March 19, 2013

A Birthday and a ReBirthday

Just over a month ago, our valentine turned one year old. And, as I did with Mac, I looked back and wondered how twelve months had rushed past me in an (insanely emotional hurricane of a) blur.

Unlike my first go-round, however, I didn't cry in the days leading up to her big moment. I felt relief, almost - something telling me I could stop holding my breath and start putting those months behind me.

It will no longer be the "first" Valentine's Day, sunny spring afternoon or otherwise notable happening, but the days ahead will be the first I remember. The first that really count.

A fashion show in her last "baby" days.

This year, my darling girl's second, is a fresh start. She's growing fast, becoming a tiny girl instead of a squishy, happy-to-snuggle bundle of baby. She's a whole new creature. 

Valentine's Day mornings, 2012 and 2013

We're inexpressibly thankful for our little valentine and for the friends and family who came to celebrate her! (We kept it sweet, intimate and extra small because, while mama adjusted beautifully, B was not keen on a big ole party. Denialville, party of one.)

Throwing together a party the weekend after Valentine's Day is easy as pie. Toss up a few pink and red decorations, lay out a table of food and another (even larger!) one of sweets and voila: a lovefest.

This beauty tasted even better than she looked!
We had a few desserts leftover for small group that Sunday...
Our best attempt.
She refused to eat a bite! How is she mine?
The best gift for every occasion!
While her birthday a party, we counted down to her ReBirthday with mixed emotions - and we didn't want to gloss over it.

Twenty days after her birthday, March 5, marked a year since Mary Brooks' surgery. I anticipated a flood of emotions, of difficult flashbacks - but they never came. From dawn to dusk that day I rode a wave of gratitude with every memory, every attempt at recalling those hours, every text message I reread that I never remembered writing in the first place.

It was an out of body experience, replaying the day in third person, feeling only a down-to-my-bones kind of thankfulness. After an excruciatingly long season of heartache, it was miraculous to feel just the upside of things - to see what the girl living that experience last year couldn't yet know.
What a difference a year makes.
It was a joy - an absolute privilege - turning a day marked by devastation into one centered on counting every last little (and big) blessing in our lives. It was an occasion that deserved cupcakes if ever there was one!

Mac and I ventured over to our favorite bakery just before a monsoon kicked off downtown that evening. We had no raincoats or umbrellas (mom fail), so I found a fleece of Bradley's and put it over his head as I whisked him down the sidewalk.

Mac couldn't stand the idea I'd get wet in his place, so he kept tossing the fleece over my face; I nearly ran into a brick wall with a forty pounder on my hip as a result.

We couldn't stop laughing, and the pair of us arrived home soaked to the bone, with four delicious cupcakes safe and dry in their box. I hope I never forget that little excursion with Mary Brooks' big brother; it epitomizes the utter giddiness I felt all day long.

After the birthday cake boycott at her party, I didn't anticipate Mary Brooks' reaction to her ReBirthday cupcake:

Her enthusiasm brought me back to Mac's very first cupcake, and it was just one more way March 5 felt more like an actual birthday than some medical anniversary. I hope we always celebrate it so whole-heartedly! (And with cupcakes, obviously...)

Mary Brooks' surgery gave her a new lease on life; medically it was considered a "near miss" with an uncertain outcome. We praise God with every breath that our story has a happy ending, and that all four of us have healed from the experience.

Thanks for celebrating with us, y'all!

March 4, 2013

Hurricane 2013: Mickey, 13.1 Miles & the Flu

The last two months have (insert cliche about time flying here). In a Rip Van Winkle kinda way, I feel as though I took a quick nap mid-January and woke up browsing for Easter baskets. If only I felt as if I'd gotten that much sleep...

Instead, we've been either in "fast forward" or "full stop" mode all year long. SO much has happened!

The survivor in the top left was my coach!

On January 12th, Bradley and I joined Greenville's Team in Training to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Yes, that's right! We raised a total of $2500 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society;  it was an unspeakably empowering, surprisingly fun and absolutely enjoyable experience - start to finish.

I worried so much about the 2:30am wake-up call that I couldn't sleep past 1:00!

For a couch potato, nap-loving supporter of the Great Indoors, running 13.1 miles at the crack of dawn and living to tell the tale was enough of an accomplishment for all of 2013. I should start writing "run a half marathon" at the top of each day's to do list, just so I can cross one big, fat item off without breaking a sweat.

B and I in our corral, just minutes before he left me in the dust.
After the trauma and craziness of 2012, I needed to channel my energy into something positive, something outside myself. In August I began training with TNT, and despite an injury in December, I was able to cross the finish line upright and proud.

Cue tears.

The support of onlookers and other runners meant so much during those long miles, especially the miles eight through ten, which felt interminable!

And more tears.

Wearing my purple Team in Training jersey got me a lot of attention - coaches, participants, supporters and survivors from across the country called out, cheered, gave high fives and even ran alongside me for a time. It was invigorating and just what I needed to get me to the finish line.

So ready to be done!

I ran the last half-mile of the race listening to Mary Brooks' laugh over and over again. My feet hurt, my ankle was killing me, and I was ready for a plate full o' carbs. Her angelic little giggle, though, saw me through.

She taught me a lot about what it means to fight, and I was proud to feel like I'd made a difference in cancer patients' lives (through our fundraising) as so many people poured into our family last year. 

B and I walked off the effects of our (very early) morning "jog" by spending the next day and a half in WDW's parks. It was a refreshing little break from our everyday lives, and a very welcome one.

I was achy and tired on the way home, but after 13.1 miles, another 15 or so over two days in the parks, and an eight-hour car ride, it was to be expected.

Not 24 hours after we made it home, though, I started feeling much, much worse. The achiness grew into a full body hurt; I felt like I'd been on the losing end of a bar fight with a raging cold, to boot. I woke up the next morning and dragged my unhappy derriere to the doctor, The diagnosis: flu.

Both babies had gotten the flu vaccine, thank goodness, but we sent them to their grandparents' nonetheless. After a weekend in Orlando and the most contagious days of the flu quarantined, I spent three hours in direct contact with my children over the course of eight days; it was wretched.

After a full week of bedrest, I felt human enough to venture out into the world and, a day or so later, to have Mac and Mary Brooks come back home. It was a joy to see their sweet faces, change little diapers, fill hungry mouths, and hear their noises in the house again.

The energy to shower, if not apply mascara, was something to celebrate.
Turns out "they" are quite serious about the importance of getting your flu vaccine, peeps. And the muscle soreness that typically follows a 13.1 mile stroll can mask the early achiness of flu symptoms. Who knew?

With any luck, this will be my first and only run in with the flu - there aren't enough words to describe the un-fun-ness of that experience.

Just as soon as I got rid of my feverish flu symptoms, it was time to plan Mary Brooks' birthday party at last. It was late January, and my "V Day is D Day" motto had finally come to life. No more time for denial...

I promise to catch up more soon, but this online scrapbook doesn't do me much good if I don't use it. Many of you may have caught up with me via Instagram, the Twitter of 2013, but I'm going to prove to myself that blogging is not an outdated mode of communication chez Smith. Promise.

Hope each of you are well and keeping up with the real world a bit better than I am! Go get that flu shot, y'all - it's worth your time, trust me.



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