Thursday, October 29, 2015

Days 25-29: When Three's Company (Missing Dad)

So, the end of our time in the Midwest fast approaches... I finished my classes today, and tonight will be my last night at my in-laws's house until Christmas. I love spending time with them and being here, and am also very ready to go home to Will... the girls are ready too, I think. These trips are important, though, and here's how we survive through 3+ weeks without Dad.

1. Helping Hands

As I type this post, my MIL is pushing Grace in her little tykes care, complete with noises and peeled clementines. (They're going to the "drive-in" to watch Sesame Street!) Laura is napping, and I was able to teach two classes today without once wondering how she is doing. This was the biggest reason we went home for so long - Will's Trauma schedule makes him less helpful than say, his ER schedule, and since October is a conflict-free month, we headed home for extra help and lots of loving arms.

2. Adjusting nap times

The girls still cannot sleep in the same room together well, even with the dueling sound machines. So, adjustments abound. But the bonus adjustment is ME getting a nap time occasionally (or, at least, sleeping in!!!!!!!!!!), and that alone is worth coming home for these days.

3. FaceTime

This is probably my sanity savor. If I know Will is off, I can call him to show him the madness/ cuteness. Yesterday, we chatted after my AP class and before his night shift. It was just in time to walk into the nursery where Grace and my MIL were dancing to the Wheels on the Bus. It was the cutest thing, and Will was able to see Grace dance! On the weekend, I called him while we were out to dinner with my family, and he got to see Grace walk outside while we waited for our meals. Watching her lift her right leg higher and have an improved gait was such a treat. When we left, she was walking/crawling about 55:45. Now, she's walking 95 percent of the time.

Same with Laura - she is moving and grooving, pulling herself up and babbling. She turned 8 months yesterday and is the joy of my soul. Who else laughs so hard at my funny faces? Who else smiles when she sees me? And FaceTime allows Laura to have a similar contact with Will - she recognizes her Dad and tries to grab the iPad, as if to grab onto him. 

Then, of course, we have FaceTime dates where he studies and I do school work. Long distance dates are such a need to me, and I'm so grateful for this technology! There is something about seeing someone's face when you're talking to them that is much more personal-feeling.

4. Leniency

Even though we are around more people (= more help), our schedule is still very, very different, and I need to remind myself that when I'm still stressed out, everything is okay. When I miss phone calls or am disorganized or am still behind on grading, it's okay. I'm keeping my workload at manageable, the girls are happy and it's good to spend time with family and friends. 

5. Talk About (and to) Dad

We bring up Dad in conversation every day. Grace likes seeing pictures of Dad (and says "Dada!"), and we take pictures to text him. Grace likes cell phone pictures (and will take 6 zillion of herself if left alone with the iPad!), and when he sends the girls a message, I can give them another connection to their far-away father.

Now, do the girls really know what's going on? Do they understand passage of time and that we're going to be in the car for another 12 or so hours on Sunday? Probably not. But they know who their dad is, and that's a good connection to have.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Days 23 & 24: They See Me Rollin'...

Mimi and Grampy (I mean, my parents) took Grace and Laura out for groceries. Whole Foods will never be the same.

Sweaters: Hanna Andersson
(thanks Mimi and Grampy!)

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 22: Superhero Status

"Darkness can only be scattered by light. Hatred can only be conquered by love." - St. John Paul II

“Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to him in prayer and in love. Ask him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with him who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”!” —John Paul II; World Youth Day, 1997

"Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them. Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created and loved by God. Jesus Christ is "the only Son from the Father…full of grace and truth." —John Paul II; World Youth Day, 1993. Denver, Colorado


Happy feast day to the only pope I've seen in person!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Days 19, 20 & 21: For Better and For Worse

I uploaded a picture of our dogs on the 19th, but they were not properly published (in all their glory).

I took this cute picture on the 20th, but I had an appointment for my back (feels better!!!) and completely forgot to publish. Grace and I on a walk/ leaf expedition!

So here we are, on the 21st, and I almost went to bed without posting. It's been a long day. The man said that I would feel like a truck hit me (after working on my back muscles and nerves) and dang, it was a lethargic feeling day. Combine this with Grace Harriet only having one nap and one melt-down in a Target aisle later, we're ready for an early bed time.

And speaking of the 21st: I always think of my marriage to Will on the 21st of every month. {2 years and 10 months into forever!}

This is a view by his parents's house, a view we often saw during many walks together - talking and laughing, musing and planning.

In a total God move last week, a miracle happened: the stars aligned. Will mentioned wanting to go home for Christmas (he hasn't been home since Christmas 2013), and since we now know his Christmas schedule, I did a little plane research and found TWO direct flights with three seats together at a reasonable rate. So, for the first time in two years, we'll be back here, together again, and able to take a walk around the hilly terrace again. Or even better - a cold day hike around Mt. St. Francis, the monestary grounds nearby, where Will proposed.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Days 16 & 17: Failure

What is failure?

Laura is succeeding at pulling herself up on everything!

I've been thinking on this a lot. I am taking a philosophy class right now as part of my Masters (that I am attempting to get... slowly...) and the priest who is teaching the class told us how he failed his first philosophy class. Oh, how I loved hearing that!!

Don't worry - I am not failing the class. (A! For now!) But we Baldwins have had a lot of things pop up on our radar and when plans hit the pavement, my plans are the ones that (usually) get dashed.

To be fair, Will and I talked about this during our dating time/ engagement. Will's career path, at its beginning, would take priority. His path is pretty rigid and its requirements are high. During our marriage, we know this reality.

Being a writer, on the other hand, requires a lot of work with very little yield ($$). A lot of proposing articles, back and forth with editors, re-writes and then the blessed check comes in the mail, and a third of your groceries are paid for. Which is why I tend to do more unpaid work, because it's less pressure in that respect, so I can write more (for less) - but also less professional, so the double-edged sword continues.

Then there's my academic life, which is exciting, and slow. Family life makes it hard, when you're the one mostly caring for the babies. That being said, without Will, it would be nonexistent. Even last night, as I'm whining/ explaining to him over FaceTime about the list of Non-Negotiables that have to be completed this weekend, he reminded me that I am doing all this because I want to, and because I love it. I love learning, I love teaching, and I love writing and editing.

Deep breath. :)

 It's something I need to remind myself of as a mother as well. When I have to sneak into the room so Grace doesn't wake up, and rush to get Laura six times a night so she won't wake up Grace: it's exhausting. I wake up and cringe when I hear more crying, and it can be really frustrating. Especially being away from home - the girls are more clingy, which is hard when I need to get more work done.

Then I remember that I am not here on this earth to succeed. I am here to love.

I am here to love my husband by supporting him in his vocation (and listen to his awe-inspiring stories - he literally held a man's heart this week! During some kind of trauma resuscitation procedure). I am here to love my daughters and support them in all their endeavors. I love Grace as she throws another tantrum over food, and patiently go through all the options with her until we settle on an agreed upon food to eat. I love Laura while she's teething and support her in all her adventures... which sometimes means rescuing.

And I love myself, and I recognize that I have limits - lovely limits, and possible-to-climb mountains. I must love myself as God loves me, and forgive myself for my apparent (to me) failures.

Failure in this life, I think, can only be a failure to love.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Days 14 & 15: LoveRuns

I've been friends with Ariel since freshman year of college and now, I'm following her campaign to help end human trafficking. More importantly, I'm contributing to her goal (she's about $270 short at the time of this blog entry)! Because freedom can never be taken for granted.

Ariel (middle) and her running partners
Her story here (thanks for reading!!):

Ever since my first half-marathon in the spring of 2010, right before my graduation from Hillsdale College, I've know that I wanted to run a full marathon. Each year after graduation I'd wonder if it was the year I'd get to train for this endurance race; but each year I had big life changes that required my time and resources: moving to another state and starting a new job, getting married, moving again and going to grad school and working full time.

Once my husband Nic and I moved back to Michigan, I really hoped my time had come to train for and run my first marathon. The biggest obstacle seemed to be that no one wanted to run it with me! I was worried that, as a type 1 diabetic, I would have a medical situation while training and no one would be there to help me.

What if I had a medical emergency during the race and no one knew or could help until I passed out from low blood sugar? Who would I do my long training runs with? What if something happened when I was 10 miles from home and I needed someone to help me?

God started to reveal his plan for me and my first marathon soon after the first of this year. Early in 2015, my mom told me that a group from her church--Northridge Church--was going to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October to raise money for victims of human trafficking.

I will admit, at first I was selfishly focused on how this solved all of my concerns for running my first marathon: I would have a big group to train with and I could find a running partner to run the race with who would know about my medical needs. Raising money for the prevention of human trafficking and rehabilitation of its rescued victims seemed secondary.

But would you know, as I started to tuck the miles under my belt and spend more time with my amazing running team of over 400 people (running/walking both the half and full marathon), I heard more about our cause and how our efforts were brining light into the darkest lives in our community. And my heart and priorities changed.

Here are some of the stats:

  • Every 30 seconds, human trafficking claims another victim around the world
  • Human trafficking isn't just a third-world problem; it claims victims from every community, affluent and poor
  • Michigan is ranked #2 in the USA for human trafficking 
  • Human trafficking is more lucrative for pimps, gangsters, and the mafia than drugs or guns
  • Many police precincts know where women are trapped in sex trafficking, but they know that even if they bust the pimps, there isn't the infrastructure and there't aren't the services to support and rehabilitate the rescued women and children, so they just end up in homeless shelters and usually under the control of a new pimp
  • The average age of entry into human trafficking is 12-14 years old for girls and 9-12 for boys
  • 1 in 3 runaways will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of running away--even if they run away from a stable, loving home
  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today
  • 1440: The number of minutes in every day that a victim is enslaved and the same number of minutes we are FREE

God has used witnesses and survivors of human trafficking in Michigan and the work of our outreach group to bind my heart to this mission. I can honestly say that running this marathon is now less about my own accomplishment and more about pushing through pain, injury, and spiritual walls to rescue those who deserve and need to be shown God's love through our efforts.

Every runner has a personal goal of raising $1440--one dollar for every minute in a day that we celebrate freedom. Our overall goal is $500k. These funds will be used by organizations like Salvation Army, All Worthy of Love (AWOL), S.O.A.P (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), Detroit Rescue Mission, and Vista Maria to provide safe long- and short-term housing, medical and psychological care, job training, education, and spiritual care.

We are in this race for the rescue, restoration, rehabilitation, and renewal of those who have been abused and abandoned. And just as every mile counts in our race, every dollar counts to making a real difference in these women and children's lives.

You can donate and learn more at


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 13: Oceans Two

At my in-laws, Grace gets to cruise around in a little red car. Meanwhile, Laura crawls up on the scene.

These two keep us all very busy, and very happy. 

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Days 11 & 12: up, up and up!

Okay, it is officially difficult to post every day. Travel dispensation? We arrived in Cincinnati very late on Saturday evening due to our generous rest stop policy, and today, the girls and I drove to Louisville to spend part of the week with Will's family.

After dinner, a surprise thunderstorm rolled through, and Laura was entranced.

The rain did not stop her from standing up on her own, of course.

She taught herself to stand about a week ago, and I am amazed with how nimble she is now.

Yay! Nothing is going to keep her down.

{almost 7.5 months}

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Day 10: Tapas for Two (Plus Two)

On Thursday (since we're driving all day today!), our little familia went out for a last supper since the girls and I will be gone for three weeks while Will finishes his Trauma shift. It's a brutal shift, and this way he can focus on his work and all the studying required of him, and I'll feel a little less like a single parent during the month of October.

We went to Tapas in downtown historical Bethlehem and it was delicious - mussels with fries, garlic shrimp and pork belly worth savoring in tiny bites. Fun drinks and two adorable girls to boot.

It's going to be hard to be away - I am quite attached to Will, but when his shifts are ridiculous, it's time to switch up the scenery. Plus, we won't be traveling home for any holidays near or far at this point. (Residency life!) Which is okay, too, because we're forming our own family traditions. So, back to the Midwest we go!

The girls were really excellent the entire time during dinner - only towards the end did Grace need to get out of her high chair and "feed" Will the rest of his dinner.

This was one of the first times we've taken both girls out to a nice restaurant, and we were not disappointed. Looking forward to many more family dates, and for the warm weather to return!

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Days 8 & 9: Dr. Julie Baldwin, Reporting

Today, there was a Halloween party with my MOMs Club group, and since we make maybe one meeting a month, I decided to go all-out. Please note that I was the only mom in costume, so Will called me "The Cool Mom." OH YEAH.

I won't tell you what I originally planned on doing (because: next year), but after my sister-in-law Ellen gave the girls these adorable onesies, I knew what we had to do.

Dr. Julie Baldwin, Radiologist, and her two skeletons.

Wearing an old pair of Will's scrubs, and one of his white coats, "fixed" with a little masking tape. Nooooo, it's JULIE Baldwin, MD. Duh. Do you even read this blog?!? I like to think that if I went into medicine (which is never), I would go into radiology because a) less messy; b) attention to detail; c) no needles (I think?).

ANYWAYS, it was fun and everyone liked our costumes, and easy. Scrubs are mega-comfy, though untucking the top to feed Laura was less graceful than my usual attire. Now, will the REAL Dr. Baldwin please stand up?

A selfie for funsie. We look good in our role-reversal.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 7: New Kicks

Monday night: Will was working an overnight shift, and the girls were restless, so I decided to stop pursuing Zappos and actually take the girls to a shoe store. We were to New Balance because they are known to have a variety of wides - excellent for people looking for shoes that will fit a slim AFO brace.

We tried on a variety of pink colored sneakers in different sizes and widths, and while we ended up buying one a tad bigger than I would have liked, it's worked well for her the past few days. Two of her therapists have noted a marked improvement in walking (less side-stepping), and the percentage of walking to crawling has doubled. She loves wearing them - requests, even! - and ignores the brace in good humor.

If my ability to only get in-motion shots is an indicator: this girl is on the move. This girl walks.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Days 4 & 5: Sharing and Hoarding, a Toddler's Tale

Apologies for the delay... misplaced my phone yesterday, so, you know. I almost thought Grace had hidden it somewhere; this is a new game she is playing. Under the couch is where she likes to store her toys now -- that is, until she got this new kitchen island for her birthday from her grandparents. Now, she keeps her toys under the sink. Unfortunately for Grace, that is in Laura's range. Laura loves playing too. (And crawling toward me while I take a picture, or am sitting on the couch, or eating something, or working, or playing with her - did I mention what a cuddly sweetheart she is yet?)

Laura is a goof ball. She is a ham, like her sister, and she wants to play (with her sister). Grace is... learning how to share. Today, I found Will outside with Grace and Laura, playing with a red bouncy ball. 

"Watch Grace when I give Laura the ball," he said. Laura loved it. Grace put her hand to her face and squinted at us. We laughed. We played pass the ball between Dada, Mama, Grace and Laura, and by the end, Grace voluntarily passed to "Rawr-ra!"

So, sure, the sharing lesson is going to be a hard one for Grace - but she's adapting and even sharing, when Laura isn't pulling her hair or climbing on her back, as she was 10 seconds before this second picture was taken.

Space, Laura!!

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 3: What's Mine Is Yours

"Rawr-ra!" Grace comes in our room every morning and immediately calls out to her sister. Some mornings, Laura is already up. This morning, she was not.

Shhhhh!!!, I said; Laura is sleeping.

No longer - I looked down, and her beautiful eyes stared back at me. Sigh. Grace crawled over and looked at her sister, and then me.

"Down?" she requested. I acquiesced - and down she went into Laura's crib, where she cuddled Laura's blanket and took Laura's wubbanub (both similar to her's, but easier access at this point). Laura looks on, unsure of what to make of her sister's presence. Eventually, she'll half-roll over to Grace, and they'll cuddle together. Mornings can be sweet.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2: Rejection

This isn't the first time, and it certainly won't be the last.

Feeding Laura baby food is like an act of betrayal. The hurt looks, the confusion, the rejection of said food - from Earth's Best, not Earth's Worst. We've filmed it, laughed over, and raised our eyebrow a few times. Everyone says "keep trying!" ... okay then. I fixed a tablespoon of rice cereal to mix with the pictured apple puree (rejected) only to see the tiny jar almost empty on the table. Laura sat in the high chair, food all over her bib.

"How exciting!!!!!" I said to Will; "So, she ate it?"
"No, Grace got to it," he replied.

Grace looks up at me, smiling. Oh well, I think. I scrape the jar, mix the last bit with the cereal, and hear Dylan Moran's voice as Laura gives me another look of despair while I try to finagle the spoonful into her mouth: Rejection.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 1: Baby Bear

In a moment of trying to regain a little sanity, I'm back at blogging for a 31 day writing challenge. Since carpal tunnel and time management limits my time, I'm going to do a series of photo essays on family life as a resident's wife, history teacher and mom. I hope you enjoy!

Laura, our newly seven month old, is trying to stand. This is amazing to me. Our oldest, Grace, has cerebral palsy and never did this at such a young age. But Laura pays no mind to that- she sees her sister move, and she wants to go too (preferably wherever Grace is playing or moving).

This picture was taken soon after returning home from the grocery store - I expected a madhouse since the hurricane is supposed to hit us hard this weekend, but maybe the drizzle kept people at home. Maybe. But not us. All for more yogurt, soup, snacks, and a chance to watch the Wegmans's train go round and round a couple times by Dairy. I even picked up two baby food jars for Laura - she makes funny dislike faces for both yogurt and rice cereal; maybe apples or peas will entice.

Laura's Dad is gone all night - first night in Trauma, this month's rotation. But she climbed all over him earlier while, two floors above, I taught middle schoolers about the Revolutionary War. (I could hear the shrieks of laughter from both girls. Typical with Dad.)

This weekend, we're doing a big clean up of the house, and putting up the new gates, just for Laura. We're still trying to decide where... depending on where this baby bear prowls to next. She's on the move.

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