Friday, June 29, 2012


I am near bursting with pride. Despite a "nervous tummy", he went bravely into our church's Vacation Bible School all week, with only one tearful drop-off. It gives me so much hope for the transition to kindergarten. It has helped that his best buddy, Marcus, went to VBS with him, but Luke is one of those kids who, once his mind is made up, isn't really swayed by incentives.

The Children's Pastor opened the first morning by asking if anyone was feeling a little nervous. Look who's hand shot up:

Mama was nervous too.

I love that Luke can recognize what he is feeling, verbalize it, and then take action to help his nerves. I overheard him ask his teacher if 1) she was going to be his teacher all day, and 2) what time his mom was going to pick him up. He needed those details to start to feel comfortable. I would never have been able to do that as a shy five year old!

The theme this year was "Blueprint: God's Plan for Your Life". I'm not sure how much he retained, since his stories were always about obstacle courses and snack and building bird houses and stickers, but my prayer is that deep in his heart He is beginning to understand that God is planning good things for Luke's life and following Him will lead to peace, joy and satisfaction.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Teeth woes

These one-year molars are no joke. Out of nine possible teething signs I found on, Laney's hit them all: Night waking, hands far back in mouth, fever, drooling, irritability, clinginess, lack of interest in solids, etc. I don't recall even knowing when Luke was teething, so this is new territory for us. I feel the two molars on the top, but not on the bottom yet. I am ready to have my Laney back!

But she is not the only Smith with teeth woes right now. Luke took a nasty fall off his bike on Sunday, and I mean nasty. Busted lip, scraped chin and nose, and chipped front tooth. This was not a boo-boo. This was a big-boy fall. We saw his pediatric dentist this morning, who wants to see him again in three weeks when the swelling has gone down. From there, we'll check the health of that front tooth by x-ray. If it's not bruised, we can leave it alone or fill that chip. If it is bruised inside, we may need to pull it. Thankfully, he is only a year or so away from losing it anyway. I can't get a picture of his tooth since his lip is still so swollen, but here's his face the day after the fall:

I think this is what they call "eating the pavement".

Luke was riding (he just learned how to ride his two-wheeler two weeks ago) up in our cul-de-sac when he crashed. Roger was up there with him and some of the neighborhood kids and I heard the screaming from way up there. It was one of those moments that you don't even want to enter into. The first thing I saw was Roger's shirt, covered in blood. Mouth injuries and anti-coagulants make for a lot of blood. I was so thankful Roger was there to be the judge of what was what in his mouth. I was the holder. It was really hard to see Luke that hurt and upset. It automatically triggered for me memories of past surgeries and fears about his future one. Roger and I both felt pretty unsettled the rest of the day. Luke recovered much quicker :)

Here's what I love about this kid: When he was screaming right afterwards, he yelled out, "I never want to ride bikes AGAIN!" But the next day?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our Graduate!

I'm a little stunned that my son is starting kindergarten in the fall. I'm also a little sad to say good-bye to this preschool. I would be a lot sad if I knew we wouldn't be back in two years with Laney.

Luke has two parents who both, as children, were terribly uncomfortable in new situations. I wouldn't take my coat off for the first two weeks of kindergarten. Roger got stomach aches before school every morning. Top genetics off with a not-so-normal and pretty-darn-isolated first couple of years of life and you get a kid who struggles with the transition to unfamiliar settings. This school was amazing in helping Luke battle through this. Both years, it took about the first three or four weeks until we could drop off with no tears.

Miss Brenda would repeatedly encourage me that his tears lasted a total of six seconds once I was gone and that once inside the classroom, he shone.

Miss Jill in the front office would put her arm around me and walk me to the door, telling me I was doing the right thing.

And I knew I was. I knew Luke and how much he loved the social and academic parts of school. You could tell he was always disappointed when I came to pick him up that the school day was over.

I know we may have more tears at the start of kindergarten, but I truly believe that he is learning to take pride in overcoming difficulties. And I pray, pray, pray learning the truth that he "can do all things through Christ" who strengthens him.

Luke, we are so proud of you. You do shine in the classroom. You are funny and smart and people want to be around you. I know your memories of preschool may not be vivid, but I hope you remember the love that Miss Brenda had for you and her daily hugs. I hope you remember Kayser and Isaac, your first "you-choose" friends. I hope you remember how much fun you had when it was your turn to be snack leader. I hope you remember the leprechaun hunt and circle time. I hope you remember that your mom and dad were so proud of you for facing your fears and persevering.

Happy Graduation!

Buddies Isaac and Kayser

The proud family

Sweet friend Isabella

A thumbs up day for sure!

Pastor Paul opening the graduation. He led chapel for the preschoolers every Monday.

Singing "To Kindergarten We Go!"

Singing "Deep and Wide"

I love how three of the four kids in this picture were fiddling with their caps.

Miss Brenda. You are forever dear to our hearts.

So into it!

The face of pride.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

She's a matter of surrender

In a funny, roundabout way, Laney is here, being cute and turning one, simply as a matter of surrender. This little person who gives both kisses and opinions freely would not be here if Roger and I had chosen not to surrender our fear.

With almost four and a half years between Luke and Laney, it doesn't take a mathematician to see this process of surrendering was difficult for us.  For a while, when we believed Luke's third surgery would happen the summer he was three and a half and 30 pounds, it was easy just to put talk and thought of baby number two on the back burner. We knew we wanted to get Luke through the Fontan before we had another child.

It was also easier during that time to think, "Yes! Of course we want a second!" After all, Roger and I had always talked about having two children. But the actual step — no, run and gigantic leap — of faith to get that second child here was still hypothetical and far enough away to shield our true emotions.

In December of 2009, we left Dr. Stefanelli's office stunned to hear that he did not want to move forward with the Fontan anytime soon, and definitely not that coming summer. Of course, this was good news. But it shook what tentative plans we had for our family. And it brought our fear that much closer to the surface. I remember the week following that appointment. Both Roger and I were shorter and more impatient with each other, for no outward reason. God knew (and we knew!) the conversation that needed to happen: Do we do this? Do we risk getting pregnant again? What if something is wrong with this baby's heart? Can we go through that again?

These are tough, tough questions. And for us as a couple, they were a very real hurdle to getting from point A to point B.

Here's what it boiled down to for us: If Luke were a healthy-hearted boy, would we have had a second child? No question. So what was holding us back? That nasty little word: FEAR. And fear alone is never a good enough reason to not move forward.

"O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you." (Psalm 84:12)

Mind you, Laney was not conceived the next day. I wish surrender was that quick and painless! It still took us a while to wade through our emotions, our post-trauma, and to feel strong enough to accept God's directive to trust Him, come what may. We both had to get to a place where we were going to trust God, whether He chose to give us a healthy child or not. In our circumstance, "blessed" did come in the form of a healthy little girl. But God may have chosen to bless us with another child with special needs.

That sentence is hard for us humans to reconcile with our idea of blessing. I don't think I could say that so fully without having gone through what we've gone through with Luke (disclaimer: I still wrestle with trusting that God's ways our better than mine. I'm pretty sure I always will). Before Luke, we didn't know the blessing that comes through hardship ... the blessing of being carried by prayer, the blessing of connecting with other families that get it. The blessing of perspective.

When you live with the very real possibility of tragedy, it is much easier to let the little things be little things.

"... blessed is the man who trusts in you."

And much easier to not take for granted the simple joys in life, say, for instance, celebrating a certain birthday of a certain one-year-old.

Happy Birthday, sweetest blessing from the Lord!