Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Remembering Mimi

Jack and Harper,
This afternoon, after a very courageous battle, your Mimi slipped the bonds of this earth and went home to be with Jesus.

I know that at 22 months old you will not remember her, but you will know of your Mimi through our stories and pictures we have of the three of you together. You will grow to have a deeper relationship with your Mimi as you get bigger, but, sadly, that relationship will be with her precious memories and not with your Mimi as I knew her.

So, I wanted to sit down tonight and I wanted to write you this letter so you will understand more about this wonderful woman that we all will miss so much. When you’re old enough to read this, I hope you will revisit this letter often and notice something new each time, something that will help keep your Mimi close to your heart always.

The first thing I want you to know about your Mimi is that she loved to laugh. She loved to laugh until she laughed too much and snorted- just a little bit- and that would make her laugh even harder. She loved to laugh with her family; she especially loved to laugh at your dad’s silly jokes, and roll her eyes at what a “dork” your dad was being. Your daddy and your Mimi shared the same sense of humor. When your daddy makes you laugh, you can thank your Mimi for encouraging him to be funny. Mimi also loved to tease us- that is how you knew that she really liked you. If she would tease you and laugh, you knew you were in. Jack and Harper, she teased you both, and she would sing silly songs to you, and she loved to make you laugh, especially those deep belly laughs. As often as she saw you, she would find something to laugh about, and even the last time I saw Mimi, I was telling her stories about you two and she nodded her head and huffed- a little last laugh from your Mimi who loved to smile and laugh with you.

I want you to know that your Mimi was generous. She wasn’t a person who liked to brag about herself or things she had done, but she did some extraordinary things for her family. She moved at least six times to support your Papa in his career; she skillfully raised three beautiful children, volunteered at schools, served on PTAs, was room mom many times over, chaperoned field trips, stood outside in the cold to watch marching contests, baseball games, football games, soccer, and lacrosse. She was a dance mom (without the drama), a chauffer, a cook, a maid, a confidant, a best friend- a mom. Then, when her grandchildren came along, she generously gave of herself to help them in anyway possible. She made frequent trips to Chicago to see the Sloma kids- sometimes staying for months at a time. She was at the hospital when Emmy was born, anxious to meet her new granddaughter. But, I know most about her generosity with her time when she was with you, Jack and Harper.  When you meet your Mimi you were tiny, barely able to open your eyes, and your Mimi visited you. Even when she couldn’t hold you, she would sing to you and sit with you. When you were big enough to be held, she would rock you and comb your hair and calm you in a way only a grandmother could. Mimi would spend hours talking to you, and when you came home, she generously gave of her sleep to stay up nights with you and feed you, and console you, and walk the floor with you. Without your Mimi and her generosity, we wouldn’t have made it through your first year.

But most importantly, I want you to know that your Mimi loved you with a love that is vehement and eternal.  From the moment she laid eyes on you, John Alexander and Harper Marie, your Mimi loved you and protected you and gave everything she had to you and your cousins. When Mimi came to our house, it was all about you two and what you wanted to do and spending time with you. She sat for hours holding you and loving you through some of the scariest moments in the NICU and the most frustrating moments at home. When I would say that I wished things were different, Mimi would disagree saying that if Harper acted any differently, it wouldn’t be her nature and she was a little fighter already, or she would say that she didn’t mind holding Jack upright for 30 minutes after eating- it gave her longer to cuddle with him. Mimi knew how much you loved to read, so she got you a subscription to Highlights Magazine; I know that she loved to see how much you liked those magazines and how worn they were from hours of use. In fact, we got a card in the mail a couple of weeks ago that Mimi renewed your Highlights subscription. Even when she was sick, she was still caring for you and loving you and doing things to show you how much she loved you. Your Mimi was an amazing woman, and she has left a hole in our family, but it will be a hole filled with funny stories, warm memories, and lots of love and laughter, and all the things she hoped for you two.  If you could only know how much your Mimi loved you, Harper and Jack, how much she still loves you even now, from a place so beautiful that we could never imagine it with these earthly eyes. You will have an angel looking down on you, my precious babies, and one day you will throw your arms around your Mimi and you will laugh and dance with her in eternal glory.

Soon we’ll say our final goodbyes to Mimi, a wonderful lady who left us too soon, but you will always have the treasured pictures to show you how important you were to her, how loved you were by her, how wanted and special you were to your Mimi. Never forget that, Harper and Jack, never forget how much your Mimi loved you.

Love Always,

O Me! O Life!

BY Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend in Houston

Tony has spent the last week in Houston with his family as the health of Tony's mom has continued to deteriorate. We were hoping that this weekend we might be able to get the kids into the ICU to see their Mimi, so we packed up and headed to Houston for a visit. My mom was nice enough to travel with me,  my dad was a big help and watched Abby, and my sister and her family were nice enough to give us a place to stay.

We headed out Friday afternoon as soon as I got off work. Jack and Harper happily slept while I drove. Jack didn't get out his full nap- just about an hour or so, but Harper slept for almost three hours. While Harper slept, Jack looked out the window, talked to his reflection in the mirror on the seat, and sang along with the radio. We stopped to eat at The Olive Garden and made it to my sister's house about 8pm.  The kids happily played with their cousin, Sloane, and settled down for a late bedtime.

Saturday the kids got a special treat when they woke up and got to see Tony and play with him for a while before he headed back up to the hospital. They also got to see Sloane play her soccer game, and they got to see their cousin Wyatt who was back home after a sleepover the night before. Harper and Jack had a great time at the soccer game. Jack loved watching the soccer game and even got his hands on a ball to kick back and forth. Jack kept saying "soccer" "soccer" and kicking the ball- every once in a while he would yell "goal!" Harper, on the other hand, was more interested in the play ground right next to the soccer fields.  Harper insisted on climbing up the play structure and going down the slide- a big slide- meant for elementary school kids! Harper went down the slide all by herself and I caught her at the bottom- she looked worried and then laughed and insisted on sliding down again and again. In fact, the kids had so much fun playing at the soccer game, despite the cold temps, that they both cried when we told them we had to leave.

The rest of the weekend, the kids played with their cousins and we watched football, lit a fire, and enjoyed the company of our family. Harper and Jack also had a great time going through Wyatt and Sloane's playroom. Here are some pictures of cheerleader Harper and doctor Jack and doctor Harper. Harper even gave everyone a check up...including herself!

The kids also had fun popping bubble wrap that Eric had saved for them. Sloane was quick to show the kids what to do and Harper and Jack wanted to emulate everything she did- they went crazy popping those bubbles!

I am so thankful that the Sandbergs let us stay on such short notice. Sloane did a great job entertaining the little ones and I can't wait for the kids to see their cousins again. I am also very thankful to my mom who changed her weekend plans to be able to travel with us. The traveling would've been much different without her.

Despite our best efforts, the kids did not get to go to the hospital, but I did. I got to tell Debbie what the kids are doing, and hand deliver some pictures Durinda helped the kids make for their Mimi. I know that they didn't get to see her, but it felt good to have them in the same city, just down the street, just around the corner. I know that Debbie loves those kids fiercely; please continue to pray for her and for our family.

Here are the last pictures I took of the weekend and two little sleepy ones on our way home. What a beautiful sight.

Today is also World Preemie Day- Happy World Preemie Day, my loves. My how you have grown; we are so proud of you and the big fight and fiesty spirits you both have in those little bodies. Thank you, Lord, for our little preemies.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Big Kids

I know that I harp on the fact that the kids are growing up so fast, but tonight I went through some old blog posts and I was blown away by how much different they looked even in May than they do now. Harper's hair is so long, and Jack looks like a little boy now- no baby left on that kiddo.

In fact, this week I managed to snap a few pictures of things that made me take a step back and realize just how big Harper and Jack have gotten and how much they've learned, even in the couple of months.

Harper has been into playing pretend a lot lately. She loves to play with her Little People- the doll house especially. Harper also likes to play with her doll (a new discovery in the last few weeks), so Tuesday night when Harper was finished with dinner, she decided to feed her baby. I put the baby in the high chair and handed Harper a spoon- she then asked for a bowl and here are the results:

I couldn't stop shaking my head and smiling; this girl is a sponge just soaking up everything we say and do.

Jack also blew me away this week, but not with something he figured out; rather, it was a way that Jack used his body that surprised me. Jack was sitting on the kitchen floor after dinner the other night looking through a cook book. I looked up to see that he was sitting "cross-legged" on the floor. I rushed for the camera to document the first time I saw Jack sit like a "big kid".  Then tonight at dinner, Jack built a tower out of his bowl and cup- maybe he'll be an architect.

It seems like they are growing and learning a little bit each day. I know I say that almost every post, but that's the beauty of his blog- I can look back and see just how far they've come, and they have come along way- our little miracle babies.
One Year Ago

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Great Grandparents Galore

This weekend we had visitors from Oklahoma, Fort Worth, and Arlington. Tony went to Houston to be with his mom, and I stayed home to take care of the kiddos and my grandparents were in town, so Saturday we had the Great Grandparents out to see the kiddos.

Harper and Jack woke up Saturday morning to some boxes of clothes from Aunt J all the way in Chicago. I went through the boxes Friday night and the kids were excited when they saw the boots that came in the box. Here are some pictures of the kiddos modeling their new foot ware.

Before my family arrive,d we went on a run with Abby in tow. There is a big difference between running with the dog and running with the dog while pushing two kids in a stroller. Did you notice the footwear on these two?

When we got home, the kids took a bath and got ready for our guests- Jack even spent some time waiting by the window.

I think a good time was had by all. Jack has a great time going around the room naming everyone; we clapped each time he got a name right and then he got to where he'd just randomly shout out a name and then clap for himself. He did great with the name game and even knew that my grandparents from Oklahoma (that we only see a few times a year) were "Grandma" and "Grandpa".  Harper also had a good time with the great grandparents moving from lap to lap.

I was sad when I realized I didn't get a picture of Jack with Grandma and Grandpa or Great Granny, but then I saw this picture and realized he was busy when I was taking pictures.

Sunday morning the kids and I met our friends for breakfast and ventured out to the grocery store- we survived and made it home with all the groceries in one piece. The kids ate a good lunch, took a good nap, and then we decided to take Abby for a walk. I took this picture from my point of view so you can see that Jack took a spatula on our walk, and Harper decided to bring "baby" along with us.

We made it back from our walk in time to eat dinner and play for a little while before Tony got home. The kids were so happy to see Tony when he did get home tonight that Harper ran and leapt into his arms. Jack gave Tone a big bear hug and Harper brought her daddy all her Little People toys so they could play.

Overall, we had a fun weekend and I'm thankful Tony made it home safely. Please continue to pray for Debbie and our family- we greatly appreciate it. That's all for tonight- have a great week!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mid Week Update

After all the happenings of Halloween, this week has been pretty low key in terms of the kids' activity. Harper was also still feeling under the weather at the beginning of the week, and the weather was cold and rainy, so the kids spent most of the week playing inside. 

In fact, one of the most "exciting" things that happened this week was Harper's trip to Urgent Care on Monday night. She was throwing a fit because she didn't want to eat the dinner I'd made (pork chops and green beans...remember the post about how much she liked green beans? I guess tastes change day to day here). Harper got so worked up that she started coughing and wouldn't stop whining and refused to eat (all the things she did before she landed in the ER with breathing trouble last spring). So, Tony loaded her up and they went to Urgent Care while I stayed home with Jack. The good news was she had no fever, her blood oxygen level was good, and she stopped her temper tantrum.  The bad news was that she needed some medicine for bronchiolitis. She's been on the medicine for 3 days and is back to her normal self.

Harper's big accomplishment this week was saying her first full sentence. Durinda said that Harper was playing with her straw cup at breakfast and was trying to open the top so the straw would appear- she struggled, but got it done and Durinda said "You did it!" to which Harper replied "I did it!"  I have no idea how Harper knew to change the pronoun from "you" to "I", but she did and she's used "I" in declarative statements a few times this week. 

One more funny Harper story. She was wearing a Minnie Mouse sweatshirt today and she burped very loudly. I made a shocked face and said "who burped?" to which Harper replied "Minnie". Geez- passing the blame already! Jack better watch out, that's for sure.

I did manage to snap a few pictures of the kids this week doing silly and random things. 

We had to remove our fireplace screen and replace it with a baby gate to keep two little ones from climbing inside the fireplace. Now, however, the gate is serving a dual purpose- where do they come up with these things? 

Here is Harper modeling her footie PJ's with the cows. When I pulled them out of the drawer, she yelled "Moo!" Her favorite part is that they zip up- she keeps saying "zip" "zip"

Jack is also sporting the footie jammies in this colder weather. He was on the move!
I took this picture of Jack watching TV tonight because he looks like such a little man with his hands folded behind his back. I've seen my dad stand in front of a few TVs watching Ranger games just like this. Tony thinks he looks like he's in charge when he does this, and Tony calls him "General Jack"

The kids did get out this afternoon and took a walk with Durinda and collected acorns (which Harper proudly showed me when I walked in this afternoon "Mama Nuts!"). Harper also told me at dinner when I asked that she saw "dirt" on the walk- yes, I'm sure she did- silly girl. 

Here's how I spent my evening- what a great way to end the day...

That's all for the kiddos this week. Tony and I would like you to please keep his mom, Debbie, in your prayers. She is not in good health, and she would benefit from your prayerful support. Jack and Harper thank you for keeping their Mimi in your thoughts and prayers.