A hand to hold …

As of yesterday afternoon my world finally calmed down. Yay! It’s honestly been a whirlwind. A wave of relaxation literally washed over me after my last meeting yesterday. Last night I realized that I’ve been so busy that I hadn’t really even given much thought to my favorite holiday fast approaching. Even after decorating, confirming with George when he would head home and after booking Sid’s flight it still hadn’t hit me. Talk about distracted!

I had big plans today. Plans to nurture myself. THIS is so important. Seriously, we all need to do more of it. But that’s a topic for another day. My day started early with a wonderful carefree run. I prayed. I thought about Thanksgiving. I thought about how blessed we are and how thankful I am. And then it hit me! ALL of my babies will be home. SOON. I was instantly overcome with emotions. I have not been with all four of my kids at the same time since early August. That’s a first. Again, I don’t like it but I wouldn’t want it any other way. They are off living their lives and becoming who they are meant to be. It’s beautiful.

The picture I posted with this blog is quite a few years old but it’s one of my favorites. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss those days. I do. They were days when we were all a bit younger and life wasn’t pulling us in so many different directions. I’m not one to want to turn back time, but I do like to look back. It makes me appreciate our togetherness even more now. I love our family history and the memories that we have made. They are, after all, what paved the way to what is our now. Again, it is beautiful. I know that our NOW might not look like our THEN but it still takes my breath away. These incredible souls are my WHY. I am blessed to be their mom. So so so blessed. And I am grateful that regardless of how much time passes or the distance between them, that they will always have each other to walk through life with. As an only child I wanted this for them. No. I needed this for them. And knowing that they have each other fills this mama’s heart with immeasurable peace and joy.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you have a hand to hold!!!

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Looking back and moving forward …

This morning I was looking at my Facebook Memories and realized that 5 years ago today Sidney and I attended a traveling college open house event. She was at the beginning part of her junior year and this visit would be the catalyst to more than I could have ever imaged. This would eventually be the university Sidney would choose to attend.

In the post I struggled with all of it. I guess nothing has changed there, HA! But it was amazing to see how much time DID change things. I remember that day perfectly. It would be the beginning of so much; a pre-college stay on campus, tours of the city, the application process, a portfolio, her senior year of high school and what would come to be her final year at home. What a journey it has been. To see how much she has grown is incredible. She has accomplished much. As I progressed through all of that with her I could not deny that she was on the right path. She FIT perfectly through every door that was opened for her. I watched her fall in love with all of it. And because she had the courage to take a chance on herself she has now created a wonderful life for herself. Despite being so young at the time my baby girl chose her future wisely. She listened to her heart and committed to nurturing and growing the gifts and talents God gave her. And in what seems like the blink of an eye … “my baby” girl grew up.

Five years.

A lot can happen in 5 years. Nothing in our lives looks the same as it did back then. Applying this knowledge to our futures fills me with a sense of excitement, but also with a little MOM sadness too. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the simpler times when my big kids where little. I do. But watching them mature and seeing them chase their dreams and achieve their goals brings me overwhelming amounts of joy. I have mentioned before that this process comes with many ups and downs for me. I don’t do any of this gracefully. I feel my way through it. I’m thankful that my kids allow me to SIT with all of it in my own way. After all, it’s not just them who has been growing in all of this. I have learned and changed too. I am honestly fascinated at how so many lives can grow together yet still be on their own personal paths. I have come to believe that THIS is what life and love should look like when they are set in motion over a lifetime. And I don’t think I have ever been a part of something more beautiful.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you look back and move forward!!!

Libs and here we go again …

Yesterday Libs took the PSAT. She took one last year, in her sophomore year, and did well. We also arranged to have her take an unofficial SAT about two months later just to see how she would do. The test evaluator was pleased to see her score since Libs was technically about 18 months out from taking the official SAT. When the evaluator found out that Libs had forgotten her calculator she changed from “pleased” to “shocked” that Libs did as well as she did.

Telling you all of that is not to brag about my smart kid. Trust me, she IS smart, but it’s because she works so hard. Heck, Libs welcomed all the testing last year just so she could see where she was AT educationally. She’s always thought this way. She is the kid who checks her student portal obsessively after a test or big project. So much so that we had a year when we had to implement a time cutoff to check grades because she would get upset if they weren’t posted. It would ruin her whole evening. That limit really helped her balance fun and work and helped her to see that there is a time (and importance) for both. Anyway, Libs has some lofty college goals and when she started verbalizing them to me we had a long talk (several actually) about what it would take to achieve them. She knows it won’t be easy but she knows what she has to do to make it all happen. When I saw her commitment to her goals and saw how it was all effecting her I went to her counselor, coaches and favorite teachers to let them know what she wants. All of them were on board. Libs has the support of MANY. An army of people who see that she CAN achieve the goals that she has set for herself. As a mom, I couldn’t be more thankful. But I have to say that yesterday has been a stark reminder of times that are soon to change. Again. I’ve been down this road twice before. It is a beautiful road but it does have its’ thorns. The reality of my third baby growing up is creeping in. As much as it all fills my heart with joy, I find (ONCE AGAIN) that my heart can ache at the same time. I have no doubt that when it’s time for Libs to head to college that she will be ready. She will embrace the new life laid before her. She will thrive as an adult. But until then, I will cherish every last childhood moment that I am blessed to share with her.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you see it all happening again!!!

Faith, love and miracles …

Despite posting these words every year they still bring me to tears. Happy tears. Tears that warriors cry after winning a long battle. I don’t think I will ever be able to change how I tell this story. To do so would be an injustice to her and to me. And to all of our family and friends who stood by us then and who continue to walk through this life with us now. This story is about our beginning together. The story that we all fought so hard to tell. It is a story about faith, love … and miracles.

When I was about 11 weeks pregnant we were told that she did not look quite so “typical” … I didn’t care. I loved our baby. And I prayed.

A few weeks later we were told, that not only was our baby “not typical”, but that there was a chance I would be delivering her stillborn. I wanted our baby even more fiercely than I had before. And I prayed.

Several weeks later, we almost lost our baby … to which I screamed an angry and adamant “NO!” And I prayed.

A month later we were told that our baby had a “very large hole in her heart” … to which I said, “I don’t believe you.“ And I prayed.

Two months later we were told, “Your baby is small” … to which I laughed and said, “Of all the things that you have told us, this seems pretty manageable.” And I prayed.

Two weeks later, on what was supposed to be a brief doctor’s visit before we headed to our local water park, we were told that our baby was not growing, that she was too small and that she was not acting the way that she should be. We were told that I would be given another amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed. If they were, my doctor wanted to take her right away. I felt like my body was failing her. And I prayed.

My doctor gave me a drug to speed up our baby’s lung development. The results of the amniocentesis were not what we had hoped for. My doctor told us that our baby’s lungs were not developed, our baby could not breath on her own. Now we had a team of medical professionals. They hoped nothing would go wrong for the next 48 hours so that the steroid they had given me would have time to help our baby’s lungs grow … to which I said, “OK”. And I prayed.

Less than 24 hours later I had a hospital room full of people wearing blue. They were running around and pumping my body full of fluids and drugs. We were told that we could no longer wait. We were told that our baby would not be breathing and that she would be very small and weak … to which I cried in her father’s arms and said, “I’m scared.” And I prayed.

Minutes later I was strapped to a table. I had refused anything that would alter my mental state. I wanted to be there for our baby. It took a long time to get her out. I was told that she was so small that she kept slipping through the doctor’s hands. I kept screaming, “Is she out?!?!” And I prayed.

Then, I heard a cry … to which I thought, “That is a loud cry for a baby who is supposed to be weak, small and not breathing.” And I prayed.

A few minutes later our baby was brought over to me, warmly swaddled, pink as could be, breathing all on her own and with no hole in her heart. (Sure, she had some extra chromosomes, but who cares about that?) And when I saw her I thought, “You are my miracle and I love you.” And then, I praised God for our beautiful daughter.

Nine years ago today, through God’s amazing grace, Reese Lindsey Grace Henry was born by emergency cesarean section. She was 6 weeks early. She weighed 2lbs 15oz and was 15 ½ inches long. My world has not been quite the same since that day … and I would have it no other way.

Happy 9th Birthday to my precious miracle! Reesey Roo you are my JOY, the smile on my face and my WHY! Mommy loves you and all of your extra parts 💕

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate a miracle … and always remember to pray!!!

Feeling happy …

I am pretty sure our birthday kicked-off weekend has been a success. Libs and Reese have had a lot of fun. We have a few more things planned for today and then we will be heading home. Libs mentioned yesterday that she wants to do this every Labor Day weekend until she graduates. I quickly realized, that means ONE MORE YEAR. Talk about a flood of emotions rolling in! I can’t seem to ever wrap my head around how quickly time passes. After raising two children to adulthood (and now almost a third), you’d think I would have a handle on it by now. NOPE. Anyway, passing through our days can often seem LONG. Our challenges NEVER seem to end. And there is ALWAYS something to do. But when I look back on all of it, I can truly only see the beauty in it. I can’t help but feel blessed to have had the privilege of raising these incredible souls. And despite the struggle I often feel of “letting them go”, when I look back on the life we have shared together, I find myself overwhelmed by one feeling.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel HAPPY!!!

And then there were two …

Sid left very early this morning to return to school. With George already at school that leaves just Libs and Reese at home. The whole house sounds and feels different. It looks different too. Inside is a stark aftermath of a busy summer. Outside looks almost barren with the lack of cars. The changes are almost disorienting. After coming home from moving Sid into her dorms her freshman year a friend of mine came over to visit me. She said that she was shocked by the energy change in our home. And I couldn’t agree with her more. I was struck at that very moment with a true understanding of what it meant when people say “making your house a home”. I had always lived that way but it was such a different way to experience those feelings. Our house is a living breathing thing because of the souls who both live and visit here. They are the ones who make it a home. And the changes I see and feel around here are because of the love I feel for them. Do I wish that they were always here? Yes. A million times, yes. But I also love the things that this house has become because of their absence. Adulthood comes with new challenges and new sources of joy. This is now the place where they return to share all of that with me. I am comforted knowing that this house is a place that, no matter where life takes them, will always be their home. It is their safe haven in tough times and a place to celebrate all the good. A place that they can always count on to receive unconditional love.

We are considering a big move in the next two years and my thoughts have been drawn to our future house. Where will it be? What will it look like? It’s a bit anxiety provoking with all the unknowns. But then I remember that it really doesn’t matter where the house will be or what it will look like. That house will be filled with everything this house is and more. Undoubtedly our family will grow with marriages and grandchildren. I simply can’t wait for those kind of wonderful changes! Those kind of blessings sure makes all the growing pains that I feel now seem trivial. And when I get past all my wild emotions, deep down I know that our new house will become a home with a familiar story to tell. The story of a family who’s love, history, adventures and traditions make their house a home.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are down to two!!!

Time changed much but not us …

I work up early this morning, despite being up way too late. The house was quiet and I began feeling a bit nostalgic. I always do this time of year. With summer break ending and the new school year starting in a few weeks I tend to feel similar to how I do on New Years Eve. It’s my time to reflect and I look back on summers past. With two adult children off to college I feel even more emotional than I normally do. And it all came out this morning! I spent much of my early morning looking through old pictures of my kids. I laughed, I cried and I soaked in every wonderful memory. It is like time stood still for a moment, but also flashed by in an instant. It’s all a blur but I remember almost every second of it. It sort of makes me sad yet I also delight in knowing that so much has changed but not the love we share and the memories we keep. They are our constant and they are our story. And they are what makes us … US. I am comforted in knowing that no amount of time or distance can ever change that.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you can say that time changed much but not us!!!