Sunday, June 29, 2014

// B E A F A M I L Y //

You may remember how this last Monday was a very special Monday. Well....the whole week ended up being a very special week.

Alex was really, really busy, between work and school every minute of every day was spoken for. (Besides the precious few hours of sleep he got each night) He's at school from 1:00-9:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This week he had a test on both days. And as fate would have it, double test week happened to fall on one of the busiest work weeks he has had in....ever. He stayed home Tuesday morning to study but still had clocked in over 50 hours by Friday. All this is to say that whatever hardships I may have endured this week, they were nothing compared to what Alex went through.

Actually, apart from not really seeing Alex, my week was not too bad. Like I've mentioned before, Johnny is, for the most part, a pretty happy guy. It just can be isolating being alone with a baby when your hubby is gone for 12, 13 ,14...17 hours straight. We're used to functioning as a whole family and so these unusually busy times where that gets interrupted are hard and tiring.  Alex actually got out of class early both days this week! (PTL) (praise the Lord) And even though he had to lock himself away in a different room to study, just knowing he was in the house gave me so much peace of mind.

Anyway, we're realizing that we need to be intentional about just being a family, especially when things get crazy busy. So today we carved out a few hours in the afternoon to go for a walk down by the river and to use a gift card Johnny received to pick out some books. It was only 3 hours, but it was like being on vacation. We were completely cheered, revived, replenished, and ready to begin a new (and hopefully less stressful) week.

Here are some photos from our afternoon.

The Mighty Mississippi. See those trees sticking out of the water? Well, according to Google maps,
they're usually sitting on a little island.

like this!
 We've had tons of rain so the river's water lever is really high. 

Johnny is too cool for school

"Mom, I only like wearing YOUR sunglasses!" of course. 

attempting a family-selfie

thanks passer-by who took a picture for us!

Johnny had fun in the book store knocking things onto the ground.

So, there are painted pianos all over St. Paul. Johnny's best buddy Iggy played a different one not that long ago.

20 years of playing the piano and I have nothing memorized. sigh.
Next time I encounter a piano on the street I will be ready!

Monday, June 23, 2014

// M O M C O N F E S S I O N V O L 5 :t h e m o n d a y e d i t i o n //

It's just been one of those days.

You know, the kind where you stayed up too late the night before and didn't sleep well because the baby tossed and turned and nursed all night. 

The kind where it's super humid out, and you haven't gotten the AC units out of the attic yet so you're sticky and slow and lethargic. 

It's the kind of day where the baby is crabby because he took a poor morning nap, so you try to do something fun with him in the afternoon to distract him from his crabbiness. And after 45 minutes of setting up his water table outside only to have him play with it for 5 minutes before melting down into a puddle of tiredness you get everything inside, get the baby upstairs to bed, nurse him, get very sleepy yourself, think "this will be good, now we can both take a little rest", after 10 minutes of nursing the baby is completely revived and happy and ready to go again. 

The kind of day where hubby had to get up really early for work and won't be home until at least 7:00 and it's just not working to be in the house anymore so you decide to pack up the baby and go get some frozen yogurt. You change his diaper (so many poopy diapers today) get the diaper bag packed, get onto the porch, lock the door knob, pull the door shut and 1/8 of a second later realize you have locked your house key in the house. You took it off your key chain to leave it for the babysitter. You never put it back on.  You can picture exactly where it sits on the bookshelf....

Lucky for you, you do have your car key and can still go get frozen yogurt and can kill time in your favorite store, where they are having a sale, so you impulse-buy this scarf.....

and these Babiators for the baby.....

and that, along with the fro-yo, helps you feel a little bit better.

Yeah, it's been one of those days.

But the hubby did eventually get home with the house key, and we had caprese for dinner (one of my very favorites) And the upside to having bad naps during the day is that Johnny was asleep by 8:00, which is the earliest he's gone to bed in a couple of weeks. So I can blog while it's still light out, keep the laundry going and (hopefully) be asleep by 10:00!

No matter how draining the day is, my frustrations and stony-heartedness always melt into warm, fleshy, wildly beating anthems of love at the sight of my sleeping babe. And although this time that I have to myself while he sleeps in his crib is so refreshing and so necessary, I secretly look forward to that time around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning when he joins us in our bed and I get the snuggle with him, and get kicked in the bladder by him, until the morning comes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

// 7 Q U I C K T A K E S V O L 6 //

linking up with Team Whitaker this week for some Quick Takes


We all know that Minnesotans like to talk about the weather, whatever the weather, so here goes: It's monsoon season here in Minnesota. It rained all week, almost every day and I'm pretty sure every night. There has been flash flooding, states of emergency declared in some parts, National Guard members deployed. Our neighborhood is not prone to flooding so for us the greatest inconvenience has been that the grass is growing super fast while our lawn mower is broken. 

The lawn mower has actually been broken for several weeks now. Since our car is not big enough to transport it, we can't take it to a repair shop until we coordinate with our parents to borrow a bigger car. Our neighbors are very happy to let us use their mower in the mean time but whenever Alex is home they are not, or when they are it's been raining. And so, the grass has not been cut since before Johnny's birthday party. Yes, that's our house with grass up to your knees. And if it doesn't get cut this weekend there will be a state of emergency declared in the Coyne household. 


Thankfully the rain cleared up just in time for Back to the Fifties! For non- MN folks, Back to the Fifties is a big classic car show held at the State Fair Grounds every year the weekend after Father's Day. People drive in from all over the place in their fancy (and not so fancy) classic cars. You can see them coming into town on the interstates the whole week leading up. And you'll spot them on just about every street in St. Paul the weekend of.  Snelling is the main drag, everyone drives up and down showing off their cars and checking out all the other cars. People set out lawn chairs along the boulevards and watch them all go by. My dad's office is on Snelling not too far from the fairgrounds, right in the thick of things. So every year we grill out on the front lawn and watch the cars.  It's very Minnesotan, a little bit red-necked, and we love it.

Johnny looooves watching cars!


Do you like yogurt? If you do you should hop over to my friend Susanna's blog and try her slow cooker yogurt recipe. We had been using a different recipe which requires one to stand over a pot of milk with a thermometer and actively watch and wait. Susanna's recipe is great because between steps you don't have to pay any attention to it. It's easy and makes a  large quantity of delicious yogurt. 


Thanks to everyone who prayed for Johnny last week. His appointment went really well! They did four x-rays, two of his neck and two of his entire spine, all done while he was seating upright. Of course babies don't sit still and hate being manipulated so getting the actual x-rays was the hardest part of the appointment.  But the orthopedic surgeon determined that at this point in time, everything is stable! They will continue to monitor Johnny with x-rays every six months or so. There's always a chance that things could get worse, but at this point there's no reason for concern and it's likely that as Johnny's muscles continue to grow they will help his spine to straighten. We are very thankful for the good prognosis and continue to pray that Johnny will not need any more surgeries. 


I have to brag about my friends a little bit. Remember that last blog post I wrote about how Tuesdays and Thursdays are awful because Alex has class and is gone all day and I'm alone with Johnny all day? Well, I have a couple of friends who have been there and done that when it comes to having husbands in school while working full time and one of them (you know who you are) was so kind as to have Johnny and me, and a bunch of other friends, over for dinner last night. It was so great to get out of my house and enjoy the company of good friends. And it just reaffirmed what I already  believe about the importance of women supporting other women.

I am not a feminist in the typical sense, but I am a feminist of sorts in that I am very proud of my identity as a woman, I think women have unique strengths, and struggles, and I think it is beautiful when women help women. We need the support of our husbands firstly, and the support of family is very important as well, but there is something so special about women, mothers in particular, identifying with one another, commiserating together (over a bottle of wine) when things are tough, and rejoicing together (also over a bottle of wine) when we have our triumphs. I was ministered to by you, my dear friends, so thank you!


Alex and I have been in St. Paul for the entirety of our dating and married relationship. During that time we have had different friends move away for jobs or schooling. We've also had friends come back after being out of the state for a few years.  Last week we welcomed back some very dear friends who had been in the Pittsburgh area for the last 4 years for med school, and now are happily back here for residency. It's amazing to me how quickly those 4 years went by. It's so good to have them in the same city again and we celebrated their home coming with a trip to Marvel Bar, which for those who have never been, is basically like this:

And then just today I said good bye to a very old and dear friend who is moving for Austin with her husband where they will be starting some new adventures. It's sad to see friends go, but we know from experience that time goes racing by, often without our notice. We'll see you again soon, dear friends!

And lastly (for lack of other news) Johnny's favorite summer food: watermelon!

for more Quick Takes visit Team Whitaker

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

// T U E S & T H U R S //

Our Summer schedules are in full swing.  I have started summer lessons and Alex is back in class. This summer is going to be a doozy for him.  He has class every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00-9:00. He still goes in to work before that so that means he is gone from about 6:30 am to 9:30 pm. That also means that I play single mom on those days.  We don't like Tuesdays and Thursdays around here.  For Alex it's stressful and tiring. For me it's isolating and time drags by. Especially in the evenings as bed time approaches and I miss my parenting teammate.  The world around begins to quiet down but I am restless until I get the text, "I'm leaving class now!" Then I can relax. Needless to say it's hard for both of us. I admire Alex so much for his hard work, and I know it will all be worth it. 

Thankfully, Johnny has been really good lately. The one-year-mark has brought a very happy little guy. So what are already hard long days could be a lot harder and a lot longer, but haven't been!  The only really bad thing Johnny did today was dunk his hand in my coffee mug and then grab my white shirt. I was really setting myself up for failure there by holding him and my coffee mug with the same arm. And I should know by now that I just can't wear white shirts anymore. 

I made a little smash cake for Johnny's birthday party, put in the the freezer, then forgot about it. Johnny just had a slice from the big cake at his party. So today I pulled it out of the freezer, frosted it, and Alex and I had it along with a little white wine to celebrate the end of another long day. 

Fulfilling a dream today: letting Johnny run around in nothing but a t-shirt and diaper.  When he had  his colostomy we had to keep him in a onesie or he would rip his bag right off his belly.  It was the middle of winter when his colostomy was taken down so he stayed pretty bundled.  Now it's summer and we are embracing the diaper and t-shirt look!

I can't resist his little butt cheeks and I couldn't resist sharing these.  I'm sorry Johnny of the future, I know you'll hate me for this! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

// U P D A T E //

I think there is some quote about how having kids can be scary because your heart goes walking around outside of your body.... Has anyone heard this? Do you know what I'm talking about?

Anyway, I've been thinking about that a lot, cheesy as it is, because it's kind of true. You bring a new little person into the world, who is very much a part of you, but you can't always control how the world treats them. You want to protect them and ensure that no evil will ever befall them and that they will have a good and fulfilling life. But some things are out of your control, and things don't always go the way you planned. 

I've been thinking about that a lot too. Johnny is one now. We've had him for and year and it's been great and he is amazing and brings so much joy. But this past year has also been the hardest, scariest year of my life! We have experienced things that I never imagined I would go through. We are a strong and united family because of it, but that has not come without pain. 

I have been thinking about how before Johnny was born we prayed everyday that we would have a healthy baby. And then our baby was born with some pretty major birth defects. I'll never know why God didn't answer our prayer. Or rather, answered differently than what we wanted. But I know that for whatever reason (to grow, to learn, to give Him glory) he has allowed us pass through great difficulties, and what's more, has been faithful, has been a comforter, and has provided strength when we needed it most. And here we are, a year later, happy, enjoying good health, enjoying our baby. 

I like to be in control and I wish I could make it so that Johnny doesn't have to suffer any more in his life. He's been through so much, and doing so well. But there are still some unknowns in regards to his health. Namely his neck. I think I have mentioned before, back in December we were told that the top two vertebrae in his neck didn't fuse together properly, thus leaving a week joint which caused his head to tilt to the left. We were told that worse case cinario, Johnny would heed surgery to fuse that joint together, correcting the head tilt, but leaving him with a pretty limited range of motion in his neck. Whether or not he would need this was a complete unknown, and we were left to wait and see how his bones would continue to grow. 

Six months have gone by since then, and it's time for some follow up X-rays. These will be done Wednesday morning. His neck looks so much better than it did, and I can't help but feel great optimism. (Which I am always hesitant to do.) If you are reading this will you please join Alex and me in praying for great results, and that no surgery would be required? 

I know that The Lord is good, that He is in control, and that I am not. And whatever happens, He will see us through. 


Sunday, June 1, 2014

// O N E //


Now you are one! It feels like we were just bringing you home from the hospital and like we've always had you all at the same time. Time passes, each day is so full, and this first year has gone by leaving so many memories in it's wake. Some moments and feelings are preserved so perfectly in my mind, etched in deeply by extreme emotions. Other things linger only as an impression. But I know I will never forget this first year we have had with you.  

Now you are big! Well, you've always been big; 9 lbs 7 oz put you at the 90th percentile right from the start. But now you are "sooooo big!" (as we say in your favorite game.) You're almost 22 lbs, and my arms are getting a good workout from toting you all over the place. You're long too,  I notice this most when you are nursing and your body is stretched out across my lap. You're active. You crawl and cruise all over the house. We can tell you want to be walking on your own, and it's only a matter of time as you become more confident and more daring. You love to play with toys and go for walks and look at the world around you.

You are brave. You have been through more in your first year of life than most people go through their whole lives through. I think about you in your incubator just shortly after you were born.  You didn't cry. You just looked at us with your deep eyes. Everyone who came to see you said you were brave. I've learned to be brave too. I know that you won't remember any of these things, (and I'm so thankful for that) but I want you to know that you were brave and I hope that you carry that bravery with you as you grow up.

You have a will. And you exert it. Often! You know what you want and you will fight and wrestle and wiggle to get at that power strip/laptop/toilet/stack of mail/pile of laundry. I know that you can't tell right from wrong yet. But I have this growing suspicion that you can tell what we don't want you to do and that you take some secret delight in doing it.

Example 1: Moving the TV. You love to stand between the wall and the TV stand and push the TV in any direction you can manage. We always tell you to stop and quickly take you away from there because it's dangerous! But that only makes you want to go back for more. You'll put your little hand up on the TV and then look over at us and smile!

Example 2: Diaper Changes. You always try to escape the diaper changes. I put you on the floor on your back and you quickly roll over and crawl away. I hear you squealing as you go and if I happen to catch a glimpse of your face you are smiling! 

You are a mama's boy. You want to be held and cuddled and nursed. You sleep best when you sleep with me. You give me sweet hugs and kisses. You've always been a mama's boy and I hope you always will be. 

Every day you are a blessing.

Every day you make me smile and laugh.

Every day I thank The Lord for entrusting me with you,.

Happy First Birthday, Johnny.  I love you!

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