Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Prayer Request

Paralyzed with fear. I don't know a better way of putting it. My daughter, in a few short days, is having heart surgery and I am terrified. I'm going through the motions of each day, of course, doing the things I need to do for the normal routine: working, taking care of Lilly, interacting normally with friends and aquaintances, but inside I am freaking out. Lilly is having a hole in her heart repaired this Thursday. It's not open heart surgery, but a catheterization surgery which will permanently implant a device that will shut the hole forever. As far as heart stuff goes, it's not a huge deal, but as far as children go, it is surgery, and it is a 3 year old's little heart, and Lilly is my only daughter, the best thing about each and every one of my days. It is so hard to think about Jon and I giving her over to the surgeons in a few days, entrusting our precious little angel to their impersonal hands. They don't know her, they don't love her, and in some ways she is just another surgery, just another kid to heal and a surgery to check of their list and just another patient to teach the residents about. To us, to me and to Jon, she is our everything. I hope they realize that, that in every way that counts, our world did not begin until she was born, our lives did not have purpose, our own hearts did not understand what love was until she instilled that feeling upon us.

I know I sound dramatic but you have to understand: my daughter is having surgery. There are so many moments that we, as her parents, might put her in a situation that has risks. We drive with her every day knowing that we might get in a car accident. We fly with her regularly knowing that the plane may go down. But we are beside her, we know the risks and could carefully protect her if at all possible. On Thursday, we turn her over to doctors who I'm praying had a good night's sleep the night before and who I'm hoping did not just get in a fight with his wife. I'm relying on nurses who make the right decisions every day but on this day in particular I'm begging the Lord that they are particularly "on."

I'm a little wishy washy about prayer requests in general. Whenever I hear someone ask for a prayer request, I of course oblige but feel a little odd about it. Like they feel a little forced at times. Not that I don't regularly pray; prayer has been a big deal to me ever since I've understood how much God is important to me. So many times, I've asked God for help, prayed for Him to show me the way, thanked Him for the blessings He's given to me. But this time it's different, it's bigger.

We have a very sweet cleaning lady every other week, and last week I told her about Lilly's surgery. She started to cry, as I tried to assure her it was going to be ok (all the while hoping I was right). She said she would pray for Lilly, that she hasn't prayed in a long time, but this was going to be a "down on my knees" kind of prayer that she'd pray for my little girl. I understood exactly what she was saying. The only time I've ever felt that way before was when Lilly was born, and she was on oxygen, and we just prayed so hard that she would be ok and get to come home with us quickly and a healthy little girl. She was in the hospital for 2 weeks on oxygen, most of the time with us being unable to hold her but we stayed by her 24/7 nonetheless. I prayed as often as I could, as hard as I could. Most of the time I prayed the rosary, because sometimes it is easier not having to specifically state what you want God to do, but to put my entire faith in His plans. I can't even count the number of times I prayed the rosary over those two weeks, but I remember saying the prayers multiple times every morning, noon, night, and in the middle of the night. And if we left the room for a few minutes, we left the rosary in Lilly's hands, and my little baby, days old, clutched that rosary as if she knew how hard her mama needed her to be ok. God gave us both strength and shortly after she came home and got off her oxygen.

And the past 3 and a half years have been amazing, which is why this surgery is throwing me for a loop. I'm not ready for the risks associated with it. I just want my girl to be happy and healthy for 100 more years, without the worry that something could go wrong. I know it's not in my hands, it's in God's, but you know that for the next week at least I'll be down on my knees praying that my little girl will be alright. Because she has to be, there is no other choice.

I don't have any cutesy stories or anectdotes for this blog entry. I am just a mother expressing her fears, a mommy begging that her little girl will be ok. I am just someone sleepwalking through the next 4 days until I entrust my child to some random doctor who supposedly will fix her little hole in her heart. I am hoping that by Thursday afternoon Jon and I will look at each other and say "That wasn't so bad, was it?" and forget how nervous we felt, the utter fear that we lived through this week prior.

But until then, we are enjoying every minute with our little ladybug. Today, Miss Lilly Lou woke up this morning and played with her Little People. By the time she opened her door, she was holding a sheep and a rabbi (part of her Little People Hanukkah set) and of course the rabbi was riding the sheep. The three of them got into the bathtub and by 9 am we were at morning church service. She actually sat through most of church, and when she went up for her communion blessing, she didn't want to walk about after she had been blessed - perhaps she felt she needed a second blessing this particular week. There just happened to be a dozen or so friars or monks or something at our church today, and Lilly had these serious guys kneeling down making faces at her and begging her for attention. Of course. Afterwards, we went to West Main, our favorite brunch spot. Lilly surprised us by not wanting to each much of her pancakes, but instead eating eggs and potatoes, both covered in ketchup. After her afternoon nap, she and daddy watched Enchanted, and parts of Grease, and then she and I made cookies and dinner. She was such an obedient little chef, and ate so much cookie dough, all while pretending that she wasn't. Tonite, instead of putting her straight to bed, she got to watch a little more tv - Hannah Montana - and she cracked up at all the appropriate times. She is such a funny little cheeky monkey, and we are so blessed that she is our little girl.
I ask any one who is reading this to please join me in prayer this week, that Lilly's surgery goes according to plan, that her little heart is healed, and that our normalcy is not interrupted too much - I'm hoping by next week at this time, we will be again baking cookies.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Plane, A Bus, and a Ship

December 10: We got to the airport at 6:55, and started walking from the parking lot to the Airtran counter - not very far compared to some airports, but carrying 3 suitcases, 2 carryons, a stroller, Lilly, and my purse, plus two tired and cranky adults was not a fun walk. (Note to self: next time leave 5 minutes earlier and get a cart to carry it all.)

The positive part is that, after checking in at the Airtran counter, we never had to really worry about our luggage again. Disney must realize that we all hate lugging our bags all around, so after we checked it in at the airline counter in Richmond, it "magically" gets picked up at the Orlando airport and appears outside our room on the cruise. So after we happily turned in our luggage, we walked over to security... and then realized we left our passports at the Airtran counter.

After another quick squabble by two tired grown ups, Jon went back and luckily they were right there. 10 minutes later we were at the gate and they were already boarding! Which would have been perfect timing except... I still had my migraine from the day before. So my wonderful husband knew it would only get worse if I didn't have coffee and he went to get me a cup, and a few minutes after that we were in our seats on the plane and it was taking off!

Lilly has flown many times before so the flight was easy, except for the man next to me sleeping, and my migraine of course. But less than two hours later we were getting off the plane in Orlando! We were so happy the morning went smoothly because we were so nervous about potential flight delays and missing the cruise! We got off the plane and called my sister Christine (& husband Chris & son Matthew) who were staying at a nearby hotel and were going to meet us for the bus to Port Canaveral. We had arrived a few minutes early to the airport, but they were already on their way. While we waited, Lilly took some pictures with her favorite characters at the Disney store at the airport.

(By the way: Lilly's dress was actually my dress as a child, which was very cool to me. And she got so many compliments on it that day!)

Then we walked down to check in for the bus to the cruise. Disney made it super easy and when we got to the Disney Cruise counter at the airport, they immediately checked us in for the cruise as well, which meant that we didn't have to check in at the port. The additional bonus was that we were given boarding pass numbers of 3, which meant that we were in one of the first groups to board once we arrived at Port Canaveral. (I think it goes 1 through 12 maybe? We actually boarded about 10 minutes after boarding pass level 1 so it was very nice.)
Christine, Chris and Matthew arrived and a few minutes later we all boarded the bus to the port! Jon and Lilly sat together and immediately fell asleep, of course. Within 45 minutes we arrived at the Port. Colleen, Lyndsey and Julianne were already there and checked in. Then we got in line for pictures with Mickey!

I absolutely loved all the Christmas decorations that were everywhere on the trip, even at the Port! Lilly loves Christmas trees.

Lilly also loves her cousins. :)

And finally we boarded the ship!

We went straight to lunch at Parrot Cay, which was a buffet lunch. Scott, Donna and Jacob arrived shortly after. A few characters were walking around. Lilly got to see Mickey again. :)

After lunch, we went to our rooms finally. Being on a cruise ship, they weren't huge, but it wasn't ridiculously small either. It reminded me of a motor home a little bit - they made use of every little space. We were in a category 11 room, which is the smallest room, and honestly it was fine for us. Some of our group had cat 9 or 8 rooms which have a window and a split bathroom, but honestly for the price I'd probably book a cat 11 room again. Our room had a bed/bedroom area, a living room area with the couch that flipped over into Lilly's bed (although see if she actually slept in it!), and a bathroom with a bath. The bath was important to note because apparently not all cruise lines have rooms with baths but I believe all of Disney's cruise rooms have a bath.
After settling in, we went to the farewell party which was fun, and by that time Jenn & Brian & Cassidy arrived. Then we all went to dinner. My migraine was really killing me at that point, and I sometimes feel nauseous with migraines, but it also might have been the ship so I took a Bonine. I never felt nauseous again the entire trip (and luckily the migraine was gone by the next day). After dinner we went to a lounge area that had dance music and the kids started dancing. Here is a funny picture of Lilly dancing with random stranger kids - I just think it's funny the way they're all doing the same weird move!

And here is the dancing queen...

So that is the end of day 1... It was fun and exhausting. :) My impression at the end of day 1 was that I was a little overwhelmed by the cruise experience because it was new to me, but I was very impressed by the cruise ship and the ease of how everything went so smoothly that first day between traveling and settling into the cruise.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Princess and the Pea - a Bedding Story

Lilly has never liked blankets. When she was a tiny baby, she couldn't do anything about it, but from 6 months on, she refused to keep a blanket on herself while sleeping. Luckily we keep the house somewhat warm, and put her in cozy pj's, so she's done ok.

Then we moved to NZ, and there was no real heat. Most nights during their winter we were freezing - did I mention there was no insulation in our house in addition to no heat? So we had to buy really thick warm pajamas since Miss Lilly Lou wouldn't tolerate a blanket.

But at some point, a child needs a blanket, right? When we moved back here, we got Lilly her first big girl bed, which she absolutely loved. And on top of it, there was a new (to her, it was a hand me down from her cousins) blanket with the Disney princesses. She LOVED it. It was so pretty, and she LOVES Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, all of them really. She loved her new room, she loved her new bed, and she loved her new blanket. Except... she wouldn't keep it on at night. As soon as she got into bed, she peeled it down to the bottom of the bed and wouldn't even let it touch her feet. Even the sheets, she wouldn't keep on, it was too restricting. Which was fine, in the summer, but it does get cold here in Virginia (especially this winter!). Furthermore, when you have a big girl bed I just feel like you need to use the covers, or else why even have them?

One night in October, Jon was out of town and Lilly had a little cold. (Can I take this moment by the way to thank God that she has been so healthy for the past year? Only a couple mild colds, it seems like the asthma thing has been relatively gone for 2 years now!) Since I'm a mommy and I freak out when my child has a runny nose, and also because I get a little lonely and nervous when Lilly and I are home alone (not to mention, I sleep like a rock so if the princess was to have a coughing fit, I wouldn't even wake up), I took my sleeping ladybug and put her in my bed. She curled up in the sheets and duvet and had a restful night's sleep. (OK one last interruption - can I sincerely thank God again for letting my little girl be such a good sleeper in general - rarely wakes up at night, and sleeps until 7 am no matter when she goes to bed.) I woke up in the morning and - to my shock - this little girl was cuddled into my down comforter. I did a double take. Was she really still covered by this blanket? For the first time in years did she actually stay warm from keeping her covers on? I was amazed.

Of course I shouldn't have been amazed if I had thought about it. Lilly is a princess. And therefore she is like the spoiled princess and the pea. She decided somewhere in her infancy that she would only sleep with a duvet and down comforter, and not some shabby little baby blanket. She deserved the best, and here was my hint to buy it for her.

I still wasn't totally sure. Maybe she slept with the cover on that night because she was sick, or because she was exhausted, or because she liked being next to me. (We rarely have her sleep in our room.) But I was willing to test my hypothesis. I began searching duvet covers and down comforters. I realized that with her theoretical asthma & breathing issues, down alternative might be better than a regular down comforter. Furthermore, it needed to be a washable down alternative comforter, which is not as common as you'd think - many are dry clean only, and for a little girl who at some point we'd like to cut the cord with the nightime pullups, I figure she's going to have an accident here or there, so it would be nice to throw it in the washing machine if necessary. Oddly enough, the only two places that I could find a down-alternative washable comforter was Pottery Barn Kids and K-Mart. PB Kids was back-ordered, and K-Mart's was cheaper (and on sale on top of that!) so there we go. Then I got her a very pretty understated girly pink duvet cover from Land of Nod - mostly plain except for a couple big fabric flowers. She absolutely LOVED it when it arrived, and was so excited to put it on her bed. (I also got the matching pink ruffly curtains which we both love as well, and some sheets that were on sale at Pottery Barn Kids that just happened to match perfectly - white with pale pink, green, and yellow tiny flowers, which I feel like remind me of bedding I used to have as a child.)

And it worked. For the past two months now she LOVES sleeping with her duvet & down (alternative) comforter. She pulls it up to her neck when she gets into bed, and even likes "playing bed" with me - having me pretend to put her to sleep just so she can cuddle with it. I guess if you know Lilly, this story shouldn't be a surprise - my girl likes the nice things in life. But still it always does make me think - she truly is a princess.

(This post was inspired by the fact that Jon the other night, after putting Lilly to sleep, came out of her room and said "Lilly's comforter is the most comfortable thing ever! No wonder why she loves it so much!")

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ready... Set... Go!

On December 9, we loaded up the car with 3 large suitcases, a carry-on, a Princess backpack, an overnight bag, a purse, a stroller, an excited Princess, and a sleepy doctor. At 8:30 PM we were on our way driving towards Richmond, where we would be spending the night before our early morning flight the next day. Of course, I was driving because even though I have bad night vision and had a horrible migraine, the other two people in the car either a) have narcolepsy when they drive at night or b) are too young to have a driver's license.

For the record, Lilly is the best person in the world to go on vacation with. Before we even got to the good part of the vacation (cruise, Disney World, extended family time), she was just plain super excited about being in the car at night. She knew it was bedtime and she knew that there was a good reason for us to all be in the car after dark. We had been telling her about the vacation (a big boat, Mickey Mouse, Princess castle, etc) for weeks, but in a three year old's mind I'm not sure if she totally understood that we were going on a wonderful trip that night. But nonetheless she was so excited. We turned on Christmas music and after each song she shouted "Hooray!" and clapped and made us more excited as well. I thought she'd get tired in the car as she usually will fall asleep when we're driving at night, but every few minutes when I looked in the backseat she was wide awake and dancing. I then turned to my husband next to me to tell him "wow I can't believe she's still up!" but before I could get the words out I noticed he was sound asleep... :)

About 45 minutes into the car trip, Lilly was angry. She signed up for adventure and some Disney magic, and instead we were on a "long" (to her) car trip to a Richmond hotel. So, we decided to stop at Cheesecake Factory in Short Pump and get her a little dessert magic instead. Two coffees, a milk, and an oreo cheesecake later, we were back in the car a little after 10 pm. In another 20 minutes we pulled into our hotel - the Doubletree at the Richmond Airport.

Originally when I booked the flight, we planned on leaving first thing in the morning on Dec 10 to make our 7 AM flight - which means waking up and driving from Charlottesville at 4ish. It's what we typically do when we have an early morning flight, and none of us mind too much. But as the days got closer to the trip, I started worrying - this was no ordinary trip to Atlanta or weekend getaway. On Thursday we were to board a cruise ship that if we missed it (and there is only one flight a day to Orlando from Richmond), we would be out of luck on the cruise. The rest of my family got to Port Canaveral the day before so they wouldn't risk it - and we were still a flight away! Plus, I didn't want to be so exhausted at the beginning of the cruise from waking up in the middle of the night, when it was only a 3 night cruise. So I researched hotels near the airport and booked the Doubletree because of it's close proximity. WOW was I surprised when we pulled into the parking lot and it was not only closer than the "economy lots," but you could actually see the terminal from the hotel. Plus the bonus of free waters and hot cookies upon check in. The three of us were sound asleep by 11 pm, and had a 5:30 am wakeup call the next morning.

Next up... Would we wake up in time? Would we lose our passports at the airport? Would our flight be delayed? Would we make it to the cruise before the ship set sail? Would I lose my horrible migraine at some point? And would we have the best vacation ever...? Stay tuned.