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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! 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.