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!!