Monday, December 29, 2008

Strange dream last night

Last night (or was it early this morning?) I had a dream that I received a call from a friend (nobody I know in real life, but in my dream she was my friend) and she needed me to go to her OB appt. I knew she was planning to place for adoption and she wanted my support. When I got there, her boyfriend (the father of the baby) was there as well as the couple who planned to adopt the baby.

My friend was very not attached to the baby and acted as if this whole adoption thing was no big deal whatsoever. The waiting-to-adopt couple had already laid claim to the child and were calling the baby girl theirs already. There was a level of excitement in the waiting room that seemed odd to me as the friend there to support the expecting mom.

Then I looked over and noticed that the expectant father was sad. I realized then that the reason I was there was to support him, not the e-mom. I asked him if he was ok and told me no. He began to cry and proceeded to tell me that he couldn't imagine life without his daughter in it and that he did not want her to be placed for adoption but my friend wasn't giving him a choice. I asked him if he was prepared to parent alone and he said yes. I remember telling him about some resources to help him and then I woke up.

Hmmm....interesting?!?!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm sorry (words you'll never hear me say)

I'm NOT sorry my daughter makes you uncomfortable. That is YOUR problem, not hers, not mine, YOURS! GET. OVER. IT.

There, I said it.

I am a very sensitive person. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and hate when others are hurting or uncomfortable, especially if it is my fault in any way. I have no problem apologizing when I've done something wrong (and as many will attest, even if I haven't done something wrong I'll still say I'm sorry for the situation they are in because I really, truly am sorry that they are in that place at that moment.)

With all of that said here goes a post that I have been thinking about writing for a while but just haven't been able to get the words out just right. Lets see if today is any different.

When Lil Bug was born with Spina Bifida we were sad. Not for us, but for her. We knew that her future was filled with surgeries, weird glances, inappropriate and/or insensitive questions, and, quite bluntly, ignorance on the behalf of the rest of the population.

We take great measures to build Bugs self esteem and be confident in who she is. We want her to fully embrace herself, not be embarrassed by it. Sure, she is only 4 years old, but she is not ashamed in the slightest that she walks differently than her peers, that her head is not perfectly symmetrical and that she doesn't use the bathroom like every other person that she knows.

We are completely honest with her too. We have explained from before she could even understand that she was born with a hole in her spine and that is called Spina Bifida. She knows she has a shunt that helps the fluid drain off her brain. She can explain why she wears AFO (leg braces) and why she can't be around magnets. We don't complicate it...we just tell her that her leg muscles don't work the same as mommy's and daddy's and so God gave us tools to help her walk, such as her AFO's and her walker. In her beautiful innocence, she accepts it. Sure, she has questioned things...any intelligent person would...but she accepts that she is perfect just the way she is.

Now, for the part that people don't understand and have a hard time "dealing" with...the fact that she is cathed rather than pees on the toilet and *gasp* has to have a forced bowel movement rather than just going naturally. So what?!?! I don't get why that matters to one single person other than The Designer, Lil Bug and myself (and perhaps her sister and grandparents).

Every day at 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm we cath Grace to empty her bladder. If we are late or don't do it completely, it almost always results in a urinary tract infection. Even if we do it right, she has an increased chance of an infection because every single time we have to introduce a "foreign" object to her urinary tract, thus increasing the odds for an infection.

Every night at 7pm we have to give Bug a suppository. Doesn't sound like fun, does it? We give her the suppository, read her a story while she lays down for about 5 minutes and then she has to sit on the potty for 1 hour...EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. We bought her a potty seat with a padded top because that is a long time to sit. We also decided against having her sit on the real toilet for now because who wants to sit in the bathroom for an hour? So, we sit her on the potty, put on 2 cartoons, one after the other, and let her relax.

Recently she has shown interest in learning how to cath herself and to "help" with placing her suppository. She is proud of herself for learning these things. And she should be. These are BIG accomplishments for Lil Bug. She has no idea that talking about these kinds of things is taboo in the "real" world. She doesn't have to know. The minute she learns that talking about these things is a no-no or that people aren't comfortable discussing it with her, that is the minute she loses her innocence on the subject. That is the minute she becomes embarrassed and perhaps her self esteem lowers a bit (or a lot even). I don't want that to happen. So, yes, we totally plan on teaching her what is appropriate to discuss publicly and what is not ok. However, we are not there yet. For right now we are just enjoying our sweet, innocent, proud, confident daughter just the way she is. And, if her saying something too grown-up for you makes YOU feel uncomfortable...guess what? I don't care because that is your problem...not ours.


*****
Please know that this blog post is not really intended for everyone that reads this but I needed to vent in a safe place. I don't have a lot of people to talk to about these things and I figured it doesn't hurt to vent here with friends and strangers alike and perhaps you may just walk away with a tiny bit more understanding of what it is like to be my Lil Bug.

Help save Handmade Baby and Childrens Companies

There is a law that goes goes into effect on Feb. 10, 2009 that will force Luckybug Boutique and almost every other small business that makes things for children (under 12) and babies to close up shop.

It is sad. I like what I do and I have just started to get a good customer base. And, unless congress makes changes, I will have to stop.

There are a ton of articles out there, but here is a link to a couple articles and blogs that discuss this topic.

http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/handmade-childrens-items-unintended-consequences-consumer-pr-3056/

http://seekinggodknowswhat.com/2008/12/10/help-save-handmade-and-small-toy-manufacturers/

Please consider writing to your State Reps and Congressman asking them to make provisions for small businesses. Even if you don't make the products yourself, if you stop to think, you will most likely be directly affected by this law too by seeing a significant increase in prices (as competition will drop and the costs of the tests are high).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Art Fire

Back in the spring of this year I began selling my items on Etsy.com. Although I have sell many, many more products off the site, I have had good luck with my Etsy shop.

Recently, however, I have been hearing about a new competing site called Art Fire. So I wandered on over there to check it out. I have to admit...I'm rather impressed so far. I like that with a flat monthly fee of only $7 they do not charge individual listing fees and you do not pay a fee based on the sale price either. That is about the price of one Etsy listing a day and NO other fees. I just signed up for an account and after I get home from work tonight or maybe tomorrow I will be listing my goods in there to start selling.

In order to get the site more recognition they are offering a promotion until 12/31/08. If you sign up for the $7/month account and get 10 others to sign up under you you will earn your account for FREE for LIFE. So, that is what I am working on right now...please, if you are interested in learning more about Art Fire or signing up for an account use my account (luckybugboutique) as the refering account or just link there from here and I will get the credit.

Hope to see you on Art Fire soon!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Special shirts for families with special children

While at the mall earlier this week I noticed a lady wearing a shirt that read My child has Down Syndrome but the Down Syndrome was crossed out and it read HOPE instead..My Child has Hope!

I went to the website that she bought it from and found the source to be very cool. They do not currently have one for Spina Bifida, however I have sent a request to see if they can make one that reads, "My child has Spina Bifida (crossed out) Determination."

The shop is called My Real Diagnosis. Visit it. You just might be inspired.

Remodeling job in progress

We are in remodel mode at our house. I am happy about it, but I hate the mess of a remodel job. My entire house is constantly covered in a light white dust...I wipe down and it comes right back. When it is all done it will be worth it though!

Our house is a bi-level. The front door area is super small. You can fit 1 person on the landing and then you have to go upstairs to the main living area or downstairs to the secondary living area.

The living room is at the top of the stairs. There is a 1/2 wall between the living room and the stairwell. We added to the 1/2 wall and put in build-in shelves. We Some are going to have doors (for storage) and others will be left open The doors and the outer casing is going to be a dark brown (think coffee) and the shelves will be eggshell (white). The Designer is building in a space for a computer so we don't have to have the laptop on the tv tray in the middle of the living room any longer. :)

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Right inside the front door at the landing The Designer put in a HUGE hole (which the girls helped with). It was originally going to be hidden doors so we would have an easier way of getting furniture downstairs (the way it is now, it is nearly impossible to get any large furniture down there). It will still have the hidden doors, but we had a light bulb moment and decided to put a fun slide there for the girls to get downstairs on! They have no idea and we are going to surprise them with it Christmas morning...if Bug doesn't become the wiser before then. The doors can be shut when not in use but when the girls want to play, we will open one door and they can slide right into the playroom...how cool is that?!?!





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We will eventually taken the short wall out that is going up the stairs and put in a spindle hand railing to open that space up.

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The playroom downstairs is going to be getting a makeover. I am thinking ladybug themed room, but haven't decided for sure yet. I am not very creative when it comes to decorating (as my friends and family can attest) so we'll see what happens down there.

The part that I might be most excited about is the flooring!!! We are taking out our carpet in the living room, in the halls and on the stairs and putting down bamboo floors. We are seriously contemplating putting in marble flooring in the kitchen, dining and bathroom too, but we haven't fully decided on that yet. We have a large yellow lab (about 110 lbs) and he tracks in dirt and mud once in a while. I often clean the carpets myself or professionally because the carpet gets dirty fast, but since we are planning to pull it out soon, I haven't steam-vacuumed or hired anyone so they are even more gross than normal, making the idea of hardwood floors even more appealing. Not to mention that Lucky's pooch hair will not be nearly as annoying when I can sweep it as when I have to try to vacuum it out of every nook and cranny.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day After Thanksgiving Sale - Luckybug Boutique

Check it out!

I am offering 25% off on ALL products on Friday, Nov. 28th only. Please visit my shop and take a look around.

Luckybug Boutique

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The school situation

It has been nearly a week and I think I might just now be ready to actually "talk" about it. I will give the very short version here, however, as I don't want to get into details for legal reasons.

On Monday morning Bug was at school and Princess and I were running errands. When I got home I listened to our messages and Bugs preschool teacher had left a message something along the lines of, "Please plan to pick up Bug from school today or drop her off tomorrow. We need to do her hearing test again because she was being defiant and kept taking her headphones off. We aren't sure if she passed or not."

As soon as I heard that they put headphones on her I got concerned. I immediately called the school to let them know that under no circumstances is Bug allowed to have headphones on.

(A bit of history here...Bug has a programmable shunt which regulates the fluid that drains from her brain. The settings are set by magnets. If she is exposed to magnets and we are unaware of it, the settings could change and we may not know until she shows signs of shunt failure hours, days or even weeks later. Symptoms of shunt failure/problems can be eye rolling, seizures, headaches, vomiting, etc. The consequences can mean brain damage and even brain surgery.)

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I discussed this very important detail with her teacher. I was even asked to come into the classroom to go through the items and look for magnets in the toys, on the walls, etc. However, she now claims that she doesn't recall that I gave her a handwritten note and that we discussed this very important topic.

I immediately made an appointment for Bug to see the Neurosurgeon and learned that Bug was in fact ok. Praise God! I did learn about a young boy that was in the office a week earlier that did not fair as well from his teachers mistake. He was doing a "lab" at school which included the use of headphones. It wasn't until he had suffered flu-like symptoms for nearly a week before it was discovered that he was actually being exposed to magnets. When the parents finally discovered this disturbing news, it was too late. He had already suffered brain damage.

Armed with this true story and my own anger I began addressing those at Bugs school one-by-one. Her teacher seemed so indifferent, which really rubbed me the wrong way. Her principal was concerned for Bug but wasn't sure how to guarantee it wouldn't happen again besides putting a note on the door that it was a "no magnet" zone...yeah, it is a great start, but it needs even more than that. I have spoken with the schools receptionist who asked that I please explain why magnets harm her so that maybe that will help her remember that Bug can't be around them (I appreciate the desire to learn, but it really is inconsequential as to WHY she can't have them near her...the fact is, if I asked them to keep them away and they promise to keep her safe, they need to do it regardless of whether they understand why they need to do it.) I've had discussions with the community health department. The list goes on.

Apparently the school is very concerned about lawsuits. How about being concerned about MY DAUGHTER?!?!?

I was about 2 seconds away from pulling her from the program, but the truth is that she loves going and taking her from that environment would harm her too. That isn't fair to her. So I have to trust these ignorant people to keep my child safe. And that is the problem...I don't trust them at all. I don't think they would ever harm her intentionally, but how do they know when someone is wearing a magnetic bracelet or necklace? How about toys that have speakers...do they remember those? Bags have magnets. Cell phones have magnets. Purses have magnets. How do I trust that they will remember these small details?

Keeping Bug safe is a full time job. One that I wouldn't trade for the world, but it isn't easy. I have worked hard and God has blessed her so incredibly that I would had for one stupid person to take all of this blessings and flush them down the toilet because they exposed her to magnets which in turn caused brain damage.

So, I am going to do what I have had to do ever since her birth...trust in my God to keep Bug safe. I know He loves her more than me even and that brings peace to my heart.

(For the sake of keeping this reasonable in length, I have left out a lot of the story but hopefully there is enough here for you to get an understanding of the severity of the situation)

You're Still the One

Jan. 15, 1993 was a day that changed my life forever. It was the very first time I ever laid eyes on The Designer. I was 16 years old. On Jan. 15, 2009 it will be exactly 16 years since we first met. After Jan. 15 I will have known The Designer longer than I have not known him in my life...it seems impossible really, but it's true.

We have had ups. We have had downs. We have had excitement, boredom, confusion, laughter, tears, faith, hope, and love. We were married when we were only 19 years old and many, many people thought we would never make it. I have no idea what our future holds, but I do know that regardless, we will be standing hand-in-hand by each others sides.

There is one song that I would claim as "ours." Here are the lyrics and at the end you can listen to the song.

(When I first saw you, I saw love.
And the first time you touched me, I felt love.
And after all this time, you're still the one I love.)

Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come my baby
We mighta took the long way
We knew we'd get there someday

Bridge:
They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

Chorus:
(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night

Ain't nothin' better
We beat the odds together
I'm glad we didn't listen
Look at what we would be missin'

(Bridge)
(Chorus)
(Chorus)

I'm so glad we made it
Look how far we've come my baby

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All aboard the mommy guilt train

The train stopped and I got on today...*sigh*

Let me start off by saying that I am pretty good about keeping the mommy guilt in check. It creeps in once in a while, but generally I am aware of the triggers and don't fall into the mommy guilt trap often. Getting to this place wasn't easy, but typically I'm there...today, however, my mommy guilt is in overdrive!

At the end of last week Lil Bug and I discussed her interest in riding the school bus to school. Remember, she is 4 years old (barely) and attends preschool 5 mornings a week. She attended last year also and since the very first day of school I have driven her and picked her up every single day.

There are a number of reasons I have not put her on the bus. Most of them are decent reasons, but the truth of the matter is that I was not ready to send her on the bus. She was ready, but I wasn't. I was sheltering her from "the real world" and convincing her she needed me for as long as possible. I wasn't doing this intentionally, but in retrospect, that seems to be the case.

So, back to the present...she mentioned that all of her friends ride the bus and she wanted to know why she couldn't ride with them. I gave her some silly answer like, "you don't need to ride the bus because mommy is able to bring you and pick you up every day." She seemed content with that, but I began to really evaluate my reasons for not having her ride to this point.

So, after some consideration I mentioned it to her teacher and they got the ball rolling. I received a call earlier this week from the district transportation lady and we agreed that Lil Bug would start riding the bus next week on Monday. She said a bus driver would call me to discuss the time and location, etc. I was still waiting for a call.

This morning I did as we do every day...rushed around here like crazy ladies getting Lil Bug ready for school and Lil Princess ready to go outside in the cold. I took Princess out to the car and was returning to the house to grab Bug when suddenly a bus appeared at the end of our driveway. I asked him why he was here and indicated that he was supposed to call to discuss times and we were to start sending Bug on the bus on Monday. He said he was doing a "trial run" for timing purposes but since we were ready, he wanted to take Bug with him.

I ran in the house and announced, "Bug! The bus is here and you get to ride it to school." To which she responded, "REALLY?!?! Where is it? Oh, mommy, I get to ride the bus!" I grabbed her walker, her backpack and quickly whisked her out the door and to the street.

I climbed up on the bus and with the assistance of the driver, she snuggled into the seat. I helped buckle her in and all the while she had a grin plastered across her face. I stood there for a moment or two discussing details with the driver when suddenly Lil Bug burst into hysteria. She was sobbing so hard she couldn't even talk. The driver said, "this is normal for some kids the first couple of times...just go, she will be fine." I took a quick glance over and my beautiful first born child and saw fear and confusion in her eyes. I jumped off the bus and away they went.

It all happened so fast that I didn't even get pics of her on the bus for the first time. (I will take some the next time she is on the bus and pretend it was the first time!!!)

I came into the house (at some point I had brought Lil Princess back into the house) and there sat Princess crying and saying, "cee-cee." At that moment I lost it. I had just sent my scared, tiny, trusting 4-year-old on a bus with a stranger with minimal discussion and absolutely no warning.

I cried. Princess cried. And, as I learned when I called the school and talked to her teacher, Bug was crying too. In fact, Bug was crying so hard that they had to take her out of the classroom. Fortunately her physical therapist (Stephanie) was in the building working with another student. Bug has a great relationship with Stephanie and was more than happy to spend some time away from the class with her today. Stephanie talked her through her fear and promised that she would personally put Bug on the bus to return back home to mommy. Bug was thrilled with that idea.

Noon rolled around and her bus rolled up in front of the house. I nearly ran down the door trying to get out to her. I half expected to see her sobbing again and half expected to see her laughing and having a great time on the bus. Fortunately for both of us the latter was accurate. She was smiling and laughing and having a great time. The bus driver said she was delightful and even asked him to sing a song with her on the way home but he replied, "Mr. Ken doesn't do that kind of thing." LOL

While I was waiting for her I realized that the biggest problem of the whole morning wasn't that she was riding the bus for the first time but that I hadn't done my job properly to prepare her for it. I didn't set the right expectations. She trusts me for that and I failed.

When she came in the house I sat her down and explained that the bus surprised me by coming today. I apologized to her for not giving her ample time to process and prepare for it. She said, "I forgive you, mommy" and ripped off her jacket, walked to her room and she had Princess played in there for nearly an hour...they were happy to be reunited!

So, I know that she is not totally scarred for life for what happened this morning and the truth is she is already over it. I am not over it yet, however. I am good at forgiving myself when I make mistakes but at the moment I am not ready to do that. I regret that I didn't just tell the driver that he could keep on going without her today and we would be ready on Monday but I didn't do that...that is my ultimate regret. So, for the rest of the day I will work on coming to grips with the fact that I let her down today and acknowledging that it probably won't be the last time in her life that it will happen. :(

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

and a few more

These were taken when we first tried on the costumes a week or so before halloween...try to ignore the obnoxious tags that are still attached. :)








































































Because I'm feeling down today...

here are some pics that make me smile and lift me up. Enjoy!





























































God Bless America

Well, the election day has come and gone. I can say that I did not vote for the current president-elect. The reasons are personal and many. I am concerned about a "socialist" America. I'm worried about the direction of our country and its role globally. But, even so, I am proud to be a part of a country that looked past color last night and voted to elect the first African American president. Maybe now we can look less at race as a nation and more at being American.

My prayer is that our country will return to its Christian roots. I have always prayed that Gods will be done and honestly, it very well might have been...I don't know. Time will tell.

Either way, today is a new day. May God bless America!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm speechless!

No, seriously...I can't speak. I have completely lost my voice. What a strange feeling to open your mouth, form a word and nothing comes out except the occassional squeak. Annoying!

The girls don't know what to think. But Lil Bug keeps telling me to "speak louder, mommy!" Apparently the whispers aren't working for her either.

Of course, today I am supposed to teach but how does one lecture without a voice? My students will be thrilled! :) I emailed in to the school to let them know that I couldn't call in.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"God told me it was time to walk, so I got up and walked."

I am still working on figuring out just what to write about this, but wanted to get it out there sooner rather than later if for no other reason than to use this blog as a diary of sorts. Since I don't write anything down anywhere else, this serves as my memory.

Ever since Lil Bug was born I have always sensed there is something different, something special about her. I know that all people feel that way about their children and to be honest, I am not sure if what I feel is the same as all other parents or not.

From the moment she was born I knew she was blessed by God. I also knew we were blessed by God to have her.

She has always had a hunger to know more about Jesus. Since she was old enough to talk, she would pray. She begs to hear stories from the Bible and we have read through it already once in her short life and we are working on going through it again.

She knows things that I wouldn't expect a child her age to know...things about Jesus, things from the Bible. She listens very well and remembers all the little details. It is almost eery what she can recall.

One day my friend was over with her son and daughter. Her son, L, has several brain damage and is unable to sit up, talk, eat (he has a feeding tube), etc. Lil Bug said to my friend, "when I get older I will be able to hold L up all by myself and then you can have a little break. My friend said, "hopefully by the time you are big enough, L will be able to sit up on his own." Lil Bug responded, "YES! That would be a miracle and would be wonderful. Lets pray to God now and he can answer our prayers." So Lil Bug laid her hands on L and prayed. My friend got tears in her eyes and thanked Lil Bug for caring enough to stop her play to pray for her good friend, L. My friend was babysitting as I was at work and missed this entire encounter but from what my friend told me, it was very sweet. Lil Bug didn't think anything of it.

Lil Bug often talks about playing with Jesus. She says, "When I die and go to Heaven Jesus will play with me. We will have so much fun." She is never scared of death and talks about Heaven as if she already knows what to expect. She has even mentioned 'her' angels in the past.

The other day I was dropping Lil Bug off to school and as we were getting out of the care I realized that both she and I forgot to put her glasses on before we walked out the door. I told her teacher I would be right back with her glasses and ran home to get them. When I returned Bugs physical therapist was working with another student near the front door. She said she wanted to talk to me about the things she has been working with Bug on. She ran through some things, some concerns, etc. Then she said, "I asked Bug why she decided to start walking a couple of weeks ago. She was very confident in her answer, which was, 'God told me it was time to walk, so I got up and walked.' and I said, who am I to argue with God?" :)

I know without a shadow of a doubt that God speaks directly to people. I know this. I don't question it. However, for Bug to be hearing God that clearly for some reason just blows my mind. I know she has a special relationship with her Maker. I know that she loves her God. I am so thankful for this. I really, truly am. I just hope that I never mess up her innocence, her beliefs. I want her to hold onto that relationship so tight and never let go. I don't want my imperfections as her mom to intervene with her perfect God.

Being a parent is an awesome responsibility, but I feel the responsibility on The Designer and I to not screw her up is HUGE.

I'm such a lucky mom!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lil Bug & Jesus

I have a post I am trying to formulate about Lil Bugs relationship with God. For some reason it is hard to put to words. When I figure out just how to say what I want to say, I will share.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Baby talk

Lil Princess is finding her voice over the past couple of days. She says the normal "momma," "dadda," "done," etc. She signs milk, please, more and eat. But today she started to actually try to use real words.

We had just arrived home after dropping Bug off to school and as I was unbuckeling Princess from her seat I said, "Time to get baby out of the car." So, for the next couple of hours she wandered around the house saying, "baby...babeeee...baaaabeeee!." Then, the dog came into the room and she suddenly switched do saying, "dogeeeeeeee!" Which was quickly followed by some hugs and kisses for the pooch.

Just before bed I asked her if she wanted to call N. She said N's name, clear as day! It was so cute. So we called N and said goodnight. N sang her a song while she snuggled into my arms. So sweet!

Oh, and she started saying "NO!" today too...now that word is going to get old real fast!!!

costumes

The girls are going to be bugs...ladybugs to be specific. The costumes are in the mail...I can't wait for them to get here! They will be so cute!!! Of course, photos will follow.

I didn't expect them to be "matching" but Lil Bug really wanted her sissy to be the same as her. I figure this is probably the one and only year they will both think it is cool to be the same thing so why not let 'em, right?

We don't even go trick-or-treating. We will go to Boo at the Zoo next week and on Oct. 31 we will go to harvest festival at our church, which happens to have a ton of fun games and several tons of candy to hand out to all the little ones. Lil Bug will get to wear her costume to school for a little party there.

Sick again...or still?

I'm not sure which. I thought we were all healthy again for about 2 minutes and than BAM! Lil Princess and I have symptoms again. What the heck?!?! Oh well, it is just a cold, but still...how annoying?!?! The Designer and Lil Bug seem better for now at least. Yay!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another plug for STARS

Dear friends and family!

I am writing to you this morning to tell you that The Designer, Lil Bug, Lil Princess and I (along with some wonderful friends and family) are joining together to form Team Gracie at the 2nd annual STARS (Seeking Techniques Advancing Research in Shunts) walk-a-thon. The walk is on Saturday, Oct. 25th at 10am and it walks along the Grand Haven boardwalk (keep your fingers crossed that it isn't freezing cold and blowy like it was last year!).

As you probably know, Lil Bug received a shunt when she was just 2 days old. The shunt serves the purpose of regulating the fluid that surrounds her brain. Without the shunt, she would have likely died. Even though the shunt has served its purpose, we have already had to have one surgery to "fix" it as it was not working properly. When Lil Bug has a revision, it is not something to be taken lightly. It is full on brain surgery complete with a partially shaved head. No fun for anyone involved!!! Sadly shunt failure is VERY common. About 75% of all shunts fail and once you have one revision, the statistics go up from there.

There is currently no public funding for research and development of shunts. As a result, the STARS organization was born. The organization looks for private donations to support research so that Grace and others like her may have less (or better yet NO) revisions in their lifetime.

So, the reason for this post is two-fold.

First, if you live in or near the Grand Haven, MI area, we would love to have you join our team for the walk on Oct. 25th. There is a $25 registration fee that can be paid on the morning of the walk. You can raise additional funds for our team as well. Please let me know if you intend to join our team so I have accurate numbers!

Second, I am asking you to please consider donating to our team. I've made it easy to do by simply clicking on the link on the top right side of this blog.

PLEASE LINK TO THIS BLOG POST WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

You can view more information about the WALK by linking here.

You can print out a registration and pledge form (if you plan to walk) by linking here.

You can donate right now by visiting this link or by clicking the DONATE button located at the top right hand side of this page.
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Thank you!
-The Professor

P.S. I am still donating 100% of the proceeds from my Etsy shop from not until Oct. 25th.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I was in the mood...

for a new do! (please ignore the dark circles under my eyes...it's been a long week!)

Before:
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After:
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our walking miracle

I wrote not long ago about how some miracles happen instantly while others are a process. Since before Lil Bug was born and still today I believe that miracles have happened and will continue to happen in her life. Even though I firmly believe this, I am surprised and ecstatic to say that God has worked yet again in her little life to do something truly amazing.

The past couple of days Lil Bug has shown an interst in walking without her crutches or walker. Typically she goes a couple of steps, flails her arms around and eventually falls down or lands up against a wall.

That has changed! This morning she decided she was going to walk and praise Jesus, she did. I was able to catch a short walk on video this morning before church. She is now walking from one end of the house to the other without holding on, without her crutches and without her walker. She does no flail her arms about and has great control as you can see in this video.

Please join me in praising and thanking God for this miracle in Bugs life. I know there are many more in her future!!!

Fall Craft Fair

Yesterday was the first of 4 or 5 craft fairs I am doing this fall. I was hoping for a better turnout, but it wasn't terrible. I did alright with sales. I have added new product to my line including nursing covers, toddler pillows, toddler pillow cases, checkbook covers, burp clothes. Of course I still offered my mei tai style carriers and bibs. People seemed to really like the products as I had great feedback. I look forward to the next show, which is in 2 weeks.

Here are a couple of pics from my booth...I had two tables in the booth.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seriously?!?! I'm speechless

I saw this video on a friends blog and they had their post titled, "Just when I start to feel ok with dancing in church..."

I am seriously speechless! No idea what to think about this...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Luckybug Boutique- 100% of profits to support shunt research

STARS-kids strives to ensure a brighter future for shunted children. A shunt is the preferred treatment for hydrocephalus, a neurologic condition affecting 1 in 500 persons. Excess cerebrospinal fluid collects in the brain increasing intracranial pressure and compromising neurofunction. Shunt complications are common. Hydrocephalus is life-threatening. Research to create non-invasive treatment and find a cure is critically underfunded and absolutely necessary. Proceeds from the 2nd annual walk-a-thon on Oct. 25th (held in 3 locations: Grand Haven, MI; Detroit, MI; Miami, FL) will fund qualified research projects directly.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Lil Bug has hydrocephalus. Without a shunt to relieve the excess fluid off her brain, she would die. She had the shunt placed when she was just 2 days old. She has already had to have one revision (which requires brain surgery) when she was 2 years old. Shunt failure rates are extremely high and statistically speaking, Lil Bug will face many revisions throughout her life (although we pray against that!). Each revision exposes her to potential blood and brain infections and takes her away from school (and eventually work). As her mother I am extremely interested in assisting any way I can in raising funds for more research to be conducted. I want Lil Bugs future to be surgery free!!!

I have registered a team for the walk on the 25th and I am working to raise as much money as possible. One of the ways I plan to get money is from my Etsy shop. So, from now until Oct. 24th I am giving 100% of any profits earned from http://www.luckybugboutique.etsy.com/ to STARS (seeking techniques advancing research in shunts). If you have considered buying in the past and haven't gotten around to it, please strongly consider making the purchase now. You will get a quality product made with love and I will get money to put towards this great cause. I am in the process of adding a few GREAT products to my Etsy shop. I have toddler sized pillows and pillow cases, beautiful, trendy nursing covers (hooter hiders), and checkbook covers to add soon. If you are interested in any of these products, let me know and I will get you some pics and prices. I am not sure when I will get them on the Etsy site as I have been busy making them for upcoming craft fairs.

If you are not interested in making a purchase but you are interested in supporting this great cause, please contact me directly at luckybugboutique (at) sbcglobal.net and I can let you know how to do just that!

If you live in the Grand Haven, MI area and are interested in walking with our team, we would love to have you! Please email me and I will get you the details.

Lil Bug and I both thank you for your support!!!

http://www.STARS-kids.org

Vacation to MS

When I first became a stay-at-home mom (modified version!) it quickly dawned on me that I no longer got "breaks" throughout my "work" day. I no longer earned vacation time or sick time. All of the fringe benefits were virtually gone. It was a rude awakening for me, let me tell you that! The Designer and I talked about it, the adjustments and my frustration and he made an offer I have yet to hear about from any other SAHM. He told me that every year he would give me one of his weeks of vacation from work.

So, what does that mean exactly? Well, he has 3+ weeks of paid vacation each year. Often times he takes a week off to spend with us during the summer. He takes a day here or there to go fishing throughout the year. In addition he said he would take a week off (consecutively or individual days) to stay with the girls so I could take a vacation if I so desired.

I have never taken him up on his offer. But this year was different. My BFF lives in the Gulfport, MS area. Her DH is in the navy and they are stationed there. She has a son who will be 4 in October. Twin girls who will be 2 in November. And, she is pregnant with baby #4, due in November. We wanted to get together and she was not in any position to travel so I decided to head south to visit the great state of MS.

I arrived on a Friday afternoon. As soon as I landed I was informed that tropical storm Fay was due to hit their house around 1am that night. Sounds like fun! :) Fortunately it wasn't much except some mild wind and rain. After a few days the sun peeked out and I got to enjoy some extremely hot, sticky days down on the Gulf Coast. About 1/2 way through my trip her DH came home and informed us that Hurricane Gustav was on track to hit their area so we spent a good amount of time packing up her house into their 5th wheel so they could evacuate, which they did a day after I flew back home.

While I was there I was able to witness firsthand some of the devastation that still remains from Hurricane Katrina. I saw some people putting on the finishing touches on their brand new homes that they are just getting to replace from Katrina 3 years ago. It was feeling bad for those individuals as they prepared for yet another hurricane to potentially take everything away from them again. Fortunately for my BFF and her family, they had no water or wind damage. They were truly blessed.

In spite of the packing we found time to play as well. We spent one day pampering ourselves with facials, dinner and shopping. We were able to sew some. We took her kids to the children's museum. My friend works part-time as a x-ray tech and so she called her friends up at the hospital and asked if they had time to do an U/S scan on her tummy so I could see the little peanut growing in her belly. She and her husband have decided they do not want to know the gender of the baby. She did, however, allow the tech to let me take a peek so I know what they are having. It was wonderful to see that darling little baby all happy and wiggly in there.

The girls did great with daddy while I was away. Daddy did great too. He did say he would never want to be a stay-at-home dad and was so grateful that I was willing to do it, but he did enjoy himself with the girls too. Lil Bug missed me a lot, but didn't really get fussy about it until about 1.5 days before I returned. I didn't think Lil Princess noticed my absence much, but when I returned home I learned I was wrong...ever since then she clings to my...literally. I can't walk anywhere without her hanging on my leg. She wants me to hold her ALL the time.

I had a great time and I look forward to my vacation next year!!!!!! Hmmm, I wonder where I will go?

*****
I wanted to include some pics from during and after Hurricane Gustav but they aren't working at the moment. I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy 4th birthday, Lil Bug!!!

It was 4 years ago this morning that I went to the dr. to get written permission to fly to California (to have Lil Bug by c-section as we were part of a study for prenatal surgery on Spina Bifida children). When I went to the dr.'s office they did an exam and said I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced (sp?). They hooked me up to a machine and told me I was having regular contractions. And, with all of that, they told me it was safe for me to get on an airplane and fly across the country to San Francisco.

I was stressed, feeling horrible and scared as all get out! I came home with strict orders to not get out of bed until I boarded the plane the next day. I called my mom and asked her to come help me get things together for us to leave. The Designer and my sister left to get some grocery's for the dog/house sitter.

About 2 hours after I got home from the dr.'s office I was trying to get up off the couch to use the restroom and my water broke. My mom freaked out on me! We had just moved to Michigan and didn't even know how to get to the hospital. I called The Designer at the store and he was checking out...rather than pay and take the grocery's he just left everything and bolted!!!

We arrived at the hospital and I had to argue with the Dr.'s about having a c-section. Fortunately I had asked for a copy of my records while at the dr.'s earlier in the day and they reviewed it. About 6 hours of active, painful contractions later they finally granted me the c-section and my beautiful, fragile little Gracie Bug was born.

I didn't get to see her until after I was out of recovery. I couldn't hold her for nearly 2 weeks due to her back surgery and brain surgery.

But, the moment I laid eyes on her in her tiny little covered bed, I knew that my life would never be the same. My heart was now being carried around on the outside of my body. From her beautiful dark hair (which was half shaved off for the surgery) to her tiny little pudgy feet, she was perfect!

Now, when I look at her, I see miracle after miracle. She is more than I could have ever dreamed. I have learned more from her about life than from anyone else in my entire life. She makes me a better person. I am honored and proud to be her mother.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIL BUG! Mommy loves SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much!!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Where did August go? (and list)

Well, you may or may not have noticed, but I was absent from blogland for the entire month of August. I have just one question...where did August go?

I swear I was just gearing up for it and BHAM! before I could even process it, it was gone. What a shame.

I have a ton of things to blog about but just don't have the time, energy or even the interest lately. So, I am going to start a list of topics I hope to blog about soon so that when I do have the time/energy/interest once again, I will remember what I need to write about.

Lil Princess' birthday
Trip to Mississippi
Family reunion & wedding
My birthday
Coast Guard Festival
Luckybugboutique.etsy.com
Fall/winter craft fairs
Lil Bugs first day back to school (which happens to be tomorrow!)
Teaching
The Presidential race
Hurricane Gustav
Joy Unlimited
Launch of Rockford Orphan Care Ministry on Sept. 7th

There's more...when I think if them I will amend so I have a comprehensive list for later. See you soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hurry, sale ends tomorrow at midnight

Please remember that my 25% off sale in my Etsy shop, Luckybug Boutique, ends tomorrow. Let me know if there is something you have your eye on.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What happened?

This was my week to teach Sunday School at church. I only volunteer once a month because I am involved in other areas of ministry, but I do like the the one week a month that I get to be with the kiddos.

Normally I am in the 1st service with the 3-year-olds, but today I filled in in the 2nd service 2-year-old room. The service lasts about 1 hour 15 minutes. It isn't hard to stay busy for that short of a period of time. We did our craft, played outside, read a Bible story, had snack, played with the trains and the tools and the cars...good stuff.

So, church is released and all the parents return to pick up their children. All of the kids stand there waiting anxiously for their parents faces to appear in the doorway so they can be released. There was one little girl in class, however, that didn't look for her parents faces. She didn't seem interested at all in what was going on. She didn't talk. She just watched what I was doing and a couple of times lifted her arms to indicate she wanted to be picked up.

Her little name tag indicated she was a "guest." After a little digging, I learned that she had only be to our church with her parents a couple of times. She was beautiful. She had a perfect little round face and her curly hair was to die for.

Ok, back to the when the parents are there to retrieve their children. First, little Logan leaves, then Kaiden, then Silas...a few others leave and the only one left is little S. She doesn't seem sad that her parents aren't there. I released the assistant and S and I just played. She smiled for the first time the entire time I saw her when we built a huge tower out of soft blocks and crashed them down. She didn't know how to stack, but caught on really fast. She and I kept ourselves very entertained as we waited for her parents. Where were they?

First 10, then 20 minutes pass...no parents for S. Then 30 minutes. Still no parents. The director of the Sunday School program comes into the room to clean up and notices I am still there. She promptly reminds me that I can go, but I point over to S and said, "her parents didn't show up for her...do you know where they are at?"

She was shocked...the church was basically cleared out. She suggested that maybe her parents were up front for prayer support and went to look for them. She returned telling me they were not in there. She talked to the other head lady and the two of them set out to search the entire church, every last room, looking for her parents...they returned with no results.

Beautiful, quiet, reserved little S was left behind. Tell me, how in the world can a set of parents forget their child? How? I mean, she was one of the sweetest little girls I have ever met. I fell in love almost immediately...how could they just leave her behind?

Then about 35 minutes after church was done here come her parents...smiling and laughing. The dad was more interested in playing with the toys than he was in playing with S. She didn't seem all that excited to see them but did crawl up into her mothers arms fairly quickly. They never said anything about where they were or why they were late. They did comment, "oh, gosh...we are the last ones here, huh?"

They collected her belongings and away they went.

I spoke with the two ladies that were out on a hunt for this little girls parents and they were positive the parents must have gotten into their cars and left the church grounds either on purpose or on accident.

So what in the world happened? Did they just use the childcare at church as their babysitter while they went up the road and got groceries? Did they run errands rather than actually attend the church service? Did they honestly leave church and forget her?

I got into my car to head home and I just burst into tears for this darling little girl. If this happened today, what else has she endured? Is she safe? Is she healthy? Oh, I just want to tuck her in tonight and tell her everything is going to be ok, but I can't...I don't know if everything will be ok for her.

So, I cry and I pray...that is really all I can do. I pray for her little life and I cry for her at the same time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

25% Etsy special just for YOU!

I am offering an Etsy discount just for my blog readers through the remainder of July. If you click on the links to the left, it will take you to my Etsy shop or you can click here. If you see something you would like for yourself or as a gift, let me know you are a blog reader and I will discount your order by 25%. This discount will not be combined with the free shipping offer currently offered and the discount does not apply to shipping charges.

You can either make the purchase, pay and I will reimburse you via paypal the difference, or you can let me know what you want and I can adjust the listing to reflect the savings.

I am currently working on building up my stock for the fall/winter craft fair season, so if you don't see something you want, let me know what you are looking for...I may just have it already done.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another step in my adoption journey

I am about to embark on yet another step in my adoption journey. One that I never imagined, but I'm excited about it anyways.

I think I mentioned a while back that I am on the steering committee for an orphan care ministry that was started earlier this year. It is really getting legs and I can see great things starting to come about in this group. I know that God is involved and I believe that He will use this group to get "hard-to-place" children out of the foster care system and into permanent, loving homes.

Ok, now to get to the point of this post. A few weeks back I received an email from the owner of a local adoption agency. She sent the email to myself and the others that are on the orphan care ministry steering committee. The email basically stated that she received a grant to set up a Board of Directors and she was interested in having someone from our orphan care group on the board.

Now instantly when I read this post, I was interested. However, I have a habit of getting myself signed up for too many things and spreading myself too thin. So, I emailed her letting her know that I am interested, but wanted to pray about it to make sure that it was Gods plan for me to be involved, not just my own.

She was on vacation for a week and a half and then when she returned I emailed her letting her know that I would like more info (time commitment, responsibilities, etc.) She called me today to say that she was hoping and praying that I would respond. She figured I would fit into the Board for a couple of reasons. First, she wanted to have an adoptive parent on the board...check! Second, she wanted someone from the orphan care ministry group on the board....check! So, as of this afternoon I agreed to be on the board of directors for this agency.

Now, on a side note about this agency...they are NOT the agency that we used to adopt Lil Princess. They are almost the complete opposite in many ways. First, they are extremely interested in setting up parenting plans for expectant moms. Second, they are only interested in doing what is right for ALL parties involved...not what is right for their pocketbook (which generally means only doing what is right for the adoptive parents since they are the ones paying the bills). Third, they are all about educating prospective adoptive parents about what adoption really looks like and feels like...not just the sunshine and puppy dogs version.

We probably would have used this agency when we adopted had we known it existed. I only learned about it 1/2 way through our wait and although I contacted her at that point, we were not going to switch out of the program we were currently in (but we were extremely tempted!) The owner, Cathy, is a Christian and acts as such. She doesn't have "christian" in the name of her agency, but she acts much more christian than the adoption agency we used which does have "christian" in their name.

So, I have no idea what is in store for me, but I look forward to it. I'll keep you in the loop of what it looks like to be on the board of an adoption agency. :)

Miracles can be a process

Sometimes I think that people forget about all of the miracles that have happened in Lil Bugs life. When I was pregnant I would often pray that she would be born whole, with no hole in her spine. I prayed to God that she would come out with no brain damage, no spinal damage, no nerve damage. I used to bargain with God by praying things like, "I know you can do this, so if you do it for her, just think of the people that will be in awe of your work and turn their lives to you." Well, obviously when she was born, she was not born whole. I was a bit surprised, I will not lie, because I honestly thought she would be born healed. I really did think that God would perform one huge miracle and she would be completely healthy. She wasn't. I wasn't mad at God, but disappointed that my greatest hope didn't happen. I sort of figured that I must not have prayed hard or long enough. I couldn't see the big picture at the time.

Now, nearly 4 years after her birth I have a much clearer mind and can really break down and analyze what and how God has worked in and through my life and Bugs life. First, I noticed that people that are around Bug often forget the many, many miracles that God has already performed on her. Remember that according to her brain scans, she has scrambled eggs for brains and by no right should she be able to talk...however, by the grace of God she never stops! So often, her voice, her language is taken for granted. There are a ton of stories like that about Bug that I could go back and retell (I have mentioned most of them in prior posts, so if you are bored or interested, feel free to dig around for them!)

But, as each miracle unfolds, it is a reminder of the fact that our God is a living, breathing God and constantly at work. He is always doing things to and for Bug and I love that I can see things as they unfold. For example, last week Bug had an appointment with her orthotics specialist. Her current set of A.F.O's (ankle-foot orthotics, or "leg braces") are about 6 months old, so they reevaluate to see if they are still doing their job or if a new set must be constructed for her. As it turns out, she needs a new set. For one, she is getting bigger...her feet grew 1.75 shoe sizes in 6 months. Second, God performed yet another miracle and her old braces were actually working against that! Since her feet have no feeling, she wears the braces. Since she wears the braces, her muscles don't get used in the lower parts of her legs and in her feet. Since those muscles don't get used, they are very weak and don't go the direction they are supposed to. One curves out and the other curves in making them both go the same direction. The braces help keep them aligned so when she is standing, she is not causing damage to the rest of her body, like her spine. Anywho, the orthotics dude took off her braces and he couldn't believe his eyes...her right foot has completely straightened out! That's right...no more curving. In fact, she can even stand up without braces now. We don't let her because it is not safe, but she can if she has to. It is amazing. God is amazing.

And, to be honest, if God would have answered my original prayer, which was to instantly heal her before birth, I can not say for certain that my faith would have grown as it has. My relationship with Him would probably be much weaker than it is now. I get to get excited over and over again when I see the miracles and healing he sends her way as he answers my prayers. I get to blog about it and spread my infectious love for Him. I get to shout out that our God is a living God who hears our prayers!

So, Bug is a miracle in the works. I still have no doubt that she will be 100% healed when all is said and done (I mean before she gets to Heaven because, of course, she will be whole there). I am just enjoying the fact that her miracles are a process and not a one time experience and I am so thankful for that! I hate that she has had to suffer from her birth defects, but I am thankful for what God has taught me along this journey.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Easy way to raise money for shunt research! www.goodsearch.com

There is a small charity organization located on the other side of our state called STARS (Seeking Techniques Advancing Research in Shunts). Last October they held their first ever walk-a-thon (well, first for this area) and Bug and I were supposed to walk except the weather was awful, so I walked with my dad and left Bug behind (with her grandma).

The purpose of the organization is just as the name implies...to raise money for research. As it stands, there is currently NO public funding for shunt research. Right now there is a 60-70% failure rate during the first year of placement. I can't be the only one who things that is a ridiculously HUGE number of failures? Bugs didn't "fail" per se, but she did outgrow it and had to have a revision last year. We are talking about brain surgery here, so not something we want to mess around with unless we have to.

So, here is where you come in...maybe you could change your search engine from Google to goodsearch.com? It is that simple. Every time you use goodsearch.com for your legitimate search, they donate money to any charity they have an affiliation with (the list is VERY long) and you can view how much they have donated to date. If you don't have another charity that is near and dear, would you mind using goodsearch.com and selecting Seeking Techniques Advancing Research in Shunts - STARS Kids (Livonia, MI) ID: 875762

Here is an excerpt from their site:
Here's a new easy way to raise money for your favorite cause. Just start using GoodSearch.com as your search engine and online shopping mall. Every time you search the Internet or make an online purchase at one of their partner merchants, GoodSearch makes a donation to your favorite nonprofit or school and it's powered by Yahoo! so you get great search results!


I am a Google addict, so switching was going to be a bit of a challenge for me. To solve the problem I just made it my homepage. Now, as soon as I open my browser it is the first thing I see, hence reminding me regularly to use it rather than Google for my searches.

Bug and I both thank you!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An award??? Well, thank you very much! :)

A big thank you to Lisa who has honored me with an award from Arte y Pico. Lisa has been a Voyage follower for a long time and I appreciate her friendship, blogship and words of encouragement. Also, check out her blog...she and her hubby are this close to being a waiting adoptive family. WOOHOO! And, for those that are curious...they are going to make awesome parents!!!

And the rules to go along with this award are:
1. Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award (http://arteypico.blogspot.com/)

Ok, so my five picks are...

1) Rachel @ maydaygirl - after a roller coaster of emotions and medical intervention, she is nearly 1/2 way through her first pregnancy. She is a riot to read.

2) Lee @ bert, bean, rockstar & schmoozer- She is an awesome mommy to her crew of kids (some of which have special needs)

3) Sherri @ From the mind of a bmom- One of the coolest people I have ever met! I adore her and don't spend nearly enough time talking to her anymore :( Oh, and she is a birthmom (duh! Like you couldn't tell from the title of her blog.)

4) Anita @ Meek, the Jerks and Me-She was already given the award by Lisa, but I wanted to list her here too...her blog is funny, emotional, educational and loving. She rocks and I cannot wait until her child(ren) are home with her forever!!!

5) Sarah @ elliskees...a new day- Sarah and her husband and son experienced a loss far greater than anything I have experienced...they lost their beautiful little Ellie to childhood cancer. I have followed her blog for a long time and if you take the time to read, you will find that Sarah is a woman of faith...a child of God. She is inspirational, witty and beautiful, both inside and out.

I want to thank each of these woman for opening their hearts with me (and all the other readers). Because of your words, I am a stronger woman.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chicago, baby!

Last Friday Bug, Princess, my mom and I loaded up the Murano and drove down to Chicago. We went there for the purpose of meeting some of my adoption board buddies. In addition, we planned some other fun things to do.

Princess is NOT a good car traveler. In fact, she hates it so much that she screams until she throws up (I know, not a good picture!). So, when we made it all the way to Chicago (about a 3.5 hour drive) on Friday with no vomit, we were elated! We spent the day at Navy Pier and then went and played at Dave & Busters. It was late when we left there and headed for our hotel. Apparently the last 30 minutes in the car was just too much and she screamed until she got sick all over everything. Bug was so tired that she fell asleep on the way and after listening to Princess cry for a good period of time I looked back and saw that she was plugging her ears in her sleep. Then, after much frustration, she muttered, "will you please give that kid a bottle?" Again, while still asleep. My mom and I were very amused.

Princess slept TERRIBLE on Friday night. She was awake at least once an hour and most hours she was up 2-3 times. By morning I was delirious. We got our goodies packed up and headed over to Joy's house for the first annual AT get together. It was a great time and I was able to meet (in person) many of the ladies I chat with online and their beautiful babies. There were 5 adopted babies in all and 2 more children. If Princess was feeling better and more social, it would have been a better experience, but we still had fun. Bug made friends with Jane (age 7) and they played great!

After another sleepless night in Chicago we took it easy Sunday morning. Later in the day we headed over to visit with my sister and my two nieces. I haven't seen them since last summer and it was their first time meeting Princess. The girls really enjoyed playing with their cousins! It was nice to see Brenda too. We aren't super close (ok, who am I kidding? We aren't close at all!) but it is still nice to see her.

Sunday night my mom took on Princess duty and although we were all staying in the same small hotel room, I was able to get a tiny bit more sleep, which did wonders for me. We took the girls swimming at the hotel pool and then packed up and headed out. About 1.5 hours into our journey home Princess woke up and coincidentally we were right by Michigan City, which has a large outlet mall so, we HAD to stop and shop. A couple of hours and a few bargains later we buckled back into the car and headed home. We arrived back in Grand Rapids around 9pm.

This morning I got the girls all cleaned up and dressed and we headed to the medi-center (the pediatrician was on vacation today) and 3 hours later we had a diagnosis of yet another double ear infection. This is the third one Princess has had in as many months. But, we have drugs, so she should begin feeling better real soon.

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Princes and Jack...aren't they cute? Look at how they are holding hands!

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These are the AT girls...Jane, Bug, Princess and Edith

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Here are the AT girls and the babes.

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The babies!!! Oh so yummy and cute!

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Bug and her buddy, Jane

Sunday, June 15, 2008

12 years!

Twelve years ago today The Designer and I walked down the aisle and said our vows. We were young, both only 19. We had no clue what life held for us down the road. It didn't matter. We had each other and we had God and that was all we needed.

As I sit here, watching the minutes pass until our anniversary is over, I thought I might write a letter to the girl that said her vows that day. I have a few things I think she should know.


June 15, 1996

Dear self-

Today you are making a life changing decision. You are committing yourself to the man you have loved for the past 3 years and will love for the rest of your life. "Life" sure does sound like a long time, doesn't it? But do not fear. Time time passes (much too) quickly. Before you know it, you will be married for 12 years and have a couple beautiful daughters to be chasing around.

You will have good days and you will have bad days. Really enjoy those good days. Remember the little details in those days. Remember what it smells like, what it feels like, what it looks like. You will need those memories to help you through the tough days. I would like to tell you there aren't tough days, but there are. I wish I could tell you there aren't many, at least, but that is not true either. There ARE tough days. Even so, you will survive because you have your best friend by your side every step of the way.

When you and your hubby decide to up and move 1200 miles away from any soul you ever knew, don't worry. It all works out great! You WILL love the life you created in Denver. Again, enjoy it because it doesn't last long. Soon enough you will be back home with family surrounding you wanting to know every last detail of your supposedly personal lives.

Enjoy your time before having children. Don't sweat it when you learn about your infertility. Your blessings will come. Enjoy the time trying *grin* Enjoy the dates. Enjoy the alone time. Enjoy the connection.

Soon enough children will come and most things change. You will not get as much alone time with your best friend. Instead, the alone time will be replaced with children's laughter and scraped knees, and singing children's Bible songs. It is at this time that one of the coolest things will happen. You will get to see your husband become a father. You will get to see him bring your children joy. You will get to see your kids (you will have two, by the way) cherish every moment with him. You will laugh with your kids. You will cry with your kids. You will get angry with your kids, but no matter what the experience, you are not alone...your best friend is always with you.

If things seem complicated, scary or overwhelming now, I want you to know that it will get even crazier...but you will survived. I promise you that. Although you are making a life commitment to this man, it is a commitment that you will be happy you made for the rest of your life.

Now, run off and enjoy that wedding. In 12 years you will barely remember the details, but you will sure enjoy showing the wedding pictures to your children. They will enjoy laughing at you because no matter how pretty you feel right now...that dress is NOT going to stay "in" fashion forever and you will look life a goof. :)

Peace out!

Love,
Me

My heart broke today

This morning I was reminded that I am the blessed parent of a special needs child. Nobody pointed at her. Nobody said anything harsh or rude. Nobody did anything at all. This is what happened...

We were on our way to church. Bug loves to "write" and draw so we always have a handy-dandy (aka a notebook) and some colored pencils so she can express herself. As soon as she was buckled into her carseat, she reached for her goodies and then promptly asked me to draw a picture of Grandma Shi. (a brief history...Grandma Shi is The Designers maternal step grandmother. She is in hospice care, dying from COPD and pneumonia.) I made a feeble attempt at drawing her and handed it back to Bug, asking if it looked like her. She laughed and said, "NOPE!"

I explained that although I tried to draw her good, drawing is not one of the things God made me really good at. I then went on to explain that daddy's good at drawing buildings and people. My gifts are teaching and relating to people. I asked her what she was good at.

That is the moment that my heart broke. I mean, literally time stopped, tears welled and it hit me once again...I'm parenting a beautiful creature that happens to have a physical impairment.

Bug has a great number of things that she is gifted in. It is easy to see that already. For one, she charms the socks of everyone she meets. She is very intelligent. She has a great love for reading and I think that ultimately that will be a gift of hers as well. She could have said her gifts were a number of things. But, Bug didn't hestitate at all, instead she said quietly mustered the courage to say, "I'm not good at walking. I try so hard and I just fall down. My legs don't work."

I froze. I needed to say something, but nothing was coming to me. I looked over at The Designer and he was welling with tears too. Praise God, because He quickly gave me the words to speak to my dear daughter. This is what God gave me to say to her, "Bug, you ARE good at walking. You just have to use tools to make you good at it. Daddy is GREAT at drawing, but he needs a pencil to do his job. The pencil is his tool. I am good at teaching, but I need textbooks to do my job. The books are my tools. You are a good walker, but you need a walker or crutches to walk. The walker and your crutches are your tools."

I looked back at my sweet, innocent little Bug in the backseat, hoping that she heard me, understood me. When I looked, she was all smiles. She said, "I AM a good walker, I just have to use my tools!"

I know this is not the end of these conversations. But, for today, I thank God for helping me have the words and strength to build my little girls self esteem.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh, yummy!

So, I just finished listing my new creation on Etsy (darling bibs!) and decided to go promote them in the Etsy chatrooms. While in there, I "window" shopped through the other shops and came across DelectableDelights. Take a look at those yummies! They will make you drool.

If you aren't already doing so, go shop on Etsy. You can buy handmade products and find lovely, one of a kind goodies to give as gifts or spoil yourself with.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lovely day outside

Yesterday was the first day about a week that it wasn't raining with severe weather. We took advantage by first taking a walk (girls in the wagon) to the bank to make our deposit. When we got home we just played in the front yard. Take a look...

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Look how big I am!

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Gorgeous Bug!

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Scrunchy face

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This is the "I'm not happy" look. We see it more and more lately. :) If you look cloesly you can see that she is trying very hard to not smile right about then.

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Self-portrait of Bug and I

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Princess has 2 teeth on the top and 2 teeth on the bottom. She also has the next top 2 and the next bottom 2 teeth coming in. Soon enough she will have 8 teeth...whoa!

Friday, June 6, 2008

I want to move

We moved to Michigan just weeks before Lil Bug was born. In August it will be 4 years. You would think that I would be over it by now, wouldn't you? Well, guess what? I'm not.

We moved to Colorado in 1998. We didn't know a single soul. We had no jobs. We had no place to live. We had no worries. No responsibilities. Nothing...it was AWESOME! It didn't take long for Colorado to feel like home to us. Both the Designer and I were able to spread our wings and grow there. We had breathing room, away from our families.

We loved it there. We had no intention of moving back here. God had different plans. When we decided to pursue fertility treatments, we both looked at each other and we just knew that we had to move back to Michigan. We didn't know why and neither one of us really wanted to except that we wanted our children to be close to family. It was just the right thing to do. So we made plans and we moved back.

We were happy to be here and it is WONDERFUL to be close to family. We have built-in free babysitters whenever we want. The girls get to know their grandparents, aunties and uncles. They love spending time with the family.

Even with all of that in mind, I would love to move back to Denver. I have mentioned it to the Designer lately and he just laughs me off. He doesn't think it is possible right now. He said, "maybe when the girls are grown." *sigh* He thinks that I would regret moving because then the girls wouldn't have their immediate family nearby and he might be right. I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that I miss Denver. I miss my old job (not that I would be working if I lived there anyways). I miss my friends. I miss the weather (a lot!). I miss the big city. I miss the culture and the dynamics. I miss the mountains. I miss a lot.

It is so tempting because the Designer has a job back there whenever he wants it. The school I taught at said they would take me back in a heartbeat if/when I am ready to move and work again. That is the major reason people don't move far away...it is hard to start over. But, for us, it wouldn't be starting over it would be picking up where we left off.

I don't know if we will ever move back, but if I had my way we definitely would.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What I needed to know

For some reason I was laying in bed this morning thinking about when I was pregnant with Lil Bug. I don't often think about that time because it was so stressful. But this morning it dawned on me that it didn't have to be so stressful. It didn't have to be so scary.

As you all know, we had difficulty conceiving a child and were only able to do so with medical assistance. When we were finally pregnant, we were relieved. We thought the worst was behind us.

We learned about the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus at 20 weeks gestation. That means we had 1/2 of our pregnancy to worry about our little blessing. We asked a TON of questions. We saw a lot of specialists, both in Colorado and in California. We had the best of the best assigned to us. We were told both extreme possibilities. We were supposedly prepared.

They warned me that Bug wouldn't walk. They warned me that she would be severely delayed cognitively. They warned me that she might never speak. I never, for one minute, accepted their warnings and often responded, "My God is bigger than your science. He is our physician."

There is one thing that they never told me, however. One thing that had me nearly paralyzed with fear. One thing that I was too afraid to even ask, to even talk to The Designer about. What could it be, you ask?

I had no idea if my baby...the one with excessive fluid on her brain, the one with severe defects on her back, the one I had been taking such good care of during my entire pregnancy...I wondered if she would look "normal." Would she have a huge head? Would she look like the other babies in the nursery?

This might seem shallow. This might seem trivial compared to the other things. But, it was my fear. Not once, during the 5 months of medical prodding, poking, analyzing, did any doctor assure me that I would still just be having a baby...like every other mother in the delivery ward.

I needed to know that. That one piece of information could have saved me a lot of stress.

So, if you happen upon my blog because you are pregnant with a blessing who happens to have Spina Bifida and/or Hydrocephalus and in case you were wondering...your baby will look perfectly normal. Don't waste energy worrying about that.

(Please know that even if Bug looked like an alien, I would have loved her with every ounce of me...I never for once worried about that. My fear was more based on how others would respond to and accept her.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Finalization pics

Here are the pics, as promised. The hearing went off without a hitch. The judge was very nice. She really enjoyed the girls. First she had us bring Princess up and she officially granted the order of adoption. Once that was done she asked us to bring Bug up there and officially ordered her Big Sister. She even gave her a Certificate of Sisterhood and she signed and dated it. Both girls got to hit the gavel to make their certificate "official." Princess didn't want to let go.

This morning Bug woke up and informed me that she no longer wants to be a doctor who delivers babies, but rather she would like to be a "judger." LOL...she is such a silly girl and has great goals for herself.

We had the girls grandparents and aunties there with us along with one of my very best friends and her parents. It was great to have loved ones there with us to be a part of this special day. It was a formality, but we wanted to honor its significance as well. Afterwards people came back to our house and we ate cake, played with Princess and the other kids and just relaxed...good times.

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The fam heading into the courtroom

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Waiting for the judge to enter

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Princess is insisting she can keep the gavel...the judge did say she has another one "just in case." :)

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Bug was overjoyed to be up front with the judge

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This is the group minus my friend and her family (not sure why, but she didn't end up in the pic)

Some (apparently long) thoughts on adoption

I am going to post some pics from our finalization in the next post or two, but as I was thinking about what to write, some other adoption related feelings surfaced and so I am writing about those here first.

I will start this by saying that I had/have mixed emotions going into finalization. I am thrilled, tickled pink that Lil Princess is our daughter. She is more perfect than we even imagined possible. We don't want her to have the burden of feeling like she completed our family...that is a lot of responsibility for a little person to carry, but secretly to her daddy and I that is exactly what she does...completes our little family unit.

With all of the sugary-sweetness that The Designer and I experienced relating to adoption, I am not naive that others involved in our triad have not had the same positive experiences. I know that although Princess is well adjusted and happy, she has suffered a loss. She lost her first mother and father. Sure, she will have the opportunity to know them. She will be able to call them and ask questions when they arise. She will be able to share the highs and lows with them, should she choose. But she still experienced loss. For 9 months she was taken care of by N. She was warm, fed, and comfortable in N's belly. Then she was born and had to adjust to life outside the womb and then just a few short days after that, she had to adjust all over again when she came home with us.

I think God allows adoption and even blesses adoption, but I am not going to lie. I don't think He originally planned or hoped for adoption to be a way of life. I hope to ask Him for clarification when I meet Him face-to-face, but I just can't imagine that He originally planned for it because the amount of hurt and loss that people experience just doesn't seem like a God thing to me. I could be wrong..what do I really know anyway, right?

N lost. D lost. Princess lost. Sure, they all gained something too, but that doesn't negate their losses. We have heard some ridiculous statements, but this one has come up a few times over the past year of our lives..."Well, they shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place if they didn't want to go through this!" Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY? First I have to resist the urge to slap them, but once I can speak I am usually quick to remind them that they are not perfect either! We ALL make choices that have consequences...some are good and some not so good and then there are the few that are both good and bad consequences at the same time.

I know that N didn't want to get pregnant, but never for one minute did she not want Princess to exist. She loved that baby girl from the beginning. Ok, so the consequence of premarital sex for these two was the creation of a life that neither were prepared to care for, but that doesn't make them bad. That doesn't make them evil. That makes them human. Just because they got "caught" with a pregnancy doesn't make them not allowed to hurt when they placed Princess with us. Of course they hurt. Who wouldn't be gutwrenched to give away a piece of themselves to someone they have only known for a few short months. Heck, I can't even give away my "stuff" easily..try pricing some of your things for a yard sale, for example. Of course your stuff is worth more to you than someone else which is why it is hard to price for a sale. Yes, that is a ridiculous comparison, but my point is clear...they are entitled to their hurt feelings. They are entitled to suffer. They are entitled to grieve. No one, and I mean NO ONE has a right to take that away from them!!! So stop trying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am over the moon happy that I am Princess and Bug's mommy. I am not going to lie. The fact that both of these beautiful girls are in our household makes me smile from ear to ear. They bring us a joy that is unparalleled. I am proud of them like any mother is proud of her children. I don't go around hanging my head low and dwelling on the sadness that is associated with adoption. 99.9% of my life is filled with joy and happiness. However that doesn't mean I don't think about N and the hard time she is experiencing. I do and when I think of her I get sad. When I think of her, I worry. I have that right. I can be concerned for her. I don't have to explain it to anyone. It is nobody else's business, to be honest. I don't have to defend my feelings. I love N so much...I love her for who she is. I love her for choosing us to be her daughters parents. I love her as a friend. Like any of my friends that are hurting, I am sad when she suffers.

I hope this doesn't come across as complaining or whining, because that is the last thing I am wanting to do. I hope this comes through as my raw, honest emotions. (N, I know you are reading this and I am sure this will spark some conversation for us later!) With all of that said, it is extremely hard to be everything N needs and wants me to be. I want to be her friend, but I don't really know how.

First, there is an age difference causing us to have very different points of view on life. She is young, doing the young girl thing. Her focuses are/should be on school, her future, her goals, etc. I am not so young and my focus is on my immediate family and meeting the needs of my children and husband. I was her age once and I remember what it is like to have your whole life ahead of you and the possibilities endless. I still have a long life ahead of me, but many of "possibilities" are now realities and that brings us to different places in life.

Second, we have very different upbringings. Many of my friends and I do experience different upbringings. That is not a bad thing, but it does make us view things differently. Neither more right than the other, just different. She may think some of the the things I I do are wrong or different from the way she would do things and the opposite of that is true too...I wouldn't do everything the way she would. Neither of our ways are better than the others. It is ok to be different and I am thankful we are different in our opinions...it makes us US!

Third, it is hard for me because I am not stupid...I know I have a life she wants. I am happily married. I have a house. I have an education. I have a strong, supportive, loving family. And, the most important...I have two beautiful daughters (one of which is HERS!) that I get to raise. I have a life that she hopes to have someday. That makes me feel guilty at times. I want to be able to give those things to her too. I want to give her the hope that she can also have those things. I want to make things right for her. I want to erase some of her past...some of the hurt. I can't do any of those things for her. Not one of them! That is hard for me to accept. I cannot give her a husband, a house, a safe life, an education or her daughter back...I just can't. I don't know how to tell her that she can have those things in the future without sounding condescending. She can and she will...I KNOW she will. She has every opportunity to have the life she wants if she grabs hold of it and runs. But, in the meantime I know she doesn't have it and I do and that sucks for her and as a consequence it sucks for me because I just don't know how to fix it.

I know it is not my job to fix things, but it is my character, my personality. I am a "fixer" in life. I want harmony. I want people to be happy. Most of the time I talk to N, she is not happy. Our conversations are heavy. I feel like I am a constant letdown to her because I can't give her those things mentioned above. I know she doesn't expect me to, but I am sure she would love it if I could. When the time comes for our phone conversations to end I can hear the disappointment in her voice. I don't know exactly what it is she needed or wanted more from me, but I can tell that whatever it is, I didn't meet her needs.

I am learning how to walk this fine line. I think, generally speaking, I do a decent job. I never ever EVER lie to her. I don't promise her things I can't life up to. I always try to be realistic about visits and such. I hope she knows that. I hope she knows I try. I hope she knows that I want so much more for her. I suppose soon enough she will know my thoughts because I know she reads my blog.

Anyway, I will get together some thoughts and pics from our finalization yesterday and share those hopefully still tonight or over the weekend. It was a great day for us and I want to share it with all of you, my readers.

God Bless!