July 30, 2014

Biking the C & O

The other day we decided a change of scene would be good for everyone.  Except we can't go anywhere we might encounter germs.  The medication Addison is on suppresses the immune system leaving him extremely vulnerable to any kind of illness. 
We have had a very mild summer.  I do not believe it has gotten above 100 at all and it has only been in the 90s a very few days.  Friday was so cool it felt like fall around here.  Actually, as I write the girls are curled up by the pool reading... with beach towels wrapped around them because they said it was cold. 
Back to Friday.  It was beautiful weather and we happen to live a few miles from the C & O Canal.  We were looking for a way to boost spirits a bit and take everyone's minds off of all the uncertainties that have become a daily part of life.  We decided a bike ride along the canal was just the thing. 
Nathaniel spent the entire day making sure all the bikes were in working order.  The kids removed seats from the van and the suburban.  Because when you have 11 people, that's a lot of bikes.  They got everything in and situated and packed a picnic for dinner along the toe path.      
 When Allen got off work we packed the kids in.  Ten minutes later we had unloaded 11 kids and 9 bikes.
Only to discover Addison and Carmella's trailer had blown an inner tube in the wheel. 

I seriously want some kind of major mom award for acting like a grown up at this point.  Truly all I wanted to do was throw myself down on the pavement and throw a major temper tantrum. 
Just saying.  Even I have my a limit. 
Quite simply, a blown tire was the point where I HAD ENOUGH!  Seriously, at that moment I just wanted to weep.  But I didn't.  Self righteous as this sounds I am going to say it.  "Yeah, me!"  I put on a smile and sent the family on ahead.    
 And I am glad I did.  I hear they had an amazing time.  They came back smiling and laughing and full of tales.  Being who we are.  But what has been lost in the stress of the last weeks.
 It really is a beautiful place and I am so glad they were able to experience it.  I look forward to going back after we get that tire fixed.  Hopefully, very soon. 
 But in the meantime, I was left with what to do to keep Carmella from being too heartbroken at being left behind.  She is a good sport but to be honest I think she has had enough, too.  I decided to try my luck at a park nearby.  Since it was Friday evening and really out of the way of just about everything I thought it might be pretty empty.  I tucked getting ice cream cones into my back pocket just in case there were other kids there. 

Thank God the place was abandoned. We pulled out a picnic blanket, some library books and a See's lollipop (thank you Nicole!). 

For a few hours we ran, slid and read... Carmella informed me, among other things, that this is not the play ground (that would be the slide in our back yard) this is the PARK!

We had a great time.  We giggled and talked and I was again reminded why Carmella is Addison's big sister.  I was sitting on the blanket watching him revert to the behavior of a three month old... and trying to get a smile out of him and seeing only blank stares.  I was thinking of how hard he has worked to learn all those skills that now seem no where to be found.  Skills that other kids don't have to work for at all.  In short, I was getting discouraged and heart broken. 

But not Carmella.  She just says, "Henry want's to slide."  So we slide.  And "Henry wants to climb."  So we climb.  And "Henry wants to sit on the dinosaur."  So we sit.  Carmella is not bothered about whether Henry pays attention or responds.  She just keeps doing what's best for him.  Involving him in all the life that is around him and believing that one day he is going to slide and climb himself. 

That was good medicine for me.
When "the guys" were finished biking they joined us and we shared our picnic.  

A change of scenery and a little fresh air went an awful long way.  We returned home feeling like a weight had been, if only for a time, removed.  And that is something we haven't felt in a long time.  It set the stage for a pleasant and relaxing weekend in which we were reminded we are not defined by our circumstances, no matter how dire they may seem at times. 

We are defined by the God who made us, the family we are, the attitudes we live and the choices we make.

Oh, and maybe carrying a spare inner tube wouldn't be a half bad idea.

July 20, 2014

A Bump In The Road

"It amazes me how life can completely change in one 48 hour period."  text from Addison's physical therapist 

That's the truth.

Last Sunday we were enjoying relaxing with family and visiting with friends and looking forward to traveling to Connecticut for Addison's much anticipated surgery.  We were eager to have his repairs and get him on the road to swallowing and talking.  A week later more than a hundred of us are simply praying we can restore normal brain function. 

When Monday came everything changed.  Instead of packing our suitcases to head to the home of Yale, Allen and I found ourselves rushing Addison to CNMC in DC where he was admitted for diagnosis and treatment of a rare and very severe form of epilepsy. 

Since June 29th we had noticed Addison's behavior was not like himself.  At first we chalked it up to a very busy Sunday.  He must be tired.  Sundays always wear Addison out for Monday.  But Monday dragged into Tuesday and then Wednesday.  He became increasingly lethargic and less responsive. 

With increasing frequency his head would all of a sudden drop to the left and then come back up quickly.  When Addison is tired or sick his hypotonia becomes more apparent and with our busy schedule, house guests, birthday celebration and the holiday weekend we thought he was just tuckered out.  But something didn't sit right.  I was becoming more and more concerned.  Over last weekend I had typed (and deleted) several texts to his PT asking about this strange behavior which appeared to be related to Addison's hypotonia.  And yet, I didn't want to bother her over the weekend for something that seemed like it was probably nothing.  Finally on Monday morning I couldn't stand it anymore and I hit send.  And I am so glad I finally followed my instinct.

Miss Trudy asked if I wanted her to come.  She lives quite a bit away and I didn't want her to travel out to our place if it wasn't necessary.  I told her only if she thought it was important.  She asked me to send her a video.  Addison was very tired and went down for a nap just about that time.  I told Trudy I would send a video when he got up around lunchtime.  A few minutes later she sent a text and said she was coming to see him. 

I can not tell you how blessed we feel to have Miss Trudy as part of Addison's team.  Not only on this occasion, but since we first met she has encouraged us all through his care.  I have no doubt she loves this boy as we do and would do anything to help him reach his potential.

When Trudy arrived Addison would not wake up from his nap.  We decided to let him sleep and Trudy said she would come back in an hour or so when he typically gets up from his nap. 

In the meantime we talked about how to proceed.  We decided an email to Addison's geneticist.  I explained what was happening and that we would try to make a video when his PT returned but that right now we couldn't get him awake.

And this is what makes a good doctor.  The key that caught Dr. L's attention wasn't even the main point of my message.  What alerted her to something possibly being very wrong was that Addison was sleeping so soundly in the middle of the day.  A good doctor knows how to read between the lines.

When Trudy returned we made a video and she said she was thinking it was possibly seizures.  If anyone besides Trudy had told me that I wouldn't have taken them seriously.  I have seen seizures and what we were seeing in Addison in no way resembled those violent episodes I was accustomed to.  We again talked about how to proceed.  The pediatrician and ER seemed like a wasted step since we would need to get him to Children's Hospital where his specialists are all located.  We decided to send the video to his geneticist and get her opinion and perhaps some help getting a quick appointment with the pediatric neurologist. 

And this is where I say I am so grateful for Dr. L being part of Addison's team.  My phone rang within minutes and Dr. L was on the other end telling me, "I want you to drive safely but bring Addison to Children's and have him admitted to the neurology floor as soon as possible."  She had already been in touch with the neurologist and after viewing the videos they both agreed what Addison was experiencing was Infantile Seizures.  She explained that quick treatment was essential to a good outcome.

Along the path to getting him hooked up to the Video EEG many doctors and nurses asked to see the videos we had taken on Allen's phone earlier in the day.  That should have been our first clue something unusual was taking place.  Every time someone looked at the video they would just nod and say, "Huh, interesting."  Just like that. 

 After all was said and done the neurologist explained the EEG was really unnecessary (except it needs to be part of the record to verify his condition) because the type of seizure Addison was having has a very unique presentation.  Truly, if you don't know Addison, you would not even notice anything was happening.

The subtle visual signs of the seizures are such an incredible contradiction to what is really going on in our sweet boy's brain.  As soon as he was wired to the EEG and the tech turned the machine on she started asking us in a very panicked voice, "What's he doing?  What's he doing?"  And he wasn't doing anything.  She immediately called the head of neurology at home.  By then it was quite late at night.  We didn't need to look at the screen to know something was definitely wrong. 

But I looked.  When I was younger and into my teen years my dad did EEG's.  I had spent a lot of years looking at the printouts.  While I couldn't read and EEG, I knew what a normal EEG was supposed to look like and the tangled mess of lines all over the screen was definitely not it.  Addison's brain was shouting messages all over the place.  Instead of the nice tidy zig zags I was accustomed to seeing, his brain waves resembled the stitching of a crazy quilt. 

I now know, this is called Hypsarrythmia.  His neurologist explained the seizures aren't the really concerning part.  It's that his brain is so chaotic in between seizures it gets to a point where it can no longer function.  That's when he has a seizure.  It's like his brain can't take it so it tries to reboot. 

Even as I write my heart breaks for about the thousandth time thinking of how much he is suffering.  While he suffers no physical pain, it's like constantly being in a room full of noise and input and not being able to make sense of any of it because there are so many people shouting and so much noise that it all blends together.

At midnight, the doctor who was covering the night shift came into Addison's room and explained the neurologist wanted her to send some pictures of the EEG so she could see what was going on.  No kidding, she pulled out her iPhone and snapped photos of the EEG.  A few minutes later she came back to confirm what we already knew...  something was terribly wrong.  She said Addison's EEG was very abnormal and tomorrow morning a team of neurologists would be in to see us.

Most of the night Allen and I took turns holding Addison and pacing in front of the EEG.  Again we had to ask the question, "What will Addison's future look like?"    And again we had to arrive at that place of peace where it doesn't matter because whatever is in store for Addison it is in God's hand and he will reach the potential God has for him.
Just before 9 am Addison's Geneticist came to see how he was doing.  She answered our questions as best she could.  We talked about possible treatments and possible outcomes.  She hugged us and encouraged us.  Just knowing she loved him enough to be there with us meant so much.  Like somehow Addison would be okay simply because of the sheer number of people who love him and are touched by his life.   
At 9 am a dozen neurologists arrived in Addison's room.  Have you ever been in a room full of neurologists who are arguing about what course of treatment is best?  Talk about intimidating.  Especially, when you haven't slept in 24 hours and you maybe don't fully agree with them.

We learned a lot in that time.  Infantile seizures is a severe form of epilepsy.  In the general population it is also very rare.  However, 10 percent of children with Down Syndrome suffer from this form of epilepsy, also called infantile spasms.  While in the general population there is almost always a cause such as stroke, head trauma, illness or birth trauma, in people with DS there is often no known cause.  Because of the underlying causes, infantile seizures are associated with severe mental and physical delays.  In children without DS it is often very difficult to control seizures and often they will develop a second type of epilepsy.  However, children with DS seem to respond better to treatment.  There are drugs that can be helpful in treatment, but they are all very harsh and some are extremely hard to get and very expensive.  One drug in particular can take 3-4 weeks to get and cost $125,000 (no, that is not a typo) for a one month course of treatment. 

After much debate and discussion we arrived at a treatment plan all the neurologists, the geneticist and Allen and I felt comfortable with.  We started with 14 days of a high dose of prednisone to try to reboot Addison's brain.  His lead neurologist believes (and studies have shown success) that we may be able to restart Addison's brain waves and restore normal function.  It is her hope that within 7 days we will see a reduction in the number of seizure episodes and the number seizures in succession during each episode.  If not his doses will be doubled to try to get the desired effect. We will repeat the EEG in 14 days to see if the hypsarrythmia is resolved.  If it is not he will be moved to 2 injections a day of ACTH. He will stay on this drug with EEGs every two weeks until his EEG is normal.  And regardless, he will have regular EEG's for some time to make sure his brain activity remains normal.

Oh, and we had to cancel his surgery scheduled for this week.  While we understand the necessity, this is a huge disappointment since we have sought for a solution to his swallowing problems for so long.  If all goes according to the treatment plan, his team believes he may be able to have his surgery in about three months.

During the treatment time Addison will also be taking Zantac because Prednisone in particular is known to cause ulcers.  It also can cause dangerously high blood pressure and blood sugar.  The neurology team agreed to allow us to monitor and report his BP and BS from home instead of taking him to the doctor constantly for monitoring.  This medication suppresses the immune system and slows healing making Addison very vulnerable to serious infections.  That means we are in isolation for the duration. 

In the next few weeks we will also do further testing (MRI) to look for triggers in the brain (brain injury, stroke, tumors or lesions).  His team agreed to allow us to do this on an outpatient basis so we could take Addison home to his family where we knew he would do better.  In addition to the seizures causing Addison to zone out and be extremely lethargic, the medicines make him very jittery and agitated. 

We began treatment in the hospital so the doctor could monitor his response.  He responded very favorably with no initial rise in BP or BS.  We were so happy to be able to return home on Tuesday evening.
And how is he doing now?

His blood sugar shot up by the second day but it did not reach the high ceiling.  And it has been creeping down a little bit each day since Wednesday.

His blood pressure continues to hover at the high cutoff.  Either just below or 20-30 points above the cutoff.  We will continue to monitor and consult with his doctors tomorrow.

His stomach does bother him terribly but he continues to nurse relatively well.  I have discovered he nurses better if I swaddle him like a new born.  And actually, we have found when he gets jittery if we swaddle him it helps to calm him down.

The greatest struggle for him is actually getting the medicine down.  Structural issues in his mouth make it impossible for Addison to swallow.  He has no lateral tongue movement to move things to the back of his throat.  (This is another very long post).  That means medicine needs to be given literally one drop at a time.  That translates to 30 minutes at a time to give him 10 ML (about 2 teaspoons) of medicine 4 times a day.  It really was torture.  I considered asking for an injectable form so as to ease the situation for everyone.  Our pediatrician recommended an alternative formula which is more concentrated.  We started veripred on Friday night.  It is such a blessing.  It only takes about 10 minutes at a time to take his medicine now. 

As far as seizures, we are tentatively optimistic there is some improvement.  We have seen a decrease in the number of episodes and the number of seizures in succession in each episode.  However, we are not sure if that is because he is so sedate or because the medication is truly working.  His neurologist, who checks in with us daily, said she feels good about his progress and that makes us feel good. 

She truly believes that we can not only stop the seizures but that Addison can remain seizure free once we wean him off the medications.  She also believes that once he is seizure free and we have restored normal brain waves that he will not only regain the ground he has lost but get back on the fast track to mental and physical development.

To all those who have kept a steady line of text, phone calls emails, prayers and meals, thank you for your support and love that have encouraged us through this week.  I truly don't know how a person could come through a week like this without the Lord and the love of God's people. 

What will Addison's future hold?  That still remains to be seen.  Our dreams for him have not changed.  We pray for this amazing person to reach the great potential God has for him.  We pray for him to reach the world in whatever way God has planned.  We pray for him to always know that he is surrounded by love greater that we can comprehend.  As a dear friend put it so eloquently, Every day we get to hold and love him far outweighs any struggle.

And in the meantime, this is just another bump in the road.        

July 19, 2014

What Faith Can Do-Kutless

Tonight I am loving this song one of Addison's special prayer friends shared with us.  Thanks, Susan!

July 18, 2014

Perfect Peace

Music is such an important part of life around here.  We are always singing, playing or listening to something.  Lately, there hasn't been much music in our lives.  I gave my iPod to Emma.  And then the music files got deleted from my iPhone. So I haven't had my ear buds plugged in for some time.   Life has been so crazy no one has regularly practiced piano or instruments for several weeks.  I have even noticed, with the exception of Carmella and Elisabeth singing "Let It Go" every waking moment, we aren't even singing throughout the day as we normally do.  Perhaps, everyone is too preoccupied?  I don't know.  But there it is.  This occurred to me the other day and I pointed it out to the girls.  They said they had noticed the same thing.  Which led to a discussion about how much we connect with the Lord through our music and how much it buoys us up.  And a discussion about how we need to get music back into our daily life.  As if God wanted to drive the point home, two friends sent us links to songs they thought would be encouraging to us.  Hey friends, I know this seems like a small thing in the grand scheme of your day, but it was big to us.  Thanks for taking the time to share.  

July 13, 2014

On the Chicken Front

It's been just about two years since we began raising chickens.  There have been so many good things about this endeavor.  The least not being a steady supply of wonderful eggs at our disposal.  The last few months have been busy times around the chicken coop. 
  So these are more than just a source of food and income for the boys.  The hens have definitely become their pets.  They know each one by name and the girls know them.  The kids have them trained to come when they get near the coop with scraps.  When they get out of their yard we call in Sam, the chicken wrangler.  He has taught the hens to sit and wait for him to pick them up when they see him approaching.   
In June one of our hens fell ill.  The kids were devastated when they knew Eddie wasn't going to make it.  They brought her up from the coop and stayed with her all day and into the evening.  She had to be isolated from the other hens and they didn't want her to die alone. 
 So Eddie died and the kids buried her near the new coop they are building so she will have a nice view and the company of the rest of the flock.
 The death of this chicken had an odd impact on Carmella.  She has always loved to stand outside the yard and watch them but was always afraid to go into the coop.  As soon as we lost Eddie Carmella wanted to be taking care of the chickens all the time.  Before breakfast she asks to take the vegetable scraps out to the chickens.
 And she will beg the boys to pick a chicken up for her to pet.
 And she loves to collect and count the eggs
And if you are visiting she will surely take you on a tour of the coop.  Rest assured you will not leave without a dozen eggs to take home for breakfast.
Sometimes she asks if we can just watch the chickens for a while.

 So aside from the wonderful eggs, I like chicken farming for the good lessons it teaches.  It's good for my boys.  Good hard honest work ties brother heart strings.

And over the last few months under the direction of their Pa they have built a new chicken coop.  These skills will serve them well the rest of their lives.

But chickens aren't all work and no play.  The kids couldn't resist playing a little joke on Samuel.  He has the AM chicken duty.  That means getting up at 6:00 to let them out, feed and water them.  Only Samuel isn't  so keen on rising early.  Every morning I wake him up by telling him the chickens are calling for him.  For his birthday the kids found an alarm clock that crows like a rooster.  They left it in the coop for him to find when he went out in the morning.  Now the rest of us often wake up to a crowing rooster.  But Sam still sleeps in.

 The boys are learning hard work pays off.  They began selling their eggs in May.  They have so many faithful customers now our chickens can't keep up with sales.  It's been several weeks now since this Mama has had an egg to eat.  The boys do all the work so they get to divide the money and they are enjoying watching their hard work turn into profits. 

We had a chicken who was brooding for a few weeks.  Their attempts to break her of the habit failed.  Finally at the beginning of July our neighbor brought the boys 15 fertile eggs to slip under the girl.  One morning last week Sam went to the hen house and heard the peep of chicks. 
 Ten adorable little girls to be exact.

In addition to hard work and the practical aspects of raising chickens I hope our boys have learned a few good Biblical principals in this endeavor.  Our chickens and hen house were given to us by a generous neighbor who decided he was finished with farming.   The boys decided they wanted to give their eggs away since God had provided the chickens for them.  They have faithfully given eggs to anyone who came to our home and excitedly sought out people at church and in the community to pass eggs on to.  We have always had more eggs than we knew what to do with.  We told them as long as they shared what God gave to them He would always provide.  In response a friend gave them a bunch more hens last year.  They continued to give eggs away and we ate them everyday as well.  Then God started bringing them customers.  As I said, we can't keep up with the number of people who want to buy eggs now.  Still when anyone comes to our house the boys scrape together a dozen eggs if they have any.  Just as we started to run out of eggs what did God do?  He provided us with 10 more chicks.

Pets... food... lessons... this chicken business is good all around. 

July 11, 2014


This week our very precious friend, Lorene Williamson, went home to the Lord. She has been a good
friend, mentor and sister in the Lord. As we prepare for her services tomorrow, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what made her so amazing.

After Jesus there is nothing Miss Lorene loved more than her boys. I know this because she told me time and time again. I know this because I can not recall even one conversation that did not include a mention of her sons. I know this because as we shared prayer requests the only thing she ever specifically asked me to prayer for were her sons. Miss Lorene loved each of them more than life itself. I believe that love is what sustained her through so many of life's great challenges including divorce and cancer. Even in her last weeks I believe that love is what kept her alive as she struggled for each word and every breath.

Miss Lorene was proud of each of her children. She was proud of their families, their accomplishments and the honorable men they have become. Even though until recently I couldn't even tell the three of her boys apart, I knew each one and their families intimately through the stories Miss Lorene constantly shared. I learned many things from My dear friend and one of them was how to raise my own boys to be men of integrity and honor. I didn't know her family when they were growing up but I can tell by the love, respect and care they had for their mama that she did an amazing job of bringing them up under what must have been difficult circumstances.

And to her daughters-in-law I could say as much about them. Miss Lorene loved them. Every conversation had some bit about Leslie this or Leslie that. Through your relationships with Miss Lorene I learned both how to be a good daughter-in-law and a good mother-in-law. Thank you for loving my friend and being the daughters she never had. I know you were a blessing to her.

Miss Lorene loved me. My mom was not a big part of my life. And when I was 12 she left our family for good. I met Miss Lorene when I was 30 years old. We became fast friends because she hugged like my Italian family. One day she asked about my family and I shared that they weren't really involved in my life. Miss Lorene shook her head and said what a shame for them. She told me she would just have to be my mama then. One day shortly after her brother died and my baby had passed away I asked Miss Lorene how she was doing. She said she missed her brother. She asked me how I was doing. I told her I wished my mom was here. We had a cry together. Then, she put her arms around me and said she was sure God had saved her from cancer so she could be there to hug me when my mother wasn't capable of it herself.

True to her word she was always encouraging me, hugging me and rocking my babies. Recently as I was struggling through a very hard time Miss Lorene called to say she just felt led to pray for me and make sure I knew she loved me and she was proud of me. Through God's leading she knew just what I needed and when.

One day recently, she was talking to one of my daughters she said, "I always told my boys I would throw myself in front of a train to save them. Tell your mom that goes for her, too." And I believe she would have.

She and I had such good times together! Like when she tried to teach me to belly dance. She correctly stated that I stink! Yes, I loved her honesty and blunt way of speaking.

I will never forget the way she looked wearing a big pink brimmed hat and sipping tea in my garden.

Or the time she taught me how to make her famous banana pudding and gave me her top secret peanut brittle recipe. When I made her peanut brittle it was never as good as hers, which Miss Lorene had no problem telling me. I am sorry to say I will never be able to duplicate that wonderful recipe. But I will keep trying and always cherish the memories she gave me of times shared between a mother and daughter.

Among other lessons she gave me, Miss Lorene taught me to laugh through trials, there is always someone worse off than ourselves, to live every minute as if you have no other and to let the joy of Jesus rule your life. My life was richer because I knew Lorene Williamson.

My own dear grandmother suffered with Alzheimer's from the time I was in my early 20s and passed in 2003. Only two of my children ever met her and they were so young they don't remember her at all. I met miss Lorene when our 4th child was a newborn. From then on she would come over and spend entire days just rocking whoever the baby was at the time. Or sometimes she would tell me to bring the baby to her so she could rock him.

My children all loved their "Grandma Lorene" but my sons were particularly fond of her. After one
hospitalization they would ask us just about every day to take them to visit. Allen was concerned they would be far too much for her to handle at that time. When they finally did get to see her she was tickled and while I am sure their visit must have tired her, she never showed it while we were there.

My boys considered it a privilege and honor to help Miss. Lorene to her car each Sunday. As soon as we said the last "Amen" they would race to my side and ask permission to go carry her bags. And they were always rewarded with a kiss and hug.

Miss Lorene just couldn't help herself! One Sunday our typically quiet baby was so chatty. I finally carried Carmella out of the service. I couldn't figure out why she was so wound up. After worship Miss Lorene said, "I didn't mean to get her in trouble." When I asked what she was talking about she said she was making faces at her and blowing kisses and that's why Carmella was squealing and laughing.

My Sunday was always a little extra special if Miss Lorene was in church. In our crowded building sometimes it was hard to get over to her before service started. But that didn't stop her from letting me know she was glad to see me. She would sit in her seat waving and blowing kisses until she caught my attention. And, no, she didn't care a bit if Pastor was preaching or not. I liked that about Miss Lorene, too. She didn't wait to let you know she loved you... just in case. And she didn't care what anyone else thought. We would all do better to think like her.

Miss Lorene was generous with her praise. Just the same, she didn't hesitate to tell a person what they were doing wrong. It was never in a mean way but in a, "I love you and want you to be your best or your happiest," sort of way. She was just as quick to point out her own mistakes, too.

When I got my last Miss Lorene hug just before she died I knew she was so weak it was difficult to speak. But that didn't stop her from giving me one of her super "Like you mean it hugs." We agreed that we would see each other at the throne of God for another squeeze someday soon.

We have chosen to sing the song "They'll Be a Homecoming" for her service because we rejoice for Miss Lorene in her being reunited with all those who have gone on before. When I think of her dancing with all those special friends who've gone on already I can't wipe the smile off my face. Some people believe that all babies are grown up in Heaven. But if not, I can imagine Miss Lorene cradling our little one in her lap and rocking him as we never had the opportunity here on earth. I look forward to the glad and happy morning when we will all sing praises together.

What a Hallelujah Chorus... When the family gathers home!

"They'll Be A Homecoming"
How happy are the times when the family gathers home
and we see the loved ones we have missed so long
Then our hearts are made so sad
When we have to part again
But in Heaven there will be no parting song.
When we've said our last goodbyes
And our loved ones pass away
Still we know that someday we shall meet again
When we hear the trumpet sound and the Lord shall appear
Then the greatest family gathering will begin.
They'll be a homecoming
When the saints of all the ages gather around the throne
There'll be no parting ever
We'll sing glad praise together
What a Hallelujah meeting
When the family gathers home.
`Sydney and Cathy Coble

You can read more about Miss Lorene here:
Week 2 of 52
A Little of This and a Little of That
A Beautiful Service
Tea for Two

July 3, 2014


July 2nd was Carmella's third birthday.  As often seems to be the case in this growing up business, I can't believe she has been with us just three years.  And all at the same time I wonder how three years could go by so fast.  I, we all in fact, adore this little girl.  She makes us laugh all the time.  She truly is so smart it blows my mind.  And when she is naughty, she is so cute.  We really have to work to not laugh when she gets in a stubborn mood.  
Her greatest challenge has been overcoming her "shyness" which we know is really just her way of trying to exert her will.  But we see her making progress in this area.  A firm position and some Swedish fish go an awful long way.   
Carmella loves to read, host tea parties, swing, swim and do anything creative.  She loves chap stick, high heels and wearing her hair down.  She dances like only a little princess can and sings at the top of her lungs.  She adores Elsa and Beast.  Her brothers and sisters are her idols.  Carmella will follow her siblings around copying whatever they are doing.  Her smile is contagious and her laugh is the most delightful sound in the world.  Her honesty and inquisitiveness are close seconds.
Her birthday was very hot and very humid.  Although, not as hot and humid as the miraculous day she was born.  What we here in Maryland call typical July weather.  Just the same we decided to go pick sweet cherries at an orchard up in the Catoctin Mountains.
 And then we took a breakfast picnic to a nearby park which has the most amazing giant slide.  I remember riding this slide when I was just slightly older than Carmella.  That made it doubly fun to share with my kids.  The girls had a friend visiting for the week and Allen made the most hilarious video of them going down the slide.  Unfortunately, I was having trouble getting it uploaded from the iPhone.  (Any ideas?)  So just imagine a lot of squealing and laughing before a big old wipe out. 
Carmella loves the library.  So our next stop was to visit a library we've never been to on the north end of the county.  Where we oddly enough ran into my brother.  After reading books for a while she had fun checking out the preschool corner.
Lunch was back home and included her  very favorite chocolate cupcakes.  Because she simply could not wait until dinner.  And who are we to say no? 
 Kaitlin sewed her an Elsa dress as her gift.  And, of course, she loved it!  In fact, she loved it so much she wore it to bed.  And again the next day.  And finally by the day after that we had to sneak it away to the laundry. 
The verse I claimed for Carmella when she was born is "Keep my commandments, and live; keep my law as the apple of thine eye."  Proverbs 7:2  I think this verse is even more applicable as she enters a new year where she is now able to choose obedience for herself. 
Many Happy Returns of the Little Princess Birthday!