibits typical toddler behavior, for which I'm relieved.

But I'm nervous about such a long drive. I'm racking my brain trying to think of things to make the trip easier. I need snacks, books, toys, and yes - DVDs! This is where The Backyardigans have made their way back into our lives. Last week I began to Tivo episodes, and we'll record them to a DVD for the drive.

Today I decided to see if Evie was still charmed by Uniqua and her friends. The episode began, and The Backyardigans began singing and dancing to their theme song. So did Evie! She even tried to mimic some of their dance moves, in a very Elaine Benes kind of way. After the song ended, the show began, but Evie yelled "More!" She liked the dancing! I fast-forwarded to the next song, and Evie and I danced along till it ended. "More!" And another song and dance followed.

I thought this was hilarious, so I had Chris try tonight. Same results. Sing and dance, fast-forward, sing and dance. Chris ended up just playing the theme song over and over, so it is REALLY stuck in my head. Evie was mad at us when we turned it off.

It's a cute show, and I'm sure she'll enjoy it on the drive to Ohio. But how she will dance while strapped into her car seat?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Weight a Minute

I am obsessed with Evie's weight.

I wasn't always this crazed. She was small at birth (6lbs, 4oz) but her doctor reassured me that she was perfectly within the normal range. After we got her reflux and food intolerances in check, she nursed well and her weight went up, up, up. She made it all the way to the 25th percentile.

But then she started to slide. Looking back, I think it was because she crawled and walked on the early side of the curve. We also changed pediatricians about this time. Dr. Hartman mentioned that she was concerned that Evie was dropping on the charts. Now, she wasn't losing weight. She just wasn't growing along the same curve she had been. We took a "wait and see" approach. Dr. Hartman began to schedule us for weight checks every three weeks.

Then she was sick a few times. She had a terrible stomach virus ON THANKSGIVING DAY and an ear infection. The antibiotics made her have tummy problems, which was no help. At a few of her weight checks, she had actually lost weight. I was so upset that I cried right there in front of the scale! Dr. Hartman must have thought I was a nut! She started talking about Cystic Fibrosis (which Evie had already tested negative for when she had pneumonia.) I looked this up on the internet (always a reliable source of information,) and it mentioned you test children with Failure to Thrive for CF. FAILURE TO THRIVE??? She was walking before she was ten months old, she said "dog" before she was a year old. FAILURE TO THRIVE??? Oh, God -- I knew she was going to wither away.

Once she could eat dairy, I started putting butter on everything. I even let her eat it plain, if she wanted. I racked my brain trying to think of ways to add calories to her diet. Ranch dip? Check. Ice cream? Check. Chocolate? Check. She prefers asparagus or broccoli or blueberries, but she eats some of the high-calorie stuff too, probably just to make me happy.

And then Evie leveled off - just under the 3rd percentile. Dr. Hartman was satisfied that nothing was wrong with her, but she still wanted to keep an eye on things. Of course, I have never settled down. Daily, no wait, many times a day, I think about her weight. I hate it when a stranger comments about how tiny or petite or small she is. I feel like I have to justify it. "I feed her. I am a good mom, I swear!"

But lately I have met so many moms who also have petite children. They are at the grocery store and the pool. They all have stories about seeing Pediatric GIs or teams of nutritionists. The kids are getting older, and they are all just fine. Thriving, in fact.

So I'm starting to loosen up a little tiny bit. Evie is just small. She isn't sick. I'm not a bad mom. She's tiny. Tiny is cute. Maybe this will be good in the future if she wants to be a cheerleader or a gymnast. I'm not obsessing over everything she does or doesn't put in her mouth.

Now, I have to remember to add butter to the grocery list.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Boo-Boo Kisses

Evie never stops. She never even slows down. She runs full-speed through each day. The other day GaGa was over and she said "Evie, rest for a second. Take a breath." Evie kept going, up and down on the couch, 'round and 'round the living room, dragging book after book from the book bin and pushing her baby stroller through the kitchen. She didn't - couldn't - heed GaGa's advice. This is my daughter, and she gets this energy from her father.

This energy is bound to get her into a few scrapes, literally. She points out her boo-boos to me several times a day. Her knees are skinned up in multiple places from falling in the driveway. Her elbows are red. Even her big toe is scabbed because she slammed it in the door of the Cozy Coupe. She often confuses a freckle on her thigh with a boo-boo, and includes that in the mix too. She proudly shows them all off: "Boo-boo. Boo-boo. Boo-boo." She'll even point out your boo-boos if you let her.

The boo-boos are on permanent display because Evie is afraid of Band-Aids. I bought cute, colorful Dora Band-Aids but she's not interested. I think she associates them with shots in the doctor's office and she wants no part of them. So the boo-boos are showing all the time, and Evie can't help but tell you about them each time they catch her attention.

But I don't mind the endless boo-boo show because of the kisses. This is new. In the past few days, when Evie sees a boo-boo, she kisses it. She kisses the mosquito bite on my foot, and the scar Daddy has from when the cat scratched him. She kisses her own knees and her little freckle. It's the sweetest sight. I know I'm doing something right, because my tiny baby girl already knows that a kiss will make anything better.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

America's Birthday

You know how I love our neighborhood. Well, two days in particular really make it stand out each year - Independence Day and Halloween.

I've always loved our neighborhood on July 4th. We have a perfect view of the Ellisville fireworks at Bluebird Park, so the subdivision is jam-packed with visitors. People drag their lawn chairs into the middle of the street (I have even seen sofas in the road,) and we all watch the fireworks together. The house on the corner provides a beautiful soundtrack of patriotic music as part of the show.

This year, we had a block party with all our neighbors. We had brats and beer and lots of snacks. The kids played together all night, helped along by a giant sugar buzz. The guys played Hillbilly Golf, and I talked and had several margaritas. GaGa hung out with us, much to Evie's delight.

Evie did so well! She ate and played until around 8:00, when the first "pops" started. She was sleepy and the noise scared her, so she snuggled up with me. She fought sleep, but she eventually gave in. I held her and watched the beautiful display. Evie moved now and then, but she slept for the most part.

I guess she'll see her first fireworks display next year!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Grant's Farm



Yesterday we visited Grant's Farm with our friends Nicki, Carter, and Sabrina.

Grant's Farm is the ancestral home of the Busch family. It's a beautiful wildlife park that is home to over 1,000 animals. It's also the site of "Hardscrabble," a farm and cabin established by Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President. That's all for today's history lesson.

The day began with a tram ride through the Deer Park. We saw deer (of course,) buffalo, elk, and even sheep. We also passed by a few lakes and spotted beautiful Japanese Koi. The entire time, Evie would see an animal, and become frustrated when it was out of sight. She kept shouting "More!" She was especially attached to an elk walking close to the tram. She blew it kisses as we drove away!

When I was a child, we visited Grant's Farm and I remember feeding the pygmy goats. I was excited for Evie to do the same. We purchased little bottles of goat formula, and Nicki asked "Should we feed the goats from in the pen, or from outside?" I thought of the goats Evie had brushed at the zoo, and confidently said "Let's go inside. Evie's not afraid of goats."

Let me tell you, these pygmy goats are FOR SURE not related to the gentle zoo goats.

We pushed our way into the pen, past about ten goats trying to get OUT of the pen. (First clue.) Immediately, goats started jumping up on their hind legs, pawing at us with their hooves. (Second clue - why was I still in the pen at this point?) I was frightened! I swooped Evie into my arms. It was mayhem! More goats jumped up on us, their little hooves digging into my legs. Evie lost a shoe, and then the other. She dropped the bottle. Another goat started eating the hem of my skirt! I wasn't quite sure what to do - we were surrounded! Luckily, a guardian angel picked up the shoes and the bottle for me, and I ran as fast as I could from those goats! I was so relieved to get us out!

So we fed the goats from OUTSIDE the pen. The goats were greedily sticking their heads out, waiting for a bottle. Evie wasn't too sure of what to do. She would put the bottle by their mouths, but as soon as one began drinking, she would pull it away. I ended up "helping" her, as she whined because she wanted to do it herself. Guess what she said when the bottle was empty? Yep, "More!" We fed one more bottle to those tiny, ferocious goats. I swear those things are going to show up in my nightmares soon. They are THAT scary. Funny, I don't seem to remember that from my childhood visits. But Evie didn't seem to notice they were man-eating wild animals either, and really enjoyed feeding them breakfast.

There was much more to see after the goats. We got an up-close look at guinea pigs in their pen and tried to feed a few ducks. They were apathetic to the dried corn we threw towards them, like "Really? That's the best you can do? Been there, done that, no thanks." The ducks didn't move an inch. We spent a long time looking at giant tortoises that had to be at least 100 years old. We saw elephants and a parrot who talked and whistled.

AND THEN THERE IT WAS... A row of sprinklers mounted on poles, spraying a fine mist like a tunnel. Nicki, Sabrina, and Carter were far in front of us, since Evie insisted on walking by herself, no hand-holding, thank you very much. Evie and I walked through once. She came out with little drops of water clinging to her hair, like dew on a spider web. She ran squealing back to the other side. She ran through again, back to me. I tried to grab her, but she was off again, back through the mist. I called her. She dropped her sippy cup and ran to me. Argh! A nice man ran across and brought me the cup. As I tucked it into the diaper bag, Evie ran to the other side again. This time I went after her. I grabbed her and crossed again. When we made it to the other side, I noticed she had lost a shoe halfway across. I yelled "You have got to be kidding!" I think the nice man who had brought me the cup knew I was at my breaking point. He ran across, and tossed the shoe back at me. THANK YOU, NICE MAN! Evie and I were both soaking wet by now, although it felt good in the heat. I zipped away from those sprinklers, carrying a protesting Evie.

We eventually made it to the Clydesdale Stables and the beautiful Bauernhof courtyard for lunch. Lunch was nice, but I was so tired I didn't even try a complimentary Anheuser-Busch beer. It was hot and it was naptime, so we caught the next tram to the exit. We made a quick stop in the gift shop for a plush baby goat and yet another turtle. (The baby goat has made it into the bedtime entourage, too.)

Evie had a great time. For at least ten minutes, she waved "buh-buh" to the farm and her new animal friends. And I drove her far away from the man-eating pygmy goats.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mmmm... Doughnuts...




If yesterday was lazy, today more than made up for it!

GaGa, Nick & Chris, and Baby Julianna picked us up this morning for a day of fun! First, we visited Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. If you've never been inside, (and this was a first for me,) it's a pretty cool place. The entire doughnut-making operation is on display behind a big glass window. You see the dough being extruded into a hot oil "river." The doughnuts float along, and are flipped midway through so both sides cook evenly. They move from the oil to a conveyor belt, and under a curtain of icing. They come out glazed to perfection, and ride the conveyor belt a little longer to cool. Of course we had to sample some of the doughnuts - a warm original glazed Krispy Kreme is heaven on earth!

Happy from our doughnut binge, we headed to Suson Farm. We watched as a horse had his hoofs trimmed, caught the end of a cow-milking demonstration, saw new baby pigs, watched a peacock preening for a turkey, and looked at every imaginable kind of miniature horse. Evie liked the animals, but the highlight of her visit was pushing Julianna's stroller!

After a quick nap, we met Daddy at the pool. Evie is becoming such a little beach baby! She especially loves the lazy river. There is a special raft just for toddlers, with a regular opening for the parent and another opening with a closed bottom for the child. Evie is thrilled when we go under the waterfalls and the opening fills with water. She puts her head on one side, and lays back in the water. This peaceful scene lasts just a second or two before she's back to splashing Daddy!