Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This girl

Miss Olive Mae Chaney. Most days I just can't get enough of her. Some nights, like last night, I'd have preferred her to allow me more sleep.

Olive will be eight months old this Sunday. Cue the cliche, "I can't believe how big she is/how fast the time is going." For almost as long as she has been a part of our family our life as four has been...not normal. In transition, to be more exact. It would have been easy for her growth and milestones to have gotten lost in the mix. Granted, while I haven't been diligent in updating her baby book, I am often reminded that I need to cherish this quickly passing season of baby hood.

Olive is a good baby. No really, I mean it, she is good. She is so patient and so good natured. She smiles constantly and plays the shy game if you talk to her and she doesn't know you well - but she'll still smile. She's a bit of a mommy's girl, but it's obvious she loves her daddy. Of course she has her moments to cry and she's staring to let it be known that she's not too keen on having a toy or other object taken from her, but overall she's pretty laid back.

What gives me pause about her good natured-ness is my remembering that Addie was a laid back baby, too...then she got mobile!

I love, love when Olive laughs. She's especially ticklish around her neck. Her dimples add such character to her sweet little face and her blue, blue eyes...well, let's just say we could have some struggles saying no to them.

Her hair is kind of crazy and I can't tell yet if she'll have mine and Addie's curls or if somehow she'll escape that sentence. Either way, it's bound to be sticking up, sometimes pretty spectacularly, and has a bit of a mind of its own right now.

She also adores her big sister. When she is around, Olive's eyes are on her. She wants Addie's toys and she loves her attention. Thankfully, Addie is pretty willing to freely give of hugs and kisses and tickles (sometimes not so gentle) and has been asking more lately to hold Olive. However, she's not super keen on Olive playing with her toys, and if asked to let Olive play with one, she's usually handed one of the not-so-favorite toys. Oh Addie, as close as your little sister is to crawling, your life is about to get a little more challenging!

When riding in the car, Olive is often sitting up and leaning forward, eyes turned in Addie's direction so she can watch what she's doing. It's so sweet to see her craning to keep her eyes on Addie. She just wants to know what she's doing.

Every now and then you might hear me say, "I could have three or four more, just like this," or, "I wish she'd stay just like this." In reality, I don't have room for three or four more babies in my biological clock, nor do I want to be changing (or purchasing) diapers for the rest of my life, or nursing for years to come or making sure someone isn't constantly toppling over because they can't sit up entirely on their own yet. It's just that this time really is so special and so fun. I look forward to being able to communicate more clearly with Olive, to watching her learn and grow and form her personality, just as it has been a treat to do the same with Addie. But, I will certainly enjoy the baby snuggles for now.

Olive's name literally means "olive," or "olive tree." The olive tree is a symbol of peace and victory. When I initially found out what Olive meant, I joked that we needed some peace in the midst of Addie's terrible three's. Without getting overly philosophical, I do believe Olive brings a sense of peace to our household. During a time of uncertainty for our family, she is a source of joy and sweetness. And, if I really wanted to delve deep, I'd say that we will find victory during this time. But, I won't go there...

For now, I will enjoy my happy girl and be so, so thankful that she is part of our family. I will love to hear her shrieks and babbling and laughing, I will enjoy her sweet touches to my face and I will excitedly watch and she learns and examines all that crosses her path.

I am so thankful to be this girl's mommy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Birthday number four

Today is Adelaide's birthday. She's four.

When I was putting her to bed tonight I asked her what her favorite part of the day was.

It wasn't the little decorations we put up, or the balloons we scattered around her bedroom floor this morning. It wasn't the gifts she opened, or that she was able to run around with some of her friends at church while I was at bible study, or even that we spent some time at my mom's house, complete with a new Rapunzel dress and a happy meal from McDonald's. Nor was it dinner with daddy at her choice - Chick fil A (yes, fast food twice in one day), or her first trip to Build A Bear ending with a stuffed pink cat clothed in a Rapunzel dress.

No, it was "The cupcake and singing 'Happy Birthday.'" So, eating cupcakes at home and us squeaking out the birthday song was her favorite part of the day. I guess next year we can really simplify.

Making Addie feel special today was so fun. She kept saying, "I love when it's my birthday." 

In reading past birthday blog posts it seems I've started a trend of writing two birthday posts - one as a recap of the day/party, one as a bit of an "ode to Adelaide."

So, here's my ode:

Adelaide Bell Chaney, you truly are a joy. I say that looking back on this past year and man, was three challenging. Your twos looked terrific compared to the threes, but I can look back at these months and realize that I've learned a lot about you and I've learned a lot about being your mother - what I need to improve, what's working, and thankful for your forgiveness. We've had some pretty bumpy times, but as we've gotten closer to four I have seen such growth in you. I'm under no illusion that four will be easy, but even in just the past couple of weeks I've really been enjoying our time together. You're so much fun to talk to, to listen to and to watch. I so look forward to this next year.

You are a wonderful big sister. While you're not keen on sharing your toys all of the time (and Olive already wants them!), you are attentive and sweet and so thoughtful when it comes to keeping your sister happy when she is upset. You are a great help to me and daddy when it comes to taking care of Olive.

You're hilarious. Your thought process is so cool to observe. Just tonight, after our bible reading, we were talking about Samson and you said, "You know what mom? I would glue his hair back on." Of course you would! 'Cause that is who you are.

You're very aware of what it is to tell the truth. Maybe that's because the first time you lied to me, which broke my heart, I scared the lies right out of you! When I question you about lying or telling the truth you always dramatically stop and say, "Okay, mom, I'm going to tell the truth..." And sometimes you just go ahead and tattle on yourself.

You sing along with the radio...your daddy and I love when you do this. Sometimes I try not to let you know I am listening to and watching you, so that you'll keep on, unhindered. 

You're strong. These last six months have been a little nutty for our family. Lots of change and transition, something we noticed long ago was hard for you, which you get from me. But you're doing so well. You're adapting and you're enjoying school and friends and family and I have high hopes for your ability to adjust when the next adventure comes our way.

I'm just so thankful for you. As challenging as this last year has been, I am so thankful that God chose me to be your mommy. Thank you for your patience and for loving me even when I'm unfair or cranky or thoughtless. I love you!

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Four years ago tonight I received a phone call, sometime after 11 p.m. I had already gone to bed, and groggily reached to take the phone from Sabian when he came into our bedroom saying, "Your brother is on the phone." I remember him saying,

"He's gone."

"What do you mean he's gone?" I responded.

"He died."

 I'm sure there were other words in there somewhere, and maybe those aren't even the exact ones spoken, but either way, the message was clear. My dad had passed away.

I was nine months pregnant with Adelaide and it was the eve of my due date. I was in Florida, and my family was in Illinois.

Dad died three days before Addie was born, and was buried the day after her birthday. I will never have to wonder how long it has been since my dad has been gone. I was in a hospital room in Panama City, FL, celebrating the birth of my first child, while mourning the death of my father.

How does this happen?

This year, the anniversary of my dad's death is different than the others. This time, we are here. We're within reach of familiar people, places and things, whereas before this, we were living in Florida, removed from these familiarities.

This process, the grieving process, as I guess its called, has been different for me. It's been a bit surreal.

The last time I was home before my dad died was just a couple of months before, in January, for a baby shower given to me by the ladies from my home church. I'd gotten a horrible stomach bug while I was home on that trip and my dad had actually ended up in the hospital for a couple of days, which wasn't terribly unusual at that point in his struggle with diabetes. I remember him saying something about how my trip hadn't quite turned out like he/we thought it would, me sick and him in the hospital. 

The next time I was home we had our two month old Addie with us - and dad wasn't there. Even though I knew better, it was almost as though he was just out on a trip to the commissary, or Walmart, or maybe he'd stopped by to chat up his friends at the dry cleaners.

It took me a while, but I finally realized about a year ago why dealing with the loss of my dad was so strange for me. This process hasn't really been a process for me at all. Dad was here and then he just...wasn't. I visited home, he was there. I went back to Florida, I visited home again, and he was gone. As odd as it sounds, I didn't get to see him in the hospital. I didn't get to go to his funeral. I didn't get to witness his with-military-honors burial. I didn't get to spend those days before, during and after, with my family.

When I think about all of this there is an internal tug-o-war that occurs. While I didn't get to go through the process, I do believe in some ways I was spared the process. I don't have to remember my dad in the hospital, I can remember him at home. Had we been in Belleville through the weeks leading up to my dad's death, and the weeks after, and I had been pregnant at the same time, well, that would have been...hard.

I may never know why the sequence of events surrounding that time was the way it was...we moved (my first time away from home), I got pregnant a month later, while I was pregnant my dad died, three days later I had my first baby. All in less than a year. It's such a crazy string of events that sometimes when I think about it, it sounds like someone else's life.

While I may not understand, I have to believe that God was at at work. That what happened was not a smattering of random events, and didn't happen in an "everything happens for a reason" kind of way, but rather, in a God is sovereign kind of way.

So today, I remember that time. A time when I experienced such a range of circumstances and emotions. I mourned and celebrated, I reflected on the past with my dad and looked forward to the future with my daughter. And I rest in knowing that God is in control. He knows and He does because He is.

I am thankful for my dad.