Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cake Face Jack

Happy Birthday Jack!!!!!

One year ago today, our lives changed. One year ago today, my love multiplied, my heart expanded. One year ago today, Jack William was born into this world.

This child that we worried about, prayed for, loved beyond measure was born. When my wonderful doctor said, 'Get ready to meet your son', I looked at my husband who was peering over the curtain, and could not believe I was so blessed to be in that moment.

And then I heard him cry. That loud, shrill cry that filled the room was music to my ears. He was breathing, he was crying. The tears I had been holding back let forth and I felt a joy that would be pointless to try and describe. I asked Jeremiah and my doctor, 'Is he okay'. And Jeremiah looked down at me and said, 'He is perfect.'

This sweet gift from God, our Jack William, has changed me. Jack's very being reminded me that control is not ours to hold, and that we need to trust Him. He takes away, but He also gives. He stands by us as we question, as we doubt, as we shake our fists in anger, and He redeems us and wraps us up. I lost my mom while Jack was but a teenie creature growing deep inside me. I learned of sorrow and met sadness and despair, but I also was filled with joy and love from the life growing inside me. And Tyler and Kaiti needed a mom to be present, to be completely with them, to continue to find happiness and fun, and to love without holding back. Jack, Tyler and Kaiti forced me to embrace the light, rather than cling to the darkness!

So today we are celebrating Jack's birthday! I am thankful for all my children every day, but today is special. Today, we remember where we were a year ago, and how far we have come since.

I remember meeting my son for a moment before he was whisked away. And having to wait hours upon hours to go see him because I was not able to get into a wheel chair.


I remember how Tyler and Kaiti wanted so badly to meet their baby brother but could not because they were too young to go into the NICU. I remember how awful it was to tell them they would have to wait another day, and see the complete sadness and disappointment in their eyes.

I remember being terrified by all the monitors and reports we were getting. I remember wanting so badly to rip the tubes and wires from him and nurse my sweet child.


I remember praying my broken heart out, the saltiness of the tears, and clenching my husband's hand tightly as I was wheeled to the car at the hospital, without my child. I remember such anguish at not knowing when we could take him home or the battle my sweet son would have to fight.

AND....I remember joy and elation when they told us he could go home. I remember true, complete love when we introduced our baby to his anxiously waiting big brother and sister. I remember the happiness that filled our home that day, the peace that came from being together, finally, as a family.

Happy Birthday Jack Jack!!!!!!! We are all filled with love for you, sweet child!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

deeper than the holler

Today, I feel bare. I feel stripped away of the ordinary, day-to-day emotions that usually clothe me. As the typical thoughts and feelings lay crumpled in a heap next to me, I realize that as I stand stark, raw, a clearness takes way. And all I am left with, all I see before me, is love.

The past week has been tough. No lie. I'm not proud to say that I felt like, on more than one occasion, this world had got the better of me. I felt sucked up by a cold wind, tossed about, and thrown down sharply against a rock hard ground.

I don't like feeling like this. It's definitely not a way I choose to live. But every once in a while, it happens. In fact, I downright despise the feelings that coursed through me.

But, as I have experienced before, wonderful things come from being ravaged by a life-storm. Truly magnificent things.

You see, when you finally just stand still and realize that there is nothing left to do except let the storm pass over you, there is peace. There is no more fighting the wind. No more struggle against the piercing rain. Just an amazing sense of clarity amidst the cloudiness.

And then love. Right there in front of me, love. And though there is plenty of love that surrounds me, the love that sheltered me most this week was the love of my husband.

You all know he is heaven-sent, right? I definitely believe that. Like I believe in laughter. Like I believe in play. Like I believe in the sun's ability to warm me from the inside out. I know Jeremiah was for me with all of the me that I am. God gave me him. He sent him to me, for me to love, for me to be loved, for us to create love.

I just love him. He does something for me- well, aside from the obvious ;)- on a level that is just his. He has a way of speaking to my heart without a whisper escaping his lips. I look to him, when all is blowing about around us, and I feel safe. When I worry that I am being carried away, that I am allowing the negative to take over, I find redemption and hope in his eyes.

This week, in particular, wrought with worry and fearing the unknown climb ahead of us, I turned to him. This man who seems unshakeable, who has kept to the course without so much as a stutter step.

I see this incredible strength and hope shine from him. So I asked him.

'Do you think there is something wrong with me? Am I bad, or wrong for focusing on the scary news? Why am I such a mess and so upset over all this, and you seem to be fine? Is there something wrong, am I so negative, that I only see the frightening words jump from the page?'

That was really how I asked it, as I had tears forging a stream down my face. I asked it because I needed to know the answer. Because he always tells me the truth, even if the truth isn't what I desire. I asked because I had been wondering those thoughts in my head- not aloud- for quite some time, and I needed an answer.

And with love coating his tongue and care in his eyes, he answered.

'No, honey, there is nothing wrong with you. You are a mom. You're his mom, and you're right to be worried. We're just different.  But you're not wrong. It's okay.'

And now I am crying as I type this. Because hearing him say that put my heart back together. I had been so consumed by apprehension and fear, but I also was just as heavily questioning my own response. I had felt such defeat and was angry at myself for not stepping up to the plate. I was mad at me for not rallying this time, and for letting the emotion take control.

But with his words, he lifted me. He brought me back to my feet. He removed that negative weight. He redeemed me.

I know- TRUST ME, I KNOW- how blessed I am to call this man my husband. He is unbelievably good, and honest, and loving, and right. And he is mine to love!

I love you honey! You're the best, most loving, kindest, caring, most honest man that ever was and I'm so lucky that you picked me for your wife!

Friday, October 16, 2009

sweet Jack

In the past week, we have had some appts for Jack- all referrals from the geneticist. We need to find out more about his condition, so we have been sent to various specialists to get more information.

The first one was a mixed review. At his otolaryngologist appt, they determined that is hearing is within normal levels!!! YEA!!!!! They think that he failed his 3 previous hearing tests because he had fluid in is ears, which was later absorbed by his body. The development of fluid isn't abnormal. He might have it happen more than others because of his cilia condition. But I was thrilled that my son could hear. One hurtle down.

But while we were there, the otolaryngologist (I don't remember his name- shame on me!) he said he thought Jack's mucus looked TOO THICK. I thought, 'Okay, thanks for sharing.' Then he said he needed to scope him. So he did, and poor Jack did NOT like that one bit. He concluded that mucus is thicker than normal (a word I have come to despise), and is related to the cilia condition. One more unfortunate box to check when pursuing testing. But it could be worse.

We also went to the abdominal ultrasound determine presence, location and size of spleen, kidney and liver size, as well as stomach and intestine info. We don't know anything concrete yet. I went into the appt a little confused. I was not aware that the NICU team determined that he DID have a spleen. So I thought we were just trying to verify if he had one. (Jeremiah says he told me this back then, but honestly, so much was said, that I forgot even the good news.) There were a couple very specific things we were looking for-- size of spleen, location, whether it was malrotated (like everything else is for Jack), and whether there was just one spleen.

I will share when we have confirmed things more. I continue to pray and feel hopeful that because our son is growing and happy and seemingly fine, he will be fine.

Oh, and if I haven't already told you-- Jack is taking steps!!! He doesn't get too far. We all cheer him on and praise him, and then, for reasons unbeknownst to us, Jack thinks it is hysterical to plop down on his butt. So, the routine goes, step 1- smile, step 2 - mischevious grin, step 3- his eyes twinkle, and then he sits, and starts laughing at us. Like, 'You silly fools, I am not a circus monkey performing tricks.'

He also has 6 teeth, with a couple more coming in. He is eating food and we've already discovered he is-  like the other boys in the family- a true meat lover.

Here are some pictures of the past week or so!

a very muggy day of t-ball

honoring life today

I sent prayers up today. Lots of them. For the families who never got to hold a precious child, and for the families that did and had to hand them over to God too soon. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day shook me this year.

The very idea of pregnancy and infant loss is such an incredible contradiction, a cruel irony, really. Pregnancy and new life are symbols of hope, of promise, of love, of divine creation. So to mix those ideas with that of loss, of death, seems to be such a tragic combination of extremes. And I think that is probably the best way to describe it. For me, anyway.

We lost our first child to miscarriage when I was 13 weeks along. Early, yes, but that did not make the loss any less in my eyes. I longed to be a mother for as long as I could remember. I always envisioned a loud, crowded home, filled with love and children. I wanted so desperately to make my wonderful husband a father, to come together as parents, and care for and grow a child. And I was graced with a child. A baby in my womb that was loved from the moment I saw a pink line spread across an itty bitty plastic window.  I dreamt of family trips to Disneyland, walks in the park beneath shady trees, cuddling our child against my chest as I rocked him or her to sleep. Losing that baby devastated me-us. It tested my faith. And it took me a while to come back around, and to see that He was at work. Always.  I have mixed emotions when I grow sad over the child that we never knew, because I have Tyler Adam. I became pregnant with him 4 months before our 1st baby's due date. I could not have both, and God gave me Tyler. How could I ever look at my boy and not feel incredibly blessed?

But then we were introduced to infancy loss on an entirely different level, when we were told initially that our 3rd gift from God had serious complications. When we were taken into a room and told that something was wrong. When we were told to consider terminating 'the pregnancy'. That day involved us in a whole new level of struggle, of worry. Still, we trudged through the heartache, and kept our eyes on the prize, so to speak. Even though everyone around us was telling us, warning us, of what could and probably would play out when he was born into this world, we kept our focus on our son, and the day we would get to cradle him to our hearts.

And when he was born, he was whisked away, but I saw him, for a brief, fleeting moment. 

He was here- this breathing, living, beautiful boy. The joy that poured from my heart was so intense. And the mood in the room was unmistakeable. Hope and happiness are as evident as rain dripping in front of you, as apparent as the moon shining in the sky. For a while, my fears and worry quieted. All I felt was happiness and unending love. 

Then, when I was finally able to be wheeled up to see him the next day, I was pulled back into that world of fear, worry and desperation. Jack William was just one of so many baby's fighting, struggling in that NICU. And even with the worry and concern over our son, we knew (boy, did we know) how blessed we were that he seemed to be winning the fight with each breath he took. So many baby's were not. It was heart wrenching. I can remember the smells of the antiseptic, hear the sounds of monitors beeping and nurses whispering in hushed tones, feel the fear knot up in my stomach still today, thinking of our time there. Seeing my child being fed not at my breast by my nourishment, but by tubes is such an unnatural, simply crippling thing.  Seeing an IV tube stabbed into the very thin skin of his scalp, because his other veins had simply had enough. But still, he was among the healthier baby's. He would, we prayed, be coming home. 

And, again, I felt conflicted. On the one hand, so incredibly grateful and blessed that our son was spared from a worse fate. On the other hand, feeling guilty and somewhat like a traitor amongst the other parents, who watched as we wheeled our son past them on his homegoing day. I still feel that way.

As we continue to face medical scares and problems regarding Jack's heterotaxy syndrome, I am always aware of how blessed we are. He is here. Today, he is with me, playing at my feet, laughing as he tears up his sister's artwork. He is here. 

The only way I know how to honor all those children who are not here, and the families that long to hold them, is to know and be grateful for each moment I get to hold my son. To appreciate his laughter fully, to cherish and hold deeply each moment he lays his sweet head against my chest. 

And I lift them up in prayer. I ask God to blanket them with His love, to shelter them from the pain. I pray that they know that mother's everywhere long to reach out to them, hold them, absorb some of their pain. I pray.

"For I  know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Well, if I was coming on here to participate in Not Me Monday, I might have a lot to share, but since I've done nothing this week that fell below the high standards I have set for myself as a mother, wife, and person, I most definitely DO NOT have a thing to share.

On the other hand.........
It might be fun to tell you all how my children, more than a few nights this past week, have walked around in the buff after their nightly bath because there were no pajamas to be found in the likely places.
And, they might have continued walking around (still, in the buff) aimlessly, until I directed them to the couch, were 75% of their clothing laid out in nice piles, just waiting for a mama to take them to a room and hang them up or tuck them into drawers.
And, in keeping with that story, it might be even more forthcoming to tell you that while those clothes were put away a couple days ago, another NEW pile is gathering, and gaining height as I type this very post. But since that was NOT ME, their is NO need to share such a story.

I am always paying 100% attention to my little ones-- ESPECIALLY the littlest of all, who tends to find trouble around every corner.
IF I didn't always keep my eyes peeled and focused on my babies, I might have a confession or two to share.
Like, say for example.....if, and only if, I was so busy making my gajillionth bow that was such a necessity (because, you know, a trillion bows is just not enough) that I did not notice how quiet my little Jack was.
Then, I may have been able to prevent the mess, also known as Markergate 2009, that Jack might have made while I was creating.
You see, if Markergate had actually happened, it might have involved an orange marker, a table, a couch, and precious baby face. But since I am ALWAYS aware, such a thing would NEVER have happened!

(this photo is a dramatization and was created strictly for Not Me Monday intent's and purposes)

As I mentioned, I always adhere to the highest principles in mommyhood AND wifedom. But if I fell short of my self-set expectations, I might have created a rather awkward snafu that might have been slightly mortifying for myself, my son, and some unwitting, yet gracious, man.
IF...  I was waiting for my husband to show up at the base pharmacy/clinic I might have told Tyler that his daddy had finally arrived (after spotting him through the windows) and was walking through the doors, and I might have sent Tyler to greet him.
Tyler might have been so thrilled to see his uniform-clad Daddy that he ran to give him a big,warm hug, only to find out that the man was not, in fact, his father, and just some other similarly built,  bald-headed gentleman in a flight suit.
That might have been very embarrassing for BOTH mother AND child (and said bald-headed gentleman).
And my husband, if he read my blog, might get a chuckle out of this since such a thing was not shared with him sooner. But since this DID NOT happen, and my husband (if he read my blog) knows I would never mistake him- the love of my life- for anyone else, I have NOTHING to worry about.
Because the story above is pure fiction- so, you know, this NEVER happened.

So, there you have it! A bunch of things I DID NOT, COULD NOT, WOULD NOT DO, because, as I have told you before, I am unflappable, earnestly aware, tediously tidy, and as efficient as can be. Like I even need to tell you these things......

The woman who did the things mentioned above was, without a doubt, NOT ME!!!!

What about you lovely folks? What kinds of things have you NOT done this week?

a new discovery!

So, as most of you know, I bow. It is now appropriate and acceptable (at least, to me) to use the word 'bow' as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb....the list goes on. When my children are tightly tucked into their beds and dreams of Mickey Mouse's house are playing out in their sweet heads, I am making bows.

The only reason I am not making bows RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND is because I took a break to share with you....I've discovered a new bow that I really, really like. Really.

I love this new bow because I get to experiment with mixing a bunch of colors, patterns, and textures together. The loopy bow has stolen my heart. Unfortunately, my daughter does not share my passion. She prefers the dainty clips or pinwheel bows in her hair. So, I guess for now I am just creating them to add to my etsy shop. You can check them out HERE!

Okay, now that I have shared that, I am going to go cuddle up next to my husband. The only downfall to my current obsession.... a little less snuggle time with my wonderful man. No more of that! At least, not tonight ;)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I've gone and done it!

Finding my home being overrun by the bows I have made my unwilling little princess, I finally got an etsy site. My husband could not be happier.....he's hoping we make back just some of the money we've poured into this obsessive bow making hobby. Okay, really, he is just thrilled that at least some of these bows will be leaving our home-- did I mention I've made a gajillion. Yes, a gajillion!! I've counted.

You can see the site  by clicking  HERE.  Please take a look and let me know what you think. Starting the etsy site was a little humbling, and quite daunting, so if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears....well, not all. I only have 2. But they are prepped and ready to hear ya!

here are a few of the things I've got....

smooches and hugs!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

she lights us up

I woke up this morning to gray, gloomy skies, and a sense of uneasy nervousness. It almost felt like God matched the weather to my mood. (Comical, I admit. Please don't think I am so grandiose in my thinking that I would actually believe God selects rain or shine based on the emotional state of little ol' Shannon. I said it almost felt like....)

Today, my dad goes before the lawyers involved in the lawsuit regarding my mom's death. He will have to define the loss of my mother in tangible terms.....something I find both deplorable and unfeasible. He will be forced to sit and watch as my beautiful mother's abundant life is reduced to spreadsheets, power point displays, and legal conjecture.

To any person, that would be grim. To the man who loved her more than his human heart would allow, such a thing is torture unimaginable.

Only by the skin of his teeth, and through the grace of God has my dad made it this far- emotionally speaking. I think each day is a treacherous walk through grief and loneliness, and he is forced to push such raw emotion and heartache aside, just to manage the day to day things that most of us consider every day life.

When I spoke to him yesterday, I asked my Dad if he was ready. A ridiculous question, but something I felt compelled to ask. I think asking him that was my way of asking him if he was mentally prepared for what would happen. Again, I know that is ridiculous, but I guess the mom in me wanted to let him know that I understood how difficult going into court would be and that even though we are separated by thousands of miles, I would be with him.

I find myself looking up at the picture of my mom as I type this, and every time I do I feel reassured. She just always seemed to know that everything would work out just as it should. Her faith was strong. She never questioned the path she was walking or expressed fear or upset at the pitfalls and detours that sprung up along her route. She just kept walking, and found joy and love around every bend. What's more, she shared that joy and love with all of us. I never went a day not knowing how loved, how special, and cared for I was.

So, I am hoping that my dad walks though today's events as my mom would have done, with love and compassion in his heart. I hope, and I pray, that he feels my mom's love lighting him up today. I pray that he tunes out the legal jargon and brushes off the way they treat my mother like a file folder, and instead focuses on her lovely face.

Something good will come from what takes place today in that courtroom. Many goods already have sprung up, once He called my mom home.

My sister and I have never been closer-- my mom's lifelong wish. We have leaned on each other.

I have embraced my God with a renewed passion. I have found so much peace in knowing that this path was carved out long before I came to be, and knowing that He is here with me, enveloping me with His love.

I have learned that isn't what we do, or what we have or give, or things we say that matter to people. It is how we make them feel. My mom made us feel like we were all amazing, talented, remarkable, and significant. Like God gave her a family of extraordinary people that she was blessed to be amongst. When you make someone feel like they are something special, they become something special...even if the special is in the smallest of ways- special is special. Without a doubt, that was the greatest gift she gave me.

So today, I am gonna walk through the muck and know how special I am to have a mother who continues to light me up. I love her so much!!

And wouldn't you know it.....the gray is fading away, and rays are shining through the clouds. Grandiose or not, I'm basking in it. Love you Mom! (I am aware that my mom doesn't read my blog- that was for my own benefit. I just feel good saying it!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

First things first

There's a first time for everything! Now, I don't know about you, but I think firsts are so exciting, worthy of celebration. Well, maybe not every first. I certainly did not celebrate my first bad grade. Nor do I cherish the memory of my first car accident. But I remember the first time I kissed my husband so vividly in my head. Oh, and the first time my husband, not even a 'boyfriend' at the time, told me he loved me. What a moment! And not many memories top the first time I felt my first child kick in my belly--absolute bliss? Yep, firsts are pretty amazing. We had some exciting, memory-making firsts this week!

Tyler had his first school dance. No need to go back- you read that correctly. My kindergartner went to his first school dance. And by dance, I mean a bunch of kids aged 5-8 crowded in a gymnasium, in varying stages of sugar-crazed madness from the candy being peddled at a dozen different tables, while Taylor Swift and Hannah Montana screeched loudly from the speakers. It was LOVELY. 

Another first for Tyler- his first NOTE!! I was looking through his backpack on Tuesday and found a folded piece of paper tucked away. I kid you not, this is what it said: 'Tyler, you are cool. I am glad you are one of my best friends. Keep on being cool. Rock on. From Braydon.' Ummmmm......excuse me? Notes? In KINDERGARTEN??? As stunned as I was, I do realize how cute it is that this little boy took time to write my son a note, and was impressed with the words he wrote out (it was clearly written by a 5 year old). Truthfully, I also think it's pretty sweet that someone -other than myself- thinks Tyler is a pretty cool dude. 

On the Kaiti front, a HUGE first! Both Miss Pat and Miss Ashley reported that my sweet girl was singing loud and proud in chapel on Wednesday! She loves to sing, all the time, but up until this week, she never sang in chapel. She might have moved her lips or whispered words here and there, but never sang, and sang loudly at that! She has now mentioned that she might want to sing in the Cherub still my beating heart! My daughter continues to amaze me, and we celebrate each brave step away from shyness, and towards an ever-so-subtle daring boldness. 

Jack's first isn't really one we are celebrating. My littlest son has decided that he is becoming nocturnal. Now, we've tried reasoning with him. We've tried changing his routine up. We've tried letting him cry it out, we've tried rocking him. Still, he remains firm. I hope to report back soon (VERY soon) with some victorious news on our part. 

Our final first is something we are going to attempt tomorrow-- camping!! The Kopschs are celebrating Christopher's 7th birthday with an overnight camp-out at Hanna Park, so we are packing up some gear and heading east-- okay, so it's only 25 miles east, but still!! I know it is has been done many, many times, and I would not think it was even worth mentioning, were it not for the first I mentioned above. I am hoping that the fresh air might actually cure Jack of his nighttime wakefulness. In case that doesn't work, then I hope that the campers near us sleep deeply..... Come what may, we're all excited about our little adventure. And with the 3 kids in a tent, it is SURE to be a first we won't soon forget.

Happy Trails!!


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