When my mom was pregnant with me, she asked my great uncle to be my “grandpa” because she was sad that, because she lost her father years prior, I would only have one grandfather. Of course, Grandpa’s wife is Grandma, and thus began one of the most important relationships of my life.
Grandma Elaine and Grandpa Kenny lived right around the corner from us, a nine minute walk away, and we took advantage of the distance often. We were are their house probably twice a week, sometimes more. We spent many many hours over a pot of tea and a plate of cookies, chatting about life. Grandma was also mine and Emily’s first caretaker – she babysat us both for the entire first year of our lives so that Mom wouldn’t have to put us directly into daycare.
As I grew up, Grandma and I spent lots of time on the dog rescue circuit – running them from shelter to shelter, delivering donated food to foster homes, rescuing them from questionable situations, showing them on Fox 8 with Dick Goddard, and placing surrendered and fostered animals with new homes. When she and Grandpa moved to Ocala, Florida in 1996, it really rocked my world for a lot of reasons…but really my heart just ached for these two people who I loved so deeply and were now so far away.
They lived in Florida until Grandpa’s death in 2015, when Grandma sold everything and relocated back to Canton to live with her sister, my Grandma Cox. For me, it was like a second chance. She was at family gatherings again, she was there for the birth of my babies (who call her GG), and my heart that broke in 1996 was a little less broken. “The Grandmas” took care of each other and supported each other (and bickered with each other 😑) for the last few years, through COVID, and through lots of health crises. When Grandma Cox passed in October, I knew Grandma Elaine wouldn’t be far behind and unfortunately, I was right. She passed early Friday morning and with that, broke my heart again.
I’m thankful that she and I got to have a proper goodbye and that we both understood how important we were to each other. As she liked to say, Emmy and I weren’t hers on paper, but we always were in her heart.
Grandma, thank you for everything that you have done for me, for everything that you’ve been for me, and for being my person. Thank you for choosing us.
I like to think that someday, I’ll come back and write a post for each month of sweet Finnegan’s first year, but for now, let’s all just meet me where I am, and celebrate the fact that our Finny is 13 months old!
Finnegan is an absolute delight. He’s happy 99% of the time and he lets us know when that 1% hits with the most blood curdling scream I’ve ever heard. We had to have a monitor for Liam because he wasn’t much of a screamer and would often just wait for us to come and get him. In fact, he is still quiet when there’s something wrong – so quiet that when he sneaks into our room in the middle of the night, he either scares us or we have no idea he’s there until morning. Finnegan is…different. If it wasn’t for checking in on him in the middle of the night or morning wake ups when he’s happy and NOT screaming, we definitely would not need a monitor.
Our food journey with Finny has been completely different than it was with Liam. He’s had food sensitivities since the very beginning and were confirmed when he was about two months old through NAET testing with Dr. Greg Kempf. We identified sensitivities to dairy, fructose, and gluten, and so avoided each until recently when he was tested for actual allergies. He is not allergic to any – but is allergic to peanuts. After we discovered that he is not allergic, we have started to introduce each category slowly (except peanuts!) and so far, so good. We have another week in our mini gluten trial, then will add in dairy the following week. (We are still doing “trials” because though he isn’t technically allergic, he could still be sensitive and have some degree of reaction.)
The backstory to all of this is that we started to see a direct correlation between my milkshake addiction 😬 and his digestion and his skin. We consulted with Dr. Kristy and the AMAZING lactation consultants at Senders Pediatrics, checked his stool for blood, confirmed the microscopic drops to indicate irritation, and started to see Dr. Kempf for testing.
The NAET, or Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques, is 100% a “have to see it to believe it” kind of situation. The very short, non-expert synopsis is that it is a means of identifying sensitivities and allergens and then desensitizing the identified offenders. NAET practitioners give vials of allergens to patients (one at a time) and, while holding the vial in one hand and holding out the opposite arm at chest level, the practitioner tries to lower the arm with slight pressure with his or her finger. If the arm drops, there’s a sensitivity. If not, there’s not. Got it? 🤣
We went to the first appointment knowing that the offending allergen was likely dairy and in fact had already eliminated it from my diet, but needed confirmation and help. We went through lots of vials, one by one, and all of a sudden, while I wasn’t paying attention, my arm dropped. (Because Finny was a baby, I held the vial on his head and held my arm out – I was like a conductor for the energy.) I thought I had just lost my concentration – we were chatting away, so surely, I was just distracted. I said oh shoot, try that again. Sure enough, he used one finger, pushed on my outstretched arm, and it dropped like a stone. I looked up at Dr. K – he said “that’s dairy”. I said “SHUT UP” because… because it sounds like nonsense! How is that a thing?! He tried it on Shane and same reaction. Once we got over the shock, we went through the desensitizing process, which is essentially acupuncture or acupressure. I am obviously a firm believer in acupuncture after the success we had with it with both boys’ transfers, so this required no convincing from Dr. Kempf. Finny was desensitized, we eliminated dairy from our diet
We went back twice more with additional sensitivities and identified fructose and wheat. The great news is that Shane and I each lost a TON of weight – my current grand total since Easter 2021 when we first started eliminating is about 42 pounds and his is somewhere close – maybe a little more. His GRAND total is well over 100 pounds, but that’s a story for another day. As I like to remind him, clearly we are sensitive to those foods as well because essentially “all” we’ve done to lose that weight is eliminate dairy, fructose, and gluten, and all sweets. No problem, right?! Thankfully we did it in stages so it never felt like deprivation.
Back to Finny… as far as 13 month milestones go, he is completely mobile, walking and hurrying everywhere (he has figured out how to hustle when he sees an opportunity to make a break for it out of the living room). He loves to imitate – actions, sounds, etc. Big Brother thinks that’s hilarious so he does silly things to see Finnegan do them too. Food is becoming more fun as he has more options. He is – and has been for a while, actually – very clingy to me. We joked that it was because I was the food source, but now that we’re in the weaning process, I think it’s just an attachment thing. Speaking of weaning, we’re down to about three times a day at most. Unlike Liam, who required intentional weaning, Finny is doing it much more naturally, which is perfect for him and for me.
So that’s it! Finny is a blast, I love this age so much, and I am so excited to watch him continue to grow and develop and get to know who he is!
Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!: We celebrated Liam’s first birthday on December 15 with family and friends and – unfortunately – a sick baby. He seemed pretty happy all morning, but when I got him up from his nap, he clearly wasn’t himself. In all the craziness, I wasn’t able to pay as much attention to him as usual, and as a result, probably missed the warning signs of how sick he was. He didn’t dig into the cake as we assumed/hoped he would…didn’t seem interested in frosting, or even taking bites. A while after cake time, we were opening some gifts in the kitchen and it started. He spent the next few hours vomiting off and on (and off and on himself and me!) which was a LOVELY way to spend an afternoon and evening! We were pretty sure that he was actually sick, but got some well-meant feedback from family members that he may have just had too much sugar. Our suspicions were confirmed, however, 36 hours later when Shane and I both woke up with it. Needless to say, I’d like a re-do for his first birthday party! At least it was memorable?
Sick, sick, sick (again): After Liam spent his party day sick, Shane and I both came down with it the following Monday and we spent two days going between the couches, our bed, and the bathrooms. Ugh. Liam seemed to be OK on Monday, probably well enough for school, but neither of us had the strength to get him in the car to go to daycare. (It was quite the day of exceptional parenting, let me tell you!) He went the next day, and Wednesday, but at the end of the day on Wednesday, his teacher sent me a message and said he had a fever. UGH. He was also diagnosed with a double ear infection (again) (and plenty of teething) that week at his one year appointment. He went on Augmentin (moment of silence for all of the parents who have changed the Augmentin diapers…eww…) and then spent the rest of the week at home. I was with him on Thursday and Emily stayed on Friday. WHEW. The good news is, the diseases are gone, all four one year molars are in and with all of that came some good sleep! I think we even got like four nights in a row of no wakeups! (We’ve been 50/50 on sleeping through since around the beginning of October.)
Christmas: Though this was not Liam’s first Christmas, it sure felt like it was since we essentially slept or didn’t sleep through the last one. It was so much more fun to open gifts and play with the toys and chase him away from the Christmas tree… He got some pretty great presents: a John Deere tractor trike, a light up play set, a bike trailer, a zoo membership, some foam gymnastics equipment…lots of stuff to try to burn off his one year old energy!
Christmas Story: On Boxing Day, we planned to visit the Christmas Story House and have dinner at the Hofbrauhaus with Shane’s family – the Christmas day out! Unfortunately, a stomach bug hit Hank and Tonia so we were down two for our adventure. We carried on though and had a fun Grammy Day touring the house and eating some delicious German food! We’re hoping to make the day out a tradition – but are hoping to leave the stomach bugs in 2018!
Music Man: One of Liam’s most hilarious birthday gifts is this crazy goose. Aunt Kathy and Uncle Papa bought it for Liam for his birthday and OMG. So funny. It’s such a great gift for him because he LOVES to dance! He doesn’t seem to have a preference for a type of music yet, except for the kind he can dance to! He has been to the big kid music class at school a couple of times and when he isn’t attempting an escape, he’s apparently learning a lot: one day we were listening to one of the kids’ stations on our Echo and the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” came on…and he did the motions! (Mostly…he can do the spider parts!) I’m so anxious to see if all of these interests and talents will translate into his grown-up life (Mostly… I’m savoring this time!).
Feeding: I was re-reading some of our old blog posts and I noticed that I shared about our feeding experiences way back when Liam was about six weeks old. Our nursing journey was pretty rocky at the very beginning, but I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve provided the majority of Liam’s nutrition since the first weekend he was home. The only exceptions were the formula we had to give him while he was jaundiced and the real food he’s been eating for the last six months. We’re officially down to just two feedings per day – morning and night (and during the night – ugh) – and I know these will be the hardest to drop, but I’m kind of letting Liam take the lead on this one – truly baby-led weaning.
We got another round of the stomach bug between Christmas and New Years, then had a quiet New Year’s Eve with a dinner prepared by Chef Shane (filet mignon and lobster tail – yum!) and a quiet New Year’s Day with the aunties (Uncle Chris was stricken with another of the floating diseases).
We’re trying to hit the zoo on a more regular basis so we went twice over the holidays. Daddy added teeth and hair brushing to our nightly routine, which is just as freakin’ cute as you’d imagine. That’s their time together but I did sneak in and get some pictures for posterity.
We’re planning on far fewer diseases in 2019! New year, new immune system, right?!
And that’s about it! Otherwise we’re just doing our thing! Daycare, work, rinse, repeat. We’re just desperately in love with this little boy and the joy he’s brought to our lives and are amazed that God chose us to be his.
PS: if you’re watching the video and are concerned that he’s wearing moccasins in on the soft ground, have no fear: he is now the proud owner of some fancy light up tennis shoes!
I come before you today, humbled by the fact that I have a one year old son.
The journey to parenthood was hard.
The journey to the one year mark was hard.
Parenting without parents is hard.
But being Liam’s mommy? One of the easiest things I’ve ever done.
Pick Up and Go!: Most recently, he’s not just walking, but can pick himself up from the floor without needing assistance. Throughout this first year, I’ve been careful to avoid announcing milestones until I REALLY hear or see something. Once doesn’t count. He needs to do it with intention and purpose. I saw him get up on his own once before, but just before his birthday, he started getting up consistently – and just like that, we were done crawling!
Books a Million: As an English teacher, there aren’t words to express how happy it makes me when my son goes to grab a book and crawl into my lap to read it. He is even turning pages! Not at the right time or the right amount but at 12 months old, and for a kid who doesn’t sit still for anything, I’ll take what I can get, ok?! 😂 He isn’t allowed near paper books and he’s destroyed a bunch of board books BUT we’re reading and it’s amazing. His consistent favorite is Five Silly Monkeys (which ripped and Superdad repaired!).
Adapting: Shane has been traveling for work more often lately and in November worked in Columbus for five days. Our parenting is so fluidly connected that I was pretty freaked out at the idea of being a “single parent” for that amount of time. Thankfully, Auntie Emmy passes our house on her commute to work each day so she was around a lot to help out in the morning and after school. And the good news is that we all survived! (Including Daddy who both had a great time with his friends and missed his little family!)
First Thanksgiving: We also celebrated Liam’s first Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful day – our baby boy’s first and our first in our new home.
First Harley Breakfast: One of our longest standing family traditions is the South East Harley Davidson Christmas open house on Black Friday. We’ve been going for almost thirty years so being able to take Liam was so, so special. I miss my parents so much, maybe the most on days like that especially because I know that both of my parents would have LOVED these moments with Liam – and Grandpa John would have been SO proud that he saw Santa!
Sick, sick, sick: Right after Thanksgiving weekend, we all got sick in one form or another. Shane had body aches and a fever. Liam was diagnosed with double ear infections on the same night that I was diagnosed with strep. He’d been working hard on his one year molars too so he was a bit miserable for a while, the poor kid. We were both home from school for a couple of days that week, but thankfully were well enough by the following weekend because it was another one of our most favorite days of the year: Tree Day! This year, our Auntie Cindy came into town for some of our December activities, including our annual tree hunt. Again, if you’ve been fans of the blog – or our family – you know that our Christmas tree hunt is EXTRA special for us – and was even more so with Liam! (And Aunt Cindy, Uncle Papa, and Aunt Kathy who joined us this year – what a treat!)
I’m so proud to be Liam’s mommy…when people have said how “smiley” or friendly or sweet he is, I melted with pride. When he was RUNNING by his first birthday, I exploded with pride. When he looks at me, into what feels like my soul, I am just a puddle of the melted, bursting pride, because never did I ever imagine what this love could feel like.
Saying that we wanted to have kids, or that we wanted a baby, and going through the struggle we did to get here, we really had no idea what we were saying. I certainly was not prepared to be the mom of a newborn. I’m probably still not really prepared, but what I am prepared to do is love this little boy with all of my heart and protect him as much as I can, and let him fly as much as I can, and show him as much as I can, and really just do the best that I can.
Clothing Clean-out: This isn’t shocking to any parent, but it just blows my mind how much clothing we go through! I transitioned Liam from his 9 month clothes to his 9-12 and 12 month wardrobe this month and the sheer volume of clothing he has, has gone through, and has yet to wear is just astounding. Our system is to separate each type of clothing (short sleeve, long sleeve, pants, sleepers, etc.) into grocery bags and then put the bags into bins (we’re huge fans of the smaller black bins with yellow lids from Costco to keep the different sizes separated).
Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!: As has become our tradition, we did lots of pumpkin-related activities this month…we went to Patterson Fruit Farm for pumpkin shopping with the aunties, Mapleside Farm for a pumpkin festival with Shane’s dad and stepmother (which will be a BLAST next year for Liam – there’s a ton for bigger kids to do), and then of course had our carving/pumpkin day. All of this was fun before, but it’s so much more fun with Liam around – it’s all become baby-centric and that could not make me any happier.
Grandparents: With Shane’s mom and stepdad in Florida, we started having weekly dinners with his grandparents. It’s good for us, good for them, and really good for Liam. As I’ve said before, Liam is at a tremendous deficit with grandparents, but he is blessed with a ton of great-grandparents. When I was born, I had none left – Liam has five! What a lucky little boy. He also spent his first Halloween with his great-grandparents, though with his super early (self-imposed!) bedtime, it was admittedly pretty anti-climatic. He did get all dressed up for school though and had his first Halloween party!
Democracy: We voted early this year because I wasn’t sure what obstacles would face us with voting in a new place. I actually requested absentee ballots for us but they didn’t arrive until about a week after the election. Knowing how important this election was, and maybe even more importantly to start setting the good example for Liam early, we went to our board of elections in Chardon on the Sunday before the election – along with what felt like half of the county – and voted. We know that we cancel each other out on many issues, but that doesn’t matter: what does matter is exercising our right!
I think that’s about it! He’s walking everywhere – trying to run!, attempting to escape from our giant playpen at every chance he gets, laughing, clapping, dancing, singing – he’s a blast. We feel so, so, so lucky to be his parents.
This month, the big story is that Liam started daycare. In the very beginning, we talked to Shane’s mom about helping us with childcare just for the first few months between my return to school and summer vacation. She generously offered to keep watching him until she returned to Florida in October. So, the time came, and she flew south and he spread his wings and started “school”! We’re really thankful that we found a place that we love and that it’s close to home. When Liam was really tiny, we did some visiting and loved some didn’t love others but the place that we felt was the closest to what we were able to provide ourselves (only, let’s be honest, better!) is Papillion Enrichment Center. He started at the beginning of October and took a couple of weeks to adjust, but from the beginning, he was comfortable in the setting and really, what more can I ask? We’re happy with his teachers and with the center in general, which makes all of this so much easier!
Finding his Rhythm: This kid LOVES music! His teachers asked me one day if he loves to dance at home as much as he does at school and – duh – but it never even occurred to me that his little movements were DANCING! Anyway – here’s his moves:
As with every month, there were also lots of fun activities and lots of people to meet! I mentioned that we didn’t love The Great Trail Festival anymore, but we do still love Yankee Peddler – which is somewhat similar, but much bigger and much closer and even has a family connection! My parents took me there when I was a little older than Liam and I got my first bee sting! Thankfully that experience wasn’t genetic. We had more fun with Uncle Tim, got to meet Aunt Becky & Uncle Ronnie and his cousin Ronnie, and Aunt Kelly & Andy, saw Aunt Tammy, and Liam crawled inside of a stool and got mad. All in all, a great month!
From Steps to Walking: We’re crediting this one to daycare and chasing older kids around. We went from taking steps for a while to full on walking – right after he started school. All of his milestones have been exciting but this one was incredible to watch. Before we moved in mid-June, he couldn’t even move forward and now, not even three months later, he’s WALKING. Amazing.
Southern Family: Liam also got to spend a weekend with Shane’s southern support system: Kevin, Trixie, and Sarah (missing Mary Beth and Ashley!!). We had a fun weekend of spending a lot of time together, touring Shane’s stomping grounds, watching football, and visiting the Rock Hall. Most importantly, they got lots and lots of Liam time!
Another Date Night: We opened the floodgates of date night by asking for help (THANKS FAMILY) and got to go out a few times to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. We made our annual trip to Adam Hall, the site of our wedding and specifically to the exact spot we said our vows, had a really, REALLY tasty dinner at Sharon James Winery, the site of our rehearsal dinner, and just had a great time reconnecting with each other as a couple.
And that’s the end of Month #10 with our gorgeous baby boy! As I feel like I say each month, this year is absolutely FLYING. He is becoming more and more fun and more and more into a little person every day!
(Full disclosure: I’m writing this months late, but backdating the publish date.)
Back to Reality: Going back to work was so difficult…significantly more so than going back after maternity leave, probably because after maternity leave, I knew I just had to get through a couple of months and then I’d have the WHOLE SUMMER of just Liam and me. But when the time came for me to head back, I really had to find a way to deal with being away from my baby…to being a working mom. The hardest part is that I feel like I’m not doing either job well. The biggest change I’ve made this year is that I try really, really hard to not do any work at home. (I know my teacher friends are laughing!) If I do have to do work at home, I don’t do it in front of Liam, even if that means staying up late in the office to get it done. I know I won’t be able to maintain that life forever, but it’s something to strive for.
Life-size Playpen: The nature of our living room requires a fair amount of awkward fencing…two baby gates and then another gate to keep Liam out of the fireplace and cabinets. We finally installed all of it because the kid is on the move! We basically live in a life-size playpen, but at least he’s (relatively) safe? No real walking on his own yet, but he’s chasing his walker like crazy (see below for evidence!)
Out and About: This is my favorite time of the year for getting out and about – and for years I’ve dreamed of sharing my favorite outdoor activities with my kids so this year was extra special. We took Liam to Geneva-on-the-Lake for the second time, but his first at Eddie’s Grill so of course that was a special occasion 🙂 We also hit up a few festivals: The Great Trail and the Great Geauga County Fair. My family and I have been going to the Great Trail festival basically since its beginning – and I think we’re over it. It’s a bit of a drive, which is fine, but it’s also gotten smaller, has the same vendors who attend all of the area “craft fairs”…I’m glad we went this year, but there’s other, better fairs that can take our money instead. The Great Geauga County Fair though – that’s always a favorite! It was so much fun to take Liam to see all of the animals and lights and people and it’ll be even more fun when he can really absorb what’s happening!
Celebrations: We also got to do lots of visiting with family and celebrating – especially Daddy’s 32nd birthday! We had two special guests at Daddy’s birthday party: my Uncle Tim and Aunt Juanita! (We took the first few pictures at the end of the night: Liam was super happy to meet everyone…just had had enough fun by then!) We also had an incredibly much needed date night sponsored by Shane’s mom and sister…I’m pretty sure we used the phrase “for the sake of our marriage” in the conversation about asking for a baby-sitter. The nine months leading up to our date night were so difficult and trying and wonderful and draining and emotional and frankly, hard on our marriage. I would assume that most new parents would say the same. We grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and took ourselves to some of the Madison-area wineries and took ourselves out of the new parent fog and had a really amazing evening. (Thanks Grammy & Auntie! …and I need to mention and record for posterity that plenty of people had volunteered to baby-sit on plenty of occasions – and we had been out – we were just generally nervous nellies about leaving our baby boy!)
Ok I think that’s it! We’re also wrapping up one phase of our lives because next month, Liam heads to daycare. I’m not sure how I feel about that, BUT, it’s time for Grammy to head back to Florida and time for our kid to play with other kids!