Monday, December 27, 2010

Definitely a girl!

We love you already, sweet girl.

From your head ...

To your feet!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some really good advice

A friend of ours gave Rog some really good advice the other day, after Rog told him he's going to need to borrow his wisdom in raising a little girl. This friend's advice? "All I know is that girls need lots of love and lots of shoes." And then his wife — unaware of this conversation! — had bought us these yesterday:

We may not be well versed yet in baby girls, but at least we have her first pair of shoes! And the love part? Piece of cake.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Luke was right!

We tried and tried to get Luke to open up to the possibility of a brother, but he never wavered. And he was right! It looks like we are having a little girl, and a heart healthy one at that!

All glory to God be given! "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion." —Isaiah 30:18

That's how we feel right now. Overwhelmed with God's graciousness and overwhelmed with support and love from our friends and family. The staff at Northwest Children's Heart Care jumped with us in joy. Our friends cried tears of joy for us. Overwhelmed. And maybe a little wiped out:

I can't get over those four beautiful chambers we saw beating away on the screen. I can't get over how thankful we feel. A little girl!

And to add great news to great news, Luke's heart is holding strong and steady. Dr. S. continues to be pleased and in no hurry to send us to the Fontan. Luke is buying us time for more knowledge to be gained and Dr. Stefanelli is gladly taking that time. He doesn't want to make any changes to his medication and he doesn't need to see us again for six months. Today was a very good day. Thank you all for joining with us on this journey. Your faith and kind words lifted us up. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Practice makes perfect?

We sure hope this old adage holds true tomorrow during Luke's EKG. The past two appointments we have had zero luck getting him through the EKG, so we've skipped that altogether (with Dr. Stefanelli's blessing of course). This week we stopped by Dr. S's office to grab some EKG stickers for practice.

You may agree when I say we are pretty confident Luke has conquered his fear of EKG stickers!

Fetal echo is at 9am and Luke follows at 10am. Your prayers are so appreciated. You have no idea.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On the 16th day of December ...

Baby Smith at 13 weeks

I passed the 17 week mark last Friday and this Thursday we will get a good look at baby's heart. Am I hopeful? Yes. Am I scared? YES! But you know that daily bread thing? God's giving it to us. Just this week, in my study of Isaiah, we read this verse in chapter 25:

"LORD, you are my God;
   I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
   you have done wonderful things,
   things planned long ago."
And in the very next chapter:

"You will keep in perfect peace
   those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you."
We will head to Luke's cardiologist's on December 16 for a fetal echo. We decided to do the fetal echo before my regular 18-20 week OB ultrasound. We didn't want to experience that "Well, we're not sure, but we think something's wrong with your baby's heart" moment again. So we'll get a good look at the baby's heart first, and then do our regular ultrasound on December 27. And we'll pray that God keeps our minds "steadfast" on His "perfect faithfulness" while we await these appointments.

Just to make the 16th a bit more exciting, we're also scheduled for Luke's 6-month checkup on that day. Yes, we would love your prayers!

And what gender does our analytical boy predict for our family? "A sister ... because I'M the brother!"

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Dear Lukey Duke:

You are ...

a good friend

 a train lover

a huge fan of holidays

a jokester

 a hard worker (when it suits you)

a boy with serious dance moves

a preschooler

a blessing and a joy to everyone who knows you

And we know, sweet boy, that you are going to take to your new role with as much zeal and enthusiasm as you take to all your other roles.

After almost four years of being a family of three, it appears this blog's subject matter will be expanding ... along with my waistline.

Luke is going to be a big brother in May!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas goings-ons

There's not much Luke isn't liking about all the Christmas preparations ... He would decorate a tree all day long if you let him. I think Christmas would be absolutely perfect for our little man minus one small detail ... SANTA. Luke has stated very clearly that he DOES NOT WANT Santa to come to our house. And if you suggest he ask Santa for something, he'll tell you, "Oh, I'll just ask for that for my birthday" (which, smart boy knows, is two weeks later).

So here are some pictures of our pre-Christmas fun (but don't look for one of Luke sitting on Santa's lap!)

 Nothing like the scent of a Christmas tree!

Helping Dad cut down the tree

 This kid is no miser with his sprinkles!

And every good baker has to taste his creations

Opening his first chocolate from his Advent calendar. It is so hard to only have one per day!

Hanging the stockings (that Santa better not fill!)

Decorating our big, beautiful tree last night! Serious business.

Hope all your Christmas goings-ons are blessed and merry!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thank you Funky Heart

Steve Catoe, a 44-year old tricuspid atresia survivor, avid advocate for congenital heart disease, and giver of hope to so many families, passed away today. Here is an email he wrote to Luke back in February of 2009:

Hi, Luke!

Just a quick note to see how you are doing and to say hi! I live wayyyyyy over here in South Carolina ... get your dad to show you SC on a map!

I'm 42 and have a single ventricle just like you do! We're pretty special, not everybody gets to be a Cardiac Kid! And what's even better, I know a *lot* of grown ups with heart defects - we aren't rare anymore!

But you gotta take care of yourself first - keep your heart strong so it can keep on going! So get outside and play! And drop by my blog any time you want to!


Thank you, Steve, for all the encouragement shared, knowledge passed and good done for the CHD community. Thank you for showing your scars and showing other families that life with a funky heart is a good life indeed.

Monday, November 22, 2010


You know you live in western Washington when one post is about raking vibrant leaves and then next, two weeks later, is about catching snowflakes with your tongue.

This was yesterday, when we only had an inch or so, but today is much more impressive, about 3 inches so far and my van stuck at the bottom of our hill.

So what do you do if you're stuck at home all day? We're going sledding!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The leaves in our town are so beautiful right now. We don't have a ton in our yard, but on our walk this morning, we saw two boys raking leaves in their leaf-carpeted yard. Of course Luke thought that was a great idea so when we got home the boys headed out to do some serious rakin'.

At one point, Rog stopped to get a drink of water from his water bottle and Luke says to him, "C'mon Dad, we need to keep workin'."


Here's hoping his love for raking follows him into his teen years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dragon Tales!

Halloween 2010 (not to be confused with Election Day 2010) was so different from Halloween 2009. Luke loved the entire process (runny nose and all!) We weren't sure how many houses we would hit since Luke's been under the weather, but after the first several, he declared he would like to go to a hundred houses! I think we got close. 12 or 13 at least. Whatever the number, he was the cutest little dragon out on those neighborhood streets.

And without further ado, we move onto ...


Friday, October 29, 2010

"I don't know"

On Wednesday, my friend Erica took Luke for a couple of hours to play with her son and two other boys (I know, she is the best). They played at the park and walked to the bakery for donuts. Then they headed to her house to play and that's where I picked up Luke. Erica and I were chatting and the boys were playing some sort of soccer/tackle game. The two boys, Reese and Drew, who are brothers, decided this game did not require shirts, so of course Luke and Marcus followed suit and wanted their shirts off. The game continued and I leaned over to Erica and said, "I will be so curious to hear what Luke has to say the first time he gets asked about his scar."

Not two minutes later, I hear Reece ask, "Hey Luke, where did you get that big scratch?"

I was somewhat waiting for this response: "That's where the doctors fixed my special heart." Or maybe even, "That's my superman scar. It means I'm tough." Both statements are what we have said about his scar.

Luke's response? A shrug and an "I don't know."

Then the game continued again.

Such a big deal to mom and dad. So not a big deal to Luke or his buddies. Amazing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A smack in the face (in a good way)

Luke had his first preschool field trip yesterday to Maris Farms, a local pumpkin patch. Part of our time was spent touring the farm on a hay ride. During the ride, the driver was listing all the things you could do at the farm, one of them being taking a tour through the haunted corn maze. For some unknown reason, with a truck full of preschoolers, he made this scary ghost sound after describing the haunted corn maze. Luke picked up on it right away and wanted to know what that was, were we going to see it, why is it scary, etc. I told him it was a maze for older kids on Halloween, and we wouldn't see anything spooky or scary. "Will it come to our house?" "Is it spooky after we go to sleep?" This went on for several minutes and then I thought we were done.

This morning, we were playing in Luke's room and he said he was worried last night when he was going to sleep (he had called for daddy twice). He said when he closed his eyes, he saw some spooky things. THEN he said, "But then I talked to Jesus and he told me, 'Don't be afraid'. That's what he says: 'Don't be afraid, Luke'."

Call me humbled. And then call me reminded.

My week could be characterized as a fearful week. I felt it from several angles and I didn't like it. And I will be the first to admit my first response was not to ask Jesus to take it away, to take my thoughts captive and replace them with His promises. But today is a new day and I will allow Jesus speak to me the way He spoke to Luke: "Jesse, don't be afraid."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Broken glasses

I reversed over my sunglasses with my minivan yesterday.

Luke now has adopted a new pair of glasses to wear.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flu shot ... finally

Our local mall had a vaccination clinic on Saturday, so Roger and I broke the news to Luke that today was the day. We tried to sell it by telling him he only had to get one this year instead of three like last year, but his panic overrode his math skills.

Luke re-enacting his whine.

We headed to the mall, Luke tearful and whiny on the way there, only to be told that we would need to show his vaccination records. Since I don't tend to carry that in my purse, we made our way home to get it. Then we got back in the car for another 10 minutes of whining and fretting (by Luke, of course!).

With vaccination record in hand, I added Luke's name to the list and was told it could take up to an hour for his name to be called. Good thing there is a cool play area right by the mobile clinic. About 25 minutes into our wait, a nurse steps out and announces that they have run out of the pediatric doses of the flu vaccine. But not to worry, they have plenty of doses for adults. Sigh.

I tell Luke it's time to go, that they've run out of flu shots today and we'll have to get ours a different day. He looks at me with a kind of appreciation I've never seen from him and says softly, "Oh Mama, thank you."

His tone today was a little different (and I've honestly never seen this superhuman strength he exhibited as he held his pants up), but I am so glad it's done. Flu? Don't come near our house!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Paper Lukey

We had our first family "homework" assignment this week. We were to trace an outline of Luke's body on white butcher paper, cut it out and decorate it however we liked. Here's Luke holding "Paper Lukey":

Today was day three of preschool and it was a little rougher than the other two. I think for three reasons: (love how I over-analyze everything.) 1. Luke's still not feeling 100% from his cold, 2. The novelty of going to school is starting to wear off (there were lots of tears today among lots of kiddos!), and 3. There was a table where the kids were to put their paper people and Luke was sorely disappointed he couldn't keep holding it.

Even though there were tears when I left, they must have stopped quickly. When I asked Jill, the office coordinator, to check on him five minutes later, he was doing great.

When I picked Luke up, as we were driving away, I told him how proud I was of him for having a great day even though he was a little sad at first. I told him that I loved how he turned his attitude around and chose to have fun with his teacher and friends. I think I said a couple other things when Luke chimed in, "Mom, can we get lunch?" Yep, another lesson taken to heart.

This little story has nothing to do with school, but it was too funny to not add:

We were walking in to the library this afternoon and there was an older man standing near the door, smoking a cigarette. I didn't even know Luke noticed, but he asked me, "Mom, when I get older, when I'm 11, can I put a candle in my mouth?"

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It has been subtle and I wasn't even really looking or asking for it, but God has been doing what He is known for doing: restoring what was broken.
"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up."
—Psalm 71:20

What does this look like for me? It doesn't mean that those hard, cling-to-each-other hard, times will ever not be hard. It doesn't mean that the memories of Luke's diagnosis, when we were told he had a 50% chance of also having Down Syndrome, or the night he aspirated and needed a brain scan, or the three times we handed him over to the surgeon are erased. No, they will never be gone, but they are less painful to visit.

It means that for the first time, I am more confident than fearful that Luke will come through just fine this current cold he has (I knew he'd get more sick this year as a preschooler, but the first week? Really?) and that the benefit of him experiencing preschool outweighs my fear of him getting sick.

It means that I am truly okay with not knowing when his Fontan will take place.

It doesn't mean that I don't think about his weight, his color, his energy-level, but it does mean that more often than not I am in the moment with him, just enjoying life with him.

It means holding my friends' heart healthy babies with a heart full much more of joy than grief over our family's circumstances. To be honest, it has been hard for me to enter into my friends' joy over their new bundles, the sting of what we didn't experience overshadowing the beauty of new life. But lately, slowly, I have felt different. And I'm so thankful to God for restoring these parts of me when I wasn't even looking.

I am big on allowing yourself to feel what you're feeling. I have met the sweetest new heart mom who is understandably shaken by her son's recent diagnosis with a congenital heart defect. This baby boy was diagnosed at two days old with double inlet left ventricle (like Luke), has had his PA banding surgery and will have the Glenn in the next several months. I think it's easy for us moms to think we shouldn't feel grief or sadness or anger, that we should be able to "move on". On the contrary, I think we need to feel the breadth and depth of emotions that come with the territory of suffering before we can move toward healing those parts of our hearts, and that's what I encouraged this mama to do. In our family, my job is to encourage Rog to allow himself to feel what he's feeling and his is to encourage me not to dwell too long on those feelings. It is definitely a balancing act. To feel but not dwell. Because it is oh-so-easy to dwell.

I have read the following Bible story several times before, but just recently as I've begun recognizing this restoration work God is doing in me, I read it with new eyes. It's the story of Jesus healing an 38-year paralytic.
"Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people — blind, crippled, paralyzed — were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, 'Do you want to get well?'

The sick man said, 'Sir, when the water is stirred, I don't have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.'

Jesus said, 'Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.' The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off."
—John 5:2-9

It seems like a strange question Jesus asks this man, but it leads this man to admit he has no hope of healing without help. We don't know if he was feeling sorry for himself, or complaining to Jesus, but before he could say anything else, Jesus speaks. "Stand up and be well."

This is how hurt becomes hope: We bear one another's burdens, we ask God for help and trust Him to do what He does best — restore.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Day 1 of preschool was a HIT! Not a single, not even a triple. I'd call it a good old-fashioned home run. You would have thought he had been doing this for years! I just dropped him off for Day 2, and (with breath held and phone nearby) so far so good.

I am in awe of how God has worked this out. That's not to say I don't think there will be "off" days when Luke isn't as excited to go to school, but today, we are reveling in the faithfulness of God.

Part of why I think this first week has been successful is because of how Luke connected with his teacher during Open House. Miss Brenda has been a hot topic around our house, even the subject of a love declaration. "I told Nonna that Miss Brenda is awesome." Pause. "I love her." I think his connection with her has given him the confidence to separate painlessly from me for those two and a half hours.

We couldn't get too much information out of Luke about his first day (oh how I wanted to be a fly on the wall!) but here are a few snippets we pulled out:
  • They sang "The Wheels on the Bus"
  • Snack was apple juice and Winnie the Pooh crackers
  • Pastor Paul told the kids they could run around in the sanctuary
  • There are two boys in Luke's class with "pokey" hair (it's true ... two mohawks!)
Sounds like a pretty good day, doesn't it?

When I picked Luke up, I was able to ask Miss Brenda how he did. She told me that at one point she thought she heard Luke yelling and quickly asked him if he was ok. Luke replied, "Yep. I was just laughing really hard."

Luke, your mommy and daddy are so proud of you. You marched into your first day with such confidence and we already see leadership qualities in you. We pray you continue to love school and love your teacher. You have had many more hurdles than a lot of kids, and you continually surprise us with your ability to clear them. We love you with our whole hearts.

Monday, September 6, 2010


My little heart baby, who didn't surpass his birth weight until he was 12 weeks old, whose very own cardiologist lovingly called him "chicken legs", is now sitting in the 25% for height AND weight. 31.5 pounds and 38". There is no doubt in our dietician's mind that Luke, heart defect or not, would be this exact same size. In her words, "Luke is boring." And everyone knows a boring heart kid is a good thing! I thank God every day that Luke is a good and consistent eater, that he enjoys food and that we have had Judy to walk us off panic ledges time and time again. I think I've said this before, but Rog and I give her tons of credit in helping us trust Luke, which in turn leads to him trusting us and his own body. We are even at a point where we can "make" Luke eat a few more bites. "Two more peaches and one more drink of milk. Then you can be excused." And because food hasn't been a power struggle between us, he'll do it.

I am not going to lie and say I don't still have tendencies to control what he eats, but as more time passes, the more I recognize that there is not a whole lot you can do to make a 3 year old eat if he doesn't want to. It is one of the hardest things I've ever done as Luke's mom — trust him and let go. Obviously, that doesn't mean I don't offer him "meaningful" food (high in calorie and content), and that doesn't mean I like it when he doesn't seem as hungry one day, but at the end of the day, Luke has proven he knows what he needs to grow and thrive.

In high school, I struggled with anorexia. Struggled to the point of 78 pounds. It is so God to use my history and all the tools I have learned in recovery to work hard to make sure Luke has as positive relationship with food as possible. Isn't that just like God? He continually layers His lessons on our hearts, so we don't forget. So we can practice. And I get lots of practice, considering Luke eats 3-5 times a day!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The "firsts" just keep coming!

Can you guess this newest milestone?

Yes, a big boy bed! Last weekend, we made the move ... this really has been a summer of such growth and stretching for our sweet boy. We were in no hurry to move Luke out of his crib. He is a cautious fellow, so we never had to worry about him jumping out and hurting himself. But about a month ago, Luke started asking if he could have a big boy bed. We told him we could when Daddy was home from camp and when the mailman brought his bedding. Saturday morning his new train bedding came, so it was time! I let Luke choose between a couple of quilts and his decision was decisive. Trains.

We spent Saturday afternoon moving his clothes, dresser, books and toys over to our old guestroom and I'm not sure Luke left his new room the entire afternoon.

The first night went exceptionally well. We prayed together in his room, then daddy stayed for a few more minutes in the glider. When he left, we were sure Luke would call out several times, or maybe even get out of bed and come find us. But what do you know? He fell asleep! At 12:15 am, we heard him cry out a little, so I went in and found him on the floor. The working theory is that he rolled off. Good thing we put his old crib mattress right next to his bed on the floor! I put him back onto his bed and he went right back to sleep and slept through the rest of the night. He has continued to fall asleep really well on his own, but he still wakes up once or twice in the night. He did this in his crib, too, and we're not sure why. It only takes one of us (usually daddy — thank you, hon!) to walk into his room and tell him to go back to sleep, and he does, but we sure would like our "big boy" to sleep all the way through the night.

We have a few cool train decorations coming, like this wall decal:

And if you stop by, you will be asked multiple times if you want to play with him in his big boy bedroom.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Babysitters Extraordinaire

Last night marked another "first" for the Smith's in this world of parenthood — an official babysitting experience! As in leaving our cell phone numbers, figuring out the going-rate, giving last minute instructions and then driving away. Granted, our drive was two blocks to Luke's preschool for parent night, but still, a major milestone!

After walking Madison and Emma home, Luke cried through the walk home and most of his bath. I get it. These girls are extraordinary! When we got home from parent night, the three of them were playing this intricate game where Emma would throw a softball over our upstairs railing to the hallway. Luke would then throw it down the other side of the open hallway to Madison, who would try to hit it with a bat (a soft one!).

I may need to hire them again while I fill out all the medical paperwork for preschool. "Has your child had any surgical experiences?" "Does your child take any medications?" It's going to take me a while.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Summer of Friends

Last summer, three of my dear college friends moved back to Washington State. Two from California and one from Uganda. It was my summer of friends and I loved having them back in the area (still do!). This summer, however, it's been Luke's turn to delight in the department of friendship.

There's Marcus, his "best buddy" ...

90% of the time they play so well together, jumping, roughhousing, yelling like boys do. But that 10% when they are frustrated at each other, wow, look out. But oh so quickly, they are back to laughing and being goofy.

And Ava ...

Ava is three months younger than Luke, but has opened Luke's eyes to the world of kitchenettes and hair bows (don't worry, Rog, Luke hasn't tried one on!)

And Gracie ...

Gracie lives in Seattle and anytime someone mentions that city, he'll relate it back to his friend. "By Gracie's house?" "Will we see Gracie when we go there?"

You may remember "the week of Ellie", and then there's Madison, who lives up the street from us. I have to be protective of her, or else Luke would be ringing their doorbell at 6:30 a.m. Madison is 13 and so gracious to play with Luke.

There's Alex, his best heart buddy and this summer he met Caden ...

There is nothing sweeter than time spent with a good friend. As long as there is a good referee nearby.