Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas in Charlotte

This Christmas was a huge event for us...our first Christmas ever spent in Charlotte and away from Michigan. We have been very excited about it, but of course sad to not be participating in traditions and with our families. That said, we had a really great Christmas and were glad to be home! Both of our girls were deemed healthy by Christmas and that was the biggest gift we could have asked for. My sister Vanessa also flew in from Vegas and spent a week with us which was a huge treat!!

Poor Auntie V arrived in Charlotte 4 hours early and I did not check my phone. So after a red eye flight, she spent the wee morning hours waiting for us to wake up and come get her from the airport (oops!). That was not a great way to start a trip, but I promise it got better. We spent most of our time at home playing, dancing, and baking with little trips of shopping in there and even a trip to see the singing bears uptown. We also were able to go to Next Level Church's Christmas Eve service, which we are sad we normally have to miss. Santa came and left a whole bunch of fun stuff for everyone and it was fun doing the Santa thing with Clare. Everytime someone asked her what she wanted for Christmas from Santa she would tell them "baby Jesus." It was very sweet and I love that she knows the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus' birthday, even if sometimes her stories get crossed :)

The Ho family came over on Christmas Day with their son, Ayden (Clare's little boyfriend and best buddy) to celebrate with us. It was such a blessing to have another family to have dinner with and just enjoy the day. We are so blessed that even far away from family we have friends that hold such a dear place in our hearts.

Christmas night Charlotte got a lot of snow dumped on it. Being from Michigan I really had no desire to see snow this Christmas, but hey it made a lot of people smile...including my 2 year old. She woke up and she asked immediately if she could play in it. Her and LD spent a lot of time playing, making snow angels and even sledding down our hill in her plastic pool...while inside poor Auntie V was trying desperately to figure out how she would get home. The snow delayed her trip by 2 days...too bad right?!?! We were thrilled to have her a few extra days. And her extra days meant she was able to spend a day with my parents.

The day after Christmas my parents arrived and it was seriously Christmas part 2! They didn't pull in til 2am, but we put all the presents under the tree and did it all again. Santa showed up AGAIN and we got very spoiled! We had 3 great days with them playing with our new toys and seeing the bears...again...nothing gets old for a 2 year old! This morning they headed out and we sent out the signal that Christmas was officially over for us. We cleaned up all the decorations, organized the toys, and most importantly dumped every peice of sugar from the house. SIGH..and it feels good!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our week of Christmas camp :)

We have survived!!! Clare, Elle and I have spent the last 14 days inside the walls of our home to get everyone healthy. I really wanted to rebuild their immune sytems given the holiday season and with so much junk going around I wanted to make sure we didn't catch something else. After week 1 I decided we needed some fuel to get through the week ahead. After a quick run to Michaels an the grocery store we were ready!!

During our week at home we completed a gingerbread village with only one casualty when Clare dropped a side of a house and Bella ate it up real quick. We also made a paper wreath, a Christmas tree, Rudolph and ornaments. We had hoped to make many more treats, but at least made some blueberry struesel and Chocolate mint cookies. We have lots and lots more cookies to make next week, but we were busy!

Vanessa flies in on Monday from Vegas to spend the week with us and we are ready for her to be here to celebrate the week ahead. We could not be more excited to be spending our first Christmas ever at HOME, in Charlotte. It will be different and we will be missing our family terribly, but we are blessed to have a relaxed holiday to celebrate our Savior's birth!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let me tell you about Elle....

Our sweet newest addition is a complete bundle of joy. She is super content and a happy little girl. But for whatever reason....she has had a few challenges in her short 7 weeks of life. In the beginning they were just little bumps in the road, but as sad as they have become it is quite comical that one little girl only being in the world for 7 weeks could already face so many issues...I'm praying God is getting them all out of the way now ;)

Here's her little life thus far in a nut shell...

Birth - smooth and easy. Slightest concern she may have jaundice, but no major concern.

1 week check up - Still slightly concerned about jaundice, so we had to have blood drawn from her heel to have it tested. Also her cord had already fallen off and her belly button was not fully dried, so the dr. used a stick of some sort to close it up (not fun!). Also, Elle's little pooper was not working properly so the doctor had to "stimulate" her, which she did not enjoy.

2 weeks - Elle developed a seriously awful case of baby acne...poor girl will always wonder why there are no pictures of her from weeks 2-4 of her little life

3 weeks- take a deep breath, we got a break...except Elle is still not going number 2, so we are having to stimulate her every 48 hours at home

4 weeks - We were in Michigan and Elle developed thrush, which Clare also had so I knew exactly what it was and thankfully the dr. just called in a prescription for us

5 weeks - We went for our 4 week check up a week late because of our trip home and it turns out Elle has breast milk jaundice (who knew there was such a thing) and is favoring the right side of her head so we have to do neck exercises with her at home so she won't have to wear a helmet down the road. Also, the Dr. is highly concerned about her little pooping issue that has not corrected itself, so he sends us directly to a GI Dr. to have her looked at. The GI Dr. puts her on 1 oz of apple juice a day (much to mine and LD's dislike as we still don't have Clare much juice at all).

6 and 7 weeks - Clare gets a cold and passes it to Elle...and so it begins. (Clare's little runny nose and cough turned into bronchitis and a double ear infection after already being cooped up inside for 7 days). Right after Clare starts her little cold we notice that Elle starts coughing and sneezing. One morning LD wakes me up and says he can hear Elle choking and we both get up and she has vomited in her bed and then it turned into gagging and choking and then vomiting for the next 3 nights. To make a long story short we had 3 doctors visits and 1 ER visit in the middle of the night...not a highlight in my mommy days. With Elle sleeping in her car seat so she is elevated and Clare upstairs coughing and coughing LD and I decided to sleep in shifts and thought we made it through the worst, until today when Elle developed her own ear infection and an eye infection. Our counter has no lie--about 15 bottles of medication on it, each room has a vaporizer, we have a nebulizer for Clare and our laundry room is constantly in business.

I keep telling Elle...its a good thing she is so dang cute and happy! I have never seen a baby so happy and smiling constantly! We are looking forward to week 8...praying for some relief :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving in Michigan

We did it!! We did it!! We honestly went on a 12 hour road trip with a 26 month old, 5 weeks old, and dog in a 5 seater can be done. I was very stressed out about this trip and I was very unprepared for it, but we pulled it off. The trip itself was pretty uneventful, though a lot of work! We stopped 3 times each way, every 3-4 hours to feed Elle and when we stopped L.D. was incredibly busy getting gas in the car, getting food for everyone, changing Clare's diaper and taking Bella out. Each stop lasted about an hour no matter how fast we moved. We made both trips in 12 hours and usualy its an 11 hour trip, so we did really well, but we did decide a bigger vehicle will be purchased very soon.

Now the vacation....or family traveling I should say...LD and I decided it was not a vacation by any means. Of course it did not go as planned, but it was a huge blessing in a lot of ways. Before leaving we knew hospice has been called in for LD's grandmother and the family had gathered, so we were prepared that she would pass at some point during our trip. LD was able to spend 2 days with her and with his family before she left this life on Saturday evening surrounded by her children and grandchildren. The next two days were spent at visitation and the funeral, of course not a fun time, but we got a lot of time with family we would not have otherwise seen and we were thankful to be a part of all that was taking place.

A funeral home is definetely not a place for a two year old, but we made the best of it. At one point Clare asked about grandma and I explained that she went to live with Jesus and she was resting peacefully. I, in my motherly wisdom and concern was trying so hard to explain it correctly without causing Clare any confusion and the next words out of her mouth were, "Want to touch her?" She tried over and over throughout the evening to "touch her" and we all had to laugh at her sweet innocence.

We did have a great Thanksgiving dinner with LD's family and spent a few days with my parents at their new home in the country, right next to a little pond. Clare caught her first fish with daddy and papa and had no fear as she held it up for a picture. We decorated Grammie's Christmas tree, had Christmas with cousins from both sides of the family and got to love on Auntie V who had flown in from Vegas. Elle's big highlight of our trip was the day before we left she showed off her first grin, followed by lots and lots more!!

This Thanksgiving we are thankful for God's perfect timing and for the blessings He is continually pouring over our family!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Praise report about Vanessa!

We are so thankful for a faithful God who continues to protect Vanessa and guide her as she fights this battle! Just wanted to share the news with you!!

Faithful Family and Friends,

Thank you barely seems like the appropriate words for the embarrassing amount of encouragement I've received from you over the past few weeks. I've been overwhelmed with care packages, encouragement, and unceasing prayers. After speaking at a Women's Breakfast a few weeks ago, I realized what an opportunity I've been given. It was after I finished speaking and sharing my heart with the women that I saw a miracle take place in the room before me as women shared with tears in their eyes that they too were fighting a battle. An amazing young woman in the room shared the same physical battle of cancer with me, yet I realized just how big the giants that each of us are up against on a daily basis truly are. Gathered around one another in prayer, I watched God take this challenge in my life and transform it into a platform to change the "what is" in our lives to the "possibility of what could be" in Christ. WOW - as I spoke the words I realized just how many moments I've been given as possibility!

I have never doubted the power of prayer, yet when I get to experience the fruits firsthand it always blows me away. This afternoon I received a phone call from sharing that my test results came back showing NO leukemia and NO cancer within my lymph nodes! What a faithful God! What this means moving forward is that we will continue with the steroid treatments I am currently on until my doctors appointment on December 14th to re-evaluate the progress and growth.

Thank you for your faithfulness to intercede on my behalf each and every day! I ask that as you pray for healing, that you would specifically pray for me to be a good steward of this opportunity and platform I've been given to shine the light into the lives of others!

With gratitude and love,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elle's newborn pictures

Our most amazing friend and photographer (and HUGE blessing to us!) Christine at Dimples and Curls Photography came over last week to get newborn pictures of Elle. I had no idea what went into a newborn photo shoot and I am amazed and the work that Christine and her mom Millie do! They came to our house and were there for 6 hours patiently waiting for Elle to fall into a deep enough sleep to position her in the ways they had in mind. They had a little heater so she wouldn't get cold, so many cute props and a sound machine to keep her sleeping. My mom and I watched in awe as they worked with her, rocking her head or patting her to keep her sleeping while they moved her. It is like watching art just to watch them work!!! Here are a few shots they are INCREDIBLE!!! I am so excited to see the rest of them!

We are so blessed that these two precious girls are our daughters!

Of course there are a few shots of Clare and a great "sisters" shot too!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Look a like sisters

A friend of mine recently sent me a picture of two brothers when they were both first born and their baby pictures looked identical. I wish I would have thought to take a similar picture of Elle to see how much her and Clare really look alike. I thought it was such a great idea so I found two pictures where they are the same age and they look just alike!! The funny thing is Clare doesn't look that much like her baby pictures...she was a chunky newborn with a round face and now she is a little peanut without much meat on her bones and its really changed the way she looks. But the two of them look just alike in their baby pics. See if you can tell who is who :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Elle's first week

I know I am not going to be nearly as good about blogging about Elle as I was with Clare, but I am going to try!! We have LOVED having Elle home with us. She has been such an easy, happy baby! I don't know if it comes from her being a second and us being more relaxed or with her just being a very content baby, but she has made this transition very easy for us thus far.

This week we have been blessed with meals from a few good friends, visitors coming to meet Elle and even a few outings. LD was home with us Monday and Tuesday and I think going back to work on Wednesday was a little harder for him than he expected. He has come home each night and lay with Elle on his chest while watching basketball (yes, unfortunately it is fantasy basketball time, which means there is ALWAYS a game on). We took Elle to her first week check up and she was up to 8lbs 13oz, which the doctor was happy about since when we left the hospital she was down to 8lb 10oz. She was a little yellow so they had to test her for jaundice and also do something to help her belly button heal since her cord had already fallen off. All of those little things made for a long not so fun day for Elle, but she is healthy so it was a good visit.

Our first big outing was taking Elle and Clare up to LD's office so he could show her off. It was my first time attempting to get showered myself, get both of the girls dressed, fed and get out of the house...and I still have my moms help. We didn't get to the office til 11 and I was a little overwhelmed by the effort it took to get there. We had a big surprise when we got there as LD's team had spoiled us with toys, clothes, blankets and wipes for Elle and a new baby doll for Clare. It was so incredibly thoughtful and Clare is so excited about her doll that cries ;) My mom treated us to Panera on the way home and we were all ready for a nap!!
Yesterday was a big day as our great friend Christine came over to take Elle's newborn pictures. Elle was not incredibly helpful as she was more awake than she has been since birth, but they got some awesome shots and I am SO excited to see them and show them off!

Life is good, we are blessed!! Elle is such a sweet addition to our family and Clare has been acting great in her new role as big sister!! Papa (my dad) comes on Monday and will stay with my mom til Thursday, then we switch grandparents and LD's parents head into town. I am So thankful to have help as long as I can! I'm sure in the weeks to come my posts may not be so "up" as I adjust to life with two little girls!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Elle Adair Jackson

She is here!!! Our sweet little girl has arrived!! Thursday, October 21st at 7am I was induced. It was a picture perfect labor and delivery...seriously, that is the way to have a baby! For those who want a little more detail, the doctor broke my water at 8am, I started on pitocin at 8am as well, contractions started and by 1030 I had my wonderful epidural. From 1030 til 1245 I caught up on some celebrity gossip with my magazines, LD planned his picks for fantasy basketball and we just relaxed. At 1pm I told them I felt like it was time and we waited for the doctor to show up at 135 she had arrived. I could not have asked for any better of a day!

Elle was 9lbs 5oz and 22 inches long. No one was expecting her to be so big, especially not the doctor! She is absolutely beautiful and looks a lot like her big sister!

For everyone who has 1 child, you must have a second!! It is so much easier in delivery and recovery. I couldn't believe how much calmer LD and I have both been just knowing what was coming and what to expect. That said we are definetely in the exhaustion phase. Night 1 at home, our sweet Elle was very very hungry and up all night long...and 8am came quickly and Clare was not short on energy. I am so very thankful that my mom is here and will be until Nov. 3rd and that LD's mom was able to come for a short visit.

Clare has done incredibly well in her new role as big sister. She loves Elle so much and at times that is our biggest problem. She is always wanting to "hold baby sister", kiss her, give her toys, etc. We have to be very close by at all times, but I am so thankful this is the way she has decided to approach this new life change.

Thank you so much for all of the sweet well wishes and congrats! We are enjoying very lazy days at home and getting into our new routine in our family of 4 with two sweet little girls!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

With a heavy heart and faithful prayers

This is a big week in the life of my family. We have been waiting for more than just this sweet little baby to arrive. We have also been waiting in anticipation for my sister Vanessa's test results.

Some of you may know my younger sister Vanessa was diagnosed with a very rare form of skin cancer called Mycosis Fungoides as an 8 year old. Through prayer she was miraculously healed as we know only our God can do. We all moved on from that part of life without spending too much time looking back. About 8 weeks ago Vanessa had found similar spots on her stomach and walked back into the office of a cancer specialist to be tested. She has shown incredible strength that we know only God can give and has walked fearlessly through this process knowing God has an incredible plan for her life and that His promises are true...always! Below is an email that she sent out to friends and family today and I asked her if I could post this on my blog to share with my friends and ask you to join us in prayer for her.

Our family handles this situation differently than most in the world because of the relationship we have with our God and knowing His love for us. Vanessa is an inspiration to me that even as she lives in Las Vegas, far away from her family in the middle of "crisis" the love of her heavenly Father rings loud and true each and every day of her life!

Thank you for your prayers!

Friends and Family,
I want to thank you once again for your faithfulness in prayer, encouragement and love over the past week as we've waited in anticipation to hear from my doctor.

It is with an authentic faith in all that is to come that my results came back today indicating that my childhood cancer has returned. My doctor is out of town until next Monday however I had the opportunity to speak with those testing in the lab that shared that I have been diagnosed with Mycosis Fungoides. Without the ability to give further information without a doctor, they have scheduled me at the Skin and Cancer Center first thing Monday morning (10am PST) to discuss all of the details from treatment, growth and next steps from my doctor.

I called my family and shared with them the same thing I will share with you - God has called us on an adventure. And I don't believe He has called me to go alone, but for all of us to go together to experience a new side of His character than ever before! When I was 8 years old I learned the faithfulness and power of a God who heals! That God has not changed and continues to be just as faithful and just as powerful. I shared with you when I first started this journey that I may not know when, where or why...but I know my God! And that has not changed either...I know my God!

It's with that in which I invite each of you on an amazing adventure! An adventure to watch God at work within the life of a 24 year old girl who is ready to experience what the blind man experienced when he was healed, what Moses experienced when the Red Sea parted, and what Peter experienced when he walked on water- ready to experience what happens when our faith does not grow weary and tired, but instead moves forward expectant of a miracle!

Chasing Him,

Waiting, waiting on our sweet little girl...

Oh how familiar this feeling is. Just a little over two years ago I had multiple posts on waiting for the arrival of Clare. I was SURE this time would be so different because my body "already knew what to do." Nope...I think somehow my body missed the signal on how to put itself into labor. I am now 39 weeks and 3 days, and thankfully the end is in sight. Since Clare was a 9lb baby and 7 days late I will be induced on Thursday...just two more days!!! I was certain that we would not make it to the induction date, and even though I convince everyone each night that tonight is the night...I wake up in the morning realizing it will most likely be Thursday.

My mom came in last Tuesday, she has already been here a week and we have all been loving it!! We have had lots of fun adventures in our waiting week! We have had a diaper shower for little sister, organized ridiculous amounts of clothing, went to see Toy Story 3 for Clare's first ever time in the movies, eaten at yummy restaurants, added a few scarecrows to our autumn decorated home and done lots of playing!

Below are a few pictures from our adventures. Two awesome friends offered to throw a diaper shower for "little sister" as we've all been calling her and I cannot tell you what a huge blessing it will be to have a huge stash of diapers since we currently have two in them. It was such a sweet and fun time to celebrate this little girl with some great friends from our church!

My mom and I had gone to see "Eat, Pray, Love" (which I was not a huge fan of) on Sunday evening and saw that Toy Story 3 was playing at the dollar theater. I suggested taking Clare which was a huge experiment for so many was 3D so she had to wear glasses, she's never been to a theater, and she's never watched a full length movie. But with it being the dollar theater I didn't feel bad if we needed to leave an hour into it. Let me tell you, this girl is going to LOVE going to the movies! She wore her glasses the whole time and did not move an inch. She kept talking really loud in the beginning about Buzz and Woody, but once we got going she didn't say a word. I was truly impressed with my normal wiggle worm 2 year old!

As most of you know we keep our names a secret. Well, with Clare we had her name from the day I got pregnant and never looked back. It has not been the same with this little girl. We had one we were pretty set on, but not fully committed to. Two nights ago I freaked out a little and decided there was no way we could name her that. I just all of a sudden did not like it at all and I was sure I was going to go into labor without a name for our little girl!!! So at 11:30 on Sunday night LD and I both sat in bed with the baby name book. We still do not have a name...but we are working on it. This is SOO not like me!!! Say a prayer God reveals a name to us!

We have had fun, we are organized, house is cleaned, fridge is stocked, everything is in place...we just need our sweet little punkin to arrive!! So excited to share pics of our sweet little girl!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Clare!!

I am sure every year, every parent says it is so hard to believe their child is such and such age. But I'm also sure every year it is just as astonishing! I cannot believe Clare is TWO!!

We had an extremely fun filled weekend celebrating her birthday! Friday night we headed to Red Robin and had dinner as a family. Of course they brought over a huge sundae and sang to her. LD and I both were ready for her to start crying because her face was so serious, but she just took it all in...and loved her special dessert!

Saturday we went with our friends Min, Kimmy and Ayden to Lazy 5 Ranch to celebrate. Ayden is just two months younger than Clare and it is such a blessing for her to have a friend who is doing the exact same things she is! It was SO hot out, but everyone had a blast. As soon as we got onto the wagon a big elk stuck his head under Clare's feet and licked her arm and that was the end of feeding the animals for Clare. She loved the wagon ride and pointing to the animals, but she did not like when they were all up close to her. For our out of state fam and friends, Lazy 5 Ranch is this huge ranch where you can take a wagon ride or ride a car through where the animals live. You actually get to feet bison, elk, giraffes, ostrich, water baffalo...I can't even remember what else, right out of your hand. It's crazy! We were 2 feet from some beautiful zebras but you aren't supposed to feed them because they bite and I was a little freaked out about them myself! After that big adventure and some serious naps Clare opened all of her presents and she had a bunch that had come in the mail from our wonderful family and friends. We are so blessed that our friends and family want to celebrate our daughter even though we live far away and cannot celebrate with them! LD and I got Clare a kitchen and the rest of the day was spent playing with toys, and more toys, and more toys!

We are now less than 4 weeks from bringing home another baby girl!! My mom will be here Oct. 14th and they will induce me by my due date (Oct 23rd) since Clare was so big and so late :) I feel like we are ready and I have no doubt our big two year old will make an amazing big sister!!

Happy Birthday Clare!! We love you!!