Monday, November 19, 2012

One and a what?

My girl is one and a HALF today. And long overdue for an update.

video

She is, in one word, a delight. In two words, she is a terrible teether.

On the delightful side, you can see from the video, she loves to sing. With intensity and purpose. And volume. And let's not leave out length. The girl also loves her some dancing. She's open to most music, but especially loves dancing to the Berenstein Bears theme song at night, on our bed, with her brother. Oh does she get excited. Even if she's nursing, she'll jump up when she hears the opening notes.

It would be hard to deny the delightfulness of Laney reading. This may be her favorite activity right now, sitting next to our big basket of books and "reading". She is a perfect mimic of her brother. The inflection, the page-turning, the enthusiasm, I tell you it's all delightful. I'm so thankful both of my kids love books.

On the not-so-delightful side of my Laney-bug is her resistance to diaper changes, cow's milk and her hair rinsed. Look out. It's such a small part of her personality, but the strong will is there, for sure. And it's magnified when she is teething. I don't recall even knowing when Luke had a new tooth break through, so this clinging/whining/hands-in-the-mouth/not-eating stuff is new for us. She has all 16 teeth now, so I'm hopeful we are done until her 2-year molars. Please?

We had her 18-month appointment today, and she her doc's most proportionate baby. Maybe in history! 50th percentile for weight (24 lbs), height (31.5") and head circumference. She's in size 4 diapers, size 5 shoes and size 18-24 month clothes. I will be so sad when she loses the chubby thighs and tummy. I think Luke will be too, since he is always telling her, "Laney! Your belly is so chubby!" Soon I'll have to talk to him about commenting on girls' figures :)

At her appointment today, she had a toe poke and three vaccines. Not one tear. I attribute this to having a brother four years her senior. She puts up a lot from him and is one tough cookie. I love how lately she's been able to really "play" with him. She would follow him to the moon. Luke is a bit obsessed with ninjas right now and has a collection of ninja weapons. Luke has some serious ninja moves, but Laney can hold her own with the nunchucks. Again, look out.

Laney is such my buddy these days. I am really treasuring having one-on-one time with her in the mornings after we drop Luke off at school. Sometimes we'll go to the Y, sometimes we'll run outside or hit Target, but a lot of times we'll get our Starbucks and just go home to play together. I keep thinking of next year, when Luke is in school full-day. We will have some serious mommy-daughter time then!

Speaking of the Y, Laney is doing fairly well in nursery-type settings. There are tears, but I've been told (at church too) that she stops almost immediately. With Luke's history and difficulty with separation anxiety, it is high priority for Roger and me to help Laney be comfortable in those types of settings.

Did someone mention delightful? Delightful is nursing my daughter in the morning and night. I never expected to still be nursing at 18 months. Everyone said she'll cue you when she's done and she just never did. And I've been okay with that. She's my baby and it's such nice snuggle time. It's a little tricky when she wants to nurse during the day, but that doesn't happen too often. Usually only when she's not feeling like herself.

Delightful is watching her language develop. The girl is talking so much! I'm not sure how many words, but she's even putting two and three together: "Yes Mom!" (usually followed by doing something I've just asked her NOT to do). "Bye Dad!", "I don't know" (all kind of smooshed together), and my personal favorite "Be by back" (Be right back). With this phrase, she'll go to another room or around the corner, just so she can come running "right back!" Another sweet one is "Bye-bye" when you lay her down in her crib at night. But wait, maybe my favorite is her "Thank you". I'm not even sure how to phonetically spell how she says it, but it's pretty amazing.

I didn't count them up, but for this girl, the delightfuls far outnumber the not-so-much's.

Happy 18 months sweetest girl.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Coexistence

There are times when I look at Laney's flawless chest and it sucks the breath right out of me. It's like a meeting of these two intense emotions that are so different it's crazy they can coexist. How, at the same time, can I feel such deep gratitude for Laney's healthy heart and also feel such sadness about what all the scar on Luke's perfect little chest means?

Maybe I don't have to reconcile those two emotions. Maybe I can just take both for what they are: two very different ways God is teaching me about His love for me.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day about their great 20-week ultrasound appointment and how God was "smiling down on them" by giving them a healthy baby. I believe this to be true. I believe the Bible when it says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." What I had to wrestle with, however, is what that meant for our family.

Was God not smiling on us when he allowed Luke's right ventricle to not form?

The more I've spun this thought in my mind, the more I hear God saying, "No!"

God knew Luke's diagnosis would be difficult for me and Roger. He knew Laney's health would be a celebration. But God does not change. That means he loved us with a perfect love when I was pregnant with Luke and his love was perfection when I was pregnant with Laney. His love just looked different.

Just like my love for my children looks different when I am praising them and when I am disciplining them. But it is still love.

It is such a lie the enemy wants us to believe, that we are displeasing to God when bad things happen. What if it's not about us? What if it's about HIM?

I'll admit my friend's comment stung for a couple of days. Not because I wasn't thrilled for her. But because that old familiar tug of "why us" tried to wiggle in and steal my joy. Six years after finding out about Luke's heart, this tug is no longer a daily battle. But I think it would be dishonest to say it's not a part of my life. I think it may always be ... and that's okay because each time I confront the ugly untruth that God fell asleep on the job, I learn a little more about what is true: "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." (1 John 3:1)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Halloween, and a conference

With the news of Mia and Addy weighing on me the past few weeks, it's been hard for me to blog about the family stuff that so often is taken for granted as run-of-the-mill. When in actuality, it is precious. And as much as my heart continues to feel grief for these two families, I also know it's important to live and continuing to record that living for my family. With that said, here are some long overdue Smith updates.

Halloween

Gone are the days I can pick my son's Halloween costume for him. He's been a monkey, a skunk, a dragon and a dinosaur, but this year it was completely his choice. And he was the happiest teenage mutant ninja turtle the sewers had ever seen. Luke is at that age where a costume isn't really a costume, it's a change of persona. He kept making sure that "Nobody can tell it's me under here, right?"




Gone also are the days of me and him holding hands to each door. He was off with his neighbor friends the minute we stepped outside.


We live in a small neighborhood, just 18 homes. So once we made the rounds here, Roger and Luke headed to a larger neighborhood across the street to continue the candy haul. Laney and I were content to call it a night. She may have been an owl, but this girl was ready for her bed by 7:30 as usual!


Halloween night was a "hoot" for all of us.


Halloween day, however, I could've skipped right over. Every other Wednesday Luke doesn't have school, so it was a looong day of "How much longer?" whines.

Here's my ninja boy in all his green glory.

And some more pictures of the cutest owl the forest ever did see:




I was looking at pictures on my mom's fridge the other night and there is one of Luke from this past Christmas and I couldn't believe how different he looked to me even from nine months ago. He really is growing up, both in looks and behavior. I feel like he's lost the last of his "baby" face. He is becoming more and more independent and I am having a hard time believing he has two months of kindergarten under his belt.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

As a fifth grade teacher, my husband has sat down at conference time with hundreds and hundreds of parents. But this was the first time on the "other side of the table" for him. We were excited to hear how Luke was doing beyond his daily "green stars". Each day, the kids color their star chart green, yellow, or red. The teacher will send home a comment if the child has had a "yellow" or "red" day.

Out of 26 assessed areas, Luke "passed" 20. And the six areas where improvement were encouraged were not academic. Nope. They had to do with being a bit too chatty and social. Too social! Considering Luke was pretty much isolated his first two and a half years of life, this is a problem we celebrate! How much did I worry about Luke not being exposed to nursery-type settings his first few years? I'm pretty sure God, as our Creator, knew we worrisome humans needed specific instructions regarding the pointlessness of worry: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27)

So my little social butterfly tends to rush through his independent work so he can get to the social activities. Or, he's busy socializing and then has to rush to get his worksheet done.

We love that Luke loves his friends. Both Roger and I were shy in elementary school (me painfully so), so it's important to us to encourage his need for socializing. We just want him socializing at the proper times in school. Recess, activity center ... chat away! Reading groups, rug time ... Keep the chatting to a minimum.

Mrs. Suther was very pleased with Luke's reading and math skills. "Above and beyond" the standard at this point in the year were her words. She is not an effusive teacher, but she did let us know that Luke is doing great in her class and she would have trouble picking out the "heart kid" if she didn't know different. He loves music class and he loves library. He loves riding the bus home each day. Coloring? Not his fave.

I feel blessed beyond belief that Luke is thriving in school. That we are able to have a "typical" parent-teacher conference about him. Even that we get to discipline the rough edges. That we get to organize play dates for his social little heart and pack his backpack every morning. That we get to battle the after-school grumps and help him with his "homework."

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)