All about Ella

So, I’ve been letting Ella cry it out (CIO) for naps lately…
Some people find this to be cruel.  I can see why.  I wasn’t sure if it was something I could/would do.  I wasn’t sure it was something I even wanted to try.  Then bedtimes became unbearable.  It could take hours to get her to go to sleep.  She was mad…I was exhausted…  It wasn’t pretty.  She started “sleeping through the night” at 10 weeks.  To me, that meant I got more than 5 hours of solid sleep.  Then, the trouble started at around 8 months.  She just wouldn’t go down.  I’d end up holding her while I watched t.v. until she finally fell sound asleep.  I wanted more than anything to be able to lay her down (drowsy, but not asleep) and have her drift off into sleepy land.  At 10 months, I finally bit the bullet and decided we’d try the CIO method.  It took three nights.  That’s all.  The first night: 45 minutes of crying.  Night 2: 20 minutes.  Night 3: 5 minutes.  Night 4: nothing.  We’ve been pretty good since then.  Other than a few instances of getting thrown off…
Naps have been another story.  She rarely has napped longer than 30-45 minutes.  I did post a while back during a TWO HOUR NAP.  It was crazy – and hasn’t happened again.  So, last week I decided to let her CIO.  So far, she’s still only taken 30 minute naps.  Today, she’s been quiet for 15 minutes.  I decided to post quickly just in case the jig was up at 4:30.  And yes, I already am aware that some children just don’t need those long, solid naps.  I just still hopeful that Ella isn’t one of those.
Other than this one hiccup, she is amazingly cool.  She has figured out just what that baseboard heater is for:

Amazingly, it hasn’t fallen off the wall (yet).
We have made some good friends (who I’ve posted about before).  For my birthday, Jeff gave me my one requested gift…a family membership to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.  We’ve been twice (and will get there again one day this week).  Last week, we went with a few other mom’s including my friend, Amy, and her son, Jackson.  Jackson and Ella take good pictures together.  Here, I believe they are conspiring to be chefs one day:
And just because I think she is so cute, I had to include an upclose shot of my pretty-in-pink princess.  Just don’t fail to notice the grass/mud stains on the jeans.  They won’t come completely clean, so these are now play jeans.  She may be a princess, but she can totally keep up with the boys.  (That’s MY girl)  The adorable bass guitar shirt was purchased by my dad (Pop) since Jeff plays the bass.  So cute:
I will admit that I CAN remember what life was like pre-Ella.  It was a good life.  Going out for dinner and to concerts whenever we felt like it.  Never needing a babysitter (except for overnight things – and then it was a petsitter).  I remember going out with friends for the entire day.  Deciding to go out to dinner on the spur of the moment and grabbing nothing but keys and money.
Ella was a huge surprise.  A historic surprise.  It altered the entire universe for me. 
SHE altered the entire universe for me. 
NOW?  I’d alter the entire universe for her. 
I have big hopes and dreams for her.  Will she fulfill them?  Maybe…
All I know is that she is amazingly cool and that parenthood is definitely the best experience.  Parenting with Jeff is fun.  He is a really, really cool dad and I love to watch them together.
Will we go for #2?  Who knows….maybe…someday…
For now, we’re just ALL ABOUT ELLA.

Perfection

I’ve been thinking a lot about “perfection” this week.  First, there is this entry on my sister-in-law’s blog.  I have been deep in prayer for her over this since she posted.  I have so little to offer her.  As my good friend Amy said (while we were out on my birthday), I had the “perfect” pregnancy and no room to every complain to anyone about it.  I agreed with her whole-heartedly.  The comment to me came after another mom-friend said, “I just never can understand those women who say ‘I loved being pregnant’.”  I was THAT mom.  I loved being pregnant.  I never had morning sickness (well, twice, but I call that never).  I didn’t swell to odd proportions.  I didn’t bloat in my face to the point you couldn’t recognize me.  And I didn’t have a rash covering my body (all my love to Amy & Katie K here) and making me miserable.
The conversation that night continued on about labor & delivery.  Whit was hopitalized two weeks before she delivered and knew everyone in the maternity ward when her time came then ended up having a c-section.  Katie told me stories that blew my mind.
Now, I had a not-so-short delivery.  They induced me (broke my water/gave me pitocin) around 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday night and Ella didn’t make her appearance until after 7 a.m. the next morning.  HOWEVER, I was also comparing birth stories to my mom, aunt, and grandmother whose longest labor (i.e. from “I think it is time” to “Baby’s here!”) was around 6 hours.  I was hoping that was genetic, but it was not.  Of course, I was induced and none of them were…inductions always seem to take FOREVER.  There was only one major problem during my delivery – Ella’s cord was wrapped around her neck.  This wasn’t known until she made her entrance and instead of being placed on my chest, the doctor quickly unwrapped the cord (as horror appeared on my mom’s face) and handed her off to the nurses to be checked over.  She passed her Apgar with FLYING colors.
I had the “perfect” pregnancy and the “perfect” delivery.  And now, I have a PERFECT child.
I am lost in reflection on this after being pointed to a blog by a women who delivered a Downs Syndrome baby girl in January.  I posted the link to her daugher’s birth story on facebook yesterday.  I have since taken time to continue reading through her blog.  I’ve only gotten through January’s posts and haven’t started Februarys yet.  I read and I feel a bond with her.  I know – not normal, as we have little in common.  We each have at least one daugher.  That’s it.  Here is where my emotional tug is…
Before I was pregnant with Ella I attended the funeral of a child.  I had been friends with his dad and dad’s extended family from years ago.  This child was a precious, special child.  I didn’t know him.  I only went to show support for his dad and that extended family.  I sat there like stone listening to what people had to say about this precious child of God.  I believe he was autistic.  But that isn’t what people talked about.  They talked about how special he was to the world of people around him.  How he laughed.  How he smiled.  How he made you feel special.  I carried that day with me.  I had worked in special education as a substitute teacher in our county.  I was one of the few who willingly signed up to sub in special education classes.  I loved it.  I loved working with kids who needed that extra attention.  I wonder all the time what has happened to the class of kids at one Elementary that I can to work with every week and loved dearly.  I was allowed special permissions to know their stories because I was working with them so closely and so often.  Have you ever heard of chiari malformation?  I hadn’t.  It is amazing.  Can you imagine have a child that never sleeps?  That is one unique strain of chiari malformation.  One of the girls in that class had it.  She had no body fat.  She was restless.  Her mother slept while she was at school.  It was their only way to cope.
Two of the kids had severe emotional disorders.  I watched one throw a computer through a window.  The other and I became good friends.  When he got mad, he threw desks.  When he got mad, if you sat in a chair right in front of him and put your face within a foot of his and started counting backwards from 100, he’d calm down.  I loved learning that.
Two of the children were downs syndrome.  Oh, how I loved them.  The sweetest beings alive – full of hugs and loved playing hide-and-go-seek.  Oh, how I loved those children. 
Why does this consistently weigh on me?  Why do I always, ALWAYS think about it?  I have no idea.  I can tell you that one day during my pregnancy, I became acutely aware that something was going to be wrong with Ella.  I just knew it.  I never told Jeff.  I still haven’t told him.  (Hi honey)  I knew…I just knew.
But there is nothing wrong with my child.  She is SMART.  She is BEAUTIFUL.  She is IMPORTANT.  (Sorry- I read The Help recently).  She can say “two” after I say “one”.  Of course, all numbers are “2” and all letters are “E”.  She can recognize her name when it is written down.  She can repeat “E” “L” “L” “A” when prompted.  There is nothing wrong with my child.
People have been asking me lately when we’re going to have #2.  Today – it could be tomorrow (well, after April).  Yesterday – I only wanted Ella.  We may get there…
People have also been asking me what I’m going to do for work once I return to work (do I ever have to?).  I think, perhaps, that God hasn’t been speaking to me about MY child, but instead about others’ children.  I think I might go into special education by choice.  I’m not so sure I want to teach in a regular school.  I think I’d like to work with specific children.  I’m not going to make up my mind yet.  But I had to get it off my chest.
To my sister-in-law, Kristen – you are a wonderful mother.  Your son adores you.  Your son is perfect.  Your delivery was not.  Please don’t let it define your motherhood.  Motherhood is so much more than that.  THAT is what I wanted to say.  It just took me a week and this blog to find the words I wanted to say.
To you- my friend & reader…I leave you with two pictures of my PERFECT CHILD:
 Here she is conducting her own business meeting in our living room:
And here she is getting ready to run the rounds with my parent’s cat Cricket:
And now my angel is crying to me from her crib.  She took a near two-hour nap there today.  See – perfection.  Gotta go!

What a great weekend…and it is only Saturday night!

Just had to post that I am having a fantastic weekend.

First – I got to spend a lot of time yesterday with my friend, Bobbi Jo.  We have a good time when we’re together and I always laugh a lot around her.
Then – last night was Christie’s Panty Party.  It was less about embarassing her with lingerie for she & Andrew (though we certainly did and with lots of laughs) and more about getting to celebrate my really, really close friend before she gets married.  This is such a special time and I’m so excited for her.  I wanted to make her feel special last night and I think we accomplished that.  Thanks to our friends who came out to shower Christie with laughter & lingerie.

Overnight was not pretty since Ella isn’t sleeping well and she & I were up battling it out between 11:30 pm and 2:30 this morning.

BUT – I woke up at 7:30 this morning next to my beautiful baby girl.  Then – I got to get ready and head out to breakfast with my friend, Melissa – who I feel like I never get to see and we used to go out at least once every weekend when she & Jay first moved here.  It was so wonderful to just sit with her and chat for a couple hours in a local coffee shop.  So needed!

Then, lunch today was a celebration of mine & my dad’s birthdays.  My grandmother, great-aunt, and aunt came in town from Newport News to eat with Dad, Mom, Jeff, Ella & Me.  We had a good time and Ella got to show off a bit.  After lunch we went back to mom & dad’s apartment and hung out while Ella really showed off how much fun she is to be around.  So good to have Ella spend time with her GG, EE & Aunt Carla.
Tonight, we went to Jeff’s parents for dinner in a late celebration of Jeff’s mom’s birthday (Feb 3).  It was great since all three boys (Jeff, Jerry & Gabe) were all able to be there with no schedule conflicts.  Kristen & I were there, too, but the most fun is watching Nana and Papa interact with their two grandkids.  We were all together.

It has been a great two days and tomorrow is lining up to be fantastic too…
I actually get to go to church at United tomorrow.  I feel like it has been a lifetime since I’ve been there and for me it has.  The last time was January 24.  Church was snowed out the 31st & February 7 and then Jeff & I were away last weekend (Feb 14).  I can’t wait to hear my dad preach.  He is my favorite minister…and it isn’t just bias.  I feel that he preaches from the heart to the heart and I love that about him.  Tomorrow’s theme: God as our shepherd.  So excited!
Then tomorrow night is my book club meeting.  I haven’t posted about book club before…not sure why not except I just post so little…
Tomorrow night we’ll be discussing the book, The Help.  It was a GREAT book that I recommend to anyone interested in a fiction story set in a all-too-real 1960’s segregated Jackson, Mississippi.  I had to remind myself that Mae Mobly and Aibileen weren’t real people.  Oh, little MaeMo – your nanny Aibileen loved you.  It has been a month since I read the book and I can’t recall what MaeMo called Aibileen in the book, but it tugged my heart strings.  SUCH A GOOD BOOK. 

I’ll have to do posts on the books I read since I have become a voracious reader.  I read the bookclub book and then find as many other books to read in the remainder of the month.  I can’t stop and I love it.  I’ve also found that I’m currenly very drawn to stories (fiction & non-fiction) set during the 60s that focus on segregation and integration.  I find it fascinating…okay – that is another post too.

Well – that’s it.  It is a great weekend and I just found the desire to share that with you.  Thanks for reading!

Really, Really Bad at Blogging

So I’m the first to admit that I am AWFUL at blogging.  Despite wanting to blog weekly, I just can’t seem to make the time.  Oh, the time is there…I just end up doing other things…like reading and posting on Richmond Mommies.
So what’s happened since the last time I posted?  This:
This happened!  SNOW, SNOW and more SNOW.  My sidewalk is still covered (since it never gets sun) and the same for my driveway which is now a solid sheet of ice.  If I thought taking a hairdryer out and melting it to the ground would do the trick, I think I would.  Except I’d get cold too fast and quit.  I can’t get warm.  I’m cold all the time and that hasn’t happened since I got pregnant.
Let’s see…what else?  Oh – I turned 32.  It was a very eventful day.  Jeff got up at 2:30 a.m. very, very sick.  All the plans for the day went out the window because I wasn’t going to leave him alone just yet.  He seemed to be better by lunch, but that all went south again around 5:00.  Originally, we were going out to dinner with his family, but that got moved around (and not yet rescheduled) because of his brothers’ schedules.  So, since my friend Amy had planned a girls night out that I thought I wasn’t going to go to (due to dinner with the fam), I called the girls and said I might be there.  Then, I quickly arranged for mom to keep Ella at her apartment while I went out.  Jeff wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but like the loving hubby he is – he let me go have some goodness on my actual birthday.  I met my girlfriends – Amy, Bridget, Katie (not Quinn), and Whitney – at The Cheesecake Factory in Short Pump.  Amy ordered a yummy app & bought she & I drinks (just one a piece); then I ate steak for dinner; and Whitney bought me cheesecake.  After being serenaded by the waiters, Bridget got this picture of me getting ready to blow out my candle:
The cheesecake was YUMMY, by the way.  It was a great night.  I picked up an asleep little girl (who woke up as soon as we went out in the rain) and then spent an hour getting her back to sleep once we were home.  Well worth it.
That Friday night, Jeff invited my parents over to dinner and came home with Hardees Fried Chicken and an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.  We had a small belated birthday party for me.  It was nice.  Jeff gave me a family membership to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens – which I was dying for.  I can’t wait to take Ella to play in the children’s garden this spring & summer.  Plus all the events – it will be great.
The weekend after my birthday we headed to Lynchburg to see Margaret, Nanny & Kenny.  Ella LOVES her Aunt Margaret and they had a lot of fun playing together.  The pic below is them looking at birds on the bird feeder:

We got home Valentine’s afternoon and I promptly got dressed and ready to head out with my mom to The Carpenter Center to see the Richmond Ballet (and Richmond Symphony) perform Romeo & Juliet.  I love the story – love the play, LOVE the Leo/Claire Danes movie – but wasn’t so sure how much I’d like it as a ballet with none of Shakespeare’s words.  I LOVED IT!

Jeff & I celebrated Valentine’s on Monday, the 15th.  It was a great night with dinner & small gifts.  I got him a book, Ella got him a stuffed version of that brown thing that chases kittens in some internet thing.  He got me a Starbucks gift card.  Now that rocks.

Well, my little one has blessed me with 30 minutes of time, but is now up and fussing in her crib.  I need to start dinner anyhow.  See ya sometime soon…just maybe longer than 7 days.

Already broken my resolution to post…

Oh well…such is life, eh? I planned on posting Friday, but with a sick little one I just didn’t get to it.

Baby sickness stinks. Let me tell you! And we have been extremely fortunate where this is concerned. We went Ella’s entire first year without a major illness for any of us. Granted, for the first two months of her life we had some tenuous moments with the feeding stuff. She’d gorge herself and throw up, but we all thought there was more to it. It took about 4 weeks to work it all out, but once we did we never looked back.

As soon as she turned one, she got strep throat. Then an ear infection…then another. We’re currently preventing #4. Thursday (1/21) we went to story time at the library and then to a playdate at our friend Whitney’s (Becca). All was well. We came home & I put Ella down for a nap. Twenty minutes later she was up screaming. She hates to nap in her crib during the day and always cries when she wakes up in it, but this was different. She was irate. I went to get her and she was burning up – a fever of 103. HUH??

So off to the doctor where we have every test known to man run to eliminate anything not viral. It’s viral. So home we go with instructions to alternate Tylenol & Motrin every 3 hours as long as her temp is over 100. Then Friday, we’re still hitting 103 at least once every 3-4 hours. So back to the pediatrician we go (their call) to be sure something worse hadn’t developed in the 24 hours since Thursday’s visit. The only difference? Her ears are starting to look gunky (not yet infected) and they don’t want to go into infection #4 so she gets a shot of a powerful antibiotic and we get a script for more oral antibiotic.

We’ve been fever free since Sunday morning and I’m thankful. I’m also thankful to a great mom & hubby who carried the brunt of Ella-care on Sunday. Both Jeff & I were scheduled for praise team and I didn’t want to expose the tiny baby in the nursery to anything so mom came to our house to care for Ella while Jeff & I went to church. Then Sunday afternoon was Christie’s bridal shower. The plan had been for Ella to go with me & mom, but after a diaper blowout during church time, Jeff decided to keep her home. Good call since he had another diaper blowout that afternoon.

Yesterday we only ventured out to the library (quick visit for me to pick up a hotly sought after book) and Target for needed essentials (like wipes). Other than that we were home in sweatpants.

Today, my mommy friends convinced me that being fever free for 48 hours meant it was okay for Ella to play so off to the playdate we went. It was a lot of fun and I really like my mommy friends. They are wonderful. Thursday we’re going to Maymont to see the animals before the weather predicted for the weekend.

Wouldn’t you know it – they are calling for a FOOT of snow and Jeff had bought me tickets to The Wedding Singer musical for Christmas. Oh…my present better not be ruined. I may cry. Oh well…

Oh – and Ella has a black eye! Our world is fun. You should join us.

Wow…a lot has happened in FOUR MONTHS!

Hello Friends…Sorry I’ve been a bit absent for FOUR MONTHS!!! A lot has gone on since that last post in September. I’m taking inspiration from Kristen and I’m going to blog more.

Let’s see…where to start…
How about a New Year’s Resolution? That I’ll post at least once a week. Feel free to email or text me if I haven’t posted and it is Friday. Maybe I’ll need the reminder.
Since that last post, Ella and I have been meeting up with Amy (Jackson) and Whitney (Becca) along with another mom, Bridget (Nate), at least once a week – except for Christmas/New Years. Including Nate, all the kids are within 6 weeks of each other so it makes for good conversation and it helps to have all that encouraging feed back. Ella can almost say “Jackson” now.
—insert 30 minute break for screaming toddler up from a 30 minute nap—
So, what was I talking about? Oh yes – our playgroup. We all met through Richmond Mommies (RM) and it is a great group! I highly recommend RM for all new moms who are the first mom in their group of friends or when you find that your friendships change after you have a kid. You’ll find a group of mommy-friends who understand all you’re going through.
Okay, moving on…A LOT has happened since September. If you aren’t on Facebook, join and friend me so that you can keep up with us and see what you’ve missed. I update their Monday-Friday and occasionally on the weekends.
First of all – Ella has a cousin!!! Jerry & Kristen welcomed J.J. (Jerry Alvin Stone, IV) on September 30. Ella likes to look at her baby cousin and I’m sure she’ll like him more once he can move about on his own. Hopefully she’ll be better at sharing by then, too.
Halloween was so different this year. We didn’t go anywhere because we like to give out candy to the few kids that are trick-or-treating age in our neighborhood. Ella was dressed up as Cinderella – a costume her Uncle Warren bought for her.
Less than a week after Halloween (11/06), Ella turned ONE! We had a big party for her at the church – there were so many people we couldn’t have it at our house. Mostly it was family, but we did invite a few friends including Alastair Amos & her new friend, Jackson. She had a great time at the party and was in a great mood the whole time. What more could a mom ask for?
Thanksgiving took us to Nags Head to spend a couple days with my mom’s family. And next came Christmas. Christmas this year was a lot of fun. First, we got our tree up and put ornaments on it. Ella loved looking at the tree (and still does since it hasn’t come down yet). She also enjoyed the present aspect a bit more this year. She still doesn’t understand the whole unwrapping thing, but had a lot of fun playing with her new stuff as it was revealed.
She also enjoyed the time with her Uncle Warren & Aunt Rachel!!!