CLICK HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES »

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lucky Break

Elaina's NOT sick!

Whew, what a relief! Eric and I were caught off guard last night with Elaina's early bedtime request and must have checked on her at least a dozen times between us. This morning, she woke at her usual 7:00 hour and turned on the music from her aquarium toy. I happily retrieved her from her bed and savored my good morning hug. We snuggled in bed, watching the last 10 minutes of Miffy and Friends on Noggin, before I forced myself back into reality and made myself get ready to go to work. I have to say that I could have easily talked myself into taking the entire day off to spend with her since I missed her so much.

Elaina was the only kid at the babysitter's house today since the local schools had closed due to the snow and the fact that the other kids' moms are teachers. Not a bad day to soak in all the spoiling all by herself. Our lucky little girl. Too bad this mom doesn't get snow days.

After trudging through the snow and my day at work, I came home to my favorite smiling girl and we began our fun. Like I had mentioned earlier, Elaina is beginning to like pears.And now, I've learned that she doesn't so much love the pear skin.

She was such a pleasure tonight and even called to wish Grandma W. a "HppyDay Maw-ma." That is "Happy Birthday Grandma!" in Elaina speak.

Elaina's favorite books by far continue to be Dr. Seuss's, "Hop Pop" (Hop on Pop) and the dum, ditty, dum book which is Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. Other favorites include Goodnight Moon and the collection of Sandra Boynton books. (courtesy of Aunt Kate)I love hearing her read to herself!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Getting Connected

Since late last week, we've been experiencing trouble with our phone line and internet connection. Tonight, the cable man came to access the problem. This dear man arrived 2o minutes after our 2 hour time window, and in the bitter, freezing cold temperatures, was climbing the telephone pole across the street to test our connections. I have never felt so selfish as I did tonight as I sat comfortably in my warm house for the evening, catching up on the newspaper. Yeah, yeah... it is his job, but, I couldn't help to feel so demanding as if we "needed" the luxuries of our phone and internet at 10:30 at night, forcing him out into the dark cold of the night.

In the end, he determined that it was a problem with the cables outside and requested a crew to be dispatched tomorrow.

Thank you Cable Man for restoring my faith in customer service (especially in the cable company) and working so diligently for our own superficial, selfish desires.

The Joy of Cooking, Toddler Style

I'm happy to report that Elaina has recently expressed an interest in cooking. She's still not particularly fond of eating so much, but her palate has welcomed the addition of pears and string cheese as of late. Me, on the other hand, I love to cook and try new recipes and most of all, I love to eat! I've still got my fingers crossed that Elaina will someday enjoy a wide range of foods and not be so picky. She's still got plenty of time and we still keep trying.

I had come across a great new recipe that I was looking forward to making and since it was going to take me some time to prepare it, I decided to include Elaina in the process. Surprisingly, she is a very patient, interested little helper. She says "cook" and will hold her hand at a distance from the skillet and say "hot" and touch cold ingredients and say "cold." Tonight, I taught her to say salt and pepper and she is always quick to point out "eggies" which she continues to enjoy. Pictured above, we were in the process of making corn casserole as a side dish and when I stepped aside for only a minute, Elaina had dunked my Tupperware can opener into the batter, thinking it would be better to stir with. I put all of my neurotic germ-a-phobe worries aside and calmly lifted the can opener from the batter, abiding by the 5 second rule of contamination. (It works for some people.)

Since our dinner feast was going to take a little longer than I had anticipated, (due to my little helper) I decided to go ahead and feed Elaina something else for dinner. She sat in her highchair with her favorite all beef bologna in front of her and began making her tired-motor-purring sounds. She was about to fall asleep! I offered her several other dinner options and concluded by asking her if she wanted to go to bed. I finally got an agreeable nod of her head. I had no choice but to abide by her request and took her off to bed, without any dinner. At 6:45. As I was changing her into her pajamas, she shivered saying, "burr, cold!" Obvious goosebumps covered her little body until I was able to get her jammied up and snuggled into a warm blanket in bed. Hmm.... no appetite, overly tired and cold? Fear strikes the mommy and daddy of the house. It sounds like Elaina has the makings of a cold or the unspeakable- the flu. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Art Class

Another day at home!!

Today, I introduced Elaina to "sculpting." She's already a pro.


Thank you Aunt Kate for the Play-doh!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tucked Inside

For the past 2 weeks (and counting) we've really had a heavy dose of winter weather. And I'm saying that like we shouldn't ? Okay- I know, I know- it is January afterall and we're still living in Ohio. I should just count us fortunate that the past few months have been especially mild and now is the time we're going to be paying for it.

Today, Eric spent 12 hours in a CCW training class. (That's "carry concealed weapon" by the way.) He had organized a group of 17 people who wanted to apply for their certification, he found an instructor and they got their training completed all in one day. Since I don't happen to have a particular interest in ever carrying a concealed weapon, I spent my 12 hours playing with my best girlfriend, Elaina.
The interesting part about today is that it was just one of those rare peaceful days that don't seem to happen our way all too frequently. It seems as though there has been a problem in our cable lines which has affected our phone lines and internet access. Our internet has been down and only working sporadically and our phone hasn't worked at all today. God bless a peacefully quiet house! It was actually a luxury that the phone never rang, meaning no telemarketers to avoid and I couldn' feel obligated to blog since I couldn't. (I just busted myself since I'm writing this Tuesday, as if it were still only Saturday - I just have a good memory.) The ironic part of this whole cable-service fiasco is that it hasn't affected our cable on the TV at all. Thank goodness since I (admittedly) rely on a few episodes of Noggin to get some housework done every now and then.
The bulk of our day, Elaina and I played, I was able to get some chores done and we even snuggled down for a long nap together. Unlike every other mom who has taken their child outside to play, Elaina's mommy isn't particularly fond of windy 20 degree days such as this, and I kept the both of us locked inside all weekend. In fact, this is the second weekend in a row that I haven't attempted to even leave the house to go shopping! Trust me, that is no small feat for a shopper like myself and Eric is really beginning to suspect that there is really something more wrong with me! I've managed to run a few errands here and there on my way home from work a few times (mostly to stock up on cold meds and tissues) and don't have an urgent need for anything at this time. I just can't bring myself to want to go out in this freezing cold weather with Elaina when we could be so much happier in our cozy, warm house enjoying girl-time.
Here are just a few of Elaina's favorite puzzles that she has mastered.

We'll be hitting th stores again soon enough, but until then, home is where I want to be.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Our Angel Ava

Every year, the month of January, will always be bittersweet. With Ella's birthday followed by the anniversary of our finalization hearing and concluding with Ava's birthday. An emotional roller coaster to say the least. Amazingly enough, I whole-heartedly believe that this was a part of God's plan. Celebrating Elaina's finalization hearing as a family brings tears of joy into an otherwise painful month. It's not an accident that "Got Me Day" falls exactly in the middle of each of our girls' birthdays. God is good.

Two years ago today, our dear, sweet Ava was born. Our beautiful Ava Rose. This is Ava's story:

When I became pregnant with our second child, Eric and I wanted so much to be happy, but too much reality forced us to remain cautiously reserved. Since Ella's birth, many tests and many doctor's later, it was discovered that I have a blood disorder known as Anti-phospholipid syndrome. Notice that I didn't say that it is a "rare" blood disorder, because it's not. Many women actually possess this blood clotting disorder, yet, it is hardly tested for in pregnant women. Unfortunately, the result to the fetus, if gone undiagnosed, can often be fatal. Make no mistake, the only time that this will likely cause a problem is during pregnancy. Probably a good thing to know, don't you think?

From the very beginning of my pregnancy, I was immediately classified as high risk. In my 6th week, I began giving myself twice-daily injections into my stomach to thin my blood in hopes of staying pregnant. In the following months, Eric and I still tried to refrain from getting excited (which having a baby meant the world to us), I saw the doctor more than I saw my own house, and with my small belly, we hardly shared the news to even our close friends or people we worked with.

Only a few months into my pregnancy, I began going in for weekly ultrasounds. I'll never forget the day that we learned that we were having a girl. A GIRL!!! Everything I had always wanted- I was slipping and allowing myself to fall in love with everything pink and finding myself dreaming about the joys of finally having a daughter. We were so in love. Very soon after, one weekly ultrasound the doctor presented us with some alarming news. It seemed as though our baby's head measurements were growing much faster than that of the rest of her body. An amnio-centisis was done and the diagnosis of Dandy Walker Syndrome was confirmed. (From now on, that will just be DWS - I never, ever want to say or hear that term used ever again.) A basic explanation for DWS is that a valve in the back of our baby's head had been closed, not allowing the exchange of fluid to pass through her little body and collect in her brain. We didn't want to believe that what the doctor was telling us was reality. From that point on, we reluctantly did research to learn that there were different degrees of DWS and hoped and prayed that our baby would end up on the slight end of the spectrum. Only the doctors' predictions were saying otherwise. A condition that presents in only one out of 30,000 births and our baby was the one. We were more than heartbroken and full of despair.

We suffered and pretended our way through Christmas and faked happiness to everyone around us until the day that we had to tell each set of our parents. We waited until after the holidays to tell them as to not ruin their joy of this much anticipated grandchild. These were the days I never want to relive. So many times, I found myself just laying around, crying in desperation and felt that all my dreams of having a little girl would never come true. I often asked, how in the world could our baby have this? Why is this happening to us- to our baby? What if I can't love her like I want to? Eric held me and cried with me and told me that even if things didn't turn out like we wanted, the day would come and I would ask myself how I ever lived without her.

On January 26, 2005, the devil known as pre-eclampsia struck again and an emergency c-section brought Ava Rose into the world at only 33 weeks. My pregnancy had the makings of a double-edged sword. Remaining pregnant with Ava was allowing more fluid to accumulate and compress her brain and delivery too soon would only compromise her already fragile health with severe risks of prematurity. Ava was sent immediately to the NICU where a very specialized team of doctors awaited.

Again, the grandparents had rushed into town to be with the 3 of us and split their time with Ava in the NICU and myself. The day following her birth, Ava was transported to Akron Children's Hospital which offered much more specialized care, particularly neurological. It was a few days before I was released and Eric and I began our new lives with our critical baby girl and what came to be, a whole new family of doctors and nurses. From the beginning, Ava's condition was of grave concern. The doctor's didn't hesitate to make clear to us the harsh reality of their expectations. Eric and I stood firm that Ava was the child that God created for us and it wasn't up to us to decide whether she lived or not. We wouldn't be done fighting for her life until God said it was time.

I won't begin to try and recount the number of procedures and surgeries and tests and treatments that Ava endured in the months that followed. There were so many times that I battled a few headstrong doctors and nurses, reminding them that this wasn't the DWS baby- this was our baby and she was our world. We hardly had good news any day of the week. The good was only good in comparison. Several nurses took a special interest in caring for Ava and requested to be her primary care nurses. Since that time, we developed a very special relationship with Becky, Mariann and Lisa whom we will never forget. They loved Ava and made it clearly known that they were on our side. These are the women who made our days in the NICU bearable. They lightened our load and were always willing to weigh in and help to interpret Ava's day to day condition. For this, each of them will always hold a very special place in our hearts.

For 3 1/2 months, Eric and I (along with several visits from the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins) spent our days holding our precious baby girl. Ava loved to be held, chest-to-chest and rocked. She loved hearing girl-talk and her lullaby CD's and was so incredibly sweet. It might be hard to believe, but for a critical, premature infant- Ava proved to have a lot of personality. In such a short time, she knew her mommy and daddy and responded to our tender care. She was, in fact, amazing.

Well into her third month at the hospital, it was established that her stay there was no longer medically necessary. We were saturated with information on her special care, special needs, special equipment, and emergency protocol in a very short period of time. Ava was able to come home. I can't say that this was the most exciting point for us, although it sounds like it should have been. The best part of having Ava home was that I was finally able to hold her, laying in bed, with my arms wrapped around her, peacefully. There were no interruptions from doctors, nurses, other families parading through, no monitors going off and no ringing phones. Just peace and my sweet daughter, side by side. That will always be my most precious memory of Ava being home. The next day, a visiting nurse came to our home to get to know Ava. We expressed some of our concerns and she told us she would return the following day. With her next visit, Ava's condition was of great concern. A long story short, she was transported back into the NICU at Children's Hospital. It seems as though her left lung had collapsed and her oxygen requirement was soaring by the hour. Again, she was barely stable and we felt the inevitable drawing near.

On a Saturday afternoon, the day before mother's day, my parents had come to be at our side. The doctors made it clear that once her oxygen requirement maxed out, we were out of alternatives. In a flood of tears and broken hearts, we turned off the monitors and held our precious angel and gave her all of the love we had left in our hearts. God had said it was time. Her oxygen requirement had maxed out and we held her for the first time, without any machinery. No tubes, no cords, just our Ava. Our dear, sweet Ava became an angel. Ava, whom we will forever love. And she has always known it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Patience with the patient...

So I'm writing this blog entry as if time has stood still and like it's really only Thursday. Just think, 2 month from now, no one would even suspect that it's really Sunday night and I have 4 days of blogging to catch up on. Just play along, would 'ya ?

The reason that I have been lagging behind is that I have been plagued, once again, with the CRUD. The crud is an awful sinus infection that I seem to be getting about 2 times a month. My doctor suspects that I get such frequent infections due to my allergies and one thing leads to another and an infection begins brewing. Gross. Oh yeah, I take 2 kinds of allergy meds with no relief. Just insane dry mouth and I never feel hydrated. And let me not fail to mention that I never, ever had allergies until I moved to Eastern Ohio and hit the ripe old age of 24. At this point, I'm not even sure what I am allergic to anymore, but I know this round of illness has been one of the worst ever. The only redeeming factor is that sinus infections aren't contagious. A blessing in disguise?

Today, I had reached my limit. My teeth and gums ache like never before, my ears drums feel like they are going to burst, my nose has been running like a faucet and when I cough, I'm sure to cover my mouth- just so I'm ready to catch my left lung that I seemed to have loosened. Did I mention that I hate being sick? By the time I saw my doctor, we both agreed that I was in need of a full allergy work-up and a visit to an ENT. She prescribed a super-strength 10-day antibiotic and sent me home to rest. Eric was a saint and picked up Elaina (as usual), took her to the library and picked up my prescription before returning home.

Very soon I hope to be feeling better and finally put an end to my recurring battle with the crud.

****We will now return to our regularly scheduled worthwhile blog stories. Thank you for your patience.****

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Overboard...

Does anyone remember the bright yellow, suction-cup signs that read, "Baby on Board" which every parent in the late 80's had tagged onto the windows of their minivans and station wagons? Oh, yeah. THOSE!

Still laughing? I saw one displayed in the back window of a car on my way home from work today. Whoa... where does one begin to shop for one of those nowadays?
***************************************************************

Tonight, back at the homestead, I saw just cause for us to have rights to the "Baby Overboard" sign. That's right, it happened. Elaina fell out of her crib.

Umm.... maybe I shouldn't be so misleading to say that she "fell." That would imply somehow that maybe our crib wasn't safety approved, or by some strange chain of events, she happened to roll up and over the crib railing. Nope. Not the case. Elaina was unhappy about being put in her bed after our usual bedtime routine had run it's course and this mommy of hers attempted to lay her down for the night. She hiked her leg onto the rail and lunged herself forward and what do you get? A little girl on the ground and a mommy about to have a heart attack.

Unfortunately, I can't say that this is the very first time she has ever done this. When we were at my parents house a few weeks ago, I shared my room with Elaina and awoke just in time to see her trying to climb out of her pack-n-play. Last night, she was overly tired from our busy day and woke up as Eric and I were trying to get to bed. Eric put her and her tears into her crib and left the room. From our bedroom, we watched patiently to see how (and when) she would begin to soothe and console herself and fall asleep. Within the 15 minutes that it took her to settle down, she had lifted her leg to the top of the crib rail approximately 7 times. Each time that she didn't fall, I was able to breathe again and crossed my fingers that it would be the last time she did it.

So back to tonight, I laid a half asleep Elaina softly into her bed and just as fast as I did, she grabbed her blanket and stood up with outstretched arms, begging me to come back for her. I kissed her and proceeded out of the room to the second step down on the staircase, just around the corner from her room. Before I could even sit down and begin to peek in (like I usually do) I heard a thud and a hurt cry that overshadowed the "I-want-you-back-come-get-me- cry." I raced back up all of 2 steps and there she lay on her floor, head to the dust ruffle, feet to the door. I scooped her up, checked her over and held her tight until both of our hearts regained a natural rhythm. Surprisingly, she only cried for about 3 minutes until she was able to calm herself. I knew I couldn't rock her forever and wanted to be consistent. I kissed her and placed her back into bed and this time, sat on the floor, next to her crib. Of course, she stood back up with her outstretched arms and cried. I remained seated, 2 feet from her bedside, looking straight ahead. (a trick I learned on Nanny 911 or Dr. Phil - shows I haven't watched in at least a year) The only attention I paid her was when she tried to lift her leg to the rail again! I couldn't believe it! (For that, I did scold her.) From my peripheral vision, I saw her lay herself down and cry into her teddy bear. Nearly a dozen times, I caught her as she popped her head up, checking to see if I was still there and then I would only see one eye peeking up from time to time until, finally, the sweet deep- breathing sounds of a baby at rest. Hmmm... the trick worked! It looks as though we may have a new standard for bedtime fits.

Unbelievable Ommission

I really can't believe that I forgot to include this little snippet from our morning... maybe it's because yesterday was a long, busy day and it was past midnight when I finished my previous post. Oh yeah, that's why. But this is noteworthy nonetheless.

Elaina said, "I love you!" Well, she really kinda said, "I lovyu." (something to that effect- but you get the picture)

For some reason, she will repeat words more readily for Eric than for myself. She does her share for me, but she goes overboard for her Dadda. While getting her ready this morning, Eric told Elaina that he loved her and asked if she could say "I love you." And she did it! I asked the same of her and she smiled sweetly and gave me an, "I lovyu" too. We've spent months now, working on this word group and she finally gave it up today!

What a great way to start our mushy, gushy, Got-Me-Day!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

GOT ME DAY!

One year ago, today, both sets of grandparents and some close friends walked into a courtroom together to witness history being made. Eric and I were recognized by the state of Ohio as Elaina's legal parents. Forever and ever. Happily ever after.

It's just amazing - one year ago today, we finalized Elaina's adoption in an official court hearing. It's funny how I remember thinking that it really wasn't a big deal, just the last part of red tape we had to wrap up, but by the time our hearing was over, I felt a significant difference. Surprisingly, I felt even closer to our precious little girl whom we'd already given our hearts to. It was an incredible day for all of us!

So, if you've ever read a single other entry on this little 'ol blog of mine, you can probably pick up the fact that we are head over heels, crazy, in love with our girl. I want Elaina to always know how important this day is to us. Certainly not more important than her birthday of course, but almost as meaningful. This is the day that we plan to celebrate every year as "Got Me Day" to commemorate and celebrate our family becoming one. Elaina got us and we got her. Each year, we plan to do a family activity together, centered around Elaina.

You may ask, "what activity can a family enjoy with an 18 month old in the winter?" (Yeah, I asked the same thing.) First, I left work 2 hours early to pick up Elaina and take her to work to show off to so many of her admirers. Eric finished out his day about the same time and met us at my office. From there, we went to Babies R' Us in search of an umbrella stroller for vacation and picked up an Elmo DVD for his newest fan. While we were there (forever) they were offering a free 8x10 photo to new customers. Since this was such a special day, we plopped
Elaina on the photo table and rolled the dice. The photos were just okay. Perfect for "free." Had I been shelling out some money for these, I would have been greatly diappointed. The photographer was pretty good - Elaina, on the other hand, was pretty clingy. (I'll post the proofs as soon as I figure out how.)

Following this expedition, we headed to the magical fun house with the giant mouse, who goes by the name of "Chuck." Oh yeah, you know the one... the glitzy, gaming, cess pool of all things noisy, that happens to serve pizza. Elaina played a few games of skee ball with her dad, had her picture taken with Chuck E. in the moving car and made her way about freely amongst the riff and the raff of about 70 other kids. No surprise, she always ended her roundabout tour of the facilty on the funhouse slide. There were 4 giant steps for her to climb to a domed platform with a plexiglass panel for us to make faces, knock and wave at each other before she slid down a winding green slide. Wheeee ! She had a blast !

After a slight difference in opinion of when we had to leave, she was about 30 minutes away from her usual bedtime and we still hadn't gotten to go out for dinner as planned. Eric and I went back and forth, debating how she would hold up and took a chance on going to a buffet. Since Elaina (a.k.a. Picky Pickerson), continues to be so unpredictable in what she eats, we have become big fans of the buffet restaurants. There is never a wait and there's tons of variety ready to present to our little critic. Elaina blew us away - she ate so well and even tried some new things. (let's not carried away here, when I say "some" I mean she put "some" food in her mouth by herself and spit it back out herself.) The impressive part is that she actually "tried" it. "Some" of it. In all seriousness, she ate really well, was incredibly pleasant and didn't fuss at all despite being so tired. At the end of the meal, I rewarded her with her very own bowl of ice cream which she quickly scooped into her wide open mouth very happily!

As we were driving home, Eric celebrated his overeating with a lovely burp, to which Elaina quckly said, "Scuse you." Oh, this little girl and her words lately! We both cracked up!

This was an incredible day to celebrate with Elaina and I can hardly wait until next year. I'll still be beaming with the same pride and privilege that comes with being Elaina's mom. Forever and ever. Happily ever after.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shakin' out my head ...

Laura's Top Ten List of Indulgent, Superficial Loves:
1. Cappuccino
2. Oil of Olay body wash (if you don't use this, see #3)
3. Bath & Body Works In Shower Lotion: Breathe, Amber Myrr
4. Being pampered; pedicures, massages - true love!

5. Blue Bunny chocolate brownie ice cream ! Trust me folks - it’s the bomb !
6. Fruit 2-o
7. American Idol auditions !!
8. Lower gas prices! Hip, hip, hooray!
9. my 2 pair of "GBP's" (good-butt-pants; necessary for every woman to insure a good day)
10. my new black messenger bag; doubling as a purse/ diaper bag

Elaina's Top Ten List of Indulgent, Superficial Loves:

1. Binky!
2. Elmo
3. Trix cereal
4. Milk
5. her pink, suede boots
6. her slide
7. frog flashlight in a dark car
8. bubble baths
9. shapes and colors flashcards
10. Noggin on the TV and computer

Friday, January 19, 2007

Party Faux Pas

This evening, I was invited to a stamping party, hosted by a good friend of mine. I haven't been into stamping since before Elaina was born and I wasn't particularly psyched to go. Since Eric left home this morning for a gun show, I explained to my friend that if I came, I would have to bring Elaina with me. She told me that her husband was going to watch her kids downstairs in the basement and that he didn't mind watching Elaina too. So, I caved. No more excuses. I went.

I arrived a little bit before the party so that Elaina could get re-aquainted and settled in with the dad and his kids. In the meantime, another dad and his two kids had joined the "daddy day care party." Thinking everything was going smoothly, I quietly tried to slip away to join in the fun which is stamping. All was well for approximately 3 minutes until everyone in the room was silenced by a screaming, bellowing cry from beneath the floor boards. Hmmm... it seems as though I have developed the "mother's ear" for recognizing the cry of my own child. I kindly excused myself from the table of strangers whom I barely got a glimpse of and ran back downstairs. My friend's husband is attempting to hold and comfort the now thrashing Elaina as tears poured down her cheeks. She nearly jumped from his arms and clung to me like bark on a tree.

And so, we begin again. The longer I hung out downstairs, it became more clear to me that I wasn't going to be partaking in stamping anything this evening. Here is the list of reasons why: 1) Their basement is not a so-called "finished" basement. The concrete floor is cold and hard and the bazillion toys covering the remainder is more of a safety hazard than anything.
2.) The dads were good friends and seemed to get a little pre-occupied with baseball/ bowling/ football talk a little more than watching the kids as they were tearing into an enormous bag of leftover Halloween/ Christmas candy. Hello - hazard #2 - CHOKING.
3.) They were kind enough to put their guy-talk aside to include me, and in the midst of several conversations, I spotted Elaina attempting to put a plastic bead in her mouth (off the concrete floor) as she thought it might be candy, I grabbed one kid by the arm just before he toppled off a wooden toy onto the concrete floor, I established that one child was in need of a fresh diaper (not mine) and I removed 2 children from a piece of excercise equipment (that resembled a torture device) before they went splat onto the concrete floor. The guys, on the other hand, continued to talk about baseball/bowling/football.
4.) Every time Elaina would pass by me as I sat in my chair, she hugged my knees - happy that I hadn't left her.

At one point, I tried to rejoin the group with Elaina on my lap and her promise to be good, but if you have ever stamped (or tried to do anything one handed) my effort was fruitless (and stampless). After nearly 2 hours of this "party" Elaina had lost her binky downstairs and began to cry. The dads and myself launched a search team looking for her missing binky and when I did end up finding it, it was covered in cat hair and dirt. Like any good mom, I called off the search, hid it in my pocket, bribed my kid with a lollipop and raced out of the house.

Do we know how to party or what?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Everlasting Ella

Today, our sweet angel, Ella, would have turned 4 years old.

In previous posts, I have mentioned our sweet angels, Ella and Ava, and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you Ella’s story.

( Okay ... here come the tears already. I thought I would get further than this - but no. )
Eric and I aren’t terribly successful when it comes to conceiving. When we found out that we were pregnant, it took me 4 pregnancy tests and a trip to the doctor to believe our good fortune. After 5 positive confirmations, I let myself fall in love. It was easy, we were having a baby !
When I found out that we were expecting a girl, I was even more in love. I fell even a little deeper with the very first kick. We were so excited and so ready to hold our sweet girl in our arms forever.

When I reached my halfway mark into my pregnancy, at 20 weeks, I breathed yet another sigh of relief knowing that I was well on my way to having the child I have always dreamed of. At the beginning of my 26th week, I began developing some unusual symptoms. The first day, my back and neck were painfully tight and sore. Soon after, I developed a headache like no other and my vision began to blur like I was actually losing my sight. After a visit to a chiropractor, I called my ob-gyn. After relaying my symptoms to the nurse over the phone, she suggested that I come in that afternoon. Once I was there, the nurse checked my blood pressure and then again and then asked the doctor to come out and check my blood pressure. Without too much conversation, the doctor very calmly told me that he wanted me to go to the labor and delivery part of the hospital for some more testing. After some more questioning on my part, he told me that he had some concern that my blood pressure was "pretty high." I do respect the fact that he didn’t want to freak me out, but my blood pressure was something like 200/ 120. "Pretty high."

When I checked myself into the L/B unit, the nurse told me that she wouldn’t have guessed that I was the one who was presenting with pre-eclampsia due to the fact that I wasn’t swollen and didn’t appear very obviously pregnant. Eric met me at the hospital shortly after my admittance and we waited patiently to see what was going on. Very soon, I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia. Okay, I was pretty oblivious to what this entailed due to the fact that I had opted to skip those chapters in the pregnancy books because that kind of "stuff" only happens to unhealthy people who don’t take care of themselves. Me, on the other hand, am a different story. I ate healthy, I got plenty of sleep, I didn’t smoke and I didn’t cause myself undue stress - I WAS the healthy one...

I’ll spare you the whirlwind of what was my next 2 days, laying on my left side and hooked to 78 tubes, plugs and wires while being pumped full of brain melting, nauseating drugs. We learned that we were out of time and staying pregnant for any longer wasn’t an option. I would not only be risking my life but the precious life of our baby girl. Our families were with us as they had rushed into town the day after I was admitted, and we all hoped and prayed for the best outcome possible for all of us.

At 26 weeks, an emergency c-section was scheduled and we welcomed Ella Rose into the world with raw emotion and intense concern. My brain was still hot and shaking full of magnesium sulfate and I just remember feeling scared to death of letting myself fall in love with her too much. Ella was immediately taken to the NICU where Eric and our family stayed at her side, tearfully learning about her condition and praying for a miracle. Hours later, he joined me at my bedside with 2 polaroids of our tiny girl. He and the nurses described what she looked like, what she was hooked up to and the critical concern of her severe prematurity. It was 2 days later that I was able to sit upright and my blood pressure was maintained at a new high, which the nurses finally stopped panicking over - it just stayed high. This was my golden ticket into getting to see my beautiful baby girl in the NICU.

I remained in the hospital for 4 more days until I was released on tons of new meds and persistent blurred vision. In fact, my eyesight was so poor that I was convinced that I was going blind, never to see clearly again. (This lasted nearly 4 weeks for someone who previously had 20/20 vision !) Eric and I went to the NICU everyday to see our sweet girl and consult with an array of medical professionals. Ella, our 1.11 ounce beauty with a teensy pink bow in her hair everyday. We were only able to touch her with gloved hands through the porthole window of her isolette. We were instructed that it was best only to touch her, not to stroke or try to stimulate her since her nervous system was so fragile. She was hooked to an oscillator ( more intense than a ventilator ) and a multitude of high tech machinery. While in the NICU, she endured many surgeries and procedures. Every last one of them, more complicated than the first.

We (Ella and our entire family) rode a heartbreaking roller coaster of tearful emotions. She had more than her share of bad days and her good days were only "good" by comparison. Ella lived 3 weeks in her isolette in the NICU surrounded by her family who fell in love with her, despite the impending heartache, and devoted nurses who cared for her. We were finally able to hold our precious angel in our arms and whisper our prayers of love and devotion into her tiny ears. I know for a fact, that she heard every word.

It’s not worth my while sharing how any one of us felt after losing Ella. It’s just not possible to
put into words.

So, this is the day, 4 years ago, that we welcomed our sweet baby into our hearts where she will remain forever.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Where did you learn that?

Elaina was tiptoeing tonight ! Tiptoeing ! Do 18 month old usually do that this early?

She was playing near her toybox and when I glanced over, watching her move, she was on her tiptoes. Throughout the rest of the evening, I tried to encourage her to show off her skills more so that I'd be able to catch a quick picture. No such luck. She did tiptoe more, but not when I was camera-ready. I decided to let her off the hook for the night and took her upstairs for her bath. Wouldn't you know it, the little stinker tiptoed the whole way into the bathroom! So cute!

I'm guessing that she picked that up from one of the other little girls at the babysitter's house. When I dropped her off this morning, Christine and Madison (4 yr.olds) were eager to give Elaina a big hug since they hadn't seen her since last week. So sweetly, Elaina wrapped her arms around them as well. Then the little boys (2&3 yrs. old) got in on the hug-fest. Needless to say, I was late for work this morning since I couldn't pull myself away from this severe cuteness. I may possibly have a cavity by now from all of the sweetness filling the room this morning.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Back at the Homestead ...

How I love my parents !! Before I went to bed last night, my mom told me that when Elaina woke in the morning, to bring her out for them to watch while I slept in. Oh heaven... extra sleep ! With the exception of a dirty diaper interuption, I melted away into a sleepy dreamland well into the morning. Sheer bliss! This is the way a day off from work should be celebrated!

Elaina and I got back on the road, heading for home, a little later than I had intended but made excellent time. We walked in the door to find that my wonderful, hard-working, fabulous husband had vacuumed downstairs, made the bed and had laundry already started. He had even lit some candles for a little extra relaxation and fragrance, just like I do! Isn't he good !??

The only thing better than that was the look on Eric and Elaina's faces as they hugged after being away from each other for 3 days - sheer love and joy. Just beautiful.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Day of Play !

Day 2 at Maw-ma and Pop-pop’s House + special visit from cousin Colin = 6 exhausted adults x 2 lively toddlers = recipe for fun !

That’s right, Elaina’s cousin Colin came over to play today. It’s funny that when I put it like that, it sounds as if he walked across the street for a quick visit. Not the case. Greg, Kate and Colin made the 2 hour trek from Columbus to our parents’ house to spend the day visiting and kid-chasing.

Because Elaina and Colin are only 6 months apart, they are so much fun to watch as they interact and learn each other’s behavior. Colin happily welcomed Elaina with a hug and sweet kiss on the cheek. Let’s hear it …. Awwwe. Yeah, it was adorable. Elaina returned the love when it was time to say goodbye. She cuddled up and kissed all of us as she waved her little floppy hand “bye-bye!”

We spent the day playing with books and toys and intermittent sit-downs to watch some favorite Noggin episodes. We formed a triangle on the floor and took turns rolling a ball back and forth, learning how to take turns. Aunt Laura (that’s me) brought Pop- Rocks for the wee ones to enjoy! In case you’re not familiar with Pop-Rocks, they are the little, crushed, sugar candy that pops, fizzles and explodes in your mouth. The perfect treat for such novice mouths. Elaina has had them before with her dad, and wasn’t entirely loving them today. Colin, however, ate a whole bowl full and helped to finish off Elaina’s while he was at it. Talk about bold! Not only do I love watching the kids play together, but I love to watch Colin and see what a 2 year old is all about. Admittedly, he is a typical “2”- challenging his boundaries, but he is incredibly sweet and smart and squeezable and lovable. It’s so interesting for me to see the differences in boy and girl behavior and what I can expect in the upcoming months when Elaina hits the 2 year mark.
All in all, we enjoyed a great day together, overeating and visiting. That’s what we’re all about! Thanks to Greg and Kate for coming to spend your day off with us and giving me a taste of “2 !”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

3 Day Weekend !

Yesterday, Eric had left home to work a gun show in Maryland and since we're off on Monday (happy MLK day!) Elaina and I are spending the weekend at my parents' house. After she went to bed last night, I started packing the truck in an effort to save time this morning. I hooked up the DVD player, packed all of our clothes, toys and books and had all of her snacks and sippy's ready to go. How's that for efficiency ? Oh, except that I was up until 1:00 trying to finish the last bit of laundry, and put things in order around the house. (Courtesy of my severe Type A behavior.)

This morning, the love of my life wakes up at 5:30. Ohhhh, that's way too early! Elaina is a snuffly, snotty mess with her eyes goopy and matted shut. As any good, half-awake mother would do for their love, I went downstairs and gave her some medicine, washed and uncaked her face goo, gave her sippy of juice and even let Keegan out. Thinking I would be able to climb back into my warm bed with Elaina at my side, quietly watching Noggin (which came on at 6 )- I was sadly mistaken. Elaina was so miserable that she had to make it known- for the next 2 hours! She finally relented and calmed herself for a 45 minute long nap. This is the way I would start my day. Oh good.

Fast forward; she watched videos and slept most of the way to my parents house and was an absolute pleasure to be around. Shortly after our arrival, we cleaned up and headed out to dinner. Elaina was plenty entertaining at the dinner table as she picked and poked at all of her food, only half attempting a bite if it resembled dessert. From there, we went to only one store and then to her other grandparents' house. By this time, it was quickly creeping past her bedtime, Elaina's eye goo was back with a vengeance and she was still surprisingly pleasant. Both sets of Elaina's grandparents enjoyed playing tricks on her as the grandma's would tell Elaina to go get "Pop-pop" and let her try and guess which one she was supposed to go to. It really didn't matter which she chose because both were ready for her with big tickly hugs for their little girl. Seriously, how can it get any better than this for Elaina ? 5 out of 6 of her biggest fans, all in one room, showering her with attention and love. This was a much better ending to our long, long day!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Humor of 1.6 Years

Since nothing particularly earth-shattering happened today, (thank God) I just wanted to pass along some cute Elaina stories.

* Elaina loves the game of peek-a-boo. (What child doesn't ?) Her version, however, has taken a little twist. Elaina covers her eyes with both hands and says, "Bye-bye!" Apparently, she believes that she is invisible when she can no longer see us in front of her. Goofball.

* Yes, I want her binky obsession to become history, but until then, she needs more binkies. The reason for this contradiction is that I have recently learned that her green Soothie brand binkies are intended for babies under 3 months old. The way she is gnawing on them, she is splitting the nipple and I am scared to death that her binky would then become an instant choking hazard. Tonight as I picked her up from Nancy's, I handed her a new package of mature- baby-binkies with the cardboard backing slightly peeled off to let her fish out her prize. Once she got her hands on her new pink, binks, she happily proclaimed, "Happy Day!" (I guess she liked them)

* Recently, Elaina has been told repeatedly to "sit down." She and another little boy at Nancy's house like to climb on top of a see-saw type rocker when turned upside down. Therefore, she has gotten her share of being told to sit down. Tonight, Elaina climbs atop the ottoman with her popcorn popper push toy and yells, "Sit down, popcorn! Popcorn, Sit down!"

* Lately, when Elaina bumps into something, drops something or does something she's not supposed to do, she politely says, "Oops, so-wee." (sorry) After an apology like that, I couldn't dare to be mad at her for a second. Most times though, she says it over insignificant "accidents", such as bumping into Keegan or dropping a book, etc. Cute every last time!

* Stinkerbell is quite capable of saying "no" to anything she doesn't prefer. I make a point to ask her questions quite frequently to see what she is understanding and to improve our communication skills. She hardly ever says the word "yes," at all. If I ask her a question that I know should result in a "yes" answer, I only get a nod of her head.
Mommy : Elaina, do you want a binky ?
Elaina: nod (yes)
Mommy: Elaina, do you want to watch Noggin ?
Elaina: nod (yes)
Mommy : Elaina, do you know how to say "yes?"
Elaina : nod (yes)
Mommy : Elaina, do you want to eat ?
Elaina : "No."

And that's my girl !

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Much Better Day

We actually made it through an ungodly long and unbearable day yesterday and it seems as though we're both going to make it. Even better than that, Eric is back home from his trip out of town.


There is one thing that I failed to report previously, that is Elaina has been on an antibiotic for an ear infection and just finished up her very last dose today. Will someone please share with me how a child on an antibiotic used to treat an ear infection can actually do better and then get (what seems to be) another ear infection within the same period of time ? I don't know for sure that it's a full blown ear infection again, but she has her share of cold symptoms to deal with.
I just don't get it. Anyhow, she seems to be feeling somewhat better and she slept a full, entire, 10 hours last night. Whoo-Hoo !
Here are some pictures of my happy, feel-good, girl !

This was not taught to her by the bad mother, it was her bad father who showed Elaina this trick!

"Cook?" But it's not even close to 2 a.m. !
I love you, Elaina !

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fraud

Beware : This sweet face may look innocent enough, but she hides an awful truth !


I'm hoping everyone enjoyed reading my previous post of how my precious baby girl asked to go night-night last night. I can assure you that every written word of that was true.

Now, for the rest of the story :

At approximately 11:30, I was finally making my way to bed before I heard Elaina crying from her bedroom. It was the pathetic whimpery type cry that caused me concern. As I scurried into her room to check on her, she blasted out a full sneeze (by "full" I'm guessing you know what I mean) and real tears were running down her cheeks. I wiped her face as we cuddled and rocked in the chair before trying once again to put her back in bed. I think that we repeated this cycle about 3 times before I conceeded and popped her in bed with me. Eric has been out of town since Monday night and I was solo for getting the babe to sleep. I'll spare you the details, except that Elaina spent the next 3 hours flopping around in my bed restless and irritated. At 2:00, she sat up and said, "cook ?" Cook ? Oh my Precious Love, cook for you at 2 a.m.? Agghhh. I tenderly asked my innocent child, "Eat?" Then and there, she got her second wind. Note : SHE got her second wind, NOT mommy. Remember, she was the one who had a 3.5 power nap while I was still vaccuuming and cleaning up downstairs. So, we go downstairs for a snack. I grabbed a handful of vanilla cookies for her snacktrap and filled her most reputable leak-proof sippy half full with milk and we go back to bed. At this point, I was content to break every rule of parenting with allowing her to have a middle of the night picnic in her crib if she wanted. As I placed her in her crib, I told her that Mommy would be right back; I was going to get her medicine. When I rounded the corner into her room, Elaina was holding onto her crib railing, beaming smile, bouncing and shouting her cheer, "Mecine ! Mecine ! Mecine !" Could I possibly be a worse mother ? Seriously, my child loves medicine, I was about to let her choke down cookies in her crib at 2 in the morning and rot her teeth out by sucking down milk all night long. Or worse yet, I could suffocate her with my covers as she lay in bed with me. (This was a genuine haunting fear of mine throughout much of her first year although we never allowed her to sleep in bed with us unless she was very sick. It still scares me.)

Moving on, she didn't want cookies afterall (good thing I didn't actually "cook") and a few sips of milk were sufficient. I gave her some Tylenol to help take the edge off and help relieve any type of discomfort she may have been suffering. Again, she wasn't content in her own bed, so back into my bed she came. She finally lay restful and the last time I looked at the clock it was only 2:48. Oh, yeah, and I had to be up extra early (6:30) to get myself and Elaina ready the next morning.

There you have it ... the rest of the story. My child is a nightime scammer. A bedtime fraud. And she does it with those beautiful, big, blue eyes and sweet innocent smile. How could you not fall for that ?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bath Buddies

Since Elaina has grown to love her bath so much lately, she has accumulated lots and lots of bath toys. As she was finishing her bath tonight, she was helping to put away her toys in her own special way.

Elaina : " Bye-bye Fishy. (kiss noise) By-bye Duckie. (kiss noise) Bye-bye bubbles. (squealy giggle) Bye-bye water. (kicking and splashing water) Bye-bye Mommy. (wet-faced smile - no kiss)

She was so tired tonight that we only got through one and a half books before she hopped off my lap and walked over to her crib. I asked her if she was ready to go night-night, to which she nodded an adamant "yes." I finally got my hug and kiss before she snuggled in her nest of a bed for the evening. 8:00 bedtime - on the dot. Night-night, Elaina !

Monday, January 08, 2007

Event Coordinator

When I arrived home from work this evening, Elaina anxiously greeted me in the kitchen with a happy smile and outstretched arms. (THAT IS THE BEST!) After a quick hug, she backed off and began to tug at my coat saying "Off." She has some issues with me wearing my coat inside and God forbid that I wear my hood or even a hat. For some mysterious reason, my child cries if I wear something over my head that she's unable to see my hair. Weirdo. Anyhow... I took my coat off to her liking and we headed into the living room to greet Eric as well. We played the tickle / hug game for a little while before I excused myself to go to the ladies room. Elaina quickly asked "Potty?" I politely told her "yes " and she ran ahead of me, leading the way to the bathroom, opened the door and pat her hand atop the closed toilet lid and said, " Mommy, pee-pee." Ahh ... she gets it !

Lately, there's been a lot of "potty" talk around our house. We've been talking to Elaina about going potty and asking her if she has to go potty, etc. We're not exactly ready to begin potty training at 18 months, but we're beginning to build our foundation. The fact that she's caught on this much in a short amount of time is impressive. She is frequently willing to sit on her potty in her bathroom, generally before her bath, but so far, the only water that has been running is in the bathtub. I'm hoping, however, that we're establishing a habit that she can adjust to. We only have one problem :
Can someone tell me why a child's training seat has to be so blasted cold ? Hello ... it's cold, hard, plastic that I'm expecting for my little girl to park her warm, soft tushie on to do some business. The fact is, the potty chair is so cold that when she sits down, she jumps back up and says, "Burrr !" Good thing we're aiming for summertime potty training !


SideNote : Marianne - I think we may be onto to something; a warm, soft potty chair that is easily disinfected ! Since we let the Boppy and shopping cart covers get away from us !!
- Laura :-)))

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bowl Me Over !

Eric and I went on a date tonight. A real date ! We just happened to be with about 15 other couples that we knew. But it was still a date !

We spent our evening at the local bowling alley in a social event that Eric had planned with the other members of the volunteer fire department. It was organized in an attempt to include spouses, have some fun and blow off some steam during the winter months. Since I'm friends with mostly every wife of the firefighters and know the majority of the guys too, Eric and I had a great time. In fact, just about everyone commented on how much fun they had and that we should plan these types of events more often. I'm impressed that some of my social planning skills have rubbed off on Eric ! It's only taken 10 years !

Eric and I mixed and matched bowling teams with 3 other couples that we're friends with. When they turned on the black light and the smoke machine, all of us instantly regressed into giddy teenagers as everyone began to glow. The biggest difference is that we were teenagers that were able to bring our own beverage of choice. You heard me - our bowling alley doesn't have a liquor license so it's BYOB. (Advantage of a small town. ) Snacks, refreshments, and glow-bowling ... how could you go wrong? Another great aspect about tonight was that we only had the bowling alley reserved until 11:00, so everyone did their part in cleaning up and we vacated by 11:30. Not one person left early and others weren't put out by doing all of the clean up efforts. We all made it safely to our homes at a decent hour. Truthfully, the volunteer firefighters in our town make a terrific team wherever they may be.

And about Miss Elaina ... we asked our neighbor, Katie, to babysit once again. She's always more than willing and it's been some time since she's been over. Elaina was happy to see her once again and welcomed her with a hug. I felt a little bit bad that Elaina's bedtime was right around the corner, so basically, we were asking Katie to come over, put our kid to bed and sit around to be bored. ( I guess that's what a teenage babysitter expects.) When we arrived home, Katie said that Elaina was good up until she had a stinky diaper. She refused to have her diaper changed and pitched a fit. Katie called her mom, (remember, they live in the house behind us) and asked for her to come down to help out with calming Elaina down and the whole diaper change. That made me laugh ! Talk about good neighbors and good friends... another advantage of small town living !

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mommy's Little Scholar

"I love my Sing and Doodle pad ! "

" One of my favorite picture books."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Jip !


" Hey, isn't this where the presents are supposed to be ?"
"Where are the presents? "





"Maybe a hug will help to butter her up a little bit !"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

18 Months Old !

18 Months Old ! This is an incredible age for my baby girl ! It's so interesting to me how a child goes from infant to toddler in such a short period of time. At work today, one of the magistrate's brought her 14 month old granddaughter in to show off. Her name is Helena and she is a doll ! It's just incredible that just 4 short months ago, Elaina was the same age; relatively new to walking, still discovering her range of movement, and barely talking. Compared to a 14 month old, Elaina acts like a mini adult. Seriously - only 4 months difference !
Our "mini adult" is just amazing ! Here is a short run down of some things that our 18 month old is doing :
* I can't even keep up with the number of words she says. Her vocabulary has exploded !
* She assists in getting herself dressed and undressed. Like me, she doesn't like for her sleeves to bunched up by her elbows. After her hands get washed, she pulls her sleeves back to her wrists where they belong.
* She has taken up mimicking me with her arms crossed. When she does it, it looks like she's pouting but she's not. When I do it, it's most generally because I am cold.
* Still a picky eater, although scrambled eggs have their way onto the menu as of late.
* Does the "ring around the rosey" twirl while singing "ashes, ashes" and twirls to the alphabet song. She also tries the motions from the "Itsy-Bitsy-Spider" song when we sing the ABC song.
* She can sing "ABC" in tune and then hoots the rest along with my words.
* Our bedtime routine has changed. I used to read her books downstairs until she fell asleep in my arms. Now, we'll read a a few stories in her bedroom and while she's awake, I'll lay her in her crib and she puts herself to sleep without a peep.
* Still loves her bath and assists me in putting away the bath toys when prompted so that she is allowed to (then) unplug the drain and say "bye-bye" to the water.
* Has begun to take Flintstones multi-vitamins regularly.
* She can make the sound or action of nearly a dozen animals.
* She is developing the best sense of humor. She can predict what will make mommy and daddy laugh and she loves to interact in our own games.
* She is able to put together puzzles and makes up "words" to her own stories and songs !
We are all having so much fun together - she is the best ! Although I'm watching my sweet baby slip into toddler-hood before my very eyes, seeing life and fun through her eyes has made the whole transition totally worthwhile !

Monday, January 01, 2007

Elaina Incognito

How do you like Elaina's new look ? She's been talking about growing a moustache for some time now, so we tried on a blue one to compliment her pajamas. What do you think ?

Room for Improvement

I'd like to know how the whole practice of making new year's resolutions swept our nation ? Do people around the world do this in a similar fashion ? Did our ancestors from 100 years ago buy into this "resolution" mindset ?

Just for the sake of making it known, I have actually made one resolution and followed through all of last year. Last year's resolution was to quit making impractical-waste-of-money purchases. I was tired of going through my house, sifting through junk, wondering how I let myself spend my money on dumb stuff. Before I doled out the cash, I got in the habit of asking myself if it was necessary and/ or worthwhile. When the answer turned out to be "no," I even embarassed myself by putting the item back before I had any regrets. This habit has since become a part of my lifestyle and I'm happy to have less junk and more money to show for it !

January 1, 2007 : Time to put some thought into a new new year's resolution. I credit myself with being a truly practical person and like to enjoy life. I'm a realist and a planner. I don't intend to set myself up for failure or desire the unattainable. Like any other working-class-kinda-gal, I know that I have ample room for improvement. This is why I've decided to start myself on a 12 step program. I resolve to set a goal for myself each and every month for self improvement. This plan is all inclusive : mind, body, soul, relationships and spirit. Umm ... just thinking about this, I could quite possibly set goals each month for the rest of the decade.

At the beginning of each month, I've vowing to set a standard for myself to build upon and improve upon. With each passing month, I'm hoping that I am able to embrace a new standard that becomes part of my lifestyle. By the end of 2007, I hope to possess 12 new qualities about myself that have helped to mold me into a better person.

It's possible that I may share my monthly goal with my readers, but if some months pass by without a report, it's quite possibly because it's rather personal - not that I simply forgot. This month's resolution is to become a better friend. I don't exactly have a whole master list to outline my method just yet. The main objectives are to take better advantage of opportunity and let my friends know that I appreciate them. I plan to be more diligent about keeping in touch and make at least one new friend this month.

I have 30 days to go ... wanna be my friend ?
I appreciate you.