Monday, May 28, 2012

Kisses for Granny Laurie

It’s been twenty-three years since my mom passed away. I miss her on special occasions and anniversaries, etc., but I was only four when she died. I’ve spent 86% of my life without her, so the normal day passes usually without much thought of how much I miss her. Don’t get me wrong, I have her picture everywhere and I think of her everyday, but I don’t miss her on a daily basis, if that makes sense. 

However, when I found out I was pregnant with Harper, for the first time in many many years, I missed my mom every single day. I wanted to share every part of this experience with her. I was her baby having a baby. I wanted to tell her about the first time I felt Harper kick; ask her questions about each of her pregnancies; I wanted to go shopping with her for my baby girl. For the first time in a long time, I thought about how jealous I was of those other women out with their, laughing, giddy with excitement for this new blessing about to enter the world. There were days when I would cry, longing for my mom (I’d blame it on the hormones, but I think it was just plain sadness). 

That's me in that belly...
Harper will never meet her Granny Laurie, so I can’t explain how important it is to me that she knows her Granny Laurie. I want her to know how kind she was; what her laugh sounded like; I want her to know how hard she fought to beat the cancer, and when she knew she wouldn’t, that her faith in God was stronger. I want her to know how much she loved her babies, and how much she would have loved watching Harper grow up. 

The only way I know these things, honestly, is not because I remember her, but because my family has done such an incredible job showing me who my mom was, helping me get to know the woman who was my mom. I only have a couple of personal memories of my mom; she got sick when I was only two. Most of the stories I have about her are someone else’s memories. But I’ll take whatever I can get. And I’ll share them all with Harper, because I want her to know this woman who was her grandmother.

**For the record, Harper does not hand out kisses. I've gotten kisses maybe twice. But she finds and gives this picture of my mom kisses every. single. time. It gets me every time. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Prewett Family

I am completely consumed by thoughts and prayers for my best friend and her brand new baby, sweet Adeline Camille. After another update from her sister tonight, I lost it. I love this family so much. 
Stole this pic from Mille's facebook...courtesy of Julie May, I think...
Camille and I became friends at Tech because our college boyfriends were roommates. She grew up in Spearman, another small Texas town no one has heard of, and because of that I felt a little bit closer to home every time we hung out. The boys didn’t last long, but our friendship sure has. After she graduated from Texas Tech and I had had enough of Raiderland, we moved to Austin together to begin a new adventure. She, a recent college graduate embarking on the real world; me, a transfer student trying to find the part of myself that got lost during my two years at Tech. Some challenging times were ahead for both of us and our friendship, but you don’t let the people who mean the most to you out of your life for long. Camille moved to Dallas, and I followed not long after. 

Camille, you look exactly like Cayla here...
We both met our men, got married, and started families. I was there the day that Ellie Claire was born. I waited with her parents and her sisters, convinced I could be a Smith if they’d let me, until Scott finally came out and announced Sweet E’s arrival. Camille, Scott, and Ellie were all there in the hallway when they wheeled Harper out of my room, just minutes after she was born. 
Ellie Claire has been such a special part of our life. Without even knowing it, watching her and holding her helped prepare me for the most important job of my life. When my aunt Mary was sick and I was getting updates about her declining health, I’d call Camille and beg to come hold Ellie, she was a drug free anti-depressant. Just smelling and snuggling her made everything better. I have absolutely loved getting to watch Ellie and Harper become sweet friends over the last few months. One of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard was when I first heard Ellie say Harper’s name. It came out closer to “Hoppa”, and it melted my heart. 
Wildest morning hair EVER!! Love that girl!
When Camille and Scott announced they were pregnant with another sweet baby, and that baby was going to be a girl, I was so excited because I knew Harper would sit right in between these Prewett girls and would always have them both to play with, to lead and to follow. 
But with the news of Adeline’s heart condition came so much unknown. Everything was different. I didn’t know how to be excited and cautious, scared and upbeat for my best friend who just got the worst news of her life. I never knew if what I was saying in an effort to comfort Camille really made things worse. Wednesday, when Addie was born, Harper had a fever. I couldn’t be there to sit and wait with the family. I couldn’t be there to see them wheel her out of Camille’s room. Camille has done so much for me as a new mom; she’s introduced me to other moms, she’s invited me to more playdates than I can count, she’s answered my desperate calls for tips and tricks, and she’s taught me so much in her little time as an “expert” I’m not sure I could have made it through this last year without her. 
But now she’s going through something that no one we know can relate to. She’s being thrown into the dark deep end of some very murky water, and all anyone can do is sit back and watch as they fight their way to the top. We don’t know how to help, we don’t know how to take this pain away. There’s a difficult balance between being helpful and being overwhelming. They have so much new information to take in, so many doctors and nurses to talk to, family and friends who call/text for updates. Should you add one more text and let them know you’re thinking about them or leave them alone so they can spend any quiet time they do have loving that sweet baby girl? It’s a conundrum, but we’re all so desperate to help, to have them know we love them, that we can’t stop thinking about them. 
Tomorrow Adeline goes in for her first surgery. You can read more about the daunting day ahead of them here. It’s going to be a long, hard day for everyone involved. If you can spare a prayer or two or ten, send them their way. I know their story is reaching people they don’t even know, in cities states away; I’m hoping that they are bombarded with a loving comfort sent from all corners of this great network that they have surrounding them. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet Adeline

Okay, I'm sending out an ALL CALL for prayers/positive vibes/spirit dances...whatever you do to conjure up and send love across to the ones who need it the most...Sweet Adeline is on her way. My best friend Camille and her husband Scott are welcoming their second baby girl today. Scott and Camille were told around 16 weeks that Adeline Camille had a complex heart defect that would require several surgeries and long hospital stays starting right after delivery. You can read more about their journey through this incredibly difficult diagnosis and pregnancy here. Their faith in the Lord is awe inspiring, but they know they have a difficult road ahead. They need your prayers, today and in the weeks to come.

Photo courtesy of Camille Prewett

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother's Day Post

To the One Who Made Me a Momma,

I cannot tell you how much joy you have brought me over the last eleven months. When I was anticipating your arrival, I knew that I would love you. But this much? I had no idea. I had no idea that the first touch of your skin to mine would bond us for life. I had no idea that the first time I held you you would fit perfectly in my arms, like you belonged there all along. I had no idea that the first smile you flashed us would melt my heart; that the simple act of you holding my hand, or resting your head on my shoulder, would be enough to bring tears to my eyes. 

I could never have known how much your sweet spirit would light up my life; that your tears would be the hardest part of my day; or that your joy in each new discovery would be so contagious. 

I am a better person because of you. You make me happier and healthier, stronger and wiser, a better friend and wife. 

The day you made me a momma was the greatest day of my life. On this, my first Mother’s Day, I want you to know that you are forever loved. You are the light of my life, and I am blessed to be your mother. Not a day goes by that I do not thank God for making you my daughter, for giving me such a precious gift, for the opportunity to show you unconditional love. I love you more than everything on this Earth combined (well, you and your daddy). I can not wait to watch you grow up and to be the mom you need me to be. 

I love you, sweet daughter of mine.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

11 Months!

Holy smokes!! As I was getting Harper ready for her "photo shoot" this morning, I took out her monthly sticker and realized I only HAVE ONE STICKER LEFT! Where did the time go?! When I was pregnant or when Harper was a newborn, I was slightly annoyed by how many times I heard, "Enjoy this time, it goes by so fast." But DAMN!!! It goes by SO. FAST.

And I gotta say, these photo shoots are getting harder and harder. My girl just does not sit still. I mean seriously...

This has been such a fun month! Harper is slowly but surely a walker. It started out with just a few steps at a time, and never when we wanted her to. If we stood her up and tried to get her to walk to us, she'd plop down and crawl. But when she was distracted with three things in her hands and another thing she wanted across the room, then she'd walk. It was a lot like the crawling process (of course it would be), where she knew how to walk, but she also knew crawling was faster. But I think it's safe to say at this point, we have a toddler in our house. What?!

Anyway, Harper has been a busy little bee this month. We've both really added to our social calendar and have had so much fun playing with other babes and mommas! We went to the zoo, had weekly playdates with friends, played at the playground with friends...just gotten out of the house! It's so nice to have something to do every day that gets us out and interacting with other people.

I have a feeling we're going to have some trouble with all these boyfriends Harper's got!

 The weather here is slowly getting hotter, so we're taking in all the sun while we can stand it.

I have loved watching my girl grow this month, even though with each new milestone she's becoming less of a baby. I can't believe next month my baby will be ONE!! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

For My Sister

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t talk to my sister. She’s my very best friend but lives exactly 1,377 miles away from me door to door, so our phones have a pretty big job in bridging those miles. Nowadays, we talk during naptimes or after the littles have gone to sleep for the night, or when we’re in the car and have a quiet moment. Somedays we have “Skinny-marink-a-dink-a-dink” days where we call just to say hi, “in the morning and in the afternoon. I love you in the evening, and underneath the moon.” If you were to look at our phone bills, most likely you’d see one or two Neal Dickson or Bruce and Becky Home to every seven or eight Sarah Hunts. But only because she’s my sister, and because we're home all day with babies and not much else. Besides, if you’ve ever had a sister, you know it’s not a favorites thing, it’s a necessity. An “I-gotta-call-my-sister” thing “and-tell-her-all-about/cry-about/laugh-about/bitch-about-something-because-no-one-else-in-the-world-will-listen-cry-laugh-or-bitch-like-she-will” kind of thing. Again, it’s a necessity.

Sisters make everything better. She’s four (okay, she’ll say not four, but I’m rounding up here, people) years older than me, and she’s my hero. We’ve never really fought like other sisters I know. Sure, I’d steal and ruin a shirt of hers, or rob her giant yellow crayon of all the quarters it held so I could go to the drugstore, or she’d spy on me while I was playing pretend radio dj and jump out and start making fun of me...but we never stayed mad at each other longer than a good scream in a pillow lasted. It’s probably because of our non-confrontational personalities; or if you asked some shrink, they’d say it’s because we lost our parents at such a young age, and had to grow up so young, that the petty normal teenage girl stuff didn’t get to us like it got to other sisters. Something like that. 

But Sarah has always been the older, wiser sister that I called for advice or rushed to for a hug. She’s always taken care of me the best she could. She taught me how to drive a car and how to put on makeup (granted, we both failed at this, but she tried is the point). She was my mom when I didn’t have one. But the thing that I never considered, being the youngest, was that she didn’t have a mom either. And it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I learned that after Dad died, she counted all the money in her bank account, considered foregoing college, and was ready to do whatever she had to to be my legal guardian. Luckily this consideration was brief thanks to the McNeills who stepped up so she didn’t have to, and they played the role of our loving guardians beautifully. To them we are both eternally grateful. But the point is, Sarah was ready if I needed her to be. She would have sacrificed everything to be the mom I needed.  
She was with me the day I became a mom, the day my life changed forever. I watched her stare into my daughter’s eyes with tears streaming from her own. I was, and still am, desperate to know what she was thinking those first few hours of Harper’s life. In my heart, I know it was pride and joy streaming from those tears after witnessing the birth of the first “Atchley” baby. But I also think there was grief, knowing that our mom and dad weren’t there to witness it too. 

I’ll never forget in May of ’95, after Sarah left with her 8th grade grad date, all dressed up thanks to Mary Beth Young, Dad ran from the living room and buried his head in the couch pillow, and cried. “I just wish your mom were here to see her.” I think Sarah’s tears were a little bit of that too when Harper was born. 

So when it was finally Sarah’s turn to become a mom for real, you can imagine the excitement, anxiety, sadness, and love that I felt flying to San Diego to meet sweet Donevan Marcus. 

Sarah was meant to be a mom. She was such a natural from the moment she held her first born son. She was a nursing machine from the get go, walking around, no Boppy necessary within the first 3 days. She had just the right amount of calm and fear, a difficult dance for most new moms. 

I spent a week there, watching her, trying to help where I could, mostly trying to keep Harper out of her way. But I wanted to be for her what she was for me after Harper was born: an outlet, someone to show my crazy to, someone to cry to when the post pregnancy hormones and sheer exhaustion got the best of me, someone to help me shower and shave my legs after a long birth day. She was all of those things and more for me; she was my sister, mom, doula, and best was important to me to be those things for her. 
I didn’t really accomplish all of what I wanted to do while I was there, what with also trying to be a mom to my own 9 month old, but for the first time I was able to help her in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. I had done this thing, this new mom dance. I had something she didn’t have, a tiny bit of experience. After all the late night phone calls and advice over boys, college, finances, life, where she got to use her experience to counsel me, it was finally my turn to answer the call. I had tips and tricks to share, a tiny bit of wisdom. But most importantly during those desperate phone calls that all new moms make, it is my job, no my privilege, to tell her that she’s doing an amazing job, that I’m so proud of her, that her son is the luckiest boy in the world to have her as a mom. I should know. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have her as my sister.
Happy Birthday, Sarah (okay, day after, I got distracted). I am the person I am today because I had you as a sister, to guide me, love me, and support me. You are an amazing friend, wife, and now mother. I am so proud of you, and I wish Mom and Dad were here to see you in action. I love you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Zoo!

This post is going to be picture heavy...We went to the Dallas Zoo last week with the Corders, and Harper loved it. She fed the giraffes (made me think of Granne), stood over the lions, got attacked by birds (no biggie), and rode her first carousel.

Not. Cool. I had no idea what I was getting myself (or my baby) into. I'm pretty sure I had three birds on my arm  at this point too...

Preston and Laura on the "dead elephants". Preston couldn't quite grasp the concept of the statue...he just knew these guys weren't moving.

This was about three hours past her naptime...Clearly she does not care.

We may be in trouble here...

Gotta say, we were impressed with the Dallas Zoo. And I hear the Fort Worth zoo is even better. We'll experiment and get back to you...

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

Here's some "Proof of Life" for you...Five things I'm absolutely loving right now:

1. My petunias. We planted them a couple of weekends ago and they're still alive. I love a little color in our front and back yards. It really screams SPRING!!

2. Playdates...We've got pretty full calendars lately, and I love it! We've got a weekly playdate established, we're meeting friends at the park, we're playing in the morning, we've had some random's exactly what I've been wanting my days to look like, it just took ten months to get there. Having something to look forward to and to get out of the house for every day makes my day so much better. All it took was a little initiative and sucking up my fear, and now we're here! Here's Jack and Harper yesterday. Harper just followed Jack around, and he just put stuff on her head. It was great! 

 3. Spring Sundays. This weekend, I took my book, my coffee, and my husband and we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful spring breeze. It was glorious!

4. Meet Bear. I love Bear. Harper loves Bear. We totally take advantage of Bear, because if you're snuggling Bear, Harper snuggles you. It's so sweet. Anytime I've got a hankering for some Harper love (because frankly, she doesn't give it freely...she's pretty busy), I just grab Bear and Harper and steal me some hugs. I love Bear. 

5. My almost walker. Somehow I managed to capture my daughter's first steps on video. We were at Baby Bounce, and I thought her adorable shaking skills were worth a video. And then she started walking. She doesn't do it all the time, but she'll do it throughout the day when she's distracted. I'm sure it'll be no time before she's running.

So what's your Proof of Life these days?