Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our First Christmas as a family

Well to say the least it was not like any other year. Usually we spend Christmas eve with my Nonna (until she passed away) and Christmas Day at my MIL in the morning and FIL in the afternoon and maybe dessert with my sisters and the day after have Christmas with my mom and sisters and grandparents here.

With divorced parents its alot to juggle every year. Its a challenge to get to everyone and manage to get home in time for the dogs who can't be left for more than 9 hours. What I feel ends up happening is we run around to see everyone, which makes everyone else happy but us torn and frazzled.

I am definetly big into family and so is J, and although we have learned to accept the differences in our family and their dynamics. So, Christmas is generally a fun time shared with family minus all the travel for us.

This year we decided to stay home for Christmas with a 'come to us' attitude. Well no one came. Which we kind of expected. Part of me was dissapointed that all the traditions I got used to, despite the frantic pace of Christmas' past was changing.

Instead Christmas Eve we saw my mother in law and that side of the family. Enjoyed Sebatians' pizza (the best and something we used to eat with my Nonna on Christmas eve so it was kind of the same). Isabel got spoiled :) but in a good way, lots of sweet gifts including a rocking horse that makes troting and neighing noises, which by the way was hilarious once we got it home and introduced it to Ladybug and Liam! We got to spend hours with that side rather than a rushed Christmas morning so that was a plus. Isabel did well with all the family except for the fact it was evening, a tough time for her. I also overcame my breastfeeding in public/family issue.

No, I didn't whip out my boob for all to see. I used my 'udder cover' which covers Isabel's head and torso and my chest. I brought my boppy to keep her propped up and it was great. No having to sit in another room and miss all the fun. Honestly, I am not embarrassed at all, its a natural part of life and I am not shy but I respect that its still not socially acceptable to breastfeed openly so I don't mind covering up.

That night when I was putting Isabel to bed I had a terrible stomach ache which I chaulked up to a busy day and poor eating choices..... a few hours later it became apparent it was a stomach bug. So I lost half a night's precious sleep to the bathroom and all I could think about was how I was going to cook a ham for me and J the next day!

Fortunately by mid morning on Christmas I was feeling better. Isabel was unaffected and enjoyed the Christmas lights. I became more greatful that we had decided to stay home especially as I had this bug. We talked to all our family and J and I enjoyed a restful day.

Isabel played with some of her new presents and endured a photo shoot of her in her new outfits. But otherwise it felt like a normal day.

Granted, this year was low key but next year she will be bigger and playing with toys and I think it will be nice to be at home for that. My hope is we can find a way to get together with all of our family around the holidays in a way that isn't so crazed but everyone gets to see us.

Another thing that was different this year was missing the Christmas eve service. Our local church had one and so did Lanesville where I grew up. I love this service, it reminds me of the reason for this joyous season. I knew it would feel extra meaningful now that I have a child. I knew deep down we would miss it because it is just too late for Isabel but it was another changed tradition.

Though it was so different this year I can't help but reflect on the best change of all and that was our beautiful Isabel.

She really is changing so much, she is delightful. She is energetic, expressive, inquisitive and strong. She can stand up with her feet firmly planted on my legs, her head up straight and arms out. She squawks.... loudly at times and smiles so wide I think my heart just might melt one of these times. Even when I change her diaper or nurse her for the millionth time it all feels special. Our bond is deepening and its the most fulfilling feeling in the world.

So Christmas is over but our best gift didn't come in a gift wrapped package under the tree, she is however our most precious gift and I will never take that for granted.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Looking back and looking ahead

Today was a great day, Isabel and I trekked to Auntie Jess's house for a day of cookie baking (more like cookie eating for me ;)

The plan was for Jolene to come over and help and mom to stop by. Also, my dear friend Jackie was visiting family in town so she was going to stop over and meet Isabel(I hadn't seen her in years!)

In the end my dad stopped over too so really, my sister's house became a revolving door for visitors there to see us. Kind of weird when I think about it but awesome too! Would we have had a gathering like this a year ago?

Nope, for several reasons.
1. My dad and I were not getting along last Christmas
2. I usually am crazed with grading up till the last minute so driving an hour to my sisters to bake would probably lose out to the zillion of Christmas stuff I had put off until grades were done
3. I didn't see Jackie last year because of weather last year but did the year before but for dinner, so that might have happened.

So what changed?

Isabel, she is changing it all. She has brought family together and the love is multiplying. I am humbled everyday by the generosity and obvious love for her. She got adorable outfits from my sisters, a sweet towel set and mary jane socks from Jackie (she didn't know that I had been on the hunt for them for weeks!!) and an outfit from my dad. Wow!

One of my biggest aspirations in life is to enjoy my family. I feel I am like my Nonna in that way, often the peacemaker and the one that orchestrates gatherings. Sometimes its a thankless job, sometimes its aggrivating and time consuming but it really is amazing how this little girl is bringing us all much closer. I am greatful and it fills my heart with joy.

Really a year ago I was in a totally different place, wishing for a baby and praying for one and not knowing that in a few short weeks after Christmas we would know our little Isabel was on her way.

I was feeling discouraged, maybe a bit jealous of others that concieved easily and wistful thinking about what the holidays would be like with a baby.

Now, my dream is a reality and it is way better than I imagined. Of course, I am still healing physically and emotionally from the events around Isabel's birth but slowly the bad parts are fading and I am learning to cope, which is something I will talk more about in the future I am sure. For now, I am choosing a positive outlook and focusing on the positive. Its not hard when I have sweet little Isabel's face and her little cooey noises to get me through the day.

This Christmas is extra special because we have Isabel. I am thankful for answered prayer and how she is changing our family every day!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Getting out and about....lots of firsts this week

So this week Isabel and I have gotten out and about more often and had a few firsts! Here are some of the high lights:

Monday: Poor Liam was under the weather and needed to be seen so Isabel and I took Liam to the vet....I won't lie I was nervous but she was a champ and Liam was very cooperative because he wasn't feeling good. He's much better now but it could have been a disaster!

Tuesday: Isabel and I went to J's Christmas Party for kids at his work. It was at 5pm which is actually terrible for a baby, she cried most of the way there (my nerves were shot when I got there). Thankfully she livened up and was the life of the party. She saw Santa but didn't sit on his lap...surefire waterworks if you ask me! We both sighed a sigh of relief because she was sweet at the party....unfortunately the ride home was rough. Partly because I was running low on gas and gave J my wallet...he was ahead of me on the way home and had to come back to fill my car up for me Phew!

Wednesday: We went and visited our friend's Jenny and Stella. Stella is several months older than Isabel but she played nice together and it was a sweet afternoon! Usually they come to visit so it was a nice change of pace! She likes getting out and about, except during nap time (oops my bad, didn't time that well!)

Thursday: Not a new place to visit (Exeter Hospital) but it was kind of new experience for me. I had to have my follow up Diabetes bloodwork to make sure I didn't have Type II. First, I was fasting for 12h (ugh) second, I had to be there by 8:30 and third it was a chilly morning. All stressful factors. However, Isabel went with the flow and Gram and Gramp met us to help me wait out the time. What was different? Gram and Gramp took care of her while I went up to get the bloodwork. Its not that I don't trust my grandparents...I just hate leaving her! She did great though and they just love her! It was a relief not to have to manuever the small lab area with her stroller so I was so greatful and they enjoy her.

Later that day I was feeling bold and went to shop for myself for the first time. We went to Reds' Shoe Barn because none of my shoes fit my widening feet so I needed to get a couple of new pairs. Good timing huh?! I was afraid she would start fussing mid-shop but she did great. I had an awesome shoe saleswoman and she even let me leave her carrier in a corner so I could walk around and shop. I got two pairs of shoes...go me! She only fussed at the end and off we went!

Friday: Instead of going to breastfeeding support, a few of my girlfriends/momfriends met up at the mall. That was a new place we've not been to since I was pregnant and was there trying to walk her out. I of course was nervous she'd be fussy but she was a champ. We looped the mall a few times, the other babies were boys and all sleeping but she was awake and alert. It was fine, I was prepared with pumped milk and we all had a nice lunch together and the kiddos were all so laid back. I didn't buy a thing except for lunch and it was such a fun day!

Saturday: Isabel and I went shopping in Kittery. I actually got to buy Isabel clothes! I had so much fun, it was a blast. For the most part she was a good sport, it was a long day though.

It was a terrific week with lots of new adventures and I just love getting out with Isabel and showing her the world!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


For the last few years J and I have been bouncing around churches trying to find the right fit for our family. We settled into one for just over a year and it was a good fit for a few reasons.

First, there were a lot of opportunities for us to plug in and get involved. I joined the women's group and choir and J joined the tech team. The church was a large one which reminded me much of my Gordon days.

For many I am sure a big church (we are talking each service can seat +800 with 2 services) might feel overwhelmed and it may feel impersonal. For me it was a nice change from the small and aging churches (though very important and full of the Holy Spirit for sure) just didn't suit our needs as we were seeking to grow our family.

We embraced the activities, outreach and weekly responsibilities of attending the church. I made good friends right away and we were blessed with a fabulous opportunity to join a small group of couples like us. J worked hard (almost a full work day) on Sundays getting to church at 6am each week.

We enjoyed the preaching and the music. I found that the preaching was contemporary, had a good message and application. Some weeks I felt challenged but other weeks not. Overtime I felt that if I weren't involved in the church so heavily in other ways the preaching may not keep me there.

It raised a tough question for me and J. What are the reasons to attend a church? Do we only attend/join a church if we like a particular preacher's sermons? If we like the activities? The music? The Sunday School? The location? The time? Friends that attend there too?

Obviously at least for us attending a church just for one of these listed reasons isn't good. But what about the challenge I recieved in college to attend church as way to show God that I am giving of my time outwardly to worship. Wasn't our mighty God worth 2-3h of our time in a week? When I look at it that way I feel sheepish because in reality I should be devoting at least 2-3h a day. Its definetly something I struggle with and work on daily.

J and I ended up leaving that church last spring, it was a tough departure because we enjoyed many parts of the church and dear friends but we just didn't align with the direction the church as a whole was heading.

We are now attending a church we tried out when we were first married. Its a smaller church but still has many opportunities to be involved. We are still working on fitting ourselves into the church but have started the process of membership.

Now that we have Isabel just getting to church is a challenge. Thats tough for me because I especially love the season of advent. I miss singing in choir and adopting a child to buy gifts for during the holidays. We are missing most of it.

But do I miss the sermons? The act of going to church? Right now, honestly its a relief not to have to bundle our little one up to get to a service on time.

Yet, I am struggling with worshiping on my own. Its not the way I want it to be, watching a service online feels distant and yet church isn't about just the sermon, or the music or anyone thing its all of it. Its also finding a community of beleivers to support and be supported by in spiritual and tangible ways.

I am not saying we aren't going to church while Isabel is little because we will probably be going next week but its been since September since we have been able to go since I was sick and Isabel is so little.

God has blessed us so much this year inspite of some really tough experiences that challenged everything I thought I knew. He is a steadfast God. I know He doesn't need me to go to church to prove I am devoted to Him but its my sacrifice of time that honors Him.

More than ever I want both J and I to be a good role model to Isabel and to teach her to know our Almighty God.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


This week both of my sisters were offered excellent job offers at two great companies that will really utilize their experience, skills and talent. I couldn't be more happy for them. They are both tenacious, dedicated, hard working and have excellent work ethics.

They are the 'twins' out of us triplets, they are identical and in the past have had a hard to defining themselves as indivuals as they have so many of the same interests, passions and taste (especially in fashion).

They both majored in the same field and worked for the same companies, sometimes at the same time.

Currently, they work together and this change in jobs for both of them will take them in different direction (literally) on a daily basis. My sisters a very close and I cherish that bond that they have though at times I felt jealous of it. I can admit it now because as we have all grown into adults we have re-defined our relationships.

I can go to my sisters with anything, my worries, concerns and my joys! It has never been more clear as it is right now as they really stepped up when I needed them most during my recovery. They adore Isabel and though a newborn is challenging for me with baby experience, I admire that they got in there and learned to hold her, feed her, change her and soothe her like pros. I feel I must add that my brother in law was excellent at this too and was super confident which I think helped both of them feel they could do it too!

In some ways their job changes may bring us closer together, especially if they can work from home, they could come to my house and work occasionally (fingers crossed).

I am so proud of both of them, they are go-getters. They have really evolved into globe trotting, outgoing, wine-tasting, kickboxing, 1/2 marathon running women! I am so glad my daughter will have great role models in her aunts.

During my college days, I was the one who ran around, travelled, moved to FL for grad school, tried lots of new things and dated around. My sisters, at the time were very focused on school and then careers and had several long term relationships.

Now, it feels like the tables have turned, in a completely good way of course but really I am the one that is not going to travel for a while or have their adventures. I am not complaining at all because I would not trade my life for anything.

Its just that this week its hit me just how much my life has changed. How much my focus has changed.

When I think about work, I enjoy my field and enjoyed my career path but now it feels like none of it matters because I have Isabel. However, one of the areas I have been struggling in is the feeling I am not contributing financially anymore.

Does it matter to J? Nope. Does it matter to anyone else? Nope.

So why does it bother me?

I guess its because inherently we all feel our self worth is tied to our salary. For me, I have spent the better part of a decade in academia where I don't make a huge income but its something.

Now, my world is Miss Isabel. Its a 24h a day/7 days a week job. If I could write a job description it might look something like this:
Full time job opportunity, will require night and weekend work. The right applicant will be loving, energetic, playful, dedicated, patient, hardworking and creative. Must be a good decision maker and at times rely on intuition. Must be able to repetitive tasks including nursing, diaper changes and lots of laundry. Applicant should be able to juggle multiple tasks at once and respond quickly as needed. She should be able to fix booboos, mediate disagreements and teach right from wrong. Knowledge of nursery rhymes, songs and Bible verses a plus but on the job training will be available. Sick days and vacation time will not be included. The compensation will be the joy of raising a child, the impact on their life, the nuturing love and time to watch this baby grow. In other words, the salary is priceless.

I admire my sisters for their success in their careers and in no way am saying my job or theirs are more valuable but right now its an interesting transition for all of us.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To my Isabel

For weeks I have been composing a letter (first of many I am sure) about things I want her to know about how I feel now so she can reflect on them when she is older.

To my darling Isabel Ann,
First, you should know just how much I love you. I have been praying for you for half of a life time. You were a miracle from the very beginning when we found out you were going to arrive. I will never forget when I saw your heartbeating on the monitor, you were just alittle jelly bean and I could just see the flicker of your tiny little heart beating away. It was amazing and just awesome. When I felt you kick for the first time little flutters and then kicks like you meant it, it was just a comforting and amazing feeling. I relished taking you everywhere with me, everyday was take your daughter to work day. I talked to you on the way to and from work, sometimes I would even tear up thinking about your arrival. I told you that silly mommy was crying because she was so happy she was going to meet you, but looking back on those moments I didn't even know how much love and joy I was going to feel when I actually met you.
When you entered the world, it wasn't how any of us planned, but its how it was meant to be. There were lots of people in your family that were praying for you to arrive safely and for mommy too. Even your Nonna-Nonna Isabella was looking down on you, I know it. She would have been so proud to have held you but I know she was watching over us then and now. Whenever I say your name I think of her. She inspired me in so many ways and she was a great role model in my life. I miss her always and yet I know she would want me to remember the best parts of our relationship, the cooking, the eating, the playing at her house we did as kids. So, I will teach you all about her, we will cook together and I will even teach you Italian if you want!
As the days go by, (too fast ya know) you are changing. You are getting bigger, your voice is stronger, your cries louder and your smiles wider. As you develop and grow I will always be there for you. I will be your biggest champion, supporter and confidant.
I will teach you, nuture you, play made up games with you and let you explore your world. You can be anything you want to be.
I will teach you about God, your heavenly father. I will teach you to love others and to pray. Because Jesus loves all His children, especially you!
We will do fun things like plant seeds in the spring and watch them sprout in the summer, how to carve a pumpkin, pick apples and identify plants with your great grammy.
We will read books, make up stories with your great-grampy. Maybe he will even teach you some math or how to hammer a nail.

We will visit your aunties who will take you shopping, make you feel special and maybe even play Chutes and Ladders like we did with your great-auntie Ginny. Jolene will teach you about kitties (so will Jess). Scott and Jess will teach you how to make pizza for sure.

We will do little photo shoots with your grammy so we can remember all your little moments from tubby time to trying your first vegetables! She will teach you many things and read you lots of stories I am sure. She loves you so much you know.
Your grampy (Nonno) will teach you how to make sauce like Nonna Isabella. He will swing you up in the air because he is big and strong. He will make you laugh and always be happy to take you to the beach.

You will learn just how much your whole family loves you, because they already really do!

Your daddy and I will love you always forever and ever. We will always take care of you, provide for you and be good role models. We will give you the freedom to try new things and be there for you when you need us. We will take you on vacations and little weekend adventures. We will help you with your homework, go to your school plays and tuck you in at night. We will sing to you, cook for you, and take you for walks.
I am sure daddy has lots of plans to teach you how to drive a boat, rake leaves, do arithmetic, tie your shoes, throw the ball to the dogs and make even take you fishing!

In the end I want you to know you are loved. From the moment I first saw you bundled in your blanket, I knew you were mine and you started our little family. You inspired in me a fierce sense of mama bear, I just wanted to protect you, and I always will to the very end no matter what. Even though I was very sick in the beginning when you were so little, I would have and did anything I could for you. You inspire the best in me.
We are going to make a lot of new memories together, you are the reason I am here on this earth and I cherish the responsibility to be your mother. How awesome a resposiblity it is to be a mother. You trust me and depend on me for everything. I am thankful to our God for your life. That you are healthy, growing and that you are ours. He saved my life twice so I could be your mother today. We serve an awesome God and He loves you so much too.
You are my beautiful, special and sweet little girl, my little peanut, pumpkin pie and munchkin. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I will do everything I can to be the mother you need me to be.

Love you always,

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tubby Time

A couple of weeks ago I started a new night time routine with Isabel. Yea, I know 2.5 month old babies are tough to 'schedule' but I am trying to give her some continuity after all the bouncing around she and I have done for most of her life so far.

One way that I have encouraged that is with bath time. I started out doing it in the morning and in a word she HATED it! So, after doing some reading I decided to try bathing her in the evening. That actually works well because I can change her into her PJs and clean her up if she's been out all day.

The first couple of bath times she didn't love in the evening either. But I kept up with it. We usually start around 4:30 or 5pm. I put her whale tub in our bathtub fill it up and while its filling we pick out her PJs and I get her undressed. I put her temperature rubber duckie in the tub to make sure its not too warm and we are ready to go!

Tonight was special, I plopped her into the tub and she made coo-ey noises and she gets to excited. She makes an O noise and her arms and legs were all kicking and flailing about. She just came alive. It was adorable, sweet and it was our moment. She looked right into my eyes and just cooed. It melted my heart and I just fell in love alittle deeper tonight. She is the sweetest baby and I cherish even the smallest moments!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sometimes you just need your Grandma and Grampy

Today, my grandparents came over. We sort of started a new routine where Gram comes over on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to play and watch Isabel while I do 'work'. I am working on my dissertation...easing back in. I feel my brain re-congeling after nearly losing it through all this!

Gramp came along today because he wanted to go shopping in the area so he dropped off gram and off he went.

Gram played with Isabel while I got to drink a cup of coffee I desperately needed, we had napped a bit before they came but I was still tired. Actually, Isabel had a great day of napping starting with a nap at 7am to 10am! She was in a delightful mood.

We took Gram to see Isabel's room because it had dawned on me she hadn't seen it yet! She approved and rocked in the rocker while I put laundry away. It was just so nice to have an extra set of hands so I can get some stuff done.

We took Isabel for a walk with the puppies around the neighborhood. Gram proudly pushed her in her stroller and I walked the dogs. Soon after we got back Isabel fell asleep in Gram's arms. Such a precious moment. I sat in another chair attempting to work but I kept looking over at the two of them and relishing the moment. Its not often that great grandparents get to have so much time with their great grandchildren. I am so fortunate that they are both in such good health and sound mind. They just love Isabel and would do anything for her. It is such a special bond that has formed. Gram and I also get to talk, she has told me things I never knew about how it was for her to be a parent and we talked more about my health and what happened to me. We are relating to each other on a new level and I really cherish that.

After Isabel woke up Gram got to feed her and just talked to her about all kinds of things, told her little stories about me as a girl, and it just reminded me of being a kid when she would tell me stories when she babysat us.

Grandpa came back and Isabel was all smiles for him. He held her and it was just so sweet. He kissed her head and gave her a little wink. He is a proud Great Grandpa, of course. He even loves our pups, he always greets them and pats them too.

I feel fortunate to have my grandparents in my life and that they are so involved in Isabel's life. Its a special bond and it makes me feel so greatful for family.