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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Immeasurably More

My heart was full the other night as we watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Lily Baker was snuggled in my lap in the recliner and Ann Catherine was laying on the sofa with her Daddy.

I smiled as I took in the moment.

The man I love with the girls I adore.

God has done "immeasurably more than I could imagine or hope for." That verse in Ephesians 3:20 is one of my favorite's now.

In the days following June 1, 2005, I would have completely struggled with whether it was true or not.

My prayer was that Melissa wouldn't die.

That wasn't God's will.

I had never hurt so badly in all of my life. I could not, for the life of me, understand why that prayer had not been answered.

Four-and-a-half years later, I still hurt.

But I understand.

In death, Melissa has touched more people than she probably would have on this Earth.

I think of the close to a million dollars in eqiupment in the NICU that has been purchased through Melissa's Fund. NOT because of me and Chris, but because of those who have partnered with us to help those precious babies. So many of those people also lost children, but didn't get the recognition Chris and I did because of our careers.

Those parents are my heroes.

Through Melissa's death, and my subsequent journey of healing and faith, God has given me a true testimony. Again, NO glory to me. I have just tried to share as honestly as I can, hurts and all.

Now to the "immeasurably more" part.

God could have just "stopped there" when AC came home after 68 days in the NICU. She was alive and with no developmental delays. Chris and I couldn't have asked for more.

But we did anyway.

We asked that another child would find its way to our home and our hearts. We didn't care how - pregnancy, adoption, whatever. We just wanted AC to have a sibling after losing Melissa.

It was the FIRST time in my life that I truly turned something completely over to God.

A few months later, I was pregnant with Lily Baker. And as scared as I was, God allowed me to experience a "normal" pregnancy (Well, we did make a Saturday night trip to the Labor and Delivery floor at 28 weeks, but hey - for us - that's as close to normal as possible!).

With Ann Catherine and Melissa, I went on hospital bedrest at 19 weeks and delivered at 26 weeks. I didn't get to do "normal" pregnancy things - routine doctors appointments, wearing maternity clothes until I was sick of them, and waking up each day and going to work pregnant.

God allowed me to do ALL of that with LB.

Then she arrived. On time.

And we never had to step foot in the NICU.

Three days later, we rode home from the hospital with her in the backseat. We went into the hospital to have a baby and then we all left the hospital together.

We never got to do that with Melissa and Ann Catherine. After they were born, we left the hospital empty-handed. Chris said the drive home was the loneliest drive of his life.

But not with LB. We brought her home, our hearts bursting full of love, hope and joy.

Think of your life. We all have "immeasurably mores" if we just stop and think. Even those of us who have been to the lowest point imaginable.

God sincerely wants to bless us. The answer isn't always what we're expecting and it isn't always in our time.

But I promise you: the blessings will come.

On this Christmas Eve, I have sadness in my heart. I miss Melissa and wish she was here more than anything.

But I look at my two precious children who ARE here, and I am overcome by the "immeasurably mores" in my life.

My hope for you on this Christmas is that you can see and feel the "immeasurably mores" in your life. And when you do, tell God thank you.

He is so good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another First!

A new first today - AC and LB's first trip to the movie theater!

My dad and I took Ally and Will (my niece and nephew) and AC and LB to see "The Princess and the Frog" this afternoon. What a great movie!

We have never taken the girls to the movie theater because AC has a pretty short attention span these days. She likes to move from thing to thing, and even at home she won't sit and watch an entire movie. But I thought if Ally and Will were with us, she would do fine.

And she did! LB did good too, but by the end she was getting a little antsy.

It was a nice first, though, and it was even more special because my dad was part of it! (It was his treat, and God love him, by the time he purchased tickets and bought popcorn, cokes and candy for all of the kids, he had spent a small fortune!!)

On a separate note, see the little (um..huge) "bump" on AC's noggin? She and Ally were getting their picture made in the photo booth before the movie and she took a little spill. Let's just say the first two pictures were adorable. The last one? Not so much :)

What can I say? With our family, there's always a little drama :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Calendars to Benefit Melissa's Fund

I was up early last Wednesday morning. I know, I know - ALL moms are up early. But I was up a little earlier than usual. :)

I was on the 102.1 WDRM Morning Show with Dan and Dingo. These guys are so much fun and I had a blast being on air with them.

The more important thing is WHY I was there. Each year WDRM puts together an awesome calendar. It's very popular with their listeners. In the past, they have always been free. This year, they are going to charge $5 for them and give the proceeds to Melissa's Fund!

The calendars aren't available yet, but they will be soon. You can pick them up at any Hardees location across north Alabama. They will also be filled with pictures of country music artists and WDRM radio personalities. Pick one up and help us kick off 2010 by helping premature babies!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

AC's First Crush

Apparently Ann Catherine didn't get the memo about staying within your age group :)

I've told you all about her "boyfriend" - Travis Kauffeldt, the Captain of the Huntsville Havoc.

The child loves him. My usually shy child screams his name and goes running for him when she sees him at the game.

We have to get to every game before warm-ups so she can see him. And we have to wait after the game so she can see him and tell him "good game." If not, the child bursts into tears and cries the whole way home. I kid you not.

Chris snapped this picture of them after the game the other night. She wore her "#37 Kauffeldt shirt." Travis had autographed it but I've washed it so many times, it has worn off :)

LB is as crazy about the mascots, Chaos and Ruckus, as AC is about Travis. The highlight of her night is giving them a high five and she is constantly asking me where they are during the game. AC feels the same way about them as the she does about Santa: she likes them, but from a distance. So after the game, it was HUGE that she stood next to Chaos and got her picture made.

What a fun night!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sleeping Child and Jingle Bells!

AC and LB had their Christmas program this morning. Is there anything that warms a mother's heart more than watching her children sing Christmas songs at the top of their lungs (and maybe a little off-key) on stage?!

At their school, the 4-year-olds act out "The Night Before Christmas" so it was a big deal that it was finally AC's turn to be in the play! They drew their parts out of a hat and AC drew the part of one of the sleeping children (as in "the children were nestled all snug in their beds").

The most exciting part for her was that she got to wear Christmas pajamas to school! When they said her line, she and the other "sleeping children" marched on stage, waved at their mommies and daddies and then laid down on their blankets.

Hey - Julia Roberts had to start somewhere!! :)

AC and her fellow "sleeping children"

"Oh, you better watch out! You better not cry!"

Uh, oh... the sleeping children are getting bored :)

We actually got a lot of mileage out of the "sleeping child" part over the last two weeks. When they were being rambunctious in the house, Chris would say, "Ann Catherine, go practice your part in the play!"

My sister thought AC was terribly miscast. How, after all, can a child that can't sit still be cast as a sleeping child?! It is quite funny. However, since the play didn't call for "child who gets up every two minutes to turn a cartwheel or stand on her head" we settled for the sleeping child.

At the end, Lily B's class came out and sang "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" with the rest of the children. Last year, LB had stage fright and just stared at the crowd. This year, she sang her heart out and jingled her bell!

The grand finale!

And here they are with Mimi and Poppy after the big event! LB could NOT keep her eyes off the candy she got after the play :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Latest Craze at our House!

AC is kind of in that "in-between stage" when it comes to TV. She still watches Dora, Diego, Blue's Clues, Yo Gabba Gabba (yes, my kids LOVE LOVE LOVE that freaky show!), Imagination Movers and shows like that. But sometimes she also wants to watch Hannah Montana, Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Jonas (read here to see how that got started!)

I don't mind her watching the early Hannahs or Suite Life shows. The kids were still cute and innocent then. But now they are growing up and with growing up comes attitudes and dating (NOT ready for that yet!!).

I think we have found the perfect in-between show for her.

Here it is:

Have you seen this show yet? It's on Nickelodean and my girls LOVE it. Not just AC, but LB too!

The kids are older (which, I think, is why AC likes it) but it is geared towards pre-school children. The four kids go to music school so they sing and play instruments on the show while solving whatever problem they need to solve.

Believe it or not, the songs aren't half bad and if you are going to go around humming chidrens' songs all day (as I do) it beats singing Elmo songs as I use to do when AC was little and I worked at Channel 19. In fact, one day Chris came in complaining that the whole time he was on the golf course, he was singing the Elmo/Ernie duet "One Fine Face" from AC's then-favorite DVD (wish you could have seen that, don't cha? :)

Another good thing is that the girls get plenty of exercise while actually watching TV because they get up to dance during all of the songs. Only bummer is I'm looking for a "Fresh Beat Band" CD with their songs on it and I can't find one. If any of you have seen one, let me know!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We Were There!

We spent the weekend in Hotlanta.

Oh. My. Word.

What a ballgame.

As a life-long Bama fan and alum, I have been to some big Alabama games in my life. (I actually sat in the endzone with my dad in Legion Field at the Auburn game in 1981 when Bear Bryant became the winningest coach in football history. Yes, I am actually old enough to remember Bear Bryant on the sidelines :) But, this one was absolutely amazing. And I don't just mean the final score - which was unbelievable. I mean the energy of the Alabama fans. We were on our feet the entire game. It was awesome! As a student, I was lucky enough to go to the 1992 National Championship Game and the energy and excitement at the Georgia Dome reminded me so much of that game.

I would love to show you some cute pix of me and Chris at the game but....we lost our camera. Now under normal conditions, I would be so sad about that. But the weekend was so great, I'm over the loss of the camera. I was actually supposed to get a new camera for my birthday months ago, but Chris and I never got around to looking for one. Looks like I'll be getting one this week :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Now Look at Me and Smile!!!

I know I have ranted about this before. But seriously, I would rather try to broker peace between the Israelis and Palenstinians than get a picture of my girls actually looking at the camera at the same time and smiling.

Last night we had "Jingle Jam" at church so I got the kids dolled up in their Christmas outfits. Of course, this means the pre-requisite picture of them in front of the Christmas tree.

I got this.

And this.

"Chris, come over here and help me!" I yelled.

"And exactly what would you like for me to do?" he asked.

I don't know. How about tie them down and make AC actually look at the camera and help LB lose the pained look on her face?!

Finally, I gave up and just starting taking snapshots of them looking at ornaments. If they don't have to actually look at you it works rather nicely.

In the end, I got this one. I can live with that.

Merry Christmas :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Only in our House...

...will you find Cinderella and an Alabama cheerleader playing hockey after dinner (with pink hockey sticks, no less)!