Friday, March 27, 2009

Beach Fun!

Up until recently, this is what Christopher thought of the beach:

You can almost hear him asking, "You want me to play in THIS?!?" Notice his Italian blood coming out in the way he expresses it, too! ;)

Seriously, he has hated water & the beach since he was very little. I couldn't even begin to think about taking pictures of him playing in the water - because he would scream if you put him anywere NEAR the water! I had visions of all these Mommy & Me swimming lessons...but, after him screaming through all six weeks of the first one we signed up for, we didn't sign up for any more!

But, I'm very glad to say that has all changed! We saw a bit of a change last summer as he discovered it wasn't all that bad (since I blogged about that last summer, I won't bore you now...just go back and read it!). Then right after he turned five, he surprised David and me by announcing that he wanted to take swimming lessons, "RIGHT NOW!" This is in the works...but the next class doesn't start until April or May. But Friday, Chrisopher FULLY embrased his Florida Boy status! :)
My Beautiful Loser group met at the beach to workout last Friday & I arranged with Grandma Jansen (who watches Christopher on Fridays while I workout) to bring Christopher to the beach after our workout time ended. This was the first time I've attempted a beach trip with him in quite awhile...and I'm pleased to say, we'll be scheduling more as time goes on!
While I was walking along the beach earlier, we'd seen some sea animals...so I couldn't resist showing Christopher. I wish I could have gotten video of the view, but I think this is just as good:



He was really excited to see the dolphins...and they were fairly close to shore...which made for easy viewing! I'd also seen a manatee earlier that day, but there didn't seem to be any more around by the time Christopher arrived. That's ok...he was just excited to see the dolphin! And I just love his response when I asked him what the dolphin was doing...it was like, "Duh, Mom!" ;)

We also built (or tried to build) a sand castle. We'll have to bring more tools along with us when we come next time. All we had was a couple of scoops and a sifter. We never had much need for beach toys before - so these were some he played with in his tub. Guess some official beach toys are in order now! :)

Christopher also wrote his name in the sand and watched the water wash it away. He thought this was so much fun, he did it several times! One time, he wrote it too far away from the surf & was disappointed when the water didn't come quite that high right away. But, the most amazing part for me was how much he enjoyed the waves:


He fully embraced the water rushing over his feet...even calling to the waves to come get him! The longer we stayed, the more brave he got! Sitting down and letting the waves lap around him...

and leaning into the waves as they came up & getting fully soaked...
and even jumping in the waves...

I was so excited about his new-found love of the beach that I snapped over a hundred pictures! Christopher must have felt like the newest celebrity on the beach...he's certainly got his celebrity "no more pictures" pose down! :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blindsided

Today, I was blindsided by unexpected grief. There was no reason to have felt it at that time...I was just missing my Nana. I had picked Christopher up from school and we were heading home when all of a sudden, grief grabbed my heart like a vice grip and just would not let go. I was helpless to keep the tears from flowing down my cheeks. Thankfully, Christopher had fallen asleep, so he didn't have to witness his mommy falling apart. To make matters worse, Homesick by Mercy Me came on the radio. That's when the sobs began, because it expressed exactly what I was feeling at that moment.

Since she went Home to Heaven a couple months ago, I have wanted so many times to pick up the phone and call my grandmother...then realize there's no phone lines in Heaven. I guess they don't have much need for them on their end. Lately, the silliest of things have made me think of her...and thus, miss her. Yesterday, I was on my way to pick Christopher up from school when I noticed the spare wheel on the back of a car (told you it was silly!). The pattern of the spokes formed a flower pattern & it reminded me of the flowers Nana used to doodle. Tears formed in my eyes, but that time, I was able to fight them back.

Nana was more than my grandmother - she was my best friend! When I was a child, we played together. She encouraged my creativity. She fostered my love of reading. She made me feel nothing in the world was more important than to be with me at any given moment. The housework could wait. The TV programs could wait. Everything could wait. As I grew older, she was the person I could talk to about anything without any fear of rejection. If I had a problem or was uncertain about something, I could always ask Nana. If she didn't agree with my point of view, she would find a kind way to let me know and we could discuss it at length without any condemnation. Usually she was able to convince me, through her loving persuasion, to her way of thinking. And I am so thankful for her wisdom in guiding my thoughts. I am wiser today because of her.
Nana taught me to love church. She devoted her life to helping my grandfather in his role as pastor of Northside Baptist Church for 43 years. To this day, I remember how she would link her pinky finger over mine during the prayer. I didn't learn until her funeral that she had also done that with my aunt Carolyn and my cousin Katie, as well. It was something I once thought was something special just between my grandmother and me...but became even more special that day as I realized it was something I also shared with some other precious family members!

Nana loved the hymns...but she never sang in church. She didn't think her voice was good enough, even to sing in the congregation...but I loved the times I heard her sing at home. Now that she's in Heaven, I'm sure she's singing with the perfect voice she longed for on earth and enjoying every moment of singing in the Heavenly Chorus!
I'm sure Nana's doing lots of things in Heaven now. So many things she can do that she couldn't do here on earth. And I'm sure she'd love to tell me (and the rest of our family) all about them! But God, in His infinate wisdom, has decided not to allow communication between those who have gone before us and those who are left behind. Today, I read a Facebook post by a lady at our church who quoted her 3-year-old son when he said, "Mommy, Can we go to Heaven?" My initial response was that if they figure out a way to visit, I wanted to know! Then I realized...if I went for a visit, I'd never want to come back. And if I did, my focus would be on getting back to Heaven as soon as I could - not on what God has for me to do here. Perhaps that's why God has allowed the lack of communication between Heaven and earth. Our job here is to focus on the work He has for us to do. That's what Nana would tell me if she was here & that's exactly what I'm trying to do. I may not be perfect, and I'm sure to make even more mistakes than I already have...but I'll do my best! And when my time comes, I'll again feel Nana's & Grandaddy's arms wrapped tightly around me...as I can only imagine now. And even better than that, I'll feel the overwhelming love and acceptance of my Heavenly Father! How great Heaven's going to be when we get there! As the old hymn says, "when the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there!" :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Christopher's 5th Birthday Party


Christopher's actual birthday is March 6th - but the celebrations lasted more than a week! The above picture was taken when we took cupcakes to his class on Thursday, March 5th. Since he doesn't have school on Fridays this year, we celebrated with his class the day before his birthday.

We had his birthday party on Saturday, March 14th at Dinosaur Playground with all his buddies. I was able to work out a barter with the wonderful couple who own the Dinosaur Playground and I volunteered for several hours helping them keep it clean in exchange for the party. The best part was I could take Christopher with me while I worked, so he got bonus play time & knew all the ins & outs of the place by the time the party arrived! Grandma Jansen, Aunt Karen & Jonathan, Jack, Hunter, Cole, and Andrew all came to Christopher's party. Jack's big sister Jessica and Hunter's little brother Nathanael also joined the party. It was a lot of fun!



These are the cupcakes that I made for Christopher's party. Since we were having it at Dinosaur Playground, I thought we should have a Dinosaur theme to the party! I also made cupcakes just like this for Chistopher's class - but Christopher requested I put the trees up when I made them for his party! It turned out pretty good!

On the way to the party, we stopped at Party City to pick up some balloons! I'm sure we looked like the three stooges trying to get these balloons in the car! We had a dozen dinosaur latex balloons and 1 milar dinosaur ballloon. Once we were in the car, it became a "Where's Christopher?" (like Where's Waldo) scene!


This is the set-up in the small private party room at Dino Playground. We borrowed dinosaurs from the sand pit to hold down the balloons. Christopher and his buddy Jack are standing in front of the table. We had cupcakes, juice boxes, & cheese crackers. When this room is not being used for a party, it's a nice lounge where parents can relax and watch their children play from closed circuit tv. The curtains open up to reveal the main play area in front of the doors - all other rooms are on the TV. These people thought of everything! :)


While we waited for all the party guests to arrive, the kids got to play! This is supposed to be the baby area...but since there were no babies there, it became a place for boys to bounce safely off each other! They had the best time with these huge foam pieces, crawling over them, under them, through them...and wearing them to bounce into each other! :)


Here's Christopher with most of his party guests. Christopher decided he just wanted to invite boys this year! By the way, this is the comfy couch where parents can relax & watch their children play when there's no party!


After we sang Happy Birthday, Christopher blew out he #5 candle on his cupcake. Then, we passed out the cupcakes to everyone who wanted one. I got a great compliment when Cole's dad told me he liked my cupcakes better than Publix cupcakes! The cake part was from a mix...but the icing was homemade!
Soon after the cupcakes were eaten and the presents were opened, it was time to burn off some of that sugar! The boys all had a great time climbing through the play sculpture (pictured above), bouncing in the bounce house, banging on the drums, and just running around having fun!
Karen burried Jonathan in the sand pit. It's not sand like you find at the beach, it's more like gravel...which meant it didn't stick together or to Jonathan very well. This is normally a good thing in an indoor playground...but when you're trying to burry someone, it makes it a little harder. Obviously, they made it work! :)

After the party, Cole & his parents went out to lunch with us at LaBamba. Cole's Mommy & I used to teach 2nd grade together. We had both struggled with infertility and became great friends. While I was on maternity leave with Christopher, Cole's mommy found out she was expecting him! Even though Cole & his family moved to Boyton Beach a few years ago, we still find times to get together during school holidays and the boys have a special bond!


When we got home, it was time to unload the gifts out of the car. Christopher couldn't wait to play with all his gifts! The picture above is Christopher with the scooter, helmet, & pads that Grandma gave him! He was doing tricks in no time! He's a natural! :)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Beautiful Loser Update


For those of you who caught my blog a week or so ago, you know that I was selected as one of four contestants to participate in swflmoms.com's Beautiful Loser Contest! I have completed my first week with the personal trainer and the other three women and I can already see a bit of a difference...not necessarily in my weight, but in my energy level & desire to do active things with my son (like kick around a soccer ball)!
I met Dirk (our personal trainer) and two of the other ladies I'd be working out with on Monday morning at 9am. The 4th contestant had dropped out and they would need to select another winner to join us. The 4 of us - Missy, Jane, Dirk, and I - went for a 2.5 - 3 mile walk while Dirk told us his philosophy on weight loss and how he got into personal training. He also found out from us what our goals were and why we'd signed up for this. It was by far the easiest day of the week! :)
On Tuesday, we met again at 9am in hopes that our 4th person would join us, but she did not. We jogged/walked to the soccer fields, which was where we would be meeting pretty much the rest of the time. We then did warm-up marching drills & lunges and ran/jogged/walked around the soccer fields. Dirk said this would be the most boring day for us. We decided that we would prefer to start meeting at 8am, which we did starting on Wednesday.
Faith joined us on Wednesday and our group was complete. This is also when we began our circuit training. Dirk set up 4 stations at a time and we rotated every 90 seconds. I'm here to tell you, 90 seconds can be a REALLY long time when you're working out! :) After each of us had a turn at the 4 stations, Dirk would switch them until we'd done a total of 12 stations. Some of the stations included jumping jacks, weight lifting, jump rope, cruches, etc. We always end our workout with a jog/walk around the soccer fields. I think this is supposed to be our cool-down, but I don't feel very cool! ;)
Our "homework" for the weekend was to take a walk or do something active today and then rest tomorrow so we'll be ready for Monday's workout. Well...Christopher got a soccer ball for his birthday from "Unkie Chuckie" (David's youngest brother) - so David, Christopher, and I went outside this afternoon and kicked the soccer ball to each other. Christopher and I went out first and kicked it together for awhile. David was inside working on some things. Then Christopher decided he wanted to go play on his playground for awhile, so I kicked the soccer ball around the circle driveway in our backyard for awhile - just as the other girls and I had done with Dirk yesterday. :) Then, David came out and joined us and we had fun kicking the soccer ball to each other for awhile! It was great family fun! :)
Part of the requirement of being in this group is that we have to blog about our experience on the website 3 times per week. So far, I've blogged every day. I will continue to do so as time allows and will do a recap on this blog. If you want to follow my daily adventures, you can log onto www.swflmoms.com and read my blog in the MomShare section. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Five Year Ago Today







Five years ago today, my life was very different. I was not a Mommy, but I was hopeful I would be soon. I was on egg-shells most of the day. I had the home phone forwarded to my cell phone if I left the house for even a moment. My sweet cousin Karen took me out to keep my mind occupied while I waited. The phone call came while we were picking up Happy Meals at McDonald's for Jonathan's class. When David got home, we loaded the car and started the two hour drive to the hospital. I can't remember what we talked about, but I can tell you there was really only one thing on our mind...the birth of our son!

I did not have any physical labor pains, but the emotional ones were quite intense! I didn't have any water to break or contractions to measure, but I was blessed to be in the delivery room with the brave woman experiencing them so I could be a mom. My prayers were ferverently lifted as I heard the doctor talk about the cord being around my son's neck. I watched intently as he manuvered the cord out of the way so he could deliver this precious gift from God. My breathing was suspended as I waited to hear that wail that let me know all was well. Tears streamed down my face as I silently thanked God for my son's safe arrival into the world. My heart was blessed as Christopher's birth mom held him briefly before telling him that his Mommy (me) was waiting to hold him! Joy filled my heart as we called family and friends to announce Christopher's arrival into the world! My heart wrapped itself tightly around the tiny baby as we spent as much time with him in the hospital nursery as they would allow.

Fears crept in as we left the hospital that night to wait the required 24 hours before we could take him home. I wish I could tell you that weren't so...but the possibility of the birth mother changing her mind was very real - and my heart was already tightly wrapped around the little boy in the hospital nursery who had been born just hours before. Thankfully, none of those fears became a reality. Though the choice his birth mom made was obviously a very painful one for her to make, it was made out of love and in the best interest of the little boy she had conceived and brought into this world! What love she must have for him! How thankful I am for her!

Christopher was born on March 6th. As we left the hospital the following day (March 7th) with the most perfect, precious gift from God that I've ever laid eyes on, I could barely believe how blessed we were! And God's timing was perfect - we brought Christopher home on David's birthday! David says that was his best birthday present ever!

I can barely believe that five years have passed since those days! I remember them as vividly as if they were yesterday and I look forward to telling Christopher all about those days, as he is ready to learn about them! :)

Thank You, God for the blessing of my precious son! Thank You for blessing our lives over the last five years! Thank You for all the blessings You have in store for us in the future!