Friday, October 19, 2012

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Oh, wait. That was two three four days ago.

I knew that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I also knew that Monday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. But, until I got on Facebook at about 11:00PM Monday night, I completely forgot about it and was way too busy all day to write the kind of heartfelt blog post that I would have been certain to write a little over one year ago (In fact, I’m writing this one on my lunch break at work . . . with The Sis in daycare.). (Now I’m writing it in bed with The Sis [finally] asleep next to me a day after I meant to post it.) (No, I just couldn't get it done last night, either. Now I'm writing while she's asleep in her carseat.) (. . .writing it at work during some rare unoccupied time)

I felt a twinge of guilt when I read a few other mommies’ posts, viewing their treasured pictures that they post over and over because there are no and never will be new pictures. I used to view his pictures over and over again, write about the same feelings over and over again, do anything I could to be thinking about him over and over again, to make sure you were thinking about him over and over again, too.

Do I still do that? (I’m asking myself.) Do I still think about him over and over again? What if the answer is no? What does that mean? I’m not being a good mommy? What if the answer is yes? What does that mean? I still have to live with the pain? 

The truth is I’ve never shown Cassidy her brother's photo album. You know, the one I carried with me everywhere I went for three months and made anyone and everyone look at it, smiling proudly, showing off my beloved son, while tears streamed down their faces because, let’s face it, most people haven’t seen a picture of a dead baby before. It hasn’t even been purposeful that I haven’t shown her. I just never got around to it. She sees his picture on the wall and some of his photos around the house. I tell her the story. You know the one: “Mommy dreamed a big, big dream . . .“ She knows that one sweet day we will run to her brother and scoop him up and say, “I love you, Gabriel!” and we’ll spend forever and ever and ever telling him how much we love him and thanking God for him and for reuniting us. And Tater Tot, too. And she knows that, even though Mommy always has tears streaming down her face when we practice how we’ll hug Gabriel and Tater Tot and Jesus and Mommy’s mommy when we get to Heaven, somehow, someway, we won’t be crying then. I don’t have an explanation for her about that one. 

As you know, I don’t do that much blogging these days. I can’t. I’m too busy kissing and snuggling and reading Biscuit and trying new things and rocking and having a baba and trying not to waste one precious moment with this beautiful little creature who doesn’t want to let me out of her sight. I read a Facebook post Monday that said, “Our hearts are with those remembering pregnancy and infant loss today.” I don’t want to remember pregnancy and infant loss anymore. I’m happy now. I just want to remember my children and treasure every moment with my dream girl.

But, as I drove to work the next day, a song played on the radio that left tears streaming down my eyes. It was a song I considered playing at Gabriel’s funeral. I knew then that I should find a little time to share my heart with you. To share that it does still ache a little, sometimes a lot. Even though my lifelong dream came true in my little girl with olive skin and dark curls (and who I've heard acts just like me), I still love my son and miss him and ache for him and wish more than anything that he was here with me. 

Except I don’t. Because as much as I wish I had Gabriel back in my arms, Cassidy is the one thing I wouldn’t give up to make that happen.

So, instead of Pregnancy and Infant Loss, let's just remember . . . pregnancy . . . and infants.

 Preggers with Gabe

 "I love you, Gabriel."
Mommy's little warrior
 We were made for each other.

Precious moments with my son

Preggers with Tater Tot
 We saw Tater Tot's tiny heart beating.
 We heard Tater Tot's beautiful heartbeat and watched her wiggle and dance. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tater Tot

Dear Tater Tot,

Two years ago you were born to Heaven. Maybe I shouldn't admit this to you, but I will; I forgot about your birthday this year. It took a post on Facebook to remind me. I'm sorry, Sweetie. I know I would never forget about Gabriel's or Cassidy's birthday. What makes me forget about yours? I guess it's just easier to let myself forget how you were born.  

I promise, though, that I never forget about you. You are always on my mind and in my heart. How could you not be? In fact, right before I was reminded of your birthday, I was telling Cassidy the story of Gabriel and Tater Tot. One of these days, I know she'll be able to tell it back to me. . .

Mommy and Daddy dreamed a big, big dream. They hoped and hoped and hoped and prayed and prayed and prayed for a little child to love and nurture and laugh with and love for the longest time, but they didn't get one. Then, finally, after a really long time, a little child did come into Mommy's and Daddy's life. His name was Gabriel Nicolas, and they loved him. He was their dream come true. God created him very, very special so that His mighty works could be displayed in his life. But for that to happen, he had to go away to Heaven. Mommy and Daddy loved him and were very proud of him, but they missed him very much and they had sad hearts. 

So, they hoped and hoped and hoped and prayed and prayed and prayed even more. Then, after what seemed like the longest time, another child came to them. And they loved her and had big dreams for her, but they didn't know that God made her for a very special reason, a reason so special that she couldn't stay with them; so, she had to go away to Heaven, too. Mommy and Daddy loved her and were very proud of her, but they missed her very much and they had sad hearts.

Mommy and Daddy felt like giving up, but they didn't want to have sad hearts forever. That's no way to live. So, they hoped and hoped and hoped and prayed and prayed and prayed harder than ever! And what do you think happened? Another little child came into their lives. Her name was Cassidy Nicole. And this time, they knew that God created her for a very, very special purpose. A purpose so special, that she'd have to stay right here with them so everyone could see what the LORD has done!

He gave Mommy and Daddy their very own Cassidy Nicole James. And she is beautiful and fabulous and smart and talented and miraculous and funny and has a sparkling personality and good behavior and gorgeous hair and is a fantastic dresser and a good reader and a great swimmer and is fearless and loves to try new things and loves her pets and is so much fun to be around and gives the best kisses and is so sweet and . . . She is everything.

You see, Tater Tot, I'll never forget about you, not about the happy parts about having you, that is. You made all of this possible. I believe with all my heart that God sent you to make a way for me to have Cassidy. And one of these days, one glorious day, I'll run to you and hug you and kiss you and scoop you up. I'll set my eyes on the beautiful face of Cassidy's sister and spend forever telling you how grateful I am to you and how much I love you.

Because these days, I don't just imagine it like I did back then. I really do have the beauty of Gabriel in the form of a little girl; I really do get to play dress up, and tie bows onto dark curls, and bake cookies, play dollies, and read picture books; I really do have cherished cuddle time, fun time, play time, and sleepy time; I really do have all three of you: Cassidy, now, and you and Gabriel, forever.

Happy birthday, Princess Tater Tot.


Author's note: Follow the hyperlinks. It will cause you to praise God.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Personal Victory

That was us a few months ago. . .

I finally did it! In the last 5 1/2 months, since January 1, 2012, I have lost 50 pounds. In 2007, I read a Woman's World Magazine article that changed that part of my life, that gave me the tools I needed to succeed. I ended that year looking like this:

Ame and me at Bethel Temple in Evansville, IN.

I think I looked pretty good. But, I went and had three babies in two years, and I gained it all back . . . and about 10 pounds more. I felt like the girl in that picture with Ame, but when I looked in the mirror, really looked, I knew that wasn't who everyone else saw anymore. She got away from me, and I had to get her back. So, I returned to the University of Kentucky Shake Diet from that 2007 issue of Woman's World Magazine. It's a grocery store version of a clinical program called HMR (Health Management Resources). The plan is simple, but you have to be hard core. Here's how it goes:

Breakfast: 190 calorie or less shake (like Slim Fast), plus 1 fruit or veggie serving (4 oz)
Morning Snack: 190 calorie or less shake (like Slim Fast)
Lunch: 180 calorie or less prepackaged meal, plus 2 fruit or veggie servings (8 oz)
Afternoon Snack: 190 calorie or less shake (like Slim Fast)
Dinner:  180 calorie or less prepackaged meal, plus 2 fruit or veggie servings (8 oz)

Exercise: walk 45 minutes every day

Follow this plan exactly, and the magazine promises a 40 lb weight loss in 12 weeks. I took a little longer, because I didn't always follow it exactly. I don't always walk 45 minutes a day because I have a full time job and a baby. Occasionally, I have a 250 calorie dinner. I have a cupcake blog with my baby. I go out to eat. So, no, I didn't lose 40 lbs in 12 weeks. It actually took me 16 weeks. Not too shabby. The biggest thing I've learned is that if I make a "mistake" on my diet, that doesn't mean I've blown it for the entire day so I can just pig out and start again tomorrow (I know plenty of you know exactly what I'm talking about.). If I do that, I'll always be waiting for tomorrow. If I make a "mistake," it isn't really a mistake. I just adjust my calories for the rest of the day. Sometimes, I just have to be hardcore for several days in a row and follow the program exactly. 

Actually, the biggest contributor to my success has nothing to do with the UK Shake Diet at all. I believe I was successful because I keep a food journal. I weigh myself every day and write down everything I eat every day and total the calories. If I eat something without nutrition information, I just make my best guess. I won't get it exactly, but I'll be close enough to stay in control and keep myself from having that "I've blown it" mentality.

I don't quite fit back into those jeans that I was wearing in that picture with Ame, but this 50 lbs marks a milestone for me. I now weigh what I weighed before I got pregnant with Gabriel. Cassidy has a mommy who exercises and plays with her. We talk about her healthy food choices and mine. These past few years will never be erased from my heart, but it's good to know I shucked them from my body!

. . . and this is us now!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Memorial Day at Mesker Park Zoo

We spent Memorial Day 2012 taking Cassidy to Mesker Park Zoo for the first time. You know what I love? I love that the animals that wouldn't have caught our attention before now give us the most excitement and opportunities to stop and marvel. Our baby girl turns the mundane things of every day life into reasons to celebrate and thank God. No wonder we love her so much!

Mommy and Cassidy in Amazonia

Daddy and Cassidy are bird watching.

Daddy and Cassidy in the jungle

Pink birds are awesome!


Cassidy checks out the huge fish!

Who's this guy?

Our new duck friend

A heck of a time to be without bread

Our big girl

Monday, May 21, 2012


Every time Cassidy does something new or something she should be proud of, we throw our hands up and shout, "Tada!" We also do it to distract her if she falls or does something that might scare her. She flashes her winning smile and tries to imitate us. "Taaaa!"

A couple of days ago our fearless little girl did a somersault off the changing table. Don't worry. Mommy
caught her. Whew! I sat her in her crib and told her if she really wanted to do a cool trick, she should pull up on the rail (She hasn't officially pulled up yet.).

She grabbed the rail, transferred her weight to one knee, and stuck the other leg out to the side. She looked up at me and said, "Taaaaa!"

I said, "Oh, no, Little Sister! You haven't quite pulled this one off yet."

Cassidy has us marveling at her awesome tricks and cracking up every single day. We think she is just absolutely the smartest little thing.

Cassidy Nicole, 7 1/2 months

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend 2012

We looked really pretty on Sunday for church, too, but somehow we didn't get any pictures of it. We just love this girl so much. She turns the simplest things in life into an over the top fun event. She really knows how to live!

Oatmeal and sweet potatoes

Mommy and Cassidy, 7 months

Fun at the park

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cassidy's First Trip to the Zoo

Cassidy's first trip to the zoo was to support her awesome cousin for 22Q at the Zoo day. On April 22, 2012, we went to the St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis, MO in honor of 22Q at the Zoo Worldwide Awareness Day. Cassidy's new baby cousin has 22Q Deletion Syndrome or Digeorge Syndrome, but we just think it makes his "super" status even superer!
Cassidy and Mommy at the St. Louis Zoo

Uncle Philip and Cassidy. She thinks he's okay since there's
a baba involved.

Mommy, Daddy, and the Super Boy

He's cute, right?
You can't visit the animals on an empty tummy!

She loves him.

Cassidy and Nancy, two Cherokee girls

Nancy gives Cassidy her baba.

I think they like each other.
Cassidy takes a power nap before venturing into the zoo.
Daddy takes this job very seriously.
He thinks he's the baby whisperer.

Nancy,  Philip, and Daryl are excited about a fun day.

Mommy and Cassidy check out the goats at the children's zoo.

Cassidy has never seen a goat before, but she reached
up to pet it all by herself.
Goats are so awesome!

Mommy and Cassidy love the rabbits.

Rabbits are awesome, too!
Cassidy thinks everything is awesome!
She loves life.

Daddy and Cassidy are always happy together.

They love each other.

"Haha! A hippo is gonna eat me!"

Cassidy Nicole

Mommy and Cassidy are having fun!

Now we're sea lions! Hahahahaha.

Strolling through the zoo

Sting Ray Cove
Cassidy rides the carousel.

She's pooped!
Cassidy with her super cousin

Did you notice that there are no pictures of Cassidy with the elephants or giraffes or zebras or lions or tigers or any of those other really cool zoo animals? Just goats and rabbits. LOL. We went all the way to the St. Louis Zoo, spent the night in a hotel, sat in a traffic jam for two hours, got rained on, and barely saw any animals! Haha! We're still laughing and smiling about it, because we had such a great time. Even though we were cold and wet the whole time, we would do it all over again just to see our baby girl light up and let our her signature squeal because she got to pet a goat.

She makes every moment worth living.