Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scars and Memories

Kleenex warning!! (Several readers told me to do this if the post might be a tear jerker!!)

The blog world is amazing! I stumbled upon Abby Grace a few months ago from another blog. She is a precious little girl who happens to suffer from the same congenital brain defect as my mother, Chiari I Malformation.

Have I told you about my mom? I know I mention her in my posts. She has gotten attached to some of yours, so you may have had a few comments from her now and again. She is a ROCK! Not necessarily because she wants to be, but FORTUNATELY the Lord has brought her through countless situations which were tragedies at the time and are testimonies now! She had the tragic experience of losing two precious babies, Julie Michelle and Steven Daniel, before me. I think I have posted about the hidden blessing of "finding" space in the cemetery to bury Olivia beside them where there once wasn't space - God thing! She's had lots of medical struggles through the years that culminated in 2001 with the final diagnosis of Chiari I Malformation. After much prayer, she had surgery in December of that year. I remember travelling with just her and Dad to Missouri for the surgery. I was a newlywed and trying to be SO strong, but I was petrified. It was a terrible thing and and even more terrible surgery.

I remember the surgeon coming out into the waiting room that day after hours and hours of just me and Dad pacing. It was so much worse than he thought -the worst he'd ever seen, but he thought he did what he needed to do to help her lead a more normal life. I saw the look in my Daddy's eyes that day - it wasn't exactly what I wanted to see. My rock - my daddy - looked scared. The next 48 hours were so tough. So many things happened. I would steal away to pray, to check "we're praying emails" from friends, each time hoping to see the look of fear dissipate. The the Lord came. He touched her again, we came home in time for Christmas, and she has been a new woman ever since!

There are so many testimonies through that situation - maybe one day Mom herself will post about them. Like when the doctors said they couldn't fix the nerve damage that had already occurred in her legs to the point that she couldn't walk, yet the elders prayed and anointed her and she ran up and down stairs to help me get ready for my wedding day. Like the days after surgery that she couldn't even understand language, and looked at the evening news and didn't understand a word yet woke up the next morning and knew everything that was being said! Tonight, as I watched little Abby Grace toddle to her Daddy after this traumatic surgery with that tell-tale scar, and remembering trying to wash Mom's hair for the first time with that scar, all I could do was cry and say, "Thank you for letting me have my mom!"

Please pray for Abbie Grace's recovery. It is a hard one!

Thank you Lord for my mom - she has led me down this path that unfortunately she had already trod. What an amazing blessing!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bath Time

Hannah Montana Dress Up

Daddy EK ready for bed - HI MOMMY!

Look What We're Doing!

I'm SO excited! I just figured out how to update my blog from my Blackberry!!! Techno Geek - I know! I'm ADHD, and can't pay total attention in this workshop I'm attending, so I found something to do while I listen! (I wonder how we could keep our kids more engaged during class??)

Anyway - these are some of the pictures that Stewart and Mom have sent me from our family journeys. I am in Mobile, Stewart is at home with an ender-the-weather EK, and Abby is at DISNEY WORLD with Mimi and Papaw! Check it out!

Waiting in line for Dumbo :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Exciting Times!

WHEW!! We've had some exciting days the last week or so, but somehow excitement is exhausting!! We've just finished up revival at church which equates to 13 services over the course of the week. I'm sure when I have the brainpower to reflect on the good things we heard and witnessed I will feel more "revived", but right now all I can say is WHEW!

Abby got a big surprise Friday night. Papaw and Mimi called to invite her to go to Disney World! The biggest surprise was that they left yesterday! It's a company trip that has been in the works, but we kept it a secret just in case something fell through. So after a long night Friday night of church, cleaning the fellowship hall, last minute packing for DW (which is NOT easy!), both girls decided they just couldn't be bothered with sleep. EK has a new tooth coming in that's driving her crazy and Abby just couldn't sleep for thinking about which ride she wanted to ride first!

Yesterday I helped Stewart pack his offices and get them ready to go to his new office (all around running in the doc-in-the-box to get shots for my sinus crud that just won't let go!). It was a little sad :( Abby was scheduled to enter Kindergarten at JVE in a couple of weeks, but plans have changed with Stewart's new job. She will now attend HCES (where we live) instead. I'm sure it is a wonderful place, but I was already very comfortable with the people, atmosphere, kids, etc. at JVE and that was taking some of my "Mommy anxieties" away. I went and filled out her paperwork at HCES Friday, and they were very welcoming. I know it's not that big a deal, but it seems some of the biggest worries for me has always been where my children went for care, learning, etc. The plight of a working mother is that you are leaving your children in someone else's hands for typically more hours of the day than you will interact with them! That's a biggie!!! Add to that how to get them there and home and still keep your own job! Luckily Stewart's mom and grandmother are going to step in and help out with those details - what would I do without them??

Today, I'm off to Mobile!!! (Seriously, my friends this week have all been looking at me like I was a lunatic saying, "How are you handling all this???) It's for a conference for work and I will be gone three days. Stewart and his mom will have EK, and Abby is in DW, so if I can gather the brainpower to get myself packed (EK decided she liked staying up all night last night too :( ) I am off. I hate to leave, but right now the car ride down there is looking like an awesome nap opportunity (sorry travel mates!) and the thought of 2 nights alone in a hotel room with no baby monitor waking me every 15 minutes is somehow refreshing! Terrible isn't it? We work so hard to get them here. It's just a fact of life that mothers have to accept - sometimes we need a break!!! We sacrifice for everyone else all day everyday to the point of our own neglect and lack of personal well-being. There's got to be a healthier balance! If you've figured it out, let me know!

When I return from the conference, it's back to work full time for me. Then in just a couple of weeks - KINDERGARTEN!! I am already holding back tears!

Hope everyone is well. If you have any "slow-down, manage life events without extreme self-sacrificing measures" PLEASE let me know :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Time has a way.....

Time - it's one of those mysteries. Some days drag on forever, some seem to fly by yet it's physically the same amount of minutes. When you're in the middle of a tragedy, time seems to stop and the realization that time will march on and, in fact, heal some of the wounds is untangible. On the other hand, moments of joy flash in a twinkling of an eye!

First off, congratulations to my wonderful husband! He was named the new principal of a local high school last night! What a HUGE accomplishment! Amazingly, when we married, he was a high school band director. He then went through a little "funk" when he didn't really know which direction he wanted to go. I remember 7 years ago this summer trying to faithfully support him as he tried to gain focus on what the Lord would have him do. Here we are this summer celebrating a huge professional accomplishment. As Stewart told me this week, "It's a GOD thing!"
Secondly, my Mom reminded me this week of this time 1 year ago. I'll set the stage - I was 19 weeks pregnant with the surprise the Lord gave us just 4 months after losing Olivia. I was petrified, terrified, but trying with all of my strength to trust that HE had a higher purpose in this. I was scheduled to visit the UAB OB Complications Clinic at 20 weeks for a high level ultrasound to check for any abnormalities. There was really only one factor they knew Olivia suffered from to look for, so they were going to check everything they could. I was clinging to the promise of that visit, hoping it would bring some peace of mind. I had been prayed for, even annointed by the elders of our church, and I was trying my best to cling to the feelings I felt and not let the Devil torment me. Well, I didn't do such a hot job! Stewart developed pneumonia, of all things, the week of the visit. I remember driving to the pharmacy to pick up his prescriptions and begging God to let me feel the baby. I was only 19 weeks, and you can't always feel it then, but the Devil had me convinced that we would get to UAB and there would be no heartbeat - again. I ended up making Stewart take me to the hospital (of course it had to be on the weekend when the doc office was closed!) and the sweet, sweet nurses at Huntsville Women's and Children's kindly hooked me up to a monitor and let me lay there as long as I wanted listening to my sweet baby's heartbeat. The day before our UAB appointment, our doctor sent Stewart to the hospital for breathing treatments. Stewart convinced them not to admit him, but he was unable to go with us to the appointment. I remember drivin down I65 that day with my parents thinking, "This is it - the next chapter." But I also remember feeling somewhere way down deep that it wasn't the end of the journey that mattered so much as how we travelled and were led on the journey. The Lord always leads down the right path even when the journey isn't planned.

Well, we got there and, with Stewart listening to the doctor via cell phone, we went through extensive ultrasounds and got the news that everything was absolutely perfect! I'm not going to kid you - the next 18 weeks were still hard, but after that moment, that plus all the other things the Lord had done for us were enough ammunition to help us fight the down-right mean ways of the Devil!

Here we are today - what a difference time makes!! Thank you are faithful!

(Thanks to Simplicity by Christy for the proofs :))

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy 4th!

We had a great 4th of July! We spent the day cooking out at my Mom's with lots of cousins to play with. Abby made a special 4th of July cake for the occasion which she was VERY proud of! Notice I am one of those neurotic moms who dresses her kids to match - LOVE IT! I don't have two divas for nothing! We went to church that night and tried to make it over the mountain for the Stars fireworks. Abby has been terrified of fireworks her whole life and this was the first year she was going to be "brave". We topped the mountain just as the last one went off. She was SO disappointed! Stewart was a good daddy and stopped at a local stand and bought a few for us to do in the driveway at home. Fun times!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Out of Gear

We are officially out of gear! This happens to us during the summer. With both of us being "off" it makes for an interesting lack of routine. Mind you, I have worked more days than not since school was out, and Stewart is writing half time shows for 3 high school bands this summer. Add that to lots of projects (welcome and not) and trying to make fun days for the girls, and I would hardly call the last few weeks relaxing! We all tend to start staying up late and, in years past, would sleep late to make up for it. Ellie Kate hasn't caught on to this yet, so we all stay up late and she still gets us at 6:30 every day!

That being said, it's been a fun few weeks. Father's Day was special for all my special men in the family. I know it was a tough day for Stewart since losing his dad, but it was a great day for daddy and his girls! I have such an awesome Daddy and wouldn't trade our father/daughter relationship for anything in the world! He is one of the single reasons I am the way I am and think the way I think. My relationship with God is stronger because of the morals and beliefs he and my mother taught me growing up, and and their example is one I could only dare to achieve! I am so glad to see Stewart building that same bond with our girls. There are just some things that only a Daddy can do! I'm also so glad to see the relationship that has grown between my dad and Stewart. What more could I ask than the two most important men in my life share things and have a close relationship? Mind you, if you ask them in person they will both come up with some smart alec quip about the other one, but I know the truth! (wink, wink!)
We've had several play dates at a friend's pool and gone to Spring Valley Beach. Both girls have had photo sessions which I hope to be sharing proofs very soon! We aren't going on an "official" vacation this year, so we've had several in-town, one-day mini vacations!

It seems like I have more to say, but somehow I can't get my heart and mind in the same direction lately. I've noticed since we lost Olivia that this happens. It's like I'm teetering somewhere in the depths of my mind. I can't focus on daily activities. It's like there's something else going on that I really want to concentrate on but can't. Sometimes, the Lord has provided me with some insight through these times and sometimes He has simply allowed me the "permission" to be human and not have it together all the time! There are a lot of things I am praying for in our family right now and so many things I desire for the Lord to work through us/with us/for us. Perhaps I will find the words soon to express. Right now, I am trying to concentrate my thoughts on enjoying our family, and knowing that all of these other things will be handled by the one who can take care of it all! Stewart keeps saying he is going to update the blog - here's your chance!!

Here are a couple of fun shots from the last few weeks......