Recently I posted about a childhood friend who had a son battling a vicious brain tumor. The family brought little Henry home from the hospital a month or two ago, knowing that his days were numbered. And sadly, Henry passed away on Sunday night. I can't even express how heartbroken I am. As a mother, I am constantly putting myself in my friend's shoes, imagining what it would be like if it was my child.
I have to share this amazing letter my friend posted on Facebook on a page to remember her son. The example of my friend's faith has been literally life-changing to me. And while I never had a chance to meet sweet Henry in person, he will always have a very special place in my heart.
Our Precious Henry,
Several years ago we were living in a tiny apartment. Daddy was at work and I took a test. I'd taken pregnancy tests before but this was different - this one showed TWO lines! At that moment I was stuck by the symbolism - a line for me, and a line representing the life I was now responsible for, the life I'd cherish and enjoy the rest of my days. That was my plan. I believe it was God's plan too.
Enjoying your first two years was more.... more everything than your dad and I thought it would be. More difficult, more rewarding, more painful, more joyful, more tiring and more exhilarating than we ever suspected parenthood would be.
Your sweet cackling laugh always compelled us to laugh along, your big blue eyes could change our made-up minds. We were continuously blown away by your creativity, industriousness, intelligence, and coordination. We speculated that you'd be an engineer or a surgeon or do something to maximize your incredible potential. That was our plan. We believe it was God's plan too.
When Miri came along we so enjoyed seeing the two of you interact. Your gentle hugs and kisses, the way you'd giggle and chase each other, even your single-word arguments over whether a particular food was "tasty!" or "wummy!" Her look of adoration stuck from the moment she met you, and when you nicknamed her your "Best-Friend Miwi," we knew you two would enjoy a life-long friendship. That was our plan. We believe it was God's plan too.
The year preceding your earthly death was difficult. We tried and tried but couldn't understand the challenges you faced and presented. We had no knowledge of this vicious disease, but learned about grace, forgiveness, patience, and perseverance during this time. We still giggled, still played, still worked, but it wasn't until your body began to show outward signs that we began to grasp the source of affliction.
When we learned of your brain tumor we prayed. Thousands prayed. We demanded in prayer, we begged in prayer, we took authority in prayer, we took personal inventories and confessed our shortcomings in prayer, we gathered with groups in prayer, and wept silently, alone in prayer.
We did everything we could think of to strengthen our prayers - prayers for a miraculous healing. A miraculous healing was our plan, and we believe that once you became sick, it became God's plan too.
So many are quick to sign God's name to your vicious disease, to your suffering, to your death. In the Old Testament, Job attributed his suffering to God too, but after God confronted Job on his lack of understanding about the complexity of the universe, Job repented, admitting he'd spoken of things he did not know (Job 42:3).
Your dad and I also do not know. We do not know why it was you that suffered and died so young. We do not know why the prayers of thousands did not prevail. We just do. not. know.
But some things we do know. We know there is much going on behind the scenes of this fallen world, a world tremendously influenced by God's powerful adversary. We know that spiritual warfare invades our lives, and often leaves devastation in its wake.
We also know, according to Hebrews 1:3, that Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the EXACT representation of God’s being. We know that this exact representation of God, Jesus Christ, came to give life, and life more abundantly. So we know your pain, your death, did not come from God, but from an evil place. And we know one most crucial thing - we know how to fight back.
We will fight with... surrender. We choose to surrender the anger, the despair, and defeat we feel. We lay these feelings at the feet of Jesus, to whom the battle belongs.
We know how he fought for us - with complete self-sacrifice. In fact, that sacrifice is our assurance that we'll see you again.
So we will instead strive to use our energies to be generous to those who could never repay, to be gentle to those who don't make it easy, to pour into the lives of those who hurt, and to, one act at a time, spread the liberating love of Christ.
We'll fail at times, but we pledge to live this way, to honor you, Henry, and to honor the One who now gently holds your small hand. That's our plan. And living a life that loves sacrificially, well, that always God's plan too.
Sweet boy, we miss you with every breath, but we'll all be together before you know it, celebrating the ultimate victory of love. Until then Precious One, all our love.
For those of you not up on your Grinch, the last line of the song is "Mr. Grinch. You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich. With arsenic sauce!" Apparently it is now the last line of the Pledge as well. Enjoy!
A childhood friend of mine is going through the most terrible thing I can ever imagine, knowing that her sweet four year old son is dying and there isn't anything she can do about it. Her family was just featured on the local news and I've included a link if you want to watch it.
Please, please, please pray for sweet Henry and strength for his family! I find myself crying almost every day when Henry pops into my mind. And tonight, when I was really tired and just wanted to lay Emma in bed and go to bed myself, I was ok with one more book and a little more snuggle time. Because I want to live in this very moment and cherish every second.
Kate turns ONE today! Oh, how I love this sweet girl. She has an innocence that melts my heart.
Here's the picture we used for her birthday party invitation, which was last night.
This sweet girl devoured her entire extra-large birthday cupcake, no problem!
And here are all of Kate's picky sticky pictures. I can't even say how happy I am that I did these for both Emma and Kate. I used the pictures as decoration at the party and then will make them into a book.
Seems like life is filled with things that absolutely break your heart. I find myself all the time reading a story with my eyes filled with tears. While I know life is filled with precious, wonderful, beautiful stories filled with happiness, there is just so much sadness out there.
Most recently, I've come across several stories of children with just horrible, terrible diseases that mean they will likely never make it beyond childhood. A sweet baby in my area has Miller-Dieker Syndrome, something I know very little about beyond my Google searches, and her parents don't know how long she'll be with them. I just can't even imagine. How do you live with that? I know that these wonderful parents have to find a way to treasure each moment and still live, but I get so choked up just thinking about the pain they have to deal with day in and day out.
I guess I don't want to dwell too much more on this, but it has been on my mind a lot and I wanted to get it down on "paper." I guess the other side of it is that, while I'm generally an optimistic person, I can't help but be fearful thinking that something devastating could hit my family, too. Obviously that is no way to live, but I guess fear of what could happen is part of being a parent (and life in general).
I think you are in trouble when the UPS man knows your name. And, let me tell you, I see that poor guy almost every day. I think I have a problem. I've gotten to the point where I buy almost everything I possibly can online. So much easier than carting two kids to the store.
If Amazon's stock seems to be higher these days, it's because I'm keeping them in business. I adore Amazon! Every time something pops into my mind...like, "oh, such and such would be nice to have"...I run to the computer and buy it off Amazon. So much more dangerous than thinking about buying an item, maybe adding it to a list to buy at the store, and then maybe getting around to buying it. I also get all of the girls' diapers and wipes off Amazon, as well as some food items. With subscribe and save and Amazon Prime, you end up saving and you get it really fast, so...that's my justification.
Also, I adore Zulily! Every day, I get an email delivered to my inbox filled with fabulous things I think I just have to have. Baby clothes and shoes, home decorations, organization items...you name it, Zulily will have it at some point. I need to stop getting the emails. But, what fun would that be? The downside to Zulily is that it takes FOREVER to get some of the items, especially when you are used to super fast shipping from Amazon.
And here are a few fun things I've recently purchased.
Love these Family Rules Signs from Etsy. I just ordered it yesterday and love that it is customizable with your own phrases. I am getting it in distressed black with the phrases "Say your prayers, Tell the truth, Laugh & Love, Be Sweet, Praise God, Mind your manners, Dream big, and Work hard." This one is huge (2'x4') and I'll use it as a focal point in our entry way.
I also just discovered PhotoBarn via a special from GroupOn. They print photos on wood, which I think look super cool. I bought a set of 5x7s and an 11x14, all of photos from the beach in black and white. The 5x7s have come already and I really love them.
Hope you enjoyed my recent finds. I've also gotten into Pinterest and am in the process of making boards for a remodel of our downstairs half bath as well as installation of some built-in bookcases in our study. I'm khabeeb on Pinterest if any of you want to follow and take a look.
Hopefully the bizarre title was effective at luring you over to my blog post as I have two sweet happenings to capture.
First, hubby left this evening for a work trip to Minnesota. Thankfully it is just an overnight. Yep, Virginia to Minnesota and return in a little over 24 hours. As he was leaving, Emma, Kate and I stood in the garage doorway, waving and blowing kisses. And, absolutely no kidding, as he was pulling out, Kate said "bye-bye, Da-Da" and started waving. It was just too adorable and I think that counts as her first words, a full phrase, no less!
Second, after Kate went to bed tonight, Emma and I were playing in the playroom. I decided to multi-task, like all busy mommies, and fold laundry at the same time. Emma was determined to help out. So I gave her her first laundry folding lesson. While usually I'm quite particular about how laundry gets folded, I was thrilled to see Emma get the hang of folding a washcloth in half and then folding it again, even if it resulted in a crumpled up washcloth. It was precious to see her watch me and then try to do the exact same thing. But what really melted my heart was when she said, "mommy, I like helping you." She certainly is my "big girl helper," which I say probably a dozen times a day.
So, there you go. Minnesota and laundry. Good times.
We survived our first trip to the beach as a family of four! It was touch and go to start with...neither girl slept on the way there and then a horrible night with both girls up for huge chunks. But once we got past that hurdle, we actually had a lot of fun.
We were at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which I highly recommend. The weather was perfect - albeit stinking hot - and the crowds are minimal. We brought my 17 year old niece along with us to help with the girls, which was a GREAT idea. Adding an extra pair of arms was beyond helpful. Plus, we got adjoining hotel rooms, and put the girls in with my niece at night. Hahaha!
Emma loved playing in the water, but wasn't overly fond of the huge wave that knocked both of us under at one point. But I wasn't a big fan either. Kate was pretty indifferent. In fact, we tried to plan the time at the beach around when Kate would be napping (of course one of us would stay in the room with her), because it is pretty hard entertaining a baby that can't walk and won't sit still while you are surrounded by sand.
We did a few fun things while there, other than the pool and beach. One morning we rented a 4 door jeep and drove on the beach to see the wild horses. Pretty crazy driving in a car with no doors and 2 carseats strapped in the back. Maybe not the safest thing but still fun.
I carried Emma to the top of one of the lighthouses - all 217 steps (up and down!). And we ate a lot of bad-for-you food (shout out to Duck Donuts).
I have to say, going in my expectations were pretty low, thinking we were crazy for going on a trip with 2 little ones, but we really did have a great time. And probably one of the smartest things is that we arrived back home on a Friday, which gave us the whole weekend to recover.
But tomorrow is Monday. Boo! Back to reality!
Here are a few of our sweet memories to tide us over until the next vacation.
First time with toes in the ocean!
One of Emma's favorite things was looking for crabs on the beach...and trust me, they are everywhere!
She had her 9 month check-up this week, the first since 6 months, and, boy, has she grown. She was barely on the charts at 6 months...BUT has gained almost 4 pounds since then, putting her in the 25th percentile (an even 17lbs). And, while Emma at 6 months weighed over 2 pounds more than Kate did at the same age, Kate now weighs 1 ounce more than Emma did at 9 months.
This girl can eat. It is unbelievable. I'm still breastfeeding 3-4 times a day. And she's eating 3 solid meals a day as well. She'll finish whatever I've given her and then finish off whatever Emma left on her plate. Blueberries have definitely emerged as her favorite.
Everything else checked out a-ok. They did a finger prick to check lead and iron, and, of course, had to do it on one of the two fingers that is in her mouth 80% of the day. She kept trying to shake off the band-aid, but finally decided to accept her fate and stuck the bandaged finger into her mouth.
I think 9 months starts to be a really fun age. She interacts with us, trying to copy sounds that we make and playing with us. She'll hold out her hand, I'll pretend to eat it, and then she pulls it away with a full belly laugh.
So, that's the update on Kate. We head to the beach on Monday. Not sure if we are crazy to think going to the beach with two little ones will even remotely resemble a vacation, but we'll give it the old college try. We are taking along my 17 year old niece to help with the girls, which I think will help immensely.
I'll do a full beach update when we return. Hope everyone is enjoying their summers. My heart is heavy for a few of my blogger friends who have experienced failed cycles recently. And a personal friend of mine who announced a week or so ago that her IVF cycle worked, only to lose the baby shortly after. Infertility is so stinking unfair. Love to you all.
In what, literally, feels like a blink of an eye, Emma has gone from a baby to an independent, thinking, doing, saying, acting, and yes, strong-willed, rebelling, little girl. I don't even think the description "toddler" seems appropriate any more.
Concepts we started trying to drill into her head months ago - letters, numbers, colors, etc - have all of a sudden just stuck. She knows how to make jokes. She can complete large chunks of books that we frequently read (she got her first "Madeline" book, which is a big hit) And she certainly knows how to express her will - loudly!
Some days she's an absolute perfect angel. Other days...well, quite the opposite. But each day, without fail, she gives us something new to laugh about and of which to be proud.
Kate goes to the doctors this coming week for her 9 month check-up. Yep, my baby girl is 3/4 of a year old. I'll provide an update on sweet Kate-Kate, as we call her, after that appointment.
And the following Monday...WE HEAD TO THE BEACH! Woo hoo!!!!
So stay tuned...I hope to do TWO posts in the coming week. It's always good to set goals, right???
Someone took my sweet newborn and replaced her with a sweet 8 month old. I must have blinked.
Everything has gone by so much faster the second time around. I guess having to divide my attention more means that more has slipped by.
I still try to write in Kate's calendar most days to record the little things, like "ate grapes and blueberries for the first time" or "waving" or "pulling up on everything" or "slaps on the edge of her crib when she's ready to get up" or "nestles into my chest with her fingers in her mouth when she's ready to go to sleep" or "crawls so fast it's hard to keep up"...
Yeah, those are all recent milestones in this precious girls life. Boy, oh boy, she's a sweetie pie. I can't get enough of her.
The post says it all. There's a shiny new car in our driveway after a day of car shopping. Well, actually it's a shiny new USED car, but all the same to us!
While I completely understand the practicalities of a minivan - and they are, in most cases, a better value than an SUV - I wanted to stick with the SUV since it is doable with 2 kids. BUT, I also wanted the option of being able to haul a friend or family member as well, which just wasn't possible in our little SUV with a backseat filled with 2 carseats.
But car manufacturers are getting smarter. More and more offer a 2nd row with captain's chairs that make access to the third row actually possible with carseats in.
There's one, in particular, that I've been drooling over for awhile. I was able to track down a barely used one in a neighboring town - a 2011 with 13,000 miles - that was fully loaded with everything that we wanted. 2 sunroofs. Rear back-up camera. DVD. Leather.
Hubby and I got my mom to watch the girls on Saturday and we made the trek to the out-of-town dealership to see if it was indeed the bargain we were looking for.
Well, as I said, the title gives it away. And we estimate we got it for at least $10,000 less than a new 2012 of the same model.
Here's a stock picture of my new Chevy Traverse (in this snazzy red color)! Believe it or not, it has more total cargo room than a Tahoe and is longer than most minivans.
While I've had the car now for about 24 hours, I LOVE it!!! We took it for a little drive today with both of the girls in their carseats, 2 adults up front, and 2 adults in the 3rd row and there was plenty of space. Awesome!
Emma and I broke in the swimming pool on Saturday for a few hours...And yesterday, the whole family took a little trip to the pool, which was Kate's first time. Something about summertime just makes you feel good! Certainly helps that the pool is about 1/2 mile from our house!
A few pool-related items:
Love this "puddle jumper" float - it is an approved floatation device - and provides a lot of peace of mind. It came highly recommended by the swim instructor at the YMCA, and Emma even doesn't mind wearing it. You can find it at Toys R Us and Target, but I ordered through Amazon because I wanted a cute color (very important...we have the yellow one).
I just bought this gigantic pool bag...still waiting on its arrival. Can't believe how much stuff is needed for a successful trip to the pool.
We've had a lot of success with Blue Lizard baby sunscreen. I am a sunscreen fanatic, plus want to make sure whatever I use is gentle. It's pricey, but still cheaper than California Baby (which is also good).
And here's your reward for stopping by...some sweet summertime fun pictures.
"Hodgepodge" - one of Emma's new words, so funny when she says it, usually to describe a very randomly put together dinner of leftovers - and it also describes this blog post. A little bit of this. And a little bit of that.
Here's a picture that warms my heart...
Emma Questions and assertion: Emma has begun asking a million questions all the time. Everything I say is followed by a "why?" from her. I know this is part of normal development, and most of the time I enjoy explaining a little bit more. She has also started saying "I don't want to" when I ask her to do something. That isn't nearly as much fun to deal with!
Potty: Emma is doing pretty well using the potty, though we have not begun full-blown potty training. She sits on the potty to pee a lot and can go pretty long stretches with a dry diaper. AND the big milestone last week was her finally pooping on the potty. She was quite proud of herself and was rewarded with some yummy chocolate.
Kate Eating: Kate is 7 months old, but still feels like a little baby to me...she is on the small side and finds herself still wearing 0-3 month clothes once in a while...but I'm guessing it is more because I'm comparing her to Emma's size now. She is a very sweet, usually quiet baby, but she is the most impatient eater. As soon as I put her in the highchair, she is screaming and flapping her arms. I can't get food to her fast enough. And she will eat, eat, eat, rarely ever signaling that she's full. Guess she could use the extra weight. Emma tells her all the time to "be patient," which is pretty funny.
Milestones: She sits up really well now and has started to crawl just a little bit. I need to lower the crib because she is now sitting up in her crib and trying to chew on the side rail.
I've lost 6 pounds so far and have been running 5 days a week. Yesterday, I did a 5 mile run and it felt great. My goal is to lose an additional 13 pounds, hopefully by the end of July. We'll see.
I guess that is enough hodgepodge for now. Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!!!
Up until doing IVF with Emma, I was pretty thin. I was very conscious of my eating, I ran 5 miles at least 5 days a week, and I took a regular pilates class. I even did pilates and continued to run past 30 weeks pregnant, until the doctor forced me to stop because I had a low amniotic fluid level.
I was finally able to lose all but about 5 pounds of the Emma-related weight and then...I got pregnant with Kate! I exercised up until about 20 weeks with Kate, but my hips and back hurt way more than they did with Emma. So I stopped.
At my heaviest with Kate, I was a good 40 pounds more than my pre-Emma weight. Since giving birth to Kate, I've lost about 15 pounds, still making me a good 25 pounds more than I wanted to be.
I'm kind of lucky because I'm tall and no one really notices the extra weight on me. But I sure do!
And now I've had enough! I am back to running at least 4 days a week (though, admittedly, more like 3 miles at a time, not 5). I've already run 2 races since March. And I'm signed up for a 1/2 marathon in September.
AND I've signed up for Weight Watchers.
Since having kids, I've totally stopped paying attention to what I eat. If I'm hungry and something sounds good to me, I eat it. It has to stop! What I like about Weight Watchers - I'm just doing the online points tracking, where each food has a certain number of points and you get a set amount of points a day - is that I'm back to paying attention to what I'm eating. And since fruit and veggies have ZERO points, I'm eating so much better.
I've been on it now for 2 weeks and I've lost 5 pounds. Not bad. My goal is to lose 15-18 more. I'll keep you posted.
While there are a lot of things that come with a child this age - a strong will, the start of a sassy mouth, and quick mood changes and temper tantrums, just to name a few - there are so many more awesome things.
An unsolicited "I love you"
Emma sweet showing ownership by calling us "my mommy" and "my daddy"
Talking, talking, talking (and a lot more understanding on our part)
Learning, learning, learning (like how to spell her name, numbers, colors, new words used properly, pretend play)
Showing more love to her sister
She is such a ball of fun and energy these days.
And here are a few pictures from Emma's 2 year photo shoot with hubby's cousin, who did a terrific job.
I'm a tad over 30 and started trying to conceive in January 2008. First IVF cycle in June 2009 and BFP in July 2009. Sending up lots and lots of prayers for baby Emma Grace who made her big debut on March 20, 2010. Eighteen months later we welcomed Sarah Kate, a total, but wonderful, surprise.
Married to my high school sweetheart since 2001 and living in the beautiful mountains of Virginia.
Hope to connect with others who have walked in my shoes or may even be sharing my size 8's right now! Please spend some time here and pass along any words of wisdom or support.