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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gurleygirls

 

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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Glimpses

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This fall marks five years since Dustin and I began dating. Shortly after we started dating, Dustin asked me to go with him to his grandparent’s beach house in Surf City one weekend. He was so eager for me to go, I finally agreed to take some time off from work and we drove down one weekend in October when the weather was just starting to turn cool and well past the beach going season. I’ll never forget that first trip to the beach house.

As we walked up the steps to the house, he stopped just outside the door and said “Oh, by the way, you may want to know who you’re about to meet. My grandparents Mema and Papa, Mrs. Snow who is like another grandparent. Also, my mom Kay, cousin Jerri-Rae, her husband Robbie, my aunt Brenda, uncle Jerry, and my niece Karis. And my sister Lindsey and her husband Jarred. And maybe my other cousin Luke and his wife Jamie.”

OH BY THE WAY?! I thought. He couldn’t have mentioned I was about to meet his ENTIRE family on the two hour drive there? We had only been seeing each other for about two months at that point, so this was kind of a big deal. I stammered out a weak “O…K…” as we stepped inside. Lucky for me, they were all there! Literally, right there. Sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner as we walked through the door. Mema and Papa jumped up to greet me. I went to shake Papa’s hand and instead, he hugged me. He told me “Sorry if you don’t like hugs, but we hug people around here.” I instantly settled in for one of many delicious meals made by Mema and completely forgot how nervous I was just moments before.

I’ve always said that weekend was one of the weekends that changed everything for me. I loved seeing Dustin interact with his family, and it was evident he was in his element at the beach house. We had a great time fishing, eating, and enjoying each other’s company that weekend. More importantly, though, I caught glimpses of what my future might be like with this amazing man. And I fell for him hook, line and sinker. I couldn’t get enough of the love this family shared, and seeing Dustin so happy there was the best part. His kindness and genuine concern for his grandparents melted my heart. He was so sweet and so thoughtful. And let’s be honest – he was always sweet and thoughtful to me, but we were dating at the time. I was supposed to be treated sweetly and thoughtfully! How he acted towards his family showed me that his kind and thoughtful nature was truly sincere.

I also vividly remember how well he loved his beautiful niece Karis. She was just six years old at the time, and her wavy blond hair and constant smile was contagious. He acted like he was just smitten with her, and her with him. He picked her up and gently tossed her tiny little body in the air above his head over and over again. Hearing her giggle float through the air was the sweetest sound. Again, I was weak in the knees from glimpses of all that could be with his great man. That weekend was just the beginning of our story and I knew it was going to be a good one.

Fast forward to this Memorial Day weekend when I made the two hour drive to that same beach house once more with my sweet Dustin, now my husband of three years. This time, however, was even more special than our first trip. This time we had our own darling baby girl in tow, visiting the beach house for her very first time.

Yet again, that beautiful home on Sea Manor Lane gifted me with glimpses of an amazing life ahead with my sweet Dustin. Dustin was just as excited to introduce our sweet Emmy Mae to the easy going, love-filled life at the beach house as he was to share it with me that weekend five years ago. I was amazed that even though Dustin and I have been married for three years and we welcomed our sweet girl over seven months ago, I was able to see him in a new light at the beach house. And it was glorious. He was just so elated to share the memories he loved and cherished so dearly growing up with a little girl of his own, and it filled me with joy. He was so excited for her first boat ride. Her first sips of Mema’s lemonade. Her first bites of Papa’s homemade peach ice cream. Her first time visiting the Point, and her first swim in the ocean.  Her first visit to Sear’s Landing. Her first nap under Aunt Brenda’s tree. Her first walk around Atkinson Point. Her first night sleeping with the windows open and an ocean breeze so heavenly no restless baby could resist falling fast to sleep.

I always knew the beach house was a special place for my husband, but I had no idea how special he would make it for our daughter. He was so proud to show her off and to give her the experience he loved so much growing up.

On this Father’s day, I am reminded of these moments and all the ups and downs we’ve encountered in the past that brought us to today. I am beyond grateful to be married to someone who is so present, so loving, and so meant to be a husband and father. He is more than I could ever ask for – not just for me, but for my daughter as well. There are SO many more examples I could give of all the wonderful, sacrificial acts of love that my husband shows to me and our baby on a daily basis.  I can remember so many times shortly after giving birth that I was in awe of the man I married and how strong he was for the both of us.  I give all the glory and praise to my Heavenly Father for bringing Dustin into my life, and also for weekends at the beach house filled with glimpses of all that HE has in store for us. Happy Father’s Day to my love! Emmy and I cannot thank you enough and we do not deserve you, but we are so glad you are ours.

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With love from your gurleygirls

 

 

Six Months

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Emmy turned 7 months old yesterday! Let’s take a look back at her BIG sixth month of life. Happy Half birthday baby girl!

Emerson Mae had a big month full of firsts. Just a few days after turning six months old, she started attending daycare. We were so blessed to have Dustin’s mom keep Emmy during the day and my mom in the evening for several months before starting daycare. I cannot thank them enough for making my transition back to rotations in January much easier knowing she was in the hands of a loved one, and delaying our start to daycare until six months. I wanted to wait until six months when her little immune system was stronger and she had mastered holding her head up on tummy time. I am so grateful the timing worked out where a spot opened up at the daycare just before she turned 6 months after being on the waiting list for almost one year! Coincidentally, her first day at daycare was also my first day of rotation at WakeMed in Raleigh. It was a big day for us all! Fortunately, we both had great experiences and we continue to love her daycare so much! As it turns out, one of her morning caregivers is the same lady who took care of me at my daycare 20-“something” years ago! ;) I turned out pretty good so we’re happy with that!

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We had two more big milestones in Emmy’s life at six months. First, Emmy was baptized on Easter Sunday! Emmy was a little angel that day. It was so special to have her baptized in the same church where I was baptized as an infant and in the presence of our family and friends. We had a beautiful service and my sweet cousin, Beth, sang a gorgeous acoustic rendition of Lead Me to the Cross.  She also sang at our wedding, and we were so happy she agreed to sing during this special event in our lives as well.  Emmy wore a new Christening gown, but had on my Christening gown slip and wore the same cross I wore during my baptism.  She also had the flower I wore on our wedding day on her headband.  I can’t believe that three years ago this March when we got married, we didn’t know what our baby would be like or when we would even have a baby. But the Lord already knew her, already loved her, and planned her just for us.   We pray over our roles as parents daily, and we pray Emmy will develop a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ one day as well. Her baptism is an outward symbol of our hope and commitment to raising her in a Christian home. And let’s be honest: Raising a baby is hard. We cannot do this alone, and we are so grateful for all the support we receive from our family and friends daily and especially on that day. We are so thankful for their prayers over our little family. It was such a special day to watch our beautiful little girl being baptized and made me so proud to be her mommy, and Dustin’s wife. He is an amazing spiritual leader and challenges me to deepen my relationship with Christ on a regular basis. He is setting a wonderful example for our daughter, and I cannot thank God enough for bringing us together to share this journey.

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Emmy and her daddy certainly have a special relationship. I don’t think this was any more evident than the day she said her first word, “DaDa”! We were able to get it on video and it is the cutest thing ever, and I have probably watched it 50+ times. She is the BEST!

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Emmy had another first this month, although this is one we weren’t so happy about. She got a very bad stomach bug and we ended up taking her to WakeMed after she had gone several hours without eating and was vomiting and had diarrhea. I was worried things could take a turn for the worst very quickly, especially at her young age, so we went to the children’s ED and she stayed there for several hours until she was able to keep milk down after 2 doses of Zofran. Bless her little heart. It was so hard seeing her so weak and lethargic. I’m so thankful everything turned out ok and her body was able to fight it. I am blessed to be able to give her breast milk which helps her fight viruses and bacterial infections like this one. She bounced back after a few days and was her sweet, adorable little self before we knew it.

EM @ Six Months

Weight: 21lbs, 24inches.  95th percentile for head, 96th percentile for weight, 25th percentile for length (she’s chunky, in a good baby way!)

Firsts: Baptism on Easter Sunday, First word: “dada”, first time in the hospital :(, first Easter.  First time trying squash, garden peas, and bananas.  The bananas were a hit. The squash and garden peas were NOT!

Sizes: Still wearing size 9-12 months in clothes and size 5 diapers.

Likes: Rolling, almost crawling/pseudocrawling, and WATER! This girl is a bit of a hazard risk around water. She LOVES it. I am TERRIFIED for taking her to the beach this summer. I am going to be a nervous wreck watching her around the OCEAN!!! This girl is getting swimming lessons, STAT.

Dislikes: Squash, garden peas. The faces she makes when we try to give them to her are priceless, though!! J

gurleygirls

 

Saying Goodbye

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Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. My beloved puppy, Riley, was sent to heaven.  We were devastated to find out how much pain our sweet boy was in and amazed at his courage throughout his decline. Even though it hurt for him to move, he still met me at the door one last time, just as he has done faithfully for the last 8 years.

Riley came into my life in December 2005, at the end of my fall semester of my sophomore year at NC State. To be honest, I was avoiding studying for my quantitative chemistry final exam and had been perusing dog rescue websites. For some reason, I had in my mind that I needed a dog.  This didn’t make a lot of sense at the time, seeing as how I was living in my sorority house with a NO PET policy.  That didn’t stop my pursuit.  I saw this picture on the Wake County Animal Shelter website, and couldn’t resist paying him a visit. He was listed on the website as “Scooter” and as I walked toward his small concrete cell, the staff member told me he came to the shelter fully groomed.  The staff kept expecting his owners to find him, so they had kept him a little longer than most of the animals who were picked up.  riley1

I remember being startled by how excited he was to see me. He was full of energy, love, and had a sweet nature.  I was expecting him to be a little timid, or shy, but he wasn’t at all. He jumped up on the bench next to me and sniffed and cuddled, but never licked or barked or got too aggressive. Even though we had just met, I knew we were meant for each other.  I told the lady who worked there I wanted to take him home.  She told me he was certainly lucky, as in just two days he was going to be put to sleep since he had stayed well over the typical time allotted.

I made a phone call to my parents.  My dad answered, and I told him “Scooter’s” story.  I needed their permission to keep him at their house for the next six months, until I moved out of the sorority house and into my own apartment.  Dad said there was no way my mom would go for that.  I put down the deposit at the shelter, but left “Scooter”  until I could get a final answer from my mom.  Mom called back and said “No, no, no, no, no.”  In those exact words.  Somehow, by the end of the conversation, I changed her mind and went back to pick up  my sweet boy the very next day.  The rest is, as they say, history.

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Christmas 2005

There is no way to put into words the joy this little fellow brought me and my family over the last 8 years.  He was the most loyal, loving, and joyful puppy.  He settled right into our family and our hearts and we haven’t looked back since.  He went through intense heart worm treatments when we brought him home from the shelter, and he immediately captured the hearts of our veterinary staff in Goldsboro, One of the veterinary technicians even nicknamed him “Lucky.”  He brought a smile to everyone’s face.  He was a constant in my life when things were chaotic.  He was always by my side, during countless nights of studying, hours upon hours of riding back and forth from home and NCSU, and through all the ups and downs being an early twenty-something brings.  He always kept me company when I was sick and tried his very best to make me happy (which he was very good at).

It wasn’t until my relationship with the Tar Heel that my sweet Riley began to embrace someone new in my life.  The Tar Heel was initially pretty reserved about the idea of having a pet. He had met Riley and thought he was “ok,” but he was adamant that he didn’t want an inside pet. And even though Riley had always lived inside with me, the Tar Heel thought Riley would have to adjust to life “outdoors” once we got married.  I knew that would never happen, but I told him I agreed anyway.  Sure enough, when Riley moved in with us, the Tar Heel became obsessed with him and never, ever mentioned keeping him outside again.  It was shocking how fast they became friends.  After we got married, Riley’s “allegiance” shifted. He quickly became Dustin’s best friend and constant companion.  I actually believe Riley came into my life to end up with Dustin.  They formed a bond even deeper than the one I shared with my sweet little bear, and that brought me so much joy.

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Riley and his very first baby. I gave this toy to him at the shelter when I brought him home, and we laid him to rest with this toy by his side.

I held his paws and rubbed his little head and soft ears and talked to him about the wonderful loves ones he was about to meet in Heaven as the veterinarian administered the medications to put him to rest.  I will probably always carry some guilt with me that we had to make a decision to end his life.  But I am so grateful that I had 8 years and 3 beautiful months with my Ri-bear, and that the Lord granted us enough time with him  that he could meet our sweet Emmy.  He could have left this physical world 8 years ago at the shelter, in a room full of strangers and without the chance to bring me and my family so much joy. I am so thankful the Lord had a different plan for him.

We miss you, darling boy.  I hope you are loving your new home in Heaven and look forward to seeing you again some day!

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Dustin meeting Riley for the first time, Fall 2009
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My handsome boy at the Five Points house. He loved to look out windows and would do so at any given opportunity!
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One of his many rides home with me from college. He was always happy to go home to Princeton, his “country home.” He always knew where we were as soon as we turned onto our path.
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They made each other so very happy
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Best buddies