May 30, 2012

Beach Prep: Sun Protection

The next step in our beach prep training was acclimating Clara to sun protection.  She has never been a big fan of sunglasses, but we have been trying to warm her up to the idea.....

She will now wear them for approximately eight seconds.    And then, there's this:

 So, we thought perhaps we'd try a hat instead (this one just so happened to be another hand-me-down from mama's collection)....

She tolerates the hat a little better, but to be honest, I was getting an awful lot of this:

Dare I try to combine the two??

"AWWW, MOM!!!!" 

"Take them off!!!"

Clara, if you will wear both the glasses and the hat long enough for me to take a picture, you can go to the beach....


And done.

See you soon, Wrightsville.

May 27, 2012

Beach Prep: Sandbox

Our family is headed to the beach pretty soon and as preparation we have been trying to teach Clara about sand.  These photos are old, but I got a little behind on the ole blog, as you know.

For Clara's birthday, Big Daddy cleaned out, repaired and refilled Clara's backyard sandbox with fresh sand and new toys.

We were excited to put her in it and see what she thought!

Clara was not so sure.

Subsequent sandbox training experiences have proved a bit more successful.  Hopefully she'll have a grand time running around on nature's biggest sandbox.  

May 20, 2012

Five Years Ago Today...

Robert finally popped the big question.

Shocker: I said yes.

And proceeded to have this look frozen on my face for quite some time.

'Cause I was pretty excited.

 Best decision I ever made.

May 18, 2012

Doughnuts and Prayers

I don't post all the time about all the other babies born with a diaphragmatic hernia who are fighting for their lives.  I don't even know about most of them, I'm sure.  But thanks to Facebook and the INTERNET and all the networking that happens this day in age, the CDH community is more connected now than it was five or ten years ago.  And we do hear about each other's stories and follow and pray for one another and fall in love with all these babies.  Some weeks it seems we are saying goodbye to too many babies (any is too many, of course) and some weeks it seems like lots of families are all receiving diagnoses at once.  We email with each other, we start following each other on Facebook and before we know it, these people are our friends - even if we've never met.  Because we've all got this big life-changing event in common. So, our lives continued to be changed by a daily realization of how much pain and suffering there is the world, but also how active and present God is in our lives, even when we can't come close to understanding why things don't work out the way we hoped they might.

You've been kind enough to pray for Clara and to pray for some of the other families along the way who have captured my heart and whose stories have compelled me to pray, and made me re-live the hurt and sadness and joy and grace of Clara's story all over again.  It seems like there are always four or five babies at any given time that I'm checking on and praying for, but there are couple right now that just seem extra special, like Jude. There are two mamas who I found right about the same time who got their diagnoses within a couple weeks of each other.  And you know what?  I just really like them.  There's something about reading people's writing and hearing their hearts and listening to them process this horrible thing and praying for them daily that really just makes you feel like you know these people.  The first is the Knoll Family in Atlanta (Baby Parker was born today) and the second is the Helms Family (Baby "Bee" is due in just a few weeks) in Greenville, SC.  For those of you who don't mind reading, following, loving and praying on total strangers in need of prayers, check out those blogs.

Well, the Knolls welcomed Parker into the world this morning via c-section.  He's gorgeous, y'all, and he is fighting hard already.  His mama is recovering at the hospital where she delivered while Parker has already been put on ECMO at the children's hospital he was transferred to.  So, they're apart and worried and I'm sure a million other emotions that I vaguely remember feeling through the percocet.  From what I can tell, Parker is now stable and doing pretty well on ECMO.  As you may remember from Clara, ECMO is scary and none of us ever wanted to hear that it would be necessary, but it's also an awesome, miraculous piece of equipment that can (and does!) save precious little lives.

If you read back a bit in the Knolls' blog you'll see that Parker's mama rewarded him after each of the many prenatal appointments with a doughnut when he got a good report.  It was a precious, hilarious, sacred ritual and I love it.  So, in Abby's latest post she asked folks to offer up prayers today for Parker, of course, but also asked people to eat some doughnuts in his honor since neither she nor he would be able to today.  I can't tell you how touching and beautiful it was today to look at her Facebook wall and see so many people shoving their faces with sugary dough in honor of this little baby and know that it was just a fraction of the many prayers that were lifted up on his behalf.  

Well, I couldn't let Parker down in his time of need.  No way.  So, Clara and I set out to the site of the original Krispy Kreme today for Clara's inaugural doughnut eating experience and to offer up prayers on Parker's behalf.

Clara was not so sure about the paper Krispy Kreme hat....

And at first, she was not so sure about her first doughnut hole either...

However, upon a close oral inspection...

 She deemed it delightful.

And even had a second one (that's 80 calories of pure sugary delight on this scrawny little baby)

"Thanks, Mama.  Let's do this again soon!"

I had to eat one too, of course...  Just doing my part.

So, in case any of you were looking for an excuse to eat a doughnut tomorrow or the next day or the day after, just know that baby Parker would really really appreciate it.  As I wrote his mama tonight... who says that "communion" has to be strange stale crackers bread and grape juice wine?  For us today, it was doughnuts and milk.

Thanks be to God.

May 13, 2012

Happy Indeed

So many people said to me today, “Happy Mother’s Day!” and my response was something along the lines of “It is happy, indeed.”  And it was.  It was so happy.  Joyous.  Perfection.  In case you hadn’t noticed, I absolutely love being a mother.  I love our baby girl, I love this role, I love being home with her and getting to share almost every moment of my day with her, I love watching her grow and develop and learn, I love love love her.  And I’m blessed beyond measure to not only have the opportunity to raise this child of God, but to have had some remarkable models for how to do it.  Myown mother is my personal hero, my dearest friend, and my biggest fan.  The older I get, the more I realize how sacred this relationship is, and how rare it really is to have an adult friendship with my mother that’s so….. good.  She’s the best, y’all.  Everything I am is because of her and I hope and pray every day that I might continue to become more like the woman that she is.  My mother-in-law is pretty grand, too.  I’m pretty pleased with the job she did raising my husband and am grateful that Clara has two grandmothers who differ in a million ways, but are alike in all the ways that matter: valuing family, loving fully, and serving God with a willing heart.   So, it’s true: my cup runneth over.

But this whole thing with Clara has changed me, you know.  And so today, while I felt so immeasurably blessed by my circumstances and affirmed and loved by my amazing family, I also had a heavy heart.  Clara’s sickness, her near death, and the experiences of the past year have shown me that what we’ve got should never be taken for granted.  I now have friends for whom today was very difficult.  I know mothers who have lost their babies and whose arms were empty today.  My heart was so broken for them today.  I know they aren’t the only ones who hurt though.  There are women who have lost their mothers too soon and with that have lost a connection to their own pasts.  There are orphans who have no mother today.  There are women who want more than anything to become a mother, a longing that I know well, but who are struggling with infertility or the complex adoption system and again, have empty arms.  There are women who are estranged from their children or their mothers and who have strained, saddened, hurting relationships in need of healing.  The bottom line is, there is a lot of brokenness in this world and a lot of it I simply do not understand.  I know very well it could have been me and I’m sure I’ll never fully understand why it wasn’t.  I am saddened by the grief that I know was made raw today for many others, and yet somehow, because I’ve had just the teeniest glimpse of that, a small small taste, the ability to sort of kind of not really but almost imagine it, my day felt so sacred. 

I don’t say all this to be a downer on a day of love and celebration.  It’s just the double edged sword I live with these days.  My blessings feel so abundant, but I want to be so cognizant of it all the time, because I recognize that we are all always just a breath away….. And I guess I wanted to say to any and all of you who may fall into one of those categories that made today difficult, that I’m not naïve enough to think that all of life is as good as it feels to me right now.  I wanted you to know that while I was treasuring time with my daughter and my mother today, that I was also hurting for you, thinking of you, and praying for you.   I held Clara a little extra tight today.  I gazed into her twinkling eyes just a little bit deeper today.  I thanked God that although this world is not perfect, we are given glimpses of His love on earth and a taste of how joyous heaven will someday be.   And for those of you who felt deep sadness, and emptiness and loneliness and hurt today, I remember you.  And I pray that somehow God will fill the voids and sustain you.  I know that as a mother, there is an overwhelming desire to comfort, to heal, to provide and to shelter my child.  The image of “Mother God” is not typically one that I am drawn to, but I do believe that in moments like this, God wants all of that for you too.  Peace be with you.

Thanks be to God. 

* You may recognize this dress from Clara's birth announcements.  It was mine, hand smocked by my great Aunt Shirley and worn in her daughter's wedding in the summer of 1983.  Such a special piece for a special day.

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So fun to watch Clara run all over the sanctuary, with a sense of joy and belonging
Sweet Mama and Clara snuggled up on the screened porch reading while it thunderstormed outside.  Life is sweet.
Extra tight snuggles tonight
"Can you believe it?  She's upstairs, asleep, in our house.  She's here.  She's ours.  She's alive."

May 12, 2012

Parties, Playdates and Parks: Life After Hibernation

It's been a busy, busy past two months.  I'm sure you've noticed that the blog has taken a back burner and posts have dwindled a bit.  The good news is, it's taken a back burner to a wonderful, beautiful thing: living life.  Since Clara turned one and we've been "emancipated" and freed from our cold/flu season hibernation we have really been living it up.  It's been a truly stunning spring and we've been fortunate to spend lots of it outside and at parks, taking walks and being with friends in the sunshine.  We feel so blessed to have a wonderful community of friends who were patient enough with us through the winter and with whom we now can celebrate being together again!

Hank is about six weeks younger than Clara and ever since we found out he was gonna be a boy, we've laughed about prom dates and arranged marriages.  But we still expect proper courtship, Hank.  Starting with some good playground etiquette....

Watch that hand, buddy. ;-)

Our dear sweet friend Stacy had us all over to her house for a fabulous dinner party a few weeks back.  It was one of those moments when I thought to myself, "This really feels like we've somehow come out the other side of disaster.  There was a time when I thought that this would simply never happen."  It really is the simple pleasures....

How sweet was she to get these two kid sized chairs just for Clara and  Chloe Robert?

Somebody call Martha Stewart...

Rich getting a few snuggles with both girls at once....

And here we are with the hostess with the mostest.

Daddies and babies playing a little frisbee....

 And somebody got herself some strawberry shortcake....

Mmmm, mmmm good.

Thank you Stacy, for such a perfect evening of fun and fellowship!!

Lest Hank think that he has no competition, beware.  There are other suitors out there.  Clara enjoyed an afternoon at Tanglewood with her friend David....

And we've had some fun family time at the park, too.

 Nothing beats holding Daddy's hand...

Clara even got to see her friend Rebekah, from Charlotte. (See how these girls have changed in the past 9 months or so, by taking a look back here.)

It's good to have a friend who is older, and wiser, and willing to share a hairbow.....

Rebekah and her awesome mama....

 And our best attempt at a shot of all four of us.... these girls are busy.

Here's one last playdate from this past week.... Clara's sweet friend Annabelle!

So, you see.... we've been having a big 'ole time.  And those are just the times when I brought a camera or remembered to snap a cell phone picture.  In short, life is good.  Very, very good.

And Jesus said, "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (John 10:10, The Message)

Thanks Be To God.

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