The Jacobs’ Adventures in Denver

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Photos, Travel

Last Wednesday, I woke up super early, made myself a strong cup of coffee and took the girls to the airport for a 6:50 a.m. flight to Denver.  Ryan has been working every other week in Denver, and we had decided to join him this month for a mini-vacation.

Flying with the girls by myself is getting easier with practice.  Thank goodness for a good set of headphones and “Beauty and the Beast” on my iPhone – for Katherine, of course.  I have learned to ask for and accept help wherever possible.  The most helpful person was the security guard in Denver International Airport who noticed that the laws of physics prohibited me from steering the double stroller while also pushing a heavy suitcase.

The girls and I kept active during the days while Ryan worked. We enjoyed the downtown aquarium.  Its layout reminded me of the Gatlinburg aquarium (still the best in my mind) in the sense that you simply start walking and follow a path which takes you through all of the exhibits.  We loved the shark tank and spent quite a lot of time watching the sharks watch all of us.

Sharks in the shark tank

We did the whole aquarium restaurant experience, complete with aquarium walls and girls swimming in fins and bikinis (aka the mermaid show) while we ate our lunch.

We also went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which required a cab ride.  Katherine was almost as excited about the cab ride as she was to see the dinosaur bones I had promised she would see.  When we arrived, we found out that the planetarium’s show “One World, One Sky” was not only about to begin but that it was designed for preschoolers.  This was her first experience in a theater, and she handled it well.  Angela happily napped through the whole thing.

At this display, we were allowed to touch an actual dinosaur bone

And, yes, Katherine got to see dinosaur bones and even touch one at a display.  Katherine and I both loved seeing all of the fossils.

Just some of the skeletons on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Other highlights during the week included sipping our Shirley Temples at the lounge on the 27th floor of the Hyatt next to our hotel and repeatedly visiting the Big Blue Bear.

Katherine loved playing around the feet of the Big Blue Bear

On Saturday, we rented a car and drove the Peak to Peak scenic byway from Central City to Estes Park, Colorado.  The scenery in the mountains was breathtaking.  Angela lost a sock at the Savory Cafe in Nederland, and Katherine lost her lunch by Lily Lake.  We did not get a lot of photographs during our drive, but here is one beautiful picture Ryan took.

View of a mountain from the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

On Sunday, we had plenty of time before our early evening flight back to Columbus.  We walked around downtown Denver and enjoyed the festive atmosphere as crowds cheered on the bikers coming through town in the USA Pro Challenge bike race.  My favorite part was playing one of the pianos sitting in the middle of the 16th Street Mall.

Katherine and I played one of the public pianos on the 16th Street Mall

I just realized that I have not posted any pictures of Angela from our trip.  Below is a picture of her sporting her Ohio State gear at Croc’s Mexican Bar and Grill.

Angela loved sitting at the table with us at Croc's

Overall, we had a fantastic time in Denver.  It was a great family vacation!


The Weekly Photograph

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Children, Photos

Every week we have been taking Angela’s picture with Geoffrey the Giraffe so that we can track her growth over time.  I recently had the bright idea to include Katherine’s magna-doodle with Angela’s age in weeks.  Here is the 10 week-old picture.

Angela is 10 weeks old

Katherine noticed that I was using her magna-doodle and pitched a fit.  I mollified her by agreeing that it would be her turn next.  I couldn’t figure out how many weeks are in 2 years and 3 months, so I went with her age by years.

Katherine is 2 and a quarter years old

And, of course, after all was finished, she only played on the magna-doodle for about 15 seconds before losing interest and finding something else to do.  But at least it gave us a great photo op!

The Stuffed Animal Is Shrinking!

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It’s amazing.  Whichever stuffed animal we choose to use as the backdrop for our babies’ pictures tends to shrink very quickly.  Here is the latest example, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

1 week old

And here is Geoffrey from just tonight, when Angela turned 7 weeks old.

7 weeks old

Service of Remembrance

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Last month, a card from Riverside Methodist Hospital came in the mail.  It was an invitation to a Service of Remembrance which Riverside’s Perinatal Loss Committee hosts.  The event is called “Remembering Special Babies,” and the card said, “For those who have briefly touched our lives, but have forever touched our hearts.”  The event was held yesterday at the Healing Garden of the Elizabeth Blackwell Center.

We had no idea what to expect.  When we arrived, there were a large number of people, some with kids, some without and some with their own parents or siblings.  I was surprised by how many people were there until I realized that most people have been attending every year no matter how long ago their loss occurred.  This is an annual event, rain or shine.  It was a standing-room-only event with a spot for the speaker under a trellis.

When we first walked in, I saw Dr. Yvonne G., a parenting education counselor who runs the New Moms’ Group at the EBC on Tuesday afternoons.  The effect of seeing a sympathetic, familiar and friendly face was the equivalent of offering a tissue to someone already on the verge of crying.

The service was simple but beautiful.  Dr. Yvonne started by telling us what to expect in general.  A couple of the chaplains from Riverside read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. They played a song about seasons, but we weren’t close enough to the front to be able to hear all of the words.  One of the chaplains then talked about the song and a little about dealing with the grief of perinatal loss.  She then opened it up so that families could come up one at a time to say their child’s name and date of loss.  Those who know me won’t be surprised that I was second in line to do this.  It meant a lot to say Evangeline’s name and birthdate at this event.  After this, they had tulip bulbs and shovels for everyone.  We were allowed to plant a bulb anywhere in the garden.  Ryan planted near one of the trellis posts so that we would have a good landmark to find the tulip later.

I held it together pretty well, but it tugged hard on my heart to see the other people crying through the whole event.  I am thankful that Riverside puts on this event every year.  Considering that October is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance month, it is a fitting time.

Digging a Tunnel through the Mountain

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In my experience, dealing with a traumatic loss and handling the grief is like having an insurmountable mountain right in front of you.  You have absolutely no choice but to address the mountain.  You have to dig a tunnel to the other side somehow, and you have no choice but to do it.  And no one can tell you exactly how to make your tunnel.

I remember crying when my mom was here with us right after Evangeline passed away.  I sat on the couch and said that I just couldn’t get through it, that the sadness and grief was too great.  But little by little, day by day, I dug my tunnel.  Not through anything deliberate that I did, other than just by experiencing the grief.  Expressing it to those around me.  Writing about it.  Praying and asking for prayer.  Spending time with others who had gone through the same thing.  Reading scripture and devotionals.  Slowly, the pathway through the mountain got a little bit easier, a little bit lighter.

Until one day it hit me out of the blue.  I don’t have to dig anymore.

Thoughts on Evangeline


I wasn’t planning on putting anything about this on my blog, Facebook or Twitter.  But every time I went to my home page and saw “New Addition Due in June” under “Recent Posts,” it reminded me that I have not shared the whole story.

After 3 months, not only do I feel ready to write about this publicly, but I feel that I should acknowledge her in my “online” presence.

Evangeline Grace Jacobs was born alive on January 11, 2011, at 12:20 a.m. at Riverside Methodist Hospital.  Her gestational age was 16 weeks and 3 days.  She was too young gestationally to survive more than a few moments outside of the womb.  We have pictures of her tiny face and tiny fingers. She was long and skinny, perfectly formed.

Why was she born so early?  I can’t answer that, nor can my doctor.  All that I know is that for some freakish and unexplainable reason, my water broke far too early, my body went into labor, and there was nothing that could be done to stop the whole chain of events.

And since then, I have been grieving.  While it’s getting better overall, there are some good days and some really bad days.  One thing that seems to help me is to acknowledge her.  Which brings me around to why I’m finally writing about her after three months have passed.

One of my dear friends gave me a wonderful gift recently, and I don’t think she realizes how great it was.  While we were talking on the phone, she mentioned Evangeline by name.  Not “when you lost the baby” or anything along those lines, but she said, “after you had Evangeline …”  I find it so uplifting to talk about her by name.

This was given to me by a dear friend who knows all too well how this feels.

Our Short Trip to the Columbus Zoo

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I wanted to do something outside this morning with Katherine.  According to the weather reports, we are going to get quite a bit of rain for the next week or so.  Plus, since she’s still recovering from a stomach bug, I wanted to keep her away from play areas and exposure to other children.  We went to the Columbus Zoo for a couple of hours.  Here are the highlights of our quick trip.

1. Getting to the zoo early pays off.

We arrived just a few minutes after the zoo opened at 9 a.m.  Not only did we get rock star parking, but we had a head start on the hundreds of kids who later came on their school field trips.

2. Pack an extra outfit.

As I mentioned, Katherine is recovering from a stomach bug.  I found out once we arrived that she needed a change of clothes.  Thankfully, the zoo gift shop carries clothes in toddler sizes, so we did not have to go home and make it an even shorter trip.  It was a good reminder to have an extra outfit with us on our outings, even if it just stays in the car.

3. Keep the camera handy.

I got some great video of timber wolves, a brown bear, and the manatees.  Because I did not have the video camera handy at all times, I missed most of a confrontation between the adult male lion and two of the lionesses.  We had just viewed the lions and walked down the ramp when we heard quite a commotion – extremely loud roaring and growling.  We quickly returned to see what was going on, and they finished most of their quarrel while I was fishing my iPhone out of my pocket, turning it on and getting the camera app going.  I caught the tail end of their confrontation, and once I get my short video uploaded to smugmug, I’ll post a link.

I only took a couple of pictures at the zoo.  I was focused more on getting video.

Slightly blurry photo of the fish in the aquarium

Katherine gets excited to see the fish in the aquariums at Jack’s and PetSmart.  Imagine how intrigued she was with the large fish in the aquarium at the zoo.

Timberwolf roaming in the sunshine

The Easter Bunny

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After Katherine’s reaction to Santa Claus, I was curious to see how she would respond to the Easter Bunny.  She was eager to get near him and check him out, and she willingly sat on his lap.  What she would not do, however, was smile no matter how hard the photographer tried.  At least she wasn’t bawling like she did with Santa!

Katherine's first visit with the Easter Bunny

Fourth Grade Thank You Notes

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Children, Legal

Last month, I participated in a local elementary school’s annual career day.  As in years past, I requested the fourth graders.  Fourth graders are fun because they articulate interesting viewpoints with a refreshingly child-like enthusiasm.

The toughest part is competing against the fireman with the truck, the paramedic, and the vet with the dog.  This year I even saw someone from the bomb squad in the halls!  (I assume he was there because of career day.)  To liven up my 20-minute presentation on the law, I engage the students in a quick mock trial.  I give them a scenario and pick kids to play Plaintiff, Defendant, Lawyers, Judge and Bailiff.  The rest of the class is the jury.  I tell each lawyer to say a couple of things to try to convince the jury that his/her client should win, and then the jury votes for the winner.  The remaining few minutes are spent answering questions about being a lawyer.

As in past years, I received thank you notes from the students.  I love the notes!  Reading them has been a high point of my week.  Here are a few snippets (edited for spelling).

“It was so fun playing the plaintiff.  I might be a lawyer when I grow up.”

“I am not being a lawyer.  They are boring job to do.  Because you go to the court house every once and a while.”

“You know what I want to be is a movie star, because I would love to meet Justin Beiber because he can sing and he is really cute.”

“What I want to be when grow up is a spy then a movie star.  The reason I want to be a spy is because I want to help the world.  The other reason is because the secret weapons.”

And my favorite:  “What I wanna be when I grow up is a brain surgeon.  Why?  Because I think it will be interesting and specially learning about my brain maybe I will give you some facts about your brain.  I think you would like to hear some facts about your brain.”

New Addition Due in June

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The Jacobs household will be expanding once again in late June, 2011.  Today I am 12 weeks pregnant, marking the end of the first trimester.  Although we have already told a number of friends and family, I wanted to wait until we got to this milestone before I put anything online.

And, yes, we definitely want to find out whether it is a boy or a girl at the 18-20 week ultrasound.  While it will be nice to know, the big question is whether I will be selling the multiple boxes of baby girl clothes we have stacked up in the loft.