Monday, April 30, 2012

Best Laid Plans

As I type this I am sitting in a chair outside the room where Michael is taking gymnastics. "Gymnastics," being a fairly loose description of what goes on in the room! I'm in a little chair facing the window into the gym, netbook on my lap, watching four-year-olds do warm up stretching. In this moment I am very thankful for WiFi.

Saturday was our local March for Babies walk. Due to a whole host of out of our control circumstances instead of having a big group to walk with (we'd actually recruited people to our team this year!) it looked like I was going to be walking on my own. The weather was cool and rainy - feeling more like late February than late April. After one last look at the radar I decided it was going to give a dry enough window for Michael to come with me if he wanted - he did.

So Michael and I headed down to the park where we've walked before... I'm not going to lie. It was cold. And we totally opted for the one-mile "family" route, rather than walk the entire three miles. A lot of pieces fell a little flat this year: the weather was crummy, we didn't quite meet our fund-raising goal, we didn't do the long walk. It would be easy to feel discouraged about the whole experience.

But of course it was difficult to feel too discouraged when I had this guy to keep me company:

Do you see that I had to find the WINTER hat for him. The fact that we were there at all is some serious dedication, right? And the following picture is completely misleading, sure the sky was blue in that moment, but shortly after we got home it opened up and poured!

Even though I was sorry not to have our bigger team assembled (next year!), I was grateful to have Michael there with me. He was happy and proud to be walking at the March for Babies event, even if he didn't completely understand what it was. We walked holding hands (I was trying not to loose him in the crowd) and every so often he would lean over and kiss my hand saying, "I'm so happy to be on a walk with you Mommy!"

Me too bud.

By the by... if you were intending to donate to our team and you just hadn't gotten around to it any donations made in the next couple of weeks will still count toward this year's total.  Thanks!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Walk Time

Last year around this time I was marveling at how our family and friends and internet peeps had showed up in a HUGE way to help us raise money for March of Dimes. The persistent begging I did had a lot to do with our success.

This year, I've hardly begged at all... I was working, the kids were sick, blah, blah, blah. And so here we are, mere days (5!) before this year's March for Babies. And there is a large empty spot on my fundraising tracker. The space between what we've raised and our goal.

Lots of people have already stepped up for us this year, but I'm reaching out to those of you who may not already have been bombarded by my email or Facebook requests this week. If you have even five dollars to spare, please consider helping us reach our goal.

If you weren't around or you want to refresh your memory about the dramatic-ish circumstances surrounding Michael's birth, head back to the February, March, and April archives from 2008.

Here is a photo of Michael, taken perhaps the day after he was born, when he weighed just a little over four pounds. He spent the first month of his life in the NICU and then was home with us for another month before I even reached his due date!

Look how big that paci is! In other words, look how tiny the baby is.

And here we are, four years later, and I can barely get a good picture of him these days because he is all little boy enthusiasm and will rarely hold still for a photograph! Almost all traces of his preemie days are long gone.

We are so incredibly grateful for our healthy boy. And it is in large part due to the work done by March of Dimes that our preemie was able to survive his early birth and is a thriving four-year-old now. And while we've come so far, as long as there are babies being born sick or too soon, there is still work to be done.

Please consider making a donation to our March for Babies team, every bit helps. 

Oh, and if you'd like to send some prayers/good vibes for dry weather on Saturday, that's great too!

Thank you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In Defense of Keeping Them Little

A disclaimer, before I begin... When I write ANYTHING on this blog, I'm generally commenting on a situation as it applies to our family. If your family does x, y, or z differently, I don't necessarily mean that I disagree/disapprove of your choices, I'm only talking about what works for the people under this here roof. I think most of you know that, but just in case... I feel a couple of posts brewing that I feel might be difficult to write without inadvertently offending someone. We'll see.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a Facebook update from a local music venue, announcing that they'd added a concert by The Fresh Beat Band to their summer lineup. I'll admit my immediate reaction was totally hokey - I actually got choked up. Why? Because Harper LOVES The Fresh Beat Band and I knew she would lose her mind with excitement over the idea of seeing them in concert. Matt and I discussed it and decided to go ahead and buy a couple of tickets. Since there aren't really any gift giving occasions between now and the concert, we did tell Harper she was going to have to work this summer to earn her ticket. We'll have her do various jobs around the house and yard (dog duty if you know what I mean) because we aren't complete pushovers, and the tickets were not that cheap for a kiddie concert. Harper is nearly out of her mind with excitement - it was so much fun to show her the tickets.

Sometime recently I was looking at the Facebook page of the venue and I noticed that a parent of one of Harper's school friends had commented on the concert announcement saying she was so glad her daughter was out of that phase. Initially I had a moment of panic, wondering if we were going to end up at a concert primarily attended by toddlers. And it got me thinking. So what?

I don't think many people who know Harper would claim she is immature. But we have been pretty careful with the media influences in our home. I don't try to shelter the kids from the outside world and I am very frank in answering questions about difficult topics. Currently this pertains more to Harper than to Michael, he isn't asking those kids of difficult questions just yet.

My children rarely watch something that isn't preschool television. We do watch the occasional more mature movie, but only with pretty careful vetting and an awareness of our kids' particular sensitivities. I'm careful about what kind of music they listen to and we do have children's music in fairly heavy rotation. We rarely listen to the radio unless it is NPR in the car. They do listen to some adult music, but again I'm aware of the lyrics and pretty cautious.

Even when it comes to toys, we probably skew a little younger than the children actually are. Not in games and books necessarily, but certainly in terms of playthings. Both kids still love the Fisher Price Little People sets and Harper specifically asked for more furniture for her Loving Family Dollhouse for Christmas. Michael has some Little People superhero stuff, but none of the regular action figures yet. I'm not necessarily opposed to these in the long run, but I know his play will be increasingly violent with more adult looking figures and I don't see any reason to introduce him to that if he's not asking for it.

So yes, we're going to see The Fresh Beat Band. And we watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. And we listen to Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Justin Roberts. And there are still Little People underfoot. Oh, and when Harper had ballet pictures on Tuesday, I didn't even put any make up on her.

I think keeping some of these big kid influences at bay is good for my kids. And I have the luxury of doing so because my seven-year-old doesn't happen to have any older siblings. Will Michael be exposed to some things earlier than Harper was? Of course.

There's no Star Wars here, or Harry Potter (for the kids), or Transformers, or make up beyond chap stick, or pop to drink. I'm not saying never, I'm just saying not now. Because I am a killjoy. And because this works for us. And mostly because there is time. Lots and lots of time. For all of it.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Play Ball!

It's opening day in these parts so I thought I would share a little blast from the past to celebrate...

This one is from about 1.5 years ago:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Dear Sweet Michael,

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated your fourth birthday. I'm writing your birthday letter late - there's not much I can say about that except welcome to being the second child. Let's not talk about your baby book...

It is unlikely a birthday will ever go by without my remembering what a very uncertain beginning you had in this world, or without recalling how tiny you were and how long it seemed to take you to do all the regular baby things like regulate your body temperature, or, you know, eat.

And here you are, a fairly robust four-year-old, weighing in at a mere ten times your birth weight. Without careful attention to your speech or your (considerable lack of) fine motor skills, I doubt anyone meeting you today would guess that you arrived in this world nine weeks early.

Some days you are a mystery to me, Michael. You can be so sweet and gentle, so loving and then all of a sudden your temper flares and you stamp your foot at me when I don't think Cheez-Its are a good lunch. You fight like crazy with your sister as you appear to have decided that you aren't willing to be bossed around any longer. And yet, as much as you can be tough with Harper, you crumble the instant someone reprimands you even a little bit.

You've made amazing strides in the last year, even in the last six months. So many things seems to be clicking along in your little brain. Just yesterday your preschool teacher told me you did great on an assessment that you couldn't complete at all in September. On Monday you jumped from a vault into the pit of foam squares at gymnastics. When you started, in the fall, it was all I could do to lower you in there and pry your fingers from my arms! These small things indicate huge changes in you and what you can do and are willing to do.

One of my favorite ways you've changed in the past year is your blossoming imagination. You love to play pretend and are constantly narrating little stories with your toys. Today you were hosting some kind of imaginary party and I heard you say to one of the guests, a pirate, I think, that you were going to check the ingredients to see if the party food was peanut-free. Then you told him you'd have to call his mother and see if he could eat it.

You are a joy to us Michael and I am trying to soak up all I can of you being little because every day I can see more clearly that you won't be little for long.

I love you.