Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The boy is eating!

On Sunday, our little guy turned twelve months old.  I would like to state that this is impossible, yet it happened.  I would also like to state that I will be referring to his age in months until he's fifty-seven months or until I can't count that high.  It just sounds younger. 

Only one year ago, er, twelve months ago, he was birthed looking like this.

Hm.  I guess it wasn't too fun for him.  Well, it wasn't a walk in the park for me, either, buddy. 
And only a year, um, twelve months later, he looks like this.
And while he got some pretty cool presents, the best present was the one he gave to us.  See him willingly touching the cupcake?  This is a big step, my friends.  Woo Hoo!!!!!!!
Want to see something else?
That's right, friends.  Ignore all the chatter of grandparents and little person questions, and focus on the important thing.  Gater's eating! 
Let me say that louder.
{pause for cheering}
And not just cupcakes, either.  He's chowing down on cheerios, crackers, anything crunchy.  Please understand, chowing down for us right now is about ten cheerios.  Baby steps.  He still won't take a spoon, and he doesn't like soft things like banana, but he willingly opens his mouth and even reaches out and grabs crunchy finger foods.  There have been many tears, many prayers of thanks, many high fives and applause over each bite. 
Are we out of the woods?  No.  Would he make it without the feeding tube?  Not a chance.  But we are seeing our first real progress in six months.  We're a bit in shock and keep thinking he's going to revert back to his old ways {any time he opened his mouth before, he then wouldn't do so again for three weeks or so}.  So far, so good.  He's been willing to eat food almost any time we offer it for days now.  We are going from incredulous to cautiously optimistic, to downright ecstatic.
Keep those prayers coming, because we are very much still in the trenches, but we see light now for the first time.  Our hope has something tangible to grab on to.  Praise the Lord.
In honor of Gater's birthday, let's take a little jog down memory lane, shall we?  Indulge me.
Nate seemed so grown up to me when he looked like this.
And then this happened.  What a big boy!
And then Halloween came and he looked like this.
Then Thanksgiving came and he looked like this.

Then Christmas came and he looked like this.
About that time, we realized something was wrong, and very soon, he looked like this.

We have grown up this last six months.  We have entered the ranks of those who have gone through something difficult and life changing.  We have depth we did not have before.  I am thankful for the growth and I'm thankful for the revelation and I'm thankful for having a trial that brought us closer and not further as a family, and especially as a couple.  I'm thankful for gaining some empathy and understanding.
The Lord was gracious, and thanks to the wonderful invention of the feeding tube, Nate has been able to grow. 

And be happy!  And sit up!

And even, dare I say, be sassy?  Look at how much he has filled out!  I think he may even be on the growth chart now.  That in itself is a praise.

There has been so much to be thankful for over this last year. 

We have an awesome little kid who is a great sleeper,

and a total all star.

We're glad he's along for the ride.
Okay. I'm done.
We celebrated his special day with a brunch with both sets of grandparents. 
I'll post about the sunroom and all the changes we've been making next week.
Decorations made from string and tissue paper and flowers from the front yard pretty much did it.  See the oddly-shaped white pieces of paper between some of the tissue paper bunting?  Those are paper dolls Ella made to add to the decor.  Oh, and Jack chose matchbox cars to place on each napkin so it looked more "boy."  I forgot to get a picture but it was really cute.  I love that they are old enough to want to help out.

We let Nate sleep through brunch but got him up for presents.
All of our previous kid toy rules went out the window with Nate.  With the other two we wanted quality and no loud noises, please.  We would always choose wood over plastic.  With Nate, we needed things that would stimulate him and make him want to stand up or crawl toward them, so the more lights and sounds, the better.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  My pride hurts.  Almost as much as it did when we got a minivan.  But I like my minivan more than I like all the noise of those toys!
It was a great day.  A week ago we would never have dreamed that Nate would eat birthday cake.  We debated the merits of even having one.  I am shaking my head in wonder over his abrupt progress even as I write this.
Please accept our profound thanks for your prayers.  I am continually amazed by the number of people praying us through this.  The Lord is doing His perfect work in our little one and in our family and we are so glad to be able to rely on the One who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves.
**On a side note, we went to the zoo this week, and I kept having people tell me that I had a really cute little girl.  Now, I realize he wasn't in blue, but can't orange be boyish?  This is Volunteer country, after all.  Everyone wears bright orange!  People paint their houses orange!
Is this cuteness girly?  Is it feminine?  I think not.  This is masculinity at its best.
After all, Nate is all boy.

Monday, June 17, 2013


My sister came to visit last week with her sweet little baby Elijah.  All the cousins were together.

It was a busy visit, split into several segments, with various configurations of us either at our house or at my parents' house.  We fit a lot into the days we had with them.  One day we did the aquarium.  Ella loves petting the sting rays.  She even bought a stuffed one from the gift shop with her birthday money.  She named it Stingy.  Imaginative girl.  Oh, and that crown?  Her hairband for the day.

She tried to entice butterflies to land on her fingers, using a technique {she explained to me very seriously} that she had seen Mary Poppins use to get a bird to land on her finger.

Jack became an arctic explorer, discovering new territories, with help from his side kick, Mr. Penguin.

We were almost eaten by a shark, but I was the only one who recognized the danger.

My beautiful sister and her adorable baby, whom I miss deeply and wish lived closer.

After the aquarium, we met up with my parents for a delightful dinner at Tony's, a fabulous Italian restaurant in the art district of Chattanooga.  If you haven't been to the art district, it is a must-see next time you're in Chattanooga.  As for Tony's, even Nate seemed interested in the menu. 
My parents were in their element with all of their grandchildren around!

Elijah is pure cuteness.  We call him the bi-polar baby because he has no emotion that falls in the realm of calm.  He's either totally excited or totally upset.  Thankfully he's usually totally excited.

This is the only picture I got during the entire visit with his mouth closed.

A few days later, we ventured out to the Knoxville Zoo.  Jack and Ella got to ride on a camel!  Now, if you know my daughter, this will not surprise you at all.  In fact, you would likely expect to see her in front leading him and inviting him to come and live at our house.  Jack, on the other hand, well, he's a bit timid.  He doesn't like to try new things and is terrified of all animals he sees in person, so when he happily climbed aboard the camel, I stood there with my mouth open for the entire ride. 

He sat there proudly in front, enjoying every minute.

You cannot know how shocking this is unless you have witnessed his reaction to the smallest of dogs and cats.  He runs in terror, screaming like a little girl.

There is hope for my little man yet!  He's growing up so fast!
He even started driving.

When we took a break for lunch, I snapped some pics of Elijah.  The only time you can get good pictures of that child is when he's strapped in.  When he's free he is always on the move.

Like I said, mouth always open.  But what a cute mouth it is.

Such a doll baby.

He is a lot like Ella was at this age.  Jack and Nate are so easy going that they rarely get excited like this.  It was so fun!

It's official.  Neither Ella nor Jack has a wingspan quite as wide as a condor.

The zoo has a petting zoo attached.  Ella and Jack got little brushes and were told how to brush the animals.  I fully expected a meltdown or screaming fit from Jack.

Instead, he did this.  Very calmly, he talked to the goats.

Then he showed me what he would look like if he hatched from an egg.  He said, "I'm pretending to crack!"
 Ella apparently thought that she would hatch like this.
It was so much fun spending time with my sister and her little guy!  And because I know you want to see it again,