Friday, December 31, 2010

Birth Year

So, we've got about 3 1/2 hours left in the year that my baby was born. Somehow that just seems impossible. I guess if your kid is born in December, that's not too big of a deal. But, for us mommies-of-March-babies, it's a sad feeling. However, I cannot wait to watch our sweet girl grow in 2011! In honor of the new year, I started a list of the top 11 things about our year. But, I gave up. All that really matters is that no baby on this planet is more loved than our little Brenna Jane, and the blessing of parenthood is one that we couldn't have ever imagined we'd love this much!

Dear 2010,
You were the best year of my life so far. We started out in crazy circumstances - namely a bus stop in the middle of ghetto Atlanta after the Chick-Fil-A bowl. I may not have been too friendly to you during the first 2 months, but you have to understand I wasn't at my best then. However, you gave me the greatest gift - the gift of being a mom. There is no way I'll ever forget all the "firsts" that you gave us. You will forever be the year that changed our family. You gave us quite a scare during your last few weeks with my mom's health, but yet again I'm thankful for the good news there, and pray it continues into the new year. I guess all good things have to come to an end, so we'll be saying "adios" to you shortly. But, don't worry - we way too many pictures to remember you by! Please have a chat with your friend, 2011, and let him know that we're ready for another exciting, blessing-filled year! Thanks for the smiles!
Love, Erin

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

We have finally wrapped up Brenna's first Christmas season. It was a very special time for our family. It was a whirlwind, but it was worth it to spend time with most of our family on both sides. I think Brenna enjoyed getting the extra attention, too.

We started our celebrating on the Wednesday before Christmas (Dec. 22). We did our family gifts that morning here. Although it was definitely all about Brenna, I'll admit that the best gift of the day was my new Kitchen Aid mixer! Brenna loved it, too - she wanted to play with it more than her toys!
Brenna's first Christmas tree (that she'll never remember!)

Brenna with her Tickle-Me-Elmo

Check out the cat keyboard - SO CUTE!

opening her Elmo book with Daddy

She liked the paper more than the gifts!

Brenna's goodies from Santa and Mommy and Daddy. This year Santa brought 3 gifts - the keyboard, the Elmo, and the clothes. I read this idea online - that Santa brings 3 gifts to symbolize the 3 gifts that the wise men brought when Jesus was born. I'm not sure what role Santa will play at our house, but I liked this idea for now. Anybody want to share what they do about Santa?
On Wed. night we headed to Jonathan's parents' house. We spent Thursday with his dad and step-mom, but I didn't get any pictures of that. We did Christmas with his mom and step-dad on Friday morning. I know Bill loved having a baby around - and of course Nana just can't get enough of Brenna.

Papa Bill shared his Hershey bar with me. (Not really, no panicking!)

opening her stocking with Dad

reading her new book with Papa Bill

with Nana on Christmas Eve
We headed to Pine Mountain for the annual Christmas celebration at Jonathan's Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw's. All his cousins were there and it was lots of fun. And I got Bill's name, which always drives him crazy when he doesn't know! And, of course, Brenna was loved on and spoiled again!

hanging out with cousin Carrie and her fiance Eric - Guess who's going to be a flower girl!

snuggle time with Lauren

more new books!!

Inside this box was the cutest John Deere outfit just for Brenna and Papa Bill!
Since they were calling for bad weather, we left from Pine Mountain and went straight to Bristol to my mom's. We got up and did Christmas morning there with mom, Mallory, and Josh.

I think the tissues were her favorite gift! TOO FUNNY!

camo outfit from Uncle Josh

opening Violet

Coolest gift ever! We programmed it, so it knows Brenna's names and some of her "favorite" things.
Then we headed to my aunt and uncle's to celebrate Christmas with my mom's family. We had a great time catching up with everyone and enjoying the pretty snow.

ready for Christmas lunch

with Grandma Abel

She got a Violet Jr., too!

with her pillow pet from Grandma

trying on her new hat from Uncle Kevin

practicing my walking with Nanie and Mal
We had a great weekend, but it was nice to be back home. When I think about the two big gifts my family was given this year - our sweet Brenna and my mom's better-than-expected health report - I am more thankful than ever for the gift of Jesus. I'm excited about next Christmas when Brenna will be more aware of what's going on. I hope you all had a merry Christmas with your families, too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It's been a whirlwind week and a half! I'm going to try to start from the beginning - which was about 5:00 AM on Saturday, December 4.

All 3 of us were sleeping away when my phone rang. I had no clue what time it was, but I knew it was sometime in the middle of the night. It was my sister. My first thought was that her boss, who has been sick for awhile, had passed away. Then I thought, "No she wouldn't wake me up to tell me that." Then I figured something had to be wrong with my mom. These thoughts all happened in about 2 seconds between seeing the caller ID and answering the phone. I can't remember exactly what she said, but it involved her taking mom to the ER because she was having terrible stomach pain. Then she said the word. Tumor.

In my very confused state, tumor meant cancer. I wasn't thinking clearly (obviously - do you at 5 AM?) and couldn't really process what she was saying. I just knew I had to get to Bristol. Mallory told me the tumor was really big and in or on her uterus and that the ER doctor thought they would operate soon. I'm pretty sure I told her not to panic and that it would be okay. All while I was freaking out on the inside and thinking that surely things would not be okay. I hung up with her and just cried and tried to tell Jonathan what she had said, which wasn't easy since I felt like I couldn't breathe and that the room was spinning.

Of all days, our biggest winter storm of the year so far was coming that day. We waited around our house until my sister could give us some more concrete information about the plans, so we'd know what to pack and how long we'd be staying. This proved to be a bad decision. We left sometime after 1:00 PM when we found out they were taking her to surgery immediately - by this point realizing that the tumor looked to be on her ovary instead and was huge. We drove the 2 hours in snow/sleet/rain, but the Lord protected us and kept us as calm as possible.

We got to my mom's and fed Brenna and then went to the hospital. The nurse had called out to tell my sister that they were finished and her diagnosis was borderline. I found this out while we were in the drive-thru of McDonald's on our way to the hospital. That's a story for another, much more light-hearted, day. Mallory and I had no clue what this meant, so we, of course, feared the worse. When we got to the hospital, my sister, brother-in-law, Grandma, 3 uncles, 2 aunts, and my mom's boss and her husband were waiting. Turns out that the surgery wasn't finished and somehow the information got mixed up. We waited until after 6:00, whih put the surgery about the 4 hr. mark I think. Finally, the doctors came out to tell us what they found.

The tumor was on her ovary and it was big - 10 cm. by 14 cm. at least. It was twisted around itself and was gangrenous. The removed the whole tumor, her uterus, ovaries, and omentus. They also took some lymph nodes to run pathology reports on. The doctor said he was pleased with the outcome and felt certain it was what they call a borderline tumor - meaning it had malignant potential but wouldn't exactly be classified as cancerous. He felt she would not need chemo as long as the lymph nodes came back benign. This was almost the best news we could have imagined - right next to a completely benign tumor. Grandma Abel and I went back to recovery to see mom, and she was already joking around with the male nurses. Mom asked me if we knew anything about the results. So, I told her what we knew - even though her anesthesia and pain meds made it a little overwhelming and she just told me, "Wow, that's a lot of information." Ha! She went up to her room and we got to visit with her awhile before leaving her to rest for the rest of the night.

We stayed until Sunday night and she was already feeling much better. She had a rough couple of days after that - with some stomach trouble/nausea caused by an ileus from the surgery. Luckily, though, that resolved itself with no more surgery. I made it back there on Thursday and she was up walking around and drinking some liquids. My sister was awesome and stayed with her almost all day, every day - and still is now that she's home. She left the hospital late on Saturday night - more than 1 week after the original admission (after what was supposed to only be a 4 day stay!). She had to keep her catheter in for another 5 days, but she's feeling better and doing a lot better since going to her own home.

Did I mention that she hasn't had any pain meds since she left the hospital - and didn't take much while she was there. I did NOT get her tolerance for pain, that's for sure! She is going tomorrow to have her cateter and staples removed. I dread that for her, but I feel like she'll feel even better once they're out.

Now, we are waiting. Her surgeon, who specializes in cancer, doesn't feel that they'll have her do chemo. Her regulary gynecologist feels like they will. They found another small tumor on her omentus, which is the cause for his concern. She doesn't have an appointment scheduled with the oncologist yet, but we're hoping that will come soon. My prayer now is that there will be no doubt in the oncologist's mind about what to do. I do not want to see her have to go through chemo. I also don't want any cancer cells left in her body. Good thing I'm not her doctor! Feel free to pray for guidance for the doctors as they make this important decision!

Thank you guys for your prayers. We've seen a lot of answered prayers so far and are so thankful for the good news we've gotten along the way. I never would have imagined things would be this positive and have this great of an outlook when I first answered that phone call on December 4!

Monday, December 6, 2010

9 month stats

We went for Brenna's 9 month appointment on Monday. She's a growing, healthy girl! Here are her 9 month stats:

17 pounds, 4 ounces (17th percentile)

28 inches long (57th percentile)

17.5 inches head circumference (59th percentile)

No shots today! Woohoo! She hates being measured, but was fine otherwise. We won't go back until she's one year old. Whoa!

Friday, December 3, 2010

9 Months Old

Dear Brenna,

Today you are 9 months old. Do you know what that means? It means you've lived outside of me as long as you were inside of me. Of course, that's not taking in to count the extra 7 days that I was pregnant with you past my due date - but I'm trying not to hold that against you! 9 months seems like such a big milestone - you are 3/4 of a year old!

This month has been so fun. You are interacting with us more and more, and Daddy and I just can't get enough of you. Your laugh is by far my favorite sound on earth. I could be in the worst mood ever, and hearing your little giggle would make me smile. I hope you always keep that sweet little laugh. Lately we can make you laugh the most when we blow on your belly, brush something over your face, toss you lightly up in the air, put your paci backwards in our mouth, play pat-a-cake, and - your favorite - PEEK A BOO. You love playing peek-a-boo around corners, over the railings on our stairs, and behind the ottoman in our living room. You just laugh and laugh, and then try to get us!

Just tonight Daddy and I were sitting in the floor playing with you. You did something new - you would stand up holding on to the ottoman and then let go and try to walk to me. I guess you'd say you technically took one step each time, before falling forward into my arms. You are definitely close to being a stander and a walker, Brenna, and that just amazes me. Times like tonight are the ones I try to just soak up and remember. And luckily for us all, Daddy got some of it on video!

You are still a great sleeper - you take 2 naps that are about 1.5-2 hours each. You sleep from about 7:30 PM - 6:30 AM each night. We had a couple of rough nights - but we later found out that you probably had an ear infection. When you were about 8 1/2 months old, I stayed home with you one day - and it was a good thing! When you woke up from your morning nap, I noticed that your ear had lots of "stuff" coming out of it. We headed to the doctor, and found that your eardrum had ruptured. Daddy and I felt so bad for you - but luckily, once you started on your Amoxicillin you seemed to be on the mend quicly. You finished your medicine yesterday, and I'm hoping we'll have no more medical problems for a long time!

Oh, Brenna, you have developed a love for food. Until about a week ago, you ate about 4 oz. two times a day, and mixed in a few Puffs every now and then. But, all of the sudden, you seem to want a lot more. We've uped your two meals to about 6 oz. or so, and added in some snacks. You LOVE your Puffs now - and you've also eaten some yogurt, yogurt melts, baby puff-type crunchies (these look like cheetos!), baby wagon wheels, some crackers and Cheerios, and some solid fruit. I can't believe you are the same kid who never seemed too interested in food. You're outgrowing your texture adversion (I hope!) and it's fun to see you enjoy new foods. You still nurse 3 times a day (when you get up, when I get home from work, and bedtime) and take one bottle while I'm at work. So far your TWO teeth haven't gotten in the way. I loved your gummy little smile - but I love your little toothy grin a whole bunch, too!

You still wear mainly 6 month clothing, and I think you're super cute in your winter clothes - especially your big, warm, puffy coat! You're cloth diapers are going well - except that you've learned to undo the velcro. Luckily, you forget you have this skill most of the time! We'll go for your 9 month appointment on Monday, so I'll have all your stats then. When we went to the doctor about 2 weeks ago - you were 16 pounds, 14 ounces. Maybe you've finally hit the 17 pound mark!

You've definitely taken an interest in your sister - Maggie the dog. You love to pull her hair. She isn't too fond of you, baby girl, but she usually just leaves the room when you get too interested in her. I hope you guys will be playmates when you get a little older. Maggie used to be our baby - so she's still not sure why we let you move in and take over!

We enjoyed our first Thanksgiving together. We spent some time with both sides of our family, and you got LOTS of attention. On Thanksgiving day you finally learned to clap your hands, and OH MY, it's so cute! It's pretty uncoordinated, but that's the best part about it. You do it all the time now - I think you're pretty proud of yourself. You also say "bye bye" and wave (backwards) sometimes when you say it. I think we're going to have to stop saying it randomly just to hear your cute little voice, and only use it when someone is leaving. I want you to understand the meaning of it, too. I look forward to hearing you say more words and hearing what your little voice will sound like. It already melts my heart!

We'll be having our first Christmas as parents this year, and we are so excited to share this season with you. Having you around has added a new spark to our holidays, and we look forward to creating our own family traditions. You filled a void in our lives that we really didn't even know existed. God knew exactly the kind of baby we needed in our family, and you are the most perfect fit for us that I could have ever imagined. We were looking back at your ultrasound pictures the other day and realized that even though we knew we loved you then - we could never have imagined how much you would steal our hearts. I've been blessed with a baby who radiates happiness and the most loving, helpful husband on earth. I just love our family, Brenna.

Here's to the last month of 2010 - the year you were born. I bet it'll be even more fun than the 9 we've shared so far. I love you little Sprout!

Love, Mommy

Monday, November 22, 2010


Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective.

Brenna slept horribly last night. She was up WAY more than she's ever been in a night during her 8.5 months of life. We were all sick. She was crying, and I was grumpy.

Tonight's bedtime started out the same. She would fall asleep fine as I carried her to bed - but woke up and wanted to crawl and stand in her crib. She can't breathe well out of her nose, which makes sucking on her paci difficult as well. She finally fell asleep, but I don't have high hopes for the rest of the night.

But, when I came down here to do some school work on the computer, I ended up on a blog I read every now and then about a little 2 year old with cancer. He died last week and his dad was writing a heartfelt letter about all their emotions right now.

I have a happy, healthy, growing baby girl and I am irritated that she just wants to be held in the middle of the night. Oh, what I'm sure those parents would give to just hold their baby one more time. So, for tonight, I will hold my baby tight and thank God that she's cancer-free. And I will do my best to remember to not take this time for granted.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

8 Months Old!

*She wasn't really feeling the photo shoot this month!*
Dear Brenna,

Happy 8 Month Birthday! I know I usually say it doesn't seem possible that another month has gone by, but this time it actually does. It seems like quite a bit of time has passed since you turned 7 months old. It's a been a busy month for us, and you keep changing all the time.

Physically, you are still developing so quickly. You've perfected crawling and you can sure get around quickly! I love it when I leave you in the living room playing to go do something in the kitchen and then I hear your little hands and knees hitting the floor as you hurry to get to me - and usually pull up on my leg. You're a handful and I just love it! Speaking of which, you are pulling up ALL THE TIME now and you've even let go (on accident) a few times and stood for a few seconds before you grabbed something or fell down. I have a good feeling that you'll be walking by Christmas - you've got pretty good balance already!

You've also stolen our hearts by "talking" so much more. You started by saying "dada" and I think you finally figured out who that refers to. You've now got the "mamamamama" and "babababa" sounds down too, but we're still working on those meanings. You definitely are developing your voice and can connect syllables and everything. I can't wait to really talk with you, but I'll miss your baby jabbers, for sure. You waved for the first time last Saturday to Nana and Maw-Maw - when they left the room Maw-Maw waved bye-bye and you copies her. You don't want to do it again, but we'll keep "practicing". You've also given me a few "kisses" but nothing consistent there yet, either. I don't mind practicing, you are just so kissable!

You're still a great sleeper at night and your nap schedule is about the same, although you've taken 2.5 hour morning naps for the past couple of days. I'm wondering if we are moving to a 4 nursing/bottle schedule instead of our current 5. I was wanting to do this anyway, so it sounds even better if it's initiated by you! You are eating about 1 or 1.5 ounces of babyfood for lunch each day and then another 1.5 ounces or so for dinner. You've added lots of fruits (apples, bananas, peaches, pears, mangos), meats (turkey and chicken), and even some rice cereal to your food experiences. You pretty much like everything but peaches and I think mangos and apples are your favorite. We keep trying to get you to eat some Puffs and/or Yogurt Melts but you just don't like the texture. You like your food really good and pureed - which works for now but you can't eat purees forever! We'll keep working on it - we aren't in a big rush on the food issue anyway. Not to mention you don't have any teeth yet - but we're waiting for them any day now!

You're wearing all of your 3-6 month clothes now and most of them fit really well. Your cloth diapers help out when we need your clothes to fit - it seems like they are too loose when you are wearing a disposable diaper! You've worn a few 6-9 month things (some PJs and 2 pairs of pants), so maybe you're on your way to getting back in the "right" size for your age. I guess that would make shopping in advance a lot easier! You wear shoes every now and then, but you

aren't a huge fan of shoes OR socks. Sorry, baby, but that's the way it goes here in the winter! You are, however, a huge fan of your paci when you're sleepy. I'm okay with that since you don't really need it when you're awake. I may eat my words later, but for now it's a pretty handy tool. Almost the only time you wake us up at night is when you lose it and need some help finding it. We'll take that.

We've had so much fun playing with you and interacting with you - although you seem to prefer to just play with what you want to instead of being bothered by us! You got to go to your first 2 birthday parties - London turned 1 and Grandma Abel turned 80. We also celebrated your first Halloween and you were the cutest little giraffe (and bumblebee) that I've ever seen. We took you to Pine Mountain to visit with your grandparents, great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was a great time and a great memory for Mommy and Daddy to have. Nanie, Aunt Mal, and Grandma Abel came to visit on Halloween Day and enjoyed just spending the day around the house with us. You sure are loved - and maybe a tad bit spoiled! I look forward to all the memories our family will get to make over the next two months - your first Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the time when we get to make traditions for our family and we are really looking forward to sharing these with you.

Here's to another month of growing and experiencing life together. Being your mommy is my proudest accomplishment.

I love you, my little Sprout,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall Family Photos

A few weeks ago, our new friend Mary took some more family photos for us. She does an excellent job and we love working with her. It sure helps that we have the cutest kid on the planet! Enjoy!

Monday, October 18, 2010

London is One and Grandma Abel is Eighty!

Brenna got to go to TWO birthday parties this weekend! She's decided parties are fun and she can't wait to have her own party in a few short months. First, on Saturday, we celebrated London's first birthday. How is it possible that he's a year old already?
London, his mama, his baby "sister" in utero, and his girlfriend on his birthday
not a fan of the messy hands...
Brenna tried to chear him up!
sneaking a taste of icing
opening his gift from Brenna
awww - sharing
chillin' with her future father-in-law
Then, on Saturday we snuck away to Bristol to surprise my grandma at her surprise 80th birthday party. She had NO clue and never suspected that when I called her to wish her happy birthday, that we were really on the way to her party! So fun!
Wasn't my grandma a hottie?
holding great-grandchild #3
This was probably her favorite part of the party - Brenna and Jayla together again!
my uncle Tommy and Aunt Sue, my grandma, my great-aunts Phyllis, Kat, Gay and Nancy, and my great-uncles Jack, Bill, and Pat
4 generations of Abel girls
Happy Birthday Grandma Abel and London! We love you both and we really enjoyed celebrating both of your birthdays this weekend!