Thursday, May 31, 2012

Go Aunt Kit, Go Aunt Kit, Go!

My little sister, our very own Aunt Kit, is graduating from high school tomorrow.  I can't believe it.

Kit was "my" first baby.  Thirteen years younger than me, my summer job for the first three years of her life was to keep my baby sister (and no, this was not a paying job).  And while I am sure I rolled my eyes and stomped my feet about it, we actually had a great time.  I think I left Barney on the television until my parents were out of sight and then teeny Kit and I would prop our feet up with cherry popsicles and watch morning marathons of Blossom.  Probably not the best babysitting skills but well...she's graduating, isn't she?

I had my first taste of motherhood one morning when I was dancing around our dining room table with one-year-old Kit clinging onto my neck and giggling up a storm.  I remember my heart being so full of love and at the same time so afraid something would happen to her that I said a prayer right then and there for God to take care of that Baby Girl...and He has.

Now I get to watch that Baby Girl take care of my Baby Girl and it is so much fun.  Gracie loves her Aunt Kit and so do I. She is one of the few people that can make me laugh so hard that I cry but my little sister is no-nonsense.  Recently, when I was in a fit of post-partum melt-down about something or another (my body, hair, or something equally as trivial) she looked at me very seriously and said, "This is neither the time nor the place to hash those feelings out." Hahaha, she was right, and usually is.  The girl is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out and if you have ever seen her picture that is REALLY saying something.

We love you Kitty, and we are so so proud of you! Go Aunt Kit, Go Aunt Kit, Go!


The Baby Girl with the Baby Girl

I mean, did YOU look like that in high school?  I sure didn't!

The girls...minus Gracie (who was present in my belly at picture time)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Handle with Care

One thing that is very different about being a mom to Gracie than being a mom to Rip is that I am much more afraid of death.  With Rip, even though I would have given anything to change it, I knew it was no longer my job to take care of him.  Gracie's life is very dependent on mine.

I never really feared for my own life before, which is actually kind of selfish, but I've always been pretty confident in where I was going after I died and while I certainly don't want to rush things, the idea of somebody I loved dying was always so much scarier than my own mortality.

But now I have this little life that depends on me so much.  And of course she also has a Daddy that is every bit as important...but I'm the Mama.  I have the shoulder that is perfect for napping.  I have that famous intuition.  Whether I am right or not, nobody does it just like me.

So it's scary.  I feel like I should be walking around with  "Fragile- Handle with Care" stamped on my rear (actually, there is probably ample padding there, maybe on my ribs).

Being a mother makes me feel powerful and oh so vulnerable at the same time.  One minute I know exactly what to do and the next I am right back in the deep end of the water.  It's a job that I am honored and grateful and privileged to's a job to be handled with care.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From Me to You, Gracie Lou

Dear Gracie Lou,

You, at FIVE months today, are just so much fun. 

You are learning so much every day, and have quite the personality.  You are kind of sensitive (I have NO idea where you got that from), and it hurts your feelings if we laugh at you...but you are such a funny little thing.

You are so strong, today you sat up by yourself for a full minute and I swear if you held on to something you could stand by yourself too.

Your little arms and legs look like they have rubberbands on them, I love your rolls and could kiss them all day long.

At night we read The Foot Book and Hop on Pop, followed by The Going to Bed Book, and finish up with your personal favorite Goodnight Moon.  You have recently discovered how to turn the pages yourself and find it much more fun to slam the book shut if my fingers happen to be in the will do this repeatedly and grin and squeal.  This is probably the kind of behavior we should discourage but you are just so pleased with yourself that it is hard to do.

Another recent discovery is the LOVE the dog.  I wish I could say that the feeling is mutual, but to be honest I think you might scare poor old Dock a little.  Maybe it has something to do with the way you scream at the top of your lungs in his face before grabbing his ears and sucking on his head. 

My favorite part of every day is coming into your room in the morning.  Most days you don't even cry or make noise, you entertain yourself until I come to get you and then your eyes light up and you get the biggest grin on your face.  It's like every morning you remember you have a mama all over again and it is the greatest thing that has ever happened in your whole life.  It rocks.

Recently, you have started reaching out and putting your chubby little palm on my face and leaving it there for a while.  You will look at me very intently, like you own me.  You are so right about that Baby Girl, I am all yours.

Your Daddy and I could not love you more if we tried, everything you do makes us smile and you make us better people.  We pray every day that we have what it takes to be the parents you deserve, the very best.

So that's it for now, from me to you, Gracie Lou.

Your Mama

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Nature of Grace

This morning, right after I wrote my post about plans and control, I got a text from a friend about a family who had just lost their baby girl, named Grace, at three days old.

Because of what we have been through, I hear a lot of stories like this.  Of course they all affect me, but the ones that affect me the most are either stories about little boys like Rip...or little girls named Grace.  I think it's because parents who name their baby girls Grace are usually looking for just that.

Some of the definitions of grace are mercy, favor and goodwill...I know I wanted all of those things when we decided on Gracie's name.  I know I prayed so hard for all of those things for Rip and Gracie, I know what it is like to feel like I was denied and I know what it feels like to receive in abundance.

The first thing I did this morning when I heard the news about this baby Grace was to squeeze my Grace so hard that she looked at me like I was crazy (this is a look I expect to receive a lot over the next 18 + years).  The next thing I did was send a special prayer to my boy to look out for this newest angel who shares such a special name with his little sister.

There is a quote I love, "it is the nature of grace to fill the spaces that have been empty".

It literally makes me sick to think back to how empty I felt in those moments after Rip died.  I thought I would feel that way forever.

Losing a child is the most painful thing I can imagine, no parent would ever choose to be a parent in that way.  But as for feeling empty forever, feeling like your child is lost to you forever, I was wrong about that.

Rip changed me, he made me a mother.  Even though my arms cannot physically hold him, I still carry Rip with me everywhere I go.  He still fills those empty spaces when I need him the most.

If there is one thing that I could tell those grieving parents today, it is that Baby Grace, her life, will be there to fill the empty spaces when they need her the most.  It's in her nature.

I Don't See What Is So Funny

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I'll admit it, I still have some major trust issues.  I still have some major control issues (and whoever thought up the word control must have had a great sense of humor).  I am no good at "trusting in the Lord".

All I want, everyday, is what is best for Gracie.  So I plot and plan and try to figure out what that I work full time and make sure she can have ballet shoes?  Or do I cut back on my hours and risk her living in a paper box (a little dramatic, I know)?  What is best for our family?  I pray about it, but I still never seem to find an answer that is the "right" one.

You know that old saying, "God laughs at those who makes plans"...well, I certainly don't see what is so funny.  

So I try to remember that God is a planner too, and he know the plans that he has for me, and maybe more importantly, Gracie.  They are plans to proper, not to harm, plans for a hope and a future.  Is that always easy for me to trust and believe? No.  But, as always, I have to make a choice...and I choose to believe.

Monday, May 14, 2012

You know you might be an overprotective mother when...

You notice that Sophie-the-Giraffe's cheeks are looking especially flushed and wonder, just for a second, whether he/she might be getting a fever.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

In My Mother's Arms

Tomorrow is Gracie's Baptism.  I remember last year, sitting in church when she was just the size of a pea in my belly and thinking...if I can just be holding this baby in my arms this time next year, I will have her baptized on Mother's Day...and here we are.

Today Gracie, my mother, and me were running around doing some last minute preparations for the big day.  My mom and I were (like mother like daughter) eating candy bars and laughing about something I don't remember now.  Gracie was happy babbling to herself in the back seat. 

The next thing I knew, someone had slammed into the back of us.  Hard.  It took me probably five seconds to realize what had happened.  I heard my baby screaming.  Those next seconds, those seconds where I was turning around, not sure what I would see...I think those may have been the scariest of my life.

What I saw was my baby in my mother's arms.  She had someone wiggled out of her seatbelt (without unbuckling it) and gotten my baby in her arms before I'd even had the sense of mind to turn around.  She just kept saying, "She's okay, she's okay, she's okay"...I don't know that she really knew that yet, and maybe she was trying to convince herself, but I believed her. 

Gracie was okay, better than okay...the hospital declared her "perfect" (but we could have told them that). 

I know what it is like to be a mother without a baby on Mother's Day and I know many people go through this holiday missing their Mamas.  I want to take this moment to say that I know how lucky I am.  I could not be more thankful for my child and my mother than I am at this moment.

I've always thought of a baptism as sort of giving a baby into God's arms.  I know that we say God the Father, but I think the image I will have in my head tomorrow as the water touches my baby's head will be that child in my mother's arms.

Monday, May 7, 2012

PB lives up to her name

As I may have mentioned, my family sometimes refers to Gracie as "PB"...Perfect Baby.  I realize this is something we will probably want to cut out before she gets old enough to understand and starts to get a big head, but for now it's pretty handy to just be able to say "I'm going pick up PB, be home in a few!"

Last week, old PB had her four month well baby check.  For some reason, the less clothes she has on the more pleased she gets with herself (another trend we hope to cut out as she gets older).  Anyway, girl was down to her diaper and she was feeling GOOD.  Our doctor, who I just love, stood the baby up on the table and she went to town.

The pot belly stuck out as far as she could get it, the chubby little legs started just a stompin', the tongue came out, followed my some impressive raspberries and then just in case we weren't paying attention, some ear piercing squeals of delight.  The show was concluded with a big, fat drool-filled grin.

Our fabulous doctor, who obviously knows exactly what every mama needs to hear, turned to me and said, " I see babies every day, and it just doesn't get any better that this."

Yep..that's why we call her PB.

Editor's note: Parke does in fact have clothes on here, there's just a perfect baby in the way

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hope blossoms eternal

When we were young, my best friend and I made Disney World out of the big magnolia tree that grew beside my house.  Entreprenuerial little things, I think we even charged our younger brothers a dollar to come sit on various branches we named after the slightly superior destination in Orlando while we shook them around from below.  Our Space Mountain may not have had the technology, but its hard to beat the sweet smell of magnolia blossoms.
Lately, I've been feeling like, to use a horrible expression probably only found in the south, like a chicken with my head cut off.  We get up, get dressed, get Gracie up and dressed, we all go to work and daycare, we get home, eat, get undressed, and go to bed.  Sometimes I feel like I am missing my baby grow, just not taking the time enjoy each day, to enjoy my family the way I should.
Parke left very early this morning to go off-shore fishing, so Gracie and I had the whole day to ourselves.  We love our Daddy, but a good girls day is hard to beat.  We took our time getting out of our pj's, had fun with some never played with toys, read a few books and headed out for a walk.  We weren't far when the sweet smell of magnolia blossoms hit my nose.  I promptly picked one off and stuck it in a vase by our kitchen sink.
You see, this week that same best friend who spent those long days constructing magnolia tree theme parks with me got some scary, life changing news.  I know there have been so many times over this past year that I have wanted to go back to my childhood, those carefree days that I was so lucky to have...I know that she probably feels the same way. 
And while I know all too well there is nothing I can say to fix what she is going through, if there is one thing I wish I could tell her it is that hope will always not only spring but blossom eternal...that you can find something as small as a magnolia flower to put by your kitchen sink and bring back happy memories and give you hope, even for a minute, and it will give you strength to keep on going.
Whether its just day to day life that gets too hard or something much bigger, much scarier, you have to find your hope.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Something Special

Sometimes I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about how I feel about Rip, and not as much as I should talking about Gracie

There is a special feeling I get about our girl, she has been something special from the moment I found out she existed.

The feeling I associated with Gracie is pure joy.  There were times when I was pregnant with her when I would wake up in the mornings and squirm around like a puppy because I was so excited this little girl was going to be all mine.

It's even worse now that she is here.  There are days when I literally kiss her hundreds of times.  I think about her while I am at work and I get butterflies that are better that any first date butterflies I ever had (sorry, Parke). Her smile puts the Mona Lisa to shame.

I know, all of this is so over the top and cliche, but, at least in my eyes, it's all true.

That baby girl is something special and the way I feel about her is something special, too.