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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Worst!

I have dreaded this day since it first happened to Ann Catherine a year and a half ago.

And as it creeped closer, I have dreaded it even more.

Lily Baker's 4-year-old checkup.

If you have older children, you know the one.

The one with five vaccinations.

FIVE shots.

I have had lots of shots in my lifetime, but five at once?!

Yes, my children got lots of shots as babies but I could handle those. After all, they had no idea what was coming. Yes, it was sad, but when it was over it's not like they remembered it.

When they are older, it's a whole 'nother ballgame.

LB was such a trooper. AC had strep last week and had to get a shot, so she was a little worried that a trip to the doctor meant she was getting a shot. On the way into the clinic this morning she asked, "Mommy, will I get a shot?"

I knew I couldn't lie to her, but I also didn't want to freak her out before her appointment. So I just said, "We'll just have to see what the doctor says."

(At least I was prepared this time. When AC had her four-year-old checkup, I had no idea what was coming. But this time, I knew. I made sure to pack Ibuprofen, Lily's favorite drink - orange juice - her beloved Bunny and her Jesse doll. And I prayed a lot yesterday for my own sanity :)

So we went into the room and she had her checkup. Everything was great! LB is doing exactly what she should be doing at this age and has no health problems. Then the doctor left and I told her we would have to wait until the nurse came back. (I know the nurse and had already asked, "Are you fast?!")

So in she came and I said, "LB, I have to put you on the table" and she happily agreed. Unlike Ann Catherine, LB isn't at all afraid of going to the doctor and was happy to comply.

Then she saw the nurses laying out the five bandaids. And then she saw the needles.

"Are you going to give me a shot?" she asked with part sadness/part "I knew this was going to happen."

"I am," the nurse said, "but I'll be quick."

"Okay," LB answered sadly. She just sat there. No tears at all.

Had this been Ann Catherine, the wailing would have already begun. She would have screamed and cried and flailed her arms. It would have been all I could do to hold her.

LB did not shed a tear.

I laid her back and she said, "Mommy, will you hold my hands?" I said yes. She tucked her bunny under one arm and Jesse under the other, and just looked at me with the saddest eyes.

Then the needle went in.

And she wailed.

And as I held her hands and watched her cry, I promised her that when this was over I would take her ANYWHERE she wanted to go!

I remember when AC got her 4-year-old shots, she chose to go to Peggy Ann Bakery for cookies.

So I offered that to LB along with ice cream. Just name it and we'll go!

Her choice?

The library.

So we went to the big one downtown and we read all kinds of books. We picked out three for LB and took three home to AC.

I'm telling you, this child is my hero. I told her she was brave and she said, "No I'm not, Mommy! I cried!"

She's brave to me. Give me five shots, and you'll hear me screaming across town!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Best Gift Ever!!

Chris was the first to wake up this morning. He immediately came back into the bedroom.

"The ground is white!" he said.

Chris is always messing with me so I said, "stop it" and rolled back over.

"No, really!" he said. So I hopped up. And sure enough, there it was.

When the kids woke up I said, "Before you go see what Santa left, look out the window."

They did. And they screamed. Especially my native Florida niece and nephew who only see snow on trips to Colorado.

Chris, who has never had a non-white Christmas, has a hard time understanding what the fuss is all about. I told him this morning when you grow up in the south, you go to bed each Christmas Eve praying for snow, only to wake up and see the dreary brown ground.

Finally we got a White Christmas!

So AC's bike...

...and beauty salon were a big hit!

And LB finally got her dollhouse!

She also loved her Tiana dress and Cinderella DVD.

But the white stuff outside? That was the best gift of all!

Chris pulled the girls on the sled,

AC pulled LB,

Ally and Will built snowmen,

and Chris taught AC and LB to throw some mean snowballs!

Don't eat the yellow snow!

At lunch today as we all said what we were thankful for, Chris said, "That my girls finally got to experience a Christmas like I did as a child."

A white Christmas - how wonderful!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Our New Angels

A few weeks ago, I was shopping with a friend for a family we had adopted for Christmas. We walked into Hallmark to see if we could find any devotional books for the mother, and that's when I saw it.

A book called "My Little Angel."

I picked it up and began to read it. And I began to cry.

It's about a little girl who has her very own angel. The angel goes with her wherever she goes. She plays with her and helps her when she's scared or sad.

And the best part? It came with a small angel that you could take out of the book and play with.

I knew, right then, that I had to buy it for Ann Catherine.

I brought it home and showed it to Chris and he said I had to buy one for Lily Baker, too. I did.

We didn't want the books to get lost in the hustle and bustle of Christmas Day, so Chris and I told the girls we had a gift for them to open today (Christmas Eve).

When they opened their books, Ann Catherine cried out, "Melissa!"

Then she hugged me and said, "Mommy, this is the most special gift I've ever been given."

And she meant it.

A few moments later, I found her in her bed with her angel. She was calling her Melissa and talking to her.

My prayer is that this precious angel helps my children as they come to terms with their sister - who she is and where she is.

Ann Catherine said she was going to take her everywhere she goes.

Which is appropriate, because she already does take Melissa everywhere she goes - in her heart.

Later in the evening, we attended Christmas Eve services at church and then came home to my parents' house. Ally and Will read the Christmas story for us, the grandkids put on their hilarious Christmas program (which they had been planning/practicing for two days) and then the grandchildren each opened one gift to hold them over until Christmas morning.

Our Christmas Eve message was called "Hope Alive" and was so appropriate for us. I hurt during this time of year because I miss Melissa so much, but I have hope thanks to the baby who was born all those years ago in Bethlehem. That hope sustains me during the hard times. How wonderful to have that kind of hope!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Close Cousins

These four people could not love each other more.

My niece, Ally, and nephew, Will, are in town for Christmas. And, oh my, are my girls happy!

They especially love hanging out at Mimi and Poppy's house together, but my mom had lots of cooking to do for the holidays so I took them off of her hands Wednesday. We started out having lunch with Ann Catherine on her last day of school.

She was so proud to have Ally and Will there! Next, we picked up LB from her Christmas party at school and headed home. From there, Chris and I took them to the movie "Tangled" followed by dinner at a local favorite. Does it get any better??!

Chris and I took them all through the "Galaxy of Lights" at the Botanical Gardens Monday night. They were in the back of the SUV laughing and giggling and I proclamed to Chris, "See? This is why we need more children!"

To which he promptly told me whenever I get to feeling like that, I should just borrow someone else's children.

He is such a riot.

And then they all started arguing, and I kind of agreed with him. :)

If they could just stay like this forever...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Christmas

This will forever be known to me as 'the Christmas where Ann Catherine really started asking about Melissa.'

Not that she hadn't asked about her before. But this year, Christmas triggered it.

There are so many remembrances of Melissa this time of year. Her stocking on the mantle. The angel at the top of both of our Christmas trees.

It's been an extraordinary three weeks as I have tried my best to answer Ann Catherine's questions.

It all began the weekend of Thanksgiving when we decorated the house for Christmas. The girls love being part of that. First we put up their tree in the kitchen.

It has ornaments that either they have made (to quote my mother, the ones "you wouldn't take a million dollars for") or have been given to them by others.

I love how the ornaments all start low. Once the girls finish, Chris and I always "spread them out."

From there, "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care..."

"...with hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there!"

Next, we put up the "big" tree. Ornaments that hold the sweetest memories...

...hung by the tiniest of hands.

And as always, Chris held Ann Catherine as she put the angel at the top of the tree. My favorite part.

Everything on this tree represents a beautiful memory - memories that span from when Chris was a little boy to our children now. Ornaments given before Chris and I were married and ornaments made by these beautiful little people who we created.

And the angel at the top of the tree represents the most amazing memory of all - Melissa.

I'm sure that's a huge part of why Ann Catherine was full of questions this Christmas. So am I sometimes.

But I thank God for the memories that make it a little easier.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Rainbow is an Angel

I hope Melissa didn't mind sharing her title with Lily Baker. :)

Two weeks ago (yes, I am that behind) LB had her Christmas program. And it was her turn to be an angel.

That's what the three-year-old classes do. I remember when AC was one. I loved it.

And now it was LB's turn. Ann Catherine wanted to go so badly so we checked her out of school. Lily Baker was thrilled that she was there!

With her halo attached snugly to her head, LB and her fellow angels sang "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger." Later in the program, they sang "Joy to the World", "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish you a Merry Christmas" with motions so deliberate I'm surprised a child didn't get knocked out.

Her daddy, Mimi and Poppy joined us to watch and then AC and I snuck up to the front to snap our pictures of the angel. It was a beautiful day.

And I realized how immensely blessed I am this season. I have a beautiful angel in Heaven and two dear angels on Earth. I am one blessed mommy.

Merry Christmas to all three of my angels!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The House that AC Built

Let me just say this up front: I am not crafty.

God has given me certain gifts. Craftiness is not one of them.

Still Ann Catherine and I had a great time building our first Gingerbread House at the Botanical Gardens.

My friend, Brooke, and her daughter Annalyse went with us. The girls had a blast!

As if backing up my claim to NOT be the next Martha Stewart right on cue, our roof promptly fell. We added lots of icing and it held for a while, but by the time we got home, it had fallen again. We asked Chris to break out the super glue.

The other night a commercial came on showing a gingerbread house and I said, "Look Ann Catherine. A gingerbread house like ours!"

To which she replied, "Yes, except their roof didn't fall off."

The most challenging part for me had nothing to do with actually putting this gingerbread house together. It was giving up total control and letting AC do this exactly the way she wanted. She decided what went where. And I kept my mouth shut.

And now for our culinary masterpiece:

Before the roof fell off :)