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Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year

I thought that I was going to be happy to see this year go... but what I'm seeing is that it's harder than I thought. Never again will there be a year in which I held and snuggled and kissed our CatieBug... never again will there be a year in which we hear her infectious laugh or her sweet voice. It's hard to let go of the last year we'll have that. In some ways that sounds so silly, It's been more than 11 months since we've had it, but... she was here for a tiny piece of 2007 and she won't be here, at least in flesh, for any of 2008. Somehow that makes me miss her more and it's hard to celebrate the end of this year.

I remember New Year's Day last year. It was on a Sunday. We had some visitors and it was Catie's last really decent day. We played some Uno and she kicked some hiney (some of you reading this remember that b/c you were there!!)... I think we made cards that afternoon w/ her new mega card making kit. I remember curling up w/ her in the hospital bed that night and wondering if it was the last New Year's Eve I would have with her. Little did I know that she only had 2 Sunday nights left. Oh how we miss her so.

This year truly has been one unlike any other and I'm thinking there won't ever be one like it again. It is difficult to put in to words exactly what this year has been. It has been such a mix of joy and sorrow that I still don't think I've completely grasped it. We know that God has sustained us and held us this year and we know that he continues to hold us tightly in the palm of His hand. We know that will not change w/ the flipping of the calendar page and for that we are so grateful.

CatieBug, I know there is no time where you are or at least that time is not significant... it's those Heaven eyes you're lucky enough to have.... remember your measly ole mom down here just gets brief glimpses through those eyes. Tonight I will hold on to the guestbook entry I think of so often when it seems like so long until I get to hold you again and feel your hand in mine and feel your fingers hold my ear (Izzy did that tonight:)... Someone wrote one time that they think that the way time is in Heaven that when Daddy and I get there and we see you again, it will have only been the blink of an eye to you... you'll be just turning around to look over your should for the first time to tell us to, "hurry up" b/c we're missing all the fun... just as if you ran ahead of us at the playground... I love that, and even though it feels like MUCH, MUCH longer down here... tonight I will dream of a place where hundreds of years are but a blink of an eye.... a place where you are enjoying eternal happiness... a place where we will see you again. We love you!

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Izzy is MUCH better! She was a PUNY girl for a good 3-4 days, but she is back to herself, all chatty and busy and giggly again. I knew she was better when the sparkle was back in her eyes when she woke up yesterday morning. We're so glad she's back to feeling like herself. We'll post some Christmas pictures soon.

*******

We hope this year brings nothing but good things to you and yours.... joy, good health, laughter, and wonderful memories. We hope to continue to learn from Catie and Izzy and to continue to move forward adjusting to Catie's loss... there's still so much to process even almost a year out. We hope to be just the parents Izzy needs and to guide and love her in the ways that she needs. Oh how lucky we are to be her parents. Something tells us we'll learn a lot from her this year!! :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Little Bit of Everything

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Ms. Izzy mastered the art of tearing of paper and the removal of bows. As expected her favorite things were boxes!! She has also enjoyed climbing in and out of the wagon that Santa brought her (it has a door on it -- she's not going over the side... yet!). We missed Ms. Priss, but we are ever so thankful for Christmas and the birth of Baby Jesus. His birth, death, and resurrection are the reasons we KNOW we'll see her again.

We've all been battling colds and Ms. Izzy's finally got the best of her and landed her at the doctor's office yesterday. She's battling throat and sinus infections w/ rather impressive fevers. It's down to low grade this morning, so that is good. Hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon and she'll be back to her regular spunky self. It's so strange to have her be content to just sit in my lap!! It's still so strange to "be allowed" to stay home w/ a fever. We were so used to fevers landing us in the hospital that "normal" can still feel odd. But... "normal" is ooohhhh so good!

We're rapidly approaching the anniversary of Catie's Heaven Day. Yesterday was 1 year since she went inpatient for the last time and it's now been more than a year since she slept in our house. Christmas night was her last night at home. There's definitely a lot of remembering this time last year going on and that will get harder in the next couple of weeks. It's hard remembering how sick she was and I just hope and pray she doesn't remember any of the bad of these weeks... just the love that surrounded her each and every day. It's strange to say there are things I wish I could forget, b/c you would think I wouldn't want to lose any memories of Catie. The only ones I'd be willing (and glad) to give up are some where she was so very, very sick those last few weeks. But... I know that seeing her so sick enabled us to let her go, so we will try to remember that. I watched a video the other day. She was "getting" her daddy in a lot of the recording and she was laughing SO hard!!!!! Oh how sweet to hear that laugh... I do miss it. It reminded me that there were so many GOOD times and fun times and that in spite of everything she went through, she DID live well.

I'm including a poem that was read at Scottish Rite's memorial service. It touched me and really is so true.

The Cord
By Terri Apostolakos

We are connected, my child and I,
By an invisible cord, not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord that connects us 'til birth. This
cord can't be seen by any on Earth.

This cord does its work right from the start.
It binds us together attached to my heart.

I know that it's there, though no one can see, the
invisible cord from my child to me.

The strength of this cord is hard to describe. It
can't be destroyed, it can't be denied.

It's stronger than any cord one could create.
It withstands the test, can hold any weight.

And though you're not here, not standing by me,
The cord is still there but no one can see.

It pulls at my heart. I am bruised. I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline like never before!

I am thankful that God connects us this way.
A parent and child. Death can't take it away.

Check Izzy Out

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our Girls

Slowing down enough tonight that I'm really missing CatieBug. It's been so busy lately w/ the elf stuff (update soon -- good stuff) and Christmas preparations and keeping up with Izzy that I haven't been good about taking time to process things. One of the things I've learned in the last 11 months is that I have to have down time to process her loss. Sometimes it's a sad time, sometimes it's good remembering (which is always bittersweet), sometimes it's reading through old journals, sometimes it's looking at pictures... sometimes it's admitting the mistakes I made as her mom (I don't like those nights, but it's impossible to be a perfect mom, so there are always some regrets even when you do your best)... It's the work of grief and it has to be done. Tonight, it's a picture night. I'll include some below.

In some ways, the fact that Catie was ever here seems almost dream like... I hate that... Tre' and I are going to watch last year's Christmas video sometime in the next week or so. I haven't heard that sweet voice in a while, and I've got a hankering to hear it. Tonight's one of those nights that I'm just struck by the unfairness of it all... not that I expect life to be completely fair, but it's just really unfair. I know there is a purpose in it all -- or at least that God is using bad for good, but I just wish there had been a different way. I wish I could do it all over again and soak it up even more. But there is no going back, only moving forward and holding on the hope of a day when my family will be complete.

We miss you sweet girl, especially at Christmas. Last year, you were sick so much, but we still managed to find smiles and laughs and we had so much fun baking cookies and building gingerbread houses. You were my present wrapping side kick -- my master taper and label sticker. I miss your help this year. Iz is enjoying it all, but she's a bit young to help me wrap (you would laugh at what she does with wrapping paper). I could seriously go for a Catie hug and then eskimo, butterfly, daddy, catie, and nik nik kisses!! I'd even take those NikNik kisses from your stinky feet!! ;) I can't imagine what Christmas is like in Heaven... I'm betting it's something though... Hey -- what do you think about these silly elves? Can you believe all that has happened and how many kids are enjoying them like you did? It's nice to have a way to honor you and remember you tangibly this Christmas. I think we've discovered my new favorite project. We're thinking of you, like always, each and every day. Love you sweet girl...

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Grinning after meeting the princesses at Disney

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Laughing w/ Mayor Clayton as he tucks her in at Give Kids the World

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This picture is PURE Catie -- she had rubbed body glitter all in her newly grown hair (like hair gel -- only different) -- she thought is was soooooo funny

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This picture is pure Catie too! This is Christmas morning last year -- can't remember if I've shared it before or not... She's drinking her coffee (black of course) from her new Hello Kitty coffee pot and playing UNO Attack -- her favorite -- for Catie, this was Heaven on Earth

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Izzy continues to grow and learn and make us laugh. She's discovered the wonder of destroying block towers and she thinks it's hilarious; she could do it 50 times and would still laugh the 51st time. She loves to be chased and is so fast when she crawls. She's holding on to our fingers and walking and cruising between furniture. She'll stand for a few seconds on her own, but only if she doesn't realize she's doing it. She's opened her first Christmas presents and loved the paper and ribbons. She's still working on the sleeping through the night bit... it's going to happen one of these days! She really is so much fun... and I never have a problem drifting to sleep when my head hits the pillow after a day of chasing her! It's hard to believe she'll be one soon!!!

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Iz w/ our elf

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Merry Christmas!!

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I LOVE this picture of Izzy!! You can just see the pure joy bubbling up from inside of her!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quick Request

We'd love to hear what your elves are up to!! Someone had requested ideas earlier, and I never got around to posting. There are some suggestions on the Host an Elf website (I think under a tab that says Past Elf Experiences), but it would be fun to hear what these elves are up to now! Feel free to post in the comments section or send stories/pics to my e-mail. We received a couple of e-mails this morning telling us what the silly elves were doing.... definitely makes me smile!! We'll be sure to update when we have new numbers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Love that Silly Old Elf

I've been trying to come here since Monday night to update you on the elves, and just haven't been able to find the words. I am absolutely amazed at how this whole elf thing has taken on a life of it's own. By mid-day Sunday, including the elves that Host an Elf had donated themselves, close to 200 elves had been donated to kids with cancer!!!!!!!!!!!! The orders continue to come in. Sunday night I headed to Atlanta to help deliver some of them to Scottish Rite. It was a quick trip, but I'm so glad I went!! We delivered some to kids we ran into in the clinic and then we made a couple of stops over at the hospital. We left a huge load for the child life specialists to share with other kids. I was able to meet Lori and Gregg (from Host an Elf) and Lori's parents. They presented CURE Childhood Cancer with a check for $1200!!! In 6 days, that's how much money was raised w/ Catie's elves!!

I am still amazed when I think about how all this started w/ a hope for a discount on a bulk order and an e-mail. I know they e-mail is still circulating and we are so grateful to all of you who passed it on. To think that these elves are creating new memories for kids who are fighting and their families AND that money has gone to CURE for research... Tre' and I really are just blown away. I really can't find the words to explain how it helps us through this first Christmas without Catie. To say that this project is "fitting" as a remembrance of her is an understatement. Those of you who have followed us for a long time will remember Catie's mischievous streak and her love of her elf. I can still see her face when she discovered her elf in the flour that morning last Christmas... and that brings a smile. So, this year, she lives on in a different way... we'll find a bit of her in the elf stories we hear from our friends and in the memories we know are being made... we'll find a bit more of her in the money raised for CURE to help kids like her... and we'll always, always find a huge chunk of her in our hearts. We will miss her, but we will be grateful for the time we had. Thanks to Host an Elf, to all of you who spread the word, and to all of you who bought and donated elves! You've made a difference in the lives of some really great kids this Christmas and in the life of this family and we are ever so grateful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Unrevealed Until It's Season

An elf update is coming -- probably tomorrow! You'll be quite pleasantly surprised at how well things have gone.

Last weekend we went to Atlanta for Scottish Rite's memorial service. It was really very nice, and I'm very glad that we went. It is hard to believe how many families there are out there who are experiencing just what we've experienced... so many missing their little ones. One of the last things they did was call the names of the children represented one by one... each family would make their way to the front to light a candle in memory and honor of their child. As this part of the service was going on, a harpist was playing and the music was beautiful. She played a hymn that was so familiar and I could come up with one line of it but that was it. Nikki somehow remembered that it was a song sung the very first time we went to a chapel service at Scottish Rite way, way back in the early days... on our very first visit there. I realized that she was exactly right! I tracked the words down and wanted to share them with you here tonight.

Hymn of Promise
In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


That first time I heard it, I cried through it... I loved the hope that it promised as we were in the midst of some very, very scary times with Catie. And now... it can still make me cry if I let it... I still love the hope it promises, only now it is a different kind of hope. The hope it offers me now was always there, it just means even more now. There is hope that there will be a dawn in the darkness.... there is the hope of eternity.... there is hope that at the last, there will be a victory (Catie's already gotten that part!)... There is the hope that what we humans so often think is an end, is often just a beginning.

I love the last line in each verse, "Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see." Heaven eyes... 1 Corinthians 13 says that now we see dimly as in a mirror... then, THEN we shall see face to face (Catie already has that too! ;)... Tonight, I was driving home from Bunco and it was so, so foggy. There were places where the fog was so thick, that it seemed you could barely see in front of you. Every once in a while, it would lift a bit and I could see more clearly. When I got home and pulled Iz from her carseat, I happened to glance at the sky. It was clear as a bell, hundreds and thousands of stars as far as I could see (I love living in the country). It struck me that my vision on my drive home is much like my vision here on earth... so often it is tunnel vision, I do not see clearly... every once in a while I get a clear shot of how things really look, but it usually doesn't last for very long. Looking into the Heavens tonight, I imagined that that is what the view is like in Heaven... clear as a bell for as far as you can see. One day, God will reveal all the ways that He has used Catie and brought good from her illness and death and from our missing. What a sight it will be! We get little glimpses now (like with the elves ;), but I can't wait to see the full picture.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Silly Elf Update

You guys are amazing!!!! At last count, over 100 elves had been donated through Host an Elf!!!! How awesome is that? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the blog entry below. I know folks are still ordering, so I wanted to let you know that if you are ordering some for your family or as a gift, 30% of proceeds can still go to Cure Childhood Cancer . There is a pulldown menu at the top for donating part of the proceeds to your favorite charity. Just pull down and click CURE Childhood Cancer and then place your order like normal. Thank you to all who have forwarded the info. on or posted it on your site or blog! We're hoping to make this a yearly tradition. Tre' and I can honestly think of no better way to let a bit of Catie live on. It's just a perfect fit. We're excited about making some deliveries soon! We'll keep you posted on how things are going and how many we end up with in all. We just wanted you to know how grateful we are to all of you who have ordered elves!!! What a Christmas gift this is to our family.

Love,
Tre', Jenny, and Izzy

A couple of other great things worth checking out.

Help Jacob's Family fill his stocking and help benefit kids with cancer all at the same time all in memory of Jacob. For more info. click here

Click here to see a promotional video for the Carter Martin Classic.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Silly Old Elf

I won't lie, the holidays are hard. The missing is harder than before. Catie is everywhere which is wonderful and so hard all at the same time. There are so many Christmas things and traditions that make us miss her even more.

One of those traditions, some of you may remember us writing about last year... the elf that comes to visit us at Christmas time and usually ends up getting into all kinds of mischief. Last year he covered our kitchen in flour, pulled the garland down from our entry way, pulled clothes out of Catie's sock drawer and made himself comfortable for a night of slumber, and spent one night in the freezer (b/c he was homesick and it reminded him of the North Pole. On the days that the elf was at our house, the first words out of Catie's mouth each morning were, "Mama, where that silly elf at now?" We had soooooo much fun with that "silly elf."

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Here is Catie with "that silly elf" who had played in the flour all night long!

Well, because it is such a fun tradition and because we have so many great memories of it with Catie (and plan on making many more with Izzy), we had decided to pass the tradition on to some friends this Christmas. I have been scouring stores and the internet for cute elves that were at a price I wanted so that we could share the tradition with several families without breaking the bank. Well, the prices I found were reasonable, but I wanted to give out 10 or so... So I tracked down the company that made Catie's and Izzy's elf, Host an Elf, and decided to call to see if they did discounts for bulk orders. I was talking to a friend who knew how hard I had been looking and how much we wanted to do this in the spirit of Christmas and to keep a bit of Catie spreading cheer just before I called. She and her daughter prayed that just the right person would answer the phone when I called.

Well... let me just tell you what happened. I called Host an Elf and the nicest lady answered the phone. I explained about Catie and how much she loved the elf and how we had lost her this year and how we wanted to do this elf thing for some of our friends in the cancer world in honor of her. She immediately said that they could absolutely give us the elves at cost. I was thrilled. It was totally affordable and I could reach the families we wanted to. We talked a little longer and just as I was about to give her the shipping address, she said, "You know what? We're just going to give them to you. We want to donate them." I was astounded! Holy cow!!! I couldn't believe it. I stumbled to thank her and tell her how much it meant to our family... that to honor Catie in this way this first holiday without us meant so much to us. I gave her our address and we hung up, me with a bit of bounce in my step.

Well... it gets better... Four hours later, my phone rang. On the other end was the nice lady from Host an Elf. She told me that she had talked with her partner and they had an idea. "What would you think," she said, "if we started a program in honor of your daughter where people could donate an elf to a child with cancer AND 30 percent of the proceeds go to childhood cancer research?" I was speechless!!!!! Give to kids who are fighting so hard and share such a great tradition... AND, AND give money to fight this wretched disease? I was completely blown away by the generosity of this company.

I can't explain to you how this lifts our hearts a bit. We are definitely missing Catie so much this Season. To have a way to honor her memory by sharing something she loved so much with other families AND giving money to Cure Childhood Cancer all at the same time... that absolutely means the world to us. Words can't even describe it.

So... this is what we need folks to do. Go to Host an Elf , and then click the "Host an Elf" button. If you scroll down on the products section here, you'll see a picture of Catie w/ her elf (covered in flour). You can click "add to cart" to donate an elf (for just $20) to a child with cancer (and in the process you're also making a donation to Cure Childhood Cancer. Even if you don't want to make a donation, I hope you'll support this company b/c of the way they TOTALLY went above and beyond when a mom just called and asked for a discount on a bulk order. I also hope you'll share this info. with folks in your inbox. It is SUCH a fun tradition! One that we will always do in our house. The elves can be quite mischievous and kids wake up each morning eager to see what has gone on while they were sleeping. Without your help, we can't make this successful. But with your help, it could really be a great thing!!

Just one more thing. I called that friend back who had prayed that just the right person would answer the phone. I shared the amazing news of the day with her. She said, "Jenny what you didn't know is that, yes, we prayed for the right person to answer the phone. But we also prayed that somehow this would bring about something that would help you and Tre' through this first ever so tough Christmas without Catie." Once again speechless. WOW!

Thank you God for answering the prayer of my dear friend. Thank you for lifting our hearts yesterday through the generosity of this company... Thank you that even though we miss Catie tremendously each and every day, and even more so this Season, thank you for touching our hearts today and sending us a hug from her and from you through a "silly old elf."

Ok already, go see how cute those elves are!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ms. Izzy

At the moment Ms. Izzy is alternately attacking her Leapfrog table and dancing to the music coming from it. She has quite the cute booty shake! We've started decorating for Christmas (no tree yet) and she loves the lights (which translates to she wants to eat them!). She loves all the singing animals that were Catie's and she wants them singing non-stop. The really funny thing is her grunting and protesting when they quit singing. She has a new wrinkly nosed facial expression that is absolutely adorable and can come out when she's happy or mad. Baby food is a thing of the past (even though she still only has 2 teeth). She won't touch the stuff and we're anticipating the switch to milk in a few weeks. She only woke up ONCE last night!!!!!!! She's discovered Catie's kitchen and though she's not pretend-cooking yet (though she will pretend to give you a bite of food), but she loves playing w/ all the stuff in it (translation: spreading it all over the kitchen and great room floors!). She's got several words (mama, dada, baby, book, papi, dog, Gaga, and a couple of others) and you can just watch her absorbing words as you say them. Her wave is quite exuberant and I'm quite certain it will give you a black eye if you get in the way of it. She still thinks chewing on paper is fashionable and will "run" from you when you need to do a mouth check! Obviously, she is keeping us on our toes and keeps us giggling! There is no rest when she's up and on the move and that's fine with us (so long as she lets us sleep at night!).

Totally didn't plan to do Santa on this day, but there was NO line and the picture disc was half price (which is still outrageous!), so we had to stop!
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We'll update again the next time we're not in chasing mode!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I missed you today sweet girl!

Dear Catie Bug,
I missed you today!! I miss you every day, but today I missed you a little more than usual. I missed you when...

... I walked by the Hello Kitty store and didn't have a reason to go in and look at all the fun pens and pads and stamps and bags.

... Izzy sat on Santa's knee and kept wanting to pull his beard. I kept thinking of how you would have explained Santa to her and helped her to not be afraid of him (she did really well though -- not scared at all -- you would have been proud).

... I walked by the big girl dresses and the cute Gap sweater I would have bought for you.

... when I saw matching pjs that you and Izzy could have worn together.

... when I ate my "chicknen" biscuit with "chicknen" on it for breakfast.

... I heard Frosty the Snowman on the radio and thought of that silly snowman that sings it that you loved so much. I'll have to show that to Izzy!

... when I didn't have to try to sneak any presents into the van or figure out what bags could come in and what had to stay in the car so that you wouldn't see your gifts. (Izzy stared at one of her gifts all the way home and didn't have a clue!! You would have thought that was funny.)

... when I bought your Christmas ornament for this year... I found it at Target (a friend had told me about it). It's a really cute butterfly and all the proceeds go to fund research for kids' cancers. That seemed pretty appropriate. I wasn't sure if I should get you an ornament this year or not... decided to for sure this year (you were here for the beginning of 2007 after all), and we'll decide about next year, next year.

... I was shopping for Izzy today. You would have had fun doing that (and probably would have had me breaking the bank for your sister!!).

... when I walked past Claire's and saw all the fun make up and lip glosses and fingernail polishes that you like so much. I miss buying that stuff for you!! I'm sure Izzy will be ready for it before we know it.
I'm so thankful we had the 4 years and nearly 4 months with you that we did. What a gift!!! So... I'll try to remember that on days like today when the missing waves can be so strong!

Go slide down a rainbow and send sweet dreams to our house tonight our beautiful girl. We love you so very, very much.
Love,
Momma

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just a Quick Note

Not much tonight -- just a quick note. Check out the 2 videos above. We took them at Aunt Lisa's house tonight when Izzy was playing w/ Lisa's daughter (and Izzy's buddy), Ryan. It sounds like she says doggie in the first video.

No big plans for us for Thanksgiving. The three of us are laying low and hanging out at the house. We're hoping to get some work done in Catie's garden to get it ready for winter.

Tired tonight, so that's all for now. Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Izzy's Dedication

We had Izzy's Baby Dedication this weekend. We decided several months ago that we wanted to do it at the beach, so on Saturday that's where we headed. It was a beautiful day. A little on the chilly side w/ a bit of a brisk wind, but it was gorgeous. We were on the south end of Tybee and it was low tide... a favorite time at the beach for our family. I can't tell you how many hermit crabs we've chased and sting rays we've watched with Catie at that time of day at Tybee... I can't wait till next summer to start sharing all those wonders with Izzy.

Bro. Larry read a portion of Psalm 139 (one of my favorite passages) and I read a book called You Are My I Love You. Tre' and I committed to raising her in a loving home and helping her come to know and love God. Bro. Larry presented her with a letter to be opened on her 12th birthday.... 12th birthday... that just sounds so amazing to me... to think of her getting to live to be 12. I know that sounds crazy, but we know nothing is guaranteed for any of us... Not that we expect anything to happen to Izzy... I had just never let myself think that far ahead... So now, we have a letter for Izzy to open when, God willing, she turns 12...

Izzy was so sweet and cute and just waved to everyone standing in the gazebo looking out over the ocean with us. She is quite the social butterfly!! She just waved and grinned and grinned and waved... and blew raspberries during the prayer. That's our girl! :)

She is so curious about words right now... she's saying dog, baby, book, and papi now. She doesn't pronounce them perfectly (leaves g off of dog or k of of book), but she says them intentionally when she sees them. I took her papi out of her mouth this morning and she looked at me and said, "pap. pap. papi." She LOVES books and is continuing to keep us on our toes. We're loving it!

Below are some pics from Sat.


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Izzy and Daddy


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Izzy and Momma


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the 3 of us with Bro. Larry


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the 3 of us


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snuggling w/ Uncle Chad (she was so funny and just kept rubbing her face against his)

Comments/Guestbook

Just a quick note about how to do comments. I had 2-3 folks at William's Walk tell me they couldn't figure out how to do it and I told them I would put instructions up on the blog. Sorry it's taken me so long to do it!! I figured out how to switch it so that you don't have to have a google account to leave a comment/message. If you want to leave a comment, all you have to do is click the word comment below any blog entry. When you click it, it takes you to a page where you can read other comments if there are any and there is a box on the right hand side for you to type in if you want to leave a message. Then click the appropriate box for who you are. If you click anonymous so your info isn't seen, I hope you'll leave your name in your comments so that we know who the message is from. To finish, just click the publish your comment button and your done. Hope this helps!
Jenny

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Izzy, Izzy, Izzy

I promise this happened at our house Sunday afternoon after we got home from Atlanta.

Izzy crawled to the plant (which she is pretty certain is off-limits), looks at me and grins as I say, "No ma'am" in a very firm voice. She then, fast as lightening, grabs a leaf, yanks it off the plant, laughs, and starts crawling away from me (while giggling) as fast as she can! I go after her, ready for another stern "no ma'am" and as soon as I get to her, she intentionally shoves her hands (w/ the leaf in it) under her tummy, and falls flat on top of it... grinning all the while!

We are soooooo in trouble!!! ;)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Izzy's First Halloween

Izzy was given 2 costumes for her first Halloween. She spent some time in both yesterday. Thought we'd share the pictures with you.

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A waving butterfly

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A happy bug

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Much better (in her book) without the hat ;)

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Izzy and Bailee

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My best attempt at getting a picture of Bailee, Brock (her brother), and Izzy all together (it's the only one where you could see all 3 faces -- there's was a lot of wiggling going on)

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Iz and DaDa

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This Halloween stuff will wear you out

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Passed out on my chest after all the fun

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Couple of Things

Just two things here:
1. A reminder that William's Walk is coming up. Click that link to register (we'd love to have you as a Catie's Cruiser -- Abby's Angels could also use support as they rally around Abby as she's just begun her relapse battle). Remember Phantom participants are always welcome too! Thanks to those who have already joined our team! We can't wait to see you on Saturday! If you want to support the cause, but don't want to register for a team, you can make donation at this link if you wish. All proceeds go to the Brain Tumor Foundation for children to fund research and provide support for families. It's a great event that takes place in Alpharetta, GA that's fun for the whole family.

2. A friend of mine has asked me to share Catie's story and our journey at her church in Springfield. The announcement is below.

Ladies please join us for an Amazing Evening.


“Where Joy and Sorrow Meet”


Thursday November 15, 2007

7:00 PM

First Baptist Church of Springfield Sanctuary


Praise and Worship

Special music by Carlett Fulcher

Guest speaker Jenny Wilkins


Hosted by the FBCS Women’s Council

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A family's journey through childhood cancer... through treatment,
good times, laughter, loss, love, grief, and blessings... a journey
where joy and sorrow met.


And I didn't forget -- Izzy pics are just below in previous post!! ;)

Izzy B.

Ok, so I still haven't taken the 9 month picture. It'll happen one day this week... or month;) . Here are some pics of Iz. There's not a wide variety, but I love to take pics of kids in the same setting and just see all their different facial expressions.
Notice for most of these she's trapped in her high chair or someone's arms. Otherwise I usually only get a body part as she is ON THE MOVE!

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About to blow a raspberry

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Sometimes she and Catie look a lot alike

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and other times they look completely different

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Go Dawgs!! (ok, so she's so not in GA colors, but I had to get it in somewhere since THEY BEAT FL THIS WEEKEND!

Today is her 9 month checkup. My only question is "HOW CAN I GET HER TO SLEEP ALL NIGHT?" :) She's doing great developmentally! Catie's 9 month visit was her last well baby visit. We started the process at this visit that eventually led us to diagnosis 3 months later. Izzy's doing so well though, there really aren't any concerns (knock on wood). She's said DaDa, MaMa, Bye Bye, and Baby all intentionally. She doesn't use them all regularly, but when she wants to she does. Every time she sees her Jingle Babies books, she starts saying baby. She's proud too -- knows she's doing something special! She's pulling up, learning to use her push toy, and walking holding on to our hands. So basically -- we're having fun and constantly in chase mode!!! It is a beautiful thing!!

Off to get some things done before we head to town. Hope your day is good!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dear Catie,

Ok -- the pictures of Izzy really are coming. I haven't done her 9 month picture yet and I want to put that up.

Dear CatieBug,
Sometimes I'm so surprised at the places you pop up. Sometimes it's in the things I found around the house (like the end of a hospital bracelet that was somehow in the dustpan after I swept the kitchen this morning -- where did that come from?), or in something I smell (like the alcohol swab I used to clean the thermometer earlier this week), or something I see when I'm out and about (like the red corduroy Christmas dress with polka dots that I had to buy for Izzy yesterday because I remembered almost buying for you last year when you had asked for a dress when I went Christmas shopping), or in the animals that we seem to always run into (like the LIZARD that soooo almost got me on the swing TWICE this week -- I remember you hunting them down on the back porch), or when something funny happens (like this morning with Izzy -- keep reading and you'll see). Sometimes those moments make me sad, sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they do both. Whatever they make me do or feel... I'm always grateful, grateful for a Catie moment. Part of me is really scared that as the years go by those moments will become fewer and farther between. I hope not... I hope they don't make me sad so much, but I hope they keep coming... for the rest of my life. They always make me feel a little closer to you, which is hard to do sometimes because you're so far away.

Mary Grace called and left a message for me for her momma last night. She sounded SO grown up and it was so good to hear her sweet voice. Bailee's been over a couple of times and it's always so nice when she's here. She always wants to play with your toys... especially Uno Attack and your Leapster. The last time she was here, we finished the tea set that you, Daddy, and I started at the hospital but didn't get to finish. I put your initials on the pieces you had painted and Bailee put a B on the bottom of the ones that she did. I think you would like the tea set! Sometimes it's such a comfort to be around kids your age... I miss talking to you!! Bailee likes to talk about you or tell me things she remembers... Sometimes she asks me things about what your favorites were or if you liked this or that. It's always nice when someone asks us about you.

There's a song that someone sent me that says, "Oh, how I want you to know I'm ok, and I just need to know that you're waiting, you're waiting... for me." That's pretty accurate. We are ok... we sure do miss you LIKE MAD, but we are ok, and we will be ok. And I KNOW we'll see you again... sometimes it just seems so far away. I know that's an earthly thing, and you know better because you have Heaven eyes now... I get glimpses, but can't see everything so clearly like you can all the time. I don't have the understanding yet that you do. But one day I will, and on that day, I'll wrap my arms around your sweet body and snuggle you close to my face once again.

I guess feeling like we have to wait so long to see you again is why those little Catie moments are so special to me... they make you feel closer.

Ms. Izzy has played with the Blue you gave her this week several times -- she likes to chew on her ear. :) Part of me wants to put the Blue up and not let it get too much love, but the other part of me knows that you would love her playing with the toy that you picked out special for her... so chew on the ear she will. The first time she crawled over to pick Blue up, my eyes welled... I remember the night you picked it out (even though you kept such a good secret from Daddy and me only giving us one clue before I opened it the shower). I remember too how you were really not feeling well on the day of the shower and you were lying on the couch for most of the time... but you helped me open up your special gift to your sister and you looked so, so proud and you hugged Blue so tight... I'll never forget that. Now when Izzy hugs it tight, it's kind of like you two girls hugging each other... hope you can feel it up there where you are.

Iz just woke up. She doesn't have a lot of hair yet, but it's starting to grow. She's got enough now that when she wakes up, it's sticking out on the side like these little wings. I think it's going to be blond with a hint of strawberry when the light hits it just right. She's sitting in her high chair right next to me chewing on her sippy cup. She's really starting to like books and some of her favorites are ones you loved too. One of her current favorites is the one called Jingle Babies. Do you remember that one? I swear we read it a thousand times. It's going to be the same with Izzy.

Daddy and I love you so much... we think of you every day and we know how happy you are now... We are so grateful for that. We'll keep doing our thing down here, learning to live full like you did... and then, when it's time, we're coming to see you.

Love,
Momma
P.S. Ok, ok, I'll tell you the funny Izzy story (though I can't believe I'm actually writing this down). This morning Izzy woke up later than usual (which is why we didn't make it to church this morning -- she's our alarm clock and is usually up by 6:45). So we were being a little lazy and lounging. Someone was a little flatulent and let go some audible air. Without missing a beat, Izzy looked at the guilty party and blew the best raspberry you've ever heard! Oh my goodness, how we laughed!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Old pictures

Tre' had some pictures of Catie on his computer that I didn't. I was looking through them tonight and that means... that you get stuck looking at pics! :)

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Remember this one? Joey was outside and she wanted him to come in. I wouldn't let her go out yet (we both still had our pjs on), so she opened the door, sat in the floor, and waited.

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Dancing with (or at least trying to) with Joey

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I will always love this picture. I don't remember what they were talking about, but I love how it shows how comfortable Catie was with Dr. Claire... and how Dr. Claire always has time for her patients -- not just the medical stuff -- no matter how busy she is.

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I've posted the pic of her leaning her head against Belle's, but I don't think I've posted this one.

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This was a BIG moment too--- she so looked forward to meeting JoJo and Goliath.

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With Sleeping Beauty

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Laughing because she had kiss marks from Cinderella

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I love this picture of her. It's not her real, real smile, but I love how she just looks so healthy... so tan and so happy.

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Laughing at her birthday party last year -- a couple of her buddies were nailing each other w/ the party blow things.

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This is how I remember her... I'm not sure why when I think of her, she always has hair as she had it for less than a fourth of her life... but I do. And I remember her like she is here, happy, bright-eyed, carefree.

Pictures of Izzy next time!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And Sweet Izzy

Thank you God for Izzy....

for the big smile and bright blue eyes that awaken us each morning.

for you energetic nature that keeps us on our toes

for your strength and health

for your curious nature (which tends to lead you towards plants and electrical cords no matter how well I've hidden them)

for those sweet times when you lay your head on my shoulder to give us "love" and for your wide open mouth kisses that you plant on our cheeks

for your messy fingers and your insistence on not wearing a bib (it makes for some messy clothes, but it's hard to find one you can't pull off)

for your busyness... you really crack your daddy and me up

for your sweet little arms that reach up for us when you want to be held

for the trampoline you've discovered in your bed ;)

for your voice... sometimes loud, sometimes husky, always music to our ears

for your growls and grunts

for you sweet giggle that makes us laugh too

for that cute little hiney that sticks up as you crawl across the floor

for your feistiness that keeps life quite interesting

for the way you crawl away from me, stop, sit, and then wave with the sweetest grin

for the speedy twist, flip, and crawl move you try EVERY single time I change your diaper

for the way you brighten our lives every single day.... have I said lately how glad we are that you're here?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Looking Back

Tonight, I've been looking back through old journal entries and I was surprised by nuggets of memories I'd already forgotten. Thank goodness I wrote them down. It makes me want to be super diligent about recording Izzy's moments too because time passes so quickly. So, tomorrow, Izzy stuff... tonight a look back to a few things I stumbled upon.

July 5, 2005 (on the even of an Atlanta trip for Catie's 2nd major tumor resection)
So tonight as we sleep in our own beds and get ready for this phase of Catie's journey, I thought I'd think a little about the GOOD that has come from her cancer. Granted there's been the bad.. but I don't want to go there tonight. There's something about facing all that we have that allows you to see blessings a little more clearly... sometimes the little things aren't so little anymore, they're quite significant. So here's to the little blessings we've been more aware of b/c of Catie's illness...

Catie's morning snuggles... She is not a morning person -- and I must admit she comes by it honest. Often our morning starts off with a good snuggle-fest on the couch. She is one good snuggler and it's the best way in the world to start the day.

Her kisses at the end of the day -- butterfly, Eskimo, Catie and Daddy kisses. It ends w/ a big hug and an "I love you!" A great way to end the day!

Her teasing nature and good sense of humor. She really can be quite funny.

Her sweet voice and the way she says her words. I've said it before, I could listen to her talk all day.

The zerberts she blows on her daddy's tummy.

Her sure shot with a water gun (I'm telling you nurses -- look out when she starts feeling better after surgery!)

The amazing grace with which she has handled all that has been thrown her way. Granted, she's had her tantrums and she has her moments, but she has handled the hand she's been dealt with a maturity far beyond her years. I know that this is one of the "little" miracles God has given us along the way.

Jeremiah 29:11

The amazing friends we've met through the world of childhood cancer. Though we totally and completely wish we had met you at ChuckECheese or something instead of at the clinic or in the hospital, we're so thankful for the chance to know you. We think of you all so very often and whisper prayers for you each day.

The friends and family who have helped to carry us through this journey are nothing short of amazing. You have helped to lighten our load and carry the burden and you have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus to us. You will never know how much of a difference you have made in our lives.

Catie's determination to learn to walk and to try to keep up with other kids. Tonight I think she had her first official game of chase. She was mighty close to running and she was giggling with delight the entire time.

I could go on and on and on... This list doesn't even scratch the surface. That just means we get to add more in the days and weeks to come.

July 7, 2005 (the evening of that 2nd tumor resection)
I'm going for some good snuggles, but first one more thing. Today, Lisa and I were in the room with Catie. Lisa was getting ready to leave and looked at me from across the bed and said, "Are you going to be ok?" I was opening my mouth to say, "yes" when I saw a little head on the bed nodding up and down. We thought she was sleeping, but she was listening and she was telling us that, "YES!" she is going to be ok. We're holding on to that too, and looking forward to seeing her doing more "bottom busters" in the ocean water soon!

(And we did see more bottom busters!)

September 2, 2005
Some smiles and "Catieisms"today.

*At the Ronald McDonald House a couple of weeks ago...
Catie, GaGa (Tre's mom), and I were going through some cool weather clothes we had just gotten for her to be sure they fit. We had just finished up and put her pj's on her as it was almost bedtime. The shirt for her pj’s are gathered at the bottom. She begin to pick up her new socks and drop them into the top of her shirt one pair at a time. I giggled to myself imagining her doing the same thing in ten years or so. I asked her what she was doing and she looked me dead in the eye and said, "These my boobies Mama." Well, you can imagine the laughter that bubbled out from GaGa and I as she continued to drop socks in. The socks then fell to the bottom of her shirt and she looked at me with a laugh and a twinkle in her eye and said, "My boobies in my tummy Mama." I think this one will go in the scrapbook!

*This weekend we flew a fun battery powered airplane that PaPa had given Catie. We live way in the country, so to get a good open place to fly them we only had to drive down to our neighbor’s yard (too wooded at our house). The plane flew great, but no matter where we aimed it or let it go, it always seemed to fly toward the tall pine trees and ended up getting stuck more than once. So... when Catie and I were discussing our upcoming (we hope) trip to Boston and flying on an airplane, she got very excited. The she suddenly stopped and looked at me anxiously and asked, "Our airplane go in tree Mama?"


September 16, 2005
Out of the blue today, Catie looked at me and patted her head and said, "I no have hair Momma." An obvious statement, yes, but it still kind of stopped me in my tracks as she never stated it out loud. I asked her if she knew what made her hair fall out and she said, "yes, chemo." I didn't know she knew that.

December 6, 2005
CATIE'S QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Catie was showing Tre' something in a catalog that she wanted Santa to bring her. He asked her what she had to be for Santa to come see her (fishing for "be good") and she answered... "patient."

Hope these made you smile... I'll have to hunt for more later. ;)

Friday, October 19, 2007

9 Months

It's been 9 months since that day in January. She's been gone as long as she waited on Izzy to get here. Time is such a strange thing. Found a song by David Bailey (a GMB survivor) that reminded me of that day.

Bittersweet Rain
It was a day full of memories and whispers
It was a day full of tenderness and pain
I was a day full of mystery and madness
Underneath a bittersweet rain

Tears of Angels kiss the ground; each one makes a holy sound
On every heart they make a sacred stain
Can’t begin to count the cost, cannot comprehend the loss
Baptized by this bittersweet rain

It was a day full of questions and shadows
Feelings that no one could explain
It was a day full of courage and devotion
Underneath a bittersweet rain

Tears of Angels kiss the ground; each one makes a holy sound
On every heart they make a sacred stain
Can’t begin to count the cost, cannot comprehend the loss
Baptized by this bittersweet rain


High above the clouds, closer to the sun
There’s a place I know where people go when their days are done
Where the prisoners are free and the crippled ones can walk
Where the blind ones can see and the silent ones can talk
Where the pilgrims come together and the communion is complete
Where the rain is never bitter, only sweet

Tears of Angels kiss the ground, each one makes a holy sound
On every heart they make a sacred stain
Can’t begin to count the days, cannot comprehend the ways
Baptized by this sweet, sweet rain

***********************************************

Hopefully there is some butter with our biscuits and a glass of sweet tea in our future today... a glass lifted in honor of Ms. Priss!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Little Bit of Everything

It's amazing how much there still is to process even after almost 9 months. It seems it's been forever since we held her, but we still think of her all day long. Grief is a strange thing. I thought that it would steal my joy... thankfully it hasn't. It has brought sadness, but has not taken the joy.

I've been in a Mom's group at Hospice Savannah for the last few weeks. It's for moms who've lost young children. Last week, the facilitator asked me what Catie was like. Moms and dads out there, have you ever tried to describe your child, their whole being? It's hard to sum up in a few sentences. I tried my best, because let's be honest, opportunities to talk about Catie are so valuable to us. I talked about her sense of humor and her mischievous streak. I told about how she never dreaded going to the hospital even though she knew what it meant. I talked about how we managed to have fun in the hospital and at the clinic. I tried to convey that even though she was on chemo for more than 3/4 of her life, she really did live well. I told the story about her getting sick while I was in the shower one morning, hitting the jellybean bucket, and holding it till I got out. I told the story about her teasing her GaGa that day by not giving her a kiss and then turning and grinning at me to let me in on the joke. I felt like I didn't do her justice, but I knew I captured her at least a bit b/c the facilitator said, "I've heard you talk about wanting to live full b/c that's what you learned from Catie and I didn't really understand because she was so young. But now, after hearing you talk about her, I know what you mean."

Living full... that might have to be the theme of the rest of our lives. I don't do at as well as Catie did, but I'm sure as heck going to do my best. Living full doesn't mean that life is free of frustrations and sadness or that it's all sunshine and roses. It's living full in spite of what troubles might come your way. I can't do it every day, but I want to do it more each day.

That said, the missing doesn't go away. There are times that gaping hole is more obvious. It never goes away, but there are times it's just more in our face. For me, the change of season is one of those times. I love the start of fall or spring, but I've noticed that I miss Catie more then. I don't know if it's because it makes me think of the things we'd be doing if she were here, or if it's just the whole bittersweet thing. It's a time that I love, so it's sweet, but she's not here. I wonder if that will ease a bit when Izzy is older and able to do the things that we so enjoyed with Catie. I'm certainly not rushing Izzy to grow up... she can take her own sweet time, but we do miss that 4 year old interaction... I wonder too if 4 will always be a favorite age for us.

Speaking of fun ages, Izzy is at such a fun (and exhausting) age right now. In 10 days she started crawling, pulled up, and said, "DaDa" (on purpose, not just babbling). She is such a happy (and feisty) baby. She keeps us laughing and on our toes. Here are some pics from the last couple of weeks.

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Izzy and Natalie -- Please, just let me touch her!!

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See, that's all I wanted.

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I just love this picture.

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This picture cracks me up!! She was having way too much fun in with her sweet potatoes!

Friday, October 12, 2007

William's Walk

Hi guys! Just a quick note before the mad rush of the day starts. Check out the box on the side with details and links for William's Walk. This will be our 5th year entering a team! We'd love for you to join us as a Catie's Cruiser! The cost is only $15 ($20 for phantom participants who want to participate but can't attend). All proceeds go to the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, a great organization that funds pediatric brain tumor research and supports families battling the disease. Let us know if you sign up as a Cruiser!

Also, our buddy Jake and his family are getting ready for Light the Night with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Check out their page to see how you can support them.

Izzy is keeping us on the run -- literally. How can a baby who couldn't even crawl 2 weeks ago be so fast now? The leaves on our potted plants are showing some wear, it's her favorite thing to go after. She definitely hearing "no" and hopefully she's learning what it means. We also see a naked hiney crawling away quite frequently during diaper changes. I'll reach over to grab the diaper and she does this rapid flip and crawl to get away! I was at our produce place yesterday and the folks who run it wanted to know how much she weighed. The plopped her on the scales and she was 23 pounds!!!! She's wearing 12 months clothes and they fit her perfectly.

Off to tackle our day and enjoy some fall temperatures!

Monday, October 8, 2007

I've Found a Cure for Clutter

and her name is Izzy!

Yes, when I made it home from a trip to Atlanta weekend before last, our girl was on the move. Tre' and mom were here with her while I was gone, and Tre' kept telling me she was getting around. Sure enough when I got home, she was doing it!



I swear, every day, she's a little faster...
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and a little more proficient!
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You can see her scanning the room and the look in her eyes says, "hmmmm... what can I get into next?" Then her face will light up and she's off! Her favorite things to go after are our plants, electrical cords, and any little speck of anything on the floor!!! She also loves to empty baskets, so my magazines are looking pretty beat up!! But boy, is it fun!!! It definitely is keeping us on our toes!

Don't you love a baby in overalls?
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I sure do!!
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And... all that work can wear a gal out!
It was naptime this morning, and I was fixing a bottle for Iz. I walked over to pick her up from her jumper and this is what I saw (mind you, she is still bouncing herself here, not full-fledged through the roof jumping like usual, but she is still bouncing when this picture is taken!).
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I know I should have picked her right up, but it just cracked me up that she was bouncing herself to sleep, so I snapped a couple more pics.
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She's rarely still, so I guess it's appropriate that she can even manage to move while she's sleeping!!

Speaking of sleeping, I'm headed that way!