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Last night we had the best Family Movie Night ever! Until recently, our kids have been too rambunctious to sit down and watch a full movie. Our 2-year-old daughter Ariella asks us to put on Wally about 7 times a day. When we oblige, she will sit on the couch completely fascinated by Eva and the Captain for all of 4 minutes. Then she wanders into the kitchen and asks, “Whats that Daddy?” about a variety of objects that she knows the name of already. So Family Movie Night has never really worked.

But Susie came up with a brilliant plan. She set up my LCD projector on the wall and turned out all the lights. She had snacks ready and sippy cups on hand. And when it was dark and our kids were fascinated by the huge screen on the wall, we watched UP.

Well our kids were silent and focused on the screen for almost the whole time! And as they got antsy we broke out the snacks- it was great! Ella sat with Susie for most of the movie but halfway through she crawled over to me, plopped herself down on my lap and rested her head against my chest. What a beautiful moment. She must have felt quite peaceful because just as the final standoff was about to happen, Ariella peed on me.

If you haven’t seen UP, might I recommend you do so. If you have a family, make it a family night! Just ask your daughter to sit on the couch.

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I never planned on having children. Up until our third year of marriage Susie wasn’t crazy about the idea either. We even bought a white sofa thinking there wouldn’t be any kids around to mess it up. But when we found out that Susie had a condition that might prevent us from being able to have children, we both felt that we were being robbed of a decision that should have been ours. We didn’t like that. We started talking about the possibility of getting pregnant… Not raising kids mind you. Just getting pregnant. Maybe we should give it a shot? Two months later Susie was in New Orleans doing Hurricane Katrina Relief Work and she started feeling funny. When she came home we took a pregnancy test and saw a “+” sign in the indicator window. I got one past the goalie!

So we were having a baby. We had no idea what that meant. The only thing we knew was at some point we needed to paint the spare room a baby friendly colour. We went about life as usual… just added a prenatal vitamin to our daily routine. We both felt unprepared and inadequate so we decided to sign up for labour and delivery classes a couple of months before the due date. The night we were to go to our first class, Susie went into premature labour. We were shocked. Susie had to be taken by ambulance to a special hospital as this was a “high-risk delivery”. We learned that our baby may not survive through labour, or may survive with brain damage… I had to drive home to pick up Susie’s things. I’ll never forget that drive… the road blurred by my tears… praying for Susie and our child… struck with the strange realization, “all these drivers around me have no idea what has just happened…”

aakAnthony Holding Soother

Joshua David McLean was born on September 11th, 2006, weighing 3lbs, 7oz. He had 10 fingers and 10 toes and could breathe on his own. We were relieved. He spent the next 5 weeks in hospital at the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit with an amazing group of Nurses and Doctors. We brought Joshua home in October and he was as healthy as can be. Our life at home, of course, was forever changed. Midnight feedings, dirty diapers, long snuggles, breastfeeding blunders, trips to the emergency room “just to be safe”… We were the classic first time parents.

When we got pregnant again 9 months later, we found out the reason for Joshua’s early arrival: Susie had an “incompetent cervix.” That’s not a nice thing to say to a cervix, is it? Susie was put on bedrest for 11 weeks to prevent any chance of a premature labour. She was a champion on bedrest- so incredibly patient and peaceful. She didn’t complain at all… and she found some interesting ways to keep herself entertained… one day I came home to find her lying on the kitchen floor baking cookies. Susie is one of a kind. Ariella was born on March 28th, 2008. At 7lbs, 6oz she looked like a giant compared to little Joshua. Josh started calling her “Ella” and the name stuck. Ariella’s middle name is ‘Simone’ after my sister who passed away from Leukemia when she was 11-years old. Ella Simone… Sounds like some great Jazz singer or something doesn’t it?

I can honestly say that having 2 kids is like managing a small zoo. And living at the zoo with the animals. It’s crazy. I have heard rumours of people out there that have 3 kids- some even 4… but I don’t think it’s true. I think your head would explode upon bringing the 3rd child home from hospital.IMG_1219

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