Thursday, January 29, 2009


Thursday mornings are rapidly becoming my favorite part of the week. I belong to a weekly Bible Study at our church called Cafe Agape. The first portion of the morning, we begin as a large group of women and usually have a "Love Gift" (aka testimonial) or worship and treats. We then split up into small groups - there are about 5-6 different studies to choose from. This year I chose to tackle the challenge of Precepts and we're studying the book of James. I am so blessed to be a part of this group. What I enjoy most is that it is multi-generational. Everyone comes from so many different backgrounds and it's fascinating to hear other's journey towards Christ.

One would think that being a Christian for over 22 years, there wouldn't be much more that I could learn from James. Surprisingly, I've learned more about James in the past few months than I have over 22 years!

Here's what I've been chewing on the past few months:

How can I become a "doer of the word?"
How can I be joyful in the midst of trials?
How can I honor God through my trials?
How can I resist temptation?
How can I have genuine faith?
How can I be more transparent?
How can I love my neighbor more?
How can I share the riches God has blessed me with?
How can I live out my faith?
How can I stop comparing my insides with other people's outsides?
How can I preach the word without using any words?
Are my actions consistent with my speech?
Is my heart pure?
Are my motives pure?
Do I serve joyfully and seek opportunities to serve?
Do I follow through?
Am I modeling a life filled with God's love?
Do others know that I am a Christian by my love?
How can I not become so busy that I miss out on hearing God?

Just a few things to think about....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let the Weaning Begin

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends breastfeeding until your baby is 12 months old. Now that Amaya just celebrated her 1 year birthday and has been given the go-ahead to begin whole milk, we've started the process of weaning Amaya. Unfortunately, I think this process is going to be harder on me than it will be on her.

I remember when Amaya was first born, it was very challenging to nurse her. There were some days, I nursed her 17 times! Because she was so little, her stomach couldn't hold much, so she needed to eat more frequently. I remember cringing every time Steve said, "I think she's hungry again." I stuck with nursing because the benefits were so much greater for the both of us. If it hadn't been for the lactation consultants at Mayo, Steve's support, and both sets of Grandparent's support, I don't think I would have made it this far. It would have been so much easier to mix a bottle of formula, but my mom and Steve's mom were flexible and dealt with the frozen breastmilk. Thank you for being a big part of Amaya's life!

Here's a link to what the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee says:

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Over the past year, I've really enjoyed nursing Amaya. It's our special time during the day where I can snuggle her as much as I want. Now, that we're decreasing her feedings and introducing more adult food, it's been a grieving process for me. I've eliminated her morning session first because it is generally the easiest to remove. Her afternoon and bedtime sessions are related to sleep, so it isn't recommended to eliminate those first. She's handling the transition just fine and loves the whole milk! I'm doing okay - just realizing that my baby girl is getting older. I'm also realizing that I need to be more intentional about making time to cuddle more - while reading books together, after she gets up from a nap, etc. The AAP also states that babies will still need that closeness with their mother even after she's weaned.

Our family medicine doctor also told me that weaning can take as long as you want - cold turkey, 2-3 days, 2-3 weeks, or even 6 months. I think we're going to try eliminating one feeding a week and see how it goes. Both of us are going to require a little adjusting, so we'll learn along the way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

12 Month Stats

Yesterday was Amaya's 12 month appointment with Dr. Horn-Ommen. She's our third family medicine doctor in the past 6 months, so hopefully we'll be able to stick with her for a long time. Here are her current stats:

Weight: 17 1/2 pounds (5th percentile)
Length: 2 feet 4 1/2 inches (39th percentile)

Dr. Horn-Ommen wasn't concerned about her weight. Amaya has always been a light-weight and since she's more active, she's going to be leaner. On average, most 12 month olds have tripled their birth weight - which she has done - so we just need to keep doing what we're doing (and sneak in some ice cream every so often!).

Every time we go to her well-baby checks, we fill out a form regarding her developmental progress. She's right around the 13-14 month skills, which reassures and encourages us. Amaya's right on target for her gross motor skills and the doctor said she has advanced language skills for her age. She must have gotten the "talking gene" from Steve!

The best news that we heard was that Amaya no longer needs the surgery to correct her blocked tear duct! Praise God! Shortly after we had a consultation with the pediatric ophthamologist, her eye seemed to get better on its own. I didn't want to get my hopes up until she was evaluated again. We're so thankful that it cleared up!

Amaya received another round of vaccinations. Our favorite and regular nurse, Dawn was there, so it went pretty smoothly. Amaya hasn't had any adverse reactions - yet. With the MMR, some babies can develop a high fever and rash 7-14 days later. We'll hope that it won't be too bad.


I was a little disappointed that Grandpa didn't get any toy trains, lift-the-flap books, cars, little people, or balls for his birthday. So... after Mommy and Daddy took pictures of Grandma and Grandpa and the grandkids, Grandma stood me up on the floor and (drum roll please) I decided to take my first steps on Grandpa's Birthday! Mommy and Daddy have been practicing quite a bit with me since then. It's a lot of fun, but I sure am glad I have some diaper padding! I fall down a lot, but I like walking better than crawling!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Birthday AGAIN!

Mommy says that January is a very busy month full of celebrations and today we're celebrating my Grandpa Gustafson's birthday. (It's also my mommy's cousin Brenda's birthday too! Happy Birthday Brenda!)

After my nap today, we're all going over to my Grandma and Grandpa's house to celebrate. Grandma is making roast beef - one of my mommy and daddy's favorite meals. I can't quite chew the meat very well, but I try. Then, we'll have cake and ice cream. I had one candle on my birthday cake - I wonder how many candles will be on Grandpa's cake? Then, Grandpa will open presents. I wonder what Grandpa will get? He likes trains and books. Maybe he'll get a lift-the-flap train book! That would be perfect! He also likes sweets, so maybe he might get some Yogurt Melts. We should have a great time!

Happy Birthday Grandpa! I love you!


Play Date with Grandma Horning

Yesterday, while my mommy was at work, my Grandma Horning came over to play with me and my daddy. I really look forward to the weekends my mommy goes to work because I get special one-on-one time with my daddy. But this weekend was extra special because I got to play with my Grandma too!

I showed Grandma all my tricks. I've learned how to feed my baby a bottle, push the balls down on my Pound-A-Ball Toy, and cruise behind my walker. I'm still afraid to take a step by myself, but maybe soon. Grandma also showed me some of her tricks. She makes all kinds of funny noises just like my daddy! I can't wait for her to come over to play again because we had so much fun!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I read a recent post on a neighbor's blog about wishing that there were more "thankfulness" in the world. It started me thinking about what I'm thankful for:

1. My faith: Only by God's grace have I made it this far.

2. My wife, who loves me unconditionally. She is my best friend.

3. My daughter, who turns a bad day into a great day simply by thrusting out her arms so I'll hold her.

4. My parents, who have supported me over the last 35+ years, no matter the circumstance.

5. My in-laws, who willingly and happily gave me their youngest child to be my wife.

6. My nieces and nephews: Joshua, Jordan, Hannah, Ben, Annika, Lydia and Miles. You have helped me remember how fun it is to be a kid.

7. My extended family: though I don't see you often, I enjoy your presence when I do and miss you when you're gone.

8. My job: I'm blessed with a job that is flexible - allowing time for familial concerns and graduate school attendance.

9. My school: Thank you for accepting me into your grad school program! I will continue to do my best to be deserving of that honor.

10. My neighborhood: I know everyone by sight, and almost all by name that live on our cul-de-sac. How rare that is nowadays.

11. My city: I love this town. It is, and will continue to be the place I will raise my family.

12. Ice cream.

12. Ice cream!

13. Ice cream!!

14. Ice cream!!!

The Biggest Loser

As many of you know, Steve and I don't have cable or bunny ears. When we turn on our TV, we have two options - Videotapes or DVDs. When I moved into my townhouse in 2002, I didn't like where the cable jack was located in the living room and just never ended up getting cable. When Steve and I got married, Steve was laid off from Pemstar two weeks later, so we held off from getting cable because of the expense. Now that we're in our house, we're both working - albeit part-time, we've still made the decision not to get cable, but for different reasons.

Last night, my parents invited me over and we've started watching the Biggest Loser. My mother-in-law Ruth Ann and sister-in-law Debbie both watch the show and I've heard so much hype about it, so we started watching a few weeks ago. I can see how quickly these reality TV shows become "Must See TV." You begin to care about these people and wish for their success. However, we had to change the channel several times because there was so much arguing between a team. Do I really need to see that? My other complaint is about the trainers. I realize that their job is to motivate, encourage, and challenge the teams, but is it really necessary to yell at them and use a string of obscenities to get them to go five more minutes on the treadmill? And why do they have to eliminate team members? Isn't one of the main components of weight loss a support system? Your best friend, mother, spouse, cousin, is eliminated and now you're working out with strangers and trainers are yelling at you and tempting you with food? Bring on the pizza and chocolate! (I'm a stress and emotional eater, so I wouldn't do very well on this show.)

Anyway, if I were the producer of The Biggest Loser, when the team wins a challenge, instead of being granted immunity, I would offer them a trip together of their choice, give them a day or week at a local spa, give them a gift certificate to their favorite clothing store etc. No one would be voted off or eliminated. Only healthy choices would be offered and there would be classes on how to manage temptation and the behaviors that precede binging. The trainers would be the most highly skilled and wouldn't use yelling as a motivator. I suppose if this were the case, it wouldn't be considered "Must See TV."

If there was a way that Steve and I could pick and choose only those channels that we enjoy watching - Fox News, HGTV, TLC, the History Channel, ESPN, etc., we may decide to get cable. Steve misses watching football and I miss watching home improvement shows, but for now we're content with renting movies or television series at the library. It's free and if we don't like the content, we can just turn it off. As for the Biggest Loser, I have to find out who ends up winning! :-) Stay tuned for next week...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to AMAYA! Happy Birthday to Me!

Mommy and Daddy had a birthday party for me on Sunday to celebrate with my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins. Daddy will put some pictures on the computer this week. I had TWO CAKES - one banana and one chocolate. And Grandma Gustafson made pink mints too! There were lots of balloons, a banner, and A LOT of presents!

But today is my ACTUAL birthday! I'm not a baby anymore! My daddy has to work today and then he has to go to school when he comes home from work, so I'm sad that he can't spend the day with me. Mommy said that we'll do something special though! I think I'm going to like birthdays!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Labor Story

Why is it that women love to share their labor stories? When I was pregnant, many of my patients, co-workers, friends, and family shared their experiences and what surprised me is that they remembered even the small details.

A year ago today, I was admitted at 7pm to induce Amaya. I had an appointment the day before and my OB doctor wasn't happy about my blood pressure - it was 140/90 and told me to go home, rest, and come back on the 18th and be re-evaluated. He said, "We just might have a baby this weekend!" How were Steve and I supposed to go home and rest?!? Our original due day was February 2nd. We were looking forward to a February birthday because January is packed full of celebrations already. On the other hand, being 38 weeks pregnant and very uncomfortable, who wouldn't want to deliver a little early.

The next day, my blood pressure was still elevated and our OB said, "Let's have this baby while you and the baby are still strong and healthy." With mild preeclampsia, both of us were at risk of complications and since Amaya's lungs were fully developed and she was just gaining weight, induction here we come!

Steve and I enjoyed our "last lunch" at Victoria's. I literally pigged out, knowing that once the nurse's had me in their clutches, I wouldn't be able to eat much - if at all. We were instructed to come back to Labor and Delivery at 7pm that evening to start the process. Whatever that means... I seriously thought I was going to be given a pill and get a good night's rest and then start with Pitocin (a medication used to induce labor) in the morning. VERY FUNNY! Once I got settled, they started the induction process right away. Amaya was VERY STUBBORN and wasn't ready to make her appearance for quite awhile. Because of my blood pressure, I was strapped down with a blood pressure machine, the baby monitor and IV fluids. This severely limited my mobility and all I wanted to do was WALK! I was able to sit in a rocking chair for awhile, but it was such an act of God to get me untangled and repositioned that it really wasn't worth it. Friday evening quickly turned into Saturday morning with very little progress despite getting the Pitocin started. I had heard scary stories about the Pitocin, but I was plesantly surprised that I wasn't having much pain. I was more frustrated because Amaya was being pokey and the beds were horribly uncomfortable and I really couldn't move. Saturday evening, they allowed me to have an hour off the baby monitor, blood pressure monitor, and Pitocin to go for a walk. Steve and I walked the entire hour and wished that I could continue longer. When we returned back to the room, my water finally broke! Amaya was still taking her sweet time, but at least I knew that in the next 12 hours she would make her appearance one way or the other. I got restarted on the Pitocin and all of those scary stories became a reality. At this point, I didn't require anything for pain and I wanted to hold off as long as possible. I was TERRIFIED of epidurals because of the size of the needle and was afraid that they wouldn't get it in the right spot. I finally requested some Demerol that went into my IV and I probably won't ever ask for it again. It made me feel woozy and dizzy and didn't really touch the pain. A few hours later, I reluctantly agreed to an epidural. One of the hardest things was trying to hold still while they put the catheter in during contractions! Unfortunately, I didn't have any pain relief, and the anethesiologist thought it wasn't quite in the right place. I fully support teaching hospitals, but at this point, I wanted the consultant putting it in again. It wasn't much longer because the nurse anethetist who was assisting was still in the room making sure the epidural was working properly - maybe an hour - and I needed to push! The nurse notified the doctor and was told that I was recently assessed and was still at a 6. The nurse anesthetist strongly encouraged the doctor to come in and reassess me because I was going to push whether or not they wanted me to. Lo and behold - 9! Let's go, right? We're almost there. The HARDEST thing ever was being told NOT TO PUSH, when that's all I wanted to do! I was having a hard time, so the nurse anesthetist helped me breathe through it - both she and Steve were absolute life-savers! Steve says that he could tell that I was really scared - and I WAS! Once everyone was in place - and there were a lot of EVERYONES, we were ready to go. I asked my nurse how long first time moms usually push and she said an average of 3 hours. 3 HOURS!?!? It had already been nearly 31 hours with very little sleep, I told the nurse I wasn't going to make it for another 3 hours. A half an hour later, Amaya was born at 1:58am, Sunday morning the 20th. The cord was wrapped around her neck, so the doctors got a little excited and even more excited when she was doing this squeaky wheeze thing instead of crying. The pediatrician examined her and said she'd be just fine. All the nurses kept saying how little she was - our OB was expecting between 6lbs 14 oz and 7lbs 2oz - she was 5lbz 10oz. That's really tiny - but absolutely precious! We were settled in the postpartum unit around 5am and attempted to get some sleep, but who can sleep with the adrenaline and emotions so high?!? Who can sleep with this new little person looking up at you with great big eyes? Now all Steve and I want is a little more sleep!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Missing Steve...

For the month of January, Steve has had grad school on Tuesday AND Thursday nights. This makes for a very long week for all three of us. Steve has late nights - he usually gets home around 11pm, but last Tuesday he stayed after class and didn't get home until midnight. With the weather being the way it is, I'm too worried about Steve on the road that I can't go to sleep, so we both end up sleep deprived. After Amaya goes to bed I usually work on a puzzle, read, clean, or do my Bible Study. I enjoy this part of the night because I can have some "Me Time." It's the hours before Amaya goes to bed that get long for both of us because we've exhausted all of her toys and books and she desperately needs some quality Daddy Time. Amaya is recovering from her cold, but I'm in the miserable beginning stage. This makes the evening especially LOOOONG. Some nights, my parents have invited me over for dinner which really helps pass the time and other nights Amaya and I go shopping. Again, with the weather being the way it is, it's been too cold to go anywhere. As for tonight, we'll probably go through Amaya's closet and play with the toys that have been on "vacation." Then we'll watch a Baby Einstein DVD, give Amaya a bath, read some stories, eat, and then go to bed. We sure miss Daddy! HURRY HOME!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Cold Out There

"Temperatures are dropping to the coldest levels in nearly a decade out there tonight as lows dip to the mid 20s below zero. Winds will remain in the 10-15mph range tonight which will be strong enough to keep wind chills in the -35 to -50° range tonight through Friday morning. With wind chills this low, frostbite will occur in 10 minutes on exposed skin. Because of the dangerously cold wind chills, the National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Warning from today through Friday morning."

Amaya and I are going to stay cooped up in the house again. All three of us have had bad colds and Amaya is teething on top of that, so we're content just staying at home. Too bad Steve has to go to work and then go to school. I wish they'd cancel his class! They've already cancelled public school and my Bible Study for Thursday. Sounds like it's going to be bad... Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas with the Gustafson Family

Finally - pictures of our time spent with the Gustafson's!

My sister Carol and her family were able to come up from Nebraska to celebrate Christmas with us. I always look forward to a week of shopping with my sister and Mom, going swimming with all the kids, and playing games with them. Just a side note - Joshua absolutely KILLED us at Monopoly this year! I demand a re-match!

Mom spoils us with delicious meals throughout the week and has her freezer (and garage!) stocked with peanut butter balls and kiss cookies! Amaya especially enjoyed the ham, cheese potatoes, lasagna, and baked potato soup.

In previous years, we've had the grandkids open presents first, and then the adults open after they're done and occupied with their new toys. This always seems to work well and keeps the chaos to a minimum.

Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson with the eight grandkids (the Springer's will be adding one more in March!).

Our theme this year should have been the American Girl Christmas. A new American Girl store opened at the Mall of America - a danger to our nieces!

I love this picture! Annika is very carefully adjusting her American Girl's bonnet, Lydia is patiently waiting to open another present, and Jordan and Ben look like they're figuring out a plan for Jordan's Legos.

Grandma and Grandpa gave Amaya a new baby with HAIR! My hair FINALLY gets a break from being pulled and now she can pull her own baby's hair.

Can you say SPOILED?!?

Amaya LOVED all the attention she received from Joshua, Jordan, and Hannah. She especially loved giving them all kisses!

See?!? Amaya's already checking out Hannah's lips!

We had an absolute blast with everyone! We just wish the time hadn't gone so quickly. Amaya enjoys looking at the pictures of all of her cousins on the fridge and points to Joshua, Jordan, and Hannah and says, "Uh? Uh?" Translation: WE MISS YOU!! Thanks for helping to make this a memorable Christmas!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Our work unit has been unusually slow the past few months - whether that's related to the holidays or the economy, we'll never know. Anyway, I already work in two different areas and today I started orienting to the dermatology surgery unit. My primary role in helping the derm surgery area is to do suture removals and wound checks. What I enjoy about being in two areas and now THREE, is that the day goes by quickly. If it's slow in the ultraviolet light room, I can help do a tar smear or wrap someone in wet dressings, or remove sutures! Today the time absolutely FLEW! Usually, I'll have time to e-mail or blog during a break, but today there was no time for a break! I love it when I look at the clock and it's 2:30pm - that means I get to go home! See ya later!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Date night

Last night Steve and I enjoyed a night out - just the two of us. My cousin (actually, my cousin once removed), Jennifer came over last night to baby-sit Amaya. I used to baby-sit Jen, so it's really fun to have her watch Amaya. I'll save Jen the embarrassment and not mention the diaper changing or Casey, but I will say that we have a lot of memories!

Steve and I were able to go out for dinner and a movie. We saw Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. Very funny, a little crude, but I could totally relate to the baby issues - spit up, nursing, etc. And once again, I'm thankful for my family. When the movie ended, we looked at the time and it was only 8:47pm. We told Jen we'd be home around ten, so we went to Coldstone Creamery and shared a bowl of ice cream. (Yes, surprisingly enough, Steve shared - although we were fighting over the last bite!)

Amaya slept in this morning until 8am, so Jen - you must have worn her out last night. Sorry about the explosion - we probably should have paid you extra after I saw her onesie in the bathroom! Thanks again for coming over to play with her!

Surprise from Gerry and Shirley

Steve's extended family was in town this past weekend to attend the memorial service for his 27 year old cousin, Chris, who died unexpectedly in California on December 26th. I was unable to attend the service because I was scheduled to work, so Steve can give further detail if he wishes. Any death is difficult to cope with, but when it happens to someone with so much more life to live, it is truly a tragedy.

While I had never met Chris, I still wanted to attend the service to support Steve and his family - especially his uncle Gerry. I also wanted to reconnect with his other aunts,uncles, and cousins who I haven't seen in awhile and connect with those that I hadn't met yet. I was especially disappointed because I wasn't going to be able to meet Steve's Aunt Shirley as she was visiting from Texas. She doesn't make the trip up here very often - nor have we had the opportunity to go down there.

Yesterday afternoon, one of my co-workers informed me that I had a couple visitors. I'm easily surprised, but rarely shocked and speechless. When I went to the front desk, Gerry and Shirley were waiting for me. I was absolutely overwhelmed with a range of emotions - initial shock of seeing them, joy of finally meeting Shirley, and grief of the loss of Gerry's son. I was a blubbering mess of tears but wanted to freeze that moment. Shirley and her daughter Bethany were leaving shortly to return to Texas, so our time together was limited. Shirley hugged me good-bye for the umpteenth time and we told each other that we didn't know when we were going to be able to hug each other again, but that we loved one another.

The death of a loved one always put things into perspective. You realize how precious life is. You realize how short life is. You realize how much your family means to you. You realize that there are so many things you should have said, should have done, etc. Most of all, I don't want to live a life of regrets - I should have spent more time with my family, I should have said I love you more often, I should have appreciated them, I should have helped them more. Gerry and Shirley gave me a precious gift of love. I hope that I show love to others as they showed their love for me yesterday.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Teething Bites

I didn't get my two front teeth for Christmas, but I'm going to have them for my birthday! The past few weeks, I've been working really hard; chewing on everything, drooling non-stop, etc. My hard work is finally going to pay off. Mommy and Daddy have been holding me down trying to get a peek in my mouth, and finally I let Mommy look in there today. She could see two little slits in my gums with a little bit of my pearly white teeth coming in! I'm so excited! I've managed to chew real people food, but I'm thinking that with four teeth instead of two, I'll be able to eat that much more!


Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas with the Hornings

I'm desperately trying to keep up, but please forgive me when life gets in the way of blogging...

We were able to spend Christmas Eve with Steve's parents and grandparents. (Have I mentioned how fortunate we are to live near family?) While others have to travel hours to visit, we have about a 10 minute drive. We hope that we NEVER take this for granted!

Steve's mom prepared an absolute FEAST! Pork roast, mashed potatoes (a favorite of Amaya's), scalloped corn, jello, rolls (another favorite), and a chocolately oatmeal dessert with red and green M & Ms, but I can't remember the name of it.

Amaya enjoyed opening presents (playing with the bows and boxes). Grandma and Grandpa Horning gave her a dollhouse called the Busy Day Home. It's already become a favorite toy. They also gave her some farm animals so that when she goes over to their house, she'll have more toys to play with.

One of the best presents of all was Steve's. After raking over 20 bags of leaves this fall, Steve's parents gave him - drum roll please - a LEAF-BLOWER/SHREDDER!

The evening was full of a lot of laughs and a lot of surprises. The greatest surprise was one of Ruth Ann's (Steve's Mom) presents from Lowell (Steve's Dad). She had this GIGANTIC box filled with packing peanuts and envelopes. She was instructed to find each envelope and open them in order. A few of the envelopes were difficult for her to find. She opened up mints, gum, chocolates, and her last envelope had a gift certificate to the Rochester Athletic Club! Lowell has this knack for surprising AND disguising gifts!

No Christmas would be complete without pictures by the Christmas Tree. Here are Grandpa and Grandma Horning and Amaya...

...and Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma Struckmann.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Last night, while I was trying to fall asleep, I was trying to think of a creative New Year's Resolution. I'm tired of the - Eat better - Lose weight - Exercise more - Study the Bible more - Resolutions. So... my NEW New Year's Resolution is to have one night free every week where we don't need to go ANYWHERE - just stay home and play with Amaya.

Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!