Who I Am Today

Let's face it, my journey into motherhood hasn't been an easy one. I've never asked for pity, condolences or special treatment. I hardly ever ask for help (even though I know I should). I take pride in the fact that I've been able to understand that this life - this crazy, chaotic, unlike-anything-I'd-imagined life - is my "normal". I'm making the most of it.

***Patting myself on back...***

With no disrespect intended, I want to answer the question I get asked most often:

(Q) How do you do it? I'm not sure I could ever be as strong as you.

(A) I don't know how I do it, I just do...I'm just doing the job that I was given. To be a mom. To love my kids. To do whatever it takes to make sure they are given the best life possible. Yes, my job might include things that yours doesn't, like overseeing weekly therapies, waiting helplessly in a hospital waiting room while my child undergoes # (fill in the blank) surgery and wondering every day why my child/my family was chosen for this journey. But the fact of the matter is that I'm no super-hero. I'm just doing my job. You would be able to do it to. You'd have to. Because like me, you too would do whatever it takes.

With that said, the fact that Ricky and I have become even stronger in spite of the challenges we've met during these past 2 years is not lost on me. I thank God every night for helping me find my best friend. For knowing that Ricky was just the person I was meant to be with and experience life's ups and downs with. Having him as my #1 supporter is definitely my saving grace.

But I also do not go a single day without thanking God for my parents. They are THE reason I am who I am today.

I have been blessed with the gift of telling stories. With the gift of being able to put my thoughts into words and sharing them with whomever is interested in reading. My father has always been a very gifted speaker and story-teller. I can remember sitting indian-style in the living room by the glow of the Christmas tree each year and being captivated by my dad's reciting of "Twas' the Night Before Christmas". I heard the words...but I stared intently at his facial expressions, mesmerized more by his pursed lips and wide eyes at all the right times. It was from him I learned how to engage an audience and make them want more. Enunciation. Speaking slowly in front of an audience. Animation. Heart. Those are some of the many qualities I've inherited from him - and for that I am thankful.

My mother is a little less "show" and a lot more "real". I credit her for my "tell-it-like-it-is" trait. I learned quickly to think twice before asking for her opinion if my intentions were only to get someone to nod in agreement with whatever my opinion was. She is too real for that. She'll be the one to tell you that she really doesn't like the high-lights you just spent $100 on at the salon or that she doesn't particularly care for your best friend. Not in that "rain on your parade" type way. In that "mom is usually right" type way. And yep, she usually is right. But even when she's not, you still respect the fact that she doesn't try to dance around the truth. Everyone needs someone in their life who will give it to you straight. For me, my mom is that person. Likewise, my friends know that I'm that person. They respect me for it. And that's why we are still friends today. So I am proud to have gotten this personality-trait from my morethanawesome mom.

The truth is, I am able to do my job and handle the challenges I've been given in part because of the very characteristics I've described above. Writing has been an outlet for me. Keeping people informed about Aiden's surgeries every step of the way and also letting people in on the fun, stressfree times we share as a family is therapeutic for me. Sometimes when I can't find the right words in person, I'm able to find them through my writing.

Similarly, hearing the straight truth and expecting nothing less is an important aspect of caring for a child with special medical needs. I don't want a doctor to sugar coat things just because they think I won't understand the terms or won't be able to handle it. I have no problem communicating concerns, addressing inconsistencies, or questioning a treatment. Once doctors realize that I'm 'that kind of parent', I feel they start respecting my position as not only the one bearing the emotional brunt of things regarding Aiden, but also the type who can and will advocate for his best needs.

Today, I'm thankful for my family. My husband, who continues to be my pillar of strength. My boys, who teach me more about life than anyone. And my parents. Without their constant and spot on guidance, without their unique and admirable traits that I've been lucky enough to inherit - I would not be who I am today. I'm doing my job because it's the one I've been given. I'm doing it well because I learned how from them.

Check her out - My Bluegrass Baby Photo

My friend from high school, Heather (Boles) Wolff, has started her own photography business. In addition to the photo side of things, she has also launched the My Bluegrass Baby website/blog and is doing her first giveaway.

Heather takes amazing pictures of children and families - and you can see for yourself by clicking here. ...Although we have yet to get together for a photo shoot with our family! In due time...

Why don't you visit her site and see if she might be able to capture some of your special moments?

What a difference a year makes

Last year, just before Thanksgiving, Ricky, Aiden and I were in Dallas preparing for our baby's first surgery.

Eating turkey and spending time with family was not exactly on the forefront of our minds. Doctors appointments, fear of putting our 9 month old under anesthesia and forever changing our baby the way God made him was.

Once the surgery was over and we returned home, Thanksgiving forever held new meaning for our family.

After several weeks of casts, cast removal, dressing changes and healing, we then had to focus on making it through Christmas and the entire month of January keeping Aiden healthy enough for his next surgery in February. And although we did our best to "get into the holiday spirit" for the kids, it certainly had a different feel. The tree was up. The lights were strung. The picture with Santa was taken. But behind all the "ho-ho-ho's" were two very scared parents.

We made it through the next surgery without a hitch - and our little boy, who turned 1 just a week before the operation, was given the very best birthday present imaginable...10 fingers and 10 toes!

Then we again faced the casts, cast removal and dressing changes. And again we avoided public places, kept the kids from being around other family members if they had so much as a sniffle and fretted about the next sugery, scheduled for May.

While May is usually my favorite time of year - the buds in full bloom on the trees, the air crisp and clean, the flowers blossoming - this past May was less than enjoyable. Aiden's allergies flared and when we touched down in Dallas a few days prior to his head surgery, his breathing was labored and something wasn't right. We anxiously awaited word on whether he would be healthy enough for his operation. The thought of having to cancel it and go through the waiting and stress another time around was awful. But then thinking of doing the surgery and having something go wrong because he wasn't 100% was gut-wrenching. May was definitely not turning out like we had hoped.

After discussing with all of the doctors on Aiden's team, the decision was made to move ahead with the cranial vault surgery. We prayed. We waited. We held each other in the waiting room. And thankfully, our baby made it through without issue.


Fast forward to now. It is a week before Thanksgiving once again. Aiden's hands, feet, and head are healed. He's gotten over the pain of the surgeries. He's using his hands and walking on perfect little feet. The swelling is gone. The incisions are fading beautifully. But, as parents, there is still much healing to be done for our hearts. We will never forget the feeling of handing our baby over 3 times in 6 months to be put under anesthesia. We won't soon forget the worry, the stress, of waiting for the surgeon to come out of the OR and let us know that everything is okay.

This year, however, we are so very thankful that we will get to experience the joy of the holiday season as it is meant to be felt. We'll fill up on turkey, put our healthy babies to bed and think ahead a month, not about the next surgery, but about the wonder of Christmas and how much we love this time of year.

What a difference a year makes.

White water rafting

I haven't been sleeping very well lately. I have been having lots of dreams - the kind that you remember in the morning. The kind that make you realize you are not getting to the point of sleep where you are truly relaxed.

Last night I had a dream about whitewater rafting. I've never in my life had a dream about whitewater rafting - that I can remember anyway.

I awoke around 4:30 am with the vivid images still fresh on my mind.

I've always been one to look for meaning in ordinary everyday things. Things like Ethan throwing a 5 minute fit in the car before leaving NKY a few weeks ago, then pulling up to a serious accident on I-71 that looked as if we had just missed it by 5 minutes. Or even something more simple like seeing a shooting star in the night sky.

So with this unusal dream keeping me awake, I had to wonder if it meant something. I grabbed my iPhone from my nightstand and typed into my google browser: dream about white water rafting.

The first link I clicked said..."To dream about white water rafting signifies that after going through some turbulent times, your sadness and pain will slowly disappear."

Coincidence? Or is my mind trying to tell me that I'm approaching The Upward Turn.

Either way, upon reading that I got little goosebumps up my arms. And then I fell fast asleep.

"Now that's what I'm talkin' about!"

With every passing month I find myself saying "this is the age I like the best" - talking about my kids of course.

It was fun when they were little enough to sleep snugly in a swing for a nap, then wake with a huge smile ready to play. Then it was fun when they started rolling, scooting, sitting, walking. Each new milestone was a reason to be proud. And now, their personalities are in full force. They are talking, belly laughing uncontrollably when I do something funny, and really living life to the fullest.

The talking part has been so enjoyable for us as parents. It really is true - kids say the darnedest things! You never know what is going to come out of Ethan's mouth (and I honestly sometimes have no idea where he learns the stuff he says!)

For instance, over the past few weeks he's been known to say:

"You need to go out and close the door. I need my privacy." (when going pee-pee on the potty)

"Mommy, you're so pretty." (right before he asks me for something from his goody-jar of Halloween candy)

and "I look like Daddy because I'm not a girl" (when asked who he looks like, Mommy or Daddy)

Last weekend, Ricky took Ethan to the park while Aiden and I attended a baby shower. Afterwards Ricky was laughing so hard telling me the things Ethan had said that day. While Ricky was pushing him on the swings, going higher and higher, Ethan shouted "Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" then followed by "Daddy, you are cracking me up!"

Later, when he fell off the playground equipment into the mulch he looked up slowly and said "It's all part of the plan!"

And finally, he proclaimed "I love playing at this park. It is beautiful outside!"

At just 2 years old, he sure does know how to express himself pretty well wouldn't you say? As much as he sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out with his ornery behavior, he also manages to make me laugh just as much (if not more). He is one smart kiddo with a larger than life personality. And so far, this is my favorite age. :)

On becoming "that family"

After Aiden was born, one of the things that weighed heavily on my mind was the heartbreaking thought of becoming "that family".

You know,
"That family that has the child with a syndrome."
"That family that must be so stressed and worried and down all the time."
"That family others feel sorry for."

I cried about a lot during the first several months of Aiden's life. But I couldn't shake this. It hurt me to my core. I never for a second thought about giving Aiden up - but in those first few months adjusting to our new life, my mind couldn't stop wishing things were different. I didn't want to be "that family". It just wasn't fair.

Now, almost 21 months later, although I still cry from time to time, and still grieve the life that I had imagined in my head, I have also embraced the idea of being "that family".

You know,
"That family that loves each other so much, they can get through anything."
"That family that has two beautiful children - both with very different and very special abilities."
"That family that people are inspired by."


When I started this blog, it was a way to keep my family and friends informed about our family. Mostly because I live away from all of them and then even moreso because of all of Aiden's medical issues.

I've always loved to write. It doesn't come easy all of the time, just when it matters. It is something that I started doing as a child and have continued to do through the years. When I was ten, I had aspirations of putting together a neighborhood newspaper - actually going so far as to recruit some of my friends in our cul-de-sac to form a committee and develop a gameplan. We would write about the goings-on on our street. We would sponsor and plan a neighborhood carnival. I was going to be the editor-in-chief.

As I got older, my writing evolved into something else. It became a bigger part of me. I allowed myself to put pen to paper and capture my feelings. I kept journals, but usually ended up discarding one for another that had a prettier cover. Then, being the organizational nut that I am, I'd re-write (yes - re-write) each previous entry into the new one.

I began reading some of my entries to close friends. I enjoyed sharing what I had written, even if I did feel a little vulnerable. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was therapeutic for me. I could write it, share it and not feel judged.

Somewhere around the time I had kids - I learned about the "blogosphere". There is something very exhilarating about writing a blog. You can easily type a post, edit it before publishing, and delete it later if you realize you didn't want to share it after all.

This blog started as a way to keep my friends and family informed about ours. And it has become so much more.

It's my history. It's my future. It's my therapy.

When I wrote "when your world falls apart", I sat at my laptop at midnight typing continuously, not even thinking about who might read what is obviously a very personal situation. I had to get it out there. It felt good to share that part of my story.

To say that I've been completely blown away by the responses I've received as a result would be an understatement. I had no idea that what I was feeling would resonate with so many people. People who had gone through something similar - having a child with a disability, a difference, a medical condition. Others who have been following our story from the day Aiden was born - who have no tie to us personally, but just want to be able to offer their support and prayers along the way. Some who care so deeply about us, me, my boys, my family, that they have previously not known what to say or how to help for fear of saying something "wrong" or inappropriate. And even more who although they may not ever know what our journey is, can relate in some other way - and reading that post encouraged them to open up to me by sharing their own thoughts, fears, emotions.

I appreciate whole-heartedly the concern that came my way after posting that entry. The phone calls, emails, messages, etc. mean the world to me. People finally understood that I was ready to talk about it openly and candidly. They felt comfortable doing so too. I hope to continue to be open about our journey. To let people know that although it may appear to be easy for us and it may appear that we are strong on the outside, no amount of strength can ever ease the pain of knowing your child will face so many surgeries, appointments, and uncertainties throughout his life.

So thank you to all who take the time to read about our family. Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for being there to listen (or in this case, read). It means a lot to me that so many people continue to care.

My little "Dose of Humor"

I submitted an old blog post to the weekly column "A Dose of Humor" that is featured on the 5 Minutes for Parenting blog, and guess what...they chose mine for this weeks post! Click on the logo to find out which story they found worthy of a little chuckle.