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March 6, 2013 / Mettā Reiki Center

And more cookies!

I found a new recipe online that was a bit more of a traditional cookie recipe, so I gave it a try with a couple of modifications. The cookies ended up being a hit with Ali – they had a mild flavor and lots of nutrition when you figure in the ingredients – so I wanted to share the recipe!

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1/2 cup butter (one stick, softened)
1/2 cup fruit puree (I used the Sprout Banana, Cinnamon and Brown Rice in the picture)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used brown sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 egg yolks (or one egg, for babies over one year old)
2/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2/3 cup iron-enriched baby cereal (I used the Gerber Oatmeal with banana)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (in the recipe, it was listed as optional, but I did use 1 tablespoon in my cookies)
1 pinch salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 and spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cream butter, sugar, and fruit, then gradually add egg and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients, mixing after each ingredient. The dough was creamy but it yields a soft, moist cookie.
Drop dough by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes until edges are golden.
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies.

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Happy baking!

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March 5, 2013 / Mettā Reiki Center

Watching her grow!

When I was little, I remember Mom standing us up next to a door in our kitchen to measure how much we grew.  We had a “chart” on the door jamb that looked a little bit like this:

 

 

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It was so much fun to watch as we grew. I always figured we would be in that house forever – but as life will often do, things changed, we moved – and the growth chart stayed at that old house, no doubt covered with several layers of paint by now.

I wanted to find a way to keep track of Ali’s growth that we could keep with us always – even if life “happened”, it could be something we could take with us. I did a bit of searching online and found growth charts sold by places like Pottery Barn that looked a little bit like this:
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I LOVED it – it was exactly what I needed! But the pricetags started at $50 and went up to $100 or more. That part I didn’t need. So I started browsing Pinterest for ideas and came up with a brainchild.

I headed out to Home Depot and picked up a piece of wood that was about 7 feet long, about 6 (?) inches wide and an inch thick. I brought it home, and laid it out with the measuring tape to see if I could try to semi-duplicate the Pottery Barn version of the growth chart with some paint and patience. The first step was measuring out the “tic-marks” for inches and feet. I used some painter’s tape and secured the measuring tape to the board and used a pencil to make small marks where the paint would go to mark off the inches. Since I knew that the chart would hang 12 inches up from the floor, I lined the bottom of the board up with the measuring tape at the 12 inch mark.

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Of course, I had some help…

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Once I finished making the small marks, I wanted to do some flowers. My idea was to do a climbing vine of flowers with little caterpillars at the bottom and a butterfly at the top. Another idea I found on Pinterest: use the bottom of a water bottle to make flowers. You dip the bottom of an empty water bottle into some paint and dot it onto your “canvas” where you want your flowers to be. The “star” shape of the bottom of the bottle makes perfect flower petals, so all you have to do is sponge a separate color in the middle and add some green stems and leaves to make a pretty flower vine:

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Once that dried, I grabbed my “puffy paint” (black fabric paint) to mark off the “tic-marks” of my oversized ruler, making sure to make the 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 foot line markings longer so I would know where to put the numbers.

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Again, I let the paint dry (that is the most time consuming part of the project!)…and added my caterpillars…

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The best part of the project was the butterfly. It is made out of Ali’s footprints. Daddy dipped her feet into some paint and put her footprints on the top of the growth chart (right foot on the left, and vice-versa, so the footprints look like butterfly wings). A little puffy paint for the body and antennae, and we have a metamorphosis!

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My husband used some hooks in the side to tie rope onto the top so it could hang a little more securely from a hook mounted in our wall (with the alligator hooks to secure it, to be on the safe side):

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The final product was a growth chart similar to the $50-100 Pottery Barn ruler, but altogether, even with the paint, cost us less than $25. It’s a project you can get done in just a couple of days if you work on it in your spare time – the paint drying time is what takes the longest, but the time is worth it…this way, you can add your own whimsical fun to the project to make a beautiful and unique keepsake for your home!

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February 9, 2013 / Mettā Reiki Center

Daddy’s Story, Part 2: Coming Home

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Our baby girl was born the day before Thanksgiving, 2011. The procedure was an emergency caesarian (c-section) procedure. My wife had been suffering from preeclampsia and at 29 weeks the doctors told us that they needed to bring her into this world if we wanted the best chance of ensuring both Mom and Baby were to come through the birth safely. We spent another few days in the hospital as my wife recovered and the doctors brought her health issues under control and then we went home – without our daughter.
We were not ready for this. We walked into the apartment and suddenly everything felt out of place. The nursery wasn’t ready, we had 3 cats (would she be allergic?), the apartment was too small for a toddler and the neighborhood while decent wasn’t one we wanted to bring our daughter up in. The other kids in the apartment complex played in the halls until all hours of the night, how would she ever get to sleep? We had to swap bedrooms to ensure the nursery wasn’t at the front of the apartment but that also meant our bedroom was right next to all of the a/c units for the complex and they were noisy as all get out – sleep was not going to be easy for us either.
We tried to get settled into a routine – I was back to work and my wife would spend the days up at the NICU sitting beside our daughter, reading to her and talking to her. At the end of the day she would come home and we’d call the overnight nurse at least once and usually 2 or 3 times just to check on her. Physically my wife was doing better and that was a good thing. We kept saying that this might be a blessing in disguise so that she could be able to work on the nursery before bringing the baby home – trying to find the glimmer of good in this stupid situation. Everyone kept telling us how lucky we were to have each other and how lucky we were to have such a beautiful baby. When my wife went back to work, it was at the same hospital our daughter was at and at first we thought this would be great but it turned out to be just the opposite – the fact she was in the hospital and not there next to our daughter weighed her down mentally. When someone would visit the smiles would go up and the statements of we’re doing ok would come out – yes, we’re ok – Baby is doing great – yes, much appreciated, thank you. Every conversation was the same. And every conversation was an act. I will admit that we were putting on a good show for everyone. We were not ok, we were broken.
Emotionally, mentally, physically, we were broken. Neither of us could sleep without dreaming about what might go wrong at the NICU. We felt guilty for not being by her side constantly. My wife started to blame herself for the pregnancy not making it to term. She felt like she was less of a woman and failure as a mother. Night after night she cried for hours while I sat beside her and held her. She became so focused on her time at the NICU it was almost like an obsession. She would spend 16 hours a day sitting by our baby, then come home and tear herself apart because she felt she should be at the hospital. The questions she asked herself were the same night after night: What if the baby forgot her? She had not gotten that opportunity to bond with the baby right after she was born – the baby had been wisked away to the NICU – what damage would that do to their relationship? What if the nurses at the NICU didn’t like her, would they take it out on the baby? What if another parent took her when they weren’t looking? What if she stopped breathing? What if she never came home? What if she never lost the weight, would I ever be attracted to her again? How could I want to be with her after she failed so badly as a Mom and a Woman? She would lie in bed and hold her tummy and cry – her little buddy wasn’t there anymore. Night after night, question after question, worst case scenario after worst case scenario. Yes, we were broken.
And then probably the worst thing that can happen to a new mom besides having to leave your baby at the hospital while you go home happened, my wife’s milk dried up. We don’t know if it was the meds or just her body but no matter how much she pumped, the amount just kept getting smaller and smaller until she had to stop. In her mind, another failure as a mother. Then it did get worse with the visit from the vision specialist who’s assistant told us that not only were they required to force her eyes open with this contraption that had to have come from some medieval torture chamber – if we didn’t continue seeing this exact specialist after she was released from the NICU then they would call social services and have our baby taken away to someone who could care for her properly (and yes, folks, that was the quote made face to face with both of us – right there on the NICU floor beside our baby girl). Yes, we were broken.
I was scared – my wife as teetering on an edge. Every ounce of her being was telling her she was a failure as a woman and a mother and while the dedicated nurses at the NICU were great – this statement from the eye specialist had a major impact on my wife. She was scared someone was going to come and take our baby and we would never see her again. She was headed into a full blown post-partum depression and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was trying to help guide her through the process but in the end I could no more then try to make sure that she had a loving set of arms to fall into and a set of shoulders to beat on when needed. I was, at times, truly scared about what was going to happen when we would finally be able to bring Baby home. Many of the nights were spent with me telling her that we’ll get through it – the baby will come home and we’ll have the nursery done and life is going to be great. I had to be the positive force and try to keep her focused on the good side of things no matter what.
Then we got the news – Baby was ready to come home! We had the car seat at the hospital and they had done the testing and she was ready to go home. We put all of all of the plans in place and got everything ready and on the morning of the day she was coming home we got up early – probably the first night of sleep we had had in months. We showered and got things ready – the doctors would make their rounds at 9:00am so we would shoot to be there at 9:00am so right after they saw her, we could bring her home. As we are getting ready, my wife received a call from the nurse who informed us that Baby had an ‘episode’ overnight and they were now going to have to keep her in the NICU for another week! What!??? No one called us in the middle of the night to tell us anything – what happened? We rushed to the hospital – what the heck was an ‘episode’? The doctors told us that her breathing had a moment overnight where her respiratory rate dropped to a level that meant they had to continue to monitor her for another week. No one knew about this until someone was reading the print out the next day. This was every nightmare we had been having come to reality – something happened and no one was watching! My wife escalated a complaint to the charge nurse and got a one on one meeting with them to voice her concern. This was not the first time we had escalated a concern about her care but it was the hardest to take since this stopped her from coming home. After being reassured by several members of the staff that Baby was doing ok and this was very normal and they were just being extra cautious, we went home – again without Baby. Neither of us slept. We cried, we wondered what would happen next, we wondered if she would ever come home – it felt like the entire world was against us.
One week later, it was all set again – Baby was coming home. This time we were much more cautious about getting our hopes up. As we got ready that morning we watched the phone for any hint of bad news. We headed to the hospital and met with the doctors and they had nothing but good news. Baby was going home. We put her in the car seat and began to leave when the charge nurse comes out and asks us for a picture – everyone wants to see the little miracle one last time. We finished making the rounds of all the wonderful nurses that took care of her while she was there and then we are free to go – 2 months to the day from when she was born – January 23, 2012 – Baby was sprung from the NICU and we took her home! We made the drive home and when we walked through the front door of the apartment, we did so as a family for the very first time. Suddenly, we were not as broken – we were not missing a part of us. We were home. The apartment felt a little better, the children playing outside sounded a little happier, the a/c units outside the window reminded us a little of the noises she was used to in the NICU. Suddenly, life was better and we were not as broken. Baby was home and we were not as broken anymore.
Over the next few months our apartment became a learning ground for everyone. My wife slowly came out of the depression. There were good days and bad days and there was even a time where we turned to a counselor to give her an outlet to help her get through it. But she did it. Day by day, week by week, she reached down inside and found that she is a good woman and she is a good mother. She grew as a mom as our daughter grew as a baby. Every milestone for Baby is experienced by both Mom and Baby for the first time. Watching both of them light up as Baby learns something new – whether it’s something big like learning to crawl or something small like how to pick up a cheerio with her thumb and forefinger – both of them now beam ear to ear with each new item learned. We met every one of the eye doctor appointments until she was cleared. My wife launched a website to give parents of NICU children a place to find support and information. Those first few months of our daughters’ life laid the groundwork for an amazing family unit but as with any construction project, there was a lot of struggle to get the foundation right but once it was right, the overall project is a great success.
My wife wants so badly to make up for the time she feels she lost while Baby was in the NICU. I don’t know if that desire will ever pass. The main thing I hope for her now is that she finds it in her heart to forgive herself for what she sees as a failure. Having a baby early is not a failure and it certainly does not make the mother any less of a woman. If I could take away that pain and that loss I would do so. In our situation, she did nothing wrong. She wasn’t taking drugs or smoking or drinking or anything else. She watched what she ate, stayed in shape to the best she could and even played music for the baby every night. She gave our daughter a chance. 10 or 20 years ago, even at 29 weeks she would have had little to no chance of survival. Today, thanks to the great folks at the NICU and to my wife for everything she did to take care of herself and Baby while she was carrying, our 29 week old miracle not only survived but is flourishing. I hope that one day she understands just how strong she was through all of this. She handled what can only be described as possibly one of the worst things a mother could ever have to deal with better and with more dignity and grace then she will ever give herself credit for. I truly hope that our daughter grows up with the strength of a woman that her mother has. That would be a true success story.
Out little miracle is now 14 months old and she is doing amazingly well. She is walking along the edges of couches and chairs, she is feeding herself anything she can get her hands on and she has developed a definite opinion about how things should happen – mostly she feels everything should center around her but she also has no problem taking a cheerio and sharing it with someone or smiling at the waiter just to see him smile back. She still doesn’t sleep through the night but she is better than she used to be. We no longer live in the apartment as we were able to buy a house in a neighborhood that my wife always dreamed of living in when she was a little girl and we moved in just before Baby’s 1st birthday. When I look back at the last 14 months, it’s been a crazy ride but I can honestly say that at no point did I ever feel like we wouldn’t make it. We’ve both had our moments of doubt and the moments of wondering if it’s all worth it, even moments where it just felt good to slam a cabinet. But here we are, survivors of an ordeal that unless you have gone through it, it’s very hard to explain. The counselor that my wife went to even related the experience to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that some soldiers deal with when returning from war. My wife still struggles when she hears lullaby’s but they no longer force her to leave the room in tears. Christmas this year was spent with a tree and a train and presents – not a silent vigil in the NICU followed by going home without Baby. No, this year, we tucked her up on Christmas night and stood vigil while she slept like a little angel. Yeah, we’re not broken anymore – we may not be perfect, but we’re definitely not broken anymore.

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February 8, 2013 / Mettā Reiki Center

Daddy’s Story

So far, you’ve been reading Mommy’s blog posts…it’s time you heard Daddy’s side of the story.

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“A Surprise Announcement Will Free You”…

That was the message that came in the fortune cookie with my takeout Chinese on 6/5/2011 – “A Surprise Announcement Will Free You”
Let me set the stage for you. In July of 2008 my marriage of 13 years came to a screeching halt. I had 2 beautiful daughters who were the center of my whole life and all I could think about was doing whatever it would take to ensure that they were looked after and that their lives were impacted as little as possible by the choices of others. I moved into a small one bedroom apartment with what few possessions I had (a bed, a table, a chair and 2 boxes of personal items) and set about putting together a plan that would let me take back control of my life. I had a good job with good benefits but with the added cost of child support I had to take on a 2nd job so I was working from 3:00am to 8:30am at the first job and then heading to the 2nd job where I worked from 9:30am to 6:00pm. I worked this schedule Monday thru Friday and then worked the early morning job on Saturday as well. Saturday afternoons were spent sleeping and cleaning (generally in that order) and then Sunday was spent with my daughters. We got into a good routine of going to the movies and cooking at home and just generally being happy during these visits – there were lots of laughs and fun and lots of tears when the day would come to an end.

I lived this life of work and family focus for 2 ½ years – slowly whittling down my debt and putting some money aside and watching my girls grow. I never missed a school function or extracurricular activity if it was at all possible (and I was aware of it). In early 2010 the girls asked me if I was ever going to start dating again. While of course I had thought about it, my plan was to not introduce yet another adult into the situation until most likely after they had graduated and left home. They both said they understood and appreciated the thought but it was ok with them if I started dating – again, awesome kids! Over the course of a year, I went out on a few dates and realized that dating had changed A LOT since I had done it last and in all honesty, the world had gotten even crazier than I had realized. Trying to find someone who was willing to accept my situation with 2 kids that would remain in the forefront of my life turned out to be a lot harder than I had imagined it would be. In February of 2011 I met a nurse (through my early morning job actually) and we started talking and I found that her outlook on relationships was very much in line with mine. In addition we found that neither of us could have children – her due to a health issue and me due to a surgery done after my 2nd daughter had been born. (no snickering or spoilers please J ). We talked over the phone a few times and then decided to take the jump and meet in person. On March 5th of 2011 we met at a local Bakery for coffee – a nice safe neutral location where either of us could run if needed. I was so nervous when I walked through the door but when I saw her sitting in the corner it was amazing. The power in the building had gone out just before I arrived however there was one light with power still going and it was in the corner right behind the woman I was there to meet – shining down on her and bathing her in this glow that just stopped me dead in my tracks. Understand that I know I am not a bad looking guy – 6 to a 7 on the traditional 10 scale – (I like to describe myself as not the top of the barrel but not the bottom either). The woman sitting at this table was amazing. Everything she had said had been honest, there were no surprises. She was stunningly beautiful and I knew I was so far out of my league it wasn’t even funny. But, I was here and she was here and I was going to at least meet her face to face before she got that phone call from a friend who needed her help and she needed to leave. She got up from the table and met me with a hug and a smile that would make ice melt. I knew at that moment I was in deep trouble. We sat down and had one of the most comfortable, relaxed conversations I have ever had in my life. I found myself opening up and telling her about my parents and my hometown and she was talking about her love of the violin and running. By the end of the night, I was done searching for anyone else. When we walked to the cars to leave I had to resist the urge to reach out and kiss her and I could tell (at least I hoped I was reading it correctly) that the attraction was there from her end. I actually made the comment that I was fighting the urge to kiss her and she looked at me and said she wished I wouldn’t. I honestly don’t think she got the full statement out before I kissed her.

That is how it all started. Two people who had been upfront and honest with each other about what they were looking for in a partner and how they wanted to approach the rest of their lives – both individually and as a couple. We began dating and quickly became an ‘item’ that her friends talked about. My work mates started talking about how I had a spring back in my step and obviously seemed to be heading in a good direction. My daughters could tell something had changed as well but I was very careful not to introduce them to her too soon – both she and they needed to be ready. In May we finally took the plunge and went out to dinner as a group and everyone hit things off amazingly well. It was obvious that nerves were high on both sides but by the end of the night there was plenty of laughter and smiles and as I took the girls home, they told me they approved and I had done good (score!).

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So here we were, 2 adults in the early stages of what appeared to be a great relationship. Enjoying functions and movies together, taking trips together and just overall starting to live the life that we both had pretty much written off as not being something either of us would ever get to live. In May we actually started talking about moving in together (my lease ran out in August so it was a discussion topic) – I met her parents and sister and things really seemed to be headed in a great direction. In late May she mentioned not feeling quite right and said she was going to schedule a doctor appointment for her annual ‘female’ checkup. So, June 5th comes and I receive the fortune cookie notice referenced at the start of this article and I think to myself “Hmmm – life does seem to be headed in a good direction”, smile and enjoy my meal. On June 11 I am at work and I get a phone call from this woman who has just made my life worth living again and she opens the conversation with “I’m sorry to ask this but I have to know, did you really have a vasectomy done?”. I laughed and said yes – I remember that day very clear as I was at a training hospital and there were 2 students in the room with the doctor doing the procedure. They didn’t knock me out, local numbing only so I was awake through the whole thing and yes, I am confident I had the surgery done – why do you ask? Well…….turns out the reason she has not been feeling well is – wait for it – wait for it – she is pregnant! She has an ultrasound picture showing a peanut and confirmation from the doctor that she is pregnant. I don’t even have to ask – she immediately begins to assure me she has not been running around on me and I tell her that thought never even entered my mind. Both of us are smiling and nervous all at the same time. (For the record – I did go and get tested and yes, I am the one in 10,000 whose surgery did not take for life – if you know someone who has had the surgery done, make sure they still get tested every couple of years – especially if the procedure was done back in the 90’s or before when all they did was tie off the ends)

So, well done Mister Fastfood Chinese Fortune Cookie Fortune Writer – well done indeed!

We sat down and had some very serious conversations about where we were going to go with things and how to proceed. All of the conversations kept coming back to the same thing – we loved each other and if this baby was so meant to be that they could overcome the issues facing both of us in having children then the least we could do is ensure they had a family to raise them. We met with her parents and told them we were getting married and we set a date of early November to ensure there would be no interference in the wedding procedures from the pregnancy. On Nov 5, 2011 we were married in that same bakery we met at. We had a beautiful ceremony with friends and family present, my older daughters standing by my side all of us smiling and laughing.

We left for our Honeymoon and spent a few days down by the beach – it was cold at this time of the year but we both love the beach so much that it only made sense to spend the time there. During the few days we were there, there was a change in how my wife was feeling – exhaustion overtook her. We figured it was due to all of the whirl wind life decisions we had been working with over the last couple of months and just relaxed our way through a few days and then returned home. Once back home we visited the doctor and they mentioned a rise in her blood pressure that they wanted to keep a close eye on. We knew that based on her past physical issues, high blood pressure was not unexpected so we agreed to monitor it and just do our best to keep things as easy on her as possible. On Nov 20, she was at work and her pressure went through the roof – luckily she is a nurse that works in a hospital so they were able to get her to the emergency room asap and from there they sent her upstairs to the birthing unit where they admitted her for observation. I got a call from one of the other nurses letting me know what was happening and I grabbed her baby bag and headed to the hospital. For 3 days the doctors tried everything they could to bring her pressure down but nothing worked. It would come down for a few hours but as soon as the meds wore off, it was right back up. On Wednesday, November 23, 2011 – the day before Thanksgiving – the doctor told us that they had no choice, it was time for the baby to come. We talked about the baby only being 29 weeks at this point and doctor after doctor assured us that she was healthy and strong enough to handle this but if they didn’t do something now, the risk to both of them would increase rapidly and we would run the risk of losing one or possibly both of them. They wheeled my wife of 3 weeks off to a surgery room, dressed me up in scrubs and then took me back once she was on the table and stable. Once the procedure started, it seemed no more than a few minutes and they were removing our baby girl – all 2 lbs 7 oz of her – and taking her to the adjoining room. I followed them in and held her hand while they washed her and cleaned her up – she scored well on the apgar chart and everyone was relieved. I returned to my wife and told her that our baby girl was doing great and she could rest now.

The next few days were a continued whirlwind of visitors and medical staff. You could tell the doctors were nervous in the way they kept watching and reading the charts and checking on her that something was not right. Within 48 hours of our baby being born, my wife had to go through what amounted to a detox procedure as her body had failed to expel all of the items it was supposed to during the birth and the result was her blood pressure was not coming down. The procedure was a complete success and once completed she turned for the better and was on the way to a physical recovery.

So here was my situation: Our little girl was in the NICU and while everyone was telling me she was doing great, honestly she was so tiny that I struggled to believe them. My wife was recovering from the hardest physical test she had ever been through. Mentally we were both spent. I was sleeping on the couch under the window in the hospital room and splitting time between my wife and the NICU. I was on the phone with the insurance groups confirming that yes – we had just been married a few days ago and yes, our daughter was born early. I was trying to limit the number of visitors to ensure my wife got the rest she needed. I was in cruise control and honestly, I was scared. I didn’t get very many moments to breath and when I did, emotionally I just wanted to break down and cry or hit something or both. I had so many questions running through my head but none that could be answered. I had to make sure that I was strong for my wife and my daughter – after all I was the one who wasn’t sitting in a bed with wires and tubes sticking out (or in or down) me. I was questioning the choices I had made and the impact those choices were now having on 2 innocent lives. I’ve never been a very religious person as my personal experiences with the Church have not always been favorable and here I was again questioning why the folks that I love and care most about were the ones being hurt. Simply put, lots and lots of questions were running through my head and there were simply no answers.

Then it happened, my wife got clearance from the doctors to leave her room and visit the NICU. She had only seen pictures of our little miracle to this point and here we were finally wheeling her down the hallway to enter the NICU for the first time to see our baby girl. This was something that I was so looking forward to – watching the two of them together for the first time. I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her but she could reach in the side of the unit and hold her hand – in my mind it was going to be magical. And it was! The look on my wife’s face was amazing when she saw our daughter. She cried and she smiled and talked to her and I swear our daughter immediately responded to her voice and her touch. This was the moment I needed. In that moment, I found all of the strength that I would ever need to be the man they needed me to be. No matter what it took, I was going to be the best husband and father that I possibly could because these two amazing beings deserved that. I was no longer scared – cautious yes, scared no. I no longer questioned why things had happened the way they did – it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were here. We had a long road to go and many obstacles to face but we were here and that was enough to make to me smile.

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So that covers the first part of our story from my perspective. To say it was a rapid string of life changing events would be a dramatic understatement. Looking back I’m not sure how we got through those first 9 months the way we did. My head was on a swivel at all times – trying to anticipate where the next test was going to come from. When the dust finally settled, we were married and our baby girl was healthy – she was in the NICU but she was healthy. I had to believe that by focusing on one step at a time, we were going to be able to get through this.

January 5, 2013 / Mettā Reiki Center

Cheerios

Ali and I had a great day last week. We started out with breakfast, which ended up all over both of us. After which, Ali decided it was time for mischief.

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Then it was off to the bakery. It was Gramma’s birthday, so we went to Nona’s Sweets where you can pick your own toppings. We sampled snickerdoodle cupcakes, then Ali taste tested frosting to see which would work best. In the end, chocolate buttercream and cream cheese frosting won out. I preferred the latte flavored frosting, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let someone dare give this already super-active child anything CLOSE to coffee.

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After Nona’s Sweets, it was off to Gramma and Grampa’s house to deliver the cupcakes. On the way, we made a pit stop to change the oil in the car. I was a little nervous about running this errand with the baby in tow, but luckily it fell right during a naptime so the guys in the shop were able to “ooh” and “ahh” over the “cute kiddo”. And get my car done in less than 10 minutes.

Gramma and Grampa’s house is quite an adventure for Ali. For one thing, everything that she doesn’t see on a daily basis is new to her at this age. Plus, she has the undivided attention of adoring grandparents. And grandparents have neat things all around the house for her to explore – like picture frames, flat screen TV’s, mobile phone chargers, deer statues, coasters, and so on. Visiting other people’s homes reminds me how completely babyproofed our house is – we’ve eliminated so much furnishing in our living room that there is a pronounced echo from the telly. *sigh*

Once Ali felt she was adequately spoiled and ready for her nap (after having her lunch and God only knows how many cookies from Grampa), we settled back into the car and headed home. After dinner, Ali crawled up to me and patted my leg, as she usually does when she wants to be held (which usually is for about 5 seconds, then she wants down again). So I picked her up and plopped her on my lap.

She reached onto the end table toward her box of snacks that I keep filled with Cheerios, so I figured it was time for dessert. I got a few Cheerios out and held them out in my hand, figuring that she’d use that adorable little finger/thumb thing she does to cram 2 or 3 in her mouth. She picked one up with her sticky little paw and worked it around her hand for a few moments, then looked up at me with a huge grin.

She wanted to share her Cheerios with me.

It doesn’t sound like much of a big deal, I guess. But in my world it was huge. You see, to me, children this age are innocents. If they trust you, by God you’ve earned it. But to have a 13 month old want to share something with you…I was floored. As silly as it sounds, it was an honor that she wanted to give something to me. So, to her great delight, I devoured the little sticky, fuzz-laden Multi-Grain Cheerio with gusto, chewed it heartily using my “nom nom nom” noise while she squealed with laughter. I quickly grabbed a green fruit Cheerio (her favorite) and she opened her mouth like a little bird. This went on for probably 15 minutes before the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme interrupted our little exchange.

I figured this was a one-time fun thing that I would have to tuck away in the memory books to remember when Ali grew up. But much to my surprise, the next night, same bat time, same bat channel, she was back there again, patting on my leg, reaching for the Cheerio box, and ready to make sure Mommy had her multi-grain dessert. I was FLOORED. When my husband saw this exchange, it was the first time I heard him describe something as being “precious”.

And indeed it was.

Being a parent teaches you a lot of interesting lessons that you never would have thought of if you did not have children. This lesson being that there is not a delicacy in this world as wonderful as a sticky Cheerio being given to you by your 13 month old daughter.

Life is good.

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December 24, 2012 / Mettā Reiki Center

12 Days Of Christmas

For the 12 days of Christmas, my toddler gave to meeeee…

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12 MumMum biscuits…

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11 rattles rattling…

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10 cups ‘a sipping…

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9 teddies snuggling…

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8 bottles leaking…

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7 sticky pacis…

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6 soggy cookies…

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5 teething riiiiiiiings….

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4 missing socks…

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3 building blocks…

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2 stomach bugs…

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And a very full diaper genie!!!!

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Merry Christmas!!!!!

December 20, 2012 / Mettā Reiki Center

Good Mommies

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I joke about the “Mommy-Olympics”, and all of these things that make a perfect Mom. I think society has twisted motherhood, or the idea of it anyway, into something unreachable. If you pay any attention, it can knock you down hard. Last night a conversation with my husband had me thinking hard about what the world thinks – and what I think – makes a good mom.

I thought about that Time Magazine cover.

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When it first came out, it was like a kick in the gut to me. I’ve never been skinny. Ever. I’m a thick German girl, and although I am very active, the baby weight is coming off much slower than I’d hoped – no skinny pants for me.

And I can’t breast feed. Not that I “won’t” or “didn’t want to”. I couldn’t. I was so sick during and immediately after my pregnancy that even pumping every 2 hours – day and night – I was lucky to get 2 ounces a day. I’ll never forget that awful day when the doctors and lactation specialists told me there wasn’t any hope in breast feeding for me. I fell to my knees in that exam room and sobbed. My baby was in a NICU, on a breathing machine, and I couldn’t even give her the nourishment she desperately needed. I felt like I had failed the Mommy test before I even had a chance to bring her home.

Society’s “good mommies” have little girls in chevron-patterned dresses with monogrammed letters and perfect pigtails, and little boys in Gap khakis and polo shirts that never get baby food in their hair. Their homes are spotless with floors polished to a mirror shine. Their makeup is flawless; their legs and derrière perfectly sculpted and toned since they work out tirelessly while baby is napping or dinner is baking. Their brand new SUV is adorned with private school and soccer club or dance stickers; the inside of the SUV is perfectly organized with healthy snack bins and educational DVDs that play on flat screens installed on the back of Mom’s and Dad’s headrest so the kids stay obediently quiet on road trips. “Good Mommies” have endless supplies of breast milk that they can provide in a Batman-like stealth technique (lest they offend someone who has never seen a tata before). They have hand sanitizer on every bag and designer covers for grocery carts so their kid’s skin isn’t exposed to horrible grocery store germs. Their shoes have three inch heels, hands and feet are manicured, and hair perfectly tousled in a Taylor Swift up-do.

It’s exhausting to think about, and an awful lot of time spent on making sure people think you’re a good Mommy. It made me wonder…whose opinion really matters?

Three guesses on whose opinion matters to me – and the first two won’t count.

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Yup. It’s these two 🙂 …

During my conversation with my husband we talked about what we thought made a good Mom. I learned that I’m actually doing pretty well with what matters.

My house isn’t spotless, but it’s safe and a fun place for baby to grow and learn. The floors are sticky but its usually the result of a REALLY fun afternoon. I can’t make breastmilk, but I’m trying my best to make good homemade food. I’m not skinny, but I’m fit, and strong enough to play with my daughter and teach her an active and healthy lifestyle. I do my best to protect her from germs but I do not want my child to be afraid to get messy. If she catches a cold, we’ll help get her better.

I still love working out, wearing makeup, and the occasional pedicure when time and finances permit. But those things I do for me, not because I give a damn what people think.

To the mommies out there like me, with graying hair, blue jeans or sweats instead of skinny jeans, running shoes instead of heels, sedans instead of SUV’s, Ramones stickers on their cars instead of private school stickers – who prefer to spend their time in the park, library or kitchen goofing off with your kids instead of at the spa, who may not be able to do the Batman-breast feeding and may slip from time to time and allow their kid a (GASP!!!) French fry…

…smile, relax, and know for certain that by taking time to have FUN being a Mom and being there for your child in every way you are able – to hell with what Time magazine thinks – you are more than “Mom enough”.

You are amazing.