Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snow is beautiful...when it melts

OK, those of you who have an astute eye caught me. The photo above is from 2005 when we first moved to Nebraska. However, I have to say, winter and weather haven't changed very much. There are still 4 seasons in Nebraska: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.

The pictures below are legit, and from this afternoon. It has been an absolutely beautiful end to January reaching a wonderful 55 degrees (when I last checked). Man I love warm fronts. All day I have noticed the change in town. Car wash lines are blocking traffic, stores are crowded, and smiles abound. I am so flipping tired of snow that the thaw has me in an unusually bubbly mood, AND Alyssa and Logan are on their way.

For those of you in the south that rarely see snow, you may be wondering why I don't think snow is "pretty". I know, I've talked to you snow junkies who crave the once in a decade "big" snow. You say it covers the ground and looks like a winter wonderland. Well, you're right...for about an hour, or until the snow plows come. That's when the fun really begins. Also, unlike us, you get to stay home from school and work. No fair.

First its up at 4 a.m. for shoveling so that you're done in time to get ready for work or school. This is why I'm glad God blessed me with a husband and two strapping boys. If you're lucky the snow is deep enough to blow, if you're not, it's too shallow for snow blowers but to deep to leave on the driveway. Of course as soon as you finish shoveling the plow comes through and piles all of the street snow at the end of your driveway forming a mole hill of heavy, wet, icy, slush, and you get to shovel all over again.

Next it's the slippery, freezing commute. I hate wearing a coat, and I can't wear one while I drive, so this is the worst. In addition, I know a lot of people that say "I'm used to driving in it" and end up in a ditch because the were driving to fast. It's really bad if it's still snowing, because the visibility is as bad as the road.

Now after the roads are clear, the mixture of snow, road grime, salt, and sand mix to make brown, slushy snow everywhere (especially on the side of the road) and let me tell you, it ain't no winter wonderland. You get out of your car, oops it's all over your shoes and pants. You walk into your foyer, and your floor has turned from eggshell white, to tobacco brown. Don't even think about how nice it would be to have a clean and shiny car. No matter what color it was originally, your car is now salty grey, and will remain that way until the temperature rises above 32. You touch the door handle or open the trunk, and it is like running your fingernails down a chalkboard. Remember those?

Last is the thaw, and the brown slush turns into muddy waters. Muddy water runs down the side of the road, and stands on any level, or nearly level surface. Don't even think about walking through the grass right now, you will sink knee deep. However, with the thaw comes the opening of car washes throughout the city, and if you plan wisely, and sit long enough, you may have a clean and shiny car for at least a few days.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

For Melissa

Before the bottle. Notice his thin arms and face.

I've been meaning to write this for about a week, but with the new job, I just haven't found the time. I'm writing this post for Melissa so she can see how well she does her job.

Melissa is my cousin, and we grew up more like sisters than cousins. I love her dearly, and I hate that we are so far away from each other. Melissa is also a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and one thing (among many) that neonates have problems with is feeding. So, when it comes to feeding difficulties, Melissa is an extremely qualified resource. Many times in health care we sacrifice our time and energy for people that we don't know, and sometimes we never see them again. But sometimes, all of that knowledge can pay off in a big way for the ones we love. That's why I'm so thankful for Melissa.

As some of you may remember, Logan was having some pretty significant feeding difficulties. When he was born, he refused to nurse, and it took Alyssa a lot of work and patience to get him to a point where he was nursing well. After Logan's foot surgery, he started having problems again. He would nurse for a few minutes, then arch his back screaming like he was in pain. Alyssa was tired, frustrated, and upset, but to her credit she was persistent. She knew how important breastfeeding was, so she continued to work with him.

At this point many of you might say "Why didn't she just give him a bottle?" Well, she tried, and he would not take it. She tried pumping and bottle feeding him, and she tried formula, but he would not take the milk. He would take the nipple but as soon as the milk hit his tongue, he'd start a screamfest. His Dr. started him on some medication for reflux, and it helped some, but still he wasn't feeding optimally.

Fast forward to Tuscaloosa, and to condense a very long story, I had been talking to Alyssa about Logan's feedings, and we were both concerned, so I thought Melissa might be able to help. On Saturday night, Melissa took him and tried to feed him a bottle of formula to no avail. The next night, she had Alyssa bring him out to the hospital while she was at work. She weighed him, and then gave Alyssa several formulas to try. She hit the jackpot with a thickened formula that he kept down better than the thinner ones Alyssa had tried.

We had a little (OK huge) fight with Logan to get him to take the bottle, but once he figured out how good it made him feel, he ate like a pro. Alyssa still has to use a special bottle shaped like a boob to get him to eat. However, Logan is growing, and happy, so it's worth it.

Well that's an extremely long story cut short, but I just wanted to post it to thank Melissa for everything she's done. As a caveat, I must emphasize that breastfeeding is absolutely the best way to feed your new baby, and Alyssa worked really hard to do this, but Logan had special needs that made it difficult. I am very proud of her for her patience, and I don't know how many 20 year old, first time moms would have worked at it so diligently. She did not fail, and she did what she needed to to take care of Logan.

Below are some pictures of Logan after he started taking the bottle. Notice the new chubby cheeks. He used to be very fussy, but now he's content and happy. But do you know what the best bonus is...he came to Grandma's and spent two nights with us while his mom was having some job interviews. You know what, I didn't mind those 4 a.m. feedings one bit.

Alyssa and Melissa are both very relieved that Logan's eating.

Only 6 days after the bottle. Notice the chubby cheeks.

12 days after the bottle.

3 weeks later, and still growing.

Logan loves his Grandpa.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Al

Happy birthday Al. Normally I don't have a problem writing about how I feel, but this one is a little harder. I can be quite introspective and mushy when it comes to my kids, but it is much more difficult for me to express the feelings I have about Al. Al is my true love. I can honestly say that from the first time I saw him it was love at first sight.

Al and I went to high school together, but we didn't know each other because he was 2 years ahead of me. I do remember one day after school, I was walking out to the parking lot, and I saw Al walking out to his car with his best friend (who was a girl). He was taking her home and as they got to his car, he opened her door for her. Now that may seem insignificant and simple, but it was so impressive to me that he was polite and giving to this friend who wasn't a girlfriend or someone he was trying to impress. He was just a thoughtful guy. I thought to myself "One day I'm going to marry a guy just like that." Wow, was I right or what.

2 years later I ran into him in an establishment (OK a bar) on the University strip. One look at him and I was in love. Today we've been married 21 years, have 3 beautiful children and an amazing grandson. It hasn't always been easy, but today we're still here. Even the Army, no matter how hard they tried, couldn't tear us apart.

I don't say it enough, but Al is one of a kind. Now sure there are things he does that infuriate me (he is still a man after all) but once I regain my composure I realize what a wonderful guy he is. He is kind and generous, and he would sacrifice everything for his family. He loves his kids more than life itself.

Al and I have shared a lot over our life, but just recently we have shared one of the most memorable and life changing events of our marriage. We became grandparents to Logan, and we did it together. I've thought a lot about what it has meant to me to become a grandmother, but it's harder to explain what it has been like to watch Al become a grandfather. He loves that little boy so much, and as he likes to repeat "Logan loves his grandpa." I agree, and I can't think of any little boy who will grow up with a better example to follow than Logan has in his grandpa.

Happy Birthday Al, I love you!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Jessie Lou

Toady is my "baby" sister's birthday. I say baby, because to me she will always be my first baby, but in reality she is a mother to her own adorable baby boy.

When I was 9 years old my mom told us she was pregnant, and I was ecstatic. I didn't remember when my brother Joey was born (he's only 20 months younger than me) so this would be my first experience with a baby in the house. I was so excited that I even helped name her. I especially remember the day that she came home from the hospital. I just sat and stared at her for hours, and I fell in love.

Over the next 10 years, Jessica was my little sidekick. I took her everywhere, I dressed her, I played with her, I adored her. She was my half-sister, but you would never have known it. I treated her as much like my child as my sister, and I was ferociously protective of her. Once, when she was in elementary school, she went to the beach with her friend and got sunburned on her back. I was so mad at her friend's parents for letting it happen, and I laid her on the floor and covered her back with a cool wet towel to soothe the heat. I sat there for hours replacing the towel as it got warm, and the next day the burn was better.

When I was 20, I had a baby of my own. Jessica was 11, and she stepped right in like a big sister. To this day she still mentors and loves Alyssa, as well the rest of her nieces and nephews.

Jessica married a spectacular man, Derrick, who loves her as much as I do, and they have a beautiful son, Dexter. Jessica is such a phenomenal wife and mother. She is sweet, active, organized, responsible, and spunky enough to be strong, but loving enough to not be mean. Jessica has become a woman who I am proud not only to call my sister, but my friend.

I love you Jessie Lou, Happy Birthday.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Well it's been a busy year and a busy holiday season. We had a wonderful Christmas which started with a beautiful 11 pm Christmas Eve service. Normally I would go to an earlier service but Christian was singing in the choir so I waived my usual 9 pm bedtime to attend. After opening gifts Christmas morning Al, the boys and I started packing for our trip to Alabama.

On Christmas morning Santa visited Logan at his house, then he, Alyssa and Andy went to Kansas City to celebrate with Andy's family. They spent the night at Shirley's and flew from Kansas City to Birmingham the next day. The trip went well (minus a little 4 hour delay in St. Louis) and Logan got his first set of wings. Al, Christian, Nicholas, Riley and I also left for Alabama on the 26th but we drove. Poor Lex had to stay home but my wonderful friend Kerin took very good care of him while we were gone.

The trip to Alabama was fun and exhausting. We started out spending the night with my sister Jessica in Birmingham then moved on to my Mother's in Tuscaloosa. My mom reserved the fellowship hall at church on Sunday and we all just hung out, ate pizza, and relaxed. My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Eric even came down from New Jersey for the weekend.

Sunday evening my sister in law Karen, my sister Jessica, and I rounded up all of the grandkids and had family portraits made. There is nothing more fun than taking a sleepy 11/2 year old, a hungry 3 month old, and 6 other kids ages 8-20 and try to coordinate their facial expressions and positions for a decent picture. No we aren't crazy, we're just a little unwell. Anyway they turned out pretty good and of course our parents loved them.

"The Three Stooges" Christian, Kayla, & Nicholas

"The Little Ones" Summer, Dexter, and Taylor
with "The Firsts" Logan, & Alyssa

Joey's Kids Kayla, Summer, & Taylor

My Grandson Logan, and My Kids Alyssa, Nicholas, & Christian

"The Whole Clan" Logan, Alyssa, Nicholas, Kayla,
Taylor, Dexter, Christian, & Summer

My brother Joey hosted a New Years Eve party, and grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, and a few firecrackers. Everyone had a great time but my mom and I skipped out at about 10 pm to take Logan home and put him (and ourselves) to bed. I'm just not a night person anymore; I must be getting old.

Alyssa, Andy and Logan flew back to Kansas City New Years Day while Al, Christian, Nicholas, Riley and I stayed to watch the Sugar bowl (much to our chagrin). We all left for Nebraska a little before 7am on the 3rd and we got home (thoroughly exhausted) a little after midnight. We were so tired that we didn't even unload the car until the next morning. Now I am recovering from the trip and washing clothes. The fun never ends. Have a great 2009.