Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gingerbread Man!

The first week of December was our Gingerbread Man theme.  Cole and I made gingerbread cookies, then after his nap we went on a gingerbread scavenger hunt!

 When Cole woke up from his nap and came down to eat his cookie, he found crumbs and a note!
 The scavenger hunt took us all over the house :)
 Finally found those runaway gingerbread men!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Letters to Santa

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

One of my very favorite Christmas items is a little wooden advent calendar.  Each day of the calendar is a little drawer and in each drawer I put a slip of paper that has an activity for the day.  Some are crafts, some are books to read, some are treats, and some are activities for giving to others.  It's a perfect way to countdown to Christmas, to spread out our activities so we're not overwhelmed, and to remember to focus on others as well during the season of giving.

Earlier this month was our day to write to Santa - and boy, did Cole take this seriously! He worked so hard on his letter, painstakingly sounding out each word and writing it carefully.

 "Dear Santa, May I please have a pogo stick? Love, Cole"
This is such a magical age!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Victorian Christmas 2014

Christmastime here once again! And once again, our annual traditions commence, including the Jacksonville Victorian Christmas.

These handsome boys of mine :)
 This was the best year yet for the carolers! They were especially beautiful.
 Yummy hot cider while waiting for the horse-drawn wagon ride:
 After some anxious tears about going to see Santa (and NO we would never force him to see him or talk to him! big parenting pet peeve!), Cole decided he would just go look at him... and Santa was so patient and kind, Cole ended up telling him what he wanted (a pogo stick) and even posed for a photo! (the candy can might have had something to do with it...sweet bribes work like nobody's business with this little man!)
Christmas season - my favorite!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chase's Surgery

Chase came through his minor surgery with flying colors.  It was a LONG day at the hospital for us all though - I'm filled with an incredible amount of respect and empathy for parents of chronically ill children who have to be in the hospital all the time.  I can't imagine how stressful it must be for those families.
Chase, bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:00am at the hospital!

Pre-op checks:

This children's hospital was lovely.  They had bright colors without being overwhelming, fun cars and wheeled toys to ride in the hallways, and a playroom with tons of beautiful toys to play with and things to do.  Chase loved crawling around and getting some wiggles out - although he was less than impressed with trying to crawl in his hospital gown!
This kid loves steering wheels.
Post surgery - my poor drugged baby getting snuggles with Mama!
I held it together pretty well until they called one of us back to be with him in the post op room.  My tiny little baby, bundled up with an IV, overwhelmed in the big stretcher... he just looked so small and helpless. It's so difficult as a parent, to place your child in someone else's arms for safekeeping. Fortunately, he wasn't awake for a single second without one or both of us there, and holding him snug and warm in my arms while he transitioned out of anesthesia was good medicine for us both.
Discharged and on our way home.  Chase was pretty out of it for the rest of the day, and absolutely did not want me out of his sight, but three days later and he's crawling around and pulling himself up like he never had surgery at all.

Hopefully, we'll never have to have to be in a hospital like this again, but I'm so glad we had a positive experience!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


We've had a bit of an up and down few weeks here in the Figueroa household.  Chase is scheduled for a minor outpatient surgery next week at a children's hospital in Portland.

It's a very minor surgery, something the doctors perform all the time, but that doesn't lessen my anxiety about putting my tiny sweet baby under anesthesia.

I'm also anxious about the whole hospital experience in general.  I've had a few interactions with medical professionals as they interact with my kids, and there often seems to be one consistency: they treat children as if they are not people yet.  I hear things like, "Oh, he's just a baby, he won't even remember this." I see doctors and nurses touching him, moving his body without telling him, speaking about him as if he were incapable of knowing anything that was going on.

Yes, my son is a baby.

He is also a person.

He was born a person, with fully formed thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

While Chase cannot walk or talk yet, it doesn't mean he doesn't understand.  While he won't remember most of these experiences and interactions as a baby, it doesn't mean it won't shape him and mold him as a person.

And most of all - babies UNDERSTAND.  They have such higher ability to understand our language, spoken and body, than we give them credit for.  And all because we just don't treat them as real people.

Let me tell you a couple ways I know how babies understand.

When Chase was less than 24 hours old, he needed a foot prick to test his blood. I remember clearly with Cole the same procedure - done in a harsh office environment, with a nurse who treated it as a day-to-day, matter of fact situation.  She was sympathetic but detached, moving Cole's body as if he were a brain dead medical patient.  And Cole screamed, cried bloody murder.  It was heartbreaking to watch.  With Chase, however, our midwife performed the same procedure while he was in my arms nursing, wrapped warmly in a blanket.  She took the time to tell Chase about the poke, warned him when it was about to happen - and Chase DIDN'T cry. Not a whimper, not a tear.

Example two: The landing on our stairs has a large picture window looking out to the yard.  During the day, the sun streams right through the window.  Every time I took Chase up and down the stairs for a diaper or clothes change, I'd tell him, "It's going to be bright now, close your eyes!" And you know what? By the time he was three weeks old, when he heard me say that, he would close his eyes, even before the sunlight hit them.

There's a lot to be said for kids living up to the expectations we have for them. And if we treat our babies respectfully, the way we would like to be treated, so much confusion and frustration can be eliminated.

I always think about how I'd like to be treated if I were suddenly paralyzed, unable to move or talk.  I'd love for someone to tell me each medical procedure that was about to happen to me.  I'd want to be prepared for anything that was going on.

So my job when we're in the hospital with Chase is to advocate for him.  To treat him as a person and let him know exactly what is happening, each step, so there are as few stressful surprises as possible.  And while he won't remember any of it, I'll know that I did my job as a mama as best I could, caring for his body and his mind.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Tree!

For the fifth year in a row, we trekked out to Bob's Ucut to cut down our Christmas tree. 

Chase wore his special shirt for the occasion:

 It was a beautiful, sunny day!
 So much concentration:
 Mission accomplished!
Now, to decorate!
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