Friday, December 25, 2009

In Just One Year

There was a five week old baby named Grace at church last night. She slept peacefully through the whole service.

Caroline Grace made the rounds. Walking the center aisle to the back, peering into pews one at a time and grinning hugely at whomever she'd find there, lighting up their nights with Christmas magic and then moving on to the next pew. She'd linger especially long at pews with young children in them. And she was drawn to that sleeping five week old.

She was dressed in a lovely blackwatch plaid and blue velvet dress that Mamie picked out for her last year on New Year's Day. We stretched her into the very same tights she wore last Christmas Eve, when she was not yet 8 pounds, when she slept peacefully through the whole service. She was only 3 weeeks old then, and just three days from her baptism. So tiny. So precious.

I said to the mom of the five week old, "Just imagine, in one year..." And then I pointed at our busy little girl who was chasing after an older child with a lovely stuffed Pooh. She said "I know. I can't wait. And yet I don't want her to get bigger. But I do." "I know," I said, "Those first few months... are... wonderful and awful." Her eyes got big. "Yes," she replied, "Yes."

Just one year... the miracle continues..

Friday, December 11, 2009

Do we stop counting weeks now?

For the first time in a whole year we didn't get a blog post up on Friday. Do we shift to Saturdays now? Or Sundays? Try to come up with clever blog titles?

We have tons of pics and videos to share, but as I am in the truly overwhelming final crunch of a totally overwhelming semester a few bullets will have to do for now... more later... maybe... if Kev will do it.

  • Caroline's birthday party was grand. She was a bit overwhelmed, cranky through it as she did not sleep the night before (we ended up saying happy birthday right at 2:34 a.m. as she had woken up screaming, again, just moments before) and only took one short nap during the day. So an evening party with lots of people, including Fiona who just wanted to hug her and hug her and hug her... so sweet... but... she was. not. interested. Fiona would scramble to her and hug her and then she'd scream. Rinse. Repeat. But she LOVED her cake. (Everybody did. My goodness it was good.) And she received several beautiful Christmas ornaments that will be special keepsakes for years to come. We got the tree partially decorated during the party and then I finished decorating it after people left, while Kev cleaned the kitchen.
  • Caroline is definitely walking now! She seems to have crossed that line where walking is her preferred mode of mobility, unless she really wants to get somewhere fast and then it is back to the bear crawl. But, almost magically, in the day before, the day of, and the day after her 1st birthday she took off!
  • Caroline received a great walking toy from Aunt Janet, Uncle Doug, and Cousin Elliott. It is this wooden thing with alligators that clickety clack as you push it and walk about. She likes walking with it and playing with different parts of it. She also likes climbing on top of it, not a good idea.
  • Caroline also received a great set of rhythm instruments from her marvelous Godfamily. She truly enjoys playing with these. We spent a lot of time after dinner with her encouraging her to play her drum and it didn't take much prompting on our part. She played with it in all sorts of different ways.
  • She received many other great presents, too. New books that are just fabulous from Pa and Eepa, and a toy cell phone that she digs almost as much as the real thing, and from us the Leap Frog Fridge Phonics (one of you recommended this! thanks! she loves it!) And an adorable outfit from Aunt Janet and Uncle Doug. A gift card from "Aunt" Nancy. A cool d.v.d. from Silent (thank you so much! you are so generous!) And I'm sure I'm forgetting something else. And above all else she received MUCH love and admiration from many. She is one truly blessed little girl.
  • We had Caroline's 12 month appt on Tuesday. She's growing beautifully. She is now 30.5 inches (90th percentile) and 21.2 pounds (50th percentile), and her head circumference is now in the 93rd percentile. All along she has been, in her doctor's estimation, tall and lean (but not skinny). A very healthy little girl. She got a clean bill of health from her doc and a thumbs up for development. The first thing the doc said to us was "Well, she's officially a girl now. She's no longer a baby. But she'll always be your baby, especially momma's baby." Wow. A girl, not a baby. Wow. Our big girl got 4 shots! Most ever! She wasn't pleased at all. But she recovered pretty quickly. She was fairly cranky the rest of the day, I'm told, and between a budding sinus infection in me and restlessness in her we had a terrible night that night, but... the next night, best night in a long time.
  • Caroline seems to have caught (or to be catching) the cold I had last week (which is now a sinus infection, I think). This is only her second cold since she was born and the first was pretty minor as is this one so far. We hope it passes quickly for her. Poor dear. Ironically something always seems to develop the day after we have a regular ped. visit. Always. A leg gets broken. Thrust symptoms surface. A rash appears. A nose gets stuffy.
  • Her receptive language comprehension seems to be increasing exponentially. Kev would have to tell you examples of what all she understands. In his word, she understands "A LOT!"
  • She continues to be playing with different laughs.
  • I think she has settled into being right handed.
  • And I'm pretty sure her eyes are staying blue and she's more or less blonde.
  • Oh, the results of the birthday ritual! We did this Korean ritual were you lay out various objects and whichever one the child picks up first determines something about their future. We laid out a string (for long life), a 5 dollar bill (for wealth), a pen (for becoming a scholar), a drum (for becoming a musician), a toothbrush (for becoming a dentist)... and maybe something else, I'm not sure. She went straight for the drum, but she didn't pick it up, she touched it, pushed it around a bit, seemed ready to pick up, but then, without warning spun around and picked up the pen. Our guests were delighted. They interpreted this to mean she would dabble in music for a time and then become a scholar... like someone else she knows?! Ultimately though she picked up the toothbrush and started gnawing on it. Come to think of it it might have been mine. Wonder where that cold came from... oops. Though she was sniffling a bit before the party!

I'm sure there's more, but it is 1:00 a.m. and I'd like to do a few more things before going to sleep, so this will have to do for now. Any recommendations for approaches to this blog in Caroline's second year?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Birthday Girl!

Three Before the Party Shots

Three During the Party Shots

More to Follow...

Happy, happy birthday, baby girl! We're SO glad you were born!

Friday, December 4, 2009

52 weeks!!!

I think our 52 week old is determined to keep vigil until her official birthday in 5 hours. We've tried bedtime every way we know how... and she is not having it. She can barely keep her eyes open, but she will. not. give. in. Right now she is draped across me in bed, the bed in which she was born, 5 hours from now, a year ago, nursing again... It seems she might, finally, be settling. We shall see.

The smell of "lighter than air chocolate cake" is wafting into our bedroom. Kev is making the layers of this cake tonight which he will then freeze and frost tomorrow. Caroline's cake won't be especially girly or kiddish even. But... we know our girl likes chocolate. Months ago I accidentally dropped a chocolate chip and she gobbled it up. She greedily takes bits of Kev's homemade chocolate ice cream (made with coconut milk and agave nectar). We found a wheat free chocolate cake recipe that seemed a lovely way to celebrate her first birthday.

We have quite a crowd coming over tomorrow evening to celebrate. Jenn and Sean, our dear friends who are expecting their first baby in almost exactly a month. Jenn and Sean kept us company on many Friday evenings through the spring- and they co-planned our shower... and organized meals for us after the birth... They're going to be in childbirth class all day, but then come to join us. Jonathan and Tish, the other shower co-planners, and, in the case of Tish, birth attender/blogger/harmonizer, will be there too. As will dear friend Sam, the nurse midwife who helped me find a midwife here and then became a friend later. She had a baby about six weeks before I did. Her whole family is coming over- hubby, four year old son, and 1 year old daughter. Sung Uk, Young, and Jo An will also be joining us. They joined us for our 100th day celebration and it seemed fitting to have them join us again. Jo An is six weeks younger than Caroline. So we'll have at least three little girls who are all nearly the same age. We're hoping to do a Korean 1st birthday tradition tomorrow and also thought it would be cool to have our Korean friends here for that! Debbie, who was a Godsend when she arrived 9 or so hours after the birth, will be joining us, as will Kimberly (and maybe her family- including her daughter born a few weeks after Caroline) the head of the midwifery practice with whom we worked. Marecha, the primary midwife at our birth, will be stopping by, hopefully, though she has her niece's birthday party to attend. Marnique, one friend from church, will be coming too. I think I'm forgetting somebody. There are others from whom we have not yet heard... so, really, our little house might be bursting at the seams. Should be interesting! I think our little extrovert will LOVE all the attention and will especially love having other kids with whom to play.

Anyhow... developments this past week...

She has made great progress is walking. She still prefers her speedy bear crawl, but walks when she feels like it, quite effectively, and quite proudly. She even stepped over uneven surfaces and kept going this evening. It almost seemed this evening like maybe she'll just take off on her 1st birthday. That would be cool and memorable. I imagine seeing Fiona (Sam's daughter) scooting about, might just inspire her.

Kev reports that yesterday she seemed eager to practice her stair climbing. We have two steps down into our guest bathroom. She kept going down and up them over and over again.

She has been giggling and chuckling a lot lately. She is very ticklish. I was stroking her back while nursing the other day and she started laughing and laughing while nursing. It seemed tonight that she was experimenting with new kinds of smiles and laughs-- they almost seemed insincere at times. Very funny to witness.

She seems to be working on several teeth, again. Her moods have been erratic- high highs and low lows. And she often wakes from sleep screaming intensely. Poor thing. Kev started making roller coaster motions during her swings a few evenings ago. As she was getting more and more excited and wound up he'd make a sound like a roller coaster slowly climbing. And then when she'd start to disintegrate he'd make a sound like a roller coaster racing down, which would usually make her giggle and then send the roller coaster climbing again.

Caroline loves sniffing. She has a book about animals, one of which has a page that says "Rabbits sniff." She sniffs when she sees the cover of that book and races through the pages until she gets to that one when she starts sniffing madly again. Too cute.

Up until today we were ready to report that she had made great strides in gentleness. Aunt Janet taught her a handy saying "Open hands for living things" and she would respond to that or even just "Gentle, Caroline, gentle" by softening her touch and stroking vs. grabbing or clawing. But today... back to aggressive. Ah well. We know she has gentle potential in her.

But the biggest news of all??? CAROLINE HUGS NOW! She wraps her arms around our necks or throws them over our shoulders and squeezes and sometimes pats our backs. It is SO sweet.

We'll surely have pictures of the birthday girl to post tomorrow, but this is all for tonight. She's sleeping soundly now, stretched across me, as I am in the very spot from which I pushed her into the world a year ago. Wow.

More Remembering

I stood before my colloquy group, those 15 students in the introductory theology class for whom I've been responsible as a t.a. this semester, and recited for them my top 10 wishes for their final papers. The last one was "Breathe. Trust. YOU CAN DO THIS." When I arrived at that I said "Today is the first anniversary of 24 hours of active labor in which I NEVER thought I'd actually have a baby. I didn't think I could do it. But I have a baby. She'll be 1 tomorrow. YOU CAN DO THIS."

Remembering that Friday...

When at long last... she came! At 2:34 A.M.

When I discovered for myself that God had given us a daughter.

When I was scared by my bleeding.

When I was too tired to stand in the shower.

When Tish and Katherine weighed Caroline for the first time.

When Tish sang the doxology.

When I had to pass Caroline off to the midwife as she cried and cried so Kevin and I could get some sleep.

When Debbie came and gave me perspective and to make sure all of us ate.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Remembering that Thursday...

As I sleepily try to stay awake to grade more papers on this first Thursday in December I remember THAT first Thursday in December on which we were sure we would be meeting our baby as I was in active labor all. day. long.

Walking, resting, soaking, walking, resting, soaking...

And then pushing, pushing, pushing...

I kept asking "Why haven't we seen the head?"

I blurted out "This is the hardest thing I've ever done."

Eventually the midwives intervened and guided my pushing and I was so grateful... but I didn't want to push anymore. I was too tired, too demoralized, too sure I wasn't going to end up with a baby afterall... but mostly i was too exhausted not having slept for the two nights prior and having pushed for many hours prior... but they all gathered around me and helped hold my legs up and made me keep pushing...

But she didn't come that Thursday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Remembering that Wednesday...

When I made a LONG birth play list and listened to podcasts in the wee hours of the morning as Kev snored beside me...

When I received a wake up call from Marecha at 7 a.m., I wasn't asleep, but I didn't realize she was outside...

When we went out for yummy pancakes and I knit a hat for Elliott...

When we watched a d.v.d. and tried to nap (neither of us can remember what we watched)...

When we decorated the tree...

When we took a long walk...

When we played Nertz while trying to time the contractions that were coming closer together...

When I tried to go to sleep... but then... longer, stronger, closer together...

Called Tish and the midwives in...

Sure seemed like the baby would be arriving on her due date... that Thursday...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Remembering that Tuesday...

I awoke early and went to the bathroom.

The bloody show presented.

So much for editing that book for a prof.

Set to readying the birthing room... and did we shop and cook as well... i think maybe yes, yes we did.

And the midwife came at 6 and didn't know whether to fill out the prenate form or the birth form.

She chose the prenate form.

She left saying she was going to get a nap before my 2 a.m. call.

I didn't sleep that night, but I didn't need to call her in either.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Remembering That Monday...

As I sat through a three hour afternoon seminar this Monday afternoon, I remembered being physically though not mentally present for a three hour seminar that Monday afternoon a year ago... thinking of all that yet needed to get done... wondering when our little one would come...

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I'm finding it trippy to think back. All year we've been celebrating Caroline's birth every Friday as she entered the world at long last in the wee hours of Friday, December 5th. But, of course, we're one day later this year. But I have distinct Sunday before she was born memories, Monday before she was born, etc. etc.

So today I'm remembering that first Sunday in Advent a year ago... when my belly dropped and Caroline's head engaged, when Jonathan and Tish joined us for an Advent Supper of Turkey Pot Pie and Tish placed a perfect alto line in "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" which convinced me she needed to be at the birth.

My thoughts at the beginning of that Sunday are recorded here.

In my mind Caroline's birth story most officially started a year ago today, first Sunday of Advent 2008.

I remember. I am grateful.

Friday, November 27, 2009

51 weeks!

Ready for a crazy long post with TOO MANY PICTURES? Here goes...

Well... we're wrapping up our week away. Cousins Caroline and Elliott are sound asleep. Aunt Janet, Uncle Doug, Uncle Kevin and Aunt Sarah are sitting around sipping libations, chatting, working on crossword puzzles (the major adult occupation of those actually vacationing this week), and updating the blog. Pa and Eepa (that is what Elliott has turned "abuelita" into- and that is how eepa wants it spelled) left this morning for their two day drive home to Michigan. It has been a good week. I have mostly been holed up studying, but all the rest of the clan has gotten lots of good socializing in. Caroline has been fascinated with her only cousin who is 2 and a half (and most worthy of fascination! He is an AMAZING little boy!) There were moments when it seemed he was more annoyed with her than anything else, moments that appeared like unrequited love (quite normal for their age span and their lack of familiarity it seemed to me), but there have been some very sweet moments between them and very few, if any, truly difficult moments. I'm so grateful for all the time they had together.

Before I post the MANY pictures I have to share a few highlights... Caroline seems to be having a mini-language explosion. She's been doing lots of echoing of sounds and she definitely is saying "Bye" and waving. It seems she is also saying "hi" upon greeting, but the bye is more definite. It has frequently seemed this week that she says something like "Sarah" when she sees me. No "mommy", but perhaps "Sarah". Funny. She definitely seems to be saying "What's this?" "What's that?" And this week picked up the "UH" of "Uh-oh", but doesn't have the "Oh" yet. Something gets dropped and she says "Uh, uh, uh, uh..." At times Elliott would be babbling at one end of the table and Caroline would almost precisely echo the sounds he was making. Very exciting.

We thought she'd be walking by the end of the week, but she may have scared herself out of progress. One evening she stood up and saw her reflection in a glass door leading to a darkened room. She started crying and walking towards it. We had been counting her steps in the previous hour. She had progressed from the 4 total steps she had ever taken before to seven. And Eepa started counting as she cried and walked.... and she got to 17 or something... nobody could bear to stop her, but as she got closer and closer to her image she cried harder and harder. She was spooked. And for days after she only walked one or two steps at a time. But apparently she got up to seven again today. Eventually it will happen.

Alright, pics and some stories interspersed...

Kev played at a church Sunday morning, then we packed up and hit the road Sunday afternoon. Caroline slept for the first two hours of the 5 plus hour drive. The next three hours took some work to keep her content... we changed a messy diaper on the side of the road in the dark... I showed her pics of herself on my iPod... we survived... and arrived at this cabin in the mountains to a very excited aunt and uncle and pa and eepa, cousin elliott was sleeping soundly. Here are a few pics of Caroline as we were loading up the car and getting ready to go.

While I was studying this week lots of walks and hikes were taken. Here are several beautiful shots from one hike with everyone but me.

Isn't Elliott gorgeous?!

And here is one of the sweet moments with the cousins. Caroline's first high five!

Elliott is VERY fond of trains, largely thanks to Thomas. This town closest to where we're staying has a Polar Express Train Ride. And Pa and Eepa purchased tickets for all of us to take this ride on Tuesday night. There could have been nothing more exciting for Elliott. He didn't need any special treats, just the train ride. But there were special treats. This is how I wrote it up for my mom in an e-mail. "all the kids in the train were in pj's, the people working the train were in chef's gear (like in the book). the soundtrack for the polar express was playing when we got on. they served hot chocolate and chocolate/marshmallow santas. they played a recording of the polar express story and the people working walked up and down with the pictures from the book. and then we arrived at "the north pole"- a small town all decked out in lights, saw santa through the window. then the train turned around and we passed santa's spot and he wasn't there anymore. they passed out songbooks and we were told we had to sing santa to us. so we sang christmas carols until santa arrived. elliott flipped out when everyone started singing- really upset- too loud, i think. santa entered the car at our end and greeted elliott first. elliott asked for 1 piece of chcolate for christmas. (we think he was saying "i had a chocolate santa" and santa said "oh you want chocolate?" and he said "yes" and then santa said "how much?" and he said "1" and held up one finger). And then santa gave elliott a silver bell. Santa asked if he could hold Caroline and we said "sure", but she was not amused. she's not letting anyone else hold her right now. janet would LOVE to and she's definitely warming up to janet, but still... only mommy and daddy can hold her. santa gave caroline a silver bell too. she did pretty well on the ride. i had to nurse her on and off, but she had some happy, jumpy moments."

Here some of us are, waiting for the train...

Several early on the train shots... Caroline pulverized Kev's chocolate santa and had great fun doing so. Elliott was so exciting.

Later on the train shots...

Some random shots...

Whole bunch of shots from Thanksgiving Day...

Some close ups of C...

Silly times with mommy. We read LOTS of books this week. Elliott is REALLY into books and it was exciting to him to have Caroline's bin of books to go through in addition to his own.

We spent much of the week taking turns blocking the stairs in the cabin. Whenever she saw an opening she'd scurry over to them. We'd let Caroline climb the two solid stairs to the landing but would sit on the bottom step of the tall flight of stairs which had no backing and beneath which was stone onto which she would have had a painful fall. Here are two shots of her being thwarted in her stair climbing aspirations.

Some close cousin time...

Two shots from the dinner table. Caroline did have her first bites of meat- yummy turkey. The first two she took fine. But then was less interested as shot two evidences.

And playing with Aunt Janet before bed...

And finally several from today... Caroline's first trip to a playground and first ride in a swing!

Phew... Still reading? A week from today... a week from today... the gift was finally given.

Friday, November 20, 2009

50 weeks!!!!!

Oh my goodness! 50 weeks! There will be lots of memories these next two weeks... A year ago, two days from now, Aunt Katherine arrived which meant Caroline could then come at any time as far as I was concerned, because that same day I finished my papers! Of course I hoped we'd get a nursery ready, and the house cleaned, etc. Some of that got accomplished. Good friends Rebecca, Josh, and Owen came a few days before Thanksgiving and helped tons! I have memories of food, and smells, and moments... 50 weeks. My goodness.

Anyhow... updates...

  • Caroline had her first bits of cookie this week. I made some molasses ginger snaps (adapted the recipe to be wheat free and used organic- less refined- sugar). And I let Caroline have a few bits. She LOVED them. At one point she was quite upset, got a bit of cookie and calmed RIGHT down. Uh oh. Let the sugar addiction begin. After birthday cake she'll be a goner!
  • I keep forgetting to put on here that Caroline has started passing off objects quite eagerly, or really, passing objects back and forth quite eagerly for awhile now. I know that babies do this and I wondered when she would start and she finally did a few weeks go.
  • She frequently makes vocalizes something that sounds like "What's this?" or "What's that?" Which we echo and answer.
  • She often makes a syllable starting with an "h" when greeting and starting with a "b" when waving goodbye.
  • She's up to four steps at a time now. She stands so confidently and steps so steadily. She just needs to decide she can walk.

We're gearing up for a trip to the mountains to spend a week with Pa and Abuelita and Aunt Janet and Uncle Doug and Cousin Elliott. I will be doing a lot of research while there (I hope!) Janet will likely be doing a lot of work too. Kev, Doug, Pa and Abuelita will be spending lots of quality time with Elliott and Caroline. It will be Caroline's longest car ride yet. And her first time meeting her cousin! We think she'll eat meat for the first time as well, on turkey day!

Surely there will be much more to report next week! Maybe pics later this weekend...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Pretty Dress, Playtime, and Cooking With Daddy- Pics from the 49th week

Mommy took off her pretty red suit just as soon as she got home from preaching last Sunday, but Caroline kept this dress daddy found in the closet on for most of the day. So pretty. One of the grandmothers from congregation number 1 saw us before church and said "Please tell me mommy doesn't have time for smocking!" To which I rapidly replied "No! Neither time nor ability!" Thank you to whomever sent along the lovely smocking.

Caroline was very interested in the toys. Jo An was very interested in Caroline. They spent a lot of time side by side at the toy bin.

Caroline did pay some attention to Jo An, especially when she had a particularly interesting toy in hand.

Even if that toy was just an old orange juice container.

And just a few more. Gorgeous girls...

And, I guess it was a busy week because we took all those pics Sunday... and just a few more yesterday... Caroline was on Kev's hip as he was doing some cooking and the light was so lovely I tried to capture a few. I didn't quite get it, but... nonetheless... you get the idea.

And last night... no pics, but we SO wish we had brought the camera. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and Caroline was drinking out of straw like a champ (I just taught her that yesterday morning! It took her a total of a minute to learn.) And then keeping a straw in her mouth like a cigar. Too cute. And then, shortly before we left, an adorable almost four year little girl named Ava came over to see the baby. Ava has Down's Syndrome and thus less inhibitions than some kids. And she just stood there and interacted with Caroline for almost 10 minutes. And Caroline LOVED her. She was waving and reaching out... so excited. And of course we didn't bring the camera.