Friday, October 14, 2011

Cute Picture Of The Day

I LOVE this pictuer of Miss Nora. The combination of so many things, including her penchant to wear this Brasilian soccer shirt whenever the mood strikes her, her adorable smile, and the fact that I see a little of myself in the sparkle in her eyes these days, all add up to this picture being sorta special to me.

She is such a joy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm 4! No Pokes!

There are times when I sincerely wonder "WHO TOLD YOU THAT?!?" when I talk to my kid.

I like to joke about blaming the schools, but this time I think I blame her grandma. Or maybe her father.

But it wasn't me.

Nora has all her immunizations.


I just wanted to make sure she was up to date, but Nora informed me "I don't have any pokes today, Mom!"

How do you tell your kid you might get a shot today?

You say "Well, we'll see..."

And then your kid says "NO pokes today Mom!" with greater authority...

And then you launch into a story about immunizations and why they're important. Then you think about the CDC and why immunizations ARE important. And about all your friends that may or may not feel about it like you do, and how it's even become a political topic, and how your nursing training so far has done nothing but show that the benefits outweigh the risks A Bazillion:1, but you're being trained to support the decisions of whatever parent you come into contact with who decides otherwise for their child.

So yeah.

No pokes today.

Miss Nora came in at 43 inches tall. 36.5 lbs. That's the 97th percentile for height and 63rd for weight.

And she took her first eye test.

And she sees (and is as tall as) a 5-year-old.

And she got to tell her doctor "I'm FOUR!"

My little string bean is four.

FOUR!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our Girl is FOUR!

Miss Nora is four years old today! I LOVE this picture because my Mom (aka Bestema) called right before 9 a.m. (Nora was born at 9) and sang Happy Birthday into the phone.

This was Miss Nora's expression as she listened!

We took her to the zoo today -- it was pretty wet out there, but we had fun anyway. I could see my breath today -- it was that cold at 11 a.m., and then it's supposed to be 85 on Tuesday! Weird!
Anyway, Nora told every zoo employee she came in contact with (the ticket seller, the ticket taker, the lunch ordering guy, the gal who brought our lunch, and the info booth volunteer) that it was her Birthday and she is FOUR!
It really is fabulous being four, and it's just as fabulous if not moreso -- watching her BE four.

When we got home we opened a few presents -- her Auntie Laura in Denver sent a couple of great Amelia Bedlia books (both have been read already), and we gave her a couple of little presents -- an Abby Cadabby plush doll and a Muppet Movie (she loves musicals).
Later this next weekend, we're having a family party in Seattle for Miss Nora's grandparents, aunts and uncles to gather, but we also had a little thing at her school that was a big hit.

Turns out if you show up at a preschool with pizza, cupcakes, balloons and funny hats, you are The Best Parents Ever.
Yesterday we gave her her bicycle (since we had rain in the forecast today) and she was thrilled to have a Buzz Lightyear bicycle -- and rode around and around with Daddy not far behind!

A few turns around the block and she asked Daddy "When can I ride my bike to school?"

Uh, in about 10 years.

Or whenever Mom dies.

Whichever comes first.

OK, I will live and let her go sooner. Just not for a while...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 In Oregon - The 10-Year Memorial

This week has been a long one. That kind of thing that just sort of hangs out there...waiting to be given its due attention, but one you want to avoid.

Like any anniversary of something sad, for me anyway, I find myself wondering why I might be a little sadder than usual, or why I avoid a spot on the calendar. For me, the entire month of June is often lost in me wondering why I feel a little down...then July 7, the date my son Jacob was stillborn, rolls right around with the fireworks that come with it the week before, and with the flash bang of an M-80, it all comes back to me.

It's just that realization of "Oh. Yeah."

I've been pretty fastidious about avoiding another viewing of the Trade Center's plane crashes and subsequent toppling from 9/11/01. I honestly can see it so clearly in my head, I have absolutely no need to see it on television.

Ever again.

But then today came. And my friend Jenny was in labor and had her twins today, and 9/11 got saved from its depressing date to a happy one, and I found myself suddenly willing and able, in the light and happiness of new life today -- to be able to go and walk among the thousands of flags flying in Riverfront Park in Salem, Oregon.

I knew no one personally who died on 9/11, at least not that I know of.

I had several friends and family of friends who died that day. One of them was Fred Cox, my friend Kristen's friend from Arizona, who had recently moved to New York and talked his way into a job in Tower 2 at the World Trade Center.

I blogged about Fred 5 years ago as part of the anniversary of 9/11 project 5 years into it, and interviewed many friends and loved ones of Fred. So today I went looking for his name, and there it was.

It's funny how you don't know someone personally, but in some small but profound way you think of them here and there. His mantra of "Do what you love, love what you do" has stuck with me over the past few years as I've recreated a new career for myself in nursing.

I almost missed the flag pavillion that was put up in the park just due to my wanting to avoid 9/11 up til today. But as I returned home from dinner with a friend in McMinnville, I was on the bridge into Salem, and the bright lights made me move a lane over and head into the park, which had several people still milling about.

These flags are MUCH taller than they appear -- maybe 7 or 8 feet in height -- and you can easily walk among them. They stretch for many many acres of the large city park, and just getting to it and getting the feel for all the names, all the lives they represent, and then you start thinking of all the lives impacted by their death and if you can't at least get a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, I'd question your humanity.

I saw in there several memorials left by previous visitors, including this picture and a simple "Uncle Paul". Others were more ornate, with a small poem or a batch of flowers.

I search for some meaning in what happened 10 years ago. I look at the toll it's taken on our country, both financially and emotionally, and I won't even "go there" about the political part.

The amazing thing that I took away from today though, has been a bit of watching news snippets of the acts of individual bravery -- of a woman who ran TO the WTC and started hauling people out of the buildings. Of all the stories of people reaching out to each other, whether they were homeless people or first responders.

I hope everyone takes a minute to recognize just how precious and short life can end up being, and take the time to love their families especially, but to reach out to those who need it and give that little bit more.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Day I Became A Duck

My sister-in-law Julie has season tickets to the Oregon Ducks, since she couldn't make it, and she knew I'm about to head back into a busy school year, she gave me the tickets.

We tried to find a sitter, but we couldn't...then Nora was all sick last night so it was just as well that Brian stay home with Miss Nora...and I took my friend Stephanie from school instead.

We had a perfect timing in getting out of town, navigating crazy traffic to Eugene, and then getting through park-n-ride stuff to the stadium itself.


It was super hot (upper 90s) and we had a top of the endzone view of the stadium. What was nice is a VERY good breeze kept blowing, and I took the water fan with me, and we just chug-a-lugged Gatorade and water to stay cool.

The best part was a 69-20 win over Nevada. Nothing makes you bond with those around you like high-fiving more and more people around you as the game goes on!

I went to the University of Washington for my Bachelor's Degree...and it was funny to go to Oregon, even though my Dad was a Duck. The guys behind me were talking about the Pac 10 (now Pac12 as of this year) and I mentioned being from Washington, and he said "Well, thanks for wearing green!"

No problem.

Don't get me wrong. I won't be rooting for the Ducks over Washington...but I did thoroughly enjoy my day in Eugene and seeing the excitement of a large crowd, and being part of a great game!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Old Things That Hang Around

We have made so many trips to the zoo in the past few years with Miss Nora, that I just noticed that I still have the "zoo list" that has been posted on a kitchen cabinet for a long time!

It still has "dipes/wipes" as something to take with us.

It's funny how now that she's completely potty trained, we can leave the house with nothing at all but maybe a beverage or perhaps a small pack of wipes in case we want the convenience of an easy cleanup.

How fast it goes!

Friday, September 02, 2011

My Girl Nora The Explorer

Last night we went over to my brother's house to have a dinner with my niece Hannah who's headed off to college in Chicago...

My Mom went and got Nora early in the afternoon, and she spent some time at their house before we came over for dinner.

During dinner, Hannah told us that while she was Skyping with her boyfriend Rudy in Guatemala, that Nora and her were on the webcam together, so she said to say "Ola", and Nora says "I SPEAK SPANISH!" and then proceeds to say "FELIZ COMPLEANOS!"
Then today, we went to the Science Factory in Eugene, and we met a family with a little girl who speaks both English and Spanish. I sat on the bench with her Dad, who is also bilingual, and we started talking about our kids. He's also an older Dad, and it was just a hoot to hear Nora and the little girl talk to each other. Nora said "OLA! I SPEAK SPANISH!" Fortunately for everyone, the little 6-year-old said "HI! I SPEAK ENGLISH!"

It was absolutely a bilingual laugh riot.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

5 Years, My Darling Boy.

I spent the day working at the hospital doing my work experience summer thing for nursing school.

I got to float to the intermediate care unit with my nurse, and help some very sick patients. I even had one tell me he loved me today. It was cute and funny, considering his age and sense of humor, but hey, I did save his bacon when his BP took a dive, so I guess I did earn it.

Today is 5 years since Jacob's birth and loss. (For those of you who haven't been around that long, my son Jacob was diagnosed with a fatal diagnosis of Trisomy 18 in my 20th week of pregnancy with him. He was stillborn at 22 weeks after 30 hours of labor at a hospital in Colorado, where we lived at the time). Considering this was after 3 miscarriages, to say the loss was devastating would be stating it pretty accurately.

As much as I didn't really want to work today, I thought it was a fitting tribute to my boy that all the progress in the past 5 years helped me build towards a new career that could help others.

My experience with Jacob and his loss, while not the only thing that made me a nurse, certainly gave me some knowledge and compassion towards people that I wouldn't have if I hadn't gone to that hospital and dealt with the incredibly kind nurses who saw me through what was arguably the hardest thing I've ever been through. Along with the losses, the weeks I spent in the hospital with Nora was what really taught me that I could be a nurse, as I was in there for five weeks (with placenta previa), and actually got to see what nurses do, and realized I could do it too.

And yet, those nurses at the hospital in Colorado, who assured me through 30 hours of labor that I would get through this, that we were ok, that everything we were doing was the right thing to do under the circumstances...they really saved me in those days.

I know now as I assure a patient through a procedure as I did today, to take someone's hand and look in their eyes and tell them I'm sorry it hurts (even if I'm not causing the pain), that just showing them the compassion that I actually care about them -- THAT is a large part of what nursing is all about. It amazes me how sometimes nursing gets to be so technical that people forget the connection part.

Really, just a few moments of caring and showing that you're thinking about what's going on with them and that you want to alleviate their suffering -- goes far in helping a patient feel confident in who you are and that you're not just a med dispenser.

So after my 12 hour shift, Miss Nora hugged me extra tight tonight, and I spent a little time with her before putting her down. We sang The Beatles "I Will" song together at the top of our lungs, and the part where I sing

"And when at last I find you,
Your song will fill the air,
Sing it loud so I can hear you,
Make it easy to be near you.

For the things you do, endear you to me,
Oh you know I Will.
I WILL!"

And as I sang the "make it easy to be near you" she swooped in for a kiss.

A good day.

Love you son. You know I always will, and even when I move on, it's because I do it in large part as a tribute to you.

--- Mom.

Monday, June 13, 2011

LUPINES

Oregon's summer has been abyssmal so far. ABYSSMAL.

HORRIFIC.

RIDICULOUS.
I have low standards for this state. I expect it to rain from mid-September THROUGH April, without end. But by May, we're supposed to get a break.
And there has been little, if any, break. Instead it's been rain, rain, and more rain. And lots of what I call "psycho weather days" where it starts one way, is predicted to be another, and turns out to be something else entirely.
I don't like to complain about the weather. I was, after, all, raised in the Pacific Northwest for most of my life, even if I wasn't born here. But really...this is just kinda stupid.
Nora says funny things in the car. If she sees sunny skies she'll say "we can play outside today!" and if she doesn't, she says "we'll play in the gym today!"

Then sometimes she groans a bit and says: "Another gym day, Mom..."

To which I say "Welcome to Oregon, kid..."
I got through my first year of nursing school this past week (another post to come)... and with it came some time off, and today, a bit of good weather.

And today came a few nice days with the Lupines, who were planted with the other wildflowers last year when our tree fell down.

AND, today, for the first time, Miss Nora saw me taking a picture and said "Take a picture of me Mom?"

Who says no to that!?!?

Not me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another First: The First School Thing.

Miss Nora, so proud to be with her Bestema, is dressed and ready for her first school event.

I don't know about you, but I was doing fine up til the day of Nora's first school thing.

About a month ago, in amongst the various things that come home from school or arrive in the mail, was a note for us to come to the Spring Program, including the kindergarten graduation.
But the day of Nora's first school event came, and suddenly I found myself all choked up about it.

My kid was going to stand up in front of everyone and sing with her class...and I was going to be that dorky parent in the crowd, choking back the tears.

OK, well, I wasn't choking. The good news is, I actually just wiped away a few and didn't embarrass myself or anyone else, but considering what they sang first, I think I did pretty well.

When Nora got up on stage with her little classmates, the first song they sang was "You Are My Sunshine."

That was the VERY FIRST SONG I sang her out loud in the NICU when she was just HOURS OLD.
So yeah, I think I did pretty well not just busting out into open sobs...

She sang loud and well, along with her class, and I discovered that maybe that night wasn't the night to have her wear a dress with no leggings underneath, as she pulled her dress up so the whole church could see her underpants...but fortunately teacher Erin pulled it down and Nora didn't go for an encore.
...Nora was so proud to have sung so well. Bestema did the right thing by encouraging her to sing out loud "for Bestema".

Aunt Julia, who doesn't miss anyone's debut, made it too.

And I snuck into the 3rd row in the front where Nora could see me, so she knew where one friendly face was in the crowd.


Believe me, as a parent to one very borderline over-loved child, there is NOTHING more gratifying than that look on your baby's face when she picks you out in a crowd, smiles and then rejoins her group because she knows you're there.



...And afterwards, we all had pie.

Thank you Miss Nora, for being ours. Every day is a new day with you, and watching you sing and play and hug your friends and teachers tells me you're happy, and you bring happiness to others besides me.

The world is better with you in it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"When Two Vowels Go Walking...The First One Does The Talking"

My little sweet pea.

Nora's just about 4 months shy of her 4th birthday now, if you can believe that.

I know I can't...

She loves her school, she loves life...and as it turns out, her ABCs.

I've been working with her on Starfall.com, an awesome website that helps teach children to read.

I read somewhere it was originally set up by the parents of a son who has autism, and that it helped him learn how to sound out words when other methods failed.

It's been amazing to watch Miss Nora as she learns her letters and the sounds they make.


Tonight is Brian and my anniversary and we had a very long day today -- I had an exam this morning (my last one for the term, before the final), and then an afternoon seminar.

We decided to go to Applebees for dinner -- a favorite spot for us as they have great deals on dinner for two, and Nora gets taken care of with a good kiddie menu.

While we were waiting for dinner, I wrote "I love Nora" on a napkin, as Brian was talking about working on letters and words with Nora, and I turned it towards her and said "What does this say?" and she said "LOVE!" and then I said "What else does this say?" and she said "NORA! That's ME!"

We also spelled out some other words, like CAT and MOM, and she got those right too. A few others as we started to sound them out, she followed.

It is truly amazing to see your little one start to read and sound things out. I tucked the napkin away, and she looked at me like she wasn't sure what I was doing, and I just said "Sorry kid, but that's going into the fossil record."

Someday, we'll cover what fossils are...

My little girl isn't a baby or even a toddler anymore.

She says "I do it, Mom!" or "I do it by my own!" when she wants to do something by herself.

We went to the shoe store afterwards and she tried on several pairs of summer sandals and picked one becuase they were "just like Mommy's" and when Brian tried to bring out a navy blue pair, she very clearly said "Those are for boys, Dad."

She chose Hello Kitty accessories and cute sandals, and said "Thank you Daddy" at the end of the night.

Such a sweet pea.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

March for Marx Brother #6, Wait. March for BABIES!

Miss Nora and I got ourselves dressed up and headed out for the March for Babies this morning!

I joined my friend Patti, her sister, and a couple of nurses from the hospital, and we walked around Bush Park, at which point we split up.

I had to study more today, so I didn't have time to do the full 10K, so we did the 3K part around the park.
Nora and I then went to the park's playgrounds and played a little before heading home.
It was a great day, and I raised $500 from so many people who were kind enough to donate.

Thanks again to all of you who chipped in!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

School Picture Day

Nora loves her school.

She loves her teachers and her friends Belle, Maddie and Brinkly.

She tells me about how she sits next to Julian at lunch, or how teacher Amy will rub her back during nap time, which puts her to sleep.

She loves "Show & Tell" (it's only on Fridays, but she think she has to take a toy everyday, and I don't stop her).

She loves play time, story time, and her new ability to wear pigtails.

She also loves wearing an "undershirt like Mommy does" -- since I wear my scrubs at least four days a week, and she sees me wear my white shirt under my uniform because it's so cold.

So here's my little darlin'. Three and a half years old, who makes me laugh every day, makes me smile every day, and when I see this school picture, I get a little misty.

When they say "They grow so fast," truer words are never spoken.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Things That Make Me Look Back & Laugh:

I was searching old e-mails in hopes of finding a quilt pattern I need to take up, and found the following e-mail, sent 9/5/07, just 12 days before Miss Nora was born:

" Hi Everyone!

I just spoke with Dr. P. -- he stopped by late today and apologized for taking so long. We had our ultrasound yesterday (Brian was able to stick around here for it before going out for work, thankfully!) and our girl is looking good. She's estimated to be 4 lbs., 5 oz so far, and while her head and abdomen are measuring "right on", her legs are Mohrs...measuring 2 weeks ahead!

Dr. P said she is "looking fantastic" and is in the 66th percentile (just above average) for size, and weighs about 1937 grams. He said if I have a significant bleed at this point, they won't wait to take the baby now that we're closing in on 33 weeks, because "your baby is going to be just fine."

Those words are just music to my ears.

Brian is on his way home from Bend tonight. Mom & Miriam came up to see me for several hours today, and I'm still working on Miriam's quilt.

Attached is a grainy pic of our girl -- chubby cheeks and all. I hope you can make it out, although to be truthful it looked like a Rorsach test to me more than anything until the tech pointed everything out.

Love and hugs to you all!

Jules:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Chair Day

Miss Nora's child-sized rocking chair we bought so many years in Denver finally broke down enough that we couldn't use it anymore...

That little chair I bought when I was pregnant the very first time way back in 2002, ended up sitting in our basement in Denver for five years before we moved here, and Nora finally could use it...

But the other day, that chair, which was old, falling apart, and had been fixed by several people without much in the way of woodworking skills, pinched Nora's fingers, and frankly, she'd outgrown it anyway.

I got online at Amazon and found this chair on sale at Amazon, and there were several design choices and Nora chose this one...We ordered it Tuesday and I told her it would take a couple of days. I didn't mention it again.

The thing that really amazed me was when I picked her up at school today, I said she got something in the mail today, and she said "MY CHAIR!"

She remembered!

It's amazing to me how she can recall things from days earlier, with no real prompting. It just shows me how she's growing up!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Break

Boy howdy, this Spring Break turned out differently than we originally planned, but well worth the road trip!
Nora and I went south to California, originally with a trip planned to get spoiled rotten at my Aunt Kathy's for a few days, then going to San Francisco by ourselves (over my birthday), and then home...

But upon arrival (literally within a few minutes), my uncle, who had been sick for a while, got an initial diagnosis of something relatively contagious, and we decided that Nora especially would be best not seeing him, so we ended up checking into a hotel in Sacramento.


A few days of seeing the sights, and spending LOTS of time at my cousin Mark's house (his wife Cindy is just frankly, one of my FAVORITE people after this trip), Nora got LOTS of face time with Cindy & Mark's youngest kids...

...and we got an epic storm in Sacramento that all but blew the doors open on the hotel we were staying in!


When Brian arrived, we had one last afternoon touring the Sacramento museum of trains (It's the Colorado State Railroad Museum, WELL worth a few hours of your time if you're in the area).

Then it was off to San Francisco with us for the rest of our time off.


The floods were AMAZING, and when Brian flew in on Sunday after we'd been there a few days, he said the whole Sacramento Valley was flooded!

My mom-in-law had arranged for Nora and me to stay at a hotel in downtown San Fran, so we all got to stay literally a half block from the gate to San Fran's Chinatown at Bush & Grant streets!


Monday we drove in and got a lucky day at the zoo (more pictures may follow, but suffice to say, it was our "sunniest" day in SFO considering the spring climate) and Tuesday was my birthday, and we got to spend an entire day in the city, starting at Coit Tower.



We parked our car and took buses and street cars for all of our visit, and ended up touring an apartment on Telegraph Hill.

We walked around an apartment with an open house near Garfield Street, which let us in on a little factoid: For only $359,000, a 700 square foot apartment could be ours in a VERY desirable neighborhood! LOL
>...After that little reality check, we stopped at a Lombard Street deli for sandwiches and goodies, and walked the rest of the way to the Pier where we could see the sea lions and enjoy our lunch. We then went to Ghirardelli Square, and bought a little chocolate, and then took the street car "home".
We weren't done with our day yet though, as we walked through Chinatown and shopped enough to buy Miss Nora a Chinese umbrella, and find her a place to play at a local park.

aThen we went to a Pizza place (Uncle Vito's) near the hotel, where a TWIN set of women in their 80s came to eat in the window seat near us. They said they were from Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is where MY MOM is from. MOM remembered them! She said they used to walk in step together! When I showed her the picture, she recognized them!!



Our last day we checked out of the hotel and headed north. We meanedered across the Golden Gate Bridge, then had lunch in a wine town North of SFO, and headed towards the northern California Coast.

We stayed in a rather obscure little cabin not far from Arcata, CA. It was one of those strange little off-the-road combination cabin/gas station/mini-mart places with (in this case) great service and friendly staff.
And finally, last Thursday evening, we drove the rest of the way home.

I'll tell you, the difference between this year and last is Nora's travel aptitude -- I did SFO by myself with her last year and she was only 2.5 years old...this year, she REMEMBERED the playground in Chinatown and was VERY active in deciding where we went, and very excited about our plans.

She traveled very well!

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