"New Arrival [#2]"    [ 14 ]   
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Aug 2016
 Turning 2

This was about one of the craziest summers we've ever had, and I mean that in the best sense.  :-)

Danielle being pregnant with baby #2 and all of us hoping to join them for the new arrival, we thought it would be a great idea to have Ann just go spend the summer with the Johnstons! She was very excited about this if for no other reason than to get out of the Phoenix heat... and plunge into the moist Southern heat.. (heh)... Then Ben & Danielle decided it would be a Fantastic Idea to just drive on out here to pick up both Ann and Jessi (whose husband, Philip, is in Biloxi completing his training as a meteorologist in the Air Force) and bring them both back East. Little Sophie also turned two this May, so we slapped together a birthday celebration for her during their visit just as school was letting out for Ann. (Yes, my friends, those are M&M brownies on the kitchen island with all her gifts) And as always whenever we all get together, their visit was filled with fun and games and laughter ~ just a wonderful time for all!

I hated to see them leave when they all piled into the Johnstons' truck packed to overflowing with Philip and Jessi's essential belongings ~ and all of my kids. This summer would mark the first time in 25 years I would live completely alone, providing a foretaste of what life will be like after Ann graduates in two years' time to soar off into the world on her own: my last little bird leaving the nest . . .

A surprising benefit of living on my own was that I found myself busier than ever with creative projects and new opportunities! I also cleaned and organized virtually the entire house, and saved a heap of $$$ on groceries, utilities, and the like. Another pleasant side effect was that I could cook something in the crockpot which would then serve as dinner for a full week. Not much in the way of variety, but man what a savings! And with no one to hang out with, I watched a lot less TV because that is more of a social event at our house than a solo thing. Perhaps the sting was removed from my empty-nest preview in knowing that my time alone was limited, that Ann would be returning for her Junior year in high school around the time we would all welcome baby #2 into our clan. So I got a lot done, learned GoPro Studio (sort of) and traveled quite a bit. Meanwhile, Ann got to live with the Johnstons and met a new BFF out there (Grace) and Jessi got to finally join her husband as they begin married life on their own out there for reals. It truly was All Good this summer!

Sophie helped me out ♫ playing at church
 Sophie & Grandpa
ANOTHER cross-country road trip . . ?
 In the car seat again...
Our little angel!
I can't believe I am so richly blessed!
 Cabin Coffee
My other dear blessing saying 'goodbye' at our favorite donut shop
 Donut Time
My 3 Chicklettes (and one more if you look closely) Alabama-bound!
 my Chicklettes
·     The BENINATOR     ·
More Birthday Goodness ensues
 Jessi & Sophie
Always down for some fun new games!  [ This is 'Pandemic' ]
Jessi and her niece create some Fine Art
 Sophie & Aunt Cricket
Ann took great care of Sophie over the summer
 Sophie & Aunt Ann
Mommy and Baby #1
 Sophie & Mommy
Dads are always up for a Tickle Attack!
 Tickle Attack
Like Father, like daughter
I don't know who's happier . . .  :-)
 Sophie & Daddy

Oh .. right . . This entry is all about the birth of Emilia, and not just some excuse for more fun family pix!

Emi's due-date was August 14, but mother and daughter teamed up to jump the gun by almost a full two weeks. Everything went perfectly.  :-D  Ben, Danielle, and Ann arrived at the hospital around 2:00pm that Tuesday, and by midnight they all held Emilia in their arms!  (Just Amazing)  Philip and Jessi (3 hours away by car) could not make it due to Air Force travel restrictions during his training assignment, along with Jessi's staggering lack of navigation skills. (Seriously) Nevertheless, Emilia Rosalie was born at 11:37pm Tuesday evening, August 2nd: 18½" long, 7.lb & 3 oz, nearly the same length as her sister when she was born, but a good 25% heavier. [!!] But we thank God that everything went as well as could be hoped for — and everyone is totally healthy and happy!

The hospital kept mommy and baby there for a couple of days (standard practice) letting them go home finally on Friday, when Sophie got to meet her little sister for the first time (pictured below). I arrived late the next day to finally meet Emilia on the morning of her fifth day in the world — then we took her to church! All the rockin' praise music didn't seem to phase her at all, though she does seem to be more of a serious soul than her sibling .. .

Mom & Dad prepare getting ready for their New Arrival
 Ben & Danielle
    Ann helped out   :-)
 Ann & Danielle
Daddy (again!)
 Emi & Daddy
Sopheria meets her sister for the first time!
 Sophie meets Emi
♥    Little Emilia Rosalie    ♥
 Emi snooze
Holding my second grandbaby!  Crazy-cool!
 Meeting Emilia

My visit only lasted a week. At this early age, there just is not a whole lot more to her schedule than this routine: eat / poop / sleep / repeat. Her general demeanor is pretty mellow; however, she tends to scrunch up her brow a lot, giving her a perpetual pensive or thoughtful expression. Even at this tender age, she just seems more serious than her older sister. Of course, this is all just the first few days of her life, so there's really no telling what kind of personality will emerge as she begins to engage with her family and their circle of friends in a more, you know, eyes-actually-open kind of way. She is more active than Sophie was even at this early age... For her part, Sophie is rather fascinated with this new addition, often repeating, "Mommy, baby?" as if just making sure through our repeated assertions that this baby-thing really does, in fact, belong here in her world. She already seems to be figuring out how she must now suddenly share Daddy and Mommy with this tiny person-thing that is not quite a bunny or a doll or a dog.. something I don't think she's all too sure about yet. So I took her out in the stroller a few times while I was there, walking around the neighborhood or off to the zoo one day, and so on. She will figure it all out well enough in time. Sophie is so sweet natured and has auxh a shining, caring heart.

I just cannot believe I am now a 2nd Level Grandpa! These amazing little souls created in our family joining us in the form of these beautiful little baby girls -- they just blow my mind, man .. .  :-D  I mean, I * know * this is how it all works and all .. . but there is something Entirely Different in play when YOUR babies are all grown up now, getting married and having babies of their own . .. I don't know why it is such a magical experience to hold and interact with these new little ones. It's like an ultimate 'do-over' with no strings attached when you hold them ~ just all kindza good for everyone!  Sophie still favors me like I was made of cotton candy or something, lighting up like a Christmas tree every time I show up on SKYPE, or better yet, arrive in person to lift her high up in the air and into my arms! I did nothing to deserve her sweet favor. Of course I am just as delighted to see her and pick her up and play with her and scoot her around in her stroller and make her laugh! I am just so incredibly humbled by the love of my grandchild(ren!) .. . And obviously I look forward to fostering the same sort of mutual loving relationship with little Emilia as she begins to grow into the dynamic person she is destined to become. This is all just so wonderful I can hardly stand it! I feel as though I'm going to - ·` POP ´· - from happiness sometimes!! I just cannot believe how ludicrously blessed I am to find myself in this astonishing and heart-filling position in the lives of my children, and their children... What an amazing gift from God these grandchildren are, not only in the midst of our family, but in the battle-scarred heart of my soul. For all of my life's fractured plans, twisted wrong turns and weighty mistakes, I can look at them and take comfort in the fact that somehow, somewhere along the way, something just went Right for me, for all of us, and for our entire family. How very precious to me is our growing family!

 Emi snooze
(2016)  15