The Giggliest Girl in the World (and running with Laurencia)

Happy Spring Everyone!  Been busy planting flowers and whistling with the birds who chirp outside my window.  La la la, happy sunshine and rainbows.  Oh…wait…nevermind…it hasn’t cracked 40.  There are still ugly piles of dirty snow standing as wretched reminders of the WORST WINTER EVER.  The forecast calls for a blizzard some time this week. I don’t even want to know so I don’t check the weather reports.  It’s April for the love of Pete.  It’s getting ridiculous.  Everyone is crabby about it.  We’re about to stage a revolt around these parts but are too freaking cold.  So, until we thaw out, we’ve been making the best of our indoor time.  And that mostly involves getting Valencia to giggle, then giggling back.  It’s not difficult.  Girlfriend was CREATED to giggle.  This video doesn’t even do justice to her belly laughs.  I caught her after her and Daddy had been doing it for a while.

Last weekend I had just the 3 littles since Auntie Laura took the 3 bigs on an adventure (yay for Aunties!).  So naturally, we decided to put on pretty tea party/Easter dresses and pretend it was Spring, inside. Yes, those are bloomers Valencia is wearing.  They used to be Gabby’s!  Gabby, my girl who got braces this week and registered for MIDDLE SCHOOL.  Boo hoo.  Back to my tea party girls.




Polly had the idea of wearing tiaras and brought me this little doll tiara from her doll clothes stash.  I knew I could get it to stick in Valencia’s “hair” by putting her tiny tuft of bangs into a top piggytail and wedging the comb part of the tiara in.


It stayed all day!  Ah ha ha!  The ladies at the YMCA got a kick out of these three.  So did I.  The outfit Valencia is wearing is supposed to be a dress (3 month size) but it fits more like a shirt now.  She’s getting SO BIG!  It was from a very good friend who lost her precious babies to miscarriage.  This sweet flowery outfit was for her girly.  She waited so long for a baby girl and never got to meet her.  Ever so graciously, after Valencia and Laurencia were born, she sent this to me with a beautiful note about how she’s finally able to part with the clothing she bought for her babes.  She wanted a little girl to wear it and Valencia did so proudly, thanks CM.


I went for a run today and, of course, was thinking of Laurencia.  I decided that when I run it’s my time with her.  When I’m doing just about anything else there are so many distractions.  Even being at home in bed, I await Valencia’s cry to feed her, I wrestle with the lists of things I need to do the next day.  But when I run, I’m free.  I clear my head and get to make plans and “talk” to my girl.  She runs with me, I imagine.  Today when I was almost home I had the very distinct thought, “I’M SO LUCKY I HAD YOU”.  So lucky.  It was a big deal to me to think this.  It surprised me because I remember running while I was pregnant and I’d get so upset.  I did not feel lucky.  Not at all.  I wanted her to get to stay here, I wanted things to be different.  I still had so much worry and concern.  But now I realize more every day, it could have been different.  It could have been that I never even knew she existed.  So many babies are miscarried, twins, where the mother doesn’t even know there was another baby!  And so many babies don’t make it to birth.  But we were lucky.  We got to see her moving on ultrasound.  I got to feel her kick me.  I got to hold her and smell her and feel her soft velvety fingers in my hands.


I got to know her, at least a little.  I wanted more, so much more.  But for what we had and what we have, we are lucky.

I signed up to run Goldy’s 10 mile race ( in two weeks.  It was Laurencia’s godmother’s idea so she’s running it too!  The race benefits the hospital where L and V were born.  Amplatz was so good to my kids while I was in the hospital.  So many special little things they did for the kids to get their minds off of the fact that mommy wasn’t coming home for a few weeks.  I love that I can support them now.  I looked up the race course yesterday for the first time.  Get this, I will be running on EXACTLY the same street where I took walks every day when I was in the hospital.  L and V were with me on those walks.  How fitting that I can re-trace my steps in honor of my girl.  Her life will impact the lives of little ones at the hospital.  This makes me smile.  If you’re not busy, consider joining me!

And speaking of my Laurencia, her life and legacy…and of running…..I have a big announcement in the works.  Stay tuned.





1 year ago, 9 years ago


One year ago today I went to the doctor, on a super, secret special mission.  Only daddy (Matt) and Valencia’s soon to be godmother, Nellie, knew.  I was going in for my first OB appointment.  I was about 7-8 weeks pregnant.  I had gotten ultrasounds with all previous pregnancies so I knew my Dr. (same one for all of my kids) would do one for me again.  Some reasons he would do it would be to confirm my dates but other reasons would be to see if there was more than one in there considering I had twins before!  Coincidentally, exactly-to the day-nine years before.  My first appointment was on Wyatt and Anabella’s 8th birthday.  I thought it was funny and teased Matt that “oh wouldn’t it be funny if we found out about another set of twins ON the twins’ bday?”.  Little did I know….

We went through all of the routine as in other pregnancies.  I was SO EXCITED.  Dr. L was utterly unconcerned with my “advanced maternal age” and was as positive and up-beat as I was.  After all, my pregnancies were ALL a total breeze, I was SO HEALTHY, the picture of health.  I would always heal and recover within days.  I had this.  I was ready to go.  Then, as a last stop before me taking what I knew would be a cute little picture of a “gummy bear baby”–what?  I think they look like little gummy bears with the teensy arm and leg buds–home and figuring out the best way to tell the kids of our great secret, I went in to get the ultrasound done.

The instant we saw “the heartbeat” I knew.  What, I’m not sure, but I knew something was…different.  And Dr. L knew it too.  Rather than make out one little body and teeny parts, the baby looked funny shaped and had more “parts”.  But it was the heartbeat that told me everything and nothing at all.  As soon as he saw it he zoomed in.  As soon as he zoomed in I was sure, it was not one but TWO heartbeats.  But I had no idea why they were like that, so close together.  He said, quizzically, “Hmm, I can’t make it out entirely, but it looks like it could be two.”  They were fluttering at about the same rate though, so he couldn’t be sure.  His equipment did not have the resolution needed to confirm it.  They were SO CLOSE TOGETHER, they basically looked attached.  But something just told me, there were two.  I didn’t want to get too excited and I didn’t want to be too afraid.  Rather than panic, I tried to remain calm and take things one minute at a time.  Dr. L sent me immediately to Maple Grove (thanking God every day that he sent me there, some of my now-favorite people in the world work there) to get the high level ultrasound to confirm what the heck was going on.

I’ve told before what happened at MG.  I have it written down here:

When I was driving from our clinic to MG, I worried that one baby might not live.  I wondered if they were conjoined, I began to worry about Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.   And then I stopped wondering and worrying because no matter what my thoughts were it was all a big question mark.  As you all know, some of the answers came later, and some could only come the day they were born.  Today though, I’m remembering the joy and bewilderment we were fortunate enough to experience one year ago today.  We stood in awe at God’s gifts to us.  TWO sets of twins?  Two different kinds!  What the?  I could have planned and planned and never have come up with such an agenda for our lives.  But God has plans that we don’t always contemplate.  And sometimes we don’t ever get to understand here on Earth all of the “whys”.  All I knew that day was that I was blessed to be seeing my precious babIES alive in my tummy.  I am so thankful that despite everything, I was able to know both of my girls for as long as possible.  One year ago today I saw my Laurencia and Valencia for the first time.  Here is the picture I have of our first meeting:

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I love you Laurencia, just like I tell Lencie every time I’m holding her and kissing her all up.  I love you so much and miss you even more.  I wish I’d known one year ago what I’d be doing right now so that I could have spent every minute you were alive telling you how much I loved you.


Nine years ago today I got to meet these two, OUTside of my tummy:



Wyatt, 6 lbs. 7 oz. and Anabella, 5 lbs. 15 oz.  I often say it was the most amazing day of my life.  Except, I don’t really use the word “amazing”, the word I use is “cool”.  It was SO COOL ok?

We didn’t know if they were boys or girls or one of each.  Oh, how I dreamed of having a sister for Gabby and to get a son…well, that would have just been asking too much.


And that’s exactly what we got.  Wyatt was born first, at 11:11 and I’ll never forget when they told us, “It’s a BOY!”  We had a son.  Wow.  But before being able to really grasp that fact, I delivered feisty little Miss Anabella, breech, four minutes later.  Everything went so beautifully.  It has been crazy and wonderful and fun and loud and lovely having these two in our family.

They are presently sleeping next to each other pretty much just like in the photo below.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same right?

hatshosp  SONY DSC

Happy birthday to my first twins.  I fully expect to have another sweet photo of you, next to each other, wearing goofy hats, nine years from now.  I love that I have gotten to spend the last nine years with you and that you got to spend them with each other.

Just Lencie


Wanted to quickly share the only recent photos I have handy of our girl and give a quick update.  Valencia is perfectly perfect.  She hasn’t been sick (why did I just say that?  dumb), she is growing and giggling and making us giggle back.  She is changing so much now every day.  Finally starting to flip herself over and has started following me (watching me) whenever I walk by.  Then she looks at me as if to say, “How COULD you?”


So I usually stop and bury my face in her chin/neck and get a real nice giggle out of her before carrying on.

This Winter, for those of you who don’t live here and haven’t been tortured firsthand, has been HORRID, ROTTEN, MISERABLE and really yucky.  As in, THE WORST EVERRRRRRRRRRRR.


The kids have had numerous days off of school BECAUSE IT’S TOO COLD.  Did you catch that?  TOO COLD?  For Minnesotans.  Needless to say I’ve been keeping Valencia indoors a lot lately.  She hasn’t been to the dr. since she got home last October so I don’t know how much she weighs.  I would guess maybe 13 lbs?  No clue but she’s got some nice goodle on her legs now (chub).  It’s so different with an early bird, she really does follow in her growth and abilities as if she were born on her due date vs. her actual birthday.


Because of it we’ve gotten to experience the infant stage for longer.  While the not sleeping part is not fun, I love having my little baby to snuggle and cuddle.  Soon enough she’ll be breezing by me with no time for kisses–ahem, Wyatt–and she’ll be celebrating her 9th birthday just like my other twins will be this weekend.  I can hardly believe tomorrow she is six months old.  I saw that Valencia’s name was still in our church bulletin under “Please pray for…”  She’s doing so well that while we can all always use prayers, I have to take her name off.  It was a reminder of how blessed we are that we got to keep her here.  Looking at her and in our daily lives you’d never know that just a little over 6 months ago we had no idea whether or not she would live. I thank God for her every day.  My little Lencie…


Father-Daughter Dance

So I haven’t posted an update in a while…a long while.  I think last time it was before Christmas.  I have a big update I keep meaning to post but like everyone, things just get away from me.  In the mean time, I wanted to quickly show photos from the Father/Daughter Dance which was last weekend.  Every year the Knights of Columbus chapter from our church puts on a Father/Daughter Dance right around Valentine’s Day.  The girls really look forward to it!  Matt took all of his lovely ladies.   Here he is with the three middles getting ready to head out the door:


Loving on daddy:


His arms are big enough to fit at least two more in that hug.  Well, 3 really, but you know…

I crashed the party and brought Valencia just as things were wrapping up and the last 2 songs were playing.  She’s a daughter too you know!  Matt told me Mae ran around like a crazy the entire time and he was chasing her as usual.  The bigger girls danced their hearts out.  Most of the other kids there were cousins!


Trina, Analise and Gabby:


Rockin’ out (Lencia was taking notes):


This is my favorite photo but dangit, in my haste the focus was on daddy’s head and not her sweet, sweet face.  Just LOOK at that look.  Melt a mama’s heart already.


Gabby can make Lencie smile any time of day (well, most people can, Lencie loves to giggle!):


Swirly, twirly gumdrop Gabby, compliments of a NEW, sparkly dress from Auntie Laura:


Laura took Gabby overnight the night before and shopping the day of the dance in order to celebrate Gabby’s baptism ‘birthday’.  How sweet is that!?  They scored wonderful deals at the Outlet Mall (CLEARANCE TIME!!) and Gabby was over-the-moon about spending special time with her Auntie.  Bonus that it involved shopping 😉

Papa calls this type of dress a “Pufferbelly”, you can clearly see why:


Some of daddy’s sweethearts (Mae was chasing her balloon):


Valencia was at my mom’s when Matt first left and Wyatt was at Laura’s so I was home alone cleaning like a madwoman.  I am never home alone.  I stood there paralyzed for about 2 minutes wondering what I should tackle first.  Frantic, almost and trying to decide how to get as much as possible done while I had two free hands to do it.  As I was scurrying about I stopped and picked up Laurencia’s photo and the tears poured out.  She wasn’t at the dance with her daddy.  Dangit.  At least not the way we wish she could be.  I looked at her perfect skin, her perfect hands.  I tried to remember how they felt.  I imagined how it would feel to hold her again.  I don’t usually do that because it hurts too much and then I cry.  But since I was alone I just let it out and then got back to work.  Truth is, she was there with her daddy too, she is always with her daddy.  He wears this every day.


I never stop thinking about her.  I’m not sad all of the time but I do miss her every second, still.  She is her Father’s Daughter just like the other girls and I just know she’s dancing in heaven.  And probably wearing a pufferbelly dress, too.


When you have two babies, and one dies

You get things like this in the mail on the same day (yesterday):


A kind note from the Dragonfly Project whose mission is to comfort families who have lost a child, and an equally thoughtful note from the Elizabeth Ministries group at our church welcoming Valencia into the church after her baptism.


And that’s just the way it is.

On Sunday Anabella came upstairs with puffy red eyes and said so earnestly and with such great confusion, “I really don’t understand why God made her and gave her to us if he was just going to take her away so soon.”  She repeated it a few times and was genuinely perplexed.  It made no sense to her.  I talked to her for a while.  We talked about how God created Laurencia and how I don’t think it was God who caused her issues but she wasn’t healed perhaps for many reasons, some we may never know until we meet him face to face, some might be very profound and hard to comprehend at this time.  Some, I told her, might involve showing us a path to Heaven or giving us a reason to not be afraid to go there one day.  I talked about how our lives have spectacular value no matter how many minutes or years we live.  I wasn’t feeling particularly clear on the answers myself so I didn’t fake an answer.  Sometimes I just tell the kids, “I don’t know.”  Because I don’t.  I do know where Bella’s question came from though.  Part of it came from her basic understanding that babies are just beginning their lives.  And part of it came from that part of her that is innate, that part that caused her to snuggle and cuddle her baby dolls when she was a toddler.  It came from her instincts.  Babies belong with their mothers.

Today I read a blog post from a friend of mine ( who adopted a child not long ago.  She was brave enough to speak her heart about orphans and adoption.  In essence, she talks of how every baby belongs with his or her mother and calls this the “Plan A”.  Every baby.  That is what God intended when we were created.  My friend, Lora, was talking about how after the terrible tragedy of a child being orphaned, adoption is the Plan B, a BEAUTIFUL, NOBLE, wonderful plan all in itself.  A plan God himself commissioned and sanctioned.  But it can never be Plan A.  While it isn’t exactly the same, a baby dying and a child being orphaned, both are great tragedies.  And when tragedy befalls us, Plan A doesn’t always work out.  I don’t know why Laurencia isn’t sleeping on my chest just as her sister is right now.  I don’t know why she only got to be here for 15 minutes.  We are told, however, that when she was formed she did not have anencephaly, in other words, it wasn’t Plan A.  That happened later and when it did I believe God allowed her come to him for many reasons.  Her Plan B is glorious, amazing, beautiful, she is with Jesus.  It all gets a bit confusing to me, what is God’s will and what things are the result of sin.  I agree with Lora, that God never intended for a mother to abandon her child or for circumstances to be such that a child should be or must be given up.  I also believe that God did not intend for my sweet Laurencia to have anencephaly.

I’m doing the best I can trying to answer the kids’ questions and trying to find peace myself.  Because I’m human and because I’m a momma, I will probably never fully understand or have a perfect answer for Bella.  It’s still true that focusing on Valencia’s good health keeps me going and likewise focusing on the beauty of Laurencia’s eternal life brings me comfort.  But there will always be a part of me that wishes she could have stayed here with me.  I know it’s different than what Lora was talking about and I hope she doesn’t mind my finding parallels.  Laurencia did in a way get to have her Plan A fulfilled.  I just wish it was for longer.  We must all leave this earth, dying is a part of our lives, not a separate plan or path, but it somehow doesn’t ever seem right that a tiny little baby, who just came from its mother, should be anywhere other than in her arms.


(Laurencia in my arms)

Valencia’s photoshoot

About a month ago I had my niece, Katrina, take photos of Valencia.  I brought along some dollies and one of Lencia’s lambies for her to hold in some of the photos as a little reminder of her sister.  She was being a baby 🙂 so it was tricky to get pics but here are some of them.  Little turkey is always sticking her tongue out, more like letting it hang out as in “blaaaah, I’m so sleepy I can’t even close my mouth”.  And by “sleepy” I mean during the day.  She is still not sleeping at night but is healthy and growing.  She hasn’t been back to the doctor yet so I’m not sure how much she weighs but judging by her new double chin and the almost-chub on her thighs I’d say she’s doing fine.  She’s still pretty little and hasn’t come near her Papa’s “four roll (on the thighs) minimum” but she’ll get there no doubt.  Thanks Trina for ‘capturing the spirit’ of my little lady Valencia.  Trina’s photography website:

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Valencia’s Baptism


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in
the  name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28: 19

Valencia Katerina Witschen was baptized on Saturday, November 16 after the 5pm mass.  Her sister, Laurencia, was baptized in the delivery (operating) room by my sister, Laurencia’s godmother, Laura.  I wrote on here about how Laura baptized Laurencia with her own tears.


(My sister, Laura hugging Laurencia’s other namesake, Rachie and Rachie’s hubby, Billy in the back of church)

I only recently found out that Auntie Laura was frantic after she got into the O.R. to witness the delivery because she had no idea where she was going to get water.  Laur told me that she was extremely concerned and only after holding Laurencia and realizing that her tears were falling on her goddaughter did it occur to her that she could use her tears.  And so Laurencia was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit only moments before she joined Jesus.  I thank God for that gift.  We did not baptize Valencia in the hospital because we just knew she was going to be ok.  And she was!  And is!  So Saturday was her turn.

Valencia’s godparents are my good friend, Janelle and my brother-in-law Matt.  Sadly, Uncle Matt is presently out at sea (he’s a merchant marine, cool right?) and we missed him at the baptism but I have no doubts he will be the best godfather to Valencia.  Janelle and I have been friends since my first year in college (1993).  She can remember Laura’s first baby, our niece Katrina, coming to visit us when Trina was just one year old–she is now 19!  I was telling some of my family at the baptism that Janelle and I became friends after I went to her dorm room one evening to study and I spied a poster with a pro-life message on it.  We’ve been friends ever since.


However, we hadn’t seen one another for about 12 years until last January when Matt and I went to visit Janelle and her hubby, Tony.  It was during that visit that I asked Janelle to be the godmother of the new baby in my tummy that I had just learned of.  At that time even my family did not know I was pregnant and Matt and I had no idea what was to come.  I recall at the hotel laughing about how I already had heartburn (I was only about 4 weeks pregnant) and wouldn’t it be crazy if we had twins again?


Janelle graciously accepted.  When we found out about the girls she was one of the first people to know.  I do believe that in the past year Nellie may have shed almost as many tears as I have.  She loved Valencia and Laurencia before they were even born.  She has prayed, visited (from far away!!), supported and loved us in so many ways.  She showed up again on Saturday with Tony after traveling all day and I put her right to work changing little Miss V into her baptismal gown.


Mae crashed into a table and Lencia decided she needed her voice to be heard on her special day.  Both at the same time, of course.  What’s new?


Meanwhile, the cousins were squirreling around in the back of church before the ceremony began.  I love these kids.  They exude joy, especially when they are together, and always when they are together.  There are some in here from Laura’s crew and some from Pete’s crew.  We are always doing kid trades and finding them all at their own houses on any given weekend is quite rare.  They usually start to join the kid swap somewhere around age 4.  I think Mae is ready now though (see photo above) c’mon, why not guys?

cousins in church

Valencia is not wearing the gown that all four of my other girls wore.  Rather, she is wearing a gown lovingly made by my cousin’s wife Angie’s mother (got that?).  Thank you Angie’s momma!  Such a precious gift.


Angie’s mom also made an identical gown for Laurencia, who was buried in her gown.  This was the gown that caused Polly to exclaim that Laurencia looked like a queen the day we buried her.  It was pretty much impossible not to think of Laurencia a lot in the days leading up to the baptism.  I was somewhat obsessed with finally hanging the photo that Tessi gave me, the little feet image from Dee Dee and a candle and my favorite photo of my girl.


I don’t need these things in my living room to remember my baby.  I think of her throughout the day so often.  Also, looking at Valencia while I’m feeding her reminds me so much of her sister lately.


(sweet little birthstone bracelet given to Valencia before her baptism by her godmother)

Last week we received a beautiful gift from Paul and Jacque which included this little box that I set next to Laurencia’s picture, and a book.


The book is called, “Wherever You Are”.  It talks about how my love will follow my baby wherever she is.  “My love is so high, and so wide and so deep, it’s always right there, even when you’re asleep”.  On the page accompanying this part of the book, there is an illustration of a some lambs and a person embracing one of them.  The last page reads, “You are my angel, my darling, my star…and my love will find you, wherever you are.”  Every single day I tell Laurencia how much I love her and how much I would have loved to have her here, even if she joined her sister in keeping me up all night, every night 🙂

We have lots of little lambies and they always remind me of Laurencia.  Recently another friend gave us a musical lamb which is identical to the one we buried Laurencia with, only bigger.  I had been meaning to go buy one for Valencia and so it was very special to receive it.  Thank you so much Katy!  I also finally bought the little recorder for another stuffed lamb that I bought Valencia and I recorded Laurencia’s heartbeat on it from the recording I made while the girls were being monitored in the hospital.  I often wondered prior to the girls being born if these types reminders would be too sad or too hard but I am so grateful to have them now.

During the ceremony little Valencia just smiled as the water was poured over her head.  Then we all made the sign of the cross on her forehead.




kids sign of cross on lencie


family with nellie

Katrina took these photos of our church and the statue of St. Michael the Archangel which sits outside.  The evening was misty which made the illumination of the cross so beautiful.  Trina is such a talented photographer and I think I have permission from her to use these!


Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

How many times we said this prayer during our trials.  And he did defend us.  We never lost hope, we never lost faith.  As I’ve said so many times, Laurencia, just like her name, was victorious and no matter how much it hurts to have lost her, she won.

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!


Most of my family attended the baptism and came to our house afterward.  I was frantic as usual trying to get all of the food out and ready but Laura snapped a few pics of everyone crammed into my tiny living room.


So here we all are, on the other side of our most difficult battles thus far.  Pete and Nellie brought their ENTIRE family, that means baby Benedict.  Yep, there he is, right there on my very own living room floor!  He is doing superbly.  I guess in my haste to feed the masses I didn’t have time to reflect until later that we dreamed of this day, when we would all (or most of us) be together celebrating rather than grieving.  Yes, God is good.  Of course, I’d rather we were ALL together again but we will be, one day.

To remember our Laurencia on this special day and commemorate her baptism as well, I gave each of my kids a special box with their name on it and the inscription “I’ll Always Be in Your Heart -Laurencia” and we released some lanterns and told Laurencia we loved her.

I told all of the kids to say whatever they would like to her as they let their lanterns drift slowly upward.  Some told her they missed her, some said they hoped she was happy in heaven and some told her they love her.  It had been raining all day but finally stopped and there was an almost eerie mist in the air.  The mist was lit up by the lanterns and it was so calm and so beautiful.  As Rachie and I watched each of the lanterns rise up and leave us, out of sight, I was sad and happy at the same time.  The lanterns were like my girl, a shining little light disappearing from my view but still there somewhere.

out of sight

bella light bella light2      cousins light  daddymommyfirstlight1   hands light hands up light              polly light gabby light bubby light

When they all came back into the house I was sitting on the couch feeding Valencia and the kids were in the garage for a minute rehearsing, then they came in and sang the songs to us that they had sung at the funeral.  They came up with this impromptu concert on their own and it was so special to me and so sweet.  I love that they didn’t forget her.  God bless their little hearts.

singing cousins 2

singing cousins

We are so thankful to have made it to this day.  It’s very hard for me to believe that one year ago I wasn’t even pregnant.  To think about how I was feeling physically and emotionally only three short months ago makes me even more appreciative of days like this when we can celebrate.  Valencia is a miracle and to have her here with us and healthy is a wonderful blessing.  We thank God for entrusting us with her care, promising Him we will do our best for as long as we have her.  We ask Him to do the same with her sister.