Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our vacation!

I know you all are sitting on the edge of your seats wondering about our vacation.  I know it's all you can think about.  I know.

Just kidding.  I'm sure the LAST thing you want to read about is our trip.  But since this blog isn't really all about you, I'm going to write about it anyway.  Because I want to remember it later.  So there.  But be warned, this is the blog equivalent of holding you hostage in our living room and making you watch slide shows of our family vacation.

We got to spend a week on North Captiva Island.  It's a tiny little island (just 5 miles long) on the gulf side of Florida, just north of Captiva and Sanibel Islands.
The "A" balloon is marking the island
Here's a close up of the island:
See that dark line at the south of the island?  That's where a hurricane in 1921 struck the island of Captiva, splitting it and creating North Captiva Island.  

The island is only accessible by ferry, private boat or small plane so we flew into Ft. Myers, took a shuttle service to the port at Pine Island (an hour drive) and then took a water taxi across the 3 mile stretch of ocean to the island.

Our day of travel went relatively well.  I bought her a few little toys as a surprise to play with on the flights along with some stickers and a coloring book.  I made an impulse purchase on my last Target run before the trip and bought an (over-priced) little car since she has been especially interested in cars lately and we don't have any.  It was by far the best $3.44 I've ever spent.  She played with that thing for about 45 minutes.
None of the pictures I snapped on the plane turned out - they were all shaky and blurry, but you get the idea.
So between her little toys and a few episodes of the Muppet Show, we survived.

We had a long layover in between our two flights so it was nice to let her run around a bit.  She got lots of awwwwww's from passers-by in the airport because she insisted on walking and pulling her little wheeled backpack along behind her.  I'll admit, it was super cute.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture.

Lila did great with the exception of a meltdown on the second leg of our flight - right around the time when she probably would have been snoozing had we been at home instead of several thousand feet in the air.  The shuttle service picked us up at the airport and she did sleep a bit in the car for which I was so grateful, but by the time we were getting on the boat, she was done.

I was in a minor panic that she was going to fall out of the boat and sink like a rock to the bottom of the deep dark ocean (I have my fair share of irrational anxiety-ridden moments as a mom), but mostly because she was so intrigued by the water and wanted to hang over the edge of the boat.  I consented to letting her stand up with Eric's hands tightly gripping her, but neither Lila nor I were entirely happy with the compromise.  (She would have rather had complete and utter freedom to dangle precariously over the side and I would have rather had her on my lap in a vice grip.)

Once our boat docked and our feet hit the island, all the stress of the day melted away.  There are no cars and no paved roads.  You get around by foot, bike or golf cart.  There are a few little shops, but no sane person would do the bulk of their shopping there because it easily costs five times what it would cost on the mainland.  We were staying with my parents in one of the rental homes that my aunt and uncle own so we compiled a grocery list with my parents and ordered groceries from a store on the mainland.  They pack everything on dry ice and make it boat-ready so it's a relatively convenient service.

We didn't waste any time and we went right to the beach.

And then we went back to the house and changed into our suits and this cuteness happened:
Ugh. Sorry it's all pixelated.  But look how cute!
We all had a well-earned night's sleep and let me tell you, I slept HARD.

I spent the next three days in District 12 and the Arena with Katniss Everdeen.  That's right.  I finally joined the proverbial party and read the Hunger Games.  I love a good series and they were such a quick read it felt like a little treat.  Then I spent the next three days telling Eric, "I need you to read these so I can TALK to someone about them!" He kept insisting that he wasn't as fast of a reader as I am and that he wouldn't be able to finish even the first one before we left so he didn't want to start it.  And that he already was in the middle of another book.  But I wore him down and guess who had his nose in the book for the next 24 hours?  This guy:
Somewhere in Florida, Lila found this cheesy smile.  I get a kick out of it.
 I had no idea how much I needed some true, deep introvert time.  I needed those three days of losing myself in a few books so that I could re-engage with my family.  As much as most people need a break from their jobs, I need a break from my job sometimes.  Which means I need a break from Lila.  (I kind of hate saying that.)  And having my parents and Eric there to care for her while I disappeared into the Games was amazing.  Amazing.

Anyway, once I resurfaced from my Hunger Games immersion, I picked up with what everyone else had been doing which was a glorious amount of nothing.

Lila spent her days collecting shells, swimming, complaining about sand getting on her feet, asking if she could go swimming, telling her Lambie about when she went swimming, playing with her car (the little one I got her for our plane ride), coloring, swimming some more, riding around on the golf cart, digging in the sand, oh and um, swimming.  That child loves to swim.  She even dreamed about swimming.  I'm not kidding, she woke up at 5:00AM one morning crying and when I went in there she whimpered, "My sim-suit!!!"  The next morning she told me, "I cry cuz I can't find my sim-suit."  The girl is having nightmares about not being able to find her swimsuit.  The little fishie:

collecting shells is serious business
There's that cheesy smile again.  And this is one of the few shots you'll ever see of me in a swimsuit so shield your eyes from the pasty white legs and focus more on the cute kid I'm holding.
trying to charm her way into being allowed to drive the golf cart.  sorry kid, you've got about 14 years.
By "swimming" I really mean "jumping"

We saw a ton of fun animals: dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, sharks (Lila got to pet a baby shark that our beach neighbor caught while fishing), ghost crabs, sting rays, tracker jackers (oh wait, that was in the Hunger Games), an alligator, and so many lizards.

We found this little guy on a golf cart excursion.  He hissed at Lila when she got too close.

The week was the perfect blend of activity and relaxation.  And Lila was the perfect age for it.  We were all in heaven and none of us wanted to leave.  Especially Lila.  This was her response after our last swim the morning we had to go home:
denial = an effective form of protest
The dolphins gave us a fun sendoff on our ferry ride back to the mainland.  They found our boat and played around in the wake for several minutes.  It was the closest we had seen them all week so it was a fun end to our trip.
Except that the actual end to our trip was a three-hour delay on our last flight which meant an unexpected 4+ hour layover in Orlando, running out of diapers (boo to expensive airport Huggies) and a VERY sleepy Baby Girl.  She fell asleep sitting up looking out the window when we finally got to board our plane at 9:00pm.  I was so grateful she slept almost the entire flight despite the cacophony of the many other children on the flight whose parents weren't so lucky as we were.  

All in all it was a really wonderful trip.  I'm so glad we went and Lila is still talking about "Uncle Mark's house."  In fact, we took her to the pool this weekend and as we were walking out of the house she said, "Okay!  Let's go get on our golf cart!"  If only, Lila.  If only.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It IS marvelous.

A while back Kelsey introduced a new semi-regular series of posts about our marriage story, submitting some emails and stories from early on in our relationship. Yesterday we were making a somewhat vain attempt to reorganize the garage in preparation for our garage sale coming up in a few weeks (we're still taking donations, but our garage is packed to the ceiling despite our reshuffling efforts and clothing items have now moved into Lila's playroom much to her displeasure). I emptied out a filing cabinet that is going into the sale and one of the file folders contained a bunch of printed emails, hand-written letters and Fresh Ink cards (a long-time favorite of ours), one of which had to be shared. I had sent it in response to receiving something at my house on Louisiana when I was at KU and she was at Bethel in St. Paul. The front looks like this:

And on the inside, I transcribed the following dialog. In case it isn't obvious, Resident refers to me. I was trying to sound cool for my ladyfriend and was am actually a dork:

Mailman: Which one of you always gets mail from Minnesota?
Resident: That would be me.
Mailman: You from St. Paul?
Resident: Nope. My fiancé lives there.
Mailman: She sure sends you a lot of mail.
Resident: Yeah, she's pretty great. She knows how to make you feel loved.
Mailman: Is it hard having her so far away?
Resident: Painful. But she'll be back next week.
Mailman: That'll be marvelous.

I love that he used that word. No other descriptor would have been as appropriate or accurate. And while I can't recall the exact moment I saw Kelsey when she returned after that exchange, I definitely know the feeling because it still feels marvelous.

Monday, May 21, 2012

have you missed us?

If you're wondering why we've been so silent, it's because we've been enjoying our first family vacation EVER and the Husband's and my first vacation since before Lila was born.  But we're coming home tomorrow.  We'll be in what my dad calls "the sad line" at the airport.  (He coined the term about a decade ago when we were queuing up to get on the plane to come home from Hawaii.)

More details to come about our wonderful trip, but here's a teaser:

See ya soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

I had this deep and sort of serious post in the works and then I thought, "Let's not go there today.  Let's celebrate."  So instead, I'm recycling bits of a post from a few months ago and sharing some of my previously unpublished images of my motherhood.  Enjoy:

taken 3 days before Lila was born.  we're the belly on the left.
the other belly is Alissa Shirley and her son Reave who came 2 days after Lila

Ask any mom and she’ll tell you (if she’s honest), there is absolutely nothing more terrifying than motherhood. Nothing. The responsibility of shaping, protecting, discipling and training a child is the most nerve-wracking and self-doubt-inducing thing a person could possibly do. And to make matters worse, the results of our blood, toil, tears and sweat are walking around in their own independent bodies to be admired or judged by the rest of the waking world. Heaven help us. Literally.

Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible (before Daddy finished our awesome rocking chair)

We’ve all been given tools to help us parent our children. Those tools might be the example set by our parents, experiences we’ve had caring for children, formal education in classes or seminars or conferences, or simply our mother’s intuition and instincts. Some of us have been blessed with many tools; others of us have had fewer experiences and opportunities to acquire those tools.

Lila's first time swimming

But the truth is, most moms are doing their very best with the tools they have - and most moms fear that their best isn't good enough.

First trip to the zoo
Pumpkin patch Fall 2011

As moms, no one wants our best to be enough more than we do! But it isn’t. We can’t be the perfect parent. We will lose our tempers, make mistakes and choose the exact wrong moments to be inattentive to curious toddlers who wonder whether that bead will fit inside their nose (it will, by the way).

wearing purple to support our friend Emmaus - Epilepsy Awareness Day
 But Moms, here’s what you need to know: despite your deepest fears, you are doing a great job. Parenting is hard.
Second-guessing and worrying is a natural hazard of the job. All you can do is give it your best, and even when you don't or can't, it's okay. The Good News is that we have a Heavenly Father who loves your child even more than you do. (I know that feels impossible!)  So in those moments, when your best falls short, I hope you remember our Heavenly Father who is faithful to fill in the gaps.  His best IS good enough.
Our friend Jewel took these for us just after Lila's first birthday

 Happy Mother's Day, to all of you mamas and soon-to-be mamas out there!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Here's what happened...

Lila wanted to wear a necklace this morning.  She wanted to wear her blue necklace that she got with her dress-up clothes for Christmas, but when I tried to unclasp it, it broke.  So I offered to let her wear my blue necklace - a wooden beaded necklace from World Market.

Fast-forward to this evening around 8:00.  We were on our way home from Costco to put Lila to bed when she tried to pull the necklace off and it broke.  The beads went everywhere.  She handed me a bunch of them and I picked up several more.  I told her we'd get them all cleaned up when we got home and not to put them in her mouth.

A few seconds later she whined from the backseat, "Sompin' in my nose!"  I turned around and saw that her left nostril was swollen as though a little round pea-shaped object had been shoved up there.  I bet you see where this is going.

I panicked.  "PULL OVER!!" I yelled at Eric and scrambled out of the car to get closer to Lila (somehow, I should mention, my shoe came off and I was standing on the side of the road with only one flip-flop).  By this time she was in hysterics.  I tried to push the bead down and out, but it was really stuck in there.  "I CAN'T GET IT OUT!" I yelled.

"Get in the car," Eric said in a commanding voice, "we're going to the ER."

I scrambled into the backseat and held Lila's hands away from her face as I whispered into her ear that everything was okay.  She continued to scream bloody murder.  Eric sped down the frontage road and I prayed we wouldn't get in an accident on our way.  Fortunately we were only a few minutes from the hospital.

By the time we got there, Lila had calmed down and was just sniffling pathetically.  The woman at the check-in desk was quite smitten with Lila who was now in a sort of wide-eyed shock.  She checked us in and we were sent to the waiting room.

We sat down and both Eric and I went for our phones.  "Are you going to take a picture?" I asked him.

"No, I was going to let her watch a video on my phone while we wait," responded the better parent.

Oh.  Well...I...
How sad is that?  You can see the blue dye from the bead dripping down her nose.  The inside of her nose was completely blue.

And then I sent that picture to my sister and parents with the following text: First ER visit.

Approximately 45 seconds later, my phone rang as predicted.  And while I was talking to Jess, my dad called.  In hindsight, I should have given more information in that message.

By then, they had moved us into our room.  And I took some more pictures.

Lila got to watch TV and play with the remote until she accidentally called the nurse at the front desk and then Daddy took over remote responsibilities. 
I continued my documenting of this whole experience (is it wrong that as soon as I realized we weren't in a dire situation my thoughts immediately went to how I was going to blog about this?) by interviewing Lila, who was surprisingly articulate about the whole thing:
The whole shark, sock, shock misunderstanding in the video is actually pretty funny.  The triage nurse had commented on how calm Lila was and I had said that I thought she was sort of in shock.  Lila must have heard me say that so when I was interviewing her she told me "I have shock."  I gotta be really careful about what I say in her company.  The girl doesn't miss a thing.

Anyway, we waited for about an hour during which we were visited by the guy who makes sure we have insurance and can pay for our visit, a nurse, a doctor, another nurse and finally another doctor who was actually the one who would be performing the extraction.  He explained that they would have to hold her down and try to pull the bead out, but that sometimes "all you end up with is a sweaty doctor and a child with a bloody nose and then she might have to go into surgery to get it out."  Oh my.  This is when my prayers went into overdrive. 

He stepped out of the room and I prayed with Lila that Jesus would be with her and that the doctor would be able to get the bead out and that Lila would be calm and not be afraid.  Then I explained that the doctors were going to hold her still and use a special tool to pull the bead out of her nose.  I told her she had to try to lay very still and that Mommy and Daddy would be with her the whole time.

Then, two doctors and two nurses walked in.  The main doctor instructed each of them to hold her down while I crouched by her face and told her how proud of her I was and that she was doing a good job.  So while three men pinned my daughter to the bed, the doctor tried to swipe that bead out with a hooked tool.  Lila amazed me.  She was quiet and calm and only complained that the light was too bright in her eyes.  Unfortunately, the first attempt was unsuccessful.  When they released her, she sat up and looked at me like, "There.  That's over with.  Can we go now?"  Then she was a little disconcerted when the doctor and his team moved in on her again with a new tool in hand.  

The second attempt did not go over as well.  I don't know if the little tweezer-like tool hurt her nose more or if she knew what to expect now so she had some anticipatory fear, but as soon as they held her down again she started crying.  It was the saddest thing.  She kept looking at me for help and wailing, "Moooommmmmyyyyy!!!"  I just tried to smile at her and tell her she was doing such a good job and that she was okay and I was there and promised her fruit snacks when it was all over.  I sort of had this flash forward to Lila in labor with her first child, looking at me for help and reassurance to make the pain stop and Get This Thing Out of ME!  And then, to continue the weird labor metaphor, with one last push, the bead popped out of her nose and there was an exclamation of relief and happiness in the room.  

The doctor peeked in her nose again to make sure that there wasn't anything else in there and then Lila climbed into my arms and clung to me, still wailing.  

I was so relieved and I think all the tension was sort of wearing off all at once so I was starting to feel a little giddy.  Plus I hadn't eaten dinner yet so I was feeling kind of out of it.  All of which are my excuses for awkwardly calling the doctor "Kevin" instead of Doctor because I was all flustered and saw his nametag that said Kevin and it just came out.  Also I usually take Lila to see either my uncle or one of several friends who are doctors so I'm used to calling doctors by their first names.  I know, totally disrespectful of the doc who just saved us a visit to surgery, but I'm hoping he just brushed it off.

After the room cleared out, we had to wait for the staff to process our paperwork.  So of course, I went back to my Mommy journalist role:

Lila kept saying, "I'm ready to go.  I'm ready to go now."  And about an hour later we were back in the car heading home to put a very tired Baby Girl to bed.

All in all, I think we came out unscathed.

The only evidence of the whole ordeal are the faded blue stain on her upper lip, a $75 hole in our bank account left by the ER co-pay, and a slight wheezing sound from Lila as she breathes.  As I type, I can hear Lila breathing on the monitor.  She sounds like Dr. Kelso on Scrubs after he gets punched (skip to 3:35):

Oh yeah.  And this:
The temporary resident of Lila's left nostril.
That's right.  We're keeping the rogue bead and putting in our collection of items that remind us that we can't be perfect parents.  We can't keep our kids completely safe 100% of the time.  All we can do is our best and we just have to trust the Lord to fill in the gaps.

So, there it is.  As the Husband said in a text to his family, "Our first ER visit is on the books.  Doctors: 1, Bead in Lila's Nose: 0."

Let's hope this one is our first AND last.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Look what we found

Well, Daddy found.  He (she?) was hiding in Lila's play house and was nearly devoured by our vicious attack dog.

Yeah, that one.

Anyway, Daddy saved it and then he and Lila pet it and held it just long enough for its wild animal diseases to rub off on my daughter.  But despite my concerns about Lila contracting Wild Bunny Hoof and Mouth or whatever, I was at least amused enough to take pictures.  Lila kept saying to the bunny, "You have a little face?  You have a little nose?  You have a little tail?"  It was pretty cute.

After much gushing and petting and squirming (on the part of the bunny), they released it into the wild our bushes in the backyard. I thought she wouldn't want to let him go, but she was mostly ambivalent about the whole thing.

And then I made her wash her hands for 17 minutes.  Can't be too careful, you know.

Since then, she'll randomly inform me, "We found a bunny.  He's with his mommy."

I hope that little thing makes it.  Mostly I hope I don't find it half-eaten in the backyard.  If I do, I'm locking the dog in the laundry room until the Husband comes home to clean things up.

On an unrelated note, I snapped these pictures today of Lila and Future Husband Jude (whose name she says in a French accent - with the J sounding like the letter "s" in the word vision).  Just before I took these pictures Lila was yelling his name and wagging her hand at him in a demanding way so that he would come hold it.  As you can tell, he seemed happy to oblige.

this one's blurry, but I love how she's looking at him
 There are arranged marriages in the US, right?  Besides being willing to be bossed around a bit by my opinionated girl, Jude has continued to impress me with his gentlemanly care of my Lila.  He has reportedly fended off another kid who tried to hold Lila's hand by shoving the kid out of the way and saying, "No!  That's MY baby."  He also brings her toys to play with - holding them out in his hands like an offering.  When she was little, he would cup her face in his hands and talk about how cute she was.  Last week, she got hurt and he came to her side and said, "You okay, Lila?" and gave her a hug.  And a few weeks ago, Jude's Mommy told me that when she asked who he played with at school he said, "Lila.  And she was wearing a pretty dress.  It was yellow and black."  And it was!  What a guy - noticing his lady's outfit!  And to top it off, last week Jude was wearing a Superman shirt with a cape.  John Deere AND Superman.  He's a regular renaissance man.  Where can I sign the betrothal documents?

Okay, so maybe I'm beginning to sound a bit creepy.  But even if it's not Jude she marries, I pray she marries someone with those qualities - someone who is willing to protect her, provide for her, compliment her, comfort her, take care of her, and maybe even take notice of a new outfit she is wearing.  Hmm, now that I write out that list, I guess I'm praying she marries someone just like her Daddy.

Even if that means a lifetime of befriending wild (and possibly disease-laden) animals together.