Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two Years

I woke up disgruntled this morning. It was 4:37 am. Jude was crying. My almost one year old is not even close to sleeping through the night and I am exhausted to say the least. He moaned and groaned and squirmed for a good 30 minutes before looking up at me, his mama, and smiling a contented smile. He laid his head on my chest, eyes wide open, and finally settled in to me. Perfection.

I looked at the clock. It was 5:17 am. Two years ago, at this time, I was holding my baby girl. After several grueling hours of intense labor Finley was born at 3:09 am. It was a Sunday. She weighed 4 lbs 12 oz and was 16 inches long. She had Daniel's nose and my lips. She had the longest fingers and the daintiest hands.

What I wouldn't give for her middle of the night moans and groans, her loudest cries and her stubborn sleep-fighting tears. I can still feel the misplaced shock and the gut wrenching pain that I felt when upon my final push she didn't make a sound. It was tragic. All consuming. Breaking my heart and blackening my memories in one swift blow.

We left the hospital on Monday. We left quietly ...amidst the cries of new, pink, chubby babies being cradled by tired mothers and examined by proud fathers. We were wheeled down the back hallways, averting our eyes, and silent. We were ushered into our car with mutters of well wishes, a stuffed animal to fill my weak and empty arms.

I didn't know how I was going to survive. I was sure I wouldn't.
Thankfully, without pause, Daniel knew that we would. Our parents knew that we would. Countless friends and acquaintances and even strangers knew that we would. And without a doubt, my faithful Father KNEW that we would.

I clung to His promise... that He would be faithful. That He would be my everlasting light. That He would guide me through both the day and the night. And He never left my side. Never once did I ever walk alone.

And here I am two years later, celebrating and remembering the little girl who forever changed me. The little girl who gives me hope for something much greater than this life. The little girl who I can not wait to hold once again, stroking her hair and kissing her face basking in the Glory of our Redeemer.

Though there is immeasurable heartache and grief in this walk we have been chosen for, there is also so much light and love. Reminders of His mercy....

This morning Eli and I laid in bed curled up with one another and had this conversation:

Me: "Today is such a special day..."

Eli: "What is it today, mama?"

Me: "It's your sister's birthday. Finley's birthday."

Eli: "I remember Finley, where is she?"

Me: "She's in heaven with God. But she is watching down on us all the time..."

Eli: "I want to go up there, mom. I want to go to heaven."

Me: "Me too buddy!"

Eli: "We can fly up there mom. With Jude too. He can carry you. Or we can build a really big tower to get there."

Me: "Do you think it's beautiful up there? What do you think it's like?"

Eli: "Well God is there. And Finley. And all the little children too. I want to go there mommy..."

It hurt but felt so good to assure him that one day we would all be up there together, singing with the angels. We sang a quiet and sleepy "Happy Birthday" to our best girl and I thanked the Lord for blessing us with her.

This journey has been rough. Two years filled with the ebb and flow of anger, pain, sorrow, and despair... but through it all we have been filled with so much hope, we have regained our joy, we have seen and felt our Father's love, we have been surrounded by grace and mercy. I would not have changed a thing.

I am thankful every day for my baby girl. For the 7 months I was able to feel her squirming and kicking, for the 2 days I was able to cradle her in my arms, and for the endless days ahead knowing that she is waiting for me in a much more beautiful and peaceful place... twirling and laughing in the golden light of His kingdom.

I love you Finley. Happy Second Birthday, darling little one. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

9 Month Update on Jude

Jude is now 9 months! I can't believe time is flying so fast. It seems even faster than it went with Eli....
That's just not fair.

Jude is now 19 pounds 13 ounces and 29 inches.

Jude is definitely a unique personality in our house. He is really starting to show WHO he is and WHO God made him to be, other than another cute face to kiss!

I always say that Jude is my "introvert" baby and that Eli "talks enough for the two of them". It's true.
Eli and Jude are completely different in this regard. Jude is more of a quiet observer. He will usually only babble if there are just a few people around and only to someone he is comfortable with. His personality really blossoms in the quiet and peaceful moments.

Jude is also extremely patient. Maybe this is a trait of younger siblings, but I think that maybe it is unique to him as a person too. He really does have more patience than me! He allows Eli more grace than is deserved on a daily basis. He let's Eli roll all over him, pinch his cheeks, get in his face, pull him around, put toys on his head, etc. and takes it all in stride. Don't get me wrong, Eli definitely knows how to push Jude's buttons, but overall he is a champ.

Jude is a cuddler. As much of an introvert he may be, he will not pass up the chance to cuddle. Whether it be someone he knows or someone he has just met, he will take some lovin' any day of the week. When a stranger or person he's not around very much picks him up he always gives them a stare down... but he is pretty much content with anyone after this initial stare down. It's like he has to check out who this new person is and look at every feature before he is content.

Jude really, really adores his big brother. When he wakes up in the morning his first "words" are "bruh, bruh" which is what he calls Eli. He is always looking for him when Eli isn't in the room. When Eli is playing, Jude wants to go play by him or sit by him. When Eli is eating, Jude is right next to him looking at what he's doing. When Eli is acting like a crazy toddler, Jude is entranced! I love this bond that they are creating. I pray that it only strengthens as they grow older.

One of Jude's quirks that I absolutely LOVE is when he "rears up" on his legs in the middle of a crawl. He will do this when he is playful, when he wants to catch my eye or giggle with me, when he wants to hold up a toy, and mostly whenever Eli is being silly and he starts to get excited. It is so precious! I will be sad when he starts to walk and isn't doing this anymore!

Speaking of crawling, this little boy is always on the move. Usually because he is chasing Eli. He is crawling around so much that he is starting to get callouses on his little knees! They are usually bright red by the end of the day! I need to get him some knee guards! Not only is he crawling, but he is pulling up on everything, cruising around furniture, and when I am standing still he will "stand up" next to me and hold on to my pants/shorts. He is a busy bee. However, he seems to be more cautious than Eli was. He doesn't really let go of any support while standing and if he does it by accident he gets a terrified look on his face! He is just not ready to walk yet!

About a week and a half ago Jude's top teeth (and a surprise bottom right one) FINALLY cut through! They were giving him so much trouble! A runny nose, BAD sleep, pink cheeks, and sore gums. The poor baby was drooling up a storm and chewing on his tongue constantly! He was waking up every 2-3 hours and sometimes staying awake for 2-3 hrs on top of that! It was a bad couple of weeks, but now that they are through we have a happier baby... albeit the sleep has not drastically improved!

Despite his new chompers, Jude is still not really into food! It is such a different experience from Eli! He is just NOT interested. He likes pureed baby food okay, but doesn't seem to WANT to eat it. Whenever I give him something that is remotely solid he will get a really surprised/confused look and just pass it around in his mouth before spitting it out, gagging, or swallowing it. The funny thing is whenever he is around anyone who is eating he lunges for their plate/fork/spoon as if he is starving! We have found a few things he has seemed to enjoy (refried beans, potatoes, cheese, banana), but he still will only eat a few TINY bites.

Jude is a daddy's boy through and through. He adores his brother and loves his mama, but daddy is on the next level. He only wants daddy to put him to sleep, he only wants daddy to calm him down. Daddy is the best thing to him (besides for his bottles). When Daddy gets home from work he squeals and crawls as fast as he can toward the door! I love to see this beautiful start to their relationship! It is so very sweet!

We are so thankful that we have Jude in our lives and we can't imagine a world without him in it! The past 9 months have been a whirlwind, but a blessed one! It is an amazing thing to be a mom to two little boys who fill my days with so much love... I never knew my heart could love two little people so fully and completely!

Jude, we can't wait to see what the next few months will bring us as we approach your 1st birthday! We love you so much, little man! And we love you for the unique person that God made you to be!
Happy 9 Months, Juju!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Family Pictures 2013

Grandma White wanted some new family pictures of everyone, so after our Blue Ridge Vacation we headed to McMinnville and while we were there we were able to go out and take pictures around town.

I was really happy with what we came out with! The pictures of the cousins were so cute and the kids were so good. We sure do have some sweet little faces in our family!

Here are my favorites:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jude Claps!

Jude started (actually) clapping today! It is SO cute!

He's been trying for a while now, but has never actually hit his hands together. Well, today he finally figured it out!

If we say "Yayyyy!!!" or "Clap, clap, clap!" he will start clapping and get a huge smile on his face! He will also clap if Eli is "performing" for him or acting silly.

Such a fun milestone!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Blue Ridge Vacation 2013

We are just wrapping up our last vacation of summer in the Blue Ridge mountains... I can't believe school is starting and Fall is around the corner!

This past weekend we spent three days with my family in a cabin in the mountains. It was such a fun-filled weekend in the great outdoors.

Eli and Jude were able to experience hiking and waterfalls for the very first time. Eli loved exploring in the woods - the dirt, the water, the "adventure" of it all! He was a little trooper when we went hiking and he even surprised me with what he was capable of! As always, Jude was our mellow little addition to the adventures - always taking everything in around him and as content as could be all the while being carried and passed off from one person to the next! He even fell asleep on Papaw's shoulders several times while hiking!

We had so much fun getting to spend quality time with our family whom we love so much!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Four Years Closer to Forever

This day four years ago was my wedding day. I was a 21 year old bride with not a care in the world other than loving him, my groom.

He was my first love; my only love.

Our love didn't start out with a steady friendship or a slow realization. It began with a spark that ignited into a blazing wildfire, burning steadily and gradually until slowly settling into the peaceful comfort of glowing embers.

We were young, in love, and with eyes on each other we were confident that we could take on the world hand in hand.

I presume it was unsurprising to our wiser, married friends and family that in the wake of our vows the world came on hard and fast.

Together we have seen tragedy, we have looked into each others eyes and seen a cold, dark emptiness taking residence. We have witnessed each other crumble under grief, the pieces of our hearts falling apart almost tangibly. We have mourned together; deeply and gutturally taking each other to places deep inside that were once hidden even from ourselves.

Our love has been tested and tried, there is no doubt. Yet four years later we are standing and we are standing stronger than ever. While we have suffered the greatest heartache, we have also experienced the greatest joy.

Together we have seen each other become something more than a partner, a husband and a wife. We have seen love come alive, bright and beautiful, in the faces of our sons. We have seen and held an angel who constantly reminds us that what we are waiting for is not of this world. We have have picked up the pieces of each other and put them back gently, our faith renewed and our hope claiming wings to soar.

Four years later and those embers are still glowing.

Four years later and I still see glimpses of that cocky senior boy who stole my heart, the hopeless romantic who nervously asked me to be his "husband" that Christmas morning...
but these days I also get to see a dedicated father who once woke up in the middle of the night so tired that he tried to soothe a pillow back to sleep, a hardworking husband who's number one priority is taking care of his family, and a selfless partner who always puts me on a pedestal that I am usually unworthy to even step foot on.

I couldn't ask for a more selfless or loving man to share this life with. I pray we share many more years side by side, hand in hand. Thank you Lord for giving me this love.

Happy 4th Anniversary, Daniel.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Potty Training Continued....

Last week this crazy boy...

...started wearing his underwear to bed and has been accident free each night!

We had been in a month long perpetual diaper at night, so we decided to take the plunge and have him wear underwear to bed! What a champ! Day and night potty trained! We are so very proud... and excited that we only have one child to change diapers on!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Random Photo Shoot Day

Today me, Kaysi, and the boys went exploring around West Knoxville and found some cool, hidden spots to take some pictures. I finally got to practice using my camera and I got some pretty good shots of the boys too! Here are some of my favorites from the day: