Friday, June 15, 2012

Where We Sleep

It is Friday, and that means that it is Show Us Where You Live over at Kelly's Korner!!! Today is all about bedrooms, so without further ado, let's get started!!!

Our home has 4 bedrooms, but one is being used currently as a therapy/play room for Ava. So here are the other three! I know that the kid's rooms are a different day, but I thought I would go ahead and share what Ava's room looked like after we moved in, and when the time comes for kids bedrooms I will share what it looks like now!

First up, our Master Bedroom!

Excuse the messy bed making. It was done in a hurry!

I was a sweet wife and let Cole hang the TV instead of the mirror above our dresser in this house. It really made the most sense!
 Next up is the guest room, which is now in the process of being transformed into a nurser for our second baby, due in December!
You can't tell in these pictures, but this room has 18 foot ceilings! It is a large room anyway (but the smallest of our bedrooms), but the tall ceilings make it feel so big and bright! I love it!

I know have sheers hanging on the windows. The bed has been in our family for generations. It is an antique iron bed that weighs about 100 lbs!

This is how Ava's room looked when we first moved in. I haven't painted her room yet because I knew we would be repainting for her big girl room redo, which is coming up in the near future!

Her changing area. Those were her curtains in our old house. We took them with us (don't worry, it was in the contract!) and I decided to reuse them like this!

Her reading nook that has now been changed up with a beanbag chair from PBK. And my sweet little naked girl down there! ;)

Hope you enjoyed today's tour! Hope to see you again soon!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Testing, Testing, 1...2...3

First, I just want to say thank you for all of the supportive comments that we have received about our decision to expand our family! The well wishes have been overwhelming and we cherish them! Thank you!!!

I wanted to answer another question that many people- especially those that have either had a baby recently or are medically inclined- have had for us. And that is...

Will we have testing done on this baby prior to birth?

The short answer: No. This was something we discussed at length. First, anything that would have shown up on the scans would not have caused us to terminate this pregnancy. We sought advice from our OBGYN, from our geneticist and genetics counselor, from other special needs parents who have been in this situation. In the end, the opinions were really split down the middle, and we had to do what was best for us. And that decision was not to do testing. Had we not done such in depth testing prior to the pregnancy, I might have reconsidered. But we did, and everything looked fine. So we just decided to leave it up to the Lord and whatever baby He blesses us with will be just that- a blessing!

Many people will say that they want to have genetic testing so that they will "be prepared" for a special needs child. I think all special needs parents get a kick out of this idea. I know I do! I understand the sentiment, but having been there, I understand that nothing can prepare you for the life ahead. It is definitely a "learn as you go" thing, just as typical parenting is! And the truth is, short of a very few conditions, anything that needs to have special birthing plans made can be seen on the 20 week ultrasound.

Some have told me they would do it for "peace of mind." There is an extremely high rate of false positives for the screening tests, and I just think that they would make me worry more, not less. And the truth is, I have peace of mind. I know that this baby- typical, special, or otherwise!- is a gift from God and a perfect gift for our family. I know that He won't give me anything I cannot handle with His grace, and I think that is one of the biggest PERSONAL blessings that has come from having a special needs child first. The knowledge that regardless of this baby's health, I can handle it, and I am going to love this baby as much as I love Ava, which is an unspeakable amount!

I have also heard a lot of "as long as he or she is healthy." I understand why this is said. My goodness- I said it COUNTLESS times when I was pregnant with Ava! But I haven't said it once this time. Of course, I *want* more than anything for my baby to be healthy and typical. But I am blessed with knowing the reality of life (yes, I said blessed). And the reality is that not all babies are born healthy. But you don't love them any less, and your desire to care for you baby exists in sickness or health. Do I hope and pray for a healthy and typical child- YES! But even if this baby isn't healthy or isn't typical, I know that I will not love it any less or want it any less. And that is the blessing in knowing the reality.

One a side note, please continue to pray for Kelce and her family. Unless a miracle happens, today will be their last full day with her on this Earth. They will be removing her poor body from life support and allowing her to go be with our Heavenly Father. This is just heartbreaking. But I am so thankful we can rejoice too. My friend Marc, a fellow AS parent, posted this on Facebook this morning, and I had to share. It is so very true and so perfect for Kelce...

A child who could never walk
Will soon run with across the clouds.
A child who could never talk
Will soon sing, pure and loud.

A child who could not say “I am sore”
Will soon forget all pain.
A child who will hear “I love you” no more
Will soon shower their love like rain.

A child who will never grow up to be an astronaut
Will soon spend eternity, soaring amongst the stars.
A child to whom a smile and a hug was all they ever sought
Will soon experience eternal loving touch for which there is no par.

But... It is a child that we will no longer watch grow.
A child we will no longer enjoy.
A child whose future we can no longer sow.
A child: someones little girl or boy.

A child.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Angel Wings

The Angelman Community uses a lot of word play around the idea of "angel wings." Some funny, most sweet. But there is one use of those words that none of us like to hear or use. One use that is devastating to us all and brings back the harsh reality of just how awful and unfair Angelman Syndrome can be sometimes. I learned this afternoon that another child with Angelman Syndrome, a precious little girl named Kelce, is going to earn her real Angel wings on Thursday when she is removed from life support following a long and horrific battle with uncontrollable seizures.

Thankfully, news like this is few and far between. But AS, while it is not progressive or degenerative, does claim too many lives. Lives of precious, innocent people like my Ava. I will never forget a little girl that died very suddenly the week that Ava was diagnosed. She had a bowel obstruction that was caught too late. And I remember being so, so scared that, as a new member of the AS community, I would hear too many stories like that one. Thankfully, they are rare. Sadly, they do happen.

I ask that you all please be in prayer for Kelce. Pray for a miracle. Pray for comfort for her family as they have made the most difficult decision and face the most difficult week of their lives. I do not know them personally- only from the online AS community. But they are so brave and have faced this with grace and love for their sweet girl. Life isn't fair. Angelman Syndrome sucks. But GOD is always good and always faithful. And while her earthly body has been ravaged by seizures, I am so thankful that a perfect, seizure free, AS free body and mind await sweet Kelce.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

About A Baby...

Well if you are not friends with me on facebook, you probably haven't heard, so here it is...

Cole & I are expecting Baby Brewer #2!!!

We are beyond excited and thankful to be expecting another precious gift from God, and cannot wait to meet our little Christmas gift! He or she is due Christmas Day!

I wanted to write a blogpost answering the questions that some may have- I know because I have already been asked by some. Everyone who knows me, knows that I am a very open person when it comes to Ava's condition. My thought is that I would rather people be informed and educated than stare and wonder. Usually what people imagine is much worse than the reality. And I want to be very open and clear about our decision to further our family as well.

Cole and I always wanted two or three children. Always. When Ava was born, we decided we would get her out of diapers before adding to the family. Of course, that changed when we learned of her diagnosis. When we found out about her condition, we were not sure if we could or should have more children. Ava is a blessing and we love her dearly, but we also did not want to jump into another pregnancy until we had all of the information we could get. The decision to have more children was not something we took lightly or rushed. So here are some questions I might have for someone in my shoes... I hope they satisfy curiosities and maybe put some of our loved one's minds at ease.

1. Aren't you worried the AS could repeat in this baby???

In a word, YES. Of course. Without getting too far into the genetics of AS, Ava's genotype (Del+) is a random, unpredictable occurrence that could not have been avoided. It is like winning the lottery. I am actually less worried about having another Angel (maybe because I know what to do with an Angel!) than I am about other genetic conditions or medical conditions.

I told my (wonderful) OB that I was so, so worried that there would be no heartbeat at the first ultrasound (there was a perfect little flicker!). She said that I will be worried the entire pregnancy. She said that second time moms always are because they understand the stakes, and I also no longer get to live in that happy place of "It can't happen to me." But I have undergone extensive genetic testing and have no markers or indications that I am more likely to have a child with a genetic condition. Beyond that, it is in God's hands. 

So of course I am worried, about many things. But I try my best not to be. Because when I worry, it takes it away from God. I have a "worry journal" that I write down my fears and worries in, then pray and give them to the Lord. That has really calmed me and let me relax and enjoy (as much as I can!) the pregnancy.

2. How are you going to handle a special needs child and a baby?

This is something that I wonder myself at times. I think all parents wonder how to handle a toddler and a baby if they are put in that situation! I have sought advice and wisdom from other special needs parents with younger children, and the resounding answer I have heard is that subsequent children are the most amazing thing that can happen to a special needs family. They provide joy and healing in a very difficult stage of life, and they also help balance focus a bit for the family. When you have a special needs child (and ONLY a special needs child), things like your marriage and your personal sanity tend to get put on the back burner some. Having another child can add some balance to that equation and provide a sense of normalcy where one was lacking before.

The other thing is that while Ava is more challenging than a typical 2 year old in some ways, she is also easier than a typical 2 year old in some ways. Her "fits" last usually only a minute. She is sweet and loving and pretty much goes with the flow. The most difficult part right now is the physical aspect of it. But thankfully Cole is home to help with that- and he bought me a minivan so I don't have to bend over so much to get her in the car! It is WONDERFUL! And we have AMAZING family support from our parents and my sister that I know if we ever need help (and we will!), there will be someone right there.

Bottom line: Babies are always a blessing. Where there is a will, there is a way!

3. Am I worried to have Ava around the baby?

Well obviously they won't be left alone together! HA! But no, I am not worried that she will be too rough with the baby. Our poor dogs have been the lesson on that one- she now understands (through many whimpers and yelps of our puppies) the meaning of "gentle" and "sweet." I think she will be a WONDERFUL big sister. Except when she steals the baby's paci. I am considering using a totally different type of paci just to avoid that scenario all together!

4. With all of these concerns and unknowns, why did you decide to have more children?

Like I said, Cole and I always wanted more children. But when we learned of Ava's condition, more children became a bigger priority. Unless a medical breakthrough happens, Ava will always need someone to look after her needs and make sure she is taken care of. While Cole and I are doing our best to make sure this happens financially, we will not physically always be around. A sibling can provide that support long after we are gone.

Another factor was our own healing. Any child is a blessing, but having one with a genetic condition creates a great sorrow and hurt in your heart. There are many emotions and sometimes you wonder if you will ever stop crying, hurting, or mourning for your child. But I have been told time and again that another child will help heal those wounds. And I am really looking forward to that.

A second (and hopefully one day, a third) child may also be the best thing for Ava. We have been told by countless other AS families that subsequent children often spark development and encourage growth in an Angel. There are stories of Angels walking just days after mom and dad bring home a sibling. It will be really exciting to see the things Ava does when she is a big sister!

All of these things may sound selfish. But they are not. These are all secondary to the fact that we wanted more children because we feel like we have more love to give! We know we can provide and support another child, and give him or her a happy, loving, and stable home with loving parents and an amazing and special big sister! We love our little Brewer baby so much already, and cannot wait to introduce him/her to the world! What a special little baby he/she is!!!

I hope that I answered some questions you may have about this baby. But if I didn't, please feel free to email me and ask whatever you want. I really do want to be open and help others understand our decision and our hearts.

Friday, June 8, 2012

SUWYL: Kitchen Edition

This is linked up to the Show Us Where You Live Home Tour at Kelly's Korner!

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. In our case, it is not only the heart, but the hub as well! Command center, gathering place, where all things gather.... it is a busy place! But I love love love it and it is really one of the things that made me fall in love with this house almost exactly a year ago when I first saw the online pictures! Thankfully, I could see past the ugly counter top, wallpaper, and back splash! HA! On to the tour!!!

First, lets take a look back at how it looked prior to us moving in...

Like you stepped into 1997...

That wallpaper was AWFUL!

This was after moving in, but prior to our kitchen update. We were shopping for granite for several months. Back splash tile took even longer!

The "cooking" side of the kitchen.

This is how the eating area looked for a long time. The window treatments were just something I threw up there while I decided what I wanted to do. Notice the new light fixture!

Other side- the window came from an historic home in down town Little Rock.
 And the AFTER pictures!!!
We ended up going with a darker back splash tile because of the white cabinets. I love how it turned out! The accent tile is the same that we used on the fireplace (you can see it in last weeks post about Living Rooms!)

The bar stools are Ballard Designs. I had bought some knockoffs at Garden Ridge, and the first time my husband (who is NOT a big man) sat in one, it pretty much collapsed under him. Lesson learned.

I have a few roosters around because I wanted a very subtle french country feel. The basket is where we keep our fruit-apples, oranges, peaches- It was a thrift store find for 3.00!!!

Love my gas cook top! I want to replace or paint the red accessories. We had red accents in our old house, but now we are moving to more light colors and blues.

Focal point above the sink. Love how this turned out! I also replaced all of the brushed nickle hardware (in the whole house) with the oil rubbed bronze.

Looking in from the dining room. We still have a few left over white appliances, but we are waiting until they die to replace them. But we love having a trash compactor! All of the kitchen rugs came from Target- both the red ones before and the blue/tan ones after.

That double oven is about 15 years old, and the display is a little hard to read. But my mom says it cooks more evenly than her fancy KitchenAid ones! So yay for 15 year old whirlpool ovens! HAHA!

A few more roosters...and the baby monitor!

I totally copied this from Pinterest. Sorry for the person who was trying to sell them- but I like mine better!

We added glass over the table- our two year old was ruining the finish!

And the most recent change is the window treatments. I made these with some fabric I found on clearance. There was just enough and it was the perfect colors and pattern! I love it!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!!! Look forward to seeing you next week!!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Show Us Where You Live: Living Rooms

I am SO excited that Kelly's Korner is doing the SUWYL Home Tours again! I just love peeking into everyone's homes! I am just nosey like that! HAHA! So without further ado, here is a peek into our home on the first stop of the tour: our LIVING ROOM!

The main focal point of our living room is the fireplace and built in wall. I love that we are able to have our TV up there (and away from our 2 year old!) and all of the needed boxes and wires are hidden in the walls and built ins!

built in to the right

and to the left

We redid the tile when we moved in and I am SO glad we did! It was green granite. YUCK!

I am a horrid photographer. Sorry. But another shot of the center.

Tile up close. We used a stock glass and travertine tile mosaic from Lowes, and put it up vertically for a little bit of a more edgy/modern touch.

I know my curtains need to be higher, so says every decorator out there! But I like them at this height! I painted the black stripes on otherwise blah curtains. I am really happy with the results, but might switch out for the tablecloth curtain idea that is hot on pinterest right now, if I can find some I love without breaking the bank!

My cross wall :) The doorway to the right goes into the foyer and dining room

Looking into the living room from the hallway. You can see the kitchen and eating area in the background there.

A painting done by my mom's cousin. There is another one that is a little boy, and my sister has it!

Looking in from the dining room/foyer area

And my secret: toy storage in the built ins! Love it!!! :)

Hope you enjoyed this weeks tour! See you next week!!!