Monday, June 22, 2009

Birthday Mancala

Today was Nick's 8th birthday. Yeah - we had a fun little family party this afternoon.

He was so small in these pictures and I was so ill. He was about a month old and I finally got to hold him. The hold is called a "kangaroo hold". You basically place your baby on your open chest and cover them up, allowing them to stay warm from your body heat. Nurses are nearby and the babies are hooked up to many, many machines. It is extremely important for little preemies to have the chance to hear their mother's heartbeat and smell her. I admit, it was so scary to hold him and he could not maintain his heartbeat, breathing or regulate his temperature yet... but - after a minute or two, he stabilized and did so well when I held him. I think it helps those little babies to live and thrive - when their mommies hold them, while they fight and struggle just to stay alive. It was also hard to leave my little fella each night and come home. I'd call up to the NICU, just before going to sleep. As soon as I woke up, I'd call again, and see how he did through the night and get all the details and his stats. Oh, that was a hard time... and somehow, we made it through. Andrew was only 13 and he and I lived at the hospital that summer. Hubs went in early in the morning and stopped each night, after work. We prayed and prayed for our little baby to live and that he would be healthy and strong.

His birthday is a celebration and for me, it's memories. We celebrate his life. He was only just over 3 lbs when he was born. It was a long and emotional summer back in 2001. Having a baby in the NICU all summer was hell. But, we made it through and God has given me a most challenging child! He had a great birthday. He got 5 new pets!! ((I must be crazy... ok - 2 of the pets were fish... but - not the other 3!))

The next group of photos were later in the summer. He was so much stronger! We could hold him when we desired and he was able to finally eat a special high calorie formula from a tiny little bottle. He sure was tiny; and at the time, he seemed huge in comparison to how small he was at birth. Ah yes... the perspective changed. (And Hubs still had hair 8 years ago!!)

Half of Nicolas' life has been challenging. He was a pretty easy toddler, until about the age of 4 1/2. Which, incidentally - is the age that Olivia is now.

Anyway, one of the things I got for Nick was the game Mancala. I had no idea how to play when I got the game for him, except that a friend tried to show me how to play last year... and I didn't get it. All I could remember was that you moved a lot of little marbles or pieces around on a wooden board and counted. I found the game at a rummage sale, and it was in excellent condition, so I got it. Tonight, I got the directions online and then Nick and I played a few rounds against a computer online. We figured it out and played the live version with each other tonight. He liked it. I think that he would have played all night, if I would have let him.

If you've never played Mancala, here's a link to a website called Cool Math Games. Try your luck against the computer a few rounds and you'll want to keep playing! It's pretty fun, really. And, it involves counting, skill and strategy -- best of all.

This was the first birthday party without candy. Andrew, his girlfriend and I made fruit kabobs for a healthy party alternative. They looked great and tasted delicious.

It's late and this week looks to be very busy! I am too busy. When there's not enough time to blog for my sanity and therapy, then I know that I am way too busy.

I also had a couple of lightbulbs go on in my brain last week. Revelation can be a good thing... more about my birthday boy later.

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