Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Wrap Up

I cannot believe this month is nearly over and we haven't said a word about all we've been doing! I'm not really sure if I can get it all in one post, but we will see!
First of all, Steve is doing really well. He has been healing fantastically from his surgery and is almost ready to go back to work. Annabelle and I are not ready for it. It's been so nice for him to be here with us the last several weeks as he's been recovering, and I know his baby girl is going to miss him terribly. She's been a Daddy's girl since the day she was born, but that has reached a whole new level while he has been off work!

We started off this month with Annabelle's 3 month/Christmas pictures. Most everyone knows I have a fairly healthy love (obsession) with Christmas, so I wanted her pictures to reflect our favorite time of year. I thought she was just absolutely precious, as always, but that was mostly thanks again to Brandi Pitts for her amazing talent in photography.

In her little airplane bed
The first weekend in December, we tackled our first trip with Annabelle. I think we were pretty brave to make the very first one a transatlantic, 14 hour ordeal, but that sweet little girl handled it beautifully! She didn't make a peep on her very first flight, was an angel during the layover in Philly and then snuggled into her bassinet shortly after takeoff for a nice night's sleep. She had no problem with jet lag, totally loved meeting all of her family in England and was a total sweetheart again the whole way home. It was so nice to have such a long time in England this visit. We usually only have a week to spend, but we were able to stay a few extra days on top of what we had planned before his surgery since Steve couldn't work anyway. I think it was wonderful for him to spend some time recuperating with his family and of course showing Annabelle off to everyone!

Dressed for the Chelsea match

Annabelle's first pub!
With Nanna

TV with Aunt Ali & Uncle Rob
Cuddling with cousin Jazzi

We returned home just a little more than a week before Christmas. That time completely flew by, with last minute shopping, wrapping and preparation for Annabelle's very first Christmas, which was even more wonderful than I had hoped. Rather than go over all the details of this Christmas (which I love, but I'm sure do not matter to anyone else), I'll just post photos to tell the story of our first Christmas with sweet Annabelle.

Annabelle with big sis Kimmie & bro in law Clay

Presents @ Granny & Pawpaw's

With Granny, Pawpaw, Nana, Grandpop, Dustin, Uncle Stephen, Aunt Tracy & Darby

Just before bed Christmas Eve

Christmas Morning

I suppose an update about Annabelle alone would probably be good, too. She is now almost 15 weeks old and still totally perfect! She sleeps through the night nearly every night. She smiles and chatters and coos constantly. She hasn't rolled over yet, but she is very close and she has 2 tiny little white spots that I know will become her first little teeth in the not too distant future. She truly makes life above and beyond anything I ever imagined. I know everyone thinks their baby is the best and the brightest and sweetest and the cutest, but Annabelle really is!!

As 2010 is drawing to a close, I look back at just how much has happened in these last 12 months. This time last year, I was pregnant, we just didn't know it yet. Steve had cancer, but we didn't know that yet, either. Kimmie and Clay have gotten married. My Pawpaw had a stroke. I spent 40 weeks with a precious baby kicking and wiggling and growing inside. We went on some wonderful vacations. We spent quality time with family. Steve had a huge surgery to remove a kidney. And, of course, Annabelle made her grand entrance into the world. I wouldn't have believed anyone if they tried to tell me all of this would happen in only 12 months, but here we are. This was far and away a year full of ups and downs, but we are so blessed to be able to say it's coming to a close on an "up". I wish everyone peace and happiness as this year ends and a new one begins.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


PawPaw, his granddaughters and his great granddaughter
The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is my absolute favorite time of year. I love cooking the big meals and decorating the house and just having everyone together and happy. I love the smells and the sounds and the sights. I just love every little thing about it all! And so far, this has been the best ever! It had definitely been a rough month or so for our family, but on Thursday, there were so many reasons for us to give thanks. Steve has been feeling better and better every day. Pawpaw is speaking more and more every day. And of course, Annabelle is getting cuter and cuter every day. I truly feel that for all of this, I am more thankful than even I thought I could be. Every night when I put Annabelle to bed and we say her prayers and kiss her goodnight, I thank God for all that he has blessed us with this year and every night I'm a bit more grateful.

Our First Thanksgiving with Ananbelle

Thanksgiving dinner at home

Annabelle with her Daddy and sister

10 weeks old!

Today I began my somewhat over the top annual marathon Christmas decorating. Yes, we usually have 4 Christmas trees. I know, that's crazy. But I LOVE CHRISTMAS! There's something about the glow of the Christmas lights that just makes everything feel so warm and cozy. This year, as we've added a new little person to our house, we've also added a new tree! Annabelle has the sweetest little pink tree I've ever seen. I love how tiny and sweet she is now, but I must admit I do look forward to sharing my love of the season with her when she's big enough to understand what's going. For this year though, she is quite sweet just staring at the lights!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Emotional Disorganization

Ok, so I completely stole the term "emotional disorganization" from a friend, but there couldn't possibly anything more applicable to us right now, so I'm using it. Thank you Sabrina.

Annabelle is now just over 8 weeks old. The first 5 weeks of her precious little life were pure bliss, plain and simple. I finally felt totally complete; there wasn't anything else on the face of the earth I could possibly want or need. We had it all. Little did we know that "all" was about to include cancer and our blissful, happy life was about to be turned upside down. It's now been exactly 3 weeks since we found out about Steve's kidney cancer. It also happened to be the exact same day that Annabelle smiled for the first time, at her Daddy, as I mentioned before. It seemed very unfair to have two such momentous occasions fall on the same day, and it still does. That same afternoon, Steve's surgeon left for South Africa, which is why we had to wait just over 2 weeks for the radical nephrectomy to get rid of what turned out to be a pineapple sized tumor. That 2 weeks was both the best and worst 2 weeks I have ever had. It was absolutely miserable to constantly worry that something might happen during surgery that would take away my incredible husband, Annabelle's wonderful Daddy. And to wonder if the surgeons would be able to remove that disgusting parasite and rid his body of the cancer. On the other hand, Annabelle started smiling more and more every day and making eye contact with us and just being the sweet, perfect little newborn that she is. Cue the emotional disorganization! Then, as if things couldn't possibly get any more upsetting or stressful, last Monday, my PawPaw had a stroke. (Yes, I realize I'm all grown up, but I'm still a huge PawPaw's girl, and proud of it). It really only affected the area of the brain responsible for speech, so he completely lost the ability to say anything at all. Anyone who knows him realizes that his favorite passtime is his mouth, whether it's singing, talking or laughing, that's what PawPaw loves. So, yet again, emotional disorganization in being so thankful that it wasn't worse than that, but so sad that it happened at all. Since that day, however, he has come a long way and his speech is returning and getting better every day. I would just like to take a moment to gloat that the first actual name he was able to say was "Heather". But anyway...

When we learned Steve would need surgery, there was an outpouring of love and support unlike anything we had ever known. It was incredible how many people offered any help we may need. I must admit that at the time, I was very grateful, but thought that we wouldn't really need anyone's help. I was wrong. (never expect that from me again) I'm so grateful to everyone who offered to take care of Annabelle for us. I'm so thankful for my life long friend Jana who came to our house at 4:30 AM on Thursday and stayed all day long with her and to Steve's (and now my) dear friend Laurie who stayed with her Monday so I could spend some time with my husband. And of course I don't know what we would've done without my mom and dad who filled in all the other spaces with her they could this weekend. So, now about the surgery. I already mentioned that the tumor was about the size of a pineapple, even bigger than we expected. The pathology report shows that it was a Grade 3 (not the same as Stage 3), but thankfully Steve had a fantastic surgical team on his side resulting in the complete removal of the cancer from his body. Ironically, the same surgeon who reversed his vasectomy, ultimately giving us Annabelle, performed the nephrectomy. This man has become one of my favorite people on the face of the Earth, for two very big reasons!

Mom, Dad, Kimmie & Clay were all at the hospital with me throughout the surgery, something else for which I'm very thankful. They were there when the doctor told us he had gotten rid of the cancer and that Steve was going to be just fine. And I know that they'll be there with us both during what is going to be a very long and difficult recovery. In case I don't mention it enough, I love our family. It's weird. It's unconventional. And it's wonderful.

All of this brings us to yesterday. I was never so happy to pull into Centennial Medical Center in my life as I was then. (Annabelle was born at the Women's Hospital, so technically, different!) After 5 looong nights in the hospital, Steve came home. I was obviously thrilled, but not quite as much as Annabelle, who spent just about all day laying on her Daddy's chest which is just her favorite place in the world. Actually, it's mine too.
8 Weeks

Sunday, November 7, 2010

7 Weeks and Growing...

Happy Girl
It's so hard to believe that our sweet Annabelle is already 7 weeks old! So much has been happening lately that we just can't keep up. We've now celebrated her first holiday, but more exciting, her first real smile! She obviously loves her Mommy, but nothing like her Daddy, who won the prize of our little girl's very first glowing, exited smile at 5 weeks and 3 days old! And then four more that same day. And then more the next day and the day after. It took about 3 more days for her to smile for me, but that's ok, I love seeing her smile at her Daddy just as much!! She's a very happy baby, and unlike me, definitely a morning person! She wakes up in the best mood and then spends half the morning stretching and kicking her legs, smiling and cooing.
It's so much fun to have this little ray of sunshine in our lives!
In her Woombie at 6 weeks

Our little English pea

Beautiful Girl
My 3 Loves
Our first family stop at a pumpkin patch

They really do see "eye to eye"!

So this is all the happiness of the last few weeks.,  Unfortunately, we've had some surprisingly rough times, too. We'd like to ask for happy thoughts and prayers for all of us this week, Steve especially, as he has been diagnosed with kidney cancer and will have surgery on Thursday. Next weekend I'll have a happy update that he will be cancer free and we will all be back to our normal, fabulous life!