A List Maker's Life: September 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Favorite Things About Newborns

Courtney, my favorite current Hope College student and sweet friend, is the guest on A List Maker's Life today.  She typically blogs at alam mo ny an, and explains the meaning behind her title in the header of her page. Courtney has a huge heart for kids and has even taken the time to love on my babes.  She explains that her love for children often makes her friends roll their eyes. She is a daycare worker, nanny, baby-sitter, Mary Poppins wanna be, and midwife assistant.  She appreciates all things itty bitty as evidenced by the list she has shared with us here today!

My Favorite Things About Newborns

foot wrinkles
grunts and coos
froggy legs
milky breath
belly buttons!
gummy smiles
sweet smelling sweaty necks
tiny onesies
fuzzy hair

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


One Week Ago
One Precious Gift
One Day at a Time
One Miracle After Another

{Gabe Evan - 1 week}
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Monday, September 27, 2010

From Gabe

Hi everyone!
Thanks for all of your prayers. I gotta tell you, healing is a big job, but I'm working hard at it.

My owie.
(Momma says the Drs. are worried that I may have an infection in my incision, so I just got a new IV and more antibiotics. I have to stay on my tummy most of the day...again...But, I've figured out that if I act crazy hungry they will take me out to hold me)

My tanning glasses.
(a.k.a. protection from phototherapy - I guess these silly doctors didn't like that I was glowing orange)

My lounging table.
 (I will look forward to the day I don't have to hang out here, but for now everyone does their best to keep me comfy)


Sunday, September 26, 2010

5 Must Haves for Infants

I am thrilled to share my blog with my sweet friend Haley, from Love Life Family & Then Some.  Haley was my roommate extraordinaire for two nights at Cupcake '10.  We spent a great afternoon relaxing, visiting, and debriefing after an amazing event. In the short time I spent with Haley I realized that we will be friends for a long time.  

In the days just after we learned of Gabe's spina bifida Haley offered to fly to Holland to be with me.  I remember explaining to Kevin that it was much more than just an empty offer.  Haley would do anything for her friends.  No. matter. what.

Today Haley is helping us all out with her suggested lists of "Must Haves" for a new baby, written from her perspective as Jackson's mom!


My son could not live without these! It was the only brand he would use...and yes, he could tell the difference! I like them because they have really cool designs...lasted a long time, and they are BPA free. Plus if your child has a latex allergy they also make an alternative paci in another material.
Stroller/Carrycot Combo - like this one from Uppa Baby
Jackson hated being in his car seat until he was almost 5 months old...he would cry in it till he fell asleep...and I always felt so terrible about it and picked him up. It really made my stroller/carseat combo I bought pointless and it meant trips shopping or to the park were spent holding him (I didn't know comfortable options for wearing him yet, see below) which was sometimes difficult. A friend had a stroller with a carry cot that I got to try out one time and J loved it! I think because he was able to lay down comfortably. For my next baby I will skip the stroller that the car seat fits into and just go the carrycot route. What's also awesome is the cot can double as a bassinet at home! And, when baby is old enough to sit up in the stroller, you just take the carry cot off! Perfect!

Sakura Bloom Sling
For newborns, there is nothing better than one of these. You can have your baby so close, have your hands free, and be comfortable...all while looking super stylish. I'm kicking myself for not knowing about these when J was born! I will have one for my next baby....no doubt!

Ergo Baby Carrier
When baby gets a bit bigger having one of these is a must! These are SO comfortable to wear for both mom and baby...and with the little sunhood, you can go just about anywhere with these!

Svan Bouncer
I love this one because it's not in goofy primary colors that will totally clash with everything in the room. It sleek and stylish, plus it's small - so it's good for travel. Having one of these was a life saver when J was new...he liked his bouncy seat even more than his swing or stroller as an infant...and I could put him in it and bring him in the bathroom while I showered so I could still see him.

Thanks for the great list Haley,
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gaby Babe

Our week has gone far better than we ever imagined.  For the last 16 weeks we have anticipated our babe's arrival with excitement, love, and trepidation.  As Gabe's birth week has unfolded we have consistently been blessed by his progress and the news we receive.  All better than we expected, yet I realize - just as we prayed for.
We were told that Gabe would need to be flat on his belly for about 2 weeks while his incision healed properly.  This meant that all feedings would be by bottle, in the incubator, with a cricked neck. We are now able to hold him to eat on his tummy or his side.

Side lie also means that I can see his whole sweet face when his daddy holds him:) Amazing progress! 

We were also interested to hear from the surgeon about where Gabe's defect seemed to be located on his spinal column.  There are no specific indicators of what his leg function will be based on the location, but there is some thought that the lower it is the better.  Based on our ultrasounds they suspected Gabe's lesion to be mid-lumbar.  His neurosurgeon has determined it to be a sacral defect.  Lower than we expected.  Another huge praise!

Gabe is moving his leg and continues to feel sensation in his feet - especially during those 6 hour lab work ups.  He has had plenty of wet and dirty diapers (that they have us changing).  All good things!

Typically, after the surgery to repair the back the fluid levels in a baby's brain will increase because it no longer has a place from the spinal cord to drain.  In the day after surgery Gabe's head measured a bit bigger and the nurses speculated that he would indeed need a shunt placed before he went home.  However, in the two days since then his head has measured the same as it did at birth.  Seriously, more amazing stuff!

At this point our little guy is totally IV free, eating on a schedule, and resting comfortably on his belly between feedings. We are encouraged by all of this.  Right now Kevin and I are transitioning to a nearby hospitality house to stay while Gabe continues his NICU journey.  

Thank you for your continued prayers. 
They ARE working. 
Miracles abound.
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"All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within {Gabe}, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surgery Update

Kevin and I were just sitting bedside with our baby boy, who is super sleepy as he slowly works the anethesia out of his system, amazed at the peace we felt in the midst of great uncertainty today. It is obvious that your love, thoughts, and prayers are with us and pulling us all through.

We got the call at 7:30 AM that Gabe's surgery would be between 8-8:30. After spending a bit of time next to his bed we headed to pre-op to meet with the neurosurgeon (who was not the one we originally met with and were expecting to see) and anesthesiologist (who happened to know our extended family and was the Dr. for a surgery Gavin had in '08). On the way down, in his incubator, our sweet babe opened his trusting little eyes for the first time and watched us as we rolled down the hall next to him.

Just before the surgeon took our little love away I said, "We're trusting you here."  He smiled at me (for the first time) and said,"You need to look a bit higher than me."  Well, yes we do and we will.

The surgery to tuck his exposed neural cord back into his body lasted about 2 1/2 hours and the surgeon declared in a success. In his post op call he explained to us that Gabe had minimal blood loss and they were able to repair his back without plastic surgery and/or skin grafts. (For those of you who are not familiar with Spina Bifida, this surgery is mostly cosmetic and intended to protect his body from infection at the site of the lesion. The surgery does not fix the damage done by the inutero defect.) They were also pleased that they were able to use a "straight, mid line" incision. We are learning that this is a positive thing. Our strong fighter proved himself again as he was able to return to the NICU without the ventilator (which they originally warned he might need throughout the day today)!

We will have more questions for the specialist tomorrow, such as: where specifically was the defect located on the spinal column and how will the fluid on Gabe's brain be monitored and treated in days to come (it is possible he will still need a brain shunt placed after recovering from this initial surgery).

We are praising God that the surgery went smoothly, that the NICU is very encouraged by the small size of Gabe's defect, and that he is still exhibiting some sensation and movement in both of his legs.

We are praying specifically for a few requests tonight:
~Yesterday Gabe was showing signs of both bowel and bladder function with wet and dirty diapers. Since surgery today he has yet to have any function - this could be related to surgery, however there is also a possibility that further damage occurred during surgery limiting these functions and making is necessary to use a catheter to protect his kidneys.
~Even though we are not able to physically display our affection by holding him yet, we are praying that Gabe would feel the love and comfort from all of us and that he will be able to appropriately bond.

Thank you so very much for your continued love and support!

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer..." Romans 12:12

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

He Is Beautiful


7 lbs. 13 oz.
20 inches long

We are completely in love with this beautiful baby boy and amazed at the way God has already displayed his power in knitting together our precious son.   Many miracles to share in time, but tonight we ask for prayers in directing our neurosurgeon's hands and decisions tomorrow morning.

"Praying that you have the heart to fight
Cuz you are more than what is hurting you tonight
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You're beautiful"
~Mercy Me

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Not Alone

It may not be the way we would have chosen
When you lead us through a world that's not our home
But, you never said it would be easy
You only said we'd never go alone
~Ginny Owens
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up

Soccer Star
Gavin's first game of the season was accompanied by a chilly rain shower, but it didn't dampen our able athlete's attitude.  We already see great skill improvement from last year {must be the better coaching staff}

Plentiful Picking
Anne Hope and Gibson had their first taste of fall picking apples at Cranes.  We followed up the hard work with a delicious donut and hot cider snack.

Beautiful Ballerina
Fall lessons kicked off for our delicate dancer this week and she LOVES it. 

Friendly Fire Fighters
We had the most amazing visit to the firehouse with our good friends.  Our time including: a detailed tour, a dessert date with the firefighters, and...a ride in the truck!

Family fun night found us braving the crowds in downtown Holland to enjoy this annual event.

More to come on this awesome mommy & me adventure...

That all made for a exceptionally exciting week. 
Wonder if next week can top it ???
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Friday, September 17, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of Our Life

Baby days are coming soon.

I spend much of my day dreaming of our little one's impending arrival and hoping it will be sooner than expected.

Yet, when I think about the day he will be born I wish I could just keep him inside where he is safe, protected, and unaffected by the medical trials to come.

I want to see the whole picture, to have clear answers, to understand what our next steps will be.

Yet, I don't want the full picture and I don't want to go through the learning process necessary in discovering what our next steps will be.

I want to share our baby and our story to impact others.

Yet, I don't want to talk about it - seeking privacy instead of attention.

I want to move on with our new life.

Yet, I want things to stay the way they are.

I want to experience the shelter. I want to weather the storm.

Yet, I know that only with the peace that transcends my understanding am I ready to celebrate the first day of the rest of our lives.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

live. laugh. blog.

{photo courtesy of Stacey via the Gleek Retreat 10 flickr stream}

I've been thinking a lot lately about the living, laughing, blogging balance.

In the recent months my personal blog has given me great encouragement through the readers and friends who take the time to comment, and share their lives with me.  I love the two way interaction and the relationships I have built through online connections.  The laughter and smiles that result from checking in with friends and hearing about their day to day experiences is enjoyable as well.

I've discovered  it is much more rewarding to "just write" authentically than it is to give a one-sided perspective on real life.  I've also realized there are days it seems it would be easier to retract all comments and emotions, keeping them to myself.  As the days of our pregnancy draw close to an end I find myself more personally reflective and less willing to share publicly.  However, I continue to appreciate your thoughts and prayers and I look to your blogs for inspiration and laughter. 

In the final days that we wait, and the days after our sweet babe is born, I will be sure to check in here and share thoughts and experiences when we feel we can be honest about our journey and encouraging to others. Even when I don't check in with the blog I will  most certainly be experiencing life and learning to live.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feathered and Striped

Before our newest little one makes his arrival we really wanted to make over each of the "big kids'" rooms. When Gavin's project turned in to something much bigger than I originally expected I resigned myself to the idea that Anne Hope would have to wait for her own extreme bedroom makeover.

Well, lucky for her, I was wrong. Grandpa stepped in to get the project in motion and Kevin put in hours and hours of weekend overtime to make her freshly redecorated bedroom a reality.  Crazy enough I didn't take a single before picture. 
My favorite thing about Anne Hope's new room is the colorful curtains.  Her favorite - the "bed up high." 
With another project checked off the list, who knows maybe I can still convince Kevin to fit in a kitchen makeover and a new roof??? 

No, seriously, my biggest goal now is to find a way to scrub all of the slopped paint off my elbows and toes before heading off to the hospital to deliver.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Sneak Peek: What Are They Making?

So, what do you suppose my littlest helpers were up to here? 
Believe it or not this project is Santa's Workshop part 1.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Firsts of First

Gavin finished a fantastic first week of first grade today!  On the way home this afternoon I heard my first story ever about a "best friend" and the games they invented at recess.  Recess, which is also a first since there wasn't recess time in Kindergarten, has quickly become a favorite part of the school day.  Crazy enough, recess was one time of day I was most worried about how Gavin would respond. Silly momma!

Despite my offers to pack his lunch, Gavin also enjoyed his first taste of hot lunch and choosing his own meal in the cafeteria line.  Typically rest time follows this little man's lunchtime, but this was his first 5 day stretch without a nap.  However, we didn't get a single report of him sneaking some shut eye during silent reading.

My two daytime play buddies are sure missing their firstborn brother as they get used to this new routine and anxiously watch for his class to be dismissed at pick up time.  Before he is ready to play with them though he has to finish his daily homework - his first taste of regular routine.

I am so very excited for Gavin and all that he will experience this year in first grade.  I spend much of my day wondering what he is learning, reading, or playing.  When he hops in the car I desperately want to hear every detail of what he is thinking.  Unfortunately, it is usually just "What's for home snack?" 

It would seem that he has smoothly made this big transition to being in school all day, every day - even if I'm likely to need at least 6 months to get used to sending my first babe off into the big world of education without me.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Perhaps Neurosurgeons Are People Too?

After waiting much longer than we expected, Kevin and I were finally able to meet with the pediatric neurosurgeon last week. We came prepared with many questions, yet a bit intimidated to ask someone so smart and skilled.

We had heard plenty of warnings about what to expect when talking to this scientific specialist: worst case scenarios, confusing vocabulary, goofy doctor-isms, and inflated self esteem. We were so pleasantly surprised by how the visit actually progressed.

Our doctor was incredibly honest with us about what to expect. However, he explained so many things to us in language that we were finally able to understand and statistics that we were able to hold on to. He has professional opinions on whether or not to proceed with a shunt surgery right away, as well as whether to use programable or non-programmable shunts {a confusing sentence if you're not a SB insider...sorry}. Yet, he is willing to listen to our concerns about each of these issues and involve us in the decision making process. 

There is peace in knowing what to expect from this specialist in the weeks {and years} to come. At this point it is high on our prayer list that this neurosurgeon will be assigned to us after our baby's birth. At this point it is the plan, however his {the Drs.} family is dealing with a personal medical uncertainty of their own which may change his schedule. For those of you who have willingly joined us in prayer for the days and weeks to come, we ask that you will add this concern to your list. Thanks!

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Matter What with a Giveaway

Update:  This giveaway is now closed.  The winner - chosen by Random.org - is comment #15,
kbloems27 said...
I follow!!
September 9, 2010 2:09 PM

In the days of crazy emotion after learning of our unborn baby's development I often turned to music for comfort.  While driving home from an AM school drop off I heard a young lady being interviewed on the radio just before they played her debut song.  The song No Matter What was exactly what I needed to hear and quickly became my theme song.  Since the album was yet to be released I would listen to clips of the song over and over on her website.  Now the radio stations around here are all playing it - quite frequently in fact!  Every time it comes on the kids roll their eyes and say in their goofy voices, "Here we go again!"  Knowing that I will turn it up REALLY loud and probably won't get through it without tearing up a bit.

The song was written about the miraculous biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They claimed God could deliver them from the fiery furnace, because nothing is impossible with Him.  Yet, if He chose not to save them at least they proclaimed that they believe, trust, and love Him. Thus the inspiration for the song's chorus line:

"No matter what, I’m gonna love You, no matter what I’m gonna need You, I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, I’ll trust You."

Around the same time Samantha from Trading Phrases contacted me about reviewing their shop here on A List Maker's Life.  Trading Phrases sells vinyl wall lettering designs, quotes, and artwork designs to personalize your space.  I immediately envisioned this special phrase in our home as a constant reminder for the days to come.  And, although Trading Phrases has hundreds of very stylish quotes, graphics, and phrases they were willing to work with me to create a personalized piece for our home.

The plan was for this 32" phrase to hang above the dresser in our bedroom.  Kevin and I chose two contrasting fonts from a list of available fonts on the Trading Phrases website.  We also chose two colors, ivory and chocolate (although there are MANY other colors to choose from and they will send you color samples to match with your paint).  The designers were very quick with our proofs and willing to make adjustments as we asked.

When our design arrived we were so excited about it that we didn't want it to be hidden away in our bedroom.  We decided instead to put it in a much more prominent place - our kitchen.  We used one of the several practice designs that came with our order to test the surface and practice the install techniques as they are explained in five easy steps.

{carefully following the leveling instructions in the step by steps}
{final result}

We love it!  It is a perfect match for the room and a perfect reminder!

For my next project I would love to order the Moon And Back Decal for the kids' room.  Our nursery theme for all of the kids has been the book Guess How Much I Love You.  We have a mural painted on one wall of the room inspired by the illustrations in the book.  As we tuck the kids in at night we remind them that we love them to the moon and back. So, wouldn't this be a fantastic phrase for the big kids' room since they no longer have the mural as a reminder?   

And, someday when I have a big house, with a big blank wall - we'll see about that - I would love to have this huge, Cute Tree.  In fact, I did briefly think that I needed to go back to teaching just to put this fun tree up on one of my classroom walls.  It wouldn't be a problem, because at the end of the year the vinyl is easily removable.  Anyway...
Do you have a family motto, a graphic theme, a favorite verse, or inspirational quote you'd love to see in your home?  It's likely you will find the perfect fit at Trading Spaces. 


Trading Phrases would like you to also have a chance to try their amazing designs.  They are offering one reader of ALML the beautiful Family wall phrase pictured above.

To be entered to win this giveaway please take a few minutes to look over all the great designs available at Trading Phrases.  Let us know, in a comment, about your favorites!

Earn an additional entry by signing up for the Trading Phrases newsletter and commenting about that as well.

I would also like to offer you additional entries if you follow A List Maker's Life with Google Friend Connect, Tweet about this giveaway, and/or leave a comment on another post here on the blog and let me know.  Leave separate comments for each entry.  Thanks!

This giveaway will close on Wednesday, September 15th at 10 PM EST.
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Disclaimer:  Trading Phrases worked with me to create the No Matter What design.  The lyrics are written by Kerrie Roberts.  Trading Phrases sent me the final design free of charge in exchange for my honest opinions, which is what I have offered here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy School Years Eve

After extra snuggles in momma's bed to celebrate our last morning of sleeping in, our Happy School Years Eve banner greeted us at breakfast.
We relaxed the day away with Grandma and Grandpa before returning home for a fresh back to school haircut and a backpack full of school supply surprises.
Now, my soon to be first grader is tucked in bed with visions of cafeteria lunch and two recesses dancing in his head. 
His dad and I just put the final touches on the traditional Back to School breakfast table.  Where early tomorrow morning we will all talk about hopes, wishes, and dreams for a new school year while enjoying eggs and waffles.
Where we will read The Pirates Guide to First Grade, add some adorable little school themed erasers to his collection, and maybe even eat a bite or two of these cute candy apples.
Before heading off into this grand new adventure!
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Unexpected First

Dear Tooth Fairy,
I fell off my bike today and lost my first tooth, but I can not find it in the road. So, I give you this note instead. I hope you will still give me some money.
Love, Gavin

Sweet buddy was playing legos in the morning and tried to separate two sticky blocks with his front teeth.  Instantly wiggly. 

Oh no.  This is terrible, what else could go wrong today?

Little did he know that hours later a big spill off his two wheeler would land him face down with the just wiggly tooth popped out and a really fat lip.  We are all really hoping his face heals just as instantly -  before his first day of school on Tuesday.  More than the pain of the injury, Gavin is quite worried that his face is damaged and his friends will ask him too many embarrassing questions. (Sorry I don't have a picture, he won't allow that either for fear that you might laugh;)

Anyway, the tooth fairy finds herself a bit unprepared for this special first so off she must fly...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Her Favorite Boys

Anne Hope is sure to be a lucky little lady
to go through life with three brothers.
Admittedly, she was really hoping for a sister in 2010.
Yet, she has learned to embrace her special position as
daddy's one and only "baby girl."
 She adores her big G and little G.  She knows better than most just what Gibson needs when he is in search of comfort. 
She has also perfected her "me too" motto
when it comes to anything Gavin says, wants, or does.
As the only sister, someone will always be
looking out for or looking up to her.

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