Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Gifts He Continues to Give Us...

Gavin was our first child - and our 5 1/2 years with him were filled with hundreds of big celebrations for tiny (but in reality, HUGE) accomplishments. I can still recall the moment he started making babbling sounds. The moment he reached out to touch a toy. The moment he pulled himself up to kneel at his play table. I could go on and on. It was our life - and it became normal to us! When he did "typical toddler" things - like climbing into his toy bin to try to get up to the TV (sound familiar, Hope?!?!?) - we rejoiced. 

It was all so... typical!
I say all of this to give you a frame of reference for what I'm about to attempt to explain.

Hope had her well visit at the pediatrician today. (She's 32 1/2" tall, 24.7lbs) The visit was perfect. She's perfect. And I drove all the way home in tears.

It is such a strange trip to watch your child do things so naturally. Watching Brian lead Hope through the doctor's office - listening to him give her a pep talk for what was to come - it blew my mind.

I'm not the kind of person to expect the other shoe to drop. That's just not my style. When I was pregnant with Brian, people asked if I was nervous to have another. They were obviously wondering if I was afraid I'd have another child with a whole host of issues like Gavin. I wasn't. I just knew it would all be fine. I knew Hope would be fine, too. And as they both grew, I wasn't watching and looking and paranoid... I was quite the opposite.

Every little thing they did naturally seemed miraculous to me. I didn't take a THING for granted. Because of Gavin, we had hundreds of big celebrations for every tiny accomplishment Brian and Hope have ever made. And we always will.
Gavin continues to leave us so many gifts - not just the gift of appreciating every moment. Because of his inspiring journey, people from all over the WORLD donated their hard earned money to "Gavin's Playground Project" to help build an all abilities playground at "his" hospital, Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children.

I received a note from the leadership at duPont today - asking if Ed and I could come in for a meeting in the beginning of August. They finally have some short and long term plans for how they will shape and build the new playground. They wanted us to be part of it and get our input.

Listen, I know what I know - and I knew what was right for MY child. What would have helped MY child on the playground may not be what YOUR child needs!!! So, I am calling ALL of the duPont families who will be enjoying that playground for years. Gavin isn't here anymore so I want to be the BEST voice that I can be for YOUR child. Think about what your child needs in that outdoor space... what would be necessary to ensure they can enjoy themselves... and send me all of your ideas. I would prefer that all the suggestions, hopes and dreams are in one place...and I think the easiest place to comment is on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook page under the entry that has this blog link. I will bring all of your thoughts with me and make sure you are heard.

Thank you for helping me help YOUR children in memory of MINE.

I love you, Gavin.

p.s. - I will be off this blog for several days as we move into our new home! You can follow me on Instagram @kategavinsmom or on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook Page.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ocean City 2015 Vacation - Part Four!...

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I LOVE when there's a rainy day during our week in Ocean City. I was not disappointed this year! It rained all day one day, so a whole bunch of us went to the boardwalk movie theater to see "Inside Out." Boy, what a deep movie. Brian and I are still talking about it! It had so many important messages about managing emotions during difficult times. I left a lot of tears in that movie theater!
It dried up a little that night, so we snuck up to the boardwalk to play some games in the arcade. Hope had the most fun of anyone going on the coin operated rides!!
I also love a day off from the beach...or two. I got that, too! The day after the rain, my Mom, Ed, the kids and I took a drive to Stone Harbor, NJ. We love this little town for its cute shops, its charm and...its bakeries!
That evening we were back on the Ocean City boardwalk for a pizza dinner, more fun and a LOT more rides. The first thing we did was make a beeline for the firetrucks again. This time - Hope was in the front seat! 
Before the ride started I was a little concerned that she wouldn't sit down - she was, once again, obsessed with the bell! But after some gentle coaxing from Brian, she sat down and soon, the ride started.
Even though Brian and Hope had been on Gavin's firetruck just a couple days before - this ride was better than the first. I can't even describe the feeling I had watching them. Hope was out of her mind with joy. Brian was out of his mind with pride watching his little sister so happy and giggly.
These photos will forever be some of my favorites...
We went on just about every children's ride that night. The cars...
Would you accept a ride from these cuties?
We HAD to go on the Frog Hopper ride - it was one of Gavin's favorites. 
I forgot how hard it is to hold on to a child who doesn't hold on for themselves while you're being bounced all around! Whew!!
Ed took a spin with Hope on the Elephants...
...while I rode with Brian right behind them! Can you tell we love taking "ride selfies?"
Watching the kids on the boats was hysterical. Hope just couldn't get over her good fortune that we were trusting her with so much independence! 
We were slightly fearful that she would attempt to escape some of these rides - especially this one with the tempting water - but she had her strong protector next to her at all times to pull her down or back!
A big change came over Brian this year. He had this newfound bravery to go on some of the crazier rides. 
We hit so many wild rides together while Ed and Hope strolled around. And soon, the rest of the family showed up to join us for some fun! Brian and I had a BLAST with his cousins, Hannah and David on the MONSTER ferris wheel!
Brian was beside himself (and literally beside David) - he was so happy!! Brian's older cousins have a way of making him feel so special. I love that!!
We laughed so much up there. Hannah and I were simultaneously enjoying ourselves and terrified!!
Before heading home, we went on the Merry go Round together. 
It was baby William's first Merry go Round ride!!
It's a tradition to go on at night when they put the rings out. If you sit on the outside, you reach out and try to grab a metal ring as you pass them. Aunt Meg passed all of her rings to Brian to hold for her.
He was so excited about this!!
David ended up grabbing the brass ring which means you get a free ride...and bragging rights!! Brian couldn't believe it - he's still talking about it. He slightly idolizes David. 
The next day was our last full beach day. It started out with Brian and I sneaking out of the house before the sun came up so we could watch it rise over the ocean. (I'll be writing about that in the next journal entry.)

We packed a lot into our last day - and had some surprise guests show up!! Another wave of grandchildren showed up for the last day. 
Dan and Miranda drove from New Hampshire and announced that they were moving to Africa for a year! Dan is going to teach middle school and Miranda will be a fourth grade teacher's assistant. We are so excited for them! 
Meghan and Julia also showed up for a visit from California and New Orleans! 
Brian had another super fun day in the ocean, as you can see...
He really fell in love with his boogie board! I can't wait to see him on it next year. Each year he gets braver and more daring.
 I love this series of photographs...
Hope had a lot of fun, too!
She really enjoyed spending time with her cousins on this trip.
We decided to pack it up on the early side and head to the boardwalk to cram in as much rides as we could before we left for home.
Ed is 100% in charge of one ride - a ride I do NOT have a desire to go on EVER if I can help it. The Log Flume. Oh my goodness, that ride grosses me out with all that stagnant water that washes over all kinds of sweaty people only to be washed over you on the next ride. Blech. Other than that, it seems like a lovely ride. Ha!

This year, we had company! I invited my nieces, Shannon and Claire, to go on rides with us. They look so happy and clean before the Log Flume, don't they?
Okay, admittedly they look happy and clean after, too. But I'm still not going on that thing thank you very much.
The girls took Brian on the bumper cars, which was a riot.
And everyone cheered Hope on as she took her first helicopter ride.

She loved it!
But not as much as Brian loved having her next to him. This boy loves his little sister so much.
We ended the night with sand art. We all watched as Brian created a masterpiece. He told me he already knew the exact spot where it can go in our new home - a little shelf in the hallway that sits between his room and Hope's.
We were leaving the next day - which was July 4th. I couldn't leave town without getting patriotic photos of our cuties!!
Of course, Hope decided to celebrate Independence Day her OWN way...
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful, memorable week. 
(Stay tuned for the next entry for the story about our sunrise experience!)

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