Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Fun

The holidays this year have been great. Emma actually understands what presents are and the joy of opening them to find something exciting inside. She quickly learned that any hard-to-open packages should be taken directly to Daddy after unwrapping, since he's the one with the handy pocket knife.





We drove around to look at Christmas lights on several occasions and Em always enjoyed the experience. She recognizes Santa and Baby Jesus and loves to point them out to us. She likes Christmas songs and the classic animated movies. She now knows about snowmen, reindeer, and Santa. It is adorable and so much fun.

Barry's sister gave Emma a doll and stroller. Emma is in love. She plays with that doll more than any other toy now, and she insists on sleeping with her during naps and at night.

This time of year I am especially grateful that we have family so near. I am also extremely thankful to have gained so many kind family members through marriage. My last grandparent, my Grandpa who is one of my favorite people in the universe, passed away shortly after I got married. Now, through my husband, I have loving grandparents again and it is wonderful. Christmas wouldn't be quite the same without grandparents.

I hope all of your holiday celebrations have been full of family, friends, laughter and love. I also hope that 2012 brings you health, peace, and joy. There are so many things lying ahead.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doing Things the Long Way

When I was pregnant with Emma I didn't realize there were so many parenting styles out there. Apparently you can be Crunchy or Silky, you can follow Ferber or Sears, believe in crying-it-out or attachment parenting. There are the options to breastfeed or feed formula, or heck, pump and bottle feed breast milk. There are decisions about where the baby sleeps: your bed, a bassinet in your room, a crib in their own room. The lists go on and on and on. All of the little choices one makes add together and, for some people, place one into made up categories of motherhood.

I never got into all of that.
I decided to breastfeed because I figure God gave me breasts for that reason. I chose to follow my instinct in most other areas. Emma has been sleeping in her own room since she was six weeks old because I couldn't sleep when she was in a cradle in my room. We've done our own thing and not worried about the classifications out there.

At some point I saw a video online that showed the benefits of rear-facing car seats for toddlers. That's when I decided to categorize myself as a believer in extended rear-facing. I was hoping to keep the Bean facing backwards until February when she turns two, but I had Barry turn her seat around last week. I would have held out longer if it weren't for her darn arthritis. Now that she is bigger, she can't stretch out and change leg positions when rear-facing. I don't normally worry about it, but we spent four hours in the car last weekend and I didn't want her joints to get stiff. So, the kid is facing forward and I feel like she grew up suddenly.

The other category I have found myself in is that of extended breastfeeding. It's not something I planned to do ahead of time, it has just worked out this way. I learned about the option of child-led weaning and thought that sounded like a good idea and decided to give it a try. So, Emma nurses once each night and she is 22 months old. We'll stop when we stop, I'm not worried about it. I'm also not super passionate about it, so you don't have to worry about me marching around holding up a sign to advocate extended breastfeeding.

If you know me well, you know that I'm a bit of a nervous, easily stressed out spaz when it comes to some things in life. However, when it comes to parenting choices I'm finding myself to be pretty neutral. Do what works for you, and let others do what works for them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Amazing.

My blog's title is so appropriate. Not only did it become one of my favorite hymns, (Listen here!) but it really captures my sentiments most of the time. I look around at the events unfolding in my life and I am completely awed and amazed. So, this specific entry's title may be a little redundant, considering the big title across the top of the page, but amazing is how I feel at the moment, so the title is staying.

Since having a child I've noticed that people love to talk about how quickly time passes. Strangers at the store comment on how cute Emma is, then proceed to tell me that their youngest is in college now, or their oldest just started middle school, and how quickly it all goes. I can appreciate that, and I love that my Bean helps parents to pause and reflect on the growth of their own children.

Watching Emma grow up is exciting. It's amazing, really. I've always been more of a fan of children than infants, so I'm enjoying the fact that she is becoming more and more of a little girl and less of a helpless baby. Take a look at the two pictures below.

Dec. 2010

Nov. 2011


















Last year we were sticking her in containers and being silly. She could only crawl and wasn't able to get in there on her own. Now, I leave her alone for five minutes and come back to find her being silly all by herself, because she can. It's liberating.

Another reason why I'm so full of amazement today is that my daughter is so strong and brave. Since her diagnosis of JRA six months ago, Emma has endured many very stressful experiences including two X-rays, at least six blood draws, a TB test, daily oral medications, and weekly injections. These are things that adults don't like to deal with and she is not even two years old. All of it was very hard at first, very overwhelming, but my kid is resilient. She has become so tough, and during today's blood draw she didn't even cry. Not a whimper.

I am amazed to see her blood results show her incredible response to treatment. One test called ESR, which measures inflammations, has a normal range of 0 - 20 mm/hr for someone Emma's age. Six months ago her ESR was 87 mm/hr. Today it is 9 mm/hr. Normal. I want to shout it from the rooftops!

I am so thankful that the inflammation in her body is decreasing. I am so grateful that my girl is responding to treatment. I am so grateful that these medications exist, that they have been tested and approved for use in children. That is why we're participating in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk next weekend. The money raised goes to develop and test medications to treat arthritis, so people like Emma can regain a little bit of normalcy in their lives.

Walk with us. Join Team Emma or make a donation, please.