Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Emily

It's hard to imagine life without her! Emily has been a true helpmate these past three and a half years and has really challenged me to be a better husband and father. She's now finally the age I was when we got married!

In reflecting in our times together, I began recalling all the places we have been together...places that I can call "ours". The list is pretty strong in my opinion and she's made each of them more beautiful and more memorable: Lisbon, Portugal; Iasi & Bucharest, Romania; Riga, Latvia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Tallin, Estonia; Helsinki & Tampere, Finland; London, England; Tofino, British Columbia (Honeymoon!!!); Vienna, Austria; Rome, Siena, Florence, Italy; Kelowna, Canada; California (Rosebowl '06!!, San Francisco); Boston (World Series'07); Cape Cod; Texas (Austin--Hook 'em Horns, Dallas, Houston); Mississippi (all over but especially Oxford--Go Rebs); Grayton Beach, Florida; Nashville; Atlanta; St. Louis; Charleston; Aspen, Colorado; Deer Valley, I'm sure a few more.

Emily and I met in January 2004, had our first date in February of 2004, got engaged in June of 2004 and married on December 30, 2004. Yes, you could say it was love at first sight. She had all the qualities I was looking for in a wife: beautiful, excited about life, godly woman, loved to travel and she wasn't repulsed by me (a first!). She is the rock upon which I lean. We met while I was in seminary and that's the only "me" she knew until this past December. She's put up with my late night paper writing, my all-consuming desire to procrastinate, my obsession for the Longhorns and my OCD tendencies in house cleaning.

All this to say, Emily, I love you more today than any other day I've know you. I can't wait to see where God takes us next in life. You are an amazing mother and wife. Britton and I couldn't live without you!

Sunrays and Saturdays
Perfect starry nights
Sweet dreams and moonbeams
And a love that's warm and bright
Sunrays and Saturdays
A love that's strong and true
Oceans of blue and a room with a view
To live my life with you

At Ruby Falls, TN & Emily tearing up Snowmass

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Out of the Woods"

Britton is quickly becoming a sturdy sitter. I am amazed at how fast he (and babies in general) are able to master skills. It seems like we just started trying to get him to sit up and figure out his balance, and now he can sit and play on his own.

We had a great visit with Britton's therapist yesterday and he showed her what a good sitter he is. He also showed off his pivoting skills (I didn't even know he could do that!), and his push-up, grasping, and object transference skills. She praised his social and cognitive skills, and told us that rocking and crawling were the next big skills. Scary thought as Danny & I have a lot to do in our house to accommodate a mobile Britton.

Anyway, the best part ... when speaking of Britton, she used words like "out of the woods" and "normal development". I can't tell you how good it was to hear that! It was the first time for us to hear the words "out of the woods" in a positive sense. We heard it a lot in the hospital, but in the context of "he's not out of the woods yet." And then, when we took him home we heard, "he's still not out of the woods ... we'll just have to wait and see how he develops."

We realized a while back that Britton's birth was so traumatic and his recovery so remarkable (and unpredicted) that no one could really say what his future held, and therefore no one did. So, we stopped asking what people thought. But, yesterday was a big day. Finally, someone who knows what they're talking about has said he's OUT OF THE WOODS! Yes, we may encounter small things down the road, but he is displaying normal development ... and that's a huge deal!

She told us that she and her colleagues were recently discussing Britton's case and she said they have never seen a baby with such a low Apgar who wasn't "devastated." Wow. It is so frightening on one hand to think that we might not ever have known the smiling, engaging, happy, bright child that Britton is. But on the other hand, his recovery is such evidence of the big miracles God has performed in his young life. We hope to be good stewards of the great miracles God has given us in our sweet son.

Here is Britton at play ... which really looks like a lot of work. He is concentrating hard on picking up his toys:

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Times in Chattanooga

We decided to take a last minute trip to Chattanooga this weekend when we found out our friends, Afshin, Meredith & John, would be there for a speaking engagement of Afshin's. We had such a good time with these great friends, and we loved seeing the beauty of God's creation in Chattanooga.

Afshin speaking at the camp. It was my first time hearing him speak in a formal setting. He is incredible!

Texas boys.

As you can see, Britton didn't get any attention...

Showing off his mad sitting skills.

Britton giggling at a picture of himself on Afshin's iPhone.

Just one of the hundred or so kisses he probably gets each day.

The soon-to-be Ziafats high above Chattanooga.

We decided to be tourists and do Ruby Falls (of "See Rock City" & "Ruby Falls" fame). I didn't realize until we got there that it is a waterfall inside a cavern.

Gearing up for our cave adventure in Ruby Falls.

Our little spelunker!

Getting some Britton-lovin ... They love our boy so much!

Looking up at Ruby Falls at the end of our cavern tour.

Here is the infamous Ruby Falls if you've heard about it but never done the tour. It is pretty cool ... moreso than this video conveys:

Tour outtakes...

John gives the "Russian" version of the tour:

And the "British":

John is a trip!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Little Monkey

Britton -- often & affectionately called "Monkey" -- loves to chew on everything. I was trying to take some pictures of him recently, and couldn't get him to turn loose of the fingers. I don't see any signs of a tooth on the way, but perhaps we're just around the corner from that. Who knows? I hear that teething is an easy culprit to blame all kinds of things on. ;o) Anyway, enjoy these recent pics of our personality-filled little man.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Giggle

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Photo Update

These days, Britton is ...

...loving to sit up in Mama's lap ...

... learning to use a sippy cup!...

... loving to sit up & play ...

... using both hands like a pro ...

... loving to pet & get kisses from Piper ...

...taking sink baths...

...and, sometimes is so tired by the end of the day, it is all we can do to burp him before bed!

Such a happy boy!

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Our Little Mover & Shaker

Good times in the jumper:

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Morning Outing

This morning we got up early and went to browse the stalls at Pepper Place (a farmer's-type market) with our friends Katie & Lee, and baby Weaver.

Two handsome little men!

You'll have to crane your neck sideways to see this one, at least until I can rotate it. But here is Britton & Weaver (aka "Lord of the Dance") in action.

**no babies were harmed in the making of this video!

Pooped post-Pepper Place.

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NICU Visit

We took Britton back to the NICU yesterday for a visit with all the sweet nurses who took such good care of him when he was but a wee thing. We have not seen Wanda, the NP who ran the code on Britton the morning he was born, since we left the hospital on Feb. 15. We have really been wanting to take Britton back to see her and to show her how wonderful he is doing. Apparently, it had been a rough day in the NICU, so they were all excited to see a healthy "graduate."

I have to say it is a really humbling (and amazingly wonderful) thing to be able to show your son off to the very people who saved his life. Of course, we know it was the hand of God that saved Britton, but these nurses and doctors were truly His instruments the day he was born and in the following weeks. I can't say how blessed we are and how grateful we feel to be where we are today.

Wanda, holding Britton, and Nurse Amy. Upon seeing him, Wanda called Britton "miracle of miracles" and said over and over how she couldn't believe how good he is doing.

Amy and Nurse Cheryl with Britton. Cheryl was also in the OR the morning Britton was born.

Britton loved touching Amy's face.

Dara, Wanda, Britton & Danny

Needless to say, our visit to the NICU was a sweet time with all the nurses!

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