Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Prelude to Alice Virginia's Birth Story

I began this post on July 27th and worked on it, along with the rest of the story, little bits at a time, not wanting to forget any detail.  I know it's long - feel free to pass on by if it's too long without any pictures - but empowering women through labor and delivery is a passion of mine.  I'd love for you to come back in the next few days for the conclusion of Allie V's birth story...

Today, I had my six week post-delivery checkup with the OU midwives; my last visit in the course of birthing Alice Virginia.  Meggie stayed home with my dad and I toted Alice Virginia along.  Miracle of miracles - my “no carseat” baby stayed asleep during the whole ride there, through my appointment, and all the way home.

I’ve driven that road back to the hospital three times now: one when I had my post-delivery bladder infection at less than a week, two when I drove to a spouses meeting out that way, and three today.  Each time conjured up intense nostalgic emotions about the early morning race Kyle and I took on the way to birthing Alice Virginia.

Parking in the parking garage, walking her up and into the elevator, stopping on the third floor, nestling myself amidst pregnant women in all stages of trimesters, the whole experience was bittersweet for me.

Sweet because I could look down and gaze on the lovely face of my baby girl, the reason for those months of visits, times of preparation.  We’re no longer expecting, Kyle and I, we’ve arrived - the proof curled up by my feet, one hand peeking out from her swaddle.  So many times before on this blog I’d written about my desire to “cross over” to the family of four side...and now we have.  We’re in it, growing into it, reveling, marveling, mastering.

But, bitter because the last visit to me symbolizes the end of a precious time for us - the expecting of our second baby.  The hope, the promise, the newness has been fulfilled.  We get to look forward, now, to other births and other babies.  Being there today I reflected not only on my pregnancy with Allie V and all those times of waiting to hear her heartbeat, wondering who she would be, what she’d look like, even what her name would be, patting my expanding belly, but my thoughts also turned to others near to me who are expecting their own bundles.

(Is it just me or does everyone out there know like ten people having babies in August-October?)

Time moves on, the bitter half really means.  We can’t stop it.  Time moves on.  Pregnancies end.  Babies grow up.  We pass through life.

I felt life today.  Life symbolic in my breathing, rosy daughter - who once kicked inside of my cacoon and now faces the world.  My arms are full of baby, but being there, my insides ached for one again.  I felt life today.

Allie V and I got a “good to go” clearance from the midwife who saw us today, and with a few short listens to my heart and lungs, we were given our final paperwork.

I kind of stammered my way through a good-bye. “Uh, wow, thank you, thank you so much for taking care of us.  We just loved you, we loved everyone we saw.  We were so happy here compared to last time - the next time we have a baby it may not be here, but we definitely want it to be with midwives somewhere.” 

She smiled indulgently, patiently waiting for me to stutter my way to a conclusion.  She glanced down at sleeping Allie V.  “Yes, I know good-byes are bittersweet - but that’s why we do what we do...to have a happy, healthy baby at the end.  Today’s been fun, I’ve gotten to see a lot of babies, today.  I like doing 6 week check-ups because we get to see the babies again.”  She comforts me out the door. 

In the course of my pregnancy with Alice Virginia, I saw each of the midwives at OU.  Our birth experience with Alice Virginia was different in every way from the one we had with the Meggie girl (which you can read about here), though each were special, marvelous in their own way, producing one of our precious girls. 

During my pregnancy with Meggie, I was a full-time graduate student and intern.  Not only were we taken by surprise with her coming, but between my school and work schedule and Kyle’s whoa deployment schedule (he was barely a 3P at that point), we didn’t have a lot of extra time to explore the type of care we wanted during pregnancy or what model of care might lead to the kind of birth experience we wanted. 

I had some inkling that I wanted to “go all natural,” but also felt pressured by family and society to choose a doctor for our prenatal care; we ended up seeing a local OB/GYN who delivers at one of the nicest hospitals in our area. 

Kyle and I connected well with our doctor and trusted his career-long expertise in birthing babies.  His care, along with that of most of the nurses, was one of the better parts of our birth story with Meggie.

Overall, though, we felt a drastic let-down when it came to the standard OB/GYN model of care throughout pregnancy and delivery.  Oftentimes, we felt unsupported and naive in our desire to deliver Meggie naturally - without any pain medication. 

Back then I didn’t really have substantial reasons for wanting to deliver without pain medication, I just knew that our mothers had delivered us naturally and their mothers before them and thought: well, if they can, then I can, too.  Plus, delivering without an epidural seemed (ahem) natural...women’s bodies have been doing it for centuries - we’re created with the ability to labor and deliver on our own - that’s what made sense to me a few years ago.

At the same  time, we didn’t take any measures to prepare for a natural childbirth except for a one-time natural birthing class where we practiced some laboring positions and relaxation techniques.  We should have been more prepared - but we weren’t.  When it came down to Meggie’s time to be born, Kyle and I weren’t confident enough in our desires or wishes to advocate appropriately for ourselves; we agreed to WAY more interventions than we had previously stated, and quickly lost control of her birthing experience once we got to the hospital.

(I do want to add, though, that I am not opposed to a medicated or assisted delivery.  I believe that every birthing situation is unique and needs to be approached with flexibility.  If we’re ever in another situation like we were with Meggie - 12 hours on pitocin with no dilation - definitely, hook me up to the epidural.  In fact, if I ever have to be on pitocin in any capacity again, give me that epidural. No question.  Each couple needs to determine what’s appropriate for them beforehand and during labor...and labor can be tricky.  Unpredictable.  The end goal is a healthy baby, healthy mom and any way you get there is what’s important.)

In the hospital with Meg, though I was enraptured by new motherhood and my first baby, I did experience a sense of disappointment...not in her, not really in myself - it was more a sense of my power being taken away - that I was somehow missing out on something that could have been REALLY great had events gone a different way.

My labor with Meggie had been so long, so difficult that I felt more relief that it was over immediately following her birth than an interest in my new baby.  Our bonding together felt disrupted, almost out-of-body like because of the “trauma” we endured to get her here.  The epidural numbed my body to sensation, and the trauma temporarily numbed my feelings to true emotion.
My recovery from the medication further added distress.  My legs swelled so from the IV fluid that I could barely walk, and I needed additional heavy medication to dull the pain. 

All along I experienced the nagging thought: there must be a better way to have a baby than this, there must be a different way.

I determined, then, that the next baby would have a different beginning.  Even if I still agreed to an epidural for the next one, I wanted it to feel like it was on my terms.  The summer that Meggie turned one, I started researching all I could find on conception, natural childbirth, and midwifery.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered in October that we’d get to test out a different way sooner than later. :)

Though I was gunning for a home birth, Kyle and I compromised with seeing midwives associated with a hospital.  This choice was motivated by several factors, the top two of which were wanting to be in a medical facility to cover all the “what-ifs” and insurance.

When it came down to the rubber meets the road, assuming a healthy, normal pregnancy and labor/delivery, we were looking for these qualities in our birthing experience with Alice Virginia:

We wanted to go into labor naturally.
We wanted my water to break on its own.
We wanted to have an as intervention-free as possible experience.
We wanted supportive nurses and other providers, skilled at working with natural labor patients.
We wanted access to a tub and other natural labor devices.
 We wanted to be able to move, but with intermittent fetal monitoring.
 We wanted a dim, quiet room, as few people as possible, and just Kyle as my support person - in his words, “Shannon, I want to be your doula!” :)

From the beginning, we prayed for an easy, quick, safe delivery of our baby girl.  We asked specifically for placement of the right nurses, midwives, and care providers; we prayed for it to happen on its own; and at the end, everyday, we prayed for patience to stick to our plan.  And, in every way possible, even down to the details, God, in his goodness and providence, answered these prayers in the story of Alice Virginia’s birth.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Stats are In

After a three hour doctor's appointment where Meggie jumped from one piece of furniture to the next in the waiting room, pulled out every glove from the drawers, and Allie V fell asleep right in the middle of the examining table, our 2 year-old and 2 month-old statistics are in...

Meggie weighs 31 lbs. and is 3 ft. 1 inch tall.  Both making her over 100% in height and weight for her age group.

Alice Virginia weighs 17 lbs. 11 ounces and is 25 3/4 inches long.  Both making her over 100% in height and weight for her age group.

It's official. We're raising up one big ole', good-looking volleyball team. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Two-Year-Old Meggie

Meggie girl turned two-years-old today.  I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence.  How can it be true that my lovely, inquisitive, compassionate, fiery Margaret Lillian has been in the world for two whole years today?  At once, the time seems so short and so long.  I cannot fathom how different our lives would be had she not entered into them.  How thankful we are for her; for her spirit and giggle, independence and love.

We didn't have a big celebration this year with welcoming Alice Virginia two months ago and a big move ahead of us.  But we did have a special dinner after church with our old friend, Erika, and her sweet babes, Hunter and Lily.  I think Meggie had some idea that today was her special day because she kept repeating, "happy daddy," (which we figured out does not mean 'daddy' as in Kyle, but is actually Happy Birthday) every time she saw her cake in the refrigerator.  She was extra full of life all day and is just now winding down in her crib from all the sugar.  :)

We tried really hard to get a family picture, but Meggie was having too much fun playing with her friends to smile for the camera.  I wanted to add this sequence of pictures, though, just to capture the "real life" essence of some moments at our house.

I think I was thinking, "I surrender..."

So funny.  Not a single one of us is looking. :)
Poor Kyle. He spent most of his weekend on duty as CDO talking on the "watch phone."  At least he's a good multitasker.

Always on the go. Our Meggie girl.

That's better.

Meggie and Lily

Sweet Sissy Kisses.
We let her stay up a little later than usual to have some coveted just Meggie and Mama and Daddy time once baby sissy was in bed, and she spent that time playing with her new sippie cups and doctor's kit.  When we tucked her in for the night, Kyle asked her if she had had a good birthday.  She blinked up at him and asked, "Happy Daddy Again?"  (Can we do my happy birthday day again tomorrow?)  Smile, smile.  Even with the little celebration, Kyle being CDO, the extra sugar from too much cake and icecream, she had a good day.  And that makes us happy - to know that she knows, even in just a small way, how precious she is to us, how precious she is to the one who fashioned her into being.

Happy Daddy, Meggie. We love you so.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What's Next?

Look who found her way into my bed this morning...sigh...I could make a habit out of this one.
 Hello, there.  It’s been a few days at the VH household.

So, I started this post last Sunday.  And, then, Sunday night I started reading a series of three books that Lauren recommended to me...I was trying to save them for beach reading, but that didn’t happen.  Because for the last three days, I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing The Hunger Games.  I seriously can’t stop thinking about it.  I finished them all in two days and reread the ending like five times.  First time I’ve ever done that with a book. For real, hear me on this: do not start reading these books unless you have a large chunk of undisturbed, quiet time.  You won’t be able to stop.  I even stayed up until 2:00 am to finish one - so not smart with a newborn, but I could. not. say. no. to. that. book.

Couple that with Allie V back to waking up every three hours at night, the normal growing pains associated with assimilating Kyle back into our routine (at this age with the girls, three weeks means a LOT of changes), and a little escapade that Douglass the dog pulled this morning, and there you go.  The time lapse.
I love her Powell eyes and lips.
I’ll fill you in on a few details:

I guess Douglass got tired of waiting around for us to feel “normal” enough to take him on walks again.  This morning, he snuck through a hole in the fence and took himself for a nice little jaunt around who-knows-where.  Because when I discovered he was missing, I had no idea how long he’d been gone or where he went.  Meggie and I took to the outdoors calling his name and clapping.  No Douglass.

My heart was pounding and I frantically called Kyle (we were supposed to be leaving for Meggie’s first day of MDO, and I had no idea what to do about the doog!)  Half-way through my distress call, I saw Douglass come trotting up the driveway, soaking wet and muddy, looking cheeky and quite proud of himself.  I was so upset that right into the phone I trilled:

“DOUGLASS! THAT WAS NAUGHTY BEHAVIOR!”  I’m sure Kyle and half his office appreciated that.  Perhaps I’ve been hanging around toddlers too long?
Meggie on her first day of MDO 8.25.11
After I collected myself and dropped Meggie off late, Allie and I drove to the new outlets in OKC.  I’m probably about to alienate myself with my next statement, but shopping is just about my worst nightmare.  I’ll tag along with friends or when I absolutely cannot no way avoid going to a store, but shopping for fun or by myself?  Ugh. Blech. Never.

But, a little someone’s two-year-old birthday is this Sunday, so a’ shoppin’ I must go.  Poor thing, we’ve stopped all unnecessary items from entering our home until we MOVE (hint for the below post’s content), so she’s just getting sippie cups and PJs for her birthday.  Lame.  But, hopefully she’ll love her cake and ice cream?! :)

Which brings me back to my original purpose and because it’s hateful to keep you in suspense for too long...

Kyle’s official time in his current squadron is up this December.  He’s been with the Ironmen for the last three years on his first sea tour - for non-Navy folks that means he’s been eligible for deployment.  And deploy he has!

After the initial sea tour, he goes on a “shore tour” - a three-year stint where he’s home most of the time and investing himself in Navy doings stateside.  There are two things about Kyle’s job that he loves the most: to fly and to teach.  In my opinion, he was born to do both - he excels as a pilot and as a teacher, coach, dad.  He’s been desiring to combine both of these loves as an instructor pilot in a training command for his shore tour.

Right around the time Alice Virginia was born, Kyle was meeting with the detailer and planning out our next station.  We’d been praying for months that we’d have clarity in the end, that the choice would be obvious, that wherever we were meant to be would just pop out at all the decision-makers. 

It was a stressful time.  Everyday Kyle would come home from the office with a different piece of news or speculation.  It seemed like the projected slots were always changing...and, oh yes, I was due to have a baby any day.  My anxiety levels reached such a high that I could. NOT. discuss “the future” anymore, and trusted Kyle with the decision, knowing that God would not fail in his promises to our family.  I focused on having that big ole’ ten pound, beautiful girl and just recently have begun processing more what changes are to come in the next year.

We received verbal orders about the first week in July, but shared only with a few people as verbal orders aren’t a sure bet.

Then, an unexpected six months in advance, our written orders came in last Thursday.  Kyle’s been slated to be an instructor in VT-35, located in Corpus Christi, TX, teaching student pilots to fly the TC-12B (a Navy version of the King Air 200), beginning no later than March, 2012.
Here it is...the venerable TC-12B
 That gives us about seven months to pack up here, prepare a house for market, sell our house, find new housing in Corpus Christi, and relocate to a new place to which neither of us have ever been.

When he met with the detailer, he said that out of the options presented, these orders clearly stood out and felt confident that Corpus is the next place for us in God’s plan for our lives.

Professionally, this move will be great for our family.  We hear the working hours are conducive to spending more time at home, and we’re hoping to live on or near the base, so Kyle could come home for lunch - a welcome change from the relatively lengthy commute he has now.  He’s tremendously excited to have this opportunity to fly another multi-engine plane.  Most of all, he’s ready to be a teacher, instructing students in an art that he adores.

Corpus is right on the beach, so we’re thrilled about raising a couple of beach babies - at least for the next few years and that we’re still within driving distance to visit my frousin and Lauren’s family in Houston.  In my mind, I guess I picture us being able to walk to to the beach and the pool if we’re on base, and that thought brings me joy.

BUT, (and I never thought I would say this as I AM a Carolina girl at heart) we’ve come to love Oklahoma.  Our friends here, our church family, our neighborhood, the fellowship of locals, the back roads drive to town, our “village.”  Saying good-bye will be excruciating.  So, right now I’m kind of existing in denial.

I know we’re in the military, we know moving is not only a possibility - it’s an inevitability, but I guess, somehow, we both thought we’d be staying on in Oklahoma for now.  Neither of us are strangers to moving as both our families moved frequently growing up, and we both do love the adventure that this type of change brings, but we’ve grown comfortable here.  Here, where we’ll miss our first little house.  The house to which we brought our children home.  Our tree house, where the windows open to reveal sunshine and oak leaves.  Here, where there are friends to bring Sonic treats from down the road when we’re feeling lonely and here, where we’ve grown and been challenged in our faith.  Here feels like home.

And Corpus Christi doesn’t. Yet.

That’s what’s next.  We’re thankful for the blessing of finally knowing, of having “a next” to look forward to, and that that “next” means good things for our family. For people who worked on our behalf to secure these orders.  That Kyle has an opportunity to provide for our family in a way that he loves, that he’s fulfilling his calling each and every day. We lift our chins to see the change that’s coming, anticipating a new kind of life in a new place.  Corpus Christi WILL feel like home, just like it does here, and I know there are friends there, too.    

In this wild, refining, rewarding Navy wife life, that’s what’s next.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Splashes of Sugar, Sprinkles of Spice

You know that old phrase: "less is more?"

Well, sometimes that's wrong.

Sometimes, more IS more.

As in, when one monkey band-aid is good, one bajillion monkey band-aids are better. Especially when you're one week from being two-years-old and learning your colors.

"Gen (green). Lellow (yellow). O - ranges (orange). Wed (red). and Buuu (blue)," as she sticks them onto her shin.

And, when one bib does well to keep you clean, ten bibs do better to keep you clean. She put them on herself and was captivated by a music video on the computer in this picture.

I was on my way to putting Meggie down for bed this week and she heard Allie V stirring in her crib. She tightened her grip around my neck, nuzzled into my shoulder, and breathed, "I wub you, Mama." As we passed Alice Virginia's room she called, "I wub you, Baby Sissy." A sweet first in the lives of my girls, this declaration of love.

One more thing I don't want to forget, Alice Virginia's first bottle. Kyle graciously kept both girls for me last night so that I could sneak away to see a movie with a friend. I don't think the night went well for him, but I came home super relaxed and re-energized. We tried Allie out on a bottle before I left, just to make sure she'd take one for Daddy. I'm not surprised - after a couple minutes of confused fussing, she figured out it was breastmilk and happily guzzled 4 ounces. Oh, my easy baby.

(Just ignore the big pillow covering half her face - don't really know why that's there.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Home. Plus Allie V's 2 Months.

Guess who snuck into my bed in the wee hours of Thursday morning?


Baby #2 stole any light-sleeping tendencies from my body and I barely remember him crawling in beside me. I have a faint, dream-like memory of him saying, "I'm home. I love you." Before being totally. out. I'm lucky I hear the baby monitor when Alice Virginia needs me. :)

For us, it's been almost three years of continuous deployments. The E-6 community differs from the wider Navy in that instead of being gone for one big, long 8 or 9 month deployment over the first "sea" tour, these pilots and NFOs are deployed every other month (and sometimes sooner) for three years. Constant hails and farewells...but with no celebratory send-off or homecomings. Somewhat anticlimactic for the amount of sacrifice they make away from family.


We made it to the end of the (hopefully) second-to-last one AND the first one post-second baby.

We made it.

Now, we have a little more breathing room before the next and (hopefully) final one. We DO have our official set of orders for the next station in this Navy journey, but I'm saving that for another post. :) God has been good to our family, and provided a clear indication of where we're supposed to be next in his plan for our lives - directly answering months of prayer and uncertainty.

Since he came home, we've been basking in being all together - not only staying around the house, but taking the girls on fun outings that I haven't been brave enough to try on my own yet.

It's a girl's world at our house.

When Kyle and I got married, we never thought we'd have all girls in our family (as Kyle came from one of all boys). But, somehow it all fits together and Kyle is the sweetest, most patient, sensitive daddy to little girls. Right now he's rocking Alice Virginia to sleep, shushing her in his comfortable arms.

This morning, we went to Bouncin' Craze - a fun indoor playground filled with huge inflatables. Meggie is getting to be the perfect age to really enjoy crawling, jumping, and climbing on the equipment. Absolutely fearless, she tumbles down the highest slides with a gleeful smile, asking for more. I can't wait to see both of our girls playing together soon - for now, Allie V slept the whole time in the Baby Bjorn. I'm enjoying the experience of raising an exceptionally easy-going baby - content to be in the company of her family, no matter where we take her. She's an angel baby. I guessed she might be this way from her personality in the womb, but I love seeing the various ways she expresses this trait in the real-world.

I love her expression in this picture - all curled up at the top of a slide.

Alice Virginia celebrated her 2 month birthday this past week on Tuesday, August 16th. I'm not sure of her stats because we're combining her well-baby checkup with Meggie's 2 year appointment, but she's. BIG. Already in six-month clothes, we hear she takes after the VH boys on K's side. 19 lbs, 20 lbs, and 21 lbs at four months, respectively. Meggie was about 17 lbs at 4 months and I think Allie V's already topped out above that weight at 2. She's healthy, and we adore her chubby cheeks and dimply hands. So often I exclaim, "Oh, Allie V, you are so adorable, I could just eat YOU for lunch," and both girls just collapse into giggles.

She's sleeping better and longer at night these days. Each night she sleeps for about an 8 hour stretch. This stretch is usually between 7:00 and 8:00 pm - 2:00 and 3:00 am or 10:00 pm - 5:00 or 6:00 am. She's also now in her own room, her own crib. Allie V is generally a good napper, too, although she does NOT like to take naps in her crib. She sleeps best in her carseat, swing, or being held.

I just laugh when I think about her napping because Meggie slept best in her crib. We knew early on that if we were to take Meggie anywhere at Allie's age, that girl would be up. For hours. As long as it took us to be out.

I think it's going to be a matter of me staying home a bit more to practice her naps, but feeling stuck inside with a baby who may or may not sleep in her crib has me a bit terrified. We're also scared to put her down in her crib during Meggie's nap time because their rooms are right next to each other and Meggie's an historically light sleeper. Two girls at home and no naps is even more terrifying. :) So, for now, Allie V sleeps anywhere she can during the afternoon and when I'm feeling brave, we make a go for the crib.

Angel baby.

porcelain doll. That's our Allie V.

At 2 months, Allie V is wearing size 3 diapers (FYI: Meggie's in size 4 at almost 2 years.) and nurses around 7 times within a 24-hour period. She has a distinct preference for one side. Meggie, of course, preferred the other one. We've also noticed that she's starting to show interest in toys on her play gym and bouncy chair and will actually reach out to grasp objects.

We haven't really established a daytime schedule yet.


At 2 months, Alice Virginia smiles easily and laughs with her tongue stuck out. Precious. Lately, she's begun to coo and smile at me when I get her out of her crib in the mornings. All it takes for her to smile is the tiniest look in her direction, and I'm amazed, everyday, at how much more I love her. Before she was born, it was hard for me to imagine loving anyone as much as I loved her sister OR that I could possibly love both of them that same amount. I mean, how much love can one heart hold?

case and point. Allie with my sweet friend, Erika.

I'm almost startled everyday to find that this love is easy, it's growing, and it's abundant. And, it's in different ways according to their personalities and their current needs of me. Amazing. The blessing overwhelms me.

Here they are together, my two girls at 2 months each...

Alice Virginia

Margaret Lillian

What do you think?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Faces of Today

We've had a good, but busy day. Made it to church this morning (wahoo!! Allie V made it all the way through Sunday School and the service without needing to nurse!) and then were back tonight for a going-away dinner in honor of a dear couple from our Sunday School class. The kids had the best time running around the gym, scooping up basketballs and chasing each other. With one hand around Alice Virginia and two eyes always on Meggie, constant friends offering to hold the baby or chase after Meg, I was reminded again of that phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child." As a full-time military wife and half-time single mother, I've been poured into full-measure by our friends from church, the neighborhood, and the Navy over these past three years of Kyle's sea tour. There is no, NO way that I will ever be able to repay all these dear ones, I can only hope to pass forward the blessing when we're in a more stable life season.

Tonight, I saw other fathers steering Meggie in the right direction and other mothers lifting me up. With tears in my eyes, I know we're gonna miss this village.

And, for Daddy, sweet faces of your girls today:

oh my goodness - does this picture capture Meggie's personality or what?
(please ignore the huge, hideous black shadow of the camera's flash)

your "little O'Connell" baby

oh, Meggie and her cups.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Splashes of Sugar, Sprinkles of Spice

I wish I had pictures to go with this Saturday's edition of Splashes, but I don't. Sigh. I had the perfect opportunity this morning at the Farmer's Market, Meggie's first taste of summer sno-cones dripping from her chin, sticky hands clutching her treat, and I forgot my camera. Hopefully, I'll get one before the days out because these girls look EXTRA cute today. :)

At night, I’ve started asking Meggie if she would like to pray for anyone or anything. Most of the time she answers “Ky-kee,” her name for her friend, Kyla, down the street. So, we pray for Kyla, that God would be near her, thanking Kyla for sharing her toys and playing with Meggie.

One night after Kyle left this most recent time, I asked Meggie if she had anything special she’d like to ask God for.

She answered: “happy. Daddy. happy. Daddy.” It took me a moment to process her words, but she seemed insistent that those were the ones she meant.

I clarified: “Would you like to pray that Daddy’s happy at work right now?” (when Kyle’s deployed we tell her that Daddy’s working and flying his big, white airplane.)

She nodded. “Happy. Daddy. Happy. Daddy.”

Oh, my precious angel. That night and the nights since, we’ve prayed that Daddy’s happy wherever he is and that he comes home to us soon.


In my last post, I wrote about how Kyle’s appearance rescued me from a particularly hard night and bedtime. Maybe you wondered what made it so difficult?

I can’t believe I’m about to record these words. In public.

Meggie loves anything with a top that she can practice screwing on and off. Seriously, her fine motor skills rival mine. Her little fingers are adept at opening contact lens cases, milk bottles, olive oil, ... and medicine. Take this skill and couple it with her above-average height and speed. Imagine.

For those of you who know and love her, can you guess where this is going?

Right now, we’re working really hard on teaching her to give back the “no-nos.” She typically reaches wa-a-a-a-y up on the counter, grabs something we’ve tried to hide up there, and while we’re watching, runs away with it, trying to get it open. Most of the time she does well with returning the items...unless I’m nursing.

(Side note: I had an epiphany this week. I thought, Shannon, why don’t you just keep the counter clean! I mean, seriously, put the stuff back where it goes after it’s used. :) haha - check back in a couple of months and my routine just might be a little more under control. I hope.)

So, I was nursing Allie V this Monday night on the couch. I had a video on for Meg which she was kind of watching while also twirling around the floor. I brought the milicon out to give to Allie - she struggles with a lot of gas. This whole time Meggie was watching me with the milicon. I dosed Allie up and then laid the bottle beside me just long enough to change her position.

Before I’d turned back around, Meggie was there, bottle in hand and galloping across the room. I saw her turning the lid and called, “Meggie! NO! Do not open that bottle. That is medicine (okay, so it won’t hurt her to drink it, but the principle’s the same. It LOOKS like medicine.). Listen to Mama’s words and no. NO. touch.”

She gave me her mischevious smile, twirled open the bottle, and started drinking.

Swiftly, I propped up Allie V and made my way to Meggie, who surrendered the bottle when she saw me coming. In the moment, I wasn’t quite sure what to do - but knew I had to discipline her for disobeying my instructions. I told her to “sit on your bottom” until I could decide on a course of action. I turned away to place the milicon bottle as far back on the tv stand as I could reach and then faced Meggie again.

“Uh-oh.” She said. “Uh-oh POOP.” Her knees were open wide and she was gesturing to the floor. When I asked her to sit on her bottom - the major poop that I didn’t know was in her diaper - squished out of both sides all over the floor.

I mentally threw my hands up and wailed. But to Meggie I calmly said, “Ok, sweetie, we’re gonna have to clean you up before our consequence for not listening to Mama’s words.” I helped her up, deciding to leave the poop on the floor until I could clean Meggie - we went to her room.

Oh, and insert baby crying here.

A few minutes later we reemerged to find the poop missing from where we left it. Douglass wagged his tail and looked guiltily at me from beside the couch.

I can only deduce that (gulp.) Douglass. Ate. Her. Poop. I am still not over my disgust. And I’m a dog person.

I threw Douglass outside - willing him not to breathe in my face - and gave my attention back to the girls. Both of whom were crying. We still had bathtime, jammie time, song-time to go.

And you know the rest of the story.


We were coming home from an errand. As per the usual, Allie V was crying in her carseat.

(I’m realizing that most of my stories involve Allie crying. I guess that’s when the funny, sweet, memorable things seems to happen. But, I don’t want to give the wrong impression. Alice Virginia has the absolute sweetest disposition, the sunniest smile, the dewiest eyes. More often than not, I can count on her to coo and gurgle rather than cry. She really only cries in the car or for an hour at night before bed or with gas. I promise.)

We’ve realized that she’s comforted by KNOWING her family is near, so instead of reaching for her paci, I was singing her name to her from the front seat:
“Al-lice Vir-gin-ia, oh, Al-lice Vir-gin-ia, it’s alright. You’re okay. We’re all here.”

Meggie was just as helpful, but not so patient. She surprised me by announcing to the car that she knew her sister’s name. Not Baby. Not sissy. But ALICE.

She started soft in my same sing-song voice: “Awice. Awice. Awice. Awice.”

And then. Crescendoed in a whole-hearted, nobody can screech at this decibal like Meggie, kinda fashion: “AAAAA - WWWWIIIICCCEEEE.”

I think we were all struck silent. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friends and Visitors

It's naptime. Both girls are sleeping - in their own cribs. :) Alice Virginia, I realized, had never taken a nap in her crib (oh, how different I am this time around than with Meggie...a little from necessity and a lot from choice) and struggles to ward off the 45 minute intruder unless she's upright in her swing or carseat. So, we're practicing.

I just rocked my biggest girl to sleep. Since the baby came home, she's been a little wound up around bedtimes and I've just had to "throw her" jumping, shouting, singing into her crib out of exasperation. But, today is a strange day (more on this later) and whether it be from sleepiness, off-scheduledness, or neediness, she fell asleep in my arms while we sang songs. The weight of her there felt good to this weary mama.

We had a fantastic time with Lauren. She's the kind to jump right in and immediately took over half the care of the girls, the cooking, and all the little things that I find after she's left. As in, "hey, somebody cleaned out the coffee pot" and "oh, somebody took out the trash" and "how did the Sunday paper get up here on the counter?" Her company always is a comfort to me and I love the thought that she's just a quick drive up I-35 in Manhattan. In fact, the girls and I are planning a trip to see her in October and I'm literally counting the days.

remember our farmer's market visit...tadah! our dinner on Saturday - don't you wish you were at our house?

just look at this precious chunk-a-munk...16 pounds at 7 weeks

Her visit made me feel nostalgic. I thought back to when we met as freshmen in college. We're both kind of shy in our own ways at first. When we were introduced by our future roommates, Amanda and Jillian, we each thought the other one was a big snob because of our quiet insecurities. We were standing outside a line for recruitment and I noted Lauren's matching belt and purse. I thought she was the bee's knees of fashion (coupled with being from Texas) and was totally intimidated. She thought I thought I was too good for her. :)

OH, how it makes me smile now knowing the way I love her. Love her kindness. Love her sense of humor. Love her love of victorian literature. Love talking to her for hours. About everything. Still love her sense of style. Just plain love that girl. And so do my girls.

Lauren and Allie V


Lauren, Allie V, and Meggie Girl

note the cups. Meggie's latest fascination - everyday she asks to play with "mo cups pease. tops. mo tops pease." when we asked her to take this picture, she said, "cups?" and ran to include them.

and then we tried to get one with both of us...too close

too awkward.

and, there we go! love that little face down in the corner!

had to sneak this one in here...Lilly, Meggie, and Hunter - from our playdate down at Erika's house on Monday.

Monday night we had a surprise visitor. Daddy stumbled in the back door after repeatedly trying to open the chained front door...courtesy of a Meggie monkey. I immediately stumbled into his arms, sobbing. Allie V wailed from her crib. Meggie ran circles around the couch. I'm sure he was quite overwhelmed. He kept quizzing me: "SHANNON. Are you alright? Is somebody hurt? Did something happen?"

Only my intense relief that he was actually home.

He was also a direct answer to prayer. At the very moment I heard his car door shut outside Meggie's window, I was praying for God to move, to help me through that particularly hard bedtime. He sent me the one person that I most wanted to see.

Sometimes during his deployments they pop in and out - I had never been so glad to see him as I was that night. I was also never so glad he was home as I was last night.

Around 1:00 in the morning, Kyle and I woke up to a huge bang and a siren like our alarm system setting off. As we leaped out of bed, we heard thunder clapping and sharp rain gusts pelting the window. Our electricity was off. Kyle found our camping lantern in the tornado cabinet of our bathroom and went to inspect - I followed him. As we passed Meggie's room, we heard her shouting for me, so I swooped her up. Thankfully, Allie V slept on.

Kyle held up the lantern. The wind was gusting so hard that the pressure differential had blown open the interior door leading in from the garage (that was the loud noise we heard) and the garage door was buckling and smashing against the house. Kyle had me take Meggie and Douglass into our bathroom and wait in the tub - we had no way of knowing if we were in a tornado because of the power outage and the networks to our phones were flooded. I'll tell you what - never in my time of living in OK have I heard anything that sounded like last night.

My heart was racing, and Meggie, to her credit, who's been tempted lately by turning the bathroom faucet on and off, stayed still throughout the whole ordeal. We lit candles and waited out the storm, Kyle standing ready to grab Allie V from her crib if we needed to take full cover.

Later, we heard that the wind gusts were over 90 mph. I believe it.

This morning, my neighbor and I walked around the neighborhood surveying the damage. Our basketball goal fell over, shattering, and part of our fence blew down, but other than that, we escaped. All throughout the neighborhood trees were down, playsets over, and holes appeared in roofs of houses. Oh, how grateful I am that Kyle and his dad cut down that old dead tree in our yard a few weeks ago.

Our electricity finally came back on around 12:00 this afternoon.

That storm was one visitor I was glad to see leave!

my Alice Virginia is so big that one of the only 6 month size summer outfits I had was this one from fourth of July. :)