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Celebrating our daycare transition


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Dominic started at the new daycare this week. We celebrated.

Nathan and I spent much of the previous weekend contemplating the opportunity to enroll Dom in this new daycare. As mentioned, we had been on the waiting list for about two years. It was a comparison of two good things: his current daycare and this new option. I’ve found when I am praying for a little help in deciding between two good options, I often get the answer: “yeah, that’d be good.”

Can you imagine if that was the answer you always gave your spouse?

“Honey, where do you want to go and eat? Crown Burger or Costa Vida?”

“Yeah, that’d be good.”

“Hey babe, do you want to go to Smith’s or Rancho Market for groceries?”

“Yeah, that’d be good.”

“Sweetheart, would you like to go sky diving or free climbing with me?”

“yeah, that’d be good.”

That seems like a relationship recipe for success.

In the end, we chose the new daycare for various good reasons and reluctantly told the teachers and director at his old daycare goodbye. This entailed a goodbye party with his class (I think they decorated cupcakes together or something), a parting gift from teachers with loving notes written to Dom, and farewell tears.

Dom has done great at his new daycare, even though it’s only been a day and a half. He hasn’t cried when I’ve said goodbye, he was devouring his lunch of chicken parmesan and pasta on Monday, and he slept for two hours on his little cot. His new teachers told me that he’s “lovely”. That’s their word choice. They wrote it on his daily report. I wonder how lovely the other kids are.

Cousin Bamble (and the rest of my sister’s fam) came over for a little party Monday night. Let’s pretend it was a successful-daycare-transition celebration. Next time I will get balloons and a cake with a carefully cursived message: “Congrats on surviving one of the first of many, many changes in your life, little man.” We celebrate the effort and the journey, right?

The BBQ was excellent. Nathan cooked ribs all day, we devoured corn-on-the-cob and fresh fruit, and we topped it off with a Mern-made cake for dessert. You should be jealous of our bourgeois swimming pool in our backyard, filled with fresh, artesian-well water.

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Bamble was sure to show us, through expression, how excellent the party is that Dom does throw.

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Happy Birthday Natalie… And Gwen!


gwenGwen was born today. Gwen is Natalie’s newest great niece! Maren and Dustin are the happy, proud parents and C will be the funniest big brother, I’m sure!

Today is also Natalie’s birthday. She would have been 56 years old.

Nathan and I took Dom to Olive Garden for dinner tonight because soup seemed appropriate on a chilly night. While there, Grandma DeeDee called to ask about any updates on Maren and her baby. I appreciated having the time to talk to her and ask her how her day was. As she always is, she was honest and told me that she was sad today. It was her daughter’s birthday and she thought about that all day as she washed her hair, went to the credit union and then tried to buy stationary at Walgreen’s but apparently they didn’t have any.

After Olive Garden, we dropped off some food for Dustin at the hospital. Maren was just barely on the epidural and it was just before 8:00 pm. Then we took Dom home to bed.

Shortly before 9:00 pm, we were watching Modern Family and searching for rental homes online when the text came in from Dad that Gwen was born!

We stopped in to visit a short time later after Dad came over to sit at the house while Dom slept.

She’s so tiny. It’s amazing how quickly you forget the small size of newborns. And yet, she has these big lips! I can’t even imagine what her personality will be like, but I think perhaps she might be like her great Aunt Natalie as they share birthdays. That would make her incredibly thoughtful, silly, stylish, hard-working, and full of smiles. People will love being around her!

Happy birthday to you Gwen. And to you, Natalie. You will always be missed.

A Visit With Auntie N


Yesterday evening, Nathan was at class until a little after 9:00 p.m. so Dominic and I were on our own. We went on an outing together. We went to visit Aunt Natalie, our Auntie N.

The problem, though, was that she wasn’t really there. When we first arrived, a friend of hers was just inside the door and told us that she was sleeping. We talked with this friend (sorry, I forgot her name) for a while and then went in to see Nat before we left. As we went in, she opened her eyes. She was staring somewhere, but it wasn’t anywhere in the room. It seemed that her spirit wasn’t really there. I looked into her eyes and didn’t see my Aunt Natalie. She wasn’t smiling so clearly, it wasn’t really her.

She mumbled a few things that I couldn’t understand and neither could her friend. Then her friend asked her, “Did you see the baby?”

She turned to the side, looked at Dominic and said, “Hi, Dom.” Then she stared off again. Eventually, she asked for something. After having her repeat it a couple of times, I understood that she wanted the blinds opened, so I pulled them open and the sun brightened her room. She rolled to her side, facing the windows, and closed her eyes again.

I knew that I already missed Nat. I knew that wasn’t really her in that body anymore. I wondered what it was like to already by in limbo because tumors have taken away the desire to be physically connected to her body and because the medicine must numb things as well.

I also knew that I would forever be glad that Dom and I could make that visit last night. He won’t remember it, but I will. He won’t remember her, but I will.

So I will teach him about her and how she always looked out for me and took care of me.

I will tell him about what happened when he wasn’t even a month old yet. I was at home on a Sunday evening waiting for Nathan so that we could go to dinner at my parents. We would be late and I didn’t know how late because I didn’t know when Nathan would come home from church meetings. And then I talked to Natalie on the phone. She was at my parents for dinner as well. She didn’t usually go to Sunday dinners, but I suppose that she wanted to this time because she had just found out that she had cancer. I couldn’t even imagine what she was dealing with emotionally, but she was more worried about me.

I didn’t want to admit it to anybody (let alone put it on the blog, even now after I’ve already been through it), but I was in a dark place and had post-partum depression. I had this beautiful little boy and I was so very sad so much of the time. And she knew. We were only talking on the phone, but she instantly heard it in my voice and knew exactly what to do. She told me to get in the car and come over. Nathan could come later. She knew that being home with just a newborn, watching the clock, and waiting, was not where I should be. That instead, I should be surrounded by family. She knew.

The next week, she called to check on me. She was dealing with doctor’s appointments and finding out that there was so much cancer in her body that they would tell her she had six months left. And yet she was checking on me. She had also told my cousin, Laura, and my Aunt Annabel because she knew my sister and Mom were already checking on me, but wanted plenty of support. Because of her, I was able to admit that I should call up my doctor. I had an appointment. We could take care of this depression and I could better take care of Dom and be a happier wife for Nathan. Nat helped me be happier for my family.

I will tell Dom about how Nat has always taken care of me like that. About how she knew I was struggling with money in college and so she came up with “work” for me by having me help her with computer issues. She kept track of the time I spent helping her and paid me for it. I tried to refuse, but she wouldn’t let me. She made her living as a violinist so I knew she wasn’t rich, but she was still more concerned about her “starving-student” niece than her own cash flow.

I will tell Dom about how she would commiserate with me about the times when I couldn’t stand living in a condo with so much neighbor noise. About how she spent hours with me on several occasions organizing my life to fit into a small home. About how she was always there to talk to about dating and the single life. About how she was very straightforward with me about depression and other emotional struggles for both her and us, her family members.

I will definitely tell Dom about when she lived in Palo Alto and invited Maren, Laura and I to visit her for New Year’s. Maren and Laura were freshmen in college and I was a sophomore. We borrowed the Suburban from my Dad (because none of us really owned a reliable car back then) and drove out to San Francisco. We slept on the floor in her living room on air mattresses she’d purchased just for our visit. Somehow, we were locked out once and she had me break in through her kitchen window (which I don’t remember very well now how I quite managed, but it worked). We experienced “the coldest day of our lives” as she warned us when we went out on the ocean in a ski boat to look for whales early one morning. We put on all the layers that we had packed and eventually Laura and Maren were sweating buckets and had to take off five or six layers. We didn’t see any whales, but we did see porpoises and man o’ wars. We celebrated New Years at some friend of hers from her ward and forgot to countdown until midnight. She was too concerned that if we went into the city to celebrate, it wouldn’t be safe. We did ride the train into San Francisco on our own one day while she was working. We met interesting friends. We rode the trolley; we took pictures; we spent a little money; we laughed the whole time. Then we went back to her condo and told her our stories. We still laugh about things from that trip, especially the coldest day of our lives.

And I will tell Dom that I always knew that Natalie loved me. She didn’t marry nor have her own children. She didn’t feel like another Mom to me though, but more like the big sister I didn’t actually have.

When we visited her yesterday, my big sister didn’t look or act like my big sister. It seemed that her spirit may have already started moving on. And I already miss that spirit, but when I saw the body it was leaving, I knew that this would be a release for her. Cancer is awful.

And I’m glad that I have this picture of Natalie and Dominic from an afternoon sitting on the backporch at Maren’s. Grandma DeeDee also joined us while Campbell played in the sandbox, making Dominic giggle and giggle. Nat took a video of his giggling on her cell phone. I didn’t get a copy so I will have to count on my memory to recall it. We were all very happy. We were all smiling. Natalie has a beautiful smile.

The Babies In The Pool Go Kick, Kick, Kick


Taanya reminded me that it had been a while since I posted anything. I am TERRIBLY sorry. Please forgive me. Here is a video in an attempt to appease you. This is from Good Friday when Nathan had time off for spring break and Dustin had the day off as well so the dads took the cousins swimming while Maren and I sat on the sidelines. Do you want to come swimming with us?

Conference Weekend Cabin Contentment


We have officially taken our first trip with Dominic. At the wise age of 4 and a half months, he has now slept somewhere other than the hospital or his home. We spent a night at my parent’s cabin in Midway with some family. That night was a bit of a disaster.

Little man went to sleep at 8:00 pm.

I left the bedroom door open (Dom’s pack ‘n play was set up in the walk-in closet), and went to sit in the family room with Maren and Laina. The husbands were not home yet from the Priesthood session of General Conference.

After about an hour, a baby was crying. All three moms looked at each other with bated breath. Who’s kid was crying? “It’s mine,” I said. Dom had woken up. It was 9:00 pm. After popping a binkie in his mouth, he seemed to settle down and go back to sleep. Phew, I thought. I joined the women on the couch.

The boys got home with food (more on that below) and we started eating until there was more crying. It was Dom again. It was around 10:00 pm now. Nathan went in and got him back to sleep. Eventually, we went into the bedroom, collapsed on the king size bed that was the creakiest thing I have ever encountered, and went to sleep.

There it was again: Dom crying. It was around 1:00 am. I got up and nursed him. He had a hard time, though, due to his stuffy nose. I thought I had him back to sleep and put him back into the closet. I was wrong. For the next three hours, Nathan and I made attempts to get him back to sleep. I started to cry in frustration so Nathan took him out to the living room so that I could sleep for a bit. Then Dom finally fell asleep. Sleeping on his side, he could actually breath through his stuffy nose. Nathan put him in the pack ‘n play and we went back to sleep.

Dom woke up at 5:30 crying. I nursed him again and he went back to sleep.

He woke up for the day around 7:00 am. I felt INVIGORATED.

Okay, so the night was a disaster, but the other part of the weekend was pretty fabulous. We drove up Saturday morning and Dom slept the entire 40-minute drive. We met up with Thane, Laina, Hobbes and Alice who had come up the night before and now had the TVs on, watching General Conference. We joined them sitting on the squeaky king-size bed, attempting to listen to the speakers, but paying more attention to the children. Eventually, Maren, Dustin and Campbell joined us as well.

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Mick, Tracy, Annie, Emma, Abe, Jane and Kate came up late Saturday afternoon, but not to the cabin. They were staying in a little suite (courtesy of Opa) at Zermatt Resort. We took advantage of this by going to the pool. In case you can’t tell, it was steamy by the hot tub and fogged up my camera’s lens. All of the kids enjoyed their swim. Cousins like swimming. And clearly, Maren and Campbell couldn’t care less about the “wait 30 minutes after eating to swim” rule. I bet Michael Phelps doesn’t wait to get in the pool after eating. Just saying.

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Remember how I told you that I would expound upon the food that the men brought home after the priesthood session? Good. This is where I am going to expound. The guys brought back Mexican food. It was A LOT of food. We needed to take a picture of it all, right? I climbed up on one of the recliners and told people to say cheese. Good job, Maren.

After we finished all of the food, we had to take “fat” pictures, right? RIGHT! I am surprised that Dom didn’t wake up from the laughing. Everything’s so much funnier when you’re sleep deprived and filled up on so-so Mexican food.

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When we returned home from the cabin, the bag filled with Dom’s toys and books was left on the floor in our front room. I asked Pogi if he would please unpack it. He didn’t do a very good job of putting ANYTHING away. One day, perhaps, I will get that cat to do something USEFUL.

A Couple of Firsts


Friday was a day of some firsts for Dom. Imagine that: Dom did some things for the first time. Wow. He’s four months old and that boy has LIVED.

Okay, so many of the things that he does each day are firsts. And it’s the best, as his mom, to experience those with him. When it’s your own kid, it’s amazing to you: LOOK HE’S EATING HIS HANDS! YAY, DOM, YOU YOU’RE DROOLING ALL OVER!

The best.

Our two firsts for him on Friday were swimming lessons and hiking. Gotta start them young on the path to healthy living!

dom_swimSwimming lessons took place during my lunch break. I picked Dom up from daycare and headed over to Holladay where they have a nice indoor pool that they keep around 90 degrees. After checking in, we took a lovely tour which ended in the women’s changing room where Dom put on two swim diapers. I took a picture of course because he has the CUTEST swim diapers. We love buying reusable and we found these online at honest.com. I am a fan. Then we picked up some cute swim trunks at Old Navy. Took a picture, of course. And now we’re all set for class.

Side note: they had one more opening for the class so I called Maren and she grabbed Campbie Joe from his crib and hustled their bustles over to join us. Yay for swimming cousins.

I wondered how the infant swimming class would go. Dom loves baths, but this is a different story. He did great. He went under water several times, no tears. He floated on his back (me holding him up) and was relaxed. By the end of class, he enjoyed resting his head on my shoulder, floating around on his back, and sucking on his hands. He’s going to be my little fish.

We’ve had some gorgeous weather lately (72 degrees the other day), which means we’re due for another storm. There’s snow in the forecast tomorrow. Thank you, Utah.

I wanted to get outside while we still had the chance so Friday evening, Nathan and I picked up Dom from daycare (he went back after swimming and I went back to work), and drove up the canyon. We went for a nice hike up Millcreek. Nathan and I took turns carrying Dom and trying not to slip on the sections that had packed-down snow. We met plenty of folks with their dogs and even chatted briefly with a woman who flew to Nepal to get her two dogs.

Dom took his evening nap while I was carrying him so he missed the view part way up the trail where we decided it was time to turn around. It was a good family outing and we burned some calories before we stopped at Training Table for dinner to negate all our exercise with CHEESE fries. Hooray for Family time.

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Blessed


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Nathan blessed Dominic in church today and little man was very reverent. This time, I remembered to take pictures (unlike Christmas, but I suppose I blame that on being really sleepy after a very rough night). Mom and Dad Elkins are up here for the week for the holidays and to spend time with their new grandson. We love having plenty of family time and have been lucky enough to get that on both sides of our family this holiday. I am sure that I take for granted how fabulous my family and in-laws are. I am one lucky girl, but mostly I feel happy that Dominic will grow up with such amazing aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Hopefully we trick him into thinking that his parents are pretty amazing, too.

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A few thoughts on the day for my future reference:

I was worried this morning that I wouldn’t be able to “schedule” things correctly. Dominic nursed at 9:30 so that would mean he’d be hungry around 12:30 and the meeting started at 12:50. It’s funny, I suppose, the things that you worry about as a first-time mom. Maren came over a little after 11:00 so that I could jump in the shower while Dom took a nap, then he woke up around noon just as Mom and Dad Elkins arrived with Aunt Janeen. I nursed him while Mom helped get things together for me and then get Dom dressed in his little white outfit after he finished. By the time we got to church, he was a content little boy, which was superb because he’s been quite fussy this last week regardless of how well fed he is or diapers changed or well slept.

I was a little sad that some of my family wasn’t able to be there (because of sickness and being out of town), but the small circle of priesthood holders that stood next to Nathan were plenty and men that we love. Not every little boy gets to have both of his grandpa’s holding him for his blessing so that made me happy. After his blessing, Laura came up and sat next to me on the bench and held him, wrapped tightly, sleeping. Like I said, Dominic is blessed to come to an amazing family and because of a recent phone conversation, having my cousin Laura come and sit next to me for part of the meeting was quite appreciated.

After the blessing, for the sacrament meeting, we had several youth speakers and a “missionary farewell”, but they finished quite early so Brian, the first counselor, asked me to share my testimony. As I walked up to the podium, I was pretty nervous. I definitely rambled while I stood up there, but hopefully I shared a little bit of what I was thinking about this Christmas with becoming a mother. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary. I have such a new perspective of her now. We often focus so much on the baby Jesus at Christmas, which, of course, is the right thing to do as He is the Savior. But, I know now, really, so much more about the incredible role that Mary played and how difficult her calling was. Raising a child–raising your first child– is not easy. At least, it’s not for me. It hurts. It’s exhausting. It’s emotional. I am so thankful that I don’t do this alone. And now, I have so much more awe for Mary and her sacrifice to bear the Savior and raise him in righteousness–with Joseph’s help.

After the meeting, Mick and Tracy hosted for food. Great Grumma Campbell gave the opening prayer and we are all very happy to have her there after time spent in the hospital just after Thanksgiving this year. Really, it’s been a bit of a tough Thanksgiving-Christmas for family members with hospital trips, car accidents and a beloved aunt with a cancer diagnosis. It reminds me that we live in a very imperfect world and sometimes I wonder why we said yes to how difficult this would be. But then I can remember all of the positives that we have in this life as well. As difficult as it has been to be pregnant, bear a child, figure out how to nurse, rarely sleep, cry and feel frustrated or worried, it really is amazing just to look at Dominic and think, “wow, he’s mine.” I know that I’m the mom, but I think he’s mighty handsome. If we didn’t have the darkness, we wouldn’t realize how bright it is when in the light.