Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

We spent Thanksgiving with Chad's family this year and in case you didn't know, when everyone gets together we are quite a force to be reckoned with and even though we were missing 4 of our members this year I think the kids outnumbered the grown ups yet again.  We better hope they never decide to stage a revolt.  We keep them happy by supplying them with snacks of all kinds including but not limited to chex mix, chips, fruit and desserts aplenty.

This group is also known for cooking a lot of food.  I know, I know doesn't everyone around this time of year?  Well, we met and surpassed our own record by cooking 4 turkeys this year.  Yep, you heard me f-o-u-r...umm...winner!  I am personally giving thanks for the fried turkey that my husband and his brother cooked.  It was a first for me and I have to say that I am a fan of the deep fried turkey. 
Yes, that is a picture of our Thanksgiving turkey being fried.  I wish I could show you a picture of the finished product, but alas it didn't occur to anyone to do anything with it but eat it once it was done, yum!

I love our kid table.  Like I said before, we do our best to keep this group happy so that all the grown ups can stay happy, it's not a bad position for those kids to be in, ha ha.

Cooper and Jacob somehow bypassed the kid table and went straight to the grownup table, they don't seem to mind, do they?

I'm pretty sure this was the first time Sophie Kate has been out of her pajamas in four weeks and while that may seem like a dream come true to some, it really does get old after a while.  It was good for her and me to get cleaned up and get out of the house for something other than a doctor's appointment or an ER visit, you know?  I know this isn't a very good picture of SK but I wanted to show y'all how sweet her cousin Jill was with her.  I caught her in a random act of kindness with SK.

I had a sweet encounter with Jill's brother Michael as well, in which he was singing to "Sophie Cake."  I thought it was so cute that he called her that.
OK, that picture is better...she looks a bit more happy in that one.  I will say that this continues to be a slow process. She is getting better each day but she is still not my sweet smiley Sophie.  It concerns me that it is taking this long to get my baby girl back.

Leave it to Cooper to find himself some alone time even amongst a crowd of people.  He hollered up to me to take a picture of one of the fish he caught.  Even with my long lens I couldn't get close enough, sadly I don't think I did that fish he caught any justice, sorry dude.

It was good for us to be able to stay close to home this year. Sophie Kate was in no shape to be driving long distances. It was good to see everyone (even though we were missing some), just hang out, watch some football and let the kids play.  

By the way, Chad's birthday is today and having him here for the past five days has spoiled me greatly.  I miss him today, but am grateful for his commitment to me and to our children. He's showing these boys what a real man is and what a real man does by the way he loves and cares for them, their sister and their mama.  Happy 40th Chad!    

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful in the Storm

It's easy to be thankful when there is no storm.  As I sit in the Emergency Room of Children's Hospital, I contemplate how thankful I am right now and how thankful I am going to be if we are sitting up in a hospital room on Thanksgiving Day.  Our pastor reminded us of this just this week...that we cannot base our emotions on our feelings. Our feelings are fleeting and always changing, so true.  

I cannot be carried away by every thought and feeling that breezes in and out, especially when we wind up here.  What is the truth?  Do I believe what I say I believe?  God's truth doesn't change because of our circumstances.  

Being thankful in the storm is believing when you feel like all hope is lost, it's having faith when the doctors are telling you otherwise.  It's about feeling blessed even when the answer to your prayers is "no" right now.  It's about choosing hope and love instead of bitterness.  It's not perfect or pretty, but it's real.  It's not some kind of fake happiness that every thing's "fine" or is going to be "fine." It's a peace, an assurance that something far greater awaits us as one of God's children than anything we could ever obtain here.

It is in this moment that I am most grateful and most thankful for my salvation and that this place is not my home.  All praise, glory and worship is due our Savior for the gift of redemption through Jesus Christ and for a love that covers us in the best of times and the worst of times.

This post has been written over several days and we did not end up being admitted to Children's Hospital, they were able to get Sophie Kate stable and with some med changes we were able to come home, but that is what I was thinking and feeling then in the face of uncertainty.  I hope this time of Thanksgiving finds you all with those who mean the most to, friends and at the center of it all a humble heart grateful for the love of our King.

Happy Thanksgiving friends.     

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Hold and To Be Held

I remember her smile on the morning of October 27th.  I took so many pictures of it there in our room awaiting yet another surgery for our girl.  I didn't know when I would see that smile again.  We endured a grueling 4 hours in recovery with her b/c she just couldn't seem to pull it all together.  Her heart rate, temperature, breathing and oxygen saturation were all over the place.  It is a vivid memory in my mind of how truly fragile she is.  

Another vivid memory from that day is the sight of her in that brace.  Cold metal with padding in the places where it touched her skin, I was scared to death that if I touch her I might hurt her.  My first thought was how am I going to hold her. Am I really not supposed to hold her for 4 weeks? The doctors have lost all connection with their patients, patient's families and living...being at home and living day to day.  Her doctors at Children's are wonderful at what they do, but they have lost their compassion.  They have a disconnect between their instructions and our family.

We are coming up on week 4 soon, actually Thanksgiving Day will be 4 weeks.  I held my girl for the first time this weekend.  I mean truly held her, not just picking her up to transfer her from the bed to  the couch and back again.  She has had quite a week and has been feeling rotten for days due to a fierce kidney infection.  It has taken a toll...on her and us, certainly more so on her than us though.  We can take it, I just wish she didn't have to.

It is impossible for you to understand unless you have walked a similar road, but even though it is a relief to find out what is making her feel so bad, you still know in the back of your mind that there is constantly a mountain ahead of you to climb.  I was truly relieved to get the diagnosis of a kidney infection last week.  I know it sounds crazy but at least then I knew we could do something about it.  We could make her feel better eventually, but then what...then we still have this surgery that she is recovering from.  Then we have all this underlying constant care that we can never escape.  There is no medicine, there is no therapy, there is no procedure, there is no surgery that can make it all go away.

I have grown weary of these four walls.  I know the baby sister would be too if she could get to feeling better, but I'm sure she just plain doesn't care right now.  These last 3 weeks have set us back big time, she is beyond weak.  Does she feel what I feel as I kneel or sit beside her weeping? I'm afraid she does sometimes.

I held her for the first time in over 3 weeks.  She's feverish, I can see it in her flushed red cheeks and I can feeling the unnatural warmth of her body, but I held her.  I don't know if it's that she needs me or I need her, either way I pray it brings some relief to both of us.  

Colossians 1:16-17 "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Princess Lunch

On our last day at Walt Disney World, we had a Princess lunch scheduled at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway at Epcot.  Our lunch wasn't scheduled until around 1:30, so as you can imagine, the natives were getting restless.  The boys weren't sure what they wanted to do or just sit down, thankfully we could do both there.  

Grey was literally falling asleep while we were waiting for our table...

Y'all, he was swaying back and forth and I was afraid he was going to wind up face down on the concrete.

You can see how excited they all were to be meeting the Disney Princesses, can't you?  It's written all over their faces.

 First up, Belle...

Love that face sister...

Once we got to our table, we were visited by Sleeping Beauty...


One of my favorites...

I did not realize until after the fact that my little red head was giving his "rock star" pose in all the Cinderella pictures...he was ordered to cease and desist immediately!

Snow White...

  And last but certainly not least, Ariel...

This was our first Princess lunch, so I had no idea who was going to be there.  It worked out perfectly though when Ariel showed up b/c she was the only Princess that Sophie Kate had not seen.  

Another one of my favorites...

Their faces made this trip so special for me.  The smiles, the delight, the thrill and the excitement could be seen all over their faces.  Of course we also had tired, sleepy and an occasional grumpy face but the good far outweighed the bad.  Seeing their excitement on the thrill rides, watching them as they watched all the fun shows we saw, seeing my girl smile almost every minute of every day we were there was fantastic.

Less than a week after we were back home from Disney, Sophie Kate had an unbelievably rough day.  It was filled with seizures that started in the morning and did not stop until late afternoon.  Nothing helped...not her meds, not me, not anything.  It was a miserable day for both of us. Now I was known to say before our Disney trip that in the scheme of things I knew this trip wasn't a big deal, that God wasn't really concerned with whether we went to Disney World or not.  Yes, I prayed for our safety and for our health while we were there, but whether we went or not wasn't really a big thing in contrast to the suffering in this world.  

On that day though that SK and I were battling her seizures for hours on end I thanked God through my tears that He kept her seizure free during our trip.  Her seizures are debilitating, our day would have been done if that had happened at Disney World.  She can't be in her stroller and she is too big for us to carry around, not to mention the fact that she is crying and miserable as are her parents during these times.  God is concerned about in the details of our lives.

Didn't mean to get off a tangent there, but I wanted to share that with y'all.  I hate that our Disney trip has come to an end but so enjoyed sharing all the pictures and stories. It was truly a magical trip, the kids were at great ages for going.  There is not one thing I would have done differently, or anything that would have made our trip better.  It was perfectly Disney! 

Thanks for checking in on us.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Our last day at Disney World was spent at Epcot.  

There were a couple of things that were "new" to us there. One was the Finding Nemo ride.  Whew, sorry sister the sun was pretty bright that day.

The other ride that was "new" to us was Soarin'.  It's supposed to be a ride that simulates hang gliding, I guess it all just felt too real to me, good job Disney.  I rode it, the boys loved it, of course.

I would say that Test Track and Soarin' were the fan favorites for our boys.  We slowed things down a bit with a boat ride in "The Land." 

 Once again, Sophie Kate rode everything she could.  Test Track and Soarin' were the only two she missed.

Next, we headed to the countries.  In England we saw Alice in Wonderland...

Mary Poppins... 

and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

Sophie Kate was about to fall asleep during her visit with Pooh and Tigger.  She doesn't care who you are if she's tired then she's sleeping.

In Morocco, we met up with Aladdin and Princess Jasmine.  I love how they sign their names on the same page and under Aladdin, Jasmine writes "loves Jasmine," so cute.

Everyone had their own autograph book, but SK's had a place for a picture with each autograph.  I definitely wanted her picture made with all the Princesses as well, so after the group shot with Aladdin and Jasmine I said, "Ok now can we get one with just Sophie Kate?"  I really just meant the girls, but Aladdin didn't take the hint, ha ha.  It's ok though, they were darling together.

Ice cream breaks were plentiful the last few days we were there because we had an abundance of snacks left on our meal plan, as if our children had been denied in the days prior, ha ha.  

Seriously, our abundance of meals and snacks became a running joke.  It seemed each time we used them the number got bigger instead of smaller.  One day we started out with 25 meals left and ended the day with 37 meals left, it seemed like that anyway.  At one point Chad declared that no one could get a drink the next day without ordering a meal, just kidding of course.  So about mid morning of the next day he asked me if I wanted something to drink to which I responded, "Yes, I'm dying of thirst over here but I don't want a burger and fries too."  

The fountain at Epcot that is set to music...

As we left Epcot on our last night in Disney, Chad thought the kids might like to ride the monorail.  We had been taking Disney's buses each day from our hotel, but a huge memory of Disney for both of us was riding the monorail and our kids had not had that pleasure yet.  I have to emphasize that the crowds were not bad at all so we pretty much did whatever we wanted, when we was glorious.  It ended up to be a crazy trip back to our hotel, but one I'll never forget.  

We took the monorail from Epcot to the Transportation Center in hopes of then taking a bus back to our hotel.  It didn't quite work out that way since the buses don't go to the Transportation Center, so we ended up taking the ferry from there over to Magic Kingdom.  It was getting late and folks were weary to say the least. However, Chad couldn't have timed it any better...we had a restful ferry ride over to Magic Kingdom at the exact time the fireworks were going off over Cinderella's Castle.  The music was piped in to the speakers on the ferry and we had a perfect view of the Castle in all it's firework glory.  Cinderella's Castle is the heartbeat of Disney for me for lots of reasons, it is from whence all Disney blessings flow.  That moment was not lost on me, perfect end to a perfect week.  Yeah, he planned it that way all along, love you babe.

Don't be sad, our Disney vacation is not complete yet.  We have one more post to go...our lunch with the Disney Princesses.  Stay tuned, this is where Grey's rock star pose came to a swift and immediate end.