Monday, March 30, 2009


Blog blocked. How did this happen? I usually have so much to say, so much in my head, so much it just overflows onto the page. My blog is full of thoughts that have overflowed. Puddles, really. Puddles of truth. Puddles of celebration. Puddles, puddles everywhere.

The past few weeks have been a little, well, puddle-less. I think I’m editing my thoughts. Self-selecting and deciding against sharing all that’s swirling. Maybe things turned too serious in March. Yes, much too serious. Life is truly a rollercoaster and some stretches of track are for shouting, others for holding your breath.

Spring feels like the perfect time to start shouting again. Only this spring is stumbling a bit in its arrival too. One day sunshine, the next a blizzard. Untrustworthy. Unpredictable.

More than any other time in my life I’d like to stop the changing seasons, the passing of time. Today is good. I’m head over heels for my McKay and his seven-month old babbles, smiles and unrestrained want of his mother. I’m his favorite and I not-so-secretly glory in it.

My other boys can taste spring and seeing them navigate their scooters to the park on a Saturday afternoon brings a broad smile to my face for the simple joys that are theirs to revel in at this time of their lives. They have each other and I love watching their friendship deepen.

This is a season for celebrating my boys. They are joy. They are wonder. They are the sunshine in this beautiful season of my life. No matter what happens next, I have done something wonderfully good and important—they are here and the world is better for it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gotta Getaway

Spring fever. Cabin fever. Whatever it was, it was time to find the cure. We decided to break the semi-permeable bubble we've been in for the last five months and head south for some fun in the sun last weekend. Matt had a conference that made a good excuse to tag along and we were able to rent a condo from a neighbor (so much cleaner than a hotel!), so we were off.

The boys adore St. George. The sun. The swimming. Hiking in the red rocks. Visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Great (that's what they call their great grandparents who live there). We did it all and brought Grandma Di along for the fun, too. It was great to see them basking in the glory of undivided attention. It honestly made me feel very aware and more than a little guilty about the hundreds of times I must say "in just a minute" everyday. Why is it such a battle to live in the present? I guess that's what vacations are made for.

Bursting the bubble came with a price, however. McKay came home with his first case of the sniffles. I didn't feel too bad about it as it seemed completely inevitable to me. After all, we do plan to join the world at some point--foreign germs and all. However, as the week progressed, so did his cold and so did his difficulty breathing. I spent last Tuesday and Wednesday nights up all night--literally-- battling boogies wielding nothing but sheer determination to open airways and a blue bulb syringe. (Cold medicine messes with blood pressure. None for us, thanks.) By Friday I was crying uncle and praying for his heavily humidified room to work a mini miracle. His blue toes and ashen color almost turned Matt's birthday bash into a trip to the emergency room. We told him he had 10 minutes to pink up or we were taking him in. He did. Good boy.

Today he seems to have turned the corner and I feel irrationally proud of his well-fought battle with the common cold. My tough guy did it, just like a regular kid. He's strong and growing and never stopped smiling.

Of course it may have all been an elaborate plot to avoid my plans to Ferberize post-vaca. Honestly, I'm at a point where I don't care if he sleeps through the night. I mostly love our all- hours cuddle sessions and have come to feel like at the rate he's growing, I'll miss something if I don't see him every few hours. What if I'm not brave enough to do this again and his little chubby cheeks are the last baby face of my own? Yes. He's going to be all kinds of spoiled. I'm not apologizing, just warning you. Watch out.

At any rate, we're back. Back to posting. Back to school. Back to waiting out RSV season and hoping Spring will come to stay for good. Back to life. And life is good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Too Many

Another weekend and another too-much-to-take service for a sweet heart friend. We rushed home from a jail break weekend in the St. George sun (such fun, will post pics later) to make sure we made it to a niece's birthday party and sweet Avery Ann's viewing tonight.

I met Avery's mother, Leah, through a mutual friend after she learned her growing baby had a heart condition similar to McKay's. I've done my best to offer random insights and advice over the past few months as she diligently prepared for the arrival of her fourth child, and first little girl, Avery.

If ever there was a mother who was ready for a baby it was Leah. She had researched, she had arranged, she had planned and scheduled and made ready all that could be for sweet Avery. Unfortunately, it was not to be. In a whirlwind of decisions, emotions and her mother's initiation into all things pink, Miss Avery was in too much of a hurry to return to God for any one's liking. Matt says I need to stop making friends. I think he's right. The bidding is now closed if matters of the heart are ever that easy. This heart mom thing may not be the sorority of my choosing, but it's mine all the same. And I'm honored by the company.

If I'm looking for a lesson in this last week it's this: I don't think we are meant to understand all that goes on in this life. I think the trick is in being willing to accept it. Not to accept it will malice or reservations, but accept it with full faith that all will be made right in Christ. If we accept we heal. If we heal then we find peace. And in peace comes understanding. That's my circle of truth this week--take it for what it is. A virtuous cycle. A merry-go-round. It's all a matter of perspective. Today, I am thankful for the 30,000-foot view the Lord is granting me. Life is beautiful and precious and simple from up here--just a bit too crowded with angels these days...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Something to Share

If there exists a place between the sublime and the terrifying I went there yesterday. Saturday was Gracie Gledhill's funeral. And this beautiful tribute to a beautiful little girl has forever changed me. I have debated about whether or not to share about the event as it became a deeply personal experience. But when I think of all the very important things that became crystal clear in those moments of remembering, sharing, celebrating, and grieving this tiny life, I don't know how I cannot chronicle a few to remember how such a brief life can make such a lasting impact.

Gracie was honestly the first "heart baby" we ever knew. The very day we were diagnosed with McKay's condition, April 8, 2008, a family friend referred us to Gracie's blog. We were starving for practical information about what our diagnosis meant. Sure, we had lots of medical resources telling us what it was, but that is just not the same as seeing what real life looks like for families with kids like the one we were expecting.

Gracie was in the throws of recovering from her first round of surgery when we met her. I was instantly hooked. Matt and I called each other during the day whenever her blog was updated to discuss what was happening and assign homework for each of us to learn more about the terms and procedures being described. We truly hitched our wagon to this little fighter who seemed to pull rabbit after rabbit out of her hat and get stronger every day. We found such hope in her story. I would rub my bump of a belly at that point and tell my 20-week guy, "You're going to have to be strong, just like Gracie. If she can do it, so can you."

Gracie's aunt offered a beautiful account of Gracie's life at the funeral and mentioned that she really should have left this life at just four days old--the first time her tiny heart stopped beating on its own. But many prayers and blessings pulled her through those early days along with her mother who wondered aloud, "How will I help other heart families if Gracie leaves me now?" Those words struck my core. How could she have possibly known how much I (and I'm sure many others) would need gorgeous little Gracie just a few weeks later? How much we would need a small piece of the hope, strength, determination, and love she offered?

I felt overwhelmed with the assurance that maybe we were not so much drawn to Gracie and her selfless family, but led. They were meant to make the road easier for me and others like us; to blaze a trail for babies yet to be born that would need what Gracie would teach her doctors about what was possible. Gracie's greatest miracle may not be in the struggle of a life she led here--overcoming odds and wowing all those who knew her. Indeed, her greatest miracle may yet to be in the lives of those babies who are thriving because mothers, fathers, doctors have been inspired by her.

I was also struck by how difficult it was for Gracie's aunt to reconcile was was so right about beautiful little Gracie on the outside, with was so terribly wrong on the inside. I, too, have felt overwhelmed by this cruel twist that makes you doubt all you know to be terrifyingly true. I think that's why God gives us scars. For me, McKay's little zippers remind me to celebrate him and our time together on a daily basis. I rarely dwell on the marks, but occasionally rub my index finger over them as if to make sure they're real. They're real. And these days that careful caress over his chest produces a full-bellied gut giggle from my guy. That is God's mercy at its finest.

I felt strength in the sisterhood of other heart moms also there to honor and support. I have never seen these women outside of the hospital. Is that our fate? To see each other only in the PICU or at events like this? I hope not. These women are too strong and beautiful not to welcome into sunnier parts of my life. There was a time when I told a nurse I did not want to get to know other "heart moms." It was not a group I was interested in joining. Like somehow I would bundle up my babe, walk out into the world and all would be right. I was wrong. I felt tremendous strength sitting next to them, talking to them about daily routines, procedures, and fears that did not need explaining. I need them.

It was Gracie's father, however, that made a comment that rang so true and so loud I cannot ignore it. Tom said that from the moment Gracie was born she created bonds with her family and friends--bonds that were quicker and more sure than most of us can make in a lifetime. I, too, have felt this with McKay. It is hard to describe how he connects so strongly and so instantly with people. I have never seen my boys so emotionally connected to anyone. They reverence their brother. They celebrate him. Are all babies this way? There seems to be something about McKay that makes others want to be near him and it's almost tangible. Even new acquaintances, or those who have never met him in person have expressed their feeling of closeness to him. It's as if McKay knows he has no time to lose; as if he's the keeper of a secret we all desperately need to know. Little by little he reveals it and little by little we are better for it.

There is so much more to share. So much more I learned that crisp, sunny afternoon we said goodbye to a little girl that will live on in more ways than I can say. In the end, I was fully reminded of the unsteady agreement each heart family, or any of us really, has with God and this fragile mortal experience. An agreement only steadied by the hope and reality of eternal families. I hastily made my way home after the services, arms aching to cradle each of my miracles, lips poised to speak kinder words, and ears more open to listening and appreciating each precious moment. Thank you Gracie girl. Thank you Gledhill family.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Every Six Weeks

Every six weeks since Tyler was just four months old, we've gone for haircuts. Just as surely as the moon passes through its phases, just as reliably as winter turns to spring, my boy's hair grows and grows and grows.

I'm not complaining. We've found some truly delightful places to get their hair cut. Neighbor's basement salons, a cousin's kitchen counter top, and the mecca of fabulous children's haircuts: Cookie Cutters. I have been completely enamored of this pint-sized salon for at least three years now. We know all the stylists by name and even stopped to chat with the owner when we recognized each other in Disneyland last year. There is nothing better than having your kids beg to get haircuts and walk out feeling and looking like a million bucks with a sucker and balloon to boot.

It's been a hard sell, but we are done with our Cookie Cutting ways. My darling sister Aly is a stylist and has been insisting we bring the boys to her salon to be coiffed. Our first trip was a nightmare. The boys knocked over large art pieces into the serenity fountain below and kept talking to the not-so-amused woman on her spa day in the chair next to us. However, the manager thought us charming and we've improved our behavior with each visit. Aly now prepares for our raucous arrival with a bag of cookies from Mrs. Fields for the boys to dive into. It keeps them quiet and happy until it's their turn in the chair. Preston affectionately asks when we can next go to the "salon."

This trip was extra special as it was time to tame McKay's crazy locks. Yes, his first haircut. His super cute, sky-high mohawk has been looking not so super cute these days--more like a bad rug atop a balding foundation really. It was time to risk him looking more like a little man (they always do after those first unruly hairs are gone). He thought the entire experience rather amusing. Here's some fun pics from our first three brothers visit to the salon:

Monday, March 2, 2009

One More Angel

Today Gracie will return home to her Heavenly Father. There is nothing more to do for her sweet, broken heart. Please pray for this angel and her darling family. I cannot imgine the ache they must feel and the peace that will come when her body that has not known a day without struggle will finally be free. Well done Gracie girl. You have taught many big lessons in the little time you've had here.

Much love to the Gledhill family.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Have Some Questions...

Today, I have some questions:
  • Why does a heart ache? And once it starts, will it ever stop?
  • Why are some of the best people I know made to go through the worst times?
  • Why are some of the smallest among us asked to bear the biggest burdens?
  • Why is hope given and then taken away?
  • If we learn the lesson quickly enough, does the trial end sooner?
  • Why do the best kinds of prayers, made by the best kinds of people, seem to go unanswered and they are made to watch as the desire of their hearts is given to another?

Today, I know these things to be true:

  • Life is a complete hairball.
  • Today is a total gift.
  • God loves us as individuals.
  • Families are forever.
  • The world is full of some really deep down good people.
  • I don't need all the answers (although it would be nice and I'm really very good at keeping secrets).
  • There is a plan~ and when you get a small glimpse of its wonder, you are never the same again.

I'm in a melancholy, reflective mood tonight. Wondering on the week to come and feeling the weight of decisions that need to be made sooner than later. A clean house. The right school. A faster time. Ten more pounds. Folded socks. Does it matter? Of course it does. Does it matter as much as other things? Things that God really wants us to focus on? Definitely not. I was introduced to this quote recently and although its weight struck me right away, I am still pondering to understand it fully.

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."
- Gandhi

Yes--that guy most definitely got through the gate. Did he believe in "The Gate"? Not sure. But he's so through it, I'm sure he does now.

I will pray this week for understanding. For peace. For faith to be reassured and hope restored. I know it is not for me to know the why of all things but only to figure out the how of getting through it a better person than I started. I will pray for new friends and impossible trials that could just as soon be mine as theirs. And why aren't they? I will thank God they are not. And pray they will never be. I will pray with gratitude for God's mercy and focus with clarity on the fact that His mercy is the only thing that separates any of us from anyone else on the planet. Yes, I have some questions. But luckily, I know where to go for answers. Pray they come quickly.