Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Surprise!

I always seem to start my posts with, "Wow! It's been a long time since we last posted!" or "A lot has happened since we last posted," and this time is no exception. Geez! Well, ahyway. In lieu of Christmas cards this year we thought it would be fun to post some pics of our amazing and very talented dancing/smiling/squealing/teething boy, Owen Benjamin!

What did we do before he came into our lives? We sat around and talked about how cute Maggie was, and of course, we slept. I guess he's worth the sleep deprivation, which is actually much. much better now- the first of the update items...
1.) Owen is sleeping through the night (and has now for about 3-4 weeks)!!!! Of course, as soon as I write this he will be up all night tonight, or something. :) This is a huge accomplishment in our family and Mommy and Daddy are quite thankful for this new development!!!

2.) Mommy has a new job (still with the Pasadena Public Health Dept.), but this position is full-time WITH BENEFITS!! Finally, after a year of working with the immunization program, a great position that I really miss, I interviewed and was accepted for a full-time position with WIC- Women, Infants and Children. WIC is a fabulous program that provides nutrition, breastfeeding, and healthy choices education to pregnant Moms and parents with children under 5. We also provide food vouchers to low-income families. It is federally funded -one of the few Pasadena Public Health Department Programs that isn't totally crunched for funding this year. It is a huge blessing for our family and includes a nice promotion to management for me and a salary increase. I started on December 8th and my position includes working with the local store owners and staff to prepare them for the upcoming food package changes (less juice and dairy and more fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, etc.-- YEA!) as well as writing and teaching the education classes that we provide for our clients. It is a good fit and I work with great people-we are incredibly grateful (and the icing on the cake is it's 2 blocks from our apt. so I can walk to and from work and home for lunch to see my boys)!

3.) Brian finished his 5th quarter at Fuller quite successfully after a very busy time of full-time classes (he also received a scholarship!!!), TAing for one of the professors whose work was a huge draw for us moving here, and caring for Owen almost full-time while I work. He's amazing, and did I mention he also cooks and does laundry??? Brian deserves major kudos for his amazing care for us- this quarter was full of many days of time with Owen, interspersed with classes, and then back to the library after fixing dinner with the wife for a long evening of reading/writing. I am quite proud of our Daddy and couldn't ask for a better partner in all of the adventures we encounter!

4.) We got to have a date in December! This is something that's been really difficult for us, as childcare is hard to come by when you live so far away from all of your family. We, fortuately, are surrounded by a great community through our church, Fuller, and the Fuller wives. Our friends Jeff & Sara were so kind as to allow us the opportunity to see Over The Rhine, one of our favorite bands, in concert earlier this month. We had an amazing time.

5.) My Dad, who has multiple myeloma and is in kidney failure, is having a bone marrow transplant. We have traveled extensively this fall with 2 trips back East in December alone to see my Dad before his chemo and the harvesting of his bone marrow. We were fortunate that he had a window of time before this process began the 1st week of December when he had a break from chemo and Owen and his germs weren't a threat (this coincided with the end of my previous position and I was able to take some time before I started my new position so we flew just the 2 of us). It was great for my Dad and Neal to get to spend some quality time with O- we actually stayed with them for multiple days and they were able to glimpse the boy in action- squealing, dancing, and pulling himself up on EVERYTHING!!

The 3 of us just went back last week for a quick trip to spend some time with my Mom and Dave, and Brian and I were able to see my Dad, but Owen was a risk, so we took pictures for him. His bone marrow has now been harvested and he will go back to the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University next week for the transplant, chemo, and hospital stay (which is estimated to be about 3 weeks).

6.) I should have 10 updates, really, to be official- our top 10 of the last few months, but our life really isn't that exciting. Well, we think it's exciting, but we also love to sit around and video our son head banging to Brian playing the guitar- I definitely need to put that video on here!

The greatest Christmas surprise of the last few months has been the news that we will have another little Shope bundle in May! YES- we are pregnant (for the 2nd Christmas in a row)!!! This was certianly not planned, and we were originally quite shocked and concerned given the difficult pregnancy that I had with Owen. But- things are going very well- the baby is healthy and thriving (I haven't had any spotting or placenta problems like I did with O) at 17 weeks and will arrive sometime around May 28th! Our lives are certainly not dull!! We are excited to receive this new gift, and thankful for all the many blessings God has provided our growing family this season and always.

Enjoy some pictures of the first bundle below and know we love and miss you all!

Owen loves his dancing machine from Nanny & Grandpa!

The only snow he's ever seen!

We could've skipped the gifts- he just likes the paper and boxes!

Our own little St. Nicholas with a gleam in his eye!

I love this one- it captures his personality perfectly!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all the Shope's!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where has the time gone?

Wow- a lot has happened since the last time I posted- July 29th. I'm an embarrassment to bloggers everywhere! Life is quite full with an eight month old, a husband in seminary full-time, and a 30hr. work week. Sleep is high on the list when I have a free moment, blogging is somewhat down the list. :) I do apologize for my negligence.

The summer was full of time with family- we took an August trip to Parkersburg, Morgantown, Hershey, and Harrisburg to see family. It was great to spend time with everyone- we are too far away! Owen loved meeting cousins, seeing his great-grandmas again and generally being the center of attention for all of the grandparents. Brian and I could've sent him on his own and they wouldn't have minded. :) Here are a few highlights...

Meeting Uncle Adam for the first time...

Playing with cousin Nate...
Lookin too cute!

Playing with cousins Kayla, Brad, Morgan, and Zach at Nanny & Grandpa's house...

Remembering his roots :)
Playing with Nanny...

Hanging out with Pap and Papaw Neal...

Riding his first Harley with Great Uncle Bruce...Visiting the Rengers and Carpenter'sHangin with Auntie Janine...
Meeting our friend Eli and his Momma, Alyson

Catching up with good friends...The Shope men...Dedication Day with Auntie Janine (Owen's godmother), Kirk, Mommy & Daddy

Photo shoot with Nanny & Grandpa...
and Grandma & Grandpa Shope!

Meeting Great Grandma Nan

Lunch with Auntie Eve...
A picnic at the petting zoo with Grandma & Grandpa Shope

A visit to Titi Taryn & Uncle Todd's house
A little snack...
First solid foods...or "What the heck kind of milk is this??!!"

Avocado is yummy (it's actually his favorite now)!Labor Day at Uncle Dave & Aunt Traci's House!

The brothers and their sons...

The family...

and new baby Ethan

Cousin McKayla wanted to make sure Owen had enough toys to play with :)
The elder Shope men make cheese pie- a family favorite!

The little family (minus Maggie)...
Relaxing back at home...
As you can see (if you made it this far!) we've had quite a busy summer and fall. We've actually traveled back to Morgantown since these pics for our good friend Trina's wedding and spent some great time with Grandma Betty and friends there.

Since our travels Owen is crawling with lightning speed and always seems to aim for the exact object/location that we are sure he cannot/will not reach. First time parents, geez! He's also pulling himself up and loves to climb over a mound of pillows and fall back onto the bed with glee.

Stay tuned for Halloween pics- before the end of Oct. - I promise!!! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's official- we're definitely CA residents now!

An eventful Tuesday in SoCal! After almost a year in Pasadena, we just experienced our first earthquake! We are all fine- Owen was with our friend and babysitter, Kim since Brian was in class, but he is totally fine. I don't think he even knew anything was happening! Kim said he was in the swing hanging out and his eyes got really wide, but he didn't cry. Kim's daughter Zoe slept through the whole thing (she's 7 mos. old). I was at work and Bri at class. We got under our desks here, but nothing fell. Brian was in class where they also made a move under the desks. It felt like the building swayed for about 10 -15 sec, but it actually wasn't too bad. Our immediate concern was of course Owen. The adventures of a 5 month old in southern CA!! :) Maggie probably fared the worst since she was home alone. :( Poor doggie. Brian said she was slinky and scared and so happy to see him when he got home. A few things fell off of our shelves, but nothing was broken.

They're reporting it initially as 5.8, but we've heard here that they've revised that reading to a 2.3. CNN has a story up if you want more details.

Here's the USGS map- we are just 11 miles north of LA in Pasadena.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A month of firsts

I guess really every month the first year is a month of firsts, but this past month Owen has enjoyed many new things, which we love to chronicle with dozens of pictures! It has been over a month since we have posted here- a month that has been full of celebration and thanksgiving over O's successful surgery and recovery and the birth of our new nephew, Ethan Chase (to Brian's brother Dave, his wife Traci, and daughter McKayla), and also of trepidation and stress over the health of my Dad, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (which is cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow) and renal failure (he is currently on dialysis and chemo) the day after O's surgery. Geez- it's been a lot.

However, in the midst of all of the stuff of life we continue to enjoy our son and marvel at his amazing feats each day- he is now rolling over and laughing all of the time. He loves to play and is trying really hard to sit up on his own. Brian calls me at work with the latest report and I rush home to watch him "perform", which he continues to remind us, he does not do on command. :) The kid can be laughing for 10 minutes straight and as soon as I try to catch it on film, he frowns.

We have posted a few pics of the last 6 wks. below- enjoy!

This one is post-surgery (you can see a little bit of dried blood around his nose).

It was so amazing that he didn't even have ANY visible stitches and recovered in no time! It was great that Brian and I were both off from work and school and could spend time just caring for him. We also had a visit from our friend Ange from the CCO who was in town for a wedding and our friend Francis from Morgantown who now lives in CO. We were able to have dinner with Francis and really enjoyed seeing him after several years (I lived with his family in Morgantown before Brian and I were married).

The worst part of recovery was really the nose stints- aka Owen's nose ring (see pic below). We ended up cutting them out (with the surgeon's permission) the day Owen and I flew unexpectedly to the East coast to see my Dad just following his hospitalization and diagnosis of cancer. It was a crazy trip- there and back in less than four days and a baby who had surgery just 10 days before. He was AWESOME on the plane- it was his first flight and he did so well and we shlepped all of his stuff through the airport- O in the baby bjorn and Mommy shuffling through by herself (Brian stayed here in CA - he's in the middle of summer classes). We were so grateful for all of you who prayed for us during this adventure together- it was quite a feat, but went amazingly well and it was great to see my Dad and for him to see Owen.

This picture was taken at Nanny and Grandpa's house on that trip- my Mom and Dave (aka Nanny and Grandpa) helped so much and kept Owen for me so I could go to chemo with my Dad. Owen was also able to meet his two Great-Grandma's, Great Uncles, Great Aunt, Aunt, Uncle and cousins, and many friends while we were there. It was his first trip back East and his first time staying at Nanny and Grandpa's house! He had a lot of fun!

Earlier this month we celebrated the 4th (another first for O) with friends from Morgantown (Tyler and Jenny and their two adorable boys) who are here in Pasadena for the summer. Tyler is doing research here at the Huntington Library and they graciously offered for us to go and hang out with them and swim in the pool at the house they are renting for the summer. We had a lot of fun catching up and it was Owen's first time swimming. He wasn't too sure what to think at first. but eventually Daddy convinced him it was ok.

More smiles every day!
Look at those baby blues! He turns heads everywhere he goes and we are thinking we MIGHT let him start dating when he's 35.

We are now preparing for another trip back East for all of us to see both families and friends. We are looking forward to our time in Parkersburg, Morgantown, and Hershey and can't wait for Owen to meet many people who are so important in our lives. Look for more trip pics in the next few weeks. Until then...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Post-op!

Thanks so much for all of your emails and calls! We are finally home after an unexpected hospital stay, although this had nothing to do with Owen's response, but more to do with the caution of our anesthesiologist (she keeps all babies under 5mos. overnight for observation and O is 4 mos). We waited quite a while this morning for the "orders" to go home to come through, as the dr.'s told us we were going home at 7:30am on their rounds, but then went into another surgery forgetting to submit the order that we could in fact head home. Alas, such is life in the midst of a busy hospital! We were very grateful that everyone at Children's was so nice and helpful- the nurses so gentle and supportive of us and the doctors very communicative and understanding- esp. the 2 female anesthesiologists on Owen's case! Our craniofacial surgeon looked like he was going to the circus the morning of the surgery. Brian and I both laughed that he had his "game face" on and when talking with us appeared to have tons of energy and just couldn't wait to get started- the mark of a good surgeon, I suppose, on a Monday morning at 7am! :)

Again, everything went very well- Owen is very swollen and recovery will take a while. He has nasal stints in his nose to hold the shape (one of his nostrils was flattened as a result of the cleft lip and they moved it up a bit) that are supposed to stay in for 4-6 wks., yet he is already frustrated with them and trying to figure out how to breathe with smaller openings in his nose. He did nurse once at the hospital, but hasn't since (they had him on an IV), so we are hoping he will soon begin to nurse regularly and would ask your prayers for that as well.

We will post some pics of our brave, brave boy before surgery as soon as we rest a bit- they woke us every 2 hrs. last night in the hospital to check his vitals and we are all exhausted. Thanks again for your love and care- we are new to this adventure of parenthood and the fact that our heart now walks around outside of our bodies! We are anxious for him to be more comfortable and literally "breathe easier". That is the hardest thing for me- watching him struggle to breathe normally with the stints. Brian struggled yesterday as we heard him screaming and wailing in agony after he woke up and spoke of the pain of that moment. I, rather, was overjoyed to hear his cries, which in my heart meant, "he is awake (my biggest fear was that he wouldn't wake up) and thriving and wants us to know his pain!" ;) I suppose that is one of the beautiful things of parenthood together as married people- one of us holds the other in weakness and those times , thankfully, often don't coincide, but offer us each the opportunity to care and uphold the other. Thank you, too, for upholding our family- we appreciate all of you! In thanksgiving...Megan

Monday, June 16, 2008


To all who visit our West Coast forum here, I wanted to let you know on behalf of Megan, Owen, and myself, Owen came through the surgery with success. He is doing well in his own room, and we are actually staying overnight with him. The change in plans came about as a result of the anesthesiologist expressing the practice to keep any infant in overnight for observation under 60 weeks (Owen came in at 53). There was no surgical need to detain him, just the unlikely and highly infrequent heart/respiratory issues that little ones like him may suffer from.

He has now a joined cleft lip, and a stitch in his right nostril that was collapsed due to the previous dysjoined muscle tissue. The notch in his gum will wait until he's older, and there seems to be no outward signs of soft palatial cleft, although the jury is out until he gets into his higher vocal communicatory ages, around kindergarten and first grade.

Sorry if this seems direct and somber; its been a tough day - I think moreso for me than Megan! We both wept when they took him, and I had trouble when he came out while Meg did a little better seeing the glass as half full. You'd think I'd be elated when we knew he was okay, but his screams and sobs will never leave my mind, which in turn made me sob. I couldn't contain myself and wanted to rescue my son from all the pain and struggle. From time to time I weep at the memory (like now), and pray that this is the worst he'll ever endure in life. And to think that others have struggled well beyond a child with a cleft lip, like the woman we met in the waiting room whose son was Owen's age with a heart transplant. This being a daddy thing is much more painful than I've ever thought. . .

For those of you who have prayed and thought of us, we cannot thank you enough. We have been aware of the work of God in our lives over this weekend and today, through your spoken and thought concerns to him on our behalf. Please continue to pray and think of us, his recovery has just begun.

More soon, perhaps when one of us isn't so raw from the experience!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Owen's surgery!

Wow- it's been so long since our last post (it's becoming a theme!)- life has been really busy lately! We are well- Brian just finished his spring quarter Friday at 5pm and we are very happy to have our Daddy back! We have been passing like ships in the night lately, passing Owen to each other on our way out the door, which has been difficult. We spent Father's Day relaxing and spending time together, which was great! I am trying to make this really quick, as we have to be up at 4:30am to leave for the hospital at 5am. Tomorrow June 16th is Owen's surgery for his cleft lip at Children's Hospital here in LA. We have been preparing for this day since his birth, and yet, several times today Brian and I have joking said, "let's just skip it!- he's perfect just the way he is!" :) Tomorrow morning at 7:30am PT Dr. Hammoudeh, the craniofacial surgeon, and his team will repair Owen's cleft lip and determine if there is a soft palate cleft (there is not a hard palate cleft, which is great news!). We would appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers as we experience this together. The staff at Children's is great and the craniofacial team is world renowned, but he is soooooo very little and he is our baby! It will probably be the longest 3.5 hours of our lives as parents, but we are trying to trust in the Lord's faithfulness and focus on caring well for Owen.

We will post an update with more details once we're home tomorrow night (Monday). Thanks is advance for your thoughts and prayers! In the meantime, here are some recent pics! Enjoy--- he is just the cutest ever!

This pic is a bit older, but we don't have many of the three of us- this was taken Easter morning .

Four months and cute as cake! He's always moving his hands and feet, which makes taking a clear picture a challenge! :)
At the Farmer's market with Mom

Happy 1st Father's Day, Daddy!
Look at that face! He's cutting teeth now, which means drool, drool, and more drool! :)
Our smiley boy- O smiles and laughs all the time now, is beginning to make other sounds, and also "talks" to us.