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Father's Day 2021

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Last year Bert and I bought these matching shirts for him and Joe for Father's Day. This year, Bert is big enough to wear it!


In the past year, Joe was told his son had a motor development delay, so Joe asked what he could do to help Bert. He was told Bert needed OT and PT, so Joe took him (and continues to take him). He learned from the therapists what he could do to help Bert at home, so he got what Bert needed to work with him. He got the orthotics, he went to the MRIs, he takes Bert to swim therapy class, and he encourages him every day. Joe has never once complained, felt sorry for himself, or acted too proud to have a son who needs extra help. He just does what needs to be done. It’s because Joe is humble, he’s kind, he’s hardworking, and he loves us a lot.

For Father’s Day this year, Joe got take out because his wife is expecting a baby (last week 🙄). He got no special trips or events or meals. But he acted like it was the best day ever. It’s not true, it wasn’t, but Joe is the best dad ever. Bert (and the other one) are so blessed God sent them to Joe. They will never know what it’s like to have anything but the most loving, giving, fun, adventurous, humble, helpful dad.

Father Jack

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Bert says several words that he associates with church: God, “cheech” (church), and Jesus. (I attribute this to divine intervention as well as the fact he was born on the feast day of Saint John Vianney and definitely not to anything Joe and I have done. 😂) Lately, though, when talking about “cheech” he has begun saying another word that sounds like “dack.” Honestly, it sounds like what he says for dog and duck, and I have been struggling to figure out how dogs or ducks fit on a list with God, church, and Jesus.

Until yesterday.

As he was reciting his litany: God, cheech, dack, Jesus, I finally realized … “dack” is “Father Jack” the  outstanding priest at our amazing church, Saint Monica. I love how Bert smiles when he knows we have FINALLY realized what it is he’s been trying to tell us all along: God, church, Father Jack, and Jesus. (In that order, I’ll add!)



Diaper Fairy

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

(I received a complimentary bag of Pampers Baby Dry diapers from Pampers US and Influenster in exchange for a fair and honest review. All views expressed are my own!)

A week or so ago, I turned to Joe and said, “So I guess we’re waiting for the diaper fairy to show up” because we were (still are!) expecting a newborn baby any moment and had not purchased one. single. diaper.

Turns out the joke was on me, as my mom showed up with a bag of Pampers size newborn and a couple days later I received a bag of Pampers Baby-Dry size 1 diapers in the mail. So I guess diaper fairies do exist?


For Bert’s daily wear, we buy the Members Mark diapers from Sam's Club. However, Bert, being the angel that he is, has been sleeping 10-12 hour stretches through the night for a long time now, and a regular diaper just can’t get the job done. For overnights, we turn to Pampers Baby Dry. They keep Bert totally dry all night long and prevent any wet pajama or bed sheet mishaps, which make for a more peaceful morning. We plan to have baby brother follow the same plan … when and if he ever gets here. 🙄

Oh, and the pic of Bert at 1 month old shows how well the diapers fit … and how not well his clothes fit since he was just so dang long! 😂


Gifts for Expectant Moms

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

My life can be boiled down to one main thing right now: waiting.

I feel like hanging a sign around my neck that says “I feel okay. Yes, I’m still pregnant. No, I don’t know when he’s coming.” 😂 What’s funny is that baby 2 isn’t even due till Monday, so I’m not even late! But Bert came at 39 weeks, 1 day, so this is officially the longest I’ve ever been pregnant.

While I’m waiting, I thought I’d write a little something about gifts for an expectant mom who is still in this late third trimester period of waiting. A year ago I wrote a piece on nine things new moms need at home, but today’s mini-list is specifically for moms whose babies aren’t here quite yet and who could desperately use a little pick-me-up.



Here’s my advice:

- A convenience bag. I didn’t even know this was a thing, but I happened to see one last month on Amazon. Essentially it’s a bag that holds everything a new mom would need for the hospital: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. ALL IN ONE BAG! Now she doesn’t have to assemble one herself. I got mine on Amazon for less than $20!

- Meals! Sure, it’s great and very much appreciated to take new moms meals after the baby is born, but my friend Lyndsey brought us a meal last weekend, and man did l appreciate it. My worst, most exhausted time of day is dinnertime to bed time, and not having to think about dinner is GREAT!

- A gift card for a haircut. If you know where mom likes to get her hair cut, get her a gift card! Who knows when she’ll have time to get her next cut after baby gets here, so giving her the gift of one now is priceless.

- A gift card for a pedicure. Not only does the water and relaxation feel amazing, but frequently mom’s feet are swollen both before and after pregnancy, and it can make her feel so much nicer to look at those puffy, swollen feet with some pretty polish. If she has a place she likes to go, perfect. If she doesn’t or you don’t know, research something with good reviews close to her house!

Moms, what would you add? 

The Meaning of "Brave"

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

I hear adults call children “brave” or “fearless” all the time when they easily want to do new things as little ones — things like jump into the pool, slide down a big slide, or swing on the swings.

I think it’s just as brave when a child listens to his or her own body and heart and is a bit more tentative at first to try something new.

Bert is an active child for sure, but it takes him a few exposures before he is comfortable trying something new like pools or slides or swings. It’s just his personality, the way God created him. And it’s a fine way to be. It doesn’t make him any less adventurous, brave, cool, or fun.

Parents of other children who bravely listen to their bodies that say “not yet” at first — your kids are brave too. How many of us as adults don’t listen to our own guts sometimes?

The Gift of Slowing Down

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Our world puts such an emphasis on speed. We want our question answered NOW, we want our drive-thru coffee NOW, and we better not have to wait more than .001 of a second for that webpage to load.

I am so guilty of this myself. Sometimes it is harmless (although patience is a virtue, and it’s one I need to cultivate), but I’ve recently noticed a GLARING place in my life where me wanting things on my schedule is not harmless; in fact, it is extremely harmful. And that is with Bert.

Bert is a toddler, as well as a developing walker, so needless to say he is not bound by any schedule. This means that when I ask him to walk to the car so we can head to the grocery store/library/church, in my head I mean WALK 👏🏻 TO 👏🏻 THE 👏🏻 CAR 👏🏻, but in Bert’s head this means “Collect two monster trucks, say bye to Jane Austen, say ‘car’ 15 times without actually heading there, get sidetracked by three things in the garage, watch the garage door go up, ask if Owen (his friend) is coming, happen to catch a glance of an airplane flying by ...” You get what I’m saying.

This happens any number of times in any number of situations throughout the day: going to the car, walking up the steps for a nap, heading to the kitchen to eat lunch. Bert is just strolling along living his life, while I am usually looking at the ceiling and whining some version of “BERT PLEASE JUST GOOOOOO.”

I’ve been doing this far longer than I care to admit before finally realizing the other day how bad I’ve gotten. I had to take a hard look at myself and ask myself why I am so bothered by Bert’s dilly-dallying and refusal to follow my time schedule (if you ask me) or enjoying a slow pace of life (if you ask him) — the answer was in the question.

Bert is not over here trying to make us late for the doctor. He is a new little person who is learning about and noticing things in the world for the first time. My responsibility is to leave us enough time to get where we need to go on time. And truthfully, how often do we really HAVE to be somewhere on time? Church, therapy, the doctor, sure, but those things are far less frequent than nap, lunch, or playing outside with a friend.

Bert is laid back, and he likes to say goodbye to Jane, take detours to kiss his trucks good night, and touch a few things in the garage on the way to the car. It’s frequently maddening to me — someone who just wants to GET. THINGS. DONE. NOW. — but for Bert, it’s who he is. It’s not a sign of disrespect, lack of caring, or some other negative thing. It’s him enjoying the wonder of a world that is so new and fun to him.

It is likely that, like the rest of us, he will one day experience the stress and anxiety of a fast-paced world where everything is NOW NOW NOW. But I don’t need to force that upon him at age not-quite-two by pressuring him to walk a little faster to the steps for nap time. Even more so, I don’t need to be the cause of his stress or anxiety because he senses I am upset with him but has no idea why. Instead, it is I who should learn from Bert and slow down a bit, maybe take a look at what is just so necessary about making sure you have a monster truck in each hand before getting into the car.

I think there is a beautiful secret there that he knows and has been trying to tell me. Bert, I’m listening now.




Proof of Mom

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

I’m bigger this pregnancy than last, I’ve always hated how my nose looks in profile, and is it just me or does everyone think their hair looks better in the mirror than it actually does?! 

But I recently read busytoddler talk about #proofofmom — about us moms getting in pictures and not just being behind the camera. Most pictures of Bert are him alone or him with Joe, and I’m usually the one taking them. It’s like I don’t even exist in the record of my own family. It has to stop. Joe took these two recently, and I treasure them both. 






Bert

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Our son Robert David has been hearing since the hour he was born about all the things that are “wrong” with him: as a newborn, he had the wrong body temperature, the wrong blood sugar level, the wrong amount of bilirubin in his body, the wrong amount of red blood cells in his blood, and the wrong hearing. As he grew, he learned that he was behind in sitting, crawling, transitioning, clapping, standing, cruising, talking, and walking. 

What we know about Bert is that he excels in areas that are not measured at doctors’ offices or on growth charts. Bert is funny, silly, kind, friendly, loving, and personable. He can signal a touchdown, fake sneeze, blow a kiss, and point out his Pap Pap in a picture. Bert loves to dance, look out an open window, and play outside. 

Bert was recently diagnosed with spastic diplegia, which is a common form of Cerebral Palsy. CP is a physical disability that affects movement. This means that he has increased muscle tone in his legs, making his leg muscles stiff. Consequently, his movements may appear stiff or awkward. Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain injury. As Bert’s physical therapist has said, his legs contain normal muscles that are receiving an abnormal message. Some children with CP have accompanying issues such as seizures, learning differences, and speech and language difficulties. We don’t yet know if Bert will experience any of those things. In most cases, CP is caused by a brain injury that occurs during pregnancy. We do not know what caused Bert’s CP, and it is likely we will never know. A wonderful thing is that CP is not degenerative, which means although his symptoms might manifest differently in the future, his brain cannot get worse. Another positive thing is that Bert’s neurologist has said that Bert is “bright and happy” and that he is “doing great.” 

Right now, Bert has no idea that he is different. All he knows is that he has “dinosaur shoes” (one foot in an SMO and one in an AFO) that will make him “strong like a dinosaur.” He knows that he and his best friend Asha both have stiff leg muscles and a hard time walking. He knows that he and his best friend Jane Austen move through the world in exactly the same way: with four limbs on the ground. (Although Bert is slowly learning to walk on his two legs!) 

While we don’t know what Cerebral Palsy means for Bert — every child who has CP presents in a different way, and it’s impossible for doctors to predict what life will be like for Bert 5, 10, 15 years from now — we know what it DOESN’T mean. It doesn’t mean that he will never go to Catholic school, play football, get married, or run in the backyard with his dogs. 

As Bert’s family and friends, here is what we need from you:

- Please do not speak about Bert’s future any differently. If you have always talked about Bert playing football for the Mountaineers, going skiing, or being an astronaut, please keep saying those things to him and about him. It’s not fair to limit the dreams of a child, especially one who is not yet two. There are lots of athletes, actors, and artists who have CP. 

- Please do not treat Bert any differently than you would if he didn’t have CP. Bert does not need extra toys or gifts, and he needs to learn manners and be lovingly disciplined. Treating him differently is not fair to him, to us, or, especially, to his not-yet-born baby brother. 

- If you have children or know children around Bert’s age, please start talking to them about children who aren’t the same as they are (if you haven’t already). Bert might not walk or run quite the same as his peers, and it would be great if he were surrounded by friends who didn’t care that he was different. There are a lot of great books for this — we’re still discovering them! —  but one we really like is called Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, which is about a giraffe who walks and dances differently than the other animals. We also like a book sent to Bert by his aunts Erin and Emma that is called The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be by Joanna Gaines.

- Don’t read everything on the internet. Many websites about CP are run by law firms that want to help parents sue their birth hospitals or doctors. If you want more information about Bert’s diagnosis, one good website is the Cerebral Palsy Foundation

Please pray for Bert. Of course, we’d love a healing miracle (we’re asking for the intercession of Blessed Fulton Sheen), but more importantly we just want Bert to have the best care and the best life. And pray for us, too. Not only do we need prayers to be the best parents we can be for Bert, but also, as you might imagine, it is a little bit scary to think of going back to the hospital to have another baby boy in a few short weeks. 

Thank you for being there for us, for asking about Bert, and for praying for us. Please don’t ever worry about saying the “right” thing — there really is no right thing. We just need you to truly listen and to care. We don’t need toxic positivity (“Everything will be okay! Don’t worry!”) or comparison statements (“You’re lucky it’s not worse!”). If you are a loved one who has a child or is expecting a child or is planning for a child, please don’t hide your child’s milestones from us. Your child sitting, walking, or talking doesn’t take anything from Bert, and we will celebrate your child’s accomplishments with you. 

We are blessed in so many ways: among many other things, we have wonderful family and friends, we have the knowledge and desire to care for Bert, we have the resources and support to help provide Bert with what he needs, we have wonderful doctors and therapists, Bert has a mother who is a teacher and knows other educators, and we have a close family member (Emma) who has a master’s degree in recreational therapy and knows exactly how to help Bert enjoy regular activities.

Our hope is that Bert’s life will be a testimony to — and a reminder of — the One who made lame men walk. 

We really appreciate all of you. Feel free to ask us any questions that you have.

Love,

Joe and Anna 

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. 
- Job 1:21

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has given me what I asked of Him. 
Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.
- 1 Samuel 1:27-28

Well Hey There!

A Midnight Society Christmas story club. A "Backlist Book Club." A holiday gift-giving guide.

These are just a few of the many, many (MANY) ideas I had sketched out, scheduled, and prepared to post on my blog this fall and winter. And then. 

And then ... I found out I was expecting a second baby. And I proceeded to spend most of November and December (and some of January) sick, sick, sick and just trying to survive the absolute bare minimums of my life. Needless to say, writing and following a blogging schedule quickly fell off the list. As sad as that made me, I realized that taking care of myself was the number one priority at that time, and that my blog ideas could easily transfer to the future. 

On top of expecting a new baby, we also recently received some news about our first baby, Bert, and that news brought with it a new list of things to think about and accomplish, so that has really been keeping me occupied over the past few months. I am preparing some words about that and will talk about it soon. 

Now, less than three weeks from my due date, I have finally found a few minutes to type this out and post it. In case there's anyone left out there, I wanted you to know why I've been gone, but that I'm not gone for good. I hope to "see" you soon! 





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