Tuesday, June 29, 2010

a period of time later

A year ago today was a wonderful day, but seriously...June '10 has trumped June '09.  I've done a lot of reflecting lately on a year ago this month.  It was a long month but not even close to what some people have to travel through.  Honestly, other events with Anniston's health last year were more difficult than the heart surgery itself...and even those things weren't so bad with a dose of perspective.  

I have brought this verse up more than once, but it was and still is more encouragement than I can say...something for us to stand on:  "The Lord will perfect what concerns me.  Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever."  Psalm 138:8a  He will.  I was talking to a sweet friend yesterday who said that she would not have been able to make it through her trials if she didn't have Jesus, and I do not even know if I can convey how wholeheartedly I agree with her.  I cannot imagine what those months would have looked like without Him.

I have heard of so many heartaches and tough times lately, and it breaks my heart.  I hope those people are comforted by the Lord's arms around them, and I hope Anniston's story can maybe be at least some sort of encouragement on top of proof that it may be tough and feel like life will never look up...but before you know it, it will be a period of time later {for us, a year}, and you will be on the other side.  And, as difficult as it may be to imagine, you might even be somewhat {or very} thankful for the journey so far.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

first things first

Here are Anniston's first birthday party pictures!  It was such a sweet time with family and friends from our town.  {Wish we could have invited everyone!}

This is the invitation...with fake personal info, of course.  I wanted to incorporate hearts somehow {probably obvious why but will explain later} and cheesily came up with a tweet-heart theme...so we had a {hopefully subtle} compilation of birds and hearts.  People always said that I looked like tweety bird when I was little, and I have heard a couple of people say that about Anniston as well :).

Our dear kind friend, Lee Cave of C Studio, was so gracious to capture the majority of these pictures from her party, and I cannot thank him or his wonderful wife Christi enough!  I thought he did an AMAZING job, and it was SOOO nice to not have to worry about pulling out our cameras...and having these photos of family and friends on such a celebratory day is super-special!

It was difficult to choose just a few photos, so I tried to group some of them to hopefully reduce picture-overload :).

Anniston was VERY unsure of all of the people at first, but she warmed up after a bit :).

Setting the table...we also had some delicious sandwiches from a local bakery, spinach and artichoke dip, and some yummy fruit skewers that my mom put together {they were a hit!  People seem to eat hardly anything off of a fruit tray, but put a stick in it, and it becomes unique and desirable...go figure!}

Our close family members gave her some sweet gifts, but we asked everyone else to please consider donating to congenital heart defect research {an idea I copied from a friend} since it is the anniversary of Anniston's heart surgery...hence the "heart" part of the theme :).  

The response was wonderful, and if you would like to donate to CHD research, click here, and thank you in advance!!!  The Children's Heart Foundation website states that "in the last decade, death rates for congenital heart defects have declined by almost 30% due to advances made through research."  It's humbling to read the statistics, and we are just ever so grateful to have the life and love of this little girl everyday.  Every bit helps!!!

Speaking of gifts, she received this adorable chair from her Janjan and Pops, and her precious birthday outfit {along with some cool beach gifts} was from her GG and Grandpa.

She LOVED opening her presents {well, us helping her open her presents} so much more than I thought she would!

Case in point:
I cannot tell you how hilarious she was wearing these sunglasses from her beach package.  As soon as they were on her head, she got this confused look on her face and just looked around VERY slowly.  I won't try to describe anymore...just trust me that it was SO funny!

She also LOVED her little friends that came!  {Regret:  I didn't have much of anything for the kids to do...they were perfectly behaved, but I still wish I would have put more thought into an activity...}

But we did have Bag-O for the adults even though it was a bagillion degrees outside!

It's official:  Anniston loves cake!  We had so much fun enjoying this time with family and friends.  This day was a marker.  It marked the anniversary of a year of hardships, joys and all-out belly laughs.  It acknowledged a little girl who is a picture of health and the God who has had His hand upon her from the beginning.  It was a celebration for sure.

I just don't even know how to accurately pull out of my heart the sincere thankfulness that I have for all of you...all of you who have prayed for us faithfully from the start.  Here is your miracle...thank you :).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

hey hey hey!!

I have a TON to catch up on with regard to this little site here!  

We just returned home from a fabulous, relaxing week at the beach with our families that was preceded by a sweet birthday party for our little one year old and a special dedication for her at our church.  I have a lot of pictures and maybe even a video or two to sort through, but I WILL get them up asap!  I will.  I will.  I will.  Repeating to myself...

On another note:  I just finished watching/listening to Crossroads with John Mayer and Keith Urban, and oh. my. goodness.  Genius!  

Hope everybody's having a great week!  Glad to be back in the groove...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

real quick...

Many pictures to chronicle Anniston's first birthday!

Well, it really started the night before.  Birthday's Eve has always been a big deal in my family.  My mom even wrote a poem that she (with my dad by her side) recited to me and my brother on every Birthday's Eve that I can remember until I graduated from high school...maybe even a few years after that :).  (She wrote the poem in the comments of the last post if you are interested...)

These next two pictures are on that special day/night (cute bubble outfit made by Stan's Aunt Pat):


The next morning, on the BIG DAY, I made her breakfast and put a "1" on the pancake with her favorite: puffs.  (Great suggestion from Janjan!)  And, she had scrambled eggs for the first time and LOVED them!!

Here is the birthday girl!!

I really thought I made her WAY to much food, but I think she held her own rather well, coming away from the meal with what I would consider a happy plate :).

**The cute plate was a wedding gift from my mom's sweet friend, Mrs. Penny, and it says "your special day."  I intend to use it every birthday from now on!  Mrs. Penny has actually made me pancakes on my birthday before, and that is why she gave me such a special gift!

Stan knew he was going to have to work late on her birthday :(, so he spent some extra quality time with us the morning of...it was wonderful!  They even did a little work together :).  

And played the piano.

This chair was given to me by my parents on my first birthday, and GG and Grandpa brought it to us last month so that we could pass it down to Anniston on hers!  Isn't my dad a hunk??!

Here she is in the chair!

Later that day, we played on her birthday gift from Janjan and Pops!  It looks so cute in her room!  I'm so glad I can look back and remember the days when she would stay put when I placed her somewhere.  Makes me realize how mobile she really is getting when I see her like this :).

THEN, we had a bite of a strawberry cupcake...also one of my birthday traditions passed down.  I think every birthday up until this year [I asked for cookie cake this time:)], my mom has made me a strawberry cake!  Anniston LOVED this too!!

This was the best I could do getting a picture of the both of us on my own.  It was a wonderful day!

OH, and Anniston cut her FIRST tooth on her FIRST birthday!!!  So, she was little cranky but did great considering.  How random to cut your first tooth on your first birthday??

AND, we got her immunology report back yesterday!  Everything looks GREAT!!  Her IGG was still slightly below normal...it was 137 in September and 223 now with 232 being normal...I'm thinking that is a MARKED IMPROVEMENT!!!  Also, her T-cells were normal!!!  SUCH an answered prayer!  Her immunologist also said that her B-cells were elevated, which is good because she said that usually when she sees a higher number of B-cells with a lower IGG in infants, the IGG typically improves and this deficit is usually grown out of after early infancy and childhood.  SO thankful!  She continued to stress that she would not put Anniston in the church nursery yet, but that is really not the end of the world by any means.  I am just thankful that she is healthy!

Okay, something else:  please pray for this baby!!  And, this is another site with updates on baby Cohen as well.

So, maybe this wasn't a very quick post...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

happy happy birthday!!!

Oh sweet girl, for your mama to not be much of a crier, I definitely have a lump growing in my throat just thinking about you and how much you have blessed me and your daddy this year.  It has been an eventful march around the calendar, but we would not take any of it away because we have received the best gift:  you...and the gift of not taking one moment with you for granted.  I cherish every second spent with you and thank God for many more.  

His strength at work in you has been so evident these months...just look at how far you have come in exactly one year!...

Jesus has healed you, Anniston, and your daddy and I do not want you to ever forget what He has done for you.  You are our miracle baby, that is for sure!

You just have the sweetest little heart.  You always want to touch everyone with your soft, tickly fingers, and you look into our eyes with such love...you smile with your eyes, but it goes much deeper than that.  It's as though you want to somehow convey that you are giving us all of your love...all of your heart.  I wake up every morning excited to see your happy face and to get a wonderful, messy kiss on my cheek.  

Your daddy and I thank God every day for you and for the JOY that you have brought into our home!  We love you OH SO MUCH and wish you the HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY!!!!

The verse still rings true:  "The Lord WILL perfect what concerns us.  Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever!"  Psalm 138:8

Will share more details of our fun day asap :).