Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's Probably Time to Do Something About This

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another School Year Ends

Amelia loved Sonshine School, mostly because her favorite babysitter, Miss Callie, was also her teacher. She was able to remain on Miss Callie's hip throughout most of the school year, thus securing her place as "most spoiled third baby--ever".

For the first time ever, Arden loved school this year. She made sweet friends and had wonderful teachers. She never had to sit in time out and was a big fan of quoting her teacher's mantra "If you hit, you sit". She asked to stay late every day and got mad if I picked her up early. We couldn't have asked for a better year!

Claire has declared her first grade year "The best year ever!!!!", although that kid loves school so much, I suspect she'll be saying that every year. She especially loved Science, Reading, and socializing with her girl friends.

After a great school year, we are ready for a fun summer. Thanks to all the snow days we had this winter, it will be a shorter than normal summer, but we plan to make the most of it!

Monday, May 2, 2011

And Then A Whole Year Passed

Last year, I was a little emotional around this time of the year. The one year mark of Amelia's diagnosis was looming over me and I realized I hadn't allowed myself to fully grieve and process what that meant. Some of that was because I simply didn't want to, but, in retrospect, it was largely because I didn't feel entitled to.

I knew of so many others who were dealing with very traumatic losses and life-threatening illnesses that I felt it wasn't OK for me to grieve. I mean, Amelia has ONE good eye, right? You can certainly live life with one eye. What's the big deal?

I see now that this logic is flawed. There is no litmus test for pain. If your child is hurting, you are allowed to hurt along with them. If your child has been given a challenge, it's OK to grieve for that. It's OK to feel like they got ripped off. It's OK to wonder why it happened to them.

It's OK to be sad.


When Amelia was two months old, Jason and I noticed that she didn't seem to focus on anything. I noted that she always looked to the left when she was laying on her changing table or on the floor. Her eyes seemed to cross a lot. We were midly concerned.

I mentioned our concerns at Amelia's two month check up and was told by the doctor (NOT my beloved Dr. J or Dr. P)that she was fine and it was normal and I was over-analyzing things. I left her office feeling uneasy.

They don't call it mother's intuition for nothing.


A week later, I made an appointment with Dr. P. Normally, Dr. P is a boisterous, funny guy but that day he was very serious. He laid Amelia on the exam table, took one look at her eyes and said, "I'm very concerned. I'm going to make a phone call."

Less than ten minutes later, we were sitting in Dr. H's office hearing him diagnose Amelia with a rare eye condition practically NO ONE has ever heard of.

Less than ten minutes after that, we were in a retina specialist's office, listening to him confirm the diagnosis and trying to get our brains around the idea that our infant was blind in one eye.


Easily the worst day of my life. But two years later, I can honestly say that the fear of not knowing what to expect was much worse than actually experiencing it.

Not that it's been a picnic. Did you know my toddler wears a contact? I probably don't need to spell out what a nightmare that is. But we manage. Sometimes I have to take her to the doctor just to get her contact back in. This doesn't seem strange to me anymore.

It's just what we do.


Some days, I still feel sad. I feel sad that my baby has to wear a contact in an eye that can't see. I feel sad that she wears glasses as protection for her good eye rather than for vision correction. I feel sad that her eye isn't growing normally and that she's at a high risk for complications like glaucoma. I feel sad that other kids notice her difference. But mostly? Mostly, I feel just like I did when the other girls were toddlers.

Tired. And so in love.

And compared to a year ago, that's major progress.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There Will be Mud

I love Easter. I especially love it when it falls in late April, because I love celebrating the resurrection of Jesus against the backdrop of nature reawakening from its winter sleep. Also, it means the girls won't freeze in their cute Easter dresses, which I realize is NOT what Easter is about, but you have to admit, is a nice bonus.

This year, after several weeks of beautiful weather, Easter fell in the middle of a monsoon. Oh how I wish I were exaggerating when I tell you that, but I'm not. Well, it's possible that the amount of rain we had over the last week doesn't quite reach monsoon status, but it must be close.

After church, we headed to Grandma Becky's house for lunch. We got lots of play time with one of our favorite cousins, Samuel. Isn't he the cutest?

And we had an indoor egg hunt.

Eventually, the indoor hunt extended onto the front porch.

And that's when things started to get messy. Literally.

It seems no child can resist the pull of muddy grass and puddle-filled sidewalks. At least no child of mine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chips Off the Old Block

Last Friday, the girls ran their first real race--a one mile fun run at a local park. Before the race started they were both pretty nervous. Arden because she was afraid she was going to get run over and Claire because she was afraid when she won all the people would stare at her (she really needs a little more self-confidence, that girl).

They both loved it, which came as a complete surprise to me because the eldest child is not a fan of sweat or exertion and the middle child has a low threshold for pain/discomfort/face-planting ten yards from the starting line (that could've gone really badly).

They both ran hard and did really well. No need to dwell on the fact that both girls ran the mile in less time than one of their parents typically does, or that the younger sister came from behind to beat the older sister to the finish line.

We all know they'll be plenty of time for that in the next 15-20 years.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

These Girls

These girls. Sometimes, they fight. About what TV show to watch, who gets to sit in the very back of the van, who ate the last package of mini muffins. Sometimes, they get mad at each other and stomp their feet. Sometimes they get frustrated and exclaim "it's not fair!". Sometimes, they yell. Sometimes, they slam doors. They've even been known to hit/bite/pinch each other.

Shocking, I know.

But sometimes. Sometimes, these girls are pure sweetness. Sometimes, they are so in sync with each other that my heart feels like it will burst out of my chest watching them together.

These girls. These girls are sisters.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This is Me, Eating My Words

Two weeks ago, Amelia figured out how to climb out of her crib. And by climb, I mean hoist herself to a crouching position on the crib rail and then launch herself into the middle of her room. You can imagine how awesome that sounded coming over the baby monitor.

Since neither Claire nor Arden ever figured out how to escape the crib, we weren't sure what to do. At first we thought maybe it was time for a big girl bed. Claire was exactly Amelia's age when she moved to one, but that was necessitated by the impending arrival of Arden. Since there are no more Bramlett babies coming, I had fully intended to leave Amelia in her crib until sometime before Kindergarten.

After a few sleepless nights, waking up to find Amelia playing with her babies in the playroom, we knew something had to give.

Go ahead. Judge me. I once equated crib tents with those teddy bear leashes you see on unruly toddlers at the mall. But that was before my two year old learned to do acrobatics out of her bed. And now that I think about it, those leashes don't seem like such a bad idea either...

Monday, April 4, 2011

They Said He Would be 55 Pounds

Last summer, we thought it would be fun to get a dog (yes, if you want to get technical, we already had a dog. She just lives with my parents. On their land out in the middle of the woods where she is free to torment deer and not small children). Having already saved one psycho dog from the animal shelter, we decided to go a different route. After a great deal of research, we decided that a labradoodle was the way to go.

A mix of the fun-loving, family friendly Labrador retriever with the intelligence and non-shedding properties of a poodle? Yes, please.

Jason drove to central Arkansas to pick up the newest member of our family. He brought home the absolute cutest, sweetest, sleepiest puppy you've ever seen.

We were in love.

Since this dog was Jason's only shot at a son, I let him pick the name. He chose Hootie. As in The Blowfish. I silently said a prayer of thanks that God had given us girls. And that Jason had let me pick their names.

Hootie's initial sleepiness turned out to be due to a parasite in his belly. After a few doses of medicine, he proved himself to be a typical puppy. Chewing, nipping, peeing on the rug, tormenting the girls (and their mama). Everything a puppy is supposed to do. Including grow.

And grow.

And grow.

At his last visit to the vet, he weighed in at 78 pounds. His breeder told us he would max out at 55 pounds. That's a 23 pound difference, for you math majors out there. That's a whole 'nother dog.

He turns one at the end of the month. Surely he's gotten as big as he's going to get, right? Right????

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My baby got new glasses. She looks adorable in them, of course, but way to big, in my opinion. She's supposed to look like this, after all.

Depite oozing adorableness in her new specs, she happens to hate them. She doesn't like the way they hook behind her ears. She is not a fan of the nosepiece on them. She prefers her "baby glasses" (yes, I tried to make the new glasses seem more appealing by calling them her "big girl glasses" and the old glasses her "baby glasses". Unfortunately, my baby likes being the baby and is not swayed by efforts to shame her into trying new things in the name of being a "big girl". And yes, now I'm talking about potty training. And giving up the paci.).

For now, we're back in the baby glasses and working our way towards the big girl glasses. Could be a long road ahead for potty training...

Friday, February 11, 2011


Exactly seven years ago, I was laying in my bed in a sweet little house in Dallas, trying in vain to go to sleep because the next morning I would be having a baby. My first baby. The one who would make me a mother. My Claire.

Sleep was impossible, especially once the contractions started sometime in the middle of the night. I didn't bother timing them since I already had an induction scheduled for the next morning. I just laid awake, feeling the baby move, wondering.

We had to be at the hospital early. 6:00 a.m., I think. I didn't realize the enormity of what we were doing, bringing another soul into the world. I didn't realize, walking through the hospital doors that day, that I would leave a different person. That I would be changed, forever.

The early part of the day was filled with laughs, visitors, excitement over a first baby, a first grandchild, another baby to love. A constant stream of people flowed in and out of the room as we waited for things to progress.

Finally, it was time.

My doctor told me most first time moms push for an hour. An hour seemed doable to me. So I pushed, or at least I thought I did. My epidural, that blessed medical miracle, was turned up so high that I couldn't feel anything. Jason and Dr. Hays watched the monitor closely and told me when I was having a contraction and when it was time to push.

An hour quickly turned to two hours. I was becoming exhausted. At one point, the nurse brought a mirror into the room, thinking that would motivate me to push harder. I don't think I have to tell you that it had the exact opposite effect. My doctor brought in a knotted bedsheet and we played tug of war for a while. Still, no baby.

We approached the three hour mark. Things were getting stressful in the room. An internal monitor had been placed on the baby's head and she was being carefully watched. Dr. Hays told me if I didn't get the baby out right then, I would be having a c-section. A nurse even began putting a surgical cap on my head before Dr. Hays shooed her away.

A team of doctors entered the room. Two nurses from the NICU came in with an isolette. A precaution, Dr. Hays told me. Sometimes babies born with the use of forceps have difficulty breathing. It will be fine. Just a precaution. A blue curtain was draped over me. The anesthesiologist told me he was giving me something that would make me feel loopy.

The next moments are just blurry snapshots to me. Vague memories of what I think happened mixed with more accurate accounts from those in the room. My sister-in-law, who had initially agreed to man the video camera once the baby was out, got way more than she bargained for that day. She later told me one of the interns in the room sat behind me and pushed me forward while another doctor pushed down on my uterus. All this while Dr. Hays sat behind the blue curtain using what are essentially enormous salad tongs to pry my baby from my body.

I don't remember these things.

I remember only the newborn cry. The relieved look exchanged between the NICU nurses as they wheeled the isolette out of the room. The team of doctors filing quietly out of the room. My husband rushing over to the scale and declaring that our baby--our Claire Anne--weighed a healthy eight pounds, six ounces.

I remember the nurse placing her in my arms while she was still wiping her clean. I remember crying and telling her I thought she'd never get here. I remember staring into her eyes, wide open and murky, wondering what secrets of the universe she knew.

I remember being so overcome with love. And now, seven years later, it's even more true.

happy birthday, big girl! We love you so much!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

So, it snowed this week.

I wish my sweet old neighbor still lived next door so he could put out his sign again this year. If 4-5 inches of snow prompted him to call out Al Gore and his global warming theory, imagine what he would think of 20 inches.

We spent the day playing the matching game and watching old Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movies on Netflix. We ventured out in the snow for a little while but the girls quickly discovered that 20 inches of snow is taller than their boots and thus creates a situation involving wet pants. My children do not enjoy wet pants, or really any form of discomfort in general.

Friday, January 14, 2011


If your child ever bites into a Cascade Complete dishwasher packet, the following is a list of actions you may want to take:

1. Wipe blue and green gel from child's mouth and tongue.
2. Force child to drink a glass of water.
3. Wipe up all the water that just flooded your kitchen floor because you forgot to put a lid on the cup.
4. Give her more water, this time in a sippy cup.
5. Read the back of package to make sure it is ok to give child water.
6. Assure your other children that their sister's tongue will probably not remain blue and that no you do not need them to call 911. Or daddy. Or Aunt Missy. Or Grandma.
7. Fret for 10 minutes about whether or not to call poison control.
8. Call poison control and get confirmation that the packets are not toxic but may induce vomitting.
9. Awesome.
10. Wonder how much your third child will age you in the next six months.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bye Bye Baby

It's this girl's last day as a one year old and I just don't know if my heart can take it. Also, I think it means I will have to stop referring to her as "the baby," as in, "Can someone go check on the baby?" or "Shhh! The baby is sleeping!"

If I could freeze time right now, I would. The girls are all at such a fun age and I have to say that I am loving Amelia's new found independence and spunkiness. That's the thing with third kids--you've already been through the whole toddler scene twice before and know that is a just a phase. So when find your little one sitting naked on your bathroom floor painting her toenails, it's more funny than infuriating. Or when she starts screaming because she can't keep her six year old sister's shoes on, you know it's just because she's frustrated. When she yells "TOP IT!" to you or her sisters, you have to keep bite your lip to keep from laughing because it's just funny.

Side note: what's not so funny is when your baby--excuse me, toddler--tells you she just pooped and needs a new "biaper". OK, maybe it's a little funny. And possibly a sign that you should invest in a potty seat.

Happy last day of babyhood, Amelia! Could you please try to grow up a little slower?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Arden's Prayer

Dear God,
Thank you for everything in the whole wide world.
I like my family.
I hope you're having fun.
I love Jesus.