Life through the eyes of a diabetic, first-time mom.
Lyla will be five months old this Sunday which means solid food is just a month away.
I am a planner. I like structure. I am organized.
Therefore, this weekend I am hoping Jason and I can make some first foods for Lyla and put it away in the freezer so we can have it ready to go in May when we decide to start feeding her solid foods.
So, here’s my plan, and I am hoping it’s not too ambitious.
After doing a fair amount of reading (remember how obsessive I was while I was pregnant, reading books, articles on the Internet, mommy blogs and so on? Yeah, so, no surprise here, right?) on first foods I’ve made a few decisions after talking it over with Jason and our family doctor.
Our family doctor told us we could begin solids at about five months if we wanted to, though I told him we’d rather wait until six months, which he said was just fine.
I also told him I’d rather do oatmeal than rice cereal and he was also fine with that.
So, I’ve looked up how to prepare baby appropriate oatmeal. Jason likes to cook. He is a big fan of Alton Brown’s show, “Good Eats,” which is on Food Network. There is an episode of “Good Eats” about oatmeal so Jason has an oatmeal recipe. Turns out we even have rolled oats in the kitchen. Awesome!
All Jason has to do is grind up the oats to a finer consistency then cook up a batch. We can season it with some cinnamon, maybe some allspice, and then I’m thinking we can divvy it up into little containers then pop them into the freezer.
Next one should be fairly easy. I love bananas and they are another doctor-approved, baby tested and mom endorsed first food. Fantastic. We always have bananas in the house because I like to eat at least one a day. I also like to give the really ripe ones to my beagles as a treat. Everybody loves bananas!
We’ve got a food processor. So, just puree some bananas, spice them up just like we plan to do with the oatmeal, divvy up into containers and there is another great option.
Finally, I want to get a sweet potato, steam it, mash it then puree it. Sweet potatoes are really good for you. Tons of great vitamins and minerals, just all kinds of healthy goodness, and seasoned right they taste delicious
We had sweet potatoes for Easter dinner at my in-law’s house. I love sweet potatoes. Mmm. Mashed up with cinnamon and brown sugar, my father in law also used Splenda to sweeten it, then some marshmallows on top. I don’t like marshmallows much unless atop sweet potatoes or in s’mores.
After we finished eating I put the tiniest dab of sweet potato on my index finger and gave it to Lyla to see what she thought. OK, maybe an ill-advised experiment, but I was curious. She pushed it out of her mouth. A few minutes later I tried one more time and she tasted it but I didn’t see a significant reaction one way or another.
Maybe she’ll be more into it next month.
But, that’s my homemade baby food plan. Now, I’m realistic, I know that we’re not going to be able make food for her all the time so I plan on getting some Gerber Organic food, as well. I just really feel like it’s important given the extensive history of diabetes on my side of her genetic balance sheet to be careful about her food now.
The other part of this puzzle is finding a high chair. I have one in mind but I am always open to suggestions.
And I know I got some baby spoons at my shower but I have no idea where they are … well, I know they are in Lyla’s room, I’m just not sure where they are in her room.
But, I guess I have a month or so to find them, so I should be fine.
I suspect, however, I will tear her room apart this weekend to find them.
I have mentioned I’m a little obsessive, right?
I’ll let you know how the baby food experiment goes this weekend. I’ll try to take pictures, too.
Note: I wrote this post about a month ago, not aware of the swirling controversy regarding the impending vote in Congress on health care reform. I wrote another blog more specifically about Lyla and posted that instead, hanging onto this for another time. I’ve decided to finally post this now that things have quieted a bit on the health care reform bill as I am not keen on making political statements in the interest of maintaining my objectivity. In other words, I have no political opinions, so please don’t ask. But, as you will see, I have strong opinions about our health care system. So, keep that in mind. Thanks!
Doctors were a big part of my life last year.
If I counted right, I saw at least nine different doctors last year, though most of that was related to my pregnancy.
On one hand, I like the doctors I deal with regularly, especially my OB and our family doctor. I am not too fond of my endocrinologist and am seriously considering firing her and just having our new family doc here in Maple Valley manage my diabetes.
On the other hand, though, dealing with doctors drives me crazy. I am always asked to show up 10-15 minutes early to fill out or sign paperwork as well as deal with anything else that may come up.
Then I wait. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes. Other times it has been as long as an hour. Usually I wait about 15 minutes on average to see any of my doctors.
And then if I’m lucky I get about five to 10 minutes of the doctor’s time. I give up a lot of time to get to the appointment, to be early, to fill out paperwork, to wait, to then only get a little bit of face time.
During the third trimester of my pregnancy I spent some time really reading up on what a doctor has to go through just to get to a point where he is allowed to practice medicine, particularly the training required for an obstetrician/gynecologist. I realized I didn’t really have a clue so I started reading up on it because that’s what I like to do with my free time and the Internet enables this obsession. Thank you, technology.
So, you spend four years as an undergrad, three years in med school (I think), then another four years in residency after which you go out and make your way in the world as an OB/GYN.
Now this gives me a greater appreciation for my OB, of course, and doctors in general. Then I read about the fact that med school grads have upwards of $100,000 in debt. Yikes.
While I was on maternity leave I read an article that I can’t find now that said something to the effect that doctors have to see 20 to 25 patients a day to make any money.
Then I read this blog by Dr. Vance Harris which outlines how much money he gets for dealing with various patient scenarios.
Another article that turned up mentioned something I’m seeing that I had no awareness of is this growing shortage of primary care physicians. Up until last fall when I went looking for a doctor for Lyla, I basically just saw my endocrinologist as my PCP, and if I got sick I’d just make a quick trip to the Urgent Care center at the MultiCare in Covington. It’s been a while since I was really sick, about four years, and needed to go to urgent care in Covington. Yay?
So, I was reading this article on Mother Jones online about health care reform and so on, and it was pretty eye opening.
It’s no wonder I have a love/hate relationship with doctors. And all this reading has led me to realize that I have no idea how to make this system better. Some of the stuff I’ve read has raised more questions than answers because as someone with a chronic disorder, I am between a rock and a hard place, I need my doctors to stay healthy.
In order to see them, though, I have to put up with the fact that I will only get 10 minutes of their time if I’m lucky.
In fairness, our new family doc spends quite a bit of time with us when we take Lyla to see him, which is really nice. He’s soft-spoken, laid back and has tons of experience. I know I can trust him with Lyla’s care. So, I put up with it if he’s running a little late.
And it seems like I’m not the only one based on this series of surveys on Gallup’s Web site about patient satisfaction.
One of my favorite doctors ever was Dr. Ashit Patel out of Proliance Surgeons in Bellevue. I was referred to him by a PCP I was seeing in Bellevue shortly before we moved to Maple Valley in 2004. I had a bulging disc in my lower back between my L4 and L5 vertebrae. It’s an old injury that I re-injured twice, in 2000 and 2003, before I finally had surgery in 2006 to repair it.
Dr. Patel initially did the fast-talking-I-need-to-see-10-more-patients-today thing during the first couple of visits. But over time he started asking me questions and when he found out I’m a reporter, we started having conversations, and I actually enjoyed seeing him. I feel like his understanding of and interest in what I do for a living helped him treat my injury better.
So, I was saddened to receive a letter 18 months ago from his office that his practice had chosen to no longer work with the insurance provider my company was using. Luckily, I had just completed the last round of physical therapy post-op and my back was feeling awesome, so I decided to cross my fingers and hope I wouldn’t need to see him again.
Recently our company changed insurance providers. Our new cards were sent out a couple months ago. And, of course, mine got recycled on accident. While digging around on the new insurer’s Web site to find out some information I looked through the providers list and saw that Dr. Patel takes my new insurance provider. Woohoo!
For the past month or so, I’ve been thinking I really need to do some core work to strengthen my abdominal and lower back muscles, having a baby can really mess up your core function!
But, I didn’t know if I wanted to go to a gym, just look up some exercises online, find some other solution or what. Now I’m thinking I may just go see Dr. Patel and see about some physical therapy. It seems to me this would be good preventative medicine. Getting stronger post-baby would minimize re-injury of my back during any kind of exercise program I may start up someday when I find the time.
So, I will go through all that insanity of calling to make an appointment for a month out, drive to Bellevue, fill out paperwork, sign stuff, and wait around to see him.
It’s worth it, though, right? I mean, it’s become clear to me the system needs help, I don’t know how to fix it so I guess I’ll just make the most of it by finding good doctors who are worth the time and effort of working within the system to see.
This way Lyla has the healthiest mommy possible.
And the love/hate relationship continues.
I remember reading an article covering Steve Sarkisian’s first press conference as coach of the University of Washington football team. As a graduate of UW, I was keenly interested in what this guy was like since I knew so little of him, aside from working for Pete Carroll as offensive coordinator for USC.
What I took away from the story was that Sarkisian likes the word “awesome.” The reporter may have been exaggerating, but, I seem to recall him writing that Sarkisian said “awesome” upwards of 50 times in the press conference.
I’m starting to feel like Coach Sark these days.
Whenever anyone asks me about motherhood — What’s it like being a mom? How’s the baby? How do you like motherhood? — I say almost automatically now, “It’s awesome!”
There’s no other way to answer the question.
I mean, I love being a mom, I love Lyla more than words can convey but it’s so freaking hard to say that succinctly.
Think about it, when people ask some variation of that question, they don’t really want every little detail. I could literally talk about Lyla for an hour. More if prompted with the right questions.
But, the socially correct thing to do is to just say something short yet packs a powerful punch in order to get the message across that I am head over heels in love with being a mommy.
Anyone truly interested in knowing more will ask pointed questions like:
• How big was she when she was born? What’s she up to now?
• Is she sleeping through the night?
• Have you thought about solid foods yet?
• Are you nursing? (And, that, of course generates a half an hour long explanation…)
• How did she do at her last doctor’s appointment?
• Is she rolling over yet?
• Have you gone back work?
• Oh, so, who takes care of her when you’re working?
• And my personal favorite… Are you thinking about having more kids?
On that last one, I decided I wanted to have another kiddo while I was in the third trimester with Lyla. Pregnancy wasn’t too bad. I would like to give our little girl a sibling since Jason and I both a sibling growing up. It’s just a matter of how long before I start working on Jason about future offspring. We will only have one more. We agreed long ago that we would have two kids and with my diabetes I think that’s about as much as I could handle physically.
Every moment with my daughter is amazing. I just adore her. I have eight pictures of her in my wallet. One photo is the wallpaper on my computer at work and I have four others on my desk. And don’t forget that I have her name tatooed on my left shoulder. And as I have mentioned before, she’s just an awesome kid. Oh, there’s that word again! But, it’s true. In the morning she wakes up laughing and chattering happily. When I lean over her crib she smiles and squeals with delight at the sight of my face. And she’s been sleeping through the night for two months now. How can I not love being a mom?
Being a parent is amazing beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for and I hear it’s only going to get better.
As Sark would say, it’s “awesome!”
First, I have to apologize for not blogging in nearly three weeks. Everything has been crazy busy here at work and crazy busy at home. Being a working mom has taught me the true meaning of “busy.”
I do have a funny story for you, though.
On Feb. 23 we had a photographer named Chris come to our house to shoot some more photos of Lyla. I freely admit I’m a sucker at times. He’s with the company Our 365 which shoots newborn photos at Valley where Lyla was born. So, apparently they have a free sitting and 8×10 deal they do anytime after the baby is a month old. Now, obviously the idea is to come take photos of your kid, then sell you a package of adorable, “awww” inducing photos.
Even though we had just gotten photos taken at Yuen Lui when Lyla was two months old, well, I’m just a sucker.
So, Chris came in, got set up in our formal living area that we never use — it seemed like a great idea to have that when we bought the house — then went to plug in two studio lights.
He promptly blew out a number of circuit breakers in the house and we weren’t able to get our hallway, dining room or laundry room lights back while he was there.
After getting some great photos of Lyla with Ellie, Jason’s grandmother who also takes care of our baby girl while we’re at work, Chris decided to put her on her tummy.
The next 20 minutes or so were totally downhill because she loathed being on her tummy at the time and just melted down. Somehow, he managed to get some awesome photos of her, especially with my husband.
Two weeks later, a nice woman named Robin came back to the house and we dropped $400 on a photo package, got a bunch of wallets, 8X10s, the works. We’re nuts. I mean, we’re first time parents of the first grandchild and niece for either side of the family, photos are in high demand.
At that point, we still hadn’t gotten the lights working again.
For more than a month, I did laundry in the dark.
We had been giving Lyla baths in the baby tub on top of a towel on the dining room table but no dining room light meant after about two weeks I finally moved the tub to the sink and scrubbed her down by myself while Jason was at work. On a side note, you would not believe the amount of gunk that can accumulate in between a baby’s toes, fingers, under her neck or arms. I had no idea something so tiny and immobile could get so dirty!
Finally, my father in law brought his friend Steve Montgomery down to our house to see if he could shed some light, literally, with his greater breadth of knowledge of electrical stuff. This is one area my very handy father in law, Art, doesn’t know as much about. Thank goodness for Mr. Montgomery, who has been a friend of Jason’s parents for years, going back to when his son was in Boy Scouts with Jason.
Finally, at the end of March we had light again, and a week later the photos arrived via UPS at our house.
This past week I’ve spent framing up all the different photos from the Yuen Lui and Our365 shoots for display in our home as well as to give to family members.
Here are some of my favorites. Oh, one of the perks of the package I bought was all the photos on copyright released CD, so I am going to share with you to make the most of the money I spent. Enjoy!
And Lyla with Great Grandma Ellie — I gave this one and the first one of her in the red dress in a nice frame to Jason’s mom, Gale, on Easter and she choked up over it. It’s a precious memory of the blessing that both Ellie and Lyla are to our family.
Wow, where has the time gone?
Today, Lyla is four months old.
And, naturally, we took her for her four month well child check this morning. She was weighed, measured, looked over and got her shots.
At four months old she weighed in at 11 pounds, eight ounces (there are 16 ounces in a pound for the math challenged) and was measured at 23 1/2 inches long. So, she has put on two and a half pounds in two months and grown two and one-quarter inches since her last appointment in January. She’s still on the petite side, but, our doctor says she’s “gaining steam” and “appears to be thriving.”
Our family doctor also asked us about various milestones such as vocalizing, “Has she laughed yet” and “Does she grasp objects?”
He was pleasantly surprised when we told him she’s sleeping through the night which, of course, is a good thing for our sanity.
She was happy, smiley and pretty mellow. It was great. Everybody at our doctor’s office thought she was cute and sweet.
The doctor mentioned that we could start giving her cereal as a first food in a month or so, but, I asked him if it is OK to wait until she’s six months old before starting her on any solid foods and he thought that was just fine.
He gave us some hand outs on four month olds, which I’m sure will be helpful, then headed out the door to see his next patient. As he left, he told us we’re “doing a great job.”
Oh, and a nice girl named Nicole would come in and give Lyla her shots.
One of the three sets of vaccines was in an oral form, so, I attempted to give it to her but while waiting for Nicole to come into the room, Lyla passed out. It was time for her morning nap. So, when I tried to give her the oral vaccine, she just spit it out. We had to get another one and this time Nicole did the job.
Nicole said Lyla was so cute and relaxed, she felt bad giving her shots knowing she was going to make our little darling cry.
I wasn’t too worried because Lyla handled the shots at two months really well.
So, she whimpered a bit after the first shot, then had a full meltdown after the second one. We soothed her and gave her a pacifier and within a minute she was back to happy, calm Lyla.
I suspect that this is one area where being a diabetic pays off for me as a parent. Nearly eight years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Doctor’s visits and needles are par for the course. Add to that the fact I’ve had an emergency appendectomy and back surgery as well as given birth in the past seven years and the whole vaccination thing is no big deal to me.
Though I haven’t had a chance to research my theory to see if calm parents equals calm baby when it comes time for the shots, I hope there is some empirical evidence out there to support it, if not at least anecdotal evidence.
From my perspective, at least, I figure if we don’t make a big deal out of it and remain calm then, of course, she’ll be calm too.
I took this picture literally two minutes after she got the shots, one in each thigh. You wouldn’t even know it based on this photo.
One of the women in the reception area checking patients in commented on the fact she was so peaceful and calm as we were making her six month appointment.
“Usually babies come out still crying,” she said.
Not our Lyla. I knew from the beginning she was going to be awesome.
Just having Lyla in my life makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth, but, knowing what a calm, happy baby she is really makes me feel blessed.
And I keep hearing it just keeps getting better from here.
Lyla and I were quite busy this weekend while my husband was working.
On Saturday, we went to Ginger Passarelli’s soup class at her restaurant in Black Diamond, Mama’s Steak & Pasta where we learned her famous beef stroganoff recipe, among others.
Ginger is also founder of The Soup Ladies which is a fantastic non-profit I seem to be writing a lot about recently, go here or here to read more about it.
Lyla had a great time watching Ginger cook up four different soups that featured beef and at one point while I was taking notes, she grabbed my pen and examined it closely, trying to determine what exactly that thing was supposed to do.
After about 45 minutes of that, she took a power nap, then woke up to have a little face time with Ginger, one of Lyla’s many fans. Turns out that Ginger’s mother’s name was Lila, so, maybe she has a special place in her heart as a result.
From there, Lyla and I went to Fry’s to pick up a Crock Pot, as I have decided I need to cook up food at home and in the easiest, least messy way possible. I see my mom friends post about their awesome Crock Pot meals on Facebook and figure it would be a good thing to invest in.
On Sunday we spent time with her grandmothers. My mom came down to visit and we had lunch together. After my mom left, my mother in law and I took Lyla to the SuperMall to use some coupons I had for Carter’s.
We put Lyla’s car seat in the stroller and walked all the way around the mall. We stopped at Old Navy, The Children’s Place, Burlington Coat Factor’s Baby Depot and finally Carter’s.
While at Burlington Coat Factory we were looking at pretty Easter dresses for Lyla. I pulled her out of the car seat and we walked around looking at all the dresses and baby clothes. She checked out toys and other children. She seems to be quite the curious little girl.
About halfway through the mall we stopped to hit the bathroom, change her diaper then feed her. After she ate, Gale, my mother in law was burping her so Lyla was sitting on her knee and watching every little thing happening around us. Maybe all babies do that but it was fascinating to watch her people watch.
She seems to do pretty well with running around with me, she didn’t really fuss or cry at all either at the class on Saturday or during any of the shopping, in fact she seemed to really enjoy it.
It used to be that she slept through errands but now she doesn’t seem to want to miss a thing. She smiles and giggles at strangers who coo at her which immediately endears her to anyone who stops to check her out.
So, anyway, we bought a pile of clothes for Lyla. Gale and I split up the purchases but we did quite well. My goal was to stock up on summer essentials and with the sales and coupons we did really well. And, of course, we found her the sweetest dress for Easter. I’ll post pictures when we get her in it.
And, boy did Lyla get worn out. Not five minutes after we pulled out of the SuperMall parking lot she was fast asleep.
When we put her down for the night, it was 10 p.m., and she slept until 7:30 this morning.
I have realized recently how lucky I have been with Lyla. She’s not fussy, she doesn’t mind strangers much, she loves going places with me and enjoys seeing all kinds of new things in new places, she sleeps through the night and in her own crib.
OK, now I’m just bragging. I’ll stop. Heh.
Now we just need to get her into tummy time so she can start figuring out how to get mobile. My mom says I was crawling at about five or six months old and walking at nine months.
I guess while we work on tummy time we should start thinking about baby proofing the house.
Life with Lyla is just one adventure after another and I can’t even begin to say how happy I am to be going on these adventures with her.
Lyla is getting bigger all the time, as any baby would.
It’s funny, though, because she seems so big to me now compared to how big she was at birth — just 6 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 inches long — yet people out in the world see her and think she’s little.
For example, a couple weekends ago I went to a big baby/kid stuff consignment sale at Pickering Barn in Issaquah, and a group of ladies were cooing at her and gushing about how adorable she is and all. This sort of thing happens all the time, of course, and I’m getting a big head about it. Heh.
One of the women mentioned that Lyla was little and motioned her friend over to come see “the tiny, adorable baby.”
People are always surprised when I tell them how old she is because she is still small for her age. At her two month appointment she was 9 pounds and 21 1/4 inches, putting her in the 10th percentile for weight and height.
Lately, though, I’m sure she’s got to be around 11 or even 12 pounds. Jason’s grandmother, Ellie, who takes care of her while we work has thought Lyla was up to 12 pounds a few weeks ago.
One thing that really made me think Lyla has gotten bigger was when I put her in a University of Washington onesie I bought Dec. 22. It was part of three pack of 3-6 month UW onesies that are really cute and even pretty. I am a UW grad, having earned a degree in Communications in 2000, so she’s got to have Husky gear.
About three or four weeks ago I tried to put her in one and she swam in it. I knew when I bought them it would be a while before they’d fit her, but, I figured at three months it would be pretty close.
Yesterday morning, just for fun, I told Ellie to see if one of the UW onesies would fit her. When I got home, there was Lyla, wearing one.
And it fits really well! She still has room to grow into it, though, which is good.
Next Thursday Lyla has her four month well child check up with our family doctor, so, we’ll know then just how much bigger she’s gotten. She may always be a petite girl, or, she may well catch up to her peers. I have no idea and I won’t even try to predict how she’ll grow. I’ll just sit back and watch.
And who wouldn’t want to do that … I mean, just look at this precious angel!
Today is my dad’s birthday. I think fondly of him on this day. Our birthdays are exactly six months apart, his on March 8, mine on Sept. 8. For some reason I always thought it was special.
My dad was 39 1/2 when I was born. I am his only child. It should come as no surprise that I was a daddy’s girl. Somewhere among my mom’s photo collection is a picture of me in a nightgown at about 4 years old that proclaimed, “Daddy’s Little Girl” on it.
My parents, who did not marry, split when I was 4.
It’s interesting to me that this year the anniversary of his death in mid-February slipped by without my noticing it, but, even some 25 years after his death I still remember his birthday.
This year on his birthday I wish he could see his granddaughter. I have come to accept that he missed major milestones in my life such as high school and college graduations and my wedding.
But, I think that if he could hold Lyla, he would have such a big smile on his face.
My father was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12 years old. He lost his eyesight before I was born but he would touch my face and tell me I was beautiful — this was particularly important to me just weeks before his death when I got my first pair of glasses and was suffering taunts of “four-eyes” and the like at the hands of my second grade classmates.
Even though he wouldn’t be able to see her, I know he would touch her face while holding her, and proclaim she’s beautiful.
Who I am was forged by his presence in my life and his absence after his death.
It is unlikely I would be a writer were it not for his insistence on giving me book after book well before I could even read. He gave me Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, the Little House on the Prairie series, Treasure Island and my favorite, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
I was already well on my way to becoming a bookworm before he died and afterward, I sought sanctuary in books, taking out stacks of tomes from the public library once a month when my mom would take me.
Already I had a temper when he died and afterward, when I wasn’t holed up in my room reading, I would act out angrily. To this day I still have a hard time controlling my temper or being patient.
But all that reading and pent up anger eventually led to writing which in turn became an interest in newspapers in high school and finally allowed me as a sophomore at Interlake to determine this would be my career.
I am hoping that his parenting style will also influence how I am with Lyla, patient, doting, but focused on encouraging her intelligence and natural curiosity. Between time in a montessori school thanks to my mother and the books my dad gave me, I started reading and writing around the age of four. I don’t have those kinds of expectations for Lyla because that’s unfair, but, it would not surprise me if she was smarter than me.
My dad gave me a lot of gifts and I so wish that I could repay him with the gift of his granddaughter.
Today is his birthday and all I can do is say happy birthday, Daddy, wherever you are … with love, from Lyla and I.
In recent weeks, Lyla has had more and more to say, that is she is really becoming more vocal. It started with little coos and now she’s added squeals as well as giggles and other noises to her repertoire.
Her jungle animal bouncer is one of her favorite places and last night she was particularly chatty and active, so, I grabbed the video camera I got for Christmas and shot a little over a minute of video. I apologize that it’s a little dark, I’m still new to the video camera stuff, but it’s so much fun watching her. I got a little misty eyed watching it again after I uploaded it.
So, without further ado, here’s Lyla:
A few weeks ago I spent a couple of hours talking with Ron and Colleen Starr, who manage Vine Maple Place here in Maple Valley.
What they do at Vine Maple amazes me. They take in homeless families and they provide transitional housing. Beyond that, they provide child advocates, financial classes, parenting classes, connection to educational opportunities and more for the single parents and even two parent families that seek them out.
This year is Vine Maple Place’s 10th anniversary. For a small, grassroots organization which is supported almost entirely by the community — churches, individuals, business — that is quite an accomplishment.
One of the very first stories I did for the Covington-Maple Valley Reporter was about Vine Maple Place back in September 2005.
I remember when I first sat down with Colleen Starr to learn about the organization, I was blown away by what they were doing, but I also could completely relate to the people they were helping.
Growing up, we very well could have sought out the help of VMP, because we always lived hand to mouth. We were on the verge of homelessness probably my entire childhood.
Carra Purvis, a staff member at VMP who was also part of the meeting, told me that many of the families have moved a number of times and the children had switched schools often, as well. I think I went to four or five different elementary schools. I begged my mom when I was in seventh grade not to move again until I got through high school. We moved twice while I was in middle school, but, I didn’t have to switch schools. I just rode my bike a bit further to get to where I was going, Highland Middle School in Bellevue.
There are times I wish we had been scooped up and transformed by something like a VMP when I was a kid but I think that no matter what, I have a great appreciation for what I did not have, which has given me a strong determination to provide for Lyla all the best that I can offer and so much more than what I had.
And while it is important to me to provide her with essential material possessions such as a nice roof over her head, decent clothes to wear and whatever extras a little girl might want — what is today’s equivalent of the Cabbage Patch Kid? — but I also want to give her the intangibles I didn’t have, like a stable home, two parents who love each other and their child, an extended family that basically gets along despite our differences and opportunities to live life, not just exist day to day.
I see that VMP is doing that for its families and that is why it is so easy for people in the community to support its mission. As of early February, they had helped 191 parents and children, not just survive but thrive by providing them a foundation in all the things they need to be successful in life.
Those were things I had to learn on my own, the hard way, from the mistakes of others as well as my own.
But, don’t take my word for it, read about it right here.