Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Letter to My Daughter: Year Four

I have started this post five times.  There are four other posts sitting unfinished in the drafts folder.  I don't know why I'm having such a hard time writing your letter this year - it came so effortlessly the last three years.  I think part of it is that I'm not sure how to feel about this latest birthday of yours.  One on hand you are four.  FOUR.  That is such a big number.  But on the other hand it seems like the changes and growth over the past 365 days haven't been quite as punch-in-the-gut obvious.  The last three years I spent bemoaning the passing of your infancy, but this past year felt different somehow.

I remember being so unprepared the previous years when I went back to look at the photos and videos of the year before - there was such a marked difference in the babyness of the beginnings of the years and the growth and development by the end of the year.  This year the changes are more subtle - your hair is longer, your body is taller and more slender, your words clearer, your sentences longer, and your imagination has kicked in in full force.  None of these things are new, though - they are just more.

That is not to say that this year has held any fewer monumental changes.  We added a whole other person to our family, for one!  A transition that you have weathered remarkably well - I'm so proud of you and how well you love your sister.  There is genuine love there, genuine affection - almost no animosity or jealousy or bitterness toward her - simply adoration and smothering attention.  Our biggest problems are that you love her too violently and that you want to be involved in everything that has to do with her.  She has a particular grunt/yell that gets squeezed out of her when you are on one of your hugging rampages.  I wish someone would pay me for each time I said something along the lines of "Lila, give her some space!" or "Gentle, Lila!"  I could buy you that rocket ship you asked for.

You started preschool and are positively thriving there.  Your teachers are wonderful and you seem to be well-known and well-liked.  When I introduced myself to your music teacher she said, "Oh I know Lila!  She's a stitch!"  You've made your mark on the place, for sure!  Being gone from you for three days a week (two days of preschool, one for my job) has been challenging to adapt to - it's not ideal for sure, but I don't know of a better option at this point.  I'm not sure if it's been harder on you or me!

There have also been significant changes to your appearance.  You got glasses this year and it is amazing how much older you look with them on.  On the rare occasions you forget to put them on, I am always taken aback by how much you look like your littler self when you are barefaced.  And you also are so very long!  Your legs and arms simply drape over me when I hold you.  You hair needs a true haircut - more than just the trim your Papa gave you. (Per tradition, Papa gave you your first haircut just like he has done for all of your cousins - only their first haircuts were much younger than age three and a half!)

A few nights ago, I lay next to you and sang you Christmas hymns as you fell asleep.  I watched your eyelashes relax and spread as you gave in to sleep.  I stroked your hair and swept the back of my fingers against your baby-soft cheeks.  Your cheeks - other than being far less chubby - are exactly the same as the cheeks I kissed one, two, three, four years ago.  They are my favorite thing to kiss.  Sometimes you still let me kiss them freely.

I don't know why I'm less emotional this year.  Perhaps it is because I have another baby to take care of so I'm not so fixated on the loss of your babyness.  Or maybe it's because I'm excited for this next year.  You ask me often, "Mommy are you sad that I'm big now?  Do you want me to be little again?"  I tell you the truth - I tell you that I am sad and happy.  I am sad because I loved you as a baby.  You were so sweet and innocent and small and cute.  But three years old was such fun, and four years old is fun too, so I wouldn't want to miss any age!  I tell you I can be both.

I am beginning to glimpse what friendship with you might be like.  I hope we are not best friends - I think you deserve best friends your own age and I deserve best friends my own age.  But I do hope that we are friends.  I try to imagine you as a teenager, a college student, a newlywed, a mom.  I try to imagine you as the oldest of a larger brood of siblings (I hope!?) and to guess what kind of big sister you will be as you grow up.

I struggle with the balance of teaching you to be selfless and kind and loving, but also giving you the respect and right to your own autonomy and opinions that you deserve.  I want you to understand that Big Sister is an important job.  No one else can be that for Faith!  And especially because she will need you as she gets older.  When you hurt Faith, I ask and you answer three questions:
1. How many big sisters does Faith have? One.
2. Who is she? Me.
3. What is your job? To take care of her.

Sometimes I feel a pang of guilt for putting that responsibility on you.  I worry that it will feel like too heavy a load to bear - which is part of why I hope we get to add a few more kids to our family, so that you will have teammates to share the responsibilities that will fall to you as Faith's siblings.  But then I think about who you are and I realize that you are the perfect sister for her.  You are strong and brave and confident.  I know you will be her greatest defender and that, because of your strength and confidence, you will also have no trouble asking for what you need!  I promise to do my best to value your needs in balance with your sister's needs.

Lila, being your mom is such fun.  You make me laugh every day.  You are creative and imaginative and you bring joy and life to a room!  I am honored to be your mom.  I'm honored to have the responsibility and the gift of being the one to train you and love you - to help you refine your gifts and talents and put aside your faults.  I love getting to see your strong heart grow, your sensitive spirit mature, your big personality form, your identity blossom.  You ask deep questions - so many questions! - and I am often take off guard by the insightfulness of your questions and thoughts.

For awhile I was singing you a Sara Groves song at night, "You Cannot Lose My Love."
You will lose your baby teeth
at times you'll lose your faith in me
you will lose a lot of things,
but you cannot lose my love

You may lose your appetite
your guiding sense of wrong and right
you may lose your will to fight,
but you cannot lose my love

You may lose your confidence
in times of trial, your common sense
you may lose your innocence,
but you cannot lose my love

Many things can be misplaced
your very memories be erased,
but no matter what the time or space
you cannot lose my love

You won't let me sing it anymore because you say that it is too sad, "It says you'll lose things!  That's too sad!" I tried to explain that it's a mommy talking to her child.  The mommy is saying that no matter what happens, the child cannot lose her mommy's love.  But you couldn't get past the sad part.  You are feeling things deeply these days, thinking hard and deep and wide.  Your emotions are growing and maturing and it awes me to see the depth of your sensitivity to the scary, the hurtful, the joyful, the fun.

The funny thing is, I love the song because of the sadness.  There is a healthy sort of grief in it - a deep feeling of the reality that you cannot protect your child from the difficult things of the world.  But you can commit to being a reliable and consistent presence - a predictable force of love.  Those words resonate deeply in my heart as I anticipate those losses - of innocence and common sense and confidence and faith in me.  I cannot protect you from those losses, though I want to.  But I can promise you that my love will not waver, that no matter what the time or space you cannot lose my love.

This year, as we have added more dimensions to your relationships - sisters, teachers, friends and peers - I have been overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be your mommy.  You will always hold a special place in my heart - my oldest, my first - the one who made me a mommy.

You are beautiful, creative, fun, silly.  Ferociously loving.  Adorably unique.  You are my favorite thing.

You are four years old.

I love every bit of you.
(Even the gross bits)

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl.

I love you,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Twelve months ago on the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of this century, I came home from school and checked my email.

An email had been simmering in my inbox, waiting to change my life.  The words "possible situation" would come to describe my beloved daughter.  The "little girl with Down syndrome" would soon carry the name Faith Margaret.  A name given to her by her two mothers.  Faith, from her First Mama - a hopeful word chosen for a child cherished by the woman who carried and birthed her.  Margaret, meaning "pearl," from her Forever Mommy - a family name symbolizing her full-hearted acceptance into our family; a treasure of a name to proclaim her value.

When I read the words in that email one year ago, I could only hope with whispered breath that she was our baby.  The days and weeks and months that would follow before she was officially in our arms would send me to the end of myself.  The journey to her and with her was and is a sweet one - perhaps because of its bumpiness and uncertainty.  Because the bumps in the road are a reminder to stop and listen for the Shepherd; the unknown bends in the path an opportunity to follow his Voice.

I am grateful - so very grateful - that God chose this story for us.  It is the very best kind of story to be living.

And she IS her name.  She is a gift and a treasure.  She oozes the faithfulness of God.  And I'm so glad I get to be her mommy.

I hope that in twelve years, I am still telling this story.  The story that began on the trio of twelves.  12/12/12.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy Thanksgiv…er...December!

Happy Thanksgiving.  I had every intention of writing a post about how supremely grateful I am for the many gifts in my life (namely my awesome Husband, my precious girls, my warm house and full belly). It is not lost on me how much I have and how little I am in need.  I was especially overcome with gratitude as I thought about this time last year when we were beginning to navigate a new home study for what we thought would be an international Chinese adoption.  I am so grateful for that little baby snoring in the other room.  She's the best of the best.  She hugs like a snuggly little teddy bear and her laugh is so satisfying only because she's a bit stingy with doling it out.  I am in awe of the gift of Her in our lives.  And I'm thankful.

So I was going to write a post about all of that and more.  It was going to be touching and sentimental and I was going to make you cry.  But then Lila continued what I can now only call a tradition of being sick on Thanksgiving (three of the last four Thanksgivings we've been stricken with fevers and/or vomiting).  Her fever got scary high - 105 at one point - but only lasted a few days.  Thankfully the rest of us didn't seem to catch what she had.  Faith has to stay in the clear for another week so that we don't have to reschedule her surgery.  That would be a very bad thing because we've met our deductible for the year and we'd have to start all over if her surgery got bumped to after Christmas.  Please stay healthy, Faith Baby.  Please?

December is going to be crazy for us.  It's usually crazy what with Christmas and Lila's birthday and my obsession with planning extravagant and ill-advised birthday parties.  But we also have Faith's surgery in the mix, in addition to our first year of cramming in Christmas programs for each of the girls' schools.  Although - confession - I think we might skip Faith's Christmas program.  She is scheduled to shake a rattle for thirty seconds so I don't think she'll be missed and it would relieve my stress immensely to take one thing off of my calendar.

Anyway, if you think of us, please pray for my sanity.  I'm going to really try to avoid being unnecessarily stressed because usually excessive stress equals being mean and impatient with my kids and who wants that during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

This Friday we have Faith's pre-op appointments.  Then Saturday is Lila's birthday party.  I'm keeping it small this year, but it will still be fun and memorable.  We're having a dress up party and I plan to just let the kids play with our myriad of dress-up clothes, eat pizza and store-bought cupcakes, and do a little craft.  I was debating inviting Lila's little friends from preschool, but whenever I asked her about it she would half-heartedly list the girls and then say, "And Nicholas can come and be the prince and we can take turns dancing with him!"  As much as I'm sure that's Nicholas' idea of a good time, I decided for the sake of our little house to keep the invite list down to our most frequent playmates.  You're welcome, Nicholas.  You owe me, Buddy.

Faith's surgery is scheduled for early-early Tuesday morning.  They'll do the MRI first, then the tube surgery, then the sedated hearing test.  We're told to expect about three hours.  So basically, we'll be home before the time of day when I usually am brushing my teeth.  Lila is going to spend the night at my parents' house Monday night so they can take her to preschool Tuesday morning.  She'll think she's won the lottery with that arrangement and it will be much less stress for me.

We're told Faith should recover quickly from surgery so I'm hopeful that we'll be back to normal by the end of next week.  Then we'll have family over to celebrate Lila's birthday on the 15th and spend her actual birthday (the 16th) with just the four of us doing our birthday traditions of getting birthday donuts and visiting Santa.  The 18th is Lila's Christmas program and my last day of school before the holiday.  Then of course the beautiful chaos of Christmas begins.

So basically what I'm saying is, I'll see ya in 2014.

I might pop back in a few times with quick updates.  I'll for sure give a post-surgery update, but it may be quiet around her for a few weeks.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with the annual tradition of Lila doing weird things with our nativity set - or as she used to call them "Baby Jesus and Those Guys."  (Last year, 2011)

 I can't begin to guess why the wise men are in the fridge.

Nor can I explain why the only occupants of the manger were Mary and a pink play comb.  I'm sure there was a logical explanation.

I also found a shepherd in my chocolate jar.  What? You guys don't have a jar just for your chocolate?  You should.

Remember, our prints are on sale for a limited time.  They'd make a great Christmas gift and support our adoption fund (we're approaching the two-year mark of our wait for our Ethiopia baby! Eek!).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Print sale!

All prints are on sale for $7 (plus $2 shipping) and the Good News, Great Joy print is extra-super-duper on sale just in time for Christmas - $5 (plus $2 shipping).  Prints are 8X10 and printed on high quality textured paper.  There is a limited number of each print available.

I no longer keep my Etsy shop stocked, so email me at makewayfortheawesomekid (at) gmail (dot) com to order one!  All proceeds go directly to our adoption fund.

Luke 2:10 "But the angel reassured them, 'Don't be afraid!' he said, 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.'"

a quote from the book Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

a quote by Wendell Berry

a line from the Turtles' song Happy Together

Winnie the Pooh quote

Winnie the Pooh quote

From the book Goodnight Moon

Psalm 68:6

song from Funny Girl 

Isaiah 12:2

Friday, November 22, 2013


When I pick Lila up from preschool I try to ask her about her day.

What did you do in school?  I dunno.

Did you read books?  Yeah.

Did you sing any songs? Yeah.

What songs? I don't remember.

Did you paint?  No.

Who did you sit by at lunch?  Nicholas.

Who did you play with?  Nicholas.

Who do you want to invite to your birthday party? Nicholas.

Why do you like Nicholas?  He's soooo funny! 
(I tell her to watch out, because that's how they getcha.  Well, at least that's how the Husband got me.)

The last few weeks, all I hear about is Nicholas.  And then last week, as I was checking out the new bulletin board, I saw this:


So I've been keeping my eye on Nicholas.  He seems like an okay fella.  His mom reports that Nicholas likes Lila's long blond hair.

I've been thinking Lila needs a haircut.


Did I care that I had to wash the plates again? Nope.
Did I care that I kept tripping over plates and animals whenever I had to cross the kitchen? A little.
Do I care that my floor is filthy? Not enough to do anything about it.
Did I have to stifle a laugh when she cried because the real dog messed up her plates? Mmm hmm.
Did Faith find endless joy banging the plates around? Yes.
Did Lila find endless joy in Faith's endless joy?  She did not.
Did Lila get a time out for being unkind to her sister for messing up her plates? Oh yeah.
Was she able to recover, forgive and rebuild?  With coaxing.
Was it worth it? You bet.

These little scenes are why I love having an almost-four-year-old.  Despite the drama.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

small hands, big voice

"Mommy, how can Jesus take all of the scary things out of my head?  He has such little hands!  How can he get them all out with such little hands?"

Every night we pray that the scary things will stay away.  We command them to stay away.  I hover over her bed after she's asleep and pray that the scary things leave her alone.

"They have to leave.  If Jesus says they have to leave, they have to.  They don't have a choice.  No matter how small his hands are.  His voice is big."

The curse of an active imagination is that you actually believe what you imagine.  So the wolves from Beauty and the Beast aren't just in her imagination - they're there.  In her room.  Hiding behind her rocking chair.

"But Mommy, the wolves come anyway.  When I'm by myself they come out of my imagination and they want to hurt me."

Her eyes are wide.  She blinks at me in the dark.  How can I empower her to fight the forces of evil at three years old?  I find myself wanting to cry out of sympathy for her being bullied by the fears in her heart, and also wanting to punch the devil in his *cough* sensitive area.  I find myself seething with anger that he has been able to screw with my little girl and I want to rip off his supernatural fingernails.  LEAVE HER ALONE.  I want to whisper fiercely, but she's staring at me and waiting for me to tell her why she's safe - why she doesn't have to be afraid.  And I don't have a good answer.

I want to tell her that nothing will ever happen to her.  That I won't let it.  I want to tell her Jesus will protect her from anything that might try to harm her.  I want her to feel safe and secure and not be afraid.  I want her little heart to be at peace and for her to believe that nothing will happen to her.

But how can I assure her of those things when I don't believe them.  I've seen too much, tasted grief and disappointment in the most bitter ways.  I don't believe that she will always be safe, that no harm will come to her.  I want to, but I can't.  I have no guarantee that a moment of distraction or an unanticipated little girl impulse won't put her in harms way.  I can't be sure that sickness or an accident or the evil intent of another person won't rip her precious life from mine.

And that thought haunts me.  It is my wolf lurking behind the rocking chair, waiting to pounce when I am vulnerable and by myself.

My wolf whispers questions in my quiet thoughts, refuting my beliefs with hard cold evidence of disappointed hopes, unanswered prayers, devastating tragedies.

How do I reconcile my life's experience with the promises of a Good Father?  And how can I help my baby girl relax into sleep when her fears so eerily echo my own?

"The scary things can't come," I tell her.  "They aren't allowed.  The Bible tells us that if we ask anything in Jesus' name it will be given to us.  The scary things have to listen to us.  You are safe.  Jesus loves you.  He won't let anything happen to you.  I would never leave you somewhere where you are not safe."

That last thing - that I wouldn't leave her somewhere unsafe - seems to help.  She nods and I kiss her forehead.  I show her the clock and tell her I will be back to check on her in five minutes.  I tell her what the numbers will look like when I come back.  I tell her I will leave the door open.  She pulls the blankets up to her nose and nods again.

"I love you.  Jesus loves you.  I'm so proud of you.  I'm so glad I'm your mommy."

I am realizing that she doesn't trust Jesus because she doesn't really know him yet.  She's beginning to - I am teaching her who He is with each conversation.  Each time I turn to him when I am frustrated, each time I thank him out loud for his goodness, each time I follow him in obedience and faith, I show her he is trustworthy.  I want her to know that he's more than a magic genie or a benefactor you have to be sure to thank or he might withhold the next time.  She's getting to know him, but she doesn't know him yet.  She doesn't trust him yet and that's okay.  She trusts me, though, and I trust him.  So someday I hope that her trust in me - and what I say and do - will give way to her trusting Jesus.

I hope that someday she will use the knowledge that Jesus loves her to combat the demons.  But for now, she'll just have to use my love.  Which is okay because I love because he first loved me.  And I am the branch and he is the vine.  I am the conduit of her Maker's love for her.

I think of her verse, The One who formed you says, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name, You Are Mine."  Do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid.

I whisper it to myself.  Do not be afraid.  But there is so much to fear!  Do not be afraid.  How?  How can I not fear when I have witnessed my friends living my greatest nightmares - when I have lived some of my own?  Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have ransomed you.  Do not be afraid could be better translated, Do not be a slave to fear.  Do not be afraid because you have been given freedom from your fears.  You have been ransomed - set free.

I don't have to understand why my children are spared poverty and hunger and others aren't.  I don't have to understand why some mamas' prayers of protection don't seem to yield the desperately hoped for results.  I don't need to fear that my number just hasn't been called yet - that eventually I will be the one mourning my own personal tragedy.  All I need to understand is that I am ransomed from the tyranny of fear.  I can look the world's brokenness and evil in the face and say, "I will not fear, for my Shepherd is with me.  He has ransomed me.  Whom shall I fear?"

It doesn't mean I am immune to the dangers and tragedies of this world.  It just means that I don't have to let fear dictate my life.  I don't have to live in fear.  It's a choice.  I know some of my fears are founded, but I can choose to dwell on them or to release them into the hands of the One I trust with my soul.

But for Lila, three is far too young to grasp the things that grown-ups can't even make sense of.  What good would it do for her to know that some of her fears could become a reality?  What good would it do her to tell her that she might die?  That I might?  Or that the people we love are not permanent fixtures in our lives?  She will face some of those fears soon enough.  I pray she does not face many of them.  But if she does, then I will tell her about her choice: to trust that Jesus is who he says he is and to choose faith over fear.

Until then, I want her heart to be at peace.  I want to train her to battle against her fears, to take charge and force them to retreat.  Because we may not be able to keep our lives tragedy free, but we can keep fear at bay.  We can employ the Name that has been given to us - spoken over us - to fight the fears with His goodness.

So I will assure her that she need not fear - because that is no lie.  She need not fear because Jesus is with her.  And when he's with her she doesn't have to be afraid of anything.  He may have small hands in her mind, but he has a Big Voice.  And when he speaks, Darkness retreats.

Friday, November 1, 2013


...makes me laugh every time.

It was taken a few months ago and she's grown and changed so much!

We have Faith's surgery scheduled for December 10th.  They'll do the MRI first thing in the morning, then the ear surgery, then the hearing test.  Should be about 3 hours when it's all said and done.  In the meantime, we have a few pre-surgery appointments coming up.  She has all of these small problems that are probably no big deal but could be a really big deal.  The enlarged ventricles in her brain being one.  Another being a minor congenital heart defect - patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).  We will meet with the anesthesiologist prior to surgery as well as the ENT and the cardiologist to make sure none of these small problems will cause big problems in surgery.

On one hand, every doctor has told me these things with a tone that says, "No big deal.  Nothing to worry about."  But on the other hand - and I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty confident about this - your brain and your heart are kind of important organs.  So anything that is not working exactly the way it should is a big deal just because we're talking about major organs here.  The funny thing is that neither the enlarged brain ventricles nor the heart defect are related to Down syndrome.  Her heart defect is more likely due to her premature birth than her extra chromosome.  And the enlarged ventricles in her brain are just one of those genetic lottery things.  The tiny ears though?  We can totally blame those on Down syndrome.

I'm a worrier by nature.  I tend to let small things balloon up into big problems in my mind.  Mole hills and mountains if you will.  So I'm trying to stay ahead of the game with this and not over think it.  All of these things need to happen and no amount of obsessive worrying will change that or the outcome. I'm also refusing to think about the medical bills associated with all of those specialists.  So far, my coping mechanisms are denial (picture me with my fingers in my ears and eyes closed saying "Lalalalalalala" loudly) and distractions.  Like this:

Now you, too can watch those seven glorious seconds any time you need a pick-me-up.  It works, I tell you.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Update on Faith's hearing

We had Faith's appointment with the ENT last Tuesday.  If you remember, we've been concerned about her hearing for a few months so we had it tested at our pediatrician in August.  When she "failed" the test they referred us to the local children's hospital where they did some more testing.  Then the audiologist at the hospital referred us to the ENT at the same hospital.  We had to wait two months for that appointment so I went into the appointment ready for some answers and a plan!

The doctor took a look in Faith's ears and declared that "no one has ever been able to see deep enough into those tiny ears" to diagnose anything.  Small "pipes" are common in children with Down syndrome and there are several babies in Faith's baby class who have already had tubes put in their ears.  He tried to clean the wax out of her ears, but gave up relatively quickly because he didn't think he'd be able to see what he needed to see anyway and didn't want to torture her any more.

(Side story: The doctor and the nurse had to hold her down while he cleaned her ears out.  As soon as they released her into my arms to comfort her, she whipped around and stared them down while yelling at them.  I kind of giggled at that.  She likes to show you how she feels.)

He gave us the choice to come back in a few months to check again, but I quickly said that I was ready to move forward.  My gut tells me she needs tubes and I don't want to unnecessarily delay what she needs.  He agreed.  So the plan is to put her under anesthesia and clean her ears out.  Then they'll check for fluid behind her ear drum (I think he said they'd put a small slice in her ear drum to check for fluid! Ouch!) and if there is fluid present then they'll put the tubes in her ears.  I will be shocked shocked if there isn't fluid back there.  Shocked.

Once they diagnose and hopefully fix the problem, they'll do an ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) test - it's the same hearing test they do for newborn screenings - to see if her hearing has improved.

She also needs an MRI to check the enlarged ventricles in her brain.  This is something that's been present since her birth - nothing to do with DS, just a luck of the draw kind of thing - that we've been monitoring with ultrasounds every few months.  So far, they haven't caused problems (enlarged ventricles can lead to fluid build-up - hydrocephalus - which can cause lots of other problems) and the doctor told me that if there hasn't been a problem by 6 months of age, there usually isn't going to be a problem.  The MRI is something they want to do at around one year of age to get a better look and confirm that everything is all good.

Because she'll have to put under anesthesia for the MRI, we are trying to coordinate the ear surgery with the MRI so she only has to be put under once.  The doctors agree that it's best to minimize the amount of anesthesia a child is exposed to so they think it's a good idea to combine the two procedures. The only problem is we now have to coordinate with two different departments of the hospital and find a date that works for both departments which means....we have to wait.

The wait may actually be a good thing because we recently found out that we should qualify for Medicaid now that we have updated Faith's Social Security file with our data.  I sent in the initial application Monday so I'm hoping we can get that going without a hitch - barring another government shutdown.  Ha.  Too soon?

We don't have a date scheduled yet, but I will want to enlist your prayers for Faith and her mommy who is sure to be a bit stressed.  It's certainly no brain surgery, but anesthesia is no small thing.  And I fully expect good news from the MRI, but there's also a reason they do them - just in case there's a problem that has gone undetected.  I know both procedures are necessary and I'm grateful we can do them both in one go.

Here are the prayer requests as of now:
- peaceful hearts for the Husband and me
- strength and health for Faith's little body
- good news on the MRI
- perfect timing coordinating the schedules of the OR (for the surgery) and radiology (for the MRI). We want it on the calendar as soon as possible (hopefully before the end of the year for insurance purposes), but after our Medicaid application gets approved so there are no complications with that
- speed and simplicity for the Medicaid application to get approved quickly and without a hitch - that will make a huge difference for the medical bills that will start showing up in our mailbox!
- a successful surgery that results in improved hearing for Faith-baby

Thanks for remembering us in your prayers!  I'll be sure to write more when we have a plan in place.

Until then:
BAM! Cuteness!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Louisburg Cider Mill

Did I say I was going to tell you about our weekend on Monday?  I meant Tuesday.  Tuesday.  You sillies.

We took advantage of the good weather this weekend and visited the Louisburg Cider Mill and pumpkin patch.  Last year we considered forking out the $8 per person for the extra stuff, but decided that it wasn't worth the money for a two-year-old's attention span.  This year we decided to go for it and it was totally worth it.  Lila went bananas.  She loved every inch of that place.

Lila loved the hayride ("We're riding on HAY!").  I asked the guy sitting across from us to snap a picture of us and he took ONE.  I thought surely someone would be blurry or blinking or not smiling, but it turned out really well.

I tried to get a few more pictures, but Faith was more interested in the shoes of the kid who was sitting next to me.  This was the best picture of the bunch. 

Lila and I were more cooperative.

Except when she wasn't.

The hayride stopped halfway around the field at a hill with two slides.  If you can call them slides.  They were the farm version of ghetto.

Before I could say "feet first" Lila had already gone down the slide twice.  No guts, no glory.

Then I sent the Husband down with both girls.
The looks on their faces should tell you a little bit about their personalities.  Lila = overjoyed.  Faith = unimpressed.
I sent my grandma the following video and she said her "heart was in her throat" watching it.  Grandma, if you had been there you would have been gasping the whole time!

After we dragged Lila away from the giant white plastic boards - I mean "slides" - we tackled the corn maze.  Lila took on navigation duties until the Husband decided he was done following our three-year-old in blind circles.
Only after we got home did we find out that the maze was actually pretty impressive.  They carve a different theme into the fields every year to create the maze.  Here's an aerial shot from the website:

After the maze, Lila scaled the hay bales while I took a break to feed Faith.

Faith had a bemused expression on her face most of the day.  Kind of like this:

I think she was a little over-stimulated.  I was glad we decided to spend the money to do the fun stuff.  We already declared that we want to go back next year.  It's officially a Kautzi family tradition.

Strangely, we didn't think to get the cliche kids-sitting-with-pumpkins picture so I'll throw in one from a few years ago just so we can look at how little and cute Lila was.
Little Lila and her buddy Camille.  Look how little!
I hope my kids remember these things.  But even if they don't, these are the things that will stick in our memories.  I'll remember the blue sky, the perfect weather, the bold confidence of my first born and the sheer adorableness of my baby.  I'll remember having dorky conversations about Harry Potter with the Husband while wandering through the corn maze.  I'll remember that feeling of sharing an common experience with a wider community - even if they were complete strangers.  And I'll be thankful.  Because I have been given so many lovely things.  

Wow. This post took a turn for the sappy.  Sorry about that!  Ha.  And it's already quite long, so I'll be back tomorrow with the update on Faith's hearing.  Spoiler alert: it looks like surgery is in our future.  Boo.