Monday, June 15, 2009

My Little 5 Year Old

Oh me - I write this post in shock! Abby turned 5 today! We have had a full birthday bash weekend. She had a pool party with some of her friends Saturday at a friend's house. It was scheduled to start at 11:00 and it poured down rain until 10:30 and then cleared up into a beautiful afternoon! The only stress was me trying to set up the whole thing in 30 minutes or less!

Today, she got to go spend her Toys R Us gift card we gave her (she thought it was a credit card :)) She chose a Ipod Nano.......who knew a 5 year old knew such things? Anyway, we went on for swimming lessons and then fun at Bridge Street. She splashed in the water fountains and rode the carousel before we met my Mom for a special birthday lunch. Abby was determined that someone at a restaurant needed to sing to her. She is such a ham! She LOVED the attention! We ended today with a family supper with her grandparents and great-grandparents. It was so sweet to see that she was just as excited, if not more, to have her "family" party as she was with her friends on Saturday.

I'm trying not to think about it too much......Kindergarten is just around the corner - YIKES! How thankful I have always been for Abby, but even more so now! It seems you never appreciate life until it is lost. Abby has been and still is the light in our world. She kept us going through days we didn't think we could. The Lord sent words through her that we needed to hear. She was my reason to get up and face the day. She has more understanding about Heavenly things than many 5 year olds, but maybe this is an early part of her work too. We love you sweet and sassy Abby!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Updates, Updates

Well, I finally took a few minutes to post some updates on the last few weeks. I separated them into separate posts and there are lots of pictures! To say that the last few weeks have been busy is an understatement!! The end of the school year is always a busy time for us. Add in several singings, going out of town, a huge yard sale and trying to slide into a more "summer" routine with the girls has been a doozy!

The girls are doing great - you'll see many things in later posts! Ellie Kate is certainly proving to be another diva! She likes it her way, and ONLY her way! She can go from 0 to 60 in less than 1 second! And if she thinks she's hungry - watch out sister! The funny thing is, she can go from screaming to literally laughing in two seconds too! It all depends on the mood of the moment. Who said the second one is more laid back??

Stewart has been busy. He writes the music and drill for several high school band half time shows every summer. Did I mention he was Million Dollar Band member and a band director back in the day?? He loves to write the shows each summer, so he's getting started on those. He has also gone back to school to work on his doctorate. Oh me - how long might this take? I kid him that he just wants his kids at school to call him "Dr. T" instead of "Mr. T"!

I'm the same old me - exhausted, strung out, and still hopeful that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train! I've struggled the last few weeks with emotional undercurrents that I just couldn't identify. Finally, last week, the true feelings finally surfaced. You would think after this long, I would learn to identify my feelings enough to know when a break down is coming. But I usually don't. I spend days re-examining routines, wondering if I should take medicine/stop taking medicine, torturing Stewart with mood swings larger than life, and then finally it comes - an Olivia meltdown. This time it was triggered by a friend's Facebook post. I will post a link at the bottom of this post. It truly is an inspiring story of someone I can certainly relate to, but it was just too much that afternoon. Maybe it was just what I needed to break the ice. Whatever - it threw me down the old emotional spiral faster than I've gone in quite a while.

Maybe some of you can help me with this one - why is it that I try to put my feelings away and label them "handled"? I can even talk with others about them, share my feelings and try to help them on their journey and yet still completely ignore what is really going on in my mind. I lead myself into a vicious pattern in which I become mentally exhausted trying to convince everyone (including myself) that everything is just as it should be and I've got it "together" - whatever that means! Some days, I just have to sit down and remind myself, "Yes your daughter died. Yes there are still no real answers why except pure providence. Yes, you did suffer the emotional anguish of getting pregnant again 3 months later. Yes your precious grandfather died and your father-in-law died all in a matter of one year. And all the while, you worked 50 hours a week, raised another daughter to the best of your ability, tried to be a decent wife and smile while you did it all."

But then there is the flip side - Yes Olivia died, but certainly God had a better plan for her life and she waits for us now. Maybe he spared her suffering, maybe it is part of our works to bear this tragedy. Whatver the reason - great will be our reward! Yes our loved ones passed on, but after months of suffering, they are both without pain, playing ring around the rosies with Olivia, waiting on the rest of our journeys to be complete. And YES we have a beautiful, healthy 6 month old now and a joyous 5 year old to help heal our hearts and remind us everyday of our infinite blessings.

Bottom line - we're human. We all deserve a little break down/pity party/cry fest - whatever you call them! We all struggle with life's inequities. How thankful I am to know that God's grace and provision is greater than all of these. Trusting in this fact doesn't erase the hurt, but it does provide a great band-aid! :)

Hope all is well, and I apologize for so much at once!


It's Summer! Stewart and I are still working (I'm not exactly sure when administrators stop :)) but the girls are already in full summer mode!


We recently went to the Smokies with my Mom and Dad. We had such a great time!! Unfortunately Mom was under the weather for most of the trip, but she toughed it out and got to enjoy the girls as much as she could. Abby got to go to Dollywood (we LOVE Dollywood!) and the Track. I declare we could mark her growth from how far her legs hang on the swings at this place - she LOVES it!! Here are some pictures and a few blasts from the past pictures as well!



My Big Girl!

Abby's first day in 3 year class.

Abby's last day in the three year class.

Abby's first day of 4 year old class.

Abby's last day of preschool!

Abby's last day of preschool was a few weeks ago. She handled it MUCH better than I did!! She has been at this preschool full-time (5 days, ALL day) since she turned 3 years old. For those of you moms who work, you know what a heart wrenching decision this can be! I have struggled with these decisions probably more than I have most in our girls' lives. You just want to know that your children and happy and safe when you can't be with them!

I can not begin to tell you what a blessing our school has been to our family! I first signed her up for only a few days a week. When Stewat's father found out he had cancer, my mother-in-law needed to turn her attention to him and couldn't help us on the other days. I panicked - we had only been at our "new" school for a few weeks, and I didn't know many people there. When I called to explain the circumstances, they immediately found a place for her and made it work for us! Just 3 short months later, we lost Olivia. As much as we grieved, I was paralyzed with fear of what this would do to Abby. How could a 3 year old comprehend and manage the grief that we couldn't manage? What would she say? I remember looking up at the graveside after Olivia's service and seeing someone in the distance - Abby's teacher!! Mind you, the family cemetery where she is buried is over an hour from where the school is, but there stood Abby's teacher! Mothers - you can imagine the comfort this brought me. We had a conversation a few days later about how we were handling her comments, and she encouraged me to bring Abby back to school soon to get her back in the routine. The comfort in my heart was immeasurable. I knew that with prayers and the watchful eye of those that loved her, our Abby would be fine.

This year, that loving instruction continued with her 4 year old teacher. This time, she was faced with a child who would say, "Mommy has another baby in her tummy. Can we pray that God will let this one stay with us?" You know what she did - she prayed with Abby that God would watch over us all. When Ellie Kate's safe arrival finally came, her classmates had an "Abby has a baby sister" party and Abby marched around the school with her big sister shirt on.

You know what's amazing - they love them all that way!! Our family has such a special place in our hearts for this school. I know the Lord sent them our way just when He knew we would need them. Even in the confusion, despair and uncertainty of the last 2 years, I also had a peace that Abby was learning and growing in an environment where she was loved and protected.

So here we are - I have an upcoming Kindergartner on my hands. I can't hardly believe it!! If any of you are in need of a preschool, please email me and let me tell you which school we love!

Monday, June 8, 2009

We're still here - I think!

Just a SUPER quick update - we're still here!!! I've gotten many emails and texts asking, "Where are you??" We have been SUPER busy. The end of the school year is busy for both me and Stewart, we've been out of town, and countless other things. I have SO much to catch up on and LOTS of pictures to post. Until then, here are EK's latest stats from her 6 month check up today - WOW!!
19 Pounds, 11 ounces
27 1/2 inches long