Face of hope

Face of hope
Courtesy: TIffany Kay Photography

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Meagan has been free of seizures for about a month and a half now.  It's been a blessing because I've really seen her blossom, smile more, and progress.  Wednesday night, she had a seizure for the first time in a while.  Afterwards, I noticed her right side seemed almost completely unresponsive and limp.  Normally that's her stronger arm, but if I picked it up it just fell down.  I also noticed the right side of her face wasn't moving as much either.  She fell asleep.  After she woke up, she seemed to be feeling better.  I talked to her and rubbed her hand - she looked at me and smiled a little but only with the left side of her face.  The right side was still very relaxed, as was her right arm. I was glad to see her smiling, but she really seemed knocked out soon after.  She fell asleep again for a much longer time, and when she awoke again, it seemed she had more movement back in her right side.  It was the first time she's reacted like this to a seizure so I double checked with her Pediatrician.  She suggested I call the Neuro to see what they said. 

The Neuro called back ASAP and told us that it was probably temporary paralysis from her seizure, but, considering Meagan has spiked a small bleed before, to watch it.  If it wasn't better later on, take her in and check it out to be sure.  The day went on and she still wasn't "herself."  Yes, she would slightly smile at me, but anyone who knows Meagan knows she is VERY smiley - ALL the time. No cooing either, and she is normally very loud.   She also was more subdued, and slept a lot.  She still wasn't using the right side of her body either over 24 hours later, so the Neuro called again to check and upon hearing how she'd been acting, said to come in and get it checked out.  Normally, we would have waited another day, but, it was about to be the weekend, AND we were leaving to go visit family out of town.  I'd rather her see doctors she trusts than someone new in a strange city. 

We took her in and her right side was examined.  The doctor said it did seem like paralysis but they wanted to check the cause.  She had a small issue show up in January on the left side of her brain on her scan - this are of the brain controls the right side of her body, so we needed to double check it wasn't impacting the seizures.  The results luckily showed everything looked ok and there were no bleeds - so the doctor told us he was confident it was most likely still the paralysis from the seizure.  He said normally it will clear up in 4 hours to 24 hours....but he would allow 4 days to see any improvement.   Her med dose was also increased to ward off anymore seizures. 

Today Meagan has been content, but still not back to her full self.  She is moving her toes and some fingers, but still not flailing her arm like she normally does, and still not bending or grabbing with it. She did have another seizure in her crib this evening when I was playing with her, but, I don't see any increase in the paralysis, so hopefully it is still improving.  She only had her first increased dose of meds last night, so we will wait and see how she does over the weekend. 

I can tell this is frustrating for her because the spectrum of her mobility right now is movement of her arms! She loves to hit her diaper, bat at toys, and grasp her hands together.  I actually saw her today looking over towards her right side, as if she was saying "Hello! Please work!"  She ended up at one point reaching over with her left hand, and grabbing her right arm trying to move it.    It was pretty incredible to watch - her willpower is so strong!  I'm trusting that in the next few days we see continued improvement.  I'll be watching her closely...we'll see if the new med dose kicks in to keep any more seizures away.  Hopefully we have no issues while we are visiting with the grandparents.

Meggy, you are so sweet! BOO seizures!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

No Matter What.....

This weekend, I got to experience a wonderful thing. The 2012 Hydrocephalus Family Meet-Up happened this year in Nashville, TN, and we were lucky enough to be able to attend. It was incredible. There is simply no other way to describe it.  Seeing a lot of people face to face that I have been communicating with online this past year. Meeting other Hydro kids. Seeing my girls run and play carefree with other siblings.  Just enjoying great company, great conversation, and wonderful wonderful people for an entire day.  99% of the time, the talk was not about Hydrocephalus...  But it was just that feeling that the person you were talking to"knew."  Everyone there already had the "understanding" of what being a Hydro parent is.... so we could all freely enjoy the day with no explanations, no definitions, and no judging.

Meagan enjoyed her weekend

This weekend also marked about a year from the week of Meagan's initial diagnosis.  In the weeks following her diagnosis this time last year, I was scouring the internet for information, blogs, message boards....anything where a "real" person was on the other side... with "real life" Hydro experience. Not wanting to take the doctor's "doom and gloom" outlook for my daughter, I yearned for other people actually living with children like Meagan.  Here I am, one year later, and I was actually with these real people for an entire weekend.  Talking with them, hugging them, learning about their lives.  There were families there from Washington state, through the mid-western states, from Texas to the East Coast.  There were Hydro kids there of all ages and all abilities.  There were families there with no siblings, and some with several.  The best part of the whole weekend, though, was that none of that mattered.  We were all just people.  Just people there, with kids we love. Amazing, beautiful, wonderful kids, with amazing, beautiful, wonderful parents.

God always lets us know we are not alone.  And this weekend, I saw that first hand.  I always say Meagan's life was a gift to us.  While that is infinitely true, I see that through her, we were also given the amazing gift of our Hydro family.  And I say family in the truest sense of the word.   No matter what, we are never alone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Loaded Question

The questions I get most often are ... "How could you handle all that with your other kids? How could you handle a "child like Meagan?"

My only answer to them is..... How could I not?

Neurology Follow Up

Meagan had her follow up today with her Neurologist.  Dr. F was happy to see her.  He went over Meagan's records, scans, and gave her a quick physical exam.  He told us the following:

1. Meagan seems to be progressing well in her own time.  She still has quite a bit of work on her head control, but he was happy to see her stronger.  He said she is low tone, which is so confusing to me because Meagan seems to have almost spastic movements at times, so I don't know how they assign the tone quality.  I think I'm going to ask her PT again tomorrow to explain it better to me because it surely is confusing! He was insistent that she start OT and Speech therapies at this point.  He said if Babies Can't Wait cannot fit her in within the next month, he wants us to call and they will write a perscription so we can submit it to our private insurance.

2. He was very happy we have seen no seizures recently.  He is happy with her dose of Keppra - and she didn't gain that much weight. (She is only 14 pounds at 9 mos old).  So he said there is no need to increase the dose at this time.  He said when she reaches around 18 pounds, or if we see seizures again, whichever happens first, to call and they will up her dose. I was concerned about some stomach tensing Meagan has been doing lately, but it hasn't progressed into anything else more serious, so we are just going to still watch that.   Dr. F wants her to have another EEG sometime this Fall to keep an eye on her brain wave activity and see if anything else is going on.  He said we can schedule that at her next appointment, unless we see seizures pop up again, or have more concerns about her stomach spasms.

3. Dr. F went over Meagan's latest scans with us.  He said that overall, the brain growth looks good.  Her ventricles look smaller and he said, of course, that is a great sign the shunt is working properly.  He did say the shape of her ventricles looks rather strange, but he won't be able to tell if that has any implications until we give her brain more time.  He also said he does notice some, in his words, "funky things" in the front of Meagan's brain.  He said it is difficult for him to elaborate on any malformations at this time, and again, wants to do an MRI later this year to get a better look and see what kind of malformations are really present.

4. Head circumference - Meagan's head measured 41cm today.  It has measured 44cm, and then 43cm.  One would think a shrinking head is a good thing, but, actually it is not necessarily the case.  Of course we want the fluid leaving Meagan's brain and kept out from putting pressure on her brain tissue... BUT.... we also want her to have "normal" head growth, for her.  A normal child's head grows "x" amount of cm per month.... we would want Meagan's to grow as well, even though it starts larger than a normal size head.  The fact that it has not only stayed the same, but, gotten smaller, probably means her sutures are overlapping even more and possibly have started to fuse.  It also means there is not enough brain growth to push the bones outward and keep them from touching.  While she has had good brain growth, it has not been enough to keep those sutures from overlapping.  This is something Dr. F said we will go over with Dr. R at her next Neurosurgery appointment.  She is due for a 3D reconstruction scan then anyway, so being he is the surgeon, he will be the best one to talk to us about what course of action, if any, is needed to restructure her skull so it does not impede more brain growth in the future.

So, in short, the good things were:
- weight gain
- no seizures
- brain growth
- smiling, cooing, eating, sleeping progress
- gaining strength in her neck
- smaller ventricles

The things we watch are:
- old seizures recurring, or new seizure types
- weight gain (for new med doses)
- physical progress with therapies
- ventricle shape and size
- possible malformations at the front of her brain
- crowding of her posterior fossa
- synostosis of her sutures

All in all it was a great appointment.  We got a lot of information, and Dr. F, once again, took the time to go over everything we asked.  We are excited to see him again in 3 months and hopefully show him how well Meagan is still doing.  She certainly gave him her share of smiles today! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

80 days of trying

I will never say again I know what it's like to try hard at something, and succeed.  While technically I have done this, I've also had full advantage of my health while doing so.  And most of the time, things I have had to work hard for have been "extras" in my life; being a more competitive Irish dancer, being a more accomplished flute player, being a stronger woman by taking care of my physical health and challenging myself. ... and the list goes on.  But I've never really had to try to accomplish what most consider an "everyday task" with so much intensity as Meagan has had to try to do the smallest things.

My other kids all started eating foods at different ages - none of them are the same... and they were all very different babies as well. Some ate earlier, some waited until finger foods.... some walked early, some went to PT for walking....but, they basically followed the "normal" schedule of things when it came to what babies do. 

As everyone knows, Meagan has been nursing great, which is such a blessing. And finally this past March, we were able to train her to take some breast milk or formula from a bottle.  But as time went on, and she started to grow more, she became more demanding with her need for food.  We thought about trying food at the 4, 5, or 6 month mark, but, truth be told, she just wasn't ready.  She still had a very strong tongue reflex, and didn't seem to know what to do with the food once it was in her mouth. I didn't mind her increased nursing, or needing to buy more formula for supplementation, but I wanted to give Meagan a chance to eat and see if she could adapt to some food.

Not liking food. At. All.

 I decided in April what I would do, is rather than "give up" or wait until some "magic date," I would just keep trying with her, a little bit everyday.  Letting her lick the spoon, feel the sensation of it in her mouth, try drops of different food on her tongue, and spit it all out again.  I wanted to let her process it in her own time, and figured, one day, she was bound to figure out how to swallow a little of it. 

Tonight, she was starting to fuss - her typical time she was hungry.  I got some sweet potatoes out of the fridge and decided to try again with her as I do everyday.  I let her feel the spoon and the food in her mouth....and then the funniest thing happened.  No food came back out! I gave her another little taste, and this time she spit it out. But I put it back in, and waited.  No food! She had swallowed it! I was so happy! I grabbed my camera and fed her a few more bites.  She did pretty well! In the end, she ate about 1/2 ounce of food! 

Good job Megs!

So, at 9 months old, after 80 days of trying, Meagan has enjoyed her first meal of 1/2 ounce of sweet potatoes.  She seemed very proud of herself.  And if you ask me, she should be! Everyday is a struggle to live her best life... and she just proved to herself the famous mantra "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" Good job Meggy! Mommy is so proud of you!

Meagan eating for the first time!
(And yes, that is the Heat/Thunder game in the background.  Being that Brian's family is from Cleveland, we are hoping LeBron loses. :) )

Friday, June 15, 2012

Splish Splash!!!

Today we went to the pool with some friends.  When we got home, the big girls went into the shower and I gave Meggy a bath.  As I was sitting there cleaning her off, I had a total "I'm the mom of 5 kids" moment.  Meagan is almost 9 months old, and I'm not even sure if I have a bath picture of her!
At first it was quite hard to bathe Meagan because she cannot hold her body up yet - so think of trying to bathe your newborn but several inches longer, and several pounds heavier! She loved the water, but I couldn't figure out how to prop her up.  Then another Hydro mom suggested rolling a towel behind her head.  I dont' know why I didn't think of that ... we do that ALL the time with Meagan outside of the bath... in her stroller, bouncy, etc..etc.. to help stabilize her neck.  So of course it should have been obvious to do so in her bath! Ever since I've done that, it's so much easier to bathe her.  She LOVES the bath.  She doesn't kick and play in it just yet... but she just sits there and smiles, smiles, and smiles! She really seems to love the feel of the water and likes it when I pour the cup of water and let it run over her back, arms, and legs.  She doesn't even mind getting her hair wet! 

With my other kids, I have pictures of them in the bath as a newborn, at 2 months, at 6 months.etc..etc.. I felt so bad I hadn't taken that many bath pictures of Meggy! I think with her being in the NICU for the first month, things like that slipped my mind...she has plenty of pictures... but sometimes, in the most basic little baby moments, I forget to snap a picture!  Oops.. sorry Meagan!  So today, I grabbed my camera and took some fun pictures of Meagan enjoying her bath time! She is a ham!

Before shot! Crazy curly hair!

All wet!

Loving her bath!

Some help from big sister Kaitlin!

Monday, June 11, 2012

If You Have Nothing Nice To Say.....

.....then don't say anything at all.  This was a mantra I heard time and time again from my parents growing up.  It always made sense to me, but I honestly thought "why did I need to be reminded of this? Seems like common sense!"  Apparently, common sense is something that has left many people's radars, especially when offering opinions or thoughts on other people's family sizes.

Now let me preface this by saying, I do not expect to go out with my girls and stay "under the radar."  I mean, let's face it ... I'm a *fairly* young mom, I have 5 kids... they are ALL girls... and they are, for the most part, "stair steps" in age.  So when people look, or stare, or out of curiosity ask me a question, I truly do not mind.  Matter of fact, I do not mind answering or explaining to them about our family because I think too often larger families are either frowned upon, or not respected as much as they should be in our society.  Some people are truly curious, or in their own strange way are trying to compliment us, but the words just come out wrong or awkward.  And in those cases, I always am charitable in my response and try to be nice about it. (Even the obviously annoying questions or comments of "Oh they are ALL girls!? or Oh, you sure have your hands full!")

 I will also say, that, I have worked very hard with my girls on behavior in public.  I am no stranger to having walked right out of a restaurant, and yes, I have even left a grocery cart full of groceries when one of the kids misbehaved and my threat was to leave the store.  By following through on these occasions, as much as it pained me to interrupt my day or my accomplishing errands, it has allowed the girls to get valuable lessons in behavior and consequences.  It has taught them that a certain level of maturity and self control is expected when we are out in someone's store, someone's restaurant, or among other people trying to also enjoy time out and about.  Kids are kids, and I don't by any means expect my girls to act like they are 25 .... but I certainly demand they use appropriate levels of talking, do not horseplay or run around, and the usual "common sense" items we try to instill in our kids behaviorally.

That disclaimer now brings me to the point where I can explain what I unfortunately deal with *most* of the time I am out with the girls.  The following is only a sample (yes, sadly a sample) of the comments we often hear when we are out and about.  We have been at the post office, grocery store, Costco, mall, library, etc..etc.. the list goes on.... and no place has been immune from people coming up to give us their thoughts.  These are some of the things people have said to us, yes, in front of my girls:

Are you done yet?
Couldn't you get a boy?
Are you going to keep trying for a boy?
Do you know what keeps causing that?
Well we know what you and your husband like to do!
Have you heard of family planning?
When is the next one due?
Looks like your husband can't make a boy!
You have way too many children.
Why would you keep going?
Wow, you won't get to do much with your life!

....and in response to people who have asked about Meagan, while 99% of the time, they move on or just comment how cute she is, we have also heard the following doozies:

Oh I'm so sorry about her
And you still had her with all these other kids?
Isn't it going to be hard to give your other children attention?
That is going to be such a burden on your other girls when you are gone.
You are brave to have had a child like that.....

And one of my personal favorites was someone who literally came up to Reilly (my oldest), who at the time was probably about 6 years old.  I had the 4 older girls and was VERY pregnant with Meagan.  She looked us up and down in line at Target (OK, fine).....and then decided to come up to us, leaned over to REILLY, and asked her "Hey, go ask your mom if she knows what the birth control pill is...."   Now, if it hadn't been an assault charge and jail time, I seriously considered for a brief moment decking this woman.  I'm pretty sure I could have taken her... but... realizing that of course wouldn't benefit me in any way, I simply leaned over to Reilly and VERY loudly said "Reilly - it is VERY rude to comment on someone else's family size, how they look, or anything like that.  If you have nothing nice to say, you should always just smile and keep your mouth closed."  Reilly of course nodded... and as I looked up and made eye contact with the woman, she turned about 50 shades of beet red.  In that case, the "indirect" response certainly worked. I was livid she had not only addressed my child instead of me, but the nature of her question/comment was rude, completely age inappropriate, and demeaning.

Like I said, the true "curious" questions, although annoying at times, do not make me angry.  But these truly hurtful, intentionally rude comments I find are an unfortunate result of the general attitude of our society towards children in general.  We have a true problem in our society where as a whole, children are viewed as a "pain".... or a "nuisance."  We check off kids like we check off skydiving, traveling to Europe, or going back to school.  As one of those "things we do" before we die.  Is having kids for everyone? Not necessarily.  Is having a larger family for everyone? Absolutely not.  But it is important no matter what our vocation is in our life, that we always keep a clear view on the sacred position children should hold in our society.  Just as I would never comment on a woman with no children or with one child, people in turn should not comment on families with many children and no one should comment rudely on children with special needs.  We need to change the attitude of our society from viewing children as a burden, to viewing them as a gift of our future.  Then we would have less rude comments, more patience and appreciation for children, and also more protection of the "undesirable" children, like Meagan. . 

Now this post wasn't originated to complain by any means.  What got me thinking about all this was our trip the other day to Pataks, a local fresh European butcher where we purchase all our meat products for the home.  They have excellent products there, and being they are the direct source, their prices are much cheaper than purchasing meat from a grocery store or warehouse chain.  Because of this, it is really hit or miss how long you have to wait in line.  Normally I can take the kids at a mid-morning time and walk right in and out.  Well, as it happens, the week got busy..and I had NO time to get to Pataks until Friday.  Which was not ideal because Fridays tend to be very long waits.

 When I pulled into Pataks, I knew we were probably going to wait for longer than "a while" because there was barely room to park.  We walked up to the first door and the line was practically OUT of the building.  So, we stood there and began to wait.  Naturally, as we stood there, people began to talk to me.  I was waiting in line with the 5 girls, and Meagan had her glasses on.... so all those factors together always spark a conversation. 

What happened during our next hour and a half in line at Pataks was amazing.  Here, in short, is what I heard while standing in that line with my girls:

The older woman behind me said: Oh what a beautiful family. All girls! How special.  You are so lucky and blessed. I've enjoyed watching them while we are waiting in line.

An older gentleman who was checking out approached me on his way out and said: Mom, you are doing a great job. They are so well behaved. Good job girls!

A younger man waiting in line behind us said: 5 girls? Wow! I have 3 girls... we have a 3 year old and my wife just had twin girls. Aren't they the greatest?

A Navy vet sitting in a chair waiting for his wife said: Oh what a fun family! We had 6 kids.. all grown and gone now of course.  I've loved watching and interacting with your girls. (He was playing peek a boo and other silly games with Maura and Meagan while we waited).

Finally, we were about to pay and head out the door.  Another older man who was waiting behind us the whole time in line leaned over to me with a ten dollar bill.  He said "I just became a grandpa for the first time at 71.  I never thought it would happen and it has and I'm so happy! Please take your girls out for something special. They have been so good."  I told him congratuations on his grandchild and politely declined the offer.  He pushed more and said "No, please. They have been here so long and did such a great job. Take them out for ice cream this weekend as a reward." 

I have a rule where I decline once, but I will not beyond that because I do not want to come across rude.  So I took the ten dollars and told him "Thank you so much!"  The girls were ELATED. I told them as we walked out, "See? You just keep being good and sometimes there will be an Angel watching who will reward you for being good girls!" It was such a refreshing experience.

 That is the kind of feedback I want my girls to hear.  I can tell them over and over how special they are, but when others do not acknowledge that, or even go the further step to insult the family, it becomes confusing for the girls.   Reilly, who is now 7, has asked me after a rude experience "Mom, what is wrong with our family?" The fact that she would even ask this should be a wake up call to us all to change our attitude towards the littlest members of our society.  And it makes days like our day at Pataks even sweeter.  The whole experience that day set our weekend off to a great start. It was so refreshing to go out with the girls and for once, not have to deal with any rude or snarky comments. It was even more refreshing that people even took the time to go the other direction - and be very nice, respectful, and even complimentary of my girls. So if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.  But if you do.... go right ahead. You just might make someone's day.

The girls enjoying their ice cream treat. Thank you to the kind man at Pataks!

Meagan didn't have any ice cream... but she sure enjoyed watching the older girls!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Buddy System

My girls have this "game" they play sometimes where they talk about being each other's buddy.  It switches daily... some days the older 2 pair up. Other days, it's a mix of ages that choose to be "buddies." They probably got this idea because when we go out and run errands, I do encourage them to have a "buddy" with one of their sisters so we can all help look out for each other.  Reilly asked me today "Mom, what about Meagan? She never has a buddy."

The timing of her question struck me.  Tomorrow, June 7th, was the due date of the baby we miscarried.  I've often thought about that baby, especially around this date or the date of the loss.  Sometimes, it almost seems surreal.  I know I was pregnant.  I still have my positive tests.  I still have my blood test results from the doctor.  I felt the nausea.  I felt the dizziness.  I felt that 'full' feeling. I felt the fatigue.  But when a child is lost in pregnancy, especially the first 10 weeks,  sometimes it is easy to feel like we can't celebrate that child because the child never actually came into our arms.  I think this is something those of us who have been through miscarriage definitely have to change.  Every pregnancy, every child, every time a new life is formed, no matter how short or long that life is with us, it is a life.  And it is certainly worth celebrating. And worth remembering. Just because a baby doesn't make it to our arms, doesn't mean we weren't that child's mother. And it is important we as mothers acknowledge even the tiniest of lives.

And so tomorrow will go on as any other day. Meagan will have therapy.  I will take care of my girls.  I will do laundry.  I will make dinner.  I will enjoy time with Brian.   But I will remember that baby throughout every action because that baby was part of me.  It was my creation with Brian through God....our DNA, our hearts and souls. 

So now I can certainly answer Reilly's question with the only truth I know.  Meagan does have a buddy.  Her big brother has been there every step of the way ... and will continue to watch over her with love.  In keeping with my promise to look for the positive, now on baby Jack's 2nd birthday, I can truly say God gave me that pregnancy for an important reason.  With that pregnancy, I had worry, I had sadness, I had anxiety, I had discomfort, I had pain,  I had grief, and I had anger.  But by having to work through all of those emotions and the physical pain, God gave me gifts. The gift of strength. The gift of helping me prepare for an unknown path.  And ultimately, the gift of a special Guardian Angel for our sweet girl, Meagan. 

Angel baby, we will never stop remembering you, and will never cease to rejoice in thankfulness for God's gift of your life.  I know you are here with us everyday, by Meagan's side.  I wrote you a speical poem a while ago as a rememberance....and I feel ready to share it.  Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Jack.  Thanks for being Meagan's buddy. Until we meet again ...


I couldn't wait to meet you
to feel your hand in mine.
I couldn't wait to hold you
and sing to you at night.

I imagined you looked precious
Your eyes and your tiny lips
I knew seeing what God created
Could bring me so much bliss

But sometimes plans don't always work out
And things changed for us one night
I knew what was happening but I wanted to doubt
And my soul was filled with fright

How would I live without you near
This wasn't the end I'd planned
I'd wanted to see those eyes those lips
Hold your little hand

God took you before we could do those things
We didn't have any time
You were made to be an Angel with Him
Even though you started out mine.

There's not a day that passes by
Where I don't think "What if"
What if you were here with us
My little special gift

But I know that God has plans for us
Including our babies small
And your plan was to be with Him
And look out for us all

I know life has gone on for me
And things will be ok
And I know that you look down on me
And we will meet one day
We may have only had a short amount
Of physical time together
But you're my baby, and I'm your mom
And that's the truth forever

I will do my best to honor you
With how I live each day
And one day a long time from now
You will get to run my way

I will pick you up and snuggle you
And give you a sweet little kiss
I'll hold your hands and look at you
Your eyes and tiny lips

But for now sweet dear, enjoy the light
Snuggle up in Mary's arms
Let her rock and sing to you
And shelter you from harm

For in her care, you can't go wrong
She will love you too
For, you see, though I'm your mom
She is your mother too.

Although we had no time to sing
Or rock at night to sleep
I thank the Lord every day
You are in my heart to keep.

Monday, June 4, 2012


On Saturday, we headed down to the Summerfest held downtown Atlanta.  My oldest, Reilly, just started Irish Dancing (something I did competitively growing up) about 3 weeks ago with the Burke Connolly Academy of Irish Dance.  She was very excited and jumped right into her lessons with excitement! They were doing a little show at the Summerfest and asked Reilly to come dance .... to which she of course said YES and was very happy! It sounded like a fun afternoon for the whole family.

Reilly before she danced

We had to park several blocks away from the entrance.  We put Meagan in our old jogger and walked to the entrance. We made it to the Kidsfest area where Reilly was supposed to dance and parked ourselves in the front to watch her.  She did two of her Reel steps and did a great job! She had so much fun! It was great to see her back up there enjoying dancing!

Not bad for her first 3 lessons!

As we walked out, of course we had huge crowds to fight.  We were weaving in and out of people with every step and the walk back seemed like forever.  I started to look around and I noticed something.  Every person who was walking towards us suddenly got a huge smile on their face.  Sometimes they would talk amongst themselves or even turn to their friends to have them smile too.  I was like "What are they smiling about?"

Then it occurred to me... Meagan was facing outward as we walked forward.  The second people would see her face, they would smile.  Make a comment. Or give a sweet well intentioned giggle and nudge their friends who would smile as well.

I peeked over the top of the stroller and this is what I saw:

Now who couldn't smile at that?

As we continued to fight through the crowds of people, it started to get frustrating to me. It was hot. The kids were tired. As I started to think about the coming weeks, the outside stress of some family issues hovering over us  began to weigh on my mind.  But then I looked up and saw the sea of smiles we were now walking through.  No grumpy faces.  No one annoyed we were trying to get through with a stroller.  Just smile after smile as they looked down on Meagan's face in that stroller. Then I started to re-evaluate my thinking.  Yes, it was hot... but I got to watch my daughter dance and have fun and how lucky we were to have such a beautiful day. Yes, we were tired, but we were able to walk around as a family and spend time with one another. And yes, it was crowded, but seeing all the smiles Meagan brought to that crowd was something very special.

Meagan may have her own path, but now I think I know a little part of God's plan.  We are supposed to find joy and love in this life through His gifts to us - and what better way to express this than through a smile? And Meagan, even with her challenges could get an instant smile out of anyone that day. I know when I look at her, I just smile. It's an immediate reaction. 

I don't know why, but I feel Meagan is so close to God.  She is so pure and innocent and really has no choice but to find the joy in her days. What a gift that is. It is so easy for us, as adults, to get bogged down in the stress of daily life, or to let the little things (heat, fatigue, etc..) cloud an otherwise great day with our families.  I believe part of the purpose of special kids like Meagan is to remind us to not forget the joy and innocence of life, even among the stresses and responsibilities we have as parents and accountable adults.

Thanks Meagan for making Mommy and so many others smile on Saturday and everyday!  One look at you, and I know you are a picture of God's joy for us all!