Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Heavenly Birthday Celebration

Yesterday would have been Karlena's 36th birthday.  This year she had a heavenly celebration I am sure.

Oh how I miss her. :(

I am grateful that she is no longer in pain, but selfishly I wish she was here and I could see her, talk to her, ask her for prayer...

I was listening to a Women of Faith CD on the way home from work and heard this song called  "Worthy is the Lamb".

As I listened to the lyrics I could picture Karlena, arms raised, singing....

Worthy is the Lamb!! Worthy is the Lamb!!

We celebrated Jesus' resurrection on Sunday and it is a reminder again that He has overcome the grave....He has paved a way for us and one day I too will join her, and only because of God's grace.

Worthy is the Lamb

Thank You for the cross Lord
Thank You for the price You paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love You came
And gave amazing grace

Thank You for this love Lord
Thank You for the nail pierced hands
Wash me in your cleansing flow
Now all I know is
Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You rein victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
The darling of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Missing you friend.....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

We woke up to some beautiful weather this morning. The sun is shining and it is warmer than it has been all week! A perfect day to celebrate Christ's resurrection!

We didn't have a family picture of all of us since Karlena joined our brood so I quick had my father-in-law take one after church!

I fell in love with this dress and am so pleased that it only cost me $4 at the used clothing store. Isn't it adorable?!

Apparently it tasted pretty good because Karlena couldn't stop eating it!

Elijah did not want his picture taken....I was interrupting his "Robots" movie.

Gabriel cooperated much better and is showing off his smile!

And one more of Karlena because I just can't get enough of her cuteness.  Oh and Isaac had his "nice" clothes off and changed before I could even get a shot of him. I guess it isn't very cool to have mom take your photo!

Have a wonderful Easter and let's all PRAISE GOD for his gift to us through His son.

Friday, April 22, 2011

4 months old!!

I can hardly believe that Karlena is already 4 months old. She is growing so much.
She weighed 14lbs 4oz at her appointment yesterday and was 25 inches long. So she has over doubled her weight and has grown 5 inches in 4 months time!

The doctor asked me if she was using an excersaucer yet. And I said no - she can't be old enough to use one of those already...she is still my baby!! :)

She doesn't love being on her stomach for long periods of time...but when she is she holds her head up pretty good. I couldn't get the best pictures though because she is so active and moving all the time!!

Karlena has the cutest smiles that just explode all over her face. She loves to talk and giggle and is very ticklish!! Hearing her laugh just brings us so much joy!

She doesn't sleep through the night but with Elijah being the earliest to do it at 9 months, I am not holding my breath that it will be any time soon! I just try and cherish our time together at night. Some nights I just watch her sleeping after she is done nursing and thank God for the gift that she is to our family!

Happy 4 month birthday sweet girl - we love you!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

So grown up

Last night Isaac had his first "semi-formal" dance!!
Doesn't he look handsome all cleaned up! :)

Sometimes I can't believe that we are parents to a 14 year old! But he is an amazing son and we are very proud of him!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A morning in the life of......

So I thought that I would share what a typical morning looks like in the Smith home during the week. I specifically am just making a record of this for myself because one day I may forget how crazy these times were and I it will be fun to look back and wonder how we got through! :)

4:00am – Karlena wakes to eat…she wakes several times during the night but her last early morning feeding is at 4am. Once she is done I know that I have just over an hour before my alarm will go off.

5:30am – Alarm goes off. I use my phone as my alarm. The actual alarm clock I purchased makes this horrifying buzzing/beeping sound so I stopped using it! I usually lie for a few minutes and say a prayer that God help me to be the best version of myself that day. I never hit snooze. I actually despise snooze buttons after a very long freshman year of college with a girl who NEVER got up with her alarm…but that is for another story!!

5:35am – Fill the hot water pot with water for my hot chocolate and get it boiling. Get clothes for Karlena and get her up to shower with me. We have this little bath bouncer seat deal that she sits in while I shower. Speeds up the whole morning process and she loves it!

5:45am – Get Karlena dressed and put into her swing. After her shower she falls back asleep for at least another hour.

5:45 – 6:00am – I get dressed, put the much needed products into my hair and blow dry it a little bit (I typically let most of my hair air dry…)

6:01am – Re-warm up the water for my hot chocolate in the hot water pot. While this is coming to a boil I either start a load of laundry or fold some of the clothes that are in the dryer….well everything except the socks. I LOATHE putting sock pairs together. I don’t know why. It is really weird if you think about it, but I often fold everything but the socks and let them tumble with each new load until we are out of socks and I HAVE to do them.

6:15am – Gabriel has usually joined me upstairs. He is an early bird just like me. I rarely have to wake him up in the morning. He will come up and get in the shower for me right away. While he is showering I get his breakfast ready. We usually go for weeks having the same thing. For the longest time it was oatmeal…now he is into Berry Crunch cereal – dry – he never eats cereal with milk!

6:25am – I head downstairs to do some major multi-tasking. This is the time that I log onto the computer, check e-mails, read a few blogs, drink my hot chocolate and put on my make-up. I have a little mirror down there on our computer desk that I look into to put my make-up on. Weird I know! Depending on the speed of our dial-up internet connection this whole process takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Also during this time Gabriel has finished his shower and needs his towel. He can basically do everything by himself but he likes mom to wrap his towel around him still!

6:45am - I go get Isaac and Elijah up. They are NOT early birds and have to be woken up most mornings! Once upstairs Elijah gets in the bath….as a side note I don’t know how people can have their kids take baths in the evening….most mornings my kids smell of pee or sweat or other unmentionable smells….a bath or a shower in our home in the morning is a MUST!!

7:00-7:30am – At this point Isaac is helping me get Elijah dressed, finishing his breakfast and getting himself showered. I am curling my hair, packing my lunch, most mornings feeding Karlena again and getting Elijah something to eat – or better stated keeping Elijah out of the cupboards so that he doesn’t just eat cookies before we leave.

7:30am – Isaac will go and start the van for me – soon this won’t be necessary!! And then he will head off to school. I “encourage” Gabriel to brush his teeth during the commercial break of his favorite Spongebob episode, brush my teeth and start taking my things out to the van.

7:45am – By this time I am helping everyone get their coats on so that we can be all in the van and on our way by 7:55am. Some mornings even this can be a challenge even though we have 10 minutes to do it in. I strap Karlena into her car seat and hope she falls back asleep. She used to take a morning nap when I dropped her off from 8-9am…but recently she has been wide eyed and ready to go when we reach the daycare.

7:55am – Gabriel to the van himself, backpack in hand. Elijah out next…he wants to walk himself – so independent. Walking himself means that he won’t want to go to the van but would rather play “backitball” instead. I say no – he throws a fit and screams the rest of the way to the van. Lovely! Karlena is last and off we go.

7:56am – We say our morning prayers. Gabriel has started saying them instead of me and Elijah folds his hands along with us. Gabriel prays in his own words “Thank you that I will have a good day at school, thank you that Karlena will start to feel better, thank you that Elijah won’t be naughty and kick or push people at daycare, thank you that daddy will have a good day in Tyler and pray for daddy’s boss that he might know Jesus and have you in his heart and be nice to my daddy. In Jesus name amen.” It varies some days….but this is what I hear most days!

8:00am – Gabriel is dropped off in front of his school. We live about 3 blocks away. By the time we are done praying we are almost there. The daycare that Elijah and Karlena go to is right across the street from the school. I bring Karlena in first – talk quick about her night and go out to get Elijah. We go in take off his coat and inevitably before I leave he has done something naughty that could warrant a time out. (Couldn’t he just wait until I am out of the driveway before he starts that?) He has started pushing everyone lately. If anyone has ideas on what to do about this please let me know!! I bought several books yesterday “Hands are not for hitting”, “Feet are not for kicking” etc. We will start reading them every day and see if it starts to set in.

8:05am - Hopefully I am back in the car and on the road again. Starting my drive with another prayer that God would put the spirit of peace in Elijah’s heart and he would stop being such a little bully! :):)

8:45am – I am pulling into the ramp at my office, ready to start my other job!

And that is about it. Wow I am tired just re-reading it all! haha!! Some days it doesn’t run smoothly at all and on Thursdays I have to be at work by 8 for an early meeting so I am up even earlier and those days it is just a mad rush to get out the door. It is crazy to me that I have to be up 2 ½ hrs before we need to leave but it is what’s working for us at this time…so we just go with it!

Have a fantastic weekend….we will be doing this whole routine tomorrow as well because we are heading to Tyler in the morning!! No rest for the weary I guess!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The day we almost lost him

It was January in 2004.

Possibly on my birthday…I can’t remember exactly. I know if it wasn’t the actual day of my birthday it was close to it.

Gabriel was 3 ½ months old. I had just gone back to work and he to daycare when he came down with RSV. I wasn’t really familiar with what RSV was prior to that. It started with a runny nose and a cough. At one point I took him to see a doctor because he didn’t seem himself. He wasn’t running a high fever or anything and they tested him for RSV but it came back negative. The doctor sent us home and said it was probably just a virus and to make sure that he stayed hydrated etc.

Dominic and I took turns staying home with him for a few days. He started to get worse, developed a fever and did a lot of coughing but I thought that RSV was a virus itself and if that was it there wasn’t really much we could do for him anyways.

I was wrong.

When I was 8 months pregnant with Gabriel I was driving to work one day and the car I had basically went from working to not in a matter of moments. I remember pulling over on the side of the interstate all huge and without a phone and just said a prayer that a highway patrol person would come along. A few minutes later my prayer was answered and my highway patrol man came. He allowed me to use his phone to contact Dominic to tell him where to pick me up. Apparently something was cracked in the engine (I am not mechanically inclined so I don’t really specifically remember but new transmission was the only option).

Dominic and I started commuting together and my dad – who is the perfect person to call when you need help with finding a new car – came to the rescue. He found us a used car that had recently been repaired and was cheap. He made the arrangements to pick it up for us and said one night he and my mom would deliver it to us.

Maybe it was because it was close to my birthday that they chose THAT night to come down. Maybe it was because they had this car to deliver to us. Maybe God just put all of those things in place for us…I like to believe that.

So they came down that night after work. They brought an ice cream cake for me. Dominic had been home with Gabriel all day and although he was very sick and congested we both thought he just needed some more time to fight off the virus.

We were wrong.

My parents came in and my mom took Gabriel and was holding him. I remember hearing my mom say “Darrel” (my dad). She had his little outfit unbuttoned and was watching his chest/stomach.

Apparently there is something called “Retraction”, when an infant especially, is struggling to breathe and you can see it in their lower rib cage area. We didn’t know to check for this or even what to watch for. But it was a sign that Gabriel was working VERY hard for every breath.

I think my dad said something to the fact that we needed to stay calm and not scare Isaac (who was 7) but that we needed the phone number for the hospital in Sioux Falls. He told us to pack a bag and that we needed to go immediately.

Gabriel was in trouble.

My dad sat in the back seat of our car with a flashlight shined on Gabriel watching him to make sure that he was still breathing. The 30 minute drive to Sioux Falls was probably one of the longest in my life. We just had no idea it had gotten that bad.

My dad had called a pediatrician he worked with and told him we were on our way to the ER and we were taken in immediately. The whole situation was so surreal. I remember them trying to find a vein and having no luck. Finally after what seemed like way to many failed attempts they got one in his head. Poor Gabriel just screamed and screamed.

They got him hooked up to oxygen right away and probably a host of other things that I don’t remember.

But I do remember one thing.

The doctor told us that because Gabriel was working so hard to breathe his heart was racing out of control. A few more hours of that without help and he would have gone into cardiac arrest.

We just had no idea.

I spent 9 days in the hospital with Gabriel. I remember being so glad that for the 3 months prior to that he had packed on the pounds because he seemed so fragile during that time and I knew the weight he had gained was good for him.

We spent another week at home with him before he was ok to go out anywhere and 2 months later he ended up in the hospital again, this time for only 3 days, because of another virus that attacked his already weakened lungs.

I remembered this story this morning after I had an IEP meeting for Gabriel at school. He has learned so much this year and met all of the goals we had set last spring. He is so smart and such a joy to our family and all of that could have been taken away that day in January. Life is such a gift….Gabriel is such a gift.

I am so glad that God provided for us during that time. He saved our son by placing the right people at the right time into our situation.

It is good for me to remember the valleys we have faced that God has walked us through. Even the valleys where things didn’t turn out as I had hoped. I don’t have the answer to why God saved Gabriel that night but didn’t stop us from losing a pregnancy in 2008. I believe that He had the power to do both. I don’t think that “why” will ever be fully understood this side of heaven.

But I am ok with that today. My focus HAS to be on the blessings of today and seeing all of those things that I have to be grateful for and not focusing on the things I can't understand.

Gabriel is such a blessing to us. He is, I think, our future preacher. :) He has such a curiosity about who God is and a heart for the lost. We pray every morning specifically for some people we know who are hurting and could use a Savior. In Gabriel’s words…”Mom! Don’t you want him to go to Heaven too?” “Then we need to forgive him and ask God to save him”.

Preach it son! Thank you for speaking truth to my heart!

God has something really special planned for Gabriel – for all our kids I am sure – and I can’t wait to see what He has in store!

Little pink dresses

I will never tire of dressing up my daughter in cute little dresses....

My sister gave me some of the headbands her daughter wore....I think they are so cute!

I love her many expressions!

Um mom....can you give me some help?!
I guess she wasn't about the blindfold look here!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Karlena's Dedication

I wanted to post a couple of pictures from the day of Karlena's dedication.  I really wish we would have taken the time to get a family picture...but we didn't :(

But my dad did take a few pictures for us while we were up front at church.

This is one of the only family shots we have...

Pastor Aaron always takes the babies and walks them around introducing them to the church.

I asked a woman from our church who makes cakes to do something for us. I think she did a wonderful job and the cake tasted awesome too!! Thanks so much Jeanne!!

Karlena in her pretty dress. This is the one that I posted about before that Kar boought for her. She has grown so much that it is almost too small for her. I think that I am going to get a shadow box and save it in a special display because it is so pretty!

A proud big brother. Gabriel just adores Karlena and is always saying just how beautiful she is. It is too sweet!

I love this shot of Elijah. It was taken at the end of that day and he has such an awesome grin!

The service was very special and something that we have done at that church specifically 3 times! Isaac was dedicated at the church Dominic and I were married in but the rest of our kids have been dedicated at First Baptist Church with the same Pastor!  It means so much to us to see familiar faces of friends and family who have supported us for so many years!

And it was a reminder to us that God has walked with us through many seasons of our lives and continues to guide us today, and for that we are very grateful!

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