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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Recovering from Christmas!



I hope your Christmas was as good as ours.

I don't mean the "stuff" that we got. I just mean the sheer joy of being together. It truly seems like Christmas just gets better and better each year. The pictures here are a couple of my favorite: Lily with her daddy and Ann Catherine making a gingerbread house. (On a side note, have you ever tried to put one of those together? It is crazy!! Chris and I were about to pull our hair out! And then about a minute after we finished it, it collapsed. Needless to say, next year we'll make the gingerbread cookies and not the house!)

This was the first year that Ann Catherine got into Christmas. She loved opening presents! As soon as she opened one, she would say, "Mommy, I want a-nudder one." Lily, on the other hand, didn't have a clue what was going on, but had fun anyway.

I was thinking the other day about my favorite part of this Christmas, and I realized that it didn't have anything to do with any gifts. Chris and I really worked this year to teach Ann Catherine what Christmas was really about. We told her that it was the day Jesus was born. She understood that because not only did we talk about it at home, but her daycare teachers reinforced it - not to mention her Wiggles Christmas DVD which has a song about "Mother Mary, Father Joseph" that she absolutely loves!

A couple of days before Christmas, I told her that Christmas was Jesus' birthday and just as we sang "Happy Birthday" to Lily at her party, we could also sing it to Jesus on Christmas. This really resonated with her because she loved singing to Lily the week of her birthday.

On Christmas Eve, we went to church. We got there early to get a good seat and the nursery wasn't open yet, so we took them into the sanctuary to wait. There were unlit candles on our seats for the service. Ann Catherine grabbed one, went to the steps and out of the blue starting singing the "Happy Birthday" song to Jesus. Then when she finished, she said "Happy Birthday, Jesus!"

I looked at Chris with tears in my eyes and smiled. She got it, I thought! I believe with all my heart that you have to start teaching your kids what you believe when they are young. Chris and I are trying to do that. But sometimes you wonder, do they really understand what I'm telling them?

I got my answer on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Counting Our Blessings

We're recovering from a rough week. Our little girl spent time in the hospital.

Lily was admitted to the hospital Wednesday with RSV and spent a few days there. She's home now and everything is fine, but it was a little scary at first. Even though we spent 68 days in NICU with Ann Catherine, I still cried on the way to admit Lily to the hospital. It just broke my heart that my little girl was that sick.

Lily was such a trooper. She had a wear a nasal cannula so she could get oxygen. She fought them when they first put it on, but then she wore it without any complaints. For the most part, she just wanted to be held. I spent the nights with her, and then in the morning Chris would come by so I could go home and shower. She would be cuddled in my arms, and then in true "Daddy's girl" fashion, she would almost jump out of my arms when Chris came into the room. That little girl loves her daddy!

Our stay was short and relatively easy when you consider how bad things could have been. But during our stay, I gained such a new compassion for people with sick children. I mean those children who are really sick with cancer or cystic fibrosis and who go into the hospital for weeks or months at a time. I just don't know how those parents do it. I know how tough this was for me and it only lasted a few days. I know how badly I hurt as a mother because my baby was sick and I couldn't do anything to make it better. I know how torn I felt between taking care of Lily at the hospital and spending time with Ann Catherine at home. I know how tired and weary I was from sleeping on that hard couch and being woken up every hour or so at night by Lily's cries or a nurse's visit. Your lives are absolutely uprooted when your child is in the hospital. It's tough.

On second thought, I do know how those parents of really sick children do it. They rely on God, just as we did when Ann Catherine was so critical in NICU. Because when your world is turned upside down, you really have no other choice.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Taking Care of a Sick Baby

My little Lily is a sick girl.

She started running a fever Wednesday. A visit to the Pediatrician found that she had an ear infection. In the midst of all this, she had her one-year shots - and there are FOUR of them!!

She has been completely miserable. I mean, the kind of miserable where she wants to be held constantly. Tonight at dinner I held her while Chris ate, and then once he finished he took her so I could eat.

The worst part is Lily is at that age where she can't tell you what's wrong. She can't verbalize her feelings, so all she can do is just cry. Ann Catherine is finally at an age where she can say, "Mommy, my tummy hurts" or "Mommy, my ear hurts." But Lily is still at that age, where she can't tell us. And that just makes it so hard.

Ann Catherine has been so good to Lily while she's been sick. The other morning, Lily was sitting in her chair at breakfast and was feeling pretty bad. Ann Catherine left the table and went to her room. She came back with one of her favorite dolls, handed it to Lily and said, "Here you go, Lily. You can have my baby." I almost cried.

Last night was our first full night of sleep since Lily got sick. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we can sleep through the night again tonight!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Life is Crazy!

Sorry I haven't blogged lately, but it's been pretty crazy around here! We just celebrated Chris' birthday. If Ann Catherine sang "Happy Birthday" to him once, she sang it a hundred times. She is just at such a fun age right now. Truly - she is pure entertainment. Chris and I just laugh and laugh at her all the time!

So, what's been happening at the George household lately? Well, Lily started walking this week. Like really walking - taking off and walking across the room. She is a girl on the move now! She took her few steps a couple of weeks ago, but in this past week, she really took off. It is so cute to watch.

We are also bottle-free! If you have kids, you know how huge that is. First of all, pouring milk in a sippy cup is so much easier than making a bottle, warming it, etc. And we have so much free space on our kitchen counter!! They took up so much room when they were drying. Of course, Lily being Lily, she came right off of the bottle - cold turkey! We didn't have to wean her. We just switched to a sippy cup and she caught on. Heck, she's even drinking out of straws already! I mean, Ann Catherine didn't figure out the whole straw thing until a few months ago. Lily, on the other hand, started drinking out of a straw before she turned one. She'll grab Ann Catherine's drink if she's not looking, and will just start slurping it down!

It's that whole second child thing. Lily does everything before Ann Catherine did. It's because she has a big sister to watch and she figures it out. Plus, Chris and I aren't as neurotic as we were with Ann Catherine. You are just so much more laid back with the second baby. Maybe that's why Lily is so laid back.

We shot a promo for Channel 19 today that should start airing Wednesday. It's promoting our Spirit of Hope tree lighting ceremony, Tuesday, December 11 at 6 p.m. at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. For a $20 donation, you can dedicate a light on the Hope for the Future tree to benefit the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. Judy (19's Creative Services Director) wanted Chris, Lily and Ann Catherine to be in it, too. Let's just say, I could never work with child actors. I held Lily and Chris held Ann Catherine and after two takes, she looked at Judy and said, "I'm done." I'm not kidding. So I started doing what any good and decent mother does. I bribed her.

Oh, don't act like you don't do it, too.

All kidding aside, join us for the Spirit of Hope tree lighting Tuesday. For more information, click here or visit the Foundation's website.

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Four-day Weekend!


I just had to post this picture.

I snapped it this weekend at my mother's house. Lily was laying on my mom on the sofa and watching Elmo on a portable DVD player. Could she look any more comfortable?

I think it sums up the way everyone feels after a long holiday weekend. After lots of turkey, lots of shopping and lots of family time, everyone just needs to kick back and rest!

In spite of all of that, I could really get used to having a four-day weekend! This was the first time in my life that I had a four-day weekend at Thanksgiving. In the TV business, November is usually a ratings month, which means you can't take time off. So during the week of Thanksgiving, we could either have Thanksgiving day off or the Friday after, but not both. Before I had kids, I would just work Thanksgiving and take Friday off. But once Ann Catherine got here, I stopped working Thanksgiving and worked the Friday after instead. But this year, I got BOTH days off, because we closed the Foundation office on both days.

It was so wonderful!! My mom and I went shopping Friday (in the afternoon, mind you, NOT at 5am!!) I really got a lot done. Chris and I went to Toys R Us today and for the most part, we bought all of Lily and Ann Catherine's Christmas gifts.

We also put our tree up this weekend. I'll post pictures of that later. I have to say, putting those ornaments on the tree with Ann Catherine was one of the highlights of my life. Every time she picked up a ornament, she would say, "Oooh, look at this!" She had so much fun. This is the first year that she has understood it's Christmas.

Christmas day is going to be a blast!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Birthday Week is Over!



Seriously, how can a one-year-old's birthday last an entire week?!

It all started last Saturday when we had Lily's birthday party. Then a few days later we celebrated her actual birthday. On a side note, I took that day off and it was one of the best days I've ever had. Chris and I took the girls to the mall and had lunch. After that, we walked to the other end to see Santa. Ann Catherine didn't want to sit on his lap, but she did tell him she wanted a Wiggles guitar like Murray. Lily, on the other hand, sat with Santa and got her picture made. We really had a wonderful day!

Friday, we took cupcakes to Lily's school and celebrated her birthday with her class. Just as she did at her birthday party, Lily tore into her cupcake. It was hilarious! The other children still had their cupcake intact, but Lily's was shredded to pieces. I included a couple of pictures above.

Yesterday Ann Catherine asked, "Mommy, is Lily's birthday over?"

"Yes, baby it is," I answered.

Just in time to get ready for Christmas :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Baby Turns One!






This weekend, we had Lily's birthday party. It was a blast!

When Ann Catherine turned one, I bought a small cake for her to tear into. She did, but with a bit of trepidation.

Not Lily Baker.

I placed her cake in front of her, and she dug in! She had icing from the top of her head, to her belly. And she just kept stuffing cake in her mouth! It was hilarious! I truly had never seen anything like it. She threw caution to the wind and ate like it was the last supper.

The best part is that once she was through, Chris grabbed her to take her to the tub - and as they were passing through the door, Lily took her hands and shoved what was left on her fingers into her mouth. It was priceless.

I'm sharing some pictures - and then including other ones so you can see how cute she was once she was cleaned up.

It was such a wonderful day! Lily's birthday just reminded me of how incredibly blessed we are to have her. Lily approaches each day as if it's the best one ever. I always say, it must be great to live in Lily's world. She is so happy and full of life. She has filled a void that Chris and I didn't even know existed. And she did it just by being her.

I can't imagine a world without Lily. Luckily, I don't have to. Thank you God for giving us this precious angel!

Monday, November 5, 2007

I Hate the Time Change

I really do.

I have never liked this part of the year, when it's dark at 4:45 p.m. It just makes the day seem so long. And by the time I pick up the kids and get them home, it's dark.

I'm one of those people who loves the sunshine. I loved it this summer, when I would get home from work and still have 3 1/2 hours of sunshine to enjoy the outdoors with my kids.

Oh, well. What can you do.

In other news, I have been absolutely exhausted. I've been working on a huge project at work that I'll blog about later. In the meantime, I'll be on NewsChannel 19 this week. I'll be on the noon newscast Wednesday with Lisa Washington. Tune it to hear more about this exciting new project!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why?

Ann Catherine is going through a couple of phases that every two-year-old goes through.

One is the habitual use of the word "no."

The second?

"Why?" No, not why are you asking. But the question, "Why?" You know, the one your child asks you incessantly day and night.

In the last few days, she has started asking me "why" 20 times a day. Tonight's conversation while we were getting ready for bed went like this:

"Ann Catherine, be quiet."

"Why?"

"Because Lily's asleep."

"Why?"

"Because it's nighttime."

"Why?"

"Because it's not daytime."

"Why?"

"Because the sun is down."

"Why?"

At this point, I was at a loss. And I pulled out the phrase that my mother always used, and I swore I never would.

"Because I said so."

That didn't really satisfy her, but she dropped it anyway.

This whole "why" thing really makes you feel incredibly dumb as an adult. Inevitably, Ann Catherine will ask me "why" about something and I'll realize, I have no idea what the answer is. I mean, you think you're a reasonably smart adult, and then your two-year-old trips you up.

Why?

Because those two-year-olds are a lot smarter than you think.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Sweet Reunion


Something very special happened this weekend.

Ann Catherine got to see Marcy.

Marcy was one of Ann Catherine's primary nurses in the NICU. We had never met Marcy until June 1st, 2005. After that day, she became a very important person in our lives.

She was the one who went and got my mother to tell her Melissa had passed away.

She was the first person I saw when Chris took me to the NICU on June 2nd to see Ann Catherine. I will never forget it. She was at Ann Catherine's bedside taking care of her. We met and she explained to us what she was doing. Ann Catherine was so critical. She was less than two pounds and was on a ventilator. I was tired, scared and confused.

At that moment, Marcy said something to me and Chris that we never forgot. She said, "Don't you worry until I start to worry." We remembered that during our entire NICU stay. If Marcy wasn't worried, we didn't worry. And Marcy never worried.

Marcy was the one who told me one day, "You're going to give Ann Catherine a bath today." Ann Catherine was only 2 pounds and I was terrified. "No, I'm not," I said. "Yes, you are," she replied. "You are her mother and you are going to give her a bath."

I did, and while it was scary, it was also absolutely amazing.

Once we left NICU, Marcy would babysit Ann Catherine for me. One time last summer, Marcy came to keep Ann Catherine and I complained that every time I laid her down for a nap, she would wake up crying. That afternoon at nap time, Marcy found a little lamb on the floor. She grabbed it, handed it to Ann Catherine, rocked her and put it to bed with her.

To this day, Ann Catherine sleeps with "Lamby." It's her security.

Marcy and her husband live out of state now, but they came to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama/Tennessee game. We caught up so she could see the girls.

On the way to Tuscaloosa, Chris and I told Ann Catherine about Marcy. And it hit us, how strange that Marcy was such an integral part of Ann Catherine's life, but AC doesn't remember her.

Marcy cared for Ann Catherine - loved and rocked her when I wasn't there. They had quite a bond.

She may not remember Marcy now, but we'll make sure that she knows all about her. And about how this wonderful stranger came into our life at the most unexpected time - and became a cherished friend.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An Afternoon at Tate Farms






If you haven't been to Tate Farms, you are missing out!

I'm serious. Even if you don't live in Huntsville, it is worth the drive.

I've heard people talk about it for years, but this was the first time we had ever been. We never really had a reason to go until we had kids. The year Ann Catherine was born, she was so premature that we didn't take her many places until she was about nine-months-old. Last year, I was eight months pregnant and didn't feel like going.

But this year was just perfect! Our girls had the best time, especially Ann Catherine. Lily sat in the Corn Crib and rode on the hayride, but was really too young to know what was going on.

Ann Catherine - on the other hand - was the perfect age. I would have loved to have known what was going through her mind as we went from place to place on the farm. Her little feet never stopped moving!

First, we let her pet the animals - a bunny, goats and pigs! She wasn't the least bit scared. I posted some pictures above of her petting the animals.

Then, we put her and Lily in the Corn Crib. That's exactly what it is - a giant bin filled with corn (amazing what you can come up with on a farm!) They loved that.

Next, we went on a hayride to the pumpkin patch. She was so excited about this, because she has a Barney video where Barney and some kids go to a pumpkin patch. Once we got there, we got off the tractor and picked out some pumpkins - one for our house and one for Mimi and Poppy's house. Then once we got back to the main area, we let her pick out two "baby" pumpkins for her and Lily. Chris is going to carve the big one and we'll put them all on our front porch.

It was truly a perfect day. The weather was perfect, the scene was perfect. There is truly nothing I enjoy more than a fun day with my family. I absolutely treasure these moments with my kids.

To learn more about Tate Farms, click here. And if you have children, GO! You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where's Lily? There She Is!


We have a nightly ritual at our house. After dinner, the four of us go into the playroom and we play (while watching "The Wiggles" - Ann Catherine's latest fad.)

Ann Catherine has a princess tent in the playroom that my parents bought for her. And Lily absolutely loves it. She'll crawl in there as fast as she can. I'll say, "Where's Lily? There she is!" and she laughs so hard she gets the hiccups. It's one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

Now, for one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Lily and Ann Catherine will crawl in there and Ann Catherine will say, "Come on Daddy!" And yes, Chris will crawl into the princess tent. How the three of them fit, I'll never know. The girls cackle and laugh so hard when he comes in there. It's just hilarious.

I'm sure Chris never imagined he would hang out in a pink, princess tent. It's amazing what a daddy will do for his little girls :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!



No, I'm not confused.

Yes, I realize it's not November.

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving.

As most of you know, my husband is Canadian. So, we get to celebrate two Thanksgivings at our house.

Tonight we had a turkey dinner. Chris also cooked corn, green beans, mashed potatoes and bread. And to top it off, the girls at work called and sang him a very shaky rendition of "Oh, Canada!"

Here are some pictures from our Thanksgiving feast. We'll do it again next month!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Jerry Hayes or Jeff Fisher?





I'm writing this to shame Jerry into visiting more.

We were in the den last night and Ann Catherine pointed at the TV and said, "Mommy, there's Jerry."

I looked up and started laughing.

"Ann Catherine, that's not Jerry. It's Jeff Fisher."

Jeff Fisher, as in, coach of the Tennessee Titans. Same moustache as Jerry - and not quite as handsome - but a whole lot richer.

"No, Mama, it's Jerry!" she said, this time pretty convincingly.

What makes this so funny is that just the other day we had the TV on while we were cooking dinner. While Jerry was reading a story, Lily grabbed the remote control...and changed the channel!!

Chris and I told Jerry it was because he didn't visit enough. Sweet little Lily won't even watch him on TV anymore!

Jerry, I hope I have sufficiently shamed you into visiting the girls. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. But we'll put yours in the oven and keep it warm 'til you get here :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You Never Know

When I was pregnant with Lily I kept thinking, "If I can just carry her to term, she'll be fine."

In my mind, I thought the only problems that came with giving birth happened if you delivered prematurely. Of course, that was because of our own experience with Melissa and Ann Catherine.

And we were blessed that I carried Lily for nine months and she was born without any problems. But I now know that delivering a baby on-time doesn't guarantee there won't be problems.

Just recently, we've had a few friends who have delivered their babies on time (or just a week or so early) and the babies were born with medical problems. That's so tough when you go nine months thinking everything is just fine, and then you deliver and learn the baby is sick.

After visiting one of those friends in the hospital the other day, I called another one of our friends. I said, "You know what? If your child is breathing, talking, walking and playing - you are so blessed. All the other stuff just doesn't matter."

It's true. We can't predict the future. And we often can't understand why things happen to us.

I know what it's like to sit by your child's bedside in the hospital and silently pray - no beg - them to fight. I know what it's like to feel all alone, as if God has left you and doesn't care that you are drowning here on Earth.

But I also know how it feels to look back on that experience and realize that God was there all the time, holding your baby in the palm of his hand, even if you didn't feel him.

When your child is sick, all you have is your faith. It's the scariest, most vulnerable feeling in the world.

So if your children are healthy, wrap your arms around them and tell them how much you love them. And then pray for those babies who aren't. And their parents.

They need those prayers more than you know.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beyond Tired





As you can see, we took the kids to Tuscaloosa this weekend. We had a blast! We put on their 'Bama cheerleader uniforms and took them to the Quad Saturday afternoon. But let me tell you - we are paying for it now.

I've heard child experts talk about when kids get "over tired" and how miserable it can be, but I had never experienced it until now.

I'm not a control freak about my kids, but there is one thing that Chris and I are sticklers about - bed time. Ann Catherine goes to bed at 8 p.m. End of story. It's good for her and it's good for us.

I've had family members and friends laugh at us. "You should let her stay up late sometimes," they say.

Now I know why you shouldn't.

In Tuscaloosa this weekend, Ann Catherine didn't get a lot of rest. We didn't take the girls to the game. My best friend lives in T-town and her sitter kept them while we went to the game.

Since it was a night game, I told Heather that Ann Catherine could stay up until we got back. I really didn't think she could go to sleep and I didn't want her to cry and wake up Lily (who did go to bed on time.)

Heather said Ann Catherine almost fell asleep watching Barney, but when she realized she was going to sleep, she popped up.

Of course, once we got back, she wanted to play with my niece and nephew who had also been to the game. Once we finally got her down, it was 3-4 hours past her bedtime.

At this point, she was beyond tired. And that is a pretty miserable feeling for a little one. She cried and cried, but finally fell asleep.

You would think going to bed so late, she would sleep in.

Oh, no.

She was up around 7:45 a.m. (She actually slept about 45 minutes later than usual.)

She was tired all morning. She slept on the way home, but car naps aren't the greatest when your little head keeps bobbing around.

Last night, she was miserable. We put her to bed at the normal time and didn't hear a peep out of her.

Tonight, she was still miserable. We gave her a bath and put her to bed early. And again, not a peep.

Moral of this story - have a strict bedtime, and who cares if people laugh at you. They aren't the ones who have to deal with a cranky two-year-old.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's All Part of Being a Mom

"Chris, I need your help."

It was 1:45 a.m. Saturday. Chris got out of bed, walked into the great room and saw quite a sight.

Ann Catherine was sick. It was all over her. And it was all over her mommy too.

Seriously - all over me.

I was standing there thinking, "What do I do now?" Chris grabbed a towel and wiped the floor. Then we got AC's pjs off and put her in the tub. I too had to jump in the shower. That's how bad it was.

Kids have truly perfected the art of projectile vomiting. It's like a geyser that just starts spewing.

I call it the part of motherhood that no one tells you about.

When you are trying to get pregnant, you dream of holding that sweet, precious baby in your arms. You dream of their sweet-smelling scent. You dream of snuggling up together and taking naps in the afternoon.

But no one tells you about all the times you'll get peed on, pooped on and thrown up on.

If you're a mom, it's part of the job.

Those with weak stomachs need not apply.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Equal Time

When you have two (or more) children, you have to come up with a way to give them "equal time."

At our home, it hasn't really been that important until now.

I have blogged about how Ann Catherine accepted Lily when we brought her home from the hospital. She was only 18-months-old when Lily was born, and of our her doctors told us she wasn't old enough to have the jealousy instinct. So from the day we brought Lily home, Ann Catherine accepted it and was fine with it. We never had any of those, "Mommy, when is she going back?" moments that I hear other mothers talk about.

I often say, I think it's more than that. I truly believe that Ann Catherine needed a sibling so badly. She knew someone was missing and Lily filled that void for her.

Ann Catherine has never cried because I was holding Lily. Never. And I know, from talking to other moms, how lucky I am. Ann Catherine shares with Lily and plays with her. In fact, if Lily takes something that Ann Catherine was playing with it, Ann Catherine doesn't get mad. Instead, she goes and gets Lily another toy and gives it to her. I truly couldn't ask for anything better.

But lately, I've noticed that Ann Catherine seems to need more attention. For instance, if I'm holding Lily, she'll ask Chris to hold her as well (or vice versa if Chris is holding Lily). Today Lily was in the floor crawling to me, and when I started clapping, Ann Catherine started crawling towards me too.

So this weekend, I went out of my way to give her some one on one time. Saturday morning I took her to get her hair cut for the very first time! We had such a great time. On the way there, I told her we were having mommy/daughter time and she answered, "just mommy and Ann Catherine." She was so cute at the hair salon. She sat there and was so still and so good and let Carmen cut her hair. It was so precious! I said, "Ann Catherine, look at you. You have bangs!" And she said, "Just like mommy."

It's such a reminder of how little girls feel about their mommy. They want to be just like us and they can't get enough of us. That's one of the things I love about having girls. I just love the relationship that mothers and daughters have.

And when you have two, it's all about finding balance. For instance, Ann Catherine and I played in the playroom today and did puzzles and read books while Lily slept. Then, while Ann Catherine took her nap, I took Lily shopping with me and we spent our own time together.

I'm trying so hard to give them both "enough of mommy." It's a challenge, but that one on one time is so worth it! And we also mix in plenty of family time. Over the long weekend, we did so many fun things. Last night, we took the kids to Brusters for ice cream. This afternoon, we took them to McDonalds for lunch (a true treat for little ones!) I so enjoyed the time the four of us spent together this weekend!

By the way, I was going to try and post a picture of Ann Catherine with her new haircut, but she's two-years-old and I can't get her to stand still for two seconds for a picture :) I'll keep trying!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beyond My Wildest Dreams

A couple of weeks ago, I told you we had raised $105,000 from Swim for Melissa. But I also told you those were unofficial results, as money was still coming in.

The final total is even better.

After figuring out our expenses and how much we brought in, I can now tell you that Swim for Melissa raised $115,000 for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

Is that incredible or what?!

That's almost triple what we raised last year and will be enough to buy three Giraffe OmniBeds for the Neonatal ICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. Going into the event, I knew the numbers looked good and I hoped we might be able to buy two Giraffe OmniBeds.

I never dreamed we would be able to buy three.

Sweet, beautiful, precious babies - babies who are someone's child, someone's grandchild, someone's brother or sister - will benefit from these beds for years to come. And it's because of total strangers who believe in Melissa's Fund and what we are doing.

The purchase of three new Giraffe OmniBeds will bring the total in the NICU to five. Just think - there are babies laying in those beds at this very moment fighting with every breath and fiber of being in their tiny little bodies to survive. And these beds are giving them a better chance.

I am incredibly humbled and in awe of what we've been able to accomplish in just under two years. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to those who have embraced Melissa's Fund and supported it with your time and efforts and money.

Your donation is saving lives.

Literally.

And as I often say, as the mother of two premature infants, I can tell you there is no greater gift.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Our First Vacation Without the Girls



It was a big deal for me.

You must understand, not only have I never been on vacation without them, I've never even spent the night away from them (except the 2 nights I was away from Ann Catherine when I gave birth to Lily in the hospital.)

I have never wanted to go on a trip and leave my children. Since the girls were born, Chris has been on several business trips and I've often told him, "I don't know how you do it." And while he does miss them, it's not a big deal to leave them.

It's a dad thing. It doesn't mean I love our girls anymore than Chris. It's just that men are wired differently. They love their children, but they don't have an inherent need to be with them.

Moms do. Our kids are literally with us from the moment they are conceived. If you are blessed to carry children, you know that incredible feeling that for nine months that person is always with you. Every minute of every day. So it's only natural that once they are here, we don't like to be without them.

Chris knew we needed a vacation, just the two of us. We hadn't been away together since 2004, just before we got pregnant with Ann Catherine and Melissa. But he also knew that I would have a hard time leaving the kids. Such a hard time, that he waited until the week before we left to even tell me he was taking me on a vacation. And, of course, my first question? "What about the girls?" "Your parents are keeping them," he answered. "They'll be fine."

I must admit, I wasn't really crazy about leaving them. Because Chris had already booked the trip, I couldn't really back out. And I did look forward to going to South Beach in Miami and relaxing, but the mother in me felt like a terrible person for leaving them.

The days leading up to the trip, I tried to soak up every single minute with them - and I bet I told them I loved them a thousand times.

My mom kept saying, "Amy, they'll be fine." I said, "I know. I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to miss them so much."

It was tough saying goodbye to them. But I must admit, the minute our plane touched down in Miami I realized how badly I needed this.

Chris and I didn't have to set our alarm and be up by a certain time. I can't tell you how wonderful that was. Our mornings start at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and we get to "sleep in" until 6 or 6:30 a.m. on the weekends. And at night we didn't have to go through the bedtime ritual of baths, bottles and such.

We did what we wanted, when we wanted. You know, like we did before we had kids.

One of the best parts was seeing one of my best friends, Shannon, and her husband Joe. (That's us in the pictures above. We stopped at an outdoor cafe on South Beach and had coffee after dinner.) Shannon and I lived together in Panama City during our first TV job at WMBB. She's now an anchor in West Palm Beach. Shannon is one of those friends that I can go a year without even speaking to, but when we do finally reconnect, it's like we were never apart. We just pick up right where we left off. Those are the best kinds of friends.

Chris and I also needed some time with each other without the girls. When you have kids, you become so focused on them that sometimes you forget the person who was there all along. It's like our pastor says, your spouse was there before the kids got there and he/she will still be there long after they've flown the coop. So true.

I'm telling you this to give you moms a message. It's OKAY to go away with your husband - without the kids - from time to time. I never thought I could leave my kids, but I did. And I'm glad I did. Mommy needed some rest and rejuvenation. Mommies spend so much time taking care of everyone else - but who takes care of mommy?

Now don't get me wrong. Chris and I found ourselves talking about the girls all the time. We would think of something funny that Ann Catherine does or something sweet that Lily does. And as great as the four days in South Beach were, I was ready to see the kids today.

When the pilot said we were about to land in Huntsville, Chris and I both had a smile on our face a mile wide. We were basically sprinting off the plane to see the girls. Seeing those sweet girls waiting for us at the airport was one of the best moments I've ever had.

I came back from this trip rested and relaxed. Every mom needs a break now and then.

Take it from me. It doesn't make you a bad mom. In fact, it might just make you a better one.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Mommy Moment

Every so often, you have what I call "mommy moments."

They are those moments when you realize how incredibly blessed you are to be a mother.

I had one the other day.

Chris, Ann Catherine, Lily and I were playing in the play room after dinner. The girls were playing with their Fisher Price "Learning Home" (which I highly recommend, by the way, if you have little ones. It is so much fun with so many items to grab their attention.)

The home has a little mailbox with pretend letters. Ann Catherine took one out of the mailbox and brought it to me.

"What does it say?" I asked.

"Dear Mommy," she said.

"What else?" I asked.

She said, "Best Mommy."

I looked at Chris and began to cry. How did I get so lucky to have two little people on this Earth who think I am so special?

Seriously, what did I do in life to deserve such an incredible gift?

I don't know if I deserve it, but I am so grateful for it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lily is Nine Months Old!



Even as I write that, it's hard to believe.

I know I've blogged about this before, but Lily is my baby, and it's hard seeing your baby grow up so fast.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that Lily had started crawling. Now, Lily is pulling up. One of the pictures above shows how she can stand if she's holding on to something. I snapped the other picture of her in her high chair tonight during dinner.

That smile you see on Lily's face - that's exactly who Lily is.

Lily is so happy to be here. She requires so little and loves so much. I just feel so lucky to know her.

And the fact that she's my daughter - well, that's just the icing on the cake.

Nine months have truly just flown by. And Lily is changing so quickly. I think that's what Chris and I notice the most, because at nine months Ann Catherine wasn't doing all of these things. She was playing "catch-up" from being premature (although she's not anymore!)

But Lily is just growing up so fast. I've often heard that the second child usually walks sooner because they're watching their older siblings do it and they learn to also.

I don't doubt it. I'm glad Lily has Ann Catherine to learn from.

I just wish she wouldn't learn so quickly :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We Made Our Goal - AND THEN SOME!!!!!

I still feel like I'm dreaming and someone is going to pinch me and tell me it didn't happen.

Our goal for the 2nd Annual Swim for Melissa was to raise enough to buy a Giraffe OmniBed for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. Those beds are $36,000.

Not only did we raise enough to buy ONE of those beds, we raised enough to buy TWO of them - and may still be able to buy THREE!!

The unofficial total as of Saturday afternoon was more than $105,000!! And we still have money coming in.

Now you realize why I am still walking around in the clouds.

If someone had told me that we would raise more than $100,000 in just our second year, I would have told them they were crazy!

But I believe this shows how people feel about Melissa's Fund. I think we have proven that we are good stewards of their money and that we are truly making a difference in the lives of premature infants and their families.

This money was raised from both Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa. Miracle Bash was just a blast! It was so much fun and attendance was just amazing! And Swim for Melissa was so successful. Watching those little girls and boys swim for the cause was just so touching.

Special thanks to my partner, Jerry Hayes. (He's still my partner - even if we don't anchor together anymore!) Jerry emceed the Miracle Bash and then was at the pool bright and early to emcee Swim for Melissa. Folks, it was so hot Saturday! We were sweating like crazy! And Jerry hung in there and stood in that hot sun from 8:15am-2pm to emcee our event. I don't know what I would do without him!

Thanks again to everyone who made Swim for Melissa such a great success! This success is possible because of the support and donations we have received from the community. I am in awe and completely overwhelmed by what we've been able to accomplish in just two years. When I think of the babies who will benefit, I get a lump in my throat.

I will post pictures soon. And I'll let you know how many Giraffe Beds we are able to buy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Getting the Word Out

If you watched NewsChannel 19 at 10 Monday night, you met a sweet baby girl named Ava.

She was born 15 weeks early, weighing only one pound, 13 ounces. She spent the first couple of weeks of her life in a Giraffe OmniBed, a state-of-the-art bed for critically ill premature infants.

The Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund has bought two of these beds for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. At the 2nd Annual Swim for Melissa this weekend, we hope to raise enough money to buy one (maybe two!) of these beds!

To watch the story, click here and then click on "Swim for Melissa: A Little Miracle Named Ava."

We also got some nice publicity in the Huntsville Times today. Yvonne Betowt did a great story on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and how important these Giraffe OmniBeds are. To read it, click here.

In addition to that, a father named Jerry Lee wrote a letter to the editor today and mentioned the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. His baby was just released from NICU and the purpose of his letter was to inform people that when they give to Melissa's Fund, that money stays local and goes directly into our NICU to help our babies. It was so kind of him to write that letter!

Tomorrow I'll be on TV bright and early. I'll be a guest on NewsChannel 19 this Morning promoting Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa. It's going to be an early morning, but all for a good cause!

Just a reminder, Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa are this weekend, August 10-11. To make a reservation for Miracle Bash or donate to Swim for Melissa, call the Foundation at 265.8077 or go to www.swimformelissa.org and click on Miracle Bash where you can reply online.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hitting Milestones

I'm having a hard time lately. My girls are hitting some important milestones.

Sounds kind of dumb, doesn't it?

Let me explain.

I am thrilled that my daughters are hitting their milestones. Every parent wants their children to develop on time and hit their marks.

Chris and I never got caught up in those things with Ann Catherine. Since she was a preemie, we knew she might be behind on some things and we were fine with that. She didn't walk until she was 16 months old and it really didn't bother me. My thought was, 'she'll walk when she's ready to walk.' And she did.

I mentioned in a previous post that Lily was crawling. That was a biggie at our house. It's a sign that your baby is no longer a baby.

Then today, I went to pick up Ann Catherine at school and was told she was in a different room. You see, her class promoted to the two-year-old room. When I walked in, she was so excited! She really loves her new room. But do you know what hit me like a ton of bricks?

This room has tables with chairs.

Until now, at lunch time Ann Catherine and her classmates sat in chairs that were actually sunken into the table. That way, they couldn't fall out.

But the tables in her new room are normal tables with tiny little chairs. At lunchtime or during art, each child sits in their own little chair and scoots up to the table.

That's when it hit me.

My little girl is growing up.

That can be so hard for a parent.

Don't get me wrong. If anyone realizes the beauty and joy of life - and how easily it can be taken away - it's me and Chris. So we cherish the fact that our daughters are healthy and hitting their important milestones.

But tonight, as I thought about those little chairs in Ann Catherine's classroom, and I watched Lily sitting in her high chair and using her little fingers to pick up Puffs and feed herself, I was just overwhelmed with how quickly our kids really do grow up.

People with older children tell you that all the time.

Now I realize how true it is.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Back on the Anchor Desk

I returned to the anchor desk Thursday night at 6.

Not as an anchor of the news. Instead, I was reporting on the latest purchase of the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

Remember the Huntsville Havoc hockey game back in January where they auctioned off pink jerseys with Melissa's logo and raised more than $54,000? We purchased a Giraffe Isolette with that money and it's now up and running in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

I was so proud of that purchase because the jersey auction was such an incredible night. And then to see this precious baby boy named Lucas in that bed made it even better!

To see the story, click here. It's under "Featured Videos" and is called "Havoc Hockey Fans Buy Life Saving Equipment for Babies."

By the way, the Huntsville Havoc is dedicating another night to Melissa's Fund. On February 2nd, they'll wear blue jerseys with Melissa's logo and auction them off after the game. I can't wait to see how much money we raise!

Our other big fundraiser - Swim for Melissa - is next weekend and the money raised from that night will go to purchase a Giraffe OmniBed, a state-of-the-art bed for critically ill premature infants. Tune in Monday night on NewsChannel 19 at 10, where I'll show you a one pound 13 ounce beautiful baby girl named Ava who is benefiting from one of two Giraffe OmniBeds Melissa's Fund has bought for the NICU. Trust me, this story will truly touch your heart.

As for being back on the desk, I had a lot of people tell me Friday how nice it was seeing me back on TV and I really appreciate that. And I do miss seeing Jerry everyday (although we still talk on the phone all the time, so sometimes it's like I never left!)

But I must admit, I still know I'm doing the right thing.

At 6pm, instead of being on the anchor desk in my suit and makeup, I'm usually on the floor with Ann Catherine and Lily crawling all over me.

Not as glamorous, I know.

But still - so much better.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lily's Crawling!

My baby is no longer a baby.

For a while now, Lily has been trying to crawl. She would inch towards something and just decide to sit on her bottom instead.

Monday night, it finally clicked.

The funny part is - according to Lily's daycare teacher - Lily doesn't really know she's crawling! And once she actually figures it out, it's all over. She'll be all over the place.

You know, it makes me kind of sad. Lily is my baby. And my baby is now crawling and trying to pull up on furniture. I'm glad she's hitting her milestones, but part of me wishes I could just bottle this time up and keep it forever.

Each stage of our child's life brings it's own enjoyment and happiness. Ann Catherine is at the stage now where she is just so much fun. You never know what she is going to say, and she soaks everything up like a sponge. She repeats everything we say (better be careful!) and loves to sing songs.

I know these phases are part of life. I just wish Lily could stay my baby a little longer. It seems like just yesterday we were cuddling in the recliner while I was on maternity leave.

I'm learning one of the hard lessons of parenthood. Our children will grow up whether we want them to or not.

It's our job to enjoy every single minute with them.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

See You on the Other Side

That was the title of the sermon at church today.

We concluded a four-part series called "The Perfect Storm." The premise was that all of us will have storms in our life. And the point our associate minister was trying to make was this: God is more interested in perfecting us through storms than protecting us from storms.

That's pretty interesting when you think about it.

There was a reason why Bruce entitled it "See You on the Other Side." When we are going through something tragic, it's nearly impossible to see the good. We don't understand why God is making us go through such pain. But sometimes, once we are "on the other side" and can look back, we can understand why God brought us here.

Sharing our story in both services was emotionally draining. Even two years later, it is still so hard to talk about Melissa's death. But Chris and I also know that Melissa was created for such a greater purpose than either of us could have realized at the time. When I walk into the NICU and see the pieces of equipment we have been able to purchase through Melissa's Fund, I'm reminded of that purpose. When I hold the hand of a mom whose baby is in NICU, and talk to, and cry, and comfort that mom, I'm reminded of that purpose. When I'm able to share with a mom who also lost a child, I'm reminded of that purpose.

This is not the path that Chris and I would have ever chosen. But it's the path that God chose for us.

That doesn't mean the "storm" is over. There are still days that are incredibly hard. But two years later, we can look back and better understand why God allowed this to happen.

"See You on the Other Side" also holds another meaning for me. I know I will see Melissa again on the other side. I know my baby girl is in Heaven and I know I will see her again.

What a comfort that is.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Getting Ready!

Forgive me that I haven't blogged in a week. It has been CRAZY at work!

But, it's a good crazy! I've been working on Swim for Melissa.

If you need more information on the event, click here. My friend Claire Aiello, the Internet Content Manager at Channel 19, put together a fabulous page with information.

I blogged about this site the other day, but if you haven't been to the official Swim for Melissa site, please go there. Just click here! This site is so cool! The kids who are swimming have set up their own web pages, complete with pictures, their own personal stories, etc.

We check the site about a gazillion times a day in our office because every time we check, the total has gone up. It's completely addictive!

Please consider supporting the 2nd Annual Swim for Melissa. If your kids are too young to swim, bring the family out to the Hampton Cove pool on Saturday, August 11th. We'll have games on the grounds of the Hampton House and Publix has again graciously agreed to grill burgers and hotdogs and provide the food to us. It will be a free event, but donations will be appreciated!

It's going to be an amazing day! But more importantly, it's for such an incredible cause. We hope you'll make plans to join us!

Also, I encourage you to listen to Lite 96.9 this week. They are our radio partners for Swim for Melissa. Chris and I taped some segments with John Malone that aired this past Friday morning. Then, each morning this week they are airing segments called "Miracle of the Day." Each segment will highlight the story of a local mom who had a child in NICU, with one exception. One of the segments was voiced by a sweet little 8-year-old girl with an amazing story to tell. She is a triplet born 14 weeks early, and both of her brothers passed away. She told her personal story in one of these segments and did such a good job. She is just an incredible little girl and I am so glad I have gotten to know her and her mother.

That's one of the amazing parts about Melissa's Fund. Chris and I have gotten to know so many people who went through a similar experience. And so many of them are coming together to make Swim for Melissa another awesome event. I can't wait!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Going to the Grocery Store

There used to be a time where going to the grocery store meant Chris and I walked into the store, grabbed what we needed, paid for it and left.

Not anymore.

Have you ever been to the grocery store with a toddler? It is a production. Seriously.

It's not enough for your child to just sit in the front part of the shopping cart facing you. Oh no. They now have these carts with a giant - and I mean GIANT - front end that is shaped like a car.

The premise is your child can sit there and steer the cart and play, while you shop in peace.

But have you ever tried to steer one of those things?

It is nuts. I mean, I almost took out an elderly woman last week and a display full of Cheerios. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. You seriously need a license to drive one.

Lucky for me, I don't have to do it often. Our Sunday ritual is to go to the grocery store right after church to stock up on items for the week.

So, Chris steers the giant barge and I walk beside it.

And getting the right one is very important. There are two different trucks and apparently (according to Chris) Ann Catherine enjoys riding in one more than the other. So today, we're pulling into the lot and Chris says, "There's the truck! I have to get it!"

I had no idea what he meant. He parks the car and breaks into a near-sprint across the parking lot to get the "truck-cart" before someone else does.

I just sat in the car and laughed as I watched him bringing it back, with a look of satisfaction on his face.

It's funny what we'll do for our kids.

In the meantime, if you see me on aisle 9, get out of the way!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Swim for Melissa.org: Up, Running & Raising Money!


This is so exciting!

Swimformelissa.org is online and it is so cool! Kids who have signed up to swim are creating their own web pages with their pictures and stories of why they are taking part in Swim for Melissa. Then, they're emailing the link to their family and friends, who are making donations.

We're already up to more than $3400 and the site has only been up for less than a week!

Go online and check it out. Just click here. On the left side of the page, you'll see a link that says "Make a Donation." Click there and help us make life better for premature infants and their families. 100% of what you give will go directly to the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund to buy a state-of-the-art Giraffe OmniBed for the Neonatal ICU at Huntsville Hospital Foundation.

Thanks for helping us make a big splash for tiny babies!

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Family Vacation



We just returned from our first family vacation. The first one since Lily was born, that is.

We had an absolute blast!

Of course, it didn't start that way. Ann Catherine had a terrible cough on the way down and felt pretty crummy. Then, we got stuck in a bad traffic jam on I-65 and sat still for almost an hour. When you are in the car with two children stuck in car seats, that's pretty miserable.

Then, an hour before we got there, Lily got a fever. She ran that fever for 36 hours. She felt so bad! I was thisclose to taking her to the doctor when the fever finally broke Thursday morning. But once it did, she started feeling better.

Once we got all the sickness behind us, we had an awesome time! Lily and Ann Catherine both LOVED the water. Ann Catherine just wanted to jump off the side of the pool into Chris' arms. If she jumped once, I bet she jumped a hundred times. Lily, on the other hand, loved floating. In fact, as soon as her feet hit the water, they did that Fred Flintstone thing, where they went into motion.

One of the highlights of the vacation was a trip to the amusement park. We went to one that had rides specifically for little kids, like Ann Catherine. She was beside herself. She rode with her cousins Will & Ally. They rode the ferris wheel (which was caged in so they couldn't fall out), a train, swings, carousel and a tilt o'whirl type of ride. She had so much fun! In fact, one of the pictures posted above is of her on that ride. You can tell from the smile on her face that she was having a blast.

This was truly the best trip I've ever been on - and I've been on a lot of them. Chris and I had so much fun with the girls and enjoyed getting away with them. And since my parents were also there, they would sit in the room while the girls napped so Chris and I could also relax at the pool. It was a great trip.

One evening the four of us went for a walk on the beach. Chris was holding Ann Catherine and I was holding Lily. At that moment, I closed my eyes and tried to breathe it all in. I wanted to take a mental snapshot and remember that picture forever. I know there will be a time soon that we won't be able to hold them as we walk on the beach. In fact, they'll probably walk a few feet behind us so people don't think they are with their parents :) I want to enjoy these moments as they come.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy Canada Day!




We snapped this today after Chris hung the Canadian flag in Ann Catherine's room.

It's Canada Day! Or as Ann Catherine says, "Can-da Day."

While most of you spent this lazy Sunday just hanging out, the Georges were celebrating the birthday of Chris' country. And we did so by having a true Canadian meal - steak, potatoes and corn. Seriously, you don't get much more Canadian than that.

So Happy Canada Day to all of you Canucks out there. And on Wednesday we'll celebrate America's independence.

We tell our girls that's one of the perks of having parents from two different countries. They get twice the celebrations!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Team Captain Kickoff

We held our team captain kickoff for the 2nd Annual Swim for Melissa today. It was great! We had so many kids and their parents show up.

In fact, we have TRIPLED our number of swimmers from last year already! How great is that? I think it takes a year for any event to really catch on. This year we haven't had any trouble at all finding kids to swim in the event. I think people have realized all the good that Melissa's Fund is doing and they want to be a part of it. That makes me so proud. I can't wait to see how much we raise for Melissa's Fund at this year's event! To learn more about Swim for Melissa, click here.

On an unrelated note, Ann Catherine is having a rough time. Her 2-year-old molars are coming in and she has felt pretty crummy the last couple of days. Nothing major - just pretty whiny at night. Tonight in the middle of dinner, she just started crying so hard. She got so upset that I had to pick her up and go sit on the couch with her. She felt so bad. So I gave her an early bath and a dose of Motrin before bedtime. Hopefully, she'll feel better.

Lily's first tooth came in earlier this week! It's adorable. She's been having some pains from time to time, too. She's putting everything in her mouth! Thank goodness for Motrin! Between the two of my girls, we're certainly using it these days!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Great - and Inexpensive - Toy

I highly recommend this one.

Ann Catherine is really into letters and numbers. She loves saying her ABC's and counting to 12 (don't ask me why 12 instead of 10).

So we recently bought her those letters you can put in the bathtub. They actually stick to the side of the tub. And I'm telling you, it was one of the greatest things we have ever bought her.

She loves to play with them. And it's amazing how they have helped her recognize certain letters. She's not just reciting her ABC's. She's actually pointing to a specific letter and telling us what it is. And if she's wrong, we can say, "No, that's not an H. This is." It's a great way to learn.

Best part of all? It's cheap. Like six or seven bucks. But as a parent you come to learn that it's not always the most expensive toys that are the best ones. And it's not often the flashy, electronic ones. It's the simple ones.

So, if your child is around two years of age and loves saying her ABCs, I highly recommend buying these letters. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Calling All Swimmers!



The 2nd Annual Swim for Melissa is just around the corner! It's hard to believe, but August 10-11 will be here before you know it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's the signature event for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. The Miracle Bash is an adult party at the Ledges. This year it's Friday, August 10th. We're going with a Mexican theme, with a South of the Border buffet. 80's band "Black Eyed Susan" is playing and we'll have a FABULOUS silent auction items. I don't want to disclose any of the items yet, but trust me, they are good!

Then Saturday, August 11th is Swim for Melissa at the Hampton Cove Pool. Does your child love to swim? If so, we need them!! We are looking for kids ages 5-14 to form a team of eight of their friends to swim. It is not a competition! Kids can swim one lap or twenty. We just ask that they raise money for Melissa's Fund and show up to swim.

And this year we are making it incredibly easy to do that! Swimformelissa.org is still under construction, but once it's up and running next month, swimmers will be able to go online and design their own page complete with a picture and an explanation of why they are swimming. Then, they can send the link to their family and friends who can donate online. So if Grandma lives in Ohio, it doesn't matter. She can still make a contribution!

All money raised from this year's event will go towards the purchase of a Giraffe OmniBed for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. We have already bought two of these through Melissa's Fund and would like to buy two more before the end of the year. These beds are state of the art, but they are also expensive! Try $35,000 plus! But when your premature baby is fighting for his or her life, you don't care how much the bed costs! You just want it to be there.
To learn more about Swim for Melissa, click here. You can also learn more about the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

I hope you can join us for Miracle Bash or Swim for Melissa (or both!) Help us make a big splash for tiny babies!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Take a Look at These!





Here are the pictures I was talking about in my previous post. These are a few of Lily's six-month photos.

How sweet are these pictures?!

They were shot by Kristin Farnsworth of Whispers Photography in Madison. She has shot all of Lily and Ann Catherine's pictures. She has such an interesting technique and style. Every time someone sees a picture of my girls, they ask, "who shot these?" And she is so amazing with the babies. She is so energetic and enthusiastic and children just feed off of it. I truly can't say enough about her!

And she's not just a friend of mine. She's a friend of Melissa's Fund. Last year, Kristin put together a calendar with pictures of local children, will all of the proceeds going to Melissa's Fund. And this year, she's giving a silent auction item to the Miracle Bash (our signature event in August). She hasn't decided yet what she's going to do, but it will include some type of photo package. And here's something cool she's doing for NICU families - she's offering a free session to any baby who spent two weeks or longer in the NICU. The family will receive one spiral bound book of the original images taken at the session and 50% off their enlargement order. That is an amazing deal! If you have children, you need to call Kristin!!! I promise you - you will not regret it!

To learn more about Whispers Photography, click here. To check out Kristin's blog, click here. And to learn more about her NICU discount, click here.

On a completely separate note, today was pretty traumatic for me and Ann Catherine. It was her two-year checkup and moms, if you have babies let me warn you, the two-year checkup is a rough one. There's only one vaccine but the problem is, your child is finally old enough to realize he/she is getting a shot. Up until this point, Ann Catherine never really knew she was getting a shot. I always felt guilty because she would be laying on the table smiling at me, and then - WHAM! - the needle goes in. But once they reach two, they know what's going on. Ann Catherine started acting nervous as soon as we walked into the room.

Is there anything sadder than watching your child get a shot? I mean, you know it's for a good reason, but wouldn't you rather walk on hot coals than watch your child in pain? I would have taken that shot for her if I could.

The good news is, there are no more shots until she starts kindergarten. The bad news is, the next time we go to the doctor, she'll probably freak out as soon as we walk in.

Kids are just too smart!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Look How Big I Am!



When you have a baby, you are so aware of milestones. The entire first year of life is one transition to another.

Lily has reached a developmental milestone. She is sitting up unassisted.

I snapped this picture of her the other day. She was sitting in the floor, just playing.

She had been sitting upright for a while, but she would get a little wobbly and we would put a boppy behind her to keep her stable. But now, she doesn't even need that.

She also sits in her high chair now and eats like a big girl! We most recently tried green beans and she loved them! So far she's had carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, peas and green beans - and she hasn't disliked any of them :) She is such a good eater.

Lily is also going through another phase. She now realizes when I leave the room. Up until now, she didn't get upset if I walked away from her. But now, if I'm in the room with Lily and I walk out, she starts to cry. It's amazing how those emotions start forming, even as a baby.

Speaking of my sweet Lily, she recently had her 6 month pictures made and they are so cute! We go to an AMAZING photographer - Kristin Farnsworth of Whispers Photography in Madison. I'm going to ask if she'll post some of Lily's pictures on her website so I can share with you. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

In My Daughter's Eyes

I was driving down the road this morning and the Martina McBride song, "In My Daughter's Eyes" came on. As I drove, I cried just listening to the words. The first verse especially touched me. It says,

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes


Sometimes I do feel that Ann Catherine rescued me. Chris and I often say, "Melissa saved Ann Catherine's life and Ann Catherine saved ours." Melissa held on to give Ann Catherine a chance to live and then Ann Catherine held on and, in turn, gave me a chance to keep going. She literally gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I don't know how I would have dealt with Melissa's death had I not had Ann Catherine.

Then Lily rescued us in her own way. She has allowed us to watch the unbreakable bond between sisters. I felt that Ann Catherine had so much taken away from her when Melissa died because she lost her twin. But God gave her another chance to have a sister and I am so grateful. She and Ann Catherine were playing in the floor tonight and Chris and I got such a kick out of watching them. Lily has brought so much love and laughter into our home. It has been amazing.

I always wanted girls. I remembered how thrilled I was at our ultrasound when the doctor immediately realized Ann Catherine was a girl. I have a great relationship with my mom and I wanted the chance to have the same with my own daughters. The mother/daughter bond is so beautiful. I am so grateful to God for giving me my girls.

And I know what Martina is talking about later in the song when she talks about that tiny hand around your finger. When Ann Catherine puts her hand up and says, "hold" and then leads me around, my heart just melts. At that moment, all is right with the world. How can that tiny hand hold so much happiness?

I'm posting the rest of this song. If you have daughters, let the words sink in and know how truly blessed you are.

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me
gives me strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tough Little Cookie

My phone rang Monday while I was in a meeting. It was the director of Ann Catherine's daycare.

She was calling to tell me that Ann Catherine tripped on the playground and hit her head on a pole. She went on to explain that her teacher put ice on it and she was fine. They checked her eyes and there were reacting to light and she wasn't acting disoriented. She basically just had a big goose egg on her forehead. They didn't want to alarm me, but the daycare policy requires them to call parents when a child hits her head.

Chris didn't seem a bit worried, but the mommy in me wanted to see it herself. When my meeting ended, I drove over to AC's daycare and popped in to see her. She was sitting at the table having lunch, oblivious to the giant bump on her noggin.

"Amy, she didn't even cry," her teacher told me. "I mean, she got up and wanted to keep playing, but I made her stop so I could check her and put ice on her head."

Ann Catherine is tough. I mean, really tough. We laugh and say it's the hockey player in her. But seriously, she'll fall and I'll be waiting for the cry, and it never comes. At the neighbor's house the other night she walked in front of a little boy swinging and got knocked to the ground. I was on my way to help her, waiting for her to cry at any minute, and she just got up and kept playing.

I really think God made Ann Catherine tough. I often say that fighting spirit served her well in NICU. He knew that she was going to have a rocky start in life and he gave her the will, strength and perseverance to fight - no matter how tough it seemed.

I absolutely love that part of her.

We adults could learn something from our kids. When life knocks us down, put a little ice on the bruise, wipe the dirt off your hands and keep going.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Ann Catherine!





Whew - what a day!

Nothing like a 2-year-old's birthday party to absolutely wear you out!

What a wonderful day we had. Today was Ann Catherine's birthday party. We had it in our backyard and the weather was just right. It was overcast and warm, but not sweltering hot.

Ann Catherine had such a good time. She played her little heart out. When everyone first got there, the children played on our playground. Then, Chris grilled burgers and hot dogs and we had lunch. Then, we had cake. She had an Elmo birthday cake - which she loved!

The sweetest part of the day was when everyone sang "Happy Birthday." She just smiled from ear to ear. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Then, we opened presents - and let me tell you - it was just mass chaos. She was tearing things open before I could even figure out who gave it to her. And then after she opened one gift, she moved onto the next. Once everyone left, she was so tired. We put her to bed and she took a two and a half hour nap. Then tonight, we went to Rosie's and had dinner with Chris' parents, my parents, my sister Suzie and brother-in-law Scott, my niece Ally and nephew Will. Ann Catherine loves Ally & Will so much and had so much fun with them! My dad gave the grandchildren pennies and they threw them into the fountain outside. Every time Ann Catherine's penny went in, she would put her arms up in the air and say, "Yeah!"

What an amazing day! When I put her to bed tonight and we said our prayers, I thanked God for giving us such a special day. These are the days I wouldn't take a million dollars for. When our girls grow up, these are the days Chris and I will always remember.

They are truly priceless.

Friday, June 1, 2007

June 1st


June 1st is the birthday of two very special little girls.

One is celebrating her birthday with us here on Earth. The other is celebrating in Heaven with the angels. But they are loved just the same.

Melissa Suzanne and Ann Catherine entered the world two years ago today. Melissa was born at 6:18 a.m. and Ann Catherine followed one minute later at 6:19 a.m. Melissa passed away almost two and a half hours later.

I miss her so much today. I really do. While Chris and Ann Catherine were at the grocery store this morning, I had my time to remember her and cry. You would think after two years it wouldn't hurt so bad, but it does.

At the same time, I made a decision a long time ago that June 1st wasn't going to be a sad day. That's not fair to Ann Catherine. It's her birthday. Children are supposed to enjoy their birthdays. I don't want her growing up dreading her birthday because June 1st makes mommy sad.

So for me, there will always be an element of sadness to June 1st. After all, that's the day we had to say goodbye to Melissa.

But we also received a beautiful gift on June 1st. God gave us Ann Catherine. And even though she came to us under tragic circumstances, she gave us a reason to keep going after Melissa died.

In my post yesterday, I told you Chris and I were taking the day off today and taking Ann Catherine to the park to have a picnic and feed the ducks. We had a great time! Ann Catherine loved feeding the ducks. In fact, she wanted to get in the water with them! Chris and I had to literally hold her back. She ran her little legs off. When it was time to leave, she just cried saying, "Duckies, duckies!" Chris and I promised to bring her back. I have posted a picture from our day. Ann Catherine was in such constant motion, it was hard to snap a picture!

Today was good for us. Of course, Ann Catherine had a wonderful time. But it was also good for me and Chris. We needed it. We needed to be reminded of all the good that came out of June 1st.

Yes, June 1st, 2005, was an incredibly sad day. Yes, it changed our lives forever. And I would never want to relive the pain of that day.

But June 1st also gave us two of the greatest gifts we could ever ask for. It gave us Ann Catherine and Melissa.

And that's what we have to remember.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

What a Great Day!





Today was so special! We took cupcakes to Ann Catherine's daycare for her birthday.

Her birthday is actually Friday (June 1st). But we're not sending her to school that day. Chris and I both took Friday off and we're going to have a family day. We're going to take Ann Catherine to Big Spring Park and have a picnic and feed the ducks.

We actually started this tradition last year. I didn't think I would be able to work on June 1st - mentally or emotionally. It was the first anniversary of Melissa's death and I just didn't think I could do it. So I took the day off and Chris and I took Ann Catherine to the park. It was such a special time together that we decided to do it every year.

So, with that being said, we let Ann Catherine celebrate her birthday at daycare today. When Chris and I showed up in her class she was so excited! You could just tell she felt so special! Her class sang "Happy Birthday" to her and she was just smiling from ear to ear! Then, her teacher gave her the first cupcake. It was just adorable. And of course, they all had icing all over their faces!

When we left, I told Chris my heart was so full. Today was proof that, so often, it's the little things that make our children happy.

Like mommy and daddy taking cupcakes to school on your birthday. It's so simple, yet so important.

This was without a doubt one of the greatest days I've ever had.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Look What My Daddy Did!





Memorial Day weekend was not one of rest at the George household.

Chris decided to build Ann Catherine and Lily a playground.

Chris is a great daddy. He's a wonderful man and terrific cook and takes good care of us. But, this was new to him - it was the first home project he ever did by himself.

First, he had to till the rock-hard soil. That was no easy feat. Then he added bags and bags of mulch - 23 bags to be exact. Then he laid down 12 8-foot pieces of lumber and connected them together with rebar.

We bought the swing set a couple of months ago. My parents bought Ann Catherine a small playhouse for her birthday (which is this Friday) but they went ahead and gave it to her this weekend. The rocking horse to the left belonged to my cousin's children, who outgrew it and gave it to my sister's children, who outgrew it and gave it to us.

Ann Catherine was beside herself with her new playground! She played all afternoon Monday and stay out there tonight until it was time to come in for a bath.

This is going to be a great area this summer! It's actually in the one area of our yard that gets afternoon shade. And it's going to be a great place for her birthday party this weekend.

While Ann Catherine goes from the swing set to the playhouse to the rocking house, Lily just swings along. Is there anything better than being a kid in the summer?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Three Day Weekend!

In the twelve years since I graduated college, I have NEVER had Memorial Day off.

EVER.

Television news is 24/7. It doesn't stop for holidays. Someone has to anchor the news.

I often tell college graduates that. If you aren't willing to work crazy hours and holidays, find another career.

In fact, it's one reason why I did just that.

At some television stations, the main anchors never work holidays. But when I worked as the main female anchor at WHNT, we all pulled our weight. I was lucky enough my last couple of years to not have to work Christmas or Thanksgiving, but I did work other holidays.

But this year, our office at the Huntsville Hospital Foundation is closed for Memorial Day. I've never worked somewhere that closed for a holiday.

That means THREE days with Chris, Ann Catherine and Lily. I can't wait for us to spend that time together. I am so looking forward to it!

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend. And while our nation is at war, take a moment to remember those this weekend who aren't with us because they died making the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

There are moms and children out there who will spend this Memorial Day without the ones they love. Some are only separated temporarily. Others permanently.

As you spend time with your family this weekend, say a prayer for those who can't be together.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

She's Getting So Big!


I told you last week that Lily and Ann Catherine were wearing the same size diapers. Ann Catherine turns two next week. Lily is just six months. Yet, they are wearing the same size diaper. Now we know why.

I took Lily to the doctor this week and she weighs 18 POUNDS! I laid her on the scale and those numbers just kept climbing and climbing. I couldn't believe it!

You have to understand, this is so new to me and Chris. We truly went from one end of the spectrum to the other with our children. Ann Catherine was born at just a pound 15 ounces. The entire first year of her life she was playing catch-up as far as her weight was concerned. Your child can sit forward facing in the car seat once they turn one-year-old and are twenty pounds. Poor Ann Catherine turned one, but still weighed 18 pounds. She was 15 months before we could finally turn her around. My pediatrician says he doesn't think it's because of the prematurity. He just thinks Ann Catherine is going to be small like me, and he's probably right.

Lily on the other hand came into the world weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces and hasn't slowed down since. She has the sweetest little rolls you've ever seen! She'll be twenty pounds before she hits one and will be begging to turn around in that car seat :)

It's amazing how two little girls can be so different.

Ann Catherine looks just like me. Lily Baker looks just like her daddy.

Ann Catherine has my big, brown eyes. Lily's are a beautiful blue, like Chris'.

Ann Catherine is strong-willed and feisty. Lily is laid back and such an easy baby.

Now, add something else.

It truly wouldn't surprise me if Lily was bigger than Ann Catherine by the time she turns one.

Ann Catherine better enjoy being the "big" sister for now. Before long, she may be the "big" sister in age only :)