Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Fun

So far this winter we have been having so much fun...

Playing basketball!

Going to birthday parties where you can jump & roll!

"Mommy, can you change my little girl's diaper?"
She brought me the diaper and new doll, laid the doll and diaper on the floor, and pointed at her. And, of course, I put the diaper on the doll.
I wish I had a nickel for every diaper these hands have changed. :-)
Glad to do it!

We have watched winter weather roll in!
I love the icicles on the play house.

John Owen made snow angels!

Jonah ate the icicles!

They both slid down the snow-covered slide.
Secretly, I wished I could have done it, too.

John Owen laid in the snow longer than I thought possible.

All 3 kiddos have enjoyed the winter snow so far this year!
This year Mary Claire took her first steps in the "white stuff". I have got to get her some gloves that fit, though, so her little hands don't get so cold. She pulls the "too big" gloves off right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What We Know

You know something I have learned quickly is that sometimes what you think you know may not be exactly true. What I have known about Mary Claire has changed, but only somewhat...I know she has a congenital brain anomaly now, I know the doctor has confirmed his belief that she is at risk for seizures now, I know she has never had a seizure and the doctor says the longer she goes without one, the better...I know what the doctor has said. But more than any of that, I know that she is the same baby girl God gave me 20 months ago today. I haven't seen one change in her except that she continues to grow and learn and show me how determined she is every day. I know she is "as tough as a pine knot" as Jan so colorfully puts it :-). I know she is going to be just fine and that we will continue to give her the life we intended to try our best to give her before we knew all of this with a few added precautions now that we know what we know.

I still know God holds her in His hand.

The hardest part for me is the fear of the unknown, but then again, do any of us know what tomorrow holds? It's all unknown. And if you really think about that, it can be kinda scary. And if you choose to dwell on that, it can drive you nuts! I'd rather live life than worry about living life.

Only He knows tomorrow.

So, I will step forward from this learning experience with this knowledge, some new, some I already knew, and know that every day is a gift and that I should value it as such. That what you know today may not be what you know tomorrow.

What we want you to know is that we are thankful for the prayers, emails, texts, calls, etc.

Knowing that you have friends and family lifting your little one up in prayer gives comfort. Please continue to lift Mary Claire up. Thank you so much.



Friday, January 22, 2010

First Sleepover

Last Friday night, John Owen had his first sleepover. We, and yes, I said "WE" were so excited we could hardly wait for the week to finally reach Friday night! John Owen spent the night with his friend, Carter B., a few months ago, so he decided it was time to have Carter over to his house. The boys play on the same church league basketball team. So after last Friday's game, Carter came home with the Hensleys! We ordered pizza (Isn't that essential for any sleepover?!), they played the Wii (Of course!), & we made ice cream sundaes!

I think they had a GREAT time! We'll definitely have to have Carter over again!

Um, I'm sorry, isn't this a sleepover for 6 year olds? :-)
Jan enjoyed himself, too, I think!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wii Are SOOO Crazy...

about the Wii Super Mario Bros! This has occupied, um...say 90%, of our time at home these days. I have had to set rules and limitations (to a certain extent) because of the extensive time my boys, including Jan, spend playing the Wii. It's fun to watch them spending time doing something they like and at least they can do it together, so I am not complaining too much. It has become somewhat difficult when trying to get everyone to come eat their food. They'd rather play than eat, I think!

We will play anywhere!
In our pajamas,
We don't care! :-)

Jonah is so funny to watch play. He REALLY gets into it. Physically, I mean!

John Owen does funny things with his tongue when he's concentrating on his moves!

A little celebration!

Even Mary Claire has shown us she wants some time on the Wii...

and she knows exactly what to do! :-)

We are saving up our money for 2 MORE Wii remotes so that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE
Mommy will get some "Wii time", too!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mary Claire

First of all, thank you so much for all of the prayers this week for Mary Claire. The MRI went fine Tuesday, and I have spoken with the neurologist several times since Wed. afternoon. Dr. Morgan has been absolutely wonderful in taking the time to call me personally and email me so as to educate me about the anatomy of Mary Claire's brain. I would give you all the "fancy terms" I have learned over the last couple of days, but I think all I need to say is that Mary Claire has a congenital brain abnormality. This did somewhat surprise Dr. Morgan (and, of course, US!) seeing as she has no signs of developmental problems that would have thrown up a "red flag" for this abnormality. (Maybe that awful fall down the stairs was meant to be...)

This abnormality is something that probably happened very early in my pregnancy with her, probably in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd months and there are a number of things that could have caused it. I am choosing to believe what I have always believed...that God knew what He was doing when He formed even her smallest parts, and He's still in control.

After fully examining Mary Claire & the MRI, Dr. Morgan has told us that Mary Claire is a very normal toddler, that her brain is just formed a little differently than the normal brain anatomy should be. She has stressed the point that brain anatomy does not necessarily correlate with function. The fact that she has no developmental delay and apparently has shown no signs of seizures so far is great! The primary concern is for the occurence of seizures. And the Dr. has said that there may be a small chance she may go her entire life with little or no seizure activity. Dr. Morgan wants to do a full EEG in the next few weeks to measure the brain wave activity and get a better picture of what the likelihood of seizures might be. So, please continue to keep Mary Claire in your prayers. God can do great things! I am praying for His healing hand on her. And that she'll go her entire life and never have to experience a seizure. If that's not His plan, I pray that He'll walk with her every step of the way.
Thank you again for your prayers. It's comforting to know that friends and family are praying, too.

Love, Nicole

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lay It Down

I think I sit here tonight "therapeutically" blogging when I should be already in bed trying to sleep. I just simply can't lie down right now. I haven't reached that "sleepy point", yet. I listened to one of my favorite songs tonight and couldn't help but wonder if God deliberately laid that song on my heart. Because as I sang the words and thought about life in general, I realized that the song told me exactly what I needed to do...Lay It Down. I love to hear Jaci Velasquez sing. And when I think about the things that trouble me, her words in this song resound in my head and heart.

Recently, my grandfather became very sick, diagnosed with lung cancer, and I have watched his life change drastically since October to the point that last Friday while Jan and I were there with him, he just slept, probably not even aware of our presence. I hoped as I leaned over him and whispered, "I love you," that on some level he knew I was there. It's almost like a dream to think of him as he attended Mary Claire's 1st birthday just a little over 6 months ago in seemingly good health. And today, my "Meemaw" and his wife, was placed in assisted living. My life here on Earth with my wonderful grandparents seems to be starting to slip away...

So, I'm gonna lay it down.  
I'm gonna learn to trust You now.
What else can I do?
Everything I am depends on You.
And if the sun don't come back up
I know Your love will be enough.
I'm gonna let it be, I'm gonna let it go.
I'm gonna lay it down. 

Tomorrow morning, my little girl goes in for an MRI. We've seen a neurologist in the past week and the neurologist wants to get a clearer look at Mary Claire's condition. Yeah, I am afraid eventhough she seems perfectly normal. What mother wouldn't be afraid? 

'Cause all of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are safe and secure when I place them in Your hands.

So, I'm gonna lay it down.
I'm gonna learn to trust You now.
What else can I do? Everything I am depends on You.
And if the sun don't come back up
I know Your love will be enough.
I'm gonna let it be, I'm gonna let it go,
I'm gonna lay it down.

And one day, if my children take the time to read this scrap"blog" of ours, I hope they'll walk away from this with the knowledge that no matter what troubles you in life, what hurts you or scares you, that you can find peace in knowing that God is there and He is in control and that we can trust in Him.
Just lay it down at God's feet.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Christmas & New Year's

Well, I had better wrap up our family scrap"blog" for 2009 since 2010 has officially begun! And I finally took the time to sit still and download the software for my new camera so that I could include some pics from our recent holidays. (Let me go ahead and apologize for the lengthy post & pics, but I have to get this in!) I don't want to bore you with all the pics from our trip to Hawaii on Dec. 17th-23rd, but I have included some shots that I want to remember the most.

Last night, I had the TV on CNN and the reporter was commenting on the recent Hawaiian vaca of our President. I looked longingly at the ocean in the background and then the reporter said something that I could totally identify with..."I don't know what it is about Hawaii, but once you've got it in your blood, it just keeps calling you back!" Yeah, I think I might have it in my blood! :-) Our plan for the future is to go back and visit the 2 or 3 islands we haven't been to yet. (Maybe on our 15th or 20th anniversary.) Anyhow, here's how I'll remember our 2009 Christmas and New Year's...

As I said in an earlier post, I had to complete my Christmas "tasks" well ahead of time since we were sceduled to leave for Kona on Dec. 17th. I used 1 1/2 personal days to miss the last bit of school before Christmas break. And after a few tears shed as I left my children that Thursday morning, and a whole day of traveling westward & across the Pacific Ocean, my eyes beheld this glorious sight...

This was the view from our balcony. I could have thrown a stone and hit the water, and all we had to do was slide open the door to hear the relaxing ocean sounds! We spent alot of time on that balcony!

This is Wai'pio Valley! The journey to get there was almost as memorable as the beautiful things we saw when we reached this destination point. Breathtaking! (Yeah, and that last word also describes what WE will remember most of all from this valley...the HIKE BACK UP!!) :-)

O.K. We found it! Our favorite place to eat in Kona, The Fish Hopper on All'i Drive. The crab & shrimp fritatta was unbelievably good! I took this picture from the entryway showing the sign and the lamppost decorated for Christmas. This was my second time to spend Christmas in Hawaii, and I love the decorations amidst the tropical atmosphere.

We toured one of the many coffee plantations, Hula Daddy Coffee, while in Kona. I didn't buy this shirt, but I thought it was funny!

Normally, I wouldn't post a picture of myself in a wetsuit, but this is one of the only shots I have to remember our night snorkel with the manta rays. That's right, I said NIGHT SNORKEL WITH MANTA RAYS! If there's one thing I'll take with me from this trip, it would be that I put aside my fear of the ocean deep (due to too many viewings of JAWS as a child), and I spent 45 mins. in the Pacific Ocean (which is pretty COLD) at night! I was so tense, I couldn't tell if my muscles were tense from the fear or from the cold. Whatever it was, I finally relaxed enough to enjoy it. We saw a baby manta ray that had a 6 foot wingspan! She swam under me and it nearly took my breath away! I repeatedly kept telling myself..."No Teeth, No Stingers!" It was an awesome experience!

Coming back up from the Atlantis submarine trip! Seeing the shipwrecks and coral was very cool!
It wouldn't be a Hawaiian experience without a beautiful waterfall, right?

This would be the view from the southernmost point in the USA! I don't know if the picture can truly represent how BLUE the water there is! Guess that's why they call it "Blue Hawaii".

My boys' favorite picture...Daddy shaking hands with a sea turtle! (I told them we didn't get a chance to ask him how old he was. :-) All you "Nemo" fans know what I mean!)

No, that's not a handful of dirt. That's black sand from the black sand beach we went to on the east side of the island. That's where we saw the sea turtles, too! Black sand is not like the soft, white sand that so many of us have walked on at the Gulf of Mexico beaches. It's very gritty, but amazing to see.

And what better way to see the blue waters of Hawaii than parasailing 1000 ft. into the air? We loved this! It was great!

Happy 10 year anniversary!

We watched a beautiful sunset and ate until we couldn't eat any more before boarding our plane and heading home. We flew out at night from Kona, so we pretty much tried to sleep until we reached LAX. (At 5:00 a.m.) Then boarded another plane at 7:00 a.m. headed for Memphis. I couldn't sleep on that second flight, and I believe it was mostly due to the fact that I knew I was but a few hours from seeing my children! I'll spare you all of the details of the greeting from them at the airport, but it was a moment I'll never forget.

From that point forward, it was a non-stop trip to Christmas! Here's some shots of our Christmas with family over the course of the last week or so.

Have you all been good this year?

Sweet Mary Claire!

A visit from my friend, Natalie, her husband, Adam, and daughter, Emma Kate on Christmas Eve!
(Please disregard my horrible appearance...less than 24 hrs. after getting off the airplane!) Good thing that good friends love you no matter your looks! :-)

Heading out in the rain on Christmas Eve to put out reindeer food for Santa's reindeer!

Mary Claire and the highchair she got for her dolls. She pushed the highchair to sit right beside her own highchair. Smart girl!

John Owen opens a dinosaur egg from Uncle Christopher and Natalie!

Jonah "sizing up" his new shirt from Mimi & Daddy Nick

The Hensley granddaughters with Granddaddy Hensley at our house on the day after Christmas.
(l to r) Mary Claire, Alexandria, Ashton, Bella, Kelley, Granddaddy, and Jade

Mary Claire gets a piano from Aunt Michele, Owen T. and Alex! Cool!

Last but not least, some pictures from the Caudle family Christmas on the 27th.
Jan teases me that this side of my family always has some sort of "production" worked in the celebration. Well, it's always been like that for me, so I'm used to it. He's still adapting, I think. It used to be all of us grandchildren standing in front of everyone singing or reciting whatever we'd been learning in school or church. Then there was the year we acted out the Christmas story at Dinah's with Jan and myself playing the parts of Mary and Joseph. We even had costumes! This year it was all about my Grandmother Caudle (Jenny) as we took the "12 Days of Christmas" song and changed the words to represent the gifts we surprised her with! All the great-grandchildren lined up with their cue cards and we commenced to "fumble" our way through the words of the song. It was pretty funny! And the best part was Grandmother was so surprised with lots of things she will enjoy.

After our small "production" the great-grandchildren circled around Jenny to listen to her stories. She's the best story-teller! Every one of them sat still and quietly listened to her. It made me proud to see these children, these descendants of hers, hanging on every word she said, interacting with her when she posed a question and answering with such young intelligence. See, these "productions" are not so bad!
Everyone lined up and waiting on their cue!

Jonah listening to Jenny's story

The Caudle great-granddaughters sitting with Mimi on the couch.              
(l to r) Mary Shields, Olivia, Mary Claire, and Mimi

Well, I think "that's a wrap"! Whew!
We spent New Year's Eve afternoon with friends at the U of M basketball game and then stuffed ourselves at Texas de Brazil afterwards. I hate to admit it, but I think I was asleep when the New Year rang in here! So, a new year has begun. A new year of scrap"blogging"! A new year with hope for good times with family and friends. I hope your 2010 is nothing short of a grand "production"! :-)