Sunday, October 30, 2016

Smiles for Days...

Grace had her first field trip with her school!  They went to Dewberry Farm.  She rode the bus there and loved it.  While at the field trip with Grace, I got to talk to Ms. Scott, the bus driver, and immediately had a sense of peace about allowing Grace to ride the bus home from school each day.  This is a huge step for us, but one that the Lord has so tenderly prepared us for, much like He did when calling us to send Grace to our public school from the private school that we absolutely loved.  God's ways are always best, even when they are hard, scary, or down right mortifying!

 Don't let Grace's skunky face in this picture fool you, she had a great time!

Grace was so proud of the pumpkin she picked!

Sweet friends!  Love how this sweetie looks after Grace!

My handsome Cub Scout had pictures with his Den last week.

Field Day fun!  One of the highlights of Field Day was getting to spend time with Abby and "the girls."  These precious girls are triplets and all have autism.  Abby has loved them like family since the day she met them in Kindergarten (they are all in 4th grade now).  "The girls" are celebrities in our family, when Andrew sees them at school he always tries to get them to say hi or interact with him in some way. One of the girls uttered her first word at 6 years old when she wanted to communicate with Abby who was playing with her during recess.  God has used that day to remind me of the much bigger picture that He is weaving together when we can only see the painful and uncertain situation before us.  I will never forget being in the hospital with David and Grace in Boston (I can't remember which of her heart surgeries it was).  On that particular day, we had received a call in the middle of the night that her doctors were concerned that Grace may be having seizures.  We were obviously concerned about her very sick heart and now we faced the prospect of having to battle seizures too...  it was on that day we got an email from Abby's teacher (she was in 1st grade at the time) sharing with us the celebration that had taken place at school when this amazing little girl (one of "the girls") had spoken for the first time.  Abby had no idea and still doesn't totally get the magnitude of that day because in her mind she was just hanging out with her special friends.  It was that day that God hit me square in between the eyes with the clear reminder that He was doing a much bigger work than the fears and concerns that were right under our nose.  It's as if I had been living with my head starring down at the bland, cracked, and uneven pavement and He gently took my chin, ushering it upwards to take in the beauty of the scenery, His creation around me...  the radiant fall leaves, crisp air, and beautiful architecture, occupying every inch of space around me.  All that to say, the Lord has used "the girls" in our family's life in ways that far exceed what Abby or the rest of us could ever give them.  The PE teachers allowed Abby and her friend to be partnered with "the girls" for Field Day, so I got to do games and even an obstacle course with them too!

Then, I got to hang with my sweet boy and his buddy.  Lately, I've wondered if Andrew even cares that I attend his field trips, come to eat lunch with him when I can, etc (because he doesn't show it as overtly as Abby), but the giant smile on his face when he saw me, the run, and huge hug that followed confirmed that my presence there did matter.  A hot, but blessed day all around!

Grace's bestie came to watch her soccer game!  Grace would run down the field and then stop to make sure Sadie was watching, she would say "Sadie cheer for Gracie!" and then proceed to blow her a kiss and/or give her a thumbs up!  These two are too much!

The cutest besties EVER!!!

We took the big kids to their first official concert!  We went to see For King and Country and KB (one of our favorite Christian rappers).

Two of Grace's new favorite activities...
Taking Twinkie for a walk...

And singing "Old Ball Game" (also known as Take Me Out to the Ball Game), especially while watching the Cubbies play!

(((HUGS))) and blessings to each of you this week!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Overdue Update

Sorry we've been MIA...  Just trying to keep up!  Here is a sort of random update, but an update never the less :-).

Grace has been killing it at soccer!  I have to be honest, her games are sort of therapeutic (despite the scorching temperatures) because all we do is sit there and laugh at how amazing it is that Grace can keep up with her typical peers, the way she runs down the field looking at us on the sideline (without any real concern about where the ball is) with a huge smile on her face, while often times giving us a thumbs up because she just loves that we are all there cheering her on.  When she gets her foot on the ball at all we celebrate, especially when it's not a kick off.  I think her absolute favorite part about playing soccer is the tunnel at the end...  check out the picture below as proof!  Just the fact that she's out there running up and down the field, having had 5 open heart surgeries, with a heart that has literally been knit back together, makes her a rockstar in our eyes.  To God be the glory!!! That scene is a stark contrast from Abigail's games, where we are on the edge of our seats the whole time!

We took Andrew to get a haircut and this one insisted that she get her hair cut too!  She LOVES haircut time!

Some of Grace's sweet friends at school!  She/we continue to LOVE her sweet school!  She gets to go on her first school field trip this week, I can't wait!!!

In addition to knowing all her letters, most of their sounds, and how to write a few of them, she easily knows 20 sight words and could probably learn a whole lot more if I worked on it a little more with her.  She loves playing sight word games together. 

The kids had to make a doll about themselves.  Here is Andrew's!  I forgot to take a picture of Abigail's :-/

You know that feeling when you see your kids' school calling on your cellphone and all of the possible scenarios run through your mind as you wait for the nurse to hurry up and get past the introductions?  Well, that call came from Grace's school because another child opened the door and hit Grace in the head, causing it to split open.  Off to the ER we went and she was the best patient ever!  Praise the Lord she didn't need stitches, just some glue.  

It always cracks me up when Dr's or nurses try to explain to Grace what they are going to do to her (when it comes to taking vitals, etc) and they quickly realize she probably knows enough about the process to do her own vitals.  She's an old pro and so tough!  I was actually grateful it was her that needed to go to the ER, instead of our other daughter who is not nearly as tough when it comes to Dr/ER visits.  

***side note- Grace had a Cardiology appointment last week and her valve is unchanged (giant praises are in order), so we don't go back for another 5 months!!!

A new love of Abigail and Andrew's is the Harry Potter series!  Abigail has read through the 3rd book and they just finished watching the 3rd movie.  Abigail has never enjoyed reading for pleasure until falling in love with the Harry Potter series, so it's been fun to watch her love of reading blossom.  For Halloween, Andrew will be Harry Potter and Abigail, Hermione.  For those of you who know Abigail well, you know that she is not one to dress up and when she does it's a nonfiction character (ex. last year she was a Pine Cove counselor for Halloween), so the fact that she's excited to be Hermione says a lot. 

I had my first asp sighting and encounter at the soccer field last week.  I just so happened to set my arm down on the asp while talking to a friend and when I felt a sting on my arm, I turned slightly to get a good look at my arm under some light and somehow leaned on the asp.  The result was an asp sting on my arm and back!  With that kind of luck, I was seriously considering playing the lottery!  Everything you have heard about those nasty furry caterpillars is true.  The sting HURTS and the pain can end up radiating up your arm into your armpit for hours. 

One of our new favorite traditions is to memorize a new bible verse each week on the way to school.  This was last weeks, one of my favorites!  

Abigail's soccer team had a tournament last weekend, which meant 4 games in two days!  You don't have to look hard to find Abigail, she's the tiny tot in the picture.

They WON!  I'm so proud of these girls!

Abigail receiving her trophy.  She's cracking up because her coach was calling some of the girls up by their nicknames, hers is "squirrel" because she is fast like a little squirrel.

Andrew had a field trip where the parents got to meet them at a park for lunch after they went to see a play.  We ate for about 10 minutes max and then he was off to play with his friends.  For a second, I was tempted to think that he could care less whether I was there for those 10 minutes or not, but I was quickly reminded that just being there was speaking to his second love language, quality time.  His top love language is words of affirmation, so I tried to make sure to speak words of affirmation to him in those 10 short minutes, trusting that his love tank was topped off and he would be ready to face the world the rest of the day.  If you haven't read the 5 Love Languages for Kids, I highly recommend it;  It was SO eye opening as to how we can purposefully fill our children's love tanks by communicating unconditional love to them, even when it comes to discipline. 

Andrew always blows us away (and cracks us up) with his creativity.  Here is a drawing of Sylvester the Cat that Andrew drew from memory after having only seen him on TV only a couple of times, for a few minutes each time.

Check out his Tweetie Bird!!!

 Last night was our first "I have a voice" annual Gigi's Playhouse Gala!  To say that it was absolutely, positively AMAZING is an understatement, but the details will have to wait until next weeks blog post because I don't have any pics to share from it yet and I'm far too exhausted to do it justice on this post.  Going to bed at almost 1:00 am reminds me of just how old we are since it takes me days to recover (especially after being up at 4:00 am that morning to get in a long run before the kids got up and David had to go play soccer).

As a teaser, here is one of my favorite pictures (taken by my dear friend, Shelby) of Grace that was taken for our table at the gala.

Praying you have a blessed week, knowing that you are deeply loved and cherished by your Heavenly Father despite how you feel, your circumstances, or what others may say!