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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Go Havoc...and Leafs!

The girls wore their Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to the Havoc game last night. Ann Catherine could not have been happier! Unfortunately, the Havoc lost but we still had a great time!

Ann Catherine sat with Ally and Lily sat with Will. Every time I looked, they were shoving popcorn in their faces!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas - Whew!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We certainly did!

On Christmas Eve, we went to church. That has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I love going to church and being reminded of what the season truly means.

I always feel closest to Melissa when I'm at church. I think it only makes sense when you consider that she is in the presence of God. This year's service hit especially close to home. It would be hard to explain it on this blog, but just suffice it to say that the service was tough for me. Ann Catherine sat with us, but Lily stayed in the nursery. During the closing prayer, Chris and I just held onto Ann Catherine and cried. As soon as the service was over, I told Chris, "I need to see Lily."

On the way to get her, someone stopped me, so everyone in my family went ahead of me. After I finished talking, I started walking near the nursery. I saw Lily just standing there near Chris and my family, with this confused look on her face. She wasn't smiling. I said, "Lily Baker!" and ran towards her. She said, "Mommy!" and ran into my arms with the biggest grin on her face. I squeezed her with all of my being. It was EXACTLY what I needed at that moment. As I have said before, Lily saved us. Being able to see her after mourning Melissa during the service was the best thing in the world for me.

When we got in the car, I was telling this to Chris, and he said, "Amy, it was the weirdest thing. We went to get her out of the nursery and we were all standing there. Me, your mom, your dad, Ann Catherine, and she didn't get excited. She looked confused. She just walked past us and kept looking. It was obvious she was looking for you."

Isn't that strange? Lily needed me as badly as I needed her. Or, maybe she knew that I needed her and she was trying to find me. Either way, I just thought that was so amazing. Yet another example that God knows what we need, when we need it.

On Christmas Eve, we let the kids open one present. Ann Catherine opened her Hannah Montana doll from my parents ("I've been wanting this for all week!" she said) and Lily got a train (she loves trains!).

Here are some pix from Christmas:

Ann Catherine in her Tinkerbell dress with her Handy Dandy Notebook!

Lily in her new Cinderella dress drawing on her art easel that Santa brought!

My nephew, Will, got a Wie. The girls (including my niece, Ally) took it over and sang Hannah Montana songs. Look at Lily getting into it!

Lily on her new riding toy. Ann Catherine also got a bike with training wheels. We are ready for summer!

Lily with Will and Ally's dog, Buddy. She was a bit skittish of him at first, but by the end of the week, she was fine with him - as long as he didn't touch her bunny, her Elmo doll, her Blue's Clues dolls or her juice!!

Then on Saturday, Chris' parents rolled in from Canada and the girls got to do it all again! Lily's favorite present was this Elmo Live doll.

This doll is amazing! I thought he would just say a few words. Oh no! He talks and talks and talks - and moves around. If you knock him down, he'll ask you to help him up. Lily thinks that's hilarious, so she repeatedly knocks him down so she can help him up. It's pretty funny.

Ann Catherine's favorite present was this Toronto Maple Leafs jersey!

She and Lily both got one. And here's the best part. The back says "George 17" just like her daddy's jerseys!

When Ann Catherine opened it, she could only see the back and she immediately said, "A Maple Leafs hockey jersey!" Chris' parents couldn't believe she knew what it was. I'm telling you, the girl LOVES hockey! And I'm sure she's the only Maple Leafs 3-year-old fan in Huntsville, Alabama :)

We are going to the Havoc game tonight and they are wearing them. Ann Catherine is so excited!

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Most of all, I hope you have recovered :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Love Our DVR!!

Okay, I realize Chris and I were a little late moving into the 21st century, but we just don't watch that much tv. Recently, Ann Catherine has gotten into the Doodlebops (which only comes on once a day) so Chris starting setting the DVR so we could record them and she could watch them whenever she wants.

The other night, she was watching Blue's Clues (on regular tv). It was one she had never seen of Blue's first Christmas. She loved it because Steve was a little boy! When it was over, she asked us if she could watch it again. We explained to her that it was over and we didn't record it. Her little mind just couldn't comprehend that, so she cried her eyes out and begged us to let her watch it again. It was so sad!

I asked Chris to do a search and see if he could find it anywhere. He did, and we saw that it would be on Wednesday (today) at 6:30 a.m. on Noggin. So he set the DVR.

We had both completely forgotten about it. This morning, I was doing a search of stuff on our DVR and saw that it recorded this morning. Ann Catherine was over the moon!! She started jumping up and down saying, "I've been wanting to watch that!"

Chalk up one for daddy! As if it's not exciting enough that it's Christmas Eve, Ann Catherine also gets to watch her favorite Blue's Clues!

I snapped this picture of them watching it. (Ann Catherine looks like Janis Joplin in those sunglasses :)

Hope the rest of Christmas is this merry!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Prayer for You

I just feel like God is telling me to write this post. So many of you who read my blog "found me" because we share something in common - the death of a child.

People who have lost children will ask me from time to time if it still hurts.


Not a day goes by that I don't think of Melissa. And even though we have been able to do so much good in her name, if God gave me a choice right now, I would ask to have her back instead. I miss that sweet little girl so much.

It's often harder during special occasions - my birthday, her birthday, Easter, Christmas and Mother's Day seem to be the hardest days for me. So knowing that Christmas is just around the corner, and many of you are hurting, let me post this prayer for the moms who have lost their children.

My prayer for you is that in spite of your grief, you'll be able to see the beauty of Christmas. Without the Christ child who came to us, and then gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins, there would be no Heaven. Because of Heaven, and Jesus' promise to believers, we'll see our precious children again. In the meantime, we know that they are safe and in the arms of a loving Father who loves them more than we can ever comprehend. That is so comforting to me.

Remember the blessings you do have. Do you have another child? Are they healthy? Is your mom or dad still living? Do you have a loving husband? Do you have friends who love and support you? If the answer to any of those is yes, thank God for those special blessings in your life.

Find a way to remember your loved one. On our first Christmas without Melissa, we lit a candle as my dad read the Christmas Story to the grandchildren on Christmas Eve. It was our way of remembering her and having her "with us." I also hang a special stocking on the mantle for her. Find the things that make your child feel close to you.

Cry. Cry for the child you miss, cry for the experiences you'll never have together, cry because the pain just hurts so bad sometimes, cry because it's Christmas and it seems so unfair that he/she isn't there. Then after you cry, ask Jesus for his special comfort. Don't ever think that God doesn't know how you feel. Remember what happened at the cross? He gave his son willingly. I could never do that.

Make it a happy holiday for your children. You don't ever want your children to dread Christmas (or your birthday, etc) because it makes mommy sad. On Melissa and Ann Catherine's birthday, I get up and cry my eyes out before Ann Catherine ever wakes up. Then after that, the day is all about her. I do the same during the holidays. I don't mean that little things won't make you cry during the holidays. But don't be so sad, that it becomes a sad day that your children grow up to dread.

Draw strength from those who love you. And hold on tight to your husband, the only other living, breathing soul who knows how it feels to have lost your child.

When my daughter died, I remember crying out to God asking "Why?" I quoted Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good to those who love God" - and told him that I just couldn't see the good in my daughter's death.

Looking back now, I can see the good that came from her death, and although I would rather have her here, I have accepted that this was his will for her life. This is my favorite verse now:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I cannot put into words the comfort that God has given me in the last three years since Melissa's death. And because I have felt that comfort, I feel I can extend that same comfort to those who are hurting. It's another reason why I believe he allowed us to go through this pain.

Please know that I am praying for all of you special moms during Christmas. I know your hearts are hurting and I pray Jesus will heal your broken hearts. I pray you will feel the comfort of our Lord Jesus Christ during this Christmas season and the days beyond. I pray you will feel your child's love and spirit on the days that are really hard.

When I am hurting, I often think of Melissa. What would she want? Would she want to know that her mommy dreaded the holidays because I missed her so much? Or would she want me to continue living to the fullest extent and to focus on the lives of Ann Catherine and Lily?

I think the best way I can honor her memory is to continue to live. And living means experiencing the joys that God wants to give us. Even at Christmas. I know it's not always easy, but with God's grace and love it is possible.

God bless you all! You are in my prayers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cooking Together

My girls love to help me cook. (And those of you who have children know that I use the word "cook" in the broadest sense of the word!)

Ann Catherine has always enjoyed helping me. Now, Lily has hit the stage where if Ann Catherine is doing it, she has to do it. So, this morning when I got ready to make muffins they both wanted to help.

Usually they are fine to just help stir the batter, but this morning they wanted to help put the mix into the muffin pan. So, I grabbed a spoon and let them scoop away!

Doesn't that look yummy!!! :)

The funniest part is I was so wrapped up in taking pictures, that I realized as I was putting them in the oven that I hadn't even stirred them (I usually help them stir, but this morning they did it all by themselves). Needless to say, I was a little scared about trying them, but they were delicious! And best of all, my girls had a fun time making them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Do Fractions and Blankets Have in Common?

More than you think!

I was at Whitesburg Middle School yesterday to accept blankets on behalf of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

The 6th graders in Rita Byrom and Melissa Feldmann's advanced and regular math classes made them as part of a study of fractions. It started a few years ago when Ms. Byrom was using the example of how to estimate the amount of fabric you would need to make something. A student suggested they make blankets, and the rest is history. This is the first year the NICU has received some of those blankets and we are very grateful for their gift!

Pat Newcomb of The Huntsville Times wrote a nice article in today's paper (with a photo). To read it, click here.

I was so touched by what these children did. I gave them a brief presentation about the NICU and the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund and even brought our tiny preemie diapers so they could get an idea of just how small some of our babies are.

We love donations of blankets to our NICU. Many people don't realize that most of our really premature babies were born before their moms could even have a baby shower.

I was one of those moms. I didn't have any blankets for my daughters when they were born. In fact, it was the last thing on my mind during that time. On the second day that Ann Catherine was in the NICU, I walked in and saw this beautiful tiny, pink blanket over her. I asked the nurse where it came from and she told me a church group had made it.

After a while, we received a bigger blanket that we kept over Ann Catherine's isolette to keep the sunlight out. We brought both of those blankets home with us and one day I will give them to Ann Catherine. They are so special to us because they are one more example of how total strangers gave love to our family while we were in NICU.

There are so many groups who make blankets for the babies in our NICU, and we appreciate them all! If you are interested in making blankets (or hats) for the babies in our NICU, post to my blog and I'll be happy to give you more information.

Teachers Melissa Feldman (l) and Rita Byrom (r) with me and some of the 6th grade students

Look at all of those blankets!

Thank you Whitesburg 6th graders. What a beautiful thing to do during this season of giving!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Will She Ever Know?

Lily Baker is just the greatest kid. Today as I was trying to get her to calm down and take her nap, she pointed at my nose and said, "I love your nose, mommy." I couldn't help but smile.

She fills my heart so much. Sometimes when I'm holding her, I think my heart will burst. I'm currently working on some quotes to include in a coffee table book our photographer is putting together for Lily. As I was in the process of researching verses and quotes this afternoon, I thought, "Will she ever know?"

Will she ever know how she healed hearts that were absolutely broken in two?

Will she ever know the dark, gaping hole she filled when she came into our lives?

Will she ever know that she gave me permission to love with my whole heart again?

You see, when I was pregnant with Lily, I tried not to bond with her for the first six months of her life. I know it sounds crazy, but I was so afraid she was going to die like Melissa did, and I just could not go through that pain again. So, in my mind I thought if I didn't get too attached to her, it might not hurt so bad if something happened to her.

I think that's normal for a mom who has a lost a child, but now it seems so strange.

How could I not be attached to Lily? This beautiful little girl showed me how to love someone again with my whole heart, without the fear of losing them. I cannot imagine my life without her.

Thank you God that you know what is best for us. Thank you God that you bless us so richly. Thank you that even in the midst of tragedy, you have a plan for our lives.

"'I know the plans I have for you,'" declares the Lord, "'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" - Jeremiah 29:11

That's exactly what he gave us when he gave us Lily. Hope and a future.

I call Lily our beautiful completion. She's not a replacement for Melissa, but she completed our family in a way I could never have imagined.

Will she ever know? Will she ever truly understand how she saved our family?

Probably not.

But, I'll never forget.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Christmas Angel

Ann Catherine and Lily Baker had their Christmas program at daycare last week. Seriously, is there anything sweeter than watching little children sing Christmas songs about Jesus' birth? Their Christmas program is always one of the highlights of the holiday season for me!

As Ann Catherine's class starting walking in, I noticed they were dressed as angels. I had no idea they were going to do this. Those of you who follow my blog know how special angels have become to me since Melissa died. As I watched Ann Catherine dressed in that white dress with angel wings and a halo, I got tears in my eyes. I just thought, 'there is a little angel in Heaven who looks EXACTLY like you.' That thought was pretty overwhelming to me. To see my little angel on Earth and to think of my sweet angel in Heaven just filled my heart. (If you're wondering why her gown is pulled up, she pulled her arms out of the sleeves and when the song started, she couldn't figure out how to get them back in. Chris and I were cracking up!)

So, where is Lily Baker? I was holding the movie camera when her class came in, so I didn't get any pictures. However, I did take some before she and Ann Catherine left that day for daycare. This one turned out pretty cute.

Have you ever tried to take pictures of a 3-year-old and 2-year-old at the same time? Good grief!! I was begging, bribing and doing all I could do just to get them to look at me at the same time.

On a side note, I wanted to post this picture. Don't you just love lazy Saturday mornings? I do! And, so do my girls. I snapped this picture Saturday morning while they were laying on the sofa watching TV. I just had to share.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spirit of Hope

Last night's Spirit of Hope was so much fun!

We had a great turnout, and not only did I get to see a lot of friends (many of whom we met through our NICU experiences), but I also got to meet some other parents for the first who also share our common bond. They either had a child in the NICU, or they lost a child in the NICU. It is so nice to be able to meet people who have been through this similar journey.

To those of you who came, thank you! So many families told me the Spirit of Hope tree lighting has become a holiday tradition within their family. I think it gives families, such as ours, an outlet to celebrate the lives of our children - whether they are still with us or in Heaven. I am so proud to be part of an event that gives parents that special opportunity.

And thank you to those of you who dedicated a light on the Hope for the Future tree. Even though the tree is lit, it's not too late to dedicate a light. To do so, call Huntsville Hospital Foundation at 265-8077 or click here. All proceeds benefit the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund and we will use the money to purchase critically needed equipment for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

As you drive past Huntsville Hospital during the holiday season and you see those lights, remember they aren't just decorations. They represent hope for children and families across the Tennessee Valley.

Channel 19 aired the tree lighting live and you can watch the video below.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Early Wake-up Call

I had a bright and early wake-up call this morning!

I was a guest on NewsChannel 19 This Morning. I sat at the anchor desk with Lisa Washington and Steve Johnson (two of my favorite people, by the way) and talked about tomorrow's Spirit of Hope Tree Lighting Ceremony.

I've posted the video for those of you who want to learn more about this event. And if the forecast is true and it rains, don't worry! The tree lighting is under the portico at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children, which is covered. I promise, you won't get wet at the event!

Lastly, it is NOT too late to dedicate a light on the tree in honor or in memory of a special child in your life. To do so, call the Foundation at 265-8077 or click here. All proceeds benefit the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund at Huntsville Hospital Foundation. This is such a wonderful way to thank God for the blessings in your life this holiday season, while also helping to save the lives of other little blessings.

Also, bring your children tomorrow night because Santa will be there! We'll have hot chocolate and other goodies. It starts at 6 p.m. And if you do come, please say hello! I love meeting people who follow my blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sorry for the Delay!

I pride myself on how I keep my blog updated, so forgive me for lapsing on my updates. It's just been crazy around here!

First we had Thanksgiving. Then, the next day, we headed to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. Chris' birthday followed soon after, so as you can see, we've had a lot going on. Here are some pictures of what we've been doing.

Thanksgiving was great! We had Lily's official birthday party at my mom's house on Thanksgiving. So in addition to all of that turkey and dressing, we had Elmo cake. Is there anything better??

Lily loved her Elmo cake!!

Lily wearing her Mousketools!

Lily and her Aunt Suzie

Ann Catherine and her cousin, Coleman, hanging out with Tigger in Poppy's front yard

Ann Catherine and her cousin, Ally. Boy, does she love Ally!!

From there, we went to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama-Auburn game. Ann Catherine and Lily Baker got to hang out with their cousins Ally and Will, and believe me, there is nothing they would rather do!

After the game, Lily's godparents Steve and Laura (or La-La as Lily calls her) stopped by. They love their Lily!

As I said, Chris' birthday followed soon after. I won't disclose his age, but I will say he's older than me :) The batteries in my camera died while he was opening his presents, so I didn't get many pictures. I did snap this one of him reading his card with Lily.

I believe I have sufficiently brought you up to date. I will do better this week! Oh, by the way, our Spirit of Hope tree lighting is this Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. Bring your family out for this great holiday event! I'll post more about it tomorrow. In fact, I'll be on WHNT's morning show tomorrow around 6:40 a.m. so tune in!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Amazing Faith!

I came across this story as I was surfing the internet yesterday. A reporter with Fox 6 News in Birmingham did a story on Siran Stacy. Many of you remember Stacy from his days as a star running back at the University of Alabama ('89-91).

He was known for his on-the-field ability, but now it's his off-the-field testimony that is making such an impact.

Stacy lost his wife and four of his children last year when a drunk driver broadsided their van. Only he and his three-year-old daughter survived.

Can you imagine? In the blink of an eye, his family of seven went to a family of two.

I know the pain of losing one child. I absolutely cannot fathom the pain of losing four of your children and your spouse.

It would have been so easy for Stacy to become angry at God and turn his back on Him.

Instead, he is using this heartbreaking tragedy to further God's kingdom.

I am so touched by his faith. Wouldn't we all want to be found so faithful in the face of tragedy?

Click here to watch this story. Whether you pull for Alabama or not, you will be touched.

Stacy will be the honorary captain for this year's Iron Bowl. It's a fitting tribute for him, but nothing he accomplished on the field can compare to the lives he is touching now.

When I went to bed last night, I said a prayer for Siran Stacy and his daughter, Shelley. I hope you will too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Great is Our God!

That song has become one of my favorite praise and worship songs. Each time I hear it or sing it, I'm overcome thinking of how truly great our God is.

I have been blessed beyond comprehension.

I have a marriage that not only survived the death of a child, but grew stronger through that tragedy. Chris and I know what the minister meant when he said "for better or for worse." I am so grateful I married my best friend.

I have a husband who loves his daughters with all his heart. A man who had to sign his daughter's death certificate and make her funeral arrangements on his 5th wedding anniversary because his wife hurt too badly to go to the funeral home. A man who walks through the door at night, and regardless of his day, makes his girls feel as if they are the most special people in the world.

I have a daughter, Ann Catherine, who defied the odds. Not only did she survive such a perilous entry into the world, but she has no lasting effects from it. As she lay in the NICU, weighing less than two pounds and hooked up to tubes and a ventilator, she taught me more about the sheer will to live and what it means to fight. I promised her if she would fight to live, I would spend the rest of my life fighting for her. She did and I will.

I have another daughter, Lily Baker, who came into our lives at a time where we needed her so badly. We weren't trying to get pregnant. In fact, my pregnancy with Ann Catherine and Melissa was so scary that I never wanted to be pregnant again. But, God had other plans and he brought this wonderful rainbow into our lives to show us that all was not lost.

Yes, I lost my daughter. Yes, that is the most painful thing in the world for a parent to endure.

But do you want to know how great our God is?

He has used my precious baby's life to touch so many people. He has allowed us to take that tragedy and try to turn it into something good. He has allowed her memory and legacy to live on in the lives of countless babies in our NICU.

I take no credit for that. It's all God. Without him, I would have quit a long time ago.

And you want to know the greatest part of all? This is not the end for our family. All of us - Chris, Ann Catherine, Lily Baker and I - will be with Melissa again one day. I truly can't even comprehend how joyous and amazing that will be.

My prayer for you on this Thanksgiving is to remember all the blessings God has given you. We have all been through tragedies. We've all had bad things happen to us. It's so easy to get caught up in what we don't have. Instead, remember what you do have.

Remember how great our God is.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Tree is Up!

I love Christmas.

Even before we had kids, Chris and I both loved this time of year. We would put in a CD of Christmas carols, make hot chocolate and decorate our tree. We just loved putting out decorations.

When we had kids, it became even better.

This year, we did something we had never done before. We let the girls help us decorate the tree.

Let me just say, it was quite an experience. The girls had a blast. At one point, the majority of our ornaments were on the bottom part of the tree. It was hilarious. Once we were finished, Chris fixed their lunch and I "redistributed" the ornaments on the tree to even it out.

This picture shows the funniest part of the day.

When we first put up the tree, Lily walked over to it and tried to blow out the lights! I guess she thought they were like the candles on her birthday cake, and the poor thing went all around the tree trying to blow out the lights. It was so funny!

The most special part of the day came when Chris put the angel on top of the tree. Since Melissa's death, I have developed such a love for angels. We've always had an angel on top of our tree, but last year we purchased a new one and we even let Ann Catherine pick it out. It holds such a special meaning to me, and when I see the angel atop our tree, it makes me feel as if Melissa is with us and watching over us (as I know she is).

I love this picture of Ann Catherine and Lily watching Chris as he put the angel on top of the tree. They were taking it all in!

The tree looks beautiful and I love having it in our home. It's full of ornaments that mean so much to our family and putting it up gave us another chance today to make Melissa part of our family moments. We were able to talk about her as we hung some of her ornaments and as Chris put the angel on top of the tree. I thank God for those opportunities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Tough Little Girl

Lily had her two-year doctor's appointment Thursday. Everything went well. She's doing great and is right on track.

She's such a little trooper. I say this because visits to the doctor with Ann Catherine are NOT fun. The minute the doctor walks in, she begins to cry. Lily, on the other hand, was fine. First, she got her foot pricked so they should check her blood. She didn't even cry. When the blood started coming out, she just put her little arm around me. Then, the doctor came in and as he listened to her heartbeat, she giggled. Lastly, when she got her vaccination, she cried for about ten seconds and that was it.

Best of all for me, was something she said. As I was talking to the doctor, I was holding her and I said, "I love you, Lily." She said, "I wuv you, too." She had never said that. She has said, "Wuv you, mommy," but had never answered me when I told her I loved her. My heart just melted. The funny part was she said it right after the doctor had asked me if she was putting two words together yet. She decided to show off and put together four words instead. :)

Lily got a clean bill of health. She is developing just right, and there were no medical problems. I was telling this to a friend of mine who went through something very similar to what we went through. She, too, had twins who were born very premature and one of them passed away. She also went on to have a healthy, full-term child. We talked about how "easy" doctors visits are with a well baby. Ann Catherine's doctors' appointments centered on so many questions that I had: how was she doing, was she "catching" up because of her prematurity, was she doing things that other kids her age were doing? We were obsessed with her weight gain and how she was developing. With Lily, I don't have all of those questions. Everything is just so....normal. It's quite a change from the first two years of Ann Catherine's life. Believe me, I don't take that for granted.

Lily is the coolest kid I know. I know that sounds strange to describe your child as "cool," but she is. She just does her own thing and is so easy-going. She digs her heels in about the things that really matter. Everything else is just gravy.

I love that little girl more than I could ever put into words. I'm so grateful that she is healthy...and here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Lily Baker!

It's official. When referring to Lily's age, I can no longer speak in terms of months. As in, "She's 23-months-old."

Lily is two-years-old.

I can't believe it. Seriously. This one is tough.

I've blogged about this before, but it's hard when your youngest child starts growing up. You just see those baby years fleeting away and it's hard on a mommy. Even so, I'm just so grateful she's healthy and she's here.

Lily had a great birthday. I'm so late blogging about it, because I'm still recovering from the festivities :)

Chris took Friday off and the four of us spent the day together. We started doing this on Ann Catherine's first birthday, mainly because the three of us just needed to be together since it was also the anniversary of Melissa's death. For Ann Catherine's birthday, we always go to the park because her birthday is in June and the weather is so nice.

For Lily's birthday, we were stumped. We had to pick an indoor place. So guess what? We went to Chuckie Cheese.

The girls, of course, were thrilled! We had lunch and let the girls play. The four of us had so much fun.

Lily's favorite part wasn't actually playing a game. Instead, she loved taking the tickets that came out when we won a game, and trying to put them back into the machine. (It's really the little things that make Lily happy!)

Ann Catherine, on the other hand, would spend five seconds on one game, and then run to another one. She could not have been happier!

Look at this adorable picture of Lily! She was watching the Chuckie Cheese band. Isn't that the sweetest face?

That evening, after Lily's nap, we had a small family party with Chris' parents and my parents. Chris, Ann Catherine and I got her a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which she loved! Lily loves watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" on TV and Chris and I knew she would love this gift. She and Ann Catherine have both had so much fun playing with it.

I would have to say her other favorite was this Elmo backpack that her Uncle Geoff, Aunt Lisa and cousin Ella gave her. She has worn it all weekend! It makes me so sad because she looks like such a big girl with it on. She'll bring it to us and say, "Elmo backpack on!" and we'll put it on her. She really loves it.

Lily is just the most amazing little girl. She has the sweetest smile that just melts your heart. I just love to snuggle and cuddle with her.

Lily just saved our family when she came into our lives. After Melissa died, Chris, Ann Catherine and I just had this huge hole in our hearts. When Lily came into the world, she helped heal that gaping hole. She gave us so much love and so much hope. She's my rainbow - God's way of telling our family it was all going to be okay.

I am so incredibly grateful for Lily. Each night at bedtime, I pray for Lily as I hold her in my arms. I thank God for her and thank him for sending her to us.

I often say, "Melissa saved Ann Catherine's life, and Ann Catherine saved ours." It's true. But, Lily also saved us. She is living proof that something beautiful can come out of something so tragic.

And that makes her birthday even sweeter. Happy Birthday, my sweet Lily!