Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can you see the resemblance?

The big question with every baby is, "Who does he/she look like?" Honestly, I haven't been certain with either of my children. I see a bit of me here, a bit of Tim there. It is so fun to look at photos of Ella, however, around the same age and truly see similarities. I took some cute photos of Ezra the other day and just pulled some photos of Ella around the same age today. They are very different in the sense that she looked very feminine and he looks masculine, but I see such similarity in the cheeks, the eyes, and the mouth. So fun!

My next goal: Compare their pictures to Mom and Dad as babies!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

While Reading Alice Hoffman...

I’ve discovered a love for Alice Hoffman books over the past few years. One of the reasons I enjoy her writing style stems from the fact that it’s so different from my own. Her stories always have the mystical or supernatural about them. The characters she creates are usually in the midst of a crisis or an experience paralyzes them emotionally. They are not always likeable and are usually a bit odd, but these characteristics make them beautifully human. The point of crises tends to make them more emotionally raw and honest. Hoffman’s ability to create a world that reflects these emotions fascinates me. Her descriptions of the world surrounding her characters are often heartbreakingly beautiful. And the supernatural occurrences feel like a reflection of truth – nature comes alive, a character all its own.

I was reading the final pages of “Second Nature” this afternoon. This book is not nearly as lovely and strange as some of her other novels, such as “The Probable Future” or “The Ice Queen,” but it contains many of the elements I enjoy in her novels. Faced with crisis or loss of control, the characters become more open to their passions and less restrained by convention. Without these restraints, they behave in ways that are unconventional. Doing so is incredibly freeing, confusing, delightful, and painful. As I read, I am overcome by their passionate reaction to life and the way nature mirrors this passion.

When Hoffman’s characters fall in love amidst these circumstances, their senses overtake them. They abandon restraint and behave instinctually. Their passion is blinding, disorienting, wonderful. The results can be maddening, disastrous, delightful, and awe-inspiring. Passion consumes them. In the midst of this ardor, her characters often make choices that go against what is expected of them or cause them to behave in surprising ways. While this is a pattern amongst her characters, it does not create sameness or dull similarity. Instead, it is simply amazing how the effect of these emotions varies so greatly in her character’s lives.

Hoffman’s novels filled my thoughts as I drove alone to the store this afternoon. I considered the way an intimate connection to another person alters her character’s lives. You cannot explain what is happening to them with logic. The world comes alive instead – roses, lightening, an oddly constructed house, embody human emotion and experience.

I considered how characters can so quickly align their hearts, minds, and lives with another. How intimacy causes them to behave in unexpected ways – they are brave, niave, impetuous, and vulnerable. What once seemed important is often revealed as trivial in the face of love. I wondered what I would do for my love, how I would respond if he were threatened, what I would give up to be with him, or keep secret to ensure his safety.

I love how Hoffman’s novel invited me to examine love in this way. In truth, when I think of losing Tim, I literally wince, every time. I know I would forgive much of him, forgo my comfort for his own, and defend him in the face of logic. Before I met him, I’m not sure I could have connected to the passion felt by Hoffman’s characters. While my life does not require me to demonstrate my love in these dramatic ways, it’s amazing and wonderful to consider the passion beneath the surface, the intensity of your emotion, the beauty of the connection you feel to another person.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Bright Eyes and Daddy Gets His Wish

Our Ezra is really starting to show his personality now. I love to go in his room in the morning and peer down into his crib. He'll be fussing for you to come get him, then his entire face will light up with a grin when he sees your face. I love to peer over his toys and surprise him so he'll kick his little legs in delight and coo happily. We need to get some photos of him working on sitting up because he's very close to doing it on his own. I think it's so fun how everyone is trying to figure out who he looks like. One moment, someone will tell me how much he's looking like Tim, and the next someone else says he looks like me. I think he's mostly starting to look like Ella. I've included some recent pictures of Ezra and one of Ella at the same age. What do you think?
Ezra likes to sit in this seat while I cook. Poor guy's stuck in Ella's old pink seat.

He was smiling at me, but kept getting distracted by the camera. This photo was hard to get.

Ella in November of 2006.
Tim's birthday is coming up April 7th. We have been working so hard to get out of debt and stay out of debt for the past few years. He's wanted an X-box 360 forever, but just keeps patiently waiting until we could save up the money. With his birthday coming up, I felt like it was finally his year to get his wish. We had a few gift cards and I've been able to sell some of my Modbe display items, so I just went for it. Tim and I can never do anything simply, though, so he decided he wanted the limited edition red Resident Evil 5 version. I actually love this aspect of Tim's hobby - seeking out the rare items and finding the best deals on used games. Turned out there was one in Springfield, so I took the kids last Wednesday and we crossed our fingers that we would get there in time. We found it and had a special early birthday night for Dad. Ella loved giving Daddy his birthday present! I love my husband so much and I'm so glad he finally got his 360!

I love the look of anticipation on Tim's face!
The only wrapping we had large enough was a Christmas bag.
Ella loved helping Dad with his present.
Yeah! We've been having so much fun with this gift, playing games and watching Netflix "Watch it Now" on our tv using the X-box.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Not About Me

Recently, I've found some of my old insecurities creeping up. I had a few experiences that brought them to the forefront again and a sort of domino effect happened. I don't blame anyone for this - it's simply a reaction I'm having. The older I get, the more I believe that people don't "make" us feel a certain way. We're responsible for how we react and respond to others.

That's part of the problem with these old insecurities - they cause me to doubt myself, worry too much, and focus on the wrong things. So, instead of taking ownership of my behavior and my responses, I fret over other people's responses. I think, "She seems frustrated. Did I do something?" or "I don't think he gets what I'm saying. I should go over it again so he understands me." or "Does she like me?"

Whenever I find myself doing this, I realize my thinking is all reversed. My insecurities have made it all about me. I should think, "She seems frustrated. I should see how she's doing." or "I'm not sure we're understanding each other. I should make sure I understand what he's trying to say." or "I should get to know her better."

None of us our perfect. I'm certainly not. And I think the qualities some people love the most about me are the ones others hate the most about me. But, honestly, when I've applied the "It's Not About Me" philosophy to my life, this hasn't seemed to matter too much. While I don't want to be best friends with everyone I meet, I like just about everyone I meet with this attitude. I give them the benefit of the doubt, expect the best of them, and interact with them honestly. And, when you're doing this, other people seem to respond in turn.

With my insecurities and worries leading me by the leash, I've found myself involved in more misunderstandings, my feelings are more easily hurt, and I doubt my own intentions. Today, I wondered why I was choosing this for myself. What good is the atonement if I can't forgive myself? What good are friendships if I don't trust my friends to see the good in me? What good is progression if you're focused on the past?

I know that I will inevitably put my foot in my mouth in the future. I am sure to seem conceited or to be misunderstood. I will surely unintentionally say or do something hurtful. But my blunders don't need to define me - and they only will if I make them all about me. So, today I felt the need to express this so I could see it written out, acknowledge it, and move on. Ironically, this post entitled, "It's Not About Me" is written for me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dreaming of Dad

In my dream last night, things were completely chaotic. Nothing was quite right and, when I tried to talk to people about it, they simply looked at me incredulously. Despite my conviction that everything felt wrong, I was powerless. In the midst of this confusion and frustration, I started asking everyone if they knew where my Dad was. I moved from room to room searching for him. One room held his shirt, another his hat, and a third his coat. Each time I came across one of his things, a sense of calm came over me. I felt this serenity, as if everything would be okay. I imagined his face, the scent of him, his arms around me, and I felt safe. He was just out of my reach everywhere I went, but knowing he was near brought me comfort.

Every once and awhile, I have dreams about my Dad - he's suddenly reappeared and I go to tell people, but no one believes me, or we spend the day together, then I wake up and he's gone, or I finally find him, then wake up before I reach him. Waking up from these dreams always leaves me feeling as though I've lost him again. It's heartbreaking.

This morning was different. Since my father has been gone 15 years, I can find it difficult to recall his face. I saw him distinctly in this dream. Even though I didn't interact with him, he felt so real to me. I was truly comforted simply recalling him. I woke up feeling content.

As I was nursing Ezra in the wee hours, I thought of my dream and the impact my father had on my life. I remember thinking my dad was simply wonderful - I loved to sit with him, laugh with him, talk things over with him. Being his daughter made me feel safe, loved, and happy. I loved the timbre of his voice, the scent of his cologne, the way it felt to hold his hand. I know he wasn't perfect, but I thought he was wonderful. Ella looks up at her Dad with the same feeling in her eyes and I love it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm a Ballerina!

Ella has been a complete ball of energy this week! She seems to be making up for the 24 hours spent in a hospital bed. Every once in awhile, she'll start twirling and singing a made up tune. She declares, "I'm a ballerina!" Most days, she chooses a dress to wear now. I thought she'd want to wear cozy clothes on Sunday after being sick. This was not the case: we put the skirt on as a way to appease the prima ballerina. I'm also amazed at her ability to walk in heels - I swear she's better at it than I am!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our Weekend at the Hospital

We finally got settled in and the nurse brought some cookies.

Ella woke up at about 12:30 am calling for Mommy on Thursday night. When I went to check on her, her breathing was labored and she clearly didn't feel well. She'd had a runny nose the past few days, but nothing terrible. Tim and I were up with her most of the night holding her while she coughed, took quick breaths, and occasionally threw up. We felt so bad for her. Tim stayed home from work with Ezra and I took Ella into the doctor as soon as they had an appointment. They immediately saw she her breathing was labored and checked her oxygen level. It was low, so they gave her a breathing treatment. This helped, but they were concerned about her, so they admitted her to the hospital. Luckily, the pediatrician's office is in the same building, so we were able to bring her to the hospital with little fuss. She had to have oxygen, x-rays, and an IV - she struggled at first, but then relaxed a bit.

Ella did very well considering the oxygen in her nose and the IV in her hand. She took to calling the cords attached to her "snakes." She made friends with the nurses and other staff, singing songs and talking with them. The volunteer group Project Lynus gave her a Raggedy Ann blanket and she looked so sweet snuggling the blanky and her little bunny.

The medicine in the breathing treatments actually made her quite hyper at times and she alternated between being very talkative and wanting to be "all done" to being extremely sleepy. The doctor said her case of pneumonia is not severe and we were so grateful she only had to spend one night in the hospital. We were able to bring her home about 3 pm Saturday and are now administering antibiotics and breathing treatments.

This was definitely a scary experience as a parent, but I am so grateful for good doctors and nurses and for caring friends. We were so appreciative of the cards Ella's friends made, the dinner our friend bought for us, the friend who cared for Ezra, and the books and movies brought to entertain our little girl. While it would have been ideal to be near family at a time like this, we couldn't have asked for better friends!

I am so happy to have my sweet little girl home now full of energy and life. She is clearly happy to be out of the hospital bed and free to move around. Her 2nd cousin Brynne came by this afternoon to see her and she was simply in heaven. It is such a blessing that we caught the pneumonia early and that she is recovering so quickly!

I'm so glad we had the DVD player to provide a distraction.

After being poked and prodded, it was so sweet to see her smile.

Brynne drew Ella a picture and sent her a card. Ella loved it and kept saying "This is Brynne and Ella."

She wanted to color on the picture too.

Things weren't always this cheery, but she was such a trooper. She is settled in here and hyper from the breathing treatment.

This is one of her more relaxed moments, resting on Daddy's legs and watching tv.

I brought her fruit snacks and she was so happy!

These pictures are from her last breathing treatment right before heading home.

She was "catching" the air. Sometimes she would say "it smells good."

Now she's releasing the air.

She sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with Cindy, the specialist who helped with her breathing treatment. She then sang her, "I Know My Father Lives."

Here's Ezra hanging with Daddy at the hospital. He did so well considering the confusion and being separated from Mom more than usual.

Here's a few memories I have from our stay:
* Ella barely fussed about anything except having the oxygen in her nose. She didn't even make much noise about getting her blood drawn or the IV in her arm.
* She wanted Mommy close by and didn't like it when I held Ezra.
* She called the tubes connected to her "snakes."
* When she was energetic, she'd want to leave her bed and would say, "All dumb (done)."
* When she slept, she slept deeply. She slept right through most breathing treatments and getting her temperature taken.
* Her bursts of energy were crazy and hilarious.
* She's been talking well for a long time, but she spoke so clearly and in full sentences so much of the time.
* She was simply a sweetheart and did so well for such a little girl.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Haircut and Tummy Time

There's quite a few pictures with this post, but I thought the story of Ella's haircut was so cute.

Tim went to our friend's house to get his hair cut last night and Kendra was nice enough to trim Ella's hair as well.
I was at Young Women's, so Tim took some photos for me.

This is such a typical face.

They must have said just the right thing to her.

Faces in the mirror.

What a big girl!

I love this one! The final results.

Here's the haircut after the bath this morning. She was reading, so she didn't want to stop for a picture.

Ezra is developing fantastic head control. Here's a few "tummy time" pictures from yesterday.