Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet Potatoes (and entirely too many pictures)

Caden has NOT been getting the hang of eating his rice cereal. At his 4 month check-up, they told us to start giving him a few bites each day to get him used to eating food and using a spoon. Lots of heart babies end up having feeding/eating problems, and I have been all stressed and worried because Caden just doesn't want anything to do with his rice cereal. He basically just lets it sit in his mouth and then grins at me and it all dribbles out. Cute, but not super effective for eating.

Finally, Adam convinced me to let him try sweet potatoes that he made using the Baby Bullet that Santa brought Adam Caden last year. I was skeptical, but it turns out that Caden totally loves sweet potatoes and eats them with much gusto. So apparently, he just doesn't particularly love rice cereal.

I'm also going to go ahead and apologize for the plethora of pictures. I went slightly overboard.

Just for fun, here's the picture of Jayci eating sweet potatoes for the first time. And here's the post I wrote with more pictures of our little drama queen.
Don't forget I'd love to share your heart baby's stories on the Pinterest board (email them to me any time!) And Ruth wrote a FAQ post to answer any and all your questions about what we're doing. CHD Awareness week is coming up soon!

Monday, January 30, 2012

What's Around the Corner

In the early hours of the morning, the only light in our room squeezes through the bamboo blinds from the streetlight on the corner. I wearily finish nursing Caden, and mix up his bottle. The sound of his little gulps break the quiet. I snap out of my reverie and realize I have been daydreaming of Caden's first birthday party. Hearts are strewn everywhere in brilliant, happy colors.  I come to the realization that somewhere in the past few weeks, I have turned a corner. And found myself staring into Caden's future with hope and anticipation. Where once I only saw a big question mark, and fears that were too terrible to name, I now begin to see hopes. Seeds of dreams for my son that I nourish with prayers and faith. 

 One foot in front of the other has been our journey for the past five and a half months. Grace for the day. Trust and dependence. But one foot in front of the other, as it turns out, still leads you SOMEWHERE. And I am pleasantly surprised by where I find myself today.

On New Years Eve, we were huddled around the fire pit, talking with the kiddos about their hopes and dreams for the new year (amidst gunshots peppering the night-quiet around us). And we went around the campfire, each of us sharing what we were most looking forward to in 2012. I said something sarcastic, like "Jayci not being 3 anymore" (because the tantrums and attitude, they are exhausting). But when we were laying in bed after ringing in the new year, I told Adam I thought that maybe what I was most looking forward to in 2012 was the possibility of beginning the adoption process. And I surprised myself with this ability to look ahead, to envision Caden turning a year old, and us continuing with our dreams of the family we felt like God was pointing us towards.

Suddenly everything that has happened with Caden was no longer all-encompassing. Huge? Yes. Scary and crazy? Definitely. Defining? For sure. But not everything. Not the end of his story, nor the end of ours.

Because from the beginning, Adam and I said that whether Caden lived one day or to be one hundred years old, we are better because of him. And we are. I have been astonished at the strength I found within myself. Caught off guard by my faith and trust, by an ability to do the unthinkable and push through the difficult.

And at sundown, when sun meets the horizon and with a Midas-touch turns all the world golden, so Caden has touched our lives from the first moment and transformed and enriched us completely. Bringing with him the gift of new morning, despite a dark night.

So even though I finally feel "unstuck," not constantly counting heartbeats or reliving the cicu, it doesn't take much to bring me back there. To flood my heart with fear and brim my eyes with tears. An ill-timed tv show, a scene from a book, words from an expectant mother, the smell of hospital soap, or a song on the radio. But that's ok, because I am NOT the same as I was. I am better. Stronger. Greater capacity for pain and fear, have carried with them greater capacity for compassion. For joy. I find myself able to enter into other's pain, particularly mothers, and walk hand-in-hand with them without having to turn away. And isn't that what Christ calls us to? Isn't that what He himself did?

As Caden finishes his bottle, I gingerly lay him in his bassinet. Gently, I lower myself back into bed, cringing as its creak breaks the early-morning hush, and Caden's small cries ensue.  Desperately clutching for a few more moments of sleep before Jayci wakes up, I pick Caden back up and snuggle him in bed, pulling him into the crook of my arm and breathing in his sweet baby smell.  His whole body is tense, fighting the lure back into sleep. I jiggle him and whisper in his ear until I feel him relax in my arms. His breathing evens and heart beats slowly, miraculously.

And I feel the Lord drawing me close. He whispers truth to me until I relax into His arms. Until I stop tensing against what He has for me, and rest in the shadow of His wings.  And I have hope for the future. Caden's half-birthday is almost here, and I know that the Lord's great plans for his life are only beginning to unfold.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Links, Updates, and Pictures

I hit a wall yesterday. And although I don't mean I literally ran into a wall, I certainly felt like it. Caden has been especially unwilling to sleep or be put down lately. And after nearly 6 months without a full nights sleep, lots of drama in the hood, and kiddos over a lot this week . . . I just crashed a little. Adam took the kiddos so I could sleep for like 2 hours yesterday morning. But it turns out that 2 hours doesn't make up for 6 months of sleep deprivation.

Anyways, I wanted to share a few links/reminders with you and catch up on my 366 project.

* First of all, I've been trying not to be annoying, and I figure most people who are going to vote already have, but there are still 2 weeks left to vote for me in the Glamour/Sally Hansen contest. The top 4 semi-finalists get a trip to NY and a makeover. Can I just tell you how badly I need both of those things? Oh and we would also get money for our ministry, which is even more exciting. SO if you have a minute, would you mind popping over and voting for me (I'm the very last picture)? Plus, Glamour donates $1 for each vote cast to DKMS, the world's largest bone marrow donor center whose mission is to recruit bone marrow donors to help save the lives of leukemia patients. Also, when you vote, you are entered to win a basket of Sally Hansen goodies. So fun.

* Secondly, I have the privilege of being a part of this special Pinterest challenge to raise awareness for CHD. I have been blown away by all the beautiful stories and gorgeous kiddos on the board. If you would still like to share your story, feel free to comment here or send me an email at Becca1612 at hotmail dot com. I spent some time today praying for each and every story posted, and it was such a blessing to me and a reminder that we are not alone in our journey as a "heart family."

* A quick update on the crazy-hood situation. Things have calmed down quite a bit, and several parents of kiddos were arrested, so please keep them in your prayers.

* Finally, here are the latest in my 366 project. I'm really enjoying taking pictures every day so far - it's the transferring and uploading part that's hard for me to stay on top of!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fighting for them

Two nights ago, Adam made a run to the grocery store because we needed some essentials. Like formula, ice cream and sour patch kids. Our fall from the sugar-free wagon is fodder for an entirely different post. Unfortunately, Adam neglected to bring along his wallet, and he ended up running home to get it and then heading back to the store (we really needed the formula). When he stopped in at home, I told him I had heard a single gun-shot that sounded really close by. Like made-me-jump-and-woke-Caden-up close by. Fifteen minutes later, he burst in the door, quickly measuring and shaking up a bottle to soothe Caden's insistent cries while informing me there was a huge fight behind our house (like half a block over). There were probably 30 people with baseball bats and 2x4s, and a glass bottle was thrown, almost hitting his car as he tried to inconspicuously inch the 4runner through the brawl.  He called the cops, who were already informed and on their way, and then went back out to make sure all the kiddos were ok, because the fight involved several households of kids we are especially close to.

As he hurried out the door, I urged him to be careful and then clasped Caden closer to my chest and tiptoed down the hall to peek in on Jayci. I gingerly opened the door, watching light spill across her face. She sleeps hard, emphatically sideways on the bed, her pink sock monkey clutched in her arms. I wince as I step on small toys and knock over a stack of books, bending to kiss her forehead. And my heart clenches as I think of the kiddos just a few doors down.

Earlier that day, one of the littlest boys knocked happily on the door during "older kids" hours. I opened it, and bent to hug him hello. His too-large sweater vest was inside-out and backwards. I smiled at him and scrunched my nose, anticipating his angst, when I gently reminded him that the elementary-school kids were to come over earlier, so we could do crafts and play Candyland and help with homework. Now the older kids were playing a loud and rowdy game of "presidents," while we tried desperately to remind them to play in turn. Tears immediately streamed down his cheeks while he pleaded and sobbed that he just didn't know. He was inconsolable, so naturally I caved, and invited him in for "just a few minutes." He quickly joined Jayci at her train track and happily accepted hot chocolate topped with two giant marshmallows.

I wondered what he was doing now. Was he peeking through his blinds that always hung askew, watching his family members swing baseball bats? Did he hear glass shattering as bricks were thrown through windows? Did he watch the cops pull up, wondering who they would put in the back this time? Because, rest assured, he was learning something from the fight, as surely as Jayci learns something when we offer her a time-out for talking back.
As I settle back onto the couch in the quiet and safety of our beautiful home, I feed Caden his bottle and whisper prayers for the kiddos. I wonder who will fight FOR them as fighting breaks out all around them. Who will rescue them from cycles, from habits they can't help but pick up, from using their fists (or baseball bats) to solve problems. And I am reminded of Exodus 14:14. Reminded of the days when Caden lay in the hospital, and I was helpless to rescue him.

And as surely as the Lord was fighting for Caden, I know He is also fighting for our kiddos. Through my tears, I hear Him whisper that He has sent US to fight for them. That we will show them grace. We will forgive them again and again and again until they start to wonder why we aren't picking up baseball bats, but offering hugs instead.

Adam reminded me the other day that God doesn't always rescue us from our circumstances. We can't take every child into our home and offer them a peaceful place to live. We can't always stop fights from breaking out, or guns from firing. Sometimes our babies are born with broken hearts, and sometimes our kiddos are born into broken homes. And we don't know WHY. But we do know that God doesn't leave a single one of us to face the brokenness alone. He promises to go with us, to be near to the brokenhearted, to answer our cries with peace that passes understanding.

His tangible nearness is the only way I don't tremble with fear, at the violence so nearby, at the future our kiddos inevitably face, and at the heart which seems so fragile in my son's beautiful chest. And we will walk with boldness and courage the paths He has set out for us, because our Caden, and our kiddos are worth fighting for.

"The LORD Himself will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  -Exodus 14:!4

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Faces of CHD: Pinterest Awareness Challenge

When Caden was born, I knew little to nothing about congenital heart defects. After his birth, diagnosis and surgery, I was blown away by the number of people who contacted me and said they, too, had a son or daughter with a chd. One of those people was my new friend Ruth from A Trip to Holland. She has put together something cool for Congenital Heart Awareness week, coming up February 7-12, and I'm excited to be a part of it. Her story, and how you can help is below . . . You can send your stories & pictures to me at Becca1612 at hotmail dot com if you want to participate. I'm looking forward to hearing all your stories and meeting your special heart babies (or kids or adults!)

As many of you know, I am the mother of two little girls born with congenital heart defects, known here as Superkid and Lily. I'm also an avid Pinterest pinner--I love collecting ideas and inspiration via Pinterest. Those two elements of my life had absolutely nothing in common...until today! With your help, I'd like to help promote awareness of and advocacy for children (and adults) with congenital heart defects by founding a Pinterest board devoted to sharing the stories of families affect by the #1 Birth Defect. The board is titled, "The Faces of CHD - Congenital Heart Awareness Week Feb 7-12, 2012."
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board, where people can "pin" pictures with captions to be viewed and shared by others. Because pinned items can be viewed by thousands of people, pinning pictures and brief stories about your experiences with CHD will bring awareness to many people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to personally meet anyone with a congenital heart defect. If we start pinning now, we'll have a thriving board by CHD Awareness Week, Feb. 7-12, 2012. If you already have a Pinterest account, you can find The Faces of CHD board here. If you would like an invitation to join Pinterest (it's free!), please email me: triptoholland {at} gmail {dot} com. For those of you who have been affected by congenital heart defects, here is how you can participate, with or without a Pinterest account.
    • Create a blog post that tells about your experiences with CHD. (Or you are free to use one that you already published.) Please make sure there is a picture of the heart child/adult in the post. Please link to the CHD Pinterest board in your post. (http://pinterest.com/ruth_h/the-faces-of-chd-congenital-heart-awareness-week-f/)
    • Send me a link to that post, either in the comments below or in an email (Becca1612{at} gmail {dot} com). Please include a brief (10 sentences or less) description of your experiences with CHD when you do. Make sure that description includes the heart warrior's name, age, and heart diagnosis. You could also include number of surgeries, favorite hospital, etc. As the founder of this board, I reserve the right to edit your description if necessary.
    • I will add one of the pictures from your post and your description to The Faces of CHD board. Pinterest members will be able to click on the picture and be directly linked to your blog post to learn more about living with CHD.
    • If you do not have a blog, but would like to be included on The Faces of CHD board, please email me and I'll provide an alternate means for you to participate. (Becca1612 {at} gmail {dot} com.
    • Feel free to grab a button below to add to your blog, so that your blog readers will learn about our awareness challenge and be able to participate.
A Trip to Holland

If you do not have an experience of your own to share, please show your support for those of us who do by pinning this post, viewing the Faces of CHD board, and repinning the stories you find there that touch your heart.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Monday, January 23, 2012

By the Book

It has been a really long time since I entered an I Heart Faces photo contest, but I thought I'd jump in today because I happened to have a picture from my 366 project (that I didn't end up using) of my little princess reading at her nana and poppop's house the other day. I realize it's not perfect, but it's unposed, and I love that she's wearing the ever-present princess costume while "reading" a book by her own choosing. I'm a bookworm myself, so I can only hope Jayci will always love reading as much as I do!
For more book pictures, be sure to stop by I Heart Faces.
*ps - did I mention that I Heart Faces showcased my little gallery wall the other day? It totally made my day week.
Photo Challenge Submission

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pictures, Links, Books Etc

I am currently nursing Caden and eating a sandwich while pecking away at my computer with one finger. That said, I just dont have a beautiful post in me today. I do have some things I'd love to share, but at this rate it would take me about 3 hours to type it. So today, you get a quick list, and some more pictures from my 366 project . . .

So far this year, I've read 4 books, and thoroughly enjoyed all 4. My sweet friend Kathryn lent me My Name is Ashler Lev and Cry, the Beloved Country. They were both beautiful. I also read Divergent and The Glass Castle.  I would recommend all 4 books, although Divergent was probably my least favorite - I felt like it was so much like The Hunger Games, except not nearly as good. Speaking of the Hunger Games, I don't think I've been this excited for a movie in a long time. Loved, loved, loved the books. If you haven't read them, you definitely should. Definitely.

Speaking of reading, I wanted to share some of my favorite blog posts that I've stumbled onto recently. They are all worth your time. And the one from Big Mama makes me giggle just thinking about it.

A harvest of what is yet to come (Katie Davis for (in)courage)
On Gifts and Talents (Momastery)
There's a Sirious lack of communication (Big Mama)
How to talk to kids about race and racism (Rage Against the Minivan)

And finally, here are the latest from my 366 project. Previously, I called it a 365 project, but then I realized that 2012 is a leap year.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Divine Dissatisfaction

 "So, I conclude by saying again today that we have a task and let us go out with a "divine dissatisfaction." Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. 

Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. [,et us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. 

Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family is living in a decent sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality, integrated education. 

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity. 

Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character and not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied. 

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol houses a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy and who will walk humbly with his God. 

Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. 

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied. And men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth."  

-- Martin Luther King Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Georgia 1967.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Our house this year

Y'all know that for virtually the entirety of 2011, we were homeless. Ok that's not true, we HAD a house but it wasn't liveable and Adam, along with his dad, was busily busting it up and rebuilding it so we could live in the former crack-house. We lived with family and friends for a year. And it was beautiful and hard and lovely and terrible all at once. But 2012 brings with it some fresh starts in our new house. Granted, we've been here for a good 5 months now, but things with Caden kept us from finishing all the things we left unfinished before moving in. And we are just beginning to have the ability to move forward with finishing those things. Maybe.

I wrote a nice list on our chalkboard message center of our house goals for the year, in hopes that Adam might read them and get to work on them. Oh I kid, I just liked crossing off "gallery wall in Jayci's room." Unfortunately, one or more of the kiddos discovered the chalkboard and here's what our list looks like now. Lovely, but not exactly helpful in the house goals arena.
So I've decided to document our goals here. Again, in hopes that Adam will read it and finish stuff for me, while I sip hot chocolate and eat sour patch kids (now that sugar is BACK baby! Only in moderation now, of course. ha). 
I will also say that I have absolutely no illusions of creating a perfect home. We are messy people, and we like to live in our home. Plus it's usually full of rambunctious children. But I do, however, enjoy creating a beautiful space, and hope that it helps the kiddos see what a "home" can look like. Without further ado (finally, geez), here are our 2012 home goals:

1- Finish our master bathroom vanity. This one is squarely on Adam and his dad, so I'm trying not to be impatient. But they're using these plans if you're interested.
2- Paint chalkboard wall in Jayci's room. Then add bedskirts and window shades and call it finished. Oh and hang the cute mobile I'm determined to make. 
3 - Hang a door on our linen closet. It's currently door-less, and messy. And I firmly believe it is contributing strongly to the generally cluttered feeling of our home.
4 - Figure out a solution to the COATS ALL OVER THE PLACE AND SHOES TOO issue. Some sort of entry-way-hanging-things (hooks, coat rack etc).
5 - Office/organize/workspace. Both Adam and I both work from home. Unfortunately, as of right now we don't have an extra room to use as an office. So I need to figure out a solution for this problem as well. Because it's disastrously unorganized currently.
6 - We desperately, DESPERATELY need a BIG dining table and more chairs. Two of our 4 dining chairs broke, leaving us with 2 nice chairs at our small pedestal table. We also have two folding bamboo chairs, which are broken on the bottoms, but bring our chair count to 5. Did I mention that we have 4 adults and 2 kids living in our household currently? Plus many many kiddos who would like to sit around our tiny table and play games? So we need to solve this issue asap.
7 - We need more seating in our living room. Again with the too-few-seats-for-too-many-people thing.
8 - Get rid of this armoire in our master bedroom (it's beautiful, but too big and we NEVER use it for the tv inside. on that note, if you're interested in buying it - shoot me an email!) Get another dresser instead, and build or make something to store/hang/display my jewelry so I might actually wear it. (I was too lazy to go close that drawer when I was taking pictures) . . .
9 - Hang our barn door. This will allow us to close off our bedroom, bathroom, and Jayci's room from the rest of the house and hopefully give us a little more breathing room with a space of our own that is kiddo-less.
10 - I feel as though there are more goals but this is getting ridiculous. How do we have so much to do still?! But don't worry, we are totally still completely enjoying our house in the meantime and not stressing at all over what's undone. And that's all that really matters, right?

We also have some pretty major outside goals for our house (which I mentioned involve chickens and vegetable gardens) . . . but I'll save those for another day.

Also, thanks again for all your votes for the Glamour/Sally Hansen Best of You contest. I have no idea if I'm in first or last place as of now . . . but voting continues until February 13th, so I really appreciate y'all spreading the word!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The first 12 days of 2012

First of all, thank-you so ridiculously much for your amazing support and for voting for me, tweeting, and sharing on facebook to vote for me for the Glamour contest. I was moved to tears by y'all. I feel like I already won because you guys are just so sweet and encouraging. Thank you. Seriously. 

Voting is still open until February 13th, and you can only vote once. So if you wouldn't mind continuing to spread the word, I'd be oh-so-grateful.

Secondly, I have decided, belatedly, to try and do a 365 project this year. Let's just go ahead and admit, however, that odds are good I wont necessarily remember or have the gumption to upload pictures every single day, so we will see how it turns out. But for now, here are the first 12 days of the new year in pictures.

 (I was totally inspired by this blog, and also totally obsessed with her wardrobe . . . )


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