24 December 2008

Snowed in for Christmas Eve

We were snowed in today. We were supposed to go to Dave's folks' for our Christmas Eve celebration, but the weather was not cooperative. In fact, the weather has not been cooperative all season. Above is a picture of the front of our house. We have a wrap around deck that extends across the entire front side and wraps around the porch to the back of the house. As you can see in the picture the snow is as high as the deck. Our windows in the front of the house sit lower than the snow line right now. We are continually shoveling a pathway from the front door down the stairs and out to our car. I am used to snow. I grew up in a lakeshore community where "lake effect" was a term that was well known and dreaded, but I have never experienced snow quite like this!

I had to rescue our mailbox this afternoon. Whenever the plow goes past (as infrequently as that happens), our mailbox is knocked off its post and goes flying into the ditch. This often results in us not getting mail. Today when I went down into the ditch to retrieve the box, I promptly found myself in snow past my waist. I got a little panicked when I realized how deep I was in and that the embankment that led back to the road was as high as my head. It was a significant struggle but I managed to get both myself and the mailbox back onto the road.

Below is just a nice picture of the pond on the side of our house. It looks so beautiful . . . Oh, and if the pictures look a little "blurry" it is because it was, of course, snowing when I took them today.
So, how did we amuse ourselves in our snowbound state? Well, I made chex mix so that we could at least enjoy a typical treat we get at family get togethers. We watched a couple of movies and I finished wrapping the last couple of presents. But we also were privileged to some new "Chloe-isms."

Chloe says the darndest things sometimes. The other morning she was still covered and I was feeding the baby on the couch. Chloe started talking to me to try and convince me to get her up for the day, but I was preoccupied with Sylvia. I am used to her "hellos" and "whatchyadoin's" but when I heard "It's time to get up!" that got my attention!

This morning she announced that "Chloe is a girl." And when Dave filled my glass a little too full of milk Chloe informed us "That's a problem." This bird just cracks me up sometimes.
We also managed to get in several loads of laundry today. Folding the clothes involved sorting out Sylvia's 0-3 month items to box. This made her daddy so sad when he found her shirt that says, "I'll always be daddy's little girl." He placed it over her little body and told her that while the shirt is now too small the sentiment remains the same.
And Sylvia got some quality time with Mama today as well. I noticed her looking, actually looking at and studying, her hands today. I went to get her wrist rattles, so that is what she is wearing in the pictures.

This has not been our typical Christmas Eve and we were quite disappointed that our plans had to be altered (again!) because of the weather, but we still managed to have a nice day with just the three of us (well, twelve, if you count all the indoor animals).

22 December 2008

Merry Christmas To All!

Sylvia is finally feeling much better. This morning we were talking together and she was just so happy. I simply had to take some pictures. Almost every single shot I took she was smiling. It was too cute. She is too cute. Her multicolored giraffe came from the Dutch family and the colors match her nursery perfectly. Other "big" news is that I washed all her 3-6 month clothing today and boxed most of her 0-3 month. She is a little small in weight for the 3-6 but she is so long, so I decided to say goodbye to the smaller size and start her on the larger. My, how time flies!

And from our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. Stay safe and warm and enjoy this blessed holiday.

19 December 2008

A New First

There are lots of firsts in a baby's life. Sylvia's first this week was illness. Out little pumpkin has a horrendous cold. She is so stuffed up and her cough-- Oh, her cough! It breaks her mama and daddy's hearts. This picture was taken yesterday during her happiest period of the day. I was able to play with her frog and "Ba" and make her smile a bit. Otherwise, the last couple of days have been spent in misery. The poor little pumpkin! I can just hear her thinking, "Mama, why can't you fix it? When I am hungry, you feed me. When I am wet, you change me. Now there is something really wrong with me and you aren't doing anything!"

Sylvia turned two months this past Wednesday. I was hoping to get some really cute two month birthday shots, but she was just too sick. And so, no two month birthday shots and no nine week birthday shots (today is nine weeks since her birth!).

I was supposed to take Sylvia to her two month check-up today. She was scheduled to get her first shots, but I was planning on rescheduling the shots, as she is miserable enough with the cold. No need to add salt to the wound. But when we woke up this morning we couldn't even open our front door there was so much snow! And for most of the morning and early afternoon I couldn't even see the pond in our own front yard the whiteout was so bad. And so, we canceled her appointment all together.

Tomorrow is Sylvia's first Christmas family event. Hopefully she'll be feeling better and can "enjoy" the day.

13 December 2008

8 Weeks & Sylvia's First "Friend"

It it truly amazing how quickly time does fly. Of course, part of that may be the sleep deprivation that makes everything blur together. I have been told by many that the first three months after your child is born are nothing more than a haze in one's memory. As I cannot even remember what I wore yesterday, I am inclined to agree that this assessment is indeed an accurate description of a mom's early motherhood memories. (Hence the reason for the blog!) Sylvia is indeed eight weeks, nearly two months already. She is looking more and more like a little person and less like a generic newborn. (I tend to think that all newborns look somewhat similar.)
And, okay, I am going to admit that I may be a horrible parent. First, my child already has a serious addiction. Second, I may be submitting her to inhumane treatment. But if you lived with her you would indulge her addiction and take the same course of action as I have. This girl is completely addicted to her pacifier. Let me explain in detail:

First, there is only ONE type of pipe that she will take. It CANNOT be found in stores. She got it from the hospital and I had to hunt it down online to get more.

Second, she wants to suck nearly ALL the time. And no, not even sleep can tear her away from this pipe. She will fall asleep with it in and we will watch her continue to suck even when she is completely passed out. When I go to remove it she quickly latches on for all she is worth-- in her sleep!

Third, she sucks the living daylights out of this thing and as a result spits it right out of her month because she is sucking so hard. This makes the average in-mouth duration only a mere second or two, five seconds if we are really lucky. And of course, when she loses the pipe she SCREAMS.

So, as you can see, this girl is a pipe-aholic. And she was running me ragged with her inability to keep the pipe in her mouth. I simply could not take it anymore, and so, the above picture reveals my previously named "inhumane treatment." A little piece of elastic and suddenly that pipe can sometimes stay in for twenty minutes straight. (She does still manage to spit this one out of her mouth too!)

And, finally, Sylvia's friend is Cora. We met Cora's parents through a "new parent" type class. Jen and Luke have a number of similarities with Dave and me and our daughters are just a few weeks apart in age (Cora was born the 25th of September, Sylvia the 17th of October). It's been fun watching the two babies together. Sylvia had her fist near Cora's mouth and Cora just started sucking on it as if it were her own. Meanwhile Sylvia is a BIG TIME fidgety child and would constantly slap Cora across the face. Ahhh . . . Must be the makings of a long-term friendship!

10 December 2008


Dave loves being a dad. The other night I caught him and Sylvia "dancing the night away" together. It was too cute.
I think Sylvia even kind of liked it. She didn't cry in protest and for her that is saying something!

In other news we have snow. LOTS of snow! Our neighbor did an unofficial measurement but we have 18" on our porch. Because of how our house is positioned I had to go out after 10:00 p.m. last night and shovel our front door free there was so much snow. The weather people say that we should get a break now, and I hope so. At least, for a while. We did, however, find someone to plow our driveway. He was the cheapest we found by a long shot, but it is still quite a bit of money . . . Alas, a not-so-nice "perk" to living in the middle of nowhere.

And in Sylvia news, and news I am hesitant to share for fear that it will "jinx" us, Sylvia has been sleeping 6+ hours at night! She is cranky from about 8-12 but then after that she is out until 6 or 6:30. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have a quiet house for almost the entire night. Next week Friday is her two month check-up (two months already!) and her first shots. I am not looking forward to that experience. I cannot stand hearing my baby cry. It just breaks my mommy heart.

06 December 2008

Seven Weeks and Snowing

Here is her seven week picture. Isn't she cute? She is getting so big! We weighed her this morning (on a not very accurate scale, mind you) and she came in at almost ten pounds. If I can figure out how to weigh her on my postal scale then we will get a very accurate weight. She coos and smiles and can stare at herself in a mirror for quite a while now. I think she is even beginning to really recognize who Daddy and Mama are.

Her onesie says, "Is it too late to be good?" We tell her yes, despite the fact that we already have all her Christmas presents.

Today Dave and I were supposed to go out to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We have movie passes and were going to try and find an economical dinner somewhere (we're kind of poor). This was also supposed to be my day of "freedom." I love my daughter but being cooped up with her in a house in the middle of nowhere all week gets to be kind of a lot. Sadly, we woke up and looked out the window and were disheartened to see that we did indeed get the predicted snow and it is continuing to fall. We are snowbound. We also need to find someone who plows by us and for a reasonable fee or else Dave won't be going to work on Monday.

These are pictures I took of our place earlier this week after a fresh snowfall. It is absolutely stunning in beauty, but brutal in isolation.

05 December 2008

Between Anniversaries

Today is our "Between Anniversaries" day. For those of you who don't know, our religious anniversary (and the "real" one) is on the 4th of December and our legal anniversary is on the 6th. (No one told us there is a three day waiting period for a marriage license in Michigan!) Typically we decorate our Christmas tree the evening of the 4th, but this year this tradition was forgotten until 11:00 p.m. last night. I had remembered all week and we were very excited about it, but then when last night came and Sylvia began fussing we were too distracted. Needless, our tree is still not decorated. Perhaps we can do it the evening of the 6th.

It's been four years already. I cannot believe that much time has gone by. Four years ago we lived in a dumpy little apartment and I was stressed to the max working in retail management. Dave was employed by both the church and a historic restoration building company. We were also both in school full time; Dave for his first bachelors and me for my second. Since then we have lived in three additional places, have welcomed 21 different animals in and out of our home (plus Frank the squirrel in our first apartment that we didn't really welcome into our home but he came anyway), Dave has had countless jobs and I have had a few myself. We have experienced one pregnancy and now have one seven-week-old infant in our family. She is such a joy and a permanent reminder of our marriage and relationship over the years. This will be our fifth Christmas together in marriage and we are thrilled to be able to share it with Sylvia.

The changes and things we have experienced these last four years are truly remarkable and some of the stresses we have encountered have done nothing but strengthen our relationship and love for one another. In this, we have been very blessed.

28 November 2008


Happy Belated Thanksgiving! We had a fabulous holiday and it is rather exciting to share this time of year with a little one. Although she does not understand what is going on around her it is still so much fun. She turned six weeks today, and while I did not manage to get an actual six week picture the one of the two of us is from yesterday morning. I figure five weeks, six days is close enough! And she was wearing the most adorable outfit! It was her "Little Turkey" getup and it was just too cute.
And our daughter is really beginning to become responsive. Yesterday morning she smiled and cooed at me. It is so rewarding to finally have her respond to us. It makes my job a little more special when my child can "show" her appreciation. She is beginning to take real interest in objects and I can finally shake a rattle in front of her and she will watch and follow with interest. (See picture above.)
And this is her first dress. I just thought she was so stinkin' cute that I simply had to take a picture. She is so beautiful.

Today we went into Grand Rapids to visit another one of my favorite stores. For the first time in two months I was able to attend a cardmaking workshop. This was very good for me as it reminded me that I am still me and I do still have my own interests and hobbies. Of course, I am very eager to be able to share my crafting hobby with Sylvia and can hardly wait for her to get old enough to join me in cardmaking, scrapbooking, etc. It will be a few more years, though!

24 November 2008

One Snowy Morning

The snow is falling so peaceful this Monday morning. It is absolutely beautiful. It provides a calming effect despite the chaos inside my house right now: Sylvia is fussing, the cats are getting into trouble, and Chloe is decidedly discontented. Yet, I look outside and see the steady fall of light fluffy snow blanketing our trees and yard and it relaxes me just enough to continue with life.

And life has been busy. Yesterday Dave's Tante Ria and her son, Johan, returned to the Netherlands. I will miss them so very much. I adore Ria and enjoyed the time I got to spend with her this past week. She was so smitten with Sylvia and I am glad that she got to spend some time with my daughter.
This was the first time I met Johan, and he is a real pleasure. Neat guy, and I was amazed at how much he seemed to enjoy the baby. Not typical for a twenty-year-old, I don't think. We also went to the Santa Clause parade in Grand Rapids Saturday morning. I dressed Sylvia in her Santa shirt and her "Old Man Pants" (see previous entry), and we carted her off for the festivities.

This was how she spent the first half of the parade, but she still made out with a candy cane! (Which Daddy ate.) Then we had a bit of a catastrophe when Sylvia had one majorly wet diaper and we had to change her clothes and spent the rest of the day swaddling her in blankets because she got her snowsuit wet too. (How can a bladder that tiny hold so much fluid???) Still, we always consider her wet diapers a blessing, because it means her kidneys are functioning well. After the scare we had during the pregnancy this wet mess is actually a wonderful reassurance.
And our Saturday continued after that with a shopping trip to one of my favorite stores to meet some of my favorite people, including my dear friend, Stephanie. Then we headed for Schuler's Bookstore to meet up with my mom while Dave and my dad went to the new James Bond flick. I was thrilled that Ria and my mom got to meet and it was pretty cool to have Sylvia be with all of her Grandmas: Oma, Oma Ria, and Grandma.
And this is a special picture. Even though I look a little ridiculous (but when don't I?) I just love having a shot of Ria, Sylvia and me.

And despite my utter exhaustion I guess I am doing well. I am beginning to fall into motherhood and routines are beginning to develop. Sylvia is also becoming more responsive and that makes the job a little more rewarding. I am sad that my Christmas decorations are not up and that the Halloween stuff still is. I have ventured into the back room to get the boxes out of the closet a few times now, but each time I look at the containers and think about all the work involved and realize that I am just too tired to do it. I love having the house decked out for the holidays, but I have a feeling this year we may just have our tree and our music out and our Halloween village still in place to bring in the joyous occasion.

22 November 2008

Hanging on for Dear Life

Sylvia hates baths. I mean, she really, really, really hates baths and screams bloody murder while she is receiving one. Last night she tried a new tactic at not having to take one. Dave undressed her and was about to take her into the bathroom when he looked down and she was clinging for all she was worth to Happy Clown (my absolute favorite childhood toy). Sadly, not even Happy Clown could spare her the misery.
And here is her five week picture! Yes, five weeks. She just keeps growing and growing. The outfit she is wearing is straight from Paris, thanks to the Dutch family. (Later today or tomorrow I will post pictures of our time with the Dutch family.)

This morning we are going to the Santa Clause parade in Grand Rapids. Not so much for Sylvia, more for Mom and Dad. Don't worry. We have a friend who owns a coffee shop on the parade route so we will be inside to watch; we will not expose Sylvia to frigid temperatures. And Sylvia has the cutest outfit to wear to the parade! I can't wait to see her in it and get some pictures.

17 November 2008

Looks Can Be Deceiving

See this precious pumpkin? She looks so cute and innocent, yes? It's a lie! This girl is a terror-- and at only one month of age. (Today marks her one month birthday.) She refused to let me sleep last night and today was a repeat performance. I finally got her to sleep a little after 2:00 a.m. and then things progressed "normally" (feedings every three hours but minimal fussing) until about 11:00 a.m. At this point she remained entirely unhappy until she FINALLY snoozed at 5:00 p.m. I have had this child in my arms, in her swing, in her vibrating seat, back in my arms, and on my chest for hours at a time and she continued to be one unhappy little person.

But now I am locked in the study/work room with Radiohead playing rather loudly to try and keep the cries at a dull roar while Dave tends to her for a bit as I try and regain my sanity! Colic is no fun and I now have a deep appreciation for any parent who has dealt with this and survived. (Ummm . . . Thank you, Mom.)

The good news, however, is that we had a great weekend. Even Sylvia had a great weekend. Dave's family from the Netherlands is in the country right now and they were by to see us Saturday. Then we went up to Dave's Grandma's near Ludington yesterday to have a "practice Thanksgiving" with the Dutch family. They have, naturally, never celebrated Thanksgiving but they are leaving just a few days too early to celebrate the actual holiday with us so we did an early feast yesterday. We had a great time. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera but as soon as I get all those pictures that Ria has taken I will post a few. And, yes, Sylvia was a nearly perfect angel the last two days. Good for everyone else, but frustrating for Mom. It just figures that she will behave for other people but not her own mother. (But isn't she the cutest thing ever?)

14 November 2008

Old Man Pants

Sylvia is four weeks old already-- nearly a full month. I thought I would try out a cute pair of jeans to see if they fit her yet. They are listed as a 0-3 month item, and while some of those clothes are still too big for her, I thought perhaps these pants would fit. They looked small enough! Needless to say, they fit her like old man pants. She didn't seem to too pleased:
Olivia, one of our kittens, tries desperately to get Sylvia to pet her. Of all of our cats she is the only one to do this. I can almost hear her kitten mind in action, "You have all the right equipment, why aren't you petting?!?!" This picture is from one of her most recent attempts.
And my dad . . . He has a "moderately angry" prostrate cancer and will have surgery to have the organ removed January 12. Radiation, while technically an option, is not really an option for him. It is possible to do surgery and then radiation afterward, if needed, but it is not always possible to do radiation and then surgery. As he is so young, if that cancer should return or not go away from the radiation he may not be able to have surgery to try and rid his body of it-- seems like a pretty serious risk at only 54.

10 November 2008

Harsh Reality

Okay. So I haven't wanted to use our blog to "vent" but right now after getting no sleep for several weeks it is time that I spend a minute to try and unwind. Newborns are tough. This is no well kept secret. But in an effort to protect our friends and family who are currently expecting their first children, I haven't wanted to reveal how truly difficult some newborns can be (fortunately, only about 10-20%).

Sylvia has extreme fussiness/colic and I have NEVER experienced anything quite like this. The normal standards for whether or not a child has colic are something like the following: If more than three hours every day are spent soothing the infant to keep her from crying or fussing, if the child is gassy and constantly pulling her legs up, if no amount of soothing really seems to calm the child, and if this has been going on for three or more weeks. Medical books even describe the cry of a colicky baby and, yes, that is exactly what she sounds like. She never sleeps and she demands to be held constantly. Even when being held, bounced, swaddled with a pipe in mouth she will still fuss and carry on. It is unbearable and exhausting and I think I need a new life. (Or at the very least a shower.)

The bad news is that things will only get worse and will peak around six or seven weeks of age. The good news is that after that point things will gradually start to improve and she should be a lot more tolerable and enjoyable around twelve weeks.

There is really nothing that can be done in the meantime. All the parenting books we have looked at give the same "advice." They all say to hire someone to clean the house, to hire someone to care for the baby for a couple of hours every day so that Mom can out alone for a while, to hire a babysitter a couple evenings a week for Mom and Dad to go out, etc. Hmmm . . . Apparently only the rich are supposed to have infants with colic. Someone should have told Sylvia! They also recommend doing absolutely anything that seems to help soothe the baby. And, believe me, we have tried nearly everything!

Needless, I am very overwhelmed and I spend my days longing for Dave to get home from work so that I have someone to help me handle the baby. I love my daughter more than anything but I just don't particularly love my life right now. Things will, obviously, get better. But right now I need some really positive vibes from people! (And for those of you who call or email and I haven't managed to get back to you yet, trust me, it is not because I don't want to. It is because I can't.)

[And later today my parents meet with his urologist and will learn more regarding my dad's health. Hopefully the cancer has been caught early enough that procedures can be noninvasive and his hopes for living a cancer-free life are high.]

07 November 2008

Three Weeks Old

Today is Sylvia's three week birthday! I simply cannot believe how fast time has gone already. Here she is in one of mama's favorite outfits, given to her by her "Nana Jeanne."
This outfit is all fleece and I kind of wish I could have one like it.
The hood is the part that really cracks me up; it is just so cute!

And I even had a little, tiny bit of time to get a very minor project done. I was able to mount and frame Sylvia's 5"x7" hospital picture. This is the first "real me" thing I have done since Sylvia's birth.

And I don't want to dwell on this right now, but as everyone out there has been such a great support, I do want you to know that my dad has been diagnosed with prostrate cancer. This, obviously, comes as very disheartening news. We will know more on Monday.

04 November 2008

Milestone Pictures

These are the pictures I had wanted to add to last night's blog:
Here she is sporting her 0-3 month clothing. Her shirt, picked out by Dave, says, "I'll always be Daddy's little girl."
The Tigger is hers. It was given to her as a gift at the suprise baby shower that Daddy received from work last week.
And this is her first "action" shot: She had just "rolled" from her front to her back.

And today was her second doctor's appointment. Our little girl weighed in at exactly 8 lbs. (50th percentile), 14" head circumferance (50th percentile), and 20" long (50th percentile). She is a very average little girl! [And if you noticed that her current length is the same as her birth length the assumption is that her birth length was inaccurate.] The doctor said she looks great. She is going to start receiving some prune juice every day to help cut back on the constipation but other than that she is happy, healthy and very well loved.

And I hope everyone has voted today!!!

03 November 2008


I cannot believe how big my little girl is getting already. Yesterday I gathered all her newborn clothes, washed them, and will box them. She is now officially in 0-3 month clothing and I bet within just a few weeks those will be too small already.

By the time she was just over a week old she could already completely rotate her head while lying on her stomach. I put her down on her belly and left her for a few minutes, returned and saw her facing the other way. Since then this has become a very accomplished movement and she has a lot of control of those neck muscles. I knew that the initial rolling stages were only a few days away. Well, today she successfully rolled from her stomach onto her back. Now, I am of the opinion that this is not a real "roll" as she can use her head and limbs to kind of propel herself over but it is still pretty impressive. Now we will wait and see how quickly she figures out exactly what she did and starts doing the movement with intention like turning her head.

She is also starting to focus her eyes and we can tell she is actually beginning to look at things. Pretty cool. We put in a Baby Einstein video just to see if there would be any interest there at all, or if she would even be capable of following/seeing anything on the screen. Lo and behold! Those little eyes were glued to that screen for several minutes. Then she would look away but then she'd catch something flashing across the screen again and turn her head back to "watch."

And I was going to post new photos but the internet is not cooperating tonight. That's all right. They'll be posted as soon as possible. Besides, right now she is kind of just a blob. Cute as can be, but all those pictures really just look the same. Still, I cannot help but continue to take them. She's growing so fast and I don't want to forget a minute of it!

31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

So today was the "Big Day." Sylvia turned two weeks old, I had my first postnatal check up, and Sylvia got to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Halloween is Dave's favorite holiday and a tradition that he has been eager to begin with our family is to watch the Charlie Brown classic every year. And so this year he and Sylvia sat down together and had some quality Daddy-Daughter bonding time. Sylvia seemed to enjoy it until she got a wet diaper. Then they needed to take a little movie break.
This adorable monkey costume is thanks to Sylvia's Aunty Stephy. Aunty Stephy loves monkeys and was thrilled when she found this perfect costume for her first niece. It was HUGE but Sylvia did look oh-so-adorable! And when we took her into town for my doctor's appointment she attracted quite a bit of attention.
These are not the greatest pictures but we had a camera that was on the fritz to contend with. By the time we managed these few shots the camera completely died. [BUT we had it under warranty, took it back to Best Buy today and already have received a replacement.] These next two shots are taken with the phone camera and are not quite the same quality. After my doctor's appointment we took Sylvia to meet some of our favorite folks and sellers of some of the best coffee in the greater Grand Rapids area: West Coast Coffee on Monroe Center. These pictures are of our time there this morning.
While we were enjoying our coffee beverages Sylvia indulged in a bottle. The family that drinks together, stays together?!?!

And my doctor's appointment went well. I am indeed healing very nicely and did give driving a try today. No real pain when applying pressure on the peddles, so I am good to go! I was reminded to continue to take it easy and not push it too much; I am still recovering from major surgery. But I am feeling so much better and my pain has become quite minimal. I still need pain meds at night but most days I can manage just fine without it.

And now we are going to try to get some sleep and so I will sign off by wishing a Happy Halloween to all!