Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hannah Grace turns 1!!

I cannot believe my baby girl is ONE!  Wow, that year just flew by!  Well, parts of it anyway.  Those months of showing the house..not so fast.  She is growing up so incredibly fast.  Time slow down!

I loved every second of my time with Hannah through this first year.  She is such a delight - loves to cuddle, delights in her family, laughs at all the silly things we do.  She sleeps great and is willing to go with the flow since our days are dictated by her crazy big brothers.  Her eyes light up when I walk in to get her each morning as she lays her head on my shoulder and wraps her arm around my neck.  Who could ask for a better way to start each day??

We celebrated our sweet girl's 1st birthday in full girl style, with an abundance of pink and gold sparkles.  Here are some shots from her special day!

 Birthday Cake - strawberry cake with cheesecake whipped cream frosting.  Yummy

Little smash cake for our girl

Table of food


Pom poms!  Because...what 1 year old doesn't want pom poms??

"It's my birthday"

"And I love it!"

Birthday girl eating some lunch

Snuggles all around

Bouncy house for the big kids 

"I do not like this on my cake, thank you very much..."

And I don't think I want to get my hands dirty

"Smash"

Uhm...what is this stuff on my fingers

Cake??  Oh, I'll eat cake.  Just don't make me touch it

Hmmm....I'm just not sure about this stuff

Oh, ok, this inside stuff isn't so bad

All in all it was a wonderful day to celebrate with friends and family.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with Hannah on her special day!  Happy birthday big girl!!



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dearest Hannah

My dear sweet girl,

Happy 1st birthday!  I love you so incredibly much.  Sometimes I am just amazed at how my capacity to love just continues to expand and grow.  You bring so much joy into our lives, and I couldn't imagine a day without you.

You came into the world in a relatively calm way, especially compared with your siblings.  And you have continued each day true to your start, taking it all in strides.  You are incredibly happy and content - loving playing at home with your "girl" toys, having a tea party and holding your dollie.  But you also love playing with the boys.  I love hearing your little truck noise as you zoom brothers cars, hearing you laugh and giggle when your brothers are being silly, watching your eyes light up as they learn to include you.  And you even take it like a champ when they throw you down to the ground and tackle you, rarely letting out more than a peep.  The perfect addition to our family.

You start each morning with a big smile and hug for your mama, reaching up for me in your crib before wrapping your little arm around my neck.  It is the sweetest moment and I will cherish every second of it, for however long it lasts.  And then we are off on a whirlwind of activities, typically dictated by Warren and Dean, though you never complain.

I love watching you learn, as you mimic us in an attempt to figure it all out, and then get so frustrated when you don't get it just right that first time.  I love how you delight in the simple things - in time with family, in your morning banana, in God's creation outside.  Your eyes are so expressive and it makes it so easy to know when you are just in awe of what you are seeing.  I even love your little temper tantrums, relatively quiet and short lived, when you feel slighted in the least.  They don't happen often, but you are already a master of the pouty lip.

Hannah Grace, I look forward to watching you continue to grow, watching you learn, hearing your first sweet words, and being with you through each stage.  I know this next year will be just as wonderful!  I love you so much, baby girl  HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY!!

XOXO

Mommy 







Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy 4th Birthday!

Oh my dear sweet Reagan,

Happy 4th birthday love!  Four years ago you entered this world, making my dreams of becoming a mommy come true in a way we never imagined.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of you, don't feel the hole left by your absence.  I love you so much.  So much.

I remember everything about that day.  The fear of the unknown as we walked into labor and delivery unsure of what to expect, praying this would all be a mistake and we would be told you were actually okay.  I remember holding your Daddy's hand, seeing that final ultrasound, knowing then what was being asked of us but not understanding why.  I remember Daddy tenderly holding my hand, comforting me throughout labor, reading the psalms over us.  I remember how it felt to deliver you, the silence that followed.  But most of all, I remember how it felt to have you placed in my arms.  To look at your beautiful face, those long eyelashes and big pouty lips, and see us reflected in you.  You were the most beautiful little girl, so peaceful.  I remember rocking you, remember reading to you, remember singing you a lullaby.  Those hours are all I have this side of heaven.

As I sit here glancing at the few pictures I have of you, imagining your life and what you are doing, listening to How Deep the Father's Love and sipping coffee, my heart is overflowing.  I am so thankful God chose me to be your mommy.  So thankful for every second of time I was able to carry you and those precious hours I could hold you.  Your life has had such a profound impact on me, on your daddy, on those who have never met you.  It's such a mix of emotions today - on a day when we celebrate you while missing you.  I love that we have this special day for you.

So, today we celebrate you.  Hannah and I have already had a dance party - you would have loved it!  I can't wait to watch your video tonight and see you dancing again :).  And even more so, have a dance party in person when we are all reunited.  We have a cake all ready for you.  Dean helped me make the icing and Warren added the sprinkles.  I hope you can see that and hear them sing Happy Birthday with their sweet little voices.  We got you flowers today and finally put together your new garden.  It's such a special place where we can just smile as we remember you, another way you have impacted our lives.  And of course we each sent you a purple balloon with some sweet messages.  Dean was having a rough day, but in a tender moment decided to draw you and him holding hands on his balloon.




Thank you for making me a mommy sweet girl, for teaching me how to love.  I experienced such joy with you, and my life is richer with you as my daughter.  I love you baby girl!  Happy birthday!

Love always,

Mommy

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Charlotte

For the most part, I try to avoid politics and current events.  I find them frustrating, and I'm not in a position to cause change.  I hate the political ads, both sides, hate the corruption and lies that have become accepted of our president (and those running).  I've seen various posts and articles about the police shootings and have been so frustrated with the ignorance and hate, again on both sides.  I've experienced it all with a certain amount of distance and callous.  If I can't change it, why bother investing?  What a terrible attitude!

All that changed with Charlotte.  I still consider that city to be my home.  I birthed my 4 children there, left my daughter's memory there, and spent 7 years of my life there.  I imagine it will be home for quite some time.  It's always been a mixture of so many different backgrounds, mostly transplants, never a true "Southern" city in the way my hometown Charleston was.

When I think back on my life, I know I worked hard to achieve my goals.  I studied hard in college, forgoing parties.  I started classes 5 days a week at 8 am, held various part time jobs, worked full time in the summers, and earned a full scholarship based on my grades.  I went my entire college career until 21 without alcohol, never did drugs, and spent many nights in the library.  I applied to grad school without any connections, did my interviews, and started my journey to becoming a PT.  I studied hard throughout grad school until I graduated with my doctorate.  If you had asked me then, I'd say that my race played no role in my achievements.  And to some extent, that was true.  But...

I grew up in a home where I believed in myself.  I was given every opportunity to succeed in life - a stable home with 2 parents, a stay at home mom who was involved in our daily lives (maybe too involved???).  I grew up feeling safe and loved and secure.  I am only beginning to realize how much that played a role in where I am today.  I knew, no matter what, that my parents loved me.  And, within that security, I flourished.  But not everyone has that.  Not everyone is safe at home.  I can only imagine what that does to confidence.  Andrew helped tutor a young boy in Charlotte, a little black boy who was raise by a single mother doing the best she knew, whose teachers were indifferent to downright hateful and discouraging.  What if that had been my environment?  Suddenly things get a bit harder...

I can't pretend I know what it would be like to be black.  I can't quote MLK and expect to even begin to understand the struggle.  I will teach my kids that the law enforcement is there to protect and serve, because that is what I know.  I don't even flinch when I see a cop (unless I'm speeding....and then I hold my breath for a second).  I fully expect that cop to protect me, to have my back, to have the backs of those around me.  And I expect my children will grow up with the same viewpoint.  But...what if I was taught the cops had it out for me.  What if I was taught I had to protect myself from the cops?  It doesn't seem like that is the situation Charlotte is currently facing, but suddenly things are taking on a new light.  I would hate that for  my boys, for them to live in fear of walking down the street at night.  But, what makes it better?  How do we overcome??  There are corrupt cops for sure, but not all of them.  And my heart just breaks for the protesters, for the anger they feel, the unforgiving rage.  It becomes more than just a black and white thing.  The system is broken, but this is not the way to fix it.

So, what does fix it?  Or rather, who?  The answer...Jesus.  Forgiveness.  Violence is not nearly as powerful as love and forgiveness found in Christ.  The shootings in a Charleston church, (maybe last year or early this year??) offer a wonderful example of that.  I was so proud of my hometown, of how the entire community came together to support the victims and FORGIVE the shooter.  The love of Christ was so evident following that incident that it quickly lost press.  THAT is how we handle things.  It seems the Charlotte shooting was clean - though facts are still coming through - that a black cop shot a black man because he had a gun.  Some new evidence may come through in the coming days, but until then, these protests seem to be fueled by pure rage.  There can be no racial drive, as the cop who did the shooting was also black.  Was the man who was shot simply scared for his life based on the police presence?  Maybe.  But what are we trying to accomplish by protesting, rioting, and shutting down the interstate?  The way to get people, to get the police force to understand and truly listen, is NOT by throwing a temper tantrum.  As a mom, I know that to be true - only makes me not listen, and in this case, only reinforces whatever prejudice is driving cops to be fearful.  Charlotte...do better.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lonely

No one ever told me how lonely motherhood could be.  For as long as I can remember, I longed to be a mother.  I wanted a big family, lots of kids.  I remember planning all this out when I was a child myself, sitting with my elementary school friends talking about how I want to be a stay at home mom, playing house and dolls, in a time when the world told me that was not enough.  I chose a career that would be easy to do part time, one in which I could have the flexibility to control my hours and work as little as 1 morning a week.  I remember those early years in our marriage, longing desperately for a child even before we started trying.  I remember the utter defeat I felt, month after month, in the years of our infertility.  All along, I thought motherhood would make me whole.  Happy.  Complete.  I had a great job, but it was never enough.

My journey into motherhood is scarred at best.  Broken.  I still feel these moments of overwhelming bitterness when I think of our infertility, still questioning why God had us wait for so long.  I question and doubt every decision we made leading up to IVF, wondering if there was some point where we quit trusting God to provide and He began punishing us.  My human heart just wants something to blame.  Being surrounded by other mothers in the same stage of life, dealing with unruly preschoolers, diapered infants, and no time for showers should bring me comfort.  It's the life I live each day.  And yet, I don't know how to relate to these women.  I still feel betrayed and a bit frustrated at the ease in which most of the women conceive.  "We weren't trying" or "this one was a surprise" still just cut right through me.  "God blessed us with a miracle" when I feel like He didn't bless me in that same why.  And I find myself wondering all over again what I did wrong.  Though my head knows the answer is nothing, my heart struggles to feel it.

And once Reagan died, my world was turned upside down.  The "why," never clear and always lurking the back of my mind.  I think pregnancy and complications with Warren and Dean simply served to cover over the grief.  I didn't have it in my weak heart to grieve Reagan's death while being pregnant with major complications with the boys.  And I shut down, not moving forward in the whole process of grief.  Life became simply  and literally keeping them alive.  That was all.  And now?    I'm facing my grief over Reagan in a whole new way, in a new city where people don't know about her life, in an environment surrounded by little girls her age.  I think I heard 4 times today how my hands were full.  But they're not...not as full as they should be.  And how do I communicate that?  I just don't even know.  It seems to keep me separate from other moms, as the hurt just runs deep.  I don't quite know how to move past that.  Or if I can.

Monday, August 15, 2016

9 months

Happy 9 (and a half...oops) months Hannah!!  This little girl is growing up so fast!  She is so incredibly full of joy, laughing and giggling at her brothers, content to play just about anything, in LOVE with peek-a-boo and flipping upside down.  Oh, she can throw her head back in a temper tantrum with the best of them, but I love seeing that innocence in her face, the quickness with which she forgives her brothers for being mean, and the sweet joy she has in life.

Have I really not given a Hannah update since 4 months??  Wow, I knew I was a little behind, but I fully expected that I had at least shared she was sitting...Hmm.  Anyway, she's certainly changed in the months since we moved, getting in 5 (almost 6) teeth, learning to sit, crawl, pull up and cruise, feed herself finger foods.  She looks like a little chunk to me but continues to only be in the 15th percentile and still fits several of her 6 month clothes.  Naps don't come as easily as they used to, but Hannah still loves her night sleep and typically gets a good 11.5-12 hours in.  I know we are completely blessed with that as I think back on those sleepless nights with the boys.

Here are some of her monthly pics.  Poor planning with the blocks as that child will not sit still if there is a toy nearby that she might be able to chew on, so we've lost our visual markers.

6 months, last with a block...

7 months

8 months

9 months

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reminders

Facebook memories.  Most days I get a little reminder and see a fun note from an old friend, a picture of Andrew and I traveling, a video of the boys first walking.  Most of the time, it fills my heart, reminds me of how blessed we are.  But some days, it feels like I've been hit in the face with a brick.  I never choose to look at the memories in the weeks following Reagan's birth.  I know better than to look back and read the condolences, to see verses meant at comforting the gut retching pain, or to see my own words of despair.  It's been years, but it sure isn't any easier, and I still have to protect my heart.  But August?  August is one of my favorite memory months - with the boys in the NICU but growing stronger, experiencing so many firsts.  First time wearing clothes, first time breathing without tubes, first time taking a bottle, first time holding them both together without all the wires and tubes.  They still had a ways to come before they could come home with us, but these NICU days were incredible at showing us just how strong our little preemies were and just how miraculous life was in general.  So much we take for granted.

So today, I was completely caught off guard to see a memory of Reagan, our pregnancy announcement.  I was in that "safe zone."  I'd had 3 ultrasounds and knew she was growing well.  We'd heard the heartbeat, and I was moving into my maternity clothes.  How many years will go by before I stop feeling like my world is crashing down around me?  Does it ever?  Probably not...

Moving has been hard for many reasons.  To the outside world, I look like a mother who has her hands full.  Who has *that kid* who is screaming uncontrollably while throwing a crumbled cookie in Publix while the other one runs and grabs the avocados and starts dropping them on the floor while also wearing a crying baby.  I get stares and looks, though I've only ever had 1 person dumb enough to comment to me about where babies come from (if he only knew...).  Add to in the Florida humidity and a constant glistening of sweat, and I have all appearances of being an extremely fertile mother, with more than she can handle.  But the thing no one can see is how much I long for my first baby, how incomplete our family feels.  That I should also have a little girl about to turn 4, adding to the craziness. I hate that she doesn't exist here.  She still felt such a part of our lives in Charlotte - maybe because our friends knew us while I was pregnant with her and were praying for us while she was being born?  Maybe because we had just always imagined her running down the streets of our neighborhood, playing with the other little girls, swimming in the pool and having park dates. I never had those moments, those memories or hopes, in our new town.  And really, that's all we get with Reagan.  Memories and hopes, until we reach heaven.  And then I know (in my head) that it's all worth it, but my heart just can't seem to feel that some days.  I miss my Rea Rea, so much.