Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This time last year...

People often get sentimental around birthdays. One of the moms I read often was very sentimental about her child's first birthday, even to the point of visiting the hospital room in which she gave birth. And it was right for her, because that birth changed the course of her life in a way she'd never imagined. I thought James's first birthday might do the same for me, but it didn't. His birthday was a whirlwind, and it was fun and wonderful, but it wasn't sentimental really.

However, today is the anniversary of James's heart surgery. This day last year, I was handing my tiny boy over to Mike the nurse, and really, by this time in the day, I was learning about chest tubes, how to read all the numbers on the numerous machines gathered around James, how to knit, and how super-scrubbing hands enough times in a day can chap your skin faster than anything else I know.

When the holidays officially began at Thanksgiving, I was reminded how, a year ago, Jon and I had just brought James from an appointment at Children's, where it was decided he would definitely undergo surgery. It was just a few days later when we received a call with potential dates for surgery, and we chose the earliest one. I remember how rushed Christmas seemed, and how unimportant all the hubbub was compared to saving my son's life.

And yes, while we probably could have held the surgery off another week or two past Christmas, I truly believe it saved James's life. His pale pale skin, his listless eyes, his lack of energy to nurse or take a bottle, his overall stillness and perpetual sleep.... Now I cringe when I remember the pre-surgery James. How did we make it those 3 1/2 months of his life? How did HE make it?

When James awoke from surgery, he truly awoke. He drank full bottles of milk, he kicked his legs, and he gave his first beaming smile to his Grandpa when he came to visit. His transformation brings tears to my eyes even as I write this. Our son was finally with us--not struggling to survive, but really with us as a baby should be, to enjoy and be enjoyed.

Now, as I think about James and finding his balance between contentment and striving toward the next milestone, as I think about those few little inches he scooted forward all by himself yesterday, and how the little man who could barely gain an ounce is now weighing in at 20 pounds, I can't help but be sentimental.

Last year, we made it home from the hospital, miraculously, just in time for Christmas Day. It felt a little like having a newborn again, dealing with new things like incisions and eating schedules. It also felt like we could finally get started on our life as a family of four, that we'd all been holding our breath until James was well.

And today, well, today it feels pretty great. I look down at James, who is sitting in my lap, facing me and pushing up strongly on his arms so he can look me in the eyes and giggle, because he had been in the crib crying about not wanting to nap, and now his mama saved him. This time last year was the beginning of James's life. A day that truly changed our lives forever.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Christmas Tree Is Up!

"If I just get the paper torn a little bit..."

Tulle from our wedding. A new addition to our tree this year.

Caleb's decorating

You know...kinda makes me want to add dark teal to my Christmas colors next year!

The only picture I could get of the two boys together.

Caleb was not cooperating

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Scripture hung from our tree to the corners of the room.

Oh, I wonder what's in the big box!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Caleb at the Parade

We got to take the boys to the Christmas parade this year. There was lots of hubbub, because I'm just as excited about parades as Caleb is. I even convinced Jon to pre-park his truck in a prime spot, so we'd have a place to sit and enjoy! (Does he love me or what!) He even bought me cotton candy when we got there. He's my prince charming.

Well, Caleb loves the band, and so he brought his cymbals to play during the parade. You'll see the part they play in the video.

I had SO much video of the parade. I wanted to remember every minute of it. To remember how much Caleb LOVED it. To hear him squeal when a new float went by, or a new band was coming up. He waved to every Homecoming queen or Miss Jr. Norphlet or whatever pretty girl was sitting on a car, and he yelled, "Hi Princess!!" every time. Made my heart melt! Hopefully this is a good video to show you a little of it all. And excuse this sappy mom for putting over two minutes of some random small-town parade up. :)

Brother Play

One of Caleb's gifts from his birthday was a bear named Cooper, and a book all about him. The story is also available as a free app on the iPad. As it reads on the iPad (or as I read it from the book), Cooper makes comments about the story! Caleb loves it. And, evidently, so does James!

Getting ready for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Caleb's Birthday

If it's really the thought that matters, let's just say that this party would have been awesome. As it ended up, it was exactly what it needed to be, and Caleb loved it.

We have had a tradition around here to have big parties. Either the entire family is around, or the whole church is invited. However, following the advice of my mother, I decided that a party for a 3-yr-old needed to have three guests. I invited 5, but only 3 could make it, so it worked out just fine.

Caleb was pretty determined that he wanted a train party. He would even mention the train cake that I made for him last year! I couldn't believe he still remembered it!

I didn't particularly mind doing another train party. It was, after all, his party. But it would be fun to do something else, so occasionally I'd ask him about something else. Underwater? Explorer? Dinosaur? Castle?

Well, at the mention of Castle, he changed his tune. A castle party! Yes!

This boy loves kings and queens. His blanket is--among other things--his majestic robe. And how cool could a castle party be?!

First order of the party: the cake. Let's just say we had more than a few difficulties with it. What should have been a castle with turrets looked more like a hippo gone belly-up. And the inside was a mine of toothpicks.
My fork is there to keep the turret from falling.
I didn't know what to do. His party was going to be after church on Sunday, and it was 9pm on Saturday, so it wasn't like I could order a castle cake on such short notice. In short, I gave it up for lost. I told Caleb that I really tried to make him a castle cake, but that it just wasn't going to happen. I let him eat one of the turrets the night before his birthday, and let the others fall off.

When the turrets fell off, things started looking better. I decided to tweak it, add some flags for visual distraction, and it seemed to work! Caleb loved it! I will never make it big with my cake decorating skills, but as long as my boys are happy, it's fine by me.

On to the party! Our first order of business was to make a crown for everyone...moms included!

Posterboard and glitter sheets with adhesive backing cut into shapes. Tada! No glue, and no wait time for the kids to wear them!

Beth and John
Maggie and Amber

Caleb, Tyler, Adrienne

Then it was time for a game. We played Pin the Tail on the Dragon. Which the kids were all for except for the covered eyes part. Tyler did it, but everyone else thought they should just put their tail on the dragon they way they wanted. Worked for me!
 By the end of the game, there were six tails all around the dragon. Two were wings, the kids told me. Of course, every dragon has wings!

On to the cake! No one let the sub=par decorating stop them from eating it!

 The men (Zach with his daughter Lauren, and Jon with Adrienne's boy, Jake) doing bottle duty.

Caleb opened his presents before cake, and I was thankful for the small number of kids. Just a few gifts was just right. He plays with each of them very often, which is great. Here is his new play=doh set.

I had ordered books to give as party favors. The books, of course, came in the day after the party. So we passed them out with our thanks. The book was called "Good Night, Good Knight" and is a funny book for new readers about a knight who has to get 3 little dragons ready for bed.

I think it was a great party overall. Caleb loved it and his friends had fun. He may, however, not be requesting a castle cake next year!

(James, by the way, slept through the entire party, if you were wondering where he was in the pics!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sock Hoarder

A few weeks ago, I noticed that I was constantly running out of socks for the boys. At first, I didn't think too much about it. Both boys take their socks off all over the house, and drop them, throw them, catapult them everywhere. So...maybe I just hadn't found a few of those.

As the days went by, I got a little more concerned. Where WERE all these socks going?? I pulled James's crib out from the wall--no socks. I checked inside all of Caleb's shoes--no socks. I peered inside the washer and dryer--no socks. Hm.

So, for the sake of warm feet on the cusp of cooler weather, I bought a big pack of socks for each boy. They're Hanes, with the non-skid writing on the bottom. Caleb calls them his "rubber socks" and he loves them. James gets a little more traction for his walker. All in all, a good deal, but still a little mystifying.

As we got ready for Caleb's birthday party, we rearranged the living room. The couch got moved away from the wall.

Lo and behold, a pile of socks. And a missing kitchen towel! I can imagine that one day, after all the laundry was folded and ready to be put away, a little boy found a ball of socks. He wondered what to do with that ball, because it couldn't remain where it was (a little boy's mantra). So he looked around and spied the couch. He'd put things behind the couch before, and it seemed the perfect spot. Plop! Went the little ball of socks. How very satisfying! And look, there's a whole pile of socks and sock balls! Plop, plop, plop! There they all go. Now there are no more socks.

Oh, well. That was fun.

And off he walked, never to think of those socks again.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A new friend

We have a new friend! Her name is Cara Grace. Her family recently moved here to work at the school. Cara Grace is a year older than Caleb, and they play together so well! I've even started watching Cara Grace twice a week. She's a little bossy pants, and I love it. What I really love is that the two big kids entertain themselves without my needing to be involved. I can be pretty sure that when Cara Grace comes over, I can fold laundry, get some work done, who knows! And having two older kids in the house inspires me to be a little more crafty. They've had lots of fun with their projects.

Can you believe they all smiled at the same time??

One of my favorite photos of James.

Isn't she beautiful?

One of my favorite ever photos of Caleb.