Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers. I hope this holiday season fills your heart with lots of beautiful memories with your family!

Enjoy every second. I know I will.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Little Lilah Loo

I love my Lilah Loo. I love my Lilah Loo. I love my Lilah, Lilah Loo! 

Lilah Loo, I love you. Lilah Loo, I looooove you! 

I love my Lilah Loo, I love my Lilah Loo, I love my Lilah! Lilah Loooo! 

I find it extremely hard to believe that our sweet little Lilah Loo is four years old. If you know Lilah, then you know there is something about Lilah. It doesn't take much for her to capture the hearts of those around her. Her personality and her laughter is so contagious. She is a go-getter for sure, and puts 200% into everything she does - willingly. Whether it is swimming, skating, skiing or riding a bike, she is very good at what she does.

Two weeks ago at skating lessons, the director of lessons came up to us and said if there was a "best skater" award, Lilah would receive it. They are just in shock that she is so aggressive with skating, so much more so than the other children in her class who are often whining and crying. At swimming lessons, she is swimming with boys that are TWICE the height of her and some twice her age, though she has no trouble pushing them aside and jumping in the pool first.

But yet...

I lay with her in bed at night, and she curls up next to me, and we sing the song above together. I look at her petite little feet, all curled up tight next to mine, and it brings me right back to when she was a tiny infant. She was our smallest, 6lbs at birth, and just so tiny. She is so big, but yet, she is still so little. I can still see her as our little Lilah Loo. At about 28lbs she is still little, but she packs a mean punch.

When she's tired, watch out. She can be nasty. Hitting, and generalized not-niceness. And when she's really tired, she doesn't have a problem curling up on the couch or in her bed and going to sleep. She is our best sleeper by far - you never hear from her. Ever. And if you do, you know something is really wrong. She has always been an "all or nothing" kind of kid.

Mairead lovin' on my belly at the start of my bed rest
I will always think back to my pregnancy with her and the terror that plagued us daily. We would wonder if Lilah would be born to us safe and sound. She was the baby I was scared that I would never hold in my arms - alive. At 19 weeks is when I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix and would need an emergent cerclage. I will never forget seeing my amniotic sac sitting inside of my cervix.....not exactly the way it was supposed to go. I remember being afraid to move thinking that if I moved too much something could happen. And when she was born at almost 37 weeks safe and sound, the feeling of relief just came over me, it was so emotional. It was probably one of the first "family" stressors we had for me and Kevin, but we came out stronger and closer than ever. We were both scared and were worried about how we would care for Mairead, who was just 15 months old, but we did it and we were lucky enough to end up with a healthy baby girl in the end.

Today we celebrated Lilah's birthday as a family. Kevin had a work holiday party, so he made some pulled pork and we all went into "daddy's work" together. We met his co-workers, enjoyed a good old Yankee swap and some nice family time, too. After that, Lilah opened her birthday gifts from her sisters and us, then we headed to Reston Town Center for a yummy dinner at Il Fornaio for pizza.

Mairead (19mos)  and newborn Lilah
Tonight, I said good night to Mairead and Clara before making my way into the birthday girls room. Once it was Lilah's turn, I got into bed with Lilah, picked her up, and cradled her in my arms. I looked at her and said "do you realize how tiny you used to be?" I told her about the night she was born, and how she loved to snuggle skin to skin on my chest underneath my  nightgown, which I still have and still brings me back to that night. It was a special moment for the both of us. I told her what an amazing baby she was and how she loved to nurse and snuggle. She says to me "Mommy? I will only get bigger and bigger, right? Not smaller and smaller..." - "That's right my love, you grow everyday, inside and out"

Happy Birthday to our sweet little Lilah...words cannot even describe the love that mommy and daddy have for you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It started BEFORE kids.

Yesterday morning our oldest dog, Phoebe was being super lovey. Phoebe was my first baby. She has been with me since she was 7.5 weeks old and has been with me through all sorts of ups and downs.
Mairead had asked why she was being so loving, and I said "because she loves her mamma". I explained to her that Phoebe was my first baby. She was with me when I bought my first house at 23, when I met daddy, when I got engaged with Daddy, when we got married, when our four babies were born - Phoebe was there. She has moved to Virginia, to Maine and back to Virginia again. She has been there.

I also told Mairead that Phoebe used to sleep with me in bed. That's right, I didn't follow any of the dog "experts" when they said don't let your dog sleep in bed with you. I guess nothing has changed, has it, whether it is with kids or dogs. Phoebe used to sleep on daddy's side of the bed. Mairead says "On daddy's pillow?" - Yes. On Daddy's pillow.

Before we had a bed full of kids, Phoebe used to jump up in bed once daddy left early for work. She'd go right back up to her pillow as if she was reclaiming her spot.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I guess I started co-sleeping with my babies well before I even had human children. It just felt right - even with a dog. I felt sad for Phoebe when she was a puppy. I was a stranger to her and this stranger had just taken her away from her brothers and sisters. She cried at night because she missed them and her home, and I felt guilty, so in my bed she came. And we both were happy.

And do you know what - at 8.5, Phoebe now sleeps in her own bed, just like a big girl :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Birthday Bash

Me and my big girls baking the cake

Lilah showing off the finished project
Yesterday we celebrated Lilah's 4th birthday. For the past few years, we have always celebrated her birthday the weekend before Christmas, but this year, we decided to do it a little differently!

A lot of our friends here in Virginia travel during the holidays, and sometimes having a party the weekend before Christmas is a little crazy, so we thought we'd do it a tad early.

And Lilah didn't have a problem with that. At all.

At first, Lilah wanted to have a gymnastics party, but when she realized she wouldn't be able to invite all of her friends, she changed her mind and wanted to have a party at home with all of her friends. So, that's what we did.

On Thursday, Lilah and I set out on a day together. She came with me to Callum's appointment and from there, we went shopping. We had lunch together at Panera and then she picked out a cute birthday dress at Hanna Andersson. It is a little thing I've done with the girls since they've been little. Every year for their birthday they get a day out with me, we go to lunch, pick out a new dress and buy all the decorations for the party. It's a lot of fun and a day we cherish together. After shopping, we brought Callum home for a nap, and we went back out for more shopping. Lilah picked out a flower cake pan, her "rainbow" colors, and then we headed to Target to buy her pinata and decorations.

That day, I watched Lilah with amazement. I just couldn't believe how much she has matured since we have moved to Virginia. She was just so good with me. She acted like a big girl and I enjoyed every second of our day together.

So yesterday, we prepared for her birthday party. We made her cake together and the big girls decorated their own little cake together, too. Lilah couldn't wait for her friends to get here, she asked and asked and asked "Mom. Are they driving here yet?" "Mom, are they in our neighborhood?" "Mom, are they in their car on the way?"- question after question.

When her friends arrived she was in heaven and I don't think I saw her for more than a few minutes!
Lilah and her piñata

The kids did the piñata. Dove for candy. And they were quiet. Ok...that's not all true. Some of us adults even took part in the piñata hitting :)
Yep. That's me. Swinging away.

While the kids played, the adults did, too. We enjoyed adult beverages and adult conversation. I have to say, birthdays are getting easier, as the parents can actually enjoy each other and not have to watch so closely over the kids.

We sang happy birthday and the look on Lilah's face was priceless. The look of happiness and excitement was just fulfilling.

Our neighbors stayed until past 10pm, but little Lilah couldn't stay awake any longer. She put on her new PJ's from her friends Lilly and Eaton and passed out on the couch!
Tired little girl... 

Overall, we had a fantastic party. We are so thankful for everyone who was able to join us and make Lilah's day so special for her!  And to our Maine friends.....we missed you terribly.

**Thanks to my friend for taking the photographs of us even though you use a Nikon, you did pretty well!

Friday, December 9, 2011

NICU Developmental Follow-Up

While Callum was in the NICU we met all sorts of people from doctors to nurses to social workers to lactation consultants. You name it. We met them.

When it became evident that Callum would be discharged home sooner than later, we met with a discharge planner. She sat down with us and discussed the things that had to happen in order for Callum to come home.

Once she went over everything she mentioned Callum was eligible for a special follow-up study. Because Callum was so critically ill and on an oscillating ventilator and nitric oxide, he qualified as one of these special babies. The only other babies who qualified were the ones born before the 29th week. To me, that was scary. Babies who are born before the 29th week are sick and tiny. At that point, it all hit me, Callum had just gone through something traumatic and everything that I had read up on Pulmonary Hypertension could be true. So, at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months, Callum would be seen by a developmental pediatrician to discuss his development.

Since we are no longer living in Maine, our pediatrician here thought it would be a good idea to call INOVA Fairfax Hospital for Children to discuss their follow up study. We weren't sure if he would be eligible for their program, but much to my surprise, he was.

Yesterday was his appointment. I was excited, yet nervous, but mostly very interested in their approach and where Callum would fall. I honestly haven't had many worries with his development, but I could have been missing something.

We entered this small room. He sat on my lap at a table in front of an occupational therapist. Alongside of us sat the developmental pediatrician and a student?. It was very stiff. She started with fine motor skills and watched him as he grabbed toys, switched toys from hand to hand, held multiple things amongst other things. I watched contently as my big boy accomplished the vast majority of these tasks without much coaxing.

After the fine motor skills assessment, we went down to the mat. We laid him down on his back, which he isn't a big fan of, and tried to coax him to roll over. I told them that he doesn't roll to his belly very often because his big sisters tend to do it for him, but he can do it. After that we got him to roll on his belly, he started scooting in circles, pushing up firmly on his arms and grabbing for toys. Not a second too soon did he figure out that he can propel himself forward - crawling....I knew it was close, days away actually, but he waited for his big debut to show them what he could do. They sat him up to watch his posture and how well he sat, and he did fabulously. As the end neared for him, his personality started to shine through with his flirtatious manners and squeals towards the individuals in the room.

Once the gross motor skills assessment was complete, we headed to the office of the developmental pediatrician. She discussed his development - absolutely appropriate for a 7 month old baby (he was 8 months old yesterday, but they use corrected age). On the developmental assessment sheet, I saw the words "high average" - she said at this time she sees him as completely appropriate and has seen no red flags for him. Of course, there is a long way to go to be sure there aren't any other delays like speech, behavior, etc, but for now, Callum is progressing like any other baby - normally.

And that for us is one of the best Christmas gifts a mom and dad could have...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Hunt for the Perfect Tree.

For the past two years we have cut down our own Christmas tree. In Maine, we went to a local family owned farm and cut our tree down. Why would we think it would be any different here in Virginia?

We woke up last Friday morning with a plan to go cut down our Christmas tree. We found a place, drove 30 minutes and.....

Left the farm without a tree.

Yeah. That's right. Without a tree.

We trudged through mud, Lilah got bitten by a deer tick and we examined many trees. The selection was just not what we were used to. Trees were growing crooked, and we just didn't find that perfect Ferrie Christmas tree.

But don't worry, this mamma had her camera, and we got some pics, and it looks as though we did get a tree. Clara did have tights on, but she had a run in with some mud, so away with the tights!

The poor girls were all confused as to why we got back in our car without a tree. But mommy. But daddy. I thought we were getting a Christmas tree??

Feeling guilty, we stopped at another local tree place up the street. We got out of the car. I grabbed my camera...just in case. Looked at trees.

$90. Trees.

Once again. We left the place without a tree. And even more disappointed girls.

We got home and realized that today was just not the day. We started to decorate the house a bit more with plans to try again tomorrow after skating lessons.

And that's what we did. 

After skating lessons, we thought we'd try a local place selling trees before we drove an hour to a family owned tree farm. We pulled into the parking lot, Kevin got out - without the kids to check prices - and decided that this was the place!

The kids got all excited, jumped out of the car and picked out a beautiful 2011 Ferrie Family Christmas tree! Not only did they get their tree, but they got to talk to Santa! This year both Mairead and Lilah really lit up. Their faces were priceless. Clara was a bit unsure and had to sit on Kevin's lap, but she was in awe, too.

We all helped put up and decorate the tree. The girls had a blast. Last year, Clara was just a little over one, so she hadn't a clue, but this year, she wanted to help just like her big sisters. Callum cheered the girls while they decorated the Christmas tree! Mairead and Lilah, of course, had a blast! They were so into it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Photos

My parents were able to come and spend Thanksgiving weekend with us! We had a blast together and the kids were so excited to see and spend time with them.
My parents and our crew


In the morning, we headed to Great Falls National Park for some sightseeing and a mid-morning hike. We brought the dogs along and got some exercise before we all indulged in some yummy Thanksgiving food. It was an absolutely beautiful day and we all had a really nice day together.

Thanksgiving hike @ Great Falls

Lilah & Phoebe

Nana & Callum

After we got back from our "hike", we got down to business and started cooking. My mom and I worked on the turkey - we decided to do it the "Biggest Loser" way by removing the skin and doing a rub directly on the meat. It was AWESOME...I made homemade applesauce, and we had mashed potatoes, butternut squash, and Kevin's homemade stuffing. It was all oh so good!
Our family

My first Turkey!

Our little turkey's 1st Turkey :)

All in all - a perfect day!