Thursday, December 1, 2011

The next American Idol

Hi all,
It has been so long since I've posted to this blog!  Everyone probably gave up on me, and stopped following it :)  That's okay though...

Everything has been going well.  Jillian just turned 2, and we had a wonderful birthday party for her.  She 'gets' her birthday now... even 2 weeks later, we'll still catch her singing "Happy Birthday Dear Jillian", and when it's someone else's birthday at school, she insists that it's really "Jillian's birthday".  So fun!

Over the past couple months or so, she's started singing.  Listening to her little voice singing is really amazing, and I never get tired of listening.  Her first song was "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (also known in our house as "Twinkle Star"), and she has progressed to "Happy Birthday", "the ABC song", "Mr Turkey", and her newest one "Bells are ringing" (practicing for her Christmas program at school).  The trouble is, I can never get her on video!  Whenever you want to take a picture of her, or a video, she wants to 'see it' - meaning, she wants to look at the screen on the back of the camera to see what you are seeing.  I've tried to explain that I need to take her picture first before she can 'see it', but she doesn't get it yet.  After 2 months however, I have FINALLY gotten her on video singing Twinkle Star.  The original video is 4 minutes long of her stopping and starting, and wanting to 'see it' over and over again, but the last minute and 20 seconds were golden.  Look out American Idol 2026!

So, here you go: Jillian Hatfield with her rousing rendition of "Twinkle Star"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A glimpse of the past... about pigtails

I recently got together with some of my extended family at my Aunt BJ and Uncle Bob's 40th anniversary party.  Every time I see my aunt, she shares with me a little story or tidbit about my grandmother or grandfather (Muzzy and Pop), my dad and uncle's parents. Both of them have passed away, Pop in 1986 and Muzzy just recently in 2008.  I love these little tidbits that give me a glimpse of the past.  It will usually be about some interesting trinket they found while going through Muzzy's house, or one of their little quirks or sayings, or just about an event that happened a long time ago.  The last time I saw her, she gave me a small clay pitcher that she said they found in Muzzy's house just before it was torn down (hidden behind the curtains of the laundry room window).  Evidently there were two - one that my dad had made, and one that my uncle had made when they were kids.  I'm so happy to have that little pitcher sitting on my mantle :)

So this time, at the anniversary party, Aunt BJ did not disappoint.  It was a nice family/friend affair at my cousin Laura's house, and Matt and I brought Jillian, who got to play with all of her second cousins.  About halfway through the party, Aunt BJ came and sat next to me, leaned in and said "Everytime I see Jillian in her pigtails, I think of Pop."  I looked at her, with a bit of a question in my voice, "Really?"  She said "Yes.  When your mom and I were young and dating your dad and Uncle Bob, we used to wear our hair in pigtails when we would hang out at the house.  Pop always liked them and would make comments about us in our pigtails."  That really made me smile... I can remember old photos of her and my mom laying on the front lawn sunning or on the boat in their bathing suits and long pigtails (and this was back in the early 1970's).

It got me thinking about Pop too.  He passed away so suddenly when I was 12, and I really missed him growing up.  I still think about him alot, and know that he would completely love Jillian.  He had this thing that he would always mispronounce my sister's name (her name is Kristin), calling her Christian.  No matter how much he was corrected, it was always Christian.  Maybe it was part of his Baltimore accent.  But I wonder how it would be if he knew Jillian.  I like to think that he'd have a big smile on his face when he saw her running around in her pigtails, and call out to her - "Jill-yun"  :)

Pop's little Jill-yun

Friday, July 1, 2011


I'm so thrilled and excited - Jillian is learning gymnastics!  Now whether she will follow in her Mommy's footsteps is probably more of a wait-and-see...

My cousin Laura emailed me a couple weeks ago to ask if Jillian and I wanted to join her and Emma (her 2-yr old daughter) for a Mommy & Me gymnastics class at a local gym.  To be honest, gymnastics wasn't even on my radar yet! I was sure that I wanted to have Jillian take some classes eventually, but I figured that we'd wait until she was 2-2.5yrs old. Mainly so that she was mature enough to listen and understand directions and such.  But I asked a friend of mine who used to be a coach, and she said that Jillian was the perfect age, since they would just be teaching fine and gross motor skills like climbing and balance and jumping - not tricks or anything.  So, I emailed Laura back - YES, we'll sign up too!

Our first class was Tues 6/28.  I was all sorts of excited - I was taking my daughter to gymnastics!  And it was the first time I've been in a gym for a LONG time - probably 8 years. To be honest, I was looking forward to smelling the gym again.  Something about the chalky haze, and the mats, and the equipment - it just has a comforting smell to me.  But maybe it's  b/c I spent 16 years of my life doing gymnastics.  That kind of thing excites me :)  Okay - back to the story.  I picked Jillian up from school, changed her into her t-shirt and shorts (I couldn't find a leotard small enough), and we drove over.  Luckily, I had a couple minutes to spare b/c I had to capture the moment for posterity... my sweet girl in her Shrek-tails on her first day of gymnastics.

Laura and Emma met us there, and soon we were wisked in to the gym by our coach, Miss Taylor.  The first thing I noticed - oh my word, is it sweltering hot in here!  It was easily 85-90 degrees in there, and no AC.  I had forgotten that most gyms don't have AC.  Or windows.  Just lots of fans.  BUT, the gym smelled just as I had expected :)  So we get in and first order of business is to take attendance.  I learned 3 things: that she was one of two kids that had never taken a class before, she was likely the youngest one there probably by 5 months (Jillian is 19 months), and that in a class of 6 kids, there are TWO Jillians!  My Jillian sat still as I took her shoes and socks off.  And looking back, that was probably the last time she sat still and was calm the whole 45 minutes. 

Next, we lined up against the wall in front of a big mat.  I honestly can't recall what we did at this point b/c my daughter took off running.

By the time I corraled her back to the group, we were being told to sit in a big circle.  Oh good - fun stretching time.  All the moms were sitting down, and their children were sitting sweetly in front of them, listening to Miss Taylor.  My daughter wouldn't sit with me.  She decided it was more fun to STAND in the middle of the circle.  Now mind you, Miss Taylor is talking and giving instructions and telling us all to spread our legs wide and touch our toes, and wave like a tree, and bend forward, and bang your hands on the mat.  And here I am: "Jillian!  Jillian come here. Jillian come sit with Mommy please  ::wrestling her down to a seated position:: Now bang your hands on the mat like this!  Jillian! Watch what Mommy is doing.  No, stay here.  Jillian please!"  Boy, that other little girl named Jillian must already be having a complex.  And here Jillian is all "No!" and lots of whiny sounds to wrestle herself away and trying to run off b/c it's very clear that she wants to do things HER way.  Miss Taylor is trying to engage Jillian too, and keep her calm, but that wasn't working either. We were 5 minutes in and I looked at Laura with desperation and said "I think we're going to be kicked out soon."

Next order of business - an obstacle course.  YAY - something that we don't have to sit still for!  All of the tasks were very new to Jillian, but she did great at climbing up mats and ladders, and swinging, and crawling and navigating her way around.  And she even walked on a balance beam!  But one thing was very clear - she didn't want Mommy to help her. But sorry sweetie - for the high-up things, you need to hold Mommy's hand.  And she got frustrated very easily when she couldn't do things right (she gets that from her mom too!).  I think that the obstacle course was exhausting for both Mommy AND Jillian!  I had to lift her to alot of things, and help to support her for things like climbing a ladder and mats that were really tall.  By the end of the class, Laura and I had both had a workout!

Next up - trampoline!  Rule #1 though - only one person at a time on the trampoline.  Oh no - I knew this was not going to go well.  Jillian doesn't understand sharing and taking turns yet.  While the others were on the tramp, Miss Taylor told us to try to practice putting the kids in handstands up against the wall to occupy them.  My Jillian saw the first girl on the tramp, and there was nothing else that she was going to be focused on :) She squirmed and wriggled to get on that tramp too.  The little girl's turn was over, and seeing what I was literally wrestling with, Miss Taylor said that it was Jillian's turn.  She got up on that tramp by herself, and was all smiles.  The heavens had opened, the angels sang, and she had found her thing!  I loved watching her enjoy it so much - she was so happy!  She can't jump up in the air yet, but she was bending her knees enough that the tramp helped her bounce.  She loved it!  But then it was someone else's turn - and meltdown #2 happened. I tried to distract her with practicing handstands, but she wanted no parts of it.  She fell limp, she cried, she wriggled, she wouldn't sit, she made a break for it to get on the tramp - and then the heavens opened for Mommy... Miss Taylor said that more than one person could be on the tramp.  Thank you!  I totally felt bad for all the other moms and kids - my daughter was clearly acting out and monopolizing everything.  None of the other kids were crying and they were all listening.  Ugh.

Jillian was not happy at all when we had to come off the tramp, and kept running back over to it, and crying when I pulled her back to the group. I kept apologizing to Miss Taylor, and she was so nice saying that everything was okay.  But it was obstacle course #2 time!  The first obstacle was crawling thru a tunnel, I waited until all the other kids went first (we were the slowest ones) and Jillian finally was like "okay, I can do the tunnel".  But the rest, she was not cool with.  She wouldn't let me help her, she got frustrated, she wouldn't listen to me, she wouldn't look at me, she got more frustrated, she was melting fast, and crying. I could only think of one solution - I asked Miss Taylor if pacifiers were allowed.  Thankfully, she said yes!  Jillian's favorite thing in the world is her pacifier, so after a trip to our bag to get it, a long drink of water, and 'bibby' in her mouth, all was right with the world.  We went through the obstacle course a second time, with less trouble, though still distraction (oh my - the tramp is over there! Let's go get it! and what's that thing those girls are running towards and jumping on? I want to go there too! and what's that huge blue floor? I want to run across that big blue floor too!).

We finally took a water break - Phew!  Back to the air-conditioned lobby!  Then we had about 5 more minutes of class.  Miss Taylor decided to let the kids hop on the fast track, which is basically a long trampoline runway to practice tumbling.  More bouncing - Jillian was in pig heaven!  So it was a nice way to end the session.

So, what did we learn from our first gymnastics class?
1.  Jillian likes to do things HER way, and isn't the best at paying attention. But you have to give her a break - she's only 19 months, and this is her first organized activity.  Everything was new, and she was probably very overwhelmed.  And it was hot.  And it was dinner time. It really was a whirlwind, even for me.
2. Miss Taylor definitely knows Jillian's name.  Jillian definitely made her presence known :)
3. Mommy needs to wear shorts and a ponytail next time - otherwise, it's too hot!
4. Mommy needs to try to slow things down and let Jillian go at her own pace. Let other kids go in front if we're slowing the line down. Encourage her more.  Let her do things by herself if they are relatively safe.

So, the first class was a bit of a fiasco, but it was so much fun too. I was so proud of Jillian when she climbed up on the little balance beam by herself and started walking (and even not holding my hand!), and seeing the joy in her eyes when she would swing from a bar or jump on a trampoline. I really think that she is going to learn alot over the next 10 weeks, and she's really going to come into her own.  And it's nice to be taking the class with Laura and Emma.  The whole ride home and into the evening, Jillian kept saying "Umma, Umma, Umma".  I really hope that they become close friends over the years!

Funny thing happened the next day though - we were in Jillian's bathroom getting ready for "Spa Day" (which is what we call 'taking a bath') and she looks up and sees the empty towel bar on the wall (I had washed the towels that day and not replaced them yet).  Immediately, her hands go up in the air, and she's reaching like crazy to hang on the towel bar!  Then the following day in the kitchen, she pulls out a drawer, and tries to hang from that!  We've got a monkey on our hands....

Friday, May 20, 2011

My pigtail cutie

Just when I thought that my girl couldn't get any cuter...
her hair is now long enough for pigtails.

I just want to eat her up :)


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jack and Jill

Last May, our newest nephew was born! (Courtesy of Matt's sister Beth and brother-in-law Kevin).
Jack Wesley Jones was born 11 weeks early, and was in the NICU for quite a long time, but is now a big baby boy, and growing like a weed.  Right now, he's only 3 lbs lighter than Jillian, and he's 6 months younger AND a preemie.  He'll fly past her soon enough!

Anyway, once Beth and Kevin told us all what Jack's name was, we all got the biggest chuckle.  Our family has a Jack and Jill!  And in case you are wondering... yes, in a few years time, we will be taking a picture of them walking up a hill :)  Just not the picture of them both tumbling down...

At Thanksgiving, Jack was finally big and sturdy enough for Jillian to interact with him, and we got some really good photos.  Just wanted to share our Jack and Jill with all of you!

 Jillian going in for a kiss

A little attitude during picture time

Jillian turns 1! (Okay, almost 4 months ago...)

I'm finally blogging about Jillian's FIRST birthday!
Yes, it was in November, and yes, it is now March.  I'm not a very good blogger.

It was such a special 10 days of birthday excitement.
Yes, 10 days :) 
Matt and I are blessed to have alot of family, and alot of friends.  And we wanted to have EVERYONE come over to celebrate our baby's big day.  But, honestly, once we made the guest list, it was clear - we needed to have 2 parties.  And we still couldn't invite everyone. 

The 10 days started on Wed the 10th, when my mom and dad drove up, and my sister, brother-in-law and niece (Kristin, Eric and Kaelyn) flew in from GA to be here.  We were so excited that they could make it!

I don't think Kaelyn could have been more excited or anxious to see and play with "Baby Jillian".  They played so well together, and Kaelyn even taught Jillian how to play big-girl things like tea party, crawling thru tunnels, and sitting still to read :)  I guess that playing Barbies will be in the foreseeable future :)  Anyway, Jillian's first birthday party was that Saturday, and we had all of our family over.  It was great - and we really did have a house-full of people - I think 25 adults and 10 kids!  Phew!  Despite getting a good nap, I think Jillian was a little overwhelmed by the time we did cake.  She cried through most of "Happy Birthday", and would barely touch her cake, let alone eat it.  I tried to give her some, but she was not interested at all.  That's okay though - we got a money shot of her crying with her cake, so that will be the fun photo moment we can all look back on :)

After cake, she sat quietly for a bit with her Gramm, and when we started opening presents, she was all about it - ripping paper, standing on boxes - the whole bit.

All in all, we had an awesome time, and it was so fun to see her so happy, walking around like such a big girl.  And did Mommy get emotional?  Well, a little.  I was so busy prepping things that I didn't have time to think about what was going on until we started singing Happy Birthday.  Then it hit me - my baby was turning 1 - and the crazy big Elmo cake was for her.  She's not a baby anymore.  I didn't lose it, but I was happy and sad all at the same time.

Kristin, Eric and Kaelyn flew home on Sunday, but my parents stayed until Thursday.  Jillian skipped school for the week and played every day with Grandma and Grandpa.  On Wednesday the 17th it was her actual birthday.  Knowing how well the cake went over, I baked Jillian some blueberry muffins so that she could have a 'birthday muffin' after dinner. 

We had Matt's parents (Gramm and Poppy) over for dinner, and then we sang Happy Birthday again, ate our muffin, and opened presents from Mommy and Daddy.  Jillian really likes presents - or should I say that she really likes wrapping paper and boxes :)

I was a little more emotional this day than on Saturday since it was truly her birthday.  She got alot more kisses and special squeezes from Mommy than normal - mainly to stop me from falling apart ;)  In the weeks before her birthday, I was reliving in my head the weeks before she arrived - what I was doing, when I stopped work, the night we went to the hospital, the whole labor ordeal.  So, her birthday was definitely emotional, but it was the celebration of a truly wonderful day!

Then the following Saturday we had ANOTHER birthday party - this one for a few of our friends and their children (10 adults and 8 kiddos). Jillian had a great time playing with all of the older kids (they ranged from 3-8 years old), and even got in on the dance party that they had downstairs.

She was much better with "Happy Birthday" and even ate cake this time!  I guess after 2 parties, she considered herself a pro.  The funniest thing happened though when it came time to open presents, and as such, Jillian's first birthday will always be known as "The Year of the Tea-set".  The week before, one of Kristin, Eric and Kaelyn's gifts to Jillian was a musical teaset - complete with singing teapot, cups, and fake tasty treats.  She LOVED it!  The first gift we opened at our friends party was - a second teaset!  All the little girls started to laugh because they knew what was coming... the second gift - another teaset!  The third gift - another teaset!  The fourth and fifth gift - a baby doll and a gift card - phew!  The sixth gift - another teaset!  All in all, Jillian received 5 teasets for her birthday.  It was hilarious - even the adults were laughing.  Luckily, the adults were totally cool about it and gave us gift receipts.  I think we're going to use the money to buy Jillian some summer toys, like a sprinkler, beach toys, and pool toys.  But we still can't get over 5 teasets.

As the night wound down, the girls at the party, who are so super creative, designed a "float" for Jillian.  They took her wagon (a gift from Gramm and Poppy) and decorated it with all of the balloons and party decorations they could gather.  Then they had a parade through the house, with Jillian sitting in her float - they called it the "Just-Jillian Float".  You can see the photo below - it was adorable.  And Jillian LOVED it!  She didn't want to get out!

So, all in all, Jillian had a wonderful and very memorable first birthday!  Thank you to all of our friends and family for making it such a special time for her and for us!  You are wonderful!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A bit humbled

It’s not every day that you meet an inspiring person.  Last Thursday, I met one.

I was at work, and went to a random informational meeting at lunch time about donating to the Bone Marrow Registry.  I’ve been thinking about it for a bit, and thought I would get some more information.  I sat down at a chair in the back of the room, and there was a woman sitting in front of me.  She was maybe in her late fifties, and was wearing jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, rugged boots, and a fluorescent yellow reflective vest.  She looked a little out of place in a room full of business-casual, but oh well. There are a number of contractors that work at FDA while our buildings are under construction, and she had a look in her eyes and face that she was a hard worker and maybe had been out in the weather for a long period of time, so I assumed that she was one of the construction crew.  Boy, was I wrong.

The facilitator for the meeting gave us quite a bit of information on marrow donation, and then told us that she would like to introduce someone whose granddaughter’s life was saved thanks to bone marrow donation.  The woman in front of me with the yellow vest stood up and went to the front of the room to speak.  The facilitator introduced her: “This is Jeana Moore, and she is walking across the United States to raise awareness for bone marrow donation. She is walking for her granddaughter Jada, who was diagnosed with leukemia at birth.”  My jaw dropped (as did everyone else’s in the room) while this woman told her story.  This woman was indeed walking, physically walking, across the country.  By herself.  On the highway.  Depending solely on the generosity of strangers for food and shelter.  As of Thursday, she had walked from her home in Spokane, Washington (yes, that’s Washington STATE), down the west coast to Los Angeles, then headed east across the country, and was now in front of me, in the state of Maryland.  With the snow slowly falling outside, and me complaining about how bitter cold it has been the last week or so, not even wanting to walk to my mailbox, I was humbled.  This woman was walking 6-8 miles a day or more in 15-20 degree cold weather and single-digit wind chills.  I couldn’t even bear to walk and get my mail, or put my xmas lights up outside.

Her final destination is New York City, where she and her family, including her granddaughter, were to meet the man who had been a match for her granddaughter and had donated his marrow.  Out of the millions of people registered throughout the world, ONE man, 30 years old from Germany, was her granddaughter’s match.  ONE MAN.  And he was the only one who could save her life.

Jeana is due to arrive in NYC on January 27, 2011.  She has her route mapped out, but often does not know a single person in the towns that she stops in.  She goes to local firehouses, police stations, churches in whatever town she lands in, tells her story, and is provided for.  People who follow her website donate to her, or contact her to offer assistance.  She told us that with increasing awareness of her walk, she is taken care of up through Baltimore.  I wonder if her route takes her up US 40 since it’s a highway she can walk on.  I wonder if she will pass by my house. Why do I feel so compelled to offer up our guest bed?

Jeana truly inspired me, and humbled me.  I plan to get my cheek swabbed and join the Be The Match registry, so that I might be discovered as a match for someone.  Some people never find a match, and ultimately die.  I think about how I would feel if Jillian needed a marrow transplant, and there was no match for her that could be found, or if there was a match, and the person was completely unaware of the registry. Often, no one in your family will be the match you are looking for – it’s a kind soul in a far away place.

As for me, after Thursday’s experience, I’m not going to complain so much when it’s frigid outside and I have to do something small like getting the mail.  I’m going to remember Jeana who has walked across this country in the heat of the desert and in the northeast cold, and is doing something that I would never have the courage to do. 

For more information on marrow registry, go to:  Or talk to me.
For more information on Jeana, her walk, and her granddaughter Jada, you can follow Jeana on her blog:, or on Twitter as USwalker.