why 2 year olds are the best.

I picked Jack up from school and was talking to him about his day on the way home.  I asked him what he did at preschool, and he said “the little mouse went night night”.  Conversations like that make 2 year olds some of the best people to talk to. 


I tripped and Jack laughed really hard and followed it up with “mommy so funny”.  He boosts my confidence in life. 


The way I hear him talking after he wakes up in the morning or from his nap on the monitor makes my heart smile.  It’s a reminder of how smart he is, and sometimes he’ll throw something in there like “I owe ew mommy”, his I love you, when he doesn’t even know I can hear him. 


His ability to climb, crawl, jump, fly, slide, and glide on, through, over, under, around anything is incredibly impressive.  The flexibility and athleticism of 2 year olds is something impressive. 


And the emotional status of a 2 year old is only rivaled by that of a young teenage girl.  One minute they’re happy and everything’s great, and the next there are a lot of tears, you can’t understand them, and you’re pretty sure life will never be the same again.  But usually, with just the right combination of pampering and giving them what they want, within five minutes  it’s better. 


There’s nothing like spending some refreshing time with a two year old.  Jack’s 2 year old view on life reminds me not to take myself too seriously. 


jack2 jack

we thought we were going to italy.

We found out something was wrong with our baby on January 7th.  I went to work that morning.  I was pretty nauseous on my drive in and threw up in the parking lot as soon as I put the car in park.  I worked about 6 hours and then rushed home to meet Tommy so we could go find out if we were having a boy or a girl!  My brother came over to watch Jack while we went.



We didn’t even have any second thoughts.  Had never had any worries or concerns that something might be wrong.  That is until moments before the ultrasound.  The sonographer took us back and sent me to the bathroom.  As soon as I left my urine sample, I had the thought “to God be the glory”.  It honestly came out of nowhere and I found it surprising.  But then I said a quick little prayer for our little baby and went into the dark room to see him or her.  And well, you know the heartbreak, the diagnosis, the outcome.






That afternoon my sister came by.  She was excited to find out what we were having.  We told her what we knew, and she found a poem for us.  She wanted to encourage us that having a child with a disability wasn’t bad.  We agreed with that.  In fact, things looked so bad at our appointment that we were pleading with God to have a baby with downs syndrome with multiple defects that could be repaired.  We knew that was our best case scenario, and we were welcoming it.  Unfortunately, we got our worst case scenario.






I want to share this essay.  Maybe it will help someone else.  And while we didn’t end up with a living child with disabilities, but rather a baby with a lethal chromosomal syndrome who survived a couple of hours, it still kind of applies to us.  We expected to have a normal pregnancy and baby just like all our friends.  We expected to bring home a newborn.  We expected to raise boys 2 years apart.  We planned and prepared and dreamed those things.  We always thought we were going to Italy.  And instead… we went to our own version of Holland.  To a place where terms like perinatal loss are a part of normal vocabulary, where visiting the cemetery is a frequent activity of our 2 year old, where things like college funds get traded out for tomb stones.  It hurts real bad, and it’s a huge disappointment, but I wouldn’t trade it for Italy if it meant never having had Gabriel.  We adore our baby.  And while our path in life is hard I know it is full of butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, dogwoods and Japanese snowbells that will bloom every year on Gabriel’s birthday.  It’s full of people we would have never known – those who lost before us and those who lost after us.  It’s full of grace and hope and faith and love, and those things are much easier to see in Holland than in Italy.  I’ve despised the thought of entering what Holland represents to us since January, but eight months later I find myself starting to notice the beauty of Holland.  I’m not saying it’s beautiful – not yet – and most days I’d still rather be in Italy with Tommy, Jack, and our Gabriel.  But we are here to stay and we know that, and we must choose to appreciate the beauty of the land we now live in.







Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved


I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.



Last week Jack got another big boy haircut.  I can’t stand to cut his hair too often, so I wait until it gets really long and then have them cut a bunch off.  I was hoping if I let it grow out some this summer it would curl up again.  And it didn’t – at least not much.  I miss those baby curls!  But he does look like an adorable little boy with his new haircut. 




He did great!  A friend suggested we go to this barber shop, and I’m so glad we did!  We have been there twice now.  They have a special race car seat for the little kids, and Jack loves having his own special seat.  They have toys, candy, suckers, animal crackers, and turned the TV to cartoons for him.  He loves it there.  And as long as he gets his purple, or “poo poo” sucker, as he calls it, he’s a happy camper. 




My handsome boy. 

happy weekend.

It’s been a long week.  Has it felt that way to anyone else?  Tommy has been working a lot this week, so we haven’t seen him much.  He’s been tired and stretched.  Jack has been his adorable self in true two year old form every other day this week.  I’m sure it has something to do with schedule shifts, but Monday, Wednesday, and today were full of two year old moments.  Jack currently loves telling me no.  We were riding in the car the other day, and he said “Jack go Chickfila with [and then listed his friends]” so I responded by saying “You want to go to Chickfila with your friends?”.  To which he answered with a strong NO!!  Ok, buddy, ok. 


So with those things, and trying to figure out a new rhythm, and physical therapy which doesn’t take into account my need to be lazy, it’s been a long, tiring week.  Not a bad week.  Just long.  So we’re looking forward to this weekend!  I hope you have a fun, restful weekend. 



Making faces 


I was told I was stoic today.  Multiple times.  I’m not sure if it was intended to be given as a compliment, an observation, or an insult, but here I am to tell you all the reasons why I am not and have not been stoic. 


The definition of stoic: 

“people should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity.” 



I have to say that I am hardly free from passion.  And I pray that I am never unmoved by joy or grief.  Joy is beautiful and I always want to deeply feel like.  Grief is hard, and sometimes I want to run away from it.  But life is hard, and I am deeply moved by grief.  My life has been changed by my baby Gaby, and the way I live has been changed by grief.  And we have hardly moved through this thing without complaint.  I frequently think about how it’s not fair.  I never would have chosen this.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve been doubtful.  I’ve tried to do everything I could to change the outcome.  But none of that matters.  Because there’s nothing I could do, and I think deep down in my heart I’ve known that all along.  In January our lives shifted forever, and we were knocked off our feet by learning something we’d never thought of or heard of was wrong with our baby.  In the past eight months, I would hardly describe myself as stoic.  And really, I don’t want to be.  Even when it hurts, even when it’s the hardest and the worst, I want to feel.  I want to be moved by the joys and the sorrows of this life. 


Pictures 861



I can understand where this person came from in thinking I was stoic.  I had brief encounter with her where I shared about losing my baby.  And often these days when I share with someone I share the facts and give a brief story.  Depending on the person and whether or not they ask questions I tell them more.  But if someone asks me about my children or hears that I had a baby a few months ago and asks how tired I am, I tell them about Gabriel.  I share his story.  But we’re three months out now, and the crazy thing is that time moves on.  And I’ve had to tell a lot of people that I’ve lost a child.  For the most part, I can do that now without crying and breaking down.  The thing is that it is our life, and I live it every day.  I’m certainly not unaffected by it, and I think anyone who’s read my blog knows that.  I’m very passionate about my children, very passionate about life, very passionate about grief, very passionate about it all.  But perhaps I don’t convey that in a brief conversation. 



Gabriel's pictures 350



We’ve had to learn a lot about how to talk to people.  We had to figure out how to tell people we were expecting a baby who was going to die.  We had to figure out who to tell, when to tell them, and how to handle it.  And it’s similar now.  Everything with Gabriel, everything this year, has been a great learning experience.  I thought I had it down lately to where I shared it well, but maybe I don’t.  Most of the time it just makes people uncomfortable to hear, and sometimes God blesses us with a moment with a truly sincere, genuinely broken for us person and that brings encouragement to our hearts.  But I never want to come across to a stranger as someone who isn’t moved by the loss of my child.  Only God knows how many times and how many people have seen me break down crying. 



Pictures 909




So as I think back on this moment today, this experience, it is a reminder to me of just how I tell my son’s story.  It’s not just about sharing his story, but it’s also about sharing the hope we have that keeps us going.  The reason I can sit and tell someone that I lost my son three months ago.  The reason that I know I will see him again one day.  The reason that I trust God will redeem this.  The reason I can teach my two year old why he doesn’t get to have his baby brother.  The reason it’s late August, and we’re still here after the worst year of our lives.  It’s all because our hope is in God.  And that is everything. 

saturday fun.

We had a busy weekend that was full of fun and a few firsts for Jack. One of my favorite new areas in town is a new town center just a few miles down the road from our house.  Saturday morning they held a town center block party, and we had so much fun there with friends.  There was a small carousel, which Jack loved.  Bounce houses, which Jack loved.  And a helicopter that was really cool to see in person.  Jack loved most everything about it! 






Then we went home for his nap and went back out for more fun with friends.  We went to eat some really unhealthy food and then headed downtown for the UT open practice.  It was a lot of fun and Jack’s first time going to a football game [we’ve been calling it that because he was so excited about it].  It was his first time at Neyland Stadium, too.  He was very curious about the music, all the people, and all the noise they made.  He loved when people cheered, when they played music, and most of all he loved Smokey, the mascot.  Once he found Smokey, he calmed down and enjoyed the practice. 



Big boys eating dinner.  No high chairs needed here. 




His first walk to Neyland. 








2 year old boys playing around. 







The boys watching football. 









Sweet little boys. 



It was such a fun day.  And then Jack woke up Sunday morning covered in throw up.  Poor little guy.  So we spent Sunday recovering at home after an active Saturday.  It was a good weekend. 

jack at 2.

I said back here that I was going to share some fun things about Jack.  I like having a record of what he’s doing here on the blog so that I can look back on it.  It’s also a great way to get to share about what he’s up to with the people who love him.  Especially those who haven’t seen him in a long time — I’m looking at you, Maryland friends.  So here’s a big ol’ Jack update. 












He started talking a lot around the time he turned 2.  A LOT.  He hardly said any words at all up until he turned two.  I was worried that he may not talk, and every check up until his two year one, he wasn’t saying as many words as our pediatrician would ask if he was saying.  But by his two year check up, which was a few weeks after he turned 2, he was saying hundreds of words.  It changed just like that.  So with those words, and now sentences, even long sentences, he’s saying some pretty funny and pretty adorable things.






Jack’s words:

–  bess you when we sneeze

–  dundo for thunder

–  pup igh for up high

–  mickey = music

–  binds for blinds

–  sim-tooey for cemetery

–  peas for please

–  moostache for mustache

–  po milk for chocolate milk



My very favorites:

–  bess you mama

–  ok mommy

–  hold you, rock you, read you.






Everything he wants someone to do for him or with him now he asks  the same way we would ask him.  When he wants us to read to him he will come up with a book and say “Mommy read this book to you” or “Daddy way with you for 5 minutes” or “Mommy rock you” 





Jack’s first sentence was “Daddy you are funny”.  There are some things he does that are just like we used to do as kids, so we’ve been told.  Jack walks and runs around on his tippy toes, which is something I did when I was his age.  He loves to watch the same song or scene in a show or movie over and over and over and over again.  I have always been that way.  Still to this day.  He takes everything apart and wants to see how it goes back together and how it works.  So much like Tommy.  It’s fun to watch him grow and become even more his own person.  Two has come with it challenges, but it’s also really fun. 


A little Friday fun around here.  Practicing our different smiles for the camera. 


smiles6 smiles smiles2 smiles3 smiles4 smiles5




The new necklace I’m wearing was a gift from my sweet friend.  She left it on Gabriel’s grave for me to celebrate and remember 3 months since he’d been born. 


Thanks for the precious gift, Amy! 




Happy weekend friends!