Thursday, November 26, 2015
This year, I'm thankful for health and family...and that my healthy family can all celebrate under one roof! Last year, my dad and Abby were both in the hospital. We praise God that they are both doing well after a tough year!
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
To the siblings who sometimes feel invisible...I see you.
To the ones who have celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving in the hospital instead of around your dining room table...I see you.
To the kids who get shuffled from one family member to the next during hospitalizations...I see you.
To the children who trade video games at sleepovers for blown up medical gloves during hospital visits...I see you.
To the students whose parents have missed games, performances, concerts, and school presentations...I see you.
To the kids who turn speech and physical therapy into fun games…I see you.
To those who have blown out birthday candles in hospital playrooms...I see you.
To the kids who share their houses with nurses and therapists...I see you.
To the students who have been picked up unexpectedly from school, only to find out your sibling has been taken to the hospital again…I see you.
To the children who had to grow up too fast and have way too much medical knowledge...I see you.
To the doctors-in-training who can give tube feeds, suction trachs, silence ventilators, and clean hearing aids...I see you.
To the kids whose world gets turned upside down by a medical emergency, yet you are expected to keep it together and be well-behaved…I see you.
To those who must worry about how long you will have your siblings, and wonder what life would be like without them...I see you.
I see you having a compassion that others your age just don't have. I see you unabashedly loving your siblings and being their fierce protectors. I see you trying to change the world's perception of special needs kids by reminding people not the use the r-word. I see you playing with your siblings and accepting them just as they are. I see you growing up to be therapists, doctors, nurses, and special education teachers, because you have seen first-hand the difference these people have played in your sibling's life. I see you taking on the role of caretaker as adults when your parents no longer can. I see you being thankful for the small things in life, because you understand that those are really the big things.
To Caleb, Ryan, Kennedy, Anderson, Sara, Jade, Peyton, Nate, and so many others who have sacrificed so much over the years...I see you.
So to the siblings of kids with special needs, THANK YOU for all you have given up so that your brother or sister can get the best care possible. We couldn't do it without you. You are loved!
Friday, November 20, 2015
Inspired by this article and photos, I decided to do a little photo shoot with Abby.
Abby: Then and Now!
She got a little silly after a while :)
We keep this picture on our mantle to remind us of how far she has come. Although some days can be hard, we are so blessed with her health, spunk, and zest for life!
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
Look who learned how to write her brother's name?!
This was hanging up outside of her classroom. Too funny!
And dance she does! All. Of. The. Time.
We had a conference with Abby's teacher the other day and we are thrilled with how well she is doing! She has learned so much already and I am especially impressed with the knowledge she has about number combinations. In the car the other day, she was spouting off, " one and three equal four, one and one and two equal four, two and two equal four!" without any prompting whatsoever. She has a fantastic teacher who is perfect for her. Matt and I especially appreciate how she is holding Abby to a high standard, so she isn't getting away with anything! :) We love our girl and the natural sassiness that has made her into the fighter she is, but we don't want it to become a problem in the classroom! :)
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Since I'll be celebrating my birthday Disney-style this year, my sweet husband took me out a little early. We went with our wonderful friends Jenn and Steven to Bobby McKey's, which is a piano bar about an hour from us.
We went to dinner first, since Bobby McKey's is more just bar food.
We had a little time before the show started, so we checked out some of the stores in the area. The guys were wearing very similar shirts and got a real complex about being twinsies, so this is the only picture I could get of them. Steve enjoyed the softness of the bamboo bath mat. :)
This lady gave us so much entertainment. She had "pre-gamed it" before coming to the show, so she was pretty hysterical!
If you've never been there, it's pretty fun! The guys on the piano are insanely talented and play everything by request. You will hear everything from 80s music, to rap, to country, to show tunes!
Have you ever been to Bobby McKey's, or any other dueling piano bar? How did you like it?
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Do you have a little girl who loves princesses? How about stickers? These books combine the two loves of so many little girls into faith-filled stories for your little ones. Designed for ages 4-8, these books have 50 reusable stickers that help tell stories about Joy and her four princess sisters. The stickers are easy for little fingers to remove and can easily be repositioned as needed.
Since "Joy" is sort of a theme in my house, I was drawn to Princess Joy right away. Since Princess Grace was another one in the same series, I knew my girl would love it too!
These are fun books for the car, to take on the airplane, or to do while waiting in the doctor's office. In fact, one of these just might get packed for our plane ride to Florida!
Disclaimer: I am a Book Looks Blogger and get free books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
There have been so many blessings that have come out of our journey the last five years. At the top of the list is most certainly the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore. The staff has created such a warm community there, and it really is our home away from home. We love it and shout that from the rooftops!
We were so honored that they invited us to their Hamburgala fundraiser. The kids presented flowers to the chair of the committee, and we all held signs to direct people to dinner. It was such a fun evening and a great way to raise money for the new house!
Abby loved her new dress and enjoyed twirling in it!
Caleb got so many compliments on how sharp he looked.
Abby decided to practice her princess wave for Disney World while we waited for the shuttle to take us to the Gala at the Four Seasons. :)
Our menu for the night.
Everything served included McDonalds ingredients! (but much fancier!)
Our dessert was served in a Big Mac box :)
It was a tiny little cheeseburger Macaroon and a homemade Coke float in a miniature McCafe cup!
This is the design of the new house. They will double their capacity, which means they will be able to help SO many more families! Their goal is to never have to turn a family away again.
Sandy, the amazing director, gave a speech sharing about a few of the kids who have stayed at the House. Abby was one of them!
Sandy shared about Abby's difficult beginning, then explained about Abby's surgeries in the past and future.
But this was my favorite slide--it shows the hope and joy of our family!
After the program, we got a few pictures. This was underneath this great arch that had pictures of all kinds of kids from the House.
This was taken in front of one of the trees that lined the hallway with pictures of many RMH faces. The kids loved seeing so many of their friends on these trees!
Much of the decorations were done by my super-talented friend Kim!
We were able to meet Walt Williams, who is apparently one of Matt's childhood sports heroes (I'd never heard of him, but that's not surprising!) He was a superstar for University of Maryland basketball back in the 90s. He also donated one of the big packages that was auctioned off for $6,000! The live auction alone made over $50k, and there were also many items for silent auction as well. It was a fantastic fundraiser that will most definitely aid in the construction of the new house.
I had to do a little convincing to get the kids to join me in this photo booth. They were surprisingly cooperative, considering these were taken at 10:00 pm!!
(The shadows are because I took a picture of the printed picture they gave me.) You can go here to view all of the Photo Booth pictures of the night!
It was a wonderful night full of memories, thankfulness, and joy. And it was not lost on me the difference between this night and the same night a year ago, when we very nearly lost Abby due to a kink in her intubation tube. You can read about it here, but remembering that day made me even more thankful for such a wonderful night a year later.
Our journey isn't always easy, but it is people like our RMH family that make it SO worth it. They really do bring "Joy to the Journey."