Monday, March 30, 2009

The Other Man In My Life

I've noticed that my posts lately have pretty much ALL been about Colton and his daily activities & such. My poor husband has taken a backseat in the last few months. So I wanted this post to be one big shout-out to my hubby, Gregg.

What can I say? I'll start out with the obvious: he is a wonderful husband and father. He is thoughtful and always ready & willing to lend a helping hand to a friend or family member. He is great at explaining things, especially to me who often has blonde moments where I "just don't get it". He is not afraid of standing up for what he believes in, including God's truths. That's something I really admired about him from the start, since I'm a wimp when it comes to expressing how I feel when it might hurt someone else's feelings.

This photo is from early on in our relationship, taken the same weekend that he first told me he loved me.

Somewhere around the 25th of August, 2002.

Almost exactly one month later, he proposed. We were married six years, two months, and 19 days ago on a very chilly January afternoon. There is a very long story about why we got hitched during the coldest month of the year. Ask me to recount it sometime when you have nothing else to do but sit down and read about the on-going drama with my immediate family.

What I liked from the very beginning was that Gregg never fooled around in our relationship, meaning that he was always clear about his intentions. He knew he wanted me and he pursued me. He was the one who wanted to get engaged and married so quickly, actually. He said he knew he had found the one for him, so why wait any longer?

He really is a go-getter and not content to settle for second best. But he has been patient with me during our marriage when I sort of "lag behind him". He's also been patient through my many failed cooking attempts (he still teases me about the first meal I ever made for us- it was out of a box and I still screwed it up), hesitance to try new things, and rigidity when plans don't go the way I want them.

Gregg works hard every day to provide for us, being away from home sometimes for twelve hours (we're working on finding a place closer to where he works so he won't have as much of a commute). When he comes home at night, he doesn't bring the problems at the office home with him. He plugs right in to whatever Colton and I are doing, and cleans up after dinner while I put the baby to bed.

A lot of people might think that my husband is very serious, but the truth is that he is a total goof. One of my favorite memories of him is from the beginning of last summer when we were driving home from church on a Sunday afternoon and the song "4 Minutes" by Justin Timberlake & Madonna came on the radio. Gregg rolled down the windows in the car, turned up the volume full blast and began singing along, beeping the horn in certain parts. This was still when we lived in Chambersburg, one of the most conservative towns in the Northeast. I laughed so hard I almost peed (which would have been very easy to do since I was 7 months pregnant). I imagined all these little old ladies just getting out of church and seeing us drive by in our minivan with our "club" going.

With a baby our dates these days are few and far between, but we find time here and there to reconnect and have fun by ourselves. We'll play different games on our Wii during the weekend. Gregg's parents got him a Wii station for Christmas, and it is such a blast. We also enjoy snuggling on the couch or in bed watching our favorite tv programs after Colton's down for the night.

Here's a picture of my hubby with his little boy:

I love you, honey! You're the best!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Colton Update, Part 3,576,899

After the last few somewhat heavy, deep posts I thought it was time to write about something a little more lighthearted. So that leads me to (what else)... Colton and what he's been up to lately!

I think he's beginning to understand the whole cause and effect thing. As in: when I cry, Mommy gives me a) a bottle, b) a new diaper, c) a binky, or d) cuddle time or attention. The other day he woke up from his nap early, and since it wasn't time for him to eat again yet and I wanted to finish getting some things done around the house, I put him down in the Pack 'n Play. After about a minute, Colton starts turning his head in my direction to make sure I'm watching him from the kitchen and then bursts into tears. This continues for another five minutes at least, until he realizes I'm not coming to get him and gives up and begins playing with his toys. Clever little boy.

For us to get through mealtime, I have to give him his own spoon to hold and play with. Somehow I manage to get spoonfuls of food into his mouth between him chewing on the other spoon and banging it around. It can be so frustrating. But I've figured out that he is just not that into rice cereal anymore. I don't blame him. I wouldn't be either. He'd rather smear it all over his face and the high chair tray. Colton is also getting the hang of his sippy cup much better. He'll grab one handle and drag it towards him, moving it around a little until the spout has made its way into his mouth.

Whoever thought that giving pureed meats to a baby was a good idea? I can assure you, they've never had to change my son's diaper after he's thoroughly digested that stuff. The smell is enough to peel the paint off of the walls. And what is with Colton screaming bloody murder when I'm cleaning his face with a wipe or washcloth, but it doesn't faze him when I am almost literally scraping the gunk off his behind??

At least he doesn't give me a hard time about naps or bedtime. Every day around noon, I'll rock Colton to sleep in the glider for his afternoon nap. It only takes about two minutes before he's completely out, then I put him down in the crib and he'll usually sleep for a couple of hours. My favorite part of the day is when he falls asleep in my arms that way; he's so warm and snugly that I could just take a nap right there with him! But I don't. I use that time to get some cleaning and laundry done, bah.

It looks like now he's actually kind of walking in the walker to get around, instead of just "pushing off". It is hilarious to watch him come speeding down the hallway towards me or the dog, smiling and squealing the whole way. I really have to get that on video sometime. Colton can also bear weight on his legs if you hold him in a standing position. I know he probably won't start standing up on his own for a few more months. Then we'll really have to baby proof!

Of course, what post would be complete without some pictures of the little guy??

Sitting on the table at Grandma's

He had a blast this morning playing with the near-empty carton of Silk.

Family photo time!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life

Lately I've been feeling awfully blessed, like we're somehow in God's favor. I am both humbled and grateful. I find myself thankful for so many things. In today's crappy economy, my husband has a job which he loves and that pays our bills. We're not going to appear on the cover of Fortune 500 anytime soon, but we have enough to get by right now. Four months ago we took a big chance by leaving a steady source of income and moving back to New Jersey for something better... and it panned out. Friends generously offered their home to us so we could stay somewhere until we get back on our feet. We have a beautiful son, who is not only healthy but relatively "low-maintenance". We have wonderful, loving, supportive extended family.

We are blessed.

I hear or read almost daily about so many tragedies: plane crashes, natural disasters, infant loss. It's hard not to see an abundance of suffering in this day of mass media and the Internet. Sometimes I am overcome with appreciation for all that I have. Sometimes I grumble about the most minor annoyances and lose perspective.

I am more and more aware every day that I live in a fallen, broken world. So much devastation everywhere as a result of people's sin, mistakes and poor choices. I am definitely not without my own share of faults and transgressions. Yet God still sees fit to pour His blessings on me. I am so unworthy. But He loves me anyway. Thank you, Lord!

With all the things I could complain and worry about, I should be making the decision to live a life of gratitude instead. It's admittedly so easy for me to focus on the things I don't have and those things that bother me. It has been bumming me out lately that, for instance, I don't have a vehicle of my own yet and have to rely on others for rides or wait until the weekend when Gregg isn't working. It makes me wish I didn't take for granted when we actually did have a second car.

I guess the bottom line is, I don't want to live my life thinking about all the things I either don't have or that I think could be better. I don't want to waste my life that way. There have been so many time periods in my nearly thirty years where I've thought, "If only I had such and such" or "When I reach such and such an achievement or age" (then everything will be good). And instead of truly enjoying whatever season God has me in, I just always look ahead to "when things will be better". Then without fail, I look back and wish I had appreciated where I was at the time. Oh, the irony.

When we first got married, I couldn't wait to own a house. Then we moved to Florida and bought a house, but I still didn't have a baby. So I was discontent. Then I had a baby, but I didn't have a house anymore because we lived in PA. Discontent all over again.

So now I am deliberately choosing to appreciate what I have while I have it. So I won't look back with regret. Up until very recently, I was struggling to figure out why God would have allowed us to make so many moves in the last few years when we didn't "find or get what we were looking for" in those places. But I've learned that God doesn't bring us to places; He brings us to people.

We touched a lot of lives and were touched as well in return, because we chose to heed God's calling or leading to move. There are so many people that we were and are blessed to know. I cannot imagine not having ever met them, even though things supposedly "didn't work out" either in FL or PA with regard to Gregg's jobs.

When I look at my life through that kind of lens, nothing I did was in vain. It wasn't a waste. Many people have come in and out, some I knew only very briefly, others for several years. I think of them when I hear a certain song on the radio, or see someone that resembles them. We had to go our separate ways for various reasons, but I always think about the way that God used them to touch my life, even in the smallest way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Reflections

Spring is finally here!! Colton and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon after he woke up from his nap. I put on his sweatshirt and little shoes, strapped him in the stroller, and cleared a path through the maze of junk in the garage so we could get out, and we were off. We happen to live on a quiet, dead-end street which is great since there's very little traffic. As I pushed Colton along (oh how I love the Peg Perego Aria), I basked in the warm sunshine and breathed in the spring air. It felt wonderful after such a long, cold winter. I'm so glad we took advantage of the nice weather yesterday, because today is gray and drizzly.

Our walk reminded me of why I love that I'm able to stay home. I've been thinking lately about the importance of creating a stable, loving environment for my child(ren) to grow up in. While I go about the day taking care of the baby and house, my playlist usually plays on in the background, mostly consisting of long-forgotten songs I used to listen to in my youth. Songs that bring me back to a time of carefree days playing dolls and swinging on our backyard swing set, when I was still blissfully unaware of all the problems in my parents' marriage. Before I knew there was danger and evil in the world.

I find myself wanting to fiercely protect Colton from anything that might hurt him. I know that it's not realistic, but this is my mother's instinct. I pray every night, "Lord, please protect him from evil". I know there will come a time when my son will face the fact that this life isn't all lollipops and rainbows. There is danger and evil, the unfortunate by-product of the fallen world in which we live. While I can, as long as I can, I still want to shield him from harm. It's not entirely up to me though. I am not in total control; God is.

My prayers lately have been about asking, really begging, for God to give me wisdom and patience as a parent. Being a newbie mom, I am finding that I am so utterly broken and imperfect. My frustration has risen to heights I never knew it could, giving way sometimes to a temper that I'd rather soon forget is present. I surrender this ugly part of me to the Lord every day, before it gets the best of me. I know it could only get worse as Colton gets older and chooses to deliberately disobey me.

Nothing, nothing can really prepare you for entering parenthood. You can read all the books in the world on the subject, but the training comes on the job. I didn't have the best role models growing up either, so I was at a disadvantage from the start. I desperately don't want to make the same mistakes my parents made. However, I'll probably just end up making different ones.

I already suspect that my child will probably teach me more than I will ever teach him.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

7 Months

I can't believe we're at the seven month mark already! Before I know it, I'll be sending out invitations for Colton's first birthday party.

It seems like his sixth month was a lot shorter than all the previous ones, just because he turned 6 months old in February and we always "get cheated" out of two days since it ends on the 28th. Nonetheless, Colton seemed to grow and develop more during his sixth month than any other.

Our little boy is now sitting up without assistance, which makes playtime so much more fun (for him and for me!). I dragged the Pack 'n Play out of the garage and set it up so he can sit in there and play to his heart's content. It's much softer (and safer) than spreading out a blanket on the rug in the living room and plopping him down. Colton has also become really good at reaching for and grabbing exactly what he wants. He's rocking his "Learning Toolbox" and gets really excited when he pulls the lever that plays all the music. That never seems to get old. To him anyway. I can't tell you how many times a day I've heard the Alphabet Song.

He loves to scoot around in his walker and chase Tess all over the house. He's getting pretty fast and can go from the dining room to our bedroom in no time. Colton adores the dog and shrieks with delight whenever she comes near him. She's a good sport and lets him pull on her ears and grab her fur. He also loves when Gregg plays Peek-a-boo with him and makes funny noises. He really likes the wind up to whatever noise comes next. Nothing can make him laugh like his daddy.

Colton's figuring things out during mealtime, too. I introduced him to the sippy cup and mostly he enjoys just chewing on the handles, but once in a while he does recognize that he needs to bring the spout up to his mouth in order to get the delicious juice inside. He also bangs it around on the table and highchair tray. So far he's tried Puffs, Cheerios, and those biter biscuits. He likes the biscuits best because they're easier to hold (and probably taste better). He can grab the other things, but rarely actually gets them in his mouth. They usually end up either stuck to his hand or on the floor.

He's still pretty even tempered, but he has started to assert his own independence. Especially during feedings. He insists on holding the spoon and has a mini- meltdown if you take the spoon away. So he gets one to play with, and I feed him with another. Colton will definitely let me know if he is finished eating or doesn't like what I'm trying to give him. The battle of the wills is beginning!

During this last month, he started moving around a lot more also. The baby bathtub now has to be used exclusively in the bathroom, because he'll kick water everywhere in the kitchen. He twists and turns on the changing table so much that it's hard to get his diaper on! Now I know why they made those changing pad straps. Oh, and Colton can also grab the tabs and pull them off now (not that he actually knows what he's doing yet). I always have to have a toy available to give him so that his hands are occupied. He puts up a fuss when I hold his feet together, too. Sorry, but that poo has to be wiped off somehow!

Colton has these little "conversations" with his toys. He was babbling considerably before, but now there's inflection in that babble. It is so adorable! But the biggest triumph of all... he can tolerate being on his tummy for at least twenty minutes!! So he may actually crawl someday after all. While on his tummy, Colton pushes himself up and reaches for toys. I am so proud of him. I'm excited to see what this next month has in store!

Playing on his tummy!

Sitting up in the Pack 'n Play.

Enjoying his yummy biscuit.

He was absolutely enthralled with the laundry basket one day. Who needs toys, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I have always been amazed at the miracle of conception and birth. It is so fascinating and just incredible. Now that I have a child of my own, I am even more in awe of the whole thing. The fact that Colton was once this tiny cluster of cells that divided and eventually formed into a baby... it's awesome. Before November 29, 2007 (or thereabouts) he didn't exist. He was just a thought, a dream. And then he was created and became a human being, with all this capacity for learning and potential to do great things.

I am even more amazed and continually thankful that he is healthy. That everything developed over those nine months just as it should. In an earlier post, I mentioned stumbling across a blog of a young mother who lost her newborn son just minutes after he was born because of a rare genetic disorder. Her story has forever changed the way I look at my child. This mom is the same age as me, whose son was due almost three months after Colton. While I was picking out paint and furniture for the nursery, she was choosing a casket and burial plot for her little boy. While I was recognizing my son's two month "birthday", she was grieving the loss of hers and all the birthdays that would never come to pass.

In her writing, she talks about wanting her son's short life here on earth to matter. He may have only lived a mere 16 minutes, but his life did have meaning. It had weight. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for giving me a perfectly healthy son, who hasn't had anything more than a cold since he was born. Yet it can be so easily taken for granted. I know now that some parents don't get to take their babies home from the hospital. That instead of planning for the most wonderful time in their lives, they have to prepare to face the most indescribable grief and pain.

I've been having dreams lately about having a second child. I think my desire to have another baby is finally beginning to outweigh the fear I feel about going through a C-section and possibly PPD again. I think I can do it. When Colton enters the "terrible twos", I might be singing a different tune. But for now, I'm starting to believe everything will be okay the second time around.

I don't know how to explain the discrepancy between the joy I feel at mothering my son and the apprehension I have towards bringing another child into this world. It just doesn't make sense. I can't fully explain all the emotions I had shortly after delivering Colton. All I know is that what should have been one of the most wonderful and special times of my life, wasn't. Instead of feeling like I had added greatly to my life and family, I had a profound sense of loss. I had an overwhelming amount of anxiety about becoming a new mom. I thought anyone would be better able to take care of him than me. I was actually scared to come home on August 16 because it meant I couldn't rely on all the nurses and doctors anymore. Most moms can't wait to be in their own home again!

What I am typing probably doesn't make any sense to those who haven't been through it. I now know the incredible prize that lies on the other side of the depression and anxiety. But when you're in it, you feel like you're never going to get out. It is dark and isolating. I walked into that hospital one way and walked (or was wheeled) out totally another. I don't wish what I felt and experienced on anybody. It happened and I dealt with it, by mostly denying what I was feeling. Despite that, Colton is the best thing that ever happened to me. He is truly a gift from God. My miracle.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Winter, I'm Just Not That Into You

Snow, snow go away (and don't come back until next winter!!) Just when I think spring is around the corner, we get dumped with another several inches of snow and the temperature plummets to the teens. Ugh, I want to move back to Florida.

Winter woes aside, life is humming along nicely. Sometimes it feels like the weeks just fly by too fast. I can't believe Colton's going to be seven months old next Saturday. I am so proud of my little man, who is now sitting up all by himself! He finished trying all the Stage 1 foods a little while back, so now we've moved on to meats and bigger size jars of fruits and veggies. And the other day I gave him Cheerios for the first time. We also bought those Gerber Puffs for him to try, and today he finally got concept of picking them up and putting them in his mouth.

Colton is doing a little better at being on his tummy. He won't tolerate it for any significant length of time, but he doesn't freak out the minute I place him that way either. He is moving around so much these days, too. He scoots around real fast in his walker and twists and turns on the changing table. We've had to stop giving him baths in the kitchen because he kicks so much and gets water everywhere. I am amazed at how much he seems to be soaking up, from interacting with us and playing with his toys. I can really see him talking by the time he turns one (maybe a mother's wishful thinking?).

We finally made it for a visit to my mom and stepdad's over this past weekend. Since they're getting ready to put their house on the market, my mother is going through and getting rid of a lot of things. She gave me a bag of some stuff I still had in my old room, which included a couple of photo albums. I took a look at them yesterday and saw that there were photos of my senior prom, graduation from high school, and first day of college. I couldn't believe how skinny I was. I must have weighed 100 pounds back then, before I put on the "freshman fifteen" and had a baby. Life has changed so much since then. Some ways better, some not. I really do miss those more carefree days, when I didn't have as many responsibilities. But like most of us, I was in a big hurry to grow up.

Now I'm approaching 30 and have a kid of my own. Of course, I can't resist posting more pictures of him!

Colton's first attempt at the sippy cup. He didn't quite understand that he needed to put his mouth over the spout in order to get the juice.

I just wanted to post this one because I think it's so cute, and he really looks like a little boy here.