Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!...

It's New Year's Eve!  We spent the day exactly as we like to - together and low key.

Brian and I have had a tradition since he was three years old - a special movie date early on New Years Eve!  Hope and Daddy had some time to bond at home while the two of us went to the Movie Tavern to see the new Annie! 
I was sure to have Brian watch the original Annie movie at home ahead of time, which he loved.  He was really excited to be at the movies - although I'm not sure if he was more excited about the show or pushing a button to call a waiter for more food.  That is a big highlight, even for me!
We LOVED the movie.  A lot!!  And Brian loved getting to order a SECOND warm brownie.  The waiter was very impressed by my date's good manners, I'm proud to say!
A little later in the day, we headed to our local Pizzeria Uno.  Ed made reservations for us to attend their "kid friendly" New Year's Eve celebration.  It was adorable!  Brian got to make his own pizza, which was so much fun for him.
Brian really got into it - perhaps there's a future chef in the house (please, dear God?)!
Great idea, Daddy!!
Hope enjoyed herself, too - watching the boys, eating macaroni and cheese, people watching...
...and getting herself ready to ring in the New Year!
They had a craft for the kids to do and an ice cream sundae bar and then, at 4:00, a balloon drop!
We really whooped it up!
When we got home, Ed and I spent some time in front of the tree taking photos of each other with the kids.  Another New Year's Eve tradition.  I can't explain our traditions - but they make us happy!  Hope is already practicing her New Year's resolution - showing more personality in photos.  Boy, was she ON tonight!!
Can you stand it?!?
And our sweet Brian...
After we got the kids in their pajamas, that's when the real fun began.  I bought a fake sparkler and a fun machine that shows fireworks on the ceiling!  Brian loved the sparkler... 
...and was happily showing off his cool Ninja moves in the dark!
The fireworks were much cooler in person.  I'm just a bad fireworks photographer.

It has been quite a year and, as usual, we have a lot to be thankful for.  We're missing Gavin like crazy, but looking forward to another year of being the best parents we can be for Brian and Hope.  That is the most important way we choose to honor Gavin's life and respect his memory... by not screwing up his siblings.  I hope (and pray) that one day they will read these journals and see just how much we love them and how hard we try - as their parents, as a married couple and as human beings.  Our little family is all that matters, really.  And these two children keep the light on in our eyes.
Wishing you a year filled with people and moments and experiences that make YOUR eyes light up!

Thank you so much for caring about our family... and for remembering our Gavin.  It is still astounding to us that our little boy who never spoke a word STILL manages to speak to so many.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I Don't Take A Single Thing For Granted...

I'm a broken record, I know - but it's still sometimes very hard to believe that we have Hope in our lives.  After losing Gavin so suddenly - and unexpectedly - and tragically - and devastatingly (is that a word?  If not, it should be) - we never could have imagined that we already had Hope.  She was already there before we lost Gavin forever.  In some ways... it feels she has always been here.
Today she turns 13 months.
With each month (with each day, really) we have learned more and more about who this mysterious little girl is who dropped down from Heaven into our lives.
She is confident.  Most toddlers are fearless, this is true.  But Hope is willing to try anything - and often does it!  Maybe it's having an older brother that she wants to keep up with.  It makes me smile to see her brut her way through life.  She's been attempting (and halfway succeeding!) to climb UP the slide in our living room for months!  This little girl is fiesty and I can already tell she will be a strong woman in every way.
She is curious.  All day long I follow her around the house as she explores.  I actually bought a "Jawbone" - wearable technology that I wear on my wrist and it tells me how many steps I take in a day.  Following Hope around?  A lot.  She has to inspect everything, pick up everything, look at everything - I love it.  Well, I'm starting to not love chasing her to the Christmas tree anymore.  I'm kind of over that.
She likes to follow instructions!  If you ask her where her purse is, she'll go find it!  (I'm still working on getting her to find mine.  And my keys.  And my mind.)  If you ask her to come to a specific room, she'll do it!  If you ask her how big she is, she'll show you... 
She is loving.  She gives hugs and kisses to her brother, her Daddy, me, her dolls - pretty much anything and everything she loves.  I adore watching her "mother" her dolls.  She's a little rough with them, I'll be honest.  And yes, there are days I'm tempted to threaten to call CPS on her.  But I'm hoping she'll change before she has a real baby.  Ha!
She still love to eat everything!  I'd list the foods she eats for breakfast, lunch, dinner and multiple snacks, but I'd be here all night.  She eats everything, which makes going anywhere so easy!  I'm grateful that she still nurses, too.  It's great for moments when we're out and she's hungry but there's still time before a meal.  Or - times like this past week when she was sick!  During her bout with croup I nursed her constantly through the night and I think that helped her kick it much faster than normal!  And, it's a nice ritual before bed and naps.  But her main meals are in her highchair eating real food.  Our only pet peeve with our little princess?  She loves to swipe her hand across her tray pushing all of her food on the floor.  Yeah, she's a real crack up.
She's easy!  Hope is really the easiest baby.  She's flexible, she's friendly, she goes to bed and down for naps with very minimal (if any!) fussing.  She wakes up and quietly plays or talks to her "guys" until someone goes in to get her.  She's such a dream.
Hope is a true gift to our family - and to our broken hearts.  This unexpected miracle has brought so much happiness into our home.  She and Brian are just what we need to focus on living after losing our first born son.  
Hope truly lives in each one of us - and hope is always there.  But it sure is nice to have very obvious proof.
Happy 13 months, Hope Margaret!  We all just adore you.  Even if you don't always sit still long enough to get a good photo!!

In other news, last night was very exciting for Brian after losing his first tooth!!
You won't believe this, but the tooth fairy must have brought a friend to snap a picture of her as she reached under Brian's pillow!  
He was SHOCKED - AMAZED - and, dare I say, SMITTEN with the picture of the real tooth fairy when he saw it the next morning.
If you're wondering how I did this, I used the website "Catch a Character."  Lucky for me, Brian is a sound sleeper.  I snuck in and took pictures of him sleeping and thanked God that he left an entire half of his pillow free for me to lift up!!  I didn't have to worry about taking the note he wrote or the tooth because he wanted to keep them.  But I did slip this note from the Tooth Fairy under the pillow with "fairy dust" sprinkled on top.  As I read the note to him, he kept smiling and looking at me with his mouth open like "Can you believe this?"  It was priceless.
He loved the coins.  He loved the dollar bill.
He loved the Darth Vader key chain.  But he REALLY loved the book!  We read most of it over breakfast and he was fascinated with the different "tooth customs" from other countries!  We had some good giggles over some of the things kids do with their lost teeth... like throwing them on their roofs!
I'm so grateful for these children.  All of them.  And I don't take a single thing for granted.  Not any of it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

One More Major Milestone...

We needed some excitement in our house - and fast.  We've been cooped up in the house sick and have had to cancel three major events - two trips to two different states to visit family and a Disney on Ice show the day after Christmas.  We've been going a little stir crazy.

Today was the day we got what we needed.  And then some.  Brian and I spent a ton of time together today.  Over a cup of hot chocolate I noticed that his wiggly tooth looked like it was hanging on by a thread!!  I told him that losing his tooth seemed quite imminent... and he instantly burst into tears.  "I'm nervous!"  "I'm going to miss my tooth!"  "Can I keep it forever?"  I reassured him that it wouldn't hurt... that we can write the tooth fairy a note to please leave the tooth... and we can put it in a very special container and save it in his memory box forever!  He seemed happy with that plan.
 After dinner while brushing his teeth - the electric toothbrush must have vibrated it right out!  He didn't even feel it.  He quickly looked in the mirror - checked for blood - no blood, whew! - and smiled.  As I stared at him in the mirror - and I know this is going to be shocking - it was hard to hold back the tears.  My sweet boy is growing up!
And it's emotional for me to know that this is the second milestone that Brian has had that Gavin never did.  Brian turned six... and now lost a tooth.  It's just another reminder that we are further and further away from Gavin being alive and here with us.
Brian got in his pajamas and asked me to write a letter (that he dictated to me) to the Tooth Fairy.  He asked her to leave his tooth... and to also leave "some kinds of money" which, to him, means coins.  He explained to me that he wanted one of each - a penny, nickel, dime and quarter.  He also asked for a dollar and a toy.  I had already bought him two tooth fairy books - one of which explains customs from around the world when children lose their teeth, which he'll love!  I also got him a tiny Darth Vader key chain that lights up to attach to his backpack!  My plan is to slip a note from the tooth fairy under his pillow and leave all the "tooth loot" on his desk which is right next to his bed.  I also have a little "fairy dust" which I'll leave under his pillow and on his desk! He's going to be very excited when he wakes up!!
He put the little baggie with his tooth and the note under his pillow before we read a book.  After we finished the book we chatted for a bit.  
The two of us watched the movie E.T. this weekend - a favorite of mine.  He loved it.  And, proving that he is definitely our child, he shed some tears at the end.  I love the message in E.T. - that you can communicate heart to heart.  And that you can stay connected forever - that people you love will always remain inside of you in memories and heartprints.  I asked Brian as we sat in Gavin's bed if he felt like he could still communicate with Gavin "heart to heart" and he said yes.  
Then he asked me if Gavin had put his tooth under his pillow in this very bed.  I explained that Gavin had never lost any of his teeth.  "I'm so sad for him," he replied.  Me too, buddy.  Me too.
And then we kissed and hugged goodnight.  I love this child and his sweet little heart.

Earlier today I decided that we HAD to get out of this house.  Sick or not.  It wasn't super-cold here in Pennsylvania, so I asked Ed to set up Brian's new bounce house that he got for his birthday in the yard.  It was really easy to set up - and take down!  We all bundled up and headed to our side yard.  I figured a little fresh air couldn't hurt any of us!

Brian was so excited when he came around the corner and saw the bounce house!
And it didn't take long for him to jump for joy!
Hope even joined in the fun!  She had a ball walking...
 and falling...
and attempting to bounce!
But most of the time she sat in the corner with me inside the house... 
...and outside the house in her stroller...
...and we watched her crazy brother!
Brian and I must have played catch over the top for close to an hour.  He had such a great time.  I think it was just what the doctor ordered.  For him - to get out his pent up energy... and for me - to watch him have so much fun.
I've been having a great time getting to know my new camera!  (For those camera buffs that have been asking, Ed bought me a Canon EOS 70D for Christmas and it's pretty amazing.)  I'm still learning all of the features and trying to learn when and where to use different settings to get the best pictures.  Most of the pictures in this post are with my new camera.  You can probably tell which ones were taken with my phone!  (The blurry ones)

Today I practiced with my ever-moving model, Hope as she hung our in her favorite spot enjoying her favorite pastime - touching Christmas tree ornaments.
And trying to climb UP the slide in the living room!  This little girl is fearless!
I must go tend to this tiny tooth now!  My first time as the Tooth Fairy - what an exciting milestone for me, as well!

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