Monday, October 29, 2012

Catching Up and Wasting Time

I have a to do list a mile long at the moment, BUT.... The "Belzer" as we call Ellie Faith more often then not for some reason, is presently playing away happily in her exersaucer. She used to love this play apparatus, but over the past few weeks, being contained in any way is not her idea of fun. However, independent play time is something I feel strongly about, so she has to endure it 10-30 minutes a day, based on the emotional attitude of the day. :) Our house is a quite small, very narrow, two story town home. I am kind of stuck in kitchen and hallway at the moment... if I were to walk by the happily playing child, she would think I was going to get her and heart break would ensue if/when that didn't happen. Luckily for me , and unfortunate for my to do list, our computer is in the hall way, so I am taking this time to blog. I really don't have anything to write about, but since I am trying to get back into the swing of things, I am just going to ramble for a bit.

We had some fun "family fall" plans for this weekend that got a little ruined do to weather. Oh well. We made up for it by just having a Saturday at home, which we rarely get! Aunt Brenna hung out most of the day with us, then one our former college girls grabbed some dinner with us, then came back to our place to watch some football. It was great catching up with both girls. In years past, they were over at our house all the time. But life isn't static, so our hang out times are just not as easy to come by anymore.

I did get out of the house for a few hours to attend the bridal tea for one of our "original" college girls. (theses girls are really starting to make me feel old by going off, getting married, and starting their own families!) Jared and I will get to attend their wedding in a few weekends and we could not be more thrilled for them! Its been a long time coming!
They are the american couple. She is that amazing teacher you just pray your kids are lucky enough to get at least once in their scholastic years, and he has been serving in the armed forces since graduating from college. They are beautiful inside and out. And yes, just thinking about all they have been through, over come, and endured, and how amazingly they have handled it... this proud mama is emotional! I totally kept tearing up during the bridal tea!

Ellie and I are going to be taking a little road trip and heading back to my home town for about 4 days. My baby brother has his first college basketball game, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Unfortunately, Jared has work and meetings this weekend, so he is staying back. But let's be honest, deep down he is probably a little bit excited about having 4 days alone. :)

I don't really have plans for the trip back, other then just enjoying time with family. There have been several babies added to the family in the last two weeks, so hopefully I will get to snuggle with some of those sweet infants. And I wouldn't complain a bit if we got walk around down town Franklin (aka the greatest place on earth!)

Overall... I think just a change of scenery will be good for me emotionally and mentally.

I am leading a girls bible study for ministry we work with on UT's campus. Its Kicking.My.Tail! I am never one who likes to be front and center. I love to plan (and yes, be in control) but from the back ground. I am great wing-woman. Jared always makes fun of me that I am the only person he has ever met who enjoyed "middle management" positions in my career. I have been approached several times about leading bible studies or sunday schools and have always emphatically declined - it just wasn't my thing. Again, God has a very funny sense of humor when it comes to my life. This semester, I found myself in a situation where I really had/was given no choice. I recently updated my facebook/twitter with this status:

If you ever think you have a good grasp on your faith, God, and religion - assist 
in leading a bible study. Holy Moly! #eyeopening #convicting #challenging 

Wowser! We are doing a modified study with, on Confident Womanhood. I think we are all really enjoying it, learning a lot, and growing personally as well as a group.  I honestly think I am learning more from our girls then I am teaching them. I know a lot of people complain about young people today, but I could not be more proud of "my" girls and can not wait to see all the wonderful things they accomplish for the Lord in life. This generation has lived through more hurt and dysfunction then many of the previous generations, and though its left them battered and scarred, its also given them a different perspective on life. They understand cause and effect, relational hurt and dysfunction, what tears a family apart, what destroys trust forever, etc... They have seen how not to do it, and are determined to be better. And I have not doubt they will do better then many of the people who were supposed to be "examples" in their lives.

45 minutes later....

Ok, playtime ended, Ellie has eaten, and is down for her morning nap (yes, even though its noon. Kid stays on a college kid's sleeping schedule!) so that means mama has two hours to be a whirlwind of accomplishment!

Until next time.... which will hopefully has WAY more substance and entertainment. Yikes!

And just because she is too stinking cute:

FYI: baby skinny jeans are way more difficult to put on a baby then on an adult... but I think they are way more cute!:)

And I thought she got her recent cold from the college kids... evidently not!:)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Packing Up the Dreams God Has Planted...

This is going to be one of the most difficult posts ( I hope ) I ever have choose to write. It will probably be very long and overly detailed with seemingly unimportant details... but I want to remember. I think I probably need to remember.

I am in the process of packing up my hopes, dreams, thoughts, memories, and emotions attached to our little Baby Ross #2, who went home to be with Jesus, before we ever got a chance to touch, skin to skin. I don't know how you say good-bye to a child you never even got to know, hold, but yet loved so deeply.

Ellie Faith was our first miracle baby. However, this baby was also a miracle! We were beyond surprised to discover I was pregnant, as my body has showed NO signs of my cycle "coming back to life." The day the USA Women's Soccer team won their Olympic Gold medal, I was sick with an upper respiratory virus, and thought I was also coming down with appendicitis. Later that night, the light bulb went off in my head that maybe in fact I wasn't dying... just ovulating. I dug out some of my old dusty ovulation kits, and sure enough a double pink line popped up.

Five days later I knew I was pregnant, for very nonspecific or scientific reasons. Five days after "already knowing", I saw another double pink lines, on a pregnancy test.

Jared was out of town, as seems to have become our normal for us when I discover I am pregnant. We were also getting ready to head out of town for the week. Ellie and made it to the doctor and back secretly to confirm the pregnancy. Due to many reasons, we were celebrating Jared's 30th birthday weeks late... one of his presents was the pregnancy test.

We were both ecstatic!! Getting pregnant without even trying - this was new territory for us for sure, and we loved the new landscape! It also spoke God's faithfulness to us, in a new and different way - He had given us, what felt like, a free gift... just 'cause.

I started throwing up week 3 of the pregnancy, and spent the majority of the next two months in bed, on the couch, or over the commode. Those old faithful words of many, "every time you throw up just remember you body is doing what it is supposed to do..." lingered in my ears, but eventually came to haunt me.

On October 9, 2012 I noticed very mild, almost nonexistent spotting. I really wasn't worried as I knew it was very common in the first trimester. My ever present nausea and vomiting brought additional calm and comfort. That afternoon, the spotting was gone, and since my mom and grandparents were passing through town,  Ellie and I got to meet them for a late lunch. Later that night, as I was helping lead a bible study with our college ministry, I started to feel a "uterine twinge." The next morning, a Wednesday, I was bleeding slightly more. Jared stayed home with me and Ellie, and that afternoon we went into the doctor for an ultrasound.

By this point I think I was 50/50 about what the outcome was going to be... but you are never really prepared to hear,"your baby no longer has a heart beat." I knew almost immediately though, as soon as the ultrasound started - the image on the screen was significantly smaller then our ultrasound a month ago, and I couldn't detect the flutter of a heart beat.

"Please just be looking at my cervix from a funky view!" I kept thinking to myself. Our doctors's ultrasonagrapher is amazing - so kind, gentle, yet objective, and competent. She does a wonderful job! She spent time talking with Jared while I was getting cleaned up and dressed again. She even teared up and gave him a hug as we were leaving. Having a son herself, she said she always hoped someone would remember his emotional needs if he ever found himself in this position.

Jared shed several tears a couple of different times while we were at the office, discussing what the next steps were. I didn't. Ellie was having a come apart... maybe picking up on the emotional change in the climate... I don't know. I also, unfortunately perhaps, switch into medical mode too easily once I am in a medical setting. There were decisions to be made and questions to ask, and tears were not going to get either of those things accomplished.

I was offered the option of miscarrying at home or having a D&C. Our medical team thought it would be completely safe for me to deliver at home, as everything appeared to be so small (the baby has probably passed away ~ a week before) though they made sure I knew it could be emotionally very difficult. Ultimately, I was not yet ready to be surgically separated from my baby, even though I was fully aware the baby was no longer living inside me. We decided to schedule the D&C for the following Monday, if my body hadn't taken care of it all by then.

I don't think I officially shed tears until we got into bed that night. I remember touching my very prevalent baby bump and saying, "I miss our baby!"

The next four days were tough, but overall, very peaceful. It was just the three of us - myself, Jared, and Ellie. I communicated minimally with some of our closest friends, prayer warriors, and family via text, but wasn't ready/willing to verbally speak, or actually see anyone other then my own little family. Our lives are generally pretty busy, so just being home together for that many uninterrupted days was very nice.

Thursday was a beautiful day. One of those perfect fall days that begs for you to be outside. It was also one of those days where you wonder how on earth is life still going on at its normal break neck speed, while you seem trapped in a time warp? Jared convinced me to let him drop Ellie off with his parents then take me out for a walk... as long as I didn't have to see people, especially someone I know. He took me to places down by the many lakes in our city. He knows how much I love the water - especially lakes! We walked for several hours, then stopped and got Chick fil A via the drive through. On our way home, I realized it was the longest period of time Jared and I had been together, alone, since Ellie was born!

By Friday, I was feeling more physically uncomfortable, and more aware of the reality of what this situation actually entailed. I was still looking pregnant. I still had a baby bump that I kept rubbing out of habit. I didn't look at my body during those days. Its a cruel trick of nature to still be able to look pregnant, while not. I could easily forget for moments that I was no longer pregnant, as I was still so nauseous. Jared and Ellie joined his family for a quick dinner out for his parents anniversary.

Saturday.was.awful. I felt horrible. I was exhausted from not sleeping well the previous nights, emotionally spent. And the physical pain was constant. It was the worst kind of waiting game. By that afternoon I was really regretting waiting to have the D&C. I knew I hadn't been ready Friday, but if my OB hadn't been out of town that weekend, I know I would have called and begged him to do the procedure over the weekend. I read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt which was just the right blend of easy and entertaining light reading. While Jared went to the grocery store and Ellie napped, I forced myself to take a shower, and while I was there I set my phone to play 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman on repeat.... and sobbed.

I remember there was a football game that weekend... I don't remember if it was a home or an away game. I didn't care. Jared was watching the game on the TV in his usual spirited fashion. All I could think about was who freaking gives a care - its a stupid game!! Jared had been unbelievably supportive throughout this entire ordeal, so I wanted him to be able to enjoy the game and kind of have an escape I guess. So I went upstairs to read and hoping to get some sleep.

As exhausted as I was emotionally, mentally, and physically, I could not sleep, probably from too much pent up emotion. I tend to get through a situation completely before I can really let go and walk through the emotions of the process. However, the right music can always get to my deepest emotional spot. Its my secret weapon, I guess you could say, when I feel emotionally stuck.

By this point, I was fully expecting to have to go in for the D&C early Monday morning. I could not imagine how horrible that time would be waiting to go into the OR and waking up from anesthesia, without my baby inside me. I needed to good playlist. Songs that put words to my emotions, without me having to speak them. Songs that reminded me of my truth. Songs that focused me where I needed to be focused. So lying in bed that night, I made one, and named 10,000 Reasons in October. Then I decided to play it ... on repeat.

And I fell asleep, crying silent tears unlocked by songs yet again.

4:30 am I woke up to extreme discomfort, and within 10 minutes I was in extreme pain. I went to the bathroom, and stayed there for the next two hours on the commode. Two of the most intense hours of my life. I, unfortunately, was one of the few women to experience full blown labor during my miscarriage. With Ellie, I was induced, and received no pain meds, and this pain was almost equal to the pain I experienced with her birth. It was so intense, Jared wanted to call for an ambulance several times. One slight hiccup that we were both aware of, but never verbalized was - Ellie was sound asleep in the next room. What do you do with a 9 month old when her mom is being carried away in an ambulance having a miscarriage!?!? I was having full body tremors, like I did in labor with Ellie, was pouring sweat, dry heaving, etc... then my legs fell asleep, combined with my sleep deprived exhaustion, I couldn't hold myself up any longer. Jared finally convinced me to get back into bed, the process of which nearly made me pass out.

I think he moved me right as I was entering the "transition phase." As soon as I got back into bed, the pain exploded inside me, and I writhing on my hands and knees with my face buried in my pillow. I started bawling and begging God,"Please just give me a five minute break... I can NOT do this any longer. I need a quick break." Evidently, Jared was doing the same thing. I kid you not when I say this - as soon as those words left my mouth, the pain went completely away. I laid completely still for a few moments, both of us afraid to speak, waiting for it to start back up again. I truly thought I was being granted my five minute break, and that the pains were going to start back up again. Thankfully, they didn't. By 6:30, I was curled up on my side, being help by my husband, listening yet again to my newly made playlist, crying tears of grief and relief. And was soon asleep.

All three of miraculously slept in late that Sunday morning. Oddly, I didn't deliver the baby, etc... during the labor.  I did, however, deliver it painlessly, once I got up that morning. It was the first morning I woke up without the overwhelming nausea. And thankfully, in a very painful way, my baby bump was gone.

My mom was already planning on coming up that day to stay for several days to help out with Ellie when I had the D&C. She still came up so I could get some rest. My mom had 4 miscarriages of her own. She was the first person I spoke with on the phone or saw during this time. It was just nice having someone (especially your mom) who knew without being told exactly what you were going through.

Because I had gotten so sick so early on in the pregnancy, a lot of people found out about the pregnancy. The bummer about social media is its a great way to spread fun and exciting news like this:
But there really isn't a way to "take back" that kind of news.  I am just not the type of person who can update my facebook status or  twitter with "we miscarried." Therefore, I have received several post miscarriage pregnancy congratulations, as well as comments like,"wow, you look like you are finally feeling so much better." Those are awkward and uncomfortable moments for everyone involved!

I also get asked a lot about how we are doing. And honestly, the answer is, and always has been - we are really doing ok. Its not the path we would have chosen for sure, but we trust God's sovereignty. So far, I can honestly say I am not mad at God. However, as time has gone on, I am realizing how hurt my feelings towards Him are.

The Tuesday following the miscarriage, we decided to go ahead and go to our Bible Studies on campus, and I even led the girls discussion. You just have to get back to living at some point, and it was a small step I felt comfortable with taking. On the way there, Jared turned on the radio, and it was on a Christian station. I quickly changed the channel. I knew 95% of their songs had the potential to make me cry, and I didn't want to do that at that moment. The following Sunday, during our main weekly service with students, there was  change in order of service, and worship was at the end. A wave of emotion came over me as the first chords were struck, and I realized I hadn't listened to any form of christian music since the night of my miscarriage. So while I am not, to the best of my knowledge, mad at God, there are probably some much more negative (and naturally healthy) emotions deep down inside that I still have to come in contact with.

One of the most odd emotions, that both Jared and I expressed, was our sadness for Ellie. I especially was so excited with Ellie getting to have a sibling so close in age to her, but that train left and the opportunity is now gone forever.

When we were trying to conceive with Ellie, I thought I was in the midst of the greatest baby boom imaginable. Wrong! I miscarried in the middle of the biggest baby boom I have ever experienced. We literally have fewer non-pregnant friends and family, minus the college students (thank God on numerous levels) then pregnant ones. We got a late start on our family, and I missed getting to be pregnant with many of my friends and family the first time around. This was my chance, and I was thrilled about it. That train has pulled out of the station too, and we are left on a different track.

The amazingly awesome fact that we got pregnant without trying or even thinking about it, is not lost on me. The miracle of that is a huge part of what has carried me through this. I realize there may be many (or one or two people) who are going to read this and want to drop kick their computer or hand held device over a cliff yelling, "get over yourself, at least you have a baby and then freaking got pregnant on your own without any assistance." Believe me, I have been there and know what that is like, and because of having been there, I feel like I really should put my big girl panties on and shut up, while kissing the chubby cheek of my little Ellie Faith. I have been blessed beyond what I could imagine and have what so many of you out there are longing for.

Speaking of Ellie Faith, I said from the beginning, I could not imagine how on earth we would have gotten through this without her. I have known so many people who miscarry before ever giving birth to a live child, and having never been there, I can not even begin to comprehend what that must be like. She has been a constant and tangible reminder of God's ever present love and grace in our lives. However, I am also realizing that having a kid leaves you with another set of grieving  - I know what I am missing out on. Before having Ellie, we didn't know what being parents was like. We knew we wanted to be parents, but you can not experience the emotions and bonds formed with a child until you become a parent. I realize I will never get to experience that first moment of holding this baby, kissing that forehead, marveling at the fingers and toes, watching those eyelashes grown, etc... I know exactly what that is like, and I know exactly what I am missing.

One is not better or harder  - miscarrying with or without a child... they are both different, but in the end, the same - you lost, and therefore, will never know your baby.

This next phase, though not as acutely difficult, will probably be the hardest. Everyone moves on and begins to forget eventually... but the mom does so at a much slower pace then those around her. I was physically aware of my baby almost every second of every day until the miscarriage ended, due to the sickness. So in one sense, feeling soooo much better now physically, is a help in recovering. But the emotional recovery has to be taken a day at a time... for a long time I am afraid.

I realize, I have never asked my mom if she did anything to remember her angel babies - a keepsake, and momento, etc... I know I have never been aware of any. I have no doubt she remembers her due dates, etc... I couldn't decide if I wanted to do anything or not, until last night. I was talking to a lady at our small group who lost their first baby, and she said she planted a rose bush that they have transplanted at every house they have lived in, and how much it means to her. That made me decide I want to do something/get something. But I am just not sure what yet.

In case I forget, or need reminding, Baby Ross #2 - we found out about you on August 22, 2012. On September 19, 2012 we saw and heard your precious heart flutter away. On October 10, we learned you went back home to be with Jesus. On October 14, you and I became physically separated forever. But you will remain, forever in my heart, as my second baby.

I can not imagine right now referring to our next child, if God should bless us with one, as our second child, but lets be real, if we called them our 3rd that would required a lot of explaining, and really... it would just be plain weird. But I am not ready to have another Baby Ross #2 yet... and I think it might be quite a while before I am.

So for now, I am packing up the dreams God planted... putting them away so that I can look back at them, and see where they brought me. I was telling our college girls in our bible study this week that if they look back on their life, they will probably be surprised that some of their most defining moments wouldn't just be their first state championship, their first kiss, or college acceptance, but instead times in their life where they thought they were loosing, being robbed, hurt, or missing out. I encouraged them to go back and look at their life story from time to time. Otherwise, they might miss out on realizing some of the best gifts and accomplishments in life.

So for me, I am putting one foot in front of other, surrounding myself with God's truth and the Body of Christ, and learning to be the best mom I can be to my first miracle baby.

After all, her name, Elliott Faith, means: the Lord is my God to trust. And every time I look at her I am reminded of such.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's Your Birthday, Lolli!

Its been a long time since I last posted anything here! I have just been enjoying a summer of motherhood. I fully intended to start back up, but life took some crazy twists and turns. Today is my mom's birthday, and I hacked her blog to leave her a message from Ellie. I realized it summed up our life lately pretty well. So I am posting it here too... plus I think it shows just what an awesome mom I have!

Hope everyone had a wonderful summer and is enjoying this gorgeous fall. Maybe I will get back to blogging soon... I really have missed it!

Happy Birthday, Lolli!
Never underestimate my mommy’s ability to hack into any type of online account. I better remember that myself when I get older, uh? I mean... I  know I am basically perfect in your eyes, but mommy has been saying something about “attitude checks” and “that doesn’t make mommy and Jesus very happy” a lot lately. It is usually around the time I am screaming crying because she just doesn’t understand what I am trying to tell her via telepathy and my eyes. She thinks she is so smart because she uses those mouth noises to communicate (and I mean a lot of mouth noises) but I prefer the higher forms of silent communication. I think she thinks I am the one with “issues” but you and I both know the truth here... after all, you raised my mommy and know her quirks better than anyone.

For all my mommy’s crazy ( and often high and mighty) ideas about motherhood, I know eventually she is going to get this whole new role figured out... I mean, like today. She thought it would be a great “family memory making moment” by going to the pumpkin patch, followed by some tailgating at your alma mater. Here is exactly how I, at 9.5 months old, felt about that brilliant idea. 

But I like I said, I know she will get the hang of it eventually...I just hope it is before I become a mommy myself! I know this because you were her role model. I hear her talk about how blessed she was to have you as a mom all the time. Remember how I said she uses all those mouth noises for communication? Well, she does that whole talking thing a lot. Does she get that from you or Pop? Anyway she talks a lot about you, what you say/tell her, what she has learned (in good ways) from you. She shares a lot about something called “future tripping” that you are always cautioning her about. She also is very thankful for the gift of having parents (especially a mom) who was willing and able to ask for forgiveness. I guess that forgiveness thing is a big deal for you adults. Me, I prefer just some silly smiles and a snuggle. But whatevs... to each his own, as YOUR mom likes to say. Even though I don’t use my words much to communicate, I do listen. I hear what she says. I pick up on a lot more then she probably gives me credit for, and it sounds like you are pretty darn cool.

I am really excited that you all think I am going to call you, and my mom’s dad, Lolli and Pop. Yeah, that sounds pretty creative - you are my LolliPops! Won’t it be funny to see what decide to call you? Based on the way you always give me whatever I want, often before I even know I want it, I don’t think you are going to care too much what I call you. Once you hear my sweet angelic voice making a mouth noise that means you, I will have you right where I want you!

I know it makes you really sad that I live so far away. Speaking for “far away” would you please correct your daughter the next time she says the drive from Knoxville to Nashville isn’t bad at all? Clearly, its been too long since she last rode, strapped in a five point harness, in a car seat. Aren’t parents supposed to be smart? But back to living far away from each other... I have been doing some thinking and looking back over my life, and I discovered you and I really have experienced a lot of life together already. Seriously, some of my biggest life moments I experienced with you! So I thought I would just remind you of our precious moments together.

Remember this day? It was May 22, 2011, two days before mommy and daddy’s 4th anniversary. You were the first person, other then my parents, to know about me. Well, God knew... but He knew about me LONG before anyone else knew. Even while mommy was crying all those tears wondering if she would ever get to be a mommy. Again, I thought adults were supposed to be smart? For all your smarts, you just don’t give God nearly enough credit. Mom talked to you the most (other then daddy) about her pregnancy with me. It was kind of a dramatic pregnancy…. she blames that on me… I say,”Apples don’t fall too far from the tree, mom.” I sure am glad you convinced her to call the doctor that day she went into preterm labor. I was trying to tell her something was up, but again… mom and I are still working on our communication.

You were also the first person they told about me scheduled delivery. You, Pop, Uncle Christopher, and Aunt Gracie were the first people to come support mom and dad at the hospital when those doctors decided to force me out into the world.

You were the first of my family to see me, and you commented on my curly hair. Does this mean I have you to thank for that “jinxing thing” I hear grown ups talk about? Because, I am pretty much bald now, and people think I am a boy if I don’t have a bow on my head.

I know how much you wanted to hold me once I was here, but mommy and addy became kind of obsessed with me. And you waited, in silencepatiently, until I was a day old for my mommy to place me in your arms.

 I felt at home in your arms immediately.

Do you think I look like your first baby? Lots of people said I do.
But I kind of look my daddy too.

Regardless, I definitely have my mommy’s attitude. Where does she get that spunk? Both you and Pop seem so chill!

I know leaving me to go back to Nashville that first time was beyond torture for you, but for real – thanks for getting better since then. It made my mom cry too, and she is not a pretty crier!

You came back the next week, and we had a great time together, making lots of memories.

You took me out of my first mini road trips: to visit great-grandma and great-“aunt” Tammy.

I took my first bottle from you… see that’s why I don’t take one anymore. It was our special moment. The moment passed. Why does mom keep trying to recreate our moment?

Our matching outfits were pretty fetch! (Fetch is a phrase from one of mommy’s favorite movies and it makes Daddy roll his eyes whenever its on. Something about mean girls or something… they say Fetch. Its sounds cool. Remember to tell mommy I really do pick up on more then she realizes.) I mean, me and mommy still don’t have matching outfits.

 I knew you couldn’t stay gone too long. Soon you and Aunt Gracie came to spend a few days, and then you took me and mommy on our first road trip together back to where my mom grew up.

We came back to Nashville a few weeks later for Uncle Christopher’s Senior day game. My tummy really hurt but you could get me to calm down. You can always calm me down.

Oh, this is funny. Remember how much you (and dad’s mom) hated my straight jacket. Ok, so my mommy does some crazy things with me, but I will give her credit here – I loved my woombie! I am glad you eventually became a believer.

I wasn’t there for you and Pop’s anniversary, but don’t worry, I was dragged into yet another photo shoot to help celebrate the day. Thanks Pinterest for feeding my mom with even more ideas then her somewhat odd brain already comes up with.

And who can forget when you, mom, and I crossed several states on our epic road trip to Springfield, MO for Uncle Christopher and Aunt Gracie’s National Basketball Tournament? People said mom was crazy for trying it, but I will give it that girl… it was a lot of fun! I got so spoiled held by so many people! It was also during this trip that I really started to smile on command, and even giggle a little. You captured lots of these moments with your camera. Dad really missed me!

We weren’t together on Easter Sunday, but we did travel up to Kingsport to visit with family that weekend. Pop added to my Easter Basket with Dr. Suess’ Hop of Pop.

And you bought me my pretty Easter dress. 

Then life got kind of crazy, and I had to spend a lot more time in my car seat then I would have liked. So what if I sleep most of the road trip? It’s the only way to forget the misery also known as a carseat.

We came back for Uncle Daniel’s Hooding ceremony. That was really long and really hot!

Nanny and PopPop had a big anniversary celebration, and it wore me out. A girl can only be admired so much.

You and mommy got to celebrate her first Mother’s Day together. She says I am her favorite present ever, but that iPhone Dad got her is definitely giving me a run for my money.

Daddy left me and mommy back with you for a few days afterwards, and I got sick for the first time. But you said I was the sweetest (if not the snottiest) sick baby ever.

Then Uncle Christopher graduated, so it was yet another occasion for me to get dressed up and forced to be quiet… but admired by many.

Road Trip! You planned an awesome trip to the beach with some of my favorite ladies – mommy, Aunt Gracie, Aunt, Jenny, and you! 

Dad was kind of sad he missed my first toes in the sand experience, but mom said it was fine, I wouldn’t remember. That’s what she thinks.

Since it was Daddy’s first Father’s Day, we stayed home to celebrate with him. But isn’t it funny how much changes in a year?

I know we didn’t get to see each other as much as we would have liked to after this, but we had a few fun quick trips….

… and since mommy has that new iPhone, she sends lots of pictures (she takes way more!)

Then this thing came into our life called the Olympics. Mom made a big deal about it. The synchronized swimming was cool, but other then that I was unimpressed. However, I did enjoy getting to watch the opening ceremonies with you.

Silly mommy thinks these historic-to-her moments should be important to my life too. Is this another thing I can “thank” Pinterest for?

 Mommy and Daddy took me to the beach with my other grandparents and aunts.

 I kept looking for you, but you never showed up.

Don’t worry though, I still had a good time, and remained stylish, sweet and sassy.

We announced some big news to our family while we were there – I was going to be a Big Sister! 

Everyone was really happy, and kept reassuring me I wouldn’t be forgotten, but my world was getting ready to be rocked. I wasn’t worried… Like anyone could take my place? I feel like I am really getting the hang of this life thing, and that I have knowledge to pass down to younger generations.

After the beach, we started going to the doctor a lot and watching a big tv at the doctor’s office, but it wasn’t Baby Einstein, so I wasn’t interested at all. Mommy was really sick and just laid around on the couch a bunch, worried she was being a bad mommy, and stressed about me not crawling. You assured her I was going to be just fine. I mean, I could have told her that.

Because you and Pop are so awesome, you drove up to Knoxville for just a few hours, to keep me after Dad’s grandmother passed away. Thanks for rescuing me from that funeral. People just weren’t fawning over me enough for my taste. I mean, could they not see how cute I was looking?
And why do people get so sad when people die. Mawmaw is with Jesus, so shouldn’t we be celebrating?

Finally, mom and dad took me back to see you! It was about time! Not only did I get to see you, but I got to meet a lot of your extended family and friends. Being that admired wears a girl out! You are the only person I ever fall asleep on! It kind of irks mommy a little bit that I don’t snuggle/sleep on her more often, but what can I say? Who wouldn’t choose a pro over a novice any day?

Then one day, we had to go back to look at that boring TV screen at the doctor’s office, and afterwards mommy and daddy got really sad. We spent many days together, just the three of us. It was kind of weird, cause we are never home that much, but it was really nice too. I got tons of holdings, hugs, and kisses! Mommy and Daddy kept telling me what a gift I was and how blessed they were to have me. Glad they finally figured that out! Mommy says my Big Sister status is on hold for now, that my baby sibling had to go home to be with Jesus. I think its pretty cool that I have a sibling in Heaven, so I don’t understand why mommy still cries at the most random times. Doesn’t she realize how awesome Heaven is? I mean, its where Jesus and the Angles are. It was about this time she started singing this song to me about being, “my sunshine… you make me happy when skies are gray.”
Speaking of babies and angles, Mommy says that you have four babies in Heaven with Jesus. She says it gives her comfort that our baby had 4 aunts/uncles, a Mawmaw, and a Grandpa waiting for his/hers arrival into Heaven.

Dad and I were so glad you came to be with us after the baby went to Heaven. Mommy just wasn’t herself, but we knew you would know just what to do, not  do, say or not say. You took perfect care of us, just like you have been taking perfect care of mommy all her life.  I heard mommy say it was nice knowing that you knew exactly what she was going through without her having to spell it out for you. That just you being here was very comforting and healing. She also told me, she will get through this in time, partly because she watched you do it before when she was a little girl.

You and I had a lot of fun, and since you spoiled me rotten, I, in return gave you lots of sweet cuddles and snuggles.
That pretty much takes us up to the present. Since you don’t get to see me every day of my sweet, precious life, here are some glimpses into my life, struggling to get by without you.
Mom is sending me very mixed sports messages – apparently Dad and Pop like different sports teams. And supposedly, I am about to have to start wearing a lot of purple for Pop and Uncle Christopher, which is great for me – I love purple. But how sad that Pop and Uncle Christopher have to wear such girlie colors. What’s up with that?
I also wear lots of overalls in honor of Pop. Mommy knows how much he likes them.
Finally, here is the reason keeping me from seeing you every weekend. Mommy and Daddy do something called college ministry. Not exactly sure what all that means, other then I stay up way later then my friends, get loved on by a bunch of cool big kids, and I hear a lot of people trying to make sense of Jesus. Again, I thought adults and big kids were supposed to be smart. Its pretty fun though, but I wish we got to see you more.

Here is the present Mommy and Daddy gave you for your birthday last year, in honor of yours truly. 
Just wait until you see what you are getting this year – its way cooler. Mommy even cried a little talking to Pop about it the other night. And she said Pop choked up too, which I think means cry… I didn’t think boys cried? But Daddy cried the last time we watched the TV screen at the doctor’s office, and now Mommy says Pop cries… Mommy promises she will always and only ever tell me the truth, so it must be true. I guess maybe I do have a few more things to learn about life after all….

Well, at least I know I have you, Lolli, to help me figure this life thing out. You raised my mommy, and well, she is kind of my favorite person right now, so you know just how to do things the way I like.

I love you, Lolli!
Elliott Faith ~ your most favoritest person in the whole wide world! (And don't you forget it!)