Friday, September 26, 2014

Hard Lessons To Learn

As anyone who is a parent knows, it can be incredibly frustrating at times when you watch your child make the same mistakes over and over and over.  You can give them help and guidance each time, but it seems to never make any difference the next.  You all know what I'm talking about, right?

The funny thing is that I find myself doing the same thing with God all the time.  Only I'm the kid that just doesn't get it.  So what lesson have I had a hard time learning?  Prayer.

I wanted to share a couple examples where Jamie and I prayed and what the response was.  The first situation happened more than a month ago when Norah was having a bad night.  It was one of the epic meltdowns that happen from time to time.  Around 30 mins into the tirade, both Jamie and I were worn out.  At that point, I left Norah in her room and I went up to join Jamie in our bedroom.  I looked at her and just said, "We need to pray.  For her, for us, for this whole situation."  We prayed for about 10 mins asking that God would intervene and meet us as parents and Norah as well.  Within seconds of when we said "Amen" Norah walked into our room.  She was completely calm and began asking us questions in an appropriate tone.  She was still sad, but her demeanor was completely changed.

A second similar situation happened about two weeks after the one I just described.  Again, Norah was having a bad day and got completely out of control.  Again, Jamie and I prayed.  We prayed for God to release the anger in Norah's heart.  We prayed for our patience.  We prayed that God would help us figure out a way to get through to Norah.  Again, within a minute or two of us finishing our prayer I went downstairs.  I went into her room and she again was calm and was cleaning up all of her toys and her bed.

I by know means what to give off the impression that God is like a big vending machine and that as soon as you put in your prayers he fixes/answers your prayers.  I'm well aware that sometimes our will does not align with God's and therefore our prayers are not answered.  But my takeaway is that prayer absolutely works!  The way I see it is that Norah would have eventually calmed down in both situations.  If we had not prayed then life would have gone on as normal.  But we did pray, and we saw immediate behavioral change.  The difference is that now Jamie and I turn and give God praise for his love and mercy.

It certainly has been a wake up call for me.  I so easily get choked out with "life" that I never take time to pray.  I rarely stop what I'm doing so I can take a few minutes to pray for my family, or to praise God for the gifts he has bestowed, or anything else for that matter.  I can say that over the past week I have made a much more concerted effort to pray and it has been one of the most fulfilling weeks, spiritually, that I have had in a long, long time.

"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."   - 1 Thessalonians 5

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Earning Our Stripes

I promised a post this week about our other child, the big one, so here it is.  But the problem... where to begin?  

As most of you reading this know, Norah has always been a lot of work.  She is off the charts whenever we do the self assessment "Do You Have a Strong-willed Child" tests.  And because of that, Jamie and I find ourselves physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of almost every day.  I have had a lot of friends tell me over the years that "all kids misbehave" and "all kids act up."  I do believe that.  But I also know, without a doubt, that the frequency and intensity of Norah's flare-ups are well beyond what most people have to deal with on a regular basis.

In no way do I want to come off in this post as a bitter "whoa is me" parent.  Not at all.  Our problems pale in comparison to what many people around the world deal with on a daily basis.  I know personally many family dealing with things far more difficult and painful that us.  Our difficulty with Norah, however, has given us a unique perspective on a lot of things, like: a) parenting is not a right, but a privilege, b) God chose us to be the parents of this amazing girl, c) we cannot raise this child without the help and support of family, friends, and most importantly God.

Next week Jamie and I will be meeting with a therapist to talk through some of the issues we have been dealing with at home.  Norah is an amazing kid on so many levels.  She is so smart and advanced in just about everything that you can easily forget that she is only 5 years old.  We dealt with a lot of her anger issues when she was 2 and 3 years old, but then she was doing pretty well for a long time.  Over the past 2 months of so the anger has come back.  As her parents, we desperately want to help her, that's why we are seeking out help.  We need some tools that we can use and tools that we can give her to help her cope.  Right now she has no self-control and no ability to manage herself.  Just this past week she has gone into epic meltdown three times.  Each time she gets sent to her room where she overturns her beds, rips all the sheets off, and throws anything she can get her hands on across her room.  It is my prayer that at some point in the future I can post back how situations like that don't happen anymore, but that even though she gets angry and upset, she has figured out ways to channel it in a productive manner.

We do have good days too, they are not all bad.  And it is probably the fact that the bad days are so bad that it makes the good days that much better.  On a good day Norah listens well, helps with chores and activities around the house, and is a second mom to Ethan.  She loves: swimming, tennis, riding bike, gymnastics, playing games with mom and dad, and running.  In fact, she won all 6 events that she participated in at the Rochester All-Comers Track Meet.

It is a journey.  Right now it seems like we are experiencing lots of road blocks and car trouble.  But ultimately, don't those make the road trip better in the end?  We certainly believe so and pray that with God's help we can look back on these days and say "those were the good old days."

I believe I can fly!!!

Sylvan Lake with cousin Ellie

First day of racing

Second day of racing

Camping with brother

at Como Zoo

showing off the new kicks

With grandpa and the cousins

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Still Here

So its been way too long since I've last blogged about how things have been going.  Like everyone else who has young kids in the house, life gets busy and before you know it, not just months, but YEARS have vanished!  The last thing I want is to see Norah or Ethan heading off to their first year of college and realizing I don't remember half the good (and bad) things that happened.  So consider this my attempt to get back into regularly blogging about what goes on in our mundane lives.

Since up to this point, most of blog has centered around Norah, I want to take time to talk about Ethan.  This little guy has been an absolute blessing to us in so many ways.  So many times we flippantly use phrases like "gifts from God" or "mercies from Heaven," but I assure you that when we use those phrases to describe our son it is because they are appropriate and no other description would do.

Please don't misunderstand when I say that Norah was an extremely difficult toddler.  We love her to death, and many days, it felt like we might die.  I honestly believe that God in His infinite knowledge, and infinite mercy, knew we would not do well if we had another child with the same temperament.  So he blessed us with Ethan.  In just about every way he is different from his sister.  Sure, they have different skin color, but that's literally just scratching the surface.  Ethan sleeps through the night, Norah never did until she was almost three.  Ethan never took a pacifier, Norah... had one until she was three.  Ethan takes one nap a day, Norah took two at his age.  Ethan is completely content playing by himself, Norah at that age always had to be entertained.  Ethan can be left alone in a room,  but if you did that with Norah something would end up damaged or destroyed.

The really amazing thing to see is that even though they are so different, they are so much alike.  Mainly because Ethan just absolutely adores his big sister.  He mimics everything!  That is why I think he talks so well as (an adjusted age) 2 year old.  He hears and sees his sister talking and he does everything she does.  It is so fun as a parent to see them playing together and loving on each other.  He is such a tender soul, he is always giving Norah hugs and kisses, and luckily for us, to mom and dad as well.  And he loves his grandparents.  Its so fun to see him love on them too.  He loves his "Memaw" (Grandma Arlander) and "Gamma" (Grandma Miller), but its even better hearing him call out their names and give them hugs and kisses.

Now that he is walking and talking, we are entering a new fun stage in life.  We still need to watch him when we do most things, but now that he can communicate with us, life is getting much easier.  For example, this past weekend as I was packing the camper I was constantly coming in and out of the house.  Ethan just wanted to be a part of it, so he kept following me in and out.  At first I was getting frustrated because it was slowing me down.  But as I stood there holding the door for him each time he'd walk in say "Thank you Daddy!"  Seriously, how can you be opposed to that?

I will try and make another update here shortly and focus on Norah.  But in the meantime, here are some pictures of the little guy.

 These screws aren't going to screw themselves

 Loving on the baby goat

 Hey, lets get this train moving!

 He wants to be like Norah

 How do you know if you've had a good day camping?  Well, you'll look like this obviously.


His favorite doggy

I'm thirsty, lets get some milk

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week of Firsts

So its been over a year since I've lasted blogged.  I think its time to get back into the swing of things.  I figured this was as good a week as any since we've had a lot of firsts happening this week.  We'll start with Norah.

Norah got grounded for the first time last Friday :-(  It all started with her and the neighbor boy playing in the large mud hole in our front yard where we had ripped out some shrubs from last year.  The fact that she had done it before and got in trouble for it was strike one against her.  Then she proceeded to come inside and yell at Jamie and throw a tantrum, including swinging a belt at Jamie.  The metal buckle slammed Jamie in the hand and left quite a mark.  So, since she's four years old, for four days she lost the right to use the iPad, the right to watch any cartoons, and the killer, the right to play with any of her friends.  I know it seems like punishment for her, but spending more time with mom and dad reading should not seem like a punishment.  On the brighter side, on Monday Norah whistled for the first time!  It was by accident when she was trying to blow on Ethan's face, but it was a definite whistle, I heard it!

As for Ethan, he has lot's of new things happening every day it seems.  He is pulling himself up on everything these days.  On Monday he successfully moved, while standing, from the edge of the tub to the toilet.  Gross I know, but he moved from one object to the other, this is big news in our house!  He also is babbling all the time, and I'm convinced that he said "dad-da" yesterday.  I'll keep trying to confirm that in the ensuing days.

Memorial Day Weekend


It's been a big weekend here for the Miller's. We have Grandma Miller here from Indiana visiting for the holiday weekend and Norah has just had a blast with her. It is such a treat for us when we have family chose to make their vacation here to MN to visit.  Norah just loves her grandma's and grandpa's, aunt and uncles, and most of all her cousins!!!

Our first afternoon entailed taking grandma up to the hospital to see Ethan. We also visited with grandma Arlander too. Norah came home and to her excitement a new balance bike arrived. Daddy put it together and Norah was off riding it up and down the street. Unstoppable :)

Saturday we stayed around the house for the most part. The morning was a little cool but we hung outside with the neighbors for a while  and talked while kids rode bikes. Then the storms hit and it rained for hours. So the girls decided to go shopping for a little while. Once the storm lifted we headed to a picnic with Ryan's co-workers. We ate good food and Norah played with her friends. Norah has had a blast playing lots of Candyland and watching movies at night with grandma.

We had a busy Sunday taking grandma to church, McDonald's, Oxbow, DQ, swimming and finally Norah got to send the evening with grandma by herself. Of course the little lady could not keep her eyes open pass 730pm:) Ahhh these are the moments that make memories.

Not sure what our last day will hold for us with grandma here but no matter what it will be fun!!!

Beware the Mud Rocket


Tonight it became official.  Me being Ethan's dad that is.  We all went as a family tonight to see him and we got there right as he was ready to be fed.  The SOP for feedings is to first change his diaper.  So I volunteered for the job.  I got him undressed and took off his diaper.  As I started to wipe him down he let out a man sized fart.  I kind of laughed toward the nurse and said "that's my boy!"  I didn't even get those words out of my mouth when my left hand and the inside of "box" was blasted with what can only be described as explosive pooh.  It was everywhere.  So there you have it, I declare it official as soon as you get slimed like that.

On a little bit better note, he continues to get bigger.  It may not seem like much because we are always talking about grams, but he's been consistently putting on 20-50grams a day.  In fact, today the nurse weighed him right before we fed (after I was baptized) and he weighed in at 1670 grams, or 3lbs 10.9ozs. After his feeding tonight the nurse weighed him again, this time he was 1710 grams, or 3lbs 12.3ozs.

The nurse also mentioned that he had one "spell" early this morning where he dropped his heart rate and O2 way day and need a little help getting back up.  He has anywhere from 3-7 of these daily, but he usually brings himself out of them.  Last night he didn't.  But they weren't too worried and in fact increased his caffeine intake to mitigate it.  They said that because he is actually growing so fast, he needs the extra caffeine to help with the spells.

Paci Time


Tonight we went to go see Ethan as a family.  I got to hold the little man for the night and enjoyed every minute of it.  He continues to grow bigger every day.  Sometimes its only 10 grams, but its bigger none the less.  The big news today was that he took a paci for the first time for us.  It took about 10 mins to get him warmed up to it, but then he took it and sucked on it for about a half an hour.  The great thing is that he was able to keep his oxygen level up while he had it in his mouth.

Three Pound Party


Yesterday we all went up to see Ethan in the afternoon for a few hours.  The big goal of the day was for us to help give Ethan a bath.  I got to man the camera and Jamie helped our nurse, Andrea, put Ethan in his tub and started the bath process.  First, you swaddle him and blankets and then drop him right into the water.  After that you:

  1. Wash his face first before putting any soap in the tub
  2. You then wash each arm and leg individually, leaving the others wrapped in the blankets while they are not getting washed
  3. Finish by washing his head.
  4. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
But giving the bath wasn't even the biggest news of the day.  He packed on 3 ozs yesterday, putting him in at 3lb 1.2 oz.  Hopefully he can continue to put on weight like this.  Our goal is that he gets to 5lbs before we leave the hospital so we don't have to go and buy new premie car seats for him.  Come on Ethan, you can do it!!!

Out of the NICU


This afternoon Jamie dropped off Norah with Dacia so she could go see Ethan and spend some time with him.  But when she got to the NICU, surprise, he wasn't there.  He was moved down to Methodist.  He was doing so well, combined with the fact that there were a lot of new babies that needed to be in the NICU, they went ahead and moved him.  So Jamie had to hop on the shuttle and come downtown.

Now that we are at Methodist we have our own room which is soooooo much nicer.  The NICU nurses were amazing, but its just a lot more chaotic.  Now that we have our own room its quieter and much more relaxing.

On the medical front for Ethan, he got his oxygen tubes taken out of his nose today and is breathing completely on his own today.  Also, they are continuing to turn down the temperature inside his little incubator.  On Wednesday I know it was still set at 30.2°C.  Today they have it set down at 28.3°C.  All good signs.  He weighed in at 2lb, 14.8oz.  I still have no idea how long he is, one of these days I'll remember ask.

One other thing of note, I got to change my first of many, many diapers.  Good times.

Day 8 Update


Today was a big day for Ethan.  He was able to get the last line that was running through his belly button taken out.  He was getting TPN through that line to supplement his milk feedings.  So its good that they were able to take that out so he lowers his chance of getting an infection.  He had the UV light pad removed today. 

He also weighed in at 2lb 11oz's, up from yesterday so that is good.  When I sat with him yesterday they were feeding him 11mL of milk every two hours.  Today they were up to 14mL when I was sitting with him.  Its just incredible to think what tiny amounts we are talking about, but it makes such a big difference for him.  Our next goal is to get him eating 15.5mL every feeding so that he can get out of his incubator box and into a bassinet.

While I was sitting with him tonight I talked with the mom in the next station over.  Their daughter has been in the NICU for 13 weeks.  She was born at 24 weeks.  She was mentioning all the things that they have had to deal with and all the complications.  It made me realize how lucky we are with Ethan and how well he is doing.  She even mentioned tonight that "he's strong, he's a fighter.  We never hear alarms going off his machines."  And its true.  In the 4 days that we've been there I think I've only ever heard any of his monitors beep, and that was because the nurse pulled one of the cords out by accident.

One Crazy Week


Well, this has without a doubt been one of the most eventful weeks of my life.  It all started last week when I was contacted by Microsoft, wondering if I was interested in interviewing.  I'm always open to hearing what other places have to say, so I said sure.  The only catch is that the jobs they were interviewing for are in Redmond, WA.  So Jamie has been living in denial ever since.  Until I get an offer and we actually have to choose, she will continue to live in her happy place.  My interview was on Wednesday, 4/25.  Soooo, I should know more by next week sometime.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.  On Monday, 4/23, I got a call from New Life.  They informed me that there was a baby born on Friday, April 20th, and was currently in the NICU at St Mary's Hospital.  It was a boy and we were on the top of the list, so if we said yes, he would be ours.  All we knew was that the baby was born at 29 weeks, weighed under 3 lbs, and would be in the NICU for 6-8 weeks.  So here we are, 2 days away from my Microsoft interview, with this laid on us. 

Should we adopt?  How will this affect the interview?  If we do adopt, should we really move halfway across the country with a brand new baby?  Will choosing the baby essentially kill my chance at an offer from Microsoft?  Just a few of the 100 or so questions that went flying through our minds.

On Tuesday, April 24th, my birthday, we did decide to say yes to the adoption.  We both felt completely overwhelmed, but we decided to take a deep breath and make the first decision that was in our control.  Yes or no on the adoption?  In the end it was a no brainer.  We both felt good about the decision and were confident this was the right decision.  Whatever happens with the potential job move is of secondary importance. 

So this past Thursday we got to meet our son for the first time.  It was amazing!  We named him Ethan James.  We both spent about 2 hours with him on Thursday afternoon.  On Friday Jamie and I went up over lunch to see him and she ended up holding him for about 4 hours, just getting some good mommy/son bonding time.  Then today she went again and held him for about an hour before her shift at the hospital.  When she got off, Norah and I met her in the NICU so Norah could meet Ethan for the first.  They then left and I got to sit with the little man for about 2 hours. 

This post is running long, so I will post more details about his condition tomorrow.  In the meantime, you can get your fix of pictures by visiting the Shutterfly website I created.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Norah Turned 3 and Got New Parents

Well, Norah turned 3 a couple of weeks ago and had a couple of her friends over for a birthday party.  Hands down, worst birthday party ever.  Norah was an absolute monster the entire time.  She was being rude, disrespectful, and not playing nicely with her friends.  When everyone tried to sing Happy Birthday to her she actually got mad and started yelling at them.  Awesome.  Jamie mentioned afterward that if she had been anywhere else she would have just packed her up and left.

In a side story, Jamie and I are going through Effective Parenting in a Defective World with our small group.  We are only a couple sessions in, but already its been extremely impactful.  The biggest take away for me is that it does not so much matter what we say, its what we do.  The values that get instilled into our children come from them watching what we value.  If we say reading the Bible is important, but they never see us reading it, do we really expect them to grow valuing God's word?  Not likely.  And that goes for anything.  So Jamie and I had to take stock of how we were living and ask, what values are we instilling in Norah.  Unfortunately it was a lot of frustration, impatience, selfishness, etc.  You get the idea, everything NOT found in the fruits of the spirit.

So back to the birthday party.  I was very convicted that her attitude at the party was a learned behavior from watching us.  I'm in no way discounting original sin, even if we were perfect parents the sin nature would be evident in Norah's life.  However, the scary thing was that most of her less than flattering tendencies were learned from her parents.  So we have made a choice to stop modeling the fruit of darkness, but rather the fruits of the spirit.  Its only been a few weeks, but even in this short amount of time I think I can see a huge difference in her attitude.

Now, what would a blog post be without some pictures.... so here you go.  I'll add more as soon as I can find the cord to get the photos off the camera.

Norah waiting for the Holiday was cold!

Norah and Daddy eating Ramen noodles, Lady and the Tramp style

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Year 2011 in Review

Jamie just uploaded about 80 pictures onto our Shutterfly account for everyone who is interested. You can go to Shutterfly ( to see them.  Most of these pictures are within the last 3 or 4 months, from Labor Day up through our New Year's Eve party.  You'll need to enter the password "blessing" in order to get to the pictures. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hitting the Road and Learning to Pee

Norah and I headed back (without Jamie) for the week before Christmas since Melanie and her family were coming back as well.  I knew we would have a lot of fun, but I was a little worried about how things would go without Jamie's help.

Norah is a trooper and the driving portion, both there and back, was great.  Normally we don't let her watch DVD's the whole trip, but since I was flying solo I bent the rules.  Jamie gave Norah a pair of new pink headphones to wear while watching her movies, and man, what a blessing.  It spared me from 9 hours of The Wiggles, Dora, and Barbie movies!!!

The other big experiment while we were gone was potty training.  Norah's friend Hannah (who is potty trained) came over two days before we left and got Norah excited to start using the restroom.  FINALLY!  The problem, we threw a loooong car ride in a couple days later, so all progress made in those 2 days went out the window.  But when we got to Indiana we tried again.  By the last day we were at my dad's she was going by herself, without even telling me.  I think auntie Melanie had a lot to do with that because she kept promising Norah all kinds of rewards and treats if she kept her underwear dry.  We did have a few accidents here and there, but I think we are finally to the point where we won't have to buy any more diapers!  So I left with an untrained child and returned with a potty trained child... I'd say my wife owes me huge!

Norah in her Christmas dress

Lydia is really enjoying the Barbie movie, so much so she can't even smile

Ripping into the presents

Hamming it up before bed