“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together there is something you must always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart I'll always be with you.”
for our first summer fun event we signed up for the children's healthcare superhero fun run! i use the term "fun" loosely. the only part they thought was fun was the dressing up part. we were so excited to get there and see everyone dressed up, but not so excited to walk forever to get to the fun run (our bad, we parked on the wrong side of piedmont park, which is huge), definilty not excited to run a mile in the hot humid june temps, and definilty not fun when one falls as soon as the race starts and scrapes her tiny knees. but...all said and done, we had fun, the kids looked super cute and it was all for a good cause and sponsored by our favorite children's hospital that we are so grateful for but would rather not see the inside of ever again (unless it's for our robotics therapy, which we love!).
my little superheroes. i wish i had a "post" race picture to show the true feelings of the day but oh well.
andrew and carson finishing the race. super proud of my batman. he was the only one who didn't complain or cry at some point.
at the end of may brooks and i invaded in on megan at her yearly sales meeting which was being held in d.c. this year. i have never been and thought it would be a good opportunity for brooks and i to spend some good ole' quality time together. with all of carson's new problems with the jia and all the appointments and things we have had to do i felt like brooks was feeling a little scared and left out. he is my stereotypical middle child. only brooks would get a trip alone with his mom out of carson getting arthritis. all that aside, i knew that brooks would probably appreciate all the history and significance the most. so after a few days of researching the best things to see and do in d.c. we were set. we had 3 full days to just explore. if you were to ask him what he wanted to see the most before we went it would've been to see the white house and meet president trump. what can i say, the kid has some high standards.
7:20am flight out. good thing we were excited to go, otherwise we'd both be asleep!
on day one, thursday, when we got there about 10am it was pouring down rain and about 50 degrees. not the best weather to walk around in but we managed. we stopped off at megan's hotel to drop our bags and then it was off to see whatever we could. we made it to the national mall and hit up a few of the smithsonian museums. air and space was first. it was packed. i felt like every middle school in the united states had a field trip planned here for this day. there were preteen kids everywhere. it made me really appreciate my little ones and also feel bad for all those teachers trying to get the kids to put down their phones and look at all this cool stuff, for pete's sake! anyway, brooks was pretty amazed with all they had to see. he even tried "space" ice cream and really like it. me, not so much.
waiting to get in to the air and space museum. this is pretty much how we looked all weekend. wet and in our rain jackets.
a piece of the actual moon!
everywhere we went we saw the washington monument. it became a running joke, "look kids, the washington monument!"
megan had to head back to wrap up her meetings so brooks and i headed over to the museum of natural history. our favorite thing there was the hope diamond and the butterfly house. oh, and the cafeteria in the basement, we were starving!
butterfly house. we really wanted one to land on us but were also a teeny bit afraid.
brooks and i grabbed a quick dinner by our hotel and then came back to wait for megan. brooks wanted to spot her first so he sat right by the doors waiting for her.
day two we did lots and lots of walking and exploring in the rain. first we ran through the museum of american history and hit up the presidential section. here we could see lincoln's actual hat he was wearing when he was shot, some really cool artifacts from his funeral, and tons of other things from our past presidents. stuff like that amazes me. these things were actually used by our very first presidents. how cool is that? we saw a chair that belonged to george washington. i mean...how amazing!
brooks was ready to get into the museum
statue of liberty made out of legos!
lincoln's hat. i could've stayed and looked at it all day long.
our next stop was to the department of printing and engraving to see where money is made. i would say this was probably on the bottom of our list of favorite things to see. it was cool seeing the huge stacks of millions of dollars but the rest of the tour was kinda slow. from here we went to the national archives. this was really cool. we had an appointment to get in to see some of the big guns, the declaration of independence, the bill of rights, and the constitution. all the actual documents. it was just amazing to see those actual documents. i'm not sure i have ever seen anything so cool (besides lincoln's actual hat). unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in the archives. if you have never been to see these i highly recommend you go.
next stop for the day was the lincoln memorial. having never been to d.c. before i had no idea just how big this monument is. wow. talk about being in awe. brooks was so impressed. unfortunately, it was raining pretty good so everybody was jammed inside under cover so it wasn't super easy to look at everything. still, very moving to see, especially parts of his speeches engraved on the walls.
we had done so much hopping from one place to another this day that we decided to uber back (undoubtably, brooks's favorite part of our trip. calling ubers) to our hotel and relax a little then find a place for dinner by our hotel.
saturday was by far, my favorite day. we started off at ford's theater where lincoln was shot...(side note, we found out that i am not the one to be in charge of times/appointments/schedules. i almost always had our time/place wrong. fortunately, we were able to talk our way in or rescheduled for most things. it became quite the joke though to brooks). i had bought tickets to see a one act play about the night he was shot then to go across the street to the peterson house where he died the next day. the play was really neat to see and gave so many details. i'm not sure brooks was that impressed but the whole time we just found ourselves staring at the box seats where lincoln would've been sitting. it was very surreal to think that is the exact place he was shot. we did learn that the building has been restored and some things in the box were not the original but still...pretty close.
then it was across the street to where lincoln was taken after being shot. here we learned that this house has been preserved exactly, except for the actual bed he died in...that is in a museum in chicago. but the rest of the house hasn't been touched. we got to walk through pretty much by ourselves and really take our time. just amazing.
from here we walked (much to brooks's disappointment, he wanted to uber) to capital hill and sat on the steps and looked around for a bit. again, i never knew just how big all of this is. it's pretty impressive when you think about just how many of our presidents have been here before.
deep thoughts on the capital steps
the running joke of the washington monument being everywhere got pretty funny. brooks wanted to take a picture of us pointing to it, again.
after the capital we decided to uber to arlington. this was a risky move on my part. brooks has a lot of questions about dying and people who have died, and what happens when you die, and where do you go, and can you come back, and so on and so forth. but, i thought it was important for him to go and see just how many people have served our country. arlington was amazing. probably our favorite thing we did the whole trip. what a sight to see. we decided we could walk to see all the main spots. at first this seemed like a great idea, then as we kept seeing the tour busses drive by us we thought maybe we chose wrong. either way, if you ever have a chance to go i highly recommend it. our first stop was to see the eternal flame of JFK and Jackie O. it is so surreal to be standing next to where they are buried. everyone that walks up is so respectful and it is so quiet. just a really good place to sit and reflect. of course, it came with lots of questions on who JFK was and how he died. still, so cool to see.
next was my favorite. the tomb of the unknown. just amazing. i can not even put into words how you feel when you are watching the guard march back and forth. we got to see two changing of the guards and see a wreath laying ceremony. brooks was entranced the whole time. counting steps, watching the guards and their rituals. counting pauses. watching faces. he really did such a good job just taking it all in.
and then this happened. we were using the bathroom which is right next to where the guards go in between their shifts. we were waiting on megan and this guy walks out looking very much like one of the guards. brooks says to me, "hey! that looks like a guard of the tomb!" and the guy turns to him and gives him a wink and a thumbs up and says he is one. we waited for him to come back from what he was doing and he chatted with brooks for a few minutes and then took a picture with him. brooks was beyond excited. i could see it in his sweet little face. we thanked the kid for his service and went on our way with a little guy pretending to be one of the guards himself.
and then before we knew it we were lost. arlington is huge. everywhere you turn looks like the place you were just in. we were all starting to get a little tired and hungry but everywhere we went was the wrong way. finally we found someone and he pointed us in the direction we needed to go which took us past this view...
i'm not sure we could've asked for a better view of d.c. and our whole trip. we spent a few minutes just admiring it all then headed back down, caught another uber and went to grab one last dinner.
brooks doing what he loved the most, watching the uber car on our phones and telling us when they were pulling up. i'm afraid he thinks he can uber anywhere now.
this was by far one of my favorite trips i have taken. i was just amazed by all the stuff we got to see. i will definitely be going back to d.c. again. but, nothing beats coming home to all my faces that i love so much.
it's now taken me several days to sit down and write this post. partly because i am in shock that it has been ten years and partly because your brothers and sister don't make it easy to just sit down and get something done. that's the beauty of it i guess, just being too busy to be sad. i would have never thought that ten years could pass so quickly. all those years ago on this day i would have told you i would never smile or be truly happy again. i remember every single moment of that day. every sound, every smell, everything. loosing a child is a pain that cannot be explained. the actual physical feeling of loss never goes away. but much to my surprise i can say that i did smile again. and i do feel truly happy. but there are times when someone asks me how many kids i have and i stumble over the answer. how many do i have here with me or how many do i have forever in my heart and soul? i have 4 beautiful children. you can't actually see one of them right now but i do everyday in my 3 who are here. just when i think i'm going to be sad he sends me a sign not to be. that sign may be his crying sister but i know it was just the distraction i needed. this morning when i was woken up by the dog (who doesn't really get up in the middle of the night anymore) i looked at the time on the wall. 4:11. your birthday. it could've been totally random, but i choose the believe it was you. you knew this day was approaching and i needed to know you're ok. and i do know it. as much as i wish you were here with us and we didn't have to have this day burned in our memories, i have to believe you are in a much better place. so, happy heaven day sweet cooper. we miss you every second of every day.
let me just tell you all this, as if you didn't already know, but our carson is a real life superhero. i should've known from the beginning that it was just in his blood. i do no know any other ten year old who could handle all the things that have been thrown his way with such ease. i'm pretty sure his superhero power is his amazing personality and ability to get over it an move on. this kid has been through it and yet even with tears in his eyes and fear in his gut he can still smile and make me feel better about all the crap we have to make him do. not once do i ever hear him utter a single complaint or a "it's not fair" when all i want to do is scream it as loud as i can.
our latest hurdle, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, has been a doozy. he went from being completely independent and even released from pt at school to literally crawling his way around the house (without so much as a single complaint, seriously, it's a real super power). thankfully we were about to get on the schedule to get steroid injections into his knees. i'm not sure carson would use the word thankful, but after seeing the immediate relief that's exactly what we were, thankful, grateful, amazed, relieved, all those feelings wrapped up into one is how we felt. watching your kid be in pain and not be able to make it go away really sucks.
so for now, we will stay on our once a week shot of an injection of meds that will suppress his immune system, and couple that will a bunch of meds to combat the side effects of that drug, along with his other daily medicine he was already on. while we wait to see which ones will work for us i have looked into several different books on autoimmune diseases and how diet change can affect/help with the inflammation. carson's celiacs blood work can back negative so as far as they are concerned it's not food related but it can't hurt to try a diet change if it would mean getting off some of the medicines he's on. never a dull moment around here, that's for sure.
getting checked in and gowned up...see that little tear that escaped. that about broke my heart.
game face on
being silly and trying to take our mind off the scary stuff
all done and on the way home. all in all he did great. definitely not a fan of being sedated but once it all wore off he was just fine. fingers and toes crossed and prayers said that we don't have to do this very often...maybe a diet change will help, maybe a supplement, or maybe the medicine will work and take over. all i know is my carson is back to his old self running and playing. which to be honest, i was worried we wouldn't see him do any of these things again. so for now we will enjoy the benefits of modern medicine. here he is running and playing for the first time since his knee pain started back in february. and no, you're not seeing an illusion. that is actually all 3 of my kids playing together. i had to take a picture for proof.
i always feel like this every year. april hits and we are just running around like crazy people just trying to make it through. we have birthdays, spring break, easter, baseball, tennis, end of year testing and just daily life. before i know it school is over and we are on summer vacation! i am counting the days...19 more to go! we can do it! not that our summer will be all that relaxing though. carson will be doing robotics therapy again (he is not super excited about it but we felt like it helped so much and now with this new kink in our chain, arthritis, we feel like it'll really help) at children's healthcare. it's a two week program and this year he is also doing OT along with PT. it's such a good program and we are so lucky to live so close by...that being said, it's not just a hop, skip and a jump away. it's going to be exhausting for all of us but so beneficial for carson, so we do it with a smile. i can't wait to see the gains he makes this year.
i went through my phone and looked at all the pics from april. wow. it has been a busy month. i'm always grateful for such a busy time from april to the end of may. it keeps my mind busy. the fact that may 21 is approaching and that it will be 10 years is never very far off my mind but thankfully, i have these three to keep me focused.
the very beginning of april we packed up the new family truckster and headed to seaside for spring break. let's just say no matter how big the car we will be able to fill up every spot available. you would've thought we were moving to the beach. here we are packed and just about ready to pull out of the driveway...that's andrew in the very back probably trying to fit my "one more thing" in the back.
with a stop off in our favorite college town on the way we were able to catch a baseball game. auburn never disappoints.
i love me some cam!
i miss this place so much
it was off the next day to the beach! sadly we didn't have the best weather but we made the most of it and had a fabulous time. a much needed vacation from all the chaos at home. can't you see how relaxed i am?! this shows just how crowded the beach was. there were people everywhere. we don't even know those people who are literally right next to us. it was crazy!
two little peas in a pod.
and this middle one. he has been quite the piece of work lately. being the middle kid aint easy...said every middle child and no mom ever.
honestly, this is pretty much how brooks felt the whole trip. he just wasn't himself and barely could get enough energy to celebrate his birthday. it wouldn't be a family vacation if one of my kids isn't sick. bless him.
once we got back i realized i had scheduled our annual cardiologist check up for the monday morning following spring break...who does that?? and then as if that were not enough we found out carson had his final installment of special olympics that same day. lucky for me both things were within just a few miles of each other. after another glowing report from the cardiologist (ekg and echo both looked great...too great for a kid with a heart that was so damaged but i don't dare question how or why) we were off to watch carson and his friends compete.
heart check up done! passed with flying colors.
this kid...he has the best sense of humor. he would pretend he needed his walker just to then run away from the poor kid trying to keep up with him.
two second place finishes for this kid, and that is with some bum knees healing from arthritis. way to go buddy!
april is also full of baseball for this kid. he always gives it his best and is still waiting for the day he can crack one to the outfield. he did get his second game ball for making an amazing catch (with his eyes closed, sandlot style) in the outfield. can you tell he was super pumped?
little cutie at the game
and because i hadn't gotten enough of the beach i went back down with some friends for a weekend of tennis and fun...lots of fun! it was much needed girl time laughing and hitting the tennis ball around.
um, notice neither picture is of us actually playing tennis. that definitely was secondary to beach and bar time.
and as april comes to a close i realize that there will be two other bodies home with us all day every day so shelby and i are trying to get our shopping in before two boys invade our space!
at target, one of our favorite spots!
i think i may of created a tiny mini monster
and welcome may. isn't this how you usually drop off your brothers' at school? girlfriend has got some serious confidence.