Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Can Only Imagine

We talk about it.

Sights and sounds and smells and feelings and tastes.
We call them heavenly.
Husbands and babies and mamas and earth angels. We call them heaven sent.
A baby's velvet skin, my Mimi's nana puddin, waves crashing into the sandy shore, mountain sunsets, starry nights, a baby's scent, a friend's love, Sunday worship.
But these aren't really heaven.
Yes, they are wonderful.
Maybe even glimpses of heaven that God gives us to show us that this life here is a mere fraction of heaven, of the home He has prepared for us.
I know what heaven means for me.
An eternity of worship.
Like the lyrics of "Amazing Grace" proclaim,
"When we've been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we've no less days to sing God's praise,
than when we first begun."
I know what heaven means for my precious friend's mama who went home to be with Jesus this week.
Her body no longer hurts from the cancer that overtook it so rapidly and so violently.
She's new and whole and cancer free and running and jumping and singing and praising her Creator.
Her Healer.
I know what heaven means for my sweet Nanmama.
She no longer suffers from Alzheimer's.
Her brain is new as new.
Her thoughts are whole and not jumbled.
She speaks with clarity and sings with the voice of an angel.
She is one of His most beautiful. With her white curls, and green eyes. And, I'm quite certain, there may still be specks of dirt under her fingernails from days spent tending to her Black Eyed Susans and prized Hydrangeas.
But what does heaven mean for Baker?
Someone said to me, that for Baker, heaven meant restoration.
That, in heaven, he would be made well.
I was taken aback by this.
Mainly, because I hadn't really considered it.
I don't think of Down Syndrome as a debilitating disease like cancer or Alzheimer's.
Yes, it is a physical and mental disability.
But, do I think God messed up on Baker?
That my little is not exactly who he was created to be?
That he isn't whole?
Not even for a fraction of a second.
And this little boy, while not perfect in the eyes of the world, is most assuredly perfect in the eyes of his Creator, and his mama who loves him oh so much.
Will God accept my child, His child, into heaven just as he is?
Or will he be transformed into someone else?
Someone with a different body?
Different features?
Different abilities?
Will his almond eyes lose their shape?
Will his cuddliness, almost smooshiness, that is a result of hypotonia, go away?
Will he stand erect, or have the lean that molds his body to mine?
Here's what I think.
I think I am a human, with a very finite, human brain.
I think heaven is something I can only see through earthly eyes.
I cannot fathom eternity as the Bible describes.
I think when we enter the gates of heaven, our earthly bodies are transformed into bodies that are designed to worship our Savior.
Bodies that can sing and dance and rejoice for all of forever.
So, while his almond eyes, and squishy body, and little lean I have come to crave, are things I adore, they are not things that are necessary for worship.
I would love to know your thoughts on this.
I would love even more if your thoughts were accompanied by Scripture.
I would love even more if you would pray that Brian and I are raising a son that will spend eternity in our forever home, heaven.
I can only imagine.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Post Just Because...

...there will never ever be another Thursday, February 26
when Baker is 9 months and 15 days old.

So, today is special.
Just because.
I am thankful I get to slow down and savor these precious moments.
And celebrate random Tuesdays, just because.

Baker's school is celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday.
Today is Crazy Hat Day.
The mom and elementary teacher in me loves this!

Don't ask about yesterday.
Mommy fail number 981 - I missed Crazy Sock Day.
Little strutted in looking very dapper, but very uncrazy
in his brown socks matching the brown teddy bear on his sweater.

I'll give you two guesses who picked out his hat, but I think you'll only need one.

Tonight, Baker decided to do something brand new, 
just to remind us that even Tuesdays are special.

He picked his cup up off his tray and just drank.
Like it was no biggie,
Like he had done it hundreds of times before.

I love this precious boy.
I love celebrating Tuesdays and firsts, just because. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Knock, Knock

Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
Orange, who?

Orange you glad it's the weekend?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First Day Jitters

As a classroom teacher, I always welcomed my new batch of students with a favorite picture book, First Day Jitters.
It tells the story of a girl, Sarah Jane Hartwell, who lives with her father. He tries over and over and over to awaken her and get her ready for the first day of school. She belabors the inevitable, feigning a headache, shortness of breath, and fears of fitting in. Her father victoriously wins the battle, and they arrive at school. She is greeted by her principal, and shown throughout the school, where she is finally introduced to her new class. What the reader does not become privy to until the very last page, is that the girl, Sarah Jane Hartwell, is not a student on the first day of school, but a teacher.
This was always a welcome story for the students to hear - that their teacher also had apprehensions about the first day of school. Who would her teacher neighbors be? Would her students greet her with a smile, or a frown? Would her principal let her buy Cokes out of the vending machine? Would the lunchroom have something yummy to eat? Would she get a bathroom break? (The answer to the last one, always no. Always no on the first day of school. There are no bathroom breaks on the first day of school - and typically the second, third, fourth, or fifth either.)
Change is always scary.
As much as I wanted to get married, I had dreamed of getting married, I had practiced walking down the sidewalk in my mama's veil as a curly haired, freckle faced, little girl.
I loved me some Brian Bell, that's for sure!
But, getting married was scary.
I had never lived with a boy!

Then, after being married, we decided we wanted our family of two to become a family of three.
And as much as we wanted a baby, we had dreamed of a baby, we had uttered baby names while brushing our teeth, eyed layettes and john-johns while browsing our favorite downtown shops, envisioned rocking and patting and cuddling a wee little body to ours.
But, adding a baby to a fairy tale love story was scary.

Not nearly so drastic as getting married, or having a baby, we experienced a change this week.
But, if I'm being honest,
it's not just the big changes that are scary, sometimes even the smallest changes cause the most angst.

Baker began a new preschool on Tuesday.

There were First Day Jitters, for sure.
But, there were smiles, and giggles, and yes, there were even bathroom breaks, many in fact!

We got home yesterday evening, and Baker was positively giddy!
He sat in my lap and "talked" for a solid 20 minutes.
Everytime I tried to transition,
he said more.
I could imagine he was telling me about his new teachers, and how he got to take a ride in the Bye-Bye Buggy, and how he smiled real big for his picture on the door, and how he got to sit in this really cool high chair, and how he made all these new friends, and how, even his therapist, Mrs. Deborah, came to see him at his new school. He talked and he talked, and he laughed, and he grinned, and then he conked out!

Shortly after Baker fell asleep, my phone rang.
I didn't answer, as I was savoring holding my sleeping baby.
But, as soon as the chime signaling a voicemail sounded, I listened.
I listened to the message of his sweet teacher that I may forever save.

She told me of my boy, and how much she already loved him.
And how his smile brightened the whole room.
And how the other teachers came from around the school to meet her Baker Boy.
And how the other children in his class played peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and sang "Wheels on the Bus" with him.
And then she told me she couldn't wait to see him again.

This morning, when I walked him in, his eyes lit up,
those little chunky legs started pumping,
and he started talking and grinning,
and while it still hurt me to leave him, it hurt a little less knowing he was so happy.

And while change is scary, change can be very, very good.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just Another Day in Paradise

Oh, how glorious it was to turn the alarm clock off this morning.
Happy President's Day!
My sweet husband got up with Baker this morning so I could sleep for a few more blissful minutes.
Bliss indeed.
I heard that sweet sound drifting over the monitor shortly after six.
I could hit the snooze button for hours, but
it only takes a few times of him calling me by my favorite name to awaken me from my slumber.

I tiptoed across the house and peeked into his room.
I called his name, "Baker, Sweet Baker Boy."
And y'all, that smile.
This mama just can't take it.
The combination of that little gummy grin and him whispering my name.
It's all I can do not to pinch myself to awaken from a most wonderful dream.
Every morning is the same.
I thank the Lord for this precious gift, the gift of a child, the gift of my Baker, and the gift of getting to be his mommy.
When you start each day reminded of that incredible blessing, it's hard for it to be anything other than a slice of paradise.

We ate breakfast, did some Monday morning snuggles,
and then Little Man went back to sleep.
And I got to hold him the whole time!
Love Mondays.
 Love Monday holidays.
Love days home with my boy.

I bid Brian farewell, and welcomed my mom to spend the day with us.

Baker woke up just in time to get dressed and load up the car.
We started off the day with Speech Therapy at 9:00.
They conducted an evaluation and are proposing Speech Therapy once a week.
I am super pumped about this!
We all learn so much from these sessions.
And I just love watching Baker interact with his therapists.

Then we bundled up to head on to our next destination.
It was a blustery day here!

We then headed to the new school Baker will begin tomorrow.
We set up his bedding, and unpacked his bags, and met his new teachers, and played with his new friends.

By the time we got in the car, he was zonked!
Us too.

We came home and Baker took at 3 hour nap!
Nana was in hog heaven holding her grand, and I coughed incessantly worked on lesson plans for my class.

When Baker woke up, we had lunch

and then some serious play time on the floor.
There was laughing and reading and singing and hugging and wardrobe changes.
We love when Nana visits!

We went back to the hospital for Physical and Occupational Therapy at 3:00.
This was by far one of the best sessions ever!

They hung a swing from the ceiling and my boy was justa swinging!

What you can't see here are the two pretty girls sitting in the doorway.
Can you see that look he's giving them?
I'm in big trouble.

And for your viewing pleasure.

You're welcome.

By the time he finished with his third therapy session of the day, my boy was tuckered out and his Nana was happy to oblige.

After a power nap, it was time for Nana to head home. 
There were a few tears shed.
I may be a mama now, but it still breaks my heart to see mine leave.

The rest of the evening has gone quickly.
Brian bathed Baker while I finished cooking supper.
We had a picnic on the floor while Baker played.

My biggest sweetheart is currently singing my littlest to sleep with "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys."

Just Another Day in Paradise, indeed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Little Piece of Quiet

My littlest love and I stayed home from church this morning after a wonderfully busy weekend of showering friends and their little bundles of joy.
I hate to miss church.
We have the most wonderful small group Bible Study.
Married friends, some with babes, some without.
Some newly married, others having celebrated their "I dos" many times.

While our lives look quite differently from the outside,
our hearts all connect so beautifully, so perfectly.
We share our fears, our joys, our struggles, our children's hand-me-down clothes,
our recipes, our homes, our lives.
They were there for our first adventure on the Polar Express,
and for the Buddy Walk, and for meals and hugs and encouragement when we brought Baker home.
These girls, and their husbands, and their children.
We love them.

 But sometimes, days of rest are good for the soul.
This morning, with Baker sleeping soundly on my chest,
the crackling fire warming our living room,
I had church.
Right here, in my house.
I sang, and celebrated, and worshiped our Creator, Provider.
Oh, the Lord, He is good and His mercies endure forever.

This past week was busy, busy, busy.
And when my days get too busy, busy, busy, my immune system shuts down.
It only happens once or twice a year,
but when it does,
it shuts down hard and fast.
I know it's my body's way of telling me to take it down a notch, or three.

I finally went to the doctor this afternoon.
 I NEVER go to the doctor.
And with good reason.
But, after waking up Friday morning feeling like I'd swallowed a pine cone and then losing my voice,
I decided it was time to go.
Two and a half hours, two prescriptions, one shot, and $268 dollars later, the doctor said what I already knew - "Slow down, Jennifer."
I have a nasty sinus infection, laryngitis, and strict orders to rest my body and my voice.
I hate not having a voice; while my dear husband is savoring every silent second!

In this little piece of quiet, Baker's laughter and sweet sounds are resonating throughout the house.
I'm okay with that.

I love this baby boy more than words could ever convey anyhow.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sealed With a Kiss

Sending hugs and kisses 

and smiles galore.
From our family to yours, 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nine Month Baby Boy

How, oh how, is my sweet Baker already nine months?
Some days, I feel like the past nine months, 268 days, 6,432 hours, 385,920 seconds have gone by in the blink of an eye,
other days, it feels like I've been a mommy my whole life.
This role is so natural.
So much a part of my being,
that I cannot imagine life without Baker.
Blazing fast, or slow and steady, being a mommy is the most incredible gift.
I am loving every day, every hour, every minute, every second.
I had planned on some cutesy nine month pictures, but since my handsome little fell asleep tonight at 6:06,

look at these from Sunday, or these last Monday (disregard the terribly inappropriate potty humor), or even these from the previous Friday.
What he's doing now...
Baker is a social bug!
I wonder where he gets that?!?
He "talks" all the time.
The two words he uses consistently with meaning are "Mama" (or "Mum") and "Dada."
He also says "baba" - but I think this just feels good rolling off his lips.
He is making all kinds of sounds at various pitches and holding them until he literally runs out of the breath. It is the cutest thing!
He also blows raspberries at everything.
If he sees me smile or giggle at something, he makes this sound over and over and over. He loves making people smile and I love that he loves to make others happy!
I tell him everything I am doing, everywhere we are going, and he just listens like he understands every single word. If I dare pause, or ask a question, he is quick to answer and let me know his full thoughts on the subject.
Baker is also signing more frequently.
He consistently uses "hungry,"
and is beginning to sign "drink," "Mama," "Dada," and "more."
We are working on signing more. The ones we have introduced and are reinforcing more consistently are "ball," "bath," "sleep," "cold," "hot," "dog," "please," "thank you," "yes," "no," and "good."
Baker does not discriminate on food!
He loves food and would probably eat as often as I would feed him.
He is currently taking five bottles per day.
Each bottle is between six and seven ounces.
He is also eating like an elephant.
They eat a lot, right?
And anything in sight? If so, then yup, an elephant!
He started showing signs of a wheat allergy a few weeks ago
- nothing serious -
just a runny nose, dry, rosy cheeks, and watery eyes -
 but nevertheless, we discontinued all food items with grain.
We substituted the typical oatmeal for a container of Yo Baby pear or banana yogurt and when I say Baker is goo goo over yogurt,
I am not even doing his love of breakfast justice.
It's my favorite meal of the day to feed him!
For lunch, he has two vegetables, and for dinner,
 two vegetables and one fruit.
Boy hasn't tried one thing he hasn't LOVED!
So far, he's eaten cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash, green beans, Lima beans, English peas, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, avocados, pears.
Honk shoos.
You know, sleeps, snoring.
My boy snores and I love it to pieces.
Him sleeping on my chest, breathing slow, rhythmic breaths,
is one of the most peaceful, heartwarming sounds my ears have ever heard.
Baker sleeps well.
He naps throughout the day and sleeps from about 6:30 in the evening until 6:30 in the morning.
I am so thankful for this!
We still rock him to sleep.
He's my baby, my first baby, my only baby, and at the end of the day,
there is nothing I love more than rocking him to sleep.
He still goes to Physical and Occupational Therapy twice a week for one hour visits, and Speech Therapy once a month (but we are due for a reeval, and I think we'll increase to twice per month).
I get told all the time he looks like me.
Don't tell Brian, but this thrills me to no end!
I mean, have you seen him?
He's the most precious thing EVER!

This is probably going to sound bizarre, but I'm his mommy and I can be bizarre.
All of a sudden, Baker's breath smells like breath.
Like it has a smell, not just baby, but a real smell.
And it's perfect.
So good, I could bottle it.
I told you, bizarre.
But, to me, delicious.
Absolute perfection.
My Baker Boy loves life.
Bath time, playing on the floor, sitting in his high chair, talking, laughing, being tickled, bouncing, rocking, reading.
He is a gift.
His presence in our lives is the greatest present - you see what I did there?
Clever, huh?
The past nine months.
I have a feeling they are just a mere glimpse of the joy and love we will experience through sweet Baker's life.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Raining on Sunday

In the words of my favorite Aussie,
"I pray that it's raining on Sunday, storming like crazy..."
Because it means canceling plans and errands in favor of making memories.

I could get used to rainy Sunday afternoons.

We got home from a fabulous weekend in Birmingham with friends early this afternoon.
We literally walked in the door, dropped our bags, put on our pajamas, 
and made a pot of coffee.

There were tickle fights and snuggles with Daddy.

There were raspberries blown.

There were books read and toons watched.

There was splishing and a splashing in his new bathtub toy from his sweet Aunt Debbie.

Oh, these sweet, wrinkled feet.

There were jam sessions played.
You better watch out, this boy is ready to take his show on the road!


Now, there's snoozing.
Loud, restful snoozing.
Evidence of a good day. 

With a busy week ahead, I needed this day.
A day of rest.
A day of precious moments.
A day of hugs and kisses and tickle fights.
All captured on this last day of my little being 8 months.

Sweet, rainy day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jesus Calling - Worry, Worry, Worry

I love Kevin Henkes.
You have likely heard of his bestseller, Chrysanthemum.
He writes children's books and is very good at what he does.
Each of his books has a central theme that is great for incorporating into daily lessons with children.
Of his characters, I wish I could say I identify most with Chrysanthemum or Lilly, or even Penny, but unfortunately, it's Wemberly.
If you aren't familiar with Wemberly, she stars in the book,
Wemberly Worried.
And the repetitive line appearing throughout the book,
"worry, worry, worry, too much worry"
is me.
Admittedly, ashamedly, me.
In most things, but especially with Baker, I worry.
Worry that I am not being the mother he needs,
or what the future will hold,
or that he is suffering because I am a working mom,
if it's not this, it's that.
But I have one worry that overshadows the rest.
I have this fear.
A huge fear.
Like an all-consuming fear that overtakes my whole body.
It hurts.
It wakes me up in the middle of night.
It draws tears, sometimes incessant tears.
It brings me to my knees.

Worry, worry, worry, too much worry.

My sweet Baker Boy is healthy.
I know that.
He's had blood work, and ultrasounds, and brain scans, and heart checks.
His therapists do surveys and evaluations and analyses.
All reports confirm his health.
This gives me tremendous peace.

But then I read a statistic, or I remember something I once heard, or someone else shares their story.

Children with Downs are more likely to have leukemia, and cardiology problems, and severe thyroid issues, and this, and that.
The list goes on and on and on.
And the fear spreads.
What if?
What if the doctors are missing something.

Worry, worry, worry, too much worry.

Because of these trends, I dread simple doctors visits.
What if this finger prick reveals something terrible?
What if the doctor placing the cold metal of the stethoscope on his chest evidences a heart murmur?

Worry, worry, worry, too much worry.

The Lord did not create in us a spirit of fear, so I know it is not of Him.

I absolutely love Jesus Calling.
And my love for this devotional absolutely grew as the first few entries for February have spoken just to this fear.

I love how Jesus provides just the right words, from His Word, at just the right time.

Great is thy faithfulness.

"Look to The Lord and His strength; seek His face always."
Psalms 105:4

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you 
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-6
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear..."
Psalms 46:1-2

Worry, worry, worry, too much worry,
no more.

Tonight, I am praying for the mamas and babies whose finger pricks have revealed something devastating.
I feel honored to pray on their behalf.

Tonight, I am praying that God remove this fear in me, and allow me instead to celebrate the blessings of health and trust in Him and His plan for our future.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord.
'Plans to prosper you, not to harm you,
plans to give you a future and a hope.'"
Jeremiah 29:11

Tonight, I am thankful for a God who serves as Hope Giver, Peace Provider, Healer, Great Physician, Strength Supplier, Comfort.

Because, in sickness and in health,
in abilities and disabilities,
He is God.
And I will praise His name.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Roses are Red

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And being Baker's mommy is too.
Cheesy, yes.
True, yessirreebob!
I was as cheesy growing up as I am now.
I loved making up "Roses are Red" poems,
and even,
as awful as this sounds,
diarrhea poems.
Thanks Mom for inspiring my creativity through these lovely words.
Don't even pretend you didn't quote these fragrant lyrics too.
"When you're riding in a Chevy, and you feel something heavy..."
"When you're climbing up a ladder, and you feel something..."
I could go for days.
Oh. Em. Gee.
Stop. Me. Now.
Or go round up your kiddos (or your husband, for that matter)
and have a "load" of fun making up your own.
It's addicting!
Happy February!
Happy Love Month!
Happy Creating Silly Poems to Make People Smile Month!
Happy Chocolate, and Cards, and Flowers Month!
Happy, Happy, Happy.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Favorite Things Friday

I told y'all I wouldn't wish the week away.
And I didn't, honest!

But that doesn't mean this mama ain't positively giddy the weekend is finally here!
Yeehaw, y'all!

Little Nugget is trying so, so hard to crawl.
Just can't quite figure out what to do once he gets on all fours.
I'm totally okay with this.
Just saying.

While crawling is still a mystery,
Bake's got this sitting up thing down.

Even gets a little bored with it, so, he plays with his toesies.
Free toys, wahoo!

In the sunlight, he's got a teensy bit of an Auburn tint to his hair.
Just like his mama.
But let's clarify - that's the only Auburn my boy will ever be wearing.

Mama's eyes, daddy's eyelashes.

My boy.
Mine all mine.

We're celebrating a BIG time answered prayer this weekend!
I am so thankful for a God who is and does immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.