January 30, 2015

Toddler Fun: Bubble Play

For his first birthday, James got a set of small dishes from his grandparents, Grandma-Nana and Granpa. We’ve kept those in his drawer in the kitchen, and he’ll often pull them out and practice stirring, or placing the lid on the pots. On this afternoon, I had to wash a few dishes in the sink, and James really wanted to participate.

We brought over the “learning tower” that Alan built for us, and pulled out his dishes. I poured in a ton of soap and warm water in the big sink, and gave him a pile of bubbles to play with. We practiced washing the dishes, stirring with whisks and spoons, and even poured the bubbles and water onto the floor. Hey – at least that patch of the floor is clean! ;)

James definitely loves being included in the kitchen – this was a fun afternoon!


January 29, 2015

REI

Even a simple trip to REI turns into a fun family adventure. We’re lucky to have the flagship store here in Denver, which mans a huge building chock full of awesome, fun stuff. Sometimes we’ll stop by just to walk around, enjoy a coffee and let James explore a bit.

On this evening, we were returning a pair of gloves. I had my camera with me, and was using this as an excuse to play around while Alan walked around with James.

Something about seeing the two of them walking together, side by side… just squeezes my heart (in a good way). It just makes me marvel that – I fell in love with this man all by himself. I had a hunch that he would be a pretty awesome father, and it’s just awe-inspiring to watch him in that role. He takes such good care of us, and watching him love on James is pretty much the best. Unless he’s loving on me. THAT is the best. ;)




January 28, 2015

Our House


For those of my family members who are obligated to care, I figured I could show a little more about the "Bagley House" as it exists now. 


Our adult living room! Not anything risqué… just that we finally got parts of it DONE. The TV is mounted on the wall, the mirror is hung above the mantel… Yahoo! Zoey looks comfy, huh? 


The dining room/kitchen. We got clever about storage space, because our little apartment has approximately zero storage. Alan installed these great wire shelves in the dining room and even above the sink. We have bins from Ikea that store a variety of things - Zoey's treats, clean washcloths, clean bottles (still) and miscellaneous. We also keep our pots and pans here on hooks - super genius, in my opinion, since we have… no cabinet to store them in. 


This is our laundry nook. Clever storage solutions here too. (Alan says, "Isn't that the same picture?"Well. Yes, but I didn't have a wide enough lens to get it all. So there.)

We have a few tubs on top of the dryer, holding our iron, dryer sheets, and other laundry apparatus. We installed a yard-utensil bar on the wall to hold the broom/mops and screwed a hanging shoe rack on the wall to hold our cleaning supplies (no room under the sink). And the empty laundry baskets live in here when they're empty. Which is usually never. 



Here's our entry way. We've got hooks here (and now hooks behind our bedroom door and James' bedroom door) for coats, scarves and leashes. A shelf for bags and shoes, along with a bowl for miscellaneous stuff and hooks for keys. 


Our lovely mantle. The decor changes a bit (can you tell this was taken in the fall?), but in general, it's such a cheery place. I love mantles. 

I am still trying to dig up the new pictures of my room and James' room… we rearranged furniture and I haven't retaken photos yet. :) 

Just wanted to share! 

Toddler Fun: Foam Shapes

We picked up some foam sheets at the dollar store – nothing special. I cut out some basic shapes that James knew how to recognize, and then put them in a dish with a splash of water (not too much, as James enjoys few things more than dumping water on the floor). I spread a towel on the floor in front of the sliding glass door to capture any splashes or drips, and as a final encouragement I drew some of the same shapes on the glass with a whiteboard marker.

I showed James how the wet shapes would cling to the glass, and he was just delighted. We talked about the shapes, and he stuck every single one on the window. He didn’t seem to care about the shapes I drew with the marker – he didn’t match them up. No worries – I’m sure we can play matching some other time.


Once all the shapes were on the window and we talked about them, James took them off and started over. It was definitely a fun, no mess activity that gave us something to do on a chilly day!

January 26, 2015

Things James Says

When I ask him "How much does mama love you?" He says "Big!

And he's totally right.

He also says "Zoey-oey-oey" - not just her name, he has to say all the pieces… still. What used to be a silly nick-name is now her REAL name. When we come home in the afternoon, as I’m unlocking the door, he’ll knock on the door and at the TOP of his lungs bellow, “HI!!! ZOEY-OEY-OEY!!!”

For some reason, James thinks that elbows need kisses. So during a diaper change (when he’s on the changing table), he’ll gently grab our arms and give the elbow a kiss.

James has started picking up on our language with Zoey(-oey-oey). He’s telling her to “go lay down!” if he’s eating, or “No, Zoey!” if she is following him trying to snag a cracker, and he’s also started telling her that she is a “good girl, Zoey-oey-oey”.


Toddler Fun

When James was younger, I struggled to figure out “what do I DO with him?” I particularly remember this at around the 4-6 month mark. He wasn’t old enough yet to sit on his own, or “play”… so those days were tough on me, not knowing if I was stimulating him enough, or helping him learn and grow… Luckily, I decided to get over that and just love him to bits and pieces, sing and talk to him, and he seems to be just fine. ;)

But this fall/winter, I had a sudden realization – Holy smokes! We’re out of that tiny, floppy baby stage, and we’re swiftly approaching KID stage! I know what to do with KID stage! I love KID STAGE! (Of course, he’s a toddler first – I get that.) I think this must come from my background as an elementary educator, and my own personal connection.

ANYWAY. The important thing here, is that I had this revelation and then we were promptly hit with our winter weather, which meant a lot more time indoors (in a very small apartment). *I* started going crazy, so I figured James had to be getting restless too. Insert Pinterest boards here! We gathered some crafty-type materials, repurposed some kitchen gadgets we already had and POOF – some new activities that are fun for James, but also promotes his fine motor skill development, sorting abilities, and heck – just something new and different for us to do/talk about.

I’ll be creating separate posts on these activites and tagging them for easy reference. Feel free to copy these and try them with your kiddos!


January 21, 2015

Grace / Loss

J,

I’m writing this letter to you, and I don’t even know you.

I hope that’s okay.

Something happened today. Something so wide and deep and dark and terrifying, and my heart ripped open again, knowing just where you are.  Tears are streaming down my face, and I had to start writing to get some of this out.

You lost your baby today. I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

---

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since my miscarriage. The raw-ness of this pain, the unexpected force of the emotions that hit me today… took me right back to that impossible time.

Even now, I have sometimes unreasonable thoughts and feelings as I hear friends break their news about a new pregnancy – I cringe a bit at that very-early announcement. Don’t they know they should wait? Don’t they know anything?

And I have to remind myself: We are all on different paths. Why should she limit her joy and love just because I had a bad experience? Why not celebrate that life with excitement and shouting from the rooftops? 

In retrospect, I’m so glad we shared our joy with our loved ones during that first pregnancy. Making that next series of phone calls was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do – to break the news that instead of joy, we sat with grief. But in the midst of that abominable sadness, we had the unmistakable love and compassion of our people – our friends, our family. I didn’t have to do it alone.

Sometimes I still wonder – What did I do to deserve this?

Nothing. This was an intensely personal time for me – coming to terms with what happened. This knit me together with my husband, and my understanding of God. I’m still awed by the former and humbled by the latter.

I continue to believe that things happen for a reason. There is a thread of divine grace running through our lives, and every so often we get a chance to see it, to listen to that voice in our hearts and participate in that moment.

I’m humbled and astonished and so very grateful that in a vulnerable moment, your husband asked me a question, of all the people out there in the world. 

Did you ever experience this with your pregnancy? 

My eyes widened, and I briefly shared my experience with my miscarriage.

He mentioned that he thought everything would be okay, that you had a doctor’s appointment scheduled later that day. And I knew – I know – I couldn’t possibly imagine going through that alone if I didn’t have to. And you didn’t have to. I saw that quicksilver moment, I felt the nudge encouraging me to speak up. 

Go to her appointment. If all was well, it would be a reassuring check-in for both of you to see that fuzzy black and white picture, flickering heartbeat and all. And in the course of a life, what does missing an hour of work for an appointment matter?

But if it was the worst thing – at least you would be together. At least you wouldn’t be there in that office trying to navigate alone.

And while I don’t have a perfect phrase or Hallmark card or casserole to “fix” this, I’m incredibly grateful that my experience allowed me to pass on that spark. The knowledge that of all the things in the world, the best thing we have is each other, especially in times of deepest sorrow and dizzying joy. 

Take comfort from each other. From your beautiful little daughter. In time, from the joy, beauty, goodness, hope and love in the world. 

I’m here. We’re all here, us mothers (and fathers) who have lost a babe. Quietly holding a light for you, holding space for you and your lost little one. Giving you room for your grief and your love, your pain and your hope.

I want you to know that you might feel alone – very, very alone – but you’re not alone. Many of us have quietly borne this burden. The anguish of replacing joy with sadness. The quiet grieving, despairing questioning, hot anger, and inescapable helplessness watching our partners find some way to deal with the pain, too.

Give yourself the room and grace you need to heal. This takes time. This is not trivial. It’s not silly to feel what you’re feeling – whatever that is during any particular moment.

It feels
impossible – insurmountable – unsupportable
to make it through the next moment, hour, day, week.

Take one breath at a time. There is no one right answer. You can focus on the next right thing, and not have to take it all on at once. You can lean on those who love you. There are no expectations, no deadlines, no right answers. If you want to talk or share – do. If you want to quietly process – do.

Be gentle with yourself.



---

In the midst of all of this, I had to write about my own experience in November of 2011. This brings me a sense of comfort to remember, and to know that I’m still here. That things did get better.
---

I knew something wasn’t right in my gut when I dialed my best friend. I started crying as I told her about my pain and cramps. The frantic call to the nurse line, answering a litany of standard questions, and the encouragement to go to the hospital. Our hurried drive to the ER, glancing at each other and clutching each other’s hands, thinking – no way. This can’t be happening. There must be some mistake.

Shaking while I explained the purpose of our visit to the intake nurse. Trembling, and trying to hold back my fear and tears and fighting to be a grown up. And then my heart breaking when recognizing the compassion and love and pity in his eyes as he checked us in.

Waiting. So much waiting, in a cold hospital gown, in a cold hospital bed, surrounded by busy doctors and nurses, draped in the hush of a midnight emergency room. Waiting for an available ultrasound machine as I was wracked with pain and worry and fear.

I remember the irrational rage at the ultrasound technician as she gently captured images in that dark, quiet room. I have no idea how to read an ultrasound… but I know that I didn’t see that fluttering heartbeat. She wouldn’t answer my questions – why wouldn’t she just tell me? She had to wait for the doctor, she wasn’t qualified or allowed to determine any results or make a diagnosis. I wasn’t really mad at her – I was just scared and alone and hurting.

We called my mom, telling her we were at the hospital. That we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to be okay – could she come? Of course, she was there faster than I could have believed. We didn’t call anyone else. I couldn’t bear it.

The panic started to take over, and I stared at Alan desperately. What if it was the worst thing? What if it was really true?

I’ll never forget what he told me. Even if it’s the worst thing – even if it’s as bad as it can be – we’re still here. Together.  Even if it’s the worst thing, we have each other. And with that, we can do one step at a time. We didn’t know our family motto yet, but we felt it then – Forever, for always & no matter what.

My mom clutched my hands too, reminding me where I came from – the love and strength calmly reflected in her eyes. I can only imagine her own pain and frustration and sadness, being there, watching us go through this.

You see, I had no idea to even consider this as a possibility. I grew up hearing the stories of my and my brother’s birth, and what my mother thought and felt while pregnant with us... She never had a miscarriage; that never entered our family’s narrative. So sure, I knew it was out there. But I never ever thought it would play a part for us.

That’s the longest wait we’ve waited. For someone to read the results of that ultrasound, for someone to come in and tell me what I already knew. What I was too scared to say out loud.

The doctor breezed in – he didn’t know us. He delivered the diagnosis - It was determined as fetal demise – a miscarriage. He was so sorry. He would make sure someone from my doctor’s practice came in to talk about next steps.

The air was sucked out of me.

It was the worst thing – it was the worst thing.

The enormity of it yawned in front of me. The grief, the sadness, the anger, the frantic thought – Please God, I hope that baby knew how much I loved him. I hope he didn’t leave me for lack of love – I never even got a chance to start, to show that love.  We barely got started. Questions started crowding in. What did I do wrong? What if we aren’t able to conceive at all? Is Alan mad, that I lost our baby? Did we do the wrong thing, sharing our excitement and joy so early on – announcing our news to family and friends, busily dreaming and making plans? What do I do now?

Luckily, a doctor from my practice was on call. She immediately reassured me that there was nothing I could have done wrong. The baby stopped growing at 8 weeks, and sometimes pregnancies just don’t continue. She knew we were healthy ourselves, and explained that more than likely we would be able to conceive a healthy child in the future. She outlined our options for how to continue. Let nature take its course. Take a medication to force my body to expel the tissue. Go in for a procedure to scrape the tissue out manually. Who is ready for this kind of decision? There’s no coach for this, no preparation.

I chose the medication, and then Alan and I went home to my parents house so I could grieve my loss, and labor my way through to the other side. Back to being just me inside myself. Back to before. Back to nothing I knew any longer.

I thank God desperately for my parents. Being there for not only me, clinging to their hands to get me through the agony, but being there for Alan too. Who didn’t know how to help me bear that – who was suddenly bearing his own grief and pain.

We made it through, together. We saw the start of our new path. Bare, raw, uncharted. Hopeful.

---

And you know the rest. How we’ve been incredibly blessed with the arrival of James, and the love of friends and family. Thank you for being here for us, then and now. 


January 19, 2015

National Western Stock Show

James is finally old enough to really enjoy fun activities! As in, he can walk and participate as opposed to being a bump on a log. ;)

When we heard about the stock show, I wasn't familiar. Turns out:

The National Western Stock Show takes place during the month of January in Denver, Colorado. The 16-day show serves as an entertainment arena, hosting one of the world’s richest regular season professional rodeos, the “Super Bowl” of Livestock Shows, nationally recognized Horse Shows and Colorado’s largest Western Trade Show.
Well. 

James loves: animals (especially the farm variety), trucks and tractors… This was kind of a no-brainer. Plus, we got a discount on the tickets through work! Yippee! 


We decided to go during our MLK Day holiday from work. Since we both worked over the holidays (I picked up Christmas Day, Alan took New Year's Day), this was our first "holiday" in a long time! It was soooo nice to spend the time together, and we had a ton of fun walking around and exploring. 


We checked out a chicken coop and a sample pig barn.
They had a section dedicated to different grains. Doesn't James look THRILLED??

I was SO excited to see the bald eagle… but by the time we got over, he was hooded. Check out those TALONS.
PS. Barn owls are CREEPY. Always.
The TRACTORS! We made a point to ask for permission, and James loved getting close and "driving"!

The COWS were getting BLOWDRIED before auction, and the SHEEP were wearing jackets. 
The day involved a lot of great time being close with Daddy. 
We rounded out the trip stopping by the arena to see some of the presentation. 



January 17, 2015

Walk at Sand Creek

We discovered a nearby park that is more of a “nature” area with paths, ponds and streams. Parts of it have been under construction, but there are some neat offshoots on the main path that let you walk down to the banks of the stream and watch the ducks and geese fly in and out and forage for food. We also see some more interesting birds, like a bald eagle (!!!), hawks, herons/cranes and some colorful little birds – finches, maybe?

Zoey’s leash-walking skills have degenerated since having James – so trips like this are sometimes more annoying than they’re worth. At this point, we prefer her to be off-leash to wear her out as well as relieve us of the strain of fighting with her… oh well.

This was a nice walk right before sunset. The wind kicked up a bit, but we had fun getting out of the house and stretching our legs. Wasn’t the light beautiful? Love these images of James, as well as the sweet moments with us, too!






January 11, 2015

Things James Says


I’m astonished at how FAST James acquires language. When he first started speaking in the summer, it was super basic: Mama, Daddy, Zoey-oey-oey. (Seriously, that’s her name… not just Zoey!)

He started gathering vocabulary as we talked to him and read stories. I know at daycare he also has a ton of exposure to other kiddos, the teachers, and MORE books. I noticed that he would point to the same things over and over and over – building that repetition and familiarity so he could try them out on his own.

One of his very first words was “truck!”. Usually accompanied by that exclamation point and the most excited tone you’ve ever heard. This was followed by “bus!” “train!” and “airplane!”. I feel like he can HEAR and identify an airplane before I even register that I hear one – I think I’ve just tuned it out over time, and it’s so darn exciting for him!

The words came in clusters – learning the parts of his body all together. Learning farm animals. Learning more vehicles on the road.

Recently it’s seemed to get more sophisticated even faster – he was putting two words together “move, Zoey-oey!” or “Mama truck!” but now he’s doing 3 words and more complicated concepts. He’s discovered Thomas the Train on Netflix, so we’ve delved head-first into the world of Sodor. Eesh. When we went through a Michael’s store of all places, we found a Thomas sticker book (Over 700 stickers!) that was kind of expensive, but we decided to get it since it was such an exciting concept for him. At first he just liked looking at it, but as of today, he’ll pull the stickers off and narrate what he’s seeing. After he identifies which train it is, he’ll say hi! For example, “Spencer! Hi, Spencer!” It’s pretty adorable.

James has also embraced his sense of humor – or maybe he is just displaying it? He really thinks the concept of “Oops!” is hilarious – so when we read “Blue Hat, Green Hat” by Sandra Boynton he just laughed SO HARD, when just a month or so ago he didn’t seem to “get” it. Now that he understands “Oops!” he laughs and laughs when someone is goofy and makes a mess, or when he accidentally falls down and says “Oh no!”

Maybe the funniest thing recently is his discovery of his nipples… this is totally a pull-out-in-15-years-to-embarrass-your-girlfriend kind of story! For me, the funniest part is HOW he says the word. It’s more like “mip-puhl”, and he thinks they’re pretty funny – daddy’s too!

James is also exploring adjectives – he tells me that I’m strong when I carry him up the stairs, and he knows that a giraffe is tall. And he knows that a poopy diaper is Stinky! Yucky! PU!


I just have these moments where I’m amazed at this amazing journey that I get to witness. It’s honestly magical. And he’s not being dragged to learn, I’m not twisting his arm. He’s just unstoppable. I sense a little joy in finally being able to express himself too – James has always been a social, verbal little guy. And I sensed that when he didn’t have language  skills, he was definitely frustrated! It’s really nice to have a better sense of communication with him.

January 3, 2015

Donuts

Sometimes what we eat isn't so awesome… but sometimes, Saturday morning donuts are a must.

We've tried a couple of different places near our apartment, but came back to the (surprisingly amazing) Safeway bakery. Sometimes Daddy goes with James solo, but this time we went as a family to pick out our treat.

He's a boy after my own heart - sprinkles required!


 
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