Watching Her Bloom

Anna's Newborn Picture

Photo: Julia Ozab

We have so many dreams for our children when they are born. From the first moment we see them—those tiny, wrinkled, sleepy, screamy, adorable little people—we imagine what they might look like and be like in every stage of their lives. We can’t help it.  We know we can’t know what will come, but we imagine it anyway.

And then we watch them bloom, and they are more beautiful than we could possibly imagine.

Anna jumping

Photo: Julia Ozab

Anna is eight-and-a-half tomorrow. It’s been  almost eight-and-half years since I held her for the first time, since I said “hello” to the little girl I only found out was a girl a few minutes earlier. Almost eight-and-a-half years since we named her and began imagining what her life would be like.

Some of it was pretty close. We knew about her cleft, and her upcoming surgery, and the possibilities of more problems and more procedures in the future. But we didn’t know about her apraxia of speech, or the years or therapy it would entail, or her future struggle with handwriting.

We also didn’t know how resilient she would be, how whip-smart, how funny, how outgoing, or how deeply thoughtful and caring about all of God’s creatures.

At a coastal viewpoint

Photo: Julia Ozab

She’s bloomed into an amazing girl, and she is blooming into an amazing woman. And while it pains us to watch her grow up, knowing that each moment once past is gone forever, it fills us with joy to watch her blossom into the person she is becoming.

The person God imagined all along.

Five Minute Friday

Bloggerhood Etc. 5/26/14

Color Guard

Photo: Julia Ozab

On Memorial Day here in the United States, pray for those men and women who gave their lives for their country, for those in the armed forces today and for peace everywhere. —Fr. James Martin, SJ

Now on to the best of the week …

Most Moving.Lace Seastrunk’s Inspiration” by David M. Hale at ESPN.com.

Most Thought-Provoking.The Cleft-Lip Smile I Never Knew I’d Miss” by Shawnee Barton at The New York Times.

Best Bad Photoblog.21 Disgusting Vintage Recipes The Might Make You Puke in Your Mouth a Bit” by Beej Rudd at Dose.

Best Flashback.What the NBA Looked Like on the Web in 1996” by David Roth at SB Nation.

Best Commentary.American Poison” by Robert Rummel-Hudson at Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords.

Best Question.Wearing a Crucifix” by Richard Beck at Experimental Theology.

Best List.101 Ideas for Keeping Your Child with Special Needs Busy All Summer” by Sandra Peoples at Not Alone.

Best Metaphor.Klingon Christians and Their Gospel Coalitions” by Morgan Guyton at Mercy Not Sacrifice.

Best Guest Post.An Unexpected Gift from Autism and Parenting” by Natalia Erehnah at Your Beautiful Child.

Best Advice.You Can’t Find God” by Tamára Lunardo at Tamára Out Loud.

Smoothest.Young Fan Gives Decoy Ball to Young Lady” by MLB.TV (via YouTube).

“That is the play of the game!”

Bloggerhood Etc. 2/17/14

What is beautiful

From a 1981 LEGO ad (Image via Women You Should Know)

Happy Presidents’ Day. Here’s the best of the week.

Best Flashback.The Little Girl from the 1981 LEGO Ad is All Grown Up, and She’s Got Something to Say” by Lori Day at Women You Should Know.

Best List.Westminster Dog Rankings, 2014: Another Tough Year for Spaniels” by Spencer Hall at SB Nation.

Best NSFW Rant.F**k that Sh***y Coloring Book” by Lucky Shirt at Medium.

Best Manifesto.Frank Lloyd Wright’s 10-point Manifesto for His Apprentices” by Gretchen Ruben at The Happiness Project.

Best Homily.Sermon on that special class of salty, light-bearing people to whom Jesus preaches” by Nadia Bolz-Weber at Sarcastically Lutheran.

Most Encouraging.Cleft palate, bullying overcome by beauty pageant contestant” at CBC News.

Best Q and A (tie). Savage and Trust Unplugged: Cross-Sex Friendship” by Natalie Trust at her blog, and “Trust and Savage Unplugged: Cross-Sex Friendships” by Aaron Smith at Cultural Savage.

Best Advice.12 Habits of Highly Effective Stay-At-Home Dads” by Chris Routly at The Daddy Doctrines.

Best Video.Fix Your Grammar” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

“You keep using that word …”

She is Our Star

Our Star - Anna

She is seven and a half. She insists on adding “and a half.”

She is in second grade—starting a new school, and settling right in.

She isn’t shy. She’s never been shy. Even as a baby, she never had stranger anxiety.

She never thinks about the tiny scar on her lip from her cleft lip surgery. Neither do we anymore. No one else even notices. She has never been self-conscious about it, or about anything else.

She loves purple, and pink, and blue, and red, and green, and orange, and black, and … She tells me she has twelve favorite colors. I think she just likes color. She is very colorful.

She talks. All the time. Even when you can’t understand her. She has apraxia of speech. She’s a lot more understandable than she used to be, thanks to years of speech therapy. She gets loud sometimes. She can’t quite control it

Sometimes she gets very loud or talks very quickly. We have to remind her to slow down and use an “inside voice.”

She loves the Oregon State Beavers.

She loves her make-believe dog Betty.

She loves her real guinea pigs, and she loves to take care of them. She loves Grandma’s kitties, and loves to visit them whenever she can.

She loves her toys, her stuffed animals, and her brand new dollhouse that she paid for with money she raised selling toys she’s outgrown at our last garage sale. She loves that she bought it herself.

She loves school, reading, learning, and science.

She loves us. We love her.

She is our star. And there is nothing we wouldn’t do for her.

“Our Star – Anna” Apraxia Walk badge designed by Kathleen Harris and Julia Ozab. Read more about the 2013 Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech here and if you’d like to contribute to Team Anna, click here.

Five Minute Friday

Bloggerhood Etc. 7/1/13

Claire Simpson

Photo: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Here are my seven favorite posts from the last week of June, along with my usual bonus video at the end.

Most Inspiring. “Guiseley woman completes 1,000-mile challenge for Smile Train charity” by Chris Tate in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus (UK). By running at least a mile a day, plus a marathon, half marathon, and ten 10k race, Claire Simpson exceeded her goal of a 1,000 miles, raising £3,100 for children born with clefts. Wow!

Most Moving. “Death’s Waiting Room” by Natalie Trust. I’m not sure why she is grieving (she doesn’t say), but I grieve with her and I pray with her.

Best Mom Post. “The Guilt of the Working Mother,” a guest post by “Isobel’s Mom, Bridget” on Momsicle. Living in Ireland, Bridget had the opportunity to take a full year maternity leave from her job in the semiconductor industry. Now she has to go back to work. Heart wrenching.

Best Dad Post. “Babies and Baseball” by Jason Duncan on NYC Dads Group. Okay, she’s really a toddler, and she had a great time.

Favorite Post that Taught Me Something I Didn’t Know. “Auf Wiedersehen to a Dialect”  by Katy Vine in Texas Monthly. Did you know there was a German immigrant community in Texas that has been speaking its own unique dialect, called Texas German, since the 1830s? Me neither. Fascinating story.

Post I Want to Read to My Daughter Today. “A Second Grade Intro to Fiction Writing” by Leslie Lindsay on Live, Write, Love: The Art and Craft of Writing. Actually, it’s a good review for writers of all ages.

Post I Want My Daughter to Read Herself in a Few Years. “Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means” by Rachel Held Evans on Q Ideas for the Common Good. An extraordinary post on the difference between humility and humiliation, and a must-read for both women and men.

And in honor of Thursday’s holiday . . .

Best Video. “Honest Trailers – Independence Day” by Screen Junkies on YouTube.com. A great reminder of why I hated this movie so much.

That’s two-and-a-half hours of my life that I will never get back!