Friday, September 8, 2017

Charlotte Ann is 1.5!!

Charlotte Annie turned 18 months old today!!


She is not quite walking independently yet but a few days ago took a few freestanding steps.  I started clapping and cheering as she did this which startled her and ended in her falling down but she got right back up and tried again!  She also has some push toys that help her to work her legs and practice standing and walking. She is really into music and books as well as shape sorters. Traveling-wise, we haven’t officially transferred her out of the carrier but are pretty close to it. She is still scooting and looks like a little hurdler on the ground due to not crawling as of yet. She loves getting into cabinets, closets, and cupboards now (sigh) and turning over the smaller trash cans. When the dishwasher is open, she tries to climb on the door of the dishwasher..! She has also been trying to open toilets too. Just tonight I caught her with her hands in the toilet merrily splashing the water.  It's a good thing that it was bath night! 

She is down to just a bottle in the morning (that she doesn’t always finish) and a nighttime bottle (sometimes requiring a second one). During the day she eats a combination of table food supplemented with the baby food. Recent favorites are grapes, pork, and asparagus (!!!).  We are still working on getting her to drink water and from a sippy cup. She hasn’t shown any interest in juice yet. She usually eats the following: 


breakfast: baby cereal and/or leftovers from the night before if there are any and morning bottle, lunch: fruit, 
afternoon snack: veggies, 
dinner: meat and veggies, 
night time snack: bottle. 

Sometimes we have to “trick” her to eat by giving her Cheerios between bites or mum mum crackers between bites. We’re not really on any sort of schedule with the feeding as we just feed her when she seems hungry. The other day, for instance, she slept in really late because of a late night of teething. So in that case, her breakfast was more like her lunch and then we just go on from there. 😉

Food-wise, she's starting to be more open to eating things that are cold vs. room temperature.  She will eat them once she gets over the temperature if needed. Her bottles don’t have to be totally warm anymore either. I have noticed on play dates and such that she might willingly eat others’ snacks (the other day she happily enjoyed munching on some puffs and almost had a graham cracker from one of the other children) so she may try to “borrow” food from the other kiddos when out and about..hey, sharing is caring!



So far, we’ve not seen any food allergy reactions in her. She says, “yum yum” or “neeyum” for food and milk (we think it’s because we said, “Mmm, it’s yummy, yummy in your tummy! Yum yum yum!” one too many times and now that is what she says for all food). Hehe. She has let us know she is hungry by doing that, whining, or just being fussy in general. If she sees others eating, that sometimes triggers her to want to eat too. She definitely lets us know when she’s done eating by saying no and turning her head away from the food. She is also in the messy eating stage. 😉   

Charlotte LOVES music and books. She sometimes likes being read to (she is growing in this area) but definitely likes flipping through them. She has already gotten her hands on some of the grown up books and torn them (oopsie).   She has become quite the expert at pulling things out of bags, off desks, out of boxes, stuffing things where they don't belong, flipping over the dog water bowl, sneaking bites of dog food, rummaging through the recyclable bins, climbing on chairs and changing beds, and loves to snuggle with a pile of pillows.  At the end of the summer, she started showing an interest in her dolls and likes to twirl them in the air and make them dance.  


In Adam's words, "she mostly faceplants", when she can no longer stay awake! I have tried to put her down in her crib during the day, or the pack and play, but she cries and fusses so will usually just play until she drops. She is somewhat unpredictable with the napping...the other day she squeezed out a half hour nap (again face first on the floor of the office after falling asleep on Adam) but yesterday didn't nap at all. So, really, it's anyone's guess what she will do regarding napping on a daily basis. She loves to be around people and at times will sit and just take things in observing her surroundings before starting to play with others or experiment with the toys.  🙂 However, when she's ready to conk out, sometimes she will come over and stand between our knees, put her head down on our lap, and say, "Marmie" or "Mayme"....I thought that was her word for me but then I noticed she says it to Adam too. He thinks she is saying, "Me, Me, it's about Me" when she does that. Who knows?! 


She hasn’t been doing real well with using the spoon (so at this point, I let her “feed” herself with the spoon on bath nights) since she usually ends up “decorating the dining room and herself” with her food. She sometimes eats more if I put the food on the tray of the high chair and she eats with her fingers/hands or if I sit on the floor with her and the pups and feed her that way.

On some days, she eats a lot with a full cup being eaten during a meal then other days, the same cup is spaced out over a couple sittings. She really loves eating the snacky types of food that we try to limit or use to “trick” her to eat the other food too (e.g., cheerios, teether wafers, puffs) but if she sees those items at the same time as the other food, she sometimes gets a one track mind and will only take the snack type of food. Just the other evening, she was more interested in eating my salad and then dipping her lettuce and tomato pieces into her baby food as if it were a type of sauce. As for the sippy cups…she occasionally will drink from them. I’ve tried different kinds of juice, pedialyte, water, and even milk in them but she doesn’t really show an interest. Yet, she loves sharing smoothies with us. The other morning, she drank a spinach, kale, tomato, fruit medley, and almond milk blend out of my glass during breakfast….go figure!!! 

She is able to independently feed herself using the baby food pouches but sometimes, toward the end, she starts “playing” with the pouch and might squirt the food out on the floor!!! She also sometimes grows frustrated when she’s about halfway or ¾ of the way through the pouch and needs another squeeze for the remainder of the food to come out…so she is semi-independent in eating those pouches of food I suppose!  

A recent highlight for Charlotte this past summer was that she saw the Pacific Ocean (for the first time), the Atlantic Ocean, and Lake Erie (for the first time) in the span of three weeks!  That girl has got quite the impressive log of miles in terms of travel!  

Charlotte talks up a storm with her dad and me yet can be quiet and a bit reserved when she is with others.  She loves to wave byebye and says, "Hi-low" for "Hello".  It's the cutest thing!!  She also blows kisses and is very expressive with her feelings.  All of them.  I do love hearing her little voice and watching her facial expressions as she continues to communicate with us and bits and pieces of her personality emerge daily. 
  
She loves playing in the living room with her toys, reading her books in the St. Francis room, and loves to dance to music (especially when Dada is playing his piano downstairs).  Charlotte loves to pretend she is on the phone (she consistently turns the "phone" backwards as she holds it up to her ear though), is starting to get into her stuffed animals/dolls (especially the dolly from Dan & Sue and the ballerina from another family friend).  She is usually gentle with the pups and loves to pat, kiss, lay on, and hug Hershey & Dusty Shamrock.  She recently started saying, "Baby", but I don't know if she has made the connection to that word when she sees a live baby!  Doggies are definitely one of her favorite things as she is always pointing them out (even on TV) and even calls the cat across the street puppy.  She still loves bath time and enjoys going to the playground. 



 
Charlotte usually sleeps well during the night unless she is teething.  She usually goes to bed between 8:30 and 9pm and wakes between 9 and 10am when we don't have to go to school.  The last couple of nights have been pretty rough due to teething with being up with her from 2:30 - 4am.  In spite of these late night adventures, she is pretty even keeled and adaptable.  It's hard to believe it's been half a year since Charlotte turned 1!  What an adventure it's been on this parenting journey with Charlotte Annie.  We're so glad that we are walking this path with her!!



You are always searching and watching what's going on around you sweet girl.  Keep being filled with wonder and awed by the beauty that surrounds you for it is all such a precious gift as you are to those who love you Charlotte Annie!


  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

All Wrapped Up....with a bow on top too!

A year's worth of work was realized last night when I logged in to my school email last night. Yesterday was a crazy hectic busy day (in spite of it being Labor Day) that involved teaching three of my classes, working with six or seven students throughout the day, and making a quick trip to Aunt Marie and Uncle Bill's for a cookout after work.

By the time Charlotte was bathed, fed, and put down for the night upon our return to Ohio, I tiredly logged in to my school account before heading to bed myself.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive the news that a project I had worked on over the last academic year had been completed. Here is the link to my latest endeavor!

Many thanks to those who contributed to the chapter and also for the support! The PhD student inside is totally geeking out over being listed in the same resource as one of my research rock stars! ;}  Happy reading!

Reister, M.  (2017). Career development and adult life. In S. Lenihan (Ed.), Preparing to teach, committing to learn: An introduction to educating children who are deaf/hard of hearing (14). EHDI Learning Center. Retrieved from http://www.infanthearing.org/ebook-educating-children-dhh/index.html

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Snapshot in Time

One year ago today one of my all time favorite pictures of Charlotte was taken. As a family, we drove to a nearby town celebrating an Arts Festival. I had just buckled Charlotte Annie into her carseat and slipped on my flip flops when I glanced down at our then six month old. She was peacefully waiting for her Dad and Mom to finish running around getting ready as she sat all buckled up in her seat. What drew me in was that she had the sweetest look on her face of expectant anticipation. I grabbed my phone and snapped a photo which is what you see here.


Thus one of my top favorites of the pictures of Charlotte was created in that moment. As I find myself doing so often in her short life, I find that these moments of awe come over me as I learn from her to just stop and enjoy the peace in the moment. She was content as could be one year ago today as I ran around looking for the keys and calling out to Adam to see if he was almost ready to go. Seeing Charlotte looking up at me with this expectant look on her face reminded me then, and still does when I look at the picture now, that she is always watching and how important it is to be a good example for her. Do I want her to grow up thinking normal is being spread too thin and running around trying to get everything done yesterday? Absolutely not! I hope she will have better work and life balance but will also find joy in doing for others what she can. 


Along the same lines, I hope she doesn't run from her problems or try to avoid bearing her crosses. This morning's gospel was a reminder that we need to carry our crosses to be closer to Jesus. When reflecting on today's messages from the readings and gospel, the passage from Jeremiah in the first reading struck me. I, too, have cried out in anger and frustration against God some A LOT since the night of Charlotte's birth. I tried to turn my back on Him due to being so bitterly disappointed in the events that followed her arrival. Yet, like Jeremiah, my soul can't keep from singing His praises. Each time I pick up our sweet girl, as she grows bigger and I feel the weight of it all,  I am reminded of the cross of our huge loss yet still lovingly cradle her in my arms for the precious gift she is. 

I am so grateful for the gift of motherhood and for this child I prayed for yet I mourn the other children I prayed of having. During the darkest hours of embracing this cross, I pray for all the little children Adam and I had hoped to bring into the world. Children in our hearts never meant to be I suppose. Yet, holding Charlotte and carrying her ties me to the present as an anchor in reality. What a miracle she is and how blessed those who cross her path are. I hope she knows how she is so loved by her Dad and me (and so many others!).  Her sweet giggles and smiles take the edge off the pain and dull the razor sharp stabs of bitterness. 



 To borrow from a well known expression, it was the best of times and the worst of times. I wonder if this is similar to what it was like for Mary when the sword pierced her heart or what it means to truly embrace the cross. There is no getting around it so may as well lean into it, offer up the sufferings uniting then to Christ, and try my best to humbly carry this cross with grace. I should try to adopt Charlotte's expectant anticipation in recalling all things work for the good of the Lord. Charlotte is watching remember? 



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Furry Shadows

These doggies, as Charlotte excitedly calls them, are usually not too far away from her even as she becomes increasingly more mobile.


I wonder what is going through her mind when she interacts with them from giggling with glee as she chases them to leaning back on each as a makeshift pillow to hugging them throughout the day.

Dusty Shamrock has been there for me and has been through a LOT with me over the last decade but to see him provide comfort to Charlotte Annie these days as well is so sweet. Hershey, who is a ball of energy, is always at the ready for games and jest much to Charlotte's squeals and delight.

I am so glad we have a fellow doggie lover on our hands!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

First Day of a New Plan

Yesterday was Adam's first day of classes and today was my first of teaching for this semester.  With this change in her parents' schedule, today was the day Charlotte returned to the babysitter's house and boy did I miss her!  I was thankful for the hustle and bustle that a day full of teaching three classes and advising just under a dozen students off an on throughout the day brings as it kept me from being sad over not being with our little soon to be 18 month old.  The last three months of being home with her full time flew by and I teared up more than a few times during the fleeting moments of quiet today.  I'm so thankful I have my Tuesdays and Thursdays of uninterrupted time with her this semester.  However, I'm also excited for Charlotte Annie to have regular interactions with a home full of lovely children again.  The thought of Charlotte scooting around, playing with the kiddos, and learning from our sweet caretaker gets me through the long days on campus.

This new semester is full of huge changes for Adam.  Originally we had thought this would be his senior year.  Well, after a change in majors last week, his graduation has been pushed back to Spring 2020.  In the long run, we know this will help him to get that much closer to his goal but it's been a bit of a shock to me to try to wrap my brain around the fact that I will be the sole provider for our family for a couple more years rather than a couple semesters.  I love my job and the work I'm blessed to do but there is an extra layer of stress and worry in being the primary provider for such an extended time yet I'm so proud of the way Adam is chasing down his dreams.  Within days of switching his major, he promptly signed up for an intense three hour series of exams required for his new major.  So far, we know he passed two of the three exams and are awaiting the score of the third portion.  What's amazing is that he took this exam without having set foot in any classes within his new major.  What a feat!!  He is also taking 19 credits of courses this semester which pushes him over the full caseload.  Again, I so admire his dedication and the way he is actively pursuing this new path.

His History major from last semester is still serving him well in his new major of Adolescent Young Adult History Education since he was able to apply many of the courses he took in the spring to his new major.  Due to the super full load and all the work that comes with taking seven classes at a time, he will not be able to do much traveling or participate in many social activities this semester which is a bit disappointing for the social side of me.  In a way, it feels like when I was in grad school all over again with limiting what we can and can't do financially, socially, and time-wise but the sacrifices now are sure to pay off in the long run.  It may be tough on some days but God will hopefully bestow the graces to get through as He did during other times of struggle in both of our lives.

Yes, lots of changes lie in wait for us this fall but I look forward to the challenges they bring and the satisfaction that comes with hard work in making dreams a reality.  What are YOU waiting for...what change have you been mulling over in your mind?  After today's first day of school for me and an evening of snuggling Charlotte, I feel reenergized and ready to tackle these changes head on through some new school year resolutions I've made.  Two are to get back to a regular Adoration hour and to try to get into a more regular workout routine with friends.  Here's to hoping we can all stay on track and work toward our small and big goals over the next four months!


Monday, August 14, 2017

Puppy Love


We can't give our daughter human siblings (for now) but by golly she has such a heart for her furry siblings. This picture was captured tonight after Charlotte spent a half hour chasing after and giggling at her puppies tonight.  Watching her interact with the pups and hearing her laughter reminded me of the sounds of my niece and nephews laughing and playing with one another during the summers I lived with them.  I felt myself start to slide down the all too familiar slippery slope of wishing and despairing over Charlotte not having little brothers or sisters.


So instead, I consciously made a choice to focus on the positives.  Right here, in this moment, she is content and has all she needs in her Dad, furry brothers, and me.  And that is enough.  I will deal with when it is not enough another day when or if that moment comes at some point during her childhood.

Back to tonight, earlier while at church, Charlotte pulled from her mass bag a family picture her cousin, Mason, had drawn for her Baptism last summer.  As soon as she saw the image, her eyes lit up and she excitedly exclaimed, "Puppy!  Puppy!", while pointing to and tracing with her tiny fingers Mason's rendition of Dusty Shamrock and Hershey.


I love that Charlotte Annie loves doggies as much as her Mommy and Daddy do.  How funny is Adam's beard in the image though?!

I love that she gets such joy from her furry brothers....even when it means happiness comes from throwing food overboard from the high chair.

I love that the boys tolerate her playful antics and squeals of glee.

I love that they start each night sleeping in the same room with her.







Most of all, I love that the always present stinging pain of secondary infertility is lessened ever so slightly by quiet still moments such as these.






Monday, July 31, 2017

Christmas in July!



This posting is seven months late....how crazy is it that life is so busy that even though this was written as we experienced Christmas in California, I didn't get around to posting this on the blog until July had nearly ended?!  At the beginning of the summer, I had high hopes for lots of blogging to be done so that I could get caught up; I've recipes to share, trips from as far back as February 2014 to talk about, and some realizations about suffering I've been mulling over....but a leaky sewage pipe in the garage that led to cleaning up a mess and reorganizing the garage and downstairs living room monopolized much of my free time before our mid-summer trip to the West Coast.  Granted, I had wanted to get the garage and living area downstairs in order over the summer but the added unexpected water damage/smell led to more work than I had anticipated.  The downstairs disaster was followed by the fridge fiasco upon our return home from Charlotte's second trip to California.  

I have missed writing in spite of not having posted in three months.  Well, better late than never, and here's to hoping I can get both of the California trips shared on here before Charlotte's third time out there in five months when the holiday season of 2017 is upon us!  

I squeaked this one out with it being July 31st but let's enjoy a little "Christmas in July" shall we?










Wheels up.... Here we come California!!

Charlotte did a fantastic job flying across the country for the first time.  During the first flight, that was about four hours long, she stayed awake for about three of those hours.  Her ears didn’t seem to bother her during the ascent and descent of the plane and she enjoyed interacting with the passengers and attendants as they walked by our seats. Halfway through the first flight, she had a massive poopy blowout that wound up with poop everywhere as I tried to change her in the teeny tiny airplane bathroom.  I wound up throwing away the stained clothes because a) they were a bit small on her and b) what was I going to do with the dirty clothes for the remainder of the flight?!





"Mom and Dad, should I hit the slots during the layover in Vegas?"


The last leg of the trip was for napping.

Other than the blowout, the rest of the day was uneventful and we were joyfully reunited with Adam’s parents by 10pm that evening!   

 

On the way home, we swung by In-N-Out for our obligatory hamburger meal.  It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to get a burger after getting off the plane in whatever city we happen to be in at the time. 

This little girl was on a mission tonight! She excitedly waved her boarding pass to anyone who would look her way, promptly fell asleep from Las Vegas to Ontario, California, and made herself at home in the arms of Pa once out of the airports for the day. She is now soundly asleep in her comfy pack and play after her visit to In-N-Out. Yum! 

On our first full day in California, Charlotte was able to play all day with her cousins, Riley and Tegan, since it was a day they were to be at their grandparents’ home.  For dinner, we all met up at a Mexican restaurant that was soooo good!  Charlotte enjoyed meeting Dustin and Jacob, her two older cousins, and spending more time with Aunt Wendy, Uncle Tim, and Uncle Mark.  After dinner, we caravanned to a neighborhood that goes all out when it comes to decorating their houses with Christmas lights.  We were able to listen to Christmas music that synced up with the lights and enjoyed the festive displays in spite of the rain.  

























Early on in our stay, we paid off our house which made for a really special Christmas celebration for us!

After finishing up at the bank, we went to the supermarket next door and enjoyed some celebratory drinks!






Hard to believe these cousins are only six months apart!

Showing off her flexibility!


I think she loves California!


















Like I said Charlotte enjoyed lots and lots and lots of cousin time today! She played with Tegan and Riley all day then had dinner with almost the whole family including her older cousins (Dustin and Jacob) before looking at some pretty Christmas lights. She finished out the day with splashes in the rain and bathtub! 

On our second day of being in California, we drove over to Adam’s old town and enjoyed a lunch at In-N-Out.  Charlotte also got to try out her high chair converter for the first time too.  She seemed to like sitting at the table like us grown-ups and eagerly eyed the food on the table before her.  Unfortunately, she has to wait a few more years before she can eat the yummy goodness of In-N-Out.  





Yum!!!!!



That evening, just before bedtime, we got to visit with Aunt Frances and Dave who drove in from Arkansas!   



Today was a fun day of making more California memories & being happy to be reunited with Aunt Frances, Dave, and their cutie pie puppy! Today's firsts included riding in a shopping cart seat for the first time (unfortunately we both left our phones in the car so have no pictures of Charlotte loving the experience of kicking her legs while tossing groceries out of cart) and using the high chair converter at lunch. Even though she looked like she was in a straitjacket she enjoyed sitting at the table like a big kid! 
On the day before Christmas Eve, w all enjoyed Adam's Mom's side of the family's Christmas party. What fun Charlotte had meeting more family members including cousins of all ages! She also especially loved spending time in the arms of Aunt Alicia & Aunt Wendy tonight.   





































The next day, on Christmas Eve, Charlotte got her picture taken with Santa Claus at a nearby mall.  She was tired and ready for her nap so in spite of jingling some bells, waving to her from behind the camera, and calling her name, she somberly stared back at the camera from Santa’s lap.  She seemed intrigued by the pom pom on the end of his hat but didn’t crack a smile at all.  Maybe next year! 















After attending mass on Christmas morning (she lasted all the way to Communion before falling asleep for a power nap), Charlotte Annie was able to meet more of her family when we celebrated with Adam's Dad's side of the family. She enjoyed opening presents, "talking" with Uncle Mike and her cousins, checking out Tegan's art snack, and even snuck a bite of pumpkin dip!   
 
































 Love all the faces of the grandchildren in these pictures with Pa and Grandma!










Making Reindeer Art Snacks!








The day after Christmas found Charlotte using her high chair converter at two different restaurants and we saw snow! For lunch, Mom Sue and Dad Tom suggested we go to Flame Broiler for some yummy chicken & rice bowls and we enjoyed the view of the mountains and snow to the north of us on the ride to the restaurant. Later that day, we were surprised with a visit from a foreign exchange student from Japan who had lived in the neighborhood in 1986!  John and his family were visiting for the holidays and swung by for an impromptu visit which was pretty neat!  Adam, Charlotte, and I ended the day with some visiting of our own by driving about 35 minutes away to Anaheim (where Adam grew up) to reunite with some of his peers from his early elementary school years! Adam enjoyed reminiscing about things that happened as far back as 1st grade with his former classmates.






Adam and his classmates from the younger years!






Not feeling well...  :(

....but bath time makes everything better!
On Tuesday, we stayed close to home since Adam was feeling a little under the weather and Charlotte is going through some teething (slight fever and lots of drool) at the moment. It was a low key day that was spent playing and relaxing. Charlotte preferred playing with the Little People Nativity Set and especially liked when the star lit up above the barn.  She also discovered shaking her head "no" (in and out of context) especially when imitating Pa, enjoyed playing in her pillow fort with Grandma while Adam and I ran some errands, and looking at pictures of Dusty's birthday party!  He turned ten today and the friends who are watching him while we’re away had a birthday party for him complete with an apple and peanut butter cake he ate! Another first that occurred tonight was sitting upright in the bathtub to play with some princess water toys. It happened by accident but Charlotte enjoyed the new position!





On Wednesday the temperature ranged from 66 to 76° but I still don't think I could ever get used to hearing the lawn mower outside during December like I did in the morning when Dad Tom worked on the yard. Another surprise from that morning was when Grandma and Charlotte matched in their polka dots. The afternoon and evening were spent playing games at Aunt Wendy and Uncle Tim's house with the added bonus of getting in extra cousin time, enjoying yummy food and drinks, and seeing a wild coyote in the street on the way home!! It was also a rough evening due to teething and fighting a small cold.  Charlotte is still struggling with teething and in spite of falling asleep in my arms three times, each time I tried to place her down, she fussed and cried.  Aunt Wendy, cousins Lizette and Jerrad, Adam, and I all took turns holding her but she was still not able to be placated.  She was slightly better on Thursday and even gave Aunt Alicia and Grandma Sue some smiles but still wasn’t 100% back to her usual self so we had to resort to giving her teething tablets and Tylenol to help with the pain and the cough she was fighting.











She is definitely a dog lover!






We were able to visit with dear family friends from Virginia Beach who were also in CA for the holidays who are like a third set of grandparents, Dan and Sue, on Thursday.  They came by for lunch and stayed into the evening.   








We feel so blessed and fortunate to have so many loving family on both coasts and were glad to get in this time to visit with so many over the last ten days!