Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back at 2008

I can't believe that this is the last day of 2008... Cliche or no cliche, I'm completely amazed at how fast this year has gone by. It's made even harder to believe when I look back at all the things that happened this year... Fortunately, everything we do gets documented here so it doesn't get forgotten... Let's review, shall we?

We rang in 2008 at Disneyland, acting like children... Kinda ironic that a year later, we're taking care of a new child of our own!

In late January, we had some snow! After the last two weeks, it's hard to believe that we were so excited to have that little dusting...

February was an exciting month around here. Not only did we get opening night tickets to the big Hannah Montana concert movie, but earlier that same day, Cindy fell and broke her ankle... Overcome with a sense of commitment to the kids, she decided that the show must go on, and hobbled her way into the theater. We wouldn't actually find out until a few days later, that her ankle was, in fact, broken... Oh, and the movie that was supposed to be out for one weekend only, was promptly expanded to a general release. Way to reward the TRUE fans, Disney...

Also in February, we learned a great new game - Speed Scrabble! If you like Scrabble, check it out... We haven't gone back to regular Scrabble since!

On February 21, Tyler reached the milestone of his first Double Digit Birthday, and we celebrated at the Space Needle.

In March, Andy created a new weekly comic strip called "Rodney & Jim" and it started running weekly here. The first couple months of the strip suffered some growing pains, but by the end of the school year, it started to really hit its stride! Click here to look back over his creations!

April saw Tyler playing as a Hun in his school's production of Mulan the musical, and Ellysa learned how much fun it can be to combine swimming and basketball! We also took a Spring Break getaway to the grand opening of the Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark. I can't wait to go back there... Shortly after returning to work, I got to have the fun of bringing some work home with me. And when you work for a construction company, you can bring some COOL STUFF home from work!!

As April wound down, I started writing a weekly column about music - my experiences working in the music business, some of my favorite albums, and more... I kept it up for 16 columns, but ultimately I didn't have the time to keep up that pace. I hope to start it back up again sometime, because I really enjoyed it! To read through the archives, just click here!

The end of May saw some of the warmest weather of the year, and I DJ'd the first ever Fircrest Pool Party, which was a complete blast, and inspired us to re-launch the DJ Business! And as one business had a new beginning, we are (or at least, I still am) mourning the loss of Mad Jack's Ice Cream...

In June, we decided to help out our niece from Arizona, by letting her move in with us. It ultimately didn't work out, but in hindsight, it was a great practice for adopting our new beautiful baby girl!

June was also the highlight of the Music Monday column, when we had the big debut of the song Kaylee and I wrote and produced, "Breathe"!

With school out, summer approaching, and our niece Chelsey due to join us soon, we decided it was time to get a bigger vehicle. The decision was quickly made, and we love our new van! (even if we're not crazy about the payment...)

July kicked off with an explosive 4th of July weekend at my uncle Richard's lake cabins... And then a 5th of July Karaoke-fest at our house!

In September, Kaylee made it so that all four of our kids (which was all of them at the time!) are now wearing braces. Our orthodontist is living comfortably off our family, no doubt... And, at the height of Twilight Fever, Cindy and the girls went to Forks for the first annual Stephenie Meyer Day!

October is Soccer month for Kaylee, and this year we got some great action shots! And sticking with photography in October, we got awesome new family pictures taken!

From November through the end of the year, the big news has been our adorable, tiny, adopted baby Danee! We've had way too many posts to even pick a highlight to link here, so if you, by some small chance haven't heard this news, just scroll back through the past two months. She turns one month old tomorrow, and is surpassing all expectations - even all hopes and dreams! She is, quite simply, our miracle baby!

Happy new year to all of you! We can't wait to see what kind of fun and exciting things 2009 has in store for us!

New Year's Eve Funnies!

Happy New Year From Rodney and Jim!

If You Can't See The Whole Comic, Just Click!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Catching Up With Some Z's

Yesterday Cindy started to feel sick... Sore throat, aches, pains, the works. Wanting to protect Danee from the nastiness, I've been playing SuperDad. Not just to Danee, but to the other kids too...

This afternoon it all caught up to me... And Tyler and Kaylee caught the moment for me...

Time now to catch a few more hours before the first feeding of the middle of the night...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Danee's 4 Week Old Update!

Today is December 29, which is 28 days after December 1, the day that our little AngelCakes left her womb and began making (semi) public appearances!

It's been an amazing 28 days - just scroll back through the past month of posting here if you feel like you missed out on anything!

Today, our pediatrician wanted to have Danee come back in for another weight check. Her first checkup was last Friday, two days after leaving the hospital. At that point, she weighed in at 4 pounds, 3 ounces - a growth of 3 ounces in just two days! That, according to Dr. Sanders, was phenomenal growth!

Dr. Sanders is away on vacation this week. It's probably a good thing, because she might have fainted if she'd been there for today's weigh in...

Today, little Daneekins tipped the scale at 4 pounds...


Yeah... Seven ounces in three days! I think all the nurses at the office were already gathered around the scale, just because of how 100% completely adorable she is... And as I placed her on the scale, OUR nurse asked me if I knew how much she had weighed on Friday. I was happy to put my knowledge on that subject out there, and as she adjusted the scale to show the current weight, there were - I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP - gasps from a few of the nurses at the incredible, amazing, miraculous growth our little baby girl is putting out!

Naturally, I didn't have the camera handy... She's going back next Tuesday - maybe Cindy will get a pic of that weigh in.

In other news, today was a nice day... Well, not weather wise, it was way more miserable than any of the bitter cold we had the last couple weeks. Today, although the temperature was in the high 30s and low 40s, it was windy, and rainy, and felt much colder than any of our official cold weather did. I was glad to get Danee back into our (really, really) warm house and out of the elements after her appointment.

What made today nice, was it was the first day in weeks that has just been our family. Me, Cindy, all four five kids, no daycare kids, no friends over, just the six seven of us. That was nice! Danee celebrated the fact by having another sleepy day, where she hasn't been interested in much other than having her eyes closed and making all the adorable noises she makes when she's asleep.

Chances are good that she was sleeping off all the visitors she entertained over the weekend. I mentioned in yesterday's post that Cindy's brother and his family had stopped by on Saturday. Well yesterday, after a slow and quiet start to the day, once we were all home from church, it seemed that visiting hours were back in session!

First off, and I'm glad to be able to present this, since many of you have asked, Danee's BioMom and Grandma came by, along with their family. Katie is doing really well, and has actually put on a couple pounds in the past four weeks! She and Cindy enjoyed a few good hugs over the course of the visit!

I was feeding Danee when they arrived, and Grammy Cami (as she likes to be called) couldn't WAIT for me to finish up so she could get her mitts on this precious baby! In this pic, she's showing Danee off to her other grandchild, Mason, who is 2.

Right as they were leaving, Ellysa's boyfriend came over so they could swap their Christmas presents... and after a thorough hand washing, Cory found himself holding our sweet little bundle of joy...

Later Sunday night, we got a call from some friends from church, who were having a hard time coping with the fact that we didn't bring Danee with us... (Cindy and I tag-teamed our attendance, so one of us could stay home with Danee, who really isn't supposed to be going out in public for the first two weeks) Anyway, they wanted to know if they could come over to meet her. After a timing and communication mix-up, only the mom and older daughters ended up coming, but it was a very sweet visit.

Right when we opened the door, their daughter SueAnn presented us with a picture she'd made for Danee's Winnie The Pooh Nursery...

I LOVE IT!! Especially Piglet... We're going to treasure this one! A few minutes later, and after a thorough hand washing, SueAnn was experiencing the joy that is, holding Danee.

Even though she spends most of her time wrapped up like a Baby Burrito, she is so nice to hold! She coos, and ahhs, and looks right at your eyes, and is just all the good things that babies are supposed to be, only she turns them up to 11. For reals! Pretty soon, SueAnn gave way to her sister Emily, who had been waiting very patiently.

After all that excitement, Danee drank her two biggest-ever bottles (11pm last night and 4am this morning) and slept like a rock... And like I said, she's been more interested in sleeping today than she has in eating or any other activities. As I type this, she's starting to make her "Hey, there's an adorable baby starting to wake up over here" sounds, and I suspect that feeding her in the quiet dim light of her nursery, she'll get in a good bedtime snack.

After all, she's got quite a growth rate to maintain!

P.S. Here's a shout-out to our favorite nurse, Molly! She's on vacation in Hawaii right now, but has been checking in on us daily! In fact it was when I saw that she'd checked in this evening that I decided I had to quit messing around and get some new pics and info up!

Aloha Molly! Danee sends baby loves your way!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

6 Years!

December 28, 2002 - December 28, 2008 = 6 Years of Wedded Bliss!

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!!

I love you so much, and would marry you again in a heartbeat!! Thanks for all you've done for me, gone through with me, and will yet go through with me. I am so completely excited to raise our new daughter together...


Sunday Funnies

(If you can't see the whole image, just click!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Settling In...

Wow, it's amazing... You bring the new teeny tiny preemie baby home, and suddenly all online activity screeches to a halt! No blog updates, no reading other blogs, I even forgot to get in on Woot's Christmas Day Bag o' Crap!

But we've been plenty busy since the daily Danee updates stopped... And I've even managed to take lots of pictures to share!

Danee and her cousin Rachel

And her cousin Alicia

Cuddling with Big Sister Ellysa on Christmas Morning!

...And big brother Tyler...

And of course, big sister Kaylee!

This next picture, I really love... Yesterday, Danee was a little constipated, and had some tummy aches. Cindy sat cross-legged on our bed, and lay Danee across her lap. Instantly, she calmed down and looked amazingly peaceful... After half an hour or so, Cindy wanted to try to go do something, so she put Danee down on the bed - still on her tummy (don't worry, I was there to watch her) and almost instantly, she started fussing. Cindy put her back on her lap, and presto - Angelic Peace returned!

This morning after her morning bottle, Danee didn't go to sleep like she usually does. There wasn't any problem, she just felt like staying awake for a while! It was a lot of fun to see her so alert for so much time!

This afternoon Cindy's brother Chuck and his family came over to do our Christmas gift exchanges, and of course snag a little cuddle time with Babykins... Here she's enjoying some lunch courtesy of Uncle Chuck!

Then, after dinner it was time for her first bath at home! We did it in the sink of our downstairs bathroom, which has an extra heater built into the wall, so we cranked it all the way up, and got a small plastic bin that normally stores toys for the daycare... Put it in the sink, filled it with warm water, and kicked off the quickest baby bath in history! (after all, we gotta let the little girl keep her body temperature up!)

Unlike last week, there was no sleeping through this bath!!

We bathed her before we fed her... And at this point, it looked like she'd decided to eat her wrist, since we were postponing her ACTUAL food!

In addition to the heater being on, we had her towel in the dryer on high heat... Nothing like a heated towel to put the finishing touch on a nice warm bath!

And then it was back to the changing table, into her clothes, and FINALLY...


Oh, also... Friday morning we took her to her first "Well Baby" checkup with her pediatrician. Our little superstar had already gained 3 ounces since coming home, and has also grown 3 inches since birth!

Current Stats: 4 Pounds, 3 Ounces, 17.5 Inches long!

That means she's put on a whole pound from her birth weight of 3lb, 3oz, in less than a month! She's amazing!

We can't even put words to how much we love finally having her home with us. It's going to be really hard getting back into the routine of going to work every day... Her feeding happens pretty regularly every 3 or 4 hours, which always seems to include one about an hour before I'd normally be getting up - which of course, makes getting up that much harder! Luckily I'm off til next year, so I've got plenty of time to figure this all out!

We hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and are working toward a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Today presented quite a dilemma... We are completely overjoyed at having our beautiful baby girl in our home, the fact that it's still six weeks and change before her due date, one of the most important things we need to do, is let her just rest... If she's sleeping, we need to let her sleep. She still needs to pretend, as much as possible, that she's still baking in the womb, blissfully unaware of what's going on around her.

We fully, completely, 100% agree with all of that!

And therein lies the dilemma.

My family has a Christmas Eve tradition that's been going on a long time. I checked with my mom a couple days ago, making sure I had the origins clear before I went blabbing about it here.

One Christmas Eve, about 40 years ago (quite possibly exactly 40 years ago) my family didn't have any specific plans. Mom and Dad had 6 kids over age 5, and one incredibly adorable nine day old baby boy. She was just fixing up a batch of tacos for her family.

As she was preparing dinner, there was a knock at the door... It was my aunt and uncle, Doris & Dennis Deford (all their kids names start with D too...) and their kids. They were moving over Christmas, or something like that, and were hoping to drop in for some Holiday Hospitality...

My family was happy - as you know, it's always fun when cousins come visiting at Christmas time! After dinner, Mom said she didn't really have anything dessert like, so they just broke out the ice cream.

Important Side Note: My family, growing up, ALWAYS had ice cream. Not just ice cream, but SEVERAL flavors of ice cream. It was a great life, and it came in very handy that Christmas Eve night 40 years ago...

After feasting on tacos, they all feasted on ice cream sundaes and banana splits! Needless to say, a great time was had by all, and it quickly became a tradition.

By the time I was old enough to be aware of such things, Christmas Eve meant rotating between our house in Des Moines, and my aunt and uncle's (Ken & Nancy, this time) in Bellevue. A few years later, my uncle Richard moved over to the wet side, and married my aunt Dorothy, and their house joined the rotation. About 20 years ago, we added a white elephant gift exchange, and a Christmas Carol sing-along... Last year a family talent showcase joined the agenda. The whole night is amazingly fun, and it just doesn't feel like Christmas without it.

But this year, on Christmas eve, we have a tiny baby who needs to not be all stimulated.

The Fix:

Richard and Dorothy are hosting this year, and their house is huge... Huge enough that we'll be able to pick a quiet room for Danee to hang out in, in her porta-crib, away from the noise and stimulation and germs... She'll make a quick public appearance, then retire to her safe haven, where we'll check on her regularly.

And the rest of us will fully take in the Christmas Eve party, and all the traditions therein!

Merry Christmas To All of You!!

Danee Comes Home!

We got up early this morning, so we could go to the hospital and bring home our precious pink bundle of joy! She was so alert this morning, it was as if she knew that something big was coming... Sure enough, after a few minutes of discharge instructions, and one mind-numbingly repetitive infant CPR video, we were presented with discharge papers to sign!

Once that stuff was out of the way, it was time to load up that fancy new car seat!

Yep, there's nothing like a car seat that's good for up to 30 pounds, to make our little just-barely-four-pounder look as tiny as she really is!

A quick ride down the elevator, and I went to get the van, and loaded up my precious cargo!

Fifteen minutes later, Danee was safe in her new home, sleeping off the morning's excitement!

And right now, as I type this, she's laying in her big sister Kaylee's arms, with the fireplace going, and the heat cranked up to an otherwise ridiculous 77 degrees... Which is going to make it SO much easier for me to wear shorts all winter long, which as most of you know, is my preferred method of dress!

Best Christmas Present Ever: DEFINITELY!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cutting It Close!

See that boring looking legal document, laying in Danee's little cradle?

It's not so boring... It's actually the most exciting legal document I've ever seen!

This legal document, filed today, is the one we've been anxiously waiting for for the past few weeks.

Armed with this legal document, we will descend upon the NICU at Saint Joseph Medical Center tomorrow, and when we leave, we will have our sweet little Daneekins with us!

It seems almost unreal... and yet here is the paper, right in front of me!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby Lovin' On A Snowy Sunday

The snow that's brought such beauty and such frustration continues to fall around here... It was bad enough this morning that they cancelled Church! But it wasn't bad enough to keep us away from Danee on another exciting day of firsts...

After a bottle and some snuggle time, Molly (still our favorite nurse!) mentioned that it was time to give Daneekins a bath! She'd been wiped down with a sponge a few times, but hadn't had a real bath before, so this was big stuff!

Unfortunately, she was so wiped out from all the eating, digesting and growing that's going on, that it was kinda like a repeat of the sleepy day she had last week.

Here she is getting ready for her bath. Note the big round tummy!!

As we were getting the bath ready, Molly said she was curious to see how much Danee cried during her first bath.

Don't worry, that's not a crying face... It's a yawn. A big yawn. At this point, her eyes hadn't opened yet. She was very stubborn about this whole "I'm Tired!" thing...

Baby Shampoo!! She smelled SO good afterward!!

Finally! During the final rinse, she opened her eyes just enough to see what all the fuss was about. She decided it wasn't much, and went back to sleep... The fuss was all about a baby sleeping through a full bath! The whole staff had come over to watch. The respiratory therapist even hooked up an oxygen tube and put it in the water to give her a Jacuzzi... Didn't draw any attention from her at all.

I got to comb her hair, which I loved. Meanwhile, Cindy strategically wrapped the towel around her in a provocative "Vanity Fair" pose. Very tastefully done, of course!

She's so well developed, it's hard to remember just how tiny she still is! Her weight is a new high today, at 3 pounds, 14 ounces! Our hands still totally dwarf her little body though...

After some quality skin-time with Mommy, we bundled her back up and let her do what she really wanted to do today - sleep!

As we were leaving the hospital, I just had to grab a pic of the courtyard in the lobby... The waterfall had caught our eyes the first time we visited the hospital, but it wasn't until a few days ago that we realized it was actually outside... which means it got snow too!

Speaking of snow, while we were at the hospital all warm and dry (or warm and wet, for Danee during her bath!) Ellysa and Kaylee were home building a little Zulu Warrior Snowman!

Once we came inside, we got another surprise! Our friends (who took our family portrait at the top of the page) offered to paint some Pooh murals on the walls of Danee's nursery... And while we were out today, she came in and finished up what she had been working on!

It was the perfect way to complete the day, since we'd spent the morning putting the crib together, washing all of her new clothes and blankies, and just generally putting together her nursery!

Sunday Funnies

If you can't see the whole image, just click!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Big Step!

Take a good look at our beautiful little girl's face... Notice a change? Danee had her feeding tube removed last night!! She's getting all of her food through her mouth now, and she LOVES to eat!

Don't let the droopy eyes fool you... I fed her a bottle yesterday while she was half asleep... And she still managed to pack down 50 milliliters of formula in less than ten minutes! When the bottle was empty, she woke up enough to look around, making sucky-faces, hoping for more. She usually doesn't get any more, because her little tummy is still pretty tiny.

They've moved her to a new feeding schedule, or rather, they moved her OFF the feeding schedule. She now gets to eat when she's hungry, and as much as she wants! Of course, you can't just hand a 34 week preemie complete nutritional control... So if she ever tries to sleep more than 4 hour between feedings, they'll wake her up to eat. It's a pretty sweet gig for a tiny girl!

Kaylee got to hold her, and feed her today, which she loved. If you look in the bottom left corner of that picture, you'll see a car seat. Last night, the nurses did the "Car Seat Check" on Danee. They put her in the seat for an hour, while monitoring all her vitals to make sure she can handle being in that position.

Not that it's any surprise to us, but she aced the test! We actually ran out last night and bought a really nice new car seat, so it's great that she's already put it to such great use!

Oh, and there's even more great news...

Remember the caffeine thing? Danee hasn't had a single problem! Hasn't forgotten to breathe, hasn't had any extreme irritability... She's handling giving up caffeine much better than most grownups do!

Remember how they want to watch her for these problems for seven days?

Day seven is next Tuesday... Which means that unless something goes haywire, Danee will be released from the hospital on Wednesday, also known as Christmas Eve!

Our little Christmas Miracle! She is so completely amazing, so completely beautiful... We are SO blessed to be able to welcome her into our family!

Two big things left to pray for:

1 - Keep on praying for Danee's health, growth, and amazing progress to continue.

2 - Pray that our attorney gets into court on MONDAY to get an emergency temporary guardianship order, so that we can actually take her home on Wednesday. With all the delays in court hearings, our nerves are shot. So we're praying for Monday.

As always, Cindy and I would like to thank all of you for the constant stream of good wishes that you've been sending - THANK YOU!!