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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Being a Twin

While I was combing Ann Catherine's hair tonight, she told me about two little boys she knows. I'm not sure if she knows them from church, daycare or somewhere else. I had never heard her mention them before.

"They're twins, mommy," she said.

I felt like my heart was going to stop.

"What, Ann Catherine?" I asked.

"They're twins, mommy," she answered.

I was speechless. I can't explain the enormity of that moment for me. First of all, I had never heard Ann Catherine utter the word "twins" before. Secondly, she could never understand just how close it hit to home.

I wanted to blurt out, "So, are you, baby!" and tell her all about her precious twin. But, Ann Catherine isn't ready. And tonight wasn't the time.

I have to admit, I've come a long way. When Melissa first died, seeing twins together was so painful for me. I have always said that one of the things I grieve the most, is the fact that Ann Catherine won't be able to grow up with her twin. It's such a sacred bond.

But, God can bring so much healing. I don't cry anymore when I see twins. In fact, there are twins in Ann Catherine's room at daycare, and she loves both of them so much! She has loved both of those children since she met them. Sometimes I wonder if she's not drawn to them in some sort of way.

Even though Ann Catherine doesn't know she's a twin yet, I do believe she knows she has some type of connection to someone else. I believe it's why she is so close to Lily. She was missing a part of her, and it was a void that only Lily (not me, not Chris, not anyone else) could fill.

And when the time is right, we'll tell Ann Catherine she's a twin. And we'll explain what that means. Only God knows when that time will come. But, I am sure of one thing: he'll give us the words to say so Ann Catherine will fully understand how special she is to share such a sacred bond with another human being.

And although Melissa isn't here, that bond is. And no one can take that away from her.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lily and her Elmos

This picture cracks me up.

As you can see, Lily LOVES Elmo. I mean REALLY loves the little red furry monster. If Lily is cranky or feeling bad, just hand her an Elmo book or put in an Elmo DVD and she'll become as happy as a lark.

She will walk through our house holding at least three Elmos at once. She crawled up in Chris' lap the other morning with three Elmos, and Ann Catherine's camera thrown in for good measure. It was pretty crowded.

I just had to share :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

What a wonderful weekend!

I took Friday off and spent it with the girls. We had such a wonderful day!

Saturday, we dyed Easter eggs. This was really the first year that Ann Catherine could take part and she loved it. Every time she dyed one, she would say, "I want to do one more!" After she dyed them, she put stickers on them.

Just in case you're wondering where Lily was, she was sitting in her high chair eating and watching Elmo. She really could have cared less. She's still too young to understand what's going on. I can only imagine how crazy it will be next year trying to dye eggs with both of them!

This morning, we went to church. My girls looked adorable if I do say so myself! Ann Catherine loves new clothes and was thrilled to wear her "big girl tights" and new Easter shoes. And Lily? Let's just say I was thrilled to have Lily dressed with a bow in her hair. She is in constant motion and it's hard to get her to sit still for anything right now.

Chris' parents are visiting, so the Easter Bunny brought more than usual. In addition to their Easter basket, chocolates and other goodies, Ann Catherine and Lily also got some adorable, painted Adirondack chairs for outside. They looked so cute sitting in them!

Would you believe after two gorgeous, warm days that it was so chilly this morning?! Even so, I wanted the girls to hide Easter eggs, so we put their jackets on and went outside. After that, we went back inside and played some more. They had a blast!

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I've gone through a rough patch emotionally. Melissa has been so heavy on my mind and heart. As the service began at church this morning, I began to feel anxious and wondered if I could get through the service. I just prayed that God would help me - and he did. The first worship song was the one I told you about last week that always makes me cry. But this morning, I sang that song with a smile on my face. Yes, I had tears in my eyes but I also felt so happy.

You see, Easter has taken on such a different meaning for me since Melissa died. First, because I believe that Jesus died and rose again, I have the assurance that Melissa is in Heaven and that I will see her again. Also, I remember when Melissa died, I thought that no one in the world could understand my pain - including God. Then one day I realized, he understood better than anyone. Not only did his son die, but he gave him willingly. I could NEVER have given Melissa up willingly. But, he did. And I am so grateful for that. Because of what he did, death does not separate me from my daughter forever.

That's a beautiful gift on this Easter. Besides the wonderful times I shared with Ann Catherine and Lily this weekend, I have the promise of wonderful times to come with Melissa. Thank you God for that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Making Easter Cookies

"Ann Catherine, I bought you a surprise today," her daddy said as we were eating supper tonight.

I thought he meant Easter egg dye. So did Ann Catherine and when she asked he said, "Yes, but I also bought you something else. But, you have to eat all your food before you can see it."

Of course, she started shoving food in her mouth as quickly as possible. When I opened the refrigerator door to get Ann Catherine some apple slices for dessert, I saw the surprise: Easter bunny cookie dough!

As soon as I told Ann Catherine, she couldn't concentrate on eating anymore. But, we made her finish her meal, and then we made cookies!

She had the best time. As you can see from the picture up above, mommy had a pretty good time, too! It's just those special things - like making Easter bunny cookies - that create the most special memories. And I'm so grateful for a husband who sees Easter bunny cookie dough, and knows that such a small purchase will mean the world to his daughter.

Chris also snapped the picture of me and Lily tonight. Lily is still a snuggler (thank goodness!) and tonight she crawled in my lap and just hung out, drinking her juice. It was so special, and so needed. I've had a rough week, emotionally speaking. As I blogged earlier this week, I've been thinking of Melissa a lot lately and it's been pretty hard at times. But, during those times, God always sends "gentle reminders" that everything is going to be okay.

Tonight that reminder was sent in the form of Easter bunny cookies and a snuggle from my little one.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Easter Means

My daughters go to a church daycare. In addition to learning their ABCs and 123s, they also learn stories from the Bible.

Wednesday is Bible story day. They learn a Bible story, sing a song that goes with it and color a picture that goes with the story. Chris and I love asking Ann Catherine about it when she gets home.

She has told us how baby Moses was put in a basket, and then how he grew up to say, "Let my people go!" (which she says rather emphatically).

She has told us how Joshua made the walls fall down. And she told us about a man who "couldn't run or jump but Jesus made him run and jump!"

But, what she told us last week brought tears to my eyes.

Ann Catherine's daycare actually celebrated Easter last week because spring break is this week and a lot of the kids are out of town. One day she made a cross and brought it home. When I asked her what the cross meant, she said "Jesus is alive!"

Chris and I just looked at each other in amazement and I said, "That's right, baby. He is alive."

Ann Catherine is such a sponge and soaks up so much. She remembers everything we tell her. But what I love even more is the simplicity of her understanding. She boiled it right down to what Easter really means in just three words. Jesus is alive. It's so simple even a two-year-old can understand.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Sweet Angel

I've been thinking a lot lately about Melissa.

Don't get me wrong. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. But, sometimes I feel her presence so deeply. That's how I felt this weekend.

It was for a variety of reasons. First, I had lunch Friday with a friend who went through a situation very similar to ours. She gave birth to twins three months early. One of the twins passed away, the other survived. Then, God blessed her with another child. As we ate, we talked about our experiences. We laughed about our children now and how crazy life is, and we cried over the loss of our precious babies. But, we both agreed that they are both in Heaven, where they no longer hurt and where they are so happy. She thinks they're playing soccer up there, kicking the ball like crazy. I think she's probably right. If Melissa is anything like Ann Catherine, I bet she loves to just run and run. And just think how big her back yard is! I take such comfort in the fact that I know she's happy and healthy. And most importantly, I know I'll see her again one day. What a wonderful blessing!

Saturday night, Chris, the girls and I went to the Havoc game. During the first intermission, Chris and Ann Catherine went on the ice to accept a $1000 check from the Havoc Booster Club, which they raised through their Texas Hold 'Em Tournament. Lily and I stayed in the seats and watched. As they held the checks on the ice, I began to cry. It was a serious of things. First, just seeing Melissa's name on the check made me cry. I realized that before there could be a fund that has raised almost half a million dollars in just two and half years, there had to be a little girl named Melissa. She had to be born premature and we had to lose her. Even though it was God's plan from the beginning, it can be so overwhelming to me at times. Then, seeing Ann Catherine on the ice made me think of what a miracle it is that she's even here. The fact that she is healthy is just the icing on the cake. And then lastly, as I held Lily who was snuggling up to me, I was made aware of this other little miracle in our lives. We didn't realize how much we needed Lily until God gave her to us. As I said a million times, Lily is not a replacement for Melissa, but she completed our family in a way that nothing else could have. And she filled a void in Ann Catherine that was left when Melissa died.

This morning, I said "Girls, let's go get ready for church." Ann Catherine went and took Lily by the hand and said, "Come on, Lily. Come with me," and she led her to her room to help her get dressed. I just stood there with tears in my eyes and thanked God for the blessings he had given us.

It would be so easy after losing Melissa to feel like I had been robbed and cheated. And don't get me wrong. I miss her so much. I would give the world to hold her again and to have her back with us. But, I know that's not possible right now. And even though we had to go through that, God has blessed us beyond our imagination. He has given our family so much, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

We sang a song at church today that I love. The chorus says, "Saviour, he can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save. He is mighty to save." I cry each time we sing it. My God can move the mountains. He moved them in our life. Some people think being a Christian means nothing bad will ever happen to you. Not so. The Bible clearly says that we will have trials and tribulations. But, we have a God that loves us so much. He never leaves us through the valleys, and if we will let him, he has so much to teach us during the bad times.

And even when those we love have to leave us, he still allows us to feel their presence. That's how I have felt lately. I feel Melissa and I know she is always with us.

That is a gift that is hard to describe. And I am so grateful for it.

In the meantime, kick that soccer ball, my sweet Melissa. And run to your heart's content.

You deserve it. And always know that mommy loves you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Buying Easter Shoes

God knew what he was doing when he gave me girls.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm a girly-girl. As a child, I loved dressing up and wearing girly things.

I don't know about Lily yet, but Ann Catherine is just like me.

Tonight, we went to Stride Rite to buy Easter shoes. Ann Catherine LOVES going to Stride Rite. She LOVES trying on shoes.

If that's not a girly-girl, I don't know what is.

Ann Catherine would try on a pair of shoes and say, "Can I walk in them, Mommy?" Then she would walk around the store saying, "They're so pretty!"

She and Lily both got a pretty pair of shoes, and she couldn't wait to show her daddy when she got home! She even put them on to model them.

Just one of the many reasons why I love having girls :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

My One Year Anniversary

Last week, I celebrated my one year anniversary with Huntsville Hospital Foundation.

It's been more than a year now since I anchored a newscast. If I had a nickel for everyone who asks me, "Do you miss TV?" I would be a millionaire.

And my answer is always the same.


I don't miss the hours. I don't miss the craziness of TV news. I don't miss the unpredictability of storms and breaking news.

I like knowing that (for the most part) I'll be leaving my office at the same time each afternoon. I like knowing that I'll be home with my husband and kids each evening. And I like knowing that God could dump 10 inches of snow on my house, and I still won't get called in to work.

I love what I'm doing now, and the difference I'm making. I love walking in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and seeing precious miracles using medical equipment purchased by my daughter's fund.

And that's not all. Huntsville Hospital Foundation (where I work) manages Melissa's Fund, but it's also the fundraising arm of all of Huntsville Hospital. We raise money to buy lifesaving medical equipment for all departments of the hospital. And we fund life-changing programs. Earlier this year, the Foundation funded a program that taught the girls at the local Girls, Inc., about healthy food choices. They learned how to read food labels, how to avoid fad diets, and how to prepare healthy meals. On the last night, they invited their mothers to attend and cooked a formal dinner for them. As I listened to the girls talk about all they had learned, I couldn't help but be proud about the difference we had made in their lives.

As a reporter, you have the ability to change lives. I hope I did that in some small way, whether it was through a story that helped someone, or through the MDA telethon that I co-hosted for years.

Now, I'm changing lives in a different way. That's incredibly rewarding to me. But the most rewarding part? Being home at night with Chris and the girls. It's truly the best of both worlds.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hurry Up Spring!

I hope you enjoyed this gorgeous weekend as much as I did!

I was so happy that my kids could finally play outside - without coats on! They pretty much played outside all weekend long. It was fabulous!

I snapped a few pictures today while they played in the backyard. That's Chris and Ann Catherine enjoying popsicles together. Ann Catherine cut her lip on her rocking horse, and as only a daddy can do, Chris made it better by getting them popsicles. Then, Lily grabbed Chris' and ate the rest of his!

Monday is supposed to be in the '70s I hear, and then we are right back into cold weather again. I hate that! I truly hate winter. I'm counting the days until the warm weather is here to stay!