Tuesday, April 20, 2010

chicago, and other things


hi love! we all had a great weekend…mama with her girls, daddy with his boys, and catherine with gigi. she is most def one of your favorite people. while i was in chicago, every single phone conversation i had with gigi included some discussion of your poop. is catherine constipated-does she need miralax-well go ahead and get the prescription just in case-oh good she pooped so don’t give the miralax-oh wait she looks like it hurts when she poops so we’ll give it anyway-oh man that was runny-OH MAN she pooped all over walmart-how long does miralax stay in your system-is there any way to reverse the effects of miralax-feed her more constipate-ey foods-what are some constipate-ey foods…..it went on and on. shelly and robyn were oh so kind and patient in hearing about your bowels. so are the readers of this blog. let’s move on.

so when i wasn’t discussing your poo with gigi, i was having SO MUCH FUN with auntie robyn and auntie shelly!!! and acting like 12 year olds, by the way. i’m pretty sure you won’t be proud of these pictures i’m about to show you. granddaddy already told me one of them is the worst picture he’s ever seen of me. granddaddy might be my biggest fan in the entire universe, so i promptly deleted it. because if he told me it was bad, it’s gotta be really bad. if you’re lucky, you too will have some we’re-28-but-act-like-we’re-in-elementary-school friends. i actually pray this stuff for you. you’ll thank me later. we didn’t do too many typical chicago tourist things this time. we’ve done that before and basically we were all pretty giddy to just be together. on one particularly windy day, we did go running along lake michigan and then laid on the beach just long enough to realize we had sand all over our fruit and filling up our ears. we also ate at giordano’s, and that concluded my list of chicago-ish things to do. we watched “the blind side” and i questioned again why josh said i remind him of the mom in that movie….but in the end i still decided to take it as a compliment. shelly has this amazing new apartment and we marveled at the story of how she got it. we helped paint her bedroom and had more than one dance party in her living room. around 7:30 one night, during one of those said dance parties, her downstairs neighbor knocked on the door asking us to keep it down because he had just put his kids to sleep. he apologized and apologized for having to ask us to be quiet, and shelly apologized and apologized for being so loud, and then he brought up a glass of wine to prove that he was not, in fact, angry, but just wanted to keep his kids asleep. can you blame him? we could not. we were much more embarrassed for ourselves, the grown-up women having a dance party for just the three of us, than we were for him. i may or may not have run into the other room to hide when we heard the knock on the door. none of us could figure out why i felt it appropriate to run away. other than the dance parties, my favorite part of the trip might have been sitting in shelly’s living room with the windows open enjoying the gorgeous weather reading and talking and eating and taking naps. well, that’s a lie. my favorite part was realizing how far God has brought the three of us. both individually and as a group of silly girls. robyn and shelly met in 4th grade and robyn and her family are a huge reason why shelly loves Jesus today. and then i came on the scene around 8th grade and the rest is history. we’ve all had some pretty incredible highs and heart-breaking lows (please ask all three of us about those when you’re older…God’s sweet mercy and grace run rampant through these stories and you should definitely know them), but i cannot express to you how amazing it was for me to sit back and soak up where He has each of us right now. i was overwhelmed and so thankful that He has allowed us to be a part of each other’s stories. i guess i should mention that i also read donald miller’s new book on this trip-he is one of my two absolute favorite authors-the other is cs lewis...and to be up there with cs lewis is a pretty phenomenal compliment. anyway-the book focuses pretty heavily on a person’s story and emphasizes really living it. “really” as in taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself and truly loving others and allowing them to love you. so forgive me as i run on a rampage of being ever so thankful for the people and God who make my life so rich. we went to her pastor’s house and listened to her practice with a few other girls who were leading worship for a women’s retreat. and then we went to church with her at the chicago tabernacle the next morning. it's safe to say all that music absolutely knocked my socks off. there are some seriously talented people in shelly's life. the music, and her sweet friends, ministered to me in a pretty gentle and surprising way. man i love them. a lot of them had prayed for you because shelly told them what was going on when i was pregnant and soon after you were born. the pastor's wife had me come up and testify to the choir (they were practicing before the service) about what your little journey has looked like and how well you're doing now. i can't help but love somebody who loves your story. so i love chrissie=) and i was completely honored to be able to share what's going on with sweet little you. these people have, unknowingly, taught me more about prayer than they could imagine. i'm so thankful for them, and for those few days i just got to spend in chicago. it was a pretty perfect girl weekend, to say the least. mama and auntie robyn and auntie shelly are bff.

boys are boys and they take no pictures and don’t say much about what they do together, so i don’t know much about daddy’s weekend at the conference with josh and jeff. what i took away from the seconds-long conversation i had with daddy about it was this: josh was “josh” which probably involved some kanye west or diddy song, they had dinner with jeff’s sister-in-law who is very pregnant, and they all did well on their poster presentations. sounds like a blast, huh? oh, and they also laid out by a pool one day, which I’m pretty sure was josh’s idea. that actually does sound like a blast.

um, girlfriend. you have already reached the goal we had for you when you started the feeding clinic! halfway through and you're already off the g-tube during the day. you're taking 4 meals of at least 4 oz during the day so you just need about 12 oz at night. i started crying a little when they told us that. you're pretty amazing little one. i'm so proud of you. chowing down like a big girl.

i feel like there's lots more i wanted to say but i'm sleepy and need to go to bed. so here are those pictures i was talking about. i'll try to choose the ones that are least embarassing. for both of us.

oh one more thing i remembered. shelly tackled a dog on saturday. a bull mastiff, to be exact. and then she went on to tell us about the time she gave a different dog cpr. the story's better if i just leave it at that, so there you go=)

my plan here was to take a picture to send to daddy, but this is what we ended up with.

robyn shakin what her mama gave her

your mama groovin to the music

still groovin. most girl weekends involve dancing and scarves. not sure why.

yep. there's not a lot to say here.

the one and only normal picture we took all weekend.

that's more like it.

shelly has light-up lord of the ring glasses. yes she does. you have my permission to make fun of her for that later.

am i lucky or what?? this is what i get to come home to=)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"mommy, i pooped in my diaper"

well, you didn't say it quite like that, but it was pretty close. you came around the corner, looked at me, and said "poo" while you pointed at your diaper. sure enough, you were filling that bad boy up! that's supposed to mean something like you're ready to potty-train, but i don't care what they say...you are WAY too young for that. not to mention, i'm not at all ready for that endeavor. i am, however, really proud of you for telling me that your diaper was dirty=)

i'm also proud of the fact that you ate 3 1/2 whopping ounces at the feeding clinic today!!!! you set a personal record for yourself. we'll see what the rest of the week brings!!

here are some photos. a lot of them. many of them almost identical to the one before. i debated on which ones to post, and then i said forget it. it's my blog. i'm posting them all.

veronica and her sweet daughter made you a present! pretty white basket with pink and brown fabric lining it, with books and clothes and a hand-made crown and door-hangy and mirror, a dolphin...lots of pretty things! you loved it!!!

at this point you're frustrated that i'm making you stop tearing into it long enough to take a picture.

sweet smile=)

you look pretty happy!!

checkin' out your new books.

"hmmmm...what else is in here???"

"what exactly do i do with this??" don't worry-it didn't take you long to figure it out...


wearing daddy's hat backwards is apparently your new "thing".

pulling at my shirt. wanting me to go somewhere with you=)

early morning shot of my pretty girl=)

you like the mirror!!

"oooooh! she's pretty!!"

(veronica calls you ladybug)

checking yourself out in the mirror

Sunday, April 11, 2010

another week...

hi babe=)

nothing too exciting from this week. you aren't doing quite as well at the feeding clinic as you were at first, but we can't complain too much. you're a funny little girl, aren't you? sometimes you swallow your food so fast, and sometimes you just hold it in your mouth like you couldn't care less. daddy did a lot of the feeding this weekend and he seems to be some sort of a baby food whisperer. we're not exactly sure why, but you're definitely eating a lot more Align Leftwhen it comes from him!! coincidence? probably not. he's good at stuff. i can't lie.
mommy and auntie robyn get to go see auntie shelly this week in chicago. i cannot begin to find words to describe how excited i am!!! it will be days and nights full of laughing and SLEEPING and ice cream and diet coke and pixar movies and running along lake michigan. and perhaps, if i get my wish, we'll eat some giordano's pizza. these things, with these two women, always heal my little spirit and soul. they are the best. can't wait to tell you stories. but i'm gonna miss you sweet boogar! (sweet boogar? yes. i have turned into one of those mama's who call their babies things like "sweet boogar". i didn't say i was proud.) daddy will be away at a conference so gigi's coming to hang out with you. what fun you two will have=)
since the weather has been warmer, you and i have been going for lots of runs. you are the cutest little thing in your stroller. we'll start off walking and then once we get to monument avenue i ask if you want mama to run. you usually start laughing and lift your arms up to feel the wind blowing against your hands. =) i fill your cup holder up with goldfish and you sit there strapped in and relaxed, playing with the buckle, every now and then sitting up and grabbing some goldfish, or you'll turn around to ask me for some water or look for your shadow. we have lots of fun on our runs=)

josh came to visit this weekend! we miss him, don't we? several months ago when you weren't talking much we would teach you some real sign language and then we'd make up some of our own signs for certain words. very appropriately, we decided the sign for "josh" would be the guessture you make when you "raise the roof". you caught on pretty quickly. after josh left today you and i went for a run and we had lots of fun raising the roof as we'd talk about how happy we were that we got to see josh. once again, i failed with the camera and didn't get any pictures of you two together, but here are some other photos from the past week!!

i wanted to go to the easter parade on monument avenue before we moved away from richmond. this was the year. here you are with your slice of bread, checking it all out. i was expecting an actual parade of people dressed up like bunnies or something, but basically everyone just walks around looking at the dogs and watching people dance or juggle or something, and there were lots of different vendors and food and bands playing on the sidewalk or front porches. you were very sleepy and didn't give us many smiles at the parade, but finally you fell asleep in your stroller and later woke up a happy and chipper little girl.

it was a fun surprise to see harry (our church's worship leader) singing on the sidewalk!

LOTS and lots of people walking up and down monument avenue

uh. what?

yep. daddy thought you might have fun cutting the grass with him. although y'all look RIDICULOUS, i actually think he was right. you kept looking up at me, calling "ma!", waving and laughing, making sure i was seeing how much fun y'all were having!

he's having way too much fun.

i thought it was worth posting what our "grass" looked like before y'all cut it. i'm pretty sure our neighbors hate us. or maybe they can wrap their minds around the fact that we rent, and therefore there's absolutely no way we're paying the true green guy to fix this "garden" of ours.

sweet ava kate snuggled up with sara

proud papa with his girl!

daddy thought he'd put up his tent in our living room for you two to play. despite the look on your face in this picture, you love it. dakota, on the other hand, is frantically scraping at the zipper to get out. we think she's scared of you.

you think little ava is just the greatest thing=) and i think it's great that she can wear your old clothes;)

you're wearing daddy's hat backwards. i still don't know if he did that or if you figured it out by yourself.

oh man. look at my little cutie pie.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

happy easter big girl!

on this day, lots and lots of years ago, Jesus rose and conquered the grave. let's talk more about easter in the near future. it's hands down one of the greatest days of the year.

all that said, i failed as a mother here on this easter 2010. my excuse is that you and i are both sick with a nasty tummy something and this is my third night working in a row. so mommy was not dressed up pretty like you and daddy were to go to church, and we have no family pictures from today! better luck to us next year.

my goodness we have been busy lately! you started the feeding clinic 2 weeks ago and you're basically kickin' tail and taking names. this little tummy bug didn't help you much friday, but hopefully tomorrow you'll be back to your ravenous puree'd peach eating self. (ravenous is a bit of an overstatement, but you really are doing SO GREAT!!!) here's a general synopsis of "food camp", as daddy calls it. (every morning we wake you up and he says "cafery!! are you ready for food camp!?!?"and you usually jump around in your crib with a big smile on your face.) the feeding clinic is big on establishing and working towards the parents' goals for the child. our goal for you is to wean off the g-tube during the day, and hopefully by the time you're done there you'll only need to use it at night to supplement what you didn't take orally during the day. so the best way to increase the volume of food you eat and calorie-pack the food is to make them purees (think baby food, but tastier). so that's what we're doing. you're not putting up a fuss and you're responding really well to the techniques they're using to get you to swallow the food faster. you swallow peaches pretty fast without much prompting but your "drink" is basically thickened pediasure and you're not always so eager to get that stuff down. when we started two weeks ago you would usually take about half an ounce at a feeding, and now you've taken 1.85 oz!!! that's not much in comparison to our goal of 6.5-8 oz per feeding, but it's a HUGE improvement and we are so so proud of you!! as my sweet friend debbie said at work tonight when i was telling her what you've been up to lately: "isn't she just the greatest thing?" little catherine is indeed the greatest thing, miss deb=)

i think you're becoming more outrageously gorgeous by the day. daddy says you're looking more like me, and i of course have decided to put those two statements together and take his opinion as a compliment. your eyelashes are getting longer and your skin is so pretty and you've got the most amazing lips. your hair is getting longer too and starting to cover up that fantastic peyton manning forehead you got from your daddy. (for the record, i happen to think that daddy, and peyton manning, are two very handsome men.) also for the record, i'm sitting here debating whether or not to delete that last little bit about your forehead in fear it will give you some kind of complex. instead of doing that, i'm just going to say again that you are incredibly beautiful and completely perfect. God didn't make one mistake when He made you. absolutely every little thing about you was on purpose. focus on that, will you please?

you're a little jabber mouth here lately=) we cannot get enough of that sweet voice naming all the things you see in your world. you really are like a little parrot repeating everything we say. we were cracking up today listening to you. i wish i had a video. you are (appropriately) saying all your words in one syllable and just saying one word at a time, and "please" has always been "puh" but lately i've noticed you're trying to throw an "L" sound in there somewhere. smarty pants. it's disgusting how proud of you i am. we've been taking lots of walks lately because-HALLELUJAH!!!-it's 80 degrees and sunny!!! and along our walks you'll eat goldfish and take sips of water that i give you and every time i hand you a goldfish you turn around and look up at me and say "thu" and sign "thank you" and i always say "you're welcome! what good manners!" and if i ever don't notice that you're saying thank you you'll just keep saying it and signing it until i acknowledge your good manners. sweet little thing.

you and daddy have two new favorite little games to play. the first is where he just says "catherine! run to me!" and you take off "running" like a crazy monkey. arms flailing every which way and this cute little body bobbing on your skinny wobbly legs. the other game is where he's holding you and he starts singing "i got a feeling" by the black eyed peas and he starts slowly bouncing you a little to the beat and when you realize what's happening you say "ni! ni! ni! ni!" (night) trying to sing along with him and you get a huge grin on your face because when he gets to the crazy nutso part where they're just basically yelling things daddy jumps up and down with you and you're flip flopping in his arms and it's all you can do to stay upright and you laugh your cute little head off. daddy is just the most fun, isn't he? remember when i said you would think so? =)

we went to clemson a few weeks ago to find a place to live. it was a very successful trip! we got to spend time with some sweet sweet friends-they're the cousins and uncle of mama's friend jennifer farrell who lives with Jesus now. jennifer was SO goofy crazy about these people. it was so much fun listening to her talk about them, and i loved getting to meet them when we were freshmen at clemson. and i can't begin to describe how excited i am knowing they're about to become a bigger part of our life. we are lucky to know them, for lots of reasons, that's for sure=) but we found a place to live that daddy and i are really excited about!!! there's a pool there that you will love so much-i can't wait to see you splashing around in it. we are feeling very peaceful about the move now that our time is winding down here in richmond. (many emotions accompany that last statement...) now if mommy could just find a job, we'd be in business!!

we went to see dr rodgers last month. we decided on june 1 for your surgery to close your little trach hole. the blasted thing is STILL open. it's worth mentioning that mommy's feeling a little nervous about this. and i'm honestly not sure why. you've certainly been through surgeries that are more intense than this one. you just generally don't do things the easy way and general anesthesia and cutting on your airway is not my idea of a walk in the park. it's an expected one night stay post-surgery, so hopefully that will be the case. we're praying that surgery and recovery will go smoothly. and that you, as you will be approaching 2 at that time, will handle the stranger anxiety well=) oh my gosh it makes me tear up right now thinking about them taking you from the little room with us to the OR-i'm imagining a scared little look on your face and the confusion and fear that will be going through your head. i'm also wanting to smack myself right now and yell at me to get it together. but i guess it's just a "mama's heart" as daddy puts it. so all you catherine fans out there, if you feel so inclined to pray for those things as well, it would be greatly appreciated!

we sucked it up and taught you a few weeks ago to go to sleep without us. our thought was that, with you starting the feeding clinic now and more structured child care in the fall, you're gonna need a tighter schedule than we've had so far and you're also gonna need to just go to sleep easier. so i'm expecting this to be a week long process of you crying for an hour by yourself in your crib before finally falling asleep. did i mention we started this process the night before your first day at the feeding clinic? whatever. we were in atlanta the week before and it would've traumatized gigi to hear you crying and us not let her go save you from your sadness=) and you're such a little rockstar!! you cried for maybe 5-10 minutes the first 3 nights and then you became a pro. so now at bedtime we read a few books and sing a few songs and say our prayers and i tell you goodnight and i love you and i lay you right down and usually (i know because i'm watching you on our little video monitor, my favorite invention of all time) you stay in the same position i laid you in and your sweet little eyes just look around for about 5-10 minutes and finally you fall asleep! sweet little boogar. at naptime you do the same thing with no complaints, but if we try to give you a second nap you put up a fuss. but i should note that, if we're wanting you to take a second nap it's because you're acting like a raging wildebeast and being a totally unreasonable 19-month-old, so it only makes sense that you would continue your antics when we leave you in a crib by yourself. i tried to just prophylactically lay you down for a second nap one afternoon but that didn't really help. and then i felt bad because you were being a sweet little angel before i put you in your crib. perhaps i should keep trying to tweak our little second nap plan...but i'm SO PROUD of you for making all our lives easier and going to sleep like a sweet angel. you're sleeping from 8pm-7:30am (when we get you up to go to the feeding clinic) and daddy and i are actually getting some time to hang out at night (what a novel idea!) and mommy's actually coming close to getting enough sleep (i don't wake up easy at 6am, but this new schedule of ours makes me less of a monster that early in the morning). i'm very excited about the new schedule. the first week i was telling everybody who would listen to me about it. i can imagine that got kind of boring to them. and i thought i would miss so much the rocking to sleep, and of course i do, but this routine has its definite perks too. i love watching you pick out which books you want us to read and then when it's time to start singing you snuggle your little self into my body ("spooning", some might call it) and i'll ask if you want to sing this song or that song and you'll say no and shake your head on some and if you do want me to sing it you'll start laughing and say one word from the name of the song. and then when we stand up and say our prayers you lay your head on my chest and wrap your arms around my shoulders and pat me until i say "give me a night-night kiss" and then you kiss me and lay down and that's all there is to it! can you tell i'm excited about this? again, very proud of you=)

guess what, babe!!! sweet ava kate jennings was born march 25th!!! she is a week and a half old and she is a little ball of precious. it has been an incredible honor to walk with jeff and jessica through their journey of having sweet baby ava. what a little miracle. after some trouble with fertility, they were scheduled to start IVF the next week when they found out jessica was pregnant with ava kate=) God is funny, isn't he? so perfect in His timing. so mysterious. always trustworthy.

i guess that's enough for one letter. here are some pictures from the last few weeks. enjoy!

i love you sweet angel=)


we got to help celebrate miley's 2nd birthday while we were in atlanta! her party was at "pump it up" in hiram and you loved it! it's a huge building full of those huge inflatable bouncy castles and slides and obstacle courses...as soon as we came down one slide you'd say "more! more!" and we'd climb right back up again. mama was very sweaty by the end of that party! thanks again, christi, for letting us rsvp last minute!!

little sweeties sleeping=)

you like to climb into your toy box. we think it's hilarious.

this time you were fervently working to get the pulse ox on elmo's toe. evidence of your life thus far...;)

"did i do it right?"

pitching a ball-eyed fit. also hilarious.

let's not forget to note the green tu-tu.

"MOM! it's not funny!!

while you're learning to eat with kacie your feeding therapist, we watch you in this screen. if we need to, we can pick up a phone and talk into the room to you or kacie. daddy thought that was way too fun the first time he saw it.

kacie doing your "oral motor exercises."

taking a drink.

this was the first week of "food camp". you look skeptical.

trust me, you are not this subdued there now!!! you were pretty shy with kacie at first, but now she gets some personality from you, and sass along with it!

you LOVE mama's strainer.

mama and sara with jessica after she had ava kate. unfortunately, the nurse had just taken her out of the room! pictures of ava to come soon...