Friday, December 28, 2007

Santa came, and he was a good boy

Jackson and his buddy Jacob (Theresa's son)
Many a conversation has been raised between Scott and I about today's consumerism - and how it directly relates to Jackson and our future children. Not to get too serious about what should be a playful and fun season, but how in the world can a kid have a level head about the realities of other economic classes (and, furthermore, other not so first-world countries) when he cannot see over the huge mound of toys in front of him? And, really, do kids NEED to have "it all?"

So our resolution to the conflict of "we-want-our-children-to-have-humble-surroundings" and "our-loved-ones-want-to-enjoy-the-fun-of-buying-for-a-child-and-watch-the-little-guy-go-nuts-over-the-novelty-of-new-stuff," we requested a few specifics: money for Jackson's education fund (check!), classic books that will involve both quality time and memories (check!), and - this one we did need - bath toys (check!). So Santa cooperated marvelously... or should I say, the Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles cooperated marvelously. And there were those darling outfits that popped in the mix too. Who can help but buy the soft fuzzy jackets & matching mittens/hat from Old Navy (thanks Aunt JO) or the adorablely sophisticated one-piece outfit from Jack and Jane (thanks AC and UB - Jack and Jane is my weakness, introduced originally by Girlfriend Beth)?

And the next round of requests will involve two new themes: experiences for Jackson (like zoo passes or tickets to the science museum) and family board games we can all play. Our thinking is that experiences are better than material items. But, I'm sure we'll get sucked into it all eventually (who are we kidding?).

Our holiday was really great. As I have been telling folks, the collective family time on Christmas Day was far less melancholy than I was preparing myself for. Everyone felt free to discuss Mom without reservation... memories and stories. And we had the excitement of all the cousins being one year older and the newness of a baby. So, it really felt celebratory. The place Mom's absence was felt most by me was in the more intimate family traditions: Dad, Scott and I opening gifts and being together on Christmas Eve and later Christmas Day. We not only were missing Mom, the one who added all the motherly female touches to Christmas, but we were also missing my brother, who is currently in Florida working on putting himself back together. So it felt small, VERY small. But not bad, really. Mom was just REALLY obviously NOT THERE. Where as in the bigger family gathering her missing role was not as clear-cut.

So, the funniest story of Christmas was when my heroic husband saved the night. I should say that 89% of the overall event was NOT funny. Only the end was funny, thereby making everything OK. My mother had the tradition of making breakfast pizza on Christmas morning EVERY year. Since we moved up the family gathering to earlier in the day, Dad, Scott and I decided to prepare our breakfast pizza this year for dinner.

It was my job. I was my role. It was my way of honoring the family tradition that Mom put into place years ago. So there I was in the kitchen, browning sausage, spreading the crescent roll on the pizza pan. When it came time for the sprinking of the cheese.... no dice.... I had forgotten the cheese! THE CHEESE! I mean, come on folks, there's a lot of ingredients you could potentially substitute or even forego. But CHEESE? It was a necessity. The whole plan would have been foiled without the cheese. I handled things pretty maturely, I must boast. Calm and collected, I reported this dilemma... not sure what exactly I wanted out of my report. I guess I just wanted to not think and to have the problem solved. Scott was well aware of the breakfast pizza's significance, so at 6:30pm on Christmas Day he strapped on his cape and flew out the door yelling, "I'll save the day!"

OK OK, so there was no cape. But looking back, that's how it felt. Needless to say, about an hour and five stops later, Scott returned. No grocery store or drug store or mini mart in town was either open or had any cheese remaining (been picked over by forgetful Christmas-Day-bakers like myself). So he returns with a plastic to-go cup filled with shredded cheese. It was PERFECT. And it came from a bar. He had walked in, worn out from his investigative journey, and said to the hostess "I need cheese. I'll pay anything for it. You have no idea the symbolic nature of this cheese." Thank goodness for the holiday spirit (or my husband's good looks), cuz she headed to the back and returned with that to-go cup with NO charge.

So the breakfast pizza was a huge success. Thanks to Scott.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Library books dedicated to Duncan

The Wellington School's library will feature two new books, both dedicated in memory to Duncan. The first is called "Heres a Little Poem," which is a collection of darling children's poems. The second is called "Imagine a Day," filled with creative imagery about child-like dreams.

Baby's First Christmas

Fun with Lynette and Henry! We had a yummy dinner and fun gift-opening to follow (We tried viewing a spectacle of lights at the nearby park, but Jackson was not in the right mood... aka, he was screaming his head off.)

But he was quite pleasant for the greedy part... TOYS!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A week of preparations

I have slowly become productive this week. It was a bit of a jolt from the busy task of being unproductive in FL. But I am here to say that:
1) Christmas shopping has been concluded....
THANK YOU NANCY for watching Jackson while I beebopped around town finishing these shopping errands. Below is a photo of those two. What a bond, huh? Nancy's favorite spot in the whole wide world is buried beneath a limp sleeping baby (Jackson is a very willing candidate).
2) Gift wrapping successfully completed...
THANK YOU JACKSON for your assistance... well, mainly in this shot was are practicing the skills of sitting up unassisted (a big week for progress here) and being self-occupied by shiny paper (a skill that will be required for endless hours this Christmas)
and #3) Candy-making all done!
THANK YOU KK, who spent this afternoon in my home with tedious tasks of dipping peanut butter balls and offering moral support. Below you will see her pictured with the fun sparkling champagne she has already purchased for our upcoming New Years celebration. Yippee.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Had to share one more

Aunt Jo just attached some photos from my time there in an email to me. The below one was included. I just HAD to share.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Our next door neighbor

Initially through a mutual friend who worked with me at Liberty High School and eventually through the journey at the hospital, we got to know the Zubers. Aaron and Tracy Zuber are parents to Brian, an HLHS baby as well. Brian and Duncan were neighbors in the ICU for several days when Brian was recovering from his stage 2 procedure. I have posted their blog address here, for you to take a peak at the Dec 5 entry. An ad featuring their family has been appearing in the Columbus Dispatch.

The Zubers have been very supportive to us. It is need to have been in each other's lives.


We just found out the total money donated to the Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital. And we are SO humbled. Wow. Beyond what words can express.

Thank you all. This is one heck of a Christmas gift to Duncan, to us, and to the many families whose children will benefit from your gift.

Honor of Duncan (from our half-marathon adventure)

Memory of Duncan

Total = 8,860.40

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dine, Drink, Dream, and David Grey

While I was doing some cookie baking with Becky, KK, Jackson and Bella yesterday morning, Scott got into one of his "modes." What I mean by this is... the man cleaned. He cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. When my husband works, he works hard (and the opposite is true as well...). So something lit a fire underneath him while I was gone and magic occurred in our home.

So when I returned, most of the chores that were on my to-do list were already accomplished (what a gift to me, huh?). We spent the afternoon playing with our son, eyeing the beauty of the winter wonderland outside, working on some mini projects, and reading. When dinner time rolled around, I could tell that Scott was experiencing a bit of cabin fever... he gets like this when all the "tasks" are accomplished and there's no other productive use of his time. And these moments are when I get nervous - because you never know what he's gonna come up with. These times are when he gets unpredictable and creative. I could tell he was getting squirmy, exploring ideas of how to spend our evening. Then, self-rejecting each one, one by one. Movie? No. Make dinner together? No. Invite neighbor friends over? No.

Then, he finally seemed to hit on the dream-night, thereby putting his pent up energy to rest: We were to have D, D, & D night. He would pick up a take-n-bake Donatos pizza, booz, and a fire log from Kroger and we would buzz together while dreaming about our futures in front of the fire (hence, Dine, Drink and Dream). So that's what we did. My only role in the night was adding the final "D," busting out a favorite David Grey CD (thanks Theresa!). Down went Jackson (quite effortlessly in fact) and we commenced to have a night of conversation and connectivity as a married couple. God bless Old Crow bourbon and raspberry Schmirnoff! It all began around 6:30 and ended around 11pm. Did I mention that after eating a full Donatos take-n-bake pizza, Scott ordered another Donatos pizza for delivery at 10:30pm? That should explain how much we drank. It was so much fun.

I think the Kroger bagger summed it all up when, upon observing the items Scott purchased, remarked, "Life just doesn't get any better than that, does it?" Scott said he told him, "Nope, it doesn't."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mom is forever at the beach

Part of the reason I went to Florida in the first place (besides the obvious reason one visits a sunny place with a beach and family when it's overcast and gray in one's hometown) was to be there for distributing the last of Mom's ashes. Mom made her wishes known about where her ashes were to be placed: some at the Barron River Lake where her Bridge Babes often partied and some in the gulf of Siesta Key. She was no dummy... she wanted to reunite with earth in the most beautiful spots! What an afternoon: Jackson, Aunt Jo, Uncle Darrell, Dad (who was visiting Florida himself for a few days; our time there overlapped by 2 days), Chad (our chauffeur), and I loaded Chad's magnificent boat (Chad is a good buddy friend of the Hills whose offer we accepted during our March Spring Break trip, when Mom was still with us but declining, to go on a boat trip... it was such a nice time, and it felt surreal this time around the remember the last time we were on that boat, Mom was too) and headed out on the water to where we could get a view of the beach upon which our family has vacationed since before I was born. Aunt Jo had brought along some gorgeous yellow and white daisies, Mom's favorite, and we experienced our goodbye's individually and collectively. It was sweet.

Jackson was napping while these emotional moments transpired, but was quickly reinvigorated when it came time to cruise at a whopping speed of 48 miles per hour (for those of you who aren't boat people, that's FAST) back to the dock. His little eye lashes were fluttering a mile a minute. But he, like usual, didn't seem to mind.

So that was one biggie for the week. But there were so many more. Namely, that I was offered the luxury of being a "kid" again. 2007 has required so much responsibility of me and, for the most part, I have met it with few complaints. But to be away from my home, away from laundry, away from my cell phone (for the most part), away from Christmas shopping (OK OK, we squeezed a little in at the end), away from anything truly requiring anything of me... that was golden. My meals were provided for me. Babysitting services were provided for me. And - best yet - a guaranteed spot reserved for me in that family was provided for me. So I kinda went into "kid" mode... just carefree and fun loving. It was just what the doctor ordered.

And the two mornings I went to the beach alone were also what the doctor ordered. I'd share what revelations I uncovered, but then no one would pay money to buy the book I'm gonna write. Ha. We'll see if that actually happens. But it IS crossing my mind...

And watching two girly movies was just what the doctor ordered: The Holiday and The Notebook. I like holidays and notebooks. And I like stories about deep love. And so it really worked out that Jackson decided to nap when I wanted to lounge on the couch and watch them with Aunt Jo.

Jackson experiences a plethora of firsts (but don't tell Scott, he's already depressed that we were away from him so long...). 1) His first time at the beach, 2) his first time in a pool (he prefers warm water, thank you very much!), 3) his first time sitting on Santa's lap (the nearby church where I interned one summer 7 years ago offered a Breakfast with Santa last Sat morning... how perfect!?), and 4) he rolled over from back to front for the first time, much from the coaching and practice Aunt Jo and Uncle Darrell offered.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

As Promised

OK OK, I admit it. I was having WAY too much fun in Florida to spend time indoors investigating how to upload pictures on to my aunt and uncle's computer. I mean to tell you, the weather in Sarasota, Florida in December is enough to make Mr and Mrs Claus reconsider their accomodations in the North Pole. Plus, the Hills' house just screams, "RELAXATION!" That is, when it's not blaring sensationally soothing Norah Jone and Bonnie Rate tunes from its indoor AND outdoor speakers. They have quite a set-up there.

So, we're back safe and sound. Even Scott has become quite attached to the blogging ritual. Once we buzzed over to Applebees as a family for dinner from the airport, Scott spent some quality time with his son who he swears grew fatter during the week he was away, we lay Jackson down for the night, and I took one look at the massive heap of clothes and baby odds and ends I needed to wash/put away from our trip --- Scott looked at me and said, "Well, ya better upload some of those pictures and put a post on the blog." That sounded better than reorganizing Jackson and my belongings in their appropriate spots.

The promised back-to-back photos of Jackson experiencing firsts both in Ohio and in Florida are below...Talk about extreme opposites.

Here's Jackson man squinting into the moisture of the falling flakes the day we departed (I had to slam a few doors to wake him from his nap just to toss him in this snonwsuit and subsequently in the snow leaving barely enough time to then head off to the airport)

And here we are on the Siesta Key beach. It wasn't the seaweed he disliked as much as it was the chilly ocean water. Brrrrr. Despite the gulfs chilliness, the FL temps were in the low 80s while we were there. NICE.

More on Florida later. I had lots of reflective moments, largely made available by Aunt Jo's babysitting services. And, furthermore, assisted heavily by the beach. What is it about sand, sun, waves, and an occasional sea gull that make the spirit smile and the mind crack wide open? It seemed so wrong, in moments, to have my head bent downward instead of admiring the beauty around me. But it's hard to scribble down all those thoughts jumbling in my head without actually looking at the paper. Besides, the mood was set just as much by the senses of smell, touch, and hearing as much as the actual visuals.

So I started that last paragraph with, "More on Florida later" and then continued to give a couple glimpses of my reflective experiences. But that's what I do. I say I'm not going to talk. And then I do. But, seriously, there is a lot more to discuss, including some great family moments with the Hills. It was a blessing of a trip.

For now, though, munch on these other photos from before we left. A couple are winners and I couldn't hardly pass them by.

And last but not least, this great photo of Fairy Godmother Becky (dressed in her father's Santa suit from when he visited families in December for good cheer!) introducing Old Nick to Jackson, who wasn't so sure about that beard.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Two Firsts in One Day

I'm here in polar Ohio, watching the white stuff fall like crazy. I am strongly considering getting Mr. Jackson in his snow suit and taking a picture to record his FIRST snow experience this morning. Then, we fly to Fl later this morning (barring any cancellations, we're already delayed!). There, I'll proceed to take more pictures of him in his first pair of swim trunks (provided, thankfully, by Theresa's now-one-year-old Jacob) in the warm swimming pool of Aunt Jo and Uncle Darrell's.

Hopefully I'll get some pics uploaded from there.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

8:30 am

Would you believe that our little boy has, for three nights in a row, slept through the night? On Thursday night he even pulled a 13 hour overnight: 7:30pm until 8:30 am. What a dream of a night's sleep for Mom and Dad too! We are, as you can tell, ecstatic about this progress, yet a bit skeptical that it was a fluke. We'll see if blogging about it jinxes us. Last night Scott and I took a little trip to Ann Arbor Michigan to spend time with Naveen and Kristin Sharma, our good buddy friends. We played Playstation karaoke (Scott was the winner over everyone... despite his howling like a dog) and watched endless hours of seasons 1 and 2 of "The Office." A wonderful overnight get-away, for sure. Gma Lynette took the overnight shift with Jackson and the Sutherlands kindly filled in for her during the last few hours. THANKS, babysitters!