Elijah: Three Months

IMG_3928Elijah is three months!

*I took these photos on time, but I haven’t had time to upload and document.

We crossed a lot of milestones this month including NO doctor’s visits! Elijah will have follow-up appointments in July and August, but June was a month off. He no longer has an in-home nurse coming each week because the pediatrician felt comfortable with his growth and weight gain. We estimate he is about 14 lbs now. Two stitches are still causing some irritation, but the overall healing looks incredible.

IMG_3946Elijah is the happiest little guy who loves playing on the floor and is getting stronger and stronger on his tummy. We’ve been warned that most kids with stomach issues, especially surgeries, have some delays when it comes to crawling. We’re working every day with Elijah to strengthen his neck muscles to hopefully offset a delay. It’s amazing what even a week can do because he smiled during tummy time yesterday.

We’re lucky to have Elijah awake a majority of the day because he sleeps great (knock on wood) at night. We had almost a week straight of him sleeping through the night! He broke the streak last night, but who can be mad getting up to see his sweet face?!

He has been a great traveler this month with many trips to Manchester and one to Dubuque. Next week we’ll get farther from home with trips to Mason City and Des Moines. Let’s keep exploring the world together, buddy. Little by little!

What Does Your Story Say?

1999475A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Thanks to Megan, one of my past students, for recommending this thought-provoking book. It started off slow, but I quickly found myself with many dog-eared pages. These are the quotes that stood out to me, and I want to continue to reflect over them as I write the story of my own life.

“The stories we tell ourselves are very different from the stories we tell the world.”

“I started feeling like a better character, and when you are a better character, your story gets better too.”

“If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want.” I’ve also heard people say, “If you want to know what someone values, ask them where they spend their money.”

“The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.” Wow! Yes. I thought about Elijah and about marathon training while reading this section. Both of my examples are so different, but they remind me of the extra appreciation you feel when the journey is anything but smooth.

“You become like the people you interact with. And if your friends are living boring stories, you probably will too.” Reminded me of one of my previous posts.

“The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn’t think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it’s conflict that changes a person.” “Put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That’s the only way we change.”

The story of Job and stories about suffering. “Before we get started, there is this one thing I have to tell you. Things are going to get bad.”

Friday Night Lights: “It wasn’t necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything.”

“A good storyteller doesn’t just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.” “When you ask for help, you are asking other people into the story with you, so it’s no longer yours, it belongs to the community that believed in it with you.” 

Anniversary Weekend

img_4003Our anniversary turned into an entire weekend of celebrating. We had my friend Lindy’s wedding on Saturday, so Elijah spent his first weekend at grandma and grandpa’s.

John and I spent Friday night enjoying beverages on three different patios. We finally checked out Marion’s img_4004newest establishment, Uptown Snug. The bar is “an Irish pub to honor the Irish immigrants who helped build Marion.” Couches and a fireplace make this a classy place to grab a drink, but the back is laid-back with a patio, which will lead to the “Art in the Alley” project that is currently under construction. It happened to be the Grand Opening weekend, so the place was packed.

Saturday gave me time to do yard work before heading to Iowa City for Lindy and Tony’s wedding. We even ran into the wedding party before the reception, so that gave us extra time with the beautiful bride. If you haven’t been to 30Hop in Coralville, plan a date! It was my second time, and the food, drinks, and atmosphere are awesome.

img_4010Sunday was officially our anniversary, and we got up early to attend Mass before our Cedar Ridge Winery brunch reservations. We’d been to Cedar Ridge numerous times but never for brunch. Prime Rib, pancakes, eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, fruit, salad, endless sangria and mimosas just get you started. It’s pretty incredible!

Finally, it was time to pick up our son at the Monaghan Reunion. I actually told John I needed Elijah back so I could get some rest. Ha! I think that’s a sign of a fun weekend.

Thirty-One

IMG_2874If I had to describe the last year in one word, I’d pick POWERFUL.

Spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally…POWERFUL.

Last year I spent a few minutes of my birthday sitting on a patio in Hawaii reflecting about the number thirty and what it meant. No part of me was anxious or scared to leave my twenties behind. I celebrated that I was no longer the same person I was a year before, and that each year gives us the opportunity to grow and make positive changes. Why look back when you can look ahead, right?!

I had no idea of the ways the year ahead would test me and challenge me.

While the happy moments of year 30 certainly stand out, it was a year of suffering and growth. Watching my best friend bury her stillborn son was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness. I remember going through the funeral line and telling her this wasn’t a moment we were supposed to have, me giving her my sympathy for the loss of her son. No parent should ever outlive their child. It left me with many questions and of course a broken heart for someone who is more like a family member than a friend.

Watching her go through this tragedy gave me strength in my trials to come. It’s all about perspective, and her painful journey forever changed mine.

Other defining moments include allowing myself to be 100% vulnerable while giving all power to God during Elijah’s surgeries and recovery process. Literally on my knees asking for God to allow me to bring my baby home. Praying with our family and the surgeon in that dark family lounge. Leaning on John in the waiting room as we waited to see our son time after time. Riding in the elevator and seeing other families in the pediatric units and knowing we were the lucky ones. Seeing God in our friends, family, and community members. It brings me to tears to type. It moved me. It changed me.

I’ve never been more thankful, and I’ve never had a better relationship with God. I know these two are dependent on one another.

I’m excited to see how God uses me in the year ahead, and I pray for listening ears to hear His call.

Birthday Week

img_3966What’s better than birthday cake? Birthday donuts! John left for work Thursday morning only to return with Dunkin Donuts coffee and donuts. A box full of my favorite flavors- lemon and blueberry.

My day was spent enjoying Elijah’s sweet smiles.

My aunt Deb was sweet enough to cuddle Elijah that evening while John and I enjoyed dinner downtown at Wasabi. All-you-can-eat, made-to-order sushi was a delicious treat! The sweet potato roll is always my favorite, but the all-you-can-eat option encouraged us to order a few new rolls and appetizers. John likes sushi but never feels full, so this was also a good way for him to eat until his stomach was satisfied. We’d go back.

Thursday was only the start of celebrating birthday week. More to come!

Lillian’s 1st Birthday

img_3892I still remember waking up to a text on June 22nd that my goddaughter had arrived. After being on bed rest from week 28 on, Casey delivered a happy and healthy baby girl just a couple of weeks early.

What a joy watching Lillian walk at her first birthday party. The only reason she can’t make it more than a few steps is because she laughs the entire time.

My birthday wish to Lillian is that she continues to smile and laugh in all the days to come.

Riverfest

img_3838-1img_3831

Manchester’s 2nd Annual Riverfest was a good excuse to enjoy the perfect summer temperatures, take in some live music, and catch up with friends and family.

It was Elijah’s first night away from home overnight (we’re not counting hospital visits). He loved his extra cuddles with grandma and grandpa, and he even let John and me sneak away to Franklin Street Brewery with Matt. We scored a table outside and it felt so great to be out that we closed the place down.

Bring on BIRTHDAY WEEK!

John’s First Father’s Day

img_3850I’ll never forget the moment I watched John meet Elijah.

For the mother, pregnancy feels real. A mother’s body continues to change as a baby grows, and she can feel the child move long before meeting him/her. I don’t know what it’s like to be the father, but I imagine it’s hard to grasp the reality until seeing the child or maybe even holding him/her.

When the doctors handed me Elijah, I sad, “John, it’s our son!” He couldn’t even speak. He nodded his head as tears streamed down his cheeks. This moment is forever printed on my heart.

Maternity Leave

img_3807Elijah is 12 weeks old! Technically, this would be my last week of maternity leave, but God knew I needed more time with my baby. The summer add-on is a bonus I’m not taking for granted.

I questioned how much I would enjoy being home with a baby all day. A huge part of me feared I would be counting down the hours awaiting the sound of the garage door and John’s blaring music to signal he was home and could take over.

This isn’t the case.

img_3783Much of this has to do with the first three weeks of parenting, which have forever changed me, but the time of year helps a TON. We can easily run errands without bundling up. We have met up with friends for coffee dates and park dates every week, and Elijah is even content just being in his rock-and-play (best baby shower gift ever) outside.

People also warned me that maternity leave would be isolating. Thankfully, I have yet to feel this way (except of course when I’m pumping). Again, this has a lot to do with the time of year. People are happy to stop by and visit, and other teachers are home with their kids and eagerly want to meet up.

There are so many benefits to having a baby in the spring, and I look forward to not feeling “stuck” until winter. At that point, I’ll plan a spring break trip with or without my one-year-old. Oh my…I’m off to cuddle my baby while he still fits in my arms.

Recharge, Relax, and Refocus

img_3791Too many people argue that teachers “only” work nine months out of the year. I’d like those people to live with me for a week during the summer. While I may not be reporting to my classroom, the job is never done! If you’re a teacher, you’re nodding your head.

I still have 30 yearbook pages to complete before July 1st. Yep, I’m still doing the yearbook while on maternity leave. Call me a control freak, but yearbooks are expensive. When I receive a bill from the yearbook company for over $30,000 every fall, I want to make sure families are getting a quality product. After all, each book is $70 plus add-ons. Also, if I would have taken the time to teach someone else how to submit pages, I still would have been the one to answer to any errors come August.

I know I’m not alone working on school stuff during the summer. A group of teacher friends and I communicate in a group chat daily. All too often we discuss ideas for school. New book choices, ways to increase rigor in a course, or just new strategies in teaching content are all part of our discussions. These conversations continue to push me to be a better teacher, 12 months of the year!

Once I finish the yearbook, I have three books on my summer reading list to help me plan for next year’s incoming Reading Advancement students. These include I Read It, but I Don’t Get It by Cris Tovani, So What Do They Really Know? Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning by Cris Tovani, and Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades by Debbie Miller. Normally my class of struggling readers includes anywhere from 6-12 students. Next year- 21! I know there will not be one or two ways to reach 21 students, so I need fresh ideas to help me engage these reluctant readers and make them fall in love with books.

Since the job is never done, the challenge includes being able to recharge, relax, and refocus while closing one school year and opening another at the same time.