Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In My Arms

Here you lay, in my arms. 

Quietly breathing. It's truly one of the best moments in my day as your mama bear. To see your eyes flutter and finally relax into a deep sleep, to hear the tiny noises, hums, heavy sighs and to imagine the stirrings of your thoughts. 

To watch your belly rise and fall with each breath, it's all a mother's joy. To remember when you fit within the boundaries of my arms, cocooned in warmth and fresh newborn smell, and to now see your legs and feet strewn off our favorite gliding chair - your feet dangling below. How fast the time does go. 

It's amazing to watch you grow. To see you move and think and love and show, your love for others so very apparent, stopping to hug and needing affection is one of my favourite things about you, my dear. The way you bow your head towards a friend, requesting a forehead kiss. The way you crawl all over us, resting your head on shoulders or bellies or backs or arms, resting in moments of kindness, melts away any dread from any day. 

To know you are a gift, entrusted to two people, to raise and care for, to watch over and let go of, is the greatest adventure of all - a mystery I will always be unfolding in you, my son. You keep my days filled of play, my nights full of midnight might, my mornings full of smiley glory and my life full of Christ.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

365 Days Old.

Your Birth Story

Dear Canon,

I am writing this with you resting on my chest, just 19 days after you were born. 

At 7:26a on the morning of your birthday, I ran to the restroom! You must have kicked in just the right direction because my water broke.  It wasn’t a gush of water like in the movies, but I knew exactly what was happening since I couldn’t stop it!  Your Daddy asked me what was happening and I said, “I think my water just broke!” He excitedly began to get dressed and called church to let them know he wasn’t going to be making it in for work.  We packed the car with all the essentials: gatorade, your diaper bag, all our overnight gear, etc...oh and the car seat of course!  We nervously prayed on the way to the hospital: for your health, for all the healthcare professionals that we would encounter, for my and your doctor, for the labor and delivery... everything we could think of.  We called both of your grandparents to let them know, Grandma Docter got in the car straight away and drove from Sarasota, and Pop Pop came after he got off work.  Daddy called Great-Grandma Esther in California at 5am her time, so she was a little shocked to get the phone call, but once she comprehended what was happening she got very excited and said she’d be praying for us the whole day and couldn’t wait to hear the good news that you were born!

Once we got to the hospital, Daddy and I parked the car and rode the elevator up to the third floor.  I wasn’t in any pain *yet* so I was able to answer all the nurses questions and fill out paper work pretty easily but water was still leaking, so that was kind of interesting.  Once they checked us in, they wheeled us over to Labor and Delivery Room #6, where you would be born. Because this was a Wednesday, and I had been dialated at 2cm since the Thursday beforehand, they started me on a medicine called “Pitocin” to help us meet you quicker.  It made Mommy’s contractions come more consistently and with great intensity!  Even though labor was more painful at this point, I was still measuring at 2cm several hours into the day. With the pain very intense at this point, we decided to get an epidural to help Mama’s relax and rest.  Linda, our nurse, was such a wonderful help, but especially during the epidural.  Because the medicine had to go into Mama’s spinal cord, it was very important to stay still.  But in order to do so, she had to sit up bent over (with a big belly, that’s hard to do) and not move even during contractions.  Linda helped Mama hug a pillow and lean into her with her arms around me so as to be as still as possible.  It took about 40 minutes for the anesthesiologist to find the epidural space and successfully get the medicine inserted. (Sidenote: I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her and your Daddy’s support.  She told me exactly what was going on and exactly what I needed to do during each portion of labor.)  Your Daddy kept things light, making jokes, making Mommy smile, and taking lots of video and pictures.  He was so hungry all day long, but didn’t eat because he knew I wasn’t allowed to.  He probably consumed a dozen granola bars so that he wouldn’t pass out but I sure appreciated his committed and encouraging heart. 

Sometime before the epidural, Pastor Mark Compton came to see us.  He didn’t realize how far along I was at that point so I think he was a little shocked to see Mama in so much pain.  He talked with your Daddy for a little while, and prayed for us, holding Mama's hand.  It was so kind of him to stop by and strengthened your Daddy & me to endure the day with his prayer.  

After getting the first epidural, Mama was pain-free for about an hour.  Then she began to feel contractions again on the right side of her body.  Because the medicine works with gravity, Linda (our nurse) propped up Mama's left side, thinking having it elevated would help get the medicine to the right side.  This helped for a little while, but not for long.  At first the pain was minimal, but then Mama wasn’t able to talk through contractions, Linda said that that wasn’t normal.  She said we could either wait and see if they got better, or to try and remove the medicine catheter and try again.  She recommended trying again so that Mama could relax and have enough strength for your delivery.  The second epidural wasn’t nearly as difficult to get as some of the pain was relieved on Mama's left side.  Once again, we were pain free for a short time, but then the pain on the left side returned, with the right side now being pain free.  Apparently Mommy has scoliosis - curvature of the back - so it makes it very difficult for getting medicine to work evenly.  At this point, however, Mama had relaxed enough when the medicine did work that she measured 9 3/4 cm.  Just 1/4 more centimeter and we could start to push!

It was about 5:15 when our Doctor showed up for the second time that day.  On her way in the door she noticed the twelve pack of Diet Mountain Dew that we brought for her.  At Mama’s last appointment she joked about loving that soda, so we took her at her word and brought her some!  She loved us for it and was so blessed by such a silly gesture.  After laughing about that, she said she wanted Mama to practice pushing a couple times to see if that would make her feel the need to push.  Mama never did feel any sensation to really want to push, like some other Mommies do so we had to follow their lead.  Contractions were coming at about every other minute at this point, lasting about a minute, so it was getting very tiring.  The delivery process began at around 5:35.  In order for us to meet you, Mama had to push four times, for ten seconds long each time, while holding her breath.  Daddy was on our right side holding Mama's foot and counting to ten for us each time, and Linda was on our left holding Mama's other foot and head.  Mama had to put her chin to her chest with each push, and hold her knees back with her hands.  About 40 minutes into pushing, I remember seeing your Daddy get very still.  He stopped counting and Mama squeezed his arm and told him: “Keep counting!”  Daddy told Grandma Docter, Linda, and our doctor that towards the end, someone else would have to count because he wouldn’t be able to.  Mama thought that was so sweet.  Daddy kept waiting with each push, so joyfully expectant of your birth and arrival. He kept telling Mama how awesome and amazing she was.  He couldn’t believe how strong Mama was and what a great job she was doing.  It was so great to have Daddy's whole support, have him be so proud of you and Mama, and see him so excited to meet you.  I’ve never seen him more calmly nervous in our life.  He wasn’t scared or sick, just calm and ready to meet you, his first baby boy.  Grandma, too, helped excitedly count with the everyone, telling me I was doing great, while Grandpa waiting in the hallway, silently praying every time he heard a contraction coming on.

About 15 minutes before you were born, Mommy began to get very tired.  Doctor "S" decided to use the vacuum to help me and you out.   

At 6:29p you were born. They wrapped you in a towel to warm you up and put you on my chest right away.  You didn’t make much noise, so I kept asking you to cry so we could hear your sweet voice.  Once the cord that connected us stopped pulsating, Daddy cut the cord - I was so happy he wanted to be a part of that.  They put you back on my chest, but I was pretty tired and weak so Daddy held you.  He just stared at your sweet face, smiling.  I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw you for the first time, so in love.  Mama doesn’t really remember too much else other than exhaustion, hunger and a heart full of love.  After Daddy held you for a little while, they took you over to the warming tray, cleaned you up, and put a diaper on you.  Daddy, Grandma, & Pop Pop all stared at you, talking to you while you were being dressed, and took lots of pictures and video.  Mommy got to hold you once she was done being taken care of and you nursed right away for over an hour whilst eating a cheese burger!  You had lots of visitors right away:  Lauren, Candace, Kendyl, Alex. Everyone watched you get your first bath after they transferred us to the Mommy & Baby suites.  You didn’t like it very much, but once they put you in the warming tray you sprawled out like you were getting a suntan.  The warm lights must have put you right to sleep.  Every once and a while your whole body would jerk and then you’d slowly lower your arms and legs down.  The nurse who bathed you said it was because your central nervous system was still developing and would be for a few weeks.  It was so funny to see you do this, Daddy said it looked like your were throwing up peace signs in the air.  After you dried off and were warmed up nicely, Grandma and Pop Pop got to hold you and they were so in love right away.  

Once all the excitement calmed down and everyone went home, Daddy went to sleep, they took you to the nursery, and Mommy tried to sleep.  After such a tiring day, all Mama could think about what everything that had just happened and her mind just couldn’t shut off: She could still hear what your heart beat sounded like on the monitors, the gushing bump bump bump.  She still felt like she was in labor for some reason and only slept for 2 hours that first night since the nurses had to keep taking her blood pressure and checking on her to make sure I was recovering well.  The next morning Daddy went and got coffee for us, and since Grandma stayed the night at our house, she came back to see you again for the day.  Miss Niki came to meet you, bringing balloons and a baby blanket she bought for you.  Miss Mary & Alex came, and Mr. Rus after he got off work... Pastor Marc & Sarah, and Miss Lucia.  Morgan, Jordan, Hope, & Kaleb all REALLY wanted to meet you right away in the hospital, but their parents made them wait until a few days after we brought you home.  

On Friday, May 25th Daddy and I brought you home.  We drove so carefully and were so gentle putting you in the car seat and making sure you were safe.  The first night you were up until 3:45.  You didn’t like sleeping on your back in your bassinet so Mommy & Daddy finally decided to let you sleep on Pop Pop’s chest for a few hours so that they  could get a little sleep.  It made Mommy a little worried to let you sleep on his chest but we were so tired that we had to trust Jesus that you would be okay!  

Above all, Canon James, from the day you were born, we loved you with ALL our hearts.  You are perfect, and we are loving getting to know you.  We are so honored to be your parents. 

Mommy & Daddy
Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Four Months Shy

My littlest little baby boy turned eight months old this week.  Time is whizzing by.  I still remember seeing him just a few days old, sitting in the car seat on our front porch fresh from the hospital, so tiny.  That first week we did everything as a team, from filing his nails to giving baths it was all a learning curve.  But we got good at things and so did he.  Long ago are the days when he would play under his hanging toys batting away at plush owls and squirrels for hours.  Now his favorite pastimes are jumping himself silly and making his way around the living room via rolling, circling, or scooting backwards.  He enjoys big boy baths trying to grasp at the water and now reaches for whomever isn't holding him.  He can't be held for much longer than a few minutes, busy busy busy are his mind and hands.   He loves to grasp at anything, touching and figuring out different textures. Short are the days ahead when his hind will propel him and the baby gates will go up. 

Parenting truly is bittersweet.  As he babbles Da-Da and laughs histerically when he's over tired, I can't help but remember the days when he would often nap under his play mat, or rest in my arms - his head no bigger than my hand.  He used to just lay on the changing table; getting him ready was a total one person job.  Now he's so wiggly he practically dresses himself, plunging each limp into it's respective hole with each wriggle. He loves to bang his chubby hands on any near by surface, swirl his ankles in excited circles and giggles gutterly anytime I shimmy pants on his legs.

As he learns and understands so much more of this world, my mind plans for all the new things he's yet to learn.  At the same time, my mind travels backwards remembering when he couldn't roll over, rarely smiled, or expressed anything but funny little animal sounds.  It so surreal to watch this little boy grow.  I have a feeling that won't ever change.  God:  Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful boy.  He is such a blessing to his parents and we are so blessed that you chose US to raise, guide, and direct his steps.  We pray You will continue to guide and direct ours so that he may grow to be strong, good, noble, and a lover of You.  We thank you for each day you have given us with him and each day in the future.  We love you Lord and thank you daily for Canon James.  Amen.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Half A Year

My baby is 6 months old.  Where has the time gone?  I know it's cliche, but really, I know it was just last week we brought him home from the hospital.  I remember when there was still 12 inches of empty space above his little head in his car seat.  Now his feet stretch past the edge and his head sits so much higher.  I still remember the first night he came home.  Crying and crying til 4:30a as Pete & I hunched over his bassinet unsure of what to do.  He ended up on Grandpa's chest for a couple hours that wee morning so we could rest.  I guiltily cried myself to sleep hoping Canon would awake in the morning, knowing in my heart God that would protect him, but fresh in my hospital head that babies should only sleep in "safe" places!  Well that went out the window when for 72 hours I got maybe three hours of sleep and my entire body was in the type of pain only new mama's know about.  

I also remember crying for three weeks straight at the drop of a hat.  My mom's mopping floors?  Tears flowed.  I leave Canon at home with Pete for the first time to go buy shoes at Target? Cried at the stop sign 100 feet away.  I don't miss that, but I do miss his tiny little hands measuring no longer than my thumb, his sweet wrinkly just-born-toes, his dark brown hair that shortly fell out, and his deep, deep blue womb eyes that hardly ever opened those first few weeks.  

Now he's a giggly, babbling boy who has favorite toys, would jump 'til dawn if we let him, and loves to have his diaper changed.  He can sit up with little assistance, loves to do his baby push-ups in the morning, and loves scruffy Daddy kisses.  He has a belly laugh that is undeniable, wills eat absolutely anything you put on a spoon, and is the apple of our very eyes.

With this season of Christmas coming upon us, I can only now fully realize the true reason of the season and what a great miracle the birth of our Savior was.  Props to Mary for having Jesus in a CAVE, ALONE, with the smell of MANURE in the air.  Seriously.  I would have been throwing hay and screaming, but somehow in my mind, I don't think that's how Jesus came to be on this earth.  It would have be so neat to witness all the animals lowing, knowing instinctively to behave.  Even they worshipped in this way!  What a beautiful baby boy he must have been in Mary's arms, eyes wide and so in love with his young mother.  A joyful chorus must have escaped her lips, as does every mother's when a babe is place in her arms.  I hope they have big screens in heaven, because that's one I'll be sure to watch over and over.  Did the sheep baaaah or were they silent?  How about Joseph?  Was he nervous and pacing about, unsure of how to support Mary?  Or was he appointed a supernatural loving calmness from the Holy Spirit?  Oh to have been a horse fly on the cool wall of that cave.

With all this in the back of my mind this season, I want time to slow down and this sweet little boy to stay little forever, but I also can't wait for the future.  To think of what next year will be like at this time is a fun thought to entertain for sure.  To picture Canon silently fixated on twinkling lights and maybe even hear him say "Oooooh pretty" will stir such a magical spirit in both of our hearts.  To see him help Pete pick out a Christmas tree and follow his short chubby stature as he runs around pointing at them all... seeing his face as he tastes his first candy cane.... letting him help his mama count down the days to his Saviors birth with an ornament advent calendar, I can't wait.

But for now I'll take the snuggles.  I'll hug and kiss and cup this sweet baby boy in my arms and I will him to stop growing but just for a moment.  I treasure his gummy two-tooth smile and the spirits he uplifts with his demeanor.  He is such a blessing to our family and so darn cute it's impossible not to fall in love.  I'll forever relish in his tight morning anxious-hungry hugs and two-sneeze coos always followed by a smile.  Sneezing is only a fun pastime for so long right?  

I hope you too remember to cherish the little things this season.  The magic and wonderment of little ones, the joy of their parents and grandparents, the nip in the air, the warmth of the fireplace, and the sound of carols.  As the song goes, 
Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year.
Merry Christmas to you and yours this season.
The Randalls

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Thrift Finds, Muffins, & Backseat Diaper Changes

There's nothing I love more than the thrill of a deal.  Add Trader Joe's Pumpkin muffins, fresh coffee, and a baby who doesn't mind having his diaper changed in the back seat and you got a perfect Saturday morning treasure hunt.  The invigorating super-hero quality of respectfully wheelin' and dealin' or the incredibly underpriced gem no one else has spotted or cared to take home - I love em' both.  All of our marriage, I have always tried to by "thrifty" in designing our home.  We have never bought anything brand new, save our IKEA bed frame costing us just one and a half Benjamin's and a few other clearance items.  My initial approach was just to pinch-pinch-pinch pennies and often times I bought things for cheap just because they were cheap.  After moving five times, I have come to love the art of "pairing down" and only buying things we love, trying to practice the phrase "All You Need Is Less." Although our home isn't exactly empty of "things" I would say there isn't an excess of "much."  Any purchase is now carefully thought through, decided and agreed upon by the both of us, and lovingly chosen.  Here are a few of my favorite things most recent finds.

Seven dollars in wooden empty & unwanted picture frames will shortly help me finish another Pinterest project.  For our five year anniversary we took a short road trip to Savannah, GA.  I noticed a few of the shops we loved to visit had uniquely designed brown paper bags that I, for some reason or another, can't ever just throw out.  I re-use them as lunch bags, cut them up to wrap a gift, or carry things from here to there.  I know, I know, what about the "needing less" philosophy? This infringes in the, frugality clause which I also abide by that states, "I paid for this when I bought something to put inside of it," so why not re-use it? So, on our next trip or the next time we discover a great brown bag, you can bet that sucker will be slapped behind a frame.  I plan to do an entire wall Young House Love style, with bags, napkins, menus, etc... all in the "brown bag" family. 
Here's a little cutie we picked up this morning - find of THE YEAR.  I can not express the joy my pitter-pattering heart boom boomed as I spotted the little green sticker reading $1.  "This can't be....seriously?  Somebody made a mistake."  Nope.  No mistake.  Just a little gold mine the elderly man selling it thought no one would want.  Dead wrong.  I love everything about it.  The shelves have a sweet doily-esque detail that you would find on the sheet metal  used to cover an old ceramic heater...  However, the sweet wire shelves under the push handles leave me curious.  Stemware?  Tea boxes?  Anyone know what they were used for?  
Here she is in her new home.  I'm swooning in all her rusty-metal-caster love.
 Here's the cheapest finds of the day.  Pete and I have been on a major duck dynasty kick and we recently watched the episode where they bought a vineyard and drank their failure mallard merlot out of these babies.  I had seem them before but thought, "Ah I could just make those with some candle sticks."  But why make them when someone (selling stuff out of a storage unit) wants to sell it to you for 50 cents?  No glass cutting/melting for me baby.  Lastly, the little owl friend was a last minute impulse I made after wiggling my price down for the chair pictured below.  At 25 cents, I couldn't refuse.
 And here, all you crazy kittens, is the new love of my life.  Marked at $8 but sold for $6, if ere' there were a chair to bring to a deserted island, she'd be the one I'd pick.  Tiffany Blue with almost flawless upholstery, two twin tufted buttons, and mint condition wood can stir just about every emotion of joy in this mama's heart.  Picture me - carrying this over head, Rocky style, (not you Aunt Rock) with little sparrows following my lead... Okay a little dramatic, but you get the idea.  She's a beaut.  We plan to add casters to her four pretty little legs so that she'll be standard table height.  She's sure to be a favorite come dinner party time.
What makes your heart flutter?  Fiesta dinnerware?  Mid-century modern tulip chairs?  Atomic era coffee tables?  Share the goods.  I'll be sure to let you know when we complete the task of furnishing our newly DIYed table.  Six more chairs to go!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Portraits!

Tis the season to be jolly and jolly they are!  Meet the Schweizer family!  I had the most fun shooting with them on a beautiful crisp fall Florida day!  Their papa in the Marines and is deployed, so they decided to take pictures "with him" in this way and I thought it was the sweetest idea! Obviously, these kids are lots of fun, so my job was a pretty easy - I just snapped away while they laughed and rolled around in the grass.  Thank you Schweizer family for a such beautiful photo session! I hope you had as much fun as I did!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coffee & Plans

New Prints Up in the Shoppe!  Please, if you have any requests, I will be happy to come up with a design for you!  I heart graphic design and would love to make you something you will love.  The coffee cup print is designed to be a 5X7 but can easily be enlarged up to 11x14.  There are also two more color options which can be seen via here.  The second print is designed to be 8X10, but also can be enlarged.  Hope you love them as much as I love making them!