Thursday, June 25, 2009

What We've Been Doing A Lot Of...

It. Is. HOT!  Seriously, the last few days when I open the back door to let the dog out in the morning, it is already so hot that it takes my breath away.  So, we have been spending a lot of time in the water.  This is a photo that I took of Jack at the hotel last weekend.  I just loved it - and I kind of like him too.  A little bit!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Reconciling.  That is the process that seriously began for me 5 1/2 years ago when I lost my first baby.  It became much more intense when I lost my second baby 6 months later.  And when my family had to move away from our home a little over a year ago, I was at a total loss.  Literally. I had lost more than what I felt was "fair".  I had handled more than I thought I should be expected to handle. I was a good person.  I was a good mom.  Corey was a hard working man. We tried to live by the values that we found in the Bible.  We tried to make decisions based on what we felt God wanted for our life.  And still... there was so much loss. When I would talk to people in those early days I remember saying, "I am just having trouble reconciling all of it."  I never felt like God owed me anything... like if I did "x and y" He was obligated to do "z"... but I did think that there were certain things that were happening to me that were simply unfair. Actually, "unfair" is not even an intense enough word to describe it.  There were certain things that happened to me and our family in those years that were consequences of choices, but other things that happened were just bad luck... or whatever you want to call it. Life, I guess.  Those are the things that I think were the hardest to reconcile.  Why would we be given a baby at all, if it was only going to die after 12 weeks in my womb?  Why would our prayers be clearly answered and the desires of our hearts given to us if they were not intended to be ours for the long haul?  There was no way to reconcile it all in my brain.  And that was frustrating.  Beyond frustrating.  Painful.  Confusing. 

Today, some time has past and I am no closer to reconciling loss and the reason that life takes the horrible turns that it sometimes does now than I was back then.  But I am not so frustrated. Actually,  today I am at peace.  I am not in control of the big picture.  I don't have to try to be. Someone much more brilliant than me is.  He knows everything.  He creates everything.  He gives.  He takes away. And in all of that, He cares enough about me to work everything together for good for me.  I don't have to understand it all.  I just have to trust Him.  I don't have to reconcile it.  I have to have faith.

And I do.

That is the amazing part of my story.  In the midst of a time where it would have been easy to get mad and bitter, God has granted me the faith to trust Him.  It is not because of anything that I have done.  It is all because of Him.  

Don't get me wrong.  It is not that I don't sometimes lose sight of the truths that I have come to cling to - those that I live with can testify to that.  I do. But in those times, when I have found my way out of the doubt and darkness, I am drawn back to what I know is true.  He will never leave me or forsake me, and I can do anything with the strength that He provides.

I can honestly say that today - the anniversary of my little one's miscarriage - is different than any other day like this that I have had before.  I knew it was coming, but I did not dread it as intensely as I have in previous years.  I have had a "normal" day with the kids - not one filled with depression like in previous years.  I am sad.  I will always be sad that I did not get to raise those 2 babies.  But I am okay.  Today, the things that I have cried over are the thankfulness I feel for my 3 living children.  I feel so blessed that I get to love and hold and kiss and touch and teach them.  I have cried because I have been so touched by the friends and family that have remembered me and remembered that day 5 years ago with me.  And I have cried because - to be honest - there have been moments today where I can literally feel the same pain in my heart that I felt that day 5 years ago.  And those moments hurt.  (While I was writing this, Cooper was in my lap, and he rubbed my face and said, "Mom, what is this slippery stuff on your face?")  But I am not hopeless.  I am actually more hopeful than ever, I think.  In the last few years my eyes have been opened to things about "real life" that I had never known before.  I now have an outlook that I didn't have a few years ago.  I have a higher "pain tolerance", I guess you could say.  I feel a little more free to live... knowing that pain is just part of the process. And I have a different kind of understanding of and relationship with God than I ever had... before I had so much to reconcile.  For that, I am thankful.

5 Years

Today I am remembering 5 years ago.  
When I woke up on that morning 5 years ago I was pregnant.  
By this time of day the 5 years ago I was not.
5 years later, my heart still aches.

I wrote about that day last year on the 4th anniversary of losing my baby.  To read it, click here.

Baseball With My Boys

Yesterday Corey called home from work and said that he had been given 4 tickets to our area's minor league baseball game.  It was a triple-digits-day here in north Texas, and I was not sure about sitting out in the heat, but hey - I pretty much can't turn down taking the kids to do something that they love, and my boys LOVE baseball.  So, we headed to the ballpark.  It was hot, but thankfully our seats were in the shade, and it was not too bad.  

The boys took their gloves and were anxiously awaiting a foul ball with their name on it all night.  

After several innings in our seats behind home plate, Jack wanted to try sitting in the area that seemed to be where most of the foul balls were going.  It also happened to be right by the dugout, so he and a group of little boys had fun looking at the players and hoping for a ball to be tossed up to them from one of them.
Cooper had fun watching the players "play catch" in the bullpen.  I had fun watching his little head snap back and forth as he watched the ball speed between the pitcher and catcher.
~ My Boys ~
~ My Man ~
All night, Cooper had been hoping for cotton candy.  Finally, in the 7th inning, he got some.
After the game Jack stood by the dugout, and he was thrilled when a player gave him his batting glove and tossed him a baseball.  He said, "Baseball games are to me like Jonas Brothers concerts are to Allie."  So, I guess you could call this a great night!!!

Father's Day 2009

Sunday I got the chance to celebrate two of the best FATHERS in the world.
Really! They are! I'm not biased at all!

Corey wanted to spend the day relaxing at home for Father's Day, so that's exactly what we did. I made a big breakfast and we gave him gifts. He topped that off with a lot of golf-watching and a short nap. I hope it was a good day for him because he really deserves it! I truly think that Corey is one of the best men that I have ever witnessed fathering. He loves his kids so much. He sacrifices for them in big and not-so-big ways every single day. He teaches them to have Godly morals and to work hard - not only with his words but by his example.

Corey, thank you for being such a great daddy to our kids. I love you!

On the evening of Father's Day we took my dad and mom to dinner. Emily and Allan and their little family joined us, and we all had a great time. My Dad. I love him so much. He would do anything for anyone - especially his kids - and that gives us a great sense of security and feeling of love. He is a fabulous Poppie to his 9 grandkids. They all know that he loves them just as they are. There is no act so impressive or mistake so big that it changes anything about the way that my dad loves a person. He loves people just because that is the way he is.

Dad, thank you for all that you do for our family and for loving us all in your "special way". I love you!
(Yes, Cooper is crying. He hit his head on our way out of the restaraunt , and he couldn't stop crying for the photo with Poppie.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Jonas Brothers Concert

This past weekend was a highlight in the life of Allie and because of that it was a highlight for me too. Months ago, before ticket sales were even open to the public, Allie decided that she would like to spend her own money on a ticket to the Jonas Brothers concert. They were opening their World Tour in Dallas at the brand new Cowboys Stadium. Through a friend that had a way to get our tickets early, we bought two tickets to some pretty good seats. The day that we secured the tickets was so exciting... and the excitement just built for us as this past weekend approached. I have not been to many concerts in my life, but the ones that I have been to recently have been so fun. In fact, at the last one that I went to I realized how much I really enjoy the concert experience and told Corey that I planned to take the kids to them much more often (since that is something that they would love and he would not). The Jonas Brothers concert, in and of itself, was amazing... if you talk to anyone that was there, they will tell you the same... but what made the experience so wonderful for me was seeing the pure joy that Allie experienced as she anticipated it and experienced it. I think that it was more fun than anything that I have done with her so far.

Our fun started on the Friday before the concert and some of it included the whole family. On Friday afternoon Allie and I left Corey and the boys and went to lunch, did some shopping, and saw a movie. Corey and I have always been intentional about spending one on one time with the kids. Making memories with them. Finding enjoyment in the things that our kids are passionate about. Friday afternoon was one of those times for Allie and me. After an evening of girl-time we met up with the boys who were at a hotel in Arlington. Corey, Jack, and Cooper had already gone swimming, but we all swam again when Allie and I arrived. Add in a trip for ice cream and non-stop cartoons on TV, and it was really fun evening.

The next day, we all swam again then the boys left and headed home. Allie and I ran some errands in Arlington, one of which took us right up next to the Cowboys Stadium. Allie was bouncing in her seat at the sight of it... and when we saw the Jonas Brothers' actual bus... well, there were screams of excitement!

~ self-portrait of Allie & me in the car ~
We met our dear friends, who were also going to the concert, for an early dinner - which Allie was too excited to eat - then we all rode a trolley from the hotel to the stadium.

~ Marie & Allie ~
They have been friends since they were born.
~ Allie, Annette, and Marie on the trolley ~
~ Allie and me in front of the stadium ~
As we got closer and closer to the stadium, we got more and more excited. Every part of the experience was new and different. We loved seeing all of these buses lined up and wondered who was inside of them.
You know the little boys that are so into dinosaurs or cars or trains that they can name every type and tell you all about each one? Well, that is how the Jonas Brothers are for Allie. So when she saw their bus and knew that she was about to get to sign it, she was beside herself. I wouldn't have even known that that was acceptable... much less a huge deal. Thankfully, I had a Sharpie in my purse. (Remember? I have a thing for Sharpies?)

Part of what made this concert so cool was the fact that it was held in the brand new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Seriously --- George Strait played there a few weeks ago, and that is all that has happened there yet. So, we were probably the 2nd ones to have ever sat in our seats. :) Everything was nice and new and clean and cool - literally. (Remember the big hole in the top of Texas Stadium? No A/C!)
At the door that we walked into, the stadium was in full view. It's kind of hard to imagine or explain, but it was like no other stadium I have ever been in. The enormity of it and the excitement inside was instantly obvious.
We had a few friends and family members that were at the concert too. While texting was all we could do with some of them, we got to see my great-niece Emma and her mommy Landra.
We were on the 3rd row of the first level of elevated seats, so we had a great view.
~ Me & Allie in our seats ~
The concert was opened by a new band that we had not heard before called Honor Society. They were good, but we were REALLY excited when Jordin Sparks - the second opening act - came out and sang. We loved her on American Idol, and we loved her even more that night.

Then it was time for the moment that we had been waiting for.

When it was obvious that the Jonas Brothers were about to come on the stage there was crazy-anticipation in the room. I have never seen Allie so excited. I would live that moment over and over and over to see Allie's face light up like it did that night!

~ the JoBros on a lift high above the audience ~

~The Big Surprise ~
On the Jonas Brothers' new CD there is a duet between Nick (the youngest of the 3) and Miley Cyrus (aka: Hannah Montana). Allie and I had talked about how cool it would be if she showed up to sing that song with him, but knew that it was highly unlikely. The concert came to an end... then there was an encore. During the encore, it was obvious that something big was about to happen. The music from the Nick and Miley song, Before The Storm, started and up from the middle of the stage, Nick and Miley came. Seriously --- The. Best. Moment. of the night. Allie was beyond thrilled. She loves Miley as much as the Jonas Brothers.

~ Nick Jonas & Miley Cyrus ~

When the concert was over Allie and I just milled around the stadium soaking it all in. She said it had been the best day that she had ever had... and to tell you the truth, that little phrase right there, the time that I got to spend one on one with my girl, and the chance to see her sheer joy made it one of my best days ever too. I loved the concert. I loved the music. I loved Jordin Sparks and the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. But I adored the look in my little girl's eyes when she was 100% happy. I love that I am the one that got to share the experience with her. I love that she knows that I love the things that she loves and that I passionately want her to live a life of passion. Dream passionately. Love passionately. Give passionately. Work passionately. Serve passionately.

When we were driving home from the concert Allie was reliving it over and over. My not-so-talkative-daughter was full of life and energy and happiness. She looked over at me as I was driving the car and said, "Why are you crying?" As much as I wanted to, I could not explain it to her. I can hardly understand all of the feelings that it brought up in me myself, but I know that both of us were experiencing so much happiness together that night that it just overflowed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"The Best Day Ever"

"This was the best day ever!"

Those are the words that came out of Allie's mouth last night. Frankly, I can say that yesterday was one of my best days ever too... but for a few different reasons than hers. Much more on that to come later. For now, let me just say that I got to spend Allie's "best day ever" watching her have her "best day ever"... and that is what I love to do. Really, it sends me to tears just thinking about how happy she was and how thankful I am that I got to share life that she finds exciting and inspiring and fun with her. There is just about nothing more on earth that I would rather do.

Until I have more time (and the photos are downloaded)...

Beautiful Baby - Take 3

I had a little trouble getting this last part of my new nephew's photo shoot posted when I posted the last two times, so here it is....

After we took several pictures of Jacob inside, we took him outside for a few more photos, and of course, he looked adoreable in the sunlight. It was a hot Texas day - in the high 90s - so it got hot fast, and we quickly moved him into the shade.

~ Jacob Allan ~
6 days old

Big Sister, Claire, took a quick break from playing on the swing set to take a photo with her new baby brother.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beautiful Baby - Take 2

After a few photos in his diaper, we dressed Jacob in baby blue and took some more precious pictures of him.

~ baby face ~

~ sweet dreams ~

~Emily's hand with the ring that Allan gave her after she had Jacob ~
the pearl is Jacob's birthstone

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beautiful Baby - Take 1

Today I took photos of my sweet 6-day-old nephew, Jacob.  I loved every second of it.  He is so adorable! Here are the first set of photos.  There will be more to come soon.

He even showed off a bit.  He lifted his head for several seconds... he's so talented.  :)

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