Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little Bits: Falling Thankful

That joyous feeling of Maddie's health was further intensified when my nurse best friend shared that a co-worker of hers also had the condition. Unfortunately, it was not caught in time and led to a heart transplant. :( So thankful for the Lord nudging my heart to have our girl seen, even when her symptoms seemed so random and obscure.

Grateful is something I think that comes pretty easily to me, maybe because my heart bleeds for others who hurt and has since I was little. After having kids, though, I learned a whole new level of grateful. The kind that comes when you deep down, way down, way deep down know that your baby sleeps safely under your roof-- and even though that could change at any minute-- you have it for now, for this moment. And you hope that moments like that string themselves together into a lifetime where you can claim such gratitude.

Ah, it's Wednesday... my bits.

~*So, it's fall.

~*Glorious tree painting, cider drinking, football watching, crockpot cooking, apple orcharding with dear family at a halfway spot... fall.
~*Oh, and bread baking to accompany all that soup. "I wanna help you kneadle it, Mommy!"
Maddie's hands aren't filthy. She and Alysse just have an obsession with messy, frozen blueberries.

~*The only downside to fall? All the shifts in weather can bring out the worst in those guys called germs. This has been on the menu a time or two during the week. Wiping my girls' noses much to Alysse's dismay, holding them close, and mediating feeling yuck disagreements is somehow helped by saying, "My Mama used to make this for me when I was sick as a little girl." It turns the whole nasty thing into a rite of passage, that simple tradition of tomato soup and grilled cheese.
~*When funk producing grumps got the better of us, we found silver linings in quiet afternoons. The littlest taking much needed naps while the biggest worked on word families in the dark.
~*Meet our newest family members. They came to us after I went all "Dave Ramsey" on my kids at a fall bounce house, faux pumpkin patch rip off. Instead of paying the ten bucks (per kid!) at the gate, we regrouped and decided we could have three times the fun by taking our dollars elsewhere. Which ended up being true because all three of these cuties and ice cream sandwiches at the park, indeed, only cost us 1/3 of the admission price.
From left to right: Gabriel, Sally, and Julia.

~*We can't leave out Happy Face, who came to us many weeks before his grandchildren. We happened by him at a cute, little apple orchard one afternoon. I fear he must have been trucked in because about a week or so later he began to rot, which meant carving him sooner than anticipated. (Please don't judge his elderly acne; I imagine he's pretty sensitive). He was named and made to the girls' exact specifications: triangle eyes, a heart nose, and one happy mouth. No matter his imperfections, he positively glows on the dark deck during stories or songs before bed.

Each year I love telling the girls this at the end when we light up our carved creation.

~*This has nothing to do with fall or the happenings from last week, but finding these photos has a lot to do with thankfulness. Friends who drive a couple of hours just to hang out for an afternoon of loving on your kids?

Yep, so grateful.

~*It's been a while I realized since we had some HAM. HAM makes me laugh, usually pretty hard, and that makes me thankful indeed.

Often we'll go on about how cute Alysse is with ridiculous sayings. Some I've heard in the last week:

Hope: "Alysse is so cute I could just.... just... shut my eyes on her!"
Maddie "Alysse is so cute I could just.... just.... pop my tooth out on her!"

~*Maddie is a riot. The other morning she woke up convinced, from a dream we believe, that she had eaten a puzzle piece. That led us on a scavenger hunt and a half just to be sure. The other night she wanted me to light candles on this long tea light thing I have. But instead of the normal, "Hey Mom, could you light these candles?" we got, "Mommy, please light up those perky little holes!"
Totally a summer pic, but just so... so... shut my eyes, pop my tooth Maddie.

~*In the spirit of HAM, my original bite sized comic has a new mission in life. Yes, I'm thinking she will be the next Surgeon General. Ever since she discovered no smoking signs and consequently what the habit does to your body, she is sure to keep us all out of harm's way. All it takes is someone anywhere lighting up and she's all, "Smoking Stick! It's a smoking stick. Come away!!" While riding her bike near some neighbors the other day Joe noticed her holding her breath with big puffy cheeks. When questioned if she was alright she let out a huge exhale and seriously informed, "Oh Daddy, I didn't want my lungs to turn black!"

Recently my husband's status read, "Just finished an early morning run. Feeling good. Thank you Lord for breath for another day!"

Isn't it true? Breath for another day is no small thing. With a little practice and eyes willing to see, gratitude lies in wait everywhere. While we live out these final warm days of fall, I sure hope the beauty and even hardship around me doesn't let me forget.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Little Bits: Celebrating Wednesdays

I like the format I've seen on a couple of blogs where they pick a day to recap moments from the past week and find meaning woven throughout them. I like the predictability, the weekly celebration of a day like Wednesday, the anticipation of having a standing writing and photo uploading date with myself. I think I'm going to like giving it a whirl.

I also took a little internet break over the last few weeks while I prayed for Madds, pretty much only jumping on to look up something or to do an e-mail check. Back when we were first married Joe suggested we do without cable and have just one TV mostly meant for movie nights. Honestly I was annoyed at the suggestion, but I agreed because he had honored some of my requests too and all of that led to our "use the higher standard" rule when in conflict. That has turned out to be a pretty solid deal over the years that works for us.

Crazily enough, I ended up digging it. It makes TV more special when we get movies now or go somewhere, like to our parents, and we catch our favorite networks. And in the last month, I found the same to be true for the good old World Wide Web.

I love the connectedness of staying in touch with loved ones and finding long lost buddies. I don't get to live near enough to my family and many of my closest friends, so the world of blogs and updates and more gives me that chance to "be" with them. That chance for them to see and know the girls even from across many miles and for me to feel like those I dearly miss are just a click or two down the road. Not to mention, the friends I've gotten to know more deeply or the sheer number of inspirational people out there!

Which is why I'm thinking that Tuesday nights as I sit down with my photo cord and the week's memories, I will also make that my big time to catch up on most of the inspiration and good the cyber world has to offer. A quick daily or so check should take care of everything else. I think it will make the reading all the more special and even more fun. I just love that feeling of looking forward to without sacrificing the time of right now that all of that cool stuff can sometimes tempt me to do.

So without further adieu :), I introduce my new hump day recap: "Little Bits" as in all our little bits to love.

::How can I begin any other way other than to rejoice again? Our Maddie's heart is clear and as it gets stronger we should see less of her symptoms, like sudden fatigue and irritability-- which has almost been like watching a diabetic have sugar crashes for over two months now. Not that it matters as much, but oh my heart during this time.
Poor baby. Sacked out just inside our front door after a hard afternoon. :(

::What have we been up to in the last few weeks? Truthfully our patience has been tested some. Between illness issues among family and friends, a mini packing peanut disaster (my reaction, during which, won't be winning me any "Mother of the Year" awards I'm afraid), and a ticket happy park ranger who kind of lost his mind... to name a few. But, given the miracle of our precious Maddie Girl, most of that doesn't seem to matter too much.
Not too much at all.

::So, let's see... we schooled some.

::We discovered the joy of paper dolls. That Maria the Scientist was some kind of old fashioned fun. I cannot wait for Sue the Teacher and Molly the Nurse to come out of stockings this Christmas.
::We continued Friday's family night. It still doesn't get old.
::Speaking of not getting old, we also still sneak a quick photo before ballet when we can because, really, how can I stop myself?
I love them so.

::We had fall break which meant we could do things like go to our favorite indoor playground. Past bedtime. In our jammies. With night night stories, get this, in the van on the way home. The girls couldn't believe it just got better and better and better.
A new favey favorite of mine.

::The break also afforded us to find some pretty new spots just outside of town. We didn't have bathing suits, but we're thinking our children never even noticed.

::Some of us reminded the rest of us that she is as big as the sisters no matter what height or age may try to otherwise convey.
Making a stair break, standing upright and holding the railing. Good grief.
Picasso in training, with an almost proper pencil grip!
Who's the Mommy now?

::Oh and we had a surprise visit from friends we miss so much it hurts! They traveled many hours for a long weekend. When I heard one of those sweet boys yell to his mama as she called for him, "But Mommy, I'm in my sisters' room!" it just about did me in. We were proud, however, that we did not let out the air in their tires before they tried to leave as we had originally planned. Pretty mature of us, I'd say.
Staged group photo? Valiant effort, but ain't happening. Too much to run and do!
Chasing Joe around the backyard while he screamed like a girl? Real life and happenin' indeed.

::That visit was followed up by a visit from cousins who bravely headed overseas to serve our country. So many smart, fun, handsome little guys in our lives no?
::Then we followed that up with a visit from friends who can now make it down for day trips full of hiking, picnicking, and the like. Joe has been close friends with the husband of this particular family since middle school. Our firstborns hit it off so well, Hope bawled (and I mean bawled!) when they left. She said, "Why do so many people I love only get to visit sometimes and then leave?" Don't I ever know what you mean my darling Hopey.
Mmm... fall.
Pun'kins making pun'kins. Littlest sisters inside sharing a cupcake between them.

Whew, that was a whole collection of Wednesdays to unpack. Happy Wednesday, hump day, find all the reasons to celebrate it day.

May it be truly blessed,

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hands Ready

This is our girl. Baking, tending to her babies, adorned in lots of flowers that are "sooo pwetty, Mama."

Right now it's the girls' favorite. The lyrics begin to play and I hear little feminine voices from behind my headrest. Soft at first; then strong and loud.

Eventually they crescendo into all out screams.

But before this there is a sweet voice. The voice of my blond headed one. The one who for eight weeks has been heavy on my heart. The one who I took to the doc for such random symptoms I thought for sure the pediatrician would say I needed to get a grip. Instead I heard, "We need to get her over to the hospital right now, Katrina."

This child-- she always has a message as the chorus comes.

Get your hands ready.

So we do, we lift them high.

And we sing:

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other

Our God is Healer, awesome in power

Our God, Our God…

I can't continue enjoying this beautiful fall weekend without *thanking* all the many who have joined us in prayer for our girl because yesterday the doctor had a different message.

She is healed, all but for a small issue that is likely genetic and not serious. We will continue to monitor it in years to come, but I have faith.

I've also got them ready, baby girl.

Now may I sing it again and again

Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, our God...

A plate of honey flower soup for you all.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prayers for Maddie

A copy of an e-mail I was about to send out, but wanted to be sure I didn't miss any faithful friend. xoxo.


Hi Friends,

Hope this finds each of you doing well! I know it is a busy season for so many.

We are grateful to have friends who, even in their own busyness, take time to check in on or encourage us through our transitions. Joe enjoys being a professor and is energized by connecting to and teaching his students. We are so thankful to have been given a job like this in an economy like this! Lynchburg is turning out, as many shared it would, to be a special spot here in central Virginia.

As most of you know, however, we’ve had some health concerns with our oldest girls over the last few months. A couple of days after Joe’s first class, Hope and Maddie were hit with a crazy virus that they apparently got during our big move. They were both hospitalized within five days of one another; it affected Hope’s gastrointestinal system and we were actually taken by ambulance to the children’s specialists at UVA. Thankfully, she has recovered and ended up only needing minimal interventions to get back on track.

Madds, on the other hand, had a worse issue. The virus infected the lining of her heart and caused a leak in her left mitral valve. She was sent immediately to the heart specialists in Lynchburg (some of the best in the country; praise God!) because our ped had only heard one heart as concerning in her 20+ years of practice. She is also a natural doc, so we knew that her sending us to the cardiac hospital was pretty serious!

Anyway, that background brings me to the point of this e-mail; Maddie goes back to the cardiologist this coming Fri., Oct. 14th at 10:40. We are hoping to hear that her heart has completely healed! If it has not, this could mean that the virus only brought to light some deeper autoimmune issues she’s had.

We would be ever grateful, if you could say a prayer for our little girl should the Lord bring her to your mind throughout this week. I apologize if we’ve been somewhat difficult to get in touch with for the last few weeks, but I’ve been focused on asking for her FULL healing. When her symptoms flare up, I have to get my mind back in the right place and trust the One who loves her even more than we do!

As always, please let us know if there are any ways we can be praying for you and yours.

With Love,

Katrina for Joe, Hope, Maddie, and Alysse