Lauren has started Speech Therapy again. She did a few sessions at the end of summer last year but I felt like once we had some sign language established with her we could just leave it at that and let her develop naturally. We were also still seeing quite a few doctors and specialists and it was just too much. I wanted time with Lauren as a regular little girl. And she did so well just being regular! In September, she slowly became less resistant to trying language and over Christmas Break she picked up a dozen new words. The improvement was amazing. Her trajectory has continued. One month ago, we estimated her number of words at 30-40. A few days ago, I wrote a list of all of the words that Lauren says without prompting and I got up to 75! What an improvement.

In the last few days, the word that we keep hearing is, "Snow!" and it is no wonder why. This is the first real snowfall that she has been able to play in and explore and Matt and I spent many hours outside with her building snowmen and forts, throwing snowballs and making snow angels. While it is a pain for driving, seeing the snow through Lauren's eyes makes it seem so magical.




Lauren's personality seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. I thought I would share some of her latest exploits (that word makes what is going to follow sound huge... it's probably not).

(Umm... she picks most of her own outfits now)

The Story of How We Gave the Starbucks Barista a Heart Attack

Picking Lauren up from daycare the other day while under the cloud of Lauren's terrible cold from last week (the girl loves to give), I decided that I couldn't make it all the way home without hitting up the Starbucks drive thru and getting myself a hot chocolate. Lauren lately has learned the words "hot chocolate" so she needed one as well or she might lose her mind repeating "Choc?! Choc?!" over and over again from the backseat. I went through and ordered the two drinks, paid and was handed the cups by the young barista. I did this while forgetting that Lauren had started watching Finding Nemo (her recent favourite). I was reminded and the barista found out and almost threw himself out of the window to look into the backseat when she screamed AS LOUD AS SHE POSSIBLY COULD! There's one scene, right near the beginning of the movie, when Nemo has just touched the "butt" aka boat and then the diver shows up to scoop him up. The fish kids all scream and so does my child. I'm used to it in the house (though when she did it while I was cutting her toe nails the other day, I thought I had accidentally cut one of her toes off with the baby safety clippers which would be incredibly impressive), but in public, I should probably make sure that we have fast forwarded past that scene so I don't need to try to peel people down off of the exterior of our car.

The Story of Bedtime with Lauren and her Nose

This last cold that Lauren had introduced her to her nose and the possibility that she can pick it. Ugh. We are trying to discourage it but she seems pretty keen on it. I was putting her down for sleep, we had read her books, prayed, turned off the lights and were having a two minute cuddle before I would put her down in her crib. Usually she spends that time sucking her two fingers and playing with my ear with her free hand. This night she wasn't touching my ear but I could feel her playing with something. I looked down and, in the dim light, saw that she had her playing finger rammed up her nose. Our ensuing conversation went like this:

A: Lauren, stop picking your nose.
L: (Waving now) Hi!
A: No, stop picking your nose.
L: (Still waving) Hi!
A: Not hi. No nose picking.
L: (Lots of waving) Hi! Hi!
A: (Resigned) Hi Lauren.
L: (Stops picking nose) Hi.

The Story of How Lauren Got Tired in the Grocery Store

Enough said.

And some more images to explain our life lately...

She has learned how to climb in here by herself. It freaks me out. She rocks side to side like she's in a ride.

Loves it!

This is why we go through tape like it is going out of style in this house.

Lauren loves to be a kitchen helper... but turning the mixer on high speed with flour in it is not helpful. Uh oh!

And Lauren has figured out how to undress herself. I stopped her before the diaper came off but I can tell, I'm going to have to keep a pretty close eye on her!

The Story of Lauren's Sorry

I think my favourite word to hear from Lauren is sorry. Not because I always want her to be sorry, but the way she says it is just so cute. I might learn not to like it quite so much though. The other night I was cleaning up in the kitchen and she was in the living room watching, you guessed it, Finding Nemo. Suddenly she was in the kitchen saying, "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry..." on repeat. I told her, "It's okay. There's nothing to be sorry about." But I wondered. She kept saying it back in the living room so I headed in. She had taken her milk mug off of the dinner table and brought it into the living room on the ottoman. However, she had essentially exploded the mug during placement and milk was everywhere. There wasn't even that much in the mug but apparently the mug was of Biblical proportions and there was more and more than should have been possible. The sorrys continued. I told her it was no problem and I went to get some water and towels to wipe it up. When I knelt down, listening to "Sorry" the whole time, she got down beside me with one of her little towels and started to wipe the carpet as well. No problem, little one. No problem.



Lauren spent her actual birthday sick on the couch with Aunty Elysha. This cold has knocked her down like no other. Right now she is sleeping away, absolutely smothered in Vicks Vaporub because her coughing is so intense but her heart meds stop her from being able to use many of the medications that children would normally use. So pine tree smelling baby it is.  

Lauren has changed so much in the last year and I wanted to capture who she is now so I made a list of questions and I will get her to fill these in each year as she grows. Here is Lauren's Two Year Birthday Round Up!

If you like this idea, I've made a pdf that you can download to use with your own little ones. 



I remember being so excited when Lauren made it to one year old because there were times when we thought that she might not make it. This week, Lauren turned two. What a victory!

We celebrated with a party with her friends on Sunday that was a lot of fun but, unfortunately, Lauren woke up from her nap feeling super sick. She was not herself for the first party of the party but managed to liven up when she got to open presents and eat cake. Surprise, surprise. We had been so excited for her party because we rented a bouncy castle for her to play in and I was worried that she wouldn't get to enjoy it. I guess the sugar gave her the energy that she needed to go in and jump like a crazy person and she ended up having a lot of fun.

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and to everyone who has helped Lauren get to this point in her life, either through your physical presence, your support or your prayers. We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love our little girl. 


IT'S A...

This morning Elysha and I called the doctor's to find out the gender of the baby. The conversation went like this:

A: Hi, I was told that you would have the results of my ultrasound today.
Office: Oh, yes, it's right here.
A: I was just hoping that you could tell me, NO, NOT ME, my sister, if it is a boy or a girl.
Office: Your sister?
A: Yes, just a second. Please don't say anything just yet!
E: (Picks up phone) Hi. One second - Amanda, get out of here so you can't see my face.

And I spent the rest of the day feeling nauseous with anticipation.

Elysha put together a special little package for Matt and I to open which would reveal the gender of the baby.

She got Lauren to help by holding a sign up and taking a picture. Lauren pretty much refuses to smile or look at a camera so if you look closely, you can see that she is sitting there with a chocolate in her mouth to make her more agreeable. Whatever works I guess.

I was nervous even before we opened the box. I don't know if it is obvious.

And I tried to Photoshop it out but there are no hiding the tears of happiness in my eyes. 

So we get to do it again with another little girl. 19 weeks and counting! Now we just have to start thinking of names. That'll be a fun decision. It is hard to find names that sound nice with our Arneill.



Today we went for our 20 week ultrasound. It was a big deal and I've been waiting for it for so long (well, approximately 8 weeks). With Lauren we had so many ultrasounds because she was measuring so small and needed to be monitored. I felt like I knew her so early on. With Baby Number 2, I feel him or her kicking and wiggling and I have that connection with Number 2 but no recent pictures.... Until now!

With Lauren having had such a rare birth defect and following the story of a friend from high school who has found out that the baby that she is pregnant with has Full Trisomy 18, I started to get scared. There were things that could be wrong with the baby that I didn't even know about, things I didn't even know were possible. And then it hit me, I have fallen back into my lifelong habit of worrying about things and, when I do that, I am attempting to control the uncontrollable. Worrying won't change anything but it is like a well worn sweatshirt that I throw on much too easily (or should I say well worn sweatpants because that is what I usually throw on).

When Lauren was at her sickest, with her unmoving heart, we gave our worries over to God, but these stupid, inconsequential daily worries I cling to like a life raft, like something that I own. It seems so ridiculous to me that I can hand over my child's life to His hands, but not my day. I realized that day to day, I trick myself into thinking that I can control the things that I worry about because they aren't as obviously out of my control. But, really, they are. 

The friend who is miraculously in her 38th week of pregnancy with her child with Trisomy 18 has also started a blog about her journey and she is showing so much of that grace and surrender that I want to live in again. I would encourage you to read her story, Finding Joy in the Desert, starting with the first post, The Journey, but I warn you that you will need Kleenex and strength. Her strength is obvious and I would ask that those of you who have prayed for Lauren and continue to pray for her complete healing, will add Samuel and his family to your prayer list. Prayer brought us miracles that we thought were impossible (for us, but not for God) and we are praying for the same extreme miracles from God for Samuel. 

Today we saw our little one. While we don't find out until Wednesday if Number 2 is a boy or a girl, we saw that our active little one has all the limbs that he or she should have and a nice strong heartbeat. Tomorrow I go for another ultrasound to really look at the baby's heart and I'm so excited to get to come face to face with Number 2 again. And while not all of our questions are answered, and never will be because we don't know what the future holds for us, I will try to work to hand over all of my worries and fears to God and just live in the present, seeing the joy that is right there in front of me. Because there is so much joy there.

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