Shabby Blog Background

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Outgrowing our Children's Toys

There’s a scene in Toy Story 2 that always makes me sad.

It’s when Jessie recounts the story of how her friend and playmate outgrew her. One minute the little girl is spending every waking moment with Jessie, the next minute the doll is under her bed as she giggles and plays with her friends. She is older now, and she has moved on.

I know its fiction, but it always gets me.              

I already see it in Ann Catherine. She deems herself too grown up for some things, as she walks through the house with her earphones on listening to her favorite music.
But, Lily Baker? Oh Lord, thank you for Lily Baker.

At any given moment of any given day, I can find Lily Baker in her room with her gazillion miniature princesses and princes sprawled across the room. She talks to them, plays with them, loves them.
Her favorite is Belle.

I don’t know when Lily Baker first came to love Belle. It just seems it’s always been that way. Yellow is her favorite color, because that’s the color of Belle’s party dress. She loves the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip – all of them. She’s seen Beauty and the Beast so many times she could recite it by heart. And as far as heroines go, Belle’s not bad. She’s smart, loves to read, isn’t a damsel in distress and teaches the beast how to love. Not too shabby. My child’s role models could be worse, you know.

We took the girls to Walt Disney World in April. They were the perfect age. They believe in the magic. By golly, Cinderella actually lives in that giant castle on Main Street. Each night as we walked past, we wondered aloud which bedroom was hers.
But the best part? Watching Lily Baker meet Belle for the first time.

It was at dinner at Cinderella’s Castle. I snapped this picture as Lily Baker saw her from afar for the first time and watched her walk towards our table.

I couldn’t even look at Belle for looking at Lily Baker. Her reaction was priceless. It was worth every single penny we had paid to go there.
It just so happened that Beauty and the Beast was the featured show at Hollywood Studios so Lily Baker got to see it on stage. I don't think she blinked the entire show.

This past weekend we had another first with Belle: Beauty and the Beast in 3D. She had never seen it on the big screen and she was beyond excited.. She insisted on wearing her Belle dress to the theater. Each time her favorite songs came on, I found myself watching her instead of watching the movie. I was overflowing with happiness. It was completely worth the inflated ticket prices and ridiculously priced popcorn.

That’s when I realized something: these memories are as much for me, as they are for her. When I am old and gray and Lily Baker has children of her own, I will see a Belle doll and immediately think of Lily Baker and her love for this princess. I will hear "Be Our Guest" and hear Lily Baker's voice singing it. I will immediately be transported to a time long ago – a time when Lily Baker called her sister “Ann Caf-rine,” a time when she begged to wear dress-up clothes each time we went to the grocery store, a time where it made complete sense to her that Belle could talk to household objects, like a candlestick and clock. A time that now seems so crazy and rushed, but I have a feeling when I reflect back, I’ll long for that craziness.

Maybe our children’s childhood toys – those they absolutely cherish – are more for us than them. Maybe God is giving us memories as well, a reminder when they are older of how wonderful life was when they actually believed in princesses and fairytales.
One day, Belle may find her way under Lily Baker’s bed as she giggles with her friends, painting their nails.

When it does, I’ll still remember her.
I think Lily Baker will, too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hockey with Heart!

I'll never forget when the Huntsville Havoc approached us five years ago about doing a fundraiser for Melissa's Fund.

The players were going to wear pink jerseys. PINK!! I just couldn't imagine those tough guys wearing pink jerseys.

They did. And they were such good sports about it. Before the game, Chris took Ann Catherine into the locker room and told them all about her and Melissa. He told them about their brave fight in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. He told them how Melissa's fight ended way too early. He told them how Ann Catherine beat the odds to finally come home to us 68 days later. He told them how the auction of those pink jerseys would allow us to give other parents - parents just like us - hope.

When he finished, those players understood why they were wearing those pink jerseys. They played their hearts out, won in front of a packed crowd and we raised $65,000 in one night as we auctioned off those stinky, smelly - and in some cases, bloody - jerseys.

I'll never forget that night as long as I live.

Lily Baker was only two-months-old. The pain of losing Melissa was still so fresh. But on that night, we realized the impact Melissa's Fund could have on those precious babies and their families.

We learned that this town's hockey community didn't just love hockey. They love giving back. And Chris and I are beyond humbled at the way they have embraced the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

We are so grateful to the Huntsville Havoc front office who put their heart and soul into this event. We are grateful that they have chosen to partner with us for the last five years to help premature babies and their families.

(Ann Catherine and her daddy dropping the puck at last year's game)

If you've come to this special night before, we hope you'll come again this year. If you haven't been before, clear your calendar for this Saturday night and join us. I promise you won't regret it!

The first 1,000 fans to bring an item for the NICU will receive a Havoc/Melissa George Fund water bottle. What to bring? Premature clothing, booties, hats or disposable cameras. Why disposable cameras? We leave them at the baby's bedside so nurses can take pictures of them when the parents aren't around. In fact, Ann Catherine received her very first bath at night. I wasn't there. But thanks to our nurse, and our disposable camera, I have a picture of it. That, my friends, is priceless.

Your support of Melissa's Fund means more than you'll ever know. For the past five years, hundreds of families have been on the receiving end of your kindness. You may never meet them, but please know that you have made an impact on their life.

Thank you from one very grateful family. We'll see you Saturday night!