Christmas 2014 in Pictures

I have so many drafts of posts in process (including Emmy’s 11 months and 12 months posts) but I wanted to get this special post up. We have enjoyed Christmas 2014 so very much, and we are SO thankful for everything that has transpired this season and every day in 2014. It has been an incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding and wonderful year. So I wanted to do a quick “post in pictures” of all our happenings from December 9 through to the New Year!

December 9, 2014 – I completed and passed my final summative piece of PA school, confirming my ability to walk with my class during graduation and long white coat ceremonies, despite having one rotation left. THIS was a very big deal to me – I started with my class in August 2012, and I was determined to walk with them at graduation, even though I had to take some time off for maternity leave. And it worked out that way, Praise God! Before the official ceremonies, we celebrated as a class at Raleigh Brewing Co. complete with pizza and a slideshow!
1December 12-13, 2014 – Long White Coat Ceremony & PA Program Graduation
The long awaited day had finally arrived when I would receive my Long white coat.  I’ve come a long way since getting my Short white coat in August 2012!  I had no idea I would be graduating with a 14-month-old when I started this program but I am so thankful for HIS plans for me! :)

2December 14, 2014 – We played at Carter’s Playce for my nephew Dane’s 5th birthday party! Emmy insisted on sitting at the table with the big kids. She is so growny! The next day, we picked out a tree from the Country fruit stand and then had major toddler meltdowns with the strands of lights during the decorating process.  We also had some fun with them, too. :)

3December 18. 2014 – We had a family fun day! We started out the day in Bass Pro Shops to get our picture taken with Santa.  This was our third attempt at meeting/sitting with Santa, and it was the third time Emmy hated it!  Bless her heart. She loved the shopping though, and tried to pick up a little electric four wheeler all by herself. Tough Girl!

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After Bass Pro shops, we headed to Marbles Kids Museum!  It was Emmy’s first trip to Marbles, and she loved it!  She especially loved the little mini corvette, the bassinets with the babies and blankets (she kept taking wrapping them up) and the painting area!

5Since this was my first time to marbles, I had no idea that Keith Norval painted the stools in the creative arts area! I LOVE him and even own one of his pieces!

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The following days were filled with more shopping, taking home our sweet crafts from daycare, our first Christmas celebration at the Pearson Open House and mommy practicing some of her clinical skills on Emmy.

6December 21, 2014 – Emmy was an angel in the church Christmas play.  Last year she was Baby Jesus.  We were even more proud of this year’s performance!

IMG_0656December 24, 2014 – We celebrated Christmas Eve with Gigi, Aunt Lindsey, Scott, cousins Karis and Brannon, Aunt Joanna and Uncle Drake and then Christmas Eve night we celebrated with the Sullivan clan!  It was such a fun day/night and Emmy loved all the attention, food, and time with family.  I loved seeing Dustin’s face as he opened a new lens from his mom!  He got so excited and was completely surprised.  The best :)

7December 25, 2014 – Merry Christmas!  We celebrated with our little family by opening gifts and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, then we went to my parent’s for lunch and dinner.  Emmy had so much fun playing with her cousin Dane!

8December 26-28, 2014 – We went to the Valley Creek Lights show in Clayton and Emmy was mesmerized! We also spent the days after Christmas lounging, spending time with family, and celebrating cousin North’s baby dedication! We even got a chance to cook some of the ribeye steaks we won in Dirty Santa :)

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We have loved these last few days together before going back to my FINAL rotation and back to work for Dustin.  I’ve had two additional job interviews during my time off so I’m praying for that situation as well!  We spent New Years Eve riding around on our new golf cart (so fun) and went to dinner at Kobe where Emmy devoured her hibachi chicken and shrimp.  She is a good little eater!  I also cherish the time we spent with friends over the holidays, including my dear friends Matt and Amy who live in Baltimore but were in town for the holidays, and my sweet friend Averi and her almost one-year-old Georgia Mac!

1011In many ways I am sad to see this year go.  I loved watching Emmy grow up from a baby to a little toddler over the last few months and I am going to miss these milestones, for sure.  But we also look forward to what 2015 will bring and pray for health, happiness and a peace that can only come from Jesus!

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Letter to Emmy

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My darling Emerson Mae,

We celebrated your first birthday as a family this weekend and it was so much fun! I know your favorite part was having all your little cousins and friends to run and play with on your “new and improved” jungle gym set that your Granddaddy made for you. You laughed and walked as fast as your newly walking legs could take you.

I can’t believe you were born one year ago today. It was so vivid, and a little bit of a blur all at the same time. I will never forget the morning you were born. You were born by an elective cesarean section, as recommended by our obstetrician. We arrived at the hospital the morning of my surgery and I could tell your daddy was scared as we parked the car. I was ready to meet you, but he was so worried about what could happen if something went wrong. We cried as your daddy covered us all with prayer, right there in the parking lot of the hospital. But I wasn’t scared, little one. God gave me such a beautiful peace that morning. So I prayed that He would give that to your daddy, too.

As we went through registration and made our way to the pre-op holding area, I changed into my hospital gown and had IV fluids started. I think my prayers were answered, as your daddy started getting very goofy and giddy with excitement while we were in holding. He started taking pictures of EVERYTHING! He didn’t want to miss a thing. I just wanted it all to hurry up so I could meet you… :)

Eventually, I said goodbye to your daddy and he was taken to the room next to the OR where he waited for you to be delivered. As soon as your daddy had to leave me, I started to panic. I was terrified. I started shaking and crying on the table. I knew what to expect as our doctors and nurses had explained everything, multiple times. But the fear was overwhelming. We had an angel of a CRNA that helped to keep me as calm as possible and explained everything that was happening as it occurred. Soon your daddy came back into the OR and my tears would not stop, even with him by my side. When the surgeon asked me if I was ready to see you, I excitedly said “yes!!” and he lifted you out of my tummy. Every bit of my fear was washed away the moment I saw you.

You came into this world screaming!  Your cries were so loud, but so, so beautiful to us. I remember one of the nurses commented that you had a “powerful” set of lungs! You screamed the entire time the nurses washed you, weighed you, and checked your vitals. You screamed so much, until finally they placed you near my face while the surgeon closed my incision, and I finally got to say “hello.” When you heard me speaking to you for the first time, you stopped crying completely! It was the most amazing moment for me. I knew you knew exactly who I was. You knew I was your mommy, and I knew you were going to change my life completely.

You were born on the first day of the NC state fair last year, and so each night we were in the hospital, we excitedly watched the amazing fireworks show from our hospital room window. Your daddy and I have watched the NC state fair fireworks show together every year since 2009. It was like the Lord was giving us our own mini celebration each night! You had so many visitors in the hospital – so many family members that drove over an hour to meet you in all your precious, new baby glory.  You had us all wrapped around your sweet finger from day one!

Once we finally brought you home, I was kind of a mess the first few weeks you were in our life. I was terrified I couldn’t take care of you as well as you needed me too. I felt overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, emotional, and exhausted 24/7. Your daddy stayed home with us for the first week. When he went back to work, your GiGi came over our first day alone together and she helped me so much. I cried when your daddy left, cried when GiGi got there, cried when GiGi left, and cried with your daddy got home. There were lots of tears from you AND me in the beginning. Eventually, though, we got into a beautiful routine. You knew I would always be there for you no matter what you needed, and I learned to take care of you as best I could. You started wanting only me around, and I felt needed and loved by you. That made me happier and more confident that I could take care of you! We had a wonderful 11 weeks together on maternity leave before I went back to school and I will never forget that special time with you.

This past year has been an absolute whirlwind! It has been so wonderful to watch you grow and develop your own little personality. I felt like we both met milestone after milestone because you were growing with me through clinical rotations. Every one of my preceptors have been impressed by you being in my life during school, and they all grew to know and love you through all the hundreds of pictures I share of you each day. You were also a huge hit when you were still in my belly when I was on rotation, and you were given so many gifts from patients! The Lord knew just what He was doing by sending you to your daddy and me when He did. You have given me so much determination, focus, and drive to get through PA school. Not to mention that because of you, I could truly empathize with my OB patients, and in being a patient in general. You are my very best motivator and have pushed mommy to get through some very difficult times! I couldn’t have made it through school without you, your daddy, and the favor of the Lord, and I thank you for that sweet girl.

My little Emmy, I love you so much and look forward to all of the “next steps” with you. Yes, your first birthday has made me miss all of our time together when you were a tiny baby. But this life is so fleeting, that we should dare not spend more time in the past than the precious gift we have been given to live life in the present. You are such a light in our world and a joy in our home. You are the most amazing little girl, and a most precious child of GOD!  Your daddy and I are so blessed to have you in our lives. We cannot wait to watch you learn and grow, and pray you will grow through this life being friends with Jesus and teaching others about that friendship, too. We have so many things we want to teach you, yet you teach us something new every single day.  I pray you always keep your “powerful set of lungs” by speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves, and showing the love of Christ to all those around you. Above all, I hope you always feel how much you are LOVED. Happy FIRST birthday, beautiful girl. We can’t wait to celebrate every day with you!

I love you little Goosey.

Mommy

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Mnemonics

A few Mnemonics by the Stately Lady and the Tar Heel:

Pertaining to my trip – We first packed in the A/C for our trip to see my cousin in AL.  We plan to stop by ANn ARbor to see her canARY.  While we were there we accidentally stepped on a sEAL.  It was ICky.  Our objectIVE was to remove it’s TICk.

When taking ECTstacy in ASIA you might get pregnant which causes stretching and dilation.

Having a nEMESIS makes you want to vomit.

If I want my sister to stop leaving, I tell her to “STAy, SIS.”

Yes, it’s been a while since I had Medical Terminology in undergrad and my prefixes and suffixes needed some review after such an extended break.  Fortunately for me, my sweet Tar Heel is quizzing me every night and helping me create the most bizarre yet memorable mnemonic devices.  We have a lot of fun creating these stories.  To date, my favorite has to be our story about -ac, -al, -an, -ar, -ary, -eal, -ic, -ive, and -tic; all suffixes meaning pertaining to.  His creativity allows the most outlandish, silly devices to evolve and trump my serious, less helpful devices.  And I am better for it!

When I think about starting school again this August, I often imagine being done.  Being totally done with school and starting life as a PA. Yes I am probably putting the cart before the horse, but it seems so attainable now, finally after all this time. It has taken me 4 years since I walked across the stage at NCSU to get my first degree.  And I have often wondered how and why my professional life went so off track from my original “plan.”  I always knew I would go to college and grad school; that was never in question.  It’s mostly that time after undergrad where things get a little hairy.  I set off to college to become a teacher, then pharmacist, then clinical research (that still stands) then back to teaching, then medical IT consult and now finally, PA school.

I am convinced this has to be one of the most convoluted routes to PA school imaginable.  But I also know my other more “unconventional route” PA colleagues would agree that this  plan B (and sometimes C, D, and E) will equip me with more experiences to be successful as a provider for my patients.  I have seen medicine from nearly every side at this point — as a patient, as a care team member, researcher, and most currently from a medical billing and administration perspective.  In a little over a year from August, I will start seeing my first patients on rotation. While that seems crazy at first, it also seems like the most natural next step possible.

I have to say,  looking back I now understand that while unconventional indeed,  my path has led me to exactly where I needed to be.  The best part of taking this journey is that along the way, I stopped walking alone and started walking beside my best friend.  The biggest part of my plan that was once missing is finally here, and I am right where I need to be as a result.  The Lord knew exactly what I needed to be able to accomplish my dreams and he sent the Tar Heel to me at just the right time and not one minute sooner.  I am eternally grateful for an omnipotent, omniscient and ever loving Father who gives us what we need, when we need it.   So, every time I think “I wish I was done with school” I remember that being done with school could have meant never meeting Dustin, or never knowing a career that would bring me fulfillment and joy.  There is a reason for every failed plan and I am so grateful for them. I love you, sweet Tar Heel.  Thank you for walking this perfectly imperfect road with me.

Love,

 

 

Happiest Day in Heaven

I truly believe the saddest days on earth are some of the happiest days in Heaven.  The celebration that awaits us when we finally go Home is something I have always imagined to be simply amazing.  I don’t know if the celebration is any bigger for some than others, but if that is the case then let me tell you, Heaven is a hopping place right now welcoming in it’s newest angel, Mr. Tim Ballance.  Mr. Tim is my sweet Tar Heel’s step-father and an incredible man.

We only had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Tim for a brief period of time, but in that time he has managed to make a lasting impression on each of us in a profound way.  His strength, courage and incredible compassion and wonderful sense of humor is what we will all remember about him.  I remember last January, just a couple of months before our wedding, I was lucky enough to hitch a ride down to Savannah from NC with Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kay (the Tar Heel’s mother).  It was their first trip down to Savannah to visit our house and the city, and that trip will always be one of my happiest memories.

Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kay made me listen to 70s on 7 the entire five hour trip which actually took around 6.5 hours because Mr. Tim didn’t really like to drive over 60mph on the interstate :)  Once we (finally) got to Savannah, the Tar Heel wore a sweater vest in honor of Mr. Tim.  Mr. Tim was known for his love of sweater vests so the Tar Heel thought it would be “cute” if he wore one too. We toured the Tar Heel’s school buildings at SCAD, and I was most excited for showing off our house to Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kay (even though I wasn’t technically a resident there until two months later).  We ate at our favorite restaurants in town like Soho Cafe and The Shrimp Factory.

The best part of the entire trip occurred entirely by happenstance.  The Tar Heel was driving us around Savannah since he was the most familiar with the area at that point, and for some reason I was reprimanding him on his driving and getting a little worked up.  He pulled the car over and looked at me and made a funny hand gesture and said mostly playful and partially serious, “Take it eeeasssy.”  After about 5 seconds of complete silence, Mr. Tim ERUPTED in laughter which created the most hilarious domino effect you can imagine.  Mrs. Kay started cracking up at him laughing so hard, and soon Dustin and I joined in.  SO there we were, on the side of the road, packed into one car and laughing so hard we all had tears in our eyes.  It was so spontaneous, perfectly imperfect, and hardly recognizable for the gift that it truly was.  The best things in life often turn out that way.

Even when you expect it, you think you can prepare yourself for this feeling, but you can’t.  Living in Savannah, the Tar Heel and I have been distant from facing the pain and reality of the situation.  I think we kept thinking we would come home to visit and things would be back to normal.  But I knew last weekend when I went to see Mr. Tim in the hospital that things could never be that way again.  I also knew at that time that we would be selfish to want Mr. Tim to stay with us down here when he was suffering so badly.  He is so, so much better off in Heaven with our Lord and all the angels.  But it doesn’t make things any easier on those of us he had to leave behind.  We love you, Mr. Tim and can’t wait to see you again.  Keep a good eye on us until then.

All my love,

Faith Like a Child

Sometime in late November,  I volunteered to coordinate the sponsorship of three children with Compassion International through our church, LifeBridge.  When a child is sponsored, the child sends an introductory letter and we received several pamphlets explaining more about the daily life of our sponsored child.  All three of our children happen to live in Dominican Republic, which is a place the Tar Heel holds near and dear to his heart because he went on a mission trip there several years ago.

When the Tar Heel and I started attending LifeBridge, he began volunteering with the Production team right away and I found my place in the Children’s ministry, called UpStreet.  I thought it might be a fun idea to blend my duties of coordinating Compassion International with the kids in our children’s ministry, so this morning we had our 2nd/3rd grade students and 4th/5th grade students write letters to our sponsored children.  I can honestly say this was the GREATEST EVER because the letters are just precious!!!  I have transcribed one of the letters I received this morning below.  I just HAD to share this.

“Truly I say to you, Unless You turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” Matthew 18:3

Dear Joldy,

My name is Lindsay, but most people call me Lou Lou.  I am 11 years old.  I go to Lifebridge Church.  In fact, my parents are the people who started it.  Before now, Lifebridge was tiny.  There were only 5 or 6 families coming to my house.  After we got some more people coming to my house, we moved to my school, May Howard Elementary.  We were there for about 2 years, then we moved to the Island YMCA, which is were we are now. I am in my last year of Elementary school.  I heard that you were doing really well in school.  Congradulations. I really like my school, and I am in the smartest class.  I am not kidding.  Everyone is at least on honor roll.  My teachers name is Mrs. Dillon.  She really likes to do science expiriments IN CLASS.  She is really sweet.  I hope your teachers are okay. I would like school a lot better if there were only nice teachers.  Another thing I do not like is the music.  At my school, when we go to the lunch room, they have to play music so we don’t talk.  I only know a little bit of spanish, but I am really interested in it.  There is a spanish club at my school, and I am the president.  I get to sometimes teach the classes!  I am also the president of the whole entire school.  It feel good to know that everybody knows me, like when I am walking down the hall, random people will say hi.  I don’t even know any of them.  I do have a lot of friends, but the most important thing to me is Jesus Christ.  I feel that he has touched my life in so many ways, like knowing the connection to talk to you.  I really hope you have let Jesus into your life.  He is really, really important. No matter how bad things are, He will always be there.  If you haven’t let him into your life, I would really think it would be cool if you would talk to someone or to pray to god about it.  If you think you are ready for IT, just ask God to clean you of your sins.  Also ask for the Holly Spirit.  He will be there for you always.  He will also be there to help you make tough decisions in your life.  You should also forgive any others that you have hurt.  It feels really good to be a brand new person.  People like you make the world go ’round.  I have really enjoyed this time writing to you.  I hope you will appreciate this letter.  Make sure that you and Jesus are best friends.  Keep him in your heart forever if you already know him.  I think it is cool that we could talk.  Maybe we couldn’t talk in person, but this letter should be enough for you.  Don’t forget about God or Jesus.  Thanks a lot.

Sincerely,

Lou Lou

Is Jesus your best friend?  If not, you can learn more about why Lou Lou hopes Jesus is your best friend HERE.

You can sponsor a child today with Compassion International HERE.

May we all grow to once again have faith like a child,