Sunday, August 16, 2015

Moving on

Mel and I, we like where we've been living. It's been fun. Not "a Saturday at Six Flags where there's no lines and you can ride every ride as many times as you want" kind of fun, but more like a "opening up a pack of baseball cards and out of the 20 of them inside the pack 19 of them are worthless but one of them is a Mike Trout rookie card." kind of fun. Did that even make sense? No? Okay.

Anyway, somewhere along the line we had decided we would like to move out of our house before Maddie is elementary school age. It's not that the area is terrrrrrrrible, and no offense to any educators in the Arlington school district because I'm very certain you all do a fabulous job molding the minds of the youth of America. But, we really wanted to move to an area with better schools.

Then we heard about what we could potentially get for selling, and decided to strike while the preverbal iron was hot. And that's where we are today. We close on this house, the first house we've ever lived in, on Monday. We're moving out of here sometime next week.

It hasn't been without its fair share of stress and drama and all that comes with the territory of selling a house. Getting a brand new roof, among other things, has a tendency to do that to a person. But we know that a house is simply a house, and it doesn't make a difference if it's your first, your last, or anywhere in-between. "Home is where the heart is" and all that jazz - the only true home should, and always will be, the one we all are anticipating getting to one day when we leave our earthly bodies behind.

But that being said, I've gotten pretty sentimental lately thinking about some of the memories we've made here, first and foremost with our two beautiful daughters we brought home from the hospital.

(Sidenote: Good Lord we both look tired in this picture.)

(Another sidenote: Sorry for you being completely blinded in this pic, Maddie.)

We didn't get any pics taken outside of the house when Norah was brought home, but I remember the days in complete contrast to one another. A grey, overcast day thanks to a cold front blowing through the day before on the day Maddie came home, and a bright, sunny and warm early afternoon when Norah got here.

Other things/moments that I will miss about our house:

- Having easy access to the park. A quick 5 minute stroll through our neighborhood would spit us out inside the park right on the trail. It also caused a plethora of wildlife to migrate into our neighborhood from time to time, including but not limited to turtles, raccoons, possums, armadillo, turkeys, bobcats, and coyotes. None of our dogs were ever maimed by any of these things, thank goodness, although Lacy did try to eat a grasshopper once.

- Having easy access to the Ballpark. Leaving games after the final out (which we don't really get to do anymore anyway) and making it home 10 minutes later. And Sunday afternoon nap time when there's a home game just won't be the same.

While we're on the subject of the great game (I told you we like baseball in this family, didn't I. Well we do.) October 27th, 2011. I get nauseous just bringing up that date and may have just thrown up a little inside my mouth. Mel wasn't here for that game because she was in St. Louis at the scene of the crime (and is now subsequently scarred for life). I sat in a dark living room after the conclusion of that game, the warming glow of the television long since ceased, and pondered my existence. Not exactly one of the greatest moments to have ever occurred inside these walls.

Moving on.

- I will miss the quiet times. Obviously those are few and far between now. But in the sporadic occasions when it does happen on a Saturday when Mel's at work and both girls are asleep, and I don't feel like watching anything on TV, one of my favorite things to do is Keurig up some coffee, fire up Spotify (usually some kind of Neoclassical new-age, post-rock, minimal music like Balmorhea, Sigur Rós, or something like that), and relax on the couch by the window in our living room with nothing across the street except a big open field of park land. Just me and the planes taking off and landing not very far away.

- I will miss the aforementioned big, open field across the street from our house. It wasn't really great and usually got all filled up with weeds until the city came every once in a while and mowed it all over, so I'm sure that completely wrecked people with allergies. But it was fun because it was just that - a big open field that we would stare out at from our driveway, and not another house. I'm not sure how much getting used to that will take. 

- I will miss our front porch with its ample space for two rocking chairs, which admittedly I wish I had spent more time just sitting in watching it rain, hail, sleet, snow.......anything. 

I could go on and on about this, and honestly things would be a lot tougher if we were moving somewhere much further away. Out of state or something. But we'll still be in the area somewhere, which makes things a little easier. But it's hard to not look back on this place we've lived in even if it's just been for a short amount of time and get sentimental about it. 

We'll miss you, Hinsdale Drive. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015


So it has come to my attention numerous times that I haven't blogged about anything in awhile. For that I owe you, the reader, my sincerest apologies. Truth be told we've been kind of busy...I work sort of weird hours now that give me free mornings to be a Dad and do whatever I want or need to around the house, and then after going to work in the afternoon and coming home at night all I really want to do is go to sleep. Occasionally that occurs after watching sports or an episode from a past season of 24 which we have been getting caught up on thanks to our local library. 

Where was I? Oh right, the main part of this all. We have two kids now. 

Meet Norah Rebecca Vittas. 

Norah was born on a Saturday, March the 21st, after one hellacious night of going to the hospital and sitting around for awhile before ultimately being sent back home because she just wasn't ready to come out, and then enduring what seemed like the longest 20 minute drive in the history of the world to get back home only to return to the hospital the following morning with one very pregnant wife in a boat load of pain. Seriously you guys, there was so much cursing. Such a large amount in fact that I almost considered saying something to Mel in an effort to calm her down. I quickly decided that would most likely not be in my best interest to do so for fear of her getting up out of her hospital bed, IV's and everything, and punching me through a wall. But she made it. I love her, and I'm very proud of her for enduring that and giving me one more beautiful daughter. 

Maddie got to meet her new little sister the following day up at the hospital. Her initial reaction could best be summarized with a simple "Meh." Not really that interested at all. But since that first week Norah has grown on her in a very big way, and now Maddie's always trying to give her kisses, feel the tiny baby hairs on her head, and just stare at amusement at this new little person. Lately she's started "helping" Mel out by handing us her empty bottle to put in the sink and such. 

"Oh, watch out for Maddie!" you say. "She's going to get so jealous!" you say. Although Maddie can be a stubborn little toddler at times and it's definitely a possibility of happening, we've also been blessed to have a very affectionate and loving kid, so if she's going to get all jealous on us hopefully it's only because she hasn't gotten a chance to hug and kiss her sister enough. 

Which brings me to my next subject: The hearing test. We tried to not make finding out what the results of Norah's test would be a big deal, and I think for the most part we accomplished that. Seeing how Maddie has been doing learning to overcome her hearing impairment has been insightful for us, and also gave us a little sense of knowing what to expect with that sort of thing. So I can't really say we would have been ready for anything, but we kind of were preparing ourselves to be. 

So Norah failed her first test. Okay, fine. Tomorrow is another day and all that. Sometimes newborns fail their first hearing test and it ends up being nothing. Of course, Maddie also failed her first test and we all know how that turned out. But then, Norah passed her second test with flying colors. Our first reaction upon hearing this news was gladness and maybe a bit of relief. But after the nurse exited the room, that's when the gravity and realness of the moment hit us. Mel and I cried and cried, because we felt so horrible being happy that Norah was able to pass her test while her sister isn't so lucky. We felt horrible, but we both know it's just the first of many circumstances like this we'll all have to get through together as a family - and I know we will. 

One last thing, because I know I have some family member out there wondering: No, we haven't taken Norah to her first game yet. 

We love you, Norah. Maddie's little sister. Our little daughter. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

February Update

(Editor's note: This blog post has intentionally been written in a question and answer format.)

Hey John! Sure is swell to hear from you again! What are you up to? 
I'm blogging.

That sure sounds neat! Whatcha gonna talk about?

Man, sounds awesome! Can't wait to hear more about it!

Well, for starters I'm working new hours now. Not to get into any details, but the industry I work in currently is experiencing some not so good times right now. But when one door closes, as the saying goes, another one opens. This particular door opened to a new opportunity in a different department doing some different stuff during what I guess you could classify as "off-shift" hours. Vague enough for you? Good.

It's been an adjustment, and leaving to go to work in the afternoon has become increasingly difficult for me knowing that after I leave I won't get to see Maddie again until the following morning (although we do FaceTime every night while I'm eating dinner at work). But I really love being home in the mornings and so does Mel. I've even gotten to take her to school this week, which freaked her teacher out a little bit ("is everything alright with Melissa???" Yes yes, she's fine.)

And I know what you're thinking: What about the Rangers? How will you watch the games? Well, the short answer is I probably won't. Unless it's Saturday, Sunday, or a west coast start time. But in case you had forgotten, things are very rapidly going to become quite busy around the old plantation soon. Hey, that sounds like a nice segue-way into my next subject. Next question, please.

That's our second daughter's face, partially blocked by her arm, by the way.

So I guess that little bundle of joy should be a-comin soon! Hope you guys are ready! 

That wasn't really a question.

Hard to believe that yes, in about one month's time we will become a family of four. It feels like things have flown by this time around. It went by fast with Maddie, but that didn't really happen until the first of the year, and then it zoomed by right up until the day she was born in April. With Norah, this has been at warp speed pretty much from the day Mel found out she was pregnant again.

How are we doing? I guess we're good to go. Maybe a little stressed. Okay, I'M maybe a little stressed. As you can imagine, the work situation hasn't helped matters much. Mel is too busy planning things and looking for headbands to go with a dress for newborn pictures and making meals to stick in the freezer and deciding that Maddie's big girl bed doesn't look awesome against this wall and needs to be against that wall instead to be stressed.

Among the things we're looking forward to in all this, we're both very intrigued to see what similarities and differences there are between Norah and her big sister (man, that sounds weird). Is she going to have the same personality as Maddie, who loves to laugh at everything? Are they going to be exact opposites? Is she going to be a horrible sleeper, unlike her sister who can go Rip Van Winkle on you pretty well?

Is Norah going to pass her first hearing test, and not have to endure everything her sister is going through? We just don't know. We're anxious to find out all of these things, and to love our second little girl to the ends of the earth and back, just as we do our first.

Say, how's that little ball of energy Madeline doing? I bet she's cookin' up some trouble right now! 

Well since it's 12:03 AM as I am writing this, no she is not. But Maddie is not really a ball of energy, oh no. I wouldn't call her that at all. Perhaps something more accurate, like what about: A spherical shaped object of massive amounts of propulsion. She's ALWAYS going. She's pretty much everything we want and need in a child. She keeps us on our toes, she makes us laugh, makes us cry a lot too, and makes us both realize the kind of parents that we want to be: Supportive, caring, not over-bearing, and always there for our children whenever they need us.

Maddie has been wearing hearing aids for five months now. They are in from the time she gets up in the morning until she goes down for a midday nap, and then are back in her ears when she gets up until she goes to sleep for the evening. We've changed battery types and can now get about 4-5 days worth of juice out of them, depending on how often they're being used, and we also still have to watch out for the occasional wandering toddler fingers to pull one out an ear and insert it into her mouth because it looks like it might be fun to chew on.

She's also been in speech therapy for five and a half months, and this is the most important part of it all.

Having a child with a disability like we do with Maddie, it's real easy to put up a force field around them and yourself and tell everyone else around you that she's just like all the other kids. That part of it is true - Maddie is just like all the other kids. She loves to play with the dogs, loves the swings at the park, loves to read, loves to kick her Frozen ball around the house, loves playing in the dirt.......all of that. As Mel talked about in her last blog, she was made in the image of God just like the rest of us were. He knew what He was doing when he made her, just as He did with everybody else. It's just that Maddie's ears don't work quite as normally as the rest of the kids around her do.

Now with all that being said, yesterday at speech therapy might have been one of, if not the best 45 she's had there. I mean, Maddie was responding to everything just like she should. She was repeating things, responding the way she should to everything and it was wonderful to see. She's come so far from the first therapy session where it was more or less just getting Maddie to turn and look at you when we made a syllable sound.

A few weeks ago, seemingly out of the blue, Maddie said the word "baseball" to us while we were playing outside. It was like nothing we had ever heard before: Clear as day, almost perfect consonants and was awesome. She had said other things up to that point too, your Mamas, Daddies, doggies, etc. But to us, when she said that it was a clear indication that everything we're doing, the hearing aids, the therapy, the sitting next to her at the dinner table making animal and transportation noises - it's working, it's all working. No doubt there's still going to be tough days for her and us. We worry almost daily if she's screaming and not cooperating because she's regressing or just being a toddler. But man, it was awesome.

In my head, I keep playing over scenarios of when she's older and in school and having to deal with questions from other kids about why she has to wear those things in her ears all the time. Maybe she won't know what to tell them, maybe she'll get upset and sad and come home crying to us wanting to know why she has have them. Or further down the road than that, and how they might affect whether or not she'll be good at sports. Or even further down the road than that, when she meets a boy and what his reaction will be when she explains going on with her ears to him? The time will come to address things like that, but not just yet because she's still just a kid. A kid who's about to become a big sister. Man, still sounds weird.

Wow John, that was really sweet! Really tugged at the ol' heart strings!

Please stop.

Ok, sorry.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Parenting is hard

The last week or so has been tough.  After having an awesome and super productive day at speech therapy two weeks ago, last week was not as successful.  Not that she did "bad," but I was disappointed after such an good appointment the week before.  As soon as we got in the car I had a mommy meltdown.  I started bawling.  (and, as John can attest, I can bawl)

I was sad for Madeline.  Sad that she isn't "normal."  Sad that she will always have to work harder.  Sad that her peers are, by and large, much more advanced that she is.  Sad that she will struggle with things that come so easily to most other kids her age.   Sad that she has an overly emotional mom who will always cry and worry. Her speech therapist - Noelle, her audiologist - Dr. Wheeler and her pediatrician, Dr. Olivo have all assured us that they expect her to catch up very quickly.  We are working with her at home, but of course I always question how much more I could and should be doing.  And it's true, we have seen tons of improvement and advancement in the last couple of months, even though she is still months behind where she "should be."

But Maddie is normal.  She is her normal.  She is the kid that God designed and created.  And as I was reminded in church yesterday, who am I to question the God of the universe and why He made her the way He did??  Of course no parent ever wishes anything "abnormal" with their children, but seriously, why the crap am I sad that God gave John and I a healthy, spunky ringleted daughter with a laugh that will make you pee your pants laughing?!

So really this brief post is just a little rambling memoir to myself.  Reminding me that as much as I like to pretend, I am not the one in control.  I can't do and plan it all.  My daughter was made in the image of God and created just as He intended.   No one said being a parent was easy.  No one said you will ever stop worrying.  So shut up, Melissa.  Stop crying.