“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Pics...a Little Delayed

So here we are nearing a week past Christmas and I am just now posting the pictures! I'm sure Grandpa and Grandma in Florida are looking for them all the time so I had better get off my duff and post them before I get an angry phone call! :)

Christmas Eve

Ayden made quite the haul...as you can tell from the stack of goodies in the background.
The chaos which was our living room....
Look at big girl sitting by herself...obviously more interested in what everyone else was doing, instead of her presents....  
I'm not sure what this look means....
Obviously, Caleb is thrilled. 
And....be still my heart!
Finally. Opening presents from Grandma and Grandpa brings an almost smile. 
Faker. :)
Liddy modeling her little Christmas hat. Looks super excited about it, huh?
Patiently waiting on dinner. Or having a mini-meltdown. Who can tell?  
Dance and Wiggle Puppy. Inspiring babies to sit up.
I guess he's a hit.
Our newest addition, Liddy's baby Mary Jo, who she lovingly mothers by dragging her around by her hair.
New shoes, which are obviously an evil trick by Mom to keep her from taking off her socks. My guess is she's on to me. 

It was a truly wonderful Christmas. One that I know I will remember for a long, long time. Between opening my presents and opening all of Liddy's, I was actually TIRED of opening presents! Who knew that was even possible?
Here's hoping that all of you had Christmases as blessed as ours and wishing you the bounty and joy of a wonderful new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post-Christmas Thoughts.....

For some reason, this Christmas season has seen me spending a whole lot more time thinking of Mary, as well as the baby Jesus, for what just might possibly be the first time in the last 34 years. Don't get me wrong...I have always had respect for her as an intricate part of the Christmas story, yet she always, at least to me, lacked the color, the vibrancy of some of the other characters which led to her seemingly being more of a bit role player rather than a real life woman, a mother.
Probably my new found curiosity about the person behind the story this year has a whole lot to do with the trials I have faced as a mother in the last 12 months.
The Bible really says very little about who Mary was as a woman, which probably has a whole lot to do with society's view of women in general then. Yet I have to believe that there was a whole lot more to her than what met the eye. 
I wonder what she felt, what she thought. Was she scared? Did she feel unworthy, ill prepared, unsure? Did she question God's wisdom in choosing her? 
The thought of raising a child with Down Syndrome was daunting. The unknowns were terrifying and I felt completely unequipped to deal with the changes that would come with the birth of Liddy. Ill prepared for the task before me, unworthy of the gift I was given, full of doubt about my ability to be the kind of mother my daughter would need. Scared to death that I didn't have the inner strength, the determination, the compassion, and the patience to deal with whatever God had in store for our family. How many nights did I lay awake asking God over and over, "Why me? Why us?"
I feel deeply that Mary wasn't any different. I'm sure she shared every doubt, every fear, every worry. After all, raising the son of God, the world's salvation, is a HUGE responsibility......
In the end, she faced the task at hand with amazing grace, peace and infinite love. And she obviously did a fabulous job, despite what must have been a million reservations. 
Which makes me feel more of a connection with her than ever before.
Who am I to question God's plan? Obviously, He is more than capable of seeing into the darkest recesses of my heart and He intimately knows my deepest fears and doubts. 
He knew that when faced with what at the time seemed unthinkable and insurmountable obstacles, this family would rise to the challenge. I would rise to the challenge. He knew that somehow I would make it past all of those worries, all of those doubts, all of those fears and become exactly the woman I needed to be for my daughter. The woman He wanted me to be all along.......

Looking at this face........

how could I have ever doubted His wisdom? :)
Tonight, I am so thankful that Mother Mary stayed the course, despite the overwhelming obstacles placed in her path, and that she had the strength to let her son go so that He could fulfill his destiny and change the world.
And I am thankful that God gave me one of His own angels to change mine.......

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lessons from My Daughter Part II

As of today, we are just twelve short days from Liddy's first birthday. It seems like this first year has gone by in the time that it takes to blink my eyes. Looking back to this time last year and emotional roller coaster we were going through, let alone the one we were still facing, it's a pretty awesome thing to me to be right here, right now, peacefully whiling away our days in a fog of blissful happiness.

 I wish so much that the mama I am now could go back in time somehow and tell the mama I was a year ago that all of those fears were for nothing. I wish I could tell her that everything was going to be all right, that we would make it through the darkest days and see the sun shine again. I wish I could tell her how much of a blessing that precious girl was going to be to every single person whose life she touched, and that DS was the least of our worries.......
I have learned so much along the way, lessons taught by the gentle, sweet presence of my daughter. Taught by her courageousness, her determination, her inner light, and sunshine smile. The bravery and the strength that she has shown by overcoming the obstacles placed in her path are lessons in themselves, and a glorious testimony to the simple fact that she, like all the rest of us, chooses every single day to LIVE LIFE for all that it is worth.

 So what exactly has this beautiful baby girl taught me over the last year? What lessons has God used her to enforce? What changes has she made to me?

Lessons From My Daughter Part II
1. Sometimes overcoming your worst fears leads to receiving your greatest blessings.
2. The road is rarely flat. It is filled with twists and turns and pitfalls. But conquering each and every one brings you closer to your final destination.
3. A heart is never too full to love just a little bit more.
4. Time stops for no man (or woman) but being able to be thankful for each second is a precious gift.
5. I am stronger than I ever believed, wiser than I ever hoped, and more in love with my family than I could have ever imagined.
6. Sometimes your blessings come through rain drops.......sometimes your healing comes through tears. (Thank you Laura Story).
7. My daughter is a tiny ball of huge potential.....capable of accomplishing anything she sets her mind to, fully expected to change the world with a flash of her dimpled smile.
8. When you pray with all of your heart for someone, you can't help but love them. (Thank you, Annie Reid).
9. Faith relies on trust. Believing in things unproven, unseen, and unknown. Trusting that the plans He has in mind for us don't depend on our perfection or on whether we deserve them.
10. His plans are greater than any dreams we can conceive of for ourselves.
11. Each of us is created perfectly. What we do with the beginnings God gives us depends on how we react to the curve balls life throws at us.
12. I will fall short a thousand times of God's expectations. I will be forgiven every time through His grace and mercy.
13. Sometimes we are given struggles simply to mold and change us. Sometimes we are given trouble so that we can better understand someone else's.
14. Beauty inside creates beauty outside.
15. I'll take the roller coaster any day over the boring old merry go round. :)
16. A baby can change everything. Just ask Mary.
17. There are times when I still wake up, almost a year later, and find myself rushing to my daughter's bed, thinking that maybe she was just a beautiful dream.
18. Despite it all, I wouldn't change one day of her life. I wouldn't change one thing about her. I wouldn't make different decisions.
19. Every time I look at her scars, I am overwhelmed, almost to the point of tears, with gratefulness. Those scars are beautiful. They are a constant reminder of how far we have come, and how thankful I am that she is still here.
20. Liddy has touched people's lives.....but more than that, we (the rest of her family) have too, simply because of how much we love her.
21. A million thank you's will never be sufficient to express how blessed I truly am.

 22. There are some questions which I will never know the answer to until the day that I stand in front of my God. I hope that I am living every day in preparation for that moment when He will hopefully say, "Well done, my child, well done."
23. Some of life's greatest gifts can't be wrapped with paper and bows.
24. Expect the unexpected. Embrace the unusual. Look for the tiny miracles that surround us every day.
25. Love without limits. Face hatred and ignorance with unbridled love and infinite understanding. Love can melt the hardest of hearts.
26. Greet each day with a smile.
27. Always take time for cuddles. And thoroughly enjoy slobbery kisses.
28. Never take one day for granted.
29. Never miss a chance to tell those who are important to you how much you appreciate and love them. You can never say I love you too often and you can never show it enough.
30. There is beauty to be found in even the fiercest storm. There is grace and mercy to be found in the darkest hours. There are oases of joy, peace and love to be found in even the driest deserts of our souls.

Tonight, as I sit here in the peacefulness of a silent house, I am more grateful than I have ever been for the road that has led me here....to this place...this moment...with these people I love sleeping soundly just a footstep or two away. I continually say it, but it is the ever present mantra of my heart.
I am so thankful for all of the unanswered prayers which brought me the beautiful baby cuddled up with her daddy tonight.

I would have never dreamed that Down Syndrome would be a part of my life...but I am beyond grateful that it is.
This life, with every mountain and valley, is so much more than I could have ever hoped for......

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from My Family to Yours

Dear friends,
Another year is quickly drawing to a close. And as I sit here this evening, enjoying the last bits of quiet before the madness of the holidays which starts tomorrow, I am in many ways torn between excitement to see what the coming year holds for our family and sadness to see this year of so many firsts end.
The beginning of 2012 will bring with it my Liddy's first birthday...and although it is nowhere near the end of the journey, it brings closure to what I have to believe have been some of the hardest parts. I find that while last Christmas I was fearing the start of this roller coaster, closing my eyes tightly at the top of that first big hill, this year's has me facing those hills with eyes wide open, hands in the air, praising God with every rise and fall.

I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. :)
From my family to yours, may you enjoy the blessings of family and friends this Christmas season. May you bask in the sunshine of wee one's smiles as presents are opened. May you, too, enjoy the roller coaster during the coming year. But most of all may your life be filled with constant laughter........

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Comparison

As Christmas rolls around again this year, I can't help but reflect a little about how much has changed within the last year. How much we have all been through, together, in what seems the blink of an eye.
I remember how, many years ago, it seemed like it took forever to get from one Christmas to the next. How years seemed to take decades to pass. Now it seems that every time I turn around, another birthday or Christmas is rolling past, and I can't help but wonder how I seem to endlessly lose so much time so quickly. Most likely, I only have a few more Christmases of Caleb wakening under my roof before he has flown my nest to create one of his own. *sob*
Slow down, time. I'm not quite ready for that one.

Last Christmas.....
We had faced the inconceivable, and were trying to put our fears behind us. We were enjoying the last days we were going to spend with our boys for an as yet undetermined amount of time. I was having contractions during Christmas dinner, and again on New Year's Eve, but not getting anywhere closer to having a baby. We were impatient to look upon the sweet face we had been seeing on ultrasound pictures for several months, ready to kiss the sweet chubby cheeks and gaze our fill at the amazing little being we created. We were excited, we were ecstatic, we were head over heels in love with our daughter, we were as ready as we were ever going to be, and if I'm honest, we were scared to death.
We spent New Year's Eve in the maternity ward, strapped to monitors, contractions coming minutes apart. I had prayed for an end to my pregnancy (I was frankly completely OVER being pregnant, as always seems to happen at the end!) and all along, I had truly believed that Miss Lydia was going to bring herself into the world eight days early, in opposition to her siblings who both came 8 days late. 8 days before my due date would have been New Years Day and I had thought my entire pregnancy that she would be born then.
Yet, while laying in that bed, listening to her tiny heart beat, I suddenly was faced with the overwhelming urge to just stop time....to just let my girl stay there snuggled inside me, safe and sound, where we didn't have to worry about heart defects, and Down Syndrome, and a million other unknowns, where she was just my perfect baby. My tiny miracle.
Obviously life doesn't work that way...and so (eventually, after being almost forcibly evicted) she was born.

The difference between that Christmas' worries, and the difficult road we faced ahead, to this Christmas' unbridled joy is unbelievable to me. No waddling around with a belly out to here...now I'm waddling around with a baby on my hip. No more worry, no more fear. This year we are simply embracing being a family, a puzzle finally near completion (it's still missing one important piece...).
I'm watching my babies grow up, one gaining ground on her fledgling independence, the other spreading his wings in faltering flights. The worst that we could imagine a year ago has been conquered and we have moved on. And that sweet baby whose cheeks I couldn't wait to kiss is now here kissing mine.
I could not ever conceive of asking for more. This moment right now is perfect. Beautiful.

This year has seen our family face the worst and find that it was truly better than we could have dreamed.
It has been gut wrenching, heart breaking, terrifying, and tear filled at times. It has pushed me to the brink, gave me a thousand moments where I have thrown my hands up and told God, "No more. I can't take one more thing." It has seen me hit my knees more times than I can count. I have never felt so weak, so helpless. Yet this year has also taught me how strong I am, how faithful my God is, and has given me a new perspective on little things I so often took for granted before being given the gift of my daughter. Yes, it was full of all of those negative things, but it was also overflowing with joy, love and a thousand tiny blessings, including one tiny little girl who I just know is going to take this world by storm........

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Entertaining Angels Unaware....

I have written more than once about the amazing nurses in the Special Care Nursery @ IU that took care of my sweet angel after she was born. Women that I am not sure I could have made it through those first stumbling steps into a brand new world without. I have always known, and fully appreciated, the impact these ladies have had on my life and how grateful I was to call them friends. It never really crossed my mind that maybe all of us, not just Liddy, had an impact on theirs........

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find a message on my voicemail from the social worker at IU's SCN. She introduced herself briefly and requested that I call her back at my earliest convenience about being sponsored by the SCN staff for Christmas. My first instinct was instantly to refuse. Our Christmas presents for the kids were already bought and paid for (early this year!) wrapped up under the tree. While it wasn't going to be an extravagant Christmas by any means, it was all set to be a good one, and I felt as if there MUST be someone who needed it more than we did......
Christmases are never extravagant here. Last year's expenditures were especially tight, knowing that we were facing the possibility of several weeks in the hospital with the coming new year. I was already excited for Christmas this year, and I made the phone call to Tracy (the social worker) set to thank her profusely for thinking of us and politely refuse.
Practically the first words that left my mouth when we finally spoke were "Isn't there someone else who needs it more than we do?" and I listened with surprise when she replied that this year they had more donors than recipients and that the SCN staff chose us. I think she might have even told me that she expected me to refuse and that was why they wanted to do it for us. *sigh* O.k. All of my carefully thought out arguments flew straight out the window. We went through the details of our family, ages, sizes, likes and agreed that we would talk the following week about Liddy and I coming down to pick up our goodies.
Friday morning, we packed up and headed to Indy. I was looking forward to seeing a few beloved faces and visiting a new friend whose child is inpatient at Riley next door while we were there. I was expecting a couple of presents for each of us, and took the Saturn instead of the van to save money on gas (plus the darn doors were frozen shut!).
Ummmm. When they opened the door to the office where our presents were stashed, my jaw just about hit the floor. Not what I was expecting at all! Two people had to bring two wagons full to my car and when it was all packed up, there was literally not a single inch of available space that wasn't piled with presents (kinda left me wishing I had taken the van anyway!).

The backseat

The front passenger seat
 When I got home, we unloaded everything and John was every bit as shocked as I was. I was conflicted. It is amazing to look at all those presents under our tree and KNOW how excited our boys are going to be Christmas morning, yet I still felt as if it were just too much. They were already going to have a good Christmas. Now it is going to be an AWESOME one.....quite possibly the best one either of them have had their entire lives.

 Later in the afternoon, I heard from one of the dear friends I made there in the SCN. She said that she heard I got a wonderful surprise and when I expressed my gratitude to her, she replied that we deserved it. As I told her that they had just given my kids the very best Christmas of their lives, she replied that that was their point. Wow. *tears*
How can it be that these women knew without it ever being spoken that we could never in our wildest dreams give our kids, or ourselves, a Christmas like this one? How is it that our little family has made such an impression on them that a year later, our names are still the first they think of to bless? And how in the world do I ever thank them enough for the smiles we get to see when the wrapping paper starts flying next week?

Christmas isn't all about the presents. It isn't really about them at all. And even if the kids only see what they get right now, I know in my heart how much love went into each present under our tree. And I will never forget it............
You ladies are, each and every one, dear to me. I can not thank you enough for every single thing you have done for us throughout the last year. Little did I know when I met you last January that I was entertaining angels, completely unawares.


This week has been one of those weeks that God has shown me again and again how mightily blessed I am, and I think in some ways, He has been using others to give me a small pat on the back for the changes that I have made in my life over the last year, the sacrifices I have willingly made, and the faith that I have put in Him. And I just gotta tell you, I am truly humbled by His bounty. I still feel at moments that I am undeserving and unworthy but He continues to show me that He is proud and that my growth has not gone unnoticed, by Him or by others.
This is the first installment of my Christmas blessings.......

School is finished for the semester. *huge sigh of relief* I had a serious case of the nerves when I first went back to school 2 years ago. I was scared that I wasn't capable of balancing a husband, a new stepson, an 11 year old, and the demands that would come with school. I worried that it would be too hard, that something would slip between the cracks, that I would fail. 13 years out of school seemed an impossibly looonnggg time to jump back on that boat again. Finishing that first semester (with straight A's I might add) gave me just the confidence I needed to realize that my dreams were there within my grasp if I only I reached for them. I had already finished 2 semesters toward the pre-reqs required for nursing school when I found out that I was pregnant. Things still seemed to be perfectly on track. I was in the process of finishing my last 4, planning on taking the spring semester off to care for my brand new baby girl and starting nursing school this fall, when the rug got swept out from under me. Barely a month into the new semester, things started going terribly wrong with my pregnancy. Almost 30 days exactly from the day that semester started was the day that we found out about Liddy's heart defect. Then Down Syndrome. With all of the distractions, the worries, the days that I just couldn't get out of bed, I was failing. I was completely stressed and when contractions started early in November, my doctor advised cutting back. After swallowing my disappointment at the disturbance of what I saw as a firm timeline of my own expectations, I ended up dropping 2 of the 4 classes because ultimately, Lydia was more important than my dreams.
The funny thing about dreams is that sometimes they change, and sometimes they wait patiently in the wings until it is time to chase them again.
8 months out of school, dealing with some pretty heavy stuff....juggling new responsibilities, doctors appointments, therapy sessions, heart surgeries. I returned to school in August a different person than I was when I left it in December. My dream awaited. And my resolve is renewed. This is my calling....and being Lydia's mommy, seeing the way God took what I thought were broken dreams and made them so much better than what I had ever imagined before I heard the words heart defect or Down Syndrome, was preparation, motivation for the road that still lies ahead. Yet, as terrifying as it was going back to school the first time, it was every bit as daunting a task going back after 8 months, with a 7 month old baby to go along with the rest of my responsibilities.
Needless to say, I did it. And while I may not have had a spotless house, or enough sleep, or straight A's, I find that none of those things matter much in the grand scheme of things anyway. :)

I restart classes the 9th of January. My pre-reqs are finished and come spring, I will gain my first college degree. Just saying that almost brings me to tears. I, the high school drop out, will finally get to make that walk across a stage in a cap and gown, and someone will hand me a diploma. The fruition of a whole lot of dreams, both my own and my family's. And you know, I'm positive that I appreciate that a whole lot more now that I had to work so hard for it.
Nothing is truly worth having unless it's hard won.
That's just another thing my daughter has taught me........

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Deanna's Christmas Cookie Link Up

Ok so...sort of a new thing today...A blogger friend of mine is having a what in our little neck of the woods is called a "link up". That means that a whole bunch of us join our blogs together for whatever reason..... This one is all about something near and dear to my heart, mainly sweets! :)
We are all chipping in our favorite sweet stuff recipes today. Mine is to follow....but if you want to check out more yummy treats, check out Deanna's page and go pick up some other recipes for delicious holidays treats (and you can drool over the pictures there too!). You can find all of this tasty goodness by going here. Tell Deanna that I sent you!

Did some one say holiday treats? 

It might surprise some people around here that I have morphed into quite the dessert chef (if chefs cooked lots of things that come from a box).

You can cook? I'm shocked......
 Despite the usual fare of quick and easy meals that usually occur in my household, every once in a while, I feel the need to roll up my sleeves and cook something special completely from scratch. Ambitious, yes? With other types of recipes, success is usually hit or miss. But lo and behold, I rock at making deserts from scratch!

So without further ado, an easy, very yummy (but deliciously bad for you!) version of homemade turtle brownies.....

I hope you're planning to make some and share Mom. 
1/2 c. butter (or one stick for us margarine using girls)
1/2 c. shortening (yep, Crisco)
3 squares unsweetened Baker's chocolate
1 and 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. of baking POWDER
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
36 unwrapped caramels
2 tbsp milk or heavy cream
whole pecans

Turn your oven on to preheat, setting it at 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan, on low heat, melt together chocolate squares, shortening and butter, stirring ALOT so that the mixture doesn't scald.
Once it is all melted together, remove from heat and set aside to cool...meanwhile, mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
In yet another bowl (yes, we are dirtying every dish in your house. But these are so yummy, you won't care!), beat the eggs. Beating constantly, slowly add the well abused eggs into the chocolate mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Add in the vanilla and sugar. Mix well. Then its on to the flour mixture. Slowly add the contents of the chocolate pan to the flour, mixing well until all the ingredients are smoothly combined (or as smooth as you can get!) and pour it into an ungreased 9 by 13 inch pan.
Put the 36 caramels into a microwave safe bowl. Pour in the milk and heat uncovered on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes a smooth combination.
Drizzle over the brownies. Sprinkle with pecans.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure when it gets close to time, you start checking them often to avoid over baking.....ENJOY!!!!!!

Give me the brownies and no one gets hurt.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Are Family

How do I explain what it is like to have a child with Down Syndrome? How do I completely make someone who doesn't have a child as amazing, as beautiful, as mine understand the changes that having Liddy have made on my heart, on my entire life?
How do I make someone see that breathtaking beauty that is this community?
A very dear friend of mine wrote a blog post today that made me stop and think deeply about just what it is about being given a precious 47 chromosome wonder does to a mama's heart that gives her the strength, the passion, the compassion, to worry and to cry and to rejoice over children that she will probably never meet, never know personally, whose only link to her and her child is that tiny extra chromosome. 
For me, this is one of the greatest wonders of my daughter and her presence in my life. I never gave abortion a second thought. I never realized that there are children in the world who are so neglected, so abused, all because their societies consider them unworthy of life. I lived within my safe little bubble and almost purposefully closed my eyes to the horrors which exist outside of it.
No more. 
My eyes have been opened. My heart has been changed.
You see, having a child with sparkly, almond eyes and crooked pinkies gave me the perspective to see my baby's beautiful face in the faces of every child with similar features. Yes, she looks more like us, her family, yet there is no denying the similarities between her and so many other children who share her chromosomal makeup. And I find that simply by that fact alone, I can not turn away from others like her in need, because to me, it's tantamount to turning my back on her, which is something I can not conceive of doing.
I am drawn to other children with eyes like hers, faces like hers. I have cried great sobbing cries and pled passionately to God on behalf of angels gone too soon from this world. I have hit my knees more times than it is possible to count during the last 11 months, and more often than not, those prayers are lifted, not for us or for my daughter, but for others...the lost, the broken, the forgotten. 
There are those who believe that we, the mothers from across the world who constantly push, who constantly thrust our children out for the world to see, who raise Hell about high abortion rates and lost children, are at times taking it all a little too far. And all I have to say to those who doubt, who turn away from our passion, our overabundant love for children not our own, is no. We aren't taking it too far at all. If anything, we're not taking it far enough.
I wrote a post a while back about the conditions in mental institutions in Serbia, and the likeness to the mental institutions that children like mine were condemned to not so long ago, right here in the good old US of A. Shortly after, I was friended by a mother on Facebook, who has an amazing 50 year old son who shares the diagnosis of Down Syndrome with my daughter (btw keep an eye out for a special guest post from this mama after the holidays!). I am honored to be this woman's friend. And I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life to have been able to thank her personally for everything she has done to open doors, not just for her own son, but for my daughter and thousands like her. In her own words, when knocking on doors didn't work, they simply kicked them down. I praise God every single day, as I play with Lydia, that mothers (and fathers too) like her exist. Parents who were completely unwilling to turn their backs on their children, who fought tooth and nail for their right to be included in society, to have a very real chance to become all they are capable of becoming and to show the world what they are capable of. Without those parents, the horrible life our kids faced is indescribable, unfathomable.
THIS is why we advocate. THIS is why we pepper our blogs, our Facebook pages, and anywhere else we have a voice with pictures, with words, with our beliefs. We CAN make a difference, even if it is in a small way........
One life saved is well worth the effort.
And all it takes to see the results of all of those prayers is a glimpse of these pictures, which provide the most visible, in your face proof that miracles happen for a lost child, finally coming home and basking in the sunshine of simply being loved, being wanted. 
I have watched Katie's story unfold throughout the last several months. I was shocked, sickened, and heart broken over the pictures of her mama meeting her for the first time. She was shockingly small for a 9 and 1/2 year old (weighing over 5 lbs less than my one year old and being just slightly longer than she is now) and her refusal to smile, to laugh, to look her mama in the eyes ripped my heart into tiny shreds. Less than a month in her new country, surrounded by people who love her without reservation, and that tiny fragile bird is blossoming. This is a testament to what love is capable of doing. 
And THIS is why we love every child who rocks an extra chromosome, why we fight so hard to try to save them all. 
Some of you may never understand. I get that. Had it not been for one small angel named Lydia Anne, I probably would have never completely understood either. 
We are family, despite the lack of blood relation. We all hurt when the least of us is in pain........
Please consider giving a little to Reece's Rainbow this holiday season. Not because I'm asking, but because you have listened to the whispers of your heart and know that you have it within your power to change the world, one child at a time. Do it in honor of one precious Bug, who is already changing the world one gorgeous smile at a time.......

Thankful beyond words for the children who now know what Christmas means....and praying without ceasing for those who still wonder, "Where are you, Christmas?".........

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Prettiest Girl in the World

I don't have any great words of wisdom today. This has been a week chock full of endless prayers, and trying to support a family member who is coming to terms with mistakes he has made, as well as provide whatever guidance I can for whatever his future holds. This amid a different type of letting go myself, coming to terms with something that hurts my heart involving another family member and finishing classes for the semester. Frankly, I'm worn out, and a little bit emotionally drained. But that's ok. This week is over, and I expect nothing less than great things in the coming week.
I'm greatly looking forward to being done with classes for a well deserved three week break, as well as FINALLY putting all those prerequisite classes for nursing school in the bag. And you can't beat not having to face any more math classes in my book! 
Caleb had his Christmas concert on Thursday this week. I can't say how much I enjoy watching him play..... 
I decided to dress Liddy festively (although it didn't last long! haha)....I thought that I would share some of the pics I took.

No I didn't take this one. Obviously it's not Liddy (notice the lack of hair haha!). But this is background for the ones I am going to post....34 years ago, my great-grandma (or Nana as she will forever be known) made this little red velvet dress for my very first Christmas. I was approximately 3 months old in this picture.

Fast forward 34 years. This is my 11 month old wee Bug wearing that exact little dress. It has come full circle...and is now being worn by the baby who shares Nana's middle name. :)

A little blurry, yes. But that smile. Oh. How I love that smile.

Her daddy is probably appalled by her lack of ladylike grace ;)

Pretty precious huh? Merry Christmas, Nana. I hope that you are tickled pink to see my pretty girl wearing something made so lovingly by your hands.

And since I also took a couple other pretty adorable pics this week, you all get to see those too! :)

Hugs for Elmo....

Look who's sitting up on her own!!!
 And last, but certainly not least,
The most beautiful smile in the world!
Don't worry. Week after next I will probably be back to my usual wisdom filled self. HA! Have a great week everyone......

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy 11 Months, Sweet Baby Girl!

My dearest Liddy,
Today you are officially 11 months old! 
We have held you in our arms for almost a year now. It is mind boggling. In so many ways, it seems like yesterday that we were (impatiently) waiting for you to arrive in this world, to take your first breath, to show all the doubters exactly what you were capable of. My greatest wish for you then was that you would be strong, that you would prove how tough I already knew you were, that you would be as healthy as possible.

I expected all of those things. But what I didn't expect was that not only would you be tough as nails, you would be as soft and cuddly as a fluffy teddy bear. I didn't expect a smile that would light up the most beautiful face I have ever laid eyes on. I didn't expect your constant laughter. I didn't expect sassiness tempered with pure sugary sweetness. I didn't expect that you would capture the hearts of so many strangers, all with a simple flash of your dimply smile.

I knew you would be beautiful.....but it seems that I underestimated that as well. You are gorgeous...both inside and out.
I knew I would love you. But I never expected to love you so deeply..so fiercely. 
I knew your arrival would change life for all of us. I just never expected it to change us all so much for the better.

The last 11 months have been quite the roller coaster....with plenty of soaring highs and crashing lows. But not only have you shown us what an amazing little girl you are, you have shown all of us what amazing people WE can be as well.  And I find that despite my sometimes wishing that we had never had the need to go through some of the things that we have in the last year, when push comes to shove, I wouldn't have missed (or changed) a second of any of it. 
Your three week NICU stay brought us amazing new friends. Nurses whose job it was to care for your physical needs, but who also cared for all of our emotional needs. Women who love you like you are their own, and who still email, call, and keep up....because they just love you so much.

Your 16 day stay at Riley following your heart surgery gave me faith stronger than I have ever had. It gave me belief in my own strength, which although pushed to its fragile limits more than once, blossomed under pressure. It also made me even more appreciative of what a miracle you truly are and how very blessed we are to have you here, now growing and changing before my very eyes.

Even if it makes me a little sad sometimes, it has been my distinct pleasure to watch those changes happen. To watch your metamorphosis from a tiny newborn into a little girl. It's every bit as awesome a sight as it is to watch a butterfly break free from it's cocoon, spreading it's newly formed graceful wings in flight. 

You are a butterfly, baby girl. My sweet, precious LiddyBug. And I am breathless with the anticipation of what the next 11 months will bring.........

All of my love,