Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One-Eyed Boy

This is the hardest post I have ever had to write.  I have attempted it several times only to break down in tears before I type even the first word.  I have prayed for strength, wisdom, and courage not only to raise my son as God wants but also to share Noah's story, in hopes of helping others, along the way. 

Last Sunday, I was in the bathroom getting ready for church and Noah was hanging out with me.  It is such a special time to chat about all sorts of things, nothing of great importance, usually Super Heroes, what we're going to do during the day, family and friends, etc.  Well today, as we were talking about going to church and Noah going to Kids Connection {what our church calls the kids Sunday school}and my little man broke down in tears.  Big, splashy tears just streamed down his face as he told me he didn't like having one eye.  He wanted to have two eyes, just like his sister Ava. 

Oh. My. Goodness.  My heart just broke for my Bubs.  I scooped him in my arms and repeated the words we have told him since he was little.  I explained, as tears streamed down his face, that God created him and that he was very special.  That he was perfect just the way he was.  That Mama and Daddy and Ava loved him.

"But I don't like it when kids look at my missing eye," Noah explained to me.

Every single time we go out, Noah deals with strangers staring at him.  Kids stare at him while walking past him at the grocery store.  They occasionally stop right in front of him and stare with a horrified look on their face.

 "Mommy, Mommy," they yell, "that boy doesn't have an eye".

 "Of course he does," some parents explain, "it must be hidden by a patch". {Oh how I wish that were true}.  Other parents quickly grab their child by the arm and mutter under their voice that "it is not nice to say things like that" all the while looking at me with pity in their eyes.  The worst ones stare at Noah along side their child with that same look of horror and revulsion.  Where ever we go, all Noah sees are people looking at him in disgust. 

We have taught him that whenever kids ask about his eye, and they do...all the time...usually with a pointing finger and scrunched up face, that he is to respond, "That's the way I was born".  Some kids accept Noah's explanation, say "Oh", and move on.  Others, however, demand more.  They want to know if he can see, why he was born like that, does it hurt, why is it {his face} bumpy, will he grow an eye later, etc. We have spent lots of time answering kids questions, having them cover up one eye with their hand and showing them what Noah sees {and that he can see}, trying to help them understand that Noah is just a normal kid {who LOVES Super Heroes and Legos and Star Wars}.  I know that kids are curious and I am not faulting them for wanting to know more about Noah.  The ones, however, who after all the explanation reply, "That's weird", are the ones that break my heart.  There are times that I want to grab the child by the shoulders and  scream at the top of my lungs, "MY CHILD IS PERFECT", and other times I want to hide under a rock until the pain goes away. 

Back to this past Sunday, I asked Noah if something happened last Sunday at church...if kids were being mean to him.  Noah couldn't tell me but he kept repeating that he didn't want the kids to stare at him.

My fierce Mama heart kicked into action and we brainstormed what we could do to keep kids from staring at him.  Noah suggested an eye patch and while I didn't think an eye patch plus a BAHA plus glasses would be possible, we came up with the idea of masking the lens in his glasses.

I present to you my Little Man with his new and improved glasses.
Once we put the duct tape on this lens, Noah ran into the bathroom to look in the mirror.  He came back with a huge smile on his face and declared that he loved his new glasses.  While I was so relieved that Noah was happy, my heart broke that we had to cover up his eye, like we were hiding in shame. 

I know that this is only the first of many heartbreaking experiences that Noah will have.  I pray that Noah learns to believe about himself what God knows about him...that he is perfectly made, just the way he is.  I pray that I continue to have words of peace and encouragement for my Little Man.  I pray that as he enters kindergarten this fall, he is surrounded by caring students who are able to look past his physical differences and see him as the funny, kind, smart, silly, sweet friend that he truly is.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ava's Birth Announcement

I finally got around to sending out Ava's birth announcements. I ordered them shortly after she was born, sent a few out that first week, but the majority sat in a pile on my desk. Well, I have finally sent out the last one, and what a relief that is. 
I wish I could have sent out one to each and everyone of you, but alas, that was not possible. 
I love how they turned out and that they are finally sent!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Drawing Super Heros

Noah has some pretty severe fine motor issues that make drawing and writing quite challenging for him.  He can type a sentence or two on the iPad but struggles to write it on paper.  Lately, however, Bubs has been interested in drawing Super Heroes.  He and Daddy find a picture on the computer that Noah can copy and then go at it.

Today, Noah wanted to draw Ant Man.  He was so very proud of himself.
This is Ant Man.  I love him.
(Noah typed this all by himself...capitals, periods, spelling, and all.) 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pregnancy - week by week

The day after this picture was taken, I found out we were pregnant.  I had suffered four previous miscarriages and the thought of getting pregnant again seemed impossible.  Kc and I were celebrating the end of summer (well, maybe not celebrating, more like mourning) and the beginning of school with sushi and martinis.  Imagine my utter excitement when the pregnancy test said "positive" and my utter horror realizing what I ate the previous night.  Ha!
I was monitored very closely my first twelve weeks.  I had weekly blood tests to see how my hormone levels were growing...a good sign of a growing baby.  Our first ultrasound at 12 weeks was a huge sigh of relief.  We had no idea if this baby was healthy but we knew it was surviving and that was a big deal.
At fourteen weeks our baby still looked good and showed no signs of Downs Syndrome (a huge concern because of my Advanced Maternal Age).  We still didn't know if our sweet child had Frasers Syndrome but we were so excited this pregnancy was advancing.
At fifteen weeks I could barely see my toes.  This was my seventh pregnancy and my body was quite used to growing.
At sixteen weeks we found out we were having a sweet baby girl!
We celebrated Noah's fifth birthday at Disneyland.  At this point I was twenty-five weeks pregnant.  One of my friends who is a nurse commented that we were also celebrating Ava reaching "viability".  These were Baby Girl's first Mickey Ears.
At twenty-nine weeks I already felt so very big.
I keep growing...
and growing...
and growing.
This was my last week of work.  I felt as though Ava was going to pop out of my non-existent belly button.
 This was taken the morning Ava was born. 
I went out for a walk in the morning and met friends for lunch.  My contractions were becoming more and more frequent during lunch.  On the way home, I called Kc and told him that my contractions were five minutes apart and "it was time".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Family Vacation to Chicago and Madison

Can you believe that my beautiful grandmother turned 99 this year?  She is an amazingly kind woman who can make the most amazing pie ever.  We decided to have a big birthday party to celebrate her 99th birthday and invited all her family and relatives. 

Kc, Noah, Ava, and I flew into Chicago a week before the big bash and enjoyed our first vacation as a family of four.  Noah was so excited to go on an airplane again.  Ava did quite well and slept most of the time in my arms.
We landed at the airport in Chicago and Noah got to ride in his first taxi.  He was quite excited but promptly fell asleep.  Traveling is hard work.
Our first day in Chicago started with a stroll down Michigan Avenue with a stop at the Lego Store.  Noah has fallen in love with Legos and goes back and forth between Star Wars and Super Heroes.  This larger than life Iron Man was quite a hit with my Bubs.
Chicago is truly a beautiful city!
We spent quite a bit of time at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Noah loved the sculptures and statues but I enjoyed the Impressionist Wing the most.  Ava, of course, slept through most of the museum.
We had dinner at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill.  It was quite delicious.  On the way back to our hotel, we walked past a large Chicago Fire House that was open.  One of the fire chiefs was encouraging visitors to check out the fire trucks.  What a special treat!
Our second day in Chicago started at the Adler Planetarium. Daddy and Noah had a blast looking at all the planets, asteroids, space capsules, and rovers.
While the boys watched a movie in the domed theater, Ava and I spent some quality time together. 
Noah thought it would be fun to be an astronaut.
Next we headed over to the amazing Field Museum and saw the famous Sue.  Noah loved the huge dinosaur skeleton as well as all the large animals.  We had another delicious dinner at the Grand Lux CafĂ© and Noah enjoyed playing with Wikki-Stix,
This is the amazing view from our hotel.  Day...
and night!
A few days after we arrived in Chicago, Nana, Papa, Auntie Nessa, Uncle Drew, and Cuz Jonah joined us.  Of course, Auntie Nessa had a few treats for both kiddos.  Doesn't Ava look stylish in her new shades.
Noah and Jonah were two peas in a pod.  They were always holding hands, hugging each other, running around, laughing, talking, and generally being silly together.
They even enjoyed baths together.
Our first stop together was the Museum of Science and Industry.  Jonah LOVED the huge trains and amazing model trains.
Noah LOVED the baby chicks. 

I mean...come on...how cute are these chicks?!?

Noah just HAD to take Jonah to the Lego Store...it is a necessity for all five year old boys.
We enjoyed dinner at the Signature Lounge at the top of the John Hancock Building.  The views were spectacular!!!!

The following day, we headed over to the Navy Pier.  Our first stop was the Children's Museum.  Once again, Noah loved the gigantic dinosaur skeleton.
There were so many fun things the kiddos could do.  Chicago dog anyone?
Kc, Noah, and Uncle Drew putting out fires.
After lunch on the pier, we went on an architectural boat tour.  We had a great tour guide and were able to see Chicago from a different view.  These two cousins just have so much fun together.
Our (very long) taxi ride back to the hotel. 
The following day, we went to see the Buckingham Fountain.
What a fun family photo!
Once again, these boys are just too cute!
We also visited The Bean.
Noah and Jonah loved looking at their distorted reflection.
Make some silly faces!

They were making "sidewalk angels".
Another cute family photo!
I love the river running through the center of Chicago. 
We had breakfast every morning at the hotel.  Nana always had a book or two in her purse for the boys.  Such a smart Nana!
Most evenings, the boys would play together, build Legos, or play on the iPad.
They introduced each other to some of their favorite shows.  Noah loves Super Squad and Jonah loves Mighty Machines.
After over a week in Chicago, we drove to Madison, Wisconsin to visit with family and celebrate Great Grandma's birthday.  We made a stop at Cracker Barrel along the way.
Noah was excited to see Great Grandma again.
Great Grandma met Ava for the first time. 
Four generations of Bartlett women!
There were tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins in town to celebrate.  We had dinner together every night.  Most of the grandchildren could be found crowded around iPads.
We visited the Madison Zoo on morning
and had a fantastic boat ride on Lake Mendoda thanks to Uncle Bob's generous friends.  Ava looked like a little burrito in her life vest. At first, she hated it, but then settled down and slept the entire boat ride.
Noah and Daddy on the boat.
Jonah got to help Uncle Bob steer the boat.
Sleeping away!
Thanks to an idea I saw on Pinterest, we created a Bartlett Family Tree with everyone's thumbprints.
Kc painted the tree, everyone added their own leaf, and Aunt Mary-Sue wrote everyone's names by their leaf.  I think it turned out pretty great!
The morning of Grandma's Birthday party, we took advantage of tons of extended family being together and took extensive family photos.  Kc and Uncle Drew took all the pictures and Auntie Nessa was the coordinator.  Here is Cuz Hunter holding Ava. 
Nana, Papa, and all their grandchildren.
All the family members with Great Grandma.
I spent so many summers playing at Grandma & Grandpa's house with these two cousins. 

After almost two weeks away, we had to say good-bye and head back home.  These two peas can't wait to see each other again in December.
The flights home were uneventful, which was quite nice, and both kiddos slept. 
What an amazing vacation!!!!!

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