Monday, September 21, 2015

Hearts Hurting

So many people we know or know-of are battling terminal conditions.  A 31 year old mother of one is battling a rare type of untreatable liver cancer.  A 5 year old little boy passed away yesterday from cancer.  A sweet lady in my Bible study who has 2 teenage daughters passed away over the weekend from cancer.  Several O babies passing in the last few weeks.  My heart is so heavy and it hurts for these families.

When I'm so angry at Merritt for being a typical 3 year old, I need to remind myself that she is HERE.  Yes, she is slow to potty train.  Could be her stubborn strong willed self or it could be O related.  who knows.  She tells me her tummy hurts almost every day lately.  I don't know what to do or even say when she's still eating and going to the bathroom as usual.  There's nothing I can do for a tummy ache if she's doesn't have a stomach bug.

I haven't really lost anyone that I've been super close to.  I haven't lost a parent or child (thank you Lord!) - so I can't relate to the pain they must be feeling.  I have journeyed to the dark side for a bit.  Don't care to ever go there again.  But through it I truly understood the Abraham and Isaac story.  Sacrificing your child for God.  I (finally) had reached a point that I was ACCEPTING (wasn't happy about it but definitely accepting) of the fact that Merritt might go HOME sooner rather than later.  That peace people tell you about…. it comes one day.  Knowing you will see them again and knowing they are in a far better place and not in pain anymore.  'Death, where is your sting?'  I finally "got it."  I finally understood what that REALLY meant.  I am glad she's still here with us, and lately I have to hug her a little harder and more often.  I started watching her again after she falls asleep… just thinking how precious she is.

I went to college with this mom.  I'm not friends with her now, but I applaud her for her strength and ability to put this out there.  I can only hope I would have these words when I am in a similar situation.

So after you've dried your tears from reading that… I will rejoice in the happiness surrounding us lately.   Several new babies being born.  Family weddings.  Planning vacations.  Rejoicing in our faith in God and knowing what a mighty Healer He is!  Seeing several people with stage IV cancer now proving to be cancer-free.

and maybe (just maybe) because he's the baby - but this one ALWAYS put a smile on my face and we are celebrating 6 months of having this one leveling out the playing field for us.  I love my sweets!  I love love love 6 months of age!  It is my favorite age so far of parenting!  He ends our baby streak with a high level of cuteness and happiness!

in a milk coma

i will never tire of this face

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

School Showdowns

I am going to try to blog more!  Not sure if it will actually happen or not, seeing as I practically live in my car now that school has started.  For 2 reasons:

1)  I printed my blog "book" for the past 3 years (this is my second book to print) and my family has had such a fun time looking back at all the pictures and reading some posts.  Its like a family scrapbook in digital form!

2)  I get emails from newly-diagnosed O moms.  So I know they find my blog from their research and I want them to know I'm still here for them.  Most of my posts now won't have anything to do with omphaloceles but I do try to update the tab labeled "Merritt's Story" every few months so its current with her age.

Onto my real post for today:

1) Mati Claire is in 3rd grade this year at Northside.  This is her first year to have more than one teacher.  She was hesitant to get a male teacher but after meeting Mr. Day, she is thrilled and loves him!  Mrs. Renacker is also awesome!  So far each year seems to be a "step up" in the amount of work, homework, level of difficulty… i guess as it should be.  Let me have a mommy brag moment.  Mati Claire makes my job as a parent so easy when it comes to school.  I LOVE this about her.  She says I don't verbally acknowledge this as I do the others, so I am going to try harder to let her know how proud she makes me.  She sets her own alarm clock (and actually gets up on her own), she gets dressed by herself, usually fixes her own breakfast, and doesn't give me any trouble when it comes to homework.  She loves to read and she is my overachiever.  She is the BEST big sister.  As much as she didn't want "mommy to be pregnant again"  she absolutely adores Mason now.  She entertains him while I cook dinner and knows how to make him laugh!  Again, she makes my job as a mom easy and I am so grateful for it!

She is still taking ballet but says she wants to quit after this year.  We will see.  She is NOT athletic in any way, but she wants to try horseback riding (thanks to my sister who snuck that idea in) and possibly tennis?  She loves swim lessons but she doesn't want to join the swim team… just loves taking lessons and perfecting the techniques at her own speed.

2) Mattox-man!  He started Kindergarten at Clinton Park!   He is not enjoying having to wake up early and his first words on the second day were "we have to go AGAIN?"  He gets social anxiety and said he got really nervous in the cafeteria.  Hopefully he'll get used to that soon.

3) Merritt.  wow.  how in the world did she start 3 year old Kindergarten at preschool this year?  She will go Mon-Fri for 3 hours each day (play days are optional and I can leave her longer if she wants).  She is what I call my high-maintenance child.  We couldn't leave the house until her bow, her shoes, and her clothes all matched…and she informed me that I forgot to paint her toenails…oh, the tragedy!  she is all drama and all girl.  She got a good friend of mine, Mrs. Jessica, as her teacher so we're all happy about that!

We are working HARD on potty training.  I had signed her up for ballet this year, but I'm not sure how this is going to workout in that regard.  We may be pulling her out of ballet later.

4) Mason.  Mason Paul!  Mason P!!!  sweet sweetness rolled into 15 pounds of baby fat that I could eat with a spoon.  i want to love on him and hold him and tickle him til the sun comes up.  if he isn't asleep, he is smiling usually.  very happy baby who gets plenty of entertainment from the older kids. he rarely fusses.  someone asked me "How do you get one of those?"  my response was "perhaps you have to have 4?"  because he is the first to be this calm, happy, and content ALL the time!  He is sleeping at least 8 hours at night now (usually from 9-5 or 8-4)  but I don't mind when he wakes up because he usually goes right back to sleep.  He is going to grow up thinking his name is Sweetness.  He is the cherry on top… my sugar in my tea…he is my cake that I get to eat too...yeah, you get the idea!  Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about him.  When I have days that I question why on earth we had 4 kids……. I just look at #4 and wonder how on earth we couldn't?!?!

Don't you love the way he sleeps?  #holdemup 

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

she is "FREE"

I'm a little late posting about Merritt's 3rd birthday party.  I know some of you won't/don't care, but I end up printing the blog into a book at the end of each year so this is for my documentation too!

Merritt is/was my NICU baby.  I was fore-warned that I would be expected to sing and talk to her as much as possible before I had her.  With all the emotions and chaos of those first few days I hadn't really had time to think of any songs to sing to her.  The first day we saw her, the nurse told me I could sing to her to let her hear my voice.  Put on the spot like that - my mind went blank.  I couldn't think of ANY songs and the first one that came to mind (that I actually knew the words) was You Are My Sunshine.  I sang that song to her ALL the time (among others) and still do when I rock her to sleep every night.  When she is upset and crying, it usually calms her down.

So she had a "You Are My Sunshine" 3rd birthday party!  Very low-key and held at our lake house.  She LOVES chocolate cake so her wish is my command.  She is getting her "big girl bed" this month so she didn't really get any presents "to open" from us.  I knew the family members would help me out there!  thank you to everyone who drove all that way to help her celebrate!

If you ask her how old she is… she says "I'm free!"  I laugh because I like to think of it as her being free from all the worries we had.  Even her cardiologist only sees her once a year… done with surgeons … done with NICU.  Just free.  :)

dancing with Poppy

"patiently" waiting for her cake!

With a little help from her big siblings.  

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

8 is Great!

Having 2 girls with birthdays 1 day apart is hard!  I think I know how twins must feel now always having to share your birthday with someone else.  Last year I made them do a joint party and Mati Claire and I agreed that we would ATTEMPT to alternate years with separate and joint parties.  So far it is working out well, because this year she turned 8 on the 8th!  I've always been told that its your "golden" birthday when that happens (I was 19 on the 19th, etc).  Hence…Mati Claire's GOLDEN 8th birthday!
I'll let the pictures do the talking, but I will have to upload the "Fotobooth" pics when the photographer emails them to me later!  There are a dozen more pics but these were my favorites.
Can you tell how happy she is?  Your love is my love.  Its hard to see in pic, but I loved the ribbon holding her birthday picture from each year.  And the light up 8 is just too cool (ordered both from Etsy).
Thank you FedEx for making my signs.  They turned out exactly like I wanted.  If I had plenty of time, I would have covered the garage door in pink paper and made it look like Pepto Bismol exploded at my house.  "Your birthday is the greatest day of my life" "She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes"  "Dream big little girl"  "And though she be but little she is fierce"  "Thank Heaven for little girls"   
Robby Followell is a local (but known across the state) wedding photographer that owns a photo booth  "The Fotobooth".  I got to pick which background I wanted and how could I not pick the gold sequin? I didn't know how this would go over with a bunch of 8 year olds… but Holy Moly…. it was a HUGE success and we could not peel the girls out of it.  They were OBSESSED and it was TONS of fun for everyone of ALL ages!  Even Papaw got in on the action that I will share later!
Mattox told Robby that "[he] is not a Fotoboother."  Yet, we could not get him out of it and he took just as many pictures as the girls did!  
Yes, I made this cake.  My second big cake so far.  I heart fondant.  I do not like the taste of it though.  I ordered her cake topper name thing from Etsy.  
The food was mostly done by Chick-Fil-A.  If I had to make a cake, I wasn't about to slave over food too.
Matt ordered me 'these' strawberries for Mothers Day several years ago, and I've been obsessed with them ever since for special occasions.  They ALWAYS show up perfect the day before I need them.  Shari's Berries online is awesome.  And you can get all sorts of colors and types of sweets (but specialize in strawberries)
And somehow I forgot to take a pic of the pink chocolate covered with edible gold glitter OREOS!  They were awesome too! 
Mati Claire loved the live butterfly release we did at Merritt's first birthday party a couple of years ago.  Again, the kids love it and the butterflies usually hang around during the party which is neat.  

I mean Miss Sarah can't get any cuter.  She's so cute even her butterfly loved her!
The July birthday girls/sisters!  

Can't forget the babies!!! First cousins born 3 weeks apart are starting to take note of the other finally.  They stare each other down and Colton tells Mason his plan for future trouble.  Mason normally just shakes his head and agrees.  

Mason is so happy and smiling all the time!
tiny dancer.  music comes on = she's dancing somewhere.

 Pink play-doh with gold glitter and "8" suckers for the party favors!  Easy and cheap to do since I spent all of the budget on the Fotobooth and butterflies!
Mason is a Party pooper! Mrs. tyanne is the new baby whisperer!  He falls asleep every time she picks him up!
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