Charlotte’s Time Capsule: One Year Old!!

Charlotte-birthday-smash-50edit2

Our baby is one.

One year ago today, the doctors and nurses exclaimed, “Happy birthday!” as they pulled Charlotte out of my womb, cut the cord, and brought her around to us, screaming and pink.  She was strong and healthy and has remained so to this day.

One year ago today, we noticed that Charlotte had the most endearing dimples and a sweet disposition.  She made us smile from the very beginning.

One year ago today, our hearts were full to the brim with joy, love, and laughter.  What a special day that was.

Today, our baby girl is one.  I have spent pretty much every day of this past year in complete awe and wonder of life itself because she is now in it.  Charlotte continues to amaze me on a daily basis and I simply can’t get enough.  Watching her grow and develop has been the greatest living testament to the wonders of God I have ever known.

My heart aches a little knowing how fast time is flying by.  When I look back at the past year, I get sad knowing that I can’t go back and do it all over again.  Oh, I wish I could!  From what I have heard though, there are only better things to come.  So that is what is keeping me going right now.  The promise of our amazing future.  Hope abounding.  And lots of love.

Things to put into Charlotte’s last time capsule as she turns one year old:

-This is a big one!  We have a walker on our hands now!  Charlotte took her first steps on March 25th and hasn’t slowed down one bit.  Each day she grows steadier and steadier.  And we can pretty much forget about sitting down anymore!  We are constantly on the go 🙂

-Charlotte’s favorite pastime this month (besides walking!) is reading books.  She’s always enjoyed reading, but now she simply can’t get enough of it.  She loves to help turn the pages and look at the pictures as we read.  She loves it so much that she has been known to fling herself backwards with dramatic flair when we have to finally pry the books away from her for bedtime.  (We’ve even had to put a book in her crib a time or two just to get her to sleep!)  Looks like she takes after me after all!

-I *think* she said “Momma” for real this month, but she hasn’t said it again so I’m not sure.  She also says something that sounds like, “Hi dogs!” or “Hi dad!” as she waves.  We get the occasional “Uh oh” as well 🙂

-Her first birthday cake!  She didn’t hesitate to explore the cake’s icing, but didn’t get as messy as I thought she would.  She loved it regardless!

 

Charlotte-birthday-smash-32edit

Charlotte-birthday-smash-67edit

Charlotte-birthday-smash-59edit

I love this girl so much.  I hope she always knows that.

Happy birthday Charlotte Grace!  Mommy and Daddy love you like crazy.

Advertisements

Kindness for Callie: April is “Special Needs” Month

What if?

What if her heart had not stopped?  What if they had revived her sooner?  What if we had known beforehand?

I can’t help but think about the ‘what if’s’ often.  Of course, our life is so different now because of Callie’s death.  There is no way to come away from something like that untouched.  It affects our very being, our core beliefs, and of course, changed the trajectory of our life path.  Without Callie, Charlotte would not be a part of our lives.  I cannot even fathom that possibility.  No, as much as I wish the cruelty of it all had never happened, I would not trade this place I stand today.

Yet… there is that voice of wonder, of curiosity that whispers (it used to shout) to me.  What if?

I hear the voice when I lay down to sleep sometimes and I am talking to Callie.  In my mind, I talk to her.  Ask her about her day.  Tell her about mine.  I tell her I miss her and that I haven’t forgotten her…even on the hustle-bustle days when her memory is deeper in my mind than I like it to be.  I try to picture her in those moments, our conversations.  Sometimes she is the newborn I knew for such a short time, too short…sometimes surrounded with medical equipment, sometimes just bundled in my arms.  And then there are the other times when I try to imagine what she would look like today.  Right now.  Two years old.

With neonatal Marfan syndrome.  

I see her when I see other children with Marfan syndrome.  I picture her when I see news stories about children with disabilities or special needs.

I know how different our life is because she died, but often I think about how drastically different our lives would be if she had lived.

Countless doctor appointments.  Scary surgeries.  Physical limitations.  The cruelty of others who do not understand.  The fear that we would have been living knowing that at any minute that we may lose her.

How would we have handled it?  What would we be doing right now, today?

We’ll never know.  Callie was spared many of these difficulties and that thought gives me comfort most of the time.  But, I have to say that I feel mad for her too.  Mad that, even though she would have faced hurdles and difficulties, she was robbed the opportunity to experience the joys of this life on Earth.  And those dreams were stolen from us too.  I know I would have loved being able to take care of her, no matter how difficult it would have been.  Even a difficult life is one worth living.

Life is love.  Life is joy.  Life is hope.

I just have to hold on to the knowledge that the eternal life she is living in heaven is filled with the same love, joy, hope, and the riches of being with God, filled with peace, and surrounded by angels without all of life’s pain and hardships.  That’s what keeps me going.

****

K4C-April

This month for the Kindness for Callie project we are honoring those among us who have special needs or who love someone who does.  Clearly, my heart will always be close to these types of causes and I hope that we can all work together this month to bring love, joy, and hope to someone else who may be facing great challenges in this life.

Ideas for April:

-Offer to babysit for free for the parents of a child with special needs so they can have some much needed time to themselves, whether it be to go on a date, take care of errands, or just take a nap 🙂

-Sign up to be a Special Olympics volunteer.

-Send in flowers, a special lunch, or Starbucks to the special education team at your local school.  They work SO hard and care SO much!  In fact, while you are at it- throw in something for the classroom teachers, specialists, assistants, and principals as well.  Education is a team sport! [without the multi-million dollar contracts 😉 ]

-Research a local animal/pet therapy organization and volunteer, donate to them, or train your animal to be a therapy pet.  In the northern VA area, here is a center for equine therapy.  I can personally attest to the power of watching highly trained dogs (so many are Goldens!! love them!) working with children and adults with special needs.  It’s a beautiful thing.

-Organize a team for a local walk that benefits a charity such as Autism Speaks.   (April is Autism Awareness month!)

-Sponsor the cost of medical equipment or a wheelchair for a person with special needs or physical limitations.

-Make a financial contribution to organizations that help those with special needs and their families.  Here are a few excellent nonprofits that I’d like to throw the spotlight on:

GiGi’s Playhouse:  is an established series of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers, serving children and adults of all ages providing educational and therapeutic programs at no charge to families

Autism Speaks:  has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families

The Morgan Project:  promotes awareness and facilitates support of parents caring for their children with special health care needs, and to enhance the quality of life for these special families

United Cerebral Palsy:  educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities

I could go on and on, but I’d love to know if you have a charity or nonprofit organization that benefits people with special needs that is near and dear to your heart that I didn’t list above.  Leave the name (and website if possible) of your favorite one in the comments below!

***

Thanks so much to those of you who supported the March K4C “Seniors” theme last month.  I heard from LOTS of people who shoveled driveways for elderly neighbors with all of the snow we had this winter.  Another friend told me about buying bus tickets for a senior citizen who relies on public transportation.  My sweet friend, Mabby, took a different spin on the theme by giving a neighbor’s ‘senior’ dog some fancy dog treats.  LOVE IT!  Thanks so much for the incredible support.  Can’t wait to hear all of your K4C’s for April 🙂

***

Callie’s garden update:  This year we will not be doing one big garden spring cleaning.  Instead, we are meeting once a month along with some church members to garden a little bit at a time.  We’ll be gardening on Saturday, April 12th and already have 3-4 volunteers signed up.  We could maybe use 1-2 more if you are interested!  The next gardening date is Saturday, May 17th.

***

By the way, I’m sorry that I’m posting this a few days late!  I’ve been working hard on my photography skills lately and it’s kept me pretty busy lately:)

Check out my photography sites:

http://kristincornelyphotography.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kristincornelyphotography

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a rainbow birthday party to plan for!  😉