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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - A Year Of Faith

Today we will say good bye to 2014 and welcome in a new year.  Thank goodness.  See ya.  Adios.  2014 has certainly been a year to remember.  This year has left me physically, emotionally, and mentally drained.  I laugh when I think back to this time about a year ago when my kids at school came back from their holiday break and we started their New Year's writing assignment.  To model achievable, attainable, realistic goals, I started by making a list of mine on the front board.  You know, things like "Write on the family blog once a month" and "Make all the recipes I have pinned on Pinterest."  Ha.  If only I had known then that my list should have included things like "Get more than 4 hours of sleep a night" and "Eat one thing that could possibly be considered healthy each day" - or simply "Just survive each day."  I had no idea the challenges that were in store for me or my family.

January - My grandmother's cancer was spreading and her treatment was becoming more intensive.  My mom made the decision to take a leave of absence from work to be with her out of town.  Aiden's babysitter two or three days a week and the person I was hoping to help me get ready for our sweet little girl was gone (with good reason).  At six months pregnant I joined thousands of people in the city in fearing for my safety (and truthfully life) with the coming of the Snowpocolypse.  It is easy to laugh about now, but this city saw something so unexpected it rivaled the weather in The Day After Tomorrow.  In the span of an hour I went from admiring the view of small flurries from the safety of my classroom window to sitting in my car on streets covered with snow and ice, wondering where I would ditch my car and how far I would have to walk to safety, dressed in clothes and shoes that were NOT snow-appropriate, all the while knowing my options were limited by the little life inside me.  6 hours, one car wreck, ditching my car and walking about a mile to meet Matt, ditching his car, and another hike later, we made it to our son's school where we were reunited as a family and happily spent the night on his classroom floor.  
A quick picture of the three (really 4 if you count the 7 month belly) before we went to sleep for the night on the floor of the dayschool. 

 A picture of Aiden in the snow after we made it home the next day

Then the next week in January brought more rattling news, news we had all been dreading, but knew was coming one day: there was nothing more the doctors could do for my grandmother.  The cancer had spread and her body was not fit for the aggressive treatment it would require.  So she was discharged from the hospital and sent home under the care of Hospice and my mom and uncle.

February - Matt and I knew our time to prepare our family for our new addition was growing short, but so was the time we had left with my grandmother.  Matt and I sat down and made the decision one night that we would have the rest of our lives to make Baby Sister the cutest room, order her furniture, and buy the things she needed, but our days with my grandmother were growing fewer.  We decided would drop everything and spend as much time with my grandmother as possible.  So that's what we did.  Every weekend that month we packed up in my sister's car and headed out of town to be with my mom and grandmother and uncle.  That took a toll on my body, which swelled terribly from the time crammed in the car for the trip, and made it tough to function during the work week without the weekends to play catch up or even make weekly runs to the grocery store.  By this point, Baby Sister was kicking hard enough to feel from the outside.  I am blessed that Grandmother was able to lay in her bed with her hand on my belly and just feel her kick, all the while praying that she could hang on long enough to see her born.  Each trip grew harder as her moments of clarify and strength started to drift away.
A picture of daddies and kids feeding the ducks at the lake outside Grandmother's house on a Sunday afternoon

March - My doctor told me that she could allow me to go out of town until 36 weeks, but then I was to stay put.  The trips were tougher on my body than I let on and we all knew the first weekend in March would be the last trip I would make until she passed - we knew there was no way she would hang on until Baby Sister's birth.  The family would continue to go - but this was it for me.  She smiled with her eyes closed while she felt Baby Sister kick.  Before we left Matt and I were able to ask her if we could use Hayes - her maiden name - as Baby Girl's middle name.  Her words were, "I would be honored."  We still had not decided on Baby Girl's first name, but Matt and I had already made the commitment that whatever it was, it would match with Hayes.  I think she knew it was my last visit too.  We hugged and told each other that we loved each other.  She told me to take care of Aiden and the baby to come - to love them and raise them to know Jesus.  She told me she was so proud of Aiden and how smart he was and that she was proud of me.  After more hugs, I was barely able to make it outside before the tears came.  I have never knowingly said my last words to someone and look back now thinking of all the things I wish I had said or said again.  She died three days later, quietly in the night, surrounded by my mom and uncle.  I would make the trip up for the funeral - allowed only to stay the day.  I was overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness - unable to be there for my mom, unable to grieve with my sister, unable to help with plans and arrangements.  
Collecting flowers from Grandmother's grave after the service

I tried to turn my attention back to school and preparing to leave my kids with a maternity sub (who had yet to be hired).  Three weeks later, I went into labor and Baby Girl arrived in the middle of the night - a week early.  We had her perfect birthday planned - a lunchtime C-section on Friday, 4/4/14, but she clearly had her own plans.  
 My last pregnant picture - heading to the hospital around 11:00 p.m.
 Norah's arrival in the middle of the night
 Our first picture as a family of 4 the next morning
 Sweet Baby Sister
First picture with big brother and little sister

We still had not decided on a name for her, but had a short list ready.  On the third night in the hospital (and much scolding from the hospital rep in charge of her birth certificate and Aiden just telling his classmates at school that we had named her Margo) we HAD to pick a name.  We couldn't decide between Brooklyn - Matt's favorite, Cailyn - my favorite girl name from my pregnancy with Aiden, and Norah - a derivative of Noah, the boy name we had picked.  We could not decide, so we started using other means to come to a decision.  We said them out loud, we wrote them each out to see how they looked, and then we went to their meanings.  Norah: Honored.  My grandmother's words when we asked her if we could use Hayes as her middle name.  "I would be honored."  The decision was made.  A few short days later, we took Baby Norah home!

April - After a month of extremes - extreme low to extreme high for the entire family - we were eager to focus on being a family of 4.  Life was good.  We had a beautiful, healthy little girl and a little boy who was SMITTEN with her!  
Then a week after Norah arrived, we got a call from the day school that there had been an accident.  Aiden and another little girl collided and Aiden caught the bad end.  Along with a busted lip, his front tooth had bent back into his mouth.  So we drove around town meeting with doctor and dentist to survey the damage.  The dentist told us Aiden could never have his paci again.  Now we had planned on slowly weening him off the paci after his sister came, but gently.  In the last two months we had already moved him to a new room and changed him from a crib to toddler bed and given him a new sibling - we were NOT planning to go cold turkey on the paci and certainly not the week she arrived.  He only got it at nap time and bed time by then, but still - that was his signal to relax and calm down and it worked like a charm.  He almost sucked himself to sleep each time.  Well, not anymore.  Now getting him to bed each time was a fight.  Tears, screaming, crying.  Well, I wouldn't remember much of it.  The next week I got sick.  And sicker.  I don't remember which came first.  I honestly don't remember several days of that week.  I was practically unconscious in the bed.  Matt woke me to nurse Norah and eat.  Otherwise, I slept.  It started as mastitis, but by the end of the week he took me to the doctor - barely able to walk at that point and in intense pain.  The doctor said it was likely pneumonia and that the infection from the mastitis had not cleared up, despite the antibiotic I was on.  His suggestion was to call my OB.  We talked with her and she said get back to the hospital - pronto.  Like, within the hour.  She even arranged for us to be in the Women's Center so Norah could come and have a place to sleep.  So I was treated for mastitis, pneumonia, and thrush (and much later we would find out I also had strep).  I wasn't responding to the meds, so I underwent surgery to drain the infection a few days later, just two weeks after giving birth.  After almost a week in the hospital, we were discharged to go home to try this whole family thing again.

May - May was as close to normal as our family got.  Maybe the calmest month of the year.  There was another bout of mastitis in there, but otherwise a fairly normal month.  However, as we went in for check ups with Norah, there was growing concern.  While her birth weight was good, Norah continued to lose weight each week.  We were instructed to bring her in for weekly weigh ins with the nurse to monitor the situation more closely.

June - June brought another semi-normal month.  There was another bout of mastitis (#3 if you're counting) that forced me to cancel Aiden's third birthday party.  Norah's check ups were still not perfect - she was not gaining the weight she was supposed to and was still not back to her birth weight yet.  She was on a strict schedule and we were still setting an alarm to wake her up to feed through the night and going in for weekly weigh ins. 
Aiden's Construction Birthday Party (a few weeks late)

July - We went on vacations with the families at the beach.  Lots of great times and lots of great pictures!  However, life was turned upside down the week we returned and went in for Norah's 4 month check up the last week of July.  Despite altering Norah's diet eat week - giving her more milk, giving her formula, giving her each every day, Norah's weight had reached a dangerous level - she had dropped off the growth chart and started sweating severely when she ate. After many questions by the pediatrician and giving (what seemed like) all the wrong answers, Matt and I finally asked what was going on.  He said all signs were pointing to something more serious - potentially cystic fibrosis.  He said she was a "classic textbook case."  His words were "if a med student was taking his boards and given her symptoms and medical history, the answer they would be looking for is CF."  We were immediately referred to Children's Hospital to see a GI specialist and to cardiology.  All the while, I started getting sick again.  I was covered in small, round sores or scales from my chest down.  My stomach was covered, my back was covered, my legs were covered.  Despite the southern heat, I wouldn't wear shorts - only pants - so no one could see my legs.  My hair started falling out.  Now, this is normal for postpartum women - no surprise there, I did it with Aiden - but this was different.  Clumps everywhere.  

August - August was a complete blur.  My maternity leave was at an end and I should have been focused on getting ready for school to start, but walking away from Norah was the last thing on my mind.  We were at Children's Hospital almost every other day for testing - sweat tests, x-rays of her organs looking for an enlarged heart, blood work to check her thyroid levels and other things, ultrasounds to look at her organs - anything that might give us answers.  We were driving down urine and stool samples almost every other day.  I was starting to see doctors to find out what was going on with me - first my OB and then to a dermatologist.  The OB said the excessive hair loss was stress - all my blood levels were fine.  The dermatologist took one look at my skin, which was now covered in hundreds of small, open sores rather than scales, then asked to see my fingernails.  I found that a coincidence - I had noticed they were different, a deep indention in each at the same spot.  She immediately asked how recently I had strep.  I told her it had been years, but after then going back through the events of the past few months, she told me I also had a severe form of strep back in April when I went into the hospital that had gone untreated and remained in my blood stream and was now causing this rare form of psoriasis.  Given the past few months, I figured that sounded about right.  However, the medicine was a strong steroid and since I was nursing, could only be applied to EACH INDIVIDUAL sore twice a day.  Sure, I had plenty of time to dab this cream on hundreds of open sores twice a day and let it dry.  Yeah, right.  I continued on, spotted and growing balder by the day, avoiding shorts and dresses and fixing my hair any way I could to cover the bald spots.  Tests for Norah continued to come back inconclusive.  She was not failing them miserably, but she wasn't passing them with flying colors.  There was still a big question mark in the air.  What I didn't understand was why cystic fibrosis?  I had heard of the illness - I had a student about a decade ago whose sister suffered from the illness and actually passed away during a routine operation related to CF.  But that was a respiratory illness, right?  Not something related to weight?  I needed answers.  So while sitting in my classroom with beginning of the year stuff around me, I turned to the internet.  I found reliable sources - Mayo Clinic, etc - for my answers.  And there on the screen was my greatest nightmare - an average life expectancy of 19 years of age.  I couldn't take it any more.  The thought that one day I might have to bury my daughter was more than I could handle at that moment.  I curled up on the floor and cried.  It was a feeling of complete helplessness and hopelessness.  I had been strong for so many weeks, but now seeing this in print in front of me was too much.  I needed help and I needed comfort, so I turned to a friend I worked with.  I texted a coworker in the building and she came down to find me still on the floor.  After letting me cry and talk, she gave me the kick in the pants I needed.  She reminded me that Norah isn't mine - she is God's.  She ultimately doesn't belong to me, but to God.  God chose ME to be her earthly mother, He chose me to be her protector, but ultimately Norah belonged to Him and only He would make Norah perfect and healthy.  She reminded me that we don't know God's plan for our lives, but we worship a god that had already conquered death.  Worrying about Norah's health and thinking that there was something I could do to make her better was not trusting the Lord - not trusting that He knew what was best for her and that He had a plan for her life and for mine.

Life changed for me after that conversation.  I started spending more time in prayer.  I started taking each day as it came and just trying to make it through that one day - stop worrying and looking ahead.  A little over ten years ago God placed a little girl in the very first classroom full of 6th graders I would teach.  In January of that school year, her sister was taken from her family and called to be with God.  From what?  Complications during a surgery related to cystic fibrosis.  My faith was tested then because I was angry with God.  It was the first true test of my faith at that time.  I didn't understand why God would take someone so young, someone who was making the world better.  But it took that student - a little 11 year-old girl to show me an unshakable, unbreakable, everlasting faith in the Lord.  In the next few days I spent visiting her at home, attending the visitation and funeral, and her return to school, she showed me a faith in God and His promises more clearly than anyone had to that point in my life.  Over the next few days she showed me the faith I needed to have.  An 11 year-old.  I have carried the things she taught me for over a decade and man, have I needed them now.  A little over a year ago a friend of mine from college lost her little boy suddenly in the middle of the night.  No warning, no illness.  With a toddler and a little one on the way, I struggled.  I struggled in my own faith.  I prayed for my friend and her family and I watched her strength in leaning on her family and her faith to get through it.  I am not sure there is a day that goes by that I don't think of her and her son and I continue even now to see her strength, even though I don't get to talk to her in person.  I always questioned if my faith was that strong and God must have wondered the same, as I am being tested now.  Over the last few months I have watched a mutual friend of mine and Matt's lose their little boy - just a few months old.  I have watched her unshakable faith in the Lord to get through what is no doubt the hardest time in her life.  I have found strength from each of these ladies in their ability to completely turn over their trust and worries to the Lord.  I am grateful for the strength these three ladies have shown to me and the example they have set in my life and so grateful to our Lord for hand-picking them to be a part of my life.

Our last few months have been more enjoyable.  I am getting more sleep, and my hair is even starting to grow back slowly (although only a few inches, it sticks out everywhere and I still struggle to hide it).  Despite 5 rounds of mastitis, I am blessed to be able to still provide for Norah and pump multiple times a day.  By this point it is becoming painful and uncomfortable and sometimes a inconvenient hassle, but I am thankful to be able to feel like I am doing my part to help Norah and keep her healthy and that makes it ALL worth it.  Norah's appointments have gone better each visit and I am happy to say that she is even on the growth chart now.  There are still days that are a struggle, as I am sure that every family has.  But those are the days I  pray the hardest.  The doctors have said Norah may just continue to be a "medical mystery" and we may never get the answers we set out to find.  I know now if we do get them, it will be in God's time.

Norah's appointment last week at the hospital was one of the last ones for a little while.  The specialist feels she is doing so well that he is turning us back over to our pediatrician.  She is gaining weight slowly and hitting all the developmental milestones expected.  While this is the best news we could have asked for - especially this time of year - this is the only visit that I have cried.  I'm not usually a crier, so this threw Matt for a loop, especially since it was good news.  I told Matt I just didn't understand why I was getting to leave the hospital with a perfect little girl while my other two friends didn't walk out with their little boys at all.  Again, I am reminded that I am part of God's perfect plan and I have to have faith.  I have to trust that He knows what is best and that I need to focus my life on being a living testimony for Him.  I am to live in a way that other people see Him through me.
Norah at Children's Hospital in front of the Christmas tree in the waiting room of the specialist's office

I walk into 2015 a changed person.  I am not the same person that I was this time last year - not the same mom, not the same wife, not the same teacher.  I am a control-freak and want to do something with 100% of my energy and attention and that just hasn't happened this year.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to my job and sometimes a borderline workaholic.  I function under the rule that if I want it done right, I have to do it myself.  I know now that all of these things have kept me from having the relationship with God that I need to have.  I CAN'T do it all (man, it even hurts to type the words out) and I certainly can't do them on my own.  I NEED God's help.  I realize now that my own stubbornness to think what I can do is best is a lack of faith that God knows best, that God will provide, and that God is in control.  I have had to ask for help a lot this year (NOT an easy thing for me to do) and I have had to depend on others for help this year (again, NOT an easy thing for me to do).  I have depended on my husband more than I like, along with my parents, coworkers, and some friends, to get things done that need to be done.  Asking for help each time has been difficult, but I am slowly learning to trust.   

This year has certainly brought a dose of reality for me.  I used to turn my nose up at the teacher that walked in in the morning as the kids walked down the hall.  (Guilty)  I used to scowl at the mom who bribed her kids to be good while out running errands.  (Guilty)  Shake my head at the mom who sent their child to school unknowingly with a fever.  (Guilty)  Roll my eyes at the mom who forgot to send their child to school with lunch.  (Did it)  Raise an eyebrow at the person who left the house in shoes that didn't match.  (Yep, been there)  I've learned that I don't know what everyone is facing when no one is watching.  I've learned that single moms deserve a medal.  I've learned that it certainly isn't my job to pass judgement, but to pass on compassion and understanding.  I've learned to be more sensitive to recognizing when others may need help, although they may not say it.  I carry all of these lessons with me every single day. 

I may never know the answers to all my questions from this year.  Why couldn't Grandmother make it just a few more weeks to see Norah?  Why so much sickness?  Why did Norah struggle so much in gaining weight?  2014 has taught me to stop dwelling on the questions, but to focus on the here and now.  There is no doubt that I will continue to think of my grandmother every day this coming year, but I am blessed in the time I had with her and the time she had with her great grandkids.  I am blessed with 2 amazing children and the chance to be their mom every single day.  In 2015 I will hug my kids tighter.  I will trust more.  I will pray more.  I will help others more.  I will confidently go into 2015 knowing that I can do ALL things with Christ who gives me strength.     


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back to Look Forward

Well, I successfully didn't write a single family blog post in 2013 after my New Year's post.  Pitiful.  There were blog posts - almost one every day, but they were for my kids in my class room, not the family.  Oh well. 

Before I can kiss 2013 goodbye, I figured that I needed a good laugh by looking at my resolutions post to see how poorly I did at keeping them.  Since I could not even remember over half of them before I looked at the post, my hopes were not very high. 

#1 - Read a book a month - HALF SUCCESS
Well, by my count I read about 6 novels over the past year.  Not quite one a month and most of the books were read between the months of April to August.  Needing to pick 4 summer reading books for our grade level actually pushed me to read a bit more than I would have on my own.  My greatest recommendation for this year is Wonder  by R.J. Palacio.  If you haven't read it - kids or no kids - it is a great book and a quick read.  It is a story of understanding what others go through that have far more challenges than I do. 

#2 - Finish Aiden's room - SUCCESS!
Aiden's room is as finished as it is going to be - just in time for him to move out :)

#3 - Complete our wedding album - NOPE
Didn't even start.  Didn't even touch the boxes.  Celebrated our five year anniversary this past summer and no album to look through.  Guess that means this one rolls over to next year...

#4 - Lose 8 pounds - TOSS OUT
Well, we are going to have to throw this one out.  I did lose some weigh - possibly even 5 to 8 pounds - toward the start of the year, but then I got pregnant.  While the first few months of a pregnancy are always typical weight loss times for me, it is safe to say the weight loss has now stopped. 

#5 - Exercise - NOPE
I still can't say I have found a successful way to fit this into my schedule and life.  Granted, I am not counting the last 6 months or so that I have been pregnant.  I just still have not found the time to be the teacher I want to be, the mom I am desperately trying every day to be, the wife I continue to work hard to be, and then still have time in the day to take 30 minutes for me to exercise.  Needs. More. Work. 

#6 - Schedule time to clean - NOPE
Our house is still a mess.  Adding another kid to the mix is only going to make this place worse.  I am - by nature - not a neat person and this continues to be a daily struggle.  There is far more digging we could go into this issue, but for now let's just call this a big fat fail. 

#7 - Aiden's 2012 scrapbook - SUCCESS!
I am proud to say that this one is successfully completed!  Photos are uploaded, organized, scrapbook was even made and printed and given to each grandmother. 

#8 - Get involved at church - HMMMMMM
Can't say I can check this one off yet.  We have gone to church more this year than last year, but I can't say we have become more involved.  However, I am hoping that will change as Matt and I signed up for a program at the church this past week.  Hopefully this opportunity will give us a chance to become more connected to other people there. 

#9 - Focus on friends - SORT OF
I think I have made more time to see friends this year, but I can't say I am where I would like to be.  The friends I see the most are my friends at work (even spending time with them outside of work), which is great - I work with amazing, supportive, caring women - but I also want to maintain relationships with my high school and college friends better than I am now. 

#10 - Learn photography - NOPE
Fail.  Still a goal for the future and still a hobby I enjoy and want to know more about.  I even talked to Matt about possibly taking classes at Jeff State.  Guess when the spring class is offered?  Mid March into mid April.  Not going to work for this family. 

#11 - Sign Language - NOPE
I hate to admit, but I think much of what I learned from years ago is slipping away.  This is actually another class I looked into at Jeff State, but much like the photography class, it is offered right after baby comes.  Two words - summer term?

#12 - Grading papers - SUCCESS!
I am proud to say that I have done better at this than in years past.  So much so that Matt has even made comments!  That's progress!  I can't say I have mastered the art of grading yet or completely had it all under control (I have spent the last two days grading and will spend most of tomorrow grading papers since grades are due for the semester on Thursday), but I have been consciously more diligent and organized and purposeful about it. 

#13 - Write a children's book - NOPE
Much like the wedding album, I can't say that I touched this one with a ten-foot pole.  I knew it was a lofty goal and truthfully, just wanted to have a concept and possibly even a draft done, but neither happened.  It is still a goal, just one for another year. 

Well, by my count that's 3 goals met, 2 halfway met, 1 thrown out, and 7 not met at all.  Oh well.  While it seems that most of the year was a fail, there were plenty of things that weren't really recorded on the list of resolutions that did see some improvement.  I have cooked more thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest (again, we are throwing out the past few months of pregnancy when I could barely step in a grocery store without getting sick).  School work has been under a little better control and I have not had as many days of staying as late as I usually do.  There are still many, many, many areas for improvement - but hey, that list is what the first day of the new year is for, right?  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Resolutions

Unlike many of the other posts, this one is NOT going to be all about Aiden.  This post is actually going to be about me.  (Mommies have to do those things sometimes)  So, if you are looking for an Aiden update, you may want to stop reading.  Oh - if you don't like New Year's  resolutions posts, this also isn't going to be the post for you.  

About two weeks ago I was looking for tape in my top bedside table drawer.  In rummaging through the mess, I came across the list I made of resolutions from last year.  There were about 10 on the list and most were not completed.  Some were close, some were never even started.  So, this year I am putting it all out there - all 13 resolutions for 2013 - in hopes that it will keep me accountable if they are in print and where others can see. 

So here they are - in no particular order - my 13 resolutions in honor of 2013.

1.  Read a Book a Month
Seems pretty simple, but I have realized lately I hardly read anymore (outside of my classroom or to a little blonde-haired boy).  I read the Hunger Games series this summer and really enjoyed reading again and the conversation I was able to have with my kids about the book when school started.  So I want to try to pick one book and read it each month.  I am fine if the book is from the bookshelf in my classroom or if it is a book just for me, I just want to make sure I am taking the time to read.   

2. Finish Aiden's Room
Yes, unfortunately, Aiden's room is not finished.  Yes, he is 19 months old today.  It's not too far from completion, but the bottom line is that it is still not done.  It is something I sigh and groan about every night when I rock Aiden to sleep.  In the last few days it has really bothered me more, so I think I have a plan.  Now just finding the time to do it...

3.  Complete our Wedding Album
Yes, that's right.  Our 5 year anniversary is coming up this summer and we have no album to look at.  Ridiculous, I know.  It is a combination of things that I have led to this neglect.  There was some time after wedding I couldn't even look through the pictures (we won't go down that road).  Then we found out we were pregnant and sold the house in the same month, so we packed up the proofs in boxes and they haven't been touched since.  It will be done this year.  

4. Lose 8 Pounds
Let's go ahead and get the cliche' resolution out of the way.  This is actually one of the resolutions I accomplished from my list last year.  I wanted to lose 10 pounds, so Matt and I started Weight Watchers back in August and loved it.  I met my goal, but felt there was a little more I could lose.  Now that I have gained several pounds back from my goal weight, I think losing 8 pounds will be a reasonable goal to lose the weight I have put back on and then put me where I want to be.  

5.  Exercise
To follow up the weight loss goal, exercise seems appropriate.  When we initially set out to lose the weight this summer and fall, there was not much exercise involved - the program just helped us learn to eat right.  However, I need to exercise for more reasons than just losing weight.  My goal: exercise just twice a week.  Even if it is just running on the elliptical or playing Wii Just Dance, I am hoping if I start out small and simple.  The challenge right now is finding the time to do it.  If I can start out small and find little chunks of time to develop a healthy habit, I am hoping I can build on it later.   

6.  Schedule Time to Clean
It's no surprise that our house isn't as clean as it needs to be or I would like it to be.  (Is anyone's house?)  With a little one, I need to figure out a scheduled, methodical way to clean the house.  A deep cleaning usually only gets done when we are having company over. (Like last night when I was scrubbing floors for my niece to come over)  The problem?  We rarely have people over.  Eventually the job of cleaning the WHOLE house becomes so overwhelming I shy away from doing it.  I plan on coming up with a schedule of small cleaning chores to be done on the weekend (by Matt and me) so that each month every part of the house gets cleaned at some point.  I am hoping this will help us stay cleaner at the Tanner house!  

7.  Complete Aiden's 2012 Scrapbook
For Christmas we gave my mom, Matt's mom, and my grandmother another volume of Aiden's Adventures, the photo book I started last year.  The problem is that it hasn't been created yet.  I want to make sure I get the photos organized, BACKED UP, create the photo book, and then get it printed.  I would love for this to be done before I need to worry about creating his book for 2013.  (I am a little overwhelmed just typing it!)

8.  Get Involved at Church
We joined a church and love it, but we are only going to service on Sundays.  The problem is that we have had some bumps in the road with an episode that happened with Aiden in the nursery.  It took me a little while to go back to church to trust to leave Aiden in the care of the nursery.  (Truthfully, it was not until he graduated to the next room with a different teacher)  Since then we have started going back when we are healthy, but it has been a struggle.  Aiden SCREAMS when we drop him off and if he actually makes it through service without us being paged out, is usually is still crying when we return.  All that to say, I don't concentrate much while we are actually in church.  Then that means I am definitely not jumping at the chance to go to Sunday School and leave Aiden there another hour.  (Just sounds like another hour of worry, crying, and anxiety to me)  I am hoping we can find another outlet for us to get involved - maybe attending a Wednesday service or find a small group that meets outside the Sunday time and Aiden could spend a little more time at his grandparents.  

9.  Focus on Friends
I have developed some great relationships with my coworkers, but I feel like they are really the only people I see and then hang out with on personal time.  I feel like I have fallen out of touch with friends from high school and college and miss those relationships, the girls, and the new chapters in their lives.  My high school best friend now lives about a mile away in a division of our neighborhood and I barely see her more than before they moved.  A good friend from high school lives about 25 minutes away and I have still not been out to see her now-three-month-old little boy.  I have a college friend that had a baby on the same day I did, and she has since had another child and moved away all before I was able to meet Aiden's birthday buddy.  I feel like I am missing out on these relationships and the events these important people to my life are going through.  I want to make a concerted effort to spend one evening a month with friends, be it one friend or many.

10.  Learn Photography
I have been saying for quite some time I wanted to learn the art of photography.  As a birthday present last year my parents gave me a photography class session (which I loved) and as a Christmas present this year I was given the money from my parents to get a better lens to practice these skills.  I want to purchase the lens and learn a little more about how to manually take better photos.

11.  Sign Language
As I have said before, I love sign language and wish I knew more.  Aiden seems to enjoy it and learn quickly.  I want to find a way to learn more sign language myself, either through a video or book, and then teach to Aiden.  

12.  Grading Papers
I needed a "teacher" goal and tried to think what aspect of my job (that I can control) that provides me with the most anxiety - grading papers.  Teaching American history AND English sets me up with a lot of papers to grade for 2 classes.  I need to be better about getting feedback to my kids quickly.  So my goal will be to get all graded assignments back to my kids within one week of the assignment being turned in.  All writing assignments need to be back to my kids within two weeks.  Matt even laughed at this one and said it will be the hardest goal for me to reach.  Not only will this task be a challenge within itself, but it is truly a year-long goal, not one that can be accomplished and put a checkmark next to.  This one will certainly keep me busy!

13.  Write a Children's Book
This is something that I have really wanted to do for the past several years.  I collect children's books and have plenty at the house, so I have done my research.  I want to really focus on writing one of my own this year.  This goal will be a challenge, especially because it is not one I plan to focus on until school is out this summer.  After writing I want to begin research on how to get it published.  I am not crazy enough to think this can all happen this year, but I would at least like to draft and write my own book and then begin the process of getting it published.  

There they are - my 13 of 2013.  I am prepared for the challenge, because it will surely be one!  I am curious to look back at this post in the summer to see how progress is coming.  These resolutions are going to make my daily planner a necessity in my life!  I know resolutions can get a bad wrap, but I am hoping to turn that around and turn them into the reason for a family, friend, fulfilling, feel-good year!  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tanner Top 5

On Christmas Eve it was brought to my attention that I have not posted to the blog in quite some time!  (Thanks Madelyn)  Always something I wish I did a better job of, but just something that continues to be pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.  Since there is much to catch up on and not enough time to do it at the moment, I figured it best to start with something small - a Tanner Top 5 list.  

So (in no particular order) are my 


I have always had a fascination with sign language, which was heightened by the hearing-impaired student I taught a few years ago.  I tried to take sign language classes in college, but in the education department, hours and internships did not allow for it as an elective class.  After teaching Yaseen a few years ago I was able to learn some basic signs to be able to communicate.  I told Matt I wanted to teach our kids signs to be able to communicate at a time where speech was not yet possible.  I was only too thrilled to learn in August that his two teachers would also teach signs for communication.  In this photo, Aiden is signing "more" (or his version of it in October/November where he slapped one fist into his palm rather than the two fists together).  Presently, Aiden can sign several different toddler necessities (in his own versions, of course).  He now signs "more" with his two fists together.  He signs "milk" by squeezing his fists in and out.  He signs "please" by patting both hands on his chest.  He signs "thank you" by putting his open palm in front of his mouth.  He can also wave bye and nod "yes" and "no."  We are working on "mommy" and "daddy."  It may be a double-edged sword because Aiden has been a little slow to talk, something the doctor suggested could be because he communicates so effectively with signs and doesn't need the verbal language to tell his wants and needs.  Either way, I love that the little guys is soaking it all in and am eager to learn more signs to be able to teach him in the future.  


I certainly have a little brown-eyed boy!  At times I am not even sure it is fair to call them brown, but a deep chocolate.  They are almost so dark that it is hard to tell the pupil from the iris in his eyes.  He has these big ol' eyes that tell me when he is sad, scared, happy, mischievous, or sleepy.  I love his big brown eyes and have adored them since the day he was born!  


Over the past 6 months Aiden has developed a love for books.  (Not that I left him much of a choice)  He would almost rather read or flip through a book than play with any other toy. The first week of school Aiden's teachers told me that he would pick up some of the books around the room and offer them to his friends who were crying, sort of a "here, this helps me feel better" offering.  Aiden absolutely loves board books and flipping the pages on his own and we spend a lot of time pointing out animals and objects in the illustrations on the pages.  It is usually only before bedtime he has the patience to actually allow me to read the story on the page.  Some of his favorite books are currently Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Five Little Pumpkins, Baby Beep Beep, and Little Blue Truck.


If it is a form of transportation, Aiden is ALL about it!  For several months now he has been fascinated by an airplane flying through the sky.  We can be eating, watching tv, or playing in the house and he will stop suddenly and point to the sky and - sure enough - you can faintly hear an airplane fly overhead.  He can see the smallest plane or light flying through the sky and follow it until it is out of sight.  Living close to a railroad track, we often hear the train come through, sometimes several times an hour.  Aiden can be playing in the house and suddenly stop and start pumping his fist like a train conductor, his sign for the train.  Aiden loves sitting in the front yard and watching the cars and trucks drive by.  He is usually content for quite some time to take his toy truck, car, or bus and run it along the couch, making his car sound by sticking his tongue out and making his car sound.  After this Christmas he certainly has a wide array of trucks to choose from!  I am hoping this interest sticks around - I feel a theme already in the making for his second birthday party!


Aiden is such a happy little guy with such a great temperament.  My sister has said it best several times that he "just loves life."  The smallest things intrigue Aiden and the biggest things fill him with overwhelming excitement and he jumps up and down and flaps his arms with glee.  He laughs all the times and is truly filled with curiosity and wonder.  He watches everything we do and if he gets in trouble, it is usually trying to copy something we are doing that he shouldn't be.  (Don't get me wrong, he is all BOY and TODDLER and gets into messes and tests boundaries!)  Aiden smiles so much and gets tickled so easily.  I love hearing his laugh and watching him run and dance and jump.  I am so thankful for this little guy and the joy he brings to our life!    

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Lately I have been meaning to write about Aiden, not just for friends, but as a keepsake for me.  I am sorry to say that life has gotten in the way so many times and I have not done the job I should at keeping track of his milestones and life.  It certainly makes me nervous for future kids if I am this bad with the first!  He is at such a fun age right now and I absolutely LOVE watching him learn each day and the excitement with which he does it.  I have treasured this summer and the time I have been able to spend with him, because I realized this weekend that it is quickly drawing to a close.

Right now Aiden is about 32 inches tall - he was in the 70th percentile at his 1 year check-up.  Aiden is around 22 pounds now - in the 7th percentile at his 1 year check-up.  This little guy is still wearing just a size 2 diaper and still fits into some 6 month clothes, like the onsies.  He mostly wears 9 month clothes.  His head is where we impress the doctor - at over 21 inches he was in the 99th+ percentile at his one year check-up.  (The plus being because he was off the chart!)  He has sandy blonde hair and big brown eyes.  He has four teeth now - a top tooth and third bottom tooth broke through the second week in June.  Unfortunately, this means we are still cutting up food into little tiny bites, as he is still gumming most of his food.  He still has one crinkled ear, just like his dad.  He wears a tiny little size 4 shoe and is doing well with actually walking in his shoes and keeping them on!  He seems to be right-handed, despite what we thought earlier.  He tends to use his right hand to do things, like eat or pick up his toys.  He then passes things to his left hand to hold while he walks around or picks up something else.  He still loves the show "Blue's Clues."  While he no longer watches a full episode, it is the only show that will hold any attention of his at all.  Well, that and the theme song to "Big Bang Theory."   

Summer has spoiled me in many ways.  The best has been being able to get Aiden when he wakes up in the morning.  Aiden usually wakes up around 8:00 right now, but will sit in his bed and talk and walk around for about an hour.  It is so funny to hear him through the monitor talk with himself and try to form words.  He will walk from side to side and even play with his bumper.  The game usually ends, though, when Aiden throws his paci out of the crib and onto the floor.  It is then that he starts to cry the classic, whiny, tearless cry until someone comes to get him.  I have loved getting to see the BIG smile when I come through the door.  I have also come to adore our nighttime routine.  I am the one that gets to rock Aiden to bed each evening and it is one of my favorite times of the day!  He has come to know the routine - plug in and turn on the night light, turn on the monitor, turn on the sound machine, and turn off the light.  By the time I sit in the rocker, he has taken hold of both of my arms and laid his head on my chest.  With as active as he is these days, it is usually not long before he is off to dreamland!

Aiden still crosses his feet often.  Here, he he asleep (on his tummy, his new preferred way to sleep) with his feet crossed.  He even crosses his feet while sitting in the high chair and eating.  Aiden also still has very busy hands!  It is easy to tell when Aiden is becoming upset or anxious because he curls his hands.  Mom and Dad says he is revving his motorcycle.  The funny thing is that he even does it with his feet!  If he is in the carset or high chair, it is so funny to see all four turning in circles.  He has been doing this since he was very small, but I am surprised it is something that has stuck with him! 

Aiden is still quite the curious little guy.  He still lives true to the nickname "Analyzing Aiden," which he has had since he was very small.  He loves to look in things, check things out, and will turn things over and over in his hands.  Unfortunately, this curiosity ends with him sticking the object in his mouth.  This was a the case a few weeks ago when Aiden popped a live wasp in his mouth.  Aiden was in the pack and play next to me while I was taking a shower.  While rinsing my hair, he began to make a choking noise.  I quickly jumped out of the shower and swiped his mouth, only to pull out a wasp, still squirming.  Needless to say, the wasp didn't make it - and mommy about didn't either.  I don't know how it didn't sting him, but it sure gave me a scare!

Aiden started walking on Father's Day this year.  As with everything else he has done, it was as if a light switch flipped and he decided today would be the day he made it happen.  He had taken a series of three or four steps for a few weeks, but that Sunday he let go of the coffee table and walked across the den.  Then he did it again.  And again!  Then he woke up the next morning and did it ever more! The next week he was able to change direction and turn around.  The next week he was walking quickly and not holding his hands out in front of him like a zombie.  He still falls on occasions, but has never once cried or whined when he hits the floor.  He gave up crawling for good and has been quite the little mover and shaker ever since.  The other day he crawled across the floor and it took me a moment to realize what looked so unnatural.  He really hasn't crawled since he found out walking was so much better!

Aiden has a big, beautiful smile and he smiles and laughs all the time!  He is ticklish on his thigh, tummy, and neckbone.  Tickling his neck gets a good, hard belly laugh!  When he laughs really hard he squeals and it is hard not laugh with him.  The easiest way to get the squeal out of him is to chase him.  It is so much fun to hear him laugh so often and I am so blessed to have such a happy baby! 

Even though it has been summer, we have been doing a LOT of learning!  Aiden is still not able to do a lot of things that require fine motor skills, such as a wave, pointing, or touching specific things like his nose.  We have been working on word recognition with some of his toys, learning the name of a new toy each week.  So far, we have learned paci, juice, Baby Beep Beep (the name of his favorite board book), monkey, Blue (his stuffed animal from Blue's Clues), and giraffe.  It is fun to see him scan the room for the item I call out and when he sees it, there's a big grin.  Then he walks over and picks it up. 

We also worked on meal time in June.  His high chair has two cup holders on either side.  We have taught him to put his paci in one cup holder and his cup in the other.  Despite his small weight, Aiden is quite the eater, shoveling food in without looking up, much less chewing.  He scoops all the pieces of food like jacks or stacks the pieces like checkers and pops them in his mouth.  We have to tell him "Juice" to get him to slow down and take a sip.  He'll take a sip, then put the cup back in the cupholder.  The funny part is to call "Juice" several times and he promptly picks up the cup, then immediately places it back in the cupholder and looks for his next food.  We have also learned he tends to throw the cup on the floor when he is full and done eating, a habit we are trying to discourage with a stern "NO!" but his his smile makes it difficult to be stern!  At the beach he dangled his cup over the edge and looked at each family member at the table to hear each individual say "No Aiden!"  After polling each person at the top, he then dropped it to the floor.  Let's just say it's a work in progress.

After finishing his meal and taking away the tray I always turn around to find Aiden digging.  He has learned that the catch all at the bottom of his bib usually holds a few extra surprises!

Aiden is a funny little guy that always makes me laugh.  Lately he has started planting on one foot and pivoting around.  Matt is sure he is to be a basketball player.  He will spin himself until he falls down.  He has learned how to step over the open safety gate by holding on to the side and is wanting to crawl up stairs less, but go up and down them with help.  He loves to take things out of something and then put them back in.  (Lately this has been emptying my purse and instead filling it with his large legos)  He loves taking his toys out of their box and putting them back in.  The toys or anything else he can find to take out...

Aiden is also in love with a box lid in our bedroom.  He has had the best time lately stepping into the box...

...and then sitting in the box triumphantly with his juice or toys, looking around to see if anyone has witnessed his accomplishment.

Aiden has also become fixed on stacking things.  I think it comes from playing with his big legos, which he got for his birthday from our neighbors.  It is funny to walk in a room and find little things stacked on the floor, a sure sign that Aiden has been there.  He loves stacking the cups in the kitchen in a cabinet we made just for him.  He loves stacking anything else he can find around the house...

I also forget how Aiden is a sponge and soaking up everything he sees and hears.  It's amazing how fast he learns and what he picks up just by watching his parents...

Last week Aiden had another first - we played hide-and-seek.  I went to pick him up from my parents' house and after changing his diaper in the bedroom, we suddenly became engaged in a game!  Aiden would toddle out of the bedroom into the den and Mom and I would quickly find a hiding spot - nothing too tough to find, just a spot behind a piece of furniture.  Aiden would toddle back in, find my mother first, and then my mom would prompt him to look for me.  He would walk through the room and when he found me, squeal with delight, and walk back out of the room.  My mom would hide in the same spot each time, while I tried to move spots.  He would find my mom, my mom would prompt him to find me, and he would go back to the last spot I hid.  It would take him a few minutes to find me in one of my three hiding spots, but when he did he would squeal, walk back out of the room, and come back in a few minutes later.  The game went on for about half an hour!  It was a small step, but made me very excited for the games to come!

We have had a lot of fun this summer and been able to spend some time with friends.  The friend Aiden has spent the most time with is his cousin, Haleigh. 

Sweet Haleigh has come to think that Aiden is SO funny!  She loves to watch him walk around the room with a BIG smile on her face!  She doesn't even mind when Aiden takes her toys right out of her hands.  It has been such a fun summer hanging out with her and Lauren!

Aiden has also been able to spend time with his birthday buddy, Madden!  We have run into Jordan and Madden several times and the boys have been able to walk and talk together - and even share breakfast!  It is so crazy to think that this time last year both boys were just tiny little babies!  I cannot wait until next summer when we can do some many fun things with our friends!

 If there is one thing I have learned about this little boy this summer, it is that he LOVES the water!  It doesn't matter when or where - he has a blast!  It doesn't matter if it is in the bath...

  or if it is in the ocean...

or if it is just in his little pool in the backyard! 

He absolutely loves the water!  He splashes his arms into the water and completely soaks himself, but he seems to think it is funny!  He loves the splash pad at the neighborhood pool and is learning how to navigate the baby pool.  It is hard to believe that his first steps ever were back in May in that baby pool.  He used the water to help pick up his feet and learn how to move.  Now, he is walking all around the pool!  He even has a float that he uses with Matt in the big pool!  He has been tough to keep up with this summer around the pool, but I am sure next summer will bring an even bigger challenge!

Last update on the list is the beach!  We spent a week in July with the family at the beach, and what a trip it was!  Aiden of course loved the ocean, but HATED the sand.  He would sit in the sand and play, all the while moaning a tearless cry.  He didn't like the sand on his toes or his hands and was perfectly fine sitting in someone's lap in a chair. 

The place where we stayed was perfect - there was plenty of space for Aiden to run until he wore himself out!  Aiden was free to check on my mom in the kitchen, peek in on Lauren, Hunter, and Haleigh in their room, pop into our bedroom, swing by the couch to check on Grandmother, and double check on my dad as he read his book in one of the chairs.  The place even had plenty of room for the kids and their toys!  (Which was great, because we spent WAY more time in the condo than on the beach!)

The place even had a HUGE patio outside overlooking the harbor.  It connected to a large patio where we were able to set up the baby pool and let Aiden roam around until he needed to take a break.  Aiden even had a good time playing in the rain one afternoon! 

The beach was certainly a lot of fun and a learning experience!  The ride down and back was double the usual time it takes, the amount of stuff we took down was easily doubled, but we also doubled the fun!  I can't wait for next summer, when I am sure Aiden will then hate the ocean and love the sand!

As summer gets shorter each day, I am realizing that I won't be there for each and every milestone anymore.  I am envious that his teachers will hear his giggle more than I will and see him play with his new friends and cross his little feet while he eats his lunch.  I wouldn't have traded our summer together for anything!  I never take a day for granted and remember to thank God each night for such an amazing little boy.  He is truly a joy and so happy about life.  I look forward to each and every day we are able to spend with him! 

And last, but not least, I will leave you with sweet Aiden's first trip to play at the neighborhood park...