Wednesday, January 30, 2013

6 months

Dear Caleb,

You are a half a year old. How did that happen? I swear it was just yesterday I was anxiously waiting for your arrival. And yet, I don't quite remember life before you came along. I think you've always been a part of my heart, it just took 29 years before we met. This month you officially became a baby and left the newborn stage behind. You are so happy and have started interacting so much more with us! I love watching you grow every day!
6 months of growing! Look at how big you are!
At your 6 month check up you met your new pediatrician. We both love her and I'm very happy we switched to Dr. Thomason. You weighed in at 19lbs, 10oz. Techincally, you've lost weight recently. But you've suddenly become more mobile and are quite the little inch worm. Even with the weight loss you're still in the 80th percentile. What baffles me more than anything else is that you measured a staggering 28 inches long. That puts you in the 98th percentile! Where'd you get those height genes baby boy? No one in your family is tall - especially not 98% tall! We all top out at the short end of average and you're turning into one tall little man. Will you play tennis like your daddy wants or do I see a basketball in your future? (Just as long as you don't play football or wrestle. This momma's heart just might not be able to take it!)

This month we celebrated your first Christmas. It was such a wonderful, blessed time to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I can't wait to teach you more about the small Baby who came so you could truly live. You enjoyed the new toys and loved getting to see lots of family members. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Waco with Gaga, PaPaw, and Aunt Megan. Luckily, Santa still found you and brought you some amazing, fun toys. After Christmas we went to visit Granny and Granddaddy. By the end of it all, you had figured out how to pull the paper off the presents and get it straight into your mouth. Amazingly, everyone around us got sick over Christmas and we managed to stay well! (Except for a nasty rash that we finally decided was allergy related.)

You love toys and love to talk to toys and love to play with toys and love to put toys in your mouth. However, your absolute favorite toy is my water bottle. If you catch a glimpse of it, you come unglued and get so excited you can hardly stand it. The bottom of all my water bottles have been crushed by your super bite! I am surprised you haven't poked a hole in them with those razor sharp teeth.

You are sitting up much better now and are even starting to fall over on purpose. When you're done, you're done. At the end of the month you started learning to hold your arms out when you wanted to be picked up. Right now, your arms just stick straight out to the sides, but I know you'll eventually stretch out towards us. In the meantime, I love watching you start to communicate...

Your giggle is, by far, the best sound on the planet. It absolutely makes my day to hear you laugh. Thankfully, those laughs are coming more and more often. You are super ticklish and love when we blow bubbles on your tummy or your arms or your legs or your... Well, it doesn't take much. You just love to laugh - a lot like your parents.

I was sure that you weren't going to make it to the 6 month mark before you started crawling. However, last week you got your first cold and it knocked you for a loop. You still have a drippy nose and cough but seem to be feeling so much better! While you were sick you didn't want to spend time on the floor learning to crawl so you lost a lot of practice time. You are amazingly close to crawling, however! You push up on all 4s and rock back and forth. A few times you've lifted one knee or the other but you haven't figured out that's where the magic is. It won't be long before you're cruising around the house. I confess, there are days I am very tempted to knock you over so you don't get too mobile too soon. Our life will never be the same once you're a man on the move. I have a feeling you will be going 90 to nothing in no time flat and you won't stop for a moment. Don't be in a rush to get there, ok?

"These fools put my cape on backwards!"
This month you started eating solid foods. I was determined not to give you anything but breast milk until you were 6 months old. But after a week of constant feeding and no sleep I finally decided you couldn't wait any longer. So far all you've had is rice cereal and bananas. You tolerated the cereal and seemed very confused with why in the world we were making you put this mess in your mouth. And then we mixed it with bananas. Holy cow! You shook all over with excitement and practically climbed out of your high chair to get more out of the bowl. You're a great eater now that we've added the bananas!

I love you a little more every day - which I never dreamed would be possible! You are my precious little Pumpking Doodle and I'm so proud to be your mommy! Every time we go somewhere people comment on just how cute and happy you are. You make others smile just by being you. I'm so blessed to call you mine! I love you sweet little man! Please stop growing so I can enjoy this time with you, OK?


Saturday, January 12, 2013

5 months

Dear Caleb,

How can it possibly be that you've already hit the 5 month mark? (How is it possible that you're so rapidly approaching the half a year point?) This last month was full of excitement! Since your 4 month birthday on Thanksgiving, we've been anxiously anticipating your first Christmas. You loved looking at the lights on the Christmas tree, and we love reading Christmas stories with you. What a precious time of anticipation it has been! The entire holiday has taken on an entirely new meaning for our little family since you've joined us. The King of Kings left a glory I can't fathom and became a small baby just like you. He lived a perfect, sinless life and died so you could spend eternity with Him. Wow! The reality and weight of what He did for you and me has washed over my heart anew this holiday season and I'm so thankful it has.

As a part of our celebrating this precious season, you got to meet Santa's Helpers. We went to see one at the Forney Hometown Christmas but I wasn't pleased with that experience, so one Saturday your daddy and I spent an entire day trying to get a picture with the Bass Pro Shop Santa. It was an exhausting day, but so worth it! You're such a cute baby and everyone oohed and aahed over your sweet smile. Unfortunately, about 3 minutes before you met Santa you decided you were done with the whole experience and started fussing and crying. So our professional pictures are a little less than ideal... Oh well! We'll try again next year! We'll get a smile eventually. :)

You are learning so many things so fast it's hard to believe the things that have changed in the past month. You moved from sleeping in the cradle in our room to the crib at nights. You were already sleeping in your crib for naps so you were used to it, but it was a big change for me! I cried the first night you weren't in our room. You, however, slept like a champ all night long.

"Woah! Darth Vader just walked up behind you!"
For the first 4 months of your life we always rocked you to sleep. Sometimes it took a while, but we both loved every moment of snuggling you! However, as soon as you turned 4 months old you suddenly started fighting naps with everything in you. It was so frustrating! One day, when I'd spend what felt like days trying to get you to sleep, I put you in your crib and let you cry. (I sat in the living room and cried right along with you.) Much to my surprise, you eventually fell asleep. From then on, I put you down without rocking you to sleep. You now go down without a fight. It's wonderful!

Mommy's laundry helper
In the midst of learning to put yourself to sleep you completely rejected the paci. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!!!!! You now suck your thumb to put yourself to sleep and it's the best thing ever. Thank you for giving it up. Thank you for finding your thumb. Most often, you like to suck both thumbs at once. You've even learned to fold your little hands together like you're praying. It's the sweetest thing! I love it!

Since you're now spending more awake time on your belly, you're rolling over more often - but only in your crib. I've seen you roll from belly to back and from back to belly several times while trying to get to sleep, but when you are on the floor you don't want to roll over. Silly boy! Are you trying to keep it a secret?

You love playing and are interacting with toys more. It's fun to watch you explore the world around you. The biggest development is that you're now a sitting man! You're still quite wobbly and you fall over a lot, but you can sit up! We worked on trying to sit for a few days but you couldn't do it for more than a few seconds. Then one day, your daddy set you on the ground and you sat up! I'm so excited that you mastered this in time for Christmas! It'll make opening Christmas presents and getting pictures in front of the tree so much more fun. :)

One of the biggest developments of this month was the appearance of not one, but two teeth! It was a whirlwind of cries and fussing and trying to figure out what was going on until Daddy stuck his finger in your mouth and discovered that sweet little tooth! Wow!

I love getting to spend all day with you and I'm beyond blessed to be a stay at home mom. However, there is a very special relationship I see blooming between you and your daddy. You light up for him in a very special way! You are so excited every time he looks your way. I think 5:00 just might be your very favorite time of day. 

You are still the happiest, most easy going baby I know. I'm so proud to be your Mommy. I must be the luckiest person on the planet! I love you my sweet pumpkin doodle! Don't grow up too fast, ok?


Friday, January 4, 2013

Learning to say goodbye

This week has been a rough one. I've had to do something I never dreamed I'd do - not in a million years. My dear, sweet, friend Brandi met Jesus on Monday morning and I've spent the week learning how to say good bye. It has not been an easy lesson to learn. Let me back up and tell a little about this sweet woman who is dancing and singing on the streets of gold right now...

In August of 2006 I moved to Waco to take my first teaching job. I searched and searched for a church to call home and came up empty. I couldn't find one that fit me for anything! Finally, in February, a friend I worked with told me about her small church. It turned out I'd known the pastor since I'd been a small girl and within minutes of my first visit, I knew I'd come home. It wasn't long before I was plugged into a LIFE group and in less than a year I became the children's director. I loved the teaching and the children at Grace, but what made the church special was that LIFE group. Something magical happened in that small group of people. We went from a group of 20 somethings to a group of families to best friends. I've tried a million times to figure out what happened in that group of people to bond us so fiercely to one another, but I simply can't pin it down. Maybe it was the phase of life we were in. Maybe it was the fact that we were there for each other when each couple became parents (although I didn't become a mom until 3 years after I moved away from that group). Maybe it was the Truth Project where we re-shaped our entire thinking. Maybe it was the fact that we ate meals together often. Maybe it was the late night debates about free will and pre-destination. I don't know what happened in that time but over the course of the 3 years I lived in Waco God did mighty things in the hearts of each person involved. I grew to love that group of friends more dearly than I can express. In fact, I loved them so much that when DJ and I decided it was finally time to meet face-to-face our first date was at that LIFE group. I'm sure he was terrified, but it took him about 3 seconds to see why I loved them all so much. Thankfully, it took that group of friends about 3 seconds to see that DJ and I were head over heels in love and they immediately began planning our wedding for us.
Throughout the 3 years we grew to love each other, different people had moments when they were closer to one person over the others. However, through it all people kept telling me I needed to get closer to Brandi. I silently scoffed at the idea. She was quiet, introverted, and getting her doctorate in statistics. We had absolutely nothing in common! God had different ideas. We slowly got to know each other. When she gave birth to her first child I held her hand through contractions while her husband went to get a bite to eat. I sat in the waiting room for hours while she labored and pushed and brought that beautiful little girl into the world. About a month later, DJ asked me to marry him and I was thrilled to say yes. Little did we know, those 2 events would knit our hearts together forever. 6 months later I was heart broken to move away from that precious group of friends - but I was deeply grateful for the blessing of modern technology that could keep us in touch. I started e-mailing Brandi and we quickly discovered we had only scratched the surface of our connection to each other. That first year I was married I don't know how I would have survived without the loving and wise words Brandi wrote me every day. The last year in Waco had left me broken and hurting in a way I can't begin to describe. I was convinced I would never teach again and had lost my entire identity. Brandi's words of wisdom lovingly pointed me back to the true source of identity - my Lord and King. We shared stories of marriage and taught each other how to love our husbands more. I rejoiced with her when I randomly guessed one day that she was expecting her second baby. I prayed with her for the little boy growing in her womb. We wept and prayed together when I lost my own baby and pleaded with the Lord for a baby to be added to my family.

Then, on May 24, 2011 tragedy struck. Brandi got up to make a bottle for her sweet baby boy and discovered she was having trouble walking. Her husband took her to the ER, worried she had had a stroke. In the hours that followed, the doctors discovered that a brain tumor was causing swelling and reducing mobility on one side of her body. She immediately had a biopsy so they knew what kind of cancer they were dealing with. That night, members of that precious LIFE group (as well as everyone else who knew and loved Brandi) gathered together and pleaded with the Lord for healing and answers. Our hearts hurt in a way that we couldn't express. I felt my heart crushed under the weight of the events of the day. I remember that night I woke myself up crying several times. I didn't wake up, think of Brandi, and begin to cry. I woke up with tears already streaming down my face. There were no words for the sorrow consuming my heart.

Over the next 18 months, Brandi and her husband threw everything they had at the stupid tumor in her brain. God gave her more time than any doctor ever predicted she'd have. She got to experience precious birthdays and holidays as she fought the aggressive tumor growth. She learned countless lessons about God and grew in ways that constantly amazed me. Through it all, she carried herself with more grace and poise than I have ever seen in a person. Yes, she had moments when she cried and wept at the feet of the Throne. Yes, she had moments of anger that this was going on. But she never once wavered from the confidence that God was bigger and that she'd be healed. I learned so many lessons watching her fight. My faith felt so small and weak in light of her battle.

Eventually, the tumor stopped responding to radiation and chemo. It began growing unrestricted. She quickly lost the strength in one side and was confined to a wheel chair. But in it all, she praised the Lord. In it all, she knew God would bring healing. And on December 31st, God did. He healed her completely and perfectly. He called her home and I have no doubt He said, "Well done, my good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Maker!" I wish I could have just a glimpse of the party that followed. Brandi is now on the front row of heaven worshipping her King for all of eternity. I can hardly wrap my brain around it.

However, that leaves me here on earth with my heart physically aching from the loss. I miss my friend more than I can say. I miss the e-mails we once shared. I miss getting to tell her stories about Caleb and hear how her sweet babies are growing and changing. I miss having lunch with her every time we visited Waco. I miss having a friend I knew I could share with and have no shame or judgement. I miss having a friend who shared my views on parenting and technology. I miss having a companion who would e-mail me at any time of day or night. This week I'm learning how to say good-bye to her, even though it's a lesson I've been learning for 18 months. I thank the Lord for the wisdom of those who have grieved a great loss and have taught us the stages of grief. I'm so grateful to know that it's absolutely ok to be good and angry about the situation and that it's ok to be in shock. I'm thankful to know that the anger won't last. The shock will fade. But more importantly, the cloud of grief will lift because my God is bigger. He has a plan that I don't understand but trust whole heartedly. I know He's working and He'll heal my hurting heart. But I'm so thankful that for now, it's ok to cry my eyes out as I learn to leave my friend in my memories. It's a lesson I never wanted to learn, but God needed me to learn. In it all, may He be glorified by my pain. May He be glorified by the hurt that threatens to swallow my heart. And may He be glorfied by the story of Brandi who fought cancer and won when God called her home.