Hospital – Day 4

So many evidences of God’s presence were with us yesterday. {NOT THAT I NEED THESE SIGNS TO BELIEVE – but they sure are consoling!!!!} If I were to go in to them all at once in this post I would sound like an overexcited little kid rambling about EVERYTHING I saw on my first trip to the circus, “And then… !!!! And then… !!!!! And then… !!!!! And and and and!!!!”

One of the most poignant assurances happened when our second surgeon introduced himself to us. After a lengthy discussion about the procedure that Nora was about to undergo he noticed William’s TEAM MITCH shirt. {I had talked about Team Mitch in the Lots o Pictures post and last year’s Pigs Do Fly post, of which Nora was added as an honorary member.} The T-shirt William had on was vintage and didn’t have Nora’s name listed on them yet, but these are the shirts from the year Nora was born:

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After William explained the shirt, it turns out that this surgeon knows the McLaughlin family well. Their young daughters are very good friends. In absolutely no instance of “coincidence” at that EXACT MOMENT OF CONNECTION (2:52 PM) Maria (Mitch’s wife) texted me a picture of her aforementioned daughter standing next to a big giant PINK Hello Kitty and reminding me that God’s got this, not to let satan distract me, and to let our guardian angels handle this.
(tearful breath of absolute awe in the knowledge that all the right people were in place at just the right time!!)

I think it’s safe to say that Mitch is looking out for his little Team Mitch buddy!!!!!! This was the 2nd occurrence of the day that involved Mitch — both impossible to ignore or dispute.

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As I explained in yesterday’s post, Nora’s surgery had been bumped. She didn’t actually end up going down to the OR until about 3:45. We waited patiently in the stark empty room, void of our baby and her big girl hospital bed, thankful for the distraction of sweet friends who work here and our nurse.

The phone finally rang a little after 5 where one of the members of the surgical team explained that they were in the process of closing her back up. Everything looked good. Even though we knew we weren’t out of the woods by any means, William and I hugged, cried and gave mighty thanks and praise to God. We wanted to wait until we had the full story from the surgeon before we publicly declared anything, but thus far things were looking good!

Immediately after surgery Nora had a pulmonary hypertensive crisis which prolonged her stay in the OR. Fortunately they got it under control and they were able to bring her back up to the CICU around 7 pm. We were a little taken off guard when they quickly ushered us out into the waiting room and told us that it would be about an hour, maybe more before we could see her. They assured is this was just standard procedure. And so we waited. Finally around 8:30 we got to go back to see her. She was still very sedated, but her belly was sewn back up and she looked much better than she did with everything opened up. The report: Nora’s belly wasn’t exactly the PINK that we were all hoping and praying for, but it will be. It was pretty bruised up still, but it will heal and none of it was necrotic!!!!! PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE GOD!!!! Her g-tube was placed without complication and her intestines all looked really good. They did note some damage to her spleen and her pancreas. However, it was such a minimal amount they don’t expect that to cause any longterm problems down the road. While her surgery was a great success – the concern was now shifted to her heart and lungs. For a child without a heart and lung condition, it would be a tremendous undertaking to have undergone TWO major surgeries within 48 hours of each other. She basically had just run a marathon and was now needing this time to rest and recouperate.

Around 9:30 Nora experience some more pulmonary hypertension issues. Her sats were dropping steadily. They bagged her for a few minutes so they could see what settings needed to be adjusted on the vent and that seemed to improve things just a little bit.

Things were steady enough for me to go to try and get some sleep in one of the parent rooms, but no sooner had I layed down I got a text from William that Nora was having trouble. I tossed on my slides and scuried back to her room in my pajamas, people running past me to get to her room. I was scared. The lights were on full blast and the room was full of people. William stood back with fear in his eyes as they bagged her and suctioned her. I was grabbing at words to pray as I raced to his side, my heart beating out of my chest. “Come on baby girl!!!!! Come on!!!!!!” They called out orders to one another, rushing about the room, still suctioning, still manually ventilating her. Time stood still. We watched and we prayed. Suddenly the heavy pall was lifted from the room as the nurse suctioning held up a big “loogie” (medical terminology for mucus plug) that had every right to be accompanied by a celestial harp strum. There was a collective sigh of relief from all of us. Nora’s breathing was no longer labored. Her oxygen sats and CO2 levels recovered to normal levels and people began slowly streaming out of the room.

Today has been a very good day. There have been very few issues. They’ve had to increase her morphine a little bit, but she’s been able to come off of the epinephrine and calcium. She’s also been upgraded to a less critical state!! Things are headed in the right direction!! LIttle bitty baby steps!!!

For the most part, Nora is pretty sedated, but she did have some long periods of semi-consciousness. She was opening her eyes a little bit and turning her sweet fuzzy little head toward the sound of our voices. She’s been moving her arms and legs around a little bit too and had to get some soft little restraints around her wrists to prevent her from grabbing at her amassment of tubes and wires. It’s so strange to have these days absent of squeals and babbles. We miss Happy Baby so so bad, but we know she’ll be back. She is one TOUGH baby!!!!!

Three birds on the wallpaper border of Nora’s room:
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Heart sun from my sister who pulled over to take this picture:
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Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Post Surgery – Day 2

Nora had a good night last night, all things considered. We were forewarned that the first night after a major surgery like this is often rocky. It wasn’t and we are beyond thankful for that. Today they are only working on keeping her stable, which doesn’t seem to be much of an effort. Her precious little body is doing everything that it is supposed to.

I’m not going to post pictures of her for awhile because she’s been pretty beat up. Here’s a sweet picture of her little hand:

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Things were really, really, really, horrifically awful yesterday. Nora was in septic shock. There was NO time to wait for the IV access team to arrive and even when they did get there, they too had a VERY hard time accessing any of her veins. Everything was shutting down. We counted 22 poke marks in her groin – and those are ones not under the Band-aid. In desperation they had to drill into the bone of her shins to get fluids into her. I am crying as I write this. She didn’t even flinch. William was right by her side and said he had seen this happen on TV as a last ditch effort to save a downed soldier while he was gettting helicoptered out of a war zone. Nora is certainly our little soldier and we were definitely in a war zone as we battled FIERCELY for her life. She was emergently intubated in the shock and trauma bay as they continued to give her fluids. After what seemed like an eternity, she was finally stabilized and brought up to the old familiar CICU. Things were so urgent that they were going to do the surgery right then and there, but they finally decided that she was stable enough to bring her down to the OR. And so we waited. Thank you Mom and Dad, Jesica and Tommy for allowing yourselves to be “hijacked by the Holy Spirit” as Jesica put it to be with us and to pray with us during that terrifying time.

Nora is hooked up to a billion tubes and wires and for now has an open wound just below her sternum extending through belly button and stopping just below it. The wound is covered with clear bandaging and is really scary looking, so I won’t share pictures of her right now.

As I said, Nora had a good night last night. We did end up getting some rest as our adrenaline storms subsided. Keeping her stable is the only course of action for today.

This morning as I approached her bedside to stroke her sweet hair, I smiled at a ray of sunshine that was LOUDLY and BOLDLY shining across her stomach. Its gentle warmth shined upon her, the hand of God, “I’ve got this!!! I’ve got this!!!” The Venetian blinds were closed too, I might add, but this ray of sunshine found its way to her right in the spot that needs healing. This is only a part of it which slightly resembled a heart: 20140519-113614-41774915.jpg

Tomorrow they will do more surgery. Please join us in specifically praying for nice PINK tissue. It is understandable if some parts can’t be salvaged, but we have witnessed countless miracles with this baby. God has shown through Nora that ANYTHING is possible.

One of the first messages I saw on Facebook this morning contained such encouragement for Nora along with these verses:

Good morning, precious Nora!
It is a day that the Lord has made. We will be glad and rejoice in it.

God loves you. And his love began even before you were born! “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”
(Psalm 139:13)

Every minute of every day, God is thinking about you and planning good things for you.
(Psalm 139:16-18)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

God knows you through and through – and loves you anyway. There is nothing you can do to make him love you more… or less. You are the apple of his eye!
(Zechariah 2:8)

God is with always with you, no matter where you go or what you face. You will never be alone; he is always with you in the midst of daily struggles and trials. “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”
(Joshua 1:9)

God especially designed you, just as you are.

God bless you precious, and may His face shine upon you.

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I got out of bed and fell onto my knees onto the cold floor in the dark, crying and thanking God for these words of truth and wisdom, for the knowledge that my baby girl had made it through the night.

I didn’t even realize until I just typed it out right now – – that last part: MAY HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU.

HOW IN THE WORLD CAN ANYBODY POSSIBLY POSSIBLY THINK THAT SUN RAY THIS MORNING WAS A COINCIDENCE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no more words. PLEASE watch this:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Almost 41 years ago, I made my entrance into this world, bestowing the title of “Mom” onto the beautiful young woman who God designated to take on this daunting task. Today I say THANK YOU and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to that exceptional, world-class woman, my Mom. I love you so much!

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Almost 21 years ago I chose to take on the bittersweet title of “birth mother”. It was a decision that didn’t come lightly or easily. Sensible Brain and Broken Heart argued for 9 months, often till wee hours of the morning. My pillow was reduced to a sopping battlefield of tears as one warred against the other. My broken heart eventually surrendering to sensibility.

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Another woman’s words, “She will always know you love her,” eased my sadness as I placed her baby girl in her loving open arms. Today I say THANK YOU and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to S.’s Mom, another exceptional, world-class woman.

Nearly 11 years later and 11 years ago a robust 8 pound little man grabbed up at my tear-streaked face as he was placed on my chest, screaming and wailing. I ardently embraced my SON and the awareness that I was his MOM!

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After several long and sleepless months of colic and crying the treasures of motherhood were finally revealed. This bald-headed, inquisitive little boy, his dimpled little fingers nestled in the palm of my hand–he would grow up to be a smart and funny kid, kind and loving, “everybody’s buddy”, as he’s known.

Fast forward to 2005 on a lovely, untroubled Spring afternoon, we received the news from the ultrasound tech that we were expecting a little GIRL! “What am I going to do with a little GIRL?!” I giggled to myself! I had become well-versed in the concerns of choo choo trains, airplanes, diggers, Hot Wheels, fire engines and trucks. I smiled at the prospect of pink dresses, tutus and tea parties.

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She arrived with the sunrise and has been a ray of sunshine in our lives ever since. Her compassionate heart and her kind soul are what make her truly beautiful.

We had our boy, we had our girl and all was right with the world.

The rest of our story is before you on the pages of this blog. The days of excruciating fear and worry threatening to crush me beneath their weight. The times of ebullient joy spinning and whirling my soul off into the cloudless blue yonder. They are all here and all a part of this great journey of Motherhood.

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Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the mothers out there! A special hug to the mothers who are without their babies and children today. And a special hug to the ones who are without their mothers. May God bless you especially so today. May you be comforted by the beautiful reunions that await you one glorious day.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:4, 5 NIV)

“Happy Mudder’s Day from meeeee!!”

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Lots o’ Pictures!

“Aw, Hi! It’s me, Norns! Deez are some pictures and tings from before my birfday. Mommy wanted to dedicate the last post to just my birfday, so she left deez off. But I can share dem now.”

“Dis ting is someting Mommy created for me to play wif in da baff. It was fun for one day until Mommy realized the chains will rust in the waters. Mommy rigged up some new tings for me. Enen I play wif da chains NOT in da waters.”

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And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 NIV)

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“I’m just hanging out in my nest wif my afghan watching Matlock!”

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“Eenen I like to hang out on my Mommy.”

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Give us each day our daily bread.
(Luke 11:3 NIV)

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“Um, can I just please have some daily milks?”

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And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
(2 John 1:6 NIV)

“I like to go for walks in love!”

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“So do my brudder and my mudder!”

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“You can’t even begin to imagines how sweet my skin smells! My brudder can’t get enough sniffs!”

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“Me n’ my sister!”

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“SHHHHHH!!!! I go night nights!”

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“Deez are pictures from spring break when my brudder n sister had no schools. Dey went wif Mommy to watch the airplanes over at the airport.”

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“Mommy loves me like crazy.”

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“My brudder helps me drink my milks. Dat’s da only ting I like to eat.”

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“Dis is my wash cloth. See it?”

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“Mommy n Daddy took brudder n sister bowling one afternoon during spring break. We can’t travel so much because of some tings, so Mommy n Daddy tried to get out and do fun things locally wif doze big kids.”

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“Mommy is an amazing bowler.”

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“Daddy an my brudder are straight up playaz!!!” (in Claire’s)

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“I don’t got time for none of dat. I’ll be napping in my NEST, straight up.”

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“I’d like to buy a vowel, please?”

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‘Mommy makes homemade apple pie. I hear it’s delicious, but I still just prefer the milks.”

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“Dis is Greta wif Mommy and Gavin at IKEA waiting in line for Swedish meatballs with her fancy glasses she got the other day from Claire’s. I tink she’s real pretty.”

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“Ennen when dey get home dey go down into da creek to play and hunt for treasures.”

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“Will someone please pass the milks?”

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“I’ll just be standing over here waiting….”

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“Mkay. I’m in da baff. No more pickshers please!!”

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“I had to go visit Dr. E so he could check on my sweet ears. Miss Kate came along wif us so she could keep an eye on me in da back seat while Mommy drived — you know, incase I needed spankinz. My ears looked fine, but I tink I must’ve misplaced one of my tubes. Dr. E dinnint see it anywhere in my little elf ear. Hmmm….”

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“Aaah! It sure is good to be home!!”

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“Mommy and Daddy out on a date.”
(We seek out quaint little restaurants in quaint little towns — preferrably river towns so we can do a scenic drive along the river. Here we are at The Courtyard in Rising Sun, Indiana. We will definitely go back to this one!)

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LOVE.

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“Me n’ Mommy sit out on the back deck sometimes when it’s real nice out. I need a big sun umbrella.”

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“I get real tired sometimes when I go for walks!”

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“I’m well rested so I can play wif my sister!”

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“Mommy n Daddy went on a hike to see if they could find the source of the creek that runs past our house.

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“It was all fun and games till Mommy got her pigtails pulled by Nature.” #whiplash

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Love is sweet!

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Love holds us together!

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Love is our rock!

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“Two kids on Mommy’s shoulders.”

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“Mommy is in Gavin’s hair!!!”

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LOVE.

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LOVE.

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LOVE!

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“I like da waters too, but I’d rather be in baff waters.”

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“Ooooooooh. Here I am at the eye doctor. Doze people put stinkin drops in my eyes eenen everyting is way too bright and I don’t like dat.”

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“Would you look at dis?I?I? Dis is what happened in APRIL a couple days before my birfday. You’re doing it WRONG, Spring!!!!!”

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“Mommy sees lots of hearts in the sugars!”

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“Here’s a blue jay riding around on a squirrel’s back.” #cameratricks

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“The snow has melted and the trees are budding.”

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“An I’m budding into a big giant baby girl dat my sister can hardly hold anymore!”

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“We had our friends over to dye Easter eggs on Friday night. Dey had quite da production going!”

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“Brudder.”

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“An I got to dye an eggy too!!!!!”

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“Eenen Mommy drewed my name on my eggy!”

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Masterpieces!

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“Deez are pictures AFTER my birfday. I tink I’ve got dis “Being 2-Years-Old Ting” figured out. And maybe Mommy could get her phone camera figured out so we can get rid of these stupid spots that keep showing up on all of my pictures!!”

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“I got so many cards and moneys and pretty new clothes and night gowns and pajamas and toys for my birthday! Tank you so much! I feel so very loved! Look what a big girl I am in my pretty dress (above) and my princess night gown (below)! “

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“I don’t typically watch a lot of TV, but I got dis new television set and I DVRed a couple of programs. One is a show about the London Bridge. It fell down or someting? And da other show is about gentle boat rowing. I kinda like watching deez shows over and over and over again.” 

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“My Mommy an my Oma went out to lunch on a pretty spring afternoon an they got to sit outsides! If I was wif dem I would have just ordered da milks. Dat stuff’s delicious.”

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“Dere’s a new movie out. You might not have heard of it before. It’s called Frozens or someting? It’s about sisters! So of course I like to watch dis show wif MY sister. My sister loves me an protects ME too! I like to listen to my sister sing da songs. She knows ALL da words!”

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“Last Sunday I stayed home wif my Kelly while everyone went to my little cousin Parker’s baptism. Me n my Kelly like some girl time, so dat’s cool!”

“Yes, Mommy shamelessly stole dis picture from Aunt Sarah’s Facebook page, but since Mommy took the picture with Aunt Sarah’s camera, is dat really stealing?”

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“Happy baptism, Parker cousin!”

“Daddy an Gavin out in Uncle Bill’s old paddle boat. We sure miss Uncle Bill.”

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Cousinly love!

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Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
(Song of Solomon 2:12 NIV)

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)

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“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

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Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.
(Hebrews 13:1 NIV)

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Nora had her two-year appointment with Dr. B on the 29th of April. She is doing very well but for the fact that she’s had an increase in oxygen needs over the previous weeks. She may have some allergy congestion (which would be easiest to explain since no one else in the house is sick!). But even when she’s had a cold in the past she’s never needed to be on this much oxygen apart from the pneumonia episode. She’s eating great, she’s gaining weight, she has had no fevers and for the most part is a happy little girl! Her home nurses have not noted any abnormal sounds on her lungs that would indicate pneumonia either, which is a relief. Our best guess is that Nora’s Lasix dosing may need to be adjusted. She’s still on the same amount as when she was tiny. Her cardiologist has also been alerted to these changes, but since she has no other serious symptoms, he is okay waiting until the next scheduled appointment to assess her on May 15.

Daddy got some extra lovings and cuddles in before this poor girl got 3 routine vaccination shots in her little leggies. She didn’t like that.

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Nora in her stander during a physical therapy session ~

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Mommy & Daddy’s little cutie ~

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Mommy & Daddy’s big cuties ~

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Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
(John 15:4 NIV)

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Real busy with some things ~

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Real sleepy with Mommy ~

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It’s Greta’s turn to cuddle with her little sister ~

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“Afore long, I can have some piggytails! My hairs get long!”

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Meanwhile, bubbled wigs are all the rage!

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Water drop heart on Nornor’s arm ~

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Norns went for a long walk in circles around the house in her stander. She tolerated it for about 45 minutes which is a new record!

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“You see all my chins? I’m chinny.”

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On Sunday morning, Nora’s oxygen needs drastically increased. She was needing almost 2 Liters to keep her oxygen saturations in the low 90s while she was awake. I had the car packed and we were 2 seconds away from bringing her in to the ER. (Of course this stuff ALWAYS happens on a weekend.) While we were waiting for a call back from our pediatrician I got out my little green bottle of holy water that my Grandma brought back from a trip to Lourdes in 1992 – as her handwriting indicates on its label. I rubbed it on Nora’s chest, over her lungs and prayed over her. Scenes from our 2 week stay up at Children’s replayed in my mind and I wanted to run screaming off the edge of the earth. It’s during these times that I feel like we are driving around with an atomic bomb in the trunk. Any little bump in the road threatens to blow everything up into smithereens, snuffing out Life As We Know It. When I finally take a deep breath, pull over and “look in the trunk” there is no bomb. Instead of heading back to the driver’s seat, I slink over to the passenger’s side and sit down in the place I’ve needed to be all along.

He whispers,
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

After speaking with Dr. B, he was okay with us staying home. He prescribed Cefdinir (antibiotic) to see if that would alleviate any of her congestion on the chance that this was not allergy related. This was an antibiotic that Nora responded well to in the past. True to form, she took it again without any issues. By that evening she was on 3/4 of a Liter which is the lowest she’s been on in weeks. There is no way the antibiotic could have taken effect that quickly which only points toward the incredible, supernatural healing power of prayer.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7-8)

Unfortunately Nora’s medical concerns coincided with the Flying Pig marathon. Nora is an honorary member of Team Mitch which was established in memory of Mitch McLaughlin who passed away very suddenly in 2006 at 30-years-old. This extraordinary group of family and friends come together each year to commemorate Mitch through their mutual love of running. We are blessed and honored to cheer them on. Last year, Nora partook in the 5K with Kate R. (one of Nora’s long time caregivers, and Mitch’s sister-in-law) and her husband John and friend Courtney. We had planned on joining up with everyone at the Team Mitch after-party, but weren’t able to do so. We were all wearing our Team Mitch shirts and cheering everyone on from our living room. We hope and pray we can be there next year!

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
(Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Nora is TWO!

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So here we are with a big giant 2 year old little girl. Nora’s birthday was April 17th and I am astounded at how fast the time has gone by. I look back to those scary newborn days and can hardly believe how far Nora has come; how far we have come.

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One of our awesome nurses, Kate C. getting us ready to be discharged from the hospital ~ April 2012

As we left the hospital that sunny afternoon, we stepped blindly out onto the dark water as Peter did. Jesus beckoned us forth with arms outstretched. Taking a baby home from the hospital who was SUPPOSEDLY “incompatible with life” certainly made about as much sense as walking on water. “How in the world are we supposed to do this????” we pleaded. It was an outrageous proposition! We weren’t equipped with a medical background. We did not possess some sort of super-human strength necessary to steady ourselves on a surface that couldn’t possibly hold us, defying the very laws of nature.

Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
(Matthew 14:29 NIV)

Looking back over the past two years at the raging winds we have encountered along the way, I’d have to say I responded much in the same way that Peter did — with that aptly described “sinking” feeling that accompanied the earaches, the tachycardia, the tube surgery, her 2 week long hospitalization with 3 viruses all at once, the list goes on and on. Each and every time, Jesus reached out his loving hand and caught me, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Back in our “boat” the winds have ceased for now. We give thanks and praise to God, exclaiming as the apostles did, “Truly you are the son of God.”

“You’ve never failed and you won’t start now.”

Nornor woke up happy and squealy on her second birthday. She drank some milks and then headed up for a nice relaxing birthday baff.

(Sidenote: Norns and the bathtub aren’t covered in weird spots. There is some “schmootz” on the inside of my camera lens, which I assume is a direct result of my phone’s deadly frolic with the washing machine. As of yet, I haven’t built up enough courage to brave the Apple Store.)

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Eggy heart

We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19 NIV)

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Norns was unimpressed with the birthday fru fru fracas that suddenly descended upon her.

“Ohhhh, Mommy!!! Get dis crap off me!!”

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We had a small celebration at home. Greta invited a friend over “so Nora could have some kids at her party”. Greta is happy to share friends with her little sister! Here we are singing Happy Birthday:

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A couple more friends of Greta’s stopped by with adorable hand made cards!

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It was an exceptionally beautiful sunrise on Easter morning. How apropos for the day of the risen Son ~

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The kids partook in a lengthy search for their Easter baskets that finally concluded when Gavin found his in the garage. In the car.

Shortly after church, we headed over the river and through the woods to Nana & Papa’s house. Nora’s second-2nd birthday celebration took place there with my extended family.

The weather was perfect for sitting outside!

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… Unless you took your sunglasses off and it’s just way too bright!

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Nora’s beautiful cake from Bon Bonerie!

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Delectable Easter cookies that Aunt Diane made from my grandfather’s recipe of Koester’s Bakery fame!

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Nornor and her Kelly ~

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WELCOME TO HOLLAND
by Emily Perl Kingsley.

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it).
(Romans 11:36 AMP)

Big Girl

April 1st

“Has anyone seen Nora? No one knows where she went……”

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“April Fools!! Dat was me!!”

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“I tricked my whole family and da whole community on April Fool’s Day wif my disguise!”

Nora is so tricky!! She really had us going! We couldn’t get much information from this “other” baby in strange glasses! Those teeth looked sooo familiar though!!!

Meanwhile back in March ~

By St. Patrick’s Day, Nora’s cold was definitely showing improvement. Even though she doesn’t have an ounce of Leprechaun in her blood, she was more than happy to celebrate the occasion. Plus it was her 23 month birthday!

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Incase you missed this video on Nora’s Facebook page, here she is wishing everyone a Happy St. Patty’s Day with green boogies! Her squeaker was still broken ~


Now that her cold has finally come to an end, we are all literally and figuratively breathing easier!

Here is Nora on a trip into the kitchen in her special chair ~

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I sporadically decided to surprise Gavin at lunch that afternoon. He’s my buddy boy! I worried that he might suddenly one day become “too cool” to have lunch with his parents in the school cafeteria. I love this boy!

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On St. Patrick’s Day we listened to Celtic music during dinner. If I had the ability to preplan and organize anything in advance – perhaps I would have whipped up some shepherds pie or corned beef? Theme music to accompany the dinner or occassion is very important here at our house. For instance, on taco night(s) we listen to mariachi music (sombreros are on my shopping list). In the picture below we were eating pork chops with red cabbage and spätzle, which of course called for some POLKA. Greta was appropriately dressed with Gavin’s Bavarian hat. What’s the sense in having “normal” dinners, I wonder? 😉

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March 18th was Trisomy 18 Awareness Day. Nora and I posted this on Facebook to honor the day ~

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With this precious, animated, life-loving baby a part of our lives, it saddens me that the option to terminate her life was presented. I’m not pointing any fingers or placing any blame. It is a part of nearly every family’s story who has been given the prenatal diagnosis of trisomy 18. Some families take that route because they are pressured into believing that they are doing the right thing for their baby. They are misled into believing their baby will not have any quality of life. It is also a decision that is made out of fear. Generally speaking, people tend to fear what they don’t know or understand. With the rarity of trisomy 18, many doctors have little or no experience with the condition. I am not a doctor, but I can imagine that it might be a little frustrating or intimidating (frightening even for them as well?) to be presented with a case that in all likelihood they can’t “fix” or “cure”. I will say that when we made the decision to continue my pregnancy with Nora, my awesome obstetrician was visibly relieved and was fully supportive of that decision.

So here we are with Trisomy 18 Awareness Day, the purpose of which is to dispel the myths surrounding the diagnosis. Here are some general facts and information about Trisomy 18:

– Trisomy 18 is also known as Edward’s syndrome.

– Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46 chromosomes. Trisomy 18 is a triplicate of the 18th chromosome. (Sidenote: Down’s syndrome is a triplicate of the 21st chromosome and and also known as trisomy 21.)

– Trisomy 18 affects 1 in 7,000 live born infants.

– Trisomy 18 is not inherited.

– Trisomy 18 is not caused by something the parents did “wrong”.

– The third chromosome can be passed on from the mother or the father.

– Trisomy 18 can affect anyone and does not discriminate by age, ethnicity, or economic status.

– There are no cases of trisomy 18 that are exactly alike. It is unfair to assume that “one size fits all” with treatment plans and options.

– Children with trisomy 18 are so very much more than a diagnosis. They each add inestimable value to their families and to those who have the privilege of knowing them, no matter how long or short their lives.

Does this look like a little girl who has no quality of life?

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Heart sightings ~

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March 21st we got to see Wicked at the Aronoff. This was a Christmas present to the big kids (including KelKel) and an anniversary present to Nana & Papa. We had so much fun! We saw a sun rainbow on our way across the bridge into Ohio on our way there.

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That Saturday we got a special visit from Aunt Em and Uncle Josh all the way from Cleveland, Ohio! Uncle Josh was busy playing basketball outside with Gavin and missed photo opportunities!

“Dat’s my Aunt Em?”

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“Yeah. Dat’s my Aunt Em. I love my Aunt Em!!!”

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“Tanks for coming to visit me, Aunt Em & Uncle Josh! I sure do miss you and wish you lived closer to me.”

“Oh! Look! Der’s me in my mirror.”

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“Holy smokes! Did you guys see all my chins?????!!!!!!!!”

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Later that afternoon Greta and I went down for some creek therapy ~

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Playing in the creek never gets boaring!

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Sunday the 23rd we got together with the Familie for a much anticipated Rouladin dinner (incredible, mouth watering, favoritest of favorite German cuisines) at one of the German societies. Gavin & Greta were excited to see their cousins. They partook in some early Easter celebrations – hangin’ with their peeps.

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We had some live accordion music to accompany this fabulous dinner! It really doesn’t get any better!

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Nora had a busy, busy week after our busy busy weekend.

“How’s dis bunny outfit look on me? I wonder if da bunny will come to visit me?”

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The following Monday Nora had an appointment for a renal ultrasound. She gets an ultrasound of her kidneys and liver to detect any signs of something called Wilms tumors that children with trisomy 18 are susceptible to. When caught early these types of tumors are very treatable. Nora has never shown any symptoms, but we choose to remain proactive in her healthcare.

“Hi, Lady! You wanna see some hula moves?”

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Later on that same afternoon, a nurse paid a visit to give Nora her very last ever synagis shot (RSV vaccine). As part of the procedure, Nora needs to be weighed to ensure she’s getting the correct dosage. As you can see here, we’ve got a real big girl on our hands. She’ll just go on ahead and kick back on this little tiny scale pretending to be a tiny infant.

“Oh, wahhhh! I’m so so little! Someone swaddle me!!! Waaaaa!!!”

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She weighed in at 23 pounds, got a shot in each leg and settled right down in just a couple of minutes because she’s big now.

Nora got a real sweet heart in the mail from her friend Catherine in North Carolina.

“Tank you, Caffrinn! I love you too!!”

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“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3)

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God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
(1 John 4:16)

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Here is Nora engaging in some belly time during her physical therapy session. She will tolerate being on her belly a little longer if we can distract her with being in motion — on wheels! She would really like for Living Room Bobsledding to be added as a sport in the Special Olympics.

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Ohhhh, look at all that sweet, sweet fuzz.

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“Hey! Don’t make fun of my fuzz!!”

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Last Thursday morning I placed my phone on top of a pile of laundry in the laundry basket that I was bringing downstairs. I said out loud to myself, “Do. Not. Wash. The. Phone.” Somehow in the middle of making scrambled eggs, sausage, cinnamon toast, packing lunches, unloading the dishwasher, administering antibiotics and vitamins, signing papers, washing bottles, breaking up fights, loading the dishwasher, fixing hair, untying knotted shoelaces and Windexing the kitchen table my phone ended up in the washer as I absent-mindedly tossed in a load of laundry. I had just got the big kids out the door and up to the bus stop and sat down to eat my own breakfast in peace and quiet while Nora was still asleep. I rustled around for my phone to check the weather when suddenly the horrible realization that my phone was in the middle of the spin cycle dawned on me, “Noooooo!!!” (A sprint to the laundry room shown in dramatic slow motion). Yes indeed… There was my unconscious, barely breathing, April Fresh phone. As it turns out, I ran and did the very thing I later learned you SHOULD NOT EVER do after your phone has been immersed in water. I plugged it in to see if that would help, which put it at risk for short circuiting. Oops. Meanwhile I’m FREAKING out that I had just lost all my pictures, calendars, contacts, text messages, ETC. Thank goodness for iCloud – I did not lose anything!!! If you ever find yourself as the unfortunate owner of a waterlogged phone, here is the advice I gleaned in my quest for its revival: leave the phone turned off and do not plug it in. Put it in a sealed container of uncooked rice and some silica gel beads (those delicious-looking and enticing DO NOT EAT packets that come with new shoes, etc.) Or you can use the silica gel capsules that came with your daughter’s hearing aide kit………… Allow the phone to convalesce for a couple of days. After a day or two, hold your breath, say a prayer, plug it in and turn it on.

By God’s grace and mercy my phone sputtered back to life. There were still some water marks visible beneath the screen, so I kept it on rice for a little while longer.

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It’s been a little over a week now. The water marks have since faded and all seems to be well!

“Phones don’t like water?? I don’t unnerstand dat one bit.”

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She gets a real kick out of things!

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Happy Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds! It’s Nora Rosie Red!

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Nora cheered on the Reds from home while Daddy and Brudder were at the game representin’.

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And now without further delay, I would like to introduce you to our little standing girl!!

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Nora went to Redwood School to see if she’d have any interest in a stander. Not only was she interested, she was downright excited!

She’ll stand corrected!

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We should be able to have it for her by next week after all of the paperwork and everything is processed!


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Be blessed!!

PRETTY

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She’s pretty popular, and pretty congested. Nora has the cold that we tried so hard to protect her from. Her oxygen requirements have increased and we had to get the dreaded suction machine out in addition to the Nose Fridas. She’s getting a couple of warm baths a day and we’ve got her feet lubed up with some essential oils (thank you for those, Katie H!!).

Sacked out early this morning ~
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A relaxing menthol bubble baff ~
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Today (Sunday) is Day 4 of this cold. She’s definitely on the mend and is in much better spirits, which was noticeable yesterday. She’s been very playful, but sadly her “squeaker” is broken, as Daddy put it. Her sweet little voice is hoarse!

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I was frantic with worry for the first couple of days and barely slept at all Thursday night. I commented that I’m soooo good about “fixing” other people’s anxieties, and then there I was pacing the floors and stomping my feet at God. I was momentarily knocked down, but I don’t stay there for long. I got back up on my feet. I reined my thoughts back in from their savage escapade with satan, “I trust you, Jesus! I trust you, Jesus! I trust you, Jesus….” and began to breathe again.

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“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
(John 14:1)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
(Psalm 56:3)

Drawing from Greta ~
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Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27)

Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
(Luke 12:26)

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

The onset of the cold on Thursday overshadowed the excitement of Nora’s new pink sparkly hearing aide acquisition!

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It was recommended that we try them out even though they would really only be of benefit in a classroom setting (or the like). Nora was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss when she had her tubes put in back in September. This means that she may have trouble hearing soft consonants such as F and S sounds. However, since we are always in very close range when talking to her, she likely hears them. Nora without a doubt responds to different sounds.

When the hearing aides were first put on she was very quiet and alert. As it is, she is very interested and drawn to male voices (especially that of her Papa’s – and Matlock’s). She was really absorbed by the audiologist’s voice and listened intently for a few minutes. Then she figured out how to get her little finger under the tube and out it went! “Ehhhhh… No tanks!”

We’ve been instructed to let her spend a little time in them each day, gradually building on that time as she gets used to them. So we shall see! — And Nora shall hear?

Here are some pictures from the previous week(s) before Nora got her cold ~

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Pulling Mommy’s hair!!!
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“I still got deez dang teef coming in! Dey hurt my mouf!!”
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“I get some sister n brudder lovinz. I like dat!!”
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The ice in the trees sure was pretty to look at…
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But we’ll be kicked back in the warm baff, if it’s all the same.
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Daddy found a jelly heart!
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This is Nora’s new therapy chair on loan! It’s not the prettiest of contraptions, but it is great for getting her to sit up straight. In her Bumbo chair she has a tendency to throw her head back a lot and she kind of sinks down into it without having to use much of her abdominal muscles. The straight back of this chair keeps her sitting upright. It does have wheels on the bottom of it. I foresee some trips to the piano with her sister!

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She doesn’t like this chair for too terribly long, but she is getting a little better about it!

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One afternoon while I was working on the timeline video for Kelly’s Dad’s funeral and Kelly was sad in the living room, Gavin came running inside. “Come look at this rainbow!!” he yelled. I glanced out the window to confirm that it wasn’t raining. I went out on the front porch fully expecting to see one of the rainbow spots that show up to the right or the left of the sun in a patch of clouds as I used to see a lot of. Instead there was this — not a cloud in sight:

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It was well above the sun – and not to the side of it. You almost had to stare directly into the sun to see it, and it was arching in the opposite direction of the sun – an “upside down” rainbow? Kelly came to see it too. Suddenly we were no longer teary from staring into the sun – but because this rainbow positioned directly above the house was recognized for what it truly was. A SMILE directly from heaven – for Kelly. I honestly have never seen anything like it in my life!

More pictures from the previous weeks ~

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“Dem kids are crazy.”

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“Eenen dey leave me to go to school… Pbltbplt!!!!!”

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“I guess I’ll just be in da baff.”

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“Eenen I’ll be in Mommy’s studio office. Is it her ‘Stu-ffice’ then?”

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“Sup.”

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“SHHHHHHH!!!!! I went night-night.”

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Norns had a little visitor in the baff!

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“Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home…”

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When Mommy was sick.

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A heart from Greta’s orange ~

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This cloud looked like a giant feather across the sky ~

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And then I went down to the creek on another perfect afternoon ~

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I saved a wasp from drowning ~

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Hearts ~

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Later that perfect day, Lady Baby went out on her first walk of the year!!!!

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“Dear Winter. Please, please, please go away. We’ve had enough. I want to go on more walks!!!”

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Looking for the sunshine ~

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Onset of her cold ~

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She has a little heart on her cheeky!

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Beauty in the Broken

I added 20 pictures on this post in draft status weeks ago, but have been sidetracked with life and everything in it. Now I’m not even sure where to start in writing…

A mild cold virus made its rounds through the family, which was a bit of a challenge and an inconvenience. Kelly, Nora and I managed to evade the first round. Now something else has crept in the door and into our sinuses. My throat is annoyingly sore, and it seems that Gavin has the same symptoms now too. If Gavin weren’t sick again I would have assumed this was my turn for the first cold. This seems to be something new altogether.

Now here I am laying in bed at 3 am worrying. Worrying. As if that were going to help anything. Hospital flashbacks scratch through my thoughts and I’m wondering if the surgical mask I’ve been wearing around Nora is enough. “What if she gets this???????” satan whispers in my ear, “What if she doesn’t make it to her second birthday???? She was so close!!!! What if this kills her??????” and on and on and on. So I pause. And I breathe. There are no “what ifs” with my God. You can taunt me and whisper all you want, but I will not budge from my faith and all that I KNOW to be true.

I am particularly fragile in my thoughts because We’ve recently (again) been reminded of the fragile balance of life and death. Our Kelly’s father passed away suddenly in his sleep 12 days ago. He was only 48 years old. My heart is so broken for her. According to OUR plans, people are “not supposed to” leave this earth so soon and so suddenly. But from time to time they do and the pain is unbearable when measured by our earthly standards. I find myself feeling sorry for the departed loved one and everything I imagine they will now be “missing out on” here on this earth with the rest of us.

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)

The indescribable / inconceivable REALITY of eternity is an irresistible and natural progression for the fully developed soul. There is nothing left here on this earth that could possibly be preferable.

I might not be able to fully grasp the promise of new life in Eternity, but I believe and hold onto that promise, literally as if my (new) life depended on it. I know that it will make perfect sense someday and none of this will matter any more. I never had the pleasure of meeting Kelly’s Dad, but if he can somehow read this from his indescribable paradise I want him to know that his daughter will always have a place in our family. We love you, Kel!

Nora has been doing awesome. I think she is officially “giant” now. She weighs 22 lbs. and has been cultivating quite the collection of teeth! She has 3 front teeth still and 3 big molars that have popped through! She’s Mommy’s big giant lump of sugar and it is absolute TORTURE not to be able to sniff her and kiss her sweet, sweet skin through this surgical mask.

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Pictures from the past few weeks ~

“I’m inna baff. Big surprise, right? I still love my baffs!”

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Happy Lady Baby!

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Blowing kisses ~

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She’ll just sit up on the table during dinner time. She don’t care none! That’s what she likes!

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Greta finds hearts all over the place!

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“I got hearts in my eyes!”

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“An I’m real pretty girl too! Soooooo…..”

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If anyone has any beans that they need thrashed, this baby might be able to help you out. Here’s her demo(lition) video:

“Hey look! Der’s me up der!”

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Hearts on the sidewalk ~

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Sweetheart in the baff.
“Aaaaahhhhhh. An someone argued dat I might not have quality of life??? To dat I say HA HA HA!!!”

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Greasy heart? Sure! Why not!?

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“Um… Dat’s kinda diff’rint!”

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Here is Nornor playing with her Magic Fingers app. It’s no chain mirror, but it peaks her interest for a few minutes!

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Three weekends ago the snow storms and I had some downtime. I used the opportunity to go for a walk by myself in the woods and down to the creek. The weather was perfect.

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As I stood in the middle of the creek, the wintry water coursed and eddied over my thick rubber boots. It’s chill tampered with the warmth of my dry socks on the other side in an exhilarating way.

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I bent down to pick up a shard of china out of the water and was momentarily surprised by what I discovered on the other side. The smooth stark white of the porcelain against the bed of gray creek rock is what caught my eye. It was only after I picked it up and turned it over that I discovered the true beauty of it.

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I was reminded in that moment of the beauty in the broken. I looked all around me for more pieces of this plate and saw nothing. Just because I couldn’t see them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. The beautiful piece that I held in my hand was obviously part of a bigger picture, part of other pieces that fit together to create the whole. Isn’t that just like life? Some of the pieces like this one show glimpses of the “big picture”, other pieces are plain white. Without the other pieces it would be impossible to figure out what purpose the blank ones serve, but they are no less important. Perhaps others have sharp, painful edges, but they too serve a purpose as part of a greater whole.

As it just so happens, there is a song called “Beauty in the Broken” by Hyland. These are the lyrics:

Looking at your pain an inch away
It’s hard to see the plot
You wonder if your story’s gonna change
You don’t know you’re
Too close to find the hope the light
Don’t know just why, you are breaking
I know that you want to let go but…

Let me hold you through it
Let me carry you
I know if feels you’re at the end
But here your story’s just beginning
I know your tomorrow
I know where you are
Though you can’t see past the moment
I see beauty in the broken
I see beauty in the broken

Looking at your life from where I am
I promise you that
All your dreams and all your greatest plans
They don’t compare to
My hope for you my love can do
Way more than you can imagine
I know that you want to let go…

Let me hold you through it
Let me carry you
I know if feels you’re at the end
But here your story’s just beginning
I know your tomorrow
I know where you are
Though you can’t see past the moment
I see beauty in the broken

So let the pieces of your heart fall into my arms
I wanna be your hope, so won’t you let me
So let the pieces of your heart fall into my arms
I wanna be your hope, so won’t you

Let me hold you through it
Let me carry you
I know if feels you’re at the end
But here your story’s just beginning
I know your tomorrow
I know where you are
Though you can’t see past the moment
I see beauty in the broken

Matters of the Heart

“Oh hi! It’s me, Norns! I’m inna baff.”

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“You can look in here and not see anyting but deez tree (3) teef.”

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“But I’ve got some secret teefs in der.”

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“Dey’re way back in der. My big cheekies are hiding dem from my Mom n Dad n everybodies for right now.”

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“Maybe I will send a little birdie to tell dem!”

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“Dey can’t figure out why I been getting real fussied about some tings. I sure enjoy my lovings though.”

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“February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. I wore my pretty heart outfit to show my support!”

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On Saturday (February 8) we went over to Nana and Papa’s house to celebrate their anniversary and Aunt Em’s birthday. Norns is always excited to get out of the house!

“Buh Bye!”

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We usually take the ferry to get across the Ohio River to get to Nana and Papa’s house, which is what we decided to do this particular afternoon. Nora got a little impatient while we waited for two slowpoke coal barges to pass, so we got her out of the constraints while the car was in PARK and TURNED OFF. We posed her in this picture for a text message to razz Aunt Sarah who is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. She won’t stand for this type of shenanigans from any of her peeps. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS PHOTO OUT OF CONTEXT – NO BABIES WERE HARMED OR PUT IN DANGER IN THE MAKING OF THIS PHOTOGRAPH!

“Dis is kinda fun! Am I big now?”

And then Nora drove us the rest of the way to Nana and Papa’s house.

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William and Aunt Sarah with their baby boys. Awwwwwwww!!!!!

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Norns gets some loves from her Oma.

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Gavin and his little cousin Keira are BUDDIES. They are incredibly sweet with one another!

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Nana and Mommy with an ENORMOUS baby girl.

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We had such a nice time, as we always do together! Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad! We missed you, Aunt Em and Uncle Josh! We hope your birthdizzle was fabulous, Em!

And so starts another week back home.

“Oh, I thought dey said dey wanted my FOAM number. Well here. Dey can have deez anyway.”

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Greta was awarded a Wildcat Award at school which recognizes her for exceptional CATS pride during the month of January! I’m so glad I got to be there for the assembly! We’re so proud of you, Greta!

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Later in the day, poor Nornz had an eye appointment where they had to dilate her eyes. They had us wait out in the lobby for 20 minutes until the drops took their desired effect. Nora was NOT happy and kept arching her back. As luck would have it, I had her sunglasses still stuffed away in the diaper bag from the good old days at the pool. As soon as we put them on her, she was completely happy and arched no more! She’s such a super star, she should just wear them anyway.

“Nobuddy likes deir eyes dye lated.”

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Medicine heart

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Cloud heart

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Sun spot heart (on carpet in front of car seat)

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Sweet heart kissies from Mommy

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Gavin was all dressed up for his speech assignment. He chose Woody Hayes to give his presentation on. We thought he did very well in his rehearsals at home! I have been forbidden to publish the video.

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Nora gave a speech on baffs.

“Deez baffs are warm an fun an nice.”

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“I get to stay nice and warm instead of going out in colds! Nah nee nah nee boo boo!”

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“Wait. What? I have a very early morning cardiologiss pointment on Tursday?”

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“I’m not sure how I feels about dat.”

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“Yyyyeah. It’s wayyy too early and cold out, peoples.”

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“I’ll be a real good girl, however!”

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“An before I knowed it, I was back home.”

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“An da greatest part? My heart looks real good! I got a good report at da cardiologiss!”

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This baby deserved a long awaited bath for being such a good girl at the hospital. She got herself real tired and had a little baffnap.

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Uh oh!!! Someone is growing a little RAT TAIL!!!

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Valentine’s Day

“Aaaaaa!!!!! It’s Balentimes Day!!!!!!!! Dere’s hearts EVERRRRYYYWHERE!!!!”

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“Hmmm. I guess dat means I have to choose a Balentime! Hmmmmm…. I tink I chose EVERYBODIES!”

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Ohhhh, and what a nice Valentine’s present to FINALLY have her Kelly home!!! We missed you, KelKel!!

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The weather outside is frightful, and apparently so are a couple of sibling’s behaviors. I think Greta had endured a few too many snowball pelts and went after her brother in a blind rage! Gavin allowed himself to get “beat up” for a bit. Greta saw me taking pictures from the window and came running inside to take on the role of poor harassed innocent little sister in an attempt to score some sympathy. “Naw, baby, naw. Mommy saw you out there smashing your brother’s face in the snow and I have pictures to prove!!” 😉

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And the needling big brother was of course momentarily locked out by his vexed little sister.
(Incidentally, this picture makes a great home screen for my phone giving the appearance that he’s “stuck under the glass”)

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So as it turns out, Nora has been secretly growing a couple of top molars! It’s hard to look back into her mouth without making her gaggy. We weren’t really expecting any molars yet since her front teeth hadn’t all made it in yet! She’s a tricky baby!!! And very, very, very chewy!!!

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She gets herself tired!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)

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My own heart flutters each time I see one of these hearts. God is so very real and so very present in every aspect of my life. Each heart sighting reminds me of that.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

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Pensive droplets cling to the glass with vague recollection of the vast ocean. Their transitory assignments on my windowpane disappear with the morning sun. Barely discernible wisps of vapor announce their ethereal departure to the sky. A nebulous journey back to the sea. Home.

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Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(James 4:14)

I used to find this verse depressing and foreboding, but in reality it is only pointing out how short this life is. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’ve come to realize. It is a reminder to make the best of my time here on earth’s windowpane. What really matters?

Good Ship Lollipop

I had so many pictures and tidbits from the last few weeks that the previous blog post was starting to resemble a big giant endless run-on sentence. I figured I would afford our dear readers the opportunity to take a stretch, visit the concession stand, etc.

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(“Gone With the Windies”)

And now the second half ~

Last week Greta had an assignment due which required her to research a public figure in the arts or politics, past or present. She then had to give a presentation dressed as that figure. Greta chose Shirley Temple. I found out Tuesday morning that my (and now Greta’s) beloved childhood star had passed away at age 85. I was a little worried about breaking the news to her. After I told Greta that Shirley had passed away she was momentarily saddened, but her face lit up as she commented, “Yeah, but I’m SURE she’s in a much better place now.” Wise beyond her years!

In tribute to Shirley, here is Greta:

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We rolled her damp hair in foam rollers the night before. Aunt Sarah’s old dirndl dress seemed “Heidi-esque” and served as the perfect costume.

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The parents got to come up to see all the kids give their presentations in the “wax museum”. Greta was very nervous, but did AWESOME!! I was so proud of her!

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All of the kids did such a great job! It was obvious that a lot of hard work and practice went in to their projects!

More hearts around the house ~

Cheese heart

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Cinnamon toast heart

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SWEET heart

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The little sweet heart looks so pretty trying on some of her new outfits ~

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Oh, but wait! She went and got herself all tired.

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And now she’s back. Her sister loves her! She knows it too.

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Green bean heart “accidentally” dropped on the table ~

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“All deez hearts! We sure feel loved!”

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“An my brudder loves me so much too!”

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The kids and I went for a freezing cold walk along the river to expend some snow day energy after being pent up in the house for days on end. For the most part I was too cold and agitated with miscellanies to bother with pictures, but I couldn’t let this one go uncaptured ~

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This past Tuesday Nora got to pay a visit to Redwood School and Rehabilitation Center to try out some new seating options. Here she is in the Ladybug chair which was especially adorable!

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Unfortunately Norns neglected to bring her patience and manners with her and wasn’t very cooperative for the rest of the visit. I think we figured something out for her though!

In the mean time Nora enjoys hanging out in her Bumbo with her sister.

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

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