Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Review

Here I am, typing at the end of yet another year. This blog only gets dusted off occasionally these days, but this is one tradition I really enjoy keeping.

We don't typically stay up till midnight, we have never been the huge New Years Eve Party type, but I do feel like the year deserves a proper send off in one form or another, and it appears that for me, it is writing a blog.

Plus, for the last several years, not sure how many, I have done the "jar thing." As I accumulate tickets from various events, I am torn between keeping them for the memories or tossing them as trash, and I have found a lot of peace with the jar. They are saved, in a jar, for the year, and then as part of my process of separating from the year ending, I let go of all the tickets, and start the year with an empty jar, full of possibilities.

The biggest stand out of the year is the new life that was welcomed in 2017. My sister-in-law, Jami and my husband's brother, Graeme, welcomed sweet Finley into the world this February, and it was a huge, amazing wonderful start of the year.

I am still blown away that myself, my mother-in-law and Jami's mother were all able to make it in time. Jami was so early, yet Lori had a feeling she was going to go early, convinced me, and so we were sitting in the airport, ready to load our two different planes when we found out that her water had broken and she was in the hospital- it was go time! I am so thankful that I was able to be there in time to help, in little ways, even though it meant taking a taxi straight to the hospital from the airport. That whole week was truly life changing for me, because while it was so hard to be away from my family, and my kids, it was so good to be in a place where I know I was helping, in little ways, this family that means so much to me as well. Also in that stack is the map of the drive that my husband and brother in law did when this family moved back! Yep, Blake flew to St. Louis, and then started the long, few day drive back to CA to get the car and the dogs here, and we back in CA marked their trip on a map as they updated us.

Also this year, our good friends Katy and Damian welcomed their first, little Logan, into the world in August. He is a smiling bundle of joy, and as I look back on the major events of the year, both Logan and Finley are high in my mind.

Highlights of the year as far as major events are that I got to see Hamilton, not once but twice! I love musicals, grew up watching them with my dad, and my friend Erin got me into Hamilton. So once I found out it was coming to our state, my friends and I made the plan to go. Then, before I had a chance to buy tickets, my aunt gave me the opportunity to use her season ticket early buying option to buy a ticket for a performance in August and go with my cousin- which I decided was too good to pass up, especially since I had read that Hamilton is consistently a sell out show. Then, when I could buy tickets like an average person, even though I had to wait on the ticketmaster app for a good half an hour, I was able to get myself and my friends tickets at a very affordable (for Hamilton) price, and I went a second time in October. I have never lost my love for theater, and hope to see at least one musical a year going forward.

Grace's big event this year was the Gymnastics P&G Championships. She has been extremely into gymnastics for a few years now, and is currently at a high level at our local gym, in their (long, several step) competitive program. She isn't competing yet, or even on the team yet, but in a class a few steps before that, starting to learn the fine nuances of the sport- perfect hands, toes, etc., grooming her for the day when judges will take off points for the little stuff. She did miss the December move up time, but after a talk with one of the coaches, we were assured that they still see potential, and her skills were not what held her back, but just her wiggles, and trouble focusing on the coaches instead of everything else in the gym. If she can find it in her to give them the attention they want, she will hopefully be moved up in April (just to the next level... still a few steps from team lol).

In any case, this little girl is a gymnastics fan girl. We were given the opportunity to see the final night of the women's national competition, from a suite, no less. She was totally into it, watching all the different girls, groaning when they fell, giving them her own points score, and not getting bored after doing this for hours! This from my daughter who doesn't even watch a TV show without getting bored. She was initially disappointed that the big names that she learned from the 2016 Olympics weren't competing (taking a break), but got into the new, upcoming girls. THEN, much to my daughter's delight, we found out that the entire USA gymnastics team, men and women, were being honored at this event, and her idol, Simone Biles, was down below us on stage, in the same building. She was practically speechless!

We did a few sporting events this year, though less than some years due to finances, and trips to St. Louis taking some of that budget (worth it!). There are a few Angels tickets that made it in the jar, and a few Ducks tickets that did not- but we have gone to a few (including one today).

This year was more places than some years, a lot because we have discovered our kids are happier when we aren't just at home for the day, so we find things to do. We went to the fair a few times, we went to a Scottish Festival this year (super fun), and we went to Medieval Times, Knotts, and Disneyland (though those tickets didn't make it in the jar, oops).

Different from past years is that we got a pass to Seaworld, and we got a pass to a set of museums in San Diego, and have used both a good amount of times, especially since the kids passes were only 10 dollars for the year thanks to a special program for preschoolers. Not pictured, is that we also got passes to Legoland, and have gone several times in 2017. Actually, we are finding Legoland is a great theme park. It has some fast roller coaster type rides, it has a Ninjago ride, which Remington loves, and it has a lot of great play areas for the kids. Plus, it is much closer to us than San Diego, and cheaper than Disney.

There is a print out of a hotel confirmation for our small family trip to San Diego- one that will go down in the Olsen records books as one of our worst trips ever. Sea World (day 1) was bad because one, Remington literally got bit by a bird when he was trying to feed the sea lions, and then there was a bee swarm on the climbing equipment. Weird, not so fun, but ok, maybe our second day will be better. Ummm no. So we stayed in San Diego for the night so the kids didn't have to do a big drive two days in a row, and we could do more in San Diego- namely those museums I talked about. It should have only taken ten minutes or so. But due to a rediculously bad mistake on my part... we booked this trip for a day that there was a marathon in San Diego. Meaning that many roads were closed, especially around where we needed to go, and the ones that weren't were majorly impacted by traffic. Awful. It literally took us two hours to go a few miles. We did finally get there, see some cool stuff at the museums, but Blake and my nerves were fried from the morning, and we had very little patience left for the kids, eh, just bad.

Not pictured is that we took a second vacation to San Diego this summer with my family, seeing Sea World, museums, and Legoland with them, and that trip, thankfully, was a good one. As my niece Livvie gets bigger, it is fun to see the three cousins interact together, especially when my kids set out to make her laugh (and usually succeed).

Different from years past, there is only one race bib, and it isn't a mistake. I literally only ran one race in 2017, and it wasn't even my best. It was in February, and I was trying to break my 2 hour half marathon goal, or at least the 2:02 that I had pulled off in November of 2016, but part way through the race my trusty Garmin died, even though it was fully charged, and I had to completely guess my pace for the rest. I still finished in 2:07, which is pretty good considering I had nothing to go off of, but was disheartening.

Honestly, I have really let running become a thing of my past, more than my future these days. The exhileration of finishing a hard race is great... but the time it takes to train for a half is too much right now. I want to spend my mornings sleeping in, not waking up before 5 to run. I want to spend my afternoons with my kids, not feeling tired and worn out from my early run. I want to spend my evenings at home relaxing, and getting some me time. In other words, I have decided that for now, I have different priorities in life than invest my time in running.

I do have a race coming up at the end of the month, thankfully not a half, and I have been still going to the gym and being active, just not running, and I think it will go okay. We will see. But I don't think I am going to be signing up for a lot of races in the near future. When I decided that my priorities had changed, I felt great freedom at choosing to let go instead of being stressed, and failing either my training or my family (or me). I miss the girls I was running with, and I can never seem to stay away from running forever (ever since cross country in high school), but I am at peace about not pursuing it right now. My goal oriented personality wonders if that 2 hour half will be what someday brings me back, but for now, I feel satisfied with my speed work getting down to 2:02, and love the extra energy I have in general without the continual soreness or tiredness cycles.

2017 marks the year that I got back into the work force, first as a sub in the beginning of the year, to working at my kids' preschool, to now being a Music and Movement teacher there. It is a fun change, and a good change financially, and significantly less stressful than 2nd or 4th grade, with less lesson plans and no tests, reports or grades to worry about.

2017 had great trips to Big Bear, great trips to the beach house, and had some pretty significant firsts. It had Grace's first day at Kindergarten, and her first time riding her bike without training wheels. This has been the year of Legos for Remington, and he has gotten really good at building sets on his own, even when they are listed as older than him. Both kids are really learning to read, not just know their letters, and are doing well at math too! There are bad days, there are grumpy moments, but overall, they are good kids, and tons of fun to be with when they are in a good mood.

What will 2018 bring?
-Hopefully Grace will progress in her gymnastics class, and see her hard work from 2017 pay off.
-Hopefully Remington will decide to join the Hockey team, since he has been taking lessons forever.
-Remington will finish preschool :-/, how is my baby growing up so fast!?!
-Remington will start school at the local school, leaving me (presumably) at the preschool with none of my kids there.
-More fun trips, more trips to Legoland, and more trips to the museums before those expire.
-Hopefully a year of great family memories.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

One Heartbreaking Secret Difference with Sickle Kids

Most days, Grace's day doesn't differ much from Remington's. Most days, they both play, go to school, and have a good life. Sure, she takes a couple of different medicines daily, but that is a tiny blip of their lives, and nobody minds it.

But when she has a fever, the difference becomes strikingly, heartbreakingly clear.

Remington, like most kids, has had a few fevers in his 4 years of life. He is hot, we give him Tylenol till it is better, and do our best to keep him happy, at home, and drinking liquids. In a few days it passes, and he doesn't mind sick time so much, because it is lots of mom cuddles and extra TV.

I wish we could give Grace the same. I would LOVE for that to be her fevers. It isn't.

Thursday night, Grace had a fever. Sickle Cell protocol says she has to get checked- i.e. a blood draw- any time she has a fever over 101.3. It was over this mark, and after clinic hours, so it was to the ER that Blake headed that night. Hours and hours in the ER to get a blood draw, an IV and an antibiotic in the IV. [Poke 1]

(Side note here- her body should be able to handle a virus- but a bacteria could be really bad for her immunocompromised body. So all of the protocol revolves around this fact. )

The blood draw will say if she has a bacteria her body is fighting. She usually has to get a follow up antibiotic shot the next day, just in case. In this case, for reasons still somewhat unclear to me, they wanted her to see a pediatrician in the morning on Friday. It was still too early for her 2nd antibiotic shot, but hey, we are rule followers, so we went.

There was a mix up. Because of course there was. Long story short- we got to the doctor's office at 10:30, found out around 11:30 that we were supposed to go to a different location, but that we would be squeezed in there, didn't actually see the doctor until 1:00. Fellow moms, you will appreciate the misery that is keeping a 4 and 5 year old occupied at the doctors, without food, for 2 and a half hours before ever seeing a doctor.

After a short exam, she consulted with the hemotologist on the phone, and confirmed that yes, she needs a shot, and no they couldn't do it yet... so could we please bring her back to the doctor that night at 8:00pm. Fun.

What was the point of that visit? I'm not sure. Moving on.

She gets the antibiotic shot in the leg, super painful one [poke 2]. Oh, and they tell us that we need to go back in today, Saturday, if she still has the fever. Why? Because, my friends, we are still afraid of the big bad bacteria. Since we don't know the cause, we can't just avoid the antibiotics in case her body needs them.

She was limping today from last night's shot, but still had the fever in between medicines... so back to the doctor she went.

This one really breaks my heart. They got the results from her nose swab- para influenza, i.e. flu like virus. This is good news. However, since the results aren't back from the bacteria... they decide to give her ANOTHER shot to protect against a possible secondary infection.

For those keeping track, she has spent hours at night Thursday night in the ER, with a poke for an IV, spent hours waiting at the doctor on Friday, only to return Friday night for a second poke, a painful one, then is dragged to the doctor again on Saturday for another painful poke. My little fighter had had enough at this point, and fought this shot like a tiger- taking 3 nurses to hold her down. But we need to protect her, even if she doesn't understand that yet.

All of this misery these last few days, not even counting that she missed school, a playdate, and a school festival. All because of her irregularly shaped cells and a little fever that doesn't even have other symptoms with it.

Nobody sees this part of her disease but us. You can't tell at school or gymnastics. But we see it, and we feel sick over how hard it is on her, but we fight through it with her, knowing that it is important that we do so. Because the sad, vital truth is that certain bacterial infections, left untreated, could be fatal to our sweet Grace. That makes every shot, every visit, every quantity of hours worth it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Meet Them Where They are At

My brother was always the one that liked Legos. I might build something from time to time, but it was never a passion of mine. I did some random sword fights here and there, but I didn't have epic battles by any means. I liked to sketch some, fashion from different eras occasionally, but I would mostly rather spend my time reading a book, or in some other after school activity than to sit and color.

But now I have a son, who loves his Legos. He got a lot of sets for his birthday, and of course was anxious to build them as soon as possible. Every single member of my family knows that my husband is significantly better at Legos than I am, but he works full days, and I work part time. All this to say that the adult helping my four year old with his sets (for 8-10 year olds no less)... is me.

It's not easy for me. Honestly, he sometimes points out my mistakes. Thankfully, he can mostly build them on his own (even these big sets), with my role mostly to make sure he doesn't skip steps, locating a piece he can't find, and I put on the little pieces too tough for his four year old fingers (like those teeny tiny circle pieces that seem to appear everywhere). As small as my role is, it is crucial to his enjoyment of his presents, because the likelihood is that if he tried to be 100% independent, he would hit a step he couldn't do, and get frustrated.

So, for many days this last week, he and I have worked together on his new Legos sets. And you know what? I have loved our time together. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone into an area that he is passionate about, and in the process, we have grown closer, I've gotten better at Legos, and we have been able to connect over something that used to just be a father/son area. I've even gotten better at saying yes to his requests to sword fight. It can't just be something for dad, it is good for him to see that mom is willing to do things with him too. He loves it, and if I am being honest, I have fun with it too!

With Grace, it is art. She loves being active, and has lots of different interests, but where she seems to have the most peace is when doing art. This too, has been a struggle for me. She doesn't just want to draw or color... she wants to color WITH someone, draw clothes WITH someone, or have you draw something that she picked out. It is a social activity for her. For the longest time, I pushed back, and told her she could draw... but I didn't want to draw, and I didn't draw on command, telling her to draw whatever it was. It took her commenting how much she loved the woman at the Kid's Club at the gym, who did draw pictures for her, for me to decide that I was actually hurting our relationship by not saying yes. The teacher part of me wants her to draw on her own, fine motor skills and all that, but the parent part hadn't gotten that this was something to do together.

Like with Legos, I am leaving my comfort zone, and traveling into Grace's world. I have gotten better at saying yes when she wants me to draw something. I have drawn many outfits with her, in these special little books that have two fashion templates, and we each draw an outfit. Now, we have a new art book to do together, where we both draw a response to a prompt in our special sections of the journal. And just like with Legos, I am finding I love this time with her! In the process, we learn about each other, laugh with each other, and bond over our shared art.

One of the amazing things about kids is that they aren't you. They are their own unique individuals with their own interests that may or may not match your own. It has taken me longer than maybe it should have, but I am finally getting it- I need to meet them where they are at.

Looking ahead, they aren't likely to remember everything that we do together, but I truly believe that by being willing to join them in their interests, wherever they lie, our relationship will be stronger in the future, and they will be more willing to share their lives with me, since they found they could do it in the small things now. It is too early to see where their passions will be at 10, or 15 or even 20, but I hope that I can continue to find a way to join them, go with them, and be a part of whatever makes them smile.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Then He Was Four

At this moment, four years ago, I was in a lot of pain. There were breaks, and then more pain. But four years ago and approximately eight hours from now, this amazing thing happened. My son was born.

After 9 long, adventurous months, including a trip to Ghana, becoming a mom to a beautiful daughter, figuring out how to care for a rambunctious little one and a half year old, while ever growing a larger belly, we had our son.

This biological child that we had prayed for, for years, and had decided was apparently not a part of God's plan. This child that we thought was just not going to happen with us. This child that actually made me laugh, when I learned that he was growing, at the sense of humor that God has in building families.

He came into this world in our house, not in a hospital. His first night was in our bed. Grace, who has such a negative association with hospitals, was able to meet him in a safe, comfortable place- our home. I am so thankful for everyone who made this birth possible, and I still look back on this choice with joy.

Tomorrow he turns four.

There truly is nothing like the birthday of a child, more specifically a biological child. While we celebrate Grace's birthday with joy, I don't have memories of carrying her in my body or giving birth to her, and so birthdays are a different sensation with her.

But with Remington... I know the month that everything changed... and yet at first nothing changed. The beginning of pregnancy doesn't look different to the outside world. Yet, something completely amazing is happening inside. One month at a time, I grew as he grew. I was able to hear his heart beat, feel his kicks, as he was still growing. Then, one morning, a completely separate unique individual exited my body, and he will never share a body with me again. It sounds so strange, and I don't wish him to return by any means, but it is just a remarkable experience, and impossible to describe, even though I'm trying.

I still remember his stages so clearly, and not just through pictures. I remember his tiny body, I remember seeing him learn to crawl, and walk, and talk, and day by day become the boy he is today. But at the same time, I can't figure out how we are four years into his life. It has passed so quick!

Four especially seems so much older than 3. One and two were easy, relatively, still totally babylike toddler.

 Three was getting more to little boy... but now? Sigh, four year olds are not toddlers.

It doesn't help me that Remington talks like someone much older than his four years, telling us he wants to be an engineer (this instead of a paleontologist or an archeologist... his last two career paths). His learning never ceases to amaze me, and I know it won't be long before he too is in Kindergarten.

He tells me he has to grow up. He has to go to high school, and be an adult and have a job (his words, not mine). I ask him if he can just stay little forever, but he tells me no, that he has to keep growing. I don't truly want him to stay little, I know I will enjoy every stage of his life, but oh, it is so hard to see him grow up.

I'm pouring out my nostalgia and bitter sweetness here tonight, so tomorrow, all he sees is mom celebrating his special day with him.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

It goes so fast

It is so cliche, isn't it?

"It goes by so fast."

The worst part about it is that you can never get it at the moment. Tell a mother who has been living on minimal sleep that it goes so fast, and she is likely to bite your head off... till a year or two goes by, and she can look back and see that the baby time is truly so short.

My favorite quote, that my dad says often, is that "The days are long but the years are short."

We have had days where we are so... very... ready for the kids to go to bed at the end of the day. We are just drained from trying to keep an active 3 and 5 year old happy, and get them to obey, just a little. And yet, I cannot explain it to anyone who hasn't been there, how crazy it is to me that Grace is done with preschool.

How it is possible that my little girl is going to Kindergarten? Plus, Remington is so far from my baby... he has already finished a year of preschool. No. Not possible... right?

 Even if I someday have another (not that any are currently planned), I will never have their baby/ toddler times back. On the one hand, it is heartbreaking to me to see that time go- and yet... there is a flip side.

See, while it is true that I feel like their time of being little is slipping through my fingers, it is also true that I love seeing the new phases too. Remington will be old enough to be on a hockey team soon, and Grace is working through the steps to someday join the gymnastics team at our gym (it is a several year process, but she is on the track). She is starting to figure out how to read short words, which is thrilling to me as a teacher and a reader... seeing my daughter... learn to read! Remington has recently figured out how to go through the night without a pull up... meaning he is officially, completely out of diapers!

They both have incredible imaginations and will happily make up a complete story for their little characters. Grace has recently become our little artist, who loves drawing, drawing with people and is working on covering her walls of her room with her own art. Remington loves Legos, and even though he is not yet four, he has the necessary dexterity to make many of his own designs, and will happily explain them to you. Yay! A master builder!

As much as I miss the littles, I can't wait to see what they grow up to be, who they grow up to marry, how they grow as people, and all the other steps of watching your children grow. I don't want them to stop growing... but a part of me will always miss the times when they were smaller. I know too, that this process doesn't stop, and someday I will be looking back at this post, wondering at my kindergartner and preschooler and wondering how they became these teenagers in my home.

Tell Your Story

  Who lives?
  Who dies?
  Who tells your story?
 But when you're gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame, who tells your story?
The above are lyrics from Hamilton, but I have been recently made acutely aware of the depth of truth in these beautiful lyrics. (Have you heard Hamilton yet? No... then go listen to it, the musical is just amazing, join my obsession).

I first signed up for in 2013, to start working on my family tree. I had an interest in it, and more than that, my dad had mentioned how it was something that he would love to learn more about. Now, for anyone keeping track, you know that 2013 was the year our family grew... and then grew again, and before Remington was born, I had canceled my subscription because I knew if I didn't have time for ancestry with one little, I definitely wasn't going to make that happen with two.

In 2015, I signed back up again, as the kids have gotten older and I am better able to find time for hobbies like digging deep into the past of our family tree. Plus, I truly find it addicting, especially when I uncover something new, a new ancestor, or the best- a part of their story. Names are great, jobs are better, but to find someone who wrote about who they are, or a newspaper article on them, or finding an ancestor well known enough to have a story about them by an actual history is priceless.

So, it is without exaggeration that I can say that I was given a priceless treasure on Memorial Day this year. See, as I dig deeper, and deeper and ask questions, I started asking about the primary sources of our family. Wondering where are the documents that our family has saved? My dad took the time to go to my grandma's house, and found this amazing box filled with my great grandfather's writings.

This great grandfather was a preacher, and he clearly loved to write, and edit his writings, and write some more. One of the key items in this box was his life story, hand written, several times, I think I counted about six. His editions vary somewhat, including different details, but all of them recount his rather astounding story of leaving Germany, at the age of 15, following a friend, seeking a new life in America- where he knew no one,  and didn't speak the language. He managed to get a job at a farm, and later went to seminary and became a preacher. This alone would be amazing, but this box had more.

There are more life stories. He clearly was obsessed with life stories, and I am so grateful he was. He apparently convinced several family members to also write their stories, also hand written, allowing me glimpses into all of their lives that I wouldn't have otherwise had. For family members that were already passed, he, apparently wanting to be thorough, wrote those too. He wrote of an ancestor who lost out on a great job because he couldn't read English well enough to pass the new test required... though he had been doing well at the job before... just while speaking and reading German. This ancestor then lost his home, because he couldn't afford it anymore, bringing new light to the plight of immigrants. Another ancestor dreamed of having a farm and land to raise chickens, and he bought the land, but sadly died before he ever was able to build a house on it.Where could I have learned these things about people in my family tree without my great grandfather giving us this record?

Believe it or not, those aren't the best part either. My favorite item in this box are his yearly journals. For several years, we have his journals, starting in 1945. I truly feel like I am getting to meet this man who died long before I was born through these journals. He was most consistent with his brief report of the daily weather, making himself an almanac of sorts for a time before the internet kept track of the typical weather. He wrote about who he visited and this pastor was extremely reliant about recording the text that the weekly church sermon was on, as well as a few notes about the service.

But he also gave his thoughts on the current events. Like how he had a hard time believing the "German atrocities" (his words) that were being reported, and he questioned the validity of those news reports, thinking them American propaganda justifying bombing German women and children.

He was distraught over the reports of the treatment of the German prisoners of war, and said, "Oh tolerance, oh democracy, where art thou?"

I truly never looked at World War 2 through the eyes of people like my great grandfather, who had immigrated from Germany. He is clear in his dislike of Hitler... but at the same time defensive about the German people as a whole. Germans are not the enemies as a unit, they were also his parents, his siblings, his aunts and uncles. Real people who were kind, farmers far away from all of the craziness who likely didn't like what was going on in their nation any more than people in America did.

I loved being able to read his journal entry on the day we had victory in Europe. He was excited, they went to a special church in thanks of it ... and he also planted tomatoes that day. So very normal, life goes on in the midst of amazing historical events. He wrote every time my grandfather, who was in the armed forces, sent a letter during the war, and I teared up reading the entry on the date that "Willy came home today."

At the same time, there was so much normal drama too- a Pastor at church doing a secret baptism after he was let go, one of his sons having to go to the hospital, his somewhat snarky comment of "Baseball players on strike? Whoever heard of that?- Something new under the sun," and countless others that make me feel connected with him.

It has me more reflective on my story, my parents stories, and all of my relatives. This blog, when I write in it, is a legacy that I am leaving my kids someday. They will be able to look back in the archives and see what I was thinking about as we went through the adoption process, her first weeks at home, the last days of pregnancy. Every time I take the time to write, I am not just writing for an audience, though it is a public domain, I am also taking the opportunity to tell my story.

Most nights, I write a tiny bit in a journal about my kids. This too, is like my great grandfather, and it is another priceless item in my house. If there was a fire, it would be on my short list to save, and when I have written in it for five years (almost there), I intend to scan the whole thing, and save it digitally as well. The memories range from funny to sad, but it is fun to look back on the last several years, and even if I miss a few days, the days I do write are well worth the time it takes to do it.

I also take the time to sort through photos and make a physical book out of the best ones for the year. It is time consuming, and I get way behind on these yearbooks, but knowing that there is an easier way for the kids to see their photos as they grow up besides looking on my computer makes it worth it. As a bonus, it keeps those photos safe on the shutterfly website, in case of something catastrophic happening to my computer and digital copies.

I do have the best of intentions on this blog, perhaps I can do better... but I have said that before too. But I wanted to share all of this as my way to encourage you, whoever you are, find a way to tell your story. Type it out, make a scrapbook, write a journal, give your kids and future descendants a way to know you generations after you are gone. Who tells your story?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Newest Niece

When my brother in law Graeme first brought Jami with him to the "Kid's Weekend" in Big Bear, we totally connected. She has an awesome personality, a great heart for helping, and was super easy to talk to.During the years of their dating, while they were getting closer, so were Jami and I. We did yoga together, we ran together, we ran races together, painted together, did karaoke and line dancing together, to name a few.

I was thrilled when they announced their engagement, and so happy that Jami would now be a part of our family officially, as she had been unofficially for years. It was extremely hard when we learned that Graeme's job would take them away to St. Louis.

But we did our best to still stay connected. Busy lives meant that our Facetime conversations didn't happen as often as we wished, but we made sure that they happened when we could, and the conversations were great when we did.

So, when I found out she was pregnant, I told her that if she wanted me there, I would be there, irregardless of distance. Various talks through the last few months of pregnancy confirmed that it would mean a lot to her to have family with her, and especially since I encouraged her through our races, she felt that I could encourage her through her birth.

This, of course, is easier said than done. Babies are notorious for arriving on their schedule, and so for the last few weeks headed towards her due date, I was constantly on edge waiting for notice that she was starting labor, and could tell you what flight I was going to try to take at any given moment. Officially I had a flight booked for February 28th, with her due date of March 3rd, but was ready, literally with a bag packed, to leave earlier.

Jami was keeping us (my mother-in-law and I) posted on her symptoms and check ups, and on February 24th, my mother-in-law called me, and said she didn't think that Jami and baby were going to wait till our flights on the 28th (due to certain symptoms), and that she was planning on flying out on the 25th. After much indecision, I eventually decided that flying out on Saturday would be better, so I followed her lead, and changed my flight as well. It should be stated, for the record, that my mother-in-law has an amazing God given intuition, and there have been numerous incidents where she just has a feeling about something... that turns out to be legit. For example, even though we didn't tell people I was in labor, she and Kris woke up shortly before Remington's birth and were praying for me and him at the moment he was born... even though they weren't told at all.

Anyways, her intuition was spot on. We were in the airport, Saturday morning, waiting for our two different flights (I wasn't able to get her flight), and we got a call, from Graeme and Jami, who were headed to the hospital. At the time, they didn't realize that her water had broken, and thought they would be headed back home later. By the time I boarded, they knew that they weren't getting to go back home.

I wished them all the best, and told them to keep me posted. On my layover, I got the text that she was dilated to 4cm (10 is baby time, for anyone who doesn't know), and all I could think as I flew was that I hoped I could make it in time to help, at least a little. To me, it wasn't about being there for the birth moment as much as it was a desperate race to try to help and support my friend and sister-in-law who meant so much to me, during such a challenging time.

When I landed, she was at 6cm, and I literally took a taxi from the airport to the hospital (thankfully only 15 minutes away). On my layover, I had been reading about more ways to help, and I had read about this peanut ball, and that it could help labor if it wasn't progressing. So, when I arrived, and got to the room, and said hi to everyone, I noticed it sitting in the corner of her birthing room, unused. So I talked about it to the group, they checked with the nurse, who was very enthusiastic about using it, and was happy to get Jami set up with it.

The situation at the time was that they were concerned she wasn't progressing, and had informed everyone that if she didn't keep going, they would need to medically move the progress along. Well, that peanut ball worked as talked about online... because it jumped her up to 8cm fairly quickly.

That was my biggest contribution as far as something I could provide that possibly someone else couldn't, but other than that, my role was just support and encouragement. Just being with her, chatting with her, helping the time pass, and I am so thankful that thanks to Lori's intuition, we already had flights to help us be there on time. Jami's mom booked after the call, but she made it on time too, but when she was at 10cm, and was in the waiting to push time.

Jami's team at the hospital was great too, letting her body be ready to push instead of forcing the issue before it was needed, and her doctor had them laughing in between pushes too! Jami did great once the time to push came, and their baby was born after just 12 minutes of pushing, Sunday, February 26th!

Graeme had the honor of telling Jami it was a girl in the delivery room, and telling the two moms and I in the waiting room too, which was such a surreal, special moment. We had to wait before visiting, as they were giving them some time with their new baby girl, Finley Elizabeth, but it was such a blessing to see and hold and love on my newest niece once it was time.

In the next several days, I was able to provide support both at the hospital and at their house, and I am so thankful to my husband and my parents for providing support at my house to let me have that time there. At the hospital, I took turns holding Finley, to let Jami and Graeme have much needed rest, including staying late on Sunday, even after "the moms" had headed back to the house. But I also just was there for company, helping time pass at the hospital, especially when Graeme had some appointments to go to. At their house I did some cleaning, grocery shopping, and filled their freezer with meals, feeling good about being able to bless their family, even when I had to fly back home.

I even was designated as the person to drive Jami and Finley home from the hospital, which was such an honor, and I was there for their first night home too. By this point, Wednesday, I was starting to feel homesick, but it didn't make it better when I had to say my goodbyes to Finley and Jami, both of which were very emotion filled. Jami has been great about keeping me stocked with cute pictures, but I still miss them so much! I look forward to the next time I will get to see them in person, and hug that sweet little girl again, whenever that may be.

Pictures (so, I have forgotten how to reduce the size of these... so enjoy supersize pictures?):