Sunday, November 16, 2014

Remembering Rip

Rip passed away four years ago this Tuesday- on November 18th, 2010.

I never know what to do with this day. His birthday is always harder on me, emotionally, but at least there is a purpose to a birthday. Even if the person is no longer living, you can still celebrate the day they were born. This year, Gracie and I made "birthday cakes" in her bathtub and sang "Happy Birthday" up to was her idea and I think it was pretty perfect.

But what do you do with the day someone, especially a child, dies? I've beat myself up in the past for not being the type of person who organizes a race in his name, or starts a fundraiser in his memory. A thought occurred to me this year that maybe it didn't have to be that hard.

I've said often that despite the circumstances, Rip is and always will be A Good Thing in our lives. So this year, on Tuesday, November 18th, I'd ask that you do something good for a child in his name.

It can be anything. If you want to make a monetary donation, I'd highly suggest donating to your local NICU or PICU...the people who work in those units, particularly the nurses, are truly angels on earth. They are saving the smallest, most precious lives. Of course, there are a million other worthy children's charities, especially this time of year, all of which are doing great things for those who can't.

But I know how busy we all are...and its the holidays so most of us are pretty broke, too. The good things I am asking for can be as simple as letting your child stay up that thirty extra minutes to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and taking the time to smell their sweet heads while they do it. Its doing something small and good that will bring joy to these amazing little creatures who have been entrusted to our care.

November 18th will never be a good day in our family's history, but it can certainly be a day in which good things happen. If even one child is given an extra smile that day in Rips' name, then his life is still a very Good Thing.

Thank you so much.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Thing About Birthdays

My first baby turns 4 tomorrow.

When you are home with a newborn, you can lose track of time. My mind still thinks it should be August, these past three months have been such a blur. I am not exaggerating or sugar-coating when I say they have been some of the happiest of my life.

Rip's birthday snuck up on me this year. I've been thinking about him so much since Sam was born, wondering more about what he would have been like than I did with Gracie. There is just something about a mama's love for her little boy.

But I haven't had that anxiety I usually have leading up to his birthday. That, in itself, is a little sad because I know all too well that if I had an almost four-year-old boy sitting here today I would be reminded constantly of the date. I know this because his almost three-year-old sister has been talking about her princess birthday party since before Halloween. Her birthday is three days before Christmas. So I wonder what party we would be planning for tomorrow.

We had pictures taken of our family right after Sam was born. Our photographer (my very talented cousin-in-law) contacted me as soon as she began working on them and said that the picture below almost brought her to tears when she saw it, that there was something there that was not seen to the naked eye when she took the picture.

Do I believe that light shining down on our family is the closest thing to a complete family picture we will ever get? I do. If I was unsure before, I believed after I ordered prints of this photo and the front of the package said they could be picked up at 11:11. Sometimes you just know.

The thing about birthdays is that no matter how short the life, each and every one changes the world in some way. On November 11th, 2010 at approximately 7:53 am, the world was changed forever. A little boy named John Robert Harris, Rip, was born to Parke and Anne Harris. He made them parents and a family. His birth made it possible for them to have two additional children- Grace Louise, the heart, and Samuel Haskell, the soul. So every year on that day his mother closes her eyes and gives thanks, because she is leading a blessed life. A life which in no small part she has been given because of the birthday of her oldest son. 

Thank you, Rip Harris, for changing my world. I love you more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Day in the Life

Below is a day in my life, also known as today:

6 am- All awake except Sam (who woke up for an hour-long meal about 4am)
6:10- I am dressed for the day
6:20- Gracie is fully dressed and eating oatmeal
6:22- Gracie drops oatmeal on her clothes
6:25-Gracie requests a bandaid for a non-existent boo-boo
6:30-Sam is awake
6:35- Feed Sam while Gracie jumps on the bed and asks repeatedly to hold the baby
7:00- Parke has scheduled an early meeting and leaves...I declare an end to all future early meetings
7:00-8:25- I finish feeding baby, change baby, dress baby, change and dress baby again while Gracie:
Finds her way into the baby's crib and nearly busts her chin open
Takes off her boots approximately 15 times
Runs around the whole house with the handmade bedding from the bassinet, dragging it through dog hair and spilled oatmeal
Decides she needs to put her baby doll to bed and refuses to go to school until the baby has been changed and sung to
Insists on putting on her boots by herself
8:25- All in the car- I realize I need gas
Gracie realizes she never got a band-aid and bellows about it until I put on the Frozen CD
8:25-8:35- Sing Let It Go 5 times

I work from 9-3, which is a great schedule for a working mom. This only being the 2nd day I have been away from Sam this long, I am so excited to pick the kids up.

3:10- Pick up baby, smother him with kisses
3:12: Pick up Gracie, smother her with kisses
3:13- Gracie decides she need to go potty before leaving school
3:17- Gracie is still on the potty with no action
3:20- Sam is crying. I tell Gracie (still on potty) that we will try again at home
3:25- I find a teacher to bring Sam to the car while I haul a screaming toddler (" I WANT TO POTTY AT SCHOOOOOOL!!") to the car
3:25-3:35-Gracie cries hysterically. I listen to Let It Go and eat a miniature Kit Kat I've had the good fortune to find between the seats
3:35- Home. Gracie calms down and requests Doc McStuffins...I feed Sam and we have 20 minutes of relative peace
3:55- Gracie requests a second snack. After being told no, another tantrum begins
TV is turned off as punishment, and will only be turned back on for good behavior
TV stays off for the remainder of the afternoon
4:00- I decide we need some fresh air and take both kids on a run. This is nice.
4:30- Gracie pinches her finger in her sunglasses. Tears ensue.
5:00- Bath time. Sam gives me some reassuring smiles that I am not totally blowing this whole mom thing.
5:30- Parke is home!!
6:00- I eat dinner while holding a nursing Sam. I drop tacos on his head.
6:45- Sam goes to bed. I come back to find Gracie has taken out every toy she has ever owned.
7:00- I pour a glass of wine and retreat to the shower. I also bring along a Tootsie Roll pop I will have to eat in the shower in order to avoid being caught by a toddler who DOES NOT need the sugar.
7:05- I hear rapid fire feet heading my way. The shower curtain is whipped back..."MAMA- I SEE YOUR BIG OL STOMACH!!"
Also, I have been caught eating a lollipop and am questioned extensively about its origins.
7:07- I think I am alone in the shower, having convinced Gracie to "go play with Daddy"
7:08- I hear what sounds like the sink running
7:09- I poke my head out to find Gracie has "washed" my wine glass with lavender lotion
7:10- Gracie says that maybe tomorrow night we can take a bath together, and we can play with toys.
I say I think that is a great idea.
8:00- All babies are asleep. Gracie tells me she loves me. Sam nestles under my neck in a way that makes me think maybe he does, too

I will admit, sometimes I forget to be thankful every day. Days like this (i.e. pretty much every day) where I am tired and everything seems to be happening all at once, I am short-tempered and go to bed questioning every move I make.

But today I take the time to be thankful that this is a day in my life. A day that ended with helpless laughter when I found my hard-earned wine glass covered in purple handprints. Four years ago, I would have given anything for this life- and now I have it.

You can remind me I said that tomorrow morning on my third rendition of Let It Go.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Simply the best

I have so many thoughts every day that I think I should write down...and then one of fifty things happens and I just don't get around to doing it. I recently downloaded the "Timehop" application on my phone and a blog post from two years ago popped up the other day. It was all about the first little joke Gracie played and I was so tickled remembering her at that age. This is especially important because these days she is more often found wailing on the floor than playing adorable jokes (she is still adorable, just in a very 21/2 year old way).

I want to be able to look back on Sam's childhood that way too, because one day he will also be a terrible two, or sickening sixteen, or something and I will need to remember the sweet happy innocence of babyhood.

I referred to him as "sweet Sam" before he was born, and I was afraid I was setting myself up for an absolute devil child by doing so...but this is the sweetest baby in the world. The only time he cries is when he is hungry or tired (we are alike in this way), and he is the world's best cuddle bug. His smile literally brings tears to my eyes, he is just the happiest little guy.

With Gracie, I was in such a hurry to get to the next step, be it sleeping through the night or smiling or rolling over, but with Sam (and I am sure most younger siblings receive this benefit) I am in absolutely no hurry. Want to get up all night to eat and snuggle? Sure, climb on in. I know how fast this will go and I want to enjoy that baby smell for as long as I possibly can.

Sam's hair continues to bring about conversation wherever we is truly a remarkable 'do. Its funny, because although Sam is much older than Rip was when we last saw him, both Parke and I think Sam looks a little more like his big brother the older he gets. The same is true for Gracie and Sam, their eyes look almost exactly alike. It brings me so much joy to see them in one another




In fact, this littlest boy of mine brings me so much joy, period. My love for him is so simple, so easy. I cannot imagine what we ever did without him and I am thankful every day for my sweet Sam. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


The sweetest baby in the world, Samuel Haskell Harris, was born at 8:58 am on August 5th. Why am I just writing about this miraculous little person four full weeks after he was born, you ask? Well, because I have been spending every waking minute soaking up his limited-time-only delicious baby-ness.

There is so much I want to write about...the actual delivery, the toddler meltdowns when a two-year- old's whole world is turned upside down, the joy of watching the rare quiet moments between my babies, how I forgot all about the "joys" of being postpartum, why nursing is truly a labor of love...I could go on and on.

However, realizing my newborn is closing in on one full month, I want to make sure I write about him, and only him, and the things I don't want to forget.

I want to remember his cry when they finally held him up over that curtain, and how he had more wrinkles than a Shar Pei puppy

I want to remember the elation and relief I felt during our hospital stay together, how I knew this boy was mine to keep

I want to remember how much HAIR this baby has, and how everyone who has seen him from the very first doctor to strangers on the street comments on his 'do

I want to remember his sweet personality, how all he wants is to be cuddled and held, and how it feels to kiss both of his soft little cheeks each time he is in my arms

I want to remember what it was like to fall asleep with him on my chest, and how that fuzzy little head nestles perfectly under my chin

I want to remember watching his Daddy kiss him all over when he did not know I was watching

I want to remember how his sister insists on giving him full body hugs before going anywhere, and letting her despite being slightly worried she will crush him with her love

I want to remember how uncomplicated my love for him is, how he felt like a puzzle piece locking into place from the very beginning

I want to remember every little newborn detail, but I know I can't. I know that time flies and today my tiny baby is almost one month old and in no time at all I will have a toddler and then a full-grown boy. And, yes, that is a little sad....but I want to remember how lucky I am to have the privilege of watching him grow.

Friday, July 18, 2014

To My Sweet Sam

Dear Sam,

Today I really saw your face for the first time, and it brought tears to my eyes. You look exactly like your older brother and sister. Your cheeks are so chunky and your lips so kissable that I've looked at your picture at least 20 times since I left the doctor's office a few hours ago.

I was alone for my appointment this morning and I thought about a lot of things on my way. This was my first visit back to the hospital where you will be born in over 2.5 years. It is a place where I have experienced the very worst and the very best moments of my life. Having you seems like the best ending I could think of to a long and winding road. As we passed by the main building, I said a prayer for every mama, daddy and baby who sat inside, especially those who are sick and afraid.

You father and I know what it is to feel sick with fear, but we also know what it is to be filled with great joy. You, Sam, are a great joy. You have given me such a gift with this pregnancy. I felt bad for a while, thinking I wasn't concentrating on you as much as I did when I was pregnant with your brother and sister, but I've realized that is actually the beauty of it. I have so enjoyed being pregnant with you, sweet boy. The only thoughts I've had have been happy ones in between the chaos of life, we have had so much fun together already. We vacationed with some of my oldest and best friends and watched your uncle get married, we've spent countless hours at the beach and chasing after your sister. Being pregnant with you has allowed me to be more ME than I've been able to be before.

Because you are the third born, have a bossy older sister, are a boy...all of these are reasons I may not remember to tell you how much you were wanted. Over a year ago, I prayed hard for a little boy. One morning I opened up my Bible and read a verse that said "you will have a son"....I felt something settle in my heart at that moment. I knew that one day you would come.

Months later, when I had given up all hope of your arrival that month, a rainbow appeared and once again something settled in my heart. You were coming.

And now we have a date. On August 5th you will be here, and I will hold the final piece of my heart that I will put out into this world in my arms. You were a son of God even before you were given to me, sweet Sam.

All of my love,
Your Mama

Monday, July 7, 2014

35 Weeks

35 weeks is a big one for me. I gave birth to Rip at 34 weeks and 5 days, so with Gracie and now with Sam hitting this milestone feels like an accomplishment to be recognized.

This pregnancy in general has been so different for me. Everything thus far has gone according to plan, I feel good and there is no reason to think my delivery will be anything other than standard (well, as standard as a third c-section can be). I keep wondering what would be different if this was my first pregnancy, if I didn't know having a child could be any other way. A lot of things probably...I would be a different kind of mother, wife, good ways and in bad.

I have prayed a lot about finding peace in accepting that this will be my last pregnancy- my body (not to mention  my husband) is telling me three babies in 3.5 years is enough. I prayed to find peace with feeling finished with this stage in my life. Its a hard thing for anyone, and I think I could probably keep going trying to "complete" our little family, but deep down I know we are complete and this is what is best for all of us. Two boys and a girl is more than many, and I am very thankful.

I am also extremely grateful to have experienced pregnancy this way- I think having my first "normal" pregnancy makes it much easier to call this the last. I would be lying if I said writing this was not hard, that in my head I am not thinking what if something happens between now and delivery, or something is discovered when he is born, but I don't feel that it will. This pregnancy has carried with it a sense of well-being that I've never experienced before.

I don't have any new stats on Baby Sam, my next ultrasound is July 18th and we will schedule the section date that day...I really can't believe I am having a baby in less than a month! At my regular appointments I have been measuring perfectly and Sam's movements in my belly are consistent and reassuring (albeit a little more so a night, which makes me think my days of any kind of sleep are very, very numbered).

By this point with both Rip and Gracie I had reached puffer-fish proportions on all parts of my body but, miraculously, that has not happened yet with Sam. My belly is MUCH bigger than ever before, but everything else seems to be only slightly lumpish. My wedding rings are still on, which is nothing short of amazing based on my previous "man-hand" pregnancy experiences.

This is an especially good thing this time around, as I will be traveling 6 hours to my brother's wedding this weekend. At 36 weeks pregnant. And, God Bless 'Em, my brother and his sweet, adorable fiancé have asked both Gracie and I to be in the wedding. So we can all just say a prayer that I can waddle myself and my meltdown prone two-year-old down the aisle. Preferably without going into labor.

But here's the thing- the fact that I can actually go to Knoxville, be in a wedding, and look forward to a fun time with family at 36 weeks pregnant absolutely astonishes me. Like I said, I am extremely thankful and more than a little amazed by this "normal" pregnancy. Not quite as thankful that I will be the one with the spreading nose in all of the wedding pictures, but its all about perspective, isn't it?

More and more excitement is building to get this baby in my hands. I can't wait to see if he looks like his brother and sister, if he is calm or feisty (please Lord, I love my feisty girl but calm sounds so nice), how much he will weigh, what his birth story will I've said, the name Samuel means "asked of God". Once again, it is truly for this child I've prayed, and I just can't wait (well, I can wait at least another three weeks) to meet him.