Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day

Jack had a big time this weekend...Kevin and I took him for his first swim. Don't worry, it was after the heat of the day. He had sunscreen on, and he was only out for about 35 minutes. I thought for sure that we'd at least have to coax him into the water, but that was a big negatory! He laughed and played and cooed. I'm not sure who had more fun, Jack or his parents. One thing is for sure...the hot sun wore all of us out!

Friday, May 26, 2006

6 Weeks Old

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Questions Strangers Ask

Jack is almost 8 weeks old; he will be Tuesday. He continues to amaze us as he grows and changes daily. He is such a happy baby. We're so proud to be his parents.

My girlfriend, Carolyn, took me to lunch for my birthday today. Being a proud mommy, I brought the latest batch of photos of my little angel along to show her (since Jack was home bonding with Daddy learning about the pork business). Our server noticed the baby pictures and wanted to know who just had a baby. Carolyn told her it was me. The lady, not realizing how she sounded and genuinely being interested, looked at me and asked, "Is he mixed?" I smiled and replied, "He's Hispanic." When she saw Kevin in one of the pictures she still didn't get it and commented on Jack's dark skin. She said she'd never seen a baby that was "part Hispanic still be so dark." I smiled and explained that Jack is "full Hispanic" and that we adopted him. I knew that would springboard us into the next famous round of "Jack questions."

She wanted to know where he was from. I said the United States. I knew what she meant, but couldn't help making it harder for her to get her answers. I don't think I'd ever be as tenacious with personal questions, myself. She asked again, "Well, yeah, but where's he from?" I told her Texas.

My point is that we live in America, the melting pot, salad bowl, or whatever you want to call it of the world. All kinds of folks live in the USA. If you've ever visited large cities like New York, Las Vegas, Las Angeles, Chicago, or Baltimore you'll understand. Just because a person's skin has a particular tint doesn't mean they just got off a ship or crossed a border. In America, it's quite possible to live within communities where there are many others with your same ethnicity. Your own culture can thrive in a community beside another different community. It doesn't matter whether your relatives/ancestors are German, Irish, Nigerian, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese. That's the beauty of America. Jack's ancestors have lived in Texas for generations, just as my Irish ones have and Kevin's Dutch and Irish ones have. We're proud of our heritage, but we're American. Jack is American. His birthmother speaks less Spanish than I do. She doesn't listen to Salsa music for pleasure; she listens to Enya and Sade. She doesn't eat tacos at every meal; she loves Italian food, same as me. I'm sure she has habits that stem from her Hispanic roots, but we all do things just because our families have always done them a certain way.

Jack's of Hispanic descent, but his nationality is American. There are all different colors of Americans. When Jack is older and questions why his skin is different from mine, I'll point to all the other people around us with a variety of skin tones and tell him in the great words of author Karen Kingsbury, "God gave everyone a special color, a color he loved for that person." You see, God knows exactly what color is the most beautiful one for each of us.

It doesn't bother me that people ask. It reminds me that we have a different kind of family. I wonder how Jack will receive it as he matures and tries to understand. I guess I'm just now becoming more aware of it than I ever have as a "white person." People seem to forget that were really all different, unique on the inside and outside.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Prayer Request

Please pray for Benny, a very dear friend of Kevin's. He is undergoing very intense treatment for stage 4 cancer at the best hospital for cancer patients in the country. If you came to our wedding, then you probably saw Benny and his wife there. We are all very torn up about his diagnosis, spots in several organs including his brain and liver. This is not his first battle with cancer.

Benny is a very active person who takes excellent care of his body, striving to stay in great physical condition. Remember the commercial from the 80s where the little boy was in the walker speeding all of the house on the clean floor? That's Benny! He talks fast, moves fast, truly enjoys life. He lights up a room when he enters it. When he found out Kevin was getting married, he called me right off the bat. He said, "I wanna talk to this woman who has finally turned Kevin's head! You're the luckiest woman in the world!" I agree, except Benny's wife is also very lucky. He truly loves her and dotes on her and his three beautiful, young daughters endlessly. I went to a business meeting at his office once. He took me on a tour of every photo of every daughter he has...and there were many!

Benny is a very strong Christian man. He has a strong faith in God. If anything can pull him through this tough road he now has to travel, prayer can. Please pray for him and his family. Benny has especially requested for everyone to have their children pray for him. He said that "God answers the prayer of children first." If you've ever fought cancer with a loved one, you know how draining and difficult it can be.

Big Events

What a busy weekend!

I went to the PHS graduation last night to see my first "official" class graduate. It was very touching to receive invitations from students I taught way back in 1997. The stadium was jam packed! Jack was a very good sport through all of the cheering and fog horns. We left before it was over, though. As soon as I saw all the kids I wanted to see. I know...it was rude...but I had Jack to think about, and 400 kids is a lot! We are going to Virginia in June to see Kevin's nephew, Ben, graduate. Congratulations Class of 2006!

Kevin's mother and brother come into town today for Jack's Christening tomorrow. It's a very big deal. We are excited. I called her yesterday to tell her Jack is so excited about her visit that he pooped in his pants 3 times. She's excited, too. We'll have the ceremony during the 8 o'clock mass. Jack will wear a white baptism gown smocked and sewed by his Granny (my mother) and be wrapped in a white crocheted blanket made by his Grandma (Kevin's mother). I think that is very special. Tim, Kevin's big bro, is Jack's Godfather; and Joannie, my lifelong friend, is his Godmother. They are both very strong Christians who Kevin and I feel would make wonderful mentors and role models for our son. I would trust either of them to give him advice in confidence. Both of them have been through very trying times in their lives and have maintained, even increased, their faith in God. Afterwards, we're bringing some friends and family to the house for photos and a champagne toast, then off to a local restaurant for brunch.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Birthday

Well, I'm officially 32 now. I don't feel older, just busier. Kevin and Jack gave me a beautiful gold necklace with 3 diamonds. I love it. Jack stayed with his first "real sitter" while his daddy took me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants...Garretts. It was fabulous! We really had a great time. We talked about all kinds of things, but it struck me as funny when the conversation always turned back to our perfect son...Yes, I said perfect. ;) I wondered how many times I sat next to very happily married couples in restaurants who were merrily discussing their children. I had a great time. I love the fact that Kevin continues to indulge me in our "private time." I think that is so important in a marriage. I also received a beautiful bracelet and plaque from my little sister, a devotional from Jack's godmother, and gorgeous flowers from Kevin's mother. All in all it was a special birthday. Nothing exotic, but special. In fact, I was more excited to celebrate my first Mother's Day.

6 Weeks Old

I know you're dying for an update, but Kevin's out of town for several days. It's just me and the little man...So, things have been more hectic than usual. Hmmm...Let's see...

  1. Jack pulled his own hair again yesterday. This time it was much more difficult to loosen his tight little grip without hurting him worse. It took at least a full minute (come on...It would seem like forever to you too if someone were pulling your hair unmercifully). I almost cried. I felt so sorry for the little dude.
  2. He is smiling, cooing, and gurgling more and more. That curled little smile melts my heart like no other. It's like Elvis, you know. The right side of his tip lip raises higher than the other.
  3. He can hold a rattle and shake it now if you put it in his hand for him. He loves the sound.
  4. He was a "one man band" in church Sunday. The stench! Kevin was holding him and thought he needed changing. So, after communion I went to the "crying room" (it's a glassed in part of the sanctuary with a speaker to hear the service, rocking chairs, restroom, and changing table) to change him. He only had gas. By the time I got back there he was burping, pooting, and hiccuping all at the same time. I decided it would be better for the congregation if we just stay back there until the little spell passed.
  5. He is taking 5 oz of formula (occasionally 6) consistently at every feeding now. I'm considering adding cereal at his last feeding, but am afraid to without talking to the doc. Any advisors?
  6. He is rapidly outgrowing his clothes. The flip-flops fit, Jen!
  7. He smiles when he hears his daddy's voice on the phone.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

I love this movie! The old one and the new one, especially the new one. In the movie Willie Wonka says, "You know what happened to the little boy whose dreams all came true...He lived happily ever after!"

Well, Saturday is my 32 birthday. I've had a lot of ups and downs over the years, but I can honestly say that all my dreams have come true and my happily ever after has begun. I am happier than I ever dreamed I'd be. I am very happily married to my best friend in the whole wide world and have been given the most beautiful and precious son. I have a wonderful job and a beautiful home. I have two furry mongrels who love to be petted regularly and more friends than I deserve. God is so good. I can't wait to see what wonderful blessings the next 32 years hold.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

HAIRY situations

  1. Kevin and I took our little man out for some fresh air Saturday afternoon. We went to the soccer playoffs for PHS. While there the 4th grade son of one of Kevin's friends asked a lady who was holding Jack, "Why is his skin so dark?" She very sweetly responded by saying, "He's Hispanic." This led the little boy to his next question..."So, is he going to have an afro?" {Later that evening the boy asked his mother how Mrs. Riley could have a Hispanic baby. }
  2. Jack has been learning how to manipulate his hands and fingers. He's grabbed my necklace numerous times. Well, this afternoon while lying on his back, he began to scream in a way I've never heard before. He was hurt! It didn't take long to realize that he was pulling his own hair without realizing it. The harder he pulled, the madder he got and the tighter his grip became on his own hair. He had a fist full! It was difficult to loosen his grip. I guess most babies his age don't have enough hair to grab a handful.
You know, I was very worried about how Biscuit and Birdie would handle a new baby in the house. It didn't take very long to find out. They love Jack. Birdie usually licks his head, and Biscuit licks his feet. It's all very sweet. When I come in the back door with him in the carrier, I usually go ahead and set him down in the kitchen floor so they can say "Hi" and go about their business. (Believe me, it's much easier than the energy-filled alternative.) Yesterday was filled with two very cute Jack scenes...one with Biscuit, one with Daddy.

1. Biscuit is usually afraid of the vacuum. I don't know if it's the sound or the fact that he knows it isn't a person, but he usually runs out of the room when it's in use. Yesterday, instead of leaving the room, he jumped between Jack's swing and the vacuum and began barking ferociously to protect Jack. How sweet! I wonder how he'll do when Jack pulls his tail...

2. I was just finishing a student call when I felt a presence behind me. I turned around to find Kevin wearing a ballcap holding Jack (who was also wearing a ballcap) in his carrier with his left hand and a "very cute" diaper bag in his right hand. Very seriously, he said..."We're going to town." I love my boys!

A big CONGRATULATIONS goes out to my little brother, Darrell, and BJ. They are officially engaged. I've never seen Darrell so happy. They make a great team. I'm glad he's finally found someone he deserves, who will treat him right and wants to make him happy. She loves his children and treats them like her own. Best wishes to you both!