How We See Her

My dad's oldest brother, Jack, died on January 29th after a three month battle with cancer. I, along with two of my first cousins, had the privilege of driving my grandfather from the memorial service to the graveside because his knees kept him from being able to climb into the car in which my grandmother and their other three sons were riding.

There is one thing Poppy said during that car ride that I will never forget. He said that it felt just like yesterday when he was tucking his four boys into bed and kissing them all on the head.

I realize that I am 33 (gasp!) and not 89, but I understand how he feels. I cannot believe how quickly life is moving along, particularly that Virginia is already 8 years old.

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Findley and I were talking in the car on the way to Memphis for Easter about how we see Virginia differently than most other people see her.

People are always saying things to me like, "Oh, but she's so happy" or "I am so glad you are her parents."

Well, yes, she is usually pretty happy, and I am certainly grateful for that, but my other two children are happy also. And I am glad we are her parents, too, but we would have been her parents even if she had been spared such a devastating brain injury.

Please don't think I am offended by either of those comments, but Findley and I realized that they illustrate the gap between how we see Virginia and how everyone else sees her.

I think it is very easy to see our family walking down the street, with Wills and Eliza making Virginia laugh by hanging off either side of her wheelchair, and smile. Yes, sometimes it brings tears to my eyes that she is here and clearly very well loved by those of us around her. (And she loves us well, too, by the way.) But there are other times when Findley and I look at her and see what was taken.

See, we knew her before she was injured. Or, maybe I should say that we dreamed of her before she was injured. Most of you have never known her any other way, but we have, and sometimes it is hard to look at her and not acknowledge great loss.

We have 2nd Grade Girls' Bible Club at our house on Friday afternoons. I do nothing except open my front door. Other mothers do all the teaching. It's a pretty good deal, actually. Sometimes Virginia makes it through the entire lesson, most times she doesn't. It is hard to watch her peers sing praise songs, ask questions, make prayer requests, and recite their memory verses. It is hard to watch them run around my front yard afterward, and break off into little groups for Friday night slumber parties. I would be lying if I said I no longer mourned what was taken from Virginia.

Sometimes Findley and I look at Virginia and see the healthy little girl that should have been. The thriving second grader without a care in the world. We wonder if her voice would have sounded like Eliza's or if she would have been artistic like Wills. We wonder if she would have been calm like her daddy or high-strung like me. What would she tell us everyday when she bounded in the front door from school?

I am aware that we have to be careful. We can't let remembering what was lost keep us from embracing what is here. There are a million things that we love about Virginia, and in some ways, she and I are closer than we otherwise would have been. I am her arms, her legs, and her voice, and she is my heart. But how I wish that she had been spared all this suffering and not robbed of her autonomy!

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I know that as a mother I hang onto some of the best moments and hope I can still remember them when I am in the nursing home. Our minds have a way of clinging to the beauty of life, the glimpses of eternity, so to speak.

That's why Poppy remembers the 66 year old man he lovingly called #1 son* as a blond little boy waiting up for a story at bedtime. It is life in its simplest form, our children in their purest moments.

Findley and I will always remember the Virginia that we had dreamed of, a Virginia without limitations, a Virginia untouched by the suffering of this world.

Thankfully there is Someone else who sees her this way, too, and it gives us great peace to know that one day His glorious vision for her, and for all of us, will come to fruition.

*I am #1 grandchild, just in case there was ever any doubt!:)

(I apologize for the two grainy photos. Yes, I took a picture from a movie using my iPhone. We didn't have a digital camera when Virginia was born, and I have yet to scan most of them onto my computer. And even if I wanted to do it tonight, I couldn't because all my photo albums are stored in the basement so that my house looks spacious and lovely and someone will want to buy it. Anyone else notice that Findley had a lot of hair when Virginia was born and that I was wearing an athletic watch- I guess I must have exercised back then???)

A little news...

So, our big news is that we are moving to Memphis! If you had asked either one of us a year ago (or even six months ago), we would have said that we were in Moutain Brook to stay. Seriously, who would be crazy enough to leave this place?

Well, this year has been different. As Dr. Mary (our beloved pediatrician and neighbor) told me a few weeks ago, Virginia used to need a little extra pampering and now she needs almost full-time medical care. She has grown more fragile in the last twelve months.

I will save the details of what Virginia has been going through for a later post, but basically one day in January, Findley looked at me and said, "What are we doing here? We need family."

And he's right. We do.

We decided that being in Memphis was the most important thing and whatever else had to change for that to work would have to change. Thankfully, Findley is going to open an office for his company in Memphis. A challenge for sure, but one that he is eagerly anticipating. He is also going to be getting his MBA at Vandy every other weekend. Another big change, but again, an exciting one.

It obviously means all new doctors and therapists, new schools, new house, etc, but we really aren't worried about those things because we will have all of these:

(These two can't contain their joy that we are moving home...ha!)

Ultimately, you cannot put a price tag on raising your children in the midst of huge extended family. And trust me, Findley and I need all the extra hands (and free meals) we can get!

We hope to move mid-June. Lots of details to follow...

Not Too Resolute

Happy 2012 to my readers! I am always appreciative of a new start. Maybe this year I need a clean slate more than ever.

I hesitate to make resolutions for the new year for several reasons. I have a tendency to be geared toward perfectionism. If I deviate from the rule just a little bit, I quit trying. {The cheeseburger consumed on January 2 becomes cause to throw out the healthy eating agenda for the entire year.}

The second reason is that I realize what I need most is a new heart. This isn't something that comes from keeping resolutions or spending long hours at the gym. It is more about receiving than acquiring, letting go than digging in. And sometimes, the more I focus on my agenda, the less likely I am to be energetic about His.

Case in point, this morning I got up at 5 to fulfill one of my resolutions for the year- writing 1,000 words in my book every day. Fifteen minutes later, Virginia woke up, coughing and needing lots of love and assistance. That was the end of the writing for the morning, and I was frustrated.

That frustration almost made me miss the gift of uninterrupted time with Virginia.

It isn't about me. I think I have been working on that resolution since kindergarten, but I still haven't mastered it.

So, here are my resolutions for 2012, but know that my main goal is to be open to every moment with my family and to keep my desire for tangible accomplishments on the back burner. Wish me luck!

1. To beat Virginia out of bed in the morning and write 1,000 words a day

2. I am deactivating my facebook account. (Done)

3. After the kids are in bed, I can read, write, or the occasional, purposeful tv show or movie. No internet.

4. Drink more water than diet coke. (Sad to say, but this will be hard!)

5. Eat more vegetables than chocolate bars.

6. Be diligent about Virginia's PODD communication system.

7. I added this one last night, when trying to cram all my Christmas clothes into my closets. Yes, closets is plural. I am not buying myself one article of clothing this year. Not one. I don't need anything, and that statement is not going to change in the next 365 days. I have no idea if I can do this, but I will let you know how it goes.

Our time away from work and school has been great. Findley drove us to Memphis the morning after having all four of his wisdom teeth pulled. Impressive. We had a great visit with my family. We missed you, Emily and John.

Just call her Mary Poppins. V was excited about her parasol,

Practiced his scooter,

The year of the puffy vest.  Still refusing to be pictured: Eliza.

Muppets soundtrack dance party in the kitchen.

Puppet show,

Muppets soundtrack dance party, garage,

That's my child, diving across the table for Aunt Carol's dip,

Wills' first Vandy football game. We lost after having a lead in the fourth quarter. It was a good introduction to being a Commodore fan. But we had a really good time.

Christmas List

I have been scouring catalogs and the internet for months trying to find a Christmas present for Virginia. Wills has asked for a hundred different things, and I could easily think of a hundred additional things he would love. But it is hard to buy for someone with Virginia's physical disabilities. Virginia has UGG boots and an iPod. She has an only-one-of-its-kind motorized, swinging bed to help her sleep at night. (Thanks, Dad and Uncle Moose.) Her clothes are cuter than mine and good luck finding a Disney stuffed animal or movie she doesn't own.

The truth is, what Virginia really needs, I can't give her.

It's a hard lesson for a mother to learn- having to turn over your children to someone who loves them even more.

She is facing things that are physically tougher than anything I have ever had to endure. She has had nothing to eat by mouth since last Tuesday, yet lives in a house where food is prepared and eaten on a regular basis. We are doing our best to be sensitive, but let's be honest. It's a pain I can't take away from her and one whose sting I can't imagine.

Virginia is going to have to rely on spiritual food more than the rest of us do. Even though that is my prayer for my children, I wouldn't have envisioned it this way. Not all this suffering. Not at age 8.

More than any of the rest of our family, Virginia understands why Christmas is so glorious. She really needs a Savior. She really needs to know that God loves her so much, He allowed his son to suffer the ultimate misery. She needs to know that one day, she will live without pain.

We are truly celebrating Christmas at our house this year, maybe more than ever.

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Our good news is that the cough is better! A million 'hallelujahs' to that!

I feel like we are finally getting to the bottom of things. I think (Findley and I have an MD in Virginia Frazer, in case you were wondering) that the cough is primarily from aspirating, but not aspirating food. It's mainly her own secretions over the course of the night. So we are turning on the old humidifier, elevating her bed, and relying on the tube as much as possible without making her miserable. Nana would be so happy Virginia's off "all those damn medicines!" The other main issue is that she keeps getting colds, so we are going to continue to stay home from school for a while.

I think if we can let her lungs rest and heal, we might just get back to where we were six months ago.

Apart from turning the corner with the cough, It's been a trying week. The latest Virginia has slept is 3 am. I guess it's the steroids? On Tuesday she scared us by becoming pretty unresponsive- I have never seen her so sedated. Findley figured out it was the allergy medicine she started last Tuesday, and after 36 hours without it, she is back to herself. She's tired, but not zoned out.

I really don't know how to thank all of you who regularly pray for our family. Many of you have lots of time invested in our family. What a gift! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And now, for laughs, here are some of the Christmas card pictures I didn't use...stay tuned for the winner. I have to get them in the mail first. It would be anticlimactic for my friends to see it on the blog first! (as if anyone really cares except for me!)

Too blurry...

Almost, but not looking the same direction...

Mommy was screaming at Eliza. Sissy was laughing at Mommy...

Mommy bribed Eliza with smarties, but it backfired when she wouldn't put them down for the picture.

This is cute, if we were a family of rappers...

Funny...Wills was hot in his sweater, sandwiched between two girls, and past ready to call it a day.

Laid back Sissy!

In other news, I have been wearing my glasses a lot. For two reasons. The first is that they make me look smarter and I need that- my sleep deprivation has taken 'spacey' to a new level. The other is that it's hard to get contacts in on two hours sleep.

Someone decided to copy me. She found my college glasses and wore them for hours yesterday. Sort of has me worried that she has vision problems because I am blind as a bat! I would think she couldn't see a thing with them on, but she is serious as a heart attack when she wears them.

That same someone loves having Virginia home from school. Maybe a little too much. Eliza, get out of Sissy's face...

Who, me?

And you know you live in Alabama when this is how your son spells 'The A-merican Flag.'

Merry Christmas!

Oh, what a day!

Do you see anything wrong with that picture? It looks like me, but I think someone took my brain out last night while I was asleep!

(and pardon the pose and lack of make-up- just trying to have a little energy and make you laugh at the end of a LONG day)

Our day started at 12:15 am when Virginia woke up with intense coughing. She had a fever of 102, the chills, and starting vomiting because she was coughing so much.

When she wasn't coughing, her breathing sounded pretty good to me, so I wasn't worried, but Findley was. It you know us, this was a total reversal of our typical reaction to a Virginia illness.

"We need to go to the ER," he said, "I think she has pneumonia."

I didn't think this was far-fetched, so we paged the doctor on call. After listening to Virginia breathe over the phone and hearing her cough, she said it was ok to stay home and come in for a chest x-ray in the morning as long as she didn't get worse. By this point, I was worked up because Findley was worked up, but we put her back to bed. She coughed all night.

We already had a different doctor's appointment at 9, so we kept that, but as we were heading home (here comes my first mishap of the day) I hit the curb exiting the parking deck and popped the tire. We have run-flat tires, so I made it home, but knew I would have to find another way to get V to the pediatrician at 11.

Enter Findley.

He put the seat Virginia uses on airplanes in our old Landcruiser (a Findley hobby- if he ever leaves me, it will be for a woman who owns a lot of old Landcruisers), and loaded her wheelchair into the back of the car. But he had to come with us because I can't lift the chair in and out by myself. (Not that he minds coming with us, but he does have this little thing called work)

We spent two hours at the doctor's office. The good news is, no pneumonia. Bad news is, where is all this coughing/mucus/drainage/junk coming from?

So we started Virginia on robinol today in an attempt to dry up her secretions and help the cough.

Pray, pray, pray that it works.

We are at the end of our rope with this cough and it is starting to get scary.

So, we came home, got Virginia situated, started her feeding tube, said hi to Eliza, and then I followed Findley to the tire place.

After a twenty minute explanation, they said we would have to go to the Honda dealership because there is a huge lawsuit about the run-flat tires and no one is allowed to install them but Honda. Huh?

So Findley headed to the Honda dealer, and I headed home to check on Virginia, and then went to pick him up.

The Honda dealership is all the way out 31. I went all the way out 280.

I have no idea why- I don't typically confuse the two highways. I was all the way to Greystone when Findley called and wanted to know where on earth I was.

I had to go all the way down 119 (a first for me) just as Briarwood and Oak Mountain Middle were letting out. When I got to 65, I did go North, but got off an exit too early on Riverchase Parkway. (another first for me- had never even heard of it). I had to turn around, get back on 65, and go all the way to 459, where I again went the wrong way. I headed for home instead of to 31. Had to turn around at Acton Road, finally went the correct way on 459, got to 31, and found Findley at Full Moon BBQ, right next to the Honda Dealer.

It only took me an hour and seventeen minutes to drive the twelve minutes out 31.

I am never driving again. It can't be safe.

Oh, and did I mention my cell phone was dead and the old cruiser obviously doesn't have GPS?

Finally made it home around 4 pm, feeling like a champ of a mother for leaving my sick child for so long. Not to mention someone else got Wills from school and Eliza had probably forgotten who I was.

And then... I hooked up Sissy's feeding tube, left the side medicine valve open accidentally, and her entire feeding pumped right onto the rug. (and the contents of her stomach as well.) You would think I would have noticed the huge puddle of Boost in the middle of the room I was sitting in, but I didn't until all eight ounces had run.

So, now everyone is in bed. The little two are asleep. V is screaming. Going down on the seizure medicine in order to help the cough has meant a few hours of intense crying at bedtime. We can't take it much longer, so if the robinol seems to help, we are going back up on the topamax.

Tomorrow we are going back to Children's because Virginia has granulation tissue forming around her tube site. Essentially her body is growing new skin to try to close the hole, but it has nowhere to go because of the plastic button in the hole. They will cauterize the skin so it won't grow anymore. I would imagine it's painful, and she already feels bad from her cough and fever.

I have laughed more than I have cried today, especially since learning V's lungs sound great. That in and of itself is an accomplishment!

Pray that we can kick this cough!

In other news...cutest pilgrim ever

God Bless!

Someone wasn't enthralled with the Thanksgiving feast at school and tried to escape

She is a mess, I tell you!

And she's still not cooperating in the card endeavor. (For the record, I took this last night, BEFORE Virginia got sick. I am intense, but not that intense)

Virginia's Cough (and Happy Birthday to Eliza!)

(I really hope that Eliza and Wills don't feel like a subtitle to Virginia!)

So, to catch you up on our medical issues, Virginia's cough is no better. Actually, I would almost say it is worse. We all  (Findley, me, her doctors) agree that she is aspirating, but we also agree that this doesn't totally explain the cough. It is a horrible, wet, body-shaking cough and it wears her out and makes eating next to impossible. It is the worst in the morning- it takes her about 2 hours to clear the stuff out of her lungs. She hasn't slept well in three nights, and I am so tired I feel like an unfit mother.

As you may remember, Virginia had a bad day in April where she had six seizures in one day. (Her first seizures in six years.) We doubled her seizure medicine from an almost nonexistent dose to a still-relatively-small dose. Then on July 2 she had another one. At that point, we doubled her medicine again. She is still on the low end of what is considered an effective dose, but realize she is taking 200% more topamax than she was in early April.

That being said, when she had the July seizure, the nurse at neurology suggested that her new allergy medicine could be triggering her recent seizures. When I looked back, she had started the allergy med ten days before that awful day in April when she had six seizures. So we took her off of it after the July seizure and she hasn't had another one.

But maybe she hasn't had another one because of her new level of topamax?

Here's why it matters. Her cough started around the time when we went up on her medicine. I am guessing it is somehow to blame- it is thickening her secretions, or making her so tired she's not swallowing as much. I don't know, but it's all I can come up with. The pulmonologist agrees with me, but not the neurologist. We see the neurologist on Wednesday and hopefully we can agree to go back down on the seizure medicine and see if this helps the cough. But obviously we don't want any more seizures either.

We are also going to try steroids this week to see if that helps with the cough. And maybe reflux meds, too. (But you can't try it all at once or you won't know what's helping.)

Virginia seems more frail to me than she ever has. I feel like most of what I do is take care of her. But in some ways, I think it is amazing how much our family does in spite of all the care taking. I know why, too- Virginia loves life. She loves people. She loves to be on the move. But I think we are entering a phase when she is going to need lots of holding. Which is fine by me- will someone just come entertain my other two?

We meet the GI surgeon who is going to put in her feeding tube next Tuesday, September 20th. I feel like he will schedule her surgery within a week or two of that date. Her birthday is October 3, so I think I will try to push for a date after that.

On a happier note, someone else in our family just had a birthday. Eliza turned two last Friday. My dad was in Baltimore for a meeting, so mom came to celebrate. You know the third child doesn't really get a party, but she didn't care. She got a Mickey balloon and a Scooby-Doo stuffed animal.

And just for comparison, here is someone else with his Mickey balloon on his 2nd birthday...

Eliza had a Mickey cake, too

You can tell that once I have a plan that works, I don't tend to change too much

Eliza got a baby and a baby stroller for her birthday. She didn't care a thing about the baby and instead put "Doo" in the stroller. I stuck the baby in a closet for Christmas.

Geegee and Daddo gave Eliza a sand and water table for her birthday. It is a big hit...

They like the table almost as much as the box it came in.

We had a surprise visitor yesterday. My dad was driving through on the way home from Atlanta. He had gone to a meeting of the Civil War Historical Railroad Society. (or something like that). For some reason, my mom doesn't usually go with him on these trips, but hopefully Eliza will be joining him soon.

But this is still Daddo's biggest fan...

I always hesitate before putting pics like these on my blog, but I want people to know it's not all gloom and doom over here. On Friday I hosted a surprise party for my friend Laura. She has wisdom beyond her years and has been there with us every step of the way since Virginia was born. It was so much fun to have her closest friends to dinner and celebrate every one of her 29 years!:) I even think she was genuinely surprised, too!

Thanks for making it to the end of a long post, authored by a sleep deprived woman. Please pray that Virginia's cough subsides and that she gets stronger. I also really want her off most of her seizure med- I think it is taking us in the wrong direction. One thing leads to another and I am trying to put the brakes on a downward spiral!

Lately and Uncle John

I can't believe that we are already well into July. Virginia is doing well- no more seizures- and she isn't sleepy from the medicine either. Here's a little bit of what we've been up to lately.

Wills is always doing one of two things. Drawing or building. Actually, he's always either talking while drawing or talking while building, but you get the idea.

Very patriotic...

While Findley and I were on our trip, my mom brought Wills a Sound of Music pop-up book. He's been experimenting with making his own pop-up book-

And his own Sound of Music book

The only problem is that we have to carry most of his works of art with us when we go anywhere and it is getting to be quite an ordeal.

Trying to be as tall as his tower...

Wills is one funny kid. Every night when I put him in bed, I have to promise that Findley and I will both check on him before we go to bed. About a month ago, as I was tucking him in, I could tell he was really thinking about something.

"Mommy," he asked, "How come I never remember you and Daddy checking on me at night?"

"Because you are sound asleep."

"I have an idea," he said. "See that piece of paper over there on my desk? Tonight, when you come back to check on me, sign that paper. Then in the morning, I'll know that you were here."

Wow.

So for a couple of weeks, Findley and I would both sign the sheet of paper every night when we checked on him, but then Wills got a better idea.

"Mommy, I think it would be nice if you wrote me a letter at night while I'm asleep. Then I'll have something to read in the morning."

"What do you want the letter to be about?" I asked.

"How much you love me," he replied without missing a beat.

So for a few nights I diligently wrote him a (short) letter and left it on his bedside table, but then he changed the stakes one last time. On Thursday he announced he would prefer a poem. So tonight I will write my fourth poem- hopefully he will move to something else soon because I am running out of rhymes!

Eliza is a mess. Wills never went through the terrible two's, but she's making up for that and she's not even two yet. She challenges me on absolutely everything. When I go to get her out of her crib in the morning, she is so happy to see me. "Out, out," she demands. As I approach her crib, she raises her arms up, but when I reach the railing, she sits down and says, "No, no."

"Ok," I say, used to this game by now. "Mommy's going downstairs to fix breakfast. Call me when you are ready to get out." Before I can reach the door, she is screaming and asking to get out again. But when I walk over to the crib, she refuses to get out again. Usually at this point I just get her out and carry her screaming little self downstairs. I have no idea how long the game would go on if I played along.

She will do this with anything. She'll ask for juice, I'll give it to her, she'll throw it, I'll pick it up and put it away, and she'll ask for it again. She's going to be trouble. But she sure is cute.

Joined us at the table...(I need to get her a booster seat)

My brother has a clerkship in Birmingham so he has been living with us this summer. He is actually a huge help and it has been so much fun having him here. I realize this is special time because I doubt we'll ever live under the same roof again, except for maybe if we pick the same nursing home.

The kids want to do whatever he does.

We like to challenge John and make him work harder.

(We are thankful he is teaching them about exercise because their parents obviously aren't!)

I am a little scared he won't want to have kids after all we've put him through. This picture just about sums it all up. Eliza is requesting something from the refrigerator, Wills is trying to show him the American flag he made, and Sawyer wants his belly rubbed. (John is the first person to pet our dogs in almost eight years.)

Virgina has loved being out of school. I have been reading longer books to the older two when we can find something else to keep Eliza occupied. We have finished From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Peter Pan, and a lot of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Tomorrow we start The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I really hope she likes it.

She has read so many books, she's been able to pick out a few new ones to keep through the library's summer reading program.

Here she is with her latest selection. Proud! She loves Amelia Bedelia, which makes her mommy very happy because it was my favorite when I was little, too.

Eliza makes reading time a little more complicated...

But it hasn't been all books around here this summer. Findley and I took Virginia and Wills to see Cars II on Sunday afternoon. She was just a little bit excited...

And I saved the best for last. For all of you who wonder what it is really like to live in Alabama, this just about sums it up! (I am really swallowing my pride to post this...) Happy summer!

Brotherly Love

Hope everyone is having a great week. Thank you for all your comments about Virginia's speech progress. It means a lot to me. She has now had two PODD sessions with Lynn and done great. Lynn is so excited she can hardly stand it- which means I am excited, too. If you have 54 seconds, this is a funny video. I'll be back soon with a more traditional post, but I'll have a hard time topping this video with words.

Dancing to CCR

A Day in the Life...

Several things over the last few weeks have just about done me in. The first was a play date I organized for Virginia. We invited two girls from her class over to play. They are the sweetest little girls and they love Virginia to death. You can tell that they are genuinely thrilled when she smiles or laughs with them. They talk to her as if it doesn't even bother them that Virginia can't respond.

But she can't.

I listened to these two first grade girls converse- true friends, sharing their day with each other- and felt such sorrow that Virginia couldn't be a part of it.

Then she got invited to a birthday party she logistically can't attend. I love our school friends and our community because they always include Virginia, even when they know she probably can't come. I love this mother for thinking of her. But I am so sad that she can't go.

Sometimes it all seems like too much for her, and for me. I don't want to struggle through one more hour long feeding. I can't bear to hear her cry at night anymore. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning and face getting her showered, dressed and fed.

I can only imagine how she feels.

I started thinking about what my day actually looks like, and, as vain as it sounds, decided to try to document it. I wasn't doing it for the blog. I just wanted to try to put my finger on what has been so hard for me lately.

In the process I realized something pretty incredible.

I could find whatever I was looking for- both the good and the bad.

I could go through, pick the awesome moments, snap a smiley picture, and pretend my life is perfect. Or I could take the bad pictures, focus on all of Virginia's struggles, and tell myself I should just throw in the towel and never get out of bed again.

Obviously, the reality, for all of us, is somewhere in the middle. All of our days lie somewhere in the tension between joy and sorrow. Clearly some days are better than others, but really it boils down to whether or not we choose to be thankful or we choose to be angry.

So here is my day...

5:10 Findley's alarm goes off.

5:38 Findley leaves for work (I did acknowledge him before he left, but he definitely made his own coffee)

6:20 Virginia wakes up (a miracle- this is the latest she has slept in months. Usually I see this sweet face between 3 and 4 am)

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I repositioned her and then showered and dressed.

Just as I was getting V dressed, Mr. Bed Head appeared in the doorway. (about 6:50)

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I fixed Virginia's cream of wheat, packed her snack and Wills' lunch, fixed V's medicine, and spent about thirty minutes feeding her.

7:45 Eliza wakes up.

8:00 Get Wills dressed, change V one last time, ready to leave

Eliza doesn't want to be left...

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Until she spots the chocolate chips on the counter and has an absolute meltdown and refuses to go one step further until I give her some. And, if you read the last post, you will know that I don't hesitate.

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8:15 Head to school (for the record, school starts at 7:45, but this is the best I can do when Findley leaves so early)

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Go by Starbucks (for the first time in a month) and get coffee for myself and a new friend. Go visit friend for two hours. Get to hold a very special baby.

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11:30 Home, time to get Eliza dressed for the day (and play "where's the baby?)

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Play outside with Eliza, water plants

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For the record, this is what the finished garden looks like

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Then I get the shovel out.

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Unfortunately, the shovel has to do with this:

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And not with the garden at all.

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12:15 Time to puree V's food so it will be ready for her when she comes home at 12:30. Yummy- leftover tenderloin and cheese grits.

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1:00 I send Amy and Virginia off to speech therapy in my car.

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I put Eliza down for a nap and leave her under Mary's watchful eye. I take Wills and his friend to a 'get ready for kindergarten' play date at the park for an hour.

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Wills and Eliza have a 3 o'clock doctor's appt, so we rush home, drop off the friend, and get Eliza.

She is waiting for us...

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We rush off, are about fifteen minutes late (typical), and they have to get 7 shots between them.

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Ring pops are great for pain.

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5:00 Arrive home to this sweet face

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I hand Wills and Eliza off to Amy and sit down to spend about an hour feeding Virginia her dinner, pureed chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese.

6:00 the best part of Eliza's day (and mine, too)

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6:15 Head outside to get some energy out before bed. So glad it is spring.

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Making up for the entire afternoon I missed with her today...

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The little two play while we get Virginia into her pjs and give her nighttime meds.

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7:35 Nurse Eliza to sleep (Yes, I still nurse her 3 times a day, but she sleeps twelve to thirteen hours, so why change anything?)

Winding down...

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7:50 Try to read Virginia and Wills a book. V gets mad (not sure why), so she has to go on to bed sans book reading.

8:15 Put Wills in bed, say prayers, sing exactly four (not too short) songs

8:20 reposition Virginia

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We heat plates of leftovers. Yes, it is always this late when we eat.

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Don't really want to eat b/c V is crying so hard. Settle for this instead.

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8:30 hold Virginia, try to calm her down

8:45 Findley puts V on her stomach instead of back

9:00 I put her on her side. Still can't hold still to fall asleep

9:30 After several more interventions, V asleep; time for me to wrap up world's most boring post

Oh, wait...get rest of tax stuff together for accountant. We are sure giving her plenty of time this year.

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Obviously, out of love for my child, I don't show the fussy times. I can't capture her feeding struggles or communication difficulties on my iphone, nor would I want to. I hate it when she cries more than anything in the world. But I do know this. I am one blessed mother who got to see a lot of smiles today. A lot.

Good night!

**This was not a typical day in four ways. 1) I showered because I was going to my friend's house to hopefully hold a new baby. 2) I did not go to the grocery store today. Usually I go at least twice. 3) Virginia slept until 6:20. If she does that again tomorrow, I will document my day again. 4) I did not talk to Molly or Laura on the phone. So sad!

Teeth (and other random news)

IMG_0706 I have already admitted that I don't have a lot of rules for my kids. I like to say this is because Virginia has taught me not to sweat the small stuff or that I simply don't have time to do things that aren't absolutely necessary. But the truth is I would probably have been this type of mother anyway- one who doesn't ration goldfish, enforce bedtime, or, as this post is about, make her children brush their teeth every night.

I worked at Camp DeSoto for several summers during college and loved every minute of it. I had Cabin A every session- sweet, seven-year-old girls who were the babies of camp. One morning at staff meeting, Phil, our camp director, said he had a funny story.

"Do you know what Mary Frances told me this morning at breakfast?" he asked.

Oh, no, I thought. Mary Frances was one of my campers. I had a feeling I was about to be put on the hot seat.

"She said that she hasn't brushed her teeth in three weeks."

Phil thought this was hilarious, as did everyone else, but I felt terrible. I guess I'll never get the babies again, I thought.

But after staff meeting, Phil came up to reassure me.

"Marsha and I didn't put you in Cabin A because we thought you would double-check to see if they brushed their teeth every night. We put you in there because you love them and make them feel safe."

Right or wrong, most of the time as a mother, I am worried about the big picture, not the little details.

Wills had his first trip to the dentist last week, and I just knew my lackadaisical attitude toward dental hygiene (and sugar intake, for that matter) was going to catch up with me. (And, yes, I know the American Pediatric Association recommends a first trip around age 1. I am just running about 4 years behind.)

Wills still sucks his fingers, went to bed with a bottle of milk until age 2 1/2, and drinks a gallon of juice every two days. I knew I was toast.

Well guess what? He didn't have a single cavity. Not one. Just goes to prove my theory- you are either genetically prone to cavities or you are not. The only bad part is that since I didn't get caught, I am feeling a little too confident. I may never make my kids brush their teeth again!

In other news, Findley wants to have a garden this summer. I think between the dogs, the squirrels, and my lack of gardening abilities, it doesn't stand a chance, but Findley loves a project, so I told him to have at it.

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And for all you college friends, here is Uncle T watching five children simultaneously. Two are his, but still, impressive.

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Happy weekend everyone!