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.

I promise that it will come soon...

I know, I know.  Jillian is now 13 months old, and I have YET to talk about her 1st birthday on the blog.  Her birthday was spread out over two weekends and 3 parties... lots of work, but oh so much fun!  I will really post something soon.  A big thing called Christmas, and the busy-ness of our life in general right now and with Matt's recent surgery/recovery has put a wrench in my writing and picture posting.  Some photos aren't even off of the camera yet.  Bad mommy.  Soon, very soon I'll post something...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Okay - I'm REALLY late on this one.... just so much going on lately.

This past Halloween was Jillian's FIRST Halloween...and notable as the last 'first' holiday that she'll have.  We dressed her up as a ladybug, and she was the cutest bug of them all. 

On Friday before Halloween, her daycare had a 'trick or treat', and all the kids in her class dressed up!  I went to help and had to catch some pictures of the little cuties. 

On Halloween night, we decided to go to Gramm and Poppy's, and then head to our friends Matt and Melissa's house to trick-or-treat.  Jillian had a blast.  She loved being in her costume, and particularly liked carrying around her little pumpkin to collect all of her candy.  She STILL carries it all over the place at home too!  We went to 4 houses, and she even walked up to the doors all by herself (okay - we carried her most of the way :) ).  Here are some pictures from the evening.  Matt and Melissa set up the firepit in their driveway and handed out candy there - we really had fun hanging out, roasting marshmallows, and seeing all of the cute costumes!

 Heading to Gramm and Poppy's door for some candy...

 Trick-or-treat Uncle Ruit!

 With Ashley and Sarah before heading out to more houses :)

Mr. Mike - what am I going to do with those M&M's??!?!  P.S. Mommy and Daddy say thanks!

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Back in October, we had some really nice weather on the weekends.  I’m talking 70’s and sunny.  And after having to turn on our heat for some days in late September – these weekends were awesome!  On one particular Saturday, we took Jillian to a local farm to play in the pumpkin patch. 

Now I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to be able to take Jillian to the pumpkin patch.  Something about little kids amongst pumpkins the same size as them, and their curiosity about the whole thing – I couldn’t wait to see how J would do.  The added bonus was that she could walk now, so she could interact more.  I dressed her up super cute that day (we were going to a farm – you HAVE to wear overalls to a farm!), and had my camera in hand.  I think that I was a little obsessed, but we were going to have a Kodak memory kind of family outing.

Sure enough – we had a Kodak kind of day.  We got to Huber’s Farm, and went on the FREE hayride to the pumpkin patch. Once we got off the wagon, we carried J over to the patch, plopped her down on her feet, and just let her go.  She was very apprehensive at first.  I think that it also had to do with the fact that it was her first time EVER walking outside.  She’s never been in the grass or dirt before… EVER.  So this was really new.  And all of these orange things… and Mommy won’t stop taking my picture… what do I do?

She warmed up quickly, and toddled around to pumpkin after pumpkin.  Matt and I got a huge laugh out of her trying to pick up the pumpkins.  We have a fake pumpkin as decoration in our family room, and she often picks it up, rolls it, mini-tosses it – it’s just Styrofoam and just her size.  To her, these pumpkins should have been the same thing, and she honestly thought that she could pick them up.  It was so funny!

We got some great pictures, and spent a good 20-30 minutes letting her play.  She even made a friend.  Finally, we picked a pumpkin of our own, let her pick her own pumpkin, and went back to the front of the farm to make our purchase.  While Matt paid for the pumpkins, Jillian played with a golden lab puppy that a man had brought with him.  She’s learning to be ‘gentle’ in petting, and she’s doing really well.  I’m still standing my ground on not getting a dog yet, but now it’s 2 against 1 in my little family.  On a side note though – in the process of paying for the pumpkin, Matt picked up some homemade jelly too.  Oh boy – is that good stuff!

Here are some pictures from our day at Huber’s Farm.  And to me, they are further confirmation of just how dang cute my daughter is!  Can’t get enough of her.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One year ago...

Tomorrow, Jillian turns one.

I have very mixed feelings about my baby turning one.  I’m excited because she is growing so much, and learning so much, and it’s just so fascinating to see what her next ‘new thing’ will be. And after getting a glimpse this weekend of what Jillian will be like next year at this time (my niece, who is almost 2, was visiting),  I’m looking forward to having tea parties, dancing to music, her repeating every word I say, and pulling her hair up in pigtails.  But a part of me is also very sad.

Jillian isn’t a baby anymore.

I guess that this realization hit me about a month or so ago when a friend of mine from work looked at her picture, and actually said “Wow, she doesn’t look like a baby any more!”  And I looked at the picture too – and it hit me. My coworker was right.  Jillian was standing up tall, her hair was longer, she was walking, and she had a look of focus in her eyes. She was no longer the immobile girl lying in the middle of the floor reaching desperately for a toy, or the baby with wandering eyes and a lack of understanding of the world around her.  She now had purpose, determination, focus, and opinions.  And I became a little sad that her ‘baby’ days were behind us.

In the past week or so, I’ve been reminiscing about what I was doing ‘a year ago today’.  I remember a year ago this very day feeling so nervous, but excited with anticipation since we were going to the hospital tonight to be induced.  And I’m sure that tomorrow morning, I will remember again our worry about why her heart rate wasn’t stable, our nervousness about how best to deliver her without any problems, the pain of the contractions as my epidural was wearing off, and the hour of pushing before her perfect little self arrived and was placed in my arms. Life changed completely a year ago tomorrow – and I could never have imagined how fantastic it would actually be.

But it’s becoming more real as the day wears on, and it’s a good thing. We had our families over on Saturday for her first birthday party, and my cousin (who has a 17-month old of her own) asked me how I was dealing with Jillian turning one.  Since it was still 4 days away, I wasn’t thinking of how real it was. It was still so far in the future. And then we sang Happy Birthday in front of a great big Elmo cake, and I blew out the candles that spelled J-I-L-L-I-A-N, and it became more real.  Then Matt and I went shopping the next day for her birthday presents - more real.  And now, her birthday is tomorrow – even more real.

Only 12 more hours of my girl not being one year old.  I’m hanging on to every minute.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Unconventional lullabies

I have to admit - I’m not very good at lullabies.  I can hum them, but when it comes to singing, it’s often too high of a key, then I forget what all the words are, and then I start making things up, and it goes down hill from there.  Plus, before having Jillian, when did I ever really have the need to sing a lullaby?  They aren’t really the kind of songs you rock out to in the car while playing the steering wheel drums (oh… did I just admit to doing that?!  Yes. Yes I did.)  And I recall an awful time trying to remember a lullaby to calm my niece, and all I could come up with was the Battle Hymn of the Republic (My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…).  Not good.

I remember some of the early days with Jillian very vividly.  I was breastfeeding at the time, and was up every 2-3 hours at night to feed her.  She often couldn’t latch, and therefore couldn’t eat, and when she did latch it was like toe-curling pain for me.  We were both very cranky.  She’d cry b/c she was hungry and sleepy, I’d cry because I couldn’t feed her and was exhausted – it was miserable.  One night, I got the bright idea – let’s try singing!  THAT should calm her down!  But that’s when the problem hit – I couldn’t for the life of me think of a song to sing.  No soothing baby lullabies were popping in to my head.  Thanks to her little Glo-worm, I know them now (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mockingbird, Frere Jacques, etc), but they were definitely NOT coming to me then, at 2:30 in the morning, when we were both crying. 

So what did I do?  I improvised.

The only songs back then that did pop into my head were rock-out-in-the-car songs.  So I created my own lullabies.  Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas became one (sung softly and with less emphasis on the booms), though it was pretty awful.  One favorite was “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses (infinitely better than Boom Boom Pow – and Jillian does have ‘eyes of the bluest sky’).  Matt would sing “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley – she still loves that.  And another favorite that was a popular song last fall, and that really did the trick in the early days was “Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti.  It’s still one of her favorites today.

But my all-time favorite is “More” by Matthew West.  Matthew West is a Christian music artist. I’ve been listening to Christian radio for about 5 years now – it’s a really nice and encouraging start to my day, and calms me while in the throws of rush hour on I-95. I had heard this song before having Jillian, liked it, but didn’t fully appreciate the lyrics and the beauty of the song until I had such a miracle of a child in my arms.  It just popped into my head one day, and stuck.  The song is actually written as a love song from God to us, so it’s just perfect.  I mainly sing the chorus over and over to Jillian when I rock her to sleep, and I can tell she knows that it’s ‘Mommy’s song’.  She instantly calms down, and knows it’s time to rest. 

So this is one of my ‘unconventional lullabies’, and mine & Jillian’s special song:

"More" by Matthew West
Take a look at the mountains / Stretching a mile high
Take a look at the ocean / Far as your eye can see
And think of Me
Take a look at the desert / Do you feel like a grain of sand?
I am with you wherever / Where you go is where I am
And I'm always thinking of you / Take a look around you
I'm spelling it out one by one.
I love you more than the sun / And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are mine, and you shine for me too
I love you, yesterday and today / And tomorrow, I'll say it again and again
I love you more
Just a face in the city / Just a tear on a crowded street
But you are one in a million / And you belong to me
And I want you to know / That I'm not letting go
Even when you come undone
Shine for Me / Shine for Me / Shine on, shine on / Shine for Me
I love you  more than the sun / And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are mine, and you shine for me too
I love you, yesterday and today / Through the joy and the pain
I'll say it again and again
I love you more
And I see you / And I made you
And I love you more than you can imagine
More than you can fathom / I love you more than the sun
And you shine for me
For a little snippet: (

Friday, October 8, 2010

And she's off...

Our girl is WALKING!!!

On Monday night she took her first 4 steps – the first time to get to the laundry basket, and the remaining times to get to Daddy. Those tiny little tentative steps were so precious. Matt and I just smiled and clapped and must have said a hundred “YAY”s. We couldn’t get over it. Such a big girl! This has all gone quite fast, as she didn’t crawl until 9 months. Now she’s walking on her own at 10.5 months!

On Monday she wouldn’t really walk to me (again with the Daddy preference), so I didn’t get to see her face as she did it. Tuesday night, she was consumed with playing with the ball-popper, so there was no walking. But on Wednesday when I dropped her off at school (in her new shoes, by the way), she stood right up by herself, and started toddling towards me. She had the biggest smile on her face, and an expression of sheer joy. I was so proud of her!

Jillian's first walking shoes

Hopefully we can get some video soon and share it with you. I’ve tried to post video to the blog in the past couple of weeks, but haven’t been very successful. Here are a couple of action shots though.

Hmmm – what are some other things that we’ve done recently? Jillian and I walked in the Komen Breast Cancer 5K Walk last Sunday with Matt’s cousin Mary Kay and her family. I didn’t have to push the stroller at all since my niece Macall and nephew Jonah took turns the whole way. It was a bit interesting when Jillian got hungry a mile in to the walk and I had to feed her a banana bit-by-bit as we walked. But she did great, enjoyed herself, and was pointing at all the people. I had never done the breast cancer walk before – and I have to admit, it almost brought me to tears at times. At the end, some volunteers created a human tunnel to congratulate all of the Survivors that walked. Seeing each woman, young and old, walking through that tunnel with smiles and high-fives was just amazing. Each of those women survived breast cancer! It really hit home for me. I need to check myself more often.

What else? Jillian had her first two playdates! We went to my cousin Laura’s house for dinner one night, and Jillian got to play with her second cousin Emma (15 months old), and Emma’s friends Meredith (almost 2 yrs old) and Preston (3.5 yrs old) who were there with their parents too. Emma, Meredith and Preston walked and ran everywhere, so I think that’s where Jillian finally got the bug – you could totally tell that she wanted to be running around with the big girls, and not just pushing the little shopping cart! I think she had fun, and we’ll definitely have to do it again soon. The next day, my friend Sruthi (from college, and now work) came over to our house with her son Joshua. Joshua and Jillian were due within 2 days of each other, but Joshua was born 3 wks early, and Jillian was 10 days late, so they are technically a month apart. Anyway, it was so cute to watch them play. I couldn’t believe how forward Jillian was – she brought her toys to Joshua, tried to touch his hair, and was really trying to get him to interact with her. Maybe she was smitten with his beautiful curls :). Joshua was a little hesitant, sometimes with a look of “Who IS this chick?”, but he warmed up, and they played well. Up to this point, I never really saw Jillian play with other kids, so it was really neat to see that she is a social girl, and likes to play. However, we need to work a little on sharing :). It’s not nice to try and steal your push car back from your guest.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FINALLY!! The most wonderful words...

I was so happy to hear these wonderful words, that I shrieked with excitement.

***** Jillian said "Ma-Ma" *****

In fact, I think I scared her with my shriek of excitement.  I kept saying "Say it again! Say it again!", but she just stared at me like I was from another planet (anyone could have seen that I wasn't far off though), and was probably thinking "This woman is truly insane".

But then, the magical words came again... "Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma"   And my heart melted again.

After hearing two and a half months of "Da-da", then "Ba-Ba", then just "Da", I was beginning to think M's were just never going to happen.  Add to that the clear fact that Daddy is the only one who gets kisses, and the one she snuggles best with, and I was pretty much sold to the idea that I was nothing more than the nasty lady who insisted on cleaning up her dripping snot and booger-filled nose, and therefore making her cry all the time.

But she said it today - and that's all that matters. 

Of course at this point, "ma-ma" likely means anything BUT mommy (much like "da-da").  But I'm choosing not to believe that...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

9 months and crawling...

Jillian is mobile! And life as Matt and I know it, for the second time, will never be the same. Over the past few weeks, she had figured out how to maneuver herself around in a small radius by spinning, reaching, and rolling over to get to things out of her reach. Then she made it to all fours, and just rocked back and forth. And-a-one-and-a-two-and-a-three… but no movement. A week ago Friday, I was sitting on the floor with her, and looking at paint samples while she played (we’re painting our first floor and I’ve been trying to decide on colors for weeks now). All of a sudden, there she was in front of me, and had crawled a couple steps to grab for the paint samples! I got all excited, and put a bright orange paint sample out of reach, and she crawled 4 steps to get it – YAY! Then she was done for the night. No more. But I like that she takes an interest in interior decorating :)

Then Saturday morning came along. We went downstairs and after breakfast, I sat her in the middle of the family room so she could play. She crawled a longer distance to get her phone, but was soon tired out. After playing (and capturing what I could on video), I got up and went to the kitchen to do some cleaning up. Assuming that she was just playing in one spot (as she always did), I was startled to hear two little hands banging on the hardwood kitchen floors, and a little face peering from the side of the cabinet. The little peanut just crawled to another room to find me! I was tickled.

Since then, she now follows Matt and I everywhere. She is particularly fond of the kitchen, and staring at her reflection in the face of the dishwasher. She likes the feel of the hard floor on her heels as she sits down and bangs her legs on the floor. And she likes to chase and catch us as we pretend to run away from her. The world is completely new for her, and she is exploring it to the full.

For Matt and I – we made a trip to Toys R Us over the weekend to buy baby gates and cabinet locks to protect our little explorer. I know they are the safe thing to have, but I already DO NOT like them. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it drives me crazy to have to open and close a gate just to go up and down the stairs.

Jillian loves the downstairs gate though – last night we watched her grab the bars and pull herself up to standing for the first time on her own. Matt and I were both there when she did it, cheering her on the whole time as she figured out how to get her feet in just the right position to pull up. I didn’t know that I could be so proud. Based on that, I’m going to be a teary mess when she graduates from kindergarten…

Once I figure out how to upload the Flip video to this blog, I will share her crawling video with you. I can’t get enough of seeing that little tushy scootin’ all around :)  Oh, and her 9-month photo is on the right - can she get any cuter?!  The whole 'photo-shoot' was 2 pictures long, since she kept trying to crawl off the chair.  Glad that I was able to catch a good shot :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's been too long...

I am bound and determined to get this blog rolling again. :)

I had really good intentions back in April, and had even put a draft post together. But then I put it off, and off, and then the material was irrelevant. I revisited the idea in May, and the same thing happened. Life just gets in the way of the best of intentions sometimes.

Speaking of which, I owe alot of people birthday cards from the past year. And those of you who did receive one may have been appalled that they were 'store bought' (for shame!) instead of my usual 'handmade' greeting cards. I apologize...

But I digress.

At least we have been able to keep in touch over Facebook, and I've been able to share some photos with all of you of Jillian as she grows (If you want to 'friend' me on FB, look up Kim Miller Hatfield). But FB can't catch everything in the little snippet of a status post or a photo caption. Honestly, you just need to spend some time with this girl to truly appreciate how precious, unique, and fun she can be. And what a personality! She can be funny, coy, inquisitive, shy, and stubborn all in a matter of minutes. Now that she is 8 1/2 months old, she is her own little person, and continues to amaze us every day.

Parenthood has treated us well - and along with marriage - it is one of the hardest jobs around. No one prepared us for the emotional and physical rollercoasters of it all. But to sound cliche - I wouldn't trade it. Okay - I would take a vacation from it for a weekend - but I wouldn't trade it.

In the months since Jillian was born, we've had lots going on - I went back to work in February, Matt had hip surgery at the beginning of March, and had a long recovery thru April and in to May, birthday parties in June, our mini-vacation to Ocean City in July, and now it's August. As a non-parent, I would have thought "But there sounds like so much time amongst it all!" But as a parent, I'm thinking "Phew - I don't feel like I've relaxed at all in the last few months." To be honest, I have found little bits of time to relax. But our lives are on Jillian’s schedule now, instead of our honeymoon season fly-by-night schedule – her naps, her feedings, her bedtime. It’s interesting just to plan a trip to Target in between every 3-hr feedings, and two naps thrown into the day. However, Jillian is pretty resilient and easygoing; content with our trips to Target, Lowes, and Costco, and often falls asleep along the way when she needs to. But life has changed, priorities have changed, Sunday afternoon naps are a distant figment of my imagination, coming home from work equals the beginning of our second job with Jillian, and our 10-11 o'clock bedtime is now 9-10 o'clock due to sheer exhaustion, with a rise-and-shine at 5:30am or earlier. Thank goodness Jillian sleeps through the night :) And I've got bottle washing down to 10 minutes tops :)

For me personally, I find it hard to 'rest'. To just sit-down for a second, and not feel guilty that I'm not doing 'something' in the house or for Jillian that needs to be done. There's always something, and I often can't let it go, but I need to. I need to learn how to rest again. I need to learn to let-go. It's very difficult for me.

But these are all thoughts for future posts. Mommyhood has changed me in many ways, and I think they are all for the better. How could you look at this face, and not want to be her Mommy??!

I must be going, but want to leave you with a few pictures from the past 8 months.  Check out the right side bar also to see Jillian's monthly 'birthday' pictures with Mr. Monkey.  At months 1-5, you could just plop her down, and quick shoot the photo before she slumped one way or the other.  Now that she can sit up, she plays with Mr. Monkey, and the paper month label, so it's a little bit trickier to catch her.  It provides for some comical photos though :)  Enjoy!

One of my first smiles (2 months)

Jillian (2 months) and cousin Kaelyn (13 months)

Just chillin' and suckin' my thumb (4 months)

Easter 2010 (4.5 months)

Swinging at the park with Mommy (5 months)

Sitting up (kind of) on my own! (6 months)

Messy with carrots :) (6 months)

Happy July 4th! (7.5 months)

My first trip to the beach with Mommy and Daddy (8 months)

Happy Father's Day Daddy! (7 months)