Sunday, December 28, 2008

Colton's First Christmas

Christmas 2008 was wonderful. The food, fun, and gifts never seemed to stop since it was spread out over three days: we spent Christmas Day at my in-laws', then went to Gregg's aunt & uncle's on his mom's side the next night for their festivities, and finally spent Saturday afternoon visiting with my family at my mom & stepdad's. Santa was very good to Colton. He got lots of new toys, books, and clothes. Of course, this year we had to unwrap the presents for him, but next Christmas he'll be 16 months and really into tearing off wrapping paper to reveal whatever treasure lies inside. Here are some pictures!

Colton in the new walker his grandparents gave him, waiting to open yet another present

Colton gets a hand from Curious George

Gregg with his new toy

Daddy helping Colton open another present

Colton with my dad

Colton and I with our red and green

With my mom

Getting some love from my sister

Us by the Christmas tree

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Only 1 More Sleep 'Til Christmas

In less than 24 hours, Christmas Day will be here! The three of us are heading over to Gregg's parents' tomorrow around noon for present opening and dinner. I'm looking forward to spending time with family, eating yummy food, and exchanging gifts. I'm excited to see what Colton gets, too. Today I'll be wrapping presents and doing some house work so I don't have to be bothered tomorrow morning. We're not doing anything big or fancy this evening; just attending our church's Christmas Eve service and having dinner by ourselves at home.

Here's a picture of Colton with Santa that was taken on Saturday at Gregg's aunt & uncle's annual holiday shin dig. He was pretty indifferent to the man in the big red suit. I thought he was going to burst into tears.

Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone! I leave you with some pictures of extra cuteness. Colton is grabbing a hold of everything these days, which makes diaper changing especially difficult now!

"I'm gonna get you, frog!"


Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Year Ago Today

I found out I was pregnant with Colton. I had been feeling "off" for a few days leading up to the discovery. All of my symptoms pointed to pregnancy, but I brushed them off. Until I was five days late and couldn't ignore them anymore. On one of our last minute runs to Walmart for Christmas, we also picked up a HPT. My heart was pounding as I took the test, and three minutes later we had our result: Pregnant.

I remember the next day at my work's Christmas party feeling a flutter of excitement and suddenly being cautious about everything I ate and drank. A test at the doctor's a day later confirmed it. While we thought of the way we should share the news with our families over Christmas, we came up with all sorts of ideas- gift wrapping a countdown timer to my due date, giving planners with August 21 tabbed. But Gregg finally decided that we should simply make up a phony back order notice for a package that was "still in processing", and see whether our parents would figure it out.

We could not wait until the gift exchange began so that we'd be able to reveal that we had an extraordinarily special present. Both grandmas figured it out pretty quickly. My stepfather thought we were sending them on a cruise that left in August. Men.

At this time last year, my due date seemed so far away. I wanted to make sure I did everything right over the next eight months, so that my baby would develop and grow properly. And now, he's four months old already. And he is the best thing that ever happened to me, besides meeting my husband and receiving Christ as my Lord and Savior. My son is seriously the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

On 12/18/07 when I discovered I had this life growing inside me, I couldn't wait to meet our child. I was full of joy and excitement that I can't even begin to describe in words. This December 18, I have the gift of sharing my baby boy's first Christmas with him. Being a witness to every new skill he learns and experiencing such pleasure at his smiles and laughter as he interacts with me. I am humbled that God would choose me to care for Colton while he's on this earth. He is the most precious gift I could have ever received.


Praise God! Last night my husband was offered the position with the company he really wanted, and they met his salary expectations. He will actually be making 25% more than he was at his last job. Not only is the salary incredible, but there is a great benefits package including full medical, dental, and vision coverage for the three of us, and a 401K which starts right away.

I am so excited for and proud of Gregg that he will finally be earning what he's worth, and in a position that seems made for him. He'll be doing tech support for Jersey Eagle Sales, a large wholesale beverage distribution center in Jersey City (a hop, skip, and a jump away from NYC). They want him to start on January 5, and they're going to fly him out to Michigan at their headquarters so he can learn all the ins and outs of the business. He'll be there for three days, then fly back to New Jersey and start in their office here on 1/8.

And with his salary requirements met (plus quarterly performance bonuses), that means I won't have to go back to work! I can keep being a stay at home mom, which I'm really excited about!!

I'm so glad we won't have to struggle like we have been recently to make ends meet. The money in our account is almost gone. I guess I thought it would last longer than it did. I do have one more paycheck coming on January 2, for an adoption profile I completed at the end of October. It wasn't signed off on by the county by November 30, so it wasn't included in my December check. So we'll have to make our money stretch a bit further for a little while until Gregg gets his first paycheck, but we'll be okay.

God is so good. He has totally blessed and provided for our move back here. Now we have even one more reason to celebrate this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Christmas Tree

We finally decorated the tree yesterday! Better late than never. I set to work fanning out the branches while listening to some Christmas tunes. Then after Gregg put on the lights, I hung the ornaments and wrapped the tree skirt around the base. I couldn't find all of our ornaments out in the garage, so I used what was available and ended up with a very simple yet classic tree. Gregg thinks we may have thrown out the box containing most of the ornaments by accident. I'm hoping it's just buried beneath a stack of other boxes we can't get to right now. I would hate to lose all those memories.

Anyway, here's a few pictures:

Colton and Mommy

My new favorite ornament

Monday, December 15, 2008

What Christmas Is All About

Recently I've been feeling sorry for myself that, because of our current financial situation, I can't afford to buy Colton a whole bunch of cute outfits and toys for Christmas. Not that he would even know the difference, but as a parent I want to be able to give my child nice things. Yesterday while perusing several of my favorite blogs, I stumbled across this blog, by a young mother whose son went to be with Jesus just sixteen minutes after he was born. It changed my whole perspective on everything.

While I'm not able (right now) to give my baby boy the material things I would like, I still have him here with me. I still get to see and kiss his sweet face every day. Take in his sweet baby smell. I get to witness his smiles and giggles that make my heart melt.

This mom won't ever be able to hold her son again. Her posts moved me to tears, and suddenly the burdens that I'm facing faded away. I can't even imagine the depth of grief she's experiencing.

In this moment, I feel incredibly blessed. I don't think I'll ever take one minute with my family for granted again. I'm so grateful God has given me a beautiful, healthy son and wonderful husband. I'm also grateful for the recent interviews Gregg has gone on, which I'm thinking one at least will certainly turn out fruitful. Gregg received a phone call back today from the VP of a company he interviewed with last Thursday, saying he wants him to meet tonight with the owners who are in town for only a few days. It looks really good for him to get this job, and this is the one at the top of his list too.

Saturday we were able to spend some money to purchase Christmas gifts for our families. We had agreed beforehand with Gregg's brother and sister that all of us buy just one gift for each family, which is a huge cost savings since his sister has four kids! We ended up getting my sister-in-law's family a game for their Wii and my brother-in-law's an outdoor activity set that our 18 month old niece will mostly enjoy. I bought an Italian food cookbook for my sister, and we went with the photos of Colton for our parents and Gregg's grandfather. We actually used pictures we already had and edited them in Picasa. We then ordered a bunch through Snapfish for only $3.40!

I feel really good about our inexpensive purchases, and I'm looking forward to giving them on the 25th. Giving and receiving pricey, elaborate gifts is not what Christmas is all about anyway. We should be focusing on the birth of our Savior, who was and is the best present we could ever receive.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

4 Months!

Happy 4 Month Birthday, Colton!!

Boy, growing older sure is exhausting. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

13 Days and Counting

Still no closer to decorating for Christmas, but we have decided to do photos of Colton for family members this year. I think we'll try to play photographer and shoot some professional looking pics of him ourselves. Hope they turn out decent.

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. Yesterday's interview at Budwiser went very well. Gregg should hear something by Tuesday. While I was at the mall, he lined up two more interviews with different companies. He left at 6:00 this morning to catch a bus into Manhattan for his first one of the day, and then he has another in Jersey this afternoon. We are hoping something comes through really soon!

Colton and I had a great time at the mall yesterday. He was a good sport about being pushed around in and out of stores with Mommy. Since I have no money, I didn't buy anything of course, but it was still fun to look. I saw these super cute onesies on sale at Baby Gap, and was so tempted to get them. But I refrained. Hopefully soon we won't have to worry about dropping a few dollars on such a frivilous item.

It was really good to spend some time with Laura. We swapped C-section stories, chatted about our kids, and just caught up on the past three years that I've been away. Since her girls are 3 1/2 and 1, she's able to offer a lot of advice on parenting. All of our friends who got married around the same time as us have kids now. It will be great for Colton to play with them when he gets a little older.

And now for some pictures!

Sticking his thumb in his mouth, one of his favorite things to do now

Chilling out with Daddy, watching tv

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2 More Weeks Until Christmas...

I realized this very thing last night, and began to panic a little knowing that we haven't bought a single present for anyone in our family, haven't decorated the tree, haven't baked any cookies, etc. It's a little difficult to get into the Christmas spirit when you are surrounded by boxes everywhere, in various stages of being opened. Moving the day after Thanksgiving when we would normally be picking out and ornamenting our tree, along with getting a jump on gift buying, puts us way behind the 8-ball this year.

We did manage to set up the fake tree in the living room the other night, but that's as far as we got. It's not even our own fake tree. Jim & Laura had an extra one down in the basement that they said we could use. We didn't get the boxes of ornaments and lights out of the garage yet. Sigh. I think we're just going to scatter a few ornaments here and there, throw the tree skirt on, and call it done.

We plan to go Christmas shopping this weekend, but have no idea what to get anyone. Because finances are extremely tight right now, it won't be elaborate. I was thinking of just giving a framed picture of the baby to everybody. Simple, yet thoughtful. I think our version of Christmas will have to be stripped down from years past. For the sake of our budget and our sanity. Every year we run around like chickens with our heads cut off tyring to find the perfect gift for everybody, and end up getting crappy gifts from some people in return. It's ridiculous.

We already know we won't be able to top last year when we announced I was pregnant. At least we won't have to travel, which I'm happy about. I'm still glad we moved here and are close to family. These last few days though, I started to wonder "what in the world were we thinking?", watching the funds depleting from our bank account and my husband still not finding a job yet. He has an interview this morning and another one tomorrow, for jobs that look pretty promising. The one this morning is at a Budwiser distribution plant. Gregg would oversee a lot of the IT components for the plant. He joked that he'll get to take home free beer, which is funny because neither one of us drinks all that much. I think my limit is one drink per year!

Colton is doing much better. He's still a little congested and his right eye runny at times, but he's pretty much back to his normal self. For the past two nights, he has been sleeping in his crib again and not waking up with that awful, scared-sounding scream that jolted me out of bed at least two or three times per night. The Vicks Vaporizer and saline drops worked their magic. He had gotten out of his normal routine while being sick, since I let him sleep whenever he wanted to make up for all the times he woke up overnight. We are going to hang out at the mall this afternoon with Laura and her two little girls. Should be fun just to get out of the house for once!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Celebrate Me Home

This past year has sure brought its fair share of joys and woes. Joy at the birth of our son; woe at losing yet another church and another job, and feeling utterly confused at the direction God wanted us to take. With all the options before us, we finally decided to just move back to New Jersey. It seemed ridiculous, and also so sensical at the same time. Yes, Jersey is still about ten times more expensive than practically anywhere else in the country. And yes, it is the place we were so desperate to leave three years ago. I don't think we really knew what we were leaving behind though. It is also the place where we actually have roots. It's where we grew up, met, fell in love, and got married. Our parents are there. We had the opportunity to be a part of some incredible ministries, too. We figured it was the best thing for us and Colton to be close to family again and attend a church where we're plugged in. The job opportunities are also much, much better and pay more.

So I turned in my two week notice at work, we started packing boxes, rented a moving truck, and Gregg began sending out resumes to companies all over Northern NJ and NYC. He contacted a buddy of his to find out if he knew anywhere to rent that wouldn't break the bank. It ended up that friends of ours who got married the same year as us just happened to have an empty house they said we could live in until we found something more permanent. On Thanksgiving, Gregg's parents drove down to PA after having dinner at his aunt's to help us move.

Bright and early the next morning, we were loading the truck, packing the rest of our stuff, and cleaning. We had to tow the minivan on a dolly behind the truck, unfortunately, because on his way home from putting gas in it the night before, Gregg lost the brakes. It was a really good thing it happened then, instead of sometime on the way to NJ when I would have been driving it with Colton in the back seat. We got the van fixed that Saturday, which set us back about $300. Ugh. When we arrived nearly four hours later, our friend Jim who owns the house we're staying at came to help us move in. We discovered that he and his wife Laura had also bought us groceries and left some money on the counter for whatever else we might need! Gregg and I were just overwhelmed at their generosity.

On Sunday we went back to the church we had attended before moving to Florida, and it was like we never left. I didn't think people would recognize us after all this time, especially now that we have a baby in tow. But walking down the hallway to the sanctuary, we were instantly flagged down by some people who were having coffee in the fellowship hall. Throughout the morning, a lot more people greeted us and said how glad they were that we were there. An announcement was even made from the pulpit that we were back in town. During worship, I looked over at my husband who had tears in his eyes. He is not an emotional guy, but he was so moved by the fact that everybody remembered us and welcomed us so warmly.

It was truly like coming home. We had been such an integral part of that church- Gregg served on the Tech Team, I taught elementary school-aged girls Bible lessons on Wednesday nights, we were involved in a small group, attended adult Sunday School. It was clear to both of us this past Sunday that we had been missed and touched many people's lives. I had really missed our worship experience at GPBC. The people were always so genuine and spirit-filled, always looking for a way to help others and pray with them. They also really value family and children. There are so many wonderful programs for kids. I know Colton will have a solid Biblical foundation growing up in this church.

Recently I had been aching to be a part of this kind of fellowship again, with our church search in Chambersburg coming up dry every time. I kept feeling like more and more of an outsider every one we went to. And here we show up at our old church, and within the first five minutes are blown away by the most incredible reception. I joked that next week it's going to be in the bulletin that we're back.

After service, we went by Gregg's parents for Sunday dinner which is always a treat. His mom cooks enough for an army and the food is excellent. I had really missed that, too. I like that Colton will grow up surrounded by family, knowing his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin. Gregg's brother's daughter, Katelyn, was so excited to see "Coltie". My SIL Liz and I hope they grow up being close since they're only 15 months apart.

The one thing missing here is that Gregg hasn't found a job yet. He's had a couple of good leads and one interview already. We figured he can always work at one of the large computer or electronic retailers in the area in the meantime. We have some money in the bank that will last us a little while. The plan is for me to stay at home with Colton, if we can afford to. If I need to go back to work part-time or something, at least Gregg's mom can watch the baby so we don't have to put him in daycare.

It's really good to be back here. I love being a SAHM. I like the fact that I can just call up a girlfriend and get together for a play date. I did have my doubts, because of the high cost of living, and because of the risk we're taking by not having a stable income source right now. We've struggled financially before though, and have always made it through. God has always taken care of us. We could have moved elsewhere for a guaranteed job, but we'd have had to get used to a whole new area, find a new church, and make new friends all over again. I dreaded the idea of starting over, but I was willing to do it if it meant I could stay at home. I would have been so isolated though. Here, I know the lay of the land and there's no awkward learning curve. I already have friends and plenty of activities at the church to get involved in. There's an amazing women's Bible study on Wednesday mornings, with nursery provided, that I would love to join again.

We have already seen such an outpouring of blessings since our move only one week ago. Now we just need Gregg to land a job!! And for Colton to feel like himself again. My poor baby has been sick with a cold since Tuesday night. It's awful watching him suffer. He's waking up two to three times during the night screaming because he can't breathe. We moved the swing into his room so that he can sleep somewhat upright. He doesn't have much of an appetite, and just wants to sleep and be held. I feel so bad for him. I have to keep using the nasal aspirator (or "snot sucker", as my husband calls it) to clean out his tender little nose, and he hates it. He screams like someone is trying to kill him. Colton also has a case of "goopy eye", which seems to be getting better now thankfully.

I've decided to stay home from church tomorrow and take care of him. It wouldn't be fair to bring a sick baby to the nursery, and I don't want to drag him out into the cold when he already feels so yucky. I'm so glad I'm not working right now, because I feel like a zombie. Since Colton started sleeping through the night at two months, I've been spoiled with a full night's rest. Not so much this week. I should really be catching up on sleep right now while my baby sleeps, but instead I'm blogging. Go figure. :)