Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blocked Tear Duct Blues

We knew it was probably going to come, but I was still truly bummed to find out last week that Evalee has to have surgery on her blocked tear duct next Friday morning. It's a very routine surgery and not something a rational person would be concerned about, but I'm freaking out. I feel it's my job. I know it's a fluke when things go wrong on such basic, everyday surgeries like these, but the very thought of my baby girl under anesthesia makes my stomach hurt. I just keep telling myself she'll be much happier once it's over and her eye isn't bugging her anymore, and I'll be much happier when I can finally stop explaining to every new person we talk to (and now that Evalee has taken to saying "Hi!' to every person that makes eye contact with her, this number continues to grow) that it's a blocked tear duct and not some crazy contagious baby infection. Still, I'm not feeling ready. But, if I know Evalee, I'm sure she'll be the strong one making me smile before we head in so that I can feel a little more brave that day. Who knows, maybe I'll even walk out with a Dora sticker if I play my cards right.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Post birthday birthday happiness

Once Evalee started feeling better, the excitement of her new toys started setting in. I also decided to try and give her a piece of cake again too. If at first you don't succeed...

Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see?

I see a birthday girl -- Evalee! Our Brown Bear themed first birthday party was a pretty good success considering our birthday girl wasn't at 100% again after her ear episode. We couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous day, as we reached record highs in the 80s that day. Aunt Angie arrived in the morning to help Mommy gather together the good and her sanity. The weather really started to warm up just as the guests started to arrive, and after the food was all prepared we were able to play a little outside and then open presents. She got so many great and thoughtful gifts from everyone, and it was just great to have some many of the people we love in one room. After gifts we had an awesome spread of food and lit the candles on Eva's first birthday cake. Even though she wasn't feel up for smashing into a piece like I had hoped, she did have a few finger dips into some frosting. Then it was a dip in the tub with Alex before passing out with Mommy and Grandpa. Thanks to everyone for coming and making the day so special!

Her birthday girl dress that I just had to buy her. She really hated wearing it, as the long skirt cramped her crawling style, so we eventually changed.

The cake table and decorations. Evalee is a big fan of the flowers, so they are still on our dining room table.
My first attempt at a birthday cake. Big thanks to Abby for all her help with it!

Playing with her new bubble machine from Aunt Molly!

Opening presents with Mommy
Enjoying the warm weather


We will have to try playing in the tub with Alex again sometime with a less crabby version of Eva.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy birthday!!

Travis and I both took a vacation day to celebrate Eva's first birthday. We had lots of fun events planned: a relaxing stroll through the zoo in the morning, a fun lunch at Steak and Shake, an afternoon of playing at Monkey Joes, a grilled dinner with cupcakes for dessert, presents, general merriment. Unfortunately, as do things in life, our day did not go as planned. Since Eva fell asleep at 6:30 p.m. the night before, she in turn woke up at 3 a.m. ready for the day. We, however, were not. So we tag-teamed our way to morning before eventually Travis and Eva took a 3 1/3 hour power nap together and I managed to get a lot of things done around the house. Day starting at noon? Okay, no problem. I set her big birthday gift from us out for her to find when she woke up -- a pink princess couch that folds out into a bed. It was the first big smile I had seen out of her in days. Things were looking up. We opened a few more presents. She showed interest. Another thumbs up. We decided to try our luck at going to Monkey Joes. She took a nap in the car on the way there. We didn't know what to expect, but I had called ahead and knew there was a toddler area for children under 3 and it was only going to cost us $5 to try it. What did we have to lose?
Although she didn't really explore and jump around, I think she still had a good time. She lead me around the play area by the hand, waving to all the other little kids and giving them her usual, "Hiiiiii" with a grin. We took her down a few slides, but she didn't seem to enjoy them all that much. We played for about 45 minutes and then headed to run a couple errands before going home. I wanted to grab something at the Dollar Tree, so we decided to get her an Elmo balloon to try and cheer her up. It made for some laughable photos.
It wasn't what we had planned, Ernie, but it was a memorable birthday anyway.

It had to happen eventually...

Eva had to display her true Kershaw colors eventually and start getting ear infections. Last week she woke up around 12:15 crying, and by 1 a.m. it was a full-on SCREAM fest. There was nothing either of us could do to make her comfortable, so by 3 a.m. we made the decision to pack up and head to the ER. I was of course in tears, but Daddy was the strong one (of course). Luckily, we got to Coal Valley and Eva finally gave in to a little sleep. We drove into Moline to get some early morning food before coming back home just to make sure she'd stay asleep. It was more of a rough morning when we got back, but we managed to make it to 9 a.m. -- the magical time the Dr.'s office opened -- with a little teamwork and Tylenol. We managed to sneak in an appointment and were off to find the remedy by 10 a.m. Prognosis: an infection in the left ear, ruptured ear drum in the right ear. We were told to expect high fevers, loss of appetite, and crabbiness for about 3 days. She was certainly justified in saying so.
We spent the rest of the day cuddled in the living room having a Sesame Street marathon. I KNEW she wasn't feeling well since she sat on my lap without moving for over 3 hours. Thursday we went back to work, but Eva didn't feel back to herself. We took Friday off to celebrate her birthday, but it kind of turned into more sick cuddling. We did manage some fun -- we opened presents and took a trip to Monkey Joes. I think she had some fun overall, even though her face in pictures didn't always show it :).
She didn't have an appetite and wasn't in the mood for much fun all weekend, but today she was finally acting herself again so I'm hoping we're out of the woods!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

To my baby girl on her first birthday:

Words cannot describe how much you have changed my life in the last year. Around this time of night just one year ago, I was hunkered down on our then green couch watching episodes of Friends, trying to keep my mind off of the momentous task ahead of me, and counting down the minutes until Daddy was going to get home. A million questions were running through my mind - all unanswerable - but mostly I was just wondering what my new life would be like once I walked into my house again. I was scared, and I even remember letting just a few tears escape before taking deep breaths and holding my head high. I remember turning over in bed, nudging Travis and saying, "Okay, I think it's time to go." In a half daze mixed with adrenaline and an intense fear of the unknown, I slipped on my shoes and took one last look around before heading to the car. I knew it would all look different when we got back.

One day shy of a year later there I was, sitting in our living room chair (which is now brown, and much more comfy) rocking and bouncing my crying baby with the smooth skill that came slowly after months of trying and failing and trying and succeeding in the task of soothing a colicky baby. But this time it wasn't colic upsetting you. This time, we had no idea what was wrong. I let a few tears escape, a lot more, in fact, than I had the year before, before turning to Daddy and saying, "Okay, I think it's time to go." In that same half daze, mixed with exhaustion and an entirely different fear of the unknown, we set off to try and find out the cause of your distress.

It was clearer than ever on that night, slipping on the same pair of shoes at the same time of night (or morning?) that things had changed in almost every way for me over the course of the last year and at the same time, many things stayed almost eerily similar. The thing about children that is both amazing and frightening is that they change before your very eyes. Something you couldn't live without one week - like, say, a bouncy seat, gets stacked up into the attic another week because suddenly you found it offensive to be put in such a restrictive place. The exersaucer that I at one time wished I had 4 of has a seat right next to it. Foods you coughed and choked on because they were too hard to chew you now eat by the sticky handful. Clothes I remember hanging in preparation thinking, "This looks monstrous" getting packed away and slid next to the other boxes of outgrown clothing with a wistful hope of someday being used again.

Nearly every little thing I do, I do differently now. When I sit down to eat, I immediately assess which foods I will eat in which order based on whether or not it's a hot or cold food, whether or not it's something you could take a bite of if you wanted some, whether or not it could be eaten one handedly, and whether or not it would make a huge mess if you managed to sneak attack the plate with a karate chop. I strategize and prepare for bathroom breaks to assure that I can get in there and get done in less time than it takes for you to follow me and get into the tub or under the sink.

And yet, some things will never change. I'm fully aware that we'll never be expert parents and we'll never get to the point where we have an answer right away to the ever floating question, "Well, now what do we do?" But I guess that's life -- it's not having all the answers, it's finding them.

I can say what I do know. I do know that this has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life. Watching that tiny wriggly little peanut grow into the little person you are today has been a daily miracle. In just one year you have learned what it is to feel pride in yourself when you accomplish something new, like stacking three Campbells Soup cans on top of one another (complete with a "Ta-Dah!" with your hands when you're done, waiting for your applause). You have learned how to be funny, and how to receive applause graciously. You have learned how to love and how to show it with big, sloppy kisses and strong, hard hugs. You have learned how to fall and how to get back up. You have learned how to close the garage door and how to make me feel guilty when I accidentally close it first out of habit. You have learned the best way to maneuver out of a pair of socks, sometimes without even needing your hands. You have learned how to dance (sorta). You have learned how to giggle - that breath-taking, escalating giggle that echoes through the house whenever we catch your armpits with just the right amount of tickle or hang you upside down by your ankles.

And I have learned too. I have learned that I do have time to cuddle with you, every day, even when I don't think I do at first. I have learned that independence is a great thing, but trusting you with a bowl full of cereal is just plain foolish. I have learned that distracting you with mindless chatter about my day is the best way to confuse you into forgetting that you are getting your diaper changed. I have learned that it's really not that big of a deal if I don't change into real clothes, comb her hair, put on make up, or even shower some days until after dinner time. Or never at all. I have learned, or at least been reminded, that the simple things in life are sometimes the best -- that a piggy bank made out of baby food jar lids and a Pringles can is just as exciting (if not moreso) than the fancy ones bought at a store. I have learned that you cannot worry about the future when it's impossible to know what it holds, so the best you can do is look to tomorrow and, if you're really ambitious, the day after that. I have learned the alphabet song in Spanish. And I have learned what it truly means to love someone more than your heart can hold -- everything they are, everything they are not, and everything they will be.

Thank you, Evalee Ann, for being such a gift to our family. You amaze me more than words can say. Happy first birthday Ernie.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Drew and Alicia's wedding

Last weekend we drove down south for Drew and Alicia Hawkins's wedding! We timed our departure so that we could enjoy the afternoon playing with Alex and catching up a little with Adam and Molly (and catch Eva's naptime in the car), which worked out wonderfully. Alex and Eva were like long lost best friends: chatting at each other, giving hugs and kisses, and sharing (for the most part. We need to work on that) toys until it was time to go. Then we loaded up in Molly and Adam's new SUV and drove the next two hours down to Grafton. The location for the wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and we got to see the whole park because of a bit of a GPS snafu, haha. That ended up working out well for us, as we then got to stand in the back and the kids could crawl and walk around and not be a distraction to anyone. We then took advantage of the beautiful view to snap a lot of photos before heading inside to sit down for our meal. The kids were very good and entertained the lot of us until our food got there. Eva kept pointing to the door that led to the balcony and I wanted to check it out myself, so we went out there to take a few more photos before heading in to get our dance on. The music started around Eva's bed time so she didn't dance for too long before wanting to snuggle into my neck and be held, but she had a great time while she did. Then we left for Williamsville around 9:30 and got back around 11:30. Eva didn't get her nightime bottle so she woke up when we got back very mad at the world, and even after her bottle and some snuggles she didn't give back into sleep until around 1 a.m.
We got up the next morning to share some PopTarts with Alex, watch some Cars, and play with his ever fascinating NEW toys. The weather eventually got warm enough to sit outside and play on the porch! When the rest of the family made it back to Springfield we all met up for a yummy lunch before hitting the road again to come back home.
Trying to make Alex laugh outside playing.
Hanging out just before we had to leave.
With my aunts (minus Aunt Angie!)
There's a bit of family resemblance there. Not much, but it's there :).
Looking off into the distance.
Sharing a smile with the bride.
...and groom.
...and Grandma.
...and Uncle Trevor. Okay, here's more of spoon than a smile.

Us. <3

Spring Break = Love

Even though we didn't have the warm weather I was hoping for, I was determined to make spring break as much about "us" as possible. I finished my grading the first couple nights of break so I could put my school bag downstairs and just enjoy being a mom for a few days. It was awesome. On Monday we had a playdate with Ashlynn at the McDonalds Play Place. Eva ate a half a jar of food before the playing looked just too enticing, so they were off. She had never really played on any sort of equipment before, so she was a little shy at first. But Ashlynn was crawling up the ladder and going down the slide and having a blast and Eva (we learned) gives into peer pressure quite easily. Seeing all the other little kids toddling around the room made her very much want to join in. She did some great walking around from station to station, banging on the keys on the little piano bell thing they have, spinning the balls of the abacus, and even (after coaxing) going down the slide. She was all smiles when we were done.

We spent a lot of time cleaning the house, partly for spring and partly for Eva's party. She wasn't feeling very well Tuesday and Wednesday, so it made for some crying-filled afternoons. I thought maybe her ear infections were back or something, but we couldn't get in to the doctor to find out anyway. A couple doses of Tylenol and a trip to Grandma's for dinner and we were back on the road to normal.

We took advantage of the sunny afternoons playing outside a couple of times. She rolled around with her dinosaur in the driveway for about 20 minutes one afternoon before Daddy went to work and thought she was hot stuff. We also took some rides around in the wagon we found in the back of Grandpa's shed. On Thursday Eva sat outside on a blanket (much better than I thought she would) while Grandma and I cleaned up our yard. Our yard has been neglected since we moved in, mostly because we had a newborn last summer and landscaping wasn't a priority of mine. So, we pulled out lots of dead plants and grass and made way for some new life. This morning when I got home from work, a daffodil was already blooming!

Then on Friday we decided to do something we've been putting off for months: clean our carpeting. We have always hated our pink carpet with a fire-filled passion. When we signed the papers for the house, it was understood it was going. It was not understood yet, however, that a baby was coming. So, the expensive of new carpet got shoved down on the ever multiplying list of "someday" purchases. The carpet has since slowly become more and more disgusting. Finally, we couldn't take it anymore and Rug Doctored all of the carpet we own. I am SOOO glad we did, but it was a huge pain in the butt! The carpets were too wet for Evalee to be able to do anything all afternoon, so we took an impromptu trip to the Bettendorf Children's Museum to burn some energy there. And burn energy she did indeed. She was timid at first, just like at the Play Place, but about 10 minutes in she was literally hugging stranger children and telling them, very clearly, "Hiiiii!" We strolled through the bigger kids exhibit, me being a little nervous there would be nothing quite her level for her to enjoy. Then, when I had almost given up hope, we found the toddler area. She was in heaven. Soft things to crawl on, a refrigerator full of magnets it was okay to play with, a broom to sweep with, giant teeth to brush, a slide, bead mazes, a dance pad, play food.... so much to choose from. We were there playing for over two hours, and I'm convinced we could have been there for another two if she hadn't missed her nap and was completely exhausted. We will definitely have to go back soon. Then it was dinner at Grandma's, since we couldn't get to the stove or her bathtub, and off back home.

I really loved spending my entire day with her. We had such a good time playing and reading books and taking walks and having long drawn out conversations in the bath tub. It made me wish I could be with her all day every day, but I know that's just not a realistic idea and so I will instead relish the time that I do get and look forward even moreso to a summer filled with love and laughs. It's only 7 weeks away :).