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Monday, May 31, 2010

Big Girl Bike

Julia is the proud owner of one pink and purple big girl bike (thanks for sending it her way Aunt Maura and Mary!). She took her first spin on her new set of wheels tonight and is a natural.


Julia dressed up today in a party dress and thought it was the perfect outfit for a bicycle ride. She looked a little bit like a Southern Belle to me!


When we had ventured only a short distance from our house Julia encountered a tree and was rescued by her knight in a blue shirt (aka Daddy!) who whisked the tree out of her way.


In less than a minute she was a pro at riding her bicycle (the training wheels should get some credit here).


She followed the safety rules of wearing a helmet at all times and learned to walk her bicycle across all streets.


I caught this photo of Julia looking up at Chris while he reiterated the importance of looking both ways before walking into the street. I just love the way she is looking at him here.


Julia picked out a horn for her bike at the store the other day. She was thrilled to use it liberally throughout the entire ride. Seriously, look at this face! She seemed to honk it no less than 50 times on her short ride around the neighborhood. She really loves honking that horn! Why do you think I was so quick to put it on the bicycle and get it out of easy reach for her to blow it in my house.

And, she did all this wearing her flip-flops. Bring on summer!


Loading Emma's chair into car

I've had online discussions with a few people lately on how to load an adaptive stroller into a minivan without worrying about hurting your back. Emma uses the Kids F.A.S.T. stroller/wheelchair and, while we love it, it became obvious early on that moving it in and out of the van several times a day would not be good for my back since it must weigh at least 65 lbs. So, we bought a suitcase ramp that has been fantastic. Here is a short video of me loading the chair into our minivan. We have Toyota Sienna and I store the rear seats in the down position to make room for all Emma's gear.




Friday, May 28, 2010

Field Trip Friday

The girls and I introduced Field Trip Fridays into our weekly schedule in the Fall when our schedule changed and gave us an (almost) therapy free Friday. We use this day to go to friends' houses, hit the park, go to the orchards, visit museums, and a whole host of other fun outings.

Today we met friends at the newly opened Delaware Children's Museum and I think this could quickly move to the top of the list of our favorite museums. There is so much to do for the kids and it was not too crowded so they could run about without us worrying someone would walk off with them. Most activities are handicapped accessible, but I quickly noticed that the water play area does not have a cut out for a wheelchair. Of course Emma loves water and so this was a huge disappointment for me so I talked to the front desk staff and left a written comment and I really hope they will adapt it for the kids. I have a few ideas on how they can adapt it pretty easily, which I shared with an interested employee who seemed to fall under Emma's spell.....she does draw people to her! I hope the management listens to my request, because if not you can be sure I'll bring it up at all future visits (did I mention we bought an annual pass and will likely visit a few times a month?). I have a feeling I could be on a first name basis with the staff pretty quickly :)

Here are some photos of our outing today. Doesn't it look like so much fun?!!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life after naps end

Nap time was always a small bit of time in my day where I could get a lot of things done without feeling guilty about neglecting one of the girls. The things I usually did during this time were quite unglamorous - call insurance companies, follow-up on doctor visits, take care of breakfast dishes, prep for dinner, clean up the house, pay bills, check email, etc. Even though I wasn't doing anything really fun, it was a brief respite in the day and I looked forward to it for a bit of "me" time without any trace of guilt that I should be doing something else.


Today I realized that nap time - as I once knew it - is officially over and I have to admit that I am mourning it's passing a bit.

While Emma still loves her afternoon nap, they seem to be getting shorter. It's averaging about 90 minutes, which is a decent chunk of time for her to recharge from her morning childhood activities and daily therapy sessions. And while I foresee Emma napping for quite a while, I finally realized that Julia's nap will not likely come back into our routine. When she gave it up a little while ago I thought it was a phase. For a little while I was able to convince her that she should have a bit of quiet time to read or watch a bit of TV, but that seems to have gone out of fashion with her.

She is now requesting a lot more one-on-one play time with me - mostly playing house or going outside to play. And while I love playing with Julia and spending quality one-on-one time with her, this means that there is virtually no "free" time left to take care of all that other stuff without feeling guilty that I'm neglecting my children. And so I try and do a hybrid of both - do enough stuff (calls to insurance, doctors) to get by and use the remaining time while Emma is napping to give Julia some of the one-on-one time we both love.

And, so, while I am adjusting to the new afternoon routine I have to admit that I mourn the passing of the days when both girls took a nap and I had a bit of "me" time to get to all that stuff. But, hey, doing most of that stuff is a bit overrated, right?

Monday, May 24, 2010

State of Flux

I don't do well living in a state of flux. I hate when our home is getting work done to it, but I usually love it when the job is completed! I hate the moments leading up to major decisions, but I love when I finally make the decision and get to breathe that sigh of relief that - for better or worse - a decision was made. I just don't like living in a state of flux. And, that's what we've been living in for the past couple of years.


We knew that Chris was getting tired of his long commute to work. We knew that we wanted to move closer to family. We knew that we want to send Julia to the school where Chris works and there is NO WAY we were sending her on a 3 hour round-trip commute at the ripe old age of 4!

All roads were leading to us moving further North but we just had to wait for the right timing. We didn't want to interrupt Emma's early intervention services that end at age 3 so we've been waiting until she would be placing out of EI and moving into the school system at the ripe old age of 3. Yes, three! That is just wild to me that I'll be starting Emma in school earlier than Julia.

Anyway, Emma will turn 3 in just four short months and we are knee deep in working with the school system to get her all set for school in the Fall. The only problem? That's the time we want to move North! So, we finally decided to stop living in a state of flux and put our house on the market.

We have a realtor coming over on Thursday to take photos of our humble abode and should have the house listed and ready for buyers this weekend. We've made the decision and it feels bittersweet. It will be very hard to move away from the amazing friends that we have made here, but it's good to know we aren't really planning to move very far. Less than an hour by car, actually, and that seems a perfectly reasonable distance to drive frequently to see our friends.

The hardest thing (other than deciding what school district we want to move to and figuring out how we can afford a house in that district!) will be to keep the house clean while we wait for someone to make us an offer to buy. The real estate market where we live is still pretty soft. Average time to sell is a bit over three months. That goes perfect with our timing. Somehow, I don't think it will all work out that seamlessly, but a girl can hope.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Uplifting Song

I've had a bit of an internal feud going on with God lately, and, well, a very strong mother of another child with congenital CMV posted this song to Facebook and I fell in love with it immediately. I guess we all need a reminder sometimes that we are not alone.




Your Hands by JJ Heller
I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless



Monday, May 17, 2010

Emma isn't smiling

Emma is usually a really happy little girl (outside of bedtime!). With her teeth coming in, though, she has been having a rough go of it unless we are outside. I shot a video of her this morning and wanted to share because it shows:
  1. A side of Emma most people don't see - a sad side :-( Luckily, she perked up a bit after I took this video.
  2. That even with all the crying she manages to hear me tell her to lift her head up.
  3. That she follows the direction I gave her to lift her head up! Yeah, Emma!!!! This is a lot of work for her!
  4. When I mention Daddy, she perks up. She is a total Daddy's girl.
  5. When I mention Daddy again, she looks towards the door - I'm thinking this is on purpose as she might have thought me talking about him meant he was going to come through the door any minute.
  6. When I mention Mommy, she goes back to crying. Hah! Some days are just like that.

video

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bits and Pieces

It's amazing how time can seem to fly by and stand still all at the same time! That's what I feel like has been happening with us lately. The sleepless nights seem never ending while the days seem to be over in a second.

Emma is plagued by painful molars and has not been herself at all. She was crying about 23 hours/day for the last week, but it seems like she is getting some relief as one molar poked through. The problem is that three more are coming in on its heels and I hope they are easier on her - and me!!! - than the last one. Chris and I are often letting Emma worm her way into our bed since she seems a bit more content there and we are desperate for some sleep. While she demands to sleep on her belly in her crib she demands just the opposite in our bed and likes to end up sleeping across the bed giving me and Chris just a sliver of mattress to rest our weary heads. Here is a photo of her sleeping in our bed looking comfy as can be.


On Saturday we had a one-on-one day with the girls. Julia and I took off for a mommy/daughter day of fun. We went to the nail salon to get a manicure, but they were busy and after waiting about 45 minutes and still not getting served I just painted Julia's nails with the shade she chose and then we drove off to her dance lesson. They are getting ready for their recital next month so the kids danced for the parents at the end of the lesson and I have to say they are really good! I'm looking forward to the show when they wear their costumes and strut their stuff to the Good Ship Lollipop! After dance lessons we went to the pottery place and painted our pottery selection. Julia chose a rainbow trinket box and I painted an ice cream bowl and both should be ready in about a week.


Chris and Emma had a daddy/daughter day and went to the running store to get Chris a new pair of running shoes. We all thought this would be a fun thing for her since she loves to go to stores and see people but we forgot about Emma's phobia of people putting on shoes. Chris said it was a nightmare at the store since everyone was putting on shoes and Emma was screaming crying so they only stayed long enough to get him a pair of shoes before going to the Wilmington waterfront for a walk and a bit of fun at a festival.

We're all looking forward to the next one-on-one day when we swap partners and go on a whole new set of adventures (that will not include shoe shopping!).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wordless

A glimpse into our weekend



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day


Today we celebrate all the wonderful Mom's out there. This is your day to kick back, relax and let others wait on you!

Although today is the day we celebrate Moms, I have to say that everyday I feel lucky that I am blessed with a wonderful Mom who has always been there when I need her, is always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need, and who truly embodies the spirit of motherhood. You have taught me so very much about life, love and being a fabulous Mom and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
(Oh, and thanks in advance for understanding that I'm a wee bit late on getting your card to you even though I've been thinking of it for weeks now....my execution on sending cards is not my strong point as you already know!)

I also have to give a shout out to my fantastic mother-in-law who is one of the sweetest people I know. Thanks for all your love and support over the years and for welcoming me into your family without hesitation.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. My only wish for you is that you are celebrated everyday of the year and not just on this special day.

Hobbies

When I finished college and started my first real job it seemed like I worked all the time. My co-workers were mostly around the same age as me that I didn't even notice how much I worked because work was a lot of fun. Really. It was.

Then I moved from my job in R&D to a position in sales and it was fun in a different way. I was on my own most of the time, which was not fun, but I had the chance to travel all around the country meeting new people, consulting with my customers, seeing how many different electronics were made. In that job I was in the air or another state about 75% of my time and it didn't leave much free time to explore my interests outside of travel - and travel I did making good use of all my hundreds of thousands of frequent flier miles to cash in on vacations near and far.

When I moved from sales into a marketing role I enrolled in an executive M.B.A. degree program that took place on the weekends and left me with little to no free time. It did, however, introduce me to some of the most amazing people and I soon made some strong friendships with my classmates. The day after I graduated with my MBA Chris and I met - and six months later started planning our wedding. Not too long into our newlywed phase I became pregnant with Julia and then time just seems to have flown by since then. I was so busy in the years after college that I didn't have too much time to figure out what I liked to do and invest time in some hobbies outside of traveling.

Since I was laid-off last summer I've had a chance to carve out a bit of time to pursue some interests. I always loved taking photographs and so I enrolled in a couple online classes to learn Photoshop and digital scrapbooking. This fueled my interest in taking better photos and resulted in my taking some photography classes and getting a DSLR camera. I'm having a lot of fun learning to take better photos and feel like all the learning is really making a difference in the quality of photos I take. I'm also starting to get better about creating scrapbook pages to document for the girls all the fun we have as a family.

The other hobby I've recently explored is sewing. It was mostly out of a desire to make some customized stuff for Emma. I had never even heard of a running stitch before I purchased my sewing machine in March, but my mom is excellent with all things sewing and crafty so I figured I'd be fine to give my "custom" items a go. Mom worked with me a bit, I took a intro. to sewing class at the craft store and just started to play with the machine a bit on my own. I don't get much time to sew since it's not something easily integrated into our busy days but I do find that it is very satisfying to create something yourself when I get some free moments.

On Mother's Day I got a chance to spend some time sewing. I made a shawl bib for Emma and a dress for Julia. I used one of Julia's shawls as a template but think that it is a bit too big. Next time I'm going to make it smaller so it covers only to Emma's elbows and the front goes down to her midriff. Overall, though, I like how it turned out and am happy that I got to use some fun fabric instead of the more babyish bib patterns at the store.

The dress was a bit more challenging than I expected since I had to layer two material together so it wasn't a see-thru dress. I also made some straps from the interior fabric and getting that measurement right was harder than expected with a wriggly little girl who was not interested in sitting still for me to measure. None-the-less, I'm thrilled with the way it turned out and Julia loves it, too! Here she is modeling the dress for me.


Next up, making a camera strap cover that I found here. I'm not sure how it will turn out or when I'll get some time to dedicate to sewing again, but one thing I know is it sure will feel good to know that I made it myself.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Taking care of me

I've been taking Emma to the hospital for therapy at least 2x/week the last 18 months. We see many of the same people week after week - parents and grandparents on a similar journey, many who we know by name.


I've observed them in waiting rooms, at the cafe, waiting for their cars. What I've noticed is that so many of them look exhausted, burnt out, in need of sleep and perhaps even a brief vacation. Taking care of a child with special needs requires a significant amount of effort and sometimes there just isn't much energy left over for the parent's to take care of themselves. I was secretly feeling good that I didn't look like the other caretakers and thought I was doing a good job of taking care of myself. Except......

The other day during Emma's therapy session I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror - you know, the really flattering kind that is mounted on 3 of the 4 walls in the therapy room! - and I didn't recognize myself. I looked older, exhausted. I was dressed in so-so clothes with a body that showed the effects of my neglectful relationship with our YMCA membership! I looked like the other parents I see and it did not make me feel good. I walked out of the hospital that day and decided that I need to make time to invest in myself and my health.

I went to the gym that day and a couple of times since then. I've put on a bit of make-up a couple of times, too. In the morning when I get dressed I am choosing to wear more of the nicer clothes in my closet. I still have a long way to go, but I'm now marching in the right direction and it feels good.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Emma brings so much sunshine into our lives and her fun-loving spirit really comes out when she gets to play on slides. I've captured a bit of her magic here to help bring a smile to your day!

And then she was tired!

Weekend Holiday


We spent the weekend at the Society Hill Sheraton in Philly. The hotel was fantastic and is located in the heart of lots of action. It was great to play tourist a bit in our hometown! We definitely plan to make another visit there later in the year.

The highlight and main reason for our getaway was to cheer Chris on as he ran the Broad Street Run (10 mile run) on Sunday. It was the hottest day of the year- actually, it was a record high hitting over 90 degrees. There were 30,000 people that participated in the run and Chris came in 10,117 place with a time to finish of 1:35:43. We are so proud of you for achieving your goal!

There were lots of fun activities for us while we waited for the racers to finish. Julia and Emma participated in the kids' run and each received medals for their achievement. They picked out some hand painted tatoos for themselves, played in the moon bounce and received balloon art from the clown.



The girls loved walking around the city, eating out and Penn's Landing. But, I think their favorite part of the vacation was the swimming pool. We remembered to bring Emma's swim collar and she was a WILD swimmer moving all around in the heated pool. We forgot Julia's noodle but she still did a good job swimming but we will definitely have to remember the swim noodle for the next trip.

Over the weekend Emma made quite a few friends thanks to her winning personality and CIs. At dinner on Sat. night, she flirted with a woman who was deaf - we didn't know this until she started signing to us, but I guess Emma must have known because she was pretty much ready to abandon us for this woman! - and we met another woman who came over to say hi and tell us her granddaughter received a CI in the summer. At the Broad Street Run, Emma met a family with two boys that were both bilateral CI users. The one boy is 7 years old and is second in his class and does not need any speech/language supports at all which is just AMAZING! His younger brother received his CIs at age 1 year and didn't start talking until 3 years old and is doing well, too. It was nice for us to meet another child that was delayed with talking even without motor issues. We don't meet many people that know what Emma's CIs are, so to meet so many people in one weekend that knew about CIs was really cool.

Here are a couple of other photos from our weekend. Overall, it was a much-needed break from our everyday hustle and bustle. Julia kept saying how she didn't want to leave the hotel and I think we all would have loved another night and perhaps a trip on the Duck tour bus - maybe next time!