Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From The Artist's Desk

These are just a few of Jonah's latest drawings. Trust me, I've got a drawer full of more like these and another half dozen on my refrigerator. He's suddenly blossomed into a drawing machine and is pulling out pencils and drawing paper throughout the day. Not that I'm complaining.

Much of his artwork is based upon Thomas the train related characters and scenes. It's especially cute to watch him work on all of the intricate details. He will even put in one of his DVD's, get it to a particular scene, freeze frame it and then sit by the coffee table drawing out what he sees on the television. So creative!

While it can be annoying to constantly find pencils and paper scattered about my living room and tables, I am more than happy to let him get his creative juices flowing. Even if that does mean that most often his subjects are trains and crabby old Diesel 10 (his favorite). One day he'll draw a beautiful portrait of his mother.

By then I may be old and gray and full of wrinkles, but I'm sure he'll capture each and every one of them in a beautiful way.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Easter In Photos

Ready for the Easter Egg hunt on Holy Saturday. It was windy and cold. Can you tell? Spot Lily, Jonah and Gianna, along with great-nieces and great-nephew. Lots of fun, despite the cold.

Isn't great-niece #4 a darling little bunny?

Lily's on the hunt

A little Easter project from the kitchen that Reed and I tried, Hidden Surprise Easter Egg Treats (here's the recipe). I think we'll definitely try these again and make a tradition out of these yummy treats.

Our family all dressed up after Easter morning Mass


Gianna's first Easter

All in all, it was a very peaceful and family filled weekend to celebrate His Resurrection.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celebrating 6!

Jonah turns 6 today and I can almost hardly believe it. Since Gianna's arrival, Jonah seems to have grown by leaps and bounds. Suddenly all of his features seem so much larger, he's taller and more grown up. (Well, except when he's still stubborn/crabby/overtired and all of the little boy behavior comes out) But really, most of the time I'm quite amazed as I watch my little man develop and grow before my very eyes.

Since his birthday falls on Holy Thursday this year, we chose to celebrate last Sunday with cake and ice cream. I was determined not to let another birthday be celebrated with either a Thomas the train themed cake or a train of any sort. I did some scouting around online and found that the Parenting website had a number of great kids cake ideas. Jonah ended up choosing the Wii Remote cake, which is fitting for my little Wii addict fan. I found images of his favorite Mario Kart (his favorite Wii game currently) characters and printed them off to put around the cake. As usual, the prep was a little bit more time consuming and I had to improvise, but in the end it all turned out.

Can you tell how much the Birthday Boy loves his cake?

Happy 6th Birthday to my favorite (and only) son!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Labor of Love (Part 2)

Continuing Gianna's birth story...

Click here to read Part 1.

Reed and I walked the halls. I grasped firmly to his hand and the strategically placed, sturdy railing along the walls. I found myself grateful that our hospital had just opened up a new labor and delivery wing last fall just for me. Well, not really, but it made walking around and around that section much more interesting since it was new territory for me to labor in. It kept my mind off of the increasing contractions and their strength. I'm not sure how long we walked. I think maybe an hour or so.

Arriving back in my room to get blood pressure checked, etc. I decided that the back labor had increased in intensity and walking wasn't what I wanted to be doing any longer. The huge tub was not appealing either and I opted for laying in bed. I knew I had time to go yet, but also knew I was fairly far along too. Back labor tends to be my worst enemy during labor and delivery. It's strength is usually far surpassing the rest of what is going on at that time. Reed knows that when I'm laboring I will ask for what I need from him and I knew that the low back rubbing wasn't going to cut it.

Contractions became closer and intense and I remember getting almost to the edge of feeling like it's just too overwhelming. I pull myself back and take relaxing breaths, it's all a part of bringing this precious little one into the world. I can do this. At some point I begin silently praying in my mind. I try a Hail Mary with each contraction as I am breathing thru it, but even the Hail Mary is too long and my focus isn't there. Instead, I tried another prayer. 'For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world' from the Divine Mercy chaplet. It worked. Its length and the focus were just about right and helped me remain in control throughout the contraction. I'm not sure how many chaplets I prayed over the next two hours, but it was a helpful and meaningful distraction for me and got me through.

At some point the nausea overtook me and I finally threw up. While I've had nausea with each of my children's births, I've done all I could to keep things down. I just couldn't do it this time. It was disgusting to go through the remainder of my labor with that nasty taste, no matter how much water I drank. Yuck.

Time went on and I think Dr. K checked me again more than once. I was near 10cm dilated, but not fully thinned out yet and that's what we were waiting for. Periodically baby's heart rate was monitored and everything sounded fine. Dr. K and the nurse kept vigil and waited. The nurse asked if I felt like pushing, but I knew I didn't. Not yet. The urgency wasn't there. With the passing of time and the intense pain, I began to wonder what on earth possessed us to want to go through this again? But with each of those thoughts, the excitement of seeing this baby's face would soon overcome it all. For this child we prayed, we hoped, we had waited and in mere minutes I would hold this child. The baby blessing long awaited.

I continued to try and keep focused through the labor. My eyes were closed, my breathing regular. All was ready and I told the nurse I'd give pushing a try. I had forgotten how the feeling of pushing felt and it hurt. I wasn't really sure I wanted to do all this work any more. But then I would hear the little ones heartbeat through the monitor and I was reminded of the reward. Some contractions were good and strong and others were only meager and hardly worth the effort of pushing. I would occasionally open my eyes and see my doctor patiently waiting. He knew I could do this and I'd let him know when I needed him most. But still, I noticed how he was still far away. Standing over there and not over here by the bed. Not good. It meant that I'd be pushing for a while longer.

I eventually started to feel more urgency in the pushing and contractions were closer together. I was doing a good job pushing, Reed, Dr. K and the nurse told me so and I could feel more pressure as birth was imminent. I saw another nurse enter the room and begin to make ready the area for baby. Dr. K was gowned and moved closer to my bed. It was near now. Every sign in my room said so. What eager anticipation filled me and yet fear of just making it through this. I knew I could because I'd done it before.

At some point during pushing, the nurse began giving me oxygen in between contractions since the baby's heartbeat was dropping during contractions. I remember her saying that she was going to hold the oxygen mask on me to help baby. It didn't scare me, thankfully. I'm not sure how many more pushes it took. I stayed focused with my eyes closed and worked through each contraction. Finally, baby arrived. I'm not even sure if just the head was out or the entire body, but I remember hearing my doctor counting '1...2...3...' I wasn't sure what he was counting and didn't look. At some point Reed said 'It's a girl' and I looked at my baby. Our precious baby. She was placed in my arms momentarily and I was overcome with emotion and such great love for this new life as I felt the watchful eyes of my doctor and the nurse close to us.

I then watched as my girl was taken to the other side of the room to be checked over and Reed followed. I knew he would since we had discussed it prior to birth. He had felt awful with the past births when our little ones were whisked away to the other side of the room with faces and voices that were not their parents. I wanted him to be with baby. I was being taken care of. I noticed that Dr. K was tending to me, but also looking over toward the baby. He was talking with the nurse and she was letting him know vitals. Baby was crying and had wonderful color. I don't know when I was told, but at some point in the midst of all of that I found out that what he had been counting earlier was the cord wrapped around my little girl's neck. Three times.

At the time I could see and hear that everything was fine. It was later that day that we began to think about that moment more and wonder how awful things could have become. Upon asking Dr. K later, he admitted that it could have turned out very differently. He had never delivered a baby with the cord around their neck three times, nor had delivered one with such a long cord in general. He said that it was at least 3 ft. long and baby must have been skipping rope in my belly!!

In yet another moment of grace and thankfulness, I praised God for our doctor. IF something had gone any differently or changed even in the slightest during labor and delivery, he was who I would want there by our sides caring for us. Reed and I have agreed on this numerous times.

Within minutes, my baby girl was back in my arms all snuggled up in her blanket. I cannot explain how surreal things felt in that moment. It was as if an unexplained infertility diagnosis had never happened. As if our family was always a family of five. As if my heart had never ached, had never had to hold on to hope more than my very breath. All of my fears were erased. God had seen us through four long years of waiting and nine months of preparing for this moment. My fears diminished as I beheld her in her perfection.

After our scare at sixteen weeks and the month of bedrest, everything had pretty much been 'textbook' throughout the rest of the pregnancy and all the way through delivery. There had been so many prayers prayed and in that moment I felt each of them and knew they had been answered.

We treasured those first moments with our baby perhaps more than we even had before. We still debated on the name, since we had come to the hospital with two names for each gender. It became clear though that this little girl had been watched over and protected for so long by a very special woman. It was because of our encounter with this woman almost two years ago that she was even here at all. Yes, this girl was OUR Gianna, our miracle. We also could not deny the numerous times that roses were sent in various ways through the intercession of St. Therese throughout this pregnancy. Rose.

Gianna Rose, born at 5:49am on February 17, 2011.

Our child. Our Baby Blessing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Labor of Love

I'm finally getting around to writing Gianna's birth story. I've had intentions of doing it sooner, but just haven't had the time. She's 8 weeks old TODAY already. Not that you all want to read her birth story or that it is so amazing, but it is after all HER STORY and I wanted to write it for my own memory too.

Without further ado....Gianna's story...

First, I have to start by letting you know that at my doctor's visit on her due date (February 14th), I was dilated to 5cm and had no contractions thus far. My doctor also hooked me up to monitors that day to watch and see if I had contractions and to make sure baby was doing well. Yup, all was well and even he was disappointed that there was no further progress. Truthfully, I think he was getting a little nervous to send me home again since he had been convinced that with me that dilated and this being my third baby that things would progress quickly. I was set for induction on that Friday, February 18th.

The next couple days passed and I walked around like crazy in hopes that it would get things going. It didn't. No contractions.

On Wednesday, February 16th, the evening brought more tightening/Braxton Hicks type contractions, but nothing lasting. I was uncomfortable, but still bearable. I was sure that these would all pass and we'd go another night without a visit to the hospital. I went to bed and slept well.

At midnight I awoke to go to the bathroom and started to feel pains that felt like contractions. Amazingly, I had forgotten over the last six years exactly how contractions were suppose to feel. Were these real? I got my watch and started timing them. They were sporadic and within the hour got to about 5 minutes apart. I decided I should wake up Reed and call the doctor. I told him I thought it was time and that I had been contracting. He slowly moved out of bed and began getting ready. The contractions started to feel stronger and I started to panic a bit. I then said, 'I think we need to get moving and should be calling somebody.' I wasn't sure who that somebody was at that particular moment, but I was feeling an urgency to get moving for fear that I would be bringing a baby into the world in the car!!

Reed called my doctor around 1:00am and he said to come in right away, to call him again when we were at the hospital and he'd be there right away. Reed then called his parents (who live just down the driveway from us) and asked them to come out to our house to stay with the kids. It was time.

We traveled the 17 miles to the hospital and my contractions remained strong and fairly regular. I remember feeling every bump and crack in the roads in my uncomfortable state. It was foggy as we drove, but thankfully not the awful dense fog that had been predicted. I called my parents as Reed drove and asked them to pray. Their newest grandchild would hopefully be born soon.

We arrived at the hospital and called my doctor's cell phone. He said he was already there and waiting for us in labor & delivery. At some point I started to get the nausea that usually accompanies my labor. As we walked into the ER I just about lost it as I sat there waiting for Reed to park the car. I could smell new carpet and I did all I could not to throw up. I was taken up to my room, greeted by a wonderful nurse, gowned and hooked up quickly. It was around 2:00am. I began to shake and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. I wasn't really cold, it was all just a part of the laboring process. My doctor came in and greeted us with a smile. I remember even in that moment being grateful that God had gifted us with this doctor. He went ahead and checked me and I was 7cm dilated. He said if I felt comfortable, I could certainly be up and around walking. In the past that is exactly what I've done. No meds. No epidural. Relaxing, breathing, silently praying is the way I've labored with my children and I intended on doing the same again this time around.

to be continued...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I had to post this photo since there are very few with Jonah and his little sister.

In the last two weeks he has just started to ask to hold Gianna a little more and pay attention to her. It was like when she was a newborn and sleeping so much more that he either didn't notice her or he was more intimidated. Now he's finding that his little sister pays attention to him, smiles, responds and loves him! So fun to watch!

I can't wait to capture many more of these tiny moments between the two of them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First Communion Gift Ideas?

Lily's First Communion is in three weeks and we're struggling to come up with a simple gift to give our daughter. We want her to have something to remember the special day in her sacramental life, but just can't seem to come up with the perfect idea.

I already know that our parish gives each child a rosary and that she is also getting a nice prayerbook from one set of grandparents. She has already received a pretty rosary bead bracelet with a chalice charm to wear that day. She also intends on wearing a gold cross necklace that she wore on her baptism day.

So, what do we get her?

It's also unique and extra special that on the day she receives Jesus for the first time, it is the Feast of Divine Mercy and also is the same day of the beatification of Pope John Paul II. I'm not sure if we should somehow incorporate one or both of those in the gift?

Please Help!!

What did you give your child? Any unique, inexpensive, memorable gift ideas out there? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for...

Brown grass and signs of spring, even if it is just my rhubarb peeking out.

Robins in my yard.

A budding artist that loves to draw and humor me with his creations.

The return (almost) to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Piano practice right away in the morning, without prompting.

The sound of my boy reading to me.

A husband who enjoys spending time with his family and would do anything not to miss a single moment with us.

Shout and OxiClean and their attempts at getting all of the mud off of the kids' socks and pants.

Baby feet and the little girl they belong to.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Working For Me Workouts

Or otherwise titled 'I *love* Leslie Sansone'!!

I've been a fan of Leslie's Walk at Home workouts for a while and have used a 30 minute quick walk, as well as her Walk Slim 4 Fast Miles in the past.

After reading a number of posts from Jamie about her workouts, I was eager to once again jump in with Leslie. Just as before, I'm loving it!! The workouts have been perfect for me postpartum and ideal when getting outside isn't possible due to the weather or even to fit in while Gianna naps. Leslie keeps the workouts fun with her laughter and high spirits and she doesn't annoy me as much as some workout DVD's tend to do. I like that she keeps with the same simple moves in her series, but increases the intensity along the way too. It's easy to follow along and not become frustrated. That's MY kind of workout!

I went online at Walmart to order two more DVD's and I'm really liking these as well.

The Three Mile Walk even includes some of Leslie's walkers who have lost significant amounts of weight and are still on their weight loss journey. It even has "Mary Kay's mile" which is one of the other women leading that mile, instead of Leslie. A fun way to change things up a bit!

The Two Mile Hips & Thighs came along with the fit cuff in the box to work on those problem areas. I'm enjoying adding this one to the mix too.

It feels so good to be exercising again and feeling fit and healthy too! I highly recommend giving any of her DVD's a try!

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