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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Sweet Lily

In my last post, I told you Lily had pictures this week.

I don't have my proofs yet, but Kristin, with Whispers Photography, emailed the one above to me today.

Doesn't Lily look adorable?!! I know I'm biased, but I think she is one pretty cute kid.

I look at this picture and I think, "Where did the time go?" It seems like just yesterday that I was cuddling up with Lily in the recliner. In fact, I began this blog just a month after Lily was born. And look at her now. She's such a big girl!

This picture just made my day. It was such a joy watching Lily at this photo shoot. Lily is just happy to be part of this world.

And I'm so happy she's here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

One-on-One Time

When you have two children who are as close in age as mine, it's hard to have one-on-one time with them. When we do things as a family, it's usually all four of us.

But Saturday we split up. I took Lily to get her pictures made - just the two of us. We had the sweetest time! Lily was just so funny! Kristen with Whispers Photography shoots all of my daughters' pictures, and she got such a kick out of Lily. She gave Lily some flowers and Lily had the best time with them. She would just sit and look at them so intuitively. I had the greatest time watching her. At one point, I had tears in my eyes just thinking that this wonderful little creature belongs to me. It truly was just so special.

While we were gone, Chris and Ann Catherine had "Daddy/Daughter time." He took her to Lowe's, Publix and Walmart and she even got a new Wiggles DVD! She had such a good time with him and it was good for them to be together.

Ann Catherine and I had our own "Mommy/Daughter" time later that afternoon when we took a walk while Lily slept. Walking outside with Ann Catherine is one of my favorite things! There's just no telling what she's going to say as we walk. Then later that evening, we did something as a family when we all went to Brusters and got ice cream. The girls had such a blast!

I love doing things as a family, but I also love that one-on-one time with my daughters. It's really rare, because we are always together. And we should probably make more of an effort to give our daughters one-on-one time with us. It's just so special.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Trip to the Beach

We just returned from the beach. It was wonderful!

The purpose wasn't just to have a getaway, although we badly needed one. My sister lives near the beach, so we went to visit them as well. Ann Catherine and Lily had a great time playing with their cousins, Ally and Will.

For some bizarre reason, Ann Catherine decided she HATED the sand on this trip. I realize most children do this, but it's baffling to me because she loved it last year. This year, she never wanted her feet to touch. As long as I put her in a chair or sat her on the towel, she would play. But, she had no desire to feel the sand between her toes.

Lily, on the other hand, loved the sand. She just played and played. That's Lily. She's pretty much content in any situation.

The best part was just being with our family. In fact, that's Ann Catherine above with her Poppy, a wonderful, gentle man who pretty much lets the girls do whatever they want (isn't that what grandparents are for?).

It was a much-needed breather for our family. A little getaway to help us remember what's most important in life - being together.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What a Weekend!

We had a busy weekend, but it was also a great one!

As many of you know, there is nothing I would rather do than spend time with Chris, Ann Catherine and Lily. We did that Saturday morning, but before I tell you about it, I must tell you what Chris did Friday morning.

He went to Ann Catherine's daycare for "Doughnuts with Dad." Is that cute or what?

I was so jealous! And I don't know who was more excited about it, Chris or Ann Catherine.

Ann Catherine's daycare celebrates Fathers Day in April because some of the children don't attend daycare in the summer. So during all of last week, they made things for the fathers and then celebrated on Friday.

What I wouldn't have given to have seen Chris sitting in a tiny little chair at that tiny little table :)

After he and Ann Catherine ate their doughnuts, she gave him his gifts: a Fruit Loop necklace, a card with her handprint and a key chain with her picture on it. It was such a special time for the two of them, and I'm glad they got to do it.

On Saturday, we took part in the Walk for Autism. A friend of Ann Catherine's (whose parents are good friends of ours) is Autistic and she, Lily, Chris and I walked on his team. We had such a good time. Autism is just heartbreaking to me, and the fact that insurance doesn't cover much of the therapy is just outrageous. Chris and I wanted to do our small part to show our support to those families who are dealing with it every day. The girls had so much fun playing outside at the walk. Afterwards, we took them to McDonalds and we ate outside. It truly was a perfect morning and afternoon.

Then on Saturday night, Chris and I went to the grand opening of The Westin Huntsville. We were excited to go because we are having the Miracle Bash there in August, and I couldn't wait to see what it looked like. Believe me, we weren't disappointed! It is an incredible venue and I can't wait to have our event there! It is going to be fabulous!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Learning Bible Stories

As I've told you before, Ann Catherine goes to a church daycare. Each Wednesday, they learn a Bible story.

Today's story was about Jesus walking on the water. On the way home, I asked her to tell me about her Bible story.

"It was about Jesus," she answered.

"What did he do?" I asked.

"He walked on water!" she said excitedly.

"Wow! He did?" I asked.

"Yes, and I walk on water at Mimi's condo!" she said.

My parents have a condo at the beach, and Ann Catherine loves to go there. I guess she equates playing in the ocean, with Jesus walking on the water.

Not exactly the same, I know, but it's such a sweet example of how a child's mind works. There is such an innocence, and nothing seems impossible to them.

I got a kick out of it. I bet Jesus thinks it's pretty funny, too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Preemie Reunion Party

I went to a great party this weekend.

The 20th annual Neonatal ICU Reunion Party was Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church. This party is hosted each year by Huntsville Hospital Foundation's Angels for Children and the NICU staff.

The event is for two-year-old NICU "graduates." It's a chance for the babies and parents to reconnect with the doctors and nurses who took care of them. Last year was Ann Catherine's year to attend the party and it was amazing. It was such a milestone for us.

This year, I was there, but I was working. And while it was absolutely wonderful, there was a part of it that was really hard.

There were so many twins there, and it really affected me. I would see twins together and I would feel a pang of guilt thinking, 'that was supposed to be us.'

I think I realized Saturday that seeing twins will never be easy for me. It's just something I'll always have to deal with.

I came home and told Chris about it and began to cry. I cried for Melissa, I cried for the fact that Ann Catherine will never get to experience life on Earth with her twin, and I cried because I'm just tired of crying.

At that moment, Chris was holding Lily and he said, "Lily, go hug your mommy. She needs a hug right now."

And here came that little gift from God - the one who looks at me and just makes me smile - with her wobbly little walk and plopped right down in my lap. It was exactly what I needed at that moment.

God is truly teaching me something about grief right now. I've gone for months without really grieving and he has taken me through a series of things lately that have really forced me to grieve.

Grieving isn't easy. It's not fun crying and it's not fun being sad.

But I'm learning that grief is a journey. It's not something that just goes away. It's ever-changing. And we have to change with it.

I write about this, because lately I have talked to so many people who are reading my blog, and some of them have also lost children. I want to be honest about my journey, in the hopes that it will encourage someone else. I believe God allowed me and Chris to go through our experience so we could help others who are going through, or have been through, something similar.

I am so blessed that God put a friend in my life last year, who has been through something like this. My friend, Lesli, gave birth to triplets almost nine years ago. Her daughter survived, but she lost both of her sons. Her sweet daughter has become so special to me. I draw so much strength from Lesli and how she and her husband have taught their little girl about her brothers. We have laughed together and cried together. She is a wonderful example of how to cope with loss, and keep on living.

I hope this blog serves that same purpose for some of you who are grieving and hurting. You can't change what happened, but you can control how you deal with it. And bottom line: your loved one would want you to keep living. Not just breathing, but truly living.

I believe it's the best way I can honor Melissa's life.