Saturday, December 13, 2008

It REALLY is more fun to give than to receive...

Growing up one of my favorite childhood memories was that of our Christmas morning routine.

My sisters and I would awake very early and rush to the family room to see what Santa had left for us while we slept. We would then rummage through our stockings, each sort our presents into piles and spend time shaking and analyzing what might be in each of the many packages Santa had left for us. Once the sun came up, we were allowed to wake my parents. But in my Father's bid to
torturetease us, he had this whole routine where he would stretch and yawn for what seemed like hours before budging. Then of course we would have to bring him coffee. And just when we thought we were going to begin opening presents, my Dad would suddenly have a craving for a cookie. My Dad would prolong his morning routine until us kids were bursting with excitement. Only then were we allowed to begin opening presents. As much as we may have acted otherwise, my sisters and I loved this little game.

Who among us does not have a favourite childhood memory of waking up on Christmas morning? A tree that somehow seemed larger than life, presents flowing from beneath its branches and perhaps the wonderful smells of a turkey roasting in the oven. Now try and picture your life void of those memories, try and picture being a child who might not get to know those sights, those smells, that overwhelming, uncontainable joy when Santa's existence is indisputable?

For many children, they do not have to imagine that - they live it.

This year, we have "adopted" a family for the the holidays through our church's affiliation with South Street Ministries. Our adopted family consists of a single mom and her four young children. When the mom approached South Street Ministries for help with Christmas, she was very reluctant to ask for much because she did not want to seem “greedy”, she just wanted to make sure that her kids each had a present to open on Christmas morning. When a family seeks help from South Street, they are asked to complete a Christmas list. The initial wish list the family submitted was somewhat heartbreaking…the 5 year old boy asked for a stocking as he has never had one before, the 3 year old asked for shoes, another child wanted a blanket.

Santa, carrying a sack full of toys and a stocking for each child, accompanied us to meet the family this week. With the help of family and friends we were also able to gather two carloads of used toys, clothes, blankets and household items for the family. The children were ecstatic to not only meet Santa for the first time, but also so thankful for just the used items we brought. The 8 year old girl was literally jumping up and down she was so excited as she came across a Hannah Montana shirt among the clothes we brought her.

We have also collected dozens of new items we are wrapping that will be waiting for the children when they awake Christmas morning. I hope that THIS Christmas will become a favorite childhood memory for our adopted family.

Spending time with those kids jolted me out of my comfort zone into an unfamiliar setting, but I left feeling very good about myself. It's amazing how giving a little to others can be so rewarding for the soul.

Yes, I do have a point to all this. I am challenging everyone who reads this to do something for those less fortunate this holiday season. Whether you donate unneeded household items, give money, volunteer your time, there are many ways to get involved.

Are you a parent reading this? What a great opportunity to teach your children compassion. Together as a family you could decide on a way to help someone else. Maybe your good thing is anonymous. Maybe that family in need doesn't need to know you left the basket of goodies on their porch or put that gift certificate in their mailbox.

It's almost selfish. Why? Because it will make you feel good. It really is more fun to give than it is to receive.

Happy Holidays,

P.S. Thank you to all my special blogging friends for your prayers, kind words, and emails. Kyle spent four days in the hospital on oxygen support,and is at home doing much better now. He ended up having pneumonia, and with his lungs already compromised, it hit him quick and hard. I apologize for not posting an update. The weekend Kyle got sick was the same weekend we adopted our family…losing almost a week's time with Kyle sick and in the hospital really put us in a time crunch. Anyways, thanks so much for the thoughts and prayers and I am sorry for my lack of updates.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prayer Request

Kyle was admitted to the hospital yesterday. What started out as a cold took a turn for the worse on Sunday night and Kyle’s breathing became quite labored. We took him to his pediatrician first thing Monday morning, and she called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital.

Kyle was admitted to ICU and it was soon discovered that he has some sort of infection in his lungs. Yesterday was spent running all sorts of tests to determine what type of infection he has, which will then let the doctors know how to treat him. So far his influenza and RSV tests have come back negative; we should have the results for the remaining cultures tomorrow.

We are hopeful that Kyle will be moved out of ICU and into a regular room sometime today. The next step will then be to start weaning him from oxygen support. Kyle has to be off of oxygen for 24 hours before they will consider releasing him.

In addition to blood work, vitals, etc., Kyle is receiving steroid breathing treatments every other hour to help open up his airways. While these have helped a ton, it also means he has had very little sleep. Kyle has a nasal cannula (breathing tubes) taped to his face/nose, an IV in one arm (which he has pulled out twice) and a blood pressure cuff on the other arm, heart and respiratory rate leads attached to his chest, and a pulse oximeter hooked up to his foot. The poor guy is covered in wires and does not like it one bit. It’s impossible to try and explain to a 21 month old that they are helping him get better, so he is spending a good amount of time trying to pull off the various contraptions. It breaks my heart to see him so miserable.

Please say a prayer, not just for Kyle, but for the other children here at the hospital as well.
Leaning on Him,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rules of Dating...According to 3rd Graders

Let me start by saying that I do not allow my daughter to date. And she won't be dating for a LONG time.

We do however live in a wonderful neighborhood filled with lots of kids.

During a recent neighborhood bonfire, the upcoming Donut Man concert at our church was mentioned. I was going to be taking Madison and her friend Sophia, but we had two extra tickets. Ahem, I can not imagine why Joe did not want to go? A couple of boys Madison's age overheard and expressed interest in going with us.

As these kids have socialized together since preschool, this really should not of been a big deal. But suddenly, it became clear to me that this playdate was different.

While Madison and her friend feigned annoyance at the prospect of going somewhere with, gasp, BOYS, their non-stop talking about the big day betrayed their true feelings.

Really, that was all they seemed to talk about. They even went so far as to type up a list of rules for the boys:
The rules actually start off pretty reasonable and respectable. No touching -a rule I hope she always adheres to where the opposite sex is concerned. Be nice, say please and thank-you.

With the introduction of "do not talk to us in public", the rules went down-hill from there.

Thinking that the poor boys must have been hurt by this note, I was all set to make Madison apologize when we picked them up for the concert.

Apparently the boys were unfazed. They jumped in the car and promptly starting burping, as they smugly declared that "burping" was not on the list of rules.

At least they are learning early how bossy women can be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy, Happy Birthday

Well actually, Madison turned nine last week. However; I have never been one to be on time.

My Dearest Madison,

As I sat down to write about your 8th year, one word kept coming to mind. Blossom. Blossomed. Blossoming. Well, technically those are three words, but you get the idea.

You have blossomed so much over this past year.

When you were in kindergarten, you received poor marks in music class. Not because you could not carry a tune, but because you were to shy to participate in class.

During our Parent-Teacher Conference, your kindergarten teacher said while you were an excellent student, you were shy to the point that she feared if something was wrong, you would be to bashful to let her know. And that is exactly what ended up happening. On the last day of school, you broke your finger during a relay race. But, you did not tell anyone. Instead, you suffered silently until you saw a close friend of the family that happened to be volunteering at school that day.

While you were in First Grade, your baby brother was born 1000 miles away from home under circumstances that were stressful for our entire family. Soon thereafter, I contacted your teacher to see how you were coping with things at school. Your teacher was not even aware, nor was any of your friends at school, that you had just become a big sister.

Fast forward to the 3rd Grade. When Daddy and I arrived at your conference this year, your teacher knew every little detail about your baby brother.

You have blossomed in so many ways….

During your 8th year, you received the Stolion Award.

This past summer, you not only wrote and starred in a play with your friends. But you went door to door selling advance tickets to the play. You then took the proceeds from the ticket sales and bought refreshments to sell during the play, hoping to increase your profit. Quite the business woman already!

Although you have only been in 3rd grade for a couple months, it has been a fantastic year for you so far. You have been honored with a “Raccoon Award” for kindness and responsibility. Your teacher also chose you to receive Student of the Month/Principal’s Luncheon for October. When nominating you, Miss Alexander had this to say about you: “Madison is an ideal role model for her classmates. She is always willing to help a friend or a teacher. She is extremely trustworthy and takes the responsibility to make sure her classmates are doing the right thing. Madison is committed to going above and beyond when completing assignments. Madison has a positive attitude and constant enthusiasm for learning."

You have been elected as mayor of your 3rd grade class. This feat is significant because in order to be considered you had to write and give a speech in front of your whole class.

And perhaps the most telling sign of how you have blossomed this past year. You have been chosen as one of the local winners for the PTA Reflections Program in the category of Dance Choreography. My little girl, who just a couple years ago was too reserved to sing along with her classmates, choreographed and performed a dance in front of her entire class.

To say I am proud of you would be an understatement.

You are compassionate, feisty, imaginative, sensitive, sassy and absolutely spoiled beyond rotten, and you, my dear, are the apple of my eye. You make every day better.

I am honored to call you my daughter. I am not only a lucky mommy, but I am a better person for knowing you. May God continue to watch over and bless you.

All my love,


Friday, October 3, 2008

A Letter from "TF"

Madison lost her first tooth in kindergarten. She was so excited! Until she put her tooth under her pillow and discovered the next morning that this thing called a Tooth Fairy - a total stranger - had actually come into her room in the middle of the night...when she was all alone, violated her personal space and then took her tooth. This near brush with death was hardly worth the money left behind by this thing called a Tooth Fairy.

And, I have to admit, if you look at it from her from her point of view, it is kinda creepy.

So, soon thereafter when she lost her second tooth...she did not even tell Joe or I. She had been hopeful if she kept it to herself, that crazy fairy would not come. Of course, if your daughter is missing her front teeth, it is next to impossible not to notice! To appease her fear, we convinced Madison that Tooth Fairy's do not just visit at night, they will come anytime of day. So that afternoon, we put her tooth under her pillow and then went out to play. When we checked back a few hours later, low and behold her tooth was gone and in it's place was money.

She was finally able to relax about the whole Tooth Fairy situation and enjoy loosing her teeth. And boy did she loose some teeth! During kindergarten, Madison lost EIGHT teeth. Most of that year, she looked like a Jack-O-Lantern with the odd tooth here or there.

Seeing as how she was loosing teeth left and right in kindergarten, Madison went almost three years without loosing another tooth. She has matured a lot in that time.

While now she is still not quite comfortable with the Tooth Fairy visiting her room at night...She did set up a bed with her American Girl doll outside her bedroom door. And she put her tooth, along with the following note, under her dolls' pillow:

She is obviously feeling more comfortable in her relationship with the Tooth Fairy - she even had the nerve to ask for more money! By the way, I felt the Tooth Fairy was being more than generous in leaving $10.00 in the past. But, being the astute business person that she is, Madison requested more.

To which the Tooth Fairy replied:

Dear Madison,

Thank you for your note. My name is “The Tooth Fairy” but my friends call me “TF” for short. Over the years children have given me other names such as Flossy, Winkle, Sparkles and so many more. I don’t mind at all if you want to give me a special name. But I’ll always be the Tooth Fairy. If you want you can just call me TF. If you have a special name for me, please leave me another note to let me know.

I do not have a picture with me, but, what do I look like? I am not tall and I am not short. I have nice skin and nice hair. My eyes are very pretty and I have an enchanting smile. Sometimes I wear my wings, and sometimes I do not. If you close your eyes and imagine what I look like, you just may be able to see me looking back at you. When I was just the youngest fairy, I learned that children’s laughter made my wings move faster.

I will leave you $15 this time. But please keep in mind the amount of money I have to give for teeth changes all the time. I can sometimes leave more money, other times I have to leave less. There are several secret and loving adults that have a lot of money. They give money to me so I can trade it for your lost teeth. One time I had such a generous donation to Tooth Fairy Land that I was able to give out $100 for a very special clean and white sparkling tooth, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that again. Please remember that loosing a baby tooth really isn’t just about getting money. It is about the magic you share with your friends and family. It is about the magic moment you realize you are getting just a little bit older. Be sure to always remember this time and to cherish the people you love and that love you the most.

Love Always,

Madison immediately noticed that TF's handwriting looked very similar to Mom's. I quickly pointed out the the Tooth Fairy writes in all capital letters, something I never do. Luckily, that explanation appeased her.

I'm amazed at the wonder, joy and unconditional belief that a tooth fairy actually exists. But I'm sad to realize that this utter innocence will not last much longer.

Isn’t there some way that we can slow down this growing up business?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toddler Time

Kyle started walking last week! Which officially makes him a toddler. He was into EVERYTHING before, I can only imagine the fun we're about to have!

Sorry about the poor video quality...I'm not sure what happened when I uploaded it to You Tube.

Although we are obviously so proud of Kyle, this milestone is a little bittersweet. I already miss my "baby" boy.

Maybe I need to start putting a bug in Joe's ear about having a third baby? You know, since we had such an easy time with this one and all!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Preemie Adventures

Matt, owner of Red Sparks is starting a new preemie segment on The Playpen entitled “The Preemie Adventure – Then and Now.” The series will feature a picture of premature infants at birth, along with a photo of the child at present day and a brief story from the parents describing their personal experiences with preterm birth.

He has chosen our story to kick-off the series. Here is the article and pictures that I submitted:

During a family vacation to Disney World, I was diagnosed with Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM)...which is a fancy way of saying that my water broke VERY early. I was 22 weeks pregnant and was told that there was very little chance that the baby would survive.

We were devastated as they went over the statistics. My due date was still 121 days away. We had a 90% chance that the baby would die in the delivery room. If he beat the odds and survived, it would almost surely be with severe disabilities and a very poor quality of life. We were even offered medication to speed up the “inevitable”.

Thankfully, I lasted almost two weeks on bed-rest, which gave the baby some much needed time to develop further. At 24 weeks and 5 days, Kyle was born weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. Again we were warned that his chances of surviving, let alone leading a quality life, were not good.

We were devastated when we saw how small he was. And it was not a tiny, cute little baby kind of small. He obviously was very sick. Despite all the problems on the inside - things like his lungs and heart not being developed - we were struck by how different he looked on the outside. One of his eyes was still fused shut. His skin was transparent and covered with hair. Even his ear lobes had not yet developed cartilage and just hung there.

You will hear many parents of preemie’s state that their NICU stay was a rollercoaster ride and this description is so true.

During Kyle’s 119 days in Florida Hospital South’s NICU, while he had some good days, he also endured heart surgery, 69 days on life support/ventilator, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), anemia, bilateral hernias, Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD), Chronic Lung Disease, bilateral renal calculi (small kidney stones), jaundice, aspirations, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, 3 bouts with pneumonia, hyperglycemia, 11 blood transfusions, high blood pressure, numerous infections and Stage 3 Retinopathy of Prematurity requiring Eye Surgery.

Thanks to many answered prayers, today Kyle is a happy and healthy 18 month old (14 months adjusted age). He is the happiest baby and loves to be the center of attention. He is close to walking on his own and is adding new words to his vocabulary weekly.

If there is one remnant of Kyle’s extreme prematurity, it is the slow rate in which he has grown. Although it is finally starting to get better, since the day we left the hospital we have received comments on Kyle’s small size. An automatic question of strangers seems to be, “How old is your baby?” When he weighed 7 pounds and I would answer that he is six months old, people would look at me like I am crazy. Kyle is now almost 19 pounds, which considering his start in life, is amazing to me. Still, I feel like I always have to defend his small size and am looking forward to the day that he is actually on the growth chart!

We had a great appreciation for Kyle even before his prematurity because I had such a difficult time getting pregnant (he is an IVF baby), so even his conception was nothing short of miraculous to us. But everything now is even more precious to us and we take nothing for granted. We have learned some valuable lessons through this trial and we’ll never be the same. When I look at Kyle now, it is hard for me to imagine that he once weighed just 18 ounces. I am amazed by the accomplishments he has made, he truly is our miracle baby. "This is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes." Psalm 118:23

I think this series is an excellent idea! When Kyle was in the hospital, I would scour the Internet for information on preemies. While I was able to find a lot of medical based information, there was nothing like this "Now and Then" series. This may seem callous, but as parent looking at Kyle when he was just one pound, I wondered if he would ever look "normal".

Anyways, if anyone is interested, The Play Pen is looking for other preemie parents to submit stories.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School, Back to Blogging

Yikes. It has been over three weeks since I have last posted.

I never really had aspirations or even a desire to start a blog. But I did start one, completely on a whim from my hospital bed. In the beginning, the purpose was solely to keep everyone up to date on Kyle's health and to post specific prayer requests. That was easy and did not take much thought.

But now, with Kyle healthy, and the purpose of the blog no longer there, I have really struggled with what to post. As a result, I have debated whether or not to even continue with the blog, or in what capacity.

I've worried about who I am writing the blog for. There are some people that check in just for updates on Kyle. There are others that I have met through the blogger world that probably really don't care how many teeth my baby now has. I have begun worrying who my audience is and how I can please them.

Ultimately, I've decided that I am going to write this blog for Madison and Kyle. So that someday, when I am gone or old and senile, they will have a keepsake from me. So that if their spouse ever asks them, "were you dropped on your head as a kid" (like my husband asks me on a weekly basis) they will know the answer. Starting this week. Back to school for Madison, back to blogging for me.

As this is sort of the end if summer, I thought it would be appropriate to give a shout out to two special young ladies who became an important part of our lives this summer.

First, my cousin Elanor was in town from Australia for a few weeks. She is an absolutely gorgeous girl that is full of spunk. Madison idolized her and has been trying to act sophisticated by talking "Australian" like her older cousin. You know, using words, like lollie and fairy floss.

Elle and I would have had a blast had we actually been able to go out sans kiddos during her trip. Well, scratch that. I would have had a blast. She would have probably felt mortified hanging out in a club with her cousin who is 15 years older.

Last but not least, Amy, a young woman from church who was home from college for the summer babysat Kyle and Madison while I was working. She was awesome. If there was any way I could have convinced her not to go back to Grove City College for her senior year, that she would have a much better life babysitting for us, I would have tried. I never could get up the courage to give her the pros and cons of poopie diapers and puke, instead of say, her sorority.

At any rate, Elanor and Amy, we miss you both so much already. Our summer would not have been the same without you!

Oh, and to go along with my new blogging attitude....I've got a new blog-lift. You like? Hilary designed it for us. She is a dream to work with. If anyone is in need of a blog makeover, she is your girl.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beach Bums

We've just returned from Hilton Head. What an incredible place!

This was our first road trip as a family. You see, all of our other vacations we have flown.

In a way, this trip was reminiscent of my vacations from decades ago. When my family would all pile in the station wagon for road trips. It was the late seventies, early eighties—before car seats and seat belts were all the rage. On long drives, my sisters and I rode in the back, seats folded down, unbelted amidst piles of blankets, pillows, toys, books, and discarded shoes.

Just like trips of decades gone by, Madison and I played the license plate game. Although this trip we also had a DVD player and an awful lot of texting going on as well. And thank God - no station wagon.

And Madison's favorite part of the vacation? The twelve hour drive to and from Hilton Head. Go figure. She thought driving somewhere through the middle of the night was just the coolest thing ever. We lucked out with Kyle also. He fell asleep soon after our trip began in Ohio. And did not wake until we arrived in Hilton Head in the morning. We were so thankful!

Okay, I digress. Hilton Head was an absolutely beautiful place.

During the day, we spent every possible minute at the beach or the pool. My favorite kind of vacation!

During the evenings, we went out for yummy dinners with the two other families we were vacationing with.

Madison lost a tooth while we were on vacation. Big news to an eight year old! Especially an eight year old that has not lost a tooth in almost three years.

And speaking of my sweet, innocent, eight year old daughter. There were several pictures of this dude on my camera:

Nobody I know. Apparently my sweet, innocent, eight year old daughter thought he was cute. So she took several pictures of him. I am in so much trouble when she is older!

It was the perfect summer vacation. Kyle fell in love with the ocean. Madison fell in love with crab legs. And I fell even more in love with my family.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

We're in Hilton Head and having a blast!

By the way, Operation Baby Fat is not going well at all this week. Unless sand has any caloric value?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Luau Time

As you've probably gathered from my lack of posts, this blogger has been a little lazy and lax about posting. I wish I could say I had some fabulous excuse for my laziness, but the truth is I've just been enjoying summer with the kiddos.

But alas, I am FINALLY getting around to posting about Kyle's party.

We had such a wonderful time! Almost 100 of our nearest and dearest joined us for a luau.

The kids seemed to have a blast and really got into the theme.

The adults seemed to get into the island spirit as well. My Mom won the prize for best tropical dressed:

Of course I'm only teasing! Just trying to provoke a comment from my loving Mother, since she still reads the blog but has not commented since forever.

Anyways, back to the Luau. We had barely finished with the Limbo when the torrential downpours started.

So we had to "sail" inside:

Okay, that was a very poor attempt at a joke. But, I just loved this picture of Kyle and needed an excuse to post it.

Once inside, we sang "Happy Due Date" to Kyle and let him dig into his smash cake. For someone that refuses to eat most days, he certainly enjoyed his cake:

As always, Joe was looking HAWT:

And I owe a HUGE thanks to Kyle's Godparents, Terry and Leanne.

I was so busy playing hostess during the party, I did not have time to take any pictures. They surprised us with all these wonderful photos of the party.

I especially like these two of Kyle and Madison:

Despite the rain, it really was a wonderful party and the perfect way to celebrate all that has happened over the past year.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Hope you have the loveliest 4th of July possible!

A little flashback from last years Fourth of July...

Despite being almost five months old, Kyle was still not big enough to fit into newborn sized clothes.

So, Madison dressed him up in her Build a Bear clothes.

I am pretty sure someday Kyle will not be happy that I let his sister dress him up in doll clothes!

Happy 4th of July!

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unhappy Birthday

The day Madison was born was one of the happiest in my life. Her birth was just like the movies. Well, except for the 51 hours of labor before she was actually born. Joe cut the cord and the doctors laid Madison on my chest. Immediately after she was born, right there in the delivery room, Joe and I spent time cuddling and admiring our baby girl. With a full head of hair and big blue eyes, she was the cutest baby ever.

Madison at five days old:

I cried tears of joy. Instantly Joe and I went from being a couple to a family. Life was perfect.

The day Kyle was born, on the other hand, was the worst of my life.

After my water broke at 22 weeks during our family vacation to Disney, I had been placed on bed rest in a hospital 1000 miles away from home. And I was okay with that. We were just so grateful that the doctors had been able to stop my labor.

At this point, I had been on bed rest for two weeks without any signs of labor being immanent. With people praying for us around the country, I was optimistic that I could last on bed rest for a couple months. But, the doctors had warned me that at some point labor would come, and it would come quickly. I however, was not prepared for just how quick they meant.

On February 20th, at a little after midnight, I got up to use the restroom. I did my business then laid back down in bed. It was only then that I realized something was terribly wrong. I literally could not put my legs together because the baby was falling out of me.

I frantically screamed for a nurse. She took one look at what was happening, and paged the delivery area to prep for an emergency. While this was happening, I grabbed my cell phone that was next to the bed and called Joe to alert him. The time on caller ID said 12:08am.

I was whisked down the hall and into the operating room which was full of people who were preparing for the delivery. The doctors discovered that it was actually the sac that was holding Kyle and his feet that were falling out of me. While Kyle's chances at survival were not high to begin with, with him being breech the doctors felt he certainly would not survive a vaginal delivery. So, the decision was made to try and push him back inside of me and then deliver him via c-section.

Kyle was born at 12:48 am. When he came out it was not as if you could hear a cry (the doctors later told us his lungs were the size of a lima bean) and everyone is happy and declares "it's a boy!" Instead the NICU team was there waiting and they went into overdrive trying to save this little life. Not knowing what his state was at birth, I just kept yelling "Is he alive???" until someone finally told me he was.

While I was being sewn up, a neonatoligist came to speak with me and let me know that they would do everything medically possible to give Kyle a chance at life, but there is only so much that can be done.

Until anesthesia wore off, which took a couple hours, I was not allowed to leave the recovery room to see the baby. During this time, I just laid in a bed all by myself and cried. I was so worried that Kyle would die before I ever got a chance to meet him.

In the meantime, Joe flew down to Florida. When we were finally able to go see Kyle together, we were shocked at how small he was. And it was not a tiny, cute little baby kinda small. He obviously was very sick. Despite all the problems on the inside - things like his lungs and heart not being developed - we were struck by how different he looked on the outside. One of his eyes were still fused shut. His skin was transparent and covered with hair. Even his ear lobes had not yet developed cartilage. I've never saw anything like it, but his ears just sort of hung down like Dumbo's. (Sorry Kyle, as I am sure you will read this someday!).

Kyle at five days old:

Unlike the day Madison was born, there was no cuddling and family bonding done with Kyle when he was born. In fact, it would be 69 days before I was even allowed to hold him wrapped in a blanket like a newborn.

Kyle was a fighter and after 119 days in the NICU, we were allowed to take our precious, healthy baby boy home. THAT day was one of the happiest of my life. I cried (okay I bawled) tears of joy as we made our way to the car with Kyle.

And it is THAT day that I want to celebrate.

Madison and Kyle the day he came home from the hospital:

When Kyle's birthday 1st birthday came around this past February, it just did not seem right celebrating with a big party in Ohio. So instead we headed back to Florida for a quiet reunion with our NICU family.

But, it has now been exactly one year since Kyle came home from the hospital and we are celebrating the occasion with a HUGE party for family and friends this weekend. And I couldn't be happier!!!