All the little things

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope each and every one of you enjoys today for what it is. A time to reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for.

I will be honest – this is the second time EVER that I have been away from my family for Thanksgiving. And I miss them. I miss my Dad and his amazing cook-by-science way of doing things. His grilled turkey simply cannot be beat. I miss my sister and her way with all the kids. She has a magic touch, and she makes them all so happy. But most of all, I miss my Mama. She taught me everything I need to know!! How to cook, how to pray, and most importantly  – how to be thankful for the little things! 😉

But as much as I miss my family, I am so thankful to be where I am this week. Anthony’s family has made me one of their own. And, as my Mama taught me how to be thankful for all the little things, being where Anthony is helps me notice them more and more.

I noticed today that the high 40’s, low 50’s weather doesn’t bother me anymore. In fact – I liked it! I’m loving that I can actually have a real conversation with my niece, Laila…At 2 and a half years old. She loves to talk. I can’t believe how well we have been rewarded with Abigail – keeping our faith has paid off BIG TIME. Do you know that she sleeps through the night? Yea – every night for about 2 weeks now. Even in a new environment. And she is so mellow. She doesn’t cry unless there is a reason. I love that.

I’m so excited about traditions, both old and new. An old tradition for me was “holiday outfits.” One grandmother bought our (my sister’s and my) Christmas outfits. The other grandmother bought us our Easter outfits. Every year until I was 18. It was something we looked forward to before every holiday. So, insert new tradition! Easter is an outfit I will be picking for Abigail every year. However, we alternate which family we are with each year for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. For example, last year we were with my family for Thanksgiving, and Anthony’s family for Christmas. This year, it is the opposite. So, each grandmother will be in charge of Abigail’s (and any siblings to follow) outfit for whatever holiday we spend with them that year. So Teta (Anthony’s Mom) picked out an adorable fall outfit this year. A pink long sleeve onsie covered by a brown corduroy jumper dress with matching pink flowers on it. So cute! And Nana (my Mama) picked out a precious red/white/black plaid dress with a little princess tulle and capped sleeves for Christmas. I’m in love with both outfits and I can’t tell you how happy and excited I am to pass this tradition on to my daughter. Yet another little thing to add my list of thankful things.

There are so many big things Anthony and I have to be thankful for this year. The most obvious of which is our daughter. She is here. She is alive. She is thriving and growing and an answer to so many prayers. She has no idea the huge impact her tiny little self has had on the world. But having so many big things to be thankful for can sometimes eclipse the little things. So today, while we are spending time with some family and thinking of others we can’t be with, I will be doing my best to remember all of the little things. There are so many and they are all so important!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Go enjoy all the little things!

-Jen

Advertisements

March of Dime’s Prematuraty Awareness Day

I can’t tell you how many statistics I’ve heard this year. So many numbers about odds and chances that it makes my head spin. Did you know that more than half a MILLION babies are born prematurely each year? 1 in 8 to be exact. Premature birth is also the #1 cause of death during the first month of life. Many babies born early and survive live with debilitating disabilities due to underdevelopment. But the worst statistic was the one I realized a few weeks ago, all on my own. While so many of you followed our story here, and rejoiced in our triumph, I want and need you all to know just how lucky we were. In the 3 months that we spent in the NICU, 4 micro-preemies were born. All 24 weeks gestation, all 1 pound, 8 oz or less. And out of the 4, only one survived. Just one. Abigail.

I seem to be such a stereotypical bandwagon supporter. I become an advocate for the groups that support the things that effect me most. But isn’t that always the way it should be? I mean, how do you choose which charities you donate to? I’m betting you choose the ones that help the groups that you can relate to. The ones that somehow effect you. For example: I have been a HUGE supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for years. The trigger for that support? When my grandmother passed away from breast cancer. My advocacy only strengthened when my Aunt, her sister, passed away from it last year.

Truth be told, I had heard of the “March of Dimes” foundation before. They are a force to be reckoned with. But I honestly had no clue what they were all about. While I knew they worked for kids, I thought they did work with the homeless. I never knew they were one of the world’s leaders in research that focused on preventing premature birth. But about 5 months ago, I figured it out. 😉

I was pointed in the direction of the March of Dimes website, “in case we needed financial help.” I’m proud to say that we didn’t. Between the savings we had and the amazing insurance Anthony’s company provided, we were fortunate enough to not need the assistance. But that didn’t stop me from visiting their website. It provided all sorts of great information. Ways to get involved, ways to donate, ways to become part of an entire community of people that understood us. It was amazing.

So there you have it – the sole reason for my jump onto the bandwagon. March of Dimes is all about finding ways to prevent premature birth, as well as researching how to better care for babies that are born early so they have a better chance at a normal life. I want to be a part of the movement that helps families going through what we went through. Better yet, I want to be part of the group that finds the answers so that no one will have to go through it again.

Today, Wednesday, November 17, 2010 is the 7th Annual Prematuraty Awareness Day. Both Abigail and I will be wearing Purple, the official March of Dimes color, to support the event. Even cooler, the Empire State Building will light up purple today to support the event, too!!! I highly encourage you to join us.

And for those who are able and so inclined, we have set up a fund with March of Dimes, in honor of Abigail. You can click here to see Abigail’s Purple Band, and donate to help families who have ridden the NICU roller coaster like we have. We can help save the lives of little angels born too early. Thank you all for your support!

Here are some pictures to show just how far we’ve come.

I can’t believe she is 5 and a half months old. She is amazing. Thank you all for following her amazing story.

-Jen

A Month Full of Thanks

Happy November everyone!!!

For those of you who have been following my blog before 2010, you will probably remember my ‘I am Thankful’ series last year. For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a blog post EVERY DAY in the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving. Each post was about something I was thankful for and why. It was so fun, and much more creative than one would think! I mean, I was thankful for all sorts of weird things! Socks, rolly chairs, popsicles, even the mail merge button in Word! But it was so worth the challenge and I wanted to do it again this year. I have A LOT to be thankful for.

BUT, the time to blog right now is…scarce.

I will admit to being one of those woman who thought, “Oh, I can do it while she sleeps.” I truly thought that I would be able to simply add Abigail to the list of my “To Do’s” and just keep chugging… yea right! When she sleeps, I sleep. And when she is awake (which is significantly longer than it used to be) we play! So getting things done just doesn’t happen like it used to. This crazy-efficient organizer has turned into a full-fledged, full-time Mom. And while I have ZERO qualms with that, it means that the documentation of our adventures has fallen by the wayside.

However, I made sure that today, while Abigail sleeps, I would be able to write something.

I will not be writing daily, as I had hoped. Instead I am going to make a list of many of the things I am thankful for by including one thing for each day of the month leading up to Thanksgiving. Since Thanksgiving is on the 25th this year so here is the list of at least 25 things I am thankful for this Holiday season. Enjoy!!!!

1) The most obvious: Abigail Jenifer Francis. There is no greater joy than having her in my life.

2) The second most obvious: Anthony – I still have THE BEST husband on the planet. Neener-Neener-Neener.

3) My Family – all of them. Every single, loud, crazy, loving, supportive, in-your-face, over the top, live-life-to-the-fullest, AMAZING one of them. Thanks for being there for us at rock bottom and helping to lift us back up. We love you.

4) The staff in the NICU at Los Robles hospital. You all literally saved Abigail’s life. Therefore, you saved mine. We will forever be in your debt, and we love you SO MUCH. I am so thankful for your compassion and your expertise.

5) My parents: for being my parents when I needed parents and for being my friends when I needed friends. I love you both.

6) My sister: There is no greater friend than one who can’t ever get away from you! Muahhaha! (I love you more than you know, Bug!)

7) My friends. You know who you are. And you know why I love you. I am thankful to have such a strong support system – couldn’t have come this far without you.

8 ) My In-Laws: Yes, I like them. In fact, I love them. I’m thankful to have a second set of parents that have my (and our) back at a moment’s notice. And I’m thankful for their unconditional love – because they kind of got a wild card with me as their daughter-in-law. Not gonna lie, I’m a little crazy. 😉

9) My computer. For those of you who didn’t know, I got a new one!!! And not only am I thankful for how speedy it is and how pretty it is, I’m thankful for how inexpensive it was, AND NO MORE VISTA!!! Thank the Lord!!

10) Dr. Pepper. It’s an addiction. I’m thankful that it is one that isn’t detrimental to my health.

11) My diaper bag. It’s my new purse. And while I know that it will need to be replaced by a larger model before a year is up, I love how cute and functional it is.

12) Abigail’s swing. For the moments when my arms might actually fall off.

13) Pampered Chef. A new adventure I’ve been wanting to start for some time. I can’t wait!

14) Captain Pup. No one can love you or comfort you like a dog can. And no one can match a Mother’s protective instincts like your dog can, either. Pup is our first baby. Our little boy. We love him.

15) My sewing machine. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent with it lately, or how many cool and special things I’ve made for Abby and others with it. Sewing is more than a hobby these days – it’s a passion. ❤

16) Ice Cream. Enough said.

17) Target. The magical wonderland of adorable clothes for Abby, every electronic Anthony can fathom, and any household item I could ever need, all at reasonable prices. Bliss.

18) Our own washer and dryer. After having to use communal laundry rooms for years, I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to be able to do Abby’s laundry at the drop of a hat.

19) Jacques the Peacock. Abby’s favorite toy. He provides much needed distraction from…whatever it was that was upsetting her a few minutes ago. *whew*

20) Socks. I was thankful for them last year, and I’m thankful for them still. Comfy, warm, and oh-so-festive!

21) Ascension Lutheran Church. Our home church has uplifted us in prayer for 5 months, and offered support in so many ways. It was an honor and a privilege to finally be able to bring Abigail for church to meet some of you. We are thankful that the Lord led us to you just in time.

22) Our Nikon D60. It takes AMAZING pictures of our family that we will treasure forever. Which leads me to…

23) Technology in general. So thankful for how easy life can be because of it. TV, the internet, DVR, my Cell phone, this blog… I really don’t know what I did before all of it!

24) Facebook!!! Hahaha – no, really! So Thankful for all of the friends I have there, and how easy it is to keep you all up to date on our little family. Facebook has proven to be a true blessing for me in the last year!

25) I am so Thankful to finally have all the titles I ever wanted. While Daughter and Sister came with the territory, Friend was the first that had to be earned. Last year, I finally got to add Wife to that list. And now, I am proud to be called Mommy. I am so Thankful that the Lord saw fit to give me a family of my own. THIS family. It’s been a long road, but I am so Thankful to be sitting here typing these words, knowing that my little angel and my best friend are here with me. I don’t know what I did to deserve such gifts, but I am so thankful to have them.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And know that I am thankful for all of you that read this blog! Please leave comments about what you are thankful for, too!!

-Jen