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Monday, July 28, 2008

Growing Up Too Fast

I took a three-year-old to the beach...

...and came back with a six-year-old.

Not literally, but it seems like it.

You see, we went to the beach earlier this month and spent a long weekend with my parents, my sister and her husband and my niece and nephew.

My niece, Ally, is 9. My nephew, Will, is 6. Needless to say, they watch "Hannah Montana" and "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" around the clock.

So, Ann Catherine watched it too. And now she is hooked.

Seriously, she LOVES these shows. I've been amazed at how she'll actually sit down and watch them.

This weekend, there was a 3-D concert Hannah Montana concert on the Disney Channel. My niece and nephew were at my mom's house, so Ann Catherine and Lily went too. Earlier in the day, I took her and Ally to Target and got them matching Hannah Montana shirts (she's wearing it in the picture).

She wore it Saturday night while they watched the movie, and insisted on wearing it all day Sunday.

She can sing "Best of Both Worlds" word for word. Just ask her Gammy and Gramps. She sang it long-distance for them the other night.

She has a crush on Zack and Cody. If they're on the Disney Channel, she jumps up and down yelling, "Zack and Cody!" I think it's breaking Chris' heart.

The shows really aren't that bad. I've found myself watching it with her and enjoying it. It's just the fact that my little girl seems so grown up at times.

Don't get me wrong. She still loves The Wiggles, and loves watching cartoons on Playhouse Disney. I just thought it would be a little longer before she starting watching big girl shows. My little girl is growing up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Wiggles Concert!

I had more fun tonight than I've had in a long time.

I went to a Wiggles concert!!

Okay, before you laugh and think "are you kidding me?", it wasn't so much the concert (although it was really, really good). It was watching my daughters enjoy the concert.

Ann Catherine had the time of her life. She danced the entire time! Our seats were on the floor of the arena, and on the first row in our section, so the kids had plenty of room to dance! And boy, did she dance!! She had the best time.

Lily took it all in, but stayed in my lap and Chris' lap. She got down and danced a couple of times, but for the most part, she just watched with her eyes wide open.

My niece and nephew went with us, along with my mom and dad. Mimi and Poppy wouldn't have missed it for the world.

At the end of the night, my mom said it was worth the price of admission just watching Ann Catherine. It just made my night knowing she had such a good time. I think of all the countless times we've watched the Wiggles on DVD, and tonight she saw them in person.

Not just that, but all four of them walked right past us and said hello. In fact, Anthony gave her a HIGH FIVE!! Of course, her father was so excited, he didn't even snap the picture :) I don't know who was more excited: Ann Catherine, or me and Chris.

What a great night! Thanks Wiggles for giving us all a night we'll never forget!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Catching Up

To those of you who check this blog on a regular basis, please forgive me. I don't want to act like I'm any busier than the next person, but with Swim for Melissa just three weeks away (yikes!), I have been slammed at work! I usually update my blog at night after my kids go to sleep, but the past few weeks, I've been working on Swim after they go to sleep.

That being said, it's going to be a fabulous event! We have a record number of swimmers signed up, and we're excited about it! I just checked and we are up to $22,000!! Please check out the website when you have a chance. You can also make a donation. It's a great and easy way to help premature babies in the NICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

I'll try and do better this week. Thanks for understanding!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back from Vacation

Chris, Ann Catherine, Lily Baker and I just returned from a wonderful - and much-needed - vacation.

We went to the beach and met my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew.

Ann Catherine and Lily had the best time. They were so good, and just played and played with their cousins.

I wouldn't call it a relaxing time, because when your kids are the same age as mine, vacations aren't exactly relaxing. In fact, my kids went to bed later than usual, but got up at the same time.

But in terms of pure enjoyment, this trip was wonderful. We had the best time with our family. I just loved watching Ann Catherine play in the pool, and Lily splash around. It was so nice to just get away, and forget the day to day stresses and worries.

We took everything but the kitchen sink...and the camera. Can you believe that? We went on vacation without our camera. So, Chris bought a disposable camera once we got there, and we took pictures the "old-fashioned" way.

We haven't gotten the pictures developed yet, so I don't have any to post. As soon as we develop them, I'll share some.

In the meantime, have you checked the Swim for Melissa website yet? Click here to see it. We're almost at the $7,000 mark and we still have a month yet. If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so online. 100% of what we raise will benefit the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund and will be used to purchase state-of-the-art Giraffe OmniBeds for the Neonatal ICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. Please help us make a big splash for tiny babies!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tori is STILL Making a Difference

This journey called life is an interesting one. I believe God allows us to go through things so we can reach out to others who are going through the same thing.

For some of us, the journey of life has involved losing a child. When you hear of someone who has also lost a child, you become part of an unfortunate fraternity. It's a fraternity you would never have chosen to join, but it truly is a fraternity, because only those who have experienced it can truly understand what it is like.

I first "met" Tori Wilhoit in December. I put "met" in parenthesis because I never really met her face to face, but I feel like I know her. I first heard of Tori when her grandfather emailed me in October to tell me she was in our NICU and to thank me for what Melissa's Fund had done for the NICU. I emailed him back and thanked him for his kind words. Then, in December, Chris and I ran into him while buying Christmas decorations. He told me that Tori had gotten worse and had been transferred to Vanderbilt. I told him I would pray for her and their family. I was saddened that she hadn't been able to come home yet.

That same week, a NICU nurse told me that Tori's mother, Melissa, had created a Caring Bridge web page. I signed up to receive the updates. They soon became a daily part of my life.

Each update gave me insight into Tori's life and her daily struggles. And as I began to receive them, I became more and more connected to this family. Each day, I couldn't wait to receive Melissa's updates about Tori. I cried each time the news was bad. And I rejoiced each time it looked like she was getting better. I became connected to this little girl, who I had never even met.

There were days when I thought, "Lord, this family can't take any more. Please spare them more pain." And what struck me the most was Melissa's faith. At times she was so exhausted. She was traveling back and forth to Nashville, and she and her husband also had a little three-year-old girl. She was torn between being with Tori and being with Savannah. I couldn't imagine how hard it must have been.

Melissa's faith could have moved mountains. She believed that God's hand was on Tori. She believed that he was strong enough to heal her. She believed that they were going through this for a reason. She was an inspiration to everyone who read her web page.

One morning I was reading the paper as my daughters ate their breakfast, and my gaze fell on a name in the obituaries - Victoria Wilhoit. "No," I said out loud. And I began to cry. I had been away from my computer for the past couple of days, and didn't know that Tori had passed away. Her death touched me so profoundly.

As I began to think about Tori, and all she had been through, I began to realize: just as my Melissa did, Tori had a purpose. God's purpose for her life was never for her to live longer than she did. As much as her mommy and daddy wanted that, his purpose for her was much greater.

You see, Tori's life touched so many people. Her mother's faith touched so many people. God used this little girl to bring others closer to him. I saw it each day as I read comments posted in her guestbook.

God's purpose is often not our purpose. His purpose is "big picture." Ours is not. Yes, God could have healed Tori. But, that wasn't his purpose. His purpose was for her short life to have a huge impact on so many around her.

I write this because last week I was on her mother's blog, and Melissa had written a post asking people to raise money for Swim for Melissa in memory of Tori. This is a mother who could have just walked away from the hurt, and wanted nothing else to do with anything related to NICU. Instead, she is using Tori's life to help other babies have a fighting chance. I believe with all of my heart that Tori is incredibly proud of her.

To visit Tori's Swim for Melissa page, click here. And to read Melissa's blog, click here. I think you'll be blessed.

I believe Tori and my Melissa know each other. I thing they probably like to play together on that giant playground in Heaven. I take comfort in the fact that they aren't in pain and that they are perfect.

I have often said that the best way to honor your child's life once they die, is to keep living. Melissa Wilhoit is doing just that. It doesn't mean it's easy, or that there isn't still hurt and grief. But, each day that she continues to live and make a difference, she carries on Tori's fighting spirit.

Even in her death, Tori is still making a difference. Premature babies in our NICU have a fighting chance thanks to her - and her mommy's faith.