Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So Blessed

video video

A video of Thomas's giggles that make me feel like I am truly alive. And a video of Caroline trying to calm Thomas down for me. At the end we make her say something she said to Travis the other day when he threw a snowball at her-I couldn't believe it: ("Oh Yeah, tough guy, you want a piece of me?) She said she heard that on the Toy Story movie. We watched several movies during her three days of sickness! We watched The Polar Express more times than I would like to admit. She called it "The North Pole" movie.
(Thanks, Dad, for letting me use your camera!)

We enjoyed our Christmas with my family in Fort Smith! (We will head home tomorrow!) For a while we were unsure we were going to have Christmas this year! I am calling this Sick-mas 2009! Caroline got very sick on Sunday and it went through Tuesday night. The doctor treated it as the flu. Thomas had a little tummy trouble starting Monday that went a whole week! THEN just when we decided we were going ahead with the trip to my mom and dad's, Jett got sick! Some how we all managed to be together and make wonderful memories for Christmas. We even had a white Christmas! (Pics to come!) The sickness of the kiddos took a lot of my energy and helped distract me from the sadness.
I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to sweet Leigh. She volunteered to come Sunday night and take care of Thomas while I tended to Caroline all night. She then stayed the whole next day and night-feeding, loving on him and changing LOTS of diapers!! God ALWAYS provides right when I think I am going to "lose" it! Them Mimi came and took Thomas to Fort Smith for Tuesday night while Caroline continued to recover. Thank you, Mimi!
As I continue my thank yous...Becky and Travis knew I was DREADING taking down my Christmas decorations. It is depressing taking them down every year even without grieving. I just heard from them that they took it all down and packed it away so I won't have to when we return home. WOW! That is LOVE.
I am not sure I will have time to post before Tuesday. I just want to say "Thank You" in advance for all the prayers that will be needed to get through this week. A "thank you" also to Becky and Dori and some others who have planned an amazing tribute for us to attend for my husband Tuesday evening. Becky knows how thrilled I get when a lot of our family and friends get together (we always say that when we are all together it is like what it will be in heaven!) and she is adding singing some of our favorite hymns that night so it will truly be as close to heaven as we can get.
I am so thankful for such awesome support and love that surrounds us all the time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time

I've always known that time is precious. Of course, after the events of this year that fact about time has been beaten into my head. (Being blunt today, no time for flowery statements! :-) ) I bought a Gingerbread house kit at wal-mart knowing that it would be fun for Caroline and I. Didn't it turn out great?

Ha! That was the picture from the box. Here's ours:


To be really deep, this is kind of like my life--you think it's going to turn out one way, and it turns out completely different. (By the way, do NOT use the red sprinkles that come with the kit-it took two days for the color to fade from my hands! Use your own red sprinkles!)
My life is not turning out at all how I had "planned" or even hoped, but I can say that I am making the best of what life and God has given me. Look at that sweet smile on Caroline's face. How can I say life is awful or that God is so mean etc. He is keeping His promises from the bible--we will have heartaches, but He is here for us to get through them. The ultimate goal is not to make sure everything goes our way here on Earth--it is to persevere, even thrive if possible, through the hard times and let everyone know that the way you spend eternity is way more important than the "comfortable" life we strive for here on Earth.

"For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!" 2 Corinthians 4:17

There have been some really dark days, or moments since January. But I can say that God sure has taken care of me as much as possible. He has sent so many "new" friends to help me. Nellie (above with Caroline and her hot "toe-toe") has the most empathetic heart of anyone I know. She has cleared her schedule many a-times to make sure I have help on those days where I can't juggle everything alone. Here's another sweet friend who takes time whenever possible to help me with my kiddos. Leigh (or Ro-Ro, as we affectionately call her) is helping Jacob (Tara N's son) and Caroline make brownies. Leigh has endless energy--Thank you, God for friends and family!
There are so many friends and family who have helped at multiple times this year. I hesitate in mentioning anyone because there is no way to include everyone! I can always count on Meagan C. to cook and take pictures for us whenever I feel it's time, Tara H is my reliable babysitter and the one who understands what I need, Meagan and Matt T. are always willing to spend the night if I feel I am too tired for those 2:00am feedings. Julie and Adam always seem to know what I need before I do, Tara S. always finds ways to help me all the way from Texas. A few people email or text me every few days all year long just to let me know they're thinking of me: You know who you are! My sweet momma spent almost this entire past week caring for my kiddos. Becky: There are no words. The list goes on and on.
My advice to everyone: Don't get too down about your situation, there is always something you can smile about and usually God doesn't make you look too hard.

Before I forget:
Caroline trying to repeat "Humpty Dumpty": "Hokey, Dunkey sat on a wall..."
She says "actually." Example, "Actually, I think you need to take my band-aid off for me."
About a month ago she said, "Thomas, you're so ham!" (Instead of "handsome.")
My favorite: "Snuggle with me, Momma."

Prayers: Crumby family. They need constant prayers.
Praise: I've heard specifically about three people who have turned to Jesus through sweet Hannah's story. How many of us can say the same thing about our lives? (Also, don't think you have to wait to get your life in "order" before calling on Jesus, He wants us the way we are, mess and all! If all you can do is pray, "Help me!" that is enough. Sometimes, that is still the only prayer I can pray!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hannah

Hannah is heaven now. She went at 3:18am this morning. My heart is broken for their family. Please pray that God can give them the peace that only He can provide.

Visitation Friday night from 6pm-8pm
Funeral Saturday at 10:30am all at Calvary Baptist in Fayetteville

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thankful

Here is the latest update on Hannah Grace, copied straight from her Caringbridge journal this morning:

Monday, December 7, 2009 8:14 AM, CST

Good Morning to all-this is Nana. Hannah is still with us this morning. She is having a little more difficulty breathing this morning but still being a Warrior Princess. Momma got to sleep in the bed with her last night and I'm sure that was a great comfort to both of them. We are thankful of the day we had with her yesterday. We surrounded her and the ones in the room with wonderful praise and worship music. It brought a sense of peace to our hearts. Please continue to keep the prayers going-we were more mentally & emotionally prepared for Hannah's homecoming yesterday than we are today.

I am now in the position that so many of you were when you were comforting me eleven months ago. How do you keep going with your normal routine when a family you love is having their entire world change forever.
Uncle Travis made a really great point to Becky and I when we were despairing over the situation with Hannah. Everyone is praying for the Crumby family and God is holding onto them tight. The rest of us, who are praying for them, may not feel the peace and assurance that God is granting them.
I can speak from experience when I say that God's embrace was physically, tangible during those darkest days for me-and He continues to be when the dark days creep in again. I do draw comfort that I know the Crumby family will feel the same way because they are believers.
Thank you, God, for keeping your promises to us. You will be their Great Comforter. You will carry them through and You never let go.

I am continuing this post on being thankful, hoping that it can be an encouragement, that although there are certainly trials in life there are also many blessings...
We had an amazing turnout at Har-Ber High's First Annual Run to Remember for my husband. The students from EAST lab put together a great run and they raised over two thousand dollars towards the Thomas Culp Memorial Scholarship. I had many family and friends come out to support us. Thank you to those who contributed, ran (or walked in my case!,) or prayed for this event. The back of the shirts had a quote from my husband that he had written on a picture of himself that he kept in his classroom "Bending the future to my will one student at at time." He still makes me laugh.Caroline celebrated Thanksgiving at her Mother's Day Out by singing a song with her class on stage and inviting us all to a feast afterwards. Sweet memories were made. (I was juggling the camcorder and the camera so the pics did not turn out great. Thanks to Mom, Becky, Travis and Nellie who juggled Thomas and Jett so that I could focus on Caroline!)We spent Thanksgiving at Aunt Jen and Uncle Mark's house. They went all out to make sure all their nieces and nephews had a fantastic time. Caroline is still talking about the cart and feeding Taffy the pony, bounce house and puppy Sera. I am so blessed to have a close relationship with Thomas's family and it really feels like I've spent time with Thomas after being with them all.Getting out the Christmas decorations was really tough. I remember so vividly sitting in front of our tree this time last year and letting Caroline bring her daddy the wrapped present that had a picture of our positive pregnancy test inside. I am so happy we were able to celebrate the pregnancy together those few weeks.
I have tried hard to really "be" in the moment when special times come around throughout the year. But sometimes I am just going through the motions to create those memories for Caroline and baby Thomas that I know are important for them to have. I truly believe that eventually I will feel more true about these times in the coming years. It seems a little far off right now, though.The fact that the ONE YEAR mark is quickly approaching has not been lost on me. I really do not remember what happened to spring this year, summer I tried hard to do special things with Caroline before her brother arrived, so I remember some things from it. The fall has flown by, and now we are here. Wow. I've heard from people that the days leading up to "the day" are harder than the day itself. Not sure that makes the experience any easier, but I do know my dear friend Tara's blog about fear sure helped me this week.
Tara and her two adorable boys, their mimi, my dear friend Leigh and us three were able to go to the square and see the lights. I am so glad I went with them. This was one of the last "big" memories from our time together last year and it helped to be with Tara who knows almost exactly how I feel. We were able to spend a lot of time together that day and I am so thankful for her friendship and that God brought us together.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hannah Grace Crumby

As those of you who have been following my blog know, words rarely fail me. They are certainly failing me now. I was able to spend a precious, so very precious, three hours with Kimberly and Hannah Monday night. It was such an honor to me that Kimberly let me share that time with them. God is holding the Crumby family so tight, you can physically see it. I have asked my blog readers to pray for this family over the last few months and now this sweet little girl needs more. The ventilator will be turned off this Sunday. Please ask your friends, family and churches to pray like they have never prayed before for a miracle for Hannah Grace. Kimberly and I are strong in our faith and know that God can heal Hannah if it is his will at this time-we also know that we cannot know the bigger picture and He may choose to have Hannah in heaven with Mr. Thomas. Either way, Hannah will be taken care of and the bible that we choose to believe with every fiber of being promises that we will all be together again.
www.caringbridge.org (HannahGraceCrumby)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two New Looks

I knew it was time to get rid of the pink, but I have not had any free time to explore Blog color options. I even have had some sweet readers volunteer to re-do our blog layout, but I just don't have the time to see what's out there! Hopefully over Christmas break I will get around to that (and to change the picture at the top of the page...)

Some of you have asked about my new haircut-it really isn't some crazy new do like Kate Gosselin or anything, but it is definitely different for me! Here's a few pics others have posted to Facebook-I don't like to be the only one in a picture so these will have to do! Some of our sweet bible study girls got to go to a Pro-Life benefit for "Loving Choices" pregnancy center. I was already a "pro-lifer" but after hearing the presenter/doctor speak about the thousands of abortions he performed before giving his life to Christ was almost too much to bear. He explained the process of an abortion-anyone who thinks they are pro-choice needs to hear what actually happens and it would HAVE to change their minds. Also, 95% of women who are considering abortion decide to keep the baby or give the baby up for adoption after seeing an ultrasound of the baby! Awesome.
A little closer-up pic of my hair and of sweet Thomas in his peapod costume!! (Thanks, Tara!) This picture is hilarious. Jett doesn't look to happy about being squished next to Thomas!

Prayer Requests:
The holidays, for everyone who has lost someone
Praises:
Baby London born yesterday afternoon!! 8lbs 6oz 19 3/4 inches!
The blessings we have in life (my family and friends)
Being able to spend a whole day and most of the night with Tara N. and family!!!--Blog post to come...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On a much lighter, stinkier note...

Title of this post does not have anything to do with this cutie-pie. I just had to include this huge, adorable smile. He is such a good baby. I could just eat him up.

So I have had NO time to blog about all of the events last week. I will get to it eventually! It was wild with Thomas getting sick and then Mimi catching it and having to go home, yet I still had class that I had to go to...you get the picture.
In the middle of all that I was fortunate enough to have Aunt Becky come one evening so I could shower-yes, I am admitting to the world that I do not shower every day. (By the way, this fact also has nothing to do with the title of this post including the word "stinky.") You have to have priorities being a single mother of a newborn and a two-year-old. Showering is not high on that list. I am digressing...
So I felt like I was going a million miles a minute all week and this feeling continued as I was getting ready after my shower. (I feel like taking time to fix my hair after a shower is eating into precious children time-or precious sleeping time, so I'm always in a hurry.)
I intentionally did not post about my new haircut--seemed kind of trivial in light of everything else going on, but now to tell this not-so-short story I have to post about it.
I've never had my hair so short in my life. I love it. Melissa at "Spoiled" salon is a friend and an awesome hair dresser and she knew what I needed. Something easy to fix, yet wouldn't make my curls look like a triangle head. THANKS, Melissa!
I am finally wrapping this story up...stay with me here.
I bought exactly all of the hair products she used on me so that I could try and re-create my new hair cut style on my own at home.
One of these products is called Rusk. It is to be sprayed "liberally." (I think that is the word it used on the back.)
So in my haste, I grabbed the small clear bottle with an orange top and sprayed--liberally.
After a second or so of spraying, I start coughing and my eyes are stinging. Becky was in the room and I told that I must have sucked in right when I sprayed it. I continue spraying.
After the coughing doesn't stop, I finally stop spraying and look at the bottle. I immediately put my head under the faucet of the sink while Becky is asking what is going on!? Now her eyes are burning in the next room!! Here's what I saw:
I freaking sprayed "Off" mosquito repellent all over my hair!! My eyes and neck stung for at least ten minutes after re-washing. Just so you don't think I'm nuts, here's what they look like from behind.

A mistake any frazzled mom could make, right??

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hannah Grace

I've asked you all to pray for my sweet friend Kimberly's little girl, Hannah. She continues to fight for her life and her family has been on their own terrible emotional roller coaster for a few months now. You can visit her blog by clicking here: http://www.caringbridge.org/ and typing in "Hannahgracecrumby" in the "visit a site" section.
She has suffered another stroke and they are waiting to find out the results of this one. As her parents pray and stay close to God during this time, her mom has encouraged and uplifted her blog readers, family and friends in ways that she may never even know.
She copied a poem from another little girl's (RachelJoy's) blog. This was posted this morning:

WARNING- get your tissue ready!

Once upon a special day in Heaven up above , the tiniest souls sat at God's feet, surrounded by His love. ‘The time is coming, very soon’, God said, ‘Do not be scared. Your family awaits your arrival, now let us get prepared’.

And so God looked upon these souls, in mute consideration. He knew the life each one would live, He weighed each situation.

The souls chatted amongst themselves, and wondered who they'd be. They knew the day grew closer; soon, they'd meet their family.

‘How would you like to change the world?’ God asked each soul in fun. The chance to change a soul, a heart, is held by only one.

‘I'm going to make the world laugh’, one soul said with a smile, ‘for laughter heals a broken heart, and helps us through each trial’.

‘Then take with you the brightest smile, and share your laughter well’. The soul thanked God immensely, and down to earth he fell.

‘And I'll remind the world to sing’, a sweet little soul told the Lord. ‘I have the gift of a beautiful voice; I can hit every note and every chord’.

‘You’ll have the gift of music then, a voice, lovely and strong. Share your gift with others, and let them hear your song’.

‘I will show compassion’, the next little soul raised her hand. ‘Some people only need a friend, someone to understand’.

‘Compassion is a good thing’, God said with much delight. ‘To you, I will give mercy. You'll perceive wrong from right’.

And so each soul shared every thought, their plans, their hopes, their dreams. And God explained that life, it is, much harder than it seems.

And as each soul began to leave in a scurry of laughter and fun, Heaven became quiet and still, for left was only one.

‘Come sit with me my little child’, God said with just a sigh. ‘Do you know how many you will touch, in a world left wondering why? Before your life comes to an end, you will know much strife, but you'll teach those who know you, to cherish the smallest things in life.

'And some may only know you through a simple photograph, they'll never hold you in their arms, or memorize your laugh. Some may only know you through the words they read each day, but you'll do something wonderful, you'll make them stop and pray’.

The tiniest soul raised her head up, to touch God's firm, strong hand. ‘Father, I am ready for the life that you have planned. And I will do the best I can without a word or deed. For you Lord, are the planter, and I will be your seed’.

She could already hear many praying, and although they had not seen her face, they were praying for her safe arrival, they were asking for mercy and grace.

‘What talent do I leave with Lord? What gift do you impart?’

‘All that you will need’, God said, ‘I've placed within your heart’. And so God kissed this tiny child, knowing all that she would be, and whispered as he watched her go...'You'll teach them . . . to love me'.

Whether Hannah is on this earth for 4 years or 104, I know she is such a child..."

Hannah is a fighter and she has fought through already two life threatening situations (three if you count the leukemia!) Kimberly and I were talking a couple of weeks ago and as sad as it sounds, if Hannah ends up heaven we know that Thomas will be there to take care of her. As soon as Hannah was born we joked about how Thomas was president of the Hannah fan club. She was shy around most people when she was really little, but not around Thomas. They loved each other.

The bible promises we have hope in Christ. Hope for an eternal salvation and heaven. Hope that we will all be reunited again. This is definitely an encouragement and a reason to be thankful to God.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Phillipians 3:20-21


This Thanksgiving season let's all be thankful for each moment we have on this Earth with our family. It is a blessing to have the love we feel for each other, even if it is for not as long as we would like.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November already??

(Thanks for the beautiful hats and flowers, Beth!)
I am so sorry to have not updated until today! It is so hard for me to find enough words to thank you all for your support after that last post of mine. I read every comment and you all had great advice and encouragement. I definitely did not feel alone in the struggles of nursing! Several of you called and left messages of encouragement, as well-thank you! A few of you mentioned that maybe this is God's way of making me ease up on myself. I think you are right. Thomas and I have found the happy medium of nursing and supplementing with formula. It has freed me up for more quality time with Caroline and I still feel he is getting what he needs. The added bonus of formula is that he is sleeping in his bassinet at night for about 5-6 hours straight! Hallelujah! More sleep has helped me cope with my emotional ups and downs these past weeks.I am still dealing with health insurance woes-waiting ever so patiently for the COBRA people to add Thomas so that we can move ahead with paying bills and getting our appointments back on track. I am dreading talking to that billing lady at our clinic, so you can be praying for that as well!
Caroline and Thomas are growing up so quickly. I told someone that I really think I saw Thomas grow before my eyes a few days ago while he was playing. He is grabbing more purposefully at toys and smiling the biggest smiles that stop my heart!! He even giggles and babbles. He is such a good baby. Caroline continues to amaze me with her independence and ability to follow directions (usually the first time!) I keep telling people that God knew what I needed in that sweet little girl. She is helping load and unload the dishwasher and we have even had some time to bake together (thanks, Reba, for the pumpkin muffin recipe!) She is saying "I think so" and "I think not" lately. For example, Me: "Do you think it is time for nap?" Caroline: "I think not." Me: "Do you think it is time to run the dishwasher?" Caroline: "I think so." She also said the other day after I asked her what happend to the cracker on the floor, "My cute little foot stepped on it." I laughed so hard. When I am talking a lot with another adult she will ask "What are you talking about?" so that she can be in on the conversation.
At this moment, both sweet peas are asleep. I consider it a gift from God (and I am not exaggerating in the least bit. He knows what we need and when and He provides!!)Speaking of sweet peas, Thomas was a pea-in-the-pod for Halloween and Caroline was Tinkerbell. She had fun trick-or-treating at Mother's Day Out. Here she is with her teacher and another classmate:
Thomas pictures to come...

I have had more of an "up" week this past week, but I miss Thomas so much. I can't imagine me every getting used to relying on others to help me when it should be him there. If it wasn't for the amazing church family I have, we wouldn't have been able to enjoy our church's fall carnival friday night at all. Who knew how much help I was going to need getting two costumed children from the car into the church! And then feeding both of them and myself while there was a whole other adventure. Aunt Becky luckily came to help take Caroline around to the rides, but I found myself without free hands to take pictures. I am realizing that some things will have to be given up in order to enjoy ourselves and if that means less pictures, then so be it.

I haven't written about this before, but since I keep thinking about it I've decided to get it on the blog so that maybe it will help me get through the feelings. Over and over I find myself saying or thinking, "the hardest thing about this is _____" There are so many hard things about this that I have given up saying that and instead I say "Another hard thing about this is____" But while reading a book called Believe by a widow with two very young children, Jennifer Silvera, she hit the nail on the head. She recalls someone asking her "What do you miss the most?" There are a thousand things I miss, but the one thing that hits me over and over again day after day is not having Thomas to "check in" with. I think so many people take this for granted, but just think about how often you "check in" with your husband. I use to call or text message him several times through out the day just to say 'hi' or talk about dinner plans or just to find out where he was at a certain time of the day. It was such a habit that for several weeks after the accident I would pick my phone up after I had been out somewhere just to call and "check in" with him. -My breath catches just thinking about that feeling of realizing what I was doing and that he would not be able to answer my call. It still happens every now and then, when I feel that urge to call and check in with him. It is a feeling of pain that is undescribable. Who else wants to hear about the tiny things that happen throughout the day that you share with your spouse? Blessedly for me, my sister is able to be that person I can call with most of those details, but it is not quite the same as sharing your day with your spouse over dinner.
I really had planned on keeping this an upbeat post, but it feels better just to be completely honest about where I am in this journey.
I can say that I am truly enjoying each moment I get to spend with my children and that God is keeping us close and giving me the strength I need to not just go through the motions, but enjoy life. Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

A special prayer for my friend that is like a sister to me, Julie Harmon. Her daddy passed away this past Wednesday and his funeral was this afternoon. I am terribly saddened that I could not be there in person. I am continually praying for her family.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Firsts

My head is so full of emotions and thoughts that if I don't post them right this moment I think I am about to give myself a migraine. Keeping up with this blog is truly cathartic for me.

I am feeling very tired, swamped and a little defeated today. This dreary weather is not helping.

Let me start with some fun stuff first:
Thomas smiled for the first time about three weeks ago at his big sister! (I guess he favors her over me-I am totally okay with that!) I managed to take this picture of one of his adorable smiles at me about a week later on Sept 25.Caroline started attending the mother's day out program one day a week. She loves it-especially because they sing her favorite song "You are my Sunshine." I keep forgetting to write some cute things she says. She really enjoys her "step-pools" (stepstools) and I am too. She can wash her hands by herself and help with packing her lunch using step-pools. Also, this past weekend we got to enjoy some family time in Fort Smith. Aunt Laura introduced her to Peter Pan. She now asks to watch "Peter Pot" often. So cute.
Here's a picture of her on her first day of school:
And way back on September 6th, Thomas had his first day of church! Here he is all dressed up with one of his daddy's ties (thanks Amber!)
I'm not sure what's going on in my head and heart right now. I think it just boils down to missing Thomas. Just when I think I've gotten through some aspect of my grief (by the way, I understand the grief will never be "gotten over") it comes rushing back to me.
Lately at dance there has been a dad there watching his little girl in his "office" outfit with a white shirt and tie. In the reflection of the one-way mirror I can almost see Thomas standing there in this typical Thomas outfit watching Caroline dance and be so proud of her listening so well to her teacher amidst all the three and four year olds. When our reality hits, it takes my breath away. I think I'm afraid to really feel it for very long in case I nose-dive into it and somehow find myself unable to come back out of it to function for my family. This is rough.

I know this next paragraph will sound so silly, but here I am in all my honesty:
I feel like I've failed baby Thomas. I have tried so hard to strictly breastfeed (for bonding, for his health, to persevere because it is stinking hard to do, and because I did with Caroline, etc,) then today I took him in for his two month check up. First of all, I'm having a rough day anyway and then when I get us all there and on time (you know how much energy that takes!) the receptionist says I have to talk to the billing lady. So the billing lady tells me that I have to re-schedule since I have not been able to add him onto our insurance yet because the great state of Arkansas (can you sense my sarcasm) has failed to send his birth certificate to me yet. I am not about to go home without seeing the doctor. So I ask her what options do I have--wow this story is getting long--anyway she agrees to let me see the doctor, but we can't do any shots today. Okay, whatever lady.
I'm already upset about that scene and then the doctor tells me that Thomas is about 15 percentile in weight. (He is ten pounds even, All else is 50th percentile) Caroline was always around 80%, so I am horrified. He asks if I've been eating well, sleeping etc. You can imagine how this goes over on me. We decided to supplement with some formula. I think for any other "normal" mom this would be no big deal and nothing to go home and blog about. But I am far from normal and I'm sad about this. The doctor said there is no need for concern at this point. I think I just feel I didn't do my job for sweet baby Thomas. So tonight we will begin the pumping and supplementing. If you've stayed with me ranting this long about such a small thing, thank you.

I honestly don't have the energy or will to write about everything going on right now, I just wanted to ask for prayers during this trying time. If it wasn't for God, my mom and sister, I don't know where I'd be right now.
I am also continually praying for sweet 4 year old Hannah and her recovery from her stroke during her chemo last week. God is our strength James and Kimberly!

P.S.
Har-Ber High EAST students are hosing a "Run to Remember" in honor of my husband on Oct. 31st.
Forms can be mailed to
Har Ber High 300 Jones Road Springdale, AR 72762
Here's a link for some info for that:
http://pub.sdale.org/~dlamb/runtoremember.htm

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The game

The game Saturday was so unbelievable sad, yet memorable. Caroline was so excited that she literally ran as fast as her little legs could carry her all the way to the stadium (Thanks Uncle Trav for dropping Becky, Caroline and I off!) It was so fun seeing it all through her eyes. She asked me a million questions and it made me think about why we do what we do at football games.She wanted to know why some people were painted red from head to toe, "because it is a fun way to show support of our team"??
She wanted to know if I was going to help her play football. I had to explain that we were just going to watch other people play football.
She was concerned because she only had one pom pom and the cheerleaders had two. (Becky helped her by saying that Caroline's had both red and white colors in the one pom pom, so it was special.)
She kept saying the Razorbacks are "tough!"
She wanted to know why everyone was so loud, but then sometimes I had to tell her to be quiet for cheering too loudly. (so confusing!)
I remember my dad trying to patiently explain to me the four down system of football over and over again so many years ago.I saw so many dads with their kids there enjoying their time and part of me wanted to shout--"Enjoy this moment!! DON'T TAKE A SECOND OF IT FOR GRANTED!" and then a morbid part of me wants to tell everyone "You know you are going to die at some point?" I try to imagine what I would have thought of someone who would come up to me and say that to me nine months ago--What a loon! But today, I would just tell that person "You are right. Good thing I know where I am going when that happens!" At the same time, I realize now that most people are either going through or have been through a terrible "valley" like mine. So many people look "fine" on the outside, but who knows what is going on in their lives. My friend Kimberly (see the end of this post) mentioned this in her blog. So many times you are asked, "How are you?" by someone and you just say "fine" when actually you are hurting so badly or crying in your head about what is happening in your life. I try to remember this when I am feeling like I'm the only one hurting and everyone else around me seems so perfectly content.

God has been showing me how he is/has taken care of me in a couple of ways these past weeks. In the last post I mentioned how I was dreading telling the sweet couple from the Little Rock area who sit behind us about what happened.
I went by myself to get Caroline a hot dog and saw them! I thought what a perfect opportunity away from Caroline to tell them. As soon as they saw me they just hugged me so tight and I knew that they knew already.
They said they had heard Rick Schaffer (who works for the Razorbacks and for the school system Thomas taught in) on the radio say they had lost a teacher-he didn't hear the name, but God told him that it was Thomas. He went to the computer to check and it confirmed what God had already told him.
It was comforting to know God took care of this worry I had about telling our Razorback football friends months ago. I shouldn't have worried about it at all--
Matthew 6:25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life... 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"A couple of days before the game my dear friend, Kimberly, got a call to meet her family at the doctor's office where her precious four year old was supposedly having a routine check up for a fever. By that evening they were at Arkansas Children's Hospital where they were told Hannah has Leukemia. This is a strong Christian family and God is giving them strength, but prayers are needed. She and I have talked about how one day is "normal" and then the next moment can turn your life upside down. Please pray strength and healing for this family. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another new season

Our sweet friend, Meagan, loves to take pictures of my kids! What a blessing! She took some of Caroline this summer and these of Thomas when he was just over a week old.

So here is another new season: Fall. I think I'm doing okay and then--whammo!--it all comes rushing at me again like I am back at square one of this grief thing. I say it is a "whammo" but I think this might have been building for a few days...
Caroline started school last week (one day a week at our church's mother's day out.) I can't believe my little girl goes to school with a backpack and a lunchbox!! She loves it. I couldn't even get her to look back at me to say "goodbye" she was already engaged in playing. I'm so proud of her. She amazes me more each day with her maturity, intelligence and sweetness. Her favorite song to sing now is "You are my Sunshine" which she calls "Don't take the sun away" and her favorite book is "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." Between myself, mimi and Becky I bet we have read it to her at least one hundred times over the last couple of weeks.
Of course, as time goes by, I will be meeting new people who do not know us. A sweet mom who dropped her child off at Mother's Day Out at the same time as me struck up a conversation on our way out. She asked if we were finished having children...so much ran through my mind in the three second pause I took to figure out how to answer it without making her feel bad. I didn't want to just say, "Yes, we're finished" only to have to tell her the story weeks from now and have her not know the truth, so I told her that I'm in a strange situation in that my husband passed away a few months ago. I don't know why I started with "I'm in a strange situation" except that it is strange/unusual and that there is know good way to say what I am going to have to say.
She said she felt bad for asking, but of course, I told her that is was a perfectly innocent question. In my mind I knew this will be the first of many other times I will have to explain our "situation." I went onto tell her that we have amazing support from family, friends and our church and that prayers are keeping me going.Also, this Saturday is our first Razorback football home game. Those of you who aren't into college football will find it hard to relate, but I am honestly thinking I may cry the whole first quarter because Thomas will not be there to sit by me. We've been going to the games so long together that I can't even remember when we started! Luckily our tickets are next to wonderful friends so I won't have to have strangers hand me tissues. But we do have some sweet people who have sat behind us for years that I will have to tell the news to. Not fun.
On a happier note, I am taking Caroline with me to the game. She has her Arkansas cheerleading outfit ready and I think it will be good for us to be together there.As soon as I think I get used to a "season," it changes on me and I have to get a new grip on our new normal. I was thinking today about how the weather is about to get cooler and all that comes with that. More indoor activites and Thomas would have been making chili at least once a week (He made a really great chili) and that will be something I really miss--Just spending time in our home as a family on a cold night.
Thanks for your continued prayers!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tara Newby

Me, Caroline, Jacob and Tara from our fun meeting this past June
(baby Micah sleeping and baby Thomas had not arrived yet!!)

My dear friend, unfortunately we met because of our similar stories, will be going through her one year anniversary tomorrow (Sept. 15th.) of her husband arriving in heaven. Please pray for her and her adorable two boys as they face the day. Here's a link to her post from two days after the accident, you can see see her faith shine even in the midst of the tragedy. To read her current posts, just clink at the top of the page on "Tara-nator."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09-09-99

No, that's not a mistake in the title! That is the date of my baptism! My ten year anniversary is today, 09-09-09. Wow! Where does the time go? I have so much in my head I'd like to write, but Thomas has decided he likes the 3:00am-5:30am hours for playtime and so I'm exhausted. I just had to have a post with today's date to commemorate this amazing event in my life!
The pictures on this post are from the session that Raye Law gifted us last Monday on Thomas's two week birthday! Raye heard about our story from Becky and was so sweet to ask to photograph us! Here's a link to her site, Raye Law Photography where there are a few more pictures of our family. Thank you, Raye!I came to the University of Arkansas and joined the Razorbacks for Christ group on campus. That group, lead by Scott Karnes, read his blog as he and his family prepares to be missionaries in Ireland) changed my life as well as influenced many friends and family members of mine.
I started attending ladies' bible studies on campus and eventually felt brave enough to tell the girls that I was interested in being baptized, but nervous about telling people I hadn't been or having to do it in front of a big congregation. The girls immediately took action and told me that they were thrilled with my decision and that we didn't have to do it in front of a big group. (In my mind it had to be a Sunday morning thing in front of the whole church) They even said we could go right now! (Which happened to be a Thursday night at about 8:00pm! They asked if they could call a few other bible studies meeting around campus and invite them-I told them sure, but didn't really think anyone would be interested in coming, I was still pretty new to the RFCs. Well, I was wrong, when we got to the church there were probably about forty college kids there along with Scott all totally excited about my decision! We sang lots of songs and prayed and then Scott baptized me in front of that group. It brings tears to my eyes-ten years later(!)-when I think about the amazing feeling of being lifted out of that water to everyone's clapping and cheers. I cried a lot that evening, for the person I was and for the person I was ready to strive to be. I love that I learned you don't have to have everything "fixed" before you give yourself to Christ, you just have to be open to the idea of letting God work on you and do your best to love Him! He will use your faith even if it is the size of a mustard seed (as the bible says!) That is comforting, because somedays that is all I have to give and he gladly accepts that.I think back to ten years ago and all that has happen since then...I have had-and continue to have-a blessed life. God has provided me with a way to influence the future from teaching kindergarten through college aged students, I was married to an amazing man who loved us with a fierce devotion, I have two adorable children that I love so much it takes my breath away, literally countless family and friends that lift us up in prayer--as well as take care of us any way they can, and most importantly my relationship that has grown with God and having the fulfillment that only He can provide and, thank goodness, His promises of what can be ours after this unbelievably short time we have on Earth.
PS Thank you Nellie and Becky for taking me out to eat for my special day and for your phenomenal, faithful friendship!
Thank you to all of my readers for the uplifting comments on my blog, e-mail and facebook-they truly help me get through each day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pierce My Ear, O Lord

So a couple of days after Thomas came home from the hospital I was admiring him in his crib and it hit me that God gave me another "sign" of his love for my family. I have constantly prayed, even before their births, that my kids would have a heart for God. I want them to feel like I do about God and how I choose to belong to Him and live my life for Him. I know that growing up is hard and their beliefs can and will be challenged, but I have always believed that if they have a heart for God they will always belong to Him and want to be close to Him. At the hospital I was aware of Thomas' cute dimple on his right ear, but it wasn't until I was able to be in a quiet time with God and baby Thomas that it hit me... God had pierced Thomas! One of my favorite church songs is "Pierce My Ear" Here are the lyrics (and here is a home video of some sweet girls singing it a capella!):
Pierce my ear, O Lord, my God. Take me to Your door this day. I will serve no other god. Lord, I'm here to stay.
For You have paid the price for me.
With Your blood You ransomed me. I will serve You eternally. Your free one I long to be.

This song is in reference to Exodus 21:2-6 where it discusses a servant who fulfills his/her obligation to the master, but then chooses to stay with the master who then pierces the servant's ear as a sign of devotion.

This piercing of just his right ear (which doesn't go all the way through his earlobe, in case you were wondering, it is actually considered a "dimple") along with his special birth date, shared with his daddy, makes me have goosebumps because both of these are such special, unique occurrences that will be constant reminders of God's love for our little family.
Photographic evidence below :-)
Prayers:
*Thanks for the prayers and suggestions for nursing--they have helped!
*My energy is slowly returning!
*Caroline is loving her little brother, although she has been telling me that she misses me quite often, (like when she woke up this morning!) Pray that she won't feel like I'm not here when I am taking care of Thomas!
*Praise of thanks for mimi (my mom) and all of my family and friends who have stayed with me these last couple of weeks and helped give all three of us attention when we need it!!
*Also a praise that I was able to go back to teaching the early childhoo University of Arkansas class for a few hours two days a week. Thomas was proud of me for teaching it last year and it has already been a blessing to me these last two weeks. The students are fantastic and it has been good for me to share my love for learning and teaching (and being a part of the outside world again!!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our first five days!

Thomas Alexander home from the hospital wearing his daddy's tie for the special occasion.

What a whirlwind!! It seems like yesterday that Becky and I were pulling up to the hospital while it was still pitch black outside and getting settled for the big day! There is so much to tell, but as most of you know, my time and energy is limited right now. I'll do my best to fill in all the details as time allows.Right after deliver: Notice how Thomas loves his green frog that Caroline picked out for him!

Monday was so wonderful, fun and touched with bittersweetness. Becky and our amazing friend, Nellie, made t-shirts for some of the people who were in it for the long haul that day. Nellie spent the night and watched Caroline for me until we knew the time was getting close for Thomas to arrive.

We started pitocin at about 7:00am, I was already having contractions eight minutes apart, dilated to a three and 70% effaced (for those who want to know all the details!) which made me feel even more comfortable about inducing eleven days early. Epidural at about 8:30am. Dr Birch broke my water at 12:30pm and was fully dilated ready to push at 1:30pm!! Unfortunately, she was in surgery and they told me I had to wait--ha!! Contractions were really painful and I could move my feet so I knew the epidural, for some reason, had worn off quite a bit. Finally at about 1:50 or so she came in. I pushed through three contractions and he was born at 2:00pm!! (I told Caroline she was right about the two minutes, she just meant 2 o'clock instead! So now she tells everyone how she was right!)
He is perfect!! The same weight as Caroline when she was born (only she was 5 days overdue!) and an inch longer than her.It's amazing how in love I am with him!! He is so sweet and good. He is letting me sleep at about two hour increments, since feeding and changing takes us about an hour! So I get about a broken up four hour sleep time at night--that is WAY better than with Caroline who seemed to wake up every 30 minutes.

Caroline has been a doll. She loved the attention family and friends gave her in the hospital and at home. When we walked in the door Tuesday evening (We got home about 7pm the day after delivery) she saw me and hugged me so tight and said, "mommy, mommy, mommy" over and over at least 20 times-not exaggerating. If I wasn't so happy to be home, I would have cried.
She loves her brother and really wants to help. She shows him toys and pats his head every so gingerly. I love that little girl.Thomas and Caroline in his nursery

That's the super fast version of how our last 5 days has gone! I couldn't stand not posting a few pictures and letting you know how we are. All of you have sent such sweet prayers and thoughts our way. I had such a sense of peace all day Monday and any time I started to get nervous I could literally feel God telling me "it will all be okay" and he was right. I'm not prepared to write about all of the emotions right now, but in time I will. It's important for me to document it all, but I'm just too tired right now. I can say that it has been overwhelmingly more sweet than bittersweet, but deep down there is a profound sadness that Thomas and I aren't sharing this all together. I do feel that he is able to know how we are and in someway watch or see us. That is comforting.Praise: His first doctor's appt went great! Here he is ready to go!

Thank you all so much for your continued support! It helps me in so many ways.Cousin Jett meeting Thomas for the first time! They will be the best of friends!

Prayer Requests: Nursing to stop hurting during the latch on (makes my toes curl!, my energy back quickly so I can figure out how to give Caroline more time, and that I can make it through the hormonal baby blues that may make an appearance soon.

Please don't forget to tell God a huge THANK YOU for answering our prayers with an easy, safe delivery and a healthy, beautiful baby boy.