Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Merry Christmas, everyone! It's been an exciting Christmas so far! After my own attempt to give myself a bath, Daddy gave me my first real bath in my new tub. It felt SO nice! While Daddy was giving me my bath, Mommy had a scare. My diaper bag fell onto the stove, which was on and we started a little fire! Fortunately, it was soon put out and Mommy's new blood pressure medicine was put to good use! Now Daddy is holding me while talking to my Gramma Chi. I like to have my eyes open now and there's so much to check out!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Yesterday was a long day for me. They woke me up every two hours, since I'm too sleepy sometimes to wake-up on my own. I sure like my sleep. So, to be awakend every 2 hours makes you kinda sleepy. So was I, but fortunately they also fed me and changed me at those times so I can't complain too much.
Today I'm going back to church for my first Christmas service. I'm also waiting for my Aunt Liz and her boyfriend to visit since they might come too. The last time I was at church I was a true rock-star. Everyone was oohing and awwing over me. He, he, I can't help it that I'm gorgeous. I have that from both my mommy and my daddy.
OK, I'm back in Opa's arms taking a nap so I can be fully rested when we go to church... or do they want to put me in my beloved milk-induced coma... Only time will tell.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Dedication Letter for Daniel Joel de Jong
December 19, 2008
Sweet Daniel Joel,
Before you were conceived,
we wanted you
Before you were born,
we loved you
Before you were here an hour,
we would die for you
This is the miracle of love
Maureen Hawkins’ adapted words are our own as we bask in the honor of being your daddy and mommy. For much of our lives it seems, the best things have been worth the wait. Your daddy and mommy waited more than 30 years to find each other, and we know that God has created us just for, and only for, each other. We lost two babies before you came home to us, and once we knew you were coming, it was a long nine months filled with complications and challenges. Once you were delivered to this side of life, we found no guarantees of an easy road, and today we are especially grateful to still be a family of three. We may not always feel it or express it—especially when you are older and testing your expanding boundaries, rights and responsibilities—but you, sweet son, were definitely worth the wait. It is an honor to be married to each other, and it is a privilege to parent you. Of all the babies, in all the countries, in all the world…God gave us you.
There’s something spiritual that happens when two people marry. They are no longer two separate individuals, but one new unit, a “we,” a third personality: who the two of us are together as a couple. Given this holiday season, we especially like the way Jen’s friend Fred Stoeker puts it: Envision the groom as a solid red candy cane, and the bride as a solid white candy cane. The colors of both the husband and wife, though distinct, now intertwine and are expressed together. Daniel, we love the flavor of us.
Sixteen months ago, we stood in front of friends and family to make our vows on what would have been your Gramma Chi and Grampa Elmer’s 40th wedding anniversary. We wanted to redeem the day of July 29, and we believe we did. Today is December 19, one day past your Oma and Opa’s 39th wedding anniversary. We think these dates are significant. Daniel, we believe that marriage is not a covenant between a man and woman, but between a couple together and God. God will not break His covenant and neither will we. You will always have your Daddy and Mommy. Daddy knows that the best way to love you is to love your Mommy. And Mommy knows that the best way to love you is to love your Daddy. Our vows are to love each other from better to worse, to better again. So many people miss out on that last part. Though we haven’t been married long, we have endured enough trials to know that our love, with God’s protective hand, will survive the test of time. And our love for you will be constant as well. No matter what happens, through good times and bad times, whether near or far away, you will always be our son, we will always be your parents and you will always be loved.
Parenting is a privilege we have prayed for. At this dedication ceremony, we are dedicating ourselves to earn the privilege given us. Though we dedicate you to God, the truth is that you already belong to God, you have always been His. We are the ones to whom something has been given. God has given you to us, not as a possession – we do not own you – but as a gift and trust to nurture, guide, and encourage. So today we are here to acknowledge what you are, a gift from God, and to covenant with God, and with you, to be the parents that He asks us to be and that you deserve.
We dedicate ourselves, as your mother and father, to introduce you to our heavenly Father. Our hope is that you will grow to be a man who knows God and loves God. Our prayer is that you will see Christ in us and through us as we model His life, His love, His life and His reconciliation. We will pray for you and with you – teaching you that God hears you and cares about what you have to say. We pray for the day when our faith in Jesus Christ becomes your own.
As the future patriarch of our family, we took great care in naming you after two godly men you can look to as examples of how to lead your own family someday.
Dan Kennedy is part of Jen’s “heart family.” In Dan we see a strong man leading a strong woman, drawing out her strengths and lending his own strengths to make a more complete whole. We see a loving daddy who embraces his role as mentor and teacher to his growing family. We see a man who loves God and is willing to sacrifice his own wants for the needs of his family. We see a man who is intelligent and creative, mature and fun-loving and who, in general, greatly enriches the life of all who know him.
Joel Vriend is part of Niels’ “heart family. In many ways, the Vriend family is to Niels what the Kennedys are to Jen: an adopted family of the heart. In Joel we see friendliness, his gift for hospitality, his love for the Lord and his earthly family along with his fun-loving nature that make him a man to be admired. Next year he and his wife Carolyn will join Mommy and Daddy in parenthood and we will look forward to walking this privileged road together. In Joel we also see a man who is willing to sacrifice his own wants for the needs of his friends and family, who is intelligent and creative, mature and joie d’vivre and whom in general, greatly enriches the life of all who know him. Daniel, in the future we hope that others will say the same about you.
D is for DARE. Dare to do the right thing. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
A is for ALWAYS. Always seek the best in others.
N is for NEVER. Never define anyone by their worst moment.
I is for INITIATE. Initiate peace, whenever possible, as far as it is up to you
E is for EMBRACE. Embrace the uniqueness of who God created you to be: a child of God, a Dutch American, the future patriarch of the de Jong family
L is for LOVE. Love God, love others, love yourself.
The trust God has placed in us when He gave you to us is a responsibility we do not take lightly. We ask the friends and family gathered here today to be witnesses to our dedication to God, and our dedication to you. We do not imagine that we will be the perfect parents; neither do we assume that you will be the perfect child. So while we will strive to be your greatest advocates and fans, we know we will make mistakes and we will let you down. And while you will be the source of our deepest joy, you may also be the source of our greatest heartaches. Despite our shortcomings, we know that the God who, from oceans apart, brought us together, will hold us together as we see together, to love him and to love you.
We’ll close our dedication with a verse we have picked for you: 2 Chronicles 16:8--For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
It is our prayer that our Father will find you—and us—to be completely His.
We love you more than we knew we could,
Daddy and Mommy
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We would like to compile a scrapbook of "Welcome to the World" letters to Daniel. We're looking for words of wisdom, blessing, Scripture, and/or stories about your relationship to his Mom and/or Dad. If you'd like to participate, please send/ email/ drop off--whatever is most convenient to you--a handwritten letter, email to print out, scrapbook page all decorated, etc., along with your photo. There’s no deadline, but we’d love to have his book complete by his first month birthday on January 9.
Please email us if you need our contact info...We'd rather not post it here!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
That was BEFORE 8pm...
It was a little after 8pm, after the latest OB doctor and the neurologist on-call left that we started working on trying to find the most comfortable position. To make a long story short, we found one. Ironically, it involved a cheap cardbox box that Mom brought over earlier today. We lowered the head-part of the bed and put her legs on the box. Jen wanted to do try some techniques she learned from her good friend Jen Vv whilst working on a previous health issue. The technique called bio-feedback lets you focus on relaxing particular muscles that are - in this case involuntarily - cramping up. If you don't conciencusly work and focus on them you'd never know they are cramping up.
Once we got her legs resting on the box we focused on her legs and literally within minutes we started to see results (helped by switching her pain meds from morfine to percacet). We figured that with previous similar issues Jen seems immune to morfine. First we repositioned her legs and worked with her knees until she was able to actively relax them. After that she started to have good movement in her arms again and we did a few abdominal exercises. She also tolerated those extremely well. She was able to completely lift her buttocks off the bed - pretty good for 4 days post op c-section - and we knew we struck gold. Little by little all her functions started to come back.
It is absolutely amazing - you can call it miraculeus - to see how fast after we put her legs on a cardbox everything started to come back. Can you believe it, a couple multi-thousand dollar tests and drugs... nothing. A $1 cardbox and 30 minutes of leg exercises and... voila. Most issues resolved.
The downside of the whole MRI thing is that now - due to the radioactivity - we can't breastfeed Daniel for 24 hours. Fortunately, we had enough breastmilk in storage from previous pumping sessions for 2 more feedings, but he'll need 3 or 4 formula feedings tomorrow. Ah well, better a little bit of formula than a radioactive kid... ;-)
We're going to settle down and get ready for bed with a very good change of a discharge tomorrow! We never thought that would be possible around 2pm. What a difference 6 hours and a large group of people praying can make.
Good night / Welterusten
Alright, time for some new text. This time it's daddy writing while mommy is having 2 MRI's done. She also had a CT scan today. So what happened...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
- The highlight of the day was calling China (yay Skpe!) to introduce Daniel to his namesake, Dan Kennedy. A very emotional call for everyone involved. And that's all I'll say for now, or I'll start crying and not mention anything else!
- Lots of phone calls and emails! Many thanks to those who called, emailed and left messages on here and Facebook. We so appreciate the love of our friends and family around the world!
- First non-family visitors. Our good friends, the Lipfords, visited today, along with our friends Fantasia and Star. An unexpected surprise was a visit from Sue, our first post-partum nurse. She felt bad about the long wait I endured while the pharmacy lost, messed up and otherwise delayed my pain meds for six hours yesterday. She brought an adorable dog rattle as a gift to apologize. Totally unneccessary, but absolutely appreciated.
- Flowers! My sweet hubby brought two dozen red roses. We also received a beautiful poinsetta plant from our church, as well as some pretty yellow and white flowers from the tech team (where Niels serves). Thank you all!
- I finally started to emerge from my drug-induced stupor! I'm still on Percocet for the pain, but I can mostly function on that.
- Mom helped me start to look like I'm emerging from my drug-induced stupor. I changed from the hospital gown to my own new blue nursing gown.
- The quest to nurse continues. For all their glory, the girls are lacking a bit on their nurse-friendliness. I'll leave out the specifics, but we'll just say that we appreciate your prayers that we'll be able to overcome this obstacle. We do have a plan in place, but it will take a little bit to see results. He is losing a bit of weight, which is normal, but so far, he's still in a healthy range.
- My newest medical trick...because if there's a complication or quirk, you know I will find it...I have a swollen uvula (the thing that hangs at the back of your throat). Since I had unplanned general anesthesia, I had to be intubated. I just had a sore throat yesterday, but this afternoon I started gagging and dry heaving. I went to bathroom to check things out and saw that my uvula is so big that it actually catches in my throat and blocks my air. Go figure. I've been downing water and popsicles like nobody's business, and finally got some numbing spray (that Pharmacist has it out for me, I think!). It's still quite annoying, but I'm hopeful that it'll shrink down tomorrow...I hope!
- I changed my first diaper. A lovely #2 from my boy! Many more of those to come I sure. Daddy's turn next!
- The final weight tally was a 6 pound gain from my starting weight. Thank you, Hyperemesis Gravidarium. Current weight difference after having an 8 pound 4 ounce baby: exactly ZERO. Thank you, pre-eclampsia!
- I slept for more than 20 minutes! This new system we're trying is quite time consuming, and I haven't had much opportunity to sleep. I finally broke down and sent DJ to the nursery for a feeding (we have to supplement with formula for the time being) and was able to sleep for almost 90 glorious minutes!
- More new pictures! We've added some pictures to the Picasa link and here is the link to the FaceBook album (even non-FB users should be able to see these).
Little guy is finally starting to doze off, so I'm going to try to get a few Zzz's myself before his next feeding in 90 minutes. Sigh....
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Daniel Joel de Jong
December 9, 2008 at 7:47am
8 pounds 4 ounces (3734 grams)
20" long (51 cm)
About the birth...
This morning after a quick c-section our son Daniel Joel de Jong was born. Since the spinal didn't take completely Jen was put under general anesthesia and 15 minutes later our OB Dr. Brister came out with a beautiful baby boy. Mommy was a little groggy for the first hour out of surgery, but is awake now and we've able to nurse him already. We are now back in our room and will upload pictures soon!
About the name…
Not long after I returned from China to visit my beloved friends, The Kennedys, over Christmas 2006, I knew that I would marry Niels. Shortly after coming to this realization, he and I spent one evening talking into the wee hours about our future. Among the many topics covered that night was the names of our future children. We quickly settled on names for our first girl (hopefully, to be shared later) and boy.
With the understanding that our little boy would someday become the patriarch of the de Jong family (firstborn son of the firstborn son of the firstborn son), we wanted to bestow upon him the names of two men we respect as leaders of their own families: two namesakes to be examples and mentors to him as he grows up to lead his own family.
Daniel Kennedy and his family have become such an important part of my life. In many ways, they are the glue between my pre-injury life and my new life. Dan and I met when he came to work for Family, and I was kicked out of my office to make room for him. Feeling bad about my downgraded digs, Dan invited me over for dinner to meet his family. Pleasantly surprised to learn that they lived in the same neighborhood, I became fast friends with Dan and his wife, Sara, and I feel in love with their two little boys, Zach and Noah. Shortly thereafter, Mia arrived from Korea, and later, my goddaughter was brought home from China.
In the years that the Kennedys were my neighbors before they moved to China, they became my adopted family as well. I spent many holidays with them, and together we celebrated their milestones, as well as my own. When my book released, the Kennedys were first in line at my first book signing. When I sustained my head injury, the Kennedys stepped up to help me with my myriad of therapies. Since board games were recommended to help get the neurons firing again, we began a habit of at-least-weekly tradition of dinner and Catan. Promoted to "Aunt Jen," I was able to observe and participate in a beautifully functional and fun family. The Kennedys family model became my own. In "DK" I saw a strong man leading a strong woman, drawing out her strengths and lending his own strengths to make a more complete whole. I saw a loving daddy who embraces his role as mentor and teacher to his growing family. I saw a man who loves G*d and is willing to sacrifice his own wants for the needs of his family. I saw a man who was intelligent and creative, mature and fun-loving and who, in general, greatly enriches the life of all who know him.
Joel Vriend was Niels' best man at our wedding, and for good reason. To hear Niels say it, his journey to faith was a slow, meandering one. He doesn't have a dramatic, "one day I hit rock bottom" story. Rather, G*d nudged him this way and that, until one day, he knew that following Chr**t was the life he was meant to live.
One of the nods and nudges came in the form of Joel Vriend. In many ways, the Vriend family is to Niels was the Kennedys are to Jen: an adopted family of the heart. Through Niels' second cousin, Chad de Vries, he got to know Joel. Chad and Niels had a trip planned to Lake Placid, NY on Niels' 1997 vacation to Canada. At the last moment Chad couldn't go, but he knew a good friend and co-worker at Christian Horizon's (a group home organization for the mentally handicapped) who was both of Dutch decent and an avid fan of the Dutch National Soccer team ('Oranje') so Chad thought he'd be a good 'wingman' for the trip. And so a new friendship began.
Niels and Joel went on many trips together, both in North America and in Europe. During those trips and later both families met each other on each other's turf and – due to a similar mindset – Niels became a Vriend-family 'brother' and 'adopted' son. One other thing was that whenever Niels was in Canada or the United States he tagged along with the Vriend family on their Gathering events. These events showed him that Gathering events weren't necessarily boring and stiff and only for the 55+ like he saw in the Netherlands. That, combined with modern day event music, was enough of a nudge to guide him back to the faith. So, just by living his regular life, Joel became a major ambassador of Chr**t to Niels and he, along with his wife, Carolyn, have become dear family friends to us and a great role model for our little boy.
The Daniel of the Book is described, along with his friends, as "healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions, perfect specimens!" Daniel also had a gift for languages, which we love as we will be raising our Daniel to know both English and Dutch. And while any parent would love those characteristics to describe their son, our Hope for our precious Daniel Joel is that he would look to his two namesakes and his daddy as he grows up to be just the man his Daddy knit him in my womb to be.
For all our local friends, we're thrilled to show him off so feel free to visit us as of tomorrow (Wed Dec 10, 2008) at Aultman Hospital in Canton.
- 3 trips to the ER
- 1 night in ICU
- 8 trips to Labor & Delivery
- 11 weeks of Hyperemesis Gravidarium (severe morning sickness), including 6 weeks on a 24/7 pump of Zofran
- 3 weeks of restricted activity
- 9 weeks of bedrest due to pre-eclampsia
- 14 weeks with this insane headache
- more blood work and labs than I can count or care to remember
- and one amazing, wonderful week on our Alaskan cruise!
- for the safe delivery and health of our little boy
- for all to go well for me with the C-section
- wisdom and guidance for Dr. Brister and the rest of the medical staff who will be taking care of us
- for our little guy to take quickly and well to nursing
- for strength to adjust to a vastly different sleep schedule--especially for me, as I generally need 10 hours to function since my head-injury. I know that won't happen for the foreseeable future!
- for an easy recovery from the C-section and muscle atrophy
- for travel safety for the family and friends coming to visit us
- for Niels and I to have wisdom to be good and godly parents to our precious boy!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
One great blessing is that American Dad drove out to Ohio to spend a few days with us (translation: be Jen's caretaker and errand boy!) Tonight he and Niels put up the Christmas tree and decorations since we have something going on next week that will probably prevent us from doing anything around the house! We enlisted Dad to take a few pictures of both of us in our final days before parenthood. This one is my favorite. Click here for more.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- A full-term pregnancy: We have managed to cook baby DJ to full-term. There have been plenty of times when that seemed virtually impossible, but beaucoup prayers and lots of bedrest seem to have done the trick. We are really looking forward to Dec 9, when - Lord willing - we can finally hold our son in our arms.
- A full year of marriage (16 months in 2 days): Our first full year of marriage. We were married at the beginning of this year and will be married at the end of this year. And guess what: we haven't spend a night apart and STILL like each other...
- Idea in-progress for having only 1 house: After much prayer and counsel we've decided to pursue a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Even though it was certainly not our first choice (or even 2rd or 3rd), it is a huge relief to finally know the road to 1 house payment is finally clear.
- A new US Permanent Resident: This year the DHS finally came to its senses and let Niels stay in the US... Nah, the DHS has always been fairly helpful and quick and that alone is cause for giving thanks. After all, it is a government agency and when they are actually helpful, that is cause for praise.
- Our mid-pregnancy cruise: In August we went north, way north to Alaska for a much anticipated, relaxing and amazing week away from it all. Best of all, it was the one week that Jen felt good during the whole pregnancy.
- Lots of trips to GR: Grand Rapids was the destination of choice for a number of weekend trips to help with selling the condo, visiting friends and loading up on some Dutch goodies.
- Arizona: One year ago we were in sunny Arizona (we are writing this with snow on the ground here, sorry Mom!) where Niels met Gramma for the first time and got to take a beautiful trip through Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back. Niels was also introduced to Mom's famous chicken and wild rice... and is looking forward to more in the weeks to come.
- Gin 13: One more thing we picked-up in Arizona is the card game Gin 13. It has helped us through many hospital waits and fun times at the dinner table too... Just need to get Jen to win a bit more... We play in Dutch most of the time and Jen is getting to be quite the expert at counting (at least from 1 to 10....)
- Debt reduction: In the tough economic times we are facing we feel very thankful that we've been able to pay off all debt, short of 1 car and the house. That includes those dreadful credit cards...
- Bailey: despite a scare earlier in the year, she is still with us and healthy again. She is getting increasingly antsy about some upcoming change she can't quite figure out yet...
- Visitors: This year we've not been able to travel as much, so we were grateful to have a number of family-members and friends coming to Ohio to see us. There were: Dutch Mom and Dad, American Dad (twice!), our godson CJ and Jen's sister Liz and our good friend Gary from Canada.
- NFL Sunday Ticket: One of the bigger splurges of this year, but it made bedrest infinitely more tolerable given Jen's major addiction to the game of football. Go Vikes!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Here's a few pictures with our finished crib and changing table. We still have a few things to hang up, but Dutch Dad, we're waiting for you! :-)
We finally have a crib mattress so here's the finished crib, complete with dust ruffle, sheet, bumper and quilt.
We also got the changing pad and cover...and needed diaper supplies. We're all ready for Oma, Opa, Gramma Chi and Grampa Elmer to visit!
Auntie Liz, there'll be plenty of opportunity for you to change diapers, too!
One of the projects for Niels and Dutch Dad...hanging up the letters. (And the ledges...and the valance...and the wall art...)
And our favorite onesie...
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Our c-section is scheduled for 7am, Tuesday, December 9...just one month from today! It's been a long, difficult pregnancy and we are both ready to meet our little boy! I'm still on bed rest, which is not as fun as one might think! I've watched about as much TV as I can stand, and have become an expert on computer games. I read when my headache and dizziness isn't too bad, but for the most part, I'm learning to stay in bed, or at least horizontal. Whenever I get overly ambition, I usually pay for it for a few days. There are so many things I'd like to do, but they'll just have to wait til after our son arrives...in just one month!!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
One of those sites is www.cantonvotes.com hosted by the Dutch current affairs program EenVandaag (like 60 Minutes or Dateline NBC). Last week they interviewed me for their web-only series about Dutch people in Canton, this week they interviewed us for the national TV broadcast earlier today. There's a few shots of our car and house at the very beginning, then we're on two features between 16 and 20 minutes in. The first clip has Niels speaking English (with me), but the voiceover and second part is in Dutch.
We'll see tomorrow if it will be President Obama or President McCain...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The video is in Dutch, but it talks about that life around here revolves around church and schools and since we don't (yet) have any kids we joined a local church (there are some other reasons too, in case you were wondering... *smile*).
Pastor Greg Nettle was talking about the elections and challenged the congregation to look at the major topics not only from a personal perspective, but also 'through the eye of a Jesus-follower'.
The rest of the video is about our personal struggle with prayerfully selecting the presidential hopeful that fits best from our perspective.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
They have a Dutch and an English-language website (just click on the US flag next to the top of the page) and are covering a variety of angles; portraits of local Cantonites, an exchange program between Hoover High and a Dutch highschool in Almere (NL) and stories and pieces about the national elections with a local perspective.
One other intersting angle they are covering is Dutch nationals that have made Stark County and Canton their new home. After a tip from my dad I sent the team of EenVandaag an email last week and after a call on Saturday we arranged for them to follow and interview me during the Sunday services at RiverTree Christian Church where I was running lights that weekend. The first (short) coverage is already available - in Dutch - on their website, but a more comprehensive interview is in the works for this coming Saturday.
For those with a more limited understanding of the 'Freaky Deaky' Dutch language, here is the English translation:
Five years ago Niels came to the United States working for a logistics provider in Cleveland. There he met his wife and together with her he moved to Canton. He is a volunteer at RiverTree Christian Church, a large church in Canton. This year he cannot yet vote but the vote of his American wife feels a bit like his. They are still undecided since they feel no candidate is an obvious choice. They are leaning towards Barack Obama. On the moral issues like abortion and gay marriage they differ with Obama's points, but Obama's stance on the war in Iraq and the economy will probably sway them to Barack Obama.
After reading the story we feel the reporter captured our stance very well. We are looking forward to the follow-up story. We'll keep you posted!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Here is the process from office to nursery...
Note the litte touches of Mommy's history in the room.. the COW, the Vikings hat, DJ's uncle and his cousin CJ. Still looking for some things from Daddy. You can see more pictures of the transformation here.
Oh, and to top it off, here are two pictures of the future occupant of this beautiful room...
So, after 6 ultrasounds we finally have a profile picture... Hello DJ! Mommy and Daddy can't wait to meet you!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
We are camping at home and try to make due with some cell phone coverage and public WiFi.
Niels, Jen, baby DJ and Bailey