Friday, December 31, 2010

First Christmas among other firsts

Hannah's first Christmas was, in a lot of ways, perfect. She had a white Christmas in the great southern state of Georgia. We snuggled on Christmas morning, watching the joy and wonderment on her face as she tore the wrapping paper and banged on her presents. We had a great time visiting with family, through regrettably we did not get to see all of my family. It was fun seeing the looks on their faces as they remarked on how big Hannah has gotten in four months. She certainly has grown up.

Hannah decided that during her first Christmas she would try out all kinds of new skills. It's amazing to see her grow up right before our eyes. She has been trying to crawl for weeks now, but the first time she was able to get going really well was at my parent's house. And she loved the attention it brought her!
The day before Christmas Eve, as I sat Hannah up after nursing she looked right at Chris and squealed 'Dada'! We all stared at each other in disbelief and hugged, laughing at our big girl's first word. Since then, she's been rolling dadada around in her mouth, trying out her new found sounds. It's so funny.

We've been signing to Hannah for months now, trying to help her communicate with us to ease a little bit of the frustration she (and I) might feel. The day we left Georgia to come home to St. Louis, after I had just put Hannah in her car seat in order to get on the road (again), she looked at me and made the sign for milk. I completely interrupted my brother-in-law and yelled at Chris, 'She signed milk. She signed milk!' I was so excited. Chris didn't really believe me, but he couldn't deny her new trick when she signed milk again that night. She's been signing milk like crazy since then. I'm pretty sure she's got the idea that signing for milk means signing for mommy. Which is true, I guess. She gets cuddles from mommy and a full tummy when she does her new trick.

Along the lines of 'I'm not really complaining, but I kind of am', Hannah has gotten in her first teeth. They are super cute little things! Her first tooth came in on the bottom, and then another right next to it. Now, her top two teeth are coming in at the same time. She's also been struggling to cut her bottom incisor, which I know hurts a lot. Honestly, I feel like an idiot for not putting two and two together, but teething is terrible! I feel horrible for her, because I know her mouth hurts and she has no idea what to do with all that pain, but man.... oh man, sleep is a thing of the past. There were a few nights where she woke up screaming every 30-45 minutes. I wish I was exaggerating. The combination of traveling and being in new places at night, seeing new people during the day plus teething has reeked havoc on all our sleep. The night before Christmas (no pun intended) was one of the worst nights of sleep. I propped myself up in bed, cradling Hannah crying in my arms and have never felt so helpless in my life. "Merry Christmas, my darling", I whispered to her when she had finally calmed down and fell asleep.

And it was a very merry Christmas.

My favorite Athens drink (Jittery Joe's vanilla chai), and chips and salsa.
Chai and salsa, if you will. 

Christmas in our jammies.

Christmas morning, oh the excitement!

Dada and Hannah Mae.

She did a pretty good job unwrapping her presents. 

How did this get in here? 
My first try at my grandmama's homemade biscuits. Delicious.

This was my plate on Christmas. And I did eat it all. I made a happy plate and a very happy tummy.

8 months old!

A beautiful red bird came and visited us this Christmas. Red birds always fill my heart with peace and comfort, reminding me of Owen (there's a big back story to this). Every time I see one, I know that God is with me.

Our Christmas snow in Georgia. 

I hope everyone's Christmas was full of the peace of God and the light of His love.
Happy New Year everyone!! 2011 here we come!

Oh, and I just had to add this- Today, Hannah Mae has been in our arms for 35 weeks 3 days- that is, to the day, how long I carried her in my womb. The eight months she's been in our arms has flown by way faster than the excruciatingly long 35 weeks and 3 days I carried her. We're so so thankful for every day with her. 

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Hannah's sweet smiles lit up our little apartment more than the lights of our sparkling Christmas tree. She loved sitting under its bright lights, cooing and squealing in delight. Her first attempts at crawling were toward this beacon of light. 

This December has been the first in three years that did not begin and end with wonderings of 'will we ever have a living child to watch on their first Christmas?' 
December 2007 was marked by intense grief over Owen's death. He had been gone just shy of two months and the raw, excruciating pain was as constant as breathing. Thoughts of what would it be like to hold him on Christmas morning, how big would he be, and will I ever feel happy again plagued every thought I had.  December 2008 brought with it more pain. I was recovering from my third loss during pregnancy and though I was in no mood to celebrate, I went through the motions of the holiday. The deep, healing gift of grace was slowly beginning to soften my cold, hardened heart. 
December 2009 was full of hope and fear. A little girl named Hannah Mae was beginning to make herself known in our lives. I dared to hope and dream of life with a living child, a daughter. 

December 2010 has been beautiful and hard. And full of life; a life that three years ago, I could barely imagine. There were times during this Christmas that my mind drifted into a place that is hard to live in; a place that only exists in my grief-filled mind. 
Sitting in front of our Christmas tree for our annual photo, my mind played with the images of a family with four cuddled up on the floor, smiling for the camera. I was holding Hannah on my lap while a little boy of three leaned against me smiling. 
This December was marked with wonderings of 'what would it be like if there were none missing?' 

There was joy and fun and baby giggles filling our hearts this Christmas, but I would never gloss over the sadness and grief that still lives with us. There is a longing in our hearts for the missing ones in our family.

The longing, the grief, the sadness, the missing are all a part of the waiting. Waiting for Heaven, waiting for our long expected Jesus. Isn't that what Advent is all about?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Making year 2

Our Christmas tree has been up for a week now. It's beautiful and smells sublime. This is the third year we've gotten a real tree instead of putting up our artificial tree. I love our new tradition, though this year we almost didn't put up a tree at all. Chris was swamped with studying for finals and his vote was to forgo any and all Christmas decorations. He tried to talk me into it, but I just couldn't do it. I wanted Hannah's first Christmas to be full of stockings, a Christmas tree complete with shining lights and fun dangling ornaments, a manger scene and peppermint mochas. Okay, not that last one- that one was for me.

We found a Christmas tree lot that was being run by a church; it uses the profits to benefit its various ministries. I thought it was a well spent $20.

Hannah thinks so too. 
I have the most adorable video of her 'talking' to the Christmas tree. It warms my heart.

Excuse my pjs... I was still recovering from my cold.

Hannah and I have been watching all my favorite Christmas shows on DVD. This is us watching Rudolph. She thought it was great... for about 5 minutes, and then she was done.

Anybody ever notice how mean Santa is? I didn't remember him being so ugly to everyone. 
Hannah and I had to talk about choosing to love our friends and how sometimes it's hard to choose to love those who are mean to us. And also how when our friends aren't kind to us, it makes us sad, but that God is always loving and kind.
Oh, man... I didn't expect a lesson in being kind from watching Rudolph. :)

Eating bananas- her new favorite food. 

 Last weekend, we had snow! We only ventured out in it for about 5 minutes. It was way too cold, but Hannah was all bundled up in her snow suit, which she thought was so fun until the frigid air hit her face.

The ground and roads are still covered in snow, and so was our car until last night when Chris finally had to go out. Hannah and I opted to stay home. I am scared of driving in snow, but I know eventually I'll have to get over that and try.
I have better pictures of us in the snow, but I'm saving those for Christmas cards! I have a ton of gifts to grow points from Pampers and I'm finally redeeming them to get free cards from Shutterfly. Yay!

I tried to get a good picture of Hannah for our Christmas card, but she would have no part of it.

I am happy to report that Chris finished his first semester of seminary yesterday. We are both breathing a big sigh of relief today. He has a whole 20 days off!!! Hannah and I are overjoyed to be able to have him to ourselves for almost three weeks. We'll be spending some time in Georgia with family and friends, as well as relaxing here at home with each other. I have been looking forward to this since August. : ) Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to get down south with no trouble.

I wanted to end this post with asking for your prayers for a sweet blogging friend, Anna. She is pregnant with her  second rainbow baby, 'little brother', and just got admitted to the hospital for bed rest. She's almost 24 weeks (on Friday) and the doctors say her cerclage has pulled away at one spot. Please pray for her heart and that 'little brother' would stay healthy and be born many weeks from now. Her first goal is to make it to 28 weeks. In addition to prayers, could you also click over to her blog and leave a word of encouragement for her? 
Thanks, friends.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Short and sweet

When things hurt,
when life hurts a lot, it's hard to turn my face to the Lord and believe that he loves me.

But he does.

He loves me even when I choose to be angry and resentful. He loves me despite the sin in my heart. He loves me when I look away from his gentle and gracious face and doubt him.

And even if I can't quite see or feel or believe that he loves me in this instance, I can be thankful because the truth is.....
he loves me.