Tuesday, January 31, 2017

get your game on!

How is it that we celebrated this guy's 10th birthday?  Double digits just doesn't seem possible!
Andrew wanted his party at a game place/arcade.  So we found one not too far away and it was perfect for a bunch of ten year old boys!
My niece-in-law made the adorable cookies and cake.
I barely did anything for decorations.  I just made a banner that said "Level 10" and brought balloons.  So simple!
These boys are at that age where they just don't care if I consulted Pinterest for everything!  They just had a blast!
The place served pizza and ice cream and it was all so good!  They did pretty much everything and it was very organized.
We had a private room upstairs and I had the boys come up 2 different times.  Once for pizza and once for cake and ice cream!  The rest of the time they got to play!
Can't forget this sweet girl eating her pizza!  She was kind of lonely without cousin Evelyn who had to come late because he had a volleyball tournament.
Luckily Grandma and Grandpa got to come join the fun too!!  And she hung out a lot with Daddy!
This is a view looking down from the balcony where the private rooms are.  Upstairs is also a laser tag area.  They have mini golf, trampolines with basketball hoops, a huge play area with slides, tunnels, etc, and so much more!
These are the trampolines.  The boys especially loved shooting baskets in there!
Then they also had these bumper cars!
He loved it!  And most of his friends all got to join him as there were cars for everyone!
Of course Daddy and Kerigan had fun too!  That's the ice cream place behind them.
Time for cake!  Crazy boys!

Afterwards they got to play a little longer and then cash in their tickets for prizes!
One of the best surprises was Andrew's best friend from our old town got to come join us!  I had texted with his family and secretly planned it.  Andrew had been missing Gavin so much and they had each written letters to each other.  Andrew couldn't have been happier to see this guy!
Andrew opened some gifts on the way out!  They had so much fun playing they didn't want to give up play time!  Ha!
A few boys had already left but I wanted their picture on the way out by the Planet X sign.
When we got home we had dinner with family and Andrew opened the rest of his presents.
Then Evelyn got Andrew started on his huge Lego set from Christmas and they almost got it done!
This was the first time Andrew showed this much interest for long enough to work on a big Lego set.
Evelyn loves legos so she was happy to get it out and get him started!  She worked on a lot of it and then he decided to join her! #cousinteamwork
These two kids are pretty much his whole world right here.
Evelyn and Kerigan had a little picnic under her bed!  Everyone was excited to spend the night and the kids watched a movie together.  Cousin sleepovers are the best!  And the grown ups had fun too!
Andrew woke up the morning of his birthday to his favorite muffins and a few decorations and gifts from mom and dad.
I brag so much about our school being so fun and the best school ever!  We still think it is, but we are a bit bummed out that there is a no food rule for birthday treats.  I ordered some game controller erasers, notepads and pencils for Andrew to pass out instead.
I think the kids might have been more excited for these than if I had brought food!  Ha!
I always love popping into his classroom (which is right across the hall from mine!) but this is the look I usually get.  Ha!  He's just getting too big!  At least a certain Kindergartener still loves to hug me when I come in her room!
We do have the most fun principal ever.  He takes a selfie with every kid in the school on their birthday and gives them a pencil.  He never misses one!
That night, Ga Ga and Papa came over and we had dinner and cake at home (Andrew's choice- he never wants to go out but loves staying home).  Kerigan was so, so excited to give him the present she got for him.

I could not love these two more.  My favorite thing is that they are both always excited to celebrate the others birthday.  They don't care that they don't get presents (we started that from day 1- no presents on siblings birthdays) and I think they are both almost equally excited on each others birthdays as their own!
I made him a chocolate cake and used the same decorations from his other cake. 
And just like that... 
He's 10.

Monday, January 30, 2017


My Andrew,

You are ten.

I am not sure that has officially sunk in for me yet.  Where has the time gone?  Yet at the same time it feels like you've always been here.  I can barely remember, nor could I imagine, life without you. 
YOU are life.
You are joy.
You are the perfect example of bravery, love, determination and HOPE.  Sweet boy, you have taught us the meaning of hope and faith.
(Your first surgery, 6 days old, 3lb 13oz)

It only seems appropriate in your tenth birthday letter to revisit your life.

Because it's been a big one.

My sweet boy, you now know what a miracle your life is.  You are old enough to understand.  You know how badly mommy and daddy wanted a baby and that you took an extra long time to come to us.  You were born in God's perfect timing.  Barely bigger than a beanie baby, you came into this world early, with a determination that can't be explained.  
Your start in life was rough.  But buddy, the cool thing is, you rocked it.  You have always had a fighting spirit that has served you well.  In those early days, there were definitely challenges.  But I like to think as a family we faced those challenges head on and chose to have a positive outlook through it all.
We knew we couldn't give up on you, because YOU never gave up!

We clung tight to the promise that has become your life verse:
I prayed this and believed this with all my heart.  I knew your purpose was bigger.
Andrew, I want you to know that we've never wished for your heart to have been healthy.  We've never regretted anything about your life.  About ten and a half years ago when we learned about your uncertain future, daddy and I made a decision to bring you into this world.  We wanted to give you a chance.  We knew it would be painful.  We knew you would endure a lifetime of surgeries and procedures.  We knew it wasn't going to be easy.  But we chose life.  For you.  For us.  

And you did it, buddy.  You defied the odds and you fought.  Oh did you fight...
And you came out the shining light that you are.  A light for the world to see.  To teach others to love Jesus, to TRUST in Him and his promises.  You see, it was no mistake that your heart was sick.  
It was all part of God's plan.  And you wouldn't be who you are without it.  You are the true meaning of a superhero.  You are OUR hero.
You have taught us and so many others what life is all about.  You changed me.  You made me a better person, Andrew.  You taught me to cherish every moment and you made Jesus so real for me.  Every scary obstacle we faced, and you survived, made me believe in miracles.
Because ten years ago at this time, I could never have predicted that you would survive.  I just couldn't look that far into your future because it was so unknown.  It scared me not to be able to think about you as a ten year old boy, but I just couldn't go there.
Every milestone felt like such an accomplishment.  You made it!  We rejoiced.
I certainly couldn't have imagined this day.  Kindergarten.  Another miracle.

It's all become a blur, but sometime between then and now...  I realized that you were going to live.  I let myself go there.  You taught me that your special heart was certainly not going to define you.  That we didn't need to think about it every day or let it guide us.

You taught us that that scary beginning of your life was only a snapshot.  It's a part of you that we are so proud of.  We are proud of your bravery, your determination and spunk.
But bigger than that is the rest of the story.
The time that you've lived in between.

The "dash" between your surgeries, if you will.

And buddy, you have certainly made the most of your dash!
From your younger years to now, your personality has remained constant.  You still are all of the things you were back then... the light in our lives, the meaning of JOY and LIFE.
You never give up anything you try!
You are the definition of determination.
You are silly and have a gift for making people laugh.
You are full of surprises and always keep us on our toes!
And you have some of the best facial expressions I've ever seen!  
This little face is one I want to remember forever- with your favorite lovey, Raffi.
You are ALL boy!
We've always said that you have no fear!  When you've had 3 open heart surgeries, fear takes on a whole new meaning! 
You love to try new things with confidence!
Taekwondo has been a gift for you since age 4.  It has helped teach you respect, and many other life skills.
You have been gifted with some serious ninja skills!
You have tried a lot of different activities and we are proud of your efforts!

You love to run and you are fast!  I would say running is probably your favorite thing- you may be a track star someday!
You even joined your sister on "bring a parent to dance" night!  It made her day.  And you loved it too.
You are the best big brother.  You adore your little sister and I love your bond.  The two of you have conquered life together and I'm so happy you have each other.
How many big brothers do you know that have danced with a real princess?
You always make the best of situations involving your sister- in this girly boutique we lost you for a moment then discovered you hamming it up on the dress up stage!  You always have a good attitude about doing things for Kerigan.
Before your last surgery, we made the best memories with you at Disneyworld, meeting all of your heroes.  These moments took my breath away and brought me to tears, sweet boy.  I will never forget.
You've swam in the ocean many times, and traveled to both sides of the U.S. and everywhere in between.
We love to "live it up!"  Make the most of this precious time we've been given with you.  Our lives are full... of memories, of joy, of LOVE.

A look back at all your birthdays...

This milestone will forever be engrained in my mind...
You turned 1.
Then we blinked and you were 2...


Throughout your life we've taught you never to be ashamed of your scar.  To wear it proudly and let it be a mark from Jesus.  A reminder of where you've been... and how far you've come.

And you have quite the story to tell, Andrew.  Always tell it proudly.  For ten years your smiles have blessed our lives.  Every smile has taught us that through every challenge, there is always light.
You have climbed many mountains and come out shining.
 And that smile speaks volumes.
You are living your dash- to the fullest.

And I couldn't be more proud to be your mommy.

Keep smiling, buddy.
You made it to double digits!

Past birthday updates: (One and Two are on our old Carepages site- someday I'll have to transfer everything over to the blog, but for now...)

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