Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One Whole Year

Dear Tiny,

Last week we celebrated a huge milestone - a full year since you came home to us! It feels like you've been a part of the family forever, little one, but I can also VIVIDLY remember the unbelievable emotional roller coaster we were experiencing this time last year. And I'm pretty thankful we're not back at that point. 

From learning about you on a Friday (right after I had picked your sister up sick from school) to meeting you two days later and then you spending your first night two days after that, it was a whirlwind. We were - and remain - so incredibly thankful for you.

Your sister was smitten with you immediately and loves you even more now that you can interact more with her. The two of you have the funniest relationship and she has been teaching you funny faces - including the infamous "duck face" - since you were only a few months old. These days I find y'all watching movies, having staring contests and playing with the puppies. A lot.

You spent the one year mark getting some unexpected tubes in your ears. Bless your precious heart, you've had serious sinus issues for almost a year and the constant fluid build up was beginning to affect the function of your ear drums. Thankfully, you have suffered no hearing loss and came through the surgery like a champ. Just like you've weathered every other medical issue thus far. 

You also finished last week with a follow-up ROP exam and your eyes continue to look GREAT. You seriously could not be a more textbook perfect micro preemie, little one, as you have fought like crazy since the moment you were born. And, when Daddy was looking at your medical records the first night we met, he could not believe how little intervention you needed in the NICU. Apparently that doesn't happen very often. And he would know! :)

I think back to last year and how I could not wait to pick you up in the evenings and let you sleep on my chest until I had to get up and make dinner and, honestly, nothing much has changed about that except that you don't care to sleep all that much these days. (We also spent a lot of night feedings watching Bravo reality shows but let's keep that our little secret.) Each day this time last year was wrought with crazy emotions as we fought to keep you safe and found. And, while we're not at the finish line just yet, I could NOT be more thankful it is within sight.

Had we known all of the craziness that would occur along the way, I'm not at all sure we would have even believed some of the events possible. But I know this with every fiber of my being - every single person in your family would do it over and over and over again just to ensure your safety. From the very beginning, we knew we did not want to let you go. But - more than that - we prayed with all we had that God would allow us to save you from what we knew would be a toxic environment. And He has protected you at each and every turn.

You, my darling, are the answer to more prayers than I can count. You are constant motion. You love life. You do everything BIG. And, at 15 pounds, I can still snuggle you like an infant. Even as you begin to walk. And talk. LOUDLY. :)

I will forever be thankful for you and your sister. You have each saved me from craziness in ways you'll hopefully never truly understand. And my prayer remains the same - that we will be able to protect you moving forward. All the while loving you as well as you deserve.

My darling, precious girl - THANK YOU for being a constant reminder that God does not forget the greatest desires of our hearts. Even when we have given up on those desires ourselves. You will forever be one of the greatest surprises known to our family and I can't wait to see how many more mountains you will have conquered this time next year.

All my love,

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Taylor Favs

This girl, y'all.

She challenges me. Frustrates me. Makes me laugh. Hysterically. Is soooo much more mature than I even thought about being at her age. And she's also beautiful. And really has no idea.

Her IG selfies are somewhat legendary (among her peers) and they crack me up because she will hardly ever let me take pictures. But she'll snap approximately 1,384 of herself on any given day. And deem ONE good enough to post. ;)

She's quirky and witty. She knows what she likes. And what she does not. She doesn't feel much pressure to "fit in" or "be like everyone else." She's found her niche in FFA, loves her heifer and tolerates her goat most of the time.

She's an AMAZING big sister and Tiny thinks she hung the moon. She adapts to major life change almost seamlessly and even decided to give up volleyball this year to focus on the things that matter most. She loves Jesus, serves on Youth Council, loves little kids (as long as she can give them back), and recently decided to be a neonatal nurse.

And, just when I think she couldn't possibly make me more proud, she surprises me and blows me away once again. Like when she attacked high school the first semester and brought home her end of semester GPA - which was an A average. That's a HUGE accomplishment, y'all, for one who previously swore off school. And meant it. 

Now that's not to say we don't deal with teenage angst, attitude, a mouth that gets ahead of her at times (she gets that from her mom), messy rooms and errant grades. She's stubborn (sometimes for good and others not - like the rest of us) and WEARS ME OUT at times.

But there's no cooler kid on the planet. And the fact that I get to be her mom is one of my greatest blessings.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tiny Favorites

Found these favorites from the Christmas season today and really wanted to document them for posterity's sake. I'll do another post on my Taylor favorites as well because, y'all, that sweet girl is really coming into her own. She's beautiful and kind, funny and witty, intelligent and snarky...all at the same time.

Such is life with a teen, though.

But this one is about Tiny, who is the exact opposite of her older sister, y'all. She doesn't care for sleep, she is CONSTANTLY on the move, and is probably going to skip from crawling to running. If I thought the first year with a micro preemie was exhausting, well, I have no adjective for year two. And we haven't quite reached her adjusted age yet! :)

But she is sooooo precious...

...and curious. On this day, she learned about money. And how to empty my wallet in 0.4 seconds.

She's also become incredibly hard to entertain during church. Well, to my liking anyway. She wants to talk. Loudly. And would prefer to crawl under the pews to go visiting. Needless to say, we're lucky to make it until the preaching begins before the little one goes to play in the nursery. :)

She looooooves the puppies. Feeds them from her high chair, snuggles them, and supervises their eating time. Apparently.

She also spent a lot of time snuggling with Maw Maw when she was here for Christmas. Be. Still. My. Heart.

And her wonder at the lights (and only the lights - she had no use for ornaments or any other type of decoration) was the most innocently precious thing I've ever seen.

My thoughts these days are CONSUMED with "this time last year" because it's been almost a year since she unexpectedly came into our lives. I look at my TimeHop app and think "you had no idea what was coming." I also think back to those years when I was so angry, heartsick and anxious about the future and realize that there was absolutely no reason to waste all that time with unproductive emotions.

Now, that's a retrospective look. There's no way you could've convinced me of that at the time. And I'm so thankful that we were blessed with this little punkin. Though I cannot wait to meet the baby that wasn't able to join us here on earth, one thing that gives me comfort is that I KNOW where that baby is and that it's not suffering. I also know that we wouldn't have been open to Tiny joining our family if we were running after a toddler a year ago.

And it breaks my heart to think the one who snuggled with me during nap time yesterday could have had a totally different outcome. Sometimes it takes years to make peace with the hard, hard situations in life. This is one I've finally found closure in and I can't even begin to tell you how much of a weight that has lifted. :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas (Eve) Morning

Christmas Eve 2014 will probably go down as one of my favorite days EVER because it was just a sweet morning to share Tiny's first Christmas. Technically, it was her second but she wasn't with us the prior year and she was still in the NICU in December 2013 so she didn't get to do much celebrating.

Tonto had to work Christmas Day so Santa got the memo that he needed to come to our house a bit early. The good thing about her being so young is that I was able to keep her out of the living room until Tonto returned from the gym and Taylor woke up. Probably won't happen more than one or two times like that again but - for this year - it worked. :)

Santa brought three toys and filled stockings for the girls. We're still in our temporary home and it doesn't have a mantle so the stockings landed on the piano this year. Right along with the snow village.

And there was limited room there so the boys' stockings landed elsewhere. Again, it's temporary. And it worked. Which is really what the holidays were about for me this year. Enjoyment and not perfection.

This is how Taylor felt about pictures. And it makes me laugh every single time.

And, yes, Tiny's pajamas made it look like she was a wrapped present. She is one of the greatest gifts we've ever received so it was fitting.

There are more pics from this morning that I can't share (yet) but watching Tiny figure out her toys was adorable. We've not really gone all out on toys (up until Christmas anyway) so it was kind of new to her. And she REALLY figured it out by the time we opened presents at my parents' house later in the day.

We exchanged all of our inner circle gifts after enjoying what Santa brought and everyone was surprised so that was super fun. Because 1) we don't usually exchange gifts and 2) when we do, it's not generally a surprise.

After cleaning up for the day, we spent the afternoon and early evening at my parents' house having a traditional Christmas dinner and opening gifts. We came back in time for our church's Candlelight Christmas Eve and it was such a special time. Tiny LOVED the candles and, honestly, I spent a lot of those services wondering if there would ever be another baby in our lives. So to have it play out the way it always had in my dream, well, it was just a MOMENT.

Christmas Day was pretty low-key as Dave went back to work and Taylor spent the day with her dad's family. Tiny and I headed back to my mom's for the afternoon because my grandmother was leaving the following day. We also hooked up with Dave's sweet family a couple of days later to have dinner out and spend some time with the girls.

All in all, it was a laid back and relaxed Christmas holiday. Which was exactly what we needed after a year of ups, downs, roller coaster rides, uncertainty and anxiety. Worth it for our girl. And I would do it over again a MILLION times. But so good to take a minute and just regroup. Not gonna lie. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


After our portrait adventure through the atrium of the Gaylord, the older girls and I ventured into the much colder than usual ICE! exhibit to see Frosty the Snowman. It was also much more crowded than usual. WOWZA!

But it was fun and I'm so glad we did it. Even managed to get the girls to pose for a few pics...

This remains my very favorite part of each exhibit - the room featuring the nativity in clear ice. Love, love, love that both the Gaylord and Moody Gardens make sure the people who visit know the true meaning behind Christmas.

One last pic in front of the Frosty tree and we were off to Bass Pro Shops and Downtown Grapevine. But that's another story for another day because, you know, burning retinas... :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gaylord Atrium

One of our first orders of business over the holidays was to head to the Gaylord to see this year's ICE! exhibit. It's become a tradition for us and even though we saw one while we were in Galveston for Thanksgiving, I really wanted to continue the Grapevine piece as well because it's always such a fun day.

We began our day at Cheesecake Factory (also another tradition) and then headed over to the hotel. Because we didn't know exactly what time we would arrive (Dottie had to be delivered to the vet for breeding that morning AND toothless Tiny had a dentist appointment), I hadn't bought tickets prior to our arrival. Um...let's just say I'm gonna try not to do that again and we had some time to kill before our exhibit time. :)

So we did what we generally do at some point...explored the atrium. Well, the older girls and I did anyway. Tiny decided it was a great time for a long nap with her dad.

The decorations were beautiful as were my photo subjects. And there's not much commentary to add to these so just enjoy the photos...