Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We love Christmas!

Christmastime is here! (cue Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack)
Everyone said that Christmas with a toddler would be fun and it is true!! The first thing Noah asks for every morning is to turn the lights on the Christmas tree and he loves Christmas music. Yup, he's my kid alright. :) The first time we read a Christmas book his response when I read, "Merry Christmas!" was "woo-hoo!" (I promise I did not prompt him at all! :)
I have been reading so much about Christmas being so commercial and overdone and all the activities associated adding so much stress to your life. Number 1, it only becomes those things if you let it. And Number 2, I WANT my kid to remember Christmas as a big deal, to have memories and traditions as far back as he can remember. Maybe some big, over the top, and unnecessary things that mean lots of work for mommy, but you know what, it is worth it. (I love this post from one of my favorite blogs.) I believe that God is a fan of celebration and traditions and memories, for OUR benefit. Read Leviticus. And I believe those are some of the most powerful tools to use with our children to teach them about God.
If you know me, you know it has been Christmastime around here far before this week. I listen to Christmas music pretty much all year, and starting on Halloween it all comes out. The tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving (and stays up until I feel like taking it down or my husband makes me :). And I loooooove the Advent season and Advent calendars and all that good stuff. However, I know my kid and I know he would not be able to handle an advent calendar where he only got to open one door a day and wait for the rest, so I decided to do a "Christmas box." I put a card with a picture of a Christmas-y activity on it each day, along with a magnetic piece or a finger puppet of a character in the Christmas story. One of his favorite parts is when Mary and Joseph discover there is no room in the inn. He ran around all day yelling "Room, no room!" You never know what they will pick up on!Some of his favorite activities have been:

putting up a little tree in his roomThis is definitely the favorite. We have undecorated and redecorated that tree many times this month! (It was the tree I had in my room growing up!) For a few days he carried around one ornament of each color pretty much everywhere. Lucy likes to steal them off the tree and ends up knocking the tree over, to which Noah says, "Uh-oh! No, meow-meow!" (But of course then he knocks it over himself and thinks its funny...toddlers. :)

making Christmas play-dough
some Christmas art projects
pretending to be a shepherd and finding baby Jesus hidden around the roomThis was such a hit because I let him carry around a big stick. Boys and sticks...

So I know this post is cutting it close, but does anyone have any toddler Christmas ideas to share? Please pass them on if you do!!

Happy Christmas-ing!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Noah's Very Happy 2nd Birthday!

We have a two year old here!! And so much to celebrate! At his two year old check up our doctor said, "look at him; I can't believe he is a 28 weeker." (For the record, he is barely on the charts for weight and smack dab in the middle for height.) And two is the magic number where they stop adjusting his age. He's just two. (Although I think it will probably take a little longer for my brain. When people ask when his birthday is my first thought is often March instead of December.)
We woke him up on his birthday with special birthday balloons and he LOVED it. He carried those balloons around everywhere for the rest of the day.Then we had birthday pancakes and opened presents and played and had a fun family day. (We also got pictures taken, but Mommy enjoyed that more than Noah...)
On Saturday we had a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" birthday party!Noah excelled at all things birthday party.
Opening and playing with presents:

(Grandmas and Grandpas sure give good presents! He loves them all.)

Blowing out his birthday candle:
Eating the birthday cupcake (well, at least the frosting):
He was sooo excited to have TWO grandpas and TWO grandmas there! (He is spoiled, I mean loved, just a little bit. :)

We love our two year old!! Happy Birthday, Noah!

And thank you to all of you who have loved and prayed and celebrated with us these two years!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Miracle Buddies

Found this unfinished post that definitely deserves to be finished. I'll skip the "I'm so behind on blogging" speech and simply point out that these pictures are from August. We'll just say I was saving them for Prematurity Awareness Month. . .
Because one of the highlights of our summer was a trip to Fargo. Yes; its true. Because it wasn't for anything medically related, it was to see Noah's best NICU buddy Stella and her family!! We hadn't gotten to see each other since she went home from the NICU and it was soooooo awesome to get to spend some time with them. We went to a park and watched these two play and interact and run all over that started out their lives in isollettes with oxygen and PICC lines and more than I care to think about. Such big miracles and so much cuteness crammed into two little people! (If you followed us on CaringBridge, this is the Stella that we mentioned a few times. The one that was 12 ounces when she was born. No, that's not a typo; the girl was 12 ounces. And now she is a happy healthy toddler.)
It doesn't get much cuter than this:

This is the "before" picture:
And this is why we love the NICU:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

World Prematurity Day

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day! I have my purple on! (That is the official color for prematurity awareness, I guess because it is the March of Dimes logo color.) And I have to post about something! I wrote out our story last year, which was actually extremely therapeutic for me, so I'll go a different route this year. (I have a couple ideas bouncing around in my head, we'll see what ends up on the page...)
Guess what? I am including a picture. :) For a long time I skipped over this one when it came to printing or posting pictures, because it has a big ol' ventilator screen and a nurses head taking up most of the picture. But you know what? That is the NICU. That is what it was like the first time I held my baby: dependent on equipment and highly trained professionals. And then I realized something else about this picture that I can't believe I didn't notice before: Noah is looking up at me (or at least trying to). Even with equipment and a little body that isn't supposed to have to be working on its own yet and a mommy who wishes her body would have worked how it was supposed to and everything else that comes with prematurity, there is that love and bond between mother and child that nothing can take away. (Now I cry pretty much every time I look at it.)

As for the whole idea of awareness... I am aware of prematurity every day. Every time I look at Noah and realize there is nothing about him that shows that he was a preemie. Every time I see that teeny tiny diaper that was too big for him that I have framed to remind us how far he has come, and that teeny tiny hat that doesn't even fit his stuffed animals. Every time I see the scars on his hands and feet from being poked and prodded. Every time I feel myself getting frustrated at some toddler antics and then think, "get over it; he is alive to do those antics." Every time I am overwhelmed with how much I love this little person and how much better he makes my life.
There are two things that always comes to my mind when I think of "raising awareness" about prematurity. One is that prematurity can affect anyone. Chances are you know someone besides me that has been affected my it. And chances are they didn't do anything that caused it. Prematurity isn't picky. Healthy people making good choices are affected by it. It stinks, but that's the way it is. The other thing that I always think about is what I think every pregnant woman needs to truly get in her head, and that is to go to all of your prenatal appointments and if something feels off to you, go get it checked. Even if your friend says that's how they felt and everything turned out fine, if something feels off to you GO TO THE DOCTOR. "Better safe than sorry" is a true statement, just ask my son. Okay, I'm done.
Today is the first worldwide prematurity day, which is kind of cool. The worldwide idea brings a couple other things to mind. One is how many countries do not have state of the art level 3 NICU's to save those precious lives. Unfortunately prematurity doesn't take that into account either. On the more self-centered side, I think about how Noah and I could have been affected by that fact. For awhile we had our sights set on going overseas for missions, and although I am really not a fan of the "what if" game, it hasn't escaped my thinking that if we had gone that route and ended up in some remote village or less developed country and a pregnancy had gone how it did, I probably wouldn't be alive right now.
I am so thankful for our little boy and our little family and every day we have together. Prematurity isn't how we wanted to start our family's story, but it will always be an important part of that story. And so I will keep wearing purple on November 17 and sharing our story.
"We need to fight because babies shouldn't have to."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I have my reasons

I am fully aware that I am slightly obsessive in the picture taking department. I am happy to be the crazy mom with a camera. I pretty much have my son brainwashed already, who says "cheese!" whenever he sees a camera, and even my hubby is coming around and not minding so much when I stick a camera in his face. :)
I have my reasons. Pictures are memories, and memories are very important to me. (Although I know and sometimes have to remind myself that you also need to put down the camera and be part of the memories in the first place.) Often when I look at a picture I remember taking the picture and so what the picture is of is a stronger memory. Make sense? It does in my world.
I have lots of uses for them too. My husband has told me that I can't plaster our faces all over the walls, but there's no better decoration to me than a picture of my family. (Maybe if I do it slowly he won't really notice... love you, honey! :) Noah loves to look at pictures of us and grandpas and grandmas and things we have done. I like making "books" out of them.
Another thing that I love is getting to give pictures to kids at church or camp or things like that. Especially those who don't have that many photographs. I handed some out at the end of VBS this year and loved seeing the reactions. The younger ones ran around carrying them and showing them to anyone who would look shouting "it's me!"
Today I had some to give to our Sunday School kids from various things over the past couple months. One of them looked through them and said, "these are good memories that I will keep forever." This is an 8 year old boy who has two sisters that walk to church every week on their own, live with their grandma and whoever else happens to be crashing at the house (last I heard it was 8, which meant the kids lost their bedroom) because their dad is in jail and their mom is who knows where and shows up every once in a while. Those kids deserve as many good memories as they can get.
And those are my reasons. Let the memory capturing continue.

Friday, October 14, 2011

22 months old--2 away from 2!

I don't know if anyone actually checks this regularly, but I apologize for the lack of posting if you do! Life has been pretty crazy lately, and blogging just didn't make it high enough on the to-do list. (Which is a bummer, because I do enjoy it...)
Anyway, it is time for another Noah update! 22 months old!! (That is almost two. A book I was reading pointed out that is half way to four. For some reason thinking about it that way made me cry...)
-We haven't been to the doctor in so long I don't know how much he officially weighs, but by our measurements on our growth chart he is up to 32 inches tall. A few people have commented he is tall in the past couple days.
-He definitely doesn't look like a baby at all any more! And over the past few months he has gone from looking less like a toddler and more like a little boy.
-I didn't sit down and count how many words he uses before I started writing this, but it is getting up there. He still uses lots of signs too and rarely gets frustrated from not being able to communicate. One of the many huge blessing of being a stay at home mom is that I know what pretty much every little gesture and inflection means because we spend so much time together. -His most used words are "daddy" and "mama" (seriously, we are talking hundreds of times a day here) and he loves to say his name now: "O-ah". (He can say the n sound in "no" but his name is always "o-ah." Why is that? :)
-Answers questions very enthusiastically with "yeeeaaah!" or "yup! yup! yup!" It is ridiculously cute. (Or "no" and "nope" of course.)
-He is learning colors and calls pretty much everything "boo." But he usually finds blue, orange, and yellow correctly if you ask him.
-Counts to two.
-Asks to hold pretty much everything, including but not limited to: bugs, any animal, airplanes, the moon, and babies. :)
-Says (signs, actually) "please" and "thank you", often without being asked. He is actually learning things I am teaching; hooray!
-Still loves cars, actually any vehicle, and his new favorite thing is tools. He loves to have the coffee table tipped over and "fix" it with his tools. It holds the record for the activity he has done the longest. :)
-Still loves to snuggle.
-Still loves to play as crazy and fast as possible.
-Loves it when we pray and says "aaaaaa-men."
-Claps and says "yay!" whenever a song is done, especially when it is daddy playing guitar.
-Loves to "help" with whatever we are doing.
I love my 22 month old!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Overdue camp post

August has been a CRAZY month for us, and it is going to finish out that way too. The first few weeks were camp and VBS and the next few are finishing up our new house and moving over. All good things, but I don't remember the last time we had this much on our schedule.
Thus the lack of blogging. But Camp and VBS are two of our favoritest things, so I have to share some tidbits and pictures. :) I'll start off with camp. It was a great week with 55 campers from the Red Lake reservation. This was my eighth year of helping...I am getting old. Some kids I had as campers my first few years are now teenagers and coming back as "leaders in training." Pretty awesome. There is always so much that happens spiritually during those few days and it is so exciting yet it is also always so hard for me knowing that most of those kids go back to little to no support and encouragement spiritually and just plain bad situations. Pray for them.
Here are some of my favorite pictures and reminders:

These kids touch and break my heart in a way nothing else does.
Noah likes to be the center of attention. ( Particularly girls' attention. Oh boy...)
My role at camp has changed a lot since becoming a mom, but I wouldn't change it for anything.
Noah loves to swim.
My husband rocks.Besides doing things like taking Noah down the giant slip 'n slide (which he liked, despite the look on his face in this picture), he handled so many big and little things that came up throughout the whole week, shared a message with the whole camp each morning, and did most of the training for the LIT's. Yes, he rocks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

M.O.B. Blog Hop

This is kind of a different post, although it does have to do with Noah. :) One of my favorite blogs, the M.O.B. (Moms of Boys) Society is having a blog hop today so I am joining in the fun.

About Me. . .
I am married to my very best friend and we have one precious boy who is 19 months old, Noah. He is our miracle baby and made a rough entrance into the world 3 months early weighing under 2 pounds. (You can read the long version here and here if you are interested.) You would never guess that by looking at him today and I cannot express how thankful to God I am to have him. Hence the whole "embracing the ordinary" thing, as that adventure brought us enough excitement for awhile. And it is a pretty good way to look at life. :)I started this blog to replace the CaringBridge site that we had for Noah while he was in the NICU. So it is a lot of updates about him, with a good dose of prematurity awareness thrown in there, and whatever else is on my mind. :)

We are missionaries on a Native American reservation in MN. It is really hard and really good. There is so much need and so much potential. God is on the move in these people and it is an honor to be a small part of it. My awesome hubby is the Student Life Director at a small discipleship school and we lead the children's ministry at our church.
I am so thankful that my main role is mom to our boy! The whole cliche that it is harder and better than you ever thought it would be to be a stay at home mom is definitely true. But I can't think of anything more worthwhile or anything I would rather be doing.

I hear lots of moms talk about how they were nervous about having a boy because of the whole "I'm not a boy" factor. And although I get that, I was thrilled to find out we were having a boy. I am not a girly-girl and never will be, and so honestly the thought of having a girl was probably more nerve wracking for me (don't get me wrong, I'm sure daughters are wonderful too :). The world is severely lacking in godly men and I hope and pray that I can help Noah grow into one. I see so much potential and promise when I look at my little boy. It is so humbling and so joyful and I love being his mom.

Books. . .
Here are Noah's current favorites for books:1. Baby's First Bible. This was given to us by my aunt and has been through a few cousins already. He loves the pages with Jesus calming the storm (he asks for the book by blowing like the wind) and Zaccheus up in the tree. There are animals on every page that he loves to find to.
2. God's Love. Picked this one up at a thrift store. Besides a great message, it is fun because the pages have cutouts or clear sections to see through to other pages. Noah is currently obsessed with a tiny owl on the last page. Why he picked that, I have no idea. Then I started to sing an owl song with it and his love increased even more. Seriously, we look at that little owl many times a day. Please tell me he is not the only one who does that kind of thing. :)
3. 1990 edition of Readers Digest North American Birds. This one was Daddy's idea and yes, it is currently near the top of my 19 month old's favorites list. You guessed it, because there are owls in it. He definitely knows which are owls and which aren't. I have a budding scientist on my hands. I sometimes have to take this one away so he will move on to something else.
4. Cookies. We always have to read this one at least twice in a row. He loves the page where the cookies are being put in the oven and likes to point to all the chocolate chip ones.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

19 months

Another month, another excuse to write cute things about my kid. :) He is growing and learning so fast! It's fun. There is not a baby in the house any longer; there is a little person who understands most of what I say, communicates most of what he wants, is always watching and learning, has definite opinions about things, and is extremely curious and moblie. Oh, and fast and smart. Never a dull moment. :)
Noah at 19 months. . .
-Uses over 40 signs now. I actually quit teaching him because I want him to rely more on speaking, but he still makes up his own signs once in a while. And he still loves the Signing Time DVD's. My new favorite sign: "I love you." :)
-Can tell you what a dog, cat, cow, sheep, fish, monkey, and elephant say.
-Says "amen" every time we pray. Today he and Corey prayed and started lunch and I cam a few minutes later and he looked at me and said "amen" and closed his eyes. What a good little reminder I have.
-Loves it when you jump out from behind something and yell "boo!"
-Has all his molars and is finally getting that fourth bottom tooth in the front. Now I hope we get a break from teething.
-Is very good at brushing his teeth.
-Likes to "read" anything that has words on it. It is adorable.
-Almost always sings along with songs at church.
-Still loves playing with the kitty and now tries to pick her up.
-Says "cheese!" (his version of it anyway) for the camera.
-Is a little engineer. His latest feat: prying up kitchen floor tiles with a butter knife.
-Loves to ride on the lawnmower with Daddy.
-Likes to use the Swiffer vacuum all by himself.
-Is starting to get to the "I want to do it myself" stage.
-Loves it the most when Mommy and Daddy are both home and playing with him. So do I.
--I love my 19 month old!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One and a half!

We have reached the "and a half" stage of life! Our little boy is one and a half; can you believe it?Here is an update on our busy boy. At 18 months Noah:

  • Weighs 21 pounds and is 30 inches long (that's in the 1st and 3rd percentiles, thank you very much!)

  • Uses 35 signs and 10 words. He really is able to communicate quite a bit and rarely gets frustrated.

  • The first word that he used consistently was "bible."

  • Is obesessed with cars. Not toy cars, real cars. Grandpa started it all and is very happy about this.

  • Loves keys and tries to put them in doors and ignitions. (nobody taught him this intentionally, mind you)

  • Can find his feet/toes, belly button, hands, ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. His belly button is his favorite. He also likes to lift up other people's shirts to find theirs...wonder how long that will be cute?

  • Walks very quickly like a pro and kind of runs

  • Is getting pretty good at using a cup and spoon, although it is still a messy undertaking

  • Can point to animals, balls, etc in books

  • Does the actions to "If You're Happy And You Know It" and some to "Skidamarink" and "Wheels on the Bus"

  • Sings "nananana" with songs that have it in them

  • Has a fake laugh that he does whenever anyone else laughs

  • Claps for himself whenever you say "good job" (or if he thinks you should)

  • Loves running around and playing with the kids at church

  • Loves playing outside and in the dirt

  • Can throw and kick a ball

  • Likes to turn things upside down and look for batteries, latches, etc.

  • Eats just about everything. His very favorites are fruit, cheese, and noodles. He also likes raw vegtables and parmesan cheese (not the sawdust kind from a shaker, the real hard cheese kind that tastes super strong by itself)

This is turning into a very long list because he is learning things so quickly and has quite the personality! He is one smart cookie and is all boy. He keeps us busy, entertained, and thankful every day.

  • I love my one and a half year old!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Library Dilemma

Today I took Noah to the library for the first time! It was a good adventure.
He thought the big rug was pretty cool. He pulled books off the shelves and looked at them for a few seconds.
He liked that they have chairs just the right size!

He thought rocking in this one was fun.

And in true Noah style he then had to attempt to pick it up and carry it around. (while grunting, of course)

I'd say it was a pretty successful first trip. So here's my dilemma: is it just the NICU mom in me, or are library books kind of gross? I don't know where those books have been. Maybe the last reader was a snotty nosed kid infected with RSV. And those board books that looked like they have been chewed on, who did the chewing?

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the whole concept of a library, and it is a fun place to bring a kid, but my unsanitary alarm is going off. Oh the things you think of when you become a mom.

So be honest, am I crazy?

Friday, June 3, 2011

WIC+EIC+MOPS+poverty=Child Survival Programs (=AWESOME)

A lot of my favorite blogs have been participating in the Compassion International bloggers trip to the Philippines. If you have a few minutes (or more), it is very much worth your time to check it out. You might want to have some Kleenex handy too. This post is one of my favorites. And this one. Oh, and this one. They are just all amazing.
One thing that I learned from it is that Compassion has Child Survival Programs that focus on babies in utero up to age 3. They provide things like prenatal care, vaccinations, and nutritious food. And more than that, education on newborn care and child development, opportunites and materials for moms to play with their kids, and spiritual encouragement and teaching from a community of believers. How awesome is that?! It's like WIC and EIC and MOPS and more all wrapped into one amazingly needed package!
Check out this post about a program in the Philippines. She talks about how by far one of the most frequent prayer requests they heard while there was "I just want my child to be healthy." Of course we ask that same request here in the States when someone is expecting, but it is it really on the same level? We know that if we have a question or something goes wrong there are well trained doctors and nurses, an ambulance if needed, and even Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Not so in many places, where the prayer for a healthy baby is driven by an all consuming and very justified fear of losing that baby.
In some ways it is not comparable at all, but I know what it is like to cry out from the deepest part of myself for the life of my child. And that is with some of the most well-trained staff in the country attending to him 24 hours a day. I cannot even imagine what it is like for these mothers.
There are horrifying statistics like the fact 24,000 children under 5 die each day from preventable causes, most within the first few days of life. But do you know what gets me even more? That in some countries parents do not name their children until they are 5. Because it is easier that way if they die, which there is a good chance they will. And that it is common for babies to be given little face to face interaction and physical affection because: 1, their families are too busy trying just to survive; 2, they have never been told that babies need it; and 3, it makes it easier to say good-bye if they don't make it. That truly breaks my heart.
I am so excited to learn about these Child Survival Programs. And that you can sponser a Child Survival Center in the same way that you can sponser a child through Compassion International. Going to have to find room in the budget for this one.
(I know this post is more link filled than usual, but seriously at least check out this one:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why didn't anyone tell me?

Why didn't anyone tell me that there are two easy steps to follow that equal my son's happiness?

Step 1: Take him outside.

Step 2: Give him a stick or a rock.

So why do I ever buy toys anyway?

Needless to say, we've been spending a lot of time outside!